The SmarK RAW Rant – March 28 2005

The SmarK RAW Rant – March 29 2005

– Live from Ft. Worth, TX.

– Your hosts are JR & King.

– We start with the Highlight Reel, as Jericho calls out Benoit and Benjamin, and they all talk about their great hunger for being the World champion. Christian interrupts to note that they don’t look hungry, they look full — of crap. Nice line. And then either the original feed or TSN cuts out and we take a quick break before returning with a literal pier six brawl between the competitors. And then it’s back to break again.

– Edge, Christian & Tyson Tomko v. Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit & Shelton Benjamin. This would be an impromptu match made during the break, as we pick things up in progress with Jericho pounding on Christian and getting a delayed vertical suplex for two. Shelton comes in with a shoulderblock for two. Tomko, wrestling in street clothes, tosses Shelton around in the corner, but he fights back, only to walk into a Bossman slam from Tomko. Edge comes in and chokes him down, then gets a suplex for two. Shelton comes back with a crossbody on Christian for two, but gets slugged down again for two. He goes to a facelock to prevent a tag. Edge switches in and grabs a chinlock to keep him down. Finally it’s hot tag to Benoit, and he goes suplex happy on E&C and takes Edge down with the Sharpshooter. Christian breaks that up and gets drilled with the german suplexes for his troubles, allowing Benoit to go up. Edge crotches him and brings him back with a superplex, and we take another break. Back with more chinlocks, this time from Christian on Benoit. Benoit, meanwhile, is in the midst of a gory bladejob, and Christian cuts off a comeback attempt by slugging him down for two. He fights up to the top rope, however, and drops the headbutt on Christian to allow the hot tag to Jericho. He actually hits the Lionsault on Tomko, and then Edge accidentally spears Tomko. But then Benjamin accidentally spinkicks Benoit, as the angst ramps up, and then an Exploder on Christian leads to a big boot from Tomko on Benjamin, before Jericho finishes Tomko with the Walls of Jericho at 12:31. Pretty much a paint-by-numbers six-man, and the Edge & Christian win streak ends at one week. **1/2 Kane lays out everyone afterwards and climbs the ladder, thus guaranteeing he’s not winning at Wrestlemania.

– Meanwhile, Uncle Eric reminds Batista of the Gimp.

– Christy Hemme beats Trish Stratus in an arm-wrestling match, which in HHH’s world is an awesome achievement.

– Randy Orton joins us to let us know that he got rid of Stacy because she was a distraction, and Undertaker can’t fight the future. I can’t find a good X-Files joke for that, so make your own. This leads to Undertaker interrupting with a video package showing his 12 wins, although the DQ wins over Bundy and Gonzalez are less impressive in retrospect. Then the ring catches on fire. Well, of course it does. I mean, how else would you build up a feud in 2005? The TSN guy then scores with the line of the night during the break: “How are they gonna wrestle for the rest of the night if the ring is on fire? IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE!” When the Sportscentre guys are scoring off you, it’s bad.

– RAW World tag titles: William Regal & Tajiri v. Simon Dean & Maven v. La Resistance. The fact that these three teams are the depth pool of the tag division on RAW makes me just a little bit more sad. And boy, isn’t Maven thrilled to be stuck with Simon Dean as a partner? Dean starts with Tajiri and gets a nice double-team hiptoss with Maven, but Regal comes in for his own double-team. A suplex gets two on Maven and it breaks loose a little bit, leaving La Rez in control of Regal. Conway gets a neckbreaker for two, and La Rez gets the Crise Cardiaque for two. Regal comes back with a suplex on Grenier and makes the tag to Tajiri, who hits everyone with kicks and cleans house as a result. Maven sneaks in with a high cross on him for two, but the Big Kick finishes him at 4:00. Since none of these guys is getting a payday on Sunday, this was worthless filler. 1/2*

– Meanwhile, Bischoff lets HHH know that their better not be any “physicality” (I hate that word) in the big debate tonight, or else. I’m sure HHH is terrified.

– Muhammad Hassan v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn slugs him down to start and they fight out of the ring, and back in for some chops from Shawn. He runs into a boot, however, and Hassan slugs away, but Shawn goes after Daivari and then dumps Hassan as we take a break. Back with Hassan in control and getting a two count, then elbowing Shawn down for two. And we hit the chinlock. Hassan whips him into the corner and drops an elbow, then chokes him out in the corner. Hassan is just Mr. Generic on offense, and really it’s just his heat that’s carrying him at this point. Without the character, he’s Chris Masters. Hassan wraps Shawn’s back around the post, which kinda comes out of nowhere because it’s not like he was particularly focusing there, but I guess it’s as good a time to start as any. His attempt at the WMD is blocked by Shawn, but he gets the camel clutch instead. It’s so silly that anyone in the 21st century has to sell that as a serious finisher. It’s pretty unfortunate that Iron Sheik didn’t have the foresight to use an anklelock or something to spread his hatred of America back in the 80s. Shawn makes the ropes and does the comeback thing with the usual stuff, all in order. You know the drill, forearm, kip up, atomic drop, flying elbow, set up for the superkick and miss. This time the miss comes when Kurt Angle attacks again for the DQ at 12:03. Hassan, the great white hope for supervillian of the future, gets laid out by Shawn’s superkick and turned into an afterthought as Shawn yells at Angle. Everyone was just going through the paces here, as Shawn gets beat up by random foreign heel for a while, makes the comeback and acts all resilient and stuff. **

– Main event debate: Batista v. HHH. So we’ve had an arm-wrestling match and a debate now to keep people from interacting before Wrestlemania, to say nothing of the fact that we already had a debate between the World title competitors on Smackdown last week. So of course, once again HHH gets to run down Batista and talk about how great he is and how he gave Batista everything. And once again Batista fails to give the one interview that would put him over the top, simply by calling HHH on all his bullshit and dressing him down, instead opting for the more direct “You are an asshole”. Well, it’s better than “You’re the greatest wrestler alive and I respect you so much that I want your title”, like he did a few weeks ago. HHH then blatantly ignores Bischoff’s warnings about physicality, slapping Batista, which allows Batista to fight back and the brawl is on. The faceless rent-a-cops try to pull them apart, and they end up as cannon fodder for Batista to end the show and send us on the way to Wrestlemania.

