wrestling / TV Reports

The SmarKdown Rant – November 13 2003

November 14, 2003 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarKdown Rant – November 13 2003

– As the WWE’s main programming gets worse and worse, just about any excuse to delay watching, let alone recapping, a show looks mighty nice. So when I had to choose between a Bryan Adams concert and watching yet another pathetic entry in the build towards a PPV that no one in North America seems to give a crap about, my choice was easy. I think it just goes to show how ultimately meaningless the ratings have become, as they’ve been doing good TV numbers for a while, but house show numbers and PPV buyrates in particular have dropped to alarming levels – into WCW territory. No Mercy, as of early returns, appears to be the lowest WWE buyrate in quite a long time, if not of all-time. There ain’t no good way to spin stuff like that, folks.

– Taped from New Jersey.

– Your hosts are some jerk and his little friend.

– Case in point about the general WCW-like stupidity of the product right now – the plan all along is for Eddie & Chavo to challenge the Bashams for the tag titles at the PPV, right? So what do they do? Tease the match for Smackdown one week and have the heel GM change it to a handicap match, and then when Eddie wins that to set up a tag title shot for THIS week, they announce that match at the beginning of the show and then switch it up AGAIN knowing full well that Eddie was never scheduled to even be there, despite local advertising spending all of its time focusing on Eddie as the only attraction. So you’re left with the tag title match at the PPV as original intended and a bunch of fans who have become numb to the whole thing and don’t care about the feud in the first place. There’s a really good point in the Torch from last week I think, where Keller talks about how basically it’s all become so geared to TV that people have become conditioned to wait for the payoff on RAW the next night instead of the product they’re supposed to want to pay $35 to see. Titles have become so meaningless that people don’t have any emotional investment in finding out who wins beyond hearing about it from JR the next day. For instance, why the hell did they even switch the title from Kurt Angle to Brock Lesnar in that Iron Man match? What grand plan couldn’t have been fulfilled with the title still on Kurt that was fulfilled by Brock getting it? Brock v. UT part 3? If that’s their idea of long-term building, they’ve got even bigger problems. It actually is, though, because it’s a sort of bizarre form of backwards-booking – Vince wants to feud with Undertaker, so he decides that the best way is to cost him a match for the title, but Angle is the champion and they don’t want a face v. face match and they don’t want to turn Angle, so they switch the belt to Brock in a poorly-rated match, have him beat Undertaker to retain after doing a million jobs in the month preceding, make sure he needs help from the entire locker room to do so, and then Vince gets to beat Undertaker at Survivor Series and put him out for the long term, something which no other worker had ever been allowed to do before in storyline form. Thus, everyone in the main event looks like shit and no one cares about any of them. Using parity to establish a new group of main event stars is one thing, making the entire core group in the uppercard look like a bunch of pantywastes while the focus is on the owner and his daughter is another entirely.

– Opening match: Kurt Angle v. Nathan Jones. Another case in point: The 10-man Smackdown elimination match thrown together to give the guys something to do. What’s the issue? What do I care who wins? If someone beats Brock, so what? Hell, Undertaker did it twice in the same match a few weeks ago. Angle outwrestles Jones to start (what a shock), but gets overpowered on a wristlock. Kurt takes him down into a headlock and dodges a charge, allowing Jones to crotch himself on the middle ropes. Kurt sends him to the floor and they brawl out there. Jones drops him on the railing to take over. Back in, Angle slugs away and gets an elbow out of the corner, and a missile dropkick for two. Kurt gets caught with…wait for it…a bodyslam, which the announcers sell like a, you know, move or something. Poor Kurt. Angle fights out of a neck vice and Jones knees him down again, and it’s ANOTHER devastating bodyslam and an elbow. Cole notes that he’s impressive again this week. Well, how can you NOT be impressed with two bodyslams? And another variation goes awry, as Angle escapes a press slam and tries kicking the leg out. Forearm knocks him down and Angle hits the rolling germans, but Jones blocks the Angle Slam. NO! NOT ANOTHER BODYSLAM! Angle escapes the deadly situation and gets the Angle Slam and anklelock, and tough guy prison badass Nathan Jones is saved by Matt Morgan at 6:14 before he can tap. This was as good an example of one guy standing in place while another wrestles himself by bouncing off him as you’re gonna find. *1/2 Bob Holly makes the save with a chair, as if anyone cares. He calls out Brock. Yeah, I’d be terrified if Sparky Plugg was calling me out, too.

