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Call the CDC: McMahon-a-Mania is
Running Wild 
March 21, 2006

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


So... how'd everybody out there celebrate the Vernal Equinox? Lots of drug-augmented outdoor pagan rituals assisted by all manner of Henges (stone or otherwise?), I hope. 
Not so around here, where TV people were wetting themselves because snow moved in last night, and by the time it gets done around dusk tonight, they say we'll have gotten a good six inches. Of course, it's been plenty warm lately that there's absolutely no chance of the snow sticking on roadways or causing any sort of 

serious trouble.... but OMG IT'S SPRING AND WE HAVE SIX INCHES OF SNOW COMING. Although a glance out my window looks more like 2 inches, with light flurries that don't exactly put the fear of god into me adding nothing to that tally, this is still apparently a sign of the apocalypse.

But enough about that... there was a wrestling show on TV last night. And before I get on to talking about it, I'd like to tell you a quick story.

It's the story of a wrestling promotion that had its first big chance at primetime network TV in about 13 years just a few nights ago. A promotion that was expecting to draw a 5.0-or-higher rating for that special, in order to jumpstart mainstream momentum for their biggest pay-per-view of the year. In fact, internally, the company made an Extra Special Effort to make-sure their follow up show on the next Monday Night would be a super-duper exciting show that fans would love. You see, they figured that the extra fans who tuned in on Saturday night might then show up on Monday, and they wanted to make sure those fans got treated right and would continue coming back for more. Done right, this could result in Mondays' TV ratings brushing up against 5.0, as well, as the Biggest PPV Of The Year neared.

It sure sounds like a happy story, doesn't it, kids? It wouldn't just warm the cockles of stockholders who like hearing that their company might be on a financial upswing, but it's even a little bit exciting for us fans, who might begin anticipating a creative upswing... what a fantastical tale!

But then, as they are wont to do, sanity and reality prevailed.

The primetime network TV special did a meager 3.2 rating (ironically, fewer viewers than watch a standard episode of the Monday night program), negating any "mainstream momentum." And then, in the final ultimate sac punch to fans, it turned out that WWE's internal efforts to make Monday's follow-up show Extra Special and Entertaining actually turned out THIS way, indicating a likely Institutional Ignorance of what constitutes "extra effort" or "entertainment":

Video Package: Stuff happened on Saturday night, and only about 66% of WWE's anticipated audience bothered turning in, so as punishment, you get an extra long recap. Unless you're like me, and have the benefit of a one-hour DVR Time Shift. FF~!

Opening Theme/Pyro/Etc., and we're live in.... uh oh, Memphis, TN. Normally, that's an open invitation to make a snarky joke about how we'd best brace for Jerry Lawler getting hauled up into the ring to do something stupid. But this *is* the Road to WM, and not even WWE can be *that* stupid with managing their precious time, and trying to stay focused on the more important matters at hand. Can they? We'll just have to stay tuned and find out...

Interstate 666, or "I Hear Hell is Lovely This Time of Year"

The Spirit Squad is in the ring, and waste no time gaying their way to a Very Special Introduction of Vince and Shane McMahon.

And then the McMahons come down to the ring, accompanied not by their usual theme music, but by a Dixieland Quartet playing "When the Saints Come Marching In." Huh? I know Memphis has a proud history of live music and all, but a fruity Dixieland Quartet? Wouldn't that be more appropriate geographically proximate to the Gulf Coast or the banks of the Mighty Mississippi? Or more temporally proximate to Mardi Gras, at least? Then again, I guess some bona fide, kick ass blues wouldn't make for a very festive introduction for the McMahons, eh? 

And festive it is, complete with balloons and confetti. Whee. Not to mention that Vince takes advantage of the parade-like atmosphere to up his normal Silly Walk into a bona fide laugh-out-loud-stupid-looking Silly March. Anybody else gonna have even more trouble taking Vince McMahon seriously as an intimidating, imposing serious heel after seeing that display last night? It's not just John Cena whose character is really hurt by the re-cartoonization of WWE, if you ask me....

Anyway: Vince opens by congratulating his son for his big win over Shawn Michaels at Saturday Night's Main Event, and then Shane himself says a few gloating words about the win. In true McMahon fashion, this 30 second concept is presented in 5 minute form, and some of the initial heat (including "Asshole" chants for Shane) is sapped as the fans quit hating the McMahons and started being annoyed that they couldn't just get to the fucking point.

