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OO RAW RECAP
Why Ask Why? 
October 11, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I'm a curious sort. Ask a lot of questions. Like knowing the answers. Will gladly debate you if I find your answer lacking in any substantive way and feel like our discourse might bring us closer to the proper answer.
 
In that way, I guess I can be not unlike a five-year-old, constantly asking the question "Why?"... not just about relatively important things like current events or how the universe works. But even about every day trivial matters. "Why did this person behave this certain way when I would have guess for sure it would have been this other way?" or "Why did I buy a whole fricking 15 pound  

pork loin when it was on sale for $1.80/lbs. and immediately make myself sick of delicious, delicious pork chops?"

And yes, "Why?" also extends to my viewing of TV. I can usually shut that off for 2 hours in a movie theatre and go along and have fun with pretty much anything.... but as soon as you're asking me to invest however many hours over the course of a year, I better be able to ask the question "Why?" and have there be some sort of internally-consistent reasoning for how come things happen in any fictional universe. It's probably why I don't watch so much TV: I just can't care about something unless I believe in the "Whys?" behind it. This doesn't mean I can only latch onto ultra-realistic things (quite the contrary, you're looking at a latent Star Trek dork), it just means that once a universe sets up its rules, they stick to it, and proceed to deliver logical, compelling drama that builds sensible from one episode to the next.

TV's rife with shows that don't do this. Some break the rules of common sense at every turn and are just ludicrous (*cough* "Prison Break" *cough*), others go to great lengths to avoid establishing any rules so that anytime a writer is out of ideas he can just pull something out of his ass and pretend it fits (*cough* "Lost" *cough*), and half the shows on TV are sitcoms, which almost invariably raise the simplest of all "Whys?". Namely: "Why is this even on the air?".

WWE is not immune from any of these problems. But there is USUALLY always one big "Why?" that you feel like you know the answer to. Wrestling may not set the exact "rules" for internal logic that I wish it would, but no matter how frustrating some of the resulting moves are, you almost always know the answer to: "Why did WWE do that?".

You might not like the answers, as they might involve "Because WWE is dead set on pushing Chris F. Masters to the moon." But you can at least understand the guiding principle behind most of WWE's moves.

And that, my friends, is what makes last night's show such a remarkable anomaly. Because for once: I'm clueless. "Why did WWE turn Linda McMahon heel?"... or, additionally: "Why did they do it in a main event non-match that also saw the dismissal of their signature play-by-play announcers?"...

Fair questions, and ones to which I have no ready answers. The segment was not entertaining or satisfying in and of itself. And trying to look ahead, I'm almost completely without interest in seeing what happens next and only slightly more interest in trying to figure out if there even is something that COULD come next that'd be worthwhile.

Tis not a pretty picture. But it's also something that comes at the end of a 2 hour RAW. So maybe I'll just get on with this duty, as there were some good things that happened in between here than there. Let's start at the top and work our way through....

Video Package: WWE came home to USA Network, and celebrated by giving the McMahons a 26 minute segment. Much to the surprise of no one, it has pretty much the exact same impact when distilled down to 60 seconds. Or, if you were like me and FF'ed, 8 seconds.

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live from somewhere in Texas for what sure as hell feels like about the 11th TV taping in a row. Wanna know what's on tap tonight? Well, for once Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman are of absolutely no use, cuz all they can tell us is that Vince McMahon will be showing up to fire somebody. And as outlined in the column yesterday, I think most fans could see through that and realize that whatever WWE had planned would simultaneously be lame AND nonsensical. I don't think I'm spoiling anything by telling you I turned out to be right. But enough pre-bitching about something that's still 2 hours away. Let's get this show started and see if there's anything worth bitching about 20 seconds away...

Stephanie McMahon is Better Than You

Yep, that's right: the answer to last week's McMahon overdose is MORE STEPH~! Well: at least I cannot argue with the simple fact that when she wants to be, Steph can really bring the petulant whininess and be a strong heel. Let's hope that's what we got planned here.

For starters: wah wah wah Steve Austin ruined the McMahon's crowning achievement by crashing Homecoming wah wah wah. Fair 'nuff so far. But then wah wah wah in an online poll Steph was voted the "favorite Stunner" of the four McMahons wah wah wah. So clearly that means the people don't like her wah wah wah. And this borders on the kind of heel banter that I don't care for: instead of doing something boo-able, this tack amounts to asking the fans to boo you, which is a little inelegant and cheap.

Steph goes further down that road with a rant that I'm going to declare was probably a little bit of veiled "secret code" shooty-ness. Taking direct aim at "all you internet fans," Steph declared that we only hated her because we are all jealous of her, because she's a strong woman with the smarts to be one of the most powerful people in the wrestling business. And also because she was born a McMahon, so she had it handed to her. Huh... wait, so am I jealous of all the things she has, or am I just annoyed at her misplaced sense of accomplishment and entitlement?

Continuing on: women are jealous of her because she's ever so pretty. Men are jealous of her because she has more money than any of them ever will (and also "bigger balls," which I'm just sorry she didn't say in NYC or Philly, because I would have loved the resulting "She's a tranny *clap* *clap* *clapclapclap*" chant). Ugh. I think I've talked about this before, but the Worst Kind Of Heels are the ones who have to TELL YOU why they should be booed, instead of just going out there and DOING things that should be booed. In the past year in WWE, how many times have we had "characters" that amount to "I will tell you how much better I am than you, and so you are jealous, and then you must boo me." You had Randy Orton's "What were you doing at age 24?" promo, you have every single appearance ever by Chris F. Masters (which amounts to, "Hey, I look better than you, boo me"), you have Rob Conway doing essentially the same thing as Masters, and now Steph is playing the "I'll tell you how awesome I am, and you get all green with envy, losers" card.

