Tuesday, December 17, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 12/17/02

Awww yeah... the day I'd been looking forward to for weeks had finally arrived. It was Monday night, I'd left work an hour early, and I was hauling ass down I-4, desperate to make it to Orlando before the show got started. Yeah, RAW was live from O-town... no, the other O-Town... and I was there, live and in person, to take it all in.

I had some pretty rule seats, too, despite Ticketmaster.com's attempts to ensure otherwise. Every time I need to get tickets the minute they go on sale, I forget how useless their online purchasing system really is. Wound up four rows up from the floor, which was pretty much ideal. The gentleman in front of me had several signs, but he used them sparingly and appropriately so I didn't really mind.

Before the show started, the sign police made their rounds. On their shit list this time around were signs that said "suck" at any point, (which included the word "suckah") as well as anything making reference to testicles. Certainly, a few snuck past their wary eyes, but most were taken before the show went on-air. Buncha savages in this town...

The mixed tag kicked things off for us, with Victoria debuting her new entrance video. It appeared to be some bizarre mix of Faith No More's video for Epic, (you know, with the eyeball in the hand that shot green liquid?) a poor man's Exorcist (complete with spinning head and hair that mysteriously doesn't move below the shoulders) and a home video from some Catholic schoolgirls' retreat. From where I sat things never really clicked until the end, when Test kicked Steven Richards's head several rows into the cheap seats. Either Trish is incredibly short, or Test and Stacy are both over seven foot.

I heard the words "Triple H appreciation night" and instantly feared for the worst. Fortunately, they kept the appreciation confined to a short segment at the end of the show and didn't spread it across the entire two hours. Despite being overly predictable, I think the whole deal with Steiner and Trips feuding over the main event timeslot played out well as the night progressed.

Maven's vanilla act didn't cut it with the live audience, who enjoyed his entrance music and died soon after. Nowinski, meanwhile, had a dedicated yet small patch of followers (mostly in my section, believe it or not) chanting his name. We even tried getting a "Harvard" chant off the ground, when the rest of the arena laid off their "Harvard sucks" mantra, but it didn't fly. I really like Nowinski. Alongside Eddy and Chavo, he's one of the only true heels in the business today. He doesn't worry about looking cool or invulnerable, he worries about staying strictly in character. That's a tremendous asset at this point, and I'm glad he went over here.

I LOVED seeing the Jericho / Michaels confrontation. Y2J was on all night long, and started the ball rolling here. Unfortunately, I fear for how this whole thing will pay off given his track record. He's had feuds that started off this superbly in the past opposite ALL the greats; Rock, Austin, Flair, Hogan, Triple H, Benoit... yet the vast majority of them have either come up short during the payoff or floated off into nothingness without a proper blowoff. He's been outstanding at hooking us right from the get-go, and terrible at making it into something truly legendary. I pray that's not the case here, as I want the guy to succeed more than anything else, but still can't shake that feeling. An outstanding segment that gave me nothing but hope for the future. I love that HBK is around again.

Alongside Jericho, Goldust was also completely on this past Monday night. While I haven't really come to grips with his style in the ring yet, I can't help but admit he's perfect opposing Christian. They've both got the same offbeat style to their promos, simultaneously intense and hilarious, and they match up well in the ring. Good match that merits another. I was pleasantly surprised.

Rob Van Dam was over beyond belief Monday night. Seriously, three quarters of the arena was there for the sole purpose of seeing Mr. Monday Night in action. They're completely out of their minds for wasting these opportunities while he's so hot. While I'm not his biggest fan, I do recognize that he can hold his own in certain situations, and that when you're in the kind of hole the WWE is in, you MUST strike when the iron's this hot. To finish this match off without a frog splash was sacrilege to the live audience... a very bad sign.

I didn't mind D-Lo's new angle so much. If I were the kind of person who gets offended by this kind of stuff, maybe it would have bothered me. But I'm not and it didn't. I'm a big fan of realistic angles, and no matter how ugly the issue is, it's still as realistic as they come. Not sure how they'll pay it off, but they've got my attention for the moment.

As for the main event slot, I thought it played off beautifully. Steiner will be the fan favorite during his first tour, whether they want him to be or not, so pairing him off with the heel World Champ is a sweet idea by my book. I wish they'd have held off on the match until Wrestlemania, but I'll take it at the Rumble if that's when they're gonna give it to us. The audience was wildly pro-Steiner throughout the night, and went nuts when it appeared he'd get a piece of Triple H right then and there. I found the closing sequence, with Steiner forcing Hunter out of the ring nose-to-nose, to be totally sweet. I loved it, and I'm excited about the feud even if the matches won't be anything to write home about.

Absolutely nothing happened after the cameras quit rolling, which was a disappointement. Otherwise, I had a blast. Several fresh feuds were either launched or hinted towards, we're seeing some new faces and Triple H kept appearances to a minimum. Thank you sir, may I have another...?

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 7.5

Saturday, December 14, 2002

The World's Greatest WWE Armageddon 2002 Preview

It's been an improved month. Then again, coming out of the Survivor Series with a completely clean slate of champions it would be hard to botch things badly enough to call it worse than the Katie Vick monstrosity. We've got the Big Show and HBK as World Champions, which is something I can live with considering they're both merely titleholders on paper. Neither guy should hold onto their gold for longer than another thirty days, at most, and I can handle Paul Wight in there for that short an amount of time. It's starting to look like the Triple H show over on RAW again, but who can really call that much of a surprise? What it all boils down to is a pretty bland card all over, with one or two notable bits of flavor. The Benoit / Angle / Guerreros / Edge / Mysterio rotation is continuing in full effect, but I'll never get tired of the matchup we're seeing out of it this month, and the potential cruiserweight matchup has an opportunity to become one for the books. Otherwise, nothing has me jumping up and down, squirting all over and grinning like a kid locked in a closed toy store.

Jacqueline vs. Trish vs. Victoria

Bless their hearts, they've actually tried to build us a women's division again this month. Despite no appearances from Molly or Jazz, the division's two strongest wrestlers, we've seen no shortage of Women in the month of December. I'm somehow simultaneously glad and horrified about Jacqueline's appearance here. On one hand, she's a face we haven't seen in a serious position in months, and could potentially thus add some new flavor to the division. It also means her fluke victory over Victoria early in the month had more behind it than a cheap, home-arena pop. Then again, it's fucking Jacqueline. I don't buy her false bravado, and I don't like seeing her in the ring, whether it's as an official or a wrestler.

Trish and Victoria have had plenty of opportunities to familiarize themselves with one another in the ring, and with Fit Finlay refusing to give up on the division, still run the chance of putting up a good fight Sunday. So long as they don't overthink this or try to make it into something it will never be, the match will be a success. It won't be poetry, but it won't be ugly, either. Trish needs the gold back, but I'm afraid it'll kill every bit of Victoria's momentum, considering how horribly she's been squashed this month.
Winner: Victoria

Edge vs. Albert

Albert hurt Rey's knee. Edge is Rey's partner. So they fight. Tell me how anybody thought this angle shouldn't have gone to Matt Hardy, and I'll tell you they're an idiot anyway. We KNOW Matt and Edge can have a killer match, it would be fresh, it would be a series with legs. But instead we get Albert, taking V 1.0's slot at the last second. A guy who has one angle in his future, the whole "Loser shaves his back match" ordeal. Blegh. This isn't getting Edge anywhere, and it's sure as hell not building new stars the crowd wants to see.

The only way I'd be happy with the outcome of this match is if Crash ran down to the ring in Edge's place, completed the job of shaving the gorilla's back, and proceeded to win an impromptu "Pink slip on a pole" match while Albert sold the razor burn.
Winner: Edge

Chris Benoit vs. Eddy Guerrero

Hell yeah. Two of my all-time favorites are getting a chance to show us what they've got. It's always disappointed me that these two never got the high profile, PPV match they deserved during the two breakups of the Radicals, and now they're finally getting that chance. With any luck, this'll be the start of a long-running, classic feud that puts both men in a spot that CAN NOT be ignored. Eddy is, bar none, the best heel in North America, and Chris needs someone of that stature to solidify his character and position outside of the ring. It's time to ditch all that "tweener" nonsense, he's either a full-throttle face or a greasy, prick of a heel.

There's nothing more I can really say about this match. If it goes longer than ten minutes it'll be sweet. If it goes longer than fifteen, it'll be classic. If it stretches over three months, blowing off at Wrestlemania, it'll be truly ideal. If Benoit wins, this feud doesn't go any further than tonight. If Eddy "cheats to win", we're in for a fun ride. Guess which one I want to see?
Winner: Eddy Guerrero

Kane vs. Batista

This has the potential to either skyrocket the new guy's career or sink it like a stone. He came to RAW, packaged with a steamroller of publicity, fanfare and vignettes. He looks like a guy who could kill you with just a stern glare. He's got Ric Flair in his corner. And he's done nothing to separate himself in the ring from anybody else in the lower midcard. Now, some of the blame should go to the WWE for giving him such short, spontaneous matches and protecting him to a fault. However, Big Dave needs to take some of the blame himself. When that red light's gone on, when he's heard the opening bell, he's stumbled. He hasn't looked as impressive as you'd expect. Where Brock Lesnar debuted and immediately proved that he had a moveset we'd never seen before, Batista's come in, thrown a few punches and delivered a powerbomb or two.

He's got his work cut out for him with Kane, who's wrestled virtually the same match for upwards of two years now, and who weighs enough to make any sort of power offense difficult. If Batista can manhandle the big red machine convincingly, finishing him off with something that DEMANDS the audience to jump out of their seats and shout, then he's gonna go places. If he continues to freeze up under the limelight and offers up another ho-hum, run of the mill match, it's the end of the line. Either way, he's my pick for this one.
Winner: Batista

Christian & Chris Jericho vs. Booker T & Goldust vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm & William Regal

I love it. The sudden resurgence of the tag team division is the best thing going on RAW today. The Canadian Chris's have the kind of chemistry we haven't seen since Christian's first big tag team, his legendary pairing with Edge. Booker and Goldust, a team I've been critical of in the past, have the kind of momentum going right now that some guys would kill for. The Dudley Boyz are just coming off a recent popularity spike, thanks to D-Von's unexpected return to the fold, so they'll bring all the crowd noise you could ask for. And Regal / Storm are the best of the best at the moment, working their asses off and giving us something fresh every week. I didn't care much for the clusterfuck at the end of RAW promoting this one, but the talent involved can't help but make up for that.