– Elsewhere, Bob Holly finds Paul Heyman in the back and they argue about legalities and insurance, so Bob agrees to leave for the time being.

– Elsewhere, Sable & Vince pimp the picture book and Vince rambles about his nightmares and Higher Powers and stuff. He had a dream that he was dead, but his brain was alive. I actually think he’s got it backwards. He talks about maggots eating him alive. Must be one of those steroid side-effects. You’ll notice they’re not selling the issue behind the match (of which there is none) or the promise of a good match (of which there’s even less), but merely the concept of the Buried Alive match, which has never drawn on PPV before and yet is being promoted as the main event of one of their major shows.

– Jamie Noble & Rey Mysterio v. Akio & Sakada. This results from Noble calling out Tajiri and getting beat down by the Yakuza faction, with Rey making the save. Noble chops Akio down to start and sends him into the corner, then uses Nathan Jones’s devastating series of bodyslams and a legdrop for two. Akio gets a dropkick and bringsin Sakada, who seems to ascribe to the WWE Main Event Theory of Volume, but gets kicked down by Noble. Rey comes in with a high cross and a leg lariat, and a rollup gets two. He gets hotshotted and is YOUR face in peril. Akio uses an inverted triangle choke on the top rope, which the fans don’t get at all, and he facelocks him to slow it down. Dropkick and double-team choking follows in the corner. Sakada hits the chinlock and knocks Noble off the apron, preventing Rey from making a tag. Akio surfboards him, but Rey comes back with a nice spinning inverted DDT and makes the hot tag. Noble cleans house (trailer?) and gets a facecrusher for two on Akio. Blind charge misses, but Noble powerslam gets two. Sakada comes in and takes a neckbreaker, allowing Rey to 619 Akio, but Sakada breaks up the West Coast Pop. Tajiri sneaks out, kicks Noble in the head, and Akio gets the pin at 6:29. Not exactly a strong start. Way worse than you’d expect given the talent. *3/4

– Elsewhere, Los Guerreros reconcile, but a ve-ry de-lib-er-ate-ly spea-king “police officer” informs Eddie that his sister-in-law has been injured in a car crash. Very convincing. In fact, I wouldn’t have guessed that he was a robot just by looking at him. For people who are booked to be smart, they’re pretty dumb to fall for this.

– Elsewhere, Chavo explains the situation to Heyman, who postpones the tag title defense until the PPV. The Bashams protest, which is the most they’ve spoken since getting called up, so we get yet another handicap match tonight. When you’re not only bait-and-switching your audience, but doing it on such meaningless midcard fodder as this, you’re just training your audience to care even less.

– Undertaker video from a graveyard. Vince will have to pay. PAY FOR WHAT? What’s the issue?

– The Basham Brothers v. Chavo Guerrero. Chavo takes Doug down to the mat to start and they fight over a hammerlock, and Chavo gets a few armdrags and a hiptoss and cleans house. Back in, Doug slugs Chavo and puts him on the apron, so Chavo hits Danny with a dive. Back in, rollup gets two on Doug, and Chavo gets the Boston Crab. Doug boots him out of the ring again and Danny sends him in, as Doug gets two. They work him over in the corner and Danny slugs him down for two. Flapjack from the Bashams gets two. Doug hits the chinlock. Cole & Tazz talk about Heyman’s “family first” policy. If by that they mean “The McMahon Family comes first”, I agree. Chavo dodges a pair of charges and comes back with an atomic drop on Doug and a backdrop. He goes up and fakes the highspot, then gets a tornado DDT for two. Chavo dropkicks Doug out, but the Bashams do the switch, leaving Danny to get a small package for the pin at 6:05. Handicap matches bore the shit out of me. * This is a feud with nothing new to say, and the champions have nothing to say and no character to express, and the challengers don’t need the titles. In fact, I’m at a loss as to why anyone but the AWOL Haas and Benjamin are even in the running for the titles.

