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ECW's Not the Only Thing Being 
Revived Around Here... 
June 20, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, well, well...
Everybody's got their panties all in a bunch of the "authenticity" (or lack there of) of the newly revived ECW. And then, out of left field, while nobody was really expecting it: WWE decided to revive the 1998 version of the WWF. And for the most part, they did it in pitch-perfect, totally-authentic fashion. Warts and all. 

Because yep: this was a show with plenty of faults (of the type the generally cleared up following a personnel change in late 1999, if you take my meaning, as the WWF truly hit its stride with a slightly tweaked formula and embarked on their "glory days"). I mean, there was once again not a single whit of significant in-ring action. I have to assume there were Time Management Issues because of how things happened towards the end of the show. And complicating those is the fact that if better decisions had been made in terms of Content Management, then Time Management would never have been an issue. I mean, honestly: who looks at the format sheet for a pre-PPV TV show and thinks "Yep, Vis vs. Charlie Haas and Randy Orton vs. Snitsky are both VERY vital to our central mission"? Nobody *I* would want in charge of a wrestling company, that's for sure.

But the flip side of the coin? Unlike that show a few weeks ago that was also light on wrestling and was probably an attempted homage of Crash TV, this one also brought to the table all the things that made the WWF of 1998 so addictively watchable. Sex, violence, unapologetically crass humor, and a certain velocity to things that almost (ALMOST) made it impossible to ever get bored over the course of two hours. Or, in a word: it had ATTITUDE. And Attitude, for all its flaws, had a lot going for it in terms of pure entertainment value.

Still, my Irony Meter is stuck on this notion that its really weird that WWE is having such a hard time (so far) finding the right way to go about re-creating the authentic spirit of ECW.... and yet, they almost effortlessly re-created their own Attitude Era last night, which is to say: they authentically recreated their own rip-off of all things ECW.

Somebody more conspiratorial or cynically-minded than me might read into that and say that WWE is scooping the new ECW's heat by once again "out-ECW'ing" them, just like they did in '98 and '99... but me? For now, at least, I'll let that sleeping dog lie, and just squeeze what guilty pleasures I can out of a one-week trip in the Time Machine. All the way back to 1998: so if it seems I'm a bit too easily amused by any of this stuff, just remember that I was stupider back then. On paper, at least, since I hadn't yet completed my education, and you know how much smarter you get when they finally DO give you that piece of paper....

In honor of our returning guests from the past, let's Break It Down...

Cold Open: The Immaturity Beginulates!

We open on a backstage shot of Vince McMahon in his office. And he's in a relatively decent mood. Because, you see, 2 weeks ago, Triple H managed to avoid joining the Kiss My Ass Club, like his buddy Shawn Michaels did. And one week ago, Vince's plan to use the Spirit Squad to cause HHH a career-ending injury (just like he did to his buddy Shawn Michaels) backfired, when it turned out Michaels wasn't so career-injured afterall.

So now, DX is back, and Vince knows full well that they'll take their medicine at Vengeance when they face all five members of the Spirit Squad. But Vince's good mood tonight is because the destruction of DX begins right now. Vince has a plan, and it will swing into motion the second he gets to the ring!

But instead of throwing to the Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., the camera follows along with Vince as he heads towards the arena. Which is convenient, because it seems DX has arranged for this to be something of a Walk of Shame.

1) Immediately outside his office, Vince is met by a man holding a chicken. Vince wants to know what gives with the chicken. The man says "Well, actually, this is a cock. And I heard you love cocks." Vince is livid, and moves on.

2) An Alien sneaks up behind Vince and starts following him in spooky fashion. Vince grows increasingly annoyed by this costumed shadow, but knowing that aliens don't speak English, he manages to cow the spaceman with a Death Stare. The Alien stays put as Vince grows more upset, and moves on. [That's a joke that -- what? -- five percent of your audience is gonna get? Still, I'm in the five percent, so I chuckled. Although it would have been even funnier if they'd found an excuse for Heyman to be the one to befoul the Alien.]

3) A pair of Upstate New York's gayest male strippers (are there any other kind?) and a fat guy dressed up like a male stripper stop Vince. And why Vince didn't just keep on moving past them at Warp 9 is beyond me. But he stops. And is told "It's time." "Time for what?" asks Vince. "Time to blow your mind!" The tubby stripper hits the music and immediately loses his pants, revealing some sort of furry man-hammock and the first of the night's myriad bare asses. Oy. Vince is furious and moves on.

4) Vince bumps into Dusty Rhodes, and finally things he's found a mature adult with whom he can commiserate about these various humiliations, which are clearly the responsibility of DX. But Dusty doesn't care about DX, he cares about DVD. His DVD, currently in stores. Vince is annoyed and moves on (but not before lingering just long enough to let Dusty complete the majority of his revenue generating plug).

5) A package delivery guy stops Vince and asks him to sign for a package. Vince refuses to sign until he's told what's inside the box. Turns out, it's a European Penis Enlarger Pump. Ha? Vince has had enough, and throws the pump aside, shoves past the delivery guy, and is clearly just about ready to head to the ring for....

