wrestling / TV Reports

411’s WWE Ruthless Aggression Report: ‘Innovations’

November 24, 2021 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
WWE Ruthless Aggression Season 2

-So, my plan was to get this episode done last night, but Epcot Center took too much out of me. Today was Hollywood Studios and we got home earlier, so I was able to knock this one out and should get to another one later. First up we talk Innovations born of The Ruthless Aggression Era. Let’s get to it!

-Run Time: 44:43

-Reminder that Pat McAfee is the narrator for this season!

-We start with RAW in 1998 as Stone Cold Steve Austin drives a Zamboni to the ring and dives on Vince McMahon to a monster pop. Just look at that crowd! So, in the late 90s the WWE switched to catering to an adult audience with an edgier product and it gave us Hell in a Cell. Yep, there goes Foley off the Cell again. We were also given the greatness of TLC and 6 men killing themselves for our enjoyment.

-We get a montage of crazy spots and bumps as Gewirtz tells us that they either had to keep trying to top what they did or reinvent. We jump to 2002 and Vince tell us he kicked WCW’s ass and now he wants Ruthless Aggression. Eric Bischoff is here and he talks about innovation and how you need ways to tell your story.

-RAW Roulette: Eric says people still thank him for inventing RAW Roulette. Prichard puts over Eric for being able to put over these wild concepts because he had success doing things like that in WCW. We see HHH vs D-Lo in a blind-fold match. Regal vs Goldust in a match where both were dressed as Vegas Show Girls. Regal calls it his favorite thing he has ever done because he loved doing that comedy.

-The Main Event of that episode gives us the very first TLC Match on RAW. Adam Cole (uh oh) talks about being a fan of RAW Roulette because you didn’t know what match was coming. Kane wins the TLC match.

-RAW Roulette would show up from time to time and gave us a first: woman’s cage match with Lita vs Victoria. Lita calls it a great opportunity and she was all for it. That match meant a lot to her.

-One month later Eric Bischoff presents an innovation: The Elimination Chamber! Gewirtz says they were doing Hell in a Cell too much and needed something just as impressive, but new. He laughs at the early video packages that talked about how the Chamber was built.

-Survivor Series 2002 at MSG: We get footage of the Chamber being setup with the 6 men involved trying to figure out what to do with this thing. A producer asks HHH, who is sitting in the arena, if he has any thoughts. “Yeah, we are all fucked.” That had to be wild to see this thing and being told, now go create a great match. Shawn seems in awe of it and calls it cool looking. RVD is thinking of new ideas he can pull off and it should offer room for imagination. Jericho stands on the chamber and notices you can’t stand up right and tells HHH you might be ok if you come off at the right angle. Booker T: “Somebody is going to get fucked up tonight.” Yep!

-Booker says they were crash test dummies and RVD mentions it was a steel grid they were crashing on. HHH says it wasn’t designed for them to work and was just meant to look impressive. RVD comes off the pod and HHH tells us he looked up and realized RVD wasn’t in a good spot due to having no room. RVD tells us he overshot and his shin crushed HHH in the throat. HHH says it all went to crap and he had a hard time breathing. RVD mentions HHH fought through and finished the match. Prichard puts over HHH for getting through the match and really, he probably shouldn’t have and in today’s WWE, he would have been out of there instantly. Shawn gets the win and becomes The World Heavyweight Champion for the only time during comeback.

-They felt the match was a massive success and we would get future Chamber matches. The next one saw Goldberg get over more than he ever has during that first WWE run, but an injured HHH who couldn’t work the match gets to pin him and kill that noise. Big mistake there and was too late when they finally got the title on Goldberg. Prichard continues to blow HHH as he talks about the doubters and the EC was perfect for his character. HHH has a record 4 wins inside The Chamber and according to Bruce that’s why HHH is The Cerebral Assassin. Okay then!

-Money in The Bank: Gewirtz says he came up with the idea with Michael Hayes and Chris Jericho. The idea was to have a multi man ladder match but with no title. Their idea was a title match the next night and Vince loved the idea but said they should get a year to use it.

-WrestleMania 21: Edge was pissed about being put in the match as he was tired of being in Ladder Matches at Mania. He was ready to sit out Mania because he didn’t want to be a guy just tossed in a ladder match to get on the card. He was talked into it and says the fact he had to be talked into it showed he was a giant dumbass. Christian here as we get a shot of every competitor except the obvious one. Edge says they had Shelton Benjamin in the match and anytime they had crazy idea they realized Shelton was the one who could do it. Edge wins and that is what set him off on his Main Event run. He laughs as he tells us he is so happy he was talked into being part of that match.

-Gewirtz says they originally figured the cash in would be traditional in that Edge would just name a show, like SummerSlam, as the night he was cashing in his shot. Christian puts Edge over for mapping out the idea of being able to cash in anywhere, anytime. Paul Heyman tells us that constant peril is good television.

-New Year’s Revolution 2006: John Cena wins inside Elimination Chamber to retain his WWE Title and then history is made as Edge cashes in. Wonderful touch as he hands the briefcase to Vince McMahon. Amazing moment and just look at the reaction of the crowd. I also love when someone wins their first World Title and they legit break character to soak it all in.

