The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the F---?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for Royal Rumble 2004 – Live from Philly. – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole & Tazz in various combinations.Opening match, RAW tag titles: Batista & Ric Flair v. The Dudley Boyz. Batista goes for the cheap heat by insulting the Eagles in his pre-match promo, but even Philly has probably turned on them by this point, so it’s for naught. (2012:  I know nothing about football, so I’m assuming that the Eagles choking was a big story at the time because otherwise I’d have no idea.)  Big brawl outside to start, and Batista hits the post as a result, allowing Bubba to bring a table in already. D-Von powerslams Flair and the Dudz set up the table, but Batista moves it out of the way. Dudz double-team him with a neckbreaker and D-Von dumps him with a clothesline, but Flair goes after Bubba with chops. Bubba rams him into the table and does his Flipping, Flopping and Flying, but Batista comes back in and people start tripping all over each other. Funny how that always seems to happen with his matches. It’s a thrilling slugfest and they mistime more stuff, but Batista charges into the post and gets double-suplexed by the Dudleyz. Flair is left alone with them and manages to head up to the top, but shockingly gets slammed off. The Dudleyz set up the table yet again, but now Coach runs in and gets beat up by Bubba. They stupidly go for the Wazzup on him, but Batista slams D-Von through the table for the win at 4:22. This wasn’t even a match, it was just a bunch of stuff that only ran 5 minutes. Horrendous opener. DUD  (2012 Scott sez:  Batista actually is a case of HUGE returns for very little invested.  They stuck him with Flair in a tag team for a few months for something to do with him, and Flair turned him from a big slug into a really good worker almost like magic.  It’s almost as though this was something that used to happen in wrestling all the time and worked or something!) – Meanwhile, John Cena’s flow is interrupted by RVD. In a nod to marketing genius, Cena now has plastic “Word/Life” knuckle coverings. Now why didn’t Snoop Dogg think of that?  (2012 Scott sez:  I think the spinner belt ended up as the true piece of marketing genius with Cena. )  Cruiserweight title: Rey Mysterio v. Jamie Noble. Noble dumps him to start, but gets put in 619 position, only to escape and faceplant Rey. He stomps away on the ribs and kicks him down, then dumps him on the top rope for two. Another kick gets two. Rey gets a schoolboy for two, but Noble clotheslines him down again. That gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rey fights back with a rana. Rube Goldberg Bulldog gets two. Springboard bodyblock lands on Noble’s knee, allowing him to try the Tiger Driver, but he escapes and Nidia accidentally trips up Noble, and it’s wine dine 619 and drop the dime for the pin at 3:12. (2012 Scott sez:  Wine dine…what the F---?) This would have been ridiculously short even for TV, on PPV it’s an insult to the paying customer. ½* Finish was totally out of nowhere, too. – Eddie Guerrero v. Chavo Guerrero. Funny how even with Chavo Sr. in his corner, Chavo Jr. still isn’t allowed to be called “Junior”. (2012 Scott sez:  Same deal with Ted Dibiase now.  Vince just really hates “Junior” for whatever reason.  Probably projecting some daddy issues.)  Cole notes that Chavo should get the “Chavo sucks” chant, “if you know what I mean”. I think you were pretty clear there, Michael. They fight over a lockup to start and Chavo gets the first slap, so Eddie brings him into the corner, but doesn’t do anything there. He takes Chavo down into a chinlock, but Chavo escapes and chops him. Back to the lockup, and Eddie gets his own chop. They fight over a headlock now and Chavo overpowers him, but Eddie brings the chops and it’s on. Sadly, it immediately slows down again and they go back to the middle again, as Eddie takes him down and works on the arm. Chavo escapes with a rana that puts them both on the floor, allowing Chavo Sr. to get his licks in. Chavo hammers him outside and chokes away in the ring, but Eddie gets out of it. Chavo takes him down again, but gets caught in a cross-armbreaker in a move that would end any MMA match, but here it’s just a resthold. Chavo escapes with a backdrop suplex for two. He gets the rolling verticals, but Eddie reverses out of them. Chavo goes for the tornado DDT instead, but Eddie gets his own rolling verticals and finishes with the frog splash at 8:03. And after those months of build, that’s it for Chavo, pretty much. Eddie mauls him afterwards to really end the feud decisively. This was like the first few minutes of a really good 20 minute match. It was only 8, however. **  (2012 Scott sez:  I think we can all agree that Chavo ended up doing OK for himself as Kerwin White and then feuding with Hornswoggle for a year.) Smackdown World title: Brock Lesnar v. Hardcore Holly. Speaking of months of build with no payoff, we have this. They brawl outside to start and Holly sends him into the post, but whiffs on a flying elbow in the ring. Brock stomps away and gets a snap suplex, and they brawl outside again. Back in, Brock gets two. And now Brock gets a bearhug on the mat with about 8 inches of air between his arms and Bob’s body. And they lay there for a while. Brock keeps pounding on the back and gets the high fisherman’s buster for two. Back to the bearhug, as Brock is again barely making contact. He fires off the overhead suplex out of that, and back to the bearhug again. Holly fights out and makes the comeback (we’re at 5:00 at this point, by the way) as he gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and the Alabama Slam. Cole acts like it’s over, but Brock’s CAREER would be over if that weakass finisher won the title. Holly goes to the full nelson, but Brock rolls out of the ring to escape. He necksnaps Holly to end that threat, and Bob idiotically walks into the F5 at 6:30. Thank god. Brock hardly broke a sweat in dispatching Holly after months of running from him. A world title match booked to go 6 minutes with 3 of it in a bearhug is a joke. ¾*  (2012 Scott sez:  I think this was Holly’s one loyalty title shot, although after taking liberties on Tough Enough and sandbagging Brock on TV I kind of wish that Brock would have given him a receipt of some sort here.)  RAW World title: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. After the awesome RAW match, I was counting on these two to save things. (2012 Scott sez:  These two are the Ross and Rachel of the WWE.  They love each other!  They hate each other!)  HHH hammers away in the corner to start and they slug it out, won by Michaels, and then they go to the mat with a headlock sequence. Shawn brings the chops, but walks into a facecrusher. HHH whips him into the corner to work on the back and gets a backbreaker. Another try is reversed, and Shawn legwhips him into a figure-four. JR notes that it’s right off the Flair DVD, but it’s really more off the Muto DVD. I guess it’s good psychology, because to be the Last Man Standing, you have to be able to stand. HHH takes a 3 count and gets up again. Shawn dropkicks the knee for another count. He charges and HHH pulls down the ropes, putting Shawn on the floor. HHH preps the announce tables and suplexes Shawn, but Shawn escapes and they slug it out on the table. The punches hurt more when you’re elevated, I guess. HHH falls off the table and the fans boo. Funny stuff. Back in, Shawn goes up, but gets booted coming down. HHH gets backdropped over the top, as is generally obvious when he goes for the Pedigree near the ropes (2012 Scott sez:  You’d think after all these years, HHH would learn not to try a Pedigree near the ropes.  Ditto for Scott Hall and the Razor’s Edge.) , and Shawn follows him out with a crossbody attempt that not only misses and lands on the table, but wouldn’t have hit HHH even if he hadn’t ducked. I hate spots like that. Shawn does his usual sick blade job, which is funny considering the wussy ones he was doing during the early months of his comeback in 2002. Or maybe it’s just misplaced stigmata? (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t believe I can take credit for that one.  That might have been one of Zen’s.)  Back in, HHH slugs away and Shawn takes a 7 count. HHH slugs away again and it’s another count for Shawn. More abuse from HHH, and it’s another count. JR doesn’t know how any human being can get up again. Yeah, a few punches, how devastating. More punching from HHH, but Shawn fights back, only to walk into an awkwardly-delivered spinebuster. That’s another count, and HHH slugs him back down again and grabs a chair. This whole segment is incredibly slow. HHH delivers a chairshot for another count. Shawn is up at 9. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Shawn reverses into a weak catapult to the post, which allows HHH to cut himself. Blood does not speed up a match. Chairshot from Shawn and HHH takes a count, and now Shawn slugs away on him. Flying forearm and both guys are out, but Shawn is JESUSING UP. It’s a resurrection, just like Jesus! Without the death and miracles and stuff. (2012 Scott sez:  I dunno, Shawn had some pretty miraculous matches during that comeback.)  He fights back as the POWER OF CHRIST COMPELS HIM…to deliver an atomic drop. He ascends the ladder of Heaven and drops the big elbow. Superkick is blocked by a low blow to quiet the crowd again, and both guys are out again. They slug it out and now Shawn gets a sleeper, but releases and lets the ref count instead. HHH is up at 8, and gets a DDT, and both guys are down again. The inherent problem with these matches is that when it’s good, it’s dramatic, and when it’s not good, it’s two guys laying around. This is the latter. Shawn gets a slow chop, but gets whipped into the corner and brought down with a backdrop suplex, but both guys are out again. Back up at 8 for both, but HHH gets the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE. If that was Chris Jericho he’d be dead until next Thursday. HHH is back up, and Shawn follows at 9. Superkick, but neither guy gets up and it’s a draw at 22:45, which the crowd shits all over. (2012 Scott sez:  I don’t get why they couldn’t duplicate the magic on PPV that year.  Shawn was having awesome matches with Benoit, so it wasn’t him.  But this match blew and the Hell in a Cell match was a 40 minute wankfest.)  They couldn’t top the RAW match and it was foolish to try, although HHH is the son-in-law of the owner, so he gets 30 minutes of PPV time to try whereas everyone else gets 5. Match was too slow, too disjointed, and it didn’t feel like there was any psychology to it. **3/4 – We get a stupid time-wasting bit with Heyman, Bischoff and Austin to amuse the live crowd. – Meanwhile, Brock and Goldberg have another meet-and-greet. – Royal Rumble: (2012 Scott sez:  This is one of the few times where I had actual inside knowledge of who was winning well in advance, but I still didn’t believe it until I saw it.)  Chris Benoit is of course #1, and Randy Orton is #2. Since this is mixed brands, it’s JR & Tazz on commentary, and it’s a great team, showing that perhaps JR’s commentary problems stem from his partner. Benoit stomps away in the corner to start and gets a snap suplex, but Orton fights back in the corner and tries to push him out. Benoit knees him in the gut to break and Mark Henry is #3, with 90 second intervals as promised. Nice touch: There’s graphics with the number of entry this year, making it easier to keep track. (2012 Scott sez:  That was a permanent change, in fact.)  Mizark goes after both of them, but walks into a chop. Orton tries the CLUBBING FOREARMS, but gets clotheslined down. Henry works Benoit over in the corner, as Tajiri is #4. Still 90 seconds. Tajiri trades kicks with Orton and gets the handspring elbow, but Benoit cuts in with a german suplex, and drops an elbow on the head. Orton gets tossed, but hangs on to climb back in. Orton pounds on Henry in the corner as Bradshaw is #5 with intervals increasing by a few seconds. He hits everyone with Clotheslines from Heck, but Benoit blocks it with a crossface. That’s why he rules. Bradshaw tries to power him out, but Benoit uses leverage to get rid of Bradshaw instead, at 5:27. Well, there’s always shower rape to console him. (2012 Scott sez:  That and the repackaging and giant push he got about 3 months after this.)  