QOTD:#55 – Summerfest….err….uh….SummerSlam

Back from vacation, ready to go coming off watching Summerslam 2014…..in response to yesterday’s question, I would say pretty much every good heel from the 80s (I was a huge mark), but more than anybody I would say Ole & Arn Anderson. What a mean couple of guys…..nowadays, I can definitely appreciate their heel work in the 80s

Today’s Question: I’ll keep it short and sweet today…..What would you say is the high point, and what is the low point from the Summer Slam 2014 PPV Special Event?

BoD SummerFest

This has nothing to do with the WWE

Before the show, GM Bayless and Assistant GM Justice Gray are backstage. Gray alerts Bayless that there has been a mix up and the top timekeeper in the business, Mister E Mahn, is not here tonight as he is at the “American Timekeeper Awards” show. Bayless is pissed that he was not reminded of this and says they will settle for BoD NXT timekeeper Blake Littlehand instead. In the background, Nick Piers was seen running in and out of the GM’s office.
Best of 5 Series, Match #5
DBSM vs. Night 81
The finals of a Best of 5, tied 2-2! Who would’ve guessed? The answer: Everyone. Ref rings the bell, and the two go at it with intense chain wrestling, showing ability above that of your average C-Lister. Night tries escaping an arm wringer with a hook kick, but DBSM counters into a Clinching Sla-NO! Night counters into an Arubian Armbar, only for DBSM to float over and pin Night’s shoulders down! 1….2….NO! Night kicks out of a scary early predicament. DBSM goes for a Kamisori Suplex right awy, but Night counters into a No Mercy headscissors takedown, only for DBSM to land on his feet and try a superpowered arm dra-NO! Night counters into a Sleeper, but DBSM elbows out and we have a stalemate, as the crowd pretends to care about the lowercarders! The two rivals chain wrestle once more. Night gets the advantage, and looks for a Running Bulldog, only for DBSM to dealift him into a Backdrop Driver! 1….2….NO! Night kicks out. DBSM then takes advantage. Gordbuster! Rib and Back Breake-but Night shifts out of the backbreaker into a quick-fire DDT! 1….2….NO! Twisting Face Crusher! 1….2….NO! Flashbang Clothesline, but DBSM counters into an Underling Man Slam! 1….2….NO! The two wearily exchange strikes, until Night gains the upperhand and puts DBSM crotch-first on the tope rope with a Running Atomic Toss! Night then goes fro the Night Rider(Reverse Frankensteiner), only for DBSM to flip, land on his feet, and…..HE EATS A BLIND THRUST KICK FROM NIGHT! 1….2….NO! Everyone thought that was it! Night argues with the ref long enough to get DBSM some time to recover. Night whips DBSM into the ropes, tries a clothesline, only for DBSM to counter it into a Whirlwind Backslid-NO! Night again uses experience from a previous match to counter into a Jawbreaker, then runs off the ropes into a Sunset Flip! DBSM tries the same Bulldog Counter that brought him victory last week, but Night rolls out of that into an Achilles Lock! DBSM mulekicks Night to break, but Night takes that foot and transitions into a Chicago Crab! DBSM desperately grabs for the ropes, but Night wont budge, so DBSM elbows him several times in the kneecap! Night releases the hold as DBSM scrambles to his feet, but Night grabs DBSM quickly and tries a Blue Thunder Bo-the knee buckles! DBSM knees Night in the head, then hits a running knee to the face of a seated Night! Night’s in deep as DBSM signals for the end…..Full Monty(OwenDriver ’97)! 1….2…..3! DBSM wins the Best of 5 series displaying a truly unnecessary amount of countering!
As DBSM basks in victory, Biscuit appears on the ramp, and makes a motion of the championship belt around his waist! C-LIST FEUDS, BABEE!
10 Team Tag Team Battle Royal:
Curtzerker, Paul Meekin & White Thunder, THE RIPSHIT KILLERS, New Age British Bulldogs, The Drivers, Dancin’ Devin & Lil’ James, Bill Ray & Average Joe Everyman, Rockstar Gary & #1 Fan, Gosh Hopkins & Garth Holmberg, ?????
The rules arew simple: Once someone has been eliminated, there partner is gone as well. Everyone is in the ring awaiting the mystery team. And it appears someone is coming from the back of the crowd and it is……………..Nick Piers & Steve Ferrari of the Midcard Mafia!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They come into the ring and immediately eliminate Average Joe Everyman as the match is underway. The other members of The Administration come out to help but the MCM are too much for them to handle. Hopkins beats on Piers then charges at him but Piers backdrops him over the ropes and onto the floor, eliminating Gosh Hopkins. All sorts of action going on as the THE YETAAAAY is beating on Rockstar Gary in the corner. #1 Fan runs and jumps on the back of THE YETAAAY but gets thrown off and caught by ARRRRGH THE BARBARIAN and tossed over the ropes as #1 Fan has been eliminated. The New Age British Bulldogs are brawling with Curtzerker in the corner. Dancin’ Devin & Lil’ James are also brawling but this time with the Rybaxel of the BoD, Paul Meekin & White Thunder. Dean Andrews is near the ropes as Curtzerker tries to pull him over but all of a sudden come out WWF1987 and the true shooter of the BoD, Bobby, and they both eliminate Dean Andrews. I guess we have a new team in the BoD. Dan Selby comes out and there is a brawl taking place outside of the ring. THE RIPSHIT KILLLERS are now beating on the MCM. Lil’ James charges at theberzerker1 and clotheslines him against the ropes. He tries again but theberzerker uses his momentum to toss him over the ropes and eliminate Lil’ James and theberzerker keeps on yelling “HUSS, HUSS, HUSS” to the newest stereotype to join the BoD. Guess James and Devin will have to get funky backstage. The Drivers are beating on Meekzilla but that gets broke up by White Thunder, who tosses out Spicolli Driver. We are now down to the final four: Curtzerker, Meekin & Thunder, THE RIPSHIT KILLERS, and the Midcard Mafia. Thunder and Curtis Williams are having a chop battle in the corner as Steve Ferrari and Paul Meekin are fighting each other. Piers is fighting off theberzerker as THE RIPSHIT KILLERS are running around like lunatics! Ferrari tries to dump Meekin then gets help as THE RIPSHIT KILLERS run over and eliminate Paul Meekin. Curtzerker takes down Piers as THE RIPSHIT KILLERS have switched their focus to Ferrari. Curtzerker tries a double-team move but Piers reverses the Irish whip and sends Williams into theberzerker, stunning each guy. Piers then runs over and uses a somersault dropkick and that eliminates Curtis Williams as the final two teams are THE RIPSHIT KILLERS and the Midcard Mafia. The crowd is going nuts for the Midcard Mafia, who are going against two lunatics. ARRRRGH THE BARBARIAN rips off an antler and uses it to beat on Piers. THE RIPSHIT KILLERS toss Ferrari in the corner and now beat on him as Piers gets up but THE YETAAAAY boots him right back down. THE YETAAAAY goes back over to Ferarri, who fights back! He dropkicks ARRRRGH THE BARBARIAN and hammers away on THE YETAAAAY. Piers gets to his feet and helps Ferrari and a giant brawl follows. THE YETAAAAY runs tries a big boot near the ropes but Piers ducks and THE YETAAAAY gets caught. Ferrari is up top and clotheslines THE YETAAAAY as Piers pulls down on the ropes and THE YETAAAAY is eliminated as the Midcard Mafia have won the battle royal and are now the #1 Contender’s to the BoD Tag Team Championship!!!!! The crowd goes nuts as I expect the MCM to be humming a happy tune in the rented Toyota Yaris on the way to the Red Roof Inn!
Backstage, GM Bayless is furious that the MCM was allowed to compete in the battle royal, as he had that slot for another team!!!! Bayless was informed that the MCM were on the booking sheet as Bayless sees it then rips it up in anger.

BoD Writer’s Championship
Andy PG vs. Stranger in the Alps (Champion)
Both guys shake hands to start. The fight over a lockup and that lasts a minute, ending in a stalemate. They try it again then switched go-behinds then battle over an armbar, which leads to a mat-sequence that ends in another stalemate as the crowd applauds this scientific battle. Now, the boys work an Irish whip sequence and that ends with them trading armdrags as neither man can gain the advantage tonight. Stranger in the Alps has been a fighting BoD Writer’s Champion, also known as the “Paper Championship.” Andy whips Stranger into the corner but ends up eating boot on a charge and Stranger goes to work on the leg. Stranger grapevines the leg as Andy struggles to but eventually reaches the ropes. Stranger drops elbows onto the leg of Andy then drags him back to the middle of the ring and tries a figure four but Andy turns that into a small package for two. Stranger gets up and goes back to the leg but Andy puts him in another small package and that gets two. Andy hammers away and we now have a brawl in the ring. Stranger sends Andy to the corner but Andy rolls away from a charge and hits a dropkick. He gets another dropkick then whips him against the ropes and catches him with a sleeper. Stranger looks to be getting sleepy but is able to elbow himself out of the hold. Andy goes for a suplex but that gets blocked. Stranger tries a suplex but Andy blocks that and whips Stranger against the ropes, who ducks a clothesline, then they clothesline each other as both men are down. Our replacement timekeeper, Blake Littlehand, just now informs us that there was a twenty-minute time limit to this match and only 5 minutes are left. Stranger is up first and hits Andy with an elbow smash. Stranger then hits Andy with a suplex but that only gets two. Stranger hits a kneebreaker then goes for the Can Opener but Andy is able to scramble to the ropes as just 3 minutes remain. Stranger sets Andy up top and attempts for a super back suplex but Andy lands on his feet and somersaults backwards into the corner. Stranger is hurt as Andy measures him then connects with the STO. Andy covers but that only gets two. Andy climbs up top and hits a missile dropkick but that cannot put the man from the Alps away as he kicks out with 1 minute left. Andy picks up Stranger and tries for a Death Valley Driver but Stranger slips out and connects with a lungblower and goes for the Can Opener but Andy blocks that just as time expires as this match is ruled a draw. Both guys are exhausted. They look at each other then approach as they shake hands, drawing an applause from the crowd as these two competitors respect each other.
Backstage, Tommy Hall is telling GM Bayless that he would have gotten the job done tonight, unlike Andy, and deserves another shot at the title. He then asks Bayless for an advance in his pay as Bayless yells at him for buying a throwback of every single quarterback drafted in the first five rounds since 1990. Bayless then says he will give Hall another title shot, who looks very pleased about the decision.
Hog Pen Match
PrimeTime Ten vs. Beard Money
The rules of this match are that whoever winds up in the Hog Pen loses. PrimeTime Ten has been antagonizing his former partner for the past few months, even putting him out of action. He also has been harassing Granny, who is sitting at ringside with the purse that he ruined. Anyway, Beard Money comes out a firing as this match is underway. Granny is cheering as much as she can while using her walker as her favorite hillbilly is knocking PrimeTime senseless. Beard Money goes over and grabs one of the two slop buckets but PrimeTime quickly scatters when he sees Beard Money pick it up. Beard Money goes after PrimeTime and slams him down. Beard Money drops an elbow as Granny is cheering away. GIT DOWN GRANDMA!!!!!!!!!! Beard Money tries another elbow drop but PrimeTime rolled out of the way. PrimeTime stomps on Beard Money as he know has taken control of the match. PrimeTime grabs a Dixie cup and scoops up some slop and heads toward granny. OH NO. Granny is too old to move and PrimeTime grabs Granny’s purse and pours in some slop. PrimeTime now heads over to Beard Money but not before grabbing a horseshoe. He swings but misses and Beard Money pushes him away. PrimeTime comes back with a dropkick as both men are down. PrimeTime now hops in the stands and boots Granny’s walker from underneath her and that goes flying 11 rows back as Granny plops her old ass on the ground. WHAT A DISTURBED MAN THIS IS.!!!!!!!!! PrimeTime turns around and sees Beard Money look over at Granny on the ground. This angers Beard Money who starts to pump himself up and clap his hands as everyone in the arena is clapping. Beard Money does a cartwheel as the fans clap louder AND LOOK AT THIS, GRANNY IS GETTING UP TO HER FEET WITHOUT THE WALKER!!!!! BEARD MONEY IS PERFORMING A HILLBILLY MIRACLE!!!!!!!!! PrimeTime looks shocked as he has angered Beard Money. The hillbilly fires away at PrimeTime as the crowd goes wild. Granny is now up and SHE DOES A CARTWHEEL as the crowd goes nuts. Beard Money is completely powered up and now picks up PrimeTime for a bearhug, squeezing the bad behavior out of him I hope. Beard Money breaks the hold then tells Granny to come out. Granny is all powered up, running only on the power of Hillbilly magic and takes her purse and clobbers PrimeTime on the head!!!!! HA HA HA, GIT DOWN GRANDMA. Beard Money takes PrimeTime and tosses him into the Hog Pen and wins the match! But wait, there’s more. Beard Money grabs the slop buckets and gives one to Granny. The crowd counts to three as they both slop PrimeTime!!!! And now, Granny and Beard Money perform the do-si-do!!!!!!!! HA HA HA, YES SIR!!!!!!!!!!!!!
#1 Contender’s Match for the BoD Heavyweight Championship
Jobber123 vs. The Fuj vs. Parallax1978
Lots of bad blood in this match, folks. Parallax and The Fuj start by wailing the shit out of each other. Jobber sits back and waits for these two to finish but that does not appear to be happening anytime soon. Jobber waits as they are both near the ropes then pushes them outside but ends up falling out himself. A three-way brawl breaks out at ringside as Parallax is already bleeding from the forehead. Jobber boots down the Fuj then tosses Parallax into the steps. Jobber rolls Fuj back in the ring and stomps away. He picks him up and slams him down. Jobber climbs up top but Parallax is on the apron and yanks him right off as Jobber falls outside. Parallax goes over to the Fuj and they start brawling, again. Parallax hits a running knee smash then uses boot scrapes in the corner. Parallax goes to the opposite corner and charges at full speed with a dropkick but Fuj avoids the move and Parallax slides outside, where Jobber meets him with a boot to the face. Jobber then takes Parallax, who is wearing a crimson mask, and flings him into the guardrail. Jobber yanks out the Fuj but misses a clothesline and the Fuj takes him down with a German suplex!!!!!! Ouch. Fuj goes over and knees Parallax down before rolling him inside. The Fuj hits Parallax with an uranage but that was not enough to put away Mr. Politics. Fuj sets up Parallax for a superplex but Jobber comes in and slides underneath Fuj as he powerbombs him while Parallax gets superplexed! Jobber tries to get himself together from the beating he took and the Oxycontin he snorted with the Jennifer Love Hewitt’s body double last night but is unable to pin Parallax. Jobber picks up Parallax for the Razor’s edge but Parallax escapes and goes for a crossbody that Jobber ducks but hits the Fuj and that gets two as Jobber yanks Parallax off of him. Jobber sends Parallax over the ropes then beats on the Fuj. Jobber gets sent to the ropes as Parallax pulls them down and Jobber crashes and burns to the outside. Parallax is on the apron and connects with a springboard clothesline on the Fuj. Parallax now rips off the turnbuckle padding and sends Fuj into the corner, busting him up as well. Parallax climbs up top and hits a double axe handle. He now looks to set up for the curb stomp but Jobber takes him down from behind. Jobber whiffs on a lariat and Parallax comes back with an enziguiri but turns around and gets decked with a discus forearm by The Fuj. The Fuj starts delivering knee strikes to Jobber, busting him open in the process as all three men are bloodied. The Fuj picks up Parallax and hits a running powerslam. He goes for the cover but Jobber makes the save. Jobber takes the Fuj and they have a reversal sequence that ends with Fuj colliding with the referee and knocking him through the ropes. Jobber sends the Fuj outside with a knee to the back and follows him out. They brawl then Parallax takes them both out with a pescado. All three men are on the floor as a masked man approaches with a crowbar! The referee is still down as the man takes the crowbar and whacks The Fuj in the head!!!!!!!! Holy Shit!!!! He now takes out a bottle and by the smell of it I believe it’s Tabasco Sauce and he rubs it in the eyes of Parallax!!!!!! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE!!!!!!!!!! The man takes the crowbar and drops it near Jobber, who looks as shocked as anyone here, before taking off. Jobber takes the crowbar and whacks Parallax in the back of the head. Jobber rolls Parallax inside just as the referee gets to his feet and pins Parallax. Out from underneath the ring comes two other mystery guys who hold down the legs of Parallax while out of sight of the referee and the ref counts to three as Jobber123 is your NEW #1 Contender to the BoD Heavyweight Championship!!!!!!!!! There is a lot of explaining to do after this outcome. Jobber still looks shocked but still happy to be the new #1 contender.
After the match, we get a camera panning shot of the Tim Horton’s inside the arena, where the Tim Horton’s Throwdown will take place! Hundreds of hung-over wrestling fans are in line for that double-double that is scientifically proven to do nothing for said hangover!
Tim Horton’s Throwdown
Aric Johnson vs. Mar Solo
The rules are simple: Solo and Johnson are both behind the counter, and must serve the customers. Hart Killer will judge them based on politeness, quality of service, and professionalism, among other things. The throwdown begins! Johnson serves his customers quickly, brewing beverages at a rapid rate and with great competence. Meanwhile, Solo is surrounded by coffee that his supervisor threatens to suspend him for if he drinks it! IS TIM HORTON’S INSIDE MAR SOLO’S HEAD? Solo also has bad luck, as his customers are jerks! Granny with no hearing aid that talks incessantly about cats instead of her cheese croissant! College stoner who laughs every other word! Drunk native who wants orange juice for his vodka but does too much slurring to convey that! Solo desperately goes for the iced coffee machine when the supervisor has his back turned, but as he pours it in, Johnson quickly gouges the crappy plastic cup with a paring knife! Just as a customer steps up to order something hyped in a TV commercial by Tim Horton’s, (A first in the company’s history) Solo completely loses it and unplugs the iced coffee machine, throwing it at Aric Johnson! The supervisor threatens a decrease in health benefits and a refresher’s course from the online training manual, but Solo lays him out with a plastic gloved left cross to the jaw! The customers complain about the service as Solo approaches Johnson for a beatdow-ICED CAP MIST! Solo is blind! Johnson then goes on a rampage of his own! Lettuce Leaf Bitchslap! Tomato Toss! Hot Soup Facewash! 7UP Bottle to the nose! Aric then drags Solo to the front…..AND THROWS HIM THROUGH THE PLASTIC FAKE GLASS DISPLAY CASE, RIGHT INTO THE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS AND THE BAGELS NO ONE EVER TRIES! “You want cream and sugar with that, BITCH?” screams Aric, as he proceeds to get non-dairy creamer, pouring it all over Solo’s prone corpse, and then tosses Splenda packets on Solo! Hart Killer rates everything a 4 out of 10, exclaiming hes seen a thousand better things occur within the confines of a coffee shop, then sips his mineral-packed bottled water, spitting it out all over the glass facade before leaving for his title defense! WILL THIS FEUD CONTINUE? TUNE INTO BOD RAW TO FIND OUT!
BoD Solid B+ Player Championship Match
Adam Curry vs. Hart Killer 09 (Champion)
Hart Killer’s B+ title reign has been under the radar, but surely a high profile defense over a former tag champ and ROH reviewer will raise his profile. The two collide in a good clash of styles, as Hart Killer’s technical approach goes up against Curry’s stimulant-fueled antics. Hart Killer lectures Curry on proper alcohol consumption, but Curry simply punches him in the face! Drunken Monkey Boxing! Swingset Slam! Flying Forearm! 1….2….NO! Hart Killer kicks out and takes a powder, but Curry has taken several, and follows him out with a Tope con Hilo Pescado Muy Grande Magnific! Oh, that wacky Lucha stuff. Curry takes control with further stimulant-fueled antics, and hits a big Rube Goldberg Arm Drag, followed by a Hurricane Belly to Belly Suplex! 1….2….NO! Curry goes for the Dirt Nap(Scoop Brainbuster) to finish, but Hart gets out of it with a thumb to the eye then takes over with a chinlock, lecturing the ref on proper technique in spotting heels cheat. Curry tires to power out, but Hart Killer counters with a greco-roman throw and goes right into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Russian Legsweep! Backbreaker! Running Bulldog! Manhattan Drop! Second rope elbowdrop! 1….2….NO! Curry summons midcard power to kick out. Piledriver! 1….2….NO! Curry summons above midcard power to kick out! Hart Killer gets frustrated and goes to an amateur-influenced Triangle Box Circle X R1 Choke, but Curry manages to call upon stimulants to power out and take to the offense! Windmill Crossbody! 1….2….NO! Curry then takes a page out of his partner’s book, and goes for a Twisting Flipping Spinning Turning Flying Rotating Axe Kick, that lands stiffly on the back of Hart Killer’s head! 1….2….NO! Curry then tries another Warne manuever with the Storm Warneing(Pepsi Plunge), but Hart Killer backdrops out, and then comes off the top with a big kneedrop! 1….2….NO! Hart Killer goes for a big vertical suplex, but Curry shifts his weight and counters into a huge Backstabber! Curry senses the title within reach….but suddenly Ryan Murphy jumps the barricade! The hell? Murphy paintbrushes Curry and hits a big Turning Backdrop Driver, before heading up top and hitting a ****1/2 Frog Splash on Curry for the DQ. What provoked this? Hart Killer gets on the mic and declares this the greatest loss via disqualification of all-time
The ring is now cleared as the ring rats proceed to set up the backdrop for the Riverdale Chocklit Shoppe Deathmatch. The set designer places a special surprise underneath the counter, which will surely play a role with the match. Three young toughs in Riverdale High jackets assess the building process from the front row, while Brian Bayless, clad in a Eric Zeier throwback that he received as collateral for Tommy’s advacne, nods his head in approval at the scene he is witnessing. THE MATCH…..IS NEXT!
Riverdale Choklit Shoppe Deathmatch
Archie Stackhouse vs. CoolTrainerBret
Even though this is a Deathmatch, we’re not doing this 10 count after a pinfall nonsense. This should be like a horror show. Oh wait, both guys can work. Bret starts out with his traditional opening pattern of vicious Muay Thai strikes, targeting ribs and legs for maximum stopping power, but Archie sees right through it! Archie catches a kick and throws him right into one of those funny three legged rotating seat stools. Archie picks up the stool for the early deathblow, but Bret headbutts Archie in the stomach, and then the nose, staggering him. Bret retreats behind the counter and tosses two heavy parfait glasses at Archie! Archie barely blocks, but this enables a distraction so Bret can leap off the counter with a Flying Back Elbow that takes out Archie! Bret then goes to work with his signature high intensity throws! Exploder ’93! Belly to Belly Suplex! Double B Spinebuster on the counter! 1….2….NO! That move would probably kill in real life, but a) Stackhouse, and b) Not a finish. Bret then reaches behind the counter with No Mercy precision and finds…..Steve’s Can? Ok then. Bret spams blows repeatedly, trying to trigger blood or the LOSING IT! TKO animation, but Archie uses cheap AI to grab the can right out of his hands, then lays into him with two big power shots, rated A! 1….2….NO! Bret ain’t jobbing to that shit. Archie then resumes the offensive with a couple more can shots, followed by the Switchblade Kiss(Running Enzuigiri)! Riverdale Welcome(Flying Knee Strike) off the counter! Archie opens the till, loads a sock full of e-book nickels, and then smashes Bret over the head with it, exploding the sock! 1….2….NO! Surely a 3 count in any arena, but Bret guts one out. Archie goes for the Burning Hammer, but Bret struggles, struggles again, then slips out from behind and hits a big Vertical Reverse DDT! 1….2….NO! Archie kicks out. Bret grabs a salt and pepper shaker combo and empties both into Archie’s eyes, before putting Archie’s head into the prop dishwasher and shutting the door on it repeatedly! 1….2….NO! Bret grabs forks from the washer and uses repeated DUAL WIELDING FORK ATTACKS~!, before he finds the Elephant Ivory plate worth $3000 on Antiques Roadshow deep in the washer and hits Archie hard with it, but it doesn’t break! Oh man, that sucks worse than when the cheap glass doesn’t bust. Bret then arranges the plate shards and hits a big Black Tiger Bomb onto them! 1….2….NO! Somehow Archie kicks out, and he appears to be laughing! Or no-selling, depending on how you look at it. Archie gets up and starts jabbing himself with the plate shard, begging Bret for more, and Bret obliges with hard right hands, but Archie slips one, grabs Bret from behind and looks for the Neck Crank! Bret tries the Bret Hart Sleeper Counter, but Archie Neck Cranks before the reversal happens! BRUTAL! Archie slowly covers…. 1….2….NO! Bret kicked out! Archie is stunned for maybe a split second, then starts laughing once more and proceeds to paintbrush Bret all around the Shoppe. Bret desperately stuns Archie with the ivory plate, and before Archie can stop seeing birdies Bret finally hits the BURNING LARIAT! ARCHIE STACKHOUSE HAS BEEN COMPLETELY DESTROYED! Bret covers….but no ref? The Riverdale High students in the front row dragged the ref off and have beaten him up, taking his shirt in the process! Bret goes outside and DUAL WIELD FORK ATTACKS two of them, but the third runs away, buying Stackhouse time to recover! Just as Bret catches the fake ref in the Shoppe, Archie leaps from behind and takes Bret out with a flying crowbar shot! Archie’s death head grin is in full prominence as he goes overboard with the offense! Crowbar Shot x10! Burning Hammer on the counter! NECK CRANK! Crowbar Shot x5! CRITICAL NECK CRANK! HOLY FUCK! 1….2…..3! ARCHIE PINS BRET!
The crowd is in stunned disbelief at what they’ve just witnessed, as Archie Stackhouse and his 3 converted followers through his RPs celebrate in the ring. Two pick up an unconscious Bret, while Archie rips the mask off to reveal some ginger-looking motherfucker! Stackhouse places the mask carefully on the counter….AND THEN SHATTERS IT AFTER 4 CROWBAR SWINGS! Stackhouse then takes a necklace from behind the counter, affixes a piece to it, and then gets it placed around his neck like a gold medal! Brian Bayless is seen clapping in his locker room, while the camera ominously pans on a red hoodie. Stackhouse then leaves the ring, allowing the EMTs to do their job as he sarcastically claps in the background. THE GAME HAS JUST CHANGED PEOPLE.

Magoonie vs. GM Bayless

GM Bayless says he has a plan in place but no one knows what he means by that as he agreed to only bring out Gosh Hopkins, the pet rock keeper, and Bill Ray. The other members of the MCM are with their guy Magoonie, who the GM agreed to give his name back to him instead of Teddy Belmont. Bayless ducks out of the ring as Magoonie approached as the crowd now boos the GM. Bayless goes back inside the ring but uses the ref as a Shield so he can cheap shot Magoonie. Bayless grabs a side headlock but Magoonie whips him against the ropes and they work an Irish whip sequence that ends with Magoonie catching the GM with an arm drag. Bayless charges and gets taken down again with an arm drag. Bayless hits the ropes out of anger as the crowd is enjoying what they are seeing so far. Magoonie begs Bayless to come after him and ends up taking him down with a drop toehold. Magoonie takes Bayless outside and sends him into the table. Magoonie charges but Bayless ducks and Magoonie crashes and burns. Bayless takes a breather before slapping around Magoonie. He rolls him into the ring and uses the five moves of Garea as the crowd is bored to tears. Bayless adds two more unnecessary jumping side headlock takeovers. Bayless covers with one foot but that barely gets a two count. Bayless laughs as he kicks Magoonie on the mat. He heads up top and takes his time to taunt the MCM but took way too long and gets caught with a punch in midair. Magoonie powers up and knocks Bayless down with a clothesline. He takes him down with another one then sends him back down with a flying forearm. Magoonie places Bayless up top and hits the superplex. The Administration is flipping out but Bayless just kicks out at two. Magoonie now goes for the Magooniplex but Bill Ray jumps up on the apron to distract Magoonie. Piers now runs up on the opposite side of the apron and spears Ray off as they both crash to the floor. Gosh Hopkins now goes after Ferrari as they brawl, with the pet rock left unattended. Magoonie grabs the GM as the ref is trying to maintain order outside. Bayless hits Magoonie with a low blow but all of a sudden, Nebb28 runs through the stands and GRABS HIS PET ROCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Gosh Hopkins is in disbelief as he fucked up the only job he had as Nebb now runs and grabs the GM’s leg. The GM looks scared as he is finally going to get his comeuppance. Nebb motions like he is going to throw it rock and launches it……………..right at Magoonie’s face?!?! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE TONIGHT!!!!!!!!! Nebb looks disappointed in himself as the GM nails Magoonie with the super kick and covers 1, 2, 3. The GM is smiling and approaches Nebb28 as this appears to have been a set up of sorts. Ferarri and Piers grill Nebb, who hangs his head in shame and then yells that he is sorry. The GM then lets us know that you cannot keep a boy away from his pet rock, no matter what the cost. It appears that Nebb28 has been bought off by the GM. THAT EVIL MOHTERFUCKER!!!!!!!!!!!!
Buck Nasty w/ The Skank Patrol vs. Todd “Hoss” Lorenz
Lorenz enters, stealing food from the audience and discarding everything he hates while yelling that Old Dutch is better than Lay’s. Buck Nasty enters with his harem from Chang O’Reilly’s, along with…..ABEYANCE AND THEBRAZILIANKID! Hoss disapproves! The match starts, with Buck’s lighthearted antics getting countered by some Hoss-like whuppin from Lorenz, who starts with hamfist punches and generic suplexes to get his advantage. BAH GAWD, HE IS A HAWS. Clubbering Forearms! Running Big Boot! NES Boss Man Belly Attack! 1….2….NO! Buck Nasty guts one out, but hes in trouble, as Lorenz’s strategy of burning through calories early in the match is paying dividends! Lorenz stops to yell at the ladies outside for prefering iceberg lettuce over Epic Meal Time Poultry Salad, but this enables Buck to get in a couple basement dropkicks, trying to get the Hoss down to his level. Unfortunately, Hoss is simply overpowering and resumes the attack! Shit Kick! Back Elbow! Corner Avalanche! 1….2….NO! Buck keeps staying alive! Lorenz cinches in a Full Rib Rack(Torture Rack), but Buck somehow worms his head free and escapes to the outside for consoling before heading back in the ring to beat the count! Lorenz, summoning the power of a bag of BBQ Old Dutch chips(the good spicy kind, before they switched to that shitty sweet tang stuff), hits a couple vicious curb stomps, then heads up to the top rope and connects with the FAT GUY OUTTA CONTROL splash! Lorenz then goes for the sure finish with the Hoss Sauce Toss(Spinning Crucifix Powerbomb), but stops when seeing Abeyance threatening to eat a two bite brownie in one bite! Lorenz chases Abeyance around ringside, knocking over girls, brazilians, more girls, brazilians, even more girls, and Danimal Crossing for some reason, before eventually the chase heads into the ring, where a recovered Buck clips Lorenz in the knee to save Abeyance’s brownies! Shining Wizard! Second Shining Wizard! Lorenz isn’t down on his back just yet, so Buck puts all his strength into a Running Potato Dropkick! Lorenz is splayed out on the canvas! Buck heads to the top rope and signals for the finish……Pussy Popper(Sky High Elbow Drop) connects! 1….2…..3! Buck Nasty takes one!
Backstage, GM Bayless orders White Coat Security to remove Blake Littlehand as we cannot have any fuckups with timekeeping in the main event and says that no one else can do anything, he will do it his damn self.
BoD Heavyweight Championship Match
Jef Vinson vs. Cultstatus (Champion)
The moment we have all been waiting for. They stare each other down to start. Cult motions how he is the champ while Vinson tells him not for long. They lockup and that ends with Cult shoving Vinson down, then flexing to the crowd. They lockup again and Vinson shoves him then poses to the crowd. They go back and forth as Vinson knocks down the champ. Vinson then clotheslines Cult to the floor. Vinson tries a pescado but Cult avoids it as Vinson crashes to the ground. Cult boots Vinson in the ribs then sends him into the post. Cult rolls Vinson inside then climbs up top and hits a clothesline but that only gets two. Cult hits a slingshot suplex and that only gets two as well. Cult sends Vinson into the corner and follows with a big boot. Cult goes up top again but misses a fist drop. Vinson gets up and goes on the attack. He starts pummeling on the champ in the corner then takes him over with a monkeyflip. Vinson gets up and goes back up top and flies off, hitting Cult with a tornado DDT. He covers and that almost gets the win!!!! Cult barely kicked out of that one. Vinson measures Cult then charges at him but Cult comes back with a big boot that knocks him down. Cult hits a snap spinebuster then puts on the Camel Clutch as he looks to soften up the back and neck so he can use his Jackknife powerbomb. Vinson is in pain as Cult hits him with a backbreaker and covers but that just gets two. Vinson has had a long and painful road since winning the BoD Money on the Table Briefcase. This might be his only chance to capture the gold. Cult uses an STF as Vinson is desperately trying to reach the ropes. He just makes it in the nick of time. Cult gets frustrated and now picks up Vinson, who floats over and comes back with an enziguiri. Vinson gets up again and hits another kick then goes for a sunset flip and struggles to take down Cult but does as that barely gets two. Cult comes back and takes Vinson’s head off with a lariat. Cult now picks up Vinson and goes for the Jackknife but Vinson is able to escape that. Cult charges at Vinson but gets pushed into the corner and on the rebound Vinson catches him on his shoulders and hits the TKO!!!!!!!!!!!! Vinson covers and one…….two……….THREE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE HAVE A NEW BoD Heavyweight Champion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vinson is staggering around as our GM and timekeeper for this match walks in and gives Vinson the belt. Vinson holds it up high for all to see and celebrates on the top rope but when he gets down, GM Bayless meets him with a super kick!!!!! AGAIN, WHAT THE FUCK IS HAPPENING TONIGHT IN THE BoD!!!!!! Bayless grabs the mic and tells Vinson that is first defense is against the #1 contender, Jobber123 and that match is happening………………..NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
BoD Heavyweight Championship Match
Jobber123 vs. Jef Vinson (Champion)
Jobber runs out to the ring as Bayless is stomping on Vinson. He then goes out and rings the bell as Jobber knees Vinson in the face repeatedly. He then picks him up for the Razor’s Edge and covers as the referee counts to three AND WE HAVE A NEW CHAMPION, JOBBER123!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! GM Bayless comes into the ring smiling and raises Jobber’s hand as something smells in the BoD and it ain’t funky!!!!!!! WE ARE OUT OF TIME AND TUNE IN TOMORROW AT 10:30 EST FOR BoD RAW!!!!!!!!!!

SummerFest Countdown: 2010

The SmarK DVD Rant for WWE Summerslam 2010 Live from Los Angeles, CA Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker Intercontinental title: Dolph Ziggler v. Kofi Kingston Man, Kofi has just been going nowhere all year. Meanwhile Ziggler has been jobbed for months and they suddenly put the IC belt on him. And people wonder why no one cares about the titles. Kofi misses a tope suicida, allowing Ziggler to pound away in the ring and get a neckbreaker for two. He goes to a chinlock and then sends Kofi into the corner for two. Mr. Perfect necksnap gets two. He goes to a rear chinlock now as the announcers go on about Kofi’s “new aggression”. Yeah, while he’s laying there in a chinlock, that’s so AGGRESSIVE! Ziggler misses a blind charge and Kofi makes the comeback with his NEW AGGRESSION, which apparently includes screwing up a Thesz Press. Kofi with the Boomdrop and a crossbody, but Ziggler rolls through for two. Kofi reverses for two, but Ziggler gets a Fameasser for two. Yeah, he does remind me of Billy Gunn, come to think of it. Kofi misses the wacky kick, and Ziggler gets the sleeper (really? In 2010?), but Nexus runs in for the nWo finish at 7:11. Really? In 2010? Well that’s a stupid finish, although it’s not like the match was going anywhere. ** I should note, however, that THAT’S aggression. Kofi should take note. Meanwhile, Chris Jericho and Edge try to convince Miz to join Team WWE as the seventh guy. Tramp Stamp title: Alicia Fox v. Melina Melina as the smiling babyface is kind of ridiculous. Although now Cole has upgraded her to “one of the all-time greats” after, like, 5 years in the business, so maybe she’s getting the grizzled veteran edit now. I bet she’s almost THIRTY. That’s so OLD. Melina takes Fox down and then pounds her in the corner, but then backs off and stalls while Fox figures out what her spot is. Melina misses a leapfrog and apparently reinjures her knee, but shakes it off and superkicks Fox to the apron. Alicia pulls her into the ringpost to take over, and then works on the arm. You’d think the knee would be the logical place to go, but I guess that’s why I’m not the Divas champion. Melina comes back with a dropkick and a faceplant for the title at 5:22. That was pretty much a squash. *1/2 Afterwards, Josh Matthews goes to interview Melina, but Layla and Michelle interrupt to set up the unification match at Night of Champions. Those two are pretty funny, actually. Melina fights them off, but the beatdown commences. Rough night for the babyfaces. Big Show v. CM Punk, Luke Gallows & Joseph Mercury Quick question: Why go through the trouble of changing Festus into “Luke Gallows”, but then leave Joey Mercury’s goofy boy band name as-is? People don’t even remember Johnny Nitro, why care about Mercury’s name? Show cleans the ring of the lackeys to start, then pounds Punk in the corner. They head outside and Show accidentally hits the stairs with an open palm, which we’re supposed to buy as a devastating blow, because that allows the SES to take over. Back in the ring, they work over the formerly-broken hand and take turns dropping elbows. Show makes the comeback and takes out the deadwood, but Punk hits him with knees in the corner. He and Mercury get a double bulldog in the corner (or as Michael Cole calls it, a “double DDT”) for two, but Show won’t stay down. Punk has had enough and walks out on the team, leaving Show to chokeslam Mercury for the pin at 6:45. *1/2 This would appear to set up the Punk-Show singles match at the next PPV. Whatever happened to using TV for setting up PPV matches, instead of just doing crappy rematches of the previous crappy PPV? Miz joins us to give his decision on the main event, but first lists all the ways that Team WWE kissed his ass to convince him. So yeah, he’s the seventh member of the team. Michael Cole is delighted. RAW World title: Sheamus v. Randy Orton They posture up in the corner to start, but Orton does the beatdown and hits Sheamus with a clothesline out of the corner. He tosses Sheamus and beats on him in the front row, as Cole uses the Sledgehammer of Plot to point out that TITLES DON’T CHANGE HANDS ON A DQ OR COUNTOUT. Good god, just hire Tony Schiavone already. Back in, Orton uses his dad’s bottom-rope catapult (a nice little touch totally missed by the announce team), but Sheamus recovers and sends Orton into the stairs. Back in, Sheamus pounds away for two. Short-arm clothesline and kneedrop gets two. He sends Orton into the railing outside, and back in for two. The Polish Celtic Hammer gets two. Orton fights back, but gets pounded down again, setting up a chinlock from Sheamus. Orton escapes with a backdrop suplex, and the backbreaker gets two. They slug it out and the crowd goes BANANAS for Orton. When did this start happening? Sheamus bails to the apron, so Orton suplexes him back in for two. Sheamus recovers with his own backbreaker for two. Sheamus sets up to finish, but misses the high kick and ends up on the floor. Orton brings him back in with the DDT, and again the crowd is just losing their shit. RKO, but Sheamus blocks it for two. Sheamus sets up for the finish (which finally has a name), but Orton escapes, so Sheamus hits him with the bicycle kick for two. Sheamus gets frustrated and grabs a chair, and that earns him a DQ at 18:54. Who is booking these awful, awful finishes tonight? Much better than their Royal Rumble snoozefest, as Sheamus clearly has improved leaps and bounds in terms of setting the pace and flow of a match. That being said, Orton was crazy over here and if they weren’t such huge pussies they’d have booked an actual finish to do something with it. ***1/2 Orton lays him out with the RKO on the table afterwards, bringing the running total to 2-1 in favor of post-match heel beatdowns. But the babyfaces are catching up! Smackdown World title: Kane v. Rey Mysterio Small gripe: Kane is not 323 pounds. I know it’s a grand wrestling tradition to pump up weights, but in a world where we know the weights of UFC fighters to the ¼ pound, there’s no way to buy that he’d be that heavy. Just another small sign of them not keeping up with the times. Kane pounds Rey down and sends him to the floor after dodging a 619 attempt. Rey suckers him into a baseball slide and then follows with a senton off the apron. Back in, he goes up, and Kane clips him off the top rope and runs him into the post to take over. Whip into the turnbuckles gets two. And now, a bearhug. Rey tries to escape with a sunset flip, but Kane blocks him, so Rey uses a headscissor takedown instead. Rey tries the 619 again, but Kane clotheslines him for two. He tosses Mysterio and then boots him off the apron, but Rey comes back in with a flying headbutt off the top. That gets two. Kane puts him down with a backbreaker for two, however. Backbreaker submission this time, but Rey escapes…and walks into a sideslam for two. Kane goes up and Rey tries a rana to bring him down, but Kane just shrugs him off. Rey keeps coming with a tilt-a-whirl into an inverted DDT, and then goes up with the senton and gets a hurricane DDT for two. Springboard legdrop gets two. Low kick gets two. Rey goes up and gets slugged down by Kane for two. Kane, getting paranoid, checks his coffin to make sure it’s empty, but Rey trips him up for the 619. Kane catches him and throws Rey into the coffin, but Rey comes back in…into a chokeslam attempt. Rey reverses that into the 619 for real this time, and the splash gets two. Kane boots him right back down, chokeslams him, and pins him to retain at 13:32. Very slow start, but Rey somehow got the crowd to buy the near-falls by the end. Still, we’ve seen this match what feels like a million times and it’s never been any good. **1/4 Kane threatens him with eternal suffering and pain, like having to write the goofy skits on RAW until the end of the universe or something, and then gives him another two chokeslams and a tombstone to really drive home his point. So we’re at 3-1 for the heels in post-match beatdowns now. Another trip to the coffin, but this time Undertaker really is there, and looking pretty old too. He stops to have a conversation with Rey in the corner about the goofy “Who attacked the Undertaker” storyline and then goes after Kane. However, apparently his mojo is not up to snuff, however, and Kane is able to beat the crap out of him. I think I saw on Dr. Oz that you’re not supposed to attack your undead brother when emerging from a vegetative coma until at least 3 PPVs after you’ve emerged from your magic coffin. I think it has to do with your pH levels or something. Elimination match: Wade Barrett, David Otunga, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Michael Tarver, Skip Sheffield & Darren Young v. John Cena, John Morrison, Edge, R-Truth, Bret Hart, Chris Jericho & Daniel Bryan. Well you certainly can’t say that they’re not trying new people in the main event here. Big brawl to start, which gives Cole a chance to work in his irrational hatred of Bryan. Bryan starts with Darren Young and puts him down with a knee to the gut, then hooks in a guillotine and into a crossface for the tapout at 0:50. That’s quite the return for Bryan. Jericho comes in against Gabriel and Team WWE works him over in the corner, and it’s over to Truth for a stunner that gets two. Again I ask: Why doesn’t someone just bring back the stunner as a finisher? It’s been 7 years since Austin retired, the move is totally fair game. And it’s still awesome. Tarver misses a charge on Truth and Morrison slugs him down, then hits a springboard kick and Starship Pain at 3:39. That move is the anti-stunner in terms of awesomeness. So it’s 7-5 for Team WWE and the Nexus stops to plan things out, deciding to send Skip Sheffield in. He overpowers Morrison and gets a standing powerslam, while the crowd wants Bret. Skip with a pair of suplexes for two, slowing down the pace a lot. Gabriel hits a cheapshot from the apron and Skip pins Morrison after a clothesline at 7:40. And we go to an instant replay, while Sheffield pins and eliminates R-Truth with another clothesline at 8:13. Would have been nice to SEE that. I should note that it can’t be a true Survivor Series style match unless someone gets pinned by a clothesline, and now we’ve had two, so kudos there. Jericho is in next and gets dominated by David Otunga, but he gets the tag to Bret Hart. Bret pounds on Slater for being a ginger and goes through a lower-impact version of the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, but Slater tags out while in the Sharpshooter. I don’t think that’s actually legal, but Bret gets pissed and uses a chair for the DQ at 12:23 anyway. Jericho sneaks in with a codebreaker on Sheffield and Edge finishes him with the spear at 13:19. Edge beats on Gabriel and flapjacks him for two, but Gabriel comes back with a spinkick for two. Back to Slater for some choking, and Nexus beats on Edge in the corner. Barrett comes in with a backbreaker for two, and we hit the chinlock. Edge fights out with a leg lariat, but Barrett gets a neckbreaker and brings Otunga in. He sets up for something, but Edge reverses to a DDT and makes the hot tag to Jericho. Lionsault wakes up the crowd and he gets the Walls for the submission at 19:28. Jericho keeps going on Slater with a flying elbow, but he collides with Cena and falls victim to Slater’s finisher at 20:12. Some kind of bulldog thing. This prompts a big argument between Cena and Edge, and Slater rolls up Edge for the pin at 20:46. Edge spears Cena off the apron and we get a beatdown from Jericho and Edge for good measure. I guess that puts the heels at 4-1 for beatdowns now, although this wasn’t technically post-match. So it’s Bryan’s chance to shine with Cena doing his usual momentary selling of the devastating injury, and Nexus tees off on Cena 3-on-1. Cole’s continued abuse of Daniel Bryan would be pretty funny if it made any sense. Barrett cuts off a Cena comeback with a clothesline for two. Justin Gabriel works the arm for some reason, and a single-arm DDT gets two. Barrett in with a sideslam for two. Matt Striker notes that “you root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back”. That’s exactly the sort of thing a COMMUNIST would say. So yeah, this gets really boring as Cena as takes a beating, and he finally makes the hot tag to Bryan. German suplex for Slater and he throws kicks in the corner to send Slater out, then follows with a tope suicida. Back in, Bryan with a missile dropkick, but Slater rolls him up for two. Bryan reverses to the crossface, and Slater taps at 29:09. Bryan is ready for whoever, but Miz comes in and lays him out with the briefcase, allowing Barrett to pin him at 29:43. So it’s Cena all alone against Barrett and Gabriel, the odds once again impossibly stacked against him. Who can overcome such odds? NO ONE. But wait! Cena impossibly does his usual series of moves against Gabriel, but Barrett tags in to prevent an FU. The Nexus switches off and beats on Cena, and Barrett puts him on the floor with a big boot. They pull up the mats and Barrett DDTs him on the concrete, which would actually be a downer ending that would make sense and probably turn Barrett into a big star. But instead, they head back in after that and Gabriel goes up with the 450 and misses. Cena pins him at 34:58 to even things up. And Cena finishes Barrett with the STFU at 35:22. How in the world you can fuck up the most unfuckupable angle they’ve had in months, I don’t know, but there it was. Match wasn’t that great, either, with long boring passages due to the green-as-grass Nexus guys not really knowing how to work a long match like this. No fault of theirs, though. *** The Bottom Line This felt like a decent B-show, but the finishes were just atrocious. Like really, paying $60 to see a DQ in a World title match in 2010? And they wonder why PPV buyrates are in the crapper? I don’t want to buy a major show and have angles set up for the next three stupid “theme” PPVs instead of getting resolution at the show I paid money to see NOW. But that’s probably why I wait for the DVD these days anyway. Recommendation to avoid.

