Smackdown – March 25, 2004

Smackdown
Date: March 25, 2004
Location: Van Andel Arena, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Attendance: 4,000
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

We’re past the Draft Lottery and the big move saw HHH come over to the blue brand. That opens up several doors and after the end of Raw, there’s a good chance that we’ll be seeing him challenge Eddie Guerrero for the SmackDown World Title again soon. Other than that, the big name would be Rob Van Dam, who could help move some people forward. Let’s get to it.

We get a long recap of the Draft picks, with a long look at HHH and Paul Heyman. With Heyman quitting, there is no Smackdown General Manager. I think we have a plot point.

Opening sequence, featuring a lot of Eddie Guerrero.

Here’s HHH….’s music but instead we get Kurt Angle in a suit. He gets straight to the point: Heyman ha quit so we need a new General Manager. Tazz: “It’s gotta be Stephanie McMahon. It’s gotta be.” And it’s Angle, because Tazz isn’t that bright. Angle is putting his wrestling career on hold so he can be in charge. He won’t back down from anyone, including HHH.

Earlier today, HHH demanded a rematch with Eddie Guerrero but got turned down, partially because he’s been traded back to Raw for the Dudley Boyz and Booker T. (along with Miss Jackie and Rico, with A-Train and Chuck Palumbo also going to Raw, though none of those are announced here). Booker comes out to say he’s not happy to be here. He liked wrestling on Raw because the fans over there appreciated him.

Smackdown is the minor leagues and Booker is better than everyone in the back. He’s better than Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, Big Show and John Cena. Angle doesn’t like the idea of this being the minor leagues, but Booker is right about how big of a star he is. He wants the people to cheer Booker…and that’s it. Given that promo, Booker should be up near the main event around here in a hurry.

Video on the European tour, including John Cena in a kilt.

Rob Van Dam vs. Charlie Haas

After we hit the pose, Van Dam sends him into the ropes but gets carried like a fireman. Some spinning kicks have Haas in trouble and some armdrags set up an armbar. Van Dam tries to go up top but gets shoves off and into the barricade, which tends to happen to him quite often. Back in and Charlie ties the leg up in the rope for some stomping and it’s off to a half crab.

Since Rob is Rob, he uses the free leg to kick his way out of trouble. Another kick to the face has Charlie in trouble and Rolling Thunder gets two. Haas’ rollup in the corner gets the same, though the feet on the ropes help a bit. Charlie unhooks the turnbuckle pad but gets small packaged for the fast pin.

Rating: D. That was certainly a match. Van Dam isn’t exactly the best in the world in this situation and even someone talented like Haas can’t get much out of him. Van Dam needs to either be a big underdog or on a team as he’s not exactly going to get much otherwise. Pretty bad match here but Van Dam is going to be a big star no matter what.

Clip of Rene Dupree being drafted to Smackdown.

Clip of the big brawl that ended this week’s Raw with Steve Austin getting involved.

Billy Kidman vs. Rene Dupree

Rene has Fifi the poodle with him. Kidman can’t get a hiptoss to start but he can get a hurricanrana to bring on the early frustration. Back in and one heck of a whip into the corner allows Dupree to pose and the French Tickler elbow gets two. We hit the bearhug, which isn’t something you would expect from Dupree.

That’s broken up in a hurry and Kidman makes the comeback, including a middle rope elbow. Kidman does his own French Tickler and hits a dropkick but gets crotched while going for the shooting star. An over the shoulder sitout powerslam (which had no snap or force to it and Cole called it a powerbomb) gives Dupree the pin.

Rating: D+. Dupree has charisma and works better as a singles guy than in La Resistance but there’s only so much you’re going to get out of a three and a half minute match with a pretty weak looking finisher. Kidman is very good for a role like this though and is a big reason why he stayed around so long.

Post match here’s John Cena to say Tazz is a thug and Cole is gay. He wants to make sure that Dupree is prepared bro: don’t leave your wallet anywhere near Guerrero. More gay jokes aren’t funny and that’s that. Cena has found his swagger since winning the title and it’s sending him through the roof.

Video on Undertaker beating up Paul Heyman last week.

Teddy Long tries to recruit Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi and gives them a card. Josh Matthews looks interested but they’re “playas only cracka”.

Eddie comes in to welcome Rob Van Dam and Spike Dudley to the show but Booker doesn’t have time for this nonsense. He talks down about Smackdown and that’s not cool with Eddie, who won’t stand for someone disrespecting the show. Booker: “Consider yourself insulted.” The fight is quickly broken up and I think we have a main event.

