The Ross Report – 19th September 2005

No time for blurb, people, let’s get on with the retrospective of RAW and SD first, then plough through the dissection of the PPV…

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Monday Night RAW – 12th September 2005

The Results:

– Edge/Snitsky beat Big Show/Matt Hardy (Spear on Hardy)
– Shelton Benjamin beat Kerwin White (DQ – golf clubbing)
– Ric Flair beat Chris Masters (DQ – Carlito run in)
– Cade/Murdoch beat Eugene/Tajiri (Cade elbow drop)
– John Cena beat Kurt Angle/Tyson Tomko (F-U on Tomko)

The Rankings – Matches

5th – Shelton Benjamin vs Kerwin White (Grade: D)

As we touched upon recently in the Top 50 (if you’ve not read it thus far, ensure you do following this article, or we’re going to have words and not good words), the former Chavo is a bit of a strange one – his talent is moderate and he is capable of some decent work but this was really dull, the crowd didn’t give a crap and neither did I. The lame DQ ending didn’t help matters any and the whole feud, if you can call it that, is so shamelessly thrown together to give us a match for Unforgiven that it’s unforgivable.

4th – Cade/Murdoch vs Eugene/Tajiri (Grade: C)

Yeah, I didn’t think too much of this one either – Cade and Murdoch showed a bit 8more competence than their dull as ditchwater debut, and Eugene/Tajiri put forth a better effort than the tag team champs did last week, which is very sad for Helms and his large friend. Very much a nothing match, nothing inoffensive but nothing of note.

3rd – Edge/Snitsky vs Big Show/Hardy (Grade: C)

Whereas many people are condemning Matthew to a life of jobberdom, I’ve got to point out that the crowds are still chanting his name during matches and getting into him more than they’ve done in the past. His exchanges here with Edge were solid enough and far better than the dreary rubbish between Show and Snitsky. Another nothing match, clearly only there to market Unforgiven but they’d have been a lot better off just doing it with promos and keeping Hardy/Edge out of the same ring for now. Edge’s adequate speech later on in the show did a far better job of getting me moist for their cage match than this did.

2nd – John Cena vs Kurt Angle/Tyson Tomko (Grade: C)

As has been widely pointed out elsewhere, this is just a complete rehash of the Jericho/Cena feud from last month, even keeping to the same face-overcoming-two-guys-when-he-really-shouldn’t formula to lead in to the PPV. Kurt gave carrying this a fair old crack but Cena is Cena and Tomko is awful. Despite continual pushing for the last month or so, with extra emphasis on how dangerous his big kick is, I find it terrifying that big Tyson can’t execute his finisher to even a mediocre standard. Angle/Cena at Unforgiven is going to be decent, no doubt, but it’s going to still be nothing special unless Angle can relieve the Chimp of his stupid spinny belt. Oh yes, there’s comedy gold to be had with Kurt getting his mitts on that piece of hardware.

1st – Ric Flair vs Chris Masters (Grade: C)

So, the best match on RAW this week featured a guy who is considerably more than twice the age of his opponent and a dude who makes the Jolly Green Giant say “Wow, *that* is green…” if the Jolly Green Giant was indeed inclined to talk to lowly mortals, taking time out from his sweetcorn harvesting vigil. Yeah, so, long story short, Flair did well here, making Masters looks as good as I think possible for now (although Michaels will no doubt give it a fair crack at Unforgiven) but the thing was no more than a time filler, which isn’t what I need from the best match on offer for the week on the show.

The Rankings – Performances

RAW MVP of the week: Ric Flair
For the second week in a row, Flair gets the nod – this week, his verbal stylings were decent but the real thumbs up comes from making a 5 plus minute match with Masters bearable.

The RAW Wooden Spoon: Tyson Tomko
For the aforementioned “can’t even do his finisher” problem.

Grade C: Anyone not mentioned elsewhere
Grade D: Kerwin White, Tyson Tomko

OVERALL RAW RATING: D

Actually worse than last week, I thought. The segments between matches added nothing to the show, Trish’s return made little sense but we can only hope that something or someone explains what’s going on along the way rather than just going “she’s back, yippee”, and the interview with Shawn and Flair blowing each other and ragging on Masters and Carlito wasn’t as good as some elsewhere have deemed it – and the bit with Michaels strutting at the end just made him look like a bell-end.

