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When Non-Existent Expectations Attack~! 
October 18, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, for one week, it's hard not to acknowledge WWE's effort to keep The Suck off of RAW. 
John Cena was almost-entirely invisible, and when he did show up, said all off about a dozen words. And said them all in his Subdued Wigger Voice, since he was only on commentary, not doing a full-blown promo.

Chris F. Masters was mostly invisible, and never got his usual weekly chance to bore the shit out of


Three McMahons showed up, but in limited doses, and never overstayed their welcome. I dare say Stephanie was a part of the Best McMahon Segment in months, even.

Yep, it sure seemed like they made a conscious effort to address some of the issues that fans like us had been raising... well, except for the announcing, which was just distractingly awful. But you know what? It's real easy to tune those morons out, if you want. I already play the "I bet my commentary is better than theirs" game every week while watching RAW. This week, I just turned my volume knob up a bit once I saw how bad things were going to be.

Sadly: even if RAW left most of the Suck at home, it's not like they are really heading in any particularly compelling direction. I mean: the biggest storyline of the night was pretty much the announcer crap, and like I said last week, wrestling fans don't care about non-wrestlers behaving stupidly. That's no more apparent than in the fact that they've brought Steve Austin back, but for the thrilling purpose of "wrestling" Coach. Ugh. And could you have booked any less climactic a return for Kane? Probably not.

But hey: baby steps. Because our beloved WWE COULD have booked a much STUPIDER return for Kane, if they even half-tried. They didn't. They just half-assed it and hurled a 7-foot anvil at us in the Main Event Battle Royale, instead. Given the alternative, I guess I don't mind that.

Or maybe this is all just a case of lowered expectations... you can see about what I thought of RAW's prospects in yesterday's column, so I was bracing for the worst. And then, as an added bonus, when I got done Not Watching RAW In Real Time last night, the last thing Erin Anderson said to me was that the show sucked balls (hey, she actually watched the show this week!) and that she'd say a prayer before bed for mercy on my soul for whenever I finally got around to starting up my recording. That only reinforced my anxiety.

But I ended up spending about 75 minutes of DVR/couch time waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept looking over my shoulder, anticipating The Suck. But barring the announcing, it never showed up. And when you anticipate awfulness, when you've been told point blank that awfulness is afoot, somehow, I managed to wring a tolerable experience out of a flamboyantly mediocre edition of RAW. Here's how it all went down.....

Video Package: All things McMahon/JR from last week. It wasn't good then, I can't imagine it was good here.

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in an Announcer-less Sacramento, CA. No announcers means that we need to jump start this show with somebody else doing the talky-talky. Who shall it be?

If You Care About Announcer Drama, Please Stick Your Head In The Oven

Vince McMahon comes out, and sets up camp at the top of the sta.... I mean, top of the aisle. No stage to be seen. Which can only mean one thing. Well, two things, but I'm pretty sure this wasn't a RAW/SD! SuperTaping... so already, they've tipped their hand on some Vehicular Stuntery.

First: Vince says that Taboo Tuesday is coming up and he's challenging Eric Bischoff to come up with some kind of super-sweet main event that will put the power back in the hands of the fans. I thought we were fired, Vince? But I'm sure we appreciate the thought...

Second: Vince gloats about Jim Ross being fired. OK, that's it, it's official: this whole thing might have started out real, but it's just a storyline, now. A storyline that really has no business existing. Because when more thought and effort is going into creating lame drama for your announcers instead of -- oh, I dunno -- having a viable tag team division, you are officially wearing your ass as a hat. Make a note of it, WWE, and call me up when you get your priorities straight so that I can alert all the fans who you've managed to alienate in the last 18 months or so.

Continuing: Vince's gloating over JR's firing includes a lengthy description of how his wife Linda took care of things. He spoke in glowing terms and made Linda out to be lots more charismatic than she actually was. Linda, it seems, will be appearing again tonight. But only via satellite. First good news of the show!

Third: Vince hints that Steve Austin might be planning to show up later on to take umbrage at his friend JR's firing. The fans, of course, think this sounds like a jim dandy of an idea. But Vince is not so keen on it. He says Austin better not show up, otherwise Vince will kick his ass. Oooohhhhhh-kay.

Fourth: Vince says that the real reason he's out here is because it's time to close the book on Jim Ross, to honor his memory, and move on. As part of that, first Vince directs us to the TitanTron, where he's prepared a touching Video Tribute. I'll be honest: I started watching RAW around 12:30 last night (after baseball -- what an awesome finish -- and after my Daily Show/Colbert Report goodness), and I had no patience for crap. I FF'ed this. Because I know that it was probably just some shitty montage of JR's most humiliating moments. If it was anything other than this, please alert me, and I'll publish a heartfelt retraction tomorrow. [And for fuck's sake, WWE: people already like Jim Ross and think you're retarded for doing this storyline. So what the hell is with the wasting our time on all this crap and video packages and stuff? You're trying to get us to feel the way we already feel, morons. Just stop it and put your energies into something more important.]

And then: it's finally time to introduce JR's replacement as RAW's new Lead Announcer. Without anything resembling ado, Vince shocks absolutely no one when he announces Jonathan Coachman. Coach comes out in a JR Outfit, and would spend the night mimicking JR's signature calls. Which can only mean one thing: Vince Russo has lost the Jesus and is back on the WWE Creative Team.

Vince leaves, and Coach talks on the house mic for a bit. He pretends to pay homage to JR, but then you see, he twists it all around and turns it into mockery. How clever. Then he spends a while putting himself over as the future of the company and the voice of the people. This whole thing got about 10% of the crowd reaction I think WWE was aiming for. Why? Not because Coach can't be a good heel.... but because WE DON'T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANNOUNCER DRAMA (and also: nobody wants to have to listen to a heel take over the position of the credible play-by-play man). Christ, why do I have to be the only one who realizes these things? This whole mess should really never have made it off the drawing board, if only WWE's creative monkeys had a Stupid Patrol kiboshing poorly-conceived ideas.... 

Finally, Coach wraps it up, and starts putting on his headset to take over the broadcast of the show, so we take the opportunity to cut to....

Backstage: Vince McMahon bumps into Kurt Angle, who wants to be named #1 Contender to John Cena's WWE Title, and thinks making Cena tap out last week makes him a cinch. Vince says he's on his way to talk to Bischoff right now about Taboo Tuesday, and he'll put in a word. Then the Hurricane shows up. Angle and Vince register annoyed disbelief at Hurricane's HurriRant about Jim Ross and how Coach is a diabolical dastard for trying to take over JR's spot. Once Hurricane wraps it up, Vince just eyeballs Kurt and says "Sic 'im, Kurt." Kurt complies. And then, for some reason, Vince keeps repeating himself, shouting it even, well after Kurt has begun the siccing. Vince's bad over-acting, how have I missed thee? Let me count the ways.... ummmm: zero. Kurt and Hurricane brawl away, and we follow them as they head towards the ring for....

