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The Katz Files – Arnie Katz

My Weekly RAW Notebook!

The Kingfish Arnie Katz presents his analysis and insights inspired by the 1/5 episode of RAW

RAW from New Orleans opened with a reprise of the controversial tournament to pick a challenger for John Cena at Royal Rumble.

When the show went “live,” Randy Orton and Chris Jericho stood in the ring to protest the outcome. After they made their case, John Leyfield and his minion Shawn Michaels arrived in the long white limousine and joined Orton and Jericho.

Leyfield pretty much laughed off the protest. Jericho’s taunts had a visible effect on Shawn Michaels, though he did manage to say that he felt a little better about himself because he’d kept Jericho and Orton from fighting for the title at the pay per view.

Randy and Chris got a little carried away and decreed a match between themselves with the winner advancing to fight Cena.

That’s when Stephanie McMahon appeared on the upper stage to squash that idea. Instead, she made a match for RAW, Orton & Jericho versus Michaels and… John Cena! She said that she wanted to see how much integrity Michaels still had.

The Kingfish Comments: The opening segment, though long, was actually fairly economical, since it addressed several different storylines. The Leyfield-Michaels plot advanced in several ways, notably establishing that JBK won’t be in the Rumble match and that he will be in Leyfield’s corner for the title match. The scene also set up the night’s main event and moved the show a little closer to Vince McMahon’s return, when he will presumably fight with his daughter for control of the show.

Stephanie looked much better than she has since returning to an on-screen role. She has lost a ton of weight and it looks like she may’ve had some facial work. Her eyes look much better than they did a month ago. The First Daughter wore a miniskirt on the show and, while she is still plumpish, looks like she’ll be able to carry off that type of outfit very soon at the rate she is slimming down.

Goldust & Melina d. Beth Phoenix * Santino Morella

Melina drove Beth Phoenix’s face into the canvas at high speed from the top rope and then sewed it up with a Jackknife cover.

Grade: C

After the match, Rosa came out of the audience to attack Melina.

The Kingfish comments: This fairly brief and not very exciting match had one major purpose, to show that Melina could pin Beth Phoenix as a lead-in to their championship match at Royal Rumble.

The continuing presence of Rosa suggests that Melina may possibly beat Phoenix. Rose certainly looks like she is being set up to challenge Melina after the pay per view. The similarity to the way TNA introduced Taylor Wilde is pretty obvious, but bringing wrestlers out of the crowd is a venerable tradition in pro wrestling. I’ll never forget when Porkchop Cash came out of the crowd at the Olympic in Los Angeles.

CM Punk said he was “stoked” to be fighting for the Intercontinental Championship. He sold his reverence for the title and praised several ex-champions.

The Kingfish comments: Talk about a tough sell! Punk actually claimed that, as a fan, he had always focused on the Intercontinental Championship. I guess that would make him pretty unique, since the strap has generally been the prize over which the mid-carders fought.

There have been some great IC champions, but there have also been long stretches when the title was in virtual eclipse or held by someone who could barely work. I’ll say this, though, a young dynamic wrestler like CM Punk could very well rejuvenate the title if they let him defend it in high-profile matches.

CM Punk d. William Regal (with Layla) via DQ
Intercontinental Championship Match

Punk started quickly and got a couple of near-falls, including one with a Snap Suplex. Regal blunted Punk’s assault by holding Layla in front of him as a shield. That gave Regal a chance to use his punch-and-stump offense against Punk, though he was somewhat distracted by the need to apologize to a miffed Layla for using her so callously.

CM lifted Regal on his shoulders for the GTS. But the champion grabbed the referee! He refused to let go until the official disqualified him.

Grade: C+

The Kingfish comments: The intentional disqualification ending will never be a fan favorite, but at least Regal did it with some flair. The finish sets up a championship match that fans believe will go to a positive finish and result in a victory for their hero, CM Punk. WWE could really swerve the fans in a somewhat unpleasant way by having Regal lose the next one by an intentional count out.

William Regal’s latest hair style is the most flattering he has worn. It makes him look a lot younger. To complete the effect, he needs to get back in the gum and do something about his rapidly expanding girth.

After the match, Stephanie appeared to announce a Regal-Punk rematch for the Intercontinental belt. There will be a special stipulation that Regal can lose the strap if he s disqualified.

JBL tried to get Shawn Michaels to agree to set up Cena for a Codebreaker and an RKO in the upcoming match. The Rightwing Cowboy went on to explain that of Shawn would agree to blast the champ with Sweet Chin Music, the pay-off would be even bigger.

The Kingfish comments: A big problem with this storyline is that the fans still cheer Michaels, even when he is acting as Leyfield’s evil puppet – and those cheers seem like they are supporting Leyfield’s chicanery. This backstage scene was probably intended to show that Leyfield is calling the shots and Michaels is in a position in which it is impossible for him to resist unless he outright rebels.

Randy Orton told Cody Rhodes and Sinn Snuka that they had past the first hurdle toward becoming part of legacy. They needed to win their matches tonight, though, to advance.

Manu came in and asked for a second chance. Orton not only turned him down flat but insulted his father Afa.

The Kingfish comments: This aspect of the Legacy plot surfaced last week when Manu lost a tough match. Now it looks like he might be part of the opposition to Legacy, unless he’s the type of son who’d let his father be so thoroughly insulted.

I had thought, at one time, that Cody Rhodes would be the rebel and he may yet cross over and stick with Manu. And where is DiBiase?>B>

The Miz and John Morrison, tag champs once more, came out before their match to hassle with the fans. The Miz complained about the booing and Morrison said that New Orleans, recently named the murder capital of the US, had no right to boo anyone.

