It's that time again where we take a look back at what WWE was doing on Raw five years ago. I paste in what I wrote originally five years ago and add in (2014 Thoughts) after the key matches and segments. The show was building up to SummerSlam 2009 that was two weeks away.
Live from Calgary, Alberta here's the Raw Deal…
Before I start I want to reiterate again that I'm Canadian. I've been to dozens of wrestling shows here in Canada, mostly Ontario where I live. Every time WWE comes here they do everything they can to get cheap heel heat probably because they're pissed that Canadian fans boo who they want and cheer who they want. I wasn't expecting anything less here.
(2014 Thoughts: I distinctly remember a guy emailing me once saying I was biased towards Canadians. It's true. Nothing wrong with that!)
Raw's GM of the night…wait actual wrestlers!
Hey look, they started Raw without the GM in the ring. It was actually about the wrestlers and the main event of Summerslam. Crazy, huh? Orton came out, said he's not afraid of Cena and that he's guaranteeing victory at Summerslam. Cena came out all crazy like, saying he really hates Orton and he was about to snap. What has Orton done to him to make him snap? I guess this is their way of saying the feud has had no build so far, so they're trying to boost that up quickly. What was with all of the staring? I mean I know all Orton ever does is stare because Vince probably loves his eyes, but it was a little excessive here. Not to mention the face touching. Just as they were about to fight (or kiss?), JeriShow came out.
Huge pop for Jericho because Calgary knows he's the best. The crowd loved him during all of it, which he seemed to enjoy. Jericho's lines about being Canadian were great, then Cena saying he loved Canada so much that he chose to leave was very funny. The end result was that Slaughter booked Jericho vs. Cena and Show vs. Orton because the tag champs intimidated him. Then Orton stared. Again and again and again. He loves to stare. This was a better opening segment than last week because it put the focus on the actual wrestlers rather than the guest GM, but it's not like it was great or anything. My hope here was they'd give Cena vs. Jericho twenty minutes of in ring action before the obvious run-in. They do it on Smackdown, so why not here? Because this is Raw where good wrestling goes to die.
(2014 Thoughts: Typical opening segment to set things up for later in the show. It's the show opening format that WWE has been doing for decades now.)
Hey there's Sgt. Slaughter and his chin. Good to see them both there.
Hunter's going to find Michaels for us. At least they can say Michaels' name as opposed to last week.
(2014 Thoughts: I remember the search for Michaels well. Several vignettes coming up later. The main pic I used is from the search too.)
Gail Kim d. Kelly Kelly, Beth Phoenix & Alicia Fox (*1/4)
This was certainly an athletic women's match. I think it was a nice attempt by the ladies in doing the typical cruiserweight spot (from WCW in the 90s) with everybody piling up on the floor. Kim's an incredible athlete while Fox continues to impress me. She's the greatest wedding planner turned wrestler in the history of the business. I'm not afraid to say it. Some of the stuff was a bit sloppy, but it was better than a typical women's match because they were able to plan the spots better. I'm looking forward to Kim vs. James in the future. Hopefully it leads to Mickie turning heel because, as I've said before, she is very good in that role.
(2014 Thoughts: I mentioned that Mickie heel turn idea nearly every week. It didn't happen. They really didn't have strong heel divas on Raw at this point, so Kim was given the babyface win just to give her something to do.)
Slaughter came out and said we should pay homage to Canada. Then a circle with a line came up to cover the flag. My reaction as a Canadian to this is supposed to be: "Oh no, I am crying now. How dare he insult my beloved country." Apparently if it wasn't for America we'd be speaking Russian and French. Great history lesson, thanks for that. I'll have you know I was forced to study French in school and I've forgotten all of it because in Canada we consume a lot of beer due to how much we hate being forced to learn French. This segment felt like it would work well at a local show, but on a show booked all across the world it's just time filler more than anything. I'm sure Vince thought it was hilarious. And that's what matters...to Vince.
(2014 Thoughts: The line about forgetting French is true. I did well in it through high school too, but I just didn't care enough to retain it.)
Jack Swagger d. Evan Bourne (*)
Similar to last week, Swagger beat him in about three minutes with the Gutwrench Powerbomb that badly needs a name. Call it the Swagger Bomb for all I care. Just give it a name. Would have been nice to see a longer match than three minutes, but this is Raw, so it's what we expect by this point. I'm fine with the victory because Swagger's my boy and they need to build up heels on this show other than Orton.
Post match, MVP came out, mocked him a bit by making fun of the lisp and challenging him to a match. Swagger said next week, so MVP shoved him. What I like about Swagger are the little things like checking to see if his teeth are alright because his teeth are annoying to fans. Little things like that matter, ya know?
