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OO RAW RECAP
The Turd That Can't Be Polished? 
July 25, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

Ugh. That's really all I got to say: Ugh.
 
Being totally serious, a lot of weeks, I greatly enjoy doing the RAW Recap, and consider it the best part of this "job." I don't have to do any fact-checking, I don't have to temper my opinions in the interest of presenting a Whole Story... I can just rare back and give you the full experience of what it would be like to watch wrestling 

with me sitting on your couch. Most weeks, I happen to think I comport myself well, and that -- in some sort of bizarro world version of the Santa Claus myth -- wrestling fans around the nation would gladly set out a bottle of Maker's Mark, a single glass, and a bucket of ice in front of their TV every Monday night at 8:45, just on the off chance that The Rick might come tumbling down their chimney looking for a place to watch RAW.

But this isn't most weeks. Usually, RAW is either good enough that I just flat-out enjoy re-telling the tale for you in my own distinctive way, or it's bad enough that it's truly fun to tear it to shreds on a segment-by-segment basis cuz there really are few things in the world more fun than making fun of jerks.

This week had none of that. It was a mostly-inoffensive two hours, and it was also loaded with a higher-than-usual percentage of fast-forwardable fluff that you can't possibly care about, and which I wouldn't possibly feel required to recap. It was, I dare say, one of the "thinnest" RAWs in a long, long time. Not just with video packages and segments that were, themselves, inherently FF-able, but also with a one-week spike in the number of pointless and unnecessary replays that get zapped, too, because if it's not truly cool or impressive or important, I'm not gonna let you re-poop some mediocre clip into my brain, WWE.

If you recall, this is kind of a metric I was using back very early this year, before RAW got its groove back around WrestleMania... because of "24," I always had a full one-hour time shift on Mondays, and I'd mentally rate RAW based on how much of that shift I'd use up (technically, one should only need a 35 minute time shift to zap all commercials, and anything above that represents WWE putting out pointless fluff). Well, last night, I had other reasons, but I did end up with a full 60 minute time shift, and I ended up using up all but 30 seconds of it, I think. There's really no good way for WWE to spin such viewing habits. Unless they're trying to turn RAW into SmackDown!, or something....

Anyhoo, I can't claim even one single moment of being fully enthralled or surprised... well, unless you count my surprise that WWE once again managed to completely whiff on taking full advantage of Edge's talents or presenting him in a way befitting a champion. The show definitely peaked with a kick-ass Free TV Special between Carlito and Shelton Benjamin, but that's about it.

So let's us all kick back and see what I can do to make this two hour ride into an interesting 10 minute read for you fine folks:

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in Cleveland, OH, where Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross barely have time to welcome us before we are interrupted by Shawn Michaels....

Paint-by-Numbers, or "Blame Stephanie's Baby Theatre"

Michaels is flying solo as they do the full DX ring entrance. He gets a mic, and quickly says there's a little story behind why he's alone tonight.

You see, a few weeks ago, DX pulled a prank on a Monday night in which they convinced Vince and Shane McMahon that Stephanie had gone into labor. Well: that was a lie. But it's funny how life sometimes imitates art, because here we are on another Monday night, and this time, Stephanie really is in a hospital back in Connecticut, and she really is about to give birth.

Vince and Shane both left Cleveland earlier in the day to be with her, and unbeknownst to them, Triple H decided to follow and is somewhere in that very same hospital as we speak. Michaels tone of voice indicates that HHH is there for prankery, but then he sort of gives us the winkwink nudgenudge when he stage whispers "Between you and me, I think he might know how the father is." The crowd's reaction indicates that at least 90% of them know, too. It'll be interesting to see if/how they actually intend to play this up as a TV storyline. On one hand, now that DX is back together and being sophomoric, HHH could act like he just played the "Ha ha, I fucked your daughter and impregnated her with my bastard son and now YOU have to love him Grandpa" prank on Vince. But on the other hand, HHH and Steph have already been married in TV storylines, and such a riff loses about 90% of its impact as a result of the past relationship.

Before the mind can race too much with all the possibilities, however, Michaels' little storytime hour is interrupted by Jonathan Coachman, who is doing a little cellphone walk-and-talk as he heads to the ring. Once in it, a microphone materializes in his hands, and we are quickly led to believe that Coach is talking to Vince McMahon, and that Vince is not gonna let the inmates run the asylum no matter how far away he is.

