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September 27, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


So I think maybe WWE is changing networks next week, or something. I'm not 100% positive. I'll check with some of my super top secret sources, though, and let you know....
Or not.

WWE's move back to USA Network is pretty much common knowledge to any wrestling fan. And yet, last night's Final RAW on SpikeTV featured an embarrassing display of immaturity from BOTH parties. WWE tried to sneak in as many explicit mentions of "USA Network" as they could (idiotically thinking that their

fans are THAT stupid or clueless to be unable to find them next week on a different channel), while SpikeTV tried to censor out as many of those mentions as they could (idiotically thinking that they'll trick WWE's fans into watching some other shows on Spike next week if only they don't tell anybody what channel RAW is on).

It was really quite a pitiable display. Nothing more than a dumbass Dick Waving Contest. At least Spike had the good sense to just quit halfway through, figuring that presenting a show that doesn't feature non-stop distracting audio cut-outs will probably call LESS attention to the move than continuing to make the edits. 

Spike salvaged a little bit of pride there. It's just too bad that at the half-way point, WWE couldn't do the same. Lacking a time machine, they were unable to go back and put as much energy into scripting a full 2-hour broadcast of entertaining content as they put into hyping next week's USA Homecoming as a "screw you" to Spike.

The end result: a RAW that had its moments, which even started out fairly promisingly for the opening hour or so.... but which featured a Third Quarter (and early Fourth Quarter) loaded with a lot of Suck, before finally getting to a very entertaining TV Main Event.

And the over-hyping of next week's show? Good gawd.... I mean, I admit it: I'm excited for next week, and WWE didn't do anything to ruin THAT. But bludgeoning us over the head with something that we ALL ALREADY KNOW ABOUT? That sure as hell ruined any chance of me totally enjoying THIS week's broadcast.
I just get annoyed with shows that assume fans are retards and/or have non-existent attention spans. More time entertaining, less time shilling. Please. Because if you entertain, people will come back because they WANT MORE, not because they were told to. It's a pretty simple concept.

I mean, WWE wants to emulate Hollywood, right? Well, somebody refresh my memory.... where were the three dozen scenes in "The Godfather" where Al Pacino stopped acting and telling the story so he could assure us, "Hey, we still have a lot of good movie here tonight, but be sure to come back in 3 years when we release Godfather Part 2, people! It'll be even better!"? Oh, that's right, those scenes never happened.... and yet, I do believe "Godfather 2" did pretty well for itself. Because the first one was so damned good. Comprende?

Sorry, but this is a pet peeve of mine. This along with lazily putting so much Video Package Filler onto PPVs (the people watching have ALREADY PAID YOU, you DON'T HAVE TO SELL THEM ANYMORE, so just get off your asses and come up with 170 minutes of CONTENT, instead of 120 minutes and 50 minutes of filler). It gets on my nerves.

Here, read on, you'll probably see what I mean. ESPECIALLY when we get to the very end of the show....  

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we are live in Not Biloxi, MS. Instead, tonight's farewell-to-Spike RAW has been moved to Waco, TX, where Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman are practically bursting at the seams to tell us about a HUGE Main Event Match: Shawn Michaels and John Cena will take on Carlito Cool and Chris F. Masters in a a Tables Match. Huh. That should be interesting. And there will supposedly be a lot of other good stuff, too. But first, since it's unwise to Cross the Boss (hey, it'd be your Loss), noted lover of the Hoss, Jim Ross, does, to the ring, Toss....

How To Behave Even More Petulantly Bratty Than John Cena Theatre: A Special Joint Production of WWE and SpikeTV

Vince McMahon power struts to the ring, and immediately declares that this will be An Historic Night on RAW. And I immediately suspect he's lying, but whatever: I've long since been immune to Schiavone-esque hyperbole. Vince says it's the last night that RAW will be on Spike TV; oh, I guess in that sense "historic" might be accurate. For I'm sure this will be asterisked somewhere as a Historical Footnote for years to come...

Vince then seems suspiciously gracious as he tells the tale of coming to SpikeTV five years ago, saying that both the network and WWE have done a lot of growing up in that time. He calls SpikeTV a "great tag team partner," and if your SpideySense wasn't tingling at this point, I don't know what's wrong with you. Because immediately thereafter, Vince goes into a spiel about how that partnership is ending, and RAW is [dead silence for about 7 seconds]. Obviously, Vince said something about "Returning to the USA Network for a kick-ass Homecoming Show." But Spike is apparently such a bunch of babies that they decided to censor it. So in the first 5 minutes of the show, we establish that Vince McMahon is a pompous dick who thinks the standard rules of politeness and discretion don't apply to him and that SpikeTV is a bunch of whiny little babies who can't just take the high road and let some inconsequential bit of Civil Disobedience be ignored. Great. I honestly don't know who to pity more....

