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OO RAW RECAP
Racing at Breakneck Speed...
To Parts Unknown 
September 6, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

What a weird fricking show. 
 
Last night's RAW managed to have 8 matches. Eight. I'd have to check, but I'll eat a bug if we've seen that since the days of Vince Russo's Crash TV. The result was a show that, at all times, felt very busy. Very DENSE, if that makes sense.

The problem was, while we were moving along at this breakneck pace, there were maybe 

two or three segments, tops, that were even remotely satisfying. Yeah, we got eight matches. But zero of them good. We did score a couple of "wins" on the angle/storyline/promo side (Cena didn't say a single damned word this week; result: fewer people decided to boo him; see, the Rick is right!), but when we weren't scoring those wins, about the best thing you could say about the show is that it had you convinced that something different was coming up soon.

Because if there was one upside to Crash TV, it was that if you didn't like what was on your screen now, you knew it'd be changing in less than 4 minutes. That's what last night was to me: a show packed so tightly by WWE that almost nothing lingered long enough to truly annoy. Well, except for Chris F. Masters, but I figure I'll have enough to say about him below... but also: almost nothing on the show lingered long enough to develop into anything good. And then which ended on a decidedly confounding down note.

It's a show that seemed to want to get-'em-in-and-get-'em-out, like the olden days. When shows like these didn't have to be "good," they merely had to be Fast Food: in other words, Grade-C meat whipped up into a surprisingly palatable sandwich once a week to keep your belly full until the PPV Steak Dinner. It's just that without Nitro to be the Burger King to RAW's McDonald's, I don't think WWE is delivering quite as tasty of a Fast Food Experience. And even if some of the items in our Happy Meal were tasty, it's a real bad problem with the Cherry Pie we get for dessert has gone rancid somehow. Cuz then nobody remembers the tasty fries: just the last awful taste in their mouths.

Perhaps I'm just forcing a metaphor here for no good reason. But the basic point remains: last night's RAW moved along at a frantic pace. One that kept you distracted from the fact that nobody apparently thought to figure out WHERE we were going at such high velocity. It's like a runaway freight train to nowhere. Except then we DID get to the ending, and it kinda sucked. I dunno. Some good in there, and really nothing horrifyingly bad till the end. And eight fricking matches... I reassert my main point: what a weird show.

So let's cut the theoretical discussioning and explain what was so damned weird about it. We Ride! Let's get this RAW recapped and analyzed for you....

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we are live in Nashville, TN, for a night of rasslin' action. Your paid product enhancers -- JR, King, and the Coach -- assure us that it'll be a wing-dang-doodle of a show. Which may or may not have been an accurate statement. For I don't know precisely what a wing-dang-doodle is; I just know that for some reason, I took to saying it in place of "jim dandy" over the weekend. So kick off all the winging, dangling, and doodling, we waste no more time. It's right down to the ring for us...

Eugene vs. Kurt Angle

Angle to the ring first, Eugene second. And it looks like Nashville has got none of the problems seen elsewhere recently: they cheer solidly for Eugene.

Unfortunately, Eugene gets about a total of 30 seconds of offense here. Angle comes out of the gate fast, and never lets up. Suplexes, face-gouges, stomping; the whole array of moves that ranged from the technically sound to the just-plain dickish. For a new look, Angle was sporting a protective mouthpiece, which when combined with a mighty scowl, definitely gave one the visual impression that Kurt might not be a guy you want to mess with. And impression that the announcers spend the entire 2 minutes reinforcing with talk of how bad-ass Kurt is. Also, point to JR and Coach for doing a back-and-forth remembering to make "Eric Bischoff probably just made this match because he wants to punish his annoying nephew" a point of discussion. Timely, as if torn from Yesterday's OO!

At that point, Kurt does make the mistake of trying to bang Eugene's head into the turnbuckle. This causes him to Eugene Up. But Eugene's rally consists solely of escaping one (1) German Suplex Attempt and then whiffing on one (1) Jim Duggan Football Charge. Maybe 30 seconds was being generous. After the missed charge, Angle said "Frick this," and wrapped Eugene's leg around the steel ring post a few times, and then cinched in the ankle lock. The Jobby Jobberitis is strong in Eugene, so he taps out within the nanosecond.

Your Winner: Kurt Angle, via submission, in 3-4 minutes. This was less competitive than Saturday morning "Superstars" squash matches that I remember from my youth. "Iron" Mike Sharpe could have been counted on to put in a better effort than Eugene did here, dammit! Except: I understand the goal here was to put Kurt over huge. So yeah, nothing really good here, but the "Angle Sucks" chants that came into play by the end tell you that this month, WWE is actually doing right by their WWE Title Challenger. People believe in him; and after matches like this, are CONCERNED about him.

