TV REPORTS KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 4/14: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of telecast
Apr 14, 2008 - 10:09:16 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT
APRIL 14, 2008
ON USA NETWORK FROM LONDON, ENGLAND
-The show opened with JBL interrupting William Regal's tea-time backstage. The crowd chanted "Regal, Regal." JBL said he doesn't care that he's wrestling Randy Orton, he is just like the former empire that's become a toilet bowl. He complained that John Cena and Triple H have been added to his title match at Backlash. "They had their chance," said JBL. "Now my one-on-one title match has become a Fatal Four-way." Regal said it saved him the embarrassment of asking people to pay to see he and Orton - two of the biggest (insert derogatory English term) in WWE history. "Now what do you want?" he asked. JBL said he wants a chartered plane out of "this hellhole you call home." He said he is Raw's top commodity and he better start taking better care of it. Regal said he's become too accommodating lately, so that's going to change. He booked him in his first-every singles match against Triple H. The crowd popped and JBL stared Regal down for a few seconds, then left.
-The Raw opening aired. Then pyro blasted and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. Ross said 17.363 fans have sold out the arena.
-Shawn Michaels made a full ring entrance. Ross said he's looking forward to Michaels vs. Batista as much as any match in years. He said the last thing he wanted to do was come out there and have to once again address the issue between he and Batista. He said it seems no matter what country he goes to, that's all anyone wants to talk about. He said Flair asked, no demanded, that he be the man who wrestled him at WrestleMania. "We had a match for the ages, I gave him my best, I beat him, he hugged me, and he thanked me," he said. "That, my friends, is closure. It's finished. And everybody within the sound of my voice is able to accept that - everybody, that is, except Batista." He said it will be tough for Batista to no longer have his friend and mentor, Ric Flair, in his life, but on Smackdown they got to the real issue - that he, Michaels, is what's bugging him. "Imagine that." He said Batista accused him of holding people down and backstabbing people on his way to success. "I've got a little news flash for you, Batista. It takes a little more than that to make it in this line of work." (Interesting he avoided the term "business," a subject of a recent Ask the Editor commentary.) He said in 1998 a doctor told him he'd never wrestle again, but in 2002 he proved them wrong "when I returned and I exceeded everyone's expectations, and I continue to do it until this very day." He said it's pretty simple - it's because he loves the job and he was built to do it. He said he's apologized countless times for his past actions, but he's done it enough. He said Batista accuses him of retiring Flair to boost his ego, but that's not true. He said what will boost his ego is kicking his teeth down his throat. Ric Flair's music interrupted Flair. Michaels turned to the big screen.
Ross said maybe we're about to hear what Flair thinks of the Batista-Michaels conflict. Lawler said we'd get some closure from Flair. Those over-eager assumptions from Ross and Lawler gave away that Flair would not actually be stepping out onto the stage. Instead, Chris Jericho walked out to a chorus of boos. He apologized for misleading him with music. He said it's his fault that they will never hear that music again. In a cocky tone, he said Dr. Jericho has thought this through and he's decided he's a phony. He said at least that's Batista's conclusion. He said Michaels is a fan of Michaels more than anything else. "Deep down inside you enjoyed retiring Ric Flair," he said. "You thrived on retiring Ric Flair. We all know you thrived on screwing Bret Hart. It's the same way you thrived on superkicking Marty Jannetty, throwing him through a plate glass window like a piece of glass. It's what you were built to do. You just said it. Admit it. If you'd just admit it, Batista would respect you, Shawn." Michaels just stared at him. Jericho said he doesn't have to say anything since his eyes say it all. Jericho said Batista is being irrational in complaining about Flair being gone, but he's not being irrational about not liking him. He suggested Michaels probably suggested to Mr. McMahon that he create that retirement stipulation. Jericho told him to admit it. Instead, Michaels nailed him with a superkick. Michaels stood over Jericho with the mic and said, "I'll admit this. That felt pretty darn good." His music played and strutted out of the ring. The crowd was totally behind Michaels. Interesting mix of personalities without a clear-cut heel, although Jericho certainly seemed heelish there.
-Ross plugged the three-hour Raw on USA Network next week featuring the return of the King of the Ring. He said they'd have a one-night tournament to determine the King of the Ring.
1 -- CARLITO & SANTINO MARELLA vs. PAUL LONDON & BRIAN KENDRICK - No. 1 Contender's Match
Lilian Garcia introduced this as a battle for the no. 1 contendership for the tag team titles. A fan held up a sign that said: "John Cena, for ages 5-12." Someone buy that guy a beer! London outmaneuvered and frustrated Santino and Carlito early. They showed Cody Rhodes and Hardcore Holly watching on a monitor backstage. At 2:00 London took Carlito over with a huracanrana, but then caught an elbow to the face on a charge. London caught him with a kick of the ropes. Santino yanked London off a cover. Kendrick flew at him, but Santino moved and Kendrick flew to the floor. London dropkicked Santino to the floor where Kendrick met him with a kick. Santino then caught London from behind with a Back Stabber for the win.
WINNERS: Carlito & Santino in 4:00.
