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OO RAW RECAP
Christmas in Kabul
December 20, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

So the temperature at showtime in Afghanistan was 46 degrees? Well, the temperature in Dayton at the conclusion of the UD/Florida A&M game was 1 degree. ONE measly degree. And let's just say you feel it when you're a cheap bastard who'd rather walk a half mile than pay for parking.
 
So although WWE tried to sell the Afghan weather as yet another aspect to the gutsy selflessness of their performers, I wasn't buying it. Tell me about the cramped quarters, the lack of sleep, the shitty food, and the constant risk to life and limb... but don't keep harping on 46 degrees to a man who needed half your damned show to get his core temperature back up to normal.

 
Whether or not I did the cliched thing and actually used a couple snifters of warm brandy to accomplish this is for me to know and you to try to figure out based on how much detail I remember to put into the recap.

Well, actually, that's not fair, either. Under any circumstances, this would not be a show that would rate a full, detailed recap. There was only one match over four minutes, only really one match that had the kind of flow and action that necessitates any play-by-play or storytelling. The rest of the show was all just vignettes of WWE wrestlers interacting with the troops.

And while that's a nice thing that they do, and while it might be a bit of a patriotic boost to some viewers or a plain old simple Happy Christmas Story to see our men and women getting a bit of joy interjected into their lives by WWE, it's not exactly something that lends itself to anything but the briefest, least sarcastic, unsnarky summaries when you're doing a recap.

Don't know if it was really an "entertaining" show, from the wrestling fan perspective.... but as always, this annual trip made for a UNIQUE show. Let's see how we do trying to turn it into a Recap that is still up to OO Standards...

Cold Open: the "gates" open at the outdoor venue where the show is taking place. Literally DOZENS of service men and women showed up to take place in this touching Sprint Towards The Camera. Once the herd for the staged shot started to thin, we segued directly into...

Music Video: an opening voice-over indicates this is WWE's Tribute to the Troops, wasting nary an opportunity to adjectivally fellate WWE for being the only piece of Americana with the BALLS to visit the front lines in Afghanistan. And then, as the voice-over wrapped up, the opposite of BALLS.... because I fucking SWEAR that sounds like goddamned Creed again. I got in trouble almost exactly one year ago when I swore up and down that the Armageddon Theme Song could NOT be Creed, because they were long-since broken up... but I was wrong because they had a Greatest Hits Record out that featured a previously unreleased track. Unless my ears deceive me, Creed is like a fricking cockroach. They will not die.

No standard theme/pyro/etc., and we're taped in from the outskirts of Kabul, Afghanistan, at Camp Somethingorother. Right out of the gates, Joey Styles admits that he and King (no Coach!) are doing voiceovers from the safety and comfort of WWE Studios. But then throughout the show, King would screw up and try to act like they were really there, live in Afghanistan. Attention span of a gnat, has Jerry Lawler. Also, Joey and Lawler were frequently in "We think we're talking to an all new audience" mode, which if you've been following along recently, gets on my nerves. Look, WWE, I know you promoted this show heavily outside of the usual mediums and might think that for some reason the CNBC crowd will be tuning in tonight... but don't coach your announcers to be so patronizing; it annoys us existing wrestling fans, and I think even new viewers with the intelligence of house plants can figure out the basic appeal of the form of pro wrestling without having it presented to them as if they are second graders, OK?
 
Somebody Just Give Vince McMahon a Cookie, Already...

So to open up this very special show, we are obligated to pay homage to WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. Vince powerwalks his way to the ring, while Joey and Lawler debate whether it should be called a swagger. Nope, guys, it shouldn't. Swagger is about attitude, having a "who cares what you think, I RULE" type of confidence. What Vince McMahon does when walking to the ring is nothing more than an increasingly-silly bit of physical comedy.

Vince wastes no time painting himself as not just the savior of the American Troops, but also as the rebellious counter-balance to a Jew-run Liberal Media. Or something. I'm serious, he was REALLY rambling in the most inane and ill-informed of fashions, almost like he was auditioning for his own braincell-killing punditry show on MSNBC, where idiots spend 60 minutes shouting back and forth at each other without making a single logical, cogent point. And the only people dumber than the people hosting those shows are the ones who watch them and get wrapped up in the "debates." I? Am not one of those people, so Vince's rhetoric gets a big old No Sale from me.

