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Raw is pOO 
October 25, 2005

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


A funny thing happened on the way to the DVR recording of RAW...
Much as last week, I didn't bother watching the show in real time, instead spending primetime on other programming and saving RAW back for a quick, pre-bed viewing. Possibly with the aid of the FF button, if need be.

And just like last week, I got a Word of Warning about the show. Last week, it was Erin who took the time to tell me

to brace myself for a sucky RAW. This week, a quick online session before I threw on RAW (I had to check the stats for the football game, since for Fantasy Reasons, it essentially was an Algernon Crumpler vs. Lavernius Coles one-on-one match; and dammit, Coles won, and my 2 point lead heading into the game turned into a one point loss for the week) resulted in TWO words of warnings. My e-mail check a little after midnight revealed the usual level of chatter, but also two notes from Trusted OO Personalities. Both Sledge (sometimes fill-in recapper) and the Hosehead (new SD! precapper) had taken the time to write in and tell me that not only did RAW suck, but that it might be the worst RAW ever and that I should have a field day in the RAW Recap.

Unlike last week, when Erin's ominous words actually lowered my expectations enough that I could wring a bit of enjoyment out of a mostly-mediocre RAW, not even a pair of incredibly critical e-mails could prepare me for what lay ahead. I fielded those e-mails and headed for the couch, thinking I'd get a repeat of the week before. Alas: this time WWE lived down to every shred of criticism, and turned out a show that really was a load of crap.

Even with lowered expectations, I was still massively un-entertained by just about every single segment on last night's show. When JBL turns out to be a saving grace, you know a show's got serious problems and that somebody's not doing their job if some of this other crap is being allowed to make it to air.

As for having a field day with the Recap? I dunno. Part of me doesn't even want to justify last night's show with my usual level ov verbosity and venom. Because remember, in "WWE Think," any publicity is good publicity. To them, if we're talking about it, then they did something right. After last week, when they put on a show remarkably devoid of Suck but ratings still went down, you just know that all WWE cared about last night was doing something so "shocking" that fans would be rushing to their keyboards to talk about it, which would make the millions of lapsed fans wonder what they missed out on.

Unfortunately, what "WWE Think" doesn't take into account is that even if those lapsed fans are interested enough to check out what's got so many vaginas well-sanded, what they'll see will still suck out loud, and they won't be sticking around.

So I'm not quite sanguine on giving WWE the satisfaction of knowing they bunched my panties. They'll consider that a "win" for them. But I'm also resolute that you people deserve a recap that doesn't just crush the hell out of any other recaps out there, but which also bests RAW itself in terms of overall entertainment value.

We'll have to see how those two diametrically opposed tendencies work out here as I move on to explaining exactly what happened last night on RAW....

Video Package: Shawn Michaels, Big Show, and Kane qualified for a possible Taboo Tuesday title shot.

Shawn Michaels vs. Big Show vs. Kane (Very Special "Cold Open" Match)

We cut straight from the video package to Michaels' entrance. No opening theme/music/pyro, no live from wherever the hell they were live from (note: I know it was Fresno, but I also don't care, and neither should you). Just direct to the rasslin'... which almost had me wondering what all the "worst RAW ever" fuss was about, if this is how we're starting out.

Note: Kane blows his corner pyro during his entrance. So he's not winning.

As promising as it might have been that the show went straight to the wrestling, they wasted little time getting on my nerves with the Crappy Announcing. First, they kept trying to sell this three way match as some kind of dream match. In what incredibly lazy and original man's dreams does THIS match appear? Then, they kept harping on how the winner of this match is who the fans should probably vote for to get the Taboo Tuesday title match (telegraph much?)... and finally, Coach was just deadset on doing all these things instead of keeping his verbiage focused on the minor detail of explaining what was going on in the ring. But as I did last week, I'll try to keep my griping on that front limited, and get on to being the guy who actually remembers to explain to you what went on in the ring...

