Todd Martin's Raw Report for August 18



WWE Raw Report

By: Todd Martin

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Blog: toddwmartin.blogspot.com

Date: 08/18/08 from Chicago, IL.

The Big News: WWE announced the main event for Unforgiven, and it’s TNA-rific.

Show Analysis:

Chris Jericho opened the show. He said he was not there to apologize, and that Shawn Michaels should apologize for what happened to his wife. They then zoomed to Keith Lipinski in the crowd. Dr. Keith gives Jericho the thumbs down but gives WWE putting him on camera the thumbs up. Keith also did nothing to plug this website, so I really think Bryan should fire him.

Jericho posited that Michaels should have sent in a letter of resignation rather than come out to get the fans to beg him not to leave. Jericho thus concluded the fans are also responsible for what happened. Jericho said that Michaels’ last time in a WWE ring was spent cradling his injured wife and knowing that he was responsible. Jericho said Michaels tarnished his legacy forever and that Michaels will have to live with that. This was a really good follow-up to the excellent angle last night.

Batista beat Paul Burchill in a quick squash. Batista hit the spear and the Batista bomb for the pin. Backstage, Mike Adamle was about to introduce Primo (Eddie) Colon, but as Primo started to talk Adamle saw John Cena and ran away to say something to Cena. I just don’t get why they bury guys before they even have a chance to get over. Why even bother signing someone if you think so little of them that you purposely humiliate them in their first appearance?

Adamle went to talk to Cena, but Cena blew him off and walked into Batista. Cena told Batista that the previous night was a great match and that the better man won. They shook hands. Cena then noted “that was last night.” Evidently Cena is expecting next time will go differently.

Mickie James and Kelly Kelly beat Jillian Hall and Katie Lea. Poor Katie can’t catch a break. The heels teamed up for an electric chair on Kelly. Jillian stood on Kelly’s hair and threw Kelly by the hair. Katie hit a back breaker. Kelly tagged Mickie, who came in with a spinning head scissors, clotheslines, enzuigiri and neck breaker on Katie. Katie rolled up Mickie and grabbed the tights, but only got a two. Mickie then hit the implant DDT for the pin.

JBL defeated Jamie Noble via ref stoppage. They exchanged punches, but JBL soon took over. He hit a fall away slam, and followed with stiff punches, kicks and elbows. He hit three clotheslines from hell and covered. That led to a bizarre finish, as rather than count three, the referee counted one and then stopped his count and ruled the match over. I’m fine with referee stoppages, but a ref stoppage when one guy has the pin is non-sensical and completely idiotic. Jamie Noble did a great job selling here.

Mike Adamle came out to announce Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk for Raw, and said that Shane and Stephanie McMahon made the Unforgiven main event. It will be a “championship scramble,” with Punk, JBL, Kane, Batista and Cena in a five man, twenty minute match. The title changes hands whenever anyone pins anyone else, and whoever scored the last pin at the end of the twenty minutes is champion.

This is such a stupid idea. It’s like one of TNA’s moronic gimmick matches even down to the TNA name. It’s convoluted and gimmicky, and will mean less than just having a singles match. Throwing out random gimmicks devalues when you have an actual gimmick that means something. Passing around the title devalues the title. And determining the champion based on whoever last had control at the end of a 20 minute time limit feels arbitrary and inconclusive. I really hate this gimmick.

John Cena beat Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. Before the match, Cryme Tyme came out and stole the tag team belts. Of course, if you can’t beat a man 2 on 1, isn’t he the rightful tag team champions anyway? DiBiase hit punches, a dropkick, a fist drop and a suplex. DiBiase used a side Russian leg sweep, and sent Cena into the barricade and steps.

Cena came back with a suplex on DiBiase and punches. Cole called the punches ground and pound. I guess that makes Mirko Cro Cop a great ground and pound fighter, but hey, it’s better than Cro Cop being a great pound and grounder. Cena followed with shoulder blocks, the Cena slam and five knuckle shuffle on Rhodes. He knocked DiBiase out of the ring and applied the STFU on Rhodes for the submission.

