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OO RAW RECAP
Right Show, Wrong City 
May 9, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

If I'm a bit terse today, well, just chalk it up to the fact that I gots a few early plans for tonight and can't be spending hours this afternoon plugging in all manner of my usual tangents and observations....
 
Luckily, this was a RAW that should allow for a bit of terseness. It's only the really bad shows that require 90 kilobytes of turd-polishing snark, and this was certainly NOT a really bad show. Although it did feature a mind- numbingly-long Umaga squash match.

Then again, considering the amount of work that 

I am likely to put into recapping an Umaga match, maybe that is ANOTHER bonus in terms of me getting to keep it short, eh?

Anyway: by and large, I actually thought the worst thing you could say about last night's RAW is that it took place in the wrong place. You don't go to California and expect to run an ECW angle and have it go over well. You don't go to California and have Triple H bashing "posers" and expect him to be cheered. California, to put it bluntly, ain't hardcore and LOVES them some posers. Isn't the state motto "The Faker, the Better!"?

So some stuff came off a bit flat on TV. But I think most everything was well-conceived and executed. Let's see if you agree...

Video Package: Last week, stuff happened with the Spirit Squad, Vince McMahon, and Triple H. And eventually, with Shawn Michaels, too.

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Anaheim, CA... and we're welcomed by the returning Jim Ross, who makes as little noise about his sudden re-appearance as possible, lest we remember who he's replacing and what he said on his way out. Joey Who? To hear JR and Jerry Lawler tell it, we've got a killer show on the way tonight, what with a pair of PPV rematches. So let's not dawdle...

Somebody Forgot to Write the Punchline Theatre

Triple H begins the night's festivities for us. And for some odd reason, he's entering to his Original Theme Song, though I thought that "Bow Down to the King" was his new theme for all non-match entrances.

Trips clears that up, post haste, by getting on the mic and declaring that he's not here to referee or to talk, he's here to wrestle. He wants a one-on-one title shot at John Cena, and he wants it RIGHT NOW. And by "right now," he means: "after I continue to speak for several more minutes." D'oh.

You see, HHH realizes that he's had his title shots and that fans might think it's time for HHH to give someone else a chance. But no: Triple H has beaten everybody there is to beat in this business, and the normal rules do not apply to him. If Hunter's trying to be a babyface, I think he picked verbiage that was just a tad off. It's one thing to exude confident bad-assery. It's another to exude nothing more than entitlement. There had to have been a less "Me Wanty" way of conveying the notion of deserving another title shot...

But Trips gets everybody back in the groove by doing the Proper Babyface Thing and being the Challenge Issuer, as he once again demands that he get his title shot RIGHT NOW. And this time, he means it, because he calls Cena out to the ring.

And after a pregnant pause, they send in the clown. The Big SQUEEEEE gives way to an undercurrent of boos, but this seems like it might be a bit less of a Cena Hatin' crowd than we've seen in recent weeks. Cena starts off with a False Analogy, claiming that HHH is like the Yankees. HHH has 10 World Titles, the Yankees have like 27. But it's not about how many titles you've had, it's about what you're doing NOW. Ummmm, Homey: May 9, 2006, Yankees 18-11, First Place in the American League East. So unless the goal was to point out that Triple H is on top of his game and a solid favorite to be the next World Champion, mission NOT accomplished, John.

So Cena's not buying HHH's past resume as an excuse to get Bonus Title Shots... but Cena continues to think out loud, and he realizes that there's probably only two ways to handle this situation. (1) Nut up and fight HHH one more time even though he doesn't deserve it. Or (2) resign himself to the fact that if he doesn't fight HHH, then HHH will come out here every week and talk and talk and talk and then he'll probably sneak around and find some way to hit Cena in the head with a sledgehammer. HHH's smirk on that last part was funny (and a goodly part of the crowd seemed in favor of as much Sledge-on-Wigger Violence that HHH would like to provide).

So Cena decides he might as well just choose Option #1. It's on? Nope, not quite... because when HHH calls for a referee to get out here, he gets Vince McMahon, instead.

