wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 16 / 2001

July 16, 2001 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant for July 16, 2001

– A few quick things to start…first off, the Bob.con is reporting that Terry Gordy died this morning, although I have yet to read it anywhere reputable yet. If true, it would probably rank among the least-surprising deaths in the past few years, as Terry has, according to urban legend, already died once due to a drug overdose before being resuscitated, with significant brain damage as a nasty side-effect. Terry’s whole life was pretty mysterious so there’s no real way to confirm that, and Terry wasn’t in much of a state to remember anything afterwards. I was a big fan of Gordy up until the late 90s, when the damage really kicked in and he became a self-parody. If true, it’s one more sad bit of drug-related bad news for the wrestling industry as a whole.

– Okay, onto the hot topic with the hundreds of people who e-mailed me last week: Yes, I have seen Blazing Saddles, but the point I was trying to make was that while Austin may have been directly quoting Mel Brooks, Mel in fact lifted the line from Sierra Madre and changed it because it sounded funnier. Basically, I’m trying to enrich your lives with some culture and classic movies and stuff.

– If the Blue Jays never have to play the Mets again after tomorrow I will be happy forever.

– By the way, in the absense of HHH, Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan, Paul Heyman is your new winner of Smartest Man in Pro Wrestling, for conning Vince into reviving ECW and quite probably paying off his millions of dollars in debts while turning ECW into the de facto #2 promotion, months after it’s official death. Congrats, Paul, your trophy is in the mail.

– Live from Providence, Rhode Island, the state so boring that I can’t properly mock it.

– Your hosts are JR & Michael Cole The Little Goatee Wearing Bitch. Wow, that’s exciting, they can’t even elevate ANNOUNCERS anymore.

– Meanwhile, Steve Austin lurks at a bar 15 minutes away from the arena. I’m pretty sure that’s the one owned by Tim White that the APA trashed in a skit a few months ago.

– Opening interview: Spike Dudley has a major announcement. He brings Molly out, and it’s established that indeed they WUV each other. Very cute, but this angle still isn’t going anywhere. Paul E. interrupts all the mirthmaking, doing his Crazed Jew Cult Leader walk, and he wants a word with Spike. It’s time for Spike to come home to ECW, apparently, so kiss Molly goodbye. Spike refuses, so Paul offers to bring her along, provided she gets lipo and implants done. Ooo, catty. Spike gets all pissed off, so the Dudleyz run interference and beat the crap out of him, then put Molly through a table. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt at the Calgary RAW.

– Meanwhile, Angle is READY to lead Team WWF. Vince disagrees.

– Faarooq v. Chuck Palumbo. Slugfest, and Faarooq gets a powerslam for two. Palumbo comes back with a baseball slide and flying shoulderblock for two. Sleeper, but Faarooq suplexes out while the other half of the respective teams brawl. Faarooq gets a shoulderblock, but takes a DDT for two. Spinebuster turns the tide, but shenanigans abound from O’Haire and Palumbo gets the Jungle Kick for the pin. Zero heat here, but thank god they finally put a heel over. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Angle whines to Steve Lombardi about how he too can be extreme, but Raven calls him on it and challenges him to a match. You know, everyone’s expecting the Austin turn at InVasion, but really given the way Angle has been shit on by the WWF team, he’d have the more valid reason to go WECW.

– Mike Awesome v. Edge. Lame dueling promos precede the match, although it is Lance Storm we’re talking about here so I can cut him some slack. Awesome blitzes Edge, but gets clotheslined for two. Awesome posts him and introduces him to the railing. Back in, slingshot splash gets two. He goes up, but gets dropkicked coming down. Edge comes back with a heel kick and slam, and a weird half-nelson facejam. Impaler is blocked with a release german by Awesome, but Edge escapes the Awesomebomb and gets said Impaler for two. Chairs get involved, but that damn dirty Billy Silverman stops the ConChairto, and Lance Storm superkicks Edge to give Awesome the win. Solid but unexceptional. ѕ* Cole is aghast that the WWF has lost the first two matches, making them 0-3 tonight. Man, that IS bad!

