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OO RAW RECAP
Taking the Long-Cut to Backlash 
April 18, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

[NOTE: Sorry for the lateness of posting this document. I held off for a couple hours extra, anticipating the arrival of Matt's Satire. Instead, what eventually showed up was sad news about Matt's computer which -- to use a technical term -- is "pretty well fucked." Satirholics are to be assured Matt will still complete a Satire this week, but just not today.]
 
Well, that's strange...

I thought RAW had found a nice little formula the past few weeks for opening and closing the show in satisfying fashion, one which also effectively built to the upcoming PPV's main event.

But this week, instead of rumbling along at full speed with another variation on that formula, RAW seemed chock full of 

experimental little swerves. Even if it's not the most thrilling of journeys, RAW seemed to be taking a direct route the past few weeks, and we were still getting to see a few nice tourist attractions. Not so this week, as we deviated from the prescribed path and ended up taking a long-cut through a mostly-barren desert. 

The only attraction here: chances are good you'll come face to face with the dreaded wild Umaga. But the guidebook says if you just ignore him, chances are good he'll go away. Hopefully the next time WWE does a round of "spring cleaning."

Anyway, definitely another week that mixed good with bad; but also a week where there was a heavy dosage of what felt like water treading pointlessness.

Here's the Full Report:

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in St. Louis, MO. There's got to be a Randy Orton joke to be made here, but I'm so sick of talking about that douche that my brain refuses to figure one out. Instead, let's just take a listen as Joey Styles, Jerry Lawler, and Coach welcome us to the show, assuring us it shall be a jim dandy, but offering up little in the way of concrete details. And then, it's time to shoot it down to the ring for....

"Is that Vince McMahon or Pope Lunesta IV?" Theatre

Vince silly-walks his way to the ring, and immediately asks the (sadly not-rhetorical) question "So am I going to hell?"... the live crowd figures he should, but Vince says he's already been there, since his limo driver got lost and took him to East St. Louis earlier in the day. Ha?

Then Vince goes on to say that he won't be going to hell because he doesn't think it's fair to confuse "ignorance" with "blasphemy," and the truth is that if he did anything wrong last week, it's only because he'd never been in a church before. Not because he hates religion or God. D'oh. Too bad, because the blasphemy was funny; and it turns out the attempt to back-pedal out of it isn't.

Vince declares that he has nothing but respect for the many different forms God and Organized Religion take throughout the world, and in fact, when he realized that, he decided that he had been practicing his OWN religion for over 40 years. And now, he wants to share it with the world. Huh, so I guess the Writer Monkeys watched "Family Guy" the night before, and figured they could rip it off by having Vince start his own religion? Guess they didn't get the memo that the Much Cooler and More Topical "South Park" has declared "Family Guy" to be awful. Let's just all go ahead and blame the remainder of Vince's over-long, boring-ass, unfunny speech on "Family Guy"!

Unfortunately, Vince's religion does not have anything to do with worshipping Fonzie. Instead, it is "McMahonism," and the central tenant appears to be that Vince is the one true god of sports entertainment. Which leads Vince down a very lame tangent in which Vince wonders what it would have been like if DaVinci had been a McMahonist, or if McMahonism had been practiced at the Last Supper, or 2 or 3 other things that were just excuses for Vince to display lame photoshopped pictures on the TitanTron, including himself in many historical religious moments.

Not a one of the photoshopped pictures gets much of a rise out of the crowd, and their interest is clearly waning as Vince gets to the part about throwing the doors of McMahonism open to the masses, and any of them can join. Instead, a vocal minority begin chanting "Boring" at Vince, causing Vince to utter the hilarious comeback, "Oh, believe me, there's nothing boring about this." Ummm, isn't that for us to decide, Old Man? Sadly, Vince's comeback is enough to silence the crowd, and they mostly just sit there quietly waiting for it to end....

Vince gets back on track saying that he knows there's one man here in the building tonight who probably won't be joining McMahonism, and that's Shawn Michaels. Michaels will probably want to stay loyal to his God, but that's OK, because Vince will show HBK who's boss when Vince and Shane crush Michaels and God at Backlash. "And if I'm lying, strike me down. Strike me down right here in the middle of this ring."

Of course, Vince remains un-smited, allowing him to brag that Michaels' God is weak and ineffectual and refuses to "give a sign." But Vince promises that before this night is out, there WILL be a sign (implying that he'll be the one giving it).