Vince Silly Walks his way on down to the ring, and promptly poops the party by announcing there will be no title match tonight. Vince is displeased with HHH over the way HHH walked out on his refereeing duties last week. HHH tries to kiss up to Vince by saying he's sorry, he didn't realize how badly Vince wanted Spirit Squad Kenny to win last week. "But look at it this way, Vince, did you really want to trade up to a cheerleader from a poser?" Watch it, Trips: like I said, California loves their posers.

Vince's look makes it clear that he really didn't care either way, but Cena has apparently been well-prepped by the writer monkeys that this line was coming, because he has a Prepared Spiel that involves him making numerous allegedly funny poses. Oy. The last month or so taught us that a bit more casual, free-wheeling tone to these opening promos worked to REALLY good effect, and we're right back to something that feels like it was written, re-written, and memorized, rather than something meant to engage and play off the crowd.

Anyway, HHH distances himself from the silly posing by turning to Vince and trying to get all serious: HHH says he's a proven formula... he wins titles, and Vince makes money. Lots of money. So c'mon, let's just make the match. Finally Vince relents, and agrees to give HHH a title match.... but: Not Tonight. HHH is mildly miffed that he'll have to wait a week, but Vince says he has other plans for Cena tonight. On the grounds that that could amount to a "softening up," HHH decides to go along with Vince's edict, and Hunter leaves the ring when asked.

Meantime, Cena gets his assignment for the night. Seeing as how Michaels showed up to be Cena's buddy last week, maybe the two of them would like to go partners tonight? Against all five members of the Spirit Squad. Cena is NOT a big fan of this, and attempts to tell Vince to "Kiss my ass," but Vince has the mic cut off, and then awkwardly announces that it's time for our opening match....

Ummm, did somebody forget the punchline? Or did they just not run it through in their heads to realize how awkwardly this would play? Very clunky close to a promo that was a few notches short of other recent HHH/Cena interactions, but which I guess accomplished its goal of setting up the future HHH/Cena match and also giving us a main event for tonight. But still...

Rob Van Dam vs. The Man

After Vince hurridly ordered our opening match, Rob Van Dam made his way to the ring. As he did, he passed John Cena, and the two shared Meaningful Eye Contact. OMG, FORESHADOWING~! Just like Jeff Jarrett and Samoa Joe.

Then Van Dam got in the ring, and showed that he's every bit the loose cannon that Joey Styles is by asking for a mic and declaring that he agrees with everything Joey said last week, and he respects Joey for having the balls to stand up for himself and say them. So in honor of Joey's brave stance, RVD would like the fans to chant three DIFFERENT letters, instead of "RVD" tonight. He'd like them to chant "ECW." Which would probably have come off a bit more climactically if the crowd hadn't already been chanting "ECW" since the very start of the promo.

Random Question: we saw Cena leave, but where was Vince during all this pro-ECW, anti-Sports-Entertainment riffing by RVD? And who does Matt Hocking have to blow around here in order to have gotten a reaction shot of The Boss? 

Anyway, RVD wraps up and soaks in the ECW chants as we get a break for....

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Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Charlie Haas vs. Chris F. Masters (Four Way Match for the IC Title)

We return to find Masters already in the ring with RVD. So we have been spared the Shittiest Ring Entrance in Wrestling! Nee haw! Haas is in the ring, too, and we just have to wait for Shelton to get on down to the squared circle...

Once he does, we begin. And the announcers waste no time pointing out what I'd already noticed: that RVD doesn't have to be beaten to lose his IC Title. I kinda thought that might be where they were going, actually, since the IC Title only gums up the works for the One Night Stand Money in the Bank match, but what do I know?

RVD inexplicably powders out 10 seconds into the match. I shit you not. Ten seconds of punches, then CFM tosses him over the top rope, and Van Dam is dead to the world for the next 2 minutes. Leaving Masters and Shelton to team up on Haas the whole time.

And it works for a bit, but as soon as it seems Haas might be beaten down enough to be pinned, tensions flare-up between CFM and Shelton. Masters turns on Benjamin, and tosses Shelton out of the ring to pursue near falls of his own on Haas. Which is just about when RVD decided to awake from his slumber.

A flurry of kicks sends Masters out of the ring. Shelton tries getting back into the ring, and fails as he's intercepted by more RVD kicks. And finally when Haas dares to get to his feet, he gets the same treatment. RVD's alone in the ring, and I assumed he was looking for somebody to jump onto for our big pre-ad-break high spot. But instead, he just stands there, as we cut to....

