TV REPORTS KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 1/14: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live USA telecast
Jan 14, 2008 - 10:10:17 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT
JANUARY 14, 2007
LIVE ON USA FROM MOBILE, ALA.
WHAT HAPPENED: 1ST HOUR
-Countdown to High-Def: 1 week.
-The show opened with clips of last week's TV main event - Jeff Hardy vs. Umaga, with Randy Orton watching at ringside.
-Jeff Hardy's ring intro opened the show with a little pyro, but no major pyro open this week (a smart money-saver for the company). Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show as Hardy headed to the ring. They hyped that Hardy's WWE Title shot against Randy Orton would take place in less than two weeks at the Royal Rumble. Hardy milked some chants of "Hardy, Hardy." He then said, "Man, Jeff Hardy is excited." Hardy said he can't wait for his title shot, but he vowed to take Orton out before then and he's not happy that he hasn't done that yet. He vowed to do it tonight, so he called Orton out. After an atypical suitable pause for Orton to get to the stage, his music played and he walked out. Orton said Hardy can get his hands on him, but on his terms. He said only two men in WWE history have held the WWE Title and the Intercontinental Title at the same time, and he wants to be the third. He said at the Rumble they fight each other for his title, but they fight each other for his IC Title tonight. Hardy said, "Done!" Orton said it's good he agreed to that because he doesn't know what he would have done between now and the Rumble because Jeff's out of brothers to kick in the Hardy. Hardy replied by reiterating he's taking his title at the Rumble and taking him out tonight. What exactly does it mean when a wrestler says he going to "take someone out." It's a softened way of saying maim, I suppose, but it sounds kind of silly.
-A clip aired of Ric Flair's retirement tease, then a plug for Flair vs. William Regal later in a retirement challenge.
-Ring intros took place for the babyfaces in the women's six-woman tag match.
1 -- ASHLEY & MARIA & MICKIE JAMES vs. JILLIAN HALL & "GLAMAZON" BETH PHOENIX & MELINA
Ashley, believing it was Halloween, dressed as a Barbie doll of something. Ross called it unique ring attire. Lawler said she gets her ring gear from Victoria's Secret. Late in the match Ashley speared Melina with her head snapping against the bottom rope. They spilled out of the ring. Glamazon dropped Mickie throat-first clumsily over the top rope, then finished her with a fisherman's suplex for the win.
WINNER: Glamazon & Hall & Melina in 4:00.
-Backstage, Vince McMahon talked to Regal about ending Flair's career. Regal said he would do so in the most undignified way possible. McMahon, seemingly obsessed with butts, asked Regal, "If the powers above were to give the United States an enema, where would they stick this aparatus." Regal said, "Here in Mobile, Alabama." McMahon said he's glad this isn't in HD yet. Snitsky walked up to McMahon and said he doesn't care about HD, he just cares about hurting people. He said he's sick of waiting for his chance and he wants to make an impact. McMahon booked him against Triple H on the spot. Snitsky and Hornswoggle make similar snortling noises.
-A clip aired of last year's stellar action between Shawn Michaels and Undertaker at the Royal Rumble.
-Lilian Garcia introduced Shawn Michaels for a Royal Rumble Qualifying match. He grabbed the mic and said he was the runner-up last year and has won the Royal Rumble two other times, so he's not thrilled about having to qualify. He said he doesn't want to usurp the authority of WWE, so he has an idea to challenge "Mr. Kennedy Kennedy" so he can beat him tonight and eliminate any chance of him advancing. Instead, Trevor Murdoch's music played. When Michaels says words like "usurp" with the inflection he uses, it's as if he was challenged to "fit" a random word into his promo and that was it.
2 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. TREVOR MURDOCH
Michaels withstood an early flurry by Murdoch, then hit a top rope elbow. He teased a superkick, but when Murdoch fell backward to avoid it, he applied an inverted figure-four leglock for the tapout win. Ross made a big deal out of Michaels introducing a new finishing move. It's nice to see something fresh out of Michaels.
WINNER: Michaels in 2:00.
STAR RATING: 1/2* -- Short.
-As Michaels celebrated, Kennedy popped up on the big screen. He said he's heard rumors for years of how big Michaels's ego was, and Michaels has proven it true. He said he can't handle the fact that he beat him and passed him by. He told him that's the law of the jungle and he has nothing left to prove to him. He said out of respect for all of his contributions to the business, he'll give him "one more day in the sun." He said next week he'll give him his last great moment in the business when he steps into the ring with "the present and future of sports entertainment, Mr. Kennedy." Murdoch, meanwhile recovered and made a move toward Michaels; Michaels dropped him with Sweet Chin Music.
-Clips aired of Flair vs. Orton from two months ago. Lawler said he managed to "pull it out." Ross said he looked rejuvenated, but he must win tonight or his career is over. They also plugged JBL's own "2nd_Coming." This could be fun.
