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Joey Rules~! 
May 2, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Wow. The first show after a PPV is generally a transitional show: tying up any loose ends and then introducing the ideas that will finally come to fruition 2 months down the line when you have your NEXT PPV. 
But last night's RAW was a transitional show on steroids, with the final net effect being nothing less than HUGE steps taken towards the returns of both DX and ECW. Forget building to the next PPV, let's build a bridge backwards to 1997! That'd be fine with me... that was a fun time to be a fan.

Joey Styles stole the show with a shoot-style promo in which he lambasted all things "Sports Entertainment," pined for the return of "Wrestling," and in general said a bunch of things that I know resonated with a lot of us. And Triple H and Shawn Michaels met face-to-face for the first time since the return of all this Crotch Chopping.
Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves, though... we'll get to all that gOOdness in due time. For now, let's start at the top and work our way through a surprisingly news-worthy edition of RAW...

Cold Open: Vince McMahon opened the show from backstage, where he bragged about what he and Shane did the previous night at Backlash. They beat Shawn Michaels and "God." So tonight, Vince is doing what "God" tends to do all the time (if "God's" showing at Backlash was any indication) and give himself the night off. In Vince's place? He has assigned an Interim General Manager. Well, five of them actually: Enter the Spirit Squad. Displaying enough spirit that it ALMOST got to the point where Mr. McMahon was annoyed, the Squad finally settled down and said they wouldn't disappoint the boss. They would do a great job and they already have big things planned. Such as a WWE Title defense right here tonight! The Squad drew "spirit straws," and it turns out Kenny will get to face John Cena. Vince approves. And to kick things off, the Squad has set up a women's tag match, with the added bonus that all the women will be dressed as the greatest performers in the entire world: cheerleaders. Vince approves again. The Squad insists on putting their hands in for a big "GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Spirit Squad," and Vince joins them. Then the Squad departs, and Vince repairs to a conveniently located recliner as we kick it to....

The Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Columbus, OH, home of Neon Jacket Couple, celebrating what has GOT to be at least 15 years of sitting ringside looking exactly the same. Well: there's one thing that ECW did *not* invent, as it turns out... Joey Styles is back on commentary with Jerry Lawler (and again, nary a mention of Coach, which is dandy by me), and they give us a hard sell on Mick Foley's return to TV later on tonight when he is the guest on The Cutting Edge. But then we've had just about enough hype. Let's bring out the girls!

Mickie James and Victoria vs. Torrie Wilson and Maria the Mic Stand

Torrie's out with her stupid little Yap Dog. Maria's out with new theme music that sounds as though it was performed by The Generic AlternaDouche Whiners #7876. Victoria's out with her big ass clunky knee brace which some might argue ruins the effect of the sexy cheerleader outfit, but I disagree on the grounds that just 2 seasons ago the University of Dayton had a cheerleader who was known league-wide as "Knee Brace Girl" and it seemed to work for her. And Mickie's out with.... well, with nothing but her own self, which is fine because she's got the sort of body that's absolutely made for rocking a cheerleader outfit better than most any other.

Further making my mind flash to UD, the teams are Team Blue (Mickie/Victoria) vs. Team Red (Torrie/Maria). Joey is quick to point out that, experience-wise, you'd think Team Red wouldn't stand a chance in hell of winning this match. Team Red is quick to turn Joey into a liar. First, Torrie easily handles Victoria with a simple (though not necessarily crisp-looking) arsenal. Tag to Maria, and Victoria actually begs off (?!?) and goes to her corner to tag in the Women's Champ. But Mickie is instantly bested by Maria, too. The hell? And when Victoria comes in to try to turn the tide, Maria STILL handles them... and stacks them into the corner. 

