The Gospel of Wrestling: According to Matthew


Last night was the best episode of Raw in the last couple of months. I thought the whole show clicked just right. Vince’s opening promo was a nice way to start the show after the way last week’s show went dark. He drove home the New Years Revolution PPV, which on paper already has the ingredients to make this Sunday’s Armaggedon look weak by comparison.

“I’m a whore for the industry…”

The Flair-Angle match was a very nice show for TV standards. I love that The Nature Boy is still the IC champion. He’s an old, beaten man but he’s still Ric Fucking Flair, okay! Like HBK would do later in the show, Flair sold most of the match like a ragdoll for the Angle. I think Flair not tapping out to the Anglelock sort of makes The Olympic Gold Medalist look bad. He was taking out most of the Smackdown roster AND our new Teacher, Matt Striker in a matter of minutes just a few months ago – and they want us to believe a man who’s nearly 60 can hold on that long for a supposedly painful wrestling hold? The finish kept Flair’s heat strong though, and allowed him as the champion to not have two losses in a row.

If I were writing for the WWE, I’d suggest a bit of old school to begin 2006 – at New Years Revolution I would suggest Ric Flair defend his IC strap against Ricky Steamboat. It’s a total money match and if Flair is ever going to retire, I see it fitting to lose to a man and a wrestler as talented as Steamboat. He and Flair have had countless four star matches in the past and I wonder if they both have it in them to recreate history one more time, for just one night.

While writing all these wrestling columns since 1998, I often wonder if I should write for the smart fans who are online reading wrestling news and opinions non-stop or should I cater to marks who may or may not log on to read the Gospel? Vince McMahon said it back in the late 90’s – some people “Get it and some don’t.”

“Let’s face facts. Without those troops you’re too good for, there’s no America. And with no America, there’s no American heros. If you can’t get that, you can’t see me.”

Dusty Rhodes could not have written that. John Cena’s end of his promo with Kurt Angle was awesome, real shit. It gave him incredible face heat in what is essentially his own hometown and basically erased the heelish things that Angle had just said. The intensity Cena produced is directly linked to him being up close and personal with all of our troops last week. His words were straight from the hearts of all the men and women fighting day and night to keep our country safe from terrorism.

It seems like the E is still f*cking with Shelton Benjamin. Sure he’s getting a semi-push, but he’s still getting jobbed out in the most unfortunate of circumstances. Is this going to end positively for Benjamin? Will he go over Shawn Michaels in a big match? Will he stop making stupid mistakes during matches. A member of Team Angle should never make such crucial mistakes!

Maybe Shelton needs his Momma to set him straight!

Virgel’s match with Carlito was a pretty run of the mill match, and once again Carlito gets a safe push in the right direction for his career. He’s beat Cena before, who’s to ssy The Cool Guy won’t be the next WWE champion?

The backstage vignette between Vince and Candice Michelle wasn’t to my liking. I’m tired of seeing Vince be the Dirty Old Man. It was an excuse to have Candice strip for the teenagers and piss off the PTC, just because Vince can.

I did enjoy Shawn Michaels vs The Big Show. Shawn rightly oversold most of the match, and his little flurry of offense following the DDT allowed Shawn to pop the crowd with his signatures. I liked that Hunter, in being the Cerebral Assasin as Joey said, chose to elimate Show from contention in the Main Event at the PPV by taking out Michaels with the chair. That sets up Show vs. Hunter for Revolution and puts Shawn where he belongs which is in the top draw match. He won the World title a couple years ago in the Elimination Chamber, can he do it again?

You know if Eddie Guerrero had lived, this Sunday’s PPV would be drastically different. The whole wrestling industry, actually. There’s no point in trying to fathom what the future could have been. I’m just not lit up to see Armageddon too much. The PPV looks to be the same old crap. Same wrestlers, same moves, same ending probably too.

“Batista and Rey stand tall here tonight! Kane and Big Show have been vanquished! Thank you for joining us and we’ll see you on Smackdown!” – Michael Cole 12.18.05 – at the end of this weekend’s Armageddon

Okay, but here’s the thing. Batista’s injured. We know it. He knows it. And the E knows it. His partner is, I’m sorry, just a glorified midget lucha. To Kane and Big Show, Rey Jr. may as well be a 13 year kid. The undercard of Armageddon isn’t too great either. We’ve seen Booker T and Chris Benoit grapple more times than most of us have spent Thanksgiving with our families. And I’m so f*cking tired of Randy Orton and The Undertaker that it’s not even funny anymore. The HITC gimmick won’t make a match between Headlock Orton and Taker any better or worse. We’ll see lots of blood and and all the same bells and whistles that we are trained to respond to. Usually I put over the E and their PPV’s, but Armageddon just isn’t getting me this time. Maybe it’s the loss of Eddie. Or the move of Christian away from the shows over to TNA. Maybe it’s because the Champ is injured and his top contenders for the World title aren’t very hot at this point. Save your money and get someone a nice Christmas gift this year or save up and get both Revolution and Royal Rumble next month.

