Quantcast

October Countdown: WWE No Mercy 2003

The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2003 – Geez, you’re a FEW days late with a rant…  (Joke there being that this wasn’t posted until a few months into 2004, as I was visiting family and didn’t have the motivation to do the rant until I was able to track down the DVD months later.)  – Live from Baltimore, MD. – Your hosts are Cole & Tazz. – Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Tajiri v. Rey Mysterio. Lockup to start and they fight over that, and they both hit the floor and head right back in. They exchange low kicks, and back to the lockup. Rey takes him down with an armdrag and then goes after the leg on the mat, but Tajiri reverses to an armbar. Rey flips out of it, but Tajiri chops him down and goes behind in order to pound him down. Rey escapes a suplex and gets an armdrag, then dropkicks the knee and blocks the handspring elbow with a dropkick that sends Tajiri out. Rey follows with a pescado, and back in with a try at Eddie’s springboard wristlock, but Tajiri drops him on the top rope, and then sends him into the post. Back in, that gets two. Tajiri stays on the arm and kicks Rey down on the mat, and he goes back to the arm. Rey fights back with the springboard wristlock, but now Tajiri kicks him down with a high kick and a spinkick for two. Back to the arm, and a kick to the shoulder gets two. Tajiri pounds the arm and takes him to the top, but Rey comes down with a tornado DDT for two. Cross body gets two. Crucifix into a sunset flip, but Tajiri blocks for two, and Rey reverses that for two. Tajiri catapults Rey over the top, but he hangs on and takes Tajiri out with a bodyscissors. He follows with a rana off the apron. Back in, Rey misses a springboard, and Tajiri tosses him, but Rey reverses the momentum into a 619, leaving Tajiri loopy. West Coast Pop is blocked with a powerbomb for two. Rey reverses him into the corner and charges, then alley-oops over with a moonsault press for two. Tajiri kicks him down again, into the Tarantula, but Rey ducks the Big Kick and they reverse into a seated dropkick from Rey. Rey catapults him into the 619, and the West Coast Pop gets nothing as Tajiri’s future cohorts run in to break up the count, and the Big Kick finishes for Tajiri at 11:40. Good match, horrible finish. It was an interesting blend of the “new style” mat-based stuff and the traditional lucha stuff, but it didn’t feel like it clicked 100% *** – Meanwhile, Vince shares pathos over having to beat up his daughter later tonight. Hey, I’m okay with it.  (2003 was not my favorite year.)  – A-Train v. Chris Benoit. Who would have thought back then that this feud would be the precursor to Benoit actually winning the big one? Train talks trash in the corner to start, so Benoit pounds away, but gets overpowered and bails. Back in, Train takes him down and out again. Back in, Benoit dodges him and starts chopping, but can’t get the german suplex and Train powers him into the corner and pounds him with knees. Benoit fights back, but runs into an elbow. They slug it out in the corner and Train misses a charge, allowing Benoit to fire away again and start chopping. Train clubs him down, into a splash for two. Benoit takes him down into the corner, but walks into a bicycle kick that gets two for Train. Into the corner for more CLUBBING FOREARMS until Benoit drops. He catapults him under the middle rope, but Benoit fights from his back. Train drags him out to the middle and smacks him around, into the forward butterfly suplex for two. Benoit fights back and goes for the knee, but Train clubs him down again. Into a surfboard, but Benoit fights out and gets a DDT, and both are out. Train reverses a suplex attempt into his own german suplex, and he tosses Benoit. Into the railing and back into the ring, but Train grabs a chair because he’s a BAD PERSON. Benoit fights him off, but Train presses him and then loses his grip and drops Benoit on his head, on the chair. Thankfully, he survived. Train sets up the chair in the corner, but Benoit keeps coming, rolling Train into the crossface. Train counters up, so Benoit hits him with the rolling germans. Cole wonders how he can do that after falling on his head. Because he’s CHRIS FUCKING BENOIT, you wank. (Obviously in the long run falling on his head and then doing repeated german suplexes wasn’t the best idea.)  Benoit goes up and gets slammed off, and Train clotheslines him before going up himself. He changes his mind and gets the Derailer for two instead. He kicks the chair by mistake, and Benoit takes him down into the Sharpshooter for the submission at 12:19. Too long, but Benoit sells a beating really well. ** – Zach Gowen v. Matt Hardy. Boy, did THIS one end up looking stupid in retrospect, and probably destroyed Matt’s career. Matt Facts: He cannot be grossed out, and he’s survived five car wrecks. I bet Jeff was driving during all of them. (HO HO, remember when JEFF was considered the dangerous driver out of them?) Matt takes him into the corner to start, but Gowen gets a pair of leg lariats. Matt slams him and puts him on top, but Gowen comes down with a bulldog for two. Shannon Moore trips him up and Matt stomps away and works him over in the corner, into a corner clothesline, and a lariat that puts Zach on the floor. Matt steps on his head and brings him in for two. Legdrop gets two. Vertical suplex into a surfboard, but Zach fights out, so Matt stomps him down again. Matt goes up and misses a moonsault, and Zach comes back with a dropkick that puts Matt on the floor, and Gowen follows with a somersault plancha. Back in, high cross gets two. He walks into the Side Effect, however, and Matt gets two. Zach goes up and gets crotched, and Matt tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Gowen blocks and gets the moonsault for the pin at 5:31. Gowen was fired two months later and I don’t think he even appeared on TV again after this. To this day I have no idea why the finish was Hardy doing a clean job. *  (I wouldn’t say this specifically destroyed Matt’s career anymore, as he did a fine job of doing that himself, but it sure didn’t do him any favors.)  – The APA v. The Basham Brothers. Bradshaw pounds away in the corner to start on Doug and overpowers him, and Faarooq comes in for some double-teaming. Back elbow gets two. Powerslam and he fights off Danny and clubs him, too, and the APA get the double spinebuster on him. Bradshaw drops an elbow for two, and the APA get a double shoulderblock for two. Danny kicks Faarooq down off a jawbreaker and Doug comes in, but gets pounded on the floor by Bradshaw. Back in, Faarooq with the Dominator attempt, but the Bashams sneak in with a double-suplex that gets two for Danny. They work Faarooq over in the corner and get another double-suplex, and that gets two for Danny. Back to the corner, as Doug switches in and chokes away, then hits the chinlock. Faarooq fights out, but Danny drops an elbow for two. Back to the chinlock, but Faarooq escapes and gets a spinebuster. Hot tag Bradshaw and he’s a REPUBLICAN ON FIRE, powerbombing Doug for two. He tosses Doug and gets the blockbuster slam on Danny, and another one on Doug. That gets two. The ref is bumped, which is JUST what this match needed, and Shaniqua runs in and clubs Bradshaw, giving Doug the pin at 8:54. This went on forever. ¾* The Bashams won the tag titles two days later from Los Guerreros.  (Doug and Danny Basham was a horribly misguided push attempt.  And then both guys ended up out of the business.)  – I Quit match: Vince McMahon v. Stephanie McMahon. The buildup and promotion of this match was some of the most intelligence-insulting, arduous crap that the promotion that has ever put out, and that’s saying something. This match was promoted above all the others, and the result was a buyrate rivaling the lowest of all time.  (Remember, Vince in moderation = ratings, but anything beyond that gives you THIS.)  Anything that requires Linda to act is asking for trouble. Vince attacks Steph from behind, but she tries a sleeper, so Vince puts her down again. She dodges him, but Vince knocks her down again and hairtosses her. Into the corner, as Vince works her over with shoulders and chokes her out on the ropes. Linda tries chasing Sable away, but Vince intervenes. Back in, Steph kicks at him to come back, but Vince clotheslines her. Into a half-crab. Ever notice that Steph and Vince dress like mirror images of each other, down to the all-black color scheme and elbow pads? Kinda creepy. (KINDA creepy?  HELLA CREEPY.)  Vince surfboards her while Stephanie flexes her acting muscles and sells it. Sable brings in a pipe, but Linda trips her up, so Vince goes after her and gets hit with a low blow by Stephanie as a result. She hits him with the pipe and gets two. Vince begs off, but Steph hits him with the pipe in exaggerated manner a few times, and gets two. She goes after Sable, and sends Vince into her, setting up a bulldog for two. Vince catches her and chokes her down, then beats her down with the pipe. Well, spare the rod, spoil the child. He chokes her out with it, and Linda throws in the towel at 9:21. Because you have to keep Stephanie strong, you see. (I think they seriously believed that, actually.)  This was all silly and cartoonish and worked within the context of what they were doing, but in the end it was just an excuse to give Stephanie another banishment from TV “forever” and didn’t make a bit of difference to anyone watching, nor did it draw a dime or have any effect on anyone who COULD draw money. * In fact, the whole plot with Sable and Linda went nowhere, and was completely forgotten a month later. – Kurt Angle v. John Cena. Hard to believe, but Cena was the heel and Angle was the face here. That dynamic seems so bizarre considering how easily they fit into the opposite roles. They fight over a lockup to start and Angle takes him down with a headlock, as Cole notes that “Cena cannot get into a quote-unquote wrestling match with Kurt Angle”. I’m so confused as to what I’ve been watching. (Sports entertainment, of course!)  Angle takes him down with an armdrag, but Cena grabs a headlock and overpowers Angle, but Kurt comes right back with a series of armdrags. Angle gives some disrespect to Cena and fires away with punches, then gets a back elbow for two. He slugs away in the corner, but Cena catches him with a clothesline for two. Angle backdrops him for two, and slugs him down again, as the crowd seems torn on who to cheer for. Angle spears him with a shoulderblock in the corner and starts chopping, but misses a charge and hits the post, ending up on the floor. Cena sends him back in for a clothesline and a corner clothesline, into a neckbreaker for two. He stomps away and elbows him down for two. Into a double chickenwing on the mat as Angle’s mouth starts to bleed, but Angle counters out before running into a knee. Backdrop suplex gets two. Into the facelock, but Angle fights out and slugs away. He walks into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, however, and that gets two for Cena. Cena goes up, but gets caught with the Pop-Up Superplex, which Cena blocks. He tries a high cross, but Angle dropkicks the knee on the way down. Good sequence. Angle fires away and gets a flying forearm and clotheslines to make the comeback. Russian legsweep gets two. Cole notes that if you give Angle the big opening, he’ll drive right through. Rob Feinstein operates the same way. (Now to be fair, RF was never actually CHARGED with anything.  But that sort of technicality has never stopped me before.)  Angle goes for the anklelock, but Cena makes the ropes, so Angle baseball slides him to the floor. Back in, Cena catches him with a necksnap and they slug it out on the apron, where Angle teases the german suplex and Cena reverses to a DDT on the apron. Angle comes in, but gets caught with a guillotine legdrop coming in, which gives Cena two. Angle comes back with the rolling germans, but Cena dropkicks the knee, into the Throwback for two. Blind charge misses and Angle rolls him up for two. More germans from Angle get two. Angle slugs away in the corner, but Cena goes for a piledriver, but Angle keeps dropping down to block. Cena fires off knees to put him down and follows with a corner clothesline, and that allows a powerbomb into the corner. That’s so sick. That gets two. Gotta wonder why he never worked that into his regular arsenal. F-U gets two. Another one is countered to the Angle Slam, however, and that gets two. Cena grabs the chain, but it’s just a distraction while he uses Angle’s medals, and that gets two. I will go to my grave believing that should have been the finish. Another try at the F-U is reversed to a backslide for two. Angle Slam is reversed to another F-U, but Angle reverses to the anklelock for the submission at 18:27. Time and perspective would have meant Cena goes over, I’m pretty sure, but at the time they went with Angle and Cena didn’t end up too hurt by it. (Cena did OK for himself afterwards.)  Didn’t like it as much the second time around, as the good parts were very obviously Angle carrying things, but Cena more than held his own otherwise. ***3/4 – US title: Eddie Guerrero v. Big Show. This is another one where they’d probably change the result in retrospect if they could. (There was a lot of that sort of second-guessing at this point.)  Eddie goes after the knee to start, but Show tries to overpower him, so Eddie slugs away. He walks into a clothesline, however. Show headbutts him down and uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS before stepping on him. Eddie dodges a charge and pulls Show out of the ring, then distracts the ref with a chair before using a garbage can lid on him. Why was THAT under the ring, anyway? Eddie keeps slugging and chops Show in the corner, but that just annoys him. Eddie wisely backs off and heads outside, but gets tossed into the post as a result. Show tosses him back in and sits on his back, hitting the chinlock off that. Show keeps pounding the back and he loosens a turnbuckle, whipping Eddie’s back into it. Eddie fights back and the ref gets bumped, so Eddie pulls an international object out of his tights, nailing Show with it. That gets two. Next plan, as Eddie grabs the title and puts Show down with it, setting up the frog splash for two. Eddie charges and runs into a spinebuster, which gets two. Show chokeslams him for two. Another one is blocked with a low blow, and Eddie DDTs him for two. Another chokeslam finishes at 11:27, killing the crowd. Show would of course go on to defend the title a grand total of 3 times during the course of a SIX MONTH title reign. (Still better than Santino.)  This match made no sense on a number of levels, and Show just wasn’t the guy to help Eddie reach the top. ** – Smackdown World title, chain-on-a-pole match: Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker. (So yeah, a year later and we’re right back to this match again.  No wonder Brock wanted out.) Michael Cole says it’s ironic that Stephanie made this match as GM, which led to her match with Vince where she lost the GM title. So, how is that ironic, exactly? (Like rain on your wedding day.)  Undertaker slugs away to start and goes for the arm, and they struggle in the corner. Brock misses a charge and Taker works the arm again, but Brock slugs out of that and hammers him in the corner. Taker boots him down, and the legdrop gets two. UT with the ROPEWALK OF DOOM and La Majastral for two. They brawl out and Taker elbows him off the apron, but Brock fires back with knees to the gut and sends UT into the stairs. Back in, Brock slugs away and throws elbows in the corner, into a Perfectplex for two. Brock slowly stomps him in the corner, but Taker fights back, only to miss a charge to the corner…and Brock stomps him down again. Taker necksnaps him, but Brock sends him into the railing and they fight on the floor. Back in, Taker catches him with an elbow, and the flying clothesline for two. Brock comes back with a knee to the gut, but Taker hotshots him. He makes the first attempt at getting the chain, but the lights go out. And nothing happens. Taker fights off Brock, but gets powerslammed. Brock brings the stairs in, but Taker headbutts him down again and stomps away in the corner. Brock whips him into the stairs, however. Taker comes back and clotheslines Brock to the floor, where he piledrives him on the remaining half of the stairs. The crowd gives that a perfunctory “Holy shit” chant. Taker climbs for the chain again, but Brock stops him, so UT puts him in something vaguely resembling a triangle choke, and they head back in. Brock goes low, and uses the stairs for two. Another charge with the stairs, but UT boots him down again and charges with them. Brock ducks and the stairs end up on the floor again, and Brock pounds UT with shoulders in the corner. He goes for the chain, but Taker brings him down with an attempt at the Last Ride, which Brock counters with a clothesline. It’s a duel of fisticuffsmanship, and Taker gets the corner clothesline, setting up Snake Eyes and a big boot. You know, Kevin Nash can always rest easy knowing that he added Snake Eyes to the wrestling vernacular. Brock counters the chokeslam with the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. Taker gets the “triangle choke”, with about 8 inches of air, so Brock counters with a slam. Clothesline from Brock, but Taker catches him with the dragon sleeper. Brock counters to the F5, which gets two. No one buys these near-falls because the chain hasn’t come into play, though. Speaking of which, Brock takes the moment to go for the chain again, but Taker chokeslams him from the top. And instead of going for the pin, which would be SMART, Taker climbs for the chain, but now the FBI run in and attack him. Boy, did THAT ever help out their careers. Taker gets rid of them as though they were jobbers (I know, that’s a stretch) and powerbombs Brock, but AGAIN chooses not to go for the pin. He stops to hit the FBI with the tope con hilo, but why would you bother if you’ve got the title won? Nunzio tries to get the chain and gets sent to the floor by Taker, who DOES get the chain, finally bringing it into play 25 minutes into this snoozefest, but now Vince McMahon comes out and shoves him off the top, allowing Brock to use the chain for the pin at 24:16. Ridiculously anti-climactic finish to a boring match. This set up not any kind of money-drawing program for Brock, but a gimmick match between Vince and Undertaker. No wonder Brock got tired of it all and left. (Hey, I just made that point at the top of this match, jerk.)  Long and dull and LONG. **1/4 The Bottom Line: Time has left this show in the dust, as it bombed critically and financially, and showed just how wrong the direction of the company really was at that point. The crowd was dead after Angle-Cena because they had nothing to follow it, and the “I Quit” match ended up meaning not a thing, as no one misses Stephanie and Heyman ended up doing a more effective job in the same role. The Cena match is good, but not worth getting the DVD for. Recommendation to avoid.  (Yeah, that’s an understatement.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 2003

