The SmarK RAW Rant – July 2 / 2001
The SmarK RAW Rant for July 2, 2001
– Thanks to the old-school fans who enjoyed the Jim Cornette shoot rant so much, and I’ll likely do the Dusty Rhodes one next weekend to followup.
– Live from Tacoma, WA, the state that supplies most of Western Canada’s television.
– Your hosts are Jim Ross & Paul Heyman, for the most part.
– Opening interview: Vince, who else? WCW WILL be destroyed at Invasion, and Washington sucks. Kurt Angle decides to interrupt this fascinating monologue, just because he was so moved by the experience of listening to it. Now that’s some quality toady work. They badmouth Booker T and roll some footage of him beating up Steve Austin, which of course draws out Austin. Angle pledges to protect Austin from that scoundrel Booker, but Austin thinks that ANGLE is the whole problem, due to him interrupting the Vince/Austin partnership. They then proceed to have a hilarious argument that goes like this:
Angle: “I’m a hero, you know.”
Austin: “And I think you’re a jackass.”
– Sadly, before we get to “Wabbit season”, Vince breaks it up and tells them to beat each other up and get it over with. They spar, and then each goes for a vicious HUG OF DOOM on Vince McMahon to inspire jealousy in the other. This is just…surreal. Shane interrupts the whole bizarre proceeding and informs us that tonight RAW is brought to you by the letter “I”. Man, first Coke pulls out, now “A” through “H” are boycotting, too. I is for “Invasion”, of course, as Shane can apparently still make RAW main events, and tonight’s is Booker T v. Buff Bagwell. Is there anyone who CAN’T make RAW main events? Does Tajiri have some kind of booking power due to his position as Regal’s man-servant? Actually, come to think of it, a week of Tajiri subbing for Regal and making matches in his hyperactive Japanese and pantomimes would probably be the funniest stuff they’ve done in weeks.
– Meanwhile, The APA ponder conspiracy theories and try to flush out the Mole. Well, first of all, I’d call Tod Gordon…
– Intercontinental title match: Albert v. The Undertaker. Oh, THIS should be fun. Albert still has no heat. Slugfest, but UT shrugs him off and gets a backdrop suplex and a couple of elbows. Corner clothesline, but a blind charge becomes an Albert bearhug. That goes on for quite a while, in RAW terms. Bicycle kick gets two, blind charge hits elbow. UT gets the flying lariat and chokeslam, but good ol’ DDP runs in for the DQ. No shock there. Ѕ* He gives UT a Diamond Cutter, and at least Taker can sell it better than Kane. Kane saves Sara from having to get close enough to DDP to smell him, and beats on him, as does Sara, as does Undertaker. Man, DDP is just getting way over as a monster heel, isn’t he? Albert tries to save and HE gets beat up, too. I am completely at a loss as to how this helps ANYONE. I mean, the Stalker stuff was doing pretty good ratings because it showed a more vulnerable side of Undertaker and made him into a believable person, but now it’s back to no-selling and making everyone look like jobbers again. They have to start doing something productive with the Undertaker and make some new stars, because they’re running out of guys who can give that kind of rub. Ѕ*
– Meanwhile, Torrie Wilson arrives….oh my….
– Crash Holly v. Molly Holly. Crash stomps away to start, but gets headscissored and dropkicked. Victory roll gets two, but a Crash cheapshot stops that. Jackie pulls Molly out, messing up Crash’s timing. Dunno if that was a set spot or not, but it looked amateurish and pretty bad. Back in, Crash clothesline and delayed suplex, and Jackie sneaks in to set up Molly on the top. However, she then turns on Crash, and Molly hits her somersault buttdrop thing for the pin. Decent intergender stuff, and obviously the Holly v. Dudley feud has fizzled to a finish. *
– Meanwhile, Torrie steals Vince away from Austin & Angle for some, ahem, “business”, causing them to wonder which one pissed off Vince enough that’d leave them. The concensus: Debra did it. Too funny. I hope HHH never comes back.
– Meanwhile, Regal explains the underlying principles behind the Worm to Tajiri in order to prepare him for it, and then bores the Dudley Boyz with tales of Winston Churchill.
– Meanwhile, Torrie puts the moves on Vince in a shower stall, but Austin interrupts, wondering why they’re doing business in a shower. “Sometimes”, Vince quips, “you just have to do business in the shower”. Can’t argue with that logic.
