Hello, my intended...
You know something? I've already heard that Bischoff 'traded' The Dudleyz and Booker T to Smackdown to get Triple H back, which has the dual purpose of 'proving' Triple H is worth more than the entire tag team scene on Raw, and giving me a fucking aneurism/ulcer.
Then, as is my wont, I retreated into logic as a way to make the pain subside. It worked like a son-of-a-bitch, too. Observe:
Ask yourselves, what do they still have in the way of 'contenders' for that 'separate' Raw Tag-team Championship currently held by Flair and Batista? Here's the answer:
Remember what I said about how the few times HHH has released his stranglehold on the belt, it was against people that weren't left with much in the way of viable contenders for said strap; since he kinda 'went away' during Jericho's, HBK's and Goldberg's reigns - and Hunter had jobbed out everyone else so long that nobody in the stands could buy into them being contenders for 'his' strap, even in his absence. This proves my long-standing assertion that a champion is measured solely by the quality of his opposition. In case you still doubt, observe how he's always quick to remind you of how "he's beaten the best there was to throw against him" and "conquered the odds" while he was at it. This basically makes the belt VERY prestigious when he holds it, but totally worthless when he doesn't.
Mission accomplished, Levesque. Congratulations.
But it cuts both ways, Beaker.
Right now, the belts held by Evolution are - by the same measure held to 'your' World Title - totally worthless. The Intercontinental Strap held by Orton, for example...? Orton's major focus of 'story' is his feud with Mick Foley, who is NOT in contention for that IC strap. Orton's not even remotely involved with any other guy in the locker-room (unless it's a run-in to save HHH), so where's the impetus for his hanging onto the strap? Where're the guys he can prove his worth against? Right. On Smackdown. Unless someone's gonna give Shelton Benjamin or Chuck Palumbo a bit of a push towards Orton, that belt is just decoration.
As for the straps on Flair and Batista, considering the scorched earth policy used to 'get you back', has completely gutted the tag team picture on Raw, Flair and Dave's straps are simply not in danger from what remains. The fans know that - hell, it isn't even in QUESTION - so that'll take a BUNCH of glitter off the gold Dave and Ric wear so proudly.
I know you lot have been trying to capture the same sort of glory possessed by the Four Horsemen in their heyday; where each member of the group held a title. However, each of those titles had a group of viable and believable contenders for them. When they were in competition for these straps, the Horsemen (generally) worked solid and earnest programs with said contenders to make it look like the belt was hard-won whomever won it - or in the case of Blanchard kept through vicious cheating and/or technicalities.
In short, Evolution is nowhere NEAR that level - and damn unlikely to ever get there. Someone had to tell you - and it was ME.
What fucking good is having every belt on the show held by your group when the only championship with any sort of 'prestige' on it is 'yours' - and you don't currently hold it? What a bunch of CHUMPS you've surrounded yourself with - by your own reasoning - since their stuff isn't as 'good' as yours. If you didn't think so, why have you never tried for any other belt on Raw when NOT held by Evolution? Hell, you even devalue the belts on Smackdown whenever you get the chance, so the whole company is pretty much worthless - except for 'your' title.
Which you currently don't hold.
Thus, by your own reasoning, you've become worthless.
You can (and probably will) yammer your boring boilerplate about 'the bullseye' being on the back/chest of the guy that 'got lucky ONE time', but without that belt you're just another also-ran that 'came up short'. When your 'injured arm' is better and you go at Benoit 'one on one' along with those other three guys you have around, and you beat him clean to take back 'your' strap just like usual - where will that leave you? Who do they still have left in the indy scene or on Smackdown to bring in to feed your ego as 'another of the best' to test yourself against? Edge? Don't make me laugh, he was routinely punked by A-Train before getting sidelined from injury - ALSO from A-Train. Nope, Edge isn't a 'contender' that'll help you much. So, since Brock quit, and Angle isn't going anywhere anytime soon, Benoit's all you've got left to put you over. You'll probably hotshot your rematch to make his reign as short as anyone else's was, and that'll leave no one else for you besides HBK, whom you've already jobbed to Orton - the guy you call 'Kid' on camera. Taking 'your' title back from Benoit will ultimately make 'your' title as prestigious as the rest of them. By that, I mean 'worthless'.
And YOU did it. Happy? I know I am, because I get to watch it happen. This pleases me.
