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THE SPECIALISTS
UNDER THE MICROSCOPE - 3/9 WWE Raw: Undertaker owns Evolution, Koko B. Ware's resume, JBL title history, Edge & Show vs. Hogan & Warrior

Mar 11, 2009 - 11:36:35 AM
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By Lee Stevens, PWTorch specialist

Thank you for joining me as we put Raw "Under The Microscope." This is not a complete recap of Monday's show. This is simply a closer look at what was said, what was seen or anything else that happened to come to mind during the two plus hours of Raw. So, lock your doors, check for video cameras, and let's go "Under The Microscope."

Taker Mania

Another solid segment from Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, only this time it featured an Undertaker video to counter Michaels's montage from Friday night. WWE showcased The Dead Man's 16-0 streak with clips from all of his matches. It was interesting to see Jimmy Snuka as victim #1 and also sporting facial hair. The Giant Gonzalez at #3 holds a special place on the list and not just because of his outfit. He is the only opponent that The Undertaker defeated as a result of a disqualification. I was pleased with their accuracy on #11 as it would have been easy just to show Big Show, but they correctly included A-Train too since it was actually a Handicap match.

Taking a closer look at the winning streak, the title was on the line three times, specifically with Psycho Sid, Batista, and Edge. He has won in a Casket match, a Hell in a Cell match, and the previously mentioned Handicap match. He has defeated all four former members of Evolution - Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista. This will be the ninth year in a row to wrestle at WrestleMania - his longest consecutive streak.

Mr. Michaels, your rebuttal

The quote of the night goes to Shawn Michaels as he said what many fans had been thinking during the past few weeks of JBL and Vladimir Kozlov. "I shouldn't have to qualify to compete against anybody at WrestleMania." Granted, it built some suspense as we watched to see if the correct match would eventually happen, but his resume is likely strong enough that he shouldn't have to audition. He was the first Grand Slam Champion, he's had 12 different title reigns in the WWF/WWE, and he's a two-time Royal Rumble winner. Plus, he mentioned one other pertinent claim in that he has "never lost to The Undertaker." Michaels won the first Hell in a Cell match against The Undertaker in 1997 plus a Casket match at the 1998 Royal Rumble.

J-B-What the L?

Give yourself a pat on the back and extra bonus points if you recognized the piece of history from Monday night. With JBL's Intercontinental Title win against C.M. Punk, he became the 20th Triple Crown Winner in the WWE and the 8th Grand Slam Champion. The Triple Crown is generally considered the WWE Title or World Heavyweight Title, the Tag Team Championship, and the Intercontinental Belt. If you add in the European Championship for JBL, there's your Grand Slam. The European Belt was discontinued in 2002 and I although I have yet to hear the WWE state that the ECW Championship or U.S. Championship fits the Grand Slam, it certainly seems like they should meet the requirement.

Ladies Night

The WWE always seems to find a way to give as many wrestlers as possible a chance at a WrestleMania payday with a battle royal. Last year, it was an interpromotional version of the over-the-top rope match and in years past, we have seen Gimmick Battle Royals, Hardcore Battle Royals, and even a Tag Team Battle Royal. This year, it will be a 25 Diva Battle Royale at WM 25. At first, I thought the Bella Twins would simply have to keep coming back in the ring to reach 25, but just looking at the current roster, we are very close to the number.

In no particular order:

1. Melina
2. Beth Phoenix
3. Candice
4. Jillian Hall
5. Kelly Kelly
6. Layla
7. Mickie James
8. Rosa Mendes
9. Katie Lea Burchill
10. Maryse
11. Brie Bella
12. Nikki Bella
13. Eve
14. Maria
15. Michelle McCool
16. Natalya
17. Alicia Fox

That leaves eight spots for the Ghosts of Divas Past. I have heard rumblings about Jackie Gayda Haas, although I wouldn't be surprised to see her husband Charlie come to the ring dressed up like her instead. Sunny is rumored to be appearing, which would take us to 19. Trish Stratus made a very popular one-time return to Raw recently and would be a welcome addition and it wouldn't take much effort to think of names like Molly Holly, Lita or even the recently retired Victoria.

My personal pick for Miss WrestleMania would be Gail Kim if they decide to debut her on the "grandest stage of them all." Let's hope they put an age limit on the entrants so we're not treated to another Mae Young sighting. Just because WrestleMania is in April, that doesn't mean we need to get any closer to Mae.

Hello, old "friend"

Our flashback to WrestleMania XI showcased a brief moment in musical history as The Bolsheviks practiced with comedian and musician, Steve Allen. One of Allen's first jobs was announcing wrestling matches from Los Angeles and he not only appeared at WM XI, he also was the narrator for "The Unreal Story of Pro Wrestling," a 1999 film documenting the scripted and not-so-scripted aspects of the business. Later in his life, he became an outspoken critic of wrestling on TV complaining about the vulgarity and crude nature of some of the segments.

