Smackdown – June 9, 2016

Smackdown
Date: June 9, 2016
Location: Intrust Bank Arena, Wichita, Kansas
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton

We’re pretty much at business as usual here as Money in the Bank is a week from Sunday and most of the big stories are starting to round into form. AJ Styles is going after John Cena, the Tag Team Titles are in a big mess of a match and we’ll see yet another combination of the six Money in the Bank participants tonight because just having them be announced over time isn’t an option for whatever reason. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – May 12, 2016

Smackdown
Date: May 12, 2016
Location: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines, Iowa
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

It’s kind of hard to say what to expect around here as the show has been bouncing back and forth between focusing on the Intercontinental Title feud and then the World Title situation. The former tends to be the more interesting and it should be a fun show tonight with all four people being thrown together in a tag match. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – April 21, 2016

Smackdown
Date: April 21, 2016
Location: O2 Arena, London, England
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

It’s the last show on the UK tour and we’re in the same building we were in on Monday for Raw. These shows can range from nothing special to more interesting than usual but Smackdown tends to be just your run of the mill show. We’re getting closer to Payback though and the card is looking stacked. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – April 14, 2016

Smackdown
Date: April 13, 2016
Location: Valley View Casino, San Diego, California
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

It’s going to be an interesting week as most of the roster is off on the international tour. However we have some fresh names tonight in the Vaudevillains who debuted last week and the even fresher team of Enzo and Big Cass, both of whom will be in the tag team tournament tonight. Let’s get to it.

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Monday Night Raw – April 4, 2016

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 4, 2016
Location: American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas
Commentators: Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield, Michael Cole

It’s pretty much New Year’s Day in WWE after everything came to a big conclusion last night. We’re officially in the Roman Reigns Era (part three) and hopefully that means a little break from the Authority. The other interesting thing will be seeing where the McMahons go from here because they’re the real stars of this show. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – April 7, 2016

Smackdown
Date: April 7, 2016
Location: Toyota Center, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

Things have changed a bit since last time and WWE has hit the ground mostly running since this Sunday’s Wrestlemania. The big story coming out of Monday is AJ Styles being crowned as a surprising #1 contender to new champion Roman Reigns, which might get some buildup starting tonight. Also we have the Vaudevillains making their main roster debut so let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – February 25, 2016

Smackdown
Date: February 25, 2016
Location: Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

We’re getting close to Wrestlemania in a hurry and things are really starting to change. This past Monday saw the return of Shane McMahon and the announcement of his match against Undertaker of all people inside the Cell at the biggest show of the year. Other than that we have what seems like the face HHH vs. the heel Roman Reigns for the World Title coming up. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – February 18, 2016

Smackdown
Date: February 18, 2016
Location: Citizens Business Bank Arena, Ontario, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

We’re three days away from Fastlane and the big story tonight is Brock Lesnar making a very rare Smackdown appearance. There’s no word on what he’ll be doing but you can assume it might have something to do with Dean Ambrose and Roman Reigns, who are teaming together to face the Dudley Boyz tonight. Let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – February 11, 2016

Smackdown
Date: February 11, 2016
Location: Moda Center, Portland, Oregon
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, Jerry Lawler

It’s a rare occurrence but we actually have a major match for tonight with a strong build to go with it. In this case we have AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho II after Styles won his first major match in WWE by defeating Jericho a few weeks back, which has gotten in Jericho’s head. This could be high quality stuff if they’re given enough time so let’s get to it.

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Smackdown – January 28, 2016

Smackdown
Date: January 28, 2016
Location: Amalie Arena, Tampa, Florida
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, Byron Saxton

We’ve got a main event for Fastlane now, which means we’ll have a main event for Wrestlemania in just a few weeks. This past Monday on Raw, it was announced that Roman Reigns, Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar will face off for the World Title shot at Wrestlemania against HHH, which doesn’t make a ton of sense but should be a good match. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 28, 2016

Smackdown – January 21, 2016

Smackdown
Date: January 21, 2016
Location: Nutter Center, Dayton, Ohio
Attendance: 3,000
Commentators: Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, John Bradshaw Layfield

It’s the go home show for the Royal Rumble and Roman Reigns is already in trouble tonight with a handicap match against the entire League of Nations. This show is almost destined to end with a big brawl between most of the different major factions in the Rumble and it wouldn’t feel right if things ended any differently. Let’s get to it.

