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In: Goldberg, LOD, Run-Over-by-Car 
Angles... Out: The Year 2003 A.D.
May 13, 2003

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OnlineOnslaught.com


Thanks again to Big Danny T. for graciously (and in a very timely fashion every single week) covering RAW on what he thought was a "temporary" basis.  He'll be back next week on a SD!-only basis, rest assured.

Meantime, you're stuck with me.  Deal.

Cold Open:  In the Ring with Christian

Christian is bitching and moaning about how unfair it is for him to have to face Goldberg inside a steel cage, much less that he has to go on FIRST tonight.  He has a few choice words about Steve Austin's management ability, which predictably enough, brings Austin out to the ring.

Austin says he never told Christian he was up first, nor that he was number one.  He just flipped Christian his favorite bit of sign language.  The "New People's Champ" must have misunderstood.  Christian tries to get Austin to un-make the cage match against Goldberg, but Austin's having none of it: in fact, he decides that if Christian does not compete against Goldberg tonight, Austin will pull Christian out of the IC Title Battle Royal on Sunday.

Did someone say IC Title?  That bring out Rob Van Dam, who cockily predicts he's the only man with the skills to win the Lazarus Belt.  Christian disagrees, but is dismissed by Austin, who tells him to get lost and get ready for his match later tonight.  With Christian gone, Kane decides to come out to the ring; he believes HE will win the IC Title, even if it means tossing RVD out of the ring.  RVD says he'd do the same to his tag team partner.  Stone Cold, perceptive fellow that he is, starts sensing a bit of tension, and tries to relieve it with a round of beers.

But there's Eric Bischoff, who says "No Beer Bash for You."  It's all business tonight, because Bischoff promised last week to raise the bar, and that means this week, he's got a surprise for the tag team champs, RVD and Kane.  Tonight -- RIGHT NOW, in fact -- they will face Bischoff's newest acquisitions, the greatest tag team of all time (not named the Hart Foundation, British Bulldogs, Rock 'n' Roll Express, Midnight Express, Brain Busters, Rockers, Freebirds, or Steiner Brothers, anyway)...  the Legion of Doom!

Rob Van Dam/Kane vs. Legion of Doom (Tag Title Match)

Solid "L - O - D" chant from the Philly fans to start, but then they're mostly dead for the rest of things.  First segment is mostly Hawk and Animal awkwardly trying to sell for some of RVD's offense, then RVD bumping around for both Road Warriors before "hot" tagging Kane.  Utter chaos ensues, but in the mess, Kane was dispatched, and RVD was set up for the Doomsday Device.  But he ducked, and managed to escape.  Hawk powdered out, Animal got chokeslammed, and then RVD (despite not, to the best of my recollection, being the legal man) pinned him following a Five Star Frog Splash.  Was that a hello/good-bye deal for the LOD?  They really didn't show me any reason why it shouldn't be.... and Jim Ross probably didn't do them any favors by going out of his way to frequently mention that they were stars from the 80s, which is no way to get a 2003 crowd to buy into LOD's legitimacy today.

Wow.  From Christian to Austin to RVD to Kane to Bischoff to the LOD... that was, ummm, maybe we'll say "busy."  Somewhere, Vince Russo's saying to himself, "Hey, that ain't bad."  And it wasn't.  LOD are really only a minor surprise, and were treated as such; but this still gave the whole opening segment a kind of big-night feel.

Backstage: Trish Stratus is getting prettified, but Victoria and Steven Richards promise her that after tonight's hardcore match, her good looks will be gone for good.


Low Content Segment:  We start with footage of HHH/Nash from last week, narrated by King and JR... we cut to backstage, where HHH walks up to Chris Jericho and revisits Quad Injuries past (2 years ago, Jericho tore HHH's; 1 year ago in This Very Building, Nash tore his own), and suggests that maybe Jericho tearing Nash's quad in Philly tonight might be a good idea; Jericho seems amenable...  Goldberg's limo arrives outside, but just as he's getting ready to exit, a white car speeds past, and nearly takes Goldberg's limo's door right off; Goldberg is uninjured, but very pissed off.