This was two straight segments I really hated. At least they gave DiBiase and Rhodes a lot of offense, but it totally and unnecessarily buries your tag team champions when they lose a handicap match. They could have just done what they did with Batista or JBL. Or hell, just have a long match where Ted DiBiase has tons of success against John Cena, but Cena beats him clean at the end. Fans are left thinking that DiBiase is a guy with a lot of upside, but Cena’s just better now.

The irony is that they probably think they are putting Cena over strong, but really the win would mean more if he won a hard fought singles match because the handicap match just teaches the fans that the opponents were jokes. The handicap matches I used to think were done to intentionally bury people, but I think maybe they’re just so stupid they don’t know any better.

They aired a video clip from last night. Michaels was questioned about his wife. Well, actually, they just zoomed in on her lip. In any event, Michaels said he would go home and comfort his wife and kids. He added “and then…” but trailed off. This was a phenomenal, phenomenal performance by Michaels. This is an old school wrestling feud, where you really want to see the face get his revenge on this heel. They went to CM Punk, who said he would hold Jericho accountable for what he did.

D-Lo Brown beat Santino Marella via DQ. Kofi Kingston did commentary. D-Lo hit a body slam and leg drop. He went for the frog splash, but Beth Phoenix came in the ring and stood in front of Santino. D-Lo told her to get to stepping, so she slapped him for the DQ. D-Lo slapped Santino, hit a back drop, and clotheslined him out of the ring. Kofi dropped Santino on the table. Beth helped Santino to the back, while Santino hilariously declared that he is still champion and D-Lo is stupid.

Kane came out for a promo. He said he carried around his bag for a while, and it comforted him and put a smile on his face. Sort of like Tim Sylvia and his UFC title. At least he didn’t kill Jens Pulver when he lost it. Kane then described how much he hates Rey Mysterio. The promo was filled with lots on *how much* he hates Rey, but very little on *why*. I guess he’s just crazy.

In any event, he called Rey a slime who hides behind a mask and a fungus that grows in the marshes of your psyche. Okay. Kane said six weeks ago he figuratively eviscerated Rey. He said that Rey is still physically alive, but that Rey’s spirit is crushed. Batista came out and fought with Kane. Batista hit a spear, but when he went for the Batista bomb Kane attacked his leg and hit a choke slam.

Chris Jericho pinned CM Punk. It was in Chicago, so Punk got a nice reaction and proceeded to lose in relatively clean fashion. Jericho hit a clothesline and back breaker. Punk retaliated with a high kick, butterfly suplex into a back breaker and high knee. Jericho escaped the bulldog, hit the lionsault, and applied the Walls. Punk got out and hit the high knee and bulldog. Punk was distracted by Lance Cade at that point. Jericho hit Punk from behind and used the code breaker for the pin.

Final Thoughts:

This show was terribly booked. It was one of the worst booked shows of the year. It buried people, it had segments that made no sense, and it did little to make me interested in anything they have coming up. I feel like WWE has been booked very competently this year, but this reminded me of Raw editions in previous years where the foolishness of the booking left me angry.

The one shining bright spot is the Michaels/Jericho program, which is just on an entirely different plane of existence from the rest of this show. Michaels vs. Jericho is the best put-together wrestling feud since Batista vs. HHH. The term “money program” gets thrown around in describing pro wrestling, but I think for the most part a money program is a dated concept in WWE.

WWE puts together big shows with big stars, and draws based on the names of those stars and the names of those shows. The notion of a money program where people pay their money to see the culmination of a personal issue between two people is something that I don’t think really exists for the most part anymore in pro wrestling. Batista/HHH to me was the last program that had that feel.

Jericho/Michaels has that feel. If there are still wrestling fans who order pay-per-views because they have to know who is going to win a specific match, this match should be able to pop a substantial buy rate. And the match is going to be the perfect test of whether that type of pro wrestling fan still exists, or whether that’s exclusively UFC’s audience now. In short, Jericho vs. Michaels is a money program if in fact such a thing still exists.

Next week, WWE has announced that Raw will be on the Sci-Fi Network at 9. However, my DVR says that Raw will not be on Sci-Fi here and will instead air on USA at 11 (despite the US Open not being on at 9 on USA). Anyway, if Raw is on here at 9, the report will be up at the normal time. If it comes on at 11, it will probably come on Tuesday. Oddly enough, the week after, Raw is listed at both 6 and 9 on USA, so the report may come in earlier that week. {plug}

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