Kurt Angle vs. Hurricane (Very Special "Not A Match" Match)

Let's see... they brawled to the ring, brawled around ringside for a bit, and then finally got in the ring, where Kurt was just stomping away in relatively bad-ass fashion on Hurricane. Hurricane got one mini-rally, but as soon as he went for the Shining Wizard, Kurt just plucked the HurriAnkle out of thin air. Ten seconds later, Hurricane was tapping out to an anklelock. But this wasn't a match, it was a mugging, so Kurt won't break the hold. Until a phalanx of referees shows up, anyway. Then Kurt breaks the hold.

Your Winner: nobody, because this wasn't a match. But Kurt beat the shit out of Hurricane for about 2 minutes and had him tapping out to the anklelock when all was said and done. Let's see: Kurt's a bad-ass, Vince kept it pretty short and sweet, and Coach was the only part of this opening segment who sucked? Hey, so far, I'm not too annoyed...


Frick, Meet Frack: Coach brings out Jerry Lawler as his Color Analyst. Coach tries to kiss King's ass, but King see through it and acts perturbed at Coach's cockiness, and thus, we have our dynamic.

Allow Me To Do One Announcer Rant, So That I Can Be Done With It And Recap The Rest Of The Show Without Talking About This Crap: immediately, and then throughout the rest of the night, Coach would say something stupid, and Lawler would call him on it. This got annoying VERY fast. Not "good annoying," either, like Ken Kennedy. BAD annoying, DISTRACTING annoying, COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE annoying. When you are cutting away from in-ring action for camera shots of announcers bickering (as WWE did a few times last night), you are torpedoing your own product. And when the two guys who are in charge of doing 95% of all talking that we fans will hear have banter that amounts to "Hi, I will now say something stupid" from Announcer #1, with Announcer #2 replying "Hey, quit saying such stupid things, my old partner was never this dumb," you've got a problem. Because that leaves the home viewer to say, "If he's so bad, why's he out there to begin with?" and then get frustrated with the whole mess well before they endure 2 full hours of it. 

Sadly, Coach was being awful on purpose, which means that in "WWE Think" he can actually take credit for doing a perfect job of announcing. That's because WWE is under the misapprehension that somehow this crap will sell tickets or PPVs, so Coach should be commended for playing the role of the Awful Announcer to perfection. It's frustrating. You can't pin last night's distracting badness on Coach... he was just doing the job he was told to do. You have to, yet again, kick the blame upstairs to the people who are coming up with these shitty ideas to begin with. And now that I've got that out of my system, I promise to not say another word or mention the announcing again, because if I do, then I open the floodgates for listing every single stupid thing Coach said. And that would be pointless, since my whole stance for why this storyline is stupid is that announcing doesn't really matter. Thus: I honestly did my best to ignore it, and will certainly not waste your time with any further accounts of the specific displays of badness, since I'd like for you all to be able to ignore it along with me. So now, Back to the actual show....

Backstage: Vince McMahon has arrivened in Eric Bischoff's office... he wants to make sure that Bischoff heard the opening promo, and that he's already thinking about some kind of kick-ass Taboo Tuesday main event. Bischoff, clearly, hasn't done his homework, but seems ready to fake his way through this speech.... so he starts rambling about how, ummm, at Taboo Tuesday, it'll be a Triple Threat Match... ummm, John Cena versus Kurt Angle, versus..... ummm, somebody the FANS get to pick. "So far, so good," says Vince, "But gimme more." Ummmm, okay, so Bischoff'll give the fans three choices... ummmm, and they'll be the winners of three qualifying matches here tonight on RAW. Vince likey. So, ummm, later tonight we'll have Shawn Michaels vs. Carlito Cool. Ummmm, and Big Show vs. Edge. And ummm..... ummmm.... an 18-Man Battle Royale! And the winners of those three matches will be eligible for Taboo Tuesday voting and a shot at the WWE Title in a Triple Threat Match against John Cena and Kurt Angle. Vince definitely approves of this, and walks away, leaving Bischoff to breathe a sigh of relief that he just pulled that totally out of his ass and got away with it.

Big Show vs. Edge (Qualifying Match)

Well, so then Bischoff DIDN'T pull that whole thing out of his ass if these guys are already ready for their match? What gives? Did the writers of the skit -- who made Bischoff out to be desperately making things up as he went along in an attempt to placate his boss -- not talk to the people who set up the format to the show?

Anyway, we don't really get a whole lot of action here. Ring entrances, and then standard Amusing Giant Spots, as Edge completely failed to perform any of his usual moves on Big Show, because Big Show is, you know?, all BIG and stuff. This ends with Edge trying an Irish Whip, but Show won't budge, and instead yanks Edge backward. Edge tumbles out over the top rope. Lita heads over to revive her man with a faceful of cleavage. Big Show celebrates. And even though it's been less than a minute of match time, we break for....


Back, and Big Show is still dominating. In fact, we are back just in time for an extended series of the always-crowd-pleasing SHHHHHHH! Chops. It was almost a year ago at SD! tapings here in Dayton where I saw Show do that for the first time.... I'm glad they are finally really starting to catch on. It's not fancy, but Big Show's offensive is fun for a few minutes.

Well, not fun for Edge, who eventually just gives up and bails out to ringside. Foolishly, Show decides to chase. And after one circuit of the ring, Edge manages to dodge Show's attack, sending Show crashing (shoulder first) into the steel ring steps. Thus begins Edge's offensive. Mostly shoulder-related. Works a top wristlock for a bit, but Show powers out. Then Lita helped out by doing that hangman-type-thingie where she got up on the apron, grabbed Show's bad arm, and then jumped off to the floor. Edge followed that up with a Tornado DDT that admittedly seemed pretty cool. Then another resthold/armbar. Show powered out of that, too. Both men down, the ref put the count on them (and audibly, after four, said "One more, guys," and magically, on five, both men started getting to their feet; HA!).

So both men are up, and this is End Game. Both men go for their finishers, but they keep countering. Finally Edge manages to hit the spear on Big Show (Coach: "GORE! GORE! GORE!", so he's ripping off Heyman as well as JR; in fact, Coach frequently used Heyman's old "One Second Away" call, too). Edge has had a lot taken out of him, though, and is slow to cover. Big Show kicks out.

