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A Night of Trade-offs 
August 23, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


RAW was, for lack of a better over-arching thesis, a night of trade-offs. One trade was for the better, one seemed a pretty fair one, and a third one just made no fricking sense.
On the "RAW Must Have at Least One Elderly Man Wrestling Higher On The Card Than Is Actually Plausible" front, they traded out pentagenerian Hulk Hogan wrestling in main events for pentagenerian Ric Flair stepping up as the next contender to the IC Title.

On the Diva Front, there was a surprise Brand Trade, as 

Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle were inexplicably brought to RAW (in exchange for Christy Hemme and Stacy Keibler). I honestly don't get that one.

And of greatest import: Chris Jericho is not only out as #1 Contender to John Cena after tonight, he's also (not surprisingly) out of a weekly job as he goes off to explore other avenues and recharge his batteries for a bit. In his place: the very deserving Kurt Angle, who had a strong match tonight and also came out following the main event to establish himself as Cena's worst nightmare.

'Twas a RAW that featured two very good matches (which is two more than we've had in over a month) and a couple other strong promo segments. But don't you worry: although the show as a whole was about as strong as it's been in a while, the monkeys on the Creative Team didn't want to you to be TOO confused by what you were seeing, so they also ladled on copious helpings of The Suck. Kinda made for an interesting hodge-podge of polarly-opposite segments.

Here, as always, is my detailed rundown of things, in which you have my pledge to make EVERY segment fun to read about. Even if it wasn't necessarily fun to watch....

Video Package: A bunch of stuff happened at SummerSlam, including Shawn Michaels getting one more good match out of Hulk Hogan. As is my wont, however, I don't recap recaps.

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we are live in.... I dunno, somewhere in Virginia, and all I remember is that it's not Norfolk. And although Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman do sneak in some welcome-y type comments, they have to do so as an afterthought, as we're not wasting anytime turning this mother out tonight....

Shawn Michaels' Ego is Finally Getting the Best of Him Theatre

So almost immediately upon cutting to the arena, "Sexy Boy" fires up, and out comes Shawn Michaels. Because he knows *I* need my weekly FDA recommended allowance of making fun of queer-eye style wardrobe and calling guys "douches," too, he's essentially wearing the same emasculatingly-pastel outfit as last week. The salmon-colored shirt really is the epitome of "I let my wife dress me." Poor guy. That's what he gets for marrying a Nitro Girl...

The crowd reaction to Shawn as he gets to the ring and grabs a mic is decidedly positive. Afterall, he *did* shake Hulk Hogan's hand last night, so I guess that makes him a good guy. But as soon as Shawn starts speaking, the crowd is not so sure anymore... because Shawn's almost TOO respectful and contrite. Or wait.... is that sarcasm, Shawn? Methinks it is...
"I really hate to admit it, but Hulk was the better man last night. I mean, did you see him? He was nimble, he was cat-like, and he was ever-so-quick. His ring prowess was so clearly superior to mine. And when it was over, I, like so many before me, fell victim to the Leg Drop o' Doom. One, two, three." And then he pantomimed getting choked up over this admission of inferiority. By the end, the crowd was pretty well in on the joke, and most of 'em were grumbling, but a goodly percentage were also getting  kick out of HBK's riffing.

After "looking down in shame," Michaels head snaps up, and there's a glare in his eyes and a smirk on his face as he says, "OK, enough of that, now it's back to our regularly scheduled programming." Shawn says that the reality is that Hogan's on a jet back home to Florida, and he won't come back until the WWE fans give him what he wants (gesturing in the finest of all manners, Broadly, Shawn indicates that this is money, moolah, dinero, scratch, etc., etc., etc.). But in the meantime, Shawn Michaels is right here, in this ring, ready to to give the fans what THEY want. Now the fans are confused, cuz that SOUNDS like a babyface line. Then again, I think it's all part of the Master Plan: because in the Hogan/Michaels feud, Hogan can say he won the match, but as a concession to Michaels, he's the one getting to cut the killer "shooty" promos, and is also more than proud enough of his performance against Hogan to know that most fans don't care who "won the match," they care about why it was such a good match. Like I said in the PPV Recap: everybody wins.

But SHIT, did I say "Master Plan"? I guess I did. And I confess: it was not done by accident, it was done to prove what an awesome profeshnul riter I am. Because as Shawn wraps up his comments about Hogan, Chris F. Masters decides to interrupt. Chris F. Masters? What in the Blue Hell is this happy crappy? Making matters worse, on Masters' way to the ring, Coach actually utters the line, "Thank god. Because what would you rather do, listen to Shawn Michaels talk, or look at Chris Masters?" Um, Faggy O'Backwardsberet, you might want to think before you speak next time. Lawler recognizes this as a dumb thing to say, but knows he can't argue with his fellow dumb-ass heel, so he compromises by saying, "Well, he is a Masterpiece." Meantime, every single member of the home viewing audience who ISN'T a gay male is sincerely wishing they'd just let Chris F. Masters to rot on Heat, and let Shawn Michaels keep on talking.

Masters gets into the ring, and gets a mic. Then he marble-mouths his way through a few lines about how he used to be a big fan of Shawn's. When he was a kid. A VERY little kid. My dead-serious mental note for a joke at that instant: "Ummm, dum dum, you don't want to go noting how old Shawn is when he's standing right next to you with a less-receding hairline than you, you chronic ass-injecting hack." Remember this for later. Then Masters goes into a thing about how Shawn's old, he needs to pass the torch, but he won't, because he's no different than Hulk Hogan.

