What do you do when your flagship show is set to go live at 9PM from the Izod Center in East Rutherford New Jersey and exactly TWO people slated to perform are at the arena? Why, you rewrite the show in exactly 24 hours, of course! That's exactly the predicament the WWE was in this Monday for Raw, as continuing travel concerns precluded most of the roster from making the trip back from Ireland to the United States. After much deliberance, the decision was made to tape some promos overseas and air the show live with the Raw talent that was stayed behind on the trip, along with Smackdown "invading" Raw. Of course, this meant that Bret Hart would not be proclaiming ShoMiz to be the greatest tag team of all time, but we still go Koslov wanting to destroy Macgruber! Ok, so it was hard to expect much out of this episode of Raw, but all things considered, it really wasnt' that bad. So let's take an in depth look at Raw is Smackdown!
The show opened up with Triple H making his way to the ring since, well, he's the only Raw superstar of any value that is actually in the United States! For those who don't know, Triple H has been working through a neck injury, and was granted the right to miss the European tour. Thus, he was present and well in New Jersey for Raw. Of course, this is a guy who thrives on a live crowd, so if anyone was going to be able to entertain at a moment's notice, it's Triple H. I loved how he said "don't suck up to me because you know I'm the only one here!" Great way to make light of the situation and make sure the audience is on their toes. Typical Triple H stuff with some jokes and banter, and finally he discusses his upcoming match with Sheamus at Extreme Rules. Of course, Sheamus couldn't come out and confront Triple H, but CM Punk could............I warned you that this show would be quite unpredictable!
Punk starts by knocking New Jersey, which is an old heel tactic to get heat, but when you are in New Jersey, I'm ok with it. As a New Yorker, I know that Jersey deserves all the heat they get! There was actually some great banter between Triple H and CM Punk that made me believe that a full feud between the two might actually work pretty well. The only thing I didn't like is that this segment was similar to the one these two men had on Smackdown a couple of months ago. I know not as many people watch Smackdown, but I thought that one was actually better in some ways. On Smackdown, Trips played off that he is basically straight edge but doesn't need a stupid gimmick to be a jerk about it. This time, Hunter played off the "freedom" card, which I found worse because it basically advocates the use of drugs and alcohol in a sense because you have "freedom" to do so. I liked Smackdown better because Triple H can stand for living clean the same way Punk can, but he can do it as a face while Punk is obnoxious about it and plays the heel. In this way, I think the wrong message is being sent. Either way, they do not agree and it leads to a brawl where Triple H ends up almost getting his head shaved but Rey Mysterio makes the save and actually shaves a little piece of Punk's hair off! I loved how Triple H touched it and made a grossed out face as I would have done the same! (Just an aside here, but Punk claims that his hair is a sign of purity as being free from foreign chemicals, but doesn't dying your hair count as foreign chemicals in your hair? Anyone who knew of Punk on the independent scene knows that he used to wrestle with bleach blonde hair, so yea, he's quite a hypocrite.....I'm just sayin')
That segment was a bit longer than most opening segments, but again, it had to be. It was followed up by quite a short match between Matt Hardy and Drew McIntyre. I get that time needed to be killed, but did Matt Hardy's career? I've said it before, but it needs to be said again. I know McIntyre is a big part of future plans, but the more Hardy loses in short matches, the more likely it is that he'll have no credibility to put over anyone else. Plus, I like Matt so I continue to feel bad for him. The only positive here is for WWE to gage McIntyre's reaction to see if moving him to Raw is a possibility for the upcoming draft.
Short promo from John Cena after the match where he talks about being at Extreme Rules and will not miss it. Nothing new here, as Cena isn't the type of guy to pull out some new, exciting line or doing something over the top in a pre-taped promo. I kind of wish he would, as that might get him more over with the skeptical fans. As it stands, it was just a boring promo to me that took up a couple of minutes of time.
While most of the segments on this Raw were put together in haste, the next segment was something that was actually planned from the week before. If you remember last week's review, I talked about Vladimir Koslov threatening to destroy Macgruber if not given competition, so true to his word, Koslov came out to call out Macgruber (and insult the crowd while he was at it). Considering he didn't read his promo, making Jerry Lawler do that honor, the only part I liked of it was the mention of his countryman buying the Nets and moving them out of New Jersey. For once, something in a WWE promo was topical, relevant, and did its job for cheers or heat. What a concept! Anyway, Macgruber does come out to confront Koslov, in character might I add, with costar, Vicki St. Elmo. I wasn't how I felt about these guys appearing in character, but for some odd reason, I found it entertaining. I loved the line "what is Russian for big pile of suck?" Yes, Macgruber brought that SNL type humor to WWE, as he was confident that he had the perfect oponent for Koslov in R-Truth. Of course, if you've seen Macgruber on SNL, you'd know he can be inept sometimes, and in this case, he was incredibly so, as he "blew up" R-Truth. Yea, I thought it was pretty dumb, but again, since the segment was in character, you have to let it slide. R-Truth's "death" led to Macgruber himself having to take on Koslov later, which did not bold well for the SNL star. Before he got scared to death though, he made a match announcement for the main event, which was slated to be Triple H, Rey Mysterio, and Edge against the Straight Edge Society and Chris Jericho. For a show that was supposed to be devoid of talent, that's a hell of a main event.