Edge is frustrated, so he goes and grabs a chair, and brings it into the ring, right in front of the ref. The ref, of course, must stop this. Edge lets him. Because while the ref is over divesting himself of the chair, Lita sends the Money In The Bank briefcase into Edge. But just as Edge is about to clock Big Show with it, he is interrupted.... by JBL's music? Yep. I have no earthly idea why, but JBL's music and entrance video start up. But JBL is nowhere to be seen. Edge is distracted by this, and when the music stops, he turns around and walks directly into a 7 Foot Chokeslam. That's all she wrote.

Your Winner: Big Show, via pinfall, in about 8-10 minutes. For all intents and purposes, though, you can throw out the opening minute and the subsequent 3 minutes of commercials... and what we got after the ad break was an entertaining enough 4-5 minute mini-match. Show's charisma carries things during his methodical offense, Edge's offensive had some nice spots (like the tornado DDT), and the end game sequence was effective enough. Even if JBL's music starting up was more a "What the fuck?" moment than an actually interesting/compelling development. I'm all for some RAW/SD! crossoveriness, but I'd like for it to make some semblance of sense, instead of seeming like something just shoehorned in without logical explanation because suddenly it seems like it might be an interesting idea. I vote for leaving that ham-handery to poorly-mapped-out JJ-Abrams-helmed action-adventure shows.

A Moment of Self-Congratulatory Reflection: WWE put WrestleMania 22 tickets on sale over the weekend, and they sold out. Well, good for you, WWE. But why should I care, again? Oh, that's right, I shouldn't.... OMG FF~!


Backstage: Edge is with Eric Bischoff, and is furious about what just happened, because JBL cost him a shot at the WWE Title. Edge asks, "What are we gonna do about this SmackDown! nonsense?"... Bischoff replies, "Well, you're the one who started it last week by calling out JBL, so even though I hate SD! as much as you, maybe the question should be what are YOU gonna do about it?". Edge thinks, chuckles in evil fashion, and says we can tune in on Friday night to see what he's gonna do about it.

Digression: um, Writer Monkeys, are you the dum dums who lack the intelligence to even get hired to pull nonsensical crap out of your for poorly-planned JJ-Abrams-helmed action-adventure shows? Because there were two things wrong in that segment. One: of anybody to get pissed off about losing a title shot, Edge is the least compelling one to pick. Because he's the one of these guys who has ALREADY GOT A TITLE SHOT. And second: Edge called JBL out last week? Funny, I only remember him making the illogical demand that the McMahon's "freeze all title shots," getting reamed by Carlito for not being anti-SD! enough, and then declining John Cena's offer of cocksuckery. I know, I watched the show. But now, you're trying to retroactively give us a reason for JBL to be pissed at Edge by rewriting history? Me no likey. What's next? You'll decide to put some prehistoric polar bear backstage because it seems like a neat idea and leave it to the writers two months later to try to invent some hare-brained reason for its existence and cover your lazy, uncreative ass? I don't ask for much, but I'm afraid that logic and continuity and not just introducing plot points out of thin air (especially when they conflict with the Rules of Logic governing our fictional universe) are three of them. It's RAW vs. SD! you're trying to set up, here, not Simon Dean vs. Bobby Lashely.... so won't you PLEASE fricking take some care with it? Just a little forethought, effort, and planning, and you'll have much tighter storylines...

Carlito's Cabana: The Microcosmtastic Edition

Coming off that backstage drama, Carlito's already in the ring, and ready to regale us with tales of his own greatness. Because, you see, later on tonight, he'll be defeating Shawn Michaels and be well on his way to a WWE Title match at Taboo Tuesday. Thas? Cool.

Also: Carlito would like to chime in on the issue of Jim Ross. Predictably, he's a big fan of JR being gone. Oy. Carlito has nothing to do with Jim Ross, but because Announcer Drama is WWE's #1 Priority these days, Carlito must chime in on the issue, lest we forget about it for upwards of 10 minutes at a stretch... also, Carlito wants to show us something thas not cool: a picture of Jim Ross' ugly mug. Zing?

Finally, SOMEbody has had enough of this, and decides to interrupt. That somebody is Mick Foley, who walks down to the ring uninvited. Well, except for the part where he was the scheduled guest, and had apparently accepted that invitation. But whatever: he wasn't invited NOW, and yet, here he is.

Mick wastes no time declaring "Wow, this is cool." Carlito wastes no time misinterpreting that, as Mick re-wastes-no-time informing Carlito that what he meant is that it's cool to finally meet somebody with even worse looking hair than his own. Carlito, of course, must sell that with the proper levels of indignation despite the fact that, really, his hair is pretty awesome.

But Foley's not here to talk hair care, he's here to talk about the travesty of Jim Ross being fired last week. Because "cool" or not, Jim Ross is the greatest wrestling announcer ever, and he should never have been let go. But before the tribute can go much further, it's Mick's turn to be interrupted.... by Linda McMahon?

Yep, live via satellite (but really on tape, in one of those lame pretending-to-be-live transitions that annoy me whether they are on wrestling or on FOX baseball pre-game shows because they are so obviously bogus), it's Linda McMahon to interrupt Mick in conversational fashion before launching into a monologue.

The key points: she's a business woman, and thus, has to make tough decisions all the time. JR was a good announcer, but it was time to move on, and so firing him was one of those tough decisions. And further: she hears that JR is going around telling people that Linda's kick to "the groin" (ahem, since when is the knee part of the groin?) exacerbated his medical condition... but warns JR that he knows this is a lie and that he better shut up because the McMahons will spare no expense defending themselves from his spurious accusations. Ugh, so that's what's next? JR takes on all of WWE? JR takes WWE to court? JR leads an ROH Invasion of WWE to get revenge on the company that had a negative impact on his colon health? I'm not sure I've got the patience for much more of this, but WWE certainly planted the seed for this to be a drawn out ordeal... after threatening JR to mind his own business and leave WWE alone, Linda closed with "Have a nice day, Mick." What a bitch?

In another awkward transition out of this supposedly-live address (because if it was live, wouldn't the natural instinct be to respond directly to Linda? Of course, but you can't carry on a conversation with videotape), Mick had to stand around sullenly, until Carlito came over and consoled him with, "Aw, Mick, I'm sorry. But face facts, JR is now just an old, out-of-shaped, unemployed loser.... just like you!". Carlito then says the only reason he brought Mick to the Cabana is because Mick is the "least coolest" person Carlito's ever seen, and Carlito just wanted to witness that uncoolness firsthand.

