The fun stuff about Prime Time Wrestling without all the matches dragging in down.
1. As we all know, Bruiser Brody died in 1988 at age 42, but lets say for a moment that he had not – what do you think would have happened to his career? His demise coincided with the dying days of the territories, so would he have gone to WWF? Would he have went to Japan and maybe come back for a promotion like ECW?
2. Give me a Top 5…….who – in your opinion – has the best musical entrance in Wrestling history? (This question was inspired by CM Punks music – at this point, I wish he would go back to the theme he used until last year)
Date: June 2, 1997
Location: Hara Arena, Dayton, Ohio
Commentators: Mike Tenay, Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, Bobby Heenan
hard to believe we’re almost halfway through 1997. I’m digging this
idea of doing four shows at once as you get through the storylines a lot
faster which is good when the stories are really dull, as they have
been lately. Sting and Hogan is clearly being set up as a huge match
somewhere in the future, which is the start of probably the biggest
angle in the history of the company. Hopefully we get more of that
tonight. Let’s get to it.
and Syxx are in the ring to open the show. Hall says that the fans have
been asking for more of the NWO because they’re the reason everyone is
watching. They say they won at Slamboree and that Flair is recuperating
in the La Brea tar pits. Hall calls out Flair for a fight but we get JJ
Dillon instead. JJ says Flair is on his way here and tonight it’s Flair
vs. Hall. Hall says no but if he doesn’t do it, then the Outsiders are
stripped of the belts.
wisely jumps Glacier during his elaborate entrance and takes over
early. A spinwheel kick takes Glacier down and Wright pounds away in the
corner. He stops to dance though and Glacier gets in some kicks,
including the Cryonic Kick for the fast pin.
match here’s James Vanderberg for a distraction along with Mortis and
Wrath who are spotted before they come in. The beatdown begins but
Wright wants to get some revenge. That bell ringing over and over again
is really annoying. Mortis aims a kick at Glacier but kicks Wright
instead. Glacier fights both monsters off.
pounds him down and grabs the rope to avoid a Gomez dropkick. Bagwell
talks to the camera for awhile before walking into a bad dropkick by
Gomez. Joe throws some bad punches in the corner but gets dropped into
the buckle and thrown out to the floor. Scott Norton, Buff’s partner,
gets in some shots and sends Gomez back in for the Blockbuster and the
pin by Buff.
Gomez was never in another match on Nitro and that’s a good thing. The
guy just wasn’t that good and it’s pretty clear to see why he never
amounted to anything. Bagwell wasn’t much better, although the
Blockbuster has always been a favorite move of mine. Just a squash here
but it was pretty bad looking while it lasted.
jumps Morrus on his way to the ring. Morrus pounds him down but he’s a
bit shaken. They mess up a spot where Iaukea is supposed to slide
between Morrus’ legs so Morrus swings his leg out wide, but Iaukea runs
around instead and runs into Morrus’ leg. Thankfully Iaukea rolls him up
a second later for the pin. This seems to be an injury angle for
JJ to talk about the main event but more importantly that we need #1
contenders to the tag titles after the PPV. He thinks it’s the Steiners,
who are barely on Nitro anymore. This draws out Sherri and Harlem Heat
who disagree with this ruling. JJ says if the Steiners win tonight, they
get the next shot after Flair and Piper. Sherri says that’ll get a
recap Page vs. Savage with the focus on Page. He talks about losing his
first 79 matches and working his way up to become what he is now. He
kept getting better and developed the Diamond Cutter, which he used to
beat Savage in their first match. I want to see these guys fight again
which is a good sign.
or six years earlier, this is a candidate for match of the year before
the bell even rings. Scott and Muta start with Muta firing off a very
quick kick to send Scott ducking back into the corner. Scott armdrags
him down and it’s a stalemate. A suplex sends Muta flying so Muta goes
to the strikes. Muta takes him down and we’re told that Flair has
arrived. Scott butterfly powerbombs and gorilla press slams Muta down,
sending him out to the floor.
comes in and Muta bails right back to the floor to hide. Rick stomps on
an NWO shirt and it’s off to Chono. The two of them have a test of
strength but Rick suplexes him down instead of seeing who wins. A
Steiner Line sends Chono to the outside and Muta wants nothing to do
with Rick either. Back in and Chono gets powerslammed down as Scott
takes out Muta. All Steiners so far.
gets back in against Scott and the Japanese guys finally get in some
shots to the back to take over. Scott gets the tag to Rick and the NWO
guys are taken down almost immediately. The Steiners were in trouble for
about 30 seconds. Chono hits the Mafia Kick on Scott and there’s a
handspring elbow to Muta. Chono accidentally Mafia Kicks Muta and the
Steiners load up the double bulldog on Muta. Harlem Heat runs in and
knocks out Rick with a chair, giving Muta the easy pin.
This was fast paced, but it came off almost like a squash. That doesn’t
exactly make the NWO guys seem to be any kind of a threat as the
Steiners were in trouble for about a minute out of a nearly ten minute
match. The ending was obvious given what Sherri said earlier, but it
makes sense all things considered.
match Harlem Heat says they’re the #1 contenders now but JJ says the
match is under review. What is there to review exactly? Harlem Heat
interfered and the Steiners lost because of it. It’s not that
complicated, but this is WCW where you need a meeting to determine what
color the sky is.
hour #2 and after the recap, here’s Ric Flair for a chat. Flair rants
as you would expect him to and a lot of it is censored.
out process to start with neither guy being able to get any real
control. A rollup by Dean is blocked and Nick Patrick yells at
Wallstreet for holding the ropes. Patrick yells about using the hair and
the match slows down again. Wallstreet sends Dean to the floor as
things continue to not get started. Back in and Dean grabs a hammerlock
which is quickly broken. Off to a chinlock by the challenger
(Wallstreet) followed by an abdominal stretch. Sweet goodness Wallstreet
leg lariat gets two as does a suplex. The Cloverleaf is broken up by a
rake to the eyes but Wallstreet misses a charge and goes flying over the
top and out to the floor. Jeff Jarrett comes in out of nowhere and
trips Malenko for two. Wallstreet doesn’t pay attention and gets caught
in the Cloverleaf to retain the title for Dean. Patrick was between
Wallstreet and the ropes so we have another wrinkle in the Patrick might
be crooked story.
