|Hey Scott, why didn't the Waylon Mercy gimmick get a bigger push? It seemed like it had legs, and certainly seemed more interesting than an evil dentist or a garbage man.
This was a reader suggestion, since WWE is on this awesome run of stuff on YouTube right now. Seriously, subscribe to their channel, it’s pretty great.
By the way, this feud kind of threatened to shatter the space-time continuum, especially if you stopped to consider who was actually supposed to be who and attempted to make logical sense of it. In a fun way, of course.
The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2008 (I didn’t forget this one, I just couldn’t remember which show came first.) – Live from Portland, OR – Your hosts are Todd Grisham, Tazz, JR, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler…as the Beaver. ECW World title: Matt Hardy v. Mark Henry Henry gives Matt a clean break to start and then powers him down and pounds him with the clubbing forearms and knees in the corner. He misses a short charge and Matt starts kicking at the knee, but Henry clotheslines him and then levels him with a forearm shot off a charge. Matt goes after the knee again, but takes it to the floor and gets tossed into the stairs like a fly. Back in, Henry fights him off again and puts him down with a big boot for two. Mark goes up with a stomp from the middle rope, and that gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Matt fights up and then promptly walks into a bearhug. Matt keeps fighting, however, and gets the Side Effect for two. Henry powers out of the Twist of Fate and adds a big splash, but he hurts the knee and only gets two. Matt comes back one last time, hitting the knee to escape the powerslam, and finishes with the Twist of Fate at 8:06. Quite decent with the David v. Goliath story working like it generally always does when done properly. **1/2 (Mark Henry was actually showing signs of getting better at this point, although I think the MVP team kind of regressed him.) Meanwhile, HHH and Jeff Hardy do a joint interview backstage, as HHH texts his vote for himself (but he’s rooting for Jeff) and he wants Jeff to be at his best so he can beat the best. Women’s title: Beth Phoenix v. Candice Michelle Candice dropkicks the knee for two and takes her down for a rollup for two. Low dropkick gets two. Enzuigiri (and not a pretty one) and Candice fires away in the corner, but Beth picks her up in a fireman’s carry and rams her into the corner. Candice kicks at the knee in response, but Beth sends her shoulder into the post for two. She works the arm on the mat, thankfully switching from a cross-armbreaker to a wristlock. Seriously, it’s 2008, we’ve all seen UFC and we know that if you really do that move, you break the arm. (Well, except for Alberto Del Rio, who must be REALLY bad at the move. Perhaps he should watch some Ronda Rousey matches.) Candice fights up with a dropkick for two, but Beth blocks a legsweep and faceplants her. Beth goes up and gets knocked down, and Candice dropkicks her for two, as Santino saves. Candice makes the mistake of going after him, and Beth clobbers her, but Glamarella has another argument and Candice gets two. Beth kills her dead with the chickenwing-bomb at 4:50, however. Another notch on the Moolah-Meter. Not embarrassingly bad like the Tramp Stamp side of the division, and that’s enough these days, but Candice looked like an amateur out there next to Beth with her half-assed dropkicks and shrinking muscle tone. ** (She pretty much disappeared after her Playboy shoot, didn’t she?) Meanwhile, Kane once again is angry and very confused. Apparently we all wear metaphorical masks or something. Mask v. Nothing: Rey Mysterio v. Kane Wouldn’t it be fair to make Kane put his mask back on if he loses? (Not for another three years.) Rey wisely dodges Kane to start and dropkicks him to the floor, but walks into the big boot. Rey comes back with a seated dropkick and springboards in with another dropkick, but a clothesline blocks the 619 attempt. Rey tries a rana and gets blocked, but he pulls Kane to the floor anyway and follows with a pescado. Kane catches him and dumps him into the front row. Rey meets the post and they head back in so that Kane can dole out more punishment. We hit the chinlock and Kane boots him down again for two. He follows with a backbreaker submission, but Rey slugs out of it and reverses a sideslam into an inverted DDT. Cole describes it as “swashbuckling”, which is one of the reasons why no one likes him. Kane hammers him in the corner, but Rey comes out with a moonsault press and slugs back. He kicks Kane down and comes off with the top with a guillotine legdrop for two. Kane catches him again with a sideslam for two and looks to finish with the chokeslam, but Rey escapes it and springboards at him with some messed up DDT-like move. Splash gets two. Rey goes up and gets caught coming down, and Kane gets two. Kane misses a boot in the corner and Rey 619’s the leg to put Kane on the floor, but flies into a chair for the DQ at 10:03. Did Kane think the ref wouldn’t see it? Really good crowd heat for what seemed like it could have been another typical big v. little match, thanks to Rey bumping like crazy. *** Meanwhile, MVP demands to see Vickie, but can’t get past Big Show. Show’s “I’ve been focusing on the Undertaker, but if you keep bothering me I’m gonna focus on YOU” is a pretty good heel line. So MVP joins us, pleading his case to the crowd for his mistreatment on Smackdown. Randy Orton interrupts and he’s not particularly impressed with MVP’s skills. Rhodes & Dibiase & Manu join him and the crowd just gets on Cody right away with a “boring” chant, rattling him. Apparently the threesome is against Orton right now before they do the obvious “swerve” and have them join the Age of Orton. (Hey now, it was LEGACY as it turned out, not Age of Orton.) I like Manu’s Big Show Lite look better than his crazy samoan look. (He definitely wasn’t long for the promotion.) MVP tries to get on board with the second generation, but they show disdain for anyone without a famous father. MVP decides to leave, but now CM Punk and Kofi Kingston join us and ask for his help in brawling with the New Kids. And they punk him by sending him in first and leaving him to take a beating, but then join him and clean house themselves. Did I switch over to RAW or something? JBL v. Batista They slug it out to start and JBL loses that one, and Batista puts him down with a clothesline. Boot to the head gets two. Batista slugs away in the corner, but runs into a boot. JBL sets up for the Clothesline from New York, but Batista blocks him with a spear and JBL rolls out to recover. Back in, JBL slugs him off the apron and they brawl outside and back in. JBL gets two and takes over. Neckbreaker and elbow gets two. JBL hits the chinlock, but Batista suplexes out and wins a slugfest, then puts him down with another clothesline. Corner clothesline follows, into the running powerslam. JBL blocks a spear with a big boot, but Batista is in no mood and finishes with the spinebuster and Batista bomb at 5:15. No screwing around there. I had no beef with this. **1/2 JBL, from his position counting the lights on the mat, asks for the microphone and complains about the bad week he’s been having. And then he gets his heat back by cutting a hilarious promo about how great the bailout is for him because it costs everyone $10,000 per household and he gets to keep his penthouse apartment and millions of dollars. I sense some subtle political commentary from the WWE. And then it gets sillier as Cryme Tyme and Sgt. Slaughter steal his limo in the back. Big Show v. Undertaker JR, apparently trying to one-up Michael Cole, calls Big Show “cyclopean”, apparently having missed out on Show having both eyes. Slugfest to start and Show clotheslines UT to the floor, but gets necksnapped. They brawl on the floor and Show gives him some good shots to the ribs and sends him into the railing, but Taker comes back and puts Show into the post. Taker pounds him on the floor and adds the guillotine legdrop, and they head back in. Taker hits him with a corner clothesline, but gets mowed down by a clothesline. Show throws hands in the corner, again working on the ribs, then drops an elbow for two. Back to the ribs and he adds a legsweep for two. Taker fights from his knees, but Show knees him in the head to put him down and pounds away. Taker fights up, but Show headbutts him down again…and goes up? Pump splash misses and Taker fires back again and hits the flying clothesline. Legdrop gets two. Old school ropewalk, but Show catches him with the chokeslam for two. Taker ducks the knockout punch and tries his own chokeslam, but Show counters that, so Taker DDTs him instead for two. Kudos to Show for taking that bump. Taker slugs him down in the corner, but Show takes the turnbuckle off and rams Taker into it, and knocks him out cold with three punches at 10:03. Now there’s a finish you don’t see every day. Unless you’re Kimbo Slice. (In all fairness, Slice goes down after one.) This was quite good, as if you’re gonna have two 300 pound guys out there, might as well have them beat the hell out of each other. ***1/2 Show’s ending rabbit punch is why MMA refs would stop the match BEFORE he got a chance to hurt his opponent. As a WRESTLING finish, though, it worked. (And Show has been riding that punch as a finisher ever since!) Smackdown World title: HHH v. Jeff Hardy HHH gives the handshake and then clobbers him from behind, getting two. He starts working on the arm, but Jeff flips out of it and takes him down with the headlock. HHH wins the battle for a hiptoss, but Hardy takes him down with another headlock and hangs onto that. HHH elbows him down to break, but Hardy gets a flying headscissors and puts the champ on the floor with a clothesline. He follows with a dive, but HHH directs him into the floor instead. Back in, Jeff slingshots in with a legdrop for two and it’s back to the headlock on the mat. HHH backdrops him to the apron to escape, but Jeff tries a sunset flip, which HHH blocks with a Pedigree attempt in an “Ooooooh” moment from the crowd. Jeff backdrops out of it, but then tries a flip dive and splats on the floor. HHH lets the count run and then tosses Jeff back in, for two. Backbreaker and he drops elbows on the back, for two. Jeff fights up, but a facecrusher gets two. HHH drops the knee for two. He works Jeff over in the corner, but runs into a boot, then recovers with the abdominal stretch as he goes old school heel. And he even uses the ropes, but gets caught. So he switches to the sleeper, but Jeff takes him down to escape and then follows with a mule kick for two. Seated dropkick gets two. He whips HHH right to the floor and this time gets his tope con hilo, as JR is all about the baseball analogies tonight. Back in, a clothesline from the middle rope gets two. Twist of Fate is reversed into a clothesline, however, and HHH gets two. Hardy charges and hits elbow, but HHH comes off the middle and gets caught, allowing Jeff to hit a gourdbuster for two. Jeff tries the Whisper in the Wind, but HHH powers him down for two in kind of an ugly spot. MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and HHH sets up to finish, but Jeff reverses the Pedigree into a catapult, and Whisper in the Wind gets two. Mule kick in the corner and Jeff goes up, but he whiffs on the swanton and it’s KICK WHAM…Twist of Fate? Wow, not many people get to reverse the Pedigree. Jeff pulls off that miracle and hits the swanton, but HHH cradles for the pin to retain at 17:00. Ooooh, so close. See, kids, never leave your shoulders down. I was way into this one and thought they were gonna pull the trigger there for a second. **** RAW World title, ladder match: Chris Jericho v. Shawn Michaels Shawn overpowers Jericho and teases the superkick, but Jericho evades him. Shawn charges and hits the post, and Jericho hits a northern lights suplex, which leads into a pinfall reversal sequence in a match without pinfalls. Jericho clotheslines him to the apron and puts him on the floor with a nasty springboard shoulderblock. He tries whipping Shawn into the ladder, but Shawn climbs it and uses the momentum to hit a cross-body. Jericho sends him into the post again and charges with the ladder, forcing Shawn to counter with a drop toehold. Shawn gets his own ladder, but Jericho takes him down with the Walls of Jericho and brings the ladder into the ring. Shawn see-saws it into his face, however, and sets it up for the first climb attempt, as Jericho now appears to be down one tooth. Hey, that’s BLOOD. Someone alert Vince. Jericho pulls him down and catapults him, but Shawn grabs the ladder and climbs again, so Jericho brings the ladder down. Crude but effective. Jericho beats on Shawn with the ladder, then whips him into the corner, but Shawn reverses him into the ladder and brings it down on his knee. Shawn puts the ladder in the corner and adds a kneecrusher onto it, then goes to the figure-four to really kill the knee. Jericho reverses out and then kicks the ladder into Shawn’s face for good measure, then catapults him under the ladder. And then we get an incredibly brutal spot, with Shawn’s head getting sandwiched in the ladder, and Jericho climbs. Shawn stops him, so Jericho sets up the ladder in the corner and then gets reversed into it. They brawl to the floor and Jericho gets the worst of it, as Shawn drops ladders on him and BRINGS THE HATRED~! Sportsmanship is nice, but sometimes you just need a good vendetta, ya know? Shawn puts Jericho on the table and climbs a monster ladder, but Jericho follows and you know it’s gonna be good. And indeed, it’s a backdrop suplex through the table, taking both of them out. Shawn emerges first from the wreckage and sets up with a ladder on the top rope, but Jericho recovers and dropkicks it back at him. They fight on top and Jericho climbs the ladder and sets up for a superplex, but Shawn pushes the ladder over to escape, leaving it on top of Jericho. Flying elbow onto the ladder follows, and the laws of physics say that’s a dumb move. Luckily Shawn suffers less damage and he sets up for the superkick, but Jericho counters by smashing him in the face with a ladder. I love this match. So Jericho also gets goofy by Lionsaulting Shawn under a ladder, which again hurts him worse. Jericho sets up the ladder and pins Shawn underneath, but Shawn has the POWER and pushes the ladder over, sending Jericho to the floor as a result. This seems to leave things free and clear for Shawn to win, but Jericho pushes the ladder over just as Shawn starts undoing the belt. Jericho takes his turn at climbing now, but Shawn follows him up for the slugfest on the ladder, which results in Jericho falling back and getting hung up in the rungs. Lance Cade runs in to save his meal ticket, and Shawn stops to go after him with a superkick and they battle for the belt on top. The belt is freed and Shawn hammers away in desperation, but Jericho headbutts him and falls off with the belt to win at 22:22. That finish with both guys having a tug-of-war for the belt was something else, man. Match of the year thus far, there I said it. ****3/4 And what I loved was that they didn’t try to out-crazy the previous ladder spots, but merely took the existing ones and made them more bitter and hateful. More blood (or at least intentional blood) would have been nice, too, but it didn’t hinder the match for me like it did with the Edge-UT Hell In a Cell deal. The Cade run-in really wasn’t needed, though, and that deducts the 1/4* if you’re playing along at home. So yeah, the last three matches comprised basically half the show’s running time, which makes this one an overwhelming thumbs up. Especially surprising given how lackluster the show looked on paper, but the big matches delivered and I’m happy. (That was a hell of a double main-event!) Don’t forget to check out Dungeon of Death, available in bookstores everywhere (and Amazon) on October 28!