This should be really, really good. While the urge is certainly there to see this one develop into a TLC-style spot match, I'd actually rather see it kept as a solid, serious elimination WRESTLING match. I'd imagine one of the heel duos will dominate this one, taking the bull by the horns and really driving the other teams to match their effort. The Dudleys are an afterthought, I don't think there's any way they're getting the belts back at this point. They're hot at the moment but I'd rather see them prove they've got more in the tank than the same old spots and a few more tables. So they're my pick for the first team eliminated. Christian and Y2J are tentatively my second choice. I like them as champions, and I like the pairing.. but I think they've got more promise as singles than a duo. I'd call Booker and Goldust as the third team out, despite the push they were given Monday. Dustin has a sore back and Booker needs more than a tag team title. He should be feuding for the top spot. So that means I'm going with Regal and Storm. They deserve it, they're on the longest roll, and it's about friggin' time for both guys. If they don't take it, then Jericho and Christian will retain. I don't think either of the faces have a serious shot at it.

Truth be told, I'm almost looking forward to this match more than I am Benoit / Guerrero.
Winners: Storm & Regal

Kurt Angle (w/ Brock Lesnar) vs. Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman)

OK, this one's not gonna tear down any walls. Kurt won't drag a match of the year out of the Big one, but he'll give it that old college try all the same. And I think he'll be able to give us as good a show as the current Smackdown champ's ever going to get. Remember when Bret Hart made Diesel watchable? When Shawn Michaels gave us an entertaining match with Sid? I'd certainly classify Angle as being in league with those two, and Paul Wight lands somewhere in between Diesel and Sid.

Of course, the real story here is how they'll handle the holy grail of this year, the elusive Angle vs. Lesnar feud. It's easy to say they're planting the seeds here, and then look toward Wrestlemania and the one-on-one match there. That takes half the fun out of the equation, though. Sure, it's sweet to have a killer match as the payoff... but it doesn't mean anything if there isn't an equally kickass storyline to keep us excited all the way there. I won't even begin to speculate about how they'll start things off here, I'll merely take solace in the fact that Paul Heyman is booking it, and not RAW's infamous crew.

It's a tough call. Do we give Angle the World Title and allow Lesnar to chase him down the home stretch, or do we go the alternate route, and make it a meeting of the two-time champions? I'd much rather see the former, and that's what I'm gonna have to pick. This one's as easy to predict as a flip of the coin.
Winner: Kurt Angle

Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

I really hope this one doesn't turn out as transparent as it appears to be. Because right now it's reading like a poor book, straight from start to finish with no twists, turns or surprises. Shawn wins title, Shawn defends title and is screwed over by Triple H, Shawn chases Triple H, Shawn loses payoff in three falls, Triple H resumes domination of RAW brand. I've read instruction manuals with more intrigue than that. So, I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt and say "expect lots of surprises!!" ...because, otherwise, it's really gonna suck.

Realistically, this will be awkward. There's little or no flow between the sequential falls. They're gonna have to wander back to ringside after, presumably, fighting to the back and doing a lot of junk brawling in their street fight. Then they'll have to wait for the steel cage, unless it's set up prior to the match, where the goal is to escape from the cage. At which point they'll then need to return again to the ring, ladder in tow, to retrieve the title. Yeah, it doesn't make much sense to me either. But, I guess, if anybody could make it work it'd be Shawn Michaels. I didn't take Hell in a Cell seriously until he climbed inside for the first time, and he carried the Undertaker through that one.

Bottom line, if HBK works his ass off and Triple H doesn't walk out with the title, this will be fun. And it sure as hell better be the blowoff, because if they try to sell us on this again at Wrestlemania I'm not sure I'll be buying. My faith in the booking squad is probably better than it should be here. Michaels retains, just to keep people guessing.
Winner: Shawn Michaels


With this month's show emanating from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, I had a chance to attend this show live but opted not to. First and foremost, the tickets were absolutely ridiculous. I could get really good seats for one pay per view, or I could get really good seats for two house shows, a RAW taping and a Smackdown taping, and still have money left over for gas. Up next, well... I have to work on Monday morning. And it's a drive across the state, so I'd be out late. Third, there's the previously mentioned televised shows. I'll be skipping the house shows, but will be at RAW and Smackdown. Finally, I just didn't think this was a PPV I'd be kicking myself for not attending the next day. I still hold that standpoint. Maybe HBK will do something amazing. Maybe that tag match will be really good. Maybe I'll miss a title change. In another year, who else will remember what happened? I'd rather see two shows like that, and save a little cash along the way.
until next time, i remain

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 12/10/02

Not really the kind of "spring off the diving board" effect you hope for on the show before a Pay Per View. Certainly, I was entertained by more than a few segments and I won't say the booking of Triple H / HBK was anywhere near the lows brought to mind by the mere mention of the name Katie Vick... still, the majority of the good strides were rendered null and void by the segments that fell flat. I'd love one segment, and nearly doze off during the next. And, while the occasionaly hot and cold show can do a lot to refresh the viewer throughout the night, such wasn't the case tonight. Truth be told, I wouldn't even really call it "hot and cold", more of a "lukewarmish warm and lukewarmish cool". Nothing kicked my ass six ways from Tuesday, but nothing made me embarassed to be a wrestling fan, either.

...ok, maybe if they'd mentioned "The end is near" just ONE more time, I'd have been embarassed...

I don't mind that Triple H / HBK is going three falls Sunday night. After all the voices on the internet told us to "brace for a letdown" the night before Michaels got into the ring at Summerslam, only to watch him deliver with style, I'm pushing all thoughts of a match on par with his battles with Razor Ramon to the back of my head. He's still far from performing in his peak, but I like seeing him around and active again. Even though the feud with HHH is dragging, due to the sheer amount of time the WWE has invested in it, I've got high hopes about the future of his farewell tour. I'd love to see him get in there and go one-on-one with Jericho, Benoit, Guerrero... hell, while we're at it why not Rocky or Austin, and I hope upon hope that they don't do a "career-ending" finish to Sunday's matchup.

I'm deeply in love with Storm & Regal as a tag team, as I've covered in, like, the last twelve RAW Reviews. I would've much rather seen them carry on their brutalization of their opponents than just win the match, but I'll take what I can get. At least they're winning convincingly. Seriously, though, how much cooler would this have been if Storm had wrenched way back on that Sharpshooter, JR claimed he "heard a pop" and Goldust had to be helped to the back? It would've put over the Dustjacket even stronger than the already-decent angle they used, and Regal / Storm would've come off as vicious, unleashed dogs. Dustjacket... get it...?? See, it's "dust" because of Goldust, and Booker can be shortened to "book", which is something that is often accompanied by a dustjacket! Ha! Ha! I'm an idiot.

I dug what they did with Booker and Dustin as it was, gives them some big time momentum, but I'd have rather seen Goldust hurt and Tommy Dreamer show up as a surprise partner in his absence. There I go, playing head booker again. Bottom line, we've suddenly got a very healthy tag team division here, so I'm happy.

I just kept waiting for Chris Jericho to snap and kick the holy hell out of Trish backstage, but it never came to pass. Y2J's been on a serious roll.

I liked the Steven Richards match. Yeah, that's right, I liked it. Or, at least, the last few minutes of it. Jacqueline got a little bit too much offense in there, but the end result is what we should've seen. He's absolutely vicious when he wants to be, and last night he wanted to be. Too bad the crowd didn't give a shit. You could've heard a pin drop throughout most of this show.

Batista's really lagging. I was buying into his hype in a major way, coming into his re-debut a few weeks ago, but he's provided nothing to put him on the map. Just another uncharismatic big man, except his power moves look stiff and unimpressive. Maybe he's trying too hard? Maybe he hasn't had the right opponent to make him look strong? Maybe he has yet to wrestle a match on RAW that's gone long enough to get him into the flow, and shake some of those jitters? Who am I to know? The only thing I realize is he's got a sweet look, kickass music and the best mouthpiece in the world going for him, but he keeps faltering once that red light turns on. If he doesn't kick some ass on Sunday with Kane, I'd be surprised if we see this much of him over the course of the next few months.

The kids from Tough Enough I were at it again... and, what the hell, D'Lo Brown is on RAW? Cool to see him back on television after another brief stay in the realm of the dark match. This one was a bit subpar, and I'm starting to sour on Maven a little more than previously. He looks lost when he's in there for a one-on-one encounter. Maven may have taken the title of his particular season, but Nowinski's evolved into a much more convincing package in the months since TE1 ended. D'Lo and Al were there, doing their part, but I couldn't get past the bald guy with big eyebrows.

I blinked, and thus missed Triple H defeating Jeff Hardy. No surprises there...

Fortunately enough, I did see Ric Flair's promo, and fucking loved it. This was the absolute essence of the Nature Boy in full effect. In front of a large crowd, speaking with conviction and vocal enthusiasm in a high profile position, and making valid and interesting points about the history of the sport. Thank god they let him go out there and do what he does best. I also loved that they let Shawn leave the ring without saying a word, obviously contemplating what Flair had just said. It cemented Flair's words, lending validity and credibility to his speech. On a show that's been almost entirely dedicated to gratuitous physicality and instant gratification, it was a really refreshing change of pace to see that they haven't completely forgotten about psychology. A heel that never rushes the ring and relies entirely on demotivational speaking could go to the top right now, just because he's so completely different from what we've seen for the last few years. Hello, Raven? What are you doing these days...? Wanna try something out for us?

I hate any handicap match that isn't a complete squash. Rosey and Jamal went toe to toe with half the teams involved in the four way for the titles Sunday night. They couldn't beat Kane in a two-on-one environment. Thus, by association, the entire tag team division is comprised of pussies who will never hold a torch to the upper-midcard / fringe main eventers. Then again, I guess Kane has a bit of a history when it comes to discrediting the tag division. Anybody remember that TLC IV match a few months ago?