SummerFest Countdown: 2008

(Never did 2006 or 07, so we skip ahead quickly and we’ll wrap things up with 2010’s show after this…) The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2008 – Live from Indianapolis, IN – Your hosts are JR, MC, JL and T. Jeff Hardy v. MVP MVP charges for the high kick to start, but runs away from a fight and tries to lure Jeff with a chase. Jeff ccatches him on the floor and sends him into the railing, and they head back in where Jeff comes back with a slingshot legdrop for two. He goes to the arm and they exchange kicks, but Jeff charges and takes a sick overhead suplex into the turnbuckles as a result. That gets two for MVP and he wraps Jeff up with a submission move and starts to work on the neck. He goes to a rear chinlock and Jeff monkey-flips out of it, but MVP rolls through into a half-crab and from there into a legbar, a very nice sequence. Jeff fights up and tries to springboard in, but MVP catches him with a shot to the face and necksnaps him for two. Hardy gets run into the corner and the Tree of Woe, and MVP runs his head into the mat for two. He goes for the body vice, but Jeff escapes with a neckbreaker and makes the comeback. Mule kick in the corner, but MVP gets the feet up for his own kick to counter, and that gets two. MVP dropkicks Jeff into the corner and charges, but Jeff comes out with a clothesline to block, and gets a Russian legsweep for two. Jeff sets up in the corner again for the mule kick, but MVP catches him and Jeff counters to a sunset flip for two. Whisper in the Wind and he goes up, but Shelton Benjamin comes out to distract Jeff long enough for the swanton to miss. Yakuza kick finishes for MVP at 10:12. Pretty cliché finish, but I enjoyed all the countering from MVP to out-think Hardy. He should probably have the US title back, actually. ***1/4 Winner take all: Mickie James & Kofi Kingston v. Santino Marella & Beth Phoenix. Time to pull the plug on Kofi, I think. He’s a guy who seems like he could benefit from doing the indy circuit for a couple of years and building a buzz, like RVD did. Beth starts with Mickie and overpowers her to stop a takedown, but Mickie dropkicks the knee to take her down. That gets two. Beth comes back with a backdrop suplex and Santino comes in, but he gets monkey-flipped into a high cross from Kofi. He fires off a pair of dropkicks and hammers Santino in the corner. Santino takes a powder and jumps into Beth’s arms to protect himself, and then catches Kofi with a neckbreaker to take over. How do you not love Santino? Back to Phoenix, and she pounds Kofi with kicks, and Santino goes to the chinlock. Kofi escapes and tags Mickie, and she hammers on Beth with forearms and into a clothesline. Rana out of the corner and into a Thesz Press, but Santino breaks it up. It’s BONZO GONZO and Kofi charges and lands on the floor, but Mickie hits a DDT on Santino. That allows Beth to jump Mickie and finish her with the double chickenwing into the powerbomb at 5:44. That IC title is exactly where it belongs. Santino’s over the top celebration almost adds another star. Short and entertaining. **1/2 Thank god Beth can actually do her entrance pose with a belt now, because it just looked silly otherwise. Shawn Michaels joins us to announce that he’s lost his smile…oh, wait, wrong interview, sorry. Close, though, as doctors have advised him to end his career, and he’s decided to heed their advice and give it up. However, Chris Jericho interrupts and he DEMANDS that Shawn retire because of Jericho, not on his own terms. What a dick. I love it. And then Shawn says, sure, he’ll admit that to his wife and kids, as long as Jericho goes home and tells HIS family now that he’ll never ever get to beat Shawn Michaels. Oooooh, burn. Jericho’s a bit upset and goes after Shawn, but hits Whysper Michaels instead, just to make the feud REALLY personal, I guess. Didn’t really need the man-on-woman violence and the whole thing went on a bit long for what it was, but the blowoff at Unforgiven should be super hot now. ECW World title: Mark Henry v. Matt Hardy Henry uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS to start, but Matt gets the Twist of Fate and Tony Atlas yanks him out for the DQ at 0:33. Zuh? DUD Jeff saves and hits Atlas with a swanton from the apron, and the Hardyz team up and suplex Henry on the floor. Did I miss some reason why they couldn’t have done an actual match here? RAW World title: CM Punk v. JBL The announcers note that Punk is a different type of champion because he’s seen The Dark Knight five times. Maybe the writing team should as well so they could steal some GOOD pop culture for once. If some heel could rip off Heath Ledger’s Joker performance effectively, it’d draw millions. JBL pounds on him to start and grabs a headlock, but Punk fires back with high kicks and dropkicks him to the floor. He follows with a nice suicide dive, and back in for a high cross that gets two. JBL shoulderblocks him back down and slugs away in the corner, then hits a blockbuster slam off the top for two. Note to Michael Cole: A “fallaway slam” is traditionally another name for a samoan drop, although Cole’s insistence on calling that move as “fallaway slam” seems to have renamed the move to match. As far as I’ve always understood, though, the proper name is “fadeaway slam”. Bradshaw goes to the bearhug to work on the ribs, and a backdrop suplex gets two. Abdominal stretch and JBL pounds on the ribs, but Punk catches him with the high knee in the corner, into the bulldog. He goes for the GTS, but the ribs give out and JBL hits him with a standing lariat and drops elbows for two. They slug it out and Punk staggers him with the spinning backfist, and a spinkick gets two. He springboards in, but JBL catches him with a powerslam for two. He sets up to finish, but Punk blocks the clothesline with a leg lariat. Another high knee in the corner, but JBL blocks the bulldog this time and puts him on the top, pounding away on the ribs again, setting up a backdrop suplex off the top, which gets two. Punk appears done, but he hits the GTS out of nowhere to finish at 11:11. Now this is what he needs — strong come-from-behind, clean, wins over top guys, not fluke wins or DQs or whatever. Really good big bully against tough underdog dynamic here, as they kept it simple and within what JBL can still pull off, and it worked well. ***1/2 Smackdown World title: HHH v. The Great Khali. Come on, they changed the ECW World title for Mark Henry, why can’t HHH use his pull to get a decent one made for himself? Khali fires away to start and HHH uses his (relative) speed to counter, but he walks into the tree slam. Head vice looks to finish, but HHH escapes and clips the knee. I am relieved to see them keeping this as quick as possible. Khali bails and catches HHH with the CHOP OF DEATH and tosses him into the railing, and back in for some punishment in the corner. Standing clothesline gets two. Khali goes to the melodramatic Vulcan nerve pinch, as I take back what I said about keeping it quick. Legdrop gets two. HHH breaks out of another nerve hold and fights back with a facebuster to tie Khali into the ropes, but HHH charges and runs into a boot. He tries the Pedigree but can’t quite muscle it over, and Khali backdrops him to the floor. HHH trips him up and posts the knee, but Khali clubs him off the apron. Back in, Khali gets another head vice, trying to contain the unstoppable force of HHH’s ego, but it’s just too much to overcome and HHH fights out of it. Khali charges and hits the corner, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 9:20. Good god, HHH actually got a good match out of Great Khali, I’m at a loss for words. You HAVE to respect that. HHH worked a totally different David v. Goliath style match and made it work. Kudos to him for that. *** Batista v. John Cena Cole notes that this is “no hype needed, the ultimate showdown!” Isn’t that kind of self-contradictory? This sounds weird to type, but Cena really needs the win here. Batista grabs a headlock to start and Cena escapes with a slam, as the fan bile starts spewing almost immediately. Cena overpowers him, but Batista comes back with a clothesline and a jackhammer for two. That’s actually a good move for Big Dave, although I think he was just going for a suplex there and messed it up. Cena fires back with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Batista gets a sideslam, but Cena counters into the FU, so Batista escapes and attacks the knee. Kneecrusher sets up a figure-four and Ric Flair references from Cole, and they’re talking an awful lot about someone who’s been future-endeavored. Although maybe it’s because Flair quit that he escaped the erasure from history that “best of luck in future endeavors” entails. Cena powers to the ropes to break, and then dumps Batista with an FU over the top rope, which gives him some time to recover. Back in, Cena puts Batista down with the shoulderblocks and the backdrop suplex, and you can’t see him. Five knuckle shuffle sets up the FU, but Batista powers out and puts him down with the big boot. Double KO and Batista recovers first, spearing Cena into the corner and then following with a corner clothesline, but a blind charge hits elbow. Cena charges, however, and runs into the spinebuster, but Cena counters the demon bomb with a takedown and hooks the STFU. It’s kind of interesting that they’re going with this “all big moves no filler” approach because that’s a totally different style from what you normally see in the WWE. Kind of like late-era Rock v. Austin without the crowd brawling. Batista fights it and teases the tap, but makes the ropes instead. Cena tries to finish again, but Batista reverses the FU into a rear naked choke. Nice! This of course leads to the inherent contradiction of people trying to work UFC stuff into wrestling matches, when those moves are illegal in the wrestling world. You’d think they’d just clarify and make chokes legal, but that would rob mid-level heels of 89% of their offense. Batista spears him for two, but Cena freakishly powers him into the FU out of a powerslam attempt, for two. Cena goes up and they slug it out on the top rope, doing the “boo yay” bit for the crowd, and Cena wins that one. Batista goes down and Cena follows with a legdrop attempt, but Batista catches him with the powerbomb for two. If it was anyone else but Cena, I’d have called that as the finish. Now Batista is pissed, and kicks him in the face to set up another demon bomb, for the clean pin at 13:42. Seriously, did Cena back his car over Vince’s dog or something? I really loved this match, though, with big move after big move in my favorite type of match: The heavyweight slugfest. Not like two big guys punching each other, but two top guys being all stoic and hitting their big moves until one of them can’t get up. **** Hell in a Cell: Edge v. Undertaker Edge slugs away in the corner to start, unleashing the full power of his crazy. Taker boots him down, however, and fires away in return. Taker tosses him and runs him into the cage, then headbutts him down and gives him another trip into the cage. And the stairs. Back in, Taker guillotines him on the apron and brings the stairs into the ring, giving Edge a Snake Eyes on them. Edge, too crazy to go down, quickly whips Taker into the stairs in return and spears him into them. Touché. Edge pounds him down with the stairs and retrieves a table from the magic void under the ring. Two of them get stacked outside as a callback to their last match, but Edge can’t suplex him through them. He manages to necksnap UT and then hits him with a chair, as Edge seems to be making this a TLC match inside of Hell in a Cell, perhaps a sly comment on TNA’s crappy booking, but probably not. Edge puts him down with a chair and gets, yes, a ladder, trying to bring the match to something he knows. Another chairshot puts Taker down as hopefully they’re finished with the setup and now can get to the blood-soaked violence. Edge puts him on a table and elbowdrops a chair onto him, from the ladder, putting Taker through the table. That gets two. He tries the concerto, but Taker blocks him and slugs Edge down. Edge retreats to the apron, so Taker boots him into the cage. JR notes that “casualties are guaranteed” for this match, so I guess it’s kind of like a metaphor for the business in general. Taker runs the stairs into Edge’s head, but gets sent into the post, and Edge spears him right through the cage. Didn’t see that coming. Taker’s forearm is bleeding, so maybe he’s going emo as part of another gimmick change. He can have My Chemical Romance do his entrance music and blog about how his parents don’t understand him. They fight at ringside and Taker whips Edge into the railing, but Edge comes back with a monitor to the head, and then spears him from one table to another. There’s a great effect there, too, as the cameraman shook from the impact and really made it seem like an action movie scene or something. They slug it out at ringside and Taker wins that one pretty handily, but Edge comes back with his trusty ladder to take over again. A camera to the head gets two. JR notes that very move cost Taker the title last year, which is exactly what announcers are supposed to do. What a concept. Edge sets up for the spear, but Taker catches him with the chokeslam and gets two. Last Ride is countered with a low blow, which JR sadly does not call “legal as a headlock” this time. Edge with the Impaler for two. Taker sits up and goes for the powerbomb, but then changes his mind and wants the tables instead. That allows Edge to escape and spear him for two. Edge slugs away in the corner and that allows Taker to powerbomb him for two. Then Taker gets a little crazy and sets up for the tombstone on the stairs, but Edge reverses out with the Edge-O-Matic onto the stairs, for two. Man, those tables are just hanging over the match like the Sword of Damocles. And then Edge tries to go old school, but since he was in high school in 1990 Undertaker is able to counter it and chokeslam Edge through those damn tables. Well at least they finally paid it off. Back in, Taker gets cheeky and spears Edge, then sets up with the camera and just unloads on him with it. And then for the encore, he delivers his own concerto and Edge is pretty much dead and buried. Message delivered, I’d say. Tombstone kills him officially at 26:40. OK, now I never want to see this match on PPV again. Feud is OVER. Very enjoyable but somewhat antiseptic Hell in a Cell match (I mean, no blood?) with a lot of setup time from Edge and some good brawling to end the feud…but no blood? Really? And it didn’t really make use of the gimmick, being more of a TLC match that happened to be inside the cage. And no blood? ****1/4 And then they go and ruin all the good hatred with a stupid gimmick moment to end it, as Undertaker chokeslams Edge off a ladder and through a gimmicked part of the ring, which breaks and then bursts into flame at UT’s command. Oh come on now. I know they’re booking for children, but this is ridiculous. The Pulse: The top two matches were supposed to be great and delivered, while the two World title matches were probably going to suck and both ended up being pretty great all things considered, so that makes this show an easy thumbs up. Edge-Undertaker have great chemistry together, but they’ve pretty much hit the wall of where they can go from a match quality standpoint and the main event showed that to me. It was good, but I just don’t care about them anymore. Still, well worth checking out.

SummerFest Countdown: 2005

(2012 Scott sez:  I don’t even remember ranting on this one, but it’s there, so I guess I did.)  The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2005 – Live from Washington, DC – Your hosts are JR, King, Coach, Cole and Tazz. – Opening match, US title: Orlando Jordan v. Chris Benoit. Benoit takes him into the corner with a lockup to start, then finishes with the german suplex and crossface at 0:25 to win the title. That’s called “no fucking around,” yo. I guess Jordan failed the Billy Gunn Test at the Bash. So if anything, Matt Hardy can take solace in knowing that he can’t get buried any worse than Jordan did tonight. (Orlando should have been counting his lucky stars he was ever on TV in the first place.)  – Matt Hardy v. Edge. Big slugfest outside to start and they head in, where Matt continues pounding away in a more realistic style than you normally see. He grabs a rear choke, but Edge makes the ropes. Well, that kind of ruins the illusion. Hardy does some nice stiff shots in the corner, but gets headbutted and rabbit-punched in the back of the head by Edge. Edge spears him from the apron to the floor in a nice spot that again breaks the suspension of disbelief a bit. I guess within the physics of wrestling it’s OK, though. Matt fights back with forearms in the corner and does the corner mount spot, but Edge drops him on the ringpost and busts him open bigtime. Hey, nice counter. For those who said it might have been accidental, the replay clearly shows Matt setting himself up for the spot and guiding his own head down. Also, people don’t bleed from the forehead in a real fight. Just saying. Edge keeps kicking the shit out of him, and the ref stops the match at 4:45. For THAT bladejob? I’ve seen Mick Foley cut himself worse while shaving. Kinda cool and different for a bit, and then it turned into a burial of Matt Hardy. *1/2  (Oh, it would get worse.)  – Ladder match: Rey Mysterio v. Eddie Guerrero. This is of course for custody of Rey’s son, Dominick. And you thought that Matt Hardy v. Kane for the marriage of Lita last year was the height of silliness. Au contraire, I say. Eddie attacks him to start and gets a nice backdrop suplex, but Rey comes back with a monkey flip to send Eddie out to the floor. Rey charges but gets sent into the ladder, as the director is again fixated on shots of Dominick at ringside every 7 seconds. Eddie gets the ladder and makes the first climb for the briefcase, but the Big Bossman raises it up! Oh, wait, sorry, wrong decade. No, actually Rey springboards in to knock him off. Rey gets another ladder and they fight over it, but Rey kicks it in his face and then follows with a springboard to the floor. That’s pretty sick. Rey climbs, but Eddie follows and they slug it out on top. Eddie tries to bring him down with a sunset flip, but they mess up the spot. Eddie opts to ram the ladder into his face instead, and then brings yet another one in. Dominick looks concerned. Or maybe it’s hungry. Who knows with this kid? Rey gets slammed on a ladder and Eddie sandwiches him and hits him with the springboard senton. Dominick is still hungry. And they even have a replay of his blank stare. Just in case we missed it the first 10 times. Eddie climbs, but Rey makes a ramp with the other ladder and climbs up to follow. Rey backdrops him off the ladder and they all fall down in a heap, a REALLY ugly spot that looked dangerous in the bad way. Rey climbs again, but Eddie dropkicks him down, and Dominick is still hungry. SOMEONE GET THIS KID SOME NACHOS! Eddie puts a ladder in the corner on top of the ropes, and powerbombs Rey onto it to block a charge. Now really, why would you charge at someone when there’s a ladder behind them? Eddie climbs again, but now Dominick comes into the ring and tries to stop Eddie, as this breaks through the stupid barrier at Mach 3. Eddie stops to chastise the kid, but Rey attacks him and makes the comeback. 619 using the ladder follows, but really that would hurt Rey’s leg a lot more than it would hurt Eddie. Rey climbs, but Eddie comes up from under him and tries an electric chair, which Rey reverses into a powerbomb. Rey climbs again and grabs the briefcase, but Eddie kicks the ladder out from under him, and Rey falls into a powerbomb from Eddie. Eddie pins him under the ladder and climbs up, as they take forever and seemingly stall for time while Eddie SLOOOOOOWLY unhooks the case, but Rey wiggles free, leaving Eddie hanging on the hook. Rey pulls him down and Eddie freaks out on the ref, as apparently someone missed their cue and it screwed up the finish. I think he was yelling “Where the fuck was Vicky,” so his wife must have been scheduled for a run-in. Eddie hits him with the triple suplexes and climbs again, and now Vicky Guerrero gets her cue and runs in, trying to talk Eddie down. (Who would have thought that she’d end up being the player that she is now?)  She pushes him off the ladder, which would have worked better with Rey pinned under it, obviously, and Rey climbs and wins custody of his son at 20:19. It’s just so gosh darned heartwarming. Luckily someone remembers to cue Dominick so he knew when to cheer and run in for the celebration. Another disappointing, overbooked outing in a series of them. The finish probably sounded a lot more dramatic on paper than it came across on TV. ***1/4 And has any heel turned in a hot angle and then proceeded to lose more than Eddie Guerrero this year?  (It would shortly get even worse for Eddie, of course.)  – Eugene Invitational: Eugene v. Kurt Angle. No time limit here. Angle’s reaction and aura put him so clearly above Eugene that this should be little more than a squash. And indeed Angle punks him out to start and absolutely murders him to a big reaction, hitting a series of hard clotheslines before Eugene comes back with a spinebuster and gets booed. Retard Elbow is blocked with another vicious clothesline, and that gets two for Angle. The crowd is clearly behind Angle as he fires off the german suplexes and then drives a knee into Eugene’s face. Eugene fights back, again drawing the boos, but Angle casually dodges him and hits another german suplex for two. Eugene is TARDING UP, however, again drawing the biggest heel heat of the night thus far, and Retard Bottom gets two. Stunner gets two. Eugene pulls out an anklelock, but Angle is like “Nigga, please” (That got edited to “Bitch, Please” upon original posting at InsidePulse I now recall, which would be pretty much the only time Widro has ever asked me to change anything.)  and easily reverses into the Angle Slam and anklelock to mercifully finish at 4:32. Eugene’s character has gone so far off the track of the original idea that it’s just time to retire it and find something new to do with him. *1/4 (Like U-Gene, who does the same thing but on the indy circuit!)  Instead of a deceptively brilliant wrestling machine, he’s just become a lovable underdog jobber who occasionally steals moves of those above him, and that’s a loser character. (Just ask Santino.) Angle reclaims his medals and moves onto John Cena, rightfully destroying Eugene in little more than a squash. – Undertaker v. Randy Orton. UT overpowers Orton to start, speaking of characters who are falling off their original track. What got Orton over as a heel were his cocky promos, which he backed up with actions in the ring, not cowering from dry ice and special effects like he’s been doing on Smackdown lately. There’s already a million cowardly heels on TV right now.  (You’ll note that it was the transformation into crazed APEX PREDATOR Randy Orton that got him over once and for all.)  Orton comes back with a hiptoss into a clothesline, but Taker boots him down. Taker grabs the arm and tries to go old school, but Orton yanks him down with an armdrag and takes over with forearms in the corner. Taker slugs back and gets the leaping clothesline for two. Taker slugs away in the corner and hits him with a running knee into the corner, very slowly working him over. Another charge misses, however, and Orton starts working on the knee. DDT gets two. Orton wraps the knee around the post and drops a knee for two. Taker fights up, so Orton boots him down again for two. Powerslam gets two. Orton works the knee over and clips him, and that sets up another long stretch of nothing. Taker finally pushes him out of the ring to come back and gets the legdrop on the apron. Back in for the ROPEWALK OF DOOM as you just don’t get any sense of pain or selling from Undertaker. He’s really been phoning it in this year. On the other hand, it’s not like he’s had much to work with. Downward Spiral gets two. Snake Eyes, but Orton does the All Japan delayed sell and hits a dropkick before going down. This sets up the RKO, but Taker blocks it. They do the tombstone reversal spot, but Orton opts for a neckbreaker instead, and that gets two. Orton goes up with the high cross, but Taker rolls through into a chokeslam. However, Cowboy Bob runs into the ring dressed as a fan, and after Taker gets distracted it’s RKO goodbye at 17:16. Longer than their Wrestlemania match, but not better by any means. Taker had no interest in making Orton look like anything but a lucky punk and there was just too much laying around and nothingness here. **1/4 Compared to what Taker did for Brock Lesnar in 2002, and even what he did for Orton at Wrestlemania, this was really lacking.  (They had a pretty good Hell in a Cell match later in the year where UT finally put him over as something special, though.)  – RAW World title: John Cena v. Chris Jericho. (This feud did nothing for me and it was readily apparent that Jericho just wasn’t into the whole pro wrestling thing anymore.)  They fight for a headlock to start and Jericho powers him down, which leads to a quick slugfest and a corner clothesline from Jericho. He pounds away and gets a leg lariat, which puts Cena on the apron, but Jericho whiffs on the springboard bodyblock. Back in, Cena gets a running elbow into the corner, but runs into a dropkick. Jericho takes over and gets a low dropkick, going into a chinlock. Jericho tosses him and follows with a dropkick from the apron, and then gives Cena a lovetap to the ribs with his foot. Back in the ring, Cena gets put up and brought down with a superplex, but Jericho hurts himself a bit on the move. He still gets two. Cena comes back with his usual clotheslines, but misses the shoulderblock. The crowd actually starts to get into Jericho as a result, and he follows with the bulldog. Lionsault misses, but he recovers with a Victory Roll into the Walls, which Cena blocks by shoving him out of the ring. And then he guillotines him as he gets back into the ring. That’s actually a pretty good spot, and it gets two. F-U is reversed by Jericho into a DDT, and that gets two. Jericho starts working on the back with elbows and the crowd starts up a duelling chant, getting REALLY loud in the process. Jericho stops to get cocky and Cena cocks him with a lariat, which draws a mixed reaction. Cena comes back with the dreaded Flip Flop and Fly and more clotheslines, and the hiptoss slam sets up the backdrop suplex. Five Knuckle Shuffle draws big boos, but Jericho reverses it into the Walls. Cena makes the ropes, but Jericho pulls him back and the crowd is deeply into it. Finally he makes them again and the crowd is divided to say the least. Jericho stomps away on his head and goes up, but Cena catches him with a teased F-U from the top. Jericho counters that with a superplex and gets two. F-U finishes him at 14:46, however. Cena has a weird vibe this year, as he draws mixed reactions and bores me on TV, but consistently brings the goods on PPV. (Might as well get used to that.)  ***1/2 Maybe he just has a real talent for having the crap kicked out of him by heels or something. – Smackdown World title: Batista v. JBL. JBL attacks during the pyro, and quickly regrets it, as Batista beats on him near the entranceway and hits him with a fire extinguisher. They fight through the crowd, with JBL again getting the short end of that, but he uses a chair to hold him off. Batista solves that by spearing him through the railing. Well, that works. Into the ring for the first time, where JBL uses a short clothesline and stomps him down. He slugs away in the corner and uses a belt to choke him down. Batista fights back, but JBL catches him with the lariat out of the corner and goes for the stairs instead. JBL tries to powerbomb him on the stairs, but Batista backdrops out of it. Spinebuster, powerbomb, and then another one on the stairs finishes things for the champ at 9:05. Ouch. Well, this had the advantage over last month in that it was 15 minutes shorter and had a finish, but other than that I could live without ever seeing this matchup, or JBL in the main event, ever again. *1/2  (Yeah, well, you’d have to see both a few more times.)  – Hulk Hogan v. Shawn Michaels. Technical difficulties with my copy mean that I have to watch this match with the sound off, so if I miss anything particularly interesting crowd-wise or don’t catch anything particularly stupid from JR, that’s why. Lockup to start, and of course Hogan wins that. Shawn is already bumping like a pinball out there. Shawn grabs a headlock and gets overpowered, again doing a somersault bump off a simple move, and he bails. Back in, Shawn works him over and chops away in the corner, but Hogan beats on him in the other corner until Shawn goes to the eyes to get him away. Hogan clotheslines him out of the ring, and Shawn again does a somersault on the bump, then takes a breather. Man, talk about a contrast in putting someone over between the this and the Undertaker match. (Both are equally damaging, however.)  Hogan somersaults Shawn back into the ring and slugs away, and the Axe Bomber nearly leaves Shawn dead. Sadly, Hogan puts his head down, possibly hoping to blind Shawn with the glare off his bald spot, and gets kicked in the face to put Shawn back on offense again. Shawn smacks him around like the proverbial bitch, but gets whipped into the corner and does a Flair Flip as a result, which leads to Hogan slugging him off the apron and Shawn doing another somersault bump. They brawl outside and Hogan slams him on the table and then whips him into the post, which results in another somersault. It’s like the Marty Jannetty Memorial match or something. Hogan tries to send him into the post again, but you can guess what happens next, and yes indeed Hulk begins to bleed. Shawn starts to work the cut over in the corner as Hogan deftly slices himself open properly, right on camera while walking away from the corner. Hogan is bleeding all over, as I wonder why no ref is running in to stop the match like they did with Matt Hardy? I mean, there’s just as much blood and Hogan IS a senior citizen. Just to bring back memories of the 80s a little more, Shawn grabs a sleeper, which would seem to be counterproductive to his cause since it cuts off the flow of blood to the head. Perhaps a pair of gravity boots would have been more advisable. Despite it being 2005 last time I checked, Hogan is still able to will himself out of the move by wiggling his finger in dramatic fashion, always a handy bit of advise for those who find themselves getting choked down by anyone in real life. (I kept waiting for Chael Sonnen to escape the famous Anderson Silva triangle by doing just that, but sadly no.)  Shawn hits him with the forearm and kips up, which signals the flying elbow is near. Sadly, he was too stoned at Wrestlemania V to pay attention to what happened there when Randy Savage tried that, as Hogan pops up and starts firing away. But alas, the ref is bumped, because we haven’t had one all night and I guess we were due, and both guys are out. Shawn recovers first and tries his elbow again, but thinks better of it this time and opts for a Sharpshooter instead to really egg on the crowd. And it’s not a good one, either. I can’t believe he won the World title with it in 1997. Well, I guess there was other stuff behind it, but still. Hogan makes the ropes, and the second ref is now bumped as well. Shawn takes the opportunity to go low and grabs a chair for good measure, and after a lovetap from that and a flying elbow, it’s looking pretty bad for Hulk. In fact, the superkick looks like it might finish, because god knows Hogan kicking out of a top heel’s finisher is wholly unprecedented. But shockingly, it happens here, as Hogan steals Eugene’s act and hulks up. Punch punch punch big boot legdrop, you know the drill. Good triumphs over evil at 20:43, and now Hogan can go back to promoting his show and living vicariously through his daughter and leave the rest of us alone for a while. **1/2, all for Shawn bumping like a madman for the nostalgia act. The sign in the front row says “Hulk Still Rules.” I’ll take your word for it, brother. The Inside Pulse: A merely good show where a blowaway one was probably needed, as I didn’t see anything I’d classify as “great” and I saw a lot of stuff that I’d classify as “more of the same”. Hogan v. Michaels was an interesting one-man stunt show, but nothing I’d call a classic or go out of my way to see. I may not like all of the people involved with TNA, but they’re hungry and different, two things that this promotion is not. Thumbs slightly up.  (That would have to be VERY slightly.  Shawn-Hogan is quite the trainwreck to behold, however.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 2004

The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2004
– Live from the Center of the Universe, ON.
– Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz.
– Opening match: The Dudley Boyz v. Rey Mysterio, Billy Kidman & Paul London.
Apparently London & Kidman have won the Smackdown tag titles in my absence, presumably in a federally-mandated Jobber Affirmative Action program. (Until London opened his big mouth one time too many and fucked it up.)  On the other hand, given the white tights and London’s Latino roots, it might just be another attempt at Strike Force. D-Von hammers on Kidman in the corner to start, but gets dropkicked for two. London comes in for the double-team, and gets two. He jumps out of the corner and dropkicks D-Von for two, but a dastardly cheapshot from Bubba turns the tide, and D-Von gets two. Spike comes in with the flying stomp and pounds London down in the corner, and Bubba comes in with a suplex and drops some elbows. D-Von hits the chinlock and gets a powerslam for two. London fights back with kicks and heel miscommunication (and an enzuigiri) set up the hot tag to Rey. Flapjack and flying legdrop get two on Spike. Top rope rana gets two. He holds off the other Dudz by himself and brings Kidman in with a flying back elbow and some vanilla offense. It’s BONZO GONZO and London hits Bubba with a somersault tope, as Kidman and Rey give Spike a Hart Attack into a 619. Shooting Star Press gets two, as D-Von saves the pin. A 3D kills Kidman dead at 8:07, thus completely killing the previously hot crowd. That takes some REAL booking talent, man. I mean, it’s just a meaningless six-man, how hard would it be to give the faces a win and get the crowd juiced up? Decent, but felt rushed. **
– Matt Hardy v. Kane.
Winner marries Lita. Matt goes on offense to start, getting the corner clothesline and a boot out of the corner, and the Side Effect gets two. Guillotine legdrop gets two. Tornado DDT gets two. Kane slugs him down to take over, however, and gets a clothesline and some choking. Corner clothesline and Kane chokes him down, but charges and lands on the floor. Matt follows him out with a pescado and a Twist of Fate on the floor. Hey, moron, you have to hit that INSIDE the ring. They try the big crowd heat spot with a countout tease, but no one’s buying tonight. (Must be BIZARROWORLD!) Back in, Lita tries giving Matt the bell, and Matt makes good use of it, but only gets two. Matt goes up and gets caught by Kane, and booted back on the mat. Kane goes up and Matt tries to follow with a DDT, but Kane turns it into a chokeslam and that’s it at 6:09. Felt like little more than a RAW match. *
– Booker T v. John Cena.
This is the first match in a best of 5 series. Cena slugs away to start and gets a clothesline for two. Booker goes to the hammerlock and starts throwing chops, but Cena hits him with the Throwback for two. Booker crotches him on the top and dumps him to take over, however. Back in, side kick and kneedrop set up a leg lariat, and Booker hits the chinlock. Cena fights out, so Booker hits him with the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER and goes back to the chinlock. Cena gets a quick cradle, but Booker clotheslines him back down again, only to miss the axe kick. Cena makes the comeback with his usual generic stuff, but gets flapjacked by Booker. Cena gets the F-U out of nowhere for the pin at 6:25, however, in a slick finish. Too bad the match sucked. ½*
– Intercontinental title: Edge v. Chris Jericho v. Batista.
Batista jumps Edge during his entrance and we’re off. Jericho stomps on Batista in the corner and pounds away, but the POWER OF DAVE is too much and he elbows Jericho down and works him over in the corner. Jericho tries slugging back, but walks into a snap powerslam, which sets up the powerbomb. Edge breaks it up, however, and the crowd dies. Weird. Edge comes off the second rope and lands on Batista’s boot, however, and he sets up for the Russian Sickle, but Jericho trips him up and Edge dumps him. And then the crowd VICIOUSLY turns on Edge, and I have no idea why. (Because it’s BIZARROWORLD!) There seemed to be some booing when Batista did his usual bad job of taking the outside bump, but nothing like the boos for Edge a few seconds later. Next up, it’s Jericho and Edge, and the crowd clearly picks Jericho. They slug it out, won by Jericho, but Edge gets a knee to the gut and the crowd boos him AGAIN. What the fuck? Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge reverses for two. Edge rolls through a crossbody attempt and gets two. Jericho takes him down with the Walls and hangs on tight, but much like Jesus, Batista saves. He gets rid of Jericho and goes after Edge, but gets DDT’d. That gets two for Edge. Edge sets up for the spear, but Jericho saves Batista, only to walk into a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER that gets two for Dave. He tries the same thing on Edge, but gets rollup for two. Batista gets dumped and Jericho rolls up Edge for two. They counter each other and Jericho gets the bulldog, then dropkicks Batista off the apron, but walks into a spear at 8:25 to keep the title on Edge. The crowd is less than enthused, to say the least. Weird, weird, weird. The match itself was a mess, with no real storyline to it and a finish out of nowhere. *1/4  (Batista was on the verge of getting awesome at this point, though.) 
– Kurt Angle v. Eddie Guerrero.
Screw JBL, they should just put the title back on Kurt and be done with it. (He ended up with the other belt again a while later, didn’t he?)  Angle takes it to the mat to start and the crowd sides with HIM. They reverse on the mat and Kurt works the arm, but Eddie fights out of it and grabs an armbar. Angle takes him down with a german suplex, but Eddie reverses him into an anklelock of his own. Huh. Kurt makes the ropes and fires off a quick Angle Slam to escape. They fight on the mat for the anklelock, and Angle wins that battle, but Eddie makes the ropes. Luther Reigns boots him in the mouth to get him away from the apron, and Angle goes back to it again. They slug it out as Eddie makes the ropes, and Angle works the neck a bit before taking it to the mat again and going after the ankle. Eddie counters to a cross armlock, but Angle kicks out of it and takes him back down to the mat and unlaces Eddie’s boot. He chinlocks Eddie, but it’s escaped with a jawbreaker and an Eddie Slam. It’s a double count (at 8 minutes?) and they slug it out, won by Eddie, and he gets the rolling verticals. He goes up, but gets caught with the Pop Up Superplex, and that gets two for Angle. Another Angle Slam is countered with a Hurricane DDT by Eddie, and he goes back up again, but misses the frog splash. Angle Slam gets two. Angle pulls off the boot and puts him back in the anklelock, but the ref is bumped. I don’t get the psychology there – is the move supposed to hurt more without a boot? Because that’s not how it works. (It was referencing their WM20 match, dummy.)  Eddie uses the boot, however, and plays dead, before heading up with the frog splash for two. Angle, himself playing dead, suddenly pops up with another anklelock, and Eddie taps at 13:37. I have to question Angle taking the abuse he did, only to recover for the win without so much as breathing harder, but that’s par for the course with Kurt and his weird psychology. Anyway, the REAL problem with the match was that it was less of a coherent story than a bunch of bits and pieces of better matches thrown together with nothing in between the matwork and big “main event” spots. *** It was like “matwork, bam, Angle Slam, bam, frog splash, etc.” without any suplexes or slams or whatever to carry things along.  (Welcome to WWE Main Event Style, PG-Era.) 
– HHH v. Eugene.
HHH slugs Eugene into the corner to start, but gets elbowed. Eugene backdrops him, and the crowd suddenly goes pro-HHH. That’s the dangers of overexposing a hot character, kids. HHH uses Lillian Garcia for a momentary distraction (everyone’s good for something, I guess) and takes over back in the ring. He preps the Spanish table, but Eugene suplexes him back in the ring, and now the crowd is very pro-HHH. Or maybe just anti-Eugene, either way. (Or maybe it’s just BIZARROWORLD!) HHH fakes a knee injury and we get the worked “X” sign from the ref (which REALLY bugs me because then no one buys the real one) and of course jumps Eugene from behind. Backbreaker and the crowd starts chanting “Eugene sucks” as he makes his comeback. Eugene stomps away in the corner, and suckers HHH into a Rock Bottom, which sets up the Retard Elbow, but HHH catches him on the rebound with the MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER. He chokes away and sends Eugene into the stairs. Back in, more choking. They slug it out, but HHH catches him with the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. Eugene fights out, and backdrops out of a Pedigree attempt. And now, he’s TARDING UP! The crowd doesn’t care. Eugene makes the superman comeback and clotheslines him, and a Stone Cold Stunner finally draws a face reaction. They brawl outside and Eugene gets the best of that, but now Ric Flair comes out for the distraction. Eugene goes for the big boot and legdrop option, but it only gets two. The jokes about Hogan and Eugene are just too easy. HHH tries another Pedigree, but Eugene catapults out and gets his own for two. Since he’s a moron, he thinks he’s won, and the end result, as always, is KICK WHAM PEDIGREE and goodbye Eugene at 14:06. This wasn’t any good, but it was a lot of fun for a HHH match at least. You’ll note, however, the feud consisted of HHH outsmarting and beating up Eugene at every turn, then destroying him cleanly in the blowoff match. That’s why we love HHH here on the internet. **1/2  (This match is just gonna angry up the blood again, so we’ll move on.) 
– Hey, it’s Diva Dodgeball. Rent the DVD if you want to know what happened, because I’ve got better stuff to review, like, um, Undertaker matches. Figuratively speaking.
– Smackdown World title: JBL v. Undertaker.
This is all the more tragic because Bradshaw used to flunky for Undertaker. And speaking of flunkies, Orlando Jordan is now playing the Virgil role, without the snazzy tuxedo tights, after turning on Undertaker. (He’s now playing the Virgil role of sitting alone at autograph booths, I’m betting.)  This apparently was a bad thing to do, although Undertaker himself told Jordan to take whatever opportunity he could find during Jordan’s initial push. Of course, no one watches their own show, so this was forgotten, along with Bradshaw’s days as an Acolyte of Undertaker. They brawl outside to start, and UT works over the arm back in the ring, but Bradshaw slugs back. Sloppy neckbreaker and now Taker slugs back. Sideslam gets two for Bradshaw and he goes up with a flying shoulderblock and an elbow for two. And now UT goes back to the arm and the ROPEWALK OF DOOM. Flatliner gets two. Jordan gets involved, so Taker slugs him off the apron, and that allows Bradshaw to clip him and take over. He works the leg over as the crowd starts DOING THE WAVE. This sort of crowd insolence has not been seen since Wrestlemania VI, ironically during a Dibiase-Roberts match, which of course is ironic because Bradshaw is ripping off Dibiase’s entire schtick. (Hey now, to be fair, JBL also ripped off Stan Hansen.)  Taker comes back with a kneebar, and they slug it out (with no one in the crowd paying attention) and brawl outside. Cole notes that Taker can “mask the pain”. Or as we call it, “forgetting to sell”. Taker does his legdrop on the apron as the crowd chants for the true babyface, the Spanish table. Maybe they should make it the World champion. Bradshaw comes back with a necksnap, but goes up and gets caught with a superplex. That gets two for Taker. Bradshaw blocks a powerbomb and goes back to the leg again, using a spinning toehold. Taker fights out with a spinebuster for two. They slug it out and Taker gets his flying clothesline and corner clotheslines. Snake Eyes and, wait for it, another clothesline gets two. Obviously Taker is busting out the special Summerslam offense tonight, using THREE different styles of clothesline. Chokeslam gets two. He goes after Jordan, and Bradshaw is all “I’ll show you a clothesline!” and gets his own for two. They slug it out in the corner and, shock of shocks, the ref is bumped. Just what we needed. A double boot puts both guys out, and OJ tosses Bradshaw the belt, which he uses for two. Yet another clothesline from Bradshaw, but Taker powerbombs him for a long two from the recovering ref. Taker fights off everyone and uses the belt himself, and that’s a DQ at 17:39, because god forbid Undertaker does a job at 72 or however old he is now.  (You have to keep Undertaker strong before his yearly main event run!  It’s just the law.)  They brawl out, the universal sign of a rematch (whether we want one or not), and Taker slams Bradshaw on the limo. I hope JBL has zombie coverage on his insurance. This match can lick my nutsack and like it. *1/2 When the crowd gets preoccupied with the tables at ringside during the “dramatic” portions of the match, that means IT SUCKS. If I want to see Undertaker and his 15 clotheslines in World title matches again, I’ll send a memo to the front office. Of course, I’d probably be drunk or suicidal or both should I ever write that memo, so it probably wouldn’t be terribly coherent.
– RAW World title: Chris Benoit v. Randy Orton.
They fight for a lockup to start, and Orton pounds on him a bit and grabs a hammerlock. Benoit reverses to a headlock on the mat, and Orton makes the ropes. They do the test of strength, which gives Benoit a chance to show off with the bridge and reversal to the wristlock. Orton escapes and tries a kneedrop, but misses and gets taken back down with the wristlock again. Orton powers him down, but Benoit goes right back to the armdrag and stays on the arm. Orton breaks free and tries the dropkick, but Benoit dodges it and they fight over a Sharpshooter, which ORTON wins. Wrong country for THAT spot, man. Benoit powers out and reverses it, because he’s awesome, and while Orton crawls for the ropes, Benoit suddenly jumps on him with a crossface. Orton tosses him into the post to get rid of him. Benoit, in the spirit of the main event slot, bumps like a maniac, or Dynamite Kid on the REALLY good shit, whichever is crazier.  (Benoit is crazier than both put together, of course.)  Back in, Orton bends the arm in a nasty way and armbars him. Benoit slugs out and then throws the chops, but Orton suplexes him on the top rope and then fights over a suplex on the apron. They slug it out on the apron, and Benoit DDTs him there, and back in we go, where Benoit gets two. Orton scurries out again, so Benoit baseball slides him into the railing and follows with a tope suicida. That misses BIGTIME, and he just KILLS himself on the railing.  (Yeah, yeah…) He’s been watching WAY too many DK tapes lately. (He’s been watching too many MDK tapes more like.)  Talk about letting it all hang out for your art. (In a manner of speaking.)  Back in, Orton gets two. We go to a neck vice, and then Orton does the bodyvice neckbreaker for two. Onto the CHINLOCK OF DEATH, but Benoit fights out and fights back, and they collide for the double KO. Slugfest is won by Benoit with a headbutt and an elbow, but Orton blocks the german suplex, so Benoit turns it into a northern lights suplex for two. Nice touch. Back to the chops and they head up top, but Orton fights him off and follows him down with a high cross for two. RKO is blocked by Benoit with a clothesline, but he can’t get the Sharpshooter, so he fires off a german suplex instead. Back to the Sharpshooter, and this time he gets it. Orton makes the ropes, however. Benoit keeps going, hitting him with the rolling germans, TWICE. To the top, and the diving headbutt lands SQUARE on Orton’s feet. Geez, Benoit is going out in a blaze of crazy-ass shit tonight. (The craziest exit was yet to come.)  Orton recovers and gets two, but Benoit just suckered him in, and it’s the crossface. SWEET. Orton rolls out to the middle, and the RKO out of nowhere gives him the World title at 20:09. What happened to the last 10 minutes? Props for avoiding the usual formula, but it felt like there was more match coming and they just lopped it off. ***1/2 I actually liked the rematch on RAW better for build and execution. Benoit, ever the badass, makes Orton shake his hand to really put him over, after already putting him over clean in the middle. I always like to see that.
The Bottom Line:
The show was looking pretty good on paper, but the execution was rushed and some easy good matches ended up not so good. Not to mention the heels winning EVERY match but two (or every match but one depending on how you count Edge these days), and with the only really worthwhile match (Orton v. Benoit) getting given away on free TV the next night, is there really a purpose left to watching this PPV? I don’t think so, and I don’t think there’s enough good here to recommend it, either.
Thumbs down.

