It's time for another edition of the retro Raw Deal. 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 in a few weeks.
Welcome to the Raw Deal. I'm sticking to the basics this week. We'll have the rundown of what was not a good Raw including some extended final thoughts by me as I vent a little bit. I should note too that it's very likely that I will have a rare Smackdown review on Saturday because I want to see and write about the Punk vs. Hardy World Title match there. Plus, it will help me wash out the stench that was this show.
(2014 Thoughts: I did end up writing about Smackdown that week and did that for about four months, but life got too busy.)
Live from Mohegan Sun (Uncasville), Connecticut here's the Raw Deal…
This week's celebrity GM…Jeremy Piven
I like Piven on Entourage. The show isn't as good as it was in earlier seasons, but his character Ari Gold is tremendous largely because he plays it so over the top. He's got Dr. Ken, an Asian American comedian, with him. He was in the Hangover and also Knocked Up, where he was tremendous as the doctor. Piven comes out basically as the actor that he is while Ken is content in playing this over the top hip hop loving character that looks funny for about two seconds until it looks bad. They should have started playing the "Kung Fu Naki" song just for fun. Nobody would know.
This segment was awful. I tried to like it. I really did. They tried being funny. It didn't really work. When Miz came out, Dr. Ken interrupted his words the way a kid in kindergarten might behave. Miz wants Cena because I guess he wants another loss, so Cena comes out. He mentions Piven's movie "The Goods" a half dozen times or so while pointing out that we've seen it before. Of course we have. This is Raw. We see the same shit all the time, sometimes for years. The "creative" booking sees Cena vs. Miz being a lumberjack match. Wow. Then we learn that Miz would be banned from "Summerfest" if he loses, which Piven corrected as Summerslam. Give Piven credit because he quickly recovered and made fun of himself for screwing up. That's admirable. Then we learn that if Miz loses he is banned from Raw "forever." That basically means he's off Raw until they have a three hour show and he's wrestling on it because he's a top guy on Smackdown. That's forever. This took what, 12 minutes or so? Felt like 40. As much as I like Dr. Ken in his other work, he was over the top to the point that it was annoying. I really don't think they have to open Raw with the guest host talking for this long every week. Can we get something different for a change?
(2014 Thoughts: Clearly Piven had no idea what he was doing and is not a wrestling fan because the Summerfest line was a huge mistake. People made fun of him for it then. Wrestling fans still joke about "Summerfest" today too. This was a really bad opening segment from two actors that didn't seem to give a damn. You could tell from watching them. They also set up a Cena/Miz match that wasn't fresh or new since they feuded for months.
The other notable thing from Piven is that he got to join the club of wrestling guys that hooked up with Kelly Kelly. They were at a NFL game together and then photographed looking friendly outside of a hotel the next morning too. It probably made him feel like one of the boys. Congrats to him.)
Jack Swagger d. Evan Bourne (*)
They showed a clip of last week with Bourne winning. I thought, "Hmmm, maybe they changed the booking style on Raw and we'll get a nice 12 minute match from them." Nope. Swagger won clean in 3 minutes with Bourne getting little to no offense. I'm alright with Swagger looking dominant because I like him a lot, but I'm also of the belief that the best way you can get these guys over is by putting them in actual matches. Post match, Swagger continued the assault and MVP made the save. Cole mentioned the history between them. What history? They did the one promo, then they had a match and it ended. It was a brief feud. Notice the crowd chanting for MVP even though he's the second worst booked character on Raw (after Chavo)? Good crowd.
(2014 Thoughts: That was typical WWE booking. Bourne beat Swagger and then he lost clean to him. Nobody gets over that way. My point about MVP being one of the most poorly booked characters was true too. No doubt about it.)
This week on Smackdown: Jeff Hardy vs. CM Punk for the World Title. I'm excited for it. I'm going to try to avoid spoilers. It's very likely that I'll be doing a Smackdown review that will be posted on Saturday, so look out for that. Speaking of Smackdown, why don't they have a video package showing what happened on the show last week? They actually have matches and good main event angles on there. Maybe you should do that instead of plugging a movie that's likely going to be bomb.
(2014 Thoughts: Smackdown was so much better than Raw in 2009. I don't know who to thank for that, but whoever it is you are awesome. Of course that ended probably because WWE didn't like the "B" show being better than the "A" show for reasons that escape me considering it's the same company. But that's WWE. Heyman said it on his DVD. They will always prefer Raw.)
