The SmarK Rant for WWE Velocity – 01.18.03
Well there’s only three episodes left on the Network so we might as well plow through them. The series jumps ahead another six months to 2003, although the reason why they picked THIS episode should be incredibly obvious once we get there.
Taped from Smackdown’s place of residence that week. Turns out it was East Rutherford, NJ, taped on 01/12/03.
Your hosts are Josh Matthews & Ernest “The Cat” Miller. Oh that’s quite the announce team.
Jamie Noble v. Bryan Danielson
Well I won’t keep you in suspense, as yes, this is the TV debut of one Daniel Bryan, seven years before his initial run on NXT. He’s so, so very young here. And apparently he’s nicknamed the “American Dragon” and is a trainee of Shawn Michaels. Danielson takes him to the mat and controls there for a bit, but Noble reverses to an armbar while the crowd disrespects our future planetary savior by chanting “Tighty Whities” at him. Noble turns a test of strength into a northern lights suplex for two, but Danielson takes him down and gets a kick to the back for two. He pounds Noble with kicks, but gets taken down with a drop toehold into the ropes and Noble beats on him. Noble throws a damn backdrop driver for two and chokes Bryan on the ropes, and Nidia adds a shot from the floor as well. Noble wraps him up in a straitjacket hold, but Danielson gets a sunset flip for two and they do a series of reversals until Noble puts him down with a knee to the gut for two. Bryan fights back with a pretty stiff running elbow in the corner, but walks into a snap powerslam for two. Bryan moonsaults out of the corner to evade Noble and hits a rolling elbow into a german suplex for two. High kick misses and Noble tries a powerbomb, but Danielson backdrops out of it, and then Noble recovers with a neckbreaker to finish at 7:00. This was quite the match! This Danielson kid might have a future. ***1/2
Meanwhile, RAW’s 10th anniversary sees them up their own asses celebrating themselves for the first time of many, many, many. That show was BRUTAL, as none of their “surprises” bothered to show.
Meanwhile on Smackdown, it’s the honeymoon of Al Wilson and Dawn Marie, as he has a heart attack and dies on his wedding night. You know, compared to what the business brought us years later, this stuff came off like Shakespeare in comparison. Dawn Marie mourning the body of her dead husband in an incredibly slutty dress while the tinkly sad piano music plays is really funny even though it’s played totally serious. And then Torrie Wilson crashes the showing, so Dawn accuses her of killing her own father through lack of love and then hauls off and slaps her while the crowd gasps, and poor Al’s coffin gets the worst of the brawl. And of course Dawn smashes a lamp on Torrie while she’s in tears over her dead father to get the last word. I take back any bad stuff I ever said about this nonsense.
Meanwhile, the finale of Tough Enough is coming up, and this John Hennigan kid can do standing shooting star presses! Of course aside from the two winners, no one else from the show amounted to anything. But Hennigan pretty much made enough of a career for everyone. This looks like the most boring season possible and I’m not surprised they completely overhauled the concept for the fourth season.
Chuck Palumbo v. Xavier
Aw, he just died a few weeks ago. They must have been in the northeast if they’re using ROH guys on this show. Chuck beats on him in the corner, but Xavier fires back and gets some offense before Chuck cuts him off and tosses him. Back in, Palumbo hits him with a buckle bomb, which gets two, and he goes to a surfboard. He had ZERO control of that powerbomb and just flung him into the corner. Chuck hits him with a suplex and tries another powerbomb, but Xavier blocks with a rana and goes up with a flying bodypress for two. Xavier gets a neckbreaker and wastes a bunch of time going to the top, and he misses a 450 as a result. Xavier slugs away in the corner, but the ref pulls him away into position and Chuck finishes with a superkick at 4:33. This started OK but turned into a complete mess, actually. *1/2
Meanwhile, Edge lists his resume and promises to win the 2003 Royal Rumble.
Meanwhile on Smackdown, Paul Heyman introduces us to Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, who will back up Kurt Angle as Team Angle. Who had Shelton still kicking around in a high midcard position in his mid-40s 17 years later? Show of hands. And then Benoit and Edge team up against the new team and they have a pretty boss tag team match, setting up Benoit’s challenge of Kurt Angle at the Rumble. Benoit repeatedly puts Angle in the crossface while the announcers are shocked that he would have this kind of violent streak in him. Um…
Anyway, to say this episode is a tad heavy on the recaps would be an understatement.
Shannon Moore v. The Jet
So the announcers are talking about John Cena firing “B2” at this point (Bull Buchanan) and replacing him with someone named “Red Dog” as his new heavy, and I have no earthly recollection of what they’re talking about. So I looked it up and yeah, it’s the guy who became Rodney Mack later on and now it’s clicking into place again. So of course I had to go down THAT rabbit hole and sure as shit, that guy is still kicking around the business today doing bottom of the barrel indie shows. They trade wristlocks to start and Moore takes the Jet down with an armdrag. I’m assuming this guy is from Winnipeg. He gets some armdrags of his own on Moore, but Shannon hits him with a back suplex for two and goes to a chinlock. Moore chokes him out and adds a slam and an elbow for two, then goes to William Regal’s favorite hold, the CRAVAT. Jet rolls him up for two, but Moore slugs him down for two. The Jet makes a comeback and dodges a blind charge, then hits a missile dropkick for two. Moore dropkicks the knee and follows with a neckbreaker for two, but the Jet hits a Sliced Bread #2 for the surprise pin at 5:30 and his identity should be obvious from that, although he never unmasks and I’m assuming this upset win is never followed up on or even mentioned again. But yeah, it’s a young Brian Kendrick under the mask. So I decided to fall down the rabbit hole again, which I’ve done about 17 times during this episode and it’s taking forever to finish as a result, and it turns out that Kendrick was doing a gimmick where he’d work under a mask using a goofy gimmick with the name of the local sports team. So in Jersey he was the Jet, and in Arizona he was the Diamondback with an upset win over Funaki, and he even did a house show here in Saskatoon as the Rough Rider. And then a week after this, he did a TV job to Palumbo on Velocity while portraying “The River Rat”, at which point the whole deal was promptly forgotten about and he was just repackaged into Brian Kendrick on Smackdown a week later once and for all. So as usual I’ve put way more thought into trying to figure out what the hell it was about than they ever did in the first place. This was an OK match. **
Anyway, I know it probably doesn’t read that way from the 1200 or so words I wrote about a 40 minute show, but this took FOREVER to recap because I was so bored by it, despite the slightly interesting inclusion of three top ROH stars in jobber roles. Like literally it took me nearly three hours to stop-and-start review this thing tonight as the show is less than a year old and they’ve already given up putting ANYTHING of value on it. Well, two episodes left, wish me luck with those, I guess.