Smackdown – August 1, 2002

Smackdown
Date: August 1, 2002
Location: Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s back to the blue show where Brock Lesnar is a monster and everyone else is just hoping he doesn’t come after them. On top of that though we have a new face force comprised of John Cena, Rey Mysterio and Edge, who cleaned house to end last week’s show. That being said, their opponents are now gone due to Bischoff vs. Stephanie. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 29, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 29, 2002
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re officially in the HHH Era on Raw but unfortunately he doesn’t really have a lot to do yet. Last week HHH debuted on the show and turned heel by beating up Shawn Michaels, but there’s absolutely no way that’s going to lead to a match anytime soon of course. With about a month left before Summerslam, the card is in need of some matches in a hurry. Let’s get to it.

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Vengeance 2002

Vengeance 2002
Date: July 21, 2002
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 12,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz

We’re in an interesting place here as both shows have their first General Managers but the stories are hit and miss at best. The main event is the Rock, who has had one match since he came back, challenging Undertaker for the title in a triple threat also involving Kurt Angle. This is really just a pit stop before Summerslam though so let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 15, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 15, 2002
Location: Continental Airlines Arena, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

This is a big one. Last week it was clear that something had to change around here after one of the most dreadful nights in the history of this show. It’s not so much that the wrestling was bad (save for the mixed tag) but there was almost nothing worth watching and one boring match after another. Things really do need to change and change they will. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 8, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 8, 2002
Location: First Union Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Raw is actually picking up a bit at the moment as they’re making some efforts to push the younger talent. Brock Lesnar is moving up the card and it’s clear that Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit are becoming the top heels. Unfortunately that leaves the NWO, who are promising that HHH will be joining tonight. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – July 1, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 1, 2002
Location: Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re starting the second half of the year as things aren’t exactly the most thrilling at the moment. The big story here though is Jeff Hardy challenging Undertaker for the Undisputed Title in a ladder match. Now this match is really, really fondly remembered but I wasn’t blown away when I saw it a few months back. Maybe another viewing will change that so let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – June 24, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 24, 2002
Location: Gund Arena, Cleveland, Ohio
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Thank goodness we’re past the miserable King of the Ring and that means it’s time to get read for Vengeance. Brock Lesnar is the new King and that means he’ll be challenging for the title at Summerslam, but that’s still a long way away. On top of that we’ve got the NWO running around doing…..something that isn’t entirely clear. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – June 17, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 17, 2002
Location: The Arena in Oakland, Oakland, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for King of the Ring and that means we’re getting the first two quarterfinal matches tonight. Unfortunately it means we’re also getting more of the mess that Raw has become. However, with WWE having to hit a big reset button last week, it should be interesting to see where things go from here. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – June 3, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 3, 2002
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Attendance: 7,800
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re at an interesting place here as it seems that we’re gearing up for Steve Austin/Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chris Benoit though Benoit isn’t quite ready to get back in the ring after his neck injury. Unfortunately the NWO is still running around and that’s not good for anyone, especially the people actually on the team. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – May 27, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 27, 2002
Location: Skyreach Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Attendance: 9,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Things are getting a bit more interesting around here but there’s a lot of bad still going on as well. Possibly above all else though, it seems that people like Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam are moving up towards the top of the card, which is the most important thing that could happen at the moment. Let’s get to it.

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What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – August 2000

by Logan Scisco

The past two weeks we have spent time looking at
alternatives to WWF Magazine.  We return to WWF Magazine this week, looking at the August 2000 issue.  On the cover is someone who Triple H says is
a very unlikely candidate for the Hall of Fame:

Those who followed the product during the Attitude Era
remember that the WWF gradually tried to make Chyna sexier for viewers.  She started as a serious bodyguard in a role
unlike that of any other woman who came before her (or even since), but then
started wearing makeup and by 2000 the WWF was presenting her as more of a
physically gifted, attractive “diva.”
It should also be noted that our managing editor of the
magazine is no longer Kevin Kelly. 
Instead it is a woman named Laura Bryson.  By this point the magazine was a shell of its
former self, at least in my eyes, and the pay-per-view recaps will show that.
In the Letters to the Editor, Dan Hayes writes an angry
letter saying that Lita is not a potential legend since she is just attached to
Essa Rios and is not pursuing a singles title. 