After the Match: Angle continues assaulting Eugene's leg, including that Surgically Repaired Knee. Are we actually "writing Eugene out" again here? Eh, maybe not, because here's John Cena to the rescue. But before Cena can make himself even remotely useful, he's attacked from behind by.... The Lovely Miss Tomko? The hell? One single Big Boot o' Suck from Tomko, and Cena's down in the middle of the ring. Some possible Eye Contact Of Premeditation with Tomko as Tomko leaves, then some taunting and mockery of Cena's carcass, and Angle himself leaves the ring to some pretty mighty hatred. So the opening segment worked. If RAW were a shitty message board populated by socially stunted idiots without any grasp on their sheer ludicrousness, then Angle would have just gotten TONS of "+ rep" for this segment.

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Backstage: Kurt Angle and Tomko are both in GM Bischoff's office... Bischoff, of course, is pleased with anything that renders Cena easier pickin's. Angle puts Tomko over for stepping up his game. The whole time he is, for some reason, Kurt is tweaking Tomko's nipple. Creepy, Kurt, creepy. Then Tomko says some stuff that I sure as hell had a hard time making out; soft-spoken and collected worked for Batista, but with Tomko, it's just hard to hear. Then Bischoff starts enunciating, and it's clear that he's making a Cena vs. Tomko match for later on tonight. Then Tomko says some more stuff that I couldn't hear. It was so bad that as soon as we cut back to the announcers, JR said, "I'm not sure what I just heard, but I guess it's Cena vs. Tomko later on."

Val Venis/Viscera vs. the Heartthrobs

You know how I joke about how Heat matches have no place on RAW. Well, they have even LESS place being replayed on RAW one night after I went out of my way to not watch them on Heat. Seriously, what's the point. But I guess this is WWE's way of signaling that Val Venis and Viscera are now a full time tag team to the viewing audience? Since lord knows we don't watch Heat.... if that's the case, they'll need a name. Given where WWE would like you to believe how knee-deep in easy pussy Val and Viscera have been, I propose we dub them: Triple V-D. Nee haw. I'm here all month. Enjoy the prime rib.

Note to WWE: when scanning the crowd for camera shots of babes you can pretend are practically sopping wet at the sight of the Noted Sex Machines that are Val and Viscera, let's try to only pick ones who look older than 15. Cuz that's just creepy.

Match got off to a good start for Triple V-D. A few tag-outs so both guys got to do a few moves on the undersized Heartthrobs. Val, in particular, had a nice run where he busted out some cool moves. Included in there was an inverted vertical suplex that came very close to being like I move I envisioned years ago: the Nirvana Stunner. Which I still think would look sweet if it can be done safely (I have my doubts, and thus have never done it anywhere except in my brain). But after that offense was exhausted, Val tagged in for his third go-round, and a wee might of distraction from Heartthrob #1 while Heartthrob #2 was the legal man resulted in Val being on the receiving end of a solid beatdown.

That didn't last very long, though. Less than a minute. So I will opt to not bust out the usual slang, and just say Val then made "a tag" to Vis, who came in and was a moderate house afire. It seemed like things got disjointed at the end, with Val going up for a Money Shot on one Heartthrob (after being re-tagged into the match), but then he was distracted awkwardly by another Heartthrob, and those two disappeared, leaving Vis to do a Samoan Drop on the original Heartthrob for the pinfall win. How does Triple V-D celebrate? By swiveling their hips to hardly any fan reaction. They may be Triple V-D, but the crowd has no desire to give them The Clap. HA~! You thought "Triple V-D" was lame when I introduced it earlier.... but I only did it so I could make this ONLY SLIGHTLY LESS LAME joke here! Marvel at my wit, peoples, marvel....

Your Winners: Val Venis and Viscera, via pinfall, in about 4-5 minutes. A Heat Caliber match at best. And not a GOOD Heat match, either. Other than Val's one ultra-crisp offensive tear, there's nothing to see here.  And no reason to be particularly enthusiastic that we've seen a new viable tag team birthed, either. I just cannot overstate the lack of desire I have in seeing Viscera in the ring at this point....

Vignette: the Career Highlights of Chris F. Masters. It lasted about 20 seconds. And that's probably about twice as long as it needed to be, if you're honest with yourselves, WWE.