How is this compelling? To anyone? I mean, back in the day, you were allowed to have one Rick Rude on the roster at a given time, whose gimmick was that he could press the buttons and incite the fans into vaguely jealous rages. But it loses all effect when every single heel in need of cheap heat is playing that same note over and over again. I get the impression that the reason so many Americans watch so fricking much TV is because they already KNOW everybody on TV is going to be better than them.... they like the idea of watching people smarter, funnier, and better looking than them; they take some sort of strange comfort from those people filling the holes in their own lives. You'll have a real hard time selling a mainstream TV audience on a heel whose only heelishness is predicated on being smart, funny, or attractive. And then there'll be a smaller subset of people who aren't in the category of TV Viewers, but who *are* pretty confident that they are smarter and funnier than 95% of people (fictional or otherwise) on TV, and are pretty content to settle for 2 out of 3 and are presentable enough that they don't envy Chris F. Masters' physique if it meant they'd also have to turn into a total incompetent dunce. Not that you know any devastatingly charming Humble Webmaster who fits that bill.

Anyway, after that lazy digression by the normally-boo-able Stephanie, she got it back on track by suddenly stopping in mid-sentence... I guess we'll never hear items #297 through #812 on Steph's list of ways she's better than us. Because ring monkey Mark Yeaton is trying to give Steph the "wrap it up" gesture. And Steph no likey being told to stop flapping her gums. She's a McMahon and she'll talk for as long as she likes. So she slaps the dude. Lillian Garcia reacts negatively to this, since she spends entire shows sitting next to Mark. So Steph goes over and slaps her. Then Steph shoves down a camera man who doesn't get out of her way. She said that everybody had better be careful, because her dad is on his way to the arena and in a Firing Mood, so you don't want to be crossing the boss' daughter.

That appears to be the end of the segment, but as Steph got to the top of the ramp, she spied the commentators, and for some reason (oh, we all know the reason, but let's just be polite and pretend we don't), she decided to get up on top of their table and strike a pose like she's Stacy Keibler's alter-ego, Miss Hancock. Waiting for the whistles and hooting to subside, Steph declares, "You probably all think I'm a bitch." And then, in an immediate front runner for 2005's Most Stilted Delivery Of An Obvious Punchline, she said "Well, the bitch is back." Duh, Steph. But WHY?

After the odd digression, Steph was back to doing what she's great at in the second half of this segment: being utterly unlikable. And that led me to thinking the only possible answer to "WHY?" might be that Vince would show up, tease us for a bit, and then end up "firing" Steph. Again, sort of, since she also lost a "Loser Leaves WWE Match" 2 years ago, and Vince could say he's just enforcing that stipulation. Why would that have worked? Simple: because (1) casual fans just don't like Steph, so it would have gotten a rise out of them, (2) "smart" fans could read it as a symbolic move that signals the start of a new creative era for the company if Steph is pretend-fired, and (3) it'd wrap the whole pointless "somebody has to be fired" mess up in a nice tidy box so we never have to speak of it again. So of course, this is not what will happen.

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Rob Conway vs. Doink the Clown

Conway is accompanied by footage of him getting gang attacked by a ton of WWE Legends the week before. He's apparently out for revenge this week... and Doink the Clown shows up (complete with "WWE Legend" chyron, which makes me cry a little bit on the inside).

There's about a minute of preliminaries, which contain zero wrestling, and only BARELY manages to engage the crowd in a little bit of "Yay! Boo! Yay! Boo!" (which, if memory serves, was the b-side of Conan O'Brien's hit single "I'm A-Gonna Go to Hell When I Die"). This finally stops, and Doink is able to surprisingly match Conway on a chain wrestling sequence. You know it's ON, though, when Conway removes his sunglasses to wrestle for real.

Conway takes over with some forgettable offense, while the crowd is doing one of two things: (1) not giving a shit, or (2) waiting to find out who's underneath the Doink make-up before they start giving a shit. Doink gets a mild rally, but after getting caught while trying to ascend the ropes, Conway hits his spinning neckbreaker thingie which I always think of as "The Roll of the Dice," but which I guess WWE is deadset on calling The Ego Trip.

Your Winner: Rob Conway, via pinfall, in about 2-and-a-half minutes. Nothing to see here. For this to do Conway any good, you need to have him beating guys people, you know?, actually care about.

After the Match: Conway says "This is a message to all WWE Legends, cuz you're no different than Doink." Hoh boy, how he managed to say that with a straight face was probably the highest degree of difficulty move attempted on RAW. Then Conway pulled a Steph and did a rant to the fans about jealousy of him. Reference my past comments and then register a whole lot of me not giving a shit about characters apparently designed only to press the buttons of 11 year olds. Then Conway starts putting the boots to Doing again.... and EUGENE makes the save. [Eugene would have been my guess for somebody interesting to be pretending to be Doink, but that would have required WWE set things up by having Eugene interact at length with the legends last week -- and not just on a 60 second throwaway clip on WWE.com -- instead of spending 26 minutes on McMahon Overload.] But Eugene also gets an Ego Trip for his troubles. So Rob Conway is apparently now half Chris F. Masters (the I'm-so-pretty part) and half Randall Orton (the legend-killer part)... I really want to like Conway, but he's making it hard to care.

Coach's Triple Secret Probation Swerve Corner: we visit with our commentary crew, and discuss the impending firing. Coach IMMEDIATELY points fingers at JR and says that everybody's buzzing that Jim Ross is probably on his way out. See, normally, that'd be an iron-clad guarantee that Jim Ross' job was safe... but with WWE's priorities placed as they are, why did I immediately register that this was their idea of being clever by trying to swerve fans into thinking the expected outcome was a surprising one come the end of the show? Note: this was not clever. "Clever" would have been coming up with an outcome that people care about.