And finally, I guess that was the last plot point needed to be gotten across, because immediately thereafter, Shawn Michaels ran in from out of the crowd, and superkicked Vince. But apparently, the Devil made him do it, because Shawn immediately started twitching around in a full body spasm that made it look like he desperately needed and Exorcist. What the hell was that?

Shawn eventually settles down, and composes himself enough to do some trashtalking to Vince's carcass, and then he heads out of the ring while the announcers narrate a bunch of replays. Then we cut back live, and Shawn is just standing at the top of the aisle, looking at Vince...

And decides he's not done. Shawn sprints back to the ring, trashtalks Vince some more, and then stands over Vince's body as he makes a big show out of performing.... the DX Crotch Chop.

Because, as we all know from our studies of scripture, Matthew 37:13 reads:

And as Jesus hang from the cross, crowds gathered to taunt the Christ, while his crucifiers doused him with vinegar, sour to the tongue and stinging to His open wounds.

And verily did the Lord and Savior gaze upon his tormentors, and uttered his dying proclamation: "I got 16 words for ya: Utilize your oral orifice to create a mild vacuum around my large and intimidating male genitalia!"

So it is written, and so it shall be done. 

Anyway, clearly Blasphemy in Wrestling month continues here at OO, even if Vince backed off and did a mind-numbingly boring 15 minutes of tepid heel ego-tripping. Michaels' return for the superfluous crotch chop was baffling, but other than that, there really was nothing new, interesting, or funny about this entire opening segment.

Which left me jonsing for the past two weeks' opening segments where Edge, Cena, and HHH would go for TWENTY minutes, and didn't seem like they were over-long at all. My theory: Vince went out there with nothing but carefully prepared material (including Visual Aids) that was pretty sucky. Edge, Cena, and HHH the past few weeks have been pretty clearly free-wheelin' it a bit, without carefully prepared scripts, and that connects better with the audience and just sizzles a bit more. And even if that theory's a bit off, somebody should STILL be taking note of the "boring" chant and making sure that doesn't happen again. Opening segments should NOT be prescribable as sleep-aids, dammit.

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Backstage: Vince McMahon was being tended to by a trainer and ran into Triple H. HHH inquired as to Vince's well-being, and instead of responding in any sensible fashion, Vince suddenly lashed out at HHH for when HHH called Vince "the old man" last week on RAW. The hell? Plus 10 for attention to detail. Minus several million for incorporating that detail into the show in an even remotely compelling way. Vince says he's not old and feeble, and he'll prove it: since we've had a spate of Handicap Matches lately, why not another one? Vince orders HHH vs. John Cena and Edge for later tonight. Take that, Junior! You know, I knew that this match would almost HAVE to happen, and was having fun trying to figure out what excuse they could come up with for putting Cena and Edge together... this dumb-ass random skit would not have made my Top 1000 Possible Explanations. 

Kane vs. Rob Conway

Conway's already in the ring as we cut back to the arena, and he's got a mic. Tells us that he's through being a punching bag, and he'll prove it against the next guy who dares step into his.....

THROUGH BAD REVIEWS AND A TELLING LACK OF PUBLICITY OUTSIDE OF WWE'S OWN PROGRAMMING, IT'S KANE!

Slobber, knocker, lather, rinse, repeat. The entire match barely lasted long enough for Joey Styles to clarify that there's something wacky that happens to Kane if you mention the release date of his movie.

Your Winner: Kane, via pinfall, in less than a minute. Bleh.

After the Match: Lillian Garcia announced Kane as the winner, but Kane immediately cornered her, accusing her of saying "May 19" and wanting to know what she knows about May 19. Lillian, of course, made no such reference and is confused. Kane figures he'll chokeslam some sense back into her, but luckily the Big Show makes the save. Kind of. In releasing Lillian, it actually look like Kane caused her to take a sicker tumble than if he'd actually just chokeslammed her. For the second week in a row, Show's all "Christ, bro, what's wrong with you?" and Kane's all "Shut up, dude, I have ISSUES, and you have to respect that." So they do the double goozle spot again, and this time, Show wins, and hits the chokeslam on Kane. Whee. As Show leaves, Kane does a Zombie Sit-up and has an Evil Grin on his face. Double whee.

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Video Package: Chavo Guerrero dedicated a match to his Uncle Eddie's memory and he lost. So Chavo announced he was quitting wrestling entirely.

