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Vince and Shane Will Have Plenty of
Trash to Take Out.... 
November 29, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, fuck. Talk about a night where pretty much nothing worked out for me....
First, bad weather (mostly just wind, but KUH-RAAAYZEEE wind it was) toyed with my electricity, and kept me from getting an OO Column polished and posted by the usual time. Making me look like a lazy hack.

Secondly, as is the case any Monday where circumstances conspire to keep my column from being posted at a reasonable hour, I tried to do a front

page teaser that could still be taken as a "preview" of RAW, but which could also be read as discussing RAW in the past-tense. It's a little trick I've developed so that Monday's column can (if posted late) still seem pertinent and relevant until Tuesday afternoon. So I decided (mostly at random) to pick a picture of Edge and mention how the debut of his talk show on RAW really shook things up. What's WWE do? They pull the already-announced Edge/HHH talk show segment, and anybody who saw that front page teaser immediately knew my trick, since Edge didn't even appear on RAW. Making me look like an incompetent hack.

Third, assuming people still clicked through and read yesterday's column despite recognizing it as dated, they would be treated to a RAW Preview that featured a lot of talk about "possibilities" and how many cool things could start developing on RAW now that they have a month-and-a-half to set the stage before their next PPV. Of course, none of these possibilities were explored, and instead, RAW thudded to an anti-climax, but only after taking one of the most convoluted and ill-conceived routes to get there I could imagine. Making me look like a naively optimistic hack.

Also in my RAW Preview, I uttered the line: "I just hope that it's good stuff, focusing on the right people. More Shelton! Less Chris F. Masters!" Which, once all was said and done at the end of RAW, had the effect of making me look like the Anti-Nostradamus.

And as if all that wasn't enough, right before I went to bed, the already-anemic Secret Club of The Rick's GrownMan Crushes took a hit and lost an established member. Kristen Bell was on the "Late Late Show," and was 98% her usual smart, fun, fetching (and OK: hot) self (which, when combined with being actually talented and -- at least from what I've seen -- appearing exclusively in Things That Don't Suck, forms that simple basis for any GrownMan Crush). But she spent the other 2% being a "tofurkey" loving vegetarian (which, on a very long list of the Rick's retardedly-specific peeves, ranks pretty high among easy ways to bring a GrownMan Crush to a sudden halt). And DAMMIT, she's even Lapsed Catholic, too, so my mom would have approved as we only paid lip service to all the stupid church crap to keep our families happy. Arrrrggggghhh! Most my GrownMan Crush Fantasies don't even get half-that-involved... but Kristen Bell had to go ruin it by being a vegetarian. Damn her.

'Twas not a good night for me. But sometimes, the nights that aren't good for me turn into Recaps that are Good For You. On the exact one-year anniversary of the show that spawned the still-fondly-remembered "Little Devil" RAW Recap, let's see if this bafflingly-booked show can inspire me to any new heights of Insightful Assholitude...

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Cleveland, OH. Of note: RAW had frequent signal glitches and at least one lengthy outage over the course of the night. Hmmmm: that actually fits together just about right: since what hits Dayton, OH, usually ends up hitting Cleveland 3-4 hours later, I'm guessing the weather was just as much a nuisance to WWE as it was to me earlier in the day. Those glitches are still forthcoming, though, as we start the show with Joey Style, King, and Coach welcoming us and promising much goodness. But first, there's no time to waste because the General Manager is already in the ring and it's time to open the show with....

I Perceive That It Must Be Time For Eric Bischoff's Annual Vacation Theatre

Eric Bischoff is in the ring, and he's in the mood to hand out some Stern Talkings-To. He says that the entire RAW Roster is going to come out here, momentarily, and get a piece of his mind. Because every single member of RAW's roster not only embarrassed themselves at Survivor Series, not only brought shame onto Eric, but they also let down each and every one of the fans.

Announcers: "We gave it our best, and came up short against SD!, but I think each and every fan who watched Survivor Series got their money's worth."

Me: "Screw the fans and all this silly nonsense! I'd pay handsomely if Trish Stratus came out right now and told Bischoff to shut his yapper and make nice to her because she took care of business against SD! and is still OOur Women's Champion." Of course, this cannot happen, as Trish is just a girl, and girls are not allowed to upstage the men or get involved in real storylines, no matter how perfectly they might fit in. Bischoff being Vince's bitch (as he's about to become)? Been there, seen it, bored with it. Bischoff being Trish's bitch? Now that's something new, and something I bet might perk a few fans up, whether it's just a one-week one-off thing or something that develops into an on-going Trish-is-as-much-a-thorn-in-Bischoff's-side-as-Cena thing.

Bischoff finally gets done with his raving about everybody else being at fault for RAW's problems at the PPV, and says it's time for the roster to come on down to the ring and face the music. Nobody comes out. Bischoff threatens some more. Nobody comes out. Bischoff says, "OK, then I'm coming back there, and the first person I see is getting fired." On that cue, Vince McMahon's music fires out, and he flails his limbs towards the ring in that increasingly-exaggerated un-coordinated-looking Power Strut of his. You gotta assume this is bad news for Bischoff. If only because we've seen this exact same scenario -- what? -- about a dozen times in the past 3 years...

