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OO RAW RECAP
Starting Fast, Fizzling Late 
September 12, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It's been a while since I can remember a show that seemingly had two such distinct purposes it needed to serve...
 
On one hand, this was WWE's return to MSG after almost two years, and the company (if not Vince McMahon, personally) always wants to make these events on their "home court" special. But on the other hand, this was the last edition of RAW before a PPV, and it needed to stay focused on the business of hyping Unforgiven in a satisfying manner.

 
End result: I'm not sure the Fed can claim a clean win on either front. The good stuff and the "specialness" came earlier in the show, and (perhaps combined with the fact that the live RAW was also preceded by a strong ECW TV taping) that certainly seemed to leave the crowd spent and apathetic in the final 45 minutes as the show wrapped up with a flamboyantly predictable and underwhelming final match/angle.

I'm not saying that this was a bad show... on the contrary: take out one utterly momentum-killing segment, and you did have a solid non-stop 2 hours. I'm just saying that if it's clear that there are these two distinct purposes the show has to serve, it would have made for a much more effective and satisfying show if they'd buried the lame final PPV-selling angle in the middle of the show, and ended with one of the things that had the fans rocking and rolling.

I guess I'm just inventing a new long-winded way to explain my "the way a show ends is very important to me" theory. End strong, and I'm capable of forgetting a lot of crap. End with a predictable thud? That's when my memory of preceding good bits can get hazy.

Here's how it all went down...

A Very Special Moment: MSG is darkened, and the crowd is silent, as a graphic tells us we are Remembering 9/11. Then Fink introduces Lilian Garcia, who belts out "America the Beautiful" (with a horribly cheesy backing track, but that's not her fault; for whatever reason, Vince likes "America the Beautiful" better than the National Anthem) while shots of Ground Zero and the Statue of Liberty are interspersed. Cue up a "USA, USA" chant, and that was pretty much it: brief, simple, tasteful. And (although I can't prove it, you'll just have to take my word for it) my Inner Monologue's precise line at this point -- you know me, I'm mentally pre-writing bits for the Recap at all times -- was "Good. That's what the occasion called for, and I'm glad Vince didn't over-do it. Cuz we're trying to be a country here. Not be a Toby fucking Keith song." Remember this line, people. Remember it.

Ric Flair vs. Umaga

Just as the "USA" chants die down, they fire up Naitch's music, and we're off and running with the Wrestling Portion of tonight's Return to New York City.

Quick video clips remind us that Umaga squashed Flair like a bug about 4 months ago (conveniently enough, just in time for Flair to go and disappear for about a month and get re-re-remarried). And then this match is only really here to remind us that Kane no-likey Umaga.

We get 60 seconds of Umaga pounding on Flair. Then Flair takes advantage of a break in the referee's attention span to repeatedly hit Umaga in the balls. Umaga sells that for about 30 seconds, but then magically recovers as Flair flails away with chops. Flair realizes this isn't going well, so he grabs a chair and hits Umaga with it. Twice. Both very weakly. And both right in front of the ref.

Your Winner: Umaga, via disqualification, in less than 2 minutes. Nothing good here. Nothing too bad, either. This existed merely for expository purposes, as we found out....

After the Match: Umaga and his rock-hard Samoan head no-sold the weak chairshots. But just as Umaga was about to turn the tables and destroy Flair, here comes Kane to make the save. Some restaurant-quality slobber-knockering here, folks, as chairs and the ringsteps get involved. Umaga takes some decidedly stiffer chairshots from Kane, and then there was a "Holy Shit" moment when Umaga was regrouping at ring side and Kane literally threw the ringsteps (from up in the ring) down onto Umaga as hard as he could. Ouch. This only stunned the Samoan Bulldozer, however... but just as last week, when Umaga decided he still wanted him some Kane, Kane shot off his corner pyro, and suddenly, Umaga got all scared and backed off. Well, not "scared," but it is kinda weird that if Umaga's a savage brute, he still politely recognizes Kane's pyro as the acknowledged End Of The Segment. Anyway: the Kane/Umaga brawling was really nice and intense, though with all the other gimmickry on the Unforgiven PPV line-up, they won't be allowed to do anything resembling this on Sunday. Which is too bad; 10 minutes of sluggish punchy-kicky, here they come!