– Tajiri v. Scotty 2 Hotty. Scotty gets an atomic drop and a pair of elbows for two. Tajiri kicks him in the head and hooks the Tarantula, to a big pop. THIS is the guy who should be light-heavyweight champion if they really want to revive it. More on that later. Rana is blocked by Scotty with a powerbomb, and they slug it out. Scottykick sends Tajiri out, and Scotty baseball slides him. Back in, Scotty flips over him, bulldog and W-O-R-M…but Tajiri sprays him in the face with the Green Mist on the third “Hoo”! Buzzsawlike Kick finishes for Tajiri. Now THAT was an awesome finish. Match was too short to amount to anything. ѕ*
– Meanwhile, Vince & Torrie go somewhere a bit more private, namely a mop closet. Kurt Angle finds them this time, pointing out the obvious: They’re in a friggin’ mop closet! So much for that tryst…
– Meanwhile, Booker & Test have a meet & greet session.
– The Dudley Boyz v. Chris Jericho. Oh joy, another handicap match. The champs double-team Jericho, but Chris tosses D-Von. Bubba hotshots him, and they Wazzup him. That move is dying without the spiel. Jericho cradles Bubba for two. D-Von gets his spinning elbow, however, and pounds on Jericho in the corner. Flapjack gets two. Bubba keeps up the beating, but the Dudz collide in the corner and Jericho slams Bubba off the top. He and D-Von slug it out and he hooks the Walls of Jericho, but Bubba pulls out the ref just as D-Von is tapping. Spike runs in, Acid Drops Bubba onto D-Von, and the Lionsault finishes. The ending was totally pointless – I mean, why not just finish with the Walls? A fine match otherwise, however, if totally pointless in just about every way. *1/2
– Meanwhile, Vince & Torrie start making out in a bathroom, but now they run into Saturn. You get the feeling that the wrestling is just filler for the skits tonight?
– Lightheavyweight title: X-Pac v. Christian. I’m sure everyone reading this can tell the finish 8 miles away, but we’ll go through the motions anyway. Usual stuff from X-Pac to start, but he gets clotheslined and powerslammed for two. X-Pac gets a spinkick and takes over. Lightning legdrop gets two and we hit the chinlock. Leg lariat gets two. Kick combo in the corner, broncobuster misses. Christian comes back with a gutbuster as Edge & Justin fight outside. Inverted DDT, but the ref is busy with Edge, and the title belt gets tossed into the ring as a result. X-Pac grabs it, bops Christian, and gets the pin to retain. Lame finish that just turns the already-dying lightheavy division into Just Another Belt. That’s the same mistake WCW made – instead of using that title to showcase someone DIFFERENT, like a Rey or a Shane Helms, it’s just more X-Pac doing the same stuff he always does with the same finishes as in every other match. Can you say that for Tajiri or even Scotty? The Worm may be stupid, but at least it’s unique. *
– Meanwhile, The APA fingers Test as the Mole. I just love these Mystery Man angles, they never disappoint.
– Rhyno v. Test. Rhyno pounds him in the corner and gets a mean lariat, but the JOB Squad 2K wander out to watch. Spear in the corner and Rhyno slugs away, but Test hits Uncle Slam for two. Test stomps a mudhole and pumphandles Rhyno, but he escapes…and walks into the KICK OF FEAR. Everyone distracts the ref, however, and Bradshaw hits the Clothesline from Heck on Test to set up GOAR GOAR GOAR for the pin and a shot at Mike Awesome at InVasion. Massive beatdown of Test by the JOB Squad follows as the crowd seems torn who to cheer for. WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN? Match sucked, existing only as a backdrop to the Mole angle. And poor Rhyno has been one step forward, one back for the past two months now. Ѕ*
– Big Slow & Trish v. Matt Hardy & Lita. I think two intergender matches in the same show is a clear sign that the bookers are spinning their wheels. Slow tosses Matt around and gorilla presses him. Trish comes in and that brings Lita in, like fire and ice or chicken and waffles. Lita stomps away and gets that standby, the hairtoss. She runs into Big Slow, but Matt & Lita double-team him. He ignores that and trips up Lita coming off the ropes, then takes out both Hardy Boyz at the same time. In the ring, Trish bulldogs Lita for two, and Slow goes for a chokeslam on her. Lita and Matt go low and double-DDT him, however, and Lita finishes Trish with a bad-looking Twist of Fate and moonsault. Slow presumably dumps Trish after that. Incredibly sloppy match as the Hardyz get more stale by the day and move further down the food chain. ј*
– Meanwhile, Buff pow-wows with Shane and promises to win the WCW title tonight.
