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OO RAW RECAP
Tally-Ho! 
January 24, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Chalk another one up in the "so dumb, I can't believe that was allowed on TV" category. Then again, that covers about 95% of the tripe that is broadcast, but trust me, this one is REALLY dumb. 
 
So anyway: right after I finish up with RAW around 11:15 last night, I immediately flip over to the local news, because I want to catch the Sports Segment (more on that in a second), but instead, I've apparently caught some Human Interest Piece. And you know what it's all about? Apparently, it has been proven that January 24 is the most depressing day of the year, complete with the most  

suicides per capita here in America. This, the pundit assures us, is SCIENCE, because January 24 is the perfect convergence of things like (1) shorter days and limited sunlight, (2) cold weather making it impossible to do outside activities, (3) people caving in and giving up on New Year's Resolutions, and (4) all the bills from the holidays starting to show up in the mail. 

This was all done in such a comically-serious deadpan that a FIFTH reason to be depressed was implied. Namely, that if you aren't taking a personal inventory, and aren't Statistically More Depressed on January 24 than you were on January 23 or than you feel like you'll be on January 25, then there's something very, very wrong with you. So if you WEREN'T feeling like today's the most depressed you'll be all year, maybe now this revelation that you're broken will drive you to thoughts of suicide. Who are you to mock SCIENCE by being anything other than miserable today?!? You weirdo.

I wish I were making this up, but I'm not. The deadly-serious pundit also had Helpful Suggestions to make sure that Dayton is immunized against chronic depression: spend time with friends and family and don't be alone, and if you need an activity, maybe rent a funny movie. Again: not making this up. As far as a lengthy 5 minute feature on WHIO-TV in Dayton is concerned, the unrated DVD version of "Anchorman" is the only way to prevent a scientifically forecast rash of suicides on today, Black Tuesday, January 24. Christ.

And in other news, The Rick would like to report that he's about as cheerful as he's been in over a week today. Because the only defense I need against Drama Queen Caliber "Depression" is to hear that the Cincinnati Reds have fired their General Manager and finally appear poised to turn the ship around. When the new owner held a press conference last week and promised "from one fan to all the others" that he was embarrassed by how far the Reds have fallen and that he'd act swiftly to bring Winning Baseball back to Cincinnati, I sort of liked the sounds of that. But I also figured it was mostly rhetoric and lip service. And then 3 days later: BAM, our deadweight GM is fired and the Chief Financial Officer (who under the old ownership had inexplicably been given powers over baseball decisions) was re-assigned to deal with, you know, ONLY FINANCES.

And in the clip from the news conference announcing the firing (the reason I was watching the local news in the first place), the new owner was quite blunt in saying that he knew even before his takeover of the team was OK'ed by the commissioner that he was gonna fire O'Brien, but he just had to wait till today because there's all these silly little rules MLB has about GM hirings/firings. Gotta love it: an owner who is honest with the fans, blunt-but-fair in assessing his employees, and capable of thinking critical thoughts about his own organization. Hmmm: there's probably a wrestling-related observation to be made at this point, but I figure you're all well-trained enough now to make it for yourselves.

But anyway, the point is that whatever science says, I'm not depressed today, not on a day when there is finally reason to hope that the Cincinnati Reds will have a winning season before we elect our next president. I am, however, cripplingly bored here on Monday night, so once again, I figure I'll waste my energy getting as much of this recap done as I can before bed, and then passing the posting-by-lunchtime-on-Tuesday on to you. [Late Addendum to Satireholics: this means I don't have Matt's column yet, but you don't need to fret. I'll post it later this afternoon or evening when I have a chance.]

RAW was far from excellent tonight, but it followed up mostly-logically on last week's excellence, and as such, probably counts as a fine example of Sustainable Episodic TV. Allow me to explain....

The Following Preview Has Been Approved For All Audiences (Provided You Are VERY Easily Amused): An Edge Video Montage opens the show. The twist is that it's in the form of a movie trailer, complete Movie Voice Over Guy uttering (intentionally) lame cliches like "In a world where..." and "You won't believe your eyes when...". The "movie" being promoted in the trailer is titled "On the Edge" -- it's Rated-R, naturally -- and tells the story of a brave young hero winning his first WWE Title, and then going on to the Royal Rumble. Which, by the way, is where we "won't believe our eyes" when we see what Edge does to John Cena. So get your tickets early, folks: "On the Edge" opens this Sunday, only at the Royal Rumble. I'll stop well short of saying this was particularly creative or good; but it was definitely "cute," and sorta fits the Edge Character motif of cockily assuming it's more clever than it really is.

Cold Open: Very Special "Cold Ho-pen" Edition

Straight out of the "trailer," we cut to the arena, where Edge and Lita smugly make their way to the ring. Lita attempts to do some introductioning, but sort of chokes. Literally. Because the thought of Lita with something stuck down her throat is too easy a target to pass up, Lawler makes the requisite and predictable joke. Lita coughs and tries again: "Coming soon to a WrestleMania near you, I give you EDGE!". Wasn't exactly worth all the effort, now, was it?

