wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 22 2002

July 22, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 22 2002

– I declare myself the Last Recapper Standing! Victory be unto me! Today
the Monday night recap, tomorrow Slashwrestling! Just kidding. (or am I?)

– Live from Grand Rapids, Michigan.

– Your hosts are JR & King, who are now in Nitro position rather than
ringside. Hmmm.

– Opening interview: Eric Bischoff brings us all sorts of stuff, including
HHH. Lucky us. JR verbally fellates HHH for a while, because lord knows
HHH appearing on RAW is more important than giving the opening slot to,
say, the Rock. HHH introduces Shawnie, as a little part of me wonders when
Shawn went from threatening HHH with bodily harm to being best friends
again. Of course, if Shawn turns on Hunter and reveals that Bischoff paid
him off to get HHH onto RAW, never mind. Bischoff congratulates himself
for reuniting D-X and names Shawn as HHH’s manager. Shawn doesn’t seem
terribly impressed with that deal. Hey, great, it’s the fun-loving rebel
v. uptight owner angle..again. That never gets old. This has to be a
setup, though. Shawn & Eric get all in each other’s face, and Shawn
decides to walk. Best RAW ever! Now all we need is HHH to walk, too. And
in fact he chases after Shawn. Next up on the Bischoff checklist, unifying
the European and Intercontinental titles into one belt, via a ladder match
between RVD & Jeff Hardy. About time. This was quite the badly acted

– Meanwhile, HHH & Shawn have HEAT. SMELL THE INSIDER REMARKS! Shawn goes
through a whole little Shakespearean monologue about still having his
pride, and HHH takes a moment to bury Austin. HHH has a master plan, of
course. I bet it involves hitting someone with a sledgehammer. This
segment made the previous one look good by comparison, which is weird
because you’d think that two people who are best friends in real life would
have some chemistry on-screen that doesn’t involve dick jokes. Of course,
that might tell you something…

– Ladder match, European v. Intercontinental title: Jeff Hardy v. Rob Van
Dam. Mat stuff to start, and Rob dropkicks him for nothing, because
there’s no pinfalls, moron. Pot kills brain-cells, kids. Jeff
headscissors him and sends him to the floor (where the lack of a table
seems…weird), but Rob baseball slides the ladder into Jeff and follows with
a quebrada onto the floor. Into the ring, Rob climbs but gets pulled down
by Jeff. Jeff gets his legdrop and climbs, but Rob bumps him off. Jeff
dropkicks the ladder out of the way, and both guys head out and grab a
fresh one. LADDER FIGHT! Rob opts for the spinkick after losing
his. Rolling Thunder on the ladder and Rob climbs again, but Jeff chases
him up and legsweeps him down. Jeff goes up for a swanton onto the ladder,
and both guys end up on top of the ladder, where Rob powerbombs him back
down to the mat. Another Rolling Thunder on the ladder and Rob climbs
again, but Jeff hits him with the other ladder to slow him down, and then
climbs up it for the chicken fight. Jeff loses that one and takes a crazy
bump, and Rob follows him down with a splash from the ladder. Rob grabs
the belt at 6:57. So the IC title now encompasses not only itself, but the
European title, the WCW US title, and by extension the National
title. That’s quite the lineage. Match was just a bunch of crazy bumps
with absolutely no story. Because I mean, seriously, you could have done
that on a PPV and gotten SOME bump off it. **

– Chris Harvard is out for an interview. HIDE THE CUE-CARDS! He’s more
intelligent than us, blah blah blah. Undertaker interrupts to shut him up,
and then beats him up for fun. Well, I guess that’s a face turn. And
that’s the whole segment.

– Meanwhile, Bischoff courts Rhyno in the back, but Planet Stasiak and D-Lo
bug him and get put into a 3-minute match where they have to entertain
Bischoff, or else.

