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OO RAW RECAP
30 Minutes of Butter Spread Over
2 Hours of Toast 
August 2, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com

 

It appears as though WWE is officially out of ideas.
 
There were a few gems on last night's RAW. Shawn Michaels once again stole the show with a killer segment (albeit one that had a lame ending). Kurt Angle and Eugene are working well together and had a fun little story and match with Special Returning Superstar Tatanka. But other than that? The pickin's were slim.

There were a few 

spots where the creative team just flat-out booked itself into a corner, and it was impossible to book their way out of it in a compelling or logical way. So they lazied it up, with a main event that was a nightmare of continuity and good sense.

There was the one big spot where they creative team just flat out didn't try to come up with a way to weave Matt Hardy into storylines, and just sent him out there to tell his side of the Edge/Lita story, and with permission to say that HIS story was "real," but all the Lita/Kane stuff was just a TV Storyline. Which was enough to make your head explode the second that Matt changed gears and started talking about Lita's injury at the hands of Kane last week like *it* was real, even though it was part of the TV storyline he had already just exposed as fake. 

And then there was about a full one-quarter of the show which featured over-long matches that might work on a house show, and might even cut the mustard on Sunday Night Heat.... but which are just not acceptable for Monday Night TV.

From watching last night's show, you'd think that it's really difficult to come up with 2 hours worth of reasonably interesting TV featuring personalities fans care about... because WWE managed to come up with about 30 minutes of a very entertaining show, and then tried to stretch it into 120. Seems to me they're making this look a lot harder than it really is.

Which makes my job of recapping RAW to make it more fun to read about than it was to watch a lot harder than it should be, too. But unlike WWE's creative team, I'm up for the challenge. Here's the full rundown of last night's show....

Cold Open: Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho (Very Special "Not the Highlight Reel" Edition)

No video package, no opening theme, no nothing this week.... just straight to the arena for Chris Jericho's pyro and ring entrance. While he makes his way to the ring, the announce team briefly welcome us to RAW, and I immediately note that the normal RAW entrance ramp is not here tonight, and theorize that WWE must have some sort of reason for that staging decision. Maybe some kind of stunt. Maybe of a vehicular nature. Of course, as the show plays out and nothing of the sort happens, I am teased by my friends, who enjoy seeing me make ass-hatted wrestling predictions (for it happens so rarely). And now, thinking back, once Jericho hit the ring, there was no "Highlight Reel" set, and certainly no obscenely expensive JeriTron 5000 hanging from the ceiling... so maybe all we were dealing with is the fact that the Grand Ballroom at the Mohegan Sun Casino isn't exactly equipped to accommodate WWE's more complicated staging needs? 

Jericho is here to open the show with a declaration of the short-livedness of John Cena's WWE Title reign. Because, you see, a few weeks ago, Jericho and GM Eric Bischoff hatched a plot, and so far, it's going swimmingly. They are softening up John Cena, preparing to end his title reign, and last week exposed Cena not only in the ring, but outside of it. Covering the "outside" part first, Jericho notes that Cena's performance sucked, and declared "That wasn't rap, that was crap." And somewhere, the Estate of Curt Hennig should collect a shiny nickel as a royalty payment.

But covering the "inside the ring" part, Jericho goes a bit more in-depth, complimenting Carlito on his big win last week over Cena, and then complimenting himself even more on being the bestest, most impartial referee of all times. Without the JeriTron available to him, Jericho even requests that the Monkeys In The Truck roll the footage of that match... and his request is honored. And near as I can tell, a referee sac-kicking a participant in a match is, indeed, perfectly legal and impartial, so kudos to Y2J on his fine officiating work!

Then things start getting a little messy, as Jericho says that tonight Cena has to defend his title against Carlito, and it doesn't matter who wins, because at SummerSlam, Jericho is still the #1 Contender, and he'll beat whoever has the title. Except right after he said that, he launched into an extended sequence riffing directly on Cena (in so doing, he was also obligated by the Writer Monkeys to call Cena a "thug," which fricking annoys the piss out of me since Cena is more Poser than Thug; but as a make-good, Jericho DID sneak accusations of "brown-nosing," which actually goes counter to the personality WWE would LIKE for Cena to have, but which is easily interpreted as Jericho mocking Cena's annoying habit of pandering to audiences like a needy 7-year-old). The punchline to Jericho's rant was that the kick to the balls Cena got last week won't be ANYthing compared to the pain of Jericho taking Cena's WWE Title at SummerSlam. Um: so I guess just forget that part about Carlito possibly winning this match tonight?

