TV REPORTS KELLER'S 2/28 Raw Review: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show
Feb 28, 2005 - 10:12:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
FEBRUARY 28, 2005
LIVE FROM PROVIDENCE, R.I.
-A great video recap aired with dramatic slow-motion footage from last week's show-closing Batista babyface turn.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show was Triple H walked to the ring. He milked the tension in the crowd for a minute or two before spoke. He asked if there was one fan in the arena who believes he's afraid of Batista. He asked if they thought Batista was going to beat him to become World Hvt. Champion. The crowd reaction was a bit tepid in these early minutes, but they were hanging on his every word. Hunter said he is The Game and it's no catchphrase to sell t-shirts or tickets. It's the truth. He added that Batista "sat under the learning tree" for a couple of years and now he's the top contender. He said he is the father and Batista is just a 300 pound boy. "Now the boy he thinks he can be the man," said Hunter, who vowed to slap him down and beat some sense into him. Hunter said Batista has been doing good, but he'd teach him the difference between doing good and being good. Hurricane's music then began.
I expected a much better post-split interview from Hunter. The promo was filled with cliches and over-the-top anger, but not human feelings of betrayal now matter how selfishly conceived. I expected more of a history lesson of how he taught Batista everything he knows, and how he owed him more than to turn on him like that. Hunter needed to be angry, sure, but there needed to be some layers added to why he was angry to the point that we saw that at least Hunter felt he was right for his outrage. He also didn't sell any details of how he was outsmarted by Batista along the way. It just left me empty. It all rage and no substance or nuance. It didn't add any momentum to the big angle last week, and may have knocked it down a notch.
1 - HURRICANE vs. TRIPLE H
Hunter charged at Hurricane with a flying knee as he entered the ring, knocking him to ringside. He rammed him into the steel ring steps. Hunter gave Hurricane a Pedigree on the steel rampway 90 seconds into the aggressive attack, then he entered the ring and grabbed the mic again and screamed that if Batista stepped foot in the arena, he'd beat him within an inch of his life. "You know why?" he said. "Because I'm that damn good." Hunter walked past and stared down several referees who were tending to Hurricane.
WINNER: No contest. The match never officially began.
2 -- CHRIS BENOIT vs. MUHAMMAD HUSSAN (w/Khosrow Daivari)
Ross said Batista was just minutes from the arena. They had Daivari mic'd at ringside, and he was shouting throughout the match like Jimmy Hart during a Hart Foundation squash 15 years ago. Hassan got knocked awkwardly into the ropes early in the match. Benoit went at 100 miles an hour with an early offensive flurry. Daivari interfered, causing Benoit to chase him at ringside. Hassan then took control of the match. The ref went down at 5:00. Daivari gave Hassan the ring bell. Hassan clutched it as Benoit gave him a German suplex. Benoit signalled for the top rope headbutt. Hassan rolled to the side to hide the belt, then rolled back just in time to supposedly hit the bell, but didn't come close in reality. The crowd even booed. It was clear he didn't actually hit the bell, so Ross and Lawler were hesitant to sell it. Hassan made a cover, but Benoit kicked out. Ross said it appeared Benoit did not hit the bell. Hassan then mule kicked Benoit to prompt the DQ. It wouldn't shock me if the DQ was an audible called for from the back through the ref's earpiece due to Benoit's head missing the bell. Flat, awkward finish all-around. Hassan looked upset afterward, either selling the DQ or legitimately dismayed with the botched finish.
WINNER: Benoit at 6:42 via DQ.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Decent match except for the finish.
-They showed Edge tackling Shawn Michaels backstage last week, then hyped their singles match. They also hyped the pending arrival of Batista.
-Hulk Hogan was officially announced as being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler then reacted. Ross said nobody deserves induction more than Hogan does.
-Coach told the arriving Batista that Triple H said he planned to beat him within an inch of his life. Batista told Coach he plans to thank Triple H. Coach asked why. He said for releasing the animal in him.
