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Thursday, March 15, 2012

Wrestlemania Countdown: 15

The Netcop Rant for Wrestlemania XV.

(2012 Scott sez:  Wrestlemania was an even bigger deal with us in 1999 than it was the year before, as there ended up being a party at the apartment from all the people who wanted to watch the show.  It made for one of my least favorite rants, although the re-rant is one of my favorites, so I guess it balances out.) 

Yes, the wait is over! Wrestlemania is HERE!

Live from Philadelphia, PA

Boyz II Men sing the national anthem. Yay, crap to start.

GREAT promo to start.

Sadly, Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are hosting.

Opening match, Hardcore title: Billy Gunn v. Al Snow v. Hardcore Holly.

Wow, what a nasty reception from the fans for Holly. Snow cleans house with a broomstick fashioned into kendo sticks. Snow brings in a table and tries to put Holly through it, but takes a ride through it himself courtesy Billy Gunn. Gunn nails the rocker dropper, but Holly smacks him with a chair...and gets the pin? Aaargh! Still, an okay Hardcore match. ***

WWF World tag team title match: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett v. D'Lo Brown & Test.

WHOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAA! Debra is wearing a bikini with a tuxedo jacket. Good, quick paced match as D-Lo and Test control. PMS comes out to offer advice, allowing Owen to dropkick D-Lo off the top rope and Jarrett to roll him up for the pin. Ivory (who is a terrible actress) gets into an argument with Test, and the D'Lo-Test team splits just like that. No nudity, but Debra's outfit is WOW! Good enough match. *** (What the fuck was with the D-Lo and Test team anyway?  That’s incredibly random, even by Russo’s standards.  It’s like he thought the idea of the last two people in a battle royale getting a tag title shot was such a genius move that it wouldn’t matter who was actually put in the match.  For the record, this idea was stolen from one of the regional promotions in the 80s, I want to say Continental, with Kevin Sullivan and Eddie Gilbert getting forced to team up despite being bitter rivals, and winning the tag titles.) 

Brawl For All: Butterbean v. Bart Gunn.

Gorilla Monsoon is one of the referees, and he looks like he weighs about 200 pounds tops. (Pretty much his last appearance before he died.)  And this would be a squash, as Butterbean knocks Bart on his ass 30 seconds in and then nearly rips Bart's head off with a right. I think that pretty much ends any Bart Gunn push. (Live television + Shoot match = No control of the outcomes.)  Wow. To fill time, Vinny Pazienza chases the San Diego chicken around the ring.

Referee match: Paul Wight v. Mankind.

Big pop for Mick. They fight outside the ring right away, but Wight rams Mankind into the steps to take control. Wight hammers him for a bit, then takes a nice bump over the top rope. Socko emerges and Mick goes for it a couple of times, but Wight counters by falling back on him. Ouch! We spot Sign Guy and Hat Guy in the front row. Wight smacks Mankind with a chair and dents it, then sets up two in the ring and chokeslams Mick through them! Oops, ref saw it. DQ. Vince McMahon comes out to offer some harsh words, but Wight takes him out with a shot to the head after teasing a chokeslam. Man, we're just ripping right through this show. **1/2 (Yeah, they were fighting to see who could be the referee of another match, and it was a DQ finish.  How do you know Russo is booking again?) 

Intercontinental title match: Road Dogg v. Goldust v. Ken Shamrock v. Val Venis.

Standard four-corners rules apply: Two men in the ring at time, tag whoever you want. Goldust and Val do the first extended sequence, with Goldust blowing a superplex attempt. They do a double-KO bit, and then Jammes gets the hot tag. Big pop for JJ. He adds a little, uh, hip action on the pump handle slam. Shamrock tags in and snaps on the anklelock in a pretty sequence, but Val makes the ropes. Val and Shamrock right out of the ring for a cheap double-countout. Shamrock doesn't take it too well and takes out both Goldust and Jammes. Goldust comes off the ropes and gets tripped by Ryan, distracting him long enough for Jammes to roll through a powerslam and get the pin to retain the title. Hmm. Jammes v. Gunn at the next IYH? (No, but they did have their eventual showdown at Over The Edge, so no one remembers it.)  Not a bad match. ***

Paul Wight gets arrested for assault.

Kane v. HHH.

