The normal WWE and Raw videos play in their respective order and we go right into the fall-out from Survivor Series. No pussy footing tonight! As the fireworks go off and Joey Styles welcomes us, Eric Bischoff is shown standing in the middle of the ring and he looks pissed. If I got my butt handed to me on three separate occasions the night before, I think I would be too. Bischoff goes on to say that he is calling out everyone from the back because they not only failed the Raw audience, but they failed him. He then says that he put notices in the locker room that failures won’t be tolerated and he then orders everyone out. No one comes out so naturally Bischoff freaks out and says he is going to go to them and fire the first person he sees. So who comes out? The locker room? Jeff Jarrett? Jesus?
Well, as much as I’d like to see Eric Bischoff try and fire my messiah, I have to say it didn’t happen. Vince McMahon’s music hit next and he walked his ass on down to the ring. Upon entering the ring, Vince asks Bischoff if he was going to fire the first person he would see and he then reminds Eric that he is the chairman of the WWE. McMahon goes on a mini-rant about his love for the job and business (I won’t touch that one ’till later) until he settles on the point we all wanted to hear: Bischoff won’t be firing him or anyone tonight! McMahon then says that no one came out because he told them they didn’t have to because it’s not about the locker room, but rather the job Bischoff did. He goes on to say that Bischoff said he would do three things last night, but didn’t get one thing done. Counting must be a definitive quality to have in the WWE these days. McMahon then says that since Bischoff can’t reach these goals he sets, he must be a failure. He goes on to talk about how Bischoff had success in WCW but burned it to the ground and he asks if that’s what going to happen to Raw. Bischoff, like the child caught in the cookie jar, begins to flip out saying that his record speaks for itself. McMahon, in one of his more entertaining roles, takes the opportunity to utter two phrases, one old and one new, both of which I feel should be worked into the every day conversation of Vincent Kennedy McMahon: “Shut up” and “Your record sucks.” Think about it; it’s your first day on the job and you go to meet McMahon for a booking meeting or whatever. You get ready to pitch your first storyline and before you get three words out, McMahon fires back with “your record sucks” with the spit flying in all its glory. How great would that be? Even more, how great would it be to be the guy who hires those poor fools and sends them to the slaughter?
From there, McMahon goes on a mini-rant about perception being reality and if they perceive Bischoff as a failure, they will perceive Raw to be one. If they perceive Raw to be a failure, they will perceive him to be a failure. Apparently, Vince is a lot of things, but not a failure. Well, at least in wrestling; outside of wrestling, you’ve seem to fulfilled a lot of venues like in football, right Vince? From there, Vince lays down an ultimatum that Bischoff needs to set a goal tonight and reach it tonight or he will be looking for a new General Manager. Bischoff then goes on a blubbering tantrum about how it’s not an easy job, he’s been here since 2002, and that SmackDown! has a revolving door with the general managers. Bischoff then calmly asks McMahon to reconsider because obviously no one could replace him. McMahon gets that look in his eye (the same look he probably got when someone mentioned football) and looks to the entrance ramp as the music of his bouncing baby boy, Shane O’ Mac, hits the arena. Man that had to be one of the biggest pops I’ve heard for a McMahon in a long time; even bigger than his one at Raw Homecoming. Side note: notice how all the McMahons have names for the trademarked stances and what-not? Vince has the power-strut and Shane has the Shane O’ Mac shuffle. What does Stephanie have? The boob bounce? Anyway, Shane hops into the ring and embraces Vince before remarking that he never really liked Bischoff and is looking forward to him going. He then says that he could replace Bischoff as he was born to do this job. In the most anti-climatic way to end an opening segment, his music hits and that seems about it. To WWE’s credit, the McMahons stare down Bischoff and taunt him as he leaves, but it still doesn’t do anything to remedy the horrible ending to the segment.
Commercial break times one equals another drawn out McMahon segment. Can we go a month without one?
As Shawn Michaels hits the ring with his music in tow, it seems WWE experiences some technical difficulties. Normally, I wouldn’t mention it, but I just love that the technical difficulties screen image has a picture of Triple H looking like he just misplaced his bottle of water. WWE is great at using every venue possible to try and get over Hunter.