STAR RATING: 3/4* -- I'll never get used to three or four minute TV matches between evenly-matched wrestlers.
-After the match, Santino and Carlito cut a promo mid-ring aimed at Cody & Holly. Santino said they are "the real weiners." Carlito said, "You mean 'winners.'" Carlito and Santino hugged. That joke was lost on the crowd as they're so used to Santino's accent.
-Ross plugged JBL vs. Triple H in a singles match. Lawler plugged Beth Phoenix vs. Mickey James for the Women's Title was next.
-Lawler held up the first-ever issue of "WWE for Kids." Lawler said it's challenging, educational, and fun. Ross said it's fun for the whole family and it debuts tomorrow.
2 -- "GLAMAZON" BETH PHOENIX vs. MICKIE JAMES
Phoenix's music is still among my favorites in WWE. Ross asked Lawler about facing someone you've never been able to beat. Lawler said you can't help but have personal doubts. Glamazon pretty much dominated throughout. She applied a cool chicken wing submission hold with Mickey held in the air face down. Mickey escaped and shoved Phoenix into the corner turnbuckle. She followed up with an elbow to the face and a kick to the gut. She showed fire and set up her DDT. Phoenix shoved her into the corner to block it. Ross said if she was thinking DDT, "she thought too long." Phoenix stomped Mickie in the corner. Mickie came back with a Thesz press off the second rope, which Ross inexplicably called a bulldog, for a two count. Ross and Lawler expressed amazement at Phoenix's resilience. Mickie surprised Phoenix with a victory roll for a surprise three count to capture the Women's Title. Mickie celebrated like she just opened the $1 briefcase instead of the $500,000 and $1,000,000 briefcases late in "Deal of No Deal." She grabbed the belt and practically tripped over herself in celebration as she headed up the rampway.
WINNER: Mickie James in 5:00 to capture the Women's TItle.
STAR RATING: *1/4 -- Good short match.
-Mickie was still celebrating and crying on stage. She was joined by Maria and Ashley. Todd Grisham interviewed her. Mickie said she knew she could do it. She was so emotional she kissed Grisham on the lips for several seconds. He fell backward.Lawler said, "Mickie James has just done what was thought to be impossible - kiss Todd Grisham. Just kidding." With the ratings success of TNA's women's division, WWE is smart if this is a sign of them taking note and renewing a serious athletic division based on more than just T&A.
-Mike Adamle interviewed Regal backstage who was doing squats. He asked Regal why he decided to book himself against "the very best in the world." Regal said so he could prove he could beat the very best. Jericho approached him and asked him to add him to the match between Michaels and Batista at Backlash, making it a Triple Threat. Regal said instead he can be the special guest referee. Jericho said he wants to wrestle. Regal did a few more squats and then said, "Tonight you can wrestle You-mang-gah." Jericho got upset and said, "Come on!" Regal said, "And you'll be defending the Intercontinental Championship." Jericho cut his losses and walked away. Regal kept doing squats.
-They showed the exterior of the arena. Lawler plugged that Mick Foley is featured in a movie "Animorph" starring William Dafoe. Foley talked about being part of a pivotal scene in the movie. Dafoe said he was happy to work with Foley. The movie debuts in New York on Friday and "onDemand" in the U.S.
3 -- J.T.G. (w/Shad) vs. TREVOR MURDOCH (w/Lance Cade)
Ross asked Lawler to describe Cryme Tyme. Lawler was speechless. He asked Ross. "How about mischievous," said Ross. J.T.G. and Shad did some pre-match mic work. They talked about pounds and Benjamins being just fine. They chanted, "Money, money, yeah, yeah" and shifted "Euros, Euros, yeah, yeah." I still can't believe people chant along to these two doing that lame money chant. It's just so desperate-to-be-cool sounding while missing. They showed an inset conference with Lance Cade giving Trevor Murdoch a pep talk, telling him to get the win. Ross said, "He's good enough, tan enough, and by golly people like him." Murdoch dominated the opening minute, applied a headlock, then took JTG down with a Russian leg sweep. He went to the top rope and came off with a bodyblock. JTG rolled through and scored a leverage pin.
WINNER: J.T.G. in 2:00.
STAR RATING: 1/4*
-After the match, Cade entered with hands on his hips and gave Murdoch the look of a disapointed parent. He patted him on the shoulder almost patronizingly and walked out of the ring. Murdoch didn't know what to make of it.
-They showed Orton heading to the entrance ramp with the title belt over his shoulder.
-The ECW on Sci-Fi commercial promoted Undertaker & Kane teaming together for the first ever on ECW against unnamed opponents.
-A commercial aired for Smackdown with a history lesson on various kings over the centuries, then shifted into hype for Monday's King of the Ring.
WHAT HAPPENED: 2ND HOUR
-Orton stepped into the ring and said at WrestleMania people say he got lucky. He said he prefers to be called WWE Champion. He said at Backlash he'll beat Triple H, JBL, and John Cena all in the same night. He said he's defeated everyone there is to beat, but tonight he gets a bonus of beating Regal in his own country. He said it doesn't matter what continent you live on, everyone is living in the Age of Orton.
