The SmarK Rant for WWE Velocity – 05.25.02
Yes, it’s the WWE Network, where their motto is “We’ll just add whatever random stuff no one asked for, and do it in drops of 10 episodes at a time but leave large gaps in between the episodes and then wonder why no one cares about the classic content”.
Granted it’s not a very catchy motto but it sure is descriptive!
Anyway, this would be the B-Show to the B-Show (Smackdown) in 2002, but at least they’re only an hour long so I can add it to the rotation for 10 weeks and get some content out of it. And hey, I absolutely was not watching this show in 2002, so it’s all new to me.
I think this is the first one? It was replacing one (or both) of Jakked and Metal, the syndicated shows around the same time, and aired on TNN. The idea was to showcase cruiserweights and present a real show at first, but it quickly because the usual dumping ground for indie guys doing tryouts and recaps of the main shows before getting killed off and replaced by ECW.
Taped from wherever Smackdown was that week.
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Al Snow
Kidman v. Tajiri
I was always glad that Kidman’s music survived the move from WCW. They work the mat to start and Tajiri goes for a horse collar submission, but Kidman reverses out to a hammerlock. Apparently the cruiserweight champion was Hurricane at this point, and he’s dealing with a stalker, who I think turned out to be Nidia before that went into a completely different batshit direction. They exchange slams and Tajiri drops a knee on him, but stops to showboat on the ropes and Kidman hits him with an armdrag and rana that puts Tajiri on the floor. But then Tajiri runs him into the post and we take a break as VELOCITY ROLLS ON. Back with Tajiri working the arm, but Kidman is BUILDING MOMENTUM. So Tajiri kicks the arm a few times and takes him down for a wacky surfboard on the mat, but Kidman escapes. Kidman comes back with a bodypress but Tajiri bridges out and transitions right to a dropkick TO THE FACE for two. Oh that was sweet. Tajiri slaps him around and chokes him out in the corner, but he misses a charge and Kidman tries a backslide, so Tajiri takes him down with an armbar and cranks on that. Meanwhile the announcers are ignoring the match and prattling on about Torrie Wilson and other storyline bullshit that no one could possibly care about. JUST CALL THE DAMN MATCH FOR A WHILE. I like Al Snow but this kind of forced banter is not exactly his strong suit. Tajiri goes up and misses a moonsault, allowing Kidman to make the comeback one-handed. Rebound clothesline gets two. Tajiri spikes him with a DDT for two, however. Tajiri tries for a german suplex, but Kidman reverses out and powerbombs him for two. And then Tajiri just turns around and buries him with a kick to the head for two. NASTY. More vicious kicks to the arm, but he tries the handspring elbow and Kidman dropkicks him in the back to counter. Tajiri kicks the arm again and hooks him in the Tarantula, but Torrie Wilson comes down to ringside and Kidman rolls him up for two. Tajiri gets distracted AGAIN and Kidman pins him this time at 13:18. Yes, they kicked off the show with a **** match completely ruined by a bullshit distraction finish. ***1/2 Regardless, this was great and totally worth watching until the stupid ending that had nothing to do with the rest of the match.
Meanwhile on Smackdown, Kurt Angle is now BALD! Can you even imagine? But, he reveals that he regrew his hair with supplements and now it’s back and thicker than ever. He does get a great line with “I know you were looking forward to seeing a bald loser crying in the ring tonight, but there’s always Hulk Hogan.” This brings out TOUGH ENOUGH SEASON ONE WINNER MAVEN, complete with Tough Enough theme song for his entrance music just in case you didn’t realize he was the winner of Tough Enough season one from the context provided by the announcers mentioning it constantly, and he wants Angle to embrace the bald. Angle: “Excuse me? Do I know you? Do you work here?” So Angle “pulls his punk card”, which is apparently something people were saying in 2002, and invites him to come down and prove he’s wearing a wig. So Maven uses his Tough Enough season one winning dropkick on Angle, but Angle suplexes him and leaves. But then Edge attacks him and goes for the wig, until Christian makes the save.
And then later on Smackdown, it’s Edge & Maven v. Angle & Christian. I’m less bothered by the lengthy recaps now than I would have been at the time because I barely remember any of this shit anyway. Anyway, Edge gets a hot tag and runs wild with an Edge-O-Matic on Christian for two and everyone slugs it out until Edge spears Christian. Christian recovers and tries the Unprettier on Maven, but he gets a fluke rollup for the pin. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Maven won season one of Tough Enough.