Vince tries to be cutesy by pretending like, since he's the first one Bischoff saw, that he will be fired, and asks Bischoff for lenience. That gives way to Vince's usual vibe of verbally abusing Bischoff with a contended grim on his face, because, in Vince's mind, it'll always be 1997 when he's face-to-face with Sleazy-E. Vince says he won't be fired, nobody will be fired, and no wrestlers are coming down to the ring, because this isn't about the RAW Roster, it's about Eric Bischoff.

At the PPV, Bischoff promised Vince he'd hit the "trifecta": beating Teddy Long, Team RAW beating Team SD!, and John Cena losing the WWE Title. And none of those three things happened. Bischoff did not accomplish even one of his three goals. And that, Vince says, could translate into Eric Bischoff being "a failure."

And then Vince goes all Dumb Guy Philosophy on us, introducing the concept that "Perception is Reality." Oh, how fun it is when the Intellectually Uncurious insist on proving to us that they are deeper than the puddle of vomit next to Courtney Love's bed! But let's play along: "Perception is Reality," which, after Vince constructs a Logical Proof that would make even a Philosophy 203 undergrad weep with pity, means that if fans perceive Eric Bischoff as a failure, then somehow, after three additional steps, fans will perceive Vince McMahon as a failure. Whatever. All I'm perceiving is that we've seen all this a billion times before so somebody had, by christ, get to the punchline soon. I'm also perceiving that the live audience is with me on this, as they've started to lose interest and get antsy.

Vince says that he will not stand for being perceived of as a failure. So, reversing his mind-bending Logical Proof from earlier, Vince determines that the only way to fix this is for Bischoff to make himself a success, and thus make Vince a success. Don't try to stop and ponder this; it will only make your brain hurt. Vince declares: tonight, Bischoff must set a goal (ANY goal, big or small) and then accomplish that goal. If he does, then everything peachy keen. If he doesn't, then Vince could be looking for a new GM of RAW.

Bischoff speaks: he says that with all due respect, his job is harder than it looks. Not only does that make his track record of holding the RAW brand together since 2002 (all while SD! has had a revolving door of GMs) all the more impressive, it also means that there's no way Vince would ever find somebody crazy enough to want to take on all the headaches that go along with being a general manager.

Oh, really? Then pray tell why Shane McMahon's music just started up, and he's prancing his way to the ring? Shane shares a hug with his dad, and then takes the mic. He says that he's been looking forward to the day when Bischoff would be gone. [I'm begging for some kind of nod to history, in which Shane brags about being the one who showed up on Nitro and bought up Bischoff's company 4 years ago, putting him out of a job once before. And now Shane's looking to do it again. But no dice. Because the Hollywood Writer Monkey's probably didn't have that little tidbit of a character background in their files.] And now, Shane stands before Bischoff more than willing to take the GM job. Because, Shane says, "It's the job I was born to do." 

I love Shane (he's the only one of his family to get the Babyface Gene), but either somebody forgot to write a good punchline for him, or he forgot to deliver that line like it was a punchline, because it was met with 5 seconds of awkward silences and glances around the ring, and then somebody finally cued up Vince's music. Bischoff slinked away to contemplate what he'd do tonight, while Vince/Shane pose, and while the announcers speculate on what a wild night we could be in for, starting right after these....


Shawn Michaels vs. Carlito Cool

The pretext here -- as explained in a pre-taped promo by Carlito aired during his entrance, and then expanded upon by announcers -- is that Shawn "let RAW down" and if Carlito had been Team Captain, RAW would have won. This leads to all kinds of logic-defying exchanges among the announcers, with Coach trying to find some way to take Carlito's side without belittling Shawn's 1-on-3 effort against SD!, and Joey loving every second of getting to shove Coach's stupid, internally-inconsistent nonsense back in his face. [Joey: "(was explaining some psychological element of the storyline of RAW vs. SD! that Coach was simply not grasping or agreeing with)" / Coach: "You know Joey, why don't you just stick to play-by-play?"" / Joey: "I would, if I had a color analyst here in the booth with me, Coach."] Lawler was actually the relatively-on-task voice of reason at times. Funny, in a way, but I also just think that every week Coach shows ass in these kinds of "he just said something that another announcer had to correct for him" ways, it's just more and more evidence that Coach needs to go back to excelling as a bit-part heel lackey to Bischoff, and we need a 2-man booth.

Match starts with a face-to-face staredown, but then Carlito just sucker-punches Shawn out of nowhere. Shawn comes back at him, and Carlito spits in his face, and from there, the brawl is on. Carlito immediately takes it outside, where he rams Michaels' lower back into the ringside barricade. Back in the ring, Carlito follows up with his fancy new backbreaker (which, FYI, I just saw on Impact recently; I'm not saying Carlito invented it, but I am saying I don't remember seeing it on TNA till Carlito started using it). The Point of Emphasis: obviously, Carlito is working the Surgically Reconstructed lower back of HBK. Joey actually does, this time, do a nicely understated job of mentioning this is a common and sound strategy used by many Shawn Michaels' opponents, because of Shawn's injury history.

