What makes somebody snap? That seems to be the theme of WWE programming these days as friendships, alliances, and tag teams are being pushed to the limit with the allure of Wrestlemania on the horizon. Last week, Shawn Michaels superkicked Smackdown's general manager, Teddy Long. and declared his career over. That sentiment loomed large over this week's edition as well as the questions regarding Bret Hart's feelings on Vince who "screwed him again" and the mindsets of the six competitors in this Sunday's Elimination Chamber Pay Per View. Would we get more questions than answers or vice versa? And would Jerry Springer tame the chaos on Raw or encourage more? Let's recap:
Raw started with a local girl singing the national anthem, which is usually not on TV, but given it was president's day, that girl got to be the talk of her high school and probably got Raw a few extra viewers in those first few minutes. Those who stayed with the program had to shield their eyes as Sheamus brought his frigheningly pale body to the ring to face the oiled up Viper, Randy Orton. Decent match, but I wonder why they did it again after having the two face at the Royal Rumble. Sheamus is getting over well as a heel, so are they testing the waters for an Orton face turn?
Orton certainly got a face reaction after the match, which ended in disqualification when Orton's Legacy brethren interfered on his behalf. He didn't particularly enjoy getting DQ'd, and responded by RKOing Cody Rhodes while Sheamus took care Ted Dibiase with a bicycle kick. Orton then RKO'd Sheamus for one of the biggest pops of the night. I wonder if Legacy is truly going to split after this, and if so, which way will they each go. Given Orton's reactions, he might have to play the face to Rhodes and Dibiase's heel, which I'm willing to bet was NOT the original plan. This is one story worth watching as it will be one of hte most compelling on the Road to Wrestlemania. Look for it to further in the Elmination Chamber as both Dibiase and Orton will be involved.
Next was Bret Hart's address. While most of us have been enjoying the nostalgia surrounding the return of the Hitman, the WWE has toyed with the fanbase in regards to a possible Hart vs. Vince McMahon match at Wrestlemania. Last week, Vince accepted the idea of a match, but then renegged, leaving Bret to believe that he won't get the opportunity to fight Vince. Thus, this address was him saying goodbye. Those of us that know that the match will most likely still be happening didn't buy it for one second, but the way to further Bret's story was very interesting to say the least......
After Bret left the ring, he was saying goodbye to some superstars and then gets in his limo, saying goodbye to John Cena last. As he gets in, an old BMW backs into the door and smashes Hart's Leg in between the door and the car. Panic ensued and Bret was taken away in an ambulance. Often times, I can see things coming on Raw, but that was definitely a surprise. I can see this going two ways:
1) Vince set up the hit and now will accept a match with Bret. Bret will accept even though he is hurt and will get beat up because he's helpless due to his injury. This will happen until the week before Wrestlemania when Bret reveals that he is healed and the match will be between two healthy men!
2) Cena and Bret set this up to bait Vince into agreeing to a match because he thinks Bret is hurt. Cena and Bret can play Vince until the contract is signed and thus, the fight is on and Bret was never actually hurt.
I would be surprised if the end result was neither of those things, but it's possible. I have to think it wasn't just an accident by a blonde, but even if it was, expect Vince and Bret to face off in Phoenix in 7 weeks.
The next segment was a big disappointment to me. It was a match between the "reunited" MVP and Mark Henry and ShoMiz. MVP got the pin on The Miz in this non title matchup, which would seemingly further their individual feud and perhaps set up a future title shot for HenVP, but the reason I am disappointed is that Miz is the best mic worker in the business in my opinion right now. Having a Raw without a Miz promo is almost akin to a Raw in 1999 without a Rock promo. He is getting closer to Rock territory than anyone in a long time and the kid needs to be on the mic. Add that to the fact that the new champions lost their fight match as champions and you have a weird segment to say the least. While watching it, I suggested to my friend that they should do a match at the Elimination Chamber between the two teams that is 2 falls. The first fall would be a tag team bout where obviously the team to get the fall gets the Unified belts. After that fall, it would become a fatal 4 way for the U.S. belt and that second fall would determine the United States Championship. This would challenge the tag teams and make for an interesting dynamic and give the WWE a fun new way to defend all the belts while one man holds multiple ones.
