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I have been very lucky to have attended two huge tapings in the past two weeks. I was at the Smackdown/NXT taping in London, England, two weeks ago (read below!), and now that I made it back to the U.S. safely (even though I slept in the Philadelphia airport Sunday night to do so), I was able to attend last night’s Monday Night Raw Draft Special. It might have been one of the best live shows I have ever seen. Like my London post, I want to share with you my experience and thoughts on last night’s show. I will have another post later analyzing the draft picks from the show and today’s Supplemental Draft. How about it?
Odd & Ends
The Richmond Coliseum isn’t what I would call a fantastic building. It it quite old and pretty small, but I think that makes for a better atmosphere sometimes. At the O2 Arena, it looked huge and the crowd was dead. But last night, I have never been a part of such a hot crowd. Before the show even started, the place was booming. Southern wrestling fans (I being one of them) are a different breed and being surrounded by them made the show 10x better. As always, there were tons of kids, but not as many as usual. A pretty adult-heavy crowd for the most part.
Also, two Superstars matches took place before the show. Gail Kim defeated Jillian Hall and Zack Ryder defeated Primo. Check in for my WWE Superstars report on Friday for more about these matches.
I will break down my thoughts on the show as they happened.
ShoMiz vs. The Hart Dynasty for the WWE Unified Tag Team Championship
The Big Show & The Miz are the first two out to start Raw and the crowd is on them quite heavily. One of the constants through the night was that if the fans in Richmond didn’t like someone, they booed so loud, I could hardly hear anything. While it sucked not to hear it all, I am happy with how enthusiastic everyone is. The Miz wants Hart to come down and declare ShoMiz the greatest tag team of all time, which he does, but not before also saying that the Mountie was the greatest Intercontinental Champion ever as well. It is amazing how great the Miz is. Did anyone see this happening four/five years ago? The crowd popped huge for Bret, who calls out the Dynasty for the title match.
This was a fantastic tag team match. D.H. Smith’s delayed vertical suplex on the Miz was impressive. Smith, like Miz, is getting better and better. Tyson Kidd was already a great talent, so I am glad Smith is catching up. The audience was very into this match and definitely got tense near the end, especially when Miz tried to use the ropes to win before Bret pushed his legs off. The ending definitely caught me by surprise. I thought that when Kidd went for the rolling senton, Show would knock him out of mid-air. When that didn’t happen and the Hart Attack did, I thought Show would get back in because it seemed like Kidd was stalling for time before putting on the Sharpshooter. But I was completely wrong. Miz taps out and we have new WWE Unified Tag Team Champions. The crowd was very excited and it was refreshing to see a new set of champions. After the match (and during the commercial break), Show knocks out Miz. Perhaps a feud is in the works? We would have to see if either man gets drafted later on tonight.
Jack Swagger/Edge backstage promo
Josh Mathews is with Swagger, who brags about his dominant victory over Randy Orton at Extreme Rules. Edge interrupts and proclaims himself next in line for the World Heavyweight Championship. I guess the feud with Chris Jericho is over. Edge/Swagger would be an interesting storyline to say the least. And I thought John Morrison would be next in line. He did beat Swagger clean last week. Oh well.
Michelle McCool & Layla El (with VIckie Guerrero) v. Maryse and WWE Diva’s Champion Eve Torres – Divas Draft Pick Match
This match is for the first draft pick of the night and it will be a Diva. There was a “We Want Mickie” chant throughout the match. Well I guess the crowd will be disappointed. To go back to my “crowd was so loud, I couldn’t hear” bit, LayCool’s promo before the match was the perfect example. I did not hear anything other than “EXCUSE ME!” Eve and Maryse shouldn’t be teaming, but at least they didn’t get along. LayCool wins with a big boot to Maryse and Smackdown gets the first pick.
SMACKDOWN RECEIVES KELLY KELLY.
Evan Bourne v. C.M. Punk (with Serena and Luke Gallows) – Draft Pick Match
A good match between two guys who haven’t faced each other (or haven’t in a long time). The crowd loved Bourne and were lukewarm towards Punk. It was obvious to me that Punk would win, but I just didn’t know how. Bourne got in a ton of offense, which surprised me. Punk wins when the masked avenger (P.S. TOTALLY Joey Mercury) enters through the crowd (right below me, I might add) and knocks Bourne off the top rope after Serena distracted the referee. Punk with the GTS and it’s over.
SMACKDOWN RECEIVES THE BIG SHOW.
Speaking of the Big Show, he is in the back with Theodore Long. Long is happy to have Show back and Show teases him before lightening up. Show is a better crowd pleaser so a face run works better for him.