Read moreSmackdown – January 21, 2016

What the World Was Reading: WWF Magazine – December 1999

by Logan Scisco

Since this week’s magazine selection is from December
1999 it would be remiss for the staff of WWF
Magazine
to ignore Christmas.  Sure enough,
we get a holiday-type cover featuring the self-proclaimed, undisputed champion
of Christmas Mick Foley:

 And Mick has kept the Christmas gig going, doing promo
spots with his daughter Noelle last month on WWE television.  He was a better salesman than anyone else the
WWE could have trotted out there, although I continue to insist that if they
want the Network subscriptions to rise that they need to call Don West.
The 1999 Christmas season featured one WWF product I just
had to have:  WrestleMania 2000 for the
Nintendo 64.  I was really excited for
the WWF to go to THQ since the company did great work on the WCW games.  It was one of my favorite games to play,
especially because it was the first to feature a create-a-wrestler mode.  I remember taking Brian Christopher through
the career mode (and why I made that selection I have no idea).  Unfortunately, I lent it to a friend in
middle school and they never returned it.
Since Vince Russo went off to World Championship
Wrestling, the magazine was handed over to Kevin Kelly.  As a result, he answers the letters to the
editor.  Since we are not in 1995 land,
there are no funny illustrations or awful lists provided by fans.  Many of the letters tie back to the October
1999 issue of the magazine we reviewed two weeks ago.  A fan named Thomas Brennan blasts the fan who
questioned Prince Albert’s education credentials, while Miguel Balseca
completely buys into Vince McMahon’s vision of the product by calling Christian
a member of the “sports-entertainment world.” 
A fan called “TakersLady,” using Web TV (remember that product?) frets
that the Undertaker is facing a career-ending injury, which Kelly denies.  The Undertaker did have a bad groin injury in
late 1999, but it was not career-ending. 
Still, it is interesting that people were talking about the Undertaker’s
health FIFTEEN years ago!  They actually
let a fan write in how the newly-debuted Dudley Boys dominated the ECW tag team
ranks, and of course, since we are in 1999 it would be remiss without a fan –
in this case one named Justin Struthers – talking about Debra and her “puppies.”  He begs that she needs to “let them run free.”
Speaking of Jarrett, he was also on his way to WCW.  Before he got there, though, his last gimmick
was beating up female wrestlers and celebrities and putting them in the
figure-four. 
 All of this culminated in Jarrett eventually dropping the
Intercontinental title to Chyna.  The
quick piece says that female superstars aligning against Jarrett is a “new version
of women’s liberation with a distinctly hardcore edge.”  It warns that Jarrett will soon face the
wrath of all of these women, but I guess that is why he fled down South.
And when I talked about how we did not have any more
lists, I was wrong.  This week we have a
top five for ways that “Sexual Chocolate” Mark Henry can curb his
appetite.  I did find number one
humorous.
 Our “Rookies to Legends” this week misses the mark once
again as it covers Miss Kitty, the last wife that Jerry Lawler had:
 In storyline terms, Miss Kitty debuted courtesy of Jeff
Jarrett, who made her a personal assistant to Debra.  She soon made Debra’s life difficult and
started to drive her and Jarrett apart. 
The piece tries to say that Kitty has bigger ambitions and if that
included exposing herself on WWF pay-per-view then it was correct.  However, the soon-to-be-named Kat never made
a lasting contribution to the WWF that could be considered “legendary.”
This month’s guest writer of “the Bite” is Howard Finkel,
who in late 1999 was rocking a bitter announcer gimmick where he made a habit
of chewing out Tony Chimmel and Lillian Garcia.
 The piece starts with the Fink asking some rhetorical
questions such as “Why have I been around so long?  Why am I still here?”  You know, the same questions that Vince
McMahon has probably been asking himself when it comes to Finkel for
years.  He complains about not being used
more, while saying that he has high hopes for Chris Jericho, which is why he is
sporting a Jericho-style wig in the piece.
WWF Magazine
REALLY liked Chyna in 1999, as evidenced by its next feature piece on how she
has been a big factor in the WWF. 
Remember that she and Triple H were subject of another piece two months
prior to this.
The article describes that Chyna’s success is due to a
difficult childhood, which shaped her into becoming a great athlete and
student.  After all, she does have a
double major in Spanish and Literature from the University of Tampa.  Her fluency in Spanish is why the company used
her in some skits with Los Boricuas in 1997 and 1998.  The classic understatement in the article is
that despite being “quintessential professionals…there have been rumors that
[her partnership with Triple H] is nearing an end.”  Sadly, it hypes her career as only getting
better, saying that she is “a history maker, a trendsetter, a one of a kind,”
but 1999 would be the peak of Chyna’s career. 
After having a feud with Chris Jericho over the Intercontinental title
she was slowly scaled away from the main title picture and by 2001 she was
wrestling women, which was a step down for her.
In a curious ad, you can get some of the first WWF DVDs, “Hell
Yeah:  Stone Cold’s Saga Continues” or
WrestleMania XV.  The price for each is $24.95,
but that is sort of laughable considering that WrestleMania XV gives you ninety
minutes of more content, as well as voiceovers of the big matches.
 A piece titled “At the Crossroads” breaks down what is in
the future for X-Pac, who was in the midst of a heel turn against his tag team
partner Kane.  As such, the article
emphasizes that X-Pac wants to be his own man and fight his own battles,
belying a Napoleon-like complex X-Pac has carried because of his size relative
to other WWF superstars.  That is one of
the good uses of the magazine, as it gave you some additional logic behind