-WrestleMania 22: RVD wins though Shelton continues his streak of doing the crazy stuff nobody else can do. RVD calls it the highest point of his career at that point. Morrison (he gone) talks about Mania 24 in Orlando and his idea was to do a moonsault with a ladder and people thought he was crazy. He looks back and thinks he may have been crazy. We see various Cash Ins and I was there for Edge’s second cash in on Undertaker on SmackDown.

-Concrete Crypt Match: YES! Prichard says it was the idea of someone on the writing team. Cole told Gewirtz they were ready to put Paul Bearer in the oatmeal and Gewirtz shoots back, “good luck with that.” For those unaware they wanted to get Paul away from Taker when he came back as the dead man, so we ended a PPV with Taker vs The Dudley Boyz in a handicap match. As the match went on, concrete filled a glass box that Paul Bearer was tied to chair inside. Taker seemingly saved his manager, but then pulled the lever to finish the job. Yes, it was awful! Prichard calls it one of the worst things they have ever done and Edge laughs that sometimes you take swings and don’t knock it out of the park.

-Punjabi Prison: Gewirtz: “Another SmackDown idea.” Hey, I was cool with the Punjabi Prison. It looked cool at least, though the whole door closing thing was weird. “Is that straw? Is that a hut?” Gewirtz is fantastic! Adam Cole says it was awkward and mentions those guys had a tough night cut out for them. Prichard says it looked like bamboo, but was steal painted like bamboo. He talks about the insane rules and how it was too complicated to follow.

-Taboo Tuesday: Heyman says WWE prides itself on being on the cutting edge of audience interaction and this show was the ultimate as far as fans getting to pick what they wanted to see. Basically, fans got to pick match stipulations, or opponents. The voting was apparently legit, but some of the choices made it obvious what the fans were going to pick.

-Mickie James (as this season 2 must have been filmed a long time ago with all these old faces) talks about how it was ahead of the curve. Gewirtz says Vince said everything had to be legit and it made the wrestlers nervous. Prichard says the fans did throw them curves at times and one was Shelton Benjamin getting the vote over Batista for a IC Title Match against Jericho. Shelton was stunned and his reaction was delayed. Shelton says he didn’t he would be wrestling so they went out with nothing and had the match on the fly. I guess Jericho was dropping the strap to whoever won the vote as Shelton wins the title. He tells us he didn’t know he was winning until Jericho didn’t kick out.

-Christian liked the concept though it was weird having a PPV on Tuesday. Mickie says it was a smart resource tool and Christian says it was innovative, but there is a reason they don’t do them anymore. Prichard says the fans want to know what they are going to get and the shows weren’t successful as far as PPV.

-Byte This: WWE show that started as an internet only show, but made headlines for pulling back the curtain a bit. Heyman says WWE saw that fans were interested in behind the scenes stuff and wanted to exploit it. Michael Cole mentions you used to have to call a 1-900 number to get this information. Adam Cole talks about wrestlers saying things on the show they wouldn’t say on the show and fans loved it.

-Steve Austin shows up and crushes the direction of his character and says the creative around him sucks. Gewirtz says the writers had nothing to do with the show and found out that Austin buried them. Prichard hated the show (of course) as what they do is tell stories and telling a different story on another platform can confuse the fans.

-In 2005 Byte This was given more run and it led to the most infamous episode ever with Matt Hardy, Lita and Edge love triangle. Prichard talks about the chants for Matt Hardy when he was fired after it came out that Lita cheated on him with Edge. They show Trish trying to cut a heel promo on Lita and all the crowd wants is Matt Hardy. All three were told to shoot on each other on Byte This and Lita tried to tell them that’s now how this works. Old footage from Matt as a talking head as he tells us if they were in the same room there would have been a fight. Edge tried to keep it “pro-wrestling,” but Hardy wasn’t having any of that and just went off on Edge. “Adam, you were married and divorced multiple times before you were 30 years old. I think that speaks volumes right there.” Edge shoots back that Hardy doesn’t know how to deal with women. Lita tells us it was another day at work that was uncomfortable.

-The wrap talking about how hard it is to come up with something new and having it stick. Heyman mentions you have to think new or you are walking up a down escalator. Kurt Angle says they needed to get away from The Attitude Era and create something new.

-Two decades later The Elimination Chamber is still around and now it built for safety as there is a protective mat over the grates and there is actually room to jump off the thing. I still like the old, none LED version.

-MITB and EC each got their own PPVs and then we see some more Cash Ins (Miz, Rollins). Heyman says WWE was far more interactive with online fans before Twitter Polls and Instagram. Now we get women inside The Elimination Chamber and that progression is why WWE has stayed alive and everyone else has failed says Paul Heyman.

-I really enjoyed this one for all the backstage stuff and thoughts of the wrestlers about these concepts and how they tried to make them work. I wish we had someone talk more about working inside The Punjabi Prison, but apparently, they were all busy. I would call this a must watch, but your mileage may vary. Thanks for reading!