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RAW A Welcome Home RAW following a pay-per-view, and it opened with a fine video record of Austin saying goodbye. Having Bischoff spraypaint over Austin’s photo was a sweet intro. Also a nice way to open the in-ring with the entire Team Bischoff getting their own special favors(Bad News Brown used to say that Miss Elizabeth[kiss-kiss-tap-point] did special favors for WWF President Jack Tunney). HHH came out with Flair and Bautista and asked for a rematch. Ugly line of the night said to Mark Henry and Theodore R. Long: “That’s awfully white of you, Eric, no offense guys”. The three-on-one rematch set-up was kinda expected. Booker T pulled a match out of Mark Henry that was not terrible, so for Mark Henry, it was acceptable. Booker got some nice reaction, especially for his spinnerooni. Sloppy Missledropkick. Booker did a sweet Axe Kick, the official Kick of Black Wrestlers, which is a move that I am just now realizing requires a strong suspension of disbelief. La Resistance took on Jindraik and Cade. J+C are apparently tired of the French bull corn and dedicated the match to America’s fighting men and women. Man, La Resistance must have been watching tapes of Ray Stevens, since they have been bumping insanely. Huge twisting Clothesline off the top Jindraik. Conway is really good, and Cade and Jindraik, while not really over, are getting better. The Combination Lift / Dropkick finish was sweet. It’s nice to see tag teams having tag team finishers again. Michaels’ interview was interrupted by Bischoff, which allowed Shawn to do a great promo about Austin. He even called Eric “You incredible Dirtbag.” I was impressed with the intensity that Shawn brought out in the interview. Bisch threw Shawn out, but this is part of the way they are protecting, and thus extending, HBK’s career. Excellent photo review of the Kane / Shane Ambulance match. These things are a good way to get feud ending matches over. Having Kane cross-brand to do the eulogy for Undertaker is an interesting wrinkle. Steiner and Test for a backstage moment, that completely lacked charisma. Stacey stole the scene just standing there drinking her YJStinger. Fantastic Eddy Guerrero promo for SmackDown! at the arena. I’ll be there, and I’ll give ya’ll a report from the seats. RVD and Flair in a match that saw the Frog Splash banned. Flair and RVD both looked good, but the match didn’t flow perfectly. There was some heat, with RVD getting a lot of support from the Texas crowd. Flair put on the figure four, which 20 years ago would have gotten a huge response in TX. HUGE chop block by Flair on Van Dam. The finish saw Randy Orton, who had been doing so-so commentary all match, interfere and give
The Whole Dam Show the DQ win. It sets up the Orton / RVD feud that will 1) get Randy the IC Belt, and 2) produce a couple of really cool matches. Orton looking at himself in the belt and dropping it onto Van Dam is a good set-up. Orton got some loud “You suck!” chants. Coach is in a neckbrace, makes a funny towards Rosie, and has a moment with Bisch about a surprise for RAW next week. They declare that Salt Lake City is the most boring city in the world. Agreed. They announce Raw Roulette for next week. It went so well the first time. The Highlight Reel returned, and in traditional form, he started by talking about his continuing storyline, talking about the match from last night, and then going into his guest, Lita. Lita actually knows how to work a mic, and was good in her exchange with Jericho. They brought out Matt Hardy, who finally jumped to RAW as I expected. He really got a decent little chant, but not for long. Molly came out to complain about not getting the spotlight even though she won at Survivor Series. She actually looked very nice tonight. Molly is cute, just cute. They set up the Lita and Matt Hardy vs. Molly and Eric Bischoff match. The Dudleys and Steiner and Test have a match that is exactly what you can expect with the Dudleys. I’ve been burned out on them for a while, but the crowd are always into them. Steiner needs to go away, and Test needs a real storyline. Stacey was cheering on the Duds, which got her admonished by Test. Nice touch. Dudleys got the win. Well, they turned Matt Hardy after a few minutes by having him turn on Lita in their tag match. Lita looked real good, though her wrasslin’ lacked a touch. She’ll keep getting better. She was then “fired” by Bischoff after he pinned her. It was a good deal, but it wasn’t too much in the ring. Val and Lance Storm were out with the lovely ladies. The “Lance has a Lyndon Johnson” bit is thin, but hey, it may well work to get him over at least a bit. Val then took on Rico in a match that was sound, but far from what these two could do if there were no dumb gimmicks involved. Hey, Christian used his “favor” to get Lita rehired. A nice touch. Three against Goldberg. You can have Goldberg give a job back in a three-on-one situation, but you need to make it look like he stood a chance. He stood his own, which made this not a total backstep, but having Kane come out and save Goldberg only to chokeslam him is a head-scratcher. Yeah, it sets up the feud that they need to do, but do they realize that they are spreading Kane very thin. This would point to UT coming to RAW, as well as Austin going to SmackDown! to help them there. Doing some switch ups now and again is a smart idea.
