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The SmarK RAW Rant – June 24 2002

June 25, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant – June 24 2002

– This was one of those shows where I just didn’t have the motivation to actually sit down and relive it again in the form of a rant without a LOT of caffeine and doing everything else on my “to do” list first. So now, finally, here we are.

– According to the Torch, Jericho’s temper tantrum wasn’t a work. That’s just … sad.

– Live from Cleveland, OH

– Your hosts are JR & King.

– And we open right away with one of those segments where everyone is in the ring! The whole roster! Well, except for Brock Lesnar. And the champion, Undertaker. Oh, and the entire nWo. And Ric Flair. But other than that, everyone’s there! Vince comes out for the big speech, and apparently the new corporate buzzword to replace “Brand Extension” on the lips of 12-year old future economists everywhere is “Ruthless Aggression.” That’s how he beat WCW, dammit! You have to wonder where it was when he rolled over for them in the first place. He wants to know who has the ruthless agression tonight! And since he’s a particularly intimidating 75-year old grandpa, all the young and hungry workers surrounding the ring bow their heads in shame like a bunch school children. Seriously, how can ANYONE think this bunch of losers is cool in the least? Vince is a dead character at this point – no one thinks he’s cool, or scary, or intimidating, and yet he makes his entire roster look like a bunch of pussies who cower in fear before his trembling man-boobs. Who does this help? Vince makes some midcard filler – Bubba v. Eddy, Jeff v. Undertaker – before the nWo saunters out late as usual to break up all the excitement. Shawn offers their services. Booker takes exception to the rhetoric, and Goldust backs him up, adding that they’re “practically married!” Well, Book won’t go THAT far. Vince gives Nash a veiled threat that only like 0.5% of the audience even cares about, and the end result of all that is X-Pac & Big Show v. Booker T & Goldust, which Vince makes a big production out of, even though it’s been building for weeks anyway, and Show & X-Pac are the only two guys in the group physically capable of wrestling anyway. And was the world really waiting for Kevin Nash v. Vince McMahon? That’d be the first match where messing up the hair was an instant DQ.

– Bradshaw & Spike Dudley v. William Regal & Chris Harvard. To quell the groundswell of people on CRZ’s board who stay awake at nights worrying about this stuff, “Harvard” has always seemed to be an acceptable alternate name for him even from the WWE, and I can type “Harvard” much faster and easier than “Nowinski”, thus he’s “Chris Harvard”. Bradshaw pounds on Mr. Harvard to start and gets a DDT for two. Blockuster and Spike comes in and gets dumped immediately. This allows the heels to work him over. Chris gets a shoulderbreaker for two. Hot tag Bradshaw, who gets the big boot on Regal. Regal dumps Spike, and Chris rolls up Bradshaw clean at 2:45. JR yells about cheating, but then he’s going senile by the day anyway. The camera focuses on Chris and Bradshaw giving each other long, loving gazes that I guess are supposed to represent hatred. Maybe Bradshaw is going to give him a “hazing ritual” after the match, who knows. Match was a total mess. Ѕ*

– Meanwhile, Vince thinks both Raven & Dreamer suck and wants to get rid of them, so we’re gonna have a match next where the loser leaves RAW. I know I’M motivated to watch now! Oh, and the Tough Enough chick flashes him in a horribly acted segment that’s supposed to hype the Divas special. More on that later. Undertaker interrupts, and as usual he’s upset. Vince placates him by pointing out that Jeff Hardy will be a total squash anyway. Man, is this guy the master of keeping people tuned in or what?

– Bubba Dudley v. Eddy Guerrero. They slug it out and Bubba quickly gets the Flip Flop and Fly, and goes for the table. Eddy reverses a Bubba Bomb for the pin at 0:59. Did I blink and miss an entire portion of the match or something? DUD Eddy goes through the table anyway, because god knows we wouldn’t want future superstar Bubba Ray Dudley losing his heat or anything. Then, Benoit attacks him out of nowhere. Whole segment was like 3 minutes long and didn’t do squat for anyone. Benoit’s beyond the point where farting around in the midcard will do him any good – if they’re not gonna shoot him to the top while they have the chance, he’s better off getting out while he can and taking his chances headlining a startup.

– Meanwhile, Croco-Dust Hunter stalks the vicious nWo. “Be careful – they tend to suck!” Big Show is sleeping, but X-Pac’s toilet flush signals his entrance. I feel like I’m watching All In The Family. Goldust takes a powder, X-Pac chases, and runs into a garbage can lid courtesy of Booker. That’s actually a spot from the very first episode of Law & Order.

