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Thursday, 26 February 2009

Retro Mania - Wrestlemania 1

It’s March 31, 1985.

No, really it is. It’s the start of a Pay per View that has never been done before. And it’s the start of my Wrestlemania retro reviews. I’m going to try and get through all that I can. I tried to do this with Royal Rumbles last year and never quite got up to date. Hopefully I can cover all the Manias possible.

There may be two exceptions. I don’t have copies of Wrestlemania 22 or 23. Perhaps some kind soul will send a copy my way, who knows? J

I intend this to be a light hearted look back on the Wrestlemanias. I will be scating here and there, I will be complimentary here and there. The likelihood is that I will occasionally be harsh on the old fashioned way of producing television, but that isn’t the intention.

We kick off with an old fashioned soft rock tune and a stills montage of the wrestlers and personalities who will be involved before the first words of Wrestlemania are spoken “Welcome everyone, Gorilla Monsoon ringside with my colleague Jesse “the Body” Ventura.”

From time to time I miss Gorilla’s voice. He was such a lovable character and had such an inoffensive way about him. Jesse was an old scholl heel broadcaster that we would basically not see the likes of until JBL’s run on the Smackdown headsets. Jesse has a spectacularly garish Pink suit on. Ugh. Gorilla hands it over to the Fink.

It’s anthem time – and what a quiz question this would be. Who sung the anthem at the first Wrestlemania?

No, don’t know?

Mean. Gene. Okerland. No really, he did. I think he said “bums” and not “bombs” and even did a little “everybody” before the song kicks up a notch. Hideous singing, but lovely sentiment.

Jesse rates Mean Gene up there with Robert Goulet, he says. I think Goulet sung at Wrestlemania VI, didn’t he?

Over to the equally lovable but staggeringly rubbish Lord Alfred Hayes, who mumbles his words sufficiently to tell us that Tito Santana is wrestling The Executioner. The masked man walks past Alfred while he is talking, so no music here. You forget that things like that even existed.

Gene and Tito know nothing about The Executioner, who as I understand it was Playboy Buddy Rose under a hood. Standard wrestling would make you think the masked guy would be mysterious, but not only does he speak, but he tells Tito that he is going after his leg. Little mystique behind this guy.

Announcements with Fink. Weight unknown and from parts unknown. A little mystique back, there. Big cheer for Santana. He was a great guitarist. I love smooth, particularly.

This is actually a fun match. It’s not a classic but it’s not stupidly short, has some nice to-ing and fro-ing, and includes a nice spot where Tito propels Executioner over the ropes, and ends with the big forearm, which Bobby Heenan used to call “The Flying Jalapena” and then ends it with the figure four, which the announcers say is a message to Greg Valentine. I love how this is Wrestlemania, and it’s a build of a storyline!

Next is King Kong Bundy v SD Jones. Bundy looked shockingly like a clean shaven Big Show.

They hook up.......and it’s over. Shoulderblock, avalanche, splash, and that’s it. Bundy wins in about twenty seconds, although they announce it as nine. It wasn’t that quick.

When was the last time we had such a squash at Mania? Oh yeah, like last year, when Chavo lost to Kane.

The matches coming thick and fast. Steamboat is up next, and the rumoured inductee of this year’s Hall of Fame takes on.........Doink. Well, it’s Matt Borne, wrestling in that name, several years before he put the clown suit on. That’s the real Bourne Identity.

Tip for you when watching Doink. Borne was left handed, so when the clown is a southpaw, it’s Borne. After that, it’s other people, usually Ray Apollo.

Steamboat wins a reasonably slow one with a crossbody. Lots of headlocks and little wrestling. We have to wait a couple of Manias until Ricky Steamboat gets going.

David Sammartino is up next with his old man, the Living legend. His opponent, manager by Johhny Valiant, is Brutus Beefcake. I forget he was a heel back then. His contribution to the backstage interviews is to blow a raspberry. Classy, Ed, classy.

Brutus (or Bruti, as Gorilla nearly always called him) and David battle away at a reasonably slow pace, with Brutus really hamming it up, 1980s WWE style. Not a criticism at all, this was the way the wind was blowing.

A note on the commentary. It’s really, really in depth. Gorilla and Jesse talk tactics, call on their own experiences and even talk about how greasing your body clogs pores and stops your skin breathing! How I miss incisive commentating rather than Cole saying interchangeable “Diva of the Day” stuff and talking about “swashbuckling” or “leaping ability”.]

The match ends in a double DQ, thanks to Valiant slamming David on the floor, prompting Bruno to get involved. The fans don’t care, they are simply delighted to see Bruno get into the ring and throw a few punches and kicks. Father and son clear the ring, and the draw is called. This is easily the most the crowd have got into this so far, and it’s because Bruno was such a legend, especially in MSG.

Next up we have our first title match, and Lord Alfred talks up JYD, Junkyard Dog. “His charisma is second to none.” Don’t put yourself down, Alfy baby, you are a pretty charismatic dude, yourself.

JYD takes on Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, who has Jimmy Hart with him, for the Intercontinental title. JYD calls Jimmy Hart a weasel. Did they call Hart that before Heenan came along? Or was that a one-off?

We have some music, but by the sound of the DVD it wasn’t what I’m hearing now, because Fink’s voice sounds dubbed on. However, it’s the first entrance music of the event, so this tells you how highly thought of JYD was.

More of the crowd getting involved, and a very strange match ending. First Jimmy Hart shows you what a good antagonist he is, by riling the crowd, then delighting them but getting knocked to the ground by his own guy. Pretty hard landing, too. JYD takes control, to the audience’s delight, but Valentine gets a pin with his feet on the ropes.

Wait, here’s Tito. Santana tells the ref about the feet on the ropes, prompting the ref to restart the match. What? How the hell does he get to influence like that? The ref starts to count with The Hammer on the outside, and with Jimmy convincing his charge not to go back in the ring, gets counted out.

Of course, the title does not change hands, but the crowd go wild for the JYD win anyway. Odd stuff.

Next is tag action, with Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo (“Great Afflutes” according to Alfred) against the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. I love this act, and can watch them all day. Sheik gets his words muddled and calls Mr Okerland “Gene Mean” while Volkoff, the Russian (Lithuanian, I think, actually) speaks in Latin. Go figure.

The heels have Blassie with them, while the babyfaces have Captain Lou, who in his backstage interview appears to have been stabbed by matadors, judging by the things he has sticking out of his face. Bloody Santana throwing his weight around again, I bet.

Volkoff does his singing of the anthem to a chorus of boos. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Comrade Jillian Hall! That’s money right there.

The crowd go mad for the entrance of tag champs Rotundo and Windham, collectively the US Express. For some reason Finkel only announces Rotundo.

Back and forth tag action, which ends with Sheik levelling Windham with Blassie’s cane. New champs here, but no sign of Sherriff Santana demanding justice. That’s a shame.

