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May 11, 2009
– Adam Russell

The Yo-Yo Effect

“Without doubt the most dominant superstar in WWE today.� Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler there, describing WWE Champion,
Randy Orton. On the face of it, that doesn’t sound like too much of a stretch. Orton won the Royal Rumble. Orton put out Vince, Shane
and Stephanie McMahon. And Orton beat Triple H for the WWE title. However, when you think about the way Orton achieved these things,
and the overall way he has been presented in the last few months, Lawler’s claim sounds slightly more suspect.

This, of course, wouldn’t be the first time a WWE announcer has exaggerated, or stretched the truth. In fact, you can find several such
examples on every single WWE show. But what stands out to me about this statement from Lawler is that it should be true, or at least
closer to the truth than it actually is. And this is a major problem with present day WWE; a heel like Orton, who could get heat in the
Antarctic, has become a victim of what I call yo-yo booking; one week he’s portrayed as the most devious and destructive star in the
company, and the next he’s being beaten down by the owner’s out of shape son.

Orton was back as the star attraction on Raw this week, the last show before his WWE title defense against Batista at Judgment Day.
Most dominant superstar in WWE today? Then book him like it.

To begin the show, this week coming from Columbus, Ohio, Orton, along with Legacy teammates, Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase, made
their way out to the ring to address the crowd. Orton said that the McMahons pride themselves on listening to the audience (really? It
genuinely seems like the opposite is true most of the time), but they should act more like them. The fans, Orton continued, face adversity
all of the time, but they don’t fight it, because they are cowards. They pay to watch people like him do things like end the McMahon
era, as he claimed he did next week. A video was shown of Legacy beating down Shane McMahon on last week’s show to illustrate
Orton’s point. Orton then told us that Vickie Guerrero had announced a no physical contact ruling between him and Batista, which
was predictable, but smart. I wonder if this will be the same as the no physical contact stipulation between Orton and Triple H leading
into WrestleMania? Orton then said that just because they can’t fight, it doesn’t mean that they can’t talk, and he invited
Batista out for a chat. Batista’s music hit almost before Orton had finished talking, and the Animal made his way out. Orton told
Batista that he will never be WWE champion, and that is something that he knows deep inside. He said that he was offering him an
opportunity that he has only previously extended to second or third generation superstars, and invited him to be a part of Legacy. At that
point Ted DiBiase took the mic and explained to Batista that getting kicked in the head was the best thing that ever happened to him,
because it allowed him to smarten up and be a part of the elite group in the WWE. Randy said that when Batista and he were teammates
in Evolution, they were unstoppable, and it was only Triple H who held them back. Together in Legacy, he continued, they would be
bigger than the Four Horsemen, D-X and Evolution and, although Batista would never be champion, he would at least be a part of the
winning team- the Arn Anderson to his Ric Flair. Batista responded that everything Orton said made sense, the one problem being that
he despises him, and would never be his back-up. He told Orton that he’s lucky about the no contact ruling, because otherwise heâ
€™d drop him right there. Why he said this, I’m not sure, because he followed up by saying that, since Vickie won’t cancel the
championship at Judgment Day, there’s nothing to stop him from destroying Orton. At that point, Vickie made her way out with Chavo
Guerrero and, after requesting to be excused, she announced that she would be waiving the no physical contact rule. Hey, the
Hunter/Orton one at least lasted more than the length of a show. She went on that she doesn’t care if the two of them tear each other
apart; the championship match will go ahead regardless, and then finished the segment by booking a match between Batista and the
team of Rhodes and DiBiase, with the stipulation that if Priceless won, it would be Batista Vs Legacy in a three-on-one handicap match
in the main event, a la Shane last week, but if Batista won, he would get Orton one-on-one in the main. That match, she announced,
would be next.

We’re all used to long promo segments like this opening up the show, and setting up matches for later in the night. A lot of the time
they feel forced, and unnecessary. This one though, took the cake. What was the point of talking about a no touch ruling if it was just
going to be disregarded five minutes later? Nothing was said here of any importance, and the only thing worth noting is the white heat
that accompanied Vickie’s every word. She’s top of the world.

