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RAW Settles For a "C" 
June 21, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


I had a bitch of a time trying to formulate an over-riding theme/thesis for last night's RAW. The show was an odd mix of palatable, tolerable, fast-forwardable, and forgettable; kind of all over the spectrum, but only provided your spectrum is extremely narrow, and limited to the very middle section of a greater spectrum. RAW never quite maintained any real momentum -- either in a good way or a bad way -- for any appreciable stretch of time. 
You had a wedding that wasn't nearly as spectacularly bad as I'd feared... but instead, it was just utterly boring, bland, forgettable, and anticlimactic. How am I supposed to work with that?

Then you had a main event that wasn't given nearly enough time to develop into anything decent, and which was supplanted by a replacement 

main event that ALSO didn't really have any time to develop. It's enough to make me wish that I'd put a conversation I had on Saturday night into yesterday's column, because even 3 days ago, I was wondering out loud to any dilettante who wanted to pick my brain why WWE wouldn't just do a Michaels/Batista vs. HHH/Angle tag team main event on RAW. Point being that instead of booking One Good Match, RAW squeezed two pointless matches into that same amount of time, and AGAIN, I don't have anything particularly memorable to work with.

You had one unexpected title match that ended with a mildly surprising change, but then that was offset by an unexpected title match that ended in an asininely, anti-climactically one-sided squash. You had Victoria making mincemeat of one Useless Diva, but that was offset moments later by the introduction of 8 more Potential Useless Divas. You had Chris Master being given the night off, but that was offset by Viscera being given an even grander stage upon which to suck.

RAW's highs were generally not very high. RAW's lows (well, other than Vis) were more just annoying than outright bad. It was a night that, even just 15 hours later, I'm having a hard time remembering for the purposes of recappening. It's like RAW just decided to be utterly average for one week: it worked hard enough to avoid falling behind, but it sure didn't care about showing off. It was satisfied with a "C," with being right there in the meaty part of the bell curve where it would blend in with its surroundings and hope not to be noticed.

Maybe the overriding theme would just be that last night's show was a lesson in limp, flaccid, forgettable, but ultimately-inoffensive, television? Yeah, that's it: last night's RAW was the Jay Leno of pro wrestling.

In fact, the comparison goes one step further: because just like Jay Leno serves no purpose to society other than to allow people to get the word out on upcoming movies and TV show, last night's RAW accomplished only one thing.... it reminded me that, lameness of storylines aside, there ARE a bunch of matches on Sunday's Vengeance PPV that I do kinda want to see. Much like Adam Sandler plopping down on Jay's couch to remind you about "The Longest Yard" (but NOT to say or do anything to make you particularly EXCITED about it), things like HBK/Angle and Jericho/Christian/Cena had little cameos on RAW last night to remind me that they might make Vengeance worth my time this weekend, even if they aren't being particularly entertaining right now.

What do you think? Did I work too hard for the analogy? Hey, it's like I said: I had a real hard time figuring out what Grand Theoretical Preramble I'd be able to do here today.... and this is one that kind of occurred to me last night as I was slowly drowsing to sleep. I tend to think it fits... read on, get the full RAW results, and see if you agree:

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Phoenix, AZ, where Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are stoked for a New Draft Lottery Pick, Batista vs. Angle, and the Lita/Edge Wedding. Well, 2 our of 3 ain't bad, I guess... and we don't have any chance to process the information because...

The Chump is Here

John Cena hits the ring to a "loud ovation." But also one that was at least partially mixed: I wouldn't be me if I didn't notice how a nice under-current of about 15% boos is audible (especially after the cheers peak with girlish squeals and then start to peter out to reveal the jeers right at the very end of each pop). It doesn't seem like it'd be a hard problem to fix, but WWE insists on sending Cena out there to pander, pathetically, to audiences, and there's always gonna be a core group of people in the crowd who don't feel like being patronized. Cena's character seems to be one that is supremely confident of his own Irrepressible Appeal to the point that anything he says or does will be instantly beloved. Except that everything Cena does is a sort of clownish, fake caricature done without an iota of irony or wink-wink-nudge-nudge like he knows he's just kidding around. It's like the embryonic stages of The Rock during the summer of 2003, when he was ostensibly a babyface, but was getting booed roundly for shit like the Jimmy Leg. Or it's like if I constantly wrote in ALL CAPS with TONS OF TILDE BANGS~!~!~! and wasn't doing it just to make fun of people who actually write like that on purpose. Cena, the Character, just seems utterly unaware of his surroundings and his proper place in those surroundings, and while that might play with the fangirls or the adolescent TRL viewers in the crowd, it's not gonna be a way to craft a real, compelling character that resonates with ALL wrestling fans. Cena, in short, needs to stop acting like a wigger who periodically displays limited traits of a pro wrestler, and needs to start being defined as a pro wrestler who (at MOST) has some Mild Wigger Tendencies. Otherwise, he'll be an anachronistic joke to many fans; you know, just like how Eminem is today, 2 years after his last flirtation with pop culture relevance.

End Rant. Begin Recap.

So anyway, Cena hits the ring, and kisses up to the AZ crowd with a "Wild West" riff delivered with just a little too much intensity and enthusiasm to ring even remotely true. You see: Cena realizes that RAW is JUST LIKE the Wild West, what with the partners backstabbing you and wanting to thrown down whenever you want. He also finds a way to squeeze in a "Big Ups" into his riff, failing to realize that only Retarded Sportstalk Radio Hosts (or guys trying intentionally to be dorky, and who thus seem kinda cool, like Christian) think that's a hip thing to say anymore here in the Year of Our Lord 2005.

Cena's idea: if RAW's like the Wild West, and RAW's IN the Wild West, why don't that have them a shootout here tonight? Why wait till Vengeance? Christian wants to run his mouth, Jericho wants to make this personal, let's just settle this right here, right now. And although that's an engraved invitation to Jericho and Christian, they aren't coming out. And instead....

It's Muhammad Hassan. Hassan and Daivari get themselves face-to-face with Cena, and also procure a microphone. Hassan immediately accuses Cena of whining about things when he's got no excuse complaining about anything. He's got a title belt, when he came to RAW, they "welcomed you" (hilariously, my brain KNEW Hassan said "welcomed you," but my ears SWEAR they heard "welcomed Jew"; and the truth about Hassan comes out!), and I've been discriminated against, I've never gotten a title shot, I've...

And then Cena cuts him off, mid-laundry list, by speaking in an allegedly funny voice and picking up on Hassan's complaints. He does one or two "serious" Hassan complaints, but because Cena continues to steal from the Rock's Playbook of Obnoxiousness, he brings it all home by positing a scenario in which Hassan is tied to a post while Daivari spanks him. Half the crowd laughs, one quarter of the crowd rolls its eyeballs, one quarter of the crowd wonders how come there was no gerbil involved in the Spanking Scenario. Whee.