(2014 Thoughts: The Swagger Bomb would have worked except that they used it for his splash out of the corner, so they never gave him a name for the Gutwrench Powerbomb he does. I like Swagger, Bourne and MVP. It was fine to see them feuding although it really didn't elevate any of them since WWE has a tough time of having people winning feuds in a decisive manner.)
Cue the comedy with HHH looking for Michaels. I love how nobody in the restaurant reacts to HHH there. He sees this dude in a ponytail, thinks it's Michaels and it turns out to be a gay guy that gets off at 7. "I'm sure you do," oh the crafty Game is back. So much more enjoyable than the "you beat up my family so now I have to beat you up" guy that we've seen for like five months. Shawn's the chef at the restaurant getting yelled at by the daughter of some rich guy as he's ready to go nuts because she's annoying. HHH bumps into him and Shawn just walks to the back of the restaurant meaning there's more to come. I love Michaels' comedy segments for his facial expressions, but this one wasn't great. It would get better, though.
(2014 Thoughts: The gay joke was terrible, but that's HHH humor to have a guy say that he "gets off" and then just don't react to it because they same the fans will love it. Same with Vince. They love that stuff.)
Here's Sarge again to insult Canada. He pretends to bring out Celine Dion. God, I wish they did that. She'd get booed like she deserves. Instead we get Jillian, who of course sings God Bless American badly. More filler basically, and a waste of her talents. Once again I'm sure Vince thought it was hilarious. And that's what matters...to Vince.
(2014 Thoughts: I always liked Jillian. She had talent. However, she had to overcome the mole gimmick and the bad singing gimmick, so it was hard for her to ever get taken seriously. She did have a nice five year run, though.)
Contract on a Pole: Calgary Kid d. Eugene (1/2*)
Is it wrong that I laughed hysterically when Eugene tried reaching the top of the pole from the bottom rope? I'm easy to please, I guess. Calgary Kid was of course The Miz. I could tell after about 5 seconds. He won, then pronounced that he's awesome. I pronounce that this was terrible. I have no idea if they were planning to move him off Raw onto another show and they changed their mind or if this was just done to…uh…um…get Miz a win? I have no idea. Eugene was rumored to be on Smackdown. Not sure if that's happening. I hope it doesn't. I really don't miss the Eugene character although I'm happy for Nick Dinsmore that he's got his life in order.
(2014 Thoughts: It was just a lame angle that they did because they did a story that said Miz was banned from Raw. Every time WWE is in Calgary we can still make the "Calgary Kid" joke about whether or not he would appear.)
Big Show d. Randy Orton via countout (*1/4)
With the amount of pausing and staring that does combined with Show's lack of speed this was a very slow match. I do like the DDT off the ropes spot that Orton does and it worked here on Show too. Show came back with a chokeslam, then made sure to not hook the leg that was near the ropes and of course Orton made ropes. Show tried to punch him out, but Randy bailed for a countout win. They love the countout wins lately, huh? I don't know what this does to make the WWE Champion look good heading into Summerslam. I'd rather see something like Orton vs. Kingston in a competitive 10 minute match that Orton wins while allowing Kingston to look good. It would be much more effective than a boring, slow, plodding six minute match ending in a DQ.
(2014 Thoughts: I guess the DDT off the ropes spot was pretty new at this time since I mentioned it. Of course he does it in every match now. The countout finish sucks. Also they shouldn't try to do heel vs. heel especially with these two because they don't have good matches together.)
More "comedy" with HHH and Shawn. Michaels was good here even if the material wasn't. HHH said he needed him, Shawn said he didn't need it anymore and loved his job there, which of course meant somebody throwing food at him. Then a fire broke out again right on cue. Too bad Kane wasn't there moving his arms up and down causing the fire. Can he ignite fires only in a ring or does he have the talent in the kitchen? We may never know. Anyway, Michaels emerged with black marks on his face from the fire to tell HHH that he was willing to listen.
(2014 Thoughts: Michaels was always the funnier of the two to me. It was story progression to have Michaels say that he was willing to listen.)
MVP d. Chris Masters (*)
This was over in three minutes. Was Vince drunk when he booked MVP to actually win a match? You know how when you see a young wrestler you try to be positive about what they bring to the table. I don't see much in Masters. Has he improved since he debuted a few years ago? I don't see it. He just doesn't look very athletic in anything that he does. You need to be more than somebody with big muscles. It will only get you so far even with Vince's hard on for the dudes with big muscles.
Post match, Swagger came out to distract MVP, who was given the Masterlock and Swagger's finisher. That's fine. Building to a midcard match next week. I like it. Please give MVP and Swagger more than six minutes next week. Give them 12 minutes. Do the "guy laying on the floor so we have to go to commercial" spot. Let them tell a story. It would be even better if they did the match at Summerslam. They deserve it.