angles and face/heel turns, even if some of them ended up being ridiculous.
 We also hear that X-Pac was the first person to “guide
Kane to his own heart and give him the courage to realize his human potential.”  So next time anyone wants to criticize Kane
as a corporate stooge you can blame X-Pac. 
Instead of X-Pac eventually turning on Kane, I would have enjoyed seeing
Kane in a DX green outfit like the picture shows below because that would have
been really different and cool, at least for one show:
 Next, Bill Banks talks about the newly-debuted Chris Jericho’s
desire to go after Steve Austin.
 Banks takes some shots at WCW, saying that Austin and Jericho
were denied similar opportunities to shine down South and that this slight made
both men more aggressive in their pursuit for glory and titles.  It even bashes Austin’s initial “Ringmaster”
gimmick from when he debuted in 1996. 
Really, this piece is well-written and does a nice job hyping a
potential Austin-Jericho showdown.  It
treats both men as athletes and wrestling as an actual sport, something the
company would be better off doing today. 
Unfortunately, a showdown between the two would have to wait until late
2000 because Jericho was quickly diverted into the Intercontinental title
picture while Austin went out with an injury.
And since this is the December issue, the WWF makes sure
we know what hot items you can buy for the holiday season.  Ho ho ho indeed!
 Most of the big items are for Steve Austin and the Rock
as you can see here
Then we get our more “crude” items of the Attitude Era on
another page.  Who really wants that Road
Dogg stuffed animal?  If you do, it will
cost you $20.  And that Debra poster will
cost you another $10.  I wonder if some
kid bought the “Show Me Your Puppies!” t-shirt (for $25) and was told to take
it off by school administrators. 
Seriously, $25 for that shirt?
 And you can also get yourself some WWF cologne for
$14.99.  I do not think this item was
selling well as it is the only one in the catalog that is marked down from its
initial sale price (which was $19.99 a unit). 
I still remember Bobby Heenan cracking jokes about WCW cologne on Nitro.  The WWF Attitude bag is cool, but I know very
little about the WWF fielding a racing team in 1999.  Evidently, if you want the racing jacket
pictured here you will be out $44.
An oddly titled article called “The Devil’s Bathtub” is
up next, which provides a comparison between Michael Hayes and Paul Bearer.
 You see, both men used to be best friends on the Gulf of
Mexico and broke into the business as volunteers.  Both men had been abandoned by their
managerial charges by late 1999, so the magazine teases at a possible alliance.  The magazine was also trying to recognize
more wrestling history by this point as it brings up Hayes’s run with the
Freebirds.  Unfortunately, it does not
tell us who Bearer and Hayes might want to bring into their stable if they
unified forces.  It does let us know that
the Fabulous Freebirds and the Undertaker “were supreme entertainers,” though.
I had forgotten about this product, which I never
actually saw anywhere.  I never had any
friends who bought it, so did anyone on the Blog every play around with this
toy?
Magazine writer Laura (no last name given) provides her “Attitude
Award” for 1999 and selects Kane and Stephanie McMahon!  If you are not a fan of Stephanie, you really
will not like this piece as Laura notes that “Since her debut in the ring,
Stephanie McMahon’s presence has been compelling” and that she cares little for
money and more about her ideals than money. 
Kane wins because he stood up for his friend X-Pac and overcame Vince McMahon
and Chyna tormenting him throughout the year. 
So basically, the “Attitude Award” is who faced lots of adversity and
overcame the odds.  Today, John Cena
would win that award every year!
Kevin Kelly then says that he was amazed that 1999
featured great in-ring performances by Vince and Shane McMahon.  Yeah, those criticisms of 1999 revolving
around the McMahons too much appear very
warranted now.  Best part is, it would
get worse for WrestleMania 2000 when there would be a McMahon in every corner!  So Kelly gives his “Attitude Award” to both
of the male McMahons.
And when it comes to Bill Banks he selects Jeff Jarrett,
which is pretty humorous considering Jarrett’s departure from the company.  Banks claims Jarrett has gone a long way
since his country music gimmick, but his selection seems to be based more on
personal factors as Jarrett dealt with the loss of Owen Hart and helped his
wife fight her battle against breast cancer.
We get the results from the Unforgiven pay-per-view,
featuring the infamous “Kennel from Hell” match.
That is probably one of those cases where the awful recap of the matches was
okay.  One of the pictures from the
Six-Pack Challenge match is probably sitting about Triple H’s office in Titan
Towers:
The “Private Eye” segment provides some pictures of the
MTV Video Music Awards.  So much for
kayfabe in this one:
“The Informer” tells us that D-Lo Brown and Mark Henry
started having problems when Henry had his wallet fall into the lap of D-Lo’s fiancé
on a flight back from England.  D-Lo
thought Henry was making moves on his woman and his fiancée thought the same,
thereby triggering a long series of tensions between the two.  We are told the Steve Austin-Undertaker
rivalry went onto the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) circuit as they each
had their own Funny Cars, with the Undertaker’s car winning.  And evidently, Al Snow is very upset about
the jokes Mankind made about him in Have
a Nice Day
!
This issue had tons
of advertisements in it, much more than previous issues.  I am not sure if that was because there were
not as many columns to write or if that is something that I might see more of
in the 2000 magazines.  However, it did
get a little tiring flipping through four or five ads before the next story.  Maybe with Russo gone that is a good thing
for the magazine, as this one had less ridiculousness in the stories, which
offered a more serious portrayal of the superstars and various angles.

