Royal Rumble 2004

Royal Rumble 2004
Date: January 25, 2004
Location: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 17,289
Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Tazz, Jerry Lawler, Jonathan Coachman

It’s a big night and one of the most important shows of the year as we officially start the Road to Wrestlemania. The Royal Rumble is more wide open than in recent years and that’s often the best thing that can happen for the match. Other than that we have a pair of World Title matches, with Raw’s likely being too long and Smackdown’s needing to move on before the company makes itself look worse. Let’s get to it.

Read moreRoyal Rumble 2004

Smackdown – January 22, 2004

Smackdown
Date: January 22, 2004
Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Attendance: 6,500
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s the final show before the Royal Rumble and most of Sunday is already set. You can always use more focus on the Rumble itself, but I have a bad feeling we might be in for a heavy dose of Hardcore Holly vs. Brock Lesnar tonight. I for one can’t get enough of the WWE Champion vs. the race car driver. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 22, 2004

Monday Night Raw – January 19, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 19, 2004
Location: Resch Center, Green Bay, Wisconsin
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for the Royal Rumble and that means one final push for Shawn Michaels vs. HHH, which is always going to get more attention than the match the show is named after. Hopefully it’s a little better than last week’s build which droned on and on without actually adding anything. Let’s get to it.

Read moreMonday Night Raw – January 19, 2004

Smackdown – January 15, 2004

Smackdown
Date: January 15, 2004
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

With less than two weeks to go before the Royal Rumble, it’s still the Hardcore Holly Show around here. Thankfully there’s some other stuff going on to balance it out, but he’s an anchor on the momentum that the show could have. Other than that though we have Chris Benoit and John Cena having rockets strapped to their backs, which could be very entertaining. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 15, 2004

Smackdown – January 8, 2004

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

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

Read moreSmackdown – January 8, 2004

Monday Night Raw – January 5, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 5, 2004
Location: Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s a new year and my goodness it couldn’t come soon enough. While the last match of 2003 was an instant classic, it was a very rare sight to see on the red show. With two shows left to go before the Royal Rumble, it’s time to hit the gas but I’m worried about how much we’ll be hearing about Shawn Michaels vs. HHH. Let’s get to it.

Read moreMonday Night Raw – January 5, 2004

Smackdown – January 1, 2004

Smackdown
Date: January 1, 2004
Location: Laredo Entertainment Center, Laredo, Texas
Attendance: 5,100
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

This year has to be better right? Smackdown was the better of the two shows but it’s not like 2003 was very good either way. We’ve got three shows left before the Royal Rumble and aside from Hardcore Holly vs. Brock Lesnar for the Smackdown World Title, there’s very little set up. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 1, 2004

2004 Rumble

Look, I totally get the WWE pretending the 2004 Rumble doesn't exist, but why is everyone else?   I saw two lists of the best Rumbles ever, and neither put 04 in the top 10 let alone top 5, and let's face it, it's one of the greatest matches ever.  As a huge Benoit mark (not anymore) it was my favorite Rumble behind 92 and a fair equal to that one.  With 8 years now, can we the wrestling community still not give that match the credit it deserves or is the Benoit stain just forever impossible to get rid of?

​It was a great match, but I just have no desire to ever watch it again.  I'm pretty sure many people feel the same way.  ​

Why did Orton lose the title so soon in 2004?

Hi Scott,

Michael Xavier here. I've been off-blog because of the current product and am watching PPVs during the Reign of Terror that I missed because that was the last time I wasn't interested in the product. Plus, it was just referenced in the Max Landis short movie (by the way, congrats on the mention!)

Anyway, Orton beat Benoit for the RAW belt at SummerSlam 2004. It went on last, Orton won clean, and Benoit even did the "handshake of respect" to completely put him over. It was essentially portrayed as a career-making performance. The next night he got kicked out of Evolution and then lost the belt at the next PPV to Hunter. He was basically Hunter's bitch in rematches and Batista was later pushed into the RAW championship spot instead. Orton didn't get another run with a top title until he won the WWE title in October 2007, more than 3 years later.

What was the point of putting Orton over so strongly at SummerSlam only to have him lose the belt so suddenly? I'd get it if ratings and house shows tanked, but he was already being set up to lose it to Hunter the very next night, and then was essentially out of serious consideration of being champion for 3 years.

Anyway, any knowledge on this?

