The Oratory RAW Review Crew: 10/06/03
Not a whole lot to be said about last night's show, but I'll make an effort to say something worthwhile once again. RAW seems to be floating along on auto-pilot this month, without the deadline of a brand-exclusive PPV to build towards in the near future or the motivation to create a PPV-quality show like Smackdown has presented on their off months. It's really disheartening, actually, to see that instead of using the PPV split as an excuse to give away more compelling TV like their Thursday night sister, RAW's instead chosen to rest on their laurels during the "time off" and spit out pointless goo. Even though Smackdown's the show with the higher McMahon-to-Superstar ratio, and they never cease to promote Vince and Steph as main attractions, they still know how to deliver with a good card here and there, a more motivated roster and a much more appealing World Title scene.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Again. I seem to be pretty good at that. I'm not here to discuss the faults of RAW's last six months of television, I'm here to tell you what I thought about what I saw last night.
The whole Kane angle in general is just not floating my boat any more. I'll admit, I was among the many to lose their freaking minds this past summer, when the red machine turned on Mrs. Personality herself, Linda McMahon, but in hindsight I'd say that had as much to do with Linda McMahon taking a big bump as it did with Kane's new character and direction. They've really had some accidental moments of brightness with the ragin' red pyro since removing his mask, but it's all just leading to nowhere once again. His feud with Shane outlived its usefulness before the two of them even met in the ring, as the bookers insisted on placing Shane into a quick match with Eric Bischoff immediately upon his return, killing the feud's momentum right out of the gates. His mini-feud with the Hurricane isn't helping anyone's cause, since Kane's just treading water and the Hurricane's just reaffirming his stance as a world class jobber to the stars. And good lord, his match last night with Rosey was the pits. These are two guys so mired in bad gimmicks and unbelievable storylines that they've almost completely lost touch with their games in-ring, which is really supposed to be the ultimate proving grounds when all the dust has settled. If that isn't a fucking glaring signal that some of the federation's priorities are mixed up, I don't know what is.
Yeah, and then Shane drove the point home (no pun intended) by feeding Kane to the side of a tractor-trailer. God almighty, do these guys need it SPELLED OUT for them? This is what's KILLING THE FEDERATION. This is not going to regain your viewership. This is just completely stupid television. It's all the evidence non-fans need that they aren't missing anything by skipping out on pro wrestling. Ed Wood would've turned away these scripts.
The live crowd did get a chuckle out of me by starting up a bored "holy shit" chant after the wreck, though.
It was sad to watch the Lita / Gail match, as I've seen much better from both of them under different circumstances. They were all over the place in there, and served up one of the weakest women's matches we've seen on RAW in months. That's allright, though. Even Chris Benoit has a bad match here and there, the women's division still kicks ass right now.
I liked the old Scott Steiner as much as the other guy, but despite Bischoff's claims, the guy we saw out there last night wasn't him. When he was WCW's last long-standing world champion, there was a certain drive to everything he did. You could tell that, despite the dire surroundings, he was trying his damndest to make his mark on the business. And, through a run that lasted nearly half a year, Steiner was successful. He wasn't the greatest WCW champ of all time, but he was without question a competant, solid, credible champ. Since coming to WWE, that integral element of desire has been lost. Scott doesn't seem to care what he's doing any more, he's throwing punches but his heart's not in it. He's trying to act like his "off the cuff" comments on the microphone haven't been scripted and represent his true feelings, but it's just not working. And yeah, he didn't really convince me otherwise during his unmotivated, empty-value match against Spike Dudley last night.
I really liked what I saw during the Storm / Van Dam vs. Jericho / Christian match, though the setup itself left me wondering the same thing I wonder about all insanely convoluted wrestling turns, twists and shifts; how the hell could it have honestly been put together? What, did Jericho just go around backstage, grab a couple people, take them out to the ring and surprise them by asking "What don't you like about Stone Cold?" Did Lance Storm take this opportunity to make a stand for himself, against the obvious three-on-one odds? Did he conspire with RVD to put the whole thing together? I suppose I should just let my mind shut off to these things during the program, I should "suspend my disbelief," but that's just something I can't do. It's not in my nature, and I'd wager it's not in the nature of more than a handful of other fans. Sure, that's a cliche that's almost as old as the sport itself, not something Vince McMahon and his WWE have only recently introduced. It's still something that bothered me about this segment.
I'm glad to see all four of these guys active in a somewhat notable slot on the card. Mix and match any of them in a singles match and you're almost guaranteed a quality result. Personally, I'm dying to see a rejuvination of the brief feud Storm and Van Dam shared years ago in ECW, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards at the moment. For a TV match, this was a very solid get-together, and I can only hope it's the tip of the iceberg in that regard.
After that momentary rush of excitement, the show started to drag once again. Flair / Orton vs. Cade / Jindrak wasn't a BAD match per se... I guess it was just incomprehensibly booked and altogether flat from the very beginning. Why Flair is playing whipping boy to everyone under the WWE banner is a question that needs to be seriously addressed, especially considering his obvious potential as a mouthpiece / mentor for any one of the younger guys in the federation. I suppose that's what the writers think they're doing with him, pairing him off with Orton week after week and allowing the young legend killer the chance to mature before going full throttle with him, but it's not turning out that way. Instead of lending wisdom to, putting words in the mouth of and helping to guide the inexperienced rookie, Flair's doing the bulk of the wrestling for his team, playing the weak link and only occasionally interacting with his partner outside of the ring. I can't fathom how Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade were even jokingly considered as physical threats to a guy like Flair, let alone how the idea was pitched for them to have him put away before Orton slid in the ring and made the finish for him. I suppose these are gears churning towards Orton's eventual break from Evolution, which I don't think is a good idea anyway.
I honestly didn't think the main event was nearly as bad as it could've been. You knew right off the bat that this wasn't going to be a thing of beauty, but the guys played their roles better than I would have expected and actually managed to avoid a rap as the worst match of the night. This most definitely wasn't the best match I've ever seen on free TV, but it sure as hell wasn't the worst, as I've heard more than one person claim around the net. Henry was working hard to establish himself for the first few minutes of the match, and proved he has taken some steps forward in the ring since his latest injury.
I like where they're going with the "Goldberg as paranoid champion" storyline, even if it DOES involve Triple H's lame Ted Dibiase impression, and I think his "accidental" spear of Shawn Michaels is leading toward something much bigger in the near future. Goldberg didn't show the slightest concern for HBK after the match, and even glared at him on his way to a top rope celebration as if to indicate it wasn't an unhappy accident after all.
This whole episode was lukewarm. It showed signs of going straight-up hot and cold, from the undeniable anal leakage of the Kane-Shane-LimoSpear segment to the very promising little startup between RVD, Christian, Jericho and Storm. Without question, the show's still driving without a hand on the steering wheel, but at least it's on an open stretch of road for the time being. This wasn't all crap.
Score: 3.65 / 10