The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2003 Ah, my loyal readers…

Hey asshole you wonder why your fucking readership isn’t as large as it once was, why don’t you stop being a fat lazy faggot and post your piece of shit recaps quickly you fucking bastard…where the fuck is it? i don’t want to read any other goddamn recaps as i dont want to give hits to dick licking faggots like that fat mexican who runs your old message board, so p9ost your shit fag

That’s from [email protected], for those who wonder if people this dumb really do exist. But hey, who am I to argue with an eloquently-written letter like that one?  (He’s been working for the WWE writing team for two years now, I believe.)  – Live from Phoenix, AZ. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz. – Opening match, RAW tag titles: La Resistance v. The Dudley Boyz. Interesting sidenote: The Dudleyz are introduced as being from New York City. What, is Dudleyville shut down for the summer or something?  (DON’T YOU KNOW WHO HE IS?  HE’S FROM NEW YORK CITY!) D-Von hammers on Dupree in the corner to start and chokes him out with his own Sgt. Pepper coat. Clothesline and armdrag, but he gets caught in the French corner. He comes back with a shoulderblock on Grenier and a legdrop, but without a big boot it’s only worth two. Bubba comes in and slugs away, and then does the Tommy Dreamer nut stomp in the corner. Elbow and Bubba fights off both champs, and the Dudleyz clean house. Back in, he slugs Dupree down, but a cheapshot turns the tide and Dupree gets a backdrop suplex and elbow for two. They get a double shoulderblock as JR, trying for any bit of hyperbole, notes that he hasn’t ever seen quite this level of crowd participation at a Summerslam. Well, off-hand I’d say that the 80-some thousand at Wembley for Summerslam 92 were louder. But then you get into mathematical measurement of “pop per crowd member” and really no one wants that. (Herb Kunze would have been INTO IT.  He once did a mathematical breakdown of big splashes and the effect of torque therein.)  Dupree grabs a bearhug, but D-Von breaks it up. Bubbabomb on Grenier, hot tag D-Von. Backdrop and neckbreaker, and Grenier gets tossed. Powerslam on Dupree gets two. D-Von gets a clothesline, and heel miscommunication gives him two. La Resistance get a chokeslam for two. The Dudleyz regroup and it’s BONZO GONZO to set up the Whazzup Drop on Grenier and 3D on Dupree. It gets two, as Grenier misses his cue and barely makes the save. An Evil Photographer runs in, nails D-Von with his camera, and Dupree gets the pin to retain at 7:49. It is of course Rob Conway, who still doesn’t have a name but appears to be playing a character swiped from Master of Disguise. Match was basic RAW stuff and why these goofs get a PPV slot and The World’s Greatest Tag Team sit at home is beyond me. *1/2  (Because Grenier had connections with Pat Patterson.)  – On the way out, Coach foreshadows his later involvement by praising La Resistance’s effectiveness. – Meanwhile, Christian asks Bischoff for a spot backing him up later, but Bischoff has his own plan. – Undertaker v. A-Train. They fight over a lockup to start and Train grabs a headlock. He misses an elbow and goes back to the headlock. Taker comes back with a Russian legsweep for two. He pounds away in the corner, but runs into an elbow and Train unleashes CLUBBING FOREARMS~! UT gets a DDT for two, however. Even after CLUBBING FOREARMS? Dean would be shocked. Taker starts on the arm, and then gets the flying clothesline instead. ROPEWALK OF DOOM and he charges, but ends up on the floor as a result. Train drives him into the post and gets two. Train stomps away on the ribs and chokes him out as the blistering pace of the match continues. Well, it’s blistering in that it’s about as pleasant as leaving your hand on a stovetop. Train gets a suplex for two and slugs away, but Taker elbows back. Taker grabs the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, but gets suplexed. Taker slugs away again and barely gets Snake Eyes, but they clothesline each other and both guys are out. So how do you tell the difference between that and the regular pace of the match? They slug it out again as the crowd doesn’t even buy A-Train’s PUNCHES as having a chance against Taker, and indeed UT gets the big boot and legdrop for two. Well, perhaps it also requires three punches and shaking the head. It’s a theory in progress. (Random note:  I was annoyed that older Hogan got so lazy that he shortened the Hulk-Up spot to skip about half of it, basically proceeding directly from the cheek-puffing to the big comeback.  That’s the ONE part of his nostalgia act that requires no energy expended on his part and he can’t even do THAT right anymore!)  UT guillotines him on the apron and gets a pair of corner clotheslines, but the ref is bumped. The REF IS BUMPED? In THIS match? Mehshugganator gets two. The ref is bumped AGAIN and Train gets the bicycle kick, allowing Train to get a chair. Taker kicks it back in his face, however, and gets two. Tombstone is escaped, but a chokeslam isn’t, and Taker gets the pin at 9:19. You see, Taker is bound for the main event again, so he has to be kept strong. Once again, you only hear that justification for one person in the WWE, and that’s him. (Well, and HHH.  I’m drawing a blank on where Undertaker ended up from here, actually.  Didn’t he end up against Vince McMahon at Survivor Series in that god-awful Buried Alive match?)  Super dull match. * Afterwards, Sable hits on him because he’s so feral and big and evil and stuff, but he shrugs her off and Stephanie comes out to get her revenge before Train makes the save. From STEPHANIE. Well, there’s your next main event program. Apparently Stephanie has forgiven Undertaker for the whole kidnapping and dark wedding thing. Well, it’s good that people can grow and forgive. (I grew and forgave Undertaker mostly!)  – Coach interviews some rubes at ringside to establish his presence there. – Eric Bischoff v. Shane McMahon. You know, using Jerry Lawler logic, I’m shocked they’d give this match away for a mere $34.95 instead of saving it for Wrestlemania. I bet when Lawler is at one of those fictional airports with Bobby Heenan talking to fans who are gathered around watercoolers, this match tops the list of things they’re buying the show to see, and they’ll probably call their friends during the PPV to tell them to order it mid-show. Shane slugs away in the corner to start, and then crossfaces him like a UFC veteran (unfortunately, that veteran is Tank Abbott), sending Bischoff fleeing. They brawl outside as JR notes that Bischoff’s treatment of Linda was as distasteful as anything he’s ever seen. Man, Bischoff’s quote about wrestling being no place for people with long memories was truer than you thought. (Especially considering Vince’s own quotes on the subject as of late.)  Shane continues beating on Bischoff outside (because Bischoff is a mere black belt in karate, but Shane is a McMahon) and has him at his mercy, when suddenly the awesome power of Coachman lays him out with a steel chair. You know, you may have thought that Hulk Hogan’s heel turn in 1996 shook the industry to its core, but I predict this will rupture the very foundation of wrestling for years to come. Bischoff makes the match falls count anywhere and gets two. They head into the ring, as Coach perfects his heel sneer and Bischoff lays in some kicks. They cut off JR’s mike (YAY!) and Coach does commentary while Bischoff kicks Shane. Coach is pretty funny here doing his JR impression. Shane fights back with a DDT on Bischoff, but Coach goes low on him. Finally Steve Austin does the walk-on to speed things up a bit, and Coach brags about how he can’t hurt him with provocation. So Shane trips Coach and a beating follows. KICK WHAM STUNNER for Bischoff, and Shane puts him on the Spanish announce table and drops the Super Shane Elbow for the pin at 10:33. So apparently the top programs are now Shane & Austin v. Bischoff & Coach, and Stephanie & Undertaker v. A-Train & Sable. I can see why they couldn’t squeeze John Cena into this show – the McMahons’ egos were taking up too much space. 1/2*  (Was this match really a thing?) – US title match: Eddie Guerrero v. Rhyno v. Chris Benoit v. Tajiri. Benoit tosses Tajiri to start, but Rhyno lays him out and stomps away. Short-arm clothesline, but Benoit chops back and takes him down with a crossface. Eddie saves, and then retreats again. Tajiri comes in and drops a knee on Benoit for two. Eddie gets some strategic shots again and escapes again. Rhyno clotheslines Tajiri for two, and again Eddie sneaks in, but this time gets caught by Benoit and slammed, and kicked down by Tajiri. Chops by Benoit, and Tajiri gets two. Rhyno chokes Benoit out in the corner, and then spears Eddie in the other corner. Powerslam gets two. Benoit hits him with a snap suplex for two, then turns his attention to Tajiri with a backdrop suplex. Cole notes that Benoit has had “split-level personalities” as of late. He wants to be a real estate broker? (Wow, that silly joke ended up being very not funny at all.)  Eddie dumps Benoit and Rhyno and chops Tajiri, but gets monkey-flipped. Backbreaker gets two. Rhyno dumps Tajiri and goes after Eddie, but Benoit ruins his fun. So Rhyno charges him into the corner, allowing Eddie to get two. Rhyno superplexes Eddie for two. Tajiri kicks the crap out of him and gets two. He tries the same on Benoit, and then changes up to a handspring elbow for two. Rhyno hits Eddie with a backdrop suplex for two. Eddie comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors on Rhyno and the ropewalk headscissors on Benoit, which gets two. Rhyno breaks it up and chops Eddie down, but Benoit chops Rhyno in turn, only to get forearmed down. Eddie then puts Rhyno on the floor and goes after Tajiri, but gets kicked and recovers with the lasso from El Paso. Rhyno tries to save, but Benoit takes him down with a crossface. Eddie’s facials as he desperately tries to make Tajiri tap are great. Tajiri makes the ropes, so Eddie breaks up the crossface. But that allows Benoit to take HIM down with a crossface until the other two save. Rhyno hits Tajiri with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER for two. Benoit dropkicks Rhyno out of the ring and Tajiri knocks him down with a handspring, but Benoit delivers the rolling germans to Tajiri as a result. Tajiri uses Eddie’s interference to reverse into his own bridged german suplex for two. Tarantula, and while the ref is busy checking that, Eddie uses the belt to block the GOAR GOAR GOAR. Tajiri gets rid of him, but Benoit hangs him in the Tree of Woe and does the diving headbutt over Tajiri, onto Rhyno, for two. Tajiri misses the Big Kick on Benoit, they tumble out, and Eddie sneaks in to finish Rhyno at 10:50. Felt really short and Smackdown-ish. *** They’ve gotta do something with Eddie RIGHT NOW. He’s over, he’s wrestling the matches of his life, and he needs to be elevated before he can be killed off again.  (HOLLA!  I am the best, thank you for asking.)  – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. The Real Brock Lesnar. Brock gives him a clean break to start, but Kurt takes him down with a facelock. They reverse each other and Angle takes him down again with a headlock, which prompts Brock to take a breather. Back to the headlock and Angle hangs on, but Brock kips out of it. Brock overpowers him off a lockup, but Angle shoves him into the corner in response. Angle takes him down with a pair of armdrags and Brock bails and throws a tantrum. So much for Happy Fun Brock. Brock takes a walk with the belt, so Angle attacks him and they brawl down the aisle, and back to ringside, as Angle sends him into the railing and back in. Brock misses a charge and Angle gets the overhead suplex for two. Brock comes back with a nice military press right out of the ring. If Michael Cole uses “lunatic fringe” one more time, I hope Tom Cochrane sues for royalties. Angle meets the stairs and Brock steps on his face. Back in, Brock stomps him down and gets an overhead suplex of his own, hardly even going down himself on the move. That gets two. Brock tries another press, but Angle rolls him up for two. Brock follows through with a backbreaker for two. Brock hooks in a chinlock, and Angle fights free and makes the comeback, but walks into a knee. Brock gets a backbreaker and stomps away in the corner, and chokes him out. Angle fights back with a rollup for two, but Brock clotheslines him down again. Delayed fisherman’s suplex gets two. Brock pounds away in the corner and they do what appears to be an extended planning session there before they slug it out to give Brock advantage again. Brock charges into the ribs in the corner, and amazingly DOESN’T miss. Another try does miss, however, and he hits the post. Angle shoulderblocks him a couple of times to work on the weakened shoulder, and then clips him. Rolling germans further hurt the shoulder, and Angle gets two. Another overhead suplex, and he blocks an Angle Slam with a spinebuster that gets two. They seem to be throwing each other around with abandon tonight. F5 is countered by Angle, but they mess up the spot and Angle lamely drops an elbow for two. Then they break rule #1 of wrestling by repeating the spot, with Angle this time countering to a DDT. That gets two. That would have been edited off Smackdown. Angle pulls down the straps and gets the Angle Slam, but it only gets two. Anklelock, but Brock counters and the ref is bumped. That’s what we needed, more ref bumps. Angle grabs Brock in what appears to be a rimjob, and then thankfully lets go and switches to the anklelock. The ref is still out. Brock taps with no ref, and of course Vince breaks it up with a chair to the back. F5 gets two as a result. Everyone’s shocked, apparently. Vince calls for another one, but Angle takes him down with another anklelock. Brock makes the ropes, but Angle pulls him away. Um, how does that work? Again to the ropes, and again he gets pulled back, which is totally outside of the rules, but Brock taps regardless at 21:19. Kinda oddball booking — building up Brock as a monster killer psycho destroyer for two weeks and then having him tap clean? (Get used to it, Brock.)  Match was good, but I wasn’t digging it as much as Wrestlemania, perhaps because of the ref bumpery and Vince’s involvement. ***1/2 Angle puts Vince through a chair as a birthday present. – Rob Van Dam v. Kane. RVD attacks to start and flips around, but gets clotheslined. JR notes that Rob has to “destroy Kane’s verticality”, and that it’s easier said than done. I wasn’t aware it was even easily said. They brawl out and Rob moonsaults him off the railing. Kane sends him into the post and finds a ladder under the ring (now REALLY, why would you even need a ladder?) and takes forever to bring it in, which allows Rob to see-saw it into his face. Rob gets a missile dropkick as JR notes that Kane may think he’s at Home Depot. Now THAT would be a funny skit. “Show me the plungers or I’LL BURN THIS WHOLE PLACE DOWN!” (Yeah, good look finding someone to help you there.)  They brawl out again and Rob gets tossed around, allowing Kane to do some exterior decorating with the stairs. What is this, Queer Eye for the Pyromaniac?  (Kind of dated joke there.  Maybe I should go with a Mike Holmes reference for a more timeless one.)  Kane searches for Feng Shui? Back in, Rob kicks him into the corner and flips around some more, and a legdrop gets one. Kane tosses him and Rob takes his standard bump into the railing. Kane rams him with the ladder after taking forever to set up the spot, and they head back in where Kane gets two. JR notes that RVD will never quit. Except for when he tapped out twice in 2002 on RAW, both times to lose the I-C title to Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho. So really, it’s more accurate to say he WILL quit, but only in important title matches. Anyway, Kane stomps away and does some choking and stuff. Charge misses and Rob flips around some more, but gets tossed again and takes the same bump to the railing. Kane follows with the flying clothesline, but on the first try slips and nearly breaks his neck. Yes, Kane is another dangerous psycho – the SHOCKMASTER. A second try works better, but he misses and Rob comes back with the ladder. Kane DDTs him on the floor, however. Kane charges with the stairs and gets tripped up, and Rob dropkicks him into the crowd. Rob guillotines him on the railing and grabs a chair, and follows him back into the ring with a spinkick. Rolling Thunder onto a chair, but Kane sits up. Dropkick with the chair sets up a Van Terminator, but Kane apparently moves out of the way, although the camera work was pretty lousy there. Kane tombstones him onto the stairs to finish at 12:51. This was way long and sloppy and was pretty much there to set up Kane for Shane McMahon next month. Kane’s window of hotness was a few weeks ago and the longer they try to use him as a midcard player without shooting him to the top, the colder he’s gonna get. History has shown it. **1/4  (HOLLA AGAIN.  Make all cheques payable to me.)  – RAW World title, Elimination Chamber: HHH v. Randy Orton v. Chris Jericho v. Goldberg v. Kevin Nash v. Shawn Michaels. They don’t even bother to explain the rules this time, which is pretty stupid. Goldberg is so pumped that he slips on the way to the ring. Jericho starts with Michaels in the ring while the other four are locked away. Shawn elbows out of a hammerlock to start, but Jericho rolls through a cross body for two. Shawn backslides him for two. They work off a headlock and into a pinfall reversal sequence (possibly for Flair’s benefit at ringside) and Shawn tries a sunset flip, blocked by Jericho for two, and reversed by Michaels for two. They slug it out and Michaels backdrops him, but Jericho goes for the Walls. Shawn reverses for two. Jericho bulldogs him but misses the Lionsault, and recovers with a clothesline. Again with the goofy title lineage, as JR notes that this title has only changed hands once in Arizona – the Halftime Heat match in 1999. But that’s the WWE title, which is the one held by Angle, not HHH’s made-up belt. They’re totally different things. Randy Orton is in next and dropkicks Shawn out, but gets chopped down by Jericho. Orton takes him down with a neckbreaker for two. Jericho with an enzuigiri on Shawn for two. Orton dropkicks him down and stomps away. He sets up for the RKO, but gets backdropped out and Jericho stomps away. JR notes that with flesh on steel, steel wins. I’d like to see Yu-Gi-Oh cards to back that assertion up. Jericho gets the Walls on Shawn as Big Blondie is next in, and he slugs everyone down. Jericho gets speared into the cage a few times and eats COLD, UNFORGIVING STEEL. Sideslam on Orton gets two. Short-arm clothesline on Shawn gets two. Big boot for Jericho sets up a Poochiebomb, but Shawn superkicks him over for the pin at 8:09. Nice to see Big Kev earning his pay out there. However, just because he has to be a role model for children everywhere, he throws a tantrum and powerbombs everyone to keep his nonexistent heat. Next in: HHH, sort of. Shawn immediately superkicks him, and it’s such a powerful one that he ends up unconscious for about 10 minutes. This match is like a grade school primer on how to play political games in wrestling. Everyone is dead and buried from the awesome power of the Poochiebombs, but they manage to crawl back to life and slug it out. I’m surprised they weren’t instructed to stop and cut a promo about how lucky they were to not have Nash in there to beat them up any longer. Goldberg is the last man in and he kills everyone, which shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, gets him over with the crowd. Press spinebuster on Orton, but Jericho and Michaels try a double-team and get clotheslined. Spear for Orton gets rid of him at 13:01. Jericho tries a missile dropkick and gets two, but Goldberg presses him into the cage. Shawn gets in Goldberg’s face and gets whipped into the corner for his troubles. Goldberg then deals with Jericho, spearing him through the mini-chamber, albeit not very cleanly. Shawn tries making a comeback, dropping an elbow and prepping the superkick, but the stomping only gives away his position and the spear and Jackhammer send him back to meet Jesus at 15:21. Jericho is dead and buried already, and the spear and Jackhammer are academic at 16:05. HHH hides in his chamber, as Flair goes nuts trying to prop the door closed and kick him out, but Goldberg kicks in the plexiglass to break him loose. He never learns about punching and kicking glass, does he? Goldberg pounds on him for a bit, but sets up for a spear and falls prey to the SLEDGEHAMMER OF DOOM and gets pinned at 19:15, thus sucking all the life out of a previously-hot crowd.(I’m sitting here nine years later reading that and I’m STILL gobsmacked that they actually booked that finish.)  Match was more energetic than the first EC thanks to shorter intervals, but as a match wasn’t as good and didn’t tell as good a story. *** And check this out for a brilliant political maneuver – HHH gets injured and refuses to job the title to Goldberg at the second-biggest PPV of the year, so he’s rewarded by being stuck in a match where he does maybe 90 seconds tops of in-ring work, while Goldberg demolishes anyone even close to threatening HHH’s spot and then jobs to the almighty sledgehammer. And then next month, when once again HHH is asked to do a job like, you know, a professional, he can point to Goldberg’s diminished heat from tonight’s match (or one of 1000 other of the same excuses he always uses) and get another win over him to keep the title for another 8 months. There’s a weird belief that the money is in the chase with this feud, but Goldberg’s been chasing him since June and still hasn’t gotten so much as the upper hand in the feud. And there’s certainly no money yet. In fact, when has Goldberg’s money ever been in the chase to begin with? He demolished Hulk Hogan in their first match to win the World title in WCW, and I didn’t see anyone trying to claim that Hogan should get the win first to set up the chase. In fact, the only real objection was that it should have been on PPV instead of TV. The fans were into Goldberg tonight, they wanted to see him demolish everyone and win the title, and instead the WWE continued to send the same message: We don’t care what you want.  (Yeah, get used to that one.)  The Bottom Line: I can’t really call it a disappointing show because I wasn’t expecting anything out of it to begin with. Angle-Lesnar was about what I thought it was gonna be, and the four-way was a little worse, so I’ve gotta go thumbs in the middle, leaning down, for Summerslam.