The San Diego Chicken attacks Kane...and Kane unmasks him as Pete Rose! Whoa, two years in a row. Amazingly, local DJ Matt Mauler, joining us tonight, calls it before it happens. I stand in awe. HHH attacks from behind and away we go. HHH dumps him over the top rope right away. Kane starts bumping all over the place, running into the stairs and taking a nice bump into the railing. Kane takes over, hammering on HHH. HHH ends up in the front row with the Greenwich posse (The MEAN STREET POSSE!), but they don't do anything. Hmmm. Then, after HHH ends up outside the ring, Kane pulls out a PESCADO! Whoa! HHH comes back with his KNEE MOVES OF DOOM, and Chyna comes out. Kane goes for the tombstone but HHH escapes and they do the double KO. Chyna tosses the stairs into the ring. Kane takes a DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM on the stairs. They fight outside the ring, and HHH tries a Pedigree on the remaining stairs, but gets backdropped to the floor in a wicked bump. Back in for a chokeslam. Chyna is looking HUGE. And speaking of her, she clocks Kane with the chair and reunites with HHH. (For those like myself who have trouble keeping track, Chyna had just turned heel the night after Royal Rumble, turns babyface again here, and then turns again later in the night.  By Summerslam she was literally working as a heel in one match and a babyface in another.)  Big pop for that, but it wasn't quite Savage-Liz or anything. Still, the match definitely did not suck. **1/2

Let's see, Mankind is in the hospital, and Wight is arrested...so Vince volunteers to referee himself. Uh oh.

WWF Women's title: Sable v. Tori.

Tori is borrowing Giant Gonzalez' suit from Wrestlemania IX. Sable and Tori do some alleged brawling outside the ring, then Sable actually takes a bump, with a dive off the apron. They actually do a wrestling sequence, albeit badly. The ref gets bumped...and Nicole Bass does a run in and press-slams Tori. Sable-bomb finishes it. * I was expecting a DUD, so this was better than expected.

European title match: Shane McMahon v. X-Pac.

Something big should be happening this high on the card. The Stooges attack X-Pac, but that goes nowhere. Running match to start, and Shane eats a spin kick pretty quick. Broncobuster misses and Shane bails. Test attacks X-Pac from behind and does the BALLSHOT OF DOOM on the post. Shane hits some kneelifts and tries a Corporate Elbow, but misses. Shane takes a nice backdrop over the top rope. X-Pac follows with a pescado, and takes out the Greenwich punks for good measure. Back in the ring, and Shane with an elbow off the second rope. He goes up again, and gets dropkicked off. X-Pac with a superplex. Test makes the save, but misses a charge to the stairs. X-Pac whips the hell out of Shane with a belt (yes!) and then gets the Broncobuster. Test whacks X-Pac with the title...but it only gets two. Whew. Shane goes for his own Bronobuster, and misses. Test interferes again, but HHH comes in for the save...and TURNS ON X-PAC! Shane gets the pin and retains. Whoa, that took balls. Massive beatdown results on D-X. Kane makes the save. Yes, folks, it's a double turn. Wild stuff. Pretty damn good match, although they had better take the Euro title off Shane pretty damn quick. ***1/4 (I believe I rant further on this in the redo, but what a stupid fucking angle the whole Shane deal was all around.  They put the title on him before the show to build up to X-Pac’s big revenge, and then put Shane over AGAIN, and then he just gives the belt to Mideon one day.  At least as he continued on, Shane would basically put over anyone because it was best for business and not his ego.) 

Hell in a Cell: Undertaker v. Big Bossman.

New look for UT tonight. (That would be the debut of the Ministry of Darkness look.)  Dull to start, but Bossman gets a pair of handcuffs and chains him to the cage. A shot with the nightstick allows UT to blade. Ah, blood for the Philly crowd. They lumber around for a bit and Bossman gets rammed into the cage for the double juice. The crowd is booing this mess, rightly so. Undertaker finishes it with the tombstone. So what was the point of the cage? The Brood repels from the ceiling and lowers a noose into the cage (And boy did THAT take on a whole creepy undertone a few months later.), then tie it to the top of the cell. Oh, that's interesting. The cell raises, and Bossman gets hung. (So, wait, he briefcase raised the Bossman, is that right?) Uhhhhhhhhh, okay. Match is an easy DUD.