Shawn, who's just smirking through all this C-caliber cheap heel banter finally perks up. Because he was feelin' it up until Masters had to go put him in a class with that jerk Hulk Hogan. Everything else, though? Hey, that's fine, Shawn's cool with a brash young kid coming out and trying to steal some of his spotlight, because that's what he used to do back in the day. Masters: "Try to? I just TOOK your spotlight." Thank your Hollywood Writer Monkeys for that line, Chris. Then Masters hits his version of the Randy Orton "Look, Me Posing" Pose of Ultimate Douchebaggery. Then, because he's my Wrestler of the Year 2005, Shawn mocked the pose as the stilted bit of nonense that it is, and when Masters shot him a dirty look, said, "Get used to it, greenhorn; if you can keep up with me, maybe you'll learn a thing or two before this is all over."

Michaels proceeded to talk circles around Masters, who (for his part) seemed resigned to Playing the Dumb Guy. Hey, doing what comes natural: isn't that when the best characters are created? Michaels starts with a Captain Kirk-style "Circular Logic That Invariably Causes The Robot's Head To Explode In Confusion" riff, and then says Masters has to learn about the pecking order in this business. Because Michaels is at the top of the ladder. And Masters? Isn't. And maybe never will be, because the air at the top, it's kinda thin, and not everybody can hack it.

Masters, sharp enough to remember his cues and deliver High Caliber Hollywood Hackery when it's time, says, "Thin on top, eh? Well, that's not the ONLY thing that's thin on top." He is, of course, noting that Shawn's head of hair may not be what it once was. And remember my line from earlier. Oh dear god does a night like this ever make me wish I could do the "live alternate commentary" gimmick I've been envisioning for so long; I'd have eaten Masters and his roid-ravaged, four-years-tops-till-he-just-has-to-Val-Venis-it, yet-still-only-22-year-old hairline to shreds. Pot. Kettle. Black. Assclown. Trust me: I know of receding hairlines. It's just that in my case, I was the victim of genetics. Not the victim of sticking things in my butt because it's the only way I can think of to get people to like me.

Shawn, of course, is a god-fearing man, and also probably knows its for the best if he doesn't draw attention to Masters' situation and the probably pharmaceutical reasons behind it. So instead, he just sarcastically acts like this is the Best Taunt Ever, and pretends to be mortally wounded. He, of course, isn't. But he also figures that if this is the best material Masters has got, it's probably about time to put an end to this nonsense. So he says, "If you wanna do this thing, let's just do it." And then he bitchslaps Masters. Masters tries to respond with clubbing forearms and other Incredibly Thrilling Offense, but Michaels quickly hits a Flying Burrito, nips up, and Masters decides to get out of dodge. Pussy. Michaels shows great energy as he stays in the ring indicating that he'd love to keep on going cuz he loves his job.

OK, so like I said: because of the way they've booked things, Michaels essentially is already completely rehabbed from "losing" to Hogan. This promo allowed him to say some more "shooty" things to cement that with even the densest of fans who didn't already recognize who carried Sunday night's match. And then the way things played out with Masters, Michaels also won back some fans; he's either a tweener, or he's a babyface-except-for-against-Hogan, and that's another good thing. I did NOT want to see the "Old Shawn Michaels" go away, so the cocky swagger is a cool thing to keep around.

My one complaint: damn you, Shawn, damn you and your backstage politicking straight to hell. Because this was clearly not the original plan by the Hollywood Writer Monkeys; they wanted to have Big Show take care of Masters. But now that's out the window, isn't it? Because you and your ego weren't satisfied enough by getting one more great match out of Hulk Hogan. Now you want to prove your awesomeness by insisting on the chance to do the same with Chris F. Masters? Because not only is Masters roughly the physical equal of Hogan, but as an added bonus: NOT ONE PERSON IN THE AUDIENCE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT HIM. At least fans had strong feelings about Hogan going in, so that makes this doubly hard work. First you have to make us sorta care about Masters, THEN you have to try to hold his hand through a good match. What kind of selfish prick are you? You're good, Shawn. You're very good. You may be the best ever. We've already paid homage to you as best we can. So please, for the love of all that is good and holy, don't try to prove yourself again by making us endure any more of Chris F. Masters than is strictly necessary, OK? [All joking aside: I'd not have minded if maybe they gave Rob Conway this spot instead of Masters... at least Conway, dubious gimmick aside, has some skills, and I wouldn't mind seeing him be given the chance to latch on with fans. Masters, on the other hand, just really needs to get squashed by Big Show and go back for retooling. Mheh heh heh heh. "Retooling." How apropos.]

Backstage: Chris Jericho is in Eric Bischoff's office, ranting about how Cena got lucky last night, how he had gotten into Cena's head and was ever-so-close to winning the WWE Title, but then Cena just caught a break. Bischoff knows it, and he knows that Jericho deserves a rematch. But not just any rematch. A rematch for the title, right here tonight, and as an added bonus: it's a "You're Fired" Match. Oh lord. Jericho, to his credit, IMMEDIATELY registers a look similar to mine -- a dubious look, with tinges of concern -- indicating that he's at least as smart as Certain Home Viewers (and thus, thrice as smart as the monkeys writing this crap). But he quickly covers that up as Bischoff turns to him to do a rant about how it's all part of his plan to get rid of John Cena once and for all. Oh right, of course it is, Sleazy E. Because once Jericho beats Cena to win the WWE Title, Cena will be unemployed, and RAW will be saved from Nonstop Wiggery! Even better: Bischoff is promising to be RIGHT THERE AT RINGSIDE during the match to, you know, make sure everything goes according to plan. Jericho's only pretending to buy this, perhaps suspecting this isn't really the Gift From Bischoff that Eric tried to sell it as. 


Kurt Angle vs. Shelton Benjamin

After a strong opening promo (eyeball-rolling related to why they're wasting Michaels on Masters aside), and we get this next? Well alright, alright, alright...