On the Concourse of MSG: Vince McMahon is surveying the "MSG Walk of Fame." He puts over his father and grandfather's contributions to MSG, and then, conveniently enough, he finds his own name carved into the floor. It was the tile with the big, fancy cordon around it. Because, as Vince notes, "nobody walks all over me." Hidden message (if I had to guess): "I stood firm for 2 years, and MSG finally came groveling back to me, because I'm in their Hall of Fame and I'm Vincent Kennedy McMahon, dammit, and nobody tells me what to do."

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If It's Not Scottish, IT'S CRAP~!

Back in the arena, and the ring is being surrounded by the NYPD Bagpipes and Drum guys... Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler wonder what the hell's going on, and I'm sitting on my couch praying Roddy Piper's really here, otherwise, this NYC crowd will shit all over the Highlanders. And thankfully: here are the Highlanders, and there is Rowdy Roddy Piper.

The three be-kilted men of varying levels of Scottishness hit the ring, and of course, Roddy's the one who gets a microphone. He kisses up to the NYC audience, and says he's always so happy to come back to MSG. Then he spins a little tale about walking down the street, and seeing a magazine ranking the top 51 rule breakers in wrestling history.... and guess who was #1? That's right: Hot Rod is the top rated "son of a motherless goat" of all times.

And then, check out the segue on Roddy: he's so proud to be #1, and he's also proud to be here in the ring with the #1 Tag Team Contenders. SmOOth....

So Piper turns to the Highlanders; Roddy and Robbie waste no time getting into a "I'm Roddy"/"No, I'm Robbie" bit of shtick in the name of introducing themselves. Then Rory steps in and slaps Robbie, because "it's the only way you'll get him to shut up." Piper decides that sounds like fun, so he slaps Robbie. Robbie slaps back. And suddenly: we've got a three stooges act going on.

Piper barely has time to note "I haven't had this much fun since I whupped Mr. T's ass" before the hijinx are interrupted by the Spirit Squad. Nothing fancy here. Just some skirt jokes by the Squad, and then some "pom poms where your testicles used to be" riffage back from Piper. And before you knew it, everybody was getting antsy, so Roddy decided to just cut the talky-talk and challenge the Spirit Squad to a fight. Any three of them versus Hot Rod and the Highlanders. 

The Squad huddle to discuss, and then accept. They're heading to the ring, as we head to a break for....

[ads]

Roddy Piper/The Highlanders vs. The Spirit Squad

WWE continues to adhere to the Spirit Squad Depth Chart that I first developed back in February: Kenny and Mikey are joined by Johnny. Nicky and Mitch are left outside to their own devices.

Piper's on a mild role as we return from commercial, but as soon as he tags in one of the Highlanders, we just went straight to the standard formula. But with Piper in the mix, the crowd's way into it and having fun. Heel beatdown by the tag champs goes over like a charm for about 2 minutes, then it's a hot tag back to Hot Rod. He's got the fists a-flying (and not much else going on) as this breaks down into a wild brawl.

All six men in the ring, with an additional two trying to scheme at ringside, which keeps the ref distracted. As Piper's veteran wiles (and frequent eye-poking) allow him to easily handle four Male Cheerleaders on one side of the ring, over on the other (behind the ref's back), the Highlanders have isolated on Johnny. They hit their new finisher (the inverted double-slingshot suplex), leave the ring, and Piper turns around, brings the ref with him, and gets the pinfall.

Your Winners: Roddy Piper and the Highlanders, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes (after the break, but we were joined in progress). Hey, I'm easy, and everything that's mildly amusing about Hacksaw Duggan's sporadic cameos is amplified by about 800 times here with Piper as the Legend In Residence. Fun, surprising, crowd-pleasing fluff spread out over two segments. That's nothing to sneeze at.