– Raven v. Tommy Dreamer. Raven pounds away and gets a clothesline for two. Knee off the top gets two. Charge hits boot, but Dreamer blocks a bulldog and comes back. The crowd, with half the arena already blocked off and blacked out, gets even deader as this match goes on. It’s also funny to hear JR talking about how the arena is “sold right out” when you can clearly see the entire upper deck covered in a tarp. Powerslam gets two. Tommy gets a neckbreaker for two. He posts himself, but DDTs Raven for two. Raven gets an inverted DDT for two. Dreamer finishes with the DVD at 2:22. Ross, in rare form, notes that “he won’t just be switching to Smackdown, either!”, which is funny because I assume he saw the match taped before RAW where Raven clearly appeared on Heat. I mean, this stuff is just so blatantly easy to call them on that they should be ashamed. ј*

– Meanwhile, Matt beats on Raven on his way out to set up the match on Heat.

– And now, the coronation of Brock Lesnar. The guy gets zero pop, and I’m telling ya – it’s Lex Express all over again if they’re not careful. Mini-rant – it’s really funny to hear them protesting how they’re really trying so hard to push guys like Jericho and Angle but circumstances are preventing them from getting over blah blah blah, when it’s obvious that they’re gonna put every cent possible into pushing Brock as the new superman of the promotion and are doing exactly everything that we fans have been saying all along that they could have been doing with guys like Jericho and Angle – giving him big wins over established guys, giving him the “McMahon Rub”, making his segments a big deal. Anyway, the coronation speech ends up being Heyman taking credit for everything and putting himself over until RVD interrupts and knocks Brock out of the ring.

– Meanwhile, Heyman whines to Vince about RVD, and wants Brock to have a shot at the I-C title tonight.

– Undertaker v. Jeff Hardy. Taker posts him right away and hammers away in the corner. Sideslam gets two. Big boot, but a legdrop misses. Jeff gets a pescado, but the Railrunner is casually caught and turned into a chokeslam on the floor that kills him dead. Back in, Last Ride finishes at 2:40. Wow, that sure rocked my world. That Undertaker, what a company man. DUD Jeff wants a ladder match next week for the title. What’s the point of that? Taker’s already turned him into his personal bitch like 18 times, so either you’re gonna have someone portrayed as a jobber winning the biggest title in the company on a fluke and devaluing it further, or you’re gonna have Taker going over Hardy yet again, which proves nothing.

– Trish & Linda v. Molly & Jackie. Okay, back to the Divas Undressed special for a moment: How are we as fans supposed to take matches like this as anything but filler when the WWE is constantly hyping T&A-fests like the “Undressed” thing as a chance to see the women half-naked? What good does it do the company to do these specials? Does Torrie winning a fixed beauty contest draw money? Does it make people care about Maven more? Are we supposed to divide the women into “wrestlers” and “divas” and accept that some can wrestle and some are just there for eye-candy? How can we do that when we are then forced to watch bra-and-panties matches between a “serious” wrestler like Trish and a “Diva” like Stacy? I mean, here I am trying my hardest to give girls like Trish Stratus, who is by far one of the most improved wrestlers in North America male or female, every chance to show me that they can be a good worker on their own, and yet the very company who should be encouraging that is constantly undermining it by turning the entire women’s division into a freakshow. I mean, didn’t the total ratings disaster that was “Sex On the Beach” teach them that people just aren’t interested in the cheesecake aspect right now? And then you get the contradictory-messages-within-contradictory-messages, as we are supposed to drool over the anorexic divas like Terri and Stacy and yet respect Trish for being an athlete, while someone like Molly, who actually LOOKS like a normal female athlete looks, is supposed to be both respected as a female wrestler AND ridiculed for not fitting within the sick definition of what a “real woman” is supposed to look like as dictated by the WWE braintrust, who by the way are still 20 years in the past as to what a “real man” is supposed to look like if Brock Lesnar and his freakish physique is any indication. I mean, this is the kind of stuff that I’m forced to think about every time I watch a women’s match in this promotion and try to give it half a chance, and I shudder to think how much of a joke this division must be to the common fan. And yet they still insist on pushing both the cheesecake and athletic portions of it at the same time as though it’s 1962 and both aspects can happily co-exist because women don’t watch wrestling anyway. I mean, FUCK, why would you so blatantly alienate 50% of the potential audience for your product by acting like sexist pigs when you could give the division a little respect and potentially get young girls watching? I mean, look at Lita – not a good or particularly passable worker or anything, but for the period in 2000 where she was pushed as a strong and independent role model for young girls, you had TONS of 10-15 year old girls who would bring these “Lita” signs and cheer for her while chasing Stephanie. But that sort of mentality threatens the good old boys, so any female who can get over on her own merits is then forced to participate in humiliating exhibitions designing to instead draw the far-more picky 14-year old horny male contingent. Basically, I guess I’m saying, either make an effort to giving the fans something to CARE about in the women’s divison (and by proxy get rid of the useless T&A like Terri, Torrie, Stacy, Dawn Marie and their ilk) or stop running women’s matches altogether, because at this point they’re not drawing and you’re just wasting everyone’s time. Rant over. Big brawl to start, and Trish dropkicks Molly. The faces work Jackie over in the corner for a while, but a cheapshot turns the tide. Molly works on Linda’s back and the heels cheat, as they are wont to do. Molly chops her down, but Linda gets a sunset flip for two. Molly suplexes her and Jackie goes up, but gets crotched. Trish gets the headscissors from the top for two. Molly then dropkicks her, and they slug it out. Match breaks down a bit as the TE girls seem to lose their place, and Molly misses the handspring and falls victim to the bulldog at 4:43. And while I’m at it, weren’t both Jackie and Linda on Smackdown last I checked? I mean, I guess Vince vaguely promised Jackie a spot on RAW last week, but was there some explanation as to why Linda could just switch teams and I missed it? Anyway, this was another example of Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling for the women. **