Orton throws an elbow at Henry as the interval is up to 100 seconds now, and Rhyno is #6. He goes after Orton & Benoit while Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Henry. That’s kind of dumb – hanging upside down in the Rumble. Rhyno goes for the Goar, but hits Tajiri at 6:53 to eliminate him, and Henry gets elbowed out by Benoit at 7:08. Replay shows that Tajiri misted Henry on the way by to blind him. Mattitude is #7 and he goes after the heels, hitting a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit tosses him. Matt hangs on, however. Everyone pairs off and slugs it out. Rhyno tries to suplex Matt out and Scott Steiner is #8. He starts throwing clotheslines and suplexes on everyone, and goes for Benoit, but Chris returns the suplex favor with some germans. Matt almost has Orton out, but Benoit saves with a backdrop suplex, and Matt Morgan is #9. (2012 Scott sez:  I totally forgot that Morgan was in WWE first, actually.)  He immediately hits Benoit with the deadly sitout powerbomb, and no-sells Matt’s stuff to set up a big boot. Nash Choke in the corner on Orton and he works him over while Steiner tangos with Hardy. Morgan works over Hardy in the corner while Rhyno spits on Benoit. Hurricane is #10 and he comes in with a bodypress on Matt, but he’s Hurri-gone via Matt Morgan at 13:32. The real highlight is Steiner & Orton rolling around on the mat in what looks like a lover’s clutch. Benoit & Rhyno keep slugging it out. Hardy tries clipping Morgan, but he doesn’t know how to sell it properly. Booker T is #11, and hostilities with Steiner are renewed. Nice touch. Axe kick on Orton and he goes for Morgan, but eats a knee. Everyone slugs it out as Kane is #12. Steiner gets eliminated off-camera at 16:44 by Booker. Kane starts chokeslamming people and runs the table, but doesn’t toss anyone, as Spike Dudley (with Undertaker’s gong) is #13, and causes Kane to get dumped by Booker at 18:30. Kane gets his revenge and Spike never makes it into the match. Back in the ring, Benoit tries to get Hardy out, and Rikishi is #14. Benoit dumps Rhyno at 20:25 as Rikishi cleans house and gives Morgan the Stinkface. Booker elbows Matt down as the other four fight in the corners, and it’s time for more bodies, with Rene Dupree at #15. That dance is so gonna get over with time. (2012 Scott sez:  Sadly, Dupree was cut loose before it could.  He was on the verge of being not terrible, though.) He goes after Matt Hardy and they fight over a suplex, and Hardy gets dropkicked out at 22:28. Dupree follows via a Rikishi superkick at 22:35. How nihilistic. A-Train is #16 and he rekindles that hatred with…Rikishi? Well, he’s the biggest guy, so you can’t fault the logic. Benoit dodges a charge from Morgan and dumps him at 23:48. Thank god. Everyone gangs up on Train, but Orton turns on Rikishi and dumps him at 24:15, and then Booker T at 24:20. So we’re back down to Benoit, Train and Orton, and it’s time for another person. That’s TIGHT booking. Shelton Benjamin is #17 and Benoit dumps Train at 25:10 or so. Benjamin slugs Orton down, but misses a superkick and lands on the top rope, going bye-bye via Orton at 25:45 as a result. So it’s back down to 1 and 2 again, as Benoit gets a backdrop suplex and they collide for the double KO, and wouldn’t you know, time for another entrant. This proves to be Ernest Miller at #18, and he slows the match down with a dance party, until Benoit & Orton redeem it by tossing both Miller and his butler at 27:46. (2012 Scott sez:  Serious aficionados, aka nerds, will note that they recycled Miller’s music for Brodus Clay)  And we’re back to SERIOUS contenders again, as Kurt Angle is #19. JR notes that Orton needs to “make hay while the sun is shining” to which Tazz replies “What the hell is that supposed to mean?” THANK YOU. Benoit and Angle immediately bring it on, while Orton sits in the corner and defers to their better judgment. That’s a very nice touch. Benoit chops away and elbows him out of the corner, but gets clotheslined. Vertical suplex by Angle and he tries get Benoit out, but Orton breaks it up. Rico is #20 and he gets pounded by Orton right away, but comes back with the corner kick and some groping. Orton hits him with the RKO while Benoit fires off germans on Angle, and Orton casually dumps Rico at 31:12. Benoit goes up, but Angle crotches him and tries to send him out, as Test is supposed to be #21, but someone has attacked him. And that someone is sent out by Austin to take his place. And that someone is…MICK FOLEY. Orton understandably shits the proverbial brick, as Foley goes nuts on him and beats the tattoos off him in the corner. Cactus Clothesline eliminates both guys at 33:46, but that’s good enough for Mick. They continue brawling outside as Christian is #22. The focus remains on Foley & Orton, as Orton finally catches a break with a pair of chairshots and they brawl up the aisle, allowing Foley to go for Mr. Socko. Meanwhile, Nunzio is #23, so Foley gives him the Sock, while Orton hits him in Mr. Cocko on the way back to the dressing room. Nunzio hides out on the floor while the other three do their thing inside, with Benoit and Christian trying to get Angle out. Stick together, Canucks! Angle fires off a german on Christian, and one for Benoit, but can’t get Christian out. Big Show is #24, and he goes right for Angle, and then deals with the other two. He pounds Angle down and tosses Christian around, and Jericho is #25. He saves his compadre from Angle and they work him over in the corner, but Show intervenes and rams them together. Show headbutts Jericho down and pounds him in the corner, and now everyone gets smart and goes after Show. 4-on-1 isn’t quite enough, and Show is able to fight them off. Charlie Haas is #26, but Vitamin C hit him with a double-suplex on the way in. Christian & Jericho toss Benoit, but he hangs on. Then Christian turns on Jericho and tosses him, but HE hangs on, and then backdrops Christian out at 42:48. (2012 Scott sez:  This was a rare late numbers sequence with a bunch of great workers having fun with complex booking.  Usually it’s the big monsters in this slot, so this was a nice change of pace.)  Angle gets a german suplex as Billy Gunn is #27 and he comes in with the Dumbasser on a few people. Everyone pairs off as it slows down a bit, with Jericho getting a backdrop suplex on Angle and then going after Show, but Benoit saves with a german suplex. John Cena is #28, and he brings Nunzio out of his hiding place, but gets jumped by Show as a result. Nunzio then goes after Show, which is kind of dumb, and gets nowhere. Cena tries next while Benoit scraps with Nunzio, and RVD is #29. He goes after Show, as seems to be the trend, but he can’t organize another try at getting rid of him. Everyone slugs it out as Cena gives Angle the F-U, and Goldberg is #30. Time to get rid of the dead weight. Spear for Show! Spear for Gunn! Powerslam for Haas. Nunzio attacks and gets Haas eliminated indirectly at 48:39, but then gets speared for his troubles. Gunn is Billy Gone at 49:00. Nunzio flies Air Italy out of the ring at 49:05. However, Brock runs in with an F-5 on Goldberg to pop the crowd, and Angle dumps Grizzly Adams at 50:15 while he’s being all intense. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, that beard was out of control in 2004.  Brock-Goldberg should have been so much bigger than it ended up being, though.)  So amazingly we have Benoit, Jericho, Angle, Cena, RVD and Show left. They make another try at getting rid of Show on the ropes, but you can’t fight gravity and he won’t go. Next tactic sees everyone hitting their finishers in succession, starting with the Lionsault and going frog splash, Five Knuckle Shuffle, flying headbutt, and Angle Slam. Show is still in it, however, so now Angle organizes a team carry, but that’s just wishful thinking. Show gets angry and tosses Cena at 53:02. RVD gets fancy and gets gone at 53:21. Jericho gets tossed and hangs on, as our final four is Jericho, Benoit, Angle and Show. How about THAT? Jericho is backdropped out again, but slides in again. Show tosses him into the corner, but Jericho comes back with a bulldog and goes for the Walls of Jericho. That seems a little counterproductive. Angle breaks it up and fights with Jericho on the ropes, but Show saves for Angle and chokeslams Jericho out of the ring at 55:11. Down to three. Angle walks into a sideslam, and Show chokeslams Benoit following that. Show fights off Angle’s suplex attempt, but falls victim to the Angle Slam, and Benoit gets more of the same. Angle takes a poll from the fans as to who to go after, and Show is lucky winner of an anklelock, which is of course meaningless. Show powers him to the ropes and Angle hangs on too long and gets eliminated at 57:40. So now Benoit is faced with having to eliminate single-handedly the guy that 5 people couldn’t get rid of at once. He starts by headbutting him back into the ring, but walks into a chokeslam, which he counters into the crossface. Again, that’s for nothing, as Show powers out and sideslams him. Show goes for the kill with a press-slam, but Benoit counters to a standing guillotine choke and hangs on. He pulls Show to the apron with that and won’t let go, and gravity proves to be Show’s enemy, as he passes out and falls out at 61:37 to make Benoit the winner and the recipient of the title shot at Wrestlemania XX. I was marking out like nuts last night and initially was thinking ***** because of the excitement and brilliantly tight booking, along with the great story of Show being the monster that no one could eliminate until Benoit figured it out, but after watching it again…I still loved it. HA! Fooled ya! It’s still *****, and the best Rumble I’ve ever seen. And I’ve seen ‘em all.  (2012 Scott sez:  I think that’s too high.  ****1/2 maybe, given perspective.)  The Bottom Line: The Rumble match came as close as humanly possible to pulling off a miracle and redeeming what had been to that point a horrible show, but really HHH stinking up the ring…again…was too much to overcome in the long run. Thumbs in the middle, but order the replay for the Rumble only. Next stop for Benoit: Wrestlemania. And here I was worried that they wouldn’t even have a feud for him.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously f----- up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this s---, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously f----- up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this s---, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously f----- up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this s---, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously f----- up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this s---, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2003