As if on cue, John Cena ran out from the back (no music, no nothing) and bum rushes Jericho with a single leg take down. So: the return of over-reactive petulant brat John Cena? You just never know from week to week which John Cena will show up: the one who'll assess a situation and use his words to convey his more-reasonable emotions, or the one who appears to have the emotional maturity of a grade-schooler and the patience and restraint of a coked-up gorilla. And it's because Cena has not yet bothered to just establish himself as a fully formed character; instead, he's the Wigger Caricature, and he's a prop of the writing team. He behaves differently from week to week because the writers don't care about building his character: they only care about using him to fill whatever need they have in their frequently-lazy storylines. This week? Required that Cena be in Spaz Mode. So that's what they had him do. I wouldn't put any money on Cena reacting the same way next week, though. And that's yet another huge part of the problem why the guy just can't get over that last hump to be the brand-carrying mega-star WWE wants him to be.

Anyway, Cena's tackle on Jericho is met, less than 5 seconds later, but a swarm of security guards and the dulcet tones of GM Bischoff, who is ordering that the two cease and desist this display of actual physicality. The guards finally get Jericho and Cena separated, and keep Cena at bay in the ring, while Jericho heads up the aisle to join Bischoff. Bischoff decides to blame this Unmitigated Chaos on Cena, accusing Cena of "raising hell." Oy: for one, stop trying to turn him into Steve Austin. For two, one mostly-unprovoked physical attack might be a bit aggressive, but it's not "raising hell." As punishment, Bischoff thinks he needs to assign another special guest referee for Cena's WWE Title match tonight, just to make sure Cena doesn't get DQ'ed by some pushover ref. He needs a ref who'll be able to stand up to Cena's antics and put a stop to them. In other words: he needs Chris Jericho to once again step in as referee.

Jericho seems to like this. Cena seemed resigned, but not nearly as inexplicably pissy as he was mere moments ago. And that left Jim Ross to register the indignity of the masses, but trying to convince us that SURELY John Cena's title reign will come to an end tonight. Sadly, Jim, I don't think that's a real possibility (and already I'm having a sinking feeling in my stomach that there is absolutely no compelling or logical way to pay off the main event, too). And stop calling me Shirley.

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Big Show and Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Masters and Gene Snitsky

Christ. I had actually managed to block out the memory of last week's phenomenally stupid Masters/Snitsky vs. Shelton handicap match. And for once, wished that the dimwitted Creative Team would have done the same, and just let this little thread drop. Instead: nope, they're right on the ball with this one, serving up the Heat-Caliber Tag Team Showdown Demanded By NO ONE!

Show and Shelton TRY to get us off on the right foot with what would have been a mind-blowingly awesome spot. Show tried to boost Shelton from the arena floor all the way up to the top rope in one smooth motion (even in theory, I'm mildly amazed), but it didn't quite work out. Instead, Shelton overshot the top rope and landed on his feet in the ring, and had to just charge at the heels to jumpstart the match.

Shelton is in command against Masters to start, and that lasts for a minute or so. Then Shelton decides to tag in Show, and Masters pusses out, scurrying back to his corner to tag in Snitsky. Snitsky's in no particular rush to get into the match, so Show helps him into the ring, and then proceeds to pound away methodically. Lots of open hand chops. Lots of them. Including a few of the "Shhhhhh!" Chops, which are a pretty funny little touch.

Show's dominance over Snitsky was so total and complete that he eventually tossed Snitsky out over the top rope. And then Masters tried to attack from behind. In a touch that I can't decide if it was humorously-cocky, or a bit of inattention-to-detail, Shelton didn't budge an inch from his spot on the ring apron, opting to let Show deal with the sneak attack all by himself. Which he did by pounding away on Masters for about 15 seconds and then press slamming him out of the ring on top of Snitsky. Both heels down, Show's celebrating, which means that, goddammit, this match is going to last long enough to justify this break for....

