Monday, May 26, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 05/26/03

I live to see good Flair and Michaels promos, and I agreed with everything they said to one another last night, but the whole segment just fell flat to me. They should've left well enough alone with all the tears last week, and not tried to recapture that glory once again a mere seven days later. But you know Vince McMahon, no matter how many times he gets electrocuted, he'll always try to capture that lightning in a bottle a second, third, fourth and fifth time. I was actually relieved to see Triple H arrive, breaking up this verbal orgy, and I'm in agreement with everybody in the world who's been saying Flair should've been slid into the main event slot at Bad Blood, knocking Nash down the same route Scott Steiner took after WrestleMania. Ric and Trips have great chemistry together, a solid storyline and a hot potato in Flair's face turn to run with, while Big Daddy Limp and Haitch have... a match that'll rival the Undertaker / Bossman collision at Wrestlemania XV for "Worst HIAC Ever." Whatever. In other news, Trips seems to have permed his hair several times in the last week, and it's starting to resemble a beautiful patch of shrubbery more than it is human hair.

JR's history is off. All night, he was proclaiming Flair / Michaels v. Triple H as "the first ever teaming of Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair," though they teamed together against Bret Hart and Randy Savage, ages ago, in a match I've got on my desktop at home. I'm surprised nobody else picked up on that, since it was on the OFTP all year.

Booker T and Test didn't light my fire last night. I like Booker T, and have ever since his series with Chris Benoit in WCW all those years ago, but his offense is getting on my nerves. He hasn't introduced a new maneuver in ages, and one could almost call his entire match with their eyes closed, he's become so repetitive. I'd still rather see him with the title than Triple H, but he's begun to fall from grace in my eyes. I've really got a problem with the scissor kick as a finisher. It's bad enough that we get to watch his opponent hunch over for about fifteen seconds, while he looks at his hand, slowly wanders to the ropes, bounces off and delivers the maneuver... now he's pinning people with it. Honest to god, that's as bad as "the worm." Ugly match, highlighting both guys' weaknesses.

Hey, now that I think about it, Triple H is starting to look more and more like He-Man, savior of Eternia. He's just primping that hair for the eventual bowl cut, then he'll start to come to the ring with a sledgehammer and a shield, then he'll wear fuzzy underpants and a big chest protector. Then he'll eventually ride down to the ring on an enormous green tiger, and he'll finally transform the entryway of RAW to look just like Castle Greyskull, with wrestlers emerging from the mouth/drawbridge. And then he'll top off the whole schpeel by changing "I am the game, you wanna play me" to "I have the power, you wanna try me". Maybe he'll bring back Papa Shango, so he can squash a guy who looks like Skeletor. Flair can grow a moustache and be Man at Arms.

Somebody stop me, next time I get off on a tangent like that.

Victoria seemed to age about ten years in the last month, and has gone the Ivory route of attempting to cover up for it; wearing more bizarre, revealing outfits each week. Richards and Venis had a solid, hard hitting match, but I've lost my enthusiasm for these two as it's becoming obvious WWE will never do anything with them. Venis was THIS CLOSE to completing a successful rebranding as Chief Morley, and could've easily lit up the midcard if he'd returned as just Sean Morley and worked the "you fired me and I'm working twice as hard to prove my worth" storyline. Instead, they took a huge step backward and took him back to the porn star gimmick that ran its course four years ago. Nice clean matchup, if too short, surprisingly lacking in interference from Trish, and a fresh break from the overwritten storylines we're used to seeing.

I didn't have a problem with Nash's interview. It felt offbeat and unscripted, sure, but I think that's something they should explore a little further with the rest of their roster. It's amazing how different an interview with a WWE superstar is, as opposed to an athlete from any other sport.. it's hard to believe what these guys are saying if they're reading it from a cue card or memorizing a script the night before. Nobody gets in front of the camera with an entire monologue in mind, it's meant to be spur of the moment stuff. Nash felt like he was giving unscripted answers, and I liked the change of pace.

Christian and Goldust had a relatively good match, until we got into the "golden globes" stall fest. Strange ending, with Goldust taking the clean pin off a powerslam. I don't have any idea what they're trying to do with this whole storyline.

Looks like Rodney Mack and the Dudleys are due for a feud, which is funny considering the different nationalities supposedly tied up in the Dudley bloodline. I wouldn't be surprised if they revealed Mack himself was, in fact, a lost Dudley brother. Seems to me they're dropping the ball in this department, as they had a perfect scenario to debut and absolutely MAKE a new face in this "random white jobber squash" angle, in the same vein as the 1-2-3 Kid. Bring in the American Dragon or Shark Boy, give them a competitive match, and give them the nod. Fans will eat it up, their first big feud will write itself, and the WWE will have a new face or two around which to build the future. Don't give that first pinfall victory to somebody who's already failed in a main event bid, like Bubba Dudley.