Torrie comes in and delivers a splash on both so that Mickie and Victoria are lying prone in a corner. You know what came next: Torrie gave Victoria a Stinkface, and Maria hit the BroncoBuster on Mickie. As the girls celebrated, Victoria hit the only offensive move of the night for Team Blue, as she clubbered Maria from behind, sending Maria out of the ring. Then Torrie hit Victoria with a facebuster. That left Torrie vs. Mickie, and as soon as Mickie tried to suplex Torrie, Trish Stratus ran out (right arm in a sling) and tripped Mickie so that Torrie landed on top of her, instead. Torrie pins the women's champ. Mickie is fuming and Trish looks pretty pleased with herself. 
Your Winners: Torrie Wilson and Maria the Mic Stand, via pinfall, in about 2-3 minutes. I guess since it's a Sexy Outfit Match, my bitching and whining about how you jobbed your two healthy Women Wrestlers to two pieces of eye candy would be pointless? Winners and losers don't count unless it's regular ring attire! All that counts is that we got to see GIRLS doing two of the Most Homoerotic Moves in Sports Entertainment, and somehow, that makes them OK!


The Spirit Squad vs. Eugene/Goldust/Snitsky

Which three of the Squad were they? I don't rightly know, since they foolishly decided to stop wearing the shirts with the name on them, and wrestled topless. Let's just say that it's three Not-Kennys, since they did some pre-match mic work promising that Kenny would be the WWE Champ later tonight, but that didn't mean the other guys didn't want to work, too. So they booked themselves a match... the Spirit Squad versus the "Odd Squad."

Okeydoke. Goldust starts for the good guys, and out-chain-wrestles one of the Not-Kennys. Then Eugene tags in and runs through an arsenal of his crowd pleasing moves for a minute or two, until the Squad manages to cheat their way to the advantage (I think at some point one of them low-bridged Eugene).

In the middle of a Very Generic Heel Beatdown (again this week, they kept the Mincing Toolbox dial turned way down, and it kind of resulted in a bland offensive, instead of a fun and boo-able one), they inexplicably cut away to Vince McMahon lounging in his office watching RAW on TV... and wouldn't you know it, this cut-away is EXACTLY when Candice Michelle decides to arrive (with a delicious looking cocktail comprised of a brown liquor and ice and nothing else) and curl up on Vince's lap. Not that a Cold Beverage in one hand and a Hot Broad in the other wouldn't be a dandy way to watch TV, but what the hell's up with randomly splicing this into the middle of a match?

Generic Heel Beatdown ends when Eugene hits a Rock Bottom out of nowhere, and makes what would be a "Hot Tag," except that he made it to fricking Snitsky. Snitsky's heat dies quickly, as he gets maybe one pass through the Spirit Squad before the numbers game catches up to him, and he has to tag out again. And for some reason, he tags in Eugene, who just got his ass kicked for the past 3 minutes. So Eugene resigns himself to getting back into the match, and as he's only halfway into the ring, a Not-Kenny drags him the rest of the way in, and immediately hits him with a spin kick. It's a relative of the kick that AJ Styles annoyingly calls "the Pele," but Joey calls this the "Johnny-Go-Round." So I guess we at least know the name of the Not-Kenny who pinned Eugene.

Your Winners: The Spirit Squad, via pinfall, in about 4-5 minutes. Very formula, very basic, and again, I felt it would have worked better if the Squad was playing up their more annoying qualities, instead of trying to be intense and business-like. The credibility to do that will come. In time. But that time's not now. Embrace your Obnoxiousness, or more flat, tepid affairs like this are in your futures, Squad.


During the Break: Maria was doing the Kiss-Cam, apparently, but was attacked by Mickie James. The big finish? Mickie DDT'ed Maria. You know that 90-degree DDT Bump that I talk about sometimes? Maria took it that way. Ouch.

Backstage: Todd Grisham interviews Eugene, and is "forced" (by the interim GMs) to ask "So how's it feel to lose, Eugene?"... Eugene says it sucks, but that his Uncle Eric Bischoff told him to never quit, so... wait, that was somebody else, cuz Uncle Eric always wanted him to quit. Uncle Eric sucks! "Kiss my butt, Uncle Eric, at least I still have a job!" But before Eugene can follow up on that notion, he is clobbered from behind by.... Matt Striker's dictionary? Yep. Oy, so now hardcover books are deadly weapons? At least cookie sheets make a nice sound when you use them. Anyways, after felling Eugene with one dictionary-shot to the head, Striker says something about not disrespecting your teacher, and then leaves. 