Sheamus/Randy Orton/John Cena promo
Sheamus enters the ring and states that after his victory over Triple H, he should be the #1 contender. Orton enters to a big pop and disagrees, even talking about his own problems with Triple H, but facing him face-to-face. Orton did have his fair share of sneak attacks in his day, so this made me wonder how they are trying to stretch him into a face. This was the most face promo he has cut since his turn. Sheamus makes a good point by saying that Orton had his chance at Extreme Rules for the WHC and lost. Sheamus is getting more confident on the mic. Cena enters to a GARGANTUAN pop (this is the first time since 2005 I have heard almost no booing towards him) and cuts a pretty funny promo. The line about Sheamus looking like a “jar of mayo with a ketchup haircut” was fantastic. Since there is no guest host, Cena is able to determine his #1 contender. That’s odd. Why wouldn’t he pick Hornswoggle? Anyways, we get Sheamus/Orton tonight. Solid segment.
Smackdown (Rey Mysterio, IC Champion Drew McIntyre, Shad Gaspard, Kane, and R-Truth) v. Raw (Ted DiBiase, Santino Marella, Yoshi Tatsu, Mark Henry, and M.V.P.) – Battle Royal for Three Draft Picks
It was obvious that Raw would win here because that would have given Smackdown five draft picks already. It is much harder to keep up with a battle royal live than on television. The crowd was very into Rey and Santino. The spot where Mark Henry held up Kane, only for Rey to hit the 619 was awesome. The ending, with Rey and DiBiase getting near-fall after near-fall was entertaining, but I knew DiBiase would win, which he did. Entertaining match.
RAW RECEIVES JOHN MORRISON, R-TRUTH, AND EDGE
Chris Jericho v. Christian (with Heath Slater) – Draft Pick Match
Jericho comes out to whine some more, which is a great dimension to his character. He demands an apology from Slater for beating him last week. Slater can be very charismatic, but also very boring. This was the latter. Christian comes to the ring for what is a great match. These two work so well together and I kept having flashbacks to Wrestlemania 20. The crowd was split and Jericho won with a nasty Codebreaker on Christian as he came off the top rope. Jericho gives one to Slater for his troubles.
SMACKDOWN RECEIVES KOFI KINGSTON
Kingston heads out and gives Jericho Trouble In Paradise. Maybe a new feud since Edge moved to Raw?
Jack Swagger v. John Morrison – Draft Pick Match
An okay match, but not as good as last week’s match on Smackdown. Once again, this match was predictable. There was no way Swagger would lose again. The crowd started a “This Is Boring” chant halfway through and the annoying kids behind me kept shouting “The All-American American Jackass.” Swagger wins with the OKC Thunder Bomb and earns Smackdown a pick.
SMACKDOWN RECEIVES CHRISTIAN
Ted DiBiase/R-Truth Promo
Look! Carlito got on Raw just like he said he would! Anyways, DiBiase finds Truth in the back and welcomes him to Raw. As soon as DiBiase mentioned to Truth that he had an offer for him, I knew there would be a Virgil comment. And luckily for me, there was. Truth jokingly bought into it before slapping DiBiase in the face. I was actually intrigued by a DiBiase/Truth alliance. It would give Truth something to do and maybe give him a run with the Million Dollar Belt. Alas, we get a DiBiase/Truth feud instead. The “I worked hard” versus “I was given everything” kind.
Dolph Ziggler v. Hornswoggle – Draft Pick Match
This was a clusterfuck. Why the hell did Ziggler, who is being built up on Smackdown, lose to ‘Swoggle? That doesn’t help Ziggles at all. Hornswoggle wins by countout when he keeps throwing things at Ziggler. Ziggler gives him the sleeper after. Thank goodness.
RAW RECEIVES CHRIS JERICHO
Sheamus v. Randy Orton v. Batista -#1 Contender’s Match for the WWE Championship
Before Justin Roberts announces the match, Batista makes a surprise entrance and whines and complains. It was pretty funny, actually. Sheamus and Orton come out and they all bicker until Cena makes it a triple threat. Why would he do that? He already beat Batista twice. Oy.
This was a great main event. Each superstar got plenty of time to showcase their offensive sets. I won’t go into too much detail. Edge runs in near the end as Orton is preparing to give Batista the RKO and spears him. Batista rolls over and wins. Batista-Cena III. Boo.
After the show, Batista trashed-talked Orton, even calling him “Stupid RKO.” Orton gets up and gives him that. He poses and the show ends.
I think the matches were predictable, but the picks were not. It leaves many questions going into the future. Not knowing what will happen moving forward is exactly what the WWE wants and got itself last night. In the end, a great three-hour special.
Check in later for my analysis of the draft picks.