​The explanation I've always heard is that Hunter felt like they needed a heel champion for whatever the voting PPV was that year (Taboo Tuesday or Cyber Sunday, I forget) because fans wouldn't want to vote between three heels and the choices were stronger on the babyface side anyway.  Plus Orton was really a spectacular flop as champion, like really badly, so it worked out OK anyway.  ​

October Countdown: WWE Taboo Tuesday 2004

The SmarK Rant for WWE Taboo Tuesday 2004 (And now to the RAW half of October 2004’s PPV offerings, with one of the worst concepts for a PPV that they actually tried to follow through with for THREE YEARS.  At least with Fatal 4-Way they gave up after one.)  – I think that next to some of WCW’s dumber offerings, that’s one of the worst major PPV names I’ve ever heard. But that’s just me. – Live from Milwaukee, WI. The arena looks horribly empty tonight, which can’t be a good sign. – Your hosts are JR & King. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Chris Jericho v. Shelton Benjamin. I voted for Benjamin, for those wondering. My heart wanted Big Dave, but I thought this would be a better match. (Can you imagine Batista losing a popularity contest to Shelton friggin’ Benjamin now?)  Lockup to start and Jericho gets an armdrag, but Benjamin replies with his own, into an armbar. Man, this crowd is pretty scary dead for an opening match. They trade wristlocks until Jericho throws a forearm and starts chopping. Jericho chokes him down, but charges and gets dumped as a result. Benjamin follows with a baseball slide and gets two back in the ring. He hits the chinlock and takes Jericho into the corner, but charges and hits boot, which allows Jericho to get the enzuigiri for two. Backdrop suplex and Jericho drops elbows, setting up a vertical suplex and the Arrogant Cover for two. Jericho looks to be playing heel to give the crowd someone to boo. Shelton misses a dropkick, so Jericho works the back with some hard kicks and a backbreaker submission. Benjamin comes back with a sunset flip for two, but Jericho clotheslines him for two. They head up top and Benjamin gets the superplex, and it’s the double count. They slug it out and Benjamin comes back with a flying forearm and backdrop. Dragon whip gets two. Jericho comes back with the bulldog and misses his millionth Lionsault, which allows Benjamin to go up with the flying clothesline for two. Blinger Splash misses and Jericho gets the Walls, which Benjamin reverses for two. Jericho clotheslines him down again and this time hits the Lionsault, which gets two. Back to the corner for some chops, but Benjamin catches him coming out with the Exploder for the pin and the title at 10:56. Bit short, but they were going pretty good before the finish. **1/2  (As noted by Jericho, he legitimately had no idea who he was facing until it was announced, and he still managed to improv a decent match out of it.)  – Schoolgirl battle royale, WWE Women’s title: You of course have Trish, Jazz, Nidia, Victoria, Molly, Stacy and Gail Kim. This is like some sick peek into Lawler’s psyche. But then I voted for schoolgirls too, so who am I to talk. I’d have call Trish the winner on the hotness scale here. (Well duh.) JR reviews the rules of a battle royale with us, as though anyone is watching for the finer points of athleticism. Big brawl to start and Nidia loses her shirt, and gets thrown through the ropes to be eliminated. Jazz misses a clothesline and slides out. Gail Kim tries a rana on Victoria and goes out, but Victoria holds on. Trish beats on Stacy in the corner and chokes her down, but Stacy comes back with the Nash choke. Meanwhile, Molly hits Victoria with the handspring elbow and the heels try to suplex Stacy out, but Victoria saves her. Why the hell would she do that? Stacy misses a charge on Trish, and the heels slingshot Victoria out. That leaves Stacy against the heels, and they work her leg over. Stacy fights back out of the corner and almost tosses Trish, but she hangs on. Molly takes Stacy to the apron, however, and knocks her off, and then Trish turns on Molly to retain at 5:37. This was what it was — a T&A break because they no longer have any clue what to do with the women.  (Wouldn’t get any better, I’m afraid.)  – Kane v. Gene Snitsky. For some reason, the steel chain won, despite not being pushed at all leading up to the match. (Maybe they had John Cena cut a promo for it on the go-home RAW?)  