WWF World title match: The Rock v. Steve Austin.

No, wait. Michael Cole introduces Jim Ross to announce the main event. THANK YOU! (If only that would happen this year.)  Vince comes out to referee, but Shawn's music starts up and he brings out a real referee for the match. Shit, he's over HUGE here. Shawn reads the riot act to Vince, booting him from the match and barring the Corporation from ringside. So after all that, Jack Doan ends up as the referee. Trash-talking to start and we're underway. Brawling right into the crowd as Austin tosses Rock all over the place. Nasty bump as Austin gets backdropped on a light standard, right on his knee. More wild brawling and Austin puts Rock through the SPANISH TABLE OF DOOM with an elbow off the railing. Steve goes into the stairs, and as we go into the ring for the first time, Rock hits the Rock Bottom! Only gets two. Chair gets involved and the referee gets PLASTERED! Rock rams the chair into Austin's knee a bunch of times, and whacks him with it. Referee Tim White comes in to count two. Rock goes to a couple of restholds. Sigh. Rock hits a Samoan Drop for two, and the Rock takes out the referee in frustration. Referee #3, Earl Hebner, comes in as Austin hits the Stunner for two. Vince makes his way out now, distracting the ref long enough for Rock to hit a low blow on Austin. Vince takes out Hebner and now Foley is out to ref. He takes out Vince and counts a two for Austin. Rock comes back with a Rock Bottom and the Corporate Elbow! It misses! STUNNER! Austin regains the title and the crowd goes BATSHIT! Vince breaks down in tears as Foley awards him the title. Overbooking and flaws aside, this was a great match. **** Earl and Steve chug beers, and Vince gets one more Stunner for old time's sake. And they all lived happily ever after.

The Bottom Line: Taken seperately, it wasn't the best, but with the great main event and the overall solid nature of the show (we'll pretend that the HITC match didn't happen), it's an easy thumbs up. Rock-Austin should go down as one of "those" matches, and I doubt we'll see Bart Gunn after that beating. (Well I was half right.) 

The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania XV

You people never cease to amaze me.

Over the weekend, my mailbox was pretty much filled with one of two kinds of e-mails:

- What will I/what did I think of the "new" Nitro?

- Why was there no Wrestlemania XV rant?

The first one I can answer right now: Because we don't get Nitro until later tonight up here. The second one is for a couple of reasons. First of all, I ran out of time leading up to the show and just didn't get the chance to re-rant. I *did* have the live rant from last year's show, but as my more devoted fans may know, I was hosting a Wrestlemania party at the apartment and as a result there were about 30 people packed into my living room and I was, to say the least, slightly intoxicated. As a result, my ratings were even more liberal than usual and it's not the kind of report I wanted seen on Wrestleline. Besides, I wanted to rant on the DVD version because I needed an excuse to watch it in full and there wasn't any other reason before now. If you're wondering, it's a fine DVD, chock full of extras like the Wrestlemania Road Rage party, and superstar bios, and interviews with techies, and other cool stuff. The picture is awesome (albeit limited by the non-digital cameras used by the WWF) and the sound is fairly impressive, although really a wrestling crowd can be done easily enough with Dolby Pro-Logic by looping the noise in the front and back speakers without having a discrete 5.1 mix, but hey, I appreciate the extra effort made by the WWF sound guys there anyway. The layer change is pretty noticeable, though, which is pretty much the only real problem with the disc, aside from the Freddy Blassie "Legends" promo that runs in the un-skippable FBI warning slot, like Disney does. Very irritating, especially since they run the same promo AGAIN during the actual introduction for the show. Those are minor quibbles on an otherwise fine first DVD effort from the WWF, however.

Live from Philly.

Your hosts are Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch and Jerry Lawler.

(Now this is more like it.  It’s a couple of years later and I can let my Russo-hating freak flag fly!) 

Opening match, Hardcore title: Billy Gunn v. Hardcore Holly v. Al Snow.