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Back, and Shelton has taken over duties for his team, and is in control for about 8 seconds, until formula dictates a change. Shelton misses a Stinger Splash, and Snitsky is able to tag in Chris Masters for the beginning of the Lengthy Heel Beatdown. One of Masters' moves? An ultra shitty side slam. His next trick? A fricking bearhug, which Jerry Lawler actually tries to sell as "a lot like the MasterLock." Which is accurate if and only if he meant it as "Much like the MasterLock is Nothing But A Shitty Full Nelson, this current move is Nothing But A Shitty Bearhug." Chris Masters: Boring the crap out of wrestling fans since February, 2005.

Shelton eventually escapes Resthold #1, so Masters decides it's Snitsky's turn. Snitsky comes in and after no more than 30 seconds goes for Resthold #2 (a "modified Cobra Clutch," which was only modified for Extra Suck, as Snitsky had it maybe one-quarter locked in). The frequent heel tags continued, and the double-teaming continued, and in general as the waiting for the other shoe to drop continued... and frankly, I couldn't believe how generous the crowd was being with their rhythmic clapping and whatnot for Shelton as he endured resthold after resthold (including a shitty chinlock from Masters).  To me, it sure as hell felt like we were 12 minutes into what should have been a 6 minute match.  But hey, for as often as I tell WWE to listen to the crowd, I'll heed my own advice and acknowledge that they still haven't turned on this match the way I did.

It is out of Masters' shitty chinlock that Shelton finally makes his final comeback: he reverses a suplex into a neckbreaker, and both Show and Snitsky tag in for a House Afire sequence. When Masters tries to get involved, Shelton musters just enough to come to Show's aid, and they do a double-team version of that Dragon Thingie Leg Whip on Masters. Shelton and Masters powder out. Show quickly finishes off Snitsky with a chokeslam. And that's that.

Your Winners: Shelton and Show, via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. You know what this felt like? A house show match... probably satisfying if you're there in the live crowd. But if you only have 2 hours of TV per week to fill up, you can do LOTS better than subjecting your loyal fans to 15 minutes of Snitsky and Masters. Yes, fans want to see Show/Shelton win, but they don't want to wait 15 minutes to see them do it over these two over-pushed, under-interesting schmucks. The highest praise you could ladle on this match was that it was "competently formulaic." And if you wanted to be less generous, "boring filler" would be another accurate label. Because Shelton and Show are too good to be slumming it like this.

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The Eugene Invitational, Part 1: The Pre-Rambling

It's a twist on an old favorite: Eugene hits the ring, proudly sporting Kurt Angle's Olympic Gold Medal. At his side is Christy Hemme, who for her part is sporting a little cheerleader-y outfit that matches Eugene's jacket. I must admit: tis a good look for Spaz.

Spaz handles the mic work (except for Eugene briefly asking to play with her pom-poms), first reminding us that Eugene beat Angle last week to take his medal, and then announcing that it's time for the first ever Eugene Invitational.... so she'd like for tonight's Hometown Hero to come on out to the ring.

So out comes.... Kurt Angle? Angle gets a mic, and tries to tell Eugene that play time is over. But Eugene cuts him off with "What's your name, and where're you from?", which was Angle's mantra during many an Angle Invitational. Kurt tries to laugh off Eugene's question, but Eugene is not asking rhetorically. "What's your name and where're you from?" is asked in sing-songy fashion a good 5-6 times until Angle -- for the second week in a row -- seems on the brink of having his head explode.

Finally Kurt decides to play along, and says, "I'm Kurt Angle, and I'm from Pittsburgh, PA." But Eugene knows him some basic geography (and some basic Foleynomics), and gets a cheap pop by declaring, "But this isn't Pittsburgh, this is Mohegan Sun!"... which sends Angle into Defensive Mode, as he was willing to PRETEND that Eugene was from Cleveland the week before, so maybe we can pretend this week, too? But Eugene doesn't want to pretend this week.

So Angle tries another tack: he says that they're on an Indian Reservation, so there's not gonna be any Hometown Heroes out there. So Eugene might as well just accept the challenge from Angle... except: did Kurt really just say that you couldn't find a wrestler on an Indian Reservation? Clearly, he's unfamiliar with DECADES of stereotypical wrestling gimmicks! The only question is: are any of those guys still in any shape to wrestler here tonight?

As if on cue, it's TATANKA out to answer that question! And judging by the 60 pounds he's added since last he was on TV, the answer is "no." But he'll give it the old college try, anyway. Angle is forced to retire to ringside to watch as the "hometown hero" (oh, how JR tried mightily to convince us that Tatanka was a local) tries his hand against Eugene, instead.