The first several minutes? Pretty straightforward: they go with the mat wrestling, and Shelton not only keeps up, he seems to get the better of Kurt in all exchanges. Which is as it should be; JR tries his level best to do a nice job of setting the table with some of the Angle/Shelton backstory, and then also gets into Shelton and Kurt's similarly remarkable resumes as amateur wrestlers. And then, in what was a running them all night, Lawler and Coach (more than likely parroting what the voice in the headsets told them to say) mocked JR for attempting to pass along that info, wondering "Who cares about that stuff?"... JR, sadly, does NOT retort with the line that I had ready-to-serve: "I dunno King, but probably more people than want to hear about your homosexual crush on Chris F. Masters. Now shut up and let me do my job."

All this Shelton-besting-Kurt stuff builds up to a final spot in which Kurt THINKS he's gotten the better of Benjamin with a German Suplex.... but in a Shelton-Standard Display of remarkable athleticism, Benjamin flipped through the suplex and landed on his feet. Nice. Angle showboats briefly, turns back around, sees Shelton standing there smirking, decides to charge, and then goes flying out over the top rope as Shelton dodges him. Angle outside, Shelton in control. Let's break for....


Back, and just as you might expect, Angle has magically regained control. A "during the break" thingie shows that he got control in a rather poetically just fashion: Shelton charged him while he was in the ropes and Angle ducked and lowbridged Shelton out over the top. Good for the goose, good for the gander, eh? So for the first few minutes, Angle's working Shelton over. First, he busts out this really cool looking Super Duper Mega STF type thingie (you know my "fantasy booking" for the end of Angle/Eugene and how Angle should have to bust out something that the Idiot Savant of Wrestling wouldn't have seen on TV before to beat him? Well, THIS would have been a perfect hold to do it with; instead, they just kind of throw it in as an afterthought in the middle of a match, and it might never be seen again). Then it's a body scissors. The focus, in both cases, seems to be Shelton's lower back and ribs.

Shelton's able to escape both holds, however, and Kurt has to look for other ways to abuse his Lower Torso Region. He decides to go for a Shoulder Block in the Corner.... but Shelton dodges, and Angle's shoulder goes all the way through and hits the ringpost. He stumbles out of the corner into a spinebuster. Both men down, ref applies the double count. And when both get up, we are gearing up for a tasty bit of End Game.

Shelton starts out in control. Lots of high energy stuff off the ropes, and the crowd (after being a bit down for the opening 10 minutes) has decided to show up. Good support for Shelton. Really good support once he starts hitting some convincing near falls (after a wicked Samoan Drop and after his Dragon Leg Whip Thingie). But of course, he can't put Angle away. So he decides to go up to the top rope. And Angle, god love him, finally busts out the Run Up The Ropes Belly-to-Belly Superplex that we haven't seen out of him in AGES. The crowd, much like me, LOVES it. Now Angle's got some support from the fans, too, and this thing is really crackling.

Kurt only gets a two count off that, but senses victory. The straps come down, and Angle stalks, getting ready for the Angle Slam.... but when he hoists Shelton up, Shelton does a sweet job of reversing into a DDT. That looked neat. Still only a two, and at this point, I don't think the crowd cares who wins, they just want this to keep going. Sadly, we are seconds away from the finish: now it's Shelton's turn to stalk, as he waits for Angle to get to his feet so he can apply the T-Bone Powerslam... and now it's Angle's turn to counter, as he manages to get behind Shelton and pick the ankle. After a brief struggle, Angle does manage to get the ankle lock cinched in. And after another brief struggle (VERY brief, and I begin to wonder if maybe it's Kurt who is the carrier of all this JobbyJobberitis, and is just blessed with also carrying the antibodies to protect himself, or something? Well, either that, or this has been a concerted month-long effort to make sure Kurt and his finishing move are MEGA-over as he heads into a main event title feud), Shelton just taps out.

Your Winner: Kurt Angle, via submission, in roughly 14-15 minutes. Not quite in the upper tier of Free TV Matches we've seen this year (like Shelton/Michaels was), but definitely quite good. If only End Game had continued on for maybe another 4-5 minutes, and if only the finish had not quite been another mostly-ignominious defeat for Shelton (who truly deserves better). Still, this match was about what ANGLE deserves as he gears up for a title run, and in that regard: very effective. And very entertaining for us fans, too. RAW's 2-for-2 in their first couple segments.... don't expect that to continue...


No Content Segment, Part One: Kerwin White pulls into frame, driving a golf cart, which is blaring some Sinatra. You know, WWE, this is just like you: you create a character that's trying to be one thing, but you give him traits that are just a few degrees out of place. Save the Sinatra for some day when you want to do a classy-yet-capable, possibly-mob-connected throwback character. But for the middle class country club douchebag? That guy listens to John Tesh, or Celine Dion, or Harry Connick Jr., or possibly even Zamfir Master of the Panfulte. And when he wants to cut loose and rock out a bit, you fire up the Hootie and the Blowfish. Get it straight, OK? And why rant against musical choices? Because Chavo's promo here was just really, really dumb. OK, so first, he's not Chavo, he's the Most Caucasion Man to ever walk the planet. He's "just like us." But then he does a rant about how Shelton "isn't one of us" and how that's why Shelton's a loser, and Shelton only deserves the token Polite Applause that "we" give him. Oy. At least, in a first, for a WWE crowd, a guy is saying shit like this and getting booed for it. Problem is, a character who thinks going on TV and saying shit like this is a good idea is a fundamentally retarded character, and one who seems more like a cartoon caricature than like somebody I should really care about. Which makes me not give a damn. Poor Chavo. He closes with "Remember, if it's not White, it's not Right."