Edge proceeds to once again hit a lot of the notes that I thought were good ones last week. Since Edge bragged about the Live Sex Acts ratings, he (appropriately) brags about the ratings he generated last week in a TLC Match. He then assures us that there's nothing but more of the same in the future, and that fans need to get used to it. Because Edge will NOT be a "transitional champion" (he made the finger quotes, which means he was speaking in code to US. OMG~!). He will not be like the "Iron Sheik" and hold the title for 3 weeks and then lose it, never to be heard from again. 

And furthermore: he won't lose the title 16 times, like certain Ric Flairs he could mention. Whoops: looks like since they did the Cold Open, I didn't have my usual spot to tell you that we're live tonight in Charlotte, NC. Which means the fans are gonna no-likey people making fun of Flair.

So the fans fire up a mighty "We Want Flair" chant, to which Edge says (paraphrasing) "Tough titty, cuz he's not here tonight after the whupping I put on him last week." This, of course, riles up the Charlottonians (?), who apparently are not a particularly bright lot, and don't register that Edge's guarantee of a Flair absence actually assures them that Flair will be arriving before the night is over. Dum Dums.

Edge then begins to relate the fate of Flair to that of John Cena. Because, you see, Flair's career is basically over now, because he had his shot at the champ, and he couldn't pull it off, so now it's to the back of the line with Oldie Olderson. Which is exactly where John Cena's gonna be after the Royal Rumble: out of title shots and moved to the back of the queue. After what Edge does to Cena on Sunday, Edge assures us the the fans' to-do lists will have to include "pick another over-rated piece of crap to latch onto." And Edge's own to-do list will include "Lita," since Edge maintains a residence in South Florida (one, as he describes it, adorned with a few more lavish items than his infamous College Apartment Futon of Extremely Low Prospects Of Ever Getting Laid from 2 weeks ago).

But before Edge and Lita can start demonstrating what they intend to be doing come Sunday night, their embryonic game of grab-ass is interrupted. By John Cena. The squealing: it hurts my ears.

Cena insincerely says he's not here to start any trouble, he's just here to congratulate Cena. Because that movie trailer, Cena says, was AWESOME. It ruled the multiverse, and in fact, it was so good that Cena made a few calls to his homeys on the street (word up, dawgs! yo!) and gots himself a bootleg copy of the actual movie.

So if it's OK with Edge, Cena'd like to give his expert movie review right now. Of course, Edge is many things, but functionally retarded is none of them, and he doesn't really approve of the idea, but Cena's all in his used-car-dealer mode where he's promising it'll be OK, so just shush and let him do his thing.

Allow me to summarize Cena's summary of the "movie," thusly (and I assure you I made up none of these items; well, at least not until about 3/4's of the way through the list; but Cena really did deliver most of these awful turds):

It's the classic tale of boy meets Ho.

But it's not just any Ho, it's a magical Ho.

And with his Ho, the boy wins the WWE Title. And he wants to celebrate, so he takes his girl on vacation. To Lake Ta-Hoe.

Then he gave her a present. A potato. From Ida-Ho.

While on vacation, the Ho found her roots, and discovered she was part Nava-Ho. 

Which came as a shock to her, because she thought she was part Arapa-Ho.

Confused by this discrepancy, the boy enlisted the services of Hector "Macho" Camach-Ho.

Hector, it turns out, has no investigative skills whatsoever, and was worthless to the boy, so they fed Hector a poisoned burrit-Ho.

Then they hung out in the hotel and watched a lot of HB-Ho.

It turns out, they saw "Liar Liar," and were reminded that their favorite actress is Amanda Dono-Hoe.

The hotel had a bug problem, so the boy and his Ho checked out, but only after suggesting an application of Orth-Ho.

While discussing their innermost thoughts on the drive back east, the boy revealed that he really, really likes gazpach-Ho.

The girl thought this was gross. About the only thing the boy learned about her was that her favorite song was Rancid's "Ruby So-Ho."

On the way to the Royal Rumble, the two bump into Chris Jeric-Ho.

The two ask Y2J about his future plans, but he will only talk on the condition that it's Quid Pro Ho.

Jericho reveals that he has no plans in wrestling at the present time, and if the boy is any friend of his, he'll personally put a bullet in Jericho's head if Jericho ever resorts to going to TNA, where he'd be forced to shill the Plex made of Morph-Ho.

The boy decides Jericho was really stretching for that one, so he better start bringing this journey to an end, so he pays back Jericho's revelation with a made-up admission that one time, he saw a UF-Ho.

Then the boy had his match at the Royal Rumble and go his ass kicked by John Cena, and he lost everything, including his girl, who fell madly in love with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. "HO-OOOOOOOOOO!"

And they all lived miserably ever after. THE END. 

Edge and Lita are obligated to act offended at the fifth-grade-caliber tauntery, and Edge finishes up his little riffage on the movie trailer by saying that when all's said and done, Edge will only be a Rated-G Superstar. You see the "G" stands for the "Gold" which will be "Gone." And then, because he just doesn't know when to quit while he's ahead, Cena also reveals the "G" can stand for "Gonorrhea," a gift from the Ho that'll linger long after Edge has dropped the title.