Part Two: Vince's Plan is Foiled

There's a brief cut to the arena where we're welcomed to the show (live from Rochester, NY) by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler, but instantly after that, Vince's music starts. And he's so angry he almost forgets to put any Silly in that Walk of his. Almost. [Hey, no ramp tonight. And it's not a joint SuperShow Taping. I trust I've got you all well-trained enough that you INSTANTLY made the mental leap to assuming that means some sort of vehicular stunt tonight! I also trust you were happy when, for whatever reason, we all turned out to be wrong by the end of the night!]

Vince says he hopes DX has had their fun, because starting right now, *he* has got Two Words for *them*. "Living Hell." BOO~! And also an "Asshole" chant. Hey, how's about freshening it up a bit, folks? A "You like cocks, You like cocks" chant would have been HIGHlarious here.

Then again, given Vince's next riff, that's not the only dubious thing Vince likes: he demands that DX come on out to this ring, because he intends to stick his size 12 shoe "between Triple H's butt cheeks." And then take that same shoe and "kick Shawn Michaels teeth down his throat." Ewwww. Just ewwwww. I certainly have my perversions and preferences, but I try to keep them non-disgusting and non-degrading. Not Vince, who is apparently an aficionado of HotAss2MouthAction.com's titular fetish. Gross.

[Good lord do I ever hope that I really did just make up that website. Because if it exists, I'm gonna get me another talking-to from my ad agency about providing links to porn. Not that *I've* ever done it before, but the perverts in the forums got me in trouble a couple of months ago... and now? There's no ads in the forums because of them. Jerks.]

Anyway, before Vince can reveal any more of his sicko side, we are interrupted, and NOT by DX, as requested. Instead, Shane is sort of power-walking to the ring, waving for his dad to drop the mic and just follow him. But Vince is all "What? Why? I have this big master plan for tonight, so quit distracting me." Since Vince won't budge, Shane finally gets into the ring right up next to Vince... and the ring mics pick up Shane saying that Stephanie has gone into labor, and they need to rush back to Stamford right now to be with her.

Vince resists again, at first, but Shane is insistent and says he's got the car ready and the corporate jet on call, so c'mon Pops, let's go. Finally, Vince relents, but he doesn't look happy about it.

Nor does Vince SOUND happy about it as the cameras follow him backstage, and they are met by Jonathan Coachman, who is all "Is everything OK, Mr. McMahon?" and Vince -- supreme assface that he is -- says no, everything's not OK. He had big plans for tonight, and now his daughter's in labor. Shane is already half in the limo and is continuously shouting for his dad to just drop it and get in the car already, but Vince isn't done being a megajerk.

The exact quote to Coach was "Stephanie always had terrible timing. That bitch!"... with that, Vince finally heads towards the car, pausing only to tell Coach, "So I guess this means you're in charge tonight. I expect you to follow through on my plan." Vince and Shane's limo finally speeds off, leaving Coach to look more than a tad nervous about being left in control of a show that seems destined to get out of control. Poor guy.

Quick question: what are the odds on Shane McMahon ending up revealing a DX t-shirt on Sunday's PPV? Just thinking out loud is all...


Some Stupid Filler: Torrie Wilson. In a bikini. At a backyard barbeque. Fondling hot dogs. And apparently they were taking pictures of all this. Which will be on newsstands soon. Umm: so if I were 13 and this were the sort of thing I'd use to plumpen my wang, what sense does it make to give us the pretty moving pictures of Torrie, half naked on the set, for free and then ask us to pay for the boring old still photography? That's one thing I still don't get about WWE's pimping of magazine pictorials.

Torrie Wilson and Maria the Mic Stand vs. Mickie James and Candice Michelle (Bra and Panties Match)

While Lawler's drooling over the requisite Silly Outfits (garters, lacy bustiers, etc.) busted out by Maria and Candice for the occasion, I'd just like to assure the more discriminating admirers of the ladies out there that, yes indeed, Lilian Garcia was actually the most-sexily attired babe in the ring at this point.

Torrie starts the match with Titties McSuperbowl, and within 30 seconds of awkward groping and rolling around, Candice's frilly top is removed. And Candice -- the girl whose life ambition was to be naked in Playboy -- gets self-conscious that we can now all see her TV-G caliber brassiere, and has no choice to tag out to Mickie. Hey, there may be a grand total of zero (0) internal logic to Candice's character and behavior, but getting Mickie into the match is a good thing, right?

Well, not really: it still takes two to tango, and there aren't really any capable dance partners on the other side of the ring. But at least they sort of worked that into the story of the match: Mickie, as our Women's Champ, was having none of this happy crappy, and pretty much beat the hell out of Maria, took off her clothes, and then finished off Torrie, and took off her clothes. And that was that. It took her less than a minute, and our women's champ didn't lose a shred of her own clothes when dealing swiftly with the opposing eye candy.

Your Winner: Mickie James (oh, OK, and Candice), via stripping down the other team to family-friendly underthings, in roughly 2 minutes flat. Hey, it was what it was. And to be honest, this is the first time in a while when one of these pointless and flaccid attempts at titillation had an effective subtext: Mickie's actually a capable wrestler, and surrounded by three pieces of eye candy, she'll have no trouble beating the crap out of them. In fact, that subtle subtext became a screaming headline.....