I didn't care much for the obvious overbooking of the tag team table match. Sure, it gets all the teams out there and puts some prestige back on the tag titles, but it was also chaotic and almost unwatchable. I just rolled my eyes and waited for the Dudleys to put somebody through a table. Speaking of which... poor Victoria. She survives being dropped on her head from the top rope by a sloppy-ass Bubba Ray, only to take a horrendous powerbomb through the table at the hands of Trish? Damn, she better win this weekend after the way she's been handled the last two weeks. Boring match. Not completely without its redeeming qualities, but boring all the same.

And I hate hate HATED the segment they chose to close the show. Shawn Michaels, giggling like a backyard wrestler who can't remember what he's supposed to say, with strips of paper jiggling on his shirt, trying to sell us on a main event Ric Flair had already sold magnificently earlier in the show. And what's the point of doing a big spot like that jump from the semi trailer, if: a) you're not going to do it in front of the live audience, killing the heat and making it look even MORE like backyard wrestling, and b) you're going to make it so painfully obvious that these guys are jumping into the softest, most pillowy dumpster in the world.

Above average show, with a poisonous closing minute.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 5.5

Tuesday, December 3, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 12/03/02

Maybe it's the funk I was in all day, or maybe it's the slight state of inebriation I was in while watching last week's show, but this week's episode of RAW really seemed to plod along compared to the bright offerings of a couple weeks past. The strange thing is, looking back I can't find any segment that came off as altogether horrible television. The vast majority of it was stuff I should be enjoying, given my past track record, and granted there were still many points that I liked watching. Unfortunately, I just found myself disinterested with most of the show. I'd take my eyes off the match to catch up on my Entertainment Weekly, I'd check out what Autumn was doing on the computer, I'd wrestle with the cats... it's like I was reading an edition of the Smackdown grades, (ohhhh!!!) except it was on TV and it was Monday Night. I dunno what to blame it on, but this week's program just seemed like business as usual to me. It tasted extremely bland, even though it was flashy and brightly colored.

Perhaps it was the early presence of the poster boys for mediocrity, the Three Minute Warning, that started the night off on such a bad foot. And, oh lord, they were pairing off against the Dudley Boys... so that means I was watching a recently reunited team that I couldn't stand six months ago, they'd become so stale, take on a rookie squad that's stumbling over the hurdles, revealing a new flaw every week. Strangely enough, though, they were both actually pretty interesting this week. I'm thinking it was a morbid fascination, watching to see how long they'd get into the match before crippling Rosey. That double-side suplex early on was absolutely brutal, all that weight dropped onto the base of his neck. Maybe it was D-Von's charismatic fucking rebirth. The guy's come out like he's about to win the World Title every week since hopping to RAW. Maybe it was my basic love for tag team wrestling... I haven't a clue. Point is, I liked it. I even liked the aftermath, Jericho and Christian completely wiping out the big D's during the commercial break. It lends a touch of realism to the show, like something can happen at any time, not just when the cameras are rolling and the show's live. They did a similar bit with Rhyno and Tajiri a year ago, and I loved it then as well. When they use it sparingly, that kind of production can add a ton of surprise to the show. It's when they start doing it every week that we should start complaining.

Trish and Ivory had a few good exchanges, before killing it all with a painful hesitation during the finish. I'll continue to give Fit Finlay all the credit in the world for trying to do something with a Women's Division that's been worthless for twenty years, but all the planning in the world can't help if you don't know what to do when something goes wrong. Finlay could slap together a match that would leave us begging and pleading for more if Chris Benoit and Dean Malenko were the participants. That same match, though, with Jackie Gayda and Torrie playing the Radicals' parts, would be the drizzling shits. Sometimes you've gotta treat a stinker like it's a stinker, cut your losses and move on.

I am head over heels in love with the Lance Storm / William Regal angle, but it's time to move it along. Do the big injury angle, Dreamer screaming as though he'd just stuck his dick in a cheese grater, and give the UnAmericans the nod. That way you can give ol' Tommy some time off, you advance Storm and Regal to compete for the tag titles, and you set up a big feud when it's time to bring Dreamer back. The match was a refreshing change of pace in my opinion, as we were watching hot tags all night long and here, suddenly, a match ended without one. I found that it put Storm and Regal over as magnificent technicians, capable of keeping their opponents isolated from one another, doing their damage and ending the match, executioner-style. I really do see a lot of the Brainbusters in these two right now... all they need is a Bobby Heenan to make the team complete.

Lawler had the line of the night, after Jeff Hardy did a lap of the ring to hit his railrunner... "He ran all the way around the ring, just to do that?!" I usually hate the guy, but he read my mind on that one, and what made it funny was the way the other three guys looked to be thinking the same thing. He punches Storm, and then hauls ass in the opposite direction. A sloooww five or ten seconds pass, Regal shoots him a "..the fuck are you doing??" look, and he finally hits the payoff. Jeff Hardy is officially a complete writeoff. All that talk four years ago about his being the "next Shawn Michaels"? Yeah, let's go back and see what we can do about erasing all that from the archives.

Batista's going nowhere. I was really excited to see him debut, after all the effort they'd put into him, but by now it's becoming apparent that audiences aren't swallowing it. The writers' answer...? "Let's delve into his mysterious, shady past!" If it goes much further beyond "I was an orphan who got beat up a lot", I'll be very upset. If any of it involves a lost love or something, I'm turning the TV off.

He got the usual "oh lord, look at how many flips that guy did in the air" amazing selling job from the Hurricane, but it's not getting him over. Maybe a clean win over Kane would do the trick.

Oh my god, how the audience wanted to see that tag title match turn out differently. They weren't so crazy about Booker going in, but after a few minutes he was a legitimate superman. Give him a PPV in Houston, give him the title at said PPV, and reap the rewards as he launches into the stratosphere. I liked this match, even though I still refuse to accept Goldust as a serious competitor. His character made sense and was insanely deep only a few years ago, what happened to all that? Why does he still use the "flying butt thrust" as an offensive maneuver? What the hell?

Love all the non-golden guys involved in the match, liked the action in the ring, hated the finish. Jericho and Christian are so totally singles stars. So let them be singles stars, without splitting their little coalition. Dissolve the tag team, let them hang out together, and let the fans see what they want for a change.

I hate Jackie. I hate seeing two women's matches on one two-hour show, when the division can only boast maybe six worthy competitors and guys like Raven are still sitting on Heat, playing out an angle that nobody's watching. I hate that they refuse to believe how poor Victoria is on the mic. I hate that Steven Richards is just a glorified jobber again, after being SO CLOSE to hitting the nail on the head during his series with Tommy Dreamer. I hate that somebody of no value to the federation pinned the women's champion cleanly in the middle of the ring, just because "She's from Texas, by god!" Horrible segment. Maybe this is why I remember being bored for most of the night.

I was actually really hoping it would be Jazz in the limo with Scott Steiner. Then all his talk to Victoria about being with somebody out of her league would have made perfect sense. Plus, she'd get the huge rub of coming in riding Scotty's heat, and they'd actually look like two people who might hang out together. Then again, all that talk of the 'roid freak "pushing her pink" might get a little disturbing after a while. Yeah, that'd be nasty.

Wait... how is teasing sex with Stephanie McMahon any less nasty? Holy shit, I hope he's wearing a rubber. No question in my mind, that girl's got some major STD issues. And I don't mean Smackdown Television Deals.

I enjoyed Shawn Michaels' participation in the main event, but that was about it. Funny, it felt like... well, let me see.... chair, HBK in a ref's outfit, World Title involved, "fair and impartial ref" rule... yeah, it definitely felt like 1997 all over again. I realize they haven't done it like that since, but COME ON! It's almost the exact same angle they ran to put the title on Bret for the last time. And he wasn't even impartial this time. Why didn't Eric march down to the ring and strip him of his title, the moment he started pushing the ropes away from Triple H? Or when he performed slower and slower counts when Hunter was on top? And why bother having a wrestler as a special referee, if he can't take any more abuse than a regular ref? It's like wearing white and black stripes make you a pussy, just by association.

This didn't feel like a #1 contender's match. It felt like two guys going through the motions, a silly ref and another predictable outcome. It didn't feel epic, it didn't look like they both wanted the win more than they wanted to take their next breath. It was just a match. I think that sums up the night, really. Nothing super, nothing lame. Just another RAW. Below average.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.25

Monday, November 18, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 11/18/02

I was actually moderately pleased with the way the booking at this year's Survivor Series turned out. I'd rather have seen a new face go over Triple H, as over the last six months we've learned that nobody can hang with him except HBK, but the time was right for a final Michaels title run and if he's willing to defend it on TV, I'm willing to let the legend have one more dance on top.

While we're remotely on the subject of Trips, I've got a pretty large bone to pick. Every single time he was mentioned last night, it was in a pleasant light. Huh? So what, exactly, changed between Sunday night (when fans were rabidly screaming for his blood) and Monday night? We endured month after month of this guy as Eric Bischoff's buddy, the "sadistic" man who didn't know when to stop when it came to tormenting Kane's past, the champion everyone wanted to see without his title. I didn't enjoy it, which you should know if you've been reading the RAW Review for more than a week or two, but it was something. Usually when a heel turns face, they give us some sort of motivation to change our feelings about him / her. At least he didn't show up and ruin the main event.

HBK's interview to start the show was long winded, and not really what he needed to get himself over the notch as a "comeback kid." I'm with Justin, if I had to endure just one more "neeeewwww" out of that guy, I was about ready to switch the channel. At least it isn't something he can use every week, right? Unless he keeps doing something new every night, and continues to inform us about it. "Last night I gave my kid a neeeeewwww diaper!" Still, fun to see him interacting with Bischoff and RVD... talk about three guys you never, ever, EVER thought you'd see in the same ring together. This year's been full of moments like that.

