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If You Can't Wow Them, 
Then At Least Please Them 
September 20, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Talk about a fortuitous night for The Me, last night.

With my enthusiasm over wrestling at a low-point, and no longer having a reason to be done with the show in "real time," I've sort of taken to holding back on watching RAW until it's fully recorded, so I can enjoy other things during "prime time," while I'm still at my freshest; I figure I'll watch stuff I know is good when I'm in a good mood. Then I can take down RAW in about 80-90 minutes flat before beddy-bye time; and if wrestling's not very, at least this way I don't have time to get all snippy about it and write 20KB of venom before bed, like I did 3-4 weeks ago.

For my entertainment efficiency, I think this is a good plan to be using for now. And for your sakes, it's best, too, if I'm not tempted to ejaculate 1000 words of immediate post-RAW hatred; I can sleep on any frustration, and the recap will be more concise and level-headed as a result. Win/win, baby!

So that's what I was doing last night... watching a bunch of other stuff after dinner. Some DVR'ed shows, obviously the debut of Arrested Development, and even keeping tabs on the two football games for Fantasy Related reasons.

I was enjoying things until... tragedy nearly struck; we had bad weather in the area last night, and I had 

a 10 minute little power outage around 10:35 (eastern). 

Lucky break #1: the outage didn't last long. Lucky break #2: when I checked, it looked as though DVR's recording of RAW maintained its structural integrity and would play (for some reason, if a recording gets interrupted on my box, you can't access it at all), and had resumed recording, as well. Which meant that I wouldn't be punished for my mutinous non-real-time RAW Watching; I still had 90% of the show safely recorded.

Lucky break #3: before I started watching RAW, I got great Fantasy Football news. Unlike last week (when I dominated the league with the highest point total), I scored the third-lowest points this week. AND I STILL WON MY GAME~! MUWHAHAHAHAHAHA! Now *that* is evil, my friends; waiting until I have a weak opponent to make a bunch of dumb roster moves! "Big Ups," as the kids say, to whoever the hell "J. Jones" on the Cowboys is for racking up just enough rushing yards for me to eek out the anemic victory!

Lucky break #4: RAW turned out to be pretty enjoyable. To me, it was exactly the "mediocre, but kinda fun" show that alot of you WWE Apologists tried to paint "Unforgiven" as... nothing you'll remember a week from now, but with wall-to-wall interesting segments. Well, except for one, but that was damned short. At the end of the night, RAW only really existed to start setting the line-up for Oct. 3's USA Network homecoming (and with two matches that don't make a lick of sense, at that), and was otherwise treading water. But guess what? They kinda treated it like a house show, and just focused on guys who could go out there and actually connect with the audience and make sure it looked like everybody was having fun. Right up to the main event, which struck me as immensely silly, like the type of thing they do for post-TV taping Dark Matches for the live crowd... but it was also, for a one-week break, completely inoffensive entertainment. So a surprising dearth of any incredibly frustrating segments/booking was something else about last night I really enjoyed. And because of the way WWE's been going lately, I feel like I am within my rights to chalk that up to "luck," and nothing else... ZING~!

Anyway, point is, "sleeping on it" this week wasn't necessary. RAW was just fine. Any gripes I have are not really in the entertainment value of this week's effort, but just sort of befuddlement at a few of the announcements they made for Oct. 3. And I'll take a being a little confused, as long as they're keeping me amused for the most part. Which they did: WWE seems to know it's treading water, but on this night decided that if they weren't gonna wow anybody, they'd at least make the effort to satisfy us with some crowd pleasing fluffery.

Lucky break #5: after an initial bit of panic over what I missed in those 10 minutes, and not getting any satisfaction on my initial attempt to fill in the blanks, it turns out I missed nothing. Literally, nothing. I missed a some replays, some video packages, some commercials, and the ring entrances for the main event. If I could have picked 8-or-so minutes to lose, those would have been it, Junior. To a guy who has to try to wring an entertaining RAW Recap out of the show, this was like hitting the jack-pot! The only stuff I didn't see is stuff I would have glossed over, anyway. 

So with all the stars in alignment, let's get on with telling you all about WWE's latest half-advertisement/half-house-show that still somehow managed to very effectively masquerade as a satisfying 2 hour Monday Night show....

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live somewhere in a tiny city in Texas. I think it was Wichita Falls, maybe. Somewhere where they (a) are about 12 months behind the rest of us on pop culture/fashion/knowing-enough-to-boo-John Cena, and (b) don't get a whole lot of top flight entertainment, so they were lapping WWE up with a spoon. Hey: a hot (if smallish) crowd makes for a nice atmosphere, so really, I'm not bitching. Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman tell us that we've got three big matches confirmed for tonight (Trish vs. Torrie, Flair vs. Carlito, and a huge 8-man tag combining four "Unforgiven" rematches into one big match), and then send us down to the ring to get this party started...

Reason #389837 To Not Teach "Intelligent Design" in Schools Theatre

Eric Bischoff's music hits, and he comes on out.... with the Traditional WWE Title belt on his shoulder, which clearly has a name plate reading "Kurt Angle." Ummm, so OK, I admit it: this got me a bit pissy. Just because the finish at Unforgiven was unconscionably screwy doesn't mean I really wanted the Fed to make things even worse by doing what it sure as hell looks like they are doing. I'm defnitely getting a sinking feeling here: whether they really do a title stripping or a vacancy or even if it's a swerve, this is still pretty dumb. And it certainly does NOT excuse the poorness of Unforgiven. 

Comically: Bischoff is onscreen about 3.7 nanoseconds when I spot the belt and the Angle nameplate. It takes the announcers a full minute, until after Bischoff has already gotten into the ring, to notice the belt. And even longer before Coach notices the name plate. C'mon, guys.