The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2006 – One of the cool things about 24/7 is that they not only show stuff from the past, but from the present, like PPVs on a 4-month delay, for instance. Hey, better to pay nothing and wait a while than $40 and get screwed by a bad show. And I’m a month late in reviewing this, as the current offering is Survivor Series 2006, but that’s the beauty of a DVD recorder. I LOVE technology. (Thankfully I recorded a TON of stuff off 24/7 over the course of the few years that I had access to it, although cataloguing is not my strong suit so it’ll basically be a case of one day going to watch a random Boston Garden house show and having an episode of World Class stuck at the end as well. I love surprises like that! Also, for those of you super-obsessive ultra-nerds out there who keep track of this sort of thing, this was the first rant done where the formatting was 100% compliant with my current formatting, so I only had to cut-and-paste instead of the numerous changes I usually have to make with these things.) – Live from North Carolina University. – Your hosts are Michael Cole & JBL Opening match: Matt Hardy v. Gregory Helms Non-title match here. Lockup to start and Helms takes Matt down, but gets his doo rag knocked off as a result. Oh, now it’s on. Funny how making Helms into a faux superhero with a catchphrase and merchandise did nothing for his career, but actually letting him win matches got him over. It’s almost like it’s rocket science or something. (Yeah, well he went crawling back to the Hurricane character like a drunk guy stumbling back into the bar for one last drink, and then in Helms’ case driving home on his motorcycle afterwards and nearly dying. Hang on, I think I lost my metaphor in there somewhere.) Helms gets a cheapshot and stomps away in the corner, but Matt suplexes him and wins a slugfest. Elbowdrop gets two. Matt puts him out with a clothesline and follows with a pescado. Back in, Matt yanks him out of the corner into a powerbomb for two, but Helms hotshots him to stop the rally. Neckbreaker gets two. Blind charge hits elbow, but Matt gets too frisky and tries to go up, which allows Helms to bring him down with a Russian legsweep for two. Helms locks the arms and throws knees on the mat, which would actually be a pretty wicked submission move, (Austin Aries would agree.) but it goes nowhere and he switches to choking instead. They trade knees and Helms takes him down with a jawjacker for two. He takes Matt down with a wristlock/chinlock combo, but Matt escapes with an inverted DDT and they slug it out. Matt comes back with a corner clothesline into a bulldog for two, and that sets up the Yodeling Legdrop for another near fall. Twist of Fate is reversed for two and Helms follows with an Unprettier for two. Again, but he stalls and goes up, which allows Matt to catch him coming down and get the Side Effect for two. Another one as we go all Japan with the repeated finishers, and Matt goes up with a moonsault that hits knee. Shining Wizard misses and Matt rolls him up for two. Another try hits and gets two for Helms. They head to the top and fight up there, and Matt wins the battle but loses the war, as Helms crotches him on the top and then hits him with a knee strike to bring him down for two. Sweet. They fight for the finisher and Matt wins with the Twist, and that’s finally enough. (Matt Hardy d. Gregory Helms, Twist of Fate — pin, 13:07, ***1/2) Started slow but they gave it time and it built very nicely, leading to a good finishing sequence. Sadly, it meant nothing and was forgotten the next day. (Just like Tammy Sytch’s rehab.) Meanwhile, King Booker tasks Sir William Regal with making sure that he slays the three evil dragons tonight and ensuring his title remains in the kingdom. Smackdown tag titles: Brian Kendrick & Paul London v. KC James & Idol Stevens Man, James and Stevens sure didn’t stick around long, did they? (Ah, but Idol Stevens was just waiting to grow out his awesome beard before returning as our intellectual savior Damien Sandow. DID I JUST BLOW YOUR MIND? Probably not.) Idol slugs on London to start, but gets caught with a rana out of nowhere and it’s some double-teaming by the champs. JBL really goes for the Obscure Reference of the Week award by comparing the champs to Steve & Shaun Simpson. Who the hell is gonna remember THEM? (JBL compares EVERY team to the Simpson brothers. That’s his whole thing.) James comes in and also gets double-teamed, as London & Kendrick hold them off with spinkicks, and then dump them and follow with stereo dives. London goes up and gets caught by Faceless Diva #1 at ringside, and Stevens takes over in the ring with a chinlock. James comes in with a flying knee to the back, which gets two, and hits the chinlock. Backbreaker gets two. Stevens gets an arm submission on the mat as the vanilla offense continues, and they keep London in their corner. KC misses a blind charge and Stevens is forced to yank Spanky off the apron and prevent a tag, but London escapes and makes it anyway. He dropkicks everyone , but Sliced Bread #2 is blocked while London nails Stevens with a tope suicida. James brings Kendrick down with a superplex for two, but London saves. Heel miscommunication allows Kendrick to get two, but Stevens sneaks in with a backbreaker on Kendrick for two in what I guess was supposed to be the big false finish. Meanwhile, a catfight at ringside between the two women who I couldn’t pick out of a lineup if asked gets the crowd more excited than the match to this point, and Kendrick finishes James with a Sliced Bread #2 into a standing moonsault from London to retain. (Out of curiosity I checked Wikipedia and the women in question were Ashley Massaro and Michelle McCool. Just in case you care.) (London & Kendrick d. James & Stevens, Kendrick Sliced Bread — pin James, 9:34, **1/2) Never really got anywhere because the challengers were mostly of the punch-and-kick variety of offense, and I guess the fact that they went back to whence they came soon after this speaks to that. Cole & JBL spent the whole match putting the champs over, which also left little doubt as to the outcome. Meanwhile, William Regal searches for Finlay, but finds Vito jumping rope instead. Hilarity ensues. Teddy Long joins us with a birthday present for the Miz, who JBL burns by calling him a Terry Taylor wannabe. Oh, that’s mean. To both guys, really. (And to think Miz would be headlining Wrestlemania just four years after this.) Long brings out Faceless Diva #3, who apparently won the Diva Search last year, and gives Miz a lapdance. (That would be Layla, in fact.) Well, that explains how she won. To the shock of no one, the giant birthday present opens and reveals Big Dick Johnson, which is apparently supposed to be hilarious. Have I mentioned how awesome it is that I can at least watch this crap for free instead of paying $40 for it like people had to do in October? MVP v. Marty Garner Yes, the screwing of the fans continues, as they debut MVP with a squash match on a PPV. He takes Garner down with a snapmare for two, but stops to work out. The crowd decisively turns on the match already, as MVP pounds him in the corner and gets a lariat. He finishes with Elix Skipper’s Play of the Day. (MVP d. Marty Garner, neckbreaker — pin, 2:27, DUD) JBL, despite being the heel announcer, completely buries MVP the whole match, which is kinda cool and probably why he was so effective in that role. I know the match was designed for fans to hate it and turn on it, but I like watching shows and ENJOYING matches, not being manipulated into reacting to them in ways I don’t want. Also, MVP has the worst look for a supposed mid-to-top-level heel that I’ve ever seen, with his ridiculous outfit and cornrows. (I think that was supposed to be the point, or something, I’m not sure. The whole MVP thing went way over my head because as everyone knows, I live in the bubble and don’t watch sports outside of hockey, and I never got into him until he got really good and then quit right after.) Meanwhile, the Regal-Vito saga continues, as Regal is showering for no apparent reason (I guess to clean off the ketchup and mustard from the last segment) and runs into a naked Vito, the result of which is getting put into a match with Chris Benoit. Mr. Kennedy v. Undertaker Another non-title match, as Kennedy was US champion at this point. (Ken Anderson was US CHAMPION!?! When the fuck did THAT happen? Why do I not remember this at all?) Wow, nothing makes me want to buy a show more than champions not defending their titles. Taker quickly goes after Kennedy, attacking him in the corner and chasing him to the floor for a quick brawl, and back in for a slam off an armbar that sends Kennedy running again. Taker sends him into the post to continue on the arm, but goes Old School back in the ring and gets yanked down by Kennedy to take over. Taker goes right back to the arm and tries Old School again, this time successfully. Flatliner gets two, and it’s heartening that JBL actually calls it that. The more I hear him on commentary, the more I’m impressed. (Plus he climbs mountains too.) Kennedy gets whipped around and clotheslined down for two, and UT pulls the turnbuckle pad off for good measure. They brawl outside again, and Kennedy still doesn’t learn his lesson from last time, as Undertaker is again able to take him into the post and this time hurts the back. Back in, Taker gets two. Kennedy tosses him to buy time and attempts to take the countout, then recovers enough to DDT Undertaker on his way back into the ring. That gets two. Running choke gets two. Kennedy stomps away in the corner and follows with the face wipe, which gets two. Elbows get two. Kennedy makes another error, starting a slugfest, and Taker sends him out of the ring again. Taker legdrops him on the apron, but Kennedy catches him with a piledriver when they head back in. Zombie situp and Kennedy hammers him down for two, then goes to a chinlock. JBL really needed to smack Cole around for calling Kennedy’s piledriver a tombstone. They slug it out as JBL advocates “kicking him in the groin” to slow Undertaker down, but despite this advice Taker is able to come back with a corner clothesline and Snake Eyes. Legdrop gets two. Chokeslam is blocked by Kennedy and countered with a neckbreaker, which gets two. High kick misses and Taker gets his chokeslam, which sets up the Last Ride. Kennedy fights out of that, however, and rams Taker’s head into the exposed turnbuckle. Nice continuity there. Kennedy goes up with the Kenton Bomb, and that gets two. Taker revives and Kennedy runs away for his belt, but gets slugged down by Undertaker, who uses the belt to draw the cheap DQ. (Mr. Kennedy d. Undertaker, beltshot — DQ, 20:35, **) This was shaping up to be a really good, old style heavyweight match until the shitty finish. They really should have cut it off shorter than 20 minutes if they were gonna do that ending, considering the match had no real big finishing sequence and just ended up being a lot of dull buildup and no payoff. (Much like Anderson’s career. High five! Anyone?) Falls Count Anywhere: Chavo Guerrero v. Rey Mysterio This whole storyline makes me wish they would have given the Kerwin White gimmick another few weeks to see if it clicked. Chavo slugs on Rey to start, but gets dropkicked and they fight on the mat. Rey goes up early and Chavo follows, but can’t powerbomb him down. Both guys end up landing on the floor and they start fighting up the aisle. Chavo gains the advantage and tries to powerbomb Rey by the entrance, but Rey grabs onto the scaffolding of the set in a neat counter and takes Chavo down with a rana, for two. Over to the crowd, where Chavo sends him into the sideboards and Rey responds by whipping him into a railing. The railing appears to be there for no reason other than so that Rey can whip Chavo into it and then give him a guillotine legdrop, and they fight down the aisle. Rey tries the Rube Goldberg bulldog in an area with no room to do it, and Chavo swings him into the boards to counter, which gets two. Up the stairs we go, but Rey sends Chavo crashing back down again and follows with the senton off the railing. Chavo comes back with a clothesline as they continue their leisurely walking tour of the arena in lieu of having an actual match. Going “walk walk walk punch, walk walk walk punch” is not exactly the makings of a classic brawl. Over to the rear entrance, where Rey gets a 619 variation and finishes with a high cross off the bleachers. (Rey Mysterio d. Chavo Guerrero, cross body — pin, 12:12, **) Really kinda dull and unmotivated for a supposed grudge match, although I guess Rey having only half a knee was probably a factor. (How scary is it that Rey was falling apart six years ago, and he’s STILL doing the same shit today with even worse knees? This dude is gonna be in a wheelchair by the time he’s 40.) Chris Benoit v. William Regal This was of course Benoit’s return from yet another lengthy injury. (HIs next injury would be of the permanent type.) They slug it out to start and Regal grabs a headlock, and that turns into a fight in itself on the mat. Regal tries going for the leg takedown, and they fight over a top wristlock before Regal gets his takedown. I should point out how unspeakably awesome it is that Regal has “Villain” on his tights. They trade bridges on the knucklelock battle and Benoit rolls into a bodyscissors. Note to Michael Cole: The name of the scissors move refers to the body part being attacked, not the body part being used. Thus, wrapping the legs around the body is a “body scissors,” not a “leg scissors.” Benoit starts chopping and follows with the german suplex, then headbutts Regal down to bust him open and adds another suplex. Diving headbutt gets two. Yeah, they came to fight tonight. Over to the apron and Regal tries to suplex him out, but Benoit throws knees to block and attempts his own suplex off the apron. Regal counters with a DDT on the apron, and gets two back in the ring. The stiffness continues, as Regal throws knee into a straight punch to drop Benoit, and Benoit fires back with chops into a Sharpshooter attempt. Regal kicks him in the face to escape. Running knee gets two. Regal gets a bizarre abdominal stretch, with a dragon sleeper added in, and it looks mighty painful. Benoit beats him up in the corner to break and CHOPS THE CUT. Oh, come on, that’s gold. Regal jumps on his gut with a kneedrop and gets two, and stretches Benoit on the mat. Benoit makes the ropes, so Regal kicks him in the head and gets two. Bow and arrow submission, which Benoit slugs out of, and they fight over a full-nelson until Benoit gets a dragon suplex, into the crossface. (Chris Benoit d. William Regal, crossface — submission, 11:15, ***1/2) Kinda surprised that the finish came so soon, as I thought they were just getting warmed up out there. Another 10 minutes and it would have totally stolen the show and been a Match of the Year candidate. Meanwhile, Regal has to report to his royal Bookerness that he has failed in his quest to find Finlay, but Finlay finds them anyway. Finlay emphasizes that he wants a fight, and Booker blames Regal. Smackdown World title: King Booker v. Lashley v. Finlay v. Batista. I think Booker has the advantage in that he at least has two names. Hey, that’s as valid an analysis as anything in a worked sport. This was original supposed to be Booker v. Lashley, which probably would have produced the lowest buyrate in history had they not panicked and changed it. Everyone goes after Booker to start, but Finlay decides to start fights and dumps Lashley, then lays out Batista. Booker forges an alliance with Finlay and they work on Batista in the corner, but Lashley saves and catches Booker with a spinebuster for two. He slugs away, but Finlay yanks Booker out of the ring to save him again, and together they ram Lashley into the apron to get rid of him for a while. They should form a team, actually, given that burst of cooperation — they can call themselves Black Irish! (Still could be used for Sheamus and Kofi or any number of people.) Back in the ring, they pound on Batista in the corner and Finlay clotheslines him, then turns on Booker and clotheslines him, too. BUT WHAT ABOUT BLACK IRISH? Finlay gets rid of Batista and goes after Booker, ramming his throat into the apron and buttdropping him for two before Batista saves. Finlay smoothly takes Batista down with a Fujiwara armbar while Booker rolls out to recover,and Finlay even holds on through a samoan drop by Batista. Lashley saves, so Finlay takes HIM down with a leglock, seemingly determined to single-handedly carry this thing. Booker saves with a superkick and gets two on Finlay, but Batista chokes him down. Booker fires back with a nice sidekick for two, but Batista sideslams him for two. Lashley dumps both guys, but since it’s not a Royal Rumble he doesn’t win yet. Finlay tries attacking, but Lashley fights him off and presses him. However, the Little Bastard makes his appearance and nutshots Lashley, giving Finlay two. Booker saves, but covers Lashley himself for two. Booker and Finlay, unable to agree to disagree on who gets the pin, fight it out in the corner until Batista returns to pound on both of them. Corner clothesline for Finlay and a Jackhammer for Booker, and only Lashley is left standing now. They do the staredown like it’s Hogan and Warrior or something, but it’s not like they have any history. Batista spears him for two and works him over in the corner, but Lashley comes back with a spinebuster. Batista ends up bleeding off that fairly innocuous sequence, and Lashley snaps off a nice belly to belly and dumps him with a clothesline. Finlay returns and gets dumped, but Booker sneaks in with a Bookend on Lashley and gets two. Lashley cradles for two. Booker with the flying forearm for two. Axe kick is broken up by Finlay, who bowls Booker over with a clothesline for two. Batista returns with a spinebuster for everyone and opts to hit Finlay with the Batista Bomb, but Lashley stupidly spears Batista away and Booker steals the pin on Finlay to retain. (Booker d. Lashley, Finlay and Batista, pins Finlay, 16:53, ***1/4) The four-way format actually allowed them to do several short matches instead of one long one, and the small bursts of power stuff actually ended up being quite effective. The Pulse: Sure, no one bought the show, but this was actually quite a good PPV, with a shocking number of ***+ matches spread across the card and only one real clunker, and even that was short. Check this one out on DVD. Recommended show. (I literally don’t remember anything I just read about.)