– Meanwhile, the APA celebrates for eliminating the Mole. Logic gap: They powerbombed Test. How does that stop him from leaking info if he’s the Mole? Anyway, the point is moot because Sgt. Slaughter reveals that Test, in fact, has an alibi: He was with him watching old tapes.
– JR & Paul depart as we switch over to WCW TV. Pretty wild, as the watermark in the corner of the screen changes to “WCW” , the ring apron now says “WCW”, Nick Patrick is the ref, and the upper seats are blacked out due to the people leaving. No, seriously, they really blacked out the upper seats. Scott Hudson & Arn Anderson are your commentators, and Stacy Keibler is the ring announcer. But first, William Regal has Shane escorted out. He agrees, because unlike his father he’ll never build the promotion around himself. Yeah, right.
– WCW World title match: Booker T v. Buff Bagwell. In perhaps the scariest sign I’ve ever heard, the crowd completely turns on the match right out of the gates, booing both guys and sitting on their hands before the match even gets going. Bagwell jumps him and gets a quick double-underhook DDT for two. Blind charge hits sidekick and Booker gets an elbow for two. Buff hotshots him and chokes him out. The crowd continues turning on the match, occupying themselves with other things. Buff gets a suplex for two and hits the chinlock. The crowd then gets downright hostile, openly chanting “This Match Sucks” and basically saying “We don’t want WCW on our show”. Booker kind of grazes Buff with a dropkick and they can’t decide who should sell, so Buff keeps control. More choking, but Booker comes back with a sidekick and flying forearm for two. Axe kick, Spinaroonie, and Austin & Angle run in to a big face pop and it’s a Sports Entertainment Finish in WCW’s very first match. All three heels beat on Booker, as Bagwell has apparently gone WWF. They beat Booker all the way up to the entranceway. That was NOT the start they wanted to get with WCW on WWF TV. -*
– Meanwhile, Vince & Torrie finally find some privacy in the laundry room, and Torrie gets right to undressing Vince while he makes disturbing noises. Suddenly, she pops off-camera…and there’s Linda, as Vince is caught with his pants down. Oh, the hilarity. Those wacky McMahons.
– Finally, the beating of Booker continues into the dressing room, and they send him into the parking lot out the door. Austin & Angle then turn on Bagwell and do the same to him. End of show.
The Bottom Line:
Oh, where do I start here?
I saw A.I. this past Friday. Really good, entertaining and thoughtful movie for the first two hours, but then there was this god-awful half-hour epilogue tacked onto the end that felt like a totally different movie, and a really stupid one at that. In fact, that ending was so awful, it nearly ruined the entire movie for me because it negated all the stuff that had come before it and undermined the whole concept.
RAW was pretty much the same way.
First of all, I hope this proves once and for all that I was right about Buff Bagwell all along and his non-worth to the WWF. You can pin the entire main event disaster on Buff, because it was all his fault, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him let go right away for screwing up his one big shot and nearly tanking the entire angle in the process.
Second, the show’s whole premise was that it was building up to the first appearance of a WCW match on WWF TV, but what was the angle pushed through the entire show? Vince and Torrie making out in the dressing room. Why should anyone care about the WCW invasion if the bookers don’t?
Third, I’ve heard of slow builds, but the WCW guys get beat up EVERY WEEK. This is pretty elementary stuff – at some point, preferably early in the angle, you’ve gotta throw the whole roster out there and have them raise holy hell on the WWF guys to build some kind of drama. Instead, we get occasional run-ins that mean nothing and a bunch of jobbers running them out of the building if they get in. No wonder WCW can’t get over as babyfaces – they’re a bunch of pussies. No one wants to cheer for a loser. Booker T has been getting a small push, but even then he has to backjump Steve Austin and hit him with belts and tables.
Enough is enough. Get Goldberg. Get Flair. Pay them whatever they want, and let Goldberg plow through anything WWF-related that moves until only Steve Austin remains. Other than that, unless they do something REALLY drastic on Smackdown to revive this angle fast, it’s on the verge of becoming the biggest failure ever, right out of the starting blocks.
And by the way, I know JR promised up and down that the same thing wouldn’t happen here as happened with the UWF, but here’s news: It is the same thing. Despite owning both companies, Vince won’t push the WCW guys because it might somehow mean admitting someone else could build stars as good as him.
A terrible show this week given the ridiculous hype that the WWF had been giving it. It’s put up or shut up time for them, because I get the feeling a lot of people are going to start tuning out again after that main event.