Hardcore Holly v. The Big Valbowski
Yeah, so this was during the weird period when Val Venis was actually being billed as The Big Valbowski with no mention of his previous gimmick name, before eventually switching to the Chief Morley stuff by the end of the year. I mean, the people behind that change were aware that “The Big Valbowski” was his nickname for his penis, right? It was never supposed to be himself. Val gets a double arm suplex for two while the announcers have to seriously call him “The Big Valbowski” in a completely unironic manner. Val slugs away on the mat and Holly comes back with a belly to belly suplex for two. I just can’t even deal with his Valbowski shit, it was so stupid. And Cole keeps saying it over and over because Vince hates pronouns so much, so we have to hear “The Big Valbowski” about 50 times during this match. For a while in my life I honestly thought that Val being “The Big Valbowski” was like some kind of Mandela Effect deal where I remembered it but it never happened, but no. It’s very real and very happening right here on this show. Val gets a powerslam for two. Holly slugs away again but Val hits him with a shoulderblock and hits the Seaman’s Suplex for two. Blue Thunder bomb gets two. Holly rolls him up for two, but Val gets the spinebuster and goes up, but misses the Money Shot. Holly hits him with the dropkick for the pin at 4:21. Of note here: Michael Cole clarifies that the reason behind this show is for superstars on the Smackdown brand to show what they’re made of. Good to know. This was certainly a match that happened and if you need to see someone pinning someone else with a dropkick in a setting that’s not the 1989 Survivor Series, this is your show. **
Meanwhile on Smackdown, Hulk Hogan has lost the WWE title to Undertaker, and oh man, he’s ready to hang it up. Say it ain’t so, Hulk! You’ve still got so many racist sex tapes to make and ugly divorces to go through! But before he leaves the arena for the very last time, he wants to make sure that Hulkamania will live forever. Well his entrance music certainly didn’t because that shit was PURGED. But just as Hogan is saying goodbye, Mr. McMahon interrupts, astonished that Hulk would be wasting time making his announcement “in the rectum of Mississippi, Tupelo”. But Vince isn’t going to let him retire, because unlike 10 years ago when Hulk walked out on him, he’s got a signed contract and lawsuits will result. So he’s gonna milk Hulkamania for every cent he can until Hogan is dead. Only until he’s dead? Man Vince is getting soft in his old age. So Hulk attacks Vince, but then Undertaker, who is in his Big Evil / Booger Red phase at this point, attacks to continue that feud that no one asked for. And then the monkeys in the music purge department actually miss out on removing Voodoo Chili from the replay! Oh man, I’m listening to Jimi Hendrix and NOT PAYING ROYALTIES TO THE ESTATE!
WWE Women’s title, bra and panties match: Trish Stratus v. Stacy Keibler
Oh yeah they’ll purge Hendrix but we get to retain fucking Kid Rock covering “Legs”, thanks a lot WWE legal department. So Stacy attacks from behind and slams Trish on the belt before doing the Nash choke in the corner, but tries to take Trish’s shirt off and gets kicked. Trish tries the bulldog and gets hung up in the corner, allowing Stacy to pull the shirt off. Stacy also loses her shirt, but then tries to remove Trish’s pants and Trish reverses and pulls off Stacy’s pants for the win at 2:00. Wow what a main event and stellar representation of the high quality of the WWE Women’s division at the time. -**
This was certainly a mixed bag that managed to get worse as it went along. I mean, it was fine, it was something to watch, but I was immediately annoyed that the opener was completely ruined by that nothing finish and then 60% of the show was recapping stuff on Smackdown that no one remembers anymore. It’s like…what’s the point? It’s not like the Network has any kind of useful Netflix-style feature where you’d watch this and then it suggests the next episode of Smackdown to follow from it or Tough Enough (is that even on there? I forget.) or whatever they were hyping at the time. If they’re not adding the whole run and also not adding them in any particular order, why are they even putting these on there in the first place? They have literally decades’ worth of other content and I don’t get it.
Anyway, there’s only 10 episodes and god knows it’ll take them another two years to add any more anyway, so I’ll keep going with the reviews and then move on with my life.