There are two things that are certain coming off the most recent edition of Raw.
First, if you like storylines, showmanship and fun, you absolutely loved this episode. In fact, if you’re in this group, this was probably one of the best Raw episodes in recent memory.
Second, if you like match time, you hated this episode. Granted I wasn’t timing things, but there was probably about a quarter of the show actually spent on matches.
Where do I stand? Well, to be honest, the “kid at heart” came out in me tonight and I enjoyed the hell out of the show. Yes, I like the ring time. But give me enough showmanship, and you can make up for shorting me in the ring.
The only thing that would have made this episode better for me in the showmanship category was for Ric Flair to come down to that ring and do one of his famous promos.
But I digress, on with the critique!
This show was jam-packed with great Headliner moments.
First, we get Degeneration X back for a “one-time-only” match. But first, the dynamic duo put on one hell of a show to start off the night – and man was the crowd into it.
HHH and HBK came out and played the crowd, and just as The Game was about to hit “let’s get ready toâ<80>¦” he was interrupted by, of all things, Hornswoggle’s theme. Out came the little guy, thrilled to be in the same ring as DX and even giving a few crotch chops.
HHH tried to discourage him, but Hornswoggle would not be swayed. HBK even broke out a run sheet, or script, showing that Horny wasn’t due to be out yet. However, after “taking down” HBK with an arm drag of locking in a leg scissor hold on him, HBK made a “judgment call.” For tonight, he’s in.
With HHH still not convinced, Hornswoggle told them he wouldn’t go back under the ring because there was a monster. HBK checked, said it was all clear, but then was dragged under the ring – emerging shortly with worms hanging from his mouth.
Enter The Boogeyman, who does his gyrating dance in the ring as Hornswoggle hides behind HHH. The Game asks Boogey, “Can I help you?” The reply: “I’m the Boogeyman, and I’m coming to â<80>¦ see if I can join DX.” Michaels makes another executive decision, he’s in too.
Hunter starts with the mic work again, but this time is interrupted by the music of Great Khali, who also appears to want to join DX. Didn’t see that one coming. Coach enters and says he’s “shutting this nonsense down,” but HHH tells Khali’s interpreter that Coach said something vile about him backstage. Add one giant chop to coach, who actually runs afterward and is pursued by an angry giant.
Down to original DX due in the ring now, HHH finally gets out his “Let’s get ready to Suck It!”
Oh, but DX wasn’t the only appearance on Raw that hadn’t been seen for a while. Stone Cold Steve Austin was also on scene to address the weeks of ribbing from Santino Marella over Austin’s movie, The Condemned.
After coming out to the ring to assure everyone that Stone Cold would not be there tonight, Marella took more stabs at Austin and even at the movie’s director who was at ringside. It wasn’t long before that so-popular sound of glass breaking was heard, and out comes SCSA.
Austin actually began by politely introducing himself, then diving into the “misquotes” Marella had been using and educating the Italian on the proper use of the language. (e.g. “can of whoop ass” rather than “ass whip.”) He then asked Marella if he’d even watched the movie, to which he replied he had, and nearly vomited because of the violence.
SC told Marella that he could appreciate the fact that he’s got his own opinion, but six straight weeks of listening to him run his mouth was too much. But an “olive branch” was extended as Austin invited him to drink a couple of beers with him and shake hands. Marella refused, saying he preferred red wine, the drink of a person with culture.
Austin then offered him a copy of The Condemned on DVD, but Marella dropped it and stepped on it like one would to put out a discarded cigarette. That’s it for the olive branch, big stunner from Austin, who then says “I’m not a doctor, but that sumabitch looks thirsty to me!”
In comes Austin moments later with a Budweiser truck complete with beer-loaded fire hose, and the deluge ensued soaking Marella at first and eventually Maria, who appeared to have a wardrobe malfunction as a result.
It may be hard to find Downsiders in such a fun episode, but there certainly were a few.
First on the list has to be the tag-team match between The World’s Greatest Tag Team and the duo of Super Crazy and Hacksaw Jim Duggan. I mean, come on. This was pathetic. First, we have to start with Duggan and Crazy taking turns shouting “Si!” and “Ho!” Then the match finally started, and it was if Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas were using Super Crazy to see if they could break the record for most successive number of scoop slams in a match. Crazy finally rolled through another slam attempt and got the pin, and Hacksaw jumped in to keep Crazy from being attacked. Bleh.