But after a tepid initial reaction to Vince's "the rest of America has forgotten you, and the liberal media won't tell your story, but WWE is here to save the day" speech, the troops eventually gave Vince the "USA, USA" speech that I'm assuming he wanted to be forthcoming sooner. These guys and girls are fighting a WAR against people with guns and missiles and land mines, Vince. I don't think they give a shit if you want to mythify yourself into some noble crusader in a "war" against liberal-media-types. Let's just say that I think Vince invented a villain to begin with... and then even if you accept that fabricated villain as real, WWE and Vince McMahon lack anything resembling the credibility or gravitas necessary to be the entity that smites that villain. It was the same thing that made John Cena's patriotic rhetoric the week before so tacked-on and unconvincing, but amplified about 10 times by an over-powering taint of self-promotion. There's simply nothing genuine-feeling about the past 2 weeks of flag-waving. It feels ladled on, superfluous, and like an attempt to just press the simplest of buttons.

But I digress. Anytime I manage to sneak two of my favorite current pet words (which ones are they?) into a single paragraph right at the start of a recap, I'm probably shooting my wad too soon. Back on task...

Vince also has a few actual announcements about tonight's show to make, as well. When he concludes his self-aggrandizing portion of the promo, he announces that Santa Claus will be arriving "within the hour." Yay? And then Vince gets the level of the room a lot better when he announces that it's time for our National Anthem, and introduces the fetchingly-attired Lillian Garcia. I mean, I know if you give *me* the choice, and somebody's gonna be sneaking into my house at night to give me a well-deserved present from my naughty wishlist, I'd rather it be Lillian than some fat dude... and I haven't even been trapped 10,000 miles away from home and exclusively in the company of other men for the past however many months. Methinks Vince overestimates the appeal of Santa to these troops...

Anyway, Lillian fires up the old "Star Spangled Banner," and you know she nailed it. Unlike Subway, she doubled the Ham on "Flag was still there," and did so free of charge. "USA, USA," indeed.

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Video Package: WWE stars with injured troops and their families in Germany before they moved on to Afghanistan.

Big Show vs. Carlito Cool

Big Show got a huge pop, and seemed to be one of the troops' favorites. From the various clips, it did seem like he was going above and beyond the call in terms of interacting with them, so it's no wonder.

Match was nothing. Carlito tried to punch away on Show, but Show no sold. So Carlito ducked outside to regroup. Carlito tried to get back into the ring, but Show was coming over towards him. So Carlito yanked Show's throat down across the top rope in a hangman-like move. Carlito got cocky and tried to hit a move from the top rope. Instead, Show grabbed him out of the air by the throat and chokeslammed him. Thanks for playing, Carlito.

Your Winner: Big Show, via pinfall, in less than 1 minute. Not good, but crowd-pleasing. I would conservatively estimate that the ring entrances and Show's post match hand-slapping and celebrating with the troops took five times longer than the match itself, and the assembled fans didn't seem to mind.

Video Package: Shawn Michaels, Shelton Benjamin, and John Cena hung out with the guys who find and explode land mines. I would have been disappointed if this didn't end in a Big Boom, and they did not disappoint: from the safety of a bunker, they watched as the crew exploded a mine. Any other episode, and I could work in a really funny Princess Di riff, here, I'm sure... but a little decorum, no?

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Double Trouble 2: Claus vs. Claus

We return from break to find the Coach standing in the center of the ring (oh, so *that* is why he isn't announcing; and again, after a one-week tease, I guess that means he'll return to his position alongside Joey and Lawler next week?)... and he's here to welcome Santa Claus.

Santa is dressed all in camo, but still has the beard and wig on. He's also about 6'3" and not fat. And the second he opens his mouth, it's pretty obviously JBL. But you're not supposed to have that figured out till much, much later.

Santa says that he can't believe he's being forced to visit such a place. "If this place were a lot better, then it would suck." Ha? He complained about the food and having to use port-o-potties. The experience for Santa has been so awful that he's going to cancel Christmas in Afghanistan. And he's canceling New Years, St. Patrick's Day, the Fourth of July, and a laundry list of other holidays that I'm PRETTY sure included Arbor Day. BOO! And on top of that, Santa is canceling all leave. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO~!~!~!~! Wow, this Santa sure knows how to get the cheap heat.

