Monday, September 30, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 09/30/02

Good god. They might as well just switch the theme music, alter the set design, change TNN's third initial to a 'T', and wheel out the steel "WCW" right now, because last night's program resembled Nitro a helluva lot more than it did RAW. You've got a champion nobody wants to see, running the promotion into the ground with political clout. You've got Booker T, SCREAMING for elevation, but to no avail. You've got Chris Jericho putting on a clinic both in and out of the ring, yet doing nothing to shake that perception as a tiny man in a big boy's sport. You've got Eric Bischoff in charge, playing a solid character on screen but eating up a lot of TV time. Rookies are blowing their spots, under extreme pressure to deliver the goods after less than a month under the RAW lights. The beautiful women are there, but they aren't really doing anything to aid the program. The booking sucks balls, contradicts itself after just one week, hands out turns like candy and is anything but believable. Good god, I could go on like this for hours.

If they're trying to make the RAW brand into the next wave of the WCW Invasion, as I have a feeling they might be, they're doing a damn good job of it. They're also doing one helluva job setting themselves (and the fans) up for a major league disappointment once again. It's like they're dropping this entire show into the toilet, just to ensure nobody ever gets the idea that somebody could do something better than a McMahon. I can't believe I'm even entertaining that notion, but the fact remains: NOBODY can book this badly without trying to.

But I'm letting myself hyperventilate. Let's just go down the line.

The way they handled the whole Booker T homecoming was a textbook example of what you don't do in somebody's hometown, least of all a talent that's on the verge of arriving in the main event. Not only did they kill the assuredly massive pop his entrance would have gathered by jump-starting the match right away, but they booked him to lose in an embarrassing fashion and never gave fans the retribution they so desperately desired. Handled correctly, using a talent properly in their home town can send them three or four rungs up the ladder in one fell swoop. A perfect example was Chris Benoit, taking on Steve Austin on Smackdown in Edmonton last year. Though Benoit lost, he was treated as a serious threat the entire match. Fans hung on his every move, and the electricity of the live audience was shot into homes throughout the nation thanks to their television sets. People who may not have thought twice about Benoit prior to the show suddenly took a closer look, thanks to the energy of that crowd. Despite being obscenely biased in Benoit's favor, they convinced fans nationwide that he was the next big thing. And, sure enough, The Crippler was subsequently cheered like a genuine phenomenon from that moment on.

Had Booker been treated with that same amount of respect, had he been afforded the posturing of an epic, lengthy introduction, had he just WON THE MATCH, those fans would have absolutely erupted. They wanted to, so, so badly. But they never got the chance, and I fear RAW lost a crucial moment by not taking advantage of the opportunity. A big thumbs down, especially considering the Island Boys aren't ready to be walking away with wins of that proportion just yet.

Orton and Storm gave me hope early, exchanging blows with a few impressive early sequences. And goddamned if Lance Storm didn't start to show some emotion in the ring, shouting at his opponent, slapping him around and actually acting like a heel. It seemed to be a step in the right direction, until that whole nonsense with Orton going over half of the UnAmericans all by himself. Why didn't they just make it a four-on-one elimination handicap match? Orton vs. Storm, Christian, Regal and Test. That way, they could have buried the entire stable at once, and they wouldn't have had to devote more than one segment to it.

Despite their treatment over the last month, I felt the UnAmericans could still have been salvaged, given a little time away from the cameras, a fresh attitude, a winning streak and perhaps a new leader in Chris Jericho. Forget all that, as advancing the career of Randy Orton at their expense is obviously a higher priority now. I don't mind Orton at all, I think he's got potential if he can get his moveset solidified, but nobody should go over your former tag champs like that. Not Spike Dudley, not Randy Orton, not Kane, not Brock freaking Lesnar. Absolutely nobody should be put over that strong.

Jeff Hardy won. I actually had no problem with this match. It's these kind of squashes that keep the Show from becoming a complete joke, and you need somebody like him around so you can hammer home the toughness of somebody like Kurt Angle or Chris Benoit when they mechanically take him apart. Jeff wasn't going anywhere before this match and he didn't blow his spots, so he didn't slide down the ladder much further here. And the finishing bump was grotesque enough to merit the countout finish. I know if I weighed upwards of six hundred pounds, fell over a bannister and landed with my full weight on the top of my head, I'd want to lie down for a minute, too. Kudos to the Big Show for taking the bump, and negative kudos right back for looking like a goof, prancing across the ring with goofy hair after the match had ended.

