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Many Happy Returns: Daivari Returns,
and RAW Returns to Not Sucking 
November 8, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


I could probably open this recap with some in-depth theoretical analysis about how RAW was good again this week... but you know what? Until they do it again, and show us that this is the start of a concerted effort to not suck on a weekly basis, I'm not gonna expend my Grade-A Pre-Ramble Material just yet.

So yeah: RAW was the best it's been in a while. I hope that this was done on purpose and was not a fluke. But I'd rather get past the ad box here by telling a quick (and hopefully amusing) story:

For last night, I was again not watching RAW in real time. I had a bunch of stuff accumulated on DVR (such as the Best Episode of Family Guy EVER~!) to watch, and also, I had to keep an eyeball on the football game for Fantasy Purposes. Good christ did the Colts ever put a scare into me: I had my Fantasy Week well in hand as long as their kicker didn't get 15 points. So of 

course, he proceeds to start racking up the points early and often. But in the 4th Quarter, I checked the score, and the Colts were up; I think it was 34-21, and I thought the game would just turn into Clock Warfare, with no more points being scored. And a good thing, too, since four point-after-touchdowns and 2 field goals meant that the Colts' kicker was already up to ten points. [Imagine my moment of panic when I flipped past ESPN later and saw the final score was 40-to-twenty-something; I figured he'd gotten two more field goals and rendered me a fantasy loser. Luckily, it turned out the Colts got a late touchdown and apparently missed the PAT or something. Whew.]

But that's not even my story. My story involves flipping the DVR over to RAW right around 11:05 to make sure the show wasn't running overtime. I actually caught about 1.3 seconds of the show, with a strangely-familiar Guest Referee celebrating with the winner of the main event. I thought it kinda looked like Daivari, but that didn't make much sense, and I didn't get a good enough look to convince myself that such a random event could be possible.

And while this anecdote might not seem at all amusing now, try to remember it for a bit later on. Because trust me: as I went back and watched RAW before bed, it DOES come into play. And thus, it will come into play for my running commentary in the recap.

Enjoy this report on RAW's Victorious Return to the Realm Of The Non-Sucky....

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Ft. Wayne, IN, which is probably good news for John Cena. I mean, I was born in Indianapolis, and have lived my entire life in the midwest (after Indy, it was Chicago and Dayton), and I've never once had a reason to visit Ft. Wayne. Which makes me suspect they're probably the kind of Happenin' Town that still thinks John Cena is cool. 

As we pan the crowd, the King and Coach direct our attention to the ring, where just about the entire RAW Roster is assembled (standing on the apron). They wonder what that's all about, and also tell us about our Michaels/Cena vs. Angle/Masters main event. Then the camera cuts to the announce table, where Lawler takes it upon himself to welcome his new Broadcast Colleague, Joey Styles, to the booth. Lawler actually calls him a "temporary replacement" until Jim Ross recovers. What the hell is going on here? Did I miss something about the re-instatement of JR? Or is WWE just going to pretend this whole thing never happened? And if they pretend it never happened, then would it be wrong of me to wonder out loud WHY IN THE FRICKING HELL DID ANYBODY THINK IT WAS A GOOD IDEA TO BEGIN WITH?!?!?!? Seriously, hire me to be your Stupid Patrol, WWE. If even you have decided you fucked up here, wouldn't you like it if you had somebody hanging around whose head is NOT lodged up his ass and could tell you BEFORE you fuck up to just not put a particular steaming pile of turds on national TV?

Anyway, Coach completely whiffs on the significance of Lawler's statement, and spends the night making jokes about how it's a good thing Joey is only temporary, cuz Joey sucks at commentary. Riiiiiiii-iiiigghhht, Coach. You didn't just set off Irony Meters the nation over with those comments.... I swear. Just like that last sentence didn't set off a single Sarcasm Meter.

Joey barely has time to say "Howdy" to his new audience before he is interrupted by The Boss, though, so we immediately clam up so that we can head down to the ring to enjoy....

Eric Bischoff's "Dating Game 2005"

As Bischoff hits the ring, it's worth noting that the wrestlers surrounding the ring are segregated along heel/face lines: faces on the right side, heels on the left. Well, except for Val Venis and Viscera (unless they've become heels again without my knowledge). The "break point" between the two is dead center on the far side of the ring, and has Carlito and Shelton Benjamin standing side-by-side... if that didn't set off your Spidey Sense? Well, then, you're just not as nimble-minded a Home Viewer as The Rick, I guess...

