Monday, March 21, 2005

WWE RAW Review: 03/21/05

I really do have next to no time this week, thanks to visiting family from out of town, so don't be surprised if this is the short short version. But hey, it's almost WrestleMania time, and I can't let myself go a week without getting a word or two in, so here we go. The road to WM continues, and I think we just passed a sign saying the next exit is ours. I should be paying attention to this shit.

I was glad to see HBK facing off with Rob Conway, rather than the other, far more useless, half of La Resistance. Like John, I'm a big fan of Conway's work, and I've seen him do little more than improve since showing up on Monday nights a few years back. His ringwork has been solid at worst since the first time we caught a glimpse of him, and his character's grown remarkably for somebody with little or no mic time to establish himself. So, ah, yeah. I like Rob Conway and I was excited at the potential of seeing him in there with Shawn Michaels. And, for what it was, it wasn't bad at all. Both guys really busted their humps and set the crowd ablaze right from the get-go. Unfortunately, "what it was" was a pretty lopsided victory for HBK. This match reminded me a lot of a match I saw in person a handful of years ago, a few months after Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko and Saturn had jumped to the WWF, when Eddie Guerrero met Steve Austin in an impromptu singles match that nearly sent me into cardiac arrest when I saw it on the card upon my entrance to the arena. I knew it could've been a real career-making moment for Eddie, and couldn't wait to see how he'd match up with the Rattlesnake, but when the match actually came to pass it was the very definition of a one-sided battle. Austin just crushed him. Obviously, everything turned out for the best... Guerrero wasn't even close to being on the same level as Stone Cold at that time, Austin would go on to solidify Chris Benoit in the main event a year or two later, and Guerrero would be a future World Champion, but at the time I was a little miffed about what I saw as a huge missed opportunity. Like Eddie Guerrero at the time, Rob Conway could've really benefitted from a small rub from the aging superstar on the other side of the ring last night, but it didn't happen because Michaels needs to look strong going into WrestleMania. It wouldn't have made sense to go down any other way, which is unfortunate for the former Tag Team Champion.

It's getting close to WrestleMania time, obviously, which means it's the time of year when the post production guys start really REALLY kicking some ass. Those vignettes hyping the careers of Kurt Angle and Randy Orton were jaw-droppingly effective. Seriously great stuff. I'm sure I'll get tired of seeing them once they've aired half a dozen times each during the event itself, but as of this writing I'm totally loving them.

But then, just as I'm starting to get psyched up for the big event, they had to go and remind me of one of the multiple reasons I'm kind of dreading this year's event as much as I'm anticipating it. Christy Hemme. In the ring. Competing for the women's title. And flattening Molly Holly along the way. Joy. Anybody who had any sort of doubt as to who would be winning that match after the heel team was introduced as Molly, Maven and Simon needs to pay a little more attention to the record books. These guys must be a combined 1-398 since last year's WrestleMania. I seriously can't remember a match any of them have been on the winning side of, aside from Maven's by-association victory at the 2004 Survivor Series. Maybe one of them won a dark match somewhere or something, I dunno. Regardless, this was a below-average match at best and I really could've lived without it, all things considered. If this was supposed to convince me of Christy's surprising ability in the ring and cause an about-face in my opinion of her upcoming title match at WrestleMania, that mission can be considered a complete and total failure.

Triple H then hit the ring to cut his next-to-last pre-WrestleMania promo, which should've been totally intense, venemous, show-selling goodness. Instead? He drags a chair into the ring, delivers one of the most monotonous, boring, uninspired speeches of his main event career and tries to get clever by bringing the Terry Schiavo case into his rant against Batista. Yeah, like I'm not already entirely sick and tired of hearing about that fucking case every moment of the day. Hey, BREAKING NEWS UPDATE! She's still staring off into the distance blankly, the judge is still thinking about what he'd like to have for lunch, and there's still nothing new to report! We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming, but stay tuned for more thrilling updates like the one you've just heard. Remember what I said about the mixed tag a few words ago? I could've lived without it? Apply the same emotion to this segment. If Hunter doesn't have anything important to say, PLEASE don't send him out there to struggle to find a way to integrate the C-SPAN update he just watched into a wrestling promo.