Overall, this was a show that set things up right for the next month. There are a lot of areas that they need to focus on, but in all, I think they’ve got a good direction for the next few weeks. News Well, there has been a lot of talk about the low morale on SmackDown! of late, particularly among those who don’t tend to whinge much. Heyman, who is not officially in creative, has been pushing his ideas, submitting them and resubmitting them until the writers listen. He has been suggesting that more of the locker room do the same, and some folks have been taking his advice to heart. Survivor Series may have made things worse, as SmackDown! took something of a back seat to RAW. Raw got the Main Event slot, a SmackDown! match was bumped to Sunday Night Heat in favor of the Mark Cuban / Coachman / Bischoff stuff. These type of things happen, but there is a definite rivalry between the two “brands”. I expect that they make an angle out of it and use it at WrestleMania or Royal Rumble. It could be really good if done right, especially if it leads to Brock vs. Goldberg, which is where the money is. Kurt Angle is having a minor neck procedure. He’s not supposed to miss much time, but I’d expect a week or two to go by before he works again. Kurt is one big injury away from retiring, which would kill a potential Hall of Fame career. He’s still a favorite for Wrestler of the Year. Survivor Series A good, though not great, show that came up big in several spots, but also feel short in some sections. The biggest thing was the HUGE step forward they made in the Goldberg Rebuilding. Opening with the SmackDown! Elimination match was a surprise, as it really should have been the Main Event. Of course, since the match has no McMahon in it, it will not be given the spot. Cena did a rap that wasn’t his best so far, but was good. The crowd didn’t give him a big reaction, but he really is a Northeastern character who will get bigger reactions from NYC, Boston, and especially Philly fans. DQing Holly before the match really started was a lame move because if they were serious about pushing a Brock vs. Holly program, they should have had Holly involved in his elimination. The match was good, though since they are protecting Angle’s neck(see NEWS), he wasn’t allowed to play to his full potential. Matt Morgan was sorta made to look bad, but this is recoverable. Benoit eliminating Brock was a surprise, as it should have either been Cena, to elevate him and get him over as a solid face feud for Brock, or Holly, to solidify their feud. Doesn’t really matter, as Benoit got a good reaction for it. Cena getting the final pin was pretty much required. Solid event. Molly vs. Lita for the Woman’s Title. I’m of the opinion that if you build a challenger, you need to do something for them, even in losing. They did no such thing for Lita. She
did start off big, and did kick out of the Molly-Go-Round, but really, this was just another RAW match with little in the way of importance. Molly is a good champ, but Lita could use the belt more right now. Kane vs. Shane McMahon in the Ambulance Match. Well, this was a fun little match. There were some silly parts, and Shane did his huge elbow through the table, making this a match that wasn’t great, but enjoyable. Shane’s loss proves that only Dad is immune to the occasional jobbing. The best thing that came out of the show was Brock and Goldberg showing up on screen together. This is how you build a program: get two guys who have never faced each other, set them up in a position where people see them together but not actually fight, then work for several months to make people wanna buy the eventual match. That is what they started on Sunday. Mark Cuban is a rich and powerful man. The fact that he did the angle with Bischoff was awesome. Seriously, little things like that can make a company strong in a single territory of city even while the rest of the country is doing poorly. A smart plan on the part of the RAW writers to get Cuban involved, and even better putting Orton in the position to knock him. Los Guerreros vs. the Bashems for the WWE Tag Team Titles. Chavo does the job, which makes me think they are going to do the full break-up between the Guerreros on SmackDown!. It was a good match that didn’t get enough time. The Double Slingshot Suplex was a highlight, as was Eddy hitting the sweet Frog Splash on Shaniqua. Shaniqua