SummerFest Countdown: 2003

The SmarK Rant for WWE Summerslam 2003 Ah, my loyal readers…

Hey asshole you wonder why your fucking readership isn’t as large as it once was, why don’t you stop being a fat lazy faggot and post your piece of shit recaps quickly you fucking bastard…where the fuck is it? i don’t want to read any other goddamn recaps as i dont want to give hits to dick licking faggots like that fat mexican who runs your old message board, so p9ost your shit fag

That’s from [email protected], for those who wonder if people this dumb really do exist. But hey, who am I to argue with an eloquently-written letter like that one?  (He’s been working for the WWE writing team for two years now, I believe.)  – Live from Phoenix, AZ. – Your hosts are JR, King, Cole & Tazz. – Opening match, RAW tag titles: La Resistance v. The Dudley Boyz. Interesting sidenote: The Dudleyz are introduced as being from New York City. What, is Dudleyville shut down for the summer or something?  (DON’T YOU KNOW WHO HE IS?  HE’S FROM NEW YORK CITY!) D-Von hammers on Dupree in the corner to start and chokes him out with his own Sgt. Pepper coat. Clothesline and armdrag, but he gets caught in the French corner. He comes back with a shoulderblock on Grenier and a legdrop, but without a big boot it’s only worth two. Bubba comes in and slugs away, and then does the Tommy Dreamer nut stomp in the corner. Elbow and Bubba fights off both champs, and the Dudleyz clean house. Back in, he slugs Dupree down, but a cheapshot turns the tide and Dupree gets a backdrop suplex and elbow for two. They get a double shoulderblock as JR, trying for any bit of hyperbole, notes that he hasn’t ever seen quite this level of crowd participation at a Summerslam. Well, off-hand I’d say that the 80-some thousand at Wembley for Summerslam 92 were louder. But then you get into mathematical measurement of “pop per crowd member” and really no one wants that. (Herb Kunze would have been INTO IT.  He once did a mathematical breakdown of big splashes and the effect of torque therein.)  Dupree grabs a bearhug, but D-Von breaks it up. Bubbabomb on Grenier, hot tag D-Von. Backdrop and neckbreaker, and Grenier gets tossed. Powerslam on Dupree gets two. D-Von gets a clothesline, and heel miscommunication gives him two. La Resistance get a chokeslam for two. The Dudleyz regroup and it’s BONZO GONZO to set up the Whazzup Drop on Grenier and 3D on Dupree. It gets two, as Grenier misses his cue and barely makes the save. An Evil Photographer runs in, nails D-Von with his camera, and Dupree gets the pin to retain at 7:49. It is of course Rob Conway, who still doesn’t have a name but appears to be playing a character swiped from Master of Disguise. Match was basic RAW stuff and why these goofs get a PPV slot and The World’s Greatest Tag Team sit at home is beyond me. *1/2  (Because Grenier had connections with Pat Patterson.)  – On the way out, Coach foreshadows his later involvement by praising La Resistance’s effectiveness. – Meanwhile, Christian asks Bischoff for a spot backing him up later, but Bischoff has his own plan. – Undertaker v. A-Train. They fight over a lockup to start and Train grabs a headlock. He misses an elbow and goes back to the headlock. Taker comes back with a Russian legsweep for two. He pounds away in the corner, but runs into an elbow and Train unleashes CLUBBING FOREARMS~! UT gets a DDT for two, however. Even after CLUBBING FOREARMS? Dean would be shocked. Taker starts on the arm, and then gets the flying clothesline instead. ROPEWALK OF DOOM and he charges, but ends up on the floor as a result. Train drives him into the post and gets two. Train stomps away on the ribs and chokes him out as the blistering pace of the match continues. Well, it’s blistering in that it’s about as pleasant as leaving your hand on a stovetop. Train gets a suplex for two and slugs away, but Taker elbows back. Taker grabs the MAIN EVENT SLEEPER, but gets suplexed. Taker slugs away again and barely gets Snake Eyes, but they clothesline each other and both guys are out. So how do you tell the difference between that and the regular pace of the match? They slug it out again as the crowd doesn’t even buy A-Train’s PUNCHES as having a chance against Taker, and indeed UT gets the big boot and legdrop for two. Well, perhaps it also requires three punches and shaking the head. It’s a theory in progress. (Random note:  I was annoyed that older Hogan got so lazy that he shortened the Hulk-Up spot to skip about half of it, basically proceeding directly from the cheek-puffing to the big comeback.  That’s the ONE part of his nostalgia act that requires no energy expended on his part and he can’t even do THAT right anymore!)  UT guillotines him on the apron and gets a pair of corner clotheslines, but the ref is bumped. The REF IS BUMPED? In THIS match? Mehshugganator gets two. The ref is bumped AGAIN and Train gets the bicycle kick, allowing Train to get a chair. Taker kicks it back in his face, however, and gets two. Tombstone is escaped, but a chokeslam isn’t, and Taker gets the pin at 9:19. You see, Taker is bound for the main event again, so he has to be kept strong. Once again, you only hear that justification for one person in the WWE, and that’s him. (Well, and HHH.  I’m drawing a blank on where Undertaker ended up from here, actually.  Didn’t he end up against Vince McMahon at Survivor Series in that god-awful Buried Alive match?)  Super dull match. * Afterwards, Sable hits on him because he’s so feral and big and evil and stuff, but he shrugs her off and Stephanie comes out to get her revenge before Train makes the save. From STEPHANIE. Well, there’s your next main event program. Apparently Stephanie has forgiven Undertaker for the whole kidnapping and dark wedding thing. Well, it’s good that people can grow and forgive. (I grew and forgave Undertaker mostly!)  – Coach interviews some rubes at ringside to establish his presence there. – Eric Bischoff v. Shane McMahon. You know, using Jerry Lawler logic, I’m shocked they’d give this match away for a mere $34.95 instead of saving it for Wrestlemania. I bet when Lawler is at one of those fictional airports with Bobby Heenan talking to fans who are gathered around watercoolers, this match tops the list of things they’re buying the show to see, and they’ll probably call their friends during the PPV to tell them to order it mid-show. Shane slugs away in the corner to start, and then crossfaces him like a UFC veteran (unfortunately, that veteran is Tank Abbott), sending Bischoff fleeing. They brawl outside as JR notes that Bischoff’s treatment of Linda was as distasteful as anything he’s ever seen. Man, Bischoff’s quote about wrestling being no place for people with long memories was truer than you thought. (Especially considering Vince’s own quotes on the subject as of late.)  Shane continues beating on Bischoff outside (because Bischoff is a mere black belt in karate, but Shane is a McMahon) and has him at his mercy, when suddenly the awesome power of Coachman lays him out with a steel chair. You know, you may have thought that Hulk Hogan’s heel turn in 1996 shook the industry to its core, but I predict this will rupture the very foundation of wrestling for years to come. Bischoff makes the match falls count anywhere and gets two. They head into the ring, as Coach perfects his heel sneer and Bischoff lays in some kicks. They cut off JR’s mike (YAY!) and Coach does commentary while Bischoff kicks Shane. Coach is pretty funny here doing his JR impression. Shane fights back with a DDT on Bischoff, but Coach goes low on him. Finally Steve Austin does the walk-on to speed things up a bit, and Coach brags about how he can’t hurt him with provocation. So Shane trips Coach and a beating follows. KICK WHAM STUNNER for Bischoff, and Shane puts him on the Spanish announce table and drops the Super Shane Elbow for the pin at 10:33. So apparently the top programs are now Shane & Austin v. Bischoff & Coach, and Stephanie & Undertaker v. A-Train & Sable. I can see why they couldn’t squeeze John Cena into this show – the McMahons’ egos were taking up too much space. 1/2*  (Was this match really a thing?) – US title match: Eddie Guerrero v. Rhyno v. Chris Benoit v. Tajiri. Benoit tosses Tajiri to start, but Rhyno lays him out and stomps away. Short-arm clothesline, but Benoit chops back and takes him down with a crossface. Eddie saves, and then retreats again. Tajiri comes in and drops a knee on Benoit for two. Eddie gets some strategic shots again and escapes again. Rhyno clotheslines Tajiri for two, and again Eddie sneaks in, but this time gets caught by Benoit and slammed, and kicked down by Tajiri. Chops by Benoit, and Tajiri gets two. Rhyno chokes Benoit out in the corner, and then spears Eddie in the other corner. Powerslam gets two. Benoit hits him with a snap suplex for two, then turns his attention to Tajiri with a backdrop suplex. Cole notes that Benoit has had “split-level personalities” as of late. He wants to be a real estate broker? (Wow, that silly joke ended up being very not funny at all.)  Eddie dumps Benoit and Rhyno and chops Tajiri, but gets monkey-flipped. Backbreaker gets two. Rhyno dumps Tajiri and goes after Eddie, but Benoit ruins his fun. So Rhyno charges him into the corner, allowing Eddie to get two. Rhyno superplexes Eddie for two. Tajiri kicks the crap out of him and gets two. He tries the same on Benoit, and then changes up to a handspring elbow for two. Rhyno hits Eddie with a backdrop suplex for two. Eddie comes back with a tilt-a-whirl headscissors on Rhyno and the ropewalk headscissors on Benoit, which gets two. Rhyno breaks it up and chops Eddie down, but Benoit chops Rhyno in turn, only to get forearmed down. Eddie then puts Rhyno on the floor and goes after Tajiri, but gets kicked and recovers with the lasso from El Paso. Rhyno tries to save, but Benoit takes him down with a crossface. Eddie’s facials as he desperately tries to make Tajiri tap are great. Tajiri makes the ropes, so Eddie breaks up the crossface. But that allows Benoit to take HIM down with a crossface until the other two save. Rhyno hits Tajiri with a MAIN EVENT SPINEBUSTER for two. Benoit dropkicks Rhyno out of the ring and Tajiri knocks him down with a handspring, but Benoit delivers the rolling germans to Tajiri as a result. Tajiri uses Eddie’s interference to reverse into his own bridged german suplex for two. Tarantula, and while the ref is busy checking that, Eddie uses the belt to block the GOAR GOAR GOAR. Tajiri gets rid of him, but Benoit hangs him in the Tree of Woe and does the diving headbutt over Tajiri, onto Rhyno, for two. Tajiri misses the Big Kick on Benoit, they tumble out, and Eddie sneaks in to finish Rhyno at 10:50. Felt really short and Smackdown-ish. *** They’ve gotta do something with Eddie RIGHT NOW. He’s over, he’s wrestling the matches of his life, and he needs to be elevated before he can be killed off again.  (HOLLA!  I am the best, thank you for asking.)  – Smackdown World title: Kurt Angle v. The Real Brock Lesnar. Brock gives him a clean break to start, but Kurt takes him down with a facelock. They reverse each other and Angle takes him down again with a headlock, which prompts Brock to take a breather. Back to the headlock and Angle hangs on, but Brock kips out of it. Brock overpowers him off a lockup, but Angle shoves him into the corner in response. Angle takes him down with a pair of armdrags and Brock bails and throws a tantrum. So much for Happy Fun Brock. Brock takes a walk with the belt, so Angle attacks him and they brawl down the aisle, and back to ringside, as Angle sends him into the railing and back in. Brock misses a charge and Angle gets the overhead suplex for two. Brock comes back with a nice military press right out of the ring. If Michael Cole uses “lunatic fringe” one more time, I hope Tom Cochrane sues for royalties. Angle meets the stairs and Brock steps on his face. Back in, Brock stomps him down and gets an overhead suplex of his own, hardly even going down himself on the move. That gets two. Brock tries another press, but Angle rolls him up for two. Brock follows through with a backbreaker for two. Brock hooks in a chinlock, and Angle fights free and makes the comeback, but walks into a knee. Brock gets a backbreaker and stomps away in the corner, and chokes him out. Angle fights back with a rollup for two, but Brock clotheslines him down again. Delayed fisherman’s suplex gets two. Brock pounds away in the corner and they do what appears to be an extended planning session there before they slug it out to give Brock advantage again. Brock charges into the ribs in the corner, and amazingly DOESN’T miss. Another try does miss, however, and he hits the post. Angle shoulderblocks him a couple of times to work on the weakened shoulder, and then clips him. Rolling germans further hurt the shoulder, and Angle gets two. Another overhead suplex, and he blocks an Angle Slam with a spinebuster that gets two. They seem to be throwing each other around with abandon tonight. F5 is countered by Angle, but they mess up the spot and Angle lamely drops an elbow for two. Then they break rule #1 of wrestling by repeating the spot, with Angle this time countering to a DDT. That gets two. That would have been edited off Smackdown. Angle pulls down the straps and gets the Angle Slam, but it only gets two. Anklelock, but Brock counters and the ref is bumped. That’s what we needed, more ref bumps. Angle grabs Brock in what appears to be a rimjob, and then thankfully lets go and switches to the anklelock. The ref is still out. Brock taps with no ref, and of course Vince breaks it up with a chair to the back. F5 gets two as a result. Everyone’s shocked, apparently. Vince calls for another one, but Angle takes him down with another anklelock. Brock makes the ropes, but Angle pulls him away. Um, how does that work? Again to the ropes, and again he gets pulled back, which is totally outside of the rules, but Brock taps regardless at 21:19. Kinda oddball booking — building up Brock as a monster killer psycho destroyer for two weeks and then having him tap clean? (Get used to it, Brock.)  Match was good, but I wasn’t digging it as much as Wrestlemania, perhaps because of the ref bumpery and Vince’s involvement. ***1/2 Angle puts Vince through a chair as a birthday present. – Rob Van Dam v. Kane. RVD attacks to start and flips around, but gets clotheslined. JR notes that Rob has to “destroy Kane’s verticality”, and that it’s easier said than done. I wasn’t aware it was even easily said. They brawl out and Rob moonsaults him off the railing. Kane sends him into the post and finds a ladder under the ring (now REALLY, why would you even need a ladder?) and takes forever to bring it in, which allows Rob to see-saw it into his face. Rob gets a missile dropkick as JR notes that Kane may think he’s at Home Depot. Now THAT would be a funny skit. “Show me the plungers or I’LL BURN THIS WHOLE PLACE DOWN!” (Yeah, good look finding someone to help you there.)  They brawl out again and Rob gets tossed around, allowing Kane to do some exterior decorating with the stairs. What is this, Queer Eye for the Pyromaniac?  (Kind of dated joke there.  Maybe I should go with a Mike Holmes reference for a more timeless one.)  Kane searches for Feng Shui? Back in, Rob kicks him into the corner and flips around some more, and a legdrop gets one. Kane tosses him and Rob takes his standard bump into the railing. Kane rams him with the ladder after taking forever to set up the spot, and they head back in where Kane gets two. JR notes that RVD will never quit. Except for when he tapped out twice in 2002 on RAW, both times to lose the I-C title to Chris Benoit & Chris Jericho. So really, it’s more accurate to say he WILL quit, but only in important title matches. Anyway, Kane stomps away and does some choking and stuff. Charge misses and Rob flips around some more, but gets tossed again and takes the same bump to the railing. Kane follows with the flying clothesline, but on the first try slips and nearly breaks his neck. Yes, Kane is another dangerous psycho – the SHOCKMASTER. A second try works better, but he misses and Rob comes back with the ladder. Kane DDTs him on the floor, however. Kane charges with the stairs and gets tripped up, and Rob dropkicks him into the crowd. Rob guillotines him on the railing and grabs a chair, and follows him back into the ring with a spinkick. Rolling Thunder onto a chair, but Kane sits up. Dropkick with the chair sets up a Van Terminator, but Kane apparently moves out of the way, although the camera work was pretty lousy there. Kane tombstones him onto the stairs to finish at 12:51. This was way long and sloppy and was pretty much there to set up Kane for Shane McMahon next month. Kane’s window of hotness was a few weeks ago and the longer they try to use him as a midcard player without shooting him to the top, the colder he’s gonna get. History has shown it. **1/4  (HOLLA AGAIN.  Make all cheques payable to me.)  – RAW World title, Elimination Chamber: HHH v. Randy Orton v. Chris Jericho v. Goldberg v. Kevin Nash v. Shawn Michaels. They don’t even bother to explain the rules this time, which is pretty stupid. Goldberg is so pumped that he slips on the way to the ring. Jericho starts with Michaels in the ring while the other four are locked away. Shawn elbows out of a hammerlock to start, but Jericho rolls through a cross body for two. Shawn backslides him for two. They work off a headlock and into a pinfall reversal sequence (possibly for Flair’s benefit at ringside) and Shawn tries a sunset flip, blocked by Jericho for two, and reversed by Michaels for two. They slug it out and Michaels backdrops him, but Jericho goes for the Walls. Shawn reverses for two. Jericho bulldogs him but misses the Lionsault, and recovers with a clothesline. Again with the goofy title lineage, as JR notes that this title has only changed hands once in Arizona – the Halftime Heat match in 1999. But that’s the WWE title, which is the one held by Angle, not HHH’s made-up belt. They’re totally different things. Randy Orton is in next and dropkicks Shawn out, but gets chopped down by Jericho. Orton takes him down with a neckbreaker for two. Jericho with an enzuigiri on Shawn for two. Orton dropkicks him down and stomps away. He sets up for the RKO, but gets backdropped out and Jericho stomps away. JR notes that with flesh on steel, steel wins. I’d like to see Yu-Gi-Oh cards to back that assertion up. Jericho gets the Walls on Shawn as Big Blondie is next in, and he slugs everyone down. Jericho gets speared into the cage a few times and eats COLD, UNFORGIVING STEEL. Sideslam on Orton gets two. Short-arm clothesline on Shawn gets two. Big boot for Jericho sets up a Poochiebomb, but Shawn superkicks him over for the pin at 8:09. Nice to see Big Kev earning his pay out there. However, just because he has to be a role model for children everywhere, he throws a tantrum and powerbombs everyone to keep his nonexistent heat. Next in: HHH, sort of. Shawn immediately superkicks him, and it’s such a powerful one that he ends up unconscious for about 10 minutes. This match is like a grade school primer on how to play political games in wrestling. Everyone is dead and buried from the awesome power of the Poochiebombs, but they manage to crawl back to life and slug it out. I’m surprised they weren’t instructed to stop and cut a promo about how lucky they were to not have Nash in there to beat them up any longer. Goldberg is the last man in and he kills everyone, which shockingly, SHOCKINGLY, gets him over with the crowd. Press spinebuster on Orton, but Jericho and Michaels try a double-team and get clotheslined. Spear for Orton gets rid of him at 13:01. Jericho tries a missile dropkick and gets two, but Goldberg presses him into the cage. Shawn gets in Goldberg’s face and gets whipped into the corner for his troubles. Goldberg then deals with Jericho, spearing him through the mini-chamber, albeit not very cleanly. Shawn tries making a comeback, dropping an elbow and prepping the superkick, but the stomping only gives away his position and the spear and Jackhammer send him back to meet Jesus at 15:21. Jericho is dead and buried already, and the spear and Jackhammer are academic at 16:05. HHH hides in his chamber, as Flair goes nuts trying to prop the door closed and kick him out, but Goldberg kicks in the plexiglass to break him loose. He never learns about punching and kicking glass, does he? Goldberg pounds on him for a bit, but sets up for a spear and falls prey to the SLEDGEHAMMER OF DOOM and gets pinned at 19:15, thus sucking all the life out of a previously-hot crowd.(I’m sitting here nine years later reading that and I’m STILL gobsmacked that they actually booked that finish.)  Match was more energetic than the first EC thanks to shorter intervals, but as a match wasn’t as good and didn’t tell as good a story. *** And check this out for a brilliant political maneuver – HHH gets injured and refuses to job the title to Goldberg at the second-biggest PPV of the year, so he’s rewarded by being stuck in a match where he does maybe 90 seconds tops of in-ring work, while Goldberg demolishes anyone even close to threatening HHH’s spot and then jobs to the almighty sledgehammer. And then next month, when once again HHH is asked to do a job like, you know, a professional, he can point to Goldberg’s diminished heat from tonight’s match (or one of 1000 other of the same excuses he always uses) and get another win over him to keep the title for another 8 months. There’s a weird belief that the money is in the chase with this feud, but Goldberg’s been chasing him since June and still hasn’t gotten so much as the upper hand in the feud. And there’s certainly no money yet. In fact, when has Goldberg’s money ever been in the chase to begin with? He demolished Hulk Hogan in their first match to win the World title in WCW, and I didn’t see anyone trying to claim that Hogan should get the win first to set up the chase. In fact, the only real objection was that it should have been on PPV instead of TV. The fans were into Goldberg tonight, they wanted to see him demolish everyone and win the title, and instead the WWE continued to send the same message: We don’t care what you want.  (Yeah, get used to that one.)  The Bottom Line: I can’t really call it a disappointing show because I wasn’t expecting anything out of it to begin with. Angle-Lesnar was about what I thought it was gonna be, and the four-way was a little worse, so I’ve gotta go thumbs in the middle, leaning down, for Summerslam.

SummerFest Countdown: 2002

The SmarK Rant for SummerSlam 2002 Live from Long Island, NY. Your hosts are JR & King for RAW matches, and Cole & Tazz for Smackdown matches. You know what would be awesome? If both teams did commentary for the whole show on separate audio tracks, and when the DVD is released you can just switch audio streams to pick who you want to listen to. Or even live, using the SAP feature. (Does anyone even use SAP anymore?  Is that still a thing?)  Opening match: Kurt Angle v. Rey Mysterio. (Smackdown Six IN THE HOUSE!) Rey attacks from behind and gets a headscissors from behind Kurt’s back. I’m still waiting for someone with a deathwish to take a reverse rana bump – a rana applied to the rear. (Seen it in the indies.  Doesn’t look great.  I think Jack Evans is the only one who can take it.)  Angle quickly takes him down with the anklelock, but Rey flips out of it and sends Kurt into the corner. He tries the 619, but it misses and Rey gets yanked onto the floor. Back in, Angle stomps away and gets a suplex. Rey’s attempt at a bulldog is turned into a german suplex, but Rey rolls him up for two. Angle lays him out for two. Backbreaker gets two. Angle chokes away and slugs him down, and then blocks another headscissor attempt with a backbreaker. Nice spot. Into a half-crab, but Rey cradles for two. Angle puts him down again. Rey gets a jawbreaker and fires back, but Kurt blocks a sunset flip and fires off a suplex. Rey reverses the Angle Slam and dumps him. The ref gets in the way of a highspot, so Rey vaults over him and hits it anyway. Back in, springboard legdrop gets two. Kurt counters to an anklelock, but Rey counters that and hits the 619 on a dazed Angle. West Coast Pop gets two. Man, Angle is just bumping all over the place for Rey. Leg lariat and Rey goes up, and then dodges the Pop-Up Superplex. He gets too cute, however, trying a top-rope rana, and Angle counter-balances his weight and takes him down with an anklelock that probably sounded better on paper than it ended up looking. Rey taps at 9:20. Good hot opener, as Angle finds new ways to make everyone on the planet look like a million bucks. *** It astounds me that the WWE has Kurt Angle, Ric Flair and Chris Benoit under contract – the three people in North America who can elevate just about anyone to their level in any match – and can’t find something better to do with ANY of them. But hey, if Angle is doomed to fight Rey and Kidman in ***+ 10-minute matches every show, that’s a risk I’m willing to live with. Chris Jericho v. Ric Flair. Some people might have had high expectations for this, but I’ve seen their match on Thunder from 1998 and I wasn’t getting my hopes up. This match was one of those rare occasions where the actual match should have been secondary to the participants talking each other’s ear off week after week. For some reason they tried a more physical build to the match, as they attacked each other and rarely ever used interview time to hype the match. They do the psyche-job on each other to start, and Flair takes him down for two. Jericho hammers away and gets a clothesline. Backdrop suplex sets up an elbow, which misses. Flair starts chopping and dumps Jericho, and more chops back in result. Jericho returns fire and Flair can’t even do his Flip properly, which has to be the ultimate humiliation for him. They brawl outside and Jericho drops him on the railing and they head back in. Jericho slugs him down and gets a dropkick for two. The good old wrist tape gets used for some choking, and they slug it out. (In a world without blading, what purpose does wrist tape even serve anymore?)  Flair loses that battle. Jericho argues his right to choke Flair out to the referee, with his primary defense being that he’s the King of the World. However, since he apparently left his King of the World ID card at home, the ref forces a break. He opts for a suplex instead and goes up, but Flair slams him off. Wow, that’s the first time I’ve seen Flair actually use that strategy AGAINST his opponent. Flair chops back and gets a backdrop suplex for two. Jericho reverses a suplex, but Flair reverses the Walls for two. Jericho chops again to set up a bulldog, but misses the Lionsault. Flair goes to a half-crab (which looked like an attempt to try the Walls of Flairico) but Jericho reverses to a figure-four. Flair taps just as he makes the ropes, and Jericho thinks he’s won. I’m pretty sure if you submit, you submit, regardless of your placement in the ring, actually, but this IS wrestling, if you know what I mean. (Isn’t that really a ridiculous part of the wrestling thing? – if you’re literally screaming that you quit but you happen to be holding the ropes at the time, it doesn’t count.  Given that this is the case, why don’t bookers then use that trope to their advantage by making someone look badass and get a submission move over?  The other guy wouldn’t even have to lose, because he could yell and scream in submission but be in the ropes, so you get the move over and then the victim can go on to win anyway.)  Jericho crotches himself and Flair finishes with the figure-four at 10:23, which is just ridiculous because Flair didn’t even so much as kick Jericho in the knee to build up to that. Plus 10 for effort in getting the move over, minus several million for style. ** (I’m sure Jericho had no problem doing the job for Flair.)  I should note, by the way, that I’m willfully ignoring the porn-level acting by Eric and Stephanie in their pointless backstage interludes, as well as the ridiculous Nidia stuff from the World. Edge v. Eddy Guerrero. Edge gets a flapjack and they jockey for position, and Eddy pounds away. Criss-cross and Edge gets a slam for two. Edge ties him up and spears him, but makes the classic babyface boner of trying the same move twice, and misses in dramatic fashion. They brawl outside and Eddy goes for the arm. Back in, Eddy stomps him and takes him down by the arm. Armbar takedown from the top gets two. That is, as they say on the continent, MOTHERFUCKING SWEET, DUDE. (I’m very worldly, you know.)  Eddy works a hammerlock and stomps him down. Into a crossface-chicken wing of all things, but Edge fights free…and fights right into a Herb Kunze armbar. That’s some sweet matwork from the Master of the Mullet. Backdrop suplex on the shoulder leads into a wristlock, but Edge powerslams him. Backdrop, but he runs into an elbow. Edge with the bulldog for two. Eddy gets dumped and Edge follows with a bodypress to the floor. Back in, they head up and Edge reverses a superplex attempt into an inverted powerbomb for two. Eddy blocks a spear with a dropkick to the shoulder, however. The frog splash misses. Edge gets the Implant DDT for two. Another try is reversed to a Northern Lights suplex, on the shoulder, for two. Neckbreaker sets up another try at the frog splash, but Edge follows him up. Eddy fights him off and frog splashes the shoulder for two. Edge spears him out of nowhere (with the BAD SHOULDER) for the pin at 11:45. Edge sold like a champ for the whole match, but that finish was just inexcusable – if you spear a guy with your injured shoulder, you should crumple to the mat in pain. (I hope someone got FIRED over that one!) Well, the sudden outburst of psychology has not gone unnoticed by me, at least. ***1/4 WWE tag title match: The Un-Americans v. Booker T & Goldust. Goldust gets a butt-butt on Christian for two. He grabs an armbar on Storm and an atomic drop, and Booker comes in with an elbow and a sideslam. Kneedrop gets two. Goldust comes back in, and a cheapshot turns the tide to the heel side. The banter with JR & King is really weird, as King tries to bash Canada and JR steers things towards the bad people just being generally anti-American, rather than pro-Canadian. Talk about generic heels – they don’t even get home cities anymore (it’s just “Canada” in the ring intros) and their whole shtick is based on not liking America. Hell, bring in Alex Wright and let them defect to Germany and be neo-Nazis – at least it’d be politically correct to hate them, then. Christian could be all “Aryans totally reek of superiority!” and it’d draw MILLIONS. Or not. Anyway, Christian chokes away, and gets a backbreaker for two, as Goldust is YOUR freak-in-peril. I think the main problem with the face team here is lack of a catchy nickname. The wittiest one that I’ve had readers send to me so far is “Black Gold”, which is fine so far as you want to compare them to crude oil. Or maybe I’m just bitter because “Midnight Ass Rockers” never took off for Billy & Chuck. (And why DIDN’T it?) Goldust rolls up Storm for two, but Christian cuts off the tag. False tag follows (you’d think after 12 tag titles that Booker would know not to fall for that trick – but then he DID lose them 12 times, as well) and allows more heel shenanigans. Goldust fights them off and cradles Christian for two, but they collide. Storm draws Booker over, and thus no tag is made. That’s a pretty cool little spot that you don’t see anymore. (You don’t see much tag team wrestling at all in WWE now, full stop.)  Concerto misses, however, and Goldust makes the hot tag to Booker. He slugs away on Christian and gets a forearm. Missile dropkick gets two. Flapjack and the ref is bumped, so of course Booker chooses that moment to hit the double-axe kick on both heels and do the Spinarooni. Some people just never learn. Test runs in, punts him with the big kick, and Christian gets the pin at 9:36 to retain. That’s either setting up the lamest feud ever between Booker and Test, or setting the stage for Black Gold to make one last challenge in MSG and win the titles. (The second one.)  Either way, I found the match a major disappointment, with generally lethargic work from everyone. ** Intercontinental title: Chris Benoit v. Rob Van Dam. You know, it’s been said before, but this title has become so devalued and associated with meaningless midcard matches between guys with nothing better to do that they’re almost better off just scrapping it and going with the World and tag titles as the only belts in the promotion. (And this was when the title almost still meant something!  And in fact they did scrap the title two months after this.) I mean, come on, bully for great matches, but do you think anyone is even gonna MENTION this match tonight on RAW outside of “RVD brought the title back to RAW”? The belt has just become another crutch for lazy booking – as HHH/Shawn shows, fighting for pride can be just as effective as fighting for a belt. Especially with the kind of scrotum-less booking that results in a plotline of “Heel gets shot at belt and wins, face remembers rematch clause, face wins rematch” with no further development from the writers. (AKA Every storyline with John Cena ever) Where’s the chase? Where’s Rob bitching because Benoit jumped to Smackdown to duck him? Where’s Benoit defending against a Smackdown guy on the PPV and a pissed-off RVD storming the ring (the only way he legally can – on a PPV) to give the fans a taste of an interpromotional feud without wasting it on a meaningless match? Instead we get the focus on Bischoff & Stephanie as they play legal games with each other. Oh, no, Dawn Marie’s incompetence gave Bischoff the upper hand this week. Well whoop-de-fucking-doo. Anyway, I digress. Rob kicks away and Benoit bails. Once again, Rob is free to kick like a REAL MAN instead of a neutered WWE Superstar, because Benoit is the shit and Fit Finlay is at ringside. Fit’s the kinda guy who would wrestle RVD, get kicked in the face by one of Rob’s supposedly dangerous kicks, and then complain afterwards that the cartilage of his nose is still intact and thus Rob wasn’t putting his heart into it. That’s the kind of positive locker room influence you need – not Undertaker lecturing guys about how they can’t work, but FIT MOTHERFUCKING FINLAY lecturing guys on how they’re all pussies if they can’t take a little contact in their kicks.  (AMEN!  There was SO MUCH whining from people when RVD started in WWE about how he couldn’t work because of his kicks hurting too much and how I presume they didn’t want any of the giant piles of cash that pushing him even harder would have generated.) Back in, Benoit takes him down into a headlock, but he misses a charge and Rob cross-bodies him for two. German suplex turns the tide, however. Benoit goes for the neck, and short-arm clothesline gets two. Backbreaker gets two. Snap suplex gets two. Benoit goes to a standing armbar and elbows him down, but Rob cradles for two. Monkey-flip, but Benoit lays him out and starts chopping. Rob goes up and misses the moonsault, and Benoit misses the flying headbutt. Chris, PLEASE, retire that move. As cool as it is to see the throat-cutting sign again, another neck injury isn’t worth the pop. (Or worse…)  Rob misses the frog splash, and Benoit gets his first crossface of the evening. The major problem with the match comes up here, as Rob sells it like a chinlock due to his seeming inability to appear motivated for ANYTHING. (THC is a hell of a drug.  As I’ve noted before, that’s why I don’t smoke pot.  Motivation is a tough sell for me at the best of times, and I don’t need anything that’s gonna me even LESS likely to finish whatever project I’m working on.) RVD makes the ropes, and Benoit goes back to chopping him. Rob goes up for a quick move, but gets tossed into the railing and then into the post. Back in, Benoit gets a shoulderbreaker (is he trying to have a competition with Eddy or something to see who can bust out the most phat psychology?) and slugs him down for two. The audience gets distracted by someone telling stories of when the Islanders didn’t suck, so Benoit goes to a surfboard until security tosses the guy. I bet it was that trouble-maker Becker. Rob powers out, but Benoit holds the wrists and turns it into a strait-jacket choke. Rob rolls out of it, but Benoit takes him down again. You see, this is called wrestling. Not sports entertainment, but actual honest-to-god professional wrestling. Move, counter-move. Not hard. Trust me, if that’s all the fans are fed, that’s what they’ll pop for eventually. Rob gets his own takedown, but Rolling Thunder is reversed into another try at the crossface. Rob still can’t quite get his head around what he needs to do. Here’s a hint: Scream in agony and act like you desperately want to get to the ropes. Rob tries to reverse, but Benoit reverses that reversal into a cradle that gets two, and he sends Rob into the post for wasting his time. Back to the hammerlock, which is then modified into a rolling northern-lights suplex sequence, with each one focused directly on the arm, leading into another try at the crossface, and BY GOD if Rob doesn’t start selling that arm I’m gonna go postal. Benoit is just serving this match up on a silver platter for RVD and the lesson doesn’t seem to be registering. (Perhaps Undertaker was right and Rob doesn’t know how to work?)  Rob tries another reversal when making the ropes fails, so Benoit grabs his other free arm, positions himself between RVD and the ropes to prevent another escape, and then bridges up into a dragon sleeper. My god where’s Ricky Morton to scream like a girl and dramatically clutch his arm when you need him? (Probably spending his child support money on hookers and blow, judging by his recent troubles.)  Rob reverses that sleeper to his own unique interpretation of the crossface, but Benoit dropkicks the arm. Rob comes back with a springboard dropkick for two. Spinkick and Rolling Thunder get two. See, now how is he supposed to believably cartwheel around the ring when Benoit has spent 15 minutes pulverizing his arm? Spinkick gets two. Rob goes up, but gets crotched and superplexed. He reverses in mid-air, however, and both guys are out. Rob is up first, frog splash finishes at 16:29 and all the titles are now on RAW. You know, it’s kind of a shame, because RVD has all the credentials for being the pre-eminent pretty boy babyface, but he can’t sell worth shit and the fans don’t want to boo him enough to make him a heel. Thus, he’s stuck in the midcard and probably won’t go any further up the ladder. The crowd wasn’t into this much, but then Rob didn’t give them much reason to make an emotional investment into it. Notice how the gradual shift to in-ring realism has suddenly exposed guys like Van Dam and the brawling HHH as not being able to keep up with the times? Well, maybe it’s just me, but if they let Brock Lesnar start to show what he can do on the mat, the WWE main event style may in jeopardy of…gasp…changing with the times! (Brock did kinda do that with the Angle series, but then Cena came along and it went right back to the status quo again.)  Anyway, the big gap in psychology hurt this a lot, but it was THAT close to being a classic and unfortunately just couldn’t get over the hump. ***3/4 Undertaker v. Test. If anyone needs to take a break to pee, now would be a good time. I’ll wait. Test overpowers him, but Taker works the arm. Clothesline gets two. Ropewalk is blocked as Test crotches him, and they brawl outside. Back in, Test chokes away. Corner clothesline and he goes to an armbar for absolutely no reason. See, that’s the OTHER factor preventing submission-based mat wrestling from having any real impact – guys just using armbars as restholds with no rhyme or reason behind it. Taker gets a backdrop suplex, but Test slugs away. Slug being the operative word for this match. Taker DDT gets two. He gets his ropewalk and snake eyes, but Test stops a chokeslam. Another one hits, and the Un-Americans run in. JR doesn’t condone their Un-American activities, by the way. Him and Senator McCarthy both. (Now there’s the angle for Linda to play – just start accusing everyone of being commies!)  No DQ, of course, as Taker fights off all three and tombstones Test as an afterthought for the pin at 8:18. Always nice to see the guy with the worst match on the show get the title shot at the next PPV. Not actively horrible, but given the matches preceding and following it, fuck ’em if they think I’m giving it a break. 1/2* And really, hearing JR gush with American pride as Undertaker waves the flag is a bit silly, especially since Undertaker SHOVED HIS FACE IN VINCE’S ASS. Well, forgive and forget I guess, but MAN JR has a short memory sometimes. Official WWE Non-Sanctioned Match: HHH v. Shawn Michaels. Shawn is sporting his 1995 Smoking Gunns attire tonight, probably concealing leg braces or the like. HHH also takes us back to the past, shaving for the first time in what seems like years. He looks kinda like Homer Simpson without the beard. And almost as bald – check out the Michael Bolton Baldness Denial going on here. (Shawn’s got it worse these days.)  Another couple of years of shooting steroids and he’ll look like Kurt Angle. Say what you will about him “just working out”, but you don’t go from thick blond hair in 1997 to thin straggly hair and a bald spot in 2002 without some chemical assistance. Unless he’s got cancer, I guess. They slug it out and Shawn takes him down and dumps him. He follows with a pescado and they head back in, and do a chase on the way. Shawn finds a garbage can, but gets dumped on the railing. Back in, Shawn gets a clothesline and goes up for a double axehandle. Superkick misses and HHH gets a sadistic backbreaker and another one to show that he really means business. The psychology here is a gimme in terms of getting it over – it’s well known that Shawn has a crippling back injury, so any punishment at all to the back is amplified 100 times in the fans’ minds. It’s a great shortcut – you can skip 10 minutes of working the body part because one move, in the minds of the fans, is enough to damage the back again. HHH whips him into the corner and slugs him down. Elbow to the back gets two. I feel like singing “You always hurt the one you love”. Good old Spike Jones. HHH get a chair and blasts Shawn in the back for two. Shawn reverses a suplex for two, but walks into a facebuster and gets DDT’d on the chair for two. HHH uses Shawn’s own belt for some S&M-styled foreplay. Then it’s off under the ring, where he finds his trusty sledgehammer / phallic symbol, but Shawn fights him off. Man, this match works on so many levels, even the sick ones. HHH goes to an abdominal stretch instead, and that provokes an argument with Earl Hebner about using the ropes, which is of course completely ludicrous because the ref has no authority here. They head up and Shawn gets crotched and hung upside-down in position for either a chairshot to the ass or some spanking, depending on which level you’re reading this recap. HHH sets up the chair and drops Shawn’s back on it, which is just such a sick spot that I have to wonder about Shawn’s sanity. Sideslam on the chair gets two. Ditto. Pedigree, but Shawn goes low to block. HHH stalks him with the chair, but Shawn superkicks it back in his face to reassert his manhood in the relationship. A bigtime bladejob for HHH results. Shawn’s facial bleeding earlier in the match, by the way, was pretty much the first appearance of the legendary blood capsule in like 10 years, but I can understand not wanting to mutilate yourself for a one-shot match. Shawn fights back with the forearm and kip-up, and suddenly he’s on fire again like a revivalist preacher. Chairshot and Shawn dumps HHH and batters him right back with the belt. He even uses Hugo Savinovich’s boot, which might be a tip of the hat to his match with Diesel in 1997, but I doubt it. He finds a ladder and harpoons HHH with it. Catapult into the ladder gets two. HHH baseball slides the ladder back into him, and they head back in. Shawn superplexes him for two. Sunset flip gets two. HHH hits him with the high knee for two. He grabs the stairs, but that backfires and Shawn dumps him. A table gets set up and HHH ends up on it, and then through it via a splash. Ladder gets set up in the corner back in the ring, and Shawn drops the elbow and cues up the band. Superkick misses, but he reverses the Pedigree for the pin at 27:23. He probably should have just gone over clean with the superkick, but that’s not important. **** HHH attacks him and Shawn does the stretcher job to close out the match. (Of course I upgraded this to the full monty on rewatch recently.  Hope there’s no long rants coming up to make me look foolish.)  Now then. Yes, it was a great match, but there’s mitigating circumstances. First, the greatness of the match was based on two primary things: Shawn Michaels knowing the EXACT moments to make his babyface comebacks, and Shawn Michaels bumping like a man on enough painkillers to tranquilize Anna Nicole Smith with the knowledge that he is never going to wrestle again. The match stood out in stark contrast to the mat-based wrestling surrounding it, and thus seemed different and edgy, even though it wasn’t really. The booking was extremely protective of both guys, and the question you have to ask yourself is this: Who does it help? Does it help Shawn Michaels, retired for four years and back into retirement again now? Does it help HHH, already a big star and no longer needing the rub given by Michaels? Does it help any of the guys below them who had to watch HHH sleepwalk through matches with people he should have been elevating and then lecture them about needing to work harder? Notice how HHH gets motivated – wrestling a Clique buddy who he is only all too willing to show ass and sell his ass off for. Does it help the people above them who have been trying for 4 years to get out from Shawn’s shadow, only to have him try to steal the show again? What it comes down to is that sometimes a great match shouldn’t necessarily BE a great match, when a good one would have done just as well to show that Shawn could still have ANY match, period. I’m not saying that everyone should start deliberately dogging it so as not to show up the main-eventers, but did we really need Shawn splashing HHH through a table and diving off a ladder? The story of the match – Shawn gets his back beaten to a pulp but comes back because he has heart and guts – was enough of a story without all the ga-ga on top of it. Sometimes less is more. And think about this – what if Shawn had done his comeback match against Brock Lesnar and sacrificed his bad back to the bearhug in the name of getting Brock over as a career-killer? That would be a worthwhile goal. This, as it is, was good, but at best served only as an egofuck for HHH & Shawn in terms of usefulness to the promotion. If HHH was really serious about doing what’s right for business, he’d go out on RAW tonight and make someone a star, no excuses, no self-serving bullshit non-finishes, no inspirational speeches before and after. But who needs action when you’ve got words?  (Of course, I was wrong about Shawn’s comeback and freely admit it.)  WWE title: The Rock v. Brock Lesnar. Speaking of action rather than rhetoric, you get the Rock, whose entire purpose as champion is to make Brock Lesnar into a main-eventer. Do you think he whines to Vince about that? Do you think being the biggest star in the business and yet being nothing more than a sacrificial lamb for the Next Big Thing bothers him in the least? Brock gets a belly-to-belly for two. Backbreaker and the crowd gets on Rock with a “Rocky Sucks” chant. Well, they cheer for the Islanders, so what do they know? Brock works the ribs in the corner and tosses him, where a beating follows. Back in, Brock gets another suplex for two. Rock slugs back, but Paul trips him up and Brock stomps away. Powerslam gets two. Crowd gets on Rock again, so he starts using his subtle heel persona. Brock stays on the ribs, but hits the post and Rock gets a backdrop suplex. Both do the kip-up at the same time, and Rock slugs away, but can’t knock him down. DDT gets two, however. Rock goes after Heyman, and gets the Sharpshooter, pissing off the crowd, and they start chanting for Lesnar. Rock goes after Heyman again (Brock really should have powered out of that), which allows Brock to get the HULK-BUSTER ’02 bearhug. He holds it and gets a couple of near-falls. Rock’s comeback draws boos. Infidels. Rock goes low, not helping his cause any. Lesnar goes back to the ribs, and Rock fights back again and spit-punches him out. He preps the table and puts Heyman through it, finally dislodging the Yankees cap, and sends Brock into the post. Back in, Rock Bottom gets two. Brock should have just popped up and no-sold. Small thing, but Rock is leaving anyway. BROCK Bottom gets two. Rock makes one last go with the spinebuster, but Brock DOES no-sell that, and MURDERS Rock with a lariat. One F5 later, and we have a new champion, clean in the middle at 16:03. *** Lesnar should send Rock a Christmas card and 5% of his paycheque for the rest of his career because of this match. Now will the fans buy it? (Spoiler:  They did.) 
The Bottom Line: Best WWE PPV of the year, by far. (That’s not saying much given the dogshit we put up with in 2002, but yeah, this was some damn good stuff.)  Everything top-to-bottom (except UT-Test, but who cares about them?) was solid and the lesson about wrestling replacing brawling seems to be FINALLY sinking in with the thick-skulled management. Whether or not Brock Lesnar signals the start of a new era is definitely up in the air, but at least they’re trying, and I never fault people for trying too hard. (Except for Shawn Michaels and HHH, apparently.) Thumbs way up.