This little joke, of course, gets under Hassan's skin, and as the hostility seems on the brink of turning physical, Eric Bischoff steps out an interrupts. He says that John Cena might not be used to having a REAL General Manager, but here on RAW, Eric Bischoff calls the shots and makes the matches... and if Cena's thinking about throwing down with Hassan, well then Bischoff thinks that he oughta put his WWE Title on the line. Cena delivers another hokey line about how he fought and sacrificed for his chain gang and blah blah blah, he'll fight and sacrifice to keep his title, so he's OK with a title match. In fact, Cena thinks they should do this thang right now.

But Hassan has ritualistic preparations to make, and Allah will not permit him to wrestled until later. So he shoves Daivari into Cena's clutches, and then beats a hasty retreat, so as to fight later on in the show. I guess an effective enough opening segment to create what should be an interesting match... but Cena's still coming off like a cartoon character instead of a regular guy; just like last week, when he made up for a lack of in-ring smoothness with intensity, that's what his promo work tonight seemed like... he's not got the best source material to work with, so he just tries really hard to CRAM IT down our throats with a delivery that seems a bit forced and fake. Which I guess makes sense if WWE's new philosophy is "Style Over Substance"; they can keep it up as long as they are content to have vague under-currents of boos for Cena (varying a bit depending on what parts of the country/world they are in) from assholes not unlike me who are not so easily hoodwinked.


Eric Bischoff's Lucky (Third) Strike

We return from the break to find Eric Bischoff now standing in the ring alone... and he's ready to introduce us to RAW's third Draft Lottery Pick. And once again, Bischoff is amazed at his good fortune, and thinks we'll all be impressed, too.

But before we get to that, Bischoff says he'd like to bring out another man: the "Crown Jewel" of last year's Draft Lottery, Shelton Benjamin. Out comes Shelton, and Bischoff immediately starts laying it on pretty thick with regards to the instant impact Shelton made last year and how he's the longest-reigning IC Champ in a decade... which makes Bischoff think back to how Shelton won the IC Belt back at Taboo Tuesday as a "surprise challenger" voted upon by the fans... so Bischoff thought that it might be interesting if....

And Shelton cuts him off right there, announcing that we don't need another boring Eric Bischoff speech. [Big Pop.] Shelton sees where Bischoff is going, and if Bischoff wants Shelton to fight the latest Draft Lottery pick without knowing who it is, that's just fine with Shelton. He's a fighting champ, and always has been. Bischoff admits that, yeah, that's kinda the idea he had. And Shelton's gonna make it happen, so let's find out who the challenger to the IC Title is gonna be....

Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito Cool (IC Title Match)

Well, if you WERE gonna try to sneak Charlie Haas in as a Lotto Pick, this is exactly where I'd have done it. By hotshotting him directly into a sweet storyline to cover up the fact that without this one single storyline, he'd be worthless. But no: Carlito. Which ain't bad, but does strike me as an opportunity missed.

Carlito gets a nice Recognition Pop from the crowd. But Jim Ross doesn't seem to recognize Carlito. Either that, or JR was willfully trying to change Carlito's name.... because from the get-go and all match long, JR was calling him "Caribbean Cool Carlito." Which is even a more annoying monicker than "Carlito Caribbean Cool," if you ask me. Just do like I said right after the first Carlito vignettes started airing last fall: make it "Carlito Cool" and be done with it. There's no reason for "Caribbean" to be in there at all. [Also: JR keeps referring to Carlito as a "second generation superstar," which I think is funny only because I'd LOVE to know what percentage of idiot fans out there are wondering if Razor Ramon was his dad. Tee hee.]

Match starts, and Shelton is coming on strong. To the point where Carlito decides to bail out of the ring and regroup. But when he gets back in the ring, Shelton's still bringing the house. So Carlito bails out again. Back in the ring, and it's a matter of about 15 seconds before Carlito decides to bail out a third time. And this time, Shelton has had enough, so he gets a running start and tries to nail Carlito with a no-hands plancha.

Except that Shelton might have gone over the ropes without touching them with his hands... but he DID catch the ropes with his left knee, and the result was that he went crashing to the floor awkwardly, just managing to roll so that he took the impact on his shoulder and upper back instead of on his head. Although he only grazed Carlito, Carlito went down, too. The ref, seeing the ugliness, immediately goes out to check on Shelton (and just as quickly gives the Single Fist of Non-Injury, the much-more-beloved brother of the Dreaded X of Debilitating Injury)... but since both men are down, it is deemed a good opportunity to sneak in some....


Back, and Carlito is in control of the match... he works it for about 2 minutes or so, but Shelton shows signs of life by ducking one clothesline, bouncing back off the ropes, and having one of his own ready for Carlito. Problem is that Carlito reloaded, too, so BOTH men at clotheslines. And so both men are down in what has to be about as Time Compressed a Double Countout as I can recall recently. Even counting the ad break, the match can't be more than 5-6 minutes old...

But both guys are up at 7, acting as though they have been through a war. They start throwing fists, and Shelton gains the advantage in that exchange. After securing the edge, Shelton ramps up the offense for more High Energy stuff. Slams, backdrops, etc. Then he gets cocky and tries to go to the top rope... but Carlito catches him, and knocks his leg out. Shelton crotches himself on the top, and Carlito tries to set up for a Superplex. But Shelton's having none of that: with Benoit now safely relocated to SD!, Benjamin steals page directly out of Benoit's book by bludgeoning away at Carlito's neck and shoulder with headbutts until Carlito falls backwards off the ropes. Shelton is then able to follow up with a top rope clothesline (but not after briefly stumbling on his way back up top, which the announcers sold as part of the after effects of Shelton's crazy-ass missed plancha; and to be honest, Shelton stumbled a few other times in subtle, unexpected spots, and I had to wonder if maybe they were "selling" it as much as they were just pointing out the real reason why Shelton was at less than 100%).

Benjamin seemed to be in control after the top rope clothesline, but Carlito is nothing if not crafty. So after Shelton scored a few nearfalls with suplexes and roll-ups, Carlito starts his own little rally with a short DDT out of nowhere (even accompanied by the Jake Roberts "Point-to-Brain" gesture, one of the little tiny things that Carlito does that make his ring work seem that much more easy-flowing and natural than many of WWE's other recent call-ups). But Carlito's flurry was short lived when Shelton reversed a roll-up into a pinning combination of his own, and then went on a tear.