(2014 Thoughts: The thing with Masters is that he still wasn't improved at this point, but then he lost some muscle mass and he improved a lot. I was surprised when WWE cut him a few years ago. The MVP/Swagger feud was between two guys I liked, so I had high hopes for it. They really didn't make it into a high profile feud, though. It was average.)
I love how they're proud of Piven and Dr. Ken mentioning them on talk shows. I'm sure Vince feels it was a great show last week because nobody that works for him could tell him otherwise or else they may get fired. This is why they have celebrity guests. They think people talking about them on late night talk shows or even early morning shows is going to lead to more viewers. It won't.
(2014 Thoughts: Piven and Ken were terrible aside from a few brief moments. It was one of the worst Raw episodes ever.)
Time for the last "comedy" segment with HHH and HBK. Yes, a Summerfest reference! The manager yelling "Hickenbottom" at HBK was nice. Hunter: "Hickenbottom? What kind of a stupid name is that?" Shawn: "I had to protect my anonymity." I laughed at that one. I love how the manager had no idea who HHH was. That made me laugh even more because it was unintentionally hilarious. I guess he doesn't buy WWE PPVs with HHH main eventing either, which is what the recent PPV buys tell us. Shawn superkicked the manager and confirmed he was in while a random old lady dropped the "Suck It!" on the world. That's what she said. The whole thing ended with Shawn apparently superkicking (we never saw it, thankfully) the little girl that was whining to him. I wonder if the sponsors that pony up the money for a PG show liked that one. Then he quit the chef job. This was a much funnier segment than the first two because of Shawn.
I'm sure some hated these segments while others loved them. I liked Michaels in them and I thought HHH was okay. That's mostly because I think funny HHH is better than "Stone Cold" Triple H that's been boring the hell out of me on Raw since February. I'll take what I can get.
(2014 Thoughts: Those lines at the start were hilarious. Give them credit for that. Even though we didn't see Michaels actually superkick the little girl, it was in bad taste and WWE did get some heat for it. It's true that funny HHH is better than boring face HHH.)
The highlight for the show, for me, was the question on wwe.com asking who Sgt. Slaughter beat for the WWF/E title. The choices were Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan. If you typed "Sgt. Slaughter WWE Title" in Google not only can you get the answer within five seconds, but you can get it from WWE's own website in their history of the WWE title section here. Knowing that, it's amazing that 51% of the people didn't know the answer was the Ultimate Warrior. I guess this proves that most fans are idiots. Thanks for confirming it for us. Next week's question: What letter comes after the letter G? The choices are S, H, I and T.
(2014 Thoughts: That last question and answer is some of my finest work ever. It's what I thought about that segment, though. How can people not know that stuff? Weird.)
What would a show in Calgary be without a Bret Hart jab? Slaughter introduces us (he tries to anyway) to the best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be. Bret's music starts up and instead it's Hacksaw Jim Duggan. This would have been the perfect time for the Hart Legacy to come out and drop him with the Hart Attack finish. Instead, it didn't happen. Why? Because you guessed it folks…Vince thought it was hilarious. And that's what matters...to Vince. I really don't think the majority of fans are that pissed off about this sort of thing anymore. They should be used to it by now. It's cheap heel heat done in every city. Big deal. Speaking of Bret Hart, go read my review of Survivor Series 1997, then go get the Bret Hart DVD and read his book because they're both awesome.
(2014 Thoughts: Little did we know, but Bret Hart would make his Raw return after nearly 13 years about five month after this.)
Ted Dibiase & Cody Rhodes d. Markswoggle and Hornswoggle (*)
Hey, at least Chavo is spared this week. How do you put Legacy over strong heading into a huge match at Summerslam against two of the best ever? By having them get absolutely no offense in on Mark Henry and by pinning a midget. Wow. I can't wait for Michael Cole to talk about how Legacy is on a roll because they pinned Horny. Good times. I realize that the story is that Legacy are despicable because they pinned Hornswoggle, but isn't that what you're supposed to do in a match? From a booking standpoint, I can't believe Horny's winning streak is over! Damn you Kool-Aid man, you ruined everything! Fear not Horny fans, it was only a tag. His run as a dominant singles wrestler is still alive!
(2014 Thoughts: Henry sucked as a babyface and pairing him with Hornswoggle didn't help at all.)
Post match, Dibiase and Rhodes, after beating a midget, have two words about DX having the shortest comeback in WWE history: Too Bad. I'm sure it took the creative team a month to come up with that one. These two guys are one of the most generic looking heel tag teams I've ever seen. But hey, they sure showed that midget!
