From the ashes...

...I did a Raw report! Holy 2001, Batman!

Damn...never thought I'd do THIS again. But, here I am, all the same.

For whatever reason, Long Island has never gotten a good television taping in the history of Raw/Smackdown. And tonight, well, to say it as Strong Bad might: "Holy crap for crap! That was crap!" You tell 'em, Strong Bad.


-- Call me insane, but I'm perfectly fine with the Coach as the third commentator. Back when JR and the King were tolerable, it was because the King was actually, you know, a HEEL commentator. While the heel commentator shtick can get old (as can everything in wrestling at some point or another), the WWF essentially hasn't had one since Paul Heyman left the booth. In the case of the Smackdown crew, you don't really need one...they have somehow found the delicate balance between hyping the feuds and angles and calling the match, with move names and everything! But, with the King and JR, it's just mindless hype over and over and over again, until you feel like your head's been worked on by a sledgehammer for two hours. The Coach has had many chances before and done little with them, I'll grant you that. But, each time, he's been thrown to the wolves, and expected to do full-on play-by-play, and it just doesn't work (although him and D'Lo Brown were good together on Heat, because their collective enthusiasm was infectious). This way, Coach can slowly grow into a role, while Hard Sell and the King do all the heavy lifting.

-- I would just like to take this opportunity to lend my full support to the Friends and Supporters of Randy Orton...what a great show that guy had tonight. Everything he touched turned to gold, especially his interview segments. As far as his character and promos go, I think he's a top guy on Raw right now. His in-ring work will follow, I have no doubt.

-- You go, Teddy Long! You give that cracker a piece of your mind! Holla!

-- Woah! Tombstone! Neat! And, it's good that they sell it like they would a Tiger Driver '91 in Japan...it's a good move, and if this is what they have to do to ensure it gets used every now and then, well, so be it. The "Move of Death" is a good storytelling device, so why not?

-- Stacy Kiebler gives Trish love advice! Fantastic! Remember, in storyline terms, this is the same girl who wound up as a plaything for the Cristopher Street Connection, WWF Division (Test and Steiner, for those with short memories). Hey, someone has to point all this stuff out.

-- The segment with Christian and Chris Jericho advanced the storyline in a satisfactory fashion. Well done.

-- Holy CRAP, the main event was really effing good. Orton blades really early, but he made it believable the way he went off the ringpost. RVD beats him up some more, and sends him into the seat that was intended for Mick Foley. See, that's the kind of humor I like. It doesn't impose on the match or come across as trying too hard (like most WWF "comic" segments). Unfortunately, that takes us into a long commercial break, which I HATE. I understand they're necessary, but it doesn't make analyzing the match easy...especially in a situation like this, where we go from a bloodied Orton wondering what state he's in to Orton firmly in control after the break. The HELL?! It'd be nice to know at least how we got from Point A to Point B, ya know? Anyway, Orton's on offense, and it strikes me...he's made The Leap. Before, he's always been just some guy who kinda does stuff and is kinda-sorta a heel I guess. But, look at the match tonight. He's vicious, he's sadistic, his in-ring work has personality. It's good to have character on the stick...that's what cracks open the door as far as most fans go. But, if your matches make you look like Just Another Guy they're shoving down your throat, I think most fans catch on to that in one way or another. However, as Orton is brutalizing RVD on the outside, anyone who's looking critically can see that there's a marked improvement in that facet of his game. And, when it comes time for a resthold, he doesn't rely on the tried-and-really-fucking-boring chinlock. Instead, he locks on a bodyscissors, leaving his hands free to make the resthold interesting with eye rakes, hairpulling, a roll-up attempt, and so on. It's a subtle thing, but those small impropvements change a "holy shit, we're tired...so, we're going to lay here for a while" segment into something that lets them rest, while still being entertaining, and having the whole thing make sense in the overall match. Then, he switches to a full-on kata-hajime with body scissors, and I MARK THE FUCK OUT. Next, he shows that he's serious about expanding his once-empty moveset, throwing in almost a version of Taiyo Kea's Hawaii 5-0, only starting from an Argentine Backbreaker instead of a fireman's carry. By the way, all of this works because all RVD has to do is get the shit kicked out of him and sell (which IS something he can do). The second he fights out of the camel clutch, he immediately shows why they put the title on Orton, fucking up the rolling cradle attempt. I'd like to state for the record, however, that Orton covered really well for it, and ALMOST pulled off making it look like he countered mid-move into a cradle of his own. However, RVD's offense was serviceable after that, with a sweet Northern Lights getting 2, Rolling Thunder getting 2, and a nice variation of it off the top rope getting 2. Orton comes back with a fantastic short kneelift, and then they're even until the Inevitable Referee Bump. Orton gets his awesome neckbreaker variation, then plays dead in an attempt to get the double-KO after the ref revives. I'm all for cheating to win and being a super-dick heel, but if he's down for 9, that means you could have PINNED HIM THREE TIMES. Bit of a logic flaw there, no? At any rate, Orton then gets the somewhat-anticlimatic end with a nice 2nd-rope DDT variation. Hey, if you're a young guy, and you wrestle RVD for 20 minutes and it doesn't suck (never mind it being a VERY good match like this), it's safe to say you've arrived. Bravo, Mr. Orton...Bravo. (Randy Orton beat Rob Van Dam, 2nd rope DDT, around 22:00ish (around 18:15ish aired)