Shelton hit another suplex near-fall, went for a Stinger Splash (which Carlito dodged, but Shelton leapt up onto the second rope and turned the missed splash into a flying sunset flip for another near fall), hit a Samoan Drop, and then was trying to manuever Carlito into a German Suplex. But Carlito was near enough to the ropes to grab those for leverage, and turned the German into a front roll and a pinning combination on Shelton. And Carlito used the ropes as he held Shelton down for the three count! He cheated, but he's the new IC Champ! Probably 8-9 minutes, and I like both guys enough that I had fun with this... but I also think that it was far from the best they are capable of together: too slow and "time compressed" for the first 5-6 minutes to be convincing for the last 3 minutes, which were a lot more exciting. There are ways to do good 9 minute TV matches, but this wasn't really the template for that: the placement of the ad break alone meant this wouldn't click much with the home viewers. Not bad at all: but I'm more excited by the fact that Carlito's win means Shelton will get a PPV rematch and they'll have the time to have the really good version of this match there.

Also: not to harp on this, but imagine the exact same story playing out, just with Charlie Haas. And tell me that that wouldn't have been a better use of talent. Carlito would be fine sticking on SD! in a feud with Booker.... he'd still be over. But without a jump to RAW and a feud with his old partner, Haas is doomed to another year of underutilization on SD!. The pragmatic utilitarian in me can't help but crunch the numbers and have a vague sense of disappointment here...


Backstage: Edge is getting gussied up for his wedding. Christ, are those ugly-ass shirts with the white collar/cuffs really coming back? Edge this week, Angle last week... I think I wore one of those for my eight-grade yearbook picture thinking I was Donald Trump, but I think they were (with good reason) hilariously out-of-style by the time I showed up for ninth grade. Who in the blue hell is deciding what's cool? What are their credentials? And can we just fast-forward another year or two and get to the part where Grunge is the height of fashion again?

Elsewhere Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand continued her routine of acting as stupid as humanly possible. Which for her, is pretty stupid. She tracked down Carlito and asked him "You just ended Shelton's 8 month IC Title reign. How'd you do it?"... Carlito looked briefly confused, and said, "Um, I pinned him, 1-2-3, that's how." Then he grabbed the mic away from Maria and told her to go eat an apple. So Maria disappeared. Carlito proceeded to rant about how this is just like his debut on SD! (when he won the US Title in his first match), and how he'll have the same success on RAW, and prove to everybody that he's the greatest IC Champ ever. So plus 10 for drawing the comparison to his US Title win; but minus several million for not letting Carlito remind us that it was CENA that he beat for that title. We must protect the public image of the precious little wigger! Maria then returned, with an apple and a dim little smile. Carlito took the apple. Paused. Took a bite. Paused again. Looked at Maria. Paused to look tormented. And then decided, "This is too easy, but if she's still here with that blank stare on her face, then what's about to happen to her is her own fault." And then spat the apple all over Maria. Proving that I'm honing my Inner Lawler Device, I mentally placed the odds that Jerry would register a half-entendre about how rude it was that Carlito got apple in Maria's hair at about 3:5. Turns out it took Lawler less than 2 seconds to make me look like a genius for not exactly making that a longshot...

Viscera vs. Simon Dean

No way you get a real recap here. Allow me to Kellerize this match for your nonjoyment:

Dean made some unfunny fat jokes. Viscera squashed him in about 2 minutes, taking time to sodomize Dean in the middle of the ring. And then after the match, Horny Ring Announcer Lillian Garcia got in the ring and threw herself at Horny Vis. The implication is that Sunday in Vegas for the PPV, Lillian and Vis will get married and consummate the marriage. Awful segment, with nothing but awful future prospects.

Video Package: the exact same shitty-ass Diva Search 2005 Casting Call Segment that had no business running this week. So they run it again this week. Fast Forward, here I come.


Backstage: Tough Questions Todd Grisham DEMANDS Continuity from his guest tonight, Chris Jericho. Sadly, TQTG does NOT also grill Y2J on why he's wearing faggoty costume jewelry tonight. So anyway, Jericho, Todd would like you to please explain why you suddenly seem re-energized when it comes to pro wrestling. Jericho's answer? Well, it's simple and logical enough, I guess... Jericho says he's simply made wrestling exciting for himself again, by making John Cena into a marked man. Jericho says that he's realized that it's been 3 years since he's had a one-on-one World Title match, but now that he's got that opportunity ahead of him, he's energized to capitalize on it. Interesting observation: Ummm, Jericho, you DON'T have a one-on-one title match at Vengeance. At least, not as things stand now. Simple logic flub? Or might Jericho have inadvertently telegraphed the next SD! Draft Pick (remember, if Christian gets lotteried over to SD! this week, and loses his WWE Title Shot as a result, you know where you read it first! In last week's RAW Recap!)? Jericho then went off on the one riff I didn't like in this mini-interview: he made the cheesy, fakey observation that if he can beat Cena for the WWE Title, then it would spell the end of Cena's record sales and the beginning of Fozzy's. Or something. Let's just leave that crap out of it, OK? I always get deeply annoyed when Dan Akroyd or Bruce Willis insist on "sitting in with the band" when they go on talk shows, and the less my pro wrestlers try to shoehorn their music hobby into my wrestling shows, the better, OK? I'm not buying either of your records, and neither are 99% of the rest of the wrestling audience. Deal. Although, for shits and giggles, I really do want to see a live Fozzy show some day.

Finally, Christian has heard enough about Jericho and record sales and all that. He appears from just off screen to accuse Jericho of over-looking people. Like how he's over looking Muhammad Hassan tonight, and how it might not even be John Cena in the title match at Vengeance. And how Jericho's overlooked Christian constantly for almost 2 years, and how Jericho's paid for it every time, including getting beat at WM20. ZING~! So Christian say Jericho can keep on overlooking people, and keep on playing Rock Star, hoping to go Platinum someday. And while that's happening, Christian will be going Gold at Vengeance when he wins the WWE Title. Double ZING~! Oh, and one more thing from Christian to both Jericho AND John Cena: "Both of you, and both of your albums SUCK." Babyface pop for that, and I do believe you can reference my closing three sentences in the above paragraph for your reason why. Only about a 90 second mini-interview (this really should have been handled in long-form on the Highlight Reel, I think), but it did serve to remind me that I'm more interested in the outcome of the WWE Title match on Sunday than I am in the World Title Match. That's the first time I've felt that way in about a year, I think...

Video Package: Hell in the Cell is a brutal match. And HHH owns it. Was this a repeat from last week, too? Christ, they're doing the exact same thing as last week: stacking pointless crap on top of pointless crap. Jericho and Christian might have just brought the gOOdness, but what difference does it make if its bracketed by stuff like this which invites you to flip away?