I'm an American, and I didn't give two shits about the flag match. I didn't feel betrayed as a citizen, I didn't want to tear La Resistance in half. I just kind of stared in unmotivated silence. RVD's fading fast, Kane's still floating belly-up and bloated in the water, and the Flying Frenchmen are being hurried along their path to the tag titles.

Jericho was in ass-kickin' form last night, though I'm not sure why they put the whole thing under the shelter of the Highlight Reel, because there was no part of this that felt like an interview. It was Jericho cutting a promo, Goldberg doing the run in, Jericho pulling some heel tactics and Goldberg rolling around in agony. I didn't mind their use of the old mace / pepper spray cliche here, because Goldberg and Jericho pulled it off fairly well. And then Jericho made the whole thing worthwhile, delivering a spear on Goldberg, rolling out of the ring and never breaking stride on his way up the ramp and out of the building. He even went so far as to mock Goldberg's inability to start his own car a couple months ago. Quality stuff.

Wait. That car stall wasn't planned? Maybe somebody's trying to send WWE a message. Automobiles probably shouldn't be a major part of a live wrestling program. Imagine if the car that tried to run down Goldberg had stalled... then we'd have been treated to five minutes' worth of Goldberg's telephone conversation, door hanging wide open, while the stunt men tried in desperation to start their vehicle, a hundred yards away.

Not much of a main event... and what was the deal with Shawn Michaels landing the superkick at the three minute mark, then proceeding to sell as though we were three quarters of the way through an iron man match? Strange. Can't say I didn't see Flair's turn coming, though I was hoping I'd be wrong. At the very least they've got Randy Orton back, which is something I'm happy to see because I really liked the Evolution stable in its first incarnation and was disappointed with the way it all turned out. I'm a sucker for stables, what can I say? Though I did think for a while they were going to show the guy in the black mask, hanging out in Ric Flair's locker room, then just completely forget about him for the rest of the show.

Thumbs up to Kevin Nash, too, for failing to sell a chair shot to the back of the head and a chair shot to his surgically-repaired hamstring. What a stupid main event angle this is.

An underachieving show, on the whole. Nothing was head and shoulders above anything else, and nothing was really Katie Vick-style terrible. Just a mediocre program, really. I kept waiting for the meat of the program to start, but it never really arrived.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.3

Monday, May 19, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 05/19/03

I enjoyed last night's show roughly fifteen times as much as I did last week's. There was a bizarre sort of vibe about last night, an excitement that emanated from the show all night long. Maybe it's the thrill of RAW building toward their first brand-exclusive PPV, maybe it was the whole Flair in South Carolina deal, maybe it was just a fluke. It was there, all the same.

I've been saying it for a few weeks now, but Steve Austin's really coming back into full swing as a performer. He's begun to blur the lines between a heel and a face once again, which was a key element of the "Austin 3:16" character that took him to the main event in the late '90s. More importantly, though, he's regaining his emotion during promos. Last night, Austin really appeared to believe what he was saying. He was working the mic with devotion and enthusiasm, and it radiated around the arena. Stopping Triple H mid-spit was classic Stone Cold, and illustrates a big part of why I'm having no problem accepting him as co-GM. He's allowing his character to slide into the role, abusing his power in methods that make sense when compared to his own history. Though he overlooked a few former World Champions in his short list, it made the promo feel that much more off the cuff and honest. I'm getting tired of the whole "losing my composure" line, but that's serving to phase out the "What" trend that I so despised, so it's for a greater good in the long run and I still can't grasp why he wears those knee braces everywhere.

Rico left Three Minute Warning. Good. I've only seen him active in the ring about four times, so I can't draw any sort of conclusions on his ability as an athlete, but any time you move a wrestler from a non-active capacity to an active one, it's a good thing. Especially when you've got a small roster and an entire PPV to fill within thirty days. Now if we could only get to business on doing the same thing with Nunzio.

Austin and Bischoff made the most of their little segments together. The whole vomit spots were silly, as they always are, but Austin plays a great loud, obnoxious, "hey! this guy feels like shit, so let's fuck with him!" pseudo-roommate. This segment probably went over well in college dorms around the country. And, for the record, "hair of the dog" actually works. Bisch should've taken a sip.

