Written by: Scott Keith
– Live from Baltimore, MD
– Your hosts are Tony, Mark and Scott
– Opening match, Cruiserweight title: Chavo Guerrero Jr. v. Disco Inferno . The Misfits and Animals are all lurking around ringside, thus guaranteeing a run-in finish. Chavo gets a quick lariat and bodypress for one. Disco hotshots him, but Chavo uses a sloppy headscissors to send Disco out for a beating. It gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Disco bails and Chavo hits a tope. Animals get some shots in and Disco takes over. Meanwhile, the crazy old man comes down to ringside and fakes a heart attack, just the sort of thing that this boring “wrestling” stuff needed to spruce it up a bit. All sorts of people run in and do their finishers on the guys in the match, with the end result being Chavo on top for the pin to retain. Match was only 4 minutes long and decent while it lasted. **1/4 Major Guns wastes more of my time by “reviving” the old guy. Whatever.
– The Mamalukes v. Kronik. All the top teams in the world are gunning for Palumbo and Stasiak, you know, and this match is proof. I still think calling them “Wrath and Crush” rather than “Bryan Adams and Bryan Clarke ” would be a better way to get them over, but I somehow doubt that letting the Cronik get over is part of the grand plan here. Clarke gets a Rock Bottom on Johnny, and he bails. They fight outside and back in, where Johnny gets a spin kick to take over. Vito is still wearing the Hardcore title, for the four of you that still care about that belt. Kronic takes over as Adams gets a full-nelson slam on Johnny for two. Gutbuster gets two. Cheapshot from the Mamalukes (who the hell are the heels here, anyway?) lets Vito get some shots in, but Adams comes back with a vicious DVD for two. Vito gets the hot (?) tag to Johnny (weren’t they playing heel two minutes ago?) who dumps Adams, but botches his springboard bodyblock and then misses it completely. Well, hell, what was the point of repeating the move if the intention was to miss? You can not-hit the guy just as effectively by doing nothing. Vito decides to roll out and shine up his belt, allowing the Ckrhnoincik to get the “We smoke pot, get it?” double chokeslam for the pin on Johnny. Somewhat decent, although the total lack of defined characters and match flow really killed my enjoyment of it. **3/4
– Ambulance match: Mike Awesome v. DDP. Kanyon is by the entranceway, and to show that us lowly internet fans have now learned to out-think Vince Russo , almost everyone deduced the very first night after Slamboree that Kanyon would turn on DDP here because it was the move that made the least sense and thus no one would be expecting it. See, it’s all about the swerve. It doesn’t matter if the match is good or the turn makes sense or the fans even care about the wrestlers involved, as long as you fool the paying customer. Anyway, DDP and Awesome brawl outside after KO’ing the ref. They do dueling chairs, then Awesome takes over with a splash. Awesome grabs a table and powerbombs DDP through it, and the EMTs put DDP onto a stretcher and try to carry him off, unsuccessfully. Back in, Awesome beats DDP down with a chair. Two frog splashes follow. A third one misses. Kimberly comes out for no good reason, and gets pulled back to the dressing room by Miss Hancock . If there was a reason for this, the announcers didn’t bother to mention it. We head to the top, where DDP gets a top rope Diamond Cutter. EMTs carry Awesome to the back, and DDP follows, and of course Kanyon pops out of the wheelchair and turns on DDP, giving him a Diamond Cutter through the stage. DDP is loaded into the ambulance and loses. Mike Awesome is wasted in this role. *1/2 So getting back to Kanyon for a moment, forgetting the fact that the turn came on a match third from the bottom on a show with an even bigger heel turn in the main event, are we as fans supposed to buy that Kanyon’s injury was real and he was convinced by Bischoff to turn on DDP? Or even worse, are supposed to buy that his injury was fake and he took a 30 foot fall off the top of a three-tiered steel cage and through a ramp in order to sucker in DDP? Haven’t we explored that whole “People turning on DDP” storyline enough in the, oh, LAST THREE PAY PER VIEWS? Do we NEED to see his life turning into a country song? Does anyone even care anymore?