RAW 2003?

Anyone happen to have my 2003 RAW and Smackdown rants saved by any chance?  I know there was someone who sent me the 2002 collection, but I'm also missing up through November of 2003 and I'd like to have my archives as complete as possible so I can do a series of "Year in review" type Kindle books next for 2000-2005 where I do the weekly shows and PPVs in chronological order.  I can probably reconstruct it all through the 411 archives, but there's formatting issues there and I don't have access to the source anymore.  I also need the 2005 shows, but I can pull those off Insidepulse much easier if needed.  

If you can provide assistance, drop me a line.  

Assorted April PPV Countdown: Backlash 2003

The SmarK Rant for Backlash 2003

“As you know, the concept of the suction pump is centuries old. And really, that’s all this is, except that instead of sucking water, I’m sucking life. I’ve just sucked one year of your life away. I might one day go as high as five, but I really don’t know what that would do to you, so let’s just start with what we have. What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity, so… be honest. How do you feel?”?

Sometimes a show just leaves you with no choice but to quote The Princess Bride. (2012 Scott sez:  One of those movies where I’m compelled to drop everything and watch it if it’s on TV.  Thankfully I haven’t checked if it’s on Netflix because otherwise I’d never get any work done.)  – As most of you have probably figured out or read by now, when I do PPVs, I watch them live with friends the first time through, and then take the tape home and watch it alone for the actual rant. (Those of you who have noted about my differing reactions to live and delayed shows will understand the logic behind this method, I’m sure.)  This was one of those shows where I wasn’t looking forward to watching it and once I had watched it, I wasn’t looking forward to watching it again. Why? Well, first and foremost it wasn’t a card that held promise in either direction for my best work – I’m most proficient with shows that are either uniformly terrible or uniformly great, and the bland buildup and dull card for this one didn’t exactly foreshadow either outcome. (Sound familiar?) Second, a bunch of guys I like watching, like Benoit, Rhyno and Matt Hardy to name three, were absent from the card for absolutely no reason other than the writers being unable to think of any way to make them fit.  (Sound familiar? Dolph Ziggler, Zack Ryder, etc.)  Third, the issues developed in a couple of matches aren’t leading anywhere I have any interest in seeing, and what’s worse, they’re the matches that are supposed to headline the next PPV. This is a company that’s supposed to have the deepest talent pool in history, so deep they needed to split into two separate brands because gosh darnit there’s just so much talent, and what’s the next programs to carry the company? Brock-Big Show in a program that didn’t draw the first two times we saw it (which was only two months ago), and Nash-HHH in a program that’s being booked to amuse basically five guys while entire crowds sit on their hands.  (Good thing they’d be smart enough to avoid going that route in 2011.  Oh, wait.)  Why the fuck am I supposed to be excited about either one of those? Or Nathan Jones & Undertaker v. The FBI, for that matter. Or Hulk Hogan limping to the ring as Mr. America. Are there actually people (i.e. Vince) who are sitting there and thinking this stuff is INTERESTING? There used to be a time when TSN pre-empting RAW for hockey would piss me off for days, now I’m more curious about whether Anaheim can go up 3-0 on Dallas than I am about whether Nash & HHH will reconcile.  (Anaheim made it to the Stanley Cup finals that year, in fact, but lost to New Jersey.  In case you’re curious.)  And when were Nash & HHH ever FRIENDS in the storylines, to begin with? It’s all the little things like that which annoy me the most, and the overall product is boring me to tears right now, which is why you’re reading this rant as late as you are, because I can’t be bothered to stay up until 2AM recapping the same crap month after month if they can’t be bothered to give me something I’m entertained by. – Update: Although I typed the above up at 12:00, I was still so unmotivated to watch the show that I decided to take a walk and pick up some groceries first, just so I could formulate some more thoughts. – Live from Worcester, MA. – Your hosts are Coach, King, Cole & Tazz. – Weird thing about the opening video package is that they use the numbers from Goldberg’s WCW winning streak to hype the match, but they never really ACKNOWLEDGE that streak or his past history on RAW while building up to the match. – Opening match, Smackdown tag titles: Team Angle v. Los Guerreros. Team Angle has a very classy portrait of Kurt Angle with them for inspiration, which you’d think would fall under the Birthday Cake Rule. Eddie jockeys with Haas to start and takes him down, but Haas floats over for two. Eddie works on a headlock and overpowers him for two. Small package gets two as Eddie goes for the quick win, and Haas backs off. Why the Guerreros are cool: Because Chavo actually uses the tag rope, although to be fair, so does Benjamin. Speaking of which, they tag in and Chavo gets caught in a wristlock, but gets an awkward legbar takedown for two, which Benjamin reverses for two. Chavo goes for the arm and Eddie helps out on it and pounds Benjamin with forearms for two. Chavo stays on the arm with a cross armlock, but Benjamin makes the ropes. Speaking of which, Undertaker was at the UFC on Friday night, presumably teaching all the kids how to do a proper triangle choke. (I’d like to see him coaching on Ultimate Fighter and teaching sledgehammer defense while applying a gogoplata.)  A little cheating by the Guerreros keeps Shelton in the Latino corner, and ref distraction allows Chavo to choke him out with the tag rope. Good man, although Cole justifies it with “Turnabout is fair play”, which is not only trite, but incorrect, since Team Angle hasn’t cheated yet.  (Also, if turnabout is fair play, then how come two wrongs don’t make a right?)  Chavo tosses him and Eddie pounds him on the floor, and Chavo hits a backdrop suplex for two. Eddie comes in with the hilo dive for two. Another backdrop suplex seems to shake up Benjamin, and he tags out to Haas and sits in the corner for a while. Haas gets a backdrop and Benjamin recovers with some choking of his own, and a suplex for two. Leapfrog choke gets two for Haas. Haas stomps away with malice for two, and hits the chinlock. Eddie suplexes out with the nastiest backdrop in wrestling, but Haas does a nice takedown to cut off the tag. Team Angle switches off without a tag (Sure, I can see how the ref would mix them up…) and Benjamin cuts off the tag again with a leglock. I would have popped huge if he had locked in the heelhook like Minoru Tanaka. Powerslam gets two, and he hits the chinlock, wearing Eddie down into a pinning predicament for two. Haas comes in and stomps away again, into a backbreaker submission move. Haas tries a gutwrench, but Eddie reverses to a flying headscissors, and then dives into the hot tag to Chavo. He cleans house with dropkicks and backdrops and all that fun stuff, and Team Angle collides in the corner. Suplex gets two on Haas. Benjamin kills him dead with a powerbomb, but Eddie comes off the top with a missile dropkick and then starts with the rolling vertical suplexes on Haas. Chavo crawls over for two. He gets another dropkick and Eddie comes in uninvited with a frog splash, thus earning him a trip back to the apron again. Chavo gets two regardless, but Benjamin pulls him off at two. Chavo suplexes Haas, but Benjamin trips him up and hangs on to give Haas the pin at 15:03. Chavo dives onto the celebrating champions, but the picture survives the attack, and Los Guerreros steal the titles to add another cliché to the mix. Good match, although nothing you haven’t seen on Smackdown a million times. ***  (The Guerreros eventually did regain the belts on the same show as the Brock-Angle iron man match, although by then there were much bigger plans for Eddie in the works anyway.  And I feel like this was underrated by me.)  – Meanwhile, Test forces himself on Torrie. – Sean O’Haire v. Rikishi. O’Haire meets the stairs right away as they brawl outside, and Rikishi gets a pair of clotheslines back in and a samoan drop. Piper tries to interfere and gets caught, allowing O’Haire to get a superkick and take over. That whole sequence was really poorly done. Piper gets some lame shots in, and O’Haire hits him with a corner clothesline and a lariat for two. Crowd completely loses interest as he goes to a neck vice. Why they completely forced O’Haire to change his high-flying style to this lumbering heavyweight WWE style is beyond me, but it’s not for the better. The crowd gets annoyed by security taking a beach ball away and O’Haire gets two. Why does security take beach balls away, anyway? I mean, god forbid people have fun at a show they’re paying $50-$100 to see. (Only WWE Approved Fun is allowed, carried out with precision so as to meet TV taping guidelines and remain within standards set by the network sponsors.  All rights reserved.) They exchange missed kicks and Rikishi splashes him in the corner twice to set up a Stinkface, which O’Haire blocks. Piper comes in loaded for bear with a coconut, as Rikishi & O’Haire kick each other into unconsciousness. Yeah, that’s what this match needed, a spot where both guys are out. Piper comes in again with the coconut, obviously missing his cue the first time, and Rikishi hits him with it, but falls prey to O’Haire’s spinebuster for the pin at 4:52. You know, with Jeff Hardy off to make “music” and sulk for a living, the swanton bomb is free again. Piper blades off the coconut shot, and the physics of that elude me, unless it’s a REALLY abrasive shell. This doesn’t bode well for O’Haire. -*1/2  (To say the least.  What a disaster that character change turned out to be.)  – Meanwhile, Torrie rats out Test to Stacy. I’ll save you the 15 minutes of character development that these segments entailed and just summarize the main points: Test is a lying fuckhead and Sable is a conniving bitch. – RAW tag titles: Kane & RVD v. The Dudley Boyz. Chief Morley is YOUR special guest referee. I don’t know how they’ve managed to take a feud with 10 different things going on at once and make it so boring, but they have. Sign in the front row: We Miss Regal. I guess HHH is making the signs now, too. Bubba hammers RVD to start and they do an awkward reversal sequence that goes nowhere. Bubba clotheslines him, but Rob gets a leg lariat for two. He walks into a lariat, allowing Bubba to bring in D-Von, but Rob catches him with the legdrop for two. Kane comes in and works the arm, and drops an elbow, then no-sells some offense from D-Von. They mess up a simple irish whip reversal spot and Kane gets a boot for two. D-Von clotheslines him for two. Bubba comes in and Kane controls him with clotheslines and pounds away in the corner, but D-Von cheapshots him and Bubba bulldogs him for two. Kane comes back with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER for two. Rob comes in and gets the moonsault for two. Bubba blocks the monkey flip with a sideslam, and the Dudleyz get the Whazzup Drop. D-Von gets the spinning elbow for two, and he hits the chinlock. Bubba comes in with his own. I’ve had warm milk and antihistamine smoothies that were less effective at putting me to sleep than this match. Finally Kane gets the hot tag and hits his usual stuff, then fights off the Dudleyz’s double team attempt. RVD tags in with a missile dropkick on D-Von and hits Bubba with Rolling Thunder. D-Von hits him with the neckbreaker out of the corner, but Kane clotheslines him off the top. Morley decides to go low on Kane and gives Bubba two. With that plan having failed, he tosses Kane and charges RVD, but hits Bubba by mistake. D-Von goes after him to get revenge, but Lance Storm charges in and gets disposed of. Morley starts pounding Bubba, but gets 3D’d out of the match, leaving us without a ref. You’d think that would be a DQ at the very least. Kane cleans house and RVD finishes Bubba with a frog splash as another ref comes in to count the pin at 13:01. Boring match with an overbooked finish that’ll probably result in some form of Dusty Finish tonight on RAW. *1/2  (I think the Duds ended up with the belts, but I can’t be bothered to care enough to check.)  – Meanwhile, Stacy confronts Torrie in the women’s locker room, where not only are a bunch of girls who aren’t even on the card hanging out, but Ivory is there wearing a towel. Did she just decide to have a shower for the hell of it?  (These days they’d be dressed in bathing suits from the Depression.)  – Women’s title: Trish Stratus v. Jazz. Jazz works a hammerlock to start, but Trish takes her down with La Majestral for two. Jazz hammers her on the back and gets a backbreaker, but Trish gets a clothesline for two. Jazz pounds her down again into the double chickenwing, and she stays on the back. Trish reverses a backbreaker into a gutwrench suplex that gets two, but Jazz takes her down again and buttdrops her. Trish gets a backslide, but the ref is distracted with Long and it only gets two. Jazz rolls her up for two, and starts slugging away, but Trish fires back. Trish charges and hits boot, and then the handstand rana is reversed to a Boston Crab by Jazz. Trish powers out and gets two, but Jazz reverses for one. Trish goes for the Crab herself, and then turns it into the STF in a nice touch. Jazz makes the ropes with Teddy’s help. Trish starts slugging away again and kicks her down for two. Jazz comes back with a jawbreaker and a dropkick for two. Trish escapes a suplex and hits the bulldog, but Teddy “Random Task” Long breaks up the pin by throwing his shoe at her, and then blames Whitie. Who throws a shoe? Honestly. Jazz cradles for two, and then blocks a sunset flip by holding the ropes and gets the pin and the title at 5:50. That’s probably as good as the women’s division is getting these days. **1/2 – Rey Mysterio v. Big Show. (Why would you bring in Mysterio and then immediately stick him in there against the biggest guy on the roster instead of protecting him?)  