Shawn Michaels Vs. Carlito
Holy shit, Carlito can still work! This was definitely the major thought going through my mind during the whole match and that’s one hundred percent cool. Why that thought though? Because this match was freaking great! This was literally the best Carlito match I’ve ever seen and with the stinkers he has had this year, it’s about damn time. Carlito had some good matches with Ric Flair, but in all honesty, those two were just carry jobs in every single way. This match was the complete opposite as Carlito was carrying his work load not only well but better than I thought he ever could. Carlito’s offense showed intensity, rage, determination, and overall, just a massive improvement. Oh, before I forget; commercial break times two equals a cool opening to the match, pun intended. I loved the leg opening that was given when HBK botched his nip-up and how Carlito just zoomed right in on it. Carlito had been semi-working over the back early on, so why would I compliment him for switching his game plan? Well, whenever I bitch about someone’s game plan being shifted and killing the psychology, it’s always because they are the ones shifting simply because they are in control. For example, JBL shifting the focus at No Mercy from a limp Mysterio neck to a stiff Mysterio back; why shift it when all you have done is focus on the neck and nothing Mysterio has done has given you an opening? Here, Carlito got an opening and a damn good one in that botched nip-up. In any case, the whole match was great and definitely something that should have been on PPV. I loved Shawn Michaels selling the injury especially to the point of cautiously climbing the turnbuckle. God, a class on selling by HBK could probably last days, and it’s something WWE needs to put thought into doing and forcing all their wrestlers to go too. In the end, after buckling from the pain twice already, HBK finally connects with the Sweet Chin Music and sends Carlito for a trip to the stars while he picks up the win in a fabulous match.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Star Wrestler: Shawn Michaels
Carlito was amazing in this match especially considering how awful the guy can and has been this past year. His offense, timing, focus, and expressions were on a great level tonight, but none of it matched HBK. HBK’s selling tonight was perhaps some of the best I’ve seen in a long, long, long time. The way he buckled, walked, climbed the turnbuckle, and even breathed just conveyed the image of ultimate pain to the crowd and judging by how loud the already deafening crowd got, it definitely worked. This was one of those rare matches that show just what Shawn Michaels can do with just half a come back, chops, and selling. Shawn Michaels is a true god and I hope I see a re-match between the two in the future. Even more, I just remembered these two already faced off this year and actually had one of Shawn Michaels’s only bad matches of the year. Well, I think I can safely say both are forgiven for that match because of this great one we just got here. Amazing work, you two.
Bischoff is then shown backstage and Angle and Daivari make their way into the room screaming about how big of a screw job it was last night considering Daivari was the ref, and not a random SmackDown! ref. Angle demands something be done or he will make what the Boogeyman did to him last night look like nothing. With that, he storms out and leaves a thought as to how exactly the vicious Angle gimmick should be played. Pissed off, surly, intense, threatening; need I go on? If WWE would book him in more situations like this instead of just walking away from a Cena challenge (I don’t think he will ever live that down), WWE might just salvage the damage they have done to the character.
Commercial break times three equals a hot, hot, hot match followed by the very definition of how vicious Angle should be played outside the ring.
Back from break, the announcers thank P.O.D. for the song (when it should be the other way around for exposure) and a highlight reel of Big Show and his elimination last night is then shown which I guess is to get over Big Show more. I think WWE has some big plans in store for Big Show in 2006. The way they are building him up is just not happenstance. It could be pure stupidity, but I like to have more faith than that. They then pump up the SmackDown! Special the next night which will have Mysterio versus Big Show. From there, WWE shows a recap of the horribly lackluster Last Man Standing match. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback about people asking just why I hated the match and it’s just because it was a bad combination of Triple H big matches as well as predictability and just some horrible selling here and there. To be blunt, it was poor and pathetic considering the Taboo Tuesday match the two had. When you have a match like that, you should not be having a match like last night ever again. I might expect that from a lesser talent, but Triple H and Ric Flair? Hell, no!
Eric Bischoff is then shown in the back again massaging a headache when Maria walks in and asks, in the best way possible, if he is going to get fired tonight. Bischoff plays it cool and asks who sent her here to which she replies Shane McMahon. Couldn’t be Ricky Steamboat or Ted DiBiase? Come on; throw a curveball here and there, WWE! Bischoff freaks out at the innocent and adorable Maria next and says that he is still the General Manager and he is going to send her out to the ring to have a match with Kurt Angle. She says she’s not a wrestler, but an interviewer. Bischoff then says McMahon asked him to set a goal and he is: he wants to make sure he will never hear another question from her. He then demands her to get to the ring or she is fired and Maria just shoots a look like your five year old niece would if she did something bad. God, I feel bad now. Man, she’s good!
Commercial break times four equals poor Maria!