SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestling
   Tue, October 21, 2008



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

House of Hardcore VII


Signmania VIII


Beulah McGillicutty


Big Event 7 fan fest


Raw in Buffalo


SHIMMER tapings


Alexia Nicole







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





Raw: Bring out the gauntlet
By BRIAN ELLIOTT - SLAM! Wrestling


Last week, in a Mat Matters column on this very website, I despaired at the WWE’s firing of Lance Cade -- a talented 27-year-old whose initial rise to the main event ranks was as surprising as his complete misuse thereafter -- noting that one of the reasons for the company’s ratings slump was too many of the same faces, delivering the same style of promos, and the same type of matches. In short, too much utter predictability.

While I am not arrogant enough to believe that my words were directly heeded by the company, it was noticeable that at the beginning of this week’s edition of Monday Night Raw (from Corpus Christi, Texas), there was to be no long initial monologue promo, but rather a Divas contest intended to start this "go home" show (theoretically, the last main televisual opportunity for the company to advertise their next pay-per-view, Cyber Sunday, to the public) with a memorable bang. With Cyber Sunday a traditional buyrate dud, anything that would cause this episode to be more effective was welcome.

Match #1: Kelly Kelly & Candice Michelle vs Jillian Hall & Katie Lee

"What a way to kick off Monday Night Raw, live!" said Michael Cole, as Kelly Kelly entered the ring. He didn’t sound entirely convincing, but I doubt that even Corpus Christi’s famous acting son, Lou Diamond Philips, could have pulled that one off.

In the ring, Hall and Lee controlled the action for some moments, as the latter caught Michelle with a kick to the stomach, as she held Hall in a hanging Figure Four necklock. Soon making the tag, however, Michelle rid the ring of Katie, allowing Kelly Kelly to utilise a Rocker Dropper -- a move which once cost the WWE $26m -- on Hall for the pinfall.

Winners: Kelly Kelly and Candice Michelle.

The "Big Gold" World Heavyweight Title belt looked good on Chris Jericho as he walked down the aisle to address the crowd, as Jerry Lawler’s intonation made it very clear that the WWE would like us to vote for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the special guest referee for Jericho’s pay-per-view bout with Batista.

After insisting that Lilian Garcia announce him as the champion, Jericho berated the fans for their lack of respect towards him, and hammered home that the officiating option he’d least appreciate from the fans would be that of Austin.

Aside from that, Jericho had little to say, and he was soon interrupted by his PPV challenger, Batista, who himself could really only muster that Jericho should "stop whining and crying", before General Manager Mike Adamle arrived on hand to say that both men would face the same wrestlers in gauntlet bouts later on in the evening. Jericho slapped Batista and left the ringside area, concluding one of the least meaningful segments the champion has featured in this year.

Match #2: John Bradshaw Layfield vs "Stone Cold" Steve Haas-tin

As if it wasn’t clear enough that WWE want Austin voted in for Cyber Sunday, Charlie Haas was back with his latest impression, a half-assed attempt at mimicking "The Rattlesnake".

Somehow made even more lame by Cole and Lawler’s forced laughing at the spectacle, at least it was short, as JBL won once again with the Clothesline From Hell.

Winner: JBL

Match #3: Rey Mysterio vs Snitsky

Labelled a "warm-up" match by Michael Cole, Mysterio faced another ill-fitting opponent here in Snitsky, just as he will on Sunday, when he takes on Kane. Why the WWE does not have a Junior Heavyweight division is, for me, one of the great mysteries of the current product.

With that in mind, it may be wishful thinking to believe that the PPV match will be any more interesting than this bout, which was concluded in less than two minutes, with a 619 and a springboard splash by Mysterio. And to think, fans will be paying for the privilege of watching.

