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Saturday, 25 September 2010

Raw #8

It's the eighth ever episode of Monday Night Raw, and its with......hmm, a little message to inform us all that the show has been pre-recorded. Ok. Straight after that, it's Hogan time. In a studio along with Brutus and Jimmy, on full hype mode for a match against Money Inc. Hogan calls his partner "Brutus the Barber Bionic" at one point.

Brutus says something irrelevant about putting title belts on their Harleys, then Hogan sings a song from The King and I. No, I'm not kidding, he sang a song from The King and I. Admittedly his singing was a two on the Jillian Hall scale, but he sang nonetheless. "Getting to know you". He tells Money Inc they have a surprise for them (I genuinely can't think what that is) before all three do the "From New York, it's Monday Night Raw" bit, although they can't say 'Live'. Because it isn't. They do, however, add "Whatcha Gonna do?"

The annoying Raw titles play. The even more annoying siren sounds afterwards. Then Vince introduces us to the ludicrously annoying Rob Bartlett. Good start, then.

Vince references the abysmal Elvis stuff from last week for some reason, before Macho Man launches into a run-on sentence which I think ended with him saying that Money INc are wrestling Virgil and Tito Santana, but don't quote me on it. Bartlett shouts, albeit with no emotion at all, that he's looking forward to Rick Martel v Mr Perfect.

After a very obvious cut (not live, you see) Virgil and Tito emerge. Tito is, of course, El Matador at this point, in full bullfighting gear. I wonder how well that would go down these days? They may well have PETA onto them. Perhaps Tito is coming to mop up the bull coming out of Bartlett's mouth.

Good heat for Ted DiBiase and IRS, the tag champs, who of course have a history with Virgil. IRS says to the audience that tax cheats with have to pay thanks to Bill Clinton. Err, ok, thanks for that. Tito gets the better of Ted and tags in Virgil, so DiBiase quickly tags out to IRS. Crowd are really hot for chanting "Irwin" at Shyster.

The faces are well on top early on here, and for some reason they are cheating behind the ref's back with fake tags. Makes no sense. Vince says that the Nasty Boys stepped aside to let the Mega Maniacs have their title shots. And Hogan is still finding them work seventeen years later.

We come back after a break and Money Inc are on top. Eventually Tito tags out, and Virgil fires off some.......very unconvincing offense. He is soon tripped by Ted, allowing IRS to hit a back suplex. And, wow, that's it. Do you know what, when I think about it, I don't remember IRS having a finisher. Anyone?

Clips are aired of Tatanka getting the better of Shawn Michaels a lot recently, before The Model wanders down to ringside. He isn't here to wrestle yet, apparently, but to criticise the dress sense of one of the Raw girls. Obviously he does this whilst wearing a sailor's hat, red white and blue smoking jacket and pink boots. Yikes. The lady takes the criticism in good part, and Martel does her job briefly, to a chorus of boos. Cute little segment.

Tatanka is in action next. I never really understood the popularity of Tatanka, and lets be certain, he was pretty hot at this stage. He'd been booked well - he is undefeated at this stage, and had been for over a year. His opponent here is Bill Apollo, I believe. No, I don't know either.

Tatanka, after a very slow opening exchange, hip-tosses his opponent to the outside, before indulging in about 40 minutes worth of Irish Whips and chops. Vince gets Michaels on the phone, who says Tatanka rolled the dice and got lucky twice, but it'll come up Snake Eyes in Las Vegas. Nice analogy. I see a future in this boy.

Tatanka misses an elbow, allowing Apollo to land a couple of right hands and kicks. When he slams Tatanka's head into the buckle, he does his Hulking Up thing. (What do we call this, Tanking up?) He then hits a bunch of chops before The End of the Trail. No name-check for the move yet. He must have named it later down the line.

Gene Mean does another Mania report. He leads with Mega Maniacs v Money Inc. He says it's a double main event, and goes to comments from Bret, and then some from Mr Fuji on behalf of Yokozuma. (He still says it with an 'M') Next is Paul Bearer and Undertaker threatening Giant Gonzalez. Gene Mean says it's going to be best Wrestlemania ever, then gives a wooden statement towards McMahon, saying that the Model isn't 'perfect' at being a Raw ring girl, or something. That was the thing I hated about the Mr Perfect gimmick. Every promo was just a pun on Perfect all the time. That wasn't so bad when he was a heel, because it was supposed to be annoying. I don't think it worked when he was a babyface.

Martel gives another lesson to a ring girl, while Vince sends us to a break promising Papa Shango coming next. I was terrified of Shango as a kid. Seriously. I was petrified. I'm probably over the worst now.