Finally, Santa declares he needs beer and his reindeer need their sipping champagne, so he's getting the hell out of "Rehabistan" (now that gets a genuine "HA!"). Enjoy your not-Christmas and the rest of your canceled holidays, losers!

Except.... here's another Santa. And he's decked out in red velvet, and packing quite the belly on him, just like Santa should. Once in the ring, Good Santa wastes no time revealing his real identity, as he quickly squeezes in a mention of how great it is to be right here. In Camp Whatsitsname, Afghanistan. Joey: "Did Santa just resort to a Cheap Pop?". Yes, Joseph, he did.

Good Santa notices that there seems to be a bit of a dilemma here. And since there cannot be two Santas, there's only one thing to do about it. Good Santa challenges Bad Santa to a match. A very special match. A "No Ho-Ho-Holds Barred" Match. Bad Santa sneaks in a cheap and easy line about how the only ho-ho-ho's on this trip are the WWE divas. Good Santa will not be distracted though. He wants a match where "anything go-ho-ho-ho-hoes," and he wants it now. Bad Santa finally says "OK," and Coach says "then let's get a ref out here," cuz it's time for....

Good Santa vs. Bad Santa (No Ho-Ho-Holds Barred Match)

While we're attempting to get things in order, Bad Santa takes advantage of the impromptu-ness of the match by sneak attacking Good Santa. Within the opening 10 seconds of the match, Good Santa's wig and beard (and belly-stuffing) fall off to reveal Mick Foley. Who Joey dubs "Jolly Old Saint Mick." Bad Santa, meantime, has lost his hat, but not his beard, so the announcers are still pretending to not know who he is. D'oh.

Foley Claus is a master of the brawling, however, and quickly regains the edge by unloading with his giant sack right in Bad Santa's face. [Ahem. Where'd I put that damned decorum again?] Good Santa continues assaulting Bad Santa with his Giant Sack for a few moments more until finally Bad Santa's beard comes off and we can finally admit that it's JBL. Yay! Except also: BOO, because Joey then earnestly tries to convince us that JBL "snuck on board and stowed away on" the RAW-only flight over to Afghanistan. Uh huh.

Mick starts getting a little carried away, and when he pulls a pillow out of his Giant Sack, and hits JBL with it. And so we learn a dark secret of Mick Foley's: he's apparently always wanted to be in a lingerie pillow fight. JBL plays a bit of possum while Foley showboats with his devastating pillow of doom. But when Foley comes back for more Extreme Pillow Violence, JBL boots him in the head, and strings together a few other moves. 

Then JBL tries for the Clothesline From Hell, but Foley ducks and counters it immediately with a double-arm DDT. Into the Santa Pants goes Foley, and out comes a sock. Foley applies Mr. Socko to JBL, and JBL falls backwards. And remember kids: the Mandible Sock is NOT a submission move... it actually paralyzes the victim by causing severe trauma to the tender nerve directly under the tongue. It was developed by an Actual Medical Doctor, so this must be true. Thus: when JBL fell backwards, he was unable to move, and was pinned.

Your Winner: Mick Foley, via pinfall, in maybe 2 minutes, tops. Not much as a wrestling match, but in terms of fun fluffery, this is a pretty good blueprint for how to do it: obnoxious heel, beloved babyface, a bit of Holiday Flavor, and a happy ending. During Mick's (again lengthy, longer than the match itself) celebration, they cut to a group of gruff, bad-ass looking dudes sitting on a tank on the outskirts of the crowd. Joey declared those are the Polish Special Forces. Which shouldn't give me the giggles, but it did.

Video Package: John Cena and Trish Stratus meet with the Afghan media. Cena comes off as a big fan of Cultural Imperialism, as he's proud not just to be bringing Americana to the American troops, but also to the Afghan locals who I'm sure crave nothing more. Except maybe food. Shelter. Safety from roving warlords and insurgents. Basic cable TV so they know who the fuck John Cena even is when he heroically rides in to save them from their bling-free squalor. [I know John Cena, the Real Guy, is not a wigger douchebag and is a good cat, but WWE kinda screwed him on the clip selection here.] Trish comes off as a big fan of actually knowing about some local issues, and talks about how gratifying it is to be seeing all the new opportunities for Afghan girls and young women to get educations and contribute to society that she knows didn't exist three years ago.