Snitsky goes for the chain first, but Kane grabs him and starts pounding, then slugs away in the corner. Snitsky bails, which is probably smart, so Kane grabs the chain. Snitsky steals it away and they head back in, but Kane gets the chain back and clotheslines him down. He puts the chain in the corner and rams Snitsky into it, then slugs him out with the chain. They fight on the floor and Snitsky uses the chain to pull Kane into the post, and he stomps him down. Back in, Snitsky clotheslines him with the chain and WHIPS HIM, WHIPS HIM LIKE A DOG TONY. This match is deader than Kane’s baby. Lita apparently wants Snitsky to go down hard, according to JR. Isn’t that what got her into trouble in the first place? They slug it out and Snitsky pounds him in the corner, but Kane comes back with a clothesline. Kane fires back, but falls victim to the BODYSLAM OF DEATH and some elbows. That gets two for Snitsky. They slug it out again and Snitsky clotheslines him for two. More chain action from Snitsky, as chokes Kane out. Kane fights back, even managing to block chain-assisted punches, but he walks into a sideslam that gets two. Zombie situp and they slug it out, won by Kane, and boot each other down in a spot that has never made sense to me. I mean, you lose all momentum when you stop and lift the boot, right? So what propels each guy into the boot? (RUTHLESS AGGRESSION!) Kane tries the chokeslam, but Snitsky slugs himself free, and Kane tosses him instead. Kane retrieves the Kane again, but Snitsky kicks the stairs into Kane to slow him down, and uses a chair on him. JR then gets the most unintentionally funny line of the night: “The steel chair was not voted in!” The ref, apparently unaware of the rules of the match, doesn’t DQ Snitsky, so he keeps hitting Kane with it, and grabs the chain. He chokes Kane down like some sort of demented Hercules relative, and sets him up to Pillmanize the neck. And it WORKS! Kane bites down on a condom and the ref stops the match, but Snitsky WANTS THE PIN, and gets it at 14:20. Now that’s a heel. The match was way long and sucked ass, but Kane sold like a madman for Snitsky and made him look like the badass crazy heel of the century, as they continue to back into making Snitsky look like a million dollars. 3/4*  (Yeah, that didn’t last long.)  – Eugene v. Eric Bischoff. Uncle Eric attacks to start and uses martial arts expertise, but Eugene is already TARDING UP, no-selling a high kick and slugging away in the corner. Airplane spin, extended version, and he finishes with the big boot and legdrop at 2:09. Well, at least he’s got more hair than Hogan. DUD The voting results see Eugene shaving Bischoff’s head, and Coach wearing a dress. I was momentarily confused by the mannequin at ringside, however, since I thought it was Linda McMahon making an appearance, until I realized that it had more emotional range. Or maybe it was Katie Vick. – RAW World tag titles: La Resistance v. Edge & Chris Benoit. (So Edge and Benoit get this shot as a result of losing the World title vote to Shawn Michaels.  Really makes the tag belts seem prestigious.)  This is a rematch from June, oddly enough, when La Rez won the belts in the first place. The story is that Edge considers himself above the tag titles, which is of course true. Edge & Conway slug it out to start, and Benoit throws some chops and a clothesline. Snap suplex and Edge comes in for some clubbing forearms, but Conway fires back and La Rez works him over in the corner. Grenier comes in, but misses an elbow, so Edge suplexes him and goes up. However, crowd opinion causes him to change his mind, and he heads back in after some words with Benoit. Benoit comes in with a backdrop suplex on Grenier for two, and a backbreaker for two. They botch a flapjack spot and Edge comes back in, but Conway stomps him down for two. Edge comes back with a forearm and spears Conway off the apron. If the intent is to portray Edge sleepwalking through the match and going through the motions, mission accomplished. Back in, Grenier drops a knee for two and hits the chinlock. Edge fights out, so Grenier flapjacks him for two. Double-team suplex gets two for Conway. Grenier waves the flag in a weird attempt at drawing any kind of heat for this mess, but it fails. Conway and Edge slug it out, and then Grenier and Edge, before Edge finally gets a clothesline out of the corner and makes the hot tag to Benoit. Grenier quickly catches him with a clothesline to the back of head, however, and stomps away for two. Back to the heel corner for yet another heat segment, as Conway goes to the facelock and this thing grinds to a halt like a rusty gear. Benoit comes back with a german suplex and makes a false tag to Edge, and La Rez beats on Benoit while the crowd finally shows a bit of life. This prompts Edge to walk out on the match, leaving Benoit alone. We follow him back to the locker room, as he heads home without even showering. He’s so evil, he eschews good hygiene! (Once he became the Rated-R Superstar he would fully embrace that kind of sleazy philosophy.)  