Backstage: Kurt Angle and Eric Bischoff are hanging out watching a monitor. I guess they aren't watching RAW. Either that, or they both resist the urge to go "Hey, look, that's US on TV!"... instantly, the two men go into Mutual Admiration Mode. And I can't help but think back to two weeks ago when I pegged Angle as a great draftee to RAW for many reasons, one of which was how perfect his relationship with Eric Bischoff could be. Hilarious stuff between the two, as Angle restates his desire to be The Man on RAW, and then talks about his respect for Bischoff, and then Bischoff says he appreciates that since he didn't get any respect from that punk Cena, and then they share a manly handshake, and then Angle even puts his arm around Bischoff for an even more manly half-embrace, and Bischoff is looking like the captain of the chess club who (for reasons not even he understands) is suddenly best buddies with the quarterback of the football team. Funny.

In the Arena: we see the ring has been transformed into a Wedding Chapel of sorts. OK, so is *this* why we just spent 15-20 minutes straight on mostly-fluff? If so, it wasn't worth it. The wedding is next...


"Dearly Beloved, We Are Gathered Here Today To Get Through This Thing Called Suck" Theatre

A professional Hollywood Actor is in the ring, dressed up as a priest. Edge then makes his entrance to his regular theme music, and is decked out in an outfit that is, if I had to label it, Utterly Redonkulous. In other words: perfectly in keeping with the rest of this story. If camp and over-acting are the defining characteristics of this storyline, then it's perfect that Edge thought long and hard to come up with the costume that most totally embodies the quality of "obnoxious, face-slappable toolbox." Then again: the only time a straight male should ever bust out leather pants is when he's doing it as a joke, so the rest of his swanky outfit might even have been comedic overkill.

Then Lita enters to the standard Bridal March, and is also dressed perfectly in keeping with the storyline to date: trampishly. She found the one-piece-dress version of that top she wore twice in the last few months. And jesus, Lawler, get new material: because that's three times she's busted out the same basic cleavage, and that's the third time you busted out the "she's pouring her heart out for us" joke. You hack. Even *I* am not gonna reprise a "double-sided tape" riff for the third time here. Instead, I'll change my game up to note how Lita was clodhopping down the aisle in her high heels, which kind of undid whatever eyeball-riveting her dress might have been responsible for. I ain't big on girlyness, but I got some things hardwired into the ol' brain, and I can't help but register the absence of bare minimum girlyness. Which may not include very many things at all, but it DOES include being able to look good walking in heels. Or to, at the very least, look comfortable. Given Lita's injury prone past, I was terrified she was one step away from breaking an ankle.  

But finally, Lita slowly and carefully heel-toes her way up to the altar, where the priest gets things under way by introducing us to the couple. The crowd responds with "We Want Matt." Then we kick it up to a Video Montage of the Happy Couple. And I'll say this: if the goal is to just be really cheesy and annoying, mission accomplished. Let's just say that as I attend more and more weddings not my own, they tend to fall into one of two categories: examples of how TO throw a wedding, and examples of how NOT to throw on. It's instructional, and I figure that by the time I'm 40 and ready to settle down, I'll have all the experiences I need to throw the ass-kickingest wedding of all times. Except for the part where all my friends will have been retired from drinking and fun-having for a full decade by that point. Oh well.... point is that pretentious slide-shows and video montages of interest to maybe 2% of your wedding attendees is a huge Wedding Reception How Not To. Paste some pictures to posterboard and set it up on an easel in the lobby. And then watch as nobody stops to look at them, because they're here for the party, not for the schmaltz! So I guess kudos to WWE for again finding the perfectly-sucky thing to squeeze into this perfectly-sucky angle. Viva la intentional badness in the form of wedding video montages!

With the montage done, there's more "We Want Matt," and also the start of "Boring" chants as the padre moves us along to the Spoken Word display of Lita and Edge's love. Oh, but wait: before their hand-crafted vows, he says there is a Very Large, Very Strange Looking Man backstage who wants to say something. Lita and Edge feign concern, but as soon as Snitsky arrives on the stage and steps up to the podium, they gesture (in the finest manner of gesturing, Broadly) to indicate "Ha ha, got you suckers, we knew it was Snitsky all along." Snitksy regales the couple with a poem about the many things that are not his fault (including Kane's inability to get an erection, and the dead baby in Lita's uterus). Twas not good and not funny, and only barely rhymed. In other words, further proof that it's the wrong couple getting married here tonight. Because CLEARLY Snitsky and Heidenreich are soul mates.

Snitsky departs to crickets chirping, his act having completely flopped with the live crowd. The priest moves on, saying now it's time for the Vows. Edge goes first, and as the crowd gets worked up into a very loud "Boring" chant (can you blame them?), he talks about how the world knows he's Money in the Bank, but Lita knows he's Money in the Sack. Tee. Hee. And then I think Edge registered the chanting and seemed to wrap up before he'd planned in the middle of same rambling bit about how he's a man, not a monster, or something.

The father turned it over to Lita, and the crowd finally gives up the "boring" chant in favor of a "Slut" chant. Which Lita immediately embraces... she says she's been unlucky in marriage, but not in love, because she's never loved any man like she's loved Edge and she's so happy to have fallen in love with them that she wants the whole world to know that if loving Edge makes her a slut, then she's PROUD to be the slut of the century. That gets a cheap pop, and again, I may think this whole thing is a billion kinds of retarded and question anybody who is deriving any genuine entertainment from it... but I give credit to Lita for realizing that she's playing the biggest whore in the history of wrestling right now, and playing it with relish.

The priest can't believe these strange vows, and seems intent on getting this thing finished as soon as possible. So he goes to the "Speak now, or forever hold your peace" part.... and the crowd perks up, expecting that something's gonna have to happen now. And after a pregnant pause...

Matt Hardy's theme music?!?!? OMG~!~!~?~?~!~!

HUGE pop for that, but after the music plays for 30 seconds with no Matt, it cuts off, and Edge and Lita start laughing. Much like the Snitsky thing, it was all part of their evil plan. Edge says into the mic that "He couldn't help himself," and that he'll explain it to the padre at the reception. The crowd, predictably, is not pleased. And all I can say is: everybody who wrote in talking about how that was in bad taste can kiss my ass. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't, but attributing huge amounts of Real World Significance to a TV Storyline is a sign of a truly weak person with little grasp on reality. What pissed *me* off about it? That for 5-10 seconds, I BELIEVED. I believed that maybe for once WWE was gonna do something to satisfy the fans, rather than continue their adversarial relationship with them. But no: I was naive and stupid for thinking that. I was a made to feel a fool for letting myself care, for letting myself think I was about to be blown away. Because paying off the fans isn't WWE's M.O. these days. This little interlude didn't rub salt in Matt Hardy's wounds, cuz if he's not got his life back on track by this point, it's his own damned fault... it rubbed salt in OURS, because WE are the ones still be betrayed by WWE on a near-weekly basis, and like a spirit-broken punching bag of a wife or like a cuckolded husband, we just keep coming back for more.