The heels laugh in an evil manner before Blassie says he never had a cane – last time I heard someone deny something like that he got impeached – and Sheik talks more rubbish as per usual.

Big John Studd – along with Heenan, so the earlier ‘weasel’ wonderings get stranger – is out with $15,000 for Andre the Giant, as long as the Frenchman slams his adversary. If not, Giant has to retire.

Wait, now they are chanting ‘weasel’. Forget everything I’ve said.

Match, as you would expect with two barely mobile 400+ guys (although that’s a little unfair on Studd, who was in reasonable shape) is slow and methodical, with very little to write home about.

It ends with Andre slamming him opponent, netting him 15k and saving his career. Brilliantly, Andre doesn’t immediately celebrate, he simply turns and asks for the cash. He decides to distribute it with the fans, but it cut of by Heenan, who leaves with the bag full of money.

Backstage Andre says he doesn’t want to retire, which is fortunate given the stip. He wants to say more, but he gets cut off.

To Lord Alfred, who gets a smacker from the Fabulous Moolah and then Leilani Kai, signalling the ladies match. Mean Gene has the girls for a word, and Cyndi Lauper cuts best promo of the four.

Kai says something about coming back with her hand as victor. I think she meant ‘hand raised.’ She better come back with her hand, unless Sheik was a Minister of Justice for Iran and demands she have it cut off.

To the strains of Lauper’s hit “Girls just Wanna have fun” here’s Wendi Richter, and she was a huge star back then. This match was crucial in the build to Mania, what with the Rock’n’Wrestling cross promotioj with MTV. Or “Wrestling Rock” as Lord Alfred called it. Sorry to keep ragging on him, but as nice a guy as he may have been, the guy makes Adamle look like The Rock.

The match is awful, and they botch the ending when Kai’s cross body was supposed to be rolled through, but it looked terrible. Cyndi does the thumb-on-the-nose-and-waggle-your-fingers gesture that we all did when we were seven at Moolah, then it’s to the back for a word with Gene Mean, as I will call him from now on.

Cyndi says that she was keeping an eye on Moolah “I brought my towel, because she’s bigger than me”. I don’t know why that isn’t used in hardcore matches more often, the old towel trick.

Main event time, and local Baseball legend Billy Martin handling the ring announcing. He brings out guest timekeeper Liberace who kicks in time with some dancing girls for an eternity. Come on, get on with it. Why isn’t the ref stopping this?

The camera pans out – the ref is Pat Patterson. Question answered.

Guest enforcer time, and it’s some boxer fella. Forget his name.........

Just kidding, it’s the Greatest of All Time, Muhammed Ali, or Cassius Clay as he was in a former gimmick.

Bagpipes sound, and play Scotland the Brave for Canadian born Rowdy Roddy Piper, with Paul Orndorff in tow. Piper clearly loved all this. He was such a great heel. I hated watching Piper as a face, not because he wasn’t still good, but because he was such an awesome heel. Cowboy Bob Orton is with Piper and Orndorff.

“Real American” hits and it’s Hogan and Mr T with Jimmy Snuka seconding them. What follows is a masterclass in how to run a match will little wrestling and plenty of razzmatazz. It’s chaos. Ali gets in the ring and swings punches, Mr T does the odd slam and the announcers go mad as if he is the greatest wrestler they’ve ever seen, and everybody hams it up big style.

Most importantly, the crowd go nuts. The thing to notice is that this all feels like a huge deal, with the elusive ‘big fight’ feel, which is a phrase now almost dead thanks to Todd Grisham using it for Jack Swagger v Matt Hardy or other matches of such calibre.

Do you know, I’ve been trying to work out who TNA referee Shane Sewell looks like – it’s Orndorff. That’s been annoying me for weeks.

Heels get the upper hand as in most tag matches, but the big comeback is absent. The pop is reserved for Snuka cutting off Orton in the ring, but when the ref deals with Superfly, Orton, complete with his ubiquitous cast, ascends the ropes (err, Ali? Where are you?). He jumps off but strikes Orndorff inseatd of Hogan. Hulkster covers, and it’s over.

It’ll never be considered one of the great wrestling matches, but it is truly an iconic “Sports-Entertainment” moment. The spectacle was genuinely unique, and was so well-executed it started off a true legacy.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Raw Thoughts: February 23

· Really looking forward to this Raw. Solid show last week, did really good numbers, and this is built well for whether Triple H will show up, whether Koslov will show up, the HBK/JBL match and any progress with Cena, Jericho and co.
· Decent enough opening segment, to set up event which were to come. I thought it ran out of steam a bit when Cena tried to get too jokey after having a serious moment.
· Good call to make Vickie temporary GM. I like the idea that wrestlers should jump between shows with more freedom at this time of year to build momentum towards Mania.
· Did you see Big Show cough when he came through Edge’s pyro smoke? Nice touch, that.
· Orton turns up with Legacy in a flash car. Is it just me or is this the first time in years that Raw actually feels like something big. Like in the old days when Austin/McMahon and the attitude era ruled. We’ve started the show with Cena, Edge and Show. Three big names. Then Orton turns up and you are thinking about whether Triple H will show up in pursuit. Jericho to come, HBK/JBL to come, in a situation to do with Undertaker. Money in the bank qualifier. This feels legitimately like a big show, pardon the pun.
· Yeah, show the sights of downtown Nashville. Maybe show the headquarters of TNA, and say it’s home to J-E-Double F, haha, J-A-Double R E-Double T.
· Why is Roberts doing the announcing? I can’t stand that guy. He doesn’t speak like a real human, it scares me.
· “Every person that has won Money in the Bank has become World Champion.” Says Cole. No they haven’t. Kennedy didn’t. He got injured, lost the briefcase to Edge, who won the title.
· John Morrison hits a shooting star press from the apron to the outside – and it’s during the advert?!? Someone in this equation is an idiot – either Morrison for doing it at that point, and agent for booking it at that point, or a production guy for going to an ad at the wrong point or not telling the wrestlers.
· Not a bad triple threat. I didn’t care for the contrived nature of some of the spots, and unless they are doing something with Miz and Morrison splitting, I don’t really see why Punk couldn’t have just got a one-on-one victory, but it was serviceable, and credit should be given for letting the match go for a while. Not the usual Raw three-minute wonder.
· Hey Shawn, well done, you beat JBL. Your reward is to try and get a half-decent match out of Vlad Koslov. All the best, sir.
· I thought the video package about last year’s Wrestlemania was a build to bringing Jericho out to talk about Flair again. Disappointed not to see Jericho so far.
· Pointless, that. Knox annihilates Noble. This doesn’t help the likes of Kane or Knox. It just makes Noble look a chump. You are expecting him to last seconds, so if someone took, say, four minutes to beat Noble, you’d think this guy was useless, even though he won. And we don’t need someone to get slaughtered every week, because we already have Santino.
· That should have been a great segment between Jericho and Steamboat. Ricky started slow and got better in his promo, and his message ended up very strong. However, the live crowd in Nashville didn’t seem to embrace him. I don’t know if the demographic wasn’t old enough or educated in wrestling enough to remember him, but his reaction didn’t seem to be at the level it should have been.
· That Cena v Chavo match (“Match”) was a farce. It is ludicrous to do stuff like that. It helps no-one. It doesn’t elevate Cena, it doesn’t roll the story along. It just makes Chavo look like an idiot.
· A great show has stagnated during the two hours, generally. Orton and Trips need to pull out a big final seg to grip for next week.
· Well.....not bad. I’m glad Trips didn’t get to Orton, because it makes for much better programming if he can’t catch up to his quarry, but must instead take several weeks chasing him down, culminating at the big one.
· That ending is going to get a lot of stick, I can feel it, but I don’t think it was that bad. The Shane stuff was ludicrous, and the only reason this will get so much flak is because it comes off of those mistakes. Hunter chasing maniacally and Orton begging off is fine. Heels are allowed to do this. Orton needs to get at Hunter at some point in the next two weeks, with some sort of three on one attack, maybe even bloodying The Game. Then you have a couple of weeks where he gets Cody then Ted, but Orton escapes. I certainly wouldn’t have them wrestle each other in any manner. It will heighten the tension far more.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Raw Thoughts - Feb 17

