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RAW Show opens with Jericho and Christian in the ring playing the guys who got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. They did a little bit of a remorseful promo and called out Lita and Trish. Let me say that they both had the look down. You know the one, the “You are so lucky I don’t have a gun” look. I’ve got that one a few times in the past. They gave the girls Roses, which they used to beat on Jericho and Christian with. I loved that touch. The crowd wasn’t up for that so much. The Dudleys came out and set for the match. Jericho and Christian took on The Dudleys in a match that was really good and got the crowd into it after the preliminaries that are all the Dudleys get to do sometimes. I admit, I’ve been rough on the Duds, but they can go when given enough time and guys who are willing to bump. There was some great work, and the crowd gave a few good pos. Double What’s UP! With Lita nda Trish headbutting the villains in the twig and berries. The Dudleys got the win with the 3D in a match that I enjoyed quite a bit. A really good opener. Ric Flair and the boys of Evolution did a little backstage segment that just showed how much charisma Orton and Flair have. They were great, while Bautista…well, at least he’s got the right guys running with him. Flair was heavily praising HHH’s brains as he is gonna let Kane and Goldberg tear each other apart. They set up a Trish and Lita vs. Christian and Jericho match at Armageddon. Wow, that could be awesome…or it could suck a whole lot. The crowd didn’t respond to the announcement, though it was obviously played to allow the crowd to fill the gap. This audience is strange early on. Bautista got a win over RVD in a match that really showed RVD’s spottiness. He landed right on his head when he messed up float over out of a powerbomb. I hate to see that, as I’ve seen Sabu breaking his neck and the Austin Piledriver. Guys miss moves, I’ve said that a lot, but Rob needs to take some time off, get his head together and come back with a new push and a safer style. He’s great, he should be higher up on the card, but things like this are holding him back. I should also say that Bautista’s entrance is very impressive. Another solid tag team match between Lance Storm / Val Venis and Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak. Cade did a nice promo before the match started that shows why they could go places in this business if anyone just had the guts to give them a real push. Val Venis is very solid in the ring, as is Storm, and I liked this match. Also, I really liked the chesty woman with the short skirt that came down with Lance Storm.
Kane gave a promo that reminded us all that this was the Kane that did that whole Katie Vick thing. It was intense, but kinda icky. Kane can do a promo, he’s proven that, but he relies on the gimmick a little too heavily. Mick Foley came out an announced himself as the special ref at Armageddon, and then La Resistance came out and faced off with him, trying to get him to salute the French Flag. There was a great angle in the 1980s done by Bill Watts where he got buried under the Russian Flag, which is the only time a flag has been well used. They were about to beat on Mick when Rock’s music hit and the place went nuts. I mean, it was HUGE the ovation that Rocky got. He did his great mic work for a few minutes, showing that he lost nothing. The crowd was really into him, completely forgetting that he had been e heel the last he left. Associating with Mick Foley can make anyone a face. While they argue over billing, as Foley had called them the Sock ‘n Rock Connection, they were jumped by the Frogs, giving Rocky a chance to show that he hasn’t lost a step and still has all his timing. It was a hot, hot, hot segment. It would be great if they could keep Rock around, but Hollywood needs him. They managed to keep both Mick and Rock’s appearances on the quiet, which is surprising. This type of stuff is gonna help RAW keep up the improvement. It doesn’t feel like hot-shotting yet, which is part of what killed WCW. Booker T, Rosie and Hurricane took on Mark Henry, Scott Steiner and Test in a match that broke the streak of good tag matches at 2. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, since six man matches are great for hiding weaknesses. Awesome Hurri-Uppercut to Test from the masked man. Steiner also dropped the slowest elbow in the history of wrestling. He looked like he was settling down for a long winter’s nap. Henry and crew won, which was expected. They keep pushing Henry because they gave him a ten year contract back in 1996 with big money guaranteed. Booker got a good reaction, though the crowd seemed a little burnt out by the previous segment. I remember when you could look at Test and everyone would say that he was gonna be huge. The audience got into the match after the break and Booker was a favorite for them late in the match. They need to give him another push towards the top. When Hurricane came in like a house on fire, the crowd got into him BIG. He also took the Full Nelson slam like a champ. Steiner throwing Rosie was also impressive. This was long, but the crowd came to the match late and it wasn’t terrible. Bishoff announced the lumberjacks. This was a nothing segment until Theodore R Long started his spiel, which was great, as always. The ladies took to the ring, with Lita and Trish facing Molly and Victoria. Victoria is all sorts of hot. Fit Finley has been working with the girls over the last year and it’s in matches like this where it shows, as Lita, while not bad, is not on the level of Trish or Victoria, who have been working with the Belfast Brawler all along. Still, I enjoyed it and the Jericho/Christian on the ramp and Hardy getting involved made Trish and Lita look important, not only to the woman’s scene, but to all of RAW.