– Meanwhile, Stephanie sucks up to Booker. Jericho interrupts, and they do a Jerry-Newman exchange. Wow, Seinfeld references, how hip. Note to WWF writers: It’s 2001, get new material. If I want inane, outdated pop-culture references, I’ll read my own stuff, thanks. If you’re gonna make a reference, make an actual JOKE, don’t just reference the movie or TV show. The badges reference was funny because there were actually BADGES involved and the punchline was a logical payoff to that skit. This was just the writers going “Hey, we used to watch Seinfeld”, just like the other 20 million people who also used to watch it every week. Anyway, the upshot is Booker T v. Chris Jericho for the WCW title, TONIGHT. Why not make it for the US title and get that damn thing off him?

– Commercial sidebar: Who the hell is the guy in those stupid new Subway commercials and why should I know him or care what sardonic observations on freshness he might have? He’s giving this big smug celebrity-type endorsement, and it’s like “Who the hell are you, dude?” Yeah, doofus, a friggin’ sandwich made with meat and cheese sitting under an oh-so-hygenic plastic shield for hours at a time is gonna be SO MUCH fresher than produce bought at a grocery store, right. And how exactly do you know that those tomatoes on your sub sandwich are fresh, anyway? It’s not called “fast food” because of the long and careful preparation time of the ingredients, ya know? In fact, what the hell is that mayonnaise-like shit they put on there, anyway? IT’S NOT EVEN MAYO! They’re putting some sort of mayo-like white substance on your sandwich, and they don’t even have the balls to tell you what it is. In fact, they can’t even afford a real celebrity, they use a celebrity-like substitute. No wonder Jared lost 200 pounds eating there, he probably got a tapeworm.

– Meanwhile, Regal preps for Tazz, and Tajiri requests a commentary job again.

– Meanwhile, the McMahon children and their illegitimate balding distant third cousin, Paul E. McMahon, designate The Dudleyz, Booker T, DDP & Rhyno as Team WECW.

– Meanwhile, Vince heads to the bar to talk things over with Steve. Well, it’s more Vince talking and Austin sulking. This is SO Superman III, with Superman getting hammered and shooting peanuts at the mirror. Sadly, I don’t forsee a showdown in the junkyard between Stunning Steve and Stone Cold.

– Tazz v. William Regal. They slug away at each other before Tazz hits a suplex, drawing Tajiri from his broadcast position. He reveals an ECW shirt underneath his shirt, but then turns on Tazz and Team Regal beats on Tazz. See, that’s another possible month of storyline gone in one flat segment. DUD I mean, really, why not even draw out the suspense until the PPV? Hell, when WCW did the exact same storyline with DDP and the nWo in 1997, at least they spread it out over a few shows.

– Meanwhile, DDP gives Rhyno a Best of Sara tape to amuse the boys.

– Meanwhile, Tim White has a ref-to-man talk with Steve Austin. When has Austin ever listened to a ref before? In fact, when has Austin listened to ANYONE before, outside of Vince? To paraphrase CRZ, the real Austin wouldn’t give half a crap about any of this InVasion stuff, because he don’t give a good goddamn about anything but himself, his truck, and his beer. Not necessarily in that order. I like that they’re doing the Sting story arc with Austin, but you can’t run through an 18-month saga in one show.

– WCW title match: Booker T v. Chris Jericho. Ric Flair is mentioned in the same breath as Booker T, with regards to how much better he treated the big gold belt. The crowd valiently attempts a “Booker T Sucks” chant, but the cadence is just horribly wrong. “Booker Sucks” would be much more effective. That extra syllable is DEATH. Jericho gets the forearm and Booker bails, only to eat springboard dropkick. Baseball slide and they brawl outside. Back in, flying bodypress gets two for Jericho. He unloads the Midcard Violence, but Booker spinkicks him and gives his own chops. Blind charge hits elbow, but Shane distracts Jericho and Booker gets two. Back heel kick gets two. God, I sound like Eric Bischoff now. Dramatic spinebuster gets two. Jericho comes back with a flapjack, double KO results. They slug it out and Jericho gets some chops and a missle dropkick for two. Sadly, Nick Patrick’s elbow problems act up again, and he can’t complete the count. Bulldog, but the Lionsault misses. Booker’s axe kick also misses. Someone e-mailed encouraging me to call it an “ask kick”, but I thought that might cross the line between “edgy” and “racist”, so I declined. Gotta have limits. Jericho hooks the Walls, but now Nick has knee spasms, and can’t see the submission. Hebner runs out to count it himself, but Shane punks him out and Booker rolls up Jericho, getting the fastest count humanly possible from Patrick to retain. Really good TV match, but we basically saw the exact same match, complete with Dusty Finish Deluxe, last week. **3/4