Sign in crowd: Big Show Loves Cher. Even this crowd’s SIGNS suck. Rey evades Show to start, and then dropkicks him coming in and pounds away in the corner. Show tosses him around, however, and Rey bails. Back in, Show catches him with a backbreaker. Show whips him into the corner and chokes away. I think this match came about because Vince visualized Rey doing all the “big man/little man” spots and bumping for Show, not caring about the damage it does to expose Rey like this. Show smacks him out of the ring, so Rey grabs a chair and nails Show behind the ref’s back. Back in with a Bombs Away that gets two. Rey gets three 619s to bring Show down, but he no-sells all of it and chokeslams Rey to finish the squash at 3:45, drawing no reaction for the win. Thus you’ve killed Rey’s finisher, made him look like a jobber, and annoyed the fans with regards to a guy who’s supposed to be challenging for the title next month. Rey does a stretcher job that no one buys, and Show then reappears and smashes the prone and helpless Rey into the post, dropping him on his head and nearly killing him in the process. I still can’t believe there are people who are paid to sit around and think of stuff like this as actual good ideas towards getting ANYONE over. DUD Further, you can’t even call this PPV caliber – there’s no reason why they couldn’t have this on Smackdown.  (Rey ended up doing OK for himself, obviously, but talk about counterproductive booking.)  – The backstage drama ends with Steiner yet again saving Stacy from Test. Who in their right mind would consider Scott Steiner, who openly brags about his sexual escapades as part of his pre-match spiel, to be a better choice of boyfriend than Test? Does anyone stop and consider the characters these people play before they write this stuff?  (Oh man, the Test-Steiner feud…good times.)  – Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. John Cena. Cena busts what we from the hood call a “weak rhyme” before the match, and he attacks to start. Brock hammers him with knees and gets his triple backbreaker into a blockbuster slam. Vertical suplexes get two, and Brock goes to a facelock. You start throwing knees from that position and it’s over. Wrestling people don’t think that way, but I just wanted to point that out. He turns that into a fisherman’s suplex and then gorilla presses Cena before clotheslining him to the floor. Back in, Cena bails again, but gets pounded outside. Brock meets the stairs, however, and Cena takes over as a result. Brock starts bleeding, and they head back where Cena gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two, and Cena chokes him down. Elbow gets two. Reverse elbow gets two. He shoulderblocks Brock to the apron and chokes him on the ropes, then guillotines him with a legdrop to put him out again. Brock hits the post and they head back in, where Cena gets two. The excitement by Cole & Tazz isn’t shared by the crowd or anyone else. Cena hits the chinlock as I stop to ask this question: Why is it that a match like Hogan v. Vince, with two guys who don’t need the heat or the help, are given multiple ref bumps, table breaking, ladders and Roddy Piper in every effort to make it into a *** match by hook or by crook and entertain the fans, but two guys like Brock & Cena, who NEED to get over by any means in order to ensure the survival of the company, are left out here to die with a dull main event style match worked by two guys who aren’t ready to carry a main event on their own?  (Yeah, that John Cena, he needs all the help he can get to make it to main event level!) Brock escapes the chinlock, but Cena DDTs him for two. Clothesline gets two. Back to the chinlock and he gets the hooks in. Let’s go back to that point again, as you can even consider something like Test-Shane from Summerslam 99. It’s obvious they KNOW how to book show-stealing matches that make stars, and if ever there was a time to do so, it’s now. Trying to retrain fans to like wrestling is one thing, but there’s no “wrestling” here, it’s just the usual kick-and-punch offense that we’ve seen millions of times before. If you have nothing new to say with the match, it’s not going to say anything new. That seems obvious, sure, but that’s what they’re attempting to do – train guys in the homogenized WWE Main Event style until everyone is the same bland muscular mat-wrestler and then throw them out there together in interchangeable matches that the fans don’t care about. (And that’s what we have today.)  Brock makes the comeback and gets a powerslam for two, as the fans start to turn on him. They do a ref-bump fakeout and Cena goes low for two. Cena gets the somersault neckbreaker (Which we’ll call the Broken Record for lack of anything better from the announcers) for two, and Brock powers him into the corner. Cena grabs the chain, but the ref stops him, and Brock finishes with the F5 at 15:11. Throwing them out there for 15 minutes was suicide and it totally exposed both guys as not being ready. Even an 8-minute match would have fine, or throwing Benoit in there to make it a three-way and letting them both learn from him. The match, such as it was, had no real storyline to it, no psychology for the fans to follow and the finish was anticlimactic. *1/2 (Hopefully their rematch 9 years later will be better.)  – Chris Jericho, HHH & Ric Flair v. Shawn Michaels, Booker T & Kevin Nash. The total non-reaction to Nash’s entrance is both sad for someone making as much as he does, and funny for the same reason. All the excuses that apply to everyone else squashed by HHH over the past year – Can’t work, isn’t over, gets hurt too often – apply to Nash in SPADES and yet he’s shot to the top again with his buddy despite no justifiable reason to do so. That, my friends, is WCW logic. Speaking of WCW logic, Coach & Lawler stop and talk about the Clique as though fans at large know what they’re talking about, and then Coach notes that it was a long time ago and now they’re enemies. But since they’ve never even crossed paths in WWE canon, then logically you’d either have to conclude that they’re still friends behind the scenes (going by what those people who know about the Clique would know today) or else they were never friends to begin with (going by what those people who don’t read the internet would know). You can’t bring in a storyline point known by only 0.5% of the viewing audience and then act like it’s a big deal when HHH turns on Nash and expect it to draw money. That’s the same thing that happened to Vince Russo, with many of the same people oddly enough, and it’s crazy thinking. (2003 was not a strong year for WWE Creative in the least.)  Nash starts with HHH, but they both tag out to Michaels & Jericho without making contact. That fits with Nash’s usual workrate. Shawn jockeys with Jericho and neither guy can get their suplex, but Shawn rolls him up for two and Jericho reverses for two. Another round of that and they go into the Flair pinfall reversal sequence until Jericho slugs him down. Jericho goes for the Walls, but Shawn reverses out of it and brings in Big Poochie. Nash tosses Jericho, but stops to have an exciting jaw session with HHH and gets attacked from behind by Y2J. He boots Jericho down, however, and Booker comes in with a whiplash slam on Jericho that gets two. He chops away, but a charge hits elbow. He comes back with a flapjack for two, but gets caught in the heel corner. HHH comes in, but Booker kicks him down for two. HHH comes back with a facecrusher and chops away, but Booker slugs back. Flair and Jericho try working him over, but Booker fights out, only to walk into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER from HHH. Booker brings in Shawn, however, and he goes after Flair and atomic drops HHH. Forearm for Flair sets up the superkick, but HHH Pedigrees him to prevent a pinfall. Jericho comes in and gets two off that. Shawn & HHH slug it out, and HHH USES THE KNEE for two. Flair’s figure-four attempt is reversed for two. Shawn slugs Flair down, but Ric hangs onto the leg and allows Jericho to come back in with a backdrop suplex on Shawn. We hit the chinlock and Shawn powers out, but Jericho clotheslines him down again. HHH starts working the leg now, which sets up Flair’s usual efforts en route to the figure-four. They exchange chops and Shawn gets an enzuigiri. The sad thing is that you’ve got these six guys, and the match I’m curious to see now is Shawn v. Flair.  (I’d have to wait a while for that one.)  Shawn tackles him down for two. Shawn makes the “hot” tag to Nash, which the crowd seems to be less than thrilled about, and Big Lazy cleans house with slams as everyone jumps into his arms and bumps for him. Big boot for Jericho and Snake Eyes for HHH (who audibly calls “sideslam” on the way down) and indeed that follows as Nash gets two. Jericho tries hammering on the Nash Machine in the corner, but he too falls victim to the Mighty Sideslam. Nash powers out of the Pedigree using Prell Power, but Jericho breaks up the powerbomb with a missile dropkick. That’s the first time in the match that Nash has left his feet. Booker hammers on Jericho to set up the axe kick, and he superkicks Flair and Spinaroonies. Jericho gets dumped and Booker follows him out while Nash & HHH discuss hair-care secrets in the aisle under the pretext of fighting. Shawn slams Flair in the ring and goes for another superkick, but Jericho breaks it up with a bulldog and Flair gets the figure-four. Nash starts dissembling the ringside table, but decides not to powerbomb HHH onto it and inside takes on both Jericho & Flair in the ring. The ref is bumped in a contrived spot that takes 10 minutes to set up, and Nash powerbombs Jericho, but falls victim to HHH’s trusty sledgehammer and gets pinned at 17:52. My theory behind the pinfall: The sledgehammer, with the added force of HHH’s hand in front of it and Nash’s own hands clearly in front of his face, totalled the equivalent of a sledgehammer blow PLUS three punches. This was pretty dull stuff overall. **1/2 And how does it build up a title match when HHH has already pinned his challenger?  (Because he clearly…hey, LOOK OVER THERE!) Maybe they can go right to the Hairbrush on a Pole match. – The Rock v. Goldberg. Being that this is the WWE braintrust, the first thing they do is change Goldberg’s music, having not learned the lesson taught by WCW in 1999. It sounds like something off the original Terminator soundtrack, actually. They pay a guy X million dollars a year because he was a big star in WCW, but don’t want him to be associated with WCW any longer. Figure that one out. (I think the actual reason was that they didn’t want to shell out for the WCW music because they figured that they are WWE and infallible and thus fans wouldn’t tell the difference.)  Clearly ignoring JR’s exhortations over the years that this ain’t ballet, Goldberg does leg stretches in the corner to warm up. Rock is clearly the crowd favorite here, thanks to being more entertaining, a better worker, and a WWE product. Very long stall session to start and Goldberg overpowers Rock with the LOCKUP OF DEATH. You know, just because Hulk Hogan got that over 15 YEARS AGO doesn’t mean we still need it today. Another one and Rock bails. Back in, they exchange shots and Goldberg overpowers him again and dumps him. Rock takes a long count to waste more time. WCW was at least smart enough to limit Goldberg to 5 minutes or less. More stalling as Rock waits around outside, and then he catches him with a necksnap and a lariat. Crowd eats that up. Rock slugs away, but gets hit with Goldberg’s version of the Rock Bottom. That’s the first wrestling move from Goldberg in this match. Rock sells it FOREVER and Goldberg tries a spear, but misses and lands on the floor. Yeah, take an indestructible superman character and make him SELL, great plan. Rock gets the Scorpion King Deathlock and holds it for a long time, thus making Goldberg look even weaker, but he makes the ropes. Lawler correctly points out that he took the coward’s way out. There’s no excuse for silly mistakes like that – Goldberg should have powered out. Rock goes low, but Goldberg gets a fluke spear (move #2 on the match) and both guys are out. Goldberg makes the comeback and powerslams him (move #3) and gets two. Goldberg no-sells a couple of clotheslines, but Rock hits him with a spinebuster and kips up, thus turning himself babyface by making Goldberg look like a chump. Rock Bottom gets two. I love Rock like the son I never intend to have, (Although I did have a daughter.)  but this is so manipulative on his part that he’s going to kill Goldberg out of the chute. (Other things did that, but it sure didn’t help.)  Goldberg clotheslines him to cut off the spit-punch (drawing boos), but Rock hits him with a People’s Elbow for two. That spot is just BEGGING for Goldberg to pop up and spear him. Both guys crawl around as the match drags on, and Goldberg spears him. The crowd now totally turns on Goldberg, chanting “Goldberg sucks” while Rock slowly climbs to his feet and gets speared again. Jackhammer (move #4) finishes at 13:04. The only way this could have been ANY worse was if Rock had gone over, and for a minute there I was thinking they might do that, too. This just totally exposed Goldberg as a shitty worker with a limited moveset who’s out there for the paycheque and nothing more. Not that it’s a huge shock, but you can forget him carrying the company over the summer now. 1/2*  (Yup.  I was just watching Goldberg v. Raven and Goldberg v. Hogan today, and it’s night and day how much better the WCW agents were able to lay out the matches to play to Bill’s strengths.  They were short, explosive and didn’t make Goldberg do stuff he couldn’t do.)  The Bottom Line: The post-Wrestlemania suckitude has now set in en force, with the worst PPV of the year so far and worst since Unforgiven. And now that they’ve screwed up all the can’t-miss WCW retreads and still need to fill a three-hour PPV every month, it’s only gonna get worse. Think about THAT and be afraid.  (This was such a forgettable and crappy year for WWE.)  Thumbs down.

