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Sitting in with the Band...
July 19, 2002

by Jeb Tennyson Lund
On Loan to OnlineOnslaught.com


Before I start off, let me apologize for not being able to provide the sheer volume of info that CRZ usually brought you. I am not much of a touch-typist, and I don’t have the time required to transcribe dialogue and give you a blow-by-blow account. This recap will be short on detail and longer on commentary.

Opening montage detailing the events of Raw: Vince introducing Bischoff as GM of Raw, and Bischoff calling Rock from a cell phone and leaving a message about jumping ship from Smackdown.

Jericho v. John Cena
Good back-and-forth in the match, with Cena doing a nice dropkick on Jericho (who was coming off the top). Fairly even contest with yet another DQ ending at (2:55).

After the DQ, Jericho goes berserk, putting Cena in The Walls and then viciously attacking with a chair. What is the point anymore? It seems like Jericho sucks wind against various opponents for three weeks, then after the last match before a pay-per-view, manages to produce some offense — only by cheating. This isn’t the sort of ploy that is going to boost any buyrates: first, because it happens every time, and second — when we get to the pay-per-view —the Breakdown barely gets two, the Lionsault always backfires on Jericho (or gets two), and everyone powers out of The Walls. Jericho looks great going berserk, but the “berserker” routine never seems to injure anyone pre-pay-per-view. Jericho is jobbing so often that we might want to call the strategy “Cheat to Lose.”

Bischoff pulls up in a limo, and does the ubiquitous Treat the Interviewers Like Dirt thing. Wow, he must be as evil and ruthless as The Rock!

After the break, Bischoff goes hunting for The Rock and bumps into Hogan in the dressing room. Dry humor ensues!

Chavo Guerrero v. The Hurricane
Solid match with Chavo thoroughly working the... psychology? Chavo works the knee relentlessly, at one point putting Hurricane in the Tree of Woe and dropkicking it. This sets up the STF. (Cole initiates the casual fan by smugly telling us that it stands for “Step-over Toehold Facelock.”) Hurricane, in spite of getting in some offense in the match, taps almost immediately. Afterward, Chavo grabs the mic and challenges Rey Mysterio to a match on Monday. Kind of a weak promo, but I like where it’s going. (4:11)

The match had some great spots and good psychology, which is getting rarer these days, especially in cruiserweight matches. Question: doesn’t it seem odd that Bischoff is the GM of Raw? After all, he always had more consideration for cruiserweights than Vince. This match was an example of a lot of what’s right about Smackdown, though; so maybe the reasoning was that Bischoff could do more for Raw.

Outside, Vince arrives in a limo, makes a cryptic comment about the GM, then moves on. McMahon and Bischoff meet backstage, where Bischoff threatens a raid on Smackdown’s talent, beginning with Triple H.

Solid but uninspired interview with Undertaker follows. Taker blows off Cole and takes a trip down not-so-chilling-rant lane, denigrating Rock and Angle. He’s inconsistent, saying that Angle could never beat him... then saying that Angle could have a couple weeks back. He ends by calling himself the American Badass yet again — thus confirming my suspicion that even he hates the music they’ve given him since then. Oh well, rollin’ rollin’ rollin’ with the punches, I suppose.

Hardcore Holly and Valbowski v. Billy and Chuck (con Rico)
Pretty basic match with even pacing and a hot tag at the end. Rico interferes by using his spinning-heel kick, but Holly converts Billy’s sunset flip into the Alabama Vertebrae Compressor. Val ends with the Money Shot.

Holly and Val have a good thing going here. Even though they’re both somewhat charisma-deficient, there’s an appealing Joe Average quality to them. Both are solid workers, with a nice one-two combo finisher. Rico’s interference gets a little more grating each time, though. It’s about time he starts paying a little more harshly for his shenanigans. Also, it’s about time that Billy injure something so that he can come back after four months, get a new partner and win the tag belts for another damn time.

Edge, Hogan and Rikishi v. Lance Storm, Christian and Test of My Patience
Good back-and-forth action, nothing shocking here. Then, after all of two minutes... COMMERCIAL??? This is not the main event, and (considering how short the match was) a commercial break is sloppy, foolish and inexcusable. Done properly, in a main event, it can give the audience a sense that they might have been missing some spectacular action... or at least that the match was so intense, the viewers’s needed a break. But not nearly enough went into the match prior to the break to induce anything other than a yawn or a scream of frustration.

Okay, back. Test clotheslines Edge hard (there, Test, that move wasn’t too taxing, was it?)... oh, no, I spoke too soon. He goes for the sleeper. I guess he needs to store up enough energy to lift his leg for the Big Whizz, or boot. Edge ducks the Whizz and eventually tags in Hogan so that he can provide the Classic Whizz. Big mess, Hulking up, spear, stinkface attempt, and then Hogan with the Classic Whizz on the Canadian Whizz Poseur!!! Christian stops Hogan, but Edge comes in and saves the day with another spear and an Edge-a-Cution. (5:28)

This was a really enjoyable match toward the end, with everybody hitting finishers and jamming as much action into every moment as possible. Edge and Hogan v. Christian and Storm is a promising pay-per-view match. The only thing that held this match back from the brink of being electric was the almost purposeless ad break in the middle.