Another Downsider I’m going to chalk up this week is the overall match time. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed this episode and think it was one of the better Raw episodes I’ve seen in some time. But all that showmanship has to cut into something, right?
This was evident by two matches that no
Kelly Kelly took on Beth Phoenix, who destroyed the blonde bombshell in probably 20 seconds at most. Carlito was also out for a match against a wrestler named “Joey,” but Carlito decided that wasn’t cool and found a replacement, Snitsky, who also destroyed his opponent in perhaps 20 to 30 seconds. That one had a fun ending, however, as Carlito got a big boot from Snitsky as he raised the big guy’s hand in victory.
Although I would have loved seeing this match go longer, I’m giving this night’s High-flier distinction to the tag match involving Jeff Hardy and Rey Mysterio vs. Mr. Kennedy and Finlay. Right away I can tell you that Hardy and Mysterio worked well together, and made for a team I’d like to see again in the future.
Finlay and Hardy started things off, with Finlay being the first to get the upper hand with an arm bar that even took Hardy down for a pin attempt. More take-downs ensued and, once back up, Finlay shoved Hardy to promptly delivered a hard slap to the Irishman. Kennedy then shoved Hardy from behind, and Finlay delivered a blow that sent Hardy out of the ring. The heels appeared to be ready to double team Hardy on the outside, but disagreement between them saw the pair nose-to-nose as we went to the first break.
They apparently resolved their differences, and we returned to see Kennedy working on Rey. Mysterio then mounted a flurry of offense, including a catapult over the top rope, a Hurricanrana and a Senton, but Kennedy finally got Mysterio down with a low drop kick. In came Finlay, who promptly focused on Mysterio’s knee, slamming him a couple of times so the knee fell across the bottom rope and locking in a half Boston crab.
Rey crawled to try and escape the hold, but Finlay cheap shotted Hardy who charged in and provided a distraction for Kennedy to enter. The ref would have none of it, though, saying there was no tag and forcing Finlay back into the ring. He got in some more work on Mysterio’s knee, then made a legal tag to Kennedy who worked the knee some himself before getting a near fall.
Finlay was tagged back in, again working Mysterio’s knee, but Rey got a boot up to meet Finlay and nailed a variation of a bulldog to get the tag to a fresh Hardy.
Massive offense ensued, almost too much to keep up with if you’re taking notes like I am!
Hardy went off on Kennedy, getting a near fall after a wraparound clothesline. He then hit a Stinger splash and a corner drop kick for another near fall. Next to hit was the Whisper in the Wind, but Finlay stopped the ensuing pin attempt and threw Hardy out of the ring. Mysterio then kicked Finlay into Kennedy, who both landed on the second rope for a 619 that was dodged by Finlay, but found its mark on Kennedy.
Mysterio then dove to the outside to nail an escaping Finlay as Hardy hit the Swanton on Kennedy for the pin.
A great match with lots of action.
It’s tough to put anything in the Nutshellers on a night like this, but not everyone can rate the top categories, eh?
– Cody Rhodes, accompanied by Hardcore Holly, defeated Trevor Murdoch, accompanied by Lance Cade. Another segment with Mickie James approaching Murdoch in the back preceded the match, again making Cade unhappy.
– VKM had a heart-to-heart with Hornswoggle, all about believing in “spare the rod, spoil the child.” He told the little guy that he loved him, but it was tough love and it was time for him to stand on his own two feet at Survivor Series when he takes on The Great Khali. Ouch.
– Another viral promo aired, asking “Can you break the code?” It had some of the same stuff, but also said “The answer is the code,” and “The code is the answer.” Hmmâ<80>¦
– DX took on Randy Orton and Umaga for the grand finale in a good match. HBK pinned Orton after a quick dose of Sweet Chin Music.
– It was announced that Dec. 10 would see a three-hour Raw special to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the show.
Don’t like my take? Let’s hear yours! Send me your e-mails to email@example.com … the best and worst of the bunch may be featured in the weekly editions of Sean Oâ<80><99>Macâ<80><99>s Pullinâ<80><99> No Punches (found in the editorial section). Remember, short ones are good, long ones may be cut, and keep the name of the column in mind when you come looking for answers!