Backstage: Tough Questions Todd Grisham has Johnny Nitro and Melina for an interview... and the first question is Tough, indeed. What do Nitro and Melina think of Jeff Hardy comparing their press conference to watching paint dry? Which sends Melina off on a Triple Ironic (on purpose, I'm sure) riff about how she's electrifying and it's Mick Foley's promos that are boring as hell. Then the mic is handed off to Nitro, who generically puts himself over as the camera pans to the right to find Jeff Hardy with a canvas and a few paint brushes. He splashes a few ribbons of color across the canvas, and then stands back and stares at his work, transfixed. Nitro, oblivious at first, finally realizes that Grisham and the cameraman aren't paying attention to him, and turns around. Nitro shoves the easel down. Jeff, delicate fruitcakey arteest that he is, whines, "NOOOOO~! That's my painting!" and attacks Nitro. In the brawl, Jeff gets his hands on a bucket of paint and throws it on Nitro and Melina. That disgusts the two fashion whores, whose outfits have now been ruined, so Jeff takes the opportunity to back off smugly.

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Rap it Up, I'll Take It

This is ostensibly the beginnings of our six-man tag match, but instead, Edge and Lita are out first, and get extended promo time.

Pretty standard fare to start, about how he's going to beat John Cena at Unforgiven, and send Cena packing back to SmackDown!... this prompts JR to note that "not that SmackDown! is a bad place to be, or anything. I watch it every week." However, it was said in much the same tone of voice as Seinfeld's patented "Not that there's anything wrong with that." You know: tolerance flavored with confusion over why, if you can have this one thing, you would ever want to have the other.

Then, it's yuk-yuk time, because Edge notes that Cena's been getting away from his roots lately. He hasn't been kicking out any rhymes. So to remind Cena of where he came from, Edge decided he'll do a little rap right here tonight. 

In true mega-dork fashion, Edge reads his rap directly off a piece of paper, and with nothing resembling a sense of rhythm. Although there are a few funny lines in there, Edge effectively kills off any laughs/cheers when he says "After I grab the title, my career will soar/While Cena chokes worse than the Yankees in '04." Ouch, that one still stings. NYC seemed to agree.

I think the final couplet was "I don't lose TLC, I got nothing to fear/So tune in next week, and you'll see that the Champ Is Here." Then we start up the ring introductions for the rest of the guys in the match. Johnny Nitro is still covered in paint. And Randy Orton is still a tool. After the heels are all in the ring, we break for....

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Carlito/Jeff Hardy/John Cena vs. Edge/Johnny Nitro/Randy Orton

Hmmmm... which one of these six men isn't getting paid for this match? Oh, that's right: it's the one who wasn't getting paid to be slapped around at random by Trish Stratus last week, either. How's it feel to be such a comically colossal fuck-up, Randall, that WWE had to re-write their Code of Conduct just to accommodate your stupid ass by making you work TV tapings for free instead of torpedoing all their storylines by sending you home to sit on your ass for another 60 days? 

If you thought last week's Mixed Reaction to Cena was something, MSG takes it to all new extremes here... and one also can't help but note that this is about as Anti-Cena as any crowd has been since back in the spring. I can't wait to see what happens in Edge's hometown this Sunday on PPV. [Although it will pain me to hear JR forced to parrot the Vince-approved "Talking Point" about the mixed reactions.... which don't really acknowledge the boos, but instead attempt to rationalize them by calling Cena "The Most Controversial Athlete in WWE History." Controversial? Really? You mean the guy who is such a watered down poser that he's safe and non-threatening enough that his strongest fan base is among teenage girls is "controversial"? When did I stop understanding what words mean? I guess I missed the memo a few years ago when N'Sync was named the Most Controversial Rockingest Band of Ultimate Cutting Edge Controversy Of All Times, too...]