But then Vince gets on track again, starting to run the line-up for next week's show without harping on what channel it'll be on. When he gets to the part about John Cena defending the WWE Title against Eric Bischoff, Vince is interrupted. Kurt Angle comes out, and Vince seems to be rather enjoying himself as he conducts the audience in a chorus of "You Suck." Angle, however, doesn't let that faze him, and just wants to apologize to Vince a bit. Because last week, yes, Angle was upset with Vince for naming Bischoff the #1 Contender to Cena's title. But this week, Angle's cool with that. He just wants to remind Vince that he (Angle) DID beat Cena at the last PPV, and that he thinks that establishes him as the logical pick to face the winner of Cena/Bischoff at some point in the future.

Vince ponders this and admits that, yes, Angle as a point, so.... so he gets interrupted again. This time, it's Shawn Michaels, who is at Full Prance (and even entices Vince to dance with him for a moment in one of those uncomfortably awkward displays you just as soon have not seen). Also: I think Shawn's just out here to exchange fashion tips with Kurt. For some reason, both have taken to cutting the sides out of their t-shirts and wearing them like over-sized bibs. Are they going out for lobster together later tonight, or something?

Actually, Shawn has a much more salient point: he says that if the only criteria for getting a title shot around here is having been victorious at Unforgiven, well, then, HE was victorious at Unforgiven, so "Where's me title shot?". The crowd snickers at the intentionally-sucky logic and Shawn's self-aware presentation of it, but Kurt's not impressed. Angle says Shawn's crazy, because Angle beat the freaking WWE Champion, John Cena, at the PPV (unspoken implication: that Shawn just beat some worthless chump; which he did, and which is why I [heart] Kurt Angle, even if he didn't mean it that way). And plus, Angle made Shawn tap out at WM21. So Kurt should have dibs.

Shawn reminds Angle that the result of their match was reversed at some later PPV (which I forget the name of, since they all run together at this point). Angle says, "Yeah, well I beat you first." Shawn says, "Yeah, but I beat you last." And the bickering seems like it could go on for a while until Vince shuts them up and says he'll settle this right here, right now.

Next week: it'll be Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle in the Rubber Match. And it won't just be any Rubber Match, it'll be a 30 Minute Iron Man Match. Nee haw! Vince is then very careful to say that the outcome of that match will "have a major influence on who is named #1 Contender," which means that it is NOT a cut-and-dry #1 Contender match. Which actually, is a good thing, since it leaves open the possibility that Shawn might actually win. And in deals like this, I prefer ambiguity to stultifying obviousness. Now, you can have a deal where Shawn can win the match, but Angle's association with Bischoff still leads to him getting the title shot at Cena. All of which will make the exercise of sitting there for 30 minutes wondering "What's Gonna Happen Next?" next week all the more exciting...

Distracting Dick Waving Contest between Vince and Spike aside, a strong opening segment and one that makes me all the more fired up for next week. But as Shawn and Kurt stare each other down, Vince steps out from behind them and announces that we might as well get TONIGHT's show started in grand fashion, with a title match of our own, so let's go....

Trish Stratus (w/ Diva Search Ashley) vs. Time Management

Apparently, we've got a women's title match coming, and just to keep fans from flipping channels, why not cart out two babes to keep us glued. I dunno. It's as good a reason as any. Of note: Ashley has un-punked and is wearing a little black dress, at least for this week. There are plusses and minuses to both looks, but I think you probably pick one and stick with it, right? Or maybe: She's classy when she valets, but only Avril Junior's it when she wrestles? That's a questions for the ages that will NOT be answered after these....

[ads; I wager that somewhere, in some annoying corner of the internet, a hack writer is, during this break, taking the first of his 10 chances to discuss the placement and significance of UFC and TNA commercials, forgetting that NOBODY FUCKING CARES; which is why you're all here, safe and sound at OO, where I spend my time talking about babes' wardrobes, instead; d'oh, my irony....]

Trish Stratus vs. Victoria (Women's Title Match)

Apparently, Trish has been charged with milking the crowd during this entire break. I can only hope there was some mic work in there, and they the audience didn't have to endure 4 minutes of that entrance theme. Victoria makes her ring entrance (accompanied by Candice Michelle -- who is wearing conspicuously-elaborate stockings, which tends to telegraph an entire ricockulously-elaborate Lingerie Ensemble, which tends to mean I know at least ONE thing that's going to happen before this match is over -- Skinny Torrie Wilson, and Torrie's Paris Hilton Yap Dog). Strangely, during their entrance, the feed cuts away to a "Technical Difficulties" screen for a few seconds. Huh.

Match starts with back and forth forearms shivers, and Trish eventually gets the better of that exchange. After a flying headscissors, Victoria powders out to ringside, and plays a bit of possum. When Trish follows, Victoria rams Trish poor, recently-rehabilitated lower back into the ring apron and takes control for a bit of brawling. Trish is even sent flying over the ringside barricade and into the first row. Victoria showboats a bit too long, though and when she goes to follow Trish, Trish has another forearm waiting for her. Victoria stumbles backward, and Trish hops up onto the barricade and comes off with a hooking clotheslines. Awww, somebody thinks she's Shelton Benjamin. That is freaking cool....