Remember, the only place you can go from the top is DOWN... By my estimation, your only hope of hanging onto the glory of 'always beating the best' is to either retire after you take it back from Benoit or bring back Hogan long enough to beat HIM and THEN retire... Either way, your place in history is fast approaching, and someone smart enough to marry the boss's daughter just HAS to know it's true.
Which means I win, Beaker. Thanks for playing.
Game Over, indeed.
Tonight's Raw comes at us from Cincinatti, Ohio, and Jericho's Highlight Reel will feature Trish - while Benoit and HBK will face Evolution for the Tag Straps according to Ross in the 'Ten Minutes of Star Trek Left' blurb. I guess the WWe and HBK plan to soak off any credibility Benoit brings to the table by wasting him in tagmatches instead of title defenses against people besides HHH.
No, I don't count Rhyno. Can YOU?
In case you still doubt, how many tag matches was HHH in while Champ?
Moving right along...
They boo Eric's picture, and then cut to some of the lottery highlights - specifically HHH's farewell sendoff, and Angle trading HHH back.
Standard Raw Intro, with mostly Trish and Evolution in the clips - though they added some Benoit snippets. Ross tells us that Raw will never be the same.
We nod. Smiling. Indeed so, Saucy. Indeed so.
Evolution comes out with their gold, and without their HHH. I guess it's time to jaw... Yay. King says 'HHH is worth any three men anywhere on any roster', which is a pretty fucking dumb thing to say with those three on screen, I think.
Flair gets the mic, and says he and Dave are thrilled to get the chance to defend against HBK and Benoit. They are also thrilled to know HHH is back in the Raw locker-room, and pronounces 'The Franchise is back'.
Shane Douglas does a spit-take.
Flair also says he was disappointed with the guys in the back and their sendoff of their leader, but HHH will square everything up nice soon enough. Flair's also tired that nobody's giving Orton any respect despite 'beating your GOD, Mick Foley' several times.
I like Mick, but he's about three letters short of being my God, Naitch. Flair says Orton will address us, despite his tonsillectomy. Orton gets the stick and is a bit froggy, but says the fact that he's in the ring now proves he's got the guts - unlike Mick Foley. And it proves he was right about Foley being a coward.
Foley comes out. Big pop. Real big. Foley asks if Orton is feeling unloved and disrespected, since as far as he's concerned Randy proved himself in WM. Yes, Orton proved that in a 3-on-2 situation, he can beat a Hollywood Actor and a guy that writes children's books. I love Foley JUST a bit more. Foley also says that he feels things would have been different one on one. Flair says Foley had his chance to get with Orton at Backlash and passed. Foley says 'How about if Evolution is banned from ringside?' Flair agrees. 'How about the IC strap is on the line, too?' Flair agrees. So Foley says, 'How about we toss out the rulebook, too?' Flair says Evolution has no problem with ANYTHING from Foley, and Foley says he's hearing a lot from Flair, but nothing from Orton. Flair takes exception, but Foley tells him he'd knock some Nature Boy out if Flair wanted to step up, but he'd like to hear Orton accept himself. Orton does.
Cut to La Resistance and some other guy talking to Tajiri, and they say that as a New Guy on Raw Type Initiation, he has to mist the next guy that comes through the door. It's Coach. He gets the Mist. He cries like a pussy and stumbles out. Then the three dinks tell Tajiri that Coach is Boss Bischoff's boy (WHY did they say BOY? DUMBASSES!!!) and Tajiri's gonna be in some trouble right away. Tajiri seems worried.
Nidia comes out to jerk the curtain in a set of Daisy Dukes and an ugly green t-shirt. She'll face... Molly, who is in another wig, though this one doesn't have a - yes, it does. Molly opens up with an armdrag takedown, then to a wristlock. Irish Whip to the corner, but Nidia floats up to try an ankle-scissors, but Molly shoves her to the apron and then bounces her off the ringpost. Nidia in trouble, and Molly continues to work the arm. Nidia battles back with some forearms, but is knocked down with a kneelift. Molly charges in to capitalize, but is wrapped up in a schoolboy. It gets two. Nidia continues the offense with some lariats and a Northen Lights Suplex (which gets two), but is drop-toed across the bottom rope. Nidia battles back again, and puts Molly in the corner and tries to drag her out by the hair. The hair comes, but Molly stays. Molly freaks out about the baldie, and is rolled up for the Big 'L'.
Cut to Bischoff and his apprentice, and he is steamed about Edge flattening him. He swears Edge will learn to respect who's in charge, because his first match back (at Backlash) will be against the seven-foot monster Kane.
