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Jeez, what a disappointing night.  I went 2-3 in official picks.  I guess there’s a reason why Michael Cole repeated 18,000 times that the champion has only a 25% chance of retaining his or her title.  Though, with those odds, you would think that at least one of the four fatal four way matches that have occurred in the past week would have had a champion retain the title.  But apparently, after this past week, the odds of a champion retaining the title in a fatal four way match are 0%.  Let’s look at the show, shall we?

We start with the Chairman, Vince McMahon, making an appearance to let us know that Raw’s GM, Bret Hart, will not be in attendance thanks to the NXT invasion destroying him last Monday.  So we won’t be getting a decision on whether or not the invasion will get their contracts.  Great idea, guys.  Knock out the guy you want to give you contracts so he can’t give you contracts.  Anyway, let’s move on.

Kofi Kingston defeats Drew McIntyre to retain the Intercontinental Championship

As expected, there was outside interference from Matt Hardy.  What wasn’t expected was the ref bump and McIntyre ordering Teddy Long, who was sitting at ringside, to make the pinfall count.  For those of you who don’t remember, Teddy Long is a former referee.  Anyway, Teddy put on the ref shirt that McIntyre tore off Charles Robinson (showing us Robinson’s rather pasty upper body) and counted the 1-2-STOP.  Teddy refused to count the pinfall for McIntyre.  I marked out like crazy when this happened.  Teddy still has some dignity left after that embarassing display on Smackdown.  We then get the 3,249th Matt Hardy run-in of this feud, Hardy hits a Twist of Fate, and Kofi hits Trouble in Paradise for the win, which Teddy enthusiastically counts.  All the fans go home happy.  Except this is the first match, so the crowd is worn out already.  As for the match itself, the McIntyre control segments were typical dull McIntyre fare, but the back-and-forth part was actually quite good.  The spike DDT that Kofi hit on Drew was particularly sick-looking.  I’ll give Drew credit for taking a DDT like Rob Van Dam, who i always thought took the best DDT bumps.  But I’m heading way off topic.  It was a decent match with as close to a Dusty finish as we’re ever going to see in this day and age.

Alicia Fox defeats Eve Torres, Gail Kim, and Maryse in a Fatal Four Way match to become the NEW Divas Champion

I had an odd feeling this might happen.  Even though I picked Eve to retain, I had an inkling that Alicia might win simply because she’s gotten a push in recent weeks.  It was a decent WWE women’s match, but nothing special.  Eve’s moonsault at the end was very well-done, I thought.  But in the end, Alicia pulls the same trick that Miz did last Monday night and wins the Divas Championship.  Also, during this match, the “Daniel Bryan” chants were very prominent.  I believe that those chants popped up no less than a half dozen times, and I’ll save my thoughts on that until the end.

Evan Bourne defeats Chris Jericho

No offense to WWE Creative (okay, a little offense), but when a bonus match is the best match of the night, you’re obviously doing something wrong in the creativity department.  At least, I think it was a bonus match.  I didn’t see it being advertised at all.  Anyway, I think this is the beginning of two major turns for these two men: first, this is the push for Bourne that people have been screaming for since his debut in ECW, and second, it seems to be the beginning of Jericho manning the gatekeeper post on Raw.  Raw has not had a gatekeeper in a while, and there isn’t a better choice for that role than Jericho.  I’ll put it out there now: I think Evan Bourne will be the next United States Champion.  When that happens, I do not know, but I’m sure it will happen.  As far as the match goes, it was definitely the best match of the night, long enough for both men to give a great showing and with enough spots and moves to keep us entertained the whole way through.  Hats off to Bourne, who took a beating from Jericho and still managed to win, and hats off to Jericho for putting over a guy who, I hope, will be one of the future main eventers in the company.