-Backstage they showed Triple H watching on a monitor. Hunter told Flair he had a plan.
-A brief video feature aired hyping Christy Hemme's appearance in Playboy. She said it's the only publication she'd pose nude for because they do it with such class.
2 -- SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. GENE SNITSKY -- IC Title match
If Shelton got DQ'd, Eric Bischoff ruled that he'd lose the IC Title based on last week's "intentional DQ" with the stiff chairshot. Ross said he was going to do an in-ring interview with Batista later. Lawler said Ross is crazy considering what Hunter said he planned to do to Batista. Ross said he hadn't though of it. Snitsky went to a keylock after a minute. He then gave Shelton a big boot to the face. Shelton turned the momentum with a DDT out of nowhere and then hit the Stinger Splash and a T-Bone for the clean, decisive win.
WINNER: Shelton at
STAR RATING: * -- Okay intensity and pacing.
-Ross said they had a major announcement regarding WrestleMania 21 after the break. He made it sound truly major.
-Ross threw to a video announcement that "Piper's Pit" would be back and Piper's guest would be Steve Austin.
-The Smackdown Rebound aired.
-Ross narrated a slo-mo replay of Masters stiffing Richards with a hammer forearm to the face last week, breaking his nose and orbital bone. They cut to backstage footage of Richards looking none-too-pleased with his newly crooked nose. The guy can't catch a break. Well, bad choice of words. Masters shouldn't be given the benefit of that being used to build his character considering it's hardly an admirable happening or endorsement of his readiness to be pushed in a sport where the no. 1 mantra is "take care of your opponent" even before "make it look real." Ross said Richards would be out for a few weeks or even months.
3 -- CHRIS "THE MASTERPIECE" MASTERS vs. JOHN WALTERS
They never said Walters by name, calling him a "young man." Masters went on the attack early and finished him off with a full nelson finisher. He showed nothing that would impress anyone who isn't a mark for bodybuilding.
STAR RATING: DUD -- ROH has to get the Pure Title off of Walters. That's disgraceful, within the context of the storyline world of pro wrestling, for it's Pure Champion to lose to an '80s cardboard bodybuilding gimmick like Masters. Ring of Honor's new motto can be: "Where WWE Jobbers Are Champions." What's next, Samoa Joe losing in 45 seconds to Heidenreich on Smackdown this week? Or maybe have Bryan Danielson get squashed by Hurricane on Heat?
-As Ross got up to interview Batista, Lawler told him it wasn't a good idea. Ross said he had to do what he had to do.
-They went to a video promoting "Be Cool" with Rock in a big supporting role.
-Ross interviewed Batista in center-ring. He asked Batista why he chose to stay at Raw. Batista said ever since he's been part of Raw, it's been all about Triple H. He said he didn't mind for a while. He said when Randy Orton won the World Hvt. Title, it was still "all about Triple H." He said same thing when he won the Royal Rumble. He said last week he had to make a decision - go to Smackdown or stay at Raw and do something about it. "I chose to do something about it," he said. "It's as the song goes, it's all about the game and how you play it. Well, last week, the game got played." He then leered into the crowd. Batista was clearly doing his best to carry himself as a big star. Ross asked if he had any second thought. Batista asked if it looked like he had any second thoughts. He said ever since he won the Rumble, he knew he was staying on "the number one show, Monday Night Raw." The crowd was pretty quiet until a "Batista" chant started at this point. Batista said he'd give Hunter credit as being probably the best in the business and perhaps the best ever. He said he was a ten time champion. "I'll say it again so you people understand," he said, sounding a bit like a condescending heel for a second there. He said Hunter is the man and, like Ric Flair says, to be the man you have to beat the man. "At WrestleMania, I will beat you and officially become the man." Hunter's music interrupted. He walked onto the stage with Flair. Batista immediately took off his jacket and loosened his tie. Ross returned to the broadcast table with Lawler as Hunter and Flair made their way to the ring. Batista slammed Flair to the mat, then called Hunter into the ring. Hunter jumped onto the ring apron, but then backed down. Batitsa gave Flair a Batista Bomb. Hunter charged to the ring again, but then backed off. He threw a fit, almost as if he was upset at himself for showing fear of Batista.