Sleazy E gets in the ring, and immediately pats himself on the back for going to SD! on Friday and taking the fight to GM Teddy Long. Appropriately, faces and heels alike do applaud Bischoff's standing up for the RAW brand. Well, except that dillhole Edge, who doesn't seem too impressed with tonight's proceedings so far. Before Eric gets to SD!, though, he wants to tell us about RAW brand matches that'll be stealing the show at Survivor Series. First, he's signed a Last Man Standing Match between Triple H and Ric Flair; okey-doke, everybody says the Cage Match was good, so I'm betting this one's even better. And second, he's signed a WWE Title match that will pit Kurt Angle against John Cena. Whoops, and what's that? A smattering (MUCH quieter than recent weeks) of boos at the mention of Cena.... guess Ft. Wayne there ain't TOTALLY backwater, eh?

But then moving on to the matter of SmackDown!.... for the benefit of those who aren't watching SD! (which, according to ratings, is probably at least 25% of RAW's audience), Eric explains that there will be two RAW vs. SD! matches at the Survivor Series PPV. One will pit Bischoff against Long in a one-on-one match. But the other will pit five RAW stars against five SD! stars in a traditional elimination-style Survivor Series match.

Bischoff says he's confident that RAW will come out on top. Because he's already started assigning members of the team. First, you'll have Team Captain Shawn Michaels. YAY! And then, perhaps the most dominant team ever in wrestling history, Big Show and Kane. YAY! But after that, we need two more members. Who'll step up and sell Bischoff on his qualifications? Well, from the looks of things, it won't be Chris F. Masters, who just sort of stands there and completely fails to convey any sense of personality at all. Fucking schmuck; but not much of a surprise, since I can't be the only one who remembers the match where he couldn't even stand on the ring apron properly, can I? He did it again here.

But luckily, Carlito is all "Ooohh oooohhh oohhhhh, Mister Cotter!" and thus Erin decides to call on him. Carlito says that he's sick of everybody thinking he's just a talk show host. He says if Bischoff gives him a chance, he'll suspend the Cabana, and show the world he's the best wrestler on RAW. And just as I subconsciously registered 4 minutes prior when I noticed their suspicious positioning, Shelton Benjamin reached over, grabbed the mic and asked the question, "Dude. Are you high?".  Nice to have you back on Mondays, Shelton. The crowd seems to agree with me, too. Take note, Writer Monkeys. Shelton says that what RAW needs on their team is the most amazing athlete ever to step foot in a WWE ring, and that's him. Bischoff likes the intensity, so he decides that tonight, it'll be Carlito vs. Shelton, and the winner gets assigned to Team RAW.

But then, who else wants in? Trevor Murdoch is the next to pipe up, but he's more interested in the tag team titles, and he does his best Dusty as he "re-invokicizes" the rematch clause, and asks for it to be a Hardcore Match. Bischoff likes the sound of that, and makes the match for later tonight.

Then Gregory Helms chimes in and says that he wants a shot at the fat load of crap that's been weighing him down the past two years. So pencil it in: Helms vs. Rosey later on tonight.

Mickie James has her Spaz Dial set to 11 as she steals somebody's mic and insists that everybody take a moment to applaud Our Women's Champion, Trish Stratus for her spectacular victory at Taboo Tuesday. Trish clearly wants Mickie to tone it down, and Bischoff just gives her a muttered "Whatever" as he moves on...

To pretending to excuse everybody from the ring now that we have an agenda for tonight. But oh wait: he faked us out. Because there's one more thing. And to address it, he'd like for Edge and Lita to join him in the ring. Jesus, was it just me, or did it look like somebody pointed a make-up gun at Lita's face this week, and had it set to "Whore"? I mean, significantly moreso than usual...

Bischoff can't quite remember what he's so upset about, but the TitanTron helpfully fires up a clip from Taboo Tuesday to help out. Turns out Edge pulled himself out of a match at the PPV because he doesn't care about defending the RAW brand. Dumb move, Edgeward. This jogs Bischoff's memory, and also gives him an idea...

Edge and Lita had better cancel their dinner plans for Friday night, because Bischoff is sending Edge to SmackDown!, where he will face Batista. In a Street Fight. And oh by the way: Edge is not welcomed back on RAW until he "gets the job done." Hmmm, well that's sufficiently vague, now, isn't it? My money's on Matt Hardy (probably among others) interfering during the street fight to cause Edge to lose ignominiously on SD!, resulting in Edge being exiled from RAW, but not technically a free agent capable of signing with SD!. Which is just what a man with a chest injury can use to rest and recover.

To close out the segment, Bischoff (whose voice seemed just about shot by the end of this thing) mustered up just enough to goose the crowd into serenading Edge and Lita with the ol' chestnut "Nah nah nah nah, hey hey hey, goodbye" as they left the RAW ring. Very effective opening segment: it set up a few Love Connections as set-ups for matches for tonight, it set the stage for stories heading into the RAW/SD! Survivor Series match, and it even provided a nice little reason to tune into SD! on Friday. And opening segment that makes you want to see what happens next on three different shows? Deserves to be commended.


Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito Cool (Team RAW Qualifier Match)

Back from break, and we actually join this match in progress. You can practically feel the Jim Ross as Joey Styles deftly squeezes in the tidbit that both these men are former Intercontinental Champions; it's a little thing, but it's a thing that Coach would never do.

And speaking of little things: the first big move of the match came as Shelton powered out of an arm bar, and eventually sent Carlito flying to the outside. Shelton came running, as if to attempt a tope or a plancha or something, but Carlito saw it coming and scurried out of the way. In so doing, the kid took the time to find the nearest camera, point to his noggin, and say "Carlito's too smart for that." Maybe he can't do a Shooting Star Sky Twister Flying Space Tiger Sault, but these are little things that Carlito has mastered and are things any half-way sharp wrestler should be able to add to his repertoire to make for a more believable/engrossing viewing experience. Of course, while Carlito was trumpeting his own smartness, Shelton changed gears in mid-course, and just hopped out of the ring onto the apron to await the moment when Carlito turned back around, expecting to see the carcass of Shelton crashed onto the ringside mats. Instead: Carlito walked right into a rolling neckbreaker from the apron to the floor. Fricking sweet.

Shelton's offensive is short-lived, as Carlito manages to cut him off with a low dropkick to the knee. Thus begins an extended offensive segment for Carlito. And unlike other recent matches where he's been asked to drive the truck, this time, he does maintain a psychological focus (on said knee), and with much better results, as the match seems to flow better, and the fans are able to muster some interest in rooting for Shelton. Also, during this lengthy sequence for Carlito: Coach makes a snide comment about Joey's last name being "Styles," and how nobody named "Styles" is cool. Potshot at TNA? Don't know, cuz Coach covered it up by trying to turn it into a "Teen Wolf" reference. Was there a character named "Styles" in "Teen Wolf," anybody? "Family Ties" and "Back to the Future" more than fulfilled my Michael J. Fox quota back when I was in third grade... 

Carlito's offense and Joey/Coach's bickering comes to an end when Shelton avoids an attempted Bossman Straddle, and starts a rally. There's some good stuff here, like a high elevation back drop, a funky backbreaker, and best of all: a quintuple-reverse-y suplex spot that finally ended with Shelton snapping off a wicked Northern Lights on Carlito for a near fall. Crowd actually thought Shelton had him. There's a bit more to Shelton's run, but his advantage runs out when he whiffs on an attempted high cross body off the top rope. 
Carlito follows that miss up with a DDT, and then goes back to work on the knee. This leads up to Carlito trying to cinch in a half Boston Crab, but Shelton manages to reverse that into a roll-up... but while evading the ref's detection, Carlito then re-reverses by using the ropes for illegal leverage and flipping things into a small package in his favor. One, two, three, and Shawn Michaels has a fourth member for his team.

Your Winner: Carlito, via dubious pinfall, in about 6-8 minutes. Good stuff here, with Shelton back on Mondays having the kind of matches that fans actually get into and respond to, and with Carlito looking sharper than he has in weeks.

Backstage: Trish and Mickie are emerging from the women's locker room, and Mickie's all "Oh, I know, I should totally dye my hair blonde, wouldn't that be cool?"... but Trish eventually stops her and says they have to talk about something. But Mickie thinks she knows what Trish is going to say, and stops her: "You don't have to thank me for sacrificing myself at Taboo Tuesday, Trish. You're Our Women's Champion, and I was totally happy to do it." Trish's face says this isn't exactly the topic she wanted to discuss, but Mickie's not exactly the observant type. So Mickie rambles on about how it's such an honor to be partners with Trish tonight for a tag match and how she can't wait and how we should go out there and give 'em a double dose of Stratusfaction because it's gonna be so totally AWEXOME~! Mickie works herself into quite the lather and heads to the ring, leaving Trish to regale us with her Acting Genius. Without saying a word, Trish convincingly takes us from annoyance ("What a spazzy weirdo!") to amusement ("But she's harmless and kinda funny in her way") to resignation ("Oh well, guess I better head to the ring and get this over with") inside of 10 seconds.


Trish Stratus and Mickie James vs. Victoria and Candice Michelle

Mickie is so excited, she insists on starting for her team, and for a minute or so, things go well. There's a flying head scissors and some other good stuff, but it comes crashing to a halt pretty quickly after Boobies McTitsalot lowbridges Mickie behind the ref's back. Mickie's tossed back into the ring, and is easily dominated by Victoria.