Mick finally pipes up, admitting that there is a laundry list of uncool things about him (including "all the uncool places I've had to visit.... except, of course, for RIGHT HERE in SACRAMENTO CALIFORNIA"; very clever, Mick, even I didn't see that one coming). But despite all those uncool things, when Mick meets the fans, they always walk away saying, "Wow, that Mick Foley's a pretty COOL guy." 

And then it gets better, as Mick Foley (Profeshnal Riter) assures us that a Literary Twist is coming, something not unlike Perfect Irony. Because then Carlito goes out, and with all his cool stuff (his Cabana, his accent, his shirt), he meets the fans, and the fans walk away saying, "Wow, that Carlito is a horse's ass."

At this point, Carlito picks up an apple. Mick essentially dares him to go ahead and make his day, because he's had worse things spat on him before. Carlito is cowed, as he apparently remembers that Mick paid Young Randall Orton back for the loogey shot by turning Orton's nutsac into a pincushion (in what remains my Favorite Hooters Memory Ever! Oh, those poor, stupid chicks stopping to squeal in terror at what happened to their glossed up hunk of duh, instead of fetching me my beer and quesadilla like they should have been).

With Carlito backing off, Profeshnal Riter Mick Foley rears his head one last time. "Instead of being worried about produce, Carlito, you should be worried about whether or not you can produce right here in this ring tonight when you face Shawn Michaels." OK, Mick, we get it: you're smart. But I think even Master of the Stilted, Kevin Smith, might have been ashamed to use that clunker. Mick closes by saying that he thinks Shawn Michaels will beat Carlito like JR's proverbial government mule. And thas? Thas gonna be cool. 

Play Mick's music. Cut to reaction shots of Carlito looking upset that he's just been dissed by the Hardcore Legend. And allow me to call this segment a microcosm of the entire show.... because, much to my surprise, they didn't do anything sucky here despite my expectations (I had visions of them wasting Mick's appearance with some Rob Conway horseshit). And the absence of suck is good. But then you also quickly realize that nothing all that interesting happened either. This segment, despite featuring a rare appearance by one of my favorite wrestlers, just sort of sat there, went through the motions, and accomplished nothing memorable. Which is sort of how the show as a whole struck me....


Shawn Michaels vs. Carlito Cool (Qualifying Match)

Apparently, Carlito just stayed in the ring after the Cabana. But once Shawn's entrance started, he didn't stay there long. No doubt infuriating the Lord Jesus H. Christ, Carlito sprinted up the aisle and attacked Michaels while Shawn was on his knees in prayer. See you in hell, Carlito. 

The jumpstart attack works, as Carlito sends Michaels into the ringside barricade, and then takes the match back to the ring to commence what wound up being a pretty long beatdown. And sadly: it was remarkably directionless, leaving the crowd with little to latch on to.

Everything was well executed, but there was no flow between Carlito's moves, no psychology tying them together. He'd pound away in a corner, then hit a clothesline, then work a chinlock, then drop a leg. He went for a ton of pinfalls, too, none of which seemed remotely convincing given that his offense wasn't exactly sizzling. This went on for a good 5-6 minutes.... a pretty flaccid, disjointed (but like I said: well-executed) assault by Carlito.

HBK's hope spots were peppered in, and of them, one where he started laying in with chops came the closest to roping in the crowd... but then finally, one of HBK's hope spots became a full-fledged rally. After rolling through a top rope cross body attempt by Carlito to get a near fall, Michaels went on a tear. But then, oddly, Michaels cut his own momentum short by going for a..... sleeperhold? Yup. Don't ask me. Crowd is lost again, since what are they supposed to do? Make some noise and lend their energy to that lovable rapscallion, Carlito?

So things are still really bland and limp as Carlito fades out, but then finally escapes by using a backdrop suplex at the last second. Both men down, and both get up at about the same time. When they engage, Carlito gets the better of the exchange, and retakes command with a cool little dropkick to the gut while Shawn was propped up in the corner.

But again: they decide to kill the energy of the match one more time. Because Carlito has apparently had a little too much of Chris F. Masters rub off on him during their tag team endeavors, and he actually locks in a move that ranks the highest (even worse than the full nelson) in the Holy Triumvirate Of Sucky Holds. That's right: the Abominable Stretch. So they kill more time with that, and finally Shawn fires up, and hip tosses Carlito to escape. A bit more back and forthy, and finally, they appear to be setting up for something big. 

Shawn wants to hit a vertical suplex, but Carlito keeps blocking him. But in so doing, the two keep moving backwards (well, backwards for Shawn) towards the ropes. Finally, Shawn gets Carlito up, and it looks like Carlito's going to take a hard ride down to the floor....  but Carlito shifts his weight and at the last second takes Shawn out over the top rope with him. Nice trainwreck bump by both guys. And with them both down at the 8 minute mark, we might as well break for....


Back, and Carlito's working a chinlock. For about 10 seconds. Then Shawn powers out. But then Carlito puts him down again, and essentially, we replay the first 3-4 minutes of the match again. Weird. So it's just Carlito hitting a move, then another, not really with any rhyme nor reason, and going for a ton of near falls despite the fact that no match in history has ever ended following a series of punches in the corner. It's just not flowing... Carlito's in command, and all the moves look good and stuff, but there's just no sense that he's actually threatening to win the match. Because he hasn't isolated a body part or done serious damage to Shawn to justify any of his pinfall attempts, there's absolutely no sense of urgency here.

Proof positive, kids, that even if most fans would pooh-pooh the importance of "psychology" and "storytelling" in a wrestling match, it's vitally important. Just listen to those fans not really giving a shit. I know I'll piss off TNA fans by saying this, but in a lot of ways, this match is the exact same thing as this weekend's lengthy Chris Daniels vs. Sonjay Dutt segment: a series of loosely connected moves that fails to really connect with the audience at large. Sure, your match had the more exciting moves, but when you get right down to it: that doesn't matter as much as you might think, as long as whatever moves you're doing look convincing (which they did in both matches). It's all about putting moves in context so that fans feel like you're building to a finish. Despite controlling 90% of this match, Carlito never really did that, and thus, never convinced the fans to get invested in the match.

Michaels finally got back into the match by ducking a charge, and sending Carlito crashing into the steel ring post. From there, it was a touch of trading punches, but almost immediately, Shawn flipped the switch that unleashes his Five Moves of Doom. Starting with the Flying Burrito (Coach: "FLYING BURRITO! FLYING BURRITO!"; awww, that's cute, Coach; instead of flame warring with me like you do with other Internet Personalities, you're going to join JR in tipping your cap to my timely thievery of Bobby Heenan's signature call). Nip up. Macho Man Elbow. Tune Up the Band. But as tends to be the case, Shawn was cut off just before Move #5... Carlito blocked the superkick.

