It has taken me twenty five years, but I have finally come to an important life realization. It has become clear to me that the British are different than you and me. Heck, based on what I witnessed during Monday Night Raw from London, they'd have to be. While I understand that shows cater to the live audience, I'm a critic, so if the show doesn't pander to me, I'm going to say something about it! For me, the guest host thing has been 50/50. Sometimes I've been ok with the host, sometimes I feel like fingernails on a blackboard would be more enjoyable. David Hasselhoff for me was definitely closer to the latter. Of course, he wasn't the only problem with this show, so let's take a look back at what went right, but more to the point, what went wrong on this edition of Monday Night Raw.
The show opened up with the Night Rider theme blaring and Kit, the Night Rider car emerging on the side of the stage. At this point, the show seemed exciting. I mean, you have the Knight Rider car, which even though I'm too young to remember is pretty awesome (and voiced by Mr. Feeny!) and you have the original star of the show. It all seemed good, until that star emerged from the vehicle wearing the ugliest jacket I've ever seen. I think it actually had more shine than my prom date's dress. As if the jacket wasn't bad enough, Hasselhoff proceeded to cut his promo in an over-the-top, goofy voice which made me think that Mr. Hasselhoff thought it was the 80s again. When he didn't see Jesse "The Body" Ventura or "Macho Man" Randy Savage around, that should have tipped him off, but he ignored that and proceeded to come off more flamboyant than George Takai at a Ricky Martin concert. Through all the absurdity, Hasselhoff did make a couple of important announcements though. The first wasa "Baywatch Babe Triple Threat Tag Match" for later tonight, which clinched the first 2 diva match night since........I have no idea. The other announcement was a lot bigger, as Hasselhoff claimed to have watched Smackdown and realized there was no #1 contender for the World Heavyweight title, so he granted that title and a match at Extreme Rules with Jack Swagger to Randy Orton! I can only imagine how Chris Jericho felt in that moment. Nonetheless, I was quite relieved to hear Eve Torres' music hit, as it signified the end of Hasselhoff making a fool of himself for the time being. Trust me though, this wasn't the end of his antics for the night.
As for Eve, she came out dressed and ready to take on Maryse for the Divas title. Of course, she earned that title just last week in the Divas battle royale, so throw out the feud building and let's have a match! I think my biggest problem here is that Extreme Rules is in 2 weeks. This Monday and next Monday could have served to create a little more tension between Eve and Maryse, and the payoff could have been on Pay Per View, like I believe most title shots should. However, the lack of focus/trust of the Divas division leaves us with title matches on free TV, which is really unfortunate for the hard working Divas. It was especially unfortunate for Eve, who after about 5 minutes at most reversed Maryse's French Kiss into an awkward inside cradle that got the 3 count, make her the new champion. This should be a momentus occasion for the beautiful and talented Eve, but it was relegated to a 5 minute segment on Raw, so her first ever title win came in a segment that is almost forgettable given the way it was presented. I feel bad, because I like Eve and have been saying that she deserves this opportunity, but if being a champion means fighting 2 minute battles that showcase none of her abilities, count me out. Maybe there will be a rematch at Extreme Rules where Eve can truly be showcased.....yeah, that's about as likely as Ben Roethlisberger winning a "gentleman of the year" award.