Next time, we will move away from WWF Magazine and over to an early 1999 edition of WOW Magazine, put together by Bill Apter
as a “smart fan” alternative to other kayfabe wrestling publications.  It will cover the results of Backlash 1999, chronicle
the independent circuit, and provide some great photographs of wrestlers and
valets during the period.

CM Drunk

Just wanted to point out that it seems like the general consensus here seems to be that the “CM Drunk” angle was unnecessary and lame. And yet to our knowledge this was a storyline crafted by the 2 wreslters themselves. We shit on Vince/Steph/HHH all the time when there are bad ideas, and give *all* the credit to the performers when stuff is good (Summer of Punk, Foley/Orton, HBK/Jericho, etc).
Just wanted to point out that even a couple of guys with great minds for the business can misfire.

This leads me to a rant I’ve been meaning to get into for a while now, specifically the idea of straight edge as a babyface trait.  Like, for me, another major problem with the Jericho feud was that lots of people related to Jericho and not Punk.  Straight Edge, while admirable at times, is an actual lifestyle choice, not some sort of handicap or genetic defect like MS or cheering for the Calgary Flames.  Punk’s not an alcoholic, he only chooses not to drink because it’s his thing, just like Daniel Bryan chooses not to eat meat.  Like, what’s the consequences if Punk is suddenly forced to drink some whiskey?  Nothing, really.  It’s just a drink.  Lots of people drink in moderation without suddenly becoming raging alcoholics, just like lots of people watch TV in moderation without becoming couch potatoes.  Yeah, the lack of drugs is something that should be celebrated, but a lot of the straight edge hardcores also eschew promiscuous sex, for example, and god knows Punk overlooks that particular facet of his own beliefs.  In fact, the heel character Punk had when he was pushing the Straight Edge Society on everyone is a lot closer to the pretentious attitude that the straight edge guys seem to put forth outside of WWE’s bubble.  I guess I’m saying that Punk preaching no booze is a lot less cool than Jericho being a rock star and having wacky adventures while drunk off his ass.  And a lot of fans feel the same way, which is something that hurt the buildup, I’m sure. 

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.) 

