History of the Royal Rumble with KB

Discussion in 'Old School PPV/TV Reviews' started by klunderbunker, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. The Brain

    The Brain King Of The Ring

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    Royal Rumble 1996

    You know KB sometimes we see things differently, partially because of our age difference, but for the most part we see eye to eye and agree on a lot of these events. This is not one of those times. I admit this event doesn’t really stand the test of time. If a 15 year old fan were to watch this today he would probably share your opinion. Despite the action being not so great I love this event. I just remember loving the WWF, or at least the potential, going into 1996. Bret Hart was well established as the top guy. Shawn Michaels was on his way to challenge for that spot. The Undertaker was becoming a legendary figure. Diesel was playing a unique tweener role. Razor Ramon looked like he could finally reach a main event level. We had some proven mid card veterans like Owen, Bulldog, and Jarrett. Hunter Hearst Helmsley seemed like he would fit well into that category. Ahmed Johnson looked like he was going to make a big impact. Goldust was getting all kinds of attention with a very controversial gimmick. Mankind just starting debuting with some interesting promos and looked like he would have something different to offer. I always liked Steve Austin in WCW and was happy to see him in the WWF. And most importantly Vader had finally arrived. I had been looking forward to that for years. While this event may not have been great I associate it with a time of excitement and promise. Now things didn’t exactly turn out like I thought. Bret would take a hiatus after mania. Razor and Diesel would be gone by May. Jarrett even sooner. Ahmed turned out to suck. And while he was ok for a short period they really dropped the ball with Vader. Either way I was loving the WWF at the start of 1996 and I was pumped for the rumble. It was all about Vader. If he debuted only a few weeks earlier I wouldn’t look back at this event as fondly. I couldn’t wait to see Vader debut and whenever I think of this event I remember that feeling of excitement.
     
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  2. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 1997
    Date: January 19, 1997
    Location: Alamodome, San Antonio, Texas
    Attendance: 60,325
    Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Vince McMahon, Jim Ross

    A lot has changed here for once. We’re about as close to the Attitude Era as you can get without actually being in it. The roster is now far closer to being set to what would become the Attitude Era. Bret vs. Austin is in full swing as they had their forgotten classic at Survivor Series. Also we now have guys like Mero and Farrooq, but more importantly, people like Mankind and Rock are here now, so the core is here now.

    As you might have noticed, we’re in Shawn’s hometown in front of a massive audience. Shawn recently lost the title, so I wonder how tonight is going to end. This is around the time that WCW is just flat out kicking ass in the ratings. Raw is averaging I think a 2.0 at this point, and they’re happy with it. It was just flat out bad all around, and you could tell the WWF was in a free fall. This show is actually kind of co-promoted with AAA, the Mexican organization.

    The problem with this is simple: WCW had a deal with every bit of good Luchador talent in the world, so Vince got the bottom of the barrel here for the most part. Anyway, this is an oddly remembered show, so let’s get to it.

    The preshow had three matches with Luchadors, including minis, which included Mini Vader and Mini Mankind. I give up.

    The intro is of course about Shawn, who clearly can’t be blamed for the ratings tanking. I’m being partially serious there, as there was no one that was going to be able to take on Hogan and the NWO at that point. They say that tonight isn’t about accolades, just that WWF Title thingamajig. That twangy music is going to make me punch someone before this show is over. We have French announcers here for some reason.

    Intercontinental Title: HHH vs. Goldust

    Goldust is freshly face here, which granted no one gets including the announcers but whatever. HHH has been climbing the ladder recently, as his push is back on after the Curtain Call aborted it. In short, allegedly the Austin push was supposed to go to HHH, but there was the incident at Madison Square Garden. What happened was it was Nash and Hall’s last night with the company, so after Shawn beat Nash in a cage match, the four of them broke kayfabe and hugged.

    I’m sure you’ve all seen the footage. Nash and Hall were leaving, Shawn was the company at that point, so there was just HHH left to take the fall. Instead of becoming the big deal in June, he had to wait about 6 months before it happened. I’m not sure I buy that, as Austin’s popularity would have been there anyway. Granted it was the KOTR match against Roberts that gave him Austin 3:16, and without that there’s no Austin super boom, so maybe it wouldn’t have happened.

    See what a single promo can do for you? Anyway, HHH had been having different women on his arm every time he came to the ring and he went after Marlena. This set off Goldust and actually got Lawler to ask him on live television if he was a queer (Lawler’s word). This set him off and as HHH tried to steal Marlena, Goldust snapped and we have a title match. HHH has Mr. Hughes with him as his new bodyguard.

    Chyna would debut the next month to shoot him to the stars. Even with two great in ring workers like these, we go straight into a brawl with the steps being used. Security has thrown out two fans that were sitting there for weeks apparently. I’m guessing this is a stupid angle or something and I really could care less. Can we please stay in the ring longer than 45 seconds? Ross and Vince both point this out.

    Both of these guys will be in the Rumble tonight apparently. They’re now doing a bunch of leg work which is an upgrade I guess. It’s still not interesting but it’s better I guess. Hughes has done absolutely nothing at this point. Goldust calls him a piece of shit which even today would be a bit much. This is more or less all Goldust working on HHH’s knee at this point, which at least is a story but it’s odd seeing the face dominate here. HHH gets a one knee curtsey. He was in his blueblood/classical music phase here, which I’ve always thought was an incredibly underrated heel character.

    In the middle of this match, let’s throw it to Todd and some country singer that I’ve never heard of before. He sings a bit on a split screen. You have to be amazed by what Vince will do for a celebrity draw. This has improved a bit but it’s still nothing special. Hughes, who I had forgotten about, throws the IC belt to HHH who kisses Marlena. Goldie pops HHH with the belt but Hughes makes the save. After more Hughes distractions, Goldust walks into the Pedigree and we’re done.

    Rating: C-. This started off bad and then worked its way up to being ok. I don’t like the steps etc. but overall, this was ok. It needed to be about 5 minutes shorter though. HHH was far from what he is today and while he was a rising star, he just wasn’t ready for this long of a match yet. It was coming, but he wasn’t there yet.

    We get comments from one of the WEIRDEST pairings you’ll ever see: Bret Hart and Mankind. They both say tonight will be a long night. Damn that’s just weird thinking about them in the same company, let alone doing anything together.

    Farrooq vs. Ahmed Johnson

    I love the Nation’s entrance. PG-13 were great at what they did, which granted wasn’t much but it worked. This was supposed to be the blowoff match between these two but they were both injured at one point or another so the match never actually happened when it was supposed to, making this way after it meant anything. The Nation was freaking massive at this point, even having actors hired to make it look even bigger.

    That’s saying a lot when you think about it. Johnson tried to get a catchphrase of You’re Going Down out of this but it didn’t work at all. Basically they’re fighting over Ahmed not being black enough or something like that. He was supposed to get the world title so there you go. This was actually a decent little feud, but it needed to happen 4-5 months earlier than this. Since it’s 1997, this starts on the floor in a big brawl. I love Vince Russo. Ok not really.

    We go to another big wide shot which I can’t stand as Ahmed whips Farrooq with a belt or something like that. The problem with this match becomes apparent quickly: Ahmed isn’t that good. He never was. He was a huge muscle guy that could be a cool looking powerbomb, period. He was WAY over though at least for awhile, so there’s little complaints that can be made here. Naturally this is mostly brawling but that’s neither here nor there.

    Simmons goes after Ahmed’s kidney of course because only one part of anyone’s body can ever be injured at once. We’ve got a Cowboys jersey on the non camera side so I’m happy. Ahmed hooks a powerslam from the top to take over. The spinebuster from Farrooq ends that pretty quickly though.

    After Ahmed no sells that, the Nation runs in for the cheap DQ. Naturally since they all suck, Ahmed destroys them with relative ease. After Farrooq runs, one of the Nation members who doesn’t have a name goes hand first into the steps and then gets a release butterfly powerbomb through the French announce table.

    Rating: D+. This was pretty bad, but it was supposed to be a street brawl or something so it did that fairly well I suppose. There’s very little here to go on and it wasn’t what it was supposed to be as a blowoff match. They would go at it a few more times without Johnson getting a clean win that I can remember. Not a bad fight, but this just didn’t have a ton of interest in it.

    Terry Funk says he was born for this and is Texas bred.

    Todd is with the Nation who says it’s not over. You can see an almost afro wearing D’lo brown in the background.

    Vader vs. Undertaker

    If you’re looking for a story here, you’re wasting your time. I mean literally, this was thrown on the card without a story. Vader had been attacking Taker a bit in huge groups but never on his own. I guess it was just kind of a big match thing to it, so there we are. Taker beat up Cornette a few weeks ago but it wasn’t directly referenced as a reason for the feud. Taker’s entrance is just made of awesome.

    I mean if there was a thong of awesome, it would be made of Taker’s entrance. Ross says that Taker hasn’t done well at the Rumble since his debut here in 1993. Ok let’s see. In 1991 it took both members of the Legion of Doom to eliminate him. In 1992 it took Hulk Hogan to eliminate him. In 1993 a guy interfered and eliminated him. In 1994 it took 10 men to beat him in a world title match. In 1995 he beat IRS clean.

    In 1996 he beat Bret Hart, who was then WWF Champion. In other words, he’s been in three world title matches and in a way has gone 1-1-1 in them, lost in the Rumble twice which I consider to be ties, and won another match, giving him a record of 2-1-3, with the one loss being in a cheating fashion and the other by a guy that wasn’t in the match. Yep, he completely sucks here Ross.

    Why can’t they ever get the years right either? For years I remember them saying he debuted at the 91 Survivor Series, which obviously isn’t true either. Naturally, Vader’s offense isn’t working that well against Taker as he keeps sitting up. Taker hits a Fameasser of all things. Who would have seen that one coming? Taker gets a slam and makes it look easy. His strength was completely overlooked a lot of the time.

    We get a verbal jab from Ross at Hogan, saying that no one in company history has dropped a leg like Taker. Old School is countered and we’re both down. After a low blow from Vader, we throw it to Todd in the crowd with some girl that apparently follows Shawn Michaels around the country. I’m not saying a word on this one. We now return you to the PPV at hand.

    Jerry points out slyly how completely freaking stupid that was to do in the middle of a match, showing that he’s the second coming of Bobby Heenan. He throws in a Kentucky reference to make it even better. This is more Taker than Vader here. His power is just freaking scary to say the least. He throws Vader around more than once, including a very solid looking chokeslam.

    Just as Taker signals for the Tombstone, the ONLY former Wrestlezone admin allowed to work for WWF, Paul Bearer hits the arena as pale as ever. Taker puts Vader on the floor and goes after Paul. Vader saves Uncle Paul but gets knocked to the floor by Taker again. Vader gets control again on the floor with Bearer apparently aligning himself with Vader.

    BEARER GOES AIRBORNE!!! He jumps at Taker with the urn and actually takes him down! That was freaking AWESOME!!! This allows for the Vader Bomb to end it as Taker actually is pinned in something close to being clean. That hardly ever happens. He beats up the referee afterwards.

    Rating: C+. Taker looked great here. Vader was dominant to an extent, but he never once came close to doing anything special after Shawn beat him at Summerslam 96. After that he began a decline into eventually being a jobber which is never fun.

    Taker’s power was insanely impressive here as he hit all kinds of big moves that you just don’t see done on Vader like ever. This was impressive to me. Vader getting the win was good as Taker certainly didn’t need it and Vader might have gotten the biggest win of his WWF tenure.

    Austin says he has nothing to say about the Rumble, which takes longer than it takes Bulldog to say he’s going to win because he has success in Rumbles and he’s bizarre. I have no idea what he means there and can only guess he botched a line or something like that. It was bizarre indeed.

    Jerry Estrada/Heavy Metal/Fuerza Guerrera vs. Perro Aguayo/El Canek/Héctor Garza

    I’ve only heard of three of these guys so naturally I just don’t know anything about REAL wrestling. I think this was an attempt to cash in on what WCW was doing at the time with the luchadors, but at the same time, of the five with known ages, two of them are under 38 years old at this point. See, it’s hard to compete with guys like Rey Mysterio, Juventud Guerrera and Ultimo Dragon with you have guys that literally could be their fathers wrestling.

    We start with Garza and Metal as Vince can’t remember who is who. I think the referee is from AAA as well. Ok, so I’m done with the match at this point, and instead of a recap, I’m going to go with just what I noticed as a whole since I know nothing about these guys or why they would be fighting etc. First of all, old guys do not make for very exciting matches. Aguayo was a flat out embarrassment out there. He could barely move and blew a ton of spots including the end (his team won).

    Second, Canek is strong as hell, but he used at least 5 gorilla press slams in this. One or two are fine, but when you’re getting up into that many, it shows your offense is limited at best. Monty Brown had this problem. Third, this was just boring as hell. See, this was one of the first matches of this style ever in the WWF.

    When WCW busted this stuff out, they had Rey Mysterio, the undisputed king of that style here in America. When he debuted in WCW, he tore the house down. Here, the people were asleep. I mean this was the most dead I have ever seen a crowd. This didn’t work at all.

    Rating: F. I already explained this. It was just a waste of time as well as bad.

    With literally no transition, we’re at this.

    Royal Rumble

    We’re back to 90 seconds again this year, because having that lucha match was FAR more important than the match the show is named for of course. Crush of the Nation is first and Ahmed is second. I just can’t believe that at all! Apparently Crush has longer odds of winning than Ahmed. Why would that be the case? They start at the same time. If nothing else Ahmed is at a disadvantage because he doesn’t get a short break while the other guy is walking to the ring.

    There’s a sign in the crowd saying WWF: Wild Wacky Fun. Well ok then. Crush jumps him, even though he had no advantage at all according to Ross. Vince calls Ahmed the wrong name. The crowd isn’t hot here but they’re certainly awake and paying attention unlike the previous match. Granted it’s just the first two. Also the clock isn’t working at first, so we don’t have a countdown or anything like that.