The genius that is Vince Russo rears it's unibrowed head again, as it was decided two weeks before the show that more heat would be generated by putting the Hardcore title on a hardcore icon like Mr. Ass and sticking Road Dogg into the Intercontinental title mix (which Gunn had been building into for months before). It had no effect on the buyrate because the undercard here was superfluous anyway, but boy it sure pissed off a lot of smart marks. And isn't that what's important: Swerving the internet fans? Think about it. Billy hits the one line he can effectively memorize after 5 years of partying with the clique before the match. You know, the one about sucking it. Kicky punchy to start. They fight at ringside with the crowd off buying nachos or "Mr. Ass" shirts or commemorative foam asses or something. I think foam asses would be a good idea – the image of the kids at ringside (who the WWF doesn't market to) with their hands up the souvenir asses would be perversely funny enough to be worth the lawsuits that would inevitably follow. Snow gets a hockey stick, prompting the fans to chant for that hardcore icon, "Let's Go Flyers". The WWF should sign this "Flyers" guy, he's pretty over. (Can’t win a Cup, though.) Billy Gunn, despite being the Hardcore champion, sticks out like a sore ass here. Snow controls with a broomstick. I wonder if that's the same one that Ric Flair carried to all those great matches in the 80s? Snow hits a version of Air Sabu on Gunn, drawing "ECW" chants. That's so banal I won't even dignify it with a smart-ass remark. Table gets involved, and once again the bitter hand of irony interjects itself into our meaningless lives, as Snow goes through the table. Even in my increasingly drunk state a year ago I was able to call that one from 10 miles away. Gunn does a melodramatic build for the worst finisher in wrestling today, the fame-asser, hitting it on Snow on a chair. Wow, he can put his leg in the air, what a natural athlete. (Notice how Dolph Ziggler has taken the move and actually made it pretty cool by hitting it from all sorts of different setups that you wouldn’t associate with the move?  Whereas Billy needed someone doubled over in pain for 10 seconds.)  If THAT'S all it takes, then Kevin Nash is Bruce Freakin' Baumgartner. Anyway, that gets two, and Holly bashes a chair over Gunn's head (STEEL MEETS VACUUM!) and Holly pins the still-unconscious Al Snow to win his second Hardcore title at 7:06. In retrospect, obviously Bubblehead Billy wasn't walking out with the title, and the WWF wanted to build to Snow winning the title in a match that MEANT something, so Holly was the logical choice. Match sucked though. ½*

WWF World tag title match: Owen Hart & Jeff Jarrett v. D-Lo Brown & Test.

A year later, and I'm STILL trying to figure out the point in sticking Test in here. Ivory was at ringside for D-Lo, still playing that timeworn wrestling cliché, the SPUNKY FEMALE SIDEKICK WITH ATTITUDE! (Like Eve Torres!) Who knew Josie and the Pussycats would have such a profound impact on wrestling in later years? Rhetorical question: Test or D-Lo, who has the suckier music at this point? (D-Lo, because at least I can remember Test’s.)  This was, of course, the old "two mismatched guys win a battle royale and get a shot at the tag titles" angle. I hear Vince Russo was pitching it as a sitcom ("Oreo Cookie") to the networks behind the scenes, but it got nixed when Ed Ferrera playing the third wacky roommate, a spunky transvestite Mexican drag queen who moonlights as a black cop, was deemed too ridiculous and racially offensive, even for the WB. Although I hear they're considering it as a mid-season replacement if that new Rosie Perez project doesn't pan out. (And to think we were still a few years away from America’s Next Top Model sweeping the TV screens of America when I wrote this.)  Anyway, Road Dogg doesn't coin the term "puppies" until a month or so after this, so Jerry Lawler's lecherous commentary seems unfocused somehow once Debra appears with her bikini-outfit. He WANTS to use a cutesy euphamism for breasts, but none is readily apparent. What I don't get is why you can say "ass" but not "tits" on national TV. I mean, we're only about half a notch away from "fuck" making it's network debut as it is, why not go all the way? Test gets a quick powerbomb on Owen for two, but takes the enzuigiri and Sharpshooter. D-Lo saves but gets put in the Ricky Morton role. Before the match can go anywhere (like, say, past the 5-minute mark), D-Lo makes the comeback, but chaos erupts and Owen dropkicks him into a Jarrett rollup for the pin to retain at 3:58. Nice finish, not so nice match. ¾* The whole thing never ended up going anywhere, but I think it was just residual anger from Vinnie Ru because no one picked up on that sitcom idea. (And now they actually HIRE sitcom writers to write the wrestling shows!)