· Practical explanation to the Edge as champ issue, and nice to see that he and John Cena have the chemistry they had previously. Loved Edge’s arrogant promo which riled the crowd in attendance, and I always like it when Cena plays humble, and does the opposite of the thing he was bemoaning –is courteous and deferential, then says “I’ll beat you next time”. I think that makes the man all the better babyface. If he just gets in the ring, shouts at Edge and hits him with a Fattitude Udjustment (not a typo) he is no better than the heels.
· Shane challeneges Randy to an ‘unsanctioned fight’? Ugh. Please say it ain’t so.
· Not sure I like the quick naming of Cryme Tyme and CM Punk as “CTP”. Highly unlikely Cole and Lawler would come up with that so quickly without being told to. And is it the right kind of link-up? Cole even mentioned Punk as Straightedge during the match, so should the allegedly clean cut fella be linking up with the petty criminals?
· I don’t like the fact that they only ever use the weaker of Roddy Piper’s theme music s – they must have the other one because they don’t cut it out of old DVDs – but very happy to see the Rowdy one back.
· There you go, what did I just say about Cena? That’s why Cena was nice to Edge and played the sensible babyface, because Jericho was going to cut the rug from under Piper. From Lawler’s comments I expect him t get involved at some point too.
· Piper’s promo was tremendous. It will be well-received online, although might not go over brilliantly with the targeted younger audience who won’t know who Mr T and Adrian Adonis were.
· I typically watch Raw on my Sky+ (That’s like TiVo to those in the States) and type while I watch. Sometimes these thoughts and sometimes other work I do. Right now, as I type, I’ve paused it, because I just sat open mouthed watching Piper. I was captivated by it. Beautifully pitched, and it made me realise something else.
· Although he obviously did a dastardly thing in kicking Piper’s leg out from under him and so forth, there is a prospect of turning Jericho babyface with this. I’m not recommending this, because it’s basically Orton, Edge and Jericho as major heels in the company (with JBL not far behind but not able to back it up with interesting wrestling) and that’s it. Jericho would be a babyface too many unless one or two men were to make the opposite transition. However, it they wanted to bring Jericho back as a face, the set up is there for Jericho to lose to a legend or narrowly beat one at Mania, and then realise his ills.
· Let’s book Noble v Santino for Mania. Winner leaves town.
· If JBL is going to arrive in the main arena in a limo, wouldn’t it be best if they don’t show him WALKING backstage?
· Nice to see HBK back and a nice little set-up for Wrestlemania. Taker v JBL made sense until Shawn’s music played. I’m not saying I want to see it, but I know that they are real-life friends, so it isn’t completely unlikely. The only thing I’d say from a business point of view is that I don’t see anyone buying the show for Taker v JBL, whereas I do with Shawn v Taker. I also don’t see anyone buying JBL as being able to beat Undertaker. It’s slightly more likely that Shawn could beat him. And what a great match that could be.
· Rey is out next, and I feel I ought to say something about him that I didn’t really say enough at No Way Out. I thought Rey was amazing in the chamber match. Regulars will know that I’m not really a big Mysterio fan, that much of his work is too contrived. But he was superb in the chamber, and he deserves huge credit for that. I suspect he will be the star of the Money in the Bank, too.
· Ugh, horrible ending to the Divas title match. The three-diva run-in was awkward, and then the cameras basically missed the finish. Weak, weak ending, and I feel really sorry for Beth and Melina, who were doing fine, and have had a bunch of really good matches before now.
· Wow, what to say about that final segment? So much by way of good stuff, so much also ruined. Some things ruined by poor acting, some by poor execution.
· Firstly, the fight, I suppose, did it’s job. It was basically a set up for Orton to punt Shane, but I’m not sure he should have had Legacy’s help to take Shane out, but we’ll allow it for now.
· I’m not crazy about the neck brace and screaming family member thing, because it is a bit uncomfortable, but it is a reasonably accepted part of wrestling, so again let’s allow it. Steph’s acting is so poor, I’m afraid. All her facials are too forced and exaggerated. (And by the way, this is not part of the usual Internet bashing of Steph. All those who hide behind a forum avatar and slag her off for her writing or what she is like don’t know the ins and outs of how backstage works – neither do I, for that matter. Also, most people I’ve spoken to who actually KNOW Stephanie generally comment about how nice she is. They hint that she is pretty ruthless, but most like her.)
· The RKO? Perfect. That was unexpected, to me, and Stephanie took it very well indeed. It might well have ended the show, I think. Going off air on that would have been a good hook. Will Orton get punished next week? For dramatic effect you could even have had Steph coming to and whispering to those coming to her aid “he never made it”. Speculation would then be about who “he” is. Of course we’d all know it was The Game, but we can play along sometimes.
· So I wouldn’t have had Triple H come running down to send Legacy scattering. I certainly wouldn’t have had him shaking his head like he was have an epileptic fit. More ridiculous over-acting, and frankly I expect better from Triple H. It just made it all really cartoony. Less is more in those situations.
· I just feel that you could have got two weeks of endings out of this situation. End Raw on Orton smashing Steph and doing his IED reaction. Triple H could then do his gallant hero bit the following week, giving a huge babyface moment to send the evil heel cowering. Much better Trips makes Orton recoil than Shane.
· One final point – proof that Steph cannot be an effective babyface. If you have the footage, go and watch the RKO again. Tell me that isn’t a huge cheer.