    3 is the fake Razor, who has no music because of the clock but it doesn’t matter as Ahmed ends him after about 15 seconds. Lawler points out Ahmed’s tights that would never die. Those things always rode up and it was annoying as hell. Farrooq is in the entry way so Ahmed jumps over the top rope, eliminating himself to go after him. That made me shake my head. Phineas Godwin (Mideon) is next.

    Sweet damn I love Hillbilly Jim’s music. Austin is #4. Now remember, here he’s still just a midcard/semi main event heel that runs his mouth a lot. He hasn’t actually won anything yet and we haven’t had the I Quit match that catapulted him into superstardom. Think of the Miz when he went after Cena. He was loud and great on the mic, but no one bought him because he hadn’t done anything yet.

    As of this writing (2 weeks before Survivor Series) he’s the US Champion and looking far better than he ever has before. He’s believable with the belt, which is all he needed to be. Austin gets very little reaction here mainly due to the clock which keeps people from knowing when someone is coming, and the reasons I just listed. Anyway, he and Crush team up but that doesn’t work and Phineas takes out Crush.

    He turns around into a Stunner though and after some trash talking, he’s gone. Bart Gunn, still looking like a porn star (why are they all stars? Can’t they just be porn actors/actresses?) is fifth. He lasts about 30 seconds, although he hits what would become known as the Fameasser. Austin even does the Steiner pushups as he’s just cocky as hell.

    You can see all the classic mannerisms and awesomeness inside of him just dying to break through. Jake Roberts is sixth, and remember he’s the guy Austin beat for the King of the Ring and the reason for the 3:16 speech. Ross says Jake wants one more shot at glory. When did he ever have glory in the first place? He was a career midcard guy that is remembered for having the best finisher ever.

    Bulldog is seventh and while he’s on his way Jake is thrown out. Apparently Bulldog hates Austin, which I don’t entirely remember. He hits a modified powerslam that’s completely ignored by the announcers. The best wrestler ever from England his what is undeniably his signature move and no one says a word about it. He was supposed to have been made a big main event level guy and even get the title at one point, but Vince was in so much financial trouble that he changed him mind.

    That’s why you had Sid as champion. It was originally going to be Smith, which I think would have certainly been more interesting. Smith got the first ever European Title as a compromise, so in other words he got the very short end of the stick. He certainly would have been better than Sid as Sid just wasn’t very good in the ring while Smith could work a great match if he was in there with the right guy. He and Owen are tag champions here also.

    Pierroth, another luchador, is next to no reaction again. He’s 39 here. Vince, GET YOUNG GUYS IF YOU INSIST ON DOING THIS! We get our first bit of information about one of the new guys: Pierroth is a rule breaker. See, that helps a lot. Not being sarcastic there. We’re told that by people who are supposed to have insight on the subject, so therefore we trust it. The Sultan (Rikishi) is 10th as we’re going fast here but it’s kind of working.

    Considering Pierroth is a heel, he’s only going after other heels. Actually, all four of them are heels so never mind. 11th is Mil Mascaras. Now he’s old, but he’s a flat out legend. He would be like Ric Flair here in America, with Blue Demon as Austin and Santo as Hogan. Also, he gets a pop and a half, easily the biggest of the match so far. I’ll adjust what I said earlier to Vince: get old guys that are well known in America, like this one.

    Mascaras is also known for no selling stuff, even for big names like Foley who criticized him to no end in his book, as did Jericho. There it is already as Sultan hits a belly to belly and Mascaras pops up almost immediately. HHH is twelfth as this thing has been flying by. To recap, we have Smith, Sultan, Austin, Mascaras, HHH and Pierroth at the moment. Bulldog puts Sultan out to clear us out a bit but 5-7 is fine to have in there.

    Austin and HHH go at it which just feels right. Owen is in at 13. He and Austin go at it as we’re not getting a ton of reactions here. The crowd is ok, but not great at all. Scratch that, as Austin is nearly out and the crowd waked up. Bulldog almost puts him out but Owen dumps Smith to piss him the fuck off. These counts definitely aren’t 90 seconds. Goldust is 14th. For some reason we don’t cut to him when he enters. That’s very different.

    Mascaras’ tights are covering his belly button. That just looks odd indeed. Cibernetico gets us to the halfway point. He’s 20 years old so if nothing else he should be able to fly pretty well. He’s really well known for having a unique style that a lot of indy guys use. Marc Mero starts the second half as Cibernetico is thrown out. Pierroth gets thrown out by Mascaras, who jumps out after him, which based off everything I can see was a legit mistake.

    The fans are booing the hell out of it too. Goldust puts out HHH. We have Mero, Owen, Austin and Goldust here. Seventeenth is Latin Lover, who has what looks like the Playboy bunny on his tights. He’s considered a rip off of Shawn, as the names are similar and both use the superkick. It’s allegedly just a coincidence but whatever. Apparently Mero and Sable aren’t fighting anymore. Thanks for the update.

    Owen throws out Goldust and Farrooq ia 18th. He puts Latin Lover out. Austin and Farrooq go at it which could have been a sweet as hell feud. Ahmed runs out with about an 8 foot long 2x4 and beats on Farrooq a bit, as he eliminates himself. Austin puts out Owen and Mero and we’re down to just Stone Cold. He’s quickly joined by Savio Vega who had a bad feud for awhile. Austin puts him out with about his 5th clothesline of the night in less than 30 seconds.

    That’s his 6th put out of the night. Road Dogg (called Jesse James here) is 20th. He lasts a bit longer but still less than a minute. The Outlaws were coming soon though, saving his career. And there it is: in the moment of the match, Austin is looking down as the buzzer goes off, and it’s Bret Hart.

    The look on Austin’s face absolutely makes this match. It is so perfect as he’s like OH SHIT as Bret not quite power walks down to the ring. Austin says bring it on, Bret does just that. The fans are, in a word, insane for this. The scary thing is, despite having a classic at Survivor Series and a classic moment here, their next match would blow this out of the water.

    In a very funny spot, Lawler is 22nd. He leaves by saying “It takes a king…” and then gets in the ring. Bret punches him out in 4 seconds, and his first thing back on the mic is “to know a king.” That was awesome. Fake Diesel (Kane) is 23rd. Now he actually could have worked, simply because he looks a lot like Diesel if you avoid close-ups of his face. He beats both guys down as we’re way too close to the end already.

    Terry Funk is 24th as X is happy. He almost had gotten fired for cursing like Terry Funk would on Shotgun the previous night. Shotgun was a GREAT idea for what it was: an “adult” show that was broadcast from a different place in New York every week. It was way ahead of its time but in the next year or so it would be average which is what killed it. Rocky Maivia is next. He’s a rookie here, but DAMN look at the talent in there.

    All world champions, all eventual hall of fame members (yes, Kane belongs in there). We add to the talent with my all time favorite wrestler: Mankind. In an interesting note, other than Hart, Foley has been tag champions with everyone in the ring. That’s impressive to me. It’s very rarely seen, but Austin has a tattoo of Texas on his left calf. I’ve never seen that before. Flash Funk (2 Cold Scorpio), a pimp without being called one, is 27th.

    It’s a shame he was old here, as he was one of the most talented guys I’ve ever seen. We up the ante a bit more with Vader here at 28. Lawler is back to his hatred of Bret Hart which never gets old. Austin goes for Vader and is promptly killed. A funny bit to this match is Lawler “forgetting” he was in this match. To bring the awesome run of talent to a screeching halt, Henry Godwin is 29th.

    I know I haven’t recapped much here, but there haven’t been a ton of people in the ring at once until the end here so there wasn’t really a need for it that I saw. The clock runs down, and the lights go out. A gong sounds, and the fans ERUPT. Taker is apparently a hero here, as they tease him turning heel. That wouldn’t happen for almost two years so it doesn’t matter.

    At the moment, we have Austin, Hart, Fake Diesel, Funk, Rock, Mankind, Flash Funk, Vader, Henry Godwin and Taker. Which of those just doesn’t belong? Notice a big key here: a clear winner doesn’t exist.

    Bret would be the most likely candidate, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be him. Taker winning wasn’t out of the question, Vader got a big win earlier and had beaten Bret on Raw recently, Austin was always a wildcard, Mankind had been more or less unstoppable recently, and Rock was the golden rookie. See what I mean? There are legit options in there other than Bret, which instantly makes this more interesting than last year’s ending.

    Austin takes a chokeslam in a rivalry that will flat out never die. Taker punching the man that would become Kane just feels right. Damn that would happen in less than a year. Vader puts out Flash as Rock punches Taker. There are just a ton of awesome matches in there. Other than Godwin and arguably Flash (if he was given his original gimmick: a bad ass fighter that could fly like a cruiserweight, he could have been a big deal in the company.

    Think AJ Styles, but 4 inches taller, a bit heavier and black and you have Scorpio. He’s 32 here, so it’s not like he was some old guy at the time. He’s younger than Austin. Godwin calls a spot to Taker. Austin has done a ton of those tonight, but the beauty of his character is you can very plausibly say he’s just talking trash to the guy he’s beating on. Rock and Bret Hart go at it and DAMN that was weird to type.

    It’s a total dream match but that might be the most they’ve ever gone at it. In a spot that I really liked, Godwin hits Taker in the back and Taker rises up, grabs him by the throat and gives him a look that says, “Boy are you CRAZY???” and throws him over with EASE. Taker was scary strong.

    Ok, so to recap, we have eight people left. Of these 8, counting WCW/NWA/WWF reigns, you have the following: 37 world titles, 17 midcard (US/IC) titles, and 40 tag titles. That’s not counting anything from ECW (either incarnation) or Foley’s TNA stuff, the Streak, the 13 Wrestlemanias they’ve main evented, or the 6 combined Rumble wins of these guys.

    Think of it like this: on average, these guys all have about four and a half world title reigns, 2 midcard titles and 5 tag titles, just from WWF/WCW. That’s INSANE. Anyway, Foley puts out Rock as Vader beats on Kane which is an interesting match. Ross says that Foley and Funk are great athletes. There’s something amusing about that. They’re both gone but they brawl to the back anyway just because it’s fun for them.

    Also, because it allows for a very interesting ending. The referees are trying to get them to stop fighting, and while they do it, Bret throws Austin out clean. Key to it though: the referees DO NOT see it and Austin slides back in. He throws out Taker and Vader on his own (damn), just as Bret throws out Diesel.

    Austin dumps Bret, and wins the Rumble. The people are PISSED, but not as badly as Bret. He goes insane and with complete justification. He says he’s tired of getting screwed, and the heel turn can be seen inside of him. Bad opening, awesome ending.

    Rating: C+. Like I said, the beginning of this isn’t that great. They saved the best for last though as the last third of this field is insanely amazing. You could see Austin with the superstar inside of him just dying to break out and save the company, but it would take the buildup here and the career making performance in two months to get him and the company to the promised land in 15 months. They were really taking a chance here, and I think it paid off.

    We get a short recap of Shawn vs. Sid, which is about having a bad attitude. I think you know where that’s going. Make that long. They recap the Survivor Series match and some other random fights which were pretty weak. Shawn says there will be 71,000 here. It’s more like 60,000 but whatever. The crowd looks awesome if nothing else.

    Shawn, who apparently has the flu, says that he’ll step up when it matters and Sid is a coward or something like that. Again he says there are 71,000 there and that’s just flat out not right. We see Shawn and Jose coming to the ring. Shawn is wearing sleeves without a shirt, but the sleeves are made of tiny mirrors, as are his chaps. Nope, he’s not self obsessed at all. You can hear the pop already.

    WWF Title: Shawn Michaels vs. Sid

    Sid took the title from Shawn after working for him for a little while. He hit him with a camera at Survivor Series and took the belt after beating up Shawn’s old manager, Jose. He became the only person to beat Hart and Michaels in this era which completely boggles the mind. In a REALLY cool shot, we follow Shawn and Jose through the back and then through the curtain so we almost see it from his perspective. It looked awesome.

    The pop is all there too as Shawn is the complete hometown hero. Some fan has a REALLY loud whistle right next to the mics and it’s annoying as hell. For once in his miserable announcing career, Vince doesn’t talk over a cool intro which is nice. Sid starts coming through the back and the heat is there already. Based on the crowd reaction, this should be at least very good. I love Sid’s music. The ticked off fist pump he did was cool also.

    For some reason whenever there’s a neon light it makes his hair look green. The pyro was cool too as it was his name on fire above the ring. If only he could have a decent match to save his life he would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. They have the stare down and the crowd pops. Jerry and Ross show their chemistry until Vince decides that such bullshit cannot occur so he interjects himself into it, which can be translated into JR and King can get a line in here and there if they’re lucky.

    For the sake of preventing a riot, Shawn takes control early. It’s a brawl to start us off, which is fine I guess. Shawn is playing Superman here. Shawn in the red and blue wouldn’t work though. Not sure why, but it just wouldn’t at all. Ok, we’re two minutes into the match and Sid is using a camel clutch. Oh this is going to be a long match isn’t it?

    Psycho Sid might be the most indy name I’ve ever heard in my life. Apparently this is the last time Jose will come to the ring with Shawn. That’s good to know I guess. We’re still in the camel clutch by the way. I’m getting tired of these bad timing things that I keep doing. Sid is of course working on the back, apparently to set up for the power bomb.

    It’s not like the bomb works exclusively on the back. It works on everything at once. You just get dropped through the air and stop really fast. How much back work needs to have been done?

    We go to another rest hold since Sid has a higher quota of them than Orton does for chinlocks. Sid taunts the crowd and beats on Shawn some more. We’re in a bearhug now just to make sure that the crowd is as dead as possible to set up the massive pop for the comeback. To be fair though, the crowd never really slows down at all. Vince suggests that Shawn is the underdog.

    You mean the CHAMPION that beat the CHALLENGER might be favored? Get this man a Pulitzer. Actually just name it the Vince. That’s never going to be topped, ever. Sid hits a leg drop that I don’t think he used until he had his bad feud with Hogan in 92. Despite having had his back worked on all match, Shawn hits a relatively easy slam. Ross points out how odd this is as Shawn starts his standard ending sequence.