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Carlito's Cabana: Very Special "It's OK, Honey; if You Don't Want to Talk, I'll Do All The Work for You" Edition

After a string of Legendary Guests on the Cabana, who does Carlito have lined up for us this week? He wastes no time revealing that it'll be Diva Search Ashely. Who again comes out to the massively unfitting crappy Audioslave track... you know what I would vote for as a good fit for Ashley's entrance theme, if only I hadn't already designated it for other usage? Jet's "Cold Hard Bitch." Distinctive screamy intro, great riff, and it's just laden with OOdles of the perfect attitude for any broad who revels in her fetching levels of bitchiness. 

Then: Carlito wastes no time calling Ashley "Ass-ley." Oh ho ho ho ho. Very clever. Ashley merely corrects him gently; whereas if I'm feeding her lines, it'd have been a smirk, a pitying headshake, and "Great, Carlito, like I haven't heard that one a zillion times before." Need more spunk there, more BITCH. Carlito then starts running down how difficult Ashley's "initiation" to RAW has been. He punctuates with some video footage of Victoria defeating Ashley in Ashley's debut match the week before. Ashley is holding a mic this whole time, as if she's supposed to be having a conversation with Carlito, but she's pretty much just going "Yeah," "Uh huh," and stuff like that. The only full sentence she utters is when she confirms that she's looking forward to getting revenge in a one-on-one match against Torrie Wilson later on tonight. But other than that? Sometimes a little laugh to indicate she's not taking the taunting too seriously, but CHRIST WOMAN! TALK! RESPOND! Don't just stand there mute as Carlito keeps rattling off line after line. It got kinda awkward, and man alive do I feel for Carlito; I fricking hate conversations that feel more like a surgical procedure. And that's the route this thing went down...

It's more of the same when Carlito moves on to talking about Ashley's appearance. He makes fun of her wearing the exact same outfit all the time. Ashley just chuckles. He makes fun of her new facial piercing (dammit, a close-up reveals he's speaking the truth; ladies, please, no poking holes in the face, OK? ears? good. belly? meh, but if you're piercing that, it means you feel like you got business showing off yer belly in public, so I guess that is pretty hot. anyplace else? you're probably trying too hard, but that's between you and whoever you're spending nekkid time with... but just NOT THE FACE. That's the final straw, Ashley: "Cold Hard Bitch" goes back on the shelf to awaits a woman of more discriminatin' tastes). Still only a shrug and a "So what?" from Mute Ashley. And then: Carlito makes a joke about Ashley's ballcap and her messy hair.

Ashley (as if remembering a cue): "Pshhhaw, like YOU should talk to anybody about their hair." Which gets a nice little pop, and which Carlito sells with the Facial Expressions of Extreme Indignity. But then Ashley has delivered her one Prepared Statement, and clams up again. For now Carlito says that nobody comes on his Cabana and disrespects him. Not Shawn Michaels, not Ric Flair, nobody. In fact, Carlito asks Ashley if she wants to know who it was that punked out Flair backstage last week. She makes a noise that could be interpreted as "Sure, tell me." And Carlito says it was HIM. And it's because that is the fate that awaits anybody who disrespects the InterContinental Champion. And in that moment, I couldn't tell for sure if I was listening to Carlito or Strong Bad.

So now, if Ashley wants to disrespect Carlito (christ Carlito, the girl said maybe 15 words this whole time, quit spazzing out!), maybe it's time that she get ANOTHER initiation to RAW. The Cabana Initiation. Because disrespecting Carlito? Thas? Thas not cool. Carlito handpicks an apple. Ashley retreats into a corner. And then: WHOOOO! Ric Flair to the rescue.

The mere power of Flair's music causes Carlito to retreat to the opposite side of the ring from Ashley. So she powders out. As Flair hops into the ring, Carlito tries to attack him, but that goes south REAL fast. And by "south" I mean "in the direction of Carlito's testicles." Because Flair was in Sac Attack Mode tonight. And the crowd was loving it. After abusing Carlito's balls for about a minute, Flair finally released his vicelike grip, because he had something he wanted to say. He said that it's official: Carlito vs. Flair for the IC Title at Unforgiven. And if Carlito wants to take a bite out of an apple that night, it's fine with Flair, who'll counter by taking a bit out of Carlito's ass. OK: the minute-long nut-grab was borderline, but talk of ass-munching, now? Not the way I'd have gone with it, Naitch. To punctuate his promo, Flair then starts bouncing around the ring like an epilepsy patient, pausing long enough to elbow drop any apple that he sees. Funny.

Well: it ramped up to a satisfying conclusion. But I sure as hell wish Ashley had been a bit more participative; I hate being IN one of those one-sided conversations with somebody who isn't quite comfortable volunteering a response to a simple question, and it was not much more comfortable to watch on TV. Also: the confirmation of Flair vs. Carlito at the PPV made my heart sink. Because then I know how the rest of the show would go, and what Shawn Michaels was gonna be stuck with at Unforgiven. Speaking of which, it was time for another....