Backstage: Teddy Long campaigns for Steve Austin to add a "man of color, a man of soul" to the IC Title Battle Royal.  Surprisingly, Austin agrees.  But Long is none too pleased when he discovers Austin means that he's just added Booker T, and not Rodney Mack, to the IC Battle Royal.  He cannot linger to complain, though, for there is business to be done in the ring...

Rodney Mack vs. the Phoenix Boyz (Teddy Long Five Minute DOUBLE White Boy Challenge)

Long is on commentary, Mack dispatches two white boys -- both via submission -- in under 2 minutes.  Nothing you haven't seen before.  And FYI: there goes your "big night feel." 

I like the reader suggested idea (sorry, I forgot your name) that Mack do this shtick for another week or so, but then have his winning streak ended by Tenacious Z.  You know, the one-legged white boy.  THAT might actually make this gimmick interesting...


Another Low Content Segment:  The Coach (surprisingly showing no signs of being pissed off after being demoted and Stunnered last week) tries to get Bischoff's comments about the attack on Goldberg's limo, but Bischoff is too busy....  Bischoff walks right past Classy Freddie Blassie, who wants to have a moment on RAW to shill his new book, but Bischoff blows him off, saying that it was his old Chief of Staff who agreed to let Blassie have some air time, but now the deal was off... and finally, Bischoff walks up to Rico, who says that he knows 3 Minute Warning has been floundering lately, and wants to know if Bischoff has any ideas for how 3MW can get back on track;  Bischoff casts an evil look at the wheel-chair-ridden Blassie, and tells Rico he's got an idea...  we cut to another backstage region, where Austin and Goldberg are face-to-face; Stone Cold knows a thing or two about getting run over, and tries to extract any useful information he can out of Goldberg; but Goldberg didn't really see anything; he's just going to take out his frustrations on Christian later tonight.


Surely, They Wouldn't DARE Theatre

Sure enough, Eric Bischoff welcomes Classy Freddie Blassie to RAW.  And before you know it, he's telling Blassie that he's got about... THREE MINUTES... to make his book popular.  3MW comes out of the crowd, and they're about to hoist Blassie -- wheelchair and all -- in to the ring when Steve Austin interrupts.  He says that he and Bischoff didn't discuss this particular segment, and therefore he must veto it.  And by the way, he made a decision on his own without consulting Bischoff, and perhaps his new hirees will have something to say about 3MW assaulting Fred Blassie....

NOT A Match: Dudley Boyz vs. 3MW

No ref, this is not a match.  Just a brawl.  All Duds, as they quickly get to the part of the battle where D-Von is supposed to go fetch something...  but Bubba can't quite blurt it out.  That's OK, cuz Steve Austin is holding a mic up to Freddie Blassie's mouth, who tells them, "D-Von: Get the Tables."  Rosie and Jamal are nowhere to be seen, and Rico gets 3-D'ed through a plank of wood.  Everybody's happy.  Fun, if kind of obvious segment; this was the right time and right place (Philly) to give the Duds a solid re-introduction as pure babyface.  Austin and the Dudleys have a three way beer bash as we eventually cut to a commercial.

Backstage: Christian is getting ready... to DIE!


Goldberg vs. Christian (Steel Cage Match)

Christian introduces us to his friend, the same steel chair the Rock used to brain Goldberg a month ago... but as soon as Goldberg enters the cage, Christian foolishly drops the chair out the door.  Dunderhead.  That's OK, during a frantic escape attempt after about 2 minutes of getting his ass handed to him by Goldberg, Christian is able to reach out the door to the floor and grab the chair.  From there, it's chairshot city, and Goldberg is on the defensive for several minutes.  Until he's able to dodge a shot and send Christian face-first into the cage.  Christian comes up bloody, and Goldberg goes on a tear.  Eventually it's Spear, Jackhammer, Done.  Goldberg opts for the pinfall option, rather than the escape the cage option.  Nothing outstandingly climactic, but effective as a showcase for Goldberg, I think.  It does raise the question: what the hell's Goldberg gonna do at the PPV?  Play Parking Attendent until he figures out who tried to run him down, I fear....


