Monday, April 7, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 04/07/03

Strange night, and again I was noticing how thin the established roster is. Sure, you've got diamonds in the rough out there in never-never land, working quietly on Heat and waiting for their chance to either; a) get that big push to the top in WWE or b) go join NWA: TNA. But on the unmistakeable whole, there are about a dozen guys and three girls (four if you count Stacy) who just sort of rotate around, swap dance partners and teammates, and clog the show. Several of these guys I have no problem with, as they're still over and busting their asses to maintain their spot... several others, though, have been stale for ages and aren't doing anything to help dig the federation out of the deep, nasty rut it's stuck in. Somebody needs to take a step back, look at the big picture and shake things up in time for these brand exclusive PPVs. Else fans are gonna get really bored really quickly.

Trish and Jazz were really lighting it up last night, until Trish busted her lip, whispered something to the ref and Jazz, and was then treated with kid gloves for the rest of the match. Whatever, I can understand taking it easy with somebody who's a little shaken up, but with somebody like Jazz who lives and dies by her ultra-realistic, brutal style, that's just gonna destroy the match. And, sure enough, the last couple minutes were uninspired and paled in comparison to the hot opening moments. Trish again couldn't get up to do the Acid Drop without assistance, and then the ref was in poor position at the end, missing Jazz's foot on the ropes. I kinda figured where they'd be going with this when I saw it. Decent match with a poor ending. Bonus points for including the first successful double axe-handle I've seen in years.

Nice brief nod to past continuity (albeit bizarre continuity, which was never mentioned again) by showing Rock's acknowledging of Trish backstage. Remember when these two smooched a couple years back, then tagged together the next week and kind of avoided each other after that? Weird. Unfortunately, this was the only thing they did all night that even IMAGINED the use of the word 'continuity'. Still, a nice way to build toward Hardy / Rock later in the night, even though nobody buys the Stratus / Jeffy H romance.

RVD vs. Morley was decent, though neither guy was really out there to turn anybody's head last night. Nice splash to the outside onto Lance Storm by Van Dam midway through the match, and I'm gonna agree with Jay here... nice to see a match ending on a non-finisher spot. Especially when it looks as wicked as Morley's DDT did. It was cool to see Storm and Morley functioning together like a team throughout the night, working together to accomplish the common goal.

Nowinski's promo was so out of place that it attracted the attention of my girlfriend, using the computer nearby. "If he's supposed to be the bad guy, why is he making so much sense?" she asked. I didn't have an answer for her. Funny, though, now that I think about it. Scott Steiner really IS a good analogy for America. Both used to mean something in the past, but have since become so unweildy and full of flash that they've lost the substance, intelligence and all around clear headedness that made them so cool in the first place. Nowadays they busy themselves attacking the smaller guy, beating him up because they can and ignoring the important issues (why WASN'T Steiner on WrestleMania? Does he care?). And this is all coming from a guy (me) who supports the war... albeit not for the reasons Bush & co. have presented. Is this a tangent? I think this is a tangent. I don't like Iraq, but I don't really like Scott Steiner either. And Chris Nowinski was the face from where I sat last night. Incredibly stupid segment.

Like Samir, I noticed that they snuck in Goldberg's career-ending mule kick during his promo package. Interesting. It was nice to get a quick recap of Billy Bo's career, and I've gotta say that WCW's footage has never looked better. The WWE production team remains incredible.

Christian's interaction with the Rock was golden, pretty much reaffirming my love for his character. Rocky almost made a complete face turn here, playing the part of the seasoned veteran handing down his knowledge to the next generation, then easily slid right back into his flawless heel character. Nice, appropriate, impassioned speech from the Great One about making the most of your oppotunities.

Ironically enough, he then went on to face Jeff Hardy, the guy who's had every chance in the world and has screwed it up just about every single time. Tonight's match was no exception to that rule, and couldn't even keep up with Rock's earlier match against the Hurricane (in which Helms became winded, panted his way through the middle of the match, and came back for a strong finish). Hardy was all over the place, and even the Rock couldn't do anything with him. It's singles matches like this that make me realize just how strong a glue Matt really was to the brothers' tag team.

I enjoyed everything about the Rocky / Goldberg interaction, even Christian's death at the hands of the beast. Hey, if it's getting him into the spotlight, I'm all for it. And it's not like he really lost any credibility by taking that spear, either. He was caught completely by surprise with a move that KO'd the Rock last week... anybody in the WWE could've taken that move and laid down, so why not Christian? Of course, the segment would've been infinitely cooler if Christian had calmly stood up, taken off his shirt (revealing a steel plate covering his mid section), grabbed a mic and shouted "Hey Bischoff! I quit!" But hey... I guess WWE's stolen enough of WCW's old storylines for now. Rocky's refusal to accept the match at Backlash was classic, and just about summarized all the great stuff we saw here.

