Four wrestling matches on a two hour live program. Vince McMahon gets in front of the WWE audience to give us his blockbuster announcement (that is no shock to anyone who surfs the Internet, the audience Vince is now targeting more than ever) that Matt Hardy has re-signed to the WWE and that RAW is the longest running weekly entertainment program in TV history. His writing staff apparently underlined entertainment on their notepads and crossed out wrestling in their weekly meetings because you can’t get professional wrestling on a wrestling show. So in 635 episodes of RAW, the show of hardly any wrestling worked? I appreciate the entertainment aspect of the show, but wrestling matches are the original entertainment and should be given priority over divas falling off pedestals (both now and later on in their careers) onto a giant inflatable mattress.
I’m glad the Big Show and Shelton Benjamin are being teamed up, Show looks like he was having a blast and with more matches together, they could work out the rust of their unit and do some really incredible spots. That is if we had real divisions and championships that meant something.
The Eugene Invitational served it’s purpose, not having to take itself too seriously and be a showcase for superstars from the past. That’s how the Eugene Invitational should be used, Eugene getting to mark out and wrestle guys who haven’t been on TV in years and emulate their moves and Kurt Angle’s move set. Eugene however has not perfected the Angle Slam. Tatanka is not in WWE ring shape but think about it – when did he get “the call”, this weekend? He hasn’t been on WWE television in at least eight years. You can’t lose a 12 pack in two days, not even on the Simon Dean diet. I’m glad he had a good pay day however and it was nice to hear his music. Let’s hope he’s motivated to cut down on some meals and get back into ring shape.
Matt Hardy got a hot reaction at first but it felt like the flames were taking themselves out as Matt was explaining himself for the passive wrestling fan. Every time the camera showed a audience shot, they were either attentively just listening or just not reacting. Shaking McMahon’s hand knowing Hardy told him to kiss his ass a few weeks ago as he was being arrested, didn’t work for me. It even felt like Matt was choosing his words carefully, he would have been better off studying Shawn’s tape from last week, where it felt like a shoot. You can’t throw Amy Dumas and Adam Copeland names into a sentence and assume that makes it a shoot. Matt should have been shaking with emotion, ready to scream out every sentence, like he’s been waiting for months to “finally” be able to speak his mind without being thrown to the ground and “arrested”. Matt should have gotten in Vince’s face instead and accused him of firing him because he let his private affairs public, that would have been affective television. This is not entirely Matt’s fault though, WWE needs to trust their talent to deliver promos that aren’t scripted word for word. Ric Flair never needed his promos scripted word for word, ad-lib can be a beautiful thing. I like seeing more “reality” into wrestling, however, the line has to be walked very carefully – fans watch wrestling to suspend their everyday realities. I felt the worst for Kane last night who has nothing to do with the affairs of Amy, Adam and Matt. Matt Hardy in one promo made Kane’s role last week and in the last year, look pointless as he pointed out that ‘hey that storyline isn’t real, this is real.’
Rob Conway being the third match of the show against Val Venis, making fans question if they are watching RAW or WCW Saturday Night, was a terrible mistake. Rob Conway looks like the cross between Buff Bagwell, Eric of the Village People and even stole Scott Steiner’s kissing his bicep elbow drop gimmick. No one is going to buy this, Bagwell would get a better reception than Conway’s getting. I wish I could forget the match even happened. If WWE wants to know how out of touch with their audience that they are, putting this on was a prime example.
Shawn Michaels, as usual steals the show again with his Larry King Live (ironic considering Larry King is on one of Ted Turner’s networks) mock interview as Hulk Hogan. This reminded me of when the WWF used to make fun of Hogan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Billionaire” Ted Turner and Mean Gene Okerlund in 1996. Granted, with the exception of splicing last week’s footage in, we’ve seen the HBK video package before (just like we saw Hogan’s package during the Hall of Fame), but it was still able to work and cause even the most loyal of Hogan fans to question just how Hulk Hogan operates promoting himself. There’s no logical reason why Hogan should win at Summerslam, he has reality shows to do to help promote himself and his daughter’s music career, not a full time wrestling career to give.
John Cena versus Carlito with Special Guest Crooked Referee Chris Jericho was a okay match, nothing special, and just surpassed all logic on having a second fair referee on standby if Eric Bischoff was so determined to have the belt change hands on RAW. If it hadn’t been for the gross blading at the end, nothing would have made that segment stand out. Cena defies the odds again but he’s not providing the power of main eventer as he has had potential of showing before. The Rock was good at defying the odds. Cena should study his tapes some more, Carlito also needs to do the same because he has such a limited move set, when the main event has two great talkers with limited move sets, there is a serious problem.
If you cruise on over to the wwe.com’s Summerslam subsection, there are only four matches so far announced on a pay per view in less than three weeks. I assume we’ll get a repeat tag match with Show/Benjamin versus Masters and Snitsky as a match, Eugene versus Kurt Angle but beyond that, maybe Kane, maybe Rey Mysterio, Jr. versus Eddie Guerrero again, and probably some Diva Nightmare Search stuff. Right now, I think the best buy rates they can hope for are for the Hogan/Michaels match with no championship involved. WWE needs to start selling wrestling again, I know it’s hard for them to believe, but that’s what puts butts in seats and that’s putting it in perspective. Thanks for reading, take care and feel free to drop me comments anytime at Bam@insidepulse.com.