Major disappointing interview from Batista. There was no acknowledgement of how he had been onto Hunter's mind games for the past month or two. There was no acknowledgement of overhearing Hunter's conversation with Flair last week. There was no acknowledgment that Hunter made the decision easy for him. Nothing that acknowledged the nuances that made this a homerun angle up until this point. Instead, we got a clunky speech from Batista about how Hunter is the man, maybe the best ever, and now he wants to be the man. The crowd didn't react to Batista like he was a breakout star, either, although the crowd's been pretty dispassionate all night. Batista pulled off a decent version of a Tully Blanchard promo from 1986 with the cuff adjustments, sunglasses, and overall feeling of it being a poor-man's Ric Flair promo. Under normal circumstances, the Hunter and Batista segments on this show would have been just fine, but they needed to be more than that given what was at stake the depth of this storyline up until this point. They had all the material and backstory necessary for two homerun, momentum-building promos and they came out and hit ordinary singles. I'm actually a bit stunned at the razor-thin depth of the follow-up to last week's big angle. Those two promos could have been ad libbed at a house show.
-Hunter demanded Bischoff give Ric Flair a singles match next week on Raw against Batista. Flair didn't endorse the idea on camera.
4 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. MAVEN
WINNER: Jericho at 3:26 with the Walls of Jericho.
STAR RATING: *
-Afterward, Jericho's music stopped and he grabbed a house mic. He said he came out with an agenda and a statement to make. He said with so many of the biggest matches announced for WM already, he wanted to make an impact. He ran down the matches and stars so far. Batista's name got no pop, but Austin's did. He said he wants to give five other elite WWE superstars a chance of a lifetime in a match involving a ladder. He stopped there without further explanation. "I don't know what it is, but I'm certainly interested in that," he said.
-A Hollywood spoof aired with John Cena and JBL playing the roles of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson in "A Few Good Men." They actually did a really believable job in those parts. Both looked like moviestars. Cena confronted JBL for using interference from his Cabinet. JBL retorted that Cena needed him to be champion. He asked Cena to say think you and order the PPV or lace his boots and meet him in the ring. JBL finally agreed that he ordered the ringside interference. Although it was really well executed, it crossed a line in my book because it wasn't just a silly spoof on the movie, but incorporated the real-life storyline between Cena and JBL, creating a bit of a farce out of any promos they have on the same subject out of the "A Few Good Men" characters. In other words, because they were in a circumstance where they were obviously reading scripted lines, dressed up like characters in a movie that don't resemble their wrestling characters, yet discussing a real wrestling storyline, it messed with the idea that the spoofs are just a fun sidebar, but they're not "real" like the stuff that goes in inside the ring. This entered the WCW mini-movie category in terms of crossing that line (but was much better executed). We can suspend disbelief as viewers are wrestlers reenact movie scenes, but two wrestlers in a bitter feud shouldn't be reading scripted lines that portray in a fake spoof setting the "real" emotions about "real" issues they have leading into their fight at a big PPV.
-Christy Hemme revealed a gigantic cover of her on Playboy. Trish then came out and said she is starting to piss her off by drawing so much attention to herself. She said maybe she can make an exception this week because it's not every day one is on the cover of Playboy. Trish was great in her delivery. Too bad there aren't many actual women wrestlers for her to work with. Trish then examined the cover and said something wasn't quite right. She then pulled out a can of spraypaint and covered up the word "Champion" in the headline because she's no champion. When Christy attempted to stop Trish, Trish roundhouse kicked her across the face. Trish said, "Your head is hard, it broke my darn shoe, girl. Trish then spray painted "SLUT" across her back, standing for "Some Lady Untrained To wrestle" but I'm stuck feuding with her anyway. Great roundhouse kick by Trish, and her mic work has really come along. She is a real star in WWE, but they need to get her more women wrestlers to actually work in the ring with.