Video Package: last week, Triple H took about 10 minutes and a whole commercial break to beat the ever-loving crap out of Ric Flair. To the surprise of no one, it had the exact same impact when distilled down to 60 seconds. Or, if you were like me and FF'ed, 8 seconds.

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Carlito's Cabana: John Cena's Hot Man-on-Man(-on-Man-on-Man-on-Man-on-Man) Action Edition

We come back from the break with Carlito already in the ring. And because we must make sure that any 10 minute stretch of RAW that is McMahon-Free at least features others TALKING about the McMahons (many years ago, this was dubbed the "Big Poochie" Effect), Carlito must preface his Cabana with prepared comments directed towards Stephanie McMahon that inform us that if he'd known what was going on, he would have been the first to the ring to spit in Steve Austin's face last week.

Umm, Carlito: the fricking thing last damn near half-an-hour. How did you manage to miss it?

Anyway: on with bidness, which in this case means that the Cabana is going to get to the bottom of who is the #1 Contender to John Cena's WWE Title. Carlito gets no further than reminding us that last week's IronMan match ended in a tie, when he gets his first interruptor...

Kurt Angle hits the ring and immediately wonders out loud what the hell match Carlito was watching, because to Kurt it was freaking clear that he beat Shawn Michaels' ass for 30 minutes and was just about.....

To be interrupted by Shawn Michaels his own self. Michaels gets to the ring, and says that there's nothing clear, because when Michaels gave Angle the opportunity for Sudden Death, to determine a Clear Winner, Angle walked away. Which means either Angle doesn't want the WWE Title, or Angle just didn't want any more of ol' HBK. Angle took the proverbial umbrage at Shawn's implication, and said he's not scared of anyone. And further (Big Poochie Bylaw #188) Shawn Michaels should be scared of losing his job, because Vince McMahon knows that Kurt Angle carries RAW, so Shawn should stay out of his way. Angle makes a few more comments about the last time RAW was on USA, he was the WWE Champ and WCW was being put out of business, so obviously Vince would favor him.

But we've got another country to hear from. The Big Show picks right around here to enter. Shawn decides to take a load off in one of Carlito's pool furniture and fake-sip on a pina colada while he watches the fireworks. Show says he's been sitting back and biding his time since coming to RAW, but listening to these to yammering back and forth, he had an epiphany: that when you're 7 foot tall and weigh 500 pounds, you don't have to stand in line. You can cut directly to the head of the line, cuz cain't nobody do anything about it. So Show wants his WWE Title shot, or he wants somebody in the ring to try to stop him from getting it.

Aaaaaaaannnnnnnd, that's some doucherock, which can only mean Edge is here with a dissenting viewpoint. Though what it could be is beyond me, since he's got a guaranteed title shot whenever he wants it, and this discussion thus would have absolutely nothing to do with him. But that doesn't stop him from hitting the ring, anyway, followed closely by Lita's boobs. And then by the rest of Lita, I would presume, but I wasn't paying attention. Edge gets a mic and.... huh, he says exactly what I just said: that he doesn't have to stand in line because he's already got a title shot In The Bank. So please to explain what the fuck you're doing out here, Edgeward? He says he's out here to request that Stephanie and/or Vince McMahon (Poochie!) "freeze all title shots" until Edge decides to use his. 

I think my brain just exploded, cuz that makes no sense. Shouldn't Edge want there to be AS MANY title matches as possible, with a champion as beat up and exhausted as possible, before he decides when to take his shot? I realize Edge had to be out here and in the mix for the six-man main event to work, but there HAD to have been some halfway logical way to explain his presence. This? Was not it.

Carlito gets indignant when Edge starts talking about "freezing title shots," although it's not for the reasons of Illogic and Lack of Continuity that I brought up. It's because Edge didn't even come down to the ring to defend RAW against SmackDown! last week at the end of the show, so if anything, EDGE should be the one to get fired by Vince McMahon (Poochie!). And although Carlito notes that "all of us in the ring can't stand each other, we agree on one thing: we don't like you." Sure enough, Angle, Michaels, and Show are in agreement on this.

Carlito also has another notion, while he's on such a roll: he thinks HE should be the #1 Contender. And before we can hear any of his reasons why, we get our final guest for tonight...

John Cena. Homey the Clown is out to his customary girly squeals, but in fairness to him, the boos seem on the lighter side tonight. At least as compared to last week, when "Cena Sucks" chant rained down from the rafters in Dallas. To celebrate RAW's new (old) network, where there aren't any fules to be rucked, Cena decides to serenade us with his first Freestyle in a long while.

And by "freestyle," I mean "Carefully Scripted Unfunniness That Mostly Rhymed And Which Included Plenty of Props." Cuz nothing says "I swear I'm just TOTALLY making this up as I go" like pulling more lame props out of your pockets in 2 minutes than Carrottop ever has.

Verse #1 (for Michaels): Cena respects Shawn, but thinks his outfits are borderline homosexual.

Verse #2 (for Angle): Cena would experience extreme gratification if Kurt removed his mouthpiece and replaced it with Cena's penis. 

Verse #3 (for Show): Big Show may be big, but has very tiny genitals.

Verse #4 (for Carlito): Cena would experience extreme gratification if he could place his nuts in Carlito's mouth. 

Verse #5 (for Edge): Cena would experience extreme gratification if Edge would fellate him.