In this case, the match started out with Big Show fairly well dominating Michaels and then out slobberknockering Kane... this sort of forced Kane and HBK into a marriage of convenience, and together, they managed to fell the giant. But once Show was outside the ring, regrouping, you know that there's nothing to do except to have Michaels and Kane go at it for a bit. And once again, Michaels gets the short end of the stick. 

Finally, it's Big Show who (kinda) makes the save by yanking Kane out of the ring and throwing him into the ringside barricade. But no rest for the weary, as Michaels is then instantly targeted by a rejuvenated Big Show. In fact, after a few moments, Show just hoists Shawn up and gorilla slams him down onto Kane. And with that big spot, I hope that 90% of the viewing audience was sharp enough to realize that within 10 seconds, they'd be subjected to....


Back, and we're working a Big Show/Kane segment, as Michaels is still outside the ring selling the midget-toss from before the break. Big Show is getting the better of it for a bit, but when he puts Kane down for a second, that's when Michaels manages to get back into the ring to attempt a rally. He immediately skips ahead to the Flying Burrito (Coach: does NOT call it the Flying Burrito this week, but I don't know if that's because he was too busy blathering on about something else, or if it's cuz we're broken up), which in a nice Attention To Detail Moment, has no effect on Show. So when Shawn nips up, expecting to continue on with his offensive flurry, he finds a still-standing giant who has just been angered.

That? Is a recipe for Shawn to get his ass kicked and powder out again. So we're back to slobberknockery with Show and Kane. Some of it was very bad (an attempted backdrop by Kane looked awful), but some of it was pretty impressive (a second-rope superplex by Big Show). After the superplex, both men were down, and Michaels had recovered enough to try to capitalize... he went up top and hit Big Show with the Macho Man Elbow. And in this case, the "Macho Man Elbow" moniker is even more apt than usual, as (just like a memorably awful Hogan/Savage WCW match, circa 1996), the elbow had magical reviving powers. After Show took the elbow, he went from motionless on his back to immediately getting to his feet. Huh.

The reason Show got to his feet was so he could eat the Sweet Chin Music. However, before Michaels could make a cover, he was predictably enough wiped out by Kane. Another minute or two of resting at ringside for you, HBK. Kane tries to take advantage of the Superkicked Big Show, but all his pinfall attempts fail. Show just wont' stay down. So Kane gets frustrated and goes out to ringside to get a steel chair. Actually, he gets four of them and throws them into the ring. And while the ref is futzing around trying to collect the first three, he turns his back to Kane, who then uses the fourth to paste Big Show in the skull.

But instead of making the cover, Kane goes up top, apparently with the intent to hit his big clothesline. But instead, when he comes down, he is intercepted by Shawn Michaels, who attempts to superkick Kane, but appeared to whiff completely. Kane is many things, but possessing the precision of Shelton Benjamin (who did essentially the same "off-the-top-rope-and-eat-a-superkick" spot to perfection a few months ago on RAW) is none of them. But Kane has to sell it anyway, and he powders out. Michaels, meantime, notices that Show has just lumbered to his feet, and nails him with a second superkick (to go with the chairshot). The 1-2-3 is academic at that point....

Your Winner: Shawn Michaels, via pinfall, after about 10 minutes. I don't really see why they felt the need to put Michaels over here; he's a shoe-in to win the fan voting anyway, and I don't like the feeling that WWE is claiming a "fully interactive PPV," but then also telling us who and what to vote for. The Kane chairshot on Show certainly sets up an interesting dynamic between them when they are shunted into the Partners Of Convenience tag title match at Taboo Tuesday, but it might have had even more impact if Kane's chairshot actually gave him the win over Big Show, instead of having it buried in the middle of the closing sequence.... the match certainly didn't suck, but it got disjointed at times and was sloppier than you might expect, and I also really just think they went with a finish that failed to capitalize on a few interesting opportunities with Show/Kane.