The Dudleyville reunion was fun, though I was flinching every time D-Von got a tag into the ring. This story's followed every step in the WWE's "Guide to splitting a tag team," just a little slower than usual. From what I've gathered about the federation, the rule goes something like this; once a heel, always a heel. If one half of a tag team turns, only to later reunite the tandem later on, the same guy will inevitably screw his partner once again. So enjoy the 3Ds while they're here, because I've got a feeling they won't be around for long. Fun while it lasted, watching these two hit all their signature spots again.

And WHEW! Rico isn't fired yet!

Didn't care much for the Stacey Kiebler segment. The whole reason this Testicle thing worked in the past was because Test himself thought the name was retarded. He did it to appease his girlfriend, but his heart wasn't in it... and that's why it was so damn believable. He quit looking like a postured wrestler, surrounded by glitz, glamour, pyrotechnics and entrance packages, and started looking like a real guy in an overproduced world. Once you see him cutting serious promos in the middle of the ring, telling us all to embrace the Testicle inside ourselves, it's the beginning of the end. Thin jokes like that can only go for so long before they get stupid and fans abandon them in drones. Remember "You're Welcome"?

Storm and Regal are continuing what's become one of my favorite angles. They're sort of borrowing a formula from horror films with the way this has progressed, albeit inadvertantly. Because of the speed with which it's taken place, the camera's never really caught a great shot of Regal and / or Storm snagging Dreamer with their boot. All you see is a commotion, then Dreamer spastically twitching on the mat, grasping his jaw as though it's been dislocated. In various horror films, directors completely refrain from showing you the monster, instead allowing your imagination to fill in the blanks. It's been argued that this makes the monster vastly more horrifying than anything special effects could come up with, and that's a belief I happen to agree with. It's just that in this instance, William Regal's foot is the monster and Tommy Dreamer's jaw is the damsel in distress.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but they're handling Scott Steiner's entrance into the fed perfectly. I wouldn't have done a single thing differently. They're pushing him as a live wire, somebody who cannot and will not be controlled, neither by his opponents nor the censors, Vince McMahon nor Jim Ross. Case in point; the minute he reached for a mic, JR made a quick comment along the lines of "Giving Scott Steiner a microphone on live TV is like handing a loaded gun to a nine year old." In one sentence, he successfully pitched Scotty's gimmick to the millions watching at home. They don't know what this guy's going to do next, so if you watch long enough you'll probably get to see something you're not supposed to. They're simultaneously building intrigue for their next broadcast and covering their tracks if the guy does anything completely ridiculous. And, stop me if I'm wrong, but that wasn't Y2J interrupting Steiner's big moment in the sun last night. It was the Lyin' Heart. That was vintage WCW Chris Jericho if I ever saw it, saying what everyone at home was thinking, but doing so in a way that made him look like a complete and utter ass. I LIKE this feud.

Victoria as Women's champ isn't gonna fly.

What a grotesque match Al Snow and Chris Nowinski had. Week after week, I can't believe that Nowinski's still within his first year with the company. I've addressed it before, but the one thing that stands out head and shoulders above everything else with this guy is his incredible level-headedness and presence of mind. A few weeks ago, when a promo didn't start off on the right foot, he remained calm and talked the crowd into hating his guts. This week, a few spots were close to being botched and would have come off horribly if he hadn't covered for them the way he did. He just knows what to do in almost any situation, and that's a rare talent to find in a rookie. Even the Oratory's hero, Chris Benoit, didn't seem to know what to do when Kevin Nash tore his quad in the middle of a match several months back. But then, the only person who didn't look like a chicken with his head cut off in there was our current champion, Shawn Michaels.

I'm getting off track. If he can remain healthy, Chris Nowinski is a future main eventer. He's got a gimmick that works, and he LIVES it. He knows how to control a crowd, what to do when things go wrong, and when he should make the transition from moves that wear an opponent down to moves that convince an audience the end is near. His matches could still use a little work, but he's far from the worst worker on the roster. Given the amount of ground he's covered in the last few months, he could be nipping at his superiors' heels sooner than you think.

Sick match, but Al Snow looked like he was actually giving a damn again. Gone was that blank stare, that "do I really have to do this??" body language. He looked like a guy who'd been seriously pissed off, and good GOD I hope I'm never on his bad side. What an absolutely horrific dropkick in the corner that was, followed by the only strike he's ever thrown with that bowling ball. If that didn't shove Mr. Harvard's nuts up into his throat, he's EXTREMELY good at covering for it.

I like Batista with Ric Flair. Now let's take them away from Triple H and go the Lesnar route again, with the twist of Flair playing the mentor, not the agent. Or not... I could see this going any number of ways. And, what was that...? I think I finally heard a sound when the former Deacon was in the ring. If he's going to continue to steamroll over guys of Kane's magnitude, he's gonna hear a lot more about it in the next few weeks.

A strange main event, but interesting all the same. There were spots that looked awkward, as the combatants weren't sure who was in the ring, who was on the floor, and who was about to land a forearm in the small of their back. I still enjoyed it, if just for the freshness of the three together in the ring. Everything played out well in the end, and I especially enjoyed the segment with all three men hitting one another's finishers (complete with Jericho rolling around the ring holding his abs, post-frog splash.) RVD bumped like a man who wanted to die, especially at the end of the match on the floor, and it made his heroic comeback that much more impactful. I'm really looking forward to seeing him face HBK next week, although I have reservations about the way they'll play it out. I've liked the last few weeks of RAW, but not so much that I'm willing to forget what we saw in the months prior. I don't trust the bookers just yet.

All in all a very solid program. We saw several feuds kick started, and the month already has a specific direction. There's a million directions they can take this, and the majority of them look pretty good from where I'm sitting. Thumbs up.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 6.75

Friday, November 15, 2002

The World's Greatest WWE Survivor Series 2002 Preview

We've got a lot of faces here, yet only a few matches. Taking a quick peek up at the name adorning the front of MSG this weekend, I think I can wager a guess as to why. We're doing the Survivor Series thing, but we don't want to go so far as to commit to any old school, team-elimination rules matches. I can dig it, especially since the guys they've lined up to partake look to be good enough to make that dated, outlandish format actually work. Honestly, top to bottom, this card's pretty well balanced. There's a taste of suck, a match or two that could go either way, and a couple big money matches that will more than likely deliver. I've been relatively pleased with the progress RAW's taken lately, with Smackdown slowing its stride a tad over the last month, but still delivering a couple quality matches a week. Before you can take the giant steps again, you've got to master those baby steps once more.

Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble
Cruiserweight Title Match

I'm noticing some similarities to the enormous initial run of TAKA Michinoku in the push of Jamie Noble here. He's giving us good to great matches and wrestling a style that's designed to wake fans up, grab their attention, hold onto it, and steal shows. Yet, he still gets thrown into PPV matches at the last second, if at all. The title he carries has a little more value than TAKA's old prize, thanks to the tremendous amount of talent the division inherited from the WCW buyout, but the problems with management are still there. It's too bad, too, since fans are as receptive to this division as they've ever been. All they need is a really kickass storyline to play with, and the cruisers in general will be through the roof. And maybe, just maybe, we'll have a prayer of seeing that Michinoku Mysterio dream match that's been just out of grasp for years now.

In reference to the match, Kidman and Jamie should entertain. These two have matched up well together in the past, and while they haven't done anything remarkable with each other, they'll put on a fun show all the same. I could really care less about Billy-bo's character right now, in all his vanilla glory, and if a wrestling junkie like myself can't get into him what does that say about his chances with the general public? Maybe if they'd give him some personality, a character flaw, a quirk, SOMETHING to set him apart from the gaggle of other guys who used to wrestle in cut-off jeans. Noble, at least, they're TRYING with. That's why he's my pick here.
Winner: Jamie Noble

Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray and Spike vs. 3-Minute Warning and Rico

Maybe they should've put a special stipulation on this one; winner gets a push that means something. This is like a who's who of also-rans in the WWE right now, feuding with one another because... hey, nobody else is. Not that I blame them in any case except Rico's. The Samoans 2k2 had their big chance to reach for the stars, and they slipped up. Now they're just "those two guys who used to run in from the crowd after three minutes." Jeff Hardy had similar chances, which seemed to affect him in the worst way imaginable. The guy just doesn't look like he cares (or knows) what he's doing anymore. His character's sailed off into way, way left field, and his matches are a poor satire of the style he once defined. Bubba's off rehashing the dancin' fat man gimmick, last used publicly by Dusty Rhodes, and little Spike will ALWAYS be the honorary punching bag for all of the WWE. Rico's a little different. Unlike the others, he's never really been given a chance to show us what he can do with a high-profile spot, and I tend to believe he'd manage to put something worthwhile together if he ever did. He's got a unique, standout style in the ring. You'll never overlook him in a crowd. And he can talk. It's a recipe for success, guys, and you're letting it go to waste...

The interactions between these six on TV have been about what you'd expect. Nothing to write home about, but better than another backstage segment with Triple H and Kane. So long as they don't try to book this as a 45-minute marathon of a match, it'll be watchable. Everyone will hit their signature spots (except Rico, because they haven't seen fit to GIVE him a signature spot yet), the fans will chant for tables, someone will go through the pre-cut wood, and we'll move on to the next match. I want to see them give this one to the 3-minute men, just because I think their act has much, much more promise than the Dudleyville / Hardyburgh connection.
Winners: The Three Minute Warning

Victoria vs. Trish Stratue

Victoria knows her way around the ring. Trish is carryable. The match should be pretty decent, with Fit Finlay continuing his attempt as road agent to make the Women's division worthwhile. Let's just steer clear of too many video packages, backstage segments, interviews, hallway run-ins, what have you. Victoria's a good wrestler, but a stinky, rotting, grotesque actress. Let's allow her to wrestle, and allow the viewers to breathe a sigh of relief.