Shane closes his ramble by saying that HBK's losing streak to the McMahons will continue "at my father's greatest creation of all time." Which causes Vince to interrupt and say "WrestleMania isn't my greatest creation, Shane. You and your sister Stephanie are." Punctuate with a cheesy hug, and I think that was supposed to be a monster heel heat moment, but like I said: by this point, fans were more interested in getting to the punchline than suffering anymore of the McMahon's over-long, stilted monologue.

But the cheeseball family moment aside, Vince does agree with his son's basic premise that Vince will defeat Shawn Michaels at WM22. And because keeping it simple isn't in Vince's playbook, he rambles on an on about the "Highway to Hell" that he's paved for Michaels, which expands into a full spoken-word recap of everything that's gone down between Vince and HBK over the past 2 months.

Trust me, it makes no more logical sense and is no more compelling in Vince's recap form than it was to watch play out in real time. It was more just a laundry list of unconnected, random events that happened to involve the same two people. And it was also a bludgeoningly annoying constant overuse of the phrase "Highway to Hell" as Vince tried to make it sound like this has been a cohesive master plan to send Michaels to Hades, instead of a seat-of-the-pants continuity nightmare that arouse only after Plans A and B fell through.

Vince finally gets through this whole spiel, and announces he's got one more hurdle for HBK (I'm sorry: one more exit on the Highway to Hell) tonight. Michaels will face Triple H. Hey, I can get behind that. Those two have never NOT had a good-or-better match. Vince is proud of his match-making, and insists that the Dixieland Band fire up again so that they can celebrate...

But the band is interrupted by John Cena's theme music. And then by John Cena. For Cena's initial entrance, it's high pitched squeals, and the requisite 40-50% boos... but it should be noted that as the night wore on, and Cena mostly dealt with the McMahons, the boos diminished, presumably because there isn't a whole lot of love out there for the McMahons, either, so wasting energy booing Cena against them was probably deemed Not Worth The Trouble. But I'll also point out that in a few showdowns with Triple H, there were significant cheers for Trips, which is the REAL issue in play, here. One week aberration related to the McMahons? Not important. Overriding trends and Cena's popularity versus that of his WM22 opponent? Is important.

Cena's got a mic, and he's saying words, words, words... and trying to be funny and clever, but mostly coming off like a guy who sits around coming up with stupid ideas and then not taking the time to Beta Test them in front of an audience. Either that, or his beta test audience is a bunch of morons. Seriously: "Darth McMahon"? To his credit, Cena did sneak in a pretty spot-on HHH impersonation, and unlike a few weeks ago, didn't drive it into the ground. Just one quick line, and done. Kudos.

The point to all of Cena's uneven ranting: he's sick and tired of HHH dodging, ducking, dipping, diving, and dodging him. After getting Pedigreed on Saturday Night, Cena is the only person who'll be putting his hands on Triple H, Shawn Michaels be damned. So in essence: after 2 minutes of rambling, Cena's whole thing comes down to a rerun of his one and only real hit single: "ME WANTY~!"...

Shane, no fan of Petulant Brat Cena, gets a mic and points out that the McMahons call the shots around here, not Homey the Clown. Things start to get intense between Cena and Shane -- as indicated by Cena's need to remove his shirt, thus mobilizing his back-up of 13-year-old girls. But before things get physical, Vince McMahon steps in and breaks it up, claiming he's going to "save" Cena from an ass-whupping right here, right now, at the hands of his son, Shane.

Instead, he'll give Cena what he wants. Kind of. It won't be one-on-one, but in a tag match, it'll be Cena and Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H and.... [dramatic pause for no discernable reason, other than to further annoy the fans who are already three steps ahead of you, Vince]... Shane McMahon. 

Cena's placated, and Vince is again very pleased with his matchmaking.... so fire up that Dixieland Quartet again, and let's Silly March some more! Except: Shane McMahon doesn't look too pleased. He doesn't look DISpleased, mind you, but in a nice subtle touch, the look on his face is definitely along the lines of "Christ dad, I think I've done enough the past two weeks and done pretty well, and I would probably have preferred to NOT tempt fate by getting back in the ring again tonight." It's a nice touch for two reasons: one, Shane is blessed as being the only McMahon with the Babyface Gene, so you don't really know how long he'll be able to milk the heelishness. And two, if Shane's gonna miss WM22 for paternity leave, why not plant a few seeds that might explain why the Spirit Squad clearly love Vince more than his own son does? At least that option's open now, if it's needed....


