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The SmarK RAW Rant – March 18 / 2002

March 19, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK RAW Rant – March 18 / 2002

– Okay, first things first: We’re currently having problems with the main server for TheSmarks.com, which is why the site is limited to the WMX8 rant at the moment in terms of content. The dedicated server we get from Buildpage isn’t actually dedicated in the strictest sense of the word, because we share the machine with a small Jewish site…which unfortunately gets bombed by hackers quite often and thus affects OUR site, too. In this case, 3 different viruses (including the return of Nimda) are running rampant on the machine and crippling our website. We have our good ol’ standby server run by Mike The Genius, but unfortunately being a big bad website with 5 million pageviews a month means that you need a SERIOUS server to handle all the traffic without causing the network card to scream for mercy, and we just can’t rely on the temp server for long periods of time, especially in the post-WM rush. If you’re a tech type who can give us a dedicated server in exchange for advertising space, we’d be willing to talk. We need some pretty heavy-duty hardware and bandwidth, though.

– Steve Austin is reportedly unhappy with the creative team (but that Austin, what does he know about wrestling anyway?) and sat out not only RAW, but Smackdown tonight as well. From the way things have progressed, I’m starting to get a weird 97 Bret Hart vibe from this, what with Austin being given an unwanted heel turn and then being pushed below someone he considers an inferior primadonna. This could get much uglier before it gets better. Maybe Austin can go to Japan to cool off and we can finally get the Mutoh v. Austin match that we’ve all been waiting for.

– Live from Montreal, Que. There’s that Bret Hart thing again.

– Your hosts are JR & King.

– Opening interview: Hulk Hogan. JR thinks the ovation isn’t about nostalgia. I think the ovation is because everyone realized that Hogan may have just done the most brilliant political end-run around the entire babyface hierarchy that I’ve ever seen. HHH is now officially out of his league – Hogan is the true genius of professional wrestling and I stand in awe of the way he leapfrogged everyone and made them all think that he was doing them a favor by doing so. And he LOST THE MATCH. Seriously, this makes HHH gaining power by giving Stephanie the high hard one look like Larry Zbyszko marrying Verne Gagne’s daughter for the AWA World title by comparison. Hogan even dumped the dead weight of Hall & Nash once it was apparent that he was the only one worth anything. You just have to tip your hat to anyone self-absorbed enough to not only attempt to sabotage the entire upper-card for the purpose of getting himself pushed, but succeed. The reaction he gets here is really quite scary, louder than anything I’ve heard in months. Hogan’s all humbled by the crowd’s reaction to him. Rock’s name gets booed. Well, we already know that Quebec is backwards and brain-dead. Rock comes out to rebut and he’s looking all cool and heelish. He even delivers the “Finally…” line with a slightly disgusted sneer. The crowd suddenly remembers that Rock is awesome and tries to get back on Team Great One again, but no matter: Rock ain’t mad at them, anyway. You know why? Because he’s the ROCK. He’d be honored to fight Hogan again. I’m touched. Rock DOES have a problem with Hogan’s continued use of the nWo symbol on his shirt, so Hogan obliges him and rips it off. The Outsiders come out, and Nash isn’t impressed. I almost feel sorry for Hall & Nash now given how Hogan has now done the political equivalent of the big boot and legdrop on them. Anyway, Nash thinks Hulk failed the nWo and thus their master plan to “poison” the WWF failed. Well, there goes that storyline. Rock mocks him and we have a main event challenge, one that I thought they’d save for the PPV. Rock does his Razor impression and I’m literally falling off the couch laughing, and the fans are thus back on his side. See, no panic heel turn needed. This was way long for the message delivered, but while the nWo may not be able to wrestle, they CAN talk with the best, and this was a terrific 25-minute interview. Of course, it’s not the World Talk Federation. Yet.

– Intercontinental title: Rob Van Dam v. Christian. Christian attacks to start, but Rob gets a dropkick and charges into a foot. Christian drops him on the top and sends him to the floor. Back in, Christian stomps away but Rob gets a leg lariat and monkey flip. Christian goes for the DDT, but takes Rolling Thunder for two. Christian bails and grabs the belt, and takes a walk, but DDP throws him back in for the frog splash at 2:44. *1/2 We really don’t need the DDP storyline to continue.

– A bummed-out Jericho arrives and beats up a Montreal-ite security guard. I thought they wanted him to be a heel? Mugging Quebecers is a guaranteed face turn in Canada. In fact, for entertainment here in Alberta, we kidnap French-speaking tourists and kick the crap out of them on Whyte Avenue. Jericho leaves the show, having earned his money tonight.

– Trish Stratus v. Lita. They slug it out to start, and Trish gets two. Trish grabs a headlock, but Lita fights out and nearly kills her with a headscissors. Lita tries her bulldog, but it’s blocked and Lita gets the moonsault for the pin at 1:31. DUD Jazz & Ivory attack, so I guess Jazz has herself a bitch.

