Wednesday, June 16, 2021

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Raw Redux (April 12th, 2010): Way Too Quick & Far Too Slow

So Eve Torres won a Divas Championship shot last week in what was probably the least prestigious win of its kind. That’s not a slight to Eve, though, because the evening gown stipulation dragged the match down like a rusty anchor. Still, it was promising to see an actual championship match made, and we moved on to this week with Eve vs. Maryse in the cards. So, did this match surpass its dress-wrestling origins? Let’s see:

David Hasselhoff introduces the match. Eve makes her way to the ring, and she dances a bit with Hoff. Michael Cole calls this an “interesting” and “unique” way to kick off Raw. I have no idea what that means, because while Divas Championship matches may be rare, they’re not exactly “unique” fare. Maryse is next, and the match starts. Maryse gets things rolling with a vicious slap, prompting a hair-pulling exchange that the referee eventually has to break up. Maryse slips out of the ring and Eve gives chase, meeting a blow from Maryse as soon as she reaches her.

Maryse is showing more aggression than she has in a long, long time. I guess a championship defense will light a fire under anyone’s ass, but it’s nice to see her do more than run away–though she’s still doing that too. She slams Eve’s face onto the apron several times before tossing her back into the ring. Before Maryse can do anything more Eve goes on an offensive streak of her own, whipping Maryse into the corner, charging and getting an elbow to the face. Maryse tries to get in another lick but Eve again turns the tables, hitting a neckbreaker. She positions Maryse on the mat and climbs the turnbuckle, performing a beautiful moonsault.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t meet its mark, as Maryse rolls out of the way. Both Divas lay stagnant on the mat, and I’m pretty sure Eve knocked all the wind out of herself. God, that’s gotta hurt. Maryse laughs at her misfire, slapping her on the back of the head and standing her up for the French Kiss DDT. Even blocks it, though and, with that momentum, rolls Maryse up into an interesting bridge pin. She gets the 3-count and is the new Divas Champion. Eve celebrates while Maryse screams (in agony?).

The match, obviously, barely got a chance to get rolling. There was no fire because they didn’t even get a chance to build up steam. We’ve been “treated” to blink-and-you-miss-it matches for weeks now (it’s hard to even imagine a time when matches lasted upwards of 5 minutes), but one would hope that the WWE would see fit to give a championship match a little more room to breathe. Not so, as we can see, and this match was treated with the same care this entire storyline has been. Well, I’m not really sure you could call it a storyline. It’s more like a succession of wins for Eve. They invested so little into this that no one likely cares that Maryse finally got her due, much less that Eve just won the Divas Championship.

That’s not meant as an insult to Eve–this lie squarely on the feeble shoulders of the WWE bookers. They could have made this into a feud of decent length, building towards this moment so when it came we would feel something, anything. As is, it’s just another Diva match that went too quickly, except this time, a belt was exchanged at the end of it. Eve deserves a much better buildup to her first championship win because as it stands, this will be forgotten in a matter of months. It’s just that unmemorable.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for surprise wins and surprise endings (like the roll up), but the effectiveness of all of that depends highly on what preceded it. With no suspense in the feud or the match, a surprise win is meaningless. A quick roll-up is just on of the 5 moves in a 2 minute match. The WWE bookers need to realize that you can’t just provide a beginning and end of a feud and hope the fans give a shit by the end of its 2 week run. Every good writer knows that you need something in the middle to build tension and excitement. Otherwise, you’ve got the wrestling feud equivalent of the “Transformers” movies–one flashy moment after the next with nothing of substance to hold it up and give it meaning. Now that I think of it, maybe that’s the Raw writers’ side gig–penning Michael Bay movies. It’d explain a lot, actually.

Congrats on your win Eve, and here hoping that the booking from this point forward can serve to give this reign some meaning. I’m not holding my breath, though.