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.
The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2003 – Geez, you’re a FEW days late with a rant… (Joke there being that this wasn’t posted until a few months into 2004, as I was visiting family and didn’t have the motivation to do the rant until I was able to track down the DVD months later.) – Live from Baltimore, MD. – Your hosts are Cole & Tazz. – Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Tajiri v. Rey Mysterio. Lockup to start and they fight over that, and they both hit the floor and head right back in. They exchange low kicks, and back to the lockup. Rey takes him down with an armdrag and then goes after the leg on the mat, but Tajiri reverses to an armbar. Rey flips out of it, but Tajiri chops him down and goes behind in order to pound him down. Rey escapes a suplex and gets an armdrag, then dropkicks the knee and blocks the handspring elbow with a dropkick that sends Tajiri out. Rey follows with a pescado, and back in with a try at Eddie’s springboard wristlock, but Tajiri drops him on the top rope, and then sends him into the post. Back in, that gets two. Tajiri stays on the arm and kicks Rey down on the mat, and he goes back to the arm. Rey fights back with the springboard wristlock, but now Tajiri kicks him down with a high kick and a spinkick for two. Back to the arm, and a kick to the shoulder gets two. Tajiri pounds the arm and takes him to the top, but Rey comes down with a tornado DDT for two. Cross body gets two. Crucifix into a sunset flip, but Tajiri blocks for two, and Rey reverses that for two. Tajiri catapults Rey over the top, but he hangs on and takes Tajiri out with a bodyscissors. He follows with a rana off the apron. Back in, Rey misses a springboard, and Tajiri tosses him, but Rey reverses the momentum into a 619, leaving Tajiri loopy. West Coast Pop is blocked with a powerbomb for two. Rey reverses him into the corner and charges, then alley-oops over with a moonsault press for two. Tajiri kicks him down again, into the Tarantula, but Rey ducks the Big Kick and they reverse into a seated dropkick from Rey. Rey catapults him into the 619, and the West Coast Pop gets nothing as Tajiri’s future cohorts run in to break up the count, and the Big Kick finishes for Tajiri at 11:40. Good match, horrible finish. It was an interesting blend of the “new style” mat-based stuff and the traditional lucha stuff, but it didn’t feel like it clicked 100% *** – Meanwhile, Vince shares pathos over having to beat up his daughter later tonight. Hey, I’m okay with it. (2003 was not my favorite year.) – A-Train v. Chris Benoit. Who would have thought back then that this feud would be the precursor to Benoit actually winning the big one? Train talks trash in the corner to start, so Benoit pounds away, but gets overpowered and bails. Back in, Train takes him down and out again. Back in, Benoit dodges him and starts chopping, but can’t get the german suplex and Train powers him into the corner and pounds him with knees. Benoit fights back, but runs into an elbow. They slug it out in the corner and Train misses a charge, allowing Benoit to fire away again and start chopping. Train clubs him down, into a splash for two. Benoit takes him down into the corner, but walks into a bicycle kick that gets two for Train. Into the corner for more CLUBBING FOREARMS until Benoit drops. He catapults him under the middle rope, but Benoit fights from his back. Train drags him out to the middle and smacks him around, into the forward butterfly suplex for two. Benoit fights back and goes for the knee, but Train clubs him down again. Into a surfboard, but Benoit fights out and gets a DDT, and both are out. Train reverses a suplex attempt into his own german suplex, and he tosses Benoit. Into the railing and back into the ring, but Train grabs a chair because he’s a BAD PERSON. Benoit fights him off, but Train presses him and then loses his grip and drops Benoit on his head, on the chair. Thankfully, he survived. Train sets up the chair in the corner, but Benoit keeps coming, rolling Train into the crossface. Train counters up, so Benoit hits him with the rolling germans. Cole wonders how he can do that after falling on his head. Because he’s CHRIS FUCKING BENOIT, you wank. (Obviously in the long run falling on his head and then doing repeated german suplexes wasn’t the best idea.) Benoit goes up and gets slammed off, and Train clotheslines him before going up himself. He changes his mind and gets the Derailer for two instead. He kicks the chair by mistake, and Benoit takes him down into the Sharpshooter for the submission at 12:19. Too long, but Benoit sells a beating really well. ** – Zach Gowen v. Matt Hardy. Boy, did THIS one end up looking stupid in retrospect, and probably destroyed Matt’s career. Matt Facts: He cannot be grossed out, and he’s survived five car wrecks. I bet Jeff was driving during all of them. (HO HO, remember when JEFF was considered the dangerous driver out of them?) Matt takes him into the corner to start, but Gowen gets a pair of leg lariats. Matt slams him and puts him on top, but Gowen comes down with a bulldog for two. Shannon Moore trips him up and Matt stomps away and works him over in the corner, into a corner clothesline, and a lariat that puts Zach on the floor. Matt steps on his head and brings him in for two. Legdrop gets two. Vertical suplex into a surfboard, but Zach fights out, so Matt stomps him down again. Matt goes up and misses a moonsault, and Zach comes back with a dropkick that puts Matt on the floor, and Gowen follows with a somersault plancha. Back in, high cross gets two. He walks into the Side Effect, however, and Matt gets two. Zach goes up and gets crotched, and Matt tries to bring him down with a superplex, but Gowen blocks and gets the moonsault for the pin at 5:31. Gowen was fired two months later and I don’t think he even appeared on TV again after this. To this day I have no idea why the finish was Hardy doing a clean job. * (I wouldn’t say this specifically destroyed Matt’s career anymore, as he did a fine job of doing that himself, but it sure didn’t do him any favors.) – The APA v. The Basham Brothers. Bradshaw pounds away in the corner to start on Doug and overpowers him, and Faarooq comes in for some double-teaming. Back elbow gets two. Powerslam and he fights off Danny and clubs him, too, and the APA get the double spinebuster on him. Bradshaw drops an elbow for two, and the APA get a double shoulderblock for two. Danny kicks Faarooq down off a jawbreaker and Doug comes in, but gets pounded on the floor by Bradshaw. Back in, Faarooq with the Dominator attempt, but the Bashams sneak in with a double-suplex that gets two for Danny. They work Faarooq over in the corner and get another double-suplex, and that gets two for Danny. Back to the corner, as Doug switches in and chokes away, then hits the chinlock. Faarooq fights out, but Danny drops an elbow for two. Back to the chinlock, but Faarooq escapes and gets a spinebuster. Hot tag Bradshaw and he’s a REPUBLICAN ON FIRE, powerbombing Doug for two. He tosses Doug and gets the blockbuster slam on Danny, and another one on Doug. That gets two. The ref is bumped, which is JUST what this match needed, and Shaniqua runs in and clubs Bradshaw, giving Doug the pin at 8:54. This went on forever. ¾* The Bashams won the tag titles two days later from Los Guerreros. (Doug and Danny Basham was a horribly misguided push attempt. And then both guys ended up out of the business.) – I Quit match: Vince McMahon v. Stephanie McMahon. The buildup and promotion of this match was some of the most intelligence-insulting, arduous crap that the promotion that has ever put out, and that’s saying something. This match was promoted above all the others, and the result was a buyrate rivaling the lowest of all time. (Remember, Vince in moderation = ratings, but anything beyond that gives you THIS.) Anything that requires Linda to act is asking for trouble. Vince attacks Steph from behind, but she tries a sleeper, so Vince puts her down again. She dodges him, but Vince knocks her down again and hairtosses her. Into the corner, as Vince works her over with shoulders and chokes her out on the ropes. Linda tries chasing Sable away, but Vince intervenes. Back in, Steph kicks at him to come back, but Vince clotheslines her. Into a half-crab. Ever notice that Steph and Vince dress like mirror images of each other, down to the all-black color scheme and elbow pads? Kinda creepy. (KINDA creepy? HELLA CREEPY.) Vince surfboards her while Stephanie flexes her acting muscles and sells it. Sable brings in a pipe, but Linda trips her up, so Vince goes after her and gets hit with a low blow by Stephanie as a result. She hits him with the pipe and gets two. Vince begs off, but Steph hits him with the pipe in exaggerated manner a few times, and gets two. She goes after Sable, and sends Vince into her, setting up a bulldog for two. Vince catches her and chokes her down, then beats her down with the pipe. Well, spare the rod, spoil the child. He chokes her out with it, and Linda throws in the towel at 9:21. Because you have to keep Stephanie strong, you see. (I think they seriously believed that, actually.) This was all silly and cartoonish and worked within the context of what they were doing, but in the end it was just an excuse to give Stephanie another banishment from TV “forever” and didn’t make a bit of difference to anyone watching, nor did it draw a dime or have any effect on anyone who COULD draw money. * In fact, the whole plot with Sable and Linda went nowhere, and was completely forgotten a month later. – Kurt Angle v. John Cena. Hard to believe, but Cena was the heel and Angle was the face here. That dynamic seems so bizarre considering how easily they fit into the opposite roles. They fight over a lockup to start and Angle takes him down with a headlock, as Cole notes that “Cena cannot get into a quote-unquote wrestling match with Kurt Angle”. I’m so confused as to what I’ve been watching. (Sports entertainment, of course!) Angle takes him down with an armdrag, but Cena grabs a headlock and overpowers Angle, but Kurt comes right back with a series of armdrags. Angle gives some disrespect to Cena and fires away with punches, then gets a back elbow for two. He slugs away in the corner, but Cena catches him with a clothesline for two. Angle backdrops him for two, and slugs him down again, as the crowd seems torn on who to cheer for. Angle spears him with a shoulderblock in the corner and starts chopping, but misses a charge and hits the post, ending up on the floor. Cena sends him back in for a clothesline and a corner clothesline, into a neckbreaker for two. He stomps away and elbows him down for two. Into a double chickenwing on the mat as Angle’s mouth starts to bleed, but Angle counters out before running into a knee. Backdrop suplex gets two. Into the facelock, but Angle fights out and slugs away. He walks into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, however, and that gets two for Cena. Cena goes up, but gets caught with the Pop-Up Superplex, which Cena blocks. He tries a high cross, but Angle dropkicks the knee on the way down. Good sequence. Angle fires away and gets a flying forearm and clotheslines to make the comeback. Russian legsweep gets two. Cole notes that if you give Angle the big opening, he’ll drive right through. Rob Feinstein operates the same way. (Now to be fair, RF was never actually CHARGED with anything. But that sort of technicality has never stopped me before.) Angle goes for the anklelock, but Cena makes the ropes, so Angle baseball slides him to the floor. Back in, Cena catches him with a necksnap and they slug it out on the apron, where Angle teases the german suplex and Cena reverses to a DDT on the apron. Angle comes in, but gets caught with a guillotine legdrop coming in, which gives Cena two. Angle comes back with the rolling germans, but Cena dropkicks the knee, into the Throwback for two. Blind charge misses and Angle rolls him up for two. More germans from Angle get two. Angle slugs away in the corner, but Cena goes for a piledriver, but Angle keeps dropping down to block. Cena fires off knees to put him down and follows with a corner clothesline, and that allows a powerbomb into the corner. That’s so sick. That gets two. Gotta wonder why he never worked that into his regular arsenal. F-U gets two. Another one is countered to the Angle Slam, however, and that gets two. Cena grabs the chain, but it’s just a distraction while he uses Angle’s medals, and that gets two. I will go to my grave believing that should have been the finish. Another try at the F-U is reversed to a backslide for two. Angle Slam is reversed to another F-U, but Angle reverses to the anklelock for the submission at 18:27. Time and perspective would have meant Cena goes over, I’m pretty sure, but at the time they went with Angle and Cena didn’t end up too hurt by it. (Cena did OK for himself afterwards.) Didn’t like it as much the second time around, as the good parts were very obviously Angle carrying things, but Cena more than held his own otherwise. ***3/4 – US title: Eddie Guerrero v. Big Show. This is another one where they’d probably change the result in retrospect if they could. (There was a lot of that sort of second-guessing at this point.) Eddie goes after the knee to start, but Show tries to overpower him, so Eddie slugs away. He walks into a clothesline, however. Show headbutts him down and uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS before stepping on him. Eddie dodges a charge and pulls Show out of the ring, then distracts the ref with a chair before using a garbage can lid on him. Why was THAT under the ring, anyway? Eddie keeps slugging and chops Show in the corner, but that just annoys him. Eddie wisely backs off and heads outside, but gets tossed into the post as a result. Show tosses him back in and sits on his back, hitting the chinlock off that. Show keeps pounding the back and he loosens a turnbuckle, whipping Eddie’s back into it. Eddie fights back and the ref gets bumped, so Eddie pulls an international object out of his tights, nailing Show with it. That gets two. Next plan, as Eddie grabs the title and puts Show down with it, setting up the frog splash for two. Eddie charges and runs into a spinebuster, which gets two. Show chokeslams him for two. Another one is blocked with a low blow, and Eddie DDTs him for two. Another chokeslam finishes at 11:27, killing the crowd. Show would of course go on to defend the title a grand total of 3 times during the course of a SIX MONTH title reign. (Still better than