Winner: Rey Mysterio

Match #4: The Miz & John Morrison vs CM Punk and Kofi Kingston

After the former Smackdown Tag Team Champions declared themselves superior to The Fabulous Freebirds, The Legion of Doom, and D-Generation X -- a claim that was hardly substantiated by the silence in the building -- they had the chance to prove it in the ring against CM Punk and Kofi Kingston, who thankfully did not refer to themselves as being greater than The Rock’n’Roll Express, The Hart Foundation or, heaven forbid, The Bushwhackers.

It was actually Punk and Kingston who put together the best Tag Team combinations in the early portion of the match, until Morrison caught Kingston from behind with a kick, as the supposed Jamaican stood on the second rope.

Miz and Morrison continued to work on Kingston during the break, until he finally caught Morrison with a boot, and tagged his partner. Punk struck with a splash in the corner and a bulldog, and then hit the Go 2 Sleep on Morrison, without realising that The Miz had got the tag. Miz then rolled up Punk for the three-count.

Winners: The Miz & John Morrison

Backstage, Mike Adamle noted that placing Jericho in a Gauntlet match would ultimately give the champion some self-respect, while at ringside, Beth Phoenix found it hard to contain her smiles as she accompanied Santino Marella to the ring, dressed in a "Hot Rod" T-Shirt and a kilt, yet wearing a wig somewhat reminiscent of The Honky Tonk Man, and made up to look like Goldust.

After denigrating "Rodney The Piper", "Goldendust" and "The Honky Tonky Man", a familiar "Hoooooooo!" signalled "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan’s entrance, and he demanded that Santino show some respect (a recurring theme, it seemed) to his generation. Not interested in doing so, Marella smashed Duggan with a guitar, part of which appeared to rip open a wound around Santino’s mouth, as he bled as he made his way up the ramp.

Match #5: Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase & Manu vs Cryme Tyme

Apparently scheduled to be a regular tag team match, therefore minus Manu, the three second-generation wrestlers simply entered the ring, and beat up on Shad and JTG. Leaving them laying, And that, inexplicably, was that.

Winners: No Contest

Match #6: The Gauntlet Matches

Chris Jericho and Batista both came to ringside for this "Adamle Original" concept, with the first opponent of Sunday’s title combatants being William Regal.

Bizarrely, as Batista started the match, Jericho stood on the outside, as if he were his Tag Team partner. And when "The Animal" took just seconds to defeat Regal with the Batista Bomb, Jericho capitalised by hitting the Codebreaker for the pinfall in even shorter fashion. The crowd booed in understandable apathy, but really, it was the silence that was deafening.

Jericho started the second bout, if you will, against Mark Henry, but failed to be as quick with "The World’s Strongest Man" as Batista had been with the 2008 King of the Ring. In frustration, he soon unhooked one of the turnbuckle pads, forcing referee Mike Chioda to turn his back to replace it. At that moment, Jericho introduced his title belt to Henry’s forehead, but Chioda turned around just in time to see the action, and disqualified Jericho. This made it easy for Batista to subdue Henry with a spinebuster.

Jericho once again started the third match, against Kane. He had a similar lack of success with "The Big Red Machine", and actually fared even worse, when Batista’s distraction ultimately allowed Kane to pin the champion with a boot to the face. In no time at all, the bell had rung for Batista’s turn, and he obliged by spearing Kane for the immediate pinfall, and the overall Gauntlet match win.

Winner: Batista

Final Thoughts: This week’s edition of Raw may have started out in unaccustomed fashion, but it ended with even more confusion and nonsense than usual.

The clear message to fans was that Jericho has little chance of defeating Batista at Cyber Sunday, in particular with Steve Austin as guest referee. But in telling that story, the WWE allowed Chris Jericho to look shockingly weak here, which can never be a positive for a champion. Batista, of course, had to look strong for his role as the challenger on Sunday, but what does it mean if he beats an apparently useless champion?

Tonight may have been the WWE’s "go home" show, but this edition of Raw is more likely to see fans flee elsewhere for entertainment on Sunday night.

Brian Elliott is a British journalist, who covered UFC 89 for the Associated Press in Birmingham, England on Saturday. He can’t help but think that even a small semblance of realism could go a long way in the WWE.