I love Malenko but my goodness Wallstreet is dull. I mean the guy does
NOTHING but jobber level offense. The other problem is that since he’s
taken on his current gimmick, the Wallstreet name doesn’t mean anything.
This was about Jarrett though which makes the match a little more
wants a rematch with Malenko and says he’ll get it next week on Nitro.
Dean accepts and here’s Mongo. Mongo wants to know why Jarrett came out
here without him and won’t let Debra leave with Jeff. Mongo rants about
Kevin Greene and the people boo Mongo out of the building. Why didn’t
WCW get that no one was interested in this football stuff?
and Ciclope start things off with the big man stomping Ciclope down
into the corner. A slam puts Ciclope down and it’s off to Booker for a
hook kick. Damien comes in and some Hardy Boys style double teaming
sends Booker to the floor. Booker knees Damien down and it’s back to Ray
as the Heat weren’t in trouble long. Booker sends Damien to the floor
and stomps away on him against the barricade as this breaks down. Here
are the Steiners with a chair to lay out Booker, allowing Damien to hit a
top rope splash for the upset pin.
This match was the same thing we’ve had all night: a dull match that
was waiting for the angle advancement that ended it. Damien and Ciclope
wouldn’t go anywhere of course but it’s nice to see some newcomers get a
win, even if it’s tainted like this. Obviously this set up Steiners vs.
Heat and there’s nothing wrong with that. The match was dull though.
Benoit has to run the Dungeon gauntlet to get another match with
Sullivan. Benoit takes it straight to the corner and stomps Barbarian
down, which is something you almost never see. Barbarian breaks the
German attempt so Benoit settles for a release northern lights suplex.
Jimmy Hart distracts Benoit and Barbie gets in a shot to take over.
There’s a piledriver for two on Benoit and Barbarian is frustrated
already. Barbarian be clubberin in the corner followed by his always
cool release belly to belly superplex. Barbarian loads up something off
the top but gets shoved down. Swan Dive and Crossface end this.
It wasn’t as good as their match from a few months ago, but this is a
pairing that still works. Barbarian is an interesting case as he has a
pretty standard gimmick but the guy was continuously employed in a major
company for the better part of fifteen years. For a guy like Barbarian,
that’s very impressive.
goes insane to start and takes Hall down with chops and shots to the
knee. Syxx tries to interfere but Flair takes both guys out with ease.
Hall slugs Flair but Flair chops him into the corner with ease. Flair is
sent into the corner for the Flair Flip but Flair dives off the apron
onto Syxx in a kind of Thess Press. Hall gets in a shot to the back and
takes over by stomping away in the corner.
comes in for a Bronco Buster which somehow the referee doesn’t notice.
The fallaway slam hits for two and the fans want Sting. There’s an
abdominal stretch and Syxx does the required arm pull for extra
leverage. Hall pounds Flair down and puts on the sleeper, only to be
countered into a knee crusher. Hall clotheslines Flair down to break up
the Figure Four attempt and they’re both down. Flair chops away and it’s
time to strut. Syxx gets knocked off the apron and then crotched.
There’s a low blow to Hall and Flair is rolling. Flair loads up the
Figure Four but has to fight off Syxx AGAIN. A belt shot to Flair
finally gets the DQ.
At the end of the day, Flair is one of the guys you know is going to
have at least a decent match. It’s a rare thing to see one of the higher
ups in the NWO have a big time match and putting him with Flair meant
this was going to be good. Also it plays into the tag title match at the
PPV, making this one of the few matches tonight that actually meant
something and the only one that was good on top of that.
match Flair gets double teamed and I guess the Horsemen are off hunting
elk or something. Mongo and Jarrett FINALLY come out for the save.
Mongo takes either a tag belt or the Cruiserweight belt with him as they
leave for some reason.
Savage for the final segment of the show. He brings Gene out with him
by force and looks extra angry/crazy here. Gene talks about DDP and how
Savage is underrating him, so Savage snaps. Gene says someone has to
bring Savage back to earth and Savage gets in his face, drawing out JJ.
JJ threatens Savage with some undefined punishment before saying he’s
lost respect for Savage.
says he expects better from Savage than from the rest of the NWO. JJ
talks about how in the old days, Savage would have stood up to Page like
a man. Now Savage is hiding in the crowd and isn’t being a man. Savage
decks JJ and security plus Bischoff come out to pull Savage off.
Bischoff talks Savage down in the corner but the fans chant DDP, which
sends Savage over the edge again. Bischoff says JJ brought this on
himself to end the show.
This show wasn’t that interesting overall. Savage vs. Page has me
wanting to watch their match all over again even though I just saw it a
few months ago. Flair’s stuff was good too, but other than that there’s
nothing of interest here. The other matches were all setting up later
stuff and most of them were either bad or too short to be anything.
Great American Bash is coming off like a much better show than Slamboree
so these Nitros have been a lot easier to get through, but other than
the top stuff, most of the matches aren’t doing much for me yet.
(again my second favorite comic couple) the real question is why did I take so
long to buy it? The answer to that is actually the New Avengers name, which is
no doubt put here to help it sell but has the opposite effect of invoking bad
connotations for me as I hate everything Bendis has done with Hawkeye (and most
of the team) in that title. It wasn’t until I read the Hawkeye and Mockingbird trade that occurs after this and is also by
McCann that I safely felt this dude gets these characters and decided I wanted
to buy this one too. Having recently (re)read the first meeting of these two in
the Avengers: Hawkeye trade following
the movie this felt like a natural follow-up pick-up.
