For Your Consideration…A Critic-al RAW

For Your Consideration…A Critic-al RAW

Welcome to a For Your Consideration that promises to be full of country goodness and green pea-ness. Yes folks, it’s going to be a night of obscure “The Critic” references, so for those of you born in the 90s or later, you better duck because some of this might go wizzing over your head. Speaking of the younger generation of fans (or anyone techno-savvy), I wanna remind you that you can follow me on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/awheeler316, follow me on Facebook, e-mail me at awheeler316@yahoo.com or just post your comments below (see, I have a lot to cover, so I’m getting the whoring out of the way early for your convenience). This week is another stacked column, with thoughts on Over the Limit and Carl Ito’s departure. All that plus a full Judicial Review of tonight’s RAW. With that said, let’s get down to it.

Last night was the WWE DUI PPV, and the overall feeling I have is a resounding “meh”. The entire show was the epitome of a filler pay-per-view, and while those are perfectly acceptable to feed the audience as we move into summer, I don’t think anyone in Titan Towers was expecting the audience to leap to their feet in unanimous applause. Unlike the “Extreme Rules” PPV that had what I consider several high quality matches, this show seemed to have a lot of near misses. I’m not blaming anyone on the roster because it’s hard to be overly motivated for a lackluster show, but I’m not heaping the praise that I did last month.

The show opened with Kofi and Drew for the IC title. I predicted in the Roundtable that Kingston was going to walk out of the show with the belt, and lo and behold, I was right. I also called the Matt Hardy involvement, though I was a bit surprised that they held him off until AFTER the match.

A lot of people seemed to be upset that Kofi won the match after having the belt stripped from him on Friday, and to those people I have to say, “Relax”. Calm it down. Like I said last week, smart fans think long-term while marks have knee-jerk reactions. In the longrun, this is going to (potentially) benefit both wrestlers. Kingston now gets to rule the Smackdown midcard, which is populated with the likes of Dolph Ziggler and Christian, while Drew can finish his feud with Matt Hardy without tying up the Intercontinental Title. Sure, the belt is now a glorified prop, but on Kofi it’s a glorified prop that gives the company yet another fresh midcard storyline.

R-Truth beat Ted DiBiase despite Teddy having Virgil in his corner. There are rumors running rampant (gotta love alliteration) that the finish changed because Teddy suffered some sort of injury, but if this was in fact the plan all along, it isn’t the worst idea. If Teddy was successful with the real Virgil in his corner, his quest to create the Fortunate Sons stable wouldn’t be necessary since he’s winning on his own. Now he has the drive and determination to go out and recruit new members. Sure, Carl Ito is gone and hopefully Primo will follow suit, but FCW is crawling with next generation stars waiting to get called up. The match itself was forgettable RAW nonsense, but at least it was a fresh match with young stars on a PPV.

Rey Mysterio beat CM Punk and shaved his head bald. I was shocked. No, not at the outcome, but at how Mysterio achieved it. In the Roundtable, I picked Punk to win, and it was a fairly irrational decision. Storyline logic dictated that Rey was going to ultimately have to make good on his threat, or else any credibility he had would evaporate faster than his World Title run. The problem is that Rey might not be long for the company since he thinks he’s worth a lot of money while the WWE believes that any short Spanish guy in a mask can do flippy moves and win the hearts and minds of those folks fleeing Arizona. The solution was for Rey to get a fluke pin on Punk. There is no clearer message to send than to have Mysterio, a former World Champion, get the decisive pinfall on a months’ long feud with a random, out of nowhere pinfall. No West Coast Pop. No 619. Just a Barry Horowitz roll-up. And this isn’t a knee-jerk reaction here. This is the evidence on display for itself. Rey once again saw how Vince can easily marginalize anyone he likes. Even worse for Mysterio, after the match was over most of the heat (no pun intended) wound up with Kane, who made the random save. Maybe the WWE wants to do Kane and Rey versus the SES as a way to phase Rey out and wedge Kane into the insta-feud. Regardless, it was an ending that spoke volumes.