Meanwhile, back in the ring, Grenier is holding a chinlock and goes up, but Benoit brings him back down with a superplex. They try Au Revoir, but Benoit hits Grenier with a german suplex and tosses him. More german suplexes for Conway and the crossface finish at 16:14, to give Chris Benoit the World tag titles all by himself. Really disappointing, dull stuff. *1/2  (I honestly forget how they got out of that storyline later.)  – Lingerie pillow fight: Carmella v. Christy. In a spot you don’t see every day, they throw falsies at each other to start, and then slug it out with pillows. Then it’s the usual rolling around and choking, C-level house show comedy match stuff, and Christy thankfully gets the pin at 1:49 to put a merciful end to it. –**  (She’s much better off as TNA’s ring announcer now.)  – RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. (Orton’s first title reign was sabotaged by HHH because he felt that there should be a heel champion going into this meaningless PPV.  True story.)  Don’t blame me, I voted for Benoit. Slugfest in the corner to start as JR makes excuses for Shawn, and HHH bails. Back in, Shawn chops him down, but HHH smartly goes for the knee and starts stomping it in the corner. They slug it out and HHH goes down, but he recovers by kicking him in the knee and dropping one of his own. HHH slugs away on the mat, but Shawn fights back until getting kicked in the knee again. HHH methodically drops elbows on the bad knee and bends it in a submission move. Back to the elbows, which set up a figure-four, and Shawn is looking to Jesus for the Divine Run-In. The ref wants to stop the match, but Shawn is made of sterner stuff. He makes the ropes, so HHH goes back to beating on him again. HHH tries to post him, so Shawn pulls him back into the post and makes the comeback. A few chops are all he gets, however, before HHH kicks him in the knee again. Another try at the figure-four is blocked by Shawn, however, and HHH gets sent into the corner for the double KO. Shawn is up first and slugs away, but an atomic drop on the bad knee proves to be a pretty bad idea. Still, he keeps fighting with a clothesline and slugs HHH down for two. HHH comes back with a shot to the knee, but Shawn uses a shot to the balls. Call it a draw. DDT puts HHH down again and Shawn goes up for whatever stupid reason, and drops the elbow. The leg is bad, but he’s JESUSING UP. The crowd finally gets into things as Shawn sets up the superkick, but Batista runs in and distracts the ref. Superkick and HHH is out, but Edge returns from his car ride and spears Shawn, allowing HHH to retain at 14:04. This was pretty different from their usual 40 minute wankfests, with the whole thing being about Shawn’s bad leg, which was nice for a change. *** – Cage match: Ric Flair v. Randy Orton. Orton overpowers him to start, but Flair throws some chops in return. Orton backdrops him out of the corner, so Flair tries to climb, but Orton chases him up there. Flair brings him down with the old thumb to the eyes, and works him over with chops. Ballshot and Flair takes him into the cage, drawing blood. Flair slugs him in the corner and does some cheesegrater action on Orton’s face. He stomps Orton down and throws the chops, which covers Flair’s fist with blood. That’s the stuff. More chops, really nasty ones, but Orton punches back and sends Flair into the cage. And now it’s double juice. Flair tries to escape, but we get the full moon spot and they fight on the top rope. Flair of course goes down the hard way, and Orton keeps beating on him in the corner. Flair goes low again to counter that flurry, but Orton slugs him down and pounds away. And now it’s Flair getting that cheesegrater action, and Orton dropkicks him into the cage, with Flair trapped in the ropes. Nice spot. Flair tries to climb, but you know what happens. Orton goes up with a high cross for two. Neckbreaker gets two. Flair chops him back down and crawls for the door, but Orton pulls him back in. Flair pulls out the old faithful brass knuckles, but only gets two. Flair then grabs a chair from the door area, but misses, and the RKO finishes at 10:35. Flair was feeling it tonight, with some fun flashback to the 80s NWA stuff. ***1/4 Flair and Orton share a moment afterwards, which hopefully will allow Flair to turn face again and mentor Orton.  (Sadly, no.)  The Inside Pulse: Interesting, but flawed, concept aside, the actual execution of the PPV left a lot to be desired, with a ton of bad matches and stuff that had no place on PPV. They’re only got themselves to blame for booking Carmella v. Christy and Eugene v. Bischoff. This should hopefully signal the end of this concept.  (Nope!)  Thumbs down.