Monday, 16 February 2009

No Way Out - Live Blog

Good morning, good evening, good afternoon, wherever you are in the world, and welcome to my No Way Out ongoing blog.

Comments during my last effort, the Royal Rumble live notes, asked for a little more detail on who won matches and how, so I'll endeavour to do that. If you have any suggestions, questions, predictions, joke, observations or anything, feel free to contribute - robthegreen(@) is the email address to use.

Decent opening video, as it usually is. encapsulated what we needed to know - although if you didn't know and you are watching the show, whats up with you??

By the way, this will be the last live blog for about two months, because (whisper it) I'M GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA. Not really a whisper, that, was it? Anyway, yes, there will be no Mania live blog because I will be in Houston, Texas on that day. Sorry about that.

Actually, I'm not really sorry. I'm going to Mania, baby!

I was expecting 'diddly-dee' style Irish fiddles and pennywhistles to open this show. Not an ominous BONG! The only person who would have expected this night to start with a bong would have been RVD.

Chamber to start, then, and the match I had pegged for main event is on first. So, will this point to the Raw chamber having a shocking twist and not be Cena emerging victorious? Or maybe Orton and Shane on last with something major happening there?

Don't forget at this event last year Floyd Mayweather turned up and clocked Big Show. No-one expected that at all.

Speaking of Big Show, here he comes, and my attention turns to whether my fantasy booking of this one works out. I'm bound to get something wrong,because I said Taker and Trips would start, I think. Oh well.

No time for an attack on Jeff before this match, either. Maybe Matt will show up during it?

Jeff and Edge to start then. Hardy survives the opening pyro, which is a bonus. Interesting to see that Jeff starts, so perhaps can use the excuse that he got punished throughout, where others didn't wrestle as long, if he doesn't win the match.

Also interesting to see that Edge, who you might feel (I certainly did) might be set to enter late and play up using his stroke with the GM.

Presumably they've asked the two more mobile workers to last the duration and have the rest make impacts in snatches. I don't expect Koslov to last long.

Damn! Do you think Edge has failed a wellness policy test or something? A fast start, including an early Twist of Fate and failed Swanton by Jeff set Edge for a spear. Hardy countered it into a cool looking small package and pinned him. Edge is gone.

Some might call this short-sighted. Right now I call it shocking, and a moment I genuinely gasped at. We're going to have a new champion.

Koslov is next.

I make it another minute or so before a new guys comes in. Koslov has dominated this section. Crowd are chanting for Undertaker.

Show comes in next with both Koslov and Hardy down. Show dominates Hardy, then Koslov is up, but the big guys work together. Pace has slowed to a walk from a blistering start. Triple H and Undertaker major, major favourites now.

Triple H is in. Just a small point about commentary. JR called the Harley Race Knee as he often does, but then went with the "Double A Spinebuster" when Hunter levelled The Big Show.

Not only did the move look awful because Show jumped into the Game's arms, but the whole point of the "Double A" reference in the spinebuster is that Arn Anderson used to turn through 180 degrees to hit the move. Triple H didn't. I know that's really picky, but I hate calls like that. JR is still the best, but I wish he a) wouldn't be so predictable and b) if he is going to be predictable, at least be accurate.

More action going on now, although the pace still isn't that quick. Perhaps because of Show. He does not look in good shape.

Taker in, and wow, what an entrance. Bursting to get out of his pod, straight into Big Show, and then a stiff kick for Koslov after the big Russian didn't go high enough for Snake Eyes. All Taker right now. I still think Trips will win, though.

And there goes Koslov, pinned by Undertaker. Sorry to be picky again, but I am often a critic of Undertaker's matches (not necessarily the man himself) because they are so formulaeic. When are his foes going to learn to not mount the ropes for the ten-punch in the corner, since it always ends in the last ride.

Show on top as I type, after stiff looking bumps by Triple H and Jeff Hardy on the steel outside the ring.

And there goes Big Show. Undertaker with a great superplex from the corner/pod, then a pedigree sets up Show in position for a Swanton by Jeff from the top of a pod, after he had logically ended up there. The second great spot of the match, and Triple H covers to eliminate Show.

Down to the three most likely contenders, really. Triple H is taking a beating, by the way.

I seem to remember this happening last year, actually, in the Smackdown chamber. It started real slow and plodding (ignore the Edge elimination for a second) before ending really well. We've just seen a great combination which got rid of Jeff Hardy.

Taker got crotched on the ropes trying an old school, with Jeff in the ring and Trips on the outside. Taker on all fours meant a springboard for Jeff to hit the od poetry in motion to the outside on The Game, but Jeff leaning back on the ropes meant Taker could flip him over and pedigree him. Awesome looking spot, and they've done well with Jeff, because he hasn't looked weak.

Anyway think he'll beat Matt at Mania then go to Raw? Hardy v Cena, Hardy v Orton, Hardy v HBK. All appetising contests and feuds. .

I was about to lessen the mark for this match (not that I grade them) for basically stealing last year's finish of Batista and Taker with UT using the ropes to roll into a Tombstone, but Trips got a foot on the ropes. Taker now kicks out of a Pedigree, and we are still going here. Crowd are very pro-Taker - first boos for Hunter in months.

It's over. Triple H wins and is champion once again. Step one of the plan to take Randy to Smackdown goes in, if you believe that particular theory. Triple H, the cerebral assassin, went with the aforementioned punches-in-the-corner-into-last-ride combo, but evaded the powerbomb and hit a second pedigree with Taker sold terrifically. Match over.

Nearly an hour for the segment of the first match, 35-40 mins being the bout itself. If the Raw chamber goes that long then the 5-match card is a great decision.

Correspondance to bring to you - Colin in Fife writes.....

Rob, how's it going mate? You're doing well already I see! Trips kicks out of a chokeslam, gets the leg up on a tombstone and Taker has just kicked out of a pedigree! Anyone would think you had inside info.....

Anyway, I'm wondering if I'll get to the end of this email before HHH gets the win??!!

Answer, Colin, not quite. Or at least it hit my inbox AFTER the bell.

No inside info, but I'd defer any praise since my 'crystal ball' booking took in the end of the match, but very little else.

Decent match. Not as good as I remember the ones last year, but then time can sometimes make things feel better. I enjoyed the end of that, and it was booked as logically as could be really. Some really nice spots and a shock elimination of Edge kept things lively.

Orton v Shane is next, so Raw will surely provide the main event with their Chamber. Big swerve? Mike Knox for champ? Rourke as guest ref?

KillaB365 writes

Rob, seriously, only 'decent'?? That was so good chamber match. What more could you ask for? Shock early champ elimination, kicking out of tombstones, swanton from the cell, sick bumping? That was an excellent match.

