MIGUELITO'S RAW THOUGHTS
April 29, 2002 Raw
It is rare to find me in a mood where I don't have a lot to say. But I actually don't have a lot to say this week. So let's get straight to the deconstruction of this week's Raw.
Anyone who has read my column before should know that I love to see Raw start off with a match. And anyone who has read this column before should know that I love Eddy Guerrero (in a rugged manly kind of way). Add those two facts together, and you can imagine just how much I loved the opening few minutes of this week's Raw. Because, instead of having to sit through 20 minutes of Austin, Flair and Undertaker yakking away at each other, we start out this week with Eddy Guerrero defending the Intercontinental title against Jeff Hardy.
The only way this match could make me feel better is if it were given more than five minutes. And I'll be damned if WWFE isn't getting me to FEEL THE LOVE! Eddy and Hardy battle for close to seven minutes. Eddy plays the heel perfectly, getting the crowd firmly against him. As the heel, Eddy is forced to cheat to win. We get a belt shot to put Hardy down, then Eddy Feels Froggy for the pin. Great opening match!
I have noticed a patter with Raw over the past few weeks, and I am going to test it out here. It seems that a match will always be followed by promos taking up approximately three times as much time as the match itself. So, for example, since we just saw a seven minute match, we are now due 21 minutes of promos. Apparently, WWFE has done this to ensure that their shows don't degenerate into WRESTLING shows, but stay firmly in the realm of Sports Entertainment. Or maybe WWFE just hates me. I haven't seen anything to dispute this argument, so it must may be true.
Anyway, after the Guerrero win we are treated to a recap of the Austin/Flair situation. And then out comes Austin to talk for a while. Now out comes Flair to offer his view of the situation. And they just keep talking, and talking, and talking, and talking... Damn, was this segment really less than four hours? Good job of trimming out the fat their, guys! I'm glad you left some time for everyone else on the show.
Coming back from a commercial break, and we STILL aren't going to see a match. Instead, we get some more wacky interaction between Goldustin (thanks, CRZ!) and Booker T. Goldustin isn't happy that Booker is wrestling a singles match; apparently Goldustin wants to try to wrest the title Greatest Tag Team Of All Time off the Dudley Boyz. Booker cannot dig that, Sucka! He's up for a singles face run, dontcha know. Supposed humor accompanies this segment, but I don't see it. I just see a promising Booker/Goldustin feud somewhere in the near future.
It occurs to me that Raw has a shortage of main-event level faces. There's Austin, and that's pretty much it. RVD is the next best alternative, but he is more in the upper-mid card. Kane was supposed to be the main event face to stand with Austin, but we won't be seeing the big guy for quite a while. Bradshaw is being pushed as a main-eventer, but no one really buys him in that role. So that leaves Austin and no one to combat Undertaker and the nWo. Obviously, Undertaker is busy right now. But then again, Austin is being pulled into a program with Flair.
Anyway, there is room for another fan favorite at the top of the card. And I think WWFE really needs to get Booker T into that slot. Fans can dig Booker T, Sucka! They are already popping for the spinaroonie, and for his catchphrase. When Booker is wrestling, there is very obvious fan support already. Turning Booker with this feud against Goldustin is a great way to get the Book fully oer as a face. Let Booker T whip up on Goldustin at the PPV, and the fans will be ready to accept Booker at his rightful place, the top of the card. Plus, Booker has a backstory with the nWo. He could easily be shifted into battle against Hall, X-Pac and Show. It would work, I tell you. And it is exactly what *I* would do if I were in charge. But I'm not, so let's get back to the show.
A wrestling match? On this show? Surely you jest! It would appear we are getting a rematch between Booker T and Rob Van Dam! Their match on the inaugural Raw was awesome, it was a nine-minute tv classic. It also probable set my expectations for future Raws too high. One would expect this match to rule. Unfortunately, the match is just an excuse to get Booker T angry at Goldustin. After about three minutes of pretty good action, Goldustin saunters down the aisle. He tries to punch RVD, but ends up clocking the Book. Rob Van Dam Feels Froggy for the pin, and the Booker/Goldustin feud is getting really close to the boiling point.
