Date: March 11, 2004
Location: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
It’s the final show before Wrestlemania and we’ve got a guest star with Steve Austin in the house. Tonight should focus heavily on the Smackdown side of things but there’s a good chance that we’ll be seeing more of the interpromotional matches. That’s not the worst idea in the world as it’s not like the blue only matches are the hottest things in the world. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Austin vs. Brock Lesnar, which has turned into the real feud since Goldberg isn’t around at the moment.
Here’s John Cena for the opening match but first he has to rap about chasing the US Title like Big Show chases the ice cream truck. Show is a mark for himself and plays Blackjack alone to beat his own hand. Oh and Cena is large in a rather specific area.
John Cena vs. Rhyno
Cena drives him into the corner to start and gets two off the Throwback. Rhyno’s spinebuster slows Cena down but he shrugs off a knee to the ribs. The ProtoBomb sets up the Shuffle and FU to send Cena into Wrestlemania strong.
The locker room (save for the top stars of course) has a meeting in the locker room with Paul Heyman giving a speech. Just like last week, he’s willing to fight for Smackdown because he’s really good for this place. What’s good for Smackdown is good for the wrestlers because it puts food on the table and sends their kids to college. Steve Austin is coming tonight and doesn’t want their kids to go to college.
Austin is here to deal with Brock Lesnar (nowhere to be seen at the moment) and Smackdown can’t let that happen. Everyone better volunteer to help with this because at some point tonight, Lesnar is going to lead them in a battle to defend their turf. No one messes with their Smackdown but no one actually agrees to help. How many times do you think Heyman gave a nearly identical speech to ECW? No one can sell it like Heyman and this was really entertaining. Rather illogical and over the top, but entertaining.
Hall of Fame video.
Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble
The Chavos are on commentary with Jr. trying to figure out why he’s defending against nine guys. Tazz: “Why does the #8 contender get a shot?” That’s a completely fair question and I’d love an answer. Rey grabs him by the hand and walks the ropes for a springboard headscissors but gets caught on top. The sitout bulldog gets Rey out of trouble in a hurry and the moonsault press gets two. The 619 is loaded up but here are Akio/Sakoda/Tajiri for what should be a DQ, but let’s wait for the other cruiserweights to come in to make it a no contest.
Rating: D+. They needed some more time of course but at least we’re going to be seeing something else besides just this match. Noble was just starting to heat up as a face when they turned him heel all over again so there’s not much hope for him at the moment. Mysterio is the real challenger for the title though and really, it should have just been him vs. Chavo on Sunday.
Billy Kidman/Funaki/Ultimo Dragon/Rey Mysterio vs. Tajiri/Akio/Sakoda/Jamie Noble
Joined in progress with Dragon hitting a Japanese armdrag on Tajiri and bringing in Kidman for a good looking dropkick. Chavo Sr. doesn’t want to hear about anything other than his son, which includes Funaki working on Tajiri’s arm. Akio comes in for some more luck with a cross arm choke and a spinwheel kick to take over on Funaki. Some baseball slide dropkicks to Funaki in the Tree of Woe get two as everyone is getting a chance here.
Cole rips on the Chavos so Tazz tells him to go frost his hair in a line that was funnier than it should have been. It’s off to Noble for a hard legdrop as Cole gets on Tazz for not calling the match. Cole: “Nonetheless Sunday, the title on the line with ten men!” Noble’s chinlock doesn’t quite work but Chavo Sr.’s Spanish ramblings make it a little better.
Funaki kicks Jamie away and brings in Rey, sending commentary even further into insanity. A Code Red gives Mysterio two and everything breaks down. There’s the 619 to Noble but Sr. gets on the apron. Jr. holds Mysterio for Noble, who hits Jr. by mistake and a hurricanrana gives Mysterio the fast pin.
Rating: C. That was a lot more like it, especially with the hilarious commentary. Sr. ranting and raving about how great Jr. was and how unfair everything was to his son was tremendous and made the match a lot better. It’s also a good idea to let the cruiserweights shine before Sunday in a match whose rules haven’t actually been announced yet.
Post match, Shannon Moore and Nunzio come in to keep up with the brawling.
Heyman gives the FBI a pep talk about getting rid of Austin but he gets a message saying that Austin is in the arena. Actually he’s at the beer stand. Heyman runs off shouting for Brock.
Long recap of Heyman’s issues with Eddie Guerrero, including last week’s great closing angle with Kurt Angle destroying the helpless Eddie.