No Content Segment, Part Two: Maria the Mic Stand is walking backstage, and though this might sound impossible to some of you, I bet a few of you know what I'm talking about: she actually manages to WALK in a dumb way. The girl's got skills. Or rather, she's got the company's most remarkable LACK of skills, and is milking it for all it's worth. For absolutely no reason, she pauses to put her foot up on a chair and adjust her unnecessarily elaborate footwear. And then, POOF, Snitsky materializes. Because WWE can't remember important story threads from week to week, but they CAN remember that Snitsky has a foot fetish. And people, THIS is why I keep shouting about how the entire damned bunch of them need to be fired. I feel guilty, in a way, because last time he did this with Lita, I used a Five Little Piggies joke as the Bold Section Header (somebody check the archives, but did I not VERY cleverly note that "This Little Snitsky Needs to Go Wee-Wee-Wee All the Way Back to Heat"? Methinks I did, because I was rather proud of it)... and here tonight, because Snitksy is a weirdo, he immediately starts sniffing and playing with Maria's toes, as prelude to doing the whole "Five Little Piggies" thing. And Maria, because she's both dim and easy, lets him and enjoys the whole thing. Then, while the vast majority of us would have been trying to wee-wee-wee at least towards Maria's upper thigh area in order to make the whole retarded enterprise a bit more worthwhile, Snitsky just got distracted by more toe-sniffing. So Big Show materializes. He's convenietly barefoot. Why? So he can shove his toes in Snitsky's face. Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Morons. This apparently is enough to deflate Snitsky's wang, and stands up to tell Show off. But Show is not hearing any of it. He calls Snitsky a pervert and tells Maria she needs to be more careful who she talks to. Maria: "Big Show, what's a pervert?". Big Show: "They are NOT paying me enough money to pretend to care, so I'll just walk away without saying another word." Well, so after going 2-for-2, RAW finally let the Hollywood Writer Monkeys take over again for back-to-back segments containing nothing but the purest 6 minutes of Suck. Great.


Matt Hardy vs. Rob Conway

Hardy comes out, bandaged and bruised, and with JR saying he's got no business competing tonight other than to prove that "Matt Hardy Will Not Die." Sorry, but I didn't even bother putting that quote in the recap a few weeks ago because it didn't click, and just because you've now put it on a t-shirt doesn't make it any catchier.

Conway comes out, accompanied by ANOTHER manrection from Coach. I know I joke about it, but not only is it vaguely off-putting, but it's really something that'll make any casual viewer or non-fan laugh uproariously and flip away because he/she has just had his/her perceptions of sweaty-man-on-man in-ring action confirmed by some omnisexual announcer, and it's just inconsistent and out-of-character. Of course, that's Coach's defining characteristic, isn't it? The fact that his defining characteristics are never static? One minute, he's a world class vagina magnet. The next, he's fawning over men. One minute, he hates John Cena with every ounce of venom that his boss Eric Bischoff does. The next, he's talking about how awesome Cena's CD is and how well it's selling. All this just in last night's 2 hour telecast. And you wonder why I keep wishing Coach would put a bit more time into actually focusing on presenting the product in a cogent way instead of just saying whatever jackass thing he happens to think fits the moment? Even if you're a heel, you have to be a CONSISTENT one.  So either like Cena or don't. And either be gay, or don't. I don't really care which traits you pick. I just want you to stick to them once you do.

Luckily, we'll not have to hear too much more from Coach in this match, because before it even gets started, Edge and Lita come out. Lita lounges on the table, in what appear as though they may be Trish Stratus' jeans; well, maybe a size or two smaller. Which is maybe why, in the impossible-to-explain-scientifically case of The IQ Lowering Appeal Of Certain Ass Cleavage, I just don't think Lita's pulling it off the same way. Still, viva la Lo-Rise, and points for effort! Meantime, Edge dons the headsets to do some commentary, wearing what at least do appear to be men's jeans. Which is an improvement for him.

The match: pretty craptastic. More sticking to mostly punchy-kicky, with Matt not being able to sustain any serious offense because of his injured status. Edge was more fun to listen to on commentary, being generally terse-yet-snarky. Well, except for how he seems intent on getting Matt's new "catchphrase" over, since anytime anybody would mention that "Matt Hardy Will Not Die," Edge would chime in, "Yeah, but he's on life support." Zing? Nope. Definitely not a zing. Merely an attempted zing. Nothing more than a small fine and time-served for that one.

Hardy gets a rally about 3 minutes in, and seems like he might be ready to finish this one off. But all it takes is one blow to the noggin during an attempted superplex spot (I think), and Matt's down. Conway stays up top, and hits the Macho Macho Man Elbow. One, two, three. 

Your Winner: Rob Conway, via pinfall, in about 3 minutes. Match was nothing but the canvas upon which to paint the picture of Matt Hardy being a broken-down shell. Whether you think that's the right story to tell or not is your business. I'd probably vote "not," but at least this means there IS a story they have in mind to build on his loss to Edge, so I'll maybe give it another week before I to totally psycho on how dumb this all is.

After the Match: Edge and Lita head to the ring. Edge attacks Matt. Matt fights back for about 5 seconds. Then Edge gets control. Edge puts Matt's skull in between the ring post and the ring steps. Then he kicks at the ring steps in a manner intended to simulate crushing Matt's head between the two steel structures. Well: at the very least, it DID make a nice loud noise. Edge and Lita leave, arm in arm. Matt is left lying at ringside, with an Orton-Caliber "Concussed Idiot" look in his eyes.


Carlito's Cabana: Special "Introducing Our New Resident Pentagenarian" Edition

I didn't mention it earlier, but when hyping the Cabana during bumpers, Carlito's got cool new graphics. He's also got more than a few fans as he hits the ring to get this party started. He wastes little time starting to introduce his guest, and when the fans start "Whooo'ing" uncontrollably, Carlito is nimble-witted enough to pick up on it and say, "Oh, so I guess you already know who he is. So let's just bring him out here: the Nature Boy, Ric Flair." 