I'm putting my money on Trish here. Jazz will be back soon, and you've gotta have a big time face as the champ so she can stiff the shit out of them again. My, how this division has missed Jazz.
Winner: Trish

Edge & Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie & Chavo Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit

What, like I can say anything at all here. This is exactly the kind of match I want to see on a card I'm paying $30 for. The way these three teams have interacted over the last couple months has been almost flawless. The Guerreros are the absolute heels, Rey & Edge are the clean cut faces, and Benoit / Angle represent the tweeners. They've all been shown interacting with one another logically since the tournament's end, and any combination of two of these teams would make sense in a tag title match at this point. Throwing all three of them in there together not only makes sense, but also serves as a great segue into both the Men of Mystery / Los Guerreros feud and the Benoit / Angle singles blowoff in the next couple months. I don't think there's any way they can screw this up. Even an overbooked finish, or a goofy turn wouldn't be enough to make this one suck. The guys involved are just too good.

I'm going with the faces as victors here, but wouldn't be surprised to see Benoit and Angle come together as a cohesive unit and just OWN the other guys. And that's something else I really like about this build. Benoit and Angle have been handled as two main eventers thrown into an uneasy alliance since day one. They've completely pushed the fact that, if these two could get along, they'd be untouchable. But as their tempers flare, so do the chances of their opposition. It's a can't miss formula, and I love it. Applause! Applause!
Winners: Edge & Rey Mysterio, Jr.

Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show

Rumor has it both of these two have some aches and pains coming in to this one; Brock nursing a rib ailment, Show working with a bruised arm. I understand Lesnar's picked the big man up for an F5 at house shows, but it'll still be interesting to see if he can get the big man up with all the hot lights pointed at him. I don't think anybody has any illusions about the quality of this match. We're not gonna see anything to rival Flair / Steamboat, nor will we see anything that will compete with the three way tag match from earlier in the show. What we'll see is two big guys, throwing punches at one another, wearing each other down and trying for a big, high impact spot to finish things.

Of course, the real story here is IN the story. Is Paul Heyman about to betray his client, turning the champ face? Will Scott Steiner show up and make things a no contest? Will Lesnar accept his first defeat? Lots of possibilities for something to change, but it's the idea of everything remaining the same that's captured my mind. Brock's not ready to turn face yet, nor should he separate from Paul. Sure, it's got the makings of a great story in it, but this would be pulling the plug a bit early. And, unless the writers are blind, deaf and dumb, Steiner's headed to RAW.

I'm doubting the Big Show will be the first man to pin Brock Lesnar. The champ retains.
Winner: Brock Lesnar

Triple H vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Booker T vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Shawn Michaels

This could really kick ass. You've got six huge names in the ring at one time, in a brand new gimmick match that's been built with more vigor than the second coming of Christ. By all means, the sheer intrigue alone should be enough to carry the audience through this one. Add to that the fact that none of these guys are slouches in the ring, and you're mixing something worth a peek. Then again, this could really SUCK ass. You've got six big names who aren't familiar with one another, one of which is attempting to return from four years away from the ring due to a broken back. You've got one of the most unpredictable wrestlers on the planet in Rob Van Dam, who can give us a match of the year one night, only to mail it in the next. You've got Kane, who still hasn't convinced me he's a main eventer and just finished up a couple unmemorable matches against Triple H. And you've got the champ himself, who's the object of nearly everyone's ire lately and has been taking a suspicious number of losses in the last couple weeks. But you've also got Chris Jericho and Booker T, who have been absolutely scorching the last couple weeks, and both look ready to step up to the challenge in a big way. It'll be... interesting... I can say that.

I'm not so crazy about the rules. Any match where wrestlers are confined to a small area, within reach of the other guys, is a little silly. I didn't like it when they'd dangle guys from the cieling in a cage, I don't like it now. Then again, I suppose it's the best way to keep this from becoming a major league clusterfuck. This way, you've at least got a few minutes of one-on-one before somebody new comes in and things start to get crazy.

So let's see who's got a chance and why. Kane; nuh unh. He had his shot last month, and it didn't go anywhere. As far as I'm concerned, his feud with Triple H blew off with that mysteriously non-title casket match. RVD; same story. I'd give him a better chance than the big red machine, but not by much. He'll last a while, though, so as to maximize the chance he'll pull some absolutely insane and memorable spot out of his ass. Shawn Michaels; The wild card. I sincerely doubt they'll put the gold on him, since he's asked to work such a limited schedule, but I wouldn't rule it out either. He'll keep things together, at the very least, and may eliminate Triple H from the runnings. Chris Jericho; in case you missed the RAW Review, I LOVED the way they built Y2J at the end of the show. It not only boosted his stock and made him seem like more than just one half of the tag team champions, it threw a whole new variable into the outcome of this match. He feels like a legitimate challenger now, but I'm still betting against him. If there were ever a way to get the gold off of Triple H and onto Jericho, this would be it, but it's not gonna happen. Booker T; Probably the best bet in terms of challengers. I like his chances, especially after a strong couple weeks of build, but it might be rushing things to cash out his push this soon. Finally, Triple H; the most likely suspect. Come on, like he WOULDN'T jump at the opportunity to put himself over five of RAW's main event-level contenders at one time. I hope to god he loses, but I'm not counting on it. More to the contrary, actually. Trips is coming out on top here, but just barely.

Like I said, this could kick or suck. It's all up to a few variables to determine the fate of these six. Here's hoping for a great match, the fed could certainly use it.
Winner: Triple H


I'm more than a little upset to see Lance Storm and William Regal missing from this card, since they've been giving us something worth watching on RAW lately. But then again, I guess that whole "strike while the iron's hot" thing is overrated anyway. Or maybe they'll find themselves thrown onto the card at the last minute, and I'll be left looking like a tool. Either way, I'll find a way to carry on with my life. There are a few other faces I'd like to see on this card that have gone unnoticed, but for the most part the bases are covered here. This won't win any awards for "greatest PPV of all time", but it should be relatively solid. The good looks to outweigh the bad, so that's a good sign. And who knows, maybe Jeff Hardy and the Dudleys will come out and put on the match of their lives tonight, completely shoving my pessimism about their match back down my throat. I'd take it, anything to freshen things up a little.
until next time, i remain

Monday, November 11, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 11/11/02

I actually dug this week's show. There were certainly missteps and Victoria's character is falling like a rock, but this is a big step forward from the horrors of Katie Vick and the necrophelia contained therein.

Jericho / Christian and Kane / RVD started off incredibly slow, but once things started to lift off, it built to a sweet climax and wound up being a great opener for the program. I absolutely loved the way they played Jericho off last night, ruthless and focused. He's the kind of dominating heel they need in the main events, a guy I actually find worthy of holding the World Title. Triple H, unfortunately, I can't say the same for any longer. He's become so stagnant with that title, it's like an afterthought any more. Any wonder nobody buys the legitimacy of that gold strap? Anyway, good match that got enough time to tell the story it needed to. I'm not excited about Jericho and Christian breaking up so soon, but the way it was handled was ideal. Nobody loses any heat with a breakup like that.

Lance Storm and Jeff Hardy really clicked for the first two thirds of their match, with the last bit booked out the ass and surprisingly lazy and sloppy. Storm is just the kind of guy Jeff Hardy needs opposing him in the ring, a mat-based technical heel who knows how to take control of a match. He dictated the flow of that match, dominating the majority of the offense, and when the time came for Jeff to hit a big spot it actually meant something. Of course, there were some strange moments where the Canadian heel didn't really seem to know what to do with his opponent, but I'll let that slide on account of this is the first one-on-one meeting they've had in the ring. Give these guys a little time to get used to one another, something worth fighting over and a high profile slot on the show. You'll have a couple new faces at the top of the midcard.

I like the direction they're taking with Tommy Dreamer and the UnAmerican leftovers. Dreamer is the ideal scratching post, and these two have claws that need sharpening. Keep it up, I'm enjoying it.

I was hoping Terri would refuse to head out to the ring, so we could finally relieve ourselves of the horrid presence she brings to the show every week. Seriously, I'd rather watch Mark Henry than her. I'd rather see Viscera making a triumphant return to the ring than bear another few minutes of her horrifyingly altered body. I'd rather see MAE FREAKING YOUNG than... wait. No, I don't think there's anything that can make me clamor for more Mae. I guess Terri isn't that bad after all. Or maybe she's just not the single worst thing in WWE history. Though she's close...

Victoria should stick to the wrestling, and leave the acting in her past. She was already awful when they first gave her lines, and now they're trying to expand her theatrical portfolio?

Not sure why fans have been so unreceptive to Batista thus far. Last week we could blame it on the lame crowd, but this week's audience was red hot.. yet still nothing for TAFKA Leviathan. Maybe he looks too postured, or maybe we haven't been given a reason to care. I maintain that he'll get somewhere in the future, they've just got to find something that works for him... this whole Brock Lesnar v. 2.0 thing just isn't it.

I'm over the Three Minute Warning. Their moveset was cool once, interesting twice... but lame and overdone by now. They're slowing down as the enthusiasm dies and they dive into the midcard, and I still don't know which one is Rosey and which is Jamal. I'm impressed the red-haired one could get Bubba up for that altered samoan drop, but other than that I could've done without the match.

Man, that Nowinski / Snow match was odd. Nowinski's still a great heel, despite the slight need for some fine tuning, and really stands head and shoulders above Maven now. Of course, he's also had several months' worth of time to develop while Maven sat, injured on the sidelines. I still love the feud, it was just an off week for those involved.

Booker and Triple H had some good interaction backstage. I'm really happy to see them moving Booker away from the comedy act and more towards the aggressive, violent man he portrayed just after last year's Summerslam. The match was a step below what you'd expect, with neither guy really seeming to know when everybody would come barreling down the entryway. Of course, we get a kick-wham-pedigree conclusion (who saw THAT coming??), and then all hell breaks loose with the Elimination Chamber hard sell committee. There's certainly enough talent in there to make this one good, which is something they did their best to prove during RAW's final moments. And, lo and behold, just as I thought they were gonna close the show with Shawn Michaels' shaking ass once again, here comes Chris Jericho to finish things off the way that most made sense. What's that strange noise? It's applause, coming from my direction. That's what's called a bookend, folks. You start the show with an angle that promotes the upcoming PPV main event, and close it with the same angle. Chris Jericho looks like a legitimate challenger for the title now, and it only took like 5 minutes of programming time.

I legitimately enjoyed this one, and can't believe how far they've come in just under a month. Keep it up. PLEASE!

