So as noted several times by several people, WWE Evolution was not in fact the first ever women’s PPV, as this show came around 18 years ago to hold that honor first. But in a weird twist, this was one of the rants that was lost when my original archives got wiped out by a virus in the early 2000s, and I completely forgot about it. And then, a couple of days ago, someone wrote an article about the show during the buildup to Evolution and namedropped me, which triggered a Google alert for me and I was able to find the original rant on 411 and reconstruct the Word document from that. And here you are, reposted for your pleasure! Big thanks to Steve Bryant for unearthing this hidden gem that I didn’t have in my collection until now!
The SmarK Rant for WOW Unleashed – 02.01.01
Well, Viewer’s Choice Canada actually picked this one up earlier this week, so once again my sadomasochistic side gets the better of me and I order it. Well, ya gotta go sometime.
Live from Los Angeles, CA
Your hosts are Lee Marshall & Bobby Heenan.
I’m going to skip over all the D-level skits and backyard-wrestling promos, because they don’t really add or subtract anything from the show as a whole.
Opening match: Jacqueline Hyde v. Randi Rah-Rah.
Isn’t it amazing that Randi’s mother, who I guess was named “Rah”, married someone also named “Rah”, and was so attached to her name that she kept it and added a hyphen so she could be Mrs. Rah-Rah? And isn’t it equally amazing that her daughter would then grow up to be a cheerleader? Kinda makes “TL Hopper the wrestling plumber” look subtle, doesn’t it? In place of actual characters, we have stereotyped gimmicks with gimmicked names to boot. David McLane is like Vince McMahon, except without the money, booking talent, marketing ability, on-screen charisma, and freakish body. But hey, if you need an alliterative name or a pun, he’s your man. See, Jacqueline Hyde is CRAZY, and he’s accompanied by a pair of nurses from the mental institution. The problem with all these stupid gimmicks, much like GLOW, is that once they get into the ring they all do the same stuff and the character is completely forgotten. You’ll notice that ones on top of the promotion, like Terri Gold and Danger, don’t really have a gimmick that defines the character – they just are who they are, and it’s their actions that define them as people, which is why a well-timed heel turn can make for a better heel turn than all the hackneyed racist gimmicks in the world can. That’s why McLane has always been, and always will be, a hack who is destined to repeat his mistakes in every Mickey Mouse promotion that he gets some other sucker to invest in until he dies penniless in a gutter somewhere. Anyway, Brandi has an eye-patch, as someone else apparently broke a mirror over her head recently. Must be pretty lenient medical regs in this promotion if they’ll let someone wrestle with one eye. She works on the arm early, as Lee lets us know that there is, in fact, a difference between playing in pain and playing hurt. Keep in mind that Lee Marshall was fired from WCW because he was too bad of an announcer for them. Let me repeat that: WCW, who has kept Tony Schiavone gainfully employed for the better part of the last 10 years, actually thought Lee was so hideous that they couldn’t bear to keep him on-air anymore. Continuing on, Hyde gets a pair of legdrops to take over. She goes upstairs but falls over into the Tree of Woe and gets dropkicked. A bodypress finishes for Ms. Rah-Rah about 2 minutes in. I sense we’re in for a long night. Ѕ*
Farah (the Persian princess) & Paradise (a generic tropical person) v. The Beach Patrol.
The Beach Patrol are your standard Baywatch gimmicks, but sadly they do not run to the ring. In case we didn’t get the beach gimmick, their names are “Sandy” and “Summer”. I suppose the burst of creativity required for McLane to think of “The Beach Patrol” wore him out so much that he couldn’t even come up with last names for them without making them sound like porn stars. The really sad bit about the whole thing is that McLane doesn’t even have the ironic sense required to turn the Beach Patrol into a spoof of Baywatch – instead, it’s just a direct homage to it. At least Vince Russo has the brains to know when something needs to be played for laughs. Unfortunately, it ends up being the main event of the show a lot of times. Summer gets double-teamed and suplexed for two. Sandy comes in with a bodypress for two. Just by watching these girls, you can tell that whoever trained them had a pretty limited moveset. Farah uses an odd surfboard move, but Summer saves. The ref gets bumped off the weakest-looking shot I’ve seen this side of a fixed boxing match, and then we get a double-pinfall, as another ref comes in to make a count JUST AS the first one revives to make his count. And of course, they pick different pins to count, and the result is a draw. A 2-minute match with a cheap ref bump and a stupid finish? Am I watching Nitro here or what? DUD
Jane Blond v. Tanja (Warrior Woman).