Ok, I'll upgrade 'decent' to 'good'. Maybe 'very good'. It was not 'excellent' to my mind, mainly because it had ten minutes of Koslov and Show plodding. If you break it into sections, the first was terrific. The second and third very boring, the four, after Trips entered, it picked up. The after Taker came in it was very, very good. The down periods brought it down, but I'm certainly not having a go at the match. I enjoyed it and am praising it.

Meanwhile, are you Brunzell or Blair? I gotta know......

Woah. Orton is busted open, and that's got to be hardway because the camera was on Orton the whole time as he got smashed in the head with a monitor while Shane was clearing the announce table.

However, Shane is withstanding a three man attack, in essence, because Cody and Ted have interjected. They stopped Shane going for the big elbow to the table he is famous for, but he fights them off by spinning a Cody chair shot intended for him into Ted, then hitting a DDT onto said chair and a coast to coast to Cody.

Missed the big elbow attempted now, though. A heavily bloody Orton avoids contact and goes to check on Cody. Tells Ted get Cody checked out. Which is odd considering the left side of his face looks like someone has tattooed a red forked lightning effect on it.

Match goes on.....

Ok, you've got two schools of thought here, and you can tell me at robthegreen(@) which one you belong too.

On one hand, the most dominant heel in the business, as of three weeks ago, needed help and about half an hour to beat a part time 38 year old greying son of the boss. Shane has nothing to lose, isn't going to be built for a title shot and become a future megastar. Orton could have beaten on him, alone, for 15 minutes straight then pinned him, and it simply makes him a bigger star. Shane can afford to be brushed aside whereas other babyfaces on the roster can't.

He didn't need to kick out of so many nearfalls, Orton didn't need to have help assist him, Shane didn't need to get so much offense in. A wasted opportunity.


What a great match. Forget the build to anywhere else, forget logical booking and enjoy the match for what it was, which was an incident packed, hard-hitting back and forth contest which ultimately had the right ending. And the spots - The monitor, the coast-to-coast, the missed elbow, several chair shots, the suplex through the table and a phenomenal looking RKO to round things off. If you replace Shane with, say, HBK, and watch it as a one-off, people would be talking about a match of the year candidate.

Which side do you fall on?

Grisham and Striker just reference Jack Swagger as the 'second youngest ECW champion' - anyone care to venture the youngest. I can't think of one.

Lots of mat wrestling in this one. Crowd are not heavily into it, but perhaps they need a break after two quite emotional and high octane matches. And they may have two to come.

Meanwhile, although I've suggestions of Lashley and John Morrison, I'm thinking maybe it'll be in the old ECW, so maybe Mikey Whipwreck?

Swagger takes it reasonably clean. The champion pushed Finlay into the ropes as Hornswoggle jumped onto the apron, knockng the leprechaun off. Swagger soon grabbed Finlay and hit his gutwrench powerbomb. Straight 3-count and the win. No sign of Christian. Very little mention of him, either, save from an early call from Striker and a "we want Christian" chant near the opening bell.

HBK v JBL next.

The bell rings and this "all or nothing" match is underway. Rebecca, Shawn's wife, is at ringside.

I have a way for Shawn to start saving money - stop your missus using fake tan. Rebecca is a shiny orange hue which is not natural, not for a human being. An oompa-loompa, maybe. Not a person.

Still, Rebecca took the best punch of the year in 2008 from Chris Jericho, so I'll let her off.

Meanwhile, nice early touch in the match, as JBL offers Shawn a chair and tries to induce the DQ. Remember if he wins, Shawn is his bitch for life. They didn't say that in these PG days, but that's what they mean.

Too late to change a prediction. I've a feeling JBL may win. I can see this going a couple of ways.

JBL said to Shawn "One mistake" hinting that he thinks HBK will try to hard, make an error, and get beat. That's one possibility.

Or what about Rebecca herself running in to stop it. She has been on camera and mentioned so much by the commnentators it seems like they are building something up. How about JBL beating on Michaels so bad she hops the rail and hits Bradshaw, or covers up her husband?

I actually thought of a third reason for JBL to win during the match, but before I got to it, Shawn won. I should have shut up about changing predictions. Rebecca did get involved, though - should it have been stopped? Perhaps JBL will argue that her intervention should have meant a DQ was called for.

OK match without being sensational. JBL matches are never that amazing, so this was perhaps a better one. Fair enough ending (if it is so) to the saga, allowing Michaels to go to.........face Taker?

Jericho did a promo in which he sort of challenged Ric Flair to a match at Wrestlemania. He then took it back, so lets hope that's not true. We don't need to see that.

Meanwhile, Cole just said that the frequency of champions losing the belt in the chamber is 67%. I'm not sayin he is wrong, because I may have my numbers wrong, but I was under the impression that figure was 2 in 4 and therefore 50% before the first chamber match tonight. Edge lost, so that would mean 3 in 5. I'd make that 60%, then. What have I, or Cole, got wrong?

Cena and Knox are podded, so far.

Quite the night for surprises, then. It seems Rey and Jericho will start this one, but the story is that EDGE struck Kofi down, and gave him a conchairto against the steel steps. He then places himself in a pod and for some reason the refs allow it. Edge is in the match. Wow.

Great looking spot as Mysterio missed the shoulder charge in the corner and ends up headbutting Kane's pod. Whether head or hand that hit first, the sound was great.

Ever better spot as Rey ascends the chamber's chain link wall and leaps off onto Jericho, hitting a huracanrana.

Meanwhile, the commentators continually refer to Edge. Getting this much attention.......can he afford to lose this? I'd suggest he could very well win now.

Loads of you (well, two) have asked what my other JBL theory was. Well, I wondered if maybe someone would appear out of nowhere and attack JBL, seemingly feeling sorry for Michaels. This would mean JBL winning by DQ and getting Shawn's services. You could then play this for a week or two before revealing that the guy who did the run in was paid off by JBL. Shawn cries foul, and it sets up another all or nothing match, perhaps in a cage.

Still, it's irrelevant now, isn't it?

Kane's in by the way.......and now out 619 by Rey then Codebreaker by Jericho. It looked like they'd left Kane to survive, but Rey ascended a pod and hit Kane with a......."seated senton". That isn't the right description, but you know what I mean.

Now here comes Mike Knox.

Domination by Knox for several minutes, but Jericho comes up with a Codebreaker and Knox is history. I may have had Knox attack Rey again before he left, just for the hell of it.

Penultimate entry.......and it's Edge. Instantly attacked by Rey. That's why Knox didn't attack Rey.

Some cool interaction with Rey, Edge and Jericho, and now Cena is in. And there is not much love for him. This match has a much bigger feel to it with Edge in. His presence throws the seemingly obvious Cena victory into doubt.

