TV REPORTS 8/23 WWE Raw review: Keller's ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show
Aug 23, 2004 - 10:08:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
AUGUST 23, 2004
LIVE ON SPIKE TV LIVE FROM ANAHEIM, CALIF.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show, hyping it as one of that promises to be full of surprises. They talked about the Kane-Lita wedding and the Evolution turn on Randy Orton last week.
-Coach stood mid-ring and introduced the remaining Raw Diva Candidates. Lawler noted there were no blondes left. Ross said he hadn't noticed. He announced that Traci was eliminated this week. Coach said they usually save the Raw Diva Candidate segment until later in the show, but this week the format would be different. Rock then made a surprise appearance. He insisted Coach get out of the ring and gave him a countdown. At the last possible second, Coach bailed out of the ring.
Rock then took some digs at Lilian Garcia at ringside, then talked to the Divas about their past attempts to win votes. He said a few weeks ago they were asked to eat ice cream on camera, but people would prefer to see them eat pie. He had Tajiri bring out six pies. Rock said they can eat it provocatively, in a sexy manner, or boring. When a fan got boisterous, Rock told him to settle down, then laughed and said, "They have some good weed in Anaheim, huh?" That got the biggest pop of the night thus far. Rock asked Tajiri what kind of pie is his favorite. Tajiri said "poon tang" with an accent. Rock asked him what "poon tong" pie is. "I'll have to try that some day. We need to party," said Rock.
The first candidate, Joy, challenged Carmella to a WWE style fight "down and dirty." She dipped her finger in the pie and licked her fingers as she talked. The crowd booed. Rock noted how much Tajiri was enjoying the spectacle. The next candidate, Amy, licked the pie provocatively - as much as she could while trying to keep her hair from getting whipped cream on it. The next two did the same basically. The final candidate said her butt was hungry and it's been "crunching" her panties all day. She then set the pie down and sat in it. She gets points for creativity.
Coach interrupted with La Resistance by his side and said, "The Rock show is over." He said they were going to give Rock a People's Beating. Rock asked the candidates to leave. Rock told them to bring it on. They charged the ring and went after Rock and Tajiri. Rhyno made the save with a Gore. Rhyno, Tajiri, and Rock eliminated La Resistance and then surrounded Coach. Ross said it's a good thing Coach is wearing dark pants. Coach eventually dove at Rock, who caught him and slammed him to the mat. Rock then took off his shirt and got the Jeff Hardy Pop and then hit Coach with the People's Elbow. He finished with the "If you smell what the Rock is cooking" catchphrase.
Rock is entertaining in almost anything he does. He can even get away with mocking minority cultures, languages, and sexual orientations without being all that offensive because he doesn't come across as mean spirited in anything he does. If they were going to give the Diva Candidates segment 20 minutes, that's the best way to do it. The better question is whether that is the best use of Rock? In some ways, it is because to involve Rock in anything else is going to lead to fans wanting to see him become a full-fledged part of the storyline, which isn't going to happen right now. He also risks overshadowing anyone. In the case of the Divas and Coach, that's not a concern. From a TV ratings standpoint and star power standpoint, I'll take Rock riffing on the Divas for 20 minutes over no Rock att all and Tajiri & Rhyno vs. La Resistance match thrown out there for no real reason. The Diva Candidates continue to be mostly bland and unimaginative when given these challenges. Rock kept his credibility by making it clear he knew the Raw Diva Candidates and the whole competition thus far had been far from stellar television.
Ross said they were just getting started. They showed Orton on his back bloodied after last week's beating. He said they'd find out his status after the break.
-They aired a recap of last week's Orton beatdown by Evolution.
-Backstage, Hunter asked Batista if he gave Orton the ultimatum. He said yes. Hunter said Orton is no longer in charge of his destiny, "We are!"
-Kane barged into Lita's dressing room. She yelled, "Get out!" Kane walked up and sniffed her. That's a nice touch to his character, that he's so drive by an animal-like lust for female scent. Kane said he was going back on something he once said. He said he does want her to wear white after all. He presented her with the dress. He told her to cheer up because "after all, it's a nice day for a white wedding."
-Ross plugged William Regal (w/Eugene) vs. Ric Flair (w/Batista). Eugene lives! Lawler plugged Edge vs. Chris Jericho for the IC Title next.
1 -- EDGE vs. CHRIS JERICHO -- Intercontinental Title match
Ross and Lawler said these two just don't like each other. They said it doesn't make either a bad guy, it's just a personal conflict. At 2:00 when Jericho dropkicked Edge off the ring apron to the floor, they cut to a break.
When they returned, Jericho was fighting out of an Edge chinlock. At 7:30 Jericho side-stepped a spear and almost hit the ref. Jericho went for a quick Walls of Jericho, but Edge leveraged Jericho into a small package for a three count. Jericho's feet were in the ropes, though, so the ref waved off his own call. As Edge celebrated on the rampway, the ref said he was restarting the match. Edge protested as they cut to a break.
