Date: February 10, 2005
Location: Saitama Super Arena, Saitama, Japan
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
We’re over in Japan for the first time in Smackdown history and it’s tournament time. With less than two weeks to go before No Way Out, we need a #1 contender for Wrestlemania so it’s time for a tournament to get us to that point. There are two first round matches tonight and one of them actually seems interested. Let’s get to it.
Assuming the information is correct, there were about 2,000 more people here than for Monday Night Raw. Rather odd given how stacked Raw was.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kenzo Suzuki
Kenzo is booed out of the building and there’s no Hiroko. The EDDIE chants get on Kenzo’s nerves even more so he starts stomping away in the corner. Choking on the mat makes it even worse and a running knee drop gives Kenzo two. We hit the nerve hold as Cole explains the difference between Japanese and American crowds. Eddie fights up with some right hands to the head and the Three Amigos connect. The frog splash finishes Kenzo without much effort.
Rating: D+. And that’s it for Kenzo, at least on Smackdown. He’s one of those guys who never did anything more than make a few footnotes and there isn’t exactly much to remember about him. Other than the period where he wanted Torrie, there was little more to him than “Japanese villain”. You need more than that and Kenzo never got close.
Kurt Angle is ready for Rey Mysterio in the tournament tonight, even though Mark Jindrak didn’t do anything against Mysterio last week. When he wins tonight, he has a path to the finals because Undertaker didn’t win. Reigns doesn’t like Undertaker being treated like something big and special around here. He talks about his time in prison and being in jail for five calendars (Is “year” now on the no list?). After doing all that, he’s not scared of caskets or the Dead Man. Angle: “That’s the intensity that I want.” I just want an Undertaker feud that doesn’t involve someone saying they’re not scared of him.
Tag Team Titles: Mark Jindrak/Luther Reigns vs. Basham Brothers
The Bashams are defending. Doug and Jindrak start things off with the former double legging Jindrak, meaning Angle’s coaching isn’t doing all that well. Reigns gets in a cheap shot from the back and the challengers take over. Jindrak snaps off a suplex and hits the hip swivel….and there’s the gong. The lights go out and Undertaker appears for the beating and the no contest, which isn’t a DQ for no logical reason.
Rating: D. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and was just there to set up Reigns vs. Undertaker at No Way Out. That’s not the worst idea in the world and it’s not like the champs were dead to rites. It’s a nice enough TV angle, albeit one that came after a match that showed how generic these teams are.
Video on the fans loving the show being in Japan and John Cena meeting some of them.
Joy Giovanni is shooting a t-shirt gun. And that’s it.
Kenzo fires up Hiroko for the Kimono match with Torrie Wilson. He rather likes the idea of Hiroko exposing Torrie.
JBL complains to Amy Weber about the barbed wire cage match and promises to do something drastic to Big Show. He pulls out a tranquilizer gun to shoot Show, which will keep him out of the cage match. Amy takes the gun but Orlando Jordan opens the door behind her and JBL gets shot in the neck. After standing up for a second, JBL goes right back down.
Sumo champion Akebono is here again.
Cruiserweight Title: Funaki vs. Chavo Guerrero
Funaki is the home country champion and gets the biggest reaction of his career. They take their time to start and we get a friendly slap of hands. Funaki takes him to the mat and grabs a quickly broken headscissors. The fast paced covers get two each and it’s a standoff. As you might expect, the commentators ignore the match to talk about JBL being shot as Chavo gets in a cheap shot to take over. Some uppercuts have Funaki in trouble and a suplex gets two.
The chinlock and a belly to back suplex get two more on Funaki as the announcers move on to talking about beer in vending machines. It’s off to an Octopus Hold and the fans gasp a bit at seeing Chavo bust it out. That’s broken up and Funaki hits a basement dropkick, followed by a bulldog for two. The tornado DDT is broken up so Funaki’s enziguri gives him another two. Funaki goes up but gets superplexed back down and a backbreaker gets two. Chavo makes the mistake of putting him on top though and the tornado DDT retains the title.
Rating: C+. Well that was a surprise. It’s a good sign that the announcers got into the match as the action was good enough to draw them in. Funaki winning clean is something you probably wouldn’t get today so it’s nice that the company actually used to care about something like this. Nice match too.
Carlito takes credit for Theodore Long not being here when a rather woozy JBL comes in to ask how Carlito’s hair got through customs. Orlando Jordan comes in to check on JBL, who tells him to go take care of the Vanilla Ice rapper. Jordan leaves and JBL yells at an inflatable dinosaur.
Basic Instinct Wrestlemania trailer, with Stacy Keibler implying a special relationship with Trish Stratus. Chris Benoit, Christian and Chris Jericho asking about various matches, including hardcore and mixed tags, is rather amusing, though Stacy tops them by making lingerie pillow fights sound serious. Moolah and Mae Young as the big gag at the end isn’t funny, but the rest was great.
#1 Contenders Tournament Quarterfinals: John Cena vs. Orlando Jordan
Non-title. Before the match, Cena raps about beating up Orlando Jordan to send a message to JBL while making a bunch of OJ Simpson references. Jordan gets in his token offense to start so Cena hits the hiptoss and release fisherman’s suplex to get us out of the rooking wrestling level. Cena charges into a boot in the face and gets clotheslined down, allowing Jordan to start with the boxing punches. The chinlock goes on for a bit, followed by an elbow to Cena’s jaw for two. Cena comes back with the hard clotheslines, throws in a bow, and drops the ProtoBomb. There’s the Shuffle and the FU finishes Jordan in a hurry.