Two Great Sucks That Suck Great Together: Are you shitting me? A full 4 minutes of John Cena *and* NASCAR joining forces to form a Voltron Of Lame? It's almost like WWE is going out of their way to formulate the perfect combination of things I find laughable so as to overload my Snark Circuit, and render me broken and unable to properly mock the shittiness of their product ever again. First observation: Cena made the night's first reference to poop here, as he claimed he just crapped his pants. Second observation: how is John Cena acting like a giant scared-y cat as he gets driven around in a stock car supposed to endear him to anyone? Either he was genuinely frightened or he was just trying to "put over" NASCAR as some sort of impressive sport to only be attempted by highly skilled rednecks... and neither of those two alternatives is particularly flattering; one makes him a pussy, the other just makes him demonstrably wrong. Third observation: who's bright idea was it to send the upper-middle-class wigger from the northeast to a NASCAR race? Cuz that's not just a marriage of two things that deeply annoy me, it's a marriage of two things that should deeply annoy each other. I mean, go ahead and send Cena to a Limp Bizkit concert... but I think Trevor Murdoch would be more NASCAR's speed. Or better yet: Bob Holly. This was just a lose/lose/lose scenario... WWE and NASCAR both lose from the Attempted Cross Promotion aspect. And we fans lose because for some reason, WWE decided that this four minutes of pointless drivel was worth putting on in primetime.


Announcer Drama, Part One: Coach and Lawler are sitting at the commentary desk, talking about Taboo Tuesday. Lawler gets annoyed at Coach's big talk, and decides to get on the house mic to narrate a few clips of last week when Austin humiliated Coach. Then Lawler runs down the stipulations for the Taboo Tuesday match, and the fans boo the shit out of "verbal debate" and "arm wrestling," and cheer for a street fight. Duh, that's exactly what I said would happen yesterday in the column. Coach finally gets annoyed with the fans cheering for his physical decimation, and grabs the mic away from Lawler, declaring that he's not scared of Austin, and in fact, he's going down to the ring right now to call Austin out. Play Coach's music, and he starts walking down the aisle.... and that (I shit you not) is the entire segment. Four minutes of soul-crushingly pointlessness, capped off by the "tease" of Coach heading to the ring... why do I have visions of this attempted tease actually causing more people to flip away than to stay tuned?


Announcer Drama, Part Two: Electric Boogaloo

Coach is in the ring, and wastes no time pulling an Orton. He declares he'll only give Austin "three minutes" to come to the ring, and then starts counting. Unless Coach was prepared to count to 180, methinks Coach had a mild brainfart, there. Luckily, the gods of temporal measurement smiled upon us, and Coach only got as far as "2" when he was interrupted by a *KEE-RASH*...

A camera backstage picks up a black pick-up truck racing through the bowels of the building, and eventually into the arena. Then the truck parks, and up through the sun roof pop Stephanie McMahon's boobs. It was all a trick, you see! Steph taunts the fans with a few beers and a Stone Cold baseball hat, and makes her way to the ring, where Coach congratulates her on "almost" fooling Coach, and where Steph congratulates Coach on an Emmy-worthy job of acting scared.

They say their ploy also fooled the fans, as Austin won't be here tonight. Boo. Coach says that his offer still stands for next week, though, and he'll call out Austin again, if he's got the balls to show up. Boo. Steph says that's the kind of attitude that makes Coach the best lead announcer in the history of RAW, and also half-asses a "we're so happy JR had successful colon surgery" line, just in case we weren't picking up on the subtle nuance. Somewhere in here, the fans start up a "slut" chant, which prompts Steph to declare her "disappointment" in us for not being more original. I'm sure, in her head, this was somehow a veiled shot at fans who have been lobbing the same criticisms at the WWE product for the past 18 months, but in this case: I'm on her side. That would have been a perfect chance for Fresno to respond to claims of unoriginality with a "She's a Tranny *clap* *clap* *clapclapclap*" chant... oh well, maybe next week Austin will remind us again of the large nature of Steph's balls, and a more cosmopolitan LA crowd will get that started...

