The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the FUCK?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously fucked up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this shit, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously fucked up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this shit, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously fucked up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this shit, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously fucked up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this shit, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously fucked up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this shit, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

UFC Questions

            First off, thanks for getting me into UFC. I never cared for it for the longest time, just saw it as a three round hugging match. I used to love wrestling, still do I guess I just can’t watch the current product. I actually haven’t been a regular viewer since 2002 but after I read your Benoit book, it got me back into wrestling full force. This probably wasn’t your intention seeing as the book had such a negative vibe towards the business. So then I went to Amazon and purchased your other four books, and have read them all twice. Something about the breezy shooting the shit way you write really reminds me of me and my cousin watching wrestling and heckling/commentating on it. But, as I stated before I just can’t watch the current product, so my DVD wrestling collection has become huge as the only way I get my fix is by watching the classic matches. Reading the retro rants are also a lot of fun, which brings me to my UFC questions.

I decided one day to read through some of your Rants on UFC starting at number one. After having read the first ten I went on Amazon and ordered the first eight UFC’s and enjoyed them immensely. I love how in the early ones you could have a good fight or a one sided fight and they were both entertaining as hell. Maybe i’m just mean but I love watching fighters like Paul Varelans get to the rounds to be lambs to the slaughter for a Tank Abbott or worse a Don Frye. Like watching a crash test dummy, and knowing it’s about to have a really bad day. Man I miss those old shows, wish they would have gone on longer. First question. 1. Are you going to rant some more UFC? Either taking off from where you stopped or doing some of the big shows in UFC’s history?

I enjoyed doing them well enough, but it was the kind of writing where I needed to be paid for proper motivation.  I found UFC a lot harder to be self-sustaining as a writer, whereas wrestling tends to give me endless stupid shit to go off on during slow spots. 

2. Who’s your favorite fighter of all time?

Brock Lesnar.  Watching him fight was the kind of emotional connection for me as a fan that I imagine people had watching Hulk Hogan in the 80s.  Second place goes to Mirko Cro Cop for knocking dudes the fuck out. 

3. Who’s your favorite current fighter?

Jon Jones.  He’s gonna dominate forever and I was on the love train from the Matt Hamill DQ loss onwards. 

4. Have you watched any Pride? and if so any chance a rant on some of those matches? (I got the Pride open weight GP from 2000 for Xmas and it was pretty epic.)

Oh yeah, Pride was a big favorite among the wrestling crowd I hung with.  I was around for the whole Cro Cop / Fedor / Nog three-way feud that dominated the heavyweight title and it was great stuff. 

Last but not least, how awsome is the new Swamp Thing right now? I consider myself a pretty big cape and tights guy, but goddamn I love that comic like I love my children.

It is indeed pretty awesome and he’s not even Swamp Thing yet.  Scott Snyder is a demented genius and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. 

Also you need to get the new WWE 12 game. They haven’t fixed everything in univerese mode but they have fixed a lot of it. Do you download the CAW’s for your WWE 11 game? That’s pretty much the way I play it, I don’t like most of the current crop of guys so I bring in all the classic guys from the 80’s and 90’s. We’ll I have bothered you enough for one email, take care man.

Once it gets reasonably priced, like $20 used at Gamestop or $30 on Xbox Live on Demand, I’ll pick it up, fear not. 

UFC Questions

            First off, thanks for getting me into UFC. I never cared for it for the longest time, just saw it as a three round hugging match. I used to love wrestling, still do I guess I just can’t watch the current product. I actually haven’t been a regular viewer since 2002 but after I read your Benoit book, it got me back into wrestling full force. This probably wasn’t your intention seeing as the book had such a negative vibe towards the business. So then I went to Amazon and purchased your other four books, and have read them all twice. Something about the breezy shooting the shit way you write really reminds me of me and my cousin watching wrestling and heckling/commentating on it. But, as I stated before I just can’t watch the current product, so my DVD wrestling collection has become huge as the only way I get my fix is by watching the classic matches. Reading the retro rants are also a lot of fun, which brings me to my UFC questions.