    Sid avoids the kick and we’re on the floor now. He hits the power bomb on the floor and the announcers declare Shawn dead. Sid grabs Jose and Jose’s son, so Shawn pops up. Naturally, I mean he was just dropped about 9 feet onto near concrete so why not be up in 9 seconds? Back in the ring the referee is out as Sid hits his chokeslam (called a goozle or something like that by Vince). Shawn gets out of the count from referee numero dos.

    He gets popped by Sid so thanks for coming. To cap off the mini feud, Shawn pops Sid in the back like Sid did to Shawn at Survivor Series. Sid doesn’t go down, so Shawn waits for him to turn around and….taps him in the chest with it…to get the cover and a two count. Chin music ends it and the massive celebration is on. We keep cutting back to Jose’s son for no apparent reason other than to be annoying I guess. He’s just a pest for some reason. He looks like a slacker.

    Ross says that there’s a lot of class in Shawn. The I Lost My Smile speech would be in less than a month so take that for what it’s worth. Shawn hugs a guy in a Calgary Hitmen shirt. I love that. We plug the next PPV (without a name, it would be called Final Four which was a good show) and we’re out to more Shawn worship.

    Rating: C+. It could have been worse. That’s the answer I’m going with here: it could have been worse. This was really just a way to hand Shawn the title back in a big match. It had me thinking of Cena vs. Jericho at Survivor Series 2008, where it was really just a token title match to get the belt back on Shawn. There’s nothing wrong with that and this was fine for what it was.

    If you were expecting Sid to keep the belt here, I’d recommend a head operation. I have no idea what kind but just a general one would do. Like I said, Shawn would forfeit about a month later and the #1 contenders match scheduled for Final Four would become for the title.

    That night was supposed to be Sid vs. Shawn 3 with Shawn winning and dropping the belt back to Bret at Mania 13, allegedly with a Sharpshooter where Shawn’s leg would be “broken” complete with sound effects, leading up to Shawn winning the series 2-1 at Summerslam and getting the title back to drop to Austin. Granted that’s all according to Bret so take it with a bottle of salt.

    The feud got thrown out when Shawn made a reference to Bret having Sunny Days ahead or something on TV, which more or less outed Bret as sleeping with Sunny to his wife and the company, so Bret challenged Shawn to a fight I think and Shawn conveniently hurt his knee up and lost his smile between the two matches. Anyway, the match was ok but not great so there we are.

    Overall Rating: C+. There’s an aspect I’ve touched on but not directly talked about here that makes this a weird show and that’s the crowd. As you all know, a crowd can make or break a show. This crowd did neither and it kind of parallels what I thought of it. The crowd here was silent a lot, but when they got into something they got into it hardcore. That fits really well here, as all night long this show either really worked or completely bombed.

    The opening stuff is just ok, Vader/Taker was just a good old fashioned fight, the six man was just completely horrid, I liked the Rumble, and the main event was what it was. I think this is one of those shows where what it sets up is far more important than the show itself, but that part was still pretty good. If you’re a fan of this era, check out the Rumble and the main event and maybe Taker vs. Vader (definitely if you’re a Taker fan as he looked great in it) but pass on the rest as it’s just bland as hell.
     
    #27
  3. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 1998
    Date: January 18, 1998
    Location: San Jose Arena, San Jose, California
    Attendance: 18,542
    Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

    We have seen our savior and he is called Austin. So it’s official: Steve Austin ranks somewhere just below boobs in terms of popularity at this point and is the undisputed king of the company. There’s just one thing: he’s not the world champion yet. It’s about as clear as you can make it that Austin is going to win the title at Mania, so this is another formality. However, a few things have happened in the last two months or so.

    Number one: Montreal. We have no Bret Hart and Shawn and Vince are now pure evil, especially the latter. The other thing is Starrcade 97, where Hogan’s ego has managed to almost single handedly kill the massive lead that WCW was enjoying. Therefore, even though the results are clear, they have to do this right because if they do, the WWF could actually catch up to WCW (which they did).

    Your other main event tonight is Shawn vs. Taker in a casket match, and you know what happens there. I’ve always felt the main event should have been someone else but I’ll get to that later. Anyway, Kane is now apparently face and will be here to help Taker, and you know he wouldn’t ever do anything like turn on him 6 days after joining him or anything like that.

    As for the rest of the show, the roster has filled out a lot more now with a lot of the familiar Attitude Era people there now, such as Shamrock, Rock in his more famous form, face Mankind and the Outlaws. Actually a lot of the wrestlers are the same but now they’re in their best forms, which is often the most important part. I have decent memories of this show and it’s certainly important as far as history goes so let’s get it started.

    The opening video is about being champion, which is what the show is mainly about so at least it makes sense. The set for the Rumble isn’t elaborate yet as it’s still the circular one that was used for years. Why were there always blimps in the arenas for these things? I’ve never gotten the point of that. Oh yeah Mike Tyson is here tonight too in what turned out to be a big deal for the company as far as going mainstream went. DAMN he is getting booed out of the arena.

    Vader vs. Goldust

    This is actually the Artist Formerly Known As Goldust but I didn’t want to type that out more than once so he’s just Goldust in this. Let’s see: green hair and what we’ll call yellow and blue striped tights. More or less he’s just insane at this point where he’s expressing himself or something like that. It never made a ton of sense but it was different if nothing else.

    Vader has just fallen through the floor as far as meaning anything went by this point for no reason that I’ve ever been able to come up with. Well I’ll give him this: he’s still energetic as hell and the fans are WAY into him. Of course that means he’s not worthy of being anything but a jobber in Vince’s company, so there we go. Lawler actually says that he’s glad Goldust is back in men’s clothing for this match.

    I think that sums up the Attitude Era pretty well. Vader is just beating the hell out of Goldust at this point. He throws Goldie into the stairs in the worst, weakest looking shot I’ve ever seen. Goldust stopped about 6 inches before he hit them and then tapped them. It looks horrible. We have a hot crowd if nothing else. After a decent comeback, Goldust kisses Vader, and you know what’s coming next.

    Apparently Austin isn’t here yet. Why is it that he never got to the arena on time? After putting him down, Vader sets for the Vader Bomb. This takes literally thirty seconds. He deserved the low blow he got from that. There is little more entertaining to me than a big guy just dropping the ass on someone else.

    In a cool looking visual, Luna jumps on Vader’s back as he’s setting for the Bomb again. He’s like fuck it who cares and does the move with her on his back. The sight of Luna flying through the air and just stopping dead when Vader lands is great for some reason. Naturally this ends it.

    Rating: B-. For an opener, this was a very good choice. The fans were into Vader and he looked quite solid out there. It was a standard beatdown and the ending spot looked cool. It wasn’t epic and it wasn’t supposed to be, so this was exactly right and I’m perfectly fine with it. For the life of me I don’t get the complete lack of push for Vader.

    Austin is here and the Godwins follow him. Apparently all 29 other guys want to kill him.

    Max Mini/Mosaic/Nova vs. Battalion/El Torito/Tarantula

    Yep it’s a mini match. Sunny is referee here to give anyone a reason to care. The three faces combine to weigh less than 260lbs. That’s just amusing. They kept having these matches for no apparent reason other than an attempt at capitalizing on the Luchador craze, which I guess was a better idea than trying to use bad luchadors like they would do in a few months. Max weighs 87lbs and is fast as hell if nothing else.

    Everyone has very generic gimmicks with Batallion being an army guy or something. We’re about two minutes into this and we just saw our 8th arm drag. It’s Trios rules here as in if one of the guys goes to the floor, that’s the same as a tag. We go split screen to look at Tyson who looks like he’s hamming it up for the camera, and to his credit he looks genuine at least. Like I’ve said a dozen times: if you don’t want to be there, at least try to look interested, and Tyson is certainly doing that.

    The crowd doesn’t care about anyone in there other than Max. For no apparent reason, Sunny helps Max throwing dropkicks at the other guys. It made no sense but it got a pop so there we go. We hit the floor and there they go. It’s your standard everyone runs to the ropes and hits a big move and it works really well here.

    I’ll say this for these guys: they’re not boring. They’re not particularly interesting but they’re not boring either. Max goes to the top (which to be fair is like from the top of a cage for a normal size guy) and hits a rana which leads to a cradle for the pin. This was so far ahead of last year’s Lucha stuff that I can’t even see it back there.

    Rating: B-. Again, it wasn’t great, but it was exciting if nothing else. It kept you paying something close to attention so that’s better than nothing at all. Max was more over than all 5 other guys combined so it was smart to have him be the focus of the match.

    Granted that might be because he was by far the most talented. Compared to last year’s old guys doing nothing for 11 minutes, this was a good deal shorter at about 8 minutes which helped it out a lot. That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but three minutes can mean a big difference in a match. Think about how many matches you’ve seen that are about three minutes long. A lot of TV matches are, so there’s time to do a good amount of stuff in there. By keeping this one shorter it was FAR better.

    The Nation is looking for Austin but all they find is a foam finger.

    Vince and Shane are with Tyson. Shane looks so much more comfortable talking to him than Vince does.

    We get a recap of Shamrock vs. the Nation, including Henry turning on him to join the Nation. This was when Rock was taking the leadership of the group over from Farrooq and is also IC Champion at the time, having been handed the title after Austin forfeited the belt to go after the World Title. Cole is with the Rock as we cut to a clip from the Free For All of the Nation arguing over who would win the Rumble.

    Cole says that apparently there are problems in the Nation. Rock says apparently you’re an idiot. I love Rock ripping on Cole. It was always priceless. Rock offers advice to Clinton, continuing his gimmick of offering his input on social matters of the time as only he could. It helped play up the People’s Champion thing, and more importantly led to an interview with Gennifer Flowers at Mania where he debuted a rather famous line because of it, if you smell what I’m cooking.

    Intercontinental Title: Rock vs. Ken Shamrock

    Rock comes out alone here. The crowd is way behind Shamrock here as Rocky was flat out hated. We start with a fairly long feeling out period and then we all of a sudden get going. Shamrock is pretty good at the moves he could do, but the problem is he didn’t have a ton of things that he could do well. Since we’re in the Attitude Era, there’s a lot of brawling going on here which makes sense for Shamrock at least.

    What doesn’t make sense though is Rock being able to go toe to toe with Shamrock in that area. If he’s supposed to be the best fighter of all time like JR keeps telling us, Rock is amazing as hell then. In an amusing bit, Rock goes for a chinlock but does the arm motion that he would do for the People’s Elbow by swinging his arm around really slowly to hook the chinlock on. I love that.

    JR says this isn’t the seniors’ tour which is a clear jab at WCW and how much they fucked up the previous month’s show. As Shamrock goes insane, here’s Kama to allow Rock to get some knucks to knock out Shamrock. Now in a brilliant move Rock puts them in Shamrock’s tights. Ken kicks out and hits a belly to belly for the pin and the title. Rock gets up a bit later and says to check his tights. You can see the ending coming from here and the decision is reversed.

    In a great moment, the referee is checking his tights and points to the crotch and asks what is that? It’s as humorous as it sounds. Yep, the referee gets the ankle lock too. They would do a similar screw job ending at Mania where Shamrock was named the winner again but didn’t get the title again. Rock would finally lose the belt at Summerslam in an epic ladder match with HHH. On a replay we see Rocky hitting him with the knucks.

    We also see the problem with it as the knucks are on the back of Rock’s hand, but the way Rock throws punches, the part where the brass is sticking out wouldn’t have touched Ken’s head, but why should we care about that?

    Rating: C+. This was what it was. It wasn’t meant to be anything great and they didn’t try to make it something it wasn’t which is the smart thing to do. The ending was at least somewhat creative so they get points for that. I don’t get why they did the same kind of ending at Mania, but whatever. This was fine. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible given what they had to work with here.

    We see exclusive footage of Rock in his locker room taking off his boots when Shamrock jumps him. For some reason Shamrock has had time to take a shower and put on jeans while Rock doesn’t even have his boots off yet, despite Rock having left first.

    Los Boricuas are looking for Austin. They find the DOA instead and of course they fight like they did for months. I think a combined 5 people cared in all those fights.

    We recap the LOD vs. the Outlaws which more or less consists of old school vs. new and it’s not that interesting but it’s ok I guess. Basically the LOD are old and cool and the Outlaws are pricks. Nothing is different I guess. Oh and they beat up the LOD and shaved Hawk’s head while wearing Cartman shirts. Seeing South Park being considered cutting edge and underground stuff is just ridiculous to think of.

    Tag Titles: New Age Outlaws vs. Legion of Doom

    They’re wearing Favre jerseys for no apparent reason. Oh apparently Favre just beat the 49ers and we’re in the Bay Area. Hawk and Animal look at clips of them being beaten up and say that this is about pride or something. Animal is completely insane in this promo. Why are the LOD referred to as American Originals? I’ve never gotten the point to that reference. I’m sorry to shock those of you with heart conditions, but this starts out as a brawl. I know I can’t believe it either.

    The heels try to run and naturally that doesn’t work at all. JR actually mentions the Horsemen on a WWF program. He follows that up by saying this might be a matter of time, more or less giving away the ending. There’s zero flow to this match at all. It’s just random insanity and I don’t recall any tagging here at all. That’s fine in spurts but it needs some sort of structure to be legitimate at all.

    To further the insanity here, Hawk gets handcuffed to the turnbuckle while the injured Animal is beaten on. We shift over to a one on two match here with Animal fighting for all he’s worth. He hits a powerslam and has it won when a chair from Road Dogg breaks it up for the DQ as we STILL can’t have a clean ending in a match that means anything. They start the beatdown, but Hawk and the power of the 80s breaks the handcuff and after a bunch of chair shots, the LOD reign supreme.

    Rating: D+. This match can almost sum up everything about the Attitude Era as a whole. You have a classic team like the LOD that got world title shots back in the 80s and then you have these two guys that aren’t great workers to begin with but get heat based off of shock tactics. There was little tagging and most of this match was brawling. There’s the Attitude Era in a few lines.

    Some chick in Tennessee wins Austin’s truck.

    We get a recap about how Austin is a marked man or whatever. In other words we get a package to futher drill into our heads that Austin will indeed win the Rumble tonight.