Lita would like to speak, now: for absolutely no sensible reason, she just blurts out how tonight Cena and Edge both need to find partners for a tag team match. I guess logical transitions/segues, and basic conversational ebb and flow don't matter much to WWE: instead of interacting with each other, just stand around, wait for one guy to finish his prepared material, and then you deliver your prepared material, regardless of whether one makes sense as a response to the other. In this case, the reason Lita just blurted out about the tag team match is so she could work her way up to a punchline in which Edge will have no problem finding a partner, but if Cena's can't find somebody to "play with," then he can just do what he does best and "play with himself."

Ugh. Not only is it pretty lame as punchlines go, but the unnatural and stilted way Lita had to jarringly change the subject and then talk her way up to it just seemed awfully unnecessary to me.

Of course, now it's time for Cena to put the icing on the cake, as he first congratulates Lita for finally having something of substance coming OUT of her mouth (zing?), and then tells Edge that "even though you standin' next to a bitch, homey, at the Royal Rumble, I'm gonna make you mine." 

Ho-kay there, champ. Get it? HO-kay? HA! 

To be fair: Cena did have a couple solid laugh lines, and Edge was very excellent during his speaking parts, and I think this effectively planted the notion that Edge/Cena isn't QUITE the foregone conclusion you might have thought 2 weeks ago. But it also had a lot of stilted writer-y-ness to it towards the end, which was a distraction to me. Not just because it seemed scripted and unnatural, but also because the sheer badness of the scripted stuff caused me to wonder how people can possibly get paid to sit around and write this crap, when all you'd need to generate such material would be to plant microphones in any middle school lunchroom, and then transcribe.

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Ugh: More Stacy, more Dancing With The Stars. And it's not going away. Somebody actually sent me information that Stacy is now the odds-on Vegas favorite to win this thing. Which just makes me weep with pity. Not just that I have readers who are paying attention to this crap, but that somehow, a shitty reality TV show now apparently rates a Vegas Line. Can I find a bookie who'll take my bet for "Some Sort of Electromagnetic Device Goes Off In The Middle Of The Show, Not Only Vaporizing All Contestants/Crew/Audience Members, But Also Shooting Out Over The Airwaves And Then Coming Out Of The TV Screens Of Anybody Watching So As To Kill Them Instantly"? I figure the odds on something like that'll be at least 10 billion-to-one. I'll put a twenty-spot down. And then, just making small talk, I might wonder if there are any scientists out there who want to work with me on this wacky new technology I'm thinking of. I can't pay you a lot now, but I swear, I'll have your money as soon as the project is completed... in fact, I have a suspicion I'll be able to pay you in Luxury Casinos.

Kane vs. Carlito Cool

Pyro Watch: Kane shoots off his corner flares during his ring entrance. That does not bode well for the Big Man.

Match starts with Kane predictably slobber-knockering his way to an early advantage. That lasted for a minute or two, but then Carlito scored by dodging a corner charge and quickly leaping up onto the ropes to hit a missile dropkick. Then he piled on with more nice offense for about two minutes, looking surprisingly competitive and in-command in the process.

When Carlito tried for a Tornado DDT, though, Kane out-powered him, and just shoved him off, setting up another offensive run. Nothing quite as fast-paced or high-energy as Carlito's stuff, but a solid power assault. Kane hit his flying clothesline, and decided to finish off Carlito with a Tombstone (!), but Carlito wormed out the back of that, and instead reversed it into his double-knee back-breaker.

More nice offense from Carlito followed, including a double-jump springboard senton (assclowns out there who frequently like to mail me to tell me how over-rated Carlito is because he's got the same moveset/in-ring-ability as Chris F. Masters may kindly eat it; not only are you dead-wrong on that front, but you fail to take into the account that half of wrestling is still personality; and Carlito has one, Masters doesn't). However, no matter what Carlito brings, Kane keeps kicking out.

Growing frustrated, Carlito takes too much time sulking after one near fall, and turns back around, walking directly into a Throat Grab. Chokeslam? Nope, because Carlito's still fresh enough to weasel out of it. But he's also frustrated enough to realize that if he can't win this match, at least he can do some damage to Kane. So Carlito grabs a steel chair, brazenly takes it into the ring in front of the ref, and swings away... Kane counters the first one by booting the chair backwards. But Carlito goes with the flow, falls backwards into the ropes, and spring back off to lay into Kane with a chairshot right to the noggin. 

Your Winner: Kane, via disqualification, in about 5-6 minutes. Didn't really seem to click with the crowd as well as I'd have thought, but I thought they did a nice job keeping this VERY fast-paced and interesting. Especially how they managed to let Carlito look competitive with Kane for such long stretches of time.

After the Match: Carlito was gloating over his handiwork, but Kane did the Zombie Sit-Up. So Carlito decided to get the hell out of dodge.

Backstage: Edge has a great idea for a tag team partner, it's just he's a guy who might need a little persuasion. And the kind of persuasion at which Lita is expert at. So basically, Lita's sort of hesitant, but Edge is insistent that it'll be OK, nothing a little soap and water won't clean off, so please, just go whore yourself out to my potential tag team partner, woman! Ahhhh, True Love. So Lita decides she'll do whatever it takes to please her man, even if it means pleasing another man, and enters a room. Then the camera pulls back to reveal the sign on the door: it's Big Show's dressing room.