– Meanwhile, Paul E. has words with Saturn. Saturn has a word for him: Snausages. Wow, more outdated references. I may remember Snausages and the accompanying annoying ad campaign, but then I’m 27 next month and well past the point where my brand loyalty needs to be established with the WWF. Is some 14 year old kid watching this gonna have ANY idea what a “Snausage” is and why it’s somewhat funny for Perry to use that as his non-sequitur du jour? For those who don’t know, Snausages were a doggy treat that was big in the 80s (snack + sausage = Snausage, see?) and had an incredibly cheesy ad campaign with talking dogs who only ever said one word: Snausages. Trust me, it was right up there with “Where’s the Beef?” in terms of long-lasting appeal.

– Raven v. Kurt Angle. Big huge face pop for Angle. He attacks Raven to start, but gets trash-canned and clotheslined. Kneelift and DROP TOEHOLD OF DOOM get two. Angle comes back with a suplex and Steiner forearms, and he chokes Raven out with his own shirt. Note to Angle: Raven wears a shirt for a reason. Sign to the head and trashcan to the head, but Raven tries for the bulldog. Angle blocks with the Angle Slam and finishes with the anglelock for the submission. Angle snaps and keeps pounding on Raven until the WCW B-team runs in, only to get chased off the Dorkiest Man Alive. That’ll get ‘em over as heels. Match was a total squash for Angle. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Austin shoots pool.

– The Hardy Boyz v. The Dudley Boyz. Again? D-Von poundz on Matt, and Matt poundz back. Neckbreaker getz two, and the Hardyz double-team both Dudz. Cheapshotz turn the tide, as JR talkz about Heyman preying on the weak-minded to accomplish his goalz. What doez that say about Vince, then? Bubba roughz up Jeff, and they flapjack him. D-Von getz the spinning elbow, but Bubba goez up and getz rana’d off the top for two. Hot tag Matt, yodelling legdrop on D-Von getz two. Twist of Fate/Swanton getz two, but Bubba pullz the ref out. Big brawl, and RVD runz down to assist D-Von in pinning Matt for the win. The ECW team punkz out Jeff, including a Five-Star Frog Splash on Jeff that should set up a match at InVasion. Match waz the usual cookie-cutter affair from these two. *1/4

– Meanwhile, Vince and the APA decide to gather up a posse.

– Meanwhile, Stephanie gives the WECW crew a peptalk. Apparently they sold their WWF stock to finance this inVasion. And here I thought PlayStation was sponsoring it. If all this stuff wasn’t being booked on napkins two hours before showtime, I’d say that was foreshadowing of some sort. Paul gets everyone all pumped up.

– Meanwhile, the APA conducts their own peptalk to fire up the WWF troops. It’s somewhat less andrenalized than the WCW version. Undertaker (Luger) says to hell with Austin (Sting). This is like a super-accelerated version of WCW 1996-1998. It’s quite scary, really, to see them burning through storylines it took WCW two years to screw up. They wheel Freddie Blassie in for the big Patton speech.

– Meanwhile, Austin watches all this on TV, and storms off.

– Trish v. Terri. Trish works in a Giant Swing early, but gets her hair stepped on. They flop around the ring like salmon going upstream for a bit and Trish gets the bulldog for the pin. Stacy & Torrie attack, Lita makes the save. We all know the reason for the match. -*

– DDP & Rhyno v. Undertaker & Kane. Big brawl to start, faces clean house. Just for fun, let’s count the total number of moves sold by the babyfaces, shall we? Kane beats on Rhyno and powerslams him. Chokeslam is blocked, but Rhyno eats boot. He walks into a powerslam, and Undertaker comes in and destroys him. Elbow and legdrop get two. ROPEWALK OF DEATH, but Rhyno dumps him and DDP tosses him back in. Count is still at “zero”, by the way. Beating in the corner, Undertaker casually shrugs them off and sideslams DDP. Pier-six, and everyone runs in for the shmoz. It’s a big battle royale, and even the jobbers are fighting in the parking lot. Steve Austin arrives in his truck and cleans them out with a pool cue, then hits the ring to a massive face pop and hits everything that moves with stunners, taking out 15 or 20 guys single-handedly in the process. More on this in a bit.