Special Sit-Down Interview: Jim Ross asks Chavo if he's had time to reconsider his hasty announcement, and Chavo says he has, and he is more confident than ever that he made the right decision. JR tries various ways of convincing Chavo that he's over-reacting, and Chavo responds with various ways of being a self-loathing sad sack. This goes on for a full 6-7 minutes, and is absolutely as thrilling as I made it sound. So at the end of the day, we're still exactly where we started? And there was nothing particularly new or exciting about Chavo's reasons or his performance in the interview? Definitely disappointing....

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Shelton Benjamin vs. Mystery Opponent

So as Shelton poses and preens in his latest I-am-a-Spectacular-Douchebag Ensemble, and as Coach steps in as Guest Ring Announcer for Poor Lillian, Joey has a moment to explain for us the stipulation here. Shelton and RVD are wrestling at Backlash, and as yet, there's nothing on the line. But if Shelton can beat a Mystery Opponent hand-picked by RVD, then Van Dam will put the Money In The Bank title shot on the line. If Shelton loses, then it will be Shelton's IC Title on the line. Got it? Good. So let's get the Mystery Opponent out here....

Shelton Benjamin vs. Charlie Haas

It's about damned time. Welcome back, Charlie; now don't make all us internet jack-offs look bad by sucking, or anything.

A little bit of back-and-forth to start, as the announcers try to figure out which of these two former friends and tag-team-partners will have the advantage over the other. Coach heelishly believes Shelton is too quick and clever; Joey (or the new voice in his headset, which belongs to Jim Ross, if reports are to be believed) counters by saying that Shelton's been on TV every week and Charlie will have him well-scouted, whereas Shelton doesn't know what Charlie's learned wrestling overseas and out of the WWE spotlight.

Then after maybe a minute or so of that, Charlie just takes over with a lot of High Energy Babyface Style moves (deep, Steamboat Armdrags, flying drop kicks, etc.) that eventually land the two outside the ring. Haas' offensive continues with the ringside brawl. Then Haas tosses Shelton back into the ring, and attempts a sunset flip from the apron into the ring. Shelton counters that by moving aside and putting his knee in the way. Tough to describe, but Charlie took an ouchie right to his lower back.

And then began Shelton's heel offensive, focusing very much on Haas' back. The worst of it came during another outside-the-ring segment, when Haas got slammed and suplexed onto the floor, and then got whipped into the steel ring steps. Back in the ring, Shelton settled on a chinlock -- but with a knee to the back added in to give it some gravitas -- and out of that began Haas's comeback.

But it was to be short-lived: Haas whiffed on a drop kick after about a minute or so, and Shelton took back command. And got cocky. Shelton decided to quit worrying about his opponent, and start taunting Rob Van Dam. For about 90 seconds at the end of the match, Shelton channeled RVD... effectively at first (a half-speed Rolling Thunder, and then some RVD style kicks), but then things went south.

Shelton went up top to mimic RVD's Five Star Frog Splash, but Haas moved out of the way.... BUT: Shelton was expecting that, and actually rolled through the splash attempt, and got ready to charge back at Haas... BUT: Haas was expecting that Shelton was expecting that, and as soon as Shelton charged, Haas sidestepped and wrapped Benjamin up into a pinning combo. One, two, three. Color Haas mildly surprised at his win; color Shelton downright stunned.

Your Winner: Charlie Haas, via pinfall, in about 8-10 minutes. Good stuff throughout, but the final few minutes are what really made it. Shelton's mocking of RVD went over well, and then the finish is a great tease of what's to come if these two wrestle some more: if in their FIRST match against each other, these former partners were already triple-countering each other, imagine how much more innovative and surprising things could get in return matches.

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During the Break: Maria the Mic Stand must have a clause in her contract guaranteeing her TV time even if she has nothing substantial to contribute. Thus: the return of "The Kiss Cam." Ugh, again with the stupid bullshit that is even corny and lame at minor league baseball games. Let's just say this does not belong on TV unless WWE is somehow planning on putting Bisexual Orlando Jordan, His Boyfriend, and His Tranny "Girl"friend in a RAW audience together, starting a Love Triangle for the ages.