After the Match: Candice tries to join in the celebration with Mickie, but after a moment's reflection, Mickie realizes she did all the work here and she clubbers Candice and finishes stripping *her* down, too. And then mockingly did the Go Daddy dance, which, frankly, is the most I've ever enjoyed it. Somewhere, I'm sure the Writer Monkeys think they just turned Candice babyface. But all they did is once again miss the boat completely on basic fan psychology and compound the problems of Mickie getting cheered when they don't want her to be. Dum dums. Once Candice was disposed of, Mickie went out to ringside and stole JR's hat and taunted/teased him for a bit (because there's an institutional mandate that JR must be taunted by girls once per week; apparently, not to name any names, there's somebody in a position of power in WWE who has the maturity of a sixth grader and thinks this is funny). And then, just to compound the already-compounded problem, Mickie spots a stripper-looking-type, conveniently-planted in the front row, and decides to yank her shirt off for the hell of it. This crowd tonight likes its bOObies.


Viscera vs. Charlie Haas

Haas already in the ring to start. Viscera lumbers out (giving plenty of time for replays of Haas's bumping of Lilian two weeks ago, and Vis' misguided attempt at chivalry last week). And Vis gets a mic. Ugh. "You better apologize to my girl, Lilian." Ummm, Vis: Haas already did that, rather sincerely, last week. Haas: "Hey, big fella, Lilian already accepted my apology. After we went out to dinner this weekend. She accepted my apology over some Pillow Talk."

Hokay: so last week, Haas is sincere and the babyface, and now Lilian is abhored that Charlie would disgrace her good and virtuous name by lying, which makes him a jackass heel. Somebody just sit down and figure out which story you want to tell here, and then? DON'T. Because not a one of us cares about it.

While Lilian is upset by Haas' lies, Vis is upset that somebody else is not-really-having-sex-with his not-girlfriend. Go ahead, try to wrap your head around that, I'll wait. So Vis slugs Haas, and the match begins.

Fat man offense, Haas uses technique and speed to evade the worst of it, lather, rinse, repeat. For several minutes. Ugh. Only part of the match I remember is that JR started riffing on Coach being in charge tonight, and how "That's like Al Swearengen taking over the camp!".... ummm, plus 10 for pimping a High Quality Show, Jim, but minus several million for sounding like you've probably never actually watched it. Otherwise, there's no way you'd actually put the Coach and Al Swearengen in the same sentence. Ever. 

Coach-in-Charge is, if you'd like to run with this particular analogy, like EB Farnham getting to be Mayor despite being the biggest spineless, ass-kissing pussbag in the camp. Please make a note of this, and do not besmirch the name of the fictional character who -- freshly nine-fingered -- uttered one of the more bad-ass lines in television history this past Sunday night when he said "I'm havin' mine served cold, boys." Which might sound like a dessert order to you if you didn't see the show, but which, trust me, was the furthest thing from. Sorry 'bout yer damned luck, Major Dad.

Why am I digressing? Because this match was boring as hell and had no business gumming up the works. It's one of the "Content Management" issues I mentioned. All told: this was at least five minutes wasted. And worst off: it didn't even have a finish, because in the middle of the Nothing Happening, the Spirit Squad ran out, apropos of nothing, and attacked both men. 

Your Winner: Nobody, it was a No Contest in about 3-4 minutes. Why? Maybe plus a few Spirit Stars for the Squad elevating Vis more than 3 feet off the ground on their Fukuoko Toss, but other than that, I'm baffled this made it to TV the Monday before a PPV.

After the Match: the Spirit Squad speak! But since they had their fronts to the camera, I can't see their names on their jerseys, and thus can't tell which of them did the mic work. Doesn't matter, it's not important. The gist of it is: "Come on out here DX, and get your ass kicked, because this was part of Vince McMahon's plan. Or something." Once that sentiment is duly conveyed, Shawn Michaels and Triple H appear on the TitanTron. Shawn is channeling Burgess Meredith from "Rocky" and feigning anxiety that there's five of them and only 2 of us and they're gonna "murderize" us. Hunter snaps him out of it by pointing out, "Relax. They're only cheerleaders." Oh yeah. Suddenly, Shawn's just fine. We quickly (well, not so quickly; even in immature ass mode, HHH has issues with succinctness) get informed that DX will come out there tonight, but not at the behest of the Spirit Squad. They'll do it on their terms, or whatever. Bleh. So in the interim, Spirit Squad: they've got two words for ya. But they aren't the two you might have guessed. They are: "Look up."

And with that, a flood of green slime gushes from the ceiling and coats the Squad, the ring, and ringside. The Squad, by law, are required to flop around and keep falling over for several minutes. Michaels and HHH laugh and laugh and laugh in a way that is so fake that I guess you're supposed to be in on the "real"  joke, which is that this is so immature and juvenile that it's not really funny. And if that was the intended "real" joke, ummm: it's not very funny, either, come to think of it. Or maybe I'm just salty because I did identify this as one of the Time Management Problems: not only did the stick on the camera shots of the Squad flopping and DX fake-laughing well past the point of it being worthwhile or amusing, but when you slime the ring like that, you're talking about a pain in the ass delay while you clean it up and then a slowing down of the in-ring action just because I'm sure nobody wants to hit a renegade spot of lingering ooze and break their ankle. There *had* to have been a better (quicker, less-delay-causing) way of accomplishing the same basic goal? One that wouldn't have started with Vis/Haas and ended with a giant, show-halting mess in the ring, perhaps. 