Rey Mysterio defeats Jack Swagger, The Big Show, and CM Punk in a Fatal Four Way match to become the NEW World Heavyweight Champion

At first, I found this to be a shocking decision.  Creative is giving Rey a title run based on his own merit?  Impossible!  Then, I realized that Rey took The Undertaker’s place in the match, and it all clicked.  Of course, had Taker not gotten injured, he would have won the title.  Dur.  So, once again, Rey’s world title victory is a sham.  His first was Vince capitalizing on Eddie Guerrero’s death, and this was capitalizing on Taker’s injury.  I suppose that, if nothing else, this sets up a Mask vs. Title match between Mysterio and Punk in the near future.  There are reports floating around that WWE is giving Rey the title because he was going to take a month off but had to postpone those plans when Taker got hurt.  So they’re giving him the title to keep him happy.  Which probably isn’t the best reason to give someone a title.  Also, word is that management was unhappy with Swagger’s title reign.  Of course you’re going to be unhappy with a Jack Swagger title reign!  There is a reason that you build someone up through the ranks and don’t give him a world championship as quickly as you do someone like Sheamus or even Swagger: it’s because they’re untested, and people don’t give a crap about this random new guy who wins a title in what feels like a fluke every single time.  What we want to see is somebody work his or her way up from the bottom of the barrel and earn his or her title shots, AFTER he or she has paid his or her dues.  Guys like Sheamus and Swagger haven’t paid their dues yet.  They’ve been in the business long enough to earn some secondary title opportunities, not world title opportunities.  That’s why, when Evan Bourne wins the United States Championship, it’s going to MEAN something.  He started in ECW, worked his way up there, then was moved to Raw, where he clawed his way from curtain-jerker to legitimate singles competitor.  Though I would think that anyone who saw him work in ROH or WSX would believe he’s been a main event-level talent for a while now.  Anyway, this is why WWE shouldn’t give these younger guys world title runs: because they’re unproven.  You have to establish whether someone can draw a crowd before putting your top title on him.  You can’t put a world title on someone and HOPE that they draw a crowd.  It doesn’t work that way.  It ends up failing miserably.  We saw it with Sheamus’ unimpressive WWE Title reign, and we saw it with Swagger’s title reign.  The match was okay, but again, it didn’t have much of a chance after following the Bourne/Jericho match.

The Miz defeats R-Truth to retain the United States Championship

You could tell, if you were watching the event on PPV (or through other, less legal ways as well) that the crowd was completely blown after the Mysterio title win.  There was dead silence for most of this match.  It was a decent match overall, but not having the crowd into it at all kind of deflated any impact the match could have had.  Still, I’ll give props to Miz and Truth for working a near 15 minute title match with a dead crowd.

Completely tangential sidenote: does anyone else find it hypocritical that WWE is steering so far away from the word “death” when in reference to Taker’s current absence from Smackdown, but a week before his injury/storyline “vegetative state,” they released a DVD package entitled “The Undertaker’s Deadliest Matches?”  I think it’s hypocritical (and a little bit ironic).

Anyway, Miz retain the title, which will help elevate the title for when Bourne wins it.  Having a title change hands multiple times in a short span (as I discussed in the last post) is a sure-fire way to degrade any prestige the title may have.  Miz needs to hold onto this title for a couple more months, to establish himself as the champion again.  I look forward to Miz vs. Bourne.