The Inside Pulse:

To be honest, I found this show to be a crashing bore, light on wrestling and lacking any interesting new developments in any of the storylines, and this was a very easily skippable week.

Wrestlemania looks as follows:

RAW World title: HHH v. Batista. Obviously this is the money match on the show, and obviously Batista has to go over here because 20 years of tradition say so. Argue the merits of Big Dave as champion another time, because good or bad the time to pull the trigger is now, and if it bombs then deal with it some other time. If HHH is feeling generous and smart, it’ll hang around the ***1/2 mark and should be good enough to leave people satisfied. Whether HHH is motivated enough to carry someone like Batista in that kind of position is another thing entirely.

Scott’s pick: Batista.
Star rating estimate: ***

Smackdown World title: JBL v. John Cena. This is a total mystery in a lot of ways. Do they really want to jettison the JBL experiment after committing to it for 8 months? Is Cena ready to carry things? The most effective build for the match thus far has been a movie parody, and neither guy is good enough to carry the other. Doesn’t look good on paper, and not having seen them interact that much in the ring, I don’t know how it’ll translate in the ring. Having said all that, I don’t see them switching both titles on the same show, as Cena-JBL will probably have to carry a buyrate by itself in April, so giving Cena the moral victory here and then doing a rematch will probably be their strategy.

Scott’s pick: JBL.
Star rating estimate: **, plus or minus depending on how many gimmicks are used.

Ladder match thingie: Edge v. Christian v. Jericho v. Benoit v. Benjamin v. Kane. This one is the kind of time-filling “everyone gets a payday” match that doesn’t usually excite me in the buildup, but usually turns out well enough in the ring. The first four pretty much guarantee a quality outing, Benjamin’s a wild card in these things, and Kane neither adds nor subtracts because his whole purpose is going to be playing “Big guy who takes impressive punishment from 5 little guys” the whole match. All six are stuck on the midcard treadmill anyway, so the actual winner is immaterial because they’re just job fodder for Batista down the road. So we’ll go with the only heel to have a chance.

Scott’s pick: Edge.
Star rating estimate: ****+

Women’s title: Trish Stratus v. Christy Hemme. I have no idea why they threw this clunker on here. Well, actually I do, but I like to pretend I don’t because it makes me feel less sad for everyone who got fired so Hemme could have a job. The buildup has been a joke, Hemme will be completely exposed in the worst possible climate for a debut singles match, and Lita has been so non-existent in her role as mentor that the only possible outcome that can make any logical sense is Lita turning on Hemme. I of course mean logical in the WWE Creative way. I’m just hoping it’s short.

Scott’s pick: Trish Stratus.
Star rating estimate: Somewhere between DUD and *.

Kurt Angle v. Shawn Michaels. Angle’s match with Jannetty gave me new hope that he’s healthy enough to go on such a high-profile occasion, but I think it’s 2 years too late to have the classic that everyone seems to be counting on. The build has been intense, and anything less than ***1/2 and 20 minutes is going to be crapped on sheerly because of the ridiculously lofty expectations that have been built up for this one. It seems like a sure bet, but remember that Shawn Michaels and Curt Hennig, both at or near their prime in 1993, were promoted as having a Match of the Year Candidate at Summerslam 93 by the WWF themselves before the event even happened, and it ended up a horrible disappoinment. Remember, as Shawn’s fickle moods go, so goes his motivation to have a good match. I’m sure Wrestlemania will be enough to trigger that fire, but I’m not gonna bet my life savings on it. The winner means nothing, flip a coin.

Scott’s pick: Doesn’t matter, but bet on Shawn because it’s Shawn and because he can justify not jobbing with the “babyface should win the big one” argument.
Star rating estimate: ***1/2 – ****. Anything over that will be a bonus, to say the least.

Big Show v. Akebono. I don’t know who this is supposed to be appealing to, but it ain’t me.

Scott’s pick: Who the hell cares?
Star rating estimate: Are ya kidding me?

Undertaker v. Randy Orton. Tough one to call, because the silly winning streak gimmick that Undertaker has should theoretically mean something when it ends, and Orton has been freefalling as a character and as a meaningful draw since losing the title to HHH months ago. This is going to be their last legitimate shot at getting Orton over as a major player for the next little while, because he hasn’t won a feud in a long time and lacks credibility with non screaming-female fans. Personally I’d enjoy seeing Undertaker lose, because I’m spiteful that way, but don’t count on it happening. The mystery is not whether it’ll be win #13, but whether the total clash of styles can result in anything good. If Undertaker works the cookie-cutter match style he did with John Cena, holding Orton by the hand the whole way for 15 minutes, it’ll be good, but they depend on Orton to carry the match as a heel, prepare for a snoozer.

Scott’s pick: Undertaker.
Star rating estimate: **1/2

Eddie Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio. Finally, a match between the tag champions on Smackdown because neither guy has anything better to do and they want another good match. This will open the show and probably set an impossibly high standard for anyone else, but that’s the chance you take. Winner doesn’t matter, flip a coin.

Scott’s pick: Heads says Eddie Guerrero with interference from Chavo, tails says Rey despite interference from Chavo.
Star Rating estimate: ****+ depending on exact time given.

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