– Booker T v. Shawn Stasiak . To annoy me even more, Booker comes in via a zipline from the upper levels. Sure, take another crap on the death of Owen Hart, why not? Wouldn’t want anyone to think that someone had LEARNED something. Booker hammers on him, and they brawl outside. Into the ring, Booker gets an 8-count. Stasiak comes back with his usual whiter-than-WonderBread offense and we head out again. Shawn suplexes him out on the ramp. Back in, Shawn gets an 8-count. What a boring match. The crowd agrees with me, starting a mass chant along the same lines. Who did Stasiak blow to get a job? Seriously, there’s probably 30 guys in the Power Plant who have the same look, can cut better promos, and vary their offense past “bodyslam, punch, sleeper” on occasion. And speak of the devil, Stasiak goes to the sleeper. Good lord. Booker fights back and gets a uranage for a 7-count. Missile dropkick cues the Palumbo run-in. They beat down Booker (they book two white guys to pound on a black stereotype and they don’t understand why Sonny Onoo is suing them?) but he spins up, nails both with the Lex Flexor, and gets the win. Sure, job your tag champs to one guy, it’s not like anyone cares about the belts anyway. Ѕ*
– “The Frenchfries” Shane Douglas v. The Wall. Wall looks like Kurrgan with that new hairstyle – it’s pretty scary. We do a slow brawl. This is now best 3/5 tables. Kurrgan chokeslams Shane through a table, then backdrops him through another one on the floor. Shane then lures him to the entranceway, where some has CONVENIENTLY set up three tables in a stack, alongside a huge ladder, CONVENIENTLY placed in such a way that someone climbing up it on the side nearest the tables would fall down in just the right way so as to break his fall in the center of the tables. Good thing that someone was on the ball, huh? Anyway, they fight on the ladder, and since Wall is climbing up the table side, it’s only a matter of time before he falls, and he does with the help of a pair of brass knuckles (the weapon of choice tonight), and goes through two tables (called “three” by the announce team). Shane gets the win. If you consider people going through tables to be a satisfying match, I’m sure you loved this. DUD
– US title match: Scott Steiner v. Tank Abbott & Rick Steiner. Why, why, why? Crowd yells for Goldberg as the heels pound on Steiner, but when Tank goes for a chain, Rick stops him. Why? Scott gets it, knocks Tank out, and puts on the REAR CHINLOCK OF DOOM for the submission. When the best thing you can say about a match is “It was short”, you’ve got a problem. -*** At least that’s an improvement over Tank’s average rating.
– Hulk Hogan v. Billy Kidman . I can hear the conversation now: “Well you know, brother, if you’re gonna stick me fourth from the top, at least let me get the win over that punk Kidman”. Kidman has some swank new pyro. I’m sure that’s a huge consolation for being made to look like a jobber every week. Kidman bumps around for Hogan, and bails. Back in, Hogan chokes him out. Wow. Weightlifting belt gets used. Soft of brawl outside follows, although Hogan won’t sell anything. Back in, Kidman gets a DDT that I don’t think ever made contact with the mat. Flying splash gets two. Hulk up time, and the usual punching follows. Out to the floor, Kidman bumps through the announce table. Torrie joins us at ringside, probably so she can make Kidman look bad, too. She hands Hulk some brass knuckles, and Kidman steals them and gets a two count. Kidman knocks out Horace (Would they PLEASE decide if these guys are friends or not?), then Torrie turns on Kidman and Hulk hits him with the brass knuckles and pins him to get his title shot next month. Horace and Hulk reunite…again. That’s, what, 5 times now? Let’s not fool ourselves here – he’s getting the belt and there’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Ѕ* Three turns in one match seems a TAD excessive, too, but what do I know?
– Ric Flair v. David Flair . David gets some nice chops off, leading to an aborted Flair flip from his father. Ric bumps around outside. Back in, David gets a suplex and a sleeper. Huh, some actual wrestling. Ric comes back and lays in the leather. David takes it LIKE A MAN. Russo gets a shot in with the baseball bat and handcuffs Flair. Good thing fans don’t wanna see DQs because that’s a pretty good basis for one right there. David slaps on the worst figure-four this side of the Rock. Weird moment: The ref breaks the hold because David is holding the ropes, despite the fact that Ric is HANDCUFFED, which would seem to be a SLIGHTLY worse transgression on David’s part. Reid Flair comes out of the audience and lowblows Russo, stealing the keys. Ric’s daughter (who’s kind of a hottie, despite having the Flair Nose) then cuffs Russo on the floor. Flair finishes his kid quickly with the figure-four. Thankfully, no blood dropping from the ceiling is involved in the finish. Just call David “Broomstick” because Ric carried him to a good match. *** Russo swears revenge for Nitro, so that 3 million people can watch Flair be humiliated instead of the 40,000 or so who bought this show.