-A commercial aired hyping WrestleMania with a clip from WrestleMania VI from Apr. 1, 1990 and Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior. (VIP members can hear a special hour-long retrospect on that event with me, Bruce Mitchell, and Pat McNeill we recorded a month or so back in the VIP Audio Shows section.) Ross said at that event Warrior made history by becoming IC and WWE Champion. He said Orton has that opportunity tonight. Ross and Lawler thanked Airbourne for the "Stand Up For Rock 'n' Roll" theme song for Royal Rumble. Then they ran down the line-up for the Royal Rumble PPV.
-Backstage, Vince chatted with his son Hornswoggle. Vince said Hornswoggle has no experience in Rumble matches, so he's going to put together a practice session for him, a "mini-Royal Rumble match, no pun intended." He said he'll put Hornswoggle in the ring and send one wrestler after another in against him, beginning with Mr. Kennedy, then Mankind, then Batista, "and maybe a surprise or two." He said if he's successful tonight, he will show he has a shot at winning the Rumble and moving on to main event WrestleMania. Vince said that's not likely to happen. Hornswoggle shook his head no in agreement. Vince grabbed him by the throat, got into crazy-voice mode, and told him he's a McMahon so anything can happen. He said he is proud of him as Hornswoggle looked terrified.
-Triple H was shown heading toward the entrance tunnel for his match against Snitsky.
3 -- TRIPLE H vs. SNITSKY
Ross noted that Snitsky had applied for the Rumble, and said to check out WWE.com to keep up on the latest qualifications. After exchanging some punches, they cut to a break at 1:00.
WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR
Snitsky took over after the break. Hunter teased a comeback, but Snitsky turned it into a bearhug. Hunter eventually escaped and DDT'd Snitsky. Both men were slow to get up. Hunter took control with a spinebuster and set up a Pedigree. Snitsky backdropped Hunter over the top rope to the floor. Snitsky pursued Hunter on the floor. Hunter avoided Snitsky's attempt to hit him with the ring steps. Hunter hit Snitsky with a chair. The ref called for the bell. Hunter rammed Snitsky in the gut with is sledgehammer, and then executed a Pedigree. Hunter celebrated, then nearly romanced his sledgehammer.
WINNER: Snitsky via DQ in 10:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* -- Not very good. The idea that Hunter would get DQ'd for using a chair, but Snitsky wouldn't for throwing the steel steps at him just because Hunter was able to avoid them seems wrong.
-As Triple H headed toward the back, Vince appeared on a make-shift entrance stage screen. He told him he's getting more violent every week just because he's not in the Rumble. "I advise you to calm down," he said. "I advise you to take a chill pill." Hunter bashed the screen with his sledgehammer. Then things got cheesy as sparks flew and explosives were set off to make it seem like Hunter tearing the soft stretched fabric that acts as a rear projector screen caused some sort of electrical storm. Ross said Hunter destroyed the TitanTron. It wasn't even the main big screen above the stage. Dumb. At least the larger point, which is that Hunter is temperamental wasn't lost.
-During a replay of Hunter's tantrum, Lawler wondered what that would cost. Vince then confronted Hunter backstage. He told him he's back in the Royal Rumble match, not because he feels intimidated. He said he has to win his match next week to re-qualify. He didn't tell Hunter what the match is going to be.
-Highlights aired of JBL's return to Raw.
-JBL got out of his car and walked to the ring as balloons fell from the rafters again. He stood in the ring and talked about the long campaign promising that someone was coming to save them. He said it turned out to Chris Jericho. He smiled and asked Chris how his neck felt. They went to a replay of JBL choking Jericho and attempting to hang him last week. JBL asked the crowd, "Where's your savior now?" He said he's at home where he should have stayed. He said he should have never come back. He said he loves power and domination. He said when he dragged Jericho around last week by his neck, it was like he was dragging each and every fan. He said Jericho couldn't be there, but he knows he's watching. He said he doesn't want to talk to Jericho, he wants to talk to Jericho's kids. He looked into the screen and told them to look at the marks on his daddy's neck. He said that proves there are people who are bigger, badder, and stronger than him. "Look at that coward you call daddy," he said. "Your daddy is gutless and spineless and had all the fight taken out of him by me." He said he doesn't want to make it personal. He said he'd like him to look at his kids and tell them that he's just better than him. He said if Jericho comes to the Rumble, the savior he was espousing is going to be saved from him. Pryo blasted from the ringposts as JBL raised his arm as his music played. Good, intense promo, although his exit from the ring was drawn out of enough to probably test some viewers' patience. He's not that interesting to just watch stroll up the rampway in no particular hurry as his music plays. The pryo kept blasting. That's where the pyro budget went this week, instead of for the show intro. Lawler said he's so rich, he could buy MSG, so he can afford such a grand send-off.
-They showed Jeff Hardy getting ready backstage, putting rubbing webbing on his forearms.
-A plug aired for ECW on Sci-Fi, plugging that Edge would be on the show, hosting a Cutting Edge with C.M. Punk as his guest. Earlier, it plugged Punk vs. Chavo Guerrero, also. No surprise they'd put Edge on the show after last week's distressful 1.14 rating.
