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