This carries on for several minutes (to the point where the announcers are amazed at how Carlito is "dominating" Michaels, and is clearly ahead on points, but that you can't fault Michaels if he's still spent after his gutsy showing at the PPV). I think Carlito did sneak an over-long side-headlock in there, but this was actually pretty quick-paced. Carlito even busted out some moves that seemed kifed straight out of the HBK Playbook (including a slingshot plancha and a reverse-cross-body out of an Irish Whip). 

But Michaels is tenacious, and Carlito can't put him away. It's feeling like it might be time for Shawn to start a rally, and the Heartbreak Kid is happy to comply... about 10 minutes in, Michaels comes off an Irish Whip and hits Carlito with the Flying Burrito. As it inevitably is, that's followed by the Kip Up. Except: there are complications. On the kip up, Michaels left knee buckled. He tries to put weight on it, but can't, so he bails out of the ring. The ref goes out with Shawn to see what's wrong, but while they're talking, Carlito baseball slides Shawn, sending him to the floor. The ref checks again on Michaels, who is clutching at the knee, and then tells Carlito to back off till we assess the situation further. And it's an assessment that will be made while we're all looking at....


Back, and Carlito's dominating, still working the knee. No "during the break" clips, because the announcers want to assure us that the ONLY way to see what we missed is by watching the action on WWE.com during the commercials. No sale, dum dums; first, you figure out how to make your 90 minutes of broadcast time non-stop entertaining again, THEN you can ask us to go out of our way to see what you're doing during the 30 minutes of ad break time.

The story here for the second part of the match is that Michaels' knee is so badly damaged that he can't hardly do anything offensively. He may get a quick flurry of punches or chops here and there, but nothing fancier than that, and Carlito's always one kick to the leg away from regaining control. Finally, they do a spot where Michaels is so slow ascending the turnbuckles for a Moonsault that Carlito's able to catch him and crotch him on the top rope, instead. [Coach: "You know, I think maybe Carlito inadvertently helped Michaels there, because if Michaels had hit the moonsault, it probably would have hurt his knee even more." / Joey: "Jesus Christ, Coach, it's hard enough trying to explain the sometimes-dodgy internal logic of wrestling psychology, so please don't go making it any more difficult by spouting gibberish about Carlito actually HELPING Michaels by crotching him on the top rope." / Coach: "(cowed) Well, I did say Inadvertently. King? Help?"] Carlito went up with Michaels for a superplex, but Michaels fought out of that, and sent Carlito crashing back to the mat. And since Shawn was already two-thirds of the way up at this point, he just went up on more turnbuckle as quickly as he could, and did have time to hit the Macho Man Elbow.

I would just like to suggest that this is probably the longest temporal separation between the Kip Up and the Macho Man Elbow that we've seen in any Michaels match in ages. And I like it; the pacing/psychology was unusual the whole way, and shaking up HBK's Five Moves of Doom contributed to that.

Michaels knee buckled when he went for the Sweet Chin Music, so Carlito hit with a DDT, instead. Two count, and Carlito's frustration gave Michaels time to recover a bit, and worm his way into position for another superkick. Again, the knee buckled. This time, Carlito tried to follow-up with a spinning neck-breaker (I think it's the move he's trying to establish as his finisher), but Michaels countered, then re-countered, and in their jockeying for position, Carlito almost rammed into the referee. Carlito stopped himself in the nick of time, but while he was worrying about that, Michaels had gotten just enough separation and just enough time to load up one last superkick. This time, the knee holds up long enough, and Michaels hits Carlito in the jaw. HBK gets the duke, but his difficulty standing after the match says that he got taken to the limit.

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via pinfall, in about 16-18 minutes. Kind of unusual in that Michaels had almost zero offense until the last 3-4 minutes, and even then, it was spaced out and seemingly impotent because of his "injured" knee. But it made Carlito look damn good, and that's the important thing: Carlito had some sketchy outings over the early fall (including against Michaels), so it's good to see his stretch of confidence-building strong matches continue. No doubt Michaels generalled things here, but Carlito still held up the performance end very well, and hopefully continues to learn a little something new about putting matches together with each passing week. A fun, surprisingly psychological match that actually got the necessary TV time to tell the story it wanted to.

Backstage: Kurt Angle (with Daivari) storm into Eric Bischoff's office. Angle demands justice after being screwed by a SD! Referee at Survivor Series. He says he can't believe Bischoff let that happen, and he can't believe the fans all cheered for it (ummm, Kurt?), and that if Bischoff doesn't do something to set things right, Angle will make what the Boogeyman did to him at the PPV look like child's play. Hooooo-kay. So John Cena can't get cheered against Angle, and the solution (for starters) is for Angle to just blithely PRETEND like Cena got raucous cheers for his tainted win? And also to give the fricking Boogeyman ANY kind of rub? Oy.


