The RAW Ross Report – 18th July 2005

The awesomeness meter, this week depicted through Matt Hardy attire:

A – Matt Hardy’s outstanding V1.0 wrestling trousers (especially the white ones)
B – Matt Hardy’s grungy all-black kit from 2000
C – Matt Hardy’s cargo pant/vest combo from last week
D – Matt Hardy’s dodgy see-through mesh tops
E – Matt Hardy’s early patchwork wrestling tights

Eric Bischoff gets the ball rolling by expressing distaste for the way John Cena treated him one week prior and punishes him in the second worst way possible – a lumberjack match with Snitsky. Ironically, this punishes Snitsky in the absolute worst way possible – a match with Cena.

Match One: Carlito vs Shelton Benjamin

When it was made clear that the title can change hands on a countout, how many people out there *didn’t* immediately suss that it was going to end on a DQ instead? Nobody was fooled? Didn’t think so. So, inevitably enough, Carlito gets bored about 5 minutes in and smacks Shelton in the knackers for the title saving DQ.

The Verdict:

I get that they’re going with the Honky Tonk Man thing with Carlito, at least in the short term, and trying to build up to a no-DQ, no-CO match between Shelton and Carlito at SummerSlam where Benjamin will finally win the belt back to rapturous applause from the crowd but here’s the newsflash – the crowd didn’t react particularly well to Shelton for the second week in a row and the match was extremely boring, only really coming alive when Shelton nearly slipped off the ropes when attempting a flying clothesline from the top rope to the floor. Either it was planned and VERY skilfully performed by Shelton, meant to show how f*cked up he is from recent injuries, or the man just flubbed. I tend to think it’s the second but massive kudos to Coach who covered for it with aplomb and spent the rest of the match putting over how many bumps to the head Benjamin has had of late. Carlito still does absolutely nothing for me and I have no idea what his finisher is – that’s extremely sad and not appropriate for the IC champ. At least you knew what Honky’s Shake, Rattle and Roll was, even if it was utter shite. It amazes me that I still read dribble on the net (especially one dreadful article by some newbie on 411 with the objectivity of a drunken Welshman and the writing skill of a cupboard) where people seem to just copy down what the WWE want us to spout and say “Carlito will be a World Champ and main eventer in the next few years” – it’s more likely that Carlito will be cleaning my toilet in the next few years. We’ve sat through more than enough of Carlito vs Shelton now and they’ve not given us one genuinely enjoyable match yet, however it sure looks like we’re on for at least another two bouts between No Skill and No Personality. Perhaps we should fuse them – Carlito Benjamin – maximum athletic ability, maximum personality, terrifying hairstyle and strange mottled colour.

Match Two: Kurt Angle vs Matt Striker

This is another in the Kurt Angle Invitational series that grew boring on Smackdown and remains generally boring here. Last week was dramatic for about 20 seconds at the end when you thought that Kurt might lose. This week was dramatic for about 20 seconds in the middle when the veins on the top of Kurt’s head looked like they were about to explode in the middle of the choke/sleeper segment. Still, Kurt shrugged Striker off and put him away with the Anklelock with a good 25 seconds or so to spare.

The Verdict:

The more things change, the more they stay the same… this Angle Invitational thing is just the same as the Masterlock challenge (albeit about a million times more interesting) so if we can please fast forward to the bit where something interesting happens, that would be just peachy. Seeing Kurt tangling week after week with jobbers isn’t particularly enthralling. I’m all for squash matches, ideally a couple per show in order to give the actual stars someone to bash around and show off their big move on, because it helps accustom us to the star and lets us know what their big moves are. The thing is that you’ve got to spread around who gets to beat on the squash boy rather than just giving them all to one person. I’d *love* to see what Danny Basham can do in a 3 minute squash match against some scrubber who is there purely to make Basham look good. Ditto a load of guys on the undercard. It would up their stock and help matches like Renee Dupree vs Rob Conway mean something when they happen. The crowd might pop for some big moves and get into the match because the guys would be perceived as mid-level talent rather than the bottom of the barrel.

The Diva Search sees some middle-aged looking tart get her marching orders – Simone, I believe it was. These things are so boring and predictable. Before the loser was eliminated, they showed each of the girls saying who they would get rid of – and almost every one of them follows the same sycophantic formula of “she’d have a great career in X, but not in the WWE”. Thumbs up to Elizabeth for sarcastically saying that Krystal has a future in painting and cheekily pointing out that the girl in question is a f*cking idiot for her previous week’s outing. To be absolutely honest, I don’t know why they don’t just get rid of the people who are obviously not going to be there by the end – most obviously Cameron and Summer – and then let the final four have a massive fight. It looks like Ashley is a clear favourite to win at this point, although I wouldn’t be displeased if Leyla won either. Or Elizabeth, after her promo this week, which was head and shoulders above the others. But not Krystal, she’s a twonk.

The Boogeyman is coming to getcha… which sounds quite fun and I’m intrigued to see how they play this one. It could be very, very bad if they bring us Papa Shango redux but if they bring out someone who looks imposing, cool and eerie music, good makeup job but not trying to pretend that he’s anything more than human, it might just work as a character. Looking at the track record, it doesn’t look promising, I’ll admit, but Undertaker and Kane worked out pretty well in the end. Granted, that’s 2 out of hundreds, but I’m going to go with innocent until proven guilty on the Boogeyman front. They should call him Bruce.