Possibly in WWE's defense: this little Matt Hardy interlude was apparently a relatively late addition/change to the wedding segment. Over the weekend, I was hearing that they had something else planned for the middle "run-in." The "something else" may even have been in Phoenix, as far as I know, and at present I don't know why the plan might have changed. But they went with the Matt Theme Music, instead. So before any of us go getting indignant, maybe consider that this might have been a last-second salvage attempt to put SOMEthing in there to pop the crowd. In a way, I think it backfired, since it ended up being even less satisfying than Gene Fricking Snitsky, but if WWE was happy to trick us for those 5 seconds, then kudos to them, I guess.... 

The priest finally decides "enough," and doesn't want any more ruses/surprises.... so he determines that everybody will be holding their peace, and jumps to the "So, by the power vested in me by God, the Father, and by our savior... JESUS CHRIST!"... and with that, we cut to a camera angle of Kane's face poking out of the ring just off to the priest's right. And that last JESUS CHRIST was not in reference to the son of God, but an ejaculation of horror as Kane started crawling up through the ring to grab Lita's ankle.

Edge quickly stepped in and freed Lita, and traded a few blows with Kane. Enough to keep him at bay long enough to beat a hasty retreat. In deference to his still-not-wife's inability to walk in a ladylike fashion while wearing heels, Edge chivalrously decides to CARRY Lita from the ring and to the top of the ramp, where he sets her down and watches as Kane destroys a bunch of flowerpots. OK: so after Snitksy and Heidenreich, Kane needs to find comfort in the manly embrace of Rhyno.

After the initial pop for Kane coming up through the ring, the crowd is mostly silent for Kane's scenery destruction. With good reason: Kane's been a festering vagina the last 2 months, and beating up on props isn't exactly bad-ass. It's kind of bitch-like, actually. Yet Lita and Edge gawk in horror at the devastation. And JR really oversells it (and is also clearly making the mistake of listening to the idiot in his headsets, as he INCESSANTLY repeats the phrase, "Bah gawd, it's as if Kane rose up from the depths of hell"; no, JR, it's like he was hiding under the ring in an attempt to sneak attack the disgusting couple; I don't know if your job security depends on it, but if you can get away with it, do NOT repeat what the voices in the headsets say if you know they are retarded, OK?).

The punchline to the entire bit? Kane ceases his pansified redecoration long enough to notice that the priest is on the mat, cowering in fear. So Kane helps him to his feet. Pauses. And then tombstones the priest. OMG THAT'S SO EXTREME~!~!~! SO EDGY~!~! SO TOTALLY LAME AND ANTICLIMACTIC~!~!~!~! Seriously: shredding some floral arrangements and beating up a 60-year-old priest? This is the best we can do for a big finale? And you do it after teasing the crowd with something that they MIGHT care about (Matt Hardy)? It's yet another week where WWE is practically inviting fans to think less of Kane, and is booking Kane to look as worthless as possible. Forget the "tastelessness" of the Hardy Swerve: it's also wrong just because it hamstrings Kane and meant there was no satisfying pay-off to this over-long skit.

Like I said in the preramble: this wasn't nearly as outright bad as I might have feared. It is the result of extreme badness, no doubt, but the wedding itself seemed a bit more tolerable, with touches of Actual Inspirado (in some of the minor elements like costuming and the video montage).... but then they forgot to have a point, a pay-off, or a climax. The thing just limped home, a completely forgettable 20 minutes of nothing important. Literally nothing happened: Kane didn't wage a vengeful assault, there were no funny/interesting interruptions (only one that was a cheap/easy swerve that was impossible to follow-up upon), Edge and Lita did nothing truly heinous, and at the end of the segment, they also are still Not Married. The opposite of thrilling, that's what this was.


Moments Ago: a bunch of wedding shit that wasn't really worth watching once. Which makes it all the more annoying that we have to sit through 2 minutes of highlights again. Thank god for FF, and I guess this is what we get as they have to put the ring back together again? Given that the wedding had no redeeming qualities, I guess I'm glad they buried it, mid-show, instead of using it as the main event, but the set-up/tear-down of the ring really did create more pacing problems than was worth it, if you ask me.

Backstage: Coach has found Kane, but doesn't even get a word in edgewise before Kane goozles him, throws him to the ground, and then gets up close into the camera to chortle and say, "I'm baaaaaaaaaack." Ugh. Really? Flowers and priests, and you're "back"? Stupid writers: you don't "tell," you SHOW. That's how you do stuff if you got an ounce of respect for your audience's intelligence. But sending Kane out there to show us he's still a wussy incapable of dominating anybody other than eldery priests, and then having him try to TELL us that he's "back"? That's lazy and uncreative, and it won't work on anybody other than the 6th graders who are your apparent intellectual peers, Writer Monkeys. Please try again.

Elsewhere Backstage: Todd Grisham has Spaz for an Attempted Interview. As Spaz has proven she's far from the sharpest knife in the drawer, Todd has helpfully prepared Video Montages to illustrate his questions. Which is good for Spaz, but bad for the rest of us who can remember back 2 or 3 weeks (and who can probably also, unlike Spaz, remember who the Democrats ran for President all the way back in November).... the question Todd wants Spaz to answer is, "So 3 weeks ago, Victoria beat the hell out of you, but then 2 weeks ago, we saw a different, some might say Spazzy, side of you, Christy. What's that gonna mean now that we know you're facing Victoria at Vengeance?" Spaz immediately starts spazzing on Todd, introducing a new character trait of flying into a rage at the mere mention of "that bitch" Victoria. Oy. I'm supposed to find that becoming? But she cools off when she realizes that spazzing on Todd won't accomplish anything, and apologizes for her temper. But you know what they say about girls with pretend red hair: they're apparently really good at pretending to be fiery hellcats. Except Spaz is, sadly, less than convincing here. 

Luckily, here comes Victoria to bail us out. She sneaks up from behind, with some non-descript break-away-glass object, which she crushes between Spaz's shoulderblades. Spaz goes down in a heap, and Victoria says, "Looks like you're right about one thing, Christy. I AM a bitch." And that's a babyface pop in the background that the monkeys in the production truck quickly move to stifle. Victoria leaves, and Grisham gets down on his knees to check on Spaz. He puts a hand under her head, and pulls it out to reveal blood. Because everybody knows that a blow to the upper back is a guaranteed way to lacerate the top of your head! Todd alternates between nice touches of seeming to really care about Christy and doing some really crappy over-acting as he thinks 9-1-1 needs to be called.