Here’s Eddie for a match but first he wants to call out Angle for what happened last week. This is Angle’s chance to get rid of him once and for all. Eddie is the only WWE Champion who tells kids to lie, cheat and steal but since there’s no Angle, he must have no testicular fortitude. Angle isn’t fooling anyone because he’s not coming out here. Eddie talks about being an addict, which is the kind of person Angle would want to take out. Once Eddie wins at Wrestlemania, he’s going to lie, cheat and steal more than ever before. What a weird face, but that smile is more than enough to make it work.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Shelton Benjamin
Non-title. Shelton hits an early suplex and sticks the landing off a monkey flip to avoid a crash. Eddie sends him outside though and takes care of Charlie Haas too, earning Haas an ejection for his efforts. Back from a break with Eddie grabbing an abdominal stretch until Shelton hiptosses his way to freedom. Shelton’s arm is banged up so he has to settle for a belly to back suplex instead of a German suplex.
Shelton whips him into the ropes….and we’re edited to Eddie coming off another rope (he was sent into the ropes on the hard camera side and was then coming off the ropes facing the set) for a faceplant. I’m assuming there was a heck of a botch in there and that wasn’t the smoothest edit in the world. Eddie gets all fired up and Shelton doesn’t know what to do as the comeback is on.
A backdrop sets up the rolling vertical suplexes but the ref gets bumped. Cue Haas to throw Shelton the title but Eddie dropkicks it back into Shelton’s face. Haas and Benjamin get a belt shot each and Eddie drops down so the referee won’t know what happened. As usual, cheating can be smart. Eddie staggers to his feet, smiles at the audience, and hits the frog splash for the pin.
Rating: C+. I remember watching Eddie’s rise to the top of the show when I was a teenager and I didn’t give it nearly the credit that it deserved. Eddie is just so, so good out there with the wrestling being perfectly smooth and the mannerisms being even better. He’s just such a treat to watch and somehow seems to be getting better every single time, if that’s possible.
Post match Angle comes out and motions that the belt is his.
Sable and Torrie Wilson were at the Playboy 50th Anniversary party. They giggle about their match at Wrestlemania.
Heyman’s correspondents have lost Austin. Orlando Jordan walks through a door and Heyman makes sure he’s going to do what’s right for Smackdown. Jordan says he will, but he respects Austin. Heyman threatens to fire him.
Big Show vs. John Walters/Arch Kincaid
Walters is a minor indy name who has worked for ROH before and was a semi-regular WWE jobber around this time. Both guys get thrown around a lot and the chokeslam Walters in about a minute.
Post match Cena comes in and takes out Show’s knee.
We look back at last week’s setup for the four way Tag Team Title match.
Heyman is very glad to run into the APA as they can do what’s right for Smackdown. They agree, without saying anything specific about what they’ll do.
Rikishi/Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Basham Brothers
Non-title. Doug sends Scotty into the corner to start so it’s a headlock to slow Doug down. A blind tag brings in Danny to kick him in the head though and the Bashams take over without much effort. We’re already in the chinlock, followed by a legdrop for two. Danny misses a charge in the corner and a slide between his legs is enough for the hot tag to Rikishi. Doug gets kicked to the floor but he switches place to save Danny from the Stinkface. He charges at Rikishi….and gets superkicked for the pin. Well that was sudden.
Rating: D. The ending was pretty odd and I’m not sure what the point is in having the champs get a clean pin over some of their challengers three days before the pay per view title match. At least they didn’t have it go on too long though as it’s not like there is anything beneath this on the Wrestlemania card.
Video on Lesnar vs. Goldberg, which has turned into a mess after what should have been a layup. Austin as guest referee really does feel like a last ditch effort to save the thing.
Austin’s truck has been moved.
Clip of Kane ranting about Undertaker on Raw and being told it all begins again Sunday.
Here’s Paul Heyman, flanked by a big chunk of the Smackdown roster. Post break Heyman brings out Brock Lesnar, who calls out Austin for a fight. This is his ring and if Austin is here for some knuckle sandwiches, he better bring a bunch. Cue Austin who backs his truck into the arena and stares down the mob. They step aside and let him pass, even as Heyman shouts GET HIM over and over. Big Show is the only one to stand in front of Austin but, after a staredown, even he lets Austin go.
The locker room leaves and Austin teases getting in but takes the ATV instead. He stops it in the aisle though and turns around, holding up the key. Cole: “That’s the key.” Tazz: “Yeah I know.” Austin wins a slugout and posts Lesnar before throwing him inside. A Stunner takes Heyman down but Lesnar is back up. The F5 and Stunner are countered and the bleeding Lesnar leaves, I believe in his final ever appearance on Smackdown. The ATV is ridden and loaded into the truck so Austin can drink beer to end the show.
Overall Rating: C. This was exactly what you would expect from the go home show, save for the ending which was pretty off, considering it was a referee beating up a wrestler. It was good to let Eddie get something back before the pay per view and the wrestling was mostly watchable. I actually thought Raw did a better job of making me want to see Wrestlemania as this show was fine with a big angle that involved what’s available from one of the biggest matches. Not bad, but it’s time for Wrestlemania.
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