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Friday Night SmackDown – 9th September 2005

The Results:

– Christian/Orlando Jordan beat Chris Benoit/Booker T (Unprettier on Benoit)
– Animal/Heidenreich beat MNM by DQ (Ref sees the tag belt used as a weapon)
– Rey Mysterio beat JBL (Quebrada)
– Ken Kennedy beat some jobber with that insane top rope steamroller move
– Batista beat Nunzio (DAVEbomb)
– Undertaker beat Randy Orton (Tombstone)

The Rankings – Matches

6th – Animal/Heidenreich vs MNM (Grade: D+)

Why does the WWE insist on making us watch some iteration of this bout weekly? The worrying thing is that it’s not getting much better (though this week was a mild improvement on last week, mainly since Animal is more adept at selling than big John). Can I just point out that Heidenreich really should be wearing tights rather than trunks. It would look appropriate since, you know, Animal wears them and they’re doing everything else as a team now, plus he’s a skinny fella and tights would probably look better. His face paint this was kick-ass though, better than the strange bug looking thing he was doing before, probably in tribute to Mantaur.

5th – Ken Kennedy vs Jobber (Grade: C)

They sure like giving this Kennedy dude airtime, don’t they? I’m still not certain what they’re aiming for with him, but he seems to have ring presence, so perhaps he’ll grow into a mid-card heel role where he can have some competitive matches with the likes of Benoit or Booker, so that’ll be fun. Actually, here’s one for you – what’s the deal with saying his name twice? I originally thought the big gag was that his first name is actually Kennedy, but they were abbreviating it to Ken – which he didn’t like, hence Kennedy Kennedy but he introduced himself to Sharmell as Ken Kennedy… Kennedy the other week, so now I’m confused… and sexy.

4th – Batista vs Nunzio (Grade: C)

I’m not going to whine like other netheads about the Cruiserweight champ getting squished by the World Champ, mainly since I think it’s believable. The little fella is the champ of little fellas, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he can fight the big dog. A pterodactyl might have been a spry and flighty sort of Dino but if you put the thing in a small room with a T-Rex, I’ve put money on the big one feasting on the little one’s innards. Just think yourself lucky that DAVE didn’t go *that* route.

3rd – JBL vs Rey Mysterio (Grade: C+)

I think having the cruiser belt on Rey would be clever – he wouldn’t have to give up chasing the World or US belts but he would have to always be looking behind him for the guys who can’t hang with the bigger boys but *can* hang with Mysterio. It would lead to a quite interesting situation. This match with JBL was definitely adequate, if a little sluggish at times. Eric sent out a memo to Bradshaw that he needs to not catch Rey if the moonsault is going to be the finish, but I thought it worked out alright, since it sort of looked like Rey’s leg smacked JBL squarely in the noggin, which could conceivably have knocked him out for long enough to sneak the three. Good ending, although it looked like they were taking it in very slow motion.

2nd – Undertaker vs Randy Orton (Grade: B)

Odd one, this – probably the best match that Orton and ‘Taker have had but the least fun by a wide margin. This must be traced back to ‘Taker’s non-observance of the complete no-selling policy he wholeheartedly subscribed to at SummerSlam and ‘Mania. As much as I dislike the boy generally, Randy put on a good show here and hung with ‘Taker the whole way. The bit with the casket was nicely done too, although I assume there was nothing in there during the live show and they did a shot backstage with Mark in there and then tacked it on. That weren’t Brian Lee or a dummy. Same thing?

1st – Christian/Jordan vs Benoit/Booker (Grade: B+)

You really can’t go too far wrong with this one, and Jordan was again smart enough to limit his involvement and just watch and learn. Booker was amped up again, Christian was far smoother than he’s been for the last month and Benoit is Benoit. Not as good as their match from about 6 weeks ago, but not a million miles away. Great way to start the show and Benoit is *very* over for a guy who, according to some, has no discernable personality. I’d even go as far as saying that Benoit is probably more over these days than Kevin Nash was as Diesel during his World Title run.

The Rankings – Performances

SmackDown MVP of the week: Batista
It’s nice to have the top guy get the nod on this front sometimes – the cocky swagger backstage and the little things, the grimace when drinking Simon Dean’s proteinous products, the performance and verbal inflection during the Eddie Guerrero segment were wonderful little touches that got him over as the cool guy in the first place and *definitely* the way they need to go with the character – cool guy who occasionally blows his lid beyond reasonable limits. I also like that they’re playing the Eddie psychology two ways – rather than Dave being a gullible fool who’s buying it, it looks like they’re going to go with him as a guy who is playing along and going to try and convince Eddie that he’s been fooled by the front.

