The SmarK Rant for WWF Monday Night RAW – 01.31.00
The DX tank might have been the turning point in the ratings war, but this was the point of no return for WCW. And all of a sudden, everything changes up in the WWF and the show hits a stride that only the XFL could kill.
I don’t even remember if this episode was any good, but I’m pumped!
I bet Shane Douglas and Konnan were pumped as well while they watched from home. LET’S GO.
Live from Pittsburgh, PA
Your hosts are Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
WWF tag team titles: The New Age Outlaws v. Al Snow & Steve Blackman
I love the guy in the front row with a “Oh You Didn’t Know? / You Are Heels!” sign. Backstage, Snow pitches “Snow Storm” as their team name, which is actually pretty bad-ass but would have worked better once Lance Storm got there, but then he throws an umbrella and raincoat on Steve and messes it up. And then, as they make their entrance, we get the WCW Four coming to ringside, which JR declares a “Radical strategy”. Yeah, hit the branding early and often, Jim. Also of note, they say that the guys left “the Turner organization down south”. THEY DON’T WORK HERE, KING. So the crowd is of course completely ignoring this boring match while Snow trades stuff with Gunn, and Road Dogg drops the shaky knee for two. And the camera keeps cutting back to the RADICAL invaders who definitely haven’t signed a contract, King! Snow gets a snap suplex on Road Dogg for two, but Dogg goes low and Gunn gets a hot tag and hits Blackman with the jackhammer for two. So Road Dogg and Snow brawl right over by the Radicalz, and they all jump Road Dogg and beat him down at ringside as the match is thrown out at 4:14. And then everyone storms the ring and they destroy the Outlaws, with Benoit hitting the diving headbutt on Road Dogg to cap it off as the crowd goes nuts. Match was nothing but a backdrop for the angle, as the tag team champions wrestle a dead match to an uncaring crowd and get colder by the week. ½*
Meanwhile, Cactus Jack jokes with the new guys about how it must be a new thing for them to look into the audience and see paying customers.
Kurt Angle joins us to announce that he’s still undefeated, and tonight he’s facing the Rock and he’s confident that Olympic Champion trumps People’s Champion. Also, Pittsburgh has nothing going on, so he’s declaring himself the new hometown hero for the city.
Meanwhile, the Outlaws complain to HHH and Steph about the Radicalz, but HHH is like “Sounds like YOUR problem. So go beat their ass, what’s the problem?” And then Big Show bursts in with his goofy new haircut and security guy Jim Dotson as his eyewitness. “A security guy? That’s your proof?” So HHH brushes him off again and tells him bring a videotape on Smackdown. And then he makes fun of the Outlaws for having a “short problem” to deal with themselves. Way to bury them in the very first segment, Hunter. Bravo.
Christian v. D-Von Dudley
Oh man, Christian’s original solo music! So lame and generic. D-Von slugs away in the corner and runs Christian into the post rib-first. D-Von with an inverted suplex and he goes up and misses a headbutt, allowing Christian to come back with a backdrop and legsweep. Bubba takes the ref, but Edge runs in and superkicks D-Von, allowing Christian to finish with an inverted DDT at 3:22. Just a match. * And then the Dudleyz take out both guys afterwards and get the tables before hitting Christian with the Wazzup. This brings out the Hardy Boyz for the save, as Matt puts D-Von through the table and they all brawl on the floor to set up some stuff a few months later. This ends with Bubba getting put through a table with a swanton bomb from the top rope to the floor. JR notes that the Dudleyz will think twice before picking on women now! Come on, I know Christian and Edge had luxurious hair at this point, but that’s uncalled for.
Meanwhile, the Mean Street Posse introduce themselves to the Radicalz, and that goes very badly for them.
Big Show v. Too Cool
Oh man, remember THIS look for Big Show?
Too Cool wisely double-teams Show and Scotty hits the Worm, but Show treats it like a literal worm attacking him and completely destroys both guys with chokeslams for the pin at 2:13. And then Rock pops up on the screen, clarifying that Show is no longer a long-haired piece of 700 pound monkey crap…he’s a short-haired one. And Rock is tired of hearing Show bitch and moan and cry like a baby about losing at the Rumble. And go back to Supercuts and get your $5 back! Oh, that was an epic burn. Amazing that Rock can take a guy getting a haircut and get 10 minutes of quality material out of it.
Kurt Angle v. The Rock
Rock attacks to start and beats Kurt down, then hits him with a clothesline to put him on the floor. They brawl out there and that goes badly for Angle, as Rock steals a bottle of water from the announce table and sprays Angle with it. So Angle stops to cut a promo on the audience for booing him when he was born five blocks from the arena, and Rock counters with “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHERE YOU WERE BORN!” and then drops him on the railing. Back in, Rock with a suplex for two and he slugs away in the corner, but Angle goes low and hits a back suplex for two. Angle slugs away in the corner and hits a nasty overhead suplex for two. Angle chokes him out and blocks a blind charge, but Rock DDTs him for two. Rock lays the smackdown in the corner and follows with a samoan drop for two. Angle decides to leave at this point, but Tazz throws him back in and Rock continues beating ass. Spinebuster and People’s Elbow definitively end the “unbeaten” streak for good at 5:30. But then Tazz chases after Angle and accidentally hits Rock with a clothesline on the floor, which never ends up going anywhere that I can remember. Angle and Rock already had freaky good chemistry together. ***
Meanwhile, the Posse runs to the Acolytes for protection in exchange for money, and Bradshaw suddenly has an idea! So there you go, another historic first.