Commercials. Including an extended version of Jericho's 'Wish You Were Me' rubbish hawking the Y2Stinger drink. No, Chris, I really don't wish I was you... I may not be as famous, or make as much money - but I have my pride as a tradesman as well as the respect of my coworkers/bosses. Lemme ask: Don't you wish you were ME?
Next out, Hurricane. Following him out is HHH, who quickly caroms him off the wall and marches to the ring. HHH says that it was a message to everyone in the Raw locker-room. He said he saw them all laughing and cheering when he got traded, but who's laughing now? He knows Bischoff would have traded any of them to get him back - since he did. He traded THREE of them to get him back. He did it because he's a smart business man. He got back the Franchise to keep the #1 Show on Cable by retaining the #1 Guy. He also runs down Angle some and says Bischoff will be changing the Benoit tag team match to a title defense versus himself.
Eric comes out, and assures HHH he would have traded the whole roster to get HHH back. HHH asks about getting 'his' title back from Benoit tonight, but Eric says he's given his word about the tagmatch and breaking it would be 'against the law'. But to placate HHH, he's gonna make a rematch at Backlash. The very same match from Wrestlemania - HBK, Benoit and HHH in a triple threat. HHH likes it.
What do you know? <a href="http://www.theringpost.com/cgi-bin/viewcol.cgi?category=2&id=1080015190">They read me...</a> In case you can't be bothered, here's the pertinent quote: "He then reminds us it 'took two men to beat him - not one'. The only problem with that is in a triple threat match EVERYONE is against two other guys, which means it also took two men to beat HBK - and Benoit beat two men to get the strap. Oops."
Quick shill for Rock's movie, then we go to Evolution talking about how Shelton Benjamin was laughing about HHH's trade. Benjamin walks on by and is promptly punked for disrespecting 'The Game'.
We go to Storm in the ring, and he's calling it quits with the happy-guy dancing stuff. He's not going to let 14 years of hard work turn into a joke and a dance. He also feels being traded to Smackdown could have helped him. Rhyno comes out and Lance starts chopping on him before working a hammerlock. Rhyno dumps Lance in a spinebuster, then gores Lance. Threecount. Time: About fifteen seconds.
Tajiri is in the back practicing apologizing to Bischoff. Coach is in there tattling on Tajiri as we speak, and he says he heard Tajiri say he didn't respect Bischoff or Raw.
"Riah, Riah!" protests Tajiri.
Eric decides to give Tajiri his own initiation, one on one with no DQ against Kane. Tajiri looks worried, and Coach smiles. Tajiri calls Coach a bastard in Japanese.
The USO gives their Legacy of Hope Award to WWe, and we see some clips with Foley, Linda McMahon and HHH talking about what an honor it is.
Benoit comes out with the belt for the tagmatch. Already? I guess they're gonna waylay HBK in the back or something... Benoit's on the cover of Raw Magazine, by the way. Michaels comes out next, unharmed. (Even I can be wrong, but I still think it's too early for the posted Main Event). Flair and Dave out next, and Ross speculates if Evolution loses the Tag Straps it could be the beginning of the end for them.
Lillian Garcia is informed that the match will have a special referee - Bischoff's Apprentice, Jonny Spade. Jonny tells Garcia he's now gonna be known as Jonny Nitro. Dave and HBK start off chopping each other. Dave falls out the ring. Tag to Benoit. Benoit and Flair go at it next, but Flair winds up in the Crossface pretty quick. Dave VERY obviously tries to pull Flair to the ropes, but Nitro ignores it. Batista finally pulls Flair out of the ring, and gets back in himself. Benoit flattens Dave and HBK is back in for some chopping. Tag to Flair, and they bounce around the ropes some before Michaels takes Flair down with a drop-toe and clamps on the Figure Four. Flair gets to the ropes, and escapes to the apron. HBK suplexes him back in. Tag to Benoit for some Choppy-Woo to the Flair Flop. Benoit hits a Legdrop on the back of Flair's head and then sends him to the near corner, but Flair hits him with a back-elbow and then tags Dave back in. Tag to HBK, who chops on Dave. Dave whips HBK to the corner and charges into HBK's boot. He staggers to the opposite corner for some mounted punches on the buckles. Tag to Benoit, who starts beating all over Dave's head and shoulders before shoving him into the corner and tagging HBK back in. HBK with an Irish Whip, it's reversed, and Dave hits the Spinebuster, then tags in Flair, who hits the kneedrop. Flair whips HBK into the corner, and then takes him over in a Butterfly Suplex. Lateral Press gets two for the Nature Boy. Flair picks Michaels up and then chops him down to get in some Strut. Tag to Dave, who hits a powerslam and gets two. Tag to Flair for some brawlies. They trade chops and punches before Flair sends Michaels into the ropes and they shoulderblock each other to the mat. Flair goes to the top so Michaels can slam him. Flair gets up first, anyway and tries an elbow-drop. Misses. Tag to Benoit, who opens a can on Flair with brawlies and chops. Flair drops, and Benoit clobbers Batista to the floor so he can get in the Triple German Suplex, which he flows into the Sharpshooter. Dave comes in to make the save, and is clobbered by Michaels after Dave waffles Benoit from behind. The referee makes some noise, and HBK gives him some scowlies...