Moments Ago: somebody in the truck was way more amused by the Squad's flopping than I was, since now we get even MORE footage of it.

Backstage: a slime-covered Spirit Squad confront the Coach, who assures them that he'll still figure out some way to execute Mr. McMahon's plan tonight and get revenge on DX. In the meantime, the boys oughta go get cleaned up. And for a bunch of guys who should really enjoy the prospects of hopping in the shower together, they're still all pissy as Coach walks away.

Kubrick Segue: and the camera follows as Coach puffs out his chest and decides to head into Mr. McMahon's office to set up camp. But in the office? He finds Paul Heyman. First, Heyman is quick to inform us that ECW was the highest rated show on cable TV last Tuesday, and will be again tomorrow (10pm, 9 central, only on Sci-Fi). Second, Heyman says he promised to crash RAW, and he's making good on that promise, cuz hey, RAW can use some of that rub from ECW (10pm, 9 central, only on Sci-Fi). Third, if Coach doesn't want this to get ugly, he'll negotiate, because Heyman has a "bus load" of ECW renegades outside the arena. What are they, like the high school marching band? But Coach understands this could be a problem, so he's willing to negotiate. So Heyman suggests a big match for tomorrow night's ECW show: he'd like to invite Edge and Randy Orton from RAW to come and take on Rob Van Dam and Kurt Angle. Coach says that sounds OK to him. And then for tonight on RAW, Heyman would be more than happy to give back to Coach: perhaps tonight, John Cena would like to face Balls Mahoney in a one-on-one match? Coach thinks Cena would, in fact, be happy to kick Balls' ass again, just like he did last week. As the segment ended, the look on Heyman's face suggested it might not be as easy as all that....

Wasting Time: more replays of the green slime, then shots of the clean up work being done, then a few minutes of vamping at the commentary desk, then more shots of the clean-up work being done. This is the company that had the "foresight" to put Mark Henry in the ring for the Worst PPV Main Event in recent memory, because they wanted to "blow up" the ring and knew they couldn't do that in the middle of the show... yet they're more than willing to slime the ring in the middle of the show, and bring it to a screeching halt on a night when time is tight as it is.

Needs More Kane: finally, all the vamping about slime gives way to a totally organic discussion about Kane. And hey, how convenient: Kane is standing by backstage, where he can hear JR. So JR asks him: "Do you have any ideas about who this is that's impersonating you and why?"... and Kane says yes, he knows EXACTLY who it is and why. So JR wants him to spill it. But that's when Kane goes into "You don't understand, he's a weirdo, we grew up together and even I thought he was sick." JR's all "OK, well, give us some details, and maybe we can help." But Kane's all "No, you don't understand, just leave me alone. YOU HAVE TO RESPECT MY DRAMA~! YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND.!".... ummmm, okay, dude. On the upside: at least Kane didn't reveal that this was Katie Vick's over-protective brother come to finally wreak his vengeance. On the downside, I'm not really sure I see the benefit to having Kane continuously pull this Drama Queen/"You Don't Understand" Act (as he has since the start of "May 19") without giving us a sense of End Game and building up to a re-bad-ass-ening of the Big Red Machine. This new Kane seems like he belongs sulking at gay-ass Poetry Slams, where he might finally learn to express his emotions so we can "understand" him, instead of inside a wrestling ring.


Umaga vs. Some Guy

Christ, will it ever end? This match existed for the sole purpose of letting the announcers talk about Umaga vs. Eugene being added to the PPV this coming Sunday. 

Your Winner: Umaga, via pinfall, in less than one minute. Why? I'm beggin' ya, tell me! This is not a rhetorical question. Then again, maybe the reason why is so that Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrada could make me smile when he picked up the mic after the match to address the crowd. But when he introduced himself by name, the crowd simply could not stop itself from singing along.... so Armando simply dropped the mic before he hit the "Estrrrrrrrrrada," glared at the fans, and shooed Umaga away from ringside. Boo! And just that simple, anybody can see that one of these two men has connected with the audience in a meaningful way... and it's not the one being shoved down our throats by wrestling non-stop squashes.


John Cena vs. Balls Mahoney

Cena is out, with his usual supply of Mixed Reaction. Balls Mahoney is out with Paul Heyman and "Theme to ECW." Subtle message: even by ECW standards, Balls Mahoney is an anonymous jobber who doesn't get his own theme music. But you know what? It's close enough to true that I ain't gonna bother getting worked up about it.

And therein lies the problem: it's an ECW curtain jerker versus an established WWE main eventer. There's no real drama here, and even the ECW fans (of which there are plenty in upstate NY), don't feel motivated to get particularly vested in the match. Using the Managerial Power Of Pounding On The Ring Apron, Heyman does coax one very loud "E-C-Dub" chant out of the crowd, but that's about it. Nobody's cheering or booing for Balls, and Cena mostly gets his sqeals and half-hearted boos in return.

