Monday, February 24, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 02/24/03

As I was experiencing it, I wasn't terribly impressed with RAW last night. I knew the majority of what I was seeing was what I'd hoped for, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that something wasn't right. Upon closer examination, (and after a night's sleep) I've come to the conclusion that, even though I wasn't thrilled at the time, this actually was a show to get excited about and I'm a putz. I think I was letting the bad parts of the show cloud over the bright, shiny moments.

Bischoff looked like hell warmed over last night, but managed to maintain a shred of dignity by reminding us all that even though Stone Cold kicked the life out of him last night, he's still the guy signing paychecks at the end of the day. I'm really, really glad they're allowing this "owner / rattlesnake interaction" to take on a life of its own, rather than attempting to mimic the successes of the past. I'm really excited to see Austin doing something new, and by whipping the pants off the GM on his first night back, they pretty much delivered that. There won't be any physical tension between these two, as there was between Austin and McMahon, because we all know Eric can't hold a candle to him. What we should see, instead, is a psychological war. Seeing as how that's Eric's real strength, I'm not so sure Stone Cold can win on that battlefield. And you can bet your ass I can't wait to hear the first verbal showdown between these two, given their history together.

It just occurred to me; Vince McMahon is working a really strange gimmick. He's a face on RAW, as he's to thank for the match between Bischoff and Stone Cold on PPV, but he's a heel on Smackdown due to his screwing of Hulk Hogan. Not that I expect him to become a regular visitor on either program, I just thought it was worth mentioning.

I was enjoying bits and pieces of Rocky's big opening monologue, but on the whole I thought it ran about ten minutes too long. It's been a while since we've seen RAW open with such a lengthy verbal piece, and I wasn't pleased to see the old convention make a return. I'm really digging his character, as they haven't gone the easy way out and taken him back in time four years by reviving the exact same "People's Champion" that was held the belt going into Wrestlemania XV. Instead, they've really listened to the crowds and created an all new Rocky, one that has a legitimate reason for turning on his supporters. I loved the little observations he threw in at random throughout the promo, mocking the audience, and the new entrance package was absolutely perfect, not to mention totally appropriate. Just, for my money, I would have rather seen a longer Hardy / Nowinski match than an extra ten minutes of fluff for the Rock.

So much for that string of great Women's matches, which was looking to hit five in a row this week. Jackie's worthless, I've been saying it since she was brought in to constantly take her shirt off during a feud with Sable. Somebody needs to let her know her tits look ridiculous, and that she'd be doing herself a favor by looking into a new line of work. Because this whole wrestling thing...? It's not gonna work out.

Jazz's new music is horrid. And I can't believe they replayed her "promo" from last week, where she wandered away from Victoria and just sort of hooted, howled and hollered. Yeah, REMIND us what a complete idiot we felt like seven days ago, when we first saw that.

Test... yeah. I'll pull out one of the few catchphrases in my arsenal here; if I want porn, (or in this case, pseudo-porn) I'll stroll down the street and rent something from the curtained section of the video store. If I'm watching a wrestling program, I'm interested in seeing some wrestling. Test visiting the Girls Gone Wild bus isn't really what I'd categorize as wrestling. Stupid segment, full of more shameless cross promotion than our weekly updates on Rajah.

I didn't crack a smile during the Goldust segment, nor was I really entertained by it. Stupid.

Ditto for Lance Storm vs. Kane. In a couple years they'll get serious about Storm as a singles competitor, and won't understand why the crowd doesn't accept him as a kickass ring general. Here's a clue; it's because you're worthlessly feeding him to guys who have proven they'll never draw. Storm got in, I think, a kick or a punch during this one.

Randy Orton worked his ASS off in that tag match last night. He's really showing a drive to prove himself as something notable at the moment, and I for one am loving it. Take a look at the bumping he did for Booker and Scotty Steiner, and you'll realize he's to thank for 75% of that match's success. I was very happy with the way this one turned out, from the ref's extreme bias against the faces (OK, he quit chastising Batista and Flair for both being in the ring illegally because... Scott Steiner came into the ring?) to the clean finish. This went a long, long way toward establishing Booker as a main event player, as not only did he work for almost the entire match, but he came up with a clever reversal to seal the win without ever making a hot tag. I liked everything about this match.