Backstage: Vince is still recuperating, when his office is invaded by Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrada. Vince, of course, isn't quite up to speed on the newcomer, and requires Armando to introduce himself (twice, as a matter of fact). Armando says he's quite keen on this McMahonism, and he'd like to make a donation to the church. Not a monetary one, but something a little different. You see, Armando wants a match for his man Umaga tonight, so why not put Umaga in the ring against.... oh, let's say, Shawn Michaels. Armando promises Michaels will suffer, and Vince likes the sound of that. The match? Is next.

Exit Armando, but Enter Shelton. Shelton is furious about what just happened, and wants Vince to fix it, because Shelton had no idea his old tag partner was here and it's all unfair and blah blah blah. Vince says he doesn't know what Shelton expects him to do, because the stipulation is ironclad... at that, Shelton swallows his pride, and drops down to his knees in prayer as he begs for the intercession of the One True God of McMahonism. Vince basks in the moment, and says he'll see what he can do to help out. But not before getting in a joke about how much he loves having people on their knees in front of him. Oy. Points to Shelton for the perfect reaction: half-disgust, but also half-eyeball-rolling. Sort of like the non-verbal version of "OK, so that's gross, but what are you? In seventh grade?"...

Umaga vs. Promotional Consideration

They get Umaga out to the ring, and then immediately decide it's a good time to break for....

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Pointless Filler: It's the top of the hour, and apparently new research indicates that this is the perfect place for 3 minutes of replays from the opening hour. Cuz lord knows it's more important to get maybe two-tenths of a ratings points worth of viewers up to speed than it is to not fucking waste the time of the other 4.0's worth who have been here all night.

Shawn Michaels vs. Umaga

Ugh. So Michaels basically bumped around like a crazy man for 5 minutes, while Umaga's most thrilling offensive move was probably a headbutt or something. I don't know, kids, my mind really went into cruise control mode at this point.

Somewhere in the middle of Umaga's interminible heel beatdown, Vince McMahon showed up to TRY to generate some heat for the match by planting himself at ringside. Mission failed, Vinnie.

Things finally kicked up a notch when Shawn evaded Umaga's Fat Ass Corner Attack, and followed up with a Flying Burrito and a Kip Up. And another Flying Burrito, because them Samaons have hard heads and Umaga no-sold the first one. Macho Man Elbow, and then let's get the band tuned up....

Except Vince picks this moment to create a distraction, and Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrada finally makes himself useful. While Vince deals with the ref, Armando distracts Michaels. Umaga recovers, and while Armando holds Michaels' leg in the corner, Umaga attacks with his fat ass again. This time it works. Michaels gets tied to the Tree of Woe. Umaga rains down blows, and won't break at the ref's five-count. So the ref tries to physically stop Umaga. Umaga shove ref, keep beating Michaels. Sorry Umaga, but that shit don't fly here in Civilized Society.

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via disqualification, in about 7-8 minutes. Way too long, and way to boring because of Umaga's total lack of credibility. And partial lack of ability. That they took that long to get to such a cheap finish is disappointing-but-expected.... you might have hoped otherwise, but Umaga ain't doing any clean jobs, yet.

After the Match: Umaga and Armando kept beating on Michaels until Vince finally called them off. He wants to finish Shawn himself. He trashtalks Michaels a bit, and then lifts him up to tie him in the ropes. Then he leaves the ring to grab a steel chair. But when Vince tries to get back in the ring, there's a pyro burst on the ring post before Vince can even get up the ring steps. So Vince tries the other ring steps. Same thing. So dumb. Vince, instead of just sliding into the ring where there is no ring post, acts all scared that he's just been given a sign from God. Vince heads up the aisle, and then pauses. Momentarily gets his courage back, and decides to head back to the ring. But that's when a wall of fire erupts in front of Vince, keeping him from the ring. Now Vince is REALLY concerned. And I am so very, very annoyed. I like the idea of "accidents" or something putting the fear of God back into Vince (as outlined in a column a week or so back), but the entire basis of that angle would be making sure that we knew Michaels himself was behind the accidents. That way, you reduce the Gay Spooky Quotient all the way down to zero, and also limit the blasphemy, since it turns out God has better things to do than be a part of a wrestling angle. Instead: this. Really dumb.

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During the Break: Vince left the arena in a speeding limo.

This Week in Wrestling: In April of 1999, the Rock and Steve Austin did something that barely seemed entertaining or significant at the time, yet is for some reason being commemorated here in this video package.