Vignette: more Chris F. Masters Career Highlights. I watched the first one just to laugh at how nothing shown would count as a "highlight" by any reasonable metric. But now a second one? This is just being done to piss me off. FF.  

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A Little History Lesson: JR, King, and Coach talk for a minute about Edge and Matt Hardy. They are both in the building tonight, but in no condition to compete. To explain why, they kicked it to a lengthy....

Video Package: which rehashed a touch of history between the two, but focused mostly on last week's match, which ended in both men being taken out on stretchers. Conveniently enough, just as that wraps up we go....

Backstage: to find Matt Hardy in GM Eric Bischoff's office. Bischoff is furious at Matt for last week. Because he put himself at risk. He put Edge at risk. OK so far, Sleazy E. He put the fans at risk. He put RAW at risk. He put this company at risk. And he put Eric Bischoff at risk. Now that all scores a big ol' "Whhhaaaaaaaa?" from me. But whatever. It might make no sense, but it's also just a little plot contrivance so that Bischoff can announce that he no longer trusts Edge and Matt in his arenas. So if they want to continue their little issue, he's saying they have to agree to do it inside a steel cage, where they'll harm no one but themselves. Matt is MORE than happy to comply with this. He signs a contract right there, and manages to find a way to sneak in his catchphrase. And HEY! When he got to the word "die," upwards of a dozen people in the crowd sounded like they were singing along! Looks like I was wrong about that one not catching on? Or maybe the jury's still out. Bischoff doesn't really care about Matt's confidence, and instead informs him that "Oh, by the way, I know you're in no condition to wrestle, but it WAS a condition of the contract you just signed, so why don't you head to the ring for a little tune-up match against Snitsky?".... huh, this is even less explicable than Bischoff's mysterious grudge against John Cena, but whatever....

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Matt Hardy vs. Gene Snitsky

Matt is limping, bandaged, and not even in his ring gear. You can tell because his camo pants are NOT Bedazzlered this week, which means they are just his every-day camo pants. He also has to take a moment after his ring entrance to pull on various pads and protective gear, since he didn't know he was wrestling. Nice little touch, I guess. Then Snitsky enters. And then, probably not so surprisingly, Edge and Lita decide to come check things out. They lounge on the commentary desk. As The Rick ordered, there is much innuendo about how Slutty Lita's Bedside Manner may have rendered the last week a bit more enjoyable for Edgeward. That's what made you two kids heels in the first place, so way to run with it....

The match is pretty sucky, and more just an excuse to tell a story that I think we already had had the gist of. Matt's hurt, so he tries dodging Snitsky at first. Then he finally gets trapped. Then he gets beat up for a minute or two. Then he makes his heroic comeback. But then his poor health catches up with him. Snitsky scores the win with some kind of tilt-a-whirly powerslam. Whee?

Your Winner: Gene Snitsky, via pinfall, in about 2 minutes flat. Not really any good, but like I said, it was about the story. And then, well, it was about ANOTHER story, too, because....

After the Match: Snitsky went to ringside and grabbed the ring bell. Edge and Lita feigned that they didn't want Snitsky to hit Hardy with it, and were kind of mocking JR's outrage. Snitsky stood over Hardy in the ring, holding the bell, for what seemed like a little too long. Finally, somebody cued up Big Show's music, and out lumbered the Giant. Just as Flair before him, though, it was the ENTRANCE MUSIC that had the powers, as Snitsky immediately.... whoa, no, wait! It looks like Snitsky is NOT being repelled by the power of Theme Music. He's still holding his ground and threatening to hit Hardy with the bell even as Show makes his way to the ring. And then, finally, Snitsky just goes ahead and whacks Hardy with the ring bell while Show is still sauntering on down. Hardy's now hurt even worse, Snitsky hightails it out through the crowd, and Big Show gets up into the ring, having served absolutely no earthly purpose here. This is supposed to do anything to add to my nonexistent interest in Show vs. Snitksy? No sale.

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Vignette: Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch are coming to WWE to win the World Tag Team Titles. Well, Cade's coming to do that. Murdoch is apparently coming to drop trou and befoul his opponents in some profanely biological manner. Cade once again gets him to settle down, and says it's only a matter of time before the tag titles are theirs. Know what he means? Coming out of the vignette, JR actually says that Cade/Murdoch's debut will come later tonight in a non-title match against Hurricane and Rosey. Huh.

John Cena vs. Tyson Tomko (Non-Title Match)

They sell it like Cena is concussed and in no condition to wrestle due to Tomko's earlier attack. Which might have had a bit more impact if (1) Tomko's earlier attack had been a bit more comprehensive, and if (2) they hadn't just done the exact same gimmick 10 minutes before with Matt Hardy.