Story to start is the same as last week's six-person match: Cena wants to start, and he wants a piece of Edge. Wanty! WAAAAANNNNTTTYYYYY~! But Edge is too smart for that, and sends Orton in. Edge ain't getting paid by the hour here. But at least he *is* getting paid. HA!

We eventually settle into an extended bit with Carlito and Orton, with the announcers doing a hard sell on the notion that these are two Third Generation Superstars we're watching here, and wrestling's in their blood. Well, or in Orton's case: barely graduating high school and then going AWOL from the Army and then begging your dad to help you get a job is in his blood, but close enough. To drive the point home, we cut to a camera shot of the dapperly attired Carlos Colon (Carlito's dad) watching from the crowd. We do not find a shot of Bob Orton in the audience; probably because that's not wrestling in *his* blood either. It's hepatitis. ZING~! 

Carlito pretty much owns Orton, and decides to tag in Cena. Cue the rabid booing and cheering. But with more boos than cheers, it's not unsurprising that Cena kind of took himself out of the mix VERY quickly; I think his ring-time here was less than 15 seconds, and he just decided not to bother. That sucks, because I have IMMENSE faith that if he'd given the asshole fans at MSG even 60 full seconds, they would have arrived at the same chant I did while sitting on my couch: with Cena battling Orton, nothing would be finer than 18,000 people chanting "You Both Suck." Would have been a thing of beauty. 

Anyway, in comes Jeff Hardy. Heels get their first offensive of the night against Jeff. Cut the ring in half, frequent tags, the whole nine. Having both Lita and Melina at ringside to run mild interference didn't hurt, either. About six minutes into the match, Orton has applied (you guessed it) a chinlock, so Jeff fires up out of that and starts a mini-rally. He tries to clothesline Orton out over the top rope, but Orton screws it up; Randall just stands back up, and clearly gestures "Hey, just try it again, I'll do it right this time," but even Jeff knows that would look pretty gay. So he goes through another little punchy-kicky transition, and just when you forgot about the screwed up clothesline, Jeff has Orton lined up again. Clothesline. Orton successfully bumps over the rope. Jeff waits. Orton to his feet. Orton in the crosshairs. And I'm sure Jeff is REAL happy he went through all the trouble to get back to this point, because then....

Jeff yanks the pants right off that spot and proceeds to blow it like the expert he is. 

But hey: four weeks into his WWE return, and this is the first blown spot by Jeff, who has otherwise been rock solid and smooth in the ring. If there'd been an over/under on that stat, and it was set at 2, I probably would have still bet the Under, so good on you, Jeff Hardy.

Anyway, Jeff's attempted dive-of-some-kind goes horrifyingly ugly, and he just lands in a heap in front of Orton. Randall's not exactly a genius, so he kind of half-sells as if Jeff hurt his shin, or something, but otherwise stands around looking stupid. Edge, on the other hand, has been to a bunch of Jeff Hardy's Blown Spot Barbeques, and knows just what to do: he hops off the ring apron, and starts to stomp away on Jeff. Nitro takes the cue and joins in. Carlito and Cena both come running in, and the ref's got himself some trouble a-brewin'....

It's not the spot they had planned on, but with the ref tenuously keeping the parties at bay, we've created the sensation of a break in the action afterall. A perfect spot to place some....

[ads]

Back, and the heel beatdown on Jeff is continuing. And so is the phenomenon from last week where neither Edge nor Cena is in the ring, but there are dueling "Let's Go, Cena"/"Let's Go, Edge" chants. Also: "Cena, Cena"/"Cena Sucks" (humorously, the "Cena Sucks" chants were honestly overpowering, and some of the jerks decided to chant over the teenage girls, so at one point, it sounded more like a unanimous "Cena Sucks" chant).

And best of all: some people started chanting "Go to SmackDown!" at Cena... and I guess Homey must have at least one teenage admirer who's actually in all the advanced classes in high school, because without missing much of a beat, the high pitched squeals respond with "Stay on RAW." "Go to SmackDown!"/"Stay on RAW".... gold, baby, gold.