At this point, Steph just starts rambling about things that had absolutely nothing to do with anything, like how her dad is working out and getting all huge and stuff. I honestly had no idea where she was going with it, and apparently, she didn't either, since it was all just leading up to an interruption... from Mick Foley?

Whatever. Anything to shut her up and get us back on something resembling the tracks, I guess... so Foley heads to the ring, and Coach quietly powders out, his involvement in this series of unrelated events thus concluded.

Steph immediately wants to know why Mick's out here, because he's not supposed to be here until the main event (which Mick is referee'ing). Mick says it's because he had reached his limit for listening to somebody who is "full of crap." Steph, Mistress of Writer-y Foreshadowing that she is, turns that into a joke about how it was Jim Ross who was full of crap, but that's not a problem anymore. Oy.

Mick goes on to air additional grievances, saying that he and Steph have never seen eye to eye, and that he's never really seen eye to eye with the entire McMahon family (he even gets the crowd to call Vince an Asshole). Except for Linda, who he always thought was the sane one, the one with good business sense. And now that she's gone over to the dark side, Mick doesn't know what to do, but he knows he can't stand around and watch as Steph and her family destroy the business that Mick loves.

Steph feigns crying at Mick's heartfelt words, but then flips a switch and says Mick needs to shut up and realize that without her and her family there would be no business that Mick loves. Ugh, and again, my "she's so proud of herself for sneaking in a shoot comment" detector goes off. Just remember the Wisdom of Costanza, people: it's not a lie if you believe it. Methinks Steph would probably pass a polygraph as a result.

And then, just to make my brain hurt even worse, Steph says that if Mick wants to talk so big, maybe he should do it towards his Taboo Tuesday opponent. And instantly, Carlito Cool's music fires up. Because it makes PERFECT sense that Steph would be surprised by Mick's unscheduled appearance but still have a Secret Plan Involving Carlito all ready to go. Does nobody proof read the TV formats before they get approved anymore? Or does nobody give a shit about logic and temporal causation anymore?

Anyway: Carlito starts towards the ring, Mick turns to watch, and Mick gets kicked in the sac from behind by Steph. This allows Carlito to follow-up with some additional testicle-related offense, and then spit an apple in Mick's face. BOO~!

So, from Coach calling out Steve Austin to Carlito spitting in the face of Mick Foley, all in one segment. I bet somewhere the Hollywood Writer Monkeys are proud of themselves and how all their classroom learning allowed them to create such a textbook set of lazy segues. Because creating seamless transitions is easy if you don't care if they make any sense or not! I guess maybe somewhere there are middle schoolers or house plants who enjoyed this segment purely on a surface level... but the second you stop and ponder "why is this happening?" the whole thing falls apart and turns into an over-written, under-thought-out brain teaser.


Backstage: Mick is sitting with a trainer, basically holding his wounded balls while the trainer tries to make soothing noises. Cuz really, what else is he gonna do? For some reason, Eric Bischoff decides to waltz in and taunt Mick, reminding him that he needs to suck it up because he's still the referee in tonight's main event. And that was it. That's all he said. Can someone tell me what this was supposed to accomplish or add to the show?

Triple H vs. Viscera (Very Special "Will Not Happen" Match)

Viscera's already in the ring. Triple H's music starts, and he begins his way down to the ring. But halfway there, Trips is pearl harbored by Ric Flair. The two brawl around ringside for 3 minutes or so until officials finally break them up. Viscera is never seen nor heard from this entire time.

Your Winner: the fans, as we were not subjected to an utterly pointless HHH vs. Viscera match.

After the Non-Match: HHH was corralled up the aisle, but Flair broke loose from officials to get in the ring, where he got a house mic and demanded that the fans give him a cage match at Taboo Tuesday. Goddammit, WWE, if you don't want to do an interactive PPV, then just don't do one. But don't say you're doing one and then try to brainwash the fans into voting the way you want them to. "Cage Match" is actually the one of the three options here that I find LEAST interesting or promising, but you're just gonna push it through anyway, aren't you?