I missed the Bubba Ray / Triple H match, due to explosive diarrhea. I kid you not. If I had to miss wrestling because of a problem with my ass, you better believe it was NASTAY. No points, positive or negative, on this one.

Victoria's a helluva good worker. These gals put on a match that shamed everything that took place beforehand. It wasn't a five star, run to the VCR, save-it-cause-this-was-history-right-here classic, but it was solid for what it was. No botched spots, and Victoria came off it looking like a serious threat. Unfortunately, Jazz is going to look like even MORE of a serious threat when she returns, since she has a history of dominating that division, so I'm afraid the new girl might get lost in the shuffle. Maybe the division needs another credible face, since everybody's storyline in the last two years has been some variation of "OMG GET TRISH".

Regal and Test put on the best match of the night against RVD and Dreamer. The ending and aftermath was more overbooked than I would have liked, but it's worth it just to see Regal motivated once again. And, of course, afterwards the UnAmericans had a hissy fit. It's too bad when good angles get poisoned like that.

Finally, Chris Jericho and Kane gave us a match not totally worthy of the main event slot, but good all the same. Nice to see somebody slowing down from the regular rotation of "spot - rest hold - spot - rest hold - false finish - finish". They told a nice story with Kane's leg, although he seemed to have forgotten about it by the end of the match, and gave us a couple nice reversals and near-finishes. Plus, I'm a big fan of the ringpost figure four, so you've gotta know I was digging that.

Here's where I've got a problem. When Ric Flair comes down to the ring and goes out of his way to help Chris Jericho, despite the fact the two had a HEATED rivalry about eight days ago. What, are we just supposed to forget about all that, because Triple H is involved now? Ric Flair's character means exactly shit to me right now, and coming from a lifelong fan of the Nature Boy, that's a horrible thing to have to say. He needs time off, a big angle to come back on and a big win to end his career with. That's it. He's not going to add anything to Triple H with this association, nor is Trips gonna do anything for him. It's useless, worthless, nonsensical and unnecessary. I don't think I can say anything more about it...

I've gone on long enough. There were a few glimmers of goodness in this mess, if you looked closely enough, but on the whole this was one of the lousiest two hours I've ever endured.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 2

Monday, September 23, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 09/23/02

I guess things could've become progressively worse. What I saw last night, thankfully, was an acknowledgement of a couple of the most serious problems that have been plaguing the WWE for months, coupled with steps toward eliminating them. Triple H's presence on camera last night was notably smaller, for starters. Instead of peeking his head into every segment, even those that were in no way related to his character, he was used sparingly and effectively. He didn't even speak, which garners some big time points from yours truly. For the first time since his return, I didn't mind seeing him. And, in following with that bandage, we got a couple new additions to the thin RAW roster and a big time cease and desist order regarding the almost nonstop jumps from Monday to Thursday and vice versa. While Hurricane Helms and Randy Orton don't have much of a niche to climb directly into, we'll at least get to see a fresh body in the ring from time to time, and they'll get an opportunity to become players on a show that really needs them right now.

Easy E was intently focused on becoming a heel last night, of which he did a decent job. The crowd welcomed him with warm applause, but Bisch turned on them quickly. If they had any questions about the direction of his character, those were all cleared up when he sicced his dogs on Booker T, perhaps the biggest face on the show. Even Rosie and Jamal, who had been cheered because of their powerful offense, despite repeated attempts to prove they weren't good guys, finally broke through as heels following the beatdown on Book. They've got a lot of material they can chew on here, with Eric arguably holding Booker down in WCW, and if they do it right, this could be the rocketship to superstardom the former Harlem Heater has needed for months. The real telling moment about how serious they are with this will come next week, in his home town. For once, the stars look to have aligned just right, and I really think this is gonna work. Eric's full turn was quite successful this week, and if he keeps playing the role to perfection while Booker just says the right things and wins the right matches, we've got something. I just hope they get him away from the tag division, because he's ready to fly solo.