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 6.5

Monday, November 4, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 11/04/02

Man, we weren't even past the opening credits before I found something to whine about. I remember a few years ago, when Vince was still flaunting his "Attitude", that opening sequence was a thing of beauty. So many quick, subliminal flashes, so much to absorb. I swear to god, they changed that thing every week. It was the attention to detail that really made the product such a complete package, and I loved it... sometimes more than I loved the shows that played afterward. So I tune in tonight, and what's the first thing I see? A long shot of the Big Show. The Big Show. Uhhh... gang? Didn't we trade him to Smackdown two full weeks ago? Maybe I'm nitpicking, but it reads to me like the reason they're screwing up so many of the big things is because they've quit caring about all the little things.

The boys from the islands weren't half bad tonight. For that matter, neither was Jeff Hardy... though I can't believe that tard's still walking. Of all the bumps he took last night, 90% of them were on that little spot between his neck and upper back. Not really the way you want to land. I think he and Ric Flair are having some sort of competition, to see who can make the viewers wince and cover their eyes the most often in the span of one match.

You know, I've always enjoyed seeing Ivory in the ring. Once she got past that whole storyline where she'd carry a ribbon everywhere with her, she's been steadily impressive between the ropes. Take a look at the way she woke the crowd up with that nasty slap in Trish's face, then carried the entire weight of the match, up to the finish. She knows what she's doing, but unfortunately suffers the same shortcomings as Molly. She can make herself look good, and she can make her opponents look good... but whenever she's losing, it looks like she's trying to fall behind. She'll bust her ass to tear into an opponent, and then all of a sudden can't come up with a way to avoid a series of punches and a bulldog. Sure, I'd much rather see Ivory and Molly than Terri and Stacy, but a flaw is a flaw.

If they aren't careful, they're gonna turn Randy Orton face again before he returns. These "RNN Updates" are hilarious, and the crowd's starting to eat it up.

Holy shit, who lit a fire under Lance Storm and William Regal last night? After that less-than-inspiring Scott Steiner vignette had finished, these two absolutely opened up on poor Al Snow with some of the most believable offense I've seen in months. If you'd never seen good psychology in action before, this was your chance... Storm started off the party, bending Snow's leg the wrong way around the edge of the apron, and they never gave the guy a chance to rest afterwards. Shit, even my leg hurt after that match. Segment of the night goes to William Regal, for locking in a reverse chinlock, grabbing ahold of Snow's injured leg, and then quickly standing up. Al had to WORK to return to a vertical base that time, and Willie R. wasn't offering any help. Thumbs up all the way, I'll watch shit like that all night long. Could've asked for more in the way of a finish, but it's getting these two over as stiff, ruthless, Brainbuster-esque bastards and I love it.

Wow, all those weeks of build and the crowd was still dead for Batista's RAW debut. Then again, the crowd was dead for pretty much everybody else's intro, as well... not to mention their matches, and their outros. Come to think of it, this crowd was a pretty solid piece of shit from start to finish.

Booker T cut the best promo I've ever heard him utter last night, finally completing the look as a main eventer. I don't have any illusions about his role at Survivor Series, but it's nice to see that he's still got more in the tank than a few "Suckaas" and a Spinaroonie. And I finally got to see him use that "Don't hate the playa" line against Trips, which is something I'd been waiting for since he started saying it religiously in WCW. Good segment, despite Kane's goofy run down the entryway. I don't know what it is, but I laugh every time I see him trying to haul ass. He looks like a ninny.

OK, so can we trade Hurricane Helms back to Smackdown now? Preferably without the superhero character? He's steadily gone nowhere since jumping to Monday nights. Test's new 'do isn't as bad as I'd feared, and he's got a new finisher to boot. A particularly sinister looking one, at that. This "Testicle" angle might actually go somewhere.

Christian and RVD put on a nice little match. Same complaint I had with the Regal / Storm vs. Snow / Dreamer match, the finish seemed a little hurried. Otherwise we got some quality stuff, telling a less detailed story with the leg. King inadvertently made me snicker, as RVD went for the top rope, wondering "How can RVD move so fast with that hurt leg?!" My thoughts exactly...

Chris Nowinski kicks ass. That's all there is to it. I was really dry to the guy when he first started getting all that attention, but I've come around to him. Last night he was calm, he was in control, he didn't even start to panic when the crowd didn't take the bait right away, and sure enough... it paid off. That whole segment was gold, and it gave Maven a return the likes of which he probably didn't deserve. It wouldn't have made sense with anybody else, though, and the bald, black-browed TE1 champ played his role better than I expected. This feud's got money in it.

And the main event continued the trend, which is shaping up to be a theme for tonight, of decent matches with poor finishes. For the most part, the offense in this one was solid, with Booker T taking the credit for most of that. Then we get to the last minute of the match, and suddenly everybody forgets how to wrestle. Shawn Michaels is in for the Chamber, he's planning to walk away champion, yadda yadda. I'm glad to see the guy back, but I don't buy him as World Champ for a second. He may take Triple H out of the equation, though, which would be super good news for the World Title itself.

Actually a halfway entertaining show this week. The mentions of Ms. Vick were a bit too frequent for their own good, and the finishes needed some major work, but I'll take this over the show we got two weeks ago. I'm pleased to see progress.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.5

Monday, October 21, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 10/21/02

I just keep thinking the same thing, week in and week out. "It just can't get any worse than this." And bless them, those RAW writers just keep proving me wrong. Week in and week fucking out.

So let's see, what went down last night? Triple H flapped his gums, and Hurricane ran in for no particular reason. Seriously, what if Hurricane had run off with Triple H's tape and buried it somewhere in the hills of Tennessee? Sure, we'd have never been subjected to... yeah, that... but looking at this through the eyes of the storyline, it would've only made Kane seem that much guiltier in the long run. Let's see, Triple H comes out to the ring, tells us he's got a juicy video, Helms steals it forever. Boy, there must've been something on that video that the red guy didn't want us to see. I wonder if he would've... killed... to keep it out of the public eye? hmmmm...

OK, so we hear from Triple H about how he's the best thing for the company, about how he deserves to be where he is today, he EARNED it. And then he goes on to prove his point by squashing the living hell out of a guy who made a big jump to RAW less than a month ago, starring in the worst main event we've seen in years, ruining the angle that followed, and putting the viewing public through fifteen of the most embarrassing minutes EVER SHOWN ON TELEVISION. Way to hit it out of the park, booker-man. I know I'll never criticize you again.

Jeff Hardy and Christopher Nowinski seemed to be moving in slow motion last night. That, or they were wrestling underwater and I just wasn't made aware. Poor Jeff's woes continue, and I wonder if the guy will ever realize what it was that made him so exciting to watch all those years ago. It wasn't the retarded elephant paintings covering half his body, nor was it that goofy blacklight-sensitive powder he buries himself in pre-match. The next Shawn Michaels? More like the next Koko B. Ware.

Regal and Storm are still together, with their new tights. Storm's needed a new look for a while, even though I still didn't mind the black and red long tights. And meanwhile, Regal has completed his transformation to the Steven Regal of WCW. He's slapping people around when he wants to, he's going nowhere fast, he's stuck in a dead end tag team, and now he's playing the nationality card full time. I guess this has been the case for a couple weeks now, it just took the change in wardrobe for me to notice. The match was below what I'd expect from the two, with Spike of all people collecting the three count. Pretty cool how Regal sold the finish there, taking the bulldog, laying down for three and then immediately, casually rolling out of the ring and walking away as though nothing had happened. Storm wraps this deal up with the sissy-kick post match, missing Bubba's head by roughly three miles, but doing enough damage with the wind alone to knock the big man out. The Dudleys are doing nothing for me, and it won't be long before Storm is in the same boat, the way this division is headed. Why don't they just let him dominate the Intercontinental Title scene? He's like the poster boy for unused midcard greatness, and the IC belt is... ... ...shit.

I'll agree with the praise from previous reviewers, Chris Jericho and Christian totally nailed their promo Monday night. They've got that whole Edge & Christian vibe going, like they're two guys who really hang out when they're off camera, and have a blast doing so. That, and they get big time points for paying more attention to past storylines than the current writing team. I remember Trish on all fours, begging like a dog not too long ago. Damn, Trish IS a slut!

I missed Bischoff's speech, because I blinked. From what I've read, he promised a gimmick called the "Elimination Chamber." What's that, a match in a port-o-potty? Better yet, maybe they'll break out "Kennel in a Cell" again, and force the guys to fight in the area between cages, nasty piles of dog shit and all. "Elimination Chamber" indeed... just break out the War Games and get it over with!

Test and D'Lo met, assuring us that one guy would finally stop his "We Seriously Don't Hold a Grudge. Seriously." losing streak. I think, combined, these guys have lost something like fifteen hundred matches in the last year and a half. I don't have a problem with pairing Stacey with Test. Neither of them were going anywhere on their own, so let the kids have fun. Kudos to Test, for catching some major league air during D'Lo's powerbomb. That thing just looked vicious.

Honestly, what was it with the homosexual innuendos last night? First we have Booker T, threatening to give Chris Jericho an "injection of Vitamin T, right up his ass." Then, less than an hour later, we get Kane threatening to beat up and / or kill Triple H on the side of the road, before "playing the game" from behind. Not that it's an entirely new path, considering Rocky's past fascination with anal violations, but it's still something that caught me as very disturbing.

The mixed tag was pretty much decent. I honestly thought Trish was going to snap in half when Y2J locked her in to the Walls. She was bending in all sorts of ways I'd never expect to be humaly possible. Pretty gruesome. I'm in agreement with Corey, it's great to see a heel team that can actually hold their own for a change, and win matches without breaking the rules every step of the way.

Oh yeah, and I guess there was some sort of video package airing last night, as well. I hope Hunter dies. I hope he gets ebola from handling the raw meat they used to simulate Katie Vick's brains, and dies. And I hope Kane really does violate his rotting corpse. Twenty minutes of my life I'm never going to get back. Inexcusable, and roughly twenty times worse than anything WCW ever did. I'd take David Arquette's championship run over this. I'd take the Black Scorpion in favor of this. Hell, I'd watch the Giant fall from a twenty story building over and over again before I'd agree to watch this slop again. Never have I ever been so embarrassed to be a wrestling fan, and considering some of the muck I've waded through, that says one HELL of a lot. Fuck you, WWE. Fuck you in the asshole with a rubber dildo.

