Well, now that we have all the technical jargon out of the way, let’s jump into my first review, which is of WWE Raw from 5-5-08, emanating live from Toronto, Canada, which I have appropriately titled, “Time To Turn the Lights Out On William Regal.” We begin tonight with Vince McMahon making his way to the entrance ramp in order to justify William Regal’s “plug pulling” actions from Raw last week. What McMahon was actually doing, however, was justifying his OWN actions, and was personally responding to all of the negative criticism that WWE received throughout last week. In my mind, this wasn’t the best way to open the show, as it merely foreshadowed more of the same type of behavior from Regal for this week’s show.
Up next we have “King” Regal himself coming to the ring to introduce us to the theme of the evening: Irritate the fans into respecting him. After demanding that the fans respect him by threatening to have an entire night of what effectively would be “dark matches,” Kennedy comes out to confront the GM and challenge him once again to a match. After HHH comes out and warns Regal not to start a war with him, Regal announces that the main event for the evening will be the entire ECW roster against the team of Kennedy and HHH. In my opinion, THIS is how you throw your weight around as a general manager. Put your enemies in impossible situations, draw heat in the process, and do it without cheating the fans of what they’ve paid to see. By threatening to turn out the lights, by cutting the raw feed before the end of a main event, you are taking AWAY from the fans. You can achieve the same heat-generating result by adding interest instead of taking it away. Making the main event tonight was a positive step for the show, unfortunately, it would be countered with some idiotic moves down the line.
Back from commercial break and it’s time for our first match of the evening. A lumberjack match pitting Mickie James against the “Glamazon” Beth Phoenix for the Women’s championship. This was a decent contest, but surprisingly a semi-sloppy match. Considering these two talents are amongst the best in the women’s division, I expected more from them, but the result was a descent opening women’s match which saw Mickie James get the win after Melina accidentally clocked Phoenix with her shoe. Out of a possible 9 stars, I will give this opening bout 5 stars.
Our next contest sees the new “team” of Paul Burchill and Katie Lea taking on a Toronto native jobber by the name of John Cutler. Business “picked up” a little when Regal came out to announce that Jim Ross was to step aside as Mike Adamle would be doing commentary for this match alongside Jerry Lawler. It’s now apparent what WWE is trying to do with Adamle, and only time will tell if it can work the way WWE seemingly wants it to. They are attempting to create a heel commentator here, but they’re going about it in a rather unconventional way. Instead of having him go the usual route of trashing the fans and rooting for the heel in a match, or instead of actually working with Adamle to improve his skills, WWE is PLAYING UP his clear lack of play-by-play ability. Adamle’s commentary tonight was chalk full of ridiculous lines, ignorant wrestling calls, and general idiotic rhetoric. All of this was met with curiosity and confusion by Lawler, and Adamle seemed to care none the less, and furthermore, seemed completely unaware of his poor performance. This is exactly the direction WWE is committed to with Adamle, and to be honest, it sparked my interest tonight. WWE is acknowledging their mistake with Mike, and instead of just scrapping it, they are using it. It’s a risk, but we’ll see if it pays off.
Next up we have the Tag Team champions The Miz and John Morrison teaming up to take on the team of Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels. I really like what WWE is doing with these two right now. They are blurring the heel/face line with Jericho, having him wrestle as a babyface, but behave more like a heel when it comes to his attitude towards other wrestlers, in this case, HBK. They are treating Michaels in a similar way by keeping his leg injury a mystery to both the fans and Y2J. One could choose to believe HBK, but he’s clearly favoring the wrong leg when he’s moving, so it justifies Jericho’s claim that HBK is faking this whole issue. The match itself was decent, with a nice finish that saw a superkick followed by a lionsault for the 1,2,3 on Morrison. Out of a possible 9 stars, I will give this match 5 stars.
We come back from commercial break and are underway with the match that I was most looking forward to tonight, CM Punk taking on former WWE champ Randy Orton. After a a few minutes of great wrestling from both superstars, which is not surprising, we actually are surprised with more creative stupidity in the form of Regal turning out the lights and declaring that the match is officially over. Stop this nonsense. It’s irritating, it’s cheap, it will never get over, and it draws the kind of heat that makes you change the channel if you don’t throw your TV out the window first. Don’t break the cardinal rule of generating heat which is to sacrifice good in-ring wrestling for the sake of getting someone over as a heel. Out of a possible 9 stars I give this match 3 stars.
Luckily this stupidity was followed by the most entertaining segment of the night, Carlito’s Cabana with your special guest, Rowdy Roddy Piper. In a nutshell, or more appropriately, a coconut shell, Piper telling Santino “Martini” that he needed a designated driver was brilliant. Line of the month in my opinion. It was risky, it was edgy, it was topical, and just plain funny. It was quintessential Piper.
I suppose it’s always best to follow comedy with distaste, so we got that next in the form of JBL vs DH Smith. JBL takes a risk here, much like Piper, but with minimal success. Saying that “your Daddy can’t help you” was a bit unnecessary. People that know me know that I’m not easily offended (I deal with Chris Cash every week so I must have thick skin) and I wasn’t necessarily offended by what JBL said, but more or less thought it didn’t need to be there. Moving along, however, JBL gave us an apparent preview of his match with John Cena at Judgment Day by destroying DH Smith a series of punches, kicks, and the deadly clothesline from Hell. As Tazz would say, “it’s not pretty joey, but it’s effective. The clothesline from Hell by John Cena, I mean JBL, is off the chain!” Out of 9 stars I give this match 4 stars.
After a pep-talk to the entire ECW roster by GM William Regal, our main event begins with Kennedy and HHH teaming up to take on all 14 superstars. Regal tells the roster that he will be disappointed in them if they don’t come up with a victory here, but surprisingly doesn’t threaten to have the ring ropes removed for all their matches or make the live audience watch the show while standing on their heads. The match however, was a solid main event. It’s great to have Kennedy back in the ring, and it’s refreshing to see him and HHH tag together in the main event. In the end, the match saw Chavo Guerrero getting the pin over Kennedy after hitting the frog splash. HHH proceeded to take out most of the ECW team with a steel chair before the lights went out….and came back on to the tune of an RKO. Orton stands above HHH as the show fades to black (by the crew in the truck by the way, not Regal). Out of a possible 9 stars, I will give this main event matchup 6 stars.
Overall I thought this show was mediocre. It had it’s moments of good in-ring wrestling and entertaining segments, but nothing stood out as excellent with the exception of Piper’s appearance. Out of a possible 9 stars, I give tonight’s edition of Monday Night Raw a 5. WWE really needs to focus their attention on the William Regal angle at this point, because if they continue to screw the fans with cheap tricks like they did two weeks in a row now, people will tune out. Why? Because turning the lights out means you wouldn’t have seen anything anyway. Thanks for checking out my debut column here at Wrestlezone, and as always, you can hear me live every Monday night on the Voice of Wrestling, from 7-9pm EST. Until tomorrow night’s review of ECW on Sci-Fi, goodnight everyone.
If you have any comments or questions, please feel free to email me at WZNick@hotmail.com