Carlito actually caught Shawn's leg and smoothly transitioned into a neat little reverse Victory Roll sort of deal where he got his first (and only) plausible near fall of the match by rolling Shawn up and grabbing the ropes for illegal leverage... but Michaels still kicked out. Both men got up and started trading blows again, and in the scrum, wouldn't you know it?, the ref got knocked out of the ring.

Carlito decided to take this opportunity to go grab a steel chair. Cuz it worked so well for Edge earlier, I'm sure. Michaels dodged and ducked a few blows at first, but then Carlito finally seemed to have him lined up... except with a last ditch effort, Shawn pulled the Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere, and basically superkicked the chair back into Carlito's face. Uh oh: WWE's clearly holding RVD down.... cuz they just gave the Van Daminator to HBK! Commence to panty bunching, losers! Of course, this is when the ref got back into the ring, saw no evidence of a steel chair, and counted to three.

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via pinfall, in about 16-18 minutes. And it was "good" in the sense that they did a lot of moves and stuff, and they all looked very crisp (well, except for some odd pre-commercial choices with the sleeper and abominable stretch, which are just momentum-killing holds)... but it was also bland and forgettable in the sense that until the final 2-3 minutes, nothing remotely compelling happened. I can't even put that one on the announcers (who were bad as ever throughout), because even the Alternate Commentary Track in my head couldn't find a hook or story that needed to be told. Call this match Lemony Snicket's Series of Unrelated Maneuvers. Until the final few minutes, just no flow or groove at all. I wonder if maybe Carlito just needs more experience controlling matches like this? Cuz honestly, I can't remember the last time he got to carry 12-plus minutes of offense in a single match, and he just might not be used to the way to sequence things most effectively over longer stretches like that.

After the Match: Michaels is celebrating on his way back up the aisle, when suddenly his music cuts out and "Also Spracht 2001" fires up. Ric Flair, his head bandaged, comes on out, shakes Michaels' hand, and heads towards the ring.... what for? The only way to find out is to stay tuned through these....


The Following Promo is Rated PG-13 For Graphic Blood Letting

Don't know about your cable system, but on mine, we came back with Ric Flair already in mid-promo... but tis OK. The Rick is a smart guy, and can pretty well fill-in the blanks here. Seems Flair is telling us about how Triple H took it upon himself to decide when to forcibly retire The Nature Boy, and how Flair's not so sure that was a good idea.

Because you see, what HHH has done is light a fire under Flair's ass, and inspired him to want to perform and achieve at a level that he's not performed at in 15 years. He wants to be the Old Nature Boy one last time, and learn HHH a lesson.

[Observation: OK, this promo got good and intense as it went on, but right here? Big misstep, at least to me, and I think it might actually be because HHH and Steph's Writer Monkeys are so focused on telling one story without realizing that the GOOD story is just 2 degrees off center from his. They've already rewritten history so that HHH alone is responsible for Flair's career renaissance, to the point where we essentially accept it as fact, regardless of the simple truth that no matter what opportunities HHH and WWE offered Flair back in 2001, Flair's still the one who had to deliver the goods when he was once again promoted properly... now, we're clearly doing a storyline in which HHH wants to take credit for motivating Ric Flair to main event greatness one last time (who knows? maybe they'd even put the title on Flair one more time), and then have them be on-screen friends again in the end. And there's NOTHING wrong with that. But you don't put establishing the END of the story ahead of making the beginning and middle as compelling as possible. We need less of HHH and Flair going back and forth about each other's greatness, and more of them pointing out each other's foibles and airing their grievances. To me, there's no excuse for HHH to accuse Flair of "mediocrity" last week, and to NOT have Flair fire back that there's nothing "mediocre" about being the InterContinental Champ. But instead, Flair feeds HHH's counter-productive line of thought by admitting that only NOW is he motivated to perform again, and it's all thanks to his buddy, HHH. 

Huh. How hard would it be to just insert a few lines about "Triple H, you say that it's time for the Nature Boy to head out to pasture. Well, guess again. Because you don't send the InterContinental Champion out to pasture. I don't think you look at the Nature Boy and see a broken down old man... I think you look at the Nature Boy and see a man who is still the dirtiest player in the game, and who kept on riding limousines, flying jets, stealing kisses and wheeling and dealing and *winning championship gold* even when you weren't around to let me sponge off your so-called greatness." Instead of that, instead of putting over some genuine PRIDE in his own accomplishments, instead of pointing out the pure self-important and demonstrably-false blustering HHH did the week before, Flair just comes out and says HHH was right, and that doesn't do it for me. When you can look at two guys and see them propping each other up, putting each other over, and believing each other's bullshit, it's hard to really believe in the genuine hatred and hostility. Which is what we should have here and now. Instead, it's already possible to see through to the Happy Ending, where Flair wins a World Title and promptly goes on to thank Triple H for it in his first promo. Which will make us all die a little bit on the inside. But because they have their own agenda, and there's probably nobody "outside the loop" contributing thoughts/criticisms to such a high level storyline, they won't realize that they are missing the mark ever-so-slightly by not trying a tack more like the one I suggest.]

But anyway, back to the promo, where -- as I promised -- things do pick up in intensity, even if I wish the place-setting had been handled with a better grasp on the big picture. Flair starts talking about his resume, about how for 20 years, he was at the very top of this industry, and how even more importantly than the titles he won and the show he headlined, he knows that every night during those 20 years, no fan left an arena without saying, "My god did that Ric Flair put on a helluva show tonight." He was, in every facet. The Man.

And now, Flair says, the people consider Triple H to be The Man. Because he's 6'4", 260 lbs., and he's 20 years younger than Flair. Ummm, all that stuff I just said in italics above? Right here's a good case of the kind of crap that should NOT be said at this point in the feud. For one: check with 100 fans, Ric, and I'm betting less than 20 of them would say that Triple H is the current best wrestler in the world. We do NOT, Ric, think of him as "The Man." Some of us (like myself) enjoy when he plays to his strong suits more than certain Internet Jackoff HHHaters, but I don't think many of us would ever call him The Man. And second: just stop the back-handed compliments towards HHH. We already know he's taller, less-flabby, and younger than you, Ric.... but at this point in your hostilities, you should be the last one going on TV and pointing out how devastatingly masculine and macho HHH is. You should be pointing out how he's full of bullshit, instead. Luckily, after this very brief misstep, Flair gets the fans (who actually -- god bless them -- responded in silent confusion when Flair suggested we though HHH was The Man) back on his side by suddenly deciding to lay an elbow drop on his sport coat for no discernable reason. 