--- Batista Vs Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase

We returned from a commercial break to find the match in progress, with Batista delivering shoulders into the gut of DiBiase in the
corner. The assault continued with a hard whip into the turnbuckle, before Ted caused some separation with a jaw japper. Cody tagged
in, only to receive a suplex from the Animal. Batista went for a powerslam but Cody floated out the back and, with Ted causing a
distraction, took out Big Dave’s leg. DiBiase tagged back in and went to work on the leg with elbows and kicks, before locking in a
leg grapevine. Cody re-entered and the two youngsters delivered a wishbone, before Ted was made legal again, and slammed the
injured appendage into the ring apron. DiBiase then went for a figure-four leglock, but Batista kicked him off, and into his own partner.
This made Cody the legal man once again, and he went straight back to Batista’s leg, wrapping it around the ring ropes. Batista
started a comeback with a clothesline to Cody, and then a back body drop, followed by a big boot each for both of his opponents. Cody
was sent out of the ring, but he returned armed with a steel chair, which Batista took possession off, swinging at Rhodes, but not
connecting, in full view of the referee, which was deemed grounds for disqualification. The match came to an abrupt end at 4’10, with
Legacy slinking away in jubilation, and Batista seeming at first furious, but then accepting of his fate.

We next got a replay of Mickie James pinning Divas Champion, Maryse on last week’s show, before divas tag team action.

--- Maryse and Jillian Hall Vs Mickie James and Kelly Kelly

Maryse had a microphone and, after saying some words in her native French, told us that if she weren’t Maryse, she’d want to
be. The match got underway with Kelly and Jillian in the ring, Hall gaining the advantage with a wristlock, Kelly countering with a backflip
into an armdrag. Kelly then avoided Jillian’s charge with another backflip, before nailing her with a poor kick. This sequence
illustrated Kelly’s main problem- she can perform a flip nicely, but falls over just delivering a simple kick. Kelly followed up with a
headscissors takedown, again poorly executed to the point that it looked dangerous, before Maryse caused a distraction, allowing Jillian
to nail her with a clothesline. Maryse tagged in and put Kelly in the camel clutch, pulling her down by the hair when she threatened to fight
out of the move. Maryse then caught Mickie with a cheap shot on the apron, but was hit by an enziguri from Kelly, and Mickie was tagged
in. Mickie connected with a clothesline, a hurricanrana out of the corner, and a Thesz press from the top rope, the latter causing Jillian to
break up a pin attempt. Kelly took Jillian out of the ring, and hit a flying clothesline from the apron, while Maryse tried to DDT Mickie.
James blocked the move by holding onto the top rope and delivered a DDT of her own to pin the champion for the second straight week,
bringing to an end a sloppy match at 3’40.

Josh Matthews was then seen in the back, ready to interview Randy Orton. I often mention in these reports how nice it is when new
people get time on the microphone. Here is a good example why- Orton started the show with a ten minute promo, and now, twenty
minutes later, we get to hear from him again. He was, of course, asked for his thoughts on the three-on-one handicap match to come,
but was interrupted by DiBiase, who told him that Rhodes had ‘gone’, that he couldn’t find him (try looking in the last place you
saw him). Orton and DiBiase then went off in search of him. Josh didn’t lift a finger.

Michael Cole took the opportunity to tell us that everyone is talking about Judgment Day, and The Big Show Vs John Cena. I wouldn’t
say ‘everybody’. We got a highlight video showing the build-up to this match.

In Vickie’s office, Chavo told Vickie that she handled herself well earlier. He then said that, despite knowing that Cena isn’t
cleared to compete, he and Show have decided that he should be forced to compete (I guess Cole was right; everyone is talking about
Show Vs Cena). He offered the idea of an exhibition match, in which Cena would wrestle up to the point that Vickie was satisfied that he
could compete at Judgment Day, and wasn’t just milking the injury. Kinda sounds like the way they used to try witches in the 1600â
€™s. Vickie said she liked the idea, and that Cena’s exhibition match would be against The Miz.

