The Katz Files – Arnie Katz
My Weekly RAW Notebook!
The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his analysis and insights inspired by the 11/173 episode of RAW
Stephanie McMahon opened RAW, from Atlanta, GA, by taking questions from a ring full of RAW workers.
Randy Orton wanted to know why John Cena was getting a title shot. Stephanie attributed the decision to Shane, but added that Cena is worthy. Orton wasn’t happy, but he contented himself with asserting his right to the next title clash after Jericho-Cena.
Cody Rhodes asked why Randy Orton didn’t get some form of punishment for kicking Ted DiBiase in the head. He also wanted to know why he had to be on Orton’s Survivor Series team. Stephanie said that Orton would have to face CM Punk in a match on this RAW — and then made it a Lumberjack Match so that Randy would have to stay in the ring.
Santino Marella wanted a rematch. Stephanie pointed out that he had two rematches in the UK and lost them both,
John Bradshaw Layfield wanted to know the whereabouts of Vince McMahon. Stephanie replied that her father is out of the picture. She then pushed the Survivor Series match in which JBL and Michaels are opposing team captains.
Shawn Michaels asked if he could have his revenge against JBKL right now. Stephanie told him to be patient. HBK said he agreed with Stephanie that each of us is responsible for his or her own actions and then attacked JBL. He ended the segment wearing the transplanted New Yorker’s cowboy hat.
The Kingfish Comments: Despite its length and relative lack of action, this segment can be justified on the basis of reminding fans what’s at stake as RAW approaches Survivor Series Since it also took the place of the usual long opening recap video, even the length wasn’t too bad.
What Stephanie said was fairly trivial. It would’ve saved the announcers giving so many annoying reminders if WWE didn’t have Cole and Lawler repeating the same points like a mantra for the next two hours.
The feud between Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton continues to develop nicely. It isn’t clear if Cody will now revert to the face role – or if DiBiase will go with him or end up feuding with his tag team partner. DiBiase doesn’t seem like babyface material, but neither did James Storm in TNA and America’s Most Wanted had some very strong runs as fan favorites. Since it was DiBiase who got attacked, it looks like he would have to be at least a heroic heel until he and Rhodes settle accounts with Randy Orton.
Kelly Kelly d. Victoria
The announcers billed this as a preview of the RAW versus Smackdown Divas match coming at Survivor Series.
Kelly Kelly did a couple of her moves, including a moderately nice Handspring Elbow, Victoria hit a relative new move, a sit-out Backbreaker, but Kelly used a Schoolgirl Roll-up to capture the decision.
After the match, an irate Victory punished Kelly Kelly with the Widow’s Peak.
The other Divas on the RAW team – Jillian Hall, Mickie James and Candice Michelle – rushed to rescue Kelly Kelly and chase Victoria out of the ring.
Victoria tried to exit via the ramp, but Beth Phoenix blocked her escape and destroyed her.
The Kingfish Comments: There’s no question that Kelly Kelly has improved her ability to execute moves with reasonable speed and accuracy, but she still has far to go to equal Victoria’s ring skill. Her biggest limitation at this point is that she doesn’t yet put a match together very well. The individual moves, at least some of them, are all right, but the flow is not yet there. Given her consistent improvement, she may yet reach that high level.
The booking did what it could to set up the Survivor Series match, It showed fans that Kelley Kelly could “steal” a win from Victory, that Victoria could – out-wrestle her and that Gail Phoenix had the power to destroy Victoria. It still may not be much of a match, but at least WWE is doing what it can to give it an interesting context
Batista d. Manu
The Samoan showed great strength as he matched The Animal during the opening portion of their match. He connected with a couple of Splashes, but those impressive power moves didn’t lead to a pin.
Batista scored with a couple of Clotheslines. When he tried the BatistaBomb, though, Manu turned it into a Back Body Drop.
Dave Batista hit a Spear to set up a BatistaBomb and win the match.
The Kingfish Comments: When I wrote, “Free Manu!” I didn’t mean to free him to do a job in his first real match. Such a loss suggests that either Manu is earmarked for a stint as an enhancement wrestler or that his immediate future lies in the tag team division. My guess would be the latter.