Backstage: JBL's limo pulls up to the building. What ever is he here for? We'll find out after these...


JBL's Becomes The Rick's Favorite Wrestler 
(for About 90 Seconds)

After showing footage of Edge and Chris F. Masters interrupting a JBL/Mysterio match on SD! last week, we cut to the ring to find Edge and Masters (with Lita) standing by. Edge handles the talking, and directs his comments towards JBL, who is watching on -- Wizard of Oz-like -- from the TitanTron.

Edge says he's sure JBL's pissed about last Friday's SD!, and says that the reason he speared Rey instead of JBL is because Rey's the bigger star of the two, and going after Rey made a bigger impact on SD! than if he'd gone after lowly JBL. It's funny because it's true. Then Edge says JBL might get his wish for Officially Sanctioned Revenge, because at Taboo Tuesday, Edge and Masters will team up to take on 2 SD! (pause for effect) "super"stars.

Edge and Masters then take a break to run down the list of 5 SD! stars fans will be able to choose from, roasting each one along the way. Not surprisingly, Edge's zingers are funny, while Masters' fall flatter than the Nebraska landscape. A fer-instance: when roasting Matt Hardy, Edge notes that if only Matt can get all his little Mattciples who read his website to vote for him.... HE'LL STILL FINISH FOURTH IN THE VOTING! Meantime, when Chris F. Masters gets a chance to mock Rey Mysterio, the best he can come up with is "At least San Diego is your hometown, so it'll be a short ride home from the hospital once I get done with you." Lita actually bails the poor moron out on that one, piling on with "And it's nice to see that Rey inspired SD!'s new midget division, too." Christian also gets some quality roasting from his TV Brother, while Bob Holly is subjected to accusations of homosexuality by Chris F. Masters (which is met with dead silence from the crowd, who is confused as to which is the pot and which is the kettle).

Then it's JBL's turn, and Masters tries to start. But sparkling intellect and creative genius that he is, he only gets as far as saying "JBL, the leader of SmackDown! I guess that makes you Mr. SmackDown!? Or should I say Mr. SUCKDown?" before JBL cuts him off. Because if feuding with John Cena taught JBL anything, it's that nobody likes to listen to the attempted trashtalk of somebody with a seventh grader's grasp on tauntery. JBL insists that Masters should do the English Language a favor and just shut the hell up. Then he makes fun of Masters' tendency to come off like a marble-mouthed mumbler. Then he starts noting Masters' resemblance to various members of the primate family. JBL finally settles on "Monkey Boy" as his favorite taunt of Masters, and uses it to goad Masters into coming out to the parking lot to confront JBL.

Cameras follow CFM out to visit with JBL, but as soon as Masters gets there, JBL declares that "You just fell for the oldest trick in the book, moron." JBL hopped in his limo and took off, while Masters did what comes natural, and stood around with a dumb look on his face. God bless you, just for this one night, John Bradshaw Layfield.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Edge and Lita were watching this on the TitanTron, and are equally confused.... until Rey Mysterio attacks from behind. He takes out Edge with a springboard dropkick, and then nails Lita with a (619)... and then scurries off through the crowd before Edge can recover and chase him down. Coach and King treat Rey like a heel, but the fans say otherwise.

Well folks: this was it, the only halfway-decent segment on all of RAW. I could have gone for about 90% less Masters (and from the crowd reaction, I continue to be in vast majority on this issue), and I'm not exactly keen on the fact that they are clearly telling us we should vote for JBL and Rey Mysterio (especially when it'd make a lot more sense -- and NOT give me nightmares of a possible Attempted JBL Face Turn -- if you let it be Rey and Matt taking on Edge and Masters). But this was still as good as it got last night...