Backstage: Vince is joined by both Shane and Triple H. And HHH is being significantly more vocal in his displeasure than Shane's subtle facial expressions before the break were hinting at. HHH doesn't have time for these sorts of follies this close to WM, where he plans on putting the world right again by winning the WWE Title. So if Vince is booking him into these silly matches, Vince had, by Jove, better have a plan. Vince is momentarily flustered, but collects himself to confidently promise that OF COURSE there's a plan. With Mr. McMahon, there's ALWAYS a plan. And he'll be right there with Trips and Shane tonight, so they can rest easy that everything'll be alright. And then, just to toy with the fragile little minds of the smarks, he pulls Shane and Hunter in, and calls them "all one big happy family." Which is all well and good in a winkwink nudgenudge sort of way, but until you bring Stephanie back into the mix and explain how Trips' Magical Super Sperm has already teleported her late into her third trimester (based on her TV appearance 2 weeks ago) after only 3 months, I'm not gonna linger on the red herring much, if that's OK with you folks....

Carlito Cool vs. Kane

Ahhhhh, the attempt to trick us into thinking there's a viable storyline behind WM's tag title match continues with Dueling Singles Matches! And speaking of red herrings: Kane shoots off his corner pyro BEFORE the match. That should mean he loses.... but he doesn't.

Match is a really simple affair: Kane beats the piss out of Carlito, using his superior Slobberknocking capabilities. That lasts for two minutes, until Carlito turns the tables by catching Kane coming off the top rope with a dropkick. Carlito gets a few moves in, but his only real "ooh" or "ahh" or moment of being taken seriously by the fans was after his double-knee back-cracker. For one: Carlito, to get maximum effect out of his matches, oughta have a bit of mic time to rile up the crowd. And for two: the crowd continued its decline into being less and less rowdy (after the opening 2 minutes of the McMahon thing, they really petered out; my new theory at this point is that they'd already sat through a full SD! Taping -- since it was a Super Show -- and maybe that was sapping some of the energy out of the room, too). Didn't exactly result in a great atmosphere for this quick and dirty formulaic match.

Predictably enough, Carlito's rally came up short, though. In a nice counterpoint to how Carlito took control, Kane caught Carlito coming off the top rope... after a quick triple-reverse-y deal, Kane sealed it by finally landing the chokeslam.

Your Winner: Kane, via pinfall, in about 3-4 minutes. Look up "meh" in the dictionary, and you'll find it's not in there, and you're stupid for even checking. But this match would be a pretty apt definition of that particular onomatopoeia. 


Backstage: following his loss, Carlito is confronted by his erstwhile tag team partner and trusted Dumb Muscle, Chris F. Masters. CFM is not pleased that Carlito's going out there and tanking to Kane. Come up with the third-grade-reading-level translation of "This does not bode well for our chances at WrestleMania," and you've got Masters' quote. But hey, Carlito is a proud warrior, and he's not exactly pleased with himself, either, but knows that he'll be sharp when it counts at Mania. Carlito then says, "But if you're so worried, why don't you go out there tonight and make an impact against the Big Show, huh?"... and Chris F. Masters -- displaying the sharp intellect and crisp conversational ability that makes him everybody's favorite borderline-retarded man-bimbo -- decides to completely ignore Carlito's last line and (probably because it was the scripted line handed to him, and heaven forefend that he be capable of the simplest of ad libs or basic conversational transitions) declares, "I'll tell you what, I'm gonna go out there tonight against Big Show, and I'll make an impact and show you how it's done." Whhaaaaaaa? That's the sort of awfulness that would probably even be edited out of an AJ Styles promo (where he's apt to do the same sort of unnatural, stilted, I-am-incapable-of-having-a-realistic-conversation-on-camera thing), and yet, it makes it through to air on RAW. Note to CFM: pre-tapes are your friend. And if that *was* a pre-tape, and it was your best one? You, my friend, suck even worse than I think you do. Which is a lot.