With the audience sufficiently shell-shocked, the program attempted to move on from there.

Al Snow doesn't have it anymore. There, I've said it. I LOVED the guy when he debuted, and again when he had the potential angle of the year with Rocky right on his doorstep some time ago. This isn't the same guy. He doesn't look like he gives a crap in the ring, and his character on the outside is dull. Sorry to see it happen.

Far and away the brightest moment of the night was Shawn Michaels, and his WWE New York (err... The World) promo. Simply put, classic HBK. Michaels at his best, giving the fans what they want to see and shouting what they want to hear. Great, great television.

And then the main event had so much wrong with it, I won't even try to start a list. Let's just say it was, at least, a step up from the previous Triple H segment and leave it at that.

In conclusion... holy hell. When I was growing up, I read the comic book Spawn almost religiously. Spawn was my absolute favorite character, and I was a die-hard fan. I bought everything with his face on it. I saw the movie, I collected the toys, I purchased every issue of the comic book the very day they were released. My collection numbered well into the hundreds. I collected this book for YEARS, and then one day I realized what I was reading. The writing sucked balls, and had for quite some time. I was buying it for the habit of buying it, and nothing more. About two years ago, I quit buying Spawn. I went cold turkey. I sold much of the merchandise I'd bought, but I still have my unbroken string of comic books, sitting, unread for years, in a box in my bedroom. The owner, in his anxiousness to market the character, overlooked what had attracted people there in the first place. He killed his core audience, and has been suffering ever since.

I just hope, some day, I don't look next to my TV and see a bunch of old WWE videos, sitting untouched for years, as a result of this. There was a moment when I honestly sat and debated with myself. Why am I even watching this? What's keeping me here? I've been watching wrestling for almost sixteen years, and not once has a single storyline forced me to ask myself that question. Things need to shape the fuck up.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 1

Sunday, October 20, 2002

The World's Greatest WWE No Mercy 2002 Preview

So, yeah, remember Summerslam? You should, it was only two months ago... then again, I don't blame you for overlooking it, because this month's PPV has about a tenth of the anticipation and excitement going in as the big SS did less than sixty days ago. It's amazing how a writing staff can do something so well, and then follow up by doing everything else so poorly. Kane / Triple H would've been a halfway entertaining main event without the storylines surrounding it. The intrigue of a new face in the women's divison and Victoria's notable athleticism would've been more than enough to carry that match without a silly "she stepped on me" drama thrown in. Brock and the Undertaker could give us the match (and CLEAN FINISH) we were hoping for last month, without a broken hand / adultery gimmick. Sometimes it's best just to let a soap opera remain a soap opera, and to let a wrestling program remain a wrestling program. Seeing as how the live audience booed RAW's top angle out of the building, I think it's safe to say they aren't drawing in any new buyers with these kinds of storylines.

Victoria vs. Trish Stratus
Women's Championship

This one should actually be much better than it has any right to be. Trish has improved by leaps and bounds since her debut in the ring (and subsequent title reign), and while she's not quite good enough to be carrying title matches on her own, Victoria seems more than capable of picking up the slack here. I'm sorry to see Molly up and vanish from the division, but with only one reigning face on the roster, there's only so many times you can pair up the same heel with her before things get repetitive and boring. It's also too bad they dropped the mentor thing they had going with Ms. Holly and Victoria, as that had much stronger legs than this whole "I'm the little person she stepped on as she climbed to the top" deal we've got going on now. But that's the direction we seem to be heading with the booking right now... the whole 'face from the past' thing... so I guess I'll have to take what I can get.

If there's one thing I'm damn sure of, it's the fact that I'm much happier watching Trish and Victoria, two women who can put on an exciting match without brutalizing the eyes, than I am watching Sherri Martel and Alundra Blayze. The women's division has come a long way, and I've gotta applaud it for that. Let's just hope nobody gets hurt, as Victoria's been slightly sloppy since her debut. It'll be fun, if kept relatively short. I'm thinking Victoria looks much stronger here, but I'm also thinking Trish has a money feud with Jazz coming up upon her return, so it's a tough one to call. Let's take a risk and go with the new chick. She can always drop the strap before December.
Winner: Victoria looks a lot like Victorious

Booker T & Goldust vs. Christian & Chris Jericho
World Tag Team Championship

On paper, this one looks really good. Almost a fanboy's wet dream (if you leave out Goldust, or replace him with Benoit or Angle, or somebody.) Booker and Jericho are two guys pegged by everyone except the bookers as the future of the sport, with Christian just a few steps behind them. Meanwhile, Goldust remains inexplicably over and continues his trend of wedging his way into matches involving guys with ridiculous amounts of talent. While I don't see he and Booker as tag team championship material, they do have this bizarre sort of chemistry together that keeps the team functional despite the difference between characters. However, their matches don't flow much... or... at all, and therein lies the problem wit this match.

With Christian dogging it in the ring since his jump to RAW, and Jericho coming off a string of the best matches he's wrestled in years, there's going to be a big hot & cold element here. Or, if things continue for the team the way they did Monday, a distinct cold & cold element. And again, if they pick up where they left off at TLC two weeks ago, an untouchable hot & hot element. You get the idea. Straight up, this team sucked balls Monday night, when they walked away tag team champions. They didn't look like a team that should even tag together regularly, let alone a team that should be walking away with some gold. So, let's put it this way; if Y2J and Christian come to play later this evening, this one could potentially blow the roof off the place and solidify them as legit tag champions.Then again, if they make sucking balls a regular gig, this could stink up the arena and further tarnish one of the two men's belts left on RAW. I'd wager that no matter which direction Jericho and Christian choose to take this, Booker and Goldust won't be far behind. They're just as variable as their opponents, ready to kick ass if the other guys want to, or willing to suck ass if the opponents choose to follow that route.

Neither team should be competing here, but then again neither should Kane & Hurricane. I'm taking the Canadians to retain.
Winners: Chris & Christian

Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson

I'll be honest, I haven't been paying attention to this feud. They're both hot, let's just leave it at that. Forget everything we saw about Torrie's wrinkly-ass dad, this is here to fill the T&A quota of the night, since the Women's match seems to be concentrating more on actual wrestling. I could do without it, but I won't complain. I mean, it could be worse. We could be seeing Teri's skanky, 65-year-old ass out there trying to look sexy again.
Winner: Dawn Marie, because I dig brunettes

Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair

Hoo, boy. It must suck to be Rob Van Dam right now. One minute you're in the main event, this close to winning the World Title, and the next a whole month has passed and at the last moment you've been thrown into a match against a guy whose style is like the polar opposite of your own. I like both guys as individuals, but this one is gonna be ugly. I thought we'd already determined that these two were as incompatible as they come, when they first met in a tag match the night after Unforgiven. Memories of Flair trying to maintain his bearings and horribly botching a monkey flip spring immediately to mind. Now, don't get me wrong... a mat wrestler can most certainly put on a good to great match with a high flying risk taker. It's just not freaking likely when the mat wrestler is a rapidly aging Ric Flair and the risk taker is Rob Van Dam.

I said it last month, and I'll say it again this month (and next month, and the month after that, and as long as they're willing to keep putting him in the ring), they need to get the Nature Boy out of the ring entirely. He's doing nothing for the product by slapping on those tights, and the only thing he's doing for himself is tarnishing that legendary status. It's becoming more and more sad to see him in there each week, seeing his brilliant, tactical mind starting to falter, and his once-iron body betraying him at nearly every step. Please, just stop the suffering. Give him one last match, against someone who can give him a last match worth remembering, and then retire him forever.

This feud won't advance either man, and after this month RVD will be completely out of the picture as far as Triple H is concerned. RVD gets the nod, but at what cost?
Winner: Rob Van Dam

Benoit and Angle vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio, Jr.
WWE Tag Team Championship Tournament Finals

This is your show stealer, right here. Talk about four guys who have been absolutely on fire over the last month. These four, teamed with the Guerreros, are the major reason Smackdown is widely regarded as the better show, and I don't think I'll ever get any sort of argument in making that statement, either. The tension between Benoit and Angle have been played out almost perfectly over the last month, with Thursday being the perfect way for them to head into the PPV. Along those same lines, Edge and Rey have worked well enough together, merging their unique styles, and are already set up for a feud with Eddy and Chavo upon their victory in this match. Likewise, Benoit and Angle are a powder keg, set to blow when one man loses this match for the other and finally turns one full heel and one full face. It's extremely easy booking to predict, but it doesn't make it any less interesting, or less exciting to see unfold. Sometimes I'd trade all the surprises in the world, ever major turn in a main event, for the ease and tradition of an angle allowed to follow its own natural course. Look at MMA; sure, you get your fair share of surprises and upsets, but the majority of the time there's a guy who deserves to win and a guy who deserves to lose. You don't get people stringing opponents along, in an intricate plot not even a Hollywood producer could follow. You get two guys who want to beat the shit out of each other, and one guy who's likely to win. Sometimes I wish pro wrestling would realize that's where the excitement is. We can only suspend our disbelief so far.

Whoah, I got off track. Benoit and Angle have both proven they can work an excellent match with Rey Rey, and Angle's put on clinics with Edge in the past. The only real variable here is how well Benoit will take to Edge, and I don't think that's much of an issue in and of itself, considering how good these two have been across the board over the last six months. I already revealed my choice for the end of this match a bit above; I'd be surprised if we didn't see Benoit locking in a crossface on the Olympian, or Angle trapping the Wolverine in an ankle lock before it all ends. Edge and Rey are picking up the win, and moving on to a match with the team that deserved to be in this match, Eddy and Chavo.
Winners: Edge & Rey Mysterio, Jr.