PPV Hype: Stuff happened at Survivor Series, and we can set it to crappy music and waste 5 minutes of your time with video montages. Unless you already saw Survivor Series and just FF'd. Like I did. It appeared the main hype was regarding the set-up for Big Show/Rey on the SD! special that's happening tonight, and also on the HHH/Flair match.

Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand enters Eric Bischoff's office and asks, "So, do you think you'll be fired tonight?". Bischoff blusters indignantly for a bit first, then realizes this is WAY too topical a question for Maria to have come up with it herself, so he asks who put her up to this. The answer: Shane McMahon thought it'd be funny to see how Bischoff'd react. Bad move. Bischoff's reaction is to tell Maria to get her chesty l'il self out to the ring, because she's going to face Kurt Angle in a match. Maria tries her best to convey "But I'm just a cute dumb girl, not a wrestler," but nobody really seems to be buying it. Bischoff says she'll face Angle next, and it's with the goal of "never having to listen to you ask another stupid question again as long as I live."


Kurt Angle vs. Maria the Mic Stand (Kind Of, But Not Really; But Considering How Stupid Things Got By The End, It Almost Would Have Been Better To Just Do That Match For Real And Be Done With It)

Maria's already in the ring, and that's when Daivari makes his full ring entrance (complete with outstanding Broad Gesturing; we have not had an official this proficient in the Referee Gesturing since Bill Alfonso, circa 1996). BOOOO, says everybody, since there's no way Kurt should need his special referee to beat poor, doe-like Maria.

So another referee comes out, and starts bickering with Daivari. Daivari says he's the assigned ref for all Kurt Angle Matches. The Other Ref (Chad Patton?) does his level best to gesture that it doesn't matter, because all these fans want HIM to ref the match. From the reactions of the fans, it appears they couldn't give a shit either way. Finally, this leads to a referee cat-fight... except Daivari's actually a wrestler, so he gets the better of it, and will be officiating this contest afterall, it seems. With that distractingly over-long and pointless interlude out of the way, Daivari finally indicates it's time to meet our other participant.

Angle makes his ring entrance (still with the annoying beeps? just give it up, dammit; it's lame, and you can probably find even cooler vague ways to tell the fans you wish they'd shut up and just start behaving like they're told to by you, WWE). And then grabs a mic. He says he's a gentleman, and Maria shouldn't be scared. Kurt won't hurt her. This is all just Eric Bischoff's stupid thing, and Kurt would never hurt a woman. All Kurt asks is that he get a hug from Maria, and then it'll be all over.

Maria, displaying an intellect here-to-fore unseen, realizes that she's not married to another wrestler, and thus, Kurt Angle will be unable to be sexually aroused by her supple body pressed enthusiastically against his. So she'll be perfectly safe. Right? Right?!?!

But awwwwww, poor Maria. Kurt's not looking for cheap thrills of the divas, any more, he's just looking for the cheap heat that goes with domestically abusing them. After a brief bearhug, Angle gets a sneer on his face, and he Angle Slams Maria. Again: it appears WWE's idea for how to fix Cena's waning cheers is to try to Character Assassinate Kurt Angle by making him do all kind of out-of-character cheap-heat heel things (like bad-mouth America and beat up girls). But that's not where the problem lies, dummies. And plus, the cheap heat Angle got for slamming Maria wasn't even that enthusiastic. My guess? As bad as it is for a guy to ever physically assault a girl, you'll only get real sympathy from on-lookers if they care about the girl in question. And Maria? Sad to say, but she's done nothing to cause that spark of sympathy; she's just a blank victim-y canvas who's more an annoying impediment to storytelling than a sympathetic character. I compare her plight on RAW to just about everything the character of Kim Bauer ever contributed to the annals of TV history. Can you guess what 4 hours of TV I ended up watching yesterday and last night?

Angle's intending to keep on beating on Maria until -- you guessed it -- John Cena makes the save. Because even if you hate him for being an unfunny, homophobic, petulantly-bratty wigger, you HAVE to cheer for any guy who saves the girl from Evil Kurt Angle! Cena's save seems like it'll be effective until....


Why, he's attacking John Cena. And the crowd? Well, they aren't booing, they're just as confused as I was. Whatever (cheaply-gotten) right WWE might have ton in terms of buidling to another Cena/Angle showdown with the fans backing Cena was undone the second Chris F. Masters appeared and sucked the wind out of everybody's sails. The confused silence continues as Masters and Angle beat on Cena for a few moments.

Then Eric Bischoff appears and says, "Whoa, whoa, whoa, save some for later." Because he's just had a brainstorm. His goal for tonight (uh, I thought his goal was already the thing with Maria?) is to see John Cena lose the WWE Title. So later on, it'll be Cena vs. Angle vs. Masters in a Three-Way, No Disqualification, Submissions Match.