Fortunately, some combination of the names Jericho, Benjamin, Benoit, Edge, Christian and Orton were in the ring together not long after, to end the string of ugliness before it got too totally out of hand. The RAW upper-midcard / main event cusp scene is just unreal right now, comparable to both the "Smackdown Six" era John mentioned earlier and the heyday of the WCW midcard. Which is both funny and kind of sad, because Jericho and Benoit were members of that scene a full eight years ago. These guys are carrying RAW on their shoulders at the moment, with a bit of occasional help from the supporting cast, Triple H and Ric Flair, and this match was all the proof you'll ever need of that. I can't think of any combination of these guys that wouldn't work well together, either in singles or tag team action, yet I'm continually amazed by that very same compatibility as they're matched up together week after week. This entire match made sense, every single guy was busting his ass to make it a good one, and the right team went over. I can't ask for much more than that, especially this close to the big event.

Ric Flar was then shown backstage, motivating the troops for the upcoming lumberjack match. What amazed me was that Chris Masters was in attendance, all but taking notes on what Flair had to say. It couldn't have been more than three or four weeks ago that he debuted, running into Flair outside of his limo and telling the Nature Boy to "pay attention, you might learn something." What changed between then and now?

I liked the Orton promo, actually, obvious as it was, although I'm a little befuddled about their reasoning for the shirt; why list Booker T and Rob Van Dam, and not Chris Benoit, the man he beat to capture his first World Title and a name I'd wager many would place ahead of Book and RVD in the list of all-time legends? Not really something that bothered me, it just caught my attention is all. The segment started slow, with Orton searching in vain for the right words, but took off once he planted one on Stacey and went right back into full heel mode. Even though he only spoke for another minute at the most before hitting the RKO and leaving the ring, the difference in his mannerisms was like night and day. It's like that kiss flipped a switch in his mind and he suddenly realized how to speak with conviction again. Great segment that needed to be done to clear up any misconceptions that may have been lingering after his face-off with Jake Roberts last week.

Nice to see Benoit on the giving side of a squash for a change, and to see him returning to the straightforward crossface after a few months of tweaks and variations on the maneuver. Like Matt said, this match needed to happen to help him rebound from the loss to Triple H last week, although I don't think he'd lost all that much steam anyway, and it delivered just the kind of message Benoit should be associated with. He don't fuck around in that ring, and if you piss him off you're just giving him an excuse to hang onto that crossface for an extra couple of seconds.

I had a lot of trouble getting into the main event, pitting Batista against Kane in a 'hoss vs. hoss lumberhoss match,' and while it wasn't quite as bad as I'd feared it might be going in, it wasn't good either. Both guys looked a little lost out there on their own, and while the action outside of the ring covered for them for the most part, there were still a few awkward moments that stuck out. They told the story that needed to be told, of Batista overcoming all odds and powerbombing the seven foot monster, which spoke to his strength and credibility more than any odd backstage promo ever could. So, storyline-wise, this was a solid main event. Pity I can't say the same about the actual wrestling.

Pretty much a hot-and-cold mix, with every good segment being cancelled out by a bad one. Overall, I thought the direction of the program was a good one, so I'm calling this above-average, but not by much. A real disappointment coming off last week's show.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 5.6

Monday, March 14, 2005

WWE RAW Review: 03/14/05

This week's broadcast opens up with the Highlight Reel already set up in the ring, Y2J himself atop a ladder, and the four-corner pyro welcoming us to "RAW is Jericho." I'm really starting to recognize how good an eye Jericho has for cool, prop-related shots in the weeks building up to a big gimmick match. Whether he's cleaning Shawn Michaels' clock with a chair and standing, iconically, over his crumpled body, (after HBK had single-handedly taken out every other man involved in their upcoming Elimination Chamber match) barking orders, seated, from the top of a cage (while his cronies dismantle their opponents in an upcoming Survivor Series match) or launching an opening tirade at the top of a ladder, (with only a few weeks remaining before his big WrestleMania six-way ladder match) he always seems to know precisely how to remind viewers of his upcoming brawls. He and Randy Orton didn't have much of an exchange here before Chris shocked the live audience (and, I'd presume, most of the viewing audience) by introducing Jake "The Snake" Roberts, the Undertaker's first ever WrestleMania opponent. It was cool to see the snake-man again, especially accompanied by his old entrance music, and while his work on the mic was as venomous as ever, no pun intended, it was tough to get past how bad he really looked. Maybe it wouldn't have been so obvious if they hadn't immediately preceded his appearance with footage from the end of his heyday, but Jake was almost unrecognizable and it was almost painful to watch him moving around. He and Randy had a refreshingly intense verbal sparring session, with Roberts coming off as the crotchety old man who feels he's being disrespected and Orton as the arrogant young punk in need of a spanking, which spoke volumes about Jake's edge in experience on the stick. When the Snake said something, even if the words themselves didn't really hit the mark, the way in which he said it and the furious expression on his face more than made up for the slack. When the Legend Killer took the mic to retort, it was almost a mirror image. He said all the right things, but it was almost as though he were reciting them, they were so wooden and emotionless. I hope the younger Orton was taking notes.

