Never one to lollygag around, I think I'll take this opportunity to break internet rule number one; Triple H has been doing a damn fine job since dropping the title two months ago. Sure, he's been out of the ring for nearly a month... but one thing he hasn't done is let us forget about him. He's kept his face on the screen nearly every week, and he's done so in a way that neither dominates the program nor diminishes any of the new ongoing storylines. The $100,000 subplot was a great premise, and featured a nice follow-through. His reunification of Evolution's founding members was well timed and moved the focus to Batista, not himself. And, finally, his interaction with both Lita and Steve Austin was perfectly in-character and entertaining. Don't get me wrong, I certainly don't want to see the belt back around his waist this Sunday night, but it's nice to see that the guy can still give us a very entertaining show if he's really motivated.
Now that I mention it, all of Evolution looked really good last night. Batista's really taking strides, both in character and in performance, Orton is becoming the embodiment of confidence and Flair is... well, Flair. His presence was missed last night, but it didn't hurt the stable as much as you'd think. If you've read any of my older stuff, you'll know I'm a big fan of strong heel stables, and that's precisely what Evolution is. They manage to stand up to face authority without picking up any of the "cool heel" vibes that permeated the late '90s.
I loved the build granted to Team Bischoff last night, as well. Jericho played the role of leader to perfection, hyping up each member individually before Orton attempted to undermine his self-proclaimed authority. Who could've predicted I'd be even remotely interested in a match featuring Mark Henry, Scott Steiner and the Dudley Boyz on PPV?
Christian vs. RVD wasn't up to snuff, especially when compared to their previous encounters, and really felt more like two old guys going through the motions than two young guys trying to build a name for themselves. It's really obvious that they don't want to put themselves at risk with a big match just around the corner at the Survivor Series. That, or they're receiving way too much backstage dictation about the performance of their matches.
The Resistance / Supermen match was actually pretty quick and decent. I'm really enjoying Rob Conway, and it's nice to see Shane Helms motivated again, even if it's something that always seems to wear off after he's been in the ring longer than a couple minutes. That crossbody to the floor was beautiful, and makes me wish they'd just ditch that damn gimmick already and let him live up to his capabilities. I had no problem with the finish of this one, (aside from the fact that it came far too soon) since Conway was alertly following up the damage Dupree had just done to Helms's neck, and I'm all about psychology and unexpected finishes, folks.
No comment on the Lance Storm segment. Morley and Storm are both tremendously talented guys, so if a dick joke or two is all it's going to take to get them in higher-profile spots on the card, I can live with it.
The women's match made sense, even if it continued the sad trend of the steadily decreasing quality in the ladies' matches. I've been commenting on Terri's uselessness for YEARS now, so it's good to see her in a position where she might be off television for a while. Great in-character strategy by Molly and Gail, right out of the gates, by attacking the weakest link and starting the match before Lita had a chance to state that she wanted to start out for her team. Molly Holly is, without a doubt, one of the most well-developed characters on the roster at the moment, regardless of gender. She's been playing that "veteran surprises her opponent and steals a win" card inventively for months on end, and it's yet to get old. Lita, on the other hand, really didn't look good in there once Terri did make the hot tag, which makes me even more worried about the outcome of her women's title match this Sunday. They've surprised me thus far with the excellent booking of the women's division, however, so they've earned enough respect from me to give them the benefit of the doubt with this follow-through.
I wasn't super excited by the Michaels / Orton match, which came as a surprise. Especially after bouncing his way through a wholly entertaining match against Mark Henry just one week ago, I'm surprised HBK couldn't do more with what Orton has to offer. The match made good tactical sense, with Randy focusing on the veteran's neverending back injury throughout the match, but for whatever reason I just couldn't get into it. Maybe it has something to do with that "sudden, inexplicable comeback into the superkick" thing Shawn's been doing a little too often lately. Seriously, if we're going to bitch about no-selling, we can't pick and choose our guilty parties. The only way the ending of this match makes sense is if Orton pins Michaels cleanly in the center of the ring this Sunday.
The Shane n' Kane dinner spectacular was a really joltingly inappropriate bit of television. How do you go from electrocuting a man's genitals one week to casually sitting down with him for dinner the next? I know the effect they were trying for with this, and it might have worked when the feud was just now gearing up... but after numerous attempted homicides, a serious burning and a vicious electrocution, it just made both guys look like morons. I had next to no interest in seeing this match as it was, but after a segment like that, even that tiny shred of hope has fallen out of the picture. Just kill this feud already. Please. It's already ruined the only consistantly entertaining McMahon and one of RAW's greatest potentials. Stop the madness now, before somebody else gets hurt.
The Dudleys vs. Mizark / Steiner match was just as bad as I expected going in. I'd like to see how it could be justified that this match could possibly deserve twice as much time as, say, Christian / RVD or even the La Resistance / Hurricane & Rosey tag. This was just sloppy, lengthy and boring, showcasing the wrong aspects of each man and doing nothing to improve anyone.
I hope to god Stevie Ray stays the fuck away from RAW. This whole mystery that's begun to swirl around Booker T has done nothing but deliver bad premonitions for me... which is a good thing, I guess. Unless they do something characteristically stupid, this will be a pleasant little surprise when it's all finally revealed. But then again, I know what these bookers are capable of. Hell, at least they're doing something with Booker. Good or bad, he's going to remain active.
I thought Jericho and Booker were wrestling in Denver or something, judging by the way both men appeared to be a little out of their heads and affected by something in the air. It's like somebody changed the alignment in Booker's tires by a sixteenth of an inch; it's not something he's going to notice until he's trying to do something that requires exact precision. In the end, they managed to fight their way through a botched spot into a finish that probably looked more convincing than the original spot would've, had it been performed correctly.
Misguided or no, I was looking forward to seeing what Batista and Goldberg could do with one another, and was surprised to see a relatively decent match for the first minute and a half. Batista legitimately held his own and further solidified his arrival near the top of the midcard by matching Goldberg blow for blow and working on his obviously injured ankle / shin. I especially liked the spot where he attempted to wrap the champ's lower leg around the ringpost... that's something that's guaranteed to make you limp, broken ankle or no. And then, just when things looked to be headed in a surprisingly positive direction, Goldberg came out of nowhere to hit the spear and prepare for the jackhammer before intereference ended the match itself. Wha...? That's your main event? I had a problem with Shawn Michaels doing the exact same thing not twenty minutes earlier, and you can bet your ass I have a problem with Goldberg doing it here.
A below average show, putting a damper on the upswing RAW had been on for the last couple of weeks. I liked a lot of the character direction taken here, which is something I'm pleased to see continuing with every passing week. I like the build for the Team Austin / Team Bischoff survivor match. I like the role Evolution has filled on this roster. I didn't like the majority of the booking, and the show didn't fill me with any motivation to order the Survivor Series, except maybe to see who's gonna turn on Stone Cold. There's still a lot of potential on this show, but this week was a lame duck.
Overall Score: 3.85