Shawn briefly grabs the phone away from Coach, and does a few allegedly funny set pieces (culminating in Cleveland telling Vince to "Suck It"). They were, sadly, not actually funny as near as I could tell, though sneaking in the "Suck It" was a pretty satisfying punchline. Then again: I'm of the opinion that writing one-sided phone conversations (whether they be funny or dramatic or whatever) is tough, and that PERFORMING one-sided phone conversations is even tougher.... honestly: not only have we all had to fake it at one time or another (and if you're like me, felt like you did it shittily), but how many GOOD one-sided phone conversations do you see on TV or in movies? Not many. You know who is good at doing it, though? Kristen "Veronica Mars" Bell... she may be a filthy, loathsome vegetarian and, as a result, months removed from her shameful excommunication from my Harem of Mancrushes, but she'll spend upwards of half of any given episode of her TV show faking a phone conversation, and doing it well enough that you don't even notice.

If I'm digressing, it's only because I know I have a 60KB minimum to meet, and RAW didn't give me nearly as much material as I'd have liked to work with... anyway, after Shawn is done insulting Vince over the phone, he hands the cell back to Coach. At first, Coach is all "uh huh, I agree, that sounds like the right thing to do." But then Coach starts looking worried, and asks questions like "are you sure that's the best idea?"... and then Coach wraps up his conversation with Vince.

Shawn wants to know what happened.... but wait: Shawn knows exactly what happened. Vince made a match, and tonight, Shawn all by his lonesome will have to face the entire Spirit Squad, right? Coach, squirming, says that's not quite the case. Yes, Vince has ordered Shawn Michaels to have a match. But it'll be a one-on-one match. And it'll be.... against Coach.

The crowd's response indicates they're way more amused by this than I am. And then, after a pregnant pause in which he stared bullets at Coach and gave the impression he might do something violent, Shawn's response was REALLY bad fake laughing, indicating he too is way more amused (or pretending to be amused) than I am. Shawn's convulsion of fake laughter eventually land him on the mat, curled up into a ball. He uncurls just long enough to do a few half-hearted crotch chops up at Coach, which ends the segment.

By all accounts, this (and the resulting "match") are the only parts of the show that WWE had to rewrite, and that they sorta had the idea for a contingency plan in place, anyway. If a Michaels/Coach match strikes you as an invitation to Not Give A Shit, well, you're probably not alone, but on this week, I guess we give 'em a pass on the underwhelming/predictable booking since it *was* Plan B.

Video Package: Orton. Hogan. SNME. If you don't know what happened 2 weeks ago by now, it ain't my fault, and it's not my job to watch pointless filler on your behalf. FF~!

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Video Package: Haas. Viscera. Lilian. FF~!

The Spirit Squad vs. The Highlanders (Tag Team Title Match)

Was that video package meant to be foreshadowing that Haas and Viscera will be in line for tag title shots, now? Or was it simply meant to give us an excuse to get a nice, tasty close-up on Lilian as she makes her return to TV after selling the "injuries" suffered at the hands of Viscera for a week? Or possibly both?

Per The Rick's Scouting Report, Kenny and Mikey were the two legal men for the Squad, as they do represent the most entertaining combo possible at this point. They fell prey to some opening match double-team hijinx by the Highlanders; Jim Ross just quit fighting the urge, and flat-out called them "Bushwhacker-esque." After a kilt-assisted double-mount-and-punch-on-the-turnbuckle spot, the ref finally tried to restore order by getting one of the Highlanders out of the ring. While he was occupied with that, the Squad took advantage of their numbers and regained control of the match.

Maybe a minute or so of the most VERY basic heel beatdown on Highlander Luke. Reverses a whip, collision in the middle of the ring, both men down. So a room temperature tag to Highlander Butch, who comes in a house o' mild. After roughly 30 seconds of rally, the Highlanders actually do get Mikey set up for the Scot Drop, but Mitch gets up on the ring apron with an air horn and distracts the ref. The other 3 Squad members save Mikey, and toss Rory out of the ring. That leaves Kenny to hit a neckbreaker-y type move on Robbie for the pinfall.

Your Winners, and Still Tag Team Champions: The Spirit Squad, via pinfall, in less than 3 minutes. Way to short and tepid to count for anything as a match, but in terms of them giving the win to the Squad, I say plus 10 to WWE for repaying my blind faith in common sense, instead of living down to my worst fears. No reason to switch the titles yet, and no reason to bust up the Spirit Squad, either... all things in due time, and with proper build up.