Brawl for All: Butterball v. Bart "The Hammer, Lefty, the Man of 1000 Nickname and Nearly as Many Gimmicks, If We Keep Repackaging Him Maybe He Won't Suck" Gunn.

Blink and you'll miss Butterball knocking Bart's head all the way to All-Japan in 30 seconds. If you listen closely, you can hear JR laughing in the back.

The Big Show v. Mankind.

Winner gets to ref the main event. Mick takes a boot to the face, and goes crashing to the floor. They fight for a bit, and Mick gets sent into the stairs. Back in, as the entire front row is treated for oxygen deprivation due to Paul Wight sucking so dramatically, Big Show unleashes his awe-inspiring offense. Why is it awe-inspiring? Because the audience goes "AW, crap, Big Show's on offense". (1999 was a major dropoff in quality for Big Show after his WCW run.  Guess he just couldn’t work WWF style.)  Mr. Socko makes his Wrestlemania debut as Foley fights back, but Show keeps fighting the mandible claw off. Finally he does the Vader "fall back on Mick" spot to break the hold. Show abuses Mick with a chair and sets two of them up in the ring, then chokeslams him on them to draw the DQ at 6:50. All those who care, say "aye". Thought so. ½* Vinnie Mac comes out to confront Show about letting the Corporation down, and gets nailed as a result. This would set up the awesome Union angle, complete with Tugboat "toot toot" soundbite to open up their theme music, thus making "Well It's the Big Show" sound like Debussi by comparison. On the bright side, it turned Test babyface and thus prevented me from having to fly to Stamford and assassinate Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch for saying "The Corporate Team's Hired Gun" one time too many in reference to Test. You have to draw the line somewhere. (You know what, I’d totally take that line 7 days a week and twice on Sunday now because it’s at least attempting to build a character for Test.  Unlike “trending” and “building momentum” and “Vintage!” and all the other Cole-isms that we get 100 times a show now that don’t do anything for anyone.) 

Intercontinental title match: Road Dogg v. Ken Shamrock v. Goldust v. Val Venis.

This demonstrates the Russo philosphy in a nutshell: If you can't satisfy 'em, confuse 'em. Are the rubes losing interest in the Shamrock v. Venis program? Then make it a three-way with Gunn, add Ken's slutty sister Ryan, throw Goldust into the mix, sign a four-way, and swap out Gunn for Road Dogg at the last minute. Voila, SMELL THE BUYRATE! It might suck, but people will be so wrapped up in trying to remember who the fuck hates who that by the time they piece it together, the match will be over! That's GENIUS! (It kind of is.  Crash TV in a nutshell, really.)  Quick, someone give this man another $100,000 a year down in Atlanta. Dogg's intros during this match were as awkward as a mullet discussion on Meltzer's radio show (sorry, Cactusbix, but it's that kinda show, and you were RIGHT THERE waiting to be targeted…). (He deserves the mocking anyway.)  It is, however, nice to know that despite all the changes leading up to the match, Ryan Shamrock is still a whore. (They really managed to destroy all the good stuff they had built up with Ken via the Corporation stuff, didn’t they?)  Shamrock and Dogg start, nothing of note. Goldust and Venis go, with Val reversing the Curtain Call into a spinebuster for two. Nice little sequence leads to Shamrock and Dog DDTing both guys, giving Goldust a two. Road Dogg tags in and does his usual to Val. You know you're in trouble when Ken Shamrock is the moral high ground of a match – I mean, you've got the pot-smoking junkie, the porn star, and the sexual devient. Shamrock is merely high strung by comparison. (Although he hasn’t been coming off well in his legal battles with UFC in recent years.)  Too much showboating from Dogg gives Val a backdrop suplex for two. Shamrock comes in and anklelocks Venis, but Val makes the ropes and they fight outside for the hella-lame double-countout. What, were they saving the match for the big blowoff on the next PPV or something? It's friggin' Wrestlemania, DO THE JOB. That leaves Goldust and Road Dogg, who had absolutely NO issue and were thus the logical choices for the finalists in Vince Russo World. Ryan Shamrock quickly turns on Goldust, since Road Dogg was the only guy in the match she wasn't sleeping with and it was his turn, and Road Dogg rolls him up to retain at 9:47. That ending was weaker than D-X's bong water on drug-testing day. * (They could just do like Nick Diaz and argue that technically they weren’t smoking it on the day of the drug testing so nothing was done wrong.) 