We're back, and Benoit's being worked on by Flair with some brawlies in the corner. Flair grabs Benoit's leg and goes Whoo. Benoit hits the enzuigiri. Tag to HBK and Batista. They collide in the center of the ring, Flair rushes in, and Michaels hits him with a lariat. Benoit hits Dave with a German Suplex, and he follows it up with a Diving Headbutt. Flair gets himself together just in time to get Superkicked to death by Michaels for the pin. Benoit and HBK celebrate - even going so far as to hug each other, but Jonny tells Lillian that Flair wasn't the legal man, so the match must continue. Flair schoolboys the stunned Michaels, and Jonny goes for a fast count. HBK takes exception to the bullshit and punches Jonny. Jonny disqualifies them so Evolution can retain.
Welcome back, Dusty Finish.
Jonny moves to exit, but Michaels drags him back into the ring by his hair so Benoit can put him in the Crossface. Michaels rolls about the ring laughing at it, which means they're gonna do the teamup angle for the Backlash so HHH can 'beat the odds'.
Meanwhile, in the office, Benjamin is complaining to Bischoff about being backjumped earlier. Bischoff tells him that he had it coming. Austin intervenes... He tells Shelton to 'do something' and challenge HHH to a match, tonight. Benjamin agrees and asks Eric to make the match. Eric does. Austin wishes him luck with his Raw Debut, and wonders aloud if he knows what he 'got himself into'. Benjamin looks confused at the Rattlesnake's sudden reversal, which makes it pretty much unanimous world-wide. I guess THIS will be our new Main Event, huh?
Jericho comes out for the Highlight Reel and looks pretty damn surly in there. He gets a mic and says he has to congratulate Christian and Trish because they 'got' him on the biggest stage in the business. He also tells us that he's been told by Eric that if he smacks Stratus he'll be fined and suspended, so he won't. He just wants an explanation, and he calls Trish down to give it. Ross calls her a 'two-tongued Jezebel', which King thinks isn't a bad thing.
Trish smirks about how Y2J can't touch her, and explains that she did it because 'he wasn't there for her'. When she had that match with Christian while he was 'injured', a Real Man would have hopped over on one leg to protect her. She says she plotted after that thing - with Christian, in the hotel rooms - to humiliate Jericho. She then says as 3-Time WWe Babe of the Year, Jericho isn't even in her league.
Jericho brings out all his old Stephie McMahon Slut jokes and the crowd gets behind him. Big. They even sing along with calling her a Filthy, Disgusting, Dirty, Brutal, Bottom-feeding, Trashbag Ho... Trish leaves the ring mortified.
Cut to Tajiri preparing for his match. Nothing to see here...
Commercials. Strange that they made a Punisher movie... Last I remember (which was three years ago when the comic store closed down) Punisher was dead and re-animated by angels to be a cheap, easier to draw version of Ghost Rider.
Trish complains to Christian in the back, and wonders why he wasn't there for her. It's because he was in the office with Bischoff making a match so that Backlash is the worst night of Jericho's life.
Tajiri comes out looking like he just found out he has eight seconds to live, which is about right. Kane comes out and enters the ring with a big smile. Tajiri charges in and makes with some kicking, but is lariated inside out. Irish Whip to the ropes so Tajiri can hit the handspring back elbow, which he follows with a Spray attempt. Kane blocks with a Choke, but Tajiri kicks free. Kane tosses him out the ring and bounces him around some, but Tajiri gets back into the ring and Mists Kane coming back in, which slows him down enough to get counted out. Kane comes into the ring and Chokeslams Tajiri for daring to win. Edge comes out and punishes Kane with a Spear. What a mess...