Then they follow it up with Kane vs. the Dudley Boyz. Man, if the WWE ever decides to go for a "Handicap World Title," Kane had better be the first champ. Sweet Jesus, it's like every other week this guy is on the wrong side of some sort of two-on-one matchup. He's got more experience with handicap situations than he does with regular one-on-one matches. So the obvious question is this; why can't this guy, who's done this kind of match hundreds of times before, come up with a formula for making one watchable? This sucked, but at least the Dudleys went over clean. This is how every two-on-one match should end, regardless of the participants. You could have Duane Gill and Spike Dudley taking on Brock Lesnar, and I'd still want to see Spikey and Duane on the offense for the majority of the match.

Lance Storm follows the match up with a mean looking dropkick off the top rope, through a chair, into RVD's face. Funny how he pulled that out, just as we were having a discussion in the forums about who has the best looking dropkick on the show. For the record, Storm got my vote.

I found the Bischoff - Austin Truck thing to be a nice little bit of heeling. The way they did it, just out of the blue, was the only way it would've worked. Plus, JR quit! If I had to choose one of the two RAW announcers to cut, it wouldn't have been him... but whatever. For my money, JR / Heyman is a much, much stronger combination than JR / Lawler. With that pairing, both guys seem to know what they're talking about, and they have a mutual animosity towards one another that comes through on the air, and as a result makes the broadcast that much more interesting to listen to. Both guys speak with emotion about what's going on in the ring, (and not what's under Stacy's dress) and give the show a much more professional feel. Unfortunately, King isn't the one who left the team. Oh well, give it time... right? Personally, I'd rather see Joey Styles or Mike Tenay on PBP than the Coach, but... whatever. He's passable.

Sylvan Grenier and Rene Dupree are coming to RAW. Well, the tag team division needs more life but I don't know if another low-personality politically-based heel team is the way to go with it. I think Storm and Regal / Morley are filling that role nicely. I found it hilarious right off the bat that they're cashing in on this recent trend of France-bashing, mainly because I think the trend itself is downright hysterical. Now, if only they can get these guys to come down to the ring wearing berets and calling themselves "The Freedom Fries," we'll have something. And they can use "les moutons de bebe" as their catch phrase, even if it doesn't make any sense. They've got my permission.

Main event was good, and worth the hype. I expected less Shawn than we got, which is a happy surprise, and Booker got his second pinfall on Triple H in three weeks. So doesn't that establish that he's still a threat, and they need to go ahead and book the rematch for Backlash? I don't like all this talk of a tag team main event involving these four (six?), as it'll only serve to rob us of two vital things; HBK laying down for Y2J and Triple H dropping the belt to Booker T. Not that I'm counting on either of those, but whatever. It was nice of them to surprise us with a Hurricane run-in... too bad it amounted to exactly dick. Why didn't he just run into the ring, lay down, stand up and then throw himself over the top rope? It would've saved Trips the hassle of throwing punches at him. And while I'm at it, if they really wanted to surprise us, they would've had Hurricane jump out of the limo before performing his run-in.

Closing up shop, Nash is back, and he's dyed his hair again. I'm relieved he isn't using the name Diesel (only the music), as that would be about as stupid as calling yourself "drqshadow" or "The Hurricane" in public. I kept flinching every time Nash threw that big boot, as we all know what happened the last time he tried it. And there we go, Jericho's officially not aligning with big Kev, as I'd hoped in last week's writeup.

OK, let's look at the continuity of this booking. Y2J and Triple H are tagging together. These guys have a rivalry that's been well documented for YEARS. Even before the McMahon-Helmsley era, these two have been at each other's throat... but they at least tried to cover that before the match. Ric Flair and Triple H... well, that's poor booking from last year, so we won't even get into that. Booker T and Shawn Michaels. Let's try to think about the last time we saw these two together. Oh, yeah! Shawn superkicked Booker's lights out! And the time before that? OH! HBK superkicked him, threw him out of the nWo, tore his shirt off and virtually spit on him in what was alluded towards being a racially-motivated maneuver. Remember that promo where Goldust warned Booker that Shawn doesn't like "his kind"? Yeah. So these two are tagging together without even questioning one another now. And oh! Here comes Kevin Nash! Let's see, who was he out to destroy the last time we saw him? Hell, who was he kicking when his quad exploded? Booker T. And now here he comes, charging down to the ring in defense of Booker and Shawn. Nice.

And that's just the main event. If I went in-depth on the entire broadcast, we'd be here all night. Let's get ahold of somebody with at least a fleeting knowledge of the history of the product to overlook the shows before they go live, hmm? Mmmkay.

Strong main event that capped off a subpar show, with another new arrival that casts deep, dark shadows over the main event scene. If they restrain Nash to a heavy speaking role with little or no wrestling, I'll be a much happier puppy.

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

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