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Video Package: Ummm, this kinda looked like the "Rita Cosby Rebound." And even though I only saw 10 minutes of those two shows she did, I've seen enough of her the last month to put her pretty high on my "Gives Me the Gripes" List (she's not quite Larry Zbyzsko, but she's close)... and so thus: I don't recap recaps. This was REALLY, really long, too. At least 6 minutes. So FF.

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Shelton Benjamin vs. Gene Snitsky

Holy christ.... Snitsky's letting the goatee roam free tonight. No braiding or whatever it is he usually does. Throw in the brisk Afghan breeze, and that thing is out of control! It's halfway down to his waist. Speaking of which, I'm not usually one to give a shit about the cosmetic appearances of large, muscley men... but Snitsky really is looking softer around said waist (and smaller in the arms/shoulders) than I remember. Which I mention only because it *might* be the first sign that guys (at least some of them) are taking this drug testing thing seriously. And I do honestly consider that to be a good thing. Then again: Snitsky's still-prodigious back acne might tell another story. I dunno.

I just know I have to fill up space because once again this is a match in the 90 second range. Snitsky out-powers Shelton to start; while Shelton's down, the announcers riff on his "losing streak," so I guess we are advancing storylines here tonight. And while Shelton's down, Snitsky unties a turnbuckle pad, exposing the harsh, unforgiving steel underneath.

The turnbuckle surgery took long enough that Shelton was able to recover and go on a bit of a rally. Neckbreaker, lots of punches, and then the top rope hooking clothesline... things are looking good for Shelton. Until he goes for the Stinger Splash (Joey: "Big Splash in the Corner," because heaven forefend that WWE give free publicity away to TNA's Big New Star)... Snitsky dodges the splash, and conveniently enough, that's the corner where Snitsky removed the turnbuckle pad, so Shelton gets a sternum full of steel. A boot to the head later, and Snitsky makes sure Shelton's losing streak continues.

Your Winner: Gene Snitsky, via pinfall, in less than 2 minutes. If you tuned in for wrestling tonight, you're not getting it. And in this match, you also don't get the fun/satisfying fluff that you had in preceding segments, either. But Snitsky didn't fly 13,000 miles to NOT get on TV, so....

Video Package: in Khandahar, one of the last Taliban strongholds has been turned into an officer's club, the "Taliban Tavern." Heh. Apparently, it's quite the popular tourist trap for any troops passing through the area. 

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John Cena vs. Chris F. Masters (Non-Title Match)

Hoh boy. You can't knock these guys for making the trip to Afghanistan, but this is pretty much the anti-dream-match for most US fans, isn't it? I'd be remiss if I didn't note that Chris F. Masters' ring entrance (already a channel-flip-inducing cure for insomnia when staged with full lights and pyro) wasn't downright comical when stripped of the bells and whistles. He still did all the choreography, too. It was hilarious. For the most part, the smaller outdoor venue was a cool change of pace; but for CFM's ring entrance, you suddenly did get the vibe of "delusional hack really over-selling himself to 150 fans at a crap-ass indie show."

Cena was very popular. Probably the #3 fan favorite of the night, behind Big Show and "the Divas." So make that two weeks in a row Cena doesn't get booed on TV! Hometown crowd, character assassination of Kurt Angle, patriotic rhetoric, and a trip to Afghanistan.... that's all it takes to get cheers for Homey the Clown!

Why am I rambling again? Because this *still* bore little-to-no-resemblance to a wrestling match. Opening 2 minutes were just Tests of Strength and then dueling side headlocks. A couple of them applied/reversed quite sloppily and without transitions as I recall. Match picked up a bit when Cena clotheslined Masters to the outside... and out there, the momentum shifted as CFM introduced Cena's head to the steel ringsteps.

But back in the ring, things slowed back down almost immediately. Masters locked in a thrilling front facelock. Whee. This gave the announcers (as part of their "we treating this as though none of you have ever seen wrestling before" behavior) to tell us that John Cena is "quite the accomplished musician" and has "sold nearly half a million records worldwide." Christ. One of those statements might (sadly) be true, but the other is a cosmic joke. 