Commercials. 'Smiling Bob' is the new frontman for the Enzyte 'big dick' pills. Considering what the bag playing his wife looks like, I don't think he has much reason to smile...
Benjamin is taping up, and is visited by Benoit. Benoit tells him he's proud of how Benjamin stood up to HHH, and tells him that HHH's greatest weakness is his ego. He enjoins Shelton to 'take it to him' and 'show what he's about'. Hurricane adds that he'd like the kid to take HHH down. Foley tells Benjamin that he doesn't get a second chance to make a first impression.
Replay of some bits of Smackdown. Booker continues to job to anyone with a belt. Bradshaw flattens Eddy after the match.
Flair takes a moment to talk up HHH and assure him that the Game's gonna completely destroy the stupid ni- kid.
We're back for HHH's intro (10:46) and he gets to the ring to spit water and await Shelton Benjamin. SB comes out when he's done with the theatrics (10:48) and they begin the match. (10:49) They size each other up, and go to the collar and elbow. HHH pushes SB to the corner and gives him the kiddo-slap to the cheek. They lockup again, and SB hits a waistlock takedown. They scramble on the mat a bit until HHH gets to the ropes, and SB breaks clean. They lock back up for another SB takedown. HHH scurries to the ropes, and SB throttles him on the middle rope a bit, then slaps him in 'disrespect'. HHH gets up and puts on a headlock. SB shoves him to the ropes to free himself, and HHH shoulderblocks him down. HHH goes to the ropes to capitalize while he's down, but SB jumps up to stop him in his track. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but SB escapes, then clamps on a headlock. HHH shoves him to the ropes, but Benjamin shoulderblocks him down. The kid comes off the ropes some, and Triple H tries to backdrop him, but gets backslid instead. It gets two. HHH gets up and charges, but is Fireman's Carried to the mat, then armdragged. They go to the corner, and HHH hits some shoulders to the belly followed by chops. HHH tosses SB to the opposite corner and charges into his outstretched boot. Benjamin hits a NICE jumping corkscrew kick and HHH is in trouble. Flair comes out, so HHH tosses SB out the ring for some conditioning. Benoit shows up to back Flair away from Benjamin.
We're back (10:58) and HHH has Benjamin in a top wristlock. SB bridges, then gets back up and flings HHH to the mat for an armbar. SB works the hold, even straddling the Game for more leverage. HHH sends the kid to the ropes and hits the High Knee. He comes in to capitalize, but is rolled up into the Small Package for two. HHH is unhappy, and launches Benjamin into the steel ringpost a couple times, then hits a Hangman's Neckbreaker. It gets two. HHH sits on Benjamin and punches him, then picks him up and punches him. Then puts him in the corner and punches him, followed by a Vertical Suplex and a kneedrop. It gets two. HHH kicks on SB a little, and the kid gets to his feet to be punched back down to the mat. Benji gets back up, and is punched down again. SB continues struggling up, and HHH tries the punch again - but Shelton blocks it. They go toe to toe, and Benjamin is put into the Pushkiller Sleeper. Benjamin fading... Fading... He's trying to get back up, and he rushes to the corner to bounce HHH off the top buckle and free himself. HHH staggers to the corner, and SB charges into the Game's boot. HHH with an Irish Whip, but eats a jumping Reverse Elbow, followed by a Back Body Drop and a modified Russian Legsweep. It gets two.
HHH kicks Benji in the belly and tries to scoopslam, but SB slips free and clamps him in a Sleeper. HHH counters with a Backdrop Suplex, and then goes to the second buckle to jump down on him, but instead hits both SB's feet. SB then lariats HHH to the floor, which bounces him off the barrier. Shelton hits a lariat from the apron. HHH responds with a thumb to the eye on the outside. SB bounces HHH off the steps, then rolls him in. Shelton hits an UGLY top rope lariat for two. Then a powerslam for two. HHH tries the Pedigree, but Benjamin reverses with a double-leg pickup to a double prawn for another two. Flair takes a cheapshot, and Benoit chases him away. HHH looks to the outside, and Benjamin hits him with an Avalanche Splash while he's distracted, followed by a rollup.
It gets three.
I'll be DAMNED. DAMNED.
Too bad it doesn't mean anything, huh? He's just putting the kid over a little so he can be 'the next' one to keep the whole cycle going I spoke about earlier... He'll likely bitch that the kid had his tights or something next week.
Until then, my friends...
You're welcome. See you SOON.