Hawkeye’s wife Mockingbird needlessly died in the early 90s when West Coast Avengers was cancelled. In Secret Invasion it was revealed she was
still alive, having been kidnapped by aliens before her death and it was a
Skrull impersonating her that had died in her stead way back when. Now Hawkeye
and Mockingbird are reunited for the first time in years.
driven story, so the only way to recap it is with fairly heavy spoilers. You’ve
sparring and she draws blood. Later she tests the blood in a private lab to
prove Hawkeye isn’t a Skrull. We also see she is having flashbacks from her
time on the Skull world. Hawkeye wants to renew their relationship but Mock
walks away from him and decides to become a spy again.
to a hospital where she’s doing spy stuff and she tells him to go away. We see
a flashback of how Hawkeye found her: He went to Bucky-Cap, who helped Hawk
track her down after some snarky banter. Bucky also warns Hawkeye that being on
ice and having your life stolen can change a person. Back at the hospital Mock
lets Hawk tag along, and they uncover the hospital is a front for AIM (who in
this story are playing the role of generic terrorists instead of their usual
super science conquer the world bit). I should mention Hawkeye starts the
battle dressed in his ridiculous Ronin identity but fortunately runs out of
ninja weapons and Mock has a bow and arrow for him to fall back on so he can be
his classic self for the rest of the story. Anyway the heroes escape an ambush
in one of SHIELD’s flying cars, and Mock reveals she has some stolen Skrull
information files that she is using to create an independent spy agency to work
outside of SHIELD; in this case to prevent AIM from detonating a chemical bomb
in Spain. Hawkeye then net arrows her and calls in Bucky-Cap for back-up.
and we get the obligatory fight scene, although the dialogue makes up for it in
spades as Bird questions the whole ludicrous Ronin thing as a reason she
doesn’t know if she can trust Hawkeye anymore and McCann and Lopez through a
combination of art and dialogue reveal how the identity was meant as a tribute
to Mockingbird. And in just two pages he’s partially redeemed five years of
terrible writing by Bendis for fans of classic Hawkeye. This then directly leads to Hawkeye empathizing
with her on how coming back from the dead can mess you up as we get more
tidying up of Bendis plot holes. This leads to a compromise where Bird will let
Hawk come along on her spy mission if he cuts ties with Bucky-Cap and the New
Avengers for the duration of the mission. We cut to them flying over the
Atlantic and as Bird briefs Hawkeye on the mission and the we get dual
flashbacks: Bird recalls being targeted by the Skrulls when she was on a plane
heading to see Hawkeye about their estranged marriage and Hawkeye recalling having
to tell Tigra (another founding member of the West Coast Avengers and Bobbi’s
best friend on the team) that Mockingbird had died after WCA 100. In Spain
the two discuss infiltrating a James Bond style gala being held for world
leaders and scientists by the villain (Monica Rappaccini, last seen being
killed in MODOK’s 13). Following the
debriefing they retire to separate hotel rooms which causes Bird to flashback
to their honeymoon, followed by their break-up and her kidnapping moments
before a mission with Ultron—which for long time fans of WCA is a big clue to
this issue’s cliffhanger). The duo are then getting dressed into formal wear
for their cover identities when Hawkeye finally asks Mockingbird why she is
acting as if they are still estranged when they had reunited prior to her death
(and indeed were on the verge or retiring from superheroics to try for a family
when she died) and she reveals to Hawkeye she was kidnapped prior to the Ultron
mission that reconciled them, so in fact they had never reconciled and had she
not been kidnapped by Skrulls she was going to file for divorce.
the party, and it really reads like a great James Bond movie. Hawkeye figures
out the plan is not to blow up the scientists but to kidnap them and then blow
up the building to hide the evidence they are missing. Hearing about the
abduction plan causes Bobbi to flashback to some of the mind-fucking she
received on the Skrull homeworld with Skrulls continuously pretending to be
Clint and Tigra to get info out of her. Followed by another flashback to the
Hawkeye Skrull becoming obsessed with her until she had to kill him while he
still looked like her husband. Clint wakes her up and wants to talk about their
marital problems from way back when, but then she finds the bomb and it
explodes, apparently killing Hawkeye.
herself to Mockingbird and tries to recruit her for AIM. Mockingbird says no in
a physical way and we get a short but cool fight scene as Monica has access to
lots of AIM’s cooler science fiction tech. Mockingbird wins with a bit of low
tech trickery by anticipating Monica’s teleport trajectory and bouncing one of
her metal staves off the wall behind her to KO her. We cut to Hawkeye waking up
under the rubble. When he climbs out Bird is happy to see him alive. They
evacuate the civilians at the party and then take out a platoon of AIM agents.
This just leaves defusing the bomb and they pull that off too. After the
mission they fly to the now abandoned West Coast Avengers headquarters so
Mockingbird can have some closure. She then goes through all the reasons they
shouldn’t get back together until Hawkeye kisses her and puts an end to that.
We get one final cut scene that says “nine days later” that shows them jumping
out of a plane together for another spy mission and making dinner plans on the
continuity dense for new readers, but as someone who bought every single issue
of West Coast Avengers in real time I
loved how much and how faithfully it used that continuity in the flashback
sequences. I also really appreciated the effort to take all of Bendis’ missteps
with Hawkeye and try to rework them into something more inline with his classic
fun, although the action sequences are clearly secondary to the character
moments in this story. I’m not completely sold on AIM being the villains for
this type of story. In their earliest appearances AIM was doing things like
building the Cosmic Cube, empowering MODOK and creating the Super Adaptoid; so
blowing up a building in Spain
seems beneath them. There are plenty of traditional terrorist groups like Hydra
or the Secret Empire that could have been used instead and would have fit
better. However if you are going to use AIM, I didn’t mind seeing Monica as the
villain. While it somewhat undercuts the excellent ending to MODOK’s 13 she’s an interesting enough
villain to bring back.
romantic level like few comic books do. That ending of them diving out of plan
while making dinner plans felt like it could have come straight from a movie
hoping for a sequel. (And in fact this book has a sequel, the aforementioned even
more excellent Hawkeye & Mockingbird trade).
