Squared Circle: WWE Raw 900th Episode
Being that I live in England, it is very rare that I actually ever stay up to watch a live episode of WWE Raw. Usually I either record the show and watch it the Tuesday after or watch a repeat that is shown at a more convenient time. There are occasional time I just stay up and watch the show live but more or less if I am watching Raw at 2am it is because I am expecting something huge. Of course 30th August 2010 was Raw's 900th episode.
Whilst I wasn't expecting the episode to be a complete look into the archives of Raw being completely dedicated to the stars of the past I was expecting something more than clips from past shows.
Let's look at how the show opened. Bret Hart came out and reflected on the beginning of Raw commentating that there is only one other person who was on the first episode beside himself, The Undertaker. Instead of The Deadman coming out however, Kane emerged. He ranted about how The Undertaker ended Shawn Michaels' career and that to break out of his brother's shadow he would have to do the same. He goes for a chokeslam but is stopped by the Hart Dynasty. Although the WWE Tag Team Champions look awful in this segment as all Kane has to do is give them a few punches and throw them out to disable them. He attacks Hart one more time and Taker appears. Kane retreated and the GM announced Bret Hart vs The Undertaker tonight.
The problem we have here is that any fan not under the age of five knows the match will not happen. WWE should stop this right now. Once of the prospects of Bret Hart appearing on Raw was the fact that he was a rarity but recently, in my eyes at least, he has way outstayed his welcome.
Also the big milestone of Raw that was supposedly going to look back at at it's past is building a Smackdown story. The priorities of WWE are so unbelievably out of order. A night for celebrating 900 weeks of Monday wrestling being used for Friday Night Smackdown.
So we get out first clip of the evening. 11th January 1993, the first ever episode of Raw. A short montage is shown with The Undertaker being victorious in the shows main event.
This was followed after the advert break by 29th September 1998, Austin driving a Zamboni into the arena so he could attack Vince McMahon. For me this highlights a problem of going PG. This was a great moment but considering the Austin/McMahon rivalry there were better moments that couldn't be shown because they are unsuitable for the era. For example Austin attacking McMahon in the hospital.
We return to the wrestling as we get a triple threat tag team match (random right?) between Daniel Bryan and Kaval (who didn't get introduced so blatant losers) vs. Kofi Kingston and Michael McGillicutty vs. The Miz and Alex Riley. It was an ok match for Raw that saw The Miz pin Kaval for the victory. Bryan also was clocked with the briefcase building further up to the inevitable US title match at Night of Champions.
No too bad in terms of what this show was proposing. When looking at the past of a program, the future is usually unfairly neglected and these young stars pretty much personify the future of WWE programming. So WWE got the future covered.
I wonder if WWE realise the Diva's division is known as the toilet break? Seriously how bad is it on a program that contains commercials have fans that consider their actual programming time to take a break. Yes it was a Diva's tag match between Lay-Cool, Melina and Eve Torres. The match was mercifully quick with Melina not even having to tag out for the victory. Before the segment ends we get confirmation of a title unification match. Melina vs. Michelle McCool or Layla in a Lumberjill match.
The match was terrible but the build up for Night of Champions is appreciated, at least it is a Raw/Smackdown rivalry rather than just Smackdown.
We get our next clip of the evening. 7th June 2010, The Nexus attack... wait that was only two months ago! You can't make a moment memorable because you say it is. WWE don't realise that this will only be worth remembering if these guys don't fade away after this whole Nexus thing. Plus it was only two months ago! It's not like anyone who watches Raw will have nostalgia flowing through them with a storyline that is essentially still active.
This turned out to be a lead in to Nexus's segment. They are now down to five members because Skip Sheffield has a broken ankle. Wade Barrett promises to do something to prove Nexus is not weak.
Another clip now from 7th September 2009, Bob Barker hosting the Price is Raw. OK not as bad considering the last clip was two months ago but this is still from the past year. Someone in WWE needs to look up the word nostalgia. Also is Bob Barker hosting Raw really going to be that memorable in the future? How many of these kids when grown up will think back to this moment as one of the greatest they viewed as wrestling fans?
Chris Jericho was up next with an interview. It was the usual fair until he promises to quit of he didn't win the WWE Championship at Night of Champions. Well last I heard Fozzy are touring the UK in October so I'm guessing he won't be winning.
Now for some wrestling again, for the number one contention for the WWE Tag Team Championship. John Morrison and R-Truth vs. Cody Rhodes and Drew McIntyre. Are Rhodes and McIntyre a regular tag team? Why are they tagging? Screw it. The match was a waste of time as it ended in a no contest after the ref lost control of the match.
Screw wrestling I want to see another clip from Raw's not so distant past. 4th January 2010, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels make up. This will be quite a moment to remember when it is not so fresh in our memories.
So now Hart vs. The Undertaker is on. Before the match can even start Wade Barrett comes out. He attacks The Undertaker and is beat easily. The lights go out and Kane is in the ring. It looks as if Kane is about to be chokeslammed and the lights go out again with Kane gone. The rest of Nexus turn up and start to attack but are getting beaten. The lights go out AGAIN and when the return Taker is set up for Barrett's finisher. He get hit with it followed by a 450 splash by Gabriel. Kane stands on the ramp looking on.
