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SD! Recap, PPV Preview, and
A Plethora of Weekend Newsbites
September 19, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Let's try something UNPRECEDENTED in the history of OO... yes, we've done Columns in Two Parts.  But how about we go for three today?  Yeah, boy!

That's because Danny got hit by that nasty hurricane yesterday and can't recap SD!... so I'm doing it.  But frankly, it's the kind of show that almost defies a recap in the standard sense: if I had three hours, I'd love to do a killer minute-by-minute type of thing for the Iron Man Match, but I don't.  So without play-by-play, the recap of last night's SD! becomes an abbreviated thing, not really worth it's own page.  So it'll be the lead element of today's three-in-one column.

It's also because Matt was kind enough to assume PPV preview duties for Sunday's Unforgiven; I asked him to do it because, of all of OO's regulars, he is easily the most expert when it comes to RAW and its stories.  Who better to guide you through the ins and outs of their brand-specific PPV?  And then Jeb went ahead and did a PPV preview of his own, which is also a good read, if only for the preview of the women's match.  Still: because it's my nature, I have to do at least a small passage of  PPV preview so I can issue forth my predictions.  I'd hate to have a hole in my long-standing predictions streak when the Year in Review is compiled in 3 months!

And then there's some news.  Some of it big enough that I couldn't just let it sit on the sidelines till Monday.  So that's a required element today, too.  Enjoy!

SmackDown! Recap

Cold Open: Vince McMahon welcomes us to SmackDown!, and makes it clear that tonight is something very special, and even if you don't like Brock Lesnar then.... uh oh, there's somebody lurking just off camera, and [zooming out] it's the Undertaker.  Taker says he knows Vince is the one who told Lesnar to run out and interfere in his title match two weeks ago, and promises that he neither forgives nor forgets.

Theme/Opening Montage, and then it's straight to Tazz and Cole, who are all "This is going to be a historic night."  They even go to a nice Tale of the Tape graphic and talk up a few key Iron Man points before it's time to head to the ring.

Rey Mysterio and Chris Benoit vs. Tajiri and Rhyno

The melding of two singles feuds into this tag match does leave a few pressing questions in my mind, chiefly, "Why'd Rey dump Kidman so unceremoniously?"...  but it also results in a kick ass match.  Alternately fast-paced and hard-hitting (depending on who was in the ring), my personal highlight of this contest was Benoit holding Tajiri in place for a 619, and then as soon as Rey hit it, he pulled Tajiri back into a text book German.  That pretty much neutralized Tajiri, leaving Rey to hit another 619 on Rhyno, then follow up with the Dropping of the Dime for the pinfall.  About six minutes of absolutely nothing to complain about.  Great opener.  Oh, and a bonus: next week, it's Rey vs. Tajiri for the Cruiserweight Title again.  YES!

Shaniqua vs. Nidia and Torrie Wilson

Total elapsed time: probably about 2 minutes.  Total elapsed offense for Nidia and Torrie: about zero.  Like the opener, I've also got no real complaints here; it was short and to the point.  Unlike the opener, I'm not gonna go anywhere near calling this a "great" match.  

Backstage: Steph is drawing facial hair and devil horns of a Sable poster (I don't know if that's somehow silly and cute or just dumb... but oddly, I lean towards the former), when Sable, Big Show, and Vince all walk in.  Steph's all "I'll never quit, dad. You'll have to fire me."  But Vince is all "By the time I get done with you, you'll be begging me to quit."  Well, I still don't care about the storyline, really, but if you're gonna keep it contained to 90 seconds in the middle of an otherwise awesome show, then guess what?  I'm STILL NOT COMPLAINING!

Lesnar/Angle History Package: Lesnar wins at WrestleMania.  Angle wins at SummerSlam.  Tonight is the rubber match.

Backstage: Eddie Guerrero is thanking Chavo for arranging a tag title match for them tonight.  Eddie thinks he'll look great with more gold, and Chavo agrees.

Earlier today:  John Cena rapped about how he is all-American, and that next week, he'll get his due.  He didn't outright say, but I took this to mean something with regards to facing Eddie for the US Title.  