The announcers immediately latch onto the notion that not only is the deck stacked two-on-one against Cena, but he also has never used a submission move in his life, so it's DOUBLY STACKED. Mmmmm, double stack....

I immediately latch onto how desperate and uncreative WWE is if ANOTHER way they've decided on to try to get John Cena to be more universally cheered is to bring the energy level of an ENTIRE MAIN EVENT down by putting Chris F. Masters in it, just to make Cena seem less sucky by comparison. First, we'll ladle all kinds of out-of-character traits onto Kurt Angle to try to make him more hate-able, and in so doing, hamstring his credibility. Then, we'll put Chris F. Masters into a match with Cena/Angle even though his presence there makes no sense, all because NOBODY gives a shit about Masters or would cheer for him instead of Homey the Clown.  GENIUS~!

That's WWE for you: perfecting the art of Subtraction By Addition since 2004.


Moments Ago: Stuff happened, and if you weren't paying attention, we'll show it to you again, repeatedly, and then waste even more time talking about it at the announce table. This week is also seeming to mark the return of RAW's Serious Pacing Issues, with way too much time being wasted on re-hashing what we already saw, and not enough time being spent forging ahead and giving me all-new things to get snarky about so I don't have to snark about things I already snarked. SNARK ATTACK~! I AM SNARKBOY~! YEEAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGHHHHHHHHH~! 

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

Notes from the ring entrances: normally, I'm not one to agree with King, but he had a point about Ashley's pants. Even though that degree of lean-to-the-point-of-being-an-anatomy-class-prop isn't usually my thing, my eyeballs were uncontrollably drawn to exactly the same place as every other male viewer's; the girl may lack a discernable ass, but the alternate illusion she was creating was nevertheless distracting. And Torrie's back. Yay. And she still has her fricking trying-to-be-Paris-Hilton Yap Dog. Memo to WWE: Yap Dogs are so Earlier in 2005 when it comes to fashion accessories for annoying bitches. Paris Hilton now has a Pet Monkey, instead. Please change with the times, WWE, even if only because a fricking monkey would make everything funnier (they are only one notch below midgets on the comedy scale). Even Torrie and Boobies might be welcome on my TV if there was a monkey making their lives a living hell.

Match is nothing fancy, but it tells its story. Mickie insists on starting for her team, and has good success aganst Torrie Wilson for a bit. Nothing fancy, but she got the job done. Mickie decides to tag in Ashley, and here's where things got sticky: Ashley was quickly caught in the wrong part of town, and was double teamed by Candice and Torrie for a bit. Competently enough done, but the sense of a True Heel Beatdown didn't commence until Victoria saw fit to finally take over and show her partners how bidness is taken care of.

Victoria went to town on Ashley, working some suplexes and stuff that seemed to be targeting the back. But there wasn't really long enough for this to be a concerted attack. When Victoria whiffed on a somersault legdrop, Ashley managed to make it to her corner where she wanted to tag in Trish.... but at the last second, Mickie stood on the bottom rope, leaned in, and "stole" the tag. Mickie came in, went spastic on Victoria with all manner of kicks, eventually hit a headscissors takedown on Victoria, and then finished Victoria off with a Stratusfaction Bulldog. Trish came in to stop Torrie and Boobies from coming in to break up the pinfall, but apparently somebody forgot to page Torrie and Boobies to give them their cue. So Trish had to stand around for a couple seconds until she could tackle Torrie, thus allowing the pinfall to proceed.

Your Winners: Trish, Mickie, and Ashley, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes or so. Nothing special, but nothing sloppy. The important thing here is the story of Mickie stealing the spotlight, to the point of Trish never even tagging in.

After the Match: Trish's music played, and Mickie celebrated with Trish's belt. For a few moments. Until she caught Trish giving her a baffled look. Mickie gave Trish back the belt. Trishley seemed content to celebrate the win betwixt themselves, but Mickie was not to be excluded. Finally: a big, happy, three-way hug.  I know what many of you are thinking: but it's *still* not leading to a red hot lesbian dog-pile, losers.


Backstage: Shane McMahon enters Eric Bischoff's office. He chummily asks "So, you gonna accomplish your goal tonight?". Bischoff is confident he will. And further, he's glad to see Shane, cuz there's something he's been wanting to get off his chest since earlier. He's glad Shane was so honest about looking forward to seeing him gone, and he wants to repay that with some honesty of his own: because he thinks Shane McMahon is nothing but a member of the "Lucky Sperm Club." Ummmm.... ewwwww? I mean, I think we all know what he means, but wouldn't there have been a better way to convey it? Why must all roads always lead back to Vince McMahon's massive genitals or his potent Man Juice? It's like WWE stretches for any opportunity to go there.... gee, I wonder why? Shane, of course, takes exception to the comment, and pins Bischoff up against a wall to tell him to never disrespect him or his family, because this business belongs to his family. Then he mockingly dusts Bischoff off, and points to his watch, indicating time's a-wastin' away. Ummm, so if that segment accomplished anything, it was lost on me. It wasn't a "moments ago" replay, precisely, but it amounted to the same thing of just rehashing stuff we already knew from earlier in the show. Just with an added reference to Vince McMahon's sperm. Neeee haawwwww!