Trish tosses Victoria's carcass into the ring, but when she tries to follow, she is blind-sided by Torrie and Boobies. Ashley tries to make the save, but after one double-noggin-knocker, she gets her ass beat, too. Victoria comes out and takes over, tossing Trish into the ring to commence with a more orderly attempt to win the women's title. Sommersault legdrop, inverted bridging chinlock, tilt-a-whirl sideslam... and at this point, it's no exagerration to say that you have seen more moves (and performed better) than you have in any Chris F. Masters match of similar duration.

Sadly, that part about "performed better" takes a bit of a hit when Victoria sets up for a top rope move, and Trish counters with her handstand head-scissors, but then Victoria re-counters that by yanking Trish up into a sitting position with her on the top rope. The idea is that Victoria would like to turn it into a top rope powerbomb, but Trish is able to counter with more forearms. Sadly, we'll never know what the intended climax was, as both girls lost their balance after an exchange of forearms, and tumbled off the top rope to the floor. Ouch.

It seems like they're both OK, though, and whatever was supposed to happen on the top rope apparently would have ended with Trish getting the better of it... because as the match resumes, they exchange a few forearms, and Trish gets the better of that, and they head straight to End Game. Matrix, spinebuster, and the Stratusfaction Bulldog, and it looks like Trish is about to vanquish WWE's only active female heel wrestler... which is when Torrie and Boobies get in the ring and attack right in front of the ref.

Your Winner: Trish Stratus, via Disqualification, in about 5 minutes. Was it a Video Keeper? Hell, no. But even with the one blown spot, was it the kind of match that should make you furiously angry that all but two of the women qualified to perform these types of matches have been systematically removed from the RAW roster? Absolutely, yes. Action was solid, fans were into it, and it's the sort of thing you could do for 5 minutes every week, if only you had more than one match-up you could throw out there.

After the Match: Ashley came to Trish's aid, and this time, things worked out a bit better. Trish took care of Torrie and Victoria, leaving Ashley and Boobies to do some really sloppy punchy-kicky, which Ashley won. With Boobies on the mat, Ashley was struck with a notion: so she pulled Boobies' red dress off, revealing -- you guessed it (or at least, *I* did) -- the matching TV-PG lingerie ensemble. Candice acts indignant at this, despite obviously having had dressed for the occasion and gets on the mic (ouch, my ear drums). Apparently, this humiliation WILL NOT STAND. So next week, to pay Trishley back, there will be a 3-on-2 Bra and Panties Match. Trish and Ashley don't seem too concerned and gesture (Broadly, as is particularly apropos in their cases) that this is just fine with them. The heel chicks leave, and in the ring, Trish decides to prove that no matter how cool she seems, she's still got an appropriate amount of silly girly girl in her by doing a goofy Matador act with Ashley, using Boobies' red dress. 


Big Show vs. Gene Snitsky (Street Fight)

OK, so during Show's entrance there are THREE brief cut-aways to the "Technical Difficulties" screen. And at some point later in this match (as the pace was, to put it charitably, "methodical") the announcers had time to address that, accusing Spike TV of "censoring" the broadcast, and telling us to go to WWE.com to see and hear what Spike wouldn't let us see/hear. At which point, I decided the whole thing had to be a work, and WWE was "censoring" themselves, because surely no multi-million dollar media company could be so petty. Except: if WWE was "working," and censoring themselves, they are no more noble... again, both parties come off looking (as the French would say) le weak.

Snitsky comes down, already armed with a steel chair. And we're off... but very slowly. Punch, stomp, plop, punch, stomp, plod. Finally Snitsky uses a trashcan to gain control, and the story of the match becomes how many different objects Snitsky can find under the ring that become misshapen when whacked across Big Show's frame. None of them do serious damage to Show, though, and he comes back be reversing a suplex attempt, dumping Snitsky onto the trashcan, instead. Follow up with a chokeslam, and that'll do it, right? Nope, because Show breaks the count, and has a notion. Sporting and Evil Grin, Show goes out under the ring again, and comes up with... the Kitchen Sink. The old chestnut, eh?  So Show smacks Snitsky with the Kitchen Sink, and THEN makes the cover.

Your Winner: Big Show, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Not particularly good at all, but at least WWE has decided that until they CAN find something good for Show, they'll at least showcase him in things like this where he just squashes guys like Snitsky in convincing/satisfying ways. Better this than a 10 minute, competitive match, at least... better short and boring so the finish still has some impact than long and sucky so that people have zoned out long before the finish.

Video Package, Sort Of: All the stuff between Flair/Carlito/Masters from last week is recapped, but it's bracketed by live footage of Flair backstage, where he is mightily attempting to approximate Spoken Language Communication with Maria the Mic Stand. When we cut back to the two after the video package, Flair gets a kiss on the cheek, and walks away, apparently because he's got something to do coming up after these....