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII Live from Miami, FL Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler Opening match, World title: Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus Well we knew that one of the World titles would be opening the show. Kind of a heel reaction for Sheamus for some reason. And then he hits Bryan with the Brogue Kick and pins him to win the title at 0:15. What the FUCK? The crowd is not terribly pleased about that. I was looking forward to seeing that match. Why even bother having it on the show? Unless they think that this was Bryan’s Honky Tonk Man moment where the heel finally gets his comeuppance, but people LIKE Bryan. Meanwhile, Team Johnny and their dorky t-shirts rally around Johnny Ace, in his Col Robert Parker suit. Kane v. Randy Orton Orton hammers away in the corner, but Kane EMBRACES THE HATE and fires back. Orton stomps him down and tries the draping DDT, but Kane drops him on the top rope and boots him down to take over. Seated dropkick gets two. Chinlock, but Orton slugs out until Kane boots him down for two. Sideslam gets two and Kane goes back to the chinlock. Orton with a neckbreaker for two and the crowd is dead silent. Can’t blame them. Delayed suplex gets two. And it’s ANOTHER chinlock. They couldn’t have made this one the 15 second win by the babyface? Orton flips out of the chinlock and gets the backbreaker, and the powerslam. Draping DDT (which Cole calls a bulldog, faceplant and DDT in succession) sets up the RKO, but Kane counters with a boot for two. Kane to the top, but Orton catches him with a dropkick coming down. Kane dodges the punt and chokeslams him for two. Kane gets upset and pounds away in the corner, but Orton dropkicks the knee and they fight to the top. Kane brings him down with a chokeslam and pins him at 11:00. Seriously? What is the point of Kane going over here? So that we’re gonna have to watch this shitty match AGAIN, but with stipulations? I mean, I’m no Randy Orton booster, but he’s been doing WAY too many jobs. This was slow and plodding and just never got going, and Randy didn’t even get to do the RKO so you KNOW they have to have a million rematches until he does. *1/2 And Kane has been on a rampage of sucky matches since his return. EMBRACE THE CRAP! Meanwhile, Santino and Mick Foley help plug the Deadliest Catch and eat crab. Shouldn’t Santino be getting ready for his match? Intercontinental title: Cody Rhodes v. Big Show Cody runs away to start and tries a dive, but Show catches him and tosses him back in. Show pounds away and gives him a stinkface in the corner, but Cody dropkicks the knee and elbows him down for two. Cody goes to work on the knee, but Show swats him down and makes the comeback. Cody goes up to escape and Show sends him to the floor, but Cody comes back in with the disaster kick. Another one is countered with a badly timed spear, and Show knocks him out and pins him at 5:18 to win the title. Another nothing match. ** Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos v. Beth Phoenix & Eve Kelly gets a rana on Eve for two, but a handspring elbow hits knee. Eve goes up and Kelly brings her down, giving us a double stinkface from the babyfaces. Maria’s makeup actually rubs off on Maria’s white pants, which prompts my wife to exclaim “What the hell is that on her ass?” and thus I have to stop and explain the mechanics of the stinkface to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling. That whole conversation is much more interesting than the match, as Maria plays celebrity-in-peril through a series of bearhugs by the heels, but Maria kicks Eve out of the ring to block the rumpshaking moonsault. Yeah, I can’t believe what I’m forced to type some days either. Kelly gets the hot tag and does her spinning headscissors on Beth, into a somersault senton for two. Huh. Beth comes back with the Glam Slam, but Kelly reverses it into a bulldog. Maria tags in again despite her injuries, and Beth collides with Eve and gets pinned at 6:50. Best match of the show thus far. Not really a compliment to the show, but whatever. **1/4 Hell In A Cell: Undertaker v. HHH Rather subdued entrance for COOHHH tonight, although the cell gets its own entrance music. Seriously. I’m surprised Undertaker’s new Mohawk didn’t get its own entrance, too. By the way, despite the pictures circulating before the show that made it look like a big black cage or something, it’s just the