And then: Flair tells OTHER stories of his past. Like the one where he survived a plane crash, broke his back, was told he'd never wrestle again, and was wearing championship gold less than six months later. Or the one where he got out of a plane, was handed an umbrella because it was storming out side, and had lightning strike his umbrella, bounce off, and kill some guy standing nearby. Uhhhhhhhh, Beavis? What's up with that one?

But the point of all this? That with everything Flair's been through in his life, he's not scared of anything, and certainly not scared of HHH... at this point, he rips off his head bandage, revealing a still festering wound (Flair claims he just got the stitches out earlier in the day). He says that's HHH's best shot, and it don't compare to plane crashes and lightning bolts.... sure it hurts, sure he still has to look at it every morning for two weeks. But it doesn't scare him. Throughout all this rant, Flair is actually punching his own wound to illustrate just how little a head wound bothers him, causing it to open up and absolutely gush. I'm talking to the point of being semi-gross. For the second time in three weeks, the use of the term "Crimson Mask" would be utterly appropriate. Flair's face is a mess, and his shirt is getting covered, too.

Finally Flair gets to the punchline: he's taken HHH's best shot. His best SLEDGEHAMMER shot. Two of them, actually. And he's still here, and he's not intimidated. So since Flair was nice enough to take HHH's best shot, why doesn't HHH come on out and see if he can take Flair's best shot?

Sho 'nuff, HHH comes on out, looking smiley and cocky as he sets up shop at the top of the aisle. But before Trips can say word one into his handy-dandy microphone, Flair those down HIS mic, leaves the ring, and grabs a baseball bat from under the ring. He heads up towards Hunter.... and Hunter? Throws his mic down to, and scurries his little chickenshit self to the back. [Note to self: encourage all fans to bring baseball bats to RAW tapings, as they have the magical power of rendering HHH mute and unable to bore us with 15 minute promos that should have been three minutes long.]

Flair chases HHH to the back, but can't find him. Looks like Trips isn't just the Cerebral Assassin in the wrestling ring.... he also totally kicks ass at Hide And Seek. Flair's screaming as the segment ends is all about "Why would you run from me, Hunter?", indicating that Flair now knows he's still got it in him to intimidate the hell out of his protege.

Good segment, I guess... I have issues with some of the set-up, but by the end, Flair brought enough intensity so that what this will be remembered for (if it's remembered at all, which I'm not necessarily sure of) will be the blood-letting, instead of the dubious story logic. Kind of reminds me of how Eddie Guerrero once lost about 20% of his body's blood supply in a match against JBL just cuz he knew that SOMEthing had to be done so that fans wouldn't forget about said match 2 days later. And yet, we kinda still have forgotten, haven't we? I know *I* don't remember which PPV that was or the outcome of the match.... and it was only last summer. Also: so I guess it's Flair vs. HHH at Taboo Tuesday in a "Weapon of Choice" match? I bet we vote for Sweet Lady Sledge over Baseball Bat....


Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand attempts to interview Carlito about his loss to Shawn Michaels, but Carlito realizes that in cases such as this, it's better to interview oneself... so he takes the mic and goes on a rant about how Shawn cheated and used a chair and stuff, and also how he blames one man for his loss: Mick Foley. Huh? Maybe you SHOULD have let Maria handle the questioning, Carlito, cuz dim as she is, I think even she would have found this reasoning specious... but specious or not, it's got Carlito's vagina well-sanded, so the only thing to do about it: issue a challenge. Carlito wants a match against Foley at Taboo Tuesday. Hmmm... interesting.

Trish Stratus, Diva Search Ashley, and Mickie James vs. Victoria, Torrie Wilson, and Boobies McTitsalot

Dammit. So much for telling this story right and portioning it out in small doses, slowly, over time.... like I suggested yesterday. We're already jumping ahead to the part where they're forming up teams, instead of doing the more natural thing of letting Mickie establish some character and give us a reason for why she's suddenly teaming with Trish. I hate being so sharp, sometimes; all it leads to is me having awesome ideas, and then being disappointed when WWE's ideas are woefully lacking by comparison. I know it only adds to the (accurate) perception that I think I'm smarter than everybody else, but seriously.... tell me my suggestion yesterday isn't better than what WWE delivered here. I dare you. How can it be that I, using half my ass on a Sunday night, can still write up better ideas than the people who are working long hours and getting paid to present the best, most entertaining TV show possible?

Anyway, the match:

Trish starts against Victoria. They do a few nice spots, with Trish controlling the whole time. This builds up to a cool spot which is probably something that has a name among Cruiserweight/Lucha aficionados, but which I'll dub a "handstand airplane spin head scissors takedown." After that, Victoria was in trouble, and Trish decided to trust Young Mickie James with things.

Mickie tagged in, and had a brief flurry of offense before she (rookie mistake!) got distracted with attacking Torrie and Boobies for no reason. That allowed Victoria to take over for about 30 seconds of basic offense (and 30 seconds of ensuring as many shots of Mickie's rump as were deemed appropriate by USA Network Censors). Then Mickie hit one big move (a Stratus-esque head scissors take down out of the corner), and started looking to her corner for congratulations. 

But in her corner, Trishley were gesturing (appropriately enough, Broadly) that Mickie should quit showboating and pay attention to her match, because Victoria was recovering. And sure enough, while Mickie was looking for adulation from her teammates, Victoria rolled her up for a quick pinfall.

Your Winners: Victoria, Torrie, and Boobies, via Victoria's pinfall on Mickie, in about 3 minutes. Other than the fact that this is the match/story that I would have done a month from now, once you give fans a reason to latch onto the various dynamics at play, no real complaints. Three of these six women currently have business wrestling matches, and they are the only three who legally entered the match. And they all did their jobs quite well.

After the Match: Mickie is upset at losing, and possibly (not that you can tell, since WWE has ass-hattedly not slowed down and told this story over time with actual skits/promos and whatnot) upset at letting her idol, Trish, down. So she has one of her Sudden Mood Changes, and spazzes out the heels, and then does the Stratusfaction Bulldog on Victoria (but kind of badly; I was scared Victoria's neck might have been broken, but I guess she was OK). Mickie again turns to Trish, expecting to be lauded, but Trish is looking mostly confused. Mickie and Trishley sort of mill around aimlessly as they fire up Trish's music. Why? Because she stood around on the apron as her team lost the match, and didn't even really work up a decent sweat.