Backstage:  Steve Austin is confronted by Ric Flair, who tells Stone Cold that he may be GM, but that RAW is Triple H's show.  HHH is the champ and HHH calls the shots.  In swoops the Hurricane, who begs to differ.  After Judgment Day, Hurricane believes Kevin Nash will turn Triple H into Triple BIIIYYAAATCH.  This infuriates Flair, which in turn gives Austin an idea.  Flair vs. Hurricane TONIGHT.  No, make that RIGHT NOW.  "Just be sure you end up in the ring," he warns them.  Then, he adds, "Ding ding."

The Hurricane vs. Ric Flair

Flair and Hurricane quickly enough brawl to the ring, where Flair -- who was forced to begin this match abruptly despite wearing street clothes -- manages to end up with his pants down around his knees for a good 30 seconds.  Oy.  The pants are torn badly, too, so even once pulled back up, provide little protection against those critics who like to joke about the homoerotic overtones in pro wrestling.  Decent enough little match, though, actually, with Hurricane almost winning with a chokeslam and a Shining Wizard.  But Flair uses a low blow to rally, and eventually made Hurricane tap out to the Figure Four.

After the match, HHH came down to celebrate with Flair, and seemed ready to leave the ring without doing anything blatantly dick-ish.  Whoops.  Spoke too soon.  HHH hops back in the ring, hits a Pedigree on the already-spent Hurricane, and THEN leaves.  You know what would have been cooler: if they'd done the "Jericho finish" from this past weekend's house shows between Hurricane and HHH after the match (self-counting a three after a surprise chokeslam would have worked), and THEN had Flair and HHH double-team Hurricane into oblivion to "get their heat back" (and also to MUCH more effectively set up future confrontations).  This little match -- starting in the back and ending in the ring -- was entertaining enough, but this finish was absolutely, in every sense of the word, pointless.  Also useless.  And probably a few other synonyms I could come up with if I liked.

Backstage: Richards continues to pump Victoria... up for her match against Trish.


Scott Steiner, Test, and Goldust vs. Chris Nowinski and La Resistance

I'm beginning to wonder if there will EVER be punch and pie.  As the match started, it was announced that it'll be Steiner and Test vs. La Resistance at the PPV, so that's what we're trying to hype here.  Decent enough action, I guess.  Goldust was the stand-out on this night, and Steiner is actually very effective when you can tag him in for a few big spots, and then go back to hiding him on the apron.  Nowinski and the Frenchies...  green, yes, but they do decent work, and their spot-on gimmicks do the rest.  Finish had Steiner pinning Nowinski with the Slop Drop after everybody else had powdered out.  In terms of a wrestling match: nothing offensive at all.  In terms of storytelling: sadly, just nothing, really.  If they think they did anything to make me want to see Steiner/Test vs. LR at the PPV, well, they are sadly mistaken...


Final Low Content Segment:  JR and King run down the RAW brand Judgment Day PPV matches (including the IC Battle Royal, which included Test in the run-down and on the graphic even though they'd just said he was in a tag match with Steiner, and which did NOT include Shawn Michaels on the graphic, even though Jerry Lawler mentioned his name; Michaels, instead, was included as Nash's second on the graphic for the World Title match)... then they shot it out to "WWE Studios," where Michael Cole and Tazz ran down the SD! brand matches for the PPV, and also hyped that Vince McMahon has something VERY big planned for this Thursday on SD! with regards to Mr. America...  Terri cornered Chris Jericho for an interview and asked where he was when Goldberg was almost getting run over; Jericho got indignant and said, "If I was going to take Goldberg down, I'd do face-to-face."  I love shoot comments that aren't supp.... oh, wait, knowing Jericho that WAS supposed to be a shoot comment.  Then he went on a 2 minute rant about how great he was and how he was going to take out Nash and win the IC Title this weekend.


