The 1/26/04 Swift Raw Report

So yeah, coming off of last night, I was always going to be a thousand times more lenient than usual. But, then they come up with a pretty goddamn good show, which is nice to see after a major PPV. CHRIS~! BENOIT~!


-- So, is Jericho a face now? I hope so. It seems a bit abrupt, but hey, it's the right thing to do. Eric Bischoff continues to be awesome...I actually loved the idea behind forcing him to use his favor in a way he didn't want to. THAT is how you play an asshole authority figure.

-- The 3-on-2 opening match was very intriguing...instead of the usual tag formula, the first six minutes were all the babyfaces dominating Evolution. Randy Orton in particular took quite a beating, but this all works. They're seemingly building Jericho up to be a top face again, and as the announcers mentioned, Orton wrestled for over 30 minutes last night (he was very much the Raw MVP of the entire show, HHH and HBK included). The transition to the heel offense with a nice spinebuster on the outside by Batista (if he's only going to use four moves, may as well use them in cool ways), heading to commercial with the awesome visual of Evolution stalking RVD like a wolfpack. We come back to RVD screwing up a simple inside cradle, but it's all good. Evolution decide to killify RVD's arm, and it's all fun. Batista comes in, and oh my my, he does a hammerlock. It's real simple and basic, but hey...it's move # 5! Congratulations! RVD, meanwhile, is perfectly OK selling the arm when it's actually being worked on, but when he does his hope-spot offense, it's completely forgotten. He then catches Ric Flair's leg with the arm that's been worked on, with not even a grimace. Good lord. Meanwhile, Jericho's extended selling of the spinebuster makes the hot tag that much more meaningful, and business picks up again when he's in. Batista comes back in, and it's so painfully obvious how out of his league he is here. At the very least, he did his part halfway decently during that DDT counter that Jericho did. The finishers sequence was neat, even if Jericho didn't get up for the RKO in time (thus making Orton look completely silly...however, that seemed like it was all Jericho's doing to me). Evolution wins it, which makes perfect sense...the handicapped party should NEVER win a handicap match. That said, this did more to put over Jericho than anything else, and it helps Orton as well. So, while there was a blown spot here and there, giving Jericho, Orton, and Flair 17 minutes (oh, and those other guys too, I guess) will always ensure something halfway-decent, and this was even a notch or two above that. Good, good stuff here. (Ric Flair/Randy Orton/Dave Batista(win) beat Chris Jericho(loss)/Rob Van Dam, Orton RKO, 17:12.)

-- Orton's backstage promo after the match was awesome. I know I've said it already, but it bears repeating -- this guy has ARRIVED. Austin's bit wasn't offensive either, so this segment definitely works.

-- They're finally moving forward with this Jericho/Trish angle...they were kinda spinning their wheels for a while there, so this is a good sign. Oh, and Christian continues to reek of awesomeness. The eventual match between these two is going to be awesome as long as they don't Royal Rumble it in terms of the time they get.

-- As for the match itself, well, was this Introduction to the Opposites or what? Lita was vastly improved from previous weeks, while Jazz fucks up taking a simple sunset flip. Victoria pretty much cements her standing as the second-best women's wrestler in the WWF with an awesome standing moonsault, and her very capable selling job as face-in-peril. Molly CHEATS TO WIN (or, to transition, at least), and then the two rudos handle the beatdown section very well. As noted before, Lita is somewhat better after she gets the hot tag, but good goddamn, she needs to learn how to throw a dropkick, or just stop using it. The headscissor takeover and the psuedo-Blue Thunder thing were better, though. Lita and Jazz brawl on the outside, and Victoria gets the flash pin out of a suplex counter. That makes it two on the trot against Molly now, and this is setting up an actual title match very nicely (with a finish that's unpredictable, but not just for the sake of being shocking). I had this pegged at ambivalent for most of the way, but on second thought, this really was pretty good. (Victoria(win)/Lita beat Molly Holly(loss)/Jazz, small package, 5:55). It's nice to see the ladies get more than the three-minute special they're usually stuck with.

-- The pop Benoit got when he came out onto the ramp. FUCK YEAH! BEN-OIT! BEN-OIT! BEN-OIT! I liked the HHH promo to begin with, I liked the HHH-HBK confrontation after that, but Benoit showing up almost puts this into a whole other degree of good. Oh, and let's get this right out of the way...for all who immediately assume that HHH is going to squash him at Mania, I ask you this: How many Royal Rumble winners have they immediately abandoned with no title win or anything like that? It'd be interesting to see what Rumble winners have gone on to do before, at, and immediately after Mania.

-- Bischoff and Heyman maneuvering against each other will be nothing but fun, I think.

-- I thought Jim Ross was REALLY on tonight, for whatever reason.

-- The two drunk guys in the crowd who did Rene Dupree's goofy-ass French dance while the match was going on. That was fantastic...I rewound and watched it five or six times.

-- The segment with Mick Foley and Orton at the end was fucking fantastic, and it goes to show that the WWF can really knock an angle out of the park when they really set their mind to it.


-- Wait a minute! The women's match on Heat was non-title? The fuck? And she's a face now? Quoi?

-- Wow, HHH has graced us with his presence on Raw! What's the special occasion (and, keep this in mind, this is coming from someone who is an unrepentant HHH fan).

-- The only way the WWF show in Osaka can possibly work is if they somehow have a run-in from Ebessan. Other than that, no dice. Sorry. If they ever went full-boat and ran Keiji Mutoh/Ebessan vs. Hurricane/Rosey in a "first to hit the Shining Wizard" match, I would order the tape if it cost me half my soul to do so.

-- Kane vs. Bubba Ray wasn't too terribly offensive...it would have been even further north in the report if there had been a single move in it that wasn't a punch. The DQ ending is fine, as they're trying to position Kane as an unstoppable monster. Also, this feud will give the Dudleys something to do other than be Tag Team Champions for the kajillionth time. Works for me. (Bubba Ray Dudley beat Kane, DQ [shot with the ringsteps], 2:21).

-- Rico vs. Rob Conway sure was a pro wrestling match. Not horrible or anything, but if two guys pretend to fight and the crowd doesn't make a sound, did the match really happen? And, I'm not enough of a loser to put this up in the good cause you could see Jackie Gayda's breasts for 0.5 of a second. Sorry. (Rico beat Rob Conway, 3:18).

-- They may as well have just had Goldberg killify Coachman, but what the hell...I don't give a crap about Mark Henry either. Since he's probably gone after Mania anyway, I have no problem with Goldberg beating people I also dislike. Whatever...I'm just going to lean on the fast-forward anyway. (Goldberg beat Jonathan Coachman(loss)/Mark Henry, Jackhammer, 4:23).


-- The VCR I taped this on. Good goddamn, the video quality was SHITE.

-- Normally, I am all about Chris Jericho on the mike...but, one cheap shot at Howard Dean later, it ends up down here. Zip it, jabroni. (This is as political as I'll ever get in this thing, I promise).


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