At this point, I don't think it's any secret that I wasn't too happy with Raw. A spark was needed, and it came in the form of ShoMiz hitting the ring for "an important announcement". Big Show starts it out for absolutely no reason. All he says is that at first he was skeptical about being Miz's partner but recently his skepticism has died. Nice sentiment, but it didn't really serve a purpose. Miz takes control and proclaims ShoMiz "the greatest tag team in WWE history". Obviously, major boos follow this, and when Miz challenges the audience to name any tag team that's better than them, the unmistakeable music of Bret Hart hits and the Hitman makes his way to the ring! Of course Bret mentions that he knows 2 tag teams that are way better in the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs (cheap hometown pop #1). Bret mentions how these teams were together for years and you need more than a few months to claim to be the best. Classic Miz answer as he states "it seems Hasselhof isn't the only 90's icon here tonight that is delusional". He follows that up by basically degrading both teams, including degrading the Bulldogs in a British accent. This prompts Bret to claim he knows of a team that can beat them now, which leads to the Hart Dynasty coming out. Long story short, DH Smith says his father is there watching tonight (obvious hometown pop, and deservedly so), and he challenges Miz 1 on 1. The stipulation becomes that if DH wins, Hart Dynasty get a shot at ShoMiz's titles, but if Miz wins, Bret must come out next week and proclaim ShoMiz to be the greatest tag team of all time. After deliberation, both parties accept and the match is set to go! I loved this segment and wish it didn't end, because it was by far the best of the night. Unfortuantely, all good things come to an end..........until next week.
The match was surprisingly good, as Smith apparently can work when given the opportunity. Who knew? Lots of distractions though, but the final one was Big Show, leading to Miz hitting the Skull Crushing Finale for the victory. I'm sure plenty were expecting DH to somehow win, as a Hart Dynasty/ShoMiz match sounds mighty tasty, but I believe that will still happen. This result gives us Bret having to pander to a young star, which makes for a lot better TV than simply: earn title shot.....get match. I'm already excited for that segment next week, as you know it won't go as planned, which shuld be a lot of fun to watch.
After the break, we got an interesting little backstage segment with Batista and David Otunga. By seeing them both together, it's apparant that Otunga is a poor man's verision of Big Dave at this point, and Dave let him know it. After a seemingly equal conversation, Batista made Otunga get him coffee, asserting himself as the star and Otunga as the rookie. This led to Hasselhoff letting Otunga know that he was at Raw because he was invited by Cena and had a match with him later. Obviously, Cena wasn't too happy about the events of last week. Kit (The Night Rider car) predicted Otunga would last 22 seconds against Cena. I wouldn't doubt the car in this case.
Then we got a match between Evan Bourne and Carlito. Between them, they have as much relevance in the WWE as David Hasselhoff does in today's culture. I get that this is a transition period in the WWE, but this match seemed to serve no purpose. It wasn't a bad match, as both guys can work pretty well, but I just wondered why this wasn't on Superstars. At least Bourne got the win, making Carlito perhaps the biggest waste of talent there ever was. At least the match was only like 5 minutes of the broadcast.
Taking up a similar amount of time was the hour 1 main event featuring John Cena destroying David Otunga. The real intrigue with this match though was Batista. He came out with Otunga but stayed on the entrance ramp the whole time. Seemingly with every move he made, Cena looked back at Batista in hopes of sending a message. When Otunga tapped to the STF, Cena stared at Batista the whole time. The made Batista mad, and he stripped down to bare chested and teased going to the ring. In typical Batista fashion (being a giant pussy), he went halfway down and then left. Obviously, this is classic heel tactics, as Batista picks his spots to attack, but part of me thirsts for Cena and Batista to beat each other up anytime, anyplace.
From one big feud to another, the next man to enter the ring was Sheamus. If you thought Americans could be heels in Britain, check out the Irish heat he gets! Apparently the Irish and English don't get along so well. Anyway, the promo basically accomplishes that he's ready for Extreme Rules where it's announced he will face Triple H in a streetfight. Just when you think Triple H will come out to confront Sheamus for his comments, Kofi Kingston's music hits and he makes his way down the aisle! Jog your memory for a minute and think back to last week. I wrote about how much it sucked to see Kofi get jobbed out so quickly. I even talked about Kofi's bad week on Mouthing Off, so I'm glad that he wasn't forgotten and that he came out to confront his attacker. This led to the two men having a rematch.