I think Boobies actually does tag in at one point, but I recall nothing memorable, and her entire elapsed time in the ring during this match probably ended up being less than 30 seconds. Which is as it should be. [Oh, and if you're wondering how I, a man who has frequently discoursed on the distracting nature of Ass Cleavage, recalls nothing memorable about Boobies' time in the ring, all I can say is this: consider last night's match scientific evidence that it is not the Ass Cleavage alone that draws my rapt attention. It is the Owner of the Ass Cleavage who truly makes it a fetching distraction. But I guess *your* mileage may vary, you undiscriminating hornballs.]

Boobies' limited contributions to the match included timely cheating to help keep Mickie from making the tag to Trish. So finally, Trish got pissed off, and just decided to come into the ring on her own accord. Quite illegally, too. But c'mon? What red blooded American Male would disqualify Trish Stratus for being such a magnificent ass-kicker? Not I. And not whatever guy was wearing the striped shirt last night, either. So Trish got away with the wrestling equivalent of bloody murder, decimating both Victoria and Candice with an array of dandy maneuvers. She even busted out the spinning handstand headscissors takedown (Joey Styles: "The Whirlybird," which is as good a name as any).

But then, the ref finally decided that, lenient as one can be when dealing with Trish, he still had a job to do. He put his attention into getting Trish to leave the ring. While he was doing so, Boobies handed Victoria some sort of Magic Wand (which I guess is her new signature prop, which is pretty silly and retarded), which was used to club Mickie in the noodle. Trish picked that moment to leave the ring willingly, just in time for the ref to turn around and count three.

Your Winners: Victoria and Candice Michelle, via dubious pinfall, in about 4-5 minutes. Boobies was tagged in for all of 20 seconds, which is as it should be; and while Trish NEVER tagged in legally, she did get a solid 90 seconds or so of House Afire Time, which she nailed. That left Victoria and Mickie to handle the load, and they were both more than up for the task. Nothing fancy, but good stuff that seems to be furthering the story of Mickie always taking the bullet, and Trish always escaping scot-free...


PPV Rebound: A (very) lengthy highlights package of Taboo Tuesday. I don't recap recaps.

Backstage: Big Show approaches Kane and says "I know we didn't ask for this, but we're the tag champs, and I'm not in any mood to lose tonight. So where's your head at?"... and Kane ponders, smirks, chuckles, waits for the camera to get in really close-up on his face, and then launches into a lengthy thesauratastic diatribe that would make even Raven envious. Convincingly creepy. Camera pulls back and reveals that Show might have been initially taken aback, but has decided that this is exactly the kind of sick, twisted guy he'd love to be partners with. Show says "That's beautiful, man... I'm with you. Let's do this thing." Nice bit that makes it seem like Kane and Show are having fun with the notion of being "Division Killers," if that makes sense: they are sick, twisted ass-kickers, AND THEY KNOW IT (and love it). Those are the scariest kind.


Rosey vs. Gregory Helms

Helms comes out to generic new music, wearing a generic new outfit, and basically makes me feel like re-asserting my point from a few weeks ago that unless he gets REAL lucky with the creative team, he just might have pissed away a long-term niche-gimmick in order to become the next disposable failed repackaging by WWE. Judging by (lack of) crowd reaction, the sooner something is done to address this problem, the better for Helms....

Then again, it could just be because the match was less-than-nothing. Unless I'm forgetting something, they started with a Staredown Of Ex-Friendship, and then the match started, and Rosey dominated thanks to the power of Self-Righteous Tubby Rage. This lasted for about 2 minutes straight, and then Rosey tried to go up top for the moonsault. But Helms knocked him off. Then he hit his one and only offensive move of the match (a Shining Wizard), and got the pinfall win.

Your Winner: Gregory Helms, via pinfall, in 2 minutes flat. Some kind of weird anti-squash, with Helms getting no offense till the final 10 seconds. I don't see how that helps HIS new character, and the loss sure as hell does nothing for Rosey, either (who is now in pretty dire need of a repackaging of his own -- or a new super-hero-y partner -- if his character is to be at all sensible). First Miss of the night for RAW. I think the highlight of the match might have been some monkey in the truck FINALLY telling Coach and King that they both made asses of themselves earlier when they were bickering over whether it was the 27th or 21st annual Survivor Series coming up. Even sitting on my couch, half-distracted, and no on the company payroll, I knew the correct answer was "19th Annual" about half-an-hour before anybody else figured it out. I'd say "yay for me," except that possessing the ability to do simple subtraction isn't necessarily something anyone should be proud of. Unless they are in second grade. Or are Randy Orton.

After the Match: Helms celebrated, and the combination of his new bearded look and some of his facial expressions made him look a bit like Shawn Daivari. Enough so that I swear to go: I instantly said to myself, "Oh, I guess that's who I saw as the guest referee at the end of the show." I was 100% positive that Gregory Helms, with a new Daivari-esque Make-over, would somehow worm his way into the main event. I didn't know how, but I was positive it'd be him. POSITIVE, I tells ya.