– Meanwhile, Heyman accuses RVD of being an ingrate. If you’re gonna book for the smarks, you might as well have RVD accuse Heyman of bouncing his last paycheque. Brock silences Paul and unleashes Vince’s “Ruthless Aggression” catchphrase.

– Meanwhile, Shawn & Kevin motivate the others by basically promising to kick them out of the nWo if they lose. Yeah, a born-again cripple and a greying ex-Vinnie Vegas, I’d be scared, too. Why are they paying these two guys, again?

– Big Show & X-Pac v. Booker T & Goldust. Booker starts with Show and gets overpowered. He goes with chops, but gets sideslammed. X-Pac comes in and gets creamed with a forearm and back kick. Kneedrop and Goldust comes in with his own take on the Broncobuster. Atomic drop and lariat set up the Buttbutt, but Show clotheslines him and Goldust is YOUR Croc Hunter In Peril. Crikey! Goldust bumps around for show in fine Dustin Rhodes form, and X-Pac gets the Lightning Legdrop for two. X-Pac hits the chinlock, but Goldust backslides for two. X-Pac spinkicks him for two. Show suplexes him and gets a Big Fat Legdrop, but stalls rather than covering. Final Cut gets one. X-Pac tries his own Broncobuster, but misses. Hot tag Booker, and he superkicks Show, but gets clocked. However, like Black Lazarus, he REVIVES, sucka, and sidekicks Show. Important to note that the simple FIP formula for tag matches has partly revived the completely comatose crowd and rallied them behind Booker. Axe kick and Spinaroonie, and he and Goldust double-suplex Big Show and get rid of X-Pac. Booker disappears, however, and when Goldust sets up Shattered Nuts, he walks into a chokeslam and gets pinned at 9:48. I mean, politically speaking, I think we all knew that would be the finish, but the crowd just DEFLATES after that. I mean, you can almost hear the groan for that finish as they suddenly die off and never come back to life. Good little match, though. **1/2 The longer they delay letting the crowd explode for Booker when he finally gets a big win over someone, the less it’s gonna mean.

– IC title match: RVD v. Brock Lesnar. Again, nothing from the crowd for Brock. Brock spears him in the corner and pounds away. Brock chokes away. Rob dropkicks him and gets a rana and leg lariat to send Lesnar out. Brock catches him on the dive, however, and posts him. Back in, Brock counters a spinkick with a slam for two. Overhead belly to belly, but a charge misses. He no-sells that and gets another suplex, just for the hell of it. Backbreaker, but Rob fights back, and gets clotheslined. He hit the bearhug. Another thing I don’t get with Brock: They’ve got this guy with a legitimate mat-wrestling background and tons of power, and yet they’re booking him as an 80s monster doing standard stand-up fighting. If they booked him as a ground-and-pound submission guy who took his opponents down, held them with his strength, and then stretched them until they cried uncle, they could not only hide his weaknesses as a pro wrestler better, but probably build to a decent payoff feud with Kurt Angle over who is the master of the mat. He’s a wrestler, let him wrestle. Brock rams him into the corner a few times, but Rob goes back to the leg again and legdrops him. Rolling Thunder gets one. Standing moonsault gets two. Rob goes up with a missile dropkick, but when he goes for the frog splash Heyman distracts him and he gets pulled down. Back up, moonsault gets two. Heyman then runs in for the weak DQ at 9:50. That’s the old WWF “We want to book a big match for both guys but don’t want either to job, so we make both look stupid” finish. Then we get double-and-triple reverse on the heat-return, as RVD first beats up Heyman, and then gets put through a table by Brock, just in case someone was sitting at ringside with a scorecard counting who got the most heat back from who. What a mess this is turning into. As a match, the storyline was pretty interesting before it got suddenly derailed by the finish. **1/4

The Bottom Line:

This was one of those weird, bad shows where I think the intention was to build for the future, but the present is so chaotically booked and motivated by petty politics that it can’t possibly go anywhere constructive. The first hour was one of the worst I’ve ever seen from RAW, for instance. They not only need consistently good TV from week to week, but consistency within the show, in order to start rebuilding the audience.

This show, by the way, ended up doing a 3.7, so look for the direction to change next week anyway.


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