The Eugene Invitational, Part 2: Eugene vs. Tatanka

From the start, Eugene is playing up how big a fan he is of Tatanka, with handshaking and hugging and whatnot. I found it odd that Tatanka didn't just do the obvious and turn heel on Eugene, but perhaps WWE is still stinging from the Muhammad Hassan Fiasco, and shan't dare cast a member of any ethnic group as evil? I mean, we must protect the feelings of the White Man, whose nerves are still exposed and frazzled by the tragic events at Little Big Horn.

But I digress. The match was about what you'd expect. Out of the gate, it was about 90 seconds of back and forth chain wrestling. Lots of arm wringers and stuff like that. Nothing too complicated at all. Then Tatanka gained nominal control with a top-rope tomahawk chop, but that only served to get Eugene fired up. In a funny spot, he Eugened-Up by mimicking Kurt. Kurt had to watch from ringside as Eugene hit the Angle Slam, and then pantomimed "taking the straps down." Then Eugene cinched in the anklelock with about 30 seconds left on the clock. Victory was assured.

Except that Angle couldn't stand seeing Eugene win a match by using Kurt's own moves, so he interfered and attacked Eugene. Instant DQ. After the match, Eugene fought back, and eventually Tatanka (the FRIENDLY Indian) joined in, and they disposed of Angle, who once again proved he has mastered the "Sap With Dignity" Archetype. Eugene and Tatanka celebrated with Spaz to close out the segment. And there are worse things in the world than Spaz doing cheerleader poses in that outfit.

Your Winner: Eugene, via DQ, in about 2:30. Not really good or anything, but fun and effective. And joking aside, it's probably for the better that Tatanka didn't "turn heel," since this was a tidier, neater, happier ending.

Hype: Hulk Hogan was on Larry King last week, and talked about his crappy reality show. No sale.

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Backstage: Tough Questions Todd Grisham wants to know what Kurt Angle thinks about Eugene successfully defending his gold medal. This sends Angle into a rage, as that is NOT Eugene's medal, no matter what he might think. And next week, RAW is in Pittsburgh, and Angle really will be the Hometown Hero. Angle promises that he will do horrible things to Eugene, and regain HIS Gold Medal. That's what I love about Kurt: he can go from comic putz to legit bad-ass in the span of one commercial break. And he's excellent at both roles.

Video Package: A lot of crap happened with Kane, Lita, and Edge last week. If you think I'm recapping a recap of crap, you're wrong. Not when you should just go read last week's recap if you want a more accurate portrayal of what went down.

Elsewhere Backstage: Carlito Cool and Chris Jericho are in Eric Bischoff's office. They are commiserating over what a jackass John Cena is, enabling each other's hatred of the Doctor of Wiggernomics. Carlito thinks that Jericho should get even with Cena after the opening segment, and that he should do it tonight. Jericho assures Carlito that he intends to do just that, because as the referee of tonight's WWE Title Match, he's promising that Carlito will walk out with the title. Carlito thinks thas cool. And then at SummerSlam, it'll be Jericho vs. Carlito. Also cool. Except: also in direct opposition to Jericho's own previous comments about guaranteeing to take the title from Cena at SummerSlam. Oy: this is what happens when an unclever creative team books on the fly and ends up backed into a continuity nightmare of a corner. There's really no good way out of it. Eric Bischoff shows up as Jericho and Carlito are finishing up their scheming, and is VERY happy to see the two on the same page. He says that they can stay in his office as long as they need to cook up a plan to relieve Cena of the WWE Title tonight. Bischoff leaves, and Jericho starts showing off to Carlito just how fast he can count to three....

Elsewhere Elsewhere Backstage: A big black limo arrives. And out steps Vince McMahon. His Major Announcement is next....

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If Matt Hardy Was A Stock, He'd Be Trading At A Three-Month Low

Vince McMahon power struts out to the ring, and wastes no time grabbing a mic to get started.

And wastes no time entering self-congratulatory mode on the 636th edition of RAW, which makes it the longest-running fictional TV show in history, because this week, it is in WWE's interests to be part of the genre. Again: it annoys me that WWE has a hard-on to be listed in a category with "Gunsmoke" or "Seinfeld," instead of just realizing they are a genre all their own, and then working their asses off to be the best example of that genre that they can be.

