TV REPORTS CALDWELL'S WWE RAW REPORT 4/12: Batista vs. Orton, Miz and Bret Hart, 1990s pop culture, The Basics well-covered
Apr 13, 2010 - 3:03:48 PM
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WWE Raw Live Report
April 12, 2009
Taped in London, England
Aired on USA Network
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor
Hasselhoff opening: David Hasselhoff opening the show with a self-aware parody of his over-the-top entertainment personality was fine. He obviously fits the variety show format of WWE Raw. He also showed good product knowledge except for this little number: "Jackie Swagger will defend his title to Randy Orton."
(1) Maryse vs. Eve: Maryse opening the match with a hard slap to the face was a nice spot to add some intensity to the Divas Title match. Maryse doesn't need the Divas Title to be over, as she has tremendous charisma. She should have like two or three hours a day on the forthcoming WWE TV Network channel. One hour will be "Fashion Police," another hour perhaps "French Manners," and a third hour of Maryse just laughing hysterically at Internet videos on YouTube.
ShoMiz-Harts segment: Before the Harts came out, The Miz was simply great polling the audience on great tag teams to give a basic set up to the segment. It got better with Hart setting up Miz perfectly for a great heel promo. The back-and-forth was a little rough around the edges setting up Miz vs. D.H. Smith, but the basic premise was just fine. As for D.H. Smith, I have to reprint a great email from my brother after he caught the segment last night.
I watched some of Raw last night and I happen to watch the Bret Hart/Hart Foundation and ShoMiz confrontation. Before D.H. Smith was going to do his mic work, the crowd was midly chanting, "Bulldog," or something. I think he was too confident in this chant because he paused before he took the mic and the crowd had already died down. He was just standing there like a goof waiting for the crowd to be quiet.
(2) D.H. Smith vs. Miz: Show playing the player/coach ringside is a good role for him considering how limited he is in the ring right now. This was the right audience in the U.K. for Smith to be in a featured singles match, but he needs more polish. He's improving, though. Could you imagine Michael Cole calling a British Bulldog match back in the day? "And there's the Running Scoopslam! Vintage!" The finish seemed off with some rough outside interference, but Miz winning to set up the scenario with Bret Hart having to declare ShoMiz the greatest tag team is a nice hook for next week. Overall, thumbs up concept and Hart-Miz interaction, but rough execution.
(3) Evan Bourne vs. Carlito: They had an awesome match on Superstars last month and were given a solid four minutes to bring that a larger audience on Raw. Bourne bumped around terrifically to make Carlito look like a halfway-decent threat before hitting Air Bourne for the win. I imagine Bourne will stay on Raw after the Draft to give viewers a weekly thrill, but he would be a good fit on Smackdown adding to the wrestling content on the show.
(4) John Cena vs. David Otunga: Otunga came out to a remix of the NXT "Wild & Young" theme music containing the following bonus lyrics: "We should kick back / just have a little fun / two kids getting high / have a couple beers in the sun." Um...PG? Anyways, Batista coming out with Otunga and giving him an endorsement was huge for Otunga's credibility in the eyes of viewers. It didn't really matter that Cena basically squashed him. In a moment that captured the differences between WWE and TNA match stipulations, Cole and Lawler laughed at how simple the rules are for Last Man Standing. "It's the guy who is the last man standing," Lawler said with a laugh. Meanwhile, part of the job description for poor Mike Tenay and Taz is trying to make sense of stipulations that make no sense.
Sheamus promo: Simple, effective, basic promo. I don't like Triple H. I think I'm tougher than Triple H. We're going to take our battle up a notch. I'm going to prove I'm tougher than Triple H. Sheamus getting the heat, then Kofi Kingston interrupting and getting promo time seeking a re-match from last week was a good touch. As Wade Keller said in his post-Raw hotline last night, it was a good sign that WWE hasn't completely soured on Kingston. Kingston is a vastly under-utilized talker and it's only a matter of time before WWE utilizes him more efficiently.
(5) Sheamus vs. Kofi: Cole and Lawler had a really odd exchange with a look back at the Elimination Chamber where Sheamus lost the WWE Title. Lawler: "You know, just for the record, Sheamus was never actually defeated to lose the WWE Championship. You know that, don't you?" Cole: "I know that. It was inside the Elimination Chamber when he lost the WWE Championship. He was one of the five men who ended up being pinned in that match-up." Lawler: "That's one of the things I don't think is fair in a match like that when the champion loses, but he's not actually pinned." C'mon, Jerry. As for the match, it was good to see a competitive battle where Kofi didn't look weak like last week, but Sheamus still looked strong as a threat to Triple H at the PPV.
Carlito & Kozlov backstage: Kozlov being set up was the "evil international villain" to be blown up by the MacGruber cast next week was expected. If they're going to utilize Kozlov, it's probably best to keep him out of the ring. Carlito vowing to do anything is laughable since WWE has made him one of the least-credible wrestlers on the roster for years.
(6) Baywatch Match: Continuing the theme of Hasselhoff playing up a parody of his entertainment career, the bit was fine for WWE continuing to tap into the 1990s for their guest-hosting "attempt at humor" segments. It's almost a social commentary on how the 2000s have yet to provide as much relevant pop culture fodder for parody purposes like the 1990s did. As for the "women's wrestling" portion of the segment here, I've given up on WWE building a credible women's division on Raw, so I have zero expectations for a match like this.
(7) Randy Orton vs. Batista: This was a fundamentally-sound, good back-and-forth TV match continuing to get over Batista's heel persona and re-establish him as a threat to John Cena at Extreme Rules. It also continued to build up Orton as a babyface fans can rally behind (without asking questions) before he challenges Jack Swagger for the World Title. Swagger's run-in during the match was effective for establishing him as a strong heel as opposed to the previously-seen goofball heel. We also know Orton's character is much more sophisticated than your average WWE character and won't need to make fun of Swagger's speech impediment to get heat on the program. We'll see if Orton actually journeys to Smackdown to pick up a feud with Swagger, but the build-up should be good regardless. John Cena making the final run-in to make Batista tap out was fine to even things out with Batista heading to Extreme Rules.
Overall: A competent, but not particularly flash, episode of Raw. And there's nothing wrong with not having a lot of sizzle when the steak is fulfilling. Meanwhile, The Miz, Jack Swagger, Sheamus, and David Otunga continue to be elevated as young heels needing credibility in order to be long-term stars for WWE. An efficient use of two hours to continue building the next set of WWE feuds and storylines coming out of WrestleMania 26.
We welcome your 0-10 score and comments on this show for a "Raw Reax" feature in the Torch Feedback section of PWTorch.com. To contribute your thoughts on Raw, email to firstname.lastname@example.org using our Feedback form.
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