Of course, that would change down the road and by the time this magazine
was on newsstands, Lita had ditched Rios and joined the Hardy Boyz.  A few fans write in how they are fans of
Jacqueline and how awesome she is.  And
Rich Coleman writes an angry letter saying that the WWF is in danger of
“turning soft” because babyfaces like Kane just walk off instead of fight.  It is probably a safe bet that Rich is no
longer a fan of the product today.
This month’s “Tales From the Turnbuckle” breaks down the
three greatest SummerSlam matches of all-time.
If you cannot see the list the selections are:  (1) Undertaker-Mankind from SummerSlam 1996,
(2) Test-Shane McMahon from SummerSlam 1999, and (3) Big Boss Man-Koko B. Ware
from SummerSlam 1988.  Yes, no Ultimate
Warrior-Rick Rude and no Bret Hart-Mr. Perfect. 
The company’s unwillingness to reference wrestlers who were still in WCW
killed this list since that meant no Bret, no Hulk Hogan, no Randy Savage, and
no Scott Hall.  Evidently, Big
Bossman-Koko was a historic bout because “the contrasting styles of these two
Superstars set the tone for many of the great SummerSlam matches that would
follow.”  So next time you enjoy your
favorite SummerSlam match, give proper credit to the Bossman and Koko.  Oh, and Frankie too!
Then we get an illustration of the haircuts available in
the WWF Barber Shop:
And this month’s magazine is pitching your ability to get
some WWF cards that are twenty-two carat gold. 
Enjoy seeing Billy Gunn in all his glory, trying to avoid submitting to
the Rock in a headlock!  Each card will
cost you $9.95 (plus 95 cents of shipping and handling).
The “Rookies and Legends” column is still going strong,
profiling Bull Buchanan.
Buchanan was initially brought in as a member of the
Truth Commission in 1997 before returning a few years later as a partner of the
Big Bossman.  He would then be part of
the Right to Censor and had a brief partnership with John Cena before eventually
departing the company.  The only
highlight of his run was jobbing to Crash Holly in an upset at the 2000 King of
the Ring.  He was also briefly a tag team
champion with the “Goodfather,” but tag team title runs become a blur for me
after 1999.
We are then treated to a list of five things we will
never find for auction from “SteviE-bay” (in reference to Stevie Richards):
By this point, the magazine had a “Face2Face” feature
that fills the part of the magazine formerly occupied by Vic Venom’s “The Bite”
in the mid-1990s.  It is a debate column
where Aaron Williams and Laura take opposite stands on an issue.  The issue this month is Vince McMahon.
Aaron rips McMahon for cheating and becoming an “impotent
person.”  The comment about Vince having
an Ivy League education is something that I do not think is actually true, as
Linda earned her degree from East Carolina University and Vince was around her
at the time.  Laura defends Vince as “in
tune to the reality of the world we live in,” something that could not be said
of the booking of the company now.  She
also refers to Vince as an American hero, thereby explaining Stephanie’s 9/11
reference on Smackdown! in 2001.
It seems that every issue of WWF Magazine that I have reviewed so far, except for the June 1995
edition, had a piece about Chyna.  This
one is no different, as she gets attention in an article called “Power Behind
the Throne.”
I guess this is tied in with the “Chyna’s Secret” heading
on the magazine, but the story does not really talk about a secret.  It recaps her partnerships with D-Generation
X, Kane, and Eddie Guerrero.  Evidently
she also had an alliance with the Kat sometime in the Attitude Era, but I do
not recall that at all.  In light of
Triple H’s podcast, one thing stands out: 
“We [Triple H and Chyna] went our own ways, but that does not rule out
our paths crossing again.”  It definitely
seems like Triple H had put the kibosh on any plans to have their paths cross at
a future Hall of Fame ceremony.  Still,
though, why tell readers you are going to talk about “Chyna’s Secret” and then
just write an article that merely reiterates what we have heard about Chyna in
magazine pieces in the years up to this point: 
she has worked with lots of great superstars and knows their strengths
and weaknesses.
Remember the “Got Milk?” campaign?  Steve Austin is here to remind us!