Sidebar: four days ago in the PPV Preview, one of Online Onslaught dot Com's most insightful, clever, and ruggedly handsome personalities uttered the line, "I fully expect to see the return of the non-gay-looking WWE Title Belt on Monday night." This person was right (even if for the wrong reasons), and should be somehow awarded Bonus Points in our Prediction Big Battel.

Bischoff begins speaking, and his first line is "I understand that there's some confusion over who is the WWE Champion." Well, OK, I thought it had all been settled, but if he wants to go dragging up what a god-awfully-conceived climax that was to Unforgiven, it's his show... remind us. But instead of really explaining anything that happened, Bischoff just says he's here to clear up the confusion. First, all he needs is for Kurt Angle to join him in the ring.

So Kurt comes down, looking ready for action (mouthpiece and all). He really milks it, posing and "celebrating," since he also appears a bit quicker on the uptake than the announcers and knows what's coming next. So why not pre-celebrate his title win? I swear to you, Kurt spends 2-3 full minutes on this, and is exuded the kind of assholitude that just makes me love the guy all the more.
Finally he's had enough of getting booed out of the building, and heads to the center of the ring to join GM Bischoff. Sleazy E says that last night at Unforgiven, John Cena displayed a flagrant disdain for authority when he assaulted the General Manager. But one of the good things about being the General Manager is having the power to do something to fix that. So by the power vested in him by the WWE Board of Directors (a ha, at the mention of the Board, all of you smarter than your pet cats should suddenly have known EXACTLY where this was going), Bischoff strips Cena of the WWE Title. And furthermore, he's very proud to introduce us to the new WWE Champion...

Vince McMahon?

The not-so-surprising surprise appearance by Vince is actually sold well by the announcers, who admit that they'd heard Vince might be here tonight, but that they thought it would be later in the show. So Vince's music and his power strutting interrupt the Title Presentation Ceremony, and now all three men have mics...

Bischoff tries to start in sycophantic mode. Vince is having none of it, and Kurt can see that's not the way to butter the boss' popcorn... so Angle cuts in and says he knows Vince is just here to congratulate him on his big victory over John Cena at Unforgiven. Vince, diplomatically (but unenthusiastically), says "Sure, congratulations. Hell of a feat. I guess." Vince is about to get to HIS point, when Angle cuts him off again, because he wants to assure Mr. McMahon that as WWE Champion, Kurt Angle will represent the company with the Three I's: which, if I remember correctly (how long has it been?) are Intensity, Integrity, and Intelligence.

At this, Vince makes a face as though somebody farted. Or was possibly still just smelling the remnants of Unforgiven. It appears as though Kurt just went one step too far.... "Umm, who made you WWE Champion, Kurt?" asks Vince. Angle, at first confident, then confused, then buck-passing, eventually decides to just say, "He did" while pointing to Bischoff.

But it turns out ol' Uncle Eric might not have all the powers he thinks he does, vested in him by the Board of Directors. Because the Chairman of said Board declares that the rules explicitly state that titles can only change hands by submission or pinfall. And there was neither of those last night at Unforgiven. Bischoff tries blubbering some thing about Cena assaulting him, but Vince turns that around by doing a mocking Crybaby Voice of Bischoff's claims (which, sadly, is not nearly as funny as I think Vince thought it was, but in this case, Bischoff is such an unlikable stooge that it still gets a chuckle from the audience), and then getting serious again. 

Because yes, Angle beat Cena last night, but it was via Disqualification. So therefore (yanking the non-gay-looking WWE Title belt off Bischoff's shoulder), John Cena is still YOUR WWE Champion. Or possibly our WDWD Champion, if you actually listened closely. I don't know if Vince was tongue-tied, of if he let slip with some secret new plan that'll out-stupid the WBF and the XFL combined. Because John Cena WOULD make a great Weekly Display of Wigger Douchebaggery Champion! But I digress.
Vince says he's cleared up the WWE Title situation, but he originally came here tonight to make a Big Announcement. So he'll make it now. And with the Thud Of Predictability, it turns out he's here to tell us about "WWE Homecoming," a very special 3 hour RAW taking place in two weeks. He strategically (for legal reasons, I'm sure) fails to say WHERE you can see the "Homecoming," but does run the line-up of guest stars: Mick Foley (cheers), Triple H (mix of cheers and boos), Hulk Hogan (same mix that HHH got; whoa, that's weird!), and Dramatic Pause (and the live crowd starting shouting out "Stone Cold," proving that not only does Wichita Falls have the internet, but even in backwater burgs, WWE has whittled its fanbase down to a core of pretty loyal internet-reading fans, if they knew what Vince was about to say)... then Vince also says that Steve Austin will be there (cheers).

Kurt thinks this is all well and good, but he wants to know what the hell it has to do with "us" (him and Bischoff). Vince gets a dirty look on his face, as if he doesn't like being interrupted, but says, "Oh it's got a LOT to do with you." Because on October 3, there will be a WWE Title Match. Says Vince: "It'll be John Cena defending against YOU.... [dramatic pause for Kurt Angle to look happy].... Eric Bischoff." Play Vince's music so he can leave the ring while Bischoff tries to convey the notion that he's scared shitless.

Oy. This was fun to see the three interacting, but Cena vs. Bischoff? What the hell? I re-assert my belief that last night was the PERFECT time to have Angle get a tap-out win over Cena (because of all the storytelling leading up to the match, Cena was "protected")... and then you can do the Cena/Bischoff novelty match on the Homecoming show, and have it be Cena's "get-well" match, where he trounces the guy who contributed to his title loss, and which will put him in position to make another run at Champion Kurt Angle. Instead: Bischoff in a title match? Kinda dumb... and if this was all part of the "master plan" all along, and it's why they did the shitty finish they did at the PPV to setup this swerve and the announcement of Bischoff in a title match? Well, it's like the bold section header says: "intelligent design" is not real... at least, not in WWE.