[Note, I made none of these up.  John Cena, hero to dozens, called Shawn Michael's sexuality into question before once again admitting to having Intimate Knowledge of Big Show's privates and then expressing his desire to lay back while three large men pleasure him orally. You know, one dismissive "Oh, suck my dick, you asshole" is a fair rhetorical device if one is feeling lazy in an argument... but three times in 2 minutes? And putting enough effort into it to make them rhyme? And having props to accompany you on 2 of the 3? That's just gay. In *both* senses of the word. For help on correct usage of the same basic imagery, I direct John Cena to "Deadwood," where male characters frequently accuse others of being expert in the art of cocksuckery, but don't exactly go around gleefully offering their own privates for sampling the service.]

Then Cena has a bonus Verse #6 for all of them, which amounts to "I don't care which of you is the #1 contender, and if I have to, I'll fight all of you, cuz I'm mega-super-bad-ass despite my love of 7th grade blowjob humor and latent homosexual urges." Except he does it so that the last word was gonna be "shit," and he does the mic raise so the fans can say it for him. Hilariously, I think the live fans must have been not paying attention (or are borderline retarded), because it sounded like maybe 10% of them got it right. And a significant percentage of them seemed to decide, in a frantic rush, that "fuck" rhymes just fine with "quit." And *that*, my friends, was the funniest part of Cena's entire promo.

Despite me not liking much of anything about John Cena, I grant this is an effective segment: the other five guys were all spot-on in their roles setting up a messy WWE Title Picture... this comes just in time for Taboo Tuesday, where fans will vote on a contender. And Carlito's strange aside about "the four of us hate each other, but at least we all defended RAW and don't like Edge" could be viewed as the start of setting up a Team Bischoff vs. Team Teddy match for Survivor Series There was enough goodness there that I won't let Cena's obnoxious 7th-grade class clown act ruin it for me... though I will note that by the end of his promo, the boos were slightly louder than they were at the start of it. I just can't help myself.

Backstage: Trish is warming up and stretching for what we're told is a Women's Title Defense against Victoria later on tonight. Then Diva Search Ashley shows up to take a seat and bask in the warm glowing glowing warmth of Trish's bosom. If their conversation was anything substantive, we didn't hear it because the announcers were talking over it....

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During the Break: Eric Bischoff signed a big six-man tag match for our main event tonight (Michaels/Show/Cena vs. Angle/Carlito/Edge), but did so in "exclusive" WWE.com footage. Which we're now seeing on USA Network That's two weeks in a row in which WWE has showcased an understanding of the word "exclusive" that's about on par with Gorilla Monsoon's life-long battle with the word "literally."

Tajiri vs. Chris F. Masters

Goddammit.

Tajiri, at least, can lay claim to stopping Masters' crap-ass ring-entrance before it could bore the audience ALL the way to sleep. Instead, he sprints out while Masters is trying mightily to synch his posing up to his music (again showcasing that he puts more effort and pride into his ring entrance than he apparently did into the Learning How To Be A Wrestler thingie), and attacks from behind. I'd call it a Pearl Harbor job, but in Tajiri's case, that'd probably get me a shitload of e-mails telling me how racially insensitive I was.

So Tajiri whomps ass for about a minute as he kicks Masters to the ring, and then keeps kicking him while in it. I always love noting that even when he's hardly ever on TV and never gets pushed, Tajiri's offense ALWAYS gets oohhs and aahhhs that most guys don't get. That's because there are somethings outside the purview of the Writer Monkeys, and Tajiri having the ability to make you BELIEVE in his matches (even if the writers have ensured that a lot of fans don't quite care about the outcome) is one of them.

A bunch of kicks and a brief Tarantula have Tajiri firmly in command, but when he sets up for the Buzzsaw Kick, Masters ducks, and Tajiri spins through, out of control, only to end up in a full nelson out of nowhere. They milk it for about a full minute, but Tajiri's not going anywhere. He loses clean to pretty much Chris F. Masters' only offensive move of the match (and which got roughly three-quarters the fan reaction as some of Tajiri's stiffer kicks).

Your Winner: Chris F. Masters, via submission, in about 2 or 2-and-a-half minutes. Match featured a lot of Masters getting kicked stiffly, which I liked. But for this to register as even halfway decent, the ass-kicking would had to have continued for about another 8 minutes and ended with Masters' face a mess of his own blood and about three different colors of Deadly Mist as he lost the match. 

Backstage: Triple H is WALKING~! And walking down a very well-staged hallway that will be filled with tons of not-even-remotely-coincidental guest appearances at convenient times! First up: HHH just so happens to walk past Shawn Michaels, who says, "I've known you longer than anybody here, and I thought I knew just what you were capable of, but last week, you went too far, Hunter." Trips looks a bit scolded-puppydog-ish for a few seconds before just smirking and laughing Shawn's helpful criticism off. Back down the Hallway Of Deus Ex Machina! Hey, there's a bunch of guys who'll probably be coming to a Heat Webcast near you this weekend! And some officials/productions people! And they're all giving HHH the skunk eye! Hunter tries to keep a stiff upper lip and wants to keep laughing, but he's finding it hard to do with such scrutiny coming from all sides. He finally breaks down and is looking a bit concerned as he continues WALKING~!... directly into Big Show, who promises that some day, Hunter will "get his," and seems to think he'd enjoy being around to either see it or contribute to it. Now HHH is really concerned, but luckily, he walks away and turns a corner to bump into his Final Convenient Encounter of the Evening. It's John Cena, who actually says, "I don't know you, but after last week, you lost my respect." 

