To begin with, how is this going to keep people watching the show when the “code word” does not change throughout the evening? All I have to do is flip on Raw at the top of hour one, see that the code is WWE Universe, and then shut off the show and go do whatever I’d like. If I keep my cell on me to see if Vince will call then I’m all set. Were we supposed to care about watching the people on the live broadcast answer their phones? Imagine paying for a ticket to see that event live only to have to sit there and watch Vince and “Gabe” give money to someone other than you. It was, as most of the live fans were shouting, completely boring. This is a cheap way to get viewers to watch your show. What happens when the giveaway is over? Is everyone expected to continue watching if nothing else changes? Are all the “new” fans that are supposed to start watching Raw gonna keep watching now that the “mon-ay” is gone? Granted the draft will have happened since then but this mania nonsense took up so much of the show tonight that I doubt storylines will be of much interest by then. In all, I hope this thing ends as quickly as possible, because this was not a wrestling show tonight, it was a poorly produced lottery commercial.
Our first actual wrestling match of the evening came in the form of Mr. Kennedy vs Paul Burchill. Now here’s a feud that has built up nicely over the past couple weeks only to see the face pin the heel in their first singles match in under 4 minutes. How does this effectively establish Burchill as a credible wrestler let alone a credible opponent to Kennedy? If they’re going to continue this, then we need to see much more out of Burchill so that we anticipate the matches he has down the road with Kennedy and/or whoever he wrestles. But I guess none of that’s important since tonight’s “all about the money.” Out of a possible 9 stars, I give this opening bout 4 stars.
After our first bit of McMahon bribing it’s time for a non-title bout with Mickie James taking on Beth Phoenix. Surprise! Another 2 and a half minute match that saw Mickie get the win after a Thesz press and a pin. Melina runs-in and attacks Beth after the match to remind us that she is still on the hunt for Phoenix and possibly the Women’s Championship. 3 Stars.
Next up Vince attempts to get creative with his money shilling scheme by having Charlie Haas kiss two Divas to award someone $125,000. The first Diva is Maria, who looks hotter than ever, which means that, predictably, the second Diva has to be…Mae Young! The money is given to a fan and the idiocy is temporarily put on hold.
The hour one main event is up next with John Cena going one-on-one with JBL. The WWE Champion, Triple H, joins Lawler and Ross at ringside and the matchup is underway. This is a decent bout, with JBL controlling most of the match which generally means Cena will draw his power from the sun, or Hulk up, or call upon the power of Grayskull to overcome the odds and win. Sure enough he did after a quick roll-up and Cena gets the 1,2,3 over JBL for the 300th time in the past 2 months. 5.5 Stars
Vince introduces the Highlight Reel after another money giveaway and it’s time for what I thought was actually a great part of the show. Y2J welcomes Shawn Michaels as his guest on the Reel tonight and then proceeds to tell him and the live crowd that no matter what HBK does the people will always love him. He calls him a liar and a pathetic little worm before attacking him abruptly and flooring him with a low-blow. He then sends Michaels head first through the Jeritron and leaves him a mess on the ring floor. I really like the way this is playing out between these two guys and the Jeritron spot looked vicious. I am assuming Jericho is now a full-fledged heel, and although I liked it better when he was blurring the face/heel lines, this is a feud that should continue for awhile and see some classic matches between two outstanding talents.
Back from break and it’s time for a non-title tag team match featuring Hardcore Holly and Cody Rhodes vs Snitsky and Umaga. Umaga took out Rhodes with an incredible face-first black hole slam followed by a Samoan Spike to get a pinfall over the rookie. It seems only logical that Snitsky and Umaga would get the title shot at Night of Champions as they basically decimated Holly and Rhodes, but Ted DiBiase Jr and his yet-to-be-named partner are the apparent number one contenders. Another short, uneventful match. 4 Stars.
Time for more agony, but this time it’s the tag team of Vince’s money and Jillian Hall’s singing vs the viewing public. A lame sketch that sees Vince give $2 to some poor woman on the phone, and that leads us into our next match, Carlito and Santino vs Cryme Tyme. Here’s my contest: guess how long this match was and you win your two hours back from last night. Did you say 3 minutes? Hooray, you win! This was a lousy match that saw Santino bumble around the ring before getting pinned by Shad and suffering his 3,537th loss in a row. 3 Stars.
It’s finally time for our main event of the evening, Triple H vs Jeff Hardy in a non-title singles match. John Cena joins Lawler and Ross at the announce table this time as the two wrestlers in the ring have a solid main event match. I’m not sure what they’re doing with Hardy right now as it appears he will be sitting out of Night of Champions as it looks to be Cena vs HHH in a singles match at the PPV. Although I like the idea of the match itself between these two, as I know they can have a great outing, I don’t like how the match is being billed as “the best vs the best.” Cena is far from the best that Raw has, and I’m sure most people would rather see someone like Hardy in is spot. As WWE figures out what to do in the wake of Orton’s injury, I hope Jeff Hardy is mixed into the title picture following the PPV, because I don’t want to see a prolonged feud between HHH and Cena. The match between Hardy and HHH tonight, however, was solid and I give it 6 stars.
Overall, this was clearly a poor edition of Monday Night Raw. The money gimmick is tired and hardly innovative, and panders to the crowd instead of appealing to its intelligence. Factoring in this 2 hour-spanning giveaway, I give tonight’s edition of Raw 3.5 out of 9 Stars.
-Santino’s balancing on a thin wire right now. He’s talented on the mic, of course, but one more loss and people are just going to give up on him. The guy needs to be pushed as some kind of credible athlete.
-Then of course there’s Carlito. Need I say more? Hey Carlito, what do you call a wrestling promotion that rhymes with DNA? Go there.
-Line of the night: “Snitsky has a face only a fist could love.”- The King.
-HBK is great, don’t get me wrong. But the constant colored wife-beaters? Tonight he was HB-Gay.
-Why was JR talking to Lillian about her measurements before the show?
-Would you rather have the $2 dollars that the girl won or Charlie Haas’ career? I’d take the money.
Thanks as always for reading, and please send all of your feedback to WZNick@hotmail.com