October Countdown: WWE No Mercy 2004

The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2004 (So now we’re into the era where WWE was doing everything in their power to make me stop watching, although the rise of Batista and Cena was enough to keep me interested for a while longer.  However, I stopped watching Smackdown entirely at this point, and RAW would soon follow when the show shifted from TSN, a basic cable channel, to the Score, a pay channel, here in Canada.)  – I got my hands on this one a while back, but really I just wasn’t in the mood for more of World champion JBL until I had enough cold medication to deal with it properly. – Live from Jersey. – Your hosts are Cole & Tazz. – Opening match: Eddie Guerrero v. Luther Reigns. Shoving match to start and they fight over the lockup, and Reigns gets a short-arm clothesline out of the corner. How can they call Reigns a “rookie” when he’s been around as Horschu since 1999 or so? I kinda thought we were past that stuff. (Tensai and “rookie” sensation Ryback would beg to differ.)  Eddie grabs a headlock, but gets overpowered. Eddie takes him down with a single-leg to block some kicks, and then dropkicks him low and gets two off a snapmare. Into the corner, where Eddie gets whipped into the turnbuckles and then press-slammed. That gets two. Back to the corner again and we hit the dreaded bearhug. Mark Jindrak, offering advice at ringside, tells him to “squeeze”. Well, thank god for that kind of insightful coaching. I shudder to think what he might have done otherwise. (At least he didn’t give pharmaceutical advice, like “Buy your shit from Signature Pharmacies, no one will ever find out!”)  Reigns throws a big boot, whiffs by six inches, and Eddie sells anyway to give Reigns two. He slugs Eddie down for two. We hit the chinlock, and Eddie powers out and mulekicks him, so Reigns hits him with a backdrop suplex for two. Backbreaker and Reigns works it as the match grinds to a halt. Eddie breaks free, but charges and lands on the floor, allowing Jindrak to stomp him. Back in, Reigns hammers away while Cole goes into his stupid “TV doesn’t do justice to how big Reigns is” stuff, like he used to do with A-Train, as if we’d see him live and go “Oh my god, he’s so BIG. Let’s pay lots and lots of money to watch him wrestle now!” Another backbreaker sets up a powerslam, which gets two. He tries to Roll the Dice, but Eddie fights out and pushes off the ropes to escape. Eddie fights back as Reigns tries to remember how to sell, and gets a dropkick and some clotheslines. Rolling verticals, but Reigns blocks the third one and gets a forward suplex. Eddie rolls out to recover, and steals a nightstick from a “security guard”, and puts it in his boot, but misses the frog splash, then pulls the stick out of his boot and hits Reigns with it, and finishes with the frog splash at 13:21. This was WAY long and didn’t really go anywhere, with Eddie getting beaten on for 10 minutes and then hitting a prelim guy with a nightstick to win. *1/2  (Yeah, Eddie was on the downswing of his career, for sure.  He was beat up and burned out and never really recovered.)  – Cruiserweight title: Spike Dudley v. Nunzio. Apparently the FBI have turned face, although crowd response doesn’t seem to back it up too much. I do like Spike’s new evil goatee, as opposed to his former wussy goatee. They fight over a lockup and take it to the mat, then hang on while there and fight into the corner for the break. Cute. Nunzio comes back with a hiptoss, and Spike bails. Back in, Spike hammers him and tries a slam, but Nunzio falls on top for two. Rollup gets two. Nunzio works the arm, but Spike reverses, so Nunzio leverages him out of the ring. He follows with a bit of an ugly dive, and back in gets two. Takedown gets two. He goes up and gets shoved off by D-Von, which gives Spike two. Spike goes to a full-nelson, but Nunzio fights out, so Spike tries a rollup, which Nunzio counters for two. Nunzio goes up, but gets dropkicked on the way down for two. Spike chokes away, as do the Dudleyz, and Spike gets two. Back to the full-nelson, but Nunzio reverses to a chokeslam and makes the comeback. Backdrop suplex gets two. Into the corner for two. Sicilian Slice gets two. They fight on the floor and Spike gets backdropped out there, which gets two for Nunzio back in. Backslide gets two. D-Von tries grabbing the leg, triggering a brawl with Johnny the Bull, but Bubba posts Nunzio behind the ref’s back and Spike gets the pin at 8:50. Decent but all the interference was a bit much. **1/2 – Billy Kidman v. Paul London. (Oh yeah, Kidman’s heel turn, totally forgot about that.  