Match is short and brawl-y, with Heyman trying to help Balls out by feeding him his steel chair, but Cena counters, starts his superman rally of wacky moves, and finally locks Balls in the STF.
Your Winner: John Cena, via submission, in about 3-4 minutes. To be honest, considering who this was, they did a nice job keeping the action moving. Few lulls in terms of that. Just WAY too many lulls in terms of crowd interest. But that picks up substantially.....

After the Match: Heyman gets in the ring to check out Balls (ew), and Cena realizes he's got that pesky boss of ECW all to himself. He stalks Heyman back into a corner.... which is when Sabu strikes. Using a steel chair, Sabu decimates Cena, and eventually lays him out on the announce table. And then, in one of those See-it-to-believe-it Moments, Sabu hit a Triple Jump Legdrop (pausing on the last jump, just to let everybody contemplate what's about to happen) from the top rope through Cena and the table. Ho. Lee. Fuck. King. Shit. That's awesome.

Heyman quickly corrals Sabu away from the scene of the crime, while JR and Lawler go berzerk talking about how unjust it is that ECW came into our house and bloodied our champion in a heinous sneak attack. Cena's just sort of laying there, with a trickle of blood over his right eye, while I contemplate if JR's maybe going a bit overboard with his indignation....


Moments Ago: Sabu did something super-sweet, but Jim Ross has to pretend that he thought it sucked.

Snitsky vs. Randy Orton

Oh dear god no. When did I sign up to recap Heat? 

Snitsky's even less over than Balls Mahoney with this crowd, which (terrifyingly) allows for small "Let's go, Randy" chants (from MALES, no less) to peak through in 2 spots that I noticed. Uh oh: this is exactly what happened precisely two years ago. And I explained precisely why it was happening and precisely why WWE should ignore it. WWE did not listen to me. They paid for it with 2 straight months of Randy Orton, Babyface Champion, getting the lowest sustained RAW ratings since the end of the Monday Night War, and finally realized I had been right all along. And it only took them 9 months longer than it took me to figure it out. Yes, those cheers are real, but they don't mean what you think they mean, WWE. 

Because Randy Orton is really nothing but the TAG Brand Bodyspray of wrestlers: unless you are an immature, mongoloid fratboy with an unhealthy attitude towards the opposite sex, or are a homosexual male, or are the dimmest and most-shallow of girls, you simply have no use for or interest in either.

Match is a big fat zero. A minute of circling/stalling to begin. Orton does something to take control. Orton does the "Look, Me Posing" Pose of Extreme Unconvincingness. Orton hits the chinlock. Snitsky fires up. Snitsky tries for pump-handle slam (which I guess is his finisher). Orton counters out of it. Orton hits most of an RKO.

Your Winner: Randy Orton, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Credit them for trying to do something fancy and reverse-y with the final spot, but the final RKO was really sloppy and fake-looking as Orton didn't have a convincing grip on Snitsky as they both dropped down.

After the Match: Lawler took a mic over to ringside and intercept Orton for an interview. The gist of the question is "after what just happened to John Cena, how do you feel about having to go back into an ECW environment again tomorrow night with Edge as your partner?"... and Orton babbles about being plenty confident, and then mangles Accepted Grammar Practices as only he can by declaring "I don't care what ECW did to Cena because I'm more tough than Cena." And then, because dimwitted fuck-ups love company, he REPEATED THE EXACT SAME FUCK-UP by saying, "WAY more tough than Cena." 

Some will argue, "Quit being so picky, Rick, you got the point, didn't you?". I will respond, "Sure, but if you're asking me to take seriously a guy who, on a weekly basis, sounds like he shouldn't even have been allowed to graduate high school, you're barking up the wrong tree." I mean, I know I'm More Smart than 99% of people out there (WAY More Smart than 99% of the people out there), but I'm not holding Orton to those kinds of standards. I'm just asking him to meet 4th Grade English standards. Cuz dumb guys got no gravitas. And you need gravitas in this world to convince people you're worth paying attention to.


This Week in Wrestling: In 1981, Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race in a match between two guys who were making damned sure that there were no junior high fangirls in the arena, and that nary a SQUEEEEEEEE was heard. Talk about a pair of eyesores.

Carlito vs. Shelton Benjamin/Johnny Nitro (Handicap Match)

Carlito prefaces the match with some mic work. The Cliffs' Notes Version: for putting Carlito in this handicap match, Coach is Not Cool. But Carlito going into the three way match on Sunday's PPV and winning the IC Title? Thas Cool.

By the way, it's official: Jerry Lawler has made Melina's ring entrance measurably less hot. His behavior and banter is so embarrassing that I'm not just sorry for him, but I feel residual guilt that I am of the same gender and orientation as him. Hey, Jerry, it is possible to convey the notion of riveted eyeballs and partial arousal without making an ass of yourself. Hell, Tazz did it perfectly for the better part of a year. Take some notes, and quit acting like a retard so I can go back to guilt-free ogling of Melina's rump, OK?

First phase of the match was Carlito OWNING Nitro, even working in a few bits of what you TNA Enthusiasts out there might recognize as "Flippy Shit." What was coolest about that is that after the Flippy Shit, Carlito got up and turned to the camera as if to say "Bet you didn't know I had that in me." Frustrated, Nitro tagged Shelton in, and Shelton was all "OK, fine, you wuss. Stand there and watch as I show you how it's done."

