The weekly awesomeness meter, this week depicted through Ric Flair’s various ring robes:
A – The Black and White effort he wore as WWE champ back in 1992
B – The Blue effort he still sometimes wears, less feathery than most, more like a dressing gown
C – The purple one with the ridiculous amount of feathers from SummerSlam 92.
D – The pink one from way back when that made him look like a dweeb
E – The recent orange and red one that looks like it was made by a drunken vomiting monkey
Chris Jericho opens the, strangely intro-less, show this week and goes on the standard set up rant, taking way too long to make a single point, but still attempting to do something with it and getting quite a good crowd reaction along the way. I like the way that Jericho hasn’t really made a face or a heel turn in absolutely ages, he just kind of slowly eases towards the other side and then gets the crowd to do the rest for him. Long story short, Jericho calls Cena a pussy, Cena runs in and looks like a total poof when doing so, pull apart brawl and hey presto, Eric’s out to make Jericho the ref for the main event of Carlito vs Cena. At least now there’s one person who can work in that match.
Match One: Chris Masters/Gene Snitsky vs Shelton Benjamin/Big Show
Snitsky charges at the Big Show with hilarious results. Well, actually not hilarious, just a choke slam, but it seemed to do the trick.
Pretty dull match here by three main factors – one, Snitsky and Masters are both green/useless, two, Benjamin is green and clumsy and three, the Big Show is slow and not very interesting in-ring. Add it all up and you’ve got a match that went on way too long. They didn’t even tease the Masterlock on the Big Show, it was all just sterile all the way except for a couple of attempted “wow, he’s athletic” spots for Shelton, the latter of which, a Big Show assisted Dragon Whip, was pretty good value, the first of which was a completely spooned up attempt at a help-up springboard clothesline that made Benjy look more of a bumpkin than usual. Full marks for inventiveness but Shelton really has got a track record of being about as co-ordinated as the drunken vomiting monkey I mentioned at the beginning of the report. For future reference, he shall be called Bruce. The monkey, not Shelton; he’ll still be called Shelton.
Match Two: Eugene vs Tatanka
It’s the Special Olympics Challenge as Kurt Angle doesn’t qualify as a hometown hero so Tatanka fills in as at least being able to just about claim to be from the home-town which does give him one point over Kurt. At around the 2 minute mark, Eugene hits a sort of Angle slam, mimes taking the straps down and slaps on the Ankle lock. Kurt rushes the ring and lays in to Eugene, Tatanka makes the save and they send Angle packing.
Good, fun segment, this – Eugene’s insistance that Kurt tells him his name and where he is from and Angle’s subsequent reaction were amusing and it’s always fun to see one of the old names wheeled out so that you can see how many people remember them, how much of a reaction they get, how much of their moveset they’re still able to do and how fat they’ve grown. In Tatanka’s case, the answers are more than I thought, not bad, most of it and considerably fatter.
Vince McMahon rolls up in the Limo and trots down to the ring, wisely taking the steps rather than slamming into the apron. He puts himself over for a minute and then gets down to business and gives Matt Hardy quite the build up. The crowd welcome Hardy back with open arms and, after a shaky start, Matt goes on to give the best interview of his career. Perhaps saying that he hopes Edge dies in a car accident is a little extreme but I thought it was bang on the money as to what I’d say in that circumstance and I’m looking forward to seeing Matt punch Copeland repeatedly in the larynx at SummerSlam.
Kerwin White hits on Vince McMahon backstage. Not actually, but there was subtext there if you deigned to look for it. Vince blew him off. No, not like that, get your mind out of the gutters, people.
Match Three: Val Venis vs Rob Conway
After a lot of restholds and pointless segments that try to get us to believe that Venis might actually win a match on RAW, Conway puts him away with the Ego Trip, which is the one-man version of La Res’ Au Revoir finisher, only substituting the ring ropes for Grenier and thus immediately doubling the IQ AND wrestling acumen of the combo.
Conway’s new gimmick of “the conman” could probably have been realised a little better and promoted in vignettes to start with because the audience didn’t have a bloody clue what was happening. Combining loads of exceptionally poor elements, such as more than a sprinkling of Buff Bagwell’s character, music straight out of a gay saloon, trunks right out of Billy Gunn’s personal swimwear range and an elaborate dose of the Village People thrown in, it should have been a complete bomb but Conway committed to it and it actually sort of worked. The music has got to go though… I would totally go for Conway getting his mitts on the IC belt right now, even though it’s probably a bit early. Anything’s better than the current IC champ except for the current US champ. Or WWE champ. Dear God the title scene is appalling at the moment.