The Hart Dynasty defeats The Usos and Tamina in a six-person mixed tag match

It’s bad enough that the best match on the card was a bonus match, but it’s REALLY bad when the second-best match was also a bonus match.  This match is how a majority of matches should go: fast-paced, few rest holds, and lots of entertaining spots.  The Usos, after a humdrum in-ring debut on Superstars, showed why they were brought up to the Raw roster instead of having to go through NXT.  Jimmy and Jey are damned good.  They’re a fantastic blend of power, speed, agility, and strength.  And they’re pretty good heels too.  And I couldn’t tell from previous shows, but Tamina is a big girl.  She’s buff like crazy, and she’ll provide a great opponent for Nattie Neidhart.  I think these two teams can have an old-school, long-ass feud that goes for a year or more.  I’ve acquired several of the WWE Legend of Wrestling episodes from WWE Classics on Demand (which I would have were there not a monthly fee attached), and one of the episodes talks about tag teams.  And the panel of legends consists of Nick Bockwinkel, Michael Hayes, J.J. Dillon, and Pat Patterson, four of the foremost tag team wrestlers in history.  And they talk about how tag teams aren’t nearly as prevalent now as they were in the 1960’s and 1970’s.  I think that these two teams can bring back a true tag team resurgence for Vince and Co.  If you just let the Hart Dynasty and the Usos go at it tooth and nail, week in and week out, people will not get tired of it.  Especially if you build each week on the previous week.  I think these teams could have the best tag team feud since The Hardys, The Dudley Boys, and Edge & Christian in the early part of this century.  And once they’re done feuding, there are plenty more young teams champing at the bit for a shot at the Unified Tag Team Titles.

Sheamus defeats John Cena, Edge, and Randy Orton in a Fatal Four Way match to become the NEW WWE Champion

If you want a controversial finish, you got one.  As expected, the NXT invasion hit the arena, first taking out the four Raw superstars who were apparently acting as guardsmen, but ended up just watching the match until they were ambushed by the invasion.  Seven on four is never good for the four.  And after the invasion destroyed the backstage area, they stormed out to ringside (where horrible camera work prevailed) and they beat Cena to a pulp before heading outside to take out Edge and Orton.  Amidst all the chaos, Sheamus quietly slid into the ring and pinned Cena to win the WWE Title.  So now both of his title wins come under dubious circumstances.  But he could not have made a bigger mistake, because as the WWE Champion, he now has the target on his back.  Seeing as how after the NXT invasion chased Sheamus down after finishing their assault on Cena once the match was over, it seems that Sheamus will be the invasion’s next project.  Unless he turns out to be the leader of the faction, which would just be strange.

So, all in all, an okay PPV with the best matches not announced beforehand.  The number of “Daniel Bryan” chants was rather astounding.  I counted at least a half dozen.  Also, the crowd in Long Island reminded me a lot of the crowds in Canada and the United Kingdom: they cheer the heels and boo the faces.  People were booing Kofi Kingston and Rey Mysterio, which I found rather surprising.  I guess Long Island is closer to Canada than I realize.  And the Daniel Bryan chants make me hope even more that this whole angle is a work.  Because if it isn’t, there are going to be a lot of pissed-off fans.

Before I go, I’d like to talk just a little bit more about tag team wrestling.  A couple of months ago, indy fed CHIKARA held their annual King of Trios tournament.  Now, I’ve never seen CHIKARA before, but an entire tournament dedicated to three-man tag teams sounded great.  And after watching Night 1, I have to say that if CHIKARA’s other shows are anything like King of Trios, I’ll be watching a lot more of them.  Night 1 had the first round of the tournament: 16 teams faced off, and only 8 moved on.  And the variety of teams was amazing.  You had everything from CHIKARA regulars to Japanese teams to Mexican teams to completely random teams like The Throwbacks, which considted of an old-school basketball player gimmick, an old-school baseball player gimmick, and an old-school wrestler gimmick  (incidentally, Matt Classic is now my favorite wrestler ever).  And every match was fantastic to watch.  Some were more comedy-based, like the Throwbacks’ match, while others were more serious.  It was also nice seeing Colin Delaney both in the ring and at the announce table.  If WWE hadn’t future endeavored him, Delaney could have been a pretty good color announcer.  I have not yet watched the second or third nights of this show, but if the first night was any indication, I’ll definitely be enjoying myself.  And if you want to watch some excellent tag team matches, I’d recommend finding this show and acquiring it, whether by purchasing it legally or by other means.  But I would recommend supporting indy feds like CHIKARA, as they provide some of the most entertaining wrestling you will see.  And they’re coming out with a video game later this year.  Should be awesome.

So, with all that said and done, I’m finished for now.  I’ll be back later on in the week, though what my topics will be I am unsure yet.  Stay tuned, and until next time, stay awesome.

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