HHH v. Kane.

For those like myself who have trouble keeping track of who hated who during the Russo Era, HHH was the degenerate, but lovable, babyface, while Kane was the Corporate, but lovable, heel. SHADES OF GREY RULE! SMELL THE BUYRATE! Kane tombstones Pete Rose, as usual, before the match. HHH backdrops Kane over the top and they brawl on the floor. Kane eats stairs. Back in and then HHH goes over the top. Kane crotches him on the barricade, and the Mean Street Posses tosses him back to ringside. Into the ring, Kane chokes him out. Legdrop gets two, Kane tosses him back out AGAIN and hits a pescado, although only in the same sense that one would write something like "Erik Watts hits a dropkick". That is to say, as a little joke between author and reader. (Like these ones.)  Back in, HHH mounts the comeback by…USING THE KNEE! Cue the overbooking as Chyna joins us, and if you look closely you can actually SEE her turning from face to heel and back SEVENTEEN times before she makes it down to ringside. The intensity of the match picks up, as neither guy wants to be stuck with her. (Ain’t that the truth?) Pedigree is blocked and Chyna tosses the stairs into the ring. Drop toe hold onto the stairs puts Kane out, but he's up and they brawl to the floor AGAIN. Does the term "pre-match planning" mean anything, guys? Kane reverses a Pedigree on the floor, and back in for a chokeslam. Chyna comes in (turning from face to heel 4 times on the ring apron alone) and wallops Kane with a chair, turning face for the moment, and drawing the DQ at 11:33. (Who the fuck books DQ finishes at WRESTLEMANIA?) Yeah, they gave them 12 minutes, just accept it. Big beatdown and tearful reunion results, although in retrospect the impact was lessened somewhat when they turned heel 30 MINUTES LATER. I don't know what the hell I was thinking last year when I gave it a decent rating. ½*

Vince appoints himself special referee for YOUR main event tonight, because Mick's in the hospital.

WWF Women's title: Sable v. Tori.

Tori was still recovering from her lesbian stalker period, and turned to Giant Gonzalez worship as the answer. So-called brawl outside leads to Sable hitting some sort of bodyblock off the apron. Back in and Tori hits two "running" clotheslines (which ended up in the realm of "shuffling" clotheslines after the first few steps) and a botched sunset flip gets two. I'm tempted to blame Sable, but given the god-awful nature of Tori's matches since then, I think we can distribute the suck equally here. An embarrassing wrestling sequence (and I use "wrestling sequence" in the same manner as I used "pescado" in the last match) gets two for Tori. I *think* it was a backslide, but I was too busy laughing at the bimbos to tell for sure and I can't be bothered rewinding. Ref is bumped, because god knows this match needed SOMEONE to sell a move properly, and Tori counters the powerbomb to escape. Oh my god, she countered one of Sable's patented moves! Someone tell Dean Malenko he's got a new threat to his "Man of 1,000 holds" moniker. Nicole Bass does the patented Vinnie Ru Run-In and destroys Tori, and Sablebomb finishes at 5:06. The only thing more pathetic than Sable's post-match celebration is the fact that this doesn't even COME CLOSE to worst match of the show. -*

European title match: "Stone Cold" Shane McMahon v. X-Pac.

Common sense and fan sentiment said that X-Pac kills Shane here and goes on to have a successful European title reign. But of course, SWERVES HAVE ATTITUDE, BABEE! X-Pac survives the assault of the Stooges to start, then chases Shane around the ring. Shane runs away like Vince Russo from good ideas. Back in, X-Pac kicks his head off and tries a broncobuster, but Test pulls Shane out. He posts X-Pac for good luck. Shane-O-Mac works him in the corner and then drops…the Greenwich Elbow. X-Pac moves, but Shane lowblows him anyway. Belt-whipping follows, but Shane gets bumped over the top and X-Pac hits a pescado. In this case, the total opposite of the Kane one. It makes contact and everything. X-Pac takes out the Posse, but Test gets in a cheapshot to drop him. Back in, Shane drops a 2nd rope elbow, but gets dropkicked down from the top and superplexed. Test saves the pin, but gets taken out. X-Pac lays in his own shots with the belt, leading to the broncobuster. Test sneaks in and KO's him with the title belt, however. It gets two. Shane misses his own broncobuster, and Test is in again. He gets a broncobuster for his troubles as HHH and Chyna are out to even the odds. However, HHH turns on X-Pac as Chyna distracts the referee by turning from face to heel 14 times in succession, and Shane retains his title at 8:41. *** However, it turned out to be an important storyline development, because without this match, Shane could never have gone on RAW and officially retired with the title after his first match. Of course, both Shane and the title were un-retired by Summerslam, but this is wrestling, and logic rarely enters into things. (Especially things booked by Vince Russo.)  Eric Bischoff said so on Meltzer tonight between double-talk, so it must be true.

