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The SmarK RAW Rant – January 7 / 2002

January 8, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant – January 7, 2002

– Well, the postal system finally came through today, as my contracts arrived and were quickly signed and returned by myself. So once again, a reminder that “Tonight…In This Very Ring!” comes to a bookstore near you, Fall 2002. At this point I’ve up to about 50,000 words and I’ve got 97-2000 done, and then I’m gonna loop back to 1994 and see how much that takes up. The basic gist of the book, in terms of theme, is “WWF falls apart after departure of Hogan, hits rock bottom, becomes bad boy of pro wrestling, crushes all opposition, the end.” Specifically, it’s a VERY extended rant, in the vein of Lear & Lazarus, including key match reviews, a history of the ratings, buyrates and title changes for each year, and lots of venom directed towards Vince Russo, the McMahon family, and anyone else in the business who pissed me off during that time period. This is NOT a history of the WWF, it’s very much an opinion piece and I swear. A lot. I’m also going to do my best to get RVD & Stacy Keibler on the cover, but no promises. I’ll let you know as soon as pre-orders are available on Amazon.

– More of the fun of living in Canada – MovieCentral, the Canadian equivalent of HBO, has the rights to all the series produced by HBO and shows them almost simultaneously with their US broadcasts. Except, of course, for Oz, which is owned up here by Showcase, who take SIX MONTHS after the US premiere to show the new episodes. So I hope you Americans don’t enjoy the 5th season of Oz AT ALL. Just out of spite.

– Live from New York, NY.

– Your hosts are JR & The King.

– We hit the HHH video even before the credits. Talk about the hard sell.

– Vince McMahon is out with a present. He notes that the fans think Flair is unworthy of being in the ring with a great competitor like himself, and decides to show us a montage of great Flair moments to prove them wrong. And indeed it’s a montage of Flair’s greatest wins through the 80s and 90s. So why don’t they ever USE this stuff instead of clipping it into 5 second soundbites? Like on Excess – HHH v. Cactus Jack is a great match, but you can just go to the store and buy the DVD if you want it. Give us WarGames ’91 or Flair-Steamboat or any of the other great matches not available at this point. Anyway, Vince whines about getting punched out by Flair, and pulls a blond wig and Flair robe out of the box to emphasize his point. He does his Flair impression (and not a very good one), drawing the real deal out. Flair does his enraged manaic routine, but Vince pulls out a piece of pipe and waffles him, as Flair does a blatant bladejob on the mat and starts bleeding all over the place. That’s what you’d call an inside joke. Vince tosses him, lays in the boots, posts him, and then leaves him laying. Ah, Vince, always doing what’s best for the company.

– Rob Van Dam v. Test. No reason given for this. Great sign in the front as TheSmarks’ resident tech guy Marcelo Miranda and friend had a two-part sign that said “Rob has” and then “VD”. For those wondering, Marcelo’s the one with “VD”. Test hammers away but takes a leg lariat for two. Another is blocked with a suplex and Test gets a pair of corner clotheslines. It gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rob comes back with a suplex and dropkicks the knee. Test tries the pumphandle, but Rob reverses to a spinkick and goes up. Test shoves the ref into the ropes to knock him down, and covers for two. Rob rolls him up for two after a shoving match with the ref. Test misses the big boot and bails, but grabs a chair. Back in, Van Daminator and frog splash finish at 3:43. This Test v. The World angle is going nowhere fast. RVD is way over, but the match was sloppier than a hogpen. ј*

– Meanwhile, Coach is waiting for HHH to arrive. Angle is offended because he has a big announcement to make, and won’t answer Coach’s “pity questions” on what it is.

– Meanwhile, Trish and Terri fight for the spotlight at WWF New York. They decide to settle things with a wet t-shirt contest. Seriously, who ACTS like this in real life? The sad thing is that when Trish was going “What have you got, lingerie match, bra-and-panties match…” I didn’t detect any irony. Maybe it’s her horrible acting skills and vapid delivery, but if that line was supposed to be delivered as anything but dead serious, it failed miserably.