I wasn't as impressed with Christian's new 'do as Justin was. On one hand it's a good thing, because it symbolizes to the fans that this is a fresh start, and maybe they'll forget all the aborted pushes the guy's endured in the past. On the other, he looks about ten years younger now (which is bad, considering he looked to be about 25 with the mane) and he still dresses like a thirteen year old girl attending her first Lollapalooza. Jericho got a laugh out of me, dubbing his new television screen the "Jeri-tron 5000," and the collective audience quickly glanced at their watches to begin the countdown until the thing is destroyed. It's a proven fact... any time you aknowledge something expensive in or near the ring, it's like bringing a birthday cake out there with you. The damn thing's gonna wind up in pieces, no matter what.

RVD and Kane vs. the Canadian C's was very much underwhelming. I generally enjoy everybody who was involved in this match, discounting Kane, but these guys just weren't clicking out there. Nice hot series of nearfalls at the conclusion, but it was too little too late. RVD's moveset is slowly growing stale, and his popularity is beginning to diminish. This is what extending an "unlikely pairing" angle over the period of six months can do to someone. On the flip side, Booker T looked motivated as hell out there. I'm really looking forward to an extended program between he and Christian, as I'll enjoy that no matter what the end result may be.

A sincerely moving promo between HBK and Flair backstage. Love him or hate him, there's no denying that Ric Flair can emotionally captivate an audience better than anyone else. Shawn Michaels could've said just about anything here, so long as he kept a straight face, and the segment would've soared. This felt good.

Rodney Mack and Spike Dudley almost shot the "White Boy Challenge" wad with their match, but managed to give us an extremely entertaining battle all the same. I was genuinely surprised by this match. Everybody knew it'd either be Spike Dudley or Chris Nowinski strolling out from behind that curtain, when Mack called out to the locker room, and I think I actually heard a collective moan from the audience when Spike emerged. Within the course of five minutes, though, these two had the audience on the edge of their collective seats. Maybe that's an old formula working to perfection, maybe that's two underappreciated talents doing their jobs, all I care about is the end result. Great TV, but come on... who taps out with one second remaining? There's not a soul alive who can't withstand the "pain" of a million dollar dream for a single second.

I did chuckle over the name of the move, though. The "black out"? Classic. I'm also wondering how long we've got until Booker T busts out a "Don't hate the playa" on Theodore Long.

I blinked and missed the Resistance / Unlikely Whiteys matchup. I did catch the aftermath, though. I was just waiting for Stacy to split like a wishbone, with those two tugging at each arm. What a stupid, cartoony moment that was... and they capped that off by playing Kid Rock's hideous cover of ZZ Top's "Legs," her theme song, as she strode out of the ring alone. Wouldn't life be much more entertaining if the real world were accompanied by entrance music?

It really sucks that Lance Storm pissed someone off backstage. C'mon, he was involved in the IC battle royal for about fifteen seconds, and landed absolutely zero offense against Goldberg here. There's no reason to crush ANYONE that difinitively in such a short amount of time, whether it's Lance Storm, The Rock or freaking Ralphus. I wish they'd just finish with Storm and release him so he can be productive in another fed, because it's become painfully obvious they'll never let him amount to anything in WWE. That really sucks, too, because he was incredible when WCW let him run with the ball upon his debut there.

Flair and Triple H did just what it needed to do. It would've been nice to get a fluke World Title victory out of the Nature Boy, but in the back of your mind you had to know it wouldn't have been good in the long run. Somewhere down the line, a face is going to benefit enormously by finally defeating Trips for his coveted World Title, though Kevin Nash is NOT the right guy to do so. I'm glad they're letting this title gain some prestige, rather than passing it around like a hot potato every couple of weeks. Every part of this match was screaming upset, which only served to fuel the fire underneath the South Carolina fans. A fine match, considering the obvious limitations, that kept the audience hot throughout and delivered that glimmer of hope, if just for a short time. I really wish they would've aired the post-show segments, rather than moving right along the Kevin Nash and the HIAC announcement, though there's still a chance we'll see all that next week in recap.

This Hell in a Cell match is going to suck hairy, sweaty, dirty, smelly donkey testicalia. And yes, I just combined the words "genitalia" and "testicles" into one horrendous new word. That's my way of showcasing just how horrid this World Title match will be.

