MIGUELITO'S NITRO, ER, RAW THOUGHTS
Can someone remind me why I decided to watch this show instead of Smackdown again? I thought that, once upon a time, I had a really good reason. But as the week's go by, I am distressed to find that those things that I loved about the inital Raw are being replaced by those things that I disliked about Smackdown. Add it all up and what do you get? If you said Monday Nitro, you're on the right track.
How did we get to this state? How did WWFE get me to turn on this show? It almost seems like WWFE has gone out of their way to alienate the fans that were attracted by that initial post-extension Raw. Raw is not consistent with whether or not there will be a match or a promo to open the show. Raw focuses far too much on promos and vignettes and gives very little time to matches. Raw focuses on washed-up has beens that we don't care about (no, not Undertaker. Who do you think you are, Scott Keith? I am talking about Hogan - who, until this week - wasn't even supposed to be shown on Raw - and Nash). They took everything that worked on the first Raw, threw it away, and are now doing the exact opposite. It's rather weird.
Wait a minute... focus on Nash and Hogan... nWo match finishes... Giant turning on Sting, er, Austin and joining the nWo... cruiserweights jobbing to a bald-headed monster rookie... What show are we watching again? And when are Okerlund and Heenan going to join us?
If I seem to be stuck on a point, it's because I am stuck on a point. Somehow, Raw has degraded from a promising way to waste away Monday evenings into a mirror of one of the worst periods in wrestling television history. Raw isn't quite that bad yet (though last week's episode was very close), but it definitely isn't the quality television show that we all know WWFE can produce. What's wrong with this picture? Maybe the best way to find out is to look at this week's show.
It's always a promising sign when Raw starts off with a match. Even a match that we know is going to be a major serving of squash, such as Brock Lesnar -vs- Matt Hardy. The problem is, we saw pretty much this same exact match Sunday night. The only differences were the length of the match (the Raw match got just a little more in-ring time) and the Hardy who got brutalized. I'm all for putting over the new guys, and I really like the outlook for Lesnar's future. I just think that the curtain-jerker shouldn't be a 3:00 squash.
I also don't think the Flair gets shunned segments were all that productive. Who cares what the backstage hands think of Flair? Who cares if AA doubted Flair? (And don't get me wrong, I think that Arn Anderson is a wrestling God. This just wasn't a productive way to use him.) Why do we need to hear JR shilling GUILT!!! HE'S FULL OF GUILT!!!! all evening? On the other hand, the interaction between Flair and Undertaker was okay.
Speaking of Undertaker, why is his feud centering on HHH instead of Hogan? I find this very interesting. I'd find it even MORE interesting if I could've watched Smackdown. But those of us who live here in Denver were forced to have our hearts broken as we watched the Kings somehow steal a win over the Avalanche in Game Five. If I remember the Smackdown spoilers correctly, though, Undertaker went hunting for HHH, not Hogan. Which I also find curious.
Anyway, the segment between Undertaker and some guy - I don't know him, but he sorta looks like someone I might've seen on some other show sometime - had a pretty good brawl. Not awesome, but it definitely didn't suck. It was better than listening to the Undertaker blabber on for 10 minutes, in other words. In the end, though, this seems to have been the wrong man brawling with Undertaker (unless Hogan is going to drop the title somewhere between now and the next PPV).
Another thing I want to get straight: I love Booker T. In a rugged, manly sorta way, of course. I think Booker is one of the most entertaining people in all of WWFE. And I love to see Book get screen time. However, I usually end up cringing, because Booker usually gets put into stupid vignettes (the church/confessional vignette, for example) and stupid feuds (against Edge for Shampoo!). I had to cringe once again at "Goldust and Booker T at the Movies."
WWFE, I appreciate you giving Booker the screen time. I really do. And I appreciate your attempts to highlight Booker's comedic skills. But this is just plain silly. It's like an unfunny man telling unfunny jokes who cannot understand why other people don't think he is funny. There's a quality there that cannot be manufactured. QUIT TRYING TO MANUFACTURE IT!
What annoys me more is that Raw can use a solid main-event heel right now. Nash is out, Hall hasn't gotten himself back into Main Event form yet, Undertaker is busy. So you have Austin with nothing to do. True, we've seen Austin/Booker already, but that was a solid feud. It could be expanded on, especially if Booker gets to go over a few times. All in all, that would be much better for business than sticking Booker with Dusty Rhodes' little boy.
I think that's all I have to say about that segment, actually.
Fortunately, William Regal saves us from actually having to watch a wrestling match! This was another one of those silly "Flair is feeling guilty" vignettes, but this one actually started a theme: "Flair = McMahon." Unfortunately, this was what we were ALL hoping would not happen. Apparently, our hopes are going to be dashed just a little later on this show.
Finally, we get a match. And, one would think that it would be a good one: Rob Van Dam -vs- Mr. Perfect. Of course, one would also think that WWFE would be building Hennig up, instead of keeping him firmly entrenched in the lower portion of the mid-card. Is Hennig still being punished for leaving the WWF so suddenly back when WCW was still an entity? Or does WWFE seriously believe that re-elevating Hogan is a moneymaker, but re-elevating Hennig wouldn't be? Perfect should at least be a top-shelf mid-card heel by now. But this is Nitro, of course, so we should just be happy that Hennig isn't being forced to sing.
Anyway, this match was far too short to develop. Basically, it was an excuse for Eddy Guerrero to get in a few good verbal shots on Van Dam, then to miss a frog splash. Hennig deserved more. And so did we, actually.
MOLLY! MOLLY! MOLLY! Molly is quickly becoming my favorite part of Raw, right next to Eddy Guerrero. If only we could get Lawler to SHUT THE HELL UP! Lord, how I miss Paul Heyman on color. Anyway, this is another two-minute special. Normally, I won't complain about a two-minute women's match. But one would think they would add another 30-60 seconds for a tag-team match. They do take longer to develop, after all. Anyway, the heels leave the faces laying, which is always a good thing in my book.
This column was actually lost in the sub-etha at this point. Somehow, it didn't survive the email trip from work to home, and I wasn't in a mood to recreate it over the weekend. It is now Monday morning, and last week's Raw seems like it happened approximately six years ago. Which, come to think of it, is right around the time that Show made his 387th turn to join the nWo, so maybe there is some cosmic significance there.
Anyway, to wrap up the main event, turning Show was not the world's best idea, but as a way to try to save the nWo, it probably works. I still think that having the Undertaker join the nWo is a blazingly obvious Good Idea. 'Taker's no-nonsense bad-assitude would work well with the nWo's pack mentality. And it would get 'Taker over further as a heel. AND it would keep the Austin/nWo hot. But, you know, I'm just this guy who writes this column about the show. What do I know?
I do know that I wish some of the matches from Heat would make it onto Raw. That Tommy Dreamer/Justin Credible match was The Stuff! Guerrero/D-Lo was pretty awesome stuff, too. I think I had things wrong straight from the beginning; instead of just dumping Smackdown, I should've dumped both Raw and Smackdown and started watching Heat. If WWFE is putting on this kind of action every Saturday night, then I've been doing myself a disservice.
But, for now, I'll stick with Raw.
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