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Raw Redux (November 23rd, 2009) – A Turkey of a Return

Back in the 1920s, showbiz had a slang term for a failure or flop: they’d call it a turkey*. Fitting, given the failures we witnessed tonight on this Thanksgiving episode of Raw where a certain Diva went so far as to dress in a turkey costume for her big return. So, was it cleverly self-referential or just a bad idea? I think we know the answer to that, but just in case let’s watch the situation unfold and decide for ourselves:

Predictably, the Divas have dressed up for a “Mayflower Melee”, AKA Thanksgiving-themed 6-Diva tag match. The faces–Mickie James, Melina, and Kelly Kelly–are decked out in (*cough* super un-P.C. *cough*) Native American garb, while the heels–Michelle McCool, Layla, and Jillian–are Pilgrims. All look pretty ridiculous, even Kelly, who apparently decided to put on a tan dress and some Nikes and call it a day. But hey, at least she doesn’t look like she’s doing a Kindergarten Thanksgiving play like Michelle & co. I must say, I love how pissed they looked to be dressed in those Pilgrim costumes. At least they’re acknowledging how lame the idea is, unlike so many times in the past.

Before the match starts they are joined by the guest time keeper, the Gobbledy Gooker! …You know, the giant turkey that hatched on live television in what was known as one of the biggest “WTF” moments in WWE history? I guess since they had two Thanksgiving cliches represented, they decided to go for the trifecta. Gooker stands in the corner and awkwardly rings the bell, signaling the start of the match.

Melina and Jillian start out the match, probably praying that they can scrub off some of the bad mojo they’ve had with each other as of late. They start with a tie-up, Melina getting the upper hand by wrenching Jillian’s arm. Jillian gains control, slamming Melina to the mat. Melina reverses an irish-whip into the corner, sending Jillian into the turnbuckle and proceeding to send a shoulder into her stomach. She lays Jillian across the second ropes, prepping her a double-knee attack. Before she can do it, however, Jillian yanks her by her dress, pulling her to the mat. She tosses Melina by the hair and taunts the crowd a bit.

Jillian whips Melina into the ropes but Melina hangs on. Before she can do anything, though, Jillian meets her with an elbow to the face. She whips Melina into the turnbuckle, prepping for her handspring elbow attack. Before she can do any damage, Melina catches her with her legs, choking her and chopping her on the head. Once back on their feet Melina takes down Jillian with a (almost malfunctioned) facebuster. She goes for the pin, but Jillian kicks out.

Melina attempts to whip Jillian to the ropes and Jillian reverses and when Melina hits the ropes, Michelle grabs her by the hair, distracting her. Melina socks her in the face for it, and she swings at Layla too, who merely hops off the apron and goes to check on Michelle. When she turns back around, Jillian nearly takes her head off with a clothesline.

Apparently, Michelle and Layla have had enough of these shenanigans, taking off their bonnets and heading for the exit. Jillian protests, shrieking at her partners for abandoning her. When she turns back around, Melina sweeps her off her feet, bridging into a pin and getting the 3-count. Melina, Mickie, and Kelly celebrate as poor Charlie Brown Jillian rolls out of the ring and takes her leave.

Post-match Jerry Lawler, for some reason, decides to speak to Melina in the middle of the ring, also joined by the giant turkey. Oh, this can’t possibly end so obviously, can it? Why the impromptu victory speech? Eh, maybe he was going to ask Melina what she was thankful for. But, before she can finish speaking of the virtues of working with Kelly Kelly, the Gobbledy Gooker unmasks and attacks Melina (so yeah, it actually can end that obviously). This mystery turkey is, as many expected, Maryse, making her return to Raw after months on the mend. She beats Melina with the turkey head (hey, maybe it’s lined with lead) before posing, shrieking at the sight of herself, and plopping down on the mat to take off the costume. This takes about 5 minutes to do so, effectively sucking out what little enthusiasm the crowd had about the twist to begin with. It’s actually pretty awkward at this point. Maryse flips her hair a few dozen times, showing off her signature arrogance that is usually fine and dandy, but makes little sense after popping out of a giant turkey costume. I mean, you can’t possibly think you looked like the “sexiest of the sexy” doing that, do you?

The whole segment, in my opinion, went over like a lead balloon. For a 6-Diva tag team match, there wasn’t a single tag-out; Melina and Jillian worked the entire match. So, I guess it pretty much just served as an excuse to get the Divas into costumes and usher in Maryse’s return. But really, don’t you think there was a better way to bring back a Diva who’s been on the injured list for several months? Perhaps pulling the trigger on a return at the Pay-Per-View the night before? I don’t get it–even on paper, this idea seems ridiculous. And, as ridiculous as the idea sounds, it was even worse in execution. Maryse just didn’t sell the silliness of the situation, so the crowd didn’t know how to react: boo because she’s attacking the fan favorite, or laugh at a pretty blonde girl in a turkey costume? I know returns aren’t typically supposed to be treated as silly, but when you’ve thrown a turkey costume into the mix, there’s not much else you can do but try and get a comedic response out of it. The crowd barely reacted at all as Maryse preened and posed. These mixed signals certainly ruined her return; I mean, what kind of momentum could be built off a turkey attack?

I’m sure next week she’ll return to form, insulting Melina and calling herself sexy, yadda yadda yadda. It’ll be a Divas Championship feud, inevitably. Optimistically, it’ll be interesting to see Melina and Maryse work together, as they haven’t done so much at all. I’m excited to see what kind of dynamic there will be between them. Sadly, though, I’m sure the feud will be overshadowed by the absurd memory of the action that kick-started it all: the turkey attack™.

But, to lighten the mood a bit, I thought I’d include a little segment shown later on in the show. Gail Kim, Alicia Fox, and Eve Torres, and the Bella Twins had a bit of fun with Santino and some pies. It’s an old schtick, but I laughed at it. Santino plays the oblivious misogynist perfectly, telling the Divas that they had the “honor” to cook him Thanksgiving dinner. Their responses, of course, spoke for themselves:

I don’t know why, but I laughed so hard at the “I can recognize your voices” line. This proves that the WWE can still do silly bits, but they need to actually execute it correctly, not make it too inane, and not confuse the fans in the process. Is Maryse in a turkey suit funny or not? By her selling of the situation, you’d never know. Maybe she just needed a few whip cream-covered pies the throw at Melina; hell, if you’re going to make her return absurd, you might as well go whole hog with it

What do you say, readers? Where does Maryse’s return rank in your book: hilarious or just heinous? One of the best, or one of the worst? Where does it land on the Diva return spectrum (a 10 being Lita‘s gallant Trish-saving return, a 1 being Candice’s blink-and-you-missed-it return)? Try to wrap your mind around that barrage of questions and sing your song in the comments!

*Scroll down to Word Origins to see the full story.

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