Later in the night we get the inevitable guest GM-themed gimmick match. We predicted this in the Post-Show last week, but to be fair, a blind person could have seen this coming. I just take solace in the fact that we already had an actual wrestling match at the beginning of the show, even if it meant fuck all to the writers, the audience in London, you, and me. This match, of course, features the Divas wrestling in red one-piece bathing suits, a la the suits Pamela Anderson and crew wore on “Baywatch”, the show on which GM David Hasselhoff gained his notoriety. Let’s see if this car crash is a fender-bender or a full on 10-car pile up:

The match is announced as a Baywatch Babe Triple Threat Tag Team match. A lifeguard stand is propped just outside the ring. Wow, off to a dreadful promising start. David Hasselhoff comes out and sits in the lifeguard position, probably watching intently on the off-chance a body of water appears in the ring and someone starts to drown in it. I think we’ve found a way to make a Divas gimmick match even more ridiculous–add a non-functioning third-party to sit in a ridiculous looking prop and watch all pervy-like. Oh right, it’s already been done.

The Diva teams (Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly, Jillian & Rosa Mendes, and The Bella Twins) make their way to the ring to the Baywatch theme, running in slow motion, thanks to some production truck trickery. It is easily the most cringe-worthy the Divas have looked in a while. Yikes. It’s not even silly enough to bring out a laugh–it just makes me want to change the channel. At this rate, their entrances will be longer than the Divas Championship match from earlier in the night.

It turns out that we have a special guest referee, Santino. Or, as I like to call him, Italian Hornswoggle. Can’t wait for the tomfoolery that will result from this! The only reason I can see why they made this a triple threat tag team match instead of a plain old gigantic tag team match is that they’ve only got two heels at their disposal, with Maryse having already wrestled and Katie Lea off playing invisible. That seems to be another problem they created for themselves, creating a surplus of babyfaces to the point where their main function is to prance around happily brain dead in whatever ridiculous outfit the GM of the week calls for. Yep, this is the WWE, folks, the pinnacle of professional wrestling.

Kelly and Jillian start things off, getting into a shoving match, Jillian blocking a kick and sending Kelly flipping backwards, landing on her feet. Kelly ducks a clothesline and runs the ropes, hitting her preset move, the tilt-a-whirl headscissors (just hit “channel up” and “volume down” on your remote control simultaneously to trigger it. Hitting “volume up” will lengthen her Tarzan scream, and hitting “channel down” will.. change the channel).

Kelly goes to run the ropes again, but a tag from Nikki Bella sends her flying like Nikki did it with a pair of brass knuckles. She comes in and gets in a bit of offense on Jillian before getting her hair pulled by Rosa on the apron. This distracts her and allows Jillian to scoop her up in a fireman’s carry and hit her with a Samoan drop. She goes for the pin and gets 2. Jillian tags in Rosa and she hits a suplex on Nikki, getting 2-count for it. Rosa goes for a scoop slam, but Nikki reserves it into a roll-up, but Jillian breaks it up. This prompts Gail to come flying in, as if she really wanted the Bellas to win. Go figure..

This breaks the match open and allows Brie to switch places with Nikki. She plays opossum, grabbing Rosa when she returns and pulls her into a small package pin, getting the win for her team. Jillian protests to Santino and the rest stand around, picking their bathing suit wedgies while Santino goes to blow the whistle on Jillian. Jillian shoves the whistle down his throat, causing him to choke. Oh dear, it looks like we really do need a lifeguard. Actually, wait, we actually need a paramedic, but that wouldn’t fit with our theme, so bring out the lifeguard.

That lifeguard, of course, is Hornswoggle, dressed identically to his comedic relief kin. He runs (in slow mo) to the ring and hit a frog splash to force the whistle out. Everyone stands around and giggles and we’re done. Boy, it’s a shame that this guest GM thing is going to end some time this decade, because stuff like this is so worth the time devoted to the unconventional wrestling attire, Santino cameos, and midget jokes. I’ll miss it. I just think that if they cut this segment out of the show (and it wouldn’t be worse for the wear having done so), the Divas Championship match could have gotten a bit more time. Of course, that’s probably not true. They likely would’ve allocated that time to something more worthwhile, like a slow-mo Batista entrance. All the better to admire his bellybutton tattoo!

So, to recap, we had something that happened way too quick (Eve winning the Divas Championship without any buildup in a match that was as short as ever) and something the happened far too slow (slow-mo entrances and drawn-out Santino/Hornswoggle comedy sketches). I think a little time management counseling is due for the WWE writers, don’t you?

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