Los Guerreros vs. Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin (Tag Team Titles)

Early story is whether or not Chavo, individually, is at less than 100%, and then whether or not that means he and Eddie are missing a beat or two in terms of teamwork, as well.  Good action, well-analyzed in this regard by Tazz and Cole.  Eddie and Chavo wipe out the tag champs with dueling planchas to send us to an ad break, and when we come back, the Guerreros are still lying, cheating, and stealing their way to the advantage.  We then shift into an extended segment in which Haas and Benjamin take apart Chavo's surgically repaired arm, with a number of cool moves.  Finally, a hot tag to Eddie, and it's chaos time.  Haas and Benjamin try to introduce steel chairs, but it backfires, as Chavo drop kicks a chair into Benjamin's knee.  Benjamin immediately powders out, leaving Eddie and Chavo to double team Haas.  Chavo hits a brain buster, Eddie a Frog Splash, and they make the pinfall to become new tag champs.  Really good 12 minute TV match, and the title change came as a real surprise, adding to the overall atmosphere of the show.

Lesnar/Angle: Keys to Victory.  More "tale of the tape" type stuff, with Tazz's breakdown of what each guy should do to maintain the edge added in.  Nothing terribly insightful (actually, the ideas were good, but you got the impression they were rushed and didn't fully connect), but I loved how it added that big time sporting event feel to the match.

Backstage:  in the heel locker room, Lesnar is the favorite, and the FBI are apparently running the numbers for anyone who wants to place a bet.  In the APA office, the babyfaces are assembled, playing cards, drinking beers, and also talking about who will win the Iron Man Match.  Yes, kids, those were Alexis Laree (next to Rey) and Shannon "Daffney" Ward (I'm 90% sure... she was un-gothed and looking good behind Bradshaw) hanging out with the fellas.

Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (Iron Man Match for the WWE Title)

Again, play-by-play for an hour long match would be unwieldy...  the best thing I can say right here would be to say, "Forget this recap, just try to watch this match."  A highlights version (as I'm sure will be seen on Velocity) will get you the important parts, but a lot of what I liked about this match was the flow and the build to the finish.  It's a match that, when taken as a whole, told a story.  The story, in short: Brock Lesnar could not outwrestle Kurt Angle, but made use of a diabolically-conceived strategy to capitalize on the Iron Man stips to still walk out the winner.

First ten minutes: after a first 3 minutes of chain wrestling in which Angle was in command, Lesnar started feigning injury and generally stalling outside the ring, trying to figure out how to get things back in his favor.  At the 10 minute mark, the muse struck: Lesnar grabbed a steel chair and blatantly, right in front of the ref, plastered Angle in the head.  Lesnar was DQ'ed, and went down 0-1; during the 15 second rest period, Lesnar laid in with a few more chair shots.

Next ten minutes: Lesnar's decision to get DQ'ed was questioned by announcers, but soon paid dividends.  With Angle's knocked silly, Lesnar was able to score a pinfall (F-5), and then, two minutes later, got Angle to tap out to an anklelock.  Net effect of Lesnar's intentional DQ?  He's up one fall, 2-1.

Third ten minutes: Lesnar's just beating the hell out of Angle, but now Angle's at least got some steam back, so he won't drop another fast decision.  However, when Lesnar takes the brawl to the outside, he gains a decisive edge again, and hits an F-5 on the floor.  Lesnar makes it back into the ring at an 8 count, but Angle is counted out.  Lesnar now leads 3-1.

Fourth ten minutes: Lesnar continues in control, but does not start playing defense, as you might expect given his lead.  Instead, he keeps grappling, and makes a mistake, allowing Angle to reverse his way into an Angle Slam out of nowhere.  It's good enough for a pinfall.  Lesnar's lead is cut to 3-2.  But shortly after that, Lesnar (accidentally) wipes out ref Brian Hebner.  During the ref outage, Angle appears to have another fall, but it goes uncounted.  Lesnar hits a low blow to regain the edge, and then pastes Angle with the Title belt.  The ref comes around just in time to count another tainted fall in favor of Lesnar, who now leads 4-2.

Fifth ten minutes: during a commercial break, Lesnar hits a big superplex on Angle to score another pin, extending his lead to 5-2.  Announcers start openly talking about Lesnar going on defense, now, but again Lesnar gets OUT WRESTLED by Angle, who manages to pick an ankle and go for a half-crab.  Thus begins Angle's work on Lesnar's leg/ankle.  Lesnar's able to break out, but Angle does score a pinfall a few minutes later when Lesnar goes to the top rope, only to get caught by Angle's amazing run-up superplex.  Heading down the stretch, it's 5-3 in favor of Lesnar.