The riffs on the poor guy on Are Your Serious are never not funny, by the way.)  Kidman does a pretty good arrogant sneer, I gotta say. Kidman stalls outside to start, so London dropkicks him into the railing and brings him in. He throws some forearms and gets a backdrop and a stiff kick to the back, then kicks him into the corner and a sidekick gets two. Kidman bails, so London follows with a springboard moonsault. Very nice. Back in, he slingshots in with a splash for two. Kidman comes back with a straight kick to the face and tosses London into the post, then baseball slides him into it. He starts stomping the ribs and goes to an abdominal stretch, before punting the ribs and getting two. He goes to a surfboard, but London fights out, only to land in a gutbuster from Kidman that gets two. Faceplant gets two. Back to the abdominal stretch. London fights out, so Kidman stomps him down again. London keeps fighting back, knocking Kidman down with a forearm and a spinkick, but Kidman tries a bulldog. London blocks and gets an enzuigiri for two. London tries a powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB KIDMAN, and Kidman thus gets two. They fight on the apron and Kidman comes back in and tries a powerbomb, but London reverses to a rana for what looked like three, but was apparently only two. Kidman hits him with a dropkick to stop the rally and goes up, but then he changes his mind because he’s afraid of his own power. Back in, London comes back with a superkick and goes up, doing his own version of the Shooting Star Press, but it hits the knees and Kidman is ALIVE again, finishing with the real deal at 10:34. That’s actually an interesting storyline for a midcard match. **3/4 Kidman turns on the fans for good as London bites down on a condom and gets stretchered out, and then to really stress what a bad day he’s having, Kidman does the SSP again while London is strapped down. OK, that was pretty cool.  (Didn’t go anywhere.  Kidman called it a career due to breaking a bone in his face, and became an agent and trainer soon after.  London burned ALL his bridges in WWE and left as well.)  – Smackdown tag team titles: Rene Dupree & Kenzo Suzuki v. Rob Van Dam & Rey Mysterio. (Yeah, Dupree and Suzuki as tag champions was a thing.   Strange thing is they actually weren’t THAT bad as a team!)  Kenzo butchers Springsteen before the match, which I guess is supposed to make me hate him. If bad singing defines heels these days, then everyone on the Originals album should be heels. RVD starts with Dupree and it’s a posedown. They do some matwork to start and trade powerbomb attempts, which leads to a pinning reversal thing. Sadly, Dupree is no Jerry Lynn, but it was a good try. Rob grabs a headlock and the faces double-team into a Rey dropkick for two. Dupree takes him into the corner and Kenzo comes in with some chops, but Rey kicks him into the corner and dropkicks him there. Kenzo bails and Dupree charges, so Rey dumps him and the faces hit the champs with stereo somersault planchas. Back in, RVD gets two on Suzuki. Rob cleans up on both heels, hitting Suzuki with a spinkick, but he goes up and gets sent to the railing by Dupree. Back in, RVD is YOUR stoner-in-peril. Suzuki throws some chops in the corner and grinds a knee into Rob’s throat. Dupree gets a snapmare and hits the chinlock, as the evil foreigners do the standard tag team formula stuff. Suzuki drops a knee for two. He goes to the armbar, but Rob fights out with a high kick and makes the hot tag to Rey. He throws kicks at Kenzo and DDTs him for two. Rey slugs away in the corner and springboards in for two. Kenzo fires back with a chop, but gets taken down into the 619 area code. Dupree breaks it up and tries a powerbomb on Rey, so RVD comes in and takes Dupree down to set up Rolling Thunder as the faces break out the double-team goodnees. 619 for Kenzo, take two, and this time it hits. The ref is distracted with RVD, however, and when Rey goes up Dupree brings him down, and Suzuki gets the pin with the ropes at 9:04. Surprisingly (shockingly) entertaining, as they stuck to formula and it worked. **1/2 The finish was weak and the heat segment was way too short, however.  (I forget if the foreigners won the belts from the 4:20 crew or the other way around, and I don’t really care.  Suzuki is doing his thing in AJPW last I checked and Dupree dropped off the face of the earth.)  – Kurt Angle v. Big Show. I guess Show has been experiencing the pain of male-pattern baldness, too, thus explaining his new Steve Austin look.  (Yup, once he went that route, he never went back.)  I don’t get how Show tries to commit murder on Angle by tossing him off a balcony, however, and this ends up as Show as the face and Angle as the heel. I guess that didn’t happen anymore. Show overpowers him to start and Angle bails. Back in, Angle tries a headlock, and Show powers him into the corner. Show brings him into the corner for the big butt and a hiptoss out of the corner. Suplex gets one, as Show steps on him in lieu of a proper cover. Press slam and Angle bails again, and walks out at 3:36. Smart man. However, GM Teddy Long comes out and threatens to fire Angle if he doesn’t get back in the ring. So back in we go, and Show pounds him down and hiptosses him again. Angle bails again and this time grabs a chair, but Show boots it back in his face. Whoops. Back in, Show pounds him in the corner, and then catches him coming off the second rope with a slam. Chokeslam is reversed by Angle, who FINALLY gets offense in, as he anklelocks Show. He takes him down and locks it in, but Show hangs on and powers out, bumping the ref in the process. Angle brings the chair back in and starts pounding the knee with it, then pulls the knee from the apron. Back in, Angle clips the knee and goes to a stepover toehold. He keeps working the knee until Show powers him off again and comes back. Clothesline and slam set up the big boot, but Show crotches himself on another try. Angle follows with the Angle Slam for two. Angle finds a…uh…tranquilizer gun under the ring (well, it’s different at least) but Show takes it away and makes the comeback. Reverse powerbomb and he tosses Angle into the corner, setting up the chokeslam off the top for the clean pin at 15:05. Well, we definitely know that Angle doesn’t have a problem doing jobs after that. **  (I remember nothing about this feud.)  – US title: Booker T v. John Cena. This is the finals of the best-of-5 series, which would be more meaningful and exciting had the matches been any good. Slugfest to start and Cena takes him down for two. Booker goes to a facelock, but Cena clotheslines him out of the ring. Back in, Booker hammers him down and throws chops, but runs into Cena’s boot and gets clotheslined for two. Spinebuster gets two for Booker, however. They brawl outside and Cena gets sent into the stairs, but then so does Booker. Oh, irony. Back in, Cena gets two. Booker comes back with a sidekick and gets two. Cena gets a crossbody for two in a weird spot, as they fought for the pin. Booker whips him back into the corner again, however. That gets two. Booker hits the chinlock and that lasts for a bit. Cena fights out with a suplex, but gets flapjacked by Booker. That gets two. Booker hammers away as the slow pace continues. Booker tries another sidekick and crotches himself, so Cena comes back. Bulldog and five-knuckle shuffle gets two. Booker catches him with the Bookend for two, however. He stops to get a chair for some reason, then changes his mind and tries the ax kick instead. That misses, and Cena gets two. F-U finishes at 10:19. Slow-paced and dull. *3/4 Cena’s prestigious title reign would of course last all of two days before dropping it to Epstein Ramon.  (Can you IMAGINE Cena dropping a title after a two day reign to Carlito?  Talk about backing the wrong horse.  Cena should have just held that damn US title all the way up to dethroning JBL.)  – Dawn Marie & The Dudley Boyz v. Jackie, Rico & Charlie Haas. Haas starts with Bubba, but it’s a SWERVE and D-Von starts instead. He pounds on Haas in the corner, but Charlie comes back with a hiptoss and dropkick for two. D-Von backdrops him, however, and brings in Dawn Marie, who shakes her booty at him. Jackie doesn’t like that, and comes in for some catfighting. And clothes ripping. The gratuitous camera angle of Dawn’s bra shows why they’re the best.  (The directors or Dawn’s rack?  Because both are impressive.)  Bubba comes in, however, after delivering a cheapshot to Jackie, and lays the badmouth on her, demanding a kiss. Rico, however, tags in and is happy to oblige. Bubba’s reaction is pretty funny stuff. After he stops to rinse his mouth out, he tags D-Von in to deal with Rico, and Rico gets a backslide for two. Rollup gets two. Spinkick and back kick put D-Von down, and Rico goes up, but Bubba crotches him and D-Von chokes away. D-Von drops an elbow for two. Bubba, rather upset, comes in and delivers a beating to Rico, then chokes him out with the tape. I sense some homophobia. (He IS a bully.)  