– Thanks to all those who bought “Tonight…In This Very Ring” over the weekend, temporarily pushing it as high as #2000 on the Amazon rankings for most of the weekend. They should be shipping from Amazon soon and in bookstores by the end of the month, so hang tight!  (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately none of my other books came close to those sales numbers, which is why “Tonight…” is the only one to date that I actually made royalties from over and above the initial advance.  Or maybe my agent was just screwing me out of hundreds of hard-earned dollars all this time.  Either way.)  – Live from Boston (2012 Scott sez:  BOOOOOOOOOO!), which rhymes with Austin. Is this a sign of his impending return? STAY TUNED!  (2012 Scott sez:  Kind of was, yeah.)  – Your hosts are JR & King & Cole & Tazz.Opening match: Big Show v. Brock Lesnar. And here I bet Show thought he was done with being an opening match job guy. Show wins the lockup battle to start, but loses the power battle in the corner. He blocks a suplex, but Brock goes to the knee and gets a second try. Another one hits, but Show blocks a third and dumps Brock, who takes his customary bump. Back in, Show stomps away in the corner and tosses Brock around. Charge misses and Brock throws him with a release german for two. Heyman trips up Brock, putting Show back in control with a big boot and a sideslam. Show is sucking wind. Chokeslam is reversed with Benoit’s counter-roll for two, and Brock hits another suplex. Heyman gets brought in involuntarily, and Brock’s F5 attempt is stopped by Show with the chokeslam. But c’mon, like this is gonna get anything, and indeed Brock is out at two. Another chokeslam attempt is reversed by Brock and the F5 finishes at 6:28. Short and inoffensive. **  (2012 Scott sez:  Show and Lesnar had some weird freaky chemistry together for some reason.  This wasn’t a great example of it, but there was a B-show main event with them later in the year where Brock was throwing Show around the ring and it was kind of awesome.)  RAW Tag team titles: King Regal & Sir Lancelot v. The Dudley Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  My “King Regal” joke was actually just 5 years too early.)  Bubba and Storm start and Bubba gets a hiptoss, but Storm hammers away in the corner. Bubba slugs back and gets a half-powerbomb and works the leg for some reason. D-Von comes in with the elbow, and he handles both Regal & Storm and drops an elbow on Regal for two. A cheapshot turns the tide and Regal gets a Northern Lights suplex for two. Storm gets an elbow for two. Regal works the arm and monkey-flips D-Von back into the corner, where Storm chokes him out. The dreaded neck vice is YOUR resthold du jour. Hot tag Bubba and he gets a backdrop on Storm and splashes both guys in the corner. Sideslam on Storm gets two. Release german gets two. Bubba Bomb gets two. Whazzup Drop sets up a flapjack for Storm that gets two for D-Von. Queef Morley comes out to protest something by the Dudleyz, allowing Regal to load up the Power of the Punch, but he walks into 3D and D-Von finishes Storm with the knux to win the titles at 7:26. Kind of a strange ending to a short match. Both teams are so stale that I still don’t get the point of taking the titles off BookDust in the first place. **  (2012 Scott sez:  This whole era, outside of the Smackdown Six,  was a dead zone for tag team wrestling, actually.  Dull teams like Regal/Morley, Kane/RVD, Rikishi/Scotty, The Bashams…just a bunch of mix-and-match nothings.  And I STILL don’t get why BookerDust only had the belts for a month.)Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson. They air the entire Al Wilson saga before the match, as though ANYTHING is gonna help this have heat. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, AL WILSON.  Now there was a storyline for the ages that I had totally blocked out of my mind until now.)  Dawn attacks to start and stomps away. Neither girl gets a reaction from the crowd coming in, by the way, showing how effective the angle was. Torrie tosses Dawn around and catapults her. A suplex is blocked and Dawn takes her down with something vaguely resembling an armbar takedown. Dawn keeps working on the arm and gets two. She switches arms out of nowhere and starts working on the left instead of the right, which Torrie then ignores before walking into a flapjack. They collide in an obviously f----- up spot and Torrie gets a bad backslide for two. Torrie gets a couple of armdrags for no reason in particular, but Dawn comes back with a springboard clothesline that’s on par with Bull Buchanan’s. That’s not a compliment. Torrie finishes with a neckbreaker at 3:38. Dawn promises that it’s not over. Normally I’m not one for bait-and-switch, but I’d be happy to see them break that promise. -* – RAW World title: HHH v. Scott Steiner. Steiner has a big “#1” added to his tights in the colors of the US flag. See, he may be a roid freak with anger issues and crippling injuries, but he’s AMERICAN! HHH has odd- looking red tights tonight, which I guess means that Steiner gave it to him extra hard before the match and he’s bleeding all over. JR notes that Steiner is a very emotional challenger…in bed. HHH is the Cerebral Assassin…in bed. Steiner pounds away to start…in bed. Okay, enough of that. (2012 Scott sez:  I did that bit on a dare, in case you’re wondering.)  More punching and Steiner has nothing and it’s obvious. He’s sucking wind 15 seconds in. Press slam and he’s barely able to get HHH in the air, and HHH bails. JR notes that he’s trying to stop this offensive onslaught…in bed. (2012 Gorilla sez:  WOULD YOU STOP!) Steiner keeps pounding away on the floor and sends HHH into the post backfirst, indicating that a bearhug will be forthcoming. See, with Steiner you call the psychology according to the restholds he’s most likely to use. Suplex back in gets two. Steiner stays on the back and keeps chopping, with no force. He’s done. Boston Crab, but HHH makes the ropes. Steiner keeps elbowing HHH on the mat and stomping away. Facecrusher from HHH, but Steiner no-sells and goes to the predicted bearhug. The crowd is rapidly losing patience with the match, rightly so. (2012 Scott sez:  This is the point where almost anyone else but HHH would call an audible and just go to the finish before the poor bastard died of oxygen deprivation out there.  But no, HHH wanted to prove he was a miracle worker.)  HHH escapes, but walks into an overhead suplex. That’s one. Flair pulls HHH out of harm’s way, which is lucky because Steiner is pulling all the oxygen in the first six rows into his lungs. Steiner misses a charge and HHH stomps away and tosses him, as we get another exciting sequence on the floor. Back in, neckbreaker gets two. I try to make another joke out JR’s call, but he goes into one of his patented run-on sentences that go on for like a minute. Steiner comes back but falls victim to the MIDCARD NECKBREAKER OF DOOM for two. Steiner is FINISHED. I mean, we’re talking Ultimate Warrior after 20 minutes with Hogan in 1990 territory here. KICK WHAM PEDIGREE is reversed by Steiner into a catapult, but he’s so out of it that HHH has to do all the work. T-Bone suplex and Steiner COLLAPSES due to being gassed, and they do a horrible tombstone reversal sequence that leads to HHH saving it with a neckbreaker that was so badly done it was nearly a Diamond Cutter. It gets two and the crowd starts turning on Steiner. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, I forgot they actually tried to bring in BIG POPPA PUMP as a BABYFACE.  HHH, ladies and gentlemen.)  HHH gets a suplex and goes up, but gets caught with another overhead suplex from Steiner. That’s two. Steiner is STILL unable to stand up without crawling up the ropes, and they slug it out, leading to Steiner getting a backdrop and a third overhead suplex. Four of them. Now the crowd is catching on that Steiner has nothing else in the arsenal. A fifth and the crowd is getting sick of it. Belly to belly gets two, and the crowd is booing Steiner. Tiger bomb is completely blown by Steiner, and he’s now a heel as far as the crowd is concerned. JR & King are now in a really bad situation, because they have to continue putting the match over as something good, but it’s obviously a disaster at this point. HHH goes up and Steiner gets a superplex for two as HHH desperately bumps all over to keep Steiner in the match. HHH and Flair try to take a powder (which I would have happily taken at this point), but Steiner chases them down and hits HHH with the belt, drawing blood. What exactly would have cut HHH open there? The leather edge? (2012 Jim Ross sez:  JUST STOP THE DAMN MATCH!)  Back in, Steiner gets a SIXTH overhead suplex, which draws open boos from the crowd. HHH bails again, trying to put over Steiner by running away, but only pissing off the crowd even worse. They should have realized the problem and gone home long ago. Back in, Steiner does some sad pushups, unable to even do that properly at this point, and keeps pounding away in the corner as the match has lost all semblance of flow and storyline. This is like a textbook lesson on what NOT to do. HHH bumps the ref to try to draw a DQ, but Hebner isn’t selling, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. (2012 Scott sez:  Again, they should have just called the audible and did the DQ.  Unless Vince was getting kicks watching this horror show unfold, you never know.)  The crowd doesn’t know whether to cheer or boo. Another lame suplex from Steiner gets two, and he’s still got nothing else. HHH goes low (turning himself babyface) and gets a rollup for two. The crowd is just booing everything out of spite at this point. HHH gets the phallic sledgehammer from under the ring (which is the fake one because he doesn’t bang it on the steps first) and Hebner is so sick of the match that he calls a DQ at 18:13, which is enough for the crowd to completely turn on the match and boo both guys out of the building. Steiner comes back and cleans house with the sledgehammer, drawing more boos from the crowd, and guaranteeing himself a one-way trip back to the WWA. I would be SHOCKED if Steiner makes it to Wrestlemania after this debacle. -**1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  He certainly didn’t stay in the main event past Wrestlemania, but amazingly he got ANOTHER PPV main event to stink up.)  HHH tried, but no one gets Freakzilla over DUD at this point. Buh-bye, Scott, hope you enjoyed your month in the WWE. By the way, for those who praised the WWE for keeping them separate as “great booking” to build interest in the match, I hope you now understand why they were kept out of the ring leading up to this. Go ahead, Steiner drones, defend this s---, I dare you. – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. Chris Benoit. Well, they’ve got their work cut out for them following that crap. Benoit takes him down and tries a Sharpshooter, but Angle bails. Back in, Benoit mule kicks him and escapes a sleeper with an armdrag, then legdrags him into another Sharpshooter attempt, but Angle makes the ropes before he can finish. Angle sends him into the post and pounds on him, and gets a suplex for two. They exchange chops, which is rather dumb of Angle, and Benoit takes over. Boomerang clothesline and knee to the gut get two. More chops and he knees Angle down, but gets suplexed onto the top rope to stop the rally. He necksnaps Angle and drags him onto the apron, where they slug it out, and Benoit DDTs him onto the apron. Coolness. Back in, Benoit gets two. He goes up, but misses the headbutt, and then counters an Angle Slam into a Sharpshooter. He really needs to start using that as a finish. (2012 Scott sez:  He made Shawn Michaels tap to it at Backlash 2004 in Edmonton, the only PPV to date I’ve ever attended.)  Angle makes the ropes. Backdrop suplex gets two. He walks into an overhead suplex from Angle (done with snap and force, unlike Steiner’s sloppy throws), however, and bails. Angle stomps him on the floor and they head back in, which Angle short-arms him for two. Angle hits the chinlock and they turn it into a mat sequence as Benoit armdrags out of it, but Angle snaps off another overhead suplex. Nasty backdrop suplex gets two, and Angle goes back to the chinlock. Using the bodyscissors is a nice touch. Benoit fights out again, and they collide with clotheslines for the double KO. Crowd is into it, which is always a good sign. Benoit fights back with clotheslines and gets a backdrop to set up the rolling germans, but Angle reverses to his own, which Benoit then reverses to one more of his own. (2012 Scott sez:  In retrospect, dropping each other on their heads multiple times in multiple matches didn’t help the future health of either guy.  Still looked awesome, though.)  Benoit gives him the SNOT ROCKET OF DEATH and goes up, but Angle hits him with the Pop Up Superplex for two. See, blowing snot on your opponent is never a good idea. Lou Thesz did the same thing in 1938 and nearly lost the title as a result. Benoit counters the Angle Slam with the crossface, but Angle pulls himself to the ropes. Benoit hauls him off and gives him an anklelock, but that allows Angle to reverse to his own. Benoit counters again back to the crossface, but Angle rolls him over for two. Benoit snaps him right back into the crossface. Angle rolls through, but Benoit doesn’t release, and that proves to be a mistake as Angle hits him with the Angle Slam out of that. It gets two. That’s an awesome sequence with no booking trickery needed to pop the crowd. Angle grabs another anklelock, and Benoit has nowhere to go. He powers out instead and tries another german, but Angle reverses, which Benoit then counters with a rollup for two. Another german for Benoit, but Angle reverses to his own, but Benoit reverses and Angle takes that sick upside-down bump onto his face off it. This is just breathtaking stuff. Benoit goes up again and hits the flying headbutt from 3/4 of the way across the ring as the crowd is actually chanting for Benoit now. That gets two. (2012 Scott sez:  That flying headbutt…I wish he would have learned something from Dynamite Kid about doing that.)  