A career retrospective piece is then provided for the
Undertaker
In recapping the Undertaker’s big foes, Jimmy Snuka is
even added to the list.  Poor Jimmy is
portrayed just like Kamala, the Giant Gonzalez, and Yokozuna:  he wanted to bury the Undertaker’s soul and
“erase his very being.”  And here I
thought that all Snuka wanted to do was win a WrestleMania match in Los
Angeles!  This is a pretty blah piece,
just telling educated fans everything they already know about the
Undertaker.  And this piece does not even
talk about the Undertaker’s new biker persona!
The late Crash Holly gets profiled in this issue as well,
as writer Mike Fazioli calls him “the king of Hardcore.”
Crash is best known for defending the Hardcore title on a
24/7 basis, which led to him being called the “Houdini of Hardcore.”  If you ever try to look at the history of
that title it will make your head hurt as the 24/7 rule led to about three to
four title changes on every house show. 
We are informed that Crash’s toughness comes from his cousin Hardcore
Holly, who used to beat him up when he would get angry.  After all, look what Bob did to Matt
Cappotelli on Tough Enough!
We then get our customary, somewhat uncomfortable profile
of Roots Genoa that we are bound to come across in a WWF Magazine of this time period
It highlights how Benoit has his sights set on becoming
WWF champion even though there are concerns by the WWF promotion and marketing
teams that he might do something big since he is not as charismatic as other
superstars.  The article even draws a parallel
about how competing in the WWF is more difficult than the past since Benoit
cannot be like a wrestler “in the old days who could coast defeating perennial
losers in easy televised matches” between big bouts.  Our big eerie line from this well-written
piece by Keith Elliot Greenberg:  “Most
likely, their [the WWF’s] efforts to convert him into a cut-out media darling
will be unsuccessful…”
We get a listing of the toughest ten superstars in the
WWF.  The list is purely kayfabed as
there is no mention of Steve Blackman on this list.
Kurt Angle is criminally underrated, but he is given his
ranking because he is not intimidating enough. 
Tazz has to be in the top three due to his gimmick.
This month’s interview piece is with Terri, who was going
by the nick name of “She-Devil” around this time.
She makes clear that she likes to be independent,
although it is okay for men to buy her things. 
She also says that she has no interest in pursuing a singles title and
that she considers Bubba Ray a “bully” for putting her through a table.  I am concerned that she says Jerry Lawler is
her “kind of guy,” though.  Dustin should
have submitted this as evidence in the divorce proceedings for custody!
And when I talked about the pay-per-view recaps getting
smaller and smaller, I meant it.  Look
what we have been reduced to in the 2000s:
How can you adequately recap a match in less than three
sentences?  This is really egregious for
the Iron Man Match between Triple H and the Rock, which gets less than a
paragraph.
Remember to drink your milk!
And we close the magazine with a Stevie Richards column
entitled “Gettin’ Heat.”
In this column, Richards traditionally made cracks at a
WWF superstar.  This month, though, he
attacks himself for stealing other wrestlers personas when he came into the
company.  He says that he wishes he
sought out Shawn Michaels for advice and he writes him a letter asking for
guidance.  I will bet that Michaels never
answered it.

Of all the magazines that have been covered by this
column this was the worst.  The only
redeeming column was Greenberg’s on Benoit with the rest constituting very
boring, dry reads.  The magazine lost a
lot of its creativity without Russo or Kelly at the helm.  Next week we will move forward two years and
recap the April 2002 issue of WWF
Magazine
, which features the New World Order on the cover. 