Hall of Fame Hype: This week, we add the Blackjacks (both of them, Mulligan AND Lanza) to the list of inductees. In a surefire sign that WWE has their finger on the pulse of today's fans, Bobby Heenan gets a bigger pop when he's announced as the guy inducting the Blackjacks. I mean, I'm no expert on 1970's WWWF tag wrestling or anything (and am not sure how many folks out there in my audience are, either), but just based on my reading and some tapes and stuff, doesn't it seem like the Wild Samoans were about 4 times bigger than the Blackjacks?

Ric Flair vs. Time Management

We've got a three-way IC Title match coming up, and it involves the Nature Boy... OK, that sounds promising enough. So I guess I'll stay tuned through this sudden break for....


Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair (IC Title Match)

Much is made of this being RAW's half of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WM22.... but significantly less is made of the little tease of friction between RVD and Flair last week, when Flair's assistance back-fired and cost RVD the match against Shelton. Funny, I'd have busted out a clip of that, or something, or at least mentioned it on commentary.

Instead, the early part of the match is RVD and Flair teaming up to easily get the better of Shelton... but then, when the inevitable point is reached where RVD and/or Flair want to go for near falls and the other of RVD and/or Flair has to break it up, they STILL didn't mention the previous week's tension. They just sold it as each man wanting the IC Title for himself (which makes perfect sense, but if there's another layer of storytelling available to you, why not use it?).

Flair and RVD continue their tenuous alliance as long as they can, but eventually Shelton's so beat up that they pretty much just toss him out of the ring, and have to deal with each other. After some quick kicky-choppy, Van Dam easily takes command. It all builds up to him hitting Rolling Thunder, and going for a near fall. But Shelton has finally recovered enough to yank Flair out of the ring to prevent the pinfall.

Bad idea. As Flair and Shelton regroup at ringside, RVD gets a running start and takes both men out with a somersault plancha. All three men down, now, so let's break for....


Back, and we see Shelton working over Flair, while RVD is laid out in the ring. Both Flair and RVD are bleeding, and replays show that it's because on RVD's plancha, he and Flair cracked heads. Ouch.

And it appears that now is the time on Sprockets when Shelton dominates. Once he's done kicking Flair's ass out at ringside, he gets in the ring and kicks RVD's ass for a bit. Flair comes in and tries to make a save, but that amounts to a 30 second hope spot, as Shelton drops him with a suplex, turns his attention back to Shelton long enough to erase him for the equation (by tossing him into the steel ringpost), and then goes back to beating on Flair for several minutes.

Finally, Van Dam recovers, and when HE tries to make the save, it sticks. As Flair slouches in a corner, RVD goes to town on Shelton, putting Shelton on the defensive for the first time since the opening stages of the match. This goes on for a few minutes.... or at least long enough so that when RVD decides to start going for covers, Flair is recovered enough to break them up.

For the second time, the tenuous alliance between RVD and Flair lasts long enough to toss Shelton out of the ring so he won't be a factor in the match. And for the second time, once left to fight each other, RVD pretty easily gets the better of Flair. Lots of near falls and stuff -- and for the more dramatic ones, Shelton would chime in long enough to break up the pinfall, but then get booted again -- as RVD went on a tear.

But then, RVD whiffed on a Frog Splash, and Flair IMMEDIATELY pounced with a Figure Four. Let me try out my Color Commentary Chops, here, as I point out: Flair didn't take the time to soften up the knee, so RVD was able to fight the hold longer than most men. Which is why Flair still hadn't gotten the tap-out when Shelton got back in the ring, and laid across Flair's chest. Flair's energy was still being expended in cinching in the Figure Four, and he didn't have any leverage to kick-out, and thus, Shelton got the pinfall win.

Your Winner, and STILL IC Champ: Shelton Benjamin, via pinfall, in about 10-12 minutes. Decent enough action here, though we never really got to see Shelton and RVD work together, so we don't know if they are working out the kinks or not (they were a bit awkward with each other last week). Psychology-wise, everything seemed to click, too.... except I think the finish would have made more sense if Shelton had come in and covered RVD for the pinfall. RVD was the one in peril at that point, and Flair would still not have been in any position to break the hold or the cover in three seconds. Minor gripe, though, right?


