The SK RAW Rant for March 26, 2001
1: characterized by fantastic imagery and incongruous juxtapositions; "a great concourse of phantasmagoric shadows"- J.C.Powys; "the incongruous imagery in surreal art and literature"; " [syn: phantasmagoric, phantasmagorical, surrealistic]
2: resembling a dream; "night invested the lake with a dreamlike quality"; "as irrational and surreal as a dream" [syn: dreamlike]
3: vince mcmahon on wcw nitro
- Live from the Twilight Zone, Ohio.
- Your hosts are Jim “Rod Serling” Ross and Paul Heyman (Niceshot) (Well that’s a tad dated now. )
- Am I stoked for tonight? Does a pope shit in the woods? All that stuff about the WWF’s overall staleness? Forget it, THE SHIT IS ON. (Yeah, for now. Wait until they fuck it up and then I have to do a million blog threads about it.)
- We open with Vince gloating about (what else) buying WCW. And there’s a split screen, Nitro and RAW. HOLY SHIT, 2 minutes in and I’m marking out already. He begins by sealing Jeff Jarrett’s fate, declaring him “G-double-O-double-N-double-E” Well, I’m not sure what goonnee is, but it sure SOUNDS bad. (13 years in and he’s STILL holding that grudge.)
- Opening interview: Kurt Angle spills the Big News: He doesn’t have an opponent for Wrestlemania! That truly IS the biggest story of the year. Even worse, the Gobbledygooker has an opponent. Benoit (drawing a noticeable pop) comes out to remedy that, because he’s annoyed with Angle and just generally thinks he’s the better man with the better submission hold. (Man, you REALLY don’t want to get Benoit mad.) See, now THAT’S good old fashioned match-making. I’m the better man, no I am, oh yeah, yeah, PROVE IT. Anyway, Angle says he’ll NEVER tap to the Crossface, so of course they hook it up and that’s exactly what happens. Edge & Christian charge the ring for the save and punk out Benoit, thus completing the babyface turn for Benoit. Great opening segment.
- Meanwhile, Vince watches Totally Buffed on TV, while establishing that HHH isn’t here, or in wrestling speak, “He’s here”. (And then Buff Bagwell ended up changing the course of history a few weeks later.)
- Tazz v. Val Venis. This is a lumberjack match with the APA and RTC serving as lumberjacks. Val gets a spinebuster and RTC pounds Tazz, but he gets the Tazzmission on Venis. Steviekick sets up the Money Shot, which misses. Northern Lights suplex finishes for Tazz. Lasted maybe 30 seconds. DUD Just WM hype.
- Meanwhile, Vince and William Regal mock Animal. (And then gave him a job and the tag titles four years later.)
- Doink the Clown cavorts in the audience to hype the Gimmick Battle Royale. And dear god, is that Mike Kirscher in the upper corner of that graphic? Did his welfare benefits run out already? (Let’s not mock the dead. Oh, wait, it turned out he was alive, right? Fuck him then. YOU SUCK, KIRSCHNER!)
- William Regal, with an announcement relating to W.C….Fields, wants a warmup match, So he calls out the Holly family, and gets Crash and Molly. Crash assumes he’s the one, but Regal goes after Molly…
- William Regal v. Molly Holly. Goes about 2 seconds before Doink the Clown reappears to make the save, and is revealed as Chris Jericho. Moving right along…
- Meanwhile, Vince notices Dustin Rhodes on Nitro and relates the story about his aborted try at breast implants to Trish, then realizes who he’s talking to and sheepishly moves on. I can’t even believe I’m typing some of this stuff. This one segment just violated about four layers of kayfabe in one shot. (And then Goldust got another job a year later and then again today.)
- Meanwhile, Team E/C/K (Edge / Christian / Kurt) welcomes Rhyno to the fold. So it’s Team R/E/C/K now, I guess? (Yup.)