Chris Masters Finds a New Mouthpiece (Hopefully)

So we come out of the video package and... Matt Striker is in the ring, with his full Classroom set-up? If he's back on RAW, I guess that means he un-douched himself, and did it without requiring a 60-day suspension. Good for him.

Striker actually uses the seemingly random preceding video package as his intro, saying that Austin and the Rock are part of the downfall of western civilization. Because Striker remembers back when he was a certified teacher, his students would be able to recite what happened on RAW, verbatim ("that means word-for-word, you dumdums"), but couldn't tell him a single thing about Bill of Rights.

It's more important for people to keep up with RAW than learn things because everybody's more concerned about being Cool than being Smart. Uh oh. I think we all know where this is going, now. Then again, that's only because here at OO, we firmly believe that it's possible to be Cool AND Smart, and we're all in the 95th Percentile of Overall Awesomeness.

Striker keeps dropping the word "Cool" into the discussion just a little too frequently, finally hitting his punchline, which is that "School is Cool."

Enter Carlito, who was looking around for his apple backstage, and then saw that Striker had stolen it for his little teacher's desk. Not cool. Carlito takes his apple back, amidst Striker's protests, and is reminded of a story. Of a time when there was a teacher Carlito didn't like, and so Carlito spat apple in his face, and got expelled for it. But all the kids knew Carlito was right, and that's the incident where Carlito became the Coolest Kid In All The Land. Wow, so just like that, we have the Origin Story for Carlito. Now that Carlito thinks about it, that teacher was a lot like Striker, so maybe Carlito could relieve that seminal moment.

Striker would prefer not, and decides to rail against Carlito's cognitive abilities, suggesting that Carlito probably never took the SAT, and so Striker would give him a little lesson in analogies. "Anal whats?" asks Carlito. Before Carlito does anything rash, Striker just wants him to ponder the following: "Carlito is to Spitting Apple, as Matt Striker would be to Giving You The Beating Of A Lifetime."

So Carlito goes ahead and spits the apple anyway. And Striker tries to defend himself, but Carlito gets the better of the brawl.... for about 10 seconds. And then Chris F. Masters runs out and attacks Carlito from behind, cinching in the full nelson for a bit before releasing the hold and leaving the ring all proud of himself.

What I didn't like about this skit: WWE's institutional mindset that "cool" and "smart" much be two different things, and the message that sends out to the kids.

What I DID like about it: pretty much everything else. Striker was actually pitch-perfect with his mic work, and I LOVE the idea of pairing him up with Masters. They've already planted the seed that Masters is a bit on the dim side, so how perfect would it be for his new mouthpiece to be a teacher? They never explored many of the possibilities of Masters as a complete retard in skits with Carlito, but since it's actually Striker's freaking GIMMICK to be smart, they'd quit fighting it and just let Masters play the role he was born to play: Dumb Muscle. I hope this wasn't just a one time thing... I hope they see the opportunities here, and pair CFM with Striker on a full-time basis.

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Rob Van Dam vs. Mystery Opponent

As Rob Van Dam makes his grand entrance (complete with a new paint job for the Money in the Bank briefcase, so that it matches his tights), we learn that the One True God of McMahonism has just booked this match. The RVD/Shelton PPV match is still for the IC Title, but if RVD can't beat his Mystery Opponent here tonight, then it will ALSO be for the MitB Title Shot. Okeydoke. So who's the opponent?

Rob Van Dam vs. the Spirit Squad (5-on-1 Handicap Match)

OK, opponentS, I guess. Van Dam actually makes a go of it for about 45 seconds, even using the Spirit Squad's own trampampoline against them in a nice spot. But then the Squad quits attacking in one-at-a-time Dumb Ninja Fashion, and goes after RVD all at the same time.

After swarming for some punches and stomps, they hit that One Move Where They Each Grab A Limb And Throw The Guy In The Air. Joey Styles, no doubt in response to my request from 2 weeks ago, FINALLY gave this move a name so I didn't have to keep typing up that whole long thing. It's called "The High Spirits." [Also: in response to my request of 2 weeks ago, I found out that the move would probably best be described as a "Basket Toss" in cheerleader terminology. But the funniest response I got was from a guy who suggested that the important part isn't the toss, it's the not-catching the guy part.... so they should call it the "Fukuoko" after the girl what got dropped on her head at a college hoops game a couple months ago. Since the girl was OK, I officially declare that to be an hilarious notion.]