Chris Jericho was hilarious in the mixed tag match last night, marching into the ring with an agenda and throwing all the world's intelligence to the wind. I watched as he casually strolled from his own corner to the opposing team's and yanked Stacey off the apron as if he were paying his electric bill or something equally as everyday. He may as well have yawned while he did it. Then he smacks Test with a chair directly in the ref's line of sight, sits down on a BRUTAL Liontamer and doesn't let up for a second while the faces attempt to make their saves. I loved watching Christian's easy dispensing of Jeff Hardy, since that's something you almost never see these days. When's the last time you can remember a save as wholly unsuccessful as that one? Not only did it give Christian and Jericho a tremendous boost for planning their attack so meticulously, it also proved that the most obvious result to a set of circumstances is not always the one you'll see. I love an atmosphere like that...

Unfortunately, they'd have been better off wiping Hardy / Nowinski from the dry erase board than putting on what we saw last night. I refuse to believe any two moves are powerful enough to put a 300 pound man down for the count after three seconds in the ring, apart from a horrific botched spot that ends with a compound fracture or something. I don't like it when Austin does it with his stunners, (note that I'm talking about wrestlers here, which excludes his match with Bischoff Sunday night) and I don't like seeing Jeff Hardy do it with a reverse Twist of Fate and a Swanton.

I've gotta give props to Rocky and the Hurricane for putting on a dynamite backstage segment. Nothing but good can come out of a promo like that.

Morley has gone from one silly name to another. First he was Val Venis, and now he's traded his first name for "Chief?" What's wrong with promoting him as "Sean Morley, Chief of Staff" or just "Sean Morley" when he's in the ring? I can understand why the talent might call him Chief Morley, but he looks like a moron going out there to the ring with the ring announcer introducing him by that name. Regardless, he's bulked up considerably, which Triple H has taught us can be both a good thing and a bad thing. He didn't get much of a chance to show us which way it was last night, though, jobbing out to Jerry frigging Lawler. I swear to god, Lawler looks every bit of fifty five years old out there with that poor physique and droopy skin. There's no way in hell he should be competing as a regular athlete, let alone going over talent that's much younger, stronger and more versatile. What does that accomplish, really?

The battle royal drug in places, but all in all was very satisfying. It was a breath of fresh air to see Christian and Storm in there so long, not to mention Booker T. Christian especially looked great, as he had an honest chance at winning it before Rocky came in and dumped both he and Kane simultaneously. Booker looked tired during the meat of the match, as he should have considering he'd wrestled and won a tag match almost completely by himself an hour earlier. It was interesting to see who interacted with who here; Jericho dumping Test and then nonsensically eliminating himself to get away. Rocky and Scott Steiner facing off for the very first time. The Hurricane and the People's Champ extending their confrontation from backstage. RVD ducking out surprisingly early. Though it lagged noticeably for a couple minutes, I thought the whole thing came together very well. The Rock on commentary was especially great, and totally fitting of the character he's trying to play.

Oh, and you know I loved who was left when the dust settled. Despite Rocky's debut, there's no mistaking the facts; last night was Booker's night to shine. I can't wait to see where they go from here.

I'm still not as foaming at the mouth about last night as my fellow RRCers were. Rocky and Booker were priceless, Jericho and Christian gave us a great night, and the Hurricane and Randy Orton really stepped up, yeah. That's all well and good, but we also suffered through two completely unnecessary squashes, a match featuring a victorious Jerry Lawler, that TERRIBLE Goldust segment, a nasty Women's match and that stupid Test GGW vignette. It's nice to see so much good going on, but it'd be even nicer if we could go without the stink of so much bad. All in all, I'd call it a couple steps above average but not even close to perfection.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 6.85

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