Dudley Boyz vs. Basham Brothers

It’s a fight to start until we settle down to Bubba chopping Danny into the corner. D-Von comes in for some right hands but it’s off to Doug as the punching match continues. A neckbreaker from Bubba mixes things up a bit but it’s right back to the crossface shots. The double flapjack gets no cover and it’s time for some Twin Magic so Danny can come back in and take over. The abdominal stretch goes on for a little while but D-Von powers out and brings Bubba back in. That means more hard shots to the face and a sidewalk slam gets two on Doug. The Flip Flop and Fly into What’s Up sets up the 3D for the pin.

Rating: D+. This was every Dudley Boyz match I’ve seen in years and your mileage may vary on that. There’s no way around the fact that they haven’t changed things up in a long time and that was the case here all over again. They can be a nice addition to the division but they’re not going to be anything special.

Booker comes in to ask what Angle is going to do about Eddie so Angle goes into an explanation of how worn out Eddie is. Therefore, Booker gets a title shot tonight. Why is that not at the next pay per view?

Cruiserweight Title: Chavo Guerrero vs. Spike Dudley

Chavo is defending and the Dudleys are still at ringside. They trade hammerlocks to start and a frustrated Chavo hides in the ropes. The Dudley Dog is broken up with a nasty bump out to the floor but Bubba and D-Von scare Chavo Sr. away. Back in and Chavo puts on a seated abdominal stretch for all of a few seconds. Spike gets free and small packages him for two, followed by the top rope double stomp for the same. The Gory Bomb is reversed into a sunset flip for two more but Spike misses a missile dropkick. Now the Gory Bomb can retain the title.

Rating: C-. Spike was trying here and this was a much better fit for him. You can only have him do the ultra underdog role for so long and putting him against someone like Chavo, who isn’t that much bigger than Spike, worked well. Not much time to do anything, but Chavo needs some fresh challengers.

We look back at the APA splitting last week and Bradshaw talking about being a big time financial analyst.

Here’s Bradshaw in a suit with the white cowboy hat, now under the name John Bradshaw Layfield. Bradshaw says he was horribly misunderstood last week because he and Faarooq have been up and down more roads than almost anyone. He can’t be held responsible for what Ron Simmons did for him though, because Bradshaw has all kinds of things going on. We hear about his portfolio, his book, his upcoming radio show and appearances on FOX News. He can’t give all that up and no one would give up all he has.

There is no right or wrong in society but rather everyone is out to get something for themselves. People like him run industries and governments and he’s never sold anything but stock. He’s succeeded in everything but wrestling, because he thought a friendship was better than success. The impact is coming and business is about to pick up.

And so it begins. This seems like the kind of gimmick that would be a lame midcarder but since WWE has a tendency to go insane with some of its pushes, we could be in for a very long and rough road from here. At the end of the day, Bradshaw hasn’t been more than a Stan Hansen ripoff and now he’s some mixture of Money Inc. That doesn’t exactly instill me with confidence.

Bob Holly speaks for some of the locker room, telling Booker that no one wants him here. After Eddie gets done with him, the Smackdown locker room is waiting for him. Given that names such as Holly, Billy Gunn and Funaki are here, I get why Booker isn’t feeling threatened.

Smackdown World Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Booker T.

Eddie is defending. Feeling out process to start with Eddie taking him down but getting punched in the corner. A snapmare sets up a very early chinlock on Booker until he jawbreaks his way to freedom. Booker gets his own chinlock and has it broken up just as fast. The slingshot hilo gives Eddie two and it’s off to the third chinlock in….well way too little time to have three chinlocks.

Back up and Eddie gets in a very snappy dropkick but walks into a hot shot. We come back from a break with Eddie in another chinlock (two apiece now) before Booker gets creative with a sleeper. A cover gets two and we hit the sleeper again. This time Eddie gets out a little faster and hits a flapjack for a breather. It’s way too early for the frog splash though and Booker hits a superplex for a delayed two.

A side slam stays on Eddie’s back and IT’S ANOTHER CHINLOCK. He’s been working on the back and he can’t do a half crab? Booker chokes on the rope but only manages to fire Eddie up for some right hands. Another backbreaker is countered into a headscissors but the Book End gives Booker two. The side kick gets the same and Booker can’t believe these kickouts. Eddie ducks the ax kick though and the Three Amigos connect. The frog splash looks to finish but we’re edited to Bradshaw coming in for the DQ.

Rating: C+. Once they got past the crazy amount of chinlocks, they settled down and had a pretty good match. The ending isn’t exactly a brilliant idea though as Booker would have been perfectly fine as a one or two off pay per view challenger for the title while Bradshaw established himself a bit more. Instead though, we seem to be sailing straight into the new character getting a mega push right off the bat. We’re so lucky.

Bradshaw Clotheslines Eddie down to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. Not great wrestling and a pretty horrible new villain to wrap up the show doesn’t exactly instill me with confidence. This was all about a big welcome to all of the new stars and….yeah they’re people who have been around for a long time now and are now just on a blue show instead of the red one. It’s not their worst effort, but it’s another restart without much fire behind the new cast.

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