The Oratory RAW Review Crew: 12/17/02
Awww yeah... the day I'd been looking forward to for weeks had finally arrived. It was Monday night, I'd left work an hour early, and I was hauling ass down I-4, desperate to make it to Orlando before the show got started. Yeah, RAW was live from O-town... no, the other O-Town... and I was there, live and in person, to take it all in.
I had some pretty rule seats, too, despite Ticketmaster.com's attempts to ensure otherwise. Every time I need to get tickets the minute they go on sale, I forget how useless their online purchasing system really is. Wound up four rows up from the floor, which was pretty much ideal. The gentleman in front of me had several signs, but he used them sparingly and appropriately so I didn't really mind.
Before the show started, the sign police made their rounds. On their shit list this time around were signs that said "suck" at any point, (which included the word "suckah") as well as anything making reference to testicles. Certainly, a few snuck past their wary eyes, but most were taken before the show went on-air. Buncha savages in this town...
The mixed tag kicked things off for us, with Victoria debuting her new entrance video. It appeared to be some bizarre mix of Faith No More's video for Epic, (you know, with the eyeball in the hand that shot green liquid?) a poor man's Exorcist (complete with spinning head and hair that mysteriously doesn't move below the shoulders) and a home video from some Catholic schoolgirls' retreat. From where I sat things never really clicked until the end, when Test kicked Steven Richards's head several rows into the cheap seats. Either Trish is incredibly short, or Test and Stacy are both over seven foot.
I heard the words "Triple H appreciation night" and instantly feared for the worst. Fortunately, they kept the appreciation confined to a short segment at the end of the show and didn't spread it across the entire two hours. Despite being overly predictable, I think the whole deal with Steiner and Trips feuding over the main event timeslot played out well as the night progressed.
Maven's vanilla act didn't cut it with the live audience, who enjoyed his entrance music and died soon after. Nowinski, meanwhile, had a dedicated yet small patch of followers (mostly in my section, believe it or not) chanting his name. We even tried getting a "Harvard" chant off the ground, when the rest of the arena laid off their "Harvard sucks" mantra, but it didn't fly. I really like Nowinski. Alongside Eddy and Chavo, he's one of the only true heels in the business today. He doesn't worry about looking cool or invulnerable, he worries about staying strictly in character. That's a tremendous asset at this point, and I'm glad he went over here.
I LOVED seeing the Jericho / Michaels confrontation. Y2J was on all night long, and started the ball rolling here. Unfortunately, I fear for how this whole thing will pay off given his track record. He's had feuds that started off this superbly in the past opposite ALL the greats; Rock, Austin, Flair, Hogan, Triple H, Benoit... yet the vast majority of them have either come up short during the payoff or floated off into nothingness without a proper blowoff. He's been outstanding at hooking us right from the get-go, and terrible at making it into something truly legendary. I pray that's not the case here, as I want the guy to succeed more than anything else, but still can't shake that feeling. An outstanding segment that gave me nothing but hope for the future. I love that HBK is around again.
Alongside Jericho, Goldust was also completely on this past Monday night. While I haven't really come to grips with his style in the ring yet, I can't help but admit he's perfect opposing Christian. They've both got the same offbeat style to their promos, simultaneously intense and hilarious, and they match up well in the ring. Good match that merits another. I was pleasantly surprised.
Rob Van Dam was over beyond belief Monday night. Seriously, three quarters of the arena was there for the sole purpose of seeing Mr. Monday Night in action. They're completely out of their minds for wasting these opportunities while he's so hot. While I'm not his biggest fan, I do recognize that he can hold his own in certain situations, and that when you're in the kind of hole the WWE is in, you MUST strike when the iron's this hot. To finish this match off without a frog splash was sacrilege to the live audience... a very bad sign.
I didn't mind D-Lo's new angle so much. If I were the kind of person who gets offended by this kind of stuff, maybe it would have bothered me. But I'm not and it didn't. I'm a big fan of realistic angles, and no matter how ugly the issue is, it's still as realistic as they come. Not sure how they'll pay it off, but they've got my attention for the moment.
As for the main event slot, I thought it played off beautifully. Steiner will be the fan favorite during his first tour, whether they want him to be or not, so pairing him off with the heel World Champ is a sweet idea by my book. I wish they'd have held off on the match until Wrestlemania, but I'll take it at the Rumble if that's when they're gonna give it to us. The audience was wildly pro-Steiner throughout the night, and went nuts when it appeared he'd get a piece of Triple H right then and there. I found the closing sequence, with Steiner forcing Hunter out of the ring nose-to-nose, to be totally sweet. I loved it, and I'm excited about the feud even if the matches won't be anything to write home about.
Absolutely nothing happened after the cameras quit rolling, which was a disappointement. Otherwise, I had a blast. Several fresh feuds were either launched or hinted towards, we're seeing some new faces and Triple H kept appearances to a minimum. Thank you sir, may I have another...?
Score: 7.5 / 10