– Trish Stratus & Bubba Dudley v. Molly Holly & William Regal. Hey, I
guess the romance is back on. In both cases. Regal attacks to start, but
gets backdropped and clotheslined. Regal finds solace in Molly’s
hips. Molly goes after Bubba, who decides to handle the Molly situation
himself. A dance exhibition leads to an exchange of slaps, and Trish comes
in to clean up. She gets a dropkick and hammers away, but gets tripped up
by Regal into a Northern Lights for two. Regal comes in, but he’s too
gentlemanly to hit a woman, so he takes her down with a wristlock instead
for two. He knees her down, but heel miscommunication leads to the hot
tag, and Bubba goes for the Bubbabomb, which is blocked by a low
blow. Molly gets crotched, however, and Trish comes in with the rana to
get rid of her, and Regal takes the Whazzup Drop. Bubba gets the tables,
but Regal simply suplexes Trish and stretches her for the win at
3:55. Hmm, maybe getting the tables wasn’t such a smart strategy. *1/2

– Meanwhile, Bischoff runs into Chris Benoit and reminisces about the best
of 7 series. So we get a Booker v. Benoit match tonight for a shot at the
IC title. The picture of Bischoff conveniently positioned on the wall is a
pretty funny visual.

– The Rock is out to celebrate his title win last night, but Eddy Guerrero
interrupts before he can even get going. He’s upset because his little
girls are giving up their Eddy Guerrero posters for Rock posters! WHAT IS
THIS COUNTRY COMING TO? Thankfully, Eddy showed some family unity by
burning the Rock poster, but Rock disagrees with his parenting
methods. Eddy senses a distinct lack of respect. Respect the mullet! Now
there’s a message for the 21st century. So Eddy is gonna teach him some
respect, and if he can win, it’s a title shot next week. Rock and Eddy
just saved the show.

– Singapore Cane match: Tommy Dreamer v. Brock Lesnar. Tommy attacks with
the cane, but gets suplexed on the floor. Brock stomps him down and they
head back in, where Brock whips him around. Backbreakers and Brock keeps
stomping, but misses a charge. Tommy gets a DDT for two. He grabs the
cane and whacks away, but Brock no-sells and hits the Browser Refresh at
2:32. Squasharoo. ј* Undertaker returns and sends Brock scurrying,

– Meanwhile, Show confronts Shawn about his tough love, and points out that
he doesn’t have the nWo backing him up anymore.

– Planet Stasiak v. D-Lo Brown. Brown gets a leg lariat for two, but
Stasiak powerslams him for two. Kneelift and Stasiak grabs an armbar,
which pisses off Bischoff. Kneedrop and Bischoff declares it over as the
Island Boyz run in and destroy them at 1:24 for the Sportz Entertainment
Finish. DUD JR & King don’t know who they are. Man, he’s not much of a
Talent Relations guy, then. This segment was ironic on a lot of levels,
not the least of which was that the average match time on RAW has been
running at something like 2:30 lately and thus 3:00 is actually LONGER than
usual for a match. Second, the storyline was that the guys were wrestling
for the purpose of entertaining the boss rather than competition, and even
JR gave a sarcastic “Forget competition, just entertain me” in reference to
Bischoff’s ultimatum, when in fact that’s EXACTLY the company line that the
WWE has been pushing for years now! Third, wrestling to entertain the boss
rather than do anything useful is exactly what has been going on for years.

– Meanwhile, Goldust offers kudos to Booker…and a Don King wig. See, he’s
the KING of giant-killers. Booker takes inspiration from Don and does some
bad poetry. Call this one a learning experience. Booker needs to do a
super-delayed tagline, where he does the “Can you dig it…” early in the
show and then disappears without a trace, before reappearing out of nowhere
during someone’s interview in the last quarter-hour and finishing with the
“sucka!” to scare the hell out of the interviewer.

