Smackdown – January 29, 2004

Date: January 29, 2004
Location: MCI Center, Washington DC
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

Things have changed in a big way around here as Royal Rumble winner Chris Benoit has jumped over to Monday Night Raw to go after HHH and the World Heavyweight Championship. That leaves a pretty big hole to fill at the top of the card and I’m not sure where we’re going from here. Sounds like Wrestlemania season to me. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Paul Heyman is in the ring but here’s Vince McMahon to interrupt. Well that’s a big way to start things up. Heyman rightfully looks terrified as Vince yells about how this should have been a celebration of Chris Benoit winning the Royal Rumble. Benoit isn’t going to be here tonight though because he’s on Raw now with Steve Austin. This is all Heyman’s fault because Benoit used the legal loophole of the Royal Rumble winner not having to face a specific champion at Wrestlemania. That’s a much better worded explanation than the somewhat jumbled version we got on Raw.

Heyman goes into a rant about people bailing on Vince over the years and how Vince would say SCREW THEM because it’s time to give someone else a chance. With Vince asking for the point, Heyman says someone else is getting a chance tonight with a 15 man Royal Rumble for a title shot at No Way Out. The fifteen people will be the ones who were in the Rumble on Sunday but the injured Matt Morgan and the gone Benoit will be replaced by Hardcore Holly and Eddie Guerrero. Vince signs off on it and Heyman looks relieved.

Tag Team Titles: Basham Brothers vs. Billy Kidman/Paul London

Kidman and London are challenging. An early headscissors puts Danny down as Cole points out that Kidman and London haven’t teamed together many times. Hence why they’re #1 contenders of course. Danny low bridges London to the floor and makes the blind switch, setting up a spinning belly to back suplex for two.

The champs start in on London’s back as the announcers talk about the Royal Rumble tonight. London finally rolls Doug away and gets the tag off to Kidman to clean house. An enziguri gets two on Doug and there’s the BK Bomb to make things worse. Another switch lets Danny crotch Kidman on top though and a hanging DDT out of the corner retains the titles.

Rating: D. The time killed this as there’s not much you can do in less than four minutes. At least they’ve gotten away from having Shaniqua be the focus of the champions as that wasn’t doing anyone any favors. It also doesn’t do the company any favors to have two tag divisions on life support but that’s been the case for a long time now.

Angle is in Heyman’s office to draw his number, which he again dedicates to the troops. He gets his number and runs off, seeming to be a bit nervous.

Chavo Guerrero Sr. is worried about Chavo Jr.’s injuries at Eddie’s hands. Jr. says his injuries will heal but the internal scars will never go away. He swears revenge on Eddie so he can prove that he’s the real star.

Eddie is happy with his number. Rey Mysterio comes in, along with boxing champion Jorge Paez. Spanish is spoken and Rey is ready to defend the Cruiserweight Title.

John Cena hits on Dawn Marie and tells her to grab his ball. Heyman comes in to say she’s not grabbing anyone’s balls. Cena calls him Captain Buzzkill and seems to like his number. Rhyno comes in and asks Cena about his knee. That earns him a bad smell joke, with Cena saying Heyman has the soap.

Cruiserweight Title: Jamie Noble vs. Rey Mysterio

Mysterio is defending and Noble has the blind Nidia with him in a Rumble rematch. Rey takes him down to the mat for some grappling with Noble getting the better of it. The test of strength is countered with a monkey flip and Noble gets knocked into the ropes. It’s way too early for the 619 though as Noble elbows him in the face but accidentally gets tripped by Nidia again. Thankfully they don’t repeat Sunday’s ending as Noble gets up at two and starts in on Mysterio’s back.

It’s off to a seated abdominal stretch before Noble bends the ribs and back around the post. That always looks so painful. A superplex plants Rey but Jamie can’t follow up. The delay lets Mysterio start the comeback and a Code Red gets two. Now the 619 can connect but Rey gets sent outside after missing the West Coast Pop. Jamie goes up top but Nidia accidentally gets in his way. He throws her inside but she avoids a charge, allowing Rey to hit the springboard seated senton for the pin to retain.

Rating: C+. It’s amazing how much better this was when you give them a little more time and a story to the match to let the match go somewhere. Noble and Mysterio are both talented performers and when they’re given a few resources, you can have a good match. The Nidia story needed to go somewhere a few weeks ago but it’s nice to have them finally do something with her.

Post match the sunglasses come off and Nidia can see. Cole: “Nidia just screwed her boyfriend!” That’s not very PG.

New correspondent RUe (the R and U are both capitalized on screen) De Bona talks about the history of WWE and Playboy because we’re still not supposed to know about Sable and Torrie Wilson being in Playboy.

Big Show takes his turn to hit on Dawn Marie (understandable) and draws his number.

Brock Lesnar isn’t happy with Goldberg and wants to teach him a lesson. He’s tired of hearing about Goldberg, who is just a Brock Lesnar wannabe. His method of dealing with Goldberg: a non-title open challenge for tonight.

Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin are drawing numbers when someone runs in to say Eddie has been attacked. Medics are checking on him with Rey at his side when the Chavos come in to ask what happened. Rey chases them off.

Post break, Eddie is taken away in an ambulance.