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Back, and the tide, as they say, had turned. Masters is working over Van Dam, and I quickly realize that none of my usual tricks for telling the Story Of The Match (without resorting to bland, boring, move-for-move play-by-play) are going to work here. There is no real psychology with four guys moving in and out of the match.

So the next 5 minutes really are just a deal where 2 guys get some time to do a few spots together, then somebody else shows up, and one or both of the original guys powders out, and let's the new tandem do some stuff, then you lather, rinse, and repeat as necessary.

The first duo? Was RVD and Masters. Then Shelton got a Power Up, and did a bit with Masters. Then it was RVD and Shelton for a bit. Then it was Shelton and Haas for a nice sequence (including a killer KO Kick by Shelton). Then more RVD/Shelton (including a crisply executed double-reversed powerbomb-into-a-roll-up spot that I loved). Then Masters/Shelton as RVD got sent out to the floor.

Final spot had Haas interjecting himself, sending Shelton out of the ring, too. But Masters was lying in wait, and at the first opportunity, locked in the full nelson on Haas. And, as we're enjoying an awkwardly-tight close-up of the full nelson, somebody or something comes flying into the frame from one side, and apparently tackles Masters  out of the frame on the other side. Christ, do I need to do my "Kevin Dunn is a twit" rant again? Just shoot the matches like actual sporting events, and quit trying to create false tension with contrived camera angles that "hide" an upcoming surprise. Cuz all you end up doing is missing the spot entirely.

And in fact, it took replays to show us that what had happened was RVD had gotten up on the top rope, leapt OVER Haas and Masters, and grabbed Masters on his way down and turned it into an Atomic Sunset Flip for the pinfall. Very nice spot. Wish I had been able to see it the first time.

Your Winner, and Still IC Champ: Rob Van Dam, via pinfall, in about 8 minutes. Let's call it a "popcorn match." Because like your standard summer popcorn movies, this wasn't exactly well-mapped-out to tell a compelling story.... it was just a set of loosely connected Set Pieces, each of which is pretty fun in a fluffy sort of way. That's probably all you can expect out of a TV-length four-way match where you have to give everybody something to do. Bonus points for making me out-think myself: like I said earlier, I was honestly primed for this to be the match where RVD lost the IC Title (without actually losing the match himself), so his win did catch me a bit by surprise. And for a good reason, NOT because of Dunn's crap-ass directing.

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Famous People Love WWE!: Luke Perry is sitting at ringside! Billy Gibbons (and possibly the other non-bearded member of ZZ Top, too) is sitting at ringside! But they aren't sitting together! Because Billy Gibbons is WAY too cool to be seen with some no-talent jack-off who actually decided to go out in public wearing a Chain Gang t-shirt. Still.... somehow, that's perfect: Luke Perry and John Cena, united in Toolboxery!

WWE Makes Movies with Unfamous People!: yet another trailer for Kane's movie. Yet another work-out for my Fast Forward Finger.

And Those Unfamous People are Here Tonight!: coming out of the trailer, Tough Questions Todd Grisham is surrounded by the non-Kane Cast of Kane's movie. The two chicks each attest to Kane being a bona fide creep. The second of the two finishes her line and then smiles dimly off to the side as if to ask "Did I do good?". Ugh. Then the one guy starts talking about the movie coming out on May 19, which summons Kane. Kane chokes the guy and tells him not to say that date any more. What did we learn from this segment? That quite possibly Kane is the most-talented actor in his new movie. Which is not a compliment.

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Carlito vs. Matt Striker

Striker's still rocking the argyle sweater vest during his ring entrance which strikes me as supremely face-punch-inducing. [And that, by the way, IS a compliment.]

Even though this is, ostensibly, a follow-up match to the showdown these two had a few weeks ago on RAW, it gets all of 90 seconds. Most of which is Carlito in control, hitting his new babyface-ish high energy moves (like the high drop kick and the jawjacker elbow). And then, when Carlito turns to gloat over his handiwork, Eugene comes in and attacks Striker just as he's getting to his feet. Payback for that vicious (ugh) Dictionary Shot to the skull, I guess. But also grounds for disqualification.

Your Winner: Matt Striker, via DQ, in about 90 seconds. But the match wasn't the story. The story was the story. And it continued....