4 -- RANDY ORTON vs. WILLIAM REGAL -- World Hvt. Title match
Regal came out to a somewhat muted reception from the fans. The enthusiasm picked up as they squared off with a chant of "Regal, Regal." It didn't last long. Lawler was shocked that the fans chanted for him. A loud "Let's Go Regal" chant broke out as they locked up mid-ring in a test of strength. The fans worked themselves into a frenzy of chants and singing I usually hear only at soccer games. The match, predictably for a Regal match, began methodically with extended tests of strength. At 3:00 Orton pounded Regal in the corner with a barrage of punches, moving past Regal's upkicks in the process. He then settled into his signature chinlock at 4:00. The fans chanted, "Let's go Regal!" Lawler began complimenting England for being "beautiful" and "fantastic." That's not what JBL says. (Just sayin'.) Regal countered with a back suplex with Orton landing on his head in a scary scene replayed several times. Orton rolled out of the ring. Lawler and Ross marvelled at Orton being able to continue. Regal gave Orton a neckbreaker, then stomped on his leg when he returned. Orton then gave Regal an RKO out of nowhere for the pin. He sold a leg injury, perhaps a cramp or just selling Regal's stomps. He sat up and grabbed at his neck as he left the ring. He seemed in character.
WINNER: Orton in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- An okay short match. It started really, really slowly, and ended pretty quickly. Not a lot to it, but an okay TV match for a champion vs. a guy who's not a pushed full-time wrestler.
-Umaga cut a gibberish promo backstage.
-A commercial aired promoting Undertaker vs. Batista on Smackdown, by orders of G.M. Vickie Guerrero.
-They showed landmarks in London.
5 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. UMAGA - Intercontinental Title match
Ross again plugged the three-hour Raw and the one-night King of the Ring tournament. No matches, wrestler, or brackets announced yet. Umaga dominated the opening two minutes. He backdropped Jericho to the floor as they cut to a break.
After the break, Jericho was on offense, pounding on Umaga in the corner. Umaga shoved him to the mat hard. Umaga applied a nerve hold for a minute. They went to ringside where Umaga met a charging Jericho with a clothesline. Back in the ring Umaga continued to dominate for several minutes. Lawler said he doesn't think Jericho has been right since getting the superkick from Michaels. At 9:00 Umaga dragged Jericho into the corner, but when he went for the butt crusher in the corner, Jericho moved. Jericho then jumped off the ropes onto the back of Umaga, knocking him to the mat. Jericho hit Umaga with a basement drppkick and then set up a Walls of Jericho. Umaga resisted, then hit Jericho with a chop to the throat. Jericho caught a charging Umaga with a boot to the face, then gave Jericho a Samoan Drop for a near fall. Jerich ducked a Samoa Spike, the avoided a corner splash. He rolled up Umaga and put his feet on the ropes for leverage to score the pin. He jumped to ringside, grabbed his IC Title belt, clutched it, and looked like he had literally just dodged a bullet.
WINNER: Jericho in 11:00 to retain the IC Title.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Good match. Nothing all that special, but good match that gave Umaga the majority of the offense and a fluke loss for Jericho.
6 -- "HACKSAW" JIM DUGGAN vs. PAUL BURCHILL (w/Katie Lea)
Very short match ending with Burchill stomping Duggan's face into the mat. Burchill's wears his waist band in an unflattering way.
WINNER: Burchill in 1:00.
-The open invite aired for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama to appear on Raw next week.
-Another London landmark was shown.
-Grisham interviewed Triple H about facing someone he's never wrestled before (one-on-one). Triple H told Grisham it wouldn't be very cerebral of him to give away his strategy right before going to the ring. He predicted he'll win at Backlash, then told JBL he should have kept his cushy announcing job because it's the first time he'll learn what it's like to play The Game.
-Ross and Lawler plugged the Backlash line-up. Then full ring intros took place for Triple H and JBL.
7 -- TRIPLE H vs. JBL
The match was joined in progress after the break at six minutes before the top of the hour. This began with Regal pacing. At 3:00 Triple H went for a Pedigree. It was premature as JBL was pretty fresh, so he easily battled out of it. He applied a full nelson mid-ring. Hunter powered out and gave JBL a knee driver, then clotheslined JBL over the top rope to the floor. As they brawled up the aisle, Orton attacked Hunter, prompting a DQ.
WINNER: Triple H via DQ in 6:00.
-They fought into the ring. Hunter made a comeback, but JBL cut that off with a big boot. Orton gave Triple H a big boot. Someone shined a red laser light in Orton's eyes. That's sooo 2002. JBL held Triple H's head and told Orton to give him a Legend Killer Punt. Orton charged, but JBL dropped Triple H and nailed Orton with a clothesline from hell. When Triple H stood, JBL gave him a clothesline, too. Then he held the WWE Title over his head as the show ended a couple minutes earlier than usual.
FINAL THOUGHTS: Good show. Nothing earth-shattering, but entertaining throughout with some solid Backlash developments.
Send your 0-10 score, picks for best and worst matches, and a brief paragraph of well-edited thoughts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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