Elsewhere Backstage: Kurt Angle and Daivari are plotting strategy for later on tonight. Basically: as soon as Angle locks on any submission hold, Daivari is gonna call for the bell. Daivari: "Cena will submit before he even knows he's in the hold." That's exactly what Kurt wants to hear. But it's not what (ugh) Chris F. Masters wants to hear. Somebody forgot to clue Masters in on the fact that he stands zero chance of winning the WWE Title, and so he's offended that Kurt and Daivari are plotting to steal the match like this. But Master is only 98% as dumb as he looks, because it turns out he saw this coming. So he went over everybody's head, all the way to Vince McMahon, and asked for a favor. And you know Vince: he can't say no to the Glossed Up Body Builder Type. So Daivari is OUT as referee in tonight's main event. He shall be replaced by an Impartial Referee, and when all's said and done, the best man shall win, and it will be Chris F. Masters. Pardon the wrestling world, CFM, while we choke back the laughter. And pardon the monkeys in the truck as they decide to save us all from listening to some inane anti-logic by cutting Coach's summary of what we just saw off in favor of....


Self-Congratulatory Hype: WWE is still apparently quite huge overseas. Good for them. Doesn't mean I want to see 3 minutes of the euro-trash equivalent of rednecks professing their love of wrestling. FF. 

Shelton Benjamin vs. Trevor Murdoch (Very Special "Anything To Insure This Second Hour Blows Chucks" Match)

So it's official: per the commentary team, Murdoch and Cade are broken up and are going their separate ways. I'd joke, "Gee, I wonder which of the two WWE projects out as the single star and which one is 3 months away from being released," except that... well, just wait for the end of this match.

Shelton comes out fast, and gets the only real sweet move of the match (a top-rope-to-floor version of his hooking clothesline; whoa), but once the match goes back into the ring, Murdoch takes over by chopping Shelton's leg out from under him on on of his attempt leap-frog-to-the-top-rope moves. Very basic punchy-stompy then, as Murdoch controls about 90 seconds. Then Shelton starts a comeback, mostly clotheslines and shoulder tackles off the ropes.

Shelton eventually goes up top for the regular version of his hooking clothesline, but Murdoch dodges it, and immediately hits a flat-liner. Shelton kicks out and goes for an Atomic Sunset Flip, but Murdoch dodges. Still only gets a two. Shelton goes for a Stinger Splash in the corner, but instead, Murdoch grabs his tights, and drags Shelton face first into the middle turnbuckle. Then he rolls Shelton up, grabs a handful of tights and.... that's it? Yep. Poor Shelton.

Your Winner: Trevor Murdoch, via pinfall, in about 3 minutes. I officially have no idea what's going on here. Shelton goes from jobbing to Matt Striker and Kerwin White, to being the highlight of RAW and taking Kurt Angle to the limit the past two weeks, and now he's back to jobbing to an unestablished singles wrestler in a short, mostly-one-sided match. "More Shelton! Less Masters!" my fricking ass....


Debut of "The Cutting Edge": Very Special No-Edge/No-Lita Edition

So WWE hyped that Triple H would be the guest on the debut of Edge's new talk show. Instead: here's HHH coming out alone to talk at us. Edge, that jerk, has left us at the mercy of the Cerebral Windbag.

And out of the gates, this is not shaping up as one of HHH's better verbal efforts. He's armed with nothing fresh, nothing interesting. Just a lame bit of banter about how he truly is a compassionate man for making sure Flair landed in Detroit's finest hospital after their PPV match, how he made sure Flair was in the finest suite, how he made sure Flair had a plasmatron TV hooked up to the USA Network, because he was that sure Flair would want to tune in and watch RAW. 

You know Trips, if Flair tuned in, my guess is that it didn't take too long after the end of that Michaels/Carlito match for him to ask for his knock-out dosage of morphine, cuz he was ready for beddy-bye time.

But as the live audience continues to not hang on Hunter's any word, he continues with his little prepared bit of long-winded storytelling. He wants Flair to get up real close to the TV and listen up: because HHH wants to tell him to just "stay down." And then he launches into about 2 and a half minutes of synonyms for the concept of "stay down." We get it, Hunter. And no matter how whacked out on pain-killers our fictional version of Hospitalized Ric Flair is, I think he got it, too.

Then HHH hits the punchline which is, "When you get out of the hospital, just don't come back here. You're not wanted." This was supposed to be a money line, with the crowd booing lustily. They didn't bother. HHH tried to goose them by exhorting, "Oh, you people have a problem with that?" They still didn't. "I said, you people have a problem with that?".... he's like a fricking cheerleader, begging the two dozen fans at a women's college basketball game to do something other than sit there, mutely. Not very becoming. But that's what happens when you send a guy out in front of a live audience with predictable third-rate material.