standard mesh cell. JR joins us for commentary, thank god. They throw hands in the corner and head to the floor, and HHH meets the stairs as Michael Cole brings up Jimmy Snuka as the first victim of the streak. Well, since he brought it up, how can I not mention that Snuka has a daughter named Tamina Snuka? They slug it out on the floor as the announcers keep talking about how it’s the END OF AN ERA, an era that we’ll never return to. What are they talking about? Anyway, back in the ring, Taker works the arm and goes old school. Back to the floor, and the stairs get pulled apart, leading to the guillotine on the apron by UT. HHH responds with a DDT and rams Undertaker into the stairs a few times, but can’t get a Pedigree on them, as Taker backdrops him off. HHH comes back with a spinebuster onto the stairs, and THAT had to hurt. He stupidly comes in blind, though, and Taker catches him in the gogoplata again. HHH quickly counters out with a slam for two. And now the chairs get involved, as HHH pummels him with one and runs him into the stairs. HHH lays in another beating with the chair, just destroying the back until even Shawn is offended. The crowd gets pretty uncomfortable as HHH just keeps pounding him with the chair, but of course Undertaker won’t quit. Finally HHH covers and gets two. More from the chair and Undertaker still won’t stay down, so HHH retrieves his trusty sledgehammer while he tells Shawn to stop the match or else. Undertaker won’t quit, so HHH levels him with the hammer for two. He goes to BASH UNDERTAKER’S SKULL IN, but Shawn finally grabs it from Hunter to save. Shawn is once again tempted to ring the bell, but Undertaker grabs him and puts him out with the gogoplata to prevent it. Well that’s one way. HHH breaks it up with the sledgehammer, but Undertaker kicks him in the nuts and locks in the gogoplata. HHH grabs the hammer like last year, but Taker chokes him out completely with Shawn Michaels also out cold. This brings Charles Robinson running out like a madman, because Shawn is ONE OF HIS PEOPLE now, and the chokeslam gets two. It’s ingrained into referees to run down whenever another striped shirt is in jeopardy. Taker takes out his problems on Robinson, chokeslamming him, but Shawn superkicks Undertaker, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. THE SECRET PLAN! What an awesome near fall. The crowd agrees and chants about how awesome it is. HHH gets rid of Shawn again, but Undertaker sits up and he’s FUCKING PISSED. He beats the shit out of HHH and hits Snake Eyes and the big boot and legdrop, but the tombstone only gets two. Also an awesome near-fall. Shawn is nearly rocking in the corner like an emotional wreck. You have to love that. They slug it out from the mat and just keep firing away, but HHH gets another Pedigree for two. Undertaker recovers first while HHH crawls for the hammer, but Undertaker gets the chair. And steps on the hammer. Uh oh. HHH gets MAULED by the chair until Shawn finally steps in as the voice of reason, but Undertaker gives HHH one more shot and gets two. Well the chair was broken anyway. HHH gets the hammer again but he’s not really in much condition to use it, and now Undertaker is the one telling him to stay down. HHH takes one last swing, and Undertaker shrugs him off and takes the hammer like it’s a toy. HHH crotch chops him in response, so Undertaker lays him out with the hammer, pulls him up, and the tombstone finishes at 30:45. And there’s your second ***** match for the weekend. Just an amazing performance from both, as they just beat the shit out of each other and let it all hang out. I literally don’t think they could have produced a more perfect match given the guys involved, unless there had been blood or something. Shawn and Undertaker mend their fences afterwards, and everyone goes out together, because they’re real men who settled their differences like men, and now they respect each other again. That is what wrestling is supposed to be. Just fantastic. The Hall of Fame group is introduced, and yeah, Ric Flair is there. Edge with short hair is just wrong. Meanwhile, Heath Slater bugs Flo Rida and gets beat up as a result. Team Johnny (The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga) v. Team Teddy (Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Santino) As feared, everyone is wearing t-shirts and they don’t even get separate entrances, as each side uses the theme song of the GM. It just