(2014 Thoughts: So lame. No wonder Rhodes and Dibiase didn't really take off in singles. Writing like that would prevent anybody from succeeding.)
Jericho talked to Josh. He sucked up to the Canadian fans by talking about how proud he was to be in Calgary since he trained there and used to live there. Then Show came in pissed about Orton, which led to Jericho ripping Calgary. Then Josh told him the camera was still rolling while Jericho appeared to regret his comments. I guess this was their way of making Canadians boo Jericho. Didn't really work. We appreciate great wrestlers up here. We know better.
(2014 Thoughts: It was a clever idea.)
Smackdown this week has CM Punk vs. John Morrison. Great. Unlike anything on Raw, they'll have a long match.
Next week's guest host: Freddie Prinze Jr. Gee, I wonder how they got him. For those that don't know, he worked on the WWE creative team for a few months earlier this year mostly because his acting career wasn't going that well. I don't know how relevant he is in today's pop culture since he hasn't done much lately, but at least he's a legit fan of the business. I wonder too how they'll book Orton next week since it's in his hometown of St. Louis.
(2014 Thoughts: It's not like Prinze was a big star. It just showed that since they had a WWE employee like Slaughter hosting and then a guy like Prinze who worked in WWE, they were struggling to find legit guest hosts for the show.)
Summerslam card rundown. I'll have a preview for it in next week's Raw Deal. I think in terms of in ring action it will be pretty good thanks to Punk vs. Hardy in a TLC match.
(2014 Thoughts: I was right in terms of mentioning Punk/Hardy as the highlight of that show.)
John Cena wrestled Chris Jericho to a no decision (**1/4)
Twenty minute match like I had hoped? No, they got seven. If I was being picky I'd use this space to say that while the tag champs are allowed on all three brands, aren't they only allowed to wrestle in tag matches? Ah screw it, it's Jericho. He should be on every show for being the best anyway. When the match started two hours into the show I knew it would be way rushed and it was. The crowd didn't boo Jericho much while being mixed towards Cena. Good job of showcasing Cena's power with that AA attempt only to have Jericho turn it into the Walls. I love Jericho's countering ability. I would have loved a Sharpshooter here. Cena went for the STF and that brought in Orton. Post match saw a lot of finishers. Jericho hit his on Cena, Orton knocked him out and Show chokeslammed Randy. This led to Slaughter coming out to make Jerishow vs. Cena/Orton or Team Facial Expression. Then after that, Orton hit a RKO on Jericho while Cena had him up for the AA. Then they stared some more because that's what they love to do.
(2014 Thoughts: It's such a shame that they didn't time the show better to give Cena/Jericho more time. The no decision ending was predictable too.)
If Slaughter can make one match for next week, why not make them all? Isn't that impeding on Freddie Prinze's turf? I guess it doesn't matter.
(2014 Thoughts: That's a fair point, right? A guest host shouldn't be able to make matches at other shows because it was a week to week thing. I understand if they did it for PPV matches once in a while, but not for the show the next week. Lame storytelling in effect right there.)
Three Stars of the Show
1. Chris Jericho – Yep. Again.
2. Gail Kim – She was on fire in that match.
3. Whoever came up with Dibiase & Rhodes saying "Too Bad" in response to DX coming back – Genius, I say!
Rating: 5 (out of 10)
Last week: 2.5
(2014 Thoughts: That last star was very sarcastic in case you couldn't tell.)
It wasn't a great show even for Raw's low standards, but they are slowly heading in the right direction. The focus of the show was on the big matches for Summerslam, which is what it should be. Instead of being ruined by a guest host (Piven and Dr. Ken) or having the show stolen by the guest host (Shaquille O'Neal), the focus was on the actual WWE performers. The Slaughter segments were lame in the sense that they were designed for cheap local heat that doesn't really resonate across the world.
I'm still pissed they ended Hornswoggle's winning streak. That's just wrong on so many levels. I need a minute to control my tears here.
I liked seeing the development of Swagger vs. MVP, the women's match had a lot of effort, Cena/Jericho was good although it should have been given way more time and Michaels was funny for most of the segments, especially the third one.
I don't feel like going over the bad parts again because by this point you know. I'm trying to be positive and point out that at least some effort was made to make the younger wrestlers look good, which will hopefully lead to good things down the road.
(2014 Thoughts: There was some decent booking, but Raw still had a long way to go before I could consider it good. That 5/10 rating is probably generous on my part. I'm like that sometimes.)
Please let me know what you think via the comment box below or contact me using any of the methods you see here.
John Canton - firstname.lastname@example.org