Trips decides after three exhortations that it's not gonna get any louder in here, so he just moves on. Sadly, his remaining scripted comments were all predicated on the notion that he'd be getting booed right now, instead of met with dead silence. "You people can run me down and boo me, but you're just jealous because I did what none of you would have had the guts to do." Or, "You people can sit out there and join a loud angry mob, knowing you're still safely anonymous." Hell, Hunter, they can also sit out there and be a part of a quiet, disinterested mob, too. Good lord is this ever dying on the table.

Finally, HHH says something along the lines of "All you people will just have to accept it because there is no man alive who will step up and try to stop me." And with that, we cue the Big Show's music. Well: this might not exactly be the Rock/Hogan showdown, but at least Big Show appearing is something a bit surprising...

Show says he's known HHH for a long time, and let a lot of things slide, but after what HHH did to Flair, that's over. Show wants HHH to know "You're a piece of shit." Yay for swearing! Show says HHH might think he's tough, but he needs a sledgehammer to put somebody down; Show just needs his own two hands. Less of a Yay for relatively stilted cliches! So, what Big Show wants to know: is Triple H tough enough to fight him, right now? Still less of a Yay, because HHH is in a suit and clearly won't be wrestling now, which means this is all just a big tease for some later date, so the crowd doesn't really care one way or the other.

And sure enough, HHH backs off and pusses out. But just like his promo took about 5 minutes to convey 45 seconds worth of content, HHH backs off VERY SLOWWWWWWWWWLLLY, and takes about 3 minutes to convey about 30 seconds with of chickenshittidue, while Big Show looks menacing in the ring, and the announcers marvel at HHH actually backing down from a challenge.

Good lord, it couldn't have just been me, could it? That really *did* take roughly forever to make the journey to going absolutely nowhere, right?


Big Show and Kane vs. The Lovely Miss Tomko and Gene Snitsky (Tag Title Match)

Match is joined in progress, since Show apparently never left the ring, and the other three filtered in during the break. Kane is in control, but is quickly the victim of a double-team, which results in about 30 seconds of Snitsky and Tomko in command. Then Kane takes Tomko down with a shoulder tackle, and makes the tag to Big Show.

Show cleans house, Kane joins in long enough to hit a top rope clothesline on Tomko, and then help Snitsky powder out by tossing him over the top rope. Big Show hits the chokeslam on Tomko. And that's that.

Your Winners: Big Show and Kane, via pinfall, in an indeterminate amount of time. But it was easily less than 2 minutes if you started the clock after the end of the commercial break. One-sided and utterly pointless, except as a way to build up Show if he's heading into a feud with HHH. Hope you like squash. (I, myself, don't. Which is why I was happy that this was the first year EVER when my mom didn't make it for Thanksgiving. Yes, even as a grown adult, I am forced to eat my vegetables if they are on the table. Also: for the first Thanksgiving in a long time, mom relented and just made Hungry Jacks instead of real mashed potatoes... because, despite my normally discerning and refined tastes, something horrible must have happened to me in my childhood, and I became convinced that mashed taters only tasted right if they came out of a box. Same with macaroni and cheese. Have I rambled long enough so that the section for this match looks respectably-long, despite it being oh-so-short-and-sucky? I think so.... morale of this digression: Best Thanksgiving EVER!)


John Cena vs. Kurt Angle vs. Chris F. Masters (Three-Way, No DQ Submission Match for the WWE Title)

Q: OK, so Daivari won't be the ref, but why wouldn't you at least have him accompany Angle to the ring, where he could be a nuisance and help create some additional shenanigans and crowd interest in a No DQ Match? A: Because that would make booking the lame finish WWE wants to do even more complicated.

We get an attempted jump-start, as Cena -- despite being wounded in the earlier 2-on-1 attack -- sprints to the ring and goes after Masters. Predictably, this backfires, and Angle joins in the fray, and for about 2 minutes, it's a two-on-one thrashing for Cena. You know, the crowd might have been reacting reverse of what you wanted if this was a straight Cena/Angle match, but at least they'd be REACTING, WWE. With Masters in there, it seems the main emotion from the crowd is apathy.

Things get no better when Angle finally turns on Masters during a pause when Cena was down and out. Crowd can't get too fired up about the Cheap Heat Heel taking on the Heel That Has Generated Absolutely No Crowd Interest At Any Point In His 10 Months On TV. Cheap Heat Heel gets the better of it, and Angle tosses Masters out of the ring. Able to focus on Cena, the crowd actually sees something they recognize as A Match-Up They Care About. Or at the very least, the anti-Cena crowd finally get a chance to vocalize their feelings, because while Angle was messing around with Masters, Cena was recovering, and he briefly goes on a rally against Angle. Boo that man! Just not too loudly, yet.

Angle finally retakes control, and works his way into an ankle lock. Cena's fighting it, but it doesn't seem like he'll be able to escape. Cue CFM, who comes up behind Kurt and snatches the full nelson. Cena just sort of powders out. For what felt like 3 goddamned minutes. Leaving the crowd to once again try to figure out what part of Cheap Heat Heel and Nobody Gives A Shit Heel they're supposed to care about, while Angle languishes in the shitty full nelson. Riveting television, he said sarcastically.