The Hart Dynasty beat Jiz (I dubbed them that last week and then Paul Marshall told me he saw it on Twitter, so it isn’t 100% original but I think it’s something that’ll stick…yes, I went there). I figured that the champs would retain because Jericho and Miz’s fate really doesn’t lie with the Unified Tag Titles. Maybe they will get a rematch and win the straps, but that’s not where the value lies. No, this little mini-stable would do well to have Miz chase the US Title and Jericho win the belts with his protégé, Wade Barrett. Wade and Jericho match up better against Kidd and Smith since it’s a big guy and a fast guy against a big guy and a fast guy. It isn’t rocket science, folks. The match itself was inoffensive but nothing overly memorable.

Edge and Orton went to a double count-out due to Randy’s injured shoulder. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the finish wasn’t always going to be a double count out. The WWE needs both Edge and Orton strong for Final Four, so ending the match with both guys laid out accomplished that. One thing of note was the palpable hatred between Cole, Lawler and Stryker. Matt keeps getting better every week but the RAW folks keep burying him. When Randy came through the curtain, Stryker said it was a loud ovation. Lawler then threw him under the bus by saying that it wasn’t a loud ovation but just a loud reaction, noting that they weren’t all cheers. I haven’t seen an announce situation this uncomfortable since Tazz and Styles buried Referee Armstrong in his tryout.

As for Orton’s injury, it will actually benefit him. First, remember back to when Randy initially debuted in the WWE. He was a hated babyface that annoyed the hell out of the crowd. He didn’t generate any heat with the audience until he started doing his RNN updates on his injury. Those things were pure gold. Even better, having Randy sit out with an injury will parallel Steve Austin’s post-injury antics. Orton’s biggest weakness, quite frankly, is his in-ring work. It’s slow, it’s methodical, and at times it’s downright boring. Take him out of actual wrestling and he’s a better character. He’s improved leaps and bounds on the mic, he has a presence about him in promos and shoulder or not he can still hit an RKO. This injury might be the best thing to ever happen to him. Also, this might be the opening a guy like John Morrison has been waiting for, since Randy might not make it to the next PPV and the match needs a second babyface.

Big Show beat The Opportunistic Show Stopping American American Weasel Kurt Swangle via DQ in a finish that everyone saw coming before the opening of the broadcast. Look, if you were buying the PPV to see Show and Swangle, you are either a blood relative or you have too much money. Everyone knew that the point of this match was to tell a simple story; Swangle can’t beat Big Show clean but Big Show can’t win the title. Now Show wants revenge and Swangle needs to strategize to keep his belt. Get off this antiquated bent that this is going to somehow “weaken” him as a champion. He’s a young guy who has already beaten Randy Orton clean. He will be fine. In fact, a finish like this, a finish so Old School that you can practically see the MidAtlantic logo, will get him over further as a cowardly jackass heel. Again, knee-jerk reactionists that say that Swangle is buried just don’t see the long-term potential. Swangle will retain at the Four Way PPV and probably coast into Summerslam so that he can lose to Taker. It worked for Punk, it’ll work for him.

Eve beat Maryse. I predicted the winner, but it doesn’t mean I care about the match. Eve hasn’t shown me much in the ring, and she’s probably one contract negotiation away from being future endeavored.

John Cena killed Batista after Batista tried to commit vehicular homicide. What about that sentence DOESN’T scream pro wrestling? Cena and Batista had their weakest outing here, but it wasn’t terrible. An “I Quit” stipulation will always lead to odd, hollow spots, and this one had several. We got to see Batista powerslam Cena through a table, which was a cool spot. We got to see them brawl through the crowd and watch Batista get pushed off the railing, which was a cool spot. We got to see Batista replace Orton’s pyro death with his homage to Death Proof, even though it came off as cartoonish. In the end, Cena turned Batista into a coward, and then like TNA, threw the top heel into a hole. Unlike TNA, that tosses viable main eventers into a hole, the WWE uses holes to write people off. This was the same hole that Taker pulled Diesel into when he was on his way out. Plus, as soon as Dave was gone, the true star of the night was able to take center stage as Sheamus laid out Cena. I figured Sheamus would rear his orange head sooner or later in the show, and having him close out the PPV by standing over the champ made for one hell of a RAW image. Too bad people had to pay money to see it.