Moments Ago: one paragraph ago. Jesus... this time you DID show us. So why the fetish for also TELLING us? Unless you're really just out of ideas for how to fill up 2 hours every week.

Backstage: medics are working on Christy, who has been fitted with a neckbrace and is practically begging for me to make more jokes about the caliber of her mind as she is unable to answer easy questions such as, "Do you remember what happened?" or "Do you know what day of the week it is?". I might muster up some sympathy, if only a Completely and Healthy Non-Concussed Christy hadn't displayed the exact same level of Basic Awareness Of The Obvious back on Howard Stern a few months ago. I'm more concerned that this over-sell of Victoria's attack might be an excuse for Spaz to be so heinously injured that she can't "wrestle" (or approximate it as best she can) at the PPV on Sunday. I fucking wasted my Fantasy WWE Dollars on Spaz for the sole reason that I thought she'd be a relatively cheap way to get me PPV points this week.

John Cena vs. Muhammad Hassan (WWE Title Match)

OK, the ring is apparently fixed, and we still got about 35 minutes of TV time left to do two matches. I'm thinking that prospects are looking good for a strong finish. Maybe 10-12 minutes (and one commercial break) for this one, then another ad break, and then 15-20 minutes for the Batista/Angle match (also containing one ad break). My mood picks up.

And then is quickly quashed. Because hear me now and believe me later: Cena squashed Hassan in under 2 minutes. That's right: John Cena, where carefully build-up heels go to die anticlimactically. First JBL ends 10 months of slowly clawing his way to semi-legitimacy with a shitty 8-minute WM21 loss to Cena. And now, one of RAW's up-and-coming, relatively-bankable (if only because Americans are stupid and predictable) heels meets and even more ignominious fate.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Because those two minutes were ACTION PACKED. Or not. Cena started hot. Hassan went outside, where a distraction from Daivari was enough to turn the tide. About 45 seconds of Slobberknocker Offense from Hassan, but after he hits his Snap Suplex and gets a near fall, Cena decides it's time to Thug Up. He no sells Hassan's punches, and delivers his own, finally taking the advantage.
Other than punches, about the only two moves Cena hits are his Wildman Hiptoss and half-side-slam/half-powerbomb thingie. And to his credit, he appears LOTS smoother this week as he sticks to what he knows. No need to JR to bust out the "unorthodox" label here tonight. Cena's limited offense quickly crescendos as he pauses to knock Daivari off the ring apron, then does a modified "Five Knuckle Shuffle" (modifying it with a special Homage to the Iron Sheik, which counts as one of the very few sparks of Real Wrestler Charisma that Cena's displayed lately; a nice touch, albeit a nice modification of a really gay wrestling move), and immediately follows up with an F-U. And that's it. Like I said, 2 minutes, tops, and 45 seconds of offense for Hassan aside, it broke down to a basic squash. Not good, not memorable, and sure as hell not the way to make use of a heel with Hassan's claim to an "unbeaten streak." His first loss should have meant something and come at the end of a good and important match. Instead: this utterly underwhelming crap. I'm both unentertained AND confused, here: not a good combination.

After the Match: Cena's walking up the ramp and celebrating when Chris Jericho attacks from behind. Christian soon appears, too, and the reunited Canucks take turns stomping on Cena. They aren't necessarily working together, but it's obvious they both hate Cena more than they hate each other. You know: you had TONS of cool possibilities for stuff to do with these three tonight. The Jericho/Christian promo hinted at them, but WWE really didn't follow through. How sweet would it have been to make Cena/Hassan a MUCH more entertaining and satisfying contest by involving Jericho and Christian? Because even if neither really likes Hassan, shouldn't they have wanted to make Cena's match a tortuous one, so that he'd be softened up for Sunday's PPV match? There could, then, have been miscommunications and miscues leading to accidental assistance to Cena, and a breakdown of civility between Jericho and Christian, all kinds of things. And in the end? With the Canadian Chrisses AND Daivari out there at ringside, how hard would it be to come up with some finish that either seems Big And Convincing (if Hassan must lose) or that is schmozzy and protects Hassan's unbeaten streak? A billion alternatives here, and none of them explored because WWE coveted a Two Minute Squash, instead. 


Moments Ago: one paragraph ago. Because apparently, WWE has data indicating its viewers are all as dumb as Orton.

Backstage: Christian has packed his bag and is getting out of the arena in a rush. Odd. Why's be being such a limber-tailed pussy, but Jericho's not? Anyway, Christian is still well-mannered enough that when he spots two Useless Divas (I think one was Stacy, but I'm not sure; and you'd have to pay for months of regression therapy before I could tell you who the other one was), he pauses to remind them to check out Vengeance this Sunday, only on PPV, because he'll be winning the WWE Title. A shameless self-promoter is Christian. Another (not-quite-rhetorical) question: where was The Lovely Miss Tomko tonight? The same place the wedding's Planned Middle Interruption was, mayhap? Or maybe just being kept out of Christian's business on the off-chance that somebody's getting sent-over to SD! without his Problem Solver? A little brain teaser for y'all to ponder, there.... [as a total tangent: as far as SD! draft pick this week goes, Hassan is the only "name wrestler" on RAW who currently has no match for the PPV. So if the trend of only drafting recognizable stars continues, it's either gotta be him, or somebody already booked for Vengeance. And not to toot my own horn, but Christian is one guy who could fit that, since the match he's in could then still go off as a one-on-one, without hurting the event one bit. And he was seemingly divorced from his valet last night. The only other option? Triple H (or Batista), since the Hell in the Cell match is "protected" regardless of draft picks. If Hassan goes, I'm gonna go on record as demanding a Daivari-for-Morgan trade, post haste! But I'm also intrigued by the possibilities if one of those other three shows up on SD! this week... I'm actually gonna pull for Christian, I think. The same basic thing could also work for Jericho, I guess, though then I'm back to wondering why Tomko would have been invisible last night...]

GODDAMMIT, I Knew I Forgot Something

D'oh: we have to Meet the Diva Finalists tonight, too. I had not budgeted for that in my Time Management Comments above. And this is a really long (5-6 minutes) heaping pile of dung. We meet the eight finalists. And WWE is pretty much telegraphing which ones they want you to care about. Because they were the ones who got to establish (what passes for) "personalities"... these included:

The Model Bitch: some chick from Milan who actually said, "Other people tell me I'm beautiful, but I TOTALLY don't have an attitude about it." When asked what her biggest flaw is, she says, "I have too much energy." Oh jesus... want to tell me again how you don't have an attitude, Bimbolina? What's the biggest mistake you've ever made in life? Being born with too-great-an-ass? The thing is, this bitch and I would get a long great: I couldn't stand being in a room with her for more than 2 seconds, and she'd never give a guy like me the time of day! It's a match made in heaven!