Brock Lesnar vs. Orlando Jordan

Non-title. Brock wastes no time in firing off the shoulders in the corner to put Jordan on the floor. Back in and Jordan hits a quick dropkick from behind to put Lesnar on the floor, which isn’t the best idea in the world. Some rights and lefts just annoy Lesnar so he snaps off a powerslam. It’s off to an arm trap choke that Lesnar spent most of the match on against Holly. Jordan fights out and hits some more dropkicks but gets caught in the Brock Lock for the tap.

Rating: D-. A match that doesn’t even make it four and a half minutes doesn’t need a hold that lasts over a minute. Lesnar slumming it lately isn’t doing anyone much good, mainly the audience as these things have been not only bad, but really dull. Jordan doesn’t belong on the main roster as he’s just not any good and could be any career jobber.

Wrestlers went to Walter Reed Military Hospital.

We look at Undertaker’s gong leading to Kane being eliminated on Sunday and distracting him again on Monday.

Vince isn’t worried because Undertaker is dead and buried. Wrestling heels being cocky and stupid is one of my favorite tropes.

Angle accuses Heyman of sending the Chavos after Eddie but Heyman says Eddie has regained consciousness. Chavo Jr. isn’t taking Eddie’s place as Angle thinks so Angle’s odds go up if Eddie isn’t out there.

Royal Rumble

Kurt Angle is in at #1 and Rhyno is in at #2 with 90 second intervals. Rhyno wastes no time in hitting a Gore but instead of going for an elimination, he stomps away in the corner. An Angle Slam cuts Rhyno off and it’s Charlie Haas in at #3. He punches both guys and hits a dropkick on Angle can’t get rid of Rhyno. Angle slips back in from the apron and it’s Shelton Benjamin in at #4. Benjamin goes after Angle as well with the exploder suplex and Rhyno takes the jump over Haas’ back onto his own back.

Bradshaw is in at #5 for the Clothesline to Rhyno and a big boot to Benjamin. We take an abrupt break and come back with Tajiri in at #7 after Cat, in at #6, has already been eliminated. Of course we go through a full replay of his dancing, because IT’S JUST SO FUNNY. We come back with Billy Gunn coming in at #8 for a Fameasser on Bradshaw. Tajiri adds a Buzzsaw kick as the ring is about as full as it needs to be. Angle gets the ankle lock on Benjamin and it’s Big Show in at #9 to get everyone’s attention.

They all go after him but get shoved away with Tajiri getting chokeslammed out. Bradshaw misses a charge and goes out to thin things out a bit. John Cena, on a bad knee, is in at #10. Some clotheslines put Show on the apron but not out as we take another break. Back with Nunzio having come in at #11 and being eliminated by Cena and A-Train in at #12. Rhyno seems to have been eliminated during the break as well. Eddie, holding his head, is in at #13 as A-Train is eliminated.

Rikishi is in at #14 for a superkick to put Gunn on the apron. Show gets knocked down in the corner and takes a Stinkface with a screaming Shelton getting one as well. There’s one to Gunn as well as Hardcore Holly is in at #15, giving us a final grouping of Angle, Haas, Benjamin, Gunn, Big Show, Cena, Eddie, Rikishi and Holly. Show chokes Cena to the floor and gets rid of him so everyone gangs up on Show, with Cena pulling him from the floor for the elimination. With nothing else going on, here’s a highlight package of some of the eliminations.

Eddie backdrops Haas out and Angle tosses Benjamin. An Angle Slam and frog splash hit Rikishi, which isn’t the best idea with someone of his size in a battle royal. Angle dumps Holly like the non-main eventer that he is to get us down to four. Eddie flips Gunn out and it’s Eddie, Angle and Rikishi to go. Rikishi superkicks Angle and chokeslams Eddie but misses the Rump Shaker on Angle.

That’s enough for Angle and Eddie to get together and eliminate Rikishi so we can have a heck of a final pairing. They slug it out until Angle starts rolling the German suplexes. Eddie hangs on and lands on the apron, even managing to get in an ankle lock on Angle. You don’t do that to Angle though and it’s reversed into the same hold on Eddie. That’s reversed with a roll over the top but Eddie holds on with his feet just inches above the floor.

Back in and Eddie rolls the vertical suplexes and goes up top in a pretty dumb move. Angle runs the ropes and headbutts him, sending both guys to the ropes for a double crotching. With Eddie already staggered, Angle grabs the sleeper, which Tazz says would make this easy like Sunday morning. It switches to a chinlock, which of course energizes Eddie to bring him back to his feet. Angle gets sent to the apron for a gasp but tries a suplex to the floor. Eddie reverses that into one of his own, pulls Angle back a few steps, and throws Angle out for the win and the title shot.

Rating: A-. They did exactly what they needed to do here by setting up a new challenger in a match that didn’t drag. There were some names who didn’t need to be included in something like this and I’m glad they got rid of Holly so quickly. The experiment is over and that’s best for everyone involved. It’s hard to make a nearly forty minute match feel like less than half of that but they pulled it off here. Great match, exactly right result and nothing that felt like a dead spot.

Overall Rating: B. The main event taking up a third of the show was a good idea and while that was great, there’s only so much you can do when your first hour includes Orlando Jordan and a bad Bashams match. It’s still a very good show because that one match was really that great. The top of the card is really starting to come together and if the rest of the show can come close to it, we’re in for a great time.

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