makes everyone look like such nerds. Kofi with a crossbody on Dolph for two, and Truth comes in for the double-team for two. Drew is in and he gets dominated by the faces and chopped down by Khali. Booker chops him in the corner and gets a sideslam for two, and he goes after the heels on the apron and gets laid out as a result. Swagger (who has new, non-American themed tights) comes in with a chinlock, and clotheslines Booker for two. Over to Henry, who pounds Booker down as the crowd is DEAD. Miz continues the beating to dead silence and Dolph drops an elbow for two. Miz comes in with his own chinlock as it just gets deader and deader and the crowd is literally silent. Finally Khali comes in with the big chop and they start randomly doing the wacky finisher spots, leading up to the babyfaces doing a triple dive onto the heels. The chicks get into a random catfight and we’ve got Santino and Miz left in the ring. Flying headbutt sets up the Cobra for two. Over to Zack and Dolph takes a crazy bump off a monkey flip. And of course Eve comes in and screws him over, allowing Miz to hit the stroke at 10:44 to give Johnny Ace both shows. Really, eleven minutes for that finish? Ryder’s getting pinned by Miz now, he might as well hang up his tights. And Eve turns on him formally afterwards and kicks him in the junk, as I guess we’re supposed to be shocked that heel Eve would do something bad to Zack. What a boring load of shit this whole thing was. You’d think it would be a bunch of comedy spots or crazy brawling or something, but no, just a super-dull tag match with the heat on Booker the whole time. DUD So yeah, to recap, Zack gets no revenge, gets pinned by Miz to lose the match, and Eve kicks him in the nuts to dump him. Great night for him. Meanwhile, Big Johnny waives the DQ rule in the WWE title match, just to mess with CM Punk. WWE title: CM Punk v. Chris Jericho They’ve certainly got a lot of time to save this show. They take it to the mat to start and Punk hits him with crossfaces and stomps him in the corner. They’re basically wearing matching outfits tonight, which is either a fashion faux pas or Jericho trying to play mindgames. Punk keeps pounding him in the corner and flirting with a DQ, so Jericho eggs him on with a comment about his dad and Punk pounds him with elbows. To the top, but Jericho rolls out to escape, so Punk hits him with a flying clothesline to the floor instead. Jericho: “How’s your SISTER?” So Punk grabs a chair and Jericho flings insults, hoping for the DQ, but Punk just spinkicks him instead, and Jericho regroups with a dropkick to take over. They head to the apron and Jericho clotheslines him back into the ring and then suplexes him to the floor. Now there’s a spot you don’t see often, for good reason. Back in, Jericho gets two. Backbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock, and another backbreaker gets two. Senton gets two. Punk fights back and goes up, but Jericho yanks him down hard on the back of his head and gets two. Jericho goes to the surfboard and Punk escapes with the mule kick. This thing just isn’t clicking at all and the crowd, as usual tonight, is dead silent. Punk comes back with the leg lariat and neckbreaker for two. Jericho blocks the bulldog and tries the Lionsault, but Punk gets the knees up, so Jericho goes for the Walls, and Punk escapes that. High kick gets two. Punk goes up with the flying elbow, but he takes forever and Jericho gets his knees up and then hits the Codebreaker. Punk flies out of the ring on the sell, but he waits for Jericho to throw him back in and then hits a GTS out of nowhere. That gets two. Punk comes back with a powerslam for two. They trade back elbows and Jericho suplexes Punk onto the top rope and hits the Lionsault for two. “Not often you see someone kick out of the Lionsault” notes Cole. Except for every opponent of Chris Jericho, ever. They head up and Punk tries a rana, but Jericho hangs on and gets the Walls off that. Cool spot there. Punk quickly makes the ropes, and dumps a charging Jericho. This leads to Punk hitting a high knee that rams Jericho’s head into the post, and they head back in…where Punk springboards right into a Codebreaker. That gets two. Jericho stops to talk some trash and Punk tries the GTS, but Jericho elbows out and goes to the top, so Punk brings him down with a GTS…that Jericho counters into the Walls. Or rather, the Liontamer, but Punk fights out and cradles for