- Wrestlemania promo, thus once again wedging “My Way” in my head. Then we head back to Smackdown for the Most Boring Interview Ever with Rock & Austin.
- And now, History. With a capital “H”. Vince, simulcast on TNT, comes out to gloat about the purchase of WCW. Paul Heyman, ever the good employee, compares Vince to Alexander the Great. Ye gods. Vince brags about how Time-Warner was literally begging him to take the troubled promotion off their hands, and in fact he’s more than happy to do so…provided Ted Turner comes to Wrestlemania to personally hand him the contract to sign. No bitterness there. He also takes full credit for winning the war, of course, although he admits that the wrestlers may have had a small part in it. He segues to Shane and hyping the big match, then goes back to WCW, specifically his options for the company. He can bury them and put it on the backburner, or he could rebuild it. So then this segment goes completely beyond the pale as Vince starts gauging fan reaction to some of the top WCW “stars”. Hulk Hogan gets a tepid reaction. (Back within a year and World champion again.) Lex Luger is soundly rejected. (Never brought back again.) Buff Bagwell gets a pop so shockingly big from the teeny-bopper set that it may have saved his job. (Which it did.) Booker T gets a good face pop. (Hall of Famer!) Scott Steiner gets MAD pops, and again that may save his job. (Sure, until he botched it himself a year later.) Then, in the most amazing moment I’ve seen in months, the crowd, with no prompting or cue, starts LOUDLY chanting for Goldberg. (Ryback must have been there.) So Vince adds Sting to the list (BIG pop), and Goldberg, whose name alone nearly brings the house down. Okay, they’ve GOTTA get him now. (Sure, two years later after he didn’t really mean anything.) In the end, Vince decides that WCW isn’t worth it, and he’ll just line them all up and hit ‘em with a good old “You’re FIIRRRRRREEED” for fun. Oh, and WCW is dead and buried, thank you and good night. BUT WAIT. Shane joins us…from NITRO?!? Oh my lord. Shane reveals that HE is in fact the new owner of WCW, having signed that contract himself earlier in the day, and Vince can essentially go to hell because he’ll bring WCW back up himself. Oh my lord. If they don’t fuck this up, and I don’t see why they would, this is gonna be the BIGGEST money-drawing angle in history, I swear to god. (Oh, 2001 Scott, so naive to the ways of the world…)
- Meanwhile, Vince yells at his lawyer. Smart man.
- Is there even any point in finishing the show after that segment?
- The Hardy Boyz & Chris Benoit v. Team E/C/K. Big brawl to start, Matt & Edge go in the ring. Hardyz work Edge over and a double-suplex gets two. Jeff heads to the floor the hard way and gets punked out. Angle stomps a mudhole and gets a backdrop suplex. Benoit gets the hot tag (at 1:00?) and cleans house, but Angle cheapshots him. Angle takes Poetry in Motion, however, and Benoit hits the Crossface. Edge & Christian save, but Christian takes the move and taps. Rhyno comes in and destroys both Matt and Lita. As long as he doesn’t wrestle, he might get over. Match was too short to be anything. ½* (Rhyno did OK for himself, all things considered.)