Then Kenny hit the top rope leg drop, and that was it.

Your Winners: the Spirit Squad, via pinfall, in about 90 seconds. After an off-week last week, the Squad were back to being the over-the-top tools they need to be. Actionwise, not much, but they did a nice job setting up why things are on the line in the Shelton/RVD PPV match.

Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand is back, and this time, she's interviewing her guest.... Mickie.... Trish.... ummmm.... poor Maria, this little case of alternate identities really is going right over her head. But her guest is Trish Stratus Disguised as Mickie James. And once again doing a dead-on-perfect Mickie Impersonation, Trish basically interviews herself, saving Maria the trouble. "Ohmigod don't worry about it Maria it's totally OK just do me a favor and give the other Mickie James a message for me cuz I so totally have a surprise for her in the ring and it's gonna be next and ohmigod it's gonna be fricking awesome ohmigod."

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Jack In the Box

So we've got a giant box in the ring. And Trishie James comes bouncing on out in a way that is really quite fetching. Sadly, another week and another look, and I really do believe that's just a wig Trish is using. I guess there's no point to Trish torturing her follicles with a re-bleaching if she's just gonna be going back blonde again once this brief storyline plays out, but still.... I could go for a permanently brunette-ish (or even just darker blonde) Trish. And maybe I'm just not savvy in the ways of wiggery (hey, I used that word, and it's NOT about John Cena!), but didn't Molly Holly teach us that a wig can be a real distraction to having a really good, physical wrestling match? And Trish won't even have the benefit of a stylish chinstrap!

So anyway, Trish gets a mic and keeps bopping around the ring. Good lord: the woman's pants never stay up, and with the new get up her skirt won't stay down. She truly has a gift for clouding my mind. What's that you're saying Trishie James? "Ohmigod what an awesome present you should come out here Mickie cuz this is so totally awesome c'mon I promise it's awesome ohmigod."

So out comes Mickie, in her full Trish Attire (complete with Minor Pants Issues again this week). She stays safely at ringside as she tells Trish that she doesn't think she wants any part of the present, so Trish can just keep it. But "Ohmigod don't worry it's totally awesome but if you don't want to come in here just stay there and take a look OK ohmigod." So Trish has the box lifted to reveal....

That tool "Jack" who was on TV for a few weeks as Trish's boyfriend, but now he's tied to a chair.... "Ohmigod look it's Jack Trish Stratus' ex-boyfriend ohmigod do you have anything to say Jack?" And Jack does, in fact, opine "Yeah, both you bitches are psycho." Put that duct tape back over his mouth, because that's not the answer we're looking for.

And at this point, Trish stops being Mickie James (well, stops talking like her) and starts talking like herself as she addresses Mickie in a dead-serious voice. Trish, in fact, tries a variation on the old Kirk Gambit of trying to make a robot's head explode. "If you're really Trish Stratus, then you must be concerned about what's going to happen to Jack here." OK. "But if you're not Trish Stratus, if you're just Mickie James pretending to be Trish Stratus, this isn't really any of your concern." Ummmm, alright. "So if you don't care about Jack in the Box, here, then you can't possibly really be Trish Stratus, so maybe it's time for you to quit dressing and acting like it."

And also: "Every single thing I say is a lie, including this very sentence." 

So Mickie-as-Trish gets a real confused look on her face as she starts muttering into the mic, "Huh, yeah, that's.... ummmm.... huh... I think I understand now." Trish-as-Mickie thinks she's solved her problem thanks to the logic-hole-ridden material supplied by the writer monkeys. But then: SHOCKING TWIST~! Mickie stops retreating and suddenly shouts "Get your hands off my boyfriend!" and sprints back into the ring to attack Trish. But Trish was ready, and easily got the better of the brief brawl.

With Mickie down, and Jack tied to a chair, Trish blew them both kisses and left the ring to.... let's call it confused silence. With Trish gone, Mickie recovered, and feigned concern for Jack before remembering "Wait, I'm Trish Stratus, and Jack cheated on me with Mickie James, who is no longer me" and then she booted Jack in the head (or booted the air 4 inches above his head, anyway) and started shouting about how nobody cheats on Trish Stratus. Hokay.