– Elsewhere, the Bashams reveal that they outsmarted the Guerreros. Why are two guys portrayed as drooling idiots suddenly outsmarting people?

– Bradshaw v. A-Train. What have I done to deserve THIS? They fight over a lockup to start and Train pounds away in the corner, but Bradshaw fires back. Big boot and elbow gets two. Train stomps away as Cole once again pulls out the “one team is gigantic so the face team doesn’t stand a chance” argument that’s supposed to sell PPVs. They brawl outside and Bradshaw sends him back in for a shoulderblock and slugs him into a suplex, but A-Train counters with his own. Train gets a corner splash and catapults him under the ropes for two. That actually makes the replay, which is kind of telling of the excitement of this match. Bradshaw comes back but gets knocked down and stomped. I can actually feel my eyeballs going numb watching this match. Bradshaw comes back, but gets caught in a MAIN EVENT SLEEPER. He reverses to his own. How epic. They slug it out and Bradshaw gets something laughingly called a dropkick by Tazz (he was literally laughing), but Train comes back with a pump splash for two. Train misses a charge and Bradshaw whiffs on the lariat, so Train gets the Mehshugganator for two. I almost feel sorry for Train at this point. Clothesline From Heck finishes for Bradshaw at 6:21. Now I really feel sorry for Train. What a waste – Bradshaw is a dead issue, having him be anything but an opening match job guy at this point is just wasting everyone’s time. Ѕ*

– Elsewhere, Benoit & Angle argue about the introduction of Cena as the fifth member of the team. See, there’s no issue behind the match, so instead it’s sold on the “drama” of who the members will be. Which doesn’t change that the match is gonna suck.

– Elsewhere, Sable introduces Vince to “Father Frank”, which allows Vince to act all crazy again. He’d better pray for another 200,000 people to buy this show or else there’s gonna be tears at the next conference call.

– Chris Benoit & John Cena v. Brock Lesnar & Big Show. Has Show even defended that damn US title since winning it? Lesnar & Cena fight over a lockup to start and Brock overpowers him, but Cena slugs away in the corner. Brock pounds him with shoulders, but runs into an elbow, allowing Cena to clothesline him down and bring in Benoit. Elbow and snap suplex gets two. Cena comes in and they work Brock over in the corner, but he hits Cena with an overhead suplex. So much for that ban. Cena gets brought into the heel corner, and Show headbutts him down and chokeslams him, but Benoit pulls him out of the ring as we take a break. We return with Brock getting a release german on Cena, as he’d be your face in peril, if you could see him. Perfectplex gets two. Cena comes back with a DDT and makes the tag to Benoit, who goes after Brock with his own release german, and Brock takes a sick bump on the back of his head. The diving headbutt gets two. Brock hotshots him and gets a lariat to take over again, however. Show whips him around and chokes away. Legdrop gets two. Brock comes in and stomps away as the match slows WAAAAAY down. Brock goes to a facelock and hooks a chinlock on the mat. Benoit fights out, but it’s a false tag to Cena and Brock DDTs him. Benoit comes back again with an enzuigiri this time, and makes the hot tag to Cena. He slugs away on Show and gets a clothesline, as Benoit comes in with a flying headbutt on the assist, and Cena gets two. Good fire from Cena. It’s BONZO GONZO and Brock pounds away on Benoit, but gets taken down with the crossface, while Cena KOs Show with the chain and gets the pin at 17:02. This was okay, but Brock & Show look so bored to be in there now that it doesn’t really motivate anyone to want to see the match. *1/2

The Bottom Line:

This was less of a hard sell than a pathetic cry for attention, as none of the Smackdown matches have any real appeal or issue behind them, aside from the Tajiri-Noble match, and that’s obviously just opening match fodder anyway. So instead we get Vince praying with Father Frank to disguise how lame the Buried Alive concept is and how weak the storyline leading up to the match itself is.

And with the McMahons clearly positioned in the main event for two PPVs in a row, there’s little doubt who the blame is gonna fall on for the failure of their recent PPVs.

Yup, you guessed it, Frank Stallone.


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