Shelton proceeded to show Nitro how to get your ass kicked by Carlito. D'oh. Knee lifts, jawjacker elbow, nothing too fancy about this phase of Carlito's offense, as the "story" had kicked in, and had Carlito dominating Shelton while it was no Nitro's turn to act all cocky while standing on the apron, yelling at Shelton to quit being such a puss and fight back.

Finally, Shelton did land a big backdrop on a countered Irish Whip... and when he stumbled backwards, Nitro reached out and blind-tagged himself into the ring. Shelton was all "What the hell, I was finally getting things going?" and Nitro was all "You were stinking up the joint, man, I'm gonna finish things off." And all of a sudden, Nitro and Shelton are trading fists, and Shelton is getting tossed out over the top rope.

Carlito tries to capitalize by rolling Nitro up from behind, but surprise surprise, Nitro rolls-through the roll-up, getting a roll-up of his own. Throw in a handful of tights, and that's enough to beat Carlito for the second week in a row.

Your Winner: Johnny Nitro (and Shelton Benjamin, I guess), via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Pretty cool action, although obviously too short. And the story was a good one, too, setting up genuine three-way hostilities for the PPV. I even liked the finish, since I figured they'd give Carlito back his pinfall over Nitro, instead of making him 0-for-2 against the guy. To me, that sets up a scenario where Carlito wins the IC Belt, and Nitro can keep himself in the mix by reminding us that Carlito's never beaten him (while Shelton stays in the mix because he's the ex-champ). Plenty of options to flesh out the mid-card with various iterations of one-on-one, tag, or three way matches featuring these three worthies. Of course, for that to happen would require WWE to be planning ahead more than one week; for all I know, there is zero significance to Nitro beating Carlito again, other than it seemed like a good idea at the meeting. But let's us all hope, OK?

After the Match: Nitro left with Melina, while Shelton stayed in the ring. With Carlito. Whoops. After finishing his annoyed staredown with Nitro, Shelton made the mistake of giving Carlito the skunk-eye... and in the end, Carlito paid that back by giving Shelton the double-knee back-cracker.


Backstage: Coach saunters back into the McMahon office to find it has been defiled. Graffiti on the walls, pictures defaced (and replaced by different ones, ones less flattering to the McMahon Family). We're a few rolls of toilet paper away from this being a bang-up 11th-grade-caliber job! But nobody ever accused DX of being high-brow or mature. As Coach surveys the mess, Michaels and HHH actually walk in behind him. Coach tries to beg off and go for a truce tonight, and DX can pick this up on Sunday with Vince and the Spirit Squad. He'll set up the accommodations, and DX can just leave the building. But nope: DX wants to stay and enjoy the rest of the show. And plus, they've got their official reunion to do in the ring later on tonight. Wouldn't want to skip that. So they pretend to be buddies with Coach and insist they all sit together on the couch to watch the TV.

Elsewhere Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand has Eugene for an interview. Eugene stumbles over his words even more than usual, as he tells us that he's still envisioning Maria in her underwear from earlier. Keep it to yourself, Eugene. Then they get past that, to the point: that Hacksaw Jim Duggan may be hurt today, but he'll be there with Eugene on Sunday at the PPV when Eugene faces Umaga. And then, for no reason I could discern, Rob Conway sticks his nose in and blames Eugene for Duggan's injuries. So, again for no discernable reason, Eugene just started beating the crap out of Conway with an intensity that frightened Poor Maria. Then Eugene shook off the fit of violence and walked away with a smile on his face. Umm: so we're planting the seeds for an Angry Heel Eugene Who Can't Control His Temper? Or am I just trying to hard to come up with a reason for why this segment existed?

Hype: the Vengeance PPV line-up is given to us by the Paid Shills. I am decidedly Unpaid, so screw that noise. Though I will congratulate WWE on like the second-straight pretty-rocking RAW PPV Theme Music. After a seemingly endless string of AlternaDouche Whining and Crap Metal (and more Scott Stapp than seemed entirely necessary), this makes two theme songs that approximate having some balls to them. Kudos to you, ummmm..... Band Whose Marketing Firm Sent Me Stuff Because The Guy Thought I Might Actually Like The Song And He Was Right. Eighteen Something, I think.... and now: for not possessing adequate short-term memory, I will not have stuff sent to me by them again.

Backstage: we're back in the McMahon Office, and back on the couch with Shawn, Coach, and Hunter. After seeing the PPV line-up, HHH thinks it'll be a good 'un. And Shawn does his annoying best to get on Coach's nerves by leaning in at this point and yammering "You gonna get it? You gonna buy it?" over and over again at Warp 3 until Coach gets pissed. Which is Shawn's cue to stop, and HHH's turn to start doing it instead. They so funny! Finally Coach is all "Guys guys guys, look: I have a job to do here, so c'mon, just take the truce." And DX is all "I really don't think so." And suddenly Coach finds some balls and says "That's too bad, cuz I don't think you boys realize who you're dealing with. Dealing with me is just like dealing with Mr. McMahon." At this point, Shawn and Hunter once again feign concern and anxiety as they pretend to be intimidated by Coach's power and authority. And Coach, magnificent putz that he is, has no idea that they are faking. He stands up, shakes both their hands, and says "Good, I'm glad you guys came to your senses." Which is when HHH pulls Coach in tight, and Shawn's like "Oh Coach. Coach, Coach, Coach, can you really be that gullible?".... Coach gets 2 seconds to register his terror before he is bent over the couch and pantsed, revealing the second bare ass of the night I really didn't need to see. And also revealed a rather embarrassing choice of underwear, as Michaels starts hooting and hollering when he sees Coach's man thong "What kind of man wears a thong?" asks HBK. And hilariously, the look on HHH's face says "I do." But then he covers it up and joins in the mocking. Get out the spray paint! There's a "D" on one ass cheek. And an "X" for the other.