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Backstage: a camera has magically passed through the door, and we're now inside Big Show's dressing room, where Lita is straddling him. She's basically outlining the proposition while unbuttoning Big Show's shirt and playing with his chest hair and all. Show's just sitting there soaking it all in with the demeanor of a man who's probably been to a few strip clubs in his life. Finally, Lita decides she'd like an answer, and takes off her t-shirt. Some will tell you the Sideboob is where it's at, but I've always been a sucker for a hint of Underboob. Edge must have been snooping, because before things can go any further, he saunters into the room... and looks like the conditions have changed: Big Show can have all he wants of Lita, but only AFTER the tag match tonight. So what do you say Big Show? "Oh, HELLS no!" is what Big Show says. After what Edge did to Flair last week, Show mostly just wants to beat the piss out of Edge right now. But he's restraining himself. Because he wants to handle the situation like a man: which means Show will go to the Rumble, win it, and then if Edge "gets lucky" against Cena, Show will gladly beat the piss out of him, face-to-face and man-to-man, at WrestleMania. Exit Big Show, and Edge still has no partner.

Elsewhere Backstage: Trish Stratus is stretching out, ostensibly in preparations for a match, but mostly because it's the easiest way to stage a down-blouse camera shot. Up walks Mickie James, who is clearly a bit flustered. "Is it true? Is it true that you have a tag match tonight and Ashley's your partner?" Trish says yup, that's true. Mickie goes from flustered to spazzy, "Why? Why would you do that? I thought we were friends. Do you like her more than you like me? Is this because of what I did to Ashley last week? Because I did that for YOU. Everything I do is for you." Trish stands by mutely (and almost assuredly a bit confused and uncomfortable) as Mickie goes from Spazzy to Full On Crying and Emotional Breakdown: "I look up to you, Trish. I idolize you, you're my hero, I used to watch you with my Grandpappy, and now you don't even care about me." Mickie plops down into a chair, sobbing. And it turns out Trish is a slightly more decent and caring person that I, because instead of muttering a fake apology and then leaving the nutjob to sulk while she goes to find non-annoying people to hang out with (like I would have done), she actually tries to console Mickie. Mickie snaps out of it at that point, puts on her Brave Face, and says "No, it's OK. You just do what you have to do, and I'll have to accept that." And somehow, Stone Faced Mickie is even creepier than Emotional Breakdown Mickie, a fact apparently not lost on Trish as she gets a concerned look on her face as Mickie up and leaves. 

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Announcer Interlude

We come back from break to visit with Joey, King, and Coach... probably because we're 40 minutes into the show, and we haven't yet seen them, and they're getting lonely. But whatever the pretense of the visit is, Coach quickly takes over, and starts blathering about His Pittsburgh Steelers (he's helpfully wearing a Steelers jersey). Because Coach is from Kansas, and you know how those Jayhawks LOVES THEM some Pittsburgh football. Or something. 

The Coach -- paying homage to Lita -- abruptly and awkwardly changes gears by announcing that he has a HUGE scoop about the Royal Rumble, and he's gonna reveal it now. So Coach takes off his head-set, grabs a house mic, and stands on the announce table to tell the fans that there is only one spot left in the Royal Rumble Match, and it belongs to.... Coach. 

Boo, say the fans. And "Waitaminute," says Jerry Lawler, who also grabs a mic and stands on the table to confront Coach. Coach didn't beat anybody to qualify for the Rumble, so how's about they have themselves a qualifying match of their own: Coach vs. King? Coach hems and haws at first, but then Lawler likens him to the color of Joey's tie. [Note to Joey: things aren't really looking good for under-sized white males wearing yellow ties on Monday night TV shows. Just sayin' is all.] Nobody calls Coach a coward, though, so he agrees to the match.

Trish Stratus/Diva Search Ashley vs. Victoria/Candice Michelle

And speaking of clunky, awkward segues: King and Coach hit their lack-of-punchline, and start lumbering down off the table, at which point the production monkeys start playing Victoria's music, and we reveal that Victoria, Boobies McTitsalot, and Torrie Wilson have been in the ring this whole time. The music plays for about five seconds while we establish their presence, and then it's immediately time for Trish's entrance. Weird. Not smooth.

Ashley opts to start for her team, and what the hell is this happy crappy? A double-jump springboard axe-handle? A la Magistral cradle? Of course, then Ashley goes and ruins it all by failing to execute a simple drop-toe-hold. D'oh.

Trish tags in, and gets in on the fun, too. She hits all her usual stuff, but then adds in something new: a top rope frankensteiner. If I didn't know better, between what the girls are busting out and what we saw out of Carlito earlier, it's ALMOST like somebody passed around a memo saying that the rule about slowing down and not doing any cool moves because HHH doesn't want to be upstaged by the undercard has been revoked. Another new move from Trish: the Leg Drop o' Doom. Eat it, Hogan!