At Ringside: Members of the Memphis Grizzlies. And you know the rule: if they announce "Members of Local Sports Franchise" and don't mention anyone by name, you're being treated to Third Stringers! And Third Stringers LOVE WWE!

Video Package: Mick Foley put his face in a pile of thumbtacks, and he did it for us, at SNME. I still don't know whether to let myself get lost in the bad-assery of the moment or get sick with myself for almost liking this.

The Ancient Wisdom of Foleydamus

Foley's all business as he hits the ring.... and in True Foley Fashion, he's gonna take us on a roller coaster ride here, and he's not gonna start off with something obvious. Instead, he starts with a sincere "Thank You" to Edge.

Because, for weeks, it turns out Edge has been speaking the truth. Mick is soft, Mick is a muppet, Mick would get by with cheap pops and cheaper plugs for his latest book... but no more. It started with the night Mick tasted the one-man con-chair-to. That's what got Foley thinking about the truth of Edge's words. But it ended just two nights ago on SNME, where Mick went into a pile of thumbtacks, and tasted his own blood.

But the blood tasted different this time. No matter how many countless thousands of times Mick's tasted his own blood in his career, this time it was different. Because it wasn't blood Mick was tasting... it was Chinese Food. And it was only hours later when Mick was thirsting for more. The only catch: he didn't want to taste his own blood.... he wanted EDGE's blood. Classic Mick.

Or is it? It turns out that Foley closed by saying that what Edge has done is closed the book on wrestling Mick Foley.... he's re-awakened the monster. This isn't Classic Mick, because Foley is Gone. And in his place: Cactus Jack. See you at WrestleMania, Edgeward. BANG BANG!

Play the music.... but then interrupt the music with Edge's music. What the hell is this happy crappy?

Edge is nowhere to be seen, but Lita hits the ring, and has a few things to say. But she doesn't want to say them to Cactus Jack. She pleads for the return of the old, cuddly Mick Foley. The SENSIBLE Mick Foley.

Lita's proposition: Edge is still in Detroit, suffering from a concussion, and they've realized that if Edge and Mick keep going back and forth like they have been, their match at WM22 won't be anything memorable, because neither man will be in any shape to bring his A-Game. So Lita's here to suggest that they call off the Hardcore Match, and that Mick -- the REASONABLE, SENSIBLE Mick -- realize that his best chance to create a WrestleMania Memory is if he comes to the PPV to wrestle a clean, classic match. No thumbtacks, no barbed wire, no flaming tables. Just two proud men, and may the best one win.

But this isn't Cuddly Mick Foley. This is Cactus Jack, and Lita might as well be speaking Klingon. Her words make no real sense to Cactus, but Cactus *is* quite the ring veteran, and he thinks he might have seen this ploy before. "This is the part where I refuse your offer and you slap me, isn't it? And then Edge attacks from behind while I'm distracted? That's how this one goes, right? So why don't you slap me Lita? SLAP ME! I'm begging you, SLAP ME!"

Lita was intimidated at first, but as Cactus kept the heat on, she finally had no choice: she wound up and slapped Foley. So Mick caught her wrist and brought her to her knees. As if on cue, Edge ran in through the crowd... and as if he had mystical knowledge of the fut....well, of the present, Mick turned around, and cut off Edge's run-in. But while Mick was turned around and distracted, it appeared that we were in for a twist that his mystical foreknowledge and not presaged....

Lita got in position to uppercut Mick right in the balls.... but guess what? Foley saw that coming, too, and blocked it... and he dragged Lita to her feet. And he applied the Mandible Claw (no socko in sight, praise jesus). Edge, yellow-bellied wussbag that he is, stood three feet away at ringside, too petrified to do anything about it.

The claw was eventually released, and Edge yanked Lita out of the ring to relative safety, but this round of mindgames goes to Foley.


Victoria vs. Torrie Wilson

Victoria enters first. Torrie enters second. And then Titties McSuperbowl makes an allegedly Grand Entrance on a little elevated futon carried by four of Memphis Most-Gay Body Waxed Fruitcakes. The futon features an over-sized cover of her Playboy and lots of pillows.

The bell rings, Torrie is instantly distracted by Candice (who is throwing pillows at her). Victoria hits the Widow's Peak. FIN.

