Friday, October 3, 2008

NHO Road Report #1: WWE Raw - 9/22/08

Report by Adam and Brian

A: Brian met me in the employee lot at work and we headed down to the arena. When we got there, we walked around for a bit, aghast at the size of the lines that had already formed waiting to get in the doors. Finally, we found a nice spot overlooking the river where we spoke of the simple virtues of Lord Alfred Hayes and Mid-South Wrestling. Once the doors opened and the crowd waiting outside slimmed down, we headed to our seats.

B: I got to the area early so I stopped in at Barnes & Noble's and while there chatted up a cute barista--old habits die hard. I swung into Adam's work lot at 6:32PM sharp and was greeted by his handing over of The Life and Times of Mr. Perfect DVD and a stack of misc. discs for Jessie.

A: We were up in section 211 and our seats were in exact alignment with the ring on the side opposite of the hard camera. I headed down to grab a pretzel and some drinks and talked with a guy who was bringing his son to his first live show. Once back, Brian and I chatted about WCW events that were held in the building and then the show started.

B: Yes, the scene outside the arena before the doors opened was hideous, to be certain. There were mutants everywhere (no I wasn't at Xavier's school) and the smell was noxious. Once inside, found the seats were great, it literally felt like the entire Raw set was sitting in my lap. As Adam said, we discussed WCW shows that had previously taken place in the building, many of which I attended, including several Monday Nitro telecasts, Souled Out '00 (with the controversial Benoit title change), and a house show feat. one of Jericho's last matches in the company, a stellar Vampiro vs. Chris Adams bout, and a pleasant surprise Flair vs. Sting main event.

Dark Matches:

1) Snitsky vs. Rory Fox – A:4 B:3

A: I didn’t even recognize Fox when he came out. Snitsky worked his power offense amidst chants of “brush your teeth”. Fox looked good as he apparently grew about eight inches and bulked up. I figured the match would be a squash but it was actually pretty competitive. Fox scored the upset victory and the crowd popped huge.

B: I didn't recognize Fox at first, either; but I shouldn't feel bad as neither did his middle school sweetheart when he showed up randomly drunk at her house one late night recently. Besides the teeth, Snitsky needs something, a prop or wardrobe change to give him a little more character than just "big, nasty dude." This was fairly good and the surprise roll-up finish was a nice touch.

2) D-Lo Brown vs. Eric Escobar – A:4 B:4

A: I know nothing about Escobar and apparently no one in the crowd did either. He got some generic heel heat when he started cutting a promo in Spanish. Brown got a decent pop when he came out. Escobar’s facials were excellent when he would work a hold. D-Lo hit a very nice sky high and a good looking Lo-Down for the victory.

B: Escobar is yet another in this new "talent initiative" jive and seemed pretty comfortable on the mic pre-match blasting the crowd for being too stupid to know a second language. Fuck him, I'm taking Spanish 201 in college right now. Kid's not bad, though, and he and Brown went through the motions, in an emotionless yet solid match. I was hoping D-Lo would have had flashbacks to his stint in Japan and dump 'ol Escobar on his head but no dice.


3) C.M. Punk vs. Cody Rhodes – A:6 B:5

A: This was a tremendous match to open with. I thought Punk showed quite a bit of intensity during the beginning because it was partially Rhodes’ fault that he lost the World title. Rhodes working Punk’s leg was excellent as you don’t really see holds being applied for a length of time today. Punk did a sweet sequence by scoring with some knee strikes from the ground and then reversing the hold into an ankle lock. Punk gets the win with the GTS and then gets attacked by DiBiase and Manu afterwards. He’s saved by Kofi and they stand tall. Five points for the match itself and a bonus point for the post-match shenanigans.

B: This was really quite good. Punk was able to express his anger and hatred at Orton effectively through his actions towards Rhodes. I like all the mat-based stuff, too. I made the comment live that I'd love to see those two guys given twenty minutes to craft a match in an ROH setting. Rhodes' selling is quite good, especially for his age and experience level, and he made Punk's GTS finished look absolutely gruesome.

4) Santino Marella vs. Deuce – A:2 B:1

A: Santino did some mic work directed towards Batista before the bout. As for his opponent … we get Deuce? Wow, he’s still employed? Deuce got a few nice moves in such as knee lift and fist drop. Santino got the win with a sunset flip.

B: I'm not really buying the widespread Santino love. Sure, some of his material is comedic, but what's the shelf life of his current character? One-liners and playing stupid can only carry someone so far, especially when he's not considered a viable threat in the ring itself. This was a throwaway bout, Deuce deserves better, and maybe the best solution would be placing Marella back in developmental companies for "seasoning" after this wears off.