Trish Stratus vs. Victoria (Hardcore Rules)

Early on, Tommy Dreamer (w/ Singapore Cane) came out to second Trish Stratus and neutralize Steven Richards.  What?  This guy's got Beulah at home, and now he gets TV time with Trish... talk about an embarrassment of riches.  Trish and Victoria ramp up the violence level for this match, recalling their feud from last fall.  There are, unfortunately, a few awkward moments where the unique spots they try don't click; but they are offset by a few really neat moments, like Trish pulling a Matrix move out to duck a trashcan blow, and an extended reversal sequence in the turnbuckle before Trish finally landed a version of the head-scissors take over.  Finish had Dreamer take out Richards with his cane, which then was grabbed by Victoria; but Trish got her hands on it, whacked Victoria two or three times, then closed with a Stratusfaction bulldog for the win.  About as fun a women's match that you'll ever see, if you ask me.  Trish and Dreamer celebrate together... well, I guess I gotta grant that that likable lug is a step in the right direction after the Jeff Hardy Experiment, at least...

Backstage: Kevin Nash is WALKING.


Kevin Nash vs. Chris Jericho

Nash gets off to a hot start.  Lots of punches, elbows, and knee lifts, anyway...  but after a few minutes of that, Jericho adopts a new strategy:  take out the big man's leg.  It looked like a lot of knee-related attacks by Jericho, but you could also have interpreted it as Jericho going after Nash's surgically repaired quad-muscle, too.  Either way, Nash spent several minutes selling for Jericho.  The pace was probably a bit more methodical than a lot of fans like, but honestly, this was not too bad.  Jericho thinks he has the match won after a Lionsault, but Nash kicks out.  Nash is set to rally after Jericho wastes time arguing with the ref, but here comes the rescue squad:  HHH and Flair (no change of pants for Naitch!) are out, and immediately attack Nash to cause the DQ ending.  But here's Shawn Michaels to even the score!  Flair eats a superkick from Michaels, and both Jericho and HHH wind up getting jackknifed by Nash.  HBK and Nash hold each other and weep gently on each other's shoulders as the show comes to....  oh, wait, that's better: HBK and Nash pose in a manly fashion, recalling their days as tag team champs, to close out the show.

That was not a terrible main event.  I will hold off again on having to develop Nash's "Dud-tastic" nickname...  only complaint is that I would have liked to have seen HBK and Jericho get into it a bit more to stir the pot for the IC Battle Royal (instead, Nash was the one who leveled Jericho).

Show had some ups, and had some... well, not really "downs," but definitely some things that make you wonder what the hell they thought they were doing in the last week before a PPV.  The IC Battle Royal was almost completely neglected, and it could have been an EASY way to use compelling characters in compelling stories tonight.  Instead, it was forgotten after the opening RVD/Kane bit in favor of White Boy Challenges and Test/Steiner vs. the Frenchies.  Baffling, really, when you consider that there could have been more between RVD and Kane, more between Jericho and Michaels, and maybe even some bits with the other guys to try to portray them as viable challengers instead of just warm bodies.

I'd be unfair to say that I outright disdained any one segment, but more than once last night, I was left muttering to myself, "This is how you spend your last two hours before a major show?"...  they tried to jack up the "unpredictability factor" a bit, but doing so with the Legion of Doom and automotive angles is so... I don't know... 1990s.  It's stuff we've seen before and gotten tired of before.  I know most of the best wrestling angles are essential rehashes of the same one-note song, but it's extra-transparent on a night like this.  The focus tonight should have been on making Judgment Day 2003 interesting; not on rehashing gimmicks and stars from decades past.

So, unfortunately, this must go in the books as a step down from the previous two weeks.  More thoughts and fall-outs in the regular OO column tomorrow. 


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