Rico comes back with a DDT and makes the tag to Haas, who backdrops D-Von and spears him into the corner. Exploder for Bubba and a flying forearm for D-Von, and he’s a HAAS AFIRE! I’ve been trying to work that one in for a while. Rico comes in off a blind tag with a high cross for two, but the chicks go at it again. The Dudleyz try the Whazzup on Rico, but he’s WAY too into it for D-Von’s liking, which allows Haas to break it up. Rico superkicks Bubba to get rid of him, and Jackie spears Dawn for the catfight, before Haas hits D-Von with a crossbody to set up Rico’s moonsault for the pin at 8:47. OK, that was tremendously fun. **1/2  (Fired, quit, quit, fired, retired, fired.  And this is less than a decade ago now, and look at all the ridiculous amount of turnover in the midcard.) – Hearse match, Smackdown World title: JBL v. Undertaker. Taker slugs him down to start and pounds away in the corner, then drops an elbow and slugs him down again. The ROPEWALK OF DOOM follows and Taker keeps slugging and choking. JBL tries a CLUBBING FOREARM, but Taker no-sells and boots him down again. JBL goes to the eyes and pounds UT in the corner, but Taker chokeslams him to end that rally. He makes the first try at dragging Bradshaw out, but he hangs on. Taker pounds him on the apron and drops the leg there, and they brawl in the aisle. Cole notes that the crowd is stunned by the ferocity of the Undertaker. I think they’re just bored, personally. Taker drops JBL on the railing and sends him into the stairs, and continues pounding him on the floor. He preps the table, but JBL uses the STEEL stairs to prevent him from using the table. I guess that’s what passes for psychology in Undertaker matches. Bradshaw boots him down as they fight up the aisle again, and another shot with the stairs follows. They head over to the hearse and then back down to the ring again, where JBL comes in via a flying shoulderblock from the top. Neckbreaker, but Bradshaw goes after him in a contrived position that allows Taker to use his dreaded triangle choke on him. Bradshaw taps, but of course there’s no submissions here. I know that because I tapped out about 5 minutes in, but the match kept going anyway. So JBL is out and Taker then wakes him up and slugs him down and out again, and they fight over by the table again. Taker really wants that table to break or something. Bradshaw, however, once again uses the POWER OF THE STAIRS to foil his plans. What a strange match. Bradshaw tries a piledriver on the stairs, but Taker reverses out of it and clubs him into the front row. So UT slowly hammers on JBL in the carefully designated Impromptu Brawling Area, and they fight back to ringside again. Back to the stairs as Taker tombstones him on them, and JBL starts bleeding, which seems to be the defining trait of his title reign thus far. If in doubt, bleed. (Go with what you know.)  JBL uses a chair to hold off UT, and then hits him with a monitor. Back to the table again, but UT chokeslams Bradshaw through the Spanish table. Been there, done that. And now they head back to the hearse again, with UT thankfully carrying him instead of just leading him by the hair like would usually occur, but Heidenreich pops out of the hearse, just like with every other dumb gimmick match. He pounds on Taker and chokes him down with ether (yes, ETHER, in 2004) and locks him in the hearse, which you’d think would give Bradshaw the win, but NO, Taker can even no-sell ether, and he breaks out. The Clothesline from Heck puts Taker down, and they throw him back in the hearse again, and that’s enough to finish at 21:08. “I cannot believe this match!” Cole declares. That’s because it’s NOT BELIEVEABLE. *1/4 Usual slow brawl from Undertaker and blood from JBL leading to the cliché gimmick finish. And then, backstage, Heidenreich drives a truck into the hearse. And so UT is dead. Again. I hear James Andrews prescribed 6-8 weeks of rehab and some Tylenol for that.  (We came dangerously, DANGEROUSLY close to Undertaker v. Heidenreich at Wrestlemania 21 instead of Orton.  SLEEP TIGHT!  AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)  The Bottom Line: A fairly enjoyable B-show up until the god-awful main event, with every cheap brawling trick from 1998 and a finish right out of 1996 to cap it off, which pretty much dragged this one down from a thumbs up to a thumbs down in one fell swoop, since there was nothing else on the show to go out of your way to see anyway. And not many did, as the show did 180,000 buys, thus setting a new record low for WWE PPVs. Congratulations, JBL!  (They WISH the B-Shows were doing 180K domestic these days.)  Thumbs down.