Oh I say. 'pon me word, Cena is history. What did he last, two minutes? After a few unanswered moves, he had Edge set for an FU/Attutude adjustment, but fell foul to a Codebreaker, then 619 and then spear. 1-2-3 and he's out.

The hits keep coming. Tremendous sequence as Rey goes for a double 619. He only gets Jericho. Edge misses a charge on Rey and hits the turnbuckles on the outside. Rey springboards in 'seated senton' position but Jericho into a Walls. Reversal into a cradle by Rey and Jericho is gone.

While I was typing that Rey has had two really nearfalls. Oh my, this is quite some match now.

So Edge is the champion.......but on Raw. I've got to give WWE credit. That was compelling storytelling, and it was a terrific match. Some crazy action, including another phenomenal Rey bump into a pod after my last update, propelled by Edge over his own head. One spear later and this one is over.

Good stuff on commentary too. Asking questions like "Is Edge really champion?" "Does Raw have a world title?" and so forth ought to create a bit of intrigue for tomorrow's broadcast.

Mega thumbs up from me. Five matches, of which only Finlay and Swagger really disappointed, but that was likely only because the two matches before it were so good. HBK/JBL was good enough, with a satisfactory ending. Orton/Shane, if you remove the emotion that the booking of Shane is ludicrous, was a very good standalone match and spectacle. The first chamber exploded into life for a superb ending, and only fell short of a better rating from me because it dragged for too long.

And what can you say about the last match? As soon as Edge entered you fancied him to win, but until Cena was eliminated you couldn't say it with any conviction. Even afterwards Rey had sufficient nearfalls to raise the heartrate. Even if you are sitting there and saying "I knew Edge would win" when it was just he and Rey, I put to you that you are in a minority, judging by the live crowd, who were oohaing and aahing for every Rey nearfall.

Killab365 - that was Excellent, my friend. That match right there.

Fantastic main event to end a great show. WWE keeps it going with these awesome PPVs.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

No Way Out preview

I, like most wrestling fans, love this time of year. The Royal Rumble is my favourite PPV there is, and who can’t emotionally involved in the build to Wrestlemania, positioned at the biggest show of the year?

It used to be great that there was nothing between the Rumble and Mania, but since the calendar was flooded with PPVs, that is no longer possible.

Until a few years ago, No Way Out was a pain-in-the-backside, somewhat redundant, show which actually trod on the toes of the other two. The Elimination Chamber was used at this event last year in two matches, and apart from the obvious synergy with the title of the Pay Per View being an expression apropos for the situation, it was a good fit.

The John Cena comeback storyline dominated the Rumble and the subsequent show, so the Chambers determining the number one contenders was a reasonable decision.

Having the matches as title encounters is an interesting call, but a plausible one and not one which I have a problem with. Some say that the Smackdown line-up is stronger than Raw, which is a statement I would tend to agree with, but I’d put to you that a match which involved Big Daddy V, Khali, Finlay, MVP, Taker and Batista last year was a belter. No reason that the Raw chamber match won’t be as exciting as that was, even though we probably know the destination of the belt.

There are only five matches on the card, so before I get to those, I’ll try to pinpoint where any other matches or segments can be added.

There is an obvious Raw bias to the card. Aside from it’s chamber match, they also have the high stakes JBL v Shawn Michaels bout and high profile Shane McMahon v Randy Orton encounter. ECW has Swagger v Finlay, while Smackdown isn’t represented other than their main event.

Smackdown is the logical destination for more activity. Neither the US Champion Shelton Benjamin nor Primo and Carlito, the tag champs, are involved at the moment, so perhaps they could find themselves in action.

This is where TNA have a strong suit in their X division, because if they want to add a spectacle to the shoe, they can put a bunch of guys out there and let them have fun. Because the Cruiserweight division is no more, it doesn’t really work for WWE to stick a bunch of guys together. Plus, they have the Money in the Bank, so they may feel they are watering down the concept.

Other potential matches may involve wrestlers who are in line for a certain push. Umaga is not in the chamber, so could potentially be given a chance to beat someone, although obvious contenders are at a premium. Khali, perhaps? It wouldn’t be pretty, but the message of Umaga being a monster would be reinforced.

Mr Kennedy is on his way back, so he may get involved somewhere, and other notable matchless individuals are (in no particular order) Matt Hardy, Christian, CM Punk, William Regal, R-Truth, Mark Henry and Mizorrison.

Here’s a bold suggestion, since I was on the money with them last time – I’ll take a backstage attack by....someone, with the suggestion it’s Matt Hardy, on Jeff Hardy. This would either mean Jeff can’t compete, or more likely that he competes injured, putting paid to another title effort. Another step towards the logical Matt v Jeff match at Wrestlemania.

Jack Swagger v Finlay – ECW Title match
This has to be a strong contender for opening match, and you’d think will feature Christian (just Christian. It’s hard not to write Christian ‘Cage’) in some respect. I think they’d be well served to sit him on commentary if the idea is to have him face the winner. It would allow him to re-ingratiate himself with the audience, give an opportunity to explain the kayfabe reasoning for the return and build some foundation to a feud with either man.

You’d think Swagger wins here. It’s hard to see why they’d give him the belt to have him drop it, and if Christian’s destiny is the ECW title, winning it from Swagger makes more sense. Not that I wouldn’t like to see Christian v Finlay, mind you.

My big problem with Finlay, which I’ve probably stated before, is that as great a wrestler he is, he hasn’t won a match cleanly for about three years. He always has to use the bloody shillelagh, and I really dislike heel tactics being used for a babyface as a regular habit, because it waters down the heat for the heels. Imagine if, for example, Regal started to use brass knuckles again. The commentators would moan about the nefarious tactics, but fans would be thinking about Finlay getting away with using foreign objects too.

Anyway, that aside, I think Swagger will win, and win clean.

Prediction.....err, what I just said.

Shawn Michaels v JBL – “All or nothing”

This has been one of the oddest feuds in recent history. A weak setup and now quite a flimsy, possible blow-off match, but has been punctuated by tremendous promos filled with well-conveyed emotions.

I don’t anticipate a fantastic match here, because watching JBL wrestle isn’t nearly as interesting as listening to him talk. However, expect a well told story with umpteen false finishes. They can afford to play with the ending more because the other three main matches involve different setups, so this the biggest straight up one-on-one wrestling match on the agenda, if you see what I mean.

WWE have a luxury with these guys, because they can take it wherever they want the storyline to go, and not worry about either guy losing momentum. JBL is a gifted orator, and can get his heat back at the drop of a hat. He could lose every week and still get the right reaction. Michaels, meanwhile, is so loved because of his history, he will likely be cheered forever, so could afford to lose also.

I tend to think HBK will triumph, here. I don’t see them having JBL beat him straight up, so unless they have something up their sleeve whereby Bradshaw has an accomplice who can help him win and set up Michaels v Accomplice at Mania, you’d think the babyface has to prevail.