Oh, and as for Carl Ito and his situation, it’s hard to think of another star that has blown so many chances to be a main event star. But enough about Mister Kennedy…Kennedy. Carl Ito should have been a main eventer, but a combination of backstage politics, injuries and a bad attitude constantly held down a fairly talented guy who was great at generating heel heat and could cut a solid promo. For him to get released on the cusp of another push makes me think that this might not have a happy ending. You never wish anything bad on anyone, so hopefully he can turn things around. Then again, as a wrestling realist, I know that the odds aren’t in his favor.

Alright, onto RAW.

The Judicial Review: Monday Night RAW 5/24/10

“Everyone has a price.”

We open the show by reliving all of the Batista/Cena/Sheamus shenanigans before getting to hear my favorite Nickelback song that sounds just as terrible as all the other ones.

RAW is LIVE from Toledo Ohio. Nothing says excitement quite like Toledo. There’s pyro, ballyhoo and brightly colored signs. Man, this is going to overstimulate the Ohioans.

The show is starting with Dave Batista, who is sporting a nice sling and is being escourted by two referees. Nice little heel move as he made the refs stop long enough for him to pose with one arm raised. Kudos to you, action star. Dave is also sporting sunglasses that look less hip and more like those novelty shades that have built-in windshield wipers.

Dave berates the referees as he climbs up the stairs, even going so far as to use one of their skulls as a ramp. I don’t know who this guy is, but I wish he had replaced the original Batista years ago. You know, like how there were three or four Ultimate Warriors.

Batista pulls a page from FDR and plops himself in a wheelchair as he demands his spotlight. Wow, I didn’t even know he had polio. Dave says that he did say two words that he thought would never come out of his mouth, “Movie star”. Oh, it was “I quit.” Dave says he quit because his life was being threatened. Why’s that? Did the WWE say they were going to sell him to TNA?

Dave says he is going to file suit against John Cena, the WWE and every fan in the WWE Universe. Well, he does have a case against Cena and the WWE since his consensual physical contact ceased the minute the match ended. As for a reverse class-action suit against the WWE Universe, that might not work since you can’t sue minors or the mentally challenged for intentional acts. Those of us that are fairly intelligent might be screwed. Don’t worry, I’m volunteering to represent the entire WWE Universe pro bono. Heh…bono.

Batista says he’s injured and might be out for weeks, months or years, but he will return. Justin Roberts interrupts him to announce the new RAW GM…Bret “The Hitman” Hart. IT ISN’T ABRAHAM WASHINGTON!!! IT ISN’T ABRAHAM WASHINGTON!!! PRAISE BE TO JESUS/ALLAH/JACOB!!!

The Hitman is sporting full-on jeans because he is an authority figure after all. Bret says there’s a new sheriff in town. Wait, Shawn’s back? Hart says that there’s going to be a Fatal Fourway PPV and he will face three different competitors. All of them will be decided tonight. Hart says that Batista has a qualifying match tonight. Well, that’s almost like a qualifying match.

Bret says that Batista’s opponent is also hurt, Randy Orton. Batista asks what’s Bret’s malfunction. Uh…he had a stroke. Dave says that he’ll quit the company and leave the industry rather than fight Orton, so Bret says that Randy Orton has qualified for the PPV match. Well that’s a novel way to cover up Orton’s injury.

Batista is trapped in the ring in his wheelchair and he’s all angry and bald. Dave then pulls a James Mattingly from “That Thing You Do” and sings the “I quit” song. Batista says that everyone pays to see him and that we won’t tune in otherwise. He then quits the WWE. Right after quitting, a miracle happens as he’s able to stand from the wheelchair. He’s like John Locke, only instead of knives, he has duct tape. Batista says that the show will be cancelled in a week. Sorry Dave, this ain’t Impact.

Brilliant opening segment.

Commercial.

