wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 8 2002

July 9, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant – July 8, 2002

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– Live from Philly, home of cheesesteak.

– Your hosts are JR & King.

– Vince’s smiling face greets us to start. Undertaker gets the night off tonight (geez, after all that buildup in the website preview about what his next move would be?) and Vengeance will be a three-way between Undertaker, Rock and Angle. Hey, why not just put the title on Angle and have a ****1/2 match with Rock instead?

– Opening interview: Booker T won’t be whining like X-Pac, and he graces us with a dose of his daddy’s advice on life, much of which indicates that his daddy was drunk off his ass most of the time and/or had serious mental problems. The gist of this conversation is that he wants some action, tonight. So Eddy answers, as he wants to take out his frustrations on the first jerk to open his mouth. Man, from feuding with Steve Austin all the way down to playing the nWo’s errand boy.

– Eddy Guerrero v. Booker T. Booker attacks and gets a back kick, and chops away. Axe kick is blocked by a dropkick to the knee, and Eddy stomps away. Elbow and rollup get two. They slug it out in the corner, but Eddy clips him and works the leg. He walks into a sidekick, but Booker is still hurt. Eddy suplex gets two. Backdrop suplex and necksnap get two. Booker gets a sunset flip out of the corner for the pin, which seems to surprise everyone involved in the match, at 3:09. Eddy & Benoit do the heel beatdown, but the Dudley Boyz make the save. The nWo is of course nowhere to be seen. Ѕ* I’m given a brief shining hope that this means that we’ll get Book-Dust v. The Vanilla Midgets at the PPV instead of Booker/Goldust v. Show/X-Pac again, but that would later be squashed.

– Meanwhile, Goldust and Booker do the dance of joy. Goldust has a plan to deal with the nWo. Booker is so wired that he attacks a vendor who happens to look like X-Pac. Yeah, that’s a great way to get him over – make him look like an idiot.

– Meanwhile, Jackie (almost visibly reading cue-cards) suspects Trish of jealousy. And what’s up with that cowboy hat? Ho, what a bon mot! I guess Jackie’s face turn is only for a week, which leaves me to wonder what the point of having her get into a brawl with Molly was in the first place. And just when you think the dialogue couldn’t get any more stilted and wooden, Chris Harvard adds his voice to things, also riffing on the cowboy hat with references so dated that he might as well be on “Evening at the Improv”. I mean, Yosemite Sam? Besides, it’s a friggin’ COWBOY HAT. Who gives a crap? Anyway, the end result of this thrilling verbal tete-a-tete is a mixed tag match for later tonight, continuing the traditional “blueblood snob v. good old southern boy” feud between Harvard & Bradshaw that harkens back to such epics as Henry Godwinn v. Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes. Not necessarily in that order, of course.

– Chris Benoit v. Bubba Dudley. Seriously, don’t they have ANYTHING more constructive to do with Benoit than this? Was a feud with Bubba Ray Dudley so vitally important that they needed to rip him away from Ric Flair? Oh, but it gets better – backstage, the Dudleyz are visited by Goldust, dressed up as Ben Franklin, as he implores them to team up against the nWo. The Dudleyz refuse, which is important a bit later. Finally, after poor Benoit & Guerrero are left standing in the ring watching this nonsense on the screens along with the fans, we get on with things. Benoit pounds Bubba to start and gets a snap suplex. Chops in the corner, but Bubba returns fire. Backdrop suplex sets up the senton, but Benoit blocks, and then dodges when Bubba tries it again. Benoit works the neck and gets a german suplex. Clothesline gets two. They exchange chops, and Bubba gets his own suplex. Bubba comes back with a sideslam for two. Bubbabomb gets two, and even then it’s only because Eddy throws Spike at the referee to stop the count. Crossface finishes at 3:56. Whew, good thing Benoit is around to help get Bubba Ray Dudley over. It’s funny – they desperately need main eventers, but none of the midcarders are ever allowed to be elevated there with a strong win because you never know when ol’ Bubba Tuff is gonna become the breakout star of the next century and you have to protect him. Match was a style clash. Ѕ*

– Earlier tonight, Ric Flair gives kudos to Jeff Hardy, but Steve Richards interrupts and gives Flair some lip, leading to a match later tonight that can’t possibly be anything but a bad idea on all sides.