-A clip aired of Triple H beating Kane back at No Mercy in 2002 to retain the "WWE Title" (wasn't it the World Hvt. Title, actually, at that point, before the brands traded bels?) and win the IC Title. That technicality aside, it's great to see this kind of hype put on belts, and value and prestige of holding two at once. It elevates the value of the belts and thus their drawing power.
4 -- HORNSWOGGLE ROYAL RUMBLE PRACTICE SESSION
Hornswoggle came out first, followed by a mini-Mr. Kennedy. That was a great find - he looks and acts just like Kennedy. I'd love to see the line outside the building for that casting call. It's probably no stranger than American Idol's line, but much shorter. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.) Hornswoggle beat up the Mini Kennedy, then battled the Mini Mankind. He actually pressed Mini Kennedy over his head and threw him into Mankind on the floor. Then out came a Mini Batista. He had Batista's ring intro down, too. The physique wasn't that far off, either. Lawler called him Batista-lite. Batista-lite set up a Batista Bomb, but Hornswoggle backdropped out of it. Then out came Mini Kane. Hornswoggle eliminated Batista-lite after a low kick. Mini Kane came back with a flying clothesline, then he set up a chokeslam. He couldn't lift Hornswoggle, which drew laughs from the fans. Hornswoggle came back with the Keltic Cross, a low kick, and a toss out of the ring. Great Khali's music then played. The real Great Khali walked out. Batista-lite attacked Hornswoggle from behind to keep him in the ring. Ross noted Hornswoggle has had many issues with Khali on Smackdown in recent weeks. Finlay made a surprise appearance and cleared the ring of Khali with the shillelagh as soon as he entered the ring. Then he got his hands on Runjin Singh and tossed him out of the ring by his tie.
WINNER: No contest.
STAR RATING: n/a -- Seemed to please the crowd. Harmless goofiness with some good stand-ins really hamming it up.
-Orton was shown taping his wrists backstage.
-One of several commercials aired plugging WWE Raw going HD next week.
-Finlay grabbed Vince by his lapels. Vince denied having anything to do with Khali going out there. Finlay threatened him if he violated their deal. Vince told him to never reference that, to get his hands off of him, and to blow off his steam another way. Vince said he doesn't "welch" on deals. He told him his problem is with Khali who did that himself. Finlay didn't believe him and called him a liar. Finlay said he didn't believe him.
-Ring intros took place for Flair vs. Regal. With this match starting with 12 minutes left in the hour, and Hardy-Orton still scheduled, at least one of the final two matches isn't going to amount to much. As the match was about to begin, they cut to a break.
5 -- RIC FLAIR vs. WILLIAM REGAL - Retirement Match
They joined the match in progress. Flair fought off a Regal leglock and applied his own figure-four. Regal reached the bottom rope at 5:00 (second televised minute). Seconds later, Regal tried to roll up Flair with a handful of tights. The ref noticed it and stopped after one count. Flair then rolled up Regal and scored a three count with a handful of tights. Regal cornered the ref and chewed him out as Flair headed to the back as his music played.
WINNER: Flair in 6:00 (more than half wasn't televised)
STAR RATING: n/a - Not much aired. It felt a bit anti-climactic and half-hearted. Without a Flair promo and with such a quickie match, it just came across as something WWE felt obligated to wedge into the show (and to try to piggyback Orton-Hardy onto Flair's history of drawing ratings).
6 -- JEFF HARDY vs. RANDY ORTON -- IC Title match
Orton opened the match by kicking Hardy between the legs. The ref immediately called for the bell.
WINNER: Hardy via DQ in 0:05.
STAR RATING: n/a
-Orton said, "Hold on, this show is not over. Trust me. You do not want to miss this." Orton then continued the beating on Hardy at ringside. "So much for the Intercontinental Title opportunity. Orton's got other thoughts," said Ross. Orton ripped up the padding at ringside and set up an RKO, but Hardy escaped and fought away from Orton. They brawled up the rampway. Orton set Hardy on the edge of the stage and set up a running Legend Kick, but Hardy backdropped him to the floor. The camera caught up to Orton, who was lying flat on his back motionless. Hardy teased hitting a Swanton from the edge of the stage. He was still grabbing his crotch, selling the low-blow. He then ripped off his t-shirt, climbed the rafter holding up a lighting grid, and looked down at Orton. He paused, looked up, and decided to climb a level higher. Several referees stood below yelling at Hardy not to do it, but he did. He dove off with a super-high Swanton Dive. Medics immediately ran to the aid of the wrestlers and wrapped their necks in braces and put them on stretchers. Quite the scene and quite the memory-making moment. The crowd chanted "Hardy, Hardy." They stuck with the scene for a few minutes to really let the moment sink in. As Hardy was being carted away, he raised his arm in the air which drew a pop from the crowd.
FINAL THOUGHTS: It was smart, first of all, not to actually give away a singles match between Hardy and Orton. After the big move by Hardy, few will be complaining they didn't get a match. If you're to do a stunt as dangerous as that - and there's danger in that move - you have to make it worth it, and that long, silent shooting of the aftermath for several minutes really made it seem like a buzzworthy moment.
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