    Royal Rumble

    Fink claims that it’s every 2 minutes for intervals. It’s really closer to 90 seconds if you pay attention and considering the whole thing lasts 56 minutes, 2 minute intervals are impossible unless the last guy is thrown out before he gets to the ring. Cactus Jack is first and apparently Jack, Dude Love and Mankind got into a fight over who would be in the Rumble and Jack won.

    Second is Chainsaw Charlie, who is more commonly known as Terry Funk in some weird crazy man gimmick. When I say crazy I mean crazier than usual. He brings a fake chainsaw with him, so Foley throws chairs at both him and it, which produce no sparks. There’s about 5 chairs and a saw in the ring and we’re underway. Aww the referee gets the saw out of the ring. Anyway, Funk says for Foley to blast him with a chair so he does.

    Foley hands it to Funk so Funk can have a free shot. This is either cool or mind blowingly stupid. Tom Brandi is 3. Think Santino but less talented and stupider and that’s what you have. In a move that shocks no one, he’s thrown out in about 10 seconds. This is a weird hardcore kind of thing here as Funk has his customary convulsions. Number four is Rock to some weak heat. Ah ok there it is. Foley hits him with a trash can to show off their future hardcore epics.

    The hardcore guys beat him up as Lawler is panicking. Mosh is fifth as I’m starting to hate the Attitude Era. He gets the biggest pop of all five guys so far. Naturally Funk goes for the moonsault and it misses. I don’t get the point in having such an insane start to the match. Phineas is 6th. He and Hank are heels here and it just failed on so many levels. More or less they switched to creepier music and wear the rebel flag so now they’re heels.

    Yeah it bombed big time, so naturally they were pushed for about another year or so until the company woke up and let Hank go and changed Phineas to Mideon. Funk throws some chops and the wooing begins. Number seven is 8-Ball to continue the greatness of this Rumble. Seriously, considering there’s three world champion out there, this is just boring as hell so far. Funk puts out Cactus as the crowd couldn’t care less.

    Allegedly someone has attacked Austin but King won’t say who. Bradshaw replaces Cactus at number 8 to really enhance the greatness in there. Owen Hart is number nine, but Jeff Jarrett and Jim Cornette who were representing the NWA of all things jump him as Ross declares Cornette a stain on the underwear of life. For the love of all things good left in the world, someone lobotomize JR before he hurts himself. For some reason Owen gets huge cheers from Tyson. That’s just odd.

    Owen can’t get in the ring and is just laying on the floor. Steve Blackman is tenth. He’s a complete WWF rookie at this point despite having a ton of experience in other companies before this. We mull around even more as the ring is way too full. All of the guys I’ve listed are in other than Jack and Brandi. Owen is still down as number 11 is D’lo Brown. There are 5 members of the Nation in the Rumble tonight which is kind of impressive.

    Shamrock may have been the guy that got to Austin. Rock goes the hell off on Blackman with some insanely fast kicks. At this point we’re just waiting on some monster to come out and get rid of some of these guys. No one cares as there is zero chance Austin is going to lose.

    Number 12 is Kurrgan. Now this was an interesting character to say the least. He was completely dominant so of course they made him a comedy character by the fall. He gets rid of Mosh so if nothing else he’s done his job. How weird is it to think that Bradshaw of all people would wind up having a 9 month world title reign out of all these guys in there? Mero and Sable come out at 13. Good grief Mero was a depthless character.

    Blackman is gone via Kurrgan. Bradshaw beats on him a bit which at least looks kind of cool. Shamrock comes out to a BIG pop. He goes straight for Kurrgan and knocks him down with relative ease to allow a big group of people to dump him out. In 20 seconds, Shamrock has managed to get the crowd to actually give a damn about the match which the other 12 hadn’t been able to do in almost half an hour. Thrasher comes out at 15.

    The ring is WAY too full at this point. There’s a very loud Sable chant. Lawler keeps talking about how he wants to fight Tyson which is just perfectly good cheap heel heat. 16 is Mankind as we hit one of my all time favorite Rumble bits. Yes, all three of Foley’s personas are in the Rumble. He puts out Funk with relative ease. In a very unintentionally funny moment, Shamrock is trying to get Rock out in the corner.

    The tape freezes just for a second and Shamrock’s arms are under Rock and his head is laid on his stomach and the look on his face looks like he’s lovingly smiling. It’s just great. Anyway Goldust is 17th and this time he’s rocking a silver body suit with painted on women’s lingerie including g-string. The ring is WAY too full here. I would list them all off for you, but it would be Austin Fodder #1, 2, 3, 4 etc. There’s about 10 guys in there and no one cares about most of them.

    Goldust puts out Mankind who wasn’t a big deal just yet. Jarrett is 18th and Owen finally gets in and beats the living hell out of him. After skinning the cat, Owen dumps Jarrett. There’s a big rant coming on Owen later so stick around for that. And from out of nowhere Honky Tonk Man is 19th. Rock puts out Shamrock as HHH and Chyna come out. HHH is hurt and not in the match. Owen tries to get rid of Goldust, allowing HHH and Chyna to use a pair of crutches to eliminate him.

    Ok screw waiting for later. At the end of the previous In Your House, Owen had jumped Shawn to end the show, making his first appearance since Montreal. He beat Shawn up and then ran off into the crowd. Every single sign in the world said that Owen vs. Shawn would be the title match at the Rumble. Think about it: Owen comes back to avenge his brother’s honor so the drama and story are already there.

    Owen can actually hang with Shawn in the ring so it’s not like the match would be boring or something. Owen was getting insane reactions from the crowds at this point so it’s not like they wouldn’t buy it. So given how obvious this was, Shawn vetoed it. Owen made the epic return and was promptly fed to HHH.

    Yes, instead of going with the money match at the Rumble of Owen vs. Shawn, I’m assuming Shawn was afraid that Owen would either upstage him or shoot on him, so he somehow convinced everyone that the best choice was for Owen to just go back down into the midcard and job to HHH and Jarrett and stay far away from the title picture, and showing the power of the Clique, it worked.

    Owen was made to look like a joke over the next three months, having a tiny feud with Jarrett that went nowhere and then jobbing to HHH to make him look good. At least Shawn got what was coming to him all those years later in the casket match, which he lobbied for. I hate to say it, but he got what he deserved.

    Ahmed Johnson is number 20 and no one cares. He was just completely wasted by this point and it failed miserably. The crowd is pretty much dead here. Lawler lets it slip that Honky is his cousin. We accidently hear someone say that someone isn’t cleared to wrestle which we’ll get to in just a few moments. Mark Henry is 21st. In a great stat, Henry is one of 17 people in this Rumble that have never been in one before.

    Ross says Henry is handling the big Johnson. I’m not going near that one. There is no number 22 and everyone thinks it was supposed to be Austin. It turns out that it was supposed to be Skull, but he was hurt earlier in the attack by the Boricuas and was who the accidental voice was talking about. Phineas and Ahmed are gone with Phineas landing on a referee in an amusing spot. The crowd really couldn’t care less here.

    Kama is number 23, and here’s the best recap I can give you: Rock, 8-Ball, Bradshaw, D’Lo, Mero, Thrasher, Goldust, Honky, Henry and Kama. Holy jobber fest Batman. Austin it 24th to an EPIC pop. I mean the fans went insane for that glass shattering. Literally everyone in the ring turns to the entrance to jump him, but he comes through the crowd and knocks out Mero and 8-Ball with relative ease.

    Why in the world did they insist on constantly making Brown a big deal or at least trying to? Never mind he’s been upstaged by the failure that is heel Henry Godwin. We start the final five with Savio, who leads the completely worthless Boricuas who all go after Austin despite not being in the match. Naturally they’re easily dispatched. There are WAY too many people in there. I’m counting 11 I think.

    Farrooq is 27th as all 5 members of the Nation are in there now. Naturally he beats on all of the other 4 members. I’ve always thought they missed the boat with Farrooq. He was clearly a great athlete with a solid character yet they never pulled the trigger on him. Rock and Austin go to the floor through the ropes. Dude Love is 28th which gets a nice pop. Foley was such a brilliant character when you think about it.

    Kane was Isaac Yankem and Fake Diesel etc. Kama was Papa Shango, Godfather etc. The thing is, those other characters are never mentioned. They’re simply repackaged to give them a fresh start and that’s fine. Foley took it completely the other way. They made him all three characters at once with no attempt at hiding it. That’s very unique and I don’t think it’s been done otherwise. Anyway he puts out Bradshaw in about a second.

    Rock does the overrated elbow on Brown and gets beaten up by Austin for it. At least Austin recognizes overrated moves. Chainz, another guy I thought could have been more than he was, is 29th making Vader number 30. There goes Brown to lighten us up a bit.

    Ok, so with all 30 in, here are your possible winners: Rock, Thrasher, Goldust, Honky, Henry, Kama, Godwin, Vega, Farrooq, Dude Love, Chainz, Vader and Austin. I wonder who the win…never mind that joke is just stupid. Who thought it was a good idea to have 13 people in at the end? Vader puts out Honky. The crowd still doesn’t care at all. There goes Thrasher to a tiny pop.

    Kama is gone as we’re starting to clear the ring out. Ross thinks Brown is still in for some reason. There goes Vega as Austin has dropped three in a row now. Goldust puts out Vader because Vader can’t do anything since he’s an over character. Instead we have to have a freak character be put over again. Henry and Goldust go out. Farrooq just shows off by throwing out Henry.

    Chainz was put out by Austin over the corner and slammed into the steps which just looked SICK. The final four are Farrooq, Rock, Dude Love and Austin. I’ve always loved Dude’s Sweet Shin Music. Farrooq eliminates Dude. Say that out loud and see how ridiculous it sounds. Ross is ticked off for some reason at Rock resting while Farrooq fights Austin.

    Farrooq was in for about 10 minutes while Rock had already wrestled earlier and had been in over 50 minutes at this point. I guess according to JR that’s nothing. Anyway the final two are Rock and Austin. They slug it out and the fans are buying every bit of it. After a Stunner Austin shocks no one as he’s going to Wrestlemania.

    Tyson is happy too. We get a quick interview with Tyson, who despite calling Austin Cold Stone, which to be fair sounded far more like a slip of the tongue rather than him just not knowing what he was saying, says he’s very happy and looking forward to the main event. If nothing else, he’s very enthusiastic and sounds like a legit fan.

    Rating: D+. This was a bad Rumble in every sense of the word. The big problem here is clear so I’ll ignore that. The problem is there’s no one out there that was even a potential challenger. There was almost no flow to this either. The closest thing to a story was the Nation but it got no play at all.

    That’s the problem here: there’s no story or drama at all and it just crippled the thing. We knew Austin would win, but the question was how. The problem was there was no way to disguise the fact that he was going to win and it really hurt the match. There really was no way to make this great, but they at least could have made it ok.

    We recap Taker vs. Shawn. More or less they were trying to just pick up their rivalry from the fall like nothing ever happened. Good night Shawn took a beating in the Cell. Kane has broken away from Paul Bearer and apparently has joined Taker to help him fight off DX. For some reason Taker accepted his brother that hated him with no issue at all. I’ll give you two guesses as to how that’s going to work out.

    Casket Match: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

    Fink looks REALLY weird for some reason here. It looks like he’s being forced to announce at gunpoint or something. We get a weird comment from JR about Shawn: He may not be in a class of his own but it doesn’t take long to call the role. Wait, what? If he’s the world champion and the best big match guy ever, why wouldn’t he be in a class of his own? Also, Ross tries to say HBK has a better record in big matches than anyone including Hogan. That’s just laughable.

    Shawn’s overselling of Taker putting the lights back on is great. Shawn of course has to run here and punch where he can, but we get my favorite spot that Taker keeps using as he just grabs Shawn by the throat and throws him into the corner. I’ve always loved that. In a very cool spot, Shawn goes for a crossbody from the middle rope and Taker catches him in a two handed choke. That looked great. And there it is.

    Shawn is backdropped over the top rope and slams him back on the casket, more or less shattering it and putting him on the shelf for four and a half years after Wrestlemania. You can tell something just isn’t right with him at this point, and oddly enough a fan shouts out BREAK HIS BACK while Taker is beating Shawn up. As usual, Taker is just beating the living hell out of Shawn.

    That’s your formula for the majority of this match: Taker beats up Shawn, Shawn hits a little something, Taker beats up Shawn some more. Eventually Shawn hits a kick out of nowhere, but Taker doesn’t really do much about it. We go near the casket a few times which is always good, but the best part is Shawn in the casket and trying to get out while Taker pulls him back in.

    It’s a very cool shot that’s been done many times since but never as well as there. Eventually the tombstone hits and Shawn is dead, but Los Boricuas (which is incorrect grammar but whatever) and the Outlaws run out.. Cue Kane, but of course he turns on Taker to throw him in the casket to keep the title on Shawn. That’s not the end though, as Kane nails Taker into the casket and starts walking it back up the stage.

    In one of the most famous scenes of his career, he covers it in “gasoline” and lights it on fire. JR is FREAKING as we go off the air. Of course Taker magically disappeared from the casket, setting up his return just in time for a Mania match with Kane.

    Rating: B. This one is hard to mess up. These two worked very well together and this was no exception. They’re just perfectly suited to one another and they showed why here. Granted they more or less did the exact same thing as they did in the Cell, but it still worked.

    Obviously the bigger story here is Shawn’s back, but that’s been covered more elsewhere because no one knew how bad he was hurt at this point. The match was fine, but it was clearly more about the angle than the match, which is ok here.

    Overall Rating: C-. This is a show where the individual matches don’t add up to the final grade. This is a lot more like a transition show than anything else, with most of what you see here just setting up stuff for later on. It set up Shawn vs. Austin which had to happen for the company to survive as well as Taker vs. Kane, but other than that there’s just not much here.

    I really didn’t like this show all that much, but it was ok I suppose. There have been worse Rumbles, but not that many. Watch it if you haven’t seen it before I guess, but you likely won’t want to again.
     