– Booker T v. Chris Benoit. Booker grabs a headlock and overpowers Benoit,
but he goes for the taped ribs like a machine. Booker gets in a superkick
and starts chopping, however. Bad idea. Benoit kicks him in the ribs and
gets a backbreaker for two. Is it me, or are the springs in the ring
REALLY loud tonight? Benoit whips him from pillar to post and gets a snap
suplex for two. Booker backkicks him to come back, but Benoit shows him
how to chop. Booker catches a sleeper, reversed to a backdrop
suplex. Benoit loosens a turnbuckle (the middle one?), but Booker chops
back. Clothesline and forearm set up a spinebuster and Booker goes up, but
Benoit forces him to switch to a missile dropkick for two. Axe kick misses
and Benoit goes back to the back and busts out the rolling germans. A
bridged version gets two. JR notes that Booker reached down into unknown
places for the kickout. Isn’t that where Demolition came from? Booker
rolls him up for two, but Benoit sends him into the exposed turnbuckle and
locks in the crossface at 5:53. Okay, I forgive them for the table
match. **1/2 Little bit rushed and they couldn’t really get their groove
thing going, but it’s Benoit-Booker and a clean finish, for pete’s
sake! And if ANYONE can get a ***** match out of RVD given the right
amount of time, it’s Chris Benoit. This could rule.

– Eric is now joining us for commentary. Oh man, it’s like watching Nitro

– Big Show v. Spike Dudley. Spike attacks and gets nowhere. Show stomps
him down and tosses him around like a ragdoll before the chokeslam at
1:03. Yeah. DUD Bischoff wants a table, however, so Show fetches one,
but Bubba makes the save…and gets put through the table along with
Spike. Well, there’s the feud we all were all waiting for.

– And now…the return of D-X. This is so 1997. At least the theme song is
still cool. Hunter even does a nostalgia Buffer riff, even though he
didn’t actually start doing that until after Shawn left in 98. And indeed,
HHH turns on Shawn. Well, you knew one of them was setting the other one
up. And thankfully HHH is a heel again so we don’t have to watch him
gazing longingly into the crowd for faint “Triple H” chants before he
begins his 20-minute interviews. The replay shows that Shawn can’t take
the proper Pedigree bump, so don’t look for him in the ring again.

– The Rock v. Eddy Guerrero. Rock works a headlock, as does Eddy, and Rock
goes into the armdrags. Rocky “The Dragon” Steamboat? Rock works the arm
and gets a lariat that sets up a belly-to-belly, but Eddy hits a backdrop
suplex to turn the tide. They slug it out in the corner and Rock wins, but
Eddy cuts him off with an elbow and stomps. Crowd seems to think Eddy
sucks. He dropkicks Rock down and hits the chinlock. Another dropkick
gets two, and Eddy goes into a figure-four headscissors. Haven’t seen that
on RAW in a while. Eddy beats him down for two. Rock fights back, but
walks into a clothesline, and back to the chinlock we go. Rock fights out
and gets a DDT for two. Eddy comes back with a clothesline, but Rock kips
up and goes for Rock Bottom ,which is countered for two! Wow. Guerrero
necksnaps him on the top and heads up, and the frog splash
misses. Spinebuster and People’s Elbow finish at 8:31. So why not just
make that for the title? **1/2 The Brock storms in and lays claim to the
belt, but then does his Shane Douglas impersonation and throws it down.

– Meanwhile, Bischoff meets Stephanie in the parking lot, where she steals
Brock Lesnar away from RAW. Brock is the “Heart of RAW”? Big deal.

The Bottom Line:

That was a…weird…show. There were definitely parts I liked, but is it just
me or did anyone else feel like they were watching Nitro? And I don’t mean
in my usual facetious manner of saying so, I mean I felt like I was
actually watching Nitro, from the artificially fast pace of everything to
the strange booking to the segment placement to the Eric-Stephanie angle
closing the show that made no sense. And, for instance, why book an
Eddy-Rock main event and then immediately make it seem pointless by yelling
about how Rock is facing Lesnar at Summerslam? Why debut a tag team on a
show with no tag teams?

This show was certainly entertaining due to the enthusiastic crowd and the
energy of the talent involved, but it just left me with a nagging feeling
of something WCW-ish afterwards.

Until next week…


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Scott Keith

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