Last night’s Raw had a little of everything, a show that really focused on wrestling, a fantastic opening segment with two of WWE’s very best, a strong promo from a guy that has been needing one badly, more matches made for Wrestlemania, one very uncomfortable match to watch and that wasn’t because the wrestling was bad, and the return of a WWE superstar that showed up in a town where I’m not so sure she was welcomed by many. Yeah this Raw was really good yet very odd, I’ll explain as the column goes on. By the way the Raleigh, N.C. crowd was pretty boisterous all night, they definitely wanted to be heard and I liked that a lot.
Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle definitely set the tone for a good show and more importantly set the tone for what looks to be one of the best matches on the card at Wrestlemania. Shawn and Kurt were definitely on their game last night. They gave their all in making their match one of the biggest if not THE biggest of Wrestlemania 21. I was totally impressed with Shawn, but even more impressed with Kurt. It’s been a long time since Kurt has really had a major feud, sure he was in the title match with JBL and Big Show, but this one is with Shawn Michales and in one week both men did a hell of a job getting us ready for the show which is less than 4 weeks away. I was very happy that there was no contact between them; the mic work did the job beautifully.
Last week Hunter squashed Hurricane Helms in no time, so it was only fitting for Rosey to want revenge. And even though this was another squash by the Game Rosey was able to get a few good moves in against Hunter and honestly had Hunter not beaten Rosey as quickly as he did I would have been surprised. Hunter added to things by bringing out his pal, the sledgehammer, with one nice swing to Rosey ribs. Hunter left the ring with his buddy and poor Rosey left on a gurney. This wasn’t much of a match but it definitely showcased how cruel Triple H can be so it came off fine. After the commercial we got to see Ric and Hunter. Hunter was all smiles about the way he took out Rosey, but Ric wasn’t smiling. See this is what I wanted to see. Last week it was Hunter that made the match between Flair and Batista with Eric Bischoff. I was really curious to see just how Flair was handling all of this and with this segment we saw a very nervous and very unhappy Flair questioning Hunter’s motives in setting up the match. It took Hunter a lot and I mean a lot of convincing to make Flair feel more relaxed. Not only would Hunter be at ringside but so would his friend the sledgehammer, that was all Flair needed to hear and he was then ready to take on Batista. This segment showed me that turning Ric against Hunter at Wrestlemania would be such a great move. I don’t know if it’s happening but I would love to see Ric give it to Hunter and go with Batista.
It was nice seeing Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Jericho, Edge and Christian in Eric’s office discussing the ladder match. And Eric making it a Money In The Bank match with the winner getting a title shot anytime within the next 12 months gives the match another nice gimmick. I did say only 5 guys were in Eric’s office, and believe me I wondered who the 6th wrestler would be. A few names ran through my mind, like Snitzky, Kane and Hassan, but I kind of ruled out Hassan and Sniztky. I figured since Kane has basically been lost in the Wrestlemania shuffle I figured it would probably be him. Eric made a match with Christian and that 6th member and sure enough it was Kane. Again not much of a match but it definitely had its moments. I liked how the crowd would get into Kane motioning for a choke slam for Christian. I mean choke slamming Christian is just icing on the cake. Also, Eric made matches with each of the ladder participants, and during these matches the ladder was outside of the ring. And even though the matches were not ladder matches, the ladder played a role in each match, which was a nice touch. In Christian’s and Kane’s match, Tyson Tomko used the ladder to take out Kane after Christian’s loss. So I guess you could say the ladder played a very important part of the show last night, it put the focus on just what each of these guys will be facing at Wrestlemania. Trust me the more the ladder is used the more painful it gets, and I’ll explain that in a little bit. Okay now Randy and Stacy are backstage and Randy has decided just who he will challenge for his match at Wrestlemania, and as soon as Stacy asked him if he was sure this is what he wanted Undertaker’s name just hit me like a neon sign.
But before Randy’s announcement Chris Jericho and Edge had the next match. Now this match took some time to get going but once it did it was a good match. And yes the ladder showed up in this one too. Let me just say that Edge and Chris worked their asses off the whole time.
But as good as this was, there was one MAJOR thing that I found totally awkward. I’m sure many of you know that Matt Hardy and Lita broke up, and the reason that is out there is because Lita cheated on Matt with Edge. Now I’m certainly not going to spend time talking about this, the only reason I am bringing this up is because as soon as Edge hit the ring the chants began. I heard you screwed Lita, and you screwed matt, now mind you it’s not like the entire arena was into this but it was enough to make this match uncomfortable to watch. And to top it off, every once in a while JR would come up with comments about Edge that normally you wouldn’t think twice about but because of the situation, things like JR saying Edge doesn’t care who he hurts just kind of made me think of what has happened to Matt Hardy. Plus this show was in Matt Hardy country and you just knew that Edge wasn’t going to get off easy there. So this was the first sign that Edge and Lita were not going to be ignored by a lot of the fans in the arena. Eric Bischoff came up with a fairly neat idea, starting next week in Atlanta, Ga., Batista and Triple H are going to play the Pick Your Poison Match. Batista gets to pick Hunter’s opponent next week, and Hunter picks Batista’s the following week. This way we know both guys will have matches and it keeps both of them away from each other in the ring, so not a bad idea from Bisch. Randy Orton delivered one of his very best promos last night. Randy has been in a slump but he made a nice comeback when he announced that Undertaker is the man he wants to face at Wrestlemania. It will be Legend vs. Legend Killer. Now as I watched this, I see Randy benefiting more by turning heel than staying the way he is right now. His promo was strong and as he was talking he came off cocky, not cocky enough to be a heel but cocky enough for me to realize that with Taker so loved and you could tell that by hearing the fans reacting to Randy’s announcement that the majority of fans during their match are going to be backing Taker all the way. So here’s what I am thinking, I’m thinking that if Randy doesn’t turn before Wrestlemania, he will start becoming that full of himself heel while their match is taking place. Let’s face it Randy is going to be hearing a LOT of Taker chants and I see that really getting
the best of him.