Backstage: cameras have picked up a suspicious black pick-up truck in the parking lot.... and not surprisingly, it's heading into the building... and then into the arena, proper.... where luckily, there is no stage/ramp set up tonight! The pick-up pulls up the ring (politely avoiding turning Trish and Co. into roadkill), and out pops Steve Austin. Much like Ric Flair before him, Austin is here to keep you from changing channels. Because what passes for "clever" in WWE these days is apparently shaking up the formats of the show to include bunch of pre-commercial teasers. Note: this is not clever. Nor is it thinking outside of the box. It is, at best, "a change of pace." But a change that completely fails to address any core issues of why people might be tuning away from your product...


Stone Cold Steve Austin's Improvisational Theatre

Austin has apparently spent the past three minutes (while you were watching ads for the inconceivable existence for "Saw II," which moves to the top of the list of "unnecessary, and more than likely shitty, sequels"; and while I was zipping through the ads in more like 15 seconds flat) drinking beers and posing. But somehow, he magically knows to begin speaking once we're back. Funny how things work, isn't it?

Austin explains that he's been in the WWF (and later, in WWE) for 10 damn years. Except he fails to note that the place was called "the WWF" when he came in, and also joins the list of people who have the annoying habit of calling it "the" WWE. Goddammit, it used to be THE Federation. But there's no such entity as THE Entertainment. So stop it. Just stop it. Just like it wasn't "the WCW" or "the ECW" (unless you were talking to retards), WWE has now given up all its "the" rights, OK?

Back on track: Austin's point is that through all the good times and bad times in those 10 years, there was only one man in the company he considered a friend, and that was Jim Ross. So he's a little pissed off about what happened last week, and would kindly like to speak to Vince McMahon about rectifying the situation.  Won't Vince please come on down? No? Well, Austin's got 48 beers, a healthy liver, and nothing but time, so he's more than happy to set up shop and wait this one out...

But that won't be necessary. Austin doesn't get Vince, but he does get a McMahon. Stephanie is here.

And immediately, I think we all saw an object lesson in the difference between The WWF Circa 2000 (the peak of Attitude) and WWE Circa Right Now (the nadir of whatever the hell this is). Because Austin was on top during all those good times, when creative was handled one way, when you had a few cooks and a relatively clear vision of what was to be accomplished, and when the talents were given notes, but were trusted to go out and speak in their own voices and get those points across how they wanted to. But Steph? Is not just a product of but is the RINGLEADER of this new era, where entire teams of unnecessary Writer Monkeys obsess over precise lines and heavily script every element of the show.

This was apparently throughout the promo, as Steph kept wanting to hit her Scripted Lines that she probably had run through in her mind a billion times, while Austin wanted to go a more natural route and say what was on his mind and what he thought might connect with the audience. I didn't have a notepad handy, but if the number of times these two trampled each other's toes (verbally) because Austin wanted to go one way and Steph was trying to go another was less than a half-dozen, I will eat a bug. It goes without saying, I wish we could get back to Austin's more improvisational approach. Even when it periodically turns out stinkers like 2 weeks ago's over-long and more-entertaining-to-the-participants-than-it-was-to-the-fans McMahon Family Stunner-a-thon, I'll take those every now and again if it means losing the current vibe of Hollywood Writerosity.

Anyway, that's one point I wanted to make, and I'll get back to the Austin/Steph exchange....

Steph starts talking, and seems to have a few scripted lines ready about Austin being upset that he's getting her instead of Vince... Austin immediately no sells that, and goes off on a tangent about how he's suddenly curious about something. Vince always talks about his giant grapefruits, and last week Steph bragged about having bigger balls than anybody in the arena. One of the toe-trampling moments happened here where Steph wanted to steer back towards center, but Austin was intent on pursuing his line of questioning.... and eventually, he hits the punchline, "So I guess what I want to know is: Am I about to Stunner my first transvestite?". HA! Even Steph smiled at that (a real smile, too, not her Bitchy TV Smirk)... and it's timely, as if ripped from the pages of last week's OO RAW Recap, too. Maybe in addition to taking a shine to a certain someone's recent tendency to refer to the "Flying Burrito," JR's also feeding his drinking buddy information about how badly that same certain someone stumped for a "She's a Tranny *clap* *clap* *clapclapclap*" chant towards Steph last week?

More toe-trampling, but eventually Austin lets Steph get back on script, which is talking about how "It's your fault JR got fired. So start behaving, otherwise it'll also be your fault that he STAYS fired." Austin, at this point, again seems to go into Improvisational Mode, as he spins the yarn about how HE (Austin) Stunnered the McMahon Family, and somehow Jim Ross got fired for it, and how that doesn't make sense to him. Steph just blithely repeats her basic thesis that yes, that's exactly correct: Austin did the crime, Jim Ross did the time. Austin again, in another toe-trampling moment, actually said something like, "Listen to yourself, you're not making a lick of sense. *I* Stunnered your family. That has nothing to do with Jim Ross."

YES! Austin apparently has about the same tastes for logic and continuity that I do! And he called Steph out on how she's violating those simple rules, straight to her face (which I will never get the chance to do)! And best of all: since this seems to be off the written page, Steph actually seems flustered and unable to respond in kind, which adds layer upon layer of irony (delicious, delicious irony) to the whole situation. She and her writer monkeys came up with this entire scenario, and now Steve Austin is (indirectly) pointing out the dramatic shortcomings of their creative vision, and Steph herself is the one in the ring with Austin at the time, and she can't muster up a defense of her own baby. HA!

Austin continues: he came here tonight to take his frustrations out on Vince, but since he's not here and since Steph is, he's having another brainstorm. He's thinking maybe what he wants to do is bend Stephanie over his knee (cheers), lift up her skirt (more cheers), and give her a spanking (more cheers). I still have yet to experience the real life situation where spanking a woman in public is considered the same kind of sweet, sweet vindication that it is in wrestling, but in this case, I'll let it slide, because Austin then seemed to go Off-Page again with an aside comment.... 

"Don't worry, I'll be careful so yer balls don't fall out." 

Being totally serious: that got the biggest pop of the night. And try as Steph did to keep her pursed lip look of indignant anger up, she again broke down and had no choice but to start smiling and chuckling. See: improv good. But probably only provided that you get the Talent Relations Office cleaned out and re-staffed so that guys getting developmental contracts and getting called up are CAPABLE of this sort of "just-being-yourself-and-still-being-entertaining" type of improv, instead of capable of flexing his pharmaceutically-enhanced physique in time to music during a shitty ring entrance. Just a thought.

Anyway, Austin gets back on script and Steph gets her angry face back on as the two get nose to nose and Austin actually begins to threaten our billion dollar princess. But every princess has a knight in shining armor, and in Steph's case, it's Coach, who orders Austin to back down, and get over the fact that JR's gone and not coming back.