Video package showing Shaq as GM from the week before. Even though I loved Shaq as GM last week, this was longer than the Swagger/Bourne match and was treated like the greatest thing ever by the idiotic announcers. Maybe they have Shaq signed to appear at ringside at Summerslam. If you do then feel free to promote the guy, but if you don't then what's the point?
(2014 Thoughts: Shaq had nothing to do with SummerSlam. They just wanted to put it over again because it was a fun show, which it was. It also got WWE some mainstream attention.)
Piven and Ken made fun of Big Show, who happened to be standing right behind Ken. Not as funny as they intended. He was humiliated, so he wanted to fight Piven. He said no, you get Kofi Kingston and a chance to become US champion. He was fine with that.
(2014 Thoughts: No memory of this at all.)
Beth Phoenix & Jillian Hall d. Mickie James & Gail Kim (*)
Mickie and Gail came out, then they went to commercial. Then they went to a clip of The Goods that wasn't very funny. This movie is not going to do that well. How long were Gail and Mickie in the ring doing nothing? Four minutes? Five? Lucky for the fans at ringside who were checking out their asses. As for the match, remember the tension with Mickie and Gail that might have existed last week? Not even mentioned this week. Beth won for her team by pinning Gail clean. I'd prefer Mickie to turn heel, but I guess they're heading towards Mickie vs. Beth again. Does it even matter when a division has only eight or nine people? Not really.
(2014 Thoughts: Since they didn't want to turn Mickie heel they probably should have turned Gail. It would have given her something to do instead of being a babyface that had no direction. Anyway, it was a typical match where the team with the champion - Mickie - was on the losing end to set up another match down the road.)
There's HHH walking to the ring. Damn, nobody hit him in the knee in an unintentionally funny moment like last week.
Ted Dibiase & Cody Rhodes d. Triple H (**)
You know what happened to me during this match? As soon as HHH's entrance hit I felt groggy. Then, when HHH beat the heels up so that they could do the "lay on the floor so that the announcers can throw it a commercial" spot, I literally fell asleep for a few minutes. I wasn't even tired. I wasn't drunk. I just plain fell asleep. I did manage to wake up, make a snack and have a few drinks to keep me awake for the rest of the show. Maybe I should have stayed asleep, huh? Anyway, I managed to catch the very end. You know when Dibiase ran in illegally and hit his finisher with the ref watching the whole thing, isn't that cause for disqualification? I mean, isn't that the point of the rule that is enforced sometimes? Then shockingly, Rhodes actually had a finisher too. I was stunned by that. I didn't know he could actually win a match with a finishing move. The Cross Rhodes is the name apparently. I've seen that move a lot in WWE used by various people and it's never gotten over. I don't see that changing a whole heckuva (TM John Madden) lot. The idea that this win put Legacy over HHH makes me chuckle. Nobody believes in them as threats. Two guys beat one. Yes, HHH almost never loses and Legacy almost never wins, so having them win a 2 on 1 handicap match isn't going to make people say, "wow these guys are great." Two guys beat one. Lose a one on one match. Lose even a regular tag match. Plus, when they have a regular match with HHH and Michaels we all know who is winning, so this thing that happened here will be rendered meaningless at Summerfest.
(2014 Thoughts: That was quite the rant huh? I really hated babyface Triple H. Anyway, this was done to set up Shawn Michaels return to team up with Triple H again and go against these two younger wrestlers.)
Post match, HHH had to cover his ass by not putting over Legacy. He basically laughed at them saying "ow ow ow" on the microphone in a joking manner. Then he said maybe he'll re-form Evolution, but Randy's a jerk, Batista's always hurt and Ric's signing autographs at VFW. Good for Ric. Better than being on this trainwreck every week. Then he said he'd make one phone call and if you're not down with that he's got two words for you. The announcers made no mention of Shawn Michaels like it would be a surprise if it happened now. They just acted as if they didn't know who he would make the phone call to.
(2014 Thoughts: Way to put them over, Triple H. That's what I mean. He didn't seem to care about making them look like stars.)