Kane and Big Show vs. Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade (Hardcore Rules Match for the Tag Team Titles)

Kane and Show enter separately, and just to fuck with my head, Kane blows his corner pyro during his entrance. Is WWE trying to eliminate that little heuristic for predicting the outcome of Kane's matches? Murdoch and Cade enter together, and come bearing two grocery carts full of Plunder.

Murdoch and Cade try to start by using trash cans as weapons, but that's tantamount to the proverbial case of the moron who brought a knife to a gunfight. Kane and Show no-sell the trashcans, and have about 2 minutes of fun toying with the heels (and with the trashcans, and with a kendo stick, and with a few other goodies).

But the fun ends when Cade lowbridges Big Show, causing him to take a nasty tumble to ringside, and then moments later, Kane is trying to hold things together, but when he attempts his top-rope clothesline, Cade ducks, and Kane goes head-first into a trashcan-lid-shot from Murdoch. 

Thus does begin a few minutes of Heel Beatdown. It continues without much in the way of interruption or Hope Spots. At one point, Big Show did recover enough to drag himself up onto the ring apron, but Murdoch took care of that by pasting Show in the head with a trashcan. Back to beating on Kane, they went... until Kane ducked a double clothesline attempt, and came back with one of his own. Conveniently, this coincided with Show's re-return to the ring apron, and the champs managed to turn it into a bona fide comeback.

In fact, it turns into a Happy Fun Beatdown, a kinda crowd pleasing deal where Show and Kane just have fun destroying Cade and Murdoch with various impressively one-sided offensive moves (often assisted by trashcans and kendo sticks). The beating eventually starts focusing on Murdoch, who ends up wearing a trashcan as a hat for an amusing set piece... but Show and Kane eventually tire of beating the hell out of Trevor, and spot Lance Cade stumbling up the ramp, as if to escape the match.

Wrong move, Prettyboy. Kane and Show catch up to Cade on the stage, and lay a beating on him. And then, deciding to put a bit of icing on this cake, Show and Kane share a knowing look, and decide to finish things off in style. Kane clears the announce table, sending the trio of talking heads scrambling. Then Show drags Cade over. And Kane and Show double chokeslam Cade through the announce table. You better believe that was more than enough for a three count.

Your Winners: Kane and Big Show, via pinfall, in about 6-8 minutes. Yeah, this means that Cade and Murdoch are back to square one, but I was saying from the start that what those two needed was to get over with their characters/interplay first, and THEN be pushed to the tag titles. I consider this less a burial and more a chance at a do-over, should WWE be as wise and sagacious as I am. In the interim, this was damned good fun. Not much substance to it, but just the kind of satisfying garbage match with a big finish that we're simply not used to seeing anymore on Mondays. It could be fun to keep booking Kane and Show into Crowd Pleaser Matches like this, and have their eventual (inevitable) friction be related to them getting into a bit of a game of "Can You Top This?", which would of course make their matches against each other a more violent and brutal series of matches, since we'd have seen weeks or months of what the two are capable of doing.... who's with me?


Kurt Angle's Crowd Interaction Theatre

Apparently, I missed something, because they're suddenly selling this like it's the start of the main event... even though we're only 70 minutes into the show. Methinks I smell a rat.

But Lillian Garcia's gonna try to convince me, introducing this as a tag team match and introducing Kurt just like we're really about to get started. But for some reason: tonight, Kurt is deeply offended by the "You Suck" Sing-Along. Starting mere seconds after he hit the stage, and continuing all the way to the ring, he was gesturing (in the finest manner of gesturing, Broadly) to indicate that he finds the "You Suck" chant disrespectful. Once to the ring, he takes Lillian's mic, and verbalizes the exact same notion that had been clearly indicated by his Broad Gesturing.

In fact, Kurt's so fed up with the disrespect that he's going to make his ring entrance again, and THIS TIME, the audience had better keep quiet and give Kurt the respect he deserves. Huh. For a moment there, I'd have sworn there was some kind of time management screw-up, and we'd come back in the middle of some kind of "WWE Unlimited"/commercial-break skit that WWE sometimes does to goose the crowd into responding how they want. In this case, it seemed like a commercial-break skit designed to get the live crowd chanting "You Suck" even louder than normal. But as soon as Joey Styles noted, "I thought one of Kurt's Three I's was Intelligence, and he can't possibly be dumb enough to think that this is gonna work, can he?", I realized that for whatever reason, this shtick was a planned part of tonight's show. Odd.