Coming Soon: the Highlanders are coming to RAW. But tonight, they've come all the way from Scotland and want to see some of our unique American Castles. Starting with Gary's Motor Lodge. When Rory fails to operate the key-card, Robbie smashes the door down. Then they sit down and try to watch TV. They determine that American TV sucks, cuz there's no soccer on it (that hateful racial stereotypes of Americans would have held a hell of a lot more water if we weren't going on 2 weeks of there being soccer on all three ESPNs all around the clock)... but then they stumble across the pay-per-porn channel, and decide that American TV is indeed quite lovely. For the record: I believe the vibe they're going for is that Rory is Butch, and Robbie is Luke.

Ric Flair vs. Edge

We come back, and here's where Time Management Issues really reared their head. Edge and Lita are already in the ring, and Mick Foley's already made an entrance, too, and is seated at what's left of the commentary table.

And then the match, which I had labeled as a very promising top drawing card for RAW in my Monday Column? Turns out to be about 2 minutes long, and is only an excuse for Foley to drive home a new plot point about Sunday's PPV Match with Flair: you see, he knows he and Flair could tear down the house if they wanted to. But Flair had to knock Mick's Wrestling Ability, so now, Mick is going to show the world ALL his skills as a Technical Wrestler. And hoo-boy does Mick ever know he stinks at that. 

Mick promises to deliver a disgraceful debacle the likes of which we've never seen before. The match will be so bad that Flair will never be welcomed in his own hometown again. Two out of three falls of the ugliest wrestling ever is Mick's promise! HA~! JR tries to talk sense into Mick, saying that nobody's ever gone into the ring to have a bad match before. Mick doesn't care: just chalk it up to him blazing another trail. JR tries mentioning that Vince McMahon might not be pleased with Mick stinking up the joing on purpose. Mick says he doesn't care what Vince thinks.

Pure gold from Mick, and an interested swerve in the storyline from what I'd expected. I was concerned with how fast they were having to rush the story, and also with how fans would split on the heel/face alignment... but now, this latest twist means Sunday's Flair/Foley match is more an opening chapter than anything else, and isn't meant to be taken super seriously. Plus: Foley trying to suck is another re-do from his old bag of tricks and should ensure his heelishness. 

I would really rather have seen them find promo time for Mick to do all this ranting, rather than having him clearly rushing to fit in all the key points he wanted to make while doing commentary for a 2 minute main event match. Lord knows there were enough spots earlier on the show where segments could have been cut, shuffled, or more carefully timed....

Anyway, the match is nothing. Back and forth brawling for a bit, then after Flair hits an illegal low blow, Lita tries to get involved, ref gets distracted, then Foley picks that moment to get up on the ring apron. Now Flair is distracted. Foley gets off the ring apron. Flair turns around and walks right into a spear. Lita gets off the ring apron. The ref turns around and counts to three.

Your Winner: Edge, via pinfall, in about 2 minutes. We all know what this COULD have been, and looking at how badly mismanaged the time was on RAW, it makes it even more frustrating that this was so short. But it served its purpose of having Mick kick ass on commentary, I guess.

After the Match: Edge was celebrating, but Rob Van Dam flew in from out of nowhere to hit a sidekick off the top rope. Then a Five Star Frog Splash. Then he escaped through the audience before security could do anything about it. I guess it gets the point across, but after the way Sabu got *his* point across earlier in the night, RVD's run-in was kinda lame by comparison.

Backstage: the Spirit Squad have assembled the entire RAW locker room. Well, by "entire" I mean "b-level heels." They say if Coach can't take care of DX, then the job falls to them. And since DX represents a threat to each and every one of you, you should come to the ring with us and help out. A half-dozen guys the ilk of Matt Striker and Trevor Murdoch give it kind of an unenthusiastic "Yeah, whatever," but this Squad's got Spirit, and has already put their hands in and fired up for a big "Death to DX" cheer, oblivious to whether or not anybody else wants in.


Are You Ready? To Party Like It's 1998?

Back from break, and straight to the old DX ring entrance. Same music, same graphics, same cut-aways to the crowd. Which is like comfort food in one way, but it's also pretty much confirmation that this "reunion" isn't going much past the PPV. Otherwise, they really should have updated things. Jim Johnston's guitars-that-sound-nothing-like-guitars and tinny (probably computer generated) drum sounds simply don't inspire the same sort of visceral excitement now that most of WWE's better entrance themes are done in studios with full rock bands. Hell, even if Motorhead didn't want the gig, if WWE paid for the studio time, I'd have done it on the cheap my own self and then fired it back to them to have the original guy (did we ever decide for sure if he was related to HHH or not?) do some fresh screaming for the remix.