Your Winner: Victoria, via pinfall, in less than 20 seconds. Soul-sappingly dumb (it was basically just here to serve as an excuse to announce that WM22 would feature Titties vs. Torrie in a Playboy Pillow Fight), but at least it was short?

Chris F. Masters vs. My Patience

So while the women are still in and around the ring, suddenly CFM's ring entrance starts up. Because, just like Ric Flair before him, if you tease fans that he's wrestling next, Chris F. Masters will keep fans GLUED to USA Network though a break for....


Big Show vs. Chris F. Masters

Oh, if only I were Dave Meltzer and had a complete lack of understanding on temporal causality and logic/psychology so that I could wait with baited breath for quarter hour ratings to reveal whether or not CFM kept fans riveted through that ad break or not.

Match was Big Show kicking ass for about 2 minutes with a reasonable approximation of all his crowd-pleasing spots. Yes, even CFM can stand in a corner and be heinously violated with the "SHHHHH! Chops" without fucking up too badly.

Then Masters hit his one (1) offensive move of the match: Show was trying to suplex him back into the ring, and Masters countered it by yanking his head down in a hangman's type move. In honor of one of his opponent's favorite moves, Show nonsensically sold this move by sprinting across to the other side of the ring at Warp 7 and throwing himself out over the top rope.

Meantime, Masters knew that he'd pretty much peaked, so there was nowhere left to go but down. So he grabbed a steel chair, and whacked Big Show with it, blatantly, in front of the ref. Ding ding. Actually, maybe it was after that first chairshot where Show did his gravity-defying, Masters-esque Warp 7 sell-job. I'm beginning to think I confused the two spots (hey, I was making a sammich during this match). And then, after the first chairshot, CFM following up with one or two more, before leaving with a self-satisfied look on his ugly mug. 

Your Winner: Big Show, via disqualification, in about 2 minutes. Too short to suck, but if you think I'm gonna get behind any storytelling in which Carlito is sacrificed to Kane without so much as any mic time, while they try to present Masters as capable of chopping down Big Show, you don't know me at all. It just fits better if you reverse the roles: Carlito works best when he's sleazing his way to cheap advantages, and Masters is the meatbag who tries to get by on sheer physicality. The chairshot gambit works better for Team Leader and Master Tactician Carlito than it does for the Sensational Marble Mouthed Ass-Injector Boy.


WWE Does Not Know What Words Mean Theatre

As Mickie James hits the ring to her "Hey, Ricky" knock-off, I note that there's already a bit, person-sized box in the ring. And we get a quick recap of SNME, where Mickie completed her heel turn against Trish in one of the least satisfying pay-offs in recent memory.

Mickie has apparently failed to study at the McMahon School of Promology, and still understands the brevity is the soul of wit. It'll take you longer to read what she said than she took to said it. Basically: "I understand why Trish might not want to be my friend anymore. I mean, I gave everything for her, I lived my whole life for her, but whatever. Because this cloud has a silver lining, and at WM22, I get to wrestle Trish for the WWE Women's Title. And if Trish doesn't want to be my friend, then I won't feel bad at all about beating her to become the new WWE Champion. But there's no hard feelings, and to prove it, I've got a present for Trish. So c'mon, Trish, why not come on out and see your present?" God, I love effective, to-the-point promos that I can almost-exactly transcribe and that are less than a paragraph long.

Trish, of course, doesn't really have any interest in the gift. Until Mickie decides that she'll give Trish a little sneak peak. So she shoves the box out of the way, revealing a hooded figure underneath. The crowd goes positively mild for this. Why do I have to assume that -- what with WWE's incredible attention to detail -- this might be because they had to bring the hooded figure out, sit her down in the ring, and then put the box over top of her, right in front of the audience's face? Ahhhh, I love having me those moments of clarity when I know exactly why an attempted-"ohh"-and-"ahh"-moment tanks....

With the revelation of the hooded figure, Trish Stratus comes sprinting out (as best she can, as she's working that jeans-with-knee-high-stiletto-boots look that really gives me the gripes; boots with a skirts? me likey... but if you're working a jeans-ensemble? normal shoes, dammit). I guess she's the kind of smart cookie who's a step or two ahead of the average viewer, and she's not exactly thinking that Mickie is giving her the gift of The Higher Power. Trish figures something must be amiss. And as soon as she's made her way to ringside, Mickie reveals that Trish's suspicions were accurate. 