I decided one day to read through some of your Rants on UFC starting at number one. After having read the first ten I went on Amazon and ordered the first eight UFC’s and enjoyed them immensely. I love how in the early ones you could have a good fight or a one sided fight and they were both entertaining as hell. Maybe i’m just mean but I love watching fighters like Paul Varelans get to the rounds to be lambs to the slaughter for a Tank Abbott or worse a Don Frye. Like watching a crash test dummy, and knowing it’s about to have a really bad day. Man I miss those old shows, wish they would have gone on longer. First question. 1. Are you going to rant some more UFC? Either taking off from where you stopped or doing some of the big shows in UFC’s history?

I enjoyed doing them well enough, but it was the kind of writing where I needed to be paid for proper motivation.  I found UFC a lot harder to be self-sustaining as a writer, whereas wrestling tends to give me endless stupid shit to go off on during slow spots. 

2. Who’s your favorite fighter of all time?

Brock Lesnar.  Watching him fight was the kind of emotional connection for me as a fan that I imagine people had watching Hulk Hogan in the 80s.  Second place goes to Mirko Cro Cop for knocking dudes the fuck out. 

3. Who’s your favorite current fighter?

Jon Jones.  He’s gonna dominate forever and I was on the love train from the Matt Hamill DQ loss onwards. 

4. Have you watched any Pride? and if so any chance a rant on some of those matches? (I got the Pride open weight GP from 2000 for Xmas and it was pretty epic.)

Oh yeah, Pride was a big favorite among the wrestling crowd I hung with.  I was around for the whole Cro Cop / Fedor / Nog three-way feud that dominated the heavyweight title and it was great stuff. 

Last but not least, how awsome is the new Swamp Thing right now? I consider myself a pretty big cape and tights guy, but goddamn I love that comic like I love my children.

It is indeed pretty awesome and he’s not even Swamp Thing yet.  Scott Snyder is a demented genius and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. 

Also you need to get the new WWE 12 game. They haven’t fixed everything in univerese mode but they have fixed a lot of it. Do you download the CAW’s for your WWE 11 game? That’s pretty much the way I play it, I don’t like most of the current crop of guys so I bring in all the classic guys from the 80’s and 90’s. We’ll I have bothered you enough for one email, take care man.

Once it gets reasonably priced, like $20 used at Gamestop or $30 on Xbox Live on Demand, I’ll pick it up, fear not. 

UFC Questions

            First off, thanks for getting me into UFC. I never cared for it for the longest time, just saw it as a three round hugging match. I used to love wrestling, still do I guess I just can’t watch the current product. I actually haven’t been a regular viewer since 2002 but after I read your Benoit book, it got me back into wrestling full force. This probably wasn’t your intention seeing as the book had such a negative vibe towards the business. So then I went to Amazon and purchased your other four books, and have read them all twice. Something about the breezy shooting the shit way you write really reminds me of me and my cousin watching wrestling and heckling/commentating on it. But, as I stated before I just can’t watch the current product, so my DVD wrestling collection has become huge as the only way I get my fix is by watching the classic matches. Reading the retro rants are also a lot of fun, which brings me to my UFC questions.

I decided one day to read through some of your Rants on UFC starting at number one. After having read the first ten I went on Amazon and ordered the first eight UFC’s and enjoyed them immensely. I love how in the early ones you could have a good fight or a one sided fight and they were both entertaining as hell. Maybe i’m just mean but I love watching fighters like Paul Varelans get to the rounds to be lambs to the slaughter for a Tank Abbott or worse a Don Frye. Like watching a crash test dummy, and knowing it’s about to have a really bad day. Man I miss those old shows, wish they would have gone on longer. First question. 1. Are you going to rant some more UFC? Either taking off from where you stopped or doing some of the big shows in UFC’s history?

I enjoyed doing them well enough, but it was the kind of writing where I needed to be paid for proper motivation.  I found UFC a lot harder to be self-sustaining as a writer, whereas wrestling tends to give me endless stupid shit to go off on during slow spots. 

2. Who’s your favorite fighter of all time?

Brock Lesnar.  Watching him fight was the kind of emotional connection for me as a fan that I imagine people had watching Hulk Hogan in the 80s.  Second place goes to Mirko Cro Cop for knocking dudes the fuck out. 

3. Who’s your favorite current fighter?

Jon Jones.  He’s gonna dominate forever and I was on the love train from the Matt Hamill DQ loss onwards. 