Continuing on with keeping the 1998 illusion seamless, HHH does the full Buffer-style "Let's get ready to SUUUUUCCCCKKKK IIITTTTTTT!" intro, and then hands over to Shawn for a Billy-Gunn-caliber "And if you're not down with that, we got two words for ya....."  ahhh, the classics!

HHH starts off the less-rehearsed portion of our promo with less jokey-joke and more intensity, as he declares this to be a stronger-than-ever, more-ass-kicking DX. But then Michaels brings back the jokey-joke by touching on the fact that they've done some naughty things tonight, and as a good Christian, he really needs to ask for some forgiveness. HHH is all "What for?" and Shawn's all "Well, right now, Vince and Shane are in the air, so that they can be with their precious Stephanie now that she's in labor." And HHH is all "You're a liar." And Shawn's all "I know, I'm going to hell, aren't I?".

Then, as an humorous aside, Shawn stage-whispers to HHH "You know, just between us guys, who do you think -- you know? -- knocked her up." HHH pauses, thinks, and says, "I dunno, but whoever he is has got to be some kind of stud, probably hung down to his knee".... at which point Good Christian Boy Shawn Michaels begs off and says we should just do a "smOOth segue" (damn you, Michaels, "Thou shalt not steal," remember that one?) to talking about the PPV.

So for about a minute, he and HHH do a plug so blatant and shameless that it's actually really funny. I know I can't remember the last time a crowd cheered raucously at the prospect of getting to pay for the honor of watching wrestling on TV, but Shawn and Hunter pulled it off on this occasion. Clever bastards.

This plug for the PPV, naturally, turns into specifically addressing DX's opponents at the PPV. And just as Michaels is really heating up an intense promo against the Spirit Squad, the Spirit Squad's music starts up.... but out comes the Midget Squad!

OK, so Triple H and Shawn Michaels are going around making "X's" with their arms and beating up midgets. I assume that the 12 hour publication delay before the OO RAW Recap hits computer screens around the world means that I'd only be the 83,398th jackoff to make a Kevin Nash/X Division joke at this point. So I won't bother.

The midgets come in and do the Spirit Squad's whole goofy entrance routine. The fattest of the midgets actually takes an assist from Michaels to do the "scoot yourself forward on your own butt" move that Mikey does. Either you thought this was hilarious (like me), or you hated it. I doubt there's any middle ground.

Then the midgets get pretend belligerent towards DX, so DX pretend beats them up. They get back on the mics, and Trips says he knows how Michaels works, and this totally had to be his idea. The man who once beat up a midget Bret Hart admits that he did, indeed, set it up. HHH says that's OK, cuz he's been thinking alot about cheerleaders, too, the past week. Michaels instantly knows where this is going, and whips out a blindfold lest he be tempted. That's right, when HHH thinks about cheerleaders, he thinks of neither men nor midgets, so when he asks the crowd if they'd like to see HIS version of the Spirit Squad, they respond in the positive.

So out come five green-clad lasses, causing Lawler to once again completely fly off the handle and over-do it. Except: wow. The short one, the blonde second from the right hand side of the screen, the non-toothpick. That's the perfect embodiment of why god invented cheerleader outfits. And invented flimsy reasons for grown women to wear them even long after the end of their scholastic years. Even I am not immune to the generic gyrating in this case. Then, when the music stops, the girls fall into line cuz they have a cheer for us. The gist of it: "DX is good. Mr. McMahon is bad. And now we'd like to take off our tops for you." Except it rhymed.

Triple H notices the "DX" spray painted bras, and thinks perhaps they're a bit uncomfortable, and we could, you know, lose those, too.... but that is when the real Spirit Squad decides to show up and spoil the party. And behind them are all the unenthusiastic b-show heels. At least for a bit. As the Squad bop to the ring, the rest of the guys just sort of look around at each other, and decide to go back to the locker room. The Spirit Squad, of course, does not register this, as they are locked on DX.

Two guys (don't know which two, since they're going shirtless on this one) lead the initial attack and get in DX's face with some "Hey, you thought 5-on-2 was bad, look what we got for you tonight." And then Shawn and Hunter effectively convey, "Um, turn around, stupid." And then the two guys are all "Ahhhhhhhh SHIT!". And then Michaels and HHH beat the crap out of them. Then Wave #2 hits as the other three Squadders come into the ring. One eats a superkick, the other a Pedigree, and then Kenny and the two others who are recovering from lesser injuries sort of collect everybody and decide to powder out.

Which is when we get our final punchline of the night. HHH gets a mic, and tells the Squad to hold up for just one more second, cuz now, we've got two words for ya. At which point the magically "recovered" Midget Squad line-up in front of DX, drop their pants, and reveal "SUCK IT" painted on their buttocks. The fat midget had to cover both the I and the T. Lucky they had him, huh?

Hit DX's music, and revel in the fact that we've not seen anything on RAW this sophomoric in years. And in the fact that, admit it, you kinda liked it. Just one final hard sell for the PPV from JR before we fade to black...


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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