Backstage: Trish Stratus is just grabbing her Women's Title belt, in anticipation of her match. Which is next. Gripe: what the Masters was up with that music in the background. Because Trish is a girl, she can't get the normal crap-metal bumper music as WWE goes to break? They have to pipe in some shitty, saxophone-heavy adult-contemporary quasi-jazz? Note to WWE: you're not making movies, so you don't need a soundtrack. And even if you were, this wasn't the soundtrack that fits Trish. Please never do this again; for it is a minor thing, but one that I can assure you would annoy me deeply, resulting in plenty of ranting and riffing that your expense by The Me.


Backstage: Vince is on his way to the limo (still with the non-gay WWE Title Belt), and Bischoff is shadowing with him, pleading to cancel the Bischoff/Cena match. Because he's not a wrestler ("You got that karate thing, though" mutters Vince) and his talents will be best utilized backstage, preparing a HUGE show for Homecoming in 2 weeks. This argument, at least, makes some sense to Vince. Or appears to. He says, "I'll think about it." Bischoff thanks him, and helps Vince into his limo. Vince rolls his window down, and calls Bischoff back. "I've thought about it. The match is still on." PLONK. Well, at least now we know where Randy Orton and John Cena get their senses of humor from. Or who the Hollywood Writer Monkeys are trying to placate when they put crappy dialogue in the mouths of Randy Orton and John Cena...

Trish Stratus vs. Torrie Wilson (Women's Title Match)

Have I just missed this before, or is Torrie Wilson suddenly looking much skinnier than she ever has? Maybe it's just cuz this is Diva Magazine Photo Shoot Season coming up, and she'll get back to herself soon enough? Me no likey if this is a conscious decision by Torrie, though, to permanently lose her ass in the name of becoming another broomstick with boobs... if her (self-admitted) job is to be useless eye candy, then let's make it the Rick's favorite flavor, at least!

Sadly, I almost fear this is a permanent change, as Torrie's also carrying a damned chihuahua to the ring. Which she's only doing because it's a known affectation of Paris Hilton. Who, in addition to many other problems rendering her Worthless To The Human Race, definitely has Broomstick Tendencies. Of course, the dog also gives Lawler and Coach even more reasons than usual to make puppy references. Thanks for nothing, Paris Hilton.

The match here is really a big fat pile of nothing. Torrie is accompanied by Victoria and Boobies McTitsalot, who immediately interfere and help Torrie off to a fast start. But Trish is accompanied by Diva Search Ashley, who puts her two cents in as soon as the match spills outside, and helps Trish regain the advantage. Limited as Torrie is, there's not a whole lot to do here, so they almost immediately go to a spot where Trish gets on the top rope, with Bad Intentions. But Boobies distracts the ref, while Victoria shoves Trish off the ropes. Torrie goes for a pinfall, but when Trish kicks out, she gets upset. And for some reason, gets upset at Victoria and Boobies. Huh. I guess they didn't cheat hard enough or something. While this is going on, Trish just rolls Torrie up with a School Girl, and gets the three-count out of nowhere.

Your Winner: Trish Stratus, via pinfall, in less than 2 minutes. Probably 90 seconds, tops. But this was pointless and forgettable because it only really existed for what happened....

After the Match: Trish and Ashley were celebrating, when Victoria attacked. Boobies and Torrie eventually joined in for a 3-on-2. Trish rallied briefly (with The Matrix causing some Heel Miscommunication), but in the end, the numbers caught up to them. Torrie hit a face-buster on Ashley, while Trish took a Widow's Peak from Victoria. I guess this could mean more tag matches, but I'm kinda hoping they use this as the impetus for splitting things up so that Trish/Victoria is more the one-on-one focus of the feud.


Trevor Murdoch vs. the Hurricane

Both men are accompanied by their tag partners, and the ring entrances are accompanied by footage of Murdoch and Lance Cade beating Hurricane and Rosey for the tag titles the night before on PPV. Focus is on Hurricane's Hanging DDT bump at the hands of Murdoch, and how that was the difference make in the match. Makes sense to me... and now it should make sense to the other 80% of the audience that didn't sit through the PPV.

Hurricane starts fast, using the powers of righteous indignation to pummel Murdoch. FYI: I guess I might as well just break down and add "Murdoch" to my PC's custom spell-checker dictionary. Note to Other trOOps: he ain't going nowhere, so you might as well do the same. The pummeling of Trevor gives him an excuse to powder out to ringside and make funny faces while Cade tries to settle him down. This repeats a few times until Rosey finally decides to put an end to it by playing Lumberjack, tossing Murdoch back into the ring.

So this actually commences a pretty solid beatdown by Hurricane; Murdoch just got a few spots in here and there, but it was mostly the good guy in charge. Until he went up top and hit a missile dropkick. Turns out he hit his target, but he also landed on the shoulder that was injured on the DDT bump the night before.... ahh, see how it all ties together?

Hurricane tried to continue the assault one-armed, but he eventually got Murdoch backed into a corner, where Murdoch was able to an all-right-handed turnbuckle mount-and-punch move by picking Hurricane up and dropping him into a Snake Eyes. Then Murdoch hit a DDT (a regular one, this time), and that was enough for the win.

Your Winner: Trevor Murdoch, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Bland, boring, and again forgettable... but points for continuity and playing off of the previous night's match for a believable, sensible finish. When things tie together like that, and involve characters fans buy into (or, in the case of Murdoch/Cade, are STARTING to buy into), then you've got Sustainable Episodic TV... and something doesn't have to be 100mph Crash TV with twists and turns if everything fits together and makes sense.

