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wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 23 / 2001

July 23, 2001 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant for July 23, 2001

– Just a note of feedback to some of the feedback I’ve been getting on the InVasion rant to start. There seems to be this weird defensive stance by WWF fans that says that if someone takes the time to look at a show past the most base values and doesn’t “mark out” when watching, then somehow that viewpoint isn’t valid. Let me clarify something here: I don’t write for the marks. I appreciate that there’s a lot of people who mindlessly regurgitate Vince McMahon’s “wrestling is entertainment and not Shakespeare” mindset without stopping to ever think about the product they’re watching, but that’s not my mantra and I’m not Vince McMahon or Paul Heyman writing under a fake name. My goal is to make you, the viewer, actually THINK about what you’re watching, and ask yourself why they’re doing what they’re doing, and what good it will do them. If you want recaps that feature inciteful commentary like “RVD RULZ DOODZ! 10/10!” then there’s tons of newsboards that can fill that need for you. I will “mark out” when watching innovative, exciting wrestling product, but InVasion wasn’t it. Last night was a calculated attempt to both duplicate WCW’s success in 1996 and set up a Rock-Austin match at Summerslam. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. If you don’t remember 1996, that’s your problem, not mine. I will not waste my praise on stuff that doesn’t deserve it because then it just cheapens that praise when I really need it, like for Chris Benoit matches or Sara Undertaker promos. The other weird thing WWF loyalists are falling back on is accusing me of not “having fun” or “enjoying” wrestling. Trust me on this: I wouldn’t watch the ungodly amount of wrestling I do each week if I didn’t enjoy it more than anything else I could be doing with that time. Besides, some people, such as myself, derive enjoyment from analyzing the wrestling in addition to watching it. If you want to “enjoy the ride” and think Rob Van Dam is the best worker since Ray Stevens, bully for you. I don’t mind people disagreeing with my views on the show, but I DO mind people using “You don’t enjoy wrestling” or “You should just sit back and enjoy the ride” as a defense of their position, because that’s the exact same feedback I got for months during the downslides of both WCW and ECW, and sitting back to enjoy the ride didn’t help either one of them. At least the WWF is willing to listen to criticism and change if need be, so by good I’m gonna criticize until they do so. God bless America, god bless us all.

– Anyway, on a totally unrelated tangent, your bit of commercialistic stupidity for the day comes in the form of a video I ran across today, “Titanic: The Animated Movie.” Now, I know the humor writes itself from there, but it gets better. Using a couple of made-up characters to sub for Leo and Kate, this masterpiece also includes that prerequistite of all animated disaster films…talking animals. Now, there might not be any EVIDENCE of talking animals on the Titanic, as such, but historical accuracy doesn’t seem to be a strong point of this video. Finally, the kicker is a large blurb on the back of the packaging that says “Child-Friendly Ending: All Passengers and Animals Escape Unharmed and Live Happily Ever After!” Now, I don’t know what’s sadder – the blatant Disney-ish hackjob on history, or the fact that they’re ADVERTISING it on the back of the freakin’ box. Always nice to know that somewhere in North America, there’s gonna be a small percentage of kids who read about Titanic and wonder what all the fuss was about, since everyone was just minorly inconvenienced. Or maybe, much like wrestling, cartoons and history just don’t mix.

– Live from Buffalo, NY

– Your hosts are JR & MC.

– Steve Austin (with new, more sinister music) and the McMahon gang hit the ring to gloat. Stephanie talks about the WWF dying a slow and painful death (what is WITH her and death?), much like her interviews. Paul says exactly the same thing with more words. Shane says exactly the same thing, and changes the official name of the group from “coalition” to “alliance” in the process. He did the same thing with the McMahon Facgime in late 99. Someone should buy the guy a thesaurus. And dancing lessons. Austin’s big explanation for the heel turn: He was jealous of the hugs between Angle and Vince, and wants someone who loves him. That’s so stupid and bizarre that it’s actually fitting for the past few months of Austin. Austin also mentions The Rock for the first time in weeks as a source of jealousy. Angle interrupts, but Austin goads him into a fight, Angle cleans house, and that’s that. Bit longish for what was being said, but it solidified Angle as a face.