The Miz & John Morrison d. Rey Mysterio & Kofi Kingston

Kofi Kingston had The Miz at a disadvantage right from the opening bell. He got a couple of near falls and chased the Chick Magnet from the ring!

Mysterio tried to attack Morrison from the ringside area, but the co holder of the tag title got the upper hand. That enabled The Miz to start a major assault on Kingston. The champs kept Kofi away from a tag for an agonizingly long time. A surprise Missile Dropkick freed him long enough to tag out to his masked sidekick.

The Masked Marvel picked up the pace by dishing out a Huracanrana to Morrison. Mysterio rolled right through Morrison’s Sunset Flip and, aided by a low-altitude Dropkick, nearly finished the match then and there!

When Mysterio tried a Wheelbarrow Suplex, Morrison anticipated the move and turned it into a high-speed sit-out Face Plant! Morrison got a two count, but no more.

Kingston took out The Miz while Mysterio stunned Morrison with a kick to the back and a 619! The Miz interfered with the West Coast Pop just enough to let Morrison swat Mysterio out of the air and pounced on him for the pin.

Grade: B

The Kingfish comments: At the opening bell, this looked like it was going to be a set-up for a title match at the pay per view. The champions’ victory calls this idea into question, though WWE has ignored such things in the past. They may put forth the rationale that Mysterio and Kingston would’ve won without the blatant outside interference.

Interference or not, this was a pretty good win for The Miz and John Morrison, since Kingston and Mysterio recently held the belts. I don’t think WWE is ready to abandon the babyface team, because they have performed some exciting matches. In that connection, it was good to see the Masked Marvel vary his program a little to make it less predictable.

After the match, with the babyfaces on the mat, Monstrous Mike Knox thundered into the ring to attack Rey Mysterio! He left the Masked Marvel half-unconscious in the ringside area.

The Kingfish comments: Obviously, this is Rey Mysterio’s next opponent. They’ve dwelled a little too long on these skirmishes and it is now time to actually have them fight. WWE has a tendency to either rush an angle that needs two months into two weeks or dawdle for a month while the heat cools.

John Cena met with Shawn Michaels in the dressing room and asked whether he’d be fighting two men or three in the night’s main event. HBK answered evasively that Cena would get what Michaels usually delivers.

Kelly Kelly d. Jillian Hall

The bellicose blonde came to the ring massacring When the Saints Come Marching In and proceeded to treat the Hot Hebrew almost as roughly.

Jillian blew a Handspring Elbow. That gave Double K the opening to flatten Hall with a two-footed kick from the top turnbuckle. She covered for the pin.

Grade: C-

Jillian Hall attacked Kelly Kelly after the match. While she struggled to recover from the additional beatdown, Kane joined her in the ring. He said he knew that she didn’t really like him and had only played up to him to protect Randy Orton, who had rejected her.

Kane announced that he would return to his favorite pastimes next week when he faced Randy Orton in the ring.

The Kingfish comments: Well, this was slightly cleverer than having Stephanie announce yet another match. Looks like Jane will be doing another TV job, unless the match is booked to never quite come to a finish.

Cody Rhodes & Sim Snuka d. Cryme Time

The boys from Brooklyn gave a good account of themselves in a reasonably exciting match.

Rhodes destroyed JTG with a new finish that looked like a combination of a Neckbreaker and a Face Plant.

Grade: B-

In the back, after the match, Randy Orton told Cody Rhodes that he had made the grade – and told Sim Snuka that he was through with Legacy. When Superfly Junior protested that he and Rhodes had won, Orton sneered that Cody had shown his toughness by actually making the pin.

When Orton asked Cody to vouch for Snuka, The Plumber’s Grandson threw his partner under the bus. “All I know is that I won the match,” he said.

The Kingfish comments: Now Snuka and Manu are on the outside, perhaps a tag team to oppose Rhodes and Orton? Or will Ted DiBiase Jr. return to join Legacy and team with Rhodes? That sounds more appealing – and it wouldn’t take Orton out of the singles picture.

Stephanie McMahon remonstrated with Santino Morella and Beth Phoenix about the attacks on Melina by Rosa Mendez. When Santino said that he couldn’t help it that women love him, his girlfriend cuffed him around a little.

Chris Jericho barged into Stephanie’s office to inform her that he had filed his protest with her father as well as with her. He revealed that he had heard from headquarters that Vince McMahon will be at RAW in two weeks.

The Kingfish comments: The way Stephanie keeps harping on the fact that RAW is her show sounds like a lead-in for another McMahon family drama.

John Cena & Shawn Michaels d. Randy Orton & Chris Jericho

Tensions charged every minute of this match as the announcers and the fans tried to read the facials and gestures of the inscrutable Shawn Michaels.

Sometimes, he seemed like a good teammate. Yet at other times, he made no effort to tag a beleaguered Cena. Cena took a lot of punishment and Michaels eventually seemed to show some eagerness to get the tag.

Cena tried and failed several times, but he finally made a diving lunge toward his partner. HBK didn’t act like he wanted to fight when he climbed inside the ropes, but a Jericho sneak attack fired his competitive zeal and he devastated both heels.

HBK treated both Orton and Jericho to Sweet Chin Music and pinned the latter.

After the match, the camera showed Leyfield watching on a backstage TV. He told Tod Grisham that Cena and Michaels will fight next week.

The Kingfish comments: This match was designed to show fans, who have started booing Michaels, that the Showstoppa is not bad, just controlled by an evil force.

I’ll be back tomorrow 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
Executive Editor