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.) 

Survivor Series Countdown: 2003

The SmarK Rant for Survivor Series 2003

– Just to put things in perspective for this show, I was the only person to show up at my friend’s place to actually watch this one.  And usually there’s 6-8 people there.

– Live from Dallas, TX.

– Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz.

– Opening match:  John Cena, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly v. Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan & A-Train. 

Holly attacks Brock and gets DQ’d right off the bat.  Bradshaw gets the honorary “pin with a clothesline” on A-Train (okay, it’s a lariat, but still…) at 0:44 after Train misses a charge. Show comes in and chokeslams him at 1:03.  This is like a RAW match or something.  Cena comes in and tries an F-U on Show as things slow down a bit, and Lesnar pounds on Cena in the corner.  Brock misses a charge and Cena can’t overpower him, so he clips him instead.  Cena slugs away and gets a rollup for two.  Another one gets two.  Brock powers him down with a clothesline and he gets taken to the heel corner, as Morgan comes in with a headbutt and slugs him down.  Legdrop misses, but he gets a sideslam to complete the Nash Generic Moveset, bringing in Nathan Jones.  Oh, joy.  Nathan slugs him down with knees and yells a lot.  Brock pounds him down, but Cena comes back with the Throwback for two.  Benoit comes in and pounds Lesnar with chops and powers him down.  Man, they’re gonna have a hell of a PPV main event if they ever let them.  Brock hotshots him and gets a lariat, but opts to tag Show in instead of going for the pin.  It’s SURVIVOR SERIES.  A clothesline is a deadly move!  Show presses him and talks a lot.  Chokeslam, but Benoit reverses to the crossface, which Brock immediately breaks up.  Show goes to an abdominal stretch.  The size difference really makes that look like a silly visual.  Show does his goofy legdrop for two.  The heels engage in shenanigans behind the ref’s back, and it’s a brawl outside, Katie bar the door.  Back in, Morgan tags back in but misses a big boot and gets his knee dropkicked.  Benoit kicks him in the face and Angle comes in with a german suplex series on Morgan (welcome to the WWE, check your vertebrae at the door) and holds off Jones and Brock with more suplexes.  Heel miscommunication sees Jones booting Morgan by mistake (and slipping and falling on his ass) and the Angle slam gets rid of ½ of the dead weight at 9:21, as Morgan is gone.  More miscommunication disposes of Jones at 9:46 via anklelock.  Brock destroys Kurt with the F5 at 10:01, before the announcement can even be made.  Well, short night for Kurt, but it’s understandable.  Brock goes after Benoit and misses a charge, so Benoit works on the arm and whips him around the ring, but runs into an elbow in the corner.  Brock goes for the F5, but Benoit counters into the crossface, but Brock rolls him over for two.  Benoit is having none of that, and locks it back in again.  Brock makes the ropes.  Brock charges, but gets caught with another one, and this time he taps at 12:07.  We’ll see if it means anything in the long run.  (2011 Scott sez:  Nope.) So Show is left 2-on-1 and he slugs away on Benoit, but misses a clumsy charge and Benoit nails him with a flying shoulderblock from the top, for two.  He tries a crossface on Show, but he’s too big.  Cena gets tagged in by accident, as Show chokeslams Benoit, but Cena bops him with the chain and FUs him for the pin at 13:30 to finish.  Felt really rushed and most of the heel team dragged it down, as did the limited involvement of Kurt Angle.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Vince bumps into Shane and has a bizarre laugh-off with Austin.

Women’s title:  Molly Holly v. Lita. 

They reverse of a go-behind to start and Lita takes her down for two and gets a monkey-flip.  They head out and Molly gets sent into the apron, which gets two for Lita. Suplex and she goes for a flying headscissors, but Molly dumps her to the floor and sends her into the railing on a nice bump.  Back in, Molly gets two. Neckbreaker gets two.  We hit the chinlock and Lita fights out, but Molly switches to a dragon sleeper, giving a choice view of the cleavage.  Lita knees out of it, so Molly pounds her down again to set up the handspring elbow, which prompts JR to bring up the Great Muta.  Who’d have thunk that Muta’s name would get mentioned on WWE programming on a semi-regular basis?  (2011 Scott sez:  They should bring him in to book and wrestle, too.  Yeah, he can’t speak English, but lack of language skills doesn’t seem to be an impediment to writing RAW these days.)  Lita goes up with a sloppy high cross, for two.  Lita does some ludicrously weak punches in the corner and gets a rollup for two, but she walks into a sideslam for two.  Molly tries her own punches, but Lita powerbombs her out of the corner.  Well, that’s what happens when you trash-talk.  Lita fights back with an awkward Russian legsweep and goes up for the Litasault, which misses.  Molly Go Round hits, but only gets two.  Molly exposes a turnbuckle, sends Lita into it, and that’s enough to finish at 6:49.  All’s fair in love and Christmas sales.  Molly did her best with what she was given.  *1/2  The thing with Lita that sets her apart from the rest of the fairly-good women’s division right now is this, and this will probably sound obvious but bear with me:  With everyone else, they do what they can do, and don’t do what they can’t do.  Trish Stratus discovered her talent for gymnastic moves and high kicks, so that’s what she does.  Gail Kim was limited to a few moves, so they made her a heel and stuck her on the apron where she could come in for a hit-and-run attack.  But here you have Lita, who throws terrible punches (I mean, horrible, god-awful, Billy Gunn with a limp wrist punches) and stumbles through basic moves while on the comeback, and it makes her look bush-league because her comebacks are based on these terrible punches she’s never learned to throw.  What she needs to go super-basic and relearn the in-ring aspect.  For instance, she has GREAT, athletic legs, and she never uses them.  She should be out there kicking the shit out of the other girls with high kicks like Trish does or learning more martial-arts oriented offense so she can bring attention to her legs rather than her weak punches.  Trish can’t punch, so she doesn’t.  Neither should Lita.  If she did just that, eliminating the worst part of her offense and replacing it with a basic striking offense that’s easier to learn and more visually impressive, she would look like a better worker immediately and not like a 4th grader in a school play with high-schoolers.  But maybe that’s just me.  (2011 Scott sez:  As it turns out, she discovered her true talent was fucking over Matt Hardy and showing her awesome rack off, and she ended up as a main event draw with Edge as a result.  Go with what you know!)

– Ambulance Match:  Shane McMahon v. Kane.

Shane charges him to start and they tumble out of the ring, and Shane meets the stairs.  Kane takes a run at him with the stairs, but Shane retaliates with a STEEL chair and pounds him down.  Ever notice that every metallic object in wrestling, no matter what it might actually consist of, seems to be steel?  Steel railing, steel post, steel chair, steel shovel…etc.  Why not vary the atomic table a bit and have a titanium post, or a cobalt railing?  Kane gets put on the table and Shane drops the big elbow to break it.  They wander to the back and the camera cuts out (glitch #1), but another one cuts in as Shane runs away from Kane and then sneaks up on him with a kendo stick, with which he inflicts some damage.  Then, for laughs, he runs him over with an SUV.  Obviously we’ve been desensitized to cartoon violence, because that probably wouldn’t even get a two-count if pinfalls counted.  Shane barks “send it” into a walkie-talkie that appears out of nowhere (was he just carrying one, just in case?) and an ambulance (but not THE ambulance) appears, which Shane is unable to herd Kane into.  The camera cuts out again (glitch #2) and we switch to another one as the director informs us that he’s at the end of his rope via some stolen audio (glitch #3) as they keep fighting back into the arena again, where we’re at least fairly assured of the cameras remaining on the air.  Kane tosses him into the ambulance (but is it a STEEL ambulance?) as Shane takes some silly bumps and then comes back to ram Kane into it in turn.  It’s fiberglass, guys, quit being pussies.  Shane rams the back door into Kane’s head a couple of times, which at least could plausibly hurt.  Kane won’t go down, however, and boots Shane down.  Kane shoves him in, but can’t close the door.  Shane fights back, misses what was supposed to be a hurricane DDT off the ambulance, and then repeats the spot.  Sigh.  That’s the thing with non-wrestlers like Shane – if they blow something, they’re such slaves to the script that they can’t really make it up as they go along.  Shane cans him down and climbs the ambulance, but misses a dive and lands on a conveniently placed crash pad.  But was it a STEEL cardboard box?  I mean, come on, a CRASH PAD?  Apparently it was supposed to be a Van Terminator, but when you’re trying a Van Terminator off an ambulance onto a crash pad, it looks just a BIT  contrived.  They fight over the ambulance and Kane tosses him around a bit more and piledrives him on the concrete to put everyone out of their misery at13:29.  This was about 10 minutes too long for what they were trying to accomplish.  ½*

– Meanwhile, Brock bumps into Goldberg.

– The Coach comes out and makes fun of Mark Cuban in the front row, prompting a verbal showdown in the ring between Cuban and Eric Bischoff, but Randy Orton comes in and delivers an RKO to him, which Cuban sells better than half the roster.  Honest.  Total waste of PPV time, regardless.

– Meanwhile, Evolution parties with hookers.  I’m sure Steph appreciates that.

 – Smackdown tag titles:  The Basham Brothers v. Los Guerreros.

The Guerreros clean house to start, and Chavo elbows down Danny.  Eddie comes in and stomps away in the corner, setting up the rolling verticals for two.  Chavo gets a seated dropkick for two.  Eddie slingshots in for two.  Double headscissors on the Bashams, but they get a double-hotshot to take over on him.  This is apparently a “classic Bashams double-team” according to Cole.  They’ve been around for long enough to have a classic double-team? (2011 Scott sez:  VINTAGE BASHAMS!)  Eddie gets harassed outside the ring, and back in Doug gets two.  Double slingshot suplex gets two.  Good double-team move.  Doug hits the chinlock, but Eddie escapes with a headscissors, allowing the hot tag to Chavo.  He cleans house with the usual generic babyface stuff and a sideslam gets two.  Bashams fire back with a flapjack on him, but Eddie breaks up a double-powerbomb attempt and brings Doug down with a rana from the top for two.  It’s BONZO GONZO and Eddie gets dumped, leaving Chavo to fend for himself with a double-clothesline.  The Bashams do the switcheroo as Chavo goes after Shaniqua and Eddie frog splashes her, and they spank her.  Is this really necessary?  The Bashams attack again, but Chavo kicks Eddie by mistake, the Bashams switch again, and Danny pins Chavo with a rollup at 7:32.  Turned into a big mess at the end, and the stuff with Shaniqua wasn’t necessary.  **  (2011 Scott sez:  They really flushed away whatever Doug Basham could have brought to the table.  Danny not so much, but Doug had something special in OVW.)

 – Booker T, Bubba Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels v. Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, Chris Jericho, Christian & Randy Orton.

The teams don’t even get separate entrances, and poor Booker T doesn’t even get an introduction, period!  JR rambles about Fabio and giving “mad props” making people stale characters.  If ANYONE shouldn’t talk about being stale, it’s that announce team.  D-Von & Christian exchange headlocks as JR desperately tries to get “CLB” over again.  (2011 Scott sez:  Creepy Little Bastard is trending worldwide on Twitter!) D-Von slugs away on the mat and gets a clothesline for two.  Man, again someone kicks out of a clothesline.  What kind of Survivor Series is this?  Where’s Ted Dibiase to pin guys with his feet on the ropes when you need him?  RVD comes in with a spinkick for two, but Jericho dropkicks him and slugs away.  Rob mulekicks him and pounds away in the corner, into a northern lights suplex for two. Jericho gets the enzuigiri for two.  Steiner comes in and pounds him in the corner, but Rob spinkicks him for two.  Another one misses and Steiner uses the banned overhead suplex (which JR specifically calls dangerous, usually a giveaway), and a belly-to-belly gets two.  (2011 Scott sez:  Whatever happened to that suplex ban, I wonder?)  He charges and misses, but Rob goes up and gets crotched, allowing Steiner to get an overhead superplex for two.  Booker tags in, however, and slugs away on Steiner, but gets elbowed down.  Booker comes back with the axe kick and decides to Spinarooni.  Spinebuster on Steiner gets two, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA.  Steiner gets the Recliner, but the Dudleyz break it up with a double-team neckbreaker and the Bookend finishes Steiner at 7:28.  Henry bodyslams Booker for the pin at 7:53.  Poor Booker gets to job in Texas again.  Henry overpowers RVD with a clothesline but Bubba tags in and slugs away, but can’t overpower Henry.  Well, duh.  Henry chokes him out.  Henry whips him around and overpowers both Dudley Boyz, then goes after D-Von.  He misses a charge and walks into 3D at 10:03. Jericho pounds RVD down and chops away in the corner, but Rob moonsaults him for two.  Orton comes in for the first time and misses a charge, but comes back with a nice clothesline out of the corner for two.  He misses another charge (maybe he should stop charging) and RVD gets Rolling Thunder and pops up, but Jericho pushes him off the top, into an RKO at 12:06.  D-Von goes next and gets a legdrop for two.  Sideslam and flying headbutt get two. Jericho makes a blind tag but runs into D-Von on the way in, but comes back with a missile dropkick for two.  He misses a charge and D-Von shoulderblocks him, but Jericho gets the Flashback at 13:50.  So we’re 3-on-2, as Bubba charges and misses, but comes back with a sideslam for two.  Shawn comes in for the first time and chops away in the corner to set up the pummeling, fighting off Christian, but Jericho trips him up and brings Orton back in, who gets two.  Orton stomps away, but misses a dropkick (although he’s so tall that he caught Shawn in the mouth inadvertently), and tags abound.  Bubba holds off the heels as Christian is legal, and he gets hotshot and backdropped for two.  Bubba gets a samoan drop on Orton and Flips and Flops on Jericho, but can’t fly. Jericho goes low, and Christian hits the Unprettier for the pin at 16:50.  So it’s Shawn 1-on-3, which is exactly how you want it – tough enough odds to make it unlikely he’ll win, but not so ridiculous that he can’t.  Shawn fights off the heels and slugs Christian, but gets dumped, and this is where the match officially gets awesome, for those keeping track.  The heels pound him outside and Orton takes over in the ring, stomping away.  Christian works him over in the corner, but Shawn fights back, only to get dragged out of the ring by Jericho and catapulted into the post by Christian, drawing blood.  And it’s a doozy, too.  Crimson mask, stuck pig, pick your cliché.  Christian suplexes him back in for two.  He fights back but Christian goes for the Unprettier again, only to walk into a superkick and get pinned at 20:30, although Shawn basically just fell back on him by a fluke. Jericho tries next, beating the holy spirit out of Shawn in the corner, but he keeps fighting back. Jericho gets a clothesline for two.  Orton pounds him down and chokes away, but walks into a sleeper.  Orton suplexes out without too much trouble, and Jericho gets two off that.  Shawn comes back with a DDT out of the corner, but he doesn’t have enough to make the cover.  Finally he gets a hot two, but Orton saves.  Shawn dumps him to take him out of the equation, and Jericho misses the Lionsault, and Shawn is still out.  Shawn finally fights out, but misses the superkick and Jericho goes for the Walls, countered to the rollup for the pin at 23:56, leaving Shawn v. Orton. Jericho, sportsman, lays out Michaels with a chair afterwards.  I hope Trish wasn’t watching.  Orton pulls himself back into the ring and covers, but only gets two.  Orton goes up and wipes out the referee as a result, so Shawn goes for the superkick.  Bischoff runs in and kicks Shawn down, so Austin gets pissed off and stunners Orton.  From here either result is equally likely, which is why it’s great booking, but they go the heel route, and Batista runs in, delivers a powerbomb to Michaels, and Orton ends Austin’s GM job at 27:27.  This was great drama, with a superhuman effort from Shawn Michaels, and the great thing is that he was never booked like superman – he was booked as a guy getting his ass kicked who got two fluke pins and only would have won with the help of Austin, but the heels outsmarted Austin at his own game and Shawn lost the match.  The match wasn’t much before the 3-on-1 sequence, but everything after was just amazing, Match of the Year Candidate level stuff from Michaels.  **** Austin helps him up and I wait for the stunner, but none comes.  He says his goodbyes and beats up Coach as I’m pressed for time and thus fast-forward.  He’ll be back within a couple of weeks, either on RAW via a loophole or on Smackdown as the new GM, and I think we all know it.  (2011 Scott sez:  SHERIFF AUSTIN!)