5) Kane vs. Evan Bourne – A:4 B:6

A: Nothing beats Kane’s pyro live. I mean, damn, you can feel the heat from it in the upper deck! Bourne used his quickness early to attempt to evade Kane and scored a couple of kicks in the process. There was an uber-awesome moonsault to the outside by Bourne and a really pimp double-knee strike from the top that pissed Kane off. A sickening uppercut, three backbreakers, and a chokeslam later, Bourne was done for. Mysterio runs in and attempts a springboard cross-body. Kane kicks him out of the air and pummels him.

B: I'm not sure where Adam's score of "4" is coming from. I fought internally giving this a "6" actually (see below). Nobody, including Rey the week previously, has made Kane look this good in a really long time. Plus, Bourne got a lot of his own stuff off here and it all looked fabulous. His moonsault to the floor gave me a boner I hid with the popcorn box of the guy next to me in a DX t-shirt. Also, much love to Kane, as the ending sequence saw him do all this awesome power shit to Bourne without ever letting go of him. Fuck it, I'm officially changing my score now!

6) Kelly Kelly vs. Beth Phoenix – A:3 B:4

A: Kelly has really improved over the past year. Her springboard armdrag was nice. I though Phoenix would go over here but Santino tried to distract Kelly but a miscommunication by Glamarella helped Kelly get the pin.

B: Kelly is getting better, no doubt, and she'll make me infinitely happier soon enough when she gets her enormous tits out for Playboy magazine. This started a little loose, but got moving, and the aforementioned finish was unexpected. I also loved that Kelly busted out an Essa RĂ­os spot.

7) Cryme Tyme vs. John Morrison & The Miz – A:4 B:3

A: They kept the pace pretty quick in this one. JTG was launched to the floor by his partner is a cool double team move. Morrison and Miz regained control and worked over JTG. Once Shad got tagged, he really cleaned house with a bunch of huge power moves. The end saw Morrison nail Shad with a sick kick to the back of the head that allowed Miz to get the pin.

B: This was kind of awful and really had no reason being so. Miz and Morrison are both underrated, and Cryme Tyme are picking up momentum and finally starting to figure some things out in the ring. So, young talent, exciting personalities, should be fun, right? I'm not exactly sure why it didn't materialize into anything worthwhile. Communication seemed to be a bit off, for starters, and I haven't watched my DVR of the show yet, but live it failed to tell a story us as a crowd could connect and stay interested in.

8) Shawn Michaels & Batista vs. Chris Jericho, Lance Cade, & JBL – A:5 B:5

A: The crowd was super hot for Michaels and Batista. When Michaels was caught in a hold, everyone was cheering and stomping so loud that I could feel the building shaking. Michaels and Jericho had some nice spots including a sequence where Jericho ducked the chin music, attempted the Walls of Jericho, and was then reversed into a roll-up. Cade got the shocking pin on Michaels at the end with the sit-out spinebuster. After the cameras stopped rolling, Michaels and Batista cleared house and glad handed with the fans to send everyone home happy.

B: This would be pretty forgettable save for the hot ending with Cade getting a clean pinfall of the industry's most notorious egoist Shawn Michaels. I will given HBK credit for being able to pop a house, though. Most of my favorite stuff came after the cameras stopped rolling, as the triumphant heels ran back down to ringside only to all eventually eat Michaels' "Sweet Chin Music." JBL's selling was phenomenal during all of this stuff, barely pulling himself up to his feet after having already been laid out, really milking it, only to get kicked in the mouth by Michaels and knocked right back down. Also, if you've got this handy, watch Batista's entrance again as he was a few seconds early on his "imitating a machine gunner" pose which made him look like something other than just a steriod abuser, but an idiot as well.

A: We took Reading Road back up to the theatre and saw some dude who had wrapped his hybrid around a pole at the Norwood Lateral interchange. I dropped Brian off at his car and we drove separately over the Waffle House, which was about five minutes away, and spoke of the virtues of what we had witnessed and indulged in some greasy hashbrowns and eggs.

B: Man, that dude totally wrecked his car into a fire hydrant, and was sitting on a nearby curb selling his apparent neck injuries better than most active wrestlers could ever hope to. Maybe I should have borrowed Adam's iPhone and shot some video of it and mailed it to the offices of a few notable American independents and had their guys study it. Anyway, got back to my ride, drove over to Waffle House while spinning Silverstein's Arrivals & Departures. The waitress was one of those short, mousy types, making eyes at me from across the restaurant while I tried to choke down my cheese, ham, onion, tomato, and mushroom covered hashbrowns. We discussed the surreality of life, "Pretty Boy" Doug Somers, and other things. I drove home in the darkness at 1:30AM, got to my apartment, did some pre-Algerbra homework until 3:30AM, and hit the bed where I dreamt of ditzy Maria putting me in a nude bearhug.

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