CFM's move-free move-set segues almost directly from the front face lock to deciding its time to try the shitty full nelson. He actually gets it cinched in. But when Cena start threatening to break the hold with his Superman-like strength, Masters decides to release the hold. But the damage is done, so Master decides to.... to.... to go to the second rope? What the hell? It's OK, though, he doesn't actually add move #4 to his impressive arsenal... instead, he just sort of jumps off and throws his face into John Cena's outstretched boot. Joey teases King that that *might* have been an attempt at a Lawler-esque Fist Drop, but it didn't quite work out.

After eating boot, Masters is quickly planted with a series of John Cena's wacky moves (wacky tackle, wacky power bomb, etc.), and then gets the Five Knuckle Shuffle and the F-U.  Done and done.

Your Winner: John Cena, via pinfall, in 4 minutes flat. Boring as hell to me; I think you could have added up the different moves/holds used (including punches and stomps) and the number would be in the single digits here, and on top of that, there was absolutely no attempt at building any kind of drama or psychology. Then again, to do that, you need longer than 4 minutes. And I guess I'm not exactly begging for more than 4 minutes of CFM, if I can avoid it. Cena winning made the troops happy, though, so I guess that's what counts. Again, a lengthy celebration, but this time, it was about equally as along as the match, instead of dwarfing it.

Music Video: more emotive doucherock, more quick clips and still photos of WWE guys (and girls) hanging out with troops. I think just using your imaginations will pretty much give you the idea here at least as well as I could in less than 100 words.

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Next Week: it's the "RAW You Can't Afford To Miss," because Kurt Angle will making a "Major Shocking Announcement." Oh christ, this is getting dumber before it gets better, isn't it? Kurt's going to announce his plans to defect to France while simultaneously raping Booker T's wife AND masterminding a plot in which Daivari will act as a suicide bomber against American troops in Iraq. I just know it.

If You're Here, You're Wrestling Theatre

Coach is back in the middle of the ring, and this time, he appears to be in his wrestling gear. But he's going to make a show of this only being an interview... so ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the InterContinental Champion Who Is Also On A Massive Losing Streak In The Ring And In Life, Ric Flair.

Flair comes out and Coach puts more of a bad mouth on him. He says this is Flair's farewell tour, that he's a shell of himself, and that he should have stayed down after Survivor Series. But Flair didn't stay down. And now, in the vulnerable state Flair's in, even COACH thinks he can beat the Nature Boy. Oh, reeeeeeaaaalllly?

Flair's intrigued by the veiled offer, and the troops chime in with a mighty "Kick his ass, kick his ass" chant. Coach says it's on, but he just has one request: it has to be for Flair's IC Title. Flair's response? A simple (and apparently-legally-binding) "Whoooo!". So we ride....

Ric Flair vs. Jonathan Coachman (InterContinental Title Match)

Coach gets a Flair-esque eye-rake to start, and goes on a quick offense that consists of nothing but punches and stomps. And then taking his shirt off to choke Flair with it. Bad move, Coach. Because as soon as Flair manages to hit a chop-block, the first thing he does is light up the now-bare chest of the Coach with chops. Then he uppercuts Coach. Then he applies the Figure Four. Fin.

Your Winner: Ric Flair, via submission, in roughly 90 seconds. Again, nothing as a wrestling match, but as satisfying happy-ending fluff for our troops, hey, it works. Coach may suck as an announcer, but he is great as a heat-generating heel patsy, and that's what made this segment work.

Video Package: the WWE guys and girls didn't just stay in the relative safety of Kabul and the big, fancy air base there. They also went out and visited a lot of the front line troops, and took cameras with them.

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Music Video: still MORE doucherock (why are we fighting over oil when what we SHOULD be doing is looking into burning our nation's overwhelming surplus of whiny doucherockers as a form of alternative energy?), and still more clips/stills of various interactions with the troops. Heartwarming, I'm sure, but nothing I can get a foothold on in terms of pointing out recap-worthy moments.

Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand is apparently turning heel for the night, and is walking with her tag team partner Candice Michelle. They are talking strategy about their upcoming match, and then decide to part ways before heading out to the ring. The camera follows Maria, who -- being the cute little illiterate that she is -- makes a beeline for a door that says "DANGER! Do Not Enter! Mines!". Candice returns in just the nick of time to stop Maria from entering. Ha?