Well, the main event had a lot working against it. Coach gathered all of Goldberg’s enemies to act as lumberjacks, and the match suffered. Goldberg looked really good to start, but once he got thrown outside and beaten on, Kane took over and made Goldberg look like a human. The crowd interest waned in and out throughout the match. There were some peaks, but a very average valley. I suggest people compare the level of general interest between the SmackDown! main event from last week, where people were really into Brock as the heel and Benoit giving a great challenge to this, where you have a strongish champ being faced with a challenger who hasn’t caught on fully outside of his blood feuds. The ending schmoz wasn’t good either. They are running out of options if they are going to insist on booking Goldberg to be on par with everyone else. He needs to be booked as an over-powering face like he was in WCW to work. They were trying, but they seemed to have taken a step back from that and are paying for it with lessened interest. The main event and a few moments of lackluster work hurt this show, but it was still pretty good. I’d say that RAW is on par with SmackDown! in every area but strength of champion (Brock is far more over than Goldberg) and overall work, where guys like Benoit, Brock, the Guerreros, Angle, and the World’s Greatest Tag Team are going to ensure very good to great matches every week out. Still, they are making considerable strides in booking, as they are trying to make things right. NEWS Another weekend, another death. That’s been the mantra for 2003, and this weekend was no different. This time, it was former WCW star and recent All Japan worker Jerry Tuite, better known as Wall. La Parka found him when he came to say goodbye before heading back to Mexico. He wasn’t picked up when WCW merged with the WWF, and ended up going to Japan, Mexico, and TNA. He was never a good wrestler, but I was always entertained by him for some reason. Same way I was always a Jake “The Milkman” Milliman fan. Jerry Tuite was 36. Nathan Jones appears to be done with the WWE. He walked out during the weekend overseas tour. He had cracked under the pressure while on a flight from Singapore to Australia, and then just walked out before the show even started in Perth. It was probably a combination of things: the fact that he was back in Australia, his lack of improvement, and the fact that they were starting to see real potential in Morgan and were thinking of doing a break-up so that the two would feud. Roid rage has not been ruled out as another possibility. FlashBack! Eric Bischoff. The name itself can bring the bile to the back of many throats. He was the guiding light behind the rise and fall of WCW’s most successful period. He came to the WWE and has been a force on-screen every since. Most folks don’t know that Bisch first came to national notice as a part of the dying AWA. He had an idea to try and turn things around, a concept that has caused laughter ever since: The Team Challenge Series.
The idea was simple, take a bunch of guys and have a draft like in the NFL. The three teams, Sarge’s Sniper, headed by Sgt. Slaughter, Baron’s Blitzers, headed by Baron Von Reschke, and Larry’s Legends, headed by Larry Zybysko, chose the various team members and had a ton of matches, all worth points towards the Team Challenge Series win. The matches were all over the place, and since everyone was jumping off the AWA as quickly as possible, the teams were always in flux. Sgt. Slaughter, the head of one of the team, jumped to the WWF during the year plus Series and they had to change his team to DeBeer’s Diamondcutters. It was embarrassingly clumsy. Even with all the foolhardy work, there were some good matches and a few fun little stories. Zybysko was the Champion at the time and he had a little feud with Nikita Koloff which was kinda fun. Tully Blanchard, the hard working NWA TV title mainstay who had jumped to the WWF but then couldn’t get back into the NWA due to drug issues, came in and had some very good matches. They used a lot of second ref angles to add to the story. They didn’t even update every week, as some things had to be ignored in favour of advancing the regular storylines. It all came down to a Royal Rumble-type battle royal for the win. This was genius. All the AWA’s star were in the match, which was better than most of that day, and it came down to the one guy no one thought would win: Jake the Milkman Milliman. Jake had been a regular jobber for the AWA for at least ten years, and he hadn’t won a single match in the series, but he won the final and gave Larry’s Legends the title. Jake was celebrating until Zybysko pulled the trophy away and gave his own speech taking all the credit for the win and naming himself MVP. It was a classic moment that I enjoyed the hell out of. Here’s the fact: there was nothing anyone could have done to save the AWA, unless McMahon had started feeling sorry for old Verne Gagne and gave Hogan and Hennig back to him. Eric Bischoff, who had grey hair back then, was called in and did almost nothing to stop the carnage. The Team Challenge Series could have worked, but they would have needed to keep the teams the same for the whole series. They did good houses on the first few shows, but then they started to fall apart. The Awa folded a few months after the conclusion of the Series, with a lot of guys never working on the big stage again. That’s another Falls Count Anywhere! Friday will feature another full SmackDown! review, news, and a look at a Cow Palace show that showed how much danger the AWA was in.
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