Day 165: The Best Moments Aren’t Always Backed By A Good Show [Wrasslin’ For Lunch]
January 4th, 1999 was a date that even the most casual of wrestling fans remember. The episode of Raw Is War was pre-recorded a week prior. Over at WCW, they cared less about whether or not their talent was home for the holidays and they did Nitro live. Trying to get the upper hand, as they always did, they offered Raw spoilers at the top of the show. What they didn’t realize was that the spoilers boosted Raw’s ratings through the roof, as everybody wanted to see Mankind beat The Rock for the title. It was the nail in the WCW coffin. They never recovered from that gaffe. And that episode of Raw has been remembered fondly by everyone as one of the best and most important ever. Just the image of Mick Foley with an expression of childish glee as DX carried him on their shoulders still makes me feel funny inside. It was a master class on what televised wrestling should be like. It was a moment for the ages. It was the death blow in a war. It was…it was…
It was a really mediocre episode of Raw.
It started out with Steve Blackman and Ken Shamrock fighting for the 5 millionth time. Then Goldust and Mark Henry ended in a DQ. Godfather and Test was a No Contest. Edge and D-Lo was also a No Contest. Kane fought Patterson and Brisco for some reason. And the Road Dogg beat Al Snow for the hardcore title in the snow, in what was literally the only “good” undercard “match”. The main event, the only saving grace, was a bollocks fest from the start. It wasn’t even an actual match. The corporation interfered, so DX came to even the odds. The only reason why Foley won was because Stone Cold came out and clocked Rock with a chair. It wasn’t anything special and had Russo written all over it. But man did that whole thing kick ass. In summation, whoever wants to relive that wonderful moment at the end is going to be very bored for an hour and a half.
The same can be said about last night, which will certainly go down as one of those “special episodes”. Years from now, the people that want to go back and see the 3rd African American wrestler win the WWE title is going to have to sift through 3 hours of bullshit. There were many emotions felt last night and at my worst, I wanted to throw the TV out the window. It’s not the kind of reaction that the WWE wants to get out of their fans, but it’s one that they needed to get out of us in order to maintain high ratings all the way to the end. It’s a cheap ploy but it’s one that we’re all too used to.
We were teased all week that there would be a title match between The Miz and Bobby Lashley. After a surprisingly PPV-quality opener between Drew McIntyre and Sheamus, we were told that the title match would be next. We were even given a countdown clock. The whole thing reeked of bullshit that we could smell from a mile away. The Miz bowed out of that match due to stomach cramps, Lashley went backstage to attack him and for some reason Morrison kept shouting for someone to get a towel, despite the fact that a towel would remedy nothing and he was already standing next to a stack of towels. So the match was reset to 10:00 and the countdown clock reset with it.
At 10:00, as we all expected, more bullshit ensued. This time, Miz came out, let the bell ring and ran away with the belt. He lost via countout but kept the title in the most Mueller fashion possible. So the countdown clock restarted again. They swore, before 11:00, there would be an actual title match. It ended up being a lumberjack affair that ended in a squash, as we all expected to happen from the get-go. They could’ve just booked it as the main event, but with the show being as toxic as it is, they knew that people wouldn’t tune in until 10:45. They had a full 3 hours to kill, so they strung us along and infuriated us. That way the moment would taste “much sweeter”. And I’ll agree, it was a great moment and everybody should be happy for Bobby Lashley.
But how are we supposed to actually feel about Bobby Lashley?
He is a heel, through and through. He hasn’t been booked as anything any more than a heel for years. But The Miz is a…bigger heel? A more annoying heel? A heelier heel? I guess only time will tell. At this point, they can do whatever they want with his character, but it won’t affect how the fans feel about him. They’ve spent the last year building him to be an unstoppable monster and now that he’s at the top, we can’t help but be happy for him. If/when Drew McIntyre goes after him, it’ll be a true test to see just how over he is. Personally, I don’t care how heel Lashley is, I’m probably going to root for him. His stardom came out of nowhere and his ceiling has no limits.
The Road To Wresltemania took another sharp turn. It’s very likely that Bobby will keep the title until then. They could send Drew after him and hope that he’s over enough to have a clear-cut good vs evil main event. Or they could do something completely different. No matter what, I have a feeling that Bobby is going to be the heel that fans mark out to. The deserving heel. The heel Raw needed. And I’m all for it.
Regardless of the outcome, the other 3 hours of Raw was unforgivingly awful. And once again, one of the most important moments in Raw’s history was clouded by a poorly booked show.
Side note: last night was the 8th time that a WWE on-air wedding resulted in the groom becoming champion within 2 years. [Randy Savage, Undertaker [the black wedding with Steph counts], Triple H [twice], Edge [twice], Daniel Bryan and now, Bobby Lashley] Really strange company to be in…