Top Of The Ramp: in a return of 2-weeks-ago's stylistic choice, Flair won't be conducting this promo backstage, he'll do it at the top of the entrance ramp. Again: I approve of this, as the more segments you do in front of the live audience, the less opportunities you have for the Writer Monkey's to over-Hollywood-ize things and make them suck. Flair is here with a simple message: he may have been beaten down by Carlito and Chris F. Masters last week, but if there's one thing people should know about him, it's that the Nature Boy always gets his revenge. And that's because he's always had friends in this business to help him. First, the Four Horsemen... and today? Today, it only takes one: the greatest wrestler alive, Triple H. The crowd, which has been 100% behind Flair, grumbles and boos at this. Flair puts over the fact that next week, HHH will be returning to RAW, and again reiterates that HHH is "the greatest wrestler alive, and My Best Friend." [Well, that cinches it: I was right last week, and Carlito and Masters are both going to be in a New Evolution. HHH/Flair vs. Carlito/Masters will end with HHH turning on Flair to reveal that Evolution is about the new stars shining, not about 55-year-old men making a mockery of the sport by cheating their way to title wins. The only question is: how long does the feud last, and how do you put Flair BACK with Evolution when the time comes? Because Evolution without Flair makes no sense, and has no tie to history; or as somebody -- I forget who -- convinced me, "Flair is the heart of Evolution."]

Video Package: coming off of Flair's punchline about HHH being his best friend, they shoot it to a HHH Glory Reel. Thanks for the permission to FF, monkeys...

Backstage: Eric Bischoff is talking on his cell phone, and John Cena walks in, plucks the phone from Bischoff's hand (while Bischoff is in mid-sentence and has not even said anything to antagonize Cena), shouts "He'll call you back later" into it, and then cuts the connection. Seriously: you pull that shit in real life, and you get your ass beat. Or, at the very least, nobody wants to hang out with you. Because nobody likes an unclever little 7th-grade brat's sense of humor. Cena is like the anti-Batista: whereas Batista is once again behaving mostly-rationally and in a relatable fashion on SD! the last few weeks, Cena continues to just be this cartoon character who over-reacts, is too convinced of his own cleverness, and mostly, just does stupid shit that nobody in their right minds would ever do (or want to do) in real life. The litmus test is simple: would you want to hang out with somebody who's idea of funny is walking up to random strangers and cutting off their cell phone connections in the middle of conversations? If so: you may have Homey the Clown, with my compliments. If not: please join me in my crusade to convince WWE to stop writing him like a total assface.

Let Me Try This Again: Sorry about the tangent... so Cena interrupts Bischoff in about as prickish a fashion imaginable, and does so because he has Grade A Material for us. He pretends to be impressed by Bischoff's Karate Fighting Background, and rants and raves about how Totally Legitimate A Contender Bischoff is. The problem is, instead of doing it in a jokey voice, he's actually trying to be intense, as if he honestly believes that when he beats Eric Bischoff next week, he'll have accomplished something. Baffling. It could have sucked in one way (Cena just being a phony tosser), but instead, WWE opted to make it suck the other way (Cena being dumb enough to take Bischoff seriously). Cena then closes with his patented Sound A Douchebag Makes, and leaves.... but then he comes back and mocks Bischoff with some Allegedly Comedic Kung Fu poses. My desire to slap John Cena in the face should not be on the rise with each passing week... and yet, it is. How can a guy who is one of the few Good Ones in real life manage to so effectively impersonate a total jackass? And do it while he's ostensibly trying to be a babyface? It's really quite baffling....


Shelton Benjamin vs. Chavo Guerrero

Chavo enters second, and is accompanied by video footage of him introducing his "caddy," Nick Nemeth. And he's also accompanied by said caddy. Shelton gets on the mic and mocks the caddy, noting that now Chavo has somebody to "wash his balls." Ha?

As the match starts, Coach seems to be in full-on Mission Statement Mode, re-writing "Kerwin White's" motivations. He's no longer a racist, he's just a Regular Middle Class American, fighting for everything that Middle Class Americans believe in. Which apparently includes being a Country Club Douchebag, and that's supposed to be enough to make us boo him, now. Also, Coach -- with a straight face -- assures us that "Kerwin's" catch phrase is "If it's not Kerwin White, it's not right." Which isn't what the catchphrase was as recently as two weeks ago.... methinks somebody realized how retarded this was, and tried to throttle it back. Not realizing it's still mighty retarded.

After a very brief back-and-forth to start, Chavo uses his Country Club Douchebag Golf Shirt (which, quite magnificently, featured a design that I can safely say contained at least 75% more Douchbagginess) to choke out Shelton while his caddy distracted the ref. Basic heel beatdown tactics leading to a resthold (armbar), which Shelton fired up out of at about the 90 second mark. Big babyface comeback, including that one cool move where Shelton makes like he coming with the Stinger Splash, but when the guy move, he just broad jumps all the way up to the top rope and comes back off with the hooking clothesline. That only got a two count, and Chavo tried to powder out. Which is when things got sucky.