Crossface again, but Kurt rolls out and tries a powerbomb. He drops Benoit on the turnbuckle, into the Angle Slam, and that gets two. I was calling that as the finish while watching live. Benoit takes him down again with the crossface, and Angle is stuck, but he rolls through again into the anklelock. Benoit fights it off, but Angle won’t let go of the hold. Benoit rolls off again, but Angle stays on it. Another reversal, but Angle rolls with him and holds on. One last counter for Benoit, but Angle turns it into a heel hook to finish at 19:47. But I bet that according to HHH, neither of these guys know how to work. (2012 Scott sez:  I think he did say something along those lines previously.)  This is your first match of the year contender, but with the setup of the awards it’ll be forgotten by November. (2012 Scott sez:  I know it didn’t win the WON match of the year, but it won a lot of other ones.)  ****3/4 I’m deducting 1/4* for the chinlocks in the middle, for those who will inevitably ask. The crowd then shows huge class and gives Benoit a standing ovation after the match for the effort. See, now they’ve got a dilemma – they’ve built up Benoit as a big babyface now, but they have nowhere to go with him because Brock-Angle is carved in stone for Wrestlemania. My solution? Move him to RAW and put him over HHH for the World title, thus keeping the momentum going and giving HHH a fresh babyface to feud with.  (2012 Scott sez:  BOW DOWN TO THE MOTHERFUCKING KING.  OK, I was a year early, but ultimately correct.)  Royal Rumble: The Fink announces 2-minute intervals, but JR announces 90 seconds. You know, another promotion used to have those sorts of coordination problems, and look where they are now. Jericho attacks Shawn from behind to start and pounds away, then grabs a chair and busts Shawn open with it. Chris Nowinski is #3, and he allows Jericho to continue his assault. Jericho tosses Shawn with ease, thus completing the slaughter. At this point I thought they may have figured out what to do with Jericho for this match, but sadly that wouldn’t last. Rey Mysterio is #4 and he hits Jericho with a dropkick and a flying headscissors, but gets powerbombed and clobbered with a forearm. Nowinski seems content to play cheerleader. Jericho blocks a charge and tosses him, but Rey hangs on and comes back in with a springboard dropkick, as Nowinski finally joins us. Edge is #5 as the intervals are all over the place and he cleans house with spears. How hard is it to time 90 seconds? They send Jericho into the corner post and out, but he’s through the middle. Rey and Edge decide to rassle, and Edge misses a spear, and Rey misses a 619. Rey takes him out with a headscissors, but Edge only hit with one foot (supposedly). Back in, Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb. Christian is #6 as the interval is closer to two minutes now, and he reconciles with Edge, but Edge turns on him. Well, I thought he was sincere. Nowinski tosses both Edge & Rey, but they both hang on and hit him with missile dropkicks. The timing was off and Edge lands on his face. Ouch. Rey adds a broncobuster for good measure and we’re still at two minutes as Chavito is #7. He does a lucha libre sequence with Rey and gets 619’d. Another one for Christian. West Coast Pop for Nowinski eliminates him, as Rey hangs on to stay in. Jericho dumps him soon after. Tajiri is #8 and he kicks people into mush, but gets suplexed by Chavo. Tajiri gives him a Gory Special and fights with Christian in the corner as things slow down a bit. Bill DeMott is an ANGRY and INTENSE #9. He hits guys at random, but can’t toss Jericho. Nothing much going on until Tommy Dreamer is #10. Thank god they dropped Damaja so that Dreamer could keep his spot. Dreamer brings plunder and goes nuts on everyone with it, busting open Jericho hardway with the cane. Edge canes DeMott out, and Jericho & Christian get a con-chair-to on Dreamer and toss him. Crowd doesn’t like that. (2012 Scott sez:  Boston is stupid anyway and obviously they and their fans are biased against Canadians.)  Tajiri hits Christian & Chavo with a handspring, but gets the Tarantula on Jericho, and gets sent out. Well, that was dumb of him. Bull is #11, heat completely gone without Cena. Edge gives him a mercifully quick exit. Edge gives Chavo the old No Mercy N64 treatment, tossing him then spearing him off the apron. He tries the same on Jericho, but turns his back too soon, as Jericho pulls himself back in and dumps Edge & Christian at the same time to clear the ring for the first time at 16:17. RVD is #12 and they slug it out, but Rob superkicks him and pounds away in the corner. Springboard kick and Rolling Thunder, but Jericho chops back. Rob catapults him out, but Jericho hangs on again. Matt Hardy is #13, with Matt Fact: He strongly dislikes mustard. (2012 Scott sez:  Matt Facts would be SOOOOOO much more entertaining now.  It’d be like “Matt Fact:  He crashed his car into a tree because he got high and thought the ash-tray was making a pact with the seatbelt against him.”) Side Effect for RVD and the heels work over Rob while Shannon Moore plays cheerleader at ringside. Rob escapes a double-team situation and kicks both guys down, but Jericho bulldogs RVD, and then misses the Lionsault. Rob goes up with the frog splash as Eddie Guerrero is #14. He goes after Rob and Matt, but gets monkey-flipped by RVD. Rob fights to get him out, but Mattitude saves the day. Frog splash for RVD, but Matt turns on him and gives him a Twist of Fate. The cheating torch has been passed. Jeff Hardy is #15 and Matt wants a truce, but Jeff attacks with a forearm and jawbreaker. Matt is just so much better than Jeff at this point that it’s scary. (2012 Scott sez:  Boy, that sure changed.  Well, they’re both just scary now, but Jeff clearly surpassed his brother in every way in the ring within a couple of years.)  Jeff tosses Matt, but Shannon sacrifices himself and blocks Matt’s landing, thus keeping him in. Jeff goes up for the swanton, but Shannon again saves the day, using his body to block the move. Jeff does it anyway. This Matt & Shannon stuff is a riot. Rosie is #16, adding nothing. Everyone does the usual fighting on the ropes with nothing gained. Test is #17. He starts hitting guys with clotheslines, but he’s nothing without Stacy. (2012 Scott sez:  I wonder if she ever thinks back to her time with Test while getting banged by George Clooney?  I’m gonna go with “No.”) He dumps Jericho, but he hangs on again. John Cena is #18, rapping for the entire interval until RVD tosses him in and Charlie Haas is #19. There’s too much deadwood in there right now. Nothing going on. Jeff goes up like an idiot and RVD causally shoves him out. NEVER go to the top in the Rumble. Eddie hits Jericho with a rana as Rikishi is #20. He superkicks a bunch of guys (someone call Shawn!) and has a showdown with Rosie. Don’t even ask me the relationship there because I can never keep track. I think they’re cousins. Stinkface for the Matt/Shannon tandem is stopped by Rosie and we really need to thin out the ranks. Jamal is #21 and he hits Rikishi with a superkick, but Rikishi goes back with his own. Stinkface for Jamal and everyone’s laying around on the ropes. Kane is #22 and he starts hitting guys at will. Rosie is gone. He chokeslams the MFers at once, but can’t toss Jericho. Shelton Benjamin is #23 and Team Angle goes right for Cena while Matt saves himself from elimination again. Booker T is #24 and he axekicks Kane right off and gives us a Spinarooni. He dumps Eddie and A-Train is #25. He gets his shitty offense on a few guys before walking into a superkick from Rikishi. Rikishi tires to dump Jericho, but no dice. Shawn runs in and goes after Jericho in a really poor show of sportsmanship, fights off a few guys, and distracts Jericho long enough for Test to toss him. This seems to be building to Shawn v. Jericho at No Way Out next month. Where Shawn is supposed to be a babyface and Canadian Chris Jericho is supposed to be a heel. IN MONTREAL. Find the logical gap there. (2012 Scott sez:  Luckily they held off until Wrestlemania.)  Jericho’s exit kinda deflates the crowd because the winner is obvious now with no one else left. Maven is #26 and he gets nowhere fast against Kane. Goldust is #27 with no hope of winning and everyone knows it. He gets some token offense but Team Angle sends him out right away. Crowd turns on that decision. Booker T also falls victim to them. That leaves no one for the crowd to root for. Batista is #28 and he tosses Test and the crowd still doesn’t give a crap about him. (2012 Scott sez:  Give it two years, they would.)  Rikishi goes next. Brock is #29 and is the obvious winner. Team Angle and Matt Hardy all feel the pain and go to the showers. Undertaker is #30 as JR is ready to start sucking some Callaway dick. He fights everyone off and sells nothing, dumping Cena and Jamal. (2012 Scott sez:  This would of course be the last time Cena would be unceremonious deadwood in a Royal Rumble ever again.)  You can tell he’s not winning because he gets to eliminate everyone. (2012 Scott sez: Still in my anti-Undertaker place, I see.)  Maven’s deadly dropkick fails to work this year, as he gets chokeslammed back into the undercard and tossed by the almightly Locker Room Leader.  (2012 Scott sez:  Oh geez, I was using the Other Arena name for him there, kill me now.)  A-Train stops the path of Ben-Gay with the Mehshugganator, and we’re down to six. Rob hits A-Train with a spinkick and Batista with a leg lariat and the people left in the match should tell you loads about the thinking when business is down. (2012 Scott sez:  Ironically, Batista ended up turning the company around in 2005, so Vince was right on that one.)  Kane & RVD eliminate A-Train, but Rob makes the mistake of trusting Kane and gets dumped. Final Four: Undertaker, Kane, Batista & Brock. The match completely dies now as we’re down to three slugs and Brock. Kane works over Brock while UT punches Batista. Such excitement. Batista gives UT the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER, but even such a devastating move can’t stop him. Kane & Batista work over Lesnar, but he fights back and F5’s Kane. Brock & UT slug it out, but Taker gets the big boot (called rather loudly). Brock accidentally almost dumps Taker, but pulls him back in, only to get tombstoned by Taker (badly). UT dumps Batista, then suckers Kane into an alliance and dumps him, too. Brock then weakly tosses UT to win the match at 53:47. God forbid they let anyone else look strong with Undertaker in there. Match was better than usual thanks to the stuff being done by the cannon fodder at the bottom, but once the stiffs started filing in around #25 it was downhill again, and really needed a stronger finish for Brock. Better than last year’s, at least. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  That’s the exact same rating I gave the 2002 Rumble, so I’m not sure where I got that assessment from.)  The Bottom Line: They completely dropped the ball with Jericho, giving him a half-assed longevity push before weakly sacrificing him to Test. That’s the same kind of “good news/bad news” scenario that ran all through the Rumble match, as they had a chance to do big stuff and didn’t. Benoit/Angle pretty much saved the show, but as noted, they have nowhere left to go with Benoit without changing the title. And I’d pull out the Hot Pokers for HHH/Steiner, but I don’t think the feud needs anymore gay undertones. Benoit/Angle is must-see, the Rumble is for fans only, and the the rest is pretty much must-miss. Thumbs in the middle. (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds about right.  A totally forgettable show outside of the World title match.) 