Hoh boy, that's rich; the guy who just invited three men to triple team his wang is talking about respect to a guy who, if nothing else, does seem to have an understanding of wrestling history and tradition? I'm telling you: I've thought about this, and if WWE is really banking on babyface Cena vs. Heel Hunter for WM22, they might be in for a rude awakening... then again, I'm on the guy who said the same thing about babyface Orton vs. Heel Hunter headlining WM21 last year, and who said it a full 6 months before WWE realized the same thing and pulled the plug. Anyway, despite being cowed by comments from Show and Michaels (and the dirty looks of such worthies as Trevor Murdoch), Trips has no problem finding his courage against Cena, and punks him out, verbally. When Cena tries his "If you want some, come get some" line, HHH is right there ready with "When I want it, I'll come TAKE it" (while eyeballing the WWE Title Belt). It might have come at the end of a vaguely-fake-feeling Walk of Shame, but Homey the Clown just got a lesson in proper Pro Wrestling Tauntery.

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SmackDown! Rebound: I may not have seen No Mercy on PPV, and I STILL didn't care enough to stop FF'ing when this clip package showed up. That says something. Either about me, or about the SD! product. Or possibly both. 

What's Good For the Goose is Good For the Gander Theatre

Well, Steph kicked us off. Vince is gonna be showing up later. So why not hand a third lengthy non-wrestling segment over to a member of the McMahon Family? Mr. Stephanie McMahon: the floor is yours.

Trips says he's sensing a lot of hostility, not just in the back, but from these fans. He thinks maybe they feel they are owed and explanation for last week's attack on Ric Flair... and from the crowd response, he thought right. So HHH promptly says, "Well, tough, because that's an issue between me and Ric, between two friends."

OUTSTANDING~! So please leave the ring, and let's get on with the show! Oh, but wait, by "issue between two friends" you MEANT to say "issue about which I will ramble about in public and on National Television for 12 minutes after having already conveyed my point in 5"? Dammit, I knew that was too good to be true...

So I guess we air this dirty laundry in public, afterall. And we start with HHH telling the fans that if they think THEY like Ric Flair, then he's got them beat six ways till Sunday. He idolized Ric Flair and worshipped him. Until Flair showed up in the WWF four years ago a "broken man." Hunter couldn't stand to see his one-time hero looking so pathetic, so he took Flair under his wing, and by permitting Flair to stay close to him, he gave Flair back an illusion of his one time greatness.

But then, Hunter went away on a little vacation, but Ric Flair kept on plugging away. And without Hunter's greatness, Flair exposed himself as a the elderly charlatan that he is. Or so sayeth HHH. In a lengthy tirade that had the effect of ensuring that the InterContinental Title will have the least possible import in the eyes of fans, HHH told the story of watching Flair "aspire to mediocrity" (uh oh, though it's in a different context, why did I suddenly feel like somebody was cribbing my lines, here?), and then celebrating when he achieved it. Yep, that's right: the IC Title is wrestling #1 Symbol of Mediocrity, now. You sure you didn't get confused with Orlando Jordan's US Title run, there, Trips?

HHH even goes out of his way to discuss one defining moment: when he saw Ric Flair go to the top rope and actually successfully hit a move. And the crowd cheered, and Flair celebrated... but at home, HHH took that as a sign that he'd have to do something difficult. Because there is absolutely nothing commendable about hitting one move off the top rope, sayeth HHH. [Well, at least now we know who's holding the Cruiserweights down!] 

HHH knew he couldn't stand to watch a shell of Ric Flair, his hero and idol, embarassing himself every week on TV like that. So last week, HHH did something that only a friend who truly cares would do. He took the old horse out back behind the barn, and put a bullet in it. Ric Flair's career is now over, and he'll tarnish his own legacy no further, and it's because Hunter cared enough to put an end to it now.

This gooses a "We Want Flair" chant out of the crowd, which sends HHH careening down a path I probably wouldn't have taken, just doing the vague heel threatening where he says "don't listen to them, Ric, cuz if you do, I'll just give you more of the same, Old Man." I'd have played it more like "I want Flair, too, people. But the Ric Flair we knew and loved is long since dead, and all that's left of him has no business in My Ring." That would have been much more subtly dickish.

HHH then closes with an utterly superfluous ramble about Flair not even being in "the game" anymore that ended (just as anviliciously as his wife's promo did) with a totally expected and cliched "For Ric Flair, the Game is Over." Nee haw?

Not a bad promo from Hunter, and I guess it hits a few properly assholish notes about HHH trying to take credit for Flair's post-WCW career renaissance. For it to REALLY work, though, this will have to be exposed in coming weeks as HHH compensating for his jealousy that Flair CONTINUED to have success in WWE, even winning the IC Title, while HHH was gone. Otherwise, there were a few counterproductive elements to HHH's speech... also: as always seems to be the case with the fellow, shaving about 2-3 minutes off would have helped immensely. You're not talking to retarded grade schoolers, Hunter. Talk to us like grown-ups. The only evidence I need is that the fans were more riled up and angry in the middle of the promo than they were at the end... the very dictionary definition of "anti-climax," if I'm not mistaken.

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

We come back from a break to spy Lillian Garcia in the ring, looking all smiley and giggly, giving me the impression that we're interrupting something.... I guess the transitions between WWE.com chicanery and the live TV broadcast aren't quite glitch-free yet and we just caught the tail end of some in-arena silliness?

Champion enters first? Yep, don't ask me why. Victoria enters second. And BOTH enter without any accompaniment. We are told that outsiders have been barred from ringside so that we can have a nice one-on-one match-up.

Trish starts out super-hot, running through a few of her kicks and a new layered version of the Matrix that turns into a head scissors in the end. [Coach: "That's not the Matrix, Trish wants to call it the MaTrish." Me: "No she doesn't, because in my imagination Trish is actually pretty smart and doesn't think that the Late Stages ECW Naming Wrestling Moves With Shitty Puns Era is something to aspire to. And don't even get me started on the Chick Kick."] However, this early rally goes south when Trish tries for the Stratusfaction Bulldog ("Stratusfaction" isn't shitty, but "MaTrish" is? Yep, can't explain why, but it's true)... and Victoria manages to turn it into a positively wicked backbreaker. Ow, my Trish Sympathy Gene. And more importantly for the story of the match: Ow, Trish's recently rehabbed lower back.