This time, the match was a lot closer, with both men getting lots of offense in. It looked like Kofi was actually going to get the win after hitting thee Trouble in Paradise, but Sheamus was close enough to the ropes to grab it to stop the count. Shortly after that, they went to the outside and Sheamus got himself disqualified for using a monitor to whack Kofi in the head. You might be asking why it's ok to hit someone in the head with a monitor, but not ok to hit someone with a chairshot to the head. Pretty simple folks: a monitor shot can look devastating while barely hitting someone, but a chairshot can only look good if hard contact is made. You cannot fake a chairshot and that "realness" of chairshots lead to concussions which lead down an ugly road. The monitor shot, which was very fake, does the job just fine and won't do any damage to a competitors head. To the viewer though, Kofi suffered another beatdown courtesy of Sheamus, but at least this time he wasn't squahed in a match first. Kofi saves a little credibility, and Sheamus loses some, leaving him as a bully who hasn't been backing up his words and actions where it counts. He'll get his shot to prove everyone wrong at Extreme Rules, where if he beats Triple H, it'll finally show he can win a big match. (In case you are wondering why Triple H had no involvement with this segment, he was pulled off the European Tour due to a neck injury. You will probably see him next week, but he's working a very limited schedule at the moment.)
Interesting little backstage segment next where Carlito is looking for David Hasselhoff to get a rematch. He discusses his problem with guest hosts with Vladimir Koslov, who apparently is understanding English a lot better these days. Carlito vows to quit if he's not traded to Smackdown and Koslov vows to destroy the cast of MacGruber (the hosts next week) if he doesn't get competition. Apparently Koslov's face turn on ECW is being completely ignored.
After that, Randy Orton discusses his upcoming match with Swagger and also mentions his match tonight with Batista. Pretty standard stuff here, but I'm glad Orton didnt' really alter his personality. He still does need some work with his promos, but I'm glad he still mentions taking people out and being dangerous, because people started liking him because of it. Orton is a man of action, and his face turn was facilitated by that. I'd keep his interviews and promos to a minimum until he gets a true feud at this point.
Just when you felt like the show was getting too serious, here comes the Baywatch Babe Triple Threat Tag Match. The only good thing about the match was the Divas in those famous red Baywatch swimsuits. The match itself was just a mess. I think the Bellas won, but it was hard to tell through all the comotion. Luckily it was only a couple of minutes long. The highlight of the whole thing is that Santino was guest referee and the audience loved him! Stupidity ensued after the match though, as the Divas argued and Jililan pushed Santino, causing him to swallow his whistle. Everyone stood around like morons, including Hasselhoff, who was up on a lifeguard chair watching the action. The only person who apparently could get the whistle out was Hornswoggle who ran down and resorted to hitting the tadpole splash to free the whistle. I wish I slept through this segment. It was that bad.
Luckily, that torture was followed by the main event which featured old rivals Randy Orton and Batista going at each other. This match got plenty of time, and was decent for a TV match. Batista isn't moving that great these days and it shows against young, agile opponents. Orton did his best with him though, and the contest came across well. By the way, Orton may have the best scoop slam I've ever seen! The end saw a bunch of counters, with Orton finally hitting the RKO. When he went for the pin, Swagger grabbed him and hit the Gutwrench powerbomb on him, causing the DQ. Happy with himself, Swagger left Orton laying, but walked backwards and was attacked by Cena, who got in the ring and locked the STF on the fallen Batista. When Batista "passed out", Cena stood over him and counted on his hands to 10, signifying Batista not answering the 10 count, which he hopes will happen in their last man standing match at Extreme Rules. Expect Batista to get some retribution next week to give the utmost unpredictability to that match.
At 11:08 when the show first ended, I felt underwhelmed by what I had just seen. The combination of the stupidity of David Hasselhoff and the lifeguard thing and a throwaway match that took up valuable airtime annoyed me and I went home angry. A day later, I still don't like those segments, but I can look at the show as a whole and find it average. Two more matches were made for Extreme Rules and 3 matches on the card definitely saw their feuds furthered in some way. By far the best segment of the night was the ShowMiz/Hart segment, and that bit of time alone takes this show from a little below average to average. I'm excited about the culmination of that next week along with the final builds to all the Extreme Rules matches. Quietly, Extreme Rules is shaping up to be a pretty solid card, and even though this show sucked at times, it got me more excited for that event.