Santino.) This match made no sense on a number of levels, and Show just wasn’t the guy to help Eddie reach the top. ** – Smackdown World title, chain-on-a-pole match: Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker. (So yeah, a year later and we’re right back to this match again. No wonder Brock wanted out.) Michael Cole says it’s ironic that Stephanie made this match as GM, which led to her match with Vince where she lost the GM title. So, how is that ironic, exactly? (Like rain on your wedding day.) Undertaker slugs away to start and goes for the arm, and they struggle in the corner. Brock misses a charge and Taker works the arm again, but Brock slugs out of that and hammers him in the corner. Taker boots him down, and the legdrop gets two. UT with the ROPEWALK OF DOOM and La Majastral for two. They brawl out and Taker elbows him off the apron, but Brock fires back with knees to the gut and sends UT into the stairs. Back in, Brock slugs away and throws elbows in the corner, into a Perfectplex for two. Brock slowly stomps him in the corner, but Taker fights back, only to miss a charge to the corner…and Brock stomps him down again. Taker necksnaps him, but Brock sends him into the railing and they fight on the floor. Back in, Taker catches him with an elbow, and the flying clothesline for two. Brock comes back with a knee to the gut, but Taker hotshots him. He makes the first attempt at getting the chain, but the lights go out. And nothing happens. Taker fights off Brock, but gets powerslammed. Brock brings the stairs in, but Taker headbutts him down again and stomps away in the corner. Brock whips him into the stairs, however. Taker comes back and clotheslines Brock to the floor, where he piledrives him on the remaining half of the stairs. The crowd gives that a perfunctory “Holy shit” chant. Taker climbs for the chain again, but Brock stops him, so UT puts him in something vaguely resembling a triangle choke, and they head back in. Brock goes low, and uses the stairs for two. Another charge with the stairs, but UT boots him down again and charges with them. Brock ducks and the stairs end up on the floor again, and Brock pounds UT with shoulders in the corner. He goes for the chain, but Taker brings him down with an attempt at the Last Ride, which Brock counters with a clothesline. It’s a duel of fisticuffsmanship, and Taker gets the corner clothesline, setting up Snake Eyes and a big boot. You know, Kevin Nash can always rest easy knowing that he added Snake Eyes to the wrestling vernacular. Brock counters the chokeslam with the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. Taker gets the “triangle choke”, with about 8 inches of air, so Brock counters with a slam. Clothesline from Brock, but Taker catches him with the dragon sleeper. Brock counters to the F5, which gets two. No one buys these near-falls because the chain hasn’t come into play, though. Speaking of which, Brock takes the moment to go for the chain again, but Taker chokeslams him from the top. And instead of going for the pin, which would be SMART, Taker climbs for the chain, but now the FBI run in and attack him. Boy, did THAT ever help out their careers. Taker gets rid of them as though they were jobbers (I know, that’s a stretch) and powerbombs Brock, but AGAIN chooses not to go for the pin. He stops to hit the FBI with the tope con hilo, but why would you bother if you’ve got the title won? Nunzio tries to get the chain and gets sent to the floor by Taker, who DOES get the chain, finally bringing it into play 25 minutes into this snoozefest, but now Vince McMahon comes out and shoves him off the top, allowing Brock to use the chain for the pin at 24:16. Ridiculously anti-climactic finish to a boring match. This set up not any kind of money-drawing program for Brock, but a gimmick match between Vince and Undertaker. No wonder Brock got tired of it all and left. (Hey, I just made that point at the top of this match, jerk.) Long and dull and LONG. **1/4 The Bottom Line: Time has left this show in the dust, as it bombed critically and financially, and showed just how wrong the direction of the company really was at that point. The crowd was dead after Angle-Cena because they had nothing to follow it, and the “I Quit” match ended up meaning not a thing, as no one misses Stephanie and Heyman ended up doing a more effective job in the same role. The Cena match is good, but not worth getting the DVD for. Recommendation to avoid. (Yeah, that’s an understatement.)
The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2002 – Live from Little Rock, Arkansas. – Your hosts are MC, Tazz, JR & King. – Opening match, World tag titles: Christian & Chris Jericho v. Booker T & Goldust. (Ah, the glory days of BookDust feuding with the Un-Americans. SO MUCH MONEY!) Booker starts with Christian (for those having trouble distinguishing the blond Canadians, Christian is the one WITHOUT the growth on his chin), and Booker gets a sidekick for two. Goldust comes in and gets a reverse crescent kick for two. Jericho tries and gets hit with a butt-butt, and he’s slingshotted out of the ring. Back in, he comes back with a missile dropkick for two, and Goldust is YOUR freak-in-peril. Christian gets the legsweep for two. Goldust comes back with a clothesline on Jericho, but gets pulled back into enemy territory again. He gets a fluke rollup on Christian and a powerslam, as everyone continues to ignore the tag ropes! Hot tag Booker, and he’s a house afire. Forearm for Jericho and superkick for Christian, but Jericho uses a complex counter to the axe kick – he moves. Spinebuster gets two for Booker, however. Rollup gets two. Booker crotches himself, but Goldust comes back in to bat cleanup, and hits Christian with the Shattered Nuts. Jericho gets rolled up for two as a result. Jericho reverses the Curtain Call into the Walls (does anyone EVER hit that move anymore?), but Booker breaks it up with the axe kick, and Goldust gets two. Booker gets a missile dropkick on Jericho before doing an inopportune Spinarooni, but Jericho’s attempt to capitalize with his springboard dropkick BREAKS the second rope. (This was just on Are You Serious, actually!) Man, time to lose some weight, Chris. Start by shaving the beard off. They cover up pretty well, as Jericho bulldogs Goldust on the belt (despite clearly missing by a foot) and then a moonsault finishes at 8:47. Could have been a disaster, but Jericho saved it. Kinda plodding. **1/4 – A lengthy Dawn-Torrie video package kills time while they fix the ring. – Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. (Hey, thanks for this, @SethMates) Torrie attacks on the outside, and they head in for some “clotheslines” from Torrie. Sunset flip gets two. Dawn jumps to the apron and necksnaps her, but Torrie gets an alleged baseball slide. Man, they shouldn’t even try that stuff if they can’t do it. Back in, Dawn stomps away and works the back. Dawn goes to the dreaded Cameltoe Clutch, and headbutts her for two. They do the catfight spot, with the ref getting involved, but Torrie suplexes her for two. Neckbreaker gets the pin at 4:40. You know how some matches look so bad on paper that they can’t possibly be as bad in reality as they look? Well, this wasn’t one of them. It was WORSE. –** – RVD gets one of the worst promos ever, trying to rip off Flair but sounding completely stoned in the process. Apparently he ordered extra biscuits tonight. (There was a weird running gag behind that one that I forget the circumstances of, but it had to do with ordering “biscuits” instead of pot to circumvent the drug policy. I recall that I didn’t follow through with it very long.) – Rob Van Dam v. Ric Flair. Rob attacks to start on the floor, and Flair ends up in the front row as a result. Rob guillotines him on the railing and they head in, where Rob gets a missile dropkick and handspring moonsault for two. Flair comes back with chops, but gets sent into the corner and messes up yet another Flair Flip. Rob pounds away and gets a springboard dropkick for two. Flair goes low, and clips him, and goes to work on the knee early. Back to the chops and some choking, and some more chops. Man, the moveset is getting a bit limited. Rob fights back, but gets kicked in the knee again, and chopped again. I sense a pattern here. Figure-four, but Rob escapes and gets a sunset flip for two. Backslide gets two. Dropkick misses and Flair tries another figure-four, reversed for two. Flair goes up, gets slammed off, and Rolling Thunder gets two. Spinkick and frog splash finish at 7:58. This was pretty much an extended workout for RVD. *1/4 – Meanwhile, Big Show is upset at not being in main events, and shoves Bischoff around to express that displeasure. Well, if it’s Eric’s doing, he just got raised up another notch in my books. (Yeah, well, we all know what THIS led to.) – Jobberweight title: Jamie Noble v. Tajiri. Tajiri hits him with a quebrada for two to start. Noble comes back with a knee to the back and kicks away, but Tajiri shows him how THAT is done. Kneedrop gets two. Tajiri blocks a sunset flip and kicks him again for two. Noble blocks a victory roll with the Electric Chair for two. Backbreaker gets two. Noble goes to the surfboard, but Tajiri reverses. His crucifix is countered for two, however. Noble pounds him down for two. Tajiri gets a sunset flip for two, but Noble keeps on the back and goes back to the surfboard. Noble works on the back in the corner and they head up, but Tajiri misses a moonsault. He immediately recovers with a vicious tornado DDT, and both guys are out. Tajiri makes the comeback and gets a SWANK series of martial-arts strikes, which leads into the handspring elbow and a crescent kick for two. A kind of swinging Gory Special and german suplex gets two. That was unique. Tarantula sets up the Big Kick, but Noble ducks and goes for the powerbomb, which Tajiri reverses to the Big Kick. The ref is busy making out with Nidia, and the Tiger Bomb gets two for Noble as a result. Another try is blocked by Tajiri, and they reverse until Nidia trips up Tajiri and gives Noble the pin at 8:14. Good little match, although Tajiri’s face turn seems to be news to the crowd. **1/2 (He’d get over bigger when he teamed up with Eddie a few months after this.) – Meanwhile, Benoit and Eddy replay the Smackdown skit from two weeks ago, with Chavo the one allegedly being beat up in the closet this time, but it turns out that Chavo REALLY IS being beat up by Angle. Eddy isn’t happy. Funny stuff. – Fake World title: HHH v. Kane. (So I don’t mention it in the match recap for some reason, but this was actually a unification match between World champion HHH and Intercontinental champion Kane. The idea was that RVD, as IC champion, would unify that belt with the European and Hardcore titles, in addition to the WCW US title that was unified into it in 2001, and make one SUPERBELT so that the newly created World title would absorb all their powers like Rogue stealing Ms. Marvel’s strength. Of course, this went awry when RVD dropped that Intercontinental SUPERBELT to Chris Jericho the week before his big challenge at Unforgiven, thus rendering the whole exercise pretty pointless. Then it ended up on Kane and for some reason they decided to do the unification match here instead, in the feud where, oh yeah, Kane was secretly a murderer in his teenage years and HHH ended up humping a mannequin. And then after all THAT, once HHH had gone to all the trouble of unifying all the belts into one SUPERDUPERBELT, he just goes and drops it to Shawn Michaels the NEXT MONTH. 2002 was such a fun year.) Do people actually sit at home making signs saying “Game Over” and thinking that no one has ever thought of that before? HHH tries slugging away, but gets nowhere with that. They do an awkward bit where they shove each other in the corner, and Kane gets a backdrop that nearly wasn’t to send HHH bailing. Back in, Kane gets a lariat for two. He slugs away and gets a corner clothesline, but misses a charge and HHH gets a neckbreaker. Kane no-sells and gets a powerslam for two. That was a pretty ugly sequence, too. HHH tries the facebuster, but even the POWER OF THE KNEE can’t slow Kane down…since he’s pretty slow to begin with. Kane heads out and gets sent into the post, and the arena is silent due to all the suspense. Back in, another neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. I see he’s been learning “Moveset Diversification 101” as a part of his training sessions with Flair. He slugs away in the corner, but runs into an elbow. He comes back with a Main Event Spinebuster for two. Choking follows. Yeah. I think it’s obvious that the boredom in this match is due to Kane not knowing how to work WWE Main Event Style. I mean, where’s the sleeper? Where’s the spinebuster? (Oddly, Kane got pretty good in 2003 when he slimmed down and switched to his half-mask.) Kane comes back, but gets caught with the Main Event Sleeper. That drags on for a while before Kane escapes with a backdrop suplex and goes up for the flying lariat. Ric Flair runs in to break up the monotony, and the ref gets wiped out. Kane hits HHH with the big boot and fights off Flair, but gets clocked with the belt for two. The crowd boos as though anyone actually gets pinned with a belt anymore. (That one kind of went out with the New Age Outlaws as a finish, until Russo brought it back in TNA.) Hurricane runs down to pretend like he means something, but a Pedigree on the floor ends his night. Take note, young wrestlers. (I find it perversely hilarious how much trouble Rock went to in order to build up Hurricane, only to have HHH destroy him at every turn and totally negate it.) Back in, Kane comes back again with a powerslam for two. He runs into an elbow and they head up, but HHH ends up jumping into a foot. Kane boots the referee into dreamland for our second ref bump, and chokeslams HHH through the Spanish table. Back in, he stops a potential sledgehammer attack from Flair, but HHH goes low. Kane shakes it off, but HHH hits him with the hammer. Kane ignores that too and chokeslams him, but there’s still no ref. That was one devastating boot. Another ref runs out and gets bumped (three ref bumps, for those keeping track), and Kane chokeslams Flair again, but the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 16:09, in a finish that may have surprised a scientist who has been locked in BioDome 14 for the past 20 years and thus has never seen a wrestling match in his life, but for everyone else it was pretty predictable. (Coincidentally, being locked in a Biodome with nothing but 70s pop culture tapes and soap operas to watch, and never watching wrestling in your life, is a