Via Satellite: Mick Foley's phoning it in again this week.... but it's the last time he'll be doing so. The theme of tonight's eloquent rant is "What has become of Ric Flair?" Because the way Mick sees it, the one time legendary figure has become a joke and a parody of himself. Going around, grabbing other men's crotches and leaning on decades old verbal crutches. And worst of all: Flair actually called Mick "fat boy" last week. Twice. Which almost hurt Mick's feelings 30 years ago when his brother used it on him, but might actually hurt more today, since it means the legendary Nature Boy now shares his creativity, originality, and intellect with fourth-graders around the nation. HA! Now, if only there were a way for Mick to cut this promo on John Cena.... Foley said Flair can repeat his cliches all he wants and fall into thumbtacks all he wants, but he's not getting his rematch. But that said, Foley also said that he can't stand for Flair being a jerk and beating up friends of his, one of whom happens to be a delightful young lady. So after the dust up with Nitro and Melina last week, Flair should come to New Jersey next week, and he should be ready to meet Foley face to face in the middle of the ring for a little Airing of the Grievences. And Flair had better bring his Promo A-game next week, or else Foley promises "I'll verbally humiliate you on national TV, you washed up piece of crap." For the second straight week, nothing new here; but certainly nothing objectionable, either.

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This Week in Wrestling: Ric Flair beat Terry Funk to retain the NWA Title back in 1989. After the match, the Great Muta attacked Flair, and Sting (poor, gullible Sting) was dumb enough to come to the aid of Flair without realizing it would lead to the first of many doublecrosses by Naitch. Coming out of the package, Jim Ross quipped "I remember that like it was 17 years ago." Which COULD be a veiled jab at TNA for having Sting as a main eventer, except if it was, the Irony Meter would probably explode, considering who's coming out next....

Stereo Skanks!

Ric Flair hits the ring, and once again demonstrates a willful lack of comprehension of the phrase "no rematch" by ranting and raving about how he can't wait for his rematch against Mick Foley. 

Flair points out what he did to Foley's buddy Terry Funk (ummm: weren't you watching TV back in May and June, Ric? Mick and Terry broke up, with pretty spectacular results at the ECW PPV), and says the year doesn't matter, the age doesn't matter, the thumbtacks don't matter, nothing matters except getting one more shot against Foley. And when it happens, Flair's beggin' ya: Mick, on that one night, be just half the man Naitch is every day of his life, and it'll be a fight for the ages.

OO Favorite, Edge, apparently agrees with me about how Flair's half of the promo'ing in this feud really hasn't been up to snuff, and has bordered on the illogical and non-sensical.... so he decides to cut Flair off right there. With one armful of Lita, and the other holding a mic, Edge gets about halfway down the ramp as he VERY briefly gives Ric the "Blah blah blah, words words words, we've heard this all already before. I'm the champion, and I'm the MVP of this show, so I think we ought to be listening to me, instead."

Sadly, instead of getting more than 20 seconds of promo time, Edge's rant is cut off when Johnny Nitro comes out of the crowd and attacks Flair from behind. It was, however, all part of an Evil Plan, I guess, since Edge immediately sprinted to the ring to join in the beating (while Melina strutted herself out to stand next to Lita, forcing my filthy, filthy mind to wonder which of these two magnificently and convincingly-slutty lasses is in the more dire and perpetual biological need of cock).
 
And at this moment, I will recreate for you my precise Inner Monologue: "Hmmmm, 2-on-1 beatdown. I guess they're setting up a main event match for tonight. I wonder who'll make the run-in and save Fl...... AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH SHIT. It's Cena." For a good 15 seconds or so, Cena never crossed my mind. It's telling how easily I can forget he exists when he's not right there in front of me. It's also telling that it's not exactly like the crowd was clamoring or chanting for him ahead of time, either. A *good* babyface save like that, and usually the fans presage it to some extent...

Anyway, Cena with the save, Edge and Nitro (and their respective tasty ho's) retreat, because all heels are chickenshits. But I guess we accomplished what we needed to accomplish, since if we didn't just see our main event created before our very eyes, I'll eat a bug.

Backstage: a camera spies Carlito and Trish having a conversation. Starts out with some mutual congratulations for their wins last week, but then Carlito sneaks in a "But you looked way better doing it than I did," and Trish is all "Oh, so you noticed" in a tone of voice that is the perfect blend of half "Thank you, sincerely, for the compliment" and half "Way to be, Captain Obvious." No fishing for compliments or insecure self-deprecation, and no being a full-of-herself bitch for Trish: just 100% easy-going confidence. Excellent. Talk moves on to Carlito's match tonight, which gets Carlito a wish of good luck from Trish. Carlito's about to head to the ring, but then he comes back and asks "So ummmm, errr... maybe afterwards, we can hang out?". Trish assures him this is the best idea she has heard all day, and suddenly Carlito finds his cockiness again as he leans in close to Trish and says something in Spanish (anybody want to send The Rick a translation? Cuz for some reason, my guess is that it was probably pretty funny).... as Carlito is Rico Suave'ing it, Trish actually closes her eyes, and gives the impression of a woman whose britches are melting because a man speaks to her in a foreign language. Hey, Trish: I speak American, and just think of all the tingly pleasure you'll feel when I use my expert tongue to produce such exotic things as the proper pronunciation of "about"! Anyway, Carlito finishes up whatever it was he was saying, and Trish snaps back to attention, and timidly admits she didn't understand a word Carlito just said. Carlito says it's no big deal, and he'll see her later. For now, it's onto bidness. Well: after these....

