Monday, April 14, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 04/14/03

Last night's show was wholly mediocre. There were a few teeny things I really liked, a few teeny things I really didn't like and about an hour and a half's worth of things I was entirely indifferent towards. The program didn't inspire me in one way or another, it came off (aside from a few exceptions) as pretty bland. The fact that they really amplified the whole "thin roster" problem I've been pointing out over the last few weeks didn't help things. This an episode that focused entirely upon half a dozen people, most of whom have been in or around the main event for over six months running now. I've pretty much got my mind made up to give this show a four already, but let's see if the segment-by-segment analysis can help me lean one way or the other.

Nash comes out, talks a good game, goes on twice as long as he needed to, and winds up separating Shawn Michaels and Triple H. It was a nice hot opening to the show, but like I said... it went on way too long. The whole segment gets a thumbs up from me, though, due to the inadvertantly accurate impression Nash did of the Ahhnold Prank Calls reel midway through the interview. "STOPPIT!!" I think I pissed myself when he did that. If you've no idea what I'm talking about, Click on over hea. We'll wait.

This thing with Test and Stacey is getting really stupid.

The Jericho / Test match itself was a real throwaway, and didn't really do anything for either guy. Jericho gets a win over a fresh midcarder, but only after he's thrown around the ring for a few minutes, and Test loses cleanly to a move that hadn't led to a successful pin in nearly half a year. So Jericho looks weak, despite a win, Test looks weak because of the method in which he lost, and the crowd gets deflated because the match wasn't up to the usually high standard of either man. Plus, Y2J shaved off the goatee and Test beat up a random guy in the crowd. Bad things, man.

Trish, Jazz, Ivory and Victoria gave us a good showing, and proved that there's more depth to the Women's division than I'd previously given credit for. It's good that they're slowly adding a few new names to the list, and they're doing so based on actual ability in the ring. God knows, if I had to suffer through another Terri, Stacey or Jacqueline match, I'd have taken my own life. I'm undecided on what sort of impact the alignment with Teddy Long is going to have on Jazz's career, but if it means a Title run and a little further noterieity, why not give it a shot.

Why the hell did I watch the entireity of that Austin-merch infomercial? More importantly why did I record it as though it were a regular part of RAW? Why was it more important to announce a closeout on old Austin shirts and leftover WrestleMania programs than to show us another match? If you listened closely enough, you could actually hear "Willie the Worker" grinding his teeth backstage during this segment.

The tag title match started off on the wrong foot, but built to be an excellent brawl before the final bell had tolled. I could've lived without the first five minutes, but when they started exchanging nearfalls neither of these teams looked back. What's more, they wrestled one of the most believable no-DQ matches I've seen in ages. They didn't immediately fall out of the ring and fight around the arena once the bell sounded, nor did they completely change styles and revert to a brawl mentality. They stuck to what they know best, wrestling, and adapted a few weapons to that style when appropriate. Add an increasingly hot series of false finishes, a great bit of tension with the Dudley Boyz, a difficult decision to predict, and the most over man on Monday night, RVD, and you've got a great TV matchup. I was happy with this, despite the poor opening moments.

It was especially fun to watch that Rock segment last night, armed with the knowledge that they'd taped it earlier in the week. I kept waiting for Coach and Lawler to stumble over their lines and get interrupted with an answer before they'd finished their question, or for the video to skip, Milli Vanilli style. "If ya smell.... If ya smell... If ya smell.... If ya smell.... If ya smell... ((video abruptly cuts to black, then to a shot of an unprepared Coach and Lawler))" Way to take the only surefire success you've had on the show in months and flush it for a week, gang. The Rock's been the shining light of RAW since returning to Monday nights, and they make the call to pre-tape a segment with him. Whatever.

Christian gets DQ'd for a low blow, wrestling against a man who's known for delivering a swift kick to the groin whenever the referee's back is turned. Hell, it's one of his signature maneuvers... he's even got a special name for it! There's no justice in America today. Christian then goes on to call out Goldberg in one of the funniest promos in recent memory. "Take off that wig... and while you're at it, take off that bra and panties.... and come out here. What, is it that time of the month? Is there a sale at JC Penney?" Good stuff, to which Goldberg responded by going two-for-two in the "holy god what a vicious spear" department. Honestly, it seems like he's amped it up a little bit for his WWE run, and I'm anticipating seeing him in the ring. Just like last week, this didn't bother me. Christian's laying down for Goldberg when the day's done, sure, but he's establishing an identifiable character and keeping himself fresh in the fans' eyes (as well as the bookers') at the same time. I'd much rather see him in this position than in no position at all.

Chris Nowinski has aligned himself with Rosey and Jamal. There goes my interest in his character. I'm with Jay, it was funny beyond words to watch Scott Steiner taking part in an intelligent debate while wearing sunglasses, a long bleached goatee, no shirt and a bizarre, chain mail headdress. But... at the same time, it held my attention. Which is more than I can say for any of the presidential debates. Let's see if we can get Dubbya to attend a debate dressed like "Big Poppa Pump" in 2004. Oh, and it's nice to hear about all the countries Scott Steiner has wrestled during his illustrious career. I knew his arms were big, but big enough to pin an entire country?

The main event was offbeat, for some reason I just can't put my finger on. Flair bounced around, looked old and called spots on-camera. Triple H didn't seem all that motivated. The Hurricane looked out of place in the ring with the Nature Boy, and Booker T wasn't exactly on fire. In addition, the crowd seemed to collectively fall asleep. In short, nothing went over well here. I'm glad that World Title match was scheduled for next week, to allow for a little bit of promotion, but would much rather have seen it scheduled for Backlash.

The post-match action was superb. No matter how many times they use that old cliched "oops, I thought the bad guys were behind me and I hit my friend" angle, I'll always eat it up. Plus, this time you've got the possibility that it wasn't an accident, especially when Booker took down Shawn Michaels after falling victim to an errant Nash forearm. I like this storyline, now that they're addressing the history between Nash, Michaels and Booker. After the show went off the air, I gave the angle a lot of thought and what I came up with is this; I'd rather see Nash, Michaels and Helmsley, three guys I'm sick of, wrestling the main event and working a storyline that's interesting to watch, than watch Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero and Kurt Angle, three guys I'll never get sick of, wrestling the main event with a horrendous backstory. That's the bottom line, as far as I'm concerned. It sucks to have to watch the same old players doing it again, but the storyline is good so I don't have that much to complain about.

Lukewarm episode, with a hot tag title match and a nice finishing angle. Four and a half, at best.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.5

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