Then Ashley gets back in, and when she tries her double-jump thingie again, Boobies interferes and shoves her off the ropes, giving the heels their first advantage of the match.  Ashley's mini-face-in-peril bit was OK, but with the unconvincing appearance of Boobies' offense, it also didn't really sizzle. Hot tag back to Trish, who comes in a house o' fire, taking out both Candice and Victoria. Finally, Candice gets tossed out of the ring, and Victoria gets a Grade-AA Spinebuster.

Trish decides it's OK to let her young padawan finish things off, so she tags in Ashley, and the promptly makes sure Candice is powdered out by hitting a Thesz Press from the apron to the floor on her. Meantime, Ashley goes up to the top rope, hits Victoria with a Flying Cross Body, and that's all she wrote.

Your Winners: Trishley, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Some bits of sloppiness, since Ashley just doesn't the repetitions to do the basic stuff smoothly, I guess (and it's doubly obvious when she's paired up against fellow greenhorn, Candice Michelle), but if she keeps trying to distract us from that with hitting nice highspots? Hey, it sure worked for Lita early on, didn't it? And in this case, it really did mean that this match didn't lack for excitement at any point. 

After the Match: Trish and Ashley are celebrating, when Mickie James sprints in and tackles Ashley. Trish and the ref try mightily to break it up, but Mickie's REALLY focused on beating the crap out of Ashley. Trish finally thinks she's got Mickie settled down, but nope: in one smooth move, Mickie spins past Trish and nails Ashley with a spin kick. That's apparently the knock-out blow, since Mickie decides to leave of her own accord at that point, while Trish looks sorta-pissed in her own right. The announcers are really selling Mickie as crazy-enough-to-be-dangerous (Coach and Lawler even do an exchange where they say normally they'd love to step in and get in the middle of a catfight, but they want no part of this one). Mickie is, as Joey tells it, quite psycho. Or, if you're John Cena, she's a psych-Ho. Bleargh.

Backstage: Mama Benjamin is futzing around the lockerroom, picking up dirty laundry. Shelton comes in and wonders what she's doing, because she should be poking around all the other guys' stuff. Mama Benjamin doesn't care, she just noticed that these all are some dirty boys, and she's gonna straighten up around here a bit. Shelton asks his mama to settle down for a second, because he has something he needs to tell her. It turns out, earlier today when Shelton arrived at the building, he bumped into Shawn Michaels. And Shawn called him a "mama's boy."  Shelton's thinking is that just because his mama loves him enough to come watch his matches, that doesn't make him a mama's boy. Mama agrees. And Shelton is happy. And also a Mama's Boy. Somebody alert Jerry Lawler: he has a new catchphrase to get over.

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Self-Promotional Fluffery: WWE put out a DVD (and a book) about Superstar Billy Graham. On sale now. You must buy it. And hey look: Superstar himself is here tonight in the front row. What a coincidence!

Shawn Michaels vs. Shelton Benjamin

Just as the match is about to get underway, Vince McMahon hits the stage, and has an announcement. You see, if Shawn Michaels doesn't win this match tonight, he'll be out of the Royal Rumble, and he won't be going to WrestleMania. Toodle. Ooo.

Not a bad idea for a stip; better than the "win or get fired" from the week before, because in this case, you actually believe that Michaels could lose, since the stip is less severe (and also because Shelton IS on that winning streak, so you're just not quite sure how it'll all go down).

Pretty basic back-and-forthy to start, as Shelton actually held the nominal edge for the most part. Any time he'd out-wrestle Michaels in an exchange or get a near-fall, Shelton got the time to do a big heelish reaction shot, where he'd gesture (Broadly) towards Michaels that he's just *thisclose* to beating HBK. And then Michaels gets his own reaction shot where he emotes the vibe of "Huh, this guy's tougher than I thought he'd be, what with him being a Mama's Boy and all."

Michaels did put it together for one rapid-fire rally about 3 minutes in, but with a few ministrations/distractions from Mama, Shelton quickly regained control.  And then he set up for some kind of slingshot springboard move. But as he flew 3/4's of the way across the ring, Michaels was ready to meet him with a superkick, which was the finish of their memorably excellent match back last May. But Shelton's mama didn't raise no dummy, and Shelton blocks the superkick, and turns it into a spinning leg lariat. Nice.

Michaels goes flying out of the ring. His carcass is being taunted by Mama. And Shelton is gloating in the ring. Let's break for...

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Back, and things get a little messy in terms of them trying to show replays of the sweet counter-to-the-counter-to-the-counter spot from before the break, and missing a major development in the live action as a result, and then having to go back and show replays of what they missed because of showing us replays. Small thing, and hell: better there be too much action than so little that NOTHING rates a replay, right?

Anyway, the thing we missed coming out of the break was Shelton tossing Michaels shoulder-first into the ring-post to set up his extended offensive rally. Things actually bogged down quite a bit here in the middle segment of the match, as Shelton mostly just worked chinlocks and restholds. The only time he'd go for anything high impact is when Michaels would bust out of a hold and threaten to rally. Shelton hit a few big moves to snuff out those signs of life.