– Trish Stratus & Bradshaw v. Jackie & Chris Harvard. Chris ducks away from Bradshaw, so Jackie and Trish start. They slug it out, and then try some kind of disastrous attempt at a drop toehold spot that goes horribly wrong and results in them tripping over each other and the crowd booing heartily. Hoo boy. Bradshaw kills Harvard with a boot and slam, and Trish and Jackie come in for Round Two. This time, they head up and Jackie gets knocked off, allowing Trish to follow her down with what in theory should have been a bulldog but in actuality made no contact, and even worse ended up being shot from the FRONT so as to completely expose the lack of contact, but by this point it’s too late to save the match anyway and it gets the pin at 3:11. “Mercifully, it’s over”, sez JR. I’d like to see him spin THAT one in the Ross Report. Easy Worst Match of the Year candidate. If Jackie is the WINNER of Tough Enough, I’d hate to see the losers. -***

– The nWo come out to liven things up by TALKING. Shawn bores the shit out of everyone by recounting the detailed history of the Clique as though anyone actually gives a shit anymore about stuff that happened backstage 6 years ago, and in fact some astute fan in the front row screams “GET TO THE POINT!” 5 minutes into the interview. Obviously he knows how I feel watching these shows sometimes. It’s like, okay Shawn, you and the other guys are friends, wink wink nudge nudge. Wrestling is fake, I understand that, GET TO THE POINT. Good call, anonymous fan, you have potential. At any rate, Shawn thinks HHH has become a pussy (“You come out and arch your back…” Ooooh, such biting social commentary, he should write for the New Yorker) and gives HHH an ultimatum – join at the PPV or be raped by Bradshaw in the locker room. Okay, I made up that second choice, but it would be a lot more interesting than what we’ve been hearing so far. Nash offers doom and gloom for Booker later tonight, promising to use him as a stepping stone to send a signal to HHH. Man, isn’t it great to have these nWo guys around, making everyone look so good and being totally selfless? X-Pac and Big Show stand around in the background looking stupid. X-Pac is such a fucking idiot if he doesn’t realize that Nash & Michaels are completely playing him for a fool by having him do all the work while they come out looking like superstars while doing nothing. I mean, I’m no fan of the guy, but he’s the one carrying the whole group while these two preening morons hog all the spotlight for themselves and their “insider” comments. Anyway, the actual POINT of this incredibly boring interview is that tonight will feature a 10-man tag, with Kevin Nash coming out of injury-induced retirement to team with the Vanilla Midgets and face The Dudleyz, Booker T, Goldust and a partner of their choosing. Okay, first of all, wasn’t the point of the split so that we didn’t have to see guys working twice in the same show? I mean, it’s supposed to be opening up all these slots for the new talent, not necessitating building entire shows around the same 5 guys. Second, they made a pretty major point of Bubba & Spike refusing to be bullied into teaming with Booker & Goldust against the nWo, and Nash basically just comes out and says “You guys are teaming up because I say so.”, and that’s that. The message here? “All these guys are midcarders, and Shawn and I are the REAL stars.” Do you believe in karma, Kev? Because I do. Ask Shawn about it.

– Ric Flair v. Steve Richards. Flair hammers away in the corner with chops. Flair tosses him and chops away on the outside. Back in, Richards gets a backdrop, but misses a dropkick, and I’m just gonna skip to the end because the whole thing is a total Flair squash and I can’t be bothered anymore. Figure-four finishes at 3:39. ј* Flair looked totally disinterested, and can you blame him? I mean, either put Flair in a meaningful role, or don’t. Sticking him in midcard hell and squashing guys like Richards, who might actually be useful in the future, is just wasting everyone’s time.