I'll take Orton, I guess. I was hoping for someone along the lines of Batista, someone with a big physique and a few big time power moves that can get over immediately and start to make an impact in that new environment. But we'll settle for Randy Orton, and the slow ascention he's got ahead of him. His match with Richards, probably the most underspoken worker on RAW, wasn't anything to write home about until the last minute, what with the dozen nearfalls and cool frogsplash / crossbody finisher. I guess it's like JR said; if he stays healthy and continues to work well and improve in the ring, fans will eventually come around. They've just got to stay firm behind his push, because any sort of wavering or uncertainty will kill him dead before he's even off the runway.

Man, did that concert suck. Interesting how, just after the band played, JR said something like "I don't think people are interested in my taste of music. That's not gonna sell tickets." I think he was talking about more than his own taste there...

I'll agree with Corey, it's cool to see Jericho winning matches cleanly again, but last night's match was a throwaway. Goldust hasn't been doing anything for me since The Rock kept telling him to "stop touching yourself!" He used to be a cutting edge character, believably getting into his opponents' minds and evolving logically. Now he's just there for comedy relief, and he doesn't really care about what he's doing any more. Give me back my Hennig. And, lord oh lord, did they REALLY mention his "Hollywood Backlot Brawl" with Roddy Piper on WWE television? Oh, my god, talk about a dark hour. I was hoping I'd never remember that match.

Hurricane as Kane's partner makes as much sense as anyone, I suppose. The similarities in their gimmicks are cute, but I can see myself getting tired of them relatively quickly. The Hurricane character works in this instance, but I'd really like to see them drop it after his partnership with the Big Red Machine comes to a close. I'm just sick of it, and that mask / green hair combo looks... bad. Really bad. The time was right to get the gold off the UnAmericans, unfortunately, since they've been treading water since winning the damn things and nobody bought them as legitimate competitors any more. Thank the booking crew for that one. Jeez, they screwed up an angle this easy, and I maintain optimism that they can pull off Booker / Bischoff? I must've forgotten to take my medication.

The main event was all the proof we need that they should've let Ric retire the night Y2J arrived on RAW. He's only embarassing himself out there now, going through the motions and watching his own body betray him. It's sad to watch. Otherwise, the main event was all you could ask for. confirmed what Corey suspected, Bubba messed up his shoulder at some point last night, but I was more concerned with Triple H. That fall through the corner off the table was absolutely nasty, and he was visibly stunned in the moments after. I don't like the guy, but I certainly don't want to see him hurt on national TV again. RVD provided probably one of the best cover jobs I've seen, but the spot was still obviously botched to everybody whose eyes were open at the time.

Unlike last week, when I felt almost depressed after the program, I felt a twitch of hope this week, like somebody in the window office finally realized what's been going on and took charge of the situation. The problems are being addressed, and the program benefitted immediately from that. I'll give it an 'average' rating."

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 5

Sunday, September 22, 2002

The World's Greatest WWE Unforgiven 2002 Preview

Words can't describe how flabbergasted I am at the current state of affairs in the WWE. Words simply cannot describe. How does a company go from as bright a shiny spot as Summerslam portrayed down to the slummy hunk of arse we've got for Unforgiven? Of course, that's not to say this pay per view couldn't deliver multiple stupendous matches.. actually, quite to the contrary, but even if it does give us what we want in the ring, would that even mean anything? A month has passed by, and almost nothing outside of Billy & Chuck has advanced in terms of character and storyline development. It feels like we should still be recovering from the last PPV, and it's all of a sudden time for the next. Did you forget Unforgiven was coming up this Sunday? Because the bookers apparently did.

Kane, Bubba Ray, Goldust & Booker T & vs. The Un-Americans

Shit, how does Goldust keep getting thrown into these huge, 20-man tag matches full of guys who actually know what they're doing in the ring? Seriously, take a look back at all the 6-or-more man tag matches he's been involved with. You'll be apalled.

So here we are. The UnAmericans are losing more and more steam every week, with the blame lying solely on the booking team for jobbing them in every conceivable fashion every week on RAW. Remember when they jumped from Smackdown? How there was all this hype behind them , how you actually thought the angle would mean something with the lack of talent on Monday nights? How Jericho jumped on the very same night, pretty much simultaneously telling us that YES, he WOULD be ascending to the role of leader of the Canadian stable? Damn, that would've been somethin'. Somethin' about twelve times as interesting, fresh, redeeming and exciting as what we've got.