But I will wait until my Wrestlemania predictions to talk more about the Randy and Taker match. After Randy’s super announcement, Eric came out kind of gloating. I loved this part. Eric was so pleased with Randy taking on Taker, HBK taking on Angle that he tells Randy the Board of Directors will recognize what he’s doing and they will offer him more stock options. But Eric wasn’t so pleased about what would happen next. Randy then asked Bisch if he ran WCW, and Eric said yes, then Orton asked Eric if the shows beat WWE 88 weeks in a row, and Eric of course said yes, and then Randy said that would make Eric a legend, and I have to say as Eric is smiling the word legend hit him but not fast enough and he got the RKO from Randy. It’s always fun to see Eric get it, especially when he’s caught off guard. Now the match of the night had to be Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Benoit. This was just a
total to treat to watch. Shelton got to show just how good he is and Benoit does what he always does he makes you want to see more. I couldn’t get enough of this one, and it killed me to see Chris go off the top rope hoping to get Shelton but Shelton moved and Benoit dove right into the ladder. I was hurting watching that move. Chris and Shelton worked such a great match together that maybe this could be made into a feud. I would love to see Benjamin work a program with Benoit, what a great push that would be for Shelton.
Hassan laid in on Eric last night. How could Eric leave him out of The Money In The Bank Match? He hasn’t lost one match yet he’s not going to be in Wrestlemania. He called it discrimination and he called Eric a gutless General Manger. I would say Hulk Hogan will be the one that gives Hassan his first loss. And the more Hassan opens his mouth in the coming weeks the more the fans including me will be watching and cheering when he loses his first match, it should make for great entertainment at the pay per view. Last week she bounced around so much that I said if it continued I would love to clothesline her, well last night she bounced oh yeah she did but she also did a very nice job on the mic. In fact such a nice job that I told my friend Christy should give Torrie Wilson lessons on mic work and facial expressions. I was very pleased with Christy interaction with Trish last night. Very pleased. I will say that I don’t mind them having a match at Wrestlemania but I really wish it would have been a pay back match not a title match. You have Victoria and Molly in the back and yet it’s Christy that gets the title shot. This is what happens when you release most of the talent in the women’s division, your left with two wrestling divas and you can only watch them in matches so many times. So it’s Trish vs. Christy. But Christy can’t wrestle or can she? It seems like she’s been training with someone that Trish knows very well. And who comes out but Lita. I’m thinking DEAR GOD first Edge now Lita and I’m waiting to hear the reaction from the crowd. I did hear a few boos and some chants, but this was done so fast that after Christy gave Trish what I guess was the twist of fate, Lita’s music played immediately I think to die out the crowd. I liked this segment and I do believe with Lita in there it’s going to make the match more interesting to watch. And I know this is crazy but I found it so weird that of all the places to bring Lita out they bring her out in Raleigh. But then again, I’m sure this was booked in advanced and WWE had no idea the Matt/Lita/ Edge story would come out on the internet when it did. So again a rather awkward situation, but a good segment. Christy did a nice job as did Trish.
We see Hunter and Flair on their way to the ring, and Eric stops them with security. He informs Hunter that he cannot take the sledgehammer with him. Either he dumps it or he can’t go with Flair. After a lot of bitching by Hunter and Flair Hunter gave in. That’s when Ric came up with one funny line. After Hunter gave up the sledgehammer, Ric asked him how he could do that, he said “We are the three amigos, it you me and the sledgehammer,” funny stuff by Ric. As far as Ric vs. Batista I have to say it wasn’t main event quality. While it was entertaining I don’t feel Dave looked that great in the ring. He certainly seemed to have trouble selling Ric Flair’s moves; I don’t know this match kind of left me cool. Also I was glad to see Hunter get in there and chop block Batista, and I get it that Hunter is keeping his distance so that we can all see them go at it for the first time at Wrestlemania. But as much as I like the coward act that Hunter does I would also like to see him and Dave do a little interacting, like a mini brawl. I want to see Hunter have enough balls to go after him, not cower every time Batista turns and looks at him.
There were four top stars last night, Angle, HBK, Benoit and Benjamin. This was a fun show a show totally devoted to wrestling and I think they did a nice job building up Wrestlemania. Also next week Batista chose Chris Benoit to face Hunter. These two have has some excellent matches so naturally I’m looking forward to next week’s show.
I’m anxious to see if Randy will show up on Smackdown, if Kurt will keep his promise to HBK. And by that I mean when they opened the show Kurt said that he would do everything Shawn did in 16 years in 4 weeks, this I want to see. And I’m really looking forward to Cena and JBL heating things up. I’ll be back Friday to talk smack and Smackdown, okay well maybe just talk about Smackdown.