Despite the promise of a much darker day on the horizon, I enjoyed this show. It was above average, through and through, and though I was disappointed in Flair's loss, I understood the reasoning and enjoyed the moment all the same.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 6.5

Saturday, May 17, 2003

The World's Greatest WWE Judgment Day 2003 Preview

Whew! ...wait... needs more emphasis... WHEW! What a friggin' stinkbomb the WWE's served us up with this month! I pity John C, Dave Meltzer and the four or five other people out there who will be watching this PPV live, as it happens. What an absolutely horrendous card this truly is, nearly from top to bottom. From the gratuitous "Bikini Challenge" to the triumphant returns of Kevin Nash and the Big Show to the main event, all the way down to the untimely injury of Chavo Guerrero Jr, placing the most anticipated match on the card in limbo... this thing just reeks. And that's not the scent of awesomeness I'm detecting, infecting my upper respiratory system. That's stink on par with the turds my cat lays in his litterbox. The very same nuggets he absolutely refuses to bury, because he can't stand to endure that aura any longer than he has to. Seriously, this cat will spend half an hour covering every last drop of piss when he's finished dropping a number one, but if he cuts loose with a little two.... he's outta there like a flash of light. If you blink, he's gone. Not that I blame him. That shit be STANKIN.

Whassat? I've just spent most of my introductory space discussing the finer details of my cat's bowel movements? Is that some kind of sign? Because I think it is. Nine matches. Two I'm legitimately interested in. Four I'd rather stew in a septic tank than watch. No momentum toward next month, no matter who wins their respective match. That's a big frowny face from yours truly.

Chris Benoit, Brian Kendrick & Rhyno vs. Chuck Palumbo, Johnny Stamboli & John Cena

So much for John Cena, plowing a new path for fresh talent in the main event scene. That ain't happening any time soon... instead, the WWE's decided to lump all of Smackdown's fresh names into one or two matches, facing off against one another, and all of RAW's future main eventers into a single battle royal. Nice. Because god knows the sky would fall of any of these guys were actually going somewhere. I know I'd much rather see forty minutes of combined Big Show / Nash action than anything involving Benoit, Rhyno, Guerrero, Jericho, Cena, Kendrick, Booker, RVD or Christian. Because those two have proven to be workhorses, time and time again. At least Benoit's on the card this month. This one will be disjointed, because these guys haven't been given many reasons to feud with one another and there are seven total guys in or around the ringside area. Cena and the FBI need the win here more than the other three. Have I mentioned how I dislike six man tags?
Winners: FBI & Cena

Test & Scott Steiner vs. La Resistance

I actually don't mind any of these guys. I'm not exactly shitting my pants with pure excitement every time they enter the ring (that makes two poop references thus far for the Q), but they're not the kind of folks who slowly drain my soul away every time I see them. Steiner and Test are blatantly working the old "two faces team up, split and feud" angle, which is good news for both of them because they don't have anything better to do. Funny, though, three months ago we said the same thing about Kane and RVD. Funnier still, I'm still saying the same thing about those two.

Nice to see the tag division showing signs of life once again, even if they are sputtering signs of life. The flying Frenchmen come to the ring in their berets, speak a language most of the audience doesn't understand, and borrow from the Guerreros' book of "cheat to win." Test gets angry, because post match he catches Scotty S and Stacy K dry humping backstage or something. Steiner looks innocent, Stacy gets that blank, wide-mouthed look on her face and we carry on into next month's card.
Winners: Those crazy Frenchmen

Jazz vs. Trish Stratus vs. Victoria vs. Jacqueline
WWE Women's Title

The women's division has dried up and turned to powder. Jazz thinks she should stand for equality in a women's division that features one blonde white girl, two overpoweringly booked black women, a vaguely Latin woman who held the title for several months in one run, and a spattering of other talent. Trish thinks she's auditioning for the second Matrix trilogy. Jackie thinks she's a professional wrestler, and Victoria's somehow the most entertaining character in the bunch. I liked this title a lot better when it was just Trish, Jazz and Victoria at WrestleMania. Jazz retains, because Rodney Mack was ROBBED of a shot at the IC title.
Winner: Jazz

Torrie Wilson vs. Sable
Bikini Contest

This is officially dubbed a "bikini challenge." Which, I guess, is technically more correct than dubbing it a "Bikini match," as there won't be much of a match to sit back and enjoy hereabouts. I'm having a little difficulty wrapping my mind about the "challenge" in one of these, though. Is it tough to tie the little string in the back of a bikini top? Is it challenging to suppress that urge to pick the wedgie in front of a live audience? I know... it's challenging to endure the sheer agony of the practice known only as a "Brazilian." Never heard of it? Look it up. Here's a hint; it involves wax, unsightly dark hairs and a very uncomfortable place (you mean like the back of a Volkswagen?). Why not just call it the "Brazilian Challenge"? Ahhh, I guess the natives of Brazil might get a little peed off about that, wouldn't they? Is it too obvious I'm just killing time here? Let's say Torrie, because Sable was sagging five years ago.
Winner: Torrie Wilson