So I figure we all had some pretty fun ideas for where WWE might go with the alternate identities dealy, especially given how good Trish can be playing the comedy. But I don't think any of us, in one billion years, would have come up with the idea for bringing back Jack the Tool, or for immediately ditching the comedy and going for the deadly serious attempt at reverse psychology (or whatever the hell that was).

Here's what I would have done: have Trish coax Mickie all the way up into the ring with a non-stop barrage of Mickie-style rambling and assurances of "ohmigod it's gonna be awesome." Mickie finally gets in the ring and removes the box herself, only to find.... Diva Search Ashley, wielding a crutch. One whap to the belly with the crutch, and Mickie has the wind knocked out of her, giving Trish the chance to resume Mickie-style rambling about "Ohmigod I always knew you didn't think I was a psycho Ashley I always knew we were really friends and you didn't mean all those things you said right ohmigod thank you this is awesome ohmigod we really are friends aren't we Ashley ohmigod you like me more than you like Trish Stratus ohmigod that is SOOOOOOO awesome ohmigod and you're so totally hot too ohmigod let's make out!" And then, with a confused Mickie James watching her own psycho lameness parroted by Trish, Trish and Ashley share a companionable and sloppy open-mouth kiss. 

And that'd actually be pretty hot. Because sometimes, sexy isn't sexy, FUNNY is sexy (just like Smart can be Cool, if only WWE were either), and that would be a pretty fricking hilarious play to see Trish having a field day throwing caution to the wind, and throwing all that crap back in Mickie's face, as if to say "See how stupid you look?"... to me, that'd be a way more amusing way for Trish to try to learn Mickie a lesson about her own psycho-ness than using the attempted Triple Reverse Psychology Captain Kirk tricks. 

Plus: the idea here (to me, anyway) is to use Trish-as-Mickie as a way of giving Trish back some of her becoming bitchiness, a bit more personality, and giving her the Glory Spots in the feud to make sure fans don't keep mutinying on her. So come up with the funny way to have Trish kiss another girl for the cheap pop, says I! Or at the very least, know your audience well enough that you should have let Real Trish kick Jack The Tool in the head, instead of letting Mickie do it and getting the babyface response for it. Isn't somebody up there thinking these things through, dammit?

Enough rambling. But for the second week in a row, I propose I just (in about 30 seconds of couch time) had a WAY better idea for how to do an angle than what WWE actually served up, and encourage anybody to tell me how I'm wrong.

Backstage: hey, look.... an hour and 45 minutes into the show, and we get our first visit from Edge! He's standing around with Lita, when up walks HHH. Edge is all cocky, and proving he reads his OO as he says, "I think I've been noticing a pattern around here, and tonight's the night that I pin you, Hunter." Hell, he's already stealing from Bulldog, right? Why not crib a line or two from the Humble Webmaster, too? But HHH brushes that off, as he's here to do some Cerebral Assassinizing... HHH says "If I were you, I wouldn't be worried about me, I'd be worried about your own partner. Did you see what he did to me last week when WE were partners?"  HHH assures Edge he's only mentioning it because "I hate Cena WAY worse than I hate you, so be careful." And plus, sayeth Trips, Cena's the one who ended Edge's glorious but brief title reign and so far HHH hasn't seen Edge do anything about it. So maybe tonight's the night? Just think about it.... Edge and Lita do, in fact, seem contemplative as they wander off. And HHH remains in frame, smiling the smile of a man who has spent a career playing mindgames with the likes of Randall Orton and, thus, can tell when he's won.

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Movie Hype: Kane's movie gets a big-time Fast Forward from me.

PPV Hype: they run the line-up for Backlash. Normally I'd FF this, too, but I wanted to see what the graphic with God on it looked like. Bleh. I should have kept FF'ing. Although I will note that whatever the background/theme music was for this PPV was about the least awful theme music I can remember for a PPV in a while.

Edge vs. Time Management

Edge makes his ring entrance, along with Lita. Lita is again almost wearing a shirt, and I think I've figured something out: after catching myself actually ogling the new "casual attire" Jillian Hall while watching SD! over the weekend, I've discovered that these girls have found the one and only scientifically proven way to make very-fake boobs into eyeball-riveting features. Maybe I'll share the details of my study with you another time, but for now, I'm trying to think of a way to explain it briefly and only coming up with all the stupid tangents I know I'd have to do (such as explaining why I find fake tits so annoying, yet find Trish so wangifying, since I get that alot in e-mails from people who apparently cannot grasp that after a certain point, a girl DOES become more than a collection of parts, and for better or for worse, Trish's boobs are but a part of one rather remarkably appealing whole).... and frankly, I don't think we have time for that.