– Human Torch match: Vampiro v. Sting. Sting starts on top of the video wall and invites Vampiro up. Vamp refuses because he’s afraid of heights or something. Whatever. Sting charges the ring and they do a token (and crappy) in-ring sequence that leads to Sting missing a Stinger splash and Vamp dumping “gasoline” on him. The announcers do the time-honored Bobby Heenan clichй of pointing out how bad the smell is. They fight towards the back and climb up the side of the video wall, where the lit torch is located. So Vampiro had the foresight to bring a can of gasoline, but not a Zippo lighter? Because would seem to be more realistic than dumping gas on a guy and then dragging him towards a torch. Hell, even a match would work fine. Sting falls off the side into the gimmicked stage, giving Vampiro time to make it up first. Sting follows, and suddenly we get “thunder and lightning” lighting effects that make the area go light-dark over and over, and thus make it impossible to follow what little action is occuring. Finally, the lights go out and Sting switches places with an obvious stuntman (check the hair length), gets lit on fire, and dives off the screen in a picture-perfect stuntman dive into a large inflatable mattress below. Quick bit of advice: If you’re booking bumps so insane that you need trained professionals to pull them off instead of the people you’re paying to sell tickets, maybe you should think about booking a different finish. This match had ZERO redeeming value and I’d consider it an easy contender for Worst of the Year so far. -*****
– WCW World title match: Jeff Jarrett v. Kevin Nash . The Cat comes out to introduce a bunch of “celebrities”, namely the Filthy Animals doing guest announcing, guest time-keeping, etc. Am I nuts or did the Animals not split off from the New Blood a couple of weeks ago on Thunder? At any rate, the first thing going through my head is that the one thing that this match needs is MASSIVE AMOUNTS OF INTERFERENCE. Punch and kick to start. Everyone suddenly stops for no reason in a weird moment, and stares at the entrance. Nothing comes of it. They brawl into the crowd. Punch, punch. Back to ringside, the Animals take out Nash’s knee. Jarrett gets a figure-four. This is Nash’s dream match – do some punching, then lay around on the mat for 10 minutes. Nash escapes but Konnan magically knocks him out by waving the ringbell in the general direction of his head. I guess the power of suggestion is stronger than we thought. Nash comes back with a sideslam, takes out a bunch of the Animals, and the ref is bumped. Whoo-hoo, a ref bump! RUSSO RULZ! The Cat comes in as special referee to count two for Jarrett. Nash fights off more Animals, but Jarrett gets the Stroke for two. I’d have actually booked it end right there and saved the Big Surprise for after. Nash comes back with a chokeslam, and then powerbombs Miller. Tank and Rick Steiner (who’s apparently had a change of heart about his change of heart) charge the ring, but get nowhere. Then the Goldberg truck comes into the arena, and the man himself follows, and SHOCKINGLY turns on Nash (I can see Vince McMahon calling his lawyers AS WE SPEAK, in outrage over this, even though there’s nothing he can do about it), hitting a weak spear to give Jarrett the pin after about 18 minutes of totally overbooked crap. DUD
The Bottom Line: So the massive disappointment of a Goldberg heel turn aside, what we’re now essentially left with is Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan as the top babyfaces, Jeff Jarrett as a paper champion who is now holding Hogan’s belt, and Goldberg as the top heel, despite the fact that everyone still loves him. I think they might have been trying to duplicate Hogan’s heel turn from 96, but two important differences present themselves:
Goldberg still sold tickets as a babyface.
People were already booing Hogan back then.
This can’t have been done for business, because all common sense says that a strong Goldberg babyface run would draw money, whereas Hogan’s day as the top draw in the company is long past. That leaves shock value, and it also had none because everyone and their brother had predicted “Goldberg turning heel” leading up to the show, usually followed by “would be the stupidest possible scenario”. There’s the “people are talking” factor, but I guarantee you that MANY more of us internet peons were talking about the Benoit defection right before Nitro went to air in January, and that did ZERO for the ratings that night.
As for the show, there was a few decent matches, but overall this thing is gonna be judged on the strength of the Big Surprise, because that’s what the show was sold on by Eric “There’s Nothing Vince McMahon Can Do About It” Bischoff. And it ended up being another Greater Power, so this one’s gonna go down as another black mark against the Ruschoff regime, which is the last thing they need right now with the FOX deal looming so close.