The SD Wooden Spoon: Palmer Cannon
I thought he was going to be a one-off – he’s not, it seems. He sucks.

Grade B: Undertaker, Orton, Christian, Benoit, Booker T
Grade C+: Rey Mysterio, JBL
Grade C: Anyone not mentioned elsewhere

OVERALL Smackdown RATING: B

Pleasing – a good use of a couple of hours, something I’ve not been writing recently and am pleased as punch to say once in a while.

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WWE Unforgiven: 18th September 2005

The Results:

– Ric Flair beat Carlito for the IC Title with the figure four
– Trish and Ashley beat Torrie and Victoria when Trish pinned Victoria after a roundhouse kick
– The Big Show beat Snitsky with a chokeslam
– Shelton Benjamin beat Kerwin White with a T-bone suplex
– Matt Hardy beat Edge in a cage match following a legdrop from atop the cage
– Cade and Murdoch won the tag titles from Rosey and Hurricane after a combo legsweep/lariat on the Hurricane
– Shawn Michaels pinned Chris Masters following a superkick
– Kurt Angle beat John Cena by DQ when the ref saw Cena using the belt as a weapon

The Rankings – Matches

8th – Trish/Ashley vs Torrie/Victoria (Grade: E+)

A dreadful match – not only was Ashley a complete embarrassment, not even managing to take a corner bump and exposing the business with her every breath in there, not only did she nearly kill herself by f*cking up a simple bump out of the ring, but Trish was clearly quite rusty and not the worker she was before the injury. Sure, she’ll bounce back, no doubt, but whilst Victoria worked very hard to disguise Massaro’s limitations, Trish seemed to want to do what she wanted to do when she wanted to do it. This led to some uncomfortable exchanges with the heels. I also might be imagining things, but was Trish pretty much snubbing Ashley after the match, raising her arm but sort of dragging her around the ring with a smile yet total indifference?

7th – Cade/Murdoch vs Hurricane/Rosey (Grade: D)

In a word – boring. Cade is alright but Murdoch looks like a fish out of water. I know he’s going for the disgruntled, unreasonably angry Texan bit but he looks more like an overgrown baby who has lost his favourite teddy. The homosexual subtext between Cade and Trev is quite unsettling and quite unplanned also. Hurricane put in an adequate showing here, superior to his lazy efforts on RAW two weeks ago but that wasn’t anywhere near enough to make anyone at all interested in this match, which played to near complete silence and answered JRs question posed on WWE.com earlier in the week – are the two “young pups” ready for the challenge of a title match on PPV? I’d personally say “like bollocks they are” but I’m pretty harsh when I want to be. I’m going to agree with Iain and say axe the tag team scene immediately please, it’s not big and it’s not clever.

6th – Kerwin White vs Shelton Benjamin (Grade: D)

A massive let down here – with Chavo saddled with his ridiculous new gimmick and Shelton languishing in his post-IC title limbo, you’d have thought these two would have come roaring out of the gates to remind us and all backstage what they are capable of and therefore start getting some support and upwards mobility again but no – ‘fraid not. This one was slow, it told little story and contained nothing of any interest. To top this off, after several weeks of trying to build Kerwin up in his new role, we now find out that it looks like he’s going to be a comedy jobber. Sadly, there won’t be comedy since he’s not funny. What a waste of time.

5th – The Big Show vs Gene Snitsky (Grade: D)

Pretty much what I was expecting, which is a plodding kick and punch fest, capped off with a chokeslam. Good enough (just) for RAW, not worthy of PPV time.

4th – Shawn Michaels vs Chris Masters (Grade: C)

Either Michaels wasn’t trying very hard here or Masters is truly a useless lump of uselessness. Michaels and 75 year old Hulk Hogan had a good match at SummerSlam, for pity’s sake! This match was only hoisted into adequate territory because of a reasonably exciting “will he, won’t he?” segment in the Masterlock and a tight finish. Rather than moaning like others about how they’re stupid for trying to get the Full Nelson over, I’ll call it like I see it – they *have* got the Full Nelson over, it’s the guy behind it that nobody cares about and the only time they react is when he goes for the move. The rest of his arsenal needs some serious attention pronto. Also, I don’t know why, but I don’t like wrestlers clearly chewing gum in the ring, it’s dangerous and makes them look like they’re taking it far too casual.