Batista shouted at Randy Orton that he would whip his a$$ on Sunday.
Chief Jay Strongbow appeared on the upper stage to wave to the fans.
The Kingfish Comments: When I watched wrestling back in the Bruno Sammartino era, my special favorite was the feathered gatekeeper, Chief Jay Strongbow. He was one hell of a Native American for an Italian guy and it isn’t shocking that he has established a strong connection to the Native American culture since his retirement.
Cody Rhodes and Randy Orton exchanged harsh words backstage. Cody told Randy to keep talking, because “that’s what you’re best at.”
The Kingfish Comments: Unfortunately despite the one good line, they didn’t have anything to say.
Michael Cole introduced a video that showcased the ring skill and reckless abandon of Evan Bourne.
After the video, Evan Bourne came out on crutches to discuss his injury. Mike Knox came out and stared at him.
The Kingfish Comments: WWE has always loved the “big man versus small man” plot. At the top of the card, that would be something like Mysterio versus Kane. Toward he bottom, it’s going to be Mike Knox versus Evan Bourne” as soon as Air Bourne recovers from his injury.
Rey Mysterio and Shawn Michaels walked a backstage hallway toward the ring. HBK told his masked sidekick that this was the first time the two of them had ever teamed and that he was nervous. Rey calmed him down and herded him in the general direction of their match.
They encountered Dolf Sigler. Michaels introduced him to Rey Mysterio and again bragged about the honor of teaming with him for the first time.
The Kingfish Comments: This definitely qualifies as the Kingfish’s Surreal Interview of the Week. The injection of Dolf Sigler into the scene, while still as pointless and perplexing as ever, did not surprise much after the weird scene Michaels and Mysterio played. Either WWE thinks Dolf Sigler is the next John Cena or he is a relative or he has a blackmail file. Even Ron Simmons has to do more to earn his paycheck.
The big problem with the Mysterio-Michaels scene is that the premise is ridiculous. It’s Rey Mysterio, not Mil Mascaras or Mr. Wrestling II. It’s not like HBK grew up watching him; Michaels is arguably the bigger (and more experienced) star.
Because the storyline didn’t make sense, it made Shawn Michaels look stupid and insincere. Fans had to wonder, as they watched, why Michaels was being such a jerk. Since HBK will be playing babyface at Survivor Series, that doesn’t seem like the desired effect.
The Miz & John Morrison Rey Mysterio & Shawn Michaels
The Miz stopped Mysterio from executing a 619 on Morrison. The referee didn’t see it, but Michaels got revenge for his team with a ringside attack.
Rey Mysterio got attacked from two directions in the ringside area. Morrison whipped him into the ring post and then threw him back inside the ropes to The Miz. The Chick Magnet then replaced Miz in the ring and subjected Mysterio to a Gut Buster.
The heels isolated the Masked Marvel and poured on the punishment, including a lot of double-teaming.
Mysterio nailed Morrison with a Missile Dropkick as John came off the top turnbuckle. That gave Rey the opening to tag Michaels, who cleaned house/
HBK hit Sweet Chin Music and went for a Figure Four Leglock, but The Miz blocked the move and fired the Showstoppa into the turnbuckle.
Mysterio connected on The Miz with the 619 and HBK hit him with Sweet Chin Music! Morrison shocked HBK with a Superkick and hauled Mysterio out of the ring. The Miz regained enough of his senses to score the pin.
The Kingfish Comments: The booking of this match confirmed the bad booking of the pre-match scene. Mysterio and Michaels worked together seamlessly, even if they did lose, so the screwy dialogue didn’t foreshadow some kind of strife between them.
The obligatory John Cena video focused on how eager he is to return to the WE ring.
Chris Jericho thanked Stephanie McMahon for granting him equal time. He also warned her that Cena’s return would cause problems for RAW.
Todd Grisham welcomed CM Punk, who played a video of the attack by Priceless and Randy Orton that put him out of the Scramble and cost him the World Heavyweight Championship.
Punk said that Orton kicked him in the head, because Orton was feeling useless and wanted to “send a message.”
JBL tried to cozy up to Kane by telling the Big Red Machine that they were compatible. Kane laughed in his face. He said that Leyfield’s hobby was giving financial advice and Kane’s hobby is torturing people’s genitals with a car battery.