It’s a shame that Bendis promptly ignored all this great character work by
McCann so Hawkeye could date frickin’ Spider-Woman instead.
book is exactly what longtime fans of Hawkeye and Mockingbird would want in a
story titled “The Reunion.”
The SmarK Rant for WWE Taboo Tuesday 2004 (And now to the RAW half of October 2004’s PPV offerings, with one of the worst concepts for a PPV that they actually tried to follow through with for THREE YEARS. At least with Fatal 4-Way they gave up after one.) – I think that next to some of WCW’s dumber offerings, that’s one of the worst major PPV names I’ve ever heard. But that’s just me. – Live from Milwaukee, WI. The arena looks horribly empty tonight, which can’t be a good sign. – Your hosts are JR & King. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Chris Jericho v. Shelton Benjamin. I voted for Benjamin, for those wondering. My heart wanted Big Dave, but I thought this would be a better match. (Can you imagine Batista losing a popularity contest to Shelton friggin’ Benjamin now?) Lockup to start and Jericho gets an armdrag, but Benjamin replies with his own, into an armbar. Man, this crowd is pretty scary dead for an opening match. They trade wristlocks until Jericho throws a forearm and starts chopping. Jericho chokes him down, but charges and gets dumped as a result. Benjamin follows with a baseball slide and gets two back in the ring. He hits the chinlock and takes Jericho into the corner, but charges and hits boot, which allows Jericho to get the enzuigiri for two. Backdrop suplex and Jericho drops elbows, setting up a vertical suplex and the Arrogant Cover for two. Jericho looks to be playing heel to give the crowd someone to boo. Shelton misses a dropkick, so Jericho works the back with some hard kicks and a backbreaker submission. Benjamin comes back with a sunset flip for two, but Jericho clotheslines him for two. They head up top and Benjamin gets the superplex, and it’s the double count. They slug it out and Benjamin comes back with a flying forearm and backdrop. Dragon whip gets two. Jericho comes back with the bulldog and misses his millionth Lionsault, which allows Benjamin to go up with the flying clothesline for two. Blinger Splash misses and Jericho gets the Walls, which Benjamin reverses for two. Jericho clotheslines him down again and this time hits the Lionsault, which gets two. Back to the corner for some chops, but Benjamin catches him coming out with the Exploder for the pin and the title at 10:56. Bit short, but they were going pretty good before the finish. **1/2 (As noted by Jericho, he legitimately had no idea who he was facing until it was announced, and he still managed to improv a decent match out of it.) – Schoolgirl battle royale, WWE Women’s title: You of course have Trish, Jazz, Nidia, Victoria, Molly, Stacy and Gail Kim. This is like some sick peek into Lawler’s psyche. But then I voted for schoolgirls too, so who am I to talk. I’d have call Trish the winner on the hotness scale here. (Well duh.) JR reviews the rules of a battle royale with us, as though anyone is watching for the finer points of athleticism. Big brawl to start and Nidia loses her shirt, and gets thrown through the ropes to be eliminated. Jazz misses a clothesline and slides out. Gail Kim tries a rana on Victoria and goes out, but Victoria holds on. Trish beats on Stacy in the corner and chokes her down, but Stacy comes back with the Nash choke. Meanwhile, Molly hits Victoria with the handspring elbow and the heels try to suplex Stacy out, but Victoria saves her. Why the hell would she do that? Stacy misses a charge on Trish, and the heels slingshot Victoria out. That leaves Stacy against the heels, and they work her leg over. Stacy fights back out of the corner and almost tosses Trish, but she hangs on. Molly takes Stacy to the apron, however, and knocks her off, and then Trish turns on Molly to retain at 5:37. This was what it was — a T&A break because they no longer have any clue what to do with the women. (Wouldn’t get any better, I’m afraid.) – Kane v. Gene Snitsky. For some reason, the steel chain won, despite not being pushed at all leading up to the match. (Maybe they had John Cena cut a promo for it on the go-home RAW?) Snitsky goes for the chain first, but Kane grabs him and starts pounding, then slugs away in the corner. Snitsky bails, which is probably smart, so Kane grabs the chain. Snitsky steals it away and they head back in, but Kane gets the chain back and clotheslines him down. He puts the chain in the corner and rams Snitsky into it, then slugs him out with the chain. They fight on the floor and Snitsky uses the chain to pull Kane into the post, and he stomps him down. Back in, Snitsky clotheslines him with the chain and WHIPS HIM, WHIPS HIM LIKE A DOG TONY. This match is deader than Kane’s baby. Lita apparently wants Snitsky to go down hard, according to JR. Isn’t that what got her into trouble in the first place? They slug it out and Snitsky pounds him in the corner, but Kane comes back with a clothesline. Kane fires back, but falls victim to the BODYSLAM OF DEATH and some elbows. That gets two for Snitsky. They slug it out again and Snitsky clotheslines him for two. More chain action from Snitsky, as chokes Kane out. Kane fights back, even managing to block chain-assisted punches, but he walks into a sideslam that gets two. Zombie situp and they slug it out, won by Kane, and boot each other down in a spot that has never made sense to me. I mean, you lose all momentum when you stop and lift the boot, right? So what propels each guy into the boot? (RUTHLESS AGGRESSION!) Kane tries the chokeslam, but Snitsky slugs himself free, and Kane tosses him instead. Kane retrieves the Kane again, but Snitsky kicks the stairs into Kane to slow him down, and uses a chair on him. JR then gets the most unintentionally funny line of the night: “The steel chair was not voted in!” The ref, apparently unaware of the rules of the match, doesn’t DQ Snitsky, so he keeps hitting Kane with it, and grabs the chain. He chokes Kane down like some sort of demented Hercules relative, and sets him up to Pillmanize the neck. And it WORKS! Kane bites down on a condom and the ref stops the match, but Snitsky WANTS THE PIN, and gets it at 14:20. Now that’s a heel. The match was way long and sucked ass, but Kane sold like a madman for Snitsky and made him look like the badass crazy heel of the century, as they continue to back into making Snitsky look like a million dollars. 