– Meanwhile, RVD addresses the ECW troops.

– Hardcore title match: Rob Van Dam v. Matt Hardy. Matt attacks to start, and backdrops him on the floor. He grabs a ladder and in we go for some shots with that. It gets two. Van Daminator using the ladder and double-arm suplex set up the rolling senton for two. He goes up on the ladder, and Matt joins him for a slugfest. Matt hiptosses Rob off the top of that, and RVD lands badly on his knee. Ouch. Super Yodelling Legdrop off the ladder gets two. Matt sandwiches Rob in the ladder, but Rob escapes and bumps the ref. ***** Frog Splash onto the ladder finishes. That was a pretty silly ref bump. Match was another good spotfest, and RVD should get over in short order assuming he doesn’t get totally exposed in an actual wrestling match. **1/4

– Meanwhile, Edge & Christian have a Verbal Confrontation with the Dudley Boyz, leading to a challenge for a table match. But wait! Booker T wants in on it, leading to Mr. T jokes from E&C. It’s a six-man, presuming they can find a partner.

– Meanwhile, Kanyon models an “Invasion MVP” shirt for DDP. Nice to see Chris getting some face time after busting his ass on Heat for the past couple of weeks.

– Intercontinental title match: Albert v. Lance Storm. Cross your fingers, campers. Albert overpowers Lance and tosses him around, but chases him out and hits the post. Back in, he shrugs off the pain and uses a gorilla slam and splash for two. THE UUULLLLLLLLLLLLLLLTIMATE ALBERT! Big kick and avalanche, but Mike Awesome distracts the ref, Hugh Morrus nails Albert with the belt, and the superkick finishes and we have a NEW champion, which the crowd pops for. You know why? Because Storm is new and fresh and Albert isn’t. That’s your lesson for today. * Huge schmoz sees the WWF clean house in a lockerroom-clearing brawl.

– Meanwhile, Kanyon tries to move up the toady food chain from DDP to Austin, but gets blown off.

– Meanwhile, Edge & Christian recruit Kurt Angle and reunite Team ECK.

– Tajiri v. Raven. Tajiri kicks away and Raven runs away. Back in, he works an armbar for two, but gets clotheslined. Tajiri uses the kick combo to come back, and gets a leg lariat. Raven comes back with chops and sends him to the railing. Back in, Tajiri fights back and goes up with a missile dropkick that gets two. Raven gets a lariat for two, but Tajiri hooks the Tarantula and finishes with the Big Kick to the Head. Raven looked sluggish for the second night in a row. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, the APA teach Angle to chug.

– Undertaker v. Rhyno. Big chance to make a star out of Rhyno…oh wait, it’s Undertaker, never mind. Taker pounds on him and drops a pair of elbow for two. ROPEWALK OF DOOM and clothesline set up the legdrop for two. Chokeslam is blocked, and Rhyno gets some token jobber offense in the corner. Taker shrugs him off, but gets whipped into the corner. GOAR GOAR GOAR hits boot, and DDP joins us as Taker casually chokeslams Rhyno for the win. So much for him. Taker goes after DDP, beats him up outside, then sends him in for Sara to beat up on, then takes a swing with a chair and hits Sara by mistake. Hey, tough luck, she’s the one who went after DDP first. Match was a total squash. ј* They have to keep Taker as far away from this angle as possible because he ain’t gonna sell for anyone under 6’3”. Have Kane turn on him again or something and let them fight each other on the undercard until retirement, I don’t care.