3rd – Ric Flair vs Carlito (Grade: C)

This match was a curiosity – for the majority of action, it was dodgy. It basically consisted of Flair chopping Carlito and that was about it. Carlito worked the arm a little but showed extremely limited aptitude for being on the big stage. The crowd, however, ate it all up and helped the match along to the conclusion. Whilst the first 8 minutes was the same Flair match we’ve seen for years, albeit slower and less interesting, the culmination played out quite well with Flair *finally* hitting a move off the top. The ensuing look of triumph on Flair’s face and the reaction from the crowd was very amusing. Punching Carlito in the mouth when he had a gobful of apple wasn’t a bad move either. Great feelgood ending and the ongoing segments with Flair giving a bunch of lasses a right seeing to in his limo were one of the few pleasures of the night. Shame he decided to bring up Triple H in his victory speech, drawing boos, but I guess they had to work Hunter into the show some way.

2nd – John Cena vs Kurt Angle (Grade: C)

An adequate match for a lot of it with some reasonable drama but *well* below what Angle is capable of. The first 5 minutes played host to an unreasonable amount of stalling, probably just to extend the time of the match and not expose Cena’s limitations. The opposite of Flair/Carlito – eg. moderate action but deplorable ending – this one was an insult to the viewer because the “Champ getting DQd when it wasn’t really his fault” finish is clearly there to extend the feud so they can get another payoff from the match and IT’S ALREADY BEEN DONE ON PPV LESS THAN SIX MONTHS AGO. Remember the first Batista vs JBL match? Exactly the same thing. Seriously, so very lazy and disrespectful of the consumer.

1st – Matt Hardy vs Edge (Grade: B)

The best match of the night by a considerable margin and a well told story, which started slow and played before indifference in the early going, but sped up and heated up towards the end. Both guys worked very hard in this one, but there were a few dodgy spots which made me scratch my head – fighting over a headlock in the opening session seemed strange for a blood feud, as did Matt Hardy going for an early cover – psychologically, that just didn’t work for me. Of course, the Hardy legdrop off the top of the cage was predictable but awesome at once, Edge’s juice job was sufficiently tangy and the only reason that this doesn’t get a smidge more out of me is that Eddie and Rey had a slightly better cage match on free TV less than 3 weeks ago. They really should have thought that through a little better – less cage matches = more effect when they’re busted out.

The Rankings – Performances

MVP of the PPV: Matt Hardy
Anyone who launches themselves off a tall thing and lands on their arse gets a thumbs up from me.

The PPV Wooden Spoon: Ashley Massaro
Go away.

Grade B: Matt Hardy, Edge
Grade C+: Ric Flair, Victoria
Grade C: Everyone not mentioned elsewhere
Grade D: White, Masters, Snitsky, Trish, Carlito, Murdoch
Grade E: Ashley

OVERALL PPV RATING: D

Whilst not the worst PPV of all time, this is the sort of lazy card that WWE seems to put together for their single-brand efforts a worrying majority of the time. With very little planning, rhyme or reason, the show was also brought down by a few minor blips on the production side, cameramen not getting the right angle etc – this is a *very* fussy point, I know, but WWE are usually extremely good in the production area, so I feel this was a smidge below their usual levels of competence. I should also note that the commentating was noticeably poor, especially from Jim Ross – there was far too much in the way of backchat between JR and Coach, it sounded like two schoolgirls fighting over who gets to play with Malibu Barbie first. I single JR out because he knows better than that. I suspect they might have been trying to go for what Ventura and Monsoon used to do but it didn’t work and just detracted from the show.

With very little in the way of quality action and no real progression of anything for anyone, this was just a card that was taking up time until Survivor Series or Taboo Tuesday, just a bland money-drain for the punter. I wouldn’t be quite so irritated if the main event had finished clean but people stick their mitten in their pocket and come up with a wad of cash to see resolution to storylines, not a lazy get of jail free card played, trying to ensure that the person who just stumped up cash has to pay a second time to find out what happens. It’s like going to see a movie, shelling out your £6 at the door and then, just when Forrest Gump gets back from Vietnam, the projectionist pauses the film and the ushers come around and demand another £6 a piece to turn the flick back on. And don’t give me any claptrap about how Lord of the Rings made you come back for extra films, each one of their “chapters” had a justifiable and sufficient ending within itself.

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