Team Angle vs. Eddy Guerrero & ????
WWE Tag Team Championship

It really sucks that Chavo's injury arrived at such a poor time. I wasn't so high on this feud at this point last month, but they somehow managed to make a believer out of me despite a corny, silly build-up involving gold medals and a portrait of Kurt Angle. What can I say? I'm a sucker for ladder matches that don't involve Dusty Rhodes or Bam Bam Bigelow. I'm not sure who they'll pin as Eddy's partner, though popular opinion seems to have chosen Benoit. Personally, I'd like to see somebody totally unexpected, as bringing in the Crippler would just scream of desperation, not to mention conflict with the last five months' worth of storylines. This was an easy call before Chavo's injury, and I've gotta think they'll let Eddy have his gold nonetheless.
Winners: Eddy Guerrero and ???

Lance Storm, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Christian, Kane, Test, Booker T, Goldust and Others
Intercontinental Title Battle Royal

The second match I'm interested in, even though I couldn't tell you the name of everyone involved. I do know that Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho are in the running, so I'm hoping they finally do the right thing and give Y2J the clean pinfall he deserved last month. I don't think the Intercontinental title is going to do any wonders for him at this point, but the blowoff against Michaels is vital to his future survival as a lower-tier main eventer. It's going to be interesting to see how they pull off a battle royal with, like, half a dozen people. And, god help me, if they bring in the Godfather as a "surprise addition" to the event, I'm boycotting next week's RAW.
Winner: Chris Jericho

Mr. America vs. Roddy Piper

I've been relatively amused by the Mr. America storyline thus far, but it's gonna get really obnoxious and unfunny if they don't tie it up REAL soon. It's great to see Hogan coming out to Real American again, dressing up like the Rob Liefeld Captain America and doing the old "Hulk Machine" angle, and it's time to let the whole thing die before that hand is forced. Roddy Piper's still entertaining on the mic, but for the love of god, keep him out of the ring. I was anticipating Vince making this match into a tag bout, with Hogan and Tenacious Z taking on Piper and O'Haire, and I'm willing to bet that'll happen sooner rather than later. As for right now... be strong, fellow enthusiasts. Be strong. This match is likely to be the worst the WWE has seen in YEARS.
Winner: Mr. America

Triple H (c) w/Ric Flair vs. Kevin Nash w/Shawn Michaels
World Heavyweight Title

Not only is Vince McMahon stubborn, outlandish and mentally unstable.. he's also, apparantly, deaf. Two weeks in a row now, crowds have verbally turned on Kevin Nash and his quest for the RAW World Title. And, much as I dislike Kevin Nash, I'd admit if they were wrong in coming to such a harsh conclusion. Fact is, they're not. He looks like a cripple, somebody that shouldn't be actively participating in any sort of physical competition, let alone wrestling for any world titles. He's fought in a total of five matches since returning to the Fed over a year and a quarter ago. He's injured himself in two of those matches, and has looked cautious at best in the others. He hasn't convinced me he should be between the ropes, and the feeling appears to be universal. He's working hard to make this angle work, but his best years are behind him. He shouldn't be acting as a world title contender right now, he should be working to help create them. This match will be a train wreck, and I don't care to see Nash coming out of it on top.
Winner: Triple H

Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Big Show
Stretcher Match for the WWE Title

Oh, man. It's like the crap parade never stops. The Big Show is just dead weight at this point. We've seen Brock land an F-5 on him, several times. The intrigue isn't there any longer... we know it can be done, with relative ease. Paul Heyman hasn't been around to move that plot thread along. The only reason for this match's being is the Show's neat-o spot with Rey Mysterio, Jr. last month. And, apparently, Rey Rey and Ol' Brock are good chums. Not that we'd know, it was never revealed or explored in the storyline prior to this month. Stupid, reckless, spur-of-the-moment booking, two guys who last fought less than three months ago, and a main event I could give two spits about. Brock's coming out with his arm raised here, and he's REALLY gotta find some more credible opponents to pair off with.
Winner: Brock Lesnar

In Closing...

I think it's obvious, but I really don't give a shit about this pay per view. The WWE's done an absolutely horrendous job of building interest in this card, and I am genuinely concerned about how they're gonna pull it off next month, when they kick off their single roster PPV experiment. I've long supported the idea of cutting back on PPV events, but I don't think it's a good idea to do so with only half the active roster to choose from at a time. I suppose time will tell, both for Badd Blood and for this month's Judgment Day. I'm willing to bet this load of ass pulls the worst buyrate Vince McMahon's ever seen.
until next time, i remain

Monday, May 12, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 05/12/03

I'm running behind, my day's sucked ass and I didn't like RAW last night. I have no anticipation built up for Sunday's Pay Per View, the last two live audiences have verbally turned on the face challenger for RAW's World Title, the Big Show is back in the main event on Smackdown's side of things, and Chris Benoit is nowhere to be found. Again. Steve Austin has retired, Kurt Angle's future seems to be more and more in doubt every day, Eddy Guerrero will never get any higher on the card than he is today, and the freaking LEGION OF DOOM returned to RAW last night. Miss Elizabeth is dead, and the best tribute the WWE can come up with is back-to-back sleazy news magazine-style stories on Confidential.