Thus begins about 2 minutes of Victoria working on Trish's back. [Coach, about halfway through this attack: "Victoria should really think about  focusing more on Trish's lower back, since that's the injury that caused her to miss a few months." JR, King, and Pretty Much The Rest Of America: "Umm, dum dum, are you even WATCHING the match?" Good lord, and THIS is the guy who's supposed to be in charge of driving the boat starting next week...] Good stuff, mixing between high impact (including a gorilla press slam), and also a standing Boston Crab Variant that I'm not sure I've seen before.

After one or another of these various lower back assaults that apparently evaded Coach's keen Psychology Detector, Victoria started arguing with the referee about a slow count. That's plenty for Our Women's Champion to regain her composure and start a rally... she eventually sits Victoria on the top rope, preparing for a handstand headscissors, but after two straight weeks of having a counter ready for that, Victoria's sure as hell not gonna fall for it THIS week. Maybe Trish isn't so bright afterall? So after countering it with a Sloppy Double Fall To The Mat the first time, and countering it by pantsing Trish last week, this time, Victoria drops Trish to the mat and turns it into a Standard Boston Crab in one smooth motion. Nice: and again, somebody might want to alert Coach that this is probably not going to feel good on Trish's tender lower back.

Warrior that she is, though, Trish manages to quickly score a counter, and rolls Victoria up for a near fall. Frustrated, Victoria tries to move back in to take advantage, and sets Trish up for a powerbomb... but Trish counters that with something that falls about halfway in between a backdrop and a Northern Lights Suplex. Point is, it ends with a bridging pinning combo, and Trish scores the W.

Your Winner: Trish Stratus, via pinfall, in about 5 minutes. Pretty much like what the did two weeks ago: good, a reminder of what's possible if you have capable women on the roster, but also nothing really memorable. It also pains me to note that at this point, we're 75 minutes into the show, and this is our first dramatic, competitive match. Good lord....

After the Match: Trish is still not in good shape, so Victoria figures she'll extract a little Instantaneous Revenge by attacking. With the match now over, Diva Search Ashley is quick to come to the rescue... but is also quick to get her ass kicked by Victoria. It's looking hopeless when Some Mystery Babe comes out of nowhere and goes all Spaz-Attack on Victoria with stiff punches and kicks. Mystery Babe certainly looks like she's built for more than just lookin' at (well, except for the front bumper, which is clearly a post-factory installation), which is certainly right up my alley. And more importantly, Victoria is taken totally by surprise and has her ass handed to her by the seemingly-able-bodied young lass... with evil thus smote, Mystery Babe finally settles down, and we get a look at her face. Aha: it's Alexis Laree. Finally. A lot of people have been saying she's seemed ready to them for most of the past year. Anyway, Alexis gets the women's title belt and sheepishly hands it over to Trish with a star-struck look on her face. Then she exits the ring, leaving Trish to wrestle both with what the hell just happened and with her pants (which were again losing a battle with gravity this week).

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Backstage: Trishley are walking down a hallway... and apparently it's the same Hallway Of Extreme Expository Convenience that HHH walked down earlier, because who should they bump into? Alexis Laree. Except: she introduces herself as Mickie James (I think this might be her real name, actually), and says she just joined the RAW roster last week, and she's so excited because she's Trish #1 Fan. Trish says that explains why the name sounds so familiar, and Mickie says yeah, she wrote like a gazillion letters to Trish. But it's totally OK that Trish never once wrote her back. You know, what with being the women's champion and all. And Mickie just can't contain herself now that she's meeting Trish and getting to work with her. There is an awkward forced hug, and Mickie assures Trish she'll see her later. Meantime, Trish and Ashley don't look too sure that they want to see the new hyper-active spaz again anytime soon. Hmmm, and you know what? Two weeks in a row I bet there's some socially-stunted portion of the RAW creative team (and the RAW audience) who would like to have seen a skit like this played for Cheap Lesbian Overtones, and instead: none. That affection for Trish was decidedly creepy, and not hot. I have a feeling Trish might be about to get Annie Wilkes'd. 

The Heels Have Entered the Building

Strange time management again this week, as we are going to give Vince McMahon's Firing the Main Event Slot (ugh), and start the Actual Main Event match now. And by "start the match," I mean, let Carlito, Angle, and Edge make their separate ring entrances.

And then we cut backstage to see Vince McMahon arrive in his limo. And then, that's about enough excitement for you, so we cut to....

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Shawn Michaels, Big Show, John Cena vs. Kurt Angle, Carlito Cool, Edge

Once we finally get everybody into the ring, Cena opts to start for his team... but after starting strong against Edge, he finds himself in the Wrong Part of Town. A little chicanery, and a tag in to Carlito, and Cena's on defense for a bit. But it's a simple matter this early on... it takes nothing more than an Irish Whip Reversal and a back drop to get Cena enough space to get to his corner for a tag.

In comes Big Show, and instantly, it's bad news for the heels. First Carlito (legal man) gets some wicked "Shhh!" Chops. Then Angle decides to lend a hand and gets more of the same. In a nice touch, Edge is apparently not quite 100% with his teammates after the earlier exchange and holds back for a bit, letting both Carlito and Angle eat seconds. Finally Edge DOES have to do something, though, but it doesn't exactly work out well for him: a few more moment of Big Show's ass kicking, and all three heels are stacked in a corner for an Andre-Style Butt Butt (as we used to call it when we were kids and thought that was the height of cleverness). All three bad guys down, Show celebrating. Might as well break for...