More backstage with Piven, Ken and Chavo talking. This was brutal. Who did Chavo piss off to become the worst booked performer in WWE? Is it all because they're mad that Vickie quit? What a shame. I wish I stayed asleep by this point. The worst part is Chavo was excited about the idea of wrestling Hornswoggle FOR THE FIFTH FUCKING TIME!
(2014 Thoughts: Look at that anger from me. It was justified. Trust me.)
Carlito d. Primo (*1/4)
I still don't understand why the team was broken up. They receive no promo time. No backstage segments. No time between the breakup and these matches. Why is everything so rushed? You hear how dead the crowd was? It's because this has been terribly booked. Carlito's inherited Randy Orton's "I'm a heel now so I better look constipated all the time" face now while Primo's all energetic despite the fact that his brother beat the crap out of him on more than one occasion. The crowd woke up a bit when Primo got some offense in, but that quickly ended with Carlito scoring the win with the Backstabber for the win. Is that the end of this already? Probably. Who knows anymore? They team up for months, they capture the "coveted" unified tag titles, they break up before they should and then it's all settled in a three minute match on one of the worst WWE TV shows of the year. And you wonder why people are frustrated in the product? This entire relationship sums it up.
(2014 Thoughts: The breakup didn't help either guy. This was considered their big blowoff match and neither guy had any success in singles after it was over. Lame booking.
ECW this week has Christian defending the worthless title against Dreamer in an Extreme Rules match. That’s nice. Move Christian to Smackdown, please. Keep him away from Raw. He's too good for it.
(2014 Thoughts: I stand by that opinion.)
Markswoggle d. Chavo Guerrero (DUD)
What a swerve. Horny's sick, so Markswoggle takes his place. I'm sure Vince came up with that idea and the dozen or so writers that are paid to kiss his ass told him it was a great idea. I don't know what makes me feel stupider: Having watched this match or typing out Markswoggle? You decide. Post squashing, the little man beat up Chavo again. Hey, at least this was better than seeing Mark Henry wrestle for almost 7 minutes like last week. I can deal with him in one minute matches. Oh wait, Mark Henry just did the "click the heels" thing. I never need to see that again. Please.
(2014 Thoughts: Hornswoggle vs. Chavo is seriously one of the worst feuds ever. Mark Henry also sucked as a babyface. Always better as a heel.)
More backstage with Piven and Ken this time with Orton. He's never allowed to be serious or smile, so this didn't work very well. Next.
We learn that 83% of the fans that voted on wwe.com think Shaquille O'Neal can beat Big Show. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon is hoping Shaq works a match for him down the road. I still think it happens after he retires, but that's another two or three years away. Pay him $5 million to work a WrestleMania, Vince. He's worth it.
(2014 Thoughts: It's been five years since this show and Shaq retired a few years back. Still no match with WWE. No idea if it was ever seriously discussed either.)
Kofi Kingston d. Big Show via DQ (*)
This was good only for Jericho's work at the announce table. One thing about Show is that he is willing to bump for the shorter guys and make them look good. He did make Kofi look impressive here for a brief period. The problem is this does nothing to improve Kofi's stock or Show's either. Kofi winning by DQ just means that Show refused to stop beating the crap out of the guy. It doesn't mean Kofi's better or that he's ready to move on to the next challenger. It just means that they don't know how to properly book somebody to win a match and look good. Can Kingston have a real feud? I'll take Kingston against Swagger. That will be fine.
(2014 Thoughts: More frustration by me because even when we get a math it is booked terribly.)
Backstage, apparently Triple H makes phone calls in his wrestling gear while talking on landline phones. I guess he can't afford a cell phone. At least he's got a camera on him making a call. That's realistic. The person he calls isn't watching Raw. We have to assume it's Shawn Michaels of course, so my admiration of HBK goes up a bit more for not watching the show. "I thought you didn't do jobs." Yes, way to reference HBK's selfishness from 1997. I'm sure that went over the heads of most of the fans. Of course the announcers can't say HBK's name.
(2014 Thoughts: Seriously, it was 2009 and he wasn't using a cell phone for this. Way to be current, WWE.)
Next week's GM: Sergeant Slaughter. I love how they have the American flag flying in the background for him despite the fact that the show's in Calgary. Maybe he should bring the flag and be a heel GM for a night. That would be a nice change. I'm fine with ex-wrestlers as GM. The show doesn't have to be about them, which is the way it should be.