And by the way, I DID NOT NEED TO SEE RAY TRAYLOR hung and appearing dead on my
TV screen last night while that eerie f*cking Doors song played. I liked the Big Boss Man, I was a FAN of the Big Boss Man. I even rooted for him in WCW and all weird crap he did there. His image in the promo for the Taker-Orton match was not needed to get more heat for the match. It was there because, while Vince McMahon and the E are screwing with Shelton Benjamin in their own little way – they are also screwing with all of us.

As a layed on my bed watching the Viscera – Chris Masters match, I wondered how it was possible that at 25 I was still watching King Mabel do the same old Fat Man moves he did to Diesel and Sparky Plugg when I was a teenager. I’ve seen Mabel a couple of times now, and I was actually in attendance last year at the Smackdown taping in Spokane when Vis made his inital return with Midion and Gangrel and attacked the Undertaker for JBL. I seriously thought I was the only one in the whole arena who recognized them. I popped for it though, which just goes to show you it doesn’t matter how smart of a fan one gets, if the E feeds me some oldies but goodies like the Ministry of Darkness I will eat it up and like Oliver ask for some more. I would have liked Big Vis to go over just for the sake of history and the fact that Viscera in a PPV Main Event again after a decade would be fun for me.

Maybe Viscera could play Shelton Benjamin’s mother?

So alot of people are saying Matt Striker stole the Dean Douglas gimmick. I beg to differ. This Teacher is at a whole new level. His promo was so true that it alone makes me like the guy that much more. Again, kudos to the writers this week. Striker talks a good game and speaks some truth, but will he get the job done in the ring? That part remains to be seen.

Dusty Rhodes showing up for a blink and you’ll miss it backstage shot was one of a few winks at us fans this week who follow the show as closely as we do. A Dusty vs. Flair match and war of words bewtween the two under the right circumstances could make for quite a few good segments of Raw in the coming year.

I’m sold on the Mickie-Trish match at Revolution already. Week after week we have been building up to some sort of conflict between these two babes for a while now and I look foward to seeing it come to a head. Mickie is fresh and exciting and her match with Victoria last night was one of the better women’s matches in a long, long time.

Triple H and Kane ended in generally the same way I assumed it would. I saw these two wrestle each other in Sacramento at Judgment Day a few years for IC title. It was during the era of Triple H and Stonecold and their Two Man Power Trip and only one day prior to Hunter’s quad tear. It was a nice PPV match, and the normal goodness from those two. The match a few years ago had Kane winning the title from Trip with a Chain as the gimmick. The bout the two had last night was not nearly as good, but pretty similar considering everything in the wrestling business is basically the same thing. The finish involving the Big Show was a given and again just sets up the Grudge match between Hunter and Show down the line. It also added the appropriate extra heat to the Tag champs going into their match with Batista and Rey Rey.

Seeing Cena in a hood made me wonder if someone in the E made John watch the Jake the Snake vs. Rick Martel match from Wrestlemania 7 – just one of the many matches now available as part of the WWE Wrestlemania Anthology! I like that Cena ended up beating Daivari with the STFU and it’s a good thing that he now has a finisher at his disposal. His chracter needed that. After a night of screwy finishes to matches it figures that the blind man is the only one to go over cleanly.

So all in all Raw was a good show show this week. Kept me alert and entertained the whole time, which occasionally doesn’t happen.

“Just when you think you know the answers, I change the questions.” – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

I didn’t see Turning Point on Sunday. It sounded like a good show for the most part, I just can’t wrap my head around paying thirty bucks to see Jeff Jarrett keep going over. Apparently the Samoa Joe – AJ Styles match for the X title went over like gangbusters. I’ll catch the show on DVD eventually.

By the way, I wonder if we’ll ever see Samoa Joe just show up on Raw and punk out someone like Cena with two moves and take a title. It’s not gonna happen anytime soon, but one can only hope. You know the grass is always greener on the other side. Anyway, the January PPV is shaping up to be a good start to ’06 and all in all this weeks Raw was again one of the best written and booked shows in a long time.

Next Monday’s show from Afghanistan will be a nice reprieve from storylines for the Holiday week that’s ahead. I can’t wait to see what the E has up their sleeves for the Troops this year!

I’ll be back Friday with the ByteThis report and some weekend notes and of course, my Armageddon predictions. Have a safe week and Vote McMahon in 2008!