3/4* (Yeah, that didn’t last long.) – Eugene v. Eric Bischoff. Uncle Eric attacks to start and uses martial arts expertise, but Eugene is already TARDING UP, no-selling a high kick and slugging away in the corner. Airplane spin, extended version, and he finishes with the big boot and legdrop at 2:09. Well, at least he’s got more hair than Hogan. DUD The voting results see Eugene shaving Bischoff’s head, and Coach wearing a dress. I was momentarily confused by the mannequin at ringside, however, since I thought it was Linda McMahon making an appearance, until I realized that it had more emotional range. Or maybe it was Katie Vick. – RAW World tag titles: La Resistance v. Edge & Chris Benoit. (So Edge and Benoit get this shot as a result of losing the World title vote to Shawn Michaels. Really makes the tag belts seem prestigious.) This is a rematch from June, oddly enough, when La Rez won the belts in the first place. The story is that Edge considers himself above the tag titles, which is of course true. Edge & Conway slug it out to start, and Benoit throws some chops and a clothesline. Snap suplex and Edge comes in for some clubbing forearms, but Conway fires back and La Rez works him over in the corner. Grenier comes in, but misses an elbow, so Edge suplexes him and goes up. However, crowd opinion causes him to change his mind, and he heads back in after some words with Benoit. Benoit comes in with a backdrop suplex on Grenier for two, and a backbreaker for two. They botch a flapjack spot and Edge comes back in, but Conway stomps him down for two. Edge comes back with a forearm and spears Conway off the apron. If the intent is to portray Edge sleepwalking through the match and going through the motions, mission accomplished. Back in, Grenier drops a knee for two and hits the chinlock. Edge fights out, so Grenier flapjacks him for two. Double-team suplex gets two for Conway. Grenier waves the flag in a weird attempt at drawing any kind of heat for this mess, but it fails. Conway and Edge slug it out, and then Grenier and Edge, before Edge finally gets a clothesline out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Benoit. Grenier quickly catches him with a clothesline to the back of head, however, and stomps away for two. Back to the heel corner for yet another heat segment, as Conway goes to the facelock and this thing grinds to a halt like a rusty gear. Benoit comes back with a german suplex and makes a false tag to Edge, and La Rez beats on Benoit while the crowd finally shows a bit of life. This prompts Edge to walk out on the match, leaving Benoit alone. We follow him back to the locker room, as he heads home without even showering. He’s so evil, he eschews good hygiene! (Once he became the Rated-R Superstar he would fully embrace that kind of sleazy philosophy.) Meanwhile, back in the ring, Grenier is holding a chinlock and goes up, but Benoit brings him back down with a superplex. They try Au Revoir, but Benoit hits Grenier with a german suplex and tosses him. More german suplexes for Conway and the crossface finish at 16:14, to give Chris Benoit the World tag titles all by himself. Really disappointing, dull stuff. *1/2 (I honestly forget how they got out of that storyline later.) – Lingerie pillow fight: Carmella v. Christy. In a spot you don’t see every day, they throw falsies at each other to start, and then slug it out with pillows. Then it’s the usual rolling around and choking, C-level house show comedy match stuff, and Christy thankfully gets the pin at 1:49 to put a merciful end to it. –** (She’s much better off as TNA’s ring announcer now.) – RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. (Orton’s first title reign was sabotaged by HHH because he felt that there should be a heel champion going into this meaningless PPV. True story.) Don’t blame me, I voted for Benoit. Slugfest in the corner to start as JR makes excuses for Shawn, and HHH bails. Back in, Shawn chops him down, but HHH smartly goes for the knee and starts stomping it in the corner. They slug it out and HHH goes down, but he recovers by kicking him in the knee and dropping one of his own. HHH slugs away on the mat, but Shawn fights back until getting kicked in the knee again. HHH methodically drops elbows on the bad knee and bends it in a submission move. Back to the elbows, which set up a figure-four, and Shawn is looking to Jesus for the Divine Run-In. The ref wants to stop the match, but Shawn is made of sterner stuff. He makes the ropes, so HHH goes back to beating on him again. HHH tries to post him, so Shawn pulls him back into the post and makes the comeback. A few chops are all he gets, however, before HHH kicks him in the knee again. Another try at the figure-four is blocked by Shawn, however, and HHH gets sent into the corner for the double KO. Shawn is up first and slugs away, but an atomic drop on the bad knee proves to be a pretty bad idea. Still, he keeps fighting with a clothesline and slugs HHH down for two. HHH comes back with a shot to the knee, but Shawn uses a shot to the balls. Call it a draw. DDT puts HHH down again and Shawn goes up for whatever stupid reason, and drops the elbow. The leg is bad, but he’s JESUSING UP. The crowd finally gets into things as Shawn sets up the superkick, but Batista runs in and distracts the ref. Superkick and HHH is out, but Edge returns from his car ride and spears Shawn, allowing HHH to retain at 14:04. This was pretty different from their usual 40 minute wankfests, with the whole thing being about Shawn’s bad leg, which was nice for a change. *** – Cage match: Ric Flair v. Randy Orton. Orton overpowers him to start, but Flair throws some chops in return. Orton backdrops him out of the corner, so Flair tries to climb, but Orton chases him up there. Flair brings him down with the old thumb to the eyes, and works him over with chops. Ballshot and Flair takes him into the cage, drawing blood. Flair slugs him in the corner and does some cheesegrater action on Orton’s face. He stomps Orton down and throws the chops, which covers Flair’s fist with blood. That’s the stuff. More chops, really nasty ones, but Orton punches back and sends Flair into the cage. And now it’s double juice. Flair tries to escape, but we get the full moon spot and they fight on the top rope. Flair of course goes down the hard way, and Orton keeps beating on him in the corner. Flair goes low again to counter that flurry, but Orton slugs him down and pounds away. And now it’s Flair getting that cheesegrater action, and Orton dropkicks him into the cage, with Flair trapped in the ropes. Nice spot. Flair tries to climb, but you know what happens. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. Neckbreaker gets two. Flair chops him back down and crawls for the door, but Orton pulls him back in. Flair pulls out the old faithful brass knuckles, but only gets two. Flair then grabs a chair from the door area, but misses, and the RKO finishes at 10:35. Flair was feeling it tonight, with some fun flashback to the 80s NWA stuff. ***1/4 Flair and Orton share a moment afterwards, which hopefully will allow Flair to turn face again and mentor Orton. (Sadly, no.) The Inside Pulse: Interesting, but flawed, concept aside, the actual execution of the PPV left a lot to be desired, with a ton of bad matches and stuff that had no place on PPV. They’re only got themselves to blame for booking Carmella v. Christy and Eugene v. Bischoff. This should hopefully signal the end of this concept. (Nope!) Thumbs down.