-- Well, well, well. Goldberg and Scott Steiner have a SHOWDOWN~!, right there backstage. Yippee. It obviously wasn't good, but it wasn't hilariously bad, as is Steiner's usual. So, it goes here, which is even worse than being in "The Bad", because that can be entertaining too, sometimes. Now watch...Hardy gets destroyed in a minute, but watch Perfectly Acceptable Lower Midcarder Scott Steiner push Shitberg to the limit before losing. Makes perfect sense to me.

-- Hey! They're hyping a match on Heat! That's cool, and it probably would have went UP THERE if it wasn't going to be Steiner squashing any momentum Stevie Richards may have been gaining with his wins over Test. I mean, Richards is decent in the ring, he's got a notable personality, isn't a bad talker...they can't find a place for (Victoria)...I mean Stevie on Raw? Bullshite, I say!

-- Chris Jericho is a very good wrestler. He's a very good entertainer. There is NO REASON for him to ever see even this part of the report. But, throw in a Vortex of Suck like Mark Henry, and, well, miracles can happen. Y2J tried his ass off, so I can't in good conscience put this in "The Bad". The springboard dropkick was particularly nice. However, once Henry starts in with the Lumbering Offense of Doom, the entire thing comes to a screeching, terrible halt. Marvel as Henry can't get his ENORMOUS FAT ASS down in time to make Jericho's top-rope facecrusher look halfway decent! Gaze in awe at the dreaded bearhug! Wonder along with the rest of us how the referee can't hear Henry tapping! Delight in the world's most terrible excuse for a finisher get the win over a former Undisputed champion! This sucked! A lot! (Mark Henry beat Chris Jericho, The World's Most Pathetic Finisher, 7:51)


-- Me. I stink. First time back after what? Two years now? And, I forget to cut out the commercials, thus missing all the overrun. I took some hasty notes on Wordpad, but I have to guess at the match time for the main event.

-- I love the women's division. I do. I at least like their match 90% of the time...but this was just an off-night. Actually, let me clarify. Lita wasn't very good to begin with, and is even worse post-injury (but, GOOD GOD would I hit it, as much as that makes me sound like a mindless fratboy), and Jazz needs to work off the ring rust a bit. Molly, as usual, holds up her end...but, if Victoria or Ivory aren't around, the entire women's division depends on Trish having a good night. When she's off a bit, the entire thing suffers. And, sometimes they put Jackie Gayda in the ring, but that's just silly...or Vince trying to amuse himself, one of the two. As for this edition, the early arm work was perfectly acceptable, but then Lita Disease spread to Jazz and Trish, and that was that. (Jazz(win)/Molly Holly beat Trish Stratus(loss)/Lita, tights-assisted rollup, 4:55).