SummerFest Countdown: 2001

(I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not gonna get this countdown done before the PPV.  Oh well, much like voting for Linda, you knew what you were getting into with me.  Once again I redid this one a few years back as a tandem rant with Michael Fitzgerald, so I’ll seamlessly splice in my matches from that rant after the original versions.  It’s fun for everyone to play along at home with!)  The SmarK Rant for WWF Summerslam 2001 – Live from San Jose, CA – Your hosts are JR & Paul E. – Opening match, Intercontinental title: Lance Storm v. Edge. Once again, Lance’s opening promo is interrupted by offbeat shenanigans. You know, if years of reading Mad Magazine have taught me anything, it’s that offbeat shenanigans are only funny until you run out of material, and then you’re just some hipster doofus sponsoring a sketch-comedy show on FOX. Think about it. (Cracked is far cooler now anyway, even if they no longer have a magazine.)  Mat stuff to start, and Edge gets a flapjack and dumps him. They head out and brawl, and back in Edge goes up with a flying bodypress for two. Storm reverses a suplex and tosses him, as Edge takes the railing bump. Back in, Edge eats knee and Storm gets two. Edge cradle gets two. Storm gets a front suplex, a rarely-used move these days. Storm starts working the ribs, as Edge comes back but misses a dropkick. Inside cradle gets two for Edge, but Storm comes back and pins him for two. They slug it out and Edge goes for a crucifix, reversed by Storm to a rolling fireman’s carry for two. Back to the ribs, and a senton gets two. Don’t see much of that, either. (Haven’t you ever seen a Bully Ray or Tensai match?  Oh, yeah, it’s only 2001, never mind.)  Edge fights back, but walks into an abdominal stretch, in one of the very few instances where it’s actually a sound move given the psychology. Edge hiptosses Storm out of the ring to escape, but Storm goes up…and gets powerslammed on the way down. Double KO and they slug it out, which Edge wins. Backdrop and heel kick get two. Storm suplex is reversed to the Edge-O-Matic for two. Edge blocks a rana with a powerbomb for two. Storm slaps on the Canadian Mapleleaf, however, and things are looking bleak. Edge makes the ropes and hooks his own half-crab, however. Christian decides to run in, spears Edge by mistake, and Storm gets…two. Thought that might be it. Superkick is blocked, and the Impaler finishes at 11:16 to give Edge his second IC title. Storm carried Edge to the match of his career, but once again the Great Toronto Conspiracy sees the Ontario boy going over the Albertan. **** Note to certain people: That last part was a joke.  (No it wasn’t.)  (Take 2!) Intercontinental title: Lance Storm v. Edge God, I’d totally forgotten about Storm’s IC title reign. It’s also kind of funny thinking of the days when Edge was a smiling babyface. Storm complains about offbeat shenangians in his pre-match promo, but sadly gets cut off by Edge. I wanted to hear his reasoning! (Maybe he’ll go into an extended rant on Figure Four Daily one day.)  I should note that Edge looks WAY more cut up back then than he does now. (…allegedly.) Not that I’m accusing him of anything. (Exactly!  I said “allegedly” after all, so legally I can say whatever I want!)  They fight over a lockup and Storm grabs a headlock, but Edge faceplants him and dropkicks him to the floor. They brawl on the floor and Edge heads up with a high cross when they get back in, and that gets two. Storm comes back and suplexes Edge onto the top rope and sends him back to the floor again. Back in, Storm stomps him down, but Edge comes back with a rollup for two. Lance takes him down with a gourdbuster for two and drops some knees on the midsection to work on that, which gets two. Not sure where he’s going with this yet. Edge fights back, but whiffs on a dropkick, then recovers with a small package for two. Storm takes him down for two, but Edge fights back again. Storm blocks a crucifix attempt with a Regal Roll, and that gets two. We hit the chinlock as I guess Storm is working on the general area of the back, and a senton splash gets two. He goes to the abdominal stretch, so I guess it’s just general torso psychology tonight. Storm tries to go up and gets powerslammed as a result, and we do the double knockout before Edge makes his comeback. Backdrop and leg lariat gets two. They reverse into the Edge-O-Matic, which gets two. Storm tries a rana, but Edge counters with a powerbomb for two. Storm manages to roll into the Canadian Maple Leaf (half crab), but Edge powers himself into the ropes and then reverses to his own. The ref gets bumped and Christian runs in, but hits his own brother and Storm gets two. Storm tries to finish with the superkick, but Edge catches it and finishes with the Impaler DDT at 11:18. Not a bad opener, but certainly not as good as I originally rated it. The psychology was all over the place but it had a good pace and some nice reversals. *** – Meanwhile, Test gets all bitter on Michael Cole. – Spike Dudley & The APA v. Test & The Dudley Boyz. Faarooq quickly takes the double-team neckbreaker and D-Von gets his twisty elbow thing, but he walks into a spinebuster. Test pounds on Faarooq in retaliation, but the APA double-team him. Bradshaw gets caught in the Alliance corner, but no-sells and DDTs D-Von for two. Spike comes in with a small package for two. Bubba drops him on the top rope in dramatic fashion and he’s YOUR face-in-peril, as if there was ever a doubt. Test gets a spinebuster and D-Von gets a table. Suddenly everyone in the room calls the finish from 10 miles away. Can you? Test tries to slam Spike through the table, but Spike falls back for two. Dudleyz flapjack him for two. D-Von goes up and misses, hot tag Bradshaw. The APA cleans house, leaving Bradshaw and Test. Powerbomb for Test gets two. Spike tries the Acid Drop on Test, and of course Test javelins him through the table outside. Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Heck, and Shane-O-Mac makes a rare undercard appearance, clocking Bradshaw with a chair and giving Test the pin at 7:18. Man, Shane is just drooling to get Test over. Match was standard stuff, but pretty decent for what it was. *1/2 – Meanwhile, Christian gets a call from gramma…and gets blown off in favor of Edge. Ouch. (See, at this point they were still being portrayed as brothers within kayfabe, which is why it was made all the more confusing when they suddenly just became “good friends” years later.  IT’S STILL REAL TO ME, DAMMIT!)  – Meanwhile, Meat gets chewed out by Debra (In a manner of speaking), and decides to once again do something memorable, including changing his tights. “I don’t even KNOW what ‘mecca’ means!”. See, now they should just keep this guy around for comic relief. (Sadly, they did not and now he’s not even IN THIS BUSINESS anymore.)  – Title v. title: X-Pac v. Tajiri. If you don’t know who’s gonna win this match and why, you’re a sad, naïve soul and there’s no hope for you. They trade wristlockery to start, and Tajiri gets a standing moonsault for two. X-Pac rides him down, Tajiri responds in kind. Tajiri gets a rana, X-Pac bails, and Tajiri follows with a nice quebrada. X-Pac posts him low and kicks him in the back while he’s hanging there, for good measure. Back in, X-Pac spinkick gets two. Into the bow-and-arrow, but X-Pac’s shoulders are down for two. X-Pac powerbomb gets two. Broncobuster misses, and Tajiri kicks him in the corner and comes back with the handspring elbow for two. Tarantula and he goes up, but X-Pac reverses a bodypress for two. X-Pac goes up and lands in a weird pinning combo, but Tajiri catapults him into the turnbuckle and gets a german suplex for two. Tajiri gets dumped and X-Pac follows with a somersault plancha. Back in, Tajiri tries the handspring again, but X-Pac ducks it and gets the X-Factor for two, reversed to that weird submission move and a cradle for two. Albert lumbers out as X-Pac spinkicks Tajiri, but when he jumps onto the apron Tajiri mists him…and walks into the X-Factor for the pin at 7:33. Oh, what a shocking finish. Match was a bit on the short side, but good. **3/4 Notice the pattern: X-Pac finds the new hot thing (Kidman, Tajiri), puts them over to set up a rematch, and then wins the last match so that he can bury them and make sure they don’t get over. HHH must be teaching classes now or something.  (In fact he’s now head of developmental, so yes, in a manner of speaking, he is teaching classes.)  (Take 2!) Cruiserweight v. Light Heavyweight title: X-Pac v. Tajiri So Tajiri had the WWF belt and X-Pac had the WCW belt, despite them representing the opposite brands at this point. X-Pac was busy dragging both Justin Credible and Albert down with him via his “X Factor” stable. X-Pac takes Tajiri down with an armdrag while Jim Ross reminds people to call and harass DirectTV about not carrying WWF PPVs any longer. Boy, that was a one-sided fight, as it turned out. They trade takedowns and smack each other around, then X-Pac flips out of a hiptoss attempt before Tajiri dumps him and follows with a baseball slide. A nice plancha follows and they brawl on the floor, but Tajiri meets the post nut-first. Even his puffy pants couldn’t save him there. Back in, Tajiri tries flipping in, but X-Pac hits him with a spinkick to set up a bow-and-arrow. That results in X-Pac’s shoulders being down, so it gets two for Tajiri. Tajiri tries a rana, which is countered to a powerbomb for two. X-Pac misses the Bronco Buster and gets hung in the Tree of Woe, and Tajiri dropkicks him and makes the comeback. Handspring elbow gets two. Tarantula and he goes up with a high cross, but X-Pac rolls through for two. They fight in the corner and Tajiri gets a weird pinning combo for two, then catapults him in to the corner and into a german suplex for two. Tajiri goes to the apron and gets kicked to the floor as a result, and X-Pac follows with a somersault tope, actually showing some motivation tonight. Must have had the good shit delivered to him. (Allegedly.) Back in, the X-Factor gets two. Albert wanders out for moral support as Tajiri escapes a powerbomb, but Tajiri stops to spray the deadly RED MIST OF DEATH at Albert, allowing X-Pac to finish with another X-Factor at 7:23. (Little known fact:  The deadly red mist, which has strange, short-term effects on anyone sprayed with it, in fact made Albert believe himself to be Japanese for a time, so much so that he moved to Japan and tricked all the internet fans into thinking he didn’t still completely suck.)  Short but full of cool highspots and an energetic Sean Waltman. *** X-Pac had both belts as a result, although the WWF one, in a move very unlike the organization, would be jettisoned in favour of the WCW Cruiserweight title instead. – Chris Jericho v. Rhyno. Speaking of “As the Political World Turns”, here’s another interesting match, based more on connections than actual booking. (What, the PBS series hosted by James Burke?  Because that was AWESOME!) Slugfest is won by Rhyno, and he grabs a headlock. Jericho crossbodies him and unleashes MIDCARD VIOLENCE. Rhyno tosses him, but he comes back in with a shot off the top for two. Walls of Jericho are blocked, but Rhyno bails and gets hit with the springboard dropkick. He goes up, but Steph’s giant mammaries distract him and block out half the ringlights, allowing Rhyno to GOAR GOAR GOAR Jericho on the way down to the floor. Back in, it gets two. Rhyno goes all OLD-SKOOL~!, with a body-scissors and AIRPLANE SPIN, BABEE! See, I was just calling for the resurrection of that move in the Wrestling Gold rants. That’s service. We hit the chinlock, and Jericho fights out and gets a rollup for two. Rhynoplex and he goes up, but misses a splash. Of course, had Jericho not moved it wouldn’t have hit anyway, but that’s neither here nor there. Jericho backslide gets two, and he comes back. A moonsault press is BADLY blown, but gets two. Rhyno misses a blind charge and Jericho goes up, and manages to blow a missile dropkick in EVEN WORSE fashion, slipping off the top completely and nearly breaking his neck. Note to Chris: Get rid of the damn lifts, you’re not fooling anyone. Note to Stephanie: There’s your comeback next time he makes fun of your gigantic bazookas. Note to Rhyno: I don’t really have anything witty to say to you, but I didn’t want you feeling left out. They then break my first rule of wrestling by repeating the spot, and this time Jericho tries from the middle to play it safe, and thus hits it. But alas, Sable McMahon-Helmsley is distracting the ref, so Jericho heads over and kisses her, setting up what I think we all know is coming down the road. Lionsault gets two, but Rhyno comes back with a spinebuster and Walls of Rhyno! Jericho makes the ropes and Rhyno preps for the GOAR GOAR GOAR, but misses and Jericho finishes with a Rhynotamer at 12:34. Good effort from everyone not 3 inches taller than they should be. *** (This was of course a LEGENDARY source of botched spot hilarity later on.)  I hear through the grapevine that Jericho is now actively sucking up to the booking committee, which both delights and depresses me, for entirely differing reasons. (Pff, what’s that gonna get him, both WCW and WWF World titles at the same time for the first time in history?  Dream on, Jericho!)  But then I’m only truly faithful to the Other Chris when it comes down to it, (You know, Chris Evans, Captain America and Johnny Storm, that guy…) so what happens to Jericho at this point in his career has become less important to me with every PPV. Note to conspiracy theorists: JR sewed the seeds of the double-turn by declaring that Rhyno would look good in WWF colors. Maybe that just means he wants to dress him in a panda suit… (Oh that joke proved to be far too close to home, as it turned out.)  – Hardcore ladder match: Jeff Hardy v. Rob Van Dam. Matwork to start establishes parity. They trade kicks and Jeff legdrops him low, and Rob backs off. Jeff gets dumped, but hiptosses Rob out and follows with a corkscrew plancha. He comes off the top and hits railing, allowing RVD to get the guillotine legdrop and grab the ladder. Jeff meets with the railrunner and brings the ladder in himself, but takes it in the jaw. Rob straddles the ladder to pick it up, and takes it in the crotch. Hardy 1, RVD 0. Double-jump moonsault on the ladder follows, but a blind charge misses and Rob hangs him in the Tree of Woe and does bad stuff to him, like forcing him to watch those old matches from Shotgun in 98 where the Hardy Boyz were dressing like Bon Jovi and jobbing to Los Boriquas.  (As opposed to now, where Jeff paints eyes on his eyelids and looks like a rave party survivor.)  Okay, he just kicks him in the face a bunch of times, but I think the former would be more painful. Rob puts Jeff on the ladder and somersaults across the ring onto it, and then spinkicks and superkicks Jeff to set up another guillotine legdrop, this time onto the ladder. Rob showboats outside and turns around to meet the ladder face-first, buying Jeff some time. Jeff climbs but gets dropkicked off. A cartwheel splash onto the ladder kills Jeff. Rob should have one of those gymnastics balls and a length of ribbon tied around his wrist to complete his ensemble. I mean, a friggin’ CARTWHEEL? He climbs, but gets dropkicked and falls off, wiping out both guys. Jeff DDTs him and goes up, but misses the swanton. ***** frog splash also misses. Jeff climbs again, RVD follows, and superplexes Jeff off the ladder. Rob goes back up, Jeff follows, and powerbombs him off the ladder. Jeff climbs again and grabs the belt, but Rob yanks the ladder away, leaving him swinging there. Missile dropkick fails to dislodge him, but Jeff eventually falls anyway, without the belt. Jeff goes back up, but Rob pushes him over (and hurt Jeff’s leg on the ropes from the looks of things), climbs up himself, and regains the title at 16:33. You could see they were trying to tone down the crazy spots a lot, but the result is a lacklustre, although still really good, ladder match. **** (Take 2!) WWF Hardcore title, ladder match: Jeff Hardy v. Rob Van Dam This is a rematch from Invasion 2001, which basically unleashed RVD on the world. They do some mat-wrestling to start, but who are we kidding here? They slug it out and Rob blocks a rollup, but stops to pose and gets hiptossed to the floor. Jeff follows with a corkscrew quebrada and they brawl on the floor. Rob hits the post, but Jeff tries to follow with a dive and hits the railing instead. So I’d call it even. Rob guillotines him on the railing, but Jeff comes back and runs the railing to keep Rob from fetching the ladder. Jeff tries to bring the ladder into the ring, but Rob catapults it into his face, and then Jeff returns the favour. Both spots were pretty contrived. Jeff springboards back in with a moonsault and follows with his double legdrop thing, but runs into an elbow in the corner. RVD hangs him in the Tree of Woe and backflips into a shoulderblock. See, now there the flip makes sense, because it builds momentum for the strike by allowing him to spring off his legs. He puts Jeff on the ladder and hits him with Rolling Thunder onto it, back when that was a new move for WWF audiences. Jeff fights up, but Rob spinkicks him and then puts him on the ladder again with a superkick and springs over the top with a legdrop. He takes a breather on the floor, but Jeff dropkicks the ladder into his face and tries to climb for the first time. Rob dropkicks him off the ladder to break it up. He puts the ladder onto Hardy and moonsaults it, which is one of those spots where it can’t do enough damage to the other guy to justify the damage to yourself, but that’s wrestling for ya. Rob climbs and Jeff gives him a receipt on the dropkick, so now they’re even again. Jeff DDTs RVD and heads up, with nary a ladder in sight, but he misses the swanton and Rob then pops up and misses the frog splash. Talk about your 50/50 booking. Jeff is the least injured so he climbs, and Rob follows him up and brings him down with a suplex. So now Rob climbs and it’s Jeff’s turn to bring him down, in this case with a powerbomb. And people watch them taking flat back bumps like that and wonder why wrestlers get addicted to painkillers? (Or get caught holding them with intent to distribute…) Jeff climbs and grabs the belt, but Rob removes the ladder, leaving Hardy swinging in the proverbial wind. Rob tries a spectacular spot where he spinkicks him off the belt, but misses and it just looks silly. Jeff falls down anyway, so mission accomplished, if indirectly. Jeff climbs again, but Rob is on it and pushes the ladder over, and this time Jeff can’t stop him from reaching the title at 16:33. The finish was less than inspiring, but the bumps were sick and it turned RVD into a star, so good on them. ***1/2 – Meanwhile, Shane has a gift for Booker: Bookends made out of the announce table. Awww. – WWF v. WCW tag titles: DDP & Kanyon v. Underseller & Kane. The brothers dismantle the Jersey Boyz and no-sell EVERYTHING, including a lowblow and two shots to the cage from DDP. UT no-sells a clothesline and more carnage follows. Kanyon gets chokeslammed and DDT gets pole-vaulted into the cage. Kanyon finally manages a fame-asser on Kane and DDP DDTs UT. They climb, but UT grabs DDP and tells Kane to let Kanyon get out. So it’s 2-on-1, and they just absolutely murder DDP, giving him literally no offense. Finally, he just tells Page to get the hell out and don’t come back, but even then changes his mind, chokeslams him, and finishes with the Last Ride to unify the titles at 10:17. 1/2* You know, I know that DDP is being a jerk backstage and that’s why this match was made into what it was, but for someone paying $30 to watch this at home who DOESN’T know this stuff, this had no place on PPV. I mean, you’re paying DDP like $300,000 a year and using him as a JOB GUY for Undertaker? What’s the point? They already used O’Haire and Palumbo in that slot two shows in a row, and they make a hell of a lot less than DDP does and have FAR more years ahead of them in the business. I hope to GOD this feud is finally put to rest once and for all (it was) and they just get rid of DDP and get it over with so that Kanyon isn’t brought down any further.  (They did get rid of DDP the next year, but things didn’t end up good for Kanyon in the end.)  Wasting a potential money-drawing unification match to play political games is the kind of thing WCW used to do. I’m pretty sure that Vince McMahon is above that sort of stuff and I hope he’s gotten it out of his system now. (BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!) And let’s place our bets now on what goofy non-finish is used to get the unified titles off them.  (Two fairly clean jobs, actually, one to the Dudley Boyz to get the WWF titles off them, and one to Booker T & Test to get the WCW belts.)  – WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Kurt Angle. Fight on the floor to start, and Austin whales on him. Into the ring, Angle takes him down and they pound on each other like schoolkids fighting over a girl. Angle stomps a mudhole, but makes a crucial tactical error by not walking it dry, and Austin gets his own shots in. Angle clothesline and bodyblock get two, however. He puts his head down and gets caught, and Austin works on the knee. Stepover toehold is countered with the anklelock, but Austin makes the ropes. Outside, Austin hits a clothesline and they head in, where Austin dumps him again to soften up the ankle. Back in, a triple suplex gets two, but Angle comes back and gets seven german suplexes. HEY! That’s gimmick infringement! Angle Slam is blocked, and Austin sends him to the turnbuckle. Austin puts him on top, but Angle blocks a superplex. Austin keeps wearing him down and gets it on the second try. Good psychology there. KICK WHAM STUNNER out of nowhere…gets two. Again, and Angle goes flying out of the ring on the rebound. Austin viciously posts him, drawing blood as promised on RAW. Another two postings are added for good luck, then one for the road and one to grow on. Angle, as you might guess, looks like Tommy Dreamer after taking a tour of the cheese grater factory. Austin slugs him down for two, then tosses him back out and back to that post again. Angle finally sends Austin into the crowd, but Austin suplexes him on the concrete. As Austin climbs back in, however, Angle catches the anklelock, then drags him into the ring by the foot and keeps it on until Austin makes the ropes. Austin bails as Angle bleeds to death. Belly to belly on the floor turns the tide for Angle, and a backdrop suplex there helps. Back in, Angle hits the Anglesault for two. Austin grabs a Million Dollar Dream (!!), but Angle shows awesome psychology by using the Bret Hart Counter from Survivor Series 96 for two, which Austin then counters by rolling out of it and maintaining the sleeperhold. I bow to the Buddha nature of these guys and am not worthy to recap their matches. Angle dumps him to break, but Austin sneaks back in, KICK WHAM STUNNER…gets two. The crowd and my young cousins nearly have a collective heart attack. (I have no idea who the hell I would have been watching with in 2001 unless I was off visiting my family at the time.  This was pre-marriage so I would have been watching with my usual crew in Edmonton, I would think.  Nothing you care about, of course, but I’m always curious about the off-hand things I would write and then forget about.)  Angle crawls up, blocks another Stunner, and gets the Angle Slam for the double KO. Angle crawls over for two. Anklelock, but Austin is in the ropes, and just in case he decks the ref. DDT from Angle, but a second ref counts two. Austin takes that ref out. Third ref in, third ref out. Angle Slam, no ref. Nick Patrick comes in, disqualifies Austin for grievous mistreatment of WWF officials, and the crowd is PISSED at 23:11. Man, they totally booked themselves into a corner with this match – they couldn’t put Austin over because it would destroy Kurt Angle, but they couldn’t put Angle over because they need Austin strong for the unification match against Rock. (Which never happened.) And that’s why DQs were invented. If it had a finish, it’s Match of the Year, but it didn’t, so it ain’t. ****1/2 (Take 2!)  WWF World title: Steve Austin v. Kurt Angle Ah, for the days when Angle wasn’t a bloated freak. Austin had of course just betrayed the WWF and joined the Alliance, in vain hopes of salvaging his horrible heel turn. Really, casting Austin as the Bad Guy and Angle as the All-American Boy was the wrong thing for both guys, when each worked better on the other side of the fence. Luckily for the booking team, September 11 came along and gave them a need for an American hero. It was of course unlucky for everyone else in the world, but the point still stands. Big brawl to start and Angle takes him down in the ring and pounds away in the corner, but Austin fires back with chops. Angle gets a clothesline out of the corner and follows with a bodypress for two, but puts his head down and gets clobbered. Austin stomps him down, but Angle quickly grabs the anklelock, forcing Austin to make the ropes. They head out and Austin wins a quick brawl, but Angle is game for a slugfest in the ring. Austin dumps him to end that. Back in, Austin gets a pair of suplexes, and a third one gets two. Angle fires back with the rolling germans, and he manages seven of them, but Austin goes to the eyes to block the Angle Slam. Austin puts Angle on top, but his superplex attempt is blocked, and he has to fight his way back up and get it on the second attempt. I love it when guys have to fight for a move like that, because it adds a touch of realism to a move that’s so fundamentally ridiculous if you stop and think about the cooperation needed to pull it off. KICK WHAM STUNNER gets two, and then a second one actually sends Angle flying out of the ring. Angle sends him SQUARE into the post, and if that isn’t a cue for blood I don’t know what is. And then again for good measure, because Austin is a bastard. And a third one, just so Angle knows who’s boss. Angle’s cartoonish, flat back sell of each one is awesome stuff. Austin gives him two more, although the sixth one is more of a blow to the shoulder, and sure enough Angle is bleeding. Austin, his facial expressions showing why he was the best wrestler in the world for so long, slugs on the cut with glee, and gets two back in the ring. Back to the floor and Angle gets a seventh trip to the post. You know, I don’t recall anyone else doing that kind of spot, where you punish a guy with multiple postings like that. Someone should steal it, because I totally forgot about it until watching it again now. Austin continues the beating, suplexing him into the crowd, but Angle snaps and anklelocks him on the floor. That’s just silly, but Angle is a smart guy and he drags Austin back in and does it again, forcing Austin to make the ropes. Austin bails, so now Angle goes on the offensive and hits him with a belly to belly suplex on the floor and then follows with a backdrop suplex. Back in, the Anglesault gets two. Austin tries a tilt-a-whirl and Angle escapes, so Austin changes gears and hooks the Million Dollar Dream, which JR makes sure to call the cobra clutch instead because Ted Dibiase was persona non grata with WWE at that point. Angle does the Bret Hart reversal for two, but it’s 5 years later and Austin knows better, and he hangs on. I don’t know if that was intentional, but that’s how I interpreted it. And it’s my review, so nyah. Angle dumps him to escape, but Austin (still selling the ankle) sneaks back in with malice and it’s KICK WHAM STUNNER for two. Austin’s evil expressions just make the match. Angle is a fabulous worker and talker, but Austin is on another planet when it comes to the little touches. Angle pulls himself up and Austin gives him the disdainful glare, which Angle uses as a chance for the Angle Slam. That gets two. Another anklelock try, but Austin was already in the ropes and he escapes. Ref is bumped and Angle DDTs Austin, which brings out another ref for the count. That gets two. Austin goes low on Angle and the new ref gets in his face, and you can guess what happens to him. A third ref comes in to prevent Austin from using the belt, but Steve beats on him like he was his wife or something. Angle Slam, but Evil Ref Nick Patrick runs in to finish off the three-ring circus of refs and disqualifies Steve Austin at 22:37. Angle’s great, but this was the Steve Austin Show, as he carried everything on two legs to match of the year candidates in 2001, including HHH, the Rock and then of course Angle. ****1/2 If this was a one-off thing then the DQ would piss me off more than it did, but Angle went over clean at Unforgiven so no biggie. My friend Ed Koskey later complained to me that Austin changed the booking around, altering the original plans of Angle beating on him so badly that he needed to get himself disqualified, but I think this way made for a better match anyway so I can understand both sides of the argument. – WCW Title match: Booker T v. The Rock. Rock slugs away and chases Shane, allowing Booker to catch him coming back in. Rock gets a Samoan drop for two, but walks into a kneelift. The Book unloads with chops, but Rock lays the smackdown. La Majistral gets two. Good lord, Rocky. Booker hits the sidekick for two, and they slug it out again. Booker gets bumped, and they brawl until Rock goes low, pissing off Paul Heyman. Booker crotches Rock on the railing and they head into the crowd. Wicked clothesline from the Bookerman. He sends Rock back to the ringside and preps the announce table, then tosses him into the ringpost (where’s Angle blood is apparently still congealing) while Shane loosens a turnbuckle. Back in, Rock fights back but walks into a spinkick for two. Short-arm clothesline and kneedrop, but Rock fights back…and gets hit with the forearm for two. Booker hits the chinlock, into the surfboard. He’s gotta do something about that habit if he wants to go from a ***1/2 guy to a ****1/2 guy. Rock escapes and hooks the Sharpshooter, but Shane distracts the ref. Rock chases and gets kicked in the head for two. Rock gets a clothesline and catapults Booker into that loose turnbuckle (O, the painful hand of irony!), and a DDT gets two. Shane gives Booker a chair and then lays out Rock with the WCW title while the ref removes said chair. The APA come out and lay out Shane in revenge for earlier in the night. BOOKEND, BOOKEND, BOOKEND…gets two. Rock comes back with the flying lariat and overhead belly to belly for two. Spinebuster sets up the People’s Elbow, but Shane pulls out the ref. Rock gives Shane Rock Bottom and heads back in. Booker gets a spinebuster, no cover. Axe Kick sets up THE MOST ELECTRIFYING MOVE IN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT TODAY, the Spinarooni, but Rock pops up, Rock Bottom, goodbye at 15:18 as Rock wins the WCW title. Frighteningly, the Spinarooni got a Poparooni. Really good match, but not WWF main-event level good, more like WCW main-event level good. That’s not a knock on either guy, because Rock is rusty and Booker just needs more main events to learn the style, but nonetheless they weren’t gonna follow Austin-Angle and it was kinda silly to even try. ***3/4 (Take 2!  Courtesy the third Rock DVD review…) WCW World title: Booker T v. The Rock From Summerslam 2001. Slugfest to start and Rock runs Booker into Shane, then puts him down with a samoan drop for two. Booker comes back with chops, but Rock clotheslines him and cradles for two. Yeah, Rock busted out La Majastral, wanna fight about it? Book kicks him down again for two. Slugfest is won by the Rock and he tosses Booker, as they brawl on the floor. Rock puts him on the table and gives him the most blatant nutshot in PPV history, but Booker recovers and rams him into the stairs, followed by an atomic drop onto the railing. They head into the crowd, where Booker whips him into a barricade and follows with a clothesline, then they head back to ringside. They slug it out, but Rock gets whipped into the post, and Booker drops him on the railing to follow. They just can’t seem to get their chemistry together out there. Back in, Booker slugs him down for two and puts him down with a short clothesline. Kneedrop follows, and Rock fights up only to get put down by a forearm that gets two. And Booker hits the chinlock as this is just going nowhere. Rock comes back with the Scorpion King Deathlock, but Shane McMahon distracts the ref and Rock breaks, only to walk into a superkick that gets two for Booker. Rock takes him down again and catapults him into the corner, followed by a DDT for two. Shane sneaks in with the belt and puts Rock down, but the APA chases him into Bradshaw’s clothesline. Lemme tell ya, Shane selling the Clothesline from Hell is like * by itself. In the ring, Bookend gets two, but Rock slugs back and gets the flying forearm. Overhead belly to belly gets two. Spinebuster and People’s Elbow get two, as Shane pulls the referee out. Rock stops to give him a Rock Bottom on the floor and then lays the smackdown on Booker in the corner, but Booker comes back with his own spinebuster. However, he makes the fatal error and stops for the Spinarooni, which allows Rock to pop up and finish with the Rock Bottom at 15:17, improbably marking the first time the WCW World title would change hands on a WWF PPV. The match was competent enough, but they just had no flash together. *** The Bottom Line: Probably the second-best PPV of the year after Wrestlemania X-7 and definitely the best Summerslam ever  (WHOA THERE, cowboy!), with 7 good matches and only one total stinkeroo in the form of the tag title cage match. Still, the Austin-Angle match was kinda like having a heaping bowl of delicious chili and finding a used needle stuck to the roof of your mouth at the end of it. I was actually thinking they’d go Angle over Austin and Booker over Rock to set up rematches next month, but I guess the money is burning a hole in Vince’s pocket and he wants to shoot his unification wad at Unforgiven and get it over with. (Surprisingly, no.) But hey, it’s his company, and I can totally understand why he’d want to. Peace, we out…