Backstage: Todd Grisham has Carlito Cool for an interview. And tonight? Carlito is really bringing a different vibe. After opening up with an over-the-top mini-rant about how he never tapped out (he was just reaching for the ropes and the ref THOUGHT he tapped out), there was no silliness to Carlito. For the first time I can recall, he's dead serious, he's not hitting his usual cadences for catchphrases and punchlines... he doesn't want people predicting them or singing along; very subtle, but a very nice touch of intensity (which makes you believe Carlito is really upset he lost his title) and heelishness. Carlito has his rematch with Ric Flair tonight, and he knows he can't lose twice to the old man, and the IC Title will be his again. Good, brief promo that shows us Carlito sometimes needs to be taken seriously.


Backstage: Edge is in Eric Bischoff's office, and he's furious. Because it's one thing for Matt Hardy to take out his aggressions on Edge, but it's another for him to have taken Lita out last night at the PPV. [Umm, OK, so she won't sell a Tombstone/stretcher job/ambulance attack for even one week, but she'll skip RAW to sell a Twist of Fate?] Bischoff says he knows, and he realizes that this thing between Matt and Edge is not over. And that the two still cannot be trusted to be in the same building together without tearing each other (and possibly others) apart. So Bischoff has an idea: in two weeks, at the Homecoming Dance, Edge and Hardy will face off one last time... in a Loser Leaves RAW Match. Edge likes it. But Bischoff isn't done: and it won't just be any match, it'll be a Ladder Match. And hanging above the ring? Edge's Money in the Bank Briefcase, with the Guaranteed Title Shot it contains. The winner stays on RAW and keeps the title match; the loser is gone. Oy. Points for coming up with something that feels like "Impending Closure" for this feud. But then deduct them and 87 more points for the illogic of the Money in the Bank shot being included. Because if Edge weren't retarded, shouldn't he just say, "Ummm, no, because I've decided I want to use my title shot tonight." The upset face he made indicates that would have been more logical, because he wouldn't be upset if he was confident he was going to win and hold onto his title shot. A minor, but legitimate gripe about another Common Sense Oversight by the writer monkeys. In this case, I guess what I'm supposed to do is shut up about it, since the lack of logic will be more than made up for by Edge and Hardy in a climactic Ladder Match? Alright, I'll play nice...

[FYI: I can here the Internet Jackoff Brigade already lamenting the End of Matt Hardy, who'll get sent over to SD! to rot... but my guess? If they want to do something interesting, it's EDGE who loses and goes to SD!.... and finds out that only HE is leaving RAW, but LITA is staying. Feel the drama! Not only would this free Lita up to wrestle again just in time for her to be medically cleared, but SD!, frankly, could use Edge as a top heel. Whereas HHH's return will make things a bit crowded on the RAW side, what with Angle kicking ass, and Carlito moving up the ladder. And Chris F. Masters probably not going away like he should. Plus, if this is a Multi-Layered Story, Lita stuck on RAW away from Her Man might eventually lead up to the onscreen reunion of Matt and Lita, playing off the patching up of most of their real life differences. Even better: have Matt play the loser-y puppydog who tries to win Lita back with things that make the crowd boo him. Have Lita fall for it, making them both heels. And then have Kane show up and be the babyface who feels HE was wronged by Lita -- and now by Matt. Just thinking out loud here, folks....]

The Lovely Miss Tomko vs. Some Guy

Well, this is where RAW whiffed. Tomko gets in the ring with some jobber, gives him the Big Boot o' Suck, and the ref declares that the jobber has been KO'ed. Of all the strange things.... they built Tomko up on Heat, brought him in (presumably to make Cena look like a bad-ass), jobbed him out, and now they're trying to re-do the monster push that didn't go anywhere the first time? All while Shelton Benjamin is stuck wrestling on Heat? Boo, says I.

Your Winner: Tyson Tomko, via "knock out," in about 30 seconds. I believe the line I'm supposed to use here is, "Well, at least it was short."
Video Package: the Flair/Carlito feud, including a new tag at the end where Flair wins the IC Belt at Unforgiven. No inclusion of the post-match comedy skits, though, so they aren't making that part of "the story" of the rematch.

Carlito Cool vs. Time Management

This is the second week recently when there's been some really funky pacing/formatting going on with WWE TV. After we've already had a backstage skit, a match, and a video package, for some reason, Carlito is now out to make his entrance, too... just in time for some...


Ric Flair vs. Carlito Cool (IC Title Match)

From the get-go, it's more of the same Serious Carlito, who is in no mood for hijinx. But Flair is all loosey-goosey to the point that the announcers say that his first singles title win in nearly a decade has brought back the Real Nature Boy, has imbued him with a confidence he's not had in a long time. Also: somebody (I think Coach) finally brings up Flair's 120-minute (but NOT All Night Long) performance with four women in the limo last night, and introduces it as something to keep in mind if the match drags on and Flair runs out of gas.

Flair's all easy-flowing chain wrestling, one-upping Carlito at every juncture. Carlito was already frustrated, so you better believe this only makes things worse. He does a lot of ducking out of the ring to regroup, and other heel shtick that the crowd is lapping up with a spoon. Also Waxing my Mustang: the way Carlito sold every single one of Flair's chops (a) with hilarious facial expressions, and (b) as if they were more devastating than a shotgun blast. This is how you take a 55-year-old man who still does one move very well and turn it into a wrestling match: by making that move look devastating as hell.