Bit of a sub-par episode this week, but that doesn’t matter because PUPPET H IS BACK! And at about 6:00 the guy behind the puppet cracks up out of character, so this episode is self-justifying.
The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2004 (So now we’re into the era where WWE was doing everything in their power to make me stop watching, although the rise of Batista and Cena was enough to keep me interested for a while longer. However, I stopped watching Smackdown entirely at this point, and RAW would soon follow when the show shifted from TSN, a basic cable channel, to the Score, a pay channel, here in Canada.) – I got my hands on this one a while back, but really I just wasn’t in the mood for more of World champion JBL until I had enough cold medication to deal with it properly. – Live from Jersey. – Your hosts are Cole & Tazz. – Opening match: Eddie Guerrero v. Luther Reigns. Shoving match to start and they fight over the lockup, and Reigns gets a short-arm clothesline out of the corner. How can they call Reigns a “rookie” when he’s been around as Horschu since 1999 or so? I kinda thought we were past that stuff. (Tensai and “rookie” sensation Ryback would beg to differ.) Eddie grabs a headlock, but gets overpowered. Eddie takes him down with a single-leg to block some kicks, and then dropkicks him low and gets two off a snapmare. Into the corner, where Eddie gets whipped into the turnbuckles and then press-slammed. That gets two. Back to the corner again and we hit the dreaded bearhug. Mark Jindrak, offering advice at ringside, tells him to “squeeze”. Well, thank god for that kind of insightful coaching. I shudder to think what he might have done otherwise. (At least he didn’t give pharmaceutical advice, like “Buy your shit from Signature Pharmacies, no one will ever find out!”) Reigns throws a big boot, whiffs by six inches, and Eddie sells anyway to give Reigns two. He slugs Eddie down for two. We hit the chinlock, and Eddie powers out and mulekicks him, so Reigns hits him with a backdrop suplex for two. Backbreaker and Reigns works it as the match grinds to a halt. Eddie breaks free, but charges and lands on the floor, allowing Jindrak to stomp him. Back in, Reigns hammers away while Cole goes into his stupid “TV doesn’t do justice to how big Reigns is” stuff, like he used to do with A-Train, as if we’d see him live and go “Oh my god, he’s so BIG. Let’s pay lots and lots of money to watch him wrestle now!” Another backbreaker sets up a powerslam, which gets two. He tries to Roll the Dice, but Eddie fights out and pushes off the ropes to escape. Eddie fights back as Reigns tries to remember how to sell, and gets a dropkick and some clotheslines. Rolling verticals, but Reigns blocks the third one and gets a forward suplex. Eddie rolls out to recover, and steals a nightstick from a “security guard”, and puts it in his boot, but misses the frog splash, then pulls the stick out of his boot and hits Reigns with it, and finishes with the frog splash at 13:21. This was WAY long and didn’t really go anywhere, with Eddie getting beaten on for 10 minutes and then hitting a prelim guy with a nightstick to win. *1/2 (Yeah, Eddie was on the downswing of his career, for sure. He was beat up and burned out and never really recovered.) – Cruiserweight title: Spike Dudley v. Nunzio. Apparently the FBI have turned face, although crowd response doesn’t seem to back it up too much. I do like Spike’s new evil goatee, as opposed to his former wussy goatee. They fight over a lockup and take it to the mat, then hang on while there and fight into the corner for the break. Cute. Nunzio comes back with a hiptoss, and Spike bails. Back in, Spike hammers him and tries a slam, but Nunzio falls on top for two. Rollup gets two. Nunzio works the arm, but Spike reverses, so Nunzio leverages him out of the ring. He follows with a bit of an ugly dive, and back in gets two. Takedown gets two. He goes up and gets shoved off by D-Von, which gives Spike two. Spike goes to a full-nelson, but Nunzio fights out, so Spike tries a rollup, which Nunzio counters for two. Nunzio goes up, but gets dropkicked on the way down for two. Spike chokes away, as do the Dudleyz, and Spike gets two. Back to the full-nelson, but Nunzio reverses to a chokeslam and makes the comeback. Backdrop suplex gets two. Into the corner for two. Sicilian Slice gets two. They fight on the floor and Spike gets backdropped out there, which gets two for Nunzio back in. Backslide gets two. D-Von tries grabbing the leg, triggering a brawl with Johnny the Bull, but Bubba posts Nunzio behind the ref’s back and Spike gets the pin at 8:50. Decent but all the interference was a bit much. **1/2 – Billy Kidman v. Paul London. (Oh yeah, Kidman’s heel turn, totally forgot about that. The riffs on the poor guy on Are Your Serious are never not funny, by the way.) Kidman does a pretty good arrogant sneer, I gotta say. Kidman stalls outside to start, so London dropkicks him into the railing and brings him in. He throws some forearms and gets a backdrop and a stiff kick to the back, then kicks him into the corner and a sidekick gets two. Kidman bails, so London follows with a springboard moonsault. Very nice. Back in, he slingshots in with a splash for two. Kidman comes back with a straight kick to the face and tosses London into the post, then baseball slides him into it. He starts stomping the ribs and goes to an abdominal stretch, before punting the ribs and getting two. He goes to a surfboard, but London fights out, only to land in a gutbuster from Kidman that gets two. Faceplant gets two. Back to the abdominal stretch. London fights out, so Kidman stomps him down again. London keeps fighting back, knocking Kidman down with a forearm and a spinkick, but Kidman tries a bulldog. London blocks and gets an enzuigiri for two. London tries a powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB KIDMAN, and Kidman thus gets two. They fight on the apron and Kidman comes back in and tries a powerbomb, but London reverses to a rana for what looked like three, but was apparently only two. Kidman hits him with a dropkick to stop the rally