Shawn Michaels absolutely steals the show with a tremendous skit poking fun at Hulk Hogan, not only seeming to speak the whole truth and nothing but the truth the whole way through the segment but ALSO managing to turn himself face in the process. Outstanding! At least we’ve got a show in Montreal to right that face/heel dynamic before SummerSlam, but hat’s off to Shawn – can’t stand the bugger usually but this segment was priceless and actually helped build towards the match. HBK is carrying the whole thing on his own, much like he’ll have to do when the bell goes on the 21st.
The Diva Search gets rid of Summer for, as I mentioned last week, not being as pretty as the others. They all make tits of themselves, Rob Schneider turns up and acts like a total letch and you KNOW that all four of the girls must have been fighting for his cock backstage. They do some abysmally bad jousting gubbins on a bouncy contraption (nowhere near as fun as it sounds) and Elizabeth wins immunity from elimination next week. Bye bye Krystal, you only outstayed your welcome from the word go. Ashley is beginning to grate on me with her one-trick repertoire of yelling and throwing up the rock on gesture all the time. Leyla has too much facially in common with Melina but doesn’t have big enough tits and Elizabeth actually seems to have some form of talent and personality but doesn’t really have as much going in the looks department as the other two, so I’ve not got a clue who’ll win. I don’t care so much either.
Match Four: Carlito vs John Cena (Guest referee: Chris Jericho)
After a ridiculous level of cheating by Jericho, including flat out refusing to count Carlito down after The Wank (and rightfully so, the move is toss), some more scuffling occurs, Jericho and Bischoff get knocked about the place somewhat, Cena hits the Glorified Bodyslam Humiliation (or GBH for short) and one of the refs from backstage seems to teleport into the ring for the three count. After this, Jericho slaps Cena around a bit, wellies him with a camera and JC springs a leak.
Marginally better than last week’s effort, again PURELY because of Jericho’s strong performance, baiting the crowd effortlessly and resulting in a very healthy pop (and strongest reaction for Cena in AGES) upon the end of the match. I think I’ve cracked the mystery of Carlito’s finisher – it DOES seem to be the Flatliner thing. It’s crap. Why do they ALWAYS give that move to people who don’t really have any finisher? They started Hassan with it, they gave it to Steiner when they didn’t know what to do with him, heck they even have the Undertaker use it when he can’t be bothered to do the Tombstone. For lud’s sake, just send Carlito away and do something more useful with the IC belt, like cover it in dog food or feed it to a hungry tramp or use it to seal up the breached hull of a boat, just not on f*cking Carlito.
The Overall Verdict: C+
Better show than last week, only held below a B for the lack of any wrestling of a quality standard – one good match would have tipped this up towards a B but we’ll settle for a step up from recent times, which coincides with a couple of segment hitting the right notes between comedy value and angle-progession, namely the Eugene and HBK segments. Why was the WWE so good back in 2000? The action in ring was hot, yes – but the Foley/Edge/Christian segments were priceless. In 2001, there was some fine action but the best part of the year was unquestionably the Kurt/Austin/McMahon backstage efforts. Wrestling is a variety show these days, we need some laughs in there to make the serious stuff seem serious. If it’s all serious, it’s dull. If it’s all comedy, we can’t emote when required. It’s about attaining the happy medium and this week took a decent step in the right direction.
We’re not making mention of the majority any more – they’re all C grade and, thusly, not really worthy of any extra comment.
Shawn Michaels – tremendous effort on HBKs part here – not only being laugh out loud funny and nailing Hogan’s attitudes and quirks perfectly, but also for managing to make it not just about the comedy and oozing intensity by the end of it. Best promo I’ve seen this year.
Matt Hardy – not much of a talker usually, he’s still got a way to go but did well enough to get a good reaction from the audience and keep things rolling for what is probably the most anticipated match for SummerSlam.
Chris Jericho – doing for the Cena/Jericho match what Michaels is doing for Hogan/HBK – which is building it ostensibly by himself and keeping us interested. Given that the result is EVEN more of a foregone conclusion than the oldster collision, that’s worthy of a nod for Y2J.
Eugene – it’s quite hard to stretch much above a C for a three minute segment but his verbal interplay (limited, intentionally and wisely, on his part) was well delivered and the homage to Angle pulling the non-existent straps on his invisible singlet was amusing.
Kurt Angle – as above – but Kurt always kicks it up a notch when he gets angry and I feared for that thick looking interviewers life backstage.