Flair just looks like he's having fun in there, in stark contrast to the extremely frustrated and serious Carlito. But that wasn't gonna last... in fact, things got a little weird, as Flair went from being in control to blatantly stalling for time with a real injury. Going back to check, it appears that the eye-rake Carlito used, intending it to just be a transitionary spot, accidentally connected for real, and caused Flair's left eye to start blackening/swelling. So Flair powdered out to the outside for a bit, and then when goosed by the ref to do something, he just lounged in a corner while Carlito would pepper in a few left hands (to the unhurt side of Flair's face), then get a ref break to compose himself, and then lather, rinse, repeat a few times till Flair felt OK to continue the match at full speed. It's only just as things are getting back to normal that the announcers finally spot the swollen eye and start mentioning it, too.

At this point, they went to a bit more intricate offense for Carlito. Then again, compared to punches and ref breaks, it didn't have to be Benoit-caliber... but still, it was noticeable when things got back on track after a 90 second or so delay. One fun little minor touch: Carlito did the turnbuckle mount-and-punch spot, and when the crowd started counting along with the punches, Carlito got visibly upset with them, screamed something, and then commenced to punching Flair again, but doing it ARHYTHMICALLY so that the fans couldn't count along. Dick. But also very savvy.

Eventually, Carlito got a bit too cocky, and decided to lace into Flair with some chops. Whoops. All that does is make Flair angry, who (although it's not exactly the most plausible of transitions) immediately reverse Carlito into the corner and lays in with chops of his own. Which Carlito again sells like mad. Just like that, Flair's back in control. So his first move? To go grab one of Carlito's apples from ringside and spit it in Carlito's face. Heh. Most guy's boring one-dimensional throw-away offense is what I dub the "punchy-kicky," but here in Flair's case, he went into essentially a minute straight of choppy-strutty. This leads up to a spot where Carlito's on the ring apron (after having been hangmanned), and Flair rams his head into the ring post, and then chops him down to the floor. Carlito is not liking how things are panning out, here, so he decides to take a walk up the ramp. And our announcers decide that is a good chance for us to look at....


Back, and Carlito's in control. Some "During the Break" footage reveals that Flair made a tactical error by following Carlito up the ramp... which is exactly what Carlito wanted, as it was a trap. Then they KEPT showing pointless "During the Break" footage for another 20 seconds or so, actually missing what looked like important live action, including a cool more or two and a pinfall attempt. Boo on you, Production Monkeys!

Carlito's offense is numerous and varied, or as the Native American's called it, "maize." Spinebuster here, vertical suplex there, lots of near falls (none of them quite convincing, but you wouldn't know that from Carlito's reaction to all the kick-outs). Finally, Carlito decides to go back to the Turnbuckle Mount-and-Punch spot. This time, he warns the crowd off in advance, and figures he can get away with punching rhythmically. Which works fine as far as the crowd goes, but not as far as Flair goes: for Flair countered about 3 punches in with an Inverted Atomic Drop. That's an ouchie. Carlito collapsed in the unspeakable throes of intense manpain, while Flair stumbled out of the corner, apparently contemplating following up.... but then Flopping to the canvas. Always a classic.

So the ref applies the double count, and after a pretty fun and lengthy match, that usually signals that we've entered End Game. When both guys get to their feet, Flair gain control with chops, but Carlito's still got some wits about him: he tries to roll out of the way of a Flair elbow drop... but in a reprise of a nice spot, Flair merely kept on walking as Carlito rolled and just dropped the elbow once Carlito stopped. It's now Flair's turn for a little bit of offense, as the announcers theorize that Flair needs to make it happen NOW, because between his swelling eye and his exhaustion from the night before, there can't be much left in the tank.

I swear to you: for about 3 minutes straight, the only wrestling moves were chops, punches, and eye pokes. Mostly by Flair, although Carlito got periodic single-shots in. And it didn't really matter: Flair made sure the crowd was involved, and although it was one-dimensional, the pace was fast enough that this never dragged. In fact, somebody might check the tape: after the commercial, through all of Carlito's offense and Flair's comeback: was there a single resthold? A chinlock or an armbar or anything? I don't remember there being one, because I kept on waiting for one so I could mentally bookmark it as the start of Flair's comeback. But instead, it was the turnbuckle-mount-and-punch that supplied that... which is part of the reason why this match was really clicking, I think.

Finally, Flair got cocky and decided to go to the top rope. It looked like Carlito had caught him, but Flair punched Carlito back down to the mat. And then came off with a flying tomahawk chop. For the second night in a row: Top Rope Success for Flair! The fans love it (and the announcers are hilarious in their disbelief that it worked again). From there, Flair started the Softening Up Process for the Figure Four. He chopblocked Carlito. Did a little stomping. Carlito managed a flurry of offense after he tossed Flair out of the ring and then followed. But when both men got back into the ring, Flair caught Carlito straddling the middle rope. So Flair kicked the middle rope, sending it straight into Carlito's already-abused nutsac. As Carlito suffered more of the manpain, Flair moved in and cinched in the Figure Four. Carlito seemed intent on not tapping out again; but last night, he was choking on an apple when Flair hit the move, and on THIS night, his testicles were throbbing (and not in the pleasant kind of way).... and under those mitigating circumstances, the Figure Four is just too much to handle. Flair actually adds to the mitigating circumstances by grabbing the middle rope for a bit of leverage, just as Carlito taps out.

Your Winner: Ric Flair, via submission, in about 20-22 minutes to retain the IC Title. If you wanted to be a purist, then you'd count the number of different moves/holds used in the match and probably come up with a low number. And then you'd come up with about 283 knife edge chops and think: No way is this a good match. But you'd be wrong. Because for my money, this was more entertaining than anything that took place the night before at Unforgiven (save, obviously, the Matt/Edge cage match). Not excellent by any means, but it was significantly better than average, and was just a lot of fun. Other than the brief discombobulation when Flair got eye-poked for real, the pace was very quick and something was always happening, and the crowd was into it because of the strength of the personalities. Good times, good times....