SummerFest Countdown: 2000

The SK Rant for Summerslam 2000 – To start, for those who aren’t aware, yes, I am writing a book about wrestling for Lebhar-Friedman publishing, and it’s being released February 2001. (Indeed.  For those who never heard the original story, I was contacted by the editor of Goldberg’s autobiography because he wanted to know if a few minor points in the book were correct or not, and through our conversations it came out that a friend of his, who was an editor at another publishing house, was doing a book on wrestling and needed some material.  I agreed to contribute a couple of things, and then the deal with the original author fell through for whatever reason, although it was probably because he couldn’t deliver the book on time from I understood, and I ended up writing the entire thing myself.  My editor for that book then quit his job and became a literary agent and he technically still is my agent today assuming I ever feel compelled to write another book outside of Kindle.)  It’s called “Buzz on Wrestling” and it’s basically the same idea as the Idiot’s Guide to Pro Wrestling, but without all the crap and mistakes in it.  (What?  What?  You got something to say?)  Consider it kind of a beginner’s guide for smarts and a summary of the last 15 years of wrestling in 250 pages, as I give extensive (…ish) biographies for 50 of the most influential wrestlers of the modern era, complete with best/most memorable matches and tons of pictures. I’m also including a rundown on the basics of booking, blading, the physics of breaking tables, how to rate matches, how to spit mist, and a bunch of other stuff. If you like the rants, you’ll love this book, trust me. It should be available in your local bookstore for about $20, and it’s also gonna be on Amazon.com for a little less, I think. (Here’s something weird:  There are used booksellers on Amazon who have my older books for CRAZY amounts of money for some reason.  Like, $150 for “Tonight In This Very Ring” or $80 for “Wrestling’s Made Men.”  Buzz has been out of print for a while now but it was ridiculously high from certain used sellers for a bit there too.  What’s up with that?)  I’m sure Wrestleline will probably figure out a way to sell it there too if LF makes it worth their while. (They didn’t.)  And if you REALLY want to be a Keith completeist, I’m also gonna have my name on the Goldberg autobiography due out in October, as I’ve been doing consulting on some of the little details (match dates, continuity, stuff like that), which is how I got my own book deal. By the way, if Bill Apter is reading this, PLEASE contact me because the book publishers need to get a bunch of photos by October and I figure you’re the guy to talk to.  (Had I known Dr. Mike Lano at the time, actually, I probably would have went with him instead.  Oh well.)  – I would be remiss in not mentioning the Worst Heat Ever preceding the show, which was essentially a one-hour selljob for the PPV.  (I’m pretty sure there were far worse Heats than this one.  I think they included it on the DVD, actually.)  – Live from Raleigh, NC – Your hosts are JR & The King – And tonight’s rating is LVN! Whoo-hoo! – Opening match: Right To Censor v. Too Cool & Rikishi. Too Cool cleans house to start and Scotty controls Bull with his speed. Flying bodypress gets two. Goodfather in and he gets tossed, and takes out his anger on the hos. Back in, Sexay takes some abuse. Steviebomb gets two. Stevie goes up and gets superplexed off, and Rikishi gets the hot tag. He destroys the RTC and stacks them up in the corner for CHEEKS OF FIRE. Scotty tries the Worm on Bull, but a Steviekick prevents it and Richards gets the pin. Bad opener, but what else did you expect? ½* (They totally destroyed one of the best midcard characters they ever had with Godfather in this RTC mess.  He was a guaranteed hot house show opener with a great catchphrase and a gimmick that everyone loved.)  – Road Dogg v. X-Pac. Mat sequence to start by X-Pac. X-Pac bails off a kick to the butt. That’s a pretty dramatic sell. X-Pac comes back with a quick broncobuster attempt, which misses. X-Pac goes to the sleeper, boring the crowd. Leg lariat gets two. Broncobuster hits this time, but Dogg no-sells. He comes back with the funky punches and boogie-woogie kneedrop for two. Pumphandle is reversed to the X-Factor, which in turn is blocked. X-Pac goes low and hits the X-Factor on the second try for the pin. Bleh. ¾* Road Dogg punks him out, hopefully killing D-X once and for all.  (Well aside from the Shawn-HHH reunion tour in 2006 and beyond, that is.)  – Intercontinental title: Val Venis & Trish Stratus v. Eddy Guerrero & Chyna. (Notice I was still a badass rebel spelling Eddie with a “y” at this point to show that I wasn’t caving into THE MAN’S demands for “ie”.)  Slugfest to start. Eddy spins out of a powerbomb, but Val gets a kneedrop for two. Chyna comes in with a clothesline and a double-team flapjack for two. She lays in the boots, then clotheslines Val and goes after Trish. Val hits a backdrop from behind, as Chyna plays mamacita-in-peril. Yay, more Chyna. Lowblow from her, but Val escapes a powerbomb. DDT hits, however, and Chyna hot tags Eddy. Rana gets two on Val. Val alley-oops him into the turnbuckle and a Blue Thunder bomb gets two. They hit the double-KO spot, as the chicks brawl. Chyna tries the handspring elbow, but Val stops it, and Eddy hits the floor. I don’t like the looks of this. Trish tries a clothesline on Chyna…which does nothing. Yeah, that was real smart. Chyna casually press-slams and pins Trish to win the title. Whoopee, another Chyna reign as champ. PLEASE let this set up the return of Evil Eddy and CHEATING TO WIN tomorrow on RAW. Match was nothing you wouldn’t see on RAW. *1/2  (I don’t remember ANY of this.  So Chyna won the I-C title again in 2000?  Really?  I’m totally blanking on that, and a quick check of the title history shows that Eddie won it in a triple threat match over Chyna and Kurt Angle two weeks after this.)  – Jerry Lawler v. Tazz. Tazz comes out with a cowboy hat and does a blind man routine. King punks him out and we’re on. Lawler hits a dropkick (!) and a lariat, then chokes him down. A fistdrop hits, and a second misses. Tazz pounds on him. He tosses Lawler and taunts JR. Lawler comes back and Tazz headbutts him low and goes upstairs (?). A somersault senton (!!!) misses, and Jerry PULLS DOWN THE STRAP! Now he means business, baby! Piledriver is no-sold (it’s not Memphis, after all) and the ref gets bumped. Tazzmission gets hooked, and JR leaves his position to smash a candy jar over Tazz’ head, giving Lawler the pin. If I’m Tazz, I kill Lawler on RAW. * Again, nothing special here.  (Was this the feud where Raven eventually debuted to give Tazz the win?  Again, I’m totally blanking on any of this.)  – Hardcore title match: Shane O Mac v. Steve Blackman. Blackman offers up a free shot, which he then blocks. Into the crowd, and back to ringside as Blackman hits the KICK OF FEAR from the guardrail. Into the ring, Shane gets kendo sticked under a garbage can. Blackman chokes him out with a strap for fun. T&A hit the ring and Test drops the big elbow on Blackman, then Shane uses the FLYING ROAD SIGN OF DOOM and they drag Blackman out to the entranceway. A dropped amp misses Blackman. Albert hits Test by mistake, and Shane flees for the scaffolding to escape. Oh dear, this can’t be healthy. Blackman chases him up there with a kendo stick…and when Shane gets to the very top, Blackman knocks him down and through a stage. Ho-lee Shit. Blackman then proves his manhood and testicular fortitude by JUMPING AFTER HIM and dropping a flying elbow from about 20 feet to get the pin and regain the title. Well, if Sting didn’t look like a total pussy for having a stuntman take his bump at the Bash before, he sure does now. Kudos to Shane for being Foley 2000, and hopefully Vince’s money can buy him some good medical care when he runs the WWF from a wheelchair. (Ha ha, he was never going to run the WWF!)  There was a pretty decent hardcore match preceding the bumps, too. *** – Chris Jericho v. Chris Benoit, 2/3 falls: New tights for both tonight, as Jericho goes for the purple motif. Slugfest to start, and everyone rolls right out of the ring, including the ref. Jericho charges and gets posted. Back in, Benoit goes for the crossface, which is countered to the Liontamer, which Benoit counters, so Jericho catapults him into the corner. German suplex out of that gets two. Nice. Jericho hits a chop (only one?) and Benoit reverses a tombstone attempt into a shoulderbreaker. Jericho comes back with a Lionsault, which hits knee. Benoit locks on the crossface…and Jericho taps! Yeah! Benoit then proves he’s your god and mine by going right back to the move and holding on. Awesome psychology. Jericho doesn’t have another fall to waste, so this time he fights for the ropes. He makes it, so Benoit just absolutely KILLS him, (…so, what’s new with you?)  hitting the most intense shots I’ve ever seen. God, Benoit’s so awesome right now. He rams Jericho’s shoulder to the post three times, wearing it down. Jericho comes back, but falls prey to pair of rolling german suplexes. He reverses the third to the Liontamer…and Benoit taps. One fall apiece. Jericho with more Canadian Violence and a flying elbow for two. They trade powerbomb reversals and do a pinning combo (with the crowd getting SERIOUSLY into it) and Benoit finally debuts the Dragon Suplex in the WWF, for two. YEAH! They fight on the top and Jericho hits a vicious superfrankensteiner, and gets a two count. Perfect form there. Jericho hits a pair of lariats and a leg lariat for two. Lionsault hits, but Jericho comes down on his shoulder, and thus can’t make the cover. PSYCHOLOGY! Jericho gets one last-ditch rollup for two, but Benoit does a crazy-ass reversal, hooking the legs and GRABBING THE BOTTOM ROPE for that last bit of old-school badass heel psychology, and gets the pin! Yeah! Markout city and yet another match of the year candidate from the WWF. I can’t take much more of these, I’m running out of stars. ****3/4  (This one I remember.)  – TLC Match: Edge & Christian v. The Hardy Boyz v. The Dudley Boyz. Chair-throwing exhibition to start. The ladders come in early and Buh Buh makes the first run at it. Edge legsweeps both he and Matt off the ladders. Christian climbs but Buh Buh takes him off with the full-nelson bomb from the ladder! OUCH! Jeff climbs and Edge pushes him off, onto another ladder that snaps up and smashes the prone Matt in the face. DOUBLE OUCH! Dudleyz hit the Wazzup Drop from the ladder, and D-Von brings the tables. Christian takes 3D through one. They stack the tables outside 2-on-2, but Edge foils that spot with a chairshot. Matt hits the Twist of Fate on Edge and a legdrop off the ladder, and Jeff follows with the leapfrog legdrop OVER the ladder. Edge gets sandwiched in a ladder and Matt tosses Christian off the top rope, onto that ladder, killing Edge. Oh man, these guys are INSANE. Outside, Jeff tries the swanton bomb spot from WM2000, but Buh Buh is onto him this time and moves. Continuity! Big ladder gets set up, and four guys climb. All four fall off. Buh Buh’s still alive so he tries, but the champs push the ladder over and he takes a dive through that table stack outside. Awesome spot. Matt tries it, but D-Von is okay now so HE pushes the ladder over, and Matt goes through ANOTHER table stack on the OTHER side of the ring. I fear for these guys’ lives, I really do. Edge & Christian climb, but now Lita comes out and pushes THEM off. She takes a spear from Edge moments later and rams her head into the mat. Man, even the people running in are bumping like freaks. D-Von and Jeff, the last survivors, race up the ladder and each one grabs a belt…and the ladder falls over, leaving them swinging in the air! Wild! D-Von falls off and the crowd explodes…but Jeff can’t loose the belts, and Edge & Christian smash a ladder into him to knock him off, then climb up and grab the belts to retain. Canadians SO rule. Gotta go the full monty here again. ***** No 37-second pose from the champs, though.  (This I also remember.  That’s quite the back-to-back tandem there!  There’s your huge thumbs up from those two matches alone.)  – The Kat v. Terri. Snow is with the Kat, Saturn is with Terri. I pray for nudity, and/or a quick finish. I’ll likely get neither. Kat goes for the stinkface early, but Saturn pulls Terri out. Back in, Kat hits something that might loosely be referred to as a spear and a broncobuster. She goes for the stinkface again, but Saturn pushes her over. Kat slams her, but a buttdrop misses. Terri goes for the finish, but Kat shoves her away, hits her with Head, and delivers the stinkface for the win. Did we need to see that instead of another 8 minutes of Benoit-Jericho? –****  – Undertaker v. Kane. Kane has a new sleeveless outfit that makes him look like Mortis. Taker tries to rip the mask off, which pisses Kane off. Kane grabs a chair, but doesn’t get anywhere with it. We stop for my birthday cake so I miss a bit of it. Taker rips off a chunk of Kane’s mask as we return, and Kane bleeds. Back in, Kane comes back and punches, but UT spears him. Oooh, feel the moveset! UT rips the mask off (!) and his music plays, but we don’t see Kane’s face clearly. (We’ve seen it now.  It’s no big deal.)  No match. – WWF title: The Rock v. HHH v. Kurt Angle. Kurt stakes his claim to Stephanie before the match. HHH comes out and kicks some righteous ass. Both men hit the floor, and brawl. Back in, HHH tosses Angle again and sends him to the stairs. Pedigree is attempted on the Spanish table, but it breaks too soon and Angle takes an ugly bump. (Yup, so ugly that Angle was legitimately knocked unconscious and had to be removed from the match by medical personnel for treatment, resulting in HHH and Rock having to improvise a gigantic portion of the match.)  HHH grabs his trusty sledgehammer and HEEEEEEEEERE’S Rocky. Samoan drop for HH and lariat, and they brawl on the floor. Everyone stands around for a bit as EMTs attend to Angle. They stretcher him off, but HHH stops them and drags him back. Rock & HHH brawl a bit more. Back to ringside, as Steph comes out to attend to Angle. In the ring, HHH USES THE KNEE for two. Steph retrieves the belt, but hits HHH my mistake to give Rock a two count. Rock goes after her, but takes a low blow. Rock gets a forearm, HHH hits the neckbreaker. He grabs Mr. Sledge and nails the Rock in the gut. He lays in some kicks to the ribs, and a facebuster gets two. HHH slowly works the ribs over. They must be improvising due to an actual Angle injury. (I just said that!  Can’t you read?)  Rock comes back with a swinging neckbreaker. HHH knees him down and goes upstairs, and they fight there. Rock wins and gets a superplex. Meanwhile, Steph talks Angle into coming back and helping. Rock belly-to-belly gets two. Steph drags Angle out. He trips up Rocky and HHH hits the Pedigree…but Angle pulls HHH out at two. He covers Rock himself for two. Elbow gets two. Belly-to-belly gets two. Rock comes back with a DDT for two. He whips Angle into the recovering HHH and hits Rock Bottom for two. HHH pulls Rock out and posts him, while Steph slips the sledgehammer to Angle. HHH charges…and hits Steph by accident. Uh oh. Angle KO’s HHH for two, then Rock dumps Angle, hits the People’s Elbow on HHH, and retains the title. Interesting booking there. A Rock-HHH match is pretty much an automatic ***, plus a bit for some good stuff with Angle at the end. ***3/4  (I’d go higher, around **** – ****1/4, in fact.)  The Bottom Line: Rock on. The WWF’s awesome PPV streak continues, as they’ve delivered the goods in 7 of the 8 shows this year, and this one is no different, boasting two legit MOTYCs and Shane bumping like he could die tomorrow and not care. Could they do it without Benoit? Who cares? They have done it, and that’s what matters, especially since I was worried about the booking leading into this one. Thumbs way up for another awesome show well worth the $30.  (Indeed.  A forgotten but AWESOME show.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 1999

(Now we get into the period where I don’t remember ANYTHING about these shows, so it’ll be a fun look back for me, hopefully.)  The Netcop Rant for Summerslam 99 Live from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Fun fact: The governor used to be a wrestler. A pretty well-known one, too. I forget his name. Your hosts are JR and the King. Quick review of the matches on Heat: …um, there were none. Well, at least that’s ONE show I don’t have to waste my time watching any more. Opening match, IC & European title: D-Lo Brown v. Jeff Jarrett. Jarrett sends the puppies back to the dressing room, drawing a HUGE “Asshole” chant from the crowd. So Debra joins D-Lo at ringside instead, which is generally the setup for a setup in wrestling. (This would be the last Russo-fied WWF PPV, would it not?)  D-Lo controls to start with his normal offense, getting a few two counts. D-Lo comes off the second rope and runs into a JJ elbow, and they brawl outside the ring. D-Lo gets sent into the post and sells an arm injury. Jarrett does a good job of working it over, including a single-arm DDT done from the top rope. D-Lo comes back with a stungun/hotshot and a running powerbomb for two. Double-KO spot follows, and D-Lo ends up with a legdrop for two. Backdrop suplex and D-Lo goes to the top for the Lowdown, but Jarrett moves and Debra jumps onto the apron for distraction. Mark Henry comes in to watch D-Lo’s back…and turns on him! Shouldn’t have pushed him so hard in those training sessions. (SWERVE!  SWERVEY SWERVE SWERVE!) There’s nothing more dangerous than a fat guy denied his dinner. Ask Mark Madden. Guitar to the head gives Jarrett the pin and both titles. That’s what, 14 titles for Jarrett now? Good opener. *** (Of course, they would later regret putting THAT title on Jarrett, given that his contract was set to end two months later.)  Tag Team Turmoil! I feel like I’m watching one of those Coliseum Videos where they’d preface midget matches with titles like “Midget Madness!” Match #1: Edge & Christian v. The Hardy Boys. Good start. The Hardys control most of the way, hitting the usual highspots (who’d have thought we’d be saying things like “The usual Hardys highspots” on a regular basis?) (Yes indeed, who would have thought that Matt and Jeff Hardy would get over?  Ah, for the days when they were internet darlings managed by Michael Hayes.)  They seem a little off tonight, but the wild ending makes up for it, as Jeff tries his rail-running trick, and Edge counters by running the other rail and spearing him in mid-air! Camera mostly missed it, however. Back in the ring and Edge flapjacks Matt and Christian pins him after a flying elbow. *** Match #2: Edge & Christian v. Mideon & Viscera. Viscera tries to eat Edge a few times, but he moves out of the way (that’s like dodging a rampaging sloth – not exactly a challenge) and spears Mideon for the pin. DUD Match #3: Edge & Christian v. Droz & Prince Albert. Same as the last match, but with a couple of highspots tossed in, and Edge hitting the Downward Spiral instead of the spear for the pin. 1/2* (Remember when Tensai was Droz’s personal piercing consultant?)  Match #4: Edge & Christian v. The Acolytes. Edge gets methodically killed by the Acolytes, who I am rapidly tiring of. (Just wait until 2004!)  Christian manages to get the hot tag, and hits a tornado DDT on Bradshaw for two, but gets hit with the Clothesline From Hell and pinned. ** Final: The Acolytes v. The Hollys. Total slaughter. The Hollys can’t stop arguing, and after one strategy session too many, Bob Holly turns around and gets spinebustered for the pin. I didn’t need to see the Acolytes go over AGAIN, and I certainly don’t want them to win their third tag title tomorrow. * (Spoiler:  They don’t, although the Rock N Sock Connection do win them the week after THAT.  Fear not, though, the APA win one more further down the line.)  Road Dogg comes out to challenge the winner of the Hardcore title…but wait! 5…4…3…2…1….and it’s Y2J time! Jericho runs down the Dogg, the PPV, RAW, the WWF, the fans, and Road Dogg’s spelling ability. Man, that last one was just cold. Big heat for Jericho. Road Dogg has two words for him.  (Fozzy Tour?  This was quite the step down for Jericho from having a verbal duel with the Rock.)  Hardcore title match: Big Bossman v. Al Snow. Nice start as Snow perches on the scaffolding by the entrance and jumps Bossman. Road Dogg volunteers for commentary duty, grabbing a mike so he can be on the scene. Usual WWF brawl follows, as they fight across the street and into a local bar. This concept is really nearing the end of it’s usefulness. (And yet they wouldn’t put the title out of its misery until 2002!)  Gross-out spot of the match sees Snow grabbing a urinal cake out of the men’s bathroom and rubbing it in Bossman’s face. Off into the billiards room, where Bossman decides to smash a drink over the Dogg’s head. Jesse retaliates by whacking Bossman with his own nightstick, and Snow makes the pin on the pool table to regain the title. **1/4 Entertaining enough but didn’t break any new ground. (I mean, it could have been WORSE.  Like, they could have booked it inside a cage surrounded by dogs, inside another cage!)  Backstage, Mick and Jesse discuss politics. Women’s title: Ivory v. Tori. Yeah, like anyone actually cares about this one. Ivory gets the pin, can’t say as I bothered to pay attention. Luna makes the save after Ivory tries to rip Tori’s top off. BOOO! Match looked to be about * from what I saw.  (That is some A1 professional PPV reviewing right there, kids.  Top notch.)  Lion’s Den match: Ken Shamrock v. Steve Blackman. Shamrock has to put Blackman over ONE of these times, doesn’t he? Blackman pulls out a pair of numchaka, thus proving that the real lethal weapon is indeed in his pants. Ahem. (High five!  Anyone?)  Blackman nails Shamrock with some pretty brutal looking shots. Good thing these guys are friends in real life. They do a lot of ramming each other into the cage and hitting each other with the weapons surrounding the cage. Announcers seem confused as to the winning condition: They’re selling it as an escape cage match, but the guys are going for the KO. Anyway, cut to the finish, as Blackman hammers Shamrock into oblivion with the kendo stick, but apparently doesn’t want the win. Shamrock snaps, tees off on Blackman with the stick, and the bell rings for some reason. Not sure how exactly to rate it, but it wasn’t boring. Call it **1/2 (I don’t remember any of this.)  “Love Her or Leave Her”: Test v. Shane McMahon. The Mean Street Posse (with various casts and bandages) make their way to ringside, where a couch and champagne is awaiting them. Test totally destroys Shane to start, then tosses him into the arms of the Posse. Test gets laid out by them as a result, with the crowd chanting “Posse Sucks!”. They start handing Shane a variety of weapons, the funniest of which is a framed portrait of themselves.  (Say what you will about Russo, but sometimes things were allowed to get over by sheer goofy anarchy, much like the dark days of WCW.)  It gets shattered over Test’s head, of course. Back in the ring and Shane actually goes for a corkscrew senton off the top! It misses, and Test powerbombs Shane, but the ref is distracted by Rodney. Ref bump follows, which makes no sense in a no-DQ match. The Posse lays out Test on the Spanish announce table…and Shane hits a flying elbow off the top rope, through the table! WHOA! Shane is the McMAN! Back in the ring, but it only gets two for Shane. Pete accidentally nails Shane with a sign, giving Test a two count. Crowd is going NUTS. Rodney hits Test with the cast, which I thought was the end, but it gets two. Finally, after all that interference, the Stooges make their return, taking out the punks (BIG pop for that), leaving Shane and Test mano-a-mano. And from there, it’s Meltdown and flying elbow for the Test pin, which was TOTALLY the right booking and got a HUGE pop from the crowd, and the group of people watching the show at our gathering tonight, including a few non-fans. When you can make people who haven’t been following pop for the finish, it’s something good. Stephanie and Test have a celebration, as Test makes his first big PPV shot COUNT. ***1/2 (Unfortunately that was the only PPV shot he made count, as he stopped giving a crap immediately after for some reason.  I recently watched the match again for the Street Fight DVD set, and it’s still fun and awesome.  This was also a huge surprise because Shane had not yet established himself as a street fight specialist, which obviously in hindsight was the easiest way to disguise his limitations as a worker, and there was zero expectations of a good match going into this.)  WWF tag team title: Kane & X-Pac v. Undertaker & The Big Slow. Kane has his alternate, reversed costume tonight. Brawl to start, and a funny bit as X-Pac crotch chops at Undertaker and gets elbowed in the mouth. (There’s an extra star right there.)  Kane gets a clothesline off the top for two, and then Kane and Big Slow do their usual classic. X-Pac gets the hot tag, but that goes nowhere as the Show bumps him around like a superball outside the ring, then dumps him back in over the top. That looked impressive. X-Pac of course works in the massive crotch-shot-to-the-post spot that he does in every match. (Much like Vince McMahon, I automatically add another star to any match that features X-Pac getting hit in the crotch, groin, or nutsack.)  Big Slow with a bearhug into a two-handed chokeslam for two. Kane blocks AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHTHEChokeslam and X-Pac lowblows him for good measure, then UT, and makes the hot tag to Kane. Pier-six brawl erupts and UT goes face-first to the post. X-Pac with the broncobuster, but the Show shrugs it off and chokeslams him. It gets two, so Undertaker tags himself in and shows him the proper way to kill X-Pac dead, tombstoning him for the pin and the tag titles. I don’t think anyone gave the champs a shot here, and rightly so. **1/2 UT at least had his working boots on tonight. “Kiss My Ass”: The Rock v. Billy Gunn. Billy brings a fat chick with him, and she gets the honor of having her ass kissed by the Rock, apparently. We get the usual Rock brawl to start, and once it gets back to the ring Gunn controls in the standard RAW match. It seems designed not to expose anyone. Rock hits the floatover DDT for two. Samoan drop gets two. Billy wiggles out of Rock Bottom and hits the Fame-asser in a nice sequence, but instead of going for the cover, he invites the fat lady into the ring to ready her ass for kissing. Billy, of course, ends up going face-first into it (Mr. Ass tosses salad, too? Man, what a pervo…) and it’s Rock Bottom, People’s Elbow, welcome back to the mid-card, Billy, and I hope you have a long stay there. **3/4 (Yes he would.  This feud was notable only for giving the world “IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOUR NAME IS!”, which is one more contribution than Billy Gunn ever made to the wrestling world.)  WWF World title match: Steve Austin v. HHH v. Mankind. Entrances alone eat up 15 minutes. Jesse says he’s proud to have been a wrestler, and he’s proud to be here tonight. Mick and Austin double-team HHH to start, but poor, sweet Mick offers a hand of friendship to Austin and gets nailed. A chair to Austin’s knee takes him out for a while. Chyna interferes and Jesse sends her back to the dressing room. HHH goes to work on Austin’s knee, and Foley helps out. Mick encourages HHH to do a figure-four, then legdrops Austin for two while HHH is applying it. Mankind and HHH fight outside the ring, where Mankind misses a dive off the apron. Austin & HHH fight briefly into the crowd, but Jesse’s refusal to follow brings them back into the ring. You go, Jesse! Austin fights off both guys, and slingshots HHH into Mick. Stunner to Mick, with the pin being broken up by a Helmsley chairshot. Another for Mick, but Jesse won’t count due to the chairshot. Shane comes in to protest the injustice of rules being enforced in a wrestling match, so Austin stunners him, then Jesse tosses him over the top rope, getting the line of the night: “That’s one for your old man, you little bastard!” Priceless. HHH and Austin do a double-KO, and Mick gets the Mandible Sock on both guys. Austin escapes, and HHH goes for the Pedigree but gets clotheslined by Austin. Stunner on HHH, Foley makes the save. Pedigree on Austin, Foley makes the save again, hits his own double-arm DDT on Austin…and GETS THE PIN! YEAH, MICK! Austin jobs clean for once in his life, just to shut up the critics, I guess. (Nope.  This was all set up to give HHH his first World title on PPV, but Jesse didn’t want to raise the heel’s hand in his hometown, so they switched it to Mick getting the title instead before the inevitable Era Of The Game began the next night on RAW instead.  To paraphrase Family Guy, it was like sex with Kobe Bryant.  You can kick and scream all you want, but it’s gonna happen whether you want it or not.)  HHH & Chyna brutalize the knee with a chair, and Mick is awarded the title by Jesse as the show ends. Great match. **** (Really?  REALLY?  Really?)  The Bottom Line: Hey, I’m happy. A great match in the main where I was expecting a mediocre one, a really good match in Test/Shane where I was expecting crap, and a pretty decent match in Rock/Ass where I was expecting nothing. Can’t really complain, as the effort was evident in everyone tonight. Thumbs up.  (Thumbs in the middle.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 1998

(Something a little different for this one, as there is the original rant from 1998 from the live show, but I never did an official redo.  However, a few years ago I did a Tandem Rant with someone else on InsidePulse, so I’ll splice in my half of that rant as needed, and I also did Austin-Taker for the 90s DVD so I’ll add that in there as well for sake of comparison.  Also, wanted to go off on a bit of a rant about the Anthology DVDs before we start, because the planning on these was kind of shitty in a way.  So the first two sets go 88-92 and then 93-97, and that’s great because I needed all of those.  However, volume 3 is 98-2002, and therein lies the problem, because I already bought 99-2002 in their originally released form and I’m not dropping $50 to get the shitty blurred versions.  However, 98 was never released as a standalone DVD, since the first WWE DVD ever was Wrestlemania 15.  So basically the only way I have of getting 98 in non-bootleg form is to buy the entire set and use the last four years as coasters.)  The Netcop BIRTHDAY Rant for Summerslam 1998: Highway to Hell! Sunday Night Heat quickie results: Too Much over Animal and Drunk Hawk, Gangrel over Dustin Runnels, DOA over Vader & Bradshaw (who broke up and fought after the match). Austin wreaks some havoc for fun. Live from New York, New York. Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Opening match: European title, D’Lo Brown v. Val Venis. Val’s take on NY: “I came, I saw, I came again.” Brown is now the only black guy from Helsinki. The concept here is that the chest protector is loaded. Kind of a lot of stalling to start. Solid, if totally unspectacular, opener. Crowd is hot to start but cools off. D’Lo controls, as per rule #459a of the WWF. (Well, I mean, he was a heel, so it’s kind of a given.)  Brown works on the back and even applies a Texas Cloverleaf. He misses a senton off the second rope and Val comes back. Val off the top but D’Lo catches him with the Lowdown (or Skyhigh, I always get those confused) powerbomb for two. (Skyhigh.)  D’Lo with a DDT for another two. D’Lo gets caught off the second rope with a Val powerslam for two and the crowd is back into it. D’Lo gets snapped off the top rope and Val with a butterfly suplex, but D’Lo lifts the knees to block the Moneyshot. The crowd starts chanting “D’Lo!”. D’Lo messes up a powerbomb, badly. Try #2 and he hits a running powerbomb, but Val moves on the Lowdown. Another Val comeback and he rips off the chest protector. Val powerslam and he puts on the chest protector and goes to the top rope, but the referee causes him to slip and crotch himself. Val gets up and tosses the ref out of frustration to draw the DQ. Bad ending to a pretty good match. Ref takes the Moneyshot in retaliation. **3/4 (Take 2!)  European title: D-Lo Brown v. Val Venis This was very early in Val’s run when he was the hot new thing and was expected to carry the promotion in later years. Funny how things very rarely work out like they expect. They fight for the lockup and D-Lo offers the handshake of sportsmanship, then gives a cheapshot on the next one. Val tries a forearm shot to the chest, but D-Lo’s chest protector does its job, so Val slugs away until D-Lo knocks him down with a shoulderblock. D-Lo follows with an avalanche to really drive the point home, but a second one misses and Val takes him down with a legsweep and follows with a dropkick. D-Lo runs away, but Val slingshots him back into the ring. Criss-cross and Val has a rollup blocked, but comes back with a spinebuster for two, back before it became the standard setup move for every main eventer. Val with a clothesline and splash, but it misses and D-Lo slugs back. Backdrop suplex follows and D-Lo whips Val into the corner With Authority, but Val wants a slugfest. Val follows with a t-bone suplex, but D-Lo clotheslines him and gets a legdrop for two. Leg lariat gets two. Val fights up and tries a slam, but D-Lo clotheslines him down again and goes up with an elbow off the middle rope for two. Val tries a suplex, but D-Lo reverses him into a Texas Cloverleaf and forces Val to make the ropes. D-Lo goes up again, but misses a senton and Val comes back with the running knees. Elbowdrop and he goes up, but D-Lo catches him with the Sky High powerbomb. That gets two. DDT gets two off a nice reversal sequence. D-Lo heads up again and gets caught this time, but fights Val off. He comes down and gets caught in a powerslam, however, and Val gets two. Val goes up again and then changes his mind and goes with a butterfly suplex instead, then heads up for the Money Shot…but it hits the knees. D-Lo tries the running powerbomb, but can’t get Val up and drops him on his head by accident. That might hurt someone one of these days! Another try works and he goes up, but the frog splash misses and Val makes the comeback. He elbows D-Lo down and then steals the chest protector, hitting him with a powerslam before donning the protector and going up. The ref tries to stop him, however, and inadvertently crotches him, so Val shoves the ref down for the DQ at 15:20. That’s a long match for such a lame finish. They were really letting it all hang out, though. ***1/2 Mankind surveys the damage to the hearse caused by Steve Austin. The Oddities v. Kaientai. ICP does a quickie concert to introduce the Oddities. Kurrgan is dressed like a rastafarian. Golga takes on all the members of Kaientai with headbutts. He steals Yamaguchi’s shoe as this threatens to further degenerate into a comedy match. (Was there any doubt going in what it would be?)  Kurrgan’s in and he takes out all the members of Kaientai, including a human tug of war. Silva is in and Kaientai argues over who gets the honors. Silva takes out all the members of Kaientai. It’s official, it’s a comedy match. JR admits they didn’t advertise it as a classic. KDX finally manages to get control on Golga with a quadruple splash and the usual KDX routine but it doesn’t last long. Kurrgan gets the hot tag and destroys everyone. Kurrgan and Silva do stereo double chokeslams on KDX and Golga splashes everyone for the pin. Ugh. DUD. Well, I was thinking it would be negative stars, so I guess it’s an improvement. Dok and Shawn hype the hotline. Haircut match: Jeff Jarrett v. X-Pac. Howard Finkel, who was shaved by Jarrett during Heat, comes out in a D-X shirt with X-Pac and does the crotch chops with him. X-Pac with a great counter for the sunset flip: Move out of the way. Out of the ring and Jarrett does the most vicious ballshot on the post I’ve ever seen. EEEEEEEEEEE-YOWCH! Everyone in the room feels sympathy pains. More nice stuff here, including a tornado DDT. Fink cheerleads at ringside. Jarrett controls and gets the figure-four. X-Pac comeback, Bronco Buster. JJ with a cross-body off the top but X-Pac rolls through for a two count. Ranabomb by X-Pac for two. Another Broncobuster try but Jarrett lowblows him to block. Howard protests but Jarrett knocks him off. Facebuster by X-Pac for two. Southern Justice out, but the guitar misses, X-Pac grabs it, levels JJ, and gets the pin. Good match. ***1/4 DX and the Handbangers comes out to hold down JJ while X-Pac shaves him. Howard cuts some off for good measure. (Take 2!) Haircut match: X-Pac v. Jeff Jarrett This probably would have been more effective had Jarrett still had his 80s hair rather than his post-WCW longish cut. Howard Finkel, whitest guy in the room, is an honorary member of D-X tonight after being attacked and shaved by Southern Justice on Heat, which gives us the disturbing image of the Fink doing crotch-chops during X-Pac’s entrance. JJ attacks to start, but X-Pac hits him with the spinkick and dumps him with a clothesline. He follows with a slightly botched springboard tope, and then dodges Jarrett coming back in. JJ hits him with a pair of dropkicks to put him on the floor, but they brawl out there and Jarrett rams him nut-first into the post. Well that’s OK, Chyna has the bigger dick anyway. Back in, Jarrett slugs him in the corner and whips him into the turnbuckles, but a blind charge hits boot. Jarrett recovers with a powerslam for two and a corner clothesline, but X-Pac gets a tornado DDT for two. Jarrett goes with the sleeper and X-Pac reverses to his own, but Jarrett puts him on the top rope to break. X-Pac elbows him down, but misses a bodypress and both guys are out. JJ gets two off that. X-Pac tries to fight back with a spinkick, but whiffs completely and Jarrett gets the figure-four. X-Pac makes the ropes and Jarrett tries it again, but X-Pac kicks out this time and hits a backdrop suplex for the double KO. X-Pac recovers and a reversal sequence sees X-Pac hit a bodypress out of the corner for two. JJ tries a rana, blocked with a powerbomb for two. X-Pac charges and hits the corner, allowing Jarrett to roll him up for two, reversed for two by X-Pac. Broncobuster, but Jarrett gets his foot up to block, which draws the ire of the Fink. Jarrett gets distracted, however, and the X-Factor gets two. Southern Justice heads out and brings the guitar, but X-Pac gets it, El Kabong, and Jarrett goes bald at 11:11. Lemme just stop and ask: Who really bought the Godwinns as badass bodyguards? This was good stuff, with X-Pac bumping all over the place back when he cared enough to die just to spite WCW. You have to respect that a little. ***1/4 Mixed tag team match: Marc Mero & Jacky v. Sable & ???. Edge is the partner. No gender mixing allowed here. Standard match from Edge and Mero. Finally Sable and Jackie get in and a catfight erupts. Sable nails Mero for good measure. Mero almost takes a Sablebomb but Jackie makes the save and goes after Sable. Sable with a TKO on Jackie but Mero makes the save. Edge is a non-factor here. Jackie misses a shot and hits Mero. Edge in with a spectacular tope suicida on Mero. Jackie tries to interfere but gets spanked. Literally. Edge with a cross-body for two. Yes, Virginia, Edge is over. Rude Awakening off the top rope. More miscommunication with the heels. Mero with the Samoan drop and the Merosault, but Edge crotches him and tags in Sable. Sablecurana off the top rope! Edge with the Downward Spiral and then he slams Sable on top of Mero. Sable pins Mero. Edge retreats back into the crowd. **1/4 (Take 2!) Marc Mero & Jacqueline v. Sable & Edge Edge is the ever-popular Mystery Partner, and the other Great White Hope for the promotion along with Val Venis back in 1998. Well, they were half-right, at least. Mero slugs away on Edge in the corner, but he comes back with armdrags and forces Mero to tag Jackie in. So it’s over to Sable, but Jackie runs away and tags Mero again. So we’re back to Mero v. Edge, and Edge gets a flapjack but gets caught from behind by Mero, who adds a kneelift. He sets up for the TKO after taunting Sable, but Edge counters out to the DDT, and it’s hot tag Sable. She tosses Jackie around and it turns into a footrace, but she goes after Mero and kicks him low to set up a Sablebomb. Jackie breaks that up lest she somehow defy the laws of physics by actually pulling it off, but Jackie’s offense ends with a TKO from Sable that gets two. The heels double-team Sable, but miscommunication puts Mero on the floor, and Edge tags in for an EPIC tope con hilo. Jackie dives onto him, but Edge gives her a spanking and then heads back in with a high cross on Mero for two. Neckbreaker out of the corner gets two. Rollup gets two. Mero comes back with the samoan drop out of the corner and goes up, but Edge brings him down and Sable hits a Sable-canrana for two. Edge whips Mero into Jackie for the standard “headbutt to the nuts” spot, and Edge finishes Mero with a downward spiral and drops Sable on him for the pin at 8:25. Man, Edge just looked SO green out there, and the match just kind of meandered from spot to spot. Edge got quickly repackaged into Gangrel’s lackey after this. ** Mankind is concerned because Kane won’t be there tonight and he doesn’t have a partner. He offers to play in traffic for Michael Cole’s amusement. Vince makes him a counter-offer: Defend the titles by himself and become a part of history. He even provides weapons for him. Mankind says he has 13 words for the Outlaws: How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Lion’s Den match: Ken Shamrock v. Owen Hart. The Lion’s Den is a kind of faux UFC octagon. It looks cool. Pretty non-stop action. Owen bleeds hardway from the mouth. Some super-cool spots from Shamrock as he springboards off the cage at various points. This is just spot after spot with zero resting. Owen gets the Sharpshooter in the middle, but Shamrock fights to the cage and claws up the cage to break. Owen spears him into the cage and Shamrock with a tornado DDT. Owen sends him to the cage and applies the Dragon sleeper, but Shamrock gets to the cage and reverses to a Fujiwara armbar and anklelock for the tapout. Dan Severn walks off. Call me crazy, but this was the best match so far. **** (This was really fun, but probably not to that level.)  WWF tag team title match, falls count anywhere: Mankind v. The New Age Outlaws. The NAO bring out a dumpster for old times. Mankind and Billy spar with chairs. Then the Outlaws take turns whacking him with metal trays. Mankind holds his own, and puts Billy through the Obligatory table. The Outlaws comeback by powerbombing him on two chairs. They toss the belt in and spike piledrive Mankind on the belt and that’s that. They dump poor Mick in the trash and celebrate…and Kane suddenly pops up in the dumpster with a sledge hammer. He slams it down into the dumpster and closes it. Disappointing. *1/2 (This actually was the character arc that ended up with Mick getting the WWF title by the end of the year, oddly enough.)  Review of The Rock v. HHH. Connecticut Yankee come out to play HHH down live. Intercontinental title, ladder match: The Rock v. HHH. Slugfest to start. Both go for the finisher early but neither can hit it. HHH goes for the ladder first and it comes into play via Rocky. He makes the first try for the belt but HHH nails him from behind on the slow climb. HHH makes his own go for it but Rock yanks him down and he lands wrong on his ankle, injuring his knee. Rock works on it. Crowd is super hot. Rock drops the ladder right on the knee and then sandwiches the knee in the ladder and jumps on it a lot. Rock puts the ladder on top of the steps and the railing and drops HHH on it, right on his knee. Ouch. Rock goes for the belt but HHH barely gets there in time. Back out on the floor, and HHH gets slingshotten into the ladder. HHH gets the crap beaten out of him as he tries the Pedigree on the ladder on the floor, but Rock backdrops him on it. Henry tosses a backup ladder in because the first one is in bad shape. Rock does another slow climb as HHH fights off Mark Henry just in time to dump Rocky out of the ring. Baseball slide into the ladder right into Rocky’s face. Rocky bleeds. HHH makes his first attempt at the belt but gets dumped by the Rock. Rock sets up the ladder on the top turnbuckle and DDTs Hunter. Rocky climbs for the belt and Hunter follows him up the other side and we get the slugfest at the top. Hunter goes flying into the ladder on the turnbuckle, bounces off, and knocks the Rock off the ladder and onto the top rope. Rock grabs the ladder, but Hunter smacks him with a chair and beats the hell out of him with it. Rocky retaliates with a People’s Elbow on the ladder to a massive reaction. HHH back up and goes for the belt again, but Rocky pulls him off and hits the Rock Bottom to another massive pop. Rock back up the ladder again but HHH pulls him off and nails the Pedigree to yet another massive pop. Mark Henry then tosses a big bag of powder in his face and blinds him. HHH climbs but can’t see the belt. Another slugfest on top and Chyna runs in, ballshot to Rock, and he falls off, allowing Hunter to grab his second I-C title to a raucous ovation from the crowd. Rock is unconscious as D-X celebrates. Bold prediction: This match will *make* these guys’ careers. ****1/2  (Not THAT bold of a prediction, but I was indeed correct.)  (Take 2!) WWF Intercontinental title, Ladder match: The Rock v. HHH Man, I haven’t watched this one in 10 years. Mark Henry and Chyna are at ringside. This is weird for me because I was cheering for HHH at this point, since this was the match that turned me into a fan of the Rock. Now, of course, do I even need to say? HHH gets a facebuster and Rock tries the Rock Bottom, but HHH fights him off and they slug it out in the corner. Rock wins that one, but HHH goes for the Pedigree and Rock backdrops him to the floor. They brawl on the floor and HHH whips him into the railing and then back into the ring, where Rock slugs away on him. HHH USES THE KNEE and makes the first attempt at getting the ladder, but Rock clobbers him from behind to prevent that, and stomps away. Rock gets the ladder, but HHH sends him into the railing. Rock comes back and whips HHH into the ladder in a nice bump and finally the ladder gets into the ring. Rock makes the first slow climb, but HHH dives off the top and knocks it down to stop him, then hits him with the ladder for good measure. Now it’s HHH’s turn to do the slow climb, but Rock knocks him off and injures the knee. Rock goes to work on the leg (psychology in a ladder match? Say what?) and drops the ladder on it, then sandwiches it in the ladder and stomps it. See, at least that can explain the slow climbing, since HHH obviously can’t climb at full speed. Rock, however, has no excuse here unless he’s terrified of heights. Rock wraps the knee around the post and puts the ladder outside, then drops HHH on it with a kneecrusher. And with HHH obviously done, Rock brings the ladder in and does the incredibly slow climb, giving HHH a chance to make the save. HHH dumps Rock and sets the ladder against the railing, but Rock catapults him into it as Hunter is just bumping like a crazy man here. Speaking of which, HHH fights back and tries a Pedigree on the floor, but Rock backdrops him onto the ladder. Back in, Mark Henry tosses Rock another ladder and does the annoying rung-by-rung slow climb that no human being in the world ever does, and Henry brawls with Chyna at ringside until HHH is able to shove the ladder over. Rock hits the floor and HHH baseball slides the ladder into him and Rock starts bleeding just as I was about to complain that someone should be bleeding. They know me so well. HHH does the slow climb, but Rock shoves the ladder out from under him to save and slugs away in the corner, into a DDT. Rock recovers first and climbs…very….slowly, but HHH slowly chases him. They slug it out on top of the ladder and Rock tosses HHH into the other ladder, but HHH rebounds during his sell and falls into the Rock’s ladder, leaving everyone down on the mat. Chyna slips a chair to HHH, and he pounds the Rock down under the ladder with it. They slug it out again and Rock slams him onto the ladder, which gives us The Ladder Elbow. I think that was the moment where my Rock love truly began. Rock Bottom follows and the crowd is actually chanting for Rock now during the height of his heel powers in 1998. Rock climbs and fights off HHH, but he gets yanked down and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE follows. Mark Henry, however, tosses a big handful of powder to blind HHH, although I think his nose sucked up enough of it to save his eyesight. They slug it out on top of the ladder and Rock looks to win, but Chyna gives him an epic nutshot, and HHH is the IC champion for the second time at 26:00. Unfortunately for him, that knee injury turned out to be a shoot and he barely got to defend the title before forfeiting it and gaining about 40 pounds of muscle while he was off. The slow climbing bugged the shit out of me, but this was two guys going out there and grabbing the proverbial ball and running with it, as they beat the hell out of each other to get each other over, and it worked big time, turning them both into the biggest stars in the world as a direct result. Plus I loved the idea of using the ladder to injure the leg instead of the contrived spots that followed once the match became a cruiserweight staple. So yes, it still holds up. ****1/2 WWF World title match: Stone Cold Steve Austin v. The Undertaker. And after the hype it comes down to this. Austin works on the arm early on. They trade offense for a few minutes and then Kane walks out and it looks to get interesting. UT tells Kane to go back to the dressing room and Austin jumps him as Kane walks off. Austin goes after UT’s knee on the outside but gets chokeslammed back into the ring. Austin clotheslines him out of the ring and they brawl into the crowd. Back to ringside and UT rams Austin to the ringpost. Back in the ring and UT tosses him over the top. Austin to the steps and you can sense the Spanish commentators are getting nervous. UT preps the table for surgery and chokes Austin on the table. UT to the top rope and legdrops Austin through the table! Back in the ring and Austin is spitting up blood. Undertaker misses a corner charge and we get a double knockout. Slugfest, Thesz press and elbow to the throat. Austin to the corner and he almost gets a Stunner on the charging UT but he blocks. Chokeslam and UT goes for the tombstone but Austin escapes and tries the Stunner. UT blocks and dumps Austin on the top rope. Russian legsweep from UT. Ropewalk but Austin lowblows him on the way down, Stunner and it’s over. Undertaker grabs the belt and hands it to Austin. An entertaining if not exactly technically sound match. Kane wanders out to stare down Austin from the aisle with Undertaker. ***1/4 (Take 2!)  WWF World title: Steve Austin v. Undertaker From Summerslam ’98, the first truly meaningful PPV headlined by this pairing. Slugfest to start and UT wins that one and follows with a clothesline for two. Austin flips him off in response (blurred out now, of course) and goes to work on the arm. Austin cradles with a handful of tights for two, and then takes him down with a drop toehold (!!) and it’s back to the arm again. Weird spot as they appear to crack heads and Austin goes down like a ton of bricks. They continue with Taker getting a suplex and dropping an elbow, but Austin recovers before walking into a stungun. Austin is just messed right up now and Taker keeps beating on him until he can get it together, and Austin finally pulls him down and wraps Taker’s leg around the post. UT comes back with the flying clothesline and chokes him out on the mat and goes old school, but Austin yanks him down to counter and stomps away. And here comes Kane, who may or may not be on the side of his brother. Taker sends him away regardless and slugs it out with Austin, then chokeslams him into the ring from the apron. Austin fights back with a clothesline to put Taker out of the ring, and they brawl at ringside and into the crowd. Back to ringside, where Austin gets a ride into the post, but recovers and tries a stunner in the ring. Taker slips out of the ring to escape and sends him into the post again. Back in the ring, Austin fires back, but gets tossed with MALICE by UT. And they brawl outside again as Austin is just totally unable to get things going because of what I suspect was a concussion earlier in the match. Taker puts him on the table and does an insane legdrop from the top rope to put Austin through it. Back in, that gets two. Taker charges and runs into the turnbuckle, but Austin just looks scary out of it, his legs literally wobbling. They collide for the double KO, but Austin fights up and slugs away. THESZ PRESS! THESZ PRESS! Taker reverses him into the turnbuckle and Austin tries a stunner, but they badly mess up the spot and Austin sort of falls on top for two. Taker comes back with a chokeslam, but Austin escapes the tombstone and again he’s just off in his own world as Taker has to improvise a spot to cover. Taker with a legsweep and he goes old school again, but Austin hits him in the nuts and KICK WHAM STUNNER finishes at 20:45. Austin owes him a beer after Taker almost literally carried Austin on his back for the entire match. ***1/4 The Bottom Line: All the issues were settled and everyone goes home happy, including me. Two ****+ matches kills any WWF undercard from this year and this show kicked ass. The Rock steals the show this year. Thumbs up!  (It is indeed one of the best Summerslams of all time.)