– Chris Jericho v. Chris Kanyon. Kanyon has his old music. Jericho totally riffs on the “Who Better Than Kanyon?” catchphrase, thus getting it over in the process. They brawl outside and Kanyon hits the post. Into the ring, Jericho with kneelifts and a rolling suplex for two. Kanyon gets a whiplash powerbomb for two and takes over, using the new shirt as a choking aid. Neckbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock as they talk it over, and Jericho comes back, but hits boot and gets fameassed for two. Up top, Jericho blocks a suplex and gets the missile dropkick for the double KO. Jericho comes back with a fivearm and some Midcard Violence, but the Lionsault misses. Flatliner gets 2 ѕ for Kanyon. Enzuigiri is ducked and turned into the Walls of Jericho for the win. Good stuff, and it probably got Kanyon an even bigger push. **1/2

– General George S. McMahon comes out to retaliate the best way he knows how: Reinstate the Rock. Vince runs through all of the Rock’s catchphrases, begging him to come back and save the WWF. The conspiracist in me thinks back to 1995, when Ric Flair did the same thing with Sting and then beat the hell out of him, but a McMahon turning heel and face so soon? INCONCEIVABLE! Anyway, Vince scares me, I just wanted to say that.

– Meanwhile, Angle petitions for leadership again, and Vince blows him off again.

– Meanwhile, ShowGunn do some drinkin’ at WWFNY and make some shoot comments at each other.

– Spanking match: Torrie Wilson v. Trish Stratus. This is paddle on a pole rules, so I guess Russo IS booking again. Trish climbs quickly, but gets stopped by Torrie and stomped down. Trish charges and hits the floor in a god-awful spot. She chokes Torrie out on top and grabs the paddle, but Torrie runs away. She grabs the paddle, spanks Trish, and gets the win. This was even worse than the PPV match, and there wasn’t even any smut to compensate for the horrible in-ring action. -**

– Table elimination match: The Dudley Boyz & Booker T v. Team ECK. Angle pounds on D-Von to start, and Christian kicks him in the head a couple of times. Double hiptoss, but Edge walks into a boot and Bubba beats on him outside. Booker comes in to HUGE heel heat. They could really have something if they’d quit treating the WCW guys like second-class citizens. He sidekicks Edge, and Bubba drops an elbow. Edge fights back, but gets flapjacked. Bubba misses the senton, hot tag Christian. Inverted DDT for Bubba, and Booker gets dumped. Christian gets a table, but walks into 3D and he’s gone. Edge clotheslines both Dudleyz, but Booker takes control. Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic, but Bubba hotshots him and gets wood. Edge spears D-Von, but Booker slams him through the table to make Angle 1-on-3. Standard logic says that it comes down to Booker v. Angle now. Heel beatdown and Booker drives a knee into the back. Wazzup on Angle, tables are gotten. Booker suplex is reversed by Angle, and he comes back with suplexes and dumps the Dudleyz. Outside, D-Von charges and gets suplexed onto a table…which doesn’t break. Oh lord. So we repeat the spot, and it works this time. Back in, Angle takes an Axe kick, but comes back with the Angle Slam onto the table…which doesn’t break. Oy vey. So he whips Booker through it, and it breaks. Don’t get that booking. Angle & Bubba are left, and Bubba blocks a suplex and bumps the ref. So Nick Patrick comes out, and moves a table to prevent Angle winning. Angle snaps and attacks Patrick, but Austin makes his run-in, KICK WHAM STUNNER on Angle, and Bubba powerbombs him through the table. That booking is screwed up on multiple levels, not the least of which is that Booker v. Angle seems obvious for Summerslam and Angle v. Bubba Ray means nothing. Second, they could have made Angle a HUGE babyface by having him plow through 3 heels to win, but he lost. The show was going really good before that, too. **1/2

The Bottom Line: Well, the angle’s proceeding nicely now with a better show than usual, and WCW guys are even (gasp)…getting personalities! The second hour kinda sputtered with all the interviews, but they’re on the right course, barring some big tweaks of the angle. Not the least is that they need to make Booker into a major threat and get rid of the WCW loser stigma once and for all. Turning Austin is a first step, but if he doesn’t give those WCW guys a rub and cause people to stop thinking of them as a second-rate group, it’s useless. Fresh faces are the key, elevate elevate elevate.

Peace out…

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