The SmarK Rant for WWE Velocity – 06.15.02
Man, we’re halfway through this collection already.
For those in the UK, I encourage you to pick up the first two issues of Inside the Ropes, which features lots of great talent, such as myself! In particular I’m continuing the Monday Night War documentary series exclusively in the magazine, with the DX episode in the first issue and the Bret Hart episode in the second issue. I also just finished writing up the Mick Foley episode today, which will be in the third issue in November.
Taped from wherever Smackdown was taped that they’ll mention in passing halfway through the show so I can edit it in later.
Your hosts are Michael Cole & Tazz (subbing for Al Snow), and they’re controversial and emotional this week. Also so much better than Al Snow.
WWF tag team titles: Billy & Chuck v. Mark Henry & Randy Orton
Well this is quite the tag team. Apparently this Orton kid has all the tools to be a megastar for years to come according to the announcers. Eh, they’ll probably screw it up. Henry shoves Chuck out of the ring to start, but misses a corner splash while the announcers give away all the controversial and emotional happenings on Smackdown that we would normally get to watch in replay form! Don’t spoil it all, guys! Billy comes in and slugs away on this Orton kid, who comes back with dropkicks until Billy DDTs him to take over. Chuck drops elbows for two while the announcers ponder all the things that Billy Gunn has taught Chuck Palumbo while they’ve been teaming. If BILLY GUNN is your mentor you should probably just get out and go host a motorcycle show or something. Orton and Billy clothesline each other and OH YEAH the announcers remind me that this was the week where Steve Austin walked out. So that’s why it was controversial and emotional. Henry gets a hot tag and cleans house, but Chuck superkicks him and then takes the ref while Billy hits a fameasser, and Chuck gets the pin at 5:22. This was Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. **1/2
Rikishi v. Albert
Rikishi slugs away to start, but Albert stomps him down in the corner while the announcers talk about how Tough Enough is changing the industry thanks to talents like Maven and Nidia and Linda Miles taking WWE by storm. Geez, might as well go back to felating that Orton kid, he’ll have a better chance of being World champion before any of them. Albert gets a corner splash and Rikishi bails while Tazz explains the Steve Austin situation: “Listen, for all you experts out there, this Austin thing is as real as real can be. It’s not a ratings thing, but you’ll want to watch Confidential if you’re a WWE fan.” You can’t even hate on them for having those kind of balls to blatantly exploit it on the SAME WEEK it happened! Rikishi tries CHEEKS OF FIRE but misses and Albert boots him down for two, but Rikishi gets the second butt splash and finishes him off with the bonzai drop at 4:00. Feels like Rikishi was going nowhere at this point. ½*
Meanwhile on RAW, Steve Austin fails to show up in Atlanta, so Vince beats Ric Flair in a no holds barred match to win sole ownership of the WWE again. Needless to say, this had panic booking written ALL OVER IT. At least years later everyone concedes that had one person picked up the phone and called the other person they probably could have worked it out and been done with it right then.
Fabulous Moolah & Mae Young join us for absolutely no reason as Michael Cole and Tazz give them a standing ovation and talk about what a treat it is to see them. Did we just forget about the past three years when they were all over TV every week?
Meanwhile, on Smackdown, Nidia reveals herself as Hurricane’s stalker, and Jamie Noble debuts as her boyfriend and beats Hurricane down. At which point Nidia suddenly veers into left field, character-wise, and becomes southern trailer trash. We actually watched her week to week on Tough Enough and already knew her whole backstory, why was she suddenly trailer trash dating a MAGA idiot? Like, what a bizarre payoff for the superhero-themed storyline that was.
Jamie Noble v. Funaki
Noble beats Funaki down and stops to make out with Nidia, but Funaki rolls him up for two. So Noble clotheslines him down again and stomps away in the corner, and they slug it out before Noble puts him down with a knee to the gut and chokes him out. “Aggression turns this chick on!” notes Cole. Someone should introduce her to Matt Riddle then. Noble charges and hits boot in the corner and Funaki comes back with a dropkick and bulldog for two. He tries an enzuigiri, but Noble takes him down with a dragon screw and then finishes him off with a reverse figure-four, which is called The Trailer Hitch, at 4:30. Another perfectly cromulent match. If Funaki was around today they’d stick him on NXT and he’d probably get over huge. **1/2
Meanwhile on Smackdown, we get another exciting CONTRACT SIGNING, this time between HHH and Undertaker, and of course it goes horribly wrong as Taker tries to attack him and HHH uses his trusty sledgehammer to smash up ringside tables and monitors, until Vince comes out and makes a main event of Undertaker & Kurt Angle v. HHH & Hulk Hogan. And then HHH smashes the camera up anyway. But then the heels take out Hogan backstage and HHH is left with only his sledgehammer as a partner, and even in a 2-on-1 handicap match they still have to book a DQ finish so HHH doesn’t have to job. And then of course Hogan comes back after the match and the babyfaces humiliate and destroy Kurt to get their heat back, as HHH gets to be the guy to rip off Angle’s wig first.
Kurt Angle v. Hardcore Holly
So there actually is a bit of a backstory for this, as Angle accidentally broke Holly’s arm with a moonsault a couple of years prior to this. So the announcers go over the King of the Ring tournament thus far, and Cole is like “For the first time since the brand extension you’ll see RAW and Smackdown superstars against each other!” The brand extension was, what, a MONTH before this? And they wondered why no one ever seriously bought into it? Holly attacks and beats Angle to the floor to start, but Kurt catches him with a belly to belly and follows with another suplex for two. Angle with another pair of overhead belly to bellies, but Holly drops him with a DDT. Holly makes the comeback with a backdrop and gets clotheslines out of the corner, and follows with a dropkick for two as he shows real babyface fire for once. Holly with a powerbomb for two, but Angle rakes the eyes and gets the rolling germans, which Holly reverses to a rollup for two. Angle takes him down with the anklelock, but Holly fights out of that and gets his own belly to belly for two. He tries the Alabama Slam, but Angle grabs the ropes and rolls him up for the pin at 6:13. They had a hell of a C-show main event here, actually. ***
Can’t complain about the wrestling, but everyone else in between was cringe-worthy, so as usual just watch the in-ring stuff and fast-forward though the rest.