Mickie keeps Trish at bay by whipping the hood and cloak off the figure in the ring, revealing Diva Search Ashley (sporting a cast on her left leg, and in true Punk Grrrrrrl Fashion, Ashley selected PINK for her cast; oy). "One step closer, and Ashley gets it," says Mickie. So Trish is stuck. Mickie starts getting in Ashley's face, since Ashley's the first one who called Mickie "Psycho," and Mickie's not forgotten it. Mickie's enjoying her "Do you think I'm psycho now?" ranting, but then she lingers too close to Trish's side of the ring.... so Trish yanks her out, mounts her, and rains down with the fisticuffs.

With Mickie subdued (and bleeding from the nose), Trish got in the ring and tried to untie Ashley... but Mickie apparently did a pretty good job with the knots, and Ashley pretty much only got ungagged before Mickie got back in the ring and attacked Trish from behind. A quick bit of back and forth, and Mickie planted Trish with a DDT. A Very Special OO Thank You To Trish for taking a regular DDT Bump, instead of that Val Venis/RVD Style DDT Bump that she sometimes takes and which switches the Trish Sympathy Gene into the On Position and frequently inspires a desire to leap through the TV Screen to impose swift justice on her behalf.

After a quick check to make sure Ashley's going nowhere, Mickie turns back to Trish's limp carcass. More of the "Do you love me now?" from Saturday.... and for a moment, I thought WWE might have backed into a SWEET psycho visual for Mickie, if she just used the unexpected blood from her nose as a prop and smeared a touch of it on Trish. But instead of doing anything truly scary or intimidating, we just get more of the writer monkey's stupidity.... Mickie pulled Trish up and kissed her.

The announcers -- under orders from the Monkeys -- immediately started selling this as the most crazy, bad-ass, psycho thing they've ever seen. Oddly, when Goldust was doing this, it was all just part of a juvenile headgame according to the announcers. Huh. It's like WWE has forgotten what words mean. And of course, while the announcers are trying to convince us that the Fake Lesbian is a scary psycho (instead of a relatively harmless aberration who -- if you ignore them -- will go away), about 10% of the audience is cheering for her. Because the writer monkeys are morons, and at least a solid quarter of WWE's audience are Maxim-addicted pubescents or socially stunted young males who lack a healthy perspective on the opposite gender. And where those three groups meet? We get the horribly bungled case of Trish vs. Mickie James, once one of the most promising feuds on the WM Radar, and now guaranteed to not just be an afterthought, but an afterthought that MIGHT backfire to some extent insofar as Trish's babyface status goes. That's just brilliant work, idiots.


WrestleMania Moment: Bret vs. Austin at WM13. You know what's sad? Even in 4-minute clip form, this was the Match of the Night.

WrestleMania Hype: Until WWE gets smart and puts me on the payroll so I can help, it ain't my job to actually watch these no-content hype segments and report on them. FF~!

Video Package: More SNME recap. See what happens, America? You fail to show up, in lemming like fashion, to get WWE its 5.0 rating, and you WILL be punished with not one, but TWO pointless filler Video Recaps from the show. FF~!

Triple H and Shane McMahon vs. The Rick's Empty Bag of Jokes For When WWE Runs Ring Entrances Right Before An Ad Break

Seriously, three times on one show? I'm all for shaking up the format, but I'd give Matt Hocking's left testicle if WWE would just quit trying to fabricate bullshit ratings gains (by toying with format) and actually cut directly to the chase and FIX THE DAMN PRODUCT. But why put the effort into fixing the hard problem when you can dick around making absolutely pointless cosmetic changes? Why change your priorities now?

Anyway, the heels enter the ring for the main event, and then it's time to break for....


Shawn Michaels and John Cena vs. Triple H and Shane McMahon

True to his word, Vince McMahon (and his phalanx of security guys) is at ringside as Cena enters first for the babyfaces.... and then Michaels enters last, and tries to jumpstart things by going immediately after Shane. After a brief flurry of action, Shane escapes out into the crowd, and Vince's security tackles Shawn at ringside. 

In the ring, Cena and HHH start circling each other, content that they'll have to start the match. But HHH circles until Cena's back is to the side of the ring where Shane McMahon has just come back in from the crowd... Shane sets up to hit a springboard move on Cena, but Cena turns around in time and catches Shane with a Closed Fist To The Tummy. VICIOUS~!