Jeff's finally able to make a tag, and Carlito's in, and becomes your GENUINE Babyface in Peril. That stuff Jeff was doing was just a decoy. The heels ramp up the jackassery for Carlito, too: instead of just cutting the ring in half and all, they actually start cheating and double-teaming rather frequently. Like good dumb babyfaces, Cena and Hardy periodically distract the ref themselves, but Lita and Melina are making themselves useful here, too.

Carlito's bumping around like a madman, too, and just as happened last week, ends up being the only person other than Edge or Cena to get a chant out of the crowd. That's one charismatic and sympathetic Ricky Morton for you. Nitro finally simplifies the heel attack with.... a thrilling headlock. We've gotta be brushing up against 20 minutes now as Carlito fires up out of that with a sweet-ass flurry, and then tags in Cena.

Not that the crowd was ever out of it, but this brings them all the way back up to 11. Cena's still looking for Edge, and finally gets a brief taste in a wild Pier Six brawl... but then Evil Genius Edge makes himself scarce, setting up an End Game scenario in which the three babyfaces trumped the two remaining heels. Hardy swantoned Nitro, and Cena was gonna finish him off, but Orton was stalking Cena, and stopped that, until Carlito came up behind Orton and hit the double-knee back-cracker, which left Cena to turn back around and bump into the still-woozy Nitro. F-U. SSTF. Nitro taps out. All while Edge looks on from the top of the stage -- title belt in one hand, Lita in the other -- with a rather unimpressed/unconcerned look on his face. Meantime, Cena's all intense and starts making his Me Wanty faces at Edge. Edge? Still not impressed.

Your Winners: Carlito, Cena, and Hardy, via tap-out, in about 20 minutes. Pretty much as good as last week, with Carlito stepping up and standing out as the workhorse (much like the women did last week) while a red-hot crowd preferred to ignore that in favor of booing/cheering Cena/Edge. Hardy's blown spot aside, the crowd made for an electric atmosphere, and I can't say anything much different than what I said about last week's similar contest: it was expertly constructed, almost flawlessly performed, and it made perfect use of all the talents involved (Carlito and Hardy protected Cena by being the sympathetic babyfaces, Edge was outstanding as being the prick who is toying with Cena by not tagging into these matches to fight him, Nitro was Nitro, and Orton stood around and managed not to fuck anything up). Nice.

[ads]

At Ringside: Anthony Michael Hall. I guess not only is he still alive, he's got a show on USA Network. I wouldn't have guessed either.

Vignette: we meet Cryme Tyme again. The tag team of Shad Gaspard and.... well, I guess they are calling The Neighborhoodie "JTG" now, instead. Today, the purposely-caucasian voice-over guy is explaining to us that we're about to see Cryme Tyme's "endurance training" methods. A tubby white guy is strolling through The Hood, talking on his cellphone and claiming he thinks he made a wrong turn somewhere. Shad stalks him. Tubby starts running. Shad and JTG catch him 100 yards later and take his wallet. I'm sure there's a joke to be made about Gaspard being visibly winded after chasing a tubby white guy for 100 yards, but I'll leave that one to Keller. Or maybe that's more a Meltzer-style of observation? In either case, tubby is left in the street, and Whitey The Don Pardo-Style Voice Over Guy declares "Peace out, yo." Although WWE apologized/explained-themselves after a similar skit last week, there's just no way this could possibly be offensive to anybody on racial grounds. The problem is that I'm still not sure whether it'll end up being funny to anybody, either.