I guess, at the very least, Bradshaw's not involved. Not that I care that much more about Bubba Ray. I despised Dusty Rhodes when his name meant anything besides poor booking, and I despise seeing the gimmick recycled, but at least the Dudley knows how to sell from time to time.

Alright, so we've got Kane, Booker, Storm, Christian, Regal and potentially Test pounding out the match itself if they want to, and Bubba / Goldust just there to round out the number of participants. There should be a scrap of heat left in the crowd, so this could be watchable. Let's wait and see.

If the UnAmericans job out here, the WWE is crazy as hell. These guys need a win, and they need it in convincing manner.
Winners: The UnAmericans

Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus

About two months ago, the women's division was going strong... and then they just completely cut it out of every broadcast, in favor of "risque, cutting edge entertainment" like the 'tar and feather Terri's skanky ass' match, the 'throw Trish from the entryway into mud' match, and the 'watch now as two women make out' match. I guess, as long as we're pissing all over the blood, sweat and tears of Molly, Jazz and (god bless her for busting her ass and improving) Trish, why not make this one a 'loser makes out with Michael Cole in a hot tub' match?

Trish has been chasing Molly for about three years now, so I guess it's about time for her to grab the title again. I'm counting the days until Jazz comes back and just stiffs the ever-lovin' shit out of her again. Now that's entertainment.
Winner: Trish

Eddy Guerrero vs. Edge

They've done a good job here of keeping the animosity strong on-air, building Edge as a serious singles star and portraying Eddy as the psychotic dickhead he plays so well. They've been active in the ring with one another, Eddy's remained visibly angered by his loss at Summerslam to the "pretty boy", and the match actually does mean something. Damned if Edge's sick blade job on the last Smackdown didn't prove that Eddy's serious about this thing. It didn't look too bad until Guerrero lifted his head to resume the beating, and then it suddenly just poured down his face like a river of crimson glory. Good stuff.

Gory details aside, this was one of the brightest spots of Summerslam, with one exception. The wrong guy went over. Eddy deserved the win last month, and he's downright begging for it this time. I don't care if Chavo has to run in and distract the Canadian, I want to see this end with a frog splash.
Winner: Eddy Guerrero

Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho

Flair really is a shadow of his former self, which is saying a whole hell of a lot, since his 'former self' was in reality nothing more than a shadow of the Nature Boy during his prime. Which would make the Ric Flar we're seeing ever week on RAW a shadow of a shadow. In other words, he's practically nonexistent. He went from one of the show's biggest draws to one of its biggest jokes, and the sad thing is this isn't the first time he's been treated this way.

I honestly believed last month was a foreshadowing of things to come. Flair and Jericho, two of the best in terms of crowd manipultion and angle maneuvering, could've given us one hell of a show. The elder statesmen could've proved to us all that he has a few great matches still hidden away somewhere, and that he can make us believe a 55 year old man can go toe-to-toe with the best in the world. Unfortunately, things haven't turned out that way. Now Jericho's a paper champion, holding a belt he doesn't need in a division with no competition and Flair's win last month means a whole steaming load of crap.

The match will likely be disappointing, especially coming off Jericho's strong string of matches with RVD, and Flair's shoulders will find themselves pinned to the mat once again. I'd like to see ol' RF take about 6 months off after this, only to return with four fingers raised high. That's about the only thing that can save him now.
Winner: Chris Jericho

Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

I'm more interested in seeing the follow-through for this one than I am with the match. And, when you look at who's involved with the match, that's saying a helluva lot. It's a foregone conclusion that these two will rock that stadium six ways from.. well.. today. They'll clash, like the two incredible bastards they are, and send fanboys like Dave and I into a frenzy. Count on it.

However, the last time these two met, the aftereffects were just as interesting as the matches. This feud is what established Benoit as a firm fan favorite, launching his short, yet explosive, dive for the top last year. Angle, though, just sort of floated around for a couple months before the whole Invasion thing sort of absorbed him. While it catapulted one guy, it deflated the other. What I'm hoping for this time is something a little more satisfactory. At this point, the WWE can't afford to see either one of these two deflated.