    #28
  4. The Brain

    The Brain King Of The Ring

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    Royal Rumble 1997

    1997 was an interesting time in the WWF. They were getting killed by WCW in the ratings. Things just seemed very unorganized and inconsistent. Despite that you could see there was talent there and they had the potential to turn things around if they could get some direction.

    Triple H vs. Goldust was a decent feud. It was strange seeing Goldust as the face. Just last year at the rumble he was probably the most hated guy in the WWF. I don’t really remember Goldust turning face. I guess it just gradually happened. This match was ok but they could have done better. In fact they did better at WrestleMania.

    Ahmed vs. Faarooq was a long time coming. It felt a little old school as the feud carried on for months before a big one on one showdown. The only problem was it wasn’t planned that way. Various injuries kept putting this off killing the momentum of the feud. When the feud started I still believed Ahmed Johnson could be a star. By the time we got to the rumble I had given up on him.

    Vader vs. Undertaker was a weird match for me. I’ve said many times in these forums how much I wanted Vader to come over from WCW. I was thrilled when he debut at the 1996 Royal Rumble. For years I wanted to see a big feud between Vader and the Undertaker. You would think I would be happy about this. You would be wrong. I was looking forward to a match between the two, but I was more looking forward to an epic feud. That did not happen. This was thrown together with no story. I thought this could have been a big time WrestleMania feud, but instead it was just a match without a feud. The match was fine, but the lack of story was very disappointing.

    What was the point of the six man tag? Nobody cared and this was a complete waste of time.

    At the time I didn’t really care for the rumble match. I thought the intervals were too short and the match was going too fast. It wasn’t as bad as 1995, but still too short. I also didn’t like a lot of the participants here. After reading the review I realize I was wrong and there was some decent star power here. I guess I automatically think of the negative. I think of the lucha libre stars that nobody cared about. I think of The Smoking Gunns and Jesse James who seem completely out of place in 1997; at least with those gimmicks. There’s a hand full of crap in every rumble and when you get past it here it’s actually a pretty good group of stars.

    I didn’t really care for the Shawn vs. Sid feud. Actually it was the Sid title reign I didn’t care for. It seems like the only reason Sid won the title at the Survivor Series was so he could loose it right back to Shawn at the Rumble. I don’t like stuff like that. I’m ok with a transitional champion, but that’s when the title is going to someone new. The match was ok, but I couldn’t really get into it.

    Overall this event isn’t bad, but there’s something about it I just don’t like. It must be because this was during a time where I didn’t have much access to wrestling and I felt a little lost watching it. This was a time of change for the WWF. The family friendly days were coming to an end and attitude was just starting. I think the WWF was just going through some growing pains here.
     
    #29
  5. The Brain

    The Brain King Of The Ring

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    Royal Rumble 1998

    Some may argue that the attitude era began when Steve Austin won the WWF title at WrestleMania XIV. I think it’s pretty clear that we were well into the attitude era already. I am not a big fan of that era, but I do think it was fun at the beginning. Going in a different direction was enough of a distraction for me to deal with the loss of the best there is the best there was and the best there ever will be. This show was ok, but it was clearly just filling the gap until mania.

    Vader vs. Goldust was a nice little feud. I never liked the idea of Vader going face, but he clearly wasn’t being used the way he should have been so what’s the difference at this point? He was an awesome monster heel, but was never used properly. He had an unlikely face turn and the fans got way into him. As a result he was used even more poorly. At least he had a decent feud and went over here.

    Every once in a while the WWF decides it’s a good idea to bring in a midget division. It’s never been a good idea. Did anyone care about these guys? Did we even know who was who? It’s not like these guys had any kind of future with the company so why bother bringing them in at all?

    Ken Shamrock was a good rival for the Rock at the time. The attitude era fans seemed to like him a lot and the Rock drew some nice heat by screwing Kenny out of the title and causing him to snap. This was a creative finish to make the Rock even more hated.

    I like the LOD vs. New Age Outlaws feud. LOD was an older team, but were still popular with the newer fans. The Outlaws represented the new guard that spit in the face of tradition. Even though the Outlaws came to represent a new generation they hadn’t become popular yet. You just wanted to see LOD kick their disrespectful cowardly asses. Even though I liked the idea of this feud the matches left something to be desired. The story was good but the action not so much. This was not the match I was expecting at this show. Before Chainsaw Charlie came around I thought it was going to be The Outlaws against Cactus Jack and Mankind. I don’t know how that would have worked, but can’t you just see WWF trying something like that?

    This rumble match had to easily be the most predictable in rumble history. That’s saying a lot because I think a lot have been very predictable. Who could have won this besides Austin? I’d be curious to know if there was anyone who had another prediction.
    I’m not sure what the point of Jarrett attacking Owen was. I don’t remember anything coming of that.
    I like the look of the final four here. None except Austin were major stars yet, but I thought they all looked good together at the end. We had a glimpse at the future when it came down to Austin and Rock as the final two. I really think it should have been Rock vs. Faarooq at mania. It looked like they were going in that direction and I was disappointed that it didn’t happen. I didn’t think the rumble was too bad but it wasn’t too good either.

    I agree 100% that it should have been Michaels vs. Owen for the title. This seems so obvious. I don’t need to go into an explanation about the storyline. We all know about that. Not only was this the big story, but it would have been an awesome match. These are two of the best in ring competitors of all time. They had a ppv match two years earlier that was good but not great. This time it would have been the main event and gotten more time. I’m sure they could have delivered a five star classic. I thought for sure this was going to happen and remember being very disappointed when it didn’t. Not only would this have made a great main event, but it would have allowed Taker to go into the rumble. Kane could have been in there too. This rumble needed something else and Taker and Kane would have been perfect. Kane had been dominating lower mid card guys for months. He could have entered the rumble around number ten and cleaned house. Eventually Taker would come in and we would get the first physical confrontation between the two. It wouldn’t last long. Just enough to wet our appetites for mania. This feud was big enough that they didn’t need to do the burning casket thing. Considering everything else that went down a short confrontation in the rumble would have been enough.

    As for the actual match that took place, it was pretty good. These two always work well together. This is more remembered for the backdrop that injured Shawn. It’s a blessing in disguise that things went down the way they did. It’s well documented what Shawn was like during this time. I loved watching him in the ring, but he needed to go away for his own good. The time off is just what Shawn needed to turn his life around. The Shawn Michaels of the 90’s is a completely different person than the Shawn Michaels of today. I hate to say it but if Shawn wasn’t forced to walk away I’m not sure he would be alive today. I know that sounds overly dramatic but I think it’s a real possibility. Even though I wanted Shawn vs. Owen and at the time there’s no way I wanted Shawn to leave things worked out for the best. I truly believe this match saved Shawn’s life.

    Overall this whole show was pretty much filler to get to mania. It’s significant for what happened to Shawn, but the rumble match is horribly predictable. This comes off as a good show because WrestleMania XIV was one of my most anticipated manias and we were now on the road.
     
    #30
  6. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 1999
    Date: January 24, 1999
    Location: Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, California
    Attendance: 14,800
    Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler

    The company is in full control of the Monday Night Wars at this point as WCW is managing to find ways previously unimaginable to mess up their company. We’re about three weeks after the Fingerpoke of Doom here, so to say the people are annoyed with WCW is an understatement. In essence, the WWF has a free show here where they can more or less do whatever they want as long as the ending works and they’ll be praised for it.

    Your two big things going on at the moment are obviously Vince vs. Austin and then the great but kind of forgotten feud of Mankind, the reigning WWF Champion here, vs. Rock in the I Quit match. The company has also started to shape itself for the future, as people like the Hardys, Edge and Christian, Val Venis and Test are all around now.

    They’re not a big deal yet, but it’s coming. There’s a $100,000 bounty on Austin’s head from Vince tonight in the Rumble, so it’s in essence Austin vs. the world. That sounds decent so let’s get to it.

    Personal story: on this night I was coming home from Winchester which was 30 minutes from Lexington. Halfway my dad's car broke down and we had to walk an hour to get to a house to use a phone and I missed the show. The feed was messed up so the show didn't air anyway but I was pissed. My dad had said that the car having 250,000 miles on it wasn't a problem at all and he didn't need a mechanic. Good to know pop.

    Before we start we get an exclusive interview with Road Dogg saying he’s working twice tonight. Boss Man says he wants the bounty. He never should be allowed to talk. Mark Henry wants the money as well. Jarrett uses the term storylines which just doesn’t sound right for some reason. Him talking about Austin is just amusing as Austin is the reason Jarrett is gone from the company forever.

    Allegedly Jarrett and Austin were in a smaller company together once and Austin wasn’t happy with his pay and he was looking at his check one night. Jarrett said that it’s not going to get any bigger by staring at it, which Austin took as Jarrett saying Austin wasn’t working hard enough.

    Austin got the top spot in the WWF and made sure Jarrett was never allowed back. Once WCW went under, Jarrett started TNA since he had nowhere else to go. Cornette talks about Chyna being #30 and says she’s in for a surprise but never says that she can’t do it which is a nice little touch.

    The video says that Austin has No Chance in Hell, which is also the theme song for tonight. In case you didn’t know, that’s where Vince got the song from. Oh I forgot: Shawn was Commissioner at this time. Austin will be #1 and Vince will be #2 in the Rumble so there we are. Vince’s acting was pretty good back then actually. After our standard intros we’re ready to go.

    Road Dogg vs. Big Boss Man

    Roadie is face now while Boss Man is head of security for Vince’s Corporate Team. I swear you needed a scorecard to keep track of all this stuff back in the day. Dogg gets a hugs pop here as he’s got the intro down. He’s hardcore champion here but this is nontitle. Dogg wasn’t a great wrestler, but he found something that worked for him and he RAN with it.

    Boss Man and Shamrock are tag champions here but they would lose them the next night to Jarrett and Owen. Boss Man tries to scare him and is told what to do which involves an imbibing of Road Dogg’s penis. The crowd is way hot here. In something unrelated, Mankind got beaten up in a match with Mable on Heat that will come into play later. The announcers can’t figure out why the Corporation didn’t make this for the Hardcore Title.

    Naturally this is mostly a brawl, which granted I guess makes sense given who is in there. Lawler asks if Cole ever exercises his right to be silent. Cole transitions into saying Vince has been exercising to get ready for tonight. Wow. This is more or less all Boss Man. While choking Road Dogg on the ropes, Boss Man shouts to Lawler. He’s WAY too loud here and is clearly miked up. Jerry is full blown heel here which is what he was best at so there we are.

    Roadie starts his comeback and hits the really stupid three punches called the Shake Rattle and Roll for two because no one with any self esteem would get pinned by that. Boss Man hits the slam out of nowhere for the pin. I mean he was down and being covered and Road Dogg came off the ropes and got hit with it.

    Cole offers a pearl of wisdom by saying that this would have been different had it been under hardcore rules. In other words, he’s saying if it had been different it would have been different. Ladies and gentlemen I give you the voice of Raw!

    Rating: C-. It was kind of long but very standard stuff. There’s nothing special here, which I think was kind of the problem. Either way, I think this worked pretty well given what they had as Boss Man was little more than a joke while Road Dogg was a gimmick wrestler. Given what they had to work with, this went as well as possible.

    We get a quick recap of Billy vs. Shamrock. More or less, Billy showed Shamrock’s very hot “sister” his ass to get us this match.

    Intercontinental Title: Billy Gunn vs. Ken Shamrock

    So wait. Why did they go with the two singles matches here? You have the most popular tag team in the company and have them face the tag champions in back to back singles matches? I get that the titles were going to Owen and Jeff the next night, but you couldn’t have a cheating heel win here? The Outlaws were always better as a team, yet they’re going single here. I don’t understand that one at all.

    Shamrock had some great facials most of the time. He looked freaking insane and it helped his character a lot. After some bad punches to start, Cole says that a clothesline Shamrock hits was unreal. No, I’m pretty sure he hit him with it. Less than two minutes into this and we’re in a chinlock. That can’t be a good sign. Ken literally kicks Gunn’s ass. After going outside and Billy literally missing the post, we go through about 8 minutes of pure average stuff.

    It’s not great, it’s not horrible, but it’s just average all around. That means it’s kind of interesting but at the same time you might as well not even be watching at all. In a move that stuns, yes STUNS I say, the world, the referee goes down. They desperately tried to make Gunn a big deal time after time and it never worked, just like here. Venis runs out and nails Shamrock because they were also feuding over his sister.

    I can’t blame them as she was hot. Billy somehow botches a running splash. How can you do that? He jumped early I think. How is that possible? After going to the top and missing, Billy hurts his ankle. Guess what happens. Ok so let’s see: storyline based on sex, rather pointless run in, illogical booking as Gunn had all the momentum in the world coming up to this, and an overly long brawl. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear this was a Russo match. And by George, IT WAS!

    Rating: D+. Again, this was the same as the last one was: kind of pointless. Why did these guys need almost 15 minutes? Why not just give the fans what they want, as in the Outlaws as a team? There’s zero reason here to have them both in singles matches here when another team is going to get the title shot the next night. Why not, maybe Owen and Jeff get singles matches here? Are you telling me that Owen vs. Shamrock wouldn’t be better than Shamrock vs. Billy?

    In the back the Stooges and Shane are trying to pump up Vince. The heat here on Vince is unreal.

    European Title: Gangrel vs. X-Pac

    Don’t waste your time looking for a reason for this as it doesn’t exist. Random title matches aren’t always bad though. Good grief that music was beyond awesome. Take that New Moon. It’s coming out in two days so I’m a bit annoyed with it. This feels like a match from Attitude or War Zone or something. Those are way old school video games in case you don’t know those names. It’s weird to think that Gangrel was the leader of the Brood yet has had by far the least success.

    Both of these guys have a thing for sucking so at least there’s a theme. X-Pac is called the greatest European Champion ever. I’m not touching that one. We have our first heart reference. I’m actually liking this match. They’re keeping it simple, which is what I think this title is best at. It never really was a huge deal but it was played well I think. Gangrel is limited in the ring so they’re keeping it simple. Naturally that’s all thrown out the window with another big heart reference and the Bronco Buster.