terrific way to get a job with the writing team.) I guess having multiple run-ins and three ref bumps is all part of knowing how to work. *1/2 – Meanwhile, Steph has a heart-to-heart with Jacuzzi Girl #2, and tricks her into admitting just between the two of them (and the cameraman and the 100,000 people watching) that it was all a ruse by Heyman. (Random trivia note: Jacuzzi Girl #2, who was the antagonist in a storyline where she was supposedly having an affair with Undertaker, actually had a small part in Back To The Future Part II. I have no idea why someone bothered cross-referencing that role, but that’s the internet for you.) – WWE tag title finals: Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle v. Rey Mysterio & Edge. Angle starts with Edge and dominates on the mat, then tosses him into the corner like a lawn dart. Rey won’t give him the satisfaction of tagging out, however. That’s a cool bit of storytelling. Angle goes back to it, but Rey stomps on his foot to break a go-behind, and gets a seated dropkick and a flying headscissors. He takes a powder while Angle fumes. Now Angle gets Edge, and they take it to the mat. Edge hiptosses him and dropkicks him, and Angle is still frustrated. Benoit gets his shot at Edge, and they go to the mat and trade armbars. Good stuff. Benoit works a headlock, but runs into a knee and takes a gutbuster for two. Backbreaker gets two. Edge works him in the corner, but gets chopped WITH AUTHORITY. Edge flapjacks him to stop that, and an Oklahoma roll gets two. Angle knees him in the back to turn the tide, but Edge spears him off the apron to retaliate. Rollup on Benoit gets two, but Angle gets the last laugh with a necksnap that allows Benoit to clothesline Edge for two. Dig that crazy teamwork! They work him over in the corner and Kurt makes with the choking, but Edge fights back. Kneelift gets two for Angle. Angle grabs a chinlock/bodyscissors combo to keep Edge grounded, and then a belly-to-belly. Back in the heel corner, Benoit comes in and unloads the CANADIAN VIOLENCE, and wears him out with knees to the gut. Rolling germans and Benoit stops to send Mysterio flying before heading up. Edge blocks and follows him up with a superplex, and tags abound. Rey is on fire with a headscissors on Benoit to set up a seated dropkick in the corner, and a dropkick that sends Angle out. He guillotines Benoit between the ropes, for two. Edge and Angle slug it out and hit the floor, and Benoit blocks the Rube Goldberg Bulldog and slaps on the crossface. AWESOME. Edge saves that, but Angle sends him out again. Benoit gets sent into the ropes, but the 619 is blocked by Benoit ala Smackdown, but Edge reverses THAT with a missile dropkick for two. Wild! Rey heads up but falls victim to the Pop-Up Superplex, and Benoit gets two. We go back to standard tag format again, as God’s Team works Rey over in the corner and Rey is YOUR midget-in-peril. (Clearly Benoit is no longer playing for God’s Team.) See, that’s extended Rock N Roll Express formula, as there’s one hot tag 15:00 in, and then you switch off the face-in-peril role and do the other half of the match. Backbreaker gets two for Angle. They do a double-reversal of a suplex, but Angle gets an overhead suplex for two. Benoit gets the proverbial backdrop with icicles on it for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. More Canadian Violence (also with icicles on it, because Canada is so cold this time of year), but he charges and hits boot. Rey uses a headscissors to send him into the turnbuckles, and it’s hot tag to Edge. Backdrop for Angle, faceplant for Benoit, Edge-o-Matic for Angle, and it’s the old Chinese Fire Drill. That actually sounds like a finisher in Japan. (Can’t you just picture the Japanese announcers yelling “CHINEEEEEEEEESE FIRRRRRRRRRE DRILLLLLLLL-O!” for Tanahashi or someone like that? Although I guess “fire drill” would be an exceptionally tough phrase for a Japanese-speaking announcer to pull off.) Edge spears Benoit in the corner to set up a Broncobuster from Rey Rey, and Edge puts Angle on top and alley- oops Rey into a top rope rana. That is so awesome it should debut on Billboard’s “Things That Are Awesome” chart at #1, and the Modern Rock chart at #3 (Sadly, it would get knocked off by the new Adele song, like every other chart today.) . Spear gets two. Angle hits him with a german and Benoit goes for the crossface, but Edge makes the ropes. Rey breaks that up with the 619, but gets hit with the Angle Slam, and that leaves Edge and Angle. Anklelock is reversed to a rollup for two. Spear gets two. Either of those could have been the finish. Edge tosses Rey onto Benoit from a powerbomb position, but walks into the Anklelock. He can’t make the ropes, so he reverses to his own, but you’re playing with fire doing Angle’s move, so Angle reverses for the submission at 22:03 and that, ladies and germs, is YOUR Match of the Year. Hands down. ****3/4 Big ups to everyone involved. (And in this case, I was RIGHT. This did in fact win the WON Match of the Year award. Booyah!) – Meanwhile, Undertaker gets an injection of something against the doctor’s better wishes. Make your own jokes here. – Women’s title: Trish v. Victoria. Again, I beg, bring back Trish’s old entrance. Victoria works a headlock to start and overpowers Trish, but gets clotheslined for two. Kawada kicks by Trish get two. Victoria bails, but gets clotheslined on the floor. Victoria drops her on the railing, and they head back in. Victoria gets a slingshot legdrop for two. A really bad monkey-flip follows and they head up, where Trish gets the handstand rana for two. Victoria gets a body vice, but Trish reverses to a bridge for two. Sloppy. Victoria smacks her down and gets a needlessly complex sideslam, but decides to go up and gets hit with an Electric Chair for two. They slug it out and Trish flattens her with a Kawada Kick for two. Neckbreaker and rollup get the pin at 5:33. Bad and heatless, but they needed something to cool off the crowd after the tag match. 1/2* – WWE title, Hell in a Cell: Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker. Speaking of Brock, I was watching the other half of the OVW compilation (the video kept breaking up so I can’t rant properly) but I HAVE seen the Shooting Brock Press, and it IS as awesome as promised. (Well, once it officially debuted in WWE, it wouldn’t be that awesome, sadly.) Shelton Benjamin doing a 450 is nothing to sneeze at, either. Brock gets a powerslam to start, for two. Undertaker uses the cast to come back, however. Brock bails, but pounds away on Taker. He goes after the hand and goes to an armbar, but gets nailed with the cast again. Brock bleeds as a result. They head out and Taker sends him into the cage and jumps on his head. Taker gets two on the floor and keeps introducing Brock to the cage. Paul tries to reach through the cage and help, but Taker sends him into the railing, and HE blades, too. Brock meets the stairs, but comes back to send Taker into the cage and take over. More brawling out there. He pounds away with a STEEL chair, and works on the hand with it, although you can pretty clearly see that the actual hand was out of the cast. He tries to pull the cast off, but Taker fights him off. He finally gets it off and works on the hand, but can’t get a superplex. Taker walks the ropes and drops an elbow (falling on the “broken” hand) for two. Whatever was in that needle, they should sell it on the open market. They’d make MILLIONS. (And then Jeff Hardy would get caught with it in his house and do more jail time.) Brock heads to the apron, but gets sent into the cage, and Taker follows with a dive. Brock hits him in the face with the stairs a couple of times, and Taker does a GORY bladejob off that, hitting 0.9 Muta within seconds. Back in, Brock gets a Main Event Spinebuster for two. Brock slugs away, but Taker fights back with his “broken” hand (I guess you could call that reverse psychology), showing no ill effects. Man, can’t you at least punch the guy with your OTHER hand? He starts stomping on Brock’s hand, but Brock pulls him down to block the ropewalk. Taker is gushing blood all over the mat, and Brock goes for the F5, which Taker reverses to the chokeslam (again, with the broken hand) for two. Taker charges and hits boot, but Brock’s attempt at a powerbomb is reversed. DDT gets two for UT. Brock stupidly pounds away in the corner, and UT powerbombs him for two. Taker drips blood by Brock’s mouth while covering, giving us our yucky spot of the night. I believe dripping blood in your opponent’s mouth officially makes it 1.2 Muta and sets a new standard. Tombstone is reversed to the F5 at 27:14. I think a lot of people are being pretty liberal with the praise for this match because of the blood, but I’m personally sick of the NCAA champion WRESTLER being used in these stand-up slugfests that even Sid Vicious could do with the right booking in order to disguise other people’s weaknesses. For what it was, it was good, but it’s time to find someone who can hang with Brock in a wrestling match and let him expand past the kick/punch mentality of the “WWE Main Event Style”. Plus Undertaker’s magically-healing hand injury was pretty annoying, too. And don’t give me this “You have to give the Undertaker credit for doing the right thing” garbage, either – he should have done “the right thing” the month before and for about a dozen other people before this. Doing one job with a broken hand and a blackmail threat hanging over you isn’t exactly Ric Flair making Sting into a superstar at the first Clash, ya know? *** (Maybe, but holy shit was this a great brawl. 2002 Scott was pretty bitter about Undertaker at that point, rightly so, but here’s my redone version from a couple of years ago to set things right again:) WWE World title: Brock Lesnar v. The Undertaker From No Mercy 2002, as Undertaker was supposed to job to Brock at the previous PPV but “wasn’t feeling it”, so they did a double DQ and set this up instead. Boy, this match would be a lot different and more interesting today, what with Undertaker’s fascination with MMA and Brock being, you know, UFC heavyweight champion and all. Undertaker has a “broken” hand stemming from an angle on Smackdown, although I’m sure there was some other actual reason for the cast. Taker charges in and pounds away on Brock to start, but gets powerslammed for two. Taker comes back and threatens to backhand him with the cast, so Brock bails and takes a breather. Back in, Brock pounds on the cast in the corner, then goes to an armbar. See, who says Brock doesn’t have submission skills? Taker hits him with the cast to escape, then puts him down again with a straight shot to the head with it. Hey, it’s all legal, why not? Brock is bleeding already (super abrasive plaster, I suppose) and Taker beats on him outside and sends him into the stairs. Brock takes a nice bump into the cage and I immediately miss JR calling this. Taker sends him into the cage again and clotheslines him on the rebound for two, as it’s still falls count anywhere in 2002. Back to the cage for the Brock and they head into the ring, as Taker clobbers him with the cast again and adds the guillotine legdrop on the apron. An awkward knee off the top gets two. Back to the floor as Paul Heyman flails away through a hole in the cage, but Taker boots him into the railing and even the MANAGER is bleeding. UT grabs Heyman by the tie and rams him into the cage a few times as well in a fun spot, but he charges and hits the cage. Brock, caveman that he is, uses a double-leg to ram Taker into the post and then into the cage. He should have just been in UFC all along. Heyman lends Brock his belt and they tie Taker to the cage with it, and that allows Brock to abuse the broken hand with a chair as well. See, I like that they’re going in a totally different direction with this match, ramping up the blood and personal violence rather than trying for gimmicky bumps and cute ways to escape the cage. Back in the ring, Brock stomps away on the hand and gets the cast off, but he doesn’t even want to use it himself because he’s a REAL FUCKING MAN. He continues working on the hand instead. They head up to the top, and it’s more innovation as Brock swings from the top of the cage and kicks Taker RIGHT IN THE FACE. That’s a pretty low ceiling, actually. Taker fights him off and ropewalks over to drop an elbow, and that gets two. Brock escapes to the apron, but Taker boots him into the cage and follows with the suicide dive. Unfortunately they don’t have enough room to pull it off properly and it falls kind of flat, with both guys just kind of going into the cage. Brock clotheslines him and then adds a shot from the stairs, and Taker does a SPECTACULAR blade, literally pouring blood out of his head. He bleeds Booger Red! Brock is so inspired that he hits him with the stairs again. Back in, Taker is still fighting, but Brock hits him with a spinebuster and pounds away in the corner. They slug it out and Taker puts him with down with a clothesline, then stomps the hand for some revenge. He goes old school, but Brock just throws him off the top. Taker is still bleeding all over the place. Brock tries the F5, but Taker escapes and chokeslams him for two. Corner clothesline, but Brock catches him with a boot on the second try and sets up for a piledriver. UT reverses out and hits a DDT for two. Last Ride is blocked by Brock and he pounds away in the corner, but that’s never a good idea. And indeed, that earns him the Last Ride, but it only gets two because Brock is in the ropes. That’s right, there’s no rules in this match except for “the ropes are out of bounds.” You can smash chairs in the face of your opponent, but god forbid you pin someone while they’re in the ropes. Taker goes for the tombstone, but it’s F5 and good night at 27:15. Finish could have been stronger, but Brock looked like a beast and this was a very different style of match than the previous stunt shows were. ****1/2 (That’s better. They definitely earned that one.) The Bottom Line: Do two good matches save an entire show? I don’t think so – I’d recommend getting the show in order to see the amazing Smackdown tag title finals (and for the main event if you’re a gore freak), but while bad main events will usually drag a good PPV down to thumbs down levels, good main events can’t always rescue what was cruising at thumbs-down levels beforehand. Call it a thumbs up show on the strength of the tag title match and main event, but take note – everything else was forgettable junk and there but for the grace of Benoit goes the show. (This had the MATCH OF THE YEAR and a ****1/2 Hell in a Cell main event! THUMBS UP, jerk!)