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002 – Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta. – Your hosts are JR & The King. Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz. New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez:  I believe that assessment was correct, yes.)  Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez:  Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.)  And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez:  I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal. Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)  Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz. Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez:  I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.)  Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½* – Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon. The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.)  Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez:  Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?)  Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.)  Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man.  You have to give him that.)  WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock. Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez:  That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.)  Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result. Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez:  This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts.  I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)  Royal Rumble: Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s what she said.)  Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers. Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez:  In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said.  You know the one.  “If you love something, set it free.  If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”)  He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez:  They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN?  Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone)  Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication. Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez:  See, the rules constantly change.  If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute. Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez:  Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him.  Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.)  Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed. Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez:  Among the many things I would do with a time machine:  Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message)  Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez:  How about that indeed.  There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.)  Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out. Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly. Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez:  One last great performance to go out with.  I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.)  So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4 The Pulse: I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002 – Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta. – Your hosts are JR & The King. Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz. New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez:  I believe that assessment was correct, yes.)  Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez:  Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.)  And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez:  I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal. Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)  Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz. Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez:  I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.)  Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½* – Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon. The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.)  Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez:  Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?)  Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.)  Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man.  You have to give him that.)  WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock. Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez:  That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.)  Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result. Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez:  This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts.  I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)  Royal Rumble: Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s what she said.)  Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers. Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez:  In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said.  You know the one.  “If you love something, set it free.  If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”)  He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez:  They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN?  Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone)  Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication. Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez:  See, the rules constantly change.  If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute. Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez:  Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him.  Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.)  Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed. Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez:  Among the many things I would do with a time machine:  Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message)  Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez:  How about that indeed.  There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.)  Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out. Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly. Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez:  One last great performance to go out with.  I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.)  So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4 The Pulse: I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002 – Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta. – Your hosts are JR & The King. Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz. New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez:  I believe that assessment was correct, yes.)  Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez:  Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.)  And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez:  I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal. Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)  Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz. Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez:  I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.)  Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½* – Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon. The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.)  Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez:  Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?)  Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.)  Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man.  You have to give him that.)  WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock. Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez:  That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.)  Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result. Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez:  This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts.  I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)  Royal Rumble: Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s what she said.)  Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers. Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez:  In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said.  You know the one.  “If you love something, set it free.  If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”)  He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez:  They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN?  Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone)  Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication. Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez:  See, the rules constantly change.  If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute. Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez:  Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him.  Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.)  Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed. Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez:  Among the many things I would do with a time machine:  Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message)  Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez:  How about that indeed.  There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.)  Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out. Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly. Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez:  One last great performance to go out with.  I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.)  So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4 The Pulse: I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002 – Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta. – Your hosts are JR & The King. Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz. New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez:  I believe that assessment was correct, yes.)  Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez:  Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.)  And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez:  I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal. Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)  Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz. Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez:  I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.)  Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½* – Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon. The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.)  Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez:  Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?)  Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.)  Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man.  You have to give him that.)  WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock. Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez:  That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.)  Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result. Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez:  This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts.  I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)  Royal Rumble: Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s what she said.)  Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers. Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez:  In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said.  You know the one.  “If you love something, set it free.  If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”)  He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez:  They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN?  Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone)  Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication. Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez:  See, the rules constantly change.  If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute. Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez:  Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him.  Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.)  Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed. Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez:  Among the many things I would do with a time machine:  Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message)  Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez:  How about that indeed.  There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.)  Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out. Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly. Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez:  One last great performance to go out with.  I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.)  So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4 The Pulse: I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002 – Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta. – Your hosts are JR & The King. Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz. New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez:  I believe that assessment was correct, yes.)  Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez:  Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.)  And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez:  I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal. Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)  Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz. Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez:  I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.)  Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½* – Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon. The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez:  I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.)  Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez:  Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?)  Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez:  Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.)  Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez:  Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man.  You have to give him that.)  WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock. Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez:  That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.)  Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result. Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez:  This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts.  I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)  Royal Rumble: Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez:  That’s what she said.)  Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers. Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez:  In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said.  You know the one.  “If you love something, set it free.  If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”)  He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez:  They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN?  Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone)  Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication. Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez:  See, the rules constantly change.  If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute. Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez:  Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him.  Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.)  Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed. Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez:  Among the many things I would do with a time machine:  Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message)  Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez:  How about that indeed.  There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.)  Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out. Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly. Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez:  One last great performance to go out with.  I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.)  So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4 The Pulse: I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2001

The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001 – Live from New Orleans, LA. – Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER. – Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von…GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Plus it also set up the first ever TLC match at Wrestlemania X-7, so there’s that going on too.)  Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the s--- out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense. (2012 Scott sez:  It’s always bugged me that people are supposedly highly-trained athletes and they can’t even make it up a damn ladder in less than 30 seconds.  The same thing is even built right into the videogame versions as well.  This match, however, ruled hard, and features the famous Liontamer ladder spot.  Benoit was on quite the roll in 2001 as far as adjusting to the WWF style and getting awesome matches out of it.)  WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s definitely some parallels to be made between those two.)  She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy…” shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. (2012 Scott sez:  Well it’s no AJ getting knocked down by Big Show, that’s for sure.)  I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?” in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into. – Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewards” his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. (2012 Scott sez:  Your future Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen!) And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. (2012 Scott sez:  We kinda sorta got one with Trish v. Mickie) Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!” So there you go, all caught up. – WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Back in, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally Challenged” or “Vince Russo” or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? (2012 Scott sez:  That seemed excessively angry just to set up a Vince Russo punchline.  And does anyone still give a crap about Bill Maher?) Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. (2012 Scott sez:  I hear Chris Jericho was a big fan of it, though) HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For Dummies” book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. (2012 Scott sez:  I ended up buying that book in a discount bin years later for $1.  Still not worth it.)  HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “Hmmmm” right about now. (2012 Scott sez:  Nothing to that one, of course.)  Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle…and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds a tad high to me considering the generally disappointing nature of their feud, but it was a hell of a match and actually started Angle down the road to becoming a badass.)  Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14…or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you out” for a bit. (2012 Scott sez:  I was somewhat amused that they actually wrote that mechanic into the Rumble match in the videogames recently, as you put the guy onto the ropes and then play a button-mashing minigame to eliminate him.)  Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock…no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, he never really got back down to the 1999 weight they were shooting for with him, no matter how much they nagged and nearly fired him over it.)  Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign.(2012 Scott sez:  So weird how things progressed so quickly from there.  Wonder why Haku didn’t stick around for the Invasion, anyway?) Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles. – Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? (2012 Scott sez:  Debra, as it turned out.)  Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane…THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d go up to ****, actually.  Hell of a Rumble, with some major league firepower and a situation where you legitimately had no idea if either Rock or Austin was going to win.)  The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. (2012 Scott sez:  Yup.  Not only that, but Austin’s heel turn came AFTER the title win and marked the end of their peak as a company.)  I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me. At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here. Thumbs way up.  (2012 Scott sez:  This one gets forgotten a lot, even by me.  Great show.)  

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2001

The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001 – Live from New Orleans, LA. – Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER. – Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von…GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Plus it also set up the first ever TLC match at Wrestlemania X-7, so there’s that going on too.)  Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the s--- out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense. (2012 Scott sez:  It’s always bugged me that people are supposedly highly-trained athletes and they can’t even make it up a damn ladder in less than 30 seconds.  The same thing is even built right into the videogame versions as well.  This match, however, ruled hard, and features the famous Liontamer ladder spot.  Benoit was on quite the roll in 2001 as far as adjusting to the WWF style and getting awesome matches out of it.)  WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s definitely some parallels to be made between those two.)  She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy…” shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. (2012 Scott sez:  Well it’s no AJ getting knocked down by Big Show, that’s for sure.)  I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?” in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into. – Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewards” his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. (2012 Scott sez:  Your future Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen!) And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. (2012 Scott sez:  We kinda sorta got one with Trish v. Mickie) Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!” So there you go, all caught up. – WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Back in, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally Challenged” or “Vince Russo” or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? (2012 Scott sez:  That seemed excessively angry just to set up a Vince Russo punchline.  And does anyone still give a crap about Bill Maher?) Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. (2012 Scott sez:  I hear Chris Jericho was a big fan of it, though) HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For Dummies” book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. (2012 Scott sez:  I ended up buying that book in a discount bin years later for $1.  Still not worth it.)  HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “Hmmmm” right about now. (2012 Scott sez:  Nothing to that one, of course.)  Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle…and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds a tad high to me considering the generally disappointing nature of their feud, but it was a hell of a match and actually started Angle down the road to becoming a badass.)  Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14…or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you out” for a bit. (2012 Scott sez:  I was somewhat amused that they actually wrote that mechanic into the Rumble match in the videogames recently, as you put the guy onto the ropes and then play a button-mashing minigame to eliminate him.)  Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock…no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, he never really got back down to the 1999 weight they were shooting for with him, no matter how much they nagged and nearly fired him over it.)  Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign.(2012 Scott sez:  So weird how things progressed so quickly from there.  Wonder why Haku didn’t stick around for the Invasion, anyway?) Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles. – Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? (2012 Scott sez:  Debra, as it turned out.)  Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane…THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d go up to ****, actually.  Hell of a Rumble, with some major league firepower and a situation where you legitimately had no idea if either Rock or Austin was going to win.)  The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. (2012 Scott sez:  Yup.  Not only that, but Austin’s heel turn came AFTER the title win and marked the end of their peak as a company.)  I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me. At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here. Thumbs way up.  (2012 Scott sez:  This one gets forgotten a lot, even by me.  Great show.)  

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2001

The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001 – Live from New Orleans, LA. – Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER. – Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von…GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Plus it also set up the first ever TLC match at Wrestlemania X-7, so there’s that going on too.)  Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the s--- out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense. (2012 Scott sez:  It’s always bugged me that people are supposedly highly-trained athletes and they can’t even make it up a damn ladder in less than 30 seconds.  The same thing is even built right into the videogame versions as well.  This match, however, ruled hard, and features the famous Liontamer ladder spot.  Benoit was on quite the roll in 2001 as far as adjusting to the WWF style and getting awesome matches out of it.)  WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s definitely some parallels to be made between those two.)  She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy…” shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. (2012 Scott sez:  Well it’s no AJ getting knocked down by Big Show, that’s for sure.)  I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?” in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into. – Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewards” his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. (2012 Scott sez:  Your future Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen!) And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. (2012 Scott sez:  We kinda sorta got one with Trish v. Mickie) Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!” So there you go, all caught up. – WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Back in, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally Challenged” or “Vince Russo” or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? (2012 Scott sez:  That seemed excessively angry just to set up a Vince Russo punchline.  And does anyone still give a crap about Bill Maher?) Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. (2012 Scott sez:  I hear Chris Jericho was a big fan of it, though) HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For Dummies” book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. (2012 Scott sez:  I ended up buying that book in a discount bin years later for $1.  Still not worth it.)  HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “Hmmmm” right about now. (2012 Scott sez:  Nothing to that one, of course.)  Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle…and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds a tad high to me considering the generally disappointing nature of their feud, but it was a hell of a match and actually started Angle down the road to becoming a badass.)  Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14…or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you out” for a bit. (2012 Scott sez:  I was somewhat amused that they actually wrote that mechanic into the Rumble match in the videogames recently, as you put the guy onto the ropes and then play a button-mashing minigame to eliminate him.)  Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock…no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, he never really got back down to the 1999 weight they were shooting for with him, no matter how much they nagged and nearly fired him over it.)  Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign.(2012 Scott sez:  So weird how things progressed so quickly from there.  Wonder why Haku didn’t stick around for the Invasion, anyway?) Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles. – Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? (2012 Scott sez:  Debra, as it turned out.)  Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane…THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d go up to ****, actually.  Hell of a Rumble, with some major league firepower and a situation where you legitimately had no idea if either Rock or Austin was going to win.)  The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. (2012 Scott sez:  Yup.  Not only that, but Austin’s heel turn came AFTER the title win and marked the end of their peak as a company.)  I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me. At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here. Thumbs way up.  (2012 Scott sez:  This one gets forgotten a lot, even by me.  Great show.)  

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2001

The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001 – Live from New Orleans, LA. – Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER. – Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von…GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Plus it also set up the first ever TLC match at Wrestlemania X-7, so there’s that going on too.)  Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the s--- out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense. (2012 Scott sez:  It’s always bugged me that people are supposedly highly-trained athletes and they can’t even make it up a damn ladder in less than 30 seconds.  The same thing is even built right into the videogame versions as well.  This match, however, ruled hard, and features the famous Liontamer ladder spot.  Benoit was on quite the roll in 2001 as far as adjusting to the WWF style and getting awesome matches out of it.)  WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s definitely some parallels to be made between those two.)  She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy…” shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. (2012 Scott sez:  Well it’s no AJ getting knocked down by Big Show, that’s for sure.)  I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?” in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into. – Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewards” his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. (2012 Scott sez:  Your future Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen!) And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. (2012 Scott sez:  We kinda sorta got one with Trish v. Mickie) Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!” So there you go, all caught up. – WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Back in, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally Challenged” or “Vince Russo” or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? (2012 Scott sez:  That seemed excessively angry just to set up a Vince Russo punchline.  And does anyone still give a crap about Bill Maher?) Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. (2012 Scott sez:  I hear Chris Jericho was a big fan of it, though) HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For Dummies” book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. (2012 Scott sez:  I ended up buying that book in a discount bin years later for $1.  Still not worth it.)  HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “Hmmmm” right about now. (2012 Scott sez:  Nothing to that one, of course.)  Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle…and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds a tad high to me considering the generally disappointing nature of their feud, but it was a hell of a match and actually started Angle down the road to becoming a badass.)  Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14…or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you out” for a bit. (2012 Scott sez:  I was somewhat amused that they actually wrote that mechanic into the Rumble match in the videogames recently, as you put the guy onto the ropes and then play a button-mashing minigame to eliminate him.)  Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock…no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, he never really got back down to the 1999 weight they were shooting for with him, no matter how much they nagged and nearly fired him over it.)  Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign.(2012 Scott sez:  So weird how things progressed so quickly from there.  Wonder why Haku didn’t stick around for the Invasion, anyway?) Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles. – Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? (2012 Scott sez:  Debra, as it turned out.)  Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane…THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d go up to ****, actually.  Hell of a Rumble, with some major league firepower and a situation where you legitimately had no idea if either Rock or Austin was going to win.)  The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. (2012 Scott sez:  Yup.  Not only that, but Austin’s heel turn came AFTER the title win and marked the end of their peak as a company.)  I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me. At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here. Thumbs way up.  (2012 Scott sez:  This one gets forgotten a lot, even by me.  Great show.)  