Of course, this was all building to the inevitable RKO, which the live crowd spit all over. I complained about Orton's beating of his tweener GM last week, but now that I look back on it, I can see that it was merely the first seeds of his eventual heel turn being planted. I liked that this wasn't a total disrespect to Jake, as he got in probably twice as much offense as any of the other semi-retired legends who have suffered an RKO in the past, while at the same time it didn't kill Orton's momentum. He was caught off-guard by Roberts' sudden strike, almost driven into the mat by that famous DDT, but pulled a reversal out of his ass and flattened the old man at the last possible moment. A really strong opening segment that lent a little more legitimacy to the Undertaker's record at WrestleMania, and should've given Orton something to think about in the days before that contract signing on Smackdown. The Taker beat this guy twelve years ago, when the Snake was still in competitive shape and the deadman was still a rookie. If Jake could catch Orton by surprise today, well out of his prime, what does that say about the legend killer's chances at WrestleMania, where he faces an Undertaker who's still in ring shape?

The Christian / Tomko vs. Kane handicap match was about what I expected going in, if not better. I don't see how this puts Christian on any kind of level playing field going in, when every other guy in the ladder match has been built as a serious threat and a near-equal to the other men involved in the "money in the bank" six-way, but I guess we've still got a few weeks left to build him back up. If anything, that's been one of Christian's strengths as a character; he can get completely obliterated for a month running, then come out and have an unbelievable match with somebody like Randy Orton, Chris Jericho or Shelton Benjamin, and wind up just as hot as he was before, if not more so. I thought Tomko had blown Kane's knee out with that ugly running kick, since he slid right into it and Kane seemed to be favoring it for the rest of the match, but by the time he hit the chokeslam it was back to supporting most of his weight again.

Gene Snitsky looked like he fell into a mountain of fire-ants last night. Holy god, what a nasty collection of pimples and sores he's got covering his chest, face, shoulders, back, legs and hands. It's like he's a poster boy for signs of steroid abuse. And maybe it was his presence, maybe it was a change of character or maybe it was just a bad night, but Ric Flair was just terrible alongside Snitsky last night. His promos were forced and out of character, his words trailed off with no real meaning behind them, and he kept throwing in that nervous laugh when Batista showed up. It's weird to see the Nature Boy falter like that, but I guess even legends have bad nights here and there.

I really enjoyed the match between Edge and Shelton Benjamin, and both guys seem to have been on a real tear lately. I loved the hot opening they gave it, with Edge jump starting the fight, effectively cutting out the whole "feeling out" process that eats up the first five minutes of a match, and Benjamin almost heroically telling the ref to start the match despite his injuries. That's not something I'd like to see every week from this point forward, but it was cool to see a match thrown right into the fire for a change. Edge wound up looking like he had the better gameplan, as he knew Shelton would continue the match in his ongoing quest to prove himself as a deserving IC champion, (which is how they explained away his constant title defenses against, seemingly, every possible challenger on RAW over the last few months) while Benjamin showed a lot of heart and established himself as much more interesting face as a result. I've really enjoyed the way the Intercontinental Champ has been shaking up his moveset recently, allowing for regular reversals of his signature maneuvers (ie; his opponents are learning to duck his spin-kick, and to move out of the way of his Stinger Splash) and making up for them with an equally inventive counter-reversal. It's beginning to lend that much sought-after sense of unpredictability to his matches, and gives some added emphasis to those big moves if and when he does manage to connect with them.