Backstage: Vince McMahon is pumping up for his big match tonight against Triple H. He says taking HHH out in the World's Most Famous Arena is something that'll go down in the annals of McMahon Family History. It's something his granddad would have been proud of, that his dad would have been proud of. It's something he'll be able to tell his grandkids about some day (Vince even names all three, good grandpa that he is) and they'll be proud. He pats Shane on the shoulder and says he knows his son is proud. And then he says "And I just wish Stephanie were here, because she'd be really proud. [pregnant pause] Or, come to think about it, she might have some mixed emotions...." Tee hee? Unless there are immediate plans to pay off on all the side comments about Triple H being Steph's baby daddy, it might be time to cut it out. The lack of reaction to Vince's little joke here proves that we all get it, and we're just waiting for the jokes to go somewhere. And if they're not? We're officially bored with knowing that Trips is the one what put his seed in Steph's belly. Coming off the flat joke line, Vince says his win will be bigger than anything that's ever happened in MSG. Which is easy, sayeth Vince, since unlike the Knicks, he's a winner. Ooohhhh, burn. 

[ads]

Super Crazy vs. Chris F. Masters

Wow. Third week back for Masters. And for the second week in a row: he doesn't get a ring entrance. He's just standing in the ring already as we come back from break. Please let the WWE Bylaw covering the Jobberosity of Guys Who Don't Get Ring Entrances be in full effect here. Please.

Super Crazy does get an entrance, but doesn't get much of a reaction. Perhaps fans are spent from the fun six-man match? Or more than likely, they just don't know what to make of WWE suddenly throwing this random, Heat-caliber match out here in the middle of what they thought was a Very Special Return to MSG.

Either way, crowd's dead. Masters uses his power advantage for about 30 seconds. Masters tries desperately to taunt the crowd. The crowd remains silent. Crazy recovers and hits a flurry of moves. Masters reverses an Irish Whip. Crazy is in the corner. Masters charges. Crazy jumps over him, rolls him up with a sunset flip. FIN.

Your Winner: Super Crazy, via pinfall, in less than 2 minutes. Last week, Crazy's win was a pleasant surprise. This week it didn't have nearly the same effect. Beating Masters a second time is nothing but a road to nowhere, and the crowd seemed to sense it. But hey: even if this killed the crowd, they knew enough to keep it short I guess.

Crap: John Cena has a movie coming out. I was clicking around one of those "Coming Soon" sites looking for something, and I noticed that the Powers That Be may have quietly positioned "The Marine" to do moderately well its opening weekend. The two big movies opening that same weekend are both horror/thriller movies looking to score some of that Halloween Season box office. Cena's movie being a straight action flick might wind up being the lone palatable alternative for the part of the movie going public that doesn't go in for the horror niche.

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SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

Oh Dear Lord: also seated in the front row tonight is Toby fucking Keith. And making the whole ordeal even funnier to me? Lawler goes out of his way to declare how much he loves that one song "Courtesy of the Red, White, and Blue." Which was the first time I ever heard of Toby Keith, when my redneck brother was playing that song when I was home for Thanksgiving 2001. Even just 2 months after 9/11, it struck me as the most ridiculous song ever. Not even Weird Al Yankovic could have made it any funnier. "We'll put a boot up yer ass/It's the American Way"? With church bells ringing in the background? And the Statue of Liberty shakin' her fist? Whew. Just thinking about it is putting a smile on my face. So I guess there's a method to Toby Keith's madness? By being such an utterly ludicrous caricature of redneck values, he's helped to make me forget how sad 9/11 was. Except then I remember he also had that song "My Whiskey Girl," which SHOULD be right up my alley, except he's such a dolt he even managed to fuck up the concept of a broad who can handle herself drinking with the fellas. That takes some doing. So maybe just go away, Toby Keith, and don't ever make me do a spit-take by unexpectedly showing up on my TV where you don't belong, again, fucko.

Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James

Mickie enters first, and is definitely getting a re-babyfacification in terms of how Jim Ross is talking about her as "not all that crazy afterall." Trish enters second, and is wearing the kind of pants that would normally lead me to make one type of observation. But in this case, the lo-rise pants are being held up by a belt with an LED Scrolling Buckle (the message: "100% Stratusfaction"). So, with me staring at the Happy Place about 5 inches below Trish's belly-button, it appears as though The Greatest Diva Ever is continuing to innovate new ways to lure my eyeballs to places they shouldn't be right up to the bitter, bitter end. That's dedication.