Jane would be your James Bond clone (again, notice how Dean Malenko plays that sort of character as a parody, while Jane is supposedly an actual secret agent). They manage to fuck up a LEAPFROG, and Jane goes to an armbar. Well, they didn’t repeat the spot, I’ll give ‘em that. Tanja gets a devastating enzuigiri to the ass for two. Wow, what hangtime on that one. Jane gets a dropkick and they do a parody of a Ric Flair backslide sequence. Jane misses a missile dropkick, and Tanja actually uses a Giant Swing, the hallmark of bad women’s wrestling. Well, at least there haven’t been any hair-tosses tonight. Yet. A big kick finishes for the Warrior Woman. Disturbing number of blown spots for a two-minute match. I mean, what, they couldn’t have rehearsed all those complex routines given 6 minutes or so backstage? How hard is it to practice a leapfrog? You jump in the air. Not exactly rocket science, kids. -*
Hammerin’ Heather Steele v. Nicki Law.
See, Nicki is one half of a team called “Law & Order”, and her last name just happens to be Law. Her partner’s name just happens to be Kristi Order. By no small amount of coincidence, they’re corrupt cops. This is forced by even wrestling’s paltry standards. Now, look, if you’re gonna go for the cheap irony, why not make them outright criminals who happen to be named “Law and Order”? Or go for the high-concept comedy and have one be a bad cop, and the other a good cop? And what if her partner had been named “Sanchez” or something? Would she still have pursued her law-enforcement career? Nicki gets an elbowdrop for two and pounds Steele in the corner. Double-arm suplex gets two. Heather comes back and works the arm, but gets neckbroken for the pin. Total squash, but at least all the spots hit for the duration of the two minutes or so that match lasted. 1/2* Rodney King beatdown follows.
Boom Boom & Caliente v. Jade & Lotus.
Guess which team is the spunky orientals. Lee and Bobby can’t even decide if they’re supposed to be Chinese or Japanese. I bet McLane doesn’t know, either. Oh, and their grandmother is at ringside, just to bug me. Boom Boom is doing the time-tested “Fat samoan chick” gimmick pioneered by Mountain Fiji in GLOW, much like every other gimmick tonight is a recycled version of something from GLOW with younger performers. Caliente would be Spanish Red 2000, if I’m not mistaken. The evil generic orientals sneak attack the babyfaces, as I wait with bated breath for Bobby Heenan to reference Pearl Harbour, but he’s not up to the task tonight, I guess. Boom Boom gets a bodypress for two, the move of choice tonight behind the cheap rollup and missed dropkick. Boom Boom hits an Avalanche, but a 2nd try misses. Jade gets a headscissors and Lotus comes in with a Chyna-esque god-awful handspring elbow. Boom Boom splashes her for two. Jade comes back in with a nice flying rana and Boom Boom bails. The evil orientals try some shenanigans, but the faces rally and hold them off. Boom Boom gets a banzai drop, which is reversed by Lotus into a rollup for two. Jade comes in with a reverse rollup for two, but on another try she gets powerbombed on her face. A samoan drop gets the pin. Passable match. *1/2
The Disciplinarian v. Bronco Billie.
When I saw the name I was afraid Ed Leslie had undergone a sex change in a desperate bid for work, but instead it’s a fairly hot blonde chick ripping off the Dean Douglas gimmick. Billie, sadly, just lost her ranch earlier in the evening in a dumb skit to an unknown buyer, and if you don’t know who the buyer was by the end of this match you have no place reading this review. Disciplinarian works the arm but gets bodypressed for two. Cradle suplex gets two. They do another sad pinning sequence. Billie gets a dropkick and the most ungodly awful bulldog-type whatever I’ve ever seen. At this point I’m actively fearing for the other girl’s life, so of course Billie picks her up and DOES IT AGAIN, missing the move again. Disciplinarian, apparently as disgusted with that as I was, comes back with a Pedigree, but Billie has her foot on the ropes so it’s two. She thinks she’s won, which makes no sense because the ref only counted two instead of the proper way of doing it (count three and then change your mind), so of course Billie gets a cheap rollup for the pin. If you’re gonna steal a cheap finish, at least do it right. DUD BUT WAIT! Disciplinarian, in her best Ted Dibiase mode, reveals that SHE bought the ranch! Shocking.
Slam Dunk v. Roxy Power.