Vince goes on to not thank WWE fans for the long-running nature of RAW, and instead thanks himself. Because he's a man who does what's good for business, even if goes against his own personal preferences. As evidence, he mentions hiring a "son of a bitch" like Eric Bischoff and resurrecting ECW: things he did not because he was fond of them, but because they were good for business.

So to that end, he has a major announcement tonight. He's bringing somebody back to RAW who has been wreaking havoc on his show for the past month. Somebody who is a pain in his ass. But somebody who also has the wrestling world talking, and who will help WWE's bottom line. So Vince introduces us to RAW's newest superstar, and the man who Vince has signed to go one-on-one against Edge at SummerSlam...

Matt Hardy.

Matt comes out to a nice big pop. And after thanking Vince McMahon, Matt also does the polite thing and also thanks the fans for helping to bring him back.

But to the other fans who might not know the story, Matt decides to "shoot" with us. He reveals that Kane and Lita's marriage was just a TV storyline, and that every night, "Amy Dumas" came home to Matt Hardy in real life. Oy. But something happened last winter, and "Adam Copeland" stole "Amy" away and the two started having an affair. And then when the whole story got out to the public, it was Matt Hardy who lost his job.

But Matt would sit at home, and appreciate each and every week when fans would chant "We Want Matt" or "You Screwed Matt," and decided to take matters into his own hands. And now, thanks to that vocal fan support and Mr. McMahon, he's here to settle the score with Edge.

He says Edge already cost him his dream of having a family. Whhaaaaa? He took your girlfriend, dude, not your nutsac. But he won't let Edge cost him his dream of being a WWE Superstar... so whatever misery Edge is in now because of Lita's situation (wait: so Kane/Lita was just a TV Marriage, but now that Kane is tombstoning Lita and causing a Severe Injury to her, it's real again? who the hell is Logic Checking this shit?), Matt promises to enhance that misery to the point that Edge will wish he was dead.

And furthermore: the only thing that would give Matt Hardy more joy than getting to make Edge wish he was dead would be if Edge got hit by a car and died in the middle of a street before Matt even laid a hand on him. Ohhhh, nasty.

Well, I think that cinches it: Matt Hardy was more popular 3 months ago than he is today. I don't think many of us really cared so much about his personal anguish as we did about the fact that it was total bullshit that he didn't really do anything wrong and he got fired for it... now that he's got his job back, those of us that felt badly for him are assuaged, and can go back to realizing what a silly piece of melodrama this is, and how we really don't care about some dude whining about a lost girlfriend. Especially not 5 months after the fact. All the death-wishing also added to the annoyingly-cheesy Springer-osity of it all. Matt's behaving no more rationally or relatably in his "real" situation with "Amy" than Kane did in his pretend relationship with Lita.

And don't even get me started on what a ricockulous idea it is to wallop fans over the head with the notion that THIS storyline is real, but Kane/Lita is fake, and yet, in the "real" storyline, Matt is directly referencing last week's events in the fake storyline as if they are real. Seriously: what the fuck? This is EXACTLY what I was talking about MONTHS ago as the fundamental problem with bringing Matt back and trying to make use of his real life drama as a storyline.... because to weave everything together WITHOUT doing the "some stories are fake and some are real" thing would take a deft touch and some cleverness. Things WWE's creative team lacks. They proved it the second they sent Matt out there to present Kane/Lita as a fake TV storyline, but then having to recognize the reality of Lita's neck injury at the hands of Kane later on in the same promo. Awful. 

And Writer Monkeys, the solution is NOT having Kane and Lita show up on TV, acting chummy, and with Lita not hurt on the grounds that they were just doing a TV story, and don't really hate each other. That'd only make matters worse.

I'm a huge fan of the idea of Matt Hardy getting a fair shake at an upper-card spot in WWE, but this isn't the direction you want to go to get him there.

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Backstage: Vince McMahon is departing the building, and is approached by Kerwin White. Kerwin is looking for advice on Greenwich, CT, since he's thinking about moving there. Vince called Kerwin "Chavo" for a cheap laugh, and then brushed Kerwin off... funny, since I would have bet a large sum of money that "Kerwin White" was Vince McMahon's own personal idea of a Really Funny Gimmick and he might have given it a bit more "rub" than that...