After the commercial, we get a funny little spot with Triple H and Macgruber where Macgruber tries to cover up peeing in his pants. Long story short, he blames it on a friend and Kane walks in so he says it was him, to which he walks out embarassed. The segment ends with Kane making a face and saying "I don't think that's the only thing he did in those pants" To the serious, born without humor wrestling fan, this was a stupid segment, but I enjoyed it. If nothing else, it shows me that Triple H can and should host SNL one day.
After this, we got another satellite feed promo, this time from Randy Orton. He basically said that he's winning the title and that it will go where he goes. Pretty simple stuff, which is good, because he is trying to get over as a face, but nobody wants him to go too Cena on us, so the shorter the better.
So, we're almost an hour in, and the show isn't half bad so far. Given the circumstances, I'm quite impressed. Sure, from a normal standpoint, some antics shouldn't be involved, but I've been entertained. Of course, the show would actually get better from here, as Jack Swagger came out next. He was introduced by Lillian Garcia, who I forgot to mention was guest ring announcer for the night (since Justin Roberts is also overseas). It was great to see Lillian, as the last time I saw her was when I attended Raw at Madison Square Garden in November. As for Swagger, he issued an open challenge to show Orton how ready he is for him. This has never boded well for Swagger, as he usually loses open challenges. When the lights went out and the gong hit, it became pretty obvious that he would have a difficult time yet again. To his credit, Swagger went almost 15 minutes with the Deadman in an excellent TV match. Lots of back and forth action and Swagger looked great at some points where I even thought he was going to win. However, he got a little too cocky and took too much time with his Vader Bomb type move and got caught by Undertaker's arm, leading to a chokeslam, followed by a tombstone for the victory. I know a lot of people will disagree with the result here, but it was a great match and the kid who one year ago would have no business shining Undertaker's boots gave him all he could handle. I would say this match did plenty for Swagger's credibility as he truly can wrestle with absolutely anyone.
Before the final 2 matches, we got a really funny backstage segment. First, Jericho was trying to give advice to his team but they kept talking so he eventually walked away. He then ran into Macgruber and Vicki St. Elmo, where Macguber asked for advice while Vicki basically drooled over Jericho. Funny stuff as Jericho claimed he was the star of the movie and the sequel would be about him....Jer-EEE-cho! He even sang the theme song with his own words! Jericho is just amazing and that's why he'll be able to be a great face again one day. Great sense of humor and quite an entertaining segment. Jericho is another guy who should probably host SNL.
So now Macgruber must face his fears and face Koslov. He tries Jericho's advice and slaps Koslov to try and catch him off guard. Yea, doesn't work. Koslov starts headbutting Macgruber until Ryan Phillippe came out. Yup, the former Mr. Reese Witherspoon was advertised as part of the guest host crew, but just got there and apologized for his lateness but announced he had a tag team partner for Macgruber. That partner was Khaluber! (Khali dressed as Macgruber). Is there anything more amusing than an Indian Giant with a blonde wig? Of course, he destroys Koslov quickly so the Macgruber crew can celebrate and plug their movie. I'm sure these segments were going to be shorter with the regular programming, but these are skit actors on SNL so they did very well with their segments and even the wrestling was fine. I just didn't like the blatant plug at the end, but that's just because I don't like shameless plugging............unless it is for the greatest WWE blog on the net, MouthoftheSouthshore.com, featuring the top web show on the fanvsfan.com network, "Mouthing Off".
I thought it would be painful to get to the main event, but I'm actually enjoying the show, and almost sorry we are nearing the end. However, we are at the main event, and Triple H makes his way out first. Before he can get to the ring, Sheamus is shown on the screen and he's wearing clothes! Actually, he looks good in a vest, shirt, pants, and a loosened tie. I wouldn't mind him cutting promos in that sort of atire every now and again. He starts to say something threatening to Triple H, but instead beats up a camera guy to show he's willing to take out everyone. Points for creativity but beating up a cameraman doesn't prove your toughness. As it is, they are across the pond from each other, so everyone will have to wait til Extreme Rules for their next encounter.
The match itself wasn't too bad. There was a lot of star power in it, except for Luke Gallows, but even he didn't look too pathetic. Typical ending to one of these multiman tags where hell breaks loose, guys get taken out, and the faces hit their finishers. So basically a 619 into a Pedigree ended this thing. It might be interesting to note that Edge was being tended to by Rey after the match. Either Edge is the best seller ever or he actually aggravated something in the match because he definitely limped afterwords. I hope for his sake that he is alright.
For a show that was planned in less than 24 hours, it was pretty entertaining. Perhaps it was so much so that I almost forgot that I didn't get to see Bret Hart grovel to ShoMiz. As it stands, we got a lot of comedy, a couple of really solid matches in Swagger/Taker and the main event, and some interaction with stars that aren't usually seen together. The only people that wouldn't like this show were those who take wrestling WAY too seriously or those who are overly critical and can't accept a show that was thrown together in a day. I am no longer one of those people, so I had fun watching it. It's amazing how much more fun wrestling is when you get less critical! Check back tomorrow for my non-critical, having fun take on NXT. For now, enjoy the video of Jericho with his Macgruber costars.