It also might have seemed a bit more convincing if Cena didn't come out to the ring Fresh As A Daisy. He took the fight to Tomko, with some punchy-kicky. Then he paused to remove his Steve Austin T-shirt (dumb girls in the audience: "SQEEEEEEEEEEEEAAL"; guys in the audience: "You're not impressing me, Homey the Clown"). Then he resumed the same basic clubbering. Tomko managed to turn the tide with something I think I remember as being an eyerake. Very subtle and complex.

So Tomko's offense goes on for maybe 90 seconds. Over half of which is a Chinlock Variation. Yay! Cena powers out of that, and then reverses an Irish Whip, ducks the Big Boot of Suck, and shoulder tackles Tomko to regain control. Is it just me, or are the transitions and connectors in this match really underwhelming? An eyerake? A shoulder tackle? Where's the drama, where's the build up, to these key moments? From the shoulder tackle comes the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Then the Reebok Pump-Up. Then the F-U. Just like that, it's over.

Your Winner: John Cena, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Oy. So they built Tomko up for the sole purpose of having him job out to Cena in a match that nobody gave a shit about? I'm not so sure that's the path I'd have taken. There are better ways to have handled this and made it a more impactful win. As it stands, it's just more of boring old "Superman Cena," instead of doing things that ever make us worry about his well-being, and thus, connect with the dude. Also: WWE's just lucky that MOST of their fans won't stop to consider the implications, but after this match, doesn't the Transitive Theory of Pro Wrestling dictate that if Tomko can beat one set of tag team champs all by himself, and if Cena can beat Tomko, then Cena could probably beat Hurricane, Rosey, Heidenreich, AND Animal single-handedly? You can probably throw in.... ummm.... The Naturals? I don't even remember who the TNA tag champs are, but you could put them in the match, and Cena would beat them, too.

After the Match: Cena celebrates heading up the ramp, making the Rookie Mistake of turning back to face the crowd. And like a puma, Kurt Angle pounces from behind. Some real intense stuff here, too. Cena eats various steel staging elements. And then, the coup de grace is an Angle Slam on the stage. Ouch. Angle grabs the WWE Title belt and holds it aloft. More big boos, and more "+ rep" from the socially-worthless "Death to Leechers" crowd. Tell me I wasn't right last week, Cena Lovers, I dare you.... Homey the Clown doesn't say a fricking word this week, and Cena's feud with Angle is as hot as it's been yet. Cena's competent enough to pull this off, but it's only because Angle's this freaking good.
 
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Backstage: Todd Grisham has got Kurt Angle for a few probing questions. Well, one probing question, and then Kurt's more than capable of winging it from there. You see, Todd wants to know what's up with Angle attacking Cena three weeks in a row. Kurt says, "It's a pattern that proves Cena's WWE Title reign is phony, it's fake, it's a farce, and it's about to come to an end." Oh, preach on, Kurtis! "Cena comes out here and talks to his [mocking tone of voice]chain gang[/mocking] about real recognizing real. You want real, Cena? You're looking at it. I'm as real as it freaking gets." Oh, tasty; methinks Kurt reads his OO, too. Well, or OO just writes such good shit that we came up with this weeks ago. And finally, Angle closes by promising all kinds of pain, agony, defeat, and being exposed as a fraud at Unforgiven. Because, he says, "I'm the most vicious son of a bitch in WWE." As Angle storms off and we cut back to the arena, JR deadpans, "Can't argue with that." Which I think is the tacit approval to anyone who took that as a babyface promo (like I did). Luckily for Cena's crowd of impressionable junior high schoolers, they probably aren't quite sharp enough to have realized it.

Diva Search Ashley vs. Torrie Wilson (w/ Victoria and Boobies McTitsalot)

You know, I want to not like Ashley because of how she came to us... but she keeps finding little ways to make me think she'll turn out alright. Then you had her "promo" earlier, which kinda died on the table, probably due to nerves or shyness or whatever. And now, I already got a bad feeling here, because she's still a novice in the ring, and the way to make her look the best is NOT to put her in there with a Bikini Contest Expert like Torrie.... there needs to be hand-holding, here. Not dueling levels of inexperience. So even before this started, I wasn't sure it'd accomplish much of anything good.