Finally, Shelton did decide to go for a potential knock-out punch: he set up Michaels for a superplex. But Michaels slugged his way out of that, sending Shelton tumbling to the mat. Then Michaels tried to re-adjust his footing so that he could come off the ropes onto Shelton, but while he was doing that: Shelton sprang to his feet, did the Angle-esque "run-up-the-ropes" thing, and once up there, blasted Michaels with an enzuigiri. Freaking awesome.

And after Michaels bumped all the way from the top rope to the floor, also a nice place to give him a breather while we watch....

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Back, and it appears we've rejoined the action just in time for End Game. Both guys are down, the ref applies the double count. Both guys are up, both guys start throwing fists, and in the chaotic mess, Michaels breaks free long enough to deliver the Flying Burrito. Kip Up. Inverted Atomic (which you pretty much have to include in HBK's Six Moves of Doom, now).

But apparently, at some point during the last ad break, Shelton did something to damage Shawn's (SURGICALLY RECONSTRUCTED~!) lower back, because Shawn suddenly slows down to half-speed as he decides to ascend the ropes for the Macho Man Elbow. Throw in a distraction from Mama, and he's slowed down even further. Which is why when he finally gets positioned on the top turnbuckle, Shelton has had more than enough time to recover and do just about the awesomest thing that has ever awesomed on RAW.

With Shawn standing upright on the turnbuckle, Shelton did his standard standing broad jump from the mat to the top rope, and immediately hooked Shawn for a top rope superplex. Allow me: HO. LEE. SHIT.

But only gets a 2 count. Shelton tries the Stinger Splash. 2 count. T-Bone Powerslam? Michaels counters. Funky Backbreaker? 2 count. Shelton tries everything he can think of, but cannot put Michaels away. Finally, Shelton tries to go up top again, but when he comes off, Michaels moves, and Shelton whiffs. This sets up Michaels to hit the Macho Man Elbow. And then he starts Tuning Up The Band.

Which is when Mama Benjamin gets up on the ring apron and distracts Michaels. And distracts the ref. This gives Shelton enough time to recover, and he rolls Michaels up from behind. Problem is, Mama is still distracting the ref. Shelton is actually looking right at this as he has Michaels pinned and is telling Mama to move. Which she does. Just in time for Michaels to reverse the roll-up as the ref turns around. Shawn throws in a handful of tights for good measure, and he scores the three count.

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via pinfall, in 20-22 minutes, to retain his spot in the Royal Rumble Match. Slow for sure in the middle, but the opening did a nice job setting the stage and letting Shelton show a bit of heel persona, there were some AMAZING spots peppered in throughout, and obviously the final 5-6 minutes after the last ad break were outstanding.

Backstage: Edge and Lita are talking to another candidate for Tag Team Partner. One who is (obnoxiously, distractingly) kept off frame by the retarded Hollywood Style Segment Director. Blah blah blah, bland pleasantries and promises of much ass-kicking if they team up, and the camera finally pulls back to reveal Triple H. He says he'll "think about it." And then walks away, while Edge and Lita misinterpret "think about it" as "yes." 

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Royal Rumble Hype: I'm guessing the card is full now, with the announcement of a Mickie vs. Ashley (Trish is special referee) match. That's two matches for each brand, plus the hour-long Rumble itself. Problem is, of the four non-Rumble matches, only 1 of them (Cena/Edge) has any business lasting long than 5-6 minutes unless WWE wants to either (a) expose the limitations of Ashley or the Boogeyman or (b) bore the shit out of America by putting Mark Henry in the ring for longer than the length of a pissbreak.

Backstage: Shawn Michaels is sitting and untaping his wrists when Vince McMahon grabs a chair, turns it backwards, and sits himself down all Macho-Style. Vince just can't believe Shawn's good luck, and wonders when it'll run out. Shawn cuts him off and says he's had about enough of Vince acting all "psycho," and he apologizes if the thing he said about "moving on" past Montreal bugged him, and he takes it back. Shawn doesn't care if Vince moves on or not: he can do whatever makes him happy. At that, Vince perks up, because Making Himself Happy was one of his New Year's Resolutions, and he will indeed follow Shawn's advice. Vince has got all this money, and effective immediatley, he's gonna start spending it on himself and what he wants. And what Vince wants is to turn back the clocks 10 or 20 years, to a time when Vince McMahon epitomized the wrestling industry. To a time when the business was all about 10 minute headlocks and characters so cartoonish and one-dimensional they only really appealed to children and the mentally-enfeebled. Whoops, wait. That's what I heard in my head.... what Vince was REALLY saying is that he wants to turn things back to a time when the business was all about sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll, and there were all night parties and WHAT IN THE BLUE FUCK IS VINCE TALKING ABOUT HERE? Vince basically says that he knows Shawn must be sick of playing the role of contented Born Again Christian (except he has to talk around it in belabored mincing tiny steps, since apparently Shawn did not OK Vince to directly mention the Jesus or the Christianity), so how about it? How about a return of the pill-popping (uh, is that a wise choice of words?) wildman version of Shawn Michaels that Vince remembers? Together, they will rule the galaxy as father and son. Or something. But Shawn simply says "No. Never." So Vince tells him: if that's your final answer, then I guess we've just decided when your luck will run out. This Sunday, at the Royal Rumble. Vince guarandamntees it.