The SmarK Rant for WWF No Mercy 2001 (But first a word from the movies: ARGOFUCKYOURSELF. If that movie doesn’t win Best Picture…well it wouldn’t actually surprise me. But it would be a damn shame, because any movie where I know exactly how it ends but still has me in a state of heart failure leading up to the ending deserves all the awards that can be thrown at it. I bow to the greatness of Ben Affleck’s directing.) – This was pretty much a one-match show going in for me, so anything on top of that is gravy. – Live from St. Louis, MO – Your hosts are JR & Paul E. – Opening match, WCW tag titles: The Hardy Boyz v. The Hurricane & Lance Storm. (Why did no one think of putting together “Hurricane” and “Storm” as a more permanent tag team? It’s RIGHT THERE.) Helms does some posing, but gets hiptossed. Hardyz hit a double-wheelbarrow suplex for two. The Legion of Justice comes back with the double-team neckbreaker on Matt for two. Jeff comes in and cleans house like a French maid, but Ivory trips him up. Hurricane teases a highspot but runs into a clothesline from Matt. Molly helps him recover and don the CAPE OF DOOM, and he comes off the top onto the Hardyz on the floor. Back in, Storm dropkicks Jeff for two. Double-team suplex gets two. Molly adds a cheapshot, but Jeff gets the corkscrew out of the corner, hot tag Matt. It’s BONZO GONZO. Poetry in Motion and Oklahoma Roll gets two for Matt. Yodelling legdrop gets two. The Legion of Justice comes back with a double-superkick that would have killed in the Rockers’ day, but only gets two. Jeff dumps Storm as Lita & Molly & Ivory have a big catfight, and Lita escapes to hit her shitty rana on Storm and take him out of the match. Twist of Fate and swanton finish Hurricane at 7:14. Decent enough opener, although Storm is still wasted in this role. **1/2 (He’d be wasted in much of his WWE tenure, sadly. At least he’s happy doing the wrestling school thing now. And Molly was pretty damn adorable in this phase of her career.) – Test v. Kane. Kane overpowers him and slugs him down, then screws up a hotshot. He presses Test out of the ring, but Test pops him with the ringbell to come back. Back in, Test does some choking and gets a suplex for two. Elbow gets two. Sideslam gets two. Flying elbow misses and Kane comes back with a backdrop and his own sideslam for two. Test gets dumped again, but hits the big boot on the floor. Back in, it gets two. Kane gets a chokeslam for two. Slugfest, and Kane powerslams and goes up, but gets nailed coming down and pumphandled for two. Test goes up, Macho Man elbow gets two. Test grabs a chair, but gets it kicked in his face. Evil Referee Nick Patrick grabs the chair, and Test finishes with a low blow and the Rockette Kick at 10:09. Too long, but not as brutally bad as I was expecting coming in. *1/2 – Meanwhile, Steve Austin gives an interview from his dressing room via Debra. Funny stuff. – Meanwhile, Stacy flashes Matt Hardy. – First Ever Lingerie Match: Stacy Keibler v. Torrie Wilson. Neither outfit is that scandalous or anything. Stacy does some cartwheels to counter shoving. She spanks Torrie with a cat-o-nine-tails and they roll around and over the ref. Nice to see them taking the basic midget match spots and applying them to a new generation. (Really, Divas matches are basically the new midget matches these days.) Torrie’s sunset flip attempt turns into a sort-of pinfall reversal sequence with lots of gratuitous camera angles. Not that I’m complaining. Stacy does the Diesel choke in the corner, again with blatant camera angle, and uses a headscissor in the corner to choke Torrie out again. Torrie snapmares her out of the corner for two, and finishes with Tajiri’s handspring elbow at 3:07. I’ve seen worse. ½* (And now they’re both banging celebrities and laughing at the notion of ever doing wrestling again.) – Intercontinental title ladder match: Christian v. Edge. Brawl outside and Edge backdrops him back in. Edge works the leg, but Christian bails. He fetches the ladder but gets it dropkicked in his face. They brawl into the crowd and back to ringside, where Edge catapults him into the ladder. Christian drops him on it, however, and climbs onto it while it’s laying on the stairs, but Edge crotches him on it. Christian hits Edge in the jaw with the ladder and climbs. Edge knocks him over, but Christian spears him with the ladder in the corner. Christian gets knocked onto it and dropped crotch-first on it. Man, Christian’s nuts are taking the biggest beating of the night. Edge gets whipped into the ladder and Christian catapults him facefirst underneath the ladder. Ouch. Christian gets another ladder and both guys climb, but Edge hits the Edge-O-Matic off the ladder. Edge climbs, but now Christian DDTs him off the ladder. Well, I guess they’re even now. Edge escapes the one-man conchairto and fetches a third ladder. Edge puts a ladder onto two chairs and splashes Christian from the top. Didn’t look very good – his knees hit the mat first. Christian goes up, but gets speared off the ladder. Saw that spot coming. Both guys climb the same ladder, and both guys tumble off and out. Christian crawls back in and climbs, but Edge lowblows him with a chair in revenge for Unforgiven, puts his head on a chair on top of the ladder, and finishes with a one-man conchairto that allows him to grab the title at 22:17. Pretty much the worst of the 18 million ladder matches this year, but that’s more the fault of the oversaturation of the gimmick than any lack of effort on their part. The repeated ladder spots from earlier matches didn’t help much, either. They really need to get a new gimmick match over. ***1/2 (Really, Elimination Chamber was the only one they were successful with. Sad that the glut of ladder matches for the year rendered this one so forgettable, especially when they were doing them on TV and such. Plus E&C had that chemistry where people just didn’t want to see them fight, much like the Hardy Boyz.) – Meanwhile, Spike Dudley gets drunk and makes time with the chicks at WWF New York. – WWF tag title match: The Dudley Boyz v. Tajiri & Big Show. Bubba pounds Tajiri to start, but Tajiri gets a standing moonsault on D-Von for two. Show comes in and uses the power of his giant ass to subdue D-Von in the corner. Show slams everything and the champs bail. Tajiri hits them with a tope con hilo. Back in, Bubba gets an elbow and Tajiri is YOUR face-in-peril. Double flapjack and D-Von hits the chinlock. He comes off the middle and hits foot, as usual, but Tajiri can’t tag Show. Wazzup Drop, but Tajiri recovers quickly and makes the hot tag. As long as Show stands on the apron and makes the hot tag, he’ll stay over. D-Von clips Show to slow him down, but Tajiri puts the Tarantula on D-Von in turn. Bubba breaks, and Tajiri hits the handspring and blows mist…but hits the ref. HE’S BLIND…er. Show chokeslams Bubba, no ref. Rhyno comes in with the GOAR GOAR GOAR on Show, and Dudleyz finish Tajiri with 3D at 9:19. Good effort, and another decent tag title match. **1/2 – Meanwhile, Rhyno wants RESPECT for the Alliance. Too little too late, guys. – Booker T v. The Underseller. Brawl outside to start, and Taker hits the railing, but no-sells and tosses Booker in. Big boot gets two, but Booker comes back and shoulderblocks him in the corner. UT shrugs it off and works the arm with his dizzying array of UFC-like submission moves. Booker somehow survives the murderous onslaught of shoot-wrestling excellence, but takes the ROPEWALK OF DOOM for two. Booker bails, probably convinced that Undertaker had been kidnapped and replaced by Tito Ortiz. (Ironic that I’m so down on Undertaker’s MMA stuff here, when in fact that’s what gave him his in-ring resurgence.) Taker follows him out, but hits the stairs. They fight into the crowd and back into the ring, where Booker gets the missile dropkick for two. UT slugs away, but gets sidekicked for two. Sideslam gets two. Kneedrop and the crowd preps for the Spinarooni, but he doesn’t deliver. Taker tries a powerslam, but Booker escapes and gets a neckbreaker for two. Slugfest is won by Taker for two. Booker spinkick gets two. Undertaker DDT gets two. Legdrop gets two, brother. He charges and Booker hotshots him in the corner, and a spinkick puts UT on the floor. Booker recharges with the SPINAROONI and an axe-kick for two. Taker tries the chokeslam, but Booker blocks and goes low. He tries the Enemy Pummel in the corner for some reason, and Taker poochiebombs him out of there for the pin at 13:20. (NEVER PUNCH UNDERTAKER IN THE CORNER! How many more powerbombs does the world need to see before we do something about it?) Taker sold more than usual, but then he knew he was winning. Really slow match. *1/2 – WCW World title match: The Rock v. Chris Jericho. (Remember when they had TWO World titles at the same time? That was a wacky time.) Lockup battle to start, and Rock works the arm. Jericho armdrags him, and works the arm in turn. Jericho slugs him down and chokes him out. Jericho unloads the CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but Rock counters with the Rock Bottom, which Jericho counters in turn with the Walls. Awesome. Rock bails to the apron and gets dropkicked to the floor. Back in, Jericho gets a flying elbow for two. More CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but Rock tries his own and gets hit with a leg lariat for two. Pair of backbreakers get two, but Rock reverses the pinfall for two. Nice touch. Jericho forearms him down, but gets hit with a Rock forearm in turn. He comes back quickly with a hotshot and the crowd starts chanting “Rocky Sucks” like old times. Jericho goes up, but gets crotched. Superplex and double-KO, and the crowd actually counts along with the 10-count. But then it’s St. Louis, so they’re already trained. Rock slugs away and gets a samoan drop for two. Kip-up and Rock lays the smackdown, drawing a very noticeable heel reaction. Jericho comes back and walks into a lariat for two. Suplex gets two. Rock dumps Jericho, and he gets two back in the ring. He goes to a heelish chinlock to put sympathy heat on Jericho, and indeed Jericho escapes, but misses a dropkick. Rock catapults him and lariats him. They head up, and Jericho gets a missile dropkick. Double KO again, Rock is staggered. Slugfest is won by Jericho, and he overpowers Rock and gets a neckbreaker and rana for two. Someone call HHH, he’s wrestling like a cruiserweight again. Jericho hits a Rock Bottom! Lionsault gets two. Bulldog sets up the Canadian Elbow, which misses. Rock gets an ugly dragon-screw into the Sharpshooter, and the crowd freaks until Jericho makes the ropes. Jericho bails and Rock preps the Spanish table and Rock Bottoms Jericho through it. Rock breaks the count like a heel and smacks Jericho around, and after Jericho crawls back in, Rock sets up for the Rock Bottom…and the crowd BOOS. Jericho blocks, but walks into a spinebuster. People’s Elbow is caught and REVERSED into the Walls of Jericho! This match is so awesome. I’m thinking it might be the finish, but Steph McJugs bounces out and distracts Jericho for the millionth time. Rock DDTs him and goes after Steph with a Rock Bottom that looked like he was fighting the combined forces of gravity and inertia trying to get the McMammaries in the air, but Jericho grabs the chair left by Stephanie, hits a forward legsweep onto it, and wins the WCW title at 23:47! Finally he wins the big one! Awesome match, a total MOTYC if not for the screwy finish. ****1/2 My faith in Jericho is restored and Rock shoots him a heelish glare, only to hand him the chair as if to say “You won this time, but you needed this chair to do it.” I smell rematch. I’m there, dudes. (Yeah, that title reign didn’t last particularly long, as Rock won it back on TV soon after. However, Jericho unified the belts in December and then won the rematch at Royal Rumble, so he ended up getting the best of things in this feud, I’d say.) – WWF World title: Steve Austin v. Kurt Angle v. Rob Van Dam. (I will contend until my dying day that RVD should have won the title here.) Angle suplexes everyone, but the Alliance beats him down. Austin & RVD square off after disposing of Angle, but he sneaks in and interrupts the Super Posedown. They all brawl with each other for a bit. Rob gets a leg lariat and dropkick for Austin, but Austin grabs the ropes to escape. Rob with Rolling Thunder onto Angle for two. Angle gets tossed and Austin spinebusters RVD for two. Austin works the leg and goes into a half-crab as the crowd chants “What?” at Austin. He should never use that line again if they want to keep him a heel. STF, but Angle breaks and dumps Austin. They fight into the crowd while RVD recovers, and then comes off the top with a plancha onto both Austin & Angle. He legdrops Austin off the table. Back in, Angle gets a capture suplex on Van Dam and a moonsault, but Austin covers Rob for two. Angle sleeper on Austin, but Austin comes back with a stunner attempt, blocked by Angle. Rob goes up while both guys are out, but both guys move and Angle suplexes him for two. Split-legged moonsault from RVD gets two on Austin. Angle Slam on RVD gets two. I see Heyman is booking tonight. Austin dumps Angle and they brawl out, and Austin preps the announce table. Angle reverses a piledriver, but Rob comes barrelling out with a suicide dive. Vince struts out as they lay out on the floor. Angle & RVD head in, and Angle beats the shit out of him, only to run into a leg lariat. Rob goes up, but gets superplexed. Austin hits KICK WHAM STUNNER on Angle, and he bails. Austin goes after Rob, but Vince sneaks in (well, as much as Vince can sneak anywhere) and blasts Austin with a chairshot that cuts open the back of his head. I see Vince is stealing traits from Van Dam besides the thumb-thing. Rob goes up, five-star frog splash, but Angle saves. Rolling germans and Angle Slam for Van Dam, but now Shane runs in to also help Van Dam, and Shane & Vince brawl over who gets to leech off of RVD’s heat first. In the ring, however, Austin goes KICK WHAM STUNNER on Mr. Potatohead and gets the pin to retain at 15:19. Solid three-way with the usual McMahonized overbooked ending. ***3/4 The Bottom Line: Well, we knew Rock-Jericho was gonna steal the show, but the main event was much better than I was expecting and there wasn’t really any horrible matches to drag down the undercard. The undercard itself didn’t mean much in terms of storyline or heat, but it didn’t hurt the top of the card, either, and that’s about all you can ask for when the booking is struggling. Thumbs up for some good effort and one potential Match of the Year candidate. (Hell of a show, actually. Hard to see much here to complain about, really.)
