The Oratory RAW Review Crew: 01/06/03
I really liked the way they kicked this show off. Then again, I'm a big fan of seeing the heels dominate in a convincing manner, and that's definitely what went down right here. Well... let me rephrase that. I liked the way this was booked. The execution left a lot to be desired. Batista's just failing over and over again, no matter where they throw him into the mix. He was convincing and promising when he kicked the living hell out of Spike several weeks ago, but shit... I bet I could look pretty menacing facing Spike Dudley, too. He's willing to bend himself six ways from Sunday if it'll get somebody else a little bit more over. He's the guy they feed to someone if they want them to look like the hand of god. The other two Dudleys... aren't. I like what they wanted to get across here, but it fell flat on its face.
Nice follow through, though, with Storm and Regal picking off what meat was left on Bubba and D-Von's bones. That sharpshooter kicks so much ass, I doubt I'll ever get tired of seeing it. Oh, and kickass slow-motion replay of Bubba doing a blade job. Now all the kids at home know to slide your forehead across the razor, not the razor across your forehead.
I could've lived without the women's match this week. I really dig Victoria's music, though.
Man, this Michaels / Jericho feud is MONEY. Their characters play so well off of one another; both cocky, arrogant bastards. They've both done some impressive shit, and I think this whole competition deal could really, really kick. Think about it; Jericho and Michaels, two guys who will doubtlessly go down in history, trying their best to outdo each other every step of the way. Here's hoping they give this the slow burn it deserves, and don't just hotshot it at the Rumble and move both guys on to something else. I'm loving every minute of it.
Randy Orton was priceless, too, kicking Michaels until he realized he was supposed to have an injured shoulder. Then gripping it, grimacing and trying to sell us on the whole ordeal. I like this guy...
GREAT old school tag match between Regal & Storm and Booker & Goldust. Both teams came off really strong, with several close nearfalls, and the heels got as clean a victory as we're likely to see from them. It always bothered me how it's ok for the faces to use a chair and win the match, but when the heels start to do the same it's meant to be so disgusting and terrible. So Regal uses brass knuckles... hell, 90% of the Hardys' wins in 2001 came following interference from Lita. So long as the ref doesn't see it, everything's fair. These two deserve the belts, they're on a big winning streak, they're fresh and they can put on a great match. I can't think of anybody else I'd like to see holding the gold.
Chris Nowinski wasn't so impressive last night. But then, that's what happens when you're thrown into something without much rhyme or reason. Then again, I guess it's ok to have a random match here or there. Test is dead weight, watching his gimmick start to age with each passing day. That's the problem with banking your entire success on a single joke. It's what would've happened if Mankind had brought out Socko before and after every match, spent each one of his interviews reminding us of Socko's presence, and traded in his sweatpants for a glamorous, airbrushed portrait of Socko on wrestling tights. Used sparingly, a joke can be a nice little addition to a successful formula. Overdone, that same joke can kill your heat faster than you can say the words "Katie Vick."
I don't have any illusions about the way Steiner / HHH will turn out at the Rumble. With that said, I think the way they're handling the build is refreshing and worthwhile even if it's not going to break down any new walls. We've become so used to matches built solely around physicality, traded wins in tag matches and assaults from behind that a calm build like this seems almost out of place. Look at the bright side; they're promoting Steiner's biggest plus (his build), while downplaying his biggest minus (his conditioning). Triple H is holding his own, even if he doesn't look like a World Champion, and both guys look appear to have a legitimate shot at winning it. I'll take that over ridiculous soap opera storylines any day.
There's no reason in the world why Rob Van Dam isn't holding the RAW World Title right now. I'm not his biggest supporter, but I've got eyes and ears. I can put two and two together. Nobody on the roster is quite as over as RVD, and absolutely nobody looks as much like a champion right now as he does. He's hungrier than the rest of the team, leaner. He can move around the ring, and looks like he's fighting every match as if his life depends on it. If they don't take advantage of the situation soon he'll either give up hope, lose his heat or both. Then we'll have TWO Jeff Hardys on the roster.
Pretty good main event, though I didn't care for it as much as I did the tag title match. Still, it was cool as hell to see HBK hit Randy Orton with some chin music. I swear, every time he hits that it's like this monumental passing of the torch. Orton will be able to tell his grandkids "Hey... I took a superkick from Shawn Michaels." And the crowd went home happy with the finish.
All in all, a somewhat uninspired RAW. I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it... it was just there. Some nice steps forward for the Jericho / Michaels feud, and mega points for putting the belts on Regal and Storm, so I'll call this above average and be done with it.
Score: 5.6 / 10