Prediction: Shawn wins, and by this time next week has had an incident with another superstar, building to a big Mania match.

Randy Orton v Shane McMahon – No Holds Barred, Hardcore, Street Fight, No DQ match

Shane only competes in matches where the rules are flung out of the window, so this’ll be however they are currently defining a match in which they can do what they like.

Logically Randy would go over here in a nasty one, but logically Shane wouldn’t be so dominant in the last couple of weeks, either.

I still think Orton will win, but I have an unsettling feeling that he’ll rely on Cody and Ted to help him out. I’m going to be quite non-committal on the details of the match, but I’ll say that after Orton gets his hand raised he contrives to kick Shane in the head....sorry, SKULL, and put him out of commission.

The setup is then there for it to go a couple of ways. One theory that I’ve seen doing the round is that Randy will brag to have rid the WWE of two McMahons, and that Steph’s response will be to unleash her husband, Triple H, as the man to stop Orton. This is logical in a couple of ways. One in the sense that it would recognise the relationship and have Trips stand up for his wife, and also in that Randy has the main event slot at Wrestlemania, and could choose to head to Smackdown and challenge The Game.

I have an alternative one, in the spirit of trying to come up with extra ideas. Try this one.

Orton wins and destroys Shane, then does the aforementioned menacing speech to Steph. He is interrupted by champion John Cena, who defends the honour of the Raw GM. We build to Mania with Orton v Cena, and have Cena beaten down a couple of times by Legacy. Maybe a couple of Raw superstars try to stand aside Cena, like Kofi or Rey, and Legacy take them out.

Randy them threatens Cena on the last Raw before Wrestlemania, and says that he’ll win the belt, and that his backup will help him. “You’re three on one, John, the odds are against you,” Randy will say.

Cena refutes this suggestion, and says that he indeed will have someone in his corner at Wrestlemania. Cue Vinny Mac to return, and the last raw ends with Vince and Cena aligned.

At Mania, a give and take match has the obligatory ref bump, and Mr McMahon steps in to try to revive the official. As he is bent over, Orton gets ready for a big punt. He doesn’t get a chance to, and Vince stands up and gets in Orton’s face. As the two men face off, Cena staggers to his feet. Vince grabs a weapon, and levels the Champ. Ref recovers, Orton covers, and we have a new champion.

Vince’s reasoning for helping Orton could be that when Orton slapped him and realised that Orton had that characteristic that Vince likes: Ruthless Aggression. Leaves things open for a Cena chase of the belt and Vince trying to hold him back. I know it’s been done, but most other stuff isn’t working right now.

Plausible, no?


Prediction: Orton to win, probably not as convincingly as he should do

Raw Elimination Chamber – John Cena (c), Chris Jericho, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Mike Knox, Rey Mysterio.

I’ve not really hidden who I think will win this, but then I don’t think I’m being revolutionary in picking John Cena to retain. I’d go so far as to say the only people who are predicting anyone else are doing so out of either boredom or simply taking a chance that if a shocking swerve happens that they can claim they predicted it.

I’d break out the patented, much sought after McNichol Eliminator, but I don’t want to overuse it. I may use it on the next match. Tell you what, I’ll use the travel version.

Knox, Kofi and Kane won’t win. No-one beginning with K. Outside chance of Mysterio, but frankly very, very unlikely.

Chris Jericho is the only real candidate, but with his Wrestlemania future looking like it will have something to do with Flair, or Mickey Rourke, or some such escapade, he doesn’t need the WWE title for this. Cena, meanwhile, has nothing obvious lined up, and makes more sense as a headliner.

As for the match composition, I’d go with two of John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Kofi Kingston to start the match. Add Jericho at three, and have five minutes of these guys bumping around and having fun. Kane or Knox enter next, and do the monster thing of dominating the smaller three. This takes up most of the time until Cena is next, destroying all and eliminating Kane/Knox. The final monster is introduced last and gets rid of Kofi, evening the babyface and heel quotas. Rey then falls, leaving two heels to beat on Cena. Jericho sneakily rolls up Kane/Knox, and leaving him and Cena. We all know what happens then.

Prediction – Hmm, seems I jumped the gun again. I’m enjoying the fantasy booking, though

Smackdown Elimination Chamber – Edge (c), Big Show, Triple H, Undertaker, Vladimir Koslov, Jeff Hardy.

What’s that? No waffle this time, just get into how you’d book it? Ok, you’re the boss.

We start with Triple H and Koslov. Standard action for five minutes, before Jeff comes in next. Jeff has been selling injuries from an earlier beating, but seems to overcome this to be the star of the match to this point. Show is next, and Jeff takes one chance too many, missing a move and running into a Big Show KO punch. Jeff is history. Big Show dominates, and Taker enters next. The Deadman stands tall, eliminating Koslov as he goes. Triple H, Taker and Show battle while Edge lies in wait. Perhaps accusations of favouritism from JR as Edge has the best draw.

The three in the ring hit big moves on one another, so when Edge enters they are vulnerable. Spear on Show, and the big guy is history. Edge doesn’t leave it there, mocking Show, who forces his way back into the cell with a steel chair. He smashes Edge with it, sending the Rated R Superstar into Takers waiting clutches. A Tombstone later, and Edge is gone.

We are left with Triple H and Undertaker, with the former kicking out of a chokeslam/or reversing a Hells Gate, while Taker survives a Pedigree. Gotta make both look good, haven’t we? Eventually Triple H gets hold of the chair Show left in, and cracks Taker. A cover, but Taker still kicks out. Taker gets back in charge, but somehow Trips engineers a Pedigree on the chair, and finally wins it.

Prediction – Triple H. I don’t see two champions retaining in the Cells, and it strikes me that Cena must do, and therefore this one is the most open for the title to switch. Edge and Show seem to be building something, and it strikes me that they are likely to tangle in some manner at Wrestlemania. I can’t see Koslov winning, and Jeff, as previously discussed, has his issue with Matt. That only leaves Taker or Triple, both with great records in the Cell. The only problem with Triple H winning is where that leaves Undertaker for mania, and vice versa.

Maybe Triple H v Taker at Mania? I’d like to see that, although not for the belt, since Taker’s streak v someone’s title has been the theme of the last two years.

Anyway, we’ll soon see. I’m really looking forward to this show, and hope you are too.

Don’t forget, live coverage will take place on this here blog, with my continuing updates keeping you posted on the action, as well as offering my opinions and predictions. Those that followed live last month will recall that I called the Matt Hardy turn during the show, down to very close detail. Maybe I’ll be equally prescient tonight.

Hope to see you during the show – you can join in the blog by emailing me at robthegreen at hotmail dot com.