Chris Jericho v. X-Pac
Tori is now with X-Pac after Smackdown, which by the way had to be DRASTICALLY cut down to fit the UPN network standards after Waltman originally rambled for minutes on end about all the perverted things that he did with Tori at Christmas time. Jericho quips that X-Pac should be grateful that he finally got to “kiss a girl” and as a bonus, found “the only one stupider than he is”. Jericho storms the ring and stomps X-Pac down, then hits the springboard dropkick. Back in, X-Pac gets a leg lariat and goes to the chinlock, but Jericho gets the backbreaker for two. Dropkick misses and X-Pac hits the legdrop for two. They trade chops and X-Pac misses the bronco buster, allowing Jericho to come back with a powerslam for two. X-Pac fights back with a spinkick and goes up, but Jericho slugs him on the way down and hits the double powerbomb. Lionsault misses and X-Pac tries another bronco, but Chyna trips him up to prevent that and Jericho gets the Walls. But now Tori sneaks in and hits Jericho with a weak-ass shot with the belt, and X-Pac hits the X-Factor for the groan-inducing pin at 5:46. Match was fine. **1/4
Meanwhile, Bradshaw comes up with the “aPa” logo, but the Dudleyz storm in. “Hey, get away from the Posse, we’re protecting them!” So now the Dudleyz want protection after getting jumped, but the APA don’t work for free. So D-Von offers to write a cheque, and surprisingly they’re OK with that. But if the cheque bounces, so do the Dudleyz. Well we can see that payoff coming a mile away. This was really funny as Bradshaw immediately got the joke and knew how to sell it. This gimmick change pretty much came out of the blocks fully formed and ready to go.
WWF Women’s title: The Kat v. “Hervina”
So yeah, this is a lumberjack match where they’re wrestling in a pit of “snow”. This might be pretty near the low point of the title, for those keeping track. There’s no storyline build for the mystery challenger, who quickly wins when Jackie hits Kat and Hervina gets the pin at 1:30. So Michael Cole interviews “her” and we quickly learn it’s actually Harvey Wippleman in half-assed drag. Real thing that happened, folks.
Meanwhile, Jack presents the Radicalz to HHH, noting that, like everyone else, he’s sick of seeing the Mean Street Posse on TV and is offering up Chris Benoit instead. HHH says he’ll think about it.
Viscera v. Hardcore & Crash Holly
So this dumb storyline continues after Crash turned on his new partner Viscera on Smackdown. Vis dumps Hardcore and hits Crash with a suplex, but Hardcore gets a blind tag and ties Vis in the ropes with a dropkick. Bob chokes away on the ropes and the crowd is DEAD while this drags on and on. Crash comes in and tries to choke Viscera some more, but can’t get his arms around his neck. So Viscera hits Hardcore with a samoan drop for two, but Crash saves while the crowd chants unrelated things probably related to sports. Vis tries a slam on Crash, but Hardcore dropkicks him over and Crash gets the pin at 5:10. Yeah this one dragged this show to screeching halt of awful. -** This actually killed the ratings for that quarter, too.
Speaking of awful, we get a look at the WWF Super Bowl commercial REJECTED by ABC, which is basically a bunch of seniors in a care home being horny and yelling for “puppies” because they love the WWF so much. For as hip and with it as the promotion was at this point, those commercials looked really low-rent and juvenile, like they were produced in 1995 for a “New Generation” ad campaign or something. Also, a bunch of seniors in a home basically makes up RAW’s primary viewing demographic at this point.
Meanwhile, Jim Ross sits down with Steve Austin in the interview from Halftime Heat the night before, as he’s still in a neck brace and obviously in tremendous pain.
Meanwhile, Lillian Garcia is at WWF New York, and she has HOT NEWZ about a press conference there on Thursday. We don’t know what it is, but it involves PRO FOOTBALL.
Bubba Dudley v. Matt Hardy
So as promised, the newly formed Acolyte Protection Agency come out to watch the Dudleyz’ backs. Matt attacks in the corner, but Bubba throws him out of the ring as the crowd continues to be really dead. Bubba suplexes him back in and follows with a corner splash, but Matt gets a tornado DDT for two. Bubba calls for a chair, but D-Von accidentally throws it to Matt and that’s a DQ at 2:58. *1/2 So then the APA come in and destroy the Hardyz, so I guess the cheque cleared after all. And Edge & Christian try a run-in, but the APA lays THEM out as well and help the Dudleyz set up three tables on the floor in a pyramid. So I guess if you’re doing one of those alignment chart things, the APA would be “Chaotic Neutral”. So then we get the wackiest shit ever, as they put Matt on the top table and then Bubba powerbombs Jeff onto Matt and they both go through the three tables together. That was so goofy that you can’t really take it seriously as a dangerous spot, like something out of a Young Bucks video.
Meanwhile, HHH and Stephanie have decided that the Radicalz just don’t have what it takes to make it in the WWF yet, so get to steppin. Which they do.
WWF title: HHH v. Kane
Doesn’t actually happen, as Kane never shows up and instead Cactus Jack comes out and cuts a promo before running in and beating Hunter down. HHH bails and they brawl on the floor while Steph does ear-splitting commentary, but HHH decides to run away from the fight. So then the Radicalz storm the ring and they all destroy HHH to end the show. And so, after WCW manages to hit new levels of ineptitude even by their own low standards, the WWF now has a top level midcard to go along with the Rock and HHH on top.
Of course, in retrospect, the problem was that although they came in hot, there wasn’t really a spot for them as tippy-top guys leading into Wrestlemania season, so things cooled off in a hurry. Much like this show, which went down the drain after the first hour. But with the Radicalz debut, the launch of the APA, and Rock having a hot match with Kurt Angle, it’s an easy thumbs up this week.