Jerry “Ed Hardy” Lawler and Michael “Casual Male” Cole (aka Bryan Danielson’s bitch) are on camera and they recap what just happened. Thanks for justifying your existence, guys.

Our next qualifying match is about to start. Out first is Mark Hey-Hey Henry. Well I guess we know who’s losing here. How the hell is he sweating so much just walking to the ring? Does the Wellness Policy not test for gravy?

His opponent (and obvious winner) is Sheamus. Sheamus seems to be getting more and more tan every week, taking him from whole milk to buttermilk. That’s a bad sign because Henry looks like he wants some flapjacks.

Sheamus and Henry lock up and Henry takes Sheamus down with a shoulderblock moments after Cole says that Henry has an injured shoulder. You can’t write comedy like this. Henry dumps Sheamus over the top rope like a sack of potatoes.

Speaking of which, “The Shermans have a boy in their basement.” “That’s a sack of potatoes.” “Nah, it has his initials on it, AP.” “That says A&P.” “Damn ye, Geraldo, and your journalistic integrity.” I miss “The Critic”.

Sheamus is back in the ring and he’s in control and working on the shoulder that Henry forgot to sell. Henry powers up and we get a lot of slow offense. Watching him work is like watching a lava lamp. Henry connects with the Kool Aid Splash for two. He misses a charge into the corner but catches Sheamus up for a powerslam. Unfortunately, now his shoulder acts up and he drops Sheamus. Sheamus then kicks him in a few of his chins, and it’s all over. This was like watching a W.E.B. Dubois wet dream (that’s something for the history buffs out there).

Commercial.

We’re back and it’s “Jon Lovitz’s Superstar Search.” I don’t even know what it is and I already thing it’s brilliant. Acting!

Lovitz is in the back on the phone with Vince, demanding stock or ten percent of the company. Maryse then shows up and he asks if she’s the masseuse. She says she has hot photos that would win his Superstar Search. He plugs his comedy club, cleverly named the Jon Lovitz Comedy Club. He also has created some sort of pinch move as a finisher. He follows this up by reciting French poetry and telling her that he has millions of dollars. Lovitz then tells her he’s over her and leaves.

Hart and Edge are in the back and Edge says that he deserves a one-on-one match rather than qualifying for a match. Bret says that since Edge didn’t win the night before, he has to qualify. Edge says he should get to face John Cena. This gets interrupted by Chris Jericho, who points out that he beat Edge at Wrestlemania. Oh yeah. Chris demands the final slot. Hart has decided that Chris Jericho will face Edge and John Cena in a triple threat match. If Cena wins, they’re both out of the match and Bret gets to pick the fourth. Edge says that he’s the better champion and the better Canadian. How do you rate Canadians? And where the hell is Lance Storm?

Jericho says that Bret shouldn’t cross him or he’ll make this the worst decision of his life. Really Chris? Did you not see his WCW run?

Commercial.

On Smackdown this week, Undertaker comes back to phone it in until Summerslam.

We’re back and we get still photos of Eve and Maryse from last night. Yeah, don’t show any actual clips because that’ll hurt the replay buys.

Maryse and Alicia Fox are in the ring hugging. They will face Eve Torres and Gail Kim. Now that LOST is over, this match is the most culturally diverse thing on television.

Alicia and Gail start it off and Gail hits a headscissor off the top rope. Hey, maybe she kinda learned how to wrestle without botching everything. Alicia blind tags Maryse, who stomps away on Gail Kim. Maryse then hits a backbreaker. Who needs bra and panty paddle on a pole match when we have stuff like this? (That question wasn’t as rhetorical as I originally thought).

Eve gets tagged in and connects with a neckbreaker before hitting a standing moonsault for two. Then, while the ref is distracted, Fox takes out Eve and Maryse hits the French Kiss for the dirty TV-14 pin.

Commercial.

Our next match is for the United States Championship, since Bret Hart relinquished the belt. Out first is R-Truth, who is saying that we could get with this or we could get with that. If one of those options is fast forwarding through this match, then can I select that? With all due respect to Miz, I can’t stomach watching Truth on live TV. At least on Smackdown they were able to cover his nonsense. “Toledo Ohio, what’s up?” Their hands as they see a black guy. Classy, I know.