Benoit's my pick for winning the series, and to be taken seriously he has GOT to redeem himself after jobbing in the last hundred PPVs or so. So he'll take it here, as well.
Winner: Chris Benoit

Billy & Chuck vs. Jamal & Rosie

Should be interesting to see how winded these two get after they hit their signature spots. It's nice to see the tag team division meaning something again, even though the champions, in terms of booking, look as lame as they come. The stips are both stupid and unnecessary, as this one would've had heat off the charts without it, but who am I to complain? I mean, these bookers know what they're doing, right? I should be happy that they're even bothering...

I couldn't agree more with Dave about Stephanie over the last few weeks. Why does she feel that we've forgotten about how much we despised her screechy ass, just a couple months back? She's certainly not a face, even though she's convinced herself she is.

I'm not sure where they can go with this one after the match, since Rosie and Jamal are faces just because of the tough way they've been presented over the last month, but it should be entertaining to watch.
Winners: Rosie & Jamal

Rob Van Dam vs. Triple H

I don't care about this match. Today's Triple H isn't even comparable to the Triple H of two years ago, and RVD's character bores me. This whole sack of shit about two World Titles didn't wok the first time we tried it, and that time there was some sort of validity to the claims of both champions. I want to see one World Champion, I want to see him on both shows, and I want to see Triple H doing something else.

RVD should win this one, then immediately job to Brock Lesnar the next week. That said, Triple H will probably dominate from start to finish, suddenly take a frog splash, stand right back up and lock in a sleeper while RVD is rolling around on the ground, selling the effects of his own offensive maneuver. I really, really hate this storyline.
Winner: Triple H

Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar

Read my comments about Ric Flair above. Now apply them to the Undertaker. You get an "A".

I don't like the Undertaker, and still maintain that by jumping to Smackdown and winning the #1 contender's match, he stole a spot that had Booker T's name written all over it. The man had his "last ride" at the top, and it ended two f'ing months ago. You don't deserve another title shot. You don't deserve anything more than a role putting over new stars, and occasionally trying out for the Intercontinental title. You don't pass go. You don't collect any money.

There's no reason to get excited about this one in the ring, because I can pretty much imagine what it's going to look like right now. The moment JR says the word "methodical", in any context, just shut your TV off because these two have blown whatever wad they've built up. Lesnar needs to win in convincing fashion.
Winner: Brock Lesnar


I hate to be so dark and depressing, but I have little or no excitement built towards tonight's event, to the point that just writing this preview was a sad and difficult experience. Words cannot describe how let down I feel, after last month's bonanza of hope and goodness. I'm bored. Time to take this one home.
until next time, i remain

Monday, September 16, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 09/16/02

Actually, I thought the booking of RAW was slightly better than what we've been seeing over the course of the last month. The entire program was based entirely around RVD and Triple H, the champion and his challenger, as any good pre-PPV program should be. The challenger looked strong, capable and willing to take the gold from his opponent at the end of the night, and the audience wanted to see blood. Unfortunately, a few variables took what would've otherwise been an almost-average program and flushed it down the little holes in a stand-up toilet. No sir, not even one of those urinal ice cubes could stop the missteps poisoning this week's RAW.

So we kicked off with a twenty minute promo... fair enough, I'd still rather see Triple H and RVD for that period of time than Vince McMahon. RVD got a chance to develop a little more on-screen color, and was successful to an extent. I'm still having trouble accepting him as a vicious guy during the heat of a match, minutes after he's cracking jokes and acting like a tool on the mic, but for what it's worth he was entertaining during this segment. He seemed like a real guy, amidst a crowd of overacting musclemen. I smiled at his "spewing water" joke, and agree that Trips should have followed it up with a snide comment about the shoulder-points. And, after that, I was just dying to see Jeff Hardy stumble down to the ring with his black light intro and his shoddy, half-body paint job, only to be met with spasms of laughter from both Van Dam and Hunter. If you're talking retarded ring entrance habits, that guy's gotta take the cake.

I was just thinking to myself, moments after his loss; "Man, what exactly does Ric Flair mean anymore? It's almost nothing to beat him these days, and painfully obvious he should gracefully step down." And, sure enough, there's Hunter to voice my opinion and bring out the old Ric Flair, swingin' away. I hope my premonition that he's got one last, big storyline in his near future holds true. If anyone in pro wrestling deserves to go out on top, it's Ric.