I just wanted to preface this week's writeup with that. I don't have the time or the desire to write a lengthy summary of what I watched last night, but I'm here nonetheless. Here we go...

Christian and Rob Van Dam are over, and Steve Austin is finally beginning to grasp the personality that skyrocketed him to stardom six years ago. Kane hasn't done anything to really justify a run as Tag Team Champion, and his character's been stale for years now. Still, this was a fun interview segment, despite being indescribably random. Why Christian thought his match was curtain-jerking when Goldberg hadn't even arrived at the arena yet is puzzling. Hey, now there's a thought... next time, take advantage of these retarded "Look, this major star is arriving at the arena, forty minutes after we've gone live" segments, by putting their match on first. They'll lose by countout, the heel will look twelve times more intelligent, and maybe the stars will START SHOWING UP ON TIME.

One week after the best match we'll ever see out of them as a team, RVD and Kane followed up by participating in what's (hopefully) the worst match we'll ever see out of them as a team. Hawk and Animal looked completely out of time and out of place here, wandering around the ring in slow motion and attempting offense that was outdated in the mid '90s. It was ugly, but the end result was correct.

Trish and Victoria get into it verbally backstage. Victoria threatens to beat Trish until she's hideous. Autumn wonders aloud, "They surgically constructed her once before... what's to stop them from doing it again once Victoria's finished hitting her?" I can't fathom an answer.

Goldberg's door is slammed shut by a speeding car! He then curses for a solid twelve seconds, (that, or else somebody was leaning on the censor button) jumps out of his own car and roars. Stupid. Remember when wrestling was, you know, a sport? When guys would fight each other because they wanted to build a name for themselves, and not because the door of their car was slammed shut by a speeding limo, driven by their opponent's brother's uncle?

Yay, the Dudleys are back. They're so stale, they make solid green, fuzzy bread with an expiration date in the '70s look fresh. I can take them in small doses as heels. They're absolutely horrendous as faces.

Goldberg and Christian had their cage match. Christian landed about two dozen chairshots, and Goldberg was back up on his feet again a couple minutes later. Nice. This is a pet peeve of mine... people who act like that make everybody who's ever sold a chair in the history of wrestling look like a total ass. And while we're talking pet peeves, let's chat a little about the cage match itself. The point of a cage isn't to just give people something else to fall into. It's an equalizer, an advantage for the small man and a temptation for the big man. The point is to climb over the top of the cage, not to wander effortlessly through the door or gain a pinfall or submission. It's appealing to the guys who can't get over the top, because they want so badly to tear the shit out of the other guy, and an advantage to the smaller guys because maneuverability is key. Dusty Rhodes took part in dozens of cage matches, and you know his fat ass wasn't physically capable of scaling the steel. Last night's "cage match" was just a regular matchup that just happened to take place surrounded by a cage. I hate what WWE's done to this old, treasured format.

Flair and Hurricane was a nice brief spot. Flair is comedy gold, not because he was pantsed mid-ring by the Hurricane, but because he continued to casually wrestle the match for another half minute, cheeks still flapping in the breeze. And how long has it really been since you actually saw someone tap out to the figure four leglock? I don't think it's happened since Flair came back to the federation nearly a year and a half ago. Good match, that saw the Hurricane holding a distinct advantage throughout. Flair won it, as he should have, but he put over Helms throughout.

I lost interest in the program for about a quarter hour, instead concentrating on the tight game of "Baseball Stars 2" I had running on MAME. I did catch Trish's "Matrix Moment," which was a cool premise but looked completely choeographed from where I sat. My team, the American Dreams, won 2-1 in twelve innings.

I did tune back in for that main event. Nash hit three side slams. The last one was preceded by a little hesitation, like he was having deja vu or something. "Wait... did I already do this move? Shit. How's my hair? These vinyl pants kick ASS!" Jericho all but jobs to the big, black pleather-clas machine, before Trips and Flair move in. God bless him, Flair still hasn't changed pants. His whitey-tighties are still hanging out for all to see. Program fades to black as HBK smiles and Nash holds the World Title aloft. At least a bunch of random people in Kevin Nash shirts didn't pour from backstage, cups of beer in hand.

