We kicked things off tonight with a singles match featuring Batista vs Santino Marella. As I write this I just finished broadcasting an edition of The Voice of Wrestling Radio Show where we had an in depth discussion of Santino’s current IC title reign. I said that WWE needs to start developing Santino’s wrestling game if this Honk-a-Meter storyline is going to prove the distance it may travel. Tonight, however, was just another example of creative re-inforcing the notion that Marella will never be seen as anything more than a mid-card comedy act. In what was a quick squash to setup heat for the #1 contender’s match between JBL and Batista at No Mercy, this was a pretty dull opener. The Brain Meter was not one of Santino’s finest bits of comedy. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening match 1.5 Stars.
We then head backstage where The Grish has HBK as a guest to find out who Michaels has in mind for a partner tonight. I loved the Hogan and Hart digs that he threw in, but loved it the most when he said that his partner is going to actually be someone who likes him. He has a sense of humor about his past, and is humble at the same time because he knows many times he wasn’t the guy in the right. In any case, the only guy I could think of that actually likes HBK is good old HHH, and since I’m writing this as the show is happening, I guess we’ll see.
Next up, in singles competition, we had The Miz vs JTG. This was a solid, fast paced match that saw some impressive offense from JTG. It always seemed to me like JTG had untapped ability in him, and it appears as though creative is finally letting Cryme Tyme explore their wrestling side as they’ve clearly established their entertaining side. Miz picked up the victory here and the interesting feud between these two teams continues. 6 Stars.
Following the match, we head backstage where Jamie Noble’s slow face turn continues as he asks Jillian to be his partner for an inter-gender tag match he had next. Noble’s a funny guy, and his charisma could connect with the fans as a face and I’m glad creative is giving it a try. Dolph Ziggler interrupted his meeting with Jillian and once again introduced himself to the viewers. This guy’s look is so redundant, and I’m not sure what kind of longevity he can really provide.
This took us right into our next match, Jamie Noble and Mickie James vs Katie Lea and Paul Burchill. The idea of booking James with Noble was very smart, as he got a good rub from her huge connection with the live crowd. The match itself was mediocre, with no remarkable highlights. 4.5 Stars.
We then cut to the back where the tag champs and Manu were in the apparent boiler room of the building tracking down their tag partner for the evening, Kane. This was typical Kane stuff, letting the guys know to stay out of his way or he’d leave them destroyed in the ring like Rey Mysterio. Eh.
Lance Cade’s new music then hit, which is non-descript, forgettable, and in general pretty terrible, and he proceeded to cut a decent promo on his win over HBK last week. I get what creative sees in this guy as he’s a solid worker and fits the WWE look, but his charisma is just downright non-existant. He’s dry and stiff, and I don’t see much of a difference between this “new” Cade and his days with Trevor Murdoch. This guy just doesn’t do much for me unless he’s with Jericho. Here’s to hoping that when HBK and Y2J’s feud ends, Jericho can work with Cade a little more on developing his own unique style.
It’s now time for our hour one main event, an 8 man tag team match featuring Rey Mysterio, CM Punk, Evan Bourne and Kofi Kingston vs Kane, Ted DiBiase, Cody Rhodes and Manu. This was a great match. It started out explosive, with “Team Rey” flying around the ring like a tornado. Things slowed down when Priceless and Kane worked over CM Punk before he could hot tag and pick the action up once again. Overall this was a fantastic TV match, and gave Kane and Rey good steam heading into No Mercy. 7.5 Stars.
Back from break and Raw General Manager Mike Adamle is in the ring to address the crowd. He announced that if Rey loses his match to Kane this Sunday, he will have to remove his mask as Kane did. This was interrupted by Randy Orton, who issued another warning to Adamle that he’d better be protected as he’s Raw’s hottest commodity. I love Orton’s character right now. It grays the heel/face relationship very well, as he is both cocky and accurate. He comes out and tells it like it is, and isn’t afraid to butt heads with faces OR heels. JBL then interrupted Orton and delivered a very energetic promo. I’m glad they acknowledged that JBL has been having a bad week as it would have made no sense if he didn’t mention the current national financial crisis. This prompted The Animal to hit the ring and answer JBL’s earlier attack. Nice segment. Lousy performance by Adamle as always, but overall well done by all the real talent.
It appears as if creative may be teasing a break-up between Beth and Santino as the next segment had him getting caught by The Glamazon speaking to what was most likely another woman. I think this would be a backwards idea. Creative needs to focus on Santino as a wrestler, rather than alter a good relationship angle between him and Beth.
Next up was a Diva’s tag match with Candice and Kelly Kelly vs Beth Phoenix and Jillian. This wasn’t a bad match, but I didn’t need to see it after the inter-gender match I saw just an hour before. Kelly is getting better, and if anyone, deserves the title shot more than Candice, who still looks horrible in the ring. I think creative is riding her return momentum right now, however I predict within a few months, assuming she doesn’t injure herself or kill someone, her push will come to a halt. 4.5 Stars.
I think I can officially call Haas the guilty pleasure segment for me. Although these segments are a classic example of tongue-in-cheek wrestling humor, they make me laugh. I’ll take them over the Lance Storm impression he usually does week in and week out. The Great Charli was fun, and although it didn’t top his Mr. Perfect segment from last week, I enjoyed the bit. The real travesty in this segment was Deuce, who may not get off easy by joining the “future endeavors” club. It looks like he might become the resident jobber on Raw now that Haas is working with some type of regular gimmick. The match was Charlie Haas vs Deuce, and although the emphasis was on the comedy, I’d like to see Haas get to flex his wrestling muscles a bit more. 3 Stars.
It’s now time for our main event of the evening, a tag match featuring the return of Degeneration-X vs Chris Jericho and Lance Cade. Michael Cole was horrible tonight. First, he billed this match as “legendary” before he even knew who Michaels’ tag partner was. Then once DX’s music hit, he acted like Michaels was resurrecting God as his partner. Not that we haven’t seen that before, because unfortunately we have, but come on Michael. There is a fine line between selling the product to the audience and raving like a rabid used car salesman. All this said, this was a fun way to end the night. Seeing DX whoop a little ass from time to time is a treat for me, and I thought it was a nice touch considering this was a “go-home” edition of Monday Night Raw. 5.5 Stars.
Overall, I enjoyed Raw tonight. If this had been a Raw after a PPV, I’d be disappointed, but the main purpose of this show was to sell both No Mercy this Sunday and Smackdown’s MyNetwork debut this Friday night. That said I was surprised and delighted this show wasn’t a two hour commercial. It lacked in wrestling, but showcased a couple solid match ups and good build heading into the PPV this Sunday night. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give Monday Night Raw 5.5 Stars.
-I really hate Kane’s “evil” laugh. It sounds like a cheesy haunted house sound effect at Disneyland.
-Speaking of Kane, if I have to hear Cole refer to him as “conflicted” one more time, I’m going to conflict somebody’s face by beating them with my sideburns.
-Jillian’s boobs have to stop. I mean there’s big, then there’s absurd. Those things are a liability; if she’s wrestling a poor swimmer someone could drown.
-I like Manu. His look is too similar to Umaga’s, which I think should change a bit, but he’s an athletic guy for his size.
-There’s a lot happening on Raw right now, new talent debuts along with the talent exchange deal with ECW is expanding the roster week by week. I really hope Kofi Kingston doesn’t get lost in this large shuffle.
Thanks for reading, and as always, please send any and all feedback to VOWNick@gmail.com.
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