Back in the arena, and Cole, standing in the ring with Lawler, garnered from that segment that ‘the whole world is talking about
Judgment Day’. They’re really trying to make this pay-per-view out to be more than it is. Anyway, Cole and King ran down the
card, and announced that a match between Rey Mysterio and Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship had been added.

We then cut to Orton and DiBiase searching for Cody Rhodes. Orton suggested they split up (has this guy never seen a horror movie),
and Orton found Rhodes standing about ten feet away chatting up some random girl. Orton told Rhodes that they have to watch each
other’s backs, at which point some commotion was heard off-camera, and Orton and Rhodes discovered that DiBiase had been
jumped. This was typical WWE silliness. We are led to believe that Batista jumped DiBiase and left him laying in the space of about ten
seconds, disappearing without a trace and leaving no witnesses. It wouldn’t have surprised me to see some Predator-esque point-
of-view shots of Batista stalking his prey.

After a video hyping Mr. Kennedy’s return, it was finally time for another match.

--- Carlito Vs The Brian Kendrick

This was a rematch from last week, in which Carlito won in short order, and began with the tag team champion coming at his opponent
with a punch and a dropkick, before being caught with a knee. Kendrick then hit a running forearm in the corner, but was met coming off
the second rope with a kick. Carlito then delivered a kneelift, a clothesline, and a high legdrop for a two count. Carlito next went for a
springboard reverse elbow, but Kendrick pulled him off the ropes by his hair, and went for The Kendrick. Carlito pushed Kendrick into the
corner, but Kendrick hit straight back by sending Carlito shoulder-first into the same turnbuckle, rolling him up for his first Raw victory at
1’43. After the match, Kendrick took the mic, saying that that was step one, and step two is finding a partner and becoming one half
of the tag team champions. Depending largely on who Kendrick gets as his partner, a series against the Colons could be very
entertaining. Sub-two minute singles matches certainly aren’t going to get the guy over so, with memories of his tag team run with
Paul London, maybe this will.

The Big Show made his way out next, to get a closer look at the Cena/Miz exhibition match. The Miz came out for the match with mic in
hand, and said that what the Big Show did to Cena is nothing compared to what he will do to him tonight. After taking another shot at
Cena’s acting career, and broadening his material by saying that his rap album sucked too, the Miz told Cena that tonight it will be 3-
0.

--- John Cena Vs The Miz

Cena began with a wristlock takedown, and then a headlock takedown, all the time keeping his eyes on Show. Miz countered with a
punch to the gut, which Cena sold like a sniper shot, and then a back suplex, and a couple of vertical suplexes. The Miz followed up by
hitting his patented running clothesline in the corner, but then missed the same move in the opposite corner. Cena came back with a
couple of flying shoulderblocks, a back suplex slam, and the five knuckle shuffle, before Vickie appeared on the big screen to say that
she had seen enough, bringing the ‘match’ to an end at 2’48. She said that it’s obvious that Cena stands no chance
against Show and, with Cena distracted, Miz came up behind him with a kick and a DDT, as the Big Show smiled.

What the point of any of that was, I’m not sure. It seems that the only thing gained from it is getting The Miz a bit more heat, although
that was kind of negated by the fact that a supposedly injured Cena was on the way to a simple victory over him. It would have made
more sense to have Miz jump Cena from behind and beat him down for a couple of minutes, cutting off a couple of comeback attempts,
prompting Vickie to end the match. Miz still gets the heat, and the adversity is piled on for Cena.

Backstage, Orton told Rhodes that it’s time for him to prove himself, and set him off to find Batista and take the Animal out. Most
dominant superstar? How about dumbest?

Back to Chavo and Vickie now, talking about the exhibition match. They were interrupted by Santina, and apparently Vickie wanted to see
her. Vickie asked if it was true that she called her ‘swine-like’ on last week’s show. Erm… why didn’t she just watch the
video to find out? Santina said that she wasn’t even at Raw last week, and that it was her brother, Santino. Chavo told her to give it
up, and tried to take off her wig, getting a slap for his troubles. Vickie said that she has a way to prove that Santino and Santina are one
and the same, and calls for Beth and Rosa, who apparently were standing in the corner of the room waiting to be summoned. Vickie told
Rosa to give Santina a good luck kiss for her match with Beth and, when Rosa pecked her on the cheek, Santina, obviously unable to
resist ‘herself’, grabbed her and kissed her on the mouth. Chavo said that that proves it’s really Santino, and told her to admit
it. Santina told him she would admit it… That she’s a lesbian. At this revelation, Michael Cole burst into laughter, and you’d
swear that he was going to wet himself. The audience also applauded this punch-line. Santina continued that she prefers the company
of women, but not of pigs, and made pig noises in Vickie’s face.

