Tonight's RAW gives the WWE another chance to hit the "home run" they need going into Wrestlemania. Tonight's wine gives me another chance to make pointless drunken digressions. Letís pop the cork and get this over with.
Tonight's wine is a "Toasted Head" 2001 Merlot from R.H. Phillips. It isn't as smooth as the SmackDown! selection from Benziger. I believe in meaningful brand differentiation.
Jim Ross opens the show by telling us that the arena is sold out. I suddenly realize how much I miss Gorilla Monsoon claiming "SRO signs went out early." Here's to you, uninducted Hall of Famer.
There is a casket in the center of the ring. Lawler and Ross sell confusion. Kane is shown watching the casket on a monitor backstage. Jim Lost lies and says Kane is seeing what we are seeing, but clearly Kane is watching a different feed. I guess the WWE has used this goofy perspective so many times that it makes sense in their own universe.
Kane comes out, roughs up the casket, and discovers an urn inside. He cuts an MCI "pin drop" promo where he asks rhetorical questions to the urn. The crowd boos politely, but can't really get behind the urn in peril sequence.
Kane's climax is yelling "I am not afraid of you" which causes the lights to go out and the ring to "levitate" several inches. I guess Undertaker has reinvented himself as a dead man with supernatural powers to keep his gimmick fresh. I can't help but wonder how much it cost the WWE to arrange this ticket selling stunt.
Rob Van Dam and Booker T are stuck in an eight man tag match teaming with the Dudleys against some heel teams. Remember when Booker T got the rub from Triple H? Me neither. Remember when RVD got the rub from Undertaker? Me neither. On an unrelated note, Brock Lesnar is rumored to be unhappy about being programmed against Undertaker after Wrestlemania. Go figure.
Rock does a promo backstage with Hurricane and S.H.I.T. Remember when Hurricane got the rub from the Rock? The brand split, the charity of Triple H and the Undertaker, and WWE Creative's ingenious use of the Rock's limited appearances have really helped to find and elevate new main eventers.
Devolution hits the ring for a 3 on 2 match against Hurricane and S.H.I.T. Why did the babyfaces accept this match? Oh yeah, that all important rub. The crowd is totally dead for Hurricane's entrance. So much for that rub theory. Flair hits a backdrop suplex. Batista hits a few of Mike Awesome's old power spots. After a quick win the heels administer a coup de grace. The crowd chants halfheartedly for Rocky until they realize he isn't coming out, then they give up on the whole segment. Seems like a disconnect here.
RAW returns with yet another overwrought video recapping the three-way feud between Benoit, Michaels, and Triple H. Turgid music and staccato clips try to make it seem like an epic battle, but one can't help but notice that most fans in the background of the clips are sitting on their hands.
Benoit squashes Matt Hardy like a bug. Thankfully the brand split has given young talents like Hardy more time on RAW, even if it is less than two minutes. Remember when Undertaker gave the Hardys the rub. Believe me, I'm getting just as sick of making that joke as you are of reading it.
Some of you out there are probably wondering about the wine. I wish I could romanticize it the way Jim Lost romanticizes heatless angles on RAW. It is growing on me, but I don't think I would buy it again.
Chris Benoit comes out to cut a promo. Stalker cam makes Benoit look as old as Jerry Lawler. Shawn Michaels comes out and stretches a few lines of dialog into a few minutes of dead air. Triple H comes out to save the segment, calling the match "a bunch of crap." Trip gets some heat early, but goes way too long as usual and loses the crowd until the end.
It's scary remembering how rabid WWE fans were a few years ago compared to now, but I won't blame the fans for not building this up. It's just laying there.
Lita versus Molly?! I really wish I had bought another Bottle of Toasted Head. Molly uses the ropes for the pin. Great! Molly tries to pull out Lita's hair. Great! This is like watching a live action version of Bill Apter's "Apartment Wrestling." Some other "diva" runs in. I'll bet if Apter had thought to shoot three-ways that feature would still be around.
RAW returns with yet another overwrought video recapping the three-way feud between Lesnar, Bill Graybeard, and Eddy, er, Steve Austin. Funny, but the crowd in the clips seemed more excited about Eddy than the others.