The Kingfish Comments: Sometimes, the humor bits on RAW are actually funny. This was one of those times.
Kane & JBL d. Cryme Tyme
John Bradshaw Leyfield suffered a couple of near falls as Cryme Tyme tagged off frequently to maintain constant pressure on the Cowboy Financier.
JTG suffered an Air Kane and then JBL’s Clothesline from Hell to end the match.
The Kingfish Comments: The match wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t much more than a set-up for Survivor Series.The Kingfish Comments: I’d like to see Mike Knox add some audio to his current character. A few crazed yells would have added a lot to his vicious attack.
As Kofi Kingston tried to cheer up Evan Bourne, Mike Knox attacked the former Intercontinental champion and heaved him into a nearby wall.
Then Knox stomped the defenseless Bourne and hit him with his own crutch.
William Regal came out to glory in his recent success. He stated that he serves his Queen with “dignity and loyalty,” which he said were alien qualities to all the fans.
The Kingfish Comments: Regal needed to cut this promo to get rid of the babyface vibe he got on the RAW from the UK the previous week. He wrestled as a babyface in the match he won from Santino Marella, but they need him to stay a heel.Matt Hardy vs. William Regal Double Count Out
Non Title Match
They fought in and out of the ring, smashing away at each other with relentless fury.
They fought so intensely that the referee counted out both of them!
They continued to fight after the bell until WWE personnel pulled them apart.
The Kingfish Comments: The basic idea of the match was reasonable. It gave Regal a chance to reassert his heel credentials and didn’t make the new IC Champ take a loss so soon after taking the title.
The problem is that the implementation was not very distinguished. The combatants really didn’t get to do much before the count-out. They could’ve achieved the same thing by having someone come out and interrupt Regal with a run in.
A slide show described the recent European tour.
Chris Jericho came to center-ring to continue his jealous rants about John Cena. He told fans about every victory since 2001.
Chris stated that every “fairytale” on RAW ended the same way, with him as champion.
The 30 Lumberjacks were already in position when the show returned from commercials.
Punk was the first to get thrown from the ring. He scrambled back inside the ropes so quickly, though, that Orton’s comrades on the outside had no chance to attack him.
When Orton made his second trip to the ringside area, Jamie Noble and Batista made his stay very unpleasant.
Mark Henry pulled CM Punk out of the ring and began to whale away on him. CM’s allies saved him from an even worse mauling.
Randy Orton threw CM Punk into the ropes and nailed him with a Standing Dropkick. It only led to a near fall.
Punk did a Float Over to escape an Orton Corner Charge and scored with a Swinging Neckbreaker. This, too, resulted in just a close call.
Punk built a strong attack with punches and kicks, culminating with a really impressive boot to the head! Somehow, Randy kicked out of the cover in time.
CM Punk caught Orton in the face with a Heel Kick, threw him into a turnbuckle and brought him out again with a Running Bulldog.
Orton blocked the Go to Sleep and connected on an Across-the-Knee Backbreaker. When Randy Orton went for the RKO, Punk sent him through the ropes to the Lumberjacks, who worked him over with great enthusiasm.
Punk did an out-of-ring Dive to smear Orton in the ringside area!
William Regal distracted CM Punk. Orton capitalized with an RKO that led to the winning cover.
The Kingfish Comments: The match was quite exciting and the booking hit the bull’s-eye. Randy Orton needed a win and CM< Punk could take a loss, since he is one-half of the tag team championship team with Kofi Kingston. Both men looked good, but it took outside interference for Orton to win, so it preserves Punk as a potential challenger should Orton ascend to the title in the coming months.
After the match, violence erupted in and out of the ring as the Lumberjacks tore into each other.
Overall grade for this show: B-
The Kingfish Comments: Some of the matches left something to be desired, but the episode as a whole did its job of priming fans for Survivor Series. Unfortunately, the build up to the show started kind of slowly, so the matches couldn’t get the full promotion they need, but this made a decent effort.
I’ll be back during the weekend with another installment of the Internet’s fastest-rising daily wrestling column. I hope you’ll come back then – and, please, bring your friends.
– Arnie Katz