and goes up, but then he changes his mind because he’s afraid of his own power. Back in, London comes back with a superkick and goes up, doing his own version of the Shooting Star Press, but it hits the knees and Kidman is ALIVE again, finishing with the real deal at 10:34. That’s actually an interesting storyline for a midcard match. **3/4 Kidman turns on the fans for good as London bites down on a condom and gets stretchered out, and then to really stress what a bad day he’s having, Kidman does the SSP again while London is strapped down. OK, that was pretty cool. (Didn’t go anywhere. Kidman called it a career due to breaking a bone in his face, and became an agent and trainer soon after. London burned ALL his bridges in WWE and left as well.) – Smackdown tag team titles: Rene Dupree & Kenzo Suzuki v. Rob Van Dam & Rey Mysterio. (Yeah, Dupree and Suzuki as tag champions was a thing. Strange thing is they actually weren’t THAT bad as a team!) Kenzo butchers Springsteen before the match, which I guess is supposed to make me hate him. If bad singing defines heels these days, then everyone on the Originals album should be heels. RVD starts with Dupree and it’s a posedown. They do some matwork to start and trade powerbomb attempts, which leads to a pinning reversal thing. Sadly, Dupree is no Jerry Lynn, but it was a good try. Rob grabs a headlock and the faces double-team into a Rey dropkick for two. Dupree takes him into the corner and Kenzo comes in with some chops, but Rey kicks him into the corner and dropkicks him there. Kenzo bails and Dupree charges, so Rey dumps him and the faces hit the champs with stereo somersault planchas. Back in, RVD gets two on Suzuki. Rob cleans up on both heels, hitting Suzuki with a spinkick, but he goes up and gets sent to the railing by Dupree. Back in, RVD is YOUR stoner-in-peril. Suzuki throws some chops in the corner and grinds a knee into Rob’s throat. Dupree gets a snapmare and hits the chinlock, as the evil foreigners do the standard tag team formula stuff. Suzuki drops a knee for two. He goes to the armbar, but Rob fights out with a high kick and makes the hot tag to Rey. He throws kicks at Kenzo and DDTs him for two. Rey slugs away in the corner and springboards in for two. Kenzo fires back with a chop, but gets taken down into the 619 area code. Dupree breaks it up and tries a powerbomb on Rey, so RVD comes in and takes Dupree down to set up Rolling Thunder as the faces break out the double-team goodnees. 619 for Kenzo, take two, and this time it hits. The ref is distracted with RVD, however, and when Rey goes up Dupree brings him down, and Suzuki gets the pin with the ropes at 9:04. Surprisingly (shockingly) entertaining, as they stuck to formula and it worked. **1/2 The finish was weak and the heat segment was way too short, however. (I forget if the foreigners won the belts from the 4:20 crew or the other way around, and I don’t really care. Suzuki is doing his thing in AJPW last I checked and Dupree dropped off the face of the earth.) – Kurt Angle v. Big Show. I guess Show has been experiencing the pain of male-pattern baldness, too, thus explaining his new Steve Austin look. (Yup, once he went that route, he never went back.) I don’t get how Show tries to commit murder on Angle by tossing him off a balcony, however, and this ends up as Show as the face and Angle as the heel. I guess that didn’t happen anymore. Show overpowers him to start and Angle bails. Back in, Angle tries a headlock, and Show powers him into the corner. Show brings him into the corner for the big butt and a hiptoss out of the corner. Suplex gets one, as Show steps on him in lieu of a proper cover. Press slam and Angle bails again, and walks out at 3:36. Smart man. However, GM Teddy Long comes out and threatens to fire Angle if he doesn’t get back in the ring. So back in we go, and Show pounds him down and hiptosses him again. Angle bails again and this time grabs a chair, but Show boots it back in his face. Whoops. Back in, Show pounds him in the corner, and then catches him coming off the second rope with a slam. Chokeslam is reversed by Angle, who FINALLY gets offense in, as he anklelocks Show. He takes him down and locks it in, but Show hangs on and powers out, bumping the ref in the process. Angle brings the chair back in and starts pounding the knee with it, then pulls the knee from the apron. Back in, Angle clips the knee and goes to a stepover toehold. He keeps working the knee until Show powers him off again and comes back. Clothesline and slam set up the big boot, but Show crotches himself on another try. Angle follows with the Angle Slam for two. Angle finds a…uh…tranquilizer gun under the ring (well, it’s different at least) but Show takes it away and makes the comeback. Reverse powerbomb and he tosses Angle into the corner, setting up the chokeslam off the top for the clean pin at 15:05. Well, we definitely know that Angle doesn’t have a problem doing jobs after that. ** (I remember nothing about this feud.) – US title: Booker T v. John Cena. This is the finals of the best-of-5 series, which would be more meaningful and exciting had the matches been any good. Slugfest to start and Cena takes him down for two. Booker goes to a facelock, but Cena clotheslines him out of the ring. Back in, Booker hammers him down and throws chops, but runs into Cena’s boot and gets clotheslined for two. Spinebuster gets two for Booker, however. They brawl outside and Cena gets sent into the stairs, but then so does Booker. Oh, irony. Back in, Cena gets two. Booker comes back with a sidekick and gets two. Cena gets a crossbody for two in a weird spot, as they fought for the pin. Booker whips him back into the corner again, however. That gets two. Booker hits the chinlock and that lasts for a bit. Cena fights out with a suplex, but gets flapjacked by Booker. That gets two. Booker hammers away as the slow pace continues. Booker tries another sidekick and crotches himself, so Cena comes back. Bulldog and five-knuckle shuffle gets two. Booker catches him with the Bookend for two, however. He stops to get a chair for some reason, then changes his mind and tries