clotheslining Eddy was a nice nod to Chynna, who used to do that stuff all the time. From the beginning they did everything right with the Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match. They had the teams enter as groups, which got over the fact that they were actual teams and not just collections of wrestlers. They had a match that was super hot, fast at times, and with great action. Easily my personal favorite of the night. The way Booker got to eliminate Scott Steiner before he got taken out by Mark Henry was smart, as losing to The World’s Strongest Man would have hurt Booker if he hadn’t of already gotten a win. They really tried to get Henry over as the top strong man, and it worked a little. Having the guys pile on him to get the pin actually made him look like a tough guy. They used to do that all the time in All Japan Pinfall Battle Royals. The star of the match, and no big surprise here, was Michaels. He stood against three guys and they had to have Bautista come out and beat him. He put on a hell of a performance, which was helped by the fact that Christian and Jericho were two of the guys in there with him. Orton looked pretty good, and Christian was easily the star of his team. He just did everything right. The match was awesomely hot, had the crowd all over it, and when Austin went at Bischoff, it just rocked. The crowd was stunned at the end, which is the sign of a match that connected.
The Austin goodbye speech wasn’t bad, and getting to see him beat on Coach afterwards was fun, too. A lot of folks think that he’ll just be back in a couple of months, likely using the controversial nature of the finish as an excuse. My guess is that they’ll send Stephanie McMahon over, who will take Austin’s place, and Austin will star on SmackDown! in some role. I like that idea a lot. Vince vs. Undertaker in the Buried Alive match was exactly what everyone expected. Now, I don’t know if this means that Vince is now primarily on RAW or if Kane is moving to SmackDown!, but the belief is that UT is out for a few months, coming back when it is time to start his serious feud with Kane. It’s not a bad idea, but it will need some work to succeed in drawing any money. It wasn’t a good match, but they did enough to make it not a waste of time. It didn’t get the type of response that you want, but at least Vince bled a good deal, keeping hope alive. Goldberg got what he had been needing, a strong win over HHH to make him the top dog on RAW. Seriously, I applaud HHH for knowing that you need to do business like this sometimes. The crowd was into Goldberg and his win was big. They should get him into a new feud with someone soon. Perhaps Kane, to keep him warm until it’s time to go at Brock. A Special Look at 2003 I’m going to be doing the Chistopher J. Garcia Awards for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Wrestling Excellence. We’ll be awarding Best Tag Team, Best on Interviews, Best Wrestler, Lou Thesz Award for Good Wrestling, Best Match, and Woman of the Year. This year, were adding three categories that will be voted on by you, our Fanboyplanet readers. The three categories that ya’ll should start sending in your votes for are Best Babyface- This one goes to whoever you think most gets the fans behind them. It’s hard to say that anyone is a true face all the time, but there are a bunch of guys who get you going for their good guy tactics. Think of guys like Kurt Angle, Zach Gowen, Goldberg, and the like for this one, not to mention folks from TNA, Japan, and the various Indies. Best Heel- Who brings out the boos, gets the crowd riled, and just performs the hell out of the villain’s part. Everyone from Brock Lesnar to Kane can be thought of here, with HHH, Bischoff, and Vince all coming up too. Fanboyplanet.com’s Favorite Wrestler- The favorite wrestler of our readers. You can love ‘em because they go out there and give you a great match every time, or because they have a great gimmick, or the work the mic like God. Any reason at all. Send in those responses to (email@example.com), along with your thoughts on any of the other categories, and I’ll compile and report them during the last week in December. December 20th will be the last day for your votes to count.
That’s Another Falls Count Anywhere. Friday will see more, and a special FlashBack! to a guy named Snuka.
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