two. Jericho reverses for two, so Punk turns THAT into the Anaconda Vice. Jericho rolls him over for two, but Punk hangs on until Jericho knees him in the head repeatedly to break. Back to the Walls, but Punk kicks him in the face and hooks the Vice again, moves out of the way of the knees, and Jericho taps at 22:18. Man, they took their sweet time getting into gear, but it ended up a near-classic with crazy drama and submission reversals. Unfortunately that beginning just dragged it down too far to fully recover from. ***1/2 Brodus Clay comes out and calls his mama. This leads to a big group dance number with dancers dressed as Brodus Clay’s mama. And this leads to nothing, as I guess they had too much time to use up and just needed the stupidest fucking thing possible. John Cena v. The Rock And after all those weeks of trying for the 50/50 reaction, John Cena gets booed out of the building. Team Edward and Team Jacob indeed. Although Twilight is so 2 years ago; kids killing each other in dystopian arenas is what all the pre-teens are into these days. Even with MGK doing his pre-entrance musical interlude. My god, who would boo Machine Gun Kelly? No friend of mine, that’s who. The Rock is looking JACKED tonight. Cena wins the epic lockup battle to start, but Rock wins the second try. Rock with the headlock and armdrags, into the majastral cradle for two. No ring rust there. Cena gets his own headlock, but Rock slugs him down and tries the Sharpshooter, so Cena bails. Back in, Cena hits a shoulderblock in the corner and lays Rock out with a clothesline, but it only gets one. Rock slugs away, but Cena dumps him and sends him into the table. Back in, Cena gets two and starts to wrestle quite heelish, stomping the ribs to set up a belly to belly suplex for two. Cena with the bearhug, but Rock slugs out of it and gets the DDT for two. Cena pounds the ribs in the corner, but Rock comes back with a clothesline and spinebuster…but Cena breaks up the People’s Elbow with an STF attempt. Rock escapes, so Cena gets the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, with a smile on his face during the Five Knuckle Shuffle. FU is escaped and they clothesline each other, but Rock is up first and it’s the slugfest. Rock stops to talk the trash, and Cena hits the FU for two. Rock pops up with Rock Bottom for two. Rock lays the smackdown in the corner, but Cena gets a sideslam for two. He goes up and gets the guillotine for two, as Rock took forever getting into position. Another FU is blocked, and Rock takes him down with the Scorpion King Deathlock, and he still can’t do it properly. Cena makes the ropes regardless, so Rock pulls him back and applies it again, and Cena gets the ropes again and bails to the apron. They brawl on the floor and Cena meets the stairs. Back in, Cena suddenly gets the STF and pulls Rock into the center to thunderous boos. Rock is the most awesome actor in the world because he actually makes it look like the move is painful and causing him to block out. That’s Oscar-caliber right there. And we go OLD SCHOOL, as the ref checks the arm, but Rock is up on the third drop. And he makes the ropes. Cena charges and walks into a samoan drop, and it’s the double KO spot. Rock is up first and slugs away, but Cena fires back into the ribs…and it’s SPINEBUSTER AND PEOPLE’S ELBOW. For two. Cena with a small package for two. The crowd goes crazy with duelling chants and Cena catapults Rock into the corner for two. Cena puts him on the top, but Rock sends him down again and goes AERIAL with the high cross, but Cena rolls through with the FU for two. Cena’s at a loss now and does a People’s Elbow for the hell of it, and ROCK BOTTOM finishes his ass at 30:38. Thank god they changed the finish. ****1/2 Rock was a bit gassed, but he just went 30 minutes after being retired for years, can you blame him? Other than that, tremendously epic stuff that delivered exactly what was promised. The Pulse I’m pretty sure 90% of the people buying this show were doing it for Rock/Cena and HHH/Undertaker, and both matches delivered tremendously, so that’s a thumbs up show from me. I just wish that something else had turned into a show-stealing classic to really elevate this thing to the upper tier of Wrestlemanias, but sadly nothing did and in fact a couple were really horrible from a quality and booking standpoint. Still, HHH v. Undertaker is well worth your $65 and I left happy that I bought the show.