This whole skit played out like a very, very, very bad Carry On… film. How about ‘Carry On Insulting Your Viewers’?, although, to
be fair, the fans in attendance at least seemed to lap it up. For me, this whole Santina thing is incredibly stupid. First of all, on what level
are we supposed to believe that it can’t be proved that Santina and Santino are the same person? Do they not both need work
permits to be working in the US? Passports? Even if we throw all logic out of the window, and I can go along with that, it just isn’t that
funny anymore. It’s lowest common denominator humor. And don’t get me wrong, so was Santino, with the silly accent and
pompous actions. But Santino worked because most of the time we were laughing at him, whereas we’re expected to laugh with
Santina.

We cut from this, back to the Orton saga, with Cody Rhodes, large pole in hand (watch it!) looking for the Animal. A noise from behind a
door turned out to be Hornswoggle, who ran away, but the distraction gave Batista a chance to sneak up from behind and throw Cody into
a wall of lockers, and then into a room. Batista followed him in and closed the door behind them.

A ‘Don’t try this at home’ video was next (not seen one of those in ages) before it was divas time.

--- Beth Phoenix Vs Santina Marella

Beth took the fight straight to her opponent, the recipient of a ‘Santina’ chant, with a forearm, some shoulderblocks in the corner,
and then a clothesline over the top rope. She followed Santina out, and whipped her into the apron, and then in a great feat of strength,
Gorilla slammed her through the ropes back into the ring. Beth locked on an abdominal stretch, which Santina escaped with a hiptoss,
but then Beth applied a full nelson. Santina powered out of the hold, but Beth took out her legs and mounted her with punches. She
repeated the move again, but a third time Santina small packaged her to pick up the win at 2’38. Santina then celebrated the win with
a dance. Poor Beth.

In the back (seems like there’s more going on back there than in the ring tonight) Josh asked Cena how he will be able to compete
at Judgment Day. Cena said that he’s been going through some hard times the last few weeks (you don’t know what hard times
are, daddy), but asked how that makes him different from anyone else (really? Well, I’m guessing your house isn’t in danger of
being foreclosed on, for one). Cena said that people always find a way to adapt and overcome, and that’s what he does best, adding
that he isn’t going to Judgment Day to compete, he’s going to win.

Next it was time for the VIP Lounge, the first one on Raw. MVP started by talking about how Regal involved himself in his business last
week by costing him his match against Cody Rhodes. He called Regal out, and the Englishman obliged, saying that it’s revolting that
MVP acts like he owns Raw. He said that a year ago he was the General Manager and the King of the Ring, and that was a reward for
waiting so long. He continued that after he was unjustly removed from his post, he returned, paid his dues, and waited again. Meanwhile,
the new draft picks came in and tried to leap above him in the pecking order. MVP told him that the real issue is that Regal is miserable
and, whereas he is ballin’, Regal is boring. Regal told him that he perfectly represents the United States; he’s arrogant,
misguided, and hated by the rest of the world. This, strangely, brought out Matt Hardy, who said that since everyone is airing grievances,
he’ll air his. He talked about being forced to compete with a broken hand, and said that it would be only fair if his loss to Kofi
Kingston last week were to be stricken from the record. He then said that when he heels, he’ll be going after the United States title.
From out of nowhere, Kofi attacked Matt Hardy and, as the two brawled, Chavo Guerrero came out to say that Vickie has ordered a tag
team match pitting Regal and Hardy against MVP and Kingston.