Match starts off with a little circling, a little smiling, a little nodding as if to say "let's turn this mother out one last time," and finally a hand-slap... sadly, the crowd doesn't seem to be grasping the significance of this being Trish's last RAW match and it coming against her #1 Fan. I blame Chris F. Masters and the preceding segment sucking all the heat out of the room.

Nice back and forth chain wrestling to start. Including a nice spot that SHOULD have gotten the Indie Wanker Polite Applause of Mutual Respect, but didn't. Again: CFM's fault. Then into a phase where the story became how these two have faced each other so often in the past year, and how Mickie is Trish's #1 Fan, and how that means they have each other very well scouted. So counters to everything, mirror-image-style, leading up to a spot where both women go for a clothesline at the same time.

Ref applies a double count, but Mickie gets up first and gets a slight advantage for the moment. But when she tries to go to the top rope, Trish knocks her off, and goes for the handstand headscissors. This time: no counter from Mickie, and it hits. Big rally for Trish, and after a minute or two, she's in position to hit the Stratusfaction Bulldog....

But that's when Lita runs out and jumps up on the apron. The distraction is enough to allow Mickie to escape Trish's clutches and counter into position for a DDT. And then Lita -- perhaps some of Orton's Dumb has rubbed off on her these past two weeks of them being in the same matches? -- figures she's seen enough, and turns around to gloat over how she just cost Trish the match.

Except: Trish re-countered back into the Stratusfaction. And just for shits and giggles, Trish doesn't use the ring ropes to catapult into the bulldog.... she uses the back of Lita's skull, instead. Nice. Lita goes flying off the apron in an indignant heap, and Trish makes the cover.

Your Winner: Trish Stratus, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes. I'd say "nothing too fancy," but the truth is, they did do some good stuff, and the lack of sizzle was more due to the dead crowd. Maybe a case where they could have goosed more out of the crowd if they'd hyped it up a bit better (I'm thinking it wouldn't have killed them to give Lita 30 seconds of mic time before Edge's promo to mock Li'l Trishie's Emotional Farewell Match, and just like that, the crowd would have been more vested, and would CERTAINLY have come more alive when Lita got herself involved). Either that, or (I'm being deadly serious) they killed the crowd with a crap segment following the red-hot tag match. 

After the Match: Lita evaporated, and Mickie hugged Trish and raised her hand in victory. Then Trish posed for a bit, and then grabbed a mic. The crowd NOW finally gets it. At first, MSG can't decide, but the "Thank You, Trish" chant eventually wins out over the more selfish "Please Don't Go" one. Trish soaks it in for a moment, and then simply says, "No, thank *you*, guys. Thank you for coming along with me on this amazing ride." And I'm betting you one billion dollars she could have milked it a lot more, but she decided to just leave it at that. Intentional brevity, or genuine emotion making it too hard to form cogent words? I dunno, but either way: the point is made, and it's appreciated. But no matter how much she protesteth, there's no way I'm accepting her thanks until she accepts ours and just openly admits, "OK, I'm pretty fucking awesome. You're welcome, everybody."

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This Week in Wrestling History: On September 13, 2001, WWF SmackDown! became the first live sports/entertainment broadcast on the airwaves after 9/11. I'd say this segment was a blatantly self-serving abuse of the 9/11 anniversary.... but truth be told, I remember that SD!, and I remember it being pretty much the start of Feeling Normal again after about two days of living in a surreal dream world hosted by Ashleigh Banfield and That One Sorta Black Guy and everybody else on MSNBC. So if Vince wants to be proud of that SD!, I say Fair Play to him.

Hype: JR and Lawler run the Unforgiven PPV line-up. Because they are paid to. I, however, am not. So I'll just say that, for once, the PPV theme song this time around isn't too hateful. I mean: for Jesus Rock, anyway.