Elsewhere Backstage: Trish Stratus and Diva Search Ashley are also in preparations for a tag match, and are getting dressed together. In the same room. Which means not long ago, they were naked. Together. In the same room. OMG LESBIANS~! Or not, losers. And while the other girls are experimenting with lots of red and white, and short skirts with undergarments of varying coverage, Trish is going a whole other route. Tight camo pants with generously-cut Brutus Beefcake-style Side Panel Technology. Which require an absence of undergarments to get the full effect, especially if you're allowing a cameraman to take that slow and lingering a close-up shot of your final cinching-in. And the full effect was had.

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Trish Stratus/Diva Search Ashley vs. Maria the Mic Stand/Candice Michelle

Maria starts for her team against Ashley, and promptly hits move! OMG, a side-headlock take-over. Watch as Maria vapidly cheers her (mostly) unspectacular maneuver! And watch as the crowd sort of cheers along! I think Maria has found her niche, and now more than ever, I wish Nick Dinsmore well because the way to get maximum returns out of Eugene and Maria is to have them packaged together as a cute little comedy act. I've been saying it for damn near 10 months, but seeing Maria's "personality" in the ring in a few matches has me doubly convinced that this could be an entertaining under-card diversion that fans really enjoy.

After her one (1) big move and accompanying celebration, Maria tags out to Boobies McTitsalot, who instantly demands that Ashley tag out and Trish tag in. Trish is happy to comply, and proving that her awesomeness extends even further than I would have guessed, Trish also summons three-plane Air Force Fly-Over to commemorate her tagging in. Faced with the OOur Women's Champ, Boobies suddenly gets a Case Of The Limber Tail. There's a bit of cat and mouse, as Boobies bails out of the ring. Then there's some dueling posing, as Candice tries to out-sexy Trish. But that's a battle in which the only winners are the horny, honry troops. Candice's stalling also includes pandering to the crowd by getting onto a chair and diving into them so they can body surf her around. I guess the troops were well-behaved and only groping at a PG-13 level, since she was willing to do it a couple of times.

The crowd-pleasing stalling finally comes to an end when Trish one-ups Boobies on a sexy-pose, lounging on the ropes. Boobies is furious! But she is also unable to mount an offense against OOur Women's Champ. It should be noted that the aforementioned "Full Effect" of Trish's pants was apparently not quite full, afterall... that is because the act of jumping around the ring for several minutes resulted in the kindest and most thoughtful of Christmas Gifts from Trish to the Male Audience. I guess I *have* been a bit nicer this year than I have in a while.... thank you for the Ass Cleavage, Trisha Claus!

Another amusing spot: Trish got Candice backed up into a corner, and then carefully and methodically brushed Candice's hair out of the way, got a bra strap out of the way, and proceeded to chop the hell out of Boobies'.... um bOObies, I guess. Or at least, the region directly above. Trish's domination continued unabated for several minutes, and to the best of Boobies' ability (no bumps off the ropes, but she took the more basic stuff). At one point, Candice desperately wanted to tag out, but Maria -- in her on-going attempt convince us that Dumb is Cute -- thought Candice was just waving "hi." Again: get her with Eugene, pronto. 

So Candice was left to suffer, but she caught a break when Trish decided she (or possibly her heroically-straining pants) had had enough. Ashley tagged back in. And that was the beginning of the end. I think Ashley maybe hit one additional offensive move, but then when she tried to shoulder-tackle Boobies into a corner, Boobies got out of the way, and turned it into a Schoolgirl Roll-Up. Add in a handful of skimpy underwear, and a helpful up-skirt cam shot, and that's the end of the match.

Your Winners: Candice Michelle and Maria the Mic Stand, via pinfall, in about 5-6  minutes. This was the second longest match of the night, and, I dare say, the second most entertaining. And I say that as a spineless American civilian, lounging in the lap of luxury, with regular weekend access to women, and pretty much on-demand access to internet porn. I can only imagine how much more the guys over there appreciated it. As an added bonus, they really did do a decent job (in the latter half of the match) of approximating a wrestling match, despite the presence of only one Actual Wrestler. So I guess that's the part of it that *I* appreciate more than the poor guys in Afghanistan...