Big pop for Naitch, who once welcomed to Carlito's Cabana begins his comments with "Carlito's Cabana? Nah. This is Flair Country." And with that, we know who's the babyface here. Flair and crowd are "Whoooo'ing" some more, and Carlito is obligated to try his own "Whooo." Not good. So after a few tries, Carlito just says, "I don't care. Whoo'ing isn't cool, anyway." Boooo.

A little more back and forth between the two, talking about how Flair had legendary matches with Carlito's dad.... they tease a mutual respect thing, but then Carltio drops the other shoe: "My dad never thought you were very good. But me.... me? Well, actually now standing here next to you, I think maybe he was right." Burn. Carlito goes into how sure, Flair's a 16-time champion. But that also means he's a 16-time loser, and anybody can win as many matches as he loses. Meantime, Carlito is the 1-time and CURRENT InterContinental Champion, which means that nobody's beaten him. 

Carlito: "And that?"

One Section of the Audience: "Thas COOOOOOOL."

Carlito (turning to that section and instantly earning The Rick's entirely platonic affection): "Hey, I'll handle it from here."

That Section: Shuts Up.

Carltio (turning back to Flair): "Thas cool."

It's the little things, people. It's the little things that make it a plain-and-simple statement of fact that Carlito is the best newcomer to debut in WWE in the last calendar year. I won't even waste my breath explaining why, when Chris F. Masters showed up earlier to illustrate my point for me: I mean, Carlito is in the ring with a legend and fans are caring about and responding to him. Masters gets in the ring with another legend, and fans only react to him insofar as they care about the legend himself. Plain and simple. Lesson: recruit and develop talent instead of mouth-breathing stiffs.

Flair decides Junior's finally had enough time to upstage him, and declares, "You're right. I'm not cool. I'm the NAY CHA BOY RIC WHOOO FLAIR." Flair approximates apoplexy as only he can, as he counts the many jets his flown, limousines he's ridden in, kisses he's stolen, wheels he's dealed and so forth.  And then, in deference to his feud with Carlito's daddy, notes that wherever he's gone, from the Caribbean to Virginia, all the women have only one thing to say to him: "All Night Long." At this point, I think the cheers and Whoo'ing are mostly obligatory, unless that live audience really enjoys visions of Grandparent Sex.

Carlito, however, is not impressed with this rant. And decides to spit some apple on Flair to prove it. At first, Flair just stands there, stolidly. Carlito got bold, thinking Flair wouldn't retaliate, and moved in closer to smirk in Flair's face. Mistake. Flair reached up, quick as you please, and poked Carlito in the eye. A few chops later, and Carlito decided to get out of the ring. Flair, however, was having too much fun, and continued pitching his little Crazy Old Man Fit, including elbow dropping his own suit coat.

Well, alright: I guess this is a nice little thing to do to mark time till RVD's ready to come back in 6 weeks or so. Kinda ironic that we got rid of one 50-plus year old guy wrestling a match maybe just a touch out of his league, and replaced him with another guy coming in to do the same, but I'll take it. A few weeks of these two doing promo work, a match at the PPV, it all oughta be pretty entertaining. And honestly: I don't think anybody out there can tell me you're not loving Carlito at this point. The guy's hilarious. He's got some Piper in him, his facial expressions and reactions are topped only by William Regal's, he's as quick as The Rock with improvs to the audience (and remember: it took the Rock 3-4 years to get THAT comfortable), and he can hold up his half of a high-quality wrestling match. As long as he doesn't let that turn him into a dickweed backstage, the guy oughta have a pretty solid go of it the next couple decades....

Video Package: Another SummerSlam Recap. It may well have been the same as the one that opened the show, and if so, that gets a big ol' Fuck. You. WWE. Even if it wasn't: there's a reason why I FF'ed both packages. Because I could not possibly care any less. Nothing at SummerSlam had real "rewatchability," for one. And for two: a pair of annoying "theme songs" don't exactly inspire me to sit through the music video version of the only-slightly-better-than-average PPV.


Big Show vs. Snitsky

Why? Oh, right: because Snitsky likes feet, and Show.... um.... wait, so why again? Just because the writers are morons and find it more important to remember Snitsky's foot fetish than they do to follow through on Show squashing the shit out of Masters like he should have weeks ago? Something like that. Plus, yeah, I guess there's some real backstory here, since they've wrestled before, both in singles and tag matches, in the last 2 months. But I didn't care then, and neither did anybody else. So why would we care now?

Answer: we don't. And neither do the announcers, as not a whit of that backstory is mentioned. Instead, you can practically hear the actual voice of Vince McMahon coming out of the wordholes of Coach and Lawler, as they are under the delusion they are being funny while they talk about nothing but Feet the whole time. And then decide to start teasing JR about having a Foot Fetish. The hell? Seriously, who is this designed to amuse? One guy backstage. It does nothing to improve the product for the other couple million of us loyally sticking with the product on TV. So just stop. Really.

The match? Sucked. It's about three minutes of Show going through the paces, but it's hard for him to have one of his genuinely entertaining "Giant Exhibitions" against a guy of Snitksy (a) size and (b) lack of ability. This was not fun in the exact opposite way of how Show vs. the Heartthrobs the week before WAS fun: it was being presented as a legitimate contest and all Show's offense looked only about one-half as impressive. Bleh. But he also did stay on offense pretty much the whole time, so after three minutes of crap, Snitksy just walked out. Seriously. Why not just stay in the back and save us all the torture to begin with, Gene?

Your Winner: Big Show, via count-out, in 3 minutes. Not just bad, but also a match that had no business taking place. The "set-up" for it was mind-bendingly retarded, and there are not interesting follow-ups. Premise? Bad. Match? Bad. Future prospects? Bad. That's pretty much a clean sweep for Awful Writing. Am I supposed to be comforted by the fact that RAW, despite a few super segments, isn't getting TOO far away from its roots of suckiness?