Shelton stopped Chavo on the ring apron, and set him up to suplex him back into the ring. In mid-suplex, Chavo just comes down on top of Shelton, and the ref makes a three count. What was supposed to happen: Nemeth was supposed to trip Shelton, and then hold his leg down. What really happened: Nemeth was five feet away and maybe got his hands on Shelton's leg just as the three count hit. JR tried to sell the "planned" finish, but when no replays came up that could document the interference, they kind of backed off that.

Your Winner: Chavo Guerrero, via pinfall, in 2-3 minutes. Too short to be any good. And then the obviously-blown finish means it leaves a bad taste in your mouth. The inability of the production truck to find an angle that incriminated Nemeth pretty much means he fucked up... way to make a first impression, junior.


The Promo Before the Storm

We are back to find a ladder -- set suspiciously JUST BARELY off center -- in the middle of the ring. "What could this be all about?" wonder the announcers. The opening strains of Edge's crap-rock entrance theme should pretty well answer that question, boys...

Edge, chivalrously, allows his woman to speak first, once they are in the ring. And Lita, Orton-tastically, wastes no time blowing a line about "going out on a wind," to say that nobody will miss Matt Hardy once he's gone from RAW. Because Matt is just a loser and a whiny and while everybody else has gotten on with their lives, he's still stuck in the past. A massive "Hardy" chant allows Lita the chance to make-up for her previous mistake, as she improvs a line about "Well, I guess maybe I was wrong, and you are the kinds of losers who WILL miss Matt when he's gone. Tough luck. And now, on this high note, I'll hand the mic over to Edge."

Edge says "Seven days, one for each rung on this ladder," as he dramatically ascends to sit on top of the ladder to perform the rest of his soliloquy. Anybody else think that was a bad idea as soon as he started climbing? Good, me too. Anyway, seven days is how long it is until Matt Hardy is gone for good. Because this isn't just a ladder match, it isn't like their past battles for the tag titles, and it's about even more than the Money in the Bank Title Shot. It's about losing a career. 

Edge says that in life, there are winners, and there are losers. And Edge? He's a winner. And he's proven it time and time again, and he's proven it time and time again in ladder matches. How many times has Edge had a hand in beating Matt in ladder matches? How do you think Edge won the Money in the Bank? It's simple: because he Does. Not. Lose. Ladder. Matches. And that means, in this story, Matt Hardy is the loser... Edge proclaims the outcome "inevitable," and wonders how Matt could possibly be so naive as to expect that anything would change this time around.

At which point, Matt decides to maybe get a head start on changing things. Appearing out of the crowd (while Edge foolishly responds to the cheers by shifting his gaze towards the entrance ramp), Matt easily scares off Lita, and starts teasing like he's going to shove the ladder over, taking Edge with it. Edge, chickenshittilly, begs "C'mon, no. Let's wait till next week." And for a moment, Matt relents. And Edge and Lita both appear relieved. But then Matt storms back to the middle of the ring (pausing only to get his foot caught on the middle rope in an unintentionally funny and unsmooth moment) to shove Edge over anyway.

Edge? Was trying to crotch himself on the top rope. Instead, his shin grazed the top rope, and he flopped very sloppily and awkwardly to the mat. Ouch. Looks like somebody should have set the ladder up maybe another 8 inches off center, eh? He appeared unhurt, though, as Lita checked on him and then proceeded to do the planned Staredown with Matt to close out the segment.

After the Segment: the announcers immediately go into a lengthy sequence of replays, and hyping how that's just a small taste of what we'd see next week on [silence]. That's right, on [silence] where RAW is returning [silence] and you won't see anything like this on Spike [silence]. There were seriously about 4 lengthy moments of silence as the announcers (under orders from the Voice in their Headsets) tried to see how many times they could say "USA Network" in 30 seconds. And while SpikeTV tried to censor as many of them as they could. Note: it didn't work, and a few "USAs" snuck in. Apparently, at that point, Spike decided the idiotic Dick Waving Contest wasn't worth the trouble, as after this sloppy and embarrassing (for BOTH sides) display of pettiness and immaturity, they just held off the button, and let WWE say whatever they wanted. Good for them. But still: how paranoid is WWE and how misplaced are their priorities when they actually think that shoving it in Spike's face with mentions of "USA Network" is going to accomplish anything? Just put on a good fricking show, and your fans will find out... THAT is what you should be focused on.