He was part of the Parents Television Council (PTC), which encouraged sponsors to take their commercials off of Smackdown. Many of his complaints came up during the D-Generation X period, which also included a more active Val Venis and less-clothed Divas. If you recognize the initials PTC, it's because they inspired Vince McMahon to form his own version called RTC, or Right To Censor, which featured Steven Richards, The Godfather, who was renamed Goodfather, Ivory, Bull Buchanan, and even a subdued, respectable Val Venis. They all wore very conservative ring attire and complained about the lewd ways of the wrestling world. They would eventually all go their separate ways, with Bull Buchanan changing his name to B-Squared and briefly aligning himself with then-rapper John Cena.

Love is in the air

There was plenty of love to go around on Monday as Edge was introduced by his wife Vickie just before John Cena proclaimed his affection for the General Manager. Then the mood changed again as we saw video of Vickie planting a big one on The Big Show. The one relationship which wasn't as obvious was Edge and The Big Show.

Changing from lip locks to wrist locks, Edge brought us the mutual admiration society as he proclaimed himself better than Hulk Hogan and also built up The Big Show as being better than The Ultimate Warrior, comparing each other to the two in the main event at WM VI.

It's never easy comparing wrestlers from different time periods, so take this closer look with a grain of salt, or the whole salt shaker, if you prefer.

Hulk Hogan -- 12-time World Champion (6 WWF/WWE and 6 WCW). Hogan also won a Tag Team Title in the WWE, ironically, his partner was Edge

Edge -- 8-time World Champion, 5-time Intercontinental Champion, and 12-time Tag Team Champion

Edge is more versatile in the ring, while Hogan wore a helmet with a giant fist on it. The Hulkster has more World Titles, but Edge has more belts overall. Hogan had Hulkamania which sparked a popularity explosion with the WWF. Edge thinks that you know him. I'll let you decide on who is better.

Ultimate Warrior -- Heavyweight Champion and a 2-time Intercontinental Champion

The Big Show -- 2-time WCW Champion, 2-time WWE Champion, ECW Champion, and 6 different Tag Team Title reigns

The Big Show has more belts, but The Warrior has the power of all of the other warriors. I'm not sure if it includes The Road Warriors and The Modern Day Warrior Kerry Von Erich, but it sure seems like it would and how do you compete with that? Then again, The Big Show once fell off of a building in a monster truck and lived to tell about it. Advantage: The monster truck.

Lucy, I'm home!

Near the end of the Vickie, Edge, Big Show, Cena "love rectangle," Cena insisted "Vickie, you got some 'splaining to do." Fans of older TV shows recognize this is as a version of the classic line from "I Love Lucy." In the middle of one of Lucy's crazy schemes, her frustrated husband Ricky would insist that she has some explaining to do, but with his thick Cuban accent, it usually sounded similar to Cena's delivery. Then, Ricky would throw his hat into the crowd and insist that Fred Mertz "couldn't see him." Some things never change.

Whooooo

Although I don't like the idea of Ric Flair returning from retirement so quickly, I really like the idea of Flair on Raw Monday Night. We've seen Jericho put the legends in their places during the last few weeks, but the one thing we haven't seen is anyone come back at him. He berated Flair and physical attacked Piper, Steamboat and Snuka, yet nobody came back for revenge. Granted, this wasn't a physical confrontation, but costing him a spot in the Money In The Bank match apparently was good enough.

I usually don't like someone's music playing before they come out to confront someone, but in this instance it made perfect sense. Jericho wouldn't necessarily have seen Flair on the stage if he just walked out, but the moment Jericho heard the familiar theme music, he was properly distracted.

Koko B. In The Hall

I won't be piling on the selection of Koko B. Ware for the WWE Hall of Fame. Obviously, he isn't on the top of most lists of greatest wrestlers in the history of the business, but the WWE has proven before that you don't need to be a 15-time champion to earn a spot.

Wrestler #1 -- Canadian International Heavyweight Champion and WWC World Tag Team Champion

Wrestler #2 -- Georgia Wrestling Alliance Heavyweight Champion and NWA World Tag Team Champion

Wrestler #3 -- NWA U.S. Tag Team Champion, AWA Southern Tag Team Champion (7 times), NWA Mid-America Heavyweight Champion (6 times), NWA Mid-America Television Champion, IWCCW Heavyweight Champion, NWA Texas Tag Team Champion, USWA Unified World Heavyweight Champion (2 times), USWA World Tag Team Champion

I recognize that there are other considerations in determining a Hall of Fame member, but just looking at this part of the resume, who earns your vote? If you picked Wrestler #1, you have voted in Johnny Rodz, who entered the Hall in 1996. Wrestler #2 is a member of the Class of '95, George "The Animal" Steele. Wrestler #3 is Koko B. Ware. I recognize that he isn't on the same level as Bret Hart, Ric Flair or other inductees, but every major Hall of Fame seems to have unofficial levels and this one is making room for a bird.

With The Undertaker being the centerpiece of one of the big story lines right now, it's interesting to note that Ware was on the losing end of The Undertaker's WWF debut.

Finally

Today is not the day to be a door-to-door salesman in the Orton neighborhood. Seriously. Just keep walking.

Lee Stevens goes "Under The Microscope" for Raw and Smackdown. You can leave comments for him below or e-mail him at GLStevens.Torch@gmail.com


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