I was right. Torrie went on offense immediately, as Ashely got distracted by Victoria. Torrie's offense? Pretty much all hair-pulling related. When Ashley tried a comeback, it was an attempted sunset flip gone horribly awry. D'oh. That scores a "You Fucked Up" chant. They just sort of roll through that and Torrie decides to kick Ashley in the ovaries to regain control. More Hair Stuff. Whip into the Corner. Ashley gets a boot up, and then comes storming out with a (oh, let's be generous and actually call it a) Thesz Press. Some reasonable intensity there with the punchy-kicky, but then it's Ashley's turn to do Hair Stuff. Whee. Boobies causes a distraction on one side of the ring, luring the referee. Ashely gets whipped into the opposite side ring ropes, and is low-bridged by Victoria. Ashley taks a nice bump to the outside, where Victoria administers a further beating (dropping Ashley's face across the ring apron). Then Victoria tosses her back into the ring, where Torrie performs the superfluous Facebuster and gets the pin. The Evil Trio of Pastel Wearing Divas celebrate, while Ashley slinks away from the ring holding her nose (JR says it could be broken, but hey, at least the face piercing sustained no damage!).

Your Winner: Torrie Wilson, via pinfall, in about 2-3 minutes. Ummm, so yeah: not very good. But the not-very-good-ness might be spun as playing into the storyline here, which is that Ashley is learning, is still vulnerable, and is just doing her best out there. Which again is EXACTLY the story that I advocate (just as I did for Spaz earlier this year). If Ashley's to be believable and sympathetic, this is how we'll get there. But also: she really should spend the next week doing nothing but learning how to run the damned ropes. Talk about bowling shoe ugly....

Vignette: You're shitting me? Another Chris F. Masters montage? This has officially entered the realm of the absurd. The fast-forwardably absurd. But the absurd nonetheless. Who are you trying to convince, WWE? Cuz at this point, there's so much evidence on the table that you've failed to convince us, so you MUST be doing this for your own fricking benefit.

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Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Conway

Shelton enters first to a respectable pop. Conway enters second to basically no reaction, but to a HIGHLY inappropriate discussion about see-through underpants and the announce team's own underwear preferences. My brain, it feels so.... unclean.

Before the match can begin, somebody fires up a bit of third-rate Sinatra (or a reasonable facsimile there of; something that would no doubt be cheap to license), and out drives Chavo Guerrero in a golf cart and his Country Club Douchebag garb. Except: not Chavo. It's "Kerwin White." Except: bless you JR for calling him "Chavo" the whole time, and not being dumb enough to play along with the charade. Why do I suspect this very issue was the topic of many High Ranking WWE Meetings in which certain assclowns think that "Kerwin White" should be taken seriously as his own man instead of a new identity of Chavo's? Anyway, Chavo parks the cart at ringside, so he can watch this match. And why might he want to watch this match? Well, keep in mind that he made racist comments about Shelton not more than a few weeks ago, so... you may commence to feeling the same sinking feeling in your stomach that I felt last night.

Conway starts out on top, thanks to the initial distraction by Kerwin... but Shelton doesn't let that stand for long, and so we do an opening minute or two of back-and-forthy. That ends, however, when Conway does something sneaky to send Shelton flying out of the ring to the floor. What that thing was? We'll never know. Because the cameras were too busy wasting time with shots of Chavo golf clapping. Oy.

Begin the Sustained Offense for Conway.... which led up to his choice for a Fire-Up-Out-Of-Able Resthold: a side headlock. Whoa, so the "Con-Way" is the "Even More Boring Than Orton Way"? Shelton stages his comeback, and is bringing a little more intensity (with stiff right hands and stiff clotheslines) instead of the usual high energy/high risk stuff.  They do a spot where they tease both guys taking a bump out of the ring onto Chavo's golf cart, but neither guy goes out. Instead, Conway eats a hangman move, and is easy prey for more of Shelton's offense. 

A few more nice little spots, and then Shelton rolls Conway up for a near fall... but Conway kicks out with authority. Enough authority to send Shelton stumbling back into the ring ropes. Right where Chavo is parked. So Chavo reaches in with a golf club and trips up Shelton. Conway immediately took advantage of the discombobulated Shelton by doing a roll-up of his own. Add in a handful of tights, and that's all she wrote. Conway gets out of dodge while he can, Chavo does a masterful job of throwing it into reverse and getting his cart back up the ramp (hey, good driving: it must run in the Guerrero family!), and Shelton seethes.

Your Winner: Rob Conway, via pinfall, in about 5-6 minutes. You know, this was probably the Match of the Night. But if so, it's only by default. I don't like the Kerwin/Racism stuff, Conway's offensive was plodding and meant Shelton didn't have a ton of heat on his comeback... but the final 3 minutes of this match once Shelton WAS on offense had just about the only really significant ringwork and creativity of the night. And the little finish was performed very smoothly, too. But still, when the best of the night is "bleh," there's problems.