Final ten minutes: although down two falls, Angle is coming on strong.  He cinches in various submission moves, and the announcers question not trying more for pinfalls given Angle's shortage of time.  Lesnar won't let Angle put together very many offensive moves, though, matching him suplex for suplex.  Great back-and-forth sequence around the 8 minute mark, with Lesnar even hitting a wicked DDT.  But Angle picks the ankle again, and after a few minutes of yanking Lesnar away from the ropes, he FINALLY scores a submission decision to make it 5-4 with about 4 minutes to go.  And now, it's on.  Crowd is way into everything Angle tries, and when Lesnar BLATANTLY dodges out of the ring on four consecutive occasions, they are ready to crucify him.  Finally, with under 2 minutes left, Angle gets Lesnar in the ring.  He hits him with about a half dozen Germans, but no pinfall.  Angle, with 20 seconds left, goes for one last ankle lock.  It's in the middle of the ring, and Lesnar won't reach the ropes.  As the clock counts down, Lesnar, however, refuses to tap out again.  Lesnar wins the match and the title five falls to four.
Final Analysis:  just a great match, and along with it, a fantastically-told story.  Lesnar won three falls in dubious fashion (the first two after the chairshot, and then one more after the belt shot).  Angle won his falls by out-wrestling Lesnar, but Lesnar's devious strategy was just too much.  Still, Angle had a chance to send the match into overtime, and the match ended with Angle (the loser) still on his feet and in better shape than Lesnar (the winner), who was practically passed out on the floor, clutching his new title.  It was a clean and decisive finish, but it leaves the door open for the feud to re-ignite down the line (hopefully after a few months of resting).  I also loved the presentation of the match by Tazz/Cole, the fact that they made it clear that they had permission from UPN to go into "overtime," and even the fact that they decided to go ahead and do one pinfall during a commercial... it all added to that Legitimate Sporting Event feel.  
This is not a match or a show that they should do with regularity.  Not even every two months for the off-month "free-per-views."  Maybe not even any more than once or twice a year.  But for a one-time spectacle, this was an amazing show.  I'm not sure how I'd rate this in the triumvirate of Iron Man matches (each one did something a little different, and they don't necessary bear direct comparison), but I will say that this was definitely a better match then WM19, and at least on par with, if not better than, SummerSlam.  And then they added in the tag title change and a hot opener, too....  jeez, what the hell did we do to deserve this?  Tell me, so I can rush out and do it again....

Unforgiven PPV Preview

Again, Matt and Jeb have both got complete PPV Previews for you.  I"m just here to toss in my predictions.

Goldberg/HHH: I would half love to see Jeb be right about this one, but I don't see any way in which Goldberg doesn't win.  All signs (HHH's non-wrestling agenda, Goldberg showing up on house shows) point to it.

Shane/Kane: if it's me, I'm making Kane the first challenger to Goldberg (monster vs. monster), and I think that means he HAS to win here.  Shane and Kane may well steal the show with an amazing brawl/Sports Entertainment Segment (and I'm STILL begging for an RVD run-in so we can see those Stereo Van Terminators, dammit), but Kane goes over in the end.

RVD/Jericho/Christian: the match was built up out of nowhere, and we still don't know where Jericho really stands.  Are they just teasing a face turn cuz they got nothing else, or do they really intend to turn him?  I say no face turn is coming.  I think we'll see Christian somehow take advantage of Jericho and RVD beating the hell out of each other in order to retain. And then, in 3 weeks, he starts back up a feud with a returning Booker over the IC belt.

Michaels/Orton:  I think Jeb's nailed this one.  This is Orton's "try-out" match.  He's being given a huge chance on Sunday, and if he can deliver his half of the match, then the push continues.  If not, they can pull back a bit.  In either case, the logical thing to do is to put Orton over (probably via Flair interference).  Orton wins the battle, meaning the the war will continue...