Backstage: Eric Bischoff is watching the carnage and is worried about what Matt and Edge will do to each other next week... and in walks Teddy Long. Teddy Long? Yep. Ya see, playa, Teddy thinks that next week's homecoming is a big night for WWE. Not just for RAW, but for WWE. So he thought that, to lend a hand, he might help Bischoff out by having a few of his SmackDown! stars appear on the show. Bischoff is IMMEDIATELY against this idea, saying that Teddy's dreaming if he thinks that he'll allow SD! to get any exposure on RAW. And that's when Vince McMahon walks in, and see his two General Managers co-mingling. This gives Vince an idea... because you see, next week's Homecoming is a huge event, and 3-hours long, to boot. That almost makes it more like a pay-per-view. And in WWE, there are joint-brand pay-per-views, so maybe it'd be cool to make Homecoming a Joint Production, too. Bischoff, suddenly, decides this is the greatest idea ever, and says he was just talking to Teddy about that very issue. Vince says that's great, and tells Teddy to think about it, as he can present on SD! brand match at Homecoming; Vince wants the announcement to be made on Friday's show, and he can't wait to hear it, because he thinks it'd be neat to see Chris Benoit or Batista back on RAW, even if only for just one night. [Note: if it's Batista vs. Randy Orton, I redouble my opinion that Ric Flair had better be wary of Triple H... but at least he'd have an ally in Batista.] Teddy says he'll do just that, and declares that Vince is one righteous dude as he leaves.

Then, Vince gets on to his other order of business, which is pep talking Eric Bischoff. Vince gathers that Bischoff is intimidated by Cena... but Bischoff shouldn't be. Because Bischoff is a ruthless SOB who nearly put WWE out of business. And "ruthless" is good, to Vince. And Vince also wants Bischoff to remember that Bischoff had "friends" back when he nearly put WWE out of business. Like Ted Turner. Well, Bischoff STILL has friends, and Vince suggests that if he uses them, he could well be the WWE Champion at the end of next week. Bischoff takes this pep talk to heart, and does seem emboldened, as Vince says, "I'd wish you luck, but knowing you, you won't need any luck next week." Huh. So is that Evil Vince returning? Or just Vince somehow setting Bischoff up to take an even more-humiliating fall? [Afterall, Bischoff always gets a month-long vacation every fall... or has the last two years, at least. "Interim GM Mick Foley" might have a nice ring to it...]


Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade vs. Val Venis and Viscera (Non-Title Match)

Apparently, we are to call Val and Viscera "V-Squared." Which is dumb. Since wasn't it just last week that somebody tried to dub Tyson Tomko "T-Squared"? And wouldn't "Val, Venis, and Viscera" make it "V-Cubed"?

The "non-title" stipulation means you pretty much know what's gonna happen. And that doesn't make the road getting there any more tolerable. Val actually does do some nice crisp work with Cade to start. But once the heels find their groove, Murdoch is able to render Val your Babyface In Peril. Lots of standard double teaming, lots of Viscera just standing around letting it happen, then Val makes his comeback and tags in the Fat Man.

Vis goes on a tear, penultimately Double-Avalanching Murdoch and Cade in a corner. Cade powders out, Vis hits a superfluous Fat Man Splash on Murdoch, Val tags himself in and hits the Money Shot, and just as the ref is about to count to three, Cade appears out of nowhere and tackles the ref's counting arm. I do believe that's against the rules.

Your Winners: Val Venis and Viscera, via DQ, in about 3-4 minutes. Pretty freaking boring. And what's the point of doing this kind of finish to make Cade and Murdoch look weak before you even take the time to build them up so that fans might be excited about seeing them lose? Answer: there is none. Lame match, lamer finish.

Backstage: Carlito is ranting and raving in Spanglish, while Chris F. Masters stands nearby looking confused. Masters asks Carlito to please speak English, a language upon which CFM at least has a 4th grader's grasp. Carlito, exasperated, goes to English, and says that what's got him worked up is this tables match. Carlito's never been in one, but he's seen them, and he can only imagine what happens when you go through a table. Like the splinters and the Not Cool places they might end up. Then Masters says something, but ends up talking in circles ("You're worried about splinters? Have you ever seen a tables match? Do you know what could happen if you go through one of them?"), forcing Carlito to go, "Um, yes, Splinters. We already covered that, though. Please try to remember your lines and move forward, dummy." This somehow leads to Masters making the International Signal For The Shitty Full Nelson, and Carlito dubbing it "A Master Plan... a plan without Splinters." One of these men was funny. The other has never seemed like a dumber piece of glossed-up Pat Patterson Eye Candy. Even if they don't mean for it to be so, this certainly seemed to go a long way to setting up the vibe that Carlito is the Alpha, and Masters is the dumb lackey...


Eugene vs. Rob Conway

Eugene comes to the ring with a Shawn Michaels Plush Toy. Conway comes to the ring wearing sunglasses. Make a note of it, for apparently I missed the invention of Time Travel, and this is actually 1985. Otherwise, I can't imagine why those two items would be such integral plot points to the match....