Questions that keep me up at night: Is “Slam Dunk” a nickname, or did Mr. And Mrs. Dunk actually name their child “Slam” and then push her towards a basketball career in some sort of sick self-fulfilling prophecy? That question is sadly never addressed, as instead the announcers focus on trying to convice me that this chick is 6’3”. Gimme a break, I’m 6’3” and I’m taller than most MALE wrestlers. They couldn’t even give the poor girl lifts to try to sell the illusion of being taller than her opponent. Roxy has no real gimmick, which is a GOOD THING, thank you. Roxy gets a fireman’s carry, and that dreaded bodypress gets two. Please, I beg whoever is training these girls, TEACH THEM ANOTHER SPOT. Slam Dunk gets a legdrop for two. Top rope version misses. The ref gets bumped, again, and Slam Dunk’s chokeslam thus gets nothing. The whole point of using a chokeslam as a finisher is to emphasize one person’s size advantage – when both people are the same size, the move doesn’t work as a finish. Anyway, she then chokeslams the ref, and damn if he doesn’t show up both girls by taking the move like a pro. I bet he’s an indy worker doing this for extra cash. Double-DQ is called, crowd isn’t happy. Match was real bad. -*
Riot v. Wendi Wheels.
Riot (assuming the gimmick first originated for McLane by Luna Vachon in POWW years back) asks if there’s any rioters in the audience. I assume that’s a rhetorical question, with this show being in LA and all. This is a hardcore match. Riots uses a cookie sheet to start, but gets clotheslined. Out they go, and Wendi clotheslines her off the apron. She comes back in with a sunset flip for two. Riot comes back and drags her around by the hair, setting up a Sky Twister elbowdrop. Not bad at all. Outside, Wendi gets some shots for two. Back in, Riot uses a Crippler Crossface, but Wendi makes the ropes. Geez, that move is dead even in WOW. Wendi uses a pizza pan and they head to the top. Wendi gets shoved off, and Riot grabs a garbage can for a couple of shots, and finishes with a powerbomb. Riot has potential, Wendi has a nice set, and the match was decent if way too long. *1/2
Jungle Girl v. Beckie, The Farmer’s Daughter.
Beckie is of course a direct ripoff of Brandi Mae (also a Farmer’s Daughter) from POWW, and I’m pretty damn sure there was also a Farmer’s Daughter in GLOW but I’m not sure if it was the same girl who played Brandi Mae in POWW. Beckie gets a Guerrero roll to start. She dominates, but Jungle Girl comes back with a superfly splash. Beckie catapults her out. She goes for her own flying splash (the stip here is that you have to win with a splash), but Jungle Girl lifts the knees. She heads to the apron, and Beckie dropkicks her off. Jungle Girl comes back with a suplex, as the match drags on. Jungle Girl hits a superplex, then a belly-to-belly version. Nice. She then sets up a ladder outside and comes off with a flying headbutt that misses by a good six inches, but still gets the pin. Match was again decent, if again too long. *1/4 Beckie is better than her gimmick would suggest. Jungle Girl cuts a strangely coherent promo for someone who acts like a savage the rest of the time.
WOW tag title match: Caged Heat v. Harley’s Angels.
Well, you had to know a women’s prison reference would be coming one of these times. And one of them is black, what a shock. When a gimmick’s too stupid and racist for even Kevin Sullivan to okay, call David McLane. The prison chicks dominate to start, but the biker chicks get a dropkick and one of them hits a broncobuster than even Tigress would be ashamed of. Ref is bumped (you know you were just waiting for that to happen) and the prison chicks dominate but get punked out by the lesbian manager, who is apparently in the main event tonight. The prison chicks do a switcheroo with their newest member, Crush (oh, wait, wrong team…), and get the pin and the titles to end my suffering. Lee notes that they’ve LITERALLY been lusting after the belts. Cripes, someone buy them a vibrator then. DUD
WOW title match: Danger v. Terri Gold.
Terri appears to be another attempt on McLane’s part to duplicate the success he had in GLOW/POWW with the only character he ever got over for real – Tina Ferrari. Tina was, in fact, so talented that she ended up getting a real gig as an American Gladiator, and is now known as Ivory. Terri gets a quick sunset flip and a bodypress gets two. I CANNOT express fully how sick I am of every match on this damn show using that spot to start. Danger comes back with a pair of slams for two. Sideslam, but Terri “hits” a handspring elbow (again, in the same sense as Chyna “hits” that move). The ref gets bumped (I know, big surprise), and about 0.03 seconds later Riot (the disgruntled partner of Danger, a storyline that was surprisingly well-told in the pre-match video package) runs in to attempt to powerbomb Danger through a table at ringside. Well, the first try doesn’t work, so she tries it again, and this time hits the move on the far left-hand side of the table, nearly killing Danger. Oy gevalt. Back in, Terri finishes Danger with a Lionsault to win the title. -** Bad Finishes R Us.
