Todd Martin’s Raw TV report for March 1st
WWE Raw Report
By: Todd Martin
Date: 03/01/10 from Oklahoma City, OK.
The Big News: Raw was again heavily focused on building WrestleMania, and that focus again led to a quality show.
Shawn Michaels came to the ring and said that the locker room thinks he’s crazy and doesn’t believe he can beat the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Michaels said that he knows he is Mr. WrestleMania and that he can end the streak. He invited anyone to come out and tell him that he can’t win.
HHH joined Michaels. He said that he doesn’t think Michaels can win, but then quickly added that he knows Michaels can. HHH pointed out he has wrestled all the top stars of the past 15 years (North American, certainly) and that Michaels is the best he has been in the ring with. HHH said that he invoked DX’s tag title rematch clause against Big Show and Miz for Raw. He said they wouldn’t have to defend for 30 days and that they could celebrate together after WrestleMania. He told Michaels that he believes Shawn will win. Michaels agreed to the tag title rematch.
This was a great start to the show. Both Michaels and HHH were tremendous in their roles, particularly HHH. Their long time real life affiliation also added to the effectiveness of the segment.
They did a series of backstage “comedy” vignettes involving Hornswoggle giving Cheech and Chong Lucky Charms with hallucinogenic properties. They made a diva pajama pillow fight. One of them was rubbing what he thought was Eve’s hair but it was actually William Regal. The other thought Chris Masters was Kelly Kelly.
Later, Cheech and Chong dressed up Chavo Guerrero, Primo Colon and Carlito Colon in stereotypical Mexican attire and fake moustaches. None of them were feeling this. Katie Lea and Yoshi Tatsu were also dressed up with fake moustaches and then a rooster came into the room with Santino Marella’s voice. This was your typical poorly written WWE comedy. It reads dumb but they’ve done much worse.
Randy Orton beat Ted DiBiase via DQ. Orton was booked seemingly like a face here but the crowd wasn’t with him at all. DiBiase worked over Orton with a million dollar dream. Orton came back with a power slam and Garvin stomp. He went for the RKO but Cody Rhodes ran out and Orton went after him. DiBiase rolled up Orton for two. Orton reversed for two.
At that point Rhodes attacked Orton for the DQ. The two on one beatdown by Rhodes and DiBiase on Orton received a decided mixed reaction with some fans cheering and some fans booing. Orton fought back with a dropkick on DiBiase and back breaker on Rhodes. Orton went for the DDT on Rhodes but DiBiase saved Rhodes.
While WWE has done a great job building the main programs for WrestleMania, they have really dropped the ball on this Legacy feud. I outlined what I thought were the problems with the program a few weeks ago, but it wasn’t apparent until this week just how dire the situation has gotten. Orton is seemingly supposed to be a face, but he is so ice cold that the only comparable recent WWE face turn I can come up with is Chris Masters.
That’s even more remarkable given that Orton is a top star and there were points in the past year when a face Orton would have been the hottest wrestler in the company. The goal originally should have been to get over Rhodes and DiBiase but at this point they just need to find a way to salvage Orton. And I’m not exactly sure what you do. It’s a big problem with no easy answers.
Jack Swagger beat Santino Marella in a Money in the Bank qualifier. Swagger hit the gut wrench power bomb immediately and scored the pin. Hopefully they have decided to get behind Swagger again.
Next up was the best segment of the show. John Cena came out and said that what happened with him and Batista at Elimination Chamber was just business. However, the next night on Raw it became personal. I would have thought it was already personal when Batista beat the hell out of Cena two weeks prior, but that’s okay. Cena said that he never had a problem with Batista but that now Batista has trouble with him. He vowed payback.
Batista came out with a bunch of security. Cena made a comment about the security, and Batista told him that the security was there to protect Cena from Batista. God I love heel Batista. Cena responded by calling Batista a “pansy.” Maybe next week Cena will call Batista a chicken and go “cluck cluck cluck.”
Batista said that he wants to wrestle Cena at WrestleMania, and that’s why he did what he did last week. Batista noted that he started at the same time as Cena, and that they are the biggest stars since the Attitude era. However, Cena is the guy that is the name and face of WWE. Batista said that at Mania he needs to prove he is better than Cena, and added that he can’t stand Cena.
Cena responded that Batista needs to be focused because Cena is coming for his title. Cena said that he has worked his butt off for the company and given his life for the business, while Batista shows up late and expects to be handed everything. He called Batista selfish and said that’s real talk.
Batista agreed with Cena. He said that he is out for the money and the titles and doesn’t care about the people. He added that when he is in the ring with Cena bad things happen to Cena. The last time he broke Cena’s neck. Batista said Cena is all talk while Batista is good at the physicality. Batista said Cena can’t beat him and deep down Cena knows it.