In fact, as Edge and Lita were entering, I started glancing at the clock, positive that as late as it is, we'd already had our last commercial break. But guess again, Potsie....

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Triple H vs. Edge/John Cena

HHH enters second, and then Edge's partner Cena enters last. Weird, but ultimately meaningless. And we're right at 11pm (eastern) as we kick this thing off. Wow: looks like it'll be another rocketbuster.

With no time to waste, Cena busts out a ton of his Comeback Offense to create a fast start. Wacky suplex, wacky tackle, et al.... and then, because lord knows you have to slow-it-down in a 5 minute main event match, it's a side headlock. HHH, having none of that happy crappy, gives that no more than 30 seconds, then shoots Cena into the ropes and shoulder tackles him to take over.

Pretty basic stuff for HHH, but with each vertical suplex or knee lift, a reaction shot of Edge shows that he's actually sort of tacitly cheering HHH's assault on his tag partner. Intriguing; but is Edge maybe doing it sarcastically, or to throw off HHH? We'll find out. HHH, meantime, pauses at one point to do a DX Crotch Chop in Cena's general direction. OK, so seriously, now: what gives? Doing it at WM could have just been a one-time-special-event deal, but with Michaels and HHH both busting it out tonight, this had fucking better be part of some master plan. And not just those two going for cheap pops that they shouldn't have to resort to. [Or worst of all: them just fucking with the heads of people like us who notice these things and wonder about their significance.]

Cena does make a comeback on HHH at about the 4 minute mark, and hits the remaining handful of his Wacky Unorthodox Moves, and is gonna finish up with a Five Knuckle Shuffle. But HHH was playing a bit of possum, and as Cena bounds off the ropes, he runs right into a Grade-AA Spinebuster. Cena actually ends up pretty close to his corner, and with HHH still hurting, Edge does a bit of mental arithmetic, and decides to blind tag himself into the match.

And then Edge pauses to take his groggy partner, Cena, and clothesline him out of the ring. Heh. But HHH has now recovered, and though he appreciates Edge's prickishness towards his partner, they are now the two legal men in the ring, and HHH lays down for no man. So a brief staredown, and then about 60 seconds of intense back-and-forth, including a few teased finishers.

At which point, Cena recovered, and got back in the ring, because now he's angry at BOTH men. In the chaos, Cena wound up crashing into the referee, sending both crashing to the mat. In fact, Edge was also down (though you'd be hard-pressed to know why). That left Triple H as the only man standing. Which meant it was time to go fetch himself a tag partner.

Sweet Lady Sledge was -- loyal concubine that she is -- waiting under the ring just where HHH knew she would be. HHH and Sledge get back into the ring, where Edge is actually sitting in a corner, apparently assessing the situation.... but as soon as HHH and the Sledge show up, Edge feigns another bout with Intense Pain, and collapses to the mat... HHH had been looking Edge's way, but sees this, and turns his attention to John Cena. And just in the nick of time, too! Cena had been recovering and was charging at HHH...

But he gets nothing but a bellyful of sledgehammer. Trips is quite proud of himself, and figures he can pause a moment to enjoy his handiwork, what with Edge still in a heap and all. Except: Edge is on his feet behind Hunter, just as healthy as can be, and waiting for him to turn around. And when HHH turns around, he eats a Spear. Count to three, you groggy zebra!

Your Winner: Edge (and Cena), via pinfall, in about 6 minutes. Once again short, but for the third week in a row, highly effective from a storytelling perspective. I'm not necessarily sure that a large percentage of the non-OO reading audience was so attuned to the fact that formula dictated an Edge pinfall of HHH here, but if they did, then I loved the finish they did, with the added layer of Edge actually out cerebralling HHH. The announcers were oblivious to it in real time (while I was relishing every bit of it), but in replays they did a nice job telling the story of how Edge tricked HHH into going after Cena first, and then took advantage. A very cool way to get to what was kind of a foregone conclusion of a finish.

In fact, I really could have used more of these three last night, given all the Umaga and McMahonism and other pointless crap that actually gave me the sensation of slowing things down and taking lame detours as we head to a looming PPV. Ah well: not the best of shows, but give 'em credit for ending on the exact right note, eh? 

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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