-- I'm about three or four viewings of that Final Fantasy X-2 commercial from going all Kill Bill in the Square Enix home offices.

-- Your Hero and Mine, Matt Hardy V-ONEAHHHHHHHH comes out on the stick. And hey, that's great. Then Austin comes out. What, what, what, hell yeah, whoop ass, etc etc etc (does anyone else think this is old? REALLY OLD?). The only thing that could have saved this segment at that point was some kind of angle that puts Hardy in at least an upper-midcard feud, which you'd think he'd have earned by now. He can wrestle, he can talk, he's got a great character, he's paid his dues...hey, let's job him to THE WORST FUCKING WRESTLER ON THE PLANET in less than a minute! Great! Eat a dick, WWF! (Goldberg beat Matt Hardy, Karma Hasn't Struck Yet, Fuck you if you think I'm timing this abortion).

-- What's worse than Goldberg wrestling? Goldberg talking! Hey, didya know Goldberg beat Naoya Ogawa (who never loses EVER) in ten minutes at ZERO-ONE's big show a little while back? And hey, that's six more minutes than Taiyo Fucking Kea or Satoshi Fucking Kojima lasted! So, it's not just American promotions that this guy has snowed...hey Satan, think you can collect on this jabroni's soul already?

-- General managers, sheriffs, board of directors, commissioners...I had my fill of all this shite like two years ago. Can't somebody look up Jack Tunney and have him issue edicts off-camera? You can find something else for Austin and Bischoff to do, right?

-- I'm already sick of that goddamn ATV Austin's riding around. If I were a bad person, this is where I'd say I wish he pulled an Ozzy Osbourne. But, I'm not, so I won't.

-- Ashton Kutcher in a serious movie is like Weird Al Yankovic performing Chopin with the London Symphony Orchestra. Actually, I apologize...that isn't fair to Weird Al.

-- Hey look, it's DAVE. DAVE isn't very good. Neither is D-Von Dudley. Somehow, I think Bubba Ray would at least have made me ambivalent towards all this. But, they didn't, and we're treated to all four moves of this classic encounter. Blah. (DAVE beat D-Von Dudley, The World's Worst Ligerbomb, 3:15)

-- Can we have a Spike TV cross-promotion where they powerbomb that John Henson guy through 14 tables covered in Ebola-covered barbed wire? Is that possible?

-- While I'm at it, is it too much to ask Ben Stiller if I requested that he retire to his wife and kids, and never soil our movie screens again? I've seen his wife...if I was that much of a douche, and I still pulled something like that, I wouldn't tempt fate/karma/whatever by making even more terrible "comedies". Just saying, is all.

-- HHH and HBK talk a whole bunch. And then a long time on top of that. Good god, this promo was long. The match should be good, though.

-- I thought Booker vs. Kane could be decent, but it took all of 30 seconds to dash THOSE hopes. When a guy doesn't even sell for people who are at his level (or arguably higher), that's just ridiculous and counter-productive. The terrible clothesline (I won't even dignify it with the word "lariat", which I usually prefer) sealed the deal. Fast forward with me to the ridiculous DQ ending! It's just like a roller-coaster, without the turns or loops! (Booker T beat Kane, DQ [from throwing him into the ring steps, of all things], 0:47). Yep...they gave two of the arguably upper-echelon guys 47 seconds to do their thing. Amazing.

-- The anti-weed ad with the basketball player is priceless. If the guy was good enough to affect his team's chances one way or the other, anything short of multiple homicide would be swept under the rug. Actually, even then, he'd probably have to eat the corpses too before getting so much as a suspension. Then again, I'm an Unapologetic Occasional Recreational Smoker, so take this for what you will.


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