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Back, and Cena's come in for the good guys, and is having absolutely no luck against Kurt Angle. After a few moments of being Kurt's personal bitch, Cena is handed off to Edge for additional ass-whomping. Well, that's two thirds of Cena's Shameful Fantasy; all we need now is for Carlito to get in there. Remember: he's the one in charge of not neglecting Cena's nuts. Thankless work, but very important.

Actually: the Angle-to-Edge exchange comes as part of a relatively concerted focus on Cena's back. [Coach: "This reminds me, maybe if Victoria had focused more on Trish's lower back, she could have won that match." Oh, OK, not really... but still, twas funny.] Kurt and Edge have finally had enough, and decide to let their Junior Partner get a few yuks in. But that doesn't work out so well. By countering a suplex attempt, Cena again is able to make it to his corner for a tag. This time, a quasi-hot-one, as Michaels comes in an goes immediately for the Flying Burrito (JR: "Flying Burrito," although quite possibly for the last time ever), which is the start of a sequence of Five Moves that cannot be stopped. Except in about 86% of all cases.

The nip-up happens as scheduled. Then there's a slight break, as Shawn has to deal with Angle and Edge trying to interfere. But he quickly turns back to Carlito, and follows-up with Move #3, the Macho Man Elbow. #4, the Tuning Up of The Band, is executed to perfection. But just before Shawn can hit #5 and nail Carlito with the Sweet Chin Music, Angle swoops in again and intercepts him. Then Angle swoops back out, so he can be in position when Carlito crawls over to tag him in. Michaels? Not so lucky, and becomes the match's first genuine Face In Peril.

And just for shits and giggles, it seems we're once again working the lower back, possibly with a bit of emphasis on the ribs, too. This builds up, unfortunately, to Angle working a body scissors for a few minutes, which was one of the contributing factors towards last week's IronMan Match bogging down in the middle. Just as last week, they did the whole deal with Shawn eventually rolling it over and breaking through Angle's guard and so forth. But before Shawn can muster any kind of rally, Carlito low-bridges him on an Irish Whip, sending Michaels crashing to the floor. While Angle keeps the ref distracted, and while HBK's teammates contribute to that by screaming bloody murder, Shawn gets speared on the floor by Edge. More damage for the back and ribs. And also a spot for more...

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Back again, and it's still Angle and Michaels as the legal men. After a brief chinlock, Angle brings it at full speed with more suplexes and slams and stuff. Then Carlito's in, and although Michaels manages a few punchy-kicky hope spots, he's able to mostly maintain control. This builds to the inevitable Resthold Of Firing Up Out Of. Carlito chooses a chinlock, and Michaels chooses to not linger too long in that ever-popular hold. Fires up, as he is obligated to do, eventually turns it into a side headlock once he's on his feet, and then hits a back suplex. Both men down, both men need tags. Michaels gets his Big Show; Carlito gets his to Angle.

Show is a house afire, taking out all three heels. But staying focused on Angle, the legal man, Show eventually gets rid of the other two guys and slams Angle in the middle of the ring. Then, Show gives the International Sign for "You Can't See Me," and decides to tag in Cena (who, in one of those little things that just contributes to his character ringing false and cartoony, has his Intensity Dial turned up to about 47 -- on a scale of 1-10 -- as he's begging Show for the tag). But Show gives him the tag, and after replanting Angle with a powerbomb, he hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and looks to be on the brink of victory.

And then things got a little weird. Because Edge started loitering around with a steel chair. Apparently he was supposed to get the attention of Big Show, cuz eventually Show just wandered over to where Edge was and started brawling with him. Huh. The two powdered out into the crowd, never to be seen again. Meantime, Carlito briefly interrupted Cena's attack on Angle, but was clotheslined out of the ring by Shawn, effectively powdering both of THEM out, too. It's just Cena and Angle.

And Angle seems to strike first, taking advantage of the distractions to secure an anklelock. But Cena quickly counters this by picking an ankle of his own, and briefly cinching Angle in his own hold. But if anybody knows the counter to the anklelock, it'd be Kurt... so he decides to bust some mad science on Cena by rolling through and locking Cena into a pinning combination. Kurt hooks both legs, and that's enough for the three count. You better believe Kurt celebrated like mad: that's twice he's beaten the WWE Champ, now, and still he has no title to show for it.... but this should establish him as the #1 Contender, opine our Announcers.

Your Winners: Kurt Angle, Carlito Cool, and Edge, via Angle pinfall on Cena, in about 20 minutes. Weirdness of Show and Edge's departure aside, a pretty well put-together match that was a lot of fun and played to everybody's strengths. The heels were all solid, Michaels did all the real work for his team, Cena was mostly kept hidden other than for his few big spots, and Show got some crowd pleasing House Afire Moments... nothing to complain about here. Pretty much on par with the 8-man version of this that they did a few weeks ago. Just without Chris F. Masters.

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Next Week: Mick Foley will be back, and a guest on Carlito's Cabana... that should be interesting, and I'm assuming it means we can safely rule out Mick following Randy Orton to SD! for any more selfless acts? And also next week..... Kane is returning, with an agenda unknown.

Sending The Crowd Home Annoyed Theatre

Vince McMahon is out to oversee a non-wrestling main event promo/angle. So it'd better be good.

Vince starts out by putting over Steve Austin's acts from last week as heinous and deplorable, and something that he'll never be able to forget or forgive. Oy. All the things you two crazy kids have been through and a few Stunners is gonna be an excuse for lord only knows how much NEW Suck we'll have to endure, now?

Vince then starts wondering where to lay the blame. And who will get fired. First, Vince toys with the idea of blaming Bischoff, since it happened "on his watch." But no, Bischoff isn't responsible for this. Vince guesses responsibility might lie with Austin himself (hey, genius, now there's an idea!), but Vince says he's not ready to fire Austin. Not yet. 