This match told a great story at a neck-snapping pace, the two athletes involved worked their asses off, and I loved the finish. Additionally, I think that was the first time I can ever remember a heel winding up on the short end of the "ref's knocked out when you hit your finisher" stick, and I'm always one for a fresh take on something that's so overused. RAW's midcard is absolutely insane at the moment, and these guys are a big part of the reason.

The retro kick from the opening segment continued with the reunion of Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels as the Rockers, as they faced off against former champs and perennial fall guys La Resistance. It was really cool to see these two working together again, especially considering how long it really had been since the last time they hooked up, and it was obvious just how much fun they were having in there together. Marty looked a lot better than I'd expected, although those dropkicks had seen better days, and it was exciting to see him getting so completely into the moment, allowing the audience's growing enthusiasm affect his work positively. La Resistance worked well together again, with Conway clearly carrying the brunt of the load for his team, but wound up looking largely ineffective, since they spent most of the match on their backs. HBK and Jannetty looked like it had only been a couple of weeks since the last time they'd teamed up, as they slid right back into a few fluid double team maneuvers and tossed in that retro exit from the ring as a cherry on top. Not the best match I've ever seen, but you can't top the historical significance or the atmosphere that surrounded it. It was a little sad, though, when they both botched their simultaneous kip-ups.

The real story, though, is how huge Jannetty's match with Kurt Angle will now be this Thursday night. Previously, it came off as a little lame... the Olympic Champ calls out somebody from years and YEARS in HBK's past, toys with him and finishes him off. Whoopdeedoo. Now that Michaels and Marty have kissed and made up, it's likely to be that much more personal and intense when Kurt tears him to pieces this week on Smackdown. Great stuff... this feud is quickly becoming one of my favorites on either brand, and I'm extremely relieved they didn't kill the whole thing here by going the obvious route and turning Marty on Shawn.

I can't tell you how tight that Benoit / Triple H match really was. Between the constant flashbacks to last year (simultaneously reinforcing Benoit's chances and referencing a spot near the end of the match) and the big-show atmosphere both guys brought with them, this seemed almost destined to succeed even before the opening bell rang. If you can watch that opening staredown and tell me there's no money left in an ongoing feud between these two, you're missing some nerve endings or something. Hey, JR even made up for some continuity problems earlier in their rivalry, amending his previous statement that Hunter had never beaten Benoit and admitting that he merely hadn't beaten him "since Benoit returned to RAW." That's a little more historically accurate, while not taking away the weight of the statement itself. Hunter hadn't beaten Chris Benoit in years, and considering the Game's stranglehold on RAW during that time, that's still a pretty impressive fact.

The match was just a beauty from two masters, really. I loved the nods to previous encounters, like Benoit's reversing the pedigree multiple times (once into the crossface, in an exact repeat of the method he used to win the World Title) and the Game's eventual low-blow that led to the finish. I loved the strict characters both men stuck to, Benoit as the confident aggressor (I was in awe as he tried to lock in the crossface three or four times within the first five minutes) and Hunter as the spooked, backpedaling underdog. Most of all, I loved the time and free reign they were given to work the match with little outside interference, no ref bumps and nothing that felt overbooked. I've been constantly screaming for the writers to let the wrestlers do their jobs in the ring, and that's precisely what happened here. Benoit came out looking just as strong as ever, like a guy who could take the belt from Hunter any day of the week if given the opportunity, and Hunter finally managed to emerge one step ahead of the Crippler after a lengthy string of high-profile losses. This has the potential to become one of the all-time great rivalries, and the bookers aren't doing anything to ruin that possibility. Great, GREAT free TV match. I really can't gush enough about it.

It felt a little awkward to move from that to the "real" main event of Batista vs. Gene Snitsky, especially when Hunter came out to interfere only a few minutes after the bell had rung. You'd imagine the champ would be exhausted after a trial-by-fire the likes of which Benoit had put him through, but here he was, distributing chairs and attempting to intimidate Batista from the ringside area. I suppose the phrase "perception is reality" might be appropriate, as it's totally possible that Hunter would be putting on a tough face to convince his 'Mania opponent that he wasn't feeling a thing after a tough match with Benoit. But then I'd be reading too much into things. Throwing a slower-paced match like Batista / Snitsky into the main event slot after three super-hot matches had built the crowd into a frenzy was a tough spot for everyone involved, but I think they did as well as could be expected. I'm noticing the crowd support for Batista dissipating, which can't be a good thing as the build to WrestleMania goes into high gear, but I guess that goes hand in hand with his opponents of late. Somebody like Gene Snitsky isn't going to cover for his weaknesses nearly as well as somebody smaller like Rob Conway, and it doesn't look like they've learned any kind of lesson since they're booking him with Kane next week. A misstep of a main event in what was otherwise a phenomenally written and performed show.