So Kurt comes out again. And predictably, the "You Suck" chants are even louder. Kurt doesn't even wait to get to the ring, he just tells the sound guy to cut the music, cuz he's heard enough. He tells the people that he trains his ass off and puts his body on the line every night to entertain them, and this is the thanks he gets? No freaking way does it work like that. So we're not gonna do this over and over again: we're just gonna do it one last time, and if the fans don't give Kurt the respect he deserves, Kurt's not gonna give them the main event they paid to see. So chew on that Ft. Wayne: either sing-along with Kurt's music, or get your main event. Which will it be?

When "Theme From You Suck" fires up for the third time, Ft. Wayne makes it's choice thunderously clear. They like chanting "You Suck" at Kurt, and they'll take their chances on something magically happening so that they get their main event at some point closer to the actual end of the show. Smart folks.

Kurt, of course, cuts the music, and wants to speak again. Because he expected better out of the Heartland, where supposedly everybody has such high moral values. But instead, they bring their children out to chant profane things as a True Olympic Hero. [Joey Styles: "They paid for their tickets, they can chant whatever they want."] Kurt says he even knows what the fans' rationales are, because they think "Hey, I bought my ticket, I can say whatever I want." [And with that, Joey knows how I felt at least once or twice a week, every week, during JR's tenure as announcer. How's it feel to have somebody say something about 2 seconds after you thought it?]

Kurt continues, though, in an odd direction: he says that these people may think they have the right to say whatever they want, but they abuse that right, just like America abuses the First Amendment. Whhhaaaaa? When did Kurt get recruited by the FCC? And Kurt won't stand for people abusing those rights, the same way they abuse him. Because Kurt broke his neck for these people, he lost his wife and daughter in pursuit of his wrestling career, and he won't stand for the abuse any more.

He says each and every fan in the arena and at home is a self-absorbed, hypocritical bastard, and he's not gonna take it anymore. Kurt says he's not the one who Sucks, the fans are the one who Suck (oh, Stephanie, that's so cute, tricking Kurt into going out there to say the line you wish *you* could say to all of us fans who dare to not lap up the crap you've been serving up lately). Which is why Kurt's leaving the arena, and these fans aren't gonna get their main event.

The sound guy, thoughtfully, does NOT cue up Kurt's music on his way out. An effective segment, I think. Kurt was at his heelish best, and it's things like this that have to be done to keep Kurt as a heel, given that his main current opposition is John Cena, who is having Fan Acceptance Issues. You might think it was an overlong bit of fluff that accomplished nothing, but it was entertaining and effective fluff that built up Kurt's character such that he'll be more of a bad guy against Cena than he would have been without this petulant display.


Backstage: Bischoff intercepts Angle, and says that Kurt can't leave, because Bischoff promised these fans a main event, and he must deliver. Kurt says he'll stay on two conditions: (1) he wants his own hand-picked Guest Referee, and (2) he wants to keep the fans from chanting "You Suck." Bischoff says he's totally fine with the first, but that he's kind of powerless to stop 10,000 fans from chanting. Angle says it's a deal-breaker, and he'll walk.... so Bischoff frantically promises that he'll take care of the fans, too. Angle accepts, and the main event is back on. But the look on Bischoff's face says that he's not entirely sure how he's gonna pull this off, yet.

Triple H vs. Gentlemen's Quarterly

For some reason, although we're told that an InterContinental Title Match is next, Triple H's music fires up. And out comes Trips... and for some reason, he's decked out in his 2002-era babyface finery. Jeans and Self-Promotional T-Shirt. He's a denim-vest-over-a-leather-jacket away from looking like he's ready to permanently ruin Chris Jericho's career. Remember, kids, in "WWE Think" attention to minor details like Wardrobe Changes is Very Important, and frequently marks a foreshadowing of coming events. And back in 2002 when HHH turned heel for good, it was an important factor that he sudden stopped dressing "cool" and always had to be in full Glossed Up GQ MetroWear at all times. Could the return of CasualWear be hinting at something? I only mention it because I'm 100% convinced that if WWE is dead-set on HHH vs. Cena being the big WM pay-off match on the RAW side, the only way it'll play is with HHH as the face and Cena as the heel, cuz (non-teenage-girl) fans just won't by Homey the Clown as the good guy against HHH, anymore than they have lately against Angle.

At any rate, it turns out that HHH didn't just dress comfortable tonight: he's also gonna BE comfortable, as he makes his way to a nice, cushy leather chair that has been set up on the stage. It appears that he wants a bird's eye view of Flair's match. Which will commence right after these....


Ric Flair vs. Rob Conway (InterContinental Title Match)

Conway's already in the ring, and is probably as baffled as any of us as to what he's done lately that deserves an IC Title shot. That minor detail is glossed over during Flair's ring entrance, as Joey explains how Conway's suddenly developed a fetish for attacking legends, and since there's no bigger legend on the RAW Roster than Flair, he's Conway's next target... OK, so I guess we'll give half-credit on the "explaining why this match exists" question.