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2001

The SK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2001 – Live from New Orleans, LA. – Your hosts are JIM BY GOD ROSS and JERRY THE BY GOD KING LAWLER. – Earlier tonight on Heat, Lo Down beat Kaientai in a match to determine which of the four would enter the Royal Rumble.Opening match, WWF tag team titles: Edge & Christian v. The Dudley Boyz. Brawl to start. Dudleyz quickly take over on Christian. D-Von gets an elbow for two. Buh Buh’s elbowdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. D-Von takes a cheapshot from the outside and gets suplexed to play brother-in-peril. Edge neckbreaker gets two, and we HIT THE CHINLOCK to slow things down. D-Von rams them into each other and rolls Edge up for two. Conchairto, but D-Von ducks it, and makes the hot tag to Buh Buh. Hotshot for Edge, full nelson drop for Christian. They hit the Wassup Drop on Edge, and D-Von…GETS THE TABLE. Whoops, Christian is there to prevent it and they brawl as Buh Buh rolls up a distracted Edge for two. They try 3D on Christian, but Edge spears Buh Buh as Christian DDTs D-Von. Edge and Christian try their own version of the Wassup Drop, but Buh Buh rolls Christian onto the bottom and he takes the headbutt to the nads, leaving Edge alone with the Dudleyz for 3D, and we have NEW champions at 10:10. Well, they had to job the champs here, because if they won this match then it would have been the New Age Outlaws situation all over again, where the champs are SO dominant that only a super-team like Rockertaker can beat them. This match, though, was VERY good and got the crowd right fired up. ***1/2 (2012 Scott sez:  Plus it also set up the first ever TLC match at Wrestlemania X-7, so there’s that going on too.)  Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Chris Jericho. Jericho gets a clothesline and some wicked CANADIAN VIOLENCE in the corner to start. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but Jericho rolls into the Walls of Jericho. Eh, that spot is played. Benoit posts him and hits a shoulderbreaker, and Jericho comes back with a forearm. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Benoit moves out of the way. They head for the ladder, but Benoit sends him headfirst to the post and grabs the ladder. Jericho goes to the stairs for good measure and Benoit sets up the ladder for the first try. Jericho stops him with an electric chair drop off the ladder. Before you even write me, an electric chair drop is where a guy is sitting on your shoulders in chicken-fight position, and you fall back, dropping the guy on his back. Jericho grabs the ladder and rams it into Benoit’s head, and then again to the abs. He sets the ladder onto the top turnbuckle, but Benoit whips him into it to return the favor. Jericho bails and Benoit chases with a tope suicida, but Jericho absolutely DESTROYS him with a chairshot in mid-air. Benoit is insane to do that spot. Jericho suplexes him on the railing and tries to ride the ladder down onto him, but Benoit moves and rams the ladder into Jericho’s face for fun. Back in, Benoit gets a lariat and retrieves the ladder. He rams Jericho into it, shoulderfirst in the corner, but a second try is reversed. Dropkick puts Benoit down, and Jericho crotches him in the ladder’s rungs in the corner. They both fall backwards, with the ladder on top of them. Jericho grabs it first, but Benoit dropkicks it on him and hits a backdrop suplex. He puts the ladder on the top, but Jericho whips him into it again, then see-saws the ladder into Benoit’s jaw. Jericho pushes the ladder at Benoit and missile dropkicks it into him, then climbs for the belt. Benoit suplexes him right out of the ring! Yeah, that’s some quality Alberta-grade hurting. Benoit climbs, but Jericho pushes him backwards so he’s balanced on the top on his lower back, and then applies the Walls of Jericho on top of the ladder! Big reaction from the crowd for that one. Benoit kicks the ladder over with his last bit of energy and we have a double-KO spot. Jericho gets the ladder first and flattens Benoit, but Benoit yanks him off it and puts him in the Crossface on the way down to further damage the shoulder. Back to the post, but Jericho hotshots him onto the ladder. Jericho rams him into the corner with the ladder, and they both climb it. Jericho falls off, but Benoit misses the swandive headbutt from the top of the ladder. Jericho tries putting the ladder right ONTO Benoit to hold him down, but Benoit powers it off and pushes it over. He climbs, but Jericho gets a chair and goes to town, knocking Benoit silly, and then right out of the ring, leaving Jericho free to climb the ladder (bad shoulder and all) and claim his fourth Intercontinental title at 18:48. Nothing does my heart good like two Canadians pounding the s--- out of each other with hardware. ****3/4 Would have been a bit higher with a faster pace and less of the slow-climb nonsense. (2012 Scott sez:  It’s always bugged me that people are supposedly highly-trained athletes and they can’t even make it up a damn ladder in less than 30 seconds.  The same thing is even built right into the videogame versions as well.  This match, however, ruled hard, and features the famous Liontamer ladder spot.  Benoit was on quite the roll in 2001 as far as adjusting to the WWF style and getting awesome matches out of it.)  WWF Women’s title: Ivory v. Chyna. Chyna goes all Ultimate Warrior to start, treating poor Ivory like a jobber and bumping her all over the place. She stomps a mudhole, then sends her over the top. Into the crowd, Chyna press-slams Ivory back to ringside and back in we go for a crappy-looking powerslam. Steven Richards comes in and is forced to sell for Joanie Hellwig, too. (2012 Scott sez:  There’s definitely some parallels to be made between those two.)  She goes for the HANDSPRING OF DOOM, but the bitter hand of irony strikes her down, as the shock of actually making physical contact on one of her moves causes a relapse of that miraculously healed neck injury, and Ivory gets the pin at 3:33. So the WWF is trying to tell me here that she can do three backflips with a bad neck, but brushing against Ivory causes a stinger? DUD They haul her ass out on the stretcher, with Ross doing his whole “Fans, this is a SHOOT, and a tragedy…” shtick just to cheapen the impact even more the next time a REAL injury occurs and then the muckity-mucks are forced to wonder why no one buys it. (2012 Scott sez:  Well it’s no AJ getting knocked down by Big Show, that’s for sure.)  I’m shocked Chyna didn’t try to sell the EMTs a copy of her book on the way out. Hey, remember Droz? Apparently the WWF doesn’t. We were personally hoping for them to load her into the ambulance, only to see the Undertaker turning around to go “WHERE TO, JOANIE?” in that menacing tone of his, but alas, it didn’t happen. Final note: I’d bring up the last time Jerry Lawler ran into the ring to check on the victim of a bad injury while Jim Ross got all choked up at ringside, but then I’d be forced to vomit all over my keyboard and point out what a socially diseased piece of garbage Vince McMahon really is under all the PR fluff for doing such an angle right after settling a multi-million dollar lawsuit and destroying an entire family in the process. And that would just break up the great groove this show is getting into. – Just to catch y’all up on some stuff, there’s about a million backstage skits throughout the show, the point of which are to establish Drew Carey is at the show, and he hit on Trish Stratus at the urging of Stephanie, and Vince is thus pissed at him and “rewards” his loyalty to the WWF by offering him a slot in the Royal Rumble. Drew runs into Kane while changing and makes a wisecrack, and meanwhile Vince then informs Lo Down that Drew has their spot in the match. (2012 Scott sez:  Your future Hall of Famer, ladies and gentlemen!) And Trish and Steph hate each other. A lot. I still think if the WWF really wants to hit the sleaze-merchant jackpot, they’ll have them start a torrid love affair with each other (I assume Trish would be the femme), but I guess the world isn’t ready for a lesbian angle yet. (2012 Scott sez:  We kinda sorta got one with Trish v. Mickie) Speaking of lesbians, I was watching a crime-analysis show on TLC (normally the domain of Bill Kurtis on A&E) that was hosted by crime novelist Ed McBain, talking about the famous Lizzy Borden trial (and acquital). After bandying about several conspiracy theories about who REALLY killed the Borden family, McBain put forth his own theory: Lizzy in fact did it, because she was a raging homo inside and got caught in bed with the maid one day, thus prompting her father to write her out of the will and triggering Lizzy’s murderous rampage with a hatchet. I hear Jerry Springer wants to exhume the bodies of everyone involved and have them on an upcoming show: “My Lesbian Daughter is Sleeping With the Maid and Murdered Me With a Hatchet!” So there you go, all caught up. – WWF title match: Kurt Angle v. HHH. Wristlock sequence to start, and Angle gets a hiptoss. HHH bails. Back in, HHH pounds him down in the corner, but Angle backdrops him and goes back to the arm. Three suplexes get two. Brawl outside, which HHH gets the best of. Back in, HHH drop toeholds Angle into a Native American deathlock. This political correctness stuff is going too far. I hear Bill Maher got in trouble for comparing the mentally retarded to dogs. Now, I can see where certain pinko liberalists might get their panties in a knot over this comparison, and certainly I don’t think people should go start referring to them as dogs in an off-hand manner, but can anyone honestly tell me whose good is being served by standing up for the feelings of people who probably wouldn’t even be watching the show in the first place, and likely wouldn’t get the analogy if they heard it? And is there some scientific inaccuracy here? I mean, the truth hurts, but there are some VERY smart dogs out there on the average, and it’s not exactly an unfair analogy for Maher to state that, like a dog, the mentally retarded people he has known had limited intellect, but were loving and loyal. I mean, what, if he had compared them to a cuter animal it would have been okay? And where are these same tree-hugging morons to stand up for truth, justice and the American Way when someone lumps all the wrestling fans together as knuckle-dragging Neanderthals on a national broadcast and laughs about it? Maybe the energy spent protecting us plebes from free thought would be better spent improving the conditions and treatment in the mental hospitals and institutions where most of those afflicted with mental retardation are sent to rot, hmm? Or is just easier to pretend that they have no problem and are happier with a child’s IQ and no hope for surviving past 50, as long as we call them “Mentally Challenged” or “Vince Russo” or whatever the PC name is this week? Ah well, the world is going to hell, what can ya do? (2012 Scott sez:  That seemed excessively angry just to set up a Vince Russo punchline.  