Backstage: Eric Bischoff walks up to the back of a hooded sweatshirt and start ranting and raving at it, assuming it's John Cena. Blah blah blah, you're going down, you're losing your title, and then you'll be fired. Bischoff seems very pleased with his tirade, so the Dumb Ass Hollywood Camera Guy moves around to catch the front of the Hoodie, and it actually is Cena, who takes the cue of now being on-camera and pulls back the hood. To reveal earplugs. OH SNAP~! The guy was listening to his iPod and didn't hear a word Bischoff said. Even though Bischoff was fairly well shouting right in Cena's ear, and we all know roughly where the threshold is for "being able to hear when listening to headphones" and know Bischoff had easily exceeded it. So Cena goes through a big cartoony, "Oh, it's you, funny, I didn't hear you. You say sumpin', bro?" And before Bischoff can answer, Cena cuts him off, and leaves. Whatever. Another attempt to make John Cena seem cool gone horribly awry.


Vignette: at some generic Saloon, WWE's endorsement deal to only serve Miller Lite on TV (they even made Sandman ditch his Budweiser at the ECW PPV) has apparently expired, as Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch are swilling The King of Beers and making promises to dominate the WWE Tag Team Scene when they arrive on RAW. Well, actually, Lance (who is probably happy to have his first name back from Lance Storm) does most of the talking, and is a pretty straight forward Windham-esque Texas redneck. Meantime, Murdoch might LOOK like the late, great Dick Murdoch (which is why they changed his name in homage) but is playing HIS character as a Deep Woods of Georgia Redneck. He puts the tag on this skit by complimenting Lance on "Talkin' real purty." And then promising there will be pig-like squealing going on once Cade and Murdoch make it to WWE. Cade seemed better on the stick than any of us remember him, and as long as they keep it "vaguely-weird" instead of going full-on "Deliverance" with Murdoch, he'll be a fun counter-balance to Cade's clean-cut-ness, and probably the main way the team will come off as heelish.

The Textbook Definition of An Exercise in Pointlessness

Some music starts playing. I recognize it as being sucky enough to be a girl's music, but I honestly can't place it. The reason: it's Torrie Wilson's music. Which I wasn't expecting because: isn't she on SD!? And I also didn't recognize because: as a result of her being on SD!, anytime she's made a ring entrance in the last 16 months or so, I've been fully capable of fast-forwarding it.

Torrie bounces out, accompanied by.... Candice Michelle. Who was just traded to SD! not 6 weeks ago, but is ALSO here on RAW now? Well, at the very least: Erin, I know you got that required 8am Tuesday class, and I know that means the end of RAW Recapping for about 3 months if you're to manage to graduate before age 30, and all that. But now I shall make it my solemn duty, no matter how badly on-tilt WWE puts me during the next 15 consecutive weeks of having to recap their crap without breaks, to keep the name of Boobies McTitsalot alive and well until you return. I'd even go so far as to dub Torrie "Leatherface," per your recent observations, but even *I* think that's taking things a bit too far...

Anyway, Torrie and Boobies do an overly elaborate ring entrance which is supposed to be sexy (Lawler: "I like girls who like other girls"... and then, just to keep me off balance and vaguely pissed off, Coach actually responds with some very close to what I was thinking of as a retort: "That's all well and good, King, but *I* like girls who like the Coach."). And then Torrie commences with the talking, while Boobies commences with the... well, standing there looking overly-made-up. She's awesome at it. 

A bit of explanationing from Torrie, who says they've been traded to RAW. Huh. And they're so happy to be here. Also: Boobies chimes in (oh gawd, that VOICE) that maybe the trade was because her GoDaddy dance was "too hot for network TV." So then she does it. To ZERO crowd response. Not a surprise to me, but apparently a surprise to those who come up with the ideas for this show. And finally, to the point there's somebody else who's new on RAW who they just can't wait to meet, so lets bring her out right now: Diva Search Ashley. I guess her entrance theme really is gonna be The Crappiest Track On The Audioslave Album. Me? I'd ditch it. Unlike "Walk Idiot Walk" which was PERFECT for Spaz, this one does not fit Ashley at all.

Ashley comes out, and Torrie and Boobies seem to be acting pleasant as they congratulate her. Ashley thanks the fans above all, and (I guess predictably at this point) gets booed for it. That was the fans being dicks last week; this week, it's the writer monkeys not having the intelligence to sit down with Ashley and come up with a more appealing presentation, cuz they should know what's coming at this point. Then Torrie and Boobies start getting really drama-queeny and bitchy, as they talk about how they never won any oversized novelty checks, and how "tough" the diva search must have been. Which is stuff that might have seemed "edgy" and "shooty," except that Boobies got HER job by LOSING the Diva Search contest, and Torrie broke into the business via the grueling process of being called in at random off a list of models for a bit part in an nWo skit.

Before Ashley can even really react to the obnoxious diva-ness the two are exhibiting, Torrie stops talking and kicks Ashley in the tummy. Ashley collapses (in such a way as to assure us that she has opted for very sensible undergarments) and takes a few more slaps and kicks from Torrie and Candice. She remains crumpled in the ring as Boobies and (oh let's just call her) Leatherface (just once to see how it plays) exit the arena (while holding hands, naturally, because that's SOOOO HOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT).

OK: a few things. One, this is how you try to get the fans behind Ashley? Vapid thank yous that already got her booed once, and then getting her ass kicked by two Useless Divas despite the fact that her whole gimmick is that she's tough and is already a trained wrestler? I don't understand that one bit. And mostly: Why are Torrie and Boobies on RAW? And worse: the other half of this trade is Spaz and Stacy going to SD!. This might even go beyond "pointless" all the way to "counter-productive." I mean, you wait until Spaz FINALLY finds a perfect niche for herself, a role that suits her personality perfectly, a role in which she can make her improvements incrementally and out of the spotlight of being an Actual Wrestler, and you put her onto the show where there's no need for her to improve because Melina's about as close to an Actual Wrestler as they've got on the show? And Stacy wasn't setting the world on fire with Hurricane and Rosey, but insofar as the tag champs are gonna be over, she can help them. Torrie and Bobbies coming over to RAW really is pointless: they subtract nothing from SD!, and add nothing to RAW. But Spaz and Stacy being traded over: that's a minus for RAW, and until I see otherwise, I don't see any real "plus" coming for SD!.