Assorted April PPV Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Backlash 2000 – Live from Washington, D.C., proud home of Marion Berry, Tammy Sytch’s favorite mayor. – Your hosts are JR & The King. – And we get a bit of shock right away, as Debra comes to the ring, three months early for Fully Loaded, if you know what I mean. We’re talking Scott Hall terroritory here. And she’s the RING ANNOUNCER for the first match? Alcohol and microphones don’t mix, kids. – Opening match, WWF tag titles: Edge & Christian v. High & Dry. (Wait a sec, I’m assuming X-Pac would be “High”, but how would Road Dogg be “Dry”? That joke name doesn’t even make SENSE!) Nice to see that X-Pac has recovered enough from the death in the family to get right back on the bus and start thrusting his crotch at people again. Edge & X-Pac start. X-Pac bumps around a bit and gets leg lariated to the floor. DX regroups and Road Dogg pounds on Christian. He gets sent to the floor and eats stairs, thus going into the Ricky Morton role. Literally, in fact, as this match is a dead-on impersonation of the millions of Andersons v. Rock n Roll Express matches that happened in 85-86, and I mean that in the nicest way. (That’s quite the exaggeration there.  Somehow I don’t think this was quite up to that level, although E&C were going into their prime as a tag team as this point.)  Back in, and a false tag for the champs leads to heavy double-teaming from DX. A broncobuster leads to a chinlock to kill time. Edge sneaks in a diving headbutt on Road Dogg to give the champs a two count. Hot tag to Edge, who powerbombs X-Pac off a leg lariat for two. Christian tries the Tomikaze (aka Unprettier, aka Killswitch, aka the lamest finisher to get multiple names ever)  on Road Dogg to reverse a pumphandle slam, but Tori (Not to be confused with Torrie.) gets involved and distracts the ref. X-Pac hits her by mistake, but recovers enough to X-Factor Edge while the ref argues with Dogg and Tori on the outside. Christian sneaks in, blasts X-Pac with the ringbell, and covers for the pin to retain at 9:21. Welcome back, X-Pac, enjoy the J-O-B. *** X-Pac adds the manly bladejob to reinforce the shot. Right booking there, even if the Edge & Christian heel turn is STILL in limbo.  (Yeah, not for long.) – WWF Lightheavyweight title: Dean Malenko v. Scotty 2 Hotty. Now, is it “2”, “II” or “Too”, because I’ve seen it all three ways recently. (I believe the official designation was “2”) New belt for Deano, which is pretty cool. The black leather looks way cooler than the red. Slugfest to start. Scott hits a backdrop for two, and reverses a piledriver for two. Suplex reversal goes Scotty’s way, but he showboats and gets killed. He tries the bulldog, but Dean rips his head off. Scotty bails and Dean rams him into the post for good measure. No blood is evident, sadly. Back in, Dean dropkicks the knee and works it like the MOFO he is. Dean is the MAN. Two shots around the post follow. Scotty tries to counter with an enzuigiri, but Dean calmly ducks it and slaps on a leglock. He hits a kneebreaker, but Scott gets the enzuigiri this time. Scotty tries a comeback, but a whip to the corner kills that dead. Dean’s lining up of the shots of the knee with surgical precision is a joy to watch and pretty funny in the way he mocks him at the same time. Who said he couldn’t get over in the WWF on wrestling alone? (Many people, although it left him well-suited for a successful career as an agent and trainer later on.)  Spinning toehold is countered for two. Both guys hit the floor and Scotty mounts the comeback. Back in, Scotty goes up but gets superplexed off. Double-KO, and Scotty is up first with a backslide for two. Cloverleaf is countered with a cradle for two. Powerbomb attempt is countered with a bulldog, and the Worm follows. Match loses ½* because Scotty hops ON THE INJURED KNEE. Dean kicks out and gets the rope-assisted two-count, but the ref sees it and breaks it up. Reversal sequence leads to a Ligerbomb for two from Malenko. Blind charges misses, but Dean gets a powerslam for two. Scotty dumps Dean, who recovers and goes upstairs, but Scott tries a superplex, which is reversed, in MID-AIR, into a DDT OFF THE TOP! HOLY SHIT! Scotty is DEAD, DOA, toe-tagged, six feet under, and the pin is academic at 12:58. That finisher gets the ½* back. ****  (One of the great, underrated undercard matches they just kind of threw in around this time, which shows why the Radicalz were such a giant blow to WCW when they left.)  – Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman v. The Acolytes. Punchy kicky stuff for the first few minutes that I can’t be bothered with. The APA may be over, but keep ‘em out of the ring. Faarooq plays Seminole-in-peril as nothing of note happens. Hot tag to Bradshaw, usual brawl follows. Bradshaw goes up but gets superplexed for two. Clothesline from Hell kills Bull, but Bossman bops him with his trusty nightstick, and a scissor kick from the top finishes it for the Bossmen. Bleh. *  (Bull Buchanan was a rarity in WWE, actually, in that he was the big bodyguard paired with the smaller comedy guy later on who did not in fact end up getting the bigger push out of the deal, and in fact was fired when the act was just getting hot.  Of course, the smaller comedy guy ended up doing OK for himself as a solo act anyway.)  – Hardcore title: Crash Holly v. Hardcore Holly v. Jeff Hardy v. Matt Hardy v. Tazz v. Saturn. Everyone takes turns getting two-counts on Crash, as the only way the match ends is by pinning him. Or him pinning someone else. We go running to the back right away, where Crash and Matt climb up one of the giant meat hooks that’s swinging at the entranceway. Matt kicks Crash onto the rest of the boys, then dives off onto them himself, drawing a “holy shit” chant. Camera misses it, for some reason. Jeff swings off the hook with a rana on Saturn. Back in, the Hardyz double-team Crash, then Tazz. Hardcore smacks people at random with a 2×4, because he’s hardcore. Saturn steals it and utilizes it. More weapons get involved. A roadsign to the head gives Hardcore a two-count on Crash. Back out, Crash gets creamed. Tazz and Saturn double-team him on the outside for a bit, then back in. Match drags a bit here. Tazz goes nuts with the roadsign to liven it up again as everyone keeps beating on poor Crash. A moonsault from Jeff and one from Saturn get a two-count. We end up with the Hollies alone in the ring, and Hollycaust on a chair gets two. The Hardyz bring a ladder in, to a big pop, and clean house with it. Jeff heads up and hits the swanton from the top, but Matt breaks up the pin. They fight over the pinfall, and Tazz sneaks in and hooks the Tazzmission, and THAT looks to be it. Saturn breaks THAT up with a wicked shot to Tazz, and everyone ends up outside the ring except for Tazz and Crash, and with Tazz still out, Crash is able to roll over and get the pin to retain at 12:18. That was quite the ending. ***1/4  (This was of course the usual hardcore mess, although it’s interesting that it was moving away from the household objects and fresh fruit of the Vince Russo era and into a slightly more realistic style here.)  – The Big Show v. Kurt Angle. As if Angle’s pre-match ranking out of Marion Barry wasn’t funny enough, Big Show one-ups him to infinity by becoming…the Showster! Complete with “Real American” music, skullcap, bad yellow tights and boots, and a dyed moustache. He runs through the pre-match promo, using “dude” about 14 times, and we are LITERALLY laughing so hard TEARS are running down our faces. (Remember when impersonating Hogan used to be edgy and funny?)  Kinda puts “Oklahoma” in perspective, doesn’t it? Angle attacks, and Show hulks up right away, sending us in howls of laughter until we’re all nearly rolling on the floor laughing for real. Big boot and legdrop only get two (what a shock) and the crowd is dying. In a good way. (Wouldn’t be so funny 2 years later when the real deal came back and everyone went crazy for the same old shit until he got the belt again.)  Angle works on the leg, so the crowd chants “Hogan” to show that they’re in on the joke and Show makes the comeback, hitting the chokeslam for the pin at 2:36. Match was a DUD, but for sheer entertainment this was, seriously, the funniest thing I’ve seen in a good five years. Sure, Angle jobbed, but people will be talking about this match for YEARS. (It’s true, people still remember this match 12 years later.)  – T&A v. The Dudley Boyz. From funny to “let’s get this over with”. Brawl to start, as Buh Buh chases Trish around the ring and gets clocked by Test. Into the ring, where the Dudleys work Albert. Three elbowdrops get two. D-Von comes in and T&A takes over with some energetic double-teams for a while. False tag for Buh-Buh. If this were 1987, Gorilla would be calling for another referee right about now. D-Von gets a fluke sunset flip for two, but Albert follows with a powerbomb for two. Crowd chants “we want tables”, and honestly I prefer that to “we want puppies”, because at least the WWF can deliver the first one. Hot tag Buh Buh, and they double neckbreaker (IT’S NOT 3D, JR!) get two. T&A misses the powerbomb-elbowdrop finisher, but Trish distracts Buh Buh in the middle of 3D. Big boot from Test finishes at 11:08. Match was passable. *1/4 Trish gets caught by Buh Buh and D-Von sets up the table. Trish tries the greco-roman liplock, but Buh Buh finally acts like a MAN and shakes it off, then delivers the powerbomb through the table that everyone was waiting for. Now hopefully that ends this insipid feud.  (There was quite the oddball psychology at play with the Dudleyz during this period, with the weird table fetish that kind of sexualized putting women through them as a stand-in for rape.  It’s like Russo was all about teasing sex, whereas Vince McMahon was about teasing violence, and as I noted here, violence was the thing that they could deliver so there was no real harm in playing it up like that.  Whereas with the puppies, it was endless teases of a payoff you were never going to get.  That’s interesting to me for some reason.)  – European title match: Eddie Guerrero v. Essa Rios. Eddie, my hero, drives his ’57 Chevy to the ring and proceeds to wrestle in his tuxedo. Well, he loses the shirt and jacket, but KEEPS THE BOWTIE, which is just unspeakably hip for reasons lost on me at the moment. (This of course was the point where Eddie, who had been entirely focused on ringwork and not personality, finally broke through and connected with the fans as a character.  And once again, it was a few months after WCW let him walk away.)  Quick reversal sequence to start. Eddie drops Rios on his head with a backdrop suplex and works the arm. Essa comes back but messes up the bouncy-bouncy armdrag sequence. And this is the important part: He DOESN’T repeat the spot. THANK YOU! Finally someone listens to me. Eddy nails the plancha and sends him to the steps. Back in, and the slingshot senton follows. Essa bails and Chyna kicks his ass. Back in, Eddie controls, but Essa comes back with a monkey flip which nearly causes Eddie to land on his head. Eddie dumps him and Chyna bitchslaps him again. Eddie follows with a plancha, and takes a while setting up a powerbomb on the floor. Lita climbs the ropes to attack, but Chyna pushes her off and into the table. (Can you fathom a time when Lita was stuck with a midcard loser like Essa Rios?  She definitely fucked her way up the corporate ladder.  Rios –> Matt Hardy –> Edge proved to be the smartest series of moves she could have made.)  Essa follows with a quebrada on Guerrero, slamming into the American table on the way down. Ouch. Eddie comes in but hits the floor again on the other side, and Rios follows with the INSANE cross-corner tope con hilo. Back in, and Chyna crotches Rios on the top rope, and Eddie superplexes him. He goes up for the frog splash, but Essa pops up and armdrags him back down. Moonsault hits nothing but knees, and Eddie finishes the challenger with his modified Gory special – the spinning neckbreaker drop – at 8:41. Started sloppy but got mondo cool. ***1/2 Lita rips Chyna’s prom dress off out of spite. Growl. (Chyna was of course in that special zone at this point right before Playboy where she was hot from the surgery and not yet exposed as being the total batshit crazy trainwreck psychopath that she became after quitting in 2001.)  – WWF Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Let the Canadian violence commence! (Man, that phrase has lost all meaning to me now.)   Slapfest to start. Pinfall reversal sequence and then they KILL each other with chops. That’s the #1 pastime up here, you know – chopping. (Well, that and finding more and more obscure ways to change “ck” to “que” in everyday spelling just to fuque with visiting Americans.)  Benoit gets two of the triple suplex, but Jericho bails and Benoit follows with a MANLY tope suicida that sees him missing and landing on his head. (And we wonder why he ended up with brain damage.)  Stairs get dropkicked into Jericho’s crotch, however, just so he doesn’t feel like Benoit has to shoulder all the pain and suffering. Back in, Benoit beats him up and hits a gutbuster. Jericho misses a dropkick and Benoit catapults him into the turnbuckles and drops him on the top rope. Snap suplex gets two. Into the abdominal stretch, which Lawler mocks, so Benoit starts slamming right hands into Jericho’s side to actually make it look painful. GOD BLESS CANADA! (That shit would HURT.  I wish more people would do rabbit punches to the ribs and kidneys while delivering an abdominal stretch.)  Jericho breaks and hits the Lionsault, but can’t capitalize. It eventually gets two. Benoit delivers more chops, but Jericho hits the leg lariat off a blind charge. Bulldog gets two. Rollup gets two. Jericho blocks a suplex, but misses the springboard dropkick – and this is the great part – and Benoit acts as if HE MEANT IT TO HAPPEN THAT WAY. Benoit goes upstairs and gets crotched, and Jericho hits a backdrop superplex, but takes the worst of it. Benoit backslide is reversed to the double powerbomb, which gets a two count. Benoit slickly hooks the Crossface off the pinning attempt, however, and holds on for a LONG time, nearly breaking Jericho’s head off, until Jericho makes the ropes. Second try is reversed to the Liontamer by Jericho, and now Benoit makes the ropes. Ref gets bumped on a flying forearm, and Benoit grabs the belt and blasts Jericho. It gets two. Snap suplex on the belt sets up the headbutt, but Jericho holds the belt in the air and Benoit hits that…drawing the DQ at 15:04? Fuck! (Fuque!) Crowd boos the hell out of that finish, rightfully so. Even JR admits that “the decision sucked”.  (Or “suqued” if you’re from Canada) Jericho snaps and puts the ref in the Liontamer. Great match with a bad ending. ****  (Notice the trend of re-energized WCW exiles having great matches here?  Although Jericho and Benoit of course had crazy good chemistry together, like transcendent and incapable of having a bad match together chemistry.  They actually headlined the greatest WWF house show I ever attended, which was in 2000 not coincidentally, doing a home-and-home series in Edmonton and then Calgary.  In Edmonton, Benoit played the babyface and Jericho the heel and they had an effortless **** match with Benoit going over, and then went to Calgary and had a totally different match, with Benoit now the heel and Jericho the babyface, and it was apparently great as well.) WWF title match: HHH v. The Rock. Vince comes out and notes that Steve Austin will NOT be here tonight, no sirree. Big staredown to start. Slugfest goes HHH’s way, but Rock gets a quick elbow. Pedigree reversed and Rock stomps a mudhole. Shane pulls him off. HHH hits a neckbreaker during the interference. Brawl outside and Rock eats table. Vince sends him to the ringpost and tosses him back in for two. High knee gets a fast two. High suplex and kneedrop gets two, three times. Into the chinlock. Shane ignores the feet in the ropes, thus giving it a purpose. Rock fights out and gets clotheslined down for two. HHH pummels him in the corner, but Rock drops him on the top turnbuckle. Vince KO’s him with the title for two. Rock comes back and tosses HHH. Brawl outside, where HHH hurts his shoulder. Back in, Rock gets a DDT, but Shane won’t count, so Rock decks him. Back outside, Rock hits the stairs, and HHH goes for the Pedigree on the Spanish table. Rock reverses, however, and grabs BOTH HHH and Shane and delivers a double Rock Bottom through the table! That had to be seen to be believed. Back in, Vince attacks Rock, and Rock goes after him, only to get low-blowed from behind by HHH and Pedigreed. Shane is still dead, however, so no ref. Brisco and Patterson run out in ref gear and a big beatdown follows. Vince hits a wicked chairshot on Rock, and HHH goes for the final Pedigree…and THE GLASS BREAKS. The crowd goes INSANE as Austin (beer gut and all) uses a chair to destroy anything that moves. (I am of course not doing the crowd reaction here justice.  The arena came UNGLUED as Austin kicked everyone’s ass, and even watching at home 12 years later it still sends chills down your spine to see how perfectly booked and executed this whole deal was.)  Everyone is out cold except for Rock, and Linda leads Earl Hebner out, shoving Stephanie aside on her way. Back in, and Rock hits the spinebuster and academic People’s Elbow on HHH as Hebner comes in to count the pin at 19:22, and FINALLY it’s Game Over as the Rock is the 4-time WWF champion. ****1/2 (See, this was the one time where HHH’s usual theory about “I should go over everyone so that it’ll mean more when someone beats me” actually paid off the way it was supposed to.  He just got more and more heat through the early part of 2000 and Rock got more and more sympathy from the fans and you just wanted to see Rock kick the shit out of him and give HHH what was coming to him.  Test, meanwhile, was like “Oh yeah, you stole my fiancé and drugged and raped her in Vegas, whatevs.” and that’s why he wasn’t the Rock.)   Austin celebrates by towing the DX Express remains to the ring and sharing some cold ones with the Rock. The Bottom Line: Wrestling? On a wrestling show? But…but…Vince Russo said that it doesn’t matter! How can such a contradiction exist? At any rate, if there’s been a better PPV from any company within the past year, it’s news to me, because this one blew them all away in terms of wrestling, entertainment and sheer markout value. Everyone goes home happy and only one real clunker drags it down. Now THAT’S a PPV. Big, big thumbs up.  (Agreed, this was I think inarguably the best PPV of 2000, which is pretty high praise, but this would not have felt out of place as a Wrestlemania in a lot of ways.  The Rock-HHH main event is still one of my all time favorite matches for sheer entertainment value and marking the pinnacle of their feud, not to mention the financial highpoint for the company.  This was the time when they made a SHITLOAD of money, and it was well deserved.)