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 next PPV was called Night of Champions on July 26, so this was the go home show before that event. Let's get to it.
Welcome to the Raw Deal. I’ll start with the rundown of Raw this week like usual, and then I’ll do a quick preview of Night of Champions because I’ve decided to stop doing my PPV preview columns. I figure it’ll just be easier to do it this way every week and then if I find the time I can write something else towards the end of the week.
(2014 Thoughts: Quitting writing PPV preview columns? That didn't last! I remember I stopped doing them, but then people kept asking me to bring them back so I did.)
Live from Raleigh, North Carolina here's the Raw Deal…
Talking with Cena, Hunter and Legacy
Here comes Cena the hype man to start us off. He’s fine in this role until he starts saying things like the match this Sunday is going to be the greatest ever. It’s nice to think that, but nobody at home believes it. Then Orton came out because the voices in his head told him to. They had a little debate. When Cena, then Orton, said that they wrestled two years ago at WrestleMania it had me scratching my head. I didn’t realize that a match from March 30, 2008 is two years ago. It’s 2009, last I checked, which would mean 2008 was one year ago. I’m assuming that since two people said that it was in the script. That’s just sloppy. Anyway, the predictable 3 on 1 beatdown was about to happen when HHH came out. There was some comedy, some of which missed pretty badly. It’s not that Cena or HHH lack a sense of humor. Both of them can be very funny. We’ve seen that from each guy many times over the years. It’s just that the writing is just awful for some of this stuff. In Cena’s case, sometimes he needs to tone it down a bit. I guess what I’m saying is I can understand why some people hate the guy because he does come off as obnoxious sometimes. Eventually the HHH/Cena vs. Legacy match turned into the same match with Orton involved. So basically they did the exact same main event as last week except with no Seth Green, the hobbit, this time. Wow, that’s creative.
(2014 Thoughts: Wow you can see how angry I was about this segment. All that complaining about the writing and the lack of creativity with the main event. It's true, though. A week earlier it was Cena/HHH/Green vs. Legacy and this week they did the same thing without Green. So it's like Seth Green was a factor in the match the previous week? Come on! So stupid. No wonder fans are so sick of Cena, Orton and Hunter.)
It’s funny because as I was chatting with somebody on Facebook earlier in the day he asked me what I thought Raw’s main event would be and I said HHH & Cena vs. Orton, Dibiase & Rhodes without any knowledge that it would actually happen. I almost feel bad that I was right because it’s too damn predictable.
(2014 Thoughts: I don't remember the convo, but sounds about right. That's why 2009 Raw wasn't great. It was so predictable.)
There’s ZZ Top with Santino backstage because they had no faith in having ZZ Top in front of the live crowd. It was smart of WWE to do pre-tapes. On the other hand, if this is the best they could do then they should have re-considered things. You could tell that ZZ Top wasn’t actually playing any of their songs during any of their segments. Came off as very bush league and didn’t have me excited about anything going forward. I have to admit that I do get a kick out of how Santino said ZZ Top’s name as well as how he says Triple H.
(2014 Thoughts: I'm not going to seek out the video. I just remember that ZZ Top was really bad at hosting. What was the point?)
Primo, Kofi Kingston & MVP d. Big Show, Jack Swagger & Carlito (**1/4)
This was alright. I like six man tag team matches featuring people that don’t wrestle every week (like in the main event) because they come off as fresh on a show that doesn’t usually have fresh stuff on it. As usual, a talent like MVP comes off as just another guy, which continues to be ridiculous to me. I don’t blame the fans for not giving a shit about the guy when the bookers care even less about him. The best part of the match was Primo’s hot tag. This is why the Colon brothers should not have broken up. Primo’s energy is phenomenal when he gets the tag. You can hear the crowd actually giving a shit when he’s doing his stuff. I liked how the finish was booked with Big Show accidentally spearing Carlito, Kofi taking Show out to the floor and then Primo hitting a springboard headbutt (I remember who used to do a headbutt) to pin his brother. By the way, the only person in this match that’s not in the US Title match on Sunday got the pinfall here. Weird. I wonder if they’ll even have a singles match with the Colon brothers or if it will just end there as both of them float into the sea of midcard hell. Post match, Show beat everybody up because for some reason they feel the need to remind everybody every week that he’s bigger than the others. Thanks. He’s only been wrestling on television for over a decade now. I didn’t know.