Backstage: Triple H and Shawn Michaels are WALKING~! Presumably towards the ring for tonight's HHH/Vince main event. But they are cut off by Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch.... Trips is all "OK, boys, just go back to playing with the other curtain jerkers and get out of my way." But Cade and Murdoch are here for a purpose: to distract DX while Big Show attacks from behind. Show takes out HHH first, while Shane McMahon also swoops in and occupies Michaels. Then they switch off for a bit. Michaels eats a sweet ass Cobra Clutch Backbreaker ONTO THE ROOF OF A NEARBY LIMO. Nice. Then Show goes back to HHH, and they do a spot where it sorta almost kinda looks like Show slammed HHH's head in the door of the limo. What a brutal attack! Surely our scheduled main event is cancelled! Except  not! Because here's Vince McMahon sauntering into frame to declare that HHH will compete no matter what kind of shape he's in. And oh by the way: tonight's match is now gonna be a No DQ match. Anything goes. After these....

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Triple H vs. Vince McMahon (No DQ Match)

Vince hits the ring first, by himself, and looking quite confident. That's because when HHH comes out, he's "bleeding from the ear." OH THE INSENSITIVITY~! Rudely throwing the plight of concussion victims back into their own faces just ONE DAY after Trent Green's tragic injury! I am trembling with moral outrage! Look at how good and decent a person I am! Bask in my self-righteous douchieness, and attempt to emulate it!

Or else we'll be living in a country where stingray jokes are considered funny.

End sarcastic proselytizing.

Trips is in a bad way, and it only gets worse once he slowly drags himself into the ring (at the crack of 11pm, eastern, which means we don't exactly have an epic ahead of us), where Vince McMahon cuffs him one across his bleeding ear. And that's pretty much Vince's offense for a minute. Punches and smacks across the ear. Then he takes his belt off, and uses it to choke and whip HHH for another minute. Then the match spills outside, and Vince rams HHH's head into the ringpost. Now Hunter really is bleeding (from the forehead). 

Back into the ring, and Vince taunts HHH as HHH drags himself up in a corner. HHH locks eyes on Vince and gives him as emphatic a crotchchop as he can, in his weakened state. This enrages Vince, so he kicks HHH in the belly, and delivers a Pedigree. OMG, GIMMICK INFRINGEMENT~! But that's OK, because HHH is an immature child still harboring a pointless grudge from a full month ago, and he's more than happy to play along with Gimmick Infringement. Trips kicks out of the Pedigree, and immediately goes into a full spot-on Hulk Up. Not the generic "hulk up" sometimes used as a synonym for "firing up." But he did the full Hulk Up as performed by Hulk Hogan.

Everything is move for move until HHH replaces the Big Boot with a spinebuster. But then, as soon as he sets Vince up for a Pedigree, Shane McMahon runs out and breaks things up. Then Shawn Michaels is out with a steel chair to even the score. But after a brief flurry, Michaels is eliminated when the Big Show hits the ring and nails a wicked looking powerbomb. Meantime, HHH has crawled outside, and has procured a sledge hammer from under the ring... but Shane spots that, and intercepts HHH easily. 

Shane and Show do a bit more beating on Michaels and HHH. Then they hold Michaels up so Vince can hit him with a chair. Then they hold HHH up so Vince can hit him with the sledge. Then they stand by as Vince cockily covers HHH, and the ref has no choice but to count to three. No rules, no DQs.

Your Winner: Vince McMahon, via pinfall, in about 6 minutes. I dunno. There was absolutely nothing surprising or creative about either the pre-match backstage angle or the match itself. It was just.... boring and predictable. Which is bad enough on its own, but doubly bad when there's this sensation that there MUST be something climactic or satisfying coming, what with this being a huge MSG Return Show, and all. But nope: nothing. Just a standard pre-PPV heel beatdown, and not even a particularly compelling one at that. Final shot of the night is as formulaic as it gets: the McMahons and Big Show standing over their fallen PPV opponents. Bleh: you know it's pretty bad when the usually-discerning NYC fans are actually half-heartedly chanting for freaking X-PAC to show up. Like that would really help.... but I guess it would have been SOMEthing, at least....

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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