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The SmarKdown Rant – February 20 2003

February 20, 2003 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarKdown Rant – February 20 2003

– The book is still rolling on Amazon, hanging in as the #1 wrestling book there and apparently in big demand in bookstores all over the world. So remember, if your local Barnes & Noble or whatever isn’t carrying it, bug them about it! Easiest way is by ISBN: 0806524375 I’ve been getting some tremendously enthusiastic reviews from people who have read it, and trust me when I say that if you enjoyed this one, wait until I REALLY cut loose in the next ones! If you’re looking for more of my take on the WWF in the 90s and way they went from zeroes to heroes and back, check out “Tonight…In This Very Ring” at Amazon today!

– Taped from Indianapolis, IN

– Your hosts are MC & Tazz.

– FINALLY, the Rock has come back to Smackdown. He can’t even be bothered to finish his opening catchphrase, because the crowd really has him down. He thinks he may have even heard some boos. I’m not hearing it. Must be something wrong with the sound, because all I hear is RESPECT and appreciation for the Great One. Sadly, his cell phone interrupts the promo. “Excuse the Rock, he has to take this…” The false sincerity and condescension blows my mind – this guy could be a MAJOR movie villain given the right material. Rock makes sure that the fans actually WANT to boo the Rock (and really, what intelligent person would want to given promos like this?) for selling out, and then informs them that they’re no longer able to sing along with the Rock. Well, it’s their own fault. “What are you, a bunch of sheep? You can’t boo the Rock and then sing along…have some self respect!” Rock brings the awesome here, turning the entire crowd against him in the span of 10 minutes. All y’all who have turned on the greatness that is Rocky will be jumping back on the bandwagon in six weeks once he starts heeling it up old school and rocking the arenas. I never left the bandwagon, baby.

– Chris Benoit v. A-Train. Train attacks to start, but gets chopped. He overpowers Benoit and brings him out of the corner with a delayed fisherman’s suplex for two. Benoit grabs the crossface, but A-Train powers out, so he shifts to the other side and takes him down with another crossface. German suplex and they slug it out, and Benoit rolls him up for the pin at 1:56. That was pretty abrupt, I’m assuming due to Benoit’s arm injury. Ѕ*

– Elsewhere, Funaki looks for an interview with the Rock, but security prevents him. Can’t be too careful.

– Rikishi v. Johnny Stamboli. Seriously, what was wrong with “Johnny the Bull”? It certainly fits the gimmick better. Stamboli PRESSES Rikishi to start, which is pretty damn incredible. Vince must love this dude. Legdrop from the top gets two. Rikishi slugs away to come back and gets a samoan drop and superkick for the pin at 1:46. The heel beatdown follows. Does every new heel have to job to Rikishi? ј*

– Elsewhere, Team Angle does some roughhousing to prep for Brock.

– Los Guerreros exemplify the Cheat to Win philosophy by stealing a woman’s purse and her baby’s bottle. This was…bizarre, to say the least. It was filmed like some sort of bad sitcom, complete with SNL-ish parody theme song. I’m not even sure what the POINT was, exactly. But then high art always loses me.

– Matt Hardy & Shannon Moore v. Kidman & Rey Mysterio. Matt Facts: Matt is miserable when dieting, and finds Shannon hard to teach. That’s a bad combination if you’re Shannon. Shannon pounds on Rey to start and gets a leg lariat for two. Rey & Kidman double-team him with a hiptoss and Kidman drops Rey onto Shannon for two. Matt comes in and slugs it out with Kidman, and gets the Side-Effect to take over. Elbowdrop gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two as Tazz & Cole have a pretty funny bickering session. Matt’s attempt at the Twist of Fate is blocked by Kidman, and hot tag Rey results. Backbreaker for Moore and a cross-body for Matt follows. Rey reverses a powerbomb and dumps Shannon, then sets up Matt for the 619 and hits it. Matt ducks the West Coast Pop and gets a slingshot powerbomb for two. Another try, but Rey reverses and Kidman comes in with a missile dropkick for nothing. Shannon hits him with a legdrop to break it up and Matt gets two. Timing was off on that near-fall and it didn’t feel right. Matt goes up, but Kidman alley-oops Rey into a rana, but the Twist of Fate finishes for Matt at 5:01. This was energetic but pretty vanilla. **

– Earlier this week: Michael Cole interviews Nathan Jones. He goes a little psychotic and tries to kill Cole. Unsuccessfully, because they don’t wanna turn him babyface already. A feud with Undertaker is teased, which legitimately has me excited – considering his tendency to injure people, hopefully he can punch Undertaker’s career ticket and thus get himself fired, killing two birds with one stone. I had the same hopes for Scott Steiner with HHH, but as usual he proved disappointing.