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That Didn't Take Long: Less than a week after signing his new WWE Contract, here's Mick Foley on TV! Except it's only in video package form. In this case, a video package from a book signing he did in NYC for his new release, "Scooter." The punchline to the bit is Mick talking about the satisfaction he gets from expressing himself creatively... and there's no better place to do that than in front of a WWE crowd. Winkwinknudgenudge.

Hurricane/Rosey vs. Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch (Non-Title Match)

I firmly believe that, outside of a certain VERY limited circle of bodybuilders and gay porn addicts, nobody male or female really registers a difference between the body types of Carlito Cool and Chris Masters. Well, unless you're blind you REGISTER the difference, but you just don't give a shit or assign any significance to it. I think it's actually like the male version of getting an unnecessary boob job; you've either got it or not already. By going to such ridiculous ends for cosmetics, you're only making it possible for people to wonder about your shallowness or insecurity and you're not really gonna fool any halfway-discerning person into thinking better of you than they would have before. So it's with that said that I once again applaud the WWE Debut of Trevor Murdoch, who has no business appearing on TV shirtless, but does so anyway. Screw the insecurities of the fake-boobed or ass-injecting! Trevor Murdoch is showing you REAL BALLS!

He even starts off for his team. This did not go well. The deal here was mostly Murdoch's offense being easily countered by the Speedy Hurricane or the Powerful Rosey, leaving him to go exhibit "frustration" in the form of funny faces and pitching a little fit. Oooooookay. So Murdoch's a victim of the tag champs' superior teamwork for a bit, but finally does make it to his corner, where he tags in Cade. Together, they manage to double team Rosey by hanging him up on the top rope. And with that, Rosey becomes your Babyface In Peril.

Lots of frequent tags by the Cade/Murdoch duo, who stay on Rosey by choking him out in the ropes, doing double-team suplexes, and all kinds of stuff. The teamwork they exhibit is grounds for a few complimentary mentions from the heel announcers. During this stretch, Murdoch CONTINUES making funny faces and pitchign fits, only this time, he does it when he fails to get a three-count after a move. The heel tear ends in an awkward spot where Cade pretty much just took Rosey over into a corner and said, "Hey, you stand right there, and I'm gonna go up to the top rope so you can slam me off, OK?"... I swear, that's exactly what it looked like. Not good. But it also opened the door for Rosey to hot tag Hurricane.

About 90 seconds straight of Hurricane going to town on Murdoch ensued... then Cade finally got his ass in gear and tried to join in. And then, as we set up for the finish, things got kinda weird and disjointed again. Because after Cade joined in the attack and the heels regained the advantage, Rosey swooped in and tossed Cade out over the top rope. But then, instead of moving 18 inches to his left to help his partner out, he just moseyed on out of the ring to go after Cade. Huh. And then he stood out there punching away on Cade, while all of five feet away, Murdoch went up to the top rope and came off to hit Hurricane with a flying bulldog. That was enough for the win.

Your Winners: Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade, via pinfall, in about 5-6 minutes. Decent formulaic tag match, at least up till the end when things seemed to get awkward and sloppy. The finish was definitely a close cousin of the last week's Michaels/Flair vs. Carlito/Masters main event in terms of being either (a) poorly plotted or (b) poorly executed. Before they do the inevitable title rematch, Cade/Murdoch need PROMO time, I believe, not more ring time. Their ring work will be solid-but-unspectacular, it appears, but their personalities will drive this whole thing; they could be a new La Resistance in terms of filling that niche of competently heelish tag team du jour.

Vignette: #4 in the Chris F. Masters Collection of Suck. Unbelievable the amount of promotional effort that CONTINUES to go into a guy who has delivered such piddling returns.

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PPV Hype: They run the Unforgiven line-up (complete with Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Masters, "regardless of what happens here tonight"... d'oh). Really, you needed that one more anchor match, Writer Monkeys. This line-up doesn't sizzle for the average fan, and there's not a single match on the card that can get "smart" fans salivating over the prospects of seeing a precious **** contest. Ugh. It's 10 days away, and already, the Unforgiven PPV Preview is feeling like it'll be a chore and a half.

