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.
Overall Score: 4.25