-"Superstar" Billy Graham, Stacy, and Randy Orton were talking backstage about Hulk Hogan being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Candice said it was an honor to meet him. Yeah, like there's a chance in hell she would have picked out his name in a multiple choice question when the other options listed were Kerry Von Erich, Kamala, Abdullah the Butcher, and One Man Gang. Graham told Orton that WM21 should be his chance to really shine and make a name for himself by becoming "somebody very unique, very original," like he was in his prime. Orton thanked him for the advice and said that was exactly what he was thinking. He then tossed down onto a chair a WWE magazine with a cover story on Undertaker's WrestleMania Legacy.
-Maria interviewed Edge backstage who sarcastically said he was surprised she wanted to interview him and didn't want to overlook him like Michaels did last week. Good heel promo.
5 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. EDGE - Street Fight
They brawled into the crowd in the opening few minutes. Back in the ring, Edge brought in a chair. Michaels chopped Edge to the mat. Edge came back with a DDT onto the chair. Michaels fell to ringside and gigged, bleeding heavily right away. That spot on the chair and the subsequent heavy blood is reminiscent of his early televised tag match with Marty Jannetty against "Playboy" Buddy Rose & Doug Somers back in the late-'80s in the AWA.
Michaels's face was completely covered in blood. Edge dominated, including using a ladder as a weapon and a launching pad for a splash. Edge scored a believable near fall at 11:00. Michaels came back with a catapult of Edge into the ladder. Ross said he's never seen a street fight stopped, but after a chairshot to Edge's head, he said perhaps the ref should consider that option. Edge came back much too quickly, swinging a cane at Michaels. He ducked, nipped up, and picked up the kendo stick himself. He bashed Edge over the head with it, then tossed it aside. Michaels's face was ridiculously red at this point, almost looking like he was wearing an old school Kane mask. He leaped off the top rope with an elbow. Ross said Michaels dropped an elbow onto Edge's "psychotic torso." I say with confidence that's the first time those two words have been used together on a wrestling broadcast. Michaels then went for the superkick, but Edge ducked and hit Michaels with a low blow with a chair. Ross pointed out it was legal in a street fight. Edge grabbed a chair from ringside, got a crazed look in his eyes, and set up Michaels for a chair sandwich with Michaels's head being the meat. Michaels surprised Edge with a punch to the crotch. Michaels rose with a chair in hand, but Edge speared him and scored a near fall at 16:15. Edge couldn't believe the kickout. He threw a fit and snapped. He waited in the corner, stomped the mat, and charged Michaels. Michaels hit Edge with a superkick and scored the clean pin.
WINNER: Michaels at 17:02.
STAR RATING: ***3/4 -- Brutal street fight. Well executed.
-Afterward, Angle jumped out of the crowd and attacked Michaels. Fans chanted "You suck! You suck!" Ross said Michaels couldn't defend himself after the street fight due to a loss of blood. Angle gave Michaels an Angle Slam and left him lying face down on the mat. "This is not Thursday night. This is not Smackdown," said Ross. Angle grabbed a mic, kneeled down in Michaels's face, and said, "As far as your challenge for WrestleMania is concerned, I accept." Security then walked to the ring. Angle bailed out into the crowd with a smile on his face. Next week, Angle and Michaels in a Hollywood spoof based on Finding Nemo with Michaels playing Nemo and Angle his nemesis. They'll be dressed up as fish and pretend to swim around in a human-sized fake fish tank. They can engage in a verbal battle over this week's cowardly attack on Raw. That will really drive home the real life intensity of the feud between these two!
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