(2014 Thoughts: Obviously they couldn't get a celebrity for that one so they just went with Slaughter since he worked for WWE. Way to reach for that one, fellas.)
Lumberjack Match: John Cena d. The Miz (*)
In a swerve, Jeremy Piven admits to being a huge Randy Orton fan, so he let Randy pick the lumberjacks. They are all heel wrestlers. What's funny is Chavo Guerrero is one of them even though 20 minutes ago he was put in a match against the Kool-Aid man, yet everything's cool now apparently. Great storytelling. The match was boring because they don't let Miz do anything to Cena. Masters put him in the Masterlock, Cena still looked strong in the ring. Legacy beat him up, but Cena still looked strong. He ducked a cane shot, then hit Miz with the FU and that was it after five minutes. Just like that Miz is off Raw. That's fine. Move him to Smackdown where he'll actually get to compete in matches and not get squashed every week. Great long term planning, Vince. Real organized. As soon as the match was over, nobody mentioned Miz again.
(2014 Thoughts: Of course Miz wasn't really off Raw after this because stipulations never seem to matter. Even with all heels around the ring, Cena looked like Superman and won easily. That's nothing new.)
Post match, Cena beat up all the bad guys by himself and Piven came at him with a cross body. He used his body to attack some more heels. Ken hit him with a cane, Cena no sold it and tossed him onto some midcard heels who didn't catch him very well. It looked like he hit his head pretty bad on the ground. Way to go, wrestlers. The show ended with Cena and Orton staring lovingly in eachother's eyes. Oh wait, they were going for intensity. It's hard to know that since they barely interact or do anything to make you think there's dislike there.
(2014 Thoughts: I do remember that ending just because of Ken hitting his head.)
That was a terrible ending to a horrific show. I think the ending was worse than the beginning, but that's up for debate. Neither one was very good.
Three Stars of the Show
1. Chris Jericho – He's too good to be on this show.
2. Kofi Kingston – He hit a nice legdrop.
3. Kool-Aid – Seeing Mark Henry in that outfit made me remember the greatness of Kool-Aid. I will buy some tonight.
Rating: 2.5 (out of 10)
Last week: 5.5
(2014 Thoughts: I think that's my lowest score ever. I don't think I've ever given it a 2 out of 10.)
I think that's the lowest score in the nearly three months that I've been doing this. By the way, three months equals seven months in WWE Universe.
What can I say, really? I feel like sharing a story here. Ten years ago I was getting off a bus heading to work. I was at a stoplight. The light was red. On the other side of the street, this dude decided to jaywalk. What he didn't see was this car coming out from behind another bus right into him. It was going at least 80km/h, the jaywalker went flying and died instantly. I had to stick around as a witness to explain it to the cops. I didn't know what to say or how to say it. I was stunned. I hope to God I never have to see anything like that again in my life. This edition of Raw was the wrestling equivalent of that horrible event to me. A horrible accident that I wish I didn't have to witness.
Raw absolutely sucks right now. I don't want to say it's "as bad as ever" because I remember the Katie Vick angle, I remember how bad HHH vs. Steiner was and it's not as bad as those things. However, it is bad.
Nobody working in WWE can watch this show and honestly say it's a good product. It's not. I just hope somebody within that company has the testicular fortitude to tell Vince McMahon. If they don't, give me his email address. I'll write him an email. I'll call him. I'll fly to Connecticut if he wants me to tell him to his face. This show is bad. It shouldn't be bad, but it is. Smackdown's usually very good, ECW is okay, Superstars is a good showcase for younger talent and Raw is just downright brutal. It's not an issue of talent. It's the booking philosophy. Please change it. Don't make me stop watching because I'm a lifelong fan that has stuck with this company through the good times and bad. I want to continue being a fan, but if this crap continues what choice do I have?
Summerfest, or Summerslam if you want to call it that, is coming up in a couple of weeks. I can't wait for Show vs. Shaq and Piven & Ken vs. Cena. Feel the excitement! Oh wait, neither of those is actually happening. Way to promote the "biggest party of the summer" Vinny Mac.
(2014 Thoughts: I have nothing insightful to add to any of that except that I was really frustrated with Raw at this point. It's not like it got better anytime soon either. It took a couple of years actually.)
I'm leaving out that parts with the Facebook comments from five years ago. It was fun back then, but no point in re-posting that five years later. The show is enough. 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