Flair starts out with the edge, but it's mostly a psychological edge, as he does a lot of bitchslapping and whoooo'ing and strutting. This makes Conway frustrated, so he powders out, leaving Flair to get distracted by staring down HHH up one the stage. Said distraction lasts long enough for Conway to attack Flair from behind and launch a brief offensive.

Said offensive stupidly devolves into chops and whoo'ing in Flair's face. This gets under Naitch's skin, so he resorts to a Testicular Claw to teach Conway a little respect. From there, Flair goes on a tear (even hitting a double axe-handle off the top rope!). As he cinches in the Figure Four, HHH starts walking towards the ring with a steel chain in hand. Mere nanoseconds before HHH gets to the ring, Conway taps out.

Your Winner: Ric Flair, via submission, in maybe 3-4 minutes. Not bad, but also nothing here that comes even close to counting as memorably good. Kind of a throw-away deal to set the stage for what was to come....

After the Match: as soon as Flair had procured his win, HHH attacked, and dragged Flair out of the ring by the throat. But Flair fought back, and the two ended up brawling into the crowd. After a couple of minutes, officials finally corralled them up near the entrance stage area, and broke them up. The implication is clear: these two are far from done with each other, and the Last Man Standing Match at Survivor Series will be a brutal war.


Backstage: Eric Bischoff is talking on a headset to somebody in the production truck, telling them "I just want you to hit the CENSOR button anytime I tell you to, OK?"... and in walks Lita. She wants to know if it's really wise to send one of RAW's biggest stars over to SD! to face Batista in a Street Fight. Bischoff says it's plenty wise, and she and Edge had better just get ready for it, cuz there's nothing Edge can do to get out of it. But, Lita wonders, is there anything *she* can do about it? She turns her back to the camera, and opens her shirt up wide in front of Bischoff. Sleazy E enjoys the view for a few seconds, then tells Lita to "put those things back where they belong" cuz there's nothing she can do about it, either. As Lita leaves, Bischoff mutters, "Slut." Heh. Finally, a male character in pro wrestling who has apparently seen tits before in his life and behaves accordingly!

Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. Kurt Angle and Chris F. Masters vs. Time Management

This'll be just the ring entrances, folks. Masters enters first, giving Coach and King ample time to stroke their manrections for not one, but TWO reasons. First, unlike Bischoff, they apparently haven't seen bOObs before, and can't believe Eric didn't acquiesce to Lita's request. And second: that Chris F. Masters is one fine hunk of manmeat whose powers apparently include sexually arousing members of both genders. But only the stupid ones. Sadly, the effect even rubs off on Joey Styles, who finally has no choice but to play along with Coach and King's manlove for Masters. I'm going to tell myself he was just listening to the voice in his headset for that part.

Then Angle enters, and we discover that Bischoff's plan involves muting the broadcast any time the crowd chants "You Suck." This probably seemed like a better idea in theory than it wound up being in execution, because not only were they muting the announcers, but it just seemed silly to have Kurt (in the arena) being subjected to the exact same taunt, but be smiling and happy about it just because it was apparently being censored out for the home viewer. Lame. But only if you stop to think about it, I guess.

Then the babyfaces enter, and nothing of import happens. The combination of Angle coming off as a petulant whiner earlier and being partners with Shawn Michaels (and performing in Ft. Wayne, IN) has apparently ensured that Cena will be mostly-cheered tonight. Good for him. 

And then, it's time for us to meet Kurt's Hand-Picked Special Referee....

Holy crap, it really IS Daivari! Not Gregory Helms. Although the resemblance WAS uncanny. That's what I get for Triple-Guessing myself... the announcers sell Daivari as a low-life jerkface, and say Angle's even worse for associating with Daivari, all while Daivari is taking his time ambling towards the ring and taunting the ringside fans. Daivari, Allah bless him, has totally mastered the most important Broad Gesture associated with refereeing: he can point to the almighty and empowering WWE logo on his chest and indicate that it means He's In Charge Tonight, so you'd best respect his authoritah. Beautiful.

Daivari still has three sides of the ring to taunt, though, so let's us break for our final....


Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. Kurt Angle and Chris F. Masters (Special Referee: Khosrow Daivari)

Back from break, and we are joining this match in progress, as Michaels and Masters are trading some basic chain wrestling stuff in the center of the ring. To set the dynamic of the match, Daivari lets Master pull HBK's hair whenever he wants, but if Michaels so much as balls a fist for an illegal punch, Daivari is in there breaking things up. As this chicanery leads to Michaels being on the defensive, Daivari also lets some illegal double-teaming by the heels slide after Angle tags into the match.