Mickie James vs. Victoria (Very Special "I Can't Think Of A Snarky Byline" Match)

Again, the Missed Opportunity Meter is maxing out here, as we've done absolutely NOTHING, storywise, to give fans a reason to care about or believe in Mickie's character or why she's suddenly buddies with Trish and Ashley (despite Trish and Ashley being more annoyed with her than friendly with her in their single televised skit together). But whatever: the McMahons have spoken, and determined that we'd rather watch four minutes of John Cena being scared shitless of driving around in circles than watch potential character and storyline development in the women's division. And you know those McMahons.... they know what we want better than we do.

During the ring entrances, two things occur to me: first, they've got Torrie Wilson illustrating the "Lingerie" option for the Taboo Tuesday battle royale, and Boobies McTitsalot is in her best TV-PG Dominatrix gear to showcase the "Leather" option. No love for the Cheerleader option? Of course not, because it's the only one I'd bother voting for, were I the type who'd vote on such stupidity. C'mon people: when faced with chicks who'll look pretty much equally hot no matter how you dress 'em, let's just pick the option that doesn't involve ridiculous footwear; you can actually do wrestling moves in sneakers. Who's with me, dammit? Second observation: the flashed the battle royale graphic up on the screen at one point, and there were SEVEN faces on it, instead of six. Don't tell me they're roping poor Lillian Garcia into this, too? I was too lazy and too un-entertained to bother rewinding, but who else could it be?

Match is really no great shakes. It's a lot of Victoria over-powering Mickie, and Mickie's hope spots being limited to a lot of punching and kicking. And also at least one Benoit-caliber chop that I remember. This goes on for about three minutes, and then we head for home. Mickie finally sustains the advantage for longer than 20 seconds, and manages to pull off a nice head scissors takedown. But when she tries to follow up, she's tripped up by Torrie Wilson. 

Victoria tries to take advantage by hitting a suplex, but Mickie instead reverses into a small package. Torrie and Boobies decide to make themselves useful, one distracting the ref, the other flipping over Victoria and Mickie so that Victoria's on top. But what's good for the goose is good for the other goose, too, so Trishley leap into action, re-reversing the pinfall so that Mickie's on top. The ref finally gets things sorted out, and makes the three count.

Your Winner: Mickie James, via pinfall, in about 4 minutes. Pretty basic stuff. And again, I know it paints me as the stereotypical Internet Jackoff, but I can't stop myself from pointing out that we're now 75 minutes into the show, and this was our second match.

After the Match: the heels tried attacking, but were easily repelled by the babyfaces, as the babyfaces (while still managing to all look quite tasty) were not ridiculously attired in outfits that are clearly not made for fighting. Or doing much of anything else, either, besides possibly "posing for Playboy."


Not In A Million Years Theatre

Vince McMahon hits the ring. He makes a number of unfunny jokes about JR's surgery. He pretends to get serious, and says that just like all other WWE superstars undergoing surgery, JR had cameras present at his procedure. So Vince would like to roll the footage.

They do. It involves Vince playing a doctor, some anonymous blonde bimbo playing his nurse, and a mannequin playing Jim Ross. Vince proceeds to pull countless objects out of the mannequin's butt. The excruciatingly unfunny nonsense lasts almost a full 10 minutes until they get to the part where Vince pulls JR's head out of his ass. Ha? Then Vince has sex with the nurse.

Back in the ring, Vince tries to pretend the low-level grumbling of the annoyed audience is vociferous boos, and acts like he's just done the most vile heelish thing ever. He declares that based on this "reaction," JR's condition is contagious, and that all the fans have their own head's up their asses. Said the man who is in charge of the company that has been wearing its own collective ass as a collective hat for nearly a year-and-a-half now. Oh, the ironing.

And anyway, so that's how I just distilled down 15-plus minutes of TV into 3 paragraphs. Because you deserve to know what happened, but WWE doesn't deserve for it to become a federal case. The worst and meanest thing I can say about this segment is nothing. Because then, if we pretend it never happened, maybe it'll just go away and WWE won't get their precious cheap controversy and publicity.


Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch vs. Hurricane and Rosey (Very Special "Sort-of-But-Not-Really" Match)

The tag champs are already in the ring, but when the challengers are set to enter, Rosey is alone. I gather this is because of something that happened during a commercial break last week, but they don't even have a clip of it... which blows my freaking mind, since I'd guess the percentage of viewers who are doing the "WWE Unlimited" thing is probably less than 2 percent of the audience, and the other 98% of us could use a little help. Because as good an idea as "WWE Unlimited" is (remember: I thought of it a year ago, so OF COURSE I think it's a swell idea), it's gonna be a hard sell to anybody except your most lemming-like of fan. Until you can fill up your 90 minutes worth of Actual TV Time with entertaining goodness, what the hell right does WWE have to think that they can impose on fans to go out of their way to pay attention for the extra 30 minutes of commercial time?

So anyway, Rosey's going it alone, and the going isn't going well. He quickly finds himself on the short end of a 2-on-1 beating. A minute or so in, Gregory Helms -- you once knew him as the Hurricane -- comes out on the stage to watch his partner get his ass kicked. Judging by his appearance, Helms' new superpower is Flaming Metrosexuality.

Rosey gets the requisite fire-up about 3 minutes in, but he's still one man facing two, so that gets short-circuited pretty quickly. Murdoch and Cade set him up for what I guess is now their finisher: Cade delivers a lariat while Murdoch sweeps the legs. Coach says it should be called the "Sweet and Sour," which I officially declare to be dumb as hell. What are two hard drinking rednecks doing naming a finisher after #17 on the China Express' menu?

Your Winners: Cade and Murdoch, via pinfall, in about four minutes. Nothing here besides an exceptionally bland, simplistic match which served as a backdrop for them to introduce the storyline of Helms abandoning his partner in favor of a Queer Eye make-over. Which I'd say might be a good thing, considering how talented and under-utilized Helms is.... but really: after a feud with Rosey, where the hell do you think he goes from there? Maybe the Hurricane was always gonna be a niche wrestler, but he'd also always be distinctive and have that niche all to himself. Now, Helms is in danger of being Just Another Anonymous Guy... in the hands of the current team of Creative Monkeys, I might have opted for the security of sticking with a silly superhero gimmick, rather than taking the chance of letting them "re-invent" me. I'm not joking; look at all the great work they've done for Rob Conway. Or Sylvain Grenier. Or Chavo Guerrero. But I guess Shane Helms is feelin' lucky....


SmackDown! Rebound: I don't recap recaps.

John Cena vs. Kurt Angle (Very Special "Presumably Not A Title Match" Match)

Ref Foley enters first, and at least seems to have had most of his sac pain go away. Angle enters second. Then Cena. Almost immediately, the fun begins: Cena did NOT have a good week with the live audience. His cheers are even more squealy then usual, he's getting about 25% boos for everything, and within the first 2 minutes of the match, "Let's Go Angle" chants begin and are so loud that Coach even has to acknowledge them and try to figure out some way to justify them. The voices in the headsets apparently tell him to say, "Even if our fans don't like Kurt Angle, they all respect him and his Olympic credentials." Nice try, but you don't chant for a guy you only grudgingly "respect."

But hey, what do we know? We're only the fans, and the McMahons know better than us what we really like. And until further notice, we all just love the hell out of Homey the Clown. ALL of us. Not just the adolescent wiggers and the lonely fangirls with pitably poor taste in guys. Got it? Get your heads out of your asses and start behaving, you stupid fans!

Pretty simple back and forthy to start, as Angle mostly controls the mat wrestling exchanges. But then things pick up a bit of pace, as Cena changes gears and says "to hell with chain wrestling." He goes a bit more high impact with moves like his Spazoid Hip Toss of Extreme Wackiness. He strings together about 4-5 of these moves, to the apparent delight of female fans everywhere, culminating in clotheslining Kurt out over the top rope. Angle's down, Cena's in the ring marinating in a mixture of 75% squeals and 25% boos, and we've had ourselves a full 2-and-a-half minutes of action so clearly it's time for....