Three minutes of match means nine minutes of non-match-time on Raw. Let's get right to the promos then. There's Bradshaw babbling about how he doesn't deserve to be this high on the card. There's Molly trying to talk Jazz out of wrestling Bubba Ray (the hell?). There's another transmission from Stasiak. Throw in commercials, and we did come pretty close to nine minutes there. Hopefully now that I've figured out WWFE's match-time to talk-time, they'll adjust it to give more to the former and less to the latter.
Oh, speaking of Stasiak, have I mentioned how much I am digging his character? I mention this because I have never liked Stasiak before. I have no idea how he is doing it, but he is getting himself over with me. And I am fairly certain he is starting to win some fans in the crowd tonight, too. His goofy promos are part of it, but the main reason he is getting over is the opponents he is choosing. Big Show. Brock Lesnar. All tower over Stasiak; by all rights he shouldn't be asking for matches with them. But he is, and fans dig that. It's a way to earn some respect from the fans, even as you get your ass kicked in the ring. I bet we see a full face turn sometime soon on Planet Stasiak.
Another match! We are up to 3! Planet Stasiak runs into the ring and gets thoroughly SQUASHED by Brock Lesnar. Stasiak tries some token offense in the first 30 seconds of the match, but the last minute is pure Lesnar. Lesnar destroys Stasiak, hits the reverse-TKO, then a running AND spinning powerbomb to get the ref to stop the match. Lesnar looked great, as always.
You know, normally I'd be pretty ticked off about a less-than-two-minute match, but that match was pretty cool. Sometimes, squash is *exactly* what a person needs. Especially when it is fried up with corn, anaheim chile and black pepper. That's some good stuff!
Fortunately, a two minute match means we only have to endure six minutes of non-match time. Come on down, Mrs. Austin. Come on down, Mr. Flair. Flair says he has a message for Austin, but Debra has her own message for Flair: "Don't trust Austin" <SLAP&rt;. That was pretty weak. Why do most of the Flair segments on Raw suck? Flair is deserving of so much more than this. What's next, Flair kissing mannequins? (That actually happened, you know.) Flair gettin buried in the desert? (Ditto.) Flair getting knocked out by a cross-dressing Ron Garvin? (Also has happened.)
The Debra/Flair bit only took up about two minutes, that still leaves some time to kill. Are we going to get a match here? Of course not. It's been a while since we've heard from the Undertaker; let's fix that right now! Undertaker is picking on Sargent Slaughter for some reason. I can't see any real reason for this promo, other than to take up some time that could've been given to a match. Commercial break!
Finally, we get a match. Well, if you can call it that. Austin/Bradshaw -vs- the nWo. Did I forget to mention that Big Show is not here tonight? Way to follow up on the heel turn, WWFE! I'll keep hoping that Show shows up unexpectedly somewhere here in the match and chokeslams the hell out of Austin and Bradshaw, but I am betting that isn't happening. We get the standard brawling between these four, and then a screwjob! Special referee Ric Flair (did I forget to mention he's the special ref?) counts to three after a Stunner, even though X-Pac's foot was on the ropes. Flair laters offers this as a peace offering to Austin, who immediately spurns it. Somehow, this leads to a match next week between Austin, Bradshaw & Flair and the nWo (with Show). If you are following along at home, then you probably already know that Flair and Austin are going to end up brawling next week. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Seven minutes for that match? I can live with that. I like 5+ minute matches, WWFE, and I am sure I am not the only one. Keep the love coming! We can dig that!
Whadda ya mean that wasn't the main event? There isn't all that much more time left for this show. What are they going to squeeze into the time left? Well, since we just had a match, that would mean it's time for a promo. And here comes... Undertaker? When did Raw become The Undertaker Show? Uh-oh, here comes the other half of the main event at Geriatric-Mania, as Old HHH makes his way to the ring. Undertaker is verbally cutting Hogan to ribbons here. The final straw comes when Undertaker calls Hogan a "little bitch." Hogan fires off a couple of weak rights, Undertaker decides to take a powder. Why does the 'Taker look so non-pissed off? Don't tell me we're going to see MORE of him...