(2014 Thoughts: This was the Raw midcard scene five years ago. It really wasn't that strong of a group although they were trying to elevate some of these guys at the time. If you're wondering about the Colon brothers, they really didn't do much with either guy. Breaking them up hurt both guys substantially. How about that random Benoit reference? Odd.)
They sent Jericho backstage to talk to ZZ Top. Even his greatness couldn’t save these awful segments. They didn’t know who Fozzy was, which I guess was an attempt at comedy. They told him to wrestle Mark Henry. That led to Jericho asking “How” he should do that, which then led to them playing “Sharp Dressed Man” with what essentially were air guitars. This was terrible. I’m sorry to the ZZ Top fans out there, but holy shit was this bad. What’s sad is that people on the writing team wrote this segment and probably thought it was clever. Or at least convinced crazy Vince it was clever. It wasn’t.
(2014 Thoughts: When Jericho can't save us then it really is bad.)
Jerry Lawler d. Brian Kendrick (1/2*)
Kendrick was out at ringside wanting to be Jericho’s partner. They referenced Kendrick’s one year title run on Smackdown although they can’t mention Paul London’s name because he was foolish enough to think that Vince McMahon’s car blowing up back in the day was ridiculous. He was right, of course. Man, I wish I was writing about this show when that happened or last year when the set fell on Vince. Those are two of the greatest unintentionally funny things to ever happen on Raw. Anyway, Kendrick insulted Lawler for never having won a title in WWE, which led to Lawler naming himself the opponent of Kendrick. He won in about two minutes. Way to put the nearly 60 year old over a guy in the prime of his career. This came off as “we need to fill five minutes” and that’s exactly what it was. Filler. In Lawler’s defense, I love how he throws a punch.
(2014 Thoughts: This led to nothing. Kendrick had potential, but management could never get over the fact that he was a shorter guy. They weren't going to push him as anything more than a tag wrestler. As for the final point, it's very true that Lawler throws a great punch.)
My favorite diva Mickie James and her cleavage (hello girls!) were being interviewed by Josh Matthews on a stage in front of the crowd like they used to do with Mean Gene in the late 80s/early 90s. I felt nostalgic just seeing the set like that. ZZ Top are the greatest GMs ever for bringing that back. Or not. Anyway, Mickie called Maryse a “Trampion” which I guess is an insult if you’re 12 years old…or on the WWE writing team. Miz came out, said Maryse is glamorous unlike Mickie, who will be working at a waffle house in ten years. Mmmm waffles. Mickie said Miz is jealous because she’s pinned Maryse while Miz can’t score at all. Owned. Or is it pwned? I guess it’s either. Maryse came out, did a stare and then sprayed something into Mickie’s eyes. I think Mickie should wrestle with goggles on Sunday. Anyway, this was an effective segment because unlike everything else in WWE they’ve taken their time in building this match. If you don’t rush things people will give a shit. If you rush things nobody cares. It’s not hard to understand.
(2014 Thoughts: They really took their time with the feud. It went about two months before they did the title match. It wasn't the most interesting segment ever, but it got the job done. Miz had a storyline where he was trying to impress Maryse although he never seemed to be impressed by him even though they were dating in real life and got married earlier this year.)
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio on Smackdown this week. That’s much better than giving away Punk vs. Hardy for free like they had originally planned. I also hope there’s another Tricky Ricky segment on the show because they’re so bizarre especially with the announcers never acknowledging them or pointing out that it’s actually R-Truth doing it.
(2014 Thoughts: Tricky Ricky! Holy shit what a reference. They had R-Truth doing it for like a week or two and then it just went away.)
Mark Henry d. Chris Jericho via DQ (*1/4)
The question here was can anybody drag a good match out of Mark Henry? The answer is no. I’m so tired of this push already. I still don’t believe the crowd will give a shit about the guy if he works with somebody other Orton or Jericho. This was predictable with Jericho being unable to do anything on him, so he used a chair to get DQ’d. I guess we’re supposed to believe that Mark Henry is a badass now even though for 13 years in this company we’ve seen him lose more matches than he’s won sometimes in less than three minutes. Oh wait, there I go remembering the past again. Sorry Vince. I am cringing at the inevitable Henry vs. Big Show feud. You know it’s coming. You can’t stop it.