 – Buried Alive:  Vince McMahon v. Undertaker.

Again I ask, how can this be Undertaker’s specialty when he’s never WON one of them?  Taker punches Vince to start, and he immediately taps an artery, doing a sick, gory bladejob that immediately makes Shawn’s seem less special.  Taker slugs away and Vince bleeds, and that’s pretty much all there is to the match.  Taker crotches him on the post, and Vince bleeds.  A lot.  Over to the other side of the ring, and Vince gets posted again.  Taker works on the leg, god knows why.  Taker keeps slugging on the cut and chokes him out with the cable as Cole points out that it’s for the threats made against Taker’s wife.  You know, in all fairness to Vince, Undertaker kidnapped and tried to rape Stephanie 4 years before Vince threatened to do the same to Sara Undertaker.  Taker keeps pounding away as the match drags on, going nowhere, and they head back into the ring.  Taker heads over to the grave and gets a STEEL shovel (see what I mean about shiny objects?) and nails Vince with it, unimpressively.  Back to the floor, as Taker puts his ankle on the stairs and slams the other stair onto it.  Hey, 1998 called, it wants its angles back.  Is Undertaker in cahoots with Kane, too?  (2011 Scott sez:  Eventually, yes, I believe he was again.) Taker finally carries Vince over to the grave, but Vince throws dirt at him and goes low, his only offense for the match.  He sends Taker into the grave, but Taker pulls him in and goes for the backhoe, but Kane’s pyro goes off, and Kane appears.  Undertaker is apparently paralyzed with fear or something, and falls into the grave, allowing Kane to bring Vince out and Vince to get into the backhoe and drop the dirt on Undertaker at11:59.  The finish was ridiculously anticlimactic and took forever to set up.  And with all the deaths in wrestling this year, do we really need matches where the object is to bury your opponent in a fake grave, complete with tombstone?  DUD  No one stops to ask if Taker is still, say, alive, and we move on to the next match.  I guess it was just symbolic burial.

 – RAW World title:  Goldberg v. HHH.

HHH is looking very bloated and out-of-shape.  I mean, it’s really noticeable.  Goldberg attacks him to start and gets a spear even before the bell, then goes after Flair too, and he dumps HHH.  They brawl outside and HHH meets the stairs a few times and gets dropped on the railing.  Back in, powerslam and Goldberg goes for a press slam, but the injured ankle gives way and HHH goes for it with a chop block.  Goldberg gets tossed and HHH works the ankle with a chair and Flair posts the ankle, and they head back in for another chop block.  HHH keeps stomping the ankle and Flair adds some cheapshots.  Choking follows.  Goldberg bails and Flair attacks the ankle, and they head back in, where HHH drops a knee on the ankle and goes to a half-crab.  Goldberg is under the ropes, however.  HHH tries to post him, but Goldberg powers off.  HHH goes right back to the ankle again, but Goldberg comes out of the corner with a clothesline.  He goes for another slam and HHH awkwardly escapes with another chop block, setting up a figure-four.  Goldberg blocks and the ref is bumped as a result, so HHH gets some brass knux from Flair.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  HHH clocks Goldberg for two, and then elbowdrops the ref out of spite.  He retrieves his trusty sledgehammer, but walks into a boot from Goldberg.  Flair gets slammed off the top, as usual, and Goldberg fights them both off, but now the rest of Evolution comes in and gets sledged by Goldberg.  HHH catches him with a Pedigree attempt, but Goldberg backdrops out, symbolically tosses down the hammer, and ops to finish with the spear and jackhammer instead at 11:41.  Well, they sure booked him strong tonight, I’ll give ‘em that.  Match wasn’t good or anything, but hopefully it helped Goldberg.  If HHH really wants to be the bigger man, he’ll let himself get punked out by Orton tonight and then take his vacation to Hollywood.  *1/2  (2011 Scott sez:  C’mon, The Chaperone isn’t gonna make itself!)

The Bottom Line:

The booking and effort were strong, but there was too much talking and dead space in the middle, especially with matches involving people named McMahon, so even with Shawn’s miracle performance I can’t go any higher than thumbs in the middle.

With Undertaker,Austin, Rock and HHH all gone, however, the main event scene will be forced to push someone new for the first time since 1997.  I guess that’ll be the real test.  (2011 Scott sez:  The guy they picked did OK for himself, at least, even if half the arena hates him at any one time.)

 

 

Survivor Series Countdown: 2003

The SmarK Rant for Survivor Series 2003

– Just to put things in perspective for this show, I was the only person to show up at my friend’s place to actually watch this one.  And usually there’s 6-8 people there.

– Live from Dallas, TX.

– Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz.

– Opening match:  John Cena, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly v. Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan & A-Train. 

Holly attacks Brock and gets DQ’d right off the bat.  Bradshaw gets the honorary “pin with a clothesline” on A-Train (okay, it’s a lariat, but still…) at 0:44 after Train misses a charge. Show comes in and chokeslams him at 1:03.  This is like a RAW match or something.  Cena comes in and tries an F-U on Show as things slow down a bit, and Lesnar pounds on Cena in the corner.  Brock misses a charge and Cena can’t overpower him, so he clips him instead.  Cena slugs away and gets a rollup for two.  Another one gets two.  Brock powers him down with a clothesline and he gets taken to the heel corner, as Morgan comes in with a headbutt and slugs him down.  Legdrop misses, but he gets a sideslam to complete the Nash Generic Moveset, bringing in Nathan Jones.  Oh, joy.  Nathan slugs him down with knees and yells a lot.  Brock pounds him down, but Cena comes back with the Throwback for two.  Benoit comes in and pounds Lesnar with chops and powers him down.  Man, they’re gonna have a hell of a PPV main event if they ever let them.  Brock hotshots him and gets a lariat, but opts to tag Show in instead of going for the pin.  It’s SURVIVOR SERIES.  A clothesline is a deadly move!  Show presses him and talks a lot.  Chokeslam, but Benoit reverses to the crossface, which Brock immediately breaks up.  Show goes to an abdominal stretch.  The size difference really makes that look like a silly visual.  Show does his goofy legdrop for two.  The heels engage in shenanigans behind the ref’s back, and it’s a brawl outside, Katie bar the door.  Back in, Morgan tags back in but misses a big boot and gets his knee dropkicked.  Benoit kicks him in the face and Angle comes in with a german suplex series on Morgan (welcome to the WWE, check your vertebrae at the door) and holds off Jones and Brock with more suplexes.  Heel miscommunication sees Jones booting Morgan by mistake (and slipping and falling on his ass) and the Angle slam gets rid of ½ of the dead weight at 9:21, as Morgan is gone.  More miscommunication disposes of Jones at 9:46 via anklelock.  Brock destroys Kurt with the F5 at 10:01, before the announcement can even be made.  Well, short night for Kurt, but it’s understandable.  Brock goes after Benoit and misses a charge, so Benoit works on the arm and whips him around the ring, but runs into an elbow in the corner.  Brock goes for the F5, but Benoit counters into the crossface, but Brock rolls him over for two.  Benoit is having none of that, and locks it back in again.  Brock makes the ropes.  Brock charges, but gets caught with another one, and this time he taps at 12:07.  We’ll see if it means anything in the long run.  (2011 Scott sez:  Nope.) So Show is left 2-on-1 and he slugs away on Benoit, but misses a clumsy charge and Benoit nails him with a flying shoulderblock from the top, for two.  He tries a crossface on Show, but he’s too big.  Cena gets tagged in by accident, as Show chokeslams Benoit, but Cena bops him with the chain and FUs him for the pin at 13:30 to finish.  Felt really rushed and most of the heel team dragged it down, as did the limited involvement of Kurt Angle.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Vince bumps into Shane and has a bizarre laugh-off with Austin.

Women’s title:  Molly Holly v. Lita. 

They reverse of a go-behind to start and Lita takes her down for two and gets a monkey-flip.  They head out and Molly gets sent into the apron, which gets two for Lita. Suplex and she goes for a flying headscissors, but Molly dumps her to the floor and sends her into the railing on a nice bump.  Back in, Molly gets two. Neckbreaker gets two.  We hit the chinlock and Lita fights out, but Molly switches to a dragon sleeper, giving a choice view of the cleavage.  Lita knees out of it, so Molly pounds her down again to set up the handspring elbow, which prompts JR to bring up the Great Muta.  Who’d have thunk that Muta’s name would get mentioned on WWE programming on a semi-regular basis?  (2011 Scott sez:  They should bring him in to book and wrestle, too.  Yeah, he can’t speak English, but lack of language skills doesn’t seem to be an impediment to writing RAW these days.)  Lita goes up with a sloppy high cross, for two.  Lita does some ludicrously weak punches in the corner and gets a rollup for two, but she walks into a sideslam for two.  Molly tries her own punches, but Lita powerbombs her out of the corner.  Well, that’s what happens when you trash-talk.  Lita fights back with an awkward Russian legsweep and goes up for the Litasault, which misses.  Molly Go Round hits, but only gets two.  Molly exposes a turnbuckle, sends Lita into it, and that’s enough to finish at 6:49.  All’s fair in love and Christmas sales.  Molly did her best with what she was given.  *1/2  The thing with Lita that sets her apart from the rest of the fairly-good women’s division right now is this, and this will probably sound obvious but bear with me:  With everyone else, they do what they can do, and don’t do what they can’t do.  Trish Stratus discovered her talent for gymnastic moves and high kicks, so that’s what she does.  Gail Kim was limited to a few moves, so they made her a heel and stuck her on the apron where she could come in for a hit-and-run attack.  But here you have Lita, who throws terrible punches (I mean, horrible, god-awful, Billy Gunn with a limp wrist punches) and stumbles through basic moves while on the comeback, and it makes her look bush-league because her comebacks are based on these terrible punches she’s never learned to throw.  What she needs to go super-basic and relearn the in-ring aspect.  For instance, she has GREAT, athletic legs, and she never uses them.  She should be out there kicking the shit out of the other girls with high kicks like Trish does or learning more martial-arts oriented offense so she can bring attention to her legs rather than her weak punches.  Trish can’t punch, so she doesn’t.  Neither should Lita.  If she did just that, eliminating the worst part of her offense and replacing it with a basic striking offense that’s easier to learn and more visually impressive, she would look like a better worker immediately and not like a 4th grader in a school play with high-schoolers.  But maybe that’s just me.  (2011 Scott sez:  As it turns out, she discovered her true talent was fucking over Matt Hardy and showing her awesome rack off, and she ended up as a main event draw with Edge as a result.  Go with what you know!)

– Ambulance Match:  Shane McMahon v. Kane.

Shane charges him to start and they tumble out of the ring, and Shane meets the stairs.  Kane takes a run at him with the stairs, but Shane retaliates with a STEEL chair and pounds him down.  Ever notice that every metallic object in wrestling, no matter what it might actually consist of, seems to be steel?  Steel railing, steel post, steel chair, steel shovel…etc.  Why not vary the atomic table a bit and have a titanium post, or a cobalt railing?  Kane gets put on the table and Shane drops the big elbow to break it.  They wander to the back and the camera cuts out (glitch #1), but another one cuts in as Shane runs away from Kane and then sneaks up on him with a kendo stick, with which he inflicts some damage.  Then, for laughs, he runs him over with an SUV.  Obviously we’ve been desensitized to cartoon violence, because that probably wouldn’t even get a two-count if pinfalls counted.  Shane barks “send it” into a walkie-talkie that appears out of nowhere (was he just carrying one, just in case?) and an ambulance (but not THE ambulance) appears, which Shane is unable to herd Kane into.  The camera cuts out again (glitch #2) and we switch to another one as the director informs us that he’s at the end of his rope via some stolen audio (glitch #3) as they keep fighting back into the arena again, where we’re at least fairly assured of the cameras remaining on the air.  Kane tosses him into the ambulance (but is it a STEEL ambulance?) as Shane takes some silly bumps and then comes back to ram Kane into it in turn.  It’s fiberglass, guys, quit being pussies.  Shane rams the back door into Kane’s head a couple of times, which at least could plausibly hurt.  Kane won’t go down, however, and boots Shane down.  Kane shoves him in, but can’t close the door.  Shane fights back, misses what was supposed to be a hurricane DDT off the ambulance, and then repeats the spot.  Sigh.  That’s the thing with non-wrestlers like Shane – if they blow something, they’re such slaves to the script that they can’t really make it up as they go along.  Shane cans him down and climbs the ambulance, but misses a dive and lands on a conveniently placed crash pad.  But was it a STEEL cardboard box?  I mean, come on, a CRASH PAD?  Apparently it was supposed to be a Van Terminator, but when you’re trying a Van Terminator off an ambulance onto a crash pad, it looks just a BIT  contrived.  They fight over the ambulance and Kane tosses him around a bit more and piledrives him on the concrete to put everyone out of their misery at13:29.  This was about 10 minutes too long for what they were trying to accomplish.  ½*

– Meanwhile, Brock bumps into Goldberg.

– The Coach comes out and makes fun of Mark Cuban in the front row, prompting a verbal showdown in the ring between Cuban and Eric Bischoff, but Randy Orton comes in and delivers an RKO to him, which Cuban sells better than half the roster.  Honest.  Total waste of PPV time, regardless.

– Meanwhile, Evolution parties with hookers.  I’m sure Steph appreciates that.

 – Smackdown tag titles:  The Basham Brothers v. Los Guerreros.

The Guerreros clean house to start, and Chavo elbows down Danny.  Eddie comes in and stomps away in the corner, setting up the rolling verticals for two.  Chavo gets a seated dropkick for two.  Eddie slingshots in for two.  Double headscissors on the Bashams, but they get a double-hotshot to take over on him.  This is apparently a “classic Bashams double-team” according to Cole.  They’ve been around for long enough to have a classic double-team? (2011 Scott sez:  VINTAGE BASHAMS!)  Eddie gets harassed outside the ring, and back in Doug gets two.  Double slingshot suplex gets two.  Good double-team move.  Doug hits the chinlock, but Eddie escapes with a headscissors, allowing the hot tag to Chavo.  He cleans house with the usual generic babyface stuff and a sideslam gets two.  Bashams fire back with a flapjack on him, but Eddie breaks up a double-powerbomb attempt and brings Doug down with a rana from the top for two.  It’s BONZO GONZO and Eddie gets dumped, leaving Chavo to fend for himself with a double-clothesline.  The Bashams do the switcheroo as Chavo goes after Shaniqua and Eddie frog splashes her, and they spank her.  Is this really necessary?  The Bashams attack again, but Chavo kicks Eddie by mistake, the Bashams switch again, and Danny pins Chavo with a rollup at 7:32.  Turned into a big mess at the end, and the stuff with Shaniqua wasn’t necessary.  **  (2011 Scott sez:  They really flushed away whatever Doug Basham could have brought to the table.  Danny not so much, but Doug had something special in OVW.)