The Fake-Boobed Dumb Bitch: some chick from the deep south, who seemed to have the same dazzling intellect and personality as a house plant. The one sentence she seemed capable of spitting out was "Just bring it," (which was her motto for this contest, and so she brought it, and brought it again, and brought it again, until I could have it brought upon me no more without wanting to puncture my own ear drums). Apparently, the fact that she can do the splits means she's the token athletic chick in this group. Michelle McCool, she is not. Also: she should talk to a lawyer about suing whoever did that to her chest. Seriously. 

The Narcissistic Bitch: some chick from Toronto whose defining trait is her Big Overdone Hair. I shit you not: the entirety of this sparkling conversationalist's introduction was her talking about her own hair. And to be honest, it was probably about the least-good-looking thing on her. Tone it down, honey, maybe look into halving your hair budget, and go find the guy downtown in Toronto who got Trish started on such a goodly foot, then check back in next year, OK? You might be what we're looking for at that point...

The Slutty Bitch: some chick who is not afraid to flirt badly and stupidly with anything that has a pulse. This included lap-dancing for Spaz and complimenting Coach on the size of his package, as I recall. Women who are willing to be assertive and have some self-interest in their own happiness: cool. Women who are clearly overcompensating for self-esteem issues by acting like whores to get attention from roomfulls of total strangers: suck.

The Even-Faker-Than-The-Rest-of-These-Bitches Bitch: some blonde chick who's trying really hard to seem like a cool broad with her baseball cap on and her leather and her rock-star attitude. She's clearly trying to be the one girl that a guy like me is supposed to like out of this group of 8. Except that wearing a baseball cap and acting all "in your face" ain't cool. Being yourself is cool. Which this girl is not. She's obnoxiousing-it-up for the cameras. She promises that whenever she's around, she is the life of the party and everybody always loves her and has a great time around her. Um, honey, not to go back to a recurring theme, but don't TELL me, SHOW me.

The Club-Hopping Bitch Who Thinks She's Hotter Than She Really Is: some black chick who has clearly been positioned to be this year's Carmella. Either she or WWE has decided she shall be "The Heel" of the group. Because she spent her minute or so in the spotlight acting like she's all that. Sadly, the character she was playing has already been taken by Melina on SD!... and if not for her ring entrance, would be really pointless and stupid even on her. So I don't see some failed model making a go of the gimmick in this contest.

And then...

The Two Bitches Who Got Almost No TV Time, probably because they were just acting normal and natural and thus were not WWE's idea of appealing. Either that, or they were SO obnoxious that even WWE couldn't cull any worthwhile footage of them from the casting event. But somehow, given the garbage they used for other girls, I doubt that. I'm gonna stick with my theory that these two got shafted because they're the two who were probably the least over-emotively fake and gimmicky, which would thus make them my two most favorite of the bunch. One was a hot black chick who seemed intelligent and well-adjusted and just genuinely-appreciative of the opportunity she's got and hopeful to make the most of it. The other was a super-cute blonde who I don't know if she even got to say Word One on screen, but exploited one of my known weaknesses with a rather simple, every-day presentation (just jeans instead of some ridiculous over-done ensemble, enough make-up/hair to be at her "TV pretty" best instead of the full-fledged generic whoring-up that is the WWE standard, etc.). 

Clearly, those two will be eliminated first. WWE's already told you not to vote for them by not giving them the same promotional push in the Introduction Video! See how that works? At least that gives me two weeks to work on coming up with better dismissive nicknames for the other six annoying bimbos who'll probably all end up with WWE contracts. Because remember: it doesn't matter who wins the Diva Search! If you can prove you possess a total lack of skills relevant to pro wrestling, you WILL get hired!

And in coming weeks: you WILL be ignored in OO! You have had your moment in the sun, ladies... you have been evaluated by A Noted Expert in This Field, and barring some unexpected twist of fate, you're poised to bore and underwhelm America for the next two months, and I shan't put this much energy into presenting you and your antics to the Home Audience ever again. Prove me wrong, honey(s), prove me wrong.


PPV Hype: JR and King get paid to make you care about Vengeance. I don't. So I fast-forwarded yet another pretty pointless segment. WWE really needs to rethink some of its format crutches... because 10 years ago, stopping for 7 minutes in the middle of a show to run a PPV line-up was a defensible way of hyping the show and getting people to care about the PPV. But in this day and age of Tivo and DVR and all, you need to be more creative than that. You need to sneak the hype into Actual Content Segments (kinda like how TV networks now shoehorn ads into the bottom/corner of a screen in the middle of TV shows, cuz they know an increasing percentage of savvy viewers aren't watching actual commercials). It's time for WWE to start respecting its audience and give us the same credit that producers of other shows give us: we will not endure blatant advertising if we have a choice. Which is all that these PPV Hype segments are. The way people watch TV has fundamentally changed in the last 5 years (and will continue moving in this direction until it's the standard, probably no later than another 2-3 years down the line), and yet, WWE continues to think they can WRITE TV the same way they always used to. Which they can't. The audience is smarter than they think: we can make our own replays when we want to, we can skip pointless advertising when we want to, so you need to adjust. It's not anything that should be hard: you just have to make sure that all segments are CONTENT, instead of fluff, and then you sneak the fluff in on the fringes of that content, and expose us to it when we're actually paying attention to something good. But for now: it's sorta annoying when I can watch a 2 hour wrestling show in 1 hour of real time because of the amount of crap they're putting in to fill time.

Kurt Angle vs. Time Management

Angle makes his ring entrance for our main event, but again I'm wondering how what SEEMED like a promising final half-hour of wrestling has gone so far south due to poor time management decisions when we immediately cut to....


Batista vs. Kurt Angle (Apparently Non-Title Match)

Back from the ad break, and Batista makes his entrance... well: there's still about 12 minutes of TV time left, which isn't what I'd have hoped for, but might be adequate enough so we can get at least ONE decent match out of this last half-hour. Right? RIGHT?!?


Batista starts with power moves for about 45 seconds, but then Angle manages to weasel out of a powerbomb and shimmies down Batista's back, grabbing an Ankle Lock out of nowhere. Batista quickly powers out, but the message is sent that Angle can get one over on Batista if he gets an opening. Which Angle quickly gets when Batista goes for a shoulderblock and misses, hitting the steel ringpost. So Angle goes to work, targeting the arm and shoulder with (sigh) a minute-long armbar.