Backstage: Todd Grisham tries to interview Matt Hardy, but gets more than he bargained for. Because as soon as Matt mentions that it's not over with Edge, because he's got tonight's 8-man tag match main event and then a Ladder Match in 2 weeks, Shawn Michaels appears. Because you can't say "Ladder Match" without talking about the Showstopper. But wait, did somebody say "Show," because that's the name of a 7-foot giant who happens to meander into the frame to join two of his partners. Big Show boasts he's not just the baddest, but he's also "the biggest." Which is our final cue for the fourth member of the team to slink into frame to declare "He's telling the truth, I've seen him in the shower." That's right: John Cena, checking out other dudes' dudes since 2005! Show seems confused-yet-proud by Cena's affirmation, while Matt and Shawn both do about the same thing I did: cringe a bit and pityingly shake their heads. So, OK: that reaction take makes Cena's Wang Policing worthwhile. Cena then takes over the promo, since he's the captain of the team. He goes from guy to guy, saying something nice about each one. Then he ends up on Todd Grisham, who didn't know well enough to leave, and has nothing good to say about Todd. So to impress Cena, Todd does the Robot. Ugh. So Cena steals some things from Austin, and then delves into the Rock's playbook to steal shit that wasn't even funny in 2002 and which was part of the reason why Rock had to come back as a heel in 2003? Not wise. Not wise, and not funny, either. Unless you are maybe 11 years old. 

Anyway, after his pep-talking of his partners, Cena turned to the camera to put himself over for a bit. Culminating with "The Champ is Here" and a mean stare into the camera. And then, just to bail us out of Cena's incongruous mix of unfunny comedy and thuggish intensity, Michaels brings it back to the light-hearted: he pops up behind Cena, makes a chopping motion with his hand, and declares, "Aaaannnnnnnnd.... We're out." Most of this was silly, pointless fluff, and enjoyable because of it. It did, of course, seem heavily scripted and stilted in order to have all the "segues" that it did, but the only guy who really bugged me was -- you guessed it -- Cena, who continues to strike me more as a cartoon caricature than a real guy pretty much anytime he opens his mouth. Homey the Clown needs to just dial it down 3-4 notches, and he'd be fine. Honestly: the best comparison I can think of right now is to The Rock in the summer of 2002, when he was supposed to be a babyface, but was just laying it on so thick in his promos, that it seemed fake and forced. A heel turn was required, and since then, Rock's seemed to know about where the limit is... Cena exceeds that limit with frequency, and to annoy me, does it with his tendency towards Wiggerspeak. Still, wasn't my point that this was largely a fun bit of fluff? Yeah, it was. And Michaels even made sure that Cena wasn't the last taste in anybody's mouth... HBK to the rescue yet again.


Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand has a patented Dumb Question for Ric Flair, "Why do they call you the Nature Boy?". So Flair goes off on a rant about how it's because he can go All Night Long, and he proved it last night in OKC with four women and the limousines and the champagne and so forth. But then, being considerate of his interviewer, Flair decided to just leave her out of it and change gears on his own... because he said that the only reason he won the IC Title is because he NEVER confuses business and pleasure. What he does in the ring is one thing, what he does out of it is another, and no matter how much he boasts, he'll never let his partying affect his work. Huh, so I guess that whole thing last night was just a red herring to get guys like me thinking Flair would drop the strap quickly because of all his partying? Either that, or Flair's SAYING he doesn't mix the two, but will be exposed at some other point soon? Dunno, but just as Flair's finishing up that riff, Carlito storms in and accuses Flair of screwing him for the second night in a row. Flair, not wanting to hear it, drops his IC belt and starts punching away on Carlito... which works fine for about 10 seconds until Chris F. Masters appears out of nowhere to join in the attack. Carlito badmouths Flair while Masters applies the full nelson. Flair got a face full of apple before it was all said and done.

Oh dear god: Chris F. Masters, InterContinental Champion? Is THAT what we're going for? I sure as shit hope not.... what I WOULD accept out of this angle is if Masters finally accepts his role as Carlito's Dumb Muscle. He can be the new Jesus H. Kidneypuncher (or the new Lovely Miss Tomko), staying more in the background, and letting other (more capable) people around him do the work, while he learns and "gets the rub" from being in proximity when interesting stuff happens. Instead of being directly involved when nothing interesting ever happens. Who else is with me? Vote Chris F. Masters for Dumb Muscle in 2005!


The Night the Lights Went Out in Dayton

In the middle of this ad break is when I sustained my power outage. To provide you with a Full and Complete Report, though, I made sure to check around to see what I might have missed. According to the Award Winning PWTorch.com RAW Recap, scribed by the incomparable Wade Keller, I missed:

(1) An Unforgiven video package designed to induce purchases of the replays.
(2) A "Moments Ago" recap of the Flair/Carlito/Masters bit.
(3) A visit with the announce crew to talk about the impending 8-man tag match.
(4) The SmackDown! Rebound
(5) Ring entrances for all 8 men
(6) More ads

In other words: not a single thing that I would have given any attention to. Then again, can I trust this is REALLY what I missed? Because also according to the Award Winning PWTorch.com RAW Recap, scribed by the incomparable Wade Keller:

(1) Torrie Wilson defeated Trish Stratus.
(2) Star ratings are totally rad!
(3) The deep-pitched boos that Cena gets are apparently courtesy of some faction known as "The Haters." [Sadly, Wade does not have a name for the providers of Cena's high-pitched squeals.]
(4) WWE is screwed and will never recover their audience since they can't say the letters "USA" with regards to their network switch, and therefore should bring in Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter to goose the crowd into chanting "USA, USA," non-stop next week. [Note: this might have been an attempt at that elusive Torch rarity known as "humor."]
(5) The four-man backstage promo was most important/effective because it showed that Matt Hardy is equally as tall as Shawn Michaels and John Cena. [Note: this was definitely proffered up in dead-seriousness.]
(6) It's more important to count the frequency of and recap the content of UFC and TNA ads than it is to actually do a half-way decent job hitting the details of RAW.