Val Venis vs. Rob Conway

Are you kidding me? You already gave Snitsky/Masters a 15 minute tag match, and now this? Each week I ask the question, I do so less rhetorically than the week before: are you really THIS out of ideas, WWE? Because this is NOT ready for prime time...

For the record: Conway's new look is so flamboyantly gay that it's not even fun to mention it or make fun of. Which is saying something, considering how I love to toss dismissive accusations of wang-craving at just about any glossed up pretty boy on the roster who clearly got his job due to cosmetics instead of due to talent. But it's kind of like with Maria the Mic Stand: it was hilarious to mock her subnormal intelligence when she was fucking up accidentally, but now that she's acting stupid on purpose, it's not as much fun.

Also incredibly-gay? Conway's new catchphrases about doing things the "Con-Way," which were introduced in a pre-taped promo aired during his ring entrance. The sad thing is: the guy actually deserves better than this, as he was the one genuinely talented member of La Resistance, and has actually managed to find the one gimmick that is even worse than "French Sympathizer."

And the match? No way, Potsie. This went at least 6 minutes, and unlike the previous tag match, the crowd was NOT generous when Conway went for a chinlock 5 minutes into what should have been a 3 minute match. They were bored and restless as Val staged his big comeback (to near silence).

Val's rally got to the point where he felt it was time to hit the Money Shot. See? And Conway's SOOOOO gay that I can't even muster up a joke about how much he'd love to be on the receiving end of Val's money shot. Because it's just too easy and no fun. And plus: Conway's able to repress his alternative-lifestyle-appetites long enough to try to win a wrestling match. Which he does by catch Val before he can come off the top rope, crotching Val on the top turnbuckle, and then yanking him into position for "The Ego Trip" (which is like a hanging DDT/neckbreaker sort of deal). Yawn.

Your Winner: Rob Conway via pinfall in 6-8 minutes. Not a bad match, necessarily, but this is NOT how you fill up valuable Monday Night Airtime, dammit. You can do this on a house show, you might even get away with it on Heat. But what the hell is going on here? How fucking hard is it to come up with 2 hours of week of stuff people will actually care about? Even as an excuse to establish Conway's new "gimmick," this was at least twice as long as it had any business being. 

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Shawn Michaels Rescues Us From Temptation... the Temptation to Change the Channel

We come back to what sort of looks like Larry King's TV studio, and a guy who sort of looks like Larry King introducing Hulk Hogan. Who only sort of looks like Hulk Hogan, because he's really Shawn Michaels in disguise.

And kids, this was pretty much the night's highlight: watching Shawn go through every tired old Hogan riff -- including about 937 "brothers" -- and doing it with relish. "Hogan" said that he's 102 years old, but it doesn't matter how old you are, it only matters how old you feel, and he feels 152. A caller from Battle Creek, MI, asks when "Hogan" will come back there, and "Hogan" says that the question implies that he'd ever been to Battle Creek before, which he hasn't been, because "Hogan" only hits the Big Cities. Really funny stuff, and I can't do it justice here in the written word.

All that stuff built up to "Larry King" throwing it to a montage of Shawn Michaels, intended to show "Hogan" what he was up against... and it was a VERY babyfacish video tribute covering Michaels singles career.

When they came back, "Larry" asked "Hogan" how he'd counteract a man as tough as the Showstopper. And "Hogan" went onto a riff about how it doesn't matter, because Shawn Michaels isn't at his level, was never at his level, and it's because Michaels was always more concerned with having the best match of the night and working just as hard in Battle Creek, MI, as he did in Madison Square Garden, and making all these other comments that (to me, at least) had the actual impact of making Michaels seem like the babyface here. Strange. All "Hogan's" comments painted Michaels in a good light and had enough taint of truthfulness that the crowd reacted to them as such.

"Larry" finally tried to direct things towards the SummerSlam match, and "Hogan" said it wouldn't matter because he'll just do his usual thing of politicking backstage and he'd once again win the match. Jesus: we already have Edge/Hardy playing the "it's a real fight" card, and now are we supposed to think that Hogan/Michaels will end in a "shoot," too? "Hogan" starts working himself up into a tizzy of "brothers" and pose-downing, and when "Larry" tries to calm him down, "Hogan" superkicks him out of his chair.