And does anyone still give a crap about Bill Maher?) Oh yeah, the match. Hunter gets a legwhip, but Angle gives him an enzuigiri on a second try and gets two. HHH goes back to the knee as the announcers’ conversation veers to Andy Kaufman and how little money Man on the Moon made. (2012 Scott sez:  I hear Chris Jericho was a big fan of it, though) HHH bails, but an attempt to post Angle from the outside backfires. Brawl outside, HHH meets the stairs. Back in, Angle misses a blind charge and gets posted, and HHH adds a chairshot to the knee for good measure. He drops Angle kneefirst on the stairs, then back for a clip. He pounds the knee, ala Ric Flair. I apologize in advance to any HHH advocates out there for comparing him to an aging, semi-retired ex-star currently wrestling in WCW. I further apologize in advance to any Flair advocates out there for comparing him to a gassed up, egomanical manipulator with a limited moveset and bad music. If, in the body of the previous two apologies I have offended either HHH or Flair advocates while apologizing to the opposite number, I apologize in advance also. Man, this political correctness stuff is complicated. Is there some kind of “Spirtual Enlightenment For Dummies” book out there I can brush up on so I too can find my inner child, move to Florida and vote Democrat? I hear Chyna’s book is a good start. On second thought, I think I’d rather just poke my own eyes out. (2012 Scott sez:  I ended up buying that book in a discount bin years later for $1.  Still not worth it.)  HHH goes into a weird deathlock variation, and Angle fights out, but walks into a facebuster. HHH slaps a figure-four on him and uses the ropes, but Trish gets involved and suddenly a HUGE catfight with Stephanie erupts, drawing about 100x more heat than the match. They’re impressively banging each other around outside the ring and seem to ready to move onto clawing each others’ eyes out, but Vince struts out to stop them. They continue fighting right around him, drawing a big pop from the crowd. Vince finally resorts to putting Trish over his shoulder and carrying her out, but Steph knocks them over and goes to town again, before everyone eventually makes it back to the dressing room. Everyone suddenly remembers the match ongoing, as Angle gets a small package for two. He shoves HHH to the post on a figure-four attempt, and they slug it out. DDT gets two. Atomic drop & german suplex get two. Russian legsweep sets up a trip to the top, which HHH prevents via a Razor’s Edge (!!!) for two. The conspiracist in me would go “Hmmmm” right about now. (2012 Scott sez:  Nothing to that one, of course.)  Pedigree attempt is blocked with a slingshot, which is in turn blocked by HHH, which in turn accidentally countered by Angle with a lowblow. Moonsault gets two for Angle. Hunter dumps him and the ref is bumped. Hunter posts Angle…and goes to the top? Angle armdrags him off, no ref. Angle goes to help him up, but the poor sap gets bumped AGAIN. HHH grabs the belt, but Angle meets him with a belly-to-belly. HHH comes back with the Pedigree, no ref. Steve Austin runs in, tosses the ref back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER and Angle gets the pin to retain at 24:12. See, now that’s the finish that Austin-Angle from RAW should have had. Although a clean finish on a PPV is infinitely preferable, especially when Angle is turning into Honky Tonk Man 2000 with all the cheap wins and frequent non-title jobs. Overbooking stupidity and crowd apathy aside, this was much better worked than the Unforgiven match. ***3/4  (2012 Scott sez:  Sounds a tad high to me considering the generally disappointing nature of their feud, but it was a hell of a match and actually started Angle down the road to becoming a badass.)  Royal Rumble: Jeff Hardy is #1, Bull Buchanan is #2. Bull pounds Jeff, who comes back with a headscissors. Jeff escapes a press slam, but gets pounded in the corner. They to put each other out, as Matt Hardy is #3. They bounce Bull in short order. Matt and Jeff go at it, as Jeff hits a jawbreaker and tries to put him out. Faarooq is #4, and he misses the Dominator and takes the Twist of Fate/Swanton finisher and goes over the top quickly after. Matt then dumps Jeff, who sneaks back in under the ropes. They square off again as Drew Carey is #5, and hangs out around the ring for a couple of minutes. The Hardyz eliminate each other and Drew celebrates. Until Kane comes in at #6, at which point he craps himself. He tries a bribe, then resorts to cowering until Raven comes at #7, allowing Drew the chance to graciously eliminate himself and get the hell out. Kane kills Raven, so he bails and starts tossing weapons into the ring in desperation. Al Snow is #8, as he nails Kane with the bowling ball and hits the SEVEN-TEN SPLIT OF DEATH on Raven. Raven & Snow put aside their differences to pound on Kane with trashcans, and ram him headfirst into one. Perry Saturn is #9, as he joins in and makes it 3-on-1. Kane fights them off, but a Raven sleeper puts him down. Steve Blackman is #10, and he blows the entire plan by attacking the other guys and allowing everyone to pair off. Grandmaster Sexay is #11, and he gets some shots in before Kane whacks him so hard with a trashcan that he flies right over the top. Kane then dumps Snow, Raven, Blackman and Saturn for good measure, ending the hardcore segment and leaving him alone. Honky Tonk Man is #12, and he stops to thank the crowd and sing his song. Kane of course destroys him and tosses him out. Funny stuff. Rock is #13. He lays the smack down, but can’t toss Kane. Kane pounds him and hits the big boot. Goodfather is #14…or, I mean, he WAS #14, leaving in about that many seconds via the Rock. Kane suplexes Rock and chokes him out, then hits a sideslam. Tazz is #15, and lasts even less than Goodfather. Kane continues beating on Rock. Bradshaw is #16. He’s more than happy to go after Kane, Rock and anyone else. Rock hits a spinebuster, then Kane lariats him. Albert is #17, as everyone pairs off and plays “You lay on the top rope and I’ll try to push you out” for a bit. (2012 Scott sez:  I was somewhat amused that they actually wrote that mechanic into the Rumble match in the videogames recently, as you put the guy onto the ropes and then play a button-mashing minigame to eliminate him.)  Hardcore Holly is #18, and takes the brunt of the punishment. Rock dumps Kane, but can’t get him off the apron. K-Kwik is #19 and looks lost. Match slows down a LOT here as the ring is filling up with too much deadwood. Val Venis is #20 and adds nothing. William Regal is #21, match still drags. Test is #22 and he tosses Regal, but there’s about 10 guys in there and nothing’s going on. Big Show makes his return at #23, which must indicate how many boxes of Ho-Hos he ate that morning, because he’s still pretty goddamned fat and slow. Remind me not to look up OVW for any weight-training solutions. He disposes of Test and K-Kwik, then hands out chokeslams like candy. Albert! Bradshaw! Venis! Holly! Kane! Rock…no wait, Rock in fact blocks it and dumps Big Show. (2012 Scott sez:  Yeah, he never really got back down to the 1999 weight they were shooting for with him, no matter how much they nagged and nearly fired him over it.)  Crash Holly is #24, as Big Show drags Rock out and chokeslams him through the table. Oh, GOODIE, another Big Show-Rock feud. Maybe we can get another four-way at Wrestlemania, with Austin taking Mick Foley’s place. Wouldn’t that be KEEN? Everyone suddenly gets smart and goes after Kane, to no avail. Undertaker is #25, and thank god because maybe he’ll thin out all the extra bodies. Bradshaw, Albert, Crash, Hardcore and Venis all exit stage left, leaving the Brothers Grim alone to compare hair-care notes. Scotty 2 Hotty has the misfortune of being #26, and he dies without putting up much of a fuss. The crowd, possibly expecting him to make a big comeback and hit a double-Worm on both guys, seems more bummed than usual to see him tossed. Rock struggles back in as Steve Austin is #27, and right on cue HHH runs out and beats the bejesus out of him. Billy Gunn is #28, and he holds off UT & Kane as the refs drag Hunter away from Austin. UT gets a DDT on Rock, and THE MONSTERMENG (re-dubbed Haku) is #29. You know, it’s so funny and darkly ironic when WCW spends tons of money smugly stealing all of Paul Heyman’s uncontracted talent, only to put a singles title on a guy with a day-to-day working deal and then expect the WWF NOT to make him a solid offer to jump ship at the earliest possible opportunity. Strike One on Uncle Eric right off the bat. Not a good sign.(2012 Scott sez:  So weird how things progressed so quickly from there.  Wonder why Haku didn’t stick around for the Invasion, anyway?) Anyhoo, he blitzes UT and Kane, but gets double-teamed, and everyone pairs off. Rikishi is #30, and we’re one sibling away from an Islanders reunion, and two away from a Headshrinker reunion. Throw Barbarian in there, and you’ve reunited the Headshinkers 2.0 AND the Faces of Fear at the same time. Spooky, huh? Rikishi stops to brawl with a bloodied Austin, and this awakes the giant. Austin enters the match and beats the hell out of Billy Gunn, then dumps Haku. Rock goes out, under the ropes, and back in again. Rikishi superkicks Undertaker out, nonchalantly. He tries the same approach with Rock on a banzai drop, but gets dumped over and out for his troubles. – Final Four: Steve Austin, The Rock, Kane, Billy Gunn. Gee, I wonder who goes first here? Austin disposes of Rockabilly soon enough, leaving Kane to take a breather and THE MEGAPOWERS EXPLODE! So I guess Kane is Akeem and Undertaker is Big Bossman? But who’s Elizabeth? (2012 Scott sez:  Debra, as it turned out.)  Slugfest and the crowd is torn. Rock Bottom is blocked, KICK WHAM STUNNER. Kane goes after Austin, but gets Thesz-pressed. Austin walks into a Rock Bottom, and Rock tosses Kane…THROUGH the ropes, so no go. Austin and Rock pound each other, but Kane sneaks up to dump both, only getting Rock out in the process (!!!). Man, there goes my sure-fire pick. Chokeslam for Austin and Kane gets a chair, but it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER again, and a bunch of chairshots send Kane to the floor at 61:38 after an admirable 55-minute performance, and Steve Austin will be YOUR challenger for the WWF title at Wrestlemania 17. Good Rumble, with a bunch of very noticeable slow spots. ***1/2  (2012 Scott sez:  I’d go up to ****, actually.  Hell of a Rumble, with some major league firepower and a situation where you legitimately had no idea if either Rock or Austin was going to win.)  The Bottom Line: Everyone in the entire world save the WWF seems to know that Austin turning heel, winning the title, and losing it to Rock at WM is the way to sell out the building and make billions on the PPV, but they seem to going about it in the opposite direction, building to another Rocky job to Austin. (2012 Scott sez:  Yup.  Not only that, but Austin’s heel turn came AFTER the title win and marked the end of their peak as a company.)  I would personally question Austin as a long-term babyface given his health issues, but if they have confidence in the guy, that’s good enough for me. At any rate, booking qualms aside, this was an AWESOME PPV, the best they’ve done since Summerslam 2000. We’ll ignore the Women’s title debacle and point out the sheer awesomeness of all the other matches, and I heartily recommend ordering the replay and watching Benoit and Jericho do inhumane things to each other with a ladder. Good effort all around here. Thumbs way up.  (2012 Scott sez:  This one gets forgotten a lot, even by me.  Great show.)  

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy S---” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy S---” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.