After that minute, Batista powers out again with a one-armed sideslam, and goes outside of the ring to recouperate. Angle follows, and the two brawl at ringside for about 15 seconds, with Batista dominating. Batista then tosses Angle back in the ring and then....

FUCK: here's Triple H and Ric Flair blatantly attacking Batista in front of the ref. Instant DQ, and our main event is over at the 2 minute mark. Just like the Cena match. Craptacular.

Except: here's Shawn Michaels to make the save. Batista and Michaels fight off Angle and HHH. And it looks like that's it. Pretend, for a moment, that you haven't noticed that both HHH and Michaels are in their ring gear. Because then, and only then, will you be surprised when Eric Bischoff comes out onto the stage and says that his show won't end like this.... and orders the four to have a tag match RIGHT NOW.

FUCK. YOU. WWE. I'm not saying the Michaels/Batista vs. HHH/Angle tag match isn't a great idea for a main event. On the contrary, more than once in the past week, I thought it made a hell of a lot more sense than Angle/Batista (especially once it became apparent that the Angle/Batista match was gonna be non-title). But could you come up with any more unsatisfying way to present it? In a timeslot where barely would have had time to do one main event caliber 12-minute match, you've not already done one shitty 2-minute match (complete with 1-minute armbar), and then you're gonna do four minutes of ads, and THEN -- finally, mercifully -- you're gonna come back with maybe 5-6 mintues of TV left to have this match? Dumb. Very dumb. Just like last week, my mind is already (completely unbidden) racing with the ways you restructure this show to accomplish ALL THE EXACT SAME THINGS, but without rendering segment after segment so forgettably disposable. 

[Off the top of my head: open the show with the wedding, so you only have to kill time for ONE ring-redecorating, instead of for two. Immediately after the wedding, do Batista vs. Angle. Have it go a bit longer before HHH's run-in. Have Bischoff come out and make the Dream Tag Match, but have it be later tonight in the main event slot -- where it will get a full 15 minutes, and where you can do skits with Batista, Michaels, Angle, and HHH before hand to build up the intrigue, especially with possible tension between Angle/HHH over HHH's unwelcome run-in. Kill off the first Diva Search package and shave down the HitC/PPV hype down to the bare minimum, giving that extra time to Christian/Jericho/Cena to do some of the stuff I talked about above -- some combination of expanding the chicanery in the Cena/Hassan match or possibly giving Jericho a longer segment on the Highlight Reel, in which he could also have interacted with Christian to good effect. Carlito/Shelton I can't really improve upon, other than to give it more time, which I would if I could be permitted to eliminate Viscera's segment. And just like that, RAW is fixed. No more underwhelming segments, or at least: fewer of them, and building up to an actually big finish and a quality tag match. But I digress.... it ceases to make me proud that I can half-assedly come up with these ideas. It begins to just make me sad that WWE can't....]


Batista/Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H/Kurt Angle

Back from the break, and the match is already in progress. Trips is working a chinlock on Michaels, which, now that there's a TV audience to entertain, Michaels decides he doesn't want to deal with... so he fires up out of that with some punches and chops. But after a mini-rally, the heels get their act together. Kurt Angle causes a distraction, which lures the ref away, and allows Ric Flair to do the actual damage with a chopblock to Michaels left knee.

From there, it's all according to formula: the heels go to town on HBK's knee. Except for Flair, who when he gets his handful of shots in, forgets which knee he originally chopblocked, and works the wrong one. An homage to Batista, perhaps? Or just senility finally kicking in?

Triple H does most of the work on Michaels, and gets cheap heat by going all Nature Boy on us with some "whoo-ing" and an attempted Figure Four. But that's the beginning of Michaels rally, as he's able to kick HHH off, sending Hunter into a turnbuckle (he comes out and, for larfs, does a Flair Flop). HHH is down and Michaels is still hurting... both men need tags. But only HHH gets one.

Angle comes in and immediately intercepts Michaels before he can get to Batista. No hot tag yet. A little more legwork for Angle, but then: enzuigiri by Michaels. Shawn crawls to his corner to get a tag, and Angle has no choice but to crawl to his, too. And this time: both men make it. Hot tag to Batista, and now Hunter's in with him.... how conVEEEEEEEnient.

Batista goes to work on Trips with the punchy-kicky. He doesn't forget about Kurt, and when Angle tries to interfere, he gets an asswhomping for his troubles. That leaves Batista to focus on HHH for a bit, which he does with aplomb. Following a big powerslam, Batista goes for a pinfall, but Angle is there to break it up. But Shawn has finally recovered enough to get involved, and he immediately goes after Angle.... the two end up brawling at ringside for a bit, and then when Angle tries to escape through the crowd, Michaels follows him. That, kids, is how you powder out like a MAN: you don't just drop down to the pretty black ringside mats, you get ALL THE WAY gone.

And so that's how HHH and Batista wound up alone in the ring. At least for a bit... because as soon as Batista took control and nailed HHH with a spinebuster, Ric Flair decided to get involved. And he didn't really do anything useful: he just got instantly spinebustered, too. And somehow, that 4 second distraction was enough to completely rejuvenate HHH and must have taken a hell of a lot out of Batista. Because after the spinebuster to Flair, Batista turned around and walked right into a KICK-WHAM-PEDIGREE. One, two, three, and that's it.

Ummm: Trips, did you forget to uppercut Batista in the sac (while the ref was rolling Flair out of the ring) or something? Because if not, then that finish just made Batista look like a chump. You were getting your ass handed to you, Batista was 100% in command, and one ineffective 4-second interruption from Flair is enough to result in a single Pedigree and a win? Or wait: is this the return of the idiotic Extremely Awesome Pedigree of Awesome Extremeness That Nobody Has Ever Or Will Ever Kick Out Of gimmick?  If so, my complaints are two: (1) it's a dumb gimmick to try here in 2005, and (2) if you insist on trying it anyway, it would only have been a believable finish to a match that was 15 minutes or something. Instead of 6-7 minutes long, like this one was after coming back from break. A simple sac punch would have at least saved Batista some face and made the Pedigree seem a bit less out-of-left-field.

Anyway, another "not-a-bad-match." But also not good. Such a short amount of time to tell a story means that you really don't get anything accomplished in terms of flow or psychology. Just forgettable and disposable, like most of the rest of the night. I'll say this, though: if done a bit more convincingly, HHH pinning Batista really is the right play here. It's the most compelling aspect of the Batista/HHH story that we've gotten in 4 months. And that was even with it being executed shoddily. Which makes this about as back-handed a compliment as has ever been isolated by medical science. Oh well.

Show ends with HHH fondling the World Title belt, while JR promises that Batista will live to fight another day. Conveniently enough, that day is Sunday. Only on PPV. Nee haw.


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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