This was a phenomenal segment. Batista vs. Cena to me has always had more drawing potential than just about any other combination of the current top stars, and they did a great job of showing why here. There’s a symmetry between their careers. They started together. They became champions at the same time. Cena was legitimately the guy who was pushed a little harder and went a little farther. They’ve got contrasting personalities and styles. That makes them natural rivals, and unlike so many other matches, WWE recognized this a while ago and has tried to keep them apart as much as possible.
This segment was old school pro wrestling in all the right ways. You had two wrestlers (particularly Batista) explaining very clearly why they wanted to fight and why it was important that they win. This segment could serve as a basic template in a lot of ways for every championship program. You need to switch up the specifics, but the reality and gravity of it all was so effective. It was one of my favorite Raw segments in quite a while.
MVP beat Zack Ryder to qualify for Money in the Bank. This was a total squash that treated Ryder like a complete joke. MVP just hit balling and the playmaker for the pin in no time flat. This was your typical WWE of the last five years segment, where rather than giving a new act a chance you just bury them at the very beginning and make it clear to everyone that they aren’t to be taken seriously. It’s so stupid and counterproductive.
On another note, I don’t understand what they are doing with this year’s Money in the Bank. Usually Money in the Bank is a showcase for a bunch of hot midcard acts so they can push someone to the next level. This year, the field is a bunch of guys who have been repeatedly buried (MVP, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger) or are moving in place (Christian, Kane, Shelton Benjamin). Hopefully they have two strong additions to the match in mind.
Eve Torres won a diva pajama pillow fight over Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly, Jillian Hall, Maryse and Alicia Fox. They were all wearing little girl outfits and hitting each other with pillows. It’s strange that they consider women wearing skimpy attire to be problematic family programming but that they consider the fetishizing and infantilizing of women to be fine. If I were a parent I’d be more concerned with the latter. In any event, everyone went after each other. Gail hit eat defeat on Alicia but Eve knocked Gail from the ring and hit a somersault leg drop on Alicia for the pin. Eve is apparently the next challenger for Maryse’s title.
They announced Mad Dog Vachon for the Hall of Fame and aired a good video package on his career. It’s a little strange they would do his induction in Phoenix, but he’s certainly deserving of the honor.
Vince McMahon introduced Bret Hart. Bret came out walking with a crutch and a cast on one leg. It looked kind of comical, actually. He angrily told Vince to leave the ring so he could say goodbye. Vince said he didn’t invite Bret back to say goodbye and challenged Bret to a fight. Bret pointed out his leg is broken. Vince said that Bret has no heart and is a coward. He kept yelling at Bret like a total cartoon character and kicked out Bret’s leg. Bret finally accepted the match. Vince then said that next week he will show what kind of shape he is in when he takes on John Cena.
This leg injury isn’t helping the Bret/Vince program at all, but equally as problematic here in my opinion was Vince’s acting. Again he was way, way over the top with his goofy, hammy acting. That stuff worked with Steve Austin because the program there was in general more over the top. But with Bret being more subdued and natural in a program with serious real life issues, this segment came across like an argument between Ricky Steamboat and Daffy Duck.
I’m sure this segment worked for some people, but to me the program is moving in the wrong direction. Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker and John Cena vs. Batista felt more “real” on this show than Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon. Vince needs to start working with Bret rather than trying to outperform him. They announced Criss Angel as the guest host next week as well as Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase.
Big Show and Miz beat Shawn Michaels and HHH. Show Miz worked over Michaels. HHH tagged in and hit punches, a face buster and a spine buster on Show. He went for the pedigree but Miz ran in and was caught with a spine buster. Show used the distraction to hit a choke slam on HHH but Michaels then nailed Show with sweet chin music. Michaels got the tag and hit a flying forearm, inverted atomic drop, slam and elbow off the top on Miz.
Michaels set up for sweet chin music, but Undertaker appeared the screen. The idiot Michaels rather than just going for sweet chin music stopped what he was doing to stare intently at the screen. And not content to just stare at the screen from where he was, he proceeded to walk across the ring past the Miz so he could watch the screen from a slightly closer position. Miz of course was now behind Michaels and rolled up the moron from behind for the pin. I really wish they would retire the distraction spot. It’s so unbelievably stupid and unrealistic, and they use it incessantly. Used sparingly it could help to build programs but used so often it makes matches look fake and wrestlers’ actions look like contrivances.
After the match, Sheamus attacked HHH. He laid out HHH with a clothesline and ax handle. He kicked HHH into the announce table and kicked him again over it. This was just a brief little angle, but it was smart to stick it at the end of the show to try to give it a little extra resonance when there were so many big angles at other parts of the show.
WWE is at its best when it is focused on building specific matches on a major PPV, and it is honed in on building this WrestleMania the right way. While I didn’t like this edition of Raw as much as some other recent weeks, it was still a good program highlighted by a great segment building the John Cena vs. Batista match.