The SmarK Royal Rumble Countdown: 2000

The Netcop Rant for Royal Rumble 2000 – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are JR & The KingOpening match: Kurt Angle v. Tazz. I guess that Byte This lied to us. I’m so crushed. (2012 Scott sez:  That would be the WWF’s internet call-in show thing, where they basically said “Angle’s mystery opponent isn’t Tazz.”) Crowd pops monster for Tazz, so I guess they were expecting this one. Tazz dumps him quickly and they fight on the floor, with Angle getting a suplex in the aisle on Tazz as the crowd chants “ECW”. Back in the ring, Angle gets a belly-to-belly, but goes to the top and gets suplexed off for two. German suplex gets two for angle. Tazz hits a released german suplex of his own, then the head-and-arm Tazzplex and T-bone Tazzplex to knock Angle silly, and the Tazzmission finishes at 3:16 to end Angle’s undefeated streak. Short but got the point across. **3/4 Angle does a stretcher job for good measure. (2012 Scott sez:  And then Angle became a giant star and Tazz did nothing.)  Table match: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz. (2012 Scott sez:  Oh yeah, the gimmick where I replaced all the “s” with “z”.  Ho ho.)  Lots of insane spotz here to start, as Jeff hits a plancha onto Buh Buh, but tries the rail run and splatz into a well-placed table. A ladder and a chair get involved, and the Hardyz get the first table breaking by doing yet another insane spot, with Jeff coming off the top of the ladder and Matt flying out of nowhere at the same time for a double splash onto Buh Buh. Crowd chants “Holy S---” for that one. It really has to be seen to be appreciated. They go for part two on D-Von, but he escapez. The Dudleyz then one-up them by bringing two setz of ring stairz into the ring, then setting up a table on them, then superbombing Matt through the table. Man, if his head had been a foot back, he’d be dead. That’z just insane. So if either D-Von or Jeff go through a table now, it’z over. Two tablez get set up in the aisleway under the taxi that looms over the entranceway, and Matt is put on the top one. Kind of a dumb idea, since Matt was already “eliminated” anyway. Buh Buh endz up battling Jeff on the entranceway itself, and takes a Nestea Plunge backwards, through the top table. Matt movez in time to get off, takez out D-Von and putz him on the surviving table, and Jeff doez the senton bomb, off the entranceway, through D-Von on the table for the win at 10:17. See what happenz you stick the Dudleyz in there with an actual talented team instead of a pair of useless brawlerz like in ECW? ***1/2, which is just about the highest rating I’ve ever given a Dudleyz match. (2012 Scott sez:  And then the next month, the repackaging was complete with the Duds winning the tag titles from the New Age Outlaws and kicking off the greatest run of their career.  I would certainly go on to give much higher ratings to many more Dudley Boyz matches.  Of course, my ongoing addiction to Smackdown v. RAW 2011 has me annoyed at the mere mention of tables matches these days…)  Royal Rumble swimsuit contest. The contenders: Terri, Jackie, Luna, Ivory, BB and the Kat. Ivory, after much prodding, reveals a conservative teal bikini. **1/2 Terri is wearing the fleshtone suit she had at Summerslam 96. Always a classic, especially when she leans over all the ropes for effect. ***1/2 Jackie has her teeny string bikini from last year’s Fully Loaded, but really who likes Jackie? **3/4 Luna refuses to participate. DUD B.B. has a rather dull red number. She looks different, too, for some reason. **1/4 The Kat has…Saran Wrap. Very tasteful. *** Then the worst (and I mean THE WORST) happens, as Mae Young comes out as a late entrant and exposes herself, and a couple of times the big red “censored” sign isn’t fast enough to cover it up. (2012 Scott sez:  It was just a prosthetic boob, in case you’re wondering.)  AAAAAAAAAAH! MY EYES! I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to conceive children now. (2012 Scott sez:  My daughter says that I was.) Mae is then declared the unanimous winner. This must be someone’s idea of a colossal rib. Let’s just never speak of this EVER AGAIN, shall we? – Intercontinental title match: Chris Jericho v. Chyna v. Hardcore Holly. (2012 Scott sez:  Who’s bright idea was it to get Bob Holly involved in this shitty angle, anyway?)  Big slapfest to start, then Chyna gets tossed and Holly goes with Jericho. Y2J quickly gets the Walls of Jericho, but Chyna saves. Holly goes out, Jericho & Chyna go. Holly & Chyna fight on the floor, and Chris springboards onto Holly. Back in, Holly & Jericho go. Chris ends up on the floor again and Chyna gets the Pedigree on Holly for two. Holly & Jericho do a Rockerplex on Chyna, which gives Jericho a two-count. More fighting on the top rope results in Chyna superplexing Holly, who cradles her for two. Chyna chairshots Holly and tries her own Walls of Jericho (The Great Wall of Chyna?) (2012 Scott sez:  That was a finisher name just BEGGING to be put to use) but Jericho breaks it up and Lionsaults her for the pin and the undisputed title at 7:30. Thank god that feud is over. Match dragged a bit, but was otherwise solid. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez:  I was pretty bummed that Jericho got jobbed to Kurt Angle the very next month, but again, Angle was the guy who made them money in the long run, so hindsight says they were right.)  – The Rock says that if he can get by Crash Holly and Mosh, he’ll have a shot at winning the Rumble. New catchphrase: “Get yourself a tall glass of shut up juice”. (2012 Scott sez: Yeah, that one didn’t go anywhere.)  WWF tag team title match: The New Age Outlaws v. The Acolytes. Major league ass-whupping from the Acolytes to start, then the ref gets bumped about two minutes in. Eh? X-Pac runs in, Billy Gunn gets the fameasser and pins Bradshaw at 2:35 to retain. I imagine we’ll see a rematch on RAW because this was snipped for time reasons. ½* – WWF title match: HHH v. Cactus Jack. Cactus gets a quick start, so HHH bails and grabs a chair. Jack gets it and legdrops it on his face. Out to the floor, where HHH gets suplexed onto a pair of pallets. And a garbage can. And onto the stairs. Note to self: Don’t piss off Mick Foley. Cactus searches under the ring and finds a barbed-wire covered 2×4. The ref gets in his way, so HHH steals it and delivers some shots with it. Ouch. It ends up at ringside with Spanish announcers. Jack hits a double-arm DDT and then retrieves his 2×4, which has been miraculously re-wrapped with barbed-wire that looks suspiciously rubberized. Well, I don’t expect anyone to rip themselves apart with real barbed wire, but it looks silly to have different-looking weapons like that. He drops an elbow with it, and then bludgeons HHH with it, drawing some good juice. It’s a MANLY blade job, turning HHH’s blond hair red. Must have eaten his aspirin before the match. (2012 Scott sez:  These days, HHH probably takes the aspirin anyway because it makes good health sense, you young whippersnappers.)  Jack tries the piledriver on the table, but HHH reverses. Back in the ring, and Jack then reverses the Pedigree, slingshots HHH into the post, then rams him face-first into the barbed wire. It gets two. Back out, and Jack pulls an older spot out of mothballs, taking a hiptoss into the stairs, right on his knee. Back in and HHH works on that knee, then finds a pair of handcuffs at the announce table. Oh, lord, it’s 99 all over again. HHH charges with the stairs, but Jack drop toeholds him and HHH goes face-first into them. HHH finds a chair and starts doing a Rocky job on him, so Jack retreats outside as HHH closes in for the kill. Then, ironically, the Rock himself emerges with his own chair and bashes HHH’s brains in. A cop unlocks the cuffs for Jack and now the crowd is just going BERZERK. Jack stalks him back to ringside and delivers the piledriver on the Spanish table successfully this time, but the table doesn’t break. Man, that looked VICIOUS. Jack then finds a jumbo bag of thumbtacks and scatters them in the ring. Stephanie joins us at ringside. Cactus takes a backdrop in the tacks, and HHH gets the Pedigree for…TWO? Crowd starts chanting “Foley”, but Jack walks into another Pedigree, ON THE TACKS, and that’s enough to finish it at 26:48. Oh. My. God. What an AWESOME brawl. I have new respect for HHH’s brawling abilities after this brutal war. ***** I know I’m probably opening a huge can of worms with that rating, but after that, they deserve it. (2012 Scott sez:  Nah, this one’s pretty much universally rated at *****, outside of Meltzer who had it at ****1/2 just to be different I guess.)  Royal Rumble: The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which is tolerable. D-Lo Brown is #1, Grandmaster Sexay is #2. Quick start as D-Lo tries a running powerbomb, but Sexay reverses to a rana. Mosh is #3. Kaientai, who along with the Mean Street Posse were taken out of the Rumble on Heat, suddenly storm the ring and attempt to get in by force. They are quickly tossed. Christian is #4. Rikishi is #5, and he clears the ring of everyone but Grandmaster Sexay. Uh oh. Scotty 2 Hotty (which seems to have become my own de facto nickname now thanks to their success) is #6, and tries to make peace by bringing Phatu’s sunglasses with him. So they stop to dance, getting a huge reaction from the crowd. Then, as Too Cool finish the number, Rikishi casually dumps both out. Just business, he says. (2012 Scott sez:  Awesome sequence right there.   Perfect use of the goofy comedy spot early in the Rumble, plus it establishes Rikishi as someone to be taken seriously.  Great stuff.)  Blackman is #7, and isn’t long for the match, leaving seconds later. Rikishi is so over that it’s frightening. If he stays motivated, he’ll be main eventing by Summerslam. (2012 Scott sez:  Unfortunately, he didn’t stay motivated, but he was still main eventing by the end of the year, in a manner of speaking.)  Viscera is #8, so we get the FAT BOY SHOWDOWN OF DOOM, which is won by Rikishi after three superkicks and a good shove out of the ring. Big Bossman is #9. He won’t get in, pissing off the crowd. Test is #10, and he gets him in. Bulldog is #11. Gangrel is #12. Kaientai hits the ring for comic relief again, and when Taka goes out he takes a nasty bump to the floor, hitting his head on the mats. This would be replayed several times during the match as a morbid running gag. (2012 Scott sez:  Not that funny back then, even less funny now.)    Edge is #13. He teases a couple of eliminations as Rikishi buttdrops Bossman. Mr. Bob Backlund is a surprise entrant at #14 (subbing for Thrasher by process of elimination) and gets a big pop. Still looks good, too. Everyone gangs up on Rikishi and dumps him, and the crowd is PISSED. Jericho is #15 to a big pop (all the big stars were inserted into the Rumble on Heat to shore up the star power). He dropkicks Backlund out. Crash Holly is #16. Chyna is #17 and she and Jericho eliminate each other. Faarooq is #18, and now the Mean Street Posse act as comic relief, charging the ring and going after him. Bossman tosses Faarooq as a result. Road Dogg is #19, and he soon adopts a smart position: Grab the bottom rope and hold on for dear life. (2012 Scott sez:  Insert Pat Patterson joke here.)  Al Snow is #20. Crash almost goes out about 10 times. Road Dogg pops up long enough to eliminate Bulldog. Val Venis is #21, and he goes for Test. Funaki makes a solo run-in and gets dumped. Prince Albert is #22, as Edge goes out via Venis. Hardcore Holly is #23, and we’re all just awaiting a showdown with Crash. It never comes. Rock is #24, tossing the Bossman to say “howdy”. Mr. Ass is #25. Rock DDTs Crash and dumps him. Big Show is #26, and boy is he EVER getting over as a heel despite the WWF’s insistence to the contrary. (2012 Scott sez:  I’m confusing myself here.  Was he supposed to be a babyface at that point and the crowd was turning on him?  Was I being super-sarcastic?  It’s hard to tell sometimes, even for me, and I WROTE THIS!)  Test and Gangrel go in short order. Bradshaw is #27, and the Posse hit the ring again and orchestrate his elimination. Show continues kicking ass. Kane is #28, complete with pyro. He tosses Val Venis as an afterthought. Godfather is #29 as Kane sends Prince Albert home. Funaki tries it again, no luck. And X-Pac is of course #30 to round out the field. Snow sends Holly to the floor. Show tosses Godfather. Rock dumps Snow. Road Dogg laughs at him and Mr. Ass dumps HIM out. The Outlaws argue and Kane dumps Billy on his ass outside the ring. So we’re down to… – Final Four: Kane, Rock, X-Pac and Big Show. Rock tosses X-Pac nearly into the fifth row, but the refs are tied up with the Outlaws so they don’t see it. Kane and Big Show choke each other, leading to a Kaneziguri to break and a slam. Wow. X-Pac hits a spinkick from behind on Kane, however, sending him out. Big Show then launches X-Pac to the floor for real. So we’ve got Rock v. Big Show. Rock gets a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow, but Show comes back with a chokeslam to MONSTER heel heat. We have a winning storyline for him! Show casually carries Rock around and dumps him out, but Rock hangs onto the top rope and Show goes tumbling out, giving Rock the win at 51:48. Best Rumble in years. **** The Bottom Line: If you didn’t order the show, ORDER THE REPLAY. This was the best PPV the WWF has put on in a long, LONG, time. A great, great show with only one glaring low point and a super-hot crowd. Thumbs way up.