Monday, September 22, 2003

WWE RAW Review: 09/22/03

So it's been a couple weeks, and I've got a thing or two to say. It's been suggested that I give away too much in my introductions, so this week we're going to try the "jump into the pool without getting your feet wet" method. Hah, isn't it funny that I'm considering this to be a super major change to my writing style, when other guys are completely altering the way they structure these things? I'm such a loser... but hey, let's talk about RAW.

In what must look like something of a trend for the second week running, I missed the first twenty minutes of the show this week. Don't blame me, blame Circuit City for remaining open until the hour posted on the front of the store. Bastards... forcing me to work until the time I was scheduled. But, fortunately enough, the production team was kind enough to show me various replays of the Goldberg spear I missed. I like the direction they're going with this whole thing, as it really feels like something big is on the horizon between Goldberg, Austin, Jericho and Bischoff... but I'll admit I'm glad I only missed a fifteen minute promo and some limited interaction between the usual suspects.

I am a little displeased that I missed everything but the finish of the Christian / RVD match, as I think both guys are quite good at what they do (yes, even RVD) and this may have been a solid, entertaining match. Then again, they're also both known for being very hot and cold workers, and have put me to sleep just as many times as they've shot some lightning into my living room. I like the direction, I like the guys involved, and I like the Intercontinental Title being at stake. It looks like the writing team may finally be getting their wits around them here, and actually deciding who's supposed to go where on the roster, how they're going to get them there and what bumps they'll hit along the way. I'm interested in seeing where they'll take us with the ladder match next week.

I was absolutely loving the Jericho / Austin interaction throughout the night, for several reasons. 1) It points out the flaws that have been forming in Austin's character since long before WrestleMania. 2) It puts two respected athletes at odds with one another, in a storyline that's consistent, believable and entertaining. Nobody's nuts are getting fried, one man is merely growing tired of another man's abuse of power. 3) Holy hell, they're actually doing something with Jericho again. And he looks credible, despite dropping the main event cleanly to Goldberg. Bischoff and Y2J, despite their well-documented problems with one another, make one hell of a dynamic on-screen duo, with Jericho playing the well-read, self-centered leader from outside the spotlight he's always been destined to portray.

OK, I was into the Mizark Hizenry thing for all of a couple weeks, when they were using him as the powerhouse of a tag team. The "powerslam from nowhere" finisher was cool at first, then surprising to see again, and now stupid and redundant. The thing that sucks about pushing a guy like this is that you have to feed underutilized talent to him on a regular basis. Let Mack lay down in a tag match of two. Give Henry a REASON to be determined, goal-oriented and fucking pissed off. Don't give us this wanna-be garbage / hardcore slop.

The women's match was outstanding, as the division continues to show up the men, week-in and week-out. This is just a shot in the dark, but maybe it's got something to do with natural storyline progression, believable feuds, a lack of gimmicks, clean-cut characters, lengthy TV matches with clean finishes, or wrestlers that know how to... oh, I don't know... WRESTLE?? Molly Holly's role means more than Triple H's role right now, because she constantly goes out there and shows us why she's the champion of the division, rather than merely grabbing a mic, sitting on her ass and telling us. She's been logically booked for months as the veteran of the division, and she proved it again last night by telling a forty page story from bell to bell focusing on Lita's neck. Great match, which is beginning to come as no surprise from these gals.

The Test / Steiner segment was unintentionally hilarious to my fiancee and I, climaxing in Steiner's witty closing comeback of "HERE'S YOUR... FFBAGG!!" It's like you could actually hear the gears grinding to a halt inside his mind.

Shane and Kane in the hospital wasn't the worst thing I'd ever seen. Shane got another laugh out of us when he responded to a brutal initial beatdown with a loud, unconcerned "Oh... man!" but they steered away from anything too hokey here, and focused on the hatred between the two, which should honestly be the real point anyway. On that same page, how long has it been since we saw anyone in a vulnerable position like this WITHOUT getting assaulted or surprised at one point or another? Variety is the spice of life, so let's kick it up another notch.

It seemed a little strange that Conway and Dupree, the two heavily bandaged members of La Resistance, were involved in the physicalities last night while Grenier appeared unhurt and stood uselessly on the floor. This match was poor. None of these guys are going anywhere fast in the current scheme, and share a need of serious character overhauls.

Even though I still love Evolution and I've made an effort not to make any blind judgments on Triple H, I've got to admit the way he walked out of WWE for a couple weeks really blew. Here's a guy who had a chance to help create a new star or further establish an old one, to give back to the business he's supposedly so fond of, by working some sort of injury angle to explain his absence from the show in the coming weeks. Instead, he squashed three nobodies, grabbed a mic and basically announced he'd let RAW decay in his wake, and then return to save us all from ourselves in about a month. Don't do us any favors, Trips. The match was lame, with the rookies actually gathering much of the offense (and subsequently killing the match) before Trips hit his finisher and dragged the Nature Boy on top of Maven. There's so much wrong with the way that ended, I don't even know where to begin.

I didn't exactly piss myself with happiness for the Rock's promo last night. If anything, it slightly disturbed me. The guy's slowly regressing back into the bland, catchphrase-dependent bore who was forced to turn heel by the audience at RAW's tenth anniversary... which is a far cry from the tremendously reinvented man he became for a few months before and after WrestleMania this year. He still seems like he'd be a really fun guy to hang out with, sure, but he's just not a compelling wrestling personality when he acts like that. Didn't help the show, but I suppose it didn't hinder it either.

I thought Jericho actually had a chance in the main event, since Goldberg's name seemed to be written on a piece of masking tape and then stuck to the bottom of the title belt, but I'm not pissed off that he did the job either. Y2J once again looked like the smartest guy in wrestling, working over the champion's one visible weak spot after a nasty-looking spear into the ring steps. And, aside from the jackhammer that ended the match, Goldie did a commendable job of selling it through the entire match too. There were a couple really strange moments, like when Goldberg didn't see Chris charging from behind him and, as such, didn't step out of the way to force Jericho's offense to hit Bischoff instead. So Y2J "covered" by nailing his boss with a forearm shot that could in no way be misconstrued as being aimed at Goldberg.

It was a good match, especially for free TV, though and I'l' give it credit for that. I especially enjoyed the ending, as Austin KOed his fellow General Manager without provocation and Coach made a point of noticing it. I'm telling you, this storyline between Jericho and Austin hasn't even really begun yet. I like where they're going with it. A lot.

Thinking positively, this had a very strong women's match, a nice TV main event and the beginning of an angle that's got me very interested. It's below average, sure, but not by much. I'm glad to see the well hasn't completely run dry after the latest brand-exclusive PPV effort, and I'm anticipating that ladder match next week. I could still do with a more well rounded program, but this was a positive step.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 4.7

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