    I hate that move. It looks stupid, it wouldn’t be that effective, and above all else: IT LOOKS FREAKING STUPID! Seriously, what was the appeal of that damn thing? X-Pac shows off his versatile offense by using his third spin kick in less than 4 minutes.

    We get a decent little fuck up from Teddy Long as Gangrel reverses a cross body and Long accidently counts three with Pac’s shoulder up at about two and a quarter. He waves it off and the fans just let him have it. Soon thereafter we finish as Gangrel tries to throw Pac into the air but he counters with a huge X Factor to end it. Sweet ending there.

    Rating: B-. This was actually good. They did the smart thing here and kept it simple which is the best solution sometimes. Why over complicate something that’s fine the way it is? It was a decent time at just under five minutes and for a token title match, this was just fine.

    DX is in the back and say that tonight it’s every man for himself. Chyna, who I would do lots of evil things to if she looked like that now, says or woman for herself.

    Shane comes out to pure generic music as No Chance wasn’t the official song yet. He introduces Luna. For some reason he hated Sable at this time for no apparent reason.

    Women’s Title: Sable vs. Luna

    This is a strap match. Why is it a strap match? I don’t have the slightest clue but that’s the Attitude Era for you. Luna hurt Sable earlier so apparently we have no match. Sable’s bad acting is almost funny. She just won the title in a match where again it was all about her being pretty and having nothing to do with talent or anything like that. Luna was good in the ring but she never got a damn run with the title because of the bitches like Sable.

    Sable says the match is on, making the segment with Shane completely pointless. Oh geez it’s a corners match so this could be awhile. It’s very difficult not to make strap on jokes here. Shane says this is about Sable taking advantage of his father. I shudder to think of what that might imply.

    Since this is a strap match, the ending is one person touching all three corners with the other following and doing the same then the ending. In this case, Tori, who was just known as Sable’s stalker at this point, nails Luna to keep the belt on Sable and keeping us all in this hell world.

    Rating: F. There was nothing of note here and we had to put up with Luna’s unshapely ass. It wasn’t much at all and lasted like 4 minutes. This was a waste of time with Sable of course being made to look great as she always did.

    In the back the Corporation is talking about the match tonight. Shamrock is REALLY short.

    We hit the recap of Rock and Mankind. The idea here is that Mankind took the title in the night where Tony Schiavone said that he did, causing a ton of people to change the channel. Rock wanted a rematch and listed off all kinds of stipulations that Foley refused to agree to.

    Finally Rock said he quit and Foley shouted that he accepted Rock’s challenge of an I Quit match. He followed that up by summarizing this match perfectly: “Rock, how does it feel going into a match that you can’t win?” That’s your match right there. This was a great recap of a great feud that’s kind of overlooked which is a shame.

    Rock says he’ll win in a lot more words than that.

    WWF Title: Rock vs. Mankind

    This match is notoriously difficult to watch due to what happens in it, but let’s get going. As Foley comes to the ring we see a clip from earlier in the show where he had a “warm up” match on Heat with Mabel who hit some splashes on him to soften him up. Remember when Heat used to actually mean something? I miss those days. Almost right off the bat we get a great line from Lawler. Cole says that he can’t see Mankind saying I Quit.

    Lawler says you don’t see it you idiot. Note: Foley’s family is at ringside. Mankind is completely dominating at this point. That ends after the knees to the steps spot that always looks ridiculously painful. Rock gets on a headset during the match which is another thing that he always did which was at least entertaining. This is brutal already. We get the sock 5 minutes into the match. How brilliant of an idea was that?

    It’s something so completely stupid and basic but it caught fire like few other things ever have. Rock goes out from it so Foley starts talking on the mic that the referee carries and says he’s going to split open that ridiculous eyebrow. We hit the crowd and now we’re ready to go. Foley is way over at this point and was more or less the champion of the people which was the reason the people’s champion thing for Rock worked so well. It really was amusing.

    Rock gets the bell and the hammer and puts the bell to Foley’s head and rings it. You know, instead of hitting him with the bell or the hammer. Rock tries to Rock Bottom him through the Spanish table but it breaks. It went off prematurely. This is working because it’s Mankind who was supposed to be just a guy that wouldn’t quit no matter what against a great athlete like the Rock. I’m completely buying into the idea here, which granted it might be that Foley is my all time favorite wrestler.

    We’re up by the entry way now as Lawler channels Gordon Solie. A DDT on the floor doesn’t make Foley give up. Rock pulls out a ladder which would kind of foreshadow one of their next gimmick matches. They go up a ladder for no apparent reason and fight on something like a scaffold. Rock hits a running shot and Foley goes into the equipment and gets electrocuted, prompting the lights to go out and Cole to shout out Christ Almighty. That’s a bit much.

    Apparently Foley may be dead despite rolling around on the floor and making noise. Shane comes out too as if nothing else they’re doing a good job of making this look serious. Rock says no doctors because Foley is going to say he quits no matter what. I love how Rock says the words I Quit while talking there so technically he just lost the match.

    Foley is more or less dead as they go back to the ring. While he’s laying on the mat, Cole asks how he can stand. That got me to roll my eyes at the stupidity of it, as Rock gets handcuffs and we move into the segment that’s been called the most brutal in company history. Foley can get his hands up and Rock just goes nuts with all kinds of free shots. In an impressive sequence, Foley gets the advantage despite having no free hands. That’s very cool to see actually.

    And Rock gets a chair. Oh this isn’t going to be easy to sit through. With Foley on the mat, Rock puts the chair over his head and drops the elbow, which apparently shatters Foley’s skull. So, an elbow to the chair which is laying on his head cracked his skull but being rammed into all kinds of things didn’t? I can’t stand Cole. Anyway, Rock has the chair, and starts swinging at Foley’s head with it.

    You have to remember, Foley’s hands and arms are useless at this point. He can’t get them up to even cushion the blow at all. The original plan was for Rock to hit him I think 3 times with it and then Foley would be out cold and they would do the finish. However, Rock didn’t do that. He wouldn’t put the mic near Foley for the finish so Mick had to just keep getting up. Rock hits him with literally t0 shots, all unprotected to the head.

    He has chances to hit him in the back or anywhere else where at least it wouldn’t have looked as bad, but Rock went for the head every time. You can tell the announcers are having a real problem with this as even Lawler who has been behind Rock all night long is saying that’s enough in that voice of his where you can tell he’s being legit about something. Rock hits perhaps the sickest looking chair shot I’ve ever seen to the back of Foley’s head to knock him down again. Foley is DEAD.

    Rock says a bunch of stuff on the mic and then shoves it at his mouth, and a prerecorded tape of Foley screaming I QUIT from a promo a few weeks ago plays to give Rock the title again. This was really confusing at the time as Foley was clearly out cold yet the voice was really loud.

    I had missed that segment from Raw so I was confused as hell. Anyway, this was absolutely brutal at the end and Foley was legit messed up bad from this match. Rock had to give him a big apology for it and I don’t think Foley’s family has been to a live match of his since, which I can’t blame them at all for.

    Rating: B. This really was a solid match. The gimmick aspect was indeed brilliant as Foley would never say he quit and in the match he didn’t. The chair shots were WAY too much as everyone was clearly not comfortable with how far Rock took that.

    Foley and Rock had great chemistry together and you could see it every time they were on the screen together. There was no need to go that far with it though and it showed clearly. Foley would get the belt back in 2-3 weeks at Halftime Heat before losing it in a ladder match on Raw that no one remembers.

    We talk about the Rumble and the bounty because the 12 promos about them weren’t enough. Also we get a long video about Vince vs. Austin which we know already as well.

    Royal Rumble

    Like has also been said all night, Austin is first and Vince is second. The intervals are 90 seconds this year, which means about 75 in reality. Howard takes WAY too long for the rules which draws all kinds of heckling from Lawler. Literally, he talks for over a minute. Vince has no music at this point which just is odd as hell. This is the first time we’ve ever seen Vince with his shirt off so the physique is something unheard of.

    Of course Austin beats the living hell out of Vince and the crowd is on fire for it. Austin drops an F bomb by mistake which means nothing. This right here should have been the main event of Wrestlemania. Golga, more commonly known as John Tenta or Earthquake is 3rd. The fans are dancing with him if nothing else. Golga jumps Austin after a Thesz Press but is gone in about 10 seconds as Vince and Austin hit the floor and run away through the crowd.

    Austin is so ridiculously popular it’s scary. Droz, a very sad story indeed, is 4th and because of the brilliant booking so far, has nothing to do but stand in the ring and wait on someone to fight. In the back we see Austin chase Vince into a bathroom where the Corporation is conveniently waiting on him to beat the hell out of him. After about 20 seconds, Edge is fifth. Remember that Austin and Vince are still in this but they’re just not here at the moment.

    Edge and Droz get something going so we don’t have an empty ring. If nothing else they’re two young and mostly over guys that are getting a chance to show what they can do. The problem is no one cares and there’s no way anyone but Austin or Vince will win this thing, which is the problem with the Rumble as a whole. About a minute after Edge is in Gillberg, who might be the funniest gimmick is in at 6th.

    In case you don’t know he was a parody of Goldberg, complete with holding sparklers and having fake chants piped in, but unlike WCW, they pushed them as fake. Edge drops him in about 8 seconds. We cut to the Corporation beating on Austin, because that’s far more important than what’s going on in the ring. Don’t you love Russo? Seventh is Steve Blackman as we’re in jobber land already.

    Hey, let’s go back to that bathroom because we haven’t done that enough lately, as Austin is being put on a stretcher and taken away. Droz is trying to be part of the LOD at this point, as Hawk was just a mess in real life and in storylines. Dan Severn is number 8, because we need another glorified jobber here. He held the NWA title for years, having to drop it because of MMA stuff. Austin is shown AGAIN, this time being taken to an ambulance.

    They mess up and catch him moving his arm just because we have to be real or something, which makes no sense but nothing on this show does so there we are. Tiger Ali Singh is ninth. Think Million Dollar Man meets Muhammad Hassan minus any semblance of talent. Time for an Austin cut, as he’s leaving the arena. Apparently the eight minutes or so that Droz and Edge have been fighting constitutes a long time. Blue Meanie is 10th as we’re flying through this tour of jobber ville.

    He’s in the Job Squad here in case you’re that bored. Apparently the Brood and the Job Squad are feuding. Yes, that’s correct: two more or less useless factions are feuding, and still no one cares about either of them. Brood had cool music if nothing else though. Maybe 40 seconds after Meanie,

    Mable is 11th, but he doesn’t come out just yet because it was supposed to be Mosh. Mabel attacks him so he can take his place. IT’S DRAMA TIME! I’m quite bored here so I have to make fun of stuff where I can. He’s gimmickless here and is just beating on people. He puts out Tiger, Blackman and Severn in about 10 seconds. Oh come on. After MAYBE 30 seconds Road Dogg is next.

    They’re just saying fuck it with the time here. Everyone but Edge and Mabel are gone so it’s Road Dogg, Mabel and Edge and never mind as Edge is gone now. They go at it but the lights go out and we have Taker music. We come back to have the APA and Mideon beating on Mabel to put him out. Taker, in full demon priest mode here, looks at Mabel and I guess hypnotizes him or something as he is beaten down.

    He would become Viscera the next night which was his character for the rest of his career as still no one would care. This was WAY over the top and yet again, we have one person in the ring. Remember, Austin and Vince are still in. Gangrel, rocking his awesome music, is 12th. The people in the front row dancing badly to his music is funny. Other than Austin and Vince, Road Dogg is the biggest star in here so far.

    Gangrel is out in about 12 seconds, so we have nothing going on again. Rock on Russo! This is riveting, RIVETING I SAY! They just say fuck the clock again as about 30 seconds pass before Kurrgan of the Oddities is 14th. I really hate this match. Seriously, we’re halfway through this thing almost and we’re watching Kurrgan vs. Road Dogg. Al Snow gets us to 15 as I flip through my DVD collection since it’s far more interesting to look at match listings that I’ve already seen before.

    Snow lost Head for some stupid reason that likely went nowhere. Dogg puts him out in about 45 seconds. We get Road Dogg vs. Kurrgan for the 2nd time tonight as Rock and Austin are in danger of being passed for best feud ever. Goldust is next as he’s entered that point in his career where no one cares about him as he’s just Goldust. There’s nothing freaky about him anymore and he’s just a guy in gold that no one really cares about.

    The last ten here better be freaking AMAZING. Dogg mocks Goldust and sets up for Shattered Dreams, but we can’t have Dogg beat up anyone so Kurrgan saves him. Godfather is 17th as we’re thankfully flying through this. Of course he’s got Hos with him which gets a bigger pop than anything else as I’m suddenly ashamed of being a fan of the Attitude Era. This isn’t wrestling. There’s nothing redeeming about this.

    Let’s see what we have here. A pimp, a man that molests other men for no apparent reason, a guy that dances badly and is proud of the fact that he’s a social outcast, and a guy constantly making references to someone sucking his penis. What is possibly appealing here? Kane, a guy named the Big Fried Freak is 18th as he at least has a ton of jobbers to beat up.

    Kane has recently been rebelling against the Corporation, meaning he’s now just shy of being a face for the first time other than for 6 days at this time last year. He clears the ring inside of 30 seconds. Hey, we’ve got one person in the ring AGAIN! Damn he’s getting a pop for this. So let’s see. We have a former world champion who is quite over and dominating. My goodness we’re on to something here! We have a guy that could be a legit challenger to the standard winners!

    This could make Kane a legit…oh screw it you know where this is going. Naturally he’s in the match less than a minute as a group of men in white coats come back, allegedly to put Kane back in a mental institution. He beats them up and jumps over the top rope, eliminating himself.

    Shamrock is 19th, and due to the brilliance of this booking, has to stand in the ring and do nothing for 90 seconds, killing any heat the Kane built up for him. We could have had a decent showdown between a crazed monster and a submission machine. How does that sounds? Shamrock vs. Kane? It wouldn’t main event a Wrestlemania but it could have been interesting if nothing else, but instead we have Shamrock literally standing in the ring just waiting for something to happen.