Ummm: so plus a ton of points for a very intriguing twist in the Vince/Shawn dynamic in which we've introduced the idea that Vince will spend a lot of money in order to smite Michaels. There are some who are saying it's a play on reality, in which Vince is offering The Rock some grotesque payday to come in and face Michaels at WM. [Which is ironic, since the Rock has done interviews since fading out of the wrestling picture talking about dream matches he never got to have, and he's outright said one guy he never gave a shit about working with was Shawn Michaels, which always catches the interviewer by surprise.] But some of the other rambling about all night parties and pill-popping? I just don't get it, and it lent an overall feel to this segment that it was Vince McMahon taking about 5 minutes to do a 2 minute promo, just because he likes the sound of his own voice. And not because it added a damned thing to the storyline. That always has the net effect of slightly deadening the impact of what SHOULD be a pretty important little skit.

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Jerry Lawler vs. Jonathan Coachman (Rumble Qualifying Match)

Just an awful display of awkward fumbling for about 2 minutes. Seriously, the physical chemistry and timing here made Ashley and Candice look like Benoit vs. Angle.

Then, out of nowhere, Lawler just decided that this thing was an abomination to wrestling, so he decided to Bring Down the Strap and finish things. Which was the cue for some college-fight-song-y music to start and the Spirit Squad to come out on stage.

Who are the Spirit Squad? Well, it's a gimmick that's been rotated around a few different developmental guys on house shows and OVW TV the past 2 months or so, and since there is not a person alive who doesn't want to slap male cheerleaders in the face, the gimmick has always gone over well.

Only thing is: the gimmick has usually been done as a 3-man or 4-man gimmick, and tonight, they're debuting on TV with 5. One is definitely Ken Doane, a 19-year-old musclehead in the Chris F. Masters mold. Except that everybody (even me) will agree that Doane is ahead of Masters in terms of developing skills other than sticking needles in his ass (there is, however, much disagreement about whether or not "Better Than Masters" counts for shit, and whether Doane might not be better served with 3-4 more years of experience and seasoning before being pushed on TV when he's "Actually Good" instead of just "Better Than Masters"; then again, on the upside, as long as he's a male cheerleader, he won't get overpushed and will be allowed to develop and connect with fans out of the spotlight and under less pressure). Another one was definitely Nick Nemeth (last seen as Kerwin White's caddy). Another one was definitely Johnny Jeter, who's been a staple of OVW TV for a long while and in my estimation is the best all-around performer of the bunch at this stage of their respective developments, and as far as I know is new to the gimmick (which is probably a sign that WWE wanted to include somebody with a TAD more seasoning in with the group). Another was probably Mike Mondo, who's usually done the gimmick on the house show circuit, and rates a "meh" from me. And the other guy? I'll be honest: I couldn't place him straight away.

The five-man Spirit Squad and their pro-Coach cheers are an instant distraction to Lawler, who just sort of watches them prance around ringside long enough for Coach to sneak up from behind and roll Lawler up.

Your Winner: Coach, via pinfall, in maybe 2-3 minutes of sheer awfulness. But the match wasn't really the point was it? The point was the debut of the Spirit Squad, and their seeming man-love for Coach. Which, to be perfectly honest, could set up a VERY amusing interlude in Sunday's Rumble match. Coach is already a fun patsy in settings like that; throw in him being joined by five Sexually-Ambiguous Bundles of Pep, and the opportunities for comic relief in the middle of the intense Rumble match multiply tenfold.

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Seated at Ringside: some NASCAR Guy and some Carolina Panthers. Wow, a redneck and a bunch of losers. And let's not forget Billy Graham, who could be labeled a "has been," if one's in a disrespectful mood. Truly, ringside at WWE events is where ALL the nobodies hang out!

Big Show vs. Lance Cade, Rob Conway, Gregory Helms (Some Kind of Second Chance Rumble Qualifying Match)

OK, for one, we have a main event yet to come, it's 10 till the hour, and we're doing this? And secondly, Lillian tried to give us a clue, but I'm still totally unclear on what the rules of the match are. Big Show has to win to keep his spot in the Rumble? If Big Show is eliminated, all three of the other guys get into the Rumble? Big Show's spot in the Rumble is not on the line, but if one of the other three guys can toss him, THAT PERSON gets into the Rumble? It just makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And truth is, in the time I spent trying to type up a paragraph to convey my confusion, I've spent more time than the "match" lasted. All three guys tried to team up on Show. Didn't work. So he manfully eliminated them one-by-one to win what I guess was a Mini-Battle Royale.

Your Winner: Big Show, via ring clearage, in one minute flat. It's not that Show can't make these sorts of obvious squashes fun; it's just that that did not come close to happening in this convoluted case. But perhaps it doesn't matter, because this was just somebody's idea of an excuse to insert a visit from...