– Billy & Chuck v. Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert. Yes, that appears to be their official name now – “Billy & Chuck”. Billy & Albert start and Albert tosses him around, and cleans house. Billy & Chuck get avalanched in the corner and do the “one guy falls into the other’s crotch” spot. Scotty comes in and gets a neckbreaker on Chuck for two. Chuck gets a lariat and stomps him down. Discus punch and then the inevitable “faggot” chants start. Scotty DDTs him in the meantime. Hot tag Albert and he powerslams Billy for two. Heel miscommunication leads to Billy getting WORMed, but Chuck saves. Jungle Kick on Albert and Fameasser on Scotty finish at 3:43. Billy’s current run kind of makes you look at that “Mr. Ass” period in a new light. Dead match. ј*

– Meanwhile, Chris Jericho sucks up to Vince and complains about being booked against Rikishi, even if it is non-title.

– Meanwhile, Steve Austin annoys Michael Cole and reminds us once again that HHH is coming back tonight. He officially enters the Royal Rumble, which is good because it’s only two weeks away and all. He attempts to count off 29 “Whats” to symbolize throwing 29 guys out, but loses track. Austin really needs some direction with this character before it becomes even more of a parody.

– Intercontinental title: Edge v. Lance Storm. Storm hammers away and goes up, but gets dropkicked coming down. Backdrop and rollup get two for Edge, but Storm reverses to the half-crab. Edge makes the ropes, and finishes with the Impaler out of nowhere at 1:09. What happened to the storyline they were building just 4 days ago with Storm and the Canadians chumming around with Jericho? DUD William Regal clobbers Edge on the ramp with the brass knuckles.

– Meanwhile, Angle bitches to Christian about his great accomplishments being forgotten because of HHH’s return. Christian: “Like when I became the champion of Europe!” Angle: “Um…yeah.” Angle goes on to point out that a quadricep tear really isn’t that bad. “Hell, I just tore mine this morning, and I’m fine and here tonight!” Angle is FEELING IT with the interviews tonight.

– Booker T & Bossman v. Steve Austin & The Rock. Apparently Bossman is no longer Big. But he does have his flak jacket back, perhaps in case of terrorist incursions into the arena, who knows. Big brawl to start outside, and in the ring Austin gets the Thesz Press and FU Elbow on Bossman. Booker takes a turn and Austin hotshots him and lays in the chops. Booker gets an atomic drop out of the corner, but Austin tosses him. Bossman comes back in, and gets nailed by Austin, who then stomps a WHAT?-hole in the corner and WHAT?s it dry. Lariat and Rock comes in with his own for two. Booker comes back in but gets nowhere. Rock takes a tumble out and hits the table, allowing Bossman to give him a wussy shot with the nightstick and toss him back in. Booker kicks away at him like a girl (is it something in the water tonight?) and slugs away. Rock comes back with a belly to belly that Booker can barely go with, nearly falling on his head in the process. People’s Elbow, but Bossman trips him up. Bookend follows, but Austin breaks it up and gets a spinebuster. Bossman puts Rock in the corner and starts headbutting his stomach, which when viewed from behind looks suspiciously like he’s giving him a blowjob. And an enthusiastic one, at that. Maybe that’s why he’s main eventing again? Booker superkick gets one. They exchange chops and Rock DDTs him. Hot tag Austin and suddenly it gets even worse, as Bossman can’t take a backdrop bump properly or a spinebuster. Booker comes in and they mis-time a sidekick dodge spot, before finally Austin puts the match away with the KICK WHAT I SAID KICK WHAM STUNNER on Bossman for the pin at 8:19. Bossman is not just bad, he’s actively dragging people and entire matches down with him. This was just blown spot after blown spot, and you’d think they’d have learned after the Smackdown fiasco with Bossman and Austin. They have to get him away from the main event scene, NOW. *1/2

– Chris Jericho v. Rikishi. Jericho’s getting pretty far down the ladder for the Undisputed World champion. Rikishi slugs away and gets a clothesline and Cheeks of Fire, but Jericho bails. Rikishi follows and they brawl, and Jericho posts him and sends him to the railing. Back in, missile dropkick gets two. Rikishi fires back but misses a legdrop and gets bulldogged. Rikishi gets a clothesline and a catapult, into a samoan drop. Legdrop sets up the Banzai drop, but Evil Ref Nick Patrick gets in his face and gets shoved down. Jericho grabs a belt in the meantime, but misses, and the ref gets bumped in the corner. Rikishi gives him a Stinkface, but Jericho nails him with the belt and gets the pin at 4:29, despite Rikishi possibly lifting his shoulders. Oh, come on, it’s FATU, we don’t need evil refs, beltshots and ref bumps, just job him already. Match was okay until the silliness started. *

– Meanwhile, The Dudley Boyz run into their challengers backstage and get into a nice little intense confrontation to hype the match.

