The SmarK RAW Rant – July 26 2004


The SmarK RAW Rant – July 26, 2004

– Live from Pittsburgh, PA.

– Your hosts are JR & King

– Technical difficulties kept my VCR from taping the show on Monday night, and since I didn’t have a day off until now, you had to wait.

– We start the show with one of the bimbos getting eliminated. I’m sure if I cared who won, this would be a crushing blow to me.

– Opening match: 20 man battle royale. Winner of this gets a shot at the title at Summerslam. Pretty much everyone outside of Benoit and HHH are in this. Usual melee to start and everyone in Evolution gangs up on Regal and gets rid of him first. Tomko goes via Jericho and Edge next. Chuck Palumbo, unrecognizable in blond hair and street clothes, gets the Jericho/Edge double-team treatment and goes soon after. We take a break and return with JR still excited about watching a battle royale. Apparently we missed the elimination of Val Venis. What a shame. And Matt Hardy, whose career has taken off since beating Kane at the PPV. Hurricane goes via a couple of heels, but Rosey avenges him by eliminating the heels. Jericho and Edge again strike to get rid of Rosey. Tajiri alley-oops Grenier out, and then Conway, as we whittle off the deadwood in rapid fashion. Tajiri tries a Tarantula on Kane, and you can guess what happens from there. Things slow down a lot since the jobber quotient is gone, as Evolution works Jericho over and Flair slugs it out with Rhyno. Orton escapes elimination as JR admits they lied about starting the show with the Iron Man match, blaming it on Eric Bischoff and claiming that it’s next. Uh huh. I love how you can false advertise anything in wrestling and then just blame it on the heel and fans never ever catch on and stop watching. Oh, wait, I guess they do. Scratch that theory. We take another break as it’s become like a junior high dance, with everyone afraid to take the first step and eliminate someone else. Flair tries throwing chops at Kane, but gets chokeslammed. And then it’s the MONSTER SHOWDOWN, as Kane and Batista meet. Kane’s the past, Batista’s the future, man! MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER puts Kane down, but Batista eats a Goar from Rhyno. BOOOO! How dare you mess with Dave? Maven gets to clothesline Flair out, so I guess they still have faith in the bald bastard for whatever reason. Rhyno gets dumped, and everyone gangs up on Kane and gets rid of him, leaving Orton, Batista, Jericho and Edge as your final four once Maven gets gone. Jericho and Edge gang up and dump Batista, but then Jericho turns on Edge and leaves himself and Orton as the last two. They slug it out and Orton takes him down with a spinebuster, then catapults him over, but not out. Orton fights off an elimination attempt and tosses Jericho again, but he hangs on with the Michaels spot. Another clothesline out, but Jericho holds out. Jericho tries the Benoit spot, pulling Orton out from the apron, but Orton isn’t Big Show and can hang on. They slug it out on the apron and Jericho ALMOST falls off, but hangs on and boosts Orton back in again. Orton necksnaps him and kicks him out for the win and the title shot at 23:47. I don’t rate battle royales, but the elimination teases and strategy at the end of this one were pretty good, even if the rest was the usual boring junk. I really hate using them as a way to determine title shots, though.

– And the diva crap continues, as the contestants have to “verbally seduce” Kamala. Jim Brooks, head brain behind Taxi and the Simpsons among many other brilliant comedies, has a theory that things which are overdone have three distinct phases: Starting funny, going so long that it ceases to be funny, and then continuing to go on so long that it goes all the way around and becomes funny again. The example he used in one of the Simpsons commentaries was an episode of Taxi where Louie pushed a wheelchair down a flight of stairs, and while the initial screams of terror were funny, the audience got increasingly uncomfortable the longer the screaming went, until it totally ceased to be funny. And then it went on for even LONGER, until the very idea that they’d stretch out the joke when it obviously wasn’t funny became the joke itself and it suddenly became funny again. This theory was also put to good use in the first Austin Powers movie, with Will Ferrell’s death scene. Bringing the topic back to our subject at hand, this was both overly long and totally unfunny, showing that someone forgot to grasp the most important part of the equation: Finding a funny idea to start with.

– RAW World title: Chris Benoit v. HHH. (Benoit 0, HHH 0). Lockup to start and they trade shots in the corner. HHH pounds away as they fight over a headlock, and that results in a stalemate. Benoit grabs the elusive headlock and takes him down, and they do the wristlock bridge spot that Benoit always works in when he’s showing off. Quick crossface attempt, but HHH takes a powder to escape. Back in, HHH goes for the Pedigree, but with no KICK or WHAM, Benoit is able to fight him off. Benoit opts for a chinlock instead and they reverse into a Benoit hiptoss as he goes for another crossface, but HHH escapes again. Back in, this time HHH tosses him and they start brawling, which Benoit wins via his power of chop-fu. Back in, Benoit takes him down and works on the knee a bit, holding him in the corner for some abuse before missing a blind charge. HHH brings him down with a DDT, but Benoit fires back with chops and they reverse until Benoit gets the crossface and rolls him over for the first pinfall.