Haircut match: Ice Cold & Poison v. Lana Starr & Patti Pizzazz.
Okay, this is easy: Lana & Patti are updated versions of GLOW’s heel team Hollywood & Vine. Lana tries to channel Jerry Lawler by claiming injury, but David McLane (playing “Mr. McLane” tonight, I guess) lets us know that unlike other promotions, WOW delivers as promised! Did I mention that Patti was punked out earlier tonight and thus will not be competing? The crushing force of irony is so much in evidence tonight it’s not funny. Ice Cold is the only one with short hair, so she’s probably doing the job. Lana holds her own, but Poison gets a…wait for it…BODYPRESS FOR TWO. Ice Cold misses a flying elbow. Poison & Lana are both laid out. Ice comes in with a Michinoku Driver and flying elbow, but the ref is distracted with Poison on the apron. The subtlety boggles the mind, but sometimes you just gotta book for the toothless hicks in the audience. She misses a whatever off the second rope, but Poison comes in and nails Lana with an inverted DDT that gives Ice two. One of Lana’s crutches gets involved, and she fights with Poison over it, but it “accidentally” whips into Ice Cold’s face, and Poison is so paralyzed with shock that she can’t walk the two feet required to break up the pin, as indeed Ice Cold jobs to Lana. AWFUL AWFUL AWFUL. Even worse, the clippers used are dull and the “barbers” do a total hatchet job on the poor girl, pulling hair out in clumps. Someone call Jimmy Valient and/or Paul Jones, STAT. -** Later backstage, Ms. Cold would be shaved bald. Poison walks off alone to emphasize the impending heel turn.
Cage match: Thug v. Selina Majors.
Thug is the manager of Harley’s Angels mentioned earlier, and is the 2001 version of GLOW’s Peggy Lee Leather. Selina brings best friend Terri Gold out as a special enforcer. The cage is WCW Thundercage style, covering the entire ringside area, and looks to be twice as high as the regular WWF one. Selina gets a Thesz Press and a baseball slide. Well, at least she didn’t use a plain bodypress. They fight on the floor, and Thug rams her into the cage, not drawing blood as I’d expect. Selina must have lost the gig. Back in the ring, I guess she finds it and starts bleeding. Thug hammers on her, and that goes on for a while. Back outside, more use of the cage. That draws some respectable blood. Crowd gets bored. The ref is bumped, twice in the same match, and finally just tries to escape out the cage. Thug pulls him back in for a nice bump on his part. He makes it out over the top, but Selina pushes him off and he does the Vince McMahon bump through the ringside table, thus showing up everyone on the entire show with one move. Forget the wrestlers, someone sign this ref up. Back in the ring, Selina goes KICK WHAM STUNNER, but of course we have no ref and Terri is busy keeping the other biker chicks out of the cage. You’d think the gigantic cage would be doing a good enough job of that, but I can’t fault her for thoroughness. Thug gives Selina a chairshot so bad that even Lance Storm would be able to watch the tape and go “Man, that’s a bad chairshot” , but it’s enough to get the pin as Terri reluctantly counts it. Selina turns on Terri after the loss. Well, it was no Hell in a Cell, but Kennel in a Cell might have competition. -***
The Bottom Line:
Well, I can honestly say that this was the best WOW PPV I’ve ever seen.
While I’m sure all the ladies involved try very hard, they are nowhere near ready to start filling a 3-hour PPV, and McLane isn’t near ready to be the guy producing it. Maybe a two-hour PPV, with 4 less matches, would be better to start. At this point WOW is basically backyard wrestling with better production values and a bunch of indy-level gimmicks. It’s hard to really trash the effort or compare to something like Heroes of Wrestling & I-Generation, because the latter two involved people who are supposed to be professionals and trained wrestlers and thus know better, but I’ll give the girls of WOW credit for ignorance on the proper way to work a match and just blame McLane for the dumbass finishes.
Thumbs way down, but I really do hope that they find someone who can actually train them so they can at least learn how to wrestle and improve to watchability.