After the Match: Eugene realized what he'd done and turned to Carlito to apologize. Striker recovered and attacked Eugene from behind. Carlito did the nice thing, and pulled Striker off and pummeled him for a bit. Then Carlito did the naughty thing, and hit the double-knee back-cracker on Eugene. Carlito no-likey losing matches. [Uh oh. You know where this is going, don't you? Eugene gets mad at Carlito. Gullible Eugene starts listening to the advice of Matt Striker. And suddenly, Eugene turns heel to become Striker's "student." This should not be allowed to happen, but it will. I remember 2 years ago, in Eugene's very first appearances, we had some columns here on OO talking about what would and would not work when presenting the Retarded Wrestling Character. I think this would violate every one of those rules, and would become a mean spirited and unfunny pairing. It's the exact opposite of how fun the pairing of Striker with MASTERS could have been, because in that case, there's nothing mean or in-bad-taste about making Masters the butt of the joke. He was born of normal intelligence, and just so happens to have decided to grow up and become an ass-injecting retard. Putting him in the slot as Striker's Special Needs Student is OK, because Masters is Dumb By Choice. Get the subtle difference, there?]

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Edge vs. Mick Foley (Sort Of, But Not Really)

Edge enters first, and is accompanied by Lita, a Standard Baseball Bat, and a steel trashcan. And once in the ring, he also acquires a microphone.

Edge slams the crowd of Californians for thinking that life is just like a movie and that you always get happy endings. Well, not so. Edge proved it at WrestleMania when he beat Foley once. And in "the sequel," he promises to do it again. And to tie it all together, he promises it'll be "Rated R."

Punchline delivered, Edge defers to the sound-guy, who fires up Mick's entrance. Foley is out, accompanied by a Barbed Wire Baseball Bat, and he's already got his own microphone.

Mick says that after their battle at WM, it might be fair to say that this is a rematch between WWE's two toughest SOBs, and a rematch to determine who truly is the greatest hardcore wrestler alive. But if you're going to talk about Hardcore Greatness, you can't do it without mentioning three little letters.... ECW.

So Foley got to thinking, and realized that Edge said last week that Foley could pick ANY kind of match he wanted. So Foley's keeping it Hardcore Rules but he's making it a Three Way Dance.... with ECW's own Innovator of Violence, Tommy Dreamer.

Dreamer -- accompanied by his trusty Kendo Stick and also by a remarkably apathetic crowd response from the Californians -- hits the stage, and we've got ourselves a slightly different match, now....

Mick Foley vs. Edge vs. Tommy Dreamer (Hardcore Match)

Foley and Dreamer enter the ring together, and stalk Edge. So Edge decides to just bail out of the ring and formulate a different strategy. When he does, Dreamer turns his back on Foley, and....

Foley blast him across the back with the Barbed Wire Bat. Also to a lesser-than-I-would-have-expected reaction (more on that in a second). Dreamer went down, and Edge got in the ring, at first looking like he was content to face Foley one-on-one with Dreamer down. But then, Mick did an odd thing: he handed the barbed wire bat over to Edge, and invited him to do whatever he liked to Dreamer.

Edge took the bat (but did so reluctantly, it seemed). And Edge introduced Tommy's face to the barbed wire. Tommy began gushing blood (we're talking it was pouring off his face, Austin-at-WM13-style). And then Mick offered up a suggestion, and Edge decided to introduce Tommy's testicles to the barbed wire bat. Ouch. Truly, Tommy has the most-maligned mansac in the history of this business.

After a bit more 2-on-1 kicking, stomping, and baseball batting, Dreamer's a total mess. Lita joins in and helps Edge to prop Dreamer up. To a response that I'd call "sorta booing," Foley pulled out Mr. Socko and applied it to Dreamer. And as Foley locked it in and held Dreamer up by the mandible, Edge stepped back, got a running start, and speared Dreamer. With both Edge and Foley on top of Dreamer, a ref, for some reason, decided to count the fall. So they both win? They don't seem to mind, and in fact, leave arm-in-arm(-in-arm) with Lita, the issue of pre-mediation suddenly popping into the announcers' heads.