OK, it's pretty much around here you should turn off your brain, unless you want all ability to think rationally or logically to be lost in a blaze of retarded "WWE Think."

Vince then free-form rambles to another possible responsible party: the people who made Stone Cold and who encourage him to behave the way he does. The fans. Vince accuses us of "loving" what Austin did last week, and that makes us all culpable, somehow. And so the only way Vince can get satisfaction? He gets every single person who "loved it" when his family got Stunnered to cheer, and says he's hiring those who loved last week's segment on the spot, and welcoming them to the WWE Family. GODDAMMIT, and with the "had to love last week's segment" prerequisite, I STILL don't have a WWE job. Vince won't even PRETEND hire me! Then, of course, Vince turns to a camera and growls "You're Fired" to all the fans he just hired. This probably got less of a response than he'd have hoped for. 

EXTRA! This just posted to WWE.com: "World Wrestling Entertainment and its fans have decided to part ways. WWE wishes our fans the best of luck in all their future endeavors." From my understanding a 90-day No Compete Clause is in effect, so no watching anything else on Mondays! Luckily, it'll be lifted just in time for all of us to start watching "24" when it returns to Mondays in January. Really, it's perfect timing for us. Until then, we can still go around making snippy comments about what a clueless goon Johnny Ace is.

Back to reality...

With the fans not really buying the "You're Fired," Vince figures it's probably time to stop marking time and just get on to what's gonna pass for the finish. Because he says there's three people who were just as close to the action as any fan, and they still did nothing to stop it. He calls his three announcers to the ring. Oh lord. A main event non-match. AND it involves announcers as the climax? This is a guaranteed let-down.

Vince demands apologies from all three men. Coach gives an appropriately sycophantic one, and is gratefully excused from any further sanctions by Vince. Lawler, when pressed, gives a grudging apology, which Vince also accepts. Which brings him to Jim Ross, Stone Cold's Best Friend.... Vince demands an apology, but all JR musters is "I'm sorry your wife got Stunnered." Vince says that won't do, and he wants more than an apology for Linda. And if JR wants to keep his job, if he loves the fans and wants to keep talking to them every week, he better apologize pronto. JR says he does love the fans and his job, but reiterates that what he's sorry for is still kind of limited.

Vince decides that maybe what JR needs is to apologize to each McMahon in person, face-to-face. First up, Stephanie. Steph comes out, oozing her daddy's heel smarm, and says she wants an apology from JR, and wants it now. JR just says what he already has, "I'm sorry your momma got Stunnered." Steph says that's not good enough, and so she slaps him upside the head. Vince then announces that it's time for Shane McMahon's apology, and if JR doesn't give it, his punishment will be worse than a slap, cuz he'll send Shane up to the top rope to drop an elbow directly into JR's "black heart." Well, at least now we know who was feeding JR that ol' chestnut every time he busted it out over the past decade...

But when Vince directs our attention to the entrance aisle, it's LINDA McMahon who makes her way down to the ring. Huh. And I guess for the second week in a row, Shane's smart enough to know that the best way to keep himself in the fans good graces is to make himself as scarce as possible in these crappy segments. Last week: 30 seconds of total face time. This week: none.

Linda gets to the ring and appears to chastise Vince and Linda, saying that she can't let them keep behaving this way, not when returning to USA Network and having their family all back together again meant that they could consider this a Fresh Start for not only WWE but for the McMahons. And if this is a fresh start, she'll not have Steph and Vince out here behaving poorly.

Linda opines that you don't accomplish anything in this world by  threatening or intimidating people. Screaming and pitching fits won't get anything done. Taking action will. So to set an example, Linda's going to take action here tonight. Vince even musters up a baby Gulp of Fear at this notion, but by this point, I think we all knew what was coming and I think we all cared about equally as much. Which is to say: not at all.

Linda walks over to JR with a conspiratorial smile, like she and JR were about to drop a bomb on Vince and Steph. But instead, when she got up next to JR, Linda said, "On behalf of WWE and the McMahon Family.... you're fired, JR." JR looked stunned that mild mannered Linda McMahon would take such glee in his demise. And then, for the finishing touches, Linda delivered the absolutely Worst Sac Kick Ever in the history of wrestling to JR. Unless Jim Ross' anatomy includes testicles at roughly knee-level, I'm not exactly sure what Linda struck, but it sent JR tumbling hard to the mat so that Vince could get a look of Surprised Triumph on his face that his wife could be so diabolical. Oh, lord. 

Tell me: who was begging for this heel turn? Tell me: what good things can possibly come of it? Tell me: in what parallel dimension does sending your signature announcer off with a ritual humiliation count as Main Event Worthy TV?

Only good thing: I guess RAW ran even later than usual, because my recording ran out about 30 seconds after the sac kick, and the show still seemed to be going at full speed. What can I say? I was watching baseball, and only gave RAW the standard 5-minute buffer (to 11:10pm)... I'm assuming I missed nothing more than an extra minute or two of McMahon posing and preening. And those are a couple of minutes I'll live just fine without, thanks.

Looks to me like WWE realized they need to fix things, and started asking themselves some tough questions... but if the answer they came up with was "More Lame McMahon Family Drama," then they're asking entirely the wrong questions. That's how far off-base this approach strikes me as being. It's not like it was a totally crappy show: a solid six-man, the women's match, and half of Carlito's Cabana would all stand on their own as worthy entertainment... but you just can't go around putting finishes on shows like this that completely fail to connect with what the fans showed up to see. Either give it up, or just go for the Full Monty and reveal that HHH is a McMahon, too, and see if that's something that captures the fans' attentions. Cuz this just ain't gonna cut it...

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
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RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
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RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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