Good stuff. It'd been a while since I checked out one of those to remind myself exactly what it is I'm not aspiring to. To think, I get more accurate details working from memory than Wade does working "real time" with the show right there in front of him. I guess I should have mentioned that the "Award" won by the recap is "Least number of crippling pop-ups and ads on a site whose URL I remember, so that's why it's the best place for me to visit if I missed 10 minutes of the show." And by "incomparable," well, I meant it.... at the very least, I know that *I* cannot be compared to Wade Keller, anyway. 

And so thus ends my five-paragraph attempt to fill up roughly 10 minutes worth of air-time with comedic filler. My power is coming back on in five, four, three, two, one....

Shawn Michaels, Big Show, John Cena, and Big Show vs. 
Kurt Angle, Edge, Chris F. Masters, and Gene Snitsky

My recording picks up with what appears to be VERY early action in the match, with Cena paired off against Edge. If that's not the very start, I apologize, folks. Certain recaps didn't start bothering with any details or play-by-play until the 18 minute mark of the match, so I'm left to guess.

Me, I'm picking up with Cena vs. Edge, though. Cena dominates for a minute, then tags in Big Show, who hits some Giant Type offense. Edge finally gets separation with an eye gouge, but Show is already recovered by the time Chris F. Masters makes his way into the ring. Show no sells some punches, then chops away on Masters for a bit. He takes Masters over into the Babyface Corner, where Matt Hardy is tagged in. Surprisingly, Hardy is able to maintain the advantage; but it's only mostly punchy-kicky, and Matt also keeps Masters close to the babyface corner so he can quickly tag in Cena again.

Strangely, it's Cena who become the first real babyface in peril, although it's only for about one minute, as Masters busts out pretty much the entirety of his moveset. Including the vertical suplex. When Masters goes for it again, though, Cena counters it with a suplex of his own... and then dives for his corner, where he tags in Matt Hardy for another go-round. Matt AGAIN gets the better of Masters, using mostly punches and easy stuff, but definitely staying in control. A minute or so of that, and Matt tags Michaels in for HBK's first tour of duty.

And instantly, Shawn reverts back to what he does best: bumping around to make somebody else look good. In this case, it was as simple as having an Irish Whip reversed and doing a turnbuckle flip, starting Masters' second little mini-rally. This time, he stick to the very basics -- slams and clotheslines and stuff -- because Shawn can be trusted to make it look impressive. One of those simple moves, though? Masters' dreaded Armpit Drop... Michaels rolled out of the way of one of those, finally, and tagged in Matt Hardy. Again. And again, Hardy gets the better of Masters for a bit, culminating in an inverted DDT.

But then Hardy goes on tilt for some reason, and goes directly into the enemy corner to drag Edge into the ring. Hardy gets Edge in a corner and pounds away on him, all while Chris F. Masters is recovering. Just when Matt thinks he's finished off Edge with the Side Effect, he stumbles back, directly into Masters' full nelson. Matt is surely not going to break out of it, so Big Show comes into the ring and headbutts Masters into next week. Hardy? Down. Masters? Down. Us? Watching some....


Back, and Matt is now our first For Real Babyface in Peril. Edge is working him over with a chinlock for a bit, and when Matt manages to fire up out of that, Edge just puts him down again with one of his badly-named moves that includes the word "Edge" in it. Then Edge decides, "Hey, we haven't seen Snitsky yet!" and brings him into the thing. Funny, I thought for sure the only reason they put that silly tag on the Show/Snitksy match at the PPV was so that Snitsky would go away for a while, selling the ring bell shots. Guess not.
Anyway, Snitsky goes the reverse of Edge here, first doing a few reasonably tolerable power moves to wear Hardy down and THEN going for the chinlock. The babyface corner is REALLY doing a nice job of cheerleading and keeping the fans into this, especially Michaels (not that this crowd seemed to need it too much, as they were way into Hardy). With the fans rallying behind him, Matt has the inspiration to quit letting Snitsky rest! He breaks the chinlock, and when Snitsky makes the rookie mistake of lowering his head to early on a backdrop attempt, Matt counters it with a Twist of Fate out of nowhere. He doesn't have enough energy to make a cover, and instead, starts crawling towards his corner. Snitsky starts doing the same.... and that is how we end up with Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle both tagging into the ring at the same time.

Well alright, alright, alright... your runaway top two candidates for Wrestler of the Year, in the same ring together. That's never a bad thing. Michaels starts out red-hot, eventually building up to the dreaded Flying Burrito/Nip-Up/Macho Man Elbow combo (looks like JR's gonna keep on calling it the "Flying Burrito," too)... except this time, Angle's still fresh enough that he easily rolls out of the way of the elbow drop. He stalks Michaels, wanting to hit the Angle Slam, apparently. But Michaels worms out of that and tries to reverse into a sunset flip. But Angle rolls through that and picks and ankle. Uh oh. The ankle lock is cinched in.

Michaels makes all due efforts to get a rope break, and then to try to try to reverse out, and everything. Angle's doing a great job making intense faces (or maybe that's just the mouthpiece?) and keeping the hold locked in tight. Crowd's way into this, and again, there are three cheerleaders on the apron, but you get the impression they weren't needed to keep this crowd going. Finally, it looks like Michaels is gonna tap out, so Big Show AGAIN takes it upon himself to come in and headbutt the crap out of somebody. Angle takes the blow and stumbles into the ropes. From behind, Snitksy attacks Show, sending Show directly at Angle. Angle, out of instinct, actually hoists Show up, and Angle Slams him over the top rope. Whoa. Big bump by Show. 