Trish/Lita vs. Molly/Gail: I don't know who to get madder at, the fans or Lawler?  Fans have apparently decided women's matches are nothing more than an excuse to chant "We Want Puppies" (hey, trust me, so do I... but I have this thing where I can sublimate the urge to picture every girl I see naked for upwards of 10 minutes at a time when there are more pressing matters to tend to), which hamstrings the women any time they're trying to have, you know, a wrestling match.  On the other hand, that's probably all Lawler's fault, anyway, so... yeah, screw Lawler.  I pity the fans for being so easily led, but Lawler's their pied piper.  I think all these girls look great with little clothing, sure... but I also think that on Sunday, they'll be more than capable of having a good match, too.  If only the fans would give it a chance.  I'm going with conventional wisdom: Lita (in her return) and Trish win, forcing Molly and Gail to regroup (and possibly add Jazz to their evil alliance?) but without really hurting them (I mean, Gail can take the fall, and then Molly's still the champ).

La Resistance/Rob Conway vs. the Dudleys: one the plus side, this is a tables match, which pretty much ensures good crowd heat and a looser, brawling style to the match.  On the downside, it's still month three of the Duds and La Resistance, and at present time, the titles aren't on the line, which means the feud STILL won't be over even after Sunday.  The non-title situation means the Duds win this one.

Jim Ross/Lawler vs. Coach/Al Snow: first prediction, it'll probably suck.  Second prediction, Coach and Al win, and get maybe 2 or 3 editions of RAW before Steve Austin gets involved and finds a way to get JR and King back on Mondays before Survivor Series.

Test vs. Scott Steiner: I don't know.  Also, I don't care.  But figuring that there's no reason to just put Stacy back with Steiner (otherwise, why'd they have taken her away to being with? unless they really are just making this shit up as they go along...), then my guess is that Test cheats to win, and Steiner has to be his slave, or whatever.  The only way that's even VAGUELY interesting is if they pull a Stacy heel turn out of their ass (hey, it'd make no sense, but at least it's SOMETHING)....

I'll have the full results of Unforgiven posted here at OO sometime in the 11pm hour on Sunday night, so come on back for that!