The pace of the match picked up after the break, with some near falls. Ross talked about how the rivalry seems to be picking up between these two. Edge speared Jericho off the ring apron into the security wall. Edge hit Jericho with a top rope crossbody block at 14:30, but Jericho rolled through and scored a near fall. Jericho then applied the Walls of Jericho. Ross said, "Jericho's gonna do it," so we knew it wouldn't be the end. Sure enough, Jericho reached the bottom rope. Someone needs to pull Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn aside and say that the 20 year policy of having announcers always calling a finish when one isn't coming doesn't add drama; it anything, it takes it away. When Jericho dove at Edge, Edge stumbled back and dropped Jericho over the top rope crotch-first. Edge set up the Spear, but the ref called for the bell. He explained that in his judgment, Edge dropped Jericho over the top rope crotch-first on purpose and was thus DQ'd. Since when is that a rule? Does that mean if you know someone off balance when they're standing on the top rope and they happen to crotch themselves, you lose? At first Edge wasn't happy because he was about to hit his spear when the bell rang, but then he realized he kept his title, so he was okay with it.
WINNER: Jericho via DQ 15:51.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Bad finish to a slightly above-average TV match. The two commercial breaks took away any sense of continuity and took away from the drama of what aired.
-Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista walked out. Hunter said Randy Orton chose to "follow in the footsteps in the greatest wrestler alive today, The Game, Triple H" and not be a disappointment like his father and grandfather. He said because of his choice to align with Evolution, he became a great star. He said Orton's job at Summerslam was to soften up Chris Benoit for him. Hunter said he instead chose to take "my World Heavyweight Championship." He added: "That title is mine. Everybody in the back knows it. Everybody in the ring knows it. Everybody in the crowd knows it. The only person who doesn't seem to know it is Randy Orton." Hunter said the beating Orton took last week was a consequence of the decision he made, "but it was just a warning, it was just a taste." Hunter gave Orton an opportunity to make "the right choice or the wrong one." He told him he could walk to the ring and put the World Heavyweight Championship in his hands, lay down in the ring, and let him take his place as the rightful World Heavyweight Champion. It wouldn't be the first time Hunter was handed the World Hvt. Title belt without winning it. Hunter said if he does that, Evolution will walk away from him and pretend he doesn't exist. He said if he makes the wrong choice, he will see to it that he ceases to exist, period. "It's as simple as life and death," Hunter said. He told him to walk to the ring and "stand before your maker." He concluded, "Time to choose your destiny, Randy Orton." Lawler and Ross wondered what Orton was going to do.
Orton then stepped out with his head hanging, looking conflicted, confused, and intense. He took some deep breaths as he paced to the ring. When Orton stepped into the ring, Hunter asked for a referee to enter the ring "so Randy Orton can make the right decision." A small chant of "Randy, Randy" started. Hunter asked Orton to hand over the belt. He threw the mic down. Orton held the belt, shook his head, and began to hand it to Hunter. The crowd booed. Hunter grabbed it. Orton didn't let loose, but began to smile. He then spit in Hunter's face. Great spot. He then laughed. "No he did not do that!" exclaimed Lawler. "Randy Orton, what have you done?" A loud "Randy, Randy" chant broke out. Orton then hit a charging Hunter in the forehead with the belt. When Batista and Flair went after Orton, Orton retreated with his belt through the crowd. He then struck a Champion of the People pose. Hunter screamed, "Orton, you're dead!" Lawler said this means Orton's days are numbered. Very good segment. They saved Orton's first big interview for another time while firmly establishing that he's anti-Evolution and doesn't fear Hunter.
-Victoria asked Eric Bischoff how he could make Lita marry Kane. Hunter then barged into the scene and shoved Bischoff against some crates. He demanded a World Title shot. Bischoff looked like he feared for his life and then he granted Hunter the title shot he wanted at the Unforgiven PPV. Ross said that would be the first one-on-one match "that we know of" between Hunter and Orton. I'm not sure why that caveat was added. Either it is or isn't their first match against each other. To not know whether that's true or not demeans the historic nature of the match. That's like an NFL announcer talking about the Super Bowl saying, "This is the first time we know of that these two teams have played each other in the Super Bowl." I really don't like when G.M. authority figures back down like Bischoff just did for Hunter. It undermines Bischoff's authority to cave in to the slightest physical threat by a wrestler, even of Hunter's stature. Doesn't Bischoff hold the power to suspend or fire Hunter just for touching him, as happened during the Bischoff-Steve Austin feud? I'd rather have Bischoff look intimidated, but then insist Hunter let go of him if he wants to be heard. Then tell him he believes Hunter deserves a title shot and has it scheduled for Unforgiven,, but if he touched him again, he'll be sure it didn't happen. That would do nothing to undermine Hunter's heel credibility, even if he let go of Bischoff, as it would show he is also a pragmatist who knows how far to go to get his way.
-Eugene and William Regal came to the ring for the next match.
2 -- RIC FLAIR (w/Batista) vs. WILLIAM REGAL(w/Eugene)
Before the match, a recap aired of Eugene's match at Summerslam and how Regal and Flair had a confrontation. Ross plugged tickets for next week's Raw in San Francisco at the Cow Palace. At 2:15 Flair did his face-first bump.