(2014 Thoughts: The constant pushes of Henry were done because WWE invested a lot of money in him. What they didn't realize at this point was that he sucked as a babyface. His heel push in 2011 was really good, though. I believe that one happened because he had just signed a new contract with the promise of a push.)
More “comedy” with ZZ Top as they put Chavo Guerrero in ANOTHER match with Hornswoggle, this time a Tuxedo Match, or in their case a Sharp Dressed Man match because that’s one of their songs.
(2014 Thoughts: The writing on this show is so bad. I mean really bad.)
Hornswoggle d. Chavo Guerrero in a Sharp Dressed Man Match (DUD)
The two Horny/Chavo matches before were so bad we needed more of it apparently. Chavo’s pant legs were tied together, so he had to waddle out there like a penguin. I know that every time I rip these Horny segments the same people email me saying “the kids like him” and I understand that. However, you don’t need to put him in matches. They should just keep him with Finlay or Goldust at ringside or even a tag match. It’s too insulting to us as viewers to have to watch these “matches” every week that aren’t even funny. This match made me really regret watching Raw “live” on Mondays. I might have to back to the PVR route again so I can fast forward through some of this stuff. It’s just that when I’m writing this column I want to be thorough in my reviews. I just don’t know if it’s worth the mental pain it brings me. Of course Horny won because I guess Chavo has to look like a fool since his aunt Vickie quit before the company had finished their storyline with her. I’m sure Eddie would be proud.
(2014 Thoughts: I think I suffered brain damage just reading through this awful segment. Brutal.)
Backstage, Cena and HHH said they can count on eachother tonight, but on Sunday it’ll be different. They agreed to take care of Orton and Legacy tonight without ever mentioning that they beat them already last week.
(2014 Thoughts: Oh Cena and Triple H, you're two of the least sympathetic babyfaces in wrestling history.)
More ZZ Top with Santino. This turned into their song “Legs” starting to play, various divas coming into the segment showing their legs off and then Santino showing off his legs. I guess we’re supposed to laugh at him acting like an idiot. ZZ Top took off, yet the camera stayed on Santino as the joke died a slow death. I’m sure Vince thought this was the funniest thing ever while doing his cackling laugh backstage. Note to Vince: It was terrible.
(2014 Thoughts: It's amazing that these awful segments were allowed to make TV.)
There’s Jericho walking backstage with pain on his face, as if he actually watched all these ZZ Top segments. Oh wait, that’s my face.
(2014 Thoughts: I'm interrupting a paragraph to say that may have been my best joke ever. I should have quit with this show while I was ahead.)
His face is in pain because of Mark Henry. Hey, I’m in pain from watching Mark Henry! High five! Anyway, Dibiase & Rhodes bump into him and they use the 12 year old putdown by saying their dad is cooler than Chris’ dad. Yes, because the way you stick it to a nearly 40 year old man with multiple world title reigns and millions of dollars in his bank account is by ripping on his dad’s NHL career from 25 years ago. That’ll show him! They say when they’re done with him they’ll get Orton to kick him in the head, which leads to Jericho saying maybe Orton is his partner. Oh, the intrigue. This was actually a good segment on a show full of bad ones. Good for them.
(2014 Thoughts: Orton was not the partner. It was Big Show, who wasn't even hinted at very much. Good job by WWE there.)
Next week’s host: Shaquille O’Neal. Awesome. One of my favorite athletes ever and a naturally funny guy, so it should be fun. Then again this writing team writes some pretty bad comedy. It could tarnish Shaq’s comedy. The good thing is he’s an actual legitimate star in today’s society that younger people will probably like seeing and it might create some buzz in the sports world.
(2014 Thoughts: Shaq was great at it, but we'll get to it next week.)
Rosa Mendes & Alicia Fox d. Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly for some reason (1/4*)
Why do they keep sticking Rosa out there on live television when she has proven on multiple occasions that she isn’t ready for it? It’s sloppy and somebody’s going to get hurt. Gail Kim’s probably the best female wrestler in the company even though they never know how to use her properly, Kelly’s very much improved, Alicia’s improving quickly and Rosa comes off like a skinny model trying to do something her body isn’t trained to do. This came off as yet another filler match much like Kendrick/Lawler earlier in the show.