SummerFest Countdown: 1997

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 1997: Hart and Soul. Live from East Rutherford, New Jersey. State motto: “You have the right to remain silent.” (Now apparently it’s “YOLO”).  Your hosts are Vince, Jerry and good ol’ JR. Opening match: Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Mankind (cage match). Ah, the days before conspiracies, breast implants and videos featuring HHH saying “shit” as many times as humanly possible. These two had an inconclusive match at Canadian Stampede to set this up and would later fight another two thirds of a trilogy, culminating with the WWF debut of Cactus Jack. Hunter had zero heat. Why they would open with a cage match is beyond me, but then we’ll likely see it again this year, too. (What was I referring to here, I wonder?  There weren’t any cage matches at Summerslam 99.)  Hunter runs a lot in the beginning. Mankind is massively over as a babyface due to Dude Love. I don’t like WWF cage matches as a rule because of the stupid looking cage and constrictive rules. Mankind goes for the Mandible claw early but Chyna interferes and gives HHH the advantage. They do an ugly top-of-the-cage suplex spot which looked mighty awkward. HHH takes over with his four move offense. One of them is his formal bow. Another is ramming Mankind’s head into the cage. I’ll leave it as an exercise in mental fecundity to guess the other two. (I, like Sandow, am the intellectual savior of the blog.)  Chyna keeps interfering through the cage to keep Mankind from keeping control. Interesting move as HHH gets hung feetfirst from the top of the cage and Mankind rams himself into him. Luckily both guys are *great* sellers so the numerous cage-involved spots look good.  (Remember when HHH sold…anything, really?)  HHH gets tied up in the ropes and Mankind goes for the door but Chyna slams it in his face and takes out the ref, then tosses a chair in. Pedigree attempt gets reversed and Chyna gets knocked off the cage as a result. DDT on the chair and the crowd is getting pretty hot. Mankind climbs over the cage…but decides to climb back up and dives off with a nasty looking Cactus elbow. It was an ode to Jimmy Snuka, see. Chyna tries to pull HHH out before Mankind can climb out, but no go. It should be noted that she came in *before* the elbow and you can see HHH motioning to go away because it wasn’t time yet. Dude Love’s music starts up and revives the fallen Mankind. Decent opener. **1/2 (I find it interesting that HHH went from “decent” to “***** street fight main event” level in only three years like he did.  That’s pretty impressive, actually.) Kevin Kelly and Sunny’s cleavage hype the hotline. Toad Pedophile interviews the guv’ner of Joisey. Goldust v. Brian Pillman. As part of “Free match stipulation with every nachos purchased” night, if Pillman loses he has to wear a dress on RAW the next night. (Cornette and Russo booking.  Just in case you’re wondering.)  This was of course during the incredibly lame “kinder, gentler” Goldust period. Pillman was almost totally deteriorated as a wrestler at this point, just two months before his death. Kick and punch match. Dustin is actually in much better shape here than he is these days. I can see why Vince is making him lose the weight again. Pillman chases Marlena around the ring (bounce, bounce, bounce…) but gets caught with a shot from Goldust. We’re about five minutes in and I haven’t seen a single wrestling move. Oh, there’s a suplex from Pillman, I take that back, we’ve seen one. Pillman off the top with a clothesline, which is astounding given what we know the state of his ankle to be at that time. Extended chinlock. Pillman is just covered in makeup via Goldust. Dustin works in the flip-flop-n-fly. Goldust with an unbelievably botched sunset flip, which Pillman valiantly “fights off” to the ropes, where Marlena whacks him with a LOADED PURSE OF DEATH! Goldust gets the win. 1/2* It’s sad to watch Pillman struggle those last months, knowing how it turned out. The Godwinns v. The Legion of Doom. You may know these teams better as “Southern Justice” and “LOD2000”. Bet you’d forgotten about this feud, right? Right? Hawk doesn’t seem to be drunk tonight. Big brawl to start. Hawk hasn’t yet turned into the disgusting pile of goo he is today, thank god. (Sadly, he is literally a disgusting pile of goo now.)  I mean, Hawk was never very good, but wow did he ever go downhill fast once the LOD got beat by the Outlaws. You know, it’s not that this feud was horribly unwatchable or anything, because the match actually was floating in that “bad -> decent” limbo, but the principals were just so uninteresting that it seemed worse than it was. Much like the Gang Wars which we’ve all been trying to forget. (Except for Murtz Jaffer, who used to message me all the time going “THEY SHOULD BRING BACK GANG WARS AGAIN!”) Jerry makes fun of Arkansas while a bearhug drags on. Animal with the hot tag to Hawk, who of course takes both Godwinns on. A bunch of clotheslines, since it’s generally hard for Hawk to screw that up, and a spike piledriver on Henry finishes it, which actually shows psychology because of the broken neck. Hey, guess what, it wasn’t that bad! ** They do the big million dollar draw, which no one wins, but Sunny does attempt to show as much of her boobs as she can on PPV, pre-Attitude era. European title match: The British Bulldog v. Ken Shamrock. In addition, if Bulldog loses he has to eat a can of dog food. (God knows he’s done worse while high.)  Shamrock was still learning at this point. Shamrock controls to start, staying basic. Shamrock is essentially doing Goldberg’s spiel here, minus the no-selling. Herb Kunze has a theory that Bischoff created Goldberg as a way to show Vince that he was mis-using Shamrock, a theory which I personally disagree with because Goldberg didn’t actually get over until months after his debut and a repackaging, but that’s getting off the track again. Bulldog with a side headlock for lack of anything better to do. I dunno if that was for Shamrock’s benefit or Bulldog’s, but there really didn’t seem to be much need for resting. Shammy bleeds hardway from the mouth. Shamrock takes a pretty good beating, going shoulderfirst to the post and then taking a ride to the steps. Bulldog tries to suplex Shamrock on the floor but he won’t cooperate and goes dead weight. Odd. Back in the ring and another chinlock. Shamrock must have been blown up or something. Back outside the ring, and Bulldog smears some dog food in Shamrock’s face, and Shamrock snaps for the DQ, taking out the ref and beating the hell out of the Bulldog. He chokes out the Bulldog until the Usual Gang of Idiots runs in to break it up, but Shamrock won’t let go. It should be noted that Bulldog would be dead at this point were this real. Finally he lets go, then takes out Patterson, Brisco and two referees, culminating with the “Get out of my way” soundbite that has since been used ad nauseum. Shamrock is over HUGE at the end of this. Match was okay. **1/4 Shawn Michaels contends that there’s nothing between him and Bret and that he’ll be a fair, impartial referee. (if there’s one thing both guys know, it’s fair and impartial refereeing.)  The Disciples of Apocolypse v. Los Boriquas. Let me speak on this…arriba la raza! Oops, wrong racial stereotype. (Which reminds me of Konnan’s hilarious radio show, where he recently interviewed Dave Meltzer and they got onto the subject of WWE and Vince’s fascination with latino gangs and such.  Basically Konnan had to explain to Vince at one point the difference in culture and dress between Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, and sure enough you ended up with a bunch of Puerto Ricans dressed like Mexicans because Vince couldn’t tell the difference and didn’t care enough to differentiate, even though the ENTIRE POINT was to market to the Latino fanbase.)  Well, let’s see, the Boriquas are all decent->good wrestlers and the DOA are, well, not. Various combinations of DOA beat on various Boriquas until Savio cheats and the Puerto Rican faction takes over. Kick, punch, clothesline, taunt, you know the routine. Then the Nation (of Domination — Faarooq, D-Lo, Kama and Ahmed) makes their way to ringside to watch. Ahmed is one scary looking motherfucker, no wonder Faarooq felt threatened by him. More pointless stuff goes on in the ring as the crowd chants “Ahmed sucks”. No, that’s the guy who replaced him, people. JR uses about 20 metaphors during the match, hoping to hit upon a catchphrase for the review package at the end of the show, I’d assume. “It’s like a minefield made of wedding cakes built inside of a veteran’s memorial at the foot of a volcano…” and I kind of tune out after a while. (A bored and unmotivated JR on commentary can be bowling shoe ugly.) Much like the match, where lots of stuff is going on but nothing is really happening, you know? Finally some coherence as Chainz gets in and cleans house and a pier-six (okay, there’s eight guys, so I guess it’s a pier-eight) erupts and the Nation gets involved too, as Ahmed gives Chainz the Pearl River Plunge on the concrete and a Boriqua pins him. 1/4* A big three-way brawl breaks out after the match. Intercontinental title match: Owen Hart v. Steve Austin. The match that changed everything. Owen goes right after the oft-injured knee of Austin, but Austin retaliates quickly. The little differences in Austin in movement and wrestling between then and now are very noticeable. Owen is massively over as a heel by proxy to Bret Hart. Austin counters the flip and flop out of the wristlock by poking him in the eye. Out of the ring and Owen tries to break Austin’s hand by slamming it on the steps and stomping on it. Ouch. Owen bites. That’s an action statement, not a personal feeling. Owen spends way too much time on Austin’s fingers. Austin comes back with a powerbomb and clothesline over the top, so Owen runs. Austin beats him up and drags him back. Have I ever mentioned that Owen has the best belly-to-belly suplex in the biz? They trade clotheslines and Austin tries the Sharpshooter but it gets blocked. Owen nails a german suplex and “injures” Austin’s neck, which is why many people wondered if the eventual injury was real or a work, since Owen proceeds to go to work on Austin’s neck. A snap DDT reinforces this point. Sleeper by Austin, reversed by Owen, countered with a jawbreaker. Slows down again with a side headlock by Owen, which he thankfully turns into a heat segment by putting his feet on the ropes. Austin and Owen trade punches, Austin goes for a tombstone, and Owen reverses for his own, and then it happens: Austin’s head hits the wrong way and he’s left paralyzed. Owen stalls for time while Hebner checks with Austin, and somehow Austin crawls over and does a weak cradle on Owen to win the Intercontinental title. I have no idea how Austin managed to even get off the mat. Still, weak ending aside, it was an excellent match. **** (Steve Austin is the toughest son of a bitch in wrestling history to pick himself up enough to finish that match.  Damn.)  WWF title match: The Undertaker v. Bret Hart. Shawn Michaels is the guest referee. Here’s the stipulations: If Bret loses, he can’t ever wrestle in the US again. If Shawn favors Undertaker, he can’t ever wrestle in the US again. And if Undertaker loses, he has to spend the next year feuding with his long-lost presumed-dead half-brother Kane. (Only the next YEAR?  Try decade.)  Okay, so I’m lying about that last stip. Brawl outside the ring to start, and a long one at that. Shawn tries to gain control but Undertaker throws him an awesome dirty look that has half the front row going “Oooooh”. Finally in the ring and Undertaker overpowers Bret and bearhugs him. Crowd is suprisingly quiet. Finally Bret starts kicking at UT’s leg to take over. Slow match. Bret and Shawn natter at each other off and on. Crowd whoo’s for a Bret figure-four until Paul Bearer waddles down to ringside. Undertaker reverses and starts working on Bret’s knee, then rolls out of the ring and pounds the fat man. (Wait, that sounds like something you’d look up on Urban Dictionary.) That allows Bret the opportunity to cheapshot Undertaker and further pound on his knee. Ringpost figure-four. Bret and Shawn yell at each other some more. Now Owen and Pillman wander down to ringside for moral support. Bret continues working on the knee. Great psychology, boring match. The match at One Night Only was eons better. Undertaker temporarily subdues Bret and then takes care of the cheerleaders on the outside. Back in the ring, UT with the chokeslam, but Michaels is busy with the Harts. Undertaker is noticeably upset with this and chokes out Michaels, allowing Bret to get a cradle for two. This kicks off the Shawn-UT feud which raged for months afterwards. Bret and UT fight outside the ring some more and Bret and Shawn exchange some more words. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, out of official order (it goes backbreaker, vertical suplex, elbowdrop, russian legsweep and Sharpshooter with some other stuff in between in this case). UT blocks the Sharpshooter with a choke first time around and ends up nailing his flying clothesline. 6″ whip for two. Big boot and legdrop for two. Chokeslam from the apron into the ring for two. Rope walk, but Bret drops him on the top rope then superplexes him. Sharpshooter in the middle. Undertaker powers out and flips Bret right out of the ring. Tombstone, but Bret gets free and does a form of the Sharpshooter around the ringpost. Shawn gets bumped in the escape and Bret brings a chair in and knocks UT into the middle of next week. It only gets two. Bret and Shawn argue this point. Shawn sees the chair and debates further. Bret responds by spitting on Shawn, who takes a big ol’ swing with the chair, but misses and decks the Undertaker, and is forced to count the winning pin by Bret for his fifth WWF title. The crowd is pissed. Undertaker is *really* pissed. Bret’s happy but that’s only temporary. Slow start with a great build by Bret leading to the hot ending. *** The Bottom Line: A pretty painfully mediocre showing that exposed how weak the lineup for the WWF was at that point, and really still is today because they don’t that many more people outside of Rocky and the few WCW signings. It was party time here in the Canada, of course, but the show doesn’t really hold up after a year to let it simmer. A mild recommendation because there’s a couple of good matches to end it, but nothing else is terribly notable.

SummerFest Countdown: 1996

(2012 Scott sez:  I am loathe to include my original 96 stuff in these, but those who strive to rewrite history end up trying to start a network for years and failing.) 
Okay, first of all I watched bits and pieces of the six-hour countdown show, and you didn’t miss much. Mainly interviews and Todd yakking. So let’s skip to the good stuff…
Bikini Beach Blast-off. NOTE TO KILROY: The following paragraphs contains thoughts and ideas of a sexist nature, so you might want to take note when you send it to Bill Clinton. And I’m sure I’ll be terrified when I get the phone call from the FBI. Whoo-hoo! Yeah, Sunny rules! Marlena rules! Sable rules! Let me cover you in oil, babes! Yeah! Okay, now I’ve got that out of my system…
Steve Austin v. Yokozuna.
Well, as usual, Yokozuna is a fat disgusting slob with no talent, and after two trips to the fat farm he still weighs more than 660 pounds. Just fire him, already, Vince. (Such a diplomat, 1996 Scott.)  Yoko dominates for about two minutes, tries the “Fat pig falling from the second rope” move (he doesn’t represent Japan anymore, after all, so we can’t call it the Banzai drop) and the TOP ROPE BREAKS. Literally, the damn thing falls off. Austin covers the beached whale and gets the pin, writing another chapter in the glorious saga that is Austin 3:16. Really, they should revise the New Testament and give him his own chapter. It’s only fair.  (Apparently I was a big fan of Steve Austin at the time.) 
Blah, blah blah, order now, buy this, big surprises, HEY, IT’S SUNNY AGAIN! WHOO-HOO! Sorry. (Apparently I was a big Sunny fan at the time.) 
Show starts proper, with Ross/MacMahon/Hennig trio commentating.
Savio Vega v. Owen Hart.
Man, that wrist injury is slow in healing. Vince notes that too. Owen is a brave soul, wrestling in excruciating agony like that. Ross calls Owen a two-time tag champ. Okay, history question. If YokOwen’s “now we lost it/now we didn’t” screwjob after Summerslam means two title reigns for them, does that mean Diesel and Shawn were also credited with a title reign? (Nope.)  Back to the match, which is pretty good, actually. And here comes Clarence Mason to cheer on Owen. Hey, I smell dissention. Could be an interesting angle with the division of Camp Cornette. Overall, solid match. Owen clocks Savio with the cast, puts him in the Sharpshooter for the win. Yeah! Clean win for Owen! I’ll give it ***, since I’m feeling generous after seeing Sunny near-naked. Justin Hawk Bradshaw comes out to beat up Savio afterwards. Share the wealth, I always say.
Toad Pedophile in the boiler room, where Mankind is licking a pipe. Insert Pat Patterson joke here. (This is kind of embarrassing, actually.) 
Tag title match. (Now there’s a header!) 
Leif AND Sunny in the same match? Pinch me, I’m dreaming. (Apparently I was a fan of Al Snow at the time.)  Skip is there with a neck brace. Ouch. I’m in a diplomatic mood, so I’ll say it was an interesting concept, but the execution of the match left a lot to be desired. It was basically the Gunns against the Godwinns, with the ‘Donnas going quick (for obvious reasons) and the Rockers going soon after doing nothing. Feh. And, boy, wasn’t the crowd excited for this one? Man, there must have been at least, oh, two or three people cheering at one point during this thing! Short story even shorter, Gunns get the pin after the old Midnight Express pin reversal trick, and retain the titles. Thank god they won, and thank god it’s over. *1/2 What a pointless mess this was. Sunny tries to salvage some dignity and crowd heat by unveiling a giant poster of herself, but she’s fully clothed so no one cares.
Various pre-Summerslam festivity crap. Yay.
Bulldog v. Sid.
Again, Clarence Mason is out instead of Jim Cornette, who is back warming up Vader. Sid needs better music. But he is *over* in a big way. Not much to say here. (Apparently I was a fan of brevity at this point.)  Decent power match, Davey Boy hits the powerslam, but Cornette runs out to chastise Mason for stealing his guys, which distracts Smith long enough for Sid to recover. Chokeslam, Powerbomb (awesome powerbomb, btw.), pin. **1/2
Goldust v. Marc Mero.
Well, no black leather for Sable tonight. Damn. (Apparently I was a fan of Sable at this point.)  Nice new duds for Marc, though. Kudos to your tailor, if you’re reading this. The usual chants from the crowd during this one (for Jeremy Soria’s benefit, I’ll leave them out…) (I don’t know what that was about, either.)  Good bumps by Mero at various points, although he basically carried this thing anyway. Jim Ross notifies us that Pillman is interviewing Sid on the Superstar line, and posits that it might be interesting. QUICK, SOMEONE HIDE THE SQUEEGEES! (Anyone need that one explained?) Oh, what, you think I’d make a Pat Patterson joke and let that one go? Get real. Okay, now that I’ve offended everyone out there, let’s get back to the match. We need to concentrate on wrestling, people! So Mankind comes out and calls Sable “Mommy” while Goldust, an admitted homosexual character, makes advances towards her. I’m fighting a losing battle, here, I think… (Goldust wasn’t an admitted homosexual, quite the opposite in fact.)  Finally, more action as Mero kicks some butt. (Yeah, kicks some butt!)  Usual Mero stuff, planchas, Badd Day, then a shooting star press! That woke the crowd up. Didn’t quite hit it square, but still the first seen in the WWF. More offense by Mero until the requisite slipup, when Goldie hits the Curtain Call for the pin. ***, for Mero’s work, and a big raspberry to Dustin for ruining the match by doing almost nothing. (I point the Mr. Tito FINGER OF SHAME at Goldust, given the time period.)  Goldust then goes after Sable, gets a kiss before Mero cleans house. You need to learn how to brawl properly, Marc. Talk to Vader or something…
Ahmed segment.
Toad interviews Farooq. What, the attention span of the WWF audience isn’t enough to remember “Asaad?” Now it’s just one name? Okay, whatever.  (DEAD IN FIVE YEARS!) 
Snake v. King.
Total time wasting match. I personally would’ve preferred to see Ahmed kicking ass from his wheelchair to this, but I suppose you have to make do with what you have. Lawler comes out wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey. Oooooh, that’s just mean, Jerry. Shame on you. (Apparently I cared somewhat about football at this point.) He also brings a fine selection of liquor with him, in case Jake gets thirsty. Well, isn’t that considerate. Jake brings his snake, of course. This is about what you’d expect from two guys whose combined age is more than the total history of the United States…in other words, crap. Jake tries the DDT, but Harvey blocks him and Lawler hits him in the throat with a bottle of Jim Bean for the pin. DUD. After the match, he pours a bottle of Bean down his throat, but Mark Henry makes the save. Whatever, next match please.
Undertaker v. Mankind.
The object here is to fight your way back to the ring and get the urn from Paul Bearer to win. We start in the boiler room, and Mankind opens up a can of ass-whoop on UT. Now this is a fight. No shooting star presses through tables, just two guys beating each other up. Nasty looking shots to and from both guys, and too many to mention. They fight their way to the locker room, where Mankind does Woman one better and dumps an entire jug of hot coffee on Undertaker. Brings new meaning to “good to the last drop”, I guess. Out to the ring, and Mankind gives UT a piledriver on the concrete. UT prevents him from going into the ring, however, then snaps back the ropes and sends Mankind crashing to the floor. He goes into the ring to claim the urn…and Bearer won’t give it to him. Ever had one of those days where you just wish you hadn’t gotten out of your casket? Well, I’m betting UT is having one right about now. In fact, he’s been having one for about the last five months. In fact, has ANYTHING good happened to this guy since Mankind showed up? Well, at any rate, I’m sure you can guess what happens next. Well, except for the Druids, but that’s later. It’s big-bang-boom and Bearer smashes the urn into UT’s head, and gives it to Mankind. Na-na-na-na, na-na-na-na, hey hey hey, good-bye. The Undertaker closes his WWF career with a final job to Mankind. (Whatever happened to that Undertaker guy after he ended his WWF career?)  And remember, if he shows up in white next month calling himself Savior, I predicted it two years ago on RSPW. (As an April Fool’s joke.)  Otto Heuer can back me up on this. Vince will hear from my lawyer, for sure. 🙂 (SMILIE…ARGGGH!) Okay, so now the lights go out and WE HEAR GREGORIAN CHANTING?!? Oh, it’s the Druids. Of course. They carry Undertaker out of the ring, back to his final resting place, and the crowd is just in total shock. R.I.P. (Kane) The Undertaker. Nov. 1990 – Aug. 1996. (Malibu Stacy would return with a new hat in November, of course, although before that he just kind of showed up the next night on RAW like nothing had happened.)  Ahmed to Ahmed, Dustin to Dustin. Or something like that. Well, how do you top that?
WWF title match: Shawn Michaels v. Vader.
Apparently the WWF has been reading RSPW, because they mention how Vader is the favorite, which guarantees him a loss. (There was of course way more to it than that.)  Shawn wrestles a very, very, smart match…for about two minutes. Then it’s Vader time. Shawn takes a powerbomb on the mats outside, then Vader methodically destroys Shawn with ease. They head outside after a brief Shawn rally, but Vader drops him on the railing and gets the countout win. Huh? I thought we did this at Summerslam 93 already. Oh, wait, Cornette is calling Shawn a chicken. Match restarts, as does the ass-kicking. Vader tries a powerbomb, but Shawn reverses it, hits the flying elbow and goes for the big kick, but Cornette throws in the racket, which Shawn catches and uses on Vader for the DQ loss. Huh? I thought we did this at…oh, wait, Cornette is calling Shawn a chicken again. Okay, we’re on again, now Shawn hits the superkick…but Vader kicks out. Well, no actually, he didn’t. But the ref stopped the count at two as though Vader lifted his shoulder and the announcers acted like he lifted his shoulder, so it’s the same thing. Even if it was an obvious three count. Ref bump, but since about 15 referees filled the ring after the DQ thing, there’s plenty to go around. Another one comes in as Vader hits the powerbomb dead center…for two. But Shawn is still out, so he drags the champ to the corner for a Vaderbomb, then changes his mind (what,you wanna argue with this guy?) and tries a moonsault instead. Of course, Shawn moves. And since we’re down to, like, five seconds of TV time left, he quickly hits his own moonsault press for the pin to retain the title. ****
Overall, I’d give the card a solid “Eh.” The Undertaker’s Last Stand was suitably epic given the buildup to it, and the main event was faboo, but the rest was pretty crappy.
The SK Retro Rant for WWF Summerslam 96
– Welcome to another re-rant, as the original Summerslam 96 review, done as I was watching the show in 1996, is so embarrasingly bad that I declined to repost it last year when I was doing the whole series of Summerslam rants for Wrestleline. Finally, a plea from a particularly oddball reader, who actually bought a copy of the book in exchange for a redo of this show, prompted me to pull out the tape and give it that ol’ college try. Fun fact: I hadn’t watched this show since the original airing.
– Live from Cleveland, OH
– Your hosts are Vinnie Mac, Good Ol’ JR and Mr. Perfect.
– Free For All: Steve Austin v. Yokozuna.
It should be noted that I did NOT tape the 6 hour pre-game show, because this show had to share a 6-hour tape with Bash at the Beach 96. (Now I have the Anthology DVD if I ever want to watch it again.  The PPV, not the 6 hour pregame show.  Can you even IMAGINE how boring one of those would be today?  Well, unless they just showed old Summerslam matches, because that would be awesome, but what we’d REALLY get is wacky backstage skits and extended interviews with the Divas.)  And yes, having nothing better to do at the time, I did sit through the entire pre-game show. (No, I didn’t have a girlfriend at that point, why?)  Austin attacks Yoko to start, with no luck. Two clotheslines are no-sold and Austin walks into a samoan drop. Big fat legdrop (and I mean BIG FAT legdrop – Yoko was pushing 700 pounds at this point) sets up the Banzai drop, but the top rope breaks and Austin gets the “upset” win at 1:50. DUD
– Opening match: Owen Hart v. Savio Vega.
Owen of course has that Iron Mike Sharpe slow-healing arm injury going here. The ref thwarts an Owen attack and warns him that using the cast means a DQ. Wristlocks are traded to start, as Savio goes for the cast. He goes to the armbar (cast-bar?), but misses an elbowdrop. Back to the armbar, and that lasts a while. Owen goes to a headlock, but gets armdragged for two. Back to the armbar. Rollup gets two for Savio, but Owen pushes him into the post to take over. He works the shoulder as Vince puts Bret over bigtime in his non-stop attempt to get him to return to the WWF. Irony can be so ironic sometimes. Owen’s armbar lasts a while. Single-arm DDT gets two. Back to the armbar. Owen pounds him down, but misses a dropkick. Savio gets a bodypress for two, but takes the ENZUIGIRI OF DOOM for two. He comes back with a small package for two. Blind charge hits boot and Owen uses the ropes for a two count. Savio rollup gets two. Owen hits a mule kick for two, but he charges into the corner and eats a leg lariat. Savio comes back with an atomic drop and clothesline. Legdrop gets two. Sideslam gets two. Owen gets a neckbreaker and goes up for a missile dropkick for two. Back upstairs, but Savio crotches him and superplexes him, but lands headfirst on Owen’s cast and both guys are out. Owen recovers first, blasts him with the cast, and slaps on the Sharpshooter for the win at 13:23. Savio had no business going 15 minutes, even with Owen. **1/2 Justin Hawk Bradshaw attacks Vega after the match, setting up the strap match at Mind Games where ECW first invaded. So there ya go.
– WWF tag title match: The Smokin’ Gunns v. The New (and Improved) Rockers v. The Bodydonnas v. The Godwinns.
Al Snow’s gloriously over-the-top performances as 70s wannabe icon Leif Cassidy put Mike Awesome’s half-assed job as That 70s Guy to shame. The main problem with the New Rockers (besides Marty Jannetty’s rampant drug use) was that it wasn’t spoofing the Rockers so much as it was spoofing the 70s, and the WWF’s predominantly young male audience at the time had no idea who Leif Garrett or David Cassidy were. (A problem which continues to this day thanks to hip young Vince McMahon still holding onto his creative position.)  Anyway, ever notice how disturbingly excited Vince gets in the presence of hillbillies? Whenever a Godwinn or a hillbilly character in general comes out, it’s always like “Yee-haw!” with him. I really think he has some sort of bizarre fixation with them related to his hatred of Ted Turner. Anyway, this would be the first ever four-way dance in the WWF, and it’s elimination rules. Speaking of drug addicts, Sunny the Crack Whore is managing the Gunns at this point, and Skip (Chris Candido) is wearing a neck brace from an injury suffered a couple of nights previous. He never even tags in as a result. HOG tosses Billy Gunn around to start, and Billy quickly tags out to Zip (Tom Pritchard). Zip and PIG go for a bit as Billy displays the heel charisma that won him a push by yelling “SHUT UP!” at the front row. Who WOULDN’T wanna push this guy? Zip and PIG double-cross the Gunns by tagging both at once and forcing them to fight each other. While I’m on the subject of the Gunns, the fundamental flaw with the team during this point was that they were being played as heels despite having one of the most over people in the promotion as their manager. Adding to that the fact that they were the only team in the WWF worth a damn at the time and the fans basically wanted to cheer them but felt obligated to boo because Billy Gunn was such a dickhead. Anyway, Bart tags Zip back in, but Jannetty trips him up and Bart gets a weak pin at 4:02 to eliminate the Bodydonnas. Not surprisingly, Chris Candido made his exit from the WWF soon after and didn’t return. Leif & HOG go next, and the Rockers double-team him. However, heel miscommunication between the Rockers and Gunns lead to HOG slopdropping Leif for the pin at 7:20. As usual, Snow worked his ass off while Jannetty tagged in, did a few punches, and went back to the apron to plan his next big buy. Bart pounds on HOG, but a blind charge hits boot. NOT IN THE JAW! Good god, given Bart’s glass jaw, you might kill him with that. (I will mock Bart Gunn forever.)  HOG fights back but the Gunns keep their boring heel offense going. Another point about them: They were 100% better when Bart was getting pounded for the entire match. Billy runs into a powerslam, hot tag PIG. He’s a-fussin’ and a-fightin, but Bart nails him off the top for the pin at 12:19. I swear, this match literally had no heat. No reactions, no basic crowd heat, nada. ¼* Sunny goes for cheap heat by unveiling a huge picture of herself from the ceiling after the match. Fun fact: That’s actually to scale if you count her last WCW appearance. (Not to mention her sad attempts at an adult website with Missy Hyatt.) 
– British Bulldog v. Sid.
Speaking of drug addicts… (That one got less funny about a year after this was written.)  Sid shrugs Bulldog off and Bulldog bails. Back in, Sid works a headlock for two. Powerslam gets two. Bulldog gets a delayed suplex and pounds on Sid like they’re married or something. Okay, you knew I was gonna work in a wife-beating joke at some point, so don’t act so shocked. We hit the chinlock. I wonder if Davey was blown up when he was going after Diana, too? You know you’ve fucked up your life beyond all control when Vince won’t even sign you to spite Bret anymore. (You almost feel bad for what a punchline Davey became at the end, but then you read about what he did to fuck up his own life and you’re like “Eh.”  The dude was beating up his wife and dealing drugs, he got what he deserved in the end.) Sid powers out, but Davey puts him on the floor. Bulldog suplexes him back in, onto the ropes, for two. Sid comes back with an avalanche, but a second try misses. Bulldog gets the powerslam, but Jim Cornette and Clarence Mason are having a difference of opinion at ringside, which distracts Bulldog. Sid comes back with the chokeslam and the BEST POWERBOMB EVER for the pin at 6:08. I mean, he just DROPPED him with that one. *
– Marc Mero v. Goldust.
Goldust stalls to start, and Mero armdrags him until he bails. Mero gets a bodypress for two and works an armbar. Goldust uses his dizzying array of punches and backdrops Mero to the floor. Up to the apron, where Goldust bumps him to the railing. Back in, lariat gets two. Mankind then wanders out and propositions Sable in his own unique way (“Mommy?”) and then retreats again in an angle that went absolutely nowhere. Goldust hits the chinlock in the meantime. Mero comes back with a buttbutt and takes over with an atomic drop and lariat. Kneelift sets up the Enemy Pummel, but both guys end up on the floor. Mero heads in and out again with a somersault plancha, and a slingshot legdrop back in…then he debuts the Shooting Star Press in the WWF to a monster pop that FINALLY wakes up the dead crowd. Of course, this being the height of the WWF’s retardation, that’s not the finisher, and Goldust quickly gets the Curtain Call for the pin at 10:59. ½* I guess the thinking here was that they could always rebuild Mero, and that Goldust would get over again after being crushed by Ahmed Johnson with a few key wins. While the former was indeed true, Goldust ended up being a lost cause that sputtered along for another three years.
– Jake Roberts v. Jerry Lawler.
Hey, Wrestlecrap guys, here’s a good candidate for you right here. The story here is that Jake Roberts was supposedly clean and sober and had found Jesus, but Jerry Lawler kept taunting him for his past. Now then, in one of those incredibly bizarre (but completely understandable in hindsight) coincidences, Jake really WAS off the wagon again at this point, and Lawler was absolutely correct – Jake WAS a fraud and a hypocrite who was cheating churches by giving speeches while still doing crack and getting bombed on the side. The buildup for this saw Aldo “That’s Not Just the Coolest, Not Just the Best, That’s Justin Credible, You Killed My Father, Prepare to Die” Montoya get involved and score various upset wins, and Mark Henry, before he had even debuted in the ring, got stuck in there somehow too. It constantly amazes me that NO ONE in the WWF could quite figure out why WCW was kicking their ass so handily. Mark Henry is doing color commentary for this match, and the most insightful comment he makes is “that’s a good move”, but I don’t remember which move it was for. Jerry of course breaks out the Baltimore Ravens jersey to remind Cleveland that they just lost their football team. Just in case there was anyone in the audience who didn’t get the deep layers of the storyline yet, he also pulls out two bottles of Jim Bean and a giant Texas mickey to bribe Roberts with, unsuccessfully. Tons of stalling to start. Into the ring, Roberts goes low and slams Jerry on the floor. They brawl for a bit, and Lawler gives him the PEPSI OF DOOM, which Jake sells. There’s a time to no-sell, and when someone throws a glass of soda in your face, that’s it. Unless it’s some sort of weird Cleveland thing where the vendors serve the Pepsi piping hot instead of cold, or else there’s some really deep psychology involving a brainfreeze going on, but I don’t think that applies unless the weapon in question is a Slurpee. Mmmm…Jim Bean Slurpees. Now there’s an idea waiting for someone to cash in. Of course, the alcohol would prevent the ice from staying frozen, thus defeating the purpose of the Slurpee, but it’s the 21st century…I’m sure some technogeek at MIT has already come up with the solution for an essay question and is just waiting to patent it in his spare time. (You can generally tell how bored I am with the match by the length of my goofy digressions.  Also, you probably feel like there should have been a CM Punk joke in there, but he was barely even a pro wrestler when this was written. THINK ABOUT THAT.  The people who are now on top of the business weren’t even IN the business when I was writing the REDONE version of this stuff.  Holy shit that makes me feel old.)  Jerry goes for a bottle of whiskey, but Jake kicks it away and comes back. Short-arm clothesline hits, but King uses the ref to block the DDT, and then nails Jake with the Jim Bean for the pin at 4:05. I guess the idea was for Jake to give the rub to a youngster like Lawler. -* Jerry pours a bottle of the booze into Jake’s mouth, but Mark Henry saves. (This was in fact a double-cross by Lawler according to Jake, as it was supposed to be iced tea but Lawler used real whiskey as a rib on him.  Of course, Jake was already off the wagon at that point anyway.)  The Lawler-Henry feud ultimately went nowhere, and Jake Roberts was fired and sent to wallow in his own excesses in the gutter very soon after this. I think Barry Blaustein had the definitive quote about Jake for Beyond the Mat, where he showed the heartfelt scene with Jake reuniting with his daughter, and then the next scene started with “When I came back, Jake was smoking crack…” Either that or Bill Watts, who has on a couple of occasions basically let the world know what a pussy he thinks Jake is, and that he’d happily pound the shit out of him and then piss on his grave. Either one, take your pick.  (Eleven years later, and Jake is STILL alive.) 
– Boiler Room Brawl: The Undertaker v. Mankind.
I’m sure you know the deal here – they start in the boiler room and fight there, and the first one to escape and claim the urn from Paul Bearer, back in the ring, wins. This was actually intended to be the start of something pretty weird for Undertaker, but I’ll get to that in a bit. Taker checks out the boiler room, but can’t find Mankind. He gets attacked with a pipe, however, and Mankind lays him out from behind. Taker comes back with a handy trashcan lid, but gets hotshotted onto a sawhorse. This is pre-taped so there’s no commentary, but I forget how one followed from the other. I just remember some sort of technical glitch where the announcers couldn’t see what was happening properly or something like that. “Transmission problems” disguise various edits. (They should do that on RAW and cut it down to 40 minutes now.)  Mick gets some shots in with a garbage can and pounds on Taker. UT hammers on him with a pipe, but he gets a faceful of steam. He comes back again with a vicious pallet to the head, but he takes a pipe to the groin. Mankind runs into him against a door and rams him into another sawhorse. He drops an elbow off a ladder in a pretty sick bump and gives him an exceedingly weak DDT. The crowd heat is obviously piped in. They crawl along the floor as we get another obvious edit and come back with Mankind trying another elbow off another ladder. I believe they blew the spot the first time so they re-shot. He misses the elbow and lands in a pile of pipes. They fight towards the exist, and UT uses the FIRE EXTINGUISHER OF DOOM before they head out. Mankind barricades UT in the boiler room, but the POWER OF THE URN breaks him free. Mankind uses the devastating DOUBLE DECAF MOCHACINO HALF-CAF (WITH A TWIST) OF DEATH to blind Taker, as I’m aghast at the blatant hypocrisy of the WWF to book a coffee spot only 4 months after the last Billionaire Ted skit, where they spent the better part of 6 weeks mocking WCW for doing exactly that sort of thing. They head into the arena, as UT shakes off the scalding temperature of the coffee but uses the caffeine buzz to break a 2×4 over Mankind’s head, and they brawl to the ring. Mankind piledrives him on the concrete, but Taker no-sells and poor Mick has to take the Nestea Plunge. That move makes me cringe every time I see it. UT goes to claim the urn, but of course Paul Bearer turns his back on him, allowing Mankind to slap the Mandible Claw on him, and Bearer to crack the urn over his head for good measure. Mankind claims the urn at 27:20. Good lord that was a long match. It was certainly the template for nearly every “hardcore” match in the WWF that followed, but it was REALLY slow at times, so be warned. ***1/2
– Okay, so Undertaker gets carried off by a group of druids after the loss, and the assumption at the time was that he was going to be repackaged with a totally new look, the look that ended up being his “leather vampire” one as seen at Survivor Series. However, for some reason they balked at the change right away, and he just kinda showed up on RAW the next night with no mention of being carried to Valhalla or wherever the druids took him. Well, that’s the WWF for you at the time.
– WWF World title: Shawn Michaels v. The Man They Call Vader.
Vader pounds him to start and kills him dead with a short-arm clothesline. Shawn ducks a kick and legsweeps him down, then hits a seated dropkick and ground-pounds him. Hey, Shawn Shamrock! Vader goes to toss him, but Shawn shifts his weight and it’s Vader who hits the floor. Shawn baseball slides him and follows with an awesome tope con hilo. Back in, he goes up and hits a double axehandle, then blocks a powerbomb with a rana. He goes onto Vader’s shoulders, and when Vader tries to dump him out, he hangs on and Vader goes out again. Shawn jumps him again, but gets powerbombed on the floor. Oops, so much for stick and move. Vader carries him back in and casually dumps him there. He goes to work in the corner and suplexes him. Vader sends him to the floor in dramatic fashion, and back in for some more vicious bodyshots. Shawn blocks a suplex and fights back, but Vader ignores him. Blind charge misses, but Vader ignores hitting the turnbuckles and simply turns around and clotheslines Shawn again. Shawn escapes another suplex, but Vader dumps him. He hangs on and skins the cat back in, but Vader catches him and drops him rudely facefirst to the mat. Vader goes to a bearhuggish looking thing, but Shawn fights out. Vader ignores a comeback attempt, but a buttsplash hits knee. Shawn clotheslines him down and goes up, but Vader is out of position and Shawn loses his cool. Always nice to see main eventers throwing a tantrum like a 5-year old. (That would be the spot being referenced in the Shawn-Mankind match the next month.)  Boy guys head out, and Vader pounds him into goo and gets the countout at 13:30. BUT WAIT! Jim Cornette won’t take that victory, and the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Vader chases Shawn back in. Belly to belly gets two. Shawn escapes the powerbomb and comes back. Flying elbow hits this time, and Shawn grabs the tennis racket and gets DQ’d at 17:36. Do I even need to tell you what Cornette does next? Indeed, the MATCH MUST CONTINUE. Shawn gets another elbow and Sweet Chin Music…for two. Uh oh. Ref is bumped, but another 14 are at ringside when Vader powerbombs him…for two. He drags Shawn to the corner, but gets cocky and tries the moonsault, misses, and Shawn bodypresses him for the pin at 22:15. Not exactly vintage Vader or anything due to his injuries, but Shawn bumped well enough for 10. ****1/4 In case you don’t know already, Vader was booked to go over here, but Shawn threw a backstage hissy fit and the finish was changed to the goofy mess we got instead.
The Bottom Line: Definitely a show where you wanna fast-forward to the last two matches if you rent it. Unless you’re Vince McMahon, in which case I highly recommend the Godwinn match.
Mild recommendation to avoid.

