wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarK RAW Rant – June 18 / 2001

June 18, 2001 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant for June 18, 2001

– Well, we’re six days away from King of the Ring, and there’s been a suprising lack of the Hard Sell for the PPV from the WWF, so you can probably expect some tonight. Assuming they’re not just gonna leave Benoit & Jericho to the wolves and then blame the buyrate on them. But that’d just be WACKY. And it’s not the Wacky Wrestling Federation, last I checked. Unless you count Saturn, that wacky guy. You’re welcome. I wonder if Mick Foley’s plea for more comedy included making fun of head injuries. It kind of shoots down the WWF’s pleas about the essential non-violence of their product when they have an entire character based on the concept of getting so many concussions that mental problems result.

– For those interested in hearing me shoot the bull about wrestling and the website and stuff, there’s an interview with me up at http://www.brassknuckles.net/interviews/wrestling/scottkeith.php, done by John Hawkins over ICQ a couple of nights ago. It turned out really well, although I don’t really say anything terribly controversial.

– Live from Tampa, FL. Well, as much as the Blue Jays are tanking right now, at least they’re not 55 games back or however far out of it the DevilRays are right now.

– Your hosts are JR & Paul E.

– Opening interview…Spike Dudley? The whole world is upside-down. WCW’s crack production team is already infiltrating the WWF in preparation for the Invasion, as a graphic showing the main event flashes on the screen, despite being different from the one JR is pimping. I won’t spoil it here, because I’m just that kind of guy. Spike calls out Austin, which probably can’t conceivably end in any good way for him. Austin bemusedly answers the challenge, but Spike gets all uppity with him, so Austin makes sure to stand beside him and reinforce the size difference in order to intimidate him. Spike’s request for a title match is DENIED, but Austin does like the kid’s moxie. Austin once again calls Molly a bimbo, setting Spike off and earning himself a slap from Molly. Austin is more amused than anything, offering Spike a handshake that the crowd immediately warns Spike about. No beating for Spike tonight, though, as the handshake is accepted without incident. Of course, Austin then goes KICK WHAM STUNNER on Molly, but he was at least a man of his word for a few seconds. This is a weirdly compelling and interesting angle that I can easily see them paying off at KOTR by having Spike cost Steve the belt.

– Hahahaha, just kidding. Don’t worry, Benoit or Jericho or possibly both are jobbing at the PPV. Having someone new on top would just be WACKY, and we’ve already established that there’s no “Wacky” in WWF. QED.

– Meanwhile, the Dudleyz are miffed at Spike for getting more title shots than them. What’s Buh Buh’s beef? He already got a shot at Kurt Angle last year on RAW and blew it.

– King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Kurt Angle v. Jeff Hardy. Angle gets a belly to belly off a criss-cross, and follows with a german suplex. Angle clips Jeff, but misses a charge and ends up on the floor, allowing Jeff to hit him with the Railrunner. Back in, it gets two. Angle hits a release german, but Jeff escapes the Angle Slam and boots him in the head. Legdrop and jawbreaker, and Jeff goes up. Angle simply rolls away to escape, and catches Jeff with a clothesline. He goes up himself, but misses the Anglesault. Swanton gets two as Angle gets the ropes. Jeff goes up again, but the old saying about going to the well once too often once again proves true, as Angle rudely yanks him down and Anglelocks him for the tapout and a trip to the semis. Making Angle pull double-duty at the PPV seems a bit gay, but the match was a good singles effort for Jeff Hardy. *1/2

– Meanwhile, Austin whines to Debra about needing a confidant and soulmate to share his burden of being the WWF champion. Debra: “I WAS the WWF Women’s champion!” Steve: “Hahaha…oh.” Must be one of those shooty-worky type things.

