Monday, September 8, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 09/08/03

This week was a mild improvement over last... which, honestly, isn't really that great of a compliment at all. I'm gonna stand firm in my observation that, to truly enjoy RAW for all that it is, you must first switch your brain to the "off" position, lean back, let the mouth loll open and just kinda drool there while JR and the King shout at you. The stories weren't quite as ugly and incomprehensible as they were last week, but they were close. McMahon and company still subscribe to the rigid "faces get along with all faces, heels get along with all heels" train of thought, as evidenced by the ten man tag match, and the wrong guys are still going over in the wrong positions. It's sort of like they're running an anti-promotion anymore, despite the random flickers of hope here and there.

This week's show has been pretty universally deemed a dead-average effort, with a couple good ideas offset by a couple bad ones. A good match with a bad one, and so forth. I'd take issue with that fact, but I'll still consent that RAW deserves a little bit of credit this week. At the very least, I didn't feel completely embarrassed to have spent so much of my life tuning in to the ongoing saga of pro wrestling. That's gotta mean something, right?

Then again, it's pretty damned pathetic that I've gotta stoop to saying "well, I'm not embarrassed" to validate one week's RAW Score from the last.

This week kicked off abruptly with the mucho-hyped cage match between RVD and Kane, which I felt came off a little bit lame. From the cage's unwillingness to cooperate with the gimmicked break near the end of the match to RVD's blatant, camera-focused blade job to the way both guys blew up within about a minute of the first bell, it just wasn't meant to be for these two this week. They've both had much better matches, both together and on their own, and it just didn't feel like as big a match as JR and Jerry were trying to convince us it was. The booking was a little awkward, too, as Kane was wandering around on the floor only seconds after Bischoff had told us that to win the match you had to either climb the cage or walk out the door, and that RVD hadn't won after all. OK, so how did Kane get out there? Don't tell me he pushed the broken cage out and slid under the ropes that way.

I just couldn't get into the match, since it was almost blatantly obvious that no sort of upset would be going down on this night. I'll give them credit for working the match primarily like an old cage match, rather than the modern WWE "just climb through the door" rules, but it wasn't enough to cancel out everything else this match had going against it.

I'll give credit where it's due; the Lance Storm gimmick actually seems to be going somewhere, which isn't something I'd imagined was possible a couple of months ago. Of course, all he's really done is screw around backstage with Goldust, kiss the horse-faced Jackie Gayda and pin Rico Constantino, but it did actually seem like he turned a corner last night. I'll admit it got a laugh out of me when he busted out the cabbage patch after the pinfall, and they let him continue to wrestle the same style as always, so that's a thumbs up I suppose.

I'll be damned, the women's division is still the most solid division on RAW. I like the little mentor-student story they're running with Molly and Gail Kim here, and I adore that they're actually letting the heels look strong in the ring on a regular basis. Gail has toned down her offense a great deal, and seems to be finally settling down to get some work done. She's not attempting a highspot every fifteen seconds followed by a series of hurricanranas, she's taking her time and working a much more grounded style. I had very little problem with any of the women's match last night, as they're setting up a perfect situation for Lita's return and Trish isn't losing any face by jobbing to such convincing heels. That, and the double backdrop to the floor in the middle of the match was about perfect. Very nice.

I liked the gentle beer tossing segment between Jericho and Austin, along with the feigned face turn for Y2J, but that segment just went on WAY too long. Austin's starting to sink, heading back to the same lines and phrases he used a couple years ago just after the birth of his "what" catchphrase. He needs something to do, really soon. There's only so many times you can see a guy go out to the ring, talk about alcohol, crack open a beer and hit an unjustified stunner. Also, when did Linda say that he could attack "anyone who touched him?" I could've sworn the exact wording was that he couldn't attack anyone without "physical provocation." Which, last I checked, doesn't include a friendly pat on the shoulder. Oops... hey, who switched my brain back on? Sonnuvabitch, turn it off quick! This show's bound to make it overheat.

But hey, isn't it interesting how they start to test the waters of a Jericho face turn JUST as HHH is about to finally drop the title to another guy? Man, we're NEVER going to see Y2J with the belt again.

That ten man tag was ugly. REAL ugly. It made a heavy petting session involving Mae Young, Janet Reno and vaseline look somewhat appealing. Mizark Hizenry looks to have screwed up his knee somewhere in the middle of this disorganized clusterfuck, which kind of sucks because they'd been using him pretty well over the last month. He's been booked as the big, overbearing monster who only comes in to work the closing fifteen seconds of a match and look like a fucking unstoppable bastard. I'd say that showcases his strengths (build, attitude, power moves with no transition) while minimizing his weaknesses (conditioning, ability to perform more than three moves, cognizance on the microphone). And, judging from the state of the RAW tag team scene, this could turn out to be a pretty big loss.

That Spike Dudley fall was just horrific. I wouldn't put it in the same class as the Sid leg break per se, but it was definitely gruesome. I have no idea how that guy's still walking, after all the nasty spots he's been on the wrong side of.

I still don't care a bit about the Steiner / Test feud, implied homosexual overtones or no. Turn Steiner heel already.

The Coach / Snow and JR / Lawler segment just kept going from bad to worse. I can't believe they're trying to sell us on this match with legitimate nose-to-nose segments in the middle of the ring between Coachman and Ross. Everything about that segment had JR as the heel and Coach as the face, which is par for the entire feud now I guess. Coach had every reason for turning after Lawler's constant, unprovoked criticism and mockery during his tenure behind the mic... and now JR takes a blatant pot shot while Coach is turned away, celebrates and then kicks Snow out of the ring while his back is turned. What a fucking wuss. Be a man about it, JR. Try to hit the guy when he's looking at you. Even if I weren't an online columnist, I'd be cheering for Coach and Al Snow in this one. Fight the power!

I didn't mind the main event, mostly because Goldberg sold that man-sized chairshot as though he'd taken a direct hit from a cannon. The heels all look strong and Goldie doesn't lose any face, because it took three men to kick his ass. Trips seemed almost handicapped out there, strolling around as gingerly as possible, and I'm starting to wonder what kind of condition he'll be in when Unforgiven rolls around.

All in all, this was below average. I liked the women's match, the main event and the fact that they're sticking to their guns on this push for Lance Storm, but I didn't care at all for the ten man tag, the cage match or the announcers' feud. The whole show kept getting derailed just as it appeared to be headed in the right direction. What's really starting to bother me is where they can possibly go once this PPV has passed and most of their ongoing feuds have come to a close. The roster is looking dangerously thin, and I haven't a clue where the next main event challenger will pop up from. It's starting to look like the whole brand extension may have run its course, from where I sit. Then again, it wouldn't be the first time I've been wrong.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.35

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