SummerFest Countdown: 1995

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 95. (I had actually redone this show a few years back, but when I was typing it up I realized that I was basically doing the exact same review over again.  I did notably change one star rating, however.)  Let’s take a trip back to 1995, when the major players of today were minor players, and the WWF hit it’s lowest nadir. Live from Pittsburgh, PA, once described by Bret Hart as the place you’d have to stick the hose if you wanted to give America an enema. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler. Backstage, Dean Douglas is grading the matches. Opening match: Hakushi v. The 1-2-3 Kid. More X-Pac than Lightning Kid at this point, the Kid was on the verge of the heel turn that would reinvent his entire career. Hakushi is Hayabusa’s buddy Jinsei Shinzaki, and has become one of the worst wrestlers on the international circuit through years of dedicated laziness. (It’s good to have goals in life.)  Hakushi was in the midst of a heel push at this point, although the fans were pretty apathetic. (Tensai!) Quick start as the Kid does a flip out of a wristlock using the ropes, impressing the crowd. Nice Van Dam-ish sequence goes nowhere. Another criss-cross goes nowhere. Hakushi gets a cheap shot to take control, but the Kid flips out of a powerbomb, only to get dropped with a backbreaker. Hakushi hits a handspring elbow, ironically leaving Kid in the position he usually puts people in for the Broncobuster. And even more ironically, Hakushi does it! Stalling follows, however. Hakushi kicks away at the leg and hits some stiff kicks to the neck. Pump splash gets two. Too much resting here — Hakushi was made to look VERY good by Bret Hart in their feud. Hakushi superkicks the Kid out of the ring, then debuts the elusive Space Flying Tiger Drop on North American PPV. He tosses the Kid back in and nails a shoulderblock off the top for two. A diving headbutt misses, however. Kid comes back and dumps Hakushi out, then nails a dive from the second turnbuckle to the floor. He comes in with a slingshot legdrop for two, and a splash off the top for two. He goes for a leg lariat, but gets caught in mid-air and dropped on his head for three at 8:49. **1/2 for the highspots.  (This was pretty good, actually, about ***1/2).  Mabel cuts a pretty decent heel promo for the main event, promising a surprise. Hunter Hearst Helmsley v. Bob “Sparkplug” Holly. Oh, man, where do you start with this one? One goes from aristocrat to degenerate, the other goes from race-car driver to Hardcore. Who knew Holly actually had a personality? And may I also point out that HHH has put on about 50 pounds since then. (Only 50?  I guess it was only 1998 at that point.)  HHH does his Steve Regal impression here, refusing to lock up with Holly. HHH was, shall we say, not very good at this point. Mainly punching and kicking going on here. Holly bumps around pretty good, and HHH marks a milestone: His first ever knee-related move on PPV. In this case, a kneedrop. And thus a grand legacy begins. They fight over an abdominal stretch, crowd couldn’t care less about either guy. This, in a nutshell, was what destroyed the WWF in this era: Gimmicks instead of characters. People care about characters, not gimmicks. More on that in the King Lear Rant, coming soon to WrestleLine. (Geez, this guy’s worse than Tout.)  Sloppy sequence allows Holly to come back. He makes the mistake of trying a backdrop, however, and Helmsley turns it into the Pedigree for the pin at 7:11. 1/2* Jacob & Eli Blu v. The Smoking Gunns. The Blu twins were last seen in the WWF as DOA. (And then again in WCW as a bunch of lame teams.)  Billy Gunn you know, and you know Bart Gunn. (Does anyone really know Bart Gunn anymore?  REALLY?)  You probably don’t associate them as a team, however. For reference sake, the Gunns won their first tag titles in January of 1995, and lost them at Wrestlemania XI. This was a nothing tag match to put the Gunns over. Billy still had the long hair and moustache at this point. Billy hits a fame-asser quickly on a Blu twin for a two count. Nice double-team sequence from the Gunns gets two. Billy gets caught with both Blus and dropped on his head to become ass-in-peril, however. Kick, punch, kick, punch. No matter how many times Vince repackages the Harris brothers, they still suck. See also: Knight, Dennis. (Mideon.)  See also: Bradshaw, Justin. (Written six years before he ended up getting the World title for a year.)  Bart gets the hot tag and hits a bunch of left hands (if it was Steve Williams in there, the match would be over) and the Gunns hit the Sidewinder (legdrop-side slam combo) for the easy pin at 5:31. Bleh. 1/2* Skip (w/ Sunny) v. Barry Horowitz. This would be Horowitz’ one and only brush with stardom, as he scored a fluke pin on Skip to set up this feud.  (And then fell in love with Eve, but got chokeslammed by Kane a million times…oh wait, wrong guy.)  Barry goes right after Skip with a jawbreaker and a dragon-screw leg whip to start, then he clotheslines him to the floor. He misses a blind charge, but compensates in time and gets a rollup for two. Skip takes a nice bump as Barry suplexes him from the ring to floor, prompting Sunny to throw in the towel. Ref doesn’t buy it. Sunny trips Horowitz, allowing Skip to come back. Man, Candido has NO ring presence at this point. Again, Vince was pushing a gimmick with Chris “Bodydonna Skip” Candido, while he was pushing a character in Barry Horowitz. Guess who the fans responded to? (Steve Austin.)  Skip controls with some basic stuff. Fans don’t care about Skip. Horowitz comes back with two shouldertackles for two counts, but runs into a clothesline. He comes back with a Thesz press for two, but runs into a powerslam this time. Skip keeps wasting time. Skip hits three sloppy legdrops for two. He needs to get the Kid to show him how to do those properly. Both go for a dropkick and we get a double-KO spot. Crowd keeps chanting for Barry. Skip gets knocked off the top rope, but Horowitz can’t capitalize. Skip hits a diving headbutt…and picks up Barry at two. Big mistake, Skip. Barry comes back and goes to the top, but the crack whore pushes him down, allowing Skip to hit the superplex. Hakushi wanders down, since he has issues with Skip. Skip yells threats at him, so Hakushi springboards in…right over both men. Skip is so confused that he doesn’t even see Horowitz behind him, and Barry small packages him for the upset win at 11:11. This was Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling, and it’s too bad that Barry’s push was aborted even faster than I thought it would be. **1/2 Dean Douglas defines “Vivify” while analyzing the last match. Those who say that Dean Douglas was somehow a bad character is either full of shit or falling for Shane’s ECW propaganda. It drew great and instant heel heat. The problem was with Razor Ramon and clique politics. More on that in…wait for it…The King Lear Rant. (You’d think I would have held out for some money from Wrestleline given how hard I shilling for it.)  WWF Meaningless Women’s title match: Alundra Blayze v. Bertha Faye. As a continuation of what I writing in the 94 rant about the women’s division being buried, Vince decides to switch from pushing actual wrestlers to using his normal strategy in the men’s division: Pushing freakishly huge monsters. See also: Mabel. Bertha Faye no-sells and screams a lot. Picture Roseanne Barr in a technicolor dress. Bertha destroys Blayze, but misses a splash. Alundra gets a victory roll for two, but Faye is JUST TOO FAT to keep down. Blayze gets the HAIR SLAMS OF DOOM, but the ref is talking to Harvey Wippleman. A chase ensues, and we head back in the ring as Blayze gets two off a rollup. Bertha actually takes a rana for two. Blayze hits two dropkicks off the second rope, but misses a third and gets powerbombed for the pin and the title, a finish NO ONE wanted to see. That’s 4:53 of my life I’ll never get back again. Blayze regained the title a couple of weeks later, then showed up on the upstart WCW Monday Nitro the next week and dumped the belt in a garbage can, which is where it belonged. Well, at least it was clean. *1/2 (RIP Bertha Faye.)  Casket match: Kama v. The Undertaker. Kama took the urn-stealing angle a step further, actually melting it down and wearing it as a chain. Kama = Papa Shango = Kama Mustafa = The Godfather, by the way. Nice psychology right away as UT dumps Kama over the top, right on the casket, causing Kama to freak out and get back in the ring. UT hits a splash in the corner and the ropewalk, showing a lot of energy for that time period. UT asks for the casket to be opened, and tosses Kama into it, but can’t get the lid shut. Kama hits a clothesline off the top, which is no-sold by UT. UT tries another splash in the corner, but gets caught and slammed by Kama. UT goes into the casket, but manages to pull Kama in. Dibiase makes the save. Kama and Dibiase double-team UT. Like I care. UT comes back but Dibiase keeps distracting him and Kama rams him into the post backfirst. He suplexes Undertaker on the casket to work on the back. Psy-col-o-gy? He follows with a baseball slide. Man, did I suddenly tune into lucha libre or something? Kama goes for a piledriver on the casket, but UT backdrops him into the ring and comes back. Kama hits a powerslam, but forgets it’s a casket match, which allows UT to sit up. Chinlock ensues. Taker escapes and comes back for real. Flying clothesline, and both guys go tumbling into the casket, and the lid is closed. Kama tries to escape but can’t. Now UT escapes, but can’t shut the lid. UT chokeslams him, back in the ring, and tombstones him. Into the casket at 16:25, match over. Ye gods, whose bright idea was it to give these guys that much time? ** for the psychology. Bret Hart v. Isaac Yankem DDS. Remember what I was saying about gimmicks v. characters? Here you go again. The idea is that Isaac is Jerry Lawler’s personal dentist, brought in as the final revenge against Bret Hart. He is, however, much better known for a gimmick that finally clicked for him in 1997: Kane. (And now you know…the rest of the story.)  And why did that one click? Because it was the character that the fans got into, rather than the gimmick. Yankem controls with some power stuff not unlike what he does today as Kane, with the same mannerisms. It’s pretty weird to see, actually. He misses a blind charge and Bret hits an inverted atomic drop and three clotheslines, the third of which sends Isaac to the floor. Bret follows with a pescado (dive to the floor). Back in and Bret goes for the Sharpshooter early, but Yankem blocks. Rollup gets two for Bret. He comes off the ropes and gets press slammed, however, giving Isaac the advantage. Many shot of Isaac’s bad teeth are shown, thus revealing the last refuge of a bad gimmick: Situational irony. See, he’s a DENTIST, but he’s got BAD TEETH! Understand how that’s supposed to draw heat? Me neither. (At least there’s some minimal effort put into giving him something to distinguish him from Jackson Andrews or Abraham Washington or Fillard Millmore) Bret reverses a hangman’s neckbreaker into a small package for two, but gets clotheslined to the floor. Yankem rams Bret to the post and hits him with the DENTAL BAG OF DEATH. Bret ends up draped on the top rope and Isaac legdrops him off the top, which would have looked great if it was hit properly. Bret dodges some sledges, but gets decked from behind. Yankem rolls out, and Bret follows with a tope suicida. They brawl outside for a bit, then back in for a Hitman bulldog for two. Yes kids, it’s time for…wait for it….THE FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! (Still waiting on that royalty cheque.  So is JTG, apparently.)  Lawler helps his dentist make the ropes on the Sharpshooter, however. Bret backdrops Yankem to the floor, where they brawl. Bret gets whipped to the steps, and Yankem goes to the top. Bret slams him off, then whips him to the corner and posts him, tying his feet together with TV cable. He then goes after Jerry Lawler, allowing Yankem to drill (get it?) him from behind off the top rope, and toss him back in. Bret gets a flying forearm, but Lawler trips him up, and Yankem ties him in the ropes and beats on him, drawing the DQ at 16:10. Yankem definitely showed promise here, but then he was trained by Al Snow so that’s not terribly surprising. He got REALLY bad during the Diesel II period, however. Still, not a bad debut at all. ***, thanks to Bret. Ladder match, Intercontinental title: Shawn Michaels v. Razor Ramon. Shawn is the champion here, not Razor, for those of you who keep asking me about this one. This was scheduled to be Shawn v. Sid for the title up to about a week before the show, but Vince felt the card sucked as it stood, and wanted to add, you know, a good match. The Sid v. Shawn match *did* go off a couple of weeks later, and was the infamous “He pins the big guy with three superkicks” match that marked the debut of Eric “Mr. Tact” Bischoff’s guerrilla warfare tactics on Nitro. Dok Hendrix joins us for commentary, replacing the departing Jerry Lawler. Ramon ducks out of a superkick very early on. Ramon goes for the Edge early on, which Shawn escapes from. Things are even until Shawn gets whipped into the corner and takes a suicide bump over the top. They fight into the aisle where the ladder waits, but don’t go for it. Back to the ring, where Shawn takes an absolutely sick bump and gets suplexed to the floor, full on. No landing on his feet here. Ramon goes for the Edge again, but Shawn wiggles out. Ramon ducks the superkick and they nail each other for an early double-KO. Ramon recovers first and hits a blockbuster suplex off the top, and goes for the ladder. Shawn misses the baseball slide he hit at WMX, thus showing that Ramon has learned from the last match. Ramon goes for the belt, but Shawn dumps him off, then nails him with the ladder. Shawn climbs, but Ramon yanks Shawn’s tights down, and Shawn slips off the ladder and takes ANOTHER sick bump, wrenching his knee and getting it caught in the ladder. Ramon stomps on it, just because. He rams it into the ladder to further the damage, and clips Shawn’s knee with the ladder when he stands up. Then he slams Shawn on the ladder, right on his knee. Just brutal. Razor sets up the ladder, but Shawn can’t even stand up. So Ramon beats on the knee some more. Attaboy. Shawn kicks him into the ladder, but it doesn’t last long, as Ramon drops him knee-first on the ladder. Ramon absolutely dismantles the knee, ramming it into the apron and wrapping it around the post. He even works in an indian deathlock, which is just about the only place where it’s appropriate. Now back to the ladder, as Ramon drops it on Shawn’s knee. Ramon is drawing great heel heat here. He goes for the climb now, but gets knocked off by a flying Shawn. Ramon climbs again, but is followed and suplexed off by Shawn. Crowd is torn as to who to cheer for. Shawn sets up the ladder in the corner and whips Ramon into it, then again in another corner, and a forearm smash for good measure. And the crowd BOOS. Amazing. Shawn moonsaults off the ladder onto Ramon, which was somewhat blown by Ramon. Shawn to the top of the ladder, but misses the splash that he hit at Wrestlemania X. Notice how the one match builds on the other? The ladder is set up in the middle, and both climb it, and both go crashing off it, with Ramon ending up on the floor. Shawn charges him with the ladder and misses, ending up on the floor himself. Then, in an odd moment, Razor grabs the spare ladder from under the ring and brings it in. Shawn, meanwhile, climbs again, but gets Edged off the top of the ladder. Ramon moves first, setting up his own ladder. Shawn sets up his, and we have a foot race. Shawn superkicks Ramon off his ladder, but then falls off and takes a nasty bump. That didn’t look scripted. Ramon tries another Edge, but gets backdropped over the top and Shawn grabs the belt to retain at 24:56, after another aborted attempt. Shawn blew the ending twice, so minus a bit, but the rest was gold. ****1/2 (I boosted this one to the full monty on subsequent viewings, but others disagree, and that’s OK.)  Dean Douglas critiques Ramon’s performance, and Ramon storms his set and attacks him. (“I bought this Tupperware at your store last week and someone used it to smoke a bunch of crack!”) Oh, man, do I *have* to watch the main event? WWF title match: Diesel v. King Mabel. This was set up because GOD HATES ME and wanted to see me suffer.  (No, that’s the three hour RAW era.)  Mabel pushes Diesel around to start, because he’s JUST TOO FAT. Diesel can’t slam him, but a shoulderblock sends him to the floor. Diesel then has the balls to pull out his no-hands pescado. Last time he did that was Souled 98 against the Giant, by the way. They fight outside the ring, with Diesel going to the ringpost and Mabel charging, but eating a foot to the face. Back in the ring, crowd is deader than…well, I’ll resist my baser impulses. (And to think the list of people I could have gone to was significantly shorter at that point.)  Mabel hits a ugly Bossman slam and a buttdrop. Ref gets bumped for no adequately explained reason, and MOM double-team Big D. Lex Luger makes the save, but gets taken out by Diesel (who assumes that Luger is on Bulldog’s side and thus is against him). Luger takes out Mo anyway, so no hard feelings I guess. And that is the last appearance of Mr. Luger in the WWF. Back in the ring, Mabel gets the belly-to-belly for two, but misses a splash off the second rope. Diesel follows with a shoulderblock off the second rope and gets the mercy killing at 9:10. Yay, it’s over.  -** The Bottom Line: Diesel drew no heat for this show, while Ramon and Shawn rocked the house, and Vince STILL didn’t take the hint. That lesson runs true today in WCW, and some of the same people are even involved. The message was written on the wall, and Vince even delivered it himself during the IC title match: “It was originally supposed to be Sid v. Shawn, but interim president Gorilla Monsoon said that the people didn’t want to see that, they wanted to see a ladder match”. Did Vince listen? No. Why? It’s in the rant. Coming soon to WrestleLine. Ain’t I a stinker? (Dude, enough.)  Anyway, this show had it’s ups and downs, with the “ups” very slightly beating out the “downs”, but that’s mainly thanks to the efforts of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart, rather than from the last hurrah of the cartoon character age. If you’ve never seen Ramon v. Shawn II, I’d recommend checking this show out. Otherwise, don’t bother.

SummerFest Countdown: 1994

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 94. Well, what do you do when you’ve got 2:40 left until RAW? Watch more wrestling! In this case, you, WrestleLine reader, get a first-run rant instead of the re-runs from the past week. And again tomorrow with Summerslam 95, and probably Thursday with a re-mixed version of 96. Truly, your cup runneth over. Speaking of the WWF, I’m working on the epic King Lear rant for the WWF as we speak. King Lear rant, you say? Wait and see, faithful reader.  (That one ended up being pretty big for me.  Paying attention to Shakespeare in high school sometimes pays off, you whippersnappers! )  You won’t be disappointed. Am I evil, or what? In the meantime… Live from Chicago, IL. Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Jerry Lawler, who announce that Shawn & Diesel captured the tag team titles the night before.  (Man, speaking of things that ended up changing the business, you wouldn’t think that Shawn & Diesel getting the tag belts would have any longterm effects, but it set off a chain reaction of stuff that led to Nash getting the World title and nearly taking the promotion down with him.)  Opening match: The Headshrinkers v. Bam Bam Bigelow & IRS. This was originally for the tag titles, but the title change from the night before changed that. Could they POSSIBLY have picked a crappier opener than this? (It could have been a SCAFFOLD MATCH!)  Bam Bam and Fatu trade some power stuff to start until Bigelow eats a superkick for two. Bammer comes back with an enzuigiri, as Vince calls it a “gruelling matchup” two minutes in. (Vince says a lot of stuff, like “The WWE Network will launch April 1 2012!”.)  Nice looking double-team superkick gets two for the cannibals. Irwin tags in and gets nowhere, missing a charge and going flying to the outside, where he gets beaten up. Alas, Bigelow pulls down the top rope shortly after, sending Fatu crashing to the floor. Thankfully, he landed on his ass, and thus had lots of padding. The cannibal-in-peril thing lasts about 30 seconds, before Samu gets the hot tag and kills both heels. A diving headbutt gets two, and the Shrinkers hit the finishing sequence on IRS – headbutts, double-front-legsweep, big FAT-ASSED SPLASH OF DOOM. Ref is districted by Ted Dibiase, and all hell breaks loose as all 14 managers get involved and the bell rings at 7:20 for the DQ. A pleasantly peppy little match ruined by a bonehead ending. **1/4 (Who books a DQ in the opener?  Dusty Rhodes?)  Leslie Nielsen does a C-level comedy bit on his “search for the Undertaker”. Do you think Vince Russo wrote this one?  (Jesus, even the celebrities are dead now on these shows.)  We get a locker room interview with Razor Ramon. QUICK, SOMEONE HIDE THE COKE! WWF Meaningless Women’s title match: Alundra Blayze v. Bull Nakano. Alundra is current WCW window dressing Medusa. Man, did she have ugly implants when she had the breast implants done, or what? She went way downhill in the looks department when she had those puppies super-sized. (I’m thinking a lot of hard living on the road had as much to do with that as anything.)  Blayze tries a couple of dropkicks to start, but Bull shoves her aside and proceeds to kicking ass. I don’t watch much women’s wrestling, but (when I do, I watch Dos Eq…oh, wait, sorry) Nakano has always impressed me. Bull is working super-stiff here, getting a legdrop for two. After some more punishment, Blayze comes back with a rana for two, but misses a roundhouse kick and Bull chokes her out. An interesting variation on the Boston crab follows, but we’re in Chicago so Alundra makes the ropes. Now Bull follows with a Standing Sharpshooter that draws Ooooo’s from the crowd, and rightly so. Blayze gets a quick two off a rollup, then Nakano hooks an armbar submission, called a wristlock by Vince. (Perhaps he confused it with a wristwatch.) Well, he’s trying. Blayze comes back with the HAIR PULL SLAMS OF DOOM for two. Bull reverses a piledriver and covers for two, but Blayze bridges out. Backslide gets two for Blayze, and she tries a rana but gets powerbombed for two. Bull goes to the top and misses a legdrop, allowing Blayze to hit the GERMAN SUPLEX OF DEATH for the pin to retain at 8:20. HUGE pop from the crowd, so of course the women’s division was buried soon after. *** (Can’t bury what’s already dead and buried.)  Toad Pedophile interviews the new tag champs. For those keeping score, this is officially the moment when the Clique took over and the WWF began it’s slow death. Remember, the King Lear rant is coming! Intercontinental title match: Diesel v. Razor Ramon. You young’uns would probably know Diesel better as “Big Poochie” or “That dumbass booker Kevin Nash”, while Razor Ramon is better known as “AA Member #191939” or “Scott ‘Alka’ Hall”. Hey, don’t look at me, I’m not the one who got drunk and groped a 50-year old woman. (Well, not as of that writing…I mean the 2000s were tough on everyone and we all do things we’re not proud of.) Anyway, Walter Payton, some football guy, is in Ramon’s corner, and while Chicago seems happy to see him, Payton doesn’t seem terribly thrilled. (I freely admit that I live “in the bubble” when it comes to sports.  I can talk hockey, but I don’t know Tim Tebow from the guy on the shampoo commercials with the crazy hair and couldn’t pick either one out of a police lineup if I was at gunpoint.)  Ramon tosses his toothpick at Diesel…and he sells it. See, now there’s dedication to your craft. (See, Hall draws attention to himself when he walks through an airport, so people BELIEVE that the toothpick hurts.)  Slow start, until the Outsiders lock up and Diesel dismantles him. I can’t believe I used to mark out for this big goof back in 1994. Actually, much of the internet jumped on the Diesel bandwagon in 94, which is why he got the World title a few months after this. (The internet {heart} Kevin Nash!) Shawn interferes freely, and Diesel ends up with a sleeper. Ramon backdrops out, but ends up going over the top to the floor, allowing Shawn to pull off a turnbuckle pad and get in Payton’s face. Only Shawn F’N Michaels could carry two guys in a match he’s not even involved in. Diesel continues the assault on Ramon back in the ring. He runs Ramon into the exposed turnbuckle back-first, then hits a nasty side slam for two. He hits Snake Eyes, and Shawn interferes some more. Ramon has gotten NO offense in here. Big elbow gets two. Now the legacy of Big Lazy rears it’s ugly head, as we get the chinlock and the abdominal stretch, two Nash favorites when he wants a break. Ramon comeback #1 fails, but when Diesel goes for Snake Eyes again, Ramon escapes and cradles Diesel for two. Ramon comeback #2 succeeds, as he gets the better of a test of fisticuffsmanship and then posts Diesel, which leads to the bulldog off the top for two. (I desperately wanted to get fisticuffsmanship over as the catchphrase of the new century, but it was just never gonna happen.)  Dramatic bodyslam gets two. Shawn gets involved and goes flying into the railing, taking the best bump of the match. Diesel ends up on the top, but Ramon can’t suplex him off. Diesel goes for the jackknife, but Ramon backdrops out. Shawn interferes AGAIN, and we get the double-KO spot. Shawn and Payton get into a tug-of-war over the IC belt, which distracts the ref. Shawn tries for the superkick on Ramon, but he misses and nails Diesel, which would actually signal the start of Diesel’s face turn. Ramon crawls over and covers for the pin and the title at 15:05 while Payton subdues Michaels. It was Ramon’s second title, btw. ***1/4 So sue me, I enjoyed it. Shawn and Diesel do separate followup interviews, setting up Wrestlemania XI, albeit indirectly. Lex Luger and Tatanka face off in the locker-room, with Tatanka accusing Luger of selling out. Lex Luger v. Tatanka. The story here is that Luger may or may not have sold out to Ted Dibiase’s Corporation. However, the crowd boos Tatanka heavily and cheers Luger, so obviously THEY knew what the real deal was. Series of lockups to start goes nowhere. They do a sad little wrestling sequence to reinforce that this is babyface v. babyface. Tatanka gets two off a powerslam and does the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype comeback with chops for two. He goes to the top and hits….wait for it….A CHOP. He misses whatever off the top on the second try, and Luger comes back with his SHITTY CLOTHESLINES OF DOOM. Cue Ted Dibiase, who wanders out with a bag of money. Luger yells at him, allowing Tatanka to roll him up for the pin at 6:09. * After the match, Luger is upset with Tatanka, and goes after Dibiase. However, the fans’ suspicions are confirmed as Tatanka jumps Luger from behind, thus officially joining the Corporation. Pretty much everyone on RSPW second-guessed this one easily enough at the time, but it was still pretty shocking to see career babyface Tatanka suddenly turn. Unfortunately, it was completely wasted since he’s the worst heel in the history of wrestling. Oh well, good intentions and all that.  (Of course, Luger betrayed us all and joined the real evil Corporation a year later…)  Jeff Jarrett v. Mabel. Where’s the puppies? MABEL ATE THEM! Okay, so they weren’t around then, but it’s still a good joke. (No.  No it’s not.)  Speaking of good jokes, popular legend has it that other members of the WWF locker room would gather around Mabel in a circle and sing the Barney theme song. Onto the bad jokes: Oscar’s “rapping”, as he gets all up in our area with an intro that sounds like “Throw your hands in the air, awoogaoaodjfjaoidjokjkjkjka, anakjodmvomeioajifdaf, everybody in the house OH YEAH!”. Sadly, I left my Dumbshit-to-English translation guide at my friend’s house, so I have no idea what he was shooting for there. To the match. They strut a lot, and Jarrett gets thrown around the ring a lot. He comes back with some high-flying stuff, but Mabel no-sells. He hits the FAT-ASSED LEG LARIAT OF DOOM for two, as we cut to Abe “Knuckleball” Schwartz, who is on strike in the stands. Don’t ask. (Vince really has his finger on the pulse of pop culture, giving it to those baseball owners via SATIRE in a stinging commentary of something.  Because pointing out that something exists = comedy in WWF world and always has.)  Jarrett goes after Oscar, but misses and hits the post. Back in the ring and Mabel misses a splash, allowing Jarrett to get two. Jarrett goes for a sunset flip, Mabel drops down, Jarrett moves and gets the pin at 5:50. Total crap, but the crowd was into it. * Cage match, WWF title: Bret Hart v. Owen Hart. Owen attacks right off the bat, ramming him into two turnbuckles and doing the 10-punch count. Bret comes back with a lariat, but Owen stomps on his hands. Bret blocks a shot to the cage and DDTs Owen. Another slugfest erupts, won by Bret. He makes the first climb attempt, but gets pulled off by Owen. ENZUIGIRI, BABY! Owen nearly makes it out but Bret catches him going over the top and hits a backdrop suplex to the mat. Bret crawls for the door but Owen catches him and whips him to the other corner. Bret grabs a quick bulldog and tries for the door again. Owen yanks him away and dives, Bret yanks him away and dives, repeat twice. Bret tries to climb out, and gets slammed off by Owen. Now Owen climbs and again nearly makes it, but Bret grabs him by the hair and they fight on the top. Owen kicks him off and dropkicks him off the top rope. SWEET. Owen climbs again and they fight on the top again with Owen getting the better of the situation. Owen goes for a piledriver but Bret reverses. Whip, reverse, and double-KO. Owen lunges for the door again, but Bret stops him and drops a vicious looking elbow on him. Bret to the top, Owen stops him again. Bret kicks him in the face a few times, but Owen holds on and crotches him on the top rope. Owen tries for the door again, but Bret stops him. Headbutt to the groin puts Owen down and Bret goes for the climb out again. He changes his mind and goes for an elbowdrop, but misses. Owen climbs out, with Bret not moving. He pops up at the last second and blocks Owen, however, pulling him in by the hair in a great visual. He slams him in for good measure, then makes his own ascent. Owen brings him back in with a modified samoan drop. Owen tries to climb again, Bret stops him. Owen keeps control, however, and they end up ramming each other into the cage. Bret recovers first and makes it about 3/4 of the way down the cage…when Owen grabs his hair and pulls him back in. Piledriver on Bret. Both guys are exhausted, but Owen tries to climb out again. Bret meets him at the top, and they have a slugfest that leads to both guys collapsing to the mat below. Bret immediately crawls for the door, but Owen grabs his leg. Owen fights him down and then lunges for the door himself, but Bret blocks, drags him back in, and slingshots Owen into the cage. Crowd is WAY into this one. Bret crawls for the wrong corner to build suspense, then finds the right one…and Owen leaps over and stops him. Crowd is having a collective heart attack. Owen is up first and goes behind Bret, but ends up going facefirst to the cage. Bret is selling a knee injury, but still climbs up again. Owen gets up….collapses….and makes it juuuuuuuuuust in time to stop his brother from winning. Back in via the hair, and Owen hits a leg lariat. The crowd is absolutely losing it. Owen climbs to the top again, and makes it halfway out before Bret stops him. They fight on the top rope, with Bret getting a big field goal kick to send Owen flying. He pops up again and hauls Bret back in. Owen hits some european uppercuts, and we get another double-KO. Owen makes it up and to the top rope, but Bret stops him and superplexes him back in. Even Davey Boy, at ringside, is marking out. Both guys are out cold again. Bret crawls to the door . . . slowly . . . but Owen grabs him. Owen slaps on the Sharpshooter, screaming about how the belt is gonna be his the whole time. Bret breaks free and reverses to his own. He releases and climbs again, with Owen once again lunging at the last split second and grabbing the hair. Both men fall to the mat. Owen makes it up and to the top first, and both guys make it halfway down the cage, fighting the whole way. Owen rams Bret into the cage, but slips and gets hooked in the cage, allowing Bret to drop down at 31:51 to retain the title. Meanwhile, Jim Neidhart blindsides the Bulldog in the audience, taking Diana down with him. Owen and Anvil toss Bret back into the cage, chain the door shut, and beat the holy hell out of him as the Hart Brothers storm the cage. Oh man, this is so NWA. I love it. Finally the Bulldog (with his caveman hairdo and all) fights his way in and makes the save. This is easily the best cage match you’ll ever see in the WWF, and it’s a terrific way to end the show. ***** Sadly, this didn’t end the show, because we still have one more piece of business to take care of. Main event: Undertaker v. Underfaker. At Royal Rumble 94, Undertaker got beat by Yokozuna and shoved into his own casket, at which point he rose into the air and “died”, but not before read a dramatic soliloquy. He took a couple of months off, then in the stupidest plot development in WWF history, and that’s saying something, Ted Dibiase introduced his newest charge…the Undertaker. But see, it’s not Mark Callaway, it’s Brian Lee, (who would go on to become Chainz), which EVERYONE knew at the time. And of course, the original Undertaker returned, and they decided to fight. First of all, Lee is about 6 inches shorter than Callaway, so the illusion is blown right there. Anyway, Paul Bearer has a couple of Druids wheel out a casket, then unveils his new urn, with flashlight built in, then the real Undertaker makes his return, debuting the new purple look that he had until Survivor Series 1996. The Purple Era is generally considered the low point of UT’s career, and coincides, not coincidentally, with the lowest point of the WWF’s history. This will all be covered in greater detail in the King Lear rant. Don’t you just hate a tease? Oh yeah, the match. Brian Lee does a pretty decent job of pretending to be the Undertaker, right down to no-selling every single move. UT chases UF outside the ring, then suplexes him back in. Crowd has no idea who to cheer for. The faker gains control and tries the ropewalk, but gets slammed off. And sits up. Taker comes back with his own, and the crowd seems to be catching onto the fact that the purple one is the good guy. More no-selling happens. Crowd is just dead. Pardon the pun. They “brawl” outside, and it’s like listening to a 45 at 33 1/3. For those under 20, that’s, uh, like watching something really slow. Yeah. (And now vinyl is cool again.) Anyway, Faker gets a chokeslam and Taker doesn’t sit up, so he takes that as a good sign and tombstones him. UT sits up, so Faker tries again, but Taker reverses to his own. Then picks him up and gives him two more, just for good luck. And this time, there’s no sitting up. Undertaker gets the pin at 9:20 and puts everyone out of their misery, and the words “fake Undertaker” are never, EVER spoken on WWF TV again. –**** The Bottom Line: Well, the show was going okay until that last match. Bret-Owen is truly something special, however, and the Ramon-Diesel match is worth a look. Still, this show signalled the true beginning of the end for the WWF, as the Clique began their rise to power and never looked back. Mild recommendation.  (The cage match is elsewhere a couple of different places, and I’m fairly certain Ramon-Diesel is available on another DVD compilation set as well, so this would be a big SKIP IT these days.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 1993