This Week in Wrestling: we flash all the way back to... last night at Backlash when Vince McMahon proved more potent than God. Nice try, guys, but no matter how you dressed it up, you're not tricking me into recapping a recap!

Elsewhere Backstage: Shawn Michaels, Big Show, and Charlie Haas are hanging out in the Randomly Generated Buddies Lockerroom, when the Spirit Squad show up with a job for Michaels... he's going to referee Kane's match. And he's going to do it while wearing a Special Shirt. It's bright yellow and has "May 19" written all over it. (And it's still a better Officiating Fashion Choice than HBK's infamous Gay-Ass Biker Shorts of Extreme Refereeing Power.) The Squad insists that Shawn have fun out there tonight, and then leaves. 


Video Package: all the Gay Spooky you can handle from Backlash. I recapped it once already. If you want to read about it, read about it there.

Kane vs. Rob Conway (Special Referee: Shawn Michaels)

Michaels entered first in his yellow shirt. Conway entered second and made the mistake of mocking Michaels. So Michaels punched Conway in the sac, and put the yellow shirt on Conway. Now sporting a more traditional Zebra Shirt, Michaels gestured that it'd be a good time for Kane to make his entrance.

So for about 2 minutes, Kane beat the piss out of Conway. Once Kane ripped the May 19 shirt off, though, he seemed to lose interest, and decided to just walk out of the match. So Michaels got a mic and said "May 19" a few times, and blamed it on Conway. Kane came storming back, and busted out the Tombstone for Conway. 

Your Winner: Kane, via pinfall, in 2-3 minutes. A short and effective squash which was rendered a bit more fun thanks to Michaels' antics. Also, despite the video package before hand and the announcers harping on the Gay Spooky elements the entire match, this was pretty well devoid of silliness, which was a welcome change of pace.

[ads; for whatever its worth, local ads for the June 7 ECW taping here in Dayton are referring to it as "A special telecast of RAW"]

Umaga vs. "Rapid Fire" Rory Fox

I can't be the only one who remembers The Wrestling Paper Boy from that one MTV show, can I?

Well, if I am, it's gonna stay that way, because he got served a heaping plateful of SQUASH here.

Your Winner: Umaga, via pinfall, in about 90 seconds. I think Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrrrada's opening comments lasted longer. And they'd be more effective if only he wasn't stuck commenting on fricking Umaga, the "Samoan Smashing Machine" (ugh; you know things are bad when your lame-ass archetypical 80s monster is stealing his nickname from fricking TNA).

Backstage: Vince and Candice are making small talk, and Vince inquires as to her chest cold. All better, thanks to Vince's ministrations. But now, Candice claims to have "labia-gitis." "Is it acute?" "Tee hee, yes, I'd say it's pretty cute." OK, so who's been watching Leslie Nielsen movies? Anyway, to use his healing powers on Candice, Vince is getting ready to go all Mickie-James-at-WrestleMania on her, when Noted Crotch Peeker Triple H shows up and makes a joke about Vince's apparent state of arousal. Vince quickly dismisses Candice to fetch another cocktail, and tries to compose himself. HHH says enough of the ha-ha, nobody cares about Kenny, so just give the Title Shot tonight to the Game. Vince says no, because he doesn't feel like HHH should be rewarded after taking a sledgehammer to John Cena the night before. Instead, Vince suggests that he will make HHH the special referee tonight for the Kenny vs. Cena match. 

HHH, reading into this, says "You know Vince, if you want a favor from me, you only have to ask." Vince is confused, but HHH is convinced he's got it figured out: "If you want me to make sure Cena loses the title tonight, I can do that. I only ask one thing in return. Next week, give me a title match against Kenny, and make sure it's one-on-one with no outside interference." Vince says that's not what he meant at all, and that HHH is wrong if he thinks Vince will reward him for his actions at Backlash. If anything HHH should be punished. With that, HHH's demeanor changes, and he says that if that's how it is, maybe he doesn't feel like wasting his time refereeing. But Vince assures him that he WILL referee tonight. Because Vince is the Boss (not an "old man") and if HHH doesn't do as he's told, Vince will make sure HHH *is* an Old Man before he gets another title shot. Huh.