    See, this right here is why this Rumble is complete and utter crap. This is why fans HATE Russo’s booking. Yeah a lot of stuff has happened here, but there is ZERO substance to it. We’ve had nothing but jobbers in here so far until Kane showed up, and after he gets one of the biggest reactions of the night and looks awesome, a stupid angle that went nowhere gets rid of him. Russo is notorious for trying to fit 100 different angles into a single match and that’s what he’s done here.

    Instead of having a decent match which could have happened had this been booked right, and had there been anyone other than Austin and McMahon coming in at one and two. That’s the issue here: anyone with a brain can tell you that 3-30 don’t even need to show up. It’s going to come down to Vince vs. Austin, which is fine I guess as it’s the only possible ending, but they fucked this up so badly by having them come out first.

    Instead, have Austin come in at like 25th or 26th and clear the ring, THEN have Vince come in at 30 to set up the showdown. The Corporation runs in for a big brawl, and then do the finish. There, see what that accomplishes? All night long you know that Austin is going to be in there somewhere, but you don’t know where. He’s going to face big odds, but no one knows how big. The other guys can build themselves up a bit and get the crowd into it.

    Austin was certainly getting the biggest pop of the night, so anything anyone gets after that is going to be lackluster. Why not instead have Austin saved until closer to the end, so that he still gets his big pop but everyone else gets a nicer one as well? There’s more drama, the fans will be more into the rest of the match, and it takes some pressure off of Austin while still giving you the finish you wanted. Instead, let’s have a ton of dead spots and jobbers fight each other.

    Look at earlier on. Why did Golga have to be eliminated so fast? Instead of having Droz vs. Golga (which sounds like a Japanese monster movie if I’ve ever heard one) for a few minutes, we have Droz standing there. I know that’s not the most appealing match in the world, but it’s SOMETHING. It’s not a guy standing around waiting on something to happen, but rather an actual, you know, wrestling match.

    Why would we need that though when we can have pointless angles and spots that bring the match to halt after halt? This is a great example of how Russo’s booking can ruin a match in one easy lesson. ANYWAY, Vince comes out just before Shamrock to do commentary. Oh joy indeed. Billy Gunn is 20th because instead of a fresh match we need a repeat of the one from earlier in the show. Gunn is limping at least but for some reason only has one boot on.

    To contine this match’s stupidity, on one ankle Gunn uses a gorilla press. I can’t stand this match. I truly can’t. Test is 21st as we cut to the future Ministry kidnapping Mabel. Oh my goodness let the shocks continue! Just at the EXACT same time as that’s happening, STONE COLD STONE COLD STONE COLD is back in an ambulance.

    WAIT A FUCKING MINUTE YOU FREAKING IDIOTS! Are you really trying to convince me that in less than 30 minutes, Austin was knocked completely unconscious, strapped to a stretcher, put in an ambulance, woke up, managed to get enough wits about him to get off the stretcher, get control of the ambulance, drive the ambulance back to the arena in a city that I’d assume he doesn’t know the street design of, and get back into the parking lot?

    And all that in less time than it takes to deliver a pizza? And no one finds this even the SLIGHTEST bit odd? No one at all? Yeah I still hate this match. Actually this isn’t a match. It’s a performance piece or something stupid like that. Vince is of course SHOCKED. I love how he’s shocked over things he booked. Oh come on Austin isn’t even sweating. Give me a fucking break. Austin walks into the arena as Boss Man’s music plays since he’s 22nd.

    To further take away from the people in the ring that are doing the work on this show, Austin chases Vince. They get in the ring and Austin puts out Shamrock and gets jumped again. Oh look Austin has a rope from somewhere. This is like a bad SNL sketch or something. HHH, to a HUGE pop so you know he’s not winning, is 23rd. Since he was so popular he would be turned heel at Mania in a HUGE twist. Everything is huge back then remember as this is now WCW 2.

    HHH beating on Austin just feels right. Val Venis is 24th. To recap we have Boss Man, Austin, Test, HHH, Gunn and Venis in the ring and Vince at ringside. Austin puts out Gunn. Nothing of note is happening here for the most part. X-Pac is 25th and I still could care less. Allegedly he’s the lightest competitor in Rumble history. And naturally since that involves company history, it’s bullshit. Pierroth from the 97 rumble is smaller.

    Austin is knocked to the floor under the ropes and comes in off the top rope of all things. That was odd if nothing else. Henry, ANOTHER sex based character is the first of the final 5 guys. This is just after the very stupid transvestite bit between Chyna and Henry. Don’t ask. This just needs to end like NOW. Jeff Jarrett is 27th. Naturally Debra is the bigger deal here. Other than her face she looks ok actually.

    As HHH is beating on Venis, we hear a very familiar voice ask Val “If I throw you can you hang on?”. Nice one there Hunter. To further the brilliance of this match, we’re discussing whether Vince would pay by cash or check. D’lo is 28th along with PMS. This was, you guessed it, another sex based angle called Pretty Mean Sisters, which implied that they had clients that they fucked the hell out of because they were so upset with men.

    Test and X-Pac are thrown out. Vince saying that Jeff Jarrett is the man made me chuckle. Owen is 29th as Jarrett is thrown out. HHH saves Austin which was just weird as hell to type. Austin hits the floor and throws water on Vince because he’s a BAD ASS. Chyna is 30, making our final batch of people Austin, Vince, Boss Man, Chyna, Henry, Brown, HHH, Venis and Owen. I wonder who will win.

    Chyna puts out Henry and then Austin puts her out, making her big moment last all of 30 seconds. Vince cheering on HHH makes me wonder if he knew what was coming. That’s just amusing. We realize the issue of the money as no one wants to let anyone else put Austin out so they keep saving him. Venis is gone as is HHH, leaving the final five as Vince, Austin, Owen, Henry and Brown.

    Owen hits the enziguri on Austin but gets thrown out anyway as Austin is apparently tougher than Shawn ever was. Brown hits the sweet Low Down on Austin as Boss Man throws him out. More no selling from Austin as he throws out Boss Man and we’re down to Austin vs. Vince again. Amazingly the Rumble is on the floor and in the crowd again. This is idiotic. Let’s bring a chair in because we haven’t had enough of those tonight right?

    Vince hits a quick low blow to buy himself some time once we’re back in the ring. Austin has stone cold balls apparently as he hits a Stunner out of nowhere. Here’s Rock for the distraction, and we make the Rumble look like a joke as Vince throws out Austin to win it. A massive heel celebration follows as Austin chases Rock out.

    Rating: F. I’m sorry to the people that worked hard in there, but this was awful on so many levels that I can’t let it pass. This match alone sums up everything that was wrong with the Attitude Era. There were a ton of sex based characters that were weirder and weirder each time. There was no story other than two guys that weren’t in the match for the majority of the time.

    No one cared about 28 people in there. The ending was a give away, and the whole thing just sucked all around. There were three times where we had a maximum of one person in the ring due to some stupid angle. That’s just unacceptable all around, just like this match. This was a failure and easily the worst Rumble of all time.

    Overall Rating: D-. The best match of the night might have had Gangrel in it. That sums up just about everything you need to know here. This was just a mess as the Rumble sucked, the early stuff sucked, and the title match was actually difficult to sit through. Foley and Rock’s incredible chemistry together saves this from a complete failure though, but not by a lot.

    I hated this show and it took me almost 4 days to get through it which is by far and away a record for these reviews. This was just crap all around and not worth watching at all. The title match is good, but that’s all that’s worth watching here at all. Go on Attitude Era freaks. Defend this thing. I want you to. I need the target practice.
     
    #31
  7. GIMH

    GIMH Lifelong Jerichoholic

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    Most PPVs in 1999 were pretty poor and the Rumble was no exception. I love the title match aside from The Rock's cocaine induced chair attack (I've never seen a wrestler as wired as Rock that night). The rest is piss poor though. Found a video of this PPV a while back and watched most of it on fast forwards.

    Love Vince's face when Stone Cold comes back though.
     
    #32
  8. The Brain

    The Brain King Of The Ring

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    Royal Rumble 1999

    Earlier in this thread I mentioned how 1995 might be the worst rumble match. I must have blocked this event from my memory. 1999 is hands down the worst Royal Rumble ever. I hated this event. The title match was ok, but the over the top violence left a bad taste in my mouth. Other than that the show is complete crap. This didn't even do a good job of setting up mania. I suppose that's appropriate since WrestleMania XV was horrible too. I hated this event and I stand by what I've said many times before. 1999 was the worst year in WWF history. I don't care if ratings were strong. I don't care if the arenas were sold out. I don't care if wrestling was big in pop culture. The product was horrible in 1999. Early in this thread I said I could watch any given rumble at any given time and be entertained. 1999 is the exception. Horrible.
     
    #33
  9. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    What I can say about the 1999 Royal Rumble which I liked was that both Bossman and Shamrock beat Road Dogg and Billy Gunn cleanly here.

    Road Dogg was an attraction but his goofy in ring ability made me no reason to believe he had a chance to beat the Bossman who was pretty much no nonsense at the time. I was glad Bossman just destroyed him out of nowhere.

    As for Shamrock/Gunn - Gunn beating Shamrock cleanly a few weeks back just left a bad taste in my mouth. Here was a guy who was dominating the WWE for over a year and the first convincing loss he had was againts Billy Gunn? At least Royal Rumble kind of remedied this.

    As for the Rumble itself, yeah it pretty much sucked. I don't see this worse than 2000 though. As lame and overly booked 1999 was at least it wasn't as anemic as the 2000 Rumble.
     
    #34
  10. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 2000
    Date: January 23, 2000
    Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
    Attendance: 19,200
    Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross

    At this point, the wars are over. WCW is practically dead and the WWF just keeps pouring it on. The main thing that’s different than last year though is simple: Austin is gone. With the company so far ahead that they would have to be WCW to manage to lose the lead they had built up, Austin was finally allowed to take the nearly yearlong break that he so badly needed to get his neck fixed once and for all.

    With him out of the way, the Rock and HHH have stepped up. To all Rock fans, get this through your heads: without Austin taking this time off, Rock would be a fairly big star at best. He’s not bigger than Austin, he never was bigger than Austin, and he never will be bigger than Austin. He got as big as he got because of Austin not being there and that’s all there is to it.

    Anyway, a lot of the roster is filled out now as we have guys like Jericho, Angle, the Dudleys, Show and I believe the Radicalz would debut the next night or eight days later so they were just over the horizon at this point. Your other main event tonight is HHH vs. Cactus Jack in a street fight, which was one of the damndest matches I’ve ever seen and since I want to get to it, we’re starting now.

    The opening video is about how insane Cactus is and how sane HHH is. That was the real point of the street fight tonight: getting HHH over as a crazy man. In other words, Foley is doing what he might be the best ever at, and that’s even better than Flair: getting people over and making them look better than anyone else ever could. There’s no mention of the match at all here, which is odd. After a brief intro from Jerry and Jim, we’re ready to go.

    Kurt Angle vs. ???

    Angle was the undefeated rookie wonder here and he had issued an open challenge here or something like that. He’s the clean cut kid here that no one could touch at this point. It had leaked out who the opponent would be, but not to the general public. Angle of course gives a speech talking about how great he is. The crowd is very hot already as is customary of a New York crowd. He gets some cheap heat by ripping on the Knicks, which is just fine. Cheap heat is still heat.

    This is less than a week after the MSG Raw before Survivor Series so I’m fired up about the Garden in general. Actually the fans are chanting for the guy he’s about to fight so I guess they know who’s coming. Angle was just ridiculously great in this role. The music hits, and the symbol that we’ve been seeing for a few months comes up for Taz, who is the mystery guy. The crowd pops like a cherry for him too. I mean they are LOUD.

    Angle beats on him for a few minutes until Taz gets his hands on him and let the suplexing begin. After a German, a head and arms, and a T-Bone, the Tazmission debuts in the WWF and Angle is out cold in about 20 seconds, ending his undefeated streak and making Taz look like an insane killing machine. Now that is how you debut a guy. Once Taz got going, he DESTROYED Angle. Angle is taken out on a stretcher as apparently it was a choke and not a sleeper.

    Rating: A-. Yeah it’s just over three minutes long, but DAMN. That was a nearly perfect debut as Taz looked awesome there and Angle put him over like a master despite having only been around a few months at this point. Taz dominated here and was supposed to get the push that Benoit wound up getting, but because of Hardcore fucking Holly messing up a spot with a candy jar at Mania, Taz had an eye injury and had to take a lot of time off, so Benoit got the big IC title push instead.

    Matt, Jeff and Terri are in the back to talk about the first ever tag team table match. Terri actually looks good here. They “won” her in the Terri Invitational Tournament (initials) so she’s their manager for awhile. This doesn’t last long as they realized Terri had no talent so that ended that. She was split from them by Mania I think. Anyway, the Dudleys have been putting people through tables so Matt and Jeff put them through some on Smackdown, leading to this match.

    Taz says that he’s going to go right through this company.

    Hardy Boys vs. Dudley Boys

    Like I said, this is a table match. The Dudleys have been around for a few months here and were the best team that people had seen in forever as no one had seen two guys this violent in a mainstream promotion for more than a few weeks before. And no, Public Enemy doesn’t count due to a lack of talent. Bubba is still a southern stutterer here.

    We get a John Rocker reference as Bubba says that’s his new favorite player. For those of you that have either forgotten him or haven’t ever heard of him, he was a decent relief pitcher for the Braves who went on this insane tirade one day, bashing just about every religious or ethnic group in existence and complaining that New York had all of them. It was a big deal and he got in a lot of trouble for it.

    He was HATED in New York because of it so just saying his name was instant mega heat. There’s a taxi hanging above the entrance. The entry way is really cool as it looks like an alley or a street to play up the street fight later on. In this you have to put both people through tables so we’re guaranteed an extra table or so. Thankfully we don’t have the pointless tagging thing here.

    Don’t you love how ECW had just gotten on television nationwide in late August and within five months three of their biggest stars ever are opening a WWF PPV to HUGE pops from the New York crowd? Yet Vince said he never stole stuff from them. Keep telling yourself that Vince. You just happened to have these three guys get their biggest exposure yet back to back in a gimmick match made famous in ECW in front of their second most important city?