We are starting to run precariously short on time here. And we still have two matches! Bubba Ray does a pretty cool pre-match promo, listing some of the women that he has put through tables, and basically guaranteeing that Jazz is NOT going to do the same tonight. I am all for pre-match promos. I think the 20-minute interviews should be cut down so that EVERYONE can get a minute or so of mic time in before their match.
Up next is Bubba Ray Dudley defending the Hardcore title against WWF Women's Champ Jazz. Hmmm... Jazz tries a whole lot of offense that doesn't do very much. Bubba Ray shakes off most of Jazz' offense, right up until Jazz goes low. Jazz with some plundah! Jazz.... has ticked off Bubba Ray! Jazz gets to wear a garbage can, and now here's Bubba Ray making like Rocky to the garbage can. Bubba sets up a table, but then gets KILLED by a guitar shot from Steven Richards, who decided the best way to follow up his loss to Raven on Heat is to win the Hardcore title. Richards' referee counts three, and we do indeed have a new Hardcore champ! Richards and Jazz head to the back and right out the door to a waiting car. Jazz won't let Richards drive. HA! Huh?
I can't begin to tell you how many different ways that segment ruled! Jazz was awesome, the match was played perfectly, and Richards' stealing the title answered the question, "Why the hell would the woman's champion care about the hardcore title?" Good job, WWFE!
We get a quickie vignette with William Regal surrounded by 80's era Hogan memorabilia (ie CRAP!). Regal shows why he is one of the best interviews in the business, totally trashing Hogan, Hulkamania, and Hogan fans in general. That segment should have sucked, but Regal saved it.
Holy crap, they are going to try to squeeze another match in here! It's almost 9:00! (Here in Denver, Raw airs from 7:00 - 9:00pm.) Spike is going to defend the European title against Goldustin. Oh, this one won't last long. Nope, here comes Booker T, there's the sidekick on Goldustin. Spike hits the Acid Drop on Goldustin for the successful defense.
Can I now officially state how much I love the way this Goldustin/Booker T feud has developed? This harkens back to great feuds in the past, such as Sting/Hogan, Tazz/Sabu, Hogan/Andre... Of course, nowadays a few weeks is the longest we can expect a feud to slow-cook before it gets the heat turned up. It was still well done, it allowed the fans to pick the face (Booker) and the heel (Runnels). Again, Bravo, WWFE!
Theoretically our next match should be a Unified title match between Old HHH and William Regal. There's not a whole lot of time left here, though. And for some reason, there's a table set up in the ring. And the table is set for tea. And now Regal is suggesting Hogan join him in a spot of tea.
WHAT THE HELL?
Hogan declines the invitation, then spits tea in Regal's face. Unfortunately, Hogan leaves his back completely vulnerable. Undertaker can't let that pass (because this is, after all, The Undertaker Show) so he comes running into the ring and lays a MAJOR-ASS beatdown on Hogan. Soupbones! Stomping! Undertaker removes Hogan's weight belt, and uses the buckle to bloody Hogan! Hogan's taking a whipping (literally, with the weight belt)! Hogan is a bloody MESS! This is SO AWESOME! Choke with the belt! And a chokeslam as an exclamation mark! Undertaker has just KILLED Hogan here. Hogan's nothing more than a spot on the canvass, and Undertaker is now firmly WWFE's top heel!
Raw closes out with Undertaker presenting the Unified title to Hogan's corpse. That was SO cool. It's not like me to be overly-enthusiastic about such an unpromising main event, but I am actually looking forward to this! I know that WWFE is going to piss me off by letting Hogan go over Undertaker. But I still want to see it!
Well, that was the show. What did I think? The show started with an awesome Eddy Guerrero match. It finished with Undertaker mopping up the mat with Hogan. In between was a lot of talk, but less than we have had lately. There were fewer matches than I would have liked, but some of the matches got a surprising amount of actual in-ring time. I actually really liked this week's show. Hopefully, WWFE can put on something this entertaining next week, too!