Too bad terrifyingly bad booking is holding this "UnAmerican Invasion" back from realizing all it could be. There's the possibility for a legendary storyline here, picking up where Bret left off, but not if these two can't beat Bubba and Spike Dudley on their own. Seriously, when was the last time Storm and Christian won a match convincingly? When they beat Edge and Hogan for the titles? Prior to that? These guys could do so much, they could go so far, but their heat is fading fast after near-squashjobs from Kane, Bradshaw, Bubba and Spike. Give them some momentum, give us (and by us, I mean America) something to fear, but most of all, QUIT WORRYING ABOUT WHAT THE CENSORS WILL THINK AND DO SOMETHING REVOLUTIONARY! Jesus, it's sitting right there... you have no problem giving us lesbians up the wazoo, but questioning the government when there are serious reasons to question it? Gah... McCarthyism, here we come.

And then Jericho and RVD come back out and steal the fucking show for like the 5th week in a row collaboratively. It was really nice to see a clean finish in this one, espcially considering it was a straight submission. Kudos, kudos, kudos for that. With that in mind, what good will the Intercontinental title do for Y2J? Nothing, probably, but at least he's active. Remember when, faced with a 'going nowhere' feud in WCW, Chris would turn it into a feud you'd buy an entire PPV for, based solely on his mic work? What happened to that guy? Where's the Jericho that would spit at WCW's refusal to give him a good angle, and make one of his own, for better or for worse? His ringwork's nearing another peak, but I'm just not excited about the character any more. Something tells me he isn't, either.

Booker and Test had a sweet series of nearfalls right within their grasp, but killed it with the botched spots. Too bad, maybe a rematch should be in order when they come back down from mile high. Great to see the missle dropkick return to the Book's repertoire, and it's nice to see him finally land that rollup from the corner combo he's been attempting for about six months.

I think I recited the whole B&C / Island Boys segment word for word, with a few variations, the second time we saw the 'protesting females' on camera. It served to appropriately build the feud, but they're playing their cards totally backwards here. Rosie and Jamal are cheered every time they're on camera. They're as much heels as Brock was at Summerslam. Bischoff is far and away the more appealing GM, and fans vocally support him. Why Stephanie can't understand this is beyond me... why does she think the fans have forgotten how they booed her boring ass out of the arena only four months ago, when she was "gone from the WWE for good"? A notice, Ms. McMahon... the audiences don't like you, no matter how often you're seen schmozzing with their favorites. You are not a face, and you're a waste of television time. Show me one person who's a fan today because of Stephanie McMahon.

Finally, the main event. Wow. If you want an example of everything going wrong, that was it. Hey, let's take a commercial break while Triple H is down, so the live crowd dies for good. Maybe Trips should revive a dead move... a move Jeff has countered over 500 times with a sitdown jawbreaker, and nobody in their right mind takes seriously any more. Shoddy calls, and added onto the dozen botched spots Hardy attempted, they became all the more glaring. The main event alone drops my score by a good half point.

Like I said, this week should've been better than last week, but the crew had an off night as a unit and a few bad calls killed the whole beast. Still, I wasn't as bored out of my mind as I was seven days back, so it takes a step up. Below average, but better than before.

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

Monday, September 9, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 09/09/02

What can one really say about a show like last night's? Sure, there were some nice moments, and the show ended on a big up... but I also spent rearly an hour and a half wondering why I even bother tuning in anymore.

Jerry Lawler has got to go, there's not even any question about that any more. He had a nice long run with JR back in the day, but the man is currently an absolute waste behind the microphone and has been ever since he came back almost a year ago. I swear to god the entire night went wasting by, while he frothed at the mouth like the old sweaty bastard he is. First it was anticipation about Bischoff's announcement, then it was comment after comment about the "HLA" coming up in just "a few short minutes," then it was speculation about who would be involved, then it was reflections on the importance of this Lesbo Love Assault gone bad. I'm embarassed to even watch the show when he opens his mouth. Tell me football or basketball would be taken halfway seriously if the announcers spent the entire broadcast chatting about what they'd like to do to the cheerleaders after the game. You tell me you're trying to give us a new wave of stars, I say start at the announce position.