Heck in the Cell: Big Bossman v. Undertaker.

This one had "bad idea" written all over it as plain as the eyebrow on Vince Russo's forehead, but that's never stopped them before. Punchy-kicky to start. And that goes on for good long while before they fight outside. Absurdest line of the night, from (who else), Michael Cole the Little Goatee Wearing Bitch: He declares that Hell in a Cell is dangerous because you can get your fingers caught in it. Lawler does me proud by responding to that one for me. Bossman cuffs Taker to the cell as a spontaneous "boring" chant starts. Undertaker does a bladejob best described as a polite concession to the expectations of Philly fans and the match format. Bossman gets rammed to the cage and joins the Gig Club, although really it's about 0.0000004 Muta between them and I've seen menstrual flows that were more inspiring. Someone get these losers some aspirin and a "Best of Muta" tape, STAT. Meanwhile, the ongoing saga of which side of the arena can do a bigger "boring" chant continues. Sadly, I'm not sitting close enough to the rear speakers to make an informed judgment on the matter. UT mercifully tombstones and pins Bossman at 9:46. Call it -***1/2, and that's generous. The Brood rappels from the ceiling and HANGS the Bossman, which was of course forgotten by the next night, because CRASH TV = RATINGS.

WWF World title: The Rock v. Steve Austin.

"Stone Cold" Vince McMahon comes out to be special ref, but HBK follows him out and draws the biggest pop of the night. Apparently only people who can pronounce "feces" correctly are allowed to be referees at Wrestlemania, so Vince is left in the cold on that one. Some other guy gets to ref instead. Hey, if YOU care about referee names, CRZ is RIGHT THERE. As for me, anyone who gets knocked out for five minutes from ANYTHING delivered by Billy Gunn isn't worth a name in my recaps. At this point on the DVD, it drops back to the menu and you have the option of listening to Rock or Austin's commentary, or neither. Since both sucked, I choose the last one. Slugfest to start, and they immediately do the WWF Main Eventer Time-Wasting Brawl ™. Austin takes a nasty bump to his knee up at the entranceway, and quick switch to the Austin commentary reveals that it looked worse than it felt. What insight. Back to ringside, where Rock goes through the Spanish table. I wonder if the table is proud of Eddy, too? (We’re all proud of him.)  And I wonder what Carlos and Hugo must think when they have to play along with "LATINO HEEEEEEAT" every week? I think I think too much sometimes. Back in, Rock recovers with Rock Bottom for two. Chair gets involved, ref gets the worst of it. Rock destroys Austin's knee with the chair as ref #2 counts two. Extended chinlock follows. Austin comeback is cut short with a Samoan drop for two. Rock Bottom on the ref takes HIM out of the picture. Stunner on Rock gets…two. Ref #3 has joined us. Vince joins us as well as Rock hits a low blow and Vince decks the ref. "Stone Cold" McMahon beats Austin down in the corner until Mick Foley makes the save and takes over as ref. Austin rolls Rock up for two. Thesz press and running elbow follow, but Rock comes back with another Rock Bottom. People's Elbow misses, Stunner, sionara. Good enough match, although Backlash was much better. ***1/4

The Bottom Line: Boy, the alcohol was sure kind to THIS show last year in the orginal rant. Sobriety and perspective reveals what a load of crap this one really was. Still, X-Pac v. Shane is pretty darn good for a guy who only worked two matches total last year, and Rock v. Austin is solid by default, so it's not a total stinkeroo.

Besides, you just gotta vent sometimes.

Recommended to buy as a DVD, but not for the show, if that makes sense.

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