– Meanwhile, Linda has a major announcement: The company is splitting (or in Linda-speak, “brand extending”) into Flair’s RAW and Vince’s Smackdown. This of course makes no sense because Vince didn’t do anything to warrant action against him at Wrestlemania, and in fact wasn’t even there. Next week, the draft to determine who goes where. Well, that seemed pretty out-of-nowhere, and if Linda McMahon can’t liven up an announcement with her electric delivery, who can?

– And now it’s Vince time. Instant “You Screwed Bret” chant erupts. Get over it. He’s upset that he’ll no longer be on RAW, the show that he created, and offers a simple goodbye. Of course, Vince McMahon is incapable by reason of genetic defect of such an act, and thus it takes 5 minutes. Vince runs down Flair while the crowd sings the Goodbye song. Flair comes out to offer his side of things, so Vince rubs the loss in his face. Flair points out that Vince used RAW to shove himself and Stephanie down our throats for years. Touche. Vince offers a coin toss for the #1 pick, and I’m surprised they didn’t reveal later it was rigged like the Luger-Bret coin toss in 1994. Vince sucker punches him for good measure, but Flair kicks his ass. They could have skipped Linda’s announcement and used this to hammer home the point just fine.

– Booker T & Kurt Angle v. Edge & Kane. Yes, Angle still has the Mirror Universe Tights. Kane clobbers Booker to start, and gets a sideslam. He goes up with the clothesline for two, but Booker superkicks him. The heels double-team with a suplex, but Kane no-sells and tags Edge. He cleans house and goes up, fighting off Angle’s pop-up suplex, and gets a missile dropkick for two. Angle gets the anklelock, but gets chokeslammed for two. Booker sidekicks Angle by mistake, and Edge spears Angle for two. Rollup gets two. Impaler finishes at 3:49. This is the kind of match that makes me sad because they could ditch Excess and give stuff like this 20 minutes every week, easy, and it would rule. I guess it’s a potential Edge/Angle feud. **

– Hardcore title match: Maven v. Al Snow. Snow attacks and Maven eats stairs, but gets his dropkick on the floor. Man, now he’s blown his whole moveset. Snow keeps pounding him, but gets lidded. Snow fires back, but Maven won’t stay down. However, Spike Dudley and newcomer Brock Lesnar invade the ring, and dang, Jethro, is that guy big. And he’s hot Paul Heyman with him as a manager. Lesnar just obliterates everything in sight. He’s certainly big and scary. Dang.

– Earlier tonight: Hogan gets a big pop. Do we really need interview segments recapped?

– Meanwhile, Matt & Lita make out in the back, which disgusts the passing William Regal. Matt gets an eloquent verbal quip in (well, for a southern hick) and Lita goes “Tag!” to accentuate the point. Tag? What the fuck is that supposed to mean? Regal points out that they could end up on different shows.

– WWF tag title match: Billy & Chuck v. The Dudley Boyz. Big brawl to start and D-Von & Chuck clothesline each other. Bubba sideslams Billy and dumps Chuck. Whazzup for Billy gets two. Billy shrugs off Stacy’s advances, so she hits him with the belt for the DQ at 1:24. DUD This of course upsets the Dudleyz, who issue her a little Dudleyville justice and put her through a table. No one is really sure if that represents a face turn for the Dudleyz or Stacy, because JR was aghast at their actions.

– HHH and his belts limp out for an interview. He’s proved his point to the world, blah blah blah. The term “shut up and wrestle” has never been more true than with HHH. He’s happy tonight, so we watch him Pedigreeing Stephanie. So of course she has to come out, sporting a neckbrace. Jericho wants his rematch next week, and I guess he had more important things to do or something because he’s not there. HHH thinks it should be a handicap match with himself against Jericho & Stephanie. And if she loses, she leaves the WWF. Yeah, just like in November the last time her team lost a match with that stipulation. She refuses, but HHH refuses to grant a rematch unless she agrees. Since when does the champion make his own matches? I didn’t hear Jericho “agreeing” to grant matches to people when he was champion. And why is this about Stephanie and not Jericho? There’s the whole problem in a nutshell. That and HHH’s incredibly boring babyface interviews. At least when he’s a heel he breaks up the monotony by hitting someone with a sledgehammer now and then.

– The Outsiders v. Hulk Hogan & The Rock. Hogan is stirring up that Voodoo Chili again. Hogan cleans house to start, and they beat on Scott Hall. Rock gets a spinebuster, but Nash trips him up. Nash works him in the corner with the usual. Hall gets the Blockbuster for two. The beating continues in boring fashion. Rock gets Rock Bottom on Nash, hot tag Hulk. Hogan drops the leg on Hall, for two, but the Outsiders bail and stand there gabbing for the countout at 6:03. Laaaaaaaaame. ј*

The Bottom Line: A much more fun and entertaining show than in the weeks building up to Wrestlemania. The wrestling has been non-existant for months now so I’ve pretty much comes to grips with that at this point. Of course, the question now is if they can actually stick with a direction for more than a month, and moreso if Hulk’s popularity can make it to the next PPV.

Next week: The draft!

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