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

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