Bischoff finds Rock in the dressing room, and the best non-wrestling segment of the night begins. He offers Rock a spot on Raw, and explains that his executive talents could have made Rock a superstar on WCW. Rock says that he can be a superstar on any show, and that, while Bischoff was busy being a genius on WCW, Rock was busy putting that company out of business. To the point, nice chemistry, and well-integrated in the storyline. Bischoff does a slow burn; Rock leaves on a great note.

After a break, Vince hits the stage to tell us who the new GM is. You guessed it; I guessed it. You guessed the response; I guessed the response. About the only people to whom this wasn’t trite, trying, utterly predictable and wretched was the booking committee. Steph tells us that she will fight tooth and nail for Smackdown, meet Bischoff at every turn and prevent any attempts to raid the talent pool. Then she goes in the back and threatens him until he leaves the building.

Kidman v. Tajiri
Another great cruiserweight match. Tajiri gets the tarantula twice, the second time doing a different flip over the top rope. Some typical stuff.... Then, when Tajiri goes for the handspring elbow off the rope, Kidman delivers a crisp dropkick to him! Tajiri misses a moonsault, gets powerbombed, and Kidman finishes with the shooting star press. (3:41) After the match, Noble hits the ring and allows Tajiri to get the Nyquil Spray of Death on Kidman. Then — horror of horrors! — Noble actually powerbombs Kidman!!! It can be done! First flight, then Everest, then the moon landing, now this.

Nothing to complain about with this match, except for the brevity of it. Good setup for a pay-per-view match.

Backstage, Jericho awkwardly goes to visit Steph. What, no hugs for managerial genius? No catfight for the “loser leaves TV” match with Triple H? Stephanie thanks him for “sacrificing” his match with Edge at Vengeance. As compensation, he gets a match with Edge on next week’s Smackdown. Jericho leaves, confused. Then, outside the door, he lets go with an “Expletive Deleted.”

Angle v. Rock
Undertaker’s out to watch, not do commentary, which is a nice “focused, intense” touch. Then they do battle with a commercial. You know, the commercial breaks are getting more heel heat than Test.

We’re back. Pounding to start, then Rock clotheslines Angle out. Whips him into Taker’s bike and delivers a tailbone-pounding suplex on the ramp. Angle recovers and puts Rock in the ring. Some chops and then... OH MY GOD, IT’S CHRIS BENOIT!!!! No... not really. But with all those chops and the trifecta German suplexes, I got confused. He looks so much like Benoit when he uses most of Benoit’s moves. Angle gives us the best parts of other wrestlers: Shamrock’s insane anklelock, Al Snow’s moonsault, Rikishi’s Samoan drop (“But he turns, see, so then it’s, like, an ummm... ‘Angle Slam’ ”) and Benoit’s chops and suplexes. Give him a Lou Thesz press and a spinebuster, and we can fire all the other wrestlers. Angle can stand in the ring, do everyone’s moves and wrestle with shadows. Although, for that, I guess he might need a sharpshooter, too.

Rant over. More match. Rock makes some feeble comebacks, but Angle is in control. He baits Taker, and puts Rock in a chinlock to eat some time. Rock fights back but walks into a Samoan AngleDrop. Rock kicks out. He hits the Dragon “pat casually at the other guy’s leg” Screw and clamps on the sharpshooter. Angle makes the ropes. Rock goes for the Rock Bottom — no! Angle clotheslines him. Rock back up... fight to the outside... Taker puts Rock into the crowd. Then back in the ring, Rock busts out of the Anglelock... knocks down an interfering Undertaker... spinebuster on Angle! People’s Elbow attempt is foiled by Undertaker, and the ref finally notices that interference might be happening! (DQ 15:05)

After the match, the typical schmozz ensues. Rock winds up in the Anglelock and sells it big-time. Cue Angle’s music.

In the parking lot, Steph catches up with Triple H and failed humor is the order of the day. Steph begs him to stay with Smackdown, and he says he’ll think about all offers and give his answer at Vengeance. Then he gets in the limo with... Eric Bischoff.

End notes:
Right now Smackdown has so much going for it. Next week we’ll get to see Jericho-Edge and Chavo-Mysterio, plus whatever the other cruiserweights, Stephanie, Triple H, Rock and Angle can provide. But, on the Steph note: I don’t see her adding to Smackdown in any appreciable way. True, tonight she did a good job of playing the babyface for the crowd. But her natural ability to be annoying leaves her with more potential to detract from the show than anything else. She, and the rest of the creative team, will have to work hard to prevent her from downgrading the already extremely watchable aspects of the show.

Also, almost as an afterthought, Michael Cole mentioned in his commentary that all the wrestlers were, in effect, free agents. This goes contrary to the idea of the draft and the brand extension. What’s more, it is pretty insulting that they tried to slip this weaselly piece of storyline hypocrisy into a situation where few would notice. If the WWE is going to break even the most basic of rules because of a poorer-than-basic ability to tell a story, they should at least be up-front and honest about it. Admittedly, the brand extension has not been a rousing success. But, rather than introduce consistency and sense to the storyline, they’d rather go the cheap route and screw any semblance of sense altogether. (They apparently haven’t noticed that less work in the stories has meant less in the ratings, too.) What a fine way to kick off the third Stephanie McMahon era.


Jeb Tennyson Lund is a regular columnist for Citizen Scholar, an online
journal. If you want to read his sadly less wrestling-oriented columns, go
to www.citizenscholar.net.

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