    I’m not saying it’s bad because it’s a great idea, but Vince stole these guys. Again, smart, but not original at all like he would like you to believe. Naturally Jeff is flying all over the place. Bubba takes a SWEET chair shot from Jeff. He follows that up by running along the barricade at Bubba, but the member of Team 3D picks up the table and just chucks it at Jeff, slamming into his head for a great sound effect. See, this is a great example of not overbooking a match.

    With these four guys, there’s zero need to try to do something big and complex. Just tell these guys to go out there and beat the hell out of each other using weapons and high spots. Honestly, what more do you need these guys to do? You just let the guys go out there and rock the place. This was the real answer to the Cruiserweights in WCW: bigger guys just going out there and having over the top gimmick matches. It seems to be working fine here, and it got people’s attention.

    The Hardys get the advantage again and they set for a double suplex on Bubba from the middle rope, but D-Von moves the table. I’ve always loved spots like that, as the guy is more or less saying he doesn’t care if his partner is hurt or anything, as long as he doesn’t go through a table. That’s brilliant. Here’s your token ladder, which foreshadows and references past and future matches which is hard to do.

    There are some SICK chair shots in this. Matt has Bubba on a table on the floor but D-Von almost makes a save. Matt shoves him straight into a fan which was a not so good looking spot. Matt gets the leg drop to put Bubba through, but from out of absolutely nowhere, Jeff jumps at the same time in a half splash half elbow half manbearpig onto Bubba. I mean he came from nowhere. Think Shelton jumping onto the ladder to stop I think Van Dam at Mania.

    We have a huge HOLY SHIT chant as D-Von takes another great chair shot. Bubba can barely stand. I think he can still be in the match and it’s not an elimination. I’m not sure if I like that or not. In ANOTHER nice sequence, D-Von is on a table on the floor and Matt dives at him. He moves and stands in front of another table and dives out of the way so Jeff crashes through that one.

    That looked like something out of a Die Hard movie. Bubba is back now and I’m completely into this match. They point out that since the Dudleys didn’t put them through tables, it’s not over. At least they follow the rules of the match. They set up an elevated table and power bomb Matt through it, which Ross says will cause some erection dysfunction. Don’t ask. I’ve always liked the euphoric thing Bubba did when he went through the tables. It was just cool.

    The finish here is somehow the coolest part. They head to the entry way where the Dudleys set up double tables. They go up to the top of the set and get on the taxi, where Bubba tries to get a powerbomb. Jeff fights out of it and hits Bubba with a chair to knock him straight back off of it, which looks cool enough as is. After that, D-Von gets put on the table and the Swanton Bomb ends this freaking awesome match.

    Rating: A. THIS WAS AWESOME! The spots were completely insane and the chemistry was undeniable here. The crowd ate it up too so it sounded great. There was no story here and there wasn’t supposed to be. There’s nothing wrong with just a wild brawl when it’s done right and this was a great example of that. Just all kinds of fun and the fans bought every bit of it.

    Angle is groggy as hell and acts like he has a concussion where he’s only concerned about being undefeated. It’s funnier than it sounds.

    We’re now going to have the Miss Rumble pageant. This is coming off the heels of the Kat taking her top off at the last PPV and actually showing on screen for about 2-3 seconds which was a HUGE thing as nudity was actually shown on WWF TV with no issue about it. Of course then the PTC freaked the fuck out about it as the company was apparently corrupting children’s minds by showing an adult image on a show that an adult had to order for their children on a show called Armageddon.

    Damn, Vince really is trying so hard to corrupt the minds of the youth. It would be so simple to allow a 12 year old to see such a thing. All they would have to do is order a PPV while making sure to sound like an adult on the phone, find some way to keep their parents from noticing them watching it when a show they didn’t order is on, hide the cable bill from their parents and then manage to pay for the show themselves despite likely not having a checking account or a credit card.

    I mean really Vince, at least have SOME kind of way to prevent kids from seeing the show. Anyway, this is a beauty pageant and according to the rating, there would be more nudity here. The judges are Slaughter, Tony Garea who no one under 35 knows, Fabulous Moolah, Johnny V and Freddie Blassie who gets a great pop. Lawler is the host for this. First up is Ivory who is wearing a big sweatshirt. Terri is second to a solid pop.

    Jackie, who no one likes at all, is third. Fourth is a woman named Barbara Bush who was nicknamed BB and was an EMT or something. She lasted all of a month or two. Luna is 5th as this is going to take awhile. Kat is the final one and she gets a solid pop. She’s women’s champion at the moment. Of all people, the celebrity judge is ANDY RICHTER from “The Conan O’Brien Show.” Seriously that’s what they call it.

    This is your standard thing so I’ll skip most of the details. Lawler’s jumping up and down is kind of funny. No one has ever cared about Jackie at all and no one does here either. This really is moronic. Luna, despite wearing a gown that is just buttoned in the front and a thong under it, won’t disrobe. Kat’s is made of bubble wrap. Yep, that’s your Women’s Champion.

    Naturally Mae Young comes out and wants to compete also. She disrobes and takes her top off. The look on Lawler’s face when he sees them is priceless. That’s your nudity for the night, and yes, we see them. Mark Henry who was for no apparent reason dating Mae at the time comes out to cover her up. Mae wins unanimously. WZ actually had a link on the main page to a still shot of Mae’s boobs. I wish I was making that up.

    We go to WWF New York which is new to meet the debuting Coach. Damn that place would have been awesome as hell to go to.

    Don’t try this at home. Good advice.

    Jericho and Chyna are in the back arguing about who should wear the belt. This was a very interesting angle they did where they were co champions. In other words, they could both defend the title individually but if say Jericho lost, Chyna lost too which made it something different. Unnecessary, but different.

    Angle says that since he was choked out, he’s still undefeated.

    Intercontinental Title: Chris Jericho vs. Chyna vs. Hardcore Holly

    This is for the undisputed title. Holly is there because he’s beaten both of them one on one and it’s an even numbered year so we have to give him his next failure of a push. Seriously, he got more pushes than a grandmother that stands in front of a flight of stairs. Chyna was a big deal at the time as a woman legitimately competing with men was unheard of yet she was pulling it off.

    Jericho is over to say the least. Jericho was awesome on the mic at this point as you could tell he was just so happy to be out of WCW. This is a standard match for the most part, which means one person goes down and the other two have a short singles match until the third comes back. Jericho is by far and away the favorite here. Chyna hits the handspring elbow which for the life of me I still don’t get the point of.

    Chyna and Jericho keep vying to outdo each other and it’s not that interesting. Why in the world did Holly need to be in this? I just don’t get that. Holly takes a slow but decent Pedigree but kicks out anyway. They’re doing a lot of near falls near the end here, which at least is building a bit of drama. It’s not a bad match, but it’s just not that interesting. Jericho hits a Lionsault on Chyna to become undisputed champion, and that’s that.

    Rating: C. Like I said, this wasn’t bad but it just wasn’t interesting at all. Holly flat out didn’t need to be in there since he wasn’t even involved in the decision. This wasn’t much, but it was ok and certainly watchable.

    Rock, rocking the SWEET Brahma Bull jersey, is in the back with Cole and says that there are two people he’s worried about in the Rumble: Crash Holly and Mosh. Cole questions this so Rock says go have a glass of shut up juice. He calls out Big Show and says that he wants it to wind up as those two in the final pairing. The charisma here is completely ridiculous it’s so high. He really was a god on the mic.

    Jericho cuts a traditionally great promo talking about how he’s going to lead the Jerichoholics to the promised land like a pied piper while holding up the Interchrisinental Title.

    We recap the APA vs. the Outlaws, which is here because the APA won a battle royal thing.

    Tag Titles: Acolytes vs. New Age Outlaws

    After about a two minute entrance we’re ready to go. This match lasts two and a half minutes. The Acolytes beat the champions up. Or do they beat them down? I’m not sure actually. After a short mini match, X-Pac runs down and beats up Bradshaw, allowing Billy to his the Fameasser for the win.

    I know that sounds like nothing but there’s just nothing at all to talk about. They brawled for 45 seconds, the Acolytes beat up the champions for a minute or so, then Pac was there for the finish. They much be setting up HHH/Foley for more time or something, which I’m fine with.

    Rating: N/A. I can’t rate something this short at all.

    Road Dogg says that even though they got their asses kicked they’re still the champions. You can’t argue that one.

    We recap HHH vs. Foley, which started with HHH beating Show clean for the belt and having the McMahon-Helmsley Era run things. Foley calls them out and he’s fired due to losing a pink slip on a pole match. A fake Mankind (Mideon) showed up to make fun of him. Rock and the rest of the roster threatened to leave and form the Rock Wrestling Federation unless Foley was reinstated. Mankind comes back and HHH beats the hell out of him after agreeing to the street fight.

    Then, in one of the coolest moments of this era as far as I’m concerned, Mankind comes out and says he’s not ready to fight HHH in a street fight, but he has a replacement ready to go. He pulls open his shirt and takes off the mask and turns into Cactus Jack. HHH is FREAKING and then gets his ass handed to him by Jack, setting this up. The level of awesome that Foley was in this multiple personalities thing was just insane on so many levels.

    WWF Title: Cactus Jack vs. HHH

    Jack gets a crazy pop and HHH might as well be a Red Sock. Stephanie looks great as usual. I love HHH being so nervous about getting in the ring as it really plays up his being out of his element. The intros take just shy of eternity, but you hear in HHH’s My Time song the words The Marks, The Suits, McMahon. I guess those are people he doesn’t like, which is kind of cool. Finally we’re on.

    Foley is called Mankind time after time by Ross. Ross is stuttering like no other. HUGE Cactus Jack chant gets going. It’s all Jack so far. And just as I say that HHH hits a bell shot to the head. Naturally it doesn’t do much. In shades of Rumble 98, Jack runs straight into a chair shot like he’s running home after a day of simple torture as a child. The crowd is hot as hell here as Jack puts the chair on HHH’s head and drops a leg on it.

    And that can shatter a skull right Cole? Ross says HHH might be the best technical champion in company history. I’m not even touching that one as it’s so freaking stupid. We hit the crowd and the crowd is making this match better. It’s been hard hitting so far but we’ve been at this five minutes so far. We’re in the entry way now and HHH is getting killed. Remember that the entry way is set up like an alley, so the trash cans being there at least make sense.

    This is ALL Cactus here. I love how Foley can become such a better threat with the gimmick change. It really is brilliant. The crowd is rapidly approaching ECW levels here. Basically HHH keeps using his regular stuff and Jack keeps going insane on him with violent stuff. It’s a great bit of storytelling mixed in which almost never happens in these matches. Jack goes under the ring with HHH down and pulls out a 2x4 wrapped in barb wire. Oh hell yes.

    Ross is of course freaking. Due to the idiot of a referee, HHH gets the board and puts Foley down with four stiff shots with it, all to the back and front. That’s brilliant actually as Foley is wearing a shirt which likely has padding underneath it. While I can’t imagine that’s real barb wire, the image is great and for people that aren’t sharp enough to see what’s going on here, it’s a great way to make this match seem about 10 times more violent.

    It’s the little things like that which can make a match and it’s doing so here. A board shot to the lower ass which is considered a low blow stops the momentum HHH has built up. I love how with low blows half the time they’re not even close to the groin. The crowd booing when the barb wire board is thrown out is just classic stuff. Twelve minutes in we have our first cover. That’s another nice touch as it makes it seem like it’s about the violence rather than the pin here, which is what it’s supposed to be. In case you can’t tell, I really like this match. Granted Foley is my all time favorite wrestler and this was by far his best period, so there we are.

    The referee goes down and a barb wire shot to the face puts HHH down. Ross is selling this as insanity on a great level. HHH is bleeding and it’s a DAMN good one. One is right next to his eye which looks even sicker. In a sick looking spot, HHH is trying to get out to the floor but Foley takes the board and the wire and puts it over the very cut forehead of HHH and just pulls back. The screaming is perfect as this match is kicking all kinds of ass, even the Mr. kind.

    Ross here is great on the mic as he’s not getting insane through the whole match. He gets way into it in bursts which makes those moments seem more impressive. That’s the big issue with guys like Cole. He gets into the match WAY too early and it takes away from the later big spots. Ross gets into the big spots but other than that he’s rather calm which helps to build up later stuff, thereby adding credibility to the good stuff.

    That’s the mark of a great commentator: they don’t take anything away from the match but they add so much to it, like Ross is doing here. I usually can’t stand him but this is great stuff from him. Jack goes through a table when he goes for a piledriver to get us back to even. HHH’s leg is bleeding, which is a very nice touch. Oddly the table that was destroyed wasn’t Spanish. That’s very odd indeed. DAMN that’s a thick cut in his leg.

    Cactus hits a bulldog onto the barb wire. One of the major keys here is that it’s completely unclear who is going to win. At the time, no one knew. That can completely make a match as in my eyes it’s the most important thing there is in wrestling. On the floor again, HHH gets a hip block onto the steps and Foley rams his knee into it. Using his generally good psychology, HHH goes for the knee with the barb wire.

    The good thing is it’s still a sick thing to do despite how much it’s been used so far in this match alone. From nowhere HHH finds handcuffs and tries to put them on Foley, which after a brief comeback works. This is already a bit uneasy to watch but this is bringing flashbacks to last year. If nothing else there’s a bit of slack in these unlike last year so it looks a bit less awful if nothing else. Jack puts up a hell of a fight despite being in essence armless here. That’s just impressive.

    I’ll go with this for how brutal this is: HHH actually breaks the chair from hitting Jack with it so hard. Has that ever happened before? With them back in the entry way, Jack begs HHH to hit him again, but Rock pops in from nowhere to half kill HHH with the chair. A cop pops in and unlocks Jack’s arms and we’re at it again, as the fans are right back into this thing. The piledriver works this time, but the table DOESN’T BREAK.

    Think about that. How sick would that look? I mean HHH just stopped cold all of a sudden. We’re back in the ring now, as Jack pulls out a bag of thumbtacks. You have to remember, this is before Abyss made those look like watercolor paints. They were