And then there was Bradshaw. Good old "the fans will never get tired of" Bradshaw. My ol' chum, "I am incapable of selling anyone's offense" Bradshaw. The old enigmatic Texan, who's nearly killed every division he touched. Yeah, I'm really glad he's back on my set. I hope next week he rides a bull down to ringside, because that'd be really cool. The future is here and it is Bradshaw. Now watch as he hogties Christian and attempts to milk him.

And, oh yeah, there was a women's match in there somewhere. Victoria's got some inventive spots. She can't land them to save her life, but they're flippy and fun to watch. More than I can say for Stacy Keibler. Not sure why, but last night I just kept wondering what they'd do if Stacy suffered the same kind of injury as Kevin Nash and Triple H. She nearly did once or twice during that epic, graceful matchup, as the four of them took turns falling over one another. Shit, and you thought the match was bad as it was...

Now I know it sounds like I've regressed completely back into the old, grumpy, angry drqshadow of 1999. And I'll be honest, it's getting really hard not to. But I've got to say, despite the hefty chunks of suck I'm leaving out of my recap, there were some spots I really enjoyed last night. Like Dave mentioned, it's great to see William Regal with a decisive direction again. He looked legitimately motivated to put on a good match for the first time in ages, and I really welcome it. The guy's unbelievable when he wants to be, so if they ever get serious about making the UnAmericans go anywhere, keep a close eye on Regal. He'll blow you away. As of right now, he'll probably realize he's jumped from one dead-end to another pretty quickly, and his decay will continue unhindered.

There was also the main event, which was spectacular. If there was ever a textbook definition of building a match up from start to finish, this was it. The little angle with Jericho, the Big Show and the chair didn't work so well, but everything else was right on. I guess that's what happens when you put three guys in the ring who have extensive experience with one another, the promise of future direction dangling above their heads. Good to see Jeff Hardy is finally starting to grow a personality, turning on RVD without a second thought and showing us he might just be able to work as a heel. And they wrapped it all up with an outstanding series of nearfalls, several false finishes and a big spot to cap it all off with a clean pinfall. These guys get a big thumbs up from me, shining that much brighter as a result of the pitiful show that preceded them.

Not quite as bad as last week, but close.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 3.5

Monday, September 2, 2002

WWE RAW Review: 09/02/02

Holy hell, how three weeks can change the landscape. Thirteen days before Summerslam, Raw was rockin'. They had a goal to shoot for, they had serious storylines to advance, and they faced the wonderful problem of having too much to jam into a single two hour show. Talent jumps were becoming a little commonplace, but the thrill of seeing a new face was still somewhat intact, and the entire federation seemed to be on the verge of capturing the aura they'd aimed for with the brand extension. People legitimately thought of the two as separate promotions, and were shocked to see stars from one show appear on the other.

Guess that's all shot...

Just two weeks after RAW slammed to a close amidst an all-out war between Triple H, The Rock, Brock Lesnar and Shawn Michaels, the show is all but on its last legs. Even after a clean pinfall put Rob Van Dam over Triple H, I just wasn't excited. I honestly don't care about the program's direction, and considering the kind of optimism I showcased a couple weeks ago, that's a very bad sign. It's almost suitable that Triple H is holding the defunct WCW World Title nowadays, since the whole of Raw just seems like a collection of also-rans... just like WCW. Trips lost a major match at Summerslam, but now holds the World Title anyway. His first defense isn't against Booker, who deserves a shot at Brock Lesnar's legitimate World Title much more than Hunter or The Undertaker. No, it's against Ric Flair.. a man thirteen years past his prime, who didn't even appear on last week's episode. What a joke.

The two put on one hell of a match, and there was a glimmer of excitement when RVD cleaned house after the finish, but it faded just as quickly as it arrived.

I need to get off the subject of Triple H. I need to move on to something optimistic, so I don't seem like just another disgruntled web columnist. But there's nothing else to move on toward. I honestly didn't give a damn about one segment of last night's show. Intergender table match? Great... why don't they just roll out a set of Intergender Tag Title Belts? That division's certainly getting enough attention to merit it. Lingerie Pillow Fight Match? Cute... anybody get a Lawler "puppy" count last night? If I want to see porno, I'll go rent a porno. God knows there are women I'd rather see in skimpy clothing than Terri Runnels. If I want to see wrestling, it's looking more and more like I'm gonna have to go rent some wrestling.

Inexcusably bad.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 2