– Meanwhile, Regal makes the previously announced Benoit & Jericho v. Dudley Boyz title match into a six-man with Austin & Spike in there. Heel turn city for the Dudleyz, although being Austin’s hired goons isn’t the worst way in the world to get a rub. But that’s not even what Austin is here for…he needs to see Regal because of his need to unburden his soul…on Tajiri?

– Meanwhile, Tazz pimps Tough Enough (which still doesn’t have a Canadian TV deal), but gets interrupted by Bob Holly, and that shit is SO totally on.

– Review of the Black Scorpion 2K angle.

– Hardcore Holly v. Tazz. BUT WAIT! The Stalker interrupts to let us know he’s in Tampa, and shows us another video. The scintellating details this time see Undertaker borrowing his father-in-law’s bandsaw and getting caught on camera bogarting it. SCANDAL! Well, I guess if the American Badass gimmick flops badly enough, he can always go back to making his own coffins in the garage. My theory is that the Ultimate Warrior is still locked in one of them in there somewhere. Anyhoo, the Stalker promises to reveal himself IN THIS VERY RING. Okay, maybe not in those words, but you get the idea. They might have been better served to milk a few buys by doing it at the PPV, but I’m just glad to get this over with.

– Hardcore Holly v. Tazz. Okay, if there’s no more mysterious deviant psychopaths to interrupt, let’s try this again. Bob gets the DROPKICK OF DOOM and his nutshot on the ropes. Slam and he goes up for an Alabama Jam for two. Tazz comes back with a pair of clotheslines and a suplex, but Holly powerslams him for two. Tazz goes behind and hooks the Tazzmission for the tapout. Decent two-minute match. ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Austin vents his spleen to Tajiri, seeking advice. Tajiri gives him sage advice…in Japanese. Austin, however, obviously connecting on a deeper spritual level, seems to take some sort of plan out of it, and is most humbly grateful for the help. Funny, funny stuff.

– Meanwhile, Edge and Christian have this whole discussion going about who invented the spear and who’s gonna win the tournament, but Kurt Angle makes sure to put them both in their place by pointing out that he’s obviously going to win it himself. Speaking of Angle, the announcers have been making a big deal about him possibly being the first two-time King of the Ring, but that’s really kind of misleading, because in the history of the PPV, there’s only ever been one King from the previous year to even qualify for the PPV and thus have a chance to repeat as King. Consider it a trivia question, and to save myself a ton of e-mail, the answer is at the end of this rant.

– King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Rhyno v. Tajiri. They really need some non-British music for Tajiri to cash in on his face pops. Rhyno gets some chops to start, but Tajiri reverses a powerbomb into a rana and Rhyno bails. Tajiri follows with a somersault tope and they head back in, where Tajiri walks into a spinebuster. He springs off the ropes with an elbow, popping the crowd big. Into an Octopus, forcing Rhyno to the ropes, where Tajiri turns it into the Tarantula to a bigger pop. BIG pop for that. This guy could be huge if they don’t screw it up. Buzzsaw-like kick misses, and Rhyno powerbombs. He sets up for the GOAR GOAR GOAR, but Tajiri kicks him in the face to block. Well, that’s one way. Regal sends Tajiri to the top, however, and he gets goared coming back down and pinned. That’s about as good a two-minute match as you’re gonna get. **

– Meanwhile, Regal bitches out Tajiri. I was almost waiting for Austin to make the save there, but I guess they’re saving that for later.

– The Undertaker’s music hits (despite UT not being in the city tonight), and out comes…The Stalker, riding his bike. And he gets right to it, revealing himself as…Diamond Dallas Page. Huge pop for that, so I guess the overwhelming babyface appeal of WCW overcame the heel aspect of stalking a guy’s wife. That’s wrestling for ya. He goes into a long-winded speech, explaining that he did it in order to make an impact, because he saw a weakness in Undertaker, namely his wife. He goes into his usual egomaniacal promo and promises to use Undertaker as a stepping stone to the top of the business before security chases him into the crowd to another babyface pop. Well, my feelings are mixed. It was cool to see someone from WCW used in a meaningful fashion, and there’s way worse ideas than mixing a good worker like DDP into the main events. But interviews aren’t Page’s strong suit and this one didn’t really get the point across properly about how the stalking was secondary to the concept of playing mindgames with Undertaker, and let’s face it, DDP has to go over Undertaker strongly or else it renders both this angle and the WCW angle pointless. Undertaker laying down for anyone on a major show is a 50/50 proposition these days.