Your Co-Winners: Foley and Edge, via brutalization, in about 3-4 minutes, I guess. This didn't really go over huge with the live crowd, but I loved it, and think everything'll be just fine, reaction-wise, in coming weeks. Not only was this maybe the wrong city/crowd for such an angle, but I think WWE shot themselves in the foot by not doing at least a BIT more build-up to Dreamer's appearance, so that it meant something. Shave some time off that clunky opening promo, and find a spot for Foley to introduce the concept of having Dreamer in the match. Edge could have played off that by acting pissed off and concerned (adding to the dickishness of the double-teaming later on). In fact, I know: Foley should not have made it a three-way match.... he should have announced that he wanted it to be a HANDICAP MATCH. Part of the reason why there wasn't a big pop or a big "moment" when Foley whacked Dreamer in the back is because under the rules of the three-way match, Foley attacking Dreamer was NOT heelish, and it made perfect sense. The heelish context only came into play later... announce a handicap match, though, and Foley's act is INSTANTLY recognizable as something unexpected and foul.  But that minor gripe (and Rick Style Accompanying Fix) aside, I dig this. It's like they've been saying for years: nobody gets his ass kicked better than Tommy Dreamer.

Also, I look forward to the future explanation/amplification of Foley's reasons. You can count on the "WrestleMania Moment" (which Foley identified as Edge's Khan-style facial expression, the one that said "Was it all worth it?") being a lynch-pin, since after identifying that moment, Foley accused Edge of being the kind of wuss-bag who did NOT want to go through all that again. But in truth, Mick can say he realized -- in that WM Moment -- that *HE* should not go through all this, either, and he can accuse the fans of being vampires or deluded or whatever they are for cheering the violence and for thinking that Mick loves the pain. It leads to an anti-hardcore variation on Foley's final heel character in ECW, circa 1996. And what a coinkydink: EXACTLY 10 years later, and ECW's coming back. I don't know if Mick necessarily has any designs on being a full-time character for ECW, but at the very least, this is all the set-up you need for Mick and Edge to team up at the One Night Stand PPV to face Tommy Dreamer and Terry Funk. All flows together very nicely....

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Mickie James vs. Maria the Mic Stand (Non-Title Match)

During Maria's entrance, part of me started formulating a rant about how her new theme song is perhaps the Worst Theme Song Ever. Not only is it obnoxious AlternaDouche Whining, but it also has a NEGATIVE amount of "ThemeSong-osity" (which is a quantity that I've just made up, but you know what I mean: just because a song is good doesn't mean it makes the kind of impact that you want in an entrance theme). But then that part of my annoyance began to wane, and the much bigger part of me became fixated on Trish Stratus proving once again that there's absolutely no reason for girls to ever bother with anything more complicated than jeans and a t-shirt. Hot is hot, no matter what, and any guy who needs ricockulous styling and wardrobing to appreciate it isn't worth trying to impress, anyways.

Oh, I should be more clear: jeans, a t-shirt, *and* a sling for that injured right shoulder, too. But you know how Trish rolls: medical equipment is always a fetching and sympathy-inducing affectation. Not an eyesore.

Match is a big fat nothing, really. Trish tried to distract Mickie at the start, allowing her vague-acquaintance Maria to get off to a hot start. But I think all Maria really accomplished was maybe one school-girl roll-up. And from there, Mickie was in berzerker mode. Punch, kick, stomp, gloat at Trish. Punch, kick, stomp, gloat at Trish. Punch, kick, stomp, DDT. Fin.

Your Winner: Mickie James, via pinfall, in 60 seconds flat. How many times to I have to say it in one recap: the match wasn't the story.... it was mere prelude for....

After the Match: Mickie resumed gloating at Trish, even inviting her up into the ring. But Trish? Knows her limits, and isn't gonna fight Mickie one-armed. At least, not until Mickie starts putting a Bonus Ass-Whupping on Maria. And even though Trish barely knows Maria, she is a good and decent person, and she tries to put a stop to it... Trish gets in just a few left hands before two-armed Mickie puts a stop to Trish's ill-advised attack. Mickie rips off the sling, and is about to do grievous damage to Trish's shoulder when.... well, let's call her Somebody.... when Somebody attacks. First instinct is that Diva Search Ashley must have finally gotten better. But then the announcers started selling it like it was a fan out of the crowd, and the security swarmed as if it was an unplanned happening. Even if unplanned, though, it becomes clear that Mickie knows who the assailant is ("What are you doing here? You always ruin everything!"), and once the cameras get a quick look, I know who the assailant is, too: Beth Phoenix from OVW. Let's see where they're going with this.... at least this means that while Trish is out for another month or so, Mickie will have somebody to fight other than the Mic Stand.