Austin can't believe his ears, can't believe that Coach might actually possess some semblance of testicular fortitude... but he once he's sure he heard Coach right, he says he was coming here to whup Vince's ass, but he'll be perfectly happy to settle for Coach's. He's heading out of the ring to take care of bidness when Steph cuts him off and announces that she has an idea.

Austin's not entirely sure why he should care, but Steph says (not in so many words), "If you hadn't been such a dick earlier and had let me talk and weren't so busy pointing out the logic holes in my creative team's scripting, you would have heard me talking about how it's your fault we fired JR, but how, if you behave and do what we say, JR doesn't have to STAY fired." Finally, Austin decides to play nice, and let Steph speak at this point....

So she continues: she has an idea for a match. At Taboo Tuesday, it'll be Steve Austin vs. Jonathan Coachman. And if Austin wins, Jim Ross can have his job back. But if Austin loses, HE is fired, too. Austin makes her repeat things again, just because he learned long ago to not trust a McMahon. Once he's satisfied that this deal is Ironclad, Austin accepts, since frankly, why would he sweat the Coach?

Steph leaves as Austin celebrates and drinks beers. Then Austin spies Coach at the commentary desk and decides to go up and visit. He mocks Coach and basically offers him a free shot so that they can start their fun tonight, instead of waiting two weeks. Coach doesn't even think about it. He just begs off. Austin, then, takes Coach's JR Cowboy Hat, pours a beer into it, and stuffs it back onto Coach's head for our punchline. How Cena-esque of Stone Cold! [Ouch, I've just injured my Irony....]

Fun segment, that's for sure. But Austin vs. Coach? On a PPV? Give me a fucking break.... that's something you do as a fluffy little throwaway on a Monday night. Not something that you hope will actually get fans to show up for a Tuesday night PPV. 

SD! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.


Prelude to War

The ring is already pretty full of wrestlers. It was at this point that I realized Kane, despite being hyped for a week, had yet to show up, and we only had one match left. It was thus ALSO at this point that I guessed there were currently EXACTLY 17 wrestlers in the ring, and one giant Anvil waiting just behind the curtain. Ugh.

But before we get to see him, General Manager Eric Bischoff has a few words. Because, see, he's added even MORE matches to the Taboo Tuesday card, and he'd like to share them. Such as Triple H vs. Ric Flair (no voting stip announced), Mick Foley vs. Carlito (no voting stip announced), and a Diva Battle Royale (voting stip is announced, and it's the same as last year's; but why would anyone ever vote against schoolgirl outfits?). But speaking of Battle Royales (and I love that Bischoff has adopted the long-standing OO Tradition of putting the superfluous "e" at the end to render it a "roy-al" instead of a "roy-ul"), it's time to....

Get interrupted by Homey the Clown. John Cena comes out, goes up to Bischoff to taunt him for a second, and then goes to join the commentary crew. Which I'd say could get ugly, but frankly, how much worse can Cena make things on that front. I often say "you can't polish a turd," but the other side of that is that once a turd has been pooped out, you can't make it any smellier.  WWE pooped out a big one in terms of the commentary all night long, and Cena won't be making it any worse. It should be noted: Cena seemed a bit understated and out of his element, which means at least he didn't offend with outright suckiness, but he also said not even one funny or compelling thing, so he didn't make things any better, either.

Once Cena is in place, Bischoff continues, and says it's time for our Battle Royale, and introduces our final entrant....


Kane heads towards the ring as we begin our....

18 Man Battle Royale (Qualifying Match)

For reasons unknown, Carlito started chomping an apple as Kane hit the ring. He tried to spit it in Kane's face, but that didn't work out so well. Kane chokeslammed Carlito and then tossed him out of the ring. And then 16 of the other guys all decided to team up on Viscera to throw him out on the other side of the ring. And then, since that's just more excitement than any viewer can stand at a given time, we immediately cut to....


Back, and I guess some guys have been eliminationed. Coach tries to run the list, but considering this is a Battle Royale with exactly one possible winner, it's not a star-studded list. The only one I notice is "Tajiri," which is weird, since I didn't even see Tajiri in the ring at the start. Must have been hiding behind some of the other 17 Heat-caliber jabronies...

And so it is thus that you're insane if you think I'm going to play-by-play a Battle Royale where WWE doesn't even bother trying to give us more than one viable winner. Everything you need to know is summed up this way:

The Heartthrobs were in the Final Four. That's right: the tag team that has not been seen on Monday Night since roughly July is in the final four. What else can I say to illustrate the star power in the ring?

So for about six minutes, nothing interesting is happening as we whittle down to that final four. I think the only time I felt a pang of regret is when Shelton Benjamin was ignominiously eliminated.... because, if things had been handled in an even half-way competent fashion, he could have been in this Battle Royale as a potential winner, instead of as just another also-ran.

Final Four: Kane quickly takes care of the Heartthrobs, leaving him along with Chris F. Masters. Chris F. Masters tries to use the full nelson, Kane easily breaks out of that, and Chris F. Masters is eliminated before he can do any damage.

Your Winner: Kane, via eliminating 17 total chumps, in about 8-10 minutes. Battle Royales are tricky business to begin with; you need a few compelling contenders, and you usually need an extended tease sequence at the end where two of those compelling contenders go back and forth (see: Kurt Angle and Rey Mysterio about 9 months ago in a SD! Battle Royale that kicked ass) for a while. But this? Sucked balls. There was only one outcome, and every fan in the audience knew it. It was, for the first time since the days of Andre the Giant, a Squash Match Battle Royale... which makes it a rather uncompelling choice for a main event. As an added bonus, this also ends up as a rather uncompelling return for Kane, about whose absence and future plans we learned nothing. A double whammy. But this is how the show ends.

After the Match: Kane blows his corner pyro, and skunkeyes Cena while making the International Sign For "I Want The Belt" that was pioneered by the Iron Sheik. Cena is off headsets by now, and just stares back. He ain't scared. Or is he? And then, apparently WWE wanted to make it up to me for last week: instead of running a few minutes late, they go off the air several minutes EARLY this week, so that they can give us our REAL main event: shitty clips of the Rock's shitty new movie, as narrated (shittily? nah...) by The Rock himself. It's almost pathetic: Rock dismisses all wrestling talk when out with the legitimate media, but WWE still kisses his ass this hard.... they push him as the main event of RAW, even though they'll be lucky if they ever get Rocky for more than one or two REAL appearances per year ever again.

Anyway, underwhelming end to an underwhelming (but admittedly NOT sucky, or at least, not as sucky as I was dreading) show. 


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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