– King of the Ring Quarterfinal: Perry Saturn v. Edge. Saturn now has “You’re Welcome” on his tights. This angle is becoming like something Vince Russo would have thought up in WCW. Perry ain’t over, the gimmick ain’t over, and the joke ain’t funny. When the crowd chants “You’re Welcome”, pops for Saturn’s moves in the ring or gives him consistent heat during a match, then it’s a success. Slugfest and Saturn gets an elbow, but misses a charge and Edge gets the Edge-o-Matic and stomps away. Clothesline gets two. Another one gets two. Saturn crucifix gets two, but Edge slugs him down. He goes up, but gets booted and suplexed. Saturn gets a pair of clotheslines and a running slam into the turnbuckle ala Rick Steiner, and goes up. Bodypress is rolled through by Edge for two, but Saturn gets the Moss-Covered Three-Handled Family Gredenza for two, with Christian making the save. Edge uses the distraction to hit the Impaler DDT for the pin to advance.

– Meanwhile, Vince finally arrives in a tacky shirt. Or rather, wearing a tacky shirt, not arriving in it.

– European title match: Matt Hardy v. Albert. This Albert mega-push is like a Rikki Rocket drum solo during a Poison concert: You know it’s gonna happen, and there’s nothing you can do but go for nachos and let it be. JR starts delivering his patented Ross Report Blowjob of the Week to Albert before he even gets to the ring, as Albert is now apparently the guy who is not only a future WWF champion and a stud, but he’s also in the background of the Zapruder film catching Lee Harvey Oswald in the act and going after him. I hear he’s also going to fight Superman in the coming weeks and will probably step up his game a few notches again in order to go toe-to-toe with the Man of Steel while composing best-selling novels in his spare time and running for Governor of New York. He’d probably win, too, because he’s the future of this industry and all. Albert pounds on Matt in the corner, but Matt fights back and walks into a lariat. A hellacious one, I should add, one which could carry this industry for years to come all by itself. Splash misses, though, as JR can be heard to break into tears. Matt works the leg for a bit, but Albert blocks a figure-four and shoves Matt out. He beats on him outside and gets two back in the ring. Blind charge misses, but he still gets a press-slam attempt before his knee gives way and Matt gets two. Wow, psychology in a RAW match. Maybe Albert is the greatest worker of this millennium. HOW COULD I HAVE BEEN SO BLIND? I know I’m sure going deaf from all the heat that Albert is drawing with this character. Matt gets a swinging DDT for two, but Albert chokes him out for the DQ. Wouldn’t want Albert to job to Matt Hardy, that’d be WACKY, and I think we already went over that. X-Factor attacks and a big brawl erupts. I know I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to see Hardyz v. X-Factor for the third time in as many weeks. Good thing the Hardyz got that rub from HHH a few weeks ago so they can work big main events like this one. Match was the usual from Albert. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Austin and Vince have a man-to-man talk about feelings and hugging and stuff. Vince is pretty uncomfortable about it, and it ends up with Austin’s feelings being hurt and him telling off Vince and making him choose between him or Linda. Man, is that divorce storyline STILL going on?

– Meanwhile, Benoit & Jericho rib Spike a little bit.