From here, Michaels eventually makes a necessary tag to Cena, who controls for a bit, but then the Evil Ref Factor catches up again, so Cena needs to wait for a spot to do a mini-fire up... which of course leads to the mini-hot-tag, as Michaels gets into the match, cuz lord knows we aren't mapping this match out in a way that makes Cena have to carry the load. But actually: Michaels manages to make Masters his bitch for a bit (nothing fancy, mostly punchy-kicky, but Michaels controls him), and STILL keeps the advantage after Angle tags in. It's not until Michaels has Angle trapped in a corner, peppering him with (illegal) right hands, that things change.

Ref Daivari interjects himself, hooking Michaels right arm, and giving Angle ample time to strike. Daivari even let himself be distracted by Cena's attempt to come in to extract revenge, allowing some heel double teaming to cement the beginning of our Face In Peril Sequence. Angle does a decent beatdown on Michaels for a while, but then decides to tag in Chris F. Masters.... Masters' lone contribution to this match: immediately cinching in a bearhug. Oy. Hopefully this at least means Kurt won't bust out the bodyscissors this week... of course, after a few minutes of this thrilling excitement, the power of Christ compels Michaels to apply his fist to Masters' face in order to escape the hold. Cuz even Jesus H. Christ doesn't like unconvincing restholds in the middle of his wrestling matches!

After his one move failed, Masters immediately tagged Kurt back in, and Kurt took it to Michaels in a slightly more compelling fashion, focusing on a knee, and eventually building up to a double-reverse-y spot in which Angle set Michaels up for the Angle Slam, but Michaels eventually turned it into a big ol' DDT. It was so impactful that it shook the ring so hard that Ref Daivari was launched a foot or so into the air. [Seriously, Daivari as ref was doing all the little things right, even better than most Full Time Refs do, to make sure that when he wasn't making himself a character in the match that fans were still being treated to the best possible presentation of the other four men, which is the ref's real job.] From the DDT, Michaels was able to make the Hot Tag to Cena.

So Cena came in and immediately went to town on Angle with his usual array of wacky moves (the wacky hiptoss, the wacky suplexbomb, the wacky fistdrop), and anytime Chris F. Masters thought about getting involved, Cena would punch him off the ring apron. Except for one time: when Cena got Angle in position for the F-U, he turned his back on Masters' side of the ring, and Masters was able to come in and break it up. Angle and Masters then manage to team up to briefly control the match, but before very long, Cena makes it to his corner and tags in Shawn Michaels.

Somebody will have to double check this for me, but I believe for the first time in history, one man portrayed both Ricky Morton AND Robert Gibson in the same match. Michaels was the match's Face In Peril, but then Cena flopped with the hot tag, and now Michaels is coming in to be the End Game House Afire.

Michaels immediately goes to the standard playbook, hitting CFM with the Flying Burrito/Nip-Up combo, and making sure to share the ass-kicking with Kurt, too. But when Michaels gets Masters set up for the Macho Man Elbow, Kurt gets frustrated, and decides to borrow Lillian Garcia's chair. Shawn sees this, and opts not to hit the Elbow, and instead wants to get rid of the chair. But Daivari distracts him, allowing Masters to get the chair. Then Daivari himself gets distracted when Cena tries to come into the ring to get the chair away from Masters... behind Daivari's back, Masters takes a shot at Michaels with the chair, but Michaels counters, and grabs control of the chair himself. Daivari turns around just in time to see Michaels take a swing at Masters. Even though Masters ducked, that's more than enough to justify a DQ, according to our referee.

Your Winners: Kurt Angle and Chris F. Masters, via dubious disqualification, in about 9-10 minutes. Nothing fancy, here, and with it being a bit on the short side for a TV main event, it didn't really feel like it had the chance to build up to a sizzling finish. Or maybe that was just a 2 minute bearhug in the middle of a 10 minute match taking the oomph out of things? Good, but probably not even the best match of the night... although that's as much a compliment to the opener and the rest of the show as it is a mild gripe about this match.

After the Match: a frustrated Michaels superkicked Chris F. Masters out of the ring. Then Kurt Angle attacked Michaels and tossed him out of the ring. And then John Cena decided to confront Angle, and the two brawled briefly. But as soon as Cena gained the advantage, ref Daivari put his two cents worth in: he whacked Cena across the back with the steel chair. Masters down, Michaels down, and now Cena down. That leaves Angle to celebrate and get his arm raised by his newfound pal, Daivari. And as the show faded to black, you could once again feel the JR in the room, as Joey Styles sputtering indignantly about the travesty of justice we all just witnessed.

Show had some slow moments, for sure, but was 100% devoid of any Suck, and also had some really fun bits, too. If you missed this RAW, you missed the first good one in quite some time. More tomorrow in OO...


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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