I've never wished so strongly to see John's "win on TV, lose on PPV" formula come true once again as I am right now. The Philly audience verbally turned on Nash last night, proving it wasn't just a Canadian bias thing. The audiences as a whole are not enjoying Nash as a Title contender, and I'm with the majority on this one. While I won't go so far as to say I'd rather be watching Katie Vick segments again, this is still pretty bad. Nash is boring as sin, Triple H isn't doing any miracles and Chris Jericho will never go over a member of the Clique2K3. Life sucks.

So much for a short review.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 2.1

Monday, May 5, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 05/05/03

I was pretty well entertained by this week's show. For certain, there was a lot of room for improvement when the big "WW" with the slash underneath it flashed on the screen, signifying the end of the show, but it was an improvement over last week's mess. I'm not 100% happy with the guys they're pushing in the main events, but I can learn to cope because the storylines aren't totally horrendous. Yet.

Right off the bat, we break the glass and there's Steve Austin. I wonder, if this guy's retired from active ring competition, why is he still wearing those bionic knees to the ring for his promos? He wasn't active last night, aside from climbing the turnbuckles and flipping the bird or drinking beer. If that's putting too much strain on his knees, the knuckles of his middle fingers must be in terrible shape after all this time. How long have we got until he comes out with little braces on both of those guys, too?

Austin gets right to business, reintroducing the intercontinental title and deeming it "the most important belt I ever won." That's instant credibility there, and perhaps the only way they could've reintroduced the thing without completely screwing its historical status. I loathe the idea of a battle royal, since I'm such a big fan of tournaments, but it's at least something to look forward to at Judgment Day. Considering the two main events we've already got lined up for that show, (Trips / Nash and Brock / Big Show) anything that can be done to help is a very good thing. I'm curious as to which former IC champs they've still got on RAW, as off the top of my head I can assume RVD and Kane will be otherwise occupied, defending their tag straps. Right now it looks like the battle royal will consist of Chris Jericho, Christian, Lance Storm, Goldust and... maybe Chief Morley. Did Val Venis ever win the IC title? Please, someone, tell me the Godfather won't be making a triumphant return for this event.

Lawler / Morley ended in about the only way it really could have. They booked themselves into a corner by creating the match in the first place, as everyone knew Lawler had to win, but Morley needed to come off as somebody who's got a fighting chance in singles competition. It could've only ended in two ways; JR interfering to give the win to King, or Lawler turning heel and aligning with Bischoff. That, or they could've done something completely out of left field and genuinely surprise the audience by putting Morley over clean. Considering the third option wasn't really an option, I think they went with the next best choice. Morley had the match put away cleanly before JR illegally interfered and cost him the win. Lawler didn't look TOO strong, though I've gotta question the logic of holding back on the active piledriver ban for him. That was one of the laziest, sloppiest, most dangerous performances of the maneuver I've seen in quite a while, and the man used it as a freaking TRANSITION MOVE. One second they're standing around, the next we've got a piledriver being delivered without even a punch or a kick to lead into it.

Bischoff and Austin as co-GMs is working surprisingly well thus far, with the most notable side effect being Austin's return to the unpredictable character that rocketed him to stardom. For the longest time, he's been too concerned with coming off as a face and doing what the fans would like to see him do, ignoring the very premise that got him into that position in the first place. When he stunned Coach from out of nowhere this week, it was a nice change of pace. It's like somebody I hadn't seen in a long, long time had come back into town for a prolonged visit.

Last night housed probably the best match we'll ever see out of Kane and RVD as a tag team. Everybody looked good in that match, as they all bumped around the ring for one another and gave us a really competitive, heavyweight-themed tag matchup. RVD did the brunt of the work, managing to recover from a leaping backside kick that missed by roughly three miles, and eventually putting the match away with a well timed and beautifully executed frog splash. I've always been a much bigger fan of Eddy Guerrero's splash, but I'll give credit where it was due. A nice solid TV match, with a clean finish that didn't make anybody look bad. That's good for the tag division and good for you and me.

I like the way the fed's begun using the talk show gimmick once again. Though the idea was eventually bastardized beyond belief, (eg: Jake's Snake Pit, The Undertaker's Mortuary) it was originally stupendous, with Roddy Piper really leading the way in his pit. So long as they keep it down to just Y2J and Roddy Piper every week, and don't go talk show crazy again (eg: Test's Testicle Hour, Hurricane and Friends, the vaChyna Monologues) I'll dig it. I'm not super crazy about the way they're emphasizing Jericho as a talk show host and not a wrestler, because he's the best thing going on RAW at the moment, but he'll find a way to make it work for him. He always does.