Weekend Newsbites

  • Something else that makes the Iron Man match even more amazing...  Kurt Angle competed in it just 24 hours after the sudden death of his older sister (she was in her early 40s).  
    Angle wrestled the SD! match, and did so in grand style.  He has been given the weekend off by WWE, however, and is being replaced in main events (including a major show at MSG) by the Undertaker.
    Condolences to the entire Angle family.
  • Angle was also in the news on Tuesday for his participation in the "Get Tough on Angina" program.  ABC News did a feature on him, explaining how the history of heart disease in Angle's family was a driving force behind his getting involved in the awareness program.
    Of special note in the article: Angle issues an "invitation" to Bret Hart for a one-time-only wrestling match.  It's not a big, blustery thing, like an open challenge.  Rather, it's a respectful acknowledgement that Bret was the greatest wrestler of the last decade, and that the man thought to be the greatest wrestler of this decade would love to face him in the ring.
    That's the second time in a week that Angle's made noises about facing Bret Hart...  take that for whatever it's worth.
    You can read the full ABC News piece right here.
  • Hulk Hogan's return to the wrestling ring has been confirmed as taking place on October 13... he'll work a New Japan show at the Tokyo Dome, and will face Masa Chono in the main event.
    I believe Hogan had also been in negotiations to work the late October Zero-One show that Goldberg is slated to work...  this deal will render those negotiations moot.
  • It's still unclear just how seriously hurt Shelton Benjamin was by the chair to the knee shot at SD! tapings...  live reports indicated that while Haas (who appeared to be legit knocked silly by the awkward back-bodydrop) came around and left the ring under his own power, Benjamin was practically carried backstage.
    Of note, however: Benjamin is also off all weekend house shows, and Haas has been rebooked into singles matches against Kidman.  Beyond that, there are very mixed reports that I'm getting.  One says that Benjamin was hospitalized and has already had surgery on the knee... another says that Benjamin is OK and is expected back in action by early October.  So I don't know what to tell you.
    On one hand, while it'd suck to lose SD! top heel team, Haas has really shown me signs of being ready to break out as much as a personality as a grappler in the last 8 weeks or so.  This might be his chance to become something other than a relatively anonymous tag team wrestler....  at this point, from what I've seen, I think Haas has an even higher upside than Randy Orton, and might even make it bigger than John Cena, in the long run.
  • Speaking of Cena... if you were wondering what the line was that UPN edited last night, it was "like John Ritter."  The context was something about giving you a heart attack, just like Jack Tripper.  I mention it cuz I KNEW you were dying of curiousity.
    Actually, you know...  I got a kick out of watching afternoon reruns of "Three's Company" when I was a kid, and all.  But when, exactly, did John Ritter become an untouchable comic genius?  I mean, what happened to him sucks, but Cena's a fricking heel...  he's SUPPOSED to say things like that, no?
  • The overnight rating for last night's SD! was a 4.3, which if anything is down just a couple notches from the mid-4s common for the overnights.
    It's estimated that power was out in over 5 million east coast homes last night due to the hurricane, which is roughly 5 percent of the US TV households.  That might end up having an effect on ratings...  the 4.3 overnight was still good enough to put UPN solidly in fourth place among the six broadcast networks for the night.
  • Like most, I felt TNA's PPV this week was a let-down, especially after they made such a fantastic and concerted effort to rope in a few new fans for the show.
    The two most-hyped elements of the show were both misses.  Roddy Piper's return was just a convoluted, stream-of-consciousness ramble that reignites a Piper/Russo feud that I thought was stupid 9 months ago and that does not look any more interesting today.  Piper, I think, needs a bit more direction and better stuff around him to really contribute meaningfully.
    And the Raven/Douglas main event fell short of the hype.  There's one part of me that wants to applaud the effort, but there's the part that is a giant asshole who couldn't help but notice that Douglas was not at 100%, and his resulting effort only resulted in a puddle of his vomit in the ring.  I don't know if Douglas was ill, resulting in his condition, or if his lack of conditioning resulted in him getting ill... but I do know that a match that was so heavily hyped shouldn't have been so sloppy.
    They did have a cool finish lined up, though, if only the preceding 15 minutes had been top notch: Vampiro returned to US TV for the first time in over 2 years to attack Raven, allowing Douglas to score the win, and to shave Raven's head.  That sets up Vampiro's alliance with the New Church and an ongoing feud with Raven, which should be cool.
    Damian's got your full TNA Recap right here.
  • Steve Austin is going to be a guest on the Jimmy Kimmel show tonight on ABC.  With Mick Foley on hand as the guest host, that potential is there for the two to tear shit up with some cool stories and/or comedy skits.  If you haven't given Foley and Kimmel a look yet this week, tonight's your chance.  I'm gonna DVR it, that's for sure.
    Also: the first of the Rock's talk show appearances (to hype "The Rundown") has been confirmed.  He'll be on Late Night with Conan O'Brien on next Friday night (Sept. 26).   There are also signs that the Rock is off the season premiere of SNL (Oct. 4); some sources are saying that Jack Black is a hotter commodity right now, and has been asked to move up from the Oct. 11 SNL to host the season opener.  Don't know if that's true, or what it might mean for the Rock getting another slot later in the season.
    That said, the buzz for "The Rundown" continues to be extremely positive.  You've probably seen the critics' quotes in the commercials, and in this case, it's not a whole lot of hyperbole.  Most people who've seen the movie agree that it's a really fun popcorn movie, easily better than "Scorpion King," and showcasing the Rock as capable of both great action and great comedy.  We'll just have to see about that....
  • Funny little story out of Japan: the Great Sasuke, who was elected to office last year, and who had been attending legislative meetings in his wrestling mask, is being forced to unmask for his photo ID.  
    Sasuke's insistence on wearing the mask to session created a stir, but was ultimately permitted.  For security purposes, though, his maskedness will not be permitted on his ID.  At that point, the question must be raised if he'll be permitted to continue wearing the mask, since it won't match the picture on his ID...
  • Even funnier little story out of Florida, where Randy Savage attempted to stage his first live music performance earlier this week...  but was foiled by a combination of technical problems and rowdy fans of Hulk Hogan.
    Savage, whose first single "Be a Man" is an open challenge to Hogan, was apparently lip-synching, and when the equipment went on the fritz after about three songs, he just gave up and walked out.  Fans heckled ruthlessly, and had apparently been riled up by radio personality Bubba the Love Sponge (who is tight with Hogan and incited fans to show up and give Savage a hard time).
    Sounds like a surreal night of entertainment from the two reports I got....  why Savage would think taking his act live is a good idea is mystery number one.  Why Bubba would feel the need to be such a prick that he'd sabotage the guy is mystery number two.
  • And with that, it is time to wrap this up and get on with the weekend, kiddos.  I'm back on Sunday night with Unforgiven results, and then again on Monday with a regular OO column.  Also, look for Battle of the Brands to go up on Sunday, too...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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