Show is (obviously) down. Michaels is still hurting from the anklelock. And Angle's hurting, mostly from the headbutt, but also because he just lifted a 500 pound man out over the top rope. So this is a good spot for our final....


Back again, and there's two developing stories. (1) Big Show is still laying on the floor outside the ring after being Angle Slammed over the top rope. And (2) Edge is working Shawn Michaels over with some kind of leg lock that I can't really describe, but at least it looks pretty cool.
Michaels finds a way out of that, but a few stomps to the knee by Edge, and he's not going anywhere. Edge takes the moment to bring in Chris F. Masters, who is not quite as considerate as Edge: after a few knee-stomps of his own, Masters choice of a leg lock is just sort of standing in place and holding Shawn's foot and ankle. Huh. I guess maybe he was twisting the ankle? I don't know. It's either that, or he was holding Michaels foot up for Snitsky to come in and play a game of Five Little Piggies. Didn't look too impressive to me, in any case. [Note to the handful of Masters' Apologists out there who seem to have the same argument for all of CFM's visually umimpressive moves: No, I will not let him "put it on me," so I can find out how bad it actually hurts. This is fake fighting, it's about making things look good, not about how much it actually hurts. Or about being such a convincing personality and performer that fans will buy the hold even if it doesn't look that good.]
Michaels finally escapes Masters' clutches, and didn't really even have to try very hard. But the exertion was enough that he couldn't make it to his own corner, while Masters made himself scarce and tagged in Kurt Angle, who is the master of taking a visually unimpressive move and making every single fan believe in it! But in this case, I'm not actually talking about the ankle lock, as Angle beat Michaels down a bit, and then goes for a chinlock. But he modifies it with some face-gouging, just because that's the kind of meanie-head Kurt is.

Michaels is able to escape that, and seems to take nominal control after a back-suplex, but Angle's still significantly fresher, and keeps Michaels from making a tag. And then, after a bit of back-and-forthy, Angle actually reverses his way into an Angle Slam out of nowhere. Makes the cover. One. Two. But Matt Hardy is in to make the save. He gets a few cheap shots in on Angle before Chris F. Masters comes in and powers Hardy out of the ring and to the floor. Bye bye, Matt. Meantime, Michaels and Angle are now BOTH looking for tags. Angle gets his first, and Edge comes in. He takes a pass on Michaels, though, and immediately spears Cena off the ring apron. Bye-bye, Cena. 

Now, Michaels is crawling towards an empty corner. Show was already down, and now his other two partners have powdered out.... except: the Big Show is stirring. Michaels and Edge do one quick spot (ending in Michaels connecting with an enzuigiri). Michaels is struggling to his corner just as Show is climbing back up on the apron. And just as Michaels makes it to the corner, Show is ready with his hand extended. What convenient timing! Except: not so convenient for the bad guys.
Show comes in off the hot tag, and takes down Edge with a clothesline. And then proceeds to give the same treatment to the other three guys (who attacked in BLATANT Dumb Ninja Fashion, one-at-a-time). Show's on a tear when the heel finally get their act together and decide to attack Show ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Good thinking, fellas. Except they dogpile on Show, and all of a sudden, all four go flying to the four different corners as Show leaps to his feet and tosses them away. A silly spot, but a damned fine crowd pleaser.

From here, the rest of the faces got back in the ring to finish things off on a high note. Well, except for Michaels, who just laid back and sold the beating he took. Cena came in in took Snitsky out of the ring. Hardy took Masters out. Show, himself, too care of Angle. But through this all, Edge is the legal man, and he'd ducked outside to grab the Money in the Bank briefcase. He brought it into the ring, and swung it at the first guy he saw. This ended up being John Cena. But Cena ducked, spinebustered Edge, and then hit him with a Five Knuckle Shuffle... that left Big Show alone with Edge. One chokeslam oughta do it, right? Show gets it done, and then as he makes the cover, just for added Crowd Pleasing, Cena, Hardy, and Michaels all decide to pile on, too. That can't be legal, can it? But it was fun. Michaels sat on top like he was riding a horse, and counted along with the official as he got to three.

Your Winners: Big Show, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, and Matt Hardy, via pinfall, in about 20 minutes. Hmmm: and it reinforced my idea that we might be seeing Edge on his way off of RAW to see him this thoroughly humiliated.... in any case, a second good match for RAW, probably just about the equal of the Flair/Carlito match, although they got to that "above average" status in significantly different ways. Definitely more variation and complexity to this one (but it also stuck to some basic formulas, including a slow-ish Hardy-in-peril section, while Flair/Carlito stayed away from those and did it's own thang). And the finish, like the promo that proceeded it? Silly, but pleasing to the crowd. It's not a finish you can do on TV, or at least, not often, but these are the types of finishes that send fans home happy following post-taping Dark Matches. This time, we just so happened to get it on the air, instead. I wouldn't want this fast and loose fluffery to become the standard, but I can't deny that it put a satisfying end to a mostly-solid RAW. Two very good matches, with decent stuff in between (except for Tomko's inexplicable match)? Yeah, that's just fine by me.

Final image: the four good guys celebrate, with Michaels riding around on Big Show's shoulders. Meantime, Matt Hardy had to settle for remaining only as tall as John Cena, surely an indication that Shawn Michaels is using his political clout to keep both of them down. Or something. Just be glad you're reading *this* recap, people, instead of that other one.... trust me. And I'll see you tomorrow with additional RAW thoughts/fall-out in OO.


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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