– King of the Ring Quarterfinal: The Big Slow v. Christian. Kurt Angle is YOUR guest commentator. As expected, Slow lumbers around the ring, treating Christian like a jobber and no-selling everything, but he gets in Angle’s face and that distraction allows Edge & Christian to Conchairto him and Christian gets the pin to advance. DUD

– So YOUR King of the Ring field is basically Team RECK fighting each other, with Angle v. Christian and Edge v. Rhyno. All heels. That’s pretty wacky. I’m thinking either Angle v. Rhyno or Edge v. Christian are the only matchups that would make sense as finals. I think that no matter how it goes, the Edge-Rhyno winner takes it all.

– Steve Austin & The Dudley Boyz v. Spike Dudley & The Canadian Violence Connection. Trippy new computerized version of the Y2J countdown for Jericho. Buh Buh and Jericho start, and Buh Buh slugs away, only to get more of the same from Jericho. Buh Buh misses a charge and gets clotheslined, but hotshots Jericho and the Dudz flapjack him. Jericho comes back with an enzuigiri on D-Von, and Benoit comes in. Big knee and german suplex follow, and he breaks out some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. Spike comes off the top with his big stomp, and of course gets killed seconds later with a clothesline to once again assume his role as the Ultimate Ricky Morton. Austin pounds on him, but gets caught in the Canuck corner and nailed. He recovers and elbows Spike, but gets sunset-flipped for two. Austin keeps beating him down as the Dudleyz get wood. Austin doesn’t approve and tells them so, but that allows Spike a rollup on the champ for two. Buh Buh comes in and smacks the shit out of Spike, and backdrops him into the lights. That’s just sick. Wazzup for Spike, with a decidedly heel reaction to the move from the crowd. D-Von gets his spinning elbow and Buh Buh misses the senton, allowing a hot tag to Benoit. He nails Austin and cleans house, as Jericho comes in and ends up dropkicking D-Von through one of the tables at ringside. Spike Acid Drops Buh Buh, leaving Benoit and Austin alone. Three german suplexes, and before Benoit goes up he pulls the THROAT-CUT GESTURE~! Yeah, none of that wussy “wave it off” crap, it’s a MANLY finishing sign. The headbutt misses, however, and they slug it out. Austin goes low and nails Jericho off the apron. Spike lends a hand and tries another Acid Drop, but Austin tosses him through another table. Austin shoves the ref down a couple of times while beating on a prone Benoit, but Jericho sneaks back in, applies the Walls of Jericho while Benoit applies the crossface at the same time, and Austin finally taps to their finishers! About damn time. It’s really cool to see that the main events have improved light-years again, too. ***1/2

The Bottom Line: If Austin taps to the Crossface at King of the Ring to lose the title, I will be happy for the rest of my life, but I’m also a realist and reality is that one of the Canadians is jobbing. I’m sure whatever happens will be completely overshadowed by the re-emergence of WCW, though, so it’s somewhat of a moot point anyway.

Much better effort this week than last, at any rate, with some good stuff sprinkled all through the show instead of concentrated in the main event. Hopefully they can continue the momentum through to the PPV and produce a ****+ main event to boot. However, they’re still not pumping the WWF Machine towards hyping King of the Ring, which makes me think they’re jumping ahead one show to Invasion instead with the hype power.

King of the Ring is this Sunday, and there seems to be very little clue on the WWF’s part what’s gonna be on there. Announced matches:

– Austin v. Benoit v. Jericho for the WWF title
– Kurt Angle v. Shane McMahon where all of WCW should interfere
– Kurt Angle v. Christian
– Edge v. Rhyno
– Some sort of confrontation with DDP and Undertaker

Not exactly the sort of show to make the casual fans part with their $30. Maybe the biggest star in the industry right now, HHH’s quad muscle, will do a run-in in the main event, but then anything can happen in the WWF.

Speaking of which, the answer to your trivia question is of course King Ken Shamrock, who won the thing in 1998 and lost out to eventual winner Billy Gunn in the quarterfinals of the 1999 tournament.

Until next week, that’s the news, and I’m outta here…


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