The second hour of the show began with perhaps the most pointless segment I have seen in a long time on Raw. It was a mock Jerry Springer show hosted by Jerry himself. The whole thing was 10 minutes of WWE superstars and even commentators creating farcical situations to fool Jerry into thinking the WWE personnel were like those that come on his show. The end of this whole charade which included such ideas as baby daddies, transvestites, cheaters, and midget love was the revelation that the superstars pulled one over on the controversial TV host and that Mr. Springer himself was into WWE's resident vomit break, Mae Young. Eleven minutes later, and I wish I had those minutes back. However, there were a few clever lines thrown in that did get me to laugh. The point is, you don't need an over the top segment like that just to get 3 laughs in 10 minutes. That's not a good ratio. However, Santino needs to get more mic time. He is absolutely hilarious.
Next was the second of the 3 one on one matches between the competitors in the elimination chamber, this one pitting Kofi Kingston against Ted Dibiase. In a short match, Ted got the clean win using his dream street finisher. This was pretty shocking to say the least. Kofi has been going to the brink with Legacy leader Randy Orton and even went over him once, but yet Legacy lacky Dibiase was able to beat him so fast? Doesn't seem to make sense in that regard. I think the idea they want to plant is that Dibiase's finisher is dangerous and he is an actual threat in the chamber since going into tonight, he was clearly the least likely to win. This ups his credibility a bit and furthers my prediction that Dibiase will pin Orton in the chamber to further the Legacy tension and split.
After finding out last week that Ted's father, the Milion Dollar Man, was the first inductee of the 2010 hall of fame class, we found out the second inductee was the man who took on Muhammed Ali, Antonio Inoki. I don't know a ton about him other than that epic encounter and the fact that he started New Japan pro wrestling which has been stomping grounds for many American wrestlers at some point or another, but from the looks of the video, he should have a strongest jaw competition with Jay Leno. That think is solid!
The pre-main event was the "confrontation" between John Cena and Dave Batista.........which didn't exactly happen. So much for the spoiler that Big Dave would be at Raw. Instead, "the animal" appeared via satellite and announced he'd be at Raw NEXT week to discuss things with Cena. As much as we all want the instant gratification, it makes sense to push this back as this weekend is the Elmination Chamber and the focus should be on that. Once that is out of the way, full focus can go on stories like that which will inevitably lead to Wrestlemania matches.
After their little banter, which was surprising well done on both ends, Triple H comes out for their main event match. isn't it crazy to think that just a few years ago, Cena was facing Hunter for the first time at Wrestlemania (I think, I could be wrong on this), but now it's a matchup that has been seen more than the New York Mets see team doctors. Either way, when these two goliaths match up, they usually do pretty well against each other, but I wasn't impressed with this matchups. It was more predictable than other encounters and I was so focused on what might happen after the match that I didn't pay too much attention to the match anyway. The match ended with Sheamus interfering, leading to a disqualification. Both men end up suffering at the hands of the redheaded James Hetfield look-a-like and Sheamus stood tall with his belt as Raw went off the air. They are really putting a lot of stock into this guy and he is finally getting over as a main event heel. I wasn't sure at first if his fast push would work, but it seems he has enough talent to make it work.
One important thing to note is that Shawn Michaels was nowhere to be found on this entire episode. Clearly, they are selling the idea that his "career is over" and he'll only come back it would seem if the right Wrestlemania opportunity came around. Either way, his lack of appearance actually gages interest around the Heartbreak Kid and makes us wonder what his Wrestlemania fate will be. For so long, many of us assumed he'd find a way to face the Undertaker again, but it's looking about as likely as Jillian Hall winning a karaoke contest. The Shawn Michaels saga is one to follow, as this time of year, HBK is often the most intriguing performer around.
When Raw first ended, I thought it was a terrible episode. I was very disappointed, especially since the last two episodes they had really upped their game. However, two days later, it becomes clearer that the show wasn't as bad as I originally thought. Take away that atrocious Springer segment and give Miz a promo and the show isn't so bad. I also could have gone for a Legacy backstage segment in response to the events after the opening contest, but we will certainly see plenty of that story in the weeks to come. Overall, the show was probably a drop above average, if that. I expect this to be the worst episode in the months of January-March, as after the Elimination Chamber, the focus is clearly on Wrestlemania, and that's when WWE puts on its best programming. If you haven't been tuning in, now is the time to do so! Plus, if you do, then you can debate me right here on MouthoftheSouthShore.com on anything that is WWE. I look forward to hearing from everyone!
Next up, ECW's final hurrah.......who was the final face of ECW? Check in soon for my look back at ECW's last episode and legacy.