Earlier Tonight: Michaels decided he'll prove his godlike powers by rendering Chris Masters tolerable, even if just for one week. Which apparently will be next week, according to the chyron. Yippee.

Backstage: Todd Grisham has Chris Jericho for an interview. What's Jericho got to say with "so much on the line" in tonight's main event? Pretty much what you'd expect.... that John Cena's going to be exposed as an inferior wrestler tonight, and then he'll get what he deserves: his pink slip. Because Jericho hasn't become the superstar that he is today by losing in Big Time Money Matches. That's right Chris: you've gotten to where you are today by pretty much losing in ALL your matches. Not that it's your fault. And we still love you, anyway, Junior. Jericho was trying to sell the confidence, but I think we all know just about where this is going...

Eric Bischoff vs. Promotional Consideration

Eric Bischoff is making good on his earlier promise, and comes on down to the ring. He's flanked by six beefy security guards. Surely this spells the end of John Cena, right? And if you believe that, then you might actually be dumb enough to pay for some of the products or services featured in these....


John Cena vs. Chris Jericho ("You're Fired" Match for the WWE Title)

Good christ. I thought Erin was kidding last week about Cena having a new skull-themed t-shirt. Such is my blissful ignorance when I got to FF ring entrances and other filler... but not tonight when I've got a recap to write and nits to pick. So I'll second the motion (the motion that actually, I think I technically firsted months ago) to JUST CUT IT OUT, WWE. Cena's not Steve Austin. He never will be. Just get your heads out of your asses and figure out the way to make him the best JOHN CENA he can be, alright?

Staredown of Intensity to start. Looks like Cena wants to wrestle in his shitty new T, too. Oh wait, nope: he just wants to START with it on, so that as soon as he overpowers Jericho and clubs away for a minute or so, sending Y2J scurrying outside like a wussbag, and can prance around the ring and take off the t-shirt to a eardrum-bleeding chorus of girly squeals. Cuz nothing says "Stone Cold Caliber Bad-Ass and Totally Legitimate Champion" like having all the popularity and credibility of Justin Timberlake. Or whoever the new talent-free metrosexual fruit-of-the-day is now that Timberlake is 2 years past pop culture relevance. I can't be bothered to keep up anymore.

But the tone changes pretty quickly once Jericho regroups and gets back into the ring. Because I guess WWE learned its lesson last night, and to make sure that Jericho doesn't massively-overshadow Cena's popularity, Bischoff is going to interfere early and often. Hey, it doesn't get to the root of the Cena Problem, but as a one-night bandaid, I guess it's probably a decent fix. Cena might not be as popular as WWE wants him to be, but he's WAY more likeable than Bischoff. So Bischoff does a few trip ups and distractions, and Jericho's in control for a bit. Then, when the match goes outside, Jericho leaves Cena on the mat, and goes into the ring to distract the ref. Why? So that Bischoff can go over and punch Cena in the nuts.

Oy. At this point, it's pretty clear that it doesn't matter, but there's still something vaguely off-putting about it being BISCHOFF who gets the decisive "the guy is beat down enough that we can take an ad break" blow instead of Jericho. I guess it plays into the attempt to get people cheering for Cena and booing Jericho, though. So let's quit bitching and endure these final....


Back, and Jericho's apparently been killing time with a chinlock, but now that we're live on SpikeTV again, it's time to ramp it up. Cena fires up out of the chinlock, but has had enough taken out of him by the "2-on-1" attack that he can't follow up. Jericho retains control, and does so with a varying array or moves. Mount-and-punches, baseball slide dropkicks, all kinds of stuff. Also a bit of cheating (like distracting the ref to allow Cena to be choked and stuff like that). A few near falls in here, too.

Of note: as Jericho's dominance continues, the crowd starts getting into it a bit, and a "Let's Go Cena" chant starts. There are Jerichoholics in the crowd tonight, though, and they take the challenge to fire back with "Let's Go Jericho." It is, however, the exact inverse of SummerSlam: the Cena chants dwarf the Jericho ones. See, I guess having Bischoff out there worked. At least for now. And even with him: that's STILL an audible crew of Jericho fans, so.... I dunno, but I thought I'd mention it, especially because as the match wore on, it did sound like the Jericho camp got louder and stronger. They still never matched the Cena fans, but it got close at a few points near the end. 

Jericho's offensive continued for several more minutes, punctuated with some very well-done and well-placed Cena Hope Spots that helped to get the crowd rocking and rolling, too. Finally, Jericho got to the point where he was able to lock in the Walls of Jericho. He kept it cinched in for a goodly amount of time, too. Cena went towards one side of the ring, first, but Bischoff was there, and pulled back on the bottom rope to keep it just inches out of Cena's grasp. They went out of their way to make sure the referee stayed positioned so he didn't see this, which I don't know if I should compliment (for the foresight) or rip on (for the choreographedness of it). Thanks to the extra inches provided by Sleazy E, Jericho managed to muster enough power to drag Cena back to the center of the ring and keep the hold locked on for another minute. Then, using nothing but the power of making REALLY silly-looking faces, Cena started scratching and clawing towards a DIFFERENT side of the ring. One must ask oneself the obvious question: why didn't Eric Bischoff just walk the 15 feet over to that side of the ring? I don't have the answer. I just know that he didn't. So this time, after tortuous minutes in the Walls, Cena did get a rope break. Jericho, of course, is in denial and thinks that SURELY Cena must have tapped out after such an extended entrapment. But nope: Cena apparently has the JobbyJobberitis serum, too (how convenient, eh?), and is incapable of tapping out. He's just that big a bad-ass. And also: stop calling me Shirley.