– Meanwhile, Shane & Stephanie stop Freddie Blassie and let him know that he’ll be dead soon, and that somehow this relates to WCW winning at InVasion. Well, that’s very classy on her part, writing herself a part where she gets to tell off someone who’s drawn more money in the business than she ever will and would likely kick her brother’s ass from one end of the arena to the other, too. That Steph, what a creative genius.

The Bottom Line: Okay, this is The Way It Is:

WCW is dead. A pathetic bunch of directionless jobbers who can’t win without cheating referees and constant run-ins. Not only that, they’re not even smart enough to take a hint from the nWo and use numerical superiority to their advantage by ganging up on WWF guys at every opportunity. Meanwhile, given a reasonably fair fight, Steve Austin storms in and single-handedly kicks all of their asses without breaking a sweat. JR screams constantly about how the WWF will never be the same after Sunday if Team WWF loses the 10-man tag, but what’s on the line? Um, how about NOTHING? The various titles aren’t even on the line throughout the rest of the card. So we’ve got a bunch of jobbers who can’t hardly even win matches when they grossly outnumber the WWF guys as it is, teamed up in a fair fight against 5 top WWF guys in a match where three of the “interpromotional” guys have been in the WWF for quite a while now.

So, given that no one in their right mind expects Team WECW to even stand a chance against SuperAustin and his merry band of Tippy Top guys, what’s the incentive to buy the PPV? Are people really gonna pay $30 to see the WCW guys get their clocks cleaned AGAIN? Don’t we see that enough?

Okay, so it’s established that unless the WWF is out of their friggin’ minds and is willing to spend $7 million dollars to hotshot one PPV and then kill the angle for good, then obviously something fairly big has to happen at that show to give WECW some semblance of main event credibility. Well, Rock could return and be on their side, but I think we’ve established by now that they’ve learned their lesson vis-а-vis turning mega-over babyfaces into heels for no conceivable reason, and really Rock in WCW would just muddy the already muddy heel-face waters further, so forget that one. HHH is still injured. And since they don’t really consider anyone else main event level at this point, the only logical solution seems to be turning Austin for the second time in 7 days and having him do the Hogan Turn at the PPV, going WECW and kicking the angle into overdrive, at which point Rock returns and it sets up the big rematch between them once and for all.

Okay, that’s all well and good, but it’s still ducking the primary problem that has been killing the WWF for the past few months: Rock v. Austin leading into Austin v. HHH is still the same three guys we’ve had for the past two years now. They spent all those millions and developed this huge storyline, and in the end it comes down to the Fussin’ and Feudin’ McMahons and Rock v. Austin, which is the exact same thing we’ve been seeing since Wrestlemania 2000 in just about every combination there is. And the ratings are still going down, albeit a little slower since the InVasion began. People want to see something DIFFERENT, and the InVasion was promising to deliver that before the Great Lockerroom Atmosphere stuck it’s ugly head into the proceedings. Well, the GLA says, Palumbo & O’Haire can’t be booked to go over a couple of scrubs like the APA in any sort of strong manner because they have a bad attitude and we wouldn’t want to upset anyone.

Time out: Last I checked, the whole point of wrestling was to MAKE MONEY, not babysit the bruised egos of guys who have to do the job now and then, and GASP, might not even get it back! I don’t recall the Acolytes headlining those $300,000 houses that Austin & Rock were doing for most of the past couple of years. Do you think Bill Watts ever gave a crap about how happy his lockerroom was? Do you have any idea how much money he made in the south by pushing who he wanted to push and telling anyone who disagreed where they could get off? If you want to push these guys, then PUSH THEM, and if you don’t, then fire them. Because keeping a bunch of highly-paid primadonnas on salary and sticking them in a midcard role (Show & Gunn, I’m looking at YOU) just to keep the lockerroom happy helps no one and in fact sends the message that mediocrity will be tolerated and in fact rewarded.

Okay, I’m on a rant here, but point being that while tonight’s show was on the right track towards what they should have been doing from the start, the fact that they can’t (or won’t) pull the trigger on elevating the WCW guys by having them mop the ring with some top WWF stars indicates that this angle is doomed to fail from the start and always has been. Unless the WCW guys just go nuts and beat down some hapless WWF guy 25-on-1, you’re just treading water for fear of making one company you own look bad at the hands of another company you own.

To quote Meltzer, “Earth to Vince: You own WCW.” I wish he’d act like it for once.


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