Michaels then yanked off the wig/baldcap and stared at the camera, and I was BEGGING for the skit to end right there. Sadly, it did not. Instead, Michaels (still incongruously wearing his Hogan mustache) started talking as himself in a very serious voice, and hits the Shitty Punchline, "Hogan, you might have a reality TV show, but at SummerSlam, reality is gonna kick you in the face." And then Michaels stepped back and superkicked the camera. The fuck?

What a retarded tag line. Doubly retarded since Michaels delivering it with his Hogan Moustache intact was really stupid-looking. If anyone out there can tell me what was gained by letting that segment run those final 20 seconds, I'm all ears. Until I hear from you, I'm just gonna assume I'm right, and that a non-retarded creative team would have cut things off just a bit sooner, with a Michaels Death Stare, instead of a cheesy Michaels punchline. Up until those final 20 seconds though? This really was outstanding, funny, with a tinge of legit shootiness, and was pretty much the highlight of RAW.

Backstage: the Divas are WALKING~! Which means that things aren't getting any better after these....

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Diva Search 2005: "Why Rob Schneider Doesn't Bring People Out To The Theaters" Theatre

First, an eliminationing: and it's "Summer" (the badly-fake-boobed, annoying-voiced "Just Bring It" girl) who gets tossed out. Given that Leyla was immune this week, that's another solid choice, America. The Rick's 3 approved-as-semi-tolerable choices are all still alive and kicking. What gives? Am I losing my touch as a truly discerning connoisseur of fine women? Or is the American Populace picking up a thing or two from The Me?

And second: it's on to the competition, which looks like a really pussified girly-version of the old American Gladiators "Joust" competition.

Oh wait, I almost forgot: before the competition, let's introduce our Very Special Guest, Rob Schneider. He's here to... well, I dunno what. First, he turns the crowd against him by showing an unfunny clip from his new unfunny movie. Then he fails to get the audience back when he hits his Alleged Catchphrase ("You can do eeet!"). And then he closes by talking about his raging erection. Because that's what passes for comedy when your claim to fame was once being the 7th-funniest person on Saturday Night Live.

The mini-tourney has Ashley beat Leyla. Then Elisabeth beat Kristal (and after that, the two seemed to go into business for themselves again by teasing a catfight; methinks the Rick's original knee-jerk favorites might be cahooting in hopes of being the Final Two, and getting to have a TV feud with each other, or something). Then Elisabeth beat Ashley to be the Grand Champion of Mega-Cushiony Girly Jousting. I couldn't be bothered to pay attention, so I have no idea if the victory ensured immunity or not. I don't think it matters, as I'll be genuinely shocked at this point if Leyla isn't the next to go: if Ashley can survive looking so lame in the hot dog eating contest, I figure she's safe after a decent Joust showing, and she'd be the other likely to be voted off, I'd think.

After the competition, Coach and Schneider did some stupid crap in which Rob supposed out-smoothed Coach and walked off with Elisabeth. Because chicks dig guys who sport boners in public? So THAT's what I've been doing wrong all these years.... ugh. Schneider: what a freaking choade. I hope he (or his movie's production company) paid to be on RAW tonight, and that it wasn't the other way around. Otherwise, WWE's even more screwed up than I think.

Video Package: Cena/Jericho/Carlito from last week. I don't recap recaps.

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John Cena vs. Carlito Cool (WWE Title Match, with Special Referee Chris Jericho)

Eric Bischoff enters first, because he wants to oversee his latest Evil Scheme. Then Jericho comes out, once again taking his Referee Duties seriously this week, if his wardrobe is any indication. Then Carlito. Then Cena. Whew. No wonder we got the ring introductions underway with a good 20 minutes of TV time remaining.... getting all those dudes out to the ring takes time.

Cena has no time to pose or anything, as Carlito immediately attacks him. And does stuff like using Cena's own t-shirt to choke him out. Which referee Jericho seems not to notice. Also, when Carlito decides to go for pinfalls, Jericho is right there to count. SUPERfast, too. But Cena manages to kick out. The illegal beatdown lasts all of about 60 seconds, then Carlito tosses Cena into the steel ringpost.

Cena's down at ringside. Carlito is proud of himself. Jericho seems to be enjoying things. And Eric Bischoff is looking mighty happy his own self. And I swear this set of reaction shots took longer than the actual in-ring action that preceded them. But whatever: a grand total of 2 minutes into this match, let's break for....