Miz is out next and he has a mic. He says that what’s up is that he’s taking what should have never been taken from him in the first place. John Morrison? Oh, he meant the title. He’s The Miz and he’s awesome, apparently.

They start it off with a lock-up and Miz cheapshots Truth. Truth ducks under Miz and now he’s in control. I’m kinda shocked that this has started fast-paced and not overly terrible.

Commercial.

We’re back and Miz has Truth locked in a resthold. During the break Truth landed on his head. Damnit, show that to us live!

Miz connects with an armbreaker for two. He then hits Truth so hard that the Copyright logo pops up in the corner of the screen. When you strike a guy with enough force to generate a legal notice, you know you’re a badass. Truth starts battling back, but Miz connects with a boot that Truth over-sells. You don’t need to spin when you do EVERYTHING.

Miz hangs him up in the Tree of Woe, which stops him from spinning like a dreidel. Truth counters and drops Miz on his head for two. Miz and Truth trade punches on their knees as if this has been an epic war. Truth almost gets DQed for punches before eating an elbow. He then flapjacks Miz before connecting an ugly looking missile dropkick for two. I know it sounds like I’m piling on R-Truth, but…well…he needs to show me something better.

As I type that Truth connects with a fairly innovative looking move, so I hope he proves me wrong. Truth goes off the top rope but botches a cross-body that gets rolled through for two. Clearly I can’t handle the Truth.

Miz goes for a reverse backbreaker, but Truth turns it into a backslide for two. Truth with a small package for two (which goes against some stereotypes). Truth goes for a Scissor Kick but then connects with the Lie Detector for the pin. I still don’t understand how that’s a finishing move. Either way, Truth pins Miz to win the United States Title. This was his first singles title in the WWE.

We relive Batista quitting before going to the back with mini-Orton and John Cena. Jesus Matthews, lay off the self-tanner. Cena says that after the “I Quit” match it was so brutal that it ended a man’s career. When John heard Dave quit, he felt good for the first time in months. Finally, closure with Pudgy James…I mean Batista. He was on cloud nine, but then he was kicked in the face by an Irishman. Clearly those 1920’s propaganda films were right about them. John uses his powers of deduction to realize that Sheamus kicked him to get the WWE Title. Cena says the toughest part about holding the belt is keeping it, but it takes years to develop the kind of backstage politicking and backstabbing necessary to secure the title for a long run. Cena puts everyone on notice and he says he’s done playing nice. So throwing a guy off a car through the set was playing nice? Fuck.

Commercial.

We’re back and it’s time for Jon Lovitz. THANK YOU. He comes out with the Bella Twins as Cole butchers his catchphrases. He then gets a boost from the Bella Twins to get into the ring.

Jon Lovitz introduces himself before saying we’re going to get to see a WWE Talent Show. Sigh. Didn’t we do this with Ozzy already? Jon says he has more power than the announcers, the referees and Mr. McMahon. Apparently he has a buzzer and if he doesn’t like them he pushes the buzzer.

Out first is The Great Khali and Runjin Singh to recreate “Puttin on the Ritz”. Pain. If Mel Brooks were dead, he’d be spinning in his grave. Lovitz says that the worst thing he ever saw was Rosie O’Donnell naked, but this was a close second.

Out next is Jillian Hall and he buzzes her before she can even sing. Brilliant. “I take it you don’t like her.” Lovitz says that this is a big waste of time. Couldn’t have put it any better. Jon opens this to the audience. Talk to the audience? Ugh, this is always death. They then pull in a plant (I thought you people were called fruits). His name is Joe and his talent is that he can pull his eye out of his face. Sweet merciful crap, no. Sure enough, he pulls his eye out of his face. I mean, it’s a fake eye, but still.