The Cutting Edge

Lita -- fully clothed for the first time in ages, and for some reason sporting a hairdo that does not exactly flatter her -- gives us a big whoop-de-doo introduction for Edge, who wastes no time grabbing a mic and putting himself over.

Main point: Cena pinned HHH at Backlash, he never beat Edge, so Edge should still be in the WWE Title picture. But Edge pre-whines that WWE will probably find some way to keep him out of it, because they always end up tarnishing his achievements. Like at WrestleMania when Edge's match was tarnished by WWE bringing out a "third-rate, ECW reject" to announce his match. Mocking Joey Styles for no reason? Holy non sequiturs, Batman! 

But speaking of WrestleMania, it really was Edge's crowning achievement and his greatest match. Which brings us to tonight's guest: the man who made it all possible by being the loser of the match and a former Hardcore Legend.... Mick Foley. Who comes on out, and is completely dry. Whew.

The beginning of the promo is delayed by a "Foley, Foley" chant. But then Mick begins by saying he's glad Edge hasn't forgotten WrestleMania. Cuz Mick hasn't either. In fact, for a long time, Mick would watch the tape, search his soul, and watch the tape again to try and figure out where things went wrong. But what he eventually realized is that things didn't go wrong at all. They went very right. Mick was more prepared, more hardcore, and more brutal than he's ever been, and he feels he had the greatest hardcore match of his career. And if he did anything wrong, it was not realizing that on that one night, he was stepping into the ring with the toughest SOB in this entire company. Edge is suspicious of that flattery, but Mick is sincere. He offers Edge a firm and hearty handshake, and Lita even gets a peck on the cheek.

You see, even though Mick lost, he says he got what he wanted out of the match: he got that One WrestleMania Memory he always wanted. Let's roll the tape. Of course, we get multiple takes of the infamous Flaming Table spot, which one might think is Foley's Shining Memory. But then the footage continues on to after the match, and to close-ups of Edge (which I -- more memorably and aptly than I could have known at the time -- focused on and referred to as Edge looking every bit the part of Ricardo Montalban right at the end of "Wrath of Khan" when he realizes that maybe his self-sacrifice to best his opponent wasn't worth it), and THAT is where Foley tells the monkeys in the truck to freeze-frame the footage. Because THAT LOOK on Edge's face is Foley's WrestleMania Memory.

Foley says That Look on Edge's face says "I know I'll never be the same again. I've taken years off my life. And I never ever want to go through anything like this again." And that's where Foley and Edge differ, because when Foley looks back on the tape, he realizes he DOES want to go through that again. Very clever and unexpected way to introduce the concept of why Foley wants a re-match... and at that moment, I assumed he was going to issue a challenge for the ECW One Night Stand PPV.

But nope: Mick's willing to do it right now, in Cheap Pop, OH. Edge waffles at first, saying he's just 24 hours removed from a brutal Triple Threat PPV match (though oddly, Edge was the only one of the three participants in said match to not be sporting cheesy "battle damage" make-up)... but after some goading, Edge shouts "You're ON! [pause] You're on CRACK!". Edge simply will not compete tonight, but if Foley can wait one week, Edge will face him next week on RAW in any kind of match Foley wants.

Mick says "OK" and says that'll make two weeks in a row for him and the Cutting Edge. It's just that next week, he'll be Cutting Edge with barbed wire and steel chairs. So Foley encourages Edge to spend the next week thinking about that, and just try to Have A Nice Day. BANG BANG!


Chris F. Masters vs. The Microphone

We have near-weekly evidence that CFM's strong suit isn't the in-ring work. So this week, I guess WWE wants to confirm for us that his strong suit also isn't the mic work. That Chris F. Masters: he's a zero-tool prospect!