– Heyman and Lesnar are out for THEIR gab session. Just what this show needs, more interviews. Speaking of things from 6 years ago that no one gives a shit about anymore, Heyman goes into a history lesson about ECW and how he made everyone and allowed them to come to the big dance. Blah blah blah and Tommy Dreamer interrupts, having apparently now dropped his “Eater of Weird Things” gimmick, which puts it on par with Dennis DeYoung’s version of “Hunchback of Notre Dame” in terms of cultural staying power. He wants to be the Innovator of Offense again, and his first innovation: Using a kendo stick on Brock Lesnar! I think I see the first flaw in his logic already. Tommy goes after Heyman and falls victim to the Browser Refresh on the floor. Man, they can’t even deviate from that booking template in impromptu brawls! RVD appears, as if from nowhere, giving Paul a Van Terminator. Let’s see: RVD: Over. Tommy Dreamer: Over in Philly. Brock Lesnar: Not over. Recipiant of Summerslam title shot: You do the math.

– European title match: William Regal v. Jeff Hardy. You have to wonder – is that greasepainted tattoos on Jeff’s arms, or just track-marks from the needles? Jeff gets a crossbody for two, and a blown corkscrew for two. It’s called MAKING CONTACT, someone might wanna look into it. Legdrop, but Regal tosses him. Back in, Jeff gets a sunset flip for two. Regal neckbreaker gets two. Running kneelift gets two. Regal with the neckvice, but Jeff fights out. Regal elbows him down, again for two. Jeff bodypress gets two. Regal tosses him, but Jeff dropkicks him into the corner and finishes with the swanton at 4:23 to win the title and thus make it even more meaningless. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Regal collapses in tears in a weird segment.

– Meanwhile, the Dudleyz recruit their tag partner – RVD. Once again, Roger Ebert’s Law of Conservation of Characters necessitates that since no one else in the cast is left to fill the role, it must thus be RVD. Kinda sucks the suspense out of things.

– Chris Benoit, Eddy Guerrero, X-Pac, Big Show & Kevin Nash v. Rob Van Dam, Booker T, Goldust, Bubba Dudley & Spike Dudley. RVD starts with X-Pac and gets a monkey flip. Heel kick and standing moonsault get two. Goldust comes in with an atomic drop and powerslam. Bubba pounds him and drops the elbows for two. Spike comes in but gets suplexed, and Benoit does some damage. Front suplex and Eddy slingshots in and pounds away. Rob comes back in and monkeyflips Eddy, but Benoit suplees him and Show headbutts away. Suplex and X-Pac drops a few knees to set up the kick combo in the corner. This match is going nowhere. Rob superkicks him and goes up, but gets crotched by Michaels. Bubba comes back in, but Shawn trips him up. Rob valiantly chases HBK back to the entrance, but gets jumped by Brock Lesnar and beaten up. Back in the ring, Benoit whips Bubba around the Vanilla Midgets work him over. Nice to see Nash making his big comeback like this. Hot tag Booker, and he sidekicks X-Pac, but Nash cheapshots him and earns his $700,000 a year with a big boot before tripping over Booker and tearing his quad ala HHH. Nash, karma, karma, Nash. Big brawl as everyone runs around in a tizzy and Show chokeslams Booker for the pin at 9:26. This was no Dallas 10-man. ** I’d say “Oh woe is Nash”, but here’s a guy who spent a year on the sidelines collecting his Time-Warner money and lobbying for Scott Hall to come into the WWF, watched as Hall destroyed himself and got canned, took another three months off to rehab an arm injury despite not actually doing anything in the ring to warrant an arm injury, came back as a mouthpiece and had the finish of a couple of matches changed to protect his friend X-Pac, and finally made his triumphant return, only to trip and rip his leg apart. I guess this is the metaphoric “stake through the heart” that’ll get rid of you, eh Kev? On the bright side, you always have your hair.

The Bottom Line:

This show is a total mess in every possible way, and I bet the latest spin from those high-up will be that things were just about to turn around with Kevin Nash in the main event before that injury messed up their long-term plans.

Everyone just looks lethargic and completely apathetic and can you blame them? The glass ceiling has become so thick that I’m surprised Jeff Hardy doesn’t bang his head against it every time he goes to the top rope. Booker’s their big star for the future but he never wins, RVD’s their big star for the future but he never does anything meaningful, Brock Lesnar’s their big star for the future but you can hear crickets fart every time he appears – it goes on and on.

I think we can declare the Brian Gerwertz era safely a failure.


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