Smackdown – January 8, 2004

Smackdown
Date: January 8, 2004
Location: Van Braun Civic Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Attendance: 3,100
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s the second show of the year and hopefully it’s an improvement on the first. We’ve got less than three weeks before the Royal Rumble and the card is finally starting to take some shape. The Royal Rumble itself should be a lot of fun by definition, though we still need some more people being announced for the match. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of last week’s show, focusing on the split of Los Guerreros and Kurt Angle saying it was due to a breakdown of family values.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Angle to open things up. Last week was supposed to be the start of a great year but he saw one of the greatest tag teams ever self destruct. Angle calls Chavo out to fix this right now so here he comes, now with his own music instead of the Los Guerreros theme. Angle thinks Chavo should want to do what’s right for his family but hang on because we need an EDDIE chant.

Chavo goes with the classic heel response of it was for Eddie’s own good and wants to slap Eddie for good measure. Maybe he’ll even slap Kurt too! Cue Eddie to chase Chavo off (I like that it took him a second to get there as it feels a bit more natural) but Kurt again plays peacekeeper. Things settle down a bit with Angle saying Chavo was the one person there when Eddie needed help the most (implying his drug issues). We get a very shaky handshake.

We look back at Hardcore Holly attacking Big Show with a chair last week.

Big Show can’t wait to get his hands on Holly in a street fight tonight.

Chris Benoit is here for a match but Paul Heyman, with a broken finger thanks to last week, makes it a mini Royal Rumble instead with Benoit vs. the FBI.

Mini Royal Rumble

Benoit is in at #1 and Johnny Stamboli is in at #2 with two minute intervals. Benoit wastes no time in elbowing Stamboli in the face but it’s too early to get him out. Stamboli can’t get Benoit out either though (well duh) and the Sharpshooter makes Stamboli tap as Chuck Palumbo is in at #3. As this goes on, Tazz rips Cole apart for saying various dumb things and says he has to be him. I could go for a heel Tazz.

Benoit fights off the double team and gets rid of Stamboli. There’s a Crossface to Palumbo and, as you might have guessed, he’s still tapping as Nunzio is in at #4. Reality sets in quickly for Nunzio as Benoit is waiting him but Palumbo is back up. Benoit dumps Nunzio anyway and the fans are WAY behind Benoit here. Well either that or the canned audio is. Palumbo misses the superkick and gets backdropped out to give Benoit the win.

Rating: D. This was just a workout for Benoit, which is entirely the point of having the FBI around. The good thing though is they’re pushing the heck out of Benoit, who has gone through a bunch of stuff in the last year and deserves to be in the main event. He and John Cena feel untouchable right now and it would be great to see him finally move up to the main event where he’s belonged for a long time now.

Heyman isn’t happy.

Tag Team Titles: Basham Brothers vs. Rikishi/Scotty 2 Hotty

The Bashams are defending….or at least that’s the plan as they jump Rikishi and Scotty from behind and beat them down. Scotty takes a belt shot to the head and there seems to be no match. Hang on a second though as here’s Kurt to say he’s just left Heyman’s office. We have a replacement team and the title match is on. So in the span of two minutes, Angle ran to Heyman’s office, knew that Rikishi and Scotty weren’t ready to go, and convinced Heyman to make the match? That’s Olympic speed.

Tag Team Titles: Los Guerreros vs. Basham Brothers

The Bashams are still defending. Danny shoulders Eddie down to start so Chavo comes in for a double back elbow. The announcers argue a lot more than usual as Chavo gets two off a small package. It’s already time for some cheating with Eddie choking in the corner and clapping his hands in place of a tag. As usual, the fans eat it up like fried yak knees. Ever the nice uncle, Eddie makes a blind tag and jumps behind Doug, who punches the heck out of Chavo until Eddie taps him on the shoulder for another right hand.

Danny pulls Doug out to the floor to avoid a Frog splash though and a low bridge sends Eddie outside in a big heap. Back from a break with Eddie still in trouble and we hit the half crab. A double slingshot suplex drops Eddie again and we actually get a CHAVO chant for a change. Shaniqua adds some choking (must have learned it from Eddie) as Tazz tries to figure out if a world of hurt is like a planet of pain.

A good powerbomb works on the back even more and this time Chavo makes a save. Eddie finally rolls out of a double arm crank and makes the hot tag so dropkicks can abound. The tornado DDT gets two on Danny with Doug making a save and the champs are knocked to the floor. Stereo dives have them in even more trouble and the fans are rather pleased at the moment. Back in and Chavo tries a sunset flip but Danny sits down on it with Shaniqua grabbing his hands to retain the titles.

Rating: B. If there was a story going on with Eddie and Chavo, they would have been nuts to not change the titles there. Eddie sold this to perfection and the match was a great time throughout. Odds are Chavo somehow blames Eddie for the loss and Angle stays involved, which is all the heel turn needs to be. Good match here and probably the best Bashams match ever.