And the significance of the move was not lost on Vince, who IMMEDIATELY demanded that the bell ring, because this match is OVER~! You can't use a closed fist in a match. But don't worry, Vince has a plan, and he'll give the fans their money's worth (hee)... Cena will be escorted from the ring, and if he shows up again tonight, he'll lose his WM match and be stripped of the title. And then we'll proceed with our new main event: Triple H and Shane McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels in a handicap match. Nee haw!

Security releases Shawn, and as you might expect, things don't go so well for him once he's back in the ring. We get a very basic, very methodical 2-on-1 beatdown segment. Nothing fancy, no particular synergy or anything between HHH and Shane to make it sizzle, no nothing. Just pounding away on Shawn, maybe a quick hope spot here or there, and more pounding away.

Halfway through the beatdown, the crowd was dead silent and out of it. This led, I simply MUST report, to two comical "shoot comments that weren't meant to be shoot comments." For one, Vince was trying to keep fans going by doing Guest Commentary over the house mic. Ugh. But during the deadest phase of the match, Vince actually deadpanned, "This is BRUTAL." And even if he didn't mean it that way, he should have.

And the real commentators had the acknowledge the dead crowd. Joey or King said the standard, "These fans are stunned to silence, they can't believe they're seeing Shawn Michaels dissected like this." But Coach chimed in with "I don't understand! How can anybody not LOVE watching this? This stuff is GREAT!". I want to take that quote, put it on a t-shirt, and send a bunch of them to the WWE Creative Team, since it is so obviously their working philosophy as of late.

Finally -- probably about 3 minutes too late, judging by fan interest -- Shawn started his comeback on Shane. Flying Burrito and Kip Up to start. Then Trips tried to interfere, but got an Inverted Atomic for his troubles. HBK was really cooking, and handling both his opponents for a bit. Shane even got the Macho Man Elbow.

But when Shawn started Tuning Up The Band, HHH showed up again. A quick back-attack, and Michaels was in trouble. As soon as Shane recovered, it was about a minutes-worth of 2-on-1 throttling... which is when John Cena ran out for the save.

Whoa! That means you can throw out Cena vs. HHH at WrestleMania. Vince said so. We need to crown a new WWE Champion, too. Suddenly things just got very interesting.

And if you believe a word of that, you've not been watching the WWE product for the last 23 months, where logic, continuity, and interesting plot twists are not prized at all.

What ends up happening: before Cena and Michaels can get any vengeance, Vince shepherds HHH and Shane away from the ring, and sends his half-dozen security guys into the ring, where they get beat up. After one of them gets a superkick and another gets an F-U, it appears the ass-kicking portion of the show is over. So let's kick it over to Vince McMahon, who is at the top of the entrance aisle with His Two Sons, and has an announcement to make.

And sure enough, it's NOT that Cena will be stripped of his title, per the previous threat. Instead, it's that Vince is very pissed at Cena. Duh. So to punish him, he's letting him keep the title and the WM Match.... but he's making him wrestle next week on RAW. Against....


Wait for it....


Against Vince McMahon. 

Plus 10 for making sure Cena probably won't get booed next week. Minus several million for being under the misapprehension that this is an even vaguely-defensible example of good storytelling. Look, you want to do Vince vs. Cena as a way of kind of tying together two top WM matches and being able to hype them both in one final throw-away RAW match? OK, I understand that, and it's a staple ploy of Standard Wrestling Procedure.... but there are about a hundred different ways you could have done it so that it made sense and flowed compellingly, and this was none of them. This was just lazy and riddled with logic holes that even a fifth grader or your standard "Lost" watcher would be annoyed with.

Oh, and Your Winners: It was probably a No Contest, but if The Rick puts on a striped shirt, it should have been a DQ win for HHH and Shane, at roughly the 7-8 minute mark when Cena interfered. Like I said, crowd was pretty dead throughout (or at least, they got that way by the halfway point, to the extent that the announcers had to cover for it), which pretty much tells you everything you need to know about how well this clicked as a TV Main Event.

Final shot of the night was Vince doing his cartoony Evil Villain Face while he stared down with Cena.


SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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