When Shango does appear, I can't help but notice the difference between then and now in terms of presentation. There is no tron at this stage. The music Shango has is bland. He gets to the ring quickly. There is no dimming of lights. If he as a character came along now, they'd play this up, bbig style. I suppose the nearest example is probably The Boogeyman, and look what they did with him.

Mike Edwards is the sorcerers apprentice for this one. I'm not I can recall seeing a Shango match where he doesn't use his magical voodoo powers. Let's see what we get here.

Well, it's an easy squash. About a minute, and four moves, in Shango goes for a pin and then does the heel thing of raising the opponent up to prevent the three count. Don't see that much any more.

The commentators talking about the Model v Perfect. Savage says he wants the Model to lose because of what he is doing to the Raw girls. Bartlett - and I am not making this up - says to Vince "I thought you told me Mr Perfect was going to win". Seriously. I think he was trying to a bit post-modern with the irony, but his delivery sucks, and he ended up sounding like he got a bit lost in kayfabe.

Shango wins with an inverted shoulderbreaker which Vince calls thus: "Shoulderbreaker........that might have broken the back." Sometimes I feel bad for my (endless) criticism of Michael Cole. It probably isn't his fault he sounds like such a tool.

Hey, it's Bobby Backlund, out to wrestle a fella name Tony Demoro. Backlund lasted over an hour in the Rumble, so it's a bit of a surprise not to have seen him sooner on Raw, really. This is his first showing, I do believe. Lots of Raw debuts tonight.

The crowd are very vocal in their support for Backlund. He really got himself over in that Rumble. When he came out he had no reaction, but by the end the people were really behind him. In this case, Demoro heels up well to the crowd, including a guy, front and centre, wearing a "Bob Backlund WWF World Champion" yellow t-shirt. Well done that man.

Backlund makes it a sort of amateur-style grapple early on, while Vince says that if Backlund goes to Mania it'll be his first one, because when he was champ there were no Wrestlemanias. Backlund with a couple of hip tosses, and Demoro slides to the outside, leaving Bob to soak up the crowd chanting his name. Meanwhile, Vince sends Bartlett on an errand to go interview The Model.

Backlund allows himself to be elbowed in the corner, but soon reverses an Irish whip, and hits a double underhook suplex. A three-quarter nelson pin, and it's over.

Bartlett with The Model, and he makes me laugh for the first time. The Model says "no class" about seven times in thirty seconds, to which Bartlett responds "So you're saying he has no class?" I'll give him that, that was pretty funny.

Break time, and The Model is out for real this time, music and all. Sadly Bartlett made it back too. Mr Perfect's awesome music hits, and it's s genuinely big pop. I can only guess that Curt Hennig's head wasn't necessarily on straight, or his accumulation of injuries held him back, because Perfect really ought to have been a main eventer at this point onwards, but he never really got there.

Martel gets some mini-victories early on here, before Perfect makes him look a fool when avoiding a monkey flip variant. Pantomime stuff here in the early going. Model gets the upper hand again as Savage and Vince discuss Lex Luger hitting people with a dodgy forearm. So can the WWF physicians not check him out? How long is the waiting list for ensuring the wellness of....oh wait, I forgot. Best leave that.

Perfect does a sort of low bridge on Martel, who goes to the outside. And we go to an advert. Now there is something that is exactly like today. Back from a break and Martel is back on top. Pretty slow this one, though, it has to be said. After one of the weakest backbreakers you'll ever see (no word from Vince about whether it might have hurt the shoulder) Hennig blocks a splash attempt, and starts to turn the tide. The Model's bumping is a touch on the ludicrous side, though. He was another character that I couldn't stand. I used to think (still do, really) that he had go-away heat. Switch-the-TV-off-heat. I'd-watch-anything-but-him heat.

Anyway, Perfect gets on top, but it's another advert. Low rating in the last quarter hour, I suspect. We come back to the match's finished! Perfect's music is playing. That's idiotic. They missed the end. I know they are perhaps trying to make it feel live and spontaneous and frenetic. The old "anything can happen" feel. But this is post produced, isn't it? They told us at the start it wasn't live. So why edit out the finish? Don't get that one.

They do show us a replay, with Hennig hitting the Perfectplex, but that misses the point, really. McMahon says Perfect has "all kinds of momentum" heading into Wrestlemania. How many different types are there, Vince?

Shockingly, more ads ensue, leaving just enough time for Perfect to re-emerge in the arena, complete with Raw girls on each arm. I'll give them points for a little mini-story during the show, I guess.

Next week - Kamala! Wow, what a hook (note sarcasm). Razor Ramon is also in action. That's a little better. The feature match? Typhoon v Bam Bam Bigelow. There's some catch-as-catch-can action for you, right there. I wonder if we'll be able to keep up with that..........

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