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Back, and Carlito's working the arm/shoulder that got sent into the ringpost. I think he settled on a top wristlock, eventually, which gave Cena a chance for a little mini-fire-up. But Carlito was able to contain that (with a little assist from Jericho). Carlito then moved into a sequence of offensive moves that were a bit higher-impact. A neckbreaker, a nice DDT, and a lot of punch-kicky, too... and after all his bigger moves, Carlito would always go for the cover, and Jericho would always try for a fast-count. But Cena would escape every time.

Finally, about 10 minutes in, Carlito got a bit lazy, and Cena was able to duck a clothesline, and then bounced back off the ropes with a tackle. Instead of following up on Carlito, though, Cena went directly after the ref, Jericho, cuz he knew full well that Jericho wouldn't let him sustain the advantage. Just thinking out loud: if Bischoff and Jericho are so smart, why didn't they add in another stipulation that the title would change hands on a DQ if Cena touched the referee? Oh, that's right: because thinking things through and closing continuity holes isn't the way WWE rolls... and also because that stip would have made it impossible for WWE to run with the incredibly lazy and unsatisfying finish that they had planned here....

Anyway, Cena's attack on Jericho gives Carlito enough time to recover and regain the advantage. This time: not so much in the way of high-impact. Just a chinlock, as I recall. Then, when Cena started to rally again, Jericho joined in and they took Cena out to ringside, where Carlito tossed him into the ringside barrier and stuff like that. Back in the ring, Carlito got a couple more very quick 2-counts, but then Cena started to finally rally in earnest.

At this point, Jericho just set up camp lounging in a corner, watching the action.  Cena did his thing, and Jericho let him. But when Cena went for a cover after a Five Knuckle Shuffle, Jericho didn't give him the count, either. Cena got pissed at this, and again went after Jericho. The two brawled until Carlito was recovered enough to join in. But 2-on-1? Not a problem for Cena. He took Jericho out with one arm, and kept pounding away on Carlito with the other. It got to the point where Eric Bischoff felt the need to interfere.

So Bischoff got up on the ring apron to distract Cena. Jericho was about to pounce on Cena from behind to finish him off, but Cena felt it coming and dodged. Jericho goes flying into Bischoff, and the two go flying to the floor in a heap. Carlito tries to capitalize, but Cena's on a roll. He quickly hoists Carlito up for an F-U. And hits it. And the hell? Out of nowhere, another referee magically materializes and counts to three.

Your Winner: John Cena via pinfall, in about 15 minutes. Probably your Match of the Night, but only by default. That's the third week in a row of me saying that. Which says alot about the quality of the in-ring product RAW is delivering. And also: I won't chew your ear now, but you gotta realize that the silly stipulation/booking here raises more questions than it answers. There were ways to book out of the corner that would have been creative and a bit more interesting, but which also would have required a bit of attention to detail and playing up tension between Carlito and Jericho (something WWE probably is too nervous to do, since giving fans a choice of cheering one of two heels when Cena is already leveraged kind of precariously as a babyface might lead to trouble) and doing a finish in which Jericho grudgingly makes the count for Cena. Instead of the "If Bischoff doesn't fire Magically Materializing Mike Chioda next week, then this storyline is horseshit" finish like they did. Decent enough action, but with a finish that once again serves to accomplish nothing particularly compelling.

After the Match: Cena might be the winner, but he's also easy pickin's for a still-fresh Chris Jericho. Jericho attacks from behind, and takes Cena out to ringside, where the beating continues. Jericho finally takes a camera and whacks Cena in the face with it. Cena comes up bleeding, and Jericho tosses him back into the ring for a few finishing touches. This leads up to Jericho locking in the Walls of Jericho, while Eric Bischoff gets up in Cena's bloody face and talks trash about how his title reign is going to come to an end at SummerSlam. Jericho finally releases Cena, leaving him in a heap in the ring, and then goes to grab the WWE Title belt.... Jericho takes it with him and fondles it lovingly as he and Bischoff retreat in triumph. I hate to harp on this, but is anyone else getting mildly put-out by the fact that the last two weeks, it's sure as hell seemed like the real feud is BISCHOFF vs. Cena and not JERICHO vs. Cena? And Jericho's just this month's hired gun... not how I'd have handled it. Not how I'd have handled it at all. But for the second week in a row, that *is* your final vibe as they fade to black.

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE RAW RECAP ARCHIVES


  
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