(2014 Thoughts: Five years later Rosa still has a job and I don't even know if she's improved that much. The match meant nothing.)
We got a plug for ZZ Top as they came out into the arena finally to salute the crowd, who by this point probably hated them. I should use this opportunity to say that the announcers on this show were awful. For every one of the ZZ Top/Santino segments the crowd wasn’t laughing. Then they would cut back to the announcers as they busted out their fake laughs and acted as if they were watching something actually funny. They're told to do this by Vince, who was by far the worst announcer ever at doing the fake laugh, but that doesn't make it right.
(2014 Thoughts: I don't know if ZZ Top were the worst guest hosts ever, but they were in the conversation for sure.)
Triple H & John Cena d. Randy Orton, Cody Rhodes & Ted Dibiase (**1/4)
It was a pretty basic tag match similar to last week although there wasn’t Seth Green in there to punch somebody in the mouth. Triple H got beat up, Cena got the hot tag, cleaned house and scored the pinfall with a rollup because I guess they're saving the finishers for Sunday. Not a bad idea. Of course the match was tolerable because it followed the main event tag team formula that has worked for decades now, but like I said we saw it last week. Maybe they could have had ZZ Top "run" in and hit a flying beard splash for something different. See how creative I am? And I'm not even on drugs…like the WWE writing team probably is. Then again maybe they should be on drugs because at least people on drugs have creative minds.
(2014 Thoughts: Orton's team lost because he went over on Sunday. It's the "lose on TV, win on PPV" formula. I have nothing else to add to it except that I have had people on drugs tell me they love my stuff, so it was nice of me to put them over like that. You're welcome! Just don't overdose! Thank you.)
Three Stars of the Show
1. Anybody not in the ZZ Top segments – The sooner I forget about those segments, the better.
2. Chavo Guerrero - For putting up with the shit they make him go through week after week.
3. Chicks showing some leg - See how far I had to reach this week?
(2014 Thoughts: At least that first star will never be duplicated.)
Rating: 3 (out of 10)
Last week: 4.5
(2014 Thoughts: It probably could have been a 2 out of 10. So bad.)
I’m not sure if that’s the lowest score in the two months since I’ve started doing this, but it felt like the worst one I’ve reviewed in that time. I think giving it a 3 is too nice on my part. Terrible show. The six man tag and the main event were okay for TV matches, but they were nothing that anybody is going to remember in the future. It was just the same thing we always get. I respect ZZ Top as musicians, but the segments they were in were as bad as any segments they've had on WWE TV in years. I also wasn't a fan of the Lawler/Kendrick or divas tag matches. They were both time killers. There's a PPV on Sunday. You're supposed to use Raw to try to promote that. They used some of the show to promote it, but they could have done a lot more.
Thankfully Shawn Michaels will reportedly be back for Summerslam, which means he’ll be back on TV hopefully as soon as next week or one of the weeks after that.
(2014 Thoughts: Save us HBK! Please!)
Here are some random thoughts from some of my Facebook friends after I asked for some good things to say about the show:
"I am not really a Cena fan but the opening promo was very entertaining I thought. Reminded me of what DX would do."
"Um....Gail Kim looked like a wrestler."
"This was just as bad as the TNA PPV."
"The best part tonight was Big Show cleaning house, yet he won't get the U.S. belt."
"Carlito hit Kofi with a pretty good dropkick...that's about it"
"MVP was actually in a match. That's....um....something."
"Backstage segment with Jericho and Legacy was decent...that's about it."
"Jericho.....but wait a minute they let Mark Henry squash him again..... that's good for business lol."
"The best part about tonight is that it's over."
Well said. Next week we'll do the same thing.
(2014 Thoughts: This actually proved to be a popular feature that turned into something called Commentfest, which lasted for a couple of years until it got old. Fun while it lasted, though. I assure you it's not coming back.)
The rest of it was a PPV preview that doesn't need to be re-posted, so that's it for this week. The next one is longer since there was the Night of Champions PPV and thankfully the Raw that followed was better than this one.
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