Back and somehow (perhaps because formula dictates it) Angle has magically taken over on offense. No explanation is proffered. Probably because if they keep it mysterious, they think they'll drive people to watch "Unlimited" on WWE.com. Guess again, dum dums. We don't care that much...

Angle takes it outside for a bit of brawling and face gouging and what-not. For the first time all match, Ref Foley becomes a factor, as he has to aggressively threaten Angle with sanctions if he doesn't wrestle clean. Angle finally relents and takes it back into the ring, where he still keeps it mostly brawlish, since that's what plays to Cena's strengths. I don't remember anything much more complicated than a bodyslam this entire sequence, and there was no real psychological focus on a single bodypart or anything like that, either. It all builds up to.... awww, crap, Kurt, not the body scissors? All the convincing legitimacy of a bearhug combined with the visual excitement of both guys getting to lay down and take a rest!

Cena, per the formula, fires up out of this, and seems about to go on a tear... except that Angle still has another gear, and decides to leave the brawly stuff behind and introduce Cena to Mr. Suplex. Angle cuts Cena's rally short with a belly-to-belly, and then over the course of the next few minutes, rips off 3-4 others, all getting only 2 counts, which seems to be getting under Angle's skin, as his griping to Ref Foley is growing more animated. But through it all, Angle remains in command, until he decides to settle in with.... what's that? An inverted, sitting bearhug? Essentially a waistlock, but on the mat? Is Kurt TRYING to give us the wrestling industry's most varied array of visually unimpressive holds, or is this all just by accident?

Again Cena finds the ability to power out of a resthold, and this time when he starts a rally, he MEANS IT! After breaking out of the waistlock, Cena manages to nail Angle with a DDT. Both men are down, and Foley applies the double count. Both men get up at 8, and start trading punches. Cena gets the better of the exchange, and finally seems to be taking control of the match. He hits a few bit moves, gets a couple of near falls... but Angle's tenacious and won't stay down. 

As Cena's offensive continues, though, we get an unexpected visitor: Carlito Cool comes down to the ring, and is immediately confronted by Ref Foley. The actual match takes a back seat for a while as Carlito and Foley end up brawling at ringside. After a minute or so of this, Carlito fortuitously dodges a charge, and Foley eats steel ringpost. Carlito follows up with a neckbreaker on the floor, and you can pretty much count Foley out after that, I guess. Were it a match, Mick would kick out at 2, but you know how those referee shirts are: as soon as you put on one, you become a pansy and the effects of all offensive moves is magnified by an order of magnitude if you take a bump. Mick is not one to violate this sacred tenet of pro wrestling.

Back in the ring, Cena seems to be finishing up Angle. Five Knuckle Shuffle, and it's looking like time for the F-U.... when a replacement referee arrives. It's Eric Bischoff. He immediately chop blocks Cena to put an end to the F-U, and then starts making quick counts for Angle. But quick as the counts may be, Cena won't stay down.

Angle's assisted offensive finally results in an anklelock. Cena fights it for a good minute or so, and is reaching for the ropes... but just before he can get there, Evil Eric takes Cena's outstretched hand and slams it to the mat. This is then interpreted as a "tap out," and Bischoff demands the the bell be rung. Seconds later, Cena powers out of the anklelock, but the "referee" has spoken and the match is over.

Your Winner: Kurt Angle, via dubious submission, in about 15 minutes. Pretty much the standard match that these two could have with each other, with my wondering why the hell they even bothered hyping Foley as the guest ref. He served no purpose here whatsoever. I also found the finish to be quite uninspired and unsatisfying. And I think most fans would be in the same boat. The percentage of fans who really like Cena will be unsatisfied cuz their homey got screwed; the percentage of fans who like Angle will be unsatisfied because this was a return of the July/August crap-a-thon where Bischoff's non-stop nonsensical involvement in Cena's business turned Chris Jericho into a lame duck of a challenger. But after a night's worth of segments that left me muttering "There are about a billion better ways to have handled that," I guess it's fitting that the main event leave that exact same taste in my mouth, too. 


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