Not a bad segment but we just had a match that was not completed. I know I said Hart wasn't going to wrestle but I was at least expecting something to take his place. I do like though that they are toying with the idea that Nexus is being led by Kane and that Kane has some control over Takers "power".
So we actually get a match next much to my shock and it's Jack Swagger vs. Evan Bourne. During the match Alberto Del Rio comes out and stars saying something but I couldn't care less because I wanted to watch the match. Swagger won and Del Rio tried to destroy Bourne's arm afterwards only to be saved by Mark Henry.
I'm not getting a nostalgia show or a regular episode of Raw. It's some horrible abomination of a wrestling show. I also clocked on to what they were doing now. The 900ths episode of Raw was used as an excuse to allow Smackdown on the show. Thus rivalries for Bragging Rights could start. That's not terrible but I think they could have done this at an alternate time.
Clips of WWE in China... yeah I don't care either. The company is called WORLD Wrestling Entertainment, of course you travel the world to entertain with wrestling.
Finally something that can be considered nostalgic again. 27th September 1999, The Rock This is Your Life but the PG era makes sure all the good parts were cut out.
We are next joined by The Straight Edge Society and of all the people CM Punk does the most nostalgic segment. He compares himself to The Rock telling us all why he is better than him. He compares out fondness for The People's Champ for out lack of morales. He has two words for us, Katie Vick. Now this went over most of the audience's head I am willing to reckon. But for someone like me who pretty much watched that angle play out it was hilarious for Punk to use that angle to show how Raw was not suitable for the family audience. He then decides to show us four moments to further his argument. 9th March 2009, Triple H attacks Orton in his home. 21st August 2006 Edge thrown into a river by John Cena. 27th April 1998, DX invades WCW Nitro. Finally the clip that is always shown, 22nd March 1999 Austin hoses down the Corporation with beer and 5th November 2007 the same with Santino Marella.
Okay lets just take a break from Punk's segment for the moment to analyise it. Once again a couple of moments that can't be really be called nostalgic but they work because they put across his argument so well. The DX Invasion was a good moment to bring up and it's a shame this is the closest we get to a Monday Night Wars reference all night. The segment with Austin has bee so overused now that it's almost expected to be on these episodes.
Back to Punk. He fakes an Austin appearance which is not funny considering the lack of Alumni appearing at the night. Nostalgia is almost over now as we get back to Smackdown stories with his rivalry with Big Show. He shows the clip of Brock Lesnar superplexing Big Show and causing the ring to collapse. Big Show comes out and says if Punk really wanted to embarrass him he should have shown when Eddie Guerrero gave him a burrito that caused chronic diarrhea, or when he sumo wrestled at WrestleMania 21 or when he was caught in a relationship with Vickie Guerrero. The segment ends with Luke Gallows getting beaten up and tossed out of the ring.
As you see I have written more about this segment than any other. It's because this was at least somewhere along the line of what I was expecting. A nostalgia trip plus Punk is gold on that microphone he is one of the best heels in WWE today.
So we get the final clip of night 7th January 2002, Triple H returns to Raw after his first quad injury. A nice moment and its good to see WWE acknowledge's Angle existence still despite being in TNA. Of course this is going to fueling the rumours that Triple H is returning soon.
So Sheamus comes out just before the main event and crows about his attack on Triple H. Not keeping them soft and sweet so when the time comes to eat them he will have a hard time. Edge interupts and talks about his contributions. This match purely shows how unsure WWE is of Edge's role because while he acts face here later on will prove otherwise.
So now we get our main event, Summerslam-lite with Cena, Orton, Sheamus, Jericho and Edge vs. Nexus. Jericho and Edge are counted out and disqualified respectively. After a while Sheamus steps in and considering he was the only clean cut heel on his side its surprising to see that he decided to stay. Also he was pinned by Heath Slater. SHEAMUS WAS PINNED BY HEATH SLATER. What are WWE doing? They want us to take this man serious as champ but he gets pinned by a man who is compared to Wendy. Cena comes in and eliminates two member but is caught off guard by Gabriel with a 450 splash. Orton enters eliminates two with RKOs leaving only Wade Barrett who hits his finisher and ends the show by pinning Orton.
WWE couldn't even deliver on it's main event. Barrett didn't look like a credible threat because the team had a 5-on-3 advantage. He got beat down by Undertaker earlier on when the situation was fair.
As a nostalgia show it sucked. As an episode of Raw it was poor. With many of the clips shown from recent years and not even looking back at the New Generation era of wrestling it was a sloppy one sided retrospective. There was also no guest from the Alumni. Anyone could have made this show better the Million Dollar Man, Trish Stratus, Lita, Stone Cold, Doink the Clown, anyone... But no we got a show that allowed Smackdown more time to develop it's stories and build up for PPVs for the future.
As I said I rarely stay up to watch Raw live and this was one occasion I wish I didn't.
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