Then again, it only took them two weeks to get to the natural storyline of "guest gets angry, beats up host and destroys set," so I'm hoping we haven't seen the end of this little trend already. Nash was inspired enough to cut a great, emotional promo, before the now-notorious long brawl with Trips. They get an "E" for effort, since both guys were clearly trying to make this a heated feud, but when you throw two pieces of crap together and they make an interesting sound... in the end, they're still crap. The crowd grabbed my utmost respect by immediately turning on the main eventers, especially Nash, to the point where even JR and Lawler had to acknowledge it. At the moment, I thought the crowd was chanting "You both suck", but Samir's translation of "Diesel sucks" sounds more likely.

That whole segment was a prime example of the writers completely misreading their fanbase. The entire thing was just hysterical. Two guys, with the most beautiful heads of hair I've ever seen, bloodying one another in and around the ring as the crowd cuts loose with the hatred. Nash even turned to the audience and raised one fist in triumph, which was met by an overpowering chorus of boos. Jesus, I haven't heard that many boos since the original "goose" thread in the Oratory Forums.

Lance Storm was in orbit last night. That Canadian crowd was so pro-Storm, it wasn't even funny. Kudos to WWE for allowing him to come out waving a Canadian flag and soaking up the cheers, despite being a heel for almost his entire run with the company. It's nice to let some genuine emotion slide into the script once in a while, isn't it? Too bad he jobbed to Booker, but I've got no problem with that. These two have put on some damn fine matches in the past, (notably in WCW, when Storm was on his title-collecting frenzy just after his debut and Booker had just won the World Title) but this one didn't hold a candle to them. Wasn't it possible for them to cut out about five minutes from the beer bash and grant this match a little additional time?

La Resistance looked passable. I've seen better teams, but I've also seen much worse. That they came to the ring wearing berets deserves immediate applause, though. You've gotta admire a couple of guys with balls that big. Tommy Dreamer stole the spotlight with that crazy cool DDT / Neckbreaker combo, but eventually laid down for a few cane shots. I really like that they're putting these guys against Steiner and Test right away, as it's giving more substance to the tag division and giving the new team a little time to get over with crowds before their imminent title feud against Van Dam and Kane. Nice to see a rare moment of solidarity between Test and Steiner, too. 99% of the time, that segment would've ended with Scotty suplexing his partner from behind, for inadvertantly costing them a match earlier in the night. I was pleasantly surprised. Maybe there is life in the tag division's future after all.

I am completely disinterested in the women's division again. Trish has lost so many matches against Jazz in the long run, that it's hard to imagine she deserves another title shot at Judgment Day, even after losing this match through questionable means.

Goldberg's got new tights to go with his new music. Why didn't they use "Rip Em" as his theme music again? Is the WWE too good for Megadeth? I was cringing the moment they even mentioned this match, because this was Goldberg, this was Canada, and his opponent was Canadian. Far from a perfect equation. Surprisingly enough, though, he came out to a pretty decent reaction that sustained throughout his appearance. Either the WWE's become uncannily good at canning heat, and they've also mastered the art of superimposing members of the audience, (mouthing "Gooooldbeeeeerg") or he was genuinely over. Though I'm still unhappy to see him no-selling chair shots on a regular basis, they've still got something worth investing further interest in with him. My major question is why the ref counted a pinfall and sounded the bell after Goldberg speared, jackhammered and pinned Rico. That's right up there with Scott Steiner tagging himself in from a neutral corner to win a tag match a couple weeks ago. Poor officiating or poor writing, your call.

The show then wrapped up with Austin's promised "beer bash", in which Goldberg had to have become mind bogglingly drunk. Where Austin usually pours beers into his mouth, delivering most of the payload onto his chest and spitting out the rest, Goldberg downed about half a dozen cans in under a minute. His eyes glazed over, he then stalked around the ring merrily, climbing the turnbuckle (nearly falling a couple times in the process) and roaring a goofy drunken roar at the live crowd. The show then spiralled completely into lunacy, as about a hundred random people in Steve Austin t-shirts poured from the backstage area with red cups full of frothy liquid pleasure, and surrounded the ring. And the WWE stayed with the live footage for a full five minutes.

Seriously, what the HELL? That had to be among the most bizarre closing moments I've ever seen on RAW. Otherwise, a pleasantly offbeat show. They made some mistakes, but they also kept me entertained. It was a solid episode, with a few storylines that could go somewhere. I'm not entirely enthused, but I'm not feeling alienated either.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4