Eugene gets the fast start with his Unorthodox Approach. This leads up to an Airplane Spin, about a minute in, during which Conway's beloved sunglasses finally fall off. Conway decides to powder out to regroup after this, but Eugene picks up the sunglasses and puts them on. For some reason, this infuriates Conway, who waits until Eugene turns to pose with the glasses to the other side of the arena, and then pearl harbors him from behind. Thus begins about a minute straight of Conway offense. The Con Way apparently involved spending more than half that minute in a chinlock. Whee!

Eugene powers out, Conway makes the mistake of trying to re-establish his advantage by pounding Eugene's head into a turnbuckle. Doesn't he watch the TV show? Predictably, this only makes Eugene angrier, and he Eugenes Up. This leads to a People's Elbow, which only gets a 2 count. So then Eugene decides to try to channel Hacksaw Jim Duggan... but while he's setting up in a 3-point stance in one corner, Conway has crawled over to the corner where Eugene left his Plush Toy. When Eugene charges, Conway stops him dead in his tracks by holding up the toy. Eugene pleads for mercy for his doll, but Conway rips it to shreds. As Eugene weeps, Conway hits the Roll of the Dice (or the "Ego Trip," or whatever brand name you want to apply to the spinning neckbreaker), to get the win.

Your Winner: Rob Conway, via pinfall, in about 4-5 minutes. Just lame. I mean, OK, Eugene's character is a retarded man-child, so I guess it can't be helped if WWE wants to get lazy and use the old George Steele "Mine" doll gimmick... but Conway's not supposed to be mentally challenged, and yet he responded the exact same way as Eugene when his sunglasses were taken? I dunno. Not enough action here to make me forget the insultingly out-dated cliches that were on display. Eugene's gimmick works best when it's a fish out of water: a poor guy trying to exist in our Normal World of Regular People. Put him in there with a one-dimensional character like Conway, though, and it just becomes.... well, let's say "silly." And certainly not entertaining here in the Year of Our Lord 2005.

SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.


Hype: The RAW Homecoming gets full PPV Treatment. Plenty of mentions of USA Network don't get censored here, so I guess you can forget about going to WWE.com to find out what SpikeTV won't let you hear, eh? And until WWE puts me on the payroll, screw them and their overlong hype segments.... bludgeoning us over the head doesn't make us any more excited about tuning in next week, OK?

Carlito Cool and Chris F. Masters vs. Time Management

I'm out of the energy and jokes to make during these oddball pacing/formatting moments. For whatever reason, WWE pulls this trick out again, having a full ring entrance followed immediately by...


Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. Carlito Cool and Chris F. Masters (Tables Match)

Michaels and Cena make their ring entrances, and just for shits and giggles, I must point out that WWE practically makes on of my Main Cena Points for me, when they keep a lingering camera shot on 8 junior-high-school girls holding up signs that spell "Word Life." John Cena: appealing to the "Teen Beat" crowd and no one else since 2004.

Once Michaels and Cena form Voltron, the immediately start brawling with their opponents, paring up predictably (Michaels with Carlito, Cena with Masters). This goes well for the fan favorites, so after about a minute, they get all four guys into the middle of the ring for a little do-se-do that results in a changing of the dance partners. Michaels stays in the ring with Carlito, while Cena takes Masters to the outside.

Another comical sidebar: Cena waits until they brawl around to be RIGHT IN FRONT OF HIS 12-YEAR OLD "WORD LIFE" FANGIRLS, delivers one Devastating Punch to Masters, and then removes his shirt while standing within arms' reach of his most enthusiastic cheering section. Oy. What a tool. And what a "SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAL," too. Why he'd want to encourage that is beyond me. [And in response to a comment I made last week, OO reader "Angie C." wrote in to say it's not just dudes who think less of Cena for playing up his pretty boy teen-idol image. Apparently, a lot of chicks are not impressed with all the squealing, either, and find it counter productive to the cause. Then again "Angie C." might just be saying that to get on my good side after I caught her in a naughty fib, so who knows if she's yanking my chain again? Still, even if Cena's not annoying the piss out of the adult women who watch wrestling the same way he is many of the adult males, it really doesn't matter, since there's lots more of us watching, and we're the ones he should be concerned about... impressing teenage girls is pitiably easy, Cena. So just quit it, OK? Although if his on-screen character has the maturity of a 7th-grader, maybe trying to impress the 9th grade girls is the best Cena can muster...]

But I digress. With the swapping of partners, we also enter the portion of the match where guys start remembering to go for Table Spots. When Cena looks for a table, Masters is able to strike from behind to take advantage, and in the ring Michaels see this, and tries to come over to help, only to get blind-sided by Carlito. With the heels in control, the set up a table at ringside, and they trade partners again. 

In the ring, Masters and Michaels do some very basic/boring punchy-punchy, allowing the focus to be on Cena and Carlito at ringside, where Carlito is teasing a suplex that would put Cena through the table and end the match (only one member of a team has to go through to end the match). When they are done teasing, Cena is able to retain control of the outside of the ring brawling, while inside the ring, Michaels makes his comeback with a Flying Burrito (JR: "Flying Burrito") and a nip-up.