"Blah blah blah last night against Carlito was a fluke blah blah blah if I weren't so dumb I'd know what the word 'segue' meant and I'd put one here to explain this ham-handed transition blah blah blah so Rob Van Dam get out here and try to break my shitty full nelson." Don't ask me... I was trying to follow along, and if there was any established reason for randomly calling out RVD, I missed it.

So RVD comes on down, and as soon as I see the chair in the ring for the Shitty Full Nelson challenge, I had visions of a Van Daminator into Masters' ugly mug. This was not to be. Instead, RVD sat down dutifully, and Masters cinched in the full nelson. Two seconds later, Shelton Benjamin arrived and started pounding away on RVD, thus rendering the Full Nelson Challenge moot.

The two-on-one continues for a bit until Carlito runs out for the save. You know, I brushed past this last week, but if they're gonna have Carlito and RVD working together, how about at least one 30 second skit backstage explaining why, after they were mortal enemies in every other confrontation they've ever had? 

The two-on-two brawl continues for a bit longer until the four are interrupted by the Spirit Squad, who apparently abhor unnecessary violence. So: to render the violence necessary, let's have us a tag match. Starting NOW! By which they mean, after these....


Carlito/Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin/Chris F. Masters

Match is joined in-progress, and apparently, we've already gotten to the part of the match where Masters bores the shit out of the crowd with crappy restholds. In fact, as he chinlocks RVD to death, I can't even muster up any annoyance when we randomly cut backstage again, to spy on Vince McMahon using a finger to trace along Candice's cleavage and whatnot. See, not even Vince can be bothered to watch CFM wrestle!

Cutting back to the ring, Joey utters the line "Let's get back to our Sports Entertainment Contest, King." And I immediately bookmark it and plan to make some snippy comment in my Recap about how between this and Edge's non sequitur earlier, it seems like they are setting the stage for some slow-burning deal where Joey will eventually get fed up with WWE Lingo just in time for the ECW PPV. Little did I know....

Shelton tags in, and the pace picks up a bit. At least, we're getting some slams and back-breakers and things peppered in, now. But it's still a completely by-the-numbers formulaic heel beatdown, and it's not exactly jumping off the screen. Nor does the live crowd seem to care much. But I guess it's an adequate backdrop for the start of a little storyline. A ref brings a note out to Joey, who reads it and says that apparently the Spirit Squad want to see him. Immediately. Lawler asks what he's gonna do, since they are in the middle of a show, and after some back-and-forth, Joey decides he better do what the bosses want, and he leaves his post.

That leaves Lawler alone to call the final few moments of the match, which include RVD finally getting the hot tag to Carlito, and then joining in for some four-way brawling. In the chaos, Shelton tries to bring a chair into the ring... but Charlie Haas appears out of nowhere to yank the chair out of his hands from behind. Shelton turns around to confront Haas, and Carlito picks that moment to roll him up for a quick pinfall.

Your Winners: Carlito and RVD, via pinfall, in about 5 minutes of post-ad-break action. I can think of no match I've seen recently that more effectively encapsulates the notion of "meh" than this one.

SmackDown! Rebound: Nope.

Backstage: the Spirit Squad welcomes Joey to their festively-decorated office. Joey's all "You know this is the middle of a live broadcast and I have a job to do." But the Squad says they have been appalled by Joey's lack of Spirit, and when Kenny wins the WWE Title (eyeball roll from Joey), they want to make sure Joey announces it with the proper amount of Spirit. They make Joey announce "Your New WWE Champion.... KENNY~!" a few times, but Joey can't bring himself to do it enthusiastically. So Kenny himself does it, and then dismisses Joey to go "practice his line." Showing that he might have a spark of goofy charm (beyond the Masters-esque stuff I saw him do in OVW), Kenny actually tries to throw a balloon at Joey as he leaves, and as you might guess, that doesn't work out so well.


Crap: Kane's new movie.