– Undertaker comes out to finish beating this gift box angle into the ground. Was the Sting-Luger storyline from 10 years ago REALLY so captivating that we have to relive it three weeks in a row? Behind door #1: A puppy. Behind door #2: Nothing. Big Show attacks him as Cole notes that it was a trap. Well, considering that there’s two giant wooden boxes with “To Undertaker from Big Show” on them, it wasn’t exactly a SUBTLE trap. It was more like one of those intricate master plans from HHH where he’d spend two hours luring the babyface down to the ring and then hit them with a sledgehammer. One chokeslam and UT stays down. Lame.

– Paddle On A Pole: Nidia v. Torrie Wilson. Didn’t these die with Vince Russo’s career? Nidia whips Torrie around and gets a clothesline. Torrie gets a neckbreaker and climbs, but Noble trips her up. Torrie goes after Dawn Marie, allowing Noble to powerslam Torrie. Nidia grabs the paddle at 1:50 for the win. You know, it’s a sad indictment when you have to overbook a traditionally pure wrestling exhibition like a Paddle on a Pole match. Funaki saves Torrie from paddling. What a strange and pointless segment.

– Elsewhere, Hogan tries to get into the Rock’s dressing room, but security stops him. If I was a top-level star and some crazy old guy in his red-and-yellow underwear who’s stuck in 1985 was trying to get into MY dressing room, I’d do the same thing.

– Hogan comes out to bore the crowd, but thankfully Rock interrupts before he can say anything. Thank god, wouldn’t want Hogan to get embarrassed by all the booing. They use camera tricks and canned heat to make it seem like people are cheering the old fart, but I know the real deal. Rock and Hogan do another staredown, but Rock decides that an apology is in order for the previous rudeness. On Hogan’s part, of course. I think the crowd should apologize to the Rock, as well. Rock reminds him that last year, Hogan was nothing and worthless until Rock brought him up to his level at Wrestlemania. So Rock offers him a chance to apologize (which is very gracious on his part), but Hogan, sore loser and poor sportsman that he is, refuses. Rock disputes Hogan’s popularity (while frenetically pacing around the ring like a drug addict), but eventually offers a handshake before spitting on Hogan. Good for him, I think he was speaking for the whole arena. I don’t know if this sold any PPVs, but more Rock is good TV.

– Angle-Lesnar video package.

– Elsewhere, John Cena declares WAR on Brock. From a wheelchair. The inherent contradiction there is made up for by Cena’s rap about Brock dropping the soap. If they start playing Cena serious and pushing him as a threat, he could be money. The danger of course is bringing someone that green into an uppercard feud too fast, which is why it might be best to keep him as an undercard comedy player until he gets a more solid fanbase going, but at this point they take what they can get, I’d think.

– Brock Lesnar v. Kurt Angle. No, no, we couldn’t have that – you wouldn’t be ripping off the paying customer, then. Instead it’s the now-patented bait-and-switch technique, as Angle decides to make Brock wrestle Team Angle instead.

– Brock Lesnar v. Charlie Haas. Brock gets a monster backdrop to start, but Haas takes him down with a facelock. Brock powers out and hammers him in the corner, but Haas suplexes him. Brock no-sells it and kills him with a pair of clotheslines, and keeps up the power assault. Hiptoss and he whips Haas around, and gets an overhead suplex. Backbreaker into a press into the F5 finishes at 2:41. Total squash. Ѕ*

– Brock Lesnar v. Shelton Benjamin. Joined in progress, as Lesnar pounds on Shelton to start and gets a butterfly suplex. Delayed vertical suplex and Brock pounds away, but Shelton takes the legs out and kicks him in the head to take over. He punts him like a football and stomps away in the corner, working on the arm, into a single-arm DDT for two. He goes to an armbar while Angle coaches, and it turns into a cross-armlock. Brock powers out and slams Benjamin in the Bob Backlund spot (apropos considering Brock’s haircut), and then MURDERS him with a pair of lariats. Seriously, call the cops, it’s not just offense, it’s assault and battery. A pair of overhead suplexes and an Angle Slam get the pin at 4:58. That’s pretty cheeky – Johnny Ace must be booking. *

– Brock Lesnar v. Kurt Angle. Heyman hits Brock with a chair for the DQ, no match. Heel beatdown results, but Brock gets rid of Angle and almost gets the F5 on Heyman before Team Angle renews the beatdown to end the show, as Benoit & Edge make the save. You know, they could have just advertised Brock v. Haas & Benjamin and it would have been fine, but it seems like carny law that you have to go the extra mile to screw the marks.

The Bottom Line:

Rock’s promos were absolute gold and carried the show, but in the end they need to get the wrestling end of things going again, because it’s been pretty thin the past few weeks. This week no exception, with maybe 20 minutes total in-ring time and the rest talking.

Still, at least it’s not RAW.

Until next week, BUY THE BOOK!

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