Second fall (Benoit 1, HHH 0): Benoit fires off a snap suplex for two and starts going after the back, and a backdrop suplex gets two. He goes to the abdominal stretch, but HHH dumps him to escape, and then follows him out and starts working on the back. Back in, HHH sends him into the corner, as Chris starts bleeding from the mouth. Now HHH begins working on the back, but gets whipped into the corner and goes out. Benoit follows with the tope suicida and knocks himself out on the railing. We take a break, and when we return Benoit is back in control again after sending HHH into the stairs, and he works on the leg in the ring. HHH escapes an Indian deathlock, so Benoit uses a figure-four instead. On the wrong leg, but even Benoit is human. HHH reverses, and I’d mark huge to see someone tap to a reversed figure-four in a situation like this, but sadly no. Benoit opts for the more straight-forward approach, pounding away in the corner, but HHH drops him with a hotshot and gets two. Benoit comes back with the rolling germans, but whiffs on the diving headbutt, so HHH goes back to whipping him into the corner and working on the injured sternum. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE evens it up at 1 fall.

Third fall (Benoit 1, HHH 1): Benoit takes a breather outside, so HHH knocks him off the apron and sends him into the stairs. Benoit can’t beat the count, so HHH goes up another fall. That’s a pretty devastating Pedigree.

Fourth fall: (HHH 2, Benoit 1): HHH sends Benoit back into the corner for the Bret Hart bump, and gets two. He starts doing those cool forward suplexes and gets two. More whips into the corner, but he charges and hits Benoit’s boot, then recovers and goes back to pounding on the back. Benoit fights back, but walks into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER that gets the pin to put HHH up 3-1 with 21:50 left.

Fifth fall: (HHH 3, Benoit 1): Back from a break as Benoit hiptosses out of an abdominal stretch and tries another comeback, but HHH goes for another KICK WHAM PEDIGREE, which Benoit reverses out of. Another try, another reversal, and this time Benoit gets the Sharpshooter, right in the middle. HHH does a really nice selling job, biting his fingers to fight the pain, and Benoit keeps pulling him back from the ropes, and HHH can’t power out, so he finally taps. That was a great sequence, really putting over the pain of the move.

Sixth fall: (HHH 3, Benoit 2): HHH crawls out to recover, but Benoit keeps chasing him back in, and gets another crossface. HHH makes the ropes, so Benoit just goes right back to it, and makes him tap again to even it up with 12:00 remaining.

Seventh fall: (Benoit 3, HHH 3): Evolution joins us at ringside, and after HHH slugs it out with Benoit in the corner, Batista pulls the champ out and sends him into the post. Benoit does a nicely gory bladejob, and HHH gets two. Benoit comes back with another german suplex, but HHH escapes and accidentally bumps the ref. What would a major title match be without ref bumps and run-ins? HHH rams a chair into Benoit’s head and knocks him out as Benoit fights off Evolution. Another ref runs out and counts two. That ref having failed his job, HHH gets rid of him and a four-on-one beatdown on Benoit results. However, Eugene makes his unsurprising return and kicks some ass. I mean, kicks some MAJOR ass, hitting Flair with a stunner, HHH with a Rock Bottom, and then knocking Bischoff off the apron before finishing with a chairshot on HHH. REVENGE OF THE RETARD! With a minute left, Benoit crawls over and covers, and Eugene tosses the ref back in and Benoit retains 4 falls to 3. This was about on par with the PPV match, albeit stretched out to 60 minutes instead of 30, and honestly didn’t feel it went anywhere or had anything interesting to say as a match, unlike Rock-HHH from 2000. That match had wacky decisions (like HHH giving up a DQ to get a fall) and felt fun, whereas this felt like HHH’s continued quest to book himself in a classic match with Benoit. Not bad, just disappointing again. ***1/2

The Bottom Line:

This was certainly the no-bullshit version of RAW outside of the Diva Search, with only two long matches otherwise. While I wouldn’t want that every week, this week it felt like a nice change of pace from what we’ve been getting lately.

So the card for Summerslam looks to be Chris Benoit v. Orton, with Benoit dropping the title to him to FINALLY pull the trigger on the much-talked-about main event push for Orton, regardless of whether he’s ready or not. Although it’ll be a shame to see Benoit drop the title after carrying the ball so well in his first go as champion, it’s patently obvious to anyone paying attention that Orton is the guy they (read: HHH and his immediate family) want to build up for the Great HHH Title Win at the next Wrestlemania. I, personally, am not on the Orton Love-Train (I think Batista is gonna be the guy with better long-term potential as far as drawing money, ala Brock Lesnar) but they’ve been hemming and/or hawing about trying to get him ready for so long that it’s pretty much now or never as far as getting him over the top goes. The one thing I do like about the situation is that it’s NOT just HHH winning the title back from Benoit — in fact, he’s done several jobs for him and aside from making him look like a chump at every opportunity storyline-wise, has actually tried to keep him strong in the ring.

So in conclusion, Orton getting the title = Good Thing, even though he’s not ready for it, because he does lots of creative chinlocks and they just LOVE chinlocks, apparently.