Post match the Bashams beat Eddie down while Chavo sits in a chair. Shaniqua is pleased as the Bashams leave….and Chavo comes in to beat on Eddie even more for the full turn. More right hands bust Eddie open and Chavo is very pleased. As a bonus, he kicks Eddie in the head and steals the lowrider. The fans boo the heck out of him too because this is a story that has been told well and is a classic for a reason. You can run with the jealousy storyline for months and the fact that they’re family makes it even better. Really well done angle after a very good match.

A-Train vs. John Cena

Cena’s pre-match rap makes Star Wars references about A-Train so it’s at least good for a laugh. A-Train drives him into the corner but Cena punches his way to freedom. A butterfly suplex gives A-Train two and we hit a reverse chinlock with a knee in the back. Cena powers up, hits the ProtoBomb and a top rope elbow to the back of the head. The Shuffle and FU give Cena the fast and impressive win as he just shrugged off whatever A-Train hit him with and won without much effort. That’s what he should be doing too.

Angle checks on the bloody Eddie, who breaks down in tears as Angle talks about what Chavo did. Kurt apologizes because this might have been his fault. Thanks for that Kurt.

Akio vs. Rey Mysterio

Non-title and only Sakoda is here with Akio as Tajiri has a match later tonight. Rey armdrags him down to start and we’re off to an early headlock. That goes nowhere so Akio cranks it up in a hurry with a buckle bomb to rock Rey. A sliding legdrop to the back of the head gets two and it’s time for the Tree of Woe.

Akio tries to get a bit too fast though and slides low, crotching himself against the post in the process. Rey gets two off a springboard crossbody but Akio kicks him out of the air for the same. Sakoda tries to interfere again and gets caught on the ropes with Akio being knocked next to him for a double 619. With the other goon taken care of, the West Coast Pop finishes Akio.

Rating: C. Not a bad match at all for four and a half minutes with both guys looking good and working hard. Akio and Sakoda are very low on the totem pole at the moment but with enough effort (which they’ve shown so far), they could turn into something useful. Mysterio on top of the division is fine, though it’s only going to last for so long without a good challenger.

Billy Gunn has a Best of Billy Gunn countdown, ranging over the next three weeks until he returns at the Royal Rumble. #3: the Smoking Gunns win their first Tag Team Titles. So Billy Gunn and Hardcore Holly are both getting pushes. What a happy new year.

Hardcore Holly thinks Josh Matthews is a smart guy (oh dear) but Big Show shouldn’t challenge Holly to a street fight in Alabama.

Nidia tries to find Jamie Noble, who is on his way. Paul Heyman comes in and puts her in the match instead.

Wrestlemania recall: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow.

Nidia vs. Tajiri

A few takedowns and an armdrag set up a legsweep for the pin to give Tajiri the title shot at the Rumble. Dang Tough Enough must have some really bad trainers.

Post match Tajiri loads up the big kick but Mysterio makes the save and helps Nidia until Jamie finally arrives. Noble decks Rey for reasons of general jerkishness.

Hardcore Holly vs. Big Show

Non-title street fight with Brock Lesnar on commentary. Cole: “What is Lesnar doing out here?” Doing commentary for a match involving his next challenger you moron. Tazz is right to insult him so often. There are weapons at ringside but Show brings out the chair that Holly used to bust him open last week. Did he steal that from whatever arena they were in?

Holly is in jeans and comes out to fight in the aisle but gets headbutted in short order. They get inside with Holly breaking a broom over his back, only to be thrown outside without much effort. Holly gets in a chair shot and goes after Lesnar, which just allows Big Show to get in a shot from behind. Back in and Holly gets beaten down again, only to get in some trashcan shots to the head for the first near fall. As you might expect, Holly can’t get the full nelson so he uses pepper spray and kicks him low. For a unique idea, Holly wraps a chair around Show’s neck and pulls back for a submission.

Rating: D. Well, I guess the one person in the world who wanted to see Hardcore Holly and Big Show have a street fight got what they had been waiting for. Other than that though, this was just two people hitting each other with weapons and a different kind of finish. The fact that it was Hardcore Holly beating up Big Show is almost too much to swallow though.

Lesnar runs away from Holly to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. Smackdown is two different worlds at the moment as you can see the promised land of Cena, Benoit and Guerrero getting ready to take things over but we have to put up with Holly for a few more weeks because wrestling must make you suffer. Holly might be the most lame duck challenger of all time and all of the other prospective opponents for Lesnar make it that much harder to sit through. There’s some more good than bad though on here as you have the talented guys taking up a lot of the show and that makes it a lot easier to sit through. Just forget Holly already and the show is that much better.

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