Backstage: Todd Grisham is joined by Chris F. Masters. Masters is straight out of 1987 with a heel promo that serves only to discuss how devastating the Full Nelson is. And then for showing us how big and muscley he is, and how that means he's so clearly going to use his Full Nelson to break Shawn Michaels' neck. And again, this goes back to my little ranty rant above (I put everything in here for a reason)... because if the only "purpose" served by Masters being all huge is to make a crappy finishing hold that was used up 15 years ago seem compelling? Forget about it. We don't buy YOUR Full Nelson any more than we'd buy Trevor Murdoch's, CF... and no amount of pec flexing is gonna change that. The only times somebody's physical appearance will really affect the movesets they can sell fans on are in cases of a giant (like Big Show, obviously; but also the same kind of deal for your Kane's or Taker's) or of a fat man (like Viscera or Rosey). Other than that, for the other 90% of the roster, cosmetics don't matter after a certain point, dum dums. Being somehow interesting or compelling in the ring and out does. A full nelson and a bicep flex? Sorry, but that's a recipe for Nobody Giving A Shit. Just like I didn't about this promo. And just like I don't for what's coming up after these....

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Shawn Michaels vs. Chris F. Masters (Shitty Full Nelson Challenge)

OK, so even though countless ones of these (after the first few weeks of audience plants trying their hands) have involved actual wrestling exchanges leading up to the full nelson, this week we're back to just the steel chair in the middle of the ring. Instead of any other chicanery, Michaels just plops down in the chair, and is gonna let Masters apply the hold. Masters, attempting to muster up some sizzle for this thing by grasping at cheap heat, stalls a few times before finally deciding he was ready to go.

So the full nelson is locked in. Michaels flails. Michaels tries backing Masters into a corner; this fails to loosen the hold. Michaels tries going to the other corner to "walk up the ropes" to leverage out; this only succeeds in pushing both guys back onto the mat. Michaels tries to get a running start at a corner, and then ducks so Masters head goes into the top turnbuckle; this also doesn't work.

And then: you just repeat that same basic sequence. Funny thing is, though: during the second time through, Masters lost the hold twice that I saw. Fricking stiff can't even keep his hands clasped together for 3 minutes while Shawn does all the work for him? Great. The ref, of course, must ignore this, and the announcers stay mum. The alternative would have been to say that Michaels didn't get Full Separation, so therefore, didn't break the hold, I guess.

After that time through the sequence. Masters must need a rest, so they go to the middle of the ring, and do about a minute of teasing that Michaels is losing consciousness. But at the last second, the power of Christ compels Shawn to fire up. And to mule kick Masters in his shriveled testicles. Finally, some crowd heat for this, as I am once again vindicated in my belief that the only value Chris Masters has is in the VERY INSTANT in which he is neutered and sent back to finish cooking in OVW. They don't want to "pay to see him lose a match," because that would suggest they find anything compelling about a Chris Masters match. But they WILL pop for that one moment where the guy's lame gimmick is finally tanked. I thought it would be Big Show who did the honors, but here, it's looking for all the world like Shawn Michaels will pull it off.

Except: as soon as Shawn hits the mule kick and begins to power out of the hold, Masters just releases it and shoves Shawn to the mat. The hell? The ref makes no call, and the announcers assure us that the rules of the Full Nelson Challenge are that Shawn must escape to win. Which he didn't: Shawn was released.  Ooooookay, whatever, dudes. Masters grabs the chair from earlier (conveniently, it never left the ring), and whacked Michaels in the skull. Michaels came up bleeding.
 
So since all that was apparently totally legal, Masters just gets behind Michaels, waits for him to get to his feet, and re-applies the full nelson. To DEAD SILENCE. Because any reason fans had for giving a shit about this match is now long gone. The ref waits about 15 seconds and decides Shawn's not firing up this time, so he rings the bell. Again, mostly silence, but an undercurrent of... you know, that's not even booing. That's "grumbling." Or maybe the "Nitro Boos" circa 1998, when WCW seemed unable to tell the difference between "we don't like this guy" heat and "we are dissatisfied with the caliber of this climax" heat. This? Is the latter kind of heat.

Your Winner: Chris F. Masters, via submission, in about 4-5 minutes. Really not very good, and as a bonus, not very good and in the Main Event Slot. Oy. They tried for some drama, kinda doing cage-match-style teases, but there are really only 2-3 types of "escape teases" you can do, and once Shawn ran through them all twice, that was it. A brief relapse of interest for the sac-kick, but once it was inevitable that Masters was winning, it was back to silence. Because there is nothing interesting about Chris Masters. I've been saying it for months. The (lack of) reaction to his second consecutive "breakthrough" win in a RAW main event certainly makes me feel mighty confident that I've been right all those months, too. Annoying, unsatisfying, head-shake-inducing end to a show that felt a little differently paced all night. Other than Kurt's stuff, there wasn't anything to get interested in; but it moved so fast there wasn't anything to get frustrated with, either. Until the finish, which once again leaves a really bad taste in my mouth. It wasn't good on its own merits, and it will lead to nothing good in the future. Sorry, but I can find no silver lining here.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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