What can I say? A great, mild retro theme that didn't get to be obnoxious or forced, two outstanding matches, one superb promo, a bucketful of build to the big WM21 and a reunion we never thought we'd get to see. The segments building to the women's title match, an off night for Ric Flair and the bizarre placement of the Batista / Snitsky match are the only things holding this episode down from perfection. I'm a little relieved to see RAW is finally getting serious about exciting me for WrestleMania.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 9.1

Monday, March 7, 2005

WWE RAW Review: 03/07/05

I've only got time for a quickie this week, with company coming in from out of state this evening, so let's get down to it.

Great opening promo from Kurt Angle that's given me more motivation to watch Smackdown this week than I've had since the build to last year's Royal Rumble, when Chris Benoit and John Cena were having their way with then-GM Paul Heyman. I'm intrigued with the prospect of Kurt Angle working (and winning) two full Royal Rumbles, an Iron Man Match, a Ladder Match, two Hell in a Cell matches and two Elimination Chamber matches within that four week span... or whatever it is he really does have in mind. Michaels' end of the promo was lagging a bit, but Angle's mere vocal presence on RAW was exciting enough to make the whole segment successful. And to think I wasn't all that excited about this match when I first caught wind of it...

I was immediately afraid that the opening Triple H squash was a sign of things to come, and that we had another week of meaningless three minute filler matches to look forward to, but fortunately enough that wasn't the case. Regardless, his match with Rosey did about as much for me as his match with the Hurricane last week. Which is to say his match with Rosey did absolutely nothing for me. I fear they're reintroducing Hunter's affinity for sledgehammers, not as a clever nod to history and a means to reintroducing some solid continuity to the program, but because his new T-Shirt features the famed foreign object prominently and that they're hoping its reintroduction on-air will move a few more units.

I like the idea of the WrestleMania ladder match leading to a future World Title shot at any point in the future, and I really like the five participants that were in the room at the time of that announcement. Any one of those guys could win and give me something worth looking forward to as 2005 barrels on, and honestly even a main event featuring Kane wouldn't be such a bad idea. Honestly, a shot at the belt might give him the motivation he's been lacking and give him an excuse to return to form in the ring, since he's been on quite a downward slope over the last few years. Assuming, uh... yeah, assuming Batista doesn't win the World Title. Shit.

Unfortunately, even if the promise of a title shot WOULD give Kane that kind of an excuse, he hasn't won the match yet and his rumble with Christian last night stunk to high heaven. Remember when this guy was one of the more exciting legitimate heavyweights on the roster, when he'd shock and amaze by climbing to the top rope and flying through the air like a man half his size? Yeah, I don't know what happened to that guy... the Kane they've got on the air right now seems to be perfectly happy working the exact same match, night in and night out.

Fortunately, Edge and Chris Jericho got more than three minutes to tell their story, and the result was one of Jericho's best efforts of the year thus far and one of Edge's most psychologically-sound fights. I loved that, rather than merely going into autopilot and working a plain free TV match, these two went out there and worked a style that was significantly different to what they've been doing recently. Edge's work has been pretty solid over the last few months, but Y2J's stuff has been quickly sinking into monotony, so it was nice to see him rattle things up by abandoning his current interpretation of Bret Hart's "five moves of doom" (climbing enzuigiri / high knee in the ropes / springboard dropkick / running bulldog / walls of jericho) and working an entire fight focused on his opponent's arm. I'm not sure why he went for the walls near the end of the match, because if there's one area of the body that's NOT affected by that particular finisher it's the arm, but I guess I should be happy with what I got. I like that Edge is constantly working with three or four credible finishers at the moment, and the finish worked for me, ref bump or no. A nice, solid match to wake the crowd up and build some interest in the WrestleMania six-way.