The SK Rant for WWF No Mercy 2000 (The PPV that inspired the game!) – Live from Albany, NY – Your hosts are JR & The King – Opening match, Dudley Tables Invitational: Too Cool v. Lo-Down. I guess this is two teams at a time. Too Cool look like Public Enemy-cito coming to the ring with a table to dance music. Both teams do some basic brawling, and D-Lo accidentally frogsplashes a table to give Too Cool the win. – Too Cool v. Raven & Tazz. Too Cool jump Raven and put him on a table, but Tazz chokes Scotty out. Raven bulldogs Sexay. They try to suplex Sexay through a table on the floor, but Sexay flips over and tries his sunset flip to the floor…as his feet shatter the table in the process. Sure, don’t expose the business TOO much there, Brian. A suplex through the table finishes Too Cool shortly after. – Tazz & Raven v. The Dudley Boyz. Quick wazzup drop and they set up the tables. D-Von legdrops Tazz through one of them to end it fast. – The Dudley Boyz v. Goodfather & Bull Buchanan. What a final. Bull lariats the ref early on, and you might as well put a big sign broadcasting the finish in the ring. And indeed Buh Buh puts Bull through the table, but the ref is unconscious. What, the timekeeper couldn’t make a judgment call there? Goodfather moves Bull out of the way and the ref wakes up to see Buh Buh in the wreckage, giving the RTC the win. BUT WAIT! Another ref comes out to restart this very important match, and a 3D for Goodfather through the table finishes for real at 14:40. Wow, a DOUBLE Dusty finish in the opening match to protect the RTC! I feel like I’m truly watching something special here. ½* for the whole mess. – Meanwhile, Rikishi spends some quality time with his sledgehammer. Does HHH know that his sledgehammer is cheating on him, too? Man, can it get any worse for the guy? (Well, he could always tear a quad…) – Test & Albert & Trish Stratus v. Lita & The Acolytes. No, wait, the APA is injured or something because T&A has launched a successful attack on them in the back, leaving Lita to fight by herself. A 3-on-1 beating results for a minute before The Hardy Boyz make the save. No match. (What was THAT about?) – Meanwhile, Edge & Christian discuss their nuts with Lillian Garcia. – Cage match: X-Pac v. Chris Jericho. Jericho does a choice job of running down X-Pac’s stale act, so the Seanster responds by wearing NEW TIGHTS! It’s black and silver now instead of green, thank god. They fight on the floor to start, and X-Pac tosses him into the cage. He goes for the climb and gets dropkicked off. Jericho tosses him into the cage. Bulldog, and now he goes for the climb, and they fight by the door. X-Pac rams him into the cage a few times, but tries a charge and gets backdropped into the cage. He comes back with a broncobuster and climbs to the top, but Jericho powerbombs him off the top in an awesome spot. X-Pac crawls for the door again gets stopped. X-Pac grabs a chair from the floor and KO’s Jericho. He climbs to the top, but gets crotched. Jericho joins him on top of the cage and puts him in the Liontamer in an odd spot. X-Pac pushes off and sends Jericho crashing to the mat. X-Pac climbs out, but showboats by standing on the open door, which allows Jericho to dropkick the door and get the crotchshot of the year on X-Pac, who falls unprotected onto the door, and Jericho walks out for the win at 10:39. Match was okay, but cage matches are pretty passé these days. **1/2 (Should have been another star for Sean Waltman landing nut-first on the steel door. The Vince McMahon rule generally applies for X-Pac matches, where the more times he gets kicked in the junk, the higher the rating.) – Mr. Gass & Chyna v. Val Venis & Steven Richards. Gunn gets a kneedrop on Val and a cross-corner whip. Chyna does some damage, and Richards comes in and gets press-slammed by Gunn. Chyna beats him up, too. Good plan – have the crippled guy get bumped around by the clumsy girl. Gunn comes in and gets armbarred to death. The rest of the RTC makes their presence known to distract the ref while Eddy hits Chyna with the LOADED FLOWERS OF DOOM for the Val pin at 7:18. Whatever. Billy Gunn still sucks, not surprisingly. ¼* (I think Right To Censor might have been one of the worst stables of all-time, right up there with Paul Jones’ Army.) – Meanwhile, HHH & Steph have a spat. – Rikishi comes out, announces Austin is chicken, and wants Foley to declare him the winner. And of course, here comes Austin in his big truck… – Rikishi v. Steve Austin. Big brawl to start. Usual stuff, intensely done as they brawl into the crowd before a bell actually rings. They chairshot each other and Rikishi bleeds pretty good. Rikishi ends up in the back of the truck and Austin drives him into the back, dumps him out, and tries to run him over, only to be thwarted by a well-timed police car. Austin is arrested and dragged off. No match, I guess, which solves that burning question about how they’d get one man to job here: They’d didn’t. (Hey hey! Maybe that’s how they’ll weasel out of the Punk-Ryback match! Have them brawl all over the fucking place and break stuff, but NEVER ENTER THE CAGE.) – European title: William Regal v. Naked Mideon. Lame wrestling sequence to start, as Mideon teases nudity. Regal sends him into the post and works on the neck for a while. Mideon bails, and a massive boring chant breaks out when he returns. Mideon then gets ENTIRELY the wrong idea in his head for drawing heat, and rips off the tearaway pants to reveal that he’s only wearing his fanny pack tonight. FAR too many shots of his testicles are seen for my liking and/or mental health. GIVE THIS MAN SOME PANTS, FOR GOD’S SAKE! Regal finishes him with the neckbreaker at 6:09. ½* (To clarify, Mideon wore flesh-colored tights under his pants, but still, YUCK.) – Earlier tonight on Heat, Kurt Angle conducts a Weird Al style interview with the Rock, cleverly splicing together bits of old interviews to make him “confess” to being behind the Austin rundown. – WWF tag titles: The Hardy Boyz v. Los Conquistadors. The Conquistadors run away for a bit. Hardyz double-team Uno, and that goes on for a while. Los Conquistadors comes back, but miss a double-plancha. Jeff plays Gump-in-peril. Uno slingshots Jeff into Dos by mistake, but they retain control. Uno misses a weird-looking top rope senton, and Jeff makes the hot tag to Matt. Matt’s a house of fire! Highspots follow in rapid succession outside the ring. Dos returns to the ring and takes a swanton bomb for two. Twist of Fate, but Matt chooses to go for the mask, and that proves to be his undoing. Another mask is beneath the first one, and Uno (Dos?) hits the Unprettier for the pin and the titles at 10:53. Dull match that picked up at the end. **1/2 Apparently the new champs will defend against Edge & Christian on Monday. (The payoff for this was legitimately brilliant, by the way. Whoever booked this thing deserves major props.) – For the benefit of Los Conquistadors’ fans, I now present the last match en Espanol, courtesy the Babelfish… – títulos de la etiqueta de WWF: El Boyz robusto v. Los Conquistadors. El Conquistadors se ejecuta lejos para un dígito binario. El doble-equipo Uno de Hardyz, y ése continúa por un rato. Los Conquistadors se vuelve, pero falta un doble-plancha. Jeff juega Gump-en-peligro. Los slingshots Jeff de Uno en el DOS por error, pero ellos conservan control. Uno falta un senton superior extraño-weird-looking de la cuerda, y Jeff hace la etiqueta caliente a mate. Mate una casa del fuego! Highspots sigue en la sucesión rápida fuera del anillo. El DOS vuelve al anillo y toma una bomba del swanton para dos. La torcedura del sino, pero mate elige ir para la máscara, y de ése demuestra ser el su deshacer. Otra máscara está debajo primera, y de Uno (el DOS?) golpea el Unprettier para el contacto y los títulos en 10:53. Emparejamiento opaco que recogió en el extremo. ** el 1/2 que los nuevos champs defenderán al parecer contra el borde y el cristiano el lunes. (And now, courtesy of Google Translator, a much better version…) WWF Tag títulos: Los Hardy Boyz v Los conquistadores. Los conquistadores escapar por un rato. Hardyz doble marca Uno, y que se prolonga durante un tiempo. Los conquistadores se vuelve, pero olvida una doble plancha. Jeff juega Gump en peligro. Uno hondas Jeff en Dos por error, pero conservan el control. Uno echa de menos un senton de aspecto extraño tercera cuerda, y Jeff hace el relevo a Matt. Matt es un castillo de fuego! Highspots siguen en rápida sucesión fuera del ring. Dos devuelve al anillo y lleva una bomba swanton para dos. Twist of Fate, pero Matt decide ir por la máscara, y que resulta ser su perdición. Otra máscara está por debajo de la primera, y Uno (Dos?) Disparo al Unprettier para el pasador y los títulos a las 10:53. Dull partido que recogió al final. ** 1/2 Al parecer, los nuevos campeones defenderán contra Edge & Christian en lunes. (2012 Scott dice: La recompensa de esto fue legítimamente brillante, por cierto Quien reservado este asunto merece apoyos importantes.). – HHH v. Chris Benoit. Big “HHH” chant from the crowd. HHH goes for the knee quickly and pounds on it, bigtime. Vicious stuff. PSYCHOLOGY~!, gotta love it. He even pulls out a Muta bridging deathlock. They head out and Benoit introduces him to the stairs. Back in, for some CANADIAN VIOLENCE! Single-arm DDT hurts HHH’s shoulder, and Benoit goes to work. He pulls out a hammerlock backdrop suplex, which is pretty insane. Northern Lights suplex gets two. Back outside, Benoit hotshots him onto the table. Snap suplex gets two. He tries the cross-armbreaker for a bit, then hits another hammerlock suplex and drives the diving headbutt into HHH’s shoulder. HHH comes back with a small package and an inverted suplex (called properly by LAWLER of all people!) . Slugfest, and HHH’s neckbreaker gets two. HHH superplex, but Benoit comes back with the rolling germans and a pair of bad-looking dragon suplexes for two. Benoit hits the crossface, but HHH powers out. Benoit beats him like a dog and slaps it on again, and HHH powers out again…and turns it into a DVD! (Death valley driver, not a digital video disc. Although speaking of which, it’s kind of a shame this one will never get a release anywhere.) Whoa, nellie! Stephanie bounces out (Bras reek of heinosity!) and slaps Benoit, allowing HHH to try the Pedigree. Benoit powers out and goes to the crossface, but HHH powers out of that and goes to the Pedigree, but Benoit powers out of that and goes to the crossface, but HHH powers of THAT, hits a lowblow, and the Pedigree finishes at 18:55. A clean finish in a HHH match? Wow. ****1/4 for some AWESOME psychology and a hard-fought finish. (That finish was something else.) Both guys’ hot streak continue. I dunno what they’re supposed to do with Benoit now, though. (Not much once his neck gave out again.) – WWF title: The Rock v. Kurt Angle. Slugfest, and Angle gets a chairshot on the floor. Back in for some choking. Rock hits a samoan drop and Angle bails. They fight to the back and Angle gets tossed through the backdrop. Angle whips him into the tech area and back to the ring we go. Rock goes punchy-kicky, and works on the knee. Dragon-screw into the Sharpshooter, but Steph distracts the ref so he can’t see the tapout. Angle hits a belly to belly off Rock’s chase of Stephanie (Run, Steph, run! Free them melons!) and gets a flying forearm for two. (On another superficial note, Steph’s implants really don’t suit her anymore, especially with HHH convincing her to live out his muscle fetish for him.) We HIT THE CHINLOCK, and Rock comes back and dumps Angle for more brawling outside. The EVIAN SPEW OF DOOM cues the comeback, but Angle grabs the title belt as Steph distracts the ref. It’s a no-DQ match, just hit him! Angle KO’s Rock for two. Angle goes upstairs and gets crotched and superplexed for two. A sweet german suplex by Angle sets up the ARM-BREAKING MOONSAULT OF DEATH, which misses. Lucky for Rock. Rocky comes back with the Hurricane DDT for two. Belly to belly sets up the spinebuster, and Stephanie tries to interfere, but gets Rock Bottomed for her troubles. Angle sneaks off and HHH runs in to beat on him, then stops to Pedigree the Rock for hitting his woman. Kurt crawls back in and covers for two. Crowd thought that was it. Another DDT gets two for the Rock. Angle bails, and now Rikishi waddles in for some more interference. Angle lowblow, but Rock gets the Rock Bottom. Rikishi comes in, but avalanches Rocky by mistake, then superkicks him by mistake. Angle gives both guys the Olympic Slam, and we have a NEW WWF champion at 21:33! Nice to see someone at least get the title off a pinfall for once. **** Great drama and pacing, despite the interference. (The rematch would of course be even better.) The Bottom Line: Once again, the last two matches save the PPV, as with Fully Loaded. Most of the first part of the show was junk (most notably the Austin-Rikishi non-match that I’d feel ripped off about had I purchased the show on the promise of seeing it) and didn’t serve much of a purpose at all. Hopefully Benoit won’t get shunted back to the midcard, but I don’t see a spot for him in the main event tier at this point. (Quite the opposite in fact.) Thumbs up, but it’s a close call.
