WWE presented their second (read “last”) Saturday Night Main Event NBC special this past Saturday on NBC. Although better than the first one, there was nothing too special on this program. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Orton was confirmed for SummerSlam, and the storyline actually started out really well, thanks to Brooke’s addition. However, Hogan’s refusal to bring his daughter and his old carcass to RAW shows had to make them shift gears rather quick, and it wasn’t long enough until they crapped on the great first segment. Hogan got RKOed on a car to make things official. This had potential, but due to them having to do everything in one night, it died quick for me.
Nothing else was of note on the show. Edge and Cena had a sloppy match with a scary botched spot, and an ending designed to provide for a cool visual, which it did, with Cena doing the FU on Edge from the steps through the announce table. DX destroyed the Spirit Squad, which I’ll discuss later on, and we had to have a WTF segment, as ‘Taker couldn’t get destroyed by one monster again, so he had to have two take him out. They also announced Undertaker vs. Big Show for ECW on Tuesday, which was like announcing Harry Poter vs. Voldemort (credit: Trevor Hunnicutt) for the WWE Championship at SummerSlam. At this point in time, Tracy Smothers vs. The Blue Meanie would have been a better choice.
Of course that wasn’t all, as RAW hit the airwaves on Monday night. It was a decent show, compared to recent weeks, where it was crap. The DX jokes were not as childish and juvenile as before, and some of the humor on the show was actually good. DX should be the second main event, instead of the final act on the show, and something should happen as soon as next week to get them in a different direction. They have gotten the best out of the Squad one too many times now, and beating five guys (six on RAW) all the time so easily, especially when they’re the tag champs, is no good. They plugged the heck out of a John Cena vs. Umaga match, which was booked well for a change. Umaga got the victory after Edge “screwed” Cena to add more heat to their already-dead feud. Of course, that’s what they want you to think, and nobody out there realizes this is far from good. Umaga’s unbeaten streak continued – that’s great, but so what? He’s been having this streak for months now and I’m yet to see anything come out of it or him making any money for the company, or even involved in any major feud. If you’re going to spend so much time and effort into pushing someone, even if it is the wrong person, then you might as well do something with it or go all the way. Not stick him on Heat for a month. Cena vs. Edge is now cliche. They’ve fought one too many times for it to be interesting. The only reason it was good the first time around was because it was fresh, with Edge as champion being something new and creative. Now that we’ve seen it, recycling it doesn’t help. Triple H booking 101.
Also on RAW, Shelton Benjamin was outsmarted by Carlito in a decent match. I hope they come up with something for Benjamin. He’s improved his game a whole lot, and to me is personally one of the best wrestlers on RAW right now. It’s a pleasure to watch him in the ring every time, and he can definitely make it big. A few years ago, a good manager would have done wanders for his character, but that period of time is long dead. WWE management has told Carlito to completely change his in-ring style and play face to the fullest. He has done an amazing job with refreshing his repertoire, incorporating very diverse moves from high-flying spots to quick grapple holds. They have big plans for him for the rest of the year, which is good – he’s definitely the breath of fresh air they need on top of things. This is also why they’ve slapped Trish on him. Lucky bastard.
Speaking of Stratus, there have been many of rumors surrounding her future. Her contract with WWE expires this fall, and she has made it clear that she wants some time off, as she’ll be getting married and going on a honeymoon. Stratus, in interviews, has mentioned thinking about a career outside the ring as an actress and pursuing other avenues once married. I am not sure if it’s her way of getting a better deal with WWE, or she truly believes that, but she does have a lot of potential to work outside wrestling. She’s really done all she can in the ring and she will be remembered the way she wanted to go out – as one of the greatest women’s champions and divas the company has had. Perhaps the smartest move in her career was never saying “yes” to Playboy, though they’ve tried numerous times. She’s mentioned before she doesn’t want to do it because she wants to be remembered for her wrestling, not for that. (Sorry, Torrie.) We wish her the best of luck with whatever endeavor, and I would suggest leaving WWE at this point in time.
On the topic of the future, don’t expect the Spirit Squad to hang around for too long. The five members of the Squad were told on RAW that the group will be broken up in the near future, if not right away. Ken Doane, also known as Kenny of the Squad, is the guy to watch, as some have considered him to be of potential World Champ level. As for the rest of the guys, I’m not sure what’s in store, but I would suggest for one or two of them (Kenny?) join DX. That’s at least what I would do if I wanted to push young talent through the roof. Just see what Evolution has done for Randy Orton and Batista – they’ve become two of the company’s main players. I don’t know what the chances of that happening are, knowing know Michaels and Triple H operate, but it’s an idea. I think it’s too soon for WWE to break this group up. Once again, they’re not following up on a long-term push. I feel that this group could have turned face by turning “street” in a made gimmick, but I guess with DX and Cena on the show, there’s no more room for faces.
In some sad news, wrestling legend Bob Orton Sr. passed away on July 16 – five days shy of his 77th birthday – in Las Vegas. A star of pro wrestling from the 50s through the 70s, he’s the father of “Cowboy” Bob Orton (Bob Orton Jr.), as well as the grandfather of current RAW Superstar Randy Orton. He certainly leaves a legacy behind, as he was big in the north and Florida, having worked for AWA Midwest and NWA Missouri, and NWA Florida among other organizations. On behalf of all of us at TBL, I’d like to extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of Bob Orton Sr. May he rest in peace.
Big Show and The Undertaker had a match that was basically set up to promote Undertaker’s bout with The Great Khali at The Great American Bash PPV. This is not how you book ECW. This is clearly not ECW to begin with. People can’t get upset with WWE for this anymore. Just get it through your heads – this is not the same company, and these are not the same fans. The old ECW fans would never chant for this main event the way they did tonight, and the old ECW fans would not care about 7/8 of this show, minus the CM Punk vignettes, perhaps. The ironic part of this show is that the potential has been there from week one, and in their sick ways, WWE has just kept on killing it into the ground. There was a certain segment many will be discussing – Paul Heyman kissed Tommy Dreamer on the lips, before Test destroyed Dreamer. I don’t know why, but I didn’t think it was all that bad. If you followed ECW, that was a gimmick the FBI used to do – “The Kiss of Death.” You’re a marked man in the mafia world if you get kissed by the big Don, and that was the intention here. I like the idea of Heyman acting the way he is. The only thing that needs to change is for the storyline to eventually turn down the line to be ECW vs. ECW where Heyman wants a new vision of ECW (WWE oriented), and guys like Dreamer, Van Dam, and Sabu want the old ECW back. I hope they go for it.