 – Booker T, Bubba Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels v. Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, Chris Jericho, Christian & Randy Orton.

The teams don’t even get separate entrances, and poor Booker T doesn’t even get an introduction, period!  JR rambles about Fabio and giving “mad props” making people stale characters.  If ANYONE shouldn’t talk about being stale, it’s that announce team.  D-Von & Christian exchange headlocks as JR desperately tries to get “CLB” over again.  (2011 Scott sez:  Creepy Little Bastard is trending worldwide on Twitter!) D-Von slugs away on the mat and gets a clothesline for two.  Man, again someone kicks out of a clothesline.  What kind of Survivor Series is this?  Where’s Ted Dibiase to pin guys with his feet on the ropes when you need him?  RVD comes in with a spinkick for two, but Jericho dropkicks him and slugs away.  Rob mulekicks him and pounds away in the corner, into a northern lights suplex for two. Jericho gets the enzuigiri for two.  Steiner comes in and pounds him in the corner, but Rob spinkicks him for two.  Another one misses and Steiner uses the banned overhead suplex (which JR specifically calls dangerous, usually a giveaway), and a belly-to-belly gets two.  (2011 Scott sez:  Whatever happened to that suplex ban, I wonder?)  He charges and misses, but Rob goes up and gets crotched, allowing Steiner to get an overhead superplex for two.  Booker tags in, however, and slugs away on Steiner, but gets elbowed down.  Booker comes back with the axe kick and decides to Spinarooni.  Spinebuster on Steiner gets two, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA.  Steiner gets the Recliner, but the Dudleyz break it up with a double-team neckbreaker and the Bookend finishes Steiner at 7:28.  Henry bodyslams Booker for the pin at 7:53.  Poor Booker gets to job in Texas again.  Henry overpowers RVD with a clothesline but Bubba tags in and slugs away, but can’t overpower Henry.  Well, duh.  Henry chokes him out.  Henry whips him around and overpowers both Dudley Boyz, then goes after D-Von.  He misses a charge and walks into 3D at 10:03. Jericho pounds RVD down and chops away in the corner, but Rob moonsaults him for two.  Orton comes in for the first time and misses a charge, but comes back with a nice clothesline out of the corner for two.  He misses another charge (maybe he should stop charging) and RVD gets Rolling Thunder and pops up, but Jericho pushes him off the top, into an RKO at 12:06.  D-Von goes next and gets a legdrop for two.  Sideslam and flying headbutt get two. Jericho makes a blind tag but runs into D-Von on the way in, but comes back with a missile dropkick for two.  He misses a charge and D-Von shoulderblocks him, but Jericho gets the Flashback at 13:50.  So we’re 3-on-2, as Bubba charges and misses, but comes back with a sideslam for two.  Shawn comes in for the first time and chops away in the corner to set up the pummeling, fighting off Christian, but Jericho trips him up and brings Orton back in, who gets two.  Orton stomps away, but misses a dropkick (although he’s so tall that he caught Shawn in the mouth inadvertently), and tags abound.  Bubba holds off the heels as Christian is legal, and he gets hotshot and backdropped for two.  Bubba gets a samoan drop on Orton and Flips and Flops on Jericho, but can’t fly. Jericho goes low, and Christian hits the Unprettier for the pin at 16:50.  So it’s Shawn 1-on-3, which is exactly how you want it – tough enough odds to make it unlikely he’ll win, but not so ridiculous that he can’t.  Shawn fights off the heels and slugs Christian, but gets dumped, and this is where the match officially gets awesome, for those keeping track.  The heels pound him outside and Orton takes over in the ring, stomping away.  Christian works him over in the corner, but Shawn fights back, only to get dragged out of the ring by Jericho and catapulted into the post by Christian, drawing blood.  And it’s a doozy, too.  Crimson mask, stuck pig, pick your cliché.  Christian suplexes him back in for two.  He fights back but Christian goes for the Unprettier again, only to walk into a superkick and get pinned at 20:30, although Shawn basically just fell back on him by a fluke. Jericho tries next, beating the holy spirit out of Shawn in the corner, but he keeps fighting back. Jericho gets a clothesline for two.  Orton pounds him down and chokes away, but walks into a sleeper.  Orton suplexes out without too much trouble, and Jericho gets two off that.  Shawn comes back with a DDT out of the corner, but he doesn’t have enough to make the cover.  Finally he gets a hot two, but Orton saves.  Shawn dumps him to take him out of the equation, and Jericho misses the Lionsault, and Shawn is still out.  Shawn finally fights out, but misses the superkick and Jericho goes for the Walls, countered to the rollup for the pin at 23:56, leaving Shawn v. Orton. Jericho, sportsman, lays out Michaels with a chair afterwards.  I hope Trish wasn’t watching.  Orton pulls himself back into the ring and covers, but only gets two.  Orton goes up and wipes out the referee as a result, so Shawn goes for the superkick.  Bischoff runs in and kicks Shawn down, so Austin gets pissed off and stunners Orton.  From here either result is equally likely, which is why it’s great booking, but they go the heel route, and Batista runs in, delivers a powerbomb to Michaels, and Orton ends Austin’s GM job at 27:27.  This was great drama, with a superhuman effort from Shawn Michaels, and the great thing is that he was never booked like superman – he was booked as a guy getting his ass kicked who got two fluke pins and only would have won with the help of Austin, but the heels outsmarted Austin at his own game and Shawn lost the match.  The match wasn’t much before the 3-on-1 sequence, but everything after was just amazing, Match of the Year Candidate level stuff from Michaels.  **** Austin helps him up and I wait for the stunner, but none comes.  He says his goodbyes and beats up Coach as I’m pressed for time and thus fast-forward.  He’ll be back within a couple of weeks, either on RAW via a loophole or on Smackdown as the new GM, and I think we all know it.  (2011 Scott sez:  SHERIFF AUSTIN!)

 – Buried Alive:  Vince McMahon v. Undertaker.

Again I ask, how can this be Undertaker’s specialty when he’s never WON one of them?  Taker punches Vince to start, and he immediately taps an artery, doing a sick, gory bladejob that immediately makes Shawn’s seem less special.  Taker slugs away and Vince bleeds, and that’s pretty much all there is to the match.  Taker crotches him on the post, and Vince bleeds.  A lot.  Over to the other side of the ring, and Vince gets posted again.  Taker works on the leg, god knows why.  Taker keeps slugging on the cut and chokes him out with the cable as Cole points out that it’s for the threats made against Taker’s wife.  You know, in all fairness to Vince, Undertaker kidnapped and tried to rape Stephanie 4 years before Vince threatened to do the same to Sara Undertaker.  Taker keeps pounding away as the match drags on, going nowhere, and they head back into the ring.  Taker heads over to the grave and gets a STEEL shovel (see what I mean about shiny objects?) and nails Vince with it, unimpressively.  Back to the floor, as Taker puts his ankle on the stairs and slams the other stair onto it.  Hey, 1998 called, it wants its angles back.  Is Undertaker in cahoots with Kane, too?  (2011 Scott sez:  Eventually, yes, I believe he was again.) Taker finally carries Vince over to the grave, but Vince throws dirt at him and goes low, his only offense for the match.  He sends Taker into the grave, but Taker pulls him in and goes for the backhoe, but Kane’s pyro goes off, and Kane appears.  Undertaker is apparently paralyzed with fear or something, and falls into the grave, allowing Kane to bring Vince out and Vince to get into the backhoe and drop the dirt on Undertaker at11:59.  The finish was ridiculously anticlimactic and took forever to set up.  And with all the deaths in wrestling this year, do we really need matches where the object is to bury your opponent in a fake grave, complete with tombstone?  DUD  No one stops to ask if Taker is still, say, alive, and we move on to the next match.  I guess it was just symbolic burial.

 – RAW World title:  Goldberg v. HHH.

HHH is looking very bloated and out-of-shape.  I mean, it’s really noticeable.  Goldberg attacks him to start and gets a spear even before the bell, then goes after Flair too, and he dumps HHH.  They brawl outside and HHH meets the stairs a few times and gets dropped on the railing.  Back in, powerslam and Goldberg goes for a press slam, but the injured ankle gives way and HHH goes for it with a chop block.  Goldberg gets tossed and HHH works the ankle with a chair and Flair posts the ankle, and they head back in for another chop block.  HHH keeps stomping the ankle and Flair adds some cheapshots.  Choking follows.  Goldberg bails and Flair attacks the ankle, and they head back in, where HHH drops a knee on the ankle and goes to a half-crab.  Goldberg is under the ropes, however.  HHH tries to post him, but Goldberg powers off.  HHH goes right back to the ankle again, but Goldberg comes out of the corner with a clothesline.  He goes for another slam and HHH awkwardly escapes with another chop block, setting up a figure-four.  Goldberg blocks and the ref is bumped as a result, so HHH gets some brass knux from Flair.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  HHH clocks Goldberg for two, and then elbowdrops the ref out of spite.  He retrieves his trusty sledgehammer, but walks into a boot from Goldberg.  Flair gets slammed off the top, as usual, and Goldberg fights them both off, but now the rest of Evolution comes in and gets sledged by Goldberg.  HHH catches him with a Pedigree attempt, but Goldberg backdrops out, symbolically tosses down the hammer, and ops to finish with the spear and jackhammer instead at 11:41.  Well, they sure booked him strong tonight, I’ll give ‘em that.  Match wasn’t good or anything, but hopefully it helped Goldberg.  If HHH really wants to be the bigger man, he’ll let himself get punked out by Orton tonight and then take his vacation to Hollywood.  *1/2  (2011 Scott sez:  C’mon, The Chaperone isn’t gonna make itself!)

The Bottom Line:

The booking and effort were strong, but there was too much talking and dead space in the middle, especially with matches involving people named McMahon, so even with Shawn’s miracle performance I can’t go any higher than thumbs in the middle.

With Undertaker,Austin, Rock and HHH all gone, however, the main event scene will be forced to push someone new for the first time since 1997.  I guess that’ll be the real test.  (2011 Scott sez:  The guy they picked did OK for himself, at least, even if half the arena hates him at any one time.)

 

 

Survivor Series Countdown: 2003

The SmarK Rant for Survivor Series 2003

– Just to put things in perspective for this show, I was the only person to show up at my friend’s place to actually watch this one.  And usually there’s 6-8 people there.

– Live from Dallas, TX.

– Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz.

– Opening match:  John Cena, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly v. Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan & A-Train. 

Holly attacks Brock and gets DQ’d right off the bat.  Bradshaw gets the honorary “pin with a clothesline” on A-Train (okay, it’s a lariat, but still…) at 0:44 after Train misses a charge. Show comes in and chokeslams him at 1:03.  This is like a RAW match or something.  Cena comes in and tries an F-U on Show as things slow down a bit, and Lesnar pounds on Cena in the corner.  Brock misses a charge and Cena can’t overpower him, so he clips him instead.  Cena slugs away and gets a rollup for two.  Another one gets two.  Brock powers him down with a clothesline and he gets taken to the heel corner, as Morgan comes in with a headbutt and slugs him down.  Legdrop misses, but he gets a sideslam to complete the Nash Generic Moveset, bringing in Nathan Jones.  Oh, joy.  Nathan slugs him down with knees and yells a lot.  Brock pounds him down, but Cena comes back with the Throwback for two.  Benoit comes in and pounds Lesnar with chops and powers him down.  Man, they’re gonna have a hell of a PPV main event if they ever let them.  Brock hotshots him and gets a lariat, but opts to tag Show in instead of going for the pin.  It’s SURVIVOR SERIES.  A clothesline is a deadly move!  Show presses him and talks a lot.  Chokeslam, but Benoit reverses to the crossface, which Brock immediately breaks up.  Show goes to an abdominal stretch.  The size difference really makes that look like a silly visual.  Show does his goofy legdrop for two.  The heels engage in shenanigans behind the ref’s back, and it’s a brawl outside, Katie bar the door.  Back in, Morgan tags back in but misses a big boot and gets his knee dropkicked.  Benoit kicks him in the face and Angle comes in with a german suplex series on Morgan (welcome to the WWE, check your vertebrae at the door) and holds off Jones and Brock with more suplexes.  Heel miscommunication sees Jones booting Morgan by mistake (and slipping and falling on his ass) and the Angle slam gets rid of ½ of the dead weight at 9:21, as Morgan is gone.  More miscommunication disposes of Jones at 9:46 via anklelock.  Brock destroys Kurt with the F5 at 10:01, before the announcement can even be made.  Well, short night for Kurt, but it’s understandable.  Brock goes after Benoit and misses a charge, so Benoit works on the arm and whips him around the ring, but runs into an elbow in the corner.  Brock goes for the F5, but Benoit counters into the crossface, but Brock rolls him over for two.  Benoit is having none of that, and locks it back in again.  Brock makes the ropes.  Brock charges, but gets caught with another one, and this time he taps at 12:07.  We’ll see if it means anything in the long run.  (2011 Scott sez:  Nope.) So Show is left 2-on-1 and he slugs away on Benoit, but misses a clumsy charge and Benoit nails him with a flying shoulderblock from the top, for two.  He tries a crossface on Show, but he’s too big.  Cena gets tagged in by accident, as Show chokeslams Benoit, but Cena bops him with the chain and FUs him for the pin at 13:30 to finish.  Felt really rushed and most of the heel team dragged it down, as did the limited involvement of Kurt Angle.  **1/2

Meanwhile, Vince bumps into Shane and has a bizarre laugh-off with Austin.

Women’s title:  Molly Holly v. Lita. 

They reverse of a go-behind to start and Lita takes her down for two and gets a monkey-flip.  They head out and Molly gets sent into the apron, which gets two for Lita. Suplex and she goes for a flying headscissors, but Molly dumps her to the floor and sends her into the railing on a nice bump.  Back in, Molly gets two. Neckbreaker gets two.  We hit the chinlock and Lita fights out, but Molly switches to a dragon sleeper, giving a choice view of the cleavage.  Lita knees out of it, so Molly pounds her down again to set up the handspring elbow, which prompts JR to bring up the Great Muta.  Who’d have thunk that Muta’s name would get mentioned on WWE programming on a semi-regular basis?  (2011 Scott sez:  They should bring him in to book and wrestle, too.  Yeah, he can’t speak English, but lack of language skills doesn’t seem to be an impediment to writing RAW these days.)  Lita goes up with a sloppy high cross, for two.  Lita does some ludicrously weak punches in the corner and gets a rollup for two, but she walks into a sideslam for two.  Molly tries her own punches, but Lita powerbombs her out of the corner.  Well, that’s what happens when you trash-talk.  Lita fights back with an awkward Russian legsweep and goes up for the Litasault, which misses.  Molly Go Round hits, but only gets two.  Molly exposes a turnbuckle, sends Lita into it, and that’s enough to finish at 6:49.  All’s fair in love and Christmas sales.  Molly did her best with what she was given.  *1/2  The thing with Lita that sets her apart from the rest of the fairly-good women’s division right now is this, and this will probably sound obvious but bear with me:  With everyone else, they do what they can do, and don’t do what they can’t do.  Trish Stratus discovered her talent for gymnastic moves and high kicks, so that’s what she does.  Gail Kim was limited to a few moves, so they made her a heel and stuck her on the apron where she could come in for a hit-and-run attack.  But here you have Lita, who throws terrible punches (I mean, horrible, god-awful, Billy Gunn with a limp wrist punches) and stumbles through basic moves while on the comeback, and it makes her look bush-league because her comebacks are based on these terrible punches she’s never learned to throw.  What she needs to go super-basic and relearn the in-ring aspect.  For instance, she has GREAT, athletic legs, and she never uses them.  She should be out there kicking the shit out of the other girls with high kicks like Trish does or learning more martial-arts oriented offense so she can bring attention to her legs rather than her weak punches.  Trish can’t punch, so she doesn’t.  Neither should Lita.  If she did just that, eliminating the worst part of her offense and replacing it with a basic striking offense that’s easier to learn and more visually impressive, she would look like a better worker immediately and not like a 4th grader in a school play with high-schoolers.  But maybe that’s just me.  (2011 Scott sez:  As it turns out, she discovered her true talent was fucking over Matt Hardy and showing her awesome rack off, and she ended up as a main event draw with Edge as a result.  Go with what you know!)