The funniest part is, once Cena FINALLY gets his ass in gear and makes the save.... the crowd seems to realize that the one guy they REALLY don't like is Cena. Cena saves Angle from the full nelson, and starts going back and forth with CFM... and we all know Masters' track record in terms of engendering any kind of credibility of genuine fan interest. Which made it all the more tragically hilarious when the crowd starts up the loudest chant of the match right here: with Cena going to town on Masters, we hear "Cena Sucks, Cena Sucks." Hoh boy, it's even worse than I thought. Cena has forced fans to side with Chris F. Masters.... I'm an avowed critic of Homey the Clown's on-screen presentation, but not even *I* can endorse going that far, Cleveland.

The Cena/Masters exchange ultimately ends up with Cena in a full nelson of his own. And once again, we sit in this unconvincing finisher for what's simply way too long considering how completely un-credible a champion Masters would make, and thus, there is no real sense of drama with any but the densest of fan that Masters might make somebody submit. Finally, it's Kurt's turn to make a save, which he does, and he manages to out-wrestle Masters in a brief flurry, resulting in an ankle lock.

Cena breaks that up, and for the second time, we get an extended Angle/Cena sequence, this time with Cena 100% in control, and this time, with the crowd REALLY revving up its booing. Cena gets to the part where he wants to do the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Masters intercepts him with a clothesline. And kids: that might be the first, only, and loudest babyface pop that Chris F. Masters ever gets. Except from the squeeeeeeeeeeee'ing fangrrrrrrrls; but their wails of agony over the demise of their Pretend TV Boyfriend were definitely drowned out by cheers of satisfaction that, for at least one week, we will not be subjected to one of the gayer moves in pro wrestling.

At this point, Kurt Angle realized "Oh shit, that's right, this is no DQ. We could be having a WAY more fun match, instead of sitting around for 3 minutes at a stretch in shitty full nelsons!".... so he goes out and grabs a chair. So of course, just as soon as they finally start looking like the match might get interesting: it's actually 20 seconds from being over.

Angle orders Masters to hoist Cena back to his feet and hold him up so Angle can hit him with a chair. Instead, when Angle comes in with the chair, Cena raises his feet and boots the chair back into Angle's head, causing Kurt to tumble out of the ring. Then, with absolutely no offensive move or transition, Cena is simply released from Masters' clutches, and Masters stands around, and waits for Cena to go fetch the chair. Then, as the crowd boos MIGHTILY, Cena bashes Masters with the chair twice, and then locks in what could charitably be called "Something of an STF." Masters taps.

Your Winner: John Cena, via submission, in maybe 9-10 minutes. The thought process that led to booking this match was baffling, and although I'm sure it came as a surprise to those who thought it The Perfect Idea For Saving John Cena, I'm not shocked at all that the plan again back-fired. WWE's mindset appears to be that the problem with Cena is somehow related to his heel opposition. But this finally proves it once and for all: it's not the opposition that matters. I mean, yes, there is smark love for Kurt Angle. But NOBODY has ANY love for Chris F. Masters, and yet the loudest boos of the night came as Cena destroyed Masters with a chair en route to getting a victory. Between the crowd silence, the interminable full nelsons, and the baffling lack of using the No DQ Gimmick until the last 30 seconds (SERIOUSLY, why not spice things up more? Daivari should have been out there, and chairs, tables, title belts, and lots of other objects should have been in play; not to mention why the hell, with the stakes so high, would Eric Bischoff not show up to put his two cents in? the booking here was truly frustrating and uncreative), this was about as under-performing and anti-climactic a main event as I could imagine. Only the last 2 minutes or so (after Cena saved Masters from the ankle lock) had anything resembling compelling drama or cohesive fast-paced action. And it was still the kind of bizzaroworld action and drama that underscores who screwed up things are with regards to Cena's character and on-going title reign.

After the Match: we get a cut to the backstage area, where Shane and Vince McMahon are watching the show on TV. Shane asks, "What do you think, pops?". Vince says, "It looks like next week, we take out the trash." Christ, fellas, after this week's show, I sure hope you don't think it'll all fit in one dumpster....

After the After the Match: back out into the arena where the story *I* see is Angle back up in the ring, staring bullets into John Cena as Cena slinks away.... Angle's story is that once again he was in a match with Cena, once again, he didn't get beaten, and yet, he's STILL no the champion. Cena is 0-for-the-world in terms of beating Angle cleanly. Of course, instead of talking about this, the announcers spend the final 2 minutes of posing and replay footage mostly just talking about how super-awesome John Cena is, and how his win now means that next week, Eric Bischoff is gonna get fired. Because if anything will get fans fired up to tune in again next week, it's 90 seconds of assuring us that -- for maybe the 5th or 6th time -- Vince McMahon will fire Eric Bischoff next week. Wheee. 


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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