World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Intercontinental Champion Kane
Champion vs. Champion; Winner Take All

iUf! For those who don't "habla espa?ol", iUf! is Spanish for "What the hell is the WWE thinking, writing a feud between two heavyweights that centers not around the physicality of the match, but instead on Kane's history of fucking dead bodies???" Those wacky Spanish, how they can condense such an intricate, detailed message into just two short letters and a set of exclamation marks, I'll never know.

Honest to god, what the hell. Is it not blatantly obvious how much the audience despises this angle? Has it ever occurred to the writers that maybe, just maybe, there should be a few subjects that they write off as simply not acceptable for a wrestling storyline? Not because they push the envelope, but because they're seriously uneasy subjects that have nothing to do with attracting potential viewers and everything to do with embarrassing the core audience. There are only a few times I've been more embarrassed to be watching RAW than I was this past Monday. Remember that time the entire Alliance came out, and starting singing to Stone Cold? That was one of them. This shit should be immediately retired, written off as a dream sequence and stricken from the record faster than Andre the Giant's World Title reign prior to Wrestlemania IV.

Seriously, look at this. I'm so intense in my hatred about the angle that I can't even be bothered to comment on the match itself. Kane's lost some weight, as has Triple H. This still won't be that good. It won't even be in the same LEAGUE as a match to retire the Intercontinental Title should be. Kick, wham, pedigree, sledgehammer, corpses coming from below the ring to deliver their own, semen-drenched pedigree, whatever. Hoss or no, Kane's not winning this one.
Winner: Dribble Aitch

Brock Lesnar vs. the Undertaker
WWE Championship; Hell in a Cell

Why's this one in the cell again? Any particular reasoning behind that? No? Didn't think so. Sure, they could've actually made HIAC mean something here, by giving Lesnar a tainted victory thanks to Heyman's help last month. They could've put the thing to use for the very reason it was constructed in the first place, to keep one guy's cronies from coming into the ring and ruining another match for the Undertaker. But nah, this was all Steph's idea. Marketing genius that she is, she's decided that this match will take place in the infamous cube of misery AND (get this!!) THE UNDERTAKER WILL BE ALLOWED TO WEAR HIS CAST! Oh, holy god, hold me back. That decision's ramifications haven't even begun to sink in yet.

You know what I'd like to see here? A taste of honest-to-goodness, old school cage match psychology. You know, the kind of matches they had where one guy was guaranteed to leave a bloody mess, and the other guy would be doing a stretcher job? The kind of cage matches they had before the WWE decided it was much more exciting to watch guys step through the door than it was to watch them scale the cage. I'd like to see a Hell in a Cell match where the participants actually stay inside the cage. No matter what the outcome, if these two try to keep up with the tradition that is HIAC this match will be doomed to fail. They can't do it. Not even an F5 on the top (which would, admittedly, be pretty cool) would hold water next to the kind of shit that Mick Foley and Shawn Michaels have done. Their only chance here is to break all the preconceived notions people have about HIAC matches, and begin their own legacy inside the steel. They need to give us a solid match, not a spot-fest. They need to use the cage intelligently and creatively. But more importantly, they need to tie it all together with a solid match and a clean finish. If they can do that, which is admittedly a huge task, they're golden. Otherwise, file this next to "Kennel in a Cell" or "Bossman in a cell" at WMXV.
Winner: Brock Lesnar


Despite the horrendous booking filling 75% of the card, a few lucky breaks could make this a somewhat decent PPV after all. The Black Gold / Canadians match has potential to be much better than expected, if Jericho can get Christian off his ass again, Trish and Victoria might be good, Brock / Taker might be interesting, and of course the Smackdown tag match should rip the house down. If the writers realize how badly their work is failing, the next month might yet be salvageable, but it's still a little too early to be making predictions about that one. Especially considering how much Vince likes to shove more of the same down our throats after a vocal displeasure with the product. We'll see.
until next time, i remain

Monday, October 14, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 10/14/02

Bless their hearts, they're trying. They sure as hell aren't succeeding, but they're trying. RAW was a trainwreck last night. Plain and simple. A few segments had promise going in, but just failed to deliver for one reason or another. May as well just start in at the top...

The program opened up on an up note, showing us the team of Y2J and Christian wasn't just a one-shot deal. These guys could have promise, if they aren't pigeonholed into the 'loser with a gold belt' category previously occupied by the UnAmericans. Why is it so difficult to come up with a compelling storyline that involves people disliking one another and fighting to resolve their differences? I mean, it ain't Shakespheare. You've pretty much got the basics of a storyline laid out for you... you've got the finish line, all you have to do is start somewhere and let the story do its thing.

Here's where I'd be bitching about how everybody involved in the opening match, besides the Hurricane, mailed in their performances last night. On one hand, the other three have legitimate reason to be taking it a little easy, after a tremendous TLC match last week. On the other, this is a TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH. It's one of three titles left on the program. It should mean a little something more than what we got. These guys looked so sloppy and carefree, you would've thought they were wrestling in the heightened elevation of Denver again. But the end result is new tag team champions, guys who can't even pin a cruiserweight without using the ropes. Great. Better start counting the profits right now, boys.

Storm and Snow picked up right where Jericho, Kane and Christian left off, giving us another match that went about nowhere. Al Snow has given us two subpar performances in as many weeks now, and I'm starting to wonder why he's being booked as a more important face than most of the other guys on the roster. I like the guy a lot, and I think he's got the skills and personality to go far if he wants to... he just hasn't wanted to in the last three years. Don't reward him for that. The same goes for Lance Storm, who was surprisingly off last night. I usually love the guy's work in the ring, but that match just left a bad taste in my mouth. Let's get rid of these three minute nothing matches, give him twenty minutes and a meaty, physical feud to work with, and then see if he's still as boring. On the positive side, William Regal was entertaining on the microphone for the minute he was back there, actually acting like a human being and walking out when JR and Lawler started poking fun at him. I'd have done the same thing.

Victoria is a poor actress. Keep her in the ring, where her actions can overpower her words, and she's got a damn fine chance.

Though the character he's portraying is tired, overplayed and undeserving of the title, I've got to admit Triple H delivers the most professional promos in the business. And no, I'm not referring to the whole ordeal with Kane and the corpse sex. Hell, I don't think Gordon F'ing Solie could've saved that monstrosity. His backstage segment with Ric Flair, moments after his match with RVD was announced, was as solid as they come. I've got to give him credit where it's due, after giving him shit every other day of the year.

Jeff Hardy beat Rico. Okay, why did we see that? Aren't matches supposed to mean something on the show before a PPV? You could've heard a pin drop when Eric Bischoff announced this match moments earlier. Given a good direction, Rico could really take off in the next year, but with those horrid Lash LeRoux sideburns, that leopard-skin outfit and that homoerotic theme music, he's going south faster than Trish Stratus at a Diva recruitment fair. (ohhh!! and I even tied it in with the show!! yes! yes!)

I refuse to comment on the Kane / HHH segment, and hope it goes away without mention, the same way the Big Show's feud with the Bossman did two years ago. How the hell do they think this is selling PPV buys?

OK, so now not only is the Hurricane ineffective in the ring and a pussy backstage, but he's also extremely unimportant to his tag team partner. And he jumped to RAW why, exactly? I'll give the guy all the credit in the world, he's trying his best to make this work. He was the only guy inspired throughout the opening tag bout, his attention to detail is a treat (instance; whenever he tags Kane into the ring, he holds his arm for a few moments afterwards, selling the ferocity of his partner's tag..), and he can really go between the ropes when moveset limitations aren't crippling him. Yet, he still sits in a gimmick that's run completely dry... going nowhere. Talk about a poster boy for what's wrong with the WWE right now.

Molly's new haircut looks like shit.

The Pat Patterson segment was actually really well done. They read that crowd to perfection, allowing him to speak French until Bischoff cut him off in his own, inimitably condescending manner. The fans didn't give two shits about him when he came into the ring, but when he left, it was as a hero. This worked so well, it's a shame to see it surrounded by meaningless storyline advancement. The Three Minute Warning was predictable, of course, as was the injury to Patterson, considering the track record of the Islanders... but I'm willing to overlook that. One of the few successful segments on the whole show.

Shit, even Tommy Dreamer, probably the most consistent player on RAW over the last few months, looked like crap last night. The match sucked, the finish was lame, and the end result blew.

I really wish they hadn't rushed Randy Orton's heel turn like that. The thing that was so cool about this slow burn was watching as bits and pieces of the general assembly slowly got the idea that this guy was a turd, and turned on him subsequently. Those NFL History-style vignettes were absolutely perfect... especially this week's. And then they just toss out the full scale turn this week, during his last appearance for several months. Sure, they did it in a way that got the guy instantly over, but is anyone going to remember that when he comes back?

Could've done without the Booker / Big Show match, even though it gave us the funniest moment on RAW in months. Mark already pointed it out on the forums, (and repeated my commentary from last night! ohhh!!!! bitch!!!) but I'll go ahead and cover the ground for anyone who doesn't frequent our populated boards of bulletin. Watching Triple H scoot by, almost unnoticed, in the background of the match was funny enough. That he was driving a forklift in full wrestling gear while Ric Flair directed traffic made it absolutely, ridiculously, hilarious. I wish they'd have just let the whole thing go by without a mention, never tying it in to anything later in the program. That was the only redeemable portion of the match. Despite the fact that everything backstage was blatantly pre-taped, they couldn't manage to edit out a clear shot of Chris Jericho, with chair, standing outside of the women's restroom as Booker and Wight fought their way through the door. Great production, guys.

And the main event I'd rather forget about. The gimmick totally killed this match, with Jericho being the only one to come out of it looking any better than he did before. Y2J was great, barking orders outside the ring and just getting his face in the middle of everything at any opportunity. Why couldn't Coach have just moved the forklift after he asked Triple H what it was doing there? Does one have to weigh upwards of 300 pounds to set such a device into motion? Maybe the levers were rusted, so only a pro wrestler could activate it. Whatever.

The crowd went apeshit for the full-scale run in, and Kane's warpath afterwards. Maybe this whole "I do dead people" thing actually worked. Or maybe they were applauding the end of the show. Or maybe they just really, really hate D'Lo and Kane was trying to turn him improptu heel by chokeslamming him to end the segment.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 1.75