– Ambulance Match:  Shane McMahon v. Kane.

Shane charges him to start and they tumble out of the ring, and Shane meets the stairs.  Kane takes a run at him with the stairs, but Shane retaliates with a STEEL chair and pounds him down.  Ever notice that every metallic object in wrestling, no matter what it might actually consist of, seems to be steel?  Steel railing, steel post, steel chair, steel shovel…etc.  Why not vary the atomic table a bit and have a titanium post, or a cobalt railing?  Kane gets put on the table and Shane drops the big elbow to break it.  They wander to the back and the camera cuts out (glitch #1), but another one cuts in as Shane runs away from Kane and then sneaks up on him with a kendo stick, with which he inflicts some damage.  Then, for laughs, he runs him over with an SUV.  Obviously we’ve been desensitized to cartoon violence, because that probably wouldn’t even get a two-count if pinfalls counted.  Shane barks “send it” into a walkie-talkie that appears out of nowhere (was he just carrying one, just in case?) and an ambulance (but not THE ambulance) appears, which Shane is unable to herd Kane into.  The camera cuts out again (glitch #2) and we switch to another one as the director informs us that he’s at the end of his rope via some stolen audio (glitch #3) as they keep fighting back into the arena again, where we’re at least fairly assured of the cameras remaining on the air.  Kane tosses him into the ambulance (but is it a STEEL ambulance?) as Shane takes some silly bumps and then comes back to ram Kane into it in turn.  It’s fiberglass, guys, quit being pussies.  Shane rams the back door into Kane’s head a couple of times, which at least could plausibly hurt.  Kane won’t go down, however, and boots Shane down.  Kane shoves him in, but can’t close the door.  Shane fights back, misses what was supposed to be a hurricane DDT off the ambulance, and then repeats the spot.  Sigh.  That’s the thing with non-wrestlers like Shane – if they blow something, they’re such slaves to the script that they can’t really make it up as they go along.  Shane cans him down and climbs the ambulance, but misses a dive and lands on a conveniently placed crash pad.  But was it a STEEL cardboard box?  I mean, come on, a CRASH PAD?  Apparently it was supposed to be a Van Terminator, but when you’re trying a Van Terminator off an ambulance onto a crash pad, it looks just a BIT  contrived.  They fight over the ambulance and Kane tosses him around a bit more and piledrives him on the concrete to put everyone out of their misery at13:29.  This was about 10 minutes too long for what they were trying to accomplish.  ½*

– Meanwhile, Brock bumps into Goldberg.

– The Coach comes out and makes fun of Mark Cuban in the front row, prompting a verbal showdown in the ring between Cuban and Eric Bischoff, but Randy Orton comes in and delivers an RKO to him, which Cuban sells better than half the roster.  Honest.  Total waste of PPV time, regardless.

– Meanwhile, Evolution parties with hookers.  I’m sure Steph appreciates that.

 – Smackdown tag titles:  The Basham Brothers v. Los Guerreros.

The Guerreros clean house to start, and Chavo elbows down Danny.  Eddie comes in and stomps away in the corner, setting up the rolling verticals for two.  Chavo gets a seated dropkick for two.  Eddie slingshots in for two.  Double headscissors on the Bashams, but they get a double-hotshot to take over on him.  This is apparently a “classic Bashams double-team” according to Cole.  They’ve been around for long enough to have a classic double-team? (2011 Scott sez:  VINTAGE BASHAMS!)  Eddie gets harassed outside the ring, and back in Doug gets two.  Double slingshot suplex gets two.  Good double-team move.  Doug hits the chinlock, but Eddie escapes with a headscissors, allowing the hot tag to Chavo.  He cleans house with the usual generic babyface stuff and a sideslam gets two.  Bashams fire back with a flapjack on him, but Eddie breaks up a double-powerbomb attempt and brings Doug down with a rana from the top for two.  It’s BONZO GONZO and Eddie gets dumped, leaving Chavo to fend for himself with a double-clothesline.  The Bashams do the switcheroo as Chavo goes after Shaniqua and Eddie frog splashes her, and they spank her.  Is this really necessary?  The Bashams attack again, but Chavo kicks Eddie by mistake, the Bashams switch again, and Danny pins Chavo with a rollup at 7:32.  Turned into a big mess at the end, and the stuff with Shaniqua wasn’t necessary.  **  (2011 Scott sez:  They really flushed away whatever Doug Basham could have brought to the table.  Danny not so much, but Doug had something special in OVW.)

 – Booker T, Bubba Dudley, D-Von Dudley, Rob Van Dam & Shawn Michaels v. Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, Chris Jericho, Christian & Randy Orton.

The teams don’t even get separate entrances, and poor Booker T doesn’t even get an introduction, period!  JR rambles about Fabio and giving “mad props” making people stale characters.  If ANYONE shouldn’t talk about being stale, it’s that announce team.  D-Von & Christian exchange headlocks as JR desperately tries to get “CLB” over again.  (2011 Scott sez:  Creepy Little Bastard is trending worldwide on Twitter!) D-Von slugs away on the mat and gets a clothesline for two.  Man, again someone kicks out of a clothesline.  What kind of Survivor Series is this?  Where’s Ted Dibiase to pin guys with his feet on the ropes when you need him?  RVD comes in with a spinkick for two, but Jericho dropkicks him and slugs away.  Rob mulekicks him and pounds away in the corner, into a northern lights suplex for two. Jericho gets the enzuigiri for two.  Steiner comes in and pounds him in the corner, but Rob spinkicks him for two.  Another one misses and Steiner uses the banned overhead suplex (which JR specifically calls dangerous, usually a giveaway), and a belly-to-belly gets two.  (2011 Scott sez:  Whatever happened to that suplex ban, I wonder?)  He charges and misses, but Rob goes up and gets crotched, allowing Steiner to get an overhead superplex for two.  Booker tags in, however, and slugs away on Steiner, but gets elbowed down.  Booker comes back with the axe kick and decides to Spinarooni.  Spinebuster on Steiner gets two, and it’s BREAKING LOOSE IN TULSA.  Steiner gets the Recliner, but the Dudleyz break it up with a double-team neckbreaker and the Bookend finishes Steiner at 7:28.  Henry bodyslams Booker for the pin at 7:53.  Poor Booker gets to job in Texas again.  Henry overpowers RVD with a clothesline but Bubba tags in and slugs away, but can’t overpower Henry.  Well, duh.  Henry chokes him out.  Henry whips him around and overpowers both Dudley Boyz, then goes after D-Von.  He misses a charge and walks into 3D at 10:03. Jericho pounds RVD down and chops away in the corner, but Rob moonsaults him for two.  Orton comes in for the first time and misses a charge, but comes back with a nice clothesline out of the corner for two.  He misses another charge (maybe he should stop charging) and RVD gets Rolling Thunder and pops up, but Jericho pushes him off the top, into an RKO at 12:06.  D-Von goes next and gets a legdrop for two.  Sideslam and flying headbutt get two. Jericho makes a blind tag but runs into D-Von on the way in, but comes back with a missile dropkick for two.  He misses a charge and D-Von shoulderblocks him, but Jericho gets the Flashback at 13:50.  So we’re 3-on-2, as Bubba charges and misses, but comes back with a sideslam for two.  Shawn comes in for the first time and chops away in the corner to set up the pummeling, fighting off Christian, but Jericho trips him up and brings Orton back in, who gets two.  Orton stomps away, but misses a dropkick (although he’s so tall that he caught Shawn in the mouth inadvertently), and tags abound.  Bubba holds off the heels as Christian is legal, and he gets hotshot and backdropped for two.  Bubba gets a samoan drop on Orton and Flips and Flops on Jericho, but can’t fly. Jericho goes low, and Christian hits the Unprettier for the pin at 16:50.  So it’s Shawn 1-on-3, which is exactly how you want it – tough enough odds to make it unlikely he’ll win, but not so ridiculous that he can’t.  Shawn fights off the heels and slugs Christian, but gets dumped, and this is where the match officially gets awesome, for those keeping track.  The heels pound him outside and Orton takes over in the ring, stomping away.  Christian works him over in the corner, but Shawn fights back, only to get dragged out of the ring by Jericho and catapulted into the post by Christian, drawing blood.  And it’s a doozy, too.  Crimson mask, stuck pig, pick your cliché.  Christian suplexes him back in for two.  He fights back but Christian goes for the Unprettier again, only to walk into a superkick and get pinned at 20:30, although Shawn basically just fell back on him by a fluke. Jericho tries next, beating the holy spirit out of Shawn in the corner, but he keeps fighting back. Jericho gets a clothesline for two.  Orton pounds him down and chokes away, but walks into a sleeper.  Orton suplexes out without too much trouble, and Jericho gets two off that.  Shawn comes back with a DDT out of the corner, but he doesn’t have enough to make the cover.  Finally he gets a hot two, but Orton saves.  Shawn dumps him to take him out of the equation, and Jericho misses the Lionsault, and Shawn is still out.  Shawn finally fights out, but misses the superkick and Jericho goes for the Walls, countered to the rollup for the pin at 23:56, leaving Shawn v. Orton. Jericho, sportsman, lays out Michaels with a chair afterwards.  I hope Trish wasn’t watching.  Orton pulls himself back into the ring and covers, but only gets two.  Orton goes up and wipes out the referee as a result, so Shawn goes for the superkick.  Bischoff runs in and kicks Shawn down, so Austin gets pissed off and stunners Orton.  From here either result is equally likely, which is why it’s great booking, but they go the heel route, and Batista runs in, delivers a powerbomb to Michaels, and Orton ends Austin’s GM job at 27:27.  This was great drama, with a superhuman effort from Shawn Michaels, and the great thing is that he was never booked like superman – he was booked as a guy getting his ass kicked who got two fluke pins and only would have won with the help of Austin, but the heels outsmarted Austin at his own game and Shawn lost the match.  The match wasn’t much before the 3-on-1 sequence, but everything after was just amazing, Match of the Year Candidate level stuff from Michaels.  **** Austin helps him up and I wait for the stunner, but none comes.  He says his goodbyes and beats up Coach as I’m pressed for time and thus fast-forward.  He’ll be back within a couple of weeks, either on RAW via a loophole or on Smackdown as the new GM, and I think we all know it.  (2011 Scott sez:  SHERIFF AUSTIN!)

 – Buried Alive:  Vince McMahon v. Undertaker.

Again I ask, how can this be Undertaker’s specialty when he’s never WON one of them?  Taker punches Vince to start, and he immediately taps an artery, doing a sick, gory bladejob that immediately makes Shawn’s seem less special.  Taker slugs away and Vince bleeds, and that’s pretty much all there is to the match.  Taker crotches him on the post, and Vince bleeds.  A lot.  Over to the other side of the ring, and Vince gets posted again.  Taker works on the leg, god knows why.  Taker keeps slugging on the cut and chokes him out with the cable as Cole points out that it’s for the threats made against Taker’s wife.  You know, in all fairness to Vince, Undertaker kidnapped and tried to rape Stephanie 4 years before Vince threatened to do the same to Sara Undertaker.  Taker keeps pounding away as the match drags on, going nowhere, and they head back into the ring.  Taker heads over to the grave and gets a STEEL shovel (see what I mean about shiny objects?) and nails Vince with it, unimpressively.  Back to the floor, as Taker puts his ankle on the stairs and slams the other stair onto it.  Hey, 1998 called, it wants its angles back.  Is Undertaker in cahoots with Kane, too?  (2011 Scott sez:  Eventually, yes, I believe he was again.) Taker finally carries Vince over to the grave, but Vince throws dirt at him and goes low, his only offense for the match.  He sends Taker into the grave, but Taker pulls him in and goes for the backhoe, but Kane’s pyro goes off, and Kane appears.  Undertaker is apparently paralyzed with fear or something, and falls into the grave, allowing Kane to bring Vince out and Vince to get into the backhoe and drop the dirt on Undertaker at11:59.  The finish was ridiculously anticlimactic and took forever to set up.  And with all the deaths in wrestling this year, do we really need matches where the object is to bury your opponent in a fake grave, complete with tombstone?  DUD  No one stops to ask if Taker is still, say, alive, and we move on to the next match.  I guess it was just symbolic burial.

 – RAW World title:  Goldberg v. HHH.

HHH is looking very bloated and out-of-shape.  I mean, it’s really noticeable.  Goldberg attacks him to start and gets a spear even before the bell, then goes after Flair too, and he dumps HHH.  They brawl outside and HHH meets the stairs a few times and gets dropped on the railing.  Back in, powerslam and Goldberg goes for a press slam, but the injured ankle gives way and HHH goes for it with a chop block.  Goldberg gets tossed and HHH works the ankle with a chair and Flair posts the ankle, and they head back in for another chop block.  HHH keeps stomping the ankle and Flair adds some cheapshots.  Choking follows.  Goldberg bails and Flair attacks the ankle, and they head back in, where HHH drops a knee on the ankle and goes to a half-crab.  Goldberg is under the ropes, however.  HHH tries to post him, but Goldberg powers off.  HHH goes right back to the ankle again, but Goldberg comes out of the corner with a clothesline.  He goes for another slam and HHH awkwardly escapes with another chop block, setting up a figure-four.  Goldberg blocks and the ref is bumped as a result, so HHH gets some brass knux from Flair.  It’s the gift that keeps on giving.  HHH clocks Goldberg for two, and then elbowdrops the ref out of spite.  He retrieves his trusty sledgehammer, but walks into a boot from Goldberg.  Flair gets slammed off the top, as usual, and Goldberg fights them both off, but now the rest of Evolution comes in and gets sledged by Goldberg.  HHH catches him with a Pedigree attempt, but Goldberg backdrops out, symbolically tosses down the hammer, and ops to finish with the spear and jackhammer instead at 11:41.  Well, they sure booked him strong tonight, I’ll give ‘em that.  Match wasn’t good or anything, but hopefully it helped Goldberg.  If HHH really wants to be the bigger man, he’ll let himself get punked out by Orton tonight and then take his vacation to Hollywood.  *1/2  (2011 Scott sez:  C’mon, The Chaperone isn’t gonna make itself!)

The Bottom Line:

The booking and effort were strong, but there was too much talking and dead space in the middle, especially with matches involving people named McMahon, so even with Shawn’s miracle performance I can’t go any higher than thumbs in the middle.

With Undertaker,Austin, Rock and HHH all gone, however, the main event scene will be forced to push someone new for the first time since 1997.  I guess that’ll be the real test.  (2011 Scott sez:  The guy they picked did OK for himself, at least, even if half the arena hates him at any one time.)