4. Have you watched any Pride? and if so any chance a rant on some of those matches? (I got the Pride open weight GP from 2000 for Xmas and it was pretty epic.)

Oh yeah, Pride was a big favorite among the wrestling crowd I hung with.  I was around for the whole Cro Cop / Fedor / Nog three-way feud that dominated the heavyweight title and it was great stuff. 

Last but not least, how awsome is the new Swamp Thing right now? I consider myself a pretty big cape and tights guy, but goddamn I love that comic like I love my children.

It is indeed pretty awesome and he’s not even Swamp Thing yet.  Scott Snyder is a demented genius and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. 

Also you need to get the new WWE 12 game. They haven’t fixed everything in univerese mode but they have fixed a lot of it. Do you download the CAW’s for your WWE 11 game? That’s pretty much the way I play it, I don’t like most of the current crop of guys so I bring in all the classic guys from the 80’s and 90’s. We’ll I have bothered you enough for one email, take care man.

Once it gets reasonably priced, like $20 used at Gamestop or $30 on Xbox Live on Demand, I’ll pick it up, fear not. 

UFC Questions

            First off, thanks for getting me into UFC. I never cared for it for the longest time, just saw it as a three round hugging match. I used to love wrestling, still do I guess I just can’t watch the current product. I actually haven’t been a regular viewer since 2002 but after I read your Benoit book, it got me back into wrestling full force. This probably wasn’t your intention seeing as the book had such a negative vibe towards the business. So then I went to Amazon and purchased your other four books, and have read them all twice. Something about the breezy shooting the shit way you write really reminds me of me and my cousin watching wrestling and heckling/commentating on it. But, as I stated before I just can’t watch the current product, so my DVD wrestling collection has become huge as the only way I get my fix is by watching the classic matches. Reading the retro rants are also a lot of fun, which brings me to my UFC questions.

I decided one day to read through some of your Rants on UFC starting at number one. After having read the first ten I went on Amazon and ordered the first eight UFC’s and enjoyed them immensely. I love how in the early ones you could have a good fight or a one sided fight and they were both entertaining as hell. Maybe i’m just mean but I love watching fighters like Paul Varelans get to the rounds to be lambs to the slaughter for a Tank Abbott or worse a Don Frye. Like watching a crash test dummy, and knowing it’s about to have a really bad day. Man I miss those old shows, wish they would have gone on longer. First question. 1. Are you going to rant some more UFC? Either taking off from where you stopped or doing some of the big shows in UFC’s history?

I enjoyed doing them well enough, but it was the kind of writing where I needed to be paid for proper motivation.  I found UFC a lot harder to be self-sustaining as a writer, whereas wrestling tends to give me endless stupid shit to go off on during slow spots. 

2. Who’s your favorite fighter of all time?

Brock Lesnar.  Watching him fight was the kind of emotional connection for me as a fan that I imagine people had watching Hulk Hogan in the 80s.  Second place goes to Mirko Cro Cop for knocking dudes the fuck out. 

3. Who’s your favorite current fighter?

Jon Jones.  He’s gonna dominate forever and I was on the love train from the Matt Hamill DQ loss onwards. 

4. Have you watched any Pride? and if so any chance a rant on some of those matches? (I got the Pride open weight GP from 2000 for Xmas and it was pretty epic.)

Oh yeah, Pride was a big favorite among the wrestling crowd I hung with.  I was around for the whole Cro Cop / Fedor / Nog three-way feud that dominated the heavyweight title and it was great stuff. 

Last but not least, how awsome is the new Swamp Thing right now? I consider myself a pretty big cape and tights guy, but goddamn I love that comic like I love my children.

It is indeed pretty awesome and he’s not even Swamp Thing yet.  Scott Snyder is a demented genius and I wish to subscribe to his newsletter. 

Also you need to get the new WWE 12 game. They haven’t fixed everything in univerese mode but they have fixed a lot of it. Do you download the CAW’s for your WWE 11 game? That’s pretty much the way I play it, I don’t like most of the current crop of guys so I bring in all the classic guys from the 80’s and 90’s. We’ll I have bothered you enough for one email, take care man.

Once it gets reasonably priced, like $20 used at Gamestop or $30 on Xbox Live on Demand, I’ll pick it up, fear not.