– WWF tag team title match: The Dudley Boyz v. Tazz & Spike Dudley. This is hardcore rules. Brawl on the ramp and into the ring, where D-Von gets his spinning elbow on Tazz. Bubba loads up the plunder and tosses Spike around. Spike tries a sunset flip, but Bubba unloads a fire extinguisher at him to block. Tazz takes the Wazzup and D-Von is sent for the tables, but Bubba whispers it in his ear to annoy the fans. That’s just mean. It’s so obvious that the fans want desperately to cheer these guys again, and they just won’t let nature take its course. Spike goes low on Bubba, however, and uses a stop sign while Tazz chokes D-Von down. Bubba blocks an Acid Drop, but Stacy uses her ass to bring the match to a standstill. Even Bubba gets mesmerized by it (can you blame him?), allowing Tazz to suplex him (in theory) through the table, but (in reality) off the edge of the table. He doesn’t appear to be dead, so Spike finishes with an Acid Drop through the table for the pin and the titles at 3:45. Could have been a bit longer, but it’s nice to see them paying off the angle. *1/2

– Meanwhile, Undertaker officially enters the Rumble and reminds us again that HHH is here later tonight. This is starting to remind me of Dusty-booked NWA, where all the bad-ass heels are cutting promos against him that sound like “Dusty, you’re a ratbag turdface and a fat piece of crap, but you’re a hell of a guy and the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever faced!”

– Wet T-shirt contest: Trish v. Terri. TV Angles 101 here, as Terri does her thing but Stevie Ray runs out of the audience in drag to attack Trish! Oh, wait, sorry, that’s Jazz.

– And finally…HHH returns. And he appears to have eaten the Ultimate Warrior while he was gone. The pop is insanely huge and even HHH seems pumped up by it, although the whole entrance and basking in the cheers bit goes on so long that it starts to get boring pretty quick. He says nothing outside of entering the Rumble before Angle interrupts with HIS big announcement, which is that he’s also entering the Rumble. Wow. HHH attacks and Pedigrees him, end of show.

The Bottom Line: That’s IT? A month of buildup and hype for the entire show and that’s the payoff they deliver? Remember this segment from Smackdown?

“Flair comes out to take care of some business. He endorses the Rock and calls out Vince, but instead Stephanie charges in through the crowd, which now makes her THIRD segment tonight. Good thing she’s not on TV anymore or else people might accuse her of being on TV too much. Flair lets her into the ring and she sucks up to him, but claims that his business skills aren’t up to her level. Yeah, selling 25% of a billion-dollar wrestling promotion in order to back the Alliance, THAT sure proved to be a good investment. Flair starts into his crazy old man routine and hits on her, so she slaps him. Well of COURSE Stephanie can resist the Nature Boy. She gives Flair one last chance to give in before Monday.”

Well, it’s Monday, and now what? They don’t even mention her and Flair’s back to Vince again while HHH is feuding with Angle. If they’re taking her off TV again, great, but at least bring her back in for one show to wrap up the storyline they’ve been hyping for the past few weeks. If the Angle-HHH thing was the payoff they’ve had in mind all along, why do the big hype-job for weeks on end? Fans were just going to expect something big and/or meaningful and got neither.

While they COULD be building to something with HHH-Angle, they’ve screwed up every other possible major angle over the course of 2001, so I see no reason why they’d change that pattern now. And now they’ve used up their last “get out jail free” card with the HHH return and have nothing left to hotshot when they need a big rating leading up to Wrestlemania.

A very average RAW that was made all the more disappointing by the hype.

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