RAW returns live with a shot of fans rising like Pavlov's dogs when they hear the sound of breaking glass. A minute later the camera pans the crowd standing around waiting for the entrance to end. Austin cuts a hoarse, stuttering promo. The crowd entertains itself by chanting "What?" Stone Drunk climaxes by reminding the crowd that he can kick the ass of every man in both locker rooms. Somewhere Larry Zbyszko is smiling.
Chris Jericho makes his ring entrance. Remember when he got the rub by giving Kevin Nash a little trim? Now he's feuding with Christian. Steven Richards comes to the ring. A couple of minutes later Jericho is about to apply the Lion Tamer when he gets distracted by Christian and rolled up by Richards for the win. Jericho is starting to look like the WWE's answer to Tommy Rich.
Johnny something walks in on Stacy and Jackie backstage. He chats them up as if it's just the three of them. The divas leave for no apparent Reason, then Bischoff materializes to show his approval. I guess I picked the wrong week to see how much Eric Bischoff adds to this show.
Rock comes out and introduces Mick Foley. The crowd chants "Fo-ley." Rock airs the infamous clip of Mick jumping off a roof, then introduces the old woman who owned the house. Lawler insults her by saying "she's my age." Just kidding. The segment starts to drag, but gets "saved" by jokes about Mick and his friends eating the old lady's "crusty" pie.
Rock airs a clip of Jimmy Snuka diving off the top of a cage onto Don Muraco, then brings Snuka to the ring. Foley tells Snuka "If not for you, I would not be standing in this ring today." I expect a column touting Jimmy Snuka's HOF influence to show up at WO.page soon. Superfly does pie jokes with the old lady. Rock stooges for the punchlines, then dismisses them both to a motel. It's great to see Jimmy back on RAW.
Rock brings out a critic who wrote a negative review of Mick's first book. Luckily he didn't invite all the critics who wrote negative reviews of Mick's latest book. He'd need a bigger arena, like the ones the WWE used to run in. The critic rips Rock's new movie, a remake of "Walking Tall." Mick puts the critic out with Mister Socko. Iíll never forget where I was this night.
Batista runs in and wipes out Rock with the clothesline of death while Mick makes the unconscious critic disappear into thin air. Mick, I hear The Mirage is looking for magicians. Devolution punks out Rock and Mick, but the faces were already worn down from working all of those tired gags, so they won't lose any of their heat.
I'm starting to understand how tough it is to write reviews on a regular basis. What is still a mystery to me is how bad shows like this, shows that clearly aren't appealing to the ever shrinking live audiences, get positive reviews. Maybe I need to drink something harder?
Rock brings out a critic who wrote a negative review of Mick's first book. Luckily he didn't invite all the critics who wrote negative reviews of Mick's latest book. He'd need a bigger arena, like the ones the WWE used to run in.
Oh, that is such a low blow, and unfortunately true. I would only say in WWE's defense is that they have to find ways to bring up about 300 feuds that are heading into WM XX, so there isn't much time to give to wrestling or strong promos.
I will also note that this was the first dead crowd in like a month of Raw shows. I suggest that you try to cheer for Austin at a live event for the entire time it takes for him to make it to the ring after the glass breaks. Perhaps I'm missing your point on the crowd question, but a lack of cheering the entire entrance is less an indicator of Steve's drawing power as it is that they were waiting for what Austin would say.
In 6 days, you will see the return of the Undertaker, the Dead Man that most of us have been clamoring for for years.
Also in 6 days, you will see most of us complain about the return of the Dead Man, the Dead Man that most of us have been clamoring for for years.
Damned (straight to Hell) if you do, damned (straight to Hell) if you don't.
Well the issue of crowd reaction is usually one of geography. Where were they last night? New England? Because outside of Boston and New York, the New England crowds are usually non responsive to all but the biggest names. With Nassau, Providence and New Haven being the worst.
Thread ahead: what should the main event of wrestlemania really be?? Next thread: Who's missing from the Hall of Farts? Previous thread: Ever wonder what your favorite WWE superstar looked like as a child?
Ah yes it is episode 50 and I think this project will stop here. I was originally planning on doing a full year of reviews. But fucked up in tivoing episode 51 and 52. If someone sends me the missing episodes I'll write something on them.