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Backstage: Coach is talking on the phone, apparently to Vince McMahon, when in come Edge and Lita. They are irate that Cena once again stuck his nose into their business. They want retribution, they want this situation addressed. As Coach is carrying on a one-sided phone conversation, Edge amuses himself (and me) by doing a non sequitur in which he blusters that this WWE Title belt is the most important thing in the world, and it's because "Look, it spins." HA! Finally, Coach gets off the phone, and assures Edge that Vince has decided something that should placate him. Later on tonight, Edge will team up with Johnny Nitro to face Cena and Ric Flair, so he can settle the score then. From the look on Edge's face, this isn't the sort of thing he was expecting.... but by the time the cameras cut away, he and Lita are already putting their heads together to scheme up a plan.

Happy Happy Joy Joy: Todd Grisham comes out on the stage, and announces that Stephanie McMahon has just given birth to a healthy baby girl. Her name: Aurora Rose. Which I can't help but think is a custom made stripper name. Then again, over the past few years, perhaps I've just been exposed (against my will, I assure you) to the fine work done by Aurora Snow and Tiffany Rose.

Carlito vs. Shelton Benjamin (IC #1 Contendership Rematch)

The story, as I could piece it together, is that Shelton called Carlito's win in last week's #1 Contender match a fluke, and he wanted a shot to prove it. Carlito -- either because he is ultra-cocky or ultra-stupid -- accepted the challenge, and put his IC Title shot on the line here. 

Cleverly recalling last week's sneaky roll-up finish, Carlito comes out of the gate schoolboying Shelton a few times in an attempt to steal another win. Nice touch. This frustrates Shelton, and Carlito segues into a few more standard opening-match stylings. Pretty solid offensive for Carlito for about 2 minutes, but then they do a cool triple-reverse-y suplex spot that finally ends with Shelton on the ring apron and Carlito on the inside of the ring, and Shelton yanked down on Carlito's arm as he dropped down to the floor.

Thus begins The Story of the Match, which is that Carlito will be essentially one-armed from here on out. Very effective arm-related offense by Shelton over the next 2-3 minutes. Highlights were ramming Carlito's shoulder in the ringpost, and hitting a smooth Fujuwara takedown.

Then Carlito began a rally by snapping off a Frankensteiner out of nowhere. Pretty dropkick, jawjacker elbow, and eventually Carlito decided to go to the top rope (all while remembering to favor his right arm like it was about to fall off). But Shelton wasn't out: Shelton hit the broadjump to join Carlito on the top rope (always impressive), but Carlito had that scouted, hooked his leg so Shelton couldn't do the superplex, and then shoved Shelton to the mat. And it only gets better, as Carlito comes leaping off in an attempt to hit a flying bodyblock, but Shelton moves six inches to the side and snatches Carlito out of mid-air by grabbing his arm and shoulder, and driving him to the canvas, and into a wicked cross-arm breaker.

The crowd, which had started out silent, really gets into this, as (a) Shelton did a great job working the arm throughout, (b) Carlito did an even better job SELLING the arm throughout, and (c) the cross-arm breaker just really did look painful as hell. The chants and cheers keep Carlito from tapping out, and he reaches the ropes for the break. Thus begins not so much a comeback for Carlito, but the start of End Game, where both guys start pulling off relatively big moves for near falls (including another reprise of the schoolboy roll-up exchange from the week before, which probably goes over the head of 90% of the viewers, but when it's done by two guys I like and who have compelling personas, even I will let my Inner Workrate Dork out to appreciate that). 

The biggest spot came when Carlito hit a double-knee back-cracker, but only got a two count (because this time it was Shelton's turn to get to the ropes). In the mild frustration that followed, Carlito decided to undo a turnbuckle pad. The ref caught him just as he finished up, and Carlito was hilarious as he played the "No seriously, it was like that when I got here" card. The ref didn't buy it, but set about re-tying the pad....

Meantime, Shelton attacks Carlito from behind, and the two do about 30 seconds of sweet fucking back and forth counter-wrestling, all leading up to Shelton trying to catapult Carlito into the very same corner where the ref's back is turned because he's trying to tie the turnbuckle pad back on.... even as I began rolling my eyes and thinking "ref bump and cheap finish," however, Carlito stops short, and the ref remains uninjured!