Kerwin White discusses his golf stroke with Eric Bischoff, models a spiffy new jumper and makes derogatory comments about Mexicans, finishing off with the catchphrase “if it’s not White, it’s not right” and opening WWE up for a massive discrimination lawsuit should Booker T fancy his chances and, given the footage of WrestleMania 19 as evidence, I think he’s got a pretty good case.

Chris Masters bores us to death with another Masterlock challenge that nobody in the crowd seems interested in. Rosey trots out and jobs out, thus helping the cause of the tag team champions, who I keep forgetting even exist. The Big Show eventually waddles out and Masters does a runner. How exciting.

Edge talks with the gimp backstage and goes off the deep end about Matt Hardy without mentioning his name. This would be tremendously exciting if I were a total mark but I’m not. It’s not boring or offensive or anything, it’s just hard to keep a smart/smark on the edge of their seat in a situation like this when it seems obvious that it’s just going to be run-in-o-rama until the eventual blowoff match at SummerSlam which Matt will win before Edge cashes in his title shot at the end of the show to snag Batista’s World Title and head off to Smackdown.

Hulk Hogan wastes about 3 minutes of airtime with his entrance to the ring and then does the “I can’t talk because you guys are so damn noisy but damn I love you all” bit which is REALLY irritating. He then cookie-cuts his way through an interview that brings Michaels out to cookie-cut his own side of things and the long, long, long story short is that they’re on for SummerSlam. Seriously, I can just about cope with Eddie coming out on Smackdown and taking 10 minutes to talk about something that has about 2 minutes of content tops, but the sum total of actual talk in this segment was as follows:

Hulk: “Shawn, get out here, you rotter”
Shawn: “‘sup?”
Hulk: “We’re on for SummerSlam”
Shawn: “k”

God forbid that Hogan’s VH1 show doesn’t get crammed down out throat though.

There has been no proper match (I’m not counting the Angle Invitational thing) in absolutely ages. Doesn’t look like that’s about to change…

Match Three: Edge vs Kane

Before this cage match gets going, Matt Hardy does the very obvious attack from the crowd segment, which gets a fair amount less reaction than last week’s surprise outing. He gets nicked again but seems to break free and leg it through the audience. Then we can get on with the match which ends when Edge, perched on the top of the structure, wallops the pursuing Kane with his briefcase, sending the big lug back down from whence he came. Edge then slides down the cage wall to the floor for the win.

The Verdict:

Same old, same old, just inside a cage. These two don’t click very well, probably because they’re both quite limited as workers, although this was the best match of the night and they did work quite hard, and the crowd seem to be tepid now that this feud has been going on for a while, but it was nice to see Kane doing a bladejob – think about it – when was the last time you saw Kane bleeding? I actually can’t remember it EVER. Was that a first for Mr. Jacobs since he lost the mask? Sorry, but this is the 3rd or 4th match we’ve had between the two of ’em and we absolutely don’t need another one next week. Both guys are in that limbo where they aren’t really a draw (especially Edge) and can afford to lose without dropping too far down the card (especially Kane) but don’t seem to have that extra something that will help them move upwards. Kane seems content in this role and WWE happy to use him as such, but I still hear the rumblings that Edge is being considered a potential top liner and I’m still not buying it.

Match Four: John Cena vs Snitsky

Following plenty of interference from the heel lumberjacks all stationed at ringside, including Rob Conway looking like either a pimp or Village People reject or both, the Big Show ambles out followed by a sprinting Shelton Benjamin, who promptly slips on the ring steps whilst attempting a dive. Good job. Charlie Haas clearly deserved that P45. Some other faces amble out, just showing how depleted the RAW face roster actually is now, and we have a donnybrook which takes focus away from the match – probably the most engaging part of the match though. Once we’re done, Cena plants Snitsky with the FU and gets the pin.

The Verdict:

I don’t think I’ve actually been this bored by a wrestling match in years – it may have something to do with the previous 90 minutes of completely yawnsome dribble but this match was seriously just punches and kicks for about a quarter of an hour with probably one actual move used every 5 minutes, including the finish. The finish was also intensely predictable and left me feeling that they’re just padding out such matches with nothing of note within just to fill the time. That’s all well and good but I just don’t get why they can’t shave 8 worthless minutes off this junk, take another 2 minutes back from Kane and Edge, knock 6 minutes off Hogan/Michaels and you’ve got yourself enough time to have those two squashes I talked about earlier OR you can use the slot to stick in a match between two lower-midcarders to help elevate one/both.

The Overall Verdict

Another week, another thumbs down, I’m afraid. The face side of things on RAW is very sad at the moment and Cena’s not cutting it the way they seemed to think he would. He’s getting a moderate pop when he comes out but the crowd go to sleep during his match and just about wake up for the finish. Sorry guys, Cena’s not the chap to take you to the next level. Beyond him, who else is there? Big Show? Blown too many top line opportunities for anyone to *really* get behind him in a big way. Ditto Kane. Shelton is fresh and athletic but hasn’t got the hang of connecting with the fans and, as such, engenders a lot of silence until he starts flinging himself all over the place. It doesn’t look like Matt Hardy is going to be acknowledged for a while yet, Hogan is only about for publicity and one more sodding match and the rest of the face locker room is Viscera, Val Venis, Rosey and The Hurricane. Not looking too good there, you’ve got to admit. Just wait and watch Triple H come back as a face to cut Cena’s legs off!

You know what? I can’t wait.

The Grades

B
Kane, The Coach

C+
Edge, Shelton Benjamin

C
The Big Show, Chris Masters, Kurt Angle, Matt Striker, Chris Jericho, Carlito

D
Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Snitsky,