It Beginulates: We cut back to the arena in time to see Joey Styles moping to ringside. Jerry Lawler grabs a house mic and teases Joey a bit about being a "future cheerleader" and encourages the crowd to welcome Joey back.  Lawler wants to know if Joey's gonna show some spirit. Joey just wants to sit down and do his job and call a wrestling match. But Lawler keeps teasing, "I bet if this was ECW, you'd be excited." Joey: "If this was ECW, I wouldn't be working with a hack like you." OOHHHHHHHHH~! And now the crowd's awake and alert. Lawler swallows hard once, but decides to take it in stride: he says that's good, that's showing some Spirit, and Joey should do that more often. So Joey shoves Lawler and asks if he likes that. Lawler does, in fact, encourage Joey and gets a second shove for his troubles. But when Joey decides to slap Lawler in the face, Jerry gets pissed. He pie-faces Joey, and Joey goes tumbling backwards into the Time Keeper's Station. Joey gets up, weighs his options, and decides to leave again, this time to a massive "ECW" chant.


The Awesomest Promo Ever

We come back, and Lawler's alone at the commentary desk, and he's still on the house mic. He says that he's been apologizing all during the ad break, and he just wants Joey to come on back down so they can finish the show together. He was just kidding around, and so let's just bury the hatchet and do our jobs, OK?

And finally, Joey does come out, and stands on the top of the stage. And.... you know what? Let's just have me waste about 45 minutes of my time bouncing between office and my TV, and do this up right. Because if anything deserves a full transcription, this was it. You can all thank me for my tireless efforts at your convenience.

So, Joey comes out and says:

You want to apologize? Like nothing happened? Like you didn't just knock me on my ass in front of millions of people worldwide, and I'm gonna come down there and work with you? Well, I'm not coming back. And now, thanks to the magic of live television, I'm gonna show the whole world why -- for seven years in ECW -- I was the unscripted, uncensored, loose cannon of commentary. 

[pause to unbutton his top button and undo his tie a little bit, as he settles in for some shootin']

Six months ago, WWE called me. I didn't call this company because I was looking for a job. I didn't need a job. WWE *called me* because they had humiliated and fired Jim Ross. Again. So I get JR's spot and from week one, week after week, I've got an ongoing lecture about the differences between professional wrestling and sports entertainment. I'm not allowed to say "pro wrestling." I'm not allowed to say "wrestler." I have to say "sports entertainment" and refer to the wrestlers as "superstars." I'm told to deliberately ignore the moves and the holds during the matches so I can "tell stories." Well, I say ignoring the moves and the holds is damn insulting to the athletes -- the WRESTLERS, *not* the entertainers -- who leave their families three hundred days a year to ply their craft in that ring. 

And then here's the best part: because I'm not a Sports Entertainment Storyteller I get pulled from WrestleMania. And the reason I'm given is because I don't sound like Jim Ross. Who is the guy they fired in the first place to hire me. That makes a lot of sense, right? But I swallow the bitter pill; I'm a company guy. I get bumped from WrestleMania. 

But then I get bumped from Backlash? I'm not good enough to call BACKLASH?!?! In ECW, I called live pay-per-views on my own: solo, no color commentators dragging me down. Wasn't done before me, hasn't been done since. But I'm not good enough to call *Backlash* because I'm not a sports entertainment storyteller? Well, you know what? I am sick of sports entertainment. I am sick of male cheerleaders. I am sick of boogers and bathroom humor and semen. And I am sick of our chairman who likes to talk about his own semen, he mocks God, and makes out with the divas all to feed his own insatiable ego. 

I am sick of sports entertainment. And most of all I am sick of you fans who actually buy into that crap, this sports entertainment circus! I never needed this job, and I don't want this job anymore."

[pause to rip the WWE logo off the mic, and then staring right into the camera]

I quit!

Wow. Just: wow. Other than catching myself smiling when Joey railed against male cheerleaders (who just so happen to be one of Paul Heyman's more effective recent creations, but SHHHHH!, don't tell anyone), this was so pitch-perfect that I was right there, buying into every word as if something REAL was actually happening in the middle of my wrestling show. I really loved the close where Joey actually turned on the crowd (who had been cheering him); it's things like that which are genuinely ballsy and edgy that'll convince people that this New ECW Thing might actually work out well. And since probably about half of WWE's audience really do kind of annoy me and they'd never cotton to the ECW product, why not take a potshot or two at them to make the other half of us feel good about ECW's prospects?