When Ross talked about the "Wedding From Hell" coming up later, Lawler told him not to refer to such a "blessed event" so derisively. He said just because Ross's wedding didn't work out for him, he shouldn't be so negative about other weddings. AAFlair dominated for several minutes with chops, kneedrops, and more chops, then a figure-four leglock. Batista helped Flair, leading to Eugene sneaking into the ring to help reverse the figure-four. Batista then attacked Eugene at ringside and rammed him into the ringpost. Chris "Remember Me?" Benoit ran out to go after Batista. Batista ran at Benoit with a clothesline, but Benoit moved and Batista hit the ringpost. Meanwhile, Regal and Flair both slipped on brass knuckles. Regal hit Flair first and scored the pin.
WINNER: Regal at 12:14.
STAR RATING: *1/4 -- Okay.
-Ross and Lawler again plugged the "Wedding From Hell."
-An "HBK Returns to Unforgiven" vignette aired. Good video.
-Ross confirmed that Shawn Michaels would be part of Unforgiven in Portland, Oregon. It's still strange to hear about WWE going to Oregon after so many years away from the state due to athletic commission regulations.
-The Smackdown Rebound aired.
-Coach introduced each of the remaining Diva Candidates as the phone number for each was shown on the screen.
-They showed the ring being set up for the wedding. Backstage Lita glared into a mirror, then threw something at it, shattering it. Kane was shown elsewhere wearing a white tuxedo, looking quite a bit like Herman Munster. Ross said he couldn't believe this was going to happen.
Kane couldn't stop smiling as he walked out in his white tux with a ring draped in white silk and white pillars. When Lita came out wearing black dress instead of white, Kane scowled. Eric Bischoff stepped out to read one of his favorite passages from the Holy Bible from Ephesians. The minister said he doesn't know them personally, but he knows their relationship is unique. They went to a hilarious music video with Kane smiling, Lita frowning, and a corny song including lyrics, "You're having my baby, you're a woman in love and I love what's going through you. With me inside you, I see it showing. Oh, I see it inside you, do you feel it growing. Are you happy knowing, that's your having my baby, you're having my baby." The closing shot was of Lita balling as Kane sniffed her. That video almost makes up for all the silliness and gaps in logic and damage to Matt Hardy's manhood that accompanied this storyline.
Kane read his vows. He said when he first chose her, he saw her as just an instrument, but now he sees her as much more. He said she is now his property and she will never know freedom and never know the embrace of another man. He concluded, "There is no escape from this day forward until the day you die, you are mine." The minister was speechless.
Lita pulled her vows out of her strapless top. Lita said she hates Kane more than life itself. "You are a vile, horrible man with no soul. Even though I have no choice but to marry you, I want to make it clear I love and will always love Matt Hardy." Kane seemed somewhat surprised by her comments. "The only joy I have in life and dreaming of you having a horrible accident leading to your painful and immediate death. I seriously hope you rot in hell." This is so sweet. I'm sure there's been a few weddings over the years where each person, or at least one person, wanted to say something close to that by the time the wedding day came. Kane said with a smile pasted on his face, "That was lovely," as if to say it didn't matter how she felt because she'd be his soon enough.
The minister then asked if there was anyone who'd like to speak out now against their marriage "or forever hold your peace." Trish Stratus interrupted. Lita seemed drained of life at this point. She said she wasn't there to stop the ceremony, but instead wanted to show her support for "my friend Lita." She said it's terrible she didn't even have a maid of honor on her big night. "So I thought, who better than me." Hey, at least she didn't say "Who better than myself" like almost everyone else improperly says in that circumstance. Trish said normally she doesn't approve of sex before marriage, but in her position, she totally understands. Trish said everything would be just fine "as long as you open your heart just like you opened your legs." Lita attacked Trish. Kane yanked Lita away from Trish. Lawler was concerned because Lita was pregnant.
Kane urged the minister to quickly finish. He asked Lita if she takes Kane to be her lawfully wedding husband in sickness and in health til death do they part. She said, "I... I do." He asked Kane the same question. Then Mat Hardy's music interrupted. Lita looked happy, like her favorite band finally came on stage after a long wait after the opening act. Kane then jumped Kane from behind in the rampway. He gave him a Twist of Fate and hit his head in the process. He entered the ring, grabbed Lita by her hand, and walked to the back. A wall of fire shot up, blocking Hardy and Lita's path. Ross screamed, "They're trapped!" Kane then gave Hardy a big boot. The fire subsided, but Kane then chokeslammed Hardy off the stage to the floor. Lita screamed with concern. Kane dragged Lita back to the altar. A nervous minister finished the ceremony. Kane said "I do." Kane then kissed Lita and carried her to the back in his arms. I have no complaints about that. That was about as well done as a wrestling wedding can get. It was schmaltzy in a hilarious way, gaudy in every way possible as it should have been, and as ridiculous as this angle has been all along. In other words, perfect.
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