I've gotta say, though, that regardless of whether this business with Lita is legit or a clever work, Edge is one of the smartest guys on RAW to have involved himself in it, especially at this point in his career. His heel run's at its climax, he JUST blew off his huge feud with Shawn Michaels, he doesn't seem to have anyone in particular lined up over the next couple of months and he's in danger of losing some of the momentum he'd built with the audience. Now that word's "leaked out" about his relationship with Lita, the crowd doesn't want to stop giving him shit about it. I wouldn't be surprised if he rode this notereity right into a permanent main event slot.

Randy Orton followed that welcome change of pace up by marching out to the ring, refusing to beat around the bush even a little bit, and straight-up challenging the Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania. This really wasn't the best environment for the young Orton, with the audience hot from both a great match and a loud bit of razzing at the expense of Edge, and when they tore into his hackneyed face act his expression showed immediate panic. He still managed to stumble through the rest of his challenge and the interaction with Eric Bischoff that followed, but I don't see what the RKO of the GM was supposed to accomplish. Bischoff's been slowly turning into a well-rounded general manager over the last six months, maintaining a tough attitude whether he's threatening faces or heels, and I wouldn't really say he's a heel on this show any more. He's been earning the audience's respect since the winter through hard work and tough on-air decisions. So, naturally, Orton hit him with his finisher for no particular reason. He took the warm congratulations of a guy probably twice his age, manipulated his words, threatened him, and then attacked him from behind when he grew sick of the games and had turned to leave the ring. So, uh... who's confused about why people aren't biting on his "big time face turn"?

Fortunately, Chris Benoit and Shelton Benjamin came in to sweep up that mess and turn the whole show around with an explosively entertaining match. It was just thrilling to see these guys out there with somebody who can keep up with that kind of a pace from bell to bell, and I can't wait to see how that interaction plays out in the WrestleMania ladder match. This is about as good an example of two guys at the top of their field letting it all hang out in a match with little or no storyline aside from their motivation to look strong going into the year's biggest show. I can't gush enough about it. Just a great match-up that I'd love to see expanded in future singles matches somewhere down the line.

Before I could get too excited about the prospects of a future series between Benoit and Benjamin, however, Christy Hemme and Trish Stratus came out to ruin my night. I think my feelings about Christy's active involvement in the women's division are pretty well known (here's a hint; I feel the same way about Stacey or Torrie... keep them out of the fucking RING) and this whole feud is just killing Trish, as well. While her character was beginning to show its limitations before Christy came onto the scene, it's gone beyond the point of no return since. I don't care for her "valley girl" heel act at all any more, and imagine how her credibility will look if and when she actually drops the belt at 'Mania. They might as well have a buried alive match April 3rd, because this division is dead meat.

Finally, Batista met Ric Flair in one of the tamer main events we've seen in the last year. Somebody must've put a big sign in the back that said "REMEMBER TO USE PSYCHOLOGY" this week, because both Flair and Jericho were working twice as hard to isolate and destroy their chosen body part. Jericho was lucky to have Edge on the other side of the ring, who knew how to sell the injury and work it into the story of the match itself, but Flair wasn't quite as fortunate. He hit Batista with some offense that looked absolutely devastating, especially the spot where he fell into the big man's knee in the ropes and kept the brunt of his weight on it for nearly half a minute, but "the Animal" shook it off in almost Goldbergian fashion. I'm not sure if that was the limits of his ability in the ring shining through or upper management's unwillingness to make him look weak, but all it did was make Flair look like an ineffective retard (no, even moreso than before) and Batista look like a third grader's superhero.

And I'm with John, the "thumbs down" expression is getting old really fast. Batista looks like the kid who made a really funny joke once that made everybody laugh, and now he won't quit telling it because he thinks it made him popular. It was witty and impressive one time, and now it's redundant and silly. Find something else to latch onto, please.

I liked this week's show. The matches were vastly improved over last week's episode, a couple of interesting strides were made toward WrestleMania (it's about time) and Kurt Angle delivered a killer opening promo to get the show off on the right foot. On the other hand, I don't like the way they're restricting Batista's growth, (considering the audience basically dictated his slot in the 'Mania main event, why are they trying to force feed him to us now?) they're still digging a hole for Randy Orton, and this thing between Trish and Christy is absurdly stupid. I'm giving this a better mark than last week, but these grades should be much, much higher going into what's usually the most anticipated event of the year.

On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is poor and 10 is amazing...
Overall Score: 6.3