While Jericho's arguing about this with the ref, Cena manages to get to his feet. When Jericho turns around, he walks into an F-U. Well, sorta, Cena hoists him up, and then stumbles around the ring for a bit, selling the damage done to his back, even almost dropping Jericho once. OK, I guess that's a nice touch. But he finally does get Jericho up long enough to drop him into a sloppy desperation F-U. He also can't follow-up immediately. And when he does? Jericho has rolled over once so he's close to the ropes. And Bischoff has come over. So as the ref counts, Bischoff pulls Jericho's foot onto the bottom rope. Now it's Cena's turn to argue with the ref, and while he does, Bischoff slips Jericho some brass knucks. Well, some silver/steel knucks, anyway. At this, JR finally pops his cork; he's been overselling the impossible odds all match long, but now I *almost* believe that JR might *almost* believe the words coming out of his mouth about how there's simply no way Cena can win. But as another announcer with a gift for sometimes not-coming-off-so-sharp once said: close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. So I still think the oversell is a little much, here.

Jericho does manage to thwack Cena with the knucks (and then, foolishly) tosses them out of the ring, instead of saving them for possible future use. He makes an arrogant cover, because at least HE believes what JR's spewing at this point. But NO~! Cena kicks out at 2.938987366. Jericho and Bischoff are both in disbelief. Jericho lets himself get distracted by the ref again, while Bischoff decides there's one last foreign object he might introduce that would settle Cena's hash: the WWE Title belt itself. Bischoff gets up on the apron with the belt, and now the ref leaves Jericho to go be distracted by Bischoff. The whole time this was going on, Cena's Power Meter was growing, and when Jericho turns back to the center of the ring, Cena takes him down with a double-leg, and then slingshots him back.... right into Bischoff, who was conveniently holding the WWE Title belt at exactly the level of Jericho's face. Bischoff tumbles to the floor, where he can do no more harm. Jericho stumbles backwards into the waiting arms of Cena, where he's quickly dispatched with a non-dramatic F-U. A three count later, and that's the end of that story.

Your Winner: John Cena, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. A completely different type of match (because of the inclusion of Bischoff allowing for some fancy overbooking) than SummerSlam, but one that, in the end, I think was just about exactly as entertaining. Good, but not really memorably special. On PPV, Cena needs to be capable of more consistantly-strong showings if he's really gonna carry a brand on his back and work in main events.... but as a free TV match? Hell, this was the second high quality one we got tonight. Seriously: this and Angle/Shelton were both better than anything RAW's featured in at least 5-6 weeks. I will NOT complain about that.

After the Match: Bischoff got in the ring, where both men were down and gasping for breath and clearly the worse for wear. He grabs a mic, and feigns a pained look, like he might be about to do something he doesn't want to. Then he changes gears, and looks like a GM about to renege on a stipulation... it's this smarmy Bischoff who finally begins speaking, and turns to Jericho, teasing that he's not gonna fire anybody because it's his show, and he can do whatever he wants. But then, in the blink of an eye, Bischoff changes gears and growls, "You son of a bitch, you're FIRED!". Jericho had plenty of opportunities, and plenty of help, and he couldn't get the job done, so Bischoff wants him out of the ring, pronto. Jericho was only briefly incredulous, and then immediately went into weepy, whiny, spineless begging-for-his-job mode. Right down to prostrating himself before Bischoff and wrapping himself around Eric's ankles while being on the brink-of-tears. 

I'll say this: many will kvetch that WWE completely robbed Jericho of balls by "making him" do this bit of crying and begging. But my guess? You can't make a guy do this good of a job of making himself into a eunuch. WWE's done a lot to dick Jericho over, both over the span of years and specifically in the last 2 months of this storyline. But this bit on RAW? Look, that's just called Showmanship. It wouldn't surprise me if Jericho simply decided he was going to Out-Bobby-Heenan Bobby Heenan when it comes to "showing ass" on the way out the door. Anybody remember that farewell to a very-deserving talent? And unlike Heenan (who knew he was headed to WCW), there's a very good chance Jericho's back at or before the New Year, anyway, and he can "get his heat back" then. Jericho turned the Puss Dial up to 11, Bischoff forced security to drag him away, and I think it's VERY telling that one or two pockets of fans seemed to want to start the "Na na na na hey hey hey goodbye" thing, but the crowd as a whole had no desire to do it. So it never got off the ground. Jericho might have tried to put both his testicles in a baggy and hand them over to Eric Bischoff by acting like a putz on his way out, but that STILL didn't make it so the fans were happy to see him going. Again, just one of the little things WWE should take a note of.

And then, before Jericho's even hauled all the way up the ramp.... John Cena's down! And it's because Kurt Angle was swooped in from out of nowhere to attack him. Fairly standard punchy-stompy assault on a guy who already wrestled a match and was thus more inclined to just be on the mat instead of really playing along for involved spots. It all built up to an Angle Slam. And then Bischoff got in the ring and introduced us to the New #1 Contender: Kurt Angle. So wait: he knew Jericho was gonna fail all along, and had Kurt in the wings? See, I know in my brain that Angle is the right guy for this job, but I just can't shake this sense that there's a few links in the Logic Chain that are missing when you handle the story this way... anyway, after that announcement, they play Angle's music so he can variously taunt Cena with the title belt (oh, Kurt, if you don't mock the stupidity of the Bling Belt starting next week, you're not the man I think you are; then again, less than two months ago, your primary goal in life was dry humping other men's wives, so maybe you AREN'T the man I think you are?) and then pepper Cena with some more punches, stomps, eye gouges, etc. Angle's looking like the next WWE Champ as the show Fades to Black...


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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