Video Package: no WWE guys.... just troops talking and telling stories about some of their recently-fallen comrades.

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Video Package: although it was extra duty on top of their existing assignments, tons of troops signed up to be on the "stage crew" for the WWE event. That meant setting up the "arena" and the ring, and then getting to fool around inside the ring for a bit. Several of the troops bouncing around in there already looking more coordinated and charismatic than Chris F. Masters. ZING~!

Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H (Boot Camp Match)

The rules of the Boot Camp Match are apparently: (1) No count-outs, (2) No disqualification, and (3) Shawn Michaels must dress like a Gay Soldier to the best of his abilities. And sadly, only #3 was really adhered to (HBK did bust out some local garb, but when making his t-shirt selection, he cut off the sleeves and made it into a belly-shirt, which is really just.... I dunno.... but if you're duplicating a look last used in pro wrestling by Stevie Richards, it's not manly). Despite the other "stipulations," the ref was constantly counting and threatening to DQ and stuff. I didn't quite understand, but credit to King and Joey for pointing out that the ref was frequently behaving illogically, and trying to make it the fault of an incompetent ref, instead of the fault of incompetent planning.

The most basic of back-and-forthy to start. Tie-ups, headlocks, whips into the ropes... some of those exchanges ended up favoring Power (and so HHH would win with a shoulderblock and then into a headlock). Others favored speed (which were invariably won by Michaels hitting a hip toss and turning it into an armbar). This basic formula repeated a few times until one of HHH's shoulderblocks sent Michaels flying out of the ring. 

And even half-a-world away, when one guy is down at ringside and the other is licking his wounds (HHH is really selling the arm) in the ring, it's a perfect time for....

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Back, and just in the nick of time to see Michaels get launched out of the ring again. This time, though, HHH follows, and we end up with both men brawling up to the top of the "entrance aisle." Trips is firmly in control this whole time, and tries to set up for a Pedigree on the steel sta.... I mean ply-wood floor. But Michaels back-drops out of that, and suddenly finds himself in command. The two brawl (slowly) back towards the ring, this time with Michaels in the lead. They stop off to throw each other into the various props, and after 3-4 minutes, end up back at the ring.

The brawling continues at ringside, still with Michaels in control, until HHH dodges and charge, and Michaels crashes into the steel ringpost. Hunter decides it's time to take it back into the ring, now... but after a double-reversey spot, Michaels ends up crashing into the referee. Uh oh. But HHH is on his best behavior, it seems. Because he only goes for a DDT, instead of something naughtier. But with no ref, there's no count. The troops give HHH up to a 5 count, but then a second ref shows up... but his Official Count only gets up to 2 before Michaels kicks out. Are those boos? 

HHH takes issue with the ref for counting slow, or not coming out to the ring fast enough or something. The ref gestures (Broadly) to a patch on his sleeve that apparently makes him an honorary member of some Army unit or another, so HHH better not mess with him. HHH begs off... but then as soon as the second ref turns around to check on the first ref, Trips clocks him from behind. And gets cheered? And "Trip-ul Aitch, Trip-ul Aitch" chants, too. Maybe Michaels' little outfit did more damage to this credibility than I even I thought?

Of course, while HHH is playing with referees, Michaels is getting a chance to recover. So when HHH goes back and picks Michaels up and whips him into the ropes, guess what he gets for his troubles. Go ahead, I know you can do it. Guess.

Flying Burrito.

Kip up.

Macho Man Elbow.

Tune Up the Band.

But Triple H ducks the first attempted Sweet Chin Music. Tries to counter into a Pedigree. This time Michaels counters it with a double-leg takedown. Turns that into a slingshot. HHH eats turnbuckle. Stumbles backwards. And right into a superkick.

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via pinfall, in about 10-12 minutes. Definitely the only "real" match on the night, and I say that with full knowledge that Cena/Masters tried to be a real (if short) match. A solid, though unspectacular, brawl from a "usual week" perspective, but on this unique show, with the nature of all the other matches, this did probably seem a bit more exciting and intense by comparison. A nice "big"-feeling end to the night.

A few thank-yous, replays, and then we see Michaels going out into the crowd to celebrate with the troops for our final image of the show. 

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
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
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
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PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
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?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
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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