Enjoy No Way Out


Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Raw Thoughts - February 9th

· Jericho and Flair kick off Raw. Ironically, having not met for months, they’ll meet again next week in their traffic anger management class. If this was WCW they would book some sort of Road Rage in Cage match or a gearstick on a pole match.
· I’m not sure what the segment achieved, though. Jericho doesn’t need any more character development to get himself over as a smart ass arrogant heel, and very little was accomplished. I’ll reserve judgement mostly because this could be leading somewhere, but if that was a one-off excuse to have Flair back, it was weak.
· Standard built to a title match with Beth and Melina. Have the challenger win to make it look like she is favourite to win it back. I don’t like the treatment of Melina on commentary, though, with them acting surprised when she was on offense. She is the champion, and supposedly on merit, not by fluke. If you sound shocked when she is doing well, it is pointless having the belt on her.
· Good, strong win for Cody and Ted. I’d suggest that if Miz and Morrison were not doing so well and were not heels then Priceless would be prime candidates for the belts, to do a similar thing as they did with Evolution, showing the stable’s dominance by having lots of gold. Would have like this match with Cryme Tyme to have gone a bit longer, mind you.
· What a terrific finish to the six man tag. Very innovative twist into the Codebreaker, great decision to have Jericho make the fall as he is the most likely contender to Cena’s title.
· I really like that idea – to have HBK lose via DQ in seconds. Why would he want to have a long match against a big guy? Makes no odds if he wins or not, really. Cut to the chase and let JBL do what he does best.
· JBL wants Shawn to bring his wife to No Way Out? I thought he was going to say Joey Styles.
· Good, hard-hitting action between Punk and Regal, but again way, way too short. This was treated as such an afterthought, and far from a big deal. It wasn’t promoted throughout the show, even when Cole mentioned Regal as a passing reference, he never pointed out that Regal would challenge for gold late that night.
· Right, the main event. I’ll bet there are plenty of you out there who are unhappy about a bullshit finish, but every now and again it has to be done, and this is one such occasion. It’s slightly worrying that they have to bring in Taker and Flair one on night to try to spark a rating (perhaps due to the dog show? Don’t forget they used to get shifted for that, so maybe they are looking for a big number to show USA how valuable they still are) and I was expecting Taker to perhaps get involved with Shawn again, hinting towards a Mania programme. The thing to look at in the booking of this is that Orton is the Raw top heel and Taker is......well, Taker. Neither man could really lose clean, so having Legacy join together and briefly beat down Taker made sense as an ending, and they managed to work Shane’s appearance in such a way that Taker didn’t look like he was being saved. Also, Shane’s “Coast to Coast” was a big moment to end a show, helping to build the show.
· One other point I wanted to make – to sell the PPV as a Shane v Randy spectacle is a risk given that they have not done a lot to build Shane up. It shouldn’t be forgotten that this guy has had two or three excellent matches in his life. Well, maybe not excellent MATCHES, but very entertaining spectacles, at the least. I’m thinking tangles with Kurt Angle and Steve Blackman, and to a lesser extent X-Pac, Test and Big Show. But nothing of late has really had Shane showing what he can do, so I think I would have had a video package with some of his major moments remembered. Don’t forget some of the audience won’t know who he is, at least wouldn’t know what he can do. A few rubbish punches and one, badly filmed, coast-to-coast would not excite someone who doesn’t know what Shane O Mac is all about.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Raw Thoughts - Feb 2

· Two things to note from the opening two minutes of Raw. It’s in St Louis, and Shane is out first. How babyface will Shane try to be? Orton is in his hometown.
· There’s intrigue and teasing, but Orton took an age to get to the ring. That was outright boring.
· Shane having the Kendo stick was a nice touch. That was fine, he needs to put over the fact that he can use his smarts to outgun Orton.
· The fact that the match No Holds Barred throws one major question up at me. Will Cody and Ted interfere? Because if it is no DQ, then why shouldn’t they just attack Shane throughout? I wonder if maybe Randy will make an agreement with them, or with Shane, that it maintains 1 v 1.
· Standard booking to allow Regal to get his heat back and make you think he has a shot at taking the IC title back.
· Pathetic ending to a match in the tag contest. Why can’t Priceless just beat Cryme Tyme. They are the ones receiving a huge push, and Cryme just need two weeks of singing to their fans to get back their place in their hearts.
· Booking finishes to matches like this and then having a spot after the match is educating the audience (even more than previous) that the match outcome is irrelevant and the matches don’t matter in the slightest. That’s not a good route to go down.
· Interesting to and fro with Jericho and Cena. I would have preferred that Cena hadn’t called Jericho an “idiot” but aside from that it was ok. Interesting that Jericho talked hardly at all about Mickey Rourke but loads about Ric Flair. And is all this just a big ploy to plug the “Legend of Wrestlemania” video game?
· Really, really good tag match with Rey and Kofi against Kane and Knox. Brilliantly paced, and with the old school set up of the two menacing big men as heels, against the high-flying, brightly coloured babyfaces.
· I really liked the backstage attack too. Well executed, including the sneaky backstage camera shot which caught The Legacy plotting, then a stiff-looking attack on Shane which took out Steph too. I really like the get out clause they’ve given themselves about why Orton stops and looks at what he has done. Making him seem more unhinged makes him a more credible threat.
· Oh, and by they way, when agents broke it up why was Mike Rotunda dressed like a supply teacher? Bring back the business threads, Irwin! We want red suspenders!
· “The Harts had a match for the ages, but it was Shawn Michaels who stole the show” Ouch. Take that Bret
· Standard Beth fare. It makes sense to make her look nice and dominant in her quest for the belt back. However, I question having her look so good and to feature Mickie and Layla at some point, but to not see Melina at all, even for a 30 second backstage promo.
· More good Michaels and JBL stuff to a point. Michaels doing the “teeth down the throat” line was daft because Cena had already done it. But to me the match and the stip is a daft one.
· If JBL and HBK square off, who the hell else goes into the Chamber?
· Oh, there we go, that was quick. It’s Kane. Sound logic I guess, since it shows Steph trading off to get Taker to Raw, and sets up a stacked Raw next week. More on that in a moment.
· I’m not crazy about Kane being allowed in after Kofi beat him, because it makes Kingston’s achievement mean a bit less. However, he was the only man left who could fit it.
· That being said, it’s a poor line-up for the match. Jericho is the only credible challenger really. Although maybe the thought is that Cena will win and everybody knows it, setting up Orton v Cena at Mania. Make Orton v Shane and JBL v Shawn, in addition to the Smackdown Chamber which looks more interesting, and it’s the basis of a decent card.
· Decent main event. Decent to good. It was standard fare until near the end, but a really terrific sequence to end it. You often get that with Jericho, he is the master of the exciting finish.
· Decent Raw, and it’s built for next week. Undertaker v Orton and Flair to appear should bring people in.