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Umaga vs. Some Guys (Handicap Match)

Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrrrada does some mic work. I listen.

Umaga enters and starts pounding on two jobbers. I fast-forward.

Your Winner: Umaga. And you know what's most shocking? According to the time-bar at the bottom of the screen, they let this run for 5 fucking minutes. Five minutes. 

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Big Show vs. Kane

What an odd bird this turned into... out of the gate, Show was intent on chain wrestling. The perpetual chuckle he had going had me wondering if this wasn't a Live TV Version of the kind of rib guys pull at house shows sometimes (to amuse themselves), and one of the reaction shots of Kane almost had me convinced he was as confused by Lucha Show as anyone. But I don't think that was the case... Show sticking to all technical wrestling and having a smile on his face actually fit into the story here, which is that Show still cares about his friend Kane and was just trying to lighten the mood.

And by the way: I'm not joking. Nor can I possibly do any play-by-play. But Show was honestly doing all these chain wrestling spots that -- if performed at full speed by Bungo McWorkrate and the mysterious masked Super Meltzer at a Ring of Honor show -- would result in the "spontaneous" Wanker Ovation of Mutual Respect. You know the one: Chainwrestle, chainwrestle, chainwrestle, both men get to their feet, and stare at the crowd until you fucking clap like you just saw something awesome.

So just imagine five straight minutes of Big Show doing those spots, and not being 100% confident that he told anybody he was going to do it beforehand. It's pretty fricking funny. 

And then, just when it might have started to get a bit old, for absolutely no apparent reason, the lights go red and the voices in Kane's head start up. This time, accompanied by a TitanTron Video which (and if I missed this at the PPV, I apologize) features Kane's old mask as its main visual element. Huh. Can you re-mask the Kane?

Anyway, the voices and the lighting only lasts about 10 seconds, and it goes away as stupidly as it came. And Kane decides to grab a chair, and starts wailing on Big Show with it.

Your Winner: Big Show, via DQ, in about 5 minutes or so. A perversely amusing contest... and no matter how stupid the "Voices in Kane's Head" thing is, even I perked up a bit when I noticed Kane's old mask. Not necessarily perked up in a GOOD way, but you get the idea... introducing Kane's old mask just gives the Writer Monkeys a whole OTHER slate of ways to make this angle stupider, ones I had not previously been considering. Viva la difference!

Backstage: the Spirit Squad are getting pumped up for the main event, and Kenny decides to speak up... after Shawn Michaels came down and screwed him out of the WWE Title, Kenny wants Shawn all to himself. That's fine with the other four guys, since they figure that among them, they can handle Cena. Hands in the middle, and goooooOOOOOOOOOO SPIRIT SQUAD~!

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This Week in Wrestling: Saturday Night's Main Event was born this week in 1986, and according to Voiceover Guy "still flourishes to this day." Ummm, given that pesky 15-year hiatus and the ratings SNME did back in March, I believe you need to replace "still" with "once again" and "flourishes" with "exists." "To this day" would then become grammatically awkward, so just leave it out. And THEN you'd have a factually accurate sentence.

More Famous People: Lemmy (also possibly with another, less-known, unnamed member of his band) is here! So *that's* why Hunter used his Match Entrance Music earlier for a promo.... because Lemmy needed theme music (and he got it).

Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. the Spirit Squad

Before the Good Guys entered, the Squad regaled use with a (purposely-)bad cheer about how they are going to win tonight. Then Michaels out to a positive reaction, and finally Cena to his still-mixed reaction. Not even going up against male cheerleaders can render Cena likeable to a very large segment of WWE's audience....

Michaels opts to start for his team, and Kenny gets his wish by starting for his. And then wishes he hadn't gotten his wish, as Michaels starts laying into him with some Benoit-caliber knife-edge chops. The first time Kenny can get free, he scampers to his corner and gets a tag. Michaels figures that's as good a time as any to get HIS partner into the match, too. About 30% of the live audience disagrees, but hey: Cena's gonna have to do SOME of the work here tonight, folks.