--- Matt Hardy and William Regal Vs MVP and Kofi Kingston

For the second time tonight, we came back from the commercial break with a match already in progress. This is actually preferable to
having the commercial break in the middle of the match. We joined the action with MVP in control of Regal, delivering his overhead
suplex, before tagging Kofi in. Kingston hit a high cross body block for a two count and then dropkicked Hardy. Turning his attention back
to Regal, he delivered a side Russian legsweep, followed by the B cubed legdrop for another nearfall before Hardy and MVP both
entered the ring. Kingston mounted Regal in the corner for some punches, but Hardy hit him in the back with his cast, giving Regal a two
count. Hardy came back, legally this time, and gave Kofi a couple of powerslams for a two count, and then locked on an abdominal
stretch. Kofi fought out of the move, but Hardy pulled the hair to keep him under control. Regal tagged back in and executed an exploder
suplex on Kofi before locking in an abdominal stretch of his own, this time in a grounded position. Kofi again fought out of the
predicament, first trying a sunset flip, which Regal rolled through, and then flooring his opponent with a headscissors takedown to finally
allow him to make the tag. MVP came in a house on fire, taking Regal down with a facebuster, and then delivering the Ballin’ Elbow.
Hardy broke the resultant pinning attempt, which brought Kofi back in. Kofi kicked Hardy’s hand, and Matt consequently decided to
exit the match. Regal threw Kofi out of the ring, but was taken down by MVP. MVP then hit a big boot in the corner on Regal, and followed
up with the Playmaker for the win at 6’25.

This was the best match of the night, which really isn’t saying much, but it seems stupid that MVP would pick up the win over Regal
just a week after hinting at a feud between the two. This is oh-so-typical of WWE booking though, basically taking all the heat out of an
issue before it’s even begun.

Next, Orton came out for his match, which was supposed to be a three-on-one handicap match, with Batista. Orton first got on the mic,
saying that Batista had made his point, and there’s no reason why they should fight six days before Judgment Day. Batista, of
course, didn’t want to hear it.

--- Randy Orton Vs Batista

Orton got the jump on his opponent with a kick, and went for a quick RKO, which Batista blocked. Batista hit a clothesline, which sent
Orton out of the ring, and trying to escape through the crowd. Batista grabbed him and sent him back into the ring, where he delivered two
spine busters. Batista then grabbed a chair from ringside, and started to beat the hell out of the most dominant superstar in the WWE,
getting himself disqualified at the 58 second mark. Batista focused his attack on Orton’s ankle, the same way Orton had with Shane
McMahon last week, and went to get the steel steps to assist him in the assault. Cody Rhodes came charging out, eating a Batista Bomb
for his troubles, but DiBiase attacked the Animal from behind. Orton, making a miraculous recovery, went for the RKO again, but it was
again blocked, and Batista clotheslined DiBiase down. DiBiase recovered in time to save Orton from a Batista Bomb, but earned himself
a spear in the process as Orton slithered out of the ring. And that’s how the show ended.

I could complain about WWE giving us Orton Vs Batista for free six days before their Pay-per-view match, but as it only went 58 seconds,
I’ll cut them some slack. What I will go back to is my point at the beginning of this report about the way Orton is booked, the way
Regal is booked, the way Matt Hardy is booked, and CM Punk… I could go on. Here, in our main event Batista, for all intents and
purposes, destroyed the WWE Champion in under a minute, after spending the rest of the evening generally outsmarting him and
destroying his run-in buddies. I’m not advocating making Orton into a monster heel who never gets out-done; I’ve had plenty of
that with Triple H. But why not book him to be on the same level as a Batista, or a Cena, or even, gasp, better than them? Why not just go
in one direction and actually stick to it?

MVP of the night - This was a poor Raw, and nobody really excelled on it. From Batista stumbling over his lines in the opening promo, to
the myriad of atrocious backstage skits, the show was almost universally bad. With that in mind, I give the MVP of the night award to Beth
Phoenix. She was mired in garbage tonight, but her gorilla slam of Santina was the only moment that got me thinking ‘cool’ all
night.

Sign of the night - ‘Rhodes and DiBiase are Worthless’. That sign pretty much nailed the booking philosophy behind Orton’s
back-up.