- Test v. X-Pac. Welcome to the long dark tea-time of the soul. Special ref: Eddy Guerrero. We actually just saw this exact thing last month, except with Jericho reffing between X-Pac and Eddy, but it’s the hard sell for Wrestlemania, so what can ya do? Test gets a tilt-a-whirl slam, but Eddy won’t count. Test crotches himself, and gets kicked in the head. Lightning legdrop gets one. Test’s press-slam attempt is stopped by Eddy, and X-Pac falls on him for two. X-Pac’s leg lariat gets two. He hits the kick combo in the corner, but Test catches him going for the broncobuster and slams him. Eddy won’t count. X-Pac grabs the belt and goes up, but gets nailed and Melted-down on the way down. A second ref comes in, but Eddy gives him what-for. Albert sneaks in, Baldobombs Test, and X-Pac gets the win. These guys were just sleepwalking through, and the severe overbooking didn’t help. ¼*
- MICK’S BACK! He shills a new book (“Foley is Good”), hits the cheap pop, and invites himself to Wrestlemania. Vince comes out, understandly vexed about that, but then the continuity-o-meter goes through the roof as we hit a tape from Dec. 2000, with Mick (one day before getting fired as commish) signs a gigantic stack of papers with Linda, in one of the coolest deus ex machina devices I’ve seen in a long time. He reveals the first document signed: A contract giving him the right to referee any match he wants at Wrestlemania. So of course he picks the Family Feud match, and basically notes that Vince’s life is gonna get a whole lot more difficult now. As if his night wasn’t bad enough already…
- Chris Jericho v. Big Show. This is Jericho’s punishment for the Doink thing. Jericho dives onto him but gets posted. Into the ring, Show walks on him and misses a pump splash. Bulldog is deflected by Show, but Jericho escapes the Final Cut. Both guys hit the floor, but Show presses him back in. Kane comes out to brawl, as do Raven and Regal. Regal hits the neckbreaker on Jericho to break up a pin attempt after the Lionsault on Show, and Show gets AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH THE CHOKESLAM!, for the pin. Would it have KILLED them to job Big Show here? DUD Needless overbooked.
- The Rock & Steve Austin v. Undertaker & Kane. Kane hammers Rock, but gets forearmed. Kane kills him with a lariat. Big foot and Kane chokes him out. Taker pounds him in the corner, as the crowd seems pretty subdued. Rock fights back, but UT gets the flying clothesline for two. Kane comes in again, but walks into a spinebuster and Rock gets the hot tag to Austin. He cleans house but gets dropped by Taker. Kane & Rock fight outside as Austin hits the Thesz Press on Taker. He gets nailed again, but fights out of the tombstone. UT shoves him into Rock, however, and chokeslams him. HHH runs in, chairshots UT, and Austin gets the pin. That ending’s really stupid on a lot of levels, like “Why do Austin & Rock need HHH’s help to beat UT & Kane” and “Who really cares who wins this match anyway, so why is UT so pissed off” and so on. Match was real bad with no heat, too, thus ending our streak of super hot main events. ½* Austin drinks some (de-alcoholized) beer, but Rock sneaks up and goes KICK WHAM STUNNER on Austin! (Oh yeah, I forgot about the “no booze allowed” era for Austin after the unpleasantness with Debra.) Wow, pretty soon this guy will have stolen EVERY finisher in the WWF. Seems pretty heelish to me.
The Bottom Line: It’s really too bad this was a Wrestlemania hype show, because had it occurred AFTER the big show and we had been treated to, say, a single decent match, it could easily be the most awesome RAW ever thanks to the Vince segment. However, it didn’t, so it’s not, and more’s the shame.
At any rate, Wrestlemania is now set, with 11 matches looking like this:
- Rock v. Austin for the WWF title
- TLC II: Dudleyz v. Hardyz v. Edge & Christian.
- Jericho v. Regal for the I-C title
- Test v. Guerrero for the Euro title.
- HHH v. Undertaker
- Benoit v. Angle
- Big Show v. Raven v. Kane for the Hardcore title
- Ivory v. Chyna for the Women’s title
- APA & Tazz v. RTC
- Vince v. Shane in a street fight
- The Gimmick Battle Royale.
If the four big workrate matches (Rock/Austin, TLC, Jericho/Regal and Benoit/Angle) are given 15 minutes or more each, they should all easily hit ****+ and elevate this show to Best PPV Ever without breaking a sweat. However, if they DON’T and they try to do a three-hour PPV with a one-hour post-game…it could get ugly. That’s why I declared last week that this show could go either way. Still, hope springs eternal. (Wrestlemania ended up OK, I’d say.)
As always, tune in the day after Wrestlemania for the PPV rant, and until next week, BUY THE BOOK.