The babyfaces are en feugo, and Shawn Michaels wants to superkick SOMEbody... he targets Masters first, but Masters pusses out. So Cena tosses Carlito back into the ring, and after a moment to set up the positioning, Michaels has Carlito in his sights. But Carlito ducks at the last second, and Michaels ends up superkicking the ref... who falls to ringside and just kind of bounces off the table that was there. Ouch. The lesson: gravity alone is not enough to allow you to bust a table unless you weigh more than 180 lbs. While everybody reacts in shock to this, it is decided that we should break for...


Back, and the focus is on Cena and Masters battling in the ring, with Cena in control. He sets up for the F-U, but Carlito shows up and breaks that up. So Masters locks in the full nelson, but Michaels shows up to break that up.

And after that? Folks, I'm sorry, but this match is impossible for me to recap my normal way. All four guys were constantly brawling, making it impossible for any of my standard Mental Bookmarks to be placed. I mean, it was mostly all just standard punchy-kicky brawling, but it was non-stop, so my brain was unable to keep tabs on all four guys having two simultaneous brawls in parallel.

So I just give you the general gist of the Story of the Match, instead of my usual half-assed attempt at SOME play-by-play. Which should be OK, I hope...

The heels basically took control for an extended period of time, focusing first on Michaels and then on Cena. This allowed for hope spots where the non-focused-on guy would try to make a save, but would be taken back down again in relatively short order. Masters and Carlito also started setting up a bunch of teased table spots, setting up at least 2 or 3 tables along the way (but having their plans foiled in a different variety of "hope spot").

This continued for probably about 4-5 minutes, until the Big Comeback began. Oddly enough, it began with Michaels spearing Cena. On purpose. Because if he hadn't tackled Cena, Cena was about to be whipped into a table. Michaels match-saving attack on his own man led to Michaels going batshit on both heels, and eventually getting a helping hand from Cena, once Homey the Clown had recovered.

There's a bunch of Tandem Offense (including Michaels even sheepishly playing along for Stereo Five Knuckle Shuffles), and then Michaels takes Carlito out with a plancha, leaving Cena in the ring to finish off Masters. Which he's about to do, as he had Masters laid out on a table. But then suddenly Eric Bischoff and Kurt Angle run out. Since there's no DQs in a Tables Match, their interference is legal. The interruption distracts Cena from his business. But Michaels sees Masters laid out on a table, and gets up on the top rope, looking like he's gonna hit the Macho Man Elbow.

But instead, some combination of Carlito and Bischoff keep Cena distracted while Angle hops up on the ring apron and shoves Michaels off to ringside, where he crashes through one of the tables that had been set up earlier. And that's that. Cena's finally a loser in one of these "deck-stacked-against-him" deals, but only because he had Shawn Michaels there to do the job for him...

Your Winners: Carlito Cool and Chris Masters, via tabling, in about 15 minutes. A nice little brawl, for sure; something a little different from what we've gotten accustomed to on Mondays. Nothing special, by a long shot, but an enjoyable TV main event.

After the Match: there's still a full 5 minutes of air time, so SOMEthing has to happen, right? Sho 'nuff, Cena tries to wreak sweet, sweet vengeance on Angle for his interference. But just as Cena hoists Angle up to F-U him through the table (still in the center of the ring), Bischoff gets in the ring and uppercuts Cena right in the ballsac. Cena releases Angle. And then Angle hoists Cena up and Angle Slams him through the table. Somehow, Cena managed to end up bleeding in two places (his ribs and his forehead) after this. Both babyfaces have been tabled by Kurt Angle, so....let's play Chris F. Masters' music? I don't know why, but they did. And then somebody came to their senses and cut that out, because the story here is Bischoff and Angle taunting Cena and Michaels, respectively.

And taunting them for a full 3-4 minutes in what was a really lame, flaccid anti-climax. Bischoff stood in the ring with the WWE Title belt, vaguely gesturing towards Cena. Angle had some trash talk for Michaels. And they kept sort of going through these motions over and over again. Why? So that the announcers could again bludgeon us over the head the line-up for next week's Homecoming, and how it'll be on RAW, and oh, you know what? Let's run that line-up again! And for a third time! I'm not joking: if this was less than 3 minutes of talking in circles, I'll eat a bug. I, like a moron, kept expecting something else to happen, so I didn't stop the recording or FF to the end. But nothing else happened. Which is how the last RAW on SpikeTV should have ended about 4 minutes sooner, and it would have been a much more effective climax. Unless WWE really does have statistical evidence that their fans are morons and need to be told things a 87 times over the course of two hours before they register them. The insulting over-sell doesn't take anything away from my admitted excitement for NEXT week, but it sure as hell puts a damper on whatever enjoyment I might have squeezed from this week.


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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