So Cena gets down to business with one of the Not-Kennys. Seriously, dudes: just put your shirts back on. Or maybe write your names on your asses, or something. I'm sure I could tell you apart if I really wanted to. But I don't. So make it easier for me, please?

The Not-Kenny actually out-amateur wrestles Cena. I won't say Cena looked lost, but he certainly only got back into his element when he finally managed to hit one of his wacky (JR: "unorthodox") moves. In fact, Cena strung a few of them together, and went for a pinfall following a Wacky Suplex. Another Not Kenny had to come in and break that up. And when Cena got up and started going Wacky on that Not Kenny, the two other Not Kennys got involved, too. With a little help from Shawn Michaels, Cena got all four Not Kennys tossed out of the ring.

And what of Kenny? Well, he was standing around, minding his own business, when Michaels and Cena forcefully dragged him into the ring.... and then threw him out of it, right on top of his four teammates. Nice big high spot, which can only mean more....

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Back, and Cena's still dominating one of the Not Kennys. Actually, given the ferocity of Cena's rally, my guess is that we came back from the break either right at the start of a Cena Comeback Spot, or right after Cena had been Decoy Hot Tagged into the match... Cena's rally hits its peak after about one minute, and he's got the Not Kenny in position for the F-U...

But then other Spirit Squad members come in for the save, and when Michaels tries to get into the ring to even the odds a bit, the ref gets distracted by HBK. This allows the Squad to swarm all over Cena and beat the piss out of him for a bit.

As I've been complaining in recent weeks, the Squad again eschewed the sort of obnoxious mincing and prancing that would have brought the fans into the match a bit more. They're trying for Legitimate Bad Ass Intensity, and I think it's too soon to be going for that, and it's hurting their matches. I will say this, though: interspersed with the uninspired standard beatdown tactics (including each Squad Member taking a turn with a resthold of his choosing, it seemed like) were some neat spots. The best was a Trampampoline-Assisted High Elevation Flying Clothesline. Didn't I tell you from Day One that the Spirit Squad's trampoline would be integral to their success, people? 

Anyway: you've seen this story a thousand times, and I don't need to rehash how the fan favorite (or in this case, the John Cena) gets his ass handed to him by the bad guys until a bad guy makes a mistake. In this case, one of the Not Kennys missed a top rope senton (JR: "moonsault"; brain-washed Jeff Hardy fans: "Swanton"), and Cena was able to make the last-second dive into his corner to tag in Michaels.

The house? Is afire. Michaels is on a rampage, assisted by the fact that the Squad chooses to attack in the proven, age-old "one-ninja-at-a-time" fashion. At least for a bit. Then, two of the Squad get clever. While three of the Not Kennys stay in the ring and get throttled by Michaels, one of the Not Kennys has decided to tend to Cena's carcass. Just to be sure, Cena gets tossed into the steel ringsteps. He shan't be a problem again tonight. And then, while the ref is being distracted by that, Kenny has grabbed one of the Tag Title belts.

Shawn finishes superkicking the last Not Kenny in the ring with him, and turns around to eat a belt-shot to the skull from Kenny. Toss that belt aside, make the cover, and just wait for the ref to turn back around.

Your Winners: The Spirit Squad, via pinfall, in about 12-15 minutes. My little gripe about the Squad's heel beatdown not being quite what it could be aside, this was actually a pretty fun way to spend a main event. It's the first time we've gotten a match of this length or complexity in the RAW main event spot in a LOOOONNNNG time, and it was a welcome return.

After the Match: the ref tries to raise Kenny's hand, but Kenny knocks him out, instead. Then he takes the ref's belt. And then he starts whipping Michaels with it. Somebody, JR opines, needs to do something about this. And before too much longer, we have two options: Cena is finally getting into the ring, while -- at the exact same time -- Triple H has started coming down the ramp. Cena's in first to start on the Squad, but HHH joins in, too. And once the Squad is all gone, HHH picks his spot, blindsides Cena, and nails him with the Pedigree. Cena's out, Michaels is dead, so to close out the show on a happy note, Triple H adds in a couple of Bonus Crotch Chops. 

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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