(This is a new rant from the Anthology version of the show a couple of years ago, so nothing new to say here.) The SmarK Anthology Rant for WWF Summerslam 1993 – As promised, I’m finally getting around to this one, to go along with the 1993 RAW rants. Once again this is the version from the Summerslam Anthology, which is the PPV version without all the annoying licensed entrance music and references to the WWF. – Live from Auburn Hills, MI. – Your hosts are Vince & Bobby. Razor Ramon v. Ted Dibiase Dibiase attacks to start as I have to adjust my TV set to mute Ramon’s hot pink outfit. Ramon comes back with the fallaway slam and chases him out of the ring. Back in, Dibiase chops away in the corner, but Razor puts him down with a pair of clotheslines and sends him to the floor with a third. Dibiase is bumping pretty freely for a guy with a destroyed back. And Ramon slingshots him back in to continue the abuse, but Dibiase leverages him into the corner and chokes away on the ropes. More choking and a backbreaker gets two. Clothesline gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Ramon fights out, only to walk into a knee. Dibiase puts him down again with a neckbreaker and a suplex, which sets up the Million Dollar Dream, but Ramon comes back and bails. Dibiase pulls off the turnbuckle in the meantime, but of course goes into it, and the Razor’s Edge ends Dibiase’s career at 7:28. Dibiase was obviously slowed down a lot by injuries, but this was watchable and got Ramon over. **1/2 Meanwhile, Undertaker talks with a hick about why he turned on Jake the Snake. Ah, the WWF Hotline. Todd Pettingill interviews the Steiner family at ringside, and the sister accidentally calls them “Rob and Scott”. KAYFABE, lady. WWF World tag titles: The Steiner Brothers v. The Heavenly Bodies Cornette is wearing a neck brace to sell an injury angle from SMW, because he’s OLD SCHOOL. The Bodies toss Scott and attack Rick to start, hitting him with a flapjack, but Scott clears the ring and suplexes the crap out of Pritchard. Back in, Scott gets a nasty press slam on Dr. Tom and adds a backdrop on Del Ray. Over to Rick, who casually flattens Tom with a clothesline, and the Bodies regroup on the floor. Back in, Scott hits them both with atomic drops, but turns his back on Pritchard and gets bulldogged as a result. The Dr. adds an enzuigiri to put Scott on the floor, and Del Ray gets a somersault plancha off the apron, then back in for a hurricane DDT. Pritchard goes to the chinlock and they slug it out, but Del Ray comes in with a superkick for two. Back to Tom for some choking and a racket to the throat from Cornette. Del Ray tries another DDT, but Scott reverses to a northern lights suplex and then hits a butterfly bomb on Pritchard. Hot tag Rick, who gets the top rope bulldog on Pritchard for two. He powerslams Del Ray, but Cornette tosses in the racket and Del Ray gets two as a result. The Bodies set up for the moonsault, but Del Ray hits Pritchard by mistake and Scott finishes with the Frankensteiner at 9:26. Short but non-stop action. ***1/2 Intercontinental title: Shawn Michaels v. Mr. Perfect The build for this one was basically “Buy this show because they’re going to deliver a **** match and we promise”, which had people quite excited to see it. Unfortunately, the lesson here is that there’s no magic formula for predicting a great match and this proves it. They trade hammerlocks to start and Shawn grabs a headlock, and they mess up an armdrag spot off a criss-cross. Perfect works the arm and they do a nice headlock reversal, which leads Shawn to back off. Shawn slugs him in the corner and Perfect fires back with chops, then catches Shawn with a clothesline out of the corner for two. He goes to the armbar and Shawn fights out in the corner, but goes up and lands in an armdrag, which gets two for Perfect. Perfect holds the armbar and Bobby and Vince are going way over the top already selling it as a match of the year. There’s selling the product and then there’s insulting your audience. Shawn tries a dropkick and Perfect catapults him over the top to counter, but he goes to chase and Shawn superkicks him and then follows with an axehandle off the apron. Back in, Shawn works on the back with a series of elbows and whips Perfect into the corner. Another trip to the corner and he follows with a backbreaker. Perfect comes back with a dropkick and backdrop, and an atomic drop gets two. Perfect lays him out with the forearm for two. You can see they’re trying too hard here and the results are sloppy spots and too many dead spots. They fight for a backdrop and we get a Perfectplex, but Diesel pulls him out to break it up. Shawn and Perfect brawl on the floor and the ref gets bumped in a weak spot, allowing Diesel to send Perfect into the post for the countout at 11:19. Yeah, not good — no chemistry together, terrible finish, just a disappointing mess. How could they possibly promote this is as a classic before the fact and then book it to have a COUNTOUT finish? **1/2 1-2-3 Kid v. IRS Kid gets a quick two count off a high kick, but IRS faceplants him and stomps away. Kid fires back with a dropkick for two, but IRS elbows him down and tosses him. He slingshots Kid back in, but Kid lands on his feet and slides into a rollup for two. Nice spot. IRS quickly cuts him off again and drops an elbow for two, then goes to the abdominal stretch. And it’s chinlock time. Kid makes the comeback with the kicks in the corner and follows with a moonsault press for two. Majastral cradle gets two. High kick into an enzuigiri gets two. And then IRS gets the Write-Off clothesline out of nowhere to finish at 5:40. This was really weird, basically booked as a squash with Kid as the plucky jobber who loses in the end. Good stuff from Kid, usual sleepwalking from IRS. **1/2 King of the Ring match: Bret Hart v. Jerry Lawler Tragically, Lawler has suffered a crippling knee injury due to a horrific car wreck in the jungles of Detroit’s road system, so he’s unable to compete. Lawler’s old-style dedication to the lie is awesome, as he completely sells the ridiculous story, complete with cartoonish ice-pack on his knee. So instead Bret will face the “court jester”, Doink. Bret Hart v. Doink the Clown Doink throws water at Bruce Hart, causing Bret to attack and slug away on the floor. He sends Doink into the post and we head back in, as Bret fires away in the corner, sending Doink to the floor again. Doink comes in via the top rope, but Bret crotches him and drags him back in by the wig. They brawl to the floor again and Doink sends Bret into the stairs, then back in for an elbow from the top. Bret fights back, but Doink puts him down with a kneecrusher and wraps the knee around the post and gets two. Back to the knee with an STF, and then it’s the stump puller, but Doink releases and stomps away. He goes up to finish with the Whoopie Cushion, but lands on Bret’s knees in a painful looking spot. Bret comes back with the legsweep and middle rope elbow and finishes with the Sharpshooter, but Jerry Lawler runs in for the DQ at 8:53. So with Lawler miraculously able to walk after all, he beats on Bret with the crutch. Vince calls it a “ripoff” and a “fraud”, which you’d think he’d be against saying about his own product. Luckily, Jack Tunney earns his pay by coming out and forcing Lawler back into the ring. Bret Hart v. Jerry Lawler Bret beats the hell out of him in the corner and backdrops him, and Lawler runs away, so Bret hits him with the crutch, but Lawler gets it and fires back. So they’re even, I guess. After some more abuse with the crutch, they head back in, and Lawler somehow manages to sneak the crutch in and nail Bret behind the ref’s back. Bruce Hart losing his shit at ringside is great stuff. Bret’s finally had enough and makes the comeback, firing away in the corner, and he pulls the straps down in a nice touch. Backbreaker gets two. Piledriver (another nice touch) and he gives Lawler the Batista thumbs down and finishes with the Sharpshooter at 6:30 to become undisputed King. BUT WAIT! He refuses to break the hold because he’s just so pissed off, and the ref reverses the decision to make Jerry Lawler the one true King of the WWF. So there you go, Bret gets revenge, Lawler gets the crown, everyone is happy. Well except for the fans, but it’s in the “We want to see Bret Hart beat the shit out of Lawler again” way, so it’s fine. This was truly a Russo-esque epic, but with an actual story being told and a really good Bret-Doink match as the prelude. I’d still go **** for the whole thing and I’m tempted to add another 1/4* for Lawler getting wheeled off on the stretcher and holding up a hand in victory on the way back. Sadly the Survivor Series payoff to the whole crazy thing failed to happen. Damn rape accusations. Marty Jannetty v. Ludvig Börga Börga attacks fröm behind and pöunds away in the cörner, then puts Marty döwn with a clöthesline. Nice bit as he launches Marty intö the air and then hits him with a kidney shöt ön the way döwn, and föllöws with a beating in the cörner. Blind charge misses and Marty tries a cömeback, but Börga clötheslines him döwn again. Marty tries a sunset flip and gets slugged döwn, then Börga göes tö the bearhug. Marty finally makes a cömeback with twö superkicks, but Börga catches a bödypress attempt and pöwerslams him. Törture rack finishes at 5:17. 1/2* Not a particularly impressive squash. RIP match: Undertaker v. Giant Gonzalez So the mysterious Rest in Peace match is…a no-DQ, no-countout match. Whoopee. This logically should have been Undertaker v. Mr. Hughes because they spent weeks building that feud on RAW and it went absolutely nowhere. Undertaker goes right for the choking in the corner and hits a series of clotheslines to give us our dose of Gonzalez’s goofy selling, but the Giant tosses him. They slug it out on the floor and Gonzalez hammers him with a chair. When a 7 foot tall guy can’t even make a chairshot look scary, he’s a shitty wrestler. Back in, Undertaker crawls for the urn, but Giant pounds him with forearms until Taker slugs back. Gonzalez has exactly ONE face while he’s selling, and it’s the one where he puffs out his cheeks and gets a look on his face like he’s mildly retarded. But with things at their darkest and the match at its shittiest, Paul Bearer returns with another black wreath, or perhaps it’s a big zero to signify how many stars this match is worth. So Paul takes out Harvey Wippleman and retrieves the urn, and that hopefully means a finish is imminent. The Giant stops wrestling, thus immediately boosting the quality of the match, and goes after Bearer, but that just makes Undertaker sit up. He comes back and clotheslines Gonzalez because that’s the only move he knows how to sell, and so we get 10 million of them until he finally goes down. And what does Undertaker finish with? A flying CLOTHESLINE of course, at 8:01! But in the grand scheme of things, it’s over, and that’s what matters. You’d think this would be rock bottom, but amazingly Undertaker would manage to have EVEN WORSE matches with Yokozuna and Underfaker in 1994, so I can’t give it full negative stars in good conscience. -*** Vince notes this brings new meaning to the term “rest in peace”. Uh, what new meaning? The Smoking Gunns & Tatanka v. Bam Bam Bigelow & The Headshrinkers You know, the psychotic behavior of Hell’s Kitchen loser Van makes more sense now that I found out he’s Luna Vachon’s son. Bigelow pounds on Tatanka to start and puts him down with a shoulderblock, but Tatanka fights back with a backdrop. They each try a bodypress and collide as a result, but Billy and Fatu tag in. They exchange shots until Fatu drops him with a superkick, but Billy recovers and gets an inverted bulldog off the top. Fatu powers him down again and the Headshrinkers double-team him in the heel corner. Over to Bart, but he walks into a Samu elbow and he’s cowboy-in-peril. Back to the heel corner for some headbutt-related abuse, and it’s the great spot where Bart rams Fatu’s head into the mat and it gets no-sold, allowing Fatu to clothesline him down. I’m such a mark for that spot and I don’t know why exactly. Bobby gets a cute joke about needing a “swat team” to control the samoans (WINK WINK) as Samu pounds Bart down in the corner. Bigelow in with a double-team elbow, but he misses a blind charge and takes a great bump into the post. Hot tag Tatanka and he chops Bigelow into a slam, and follows with a DDT. Flying bodypress gets two. Bam Bam beats him down, but it’s the PISSED OFF RACIAL STEREOTYPE comeback…until Bigelow cuts him off with an enzuigiri. AWESOME. That is just all kinds of badass. Samu with a diving headbutt for two, but the Gunns have had ENOUGH and storm in. The heels get rid of them and continue beating on Tatanka, including a TRIPLE HEADBUTT OF DEATH. I was wondering why I loved this match so much earlier, and now I remember. All three go up for diving headbutts and miss, and Tatanka rolls up Samu for the pin at 11:14. All that craziness and THAT’s the finish? Bam Bam was in the zone here, baby. ***3/4 Meanwhile, let’s waste some time by talking with the guy who drove Lex Luger’s bus around. WWF World title: Yokozuna v. Lex Luger Luger gets a decent reaction, but Vince had to be disappointed in the general apathy of the crowd here. Yoko tries the sneak attack, but Luger fires away and tries a rollup. Yoko casually blocks that, but misses the Hulkbuster and Luger works on the leg. Elbowdrop gets two. Yoko tries his own elbow and misses, and Lex pounds him in the corner. Yoko chokes him down and Fuji tosses slat, but Lex manages to evade that and continues to fire away on Yoko. He can’t get the slam, however, and Yoko puts him down with a superkick and tosses him. They brawl on the floor, but Yoko misses a chairshot and they head back in. Luger goes up with a double axehandle and then goes up with the STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DOOM, but it only gets two. Apparently the elbowpad saved Yokozuna. Clothesline gets two. Fuji tosses the bucket in and Yoko uses that for two as the near-falls get more melodramatic. Belly to belly suplex and Yoko chokes away on the ropes, then adds a backdrop suplex for two. Pretty close to a backdrop driver there, actually. Yoko goes to the nerve pinch and then drops the Hulkbuster, but it only gets two. He sets up for the buttdrop, but Luger moves and makes the MADE IN THE USA comeback. Yoko tries the corner splash and misses that as well, and Luger finally slams him. The STAINLESS STEEL FOREARM OF DOOM knocks Yoko right out of the ring, and Luger wins…by countout…at 17:55. Like, why wouldn’t Luger even TRY to get him back in? Pretty good effort from Yokozuna, actually, as he was clearly carrying things here. *** Watching this match and comparing to the previous six-man, it struck me that the six-man was FUN. I was watching it and getting sucked into the storyline and enjoying the flow of the match and enjoying guys obviously enjoying themselves. This, on the other hand, was not fun, because Lex Luger has no sense of humor that’s ever evident and even worse the commentary from Vince felt like “You have to cheer for Lex Luger or else you’re a dirty commie child molester who rapes puppies!” And really who wants to cheer for someone with THAT kind of emotional blackmail hanging over you? At any rate, wacky Vince outguessed himself here, as a title change would have solidified Luger’s turn and made him into the star he could have been, but delaying it until Wrestlemania just confirmed the label of “choker” that Luger’s character has always had and sabotaged his own cause. The Pulse: This is very much of a niche show, with a couple of really good matches you can enjoy if you get this as part of a bigger set (like this one), but nothing you’d want to get the standalone show for. Recommendation to avoid.

SummerFest Countdown: 1992

The Netcop Retro Rant for Summerslam 92 (I thought I had redone this one more recently than this rant appears to represent.  Could also be senility setting in.)  Live from Jolly Ol’ England (Not originally.  It was supposed to be in Washington DC, headlined by the first ever ladder match between Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to get the belt onto Shawn, up until surprisingly close to the show.)  Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan This was, it should be noted, the first PPV event shown in Edmonton, so this was a big one for me, personally speaking. (Back when PPV was “only” $25 a pop and less of a big hit on the cable bill.  Also back when you actually had to call into the cable company and talk to someone to physically order the show, too.)  Opening match: The Legion of Doom v. Money Inc. Paul Ellering is at ringside for the LOD…with Rocco. Can’t forget Rocco. If you don’t know what Rocco is, you don’t want to, believe me. Dibiase is wearing his KICKASS alternate white outfit. (He should have worn that one way more often.  He’d be World champion two or three times over if he had.)  LOD dominates Dibiase and…oh, hell, I can’t resist: See, LOD was getting stale, so Vince decided to bring back Paul Ellering at WM8. And everyone was like “Hey, there’s no way he can possibly screw up something THAT easy, right?” Well, a couple of weeks later, the LOD began doing vignettes from the mean streets of Chicago, talking about “losing their inspiration” and reminiscing about their childhood. But luckily, when they were in a junkyard, they found their prized…ventriloquist’s dummy? Yes, it was Rocco, and Paul Ellering began bringing it to ringside and doing a really bad ventriloquism act during matches. This was A-Level, brilliant stuff, no? Anyway, this match sucks. Even Dibiase can’t work miracles. Besides, he wasn’t born again until about 1996. (High five!  Anyone?)  Hawk plays Ricky Morton (if Ricky Morton didn’t learn how to sell properly). I think Ted Dibiase should have been brought in as the mouthpiece for the Revolution instead of Shane “Hey, remember when I quit in 1993 and no one could tell?” Douglas. Animal gets the hot tag and they go for the Doomsday Device, but IRS dropkicks Animal to break it up. Dibiase takes a powerslam for the pin at 11:58 to render the previous sequence pointless, much like the match. LOD bailed for Japan very soon after this. 1/2*  (I actually upgraded this to *** on the Road Warriors DVD.  It’s a really good opener, just before the LOD imploded and Hawk went off to join the Hell’s Angels for a while.)  Ric Flair plays mindgames with Mean Gene, ducking the “Which corner will Mr. Perfect” be in question. His final answer: “Why, Mr. Perfect is in the dressing room of the winner!” Virgil v. Nailz. Okay, so Nailz was brought in as Big Bossman’s nemesis, a convict who Bossman treated too roughly during his prison guard days and has now returned for revenge. The obvious ethical ramifications of America’s prison system allowing a man as obviously psychotic as Nailz free (after he cut a promo, FROM PRISON, about how he wanted to basically kill the Bossman) were never covered.  (If Sideshow Bob has taught us anything, it’s that anyone can get out and run for mayor.)  But then we didn’t have Russo and Ferreira to look out for us back then. So Nailz, uh, destroys Virgil and…well…there’s really no finish for this thought. Nailz wins with the choke sleeper at 3:16 (hmmm…), thus giving the only instance of a wrestler who had a resthold for a finisher. DUD Did the “902714” on his coveralls (representing his prisoner number) have any “smart” double meaning, or was it just a random number, I wonder? (Tune into Nitro to find out!  I dunno if I was doing that punchline then, but I should have here.)  Shawn Michaels v. Rick Martel. Special stipulation: No hitting in the face. No, really, Sensational Sherri was in love with both guys at the time, so she had it written into the contract. Shawn gets a surprisingly big pop upon his entrance. Wow. Sherri is dressed like Chyna does today, except in white. (As a pornographic She-Hulk parody?) Martel plays headgames with Shawn to start, moving out of the way of Shawn’s offense. We go into a unique wristlock sequence, as they pull each other’s hair multiple times and tease a shot to the face several times in retribution. Shawn takes his first bump and lands face-first on the floor. Martel takes the opportunity to seduce Sherri, then beats on Shawn some more. What a man’s man. Another funny sequence as they do a series of rollup-reversals, with each man getting the count broken up twice due to the ref seeing them pull the tights. Sweet chin music gets two. This match is far better with the “no punching” stip. Shawn gets a Ric Flair pin attempt for two. Martel rolls him up (and pulls the tights) for two. Finally Michaels and Martel flip out and knuckle up. This causes Sherri to “faint”, and take a nice bump to the floor. The men take turns trying to revive her, and get into a fight over *that*. They go back to the dressing room for a double-DQ, ignoring Sherri, who of course was faking. Michaels dumped Sherri and won the IC title a couple of weeks later. *** Shawn heads back to the ring and carries Sherri, but Martel knocks them down and HE carries her back. Sherri is taking some great bumps here. Shawn regains Sherri again, prompting Martel to grab a bucket of water from the dressing room and dump it on Sherri to revive her. And ruin her dress. Match ran 7:16, plus another 4 minutes of extracurricular activities.  (Sadly this ended up going nowhere, as Sherri left for WCW soon after getting dumped by Shawn.)  WWF World tag team title: The Natural Disasters v. The Beverly Brothers. Poffo messes up his poem, so it’s edited on the Coliseum tape. (I haven’t watched the Anthology version yet, but I assume the error is left intact there.)  That reminds me – is there a hyphen in “anal retentive”? (I put that one in there specifically to annoy my roommate, in case you’re wondering.)  Being a Destruction Crew mark from the start, I was strongly pulling for the challengers here. The champs use their enormous fat advantage to toss the Beverlys around. Blake almost manages to slam Typhoon, but of course he’s JUST TOO FAT. Quake misses an avalanche and Typhoon gets turned into Shockmaster-in-peril. Hold on, this is just in: Shawn Michaels has left Wembley Stadium. Okay, we’re back. Beverlys do some nice stuff, but mostly cheap heel tactics. And not very exciting ones, either. After two false tags to Quake, the Beverlys get Lanny Poffo’s SCROLL OF DOOM and nail Typhoon. Quake makes the save before the count and Quake gets the hot tag. This time the avalanche hits, and he follows with the butt splash for the pin at 10:17 to keep the titles. 1/2* for the Beverlys’ stuff. Crush v. Repo Man. It’s the battle of Demolition! And of course, Crush is current nWo B-team goof Bryan Adams and possible KISS demon. (RIP.  Although he never ended up as the KISS Demon, since Dale Torberg got that prestigious gig instead.)  Repo Man is jobber Barry Darsow, aka Smash. This was the initial singles push for Crush, and he’s pretty over. Total squash for Crush to begin with, but a POKE IN THE EYES OF DOOM turns the tide…for about 5 seconds. Crush quickly hits a belly-to-belly, but misses a kneedrop. Match appears to be clipped on the Coliseum video version here. A very well done one, but a clip nonetheless. Repo controls for a bit, but gets caught with a powerslam coming off the top and is done in by the HEAD SQUEEZE OF DEATH at 4:01 for the submission. If in doubt, go to the PWI Almanac, so I do so and find out that the match actually ran 5:41. So it was 90 seconds cut out. (Dammit, now I HAVE to watch the Anthology version to get the full epic!)  Review of the awesome Warrior-Savage buildup, as Ric Flair plays both sides and makes everyone think that either Savage or Warrior has been bought off by Mr. Perfect. This leads to Warrior and Savage doing the “partners who distrust each other thing” and causes them a loss to the Nasty Boys as a result. And with that, we go to… WWF World title match: Randy Savage v. The Ultimate Warrior. Neither man has Mr. Perfect in their corner…to begin with. Just to give you an idea, the intrigue for the “Who Sold Out?” storyline was up there in heat level with the Greater Power. (And the payoff was just as good!)  My poor TV screen can’t take too many of these matches, because of the incredibly garish ring robes involved. At least Ric Flair had the decency to pick a color scheme and stick to it. We do a distrustful handshake to start. Crowd is incredibly hot, alternating chants for both guys. Savage acts pretty heelish to start, drawing even more heat for Warrior. Savage controls with his usual quickly in, but gets caught coming off the top and is atomic dropped by Warrior twice and clotheslined for two. Savage comes back with a kneedrop for two, to heel heat. Warrior comes back with stomps and a clothesline for two, but Savage botches a leverage move, then hits it for real and slingshots Warrior into the corner to come back. He clotheslines Warrior to the floor and the crowd does not approve. Back in for a double-axehandle, but Warrior no-sells. Another one gets two, Warrior won’t stay down. A third, but Warrior catches him coming down and hits a backbreaker for two. Warrior goes on offense, but he seems blown up already. For those who have asked me in the past, “blown up” refers to a wrestler who uses up all his energy in the first few minutes and then ends up sucking wind for the remainder. Bearhug-slam thing gets two, then a side slam gets two. Savage hits a small package out of nowhere for two. Warrior puts his head down on a whip, however, and Savage hits a spinning neckbreaker for two. Warrior fights out of a suplex and sells a neck injury, quite well actually. He fights for a suplex and gets two. He rolls out to the floor and Savage follows him down with a double-axehandle from the top. Savage tosses Warrior into the ringpost, then tosses him in for a two count. And now Mr. Perfect (in a tux) and Ric Flair make their way down. Savage gets a sunset flip for two and Warrior hits a clothesline for two. The BIG SPLASH OF HORROR hits the knees and Savage gets two. Double-KO spot as the announcers speculate on who sold out. Savage gets two, then Perfect trips him coming off the ropes, so Warrior sold out, right? Savage offers words to Flair and Perfect, giving Warrior time to recover and nail Savage. Ref gets bumped, Warrior gets the press slam for two. Ref recovers, then gets bumped AGAIN, and Savage hits a nasty piledriver. Perfect revives Warrior as Savage revives the official…then Flair and Perfect turn on Warrior! So now the announcers speculate that SAVAGE sold out. I’m so confused. (Shades of grey!  Fifty of them!) Savage goes for the flying elbow, but Warrior kicks out at two. Or, in Vince-speak, 1-2-3 he got him, no he didn’t, c’mon ref! Warrior hulks up and goes through his finishing sequence on Savage, but Flair nails him with a chair coming off the ropes when he goes for the big splash. Savage goes for the kill…then realizes he couldn’t have possibly done that much damage on his own. He goes for the elbow anyhow, then changes his mind and goes after Flair. Sorry, pal, Flair is smarter than that, and nails Savage with his handy chair on the way down. Savage is counted out at 25:20. Like vultures, Flair and Perfect swoop in and destroy Savage. Warrior chases them off with a chair, and Warrior and Savage do the male bonding thing. ***1/2 Not as freakin’ great as their WM7 classic, but still a really good match. Last I heard, Warrior was booked to win the title and turn heel here (thus justifying the mid-card position of the match, so as not to send the fans home pissed off) but Warrior got all weird (what a surprise) and the booking was changed at the last minute. (Yup.  That story still holds, I believe.)  Kamala v. The Undertaker. UT rides a hearse to ringside, which takes forever. If there was a storyline here, I don’t remember it or care about it. UT goes chop, chop, ropewalk, ropewalk, but Kamala pulls him down. UT doesn’t sell. Kamala clotheslines him to the floor. UT doesn’t sell. Back in the ring and UT chokeslams him, which admittedly looked cool. Flying clothesline and tombstone, but Kim Chee (Steve Lombardi in a mask) runs in for the DQ at 3:46. Kamala destroys UT with three splashes off the top, but UT sits up, causing Kamala to shit himself and run away. Guess how much I loved this match. -** Sean Mooney interviews the British Bulldog about the family pressure for the main event. Man, would THAT ever become amplified as of recent months. (I’m guessing this was written in early 1998.)  Bret Hart retorts with a WHINY-ASS promo about what an ingrate Bulldog is. Man, listening to his “me me me” interviews years later lends a totally new perspective to them. Roddy Piper makes a surprise appearance, playing the bagpipes. Main event, Intercontinental title: Bret Hart v. The British Bulldog. DBS brings Lennox Lewis with him to suck up to the crowd, just in case any of them didn’t know who the babyface was. (Lennox Lewis was a pretty famous Canadian/British boxing champion, for those who don’t speak early 90s.)  Shoving match to start. Bret takes a bump to the floor off a shoulderblock. Back in and they trade side headlock takedowns, and Bret flips out of a slam to roll him up for two. Small package gets two, and Bret goes back to the side headlock. Into a wristlock, and Bulldog flips out and goes into the armbar. Bret comes off the ropes, but gets caught with a slingshot into the corner, and Bulldog goes back to move #929 (ARM-bar). Crucifix gets two, and Bulldog takes him down with a hammerlock. Shots of Diana Hart-Smith are cut in. She was cute in 92, but got really ugly from about 96 on. I’m just saying. Bret escapes and knees DBS in the gut coming off the ropes to take control. He goes into Heel Bastard Mode, dropping a leg and taunting the fans. DBS fights out of a chinlock, but eats an elbow coming off the ropes. Inverse atomic drop is called a “reverse piledriver” by Vince. DBS goes for another crucifix but gets dropped on his back for two. They do a criss-cross sequence and Bulldog hits a monkey-flip to take control, then a pair of cross-corner whips on Bret. He runs into Bret’s foot on the second, however. Bulldog (a nasty one, too) from Bret. How ironic. See, he’s the Bulldog, and he got…oh, never mind. (If you have to explain the joke, it’s not worth telling.  WWE would do well to learn that lesson.)  Bret goes to the top, but gets slammed off. DBS tries it, but Bret moves. Bulldog tries a quick rollup, but Bret ducks down and Bulldog goes flying to the floor. Bret hits an ugly looking pescado. Ouch, he better buy Bulldog a round of drinks after that one. He rams him into the post for good measure. Back in the ring for more punishment, with a series of forearms and a dropkick. I’ve never liked Bret’s dropkick. Bulldog takes an awkward-looking bump on his knee off a backdrop, and Bret goes back to the chinlock. Bret gets the snap suplex for two. Bulldog blocks a forearm with a backslide for two. Bret decks him and hits the elbow off the second rope for two. I like how Bret is actually varying the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM here. Bret hair-tosses DBS, pissing off the crowd. Bret gets a sleeper, and Vince declares the match over. Sure. Smith fights out and presses Bret, but drops him crotch-first on the top rope. He clotheslines him three times for a two count. Military press gets two. The delayed suplex gets a big pop, and a two count. Cross-corner whip gets two. The running powerslam gets two. Davey Boy is perplexed. Bret is dead. Smith shoves him out of the ring, then suplexes him in, but Bret reverses to a german suplex for two. Bret tries a suplex, but Bulldog blocks and superplexes him for two. Whip, reverse, and double-KO spot. Bret maneuvers into position and applies the Sharpshooter, however, drawing screams of horror from the crowd. Bulldog makes the ropes. Bulldog whips and puts his head down, Bret sunset flips him, and Bulldog hooks Bret’s legs for leverage and gets the pin and the Intercontinental title at 25:10. Crowd goes NUTS. Davey’s best match, post-Stampede era. (Which is ironic because Bret went on record several times noting that Davey was blown up minutes into the match and he literally had to carry the entire match himself as a result.)  ***** Smith and Hart reunite the family after the match, despite Bret teasing walking out a couple of times. The Bottom Line: Hey, ya GOTTA see Bret v. Bulldog at least in your life if you’re a real wrestling fan. And Warrior v. Savage is worth a look, too. The rest is crap, but 2 out of whatever isn’t a bad ratio for the WWF. Total wrestling time: A little over 90 minutes. The aftermath was pretty interesting, too, as Warrior was turfed out of the WWF shortly after this and Bret Hart was put on top ahead of the other main eventers. WCW TAKE NOTE. Recommended show.  (Yup, there’s some pretty fun stuff on here, with the largest LEGITIMATE crowd that WWF ever did.) 

SummerFest Countdown: 1991

  The SmarK Retro Re-Rant for WWF Summerslam 1991 (Oh god, a new format rant.)  – Live from Madison Square Garden – Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan & Roddy Piper. If ever there was an announce team that’s a trainwreck waiting to happen, it’s this one. Ricky Steamboat, Kerry Von Erich & British Bulldog v. Paul Roma, Hercules & Warlord This is Steamboat’s last WWF PPV appearance, before jumping to WCW and eventually retiring there. (Although he of course briefly un-retired a few years ago.)  This was also during the really fucking stupid period where they had him breathing fire and just referred to him as “The Dragon” so that people would think he’s a real dragon or something. I’m sure the next step would have been Vince selling home fire-breathing kits to the children in the audience, but sadly he left before we got a chance to find out just how big of a lawsuit that would have been. Von Erich was also on the tail end of his WWF career at this point. Steamboat starts with Roma and gets pounded down and dropkicked, but Roma celebrates like he suddenly ceased being a total jobber and walks into an armdrag, as Steamboat starts working the arm. Quick story about Roma to illustrate what a dork he is – during the period in the late 90s where he was attempting a boxing career to make up for being blackballed out of wrestling (and considering the people who have come back to wrestling, think about what a cock you have to be to get exiled from our so-called sport), he would get his manager to e-mail me and try to convince me to say nicer things about him in my WCW rants. I think that’s why I still take such glee at slagging his every stupid career choice today. Sure, some people say that you can’t really blame the total implosion of the Four Horsemen franchise on his involvement, because it wasn’t his choice, but I say those people aren’t trying hard enough.  (High five!  Anyone?) Roma misses a charge, and tags out to Herc, who also gets armdragged a bunch. Over to Kerry, who slugs on Hercules in the corner. Warlord comes in for the face off against Bulldog and loses the power match, and a Bulldog suplex gets two. Back to Steamboat, who quickly makes a dumb move and gets caught in the corner. He comes back with a rollup on Roma, but Warlord clotheslines him and Roma adds a suplex for two. See, there he goes again, always taking credit for other people’s previous efforts. Roma gets a backbreaker and Herc comes in to work the back with a press slam. Warlord adds a slam and Roma adds a nice leapfrog onto the back. Steamboat’s comeback is cut short by a stun gun from Hercules, and Warlord keeps pounding the back. He goes up, and it’s Stupid Raised Foot Comeback Spot time, which sets up the hot tag to Tornado. Sunset flip gets two and it’s BONZO GONZO. In the chaos, Steamboat goes up and guess who gets pinned? (Steamboat/Von Erich/Bulldog d. Roma/Hercules/Warlord, Steamboat bodypress – pin Roma, 10:42, ***) This was the standard “warm up the crowd” opener, and Steamboat getting the living shit kicked out of him for 10 minutes is always a safe bet to build sympathy and disguise the weakness in, uh, everyone else in the match. So for those playing at home, yes, Ricky Steamboat CAN carry five other people in one match, and thus may qualify as Superman. (I wish Grant Morrison could reboot him too, and bring him back to my TV again as a young man.)  Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Bret Hart. Bret hiptosses him out of the ring to start, and grabs a headlock. Crucifix gets two and he maintains a headlock with some well-timed hair-pulling. Crossbody gets two, as does a sunset flip, and he goes back to the headlock. Hennig tries some cheating to turn the tide, but Bret takes him down and stomps him. They trade slams in a nice counter wrestling sequence. Hennig bails off a punch and regroups, but Bret pulls him back in, ripping the tights in the process. A cheapshot puts Perfect in control, however, and a pair of kicks puts Bret on the floor. Hennig steps on his back to get back into the ring, a nice touch. Bret fights back to the apron, so Hennig snaps him into the railing for the Pillman bump. Back in, Bret rolls him up out of the corner for a one-count. Perfect pounds him down again and sends him into the corner for two. Necksnap and rollup get two. Dropkick puts Bret on the floor, and they brawl out there. They fight up to the top and Bret down first, with Perfect falling on top of him for two in a weird spot. Still not sure what happened there. Perfect hairtosses him and grabs a sleeper, but Bret fights out easily. Bret tries another crucifix, but Perfect is onto him now and counters with a samoan drop for two. He sends Bret to the corner for two. Perfectplex gets two, and Bret comes back. Atomic drop both ways and Bret returns the hairtoss, so Perfect takes a great sliding bump into the post. Suplex gets two. Small package gets two. Russian legsweep gets two. Backbreaker and elbow get two. A desperate Perfect rolls him up for two in a hot near-fall, but Bret kicks him out of the ring. Bret starts kicking the crap out of the leg to set up for the Sharpshooter, and Perfect is flipping around like a gymnast to sell it. Bret goes after Coach and gets crotched as a result, and Perfect starts going low in desperation. A legdrop is caught by Bret, however, and he turns it into the Sharpshooter, with Earl Hebner ringing the bell, ringing the fucking bell, very early. (Bret Hart d. Curt Hennig, Sharpshooter — submission, 18:05, ****1/4) Still holds up, except for the botched finish. This was all about Mr. Perfect bringing Bret up to his level and turning him into a legitimate star.  (Yup.  A great match with great drama, although many people now prefer the King of the Ring 93 match instead.  To each their own, both are awesome anyway.)  The Natural Disasters v. The Sheepfuckers Andre the Giant is managing the Whackers, looking on death’s door in the process. This momentous grudge match was set up by Tugboat suddenly realizing what a goober he was and turning on the Bushwhackers for a real career. (Ironically, Quake had put Tugboat out of action one year previous to this, knocking him out of his main event payoff at Summerslam 90.  So he’s not only stupid and clumsy, but very forgiving.)  Butch bites him to start and the Whackers quickly overwhelm the heels with double-teaming. Quake clobbers Butch, however, and the Disasters take over. Quake drops the big fat elbow and Typhoon powers Butch into the corner, and trades off with Quake for a bearhug. Typhoon comes back in with an elbow for two. Hot tag Luke and they take out Quake with a battering ram, but Luke goes splat when left alone with the heels, and that’s all she wrote. (Natural Disasters d. Bushwhackers, Earthquake assdrop — pin Luke Williams, 6:28, *) This was a squash sundae with squash nuts on top and a light coating of chocolate squash sauce. LOD saves Andre from a potential beatdown, which sets up the big program for the fall that led indirectly to the creation of Money Inc. Weird how stuff works, no? – And then, wrestling history trivialized to comedy by those who had no clue just what had been dropped in their laps, as Bobby Heenan knocks on Hulk Hogan’s door…carrying the NWA World title belt. To this day I can’t believe how many ways they flushed this angle down the crapper. I know it doesn’t sound like SUCH a big deal these days, but back then I knew people who were almost ready to start writing up their last will and testament because it was clearly the first sign of the apocalypse and the world would be ending soon.  (And of course the crack WWF legal team lost yet another lawsuit over this, which again makes me wonder how Vince ever escaped the steroid trials without getting a life sentence.  How completely incompetent did the government’s prosecution team have to be to not be able to convict VINCE MCMAHON of steroid distribution?!?)  Million Dollar Title: Ted Dibiase v. Virgil Hard to believe now, but this was quite the hot feud in 1991. (Just ask Virgil next time you see him at a convention!)  Sadly, Dibiase was the only one who could actually carry Virgil to anything watchable. Virgil slugs away to start and clotheslines Dibiase a few times, and another one to put him on the floor. Virgil tries to follow with a pescado, but Dibiase casually sidesteps him and sends him into the stairs. Back in for a clothesline, and the fistdrop gets two. Virgil catches him with his own version of the Million Dollar Dream, which I’m shocked they didn’t call “I Have A Dream” or something equally offensive, and Sherri runs in and waffles him with her loaded purse to break it up. A DQ appears imminent, but instead Sherri goes back to the dressing room and THE MATCH…MUST…CONTINUE! Virgil recovers first and rams Dibiase into the turnbuckles, and slugs away in the corner. Kind of limited in the offense department there. The ref is bumped on the old double whip and Virgil is out, so Dibiase lays the badmouth on Virgil’s mentor, Roddy Piper, and then hits Virgil with a pair of suplexes and a piledriver. Piper’s commentary, as he tries to will Virgil to come back, actually makes the match something pretty special, one of the few times you can say that about him. Dibiase pulls off the turnbuckle and goes for the kill, but Virgil has one last bit of energy and Dibiase eats the steel, and that’s enough for Virgil to roll over and get the pin. (Virgil d. Ted Dibiase, turnbuckle — pin, 10:53, **1/2) The story here was that Virg was 100% out of his league and Dibiase could beat him any time he wanted, but you’ll notice that he still went over, clean as a sheet (well, mostly), because Dibiase went out there and did the job like a pro instead of needing the Russo formula of someone else helping Virgil to win. As a match it was nothing, but the drama and story told were great.  (You’ll note that Dibiase doing ONE job extended Virgil’s career by something like 8 years.  That’s some impressive fuel economy.)  Jailhouse Match: The Mountie v. Big Bossman The loser spends the night in jail, and Mountie does a brilliant pre-match promo where he insults the New York police and basically sets up all the ironic abuse that was to come later. Mountie was a wonderfully obnoxious midcard heel, but he just never clicked as a singles worker. And he was given EVERYTHING, too. He had the great gimmick concept, a unique look, a unique weapon to carry around, a catchphrase, a catchy theme song, Jimmy Hart managing him and tons of promo time. But for whatever reason, people just didn’t buy him at that level. (COUGH ALBERTO DEL RIO COUGH) Bossman slugs him down to cut off the trashtalk, and gets a splash for two. He does the sliding punch, but Mountie goes to the eyes, only to walk into a spinebuster. Bossman goes to a neckvice, but stops to chase Jimmy and meets the stairs as a result. Back in, Bossman misses a charge and Mountie drops an elbow for two. Mountie hauls him out to the floor and they fight back into the ring. Mountie gets a piledriver, but stops to gloat about how he is the Mountie (see what I mean about the catchphrase?) and Bossman comes back with another sliding punch. Bossman slam gets two. Mountie trips him and tries another piledriver, but Bossman reverses to the Alabama slam to finish. (Big Bossman d. Mountie, whiplash slam — pin, 8:38, **) This was your basic Superstars main event, slow and not very interesting. However, it’s all just leading up to the big joke anyways, as Mountie is hauled off in handcuffs, yelling like a baby the whole way. – Intermission time, so we get promos from Ted Dibiase, Bret Hart, The Natural Disasters, Big Bossman, Mountie (being dragged into the jail), The Nasty Boys, Mountie again (getting photographed), the Legion of Doom, Mountie a third time (getting fingerprinted), Sgt. Slaughter, and finally Sid. WWF Tag titles: The Nasty Boys v. The Legion of Doom Big brawl to start and the Nasties get tossed. This is no DQ or countout. Animal powerbombs Knobs for two early on, but Sags saves. Hawk hits him with an enzuigiri and follows with a shoulderblock for two, but Knobs saves. Hawk slugs away on both guys, but Sags sprays him in the eyes with what I presume is mace, but maybe it’s Axe body spray, who knows. (This is clearly preposterous.  Not only that Axe wasn’t invented back then, but that Sags would know how to use deodorant.)  Sags follows with a drink tray and Hawk is face in peril. Back in the ring, the Nasties get a double elbow and work him over in the corner. Hawk bails, so Sags rams him in the stairs and Knobs follows with a double axehandle from the apron. Back in, they work him over in the corner and Knobs gets two. Stinger splash by Knobs sets up the SHITTY ELBOW OF DOOM from Sags, which gets two. Knobs jumps on Hawk’s upraised foot, and it’s hot tag Animal. Punches abound. Powerslam gets two on Knobs. It’s BONZO GONZO and the Nasties beat down Animal with the motorcycle helmet, which gets two for Knobs. Hawk steals the helmet, pounds both Nasties with it, and the Doomsday Device is academic. (LOD d. Nasty Boys, Animal Doomsday Device — pin Sags, 7:41, *) Way too short, and it never felt like the challengers were in any jeopardy. Really, given the buildup it should have been more like the ECW-style tag matches that the Nasties would have in WCW, or at least a Texas Tornado match, instead of the more low-key affair that it was. – Back in jail, the Mountie still isn’t dealing with it very well. IRS v. Greg Valentine. They trade headlocks to start, and Hammer overpowers him, following with a clothesline to the floor. Back in, sunset flip gets two for Valentine. IRS bails again, but catches him with a cheapshot on the way in, and gets the abdominal stretch. Lariat and elbow get two. IRS goes up, but gets slammed off, and Greg works the knee and sets up the figure-four. IRS makes the ropes and Valentine tries again, but it’s reversed to an inside cradle for the pin. (IRS d. Greg Valentine, inside cradle — pin, 7:05, *1/2) Again, nothing you wouldn’t normally see on Saturday morning syndicated TV or anything. Hulk Hogan & Ultimate Warrior v. Sgt. Slaughter, Gen. Adnan & Col. Mustafa. It’s too bad that Iron Sheik didn’t become truly entertaining until well after retirement, because “Colonel Mustafa” is a pretty boring-ass gimmick. Truly, my dream is to someday stage a political debate between Ultimate Warrior and Iron Sheik, hosted on YouTube of course, and then watch the money roll in. Never mind getting Warrior to wrestle again, the key to making money off him is to properly exploit his insanity. Plus it’ll be great when Sheik threatens to humble him by fucking him up the ass, and Warrior responds that queering don’t make the world work. And then Hogan can try to run in and break things up, but Verne Gagne will pay Sheik $25,000 to break his legs. I’ll make MILLIONS! Slaughter pounds on Hogan to start, but gets whipped into the corner. Hogan and Warrior pinball him, and Warrior comes in with an atomic drop, setting up Hogan’s big boot. Dig that tag team continuity. Hogan whips him into the post for two. Warrior sends Slaughter into Hogan’s boot for two. Corner clothesline and Hulk chokes away, so Sid Justice gets his ref on. Hogan gets caught in the mid-east corner and Adnan uses the fingernails on him. So that’s where Hogan got it from. Mustafa with the gut wrench and camel clutch, and Gorilla is all “Where have we seen this before?”, but Warrior breaks it up before he can actually acknowledge a previous gimmick. (It has since been clarified that Mustafa was in fact connected with Iron Sheik a few times on WWF TV before this, although I would again like to stress that I don’t remember it happening at the time.)  Slaughter gets a backbreaker for two. Hogan stops to give Sid some attitude, so Sarge clobbers him from behind and goes up, only to be foiled by Warrior. Man, when you’re getting outsmarted by that guy, you’re in trouble. Warrior comes in with clotheslines, but gets pounded down by Slaughter. The heels work him over in the corner, but Warrior reverses a suplex on Mustafa. Slaughter chokes him down, but Warrior bounces back with a clothesline and makes the hot tag to Hulk, then chases the other heels to the dressing room and doesn’t return for another 8 months. That’s some parking garage. Hulk up, yada yada blah blah blah. (Hogan & Warrior d. Slaughter, Adnan & Mustafa, Hogan legdrop — pin Slaughter, 12:38, **) C’mon, who really bought anyone on the heel side as a threat to either of the faces? The reasons for Warrior’s departure here differ depending on whose DVD you’re watching, but suffice it to say it was very political and money was involved. However, fake main event aside, the real draw was the (fake) wedding of Randy Savage & Elizabeth, as they renew their (real) vows in a desperate (failed) attempt to save their marriage. This leads to the reception, where Jake Roberts and the Undertaker play Wedding Crashers and attack Savage with a snake to set up the fall’s hottest program. The Pulse: Wrestling-wise, it was a mid-level Summerslam, with only one classic match, but the booking was excellent most of the way and it’s a very watchable show overall. Recommended.  (Yup.  I actually owned the original Coliseum video that I bought from a video store previously viewed, and during a period in 92 when we moved into a new house and we were waiting for cable to get hooked up I probably watched this show 20 times because I only had it, Batman, and Wayne’s World on VHS to choose from.  And I never really got sick of it.  Now of course my ridiculous 2000+ disc DVD collection has multiplied past the point where I could even watch all of them in one lifetime, not to mention the duplicates on Blu-Ray and everything I can choose from on Netflix, but everything starts somewhere.)