Just awesome work here. Awesome. It's fun to feel like something's that real, and it's been a long time since WWE's served up that kind of moment. There's no doubt I picked the wrong Monday Column to accuse WWE of missing an opportunity to tell a story about Joey's departure from RAW (and don't think I didn't have that little factoid thrown in my face within minutes of the conclusion of RAW last night!), and there's also no doubt that I've never been happier to have been wrong! 

As Joey left, Lawler hits the line "Well, we dragged Joey Styles up from the gutter, but now it looks like he's homesick." Bastard. Then they had HHH come out in his ref attire (and to his Alternate Music), setting up our main event before cutting to our final...


John Cena vs. Spirit Squad Kenny (Special Referee: Triple H)

Let's see: they had Cena keep his annoying mouth shut the entire show, and he's facing a male cheerleader. Can Cena get cheered tonight? Kinda, but HHH is still the biggest babyface in the ring.

Oh, and for the record: Todd Grisham is out to replace Joey on play-by-play.

Since the bell rings for this one pretty much at the crack of 11pm (eastern), you know it's not gonna be an epic, titanic struggle. And it's not, but it tells its story. Which is that HHH could not possibly care any less about who wins or loses or doing his job, but doesn't mind if these two want to beat the crap out of each other.

Cena gets off to a fast start, with plenty of wacky ("unorthodox") offense, and Trips just lounges in a corner. Cena is, in fact, so in control that he sets Kenny up for the F-U after all of 90 seconds or so. But HHH thinks its too soon to let Cena finish things off, so he punches Cena in the face before he can hit the move. The Spirit Squad suddenly realize they can probably get away with bloody murder, and use the 5-on-1 advantage to help Kenny out.

But HHH also has no Spirit Squad Love, so all the near falls that Kenny gets, HHH really half-asses it on getting down to count. Kenny gets increasingly frustrated by this, and instead of seeing HHH as an ally, starts getting in his face. Hmmmm: Pet Project and Killer Kowalski Alum Ken Doane being put in position for a little mini-feud with Triple H? Who'da thunk it?

Finally, after a nice DDT that looked like it might have been enough, HHH's slow count REALLY upsets Kenny, who makes the mistake of throwing his headband at Hunter and then shoving him. Bad idea, Junior. HHH goes medieval on Kenny, and when the rest of the Squad try to interfere, a couple of them eat Pedigrees, and the rest beg off. 

Triple H says "Fuck this noise," and decides to just leave the ring. But as he walks up the ramp, guess who's walking down the ramp? Shawn Michaels (still decked out in his OWN referee shirt). As the two pass each other, they stop, share some Significant Eye Contact while the crowd does apeshit with "DX" chants, and then nod at each other and go their separate ways. 

And since Michaels actually does have a rooting interest in this match (as he has plenty of reasons to loathe the Spirit Squad), we're pretty much at End Game as he gets to the ring to take over officiating duties. In fact, his first act: superkicking Kenny. His second: crotchchopping in the general direction of the Other Four Guys. And his third: joining John Cena for a 2-on-5 house-cleaning on the Spirit Squad.

Finally, we're back down to just Kenny in the ring, so Cena gives him the F-U, and Michaels counts the three. In an odd little moment, when Michaels gets the WWE Title belt, he looks at it longingly for a moment, and Cena shoots HBK a hard look. But Michaels eventually just cheerfully tosses it at Cena and graciously raises his hand in victory. Was that ANOTHER seed being planted tonight?

Your Winner: John Cena, via pinfall, in about 5 minutes. Short, but effective, Sports Entertainment Segment. Where do they go with HHH/Squad? HHH/Cena? HHH/Michaels? Michaels/Cena? So many possibilities coming out of this one, and most of them are at least semi-intriguing. That sense of "What next?" is what we should have at the end of EVERY fricking show. But I'll takes it wheres I can gets it. And we got a LOT of it last night on a very surprising RAW.


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




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