the ax kick instead. That misses, and Cena gets two. F-U finishes at 10:19. Slow-paced and dull. *3/4 Cena’s prestigious title reign would of course last all of two days before dropping it to Epstein Ramon. (Can you IMAGINE Cena dropping a title after a two day reign to Carlito? Talk about backing the wrong horse. Cena should have just held that damn US title all the way up to dethroning JBL.) – Dawn Marie & The Dudley Boyz v. Jackie, Rico & Charlie Haas. Haas starts with Bubba, but it’s a SWERVE and D-Von starts instead. He pounds on Haas in the corner, but Charlie comes back with a hiptoss and dropkick for two. D-Von backdrops him, however, and brings in Dawn Marie, who shakes her booty at him. Jackie doesn’t like that, and comes in for some catfighting. And clothes ripping. The gratuitous camera angle of Dawn’s bra shows why they’re the best. (The directors or Dawn’s rack? Because both are impressive.) Bubba comes in, however, after delivering a cheapshot to Jackie, and lays the badmouth on her, demanding a kiss. Rico, however, tags in and is happy to oblige. Bubba’s reaction is pretty funny stuff. After he stops to rinse his mouth out, he tags D-Von in to deal with Rico, and Rico gets a backslide for two. Rollup gets two. Spinkick and back kick put D-Von down, and Rico goes up, but Bubba crotches him and D-Von chokes away. D-Von drops an elbow for two. Bubba, rather upset, comes in and delivers a beating to Rico, then chokes him out with the tape. I sense some homophobia. (He IS a bully.) Rico comes back with a DDT and makes the tag to Haas, who backdrops D-Von and spears him into the corner. Exploder for Bubba and a flying forearm for D-Von, and he’s a HAAS AFIRE! I’ve been trying to work that one in for a while. Rico comes in off a blind tag with a high cross for two, but the chicks go at it again. The Dudleyz try the Whazzup on Rico, but he’s WAY too into it for D-Von’s liking, which allows Haas to break it up. Rico superkicks Bubba to get rid of him, and Jackie spears Dawn for the catfight, before Haas hits D-Von with a crossbody to set up Rico’s moonsault for the pin at 8:47. OK, that was tremendously fun. **1/2 (Fired, quit, quit, fired, retired, fired. And this is less than a decade ago now, and look at all the ridiculous amount of turnover in the midcard.) – Hearse match, Smackdown World title: JBL v. Undertaker. Taker slugs him down to start and pounds away in the corner, then drops an elbow and slugs him down again. The ROPEWALK OF DOOM follows and Taker keeps slugging and choking. JBL tries a CLUBBING FOREARM, but Taker no-sells and boots him down again. JBL goes to the eyes and pounds UT in the corner, but Taker chokeslams him to end that rally. He makes the first try at dragging Bradshaw out, but he hangs on. Taker pounds him on the apron and drops the leg there, and they brawl in the aisle. Cole notes that the crowd is stunned by the ferocity of the Undertaker. I think they’re just bored, personally. Taker drops JBL on the railing and sends him into the stairs, and continues pounding him on the floor. He preps the table, but JBL uses the STEEL stairs to prevent him from using the table. I guess that’s what passes for psychology in Undertaker matches. Bradshaw boots him down as they fight up the aisle again, and another shot with the stairs follows. They head over to the hearse and then back down to the ring again, where JBL comes in via a flying shoulderblock from the top. Neckbreaker, but Bradshaw goes after him in a contrived position that allows Taker to use his dreaded triangle choke on him. Bradshaw taps, but of course there’s no submissions here. I know that because I tapped out about 5 minutes in, but the match kept going anyway. So JBL is out and Taker then wakes him up and slugs him down and out again, and they fight over by the table again. Taker really wants that table to break or something. Bradshaw, however, once again uses the POWER OF THE STAIRS to foil his plans. What a strange match. Bradshaw tries a piledriver on the stairs, but Taker reverses out of it and clubs him into the front row. So UT slowly hammers on JBL in the carefully designated Impromptu Brawling Area, and they fight back to ringside again. Back to the stairs as Taker tombstones him on them, and JBL starts bleeding, which seems to be the defining trait of his title reign thus far. If in doubt, bleed. (Go with what you know.) JBL uses a chair to hold off UT, and then hits him with a monitor. Back to the table again, but UT chokeslams Bradshaw through the Spanish table. Been there, done that. And now they head back to the hearse again, with UT thankfully carrying him instead of just leading him by the hair like would usually occur, but Heidenreich pops out of the hearse, just like with every other dumb gimmick match. He pounds on Taker and chokes him down with ether (yes, ETHER, in 2004) and locks him in the hearse, which you’d think would give Bradshaw the win, but NO, Taker can even no-sell ether, and he breaks out. The Clothesline from Heck puts Taker down, and they throw him back in the hearse again, and that’s enough to finish at 21:08. “I cannot believe this match!” Cole declares. That’s because it’s NOT BELIEVEABLE. *1/4 Usual slow brawl from Undertaker and blood from JBL leading to the cliché gimmick finish. And then, backstage, Heidenreich drives a truck into the hearse. And so UT is dead. Again. I hear James Andrews prescribed 6-8 weeks of rehab and some Tylenol for that. (We came dangerously, DANGEROUSLY close to Undertaker v. Heidenreich at Wrestlemania 21 instead of Orton. SLEEP TIGHT! AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) The Bottom Line: A fairly enjoyable B-show up until the god-awful main event, with every cheap brawling trick from 1998 and a finish right out of 1996 to cap it off, which pretty much dragged this one down from a thumbs up to a thumbs down in one fell swoop, since there was nothing else on the show to go out of your way to see anyway. And not many did, as the show did 180,000 buys, thus setting a new record low for WWE PPVs. Congratulations, JBL! (They WISH the B-Shows were doing 180K domestic these days.) Thumbs down.