This brings out Teddy DiBiase and Virgil for some reason. Cole calls him The Real Virgil, as if there are impersonators. Teddy offers to buy his eye or he’ll beat him up and take it. This now brings out Santino. To quote Toby Ziegler, “There is literally no one on the planet I don’t hate right now.” Santino then pulls out the Lovitz Finger Pinch and Virgil has to sell for it. That’s embarrassing, even for a man that’s probably done some sick stuff for crack. Teddy then hits Dream Street and apparently he wins the Talent Contest. Wow, first he beats DX and now this.

Commercial.

We’re back and it’s the Unified Tag Champions against Vladamir Kozlov and William Regal. Regal jumps Kidd to start before tagging in Vlad, who connects with a powerslam for two. Kozlov sets him up for a backbreaker, but Tyson breaks free and tags in a designated hitter. Not because his name is DH but because he does steroids. Regal comes in and goes for the knee lift but he eats a Hart Attack for the quick, WWE Challenge-esque win. They then get humped by the new Samoan guys (and girl) from FCW. All three climb the top rope (but not before one of them botches climbing up the rope in a borderline Wrestlecrap moment), and super skinny Rosey and Jamal hit splashes on the Canadians.

Commercial.

We’re back with Josh Matthews and the NXT Rookies. He asks who will be eliminated. Justin Gabriel picks Heath Slater because Heath could never main event a PPV. Wade says that he wants the ginger to go. Heath says that he isn’t going anywhere and he thinks that the C-List David Otunga should go home. How did he not call him the C-Section? Otunga says that Gabriel is a one-trick pony, Barrett is only about money and Heath Slater is the One Man Hick Band. They have a fake argument as Slater tries to keep a straight face.

Lawler mentions Cole’s confrontation with Bryan Danielson. That was probably the best moment on NXT in a long time. Unfortunately, my fear is that this might be like the time Joey Styles turned heel and then went nowhere. “You’re a poor mans excuse for JR.” Great line. Cole says he’s been trying to do his job all week and he underwent physical and mental trauma. Michael Cole and his lawyers have decided that Cole should demand that Danielson should apologize or he’ll sue him for everything he’s worth. Why would Michael Cole want a trunk full of PWG DVDs?

In the back, Edge and Jericho are plotting for their main event match. Chris says that they both know Cena’s hurt and that Jericho is going to pin him first. I love how everyone on the show tonight is sporting black eyes. It’s like a trailer park divorce court edition of RAW.

John Cena is walking in a hallway towards a…

Commercial.

Next Week’s RAW is hosted by Ashton Kutcher. If I told everyone to drink every time Cole would say the word “punked”, my readership would drop because everyone would die of alcohol poisoning.

Cena starts it off taking out Jericho and Edge. He clotheslines Edge out of the ring but almost gets put in the Walls but he overpowers and clears the ring for a…

Commercial.

We’re back and Edge and Jericho are double-teaming Cena like some teenage girl’s fan fiction. Edge and Jericho go after one another and Edge AGAIN gets launched over the top rope. Cena charges Jericho but Chris just dodges him and puts the boots to the champ. He then chokes John. Jericho suplexes Cena for two.

Jericho keeps Edge out of the ring after countering an FU into a DDT. It’s clear that Edge and Cena are pretty spent and the bulk of this match is on Chris’s shoulders. Cena starts up the Five Moves of Mediocrity with shoulderblocks and a slam. Jericho can’t see Cena and he is up for an FU but Chris flips off and kinda botches it and Edge spears him. Edge gets locked in the STFU but Jericho breaks it up. He goes for the Walls but abandons it to lock them on Edge. Cena breaks it up. Jericho goes for a roll-up but Cena turns it into an FU attempt and Edge spears him. Edge goes for the slow pin and Cena is apparently busted open. Jericho breaks it up and goes for another Walls but Edge small packages him for two.

Jericho hits the Codebreaker on Cena but eats a Spear for the pin. So the Final Four is Edge, Orton, Sheamus and Cena. No faults there. Sheamus then shows up on the ramp but for the first time tonight we hear self-tanned voices as Randy Orton appears. We get a Mexican Standoff with four white guys as we come to a close.

This has been for your consideration.

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