The Netcop Rant for No Mercy, 10-17-99 (I’m not finding these October shows to be particularly memorable. This one is somewhat notable for being the first show in the post-Russo era.) – Live from Cleveland, OH – Your hosts are JR & The King – Opening match: The Godfather v. Mideon. Apparently they had some sort of altercation on Smackdown to set this up, although damned if I care about it. (This was back when Smackdown was just starting out as a TV show and only on its first network.) This would probably fit into the “get the crap out of the way first” theory of booking. (Nah, just the Godfather as the world’s greatest opening act theory.) And what happened to those trendy new tights Mideon had? Georgio Armani must have sued for copyright infringement or something. Godfather pounds Mideon in short order, but gets distracted when Viscera puts the moves on the ho’s. Now THERE’S a punchline just waiting to happen. (Big Daddy V! I called it here first!) Mideon chinlocks the Godfather into oblivion and tells the fans to shut up a lot. Dramatic irony, I guess. Ho Train misses and Mideon gets two off a clothesline. Godfather comes back, but a pump splash hits the knees. Viscera’s interference backfires and the Ho Train gets the pin at 7:30. That’s 7:30 longer than I would have given it. DUD – Women’s title match: Ivory v. The Fabulous Moolah. Please, god, let it be short. Ivory continues her stellar run of comedy matches here by blowing almost EVERY SINGLE MOVE she tries, including a plancha so sad it’s almost funny. How sad was it? I’ve seen Kevin Nash do a better one, seriously. Moolah can hardly move, but Mae takes about 4 good bumps off the apron to compensate, and Moolah is still a better wrestler than Ivory anyway. You know, comedy matches don’t really work unless it’s intentional, and this is no exception. And speaking of bad comedy, Moolah rolls Ivory up for the pin at 3:04. Well, there goes another title. Might as well do a unification match with Gillberg and get it over with. Crowd was NOT impressed with that decision, showing they at least have some intelligence. -*** Worst Big Two match of the year, including Kennel in a Cell. (Yeah, Moolah won the Women’s title again in 1999, just accept it. Didn’t Debra get it somewhere in here, too?) – The New Age Outlaws v. The Hardcore Hollys. See, now why would the Hollys screw themselves out of a title match by putting the belts on Rock N Sock? (Because they’re stupid.) Brawl to start, at any rate. The NAO double-team Crash, and Dogg gets the funky-punch and crazy-legs kneedrop. He gets tossed over the top and plays Ricky Morton. Long delayed suplex from Bob gets two. The Hollys use my favorite southern heel old school heel tactics to control, including the rope-assisted chinlock (note to all heels: Another of the top ten rules of wrestling is “Always put your feet on the ropes at any opportunity.”) and good old choking and play to the crowd to keep them in it, a major problem in most Outlaw matches. (Yeah, the Outlaws had this issue they never resolved where fans would go nuts for the entrance and a bit of their offense, but then they wouldn’t get into the heat segment, like at ALL, and they’d pop again for the finish. It was kind of symptomatic of the whole Russo thing in general because they basically had to retrain fans again on how to watch wrestling matches after he left, but the Outlaws were the biggest victims of it.) Obviously Bob Holly paid close attention to what Jim Cornette taught him as part of the New Midnights. Either that or Jerry Lawler is booking. (I wish they would let him.) Bob goes to the top but gets superplexed and Mr. Ass gets the hot tag. Jackhammer, but the ref is distracted, so Bob throws a chair into the ring. Gunn hits the Fameasser on Crash on the chair, but the ref sees it and DQ’s the Outlaws at 10:22. That is SO Memphis. **3/4 It’s so great to see a team actually playing the HEELS and getting the crowd to boo, instead of being cool or funny or whatever. (Indeed, no one ever accused Bob Holly of being cool or funny.) – Intercontinental title match: Jeff Jarrett v. Chyna. This is “Good Housekeeping rules”, plus another special stipulation: Winner must have ovaries.(That is the exact opposite stipulation of The Glee Project.) Various appliances are scattered in the ring like in Attitude/Warzone. Chyna basically beats the holy hell out of Jeff, again Memphis style, hitting him with whatever goofy weapons are scattered around ringside. Okay, seriously, is Jerry Lawler booking here or what? You generally don’t see people getting hit with salamis and eggs outside of Tennessee. Chyna misses an elbow and goes through a table, giving Jarrett a two count. More goofy weapons get involved, including a hastily-made cake batter (which ends up on Kitty’s head via Chyna), but JJ gets a low blow and applies the figure-four. Chyna makes the ropes. Jarrett gets a pair of tongs, but ends up getting them clamped to his very special place. Jarrett, ever the pro, then sells two pies to the face and a kitchen sink. It gets two. Jarrett reverses the Pedigree, bumping the ref. Oh, man, why bother? Everyone knows Chyna is winning. Jarrett nails her with the belt…and gets the pin?!? But wait — the belt isn’t a household item, sez the ref, so the match continues. Chyna hits Jarrett with that very common utensil — the guitar — and gets the pin at 9:57 for the I-C title, thus ruining two titles in the span of about 15 minutes. Goofy but relatively inoffensive otherwise. (This was FUCKING TERRIBLE. 1999 Scott was exceedingly generous, because I watched this piece of shit match on WWE 24/7 a couple of years ago and was so embarrassed to be a wrestling fan seeing a man v. woman match where they’re hitting each other with produce. Easy, EASY, negative star match.) Kitty leaves with Chyna. ** (Of course, at the time we didn’t know that Jarrett was actually working without a contract and had threatened to walk with the belt unless Vince paid him his PPV money up front. That’s why you don’t see Jeff Jarrett ever mentioned on WWE TV since then. The nerve of the guy, asking for money owed to him.) – The British Bulldog v. The Rock. Geez, pretty low on the card for the People’s Champion. Brawl to start, big shock there. Into the ring pretty quickly, however, and they exchange some stuff. Chinlockery erupts. Bulldog messes up taking a Samon drop and it ends up as a backdrop which gets two for the Rock. Low blow turns the tide, but Rock gets a DDT for two. Bulldog with the powerslam for two. Try #2 is countered to the Rock Bottom/People’s Elbow sequence for the pin at 7:18. Standard stuff here. *1/2 (This feud was famous for two things: Davey Boy literally rolling around in dog shit, and the Rock sliding into the ring in his $800 shoes to do a run-in.) – Ladder match: Edge & Christian v. The Hardy Boyz. (This is where TLC all began in its most primitive form.) Ref tosses Gangrel right off the bat. LET THE SPOTS BEGIN! Christian gets the first try for the money, and they take turns tossing each other off the ladder. Christian impales Jeff with the ladder in the corner, then runs up the ladder and dropkicks him in the face. Nasty. Edge misses the dive to the corner and hits the ladder. Jeff goes for the money and Christian hits an inverted DDT off the ladder. Yow! Christian gets suplexed off that ladder, Matt gets powerbombed off, and Edge gets dropkicked off. Jeff puts Edge on the ladder and hits the senton bomb. More insanity, as Jeff goes to the top, leapfrogs the ladder, and legrops Christian. Big round of applause for that one. Edge finds another ladder (it’s a tag team match, why not two ladders?) and takes a swing, knocking Jeff off the other ladder. Matt returns the favor. Edge ducks a ladder clothesline and Christian cross-bodies the ladder off the top, nailing both Hardyz in the process. The Blonds baseball slide the ladder into Matt’s crotch, drawing more standing ovations from the crowd. They put Jeff between the ladder and slam it on him 10 times, with the crowd counting along. May I just say all four of these guys are SUICIDAL? Both ladders get set up, and Jeff and Edge race up. Edge gets the Downward Spiral on Jeff from the ladder. Matt gives Edge a neckbreaker from the ladder. Now it’s Christian & Jeff, with a hiptoss to Jeff being the move in question this time. Then an unbelievably cool spot, as the Blonds set up the ladders with one folded, sitting on top of the other which is open. They try the assisted superplex onto that, but Jeff escapes, then dives onto the folded ladder, sending it into the air like a see-saw and nailing the Blonds in the face. Amazing. You just have to see that one to believe it. Another standing ovation for that one. All the ladders get set up again, and now all four head to the top, and then all go crashing to the mat in a spectacular trainwreck. Another ovation for that one. Now Matt & Edge race up the ladder, triggering a complex domino series that ends up with Jeff standing on the primary ladder and everyone else on the mat. That allows Jeff to grab the money at 16:22 for the win. An amazing, brutal, suicidal instant classic. Note to ECW: If you’re gonna do a spotfest, do a SPOTFEST. They all get a standing ovation, and after all that I feel like doing the same. ****1/2 (I haven’t watched it in a while, but I feel like the stuff at WM2000 and the TLC matches probably eclipsed it. Still, it was the original tag team ladder match.) – His Rockyness returns to cut a promo. He wants the WWF champion, probably at Survivor Series. HHH attacks him with the sledgehammer. (This didn’t pay off until a few months later, but WHAT a payoff!) – Val Venis v. Mankind. Val wisely learns the first lesson of heel heat: Don’t cut a funny opening promo. Val jumps Mick, which is somewhat stupid considering that Mick is wearing his Cactus Jack shirt underneath tonight. Mick controls with his usual back in the ring. He gets Rocko back, but a low blow turns the tide and gets it back for Val. Brawling outside, where Val suplexes Mick on an opened chair, painfully. Mick gets the mandible claw, but Val bounces his head off the ringpost twice to break. Val brings a chair in, and gets a russian legsweep on it for two. Um, weren’t the Outlaws DQ’d for doing that earlier tonight? Val works the neck, hitting a corner clothesline – bulldog combo. Flying elbow hits the neck squarely, with Mick selling like a pro. Money Shot misses, and Mick gets the double-arm DDT for two. Socko meets Rocko as both men go for the socks, and it’s mandible claw v. testicular claw. Mick’s neck is just too hurt, however, and he makes the mistake of falling back. Val gets the pin at 9:29. Good booking and psychology equals Val’s best match in the WWF to date. ***1/2 Mick gets Rocko back for good and chases Val off. (I remember none of this. Like, at all.) – X-Pac v. Kane v. Faarooq v. Bradshaw. X-Pac takes a seat on the floor right away and the Acs double-team Kane. X-Pac tags in and wants Kane. Bad move. Bradshaw tags in and Faarooq follows, and they do their thing on each other for a bit. They sucker X-Pac into a lariat, however, and a lengthy can of whoop-ass is opened. If you’re seen one X-Pac/Kane v. Acolytes match, you’ve seen this segment. X-Pac gets a tornado DDT to come back, and Kane tags himself in and kills everything moving. Chokeslam puts Bradshaw out. X-Pac follows with a leg lariat from the top as Kane is getting up, eliminating him as well. Crowd didn’t like that one. That leaves Faarooq v. X-Pac. Broncobuster is blocked with a spinebuster, and he tries a top rope shoulderblock, but X-Pac catches him in mid-air with an ugly X-Factor for the pin at 10:14. Eh, dull but decent. **1/4 I was expecting the long – awaited Kane v. X-Pac match out of this, but I guess that might have excited the fans or something so it didn’t happen. – WWF World title match: HHH v. Steve Austin. Vince McMahon makes his appearance for the night, stealing HHH’s sledgehammer before the match. Austin then wipes the floor with HHH, beating him with everything not nailed down over by the entrance. Into the crowd, with the obligatory crutch given by a fan. Back to the aisle, where Austin actually swings the boom camera and nails HHH in the face. Now that’s innovative. (Surprised no one stole that one.) Down to ringside, and the ref gets bumped on the floor before the match even gets to the ring. We finally make into the ring 7 minutes in, with Austin hitting the stunner. No ref. Ref climbs in, but gets bumped again and takes the Brian Pillman bump to the barricade outside. HHH hits the Pedigree, and Hebner comes charging in for a late two-count. Slugfest, and Austin wins. Thesz press and elbow get two. Now it’s back on the floor, where HHH does a wussy bladejob. It’s not a real bladejob unless blond hair turns red. Austin pounds away on the cut and gets a couple of two counts. Back outside and HHH eats stairs. He grabs the ringbell in desperation and nails Austin to turn the tide, however. HHH suplexes Austin on the Spanish table, and you see, I knew he’d do that. Why? Because he audibly yelled “Are you ready for the suplex on the Spanish table?” when the camera was on him. Back in the ring, as HHH works on the knee, audibly calling a couple of spots. Man, get this guy a ventriloquism course or something. Comeback for Austin, but he puts his head down and takes a facebuster. HHH grabs a chair, but it doesn’t come into play yet. Austin gets a superplex for two. They fight over the chair, and Austin goes MEDIEVAL with it, nearly killing HHH. The crowd goes BATSHIT, popping like nuts. That was amazing to see. And here comes Rock, carrying a sledgehammer. He swings at HHH, who of course ducks (because he’s the Game) and Austin takes it on the knee. A Pedigree takes Rocky out of the equation, and the knee injury is enough for HHH to pin Austin at 21:50 and retain the title. In other news, hell freezes over. Good match. ***1/2 I think that pretty much puts the “Austin won’t put HHH over” theory to rest. (Yeah, well Austin’s problem was never putting HHH over, as we now know, it was other things surrounding the match. This was supposed to set up Rock/HHH/Austin at Survivor Series 99, and Austin’s neck surgery just completely derailed that and gave us WWF champion Big Show instead. In fact, I’m kind of shocked we never did get that Rock/Austin/HHH three-way at some point. They might have made some money off that. Just a hunch.) The Bottom Line: First 40 minutes or so sucked, but the rest of the show was a great combination of sports entertainment (the Rock and Sock stuff scattered throughout that I skipped over) and some really good wrestling, notably from the main, the ladder match and the surprisingly great Venis-Mankind match. Dump the first little bit and call it an easy thumbs up. (I don’t remember this show at all. I probably have the DVD, though. Maybe I should pop it in sometime.)