But then Shelton charges the corner, and the ref bump is back on, right? Nope, because Carlito broadjumps OVER the ref and up to the top rope, and Shelton stops short, and the ref is STILL conscious! Carlito back flips off the top rope to get behind Shelton, and then HE charges the corner again. Ref bump? Nope, because Shelton sticks his leg back at the perfect moment and mule kicks Carlito in the mansac, stopping him in his tracks.

Carlito crumbles to the mat, Shelton covers him, and the magically unhurt referee counts to three.

Your Winner, and New #1 IC Title Contender: Shelton Benjamin, via pinfall, in 8 minutes or so. You know the mean things I said last week about the disappointing Shelton/Carlito match? Every single one of those issues was addressed here, and this match *is* the template that I would love to see adopted for TV Specials. Shelton found the perfect way to be a heel (focusing on a body part with convincing-looking moves) without resorting to 3 chinlocks in one match, they actually got an extra minute or two to tell a story (and in so doing, avoided the pratfall of also sticking to a predictable formula), and they still kept the ultra-creative finish like they did have last week. Words cannot describe how much that final 45 seconds or so scratched me where I itched, and left me convinced that no matter how much wrestling I've seen in my life, it's still possible to fool me and leave me wondering just how stupid I could have been for thinking a ref bump was imminent just there. Awesome. I frankly can't envision a better 8 minute wrestling match that still falls under the "WWE Style" umbrella, and I think the crowd reaction (which built massively over the course of the match) bears that out. And if it sounds like I'm going a tinch overboard with my praise? Hey, it's only because I bitched last week, and for whatever reason, those bitchings were directly addressed and rendered impotent by this top shelf re-do. The fact that a Rubber Match for the IC Title Shot is inevitable and could lead to EVEN GREATER awesomeness is also grounds for extreme enthusiasm.

Video Package: Diva crap. FF.

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Q: How Do You Spell "Respect"? 
A: More Accurately Than Randall Orton Does.

So Hulk Hogan hits the ring near the midway point of the show, and instantly gives me a Very Special Gift: he apparently milks the crowd for about five minutes, and the crowd gives it to him, which means I hit FF for five minutes, and don't lose a damned thing. Thanks, Hulkster! And thanks, Hulkster's grandstanding!

Finally, it appears Hogan's about to speak, so I hit "PLAY" just in time to hear Hulk kissing up to the fans some more. But they're far less interested in cheering this time. Get to the point, old man. So he does: he says Randy Orton came to him on Saturday Night's Main Event talking about respect, but then later in the show, what he did showed he has no respect for anybody at all.

Hogan goes into the wayback machine, and says that he had battles all over the country with Randy's dad, but at the end of the day, they really did respect each other. But that gene didn't get passed down to Randall. And it's not just the lack of respect, it's the fact that Orton did what he did to Hogan in front of Hogan's own daughter. Just as Hulk's gearing up for a classic whatchya-gonna-do/largest-arms rant about SummerSlam, "Theme From Douchebag" fires up, and Orton hits the stage [JR: "He's WWE's version of Matthew McConnaughy." Me: "Quit stealing my shit, JR, unless you're gonna steal the whole thing and bust out the phrase Face-Punchable Man-Bimbo."], accompanied his greatest rival of all times: the live microphone.

But this week: Randy's being himself and speaking from the heart, so he doesn't fumble any lines that I noticed. Instead, he displays the precise sort of dimwitted toolboxery that is his only strength, and which comes the closest to eliciting a strong negative response from fans. Using tiny words, and taking every moment to say something great about himself, Orton taunts Hogan by misrepresenting everything about what happened at SNME. Mostly the parts about Hogan's daughter. Where the rest of America saw a vapid and naive 18-year-old girl very-awkwardly pretending to interact with a date-raping choade, Randall says there was "chemistry." Where the rest of America saw nothing but fairly innocuous verbal exchanges, Randall says there were heated moments of smoldering passion in which Brooke revealed that she thought Randy was the hottest thing since... well, whoever it is that dumb girls think is hot these days.

Hogan's finally heard enough of that happy crappy, and says that if Orton's so full of himself, why not come on down to the ring, and do this, right here, right now. Orton waffles at first. But more taunting from Hogan causes Randall to walk slowly towards the ring. He gets up on the apron once, but backs off at the last second. BOO! Then he circles the ring, and gets up on the apron. This time, Hogan tries to charge him to stop him from getting away, but Orton practically dives backwards, and falls into the announce table, where Jerry Lawler put a hand up to brace him.