Rating: D. This was a world of difference with Cena’s offense having fire and snap while Jordan….well there’s just nothing good about it. He’s boring, he’s first gear the whole way, there’s nothing that makes him stand out and he’s just a warm body for Cena to beat up. That’s fine for a lackey, but watching him have a match is painful.
Post break the Cabinet can’t find JBL. Tazz: “How do you lose a 6’6 WWE Champion with a cowboy hat?” Completely valid (and unique) question.
Torrie Wilson vs. Hiroko
Kimono match, which is the same as an evening gown match. Well, with a different kind of clothing but you get the idea. Hiroko throws salt in the eyes to start but her kicks to the ribs are cut off by a clothesline. Torrie’s kimono gets pulled up so she hits a shoulder in the corner and grabs an airplane spin. Hiroko gets stripped to give Torrie the win. This is every version of the match you’ve ever seen.
Torrie strips as a bonus. As she is leaving, here’s JBL with the dinosaur. He tries to throw it in the ring but it falls backwards onto him in a funny bit. Post break JBL has it in his ring and accuses it of being a lizard on “stee-roids.” JBL: “You’re like Barry Bonds. I bet you play baseball.” As he continues to sound completely out of it (as he should), JBL talks about how it’s just a dinosaur like Big Show (JBL: “His name is Barney. He likes pizza.”). JBL stands for Just Beat A Lizard and the dinosaur falls forward.
The jacket and tie come off and JBL threatens the dinosaur for disrespecting him. He is NOT scared and wants a fight as Cole calls this embarrassing for the champ. There go JBL’s shirt and pants, revealing pink underwear. Cue Big Show, just as JBL decides the dinosaur is a dragon. JBL slugs away and hits the Clothesline, drawing out the Cabinet for the big beatdown as JBL is fine. So it was all a ruse. A chair to Show’s hand misses and Show cleans house without much trouble. That’s making it a lot more complicated than it needed to be. I guess “jump him in the back with a bunch of chairs” was too complicated?
JBL was very funny here and that’s something that people often forget about his title reign. His time as champion seems to be remembered as doing the same things over and over again with nothing ever changing. While that might be the case during most of his matches, JBL did some very good comedy in there and it was really entertaining stuff a lot of the time, like this right here.
During the break, Show talked about how much he could hurt people with no trouble and promised to do that at No Way Out. That brings him to Akebono, who knows what it’s like to be this size. If Akebono is a grand champion, he can get in the ring and prove it right now. Akebono does just that and while he isn’t as tall as Show, he’s certainly wider in girth. They shake hands and Show raises his hand. Well that was anticlimactic, which is probably the best thing right now.
No Way Out rundown, with two matches (cage, Reigns vs. Undertaker) announced for the show, which is in ten days.
Angle tells Mysterio to not get his hopes up, which Rey interprets as Angle not respecting him. The joke will be on Angle tonight.
Video on the Japanese tour, with JBL saying there is no language barrier.
#1 Contenders Tournament Quarterfinals: Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle
This is really a semifinals match as the winner gets a spot in the finals. No springboard entrance for Rey here. Mysterio gets nowhere on a wrestling attempt so it’s time to rethink the strategy. Angle grabs the arm and then a waistlock so Rey elbows his way out. Rey tries to run so Angle knees him in the ribs for the easy cut off. Back up and Rey gets smart with a headscissors but it’s too early for the 619.
That means another standoff before Angle headlocks Rey down for some control. Rey slips out again and hits a basement dropkick, setting up the ten right hands in the corner with the fans counting in English. The quick belly to belly gets Angle out of trouble though and we take a break. Back with Angle fighting out of a chinlock and sending Angle outside, meaning it’s time for a dive. Since Angle isn’t quite human, he’s right back with a German suplex and a backbreaker for two.
Some knees to the back have Rey in more trouble and Angle takes him down for some rolling near falls. Angle ties him in the Tree of Woe, which does not seem cool with the fans. A charge goes into the post though and Rey has a bit of a breather. The springboard seated senton rocks Angle but he’s right back with a hard clothesline. Rey knocks him into the ropes for the 619 but the West Coast Pop is blocked. A standing hurricanrana gives Rey two but the sitout bulldog is countered into the Angle Slam. There’s the ankle lock and Rey taps.
Rating: B. Like this was going to be anything other than good. These two have always had chemistry together and this match told a rather awesome story. Angle was aggressive throughout with Rey getting in his high risk spots where he could, only to get caught in the big moves at the end. Angle winning sets up a big match for Cena in the finals and that’s what matters in the end.
Here are the updated brackets:
Overall Rating: C. Raw was way better, but this was a fun show as well with the main event helping out quite a bit. JBL was a nice bit of humor in the middle as well and there were enough good moments throughout to make the show entertaining. No Way Out should wrap up smoothly enough (once we get a card that is) and then it’s on to Wrestlemania, where everything can finally change. This wasn’t Raw, but it was an acceptable alternative.
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