Triple H Would Like To Speak: Hunter interrupts Big Show's celebration. He hits the stage, and he's still wearing a suit, so I guess that means he's not wrestling in the main event. He says Show doesn't have to worry, Trips isn't coming down there to "club you like a baby seal again," which gets a total babyface laugh/pop. He just wants talk for a second. Because he's really sorry to disappoint Show, but Show won't be winning the Royal Rumble. And he hates to disappoint the other 28 guys, too, cuz THEY won't be winning the Rumble, either. That honor is reserved for HHH. And lastly, he hates to disappoint Edge, but Hunter won't be his tag partner tonight because he's "done taking charity cases." Another semi-babyface pop for that. But then HHH turns the crowd with the drop of a hat by saying that he got rid of his last charity case two months ago (read: he won his feud against Charlotte's own Ric Flair), and now: HHH is only gonna be looking out for #1. Gee, he must have gotten it from his Father-in-Law. No more hangers-on, no more worrying about anybody but himself. And the end result of that will be winning the Rumble and going on to WrestleMania to regain the WWE Title from whomever is keeping it warm at the time. Trips closes out by once against busting out the line about once again ascending his throne as the King of Kings. Blasphemer.

Backstage: Edge and Lita are getting concerned because they still haven't found a tag partner. But then their door opens (off camera, naturally, since WWE is insistent on breaking one of my very simple rules about Lame, Fake, Staged Hollywood Style Camera Usage), and Edge and Lita start smiling. "Why didn't I think of you first?" Edge asks the mystery man, rhetorically. Because, Edgeward, you don't like things that suck. Well, except for Lita. Get it? Because she's a ho, and almost certainly gives great h..... oh, nevermind. Sorry folks. I started this recap trying to channel my Inner Cena, and I guess I just can't turn it off.

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Edge and Chris F. Masters vs. John Cena and Ric Flair

Edge enters first, and seems to be indicating that he's got the bestest partner of all time. Sadly, just about any halfway-perceptive viewer has already figured out that this cannot be the case, as Edge's partner is.... Chris F. Masters. My, what a shocking surprise. [Note: I guess I liked the idea of teasing a few other partners throughout the show, even if only to temporarily throw us off the Stink of the Obvious. But all it ended up accomplishing, at least to me, is pronounced sense of disappointment that either of Edge's other two partners would have created WAY more interesting possibilities here. Possibilities that evaporate when the walking, (semi-)talking Human Manifestation of a Fast Forward Button that is Chris F. Masters appears.]

Then Cena enters, gets on the mic, and doesn't belabor his point, since his partner should also be stultifyingly obvious to the vast majority of fans. And sure enough: Charlotte's own Ric Flair.

And then I notice it's already after 11pm by the time the match starts. Oh well, means I'm that much closer to the end of this recap and hitting the sack. Good for me!

Cena and Masters start, and Cena gets nominal control. And then tags in Flair to a huge pop. Flair then goes on a "rampage" consisting of about two dozen chops for Masters, and about a half-dozen pelvic thrusts in the general direction of Lita. Then, a bit of illegal interference from Edge and Lita, and suddenly Masters is dominating, and Flair is your Ultra Time Compressed Ricky Morton. I think Edge was in the ring for maybe all of 30 seconds that whole time. In so far as there was a focus, it was on Flair's back, which means that a man of CFM's obviously electrifying skillset eventually opted to put Flair in a bearhug. Thrilling.

Flair eventually managed to eye-poke his way out of that, I think, but wasn't out of harm's way, since Masters tagged in Edge. Edge then did the one move of his that I remember from the entire match: he went up top to hit Flair with a cross-body, but Flair ducked it. Both men were down. Double count is going. But both men get to their corners for the tags. And when those tags match Cena and Masters legal, you know they are met by an almost even mix of squeals and apathy.

Cena, however, is doing his level best to be en feugo. He keeps both Edge and CFM at bay for about 30 seconds, but then a distraction from Lita breaks his momentum: Edge was about to get an F-U, when Lita got up on the apron and pulled Edge's leg so he fell back to the mat. While Cena turned to jaw with Lita, Masters came up from behind, with the intent to apply the dreaded Rear Admiral. I mean: full nelson. But then Flair mustered up enough energy to chop-block Masters, which gave Cena all the opening he needed.

While Cena went to work on Masters, Edge and Lita decided to get the hell out of dodge, and abandoned their poor dimwitted lunkhead partner. Masters eventually got an F-U, and then Cena opted to add on the STF for good measure.

Your Winners: John Cena and Ric Flair, via tap-out, in about 5-6 minutes. I can't really say a whole lot good about it, so maybe I won't say anything at all. It was just purest formula, and condensed, shortened formula at that, which certainly made this feel like an amusing mid-card exhibition, instead of something big or important. The same-old Superman Cena finish also didn't do a whole lot to make this feel unique or fresh. But I guess as a way to head into the Cena/Edge PPV match, this finish was a way to make Cena look physically dominant, while Edge's game continues to be the crafty mental dominance that allows him to escape essentially unscathed while Cena scores an essentially meaningless win over Monkey Boy. I suppose that fits together well enough...

More thoughts/analysis/etc. tomorrow in OO.

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
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
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?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
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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