For some reason (oh, I know the reason, I would just rather feign ignorance for now), Orton gets pissed off at Lawler for the assist, and lays the bad mouth on him. Then, when Orton walks away, seemingly content to let Hogan stew this week, Lawler comes up behind him and throws him into the ring. Orton begs off, but Hogan skips ahead to the Hulk Up, complete with convulsing and circling the ring. Orton, 65 IQ and all, has at least seen a few videotapes, and knows that Hogan can't stop convulsing on the Hulk Up until somebody throws a shitty half-assed punch at him, so Randall complies. And Hogan blocks it, and starts his usual routine. Orton, however, manages to grab the ropes and pull himself to safety just before he eats the Big Boot. BOO again!

Hogan looks pissed off, Orton looks like a chickenshit, and I'm convinced that I've never seen a more flamboyant display of Absolutely Nothing Happening in my life. Seriously: 10-12 minutes, and what got advanced in this storyline here? Nothing. Except for the part where now Hogan takes the week off next week because he's too big a star to show up EVERY week, and so Orton has to get pissed off at Lawler (who is, dare I say, a Legend), instead, resulting in something that will almost assuredly suck donkey balls. Just great.

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Mickie James vs. Candice Michelle (Hopefully Not a Women's Title Match)

I wasn't paying attention during the ring announcements (I was too busy seething that *this* is what the women's division is reduced to thanks, in large part, to certain unnamed Johnny Aces) but PLEASE tell me the gold wasn't on the line here....

Match is a big fat nothing. Mickie beats the shit out of Candice for 90 seconds, which is probably how it should be. It's all short-bus offense, though, so Candice pretty much just has to lie there and get stomped and chin-locked and stuff.

Big finish is Mickie hoisting Candice up onto the top rope for something, but Candice reverses it into her little bending-over-backward-leg-scissors thing. But Candice is more impressed with herself than anybody else is (honestly: more cheers for Mickie throughout the match than for Candice... and yet again, a prophecy by The Rick has been borne out!), and celebrates with the Go Daddy dance (more crickets chirping) long enough for Mickie to recover and say "Fuck this noise." One schoolgirl roll-up (with a bonus handful of tights) later, and it's all over for Titties McSuperBowl.

Your Winner: Mickie James, via pinfall, in under 2 minutes. Hey, points to Candice for not screwing anything up. Triple those points to whoever laid out the match so that Candice wouldn't be asked to do anything remotely interesting, and which she could screw up. I guess. 

Bonus Tangent Since RAW Didn't Give Me A Whole Lot To Work With: So I made a rare pass through the OO Forums recently, and found a thread where people were saying "I'm sure Mickie James isn't really fat if you meet her, but she's definitely TV Fat, and that's why Vince will never push her." If you can't identify at least a quarter-million instances of Wrong in that statement, then you're probably at least half as ignorant when it comes to wrestling as it is when it comes to babes. Then again: what do I know? I recently got a memo that suggests that -- after YEARS of priding myself on being "un-type-able" when it comes to girls (i.e. no preference or bias towards certain hair colors or body parts, just an expert eye when it comes to appreciating the Overall Package) -- I have been outted as a lover of Stumpy Legged Fat Chicks. Molly Holly rendered me suspect, non sequitur mentions of Kelly Clarkson sealed my fate, and now we might as well throw Mickie James on the pile, too, eh? I guess I'd feel ashamed if only I didn't know I was 100% in the right on this one, and that I have to assume most guys are with me on this, if I am to retain any faith whatsoever in the human race...

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Shawn Michaels vs. Jonathan Coachman

Before the match, Michaels was forced to "play the role of Triple H playing the role of Michael Buffer." So he did the whole build-up, and the "Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls, Children of All Ages" dealy.... but then, just before he'd be forced to actually verbalize his desire that the audience prepare to utilize their oral orifices to create mild suction around his genitalia, The Jesus bailed him out by cueing the Coach's music. Looks like Shawn narrow avoids a trip to hell once again this week.

Of course, the heathens in the audience don't see Coach's interruption of their favorite naughty catchphrase as anything but evil, so they serenade him with boos. JR makes an A-Rod/Yankee Stadium joke that I'd repeat if only it weren't just true enough to make me angry. Not at A-Rod, but at certain types of fans who are more enthralled with being "Yankee Fans," but who fail to pass the test of being "Baseball Fans." One requires actually intelligence and knowledge; the other only requires the willingness to parrot whatever you hear on braindead sports radio.
 
I digress. Another case here, though, where there's not a whole lot to the match. Coach enters, Michaels plays "bemused," and then Michaels just starts whomping ass. For some reason, he pauses to go out to ringside and put on a brown shower-cap. I think it was supposed to simulate Coach's bald head, though why that would be funny or relevant is beyond me.

Very basic punchy-kicky here, with a de-pantsing thrown in for good measure. And then, when Coach dared to throw a single punch of his own by way of hitting at least one offensive move, Michaels responded by INSTANTLY making an heroic babyface comeback: the Flying Burrito, the Kip Up, the Inverted Atomic, and the Macho Man Elbow! I know it wasn't meant that way, but this made me laugh.... one single punch by Coach, and HBK comes back with the Full Monty. Heh.

Of course, just as Shawn's about to hit the superkick, the Spirit Squad attacks. In stages, Dumb Ninja Style. Michaels handles them easily. It took all of 20 seconds. HBK turns back to Coach, and delivers the superkick this time.... but before he can make the cover, Umaga materializes from out of nowhere (honestly, I actually rewound and tried to figure it out, but I'm guessing he must have been under the ring the whole show up till now), and hits a RUDE Samoan Toss/Drop.

The Spirit Squad re-assemble and try to surround Michaels' carcass, but Umaga scares them all away. Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrrrada shows up, uses a cigar to make the Universal Sign of Use Your Shitty 80s Finisher Now, and Umaga nails Shawn with the Asiatic Spike. Michaels sells it like Ricky Steamboat getting his larynx crushed by Randy Savage, as is his prerogative. As the ring clears out and Michaels is left gasping for breath, I'm reminded that this is one spot where they really over-did the replays and sent me reaching for the remote....

Your Winner: It should be Michaels via DQ, in about 3 minutes, but I'll wager that for Fantasy WWE purposes, they call it a No Decision, which is flat-out dumb. Nothing to see, really, and nothing unexpected, except for Umaga's appearance. Gee, I wonder if the Unnamed Internet Pundit who I savaged last week will have anything else demonstrably moronic to say about WWE's booking of Umaga this week? Probably not, but it'd be funnier if he stuck to his guns about "not giving away Umaga's competitive matches for free" even after he has what will almost certainly be his first Reasonably Good Match next week against Michaels, and in so doing, MIGHT start to gain credibility with fans. Which is exactly what *I* said would be the only way to accomplish the goal of "making" Umaga. Because I am smart and the other guy is.... well, I'll be nice and say "not."

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More Replays of Various Stuff From Earlier: FF.

Backstage: Maria the Mic Stand has eschewed her usual "dumb but undeniably cute-as-a-button" persona to bust out the "it's OK if you want to slap me in the face, because even I find this voice annoying" persona as she introduces (ugh) John Cena. Cena opens by attempting to make a Cleveland Steamer joke, but without actually saying "Cleveland Steamer" (way to Ruck them Fules, Homey!), and that's about the peak of this rather lengthy and painful-to-watch promo. Cena is at his overly-scripted, overly-stilted, overly-intense-for-no-reason, overly-amused-with-himself worst as he does a shitty variation on The Rock's old "recap everything that's happened here tonight while pausing to mock each character I mention" promo. I'd be more specific or give more details, but I think this is all I need to say: the biggest response Cena got was when he decided to mention Armando Alejandro Estrrrrrrrrrada, and the crowd actually perked up and wanted to sing along. With Estrrrrrrrrada's catchphrase. Not with anything Cena was bringing to the table. D'oh. I don't know what made me cringe more: the crappy material, or the fact that Cena was compelled to so totally sell-out to it and present it in his too-intense/fakey/shouting-for-no-reason voice. For the 117th week in a row, there is nothing genuine about John Cena. Sometimes he thinks he's black. Sometimes he thinks he's a marine. Sometimes he thinks he's Steve Austin. And tonight, he thinks he's The Rock suffering from a voice-volume disorder that renders him unable to speak conversationally. It's now passe to call Cena a petulant wigger. For truly, he has transcended that genre to become an All Encompassing Poser.

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No Sale

Eight Divas enter. Seven leave. [If you're thinking about writing in to tell me my math is wrong, you need to rewatch your tape and count heads. Trust me, I'm right on this.] And if you think I stopped to watch it or am gonna recap it, you haven't been paying attention.

Although I did have another brainstorm for why WWE is painfully stretching this out over BOTH shows (and without doubling the speed of eliminations).... it's because if they make SD! the "competition" show, then they can edit out boos and dub in cheers and use other production trickery should fans turn against the segments (as they often did last year). And then on RAW -- the "elimination" show -- they try to keep it down around 4-5 minutes and hope to get them in and out fast enough that fans don't get pissy.

I'd say it's ingenious, but if WWE's going to such great lengths to make sure TV viewers don't see fans turning against the Diva Search, then one can't help but wonder how they didn't stumble across the brainstorm that maybe they just shouldn't bother doing the thing at all....

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Ugh: More Diva Search Hype. FF.

Ric Flair and John Cena vs. Edge and Johnny Nitro

I really like the idea of Edge and Nitro interacting a bit. Just un-gay Nitro a bit, and you pretty much have mirror images of each other, right down to the inexplicably tasty skanks on their arms. It could not only make for an interesting pairing, but obviously makes for an interesting feud at some point down the line once Nitro's stepped up his game adequately and is more over than Melina's ass is.

Four big long ring entrances later, we just jumpstart things with the faces diving into the ring, the heels pouncing, and then a little Pier Four action. After a grand total of 30 seconds, Cena and Flair toss Edge and Nitro over the top rope, respectively, and it is deemed a good time to take our final break for....

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Back, and it seems that we've settled in with Cena as the Babyface in Peril. Edge and Nitro are both well-known for expert tag team work, and they form Voltron here and bring that pent-up experience to the table in the form of quick tags and double-teams. Cutting the ring in half, as Jesse Ventura would say. Nothing fancy, but VERY effective, and well-executed by both guys.

Until Cena dodges a charge by Nitro, and Nitro eats ringpost. Tag to Flair, and looking at the clock (it's already after 11pm, sayeth the timer), you'd think that might be the Hot Tag and End Game.... but you'd be wrong. Flair's house afire act on Nitro peaks pretty quickly with an attempted Figure Four. Which Edge immediately runs in to break up. Which sets off another round of Pier Four brawling. The ref loses track, and in the chaos, Edge manages to Spear Flair.

Finally, the ref gets things sorted out, and basically, it's a big ol' reset as now Nitro gets his wits about him and takes control over Flair. And thus, Flair becomes our REAL Babyface in Peril. Or at least as much of one as he can be in the 3 minutes remaining on the broadcast.

This time, Edge and Nitro's tactics do get a little fancy (and a little diabolical). Lots of naughty stuff outside the ring (including Flair getting double teamed by Lita and Melina, which only redoubles my desire to see Nitro/Edge do more stuff together, just to find out what kinds of deliciously evil things Lita/Melina might get up to at ringside as two of the three most-effective valets since Sensational Sherri herself; the potential synergy is off the charts, as is the potential heel heat). But finally, in a nice touch of Irony, Edge decides to go up to the top rope, and it's Flair who gets to catch an opponent flying off the top with a punch to the gut. Tee hee.

Perfect time for both men to tag, so they do. And Cena goes to town on poor Nitro. Wacky clothesline, wacky tackle, wacky suplex.... but then the ladies get up on the ring apron to distract the ref, so when Cena goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Edge is able to whack him from behind with a steel chair. Nitro makes the cover, but by the time the ref is done enjoying the attention from Melina and Lita, he turns around and only gets a 2 count. 

Both men back up and Nitro sets up for something that was looking to be in the DDT Family, and is probably ostensibly his finisher, but Cena countered out of it by picking an ankle and cinching in the SSTF. Edge tried to come in, but Flair was holding him back. No idea on what was stopping the girls, though. So Nitro had no choice but to tap.

Your Winners: Cena and Flair, via submission, in about 10 minutes or so. Only 6 minutes after the ad break, though, and that's all that "counts" in my overall memory/assessment. That assessment: very well-executed formula tag match, which seemed to build to a a big finish. It's just that once you got to the finish, it wasn't really big.... it was kind of out-of-left-field and anticlimactic, with a little bit of illogical sprinkled on (why didn't the girls do anything to break up the hold?). Then again: that pretty much explains all of John Cena's superman wins, now doesn't it? Why should I have had any higher expectations for this match? Even if the World Champ and the IC Champ were teamed together, and Edge could -- frankly -- have used a win (or being on the winning team) here to remind us that he's more than just a bit player on this show. If you do the calculus, Flair taking a dirty loss is a lot less harmful than the IC Champ taking a clean loss. Why? Because Nitro's main issues are with Carlito/Shelton and you should leave him out of this mess.... whereas Flair's main issue is with Foley, and it just so happens that Foley's best friends are Edge and Melina, so having them nefariously cost Flair a fall would just slide right into the ebb and flow of that story, while also serving the purpose of keeping your champion(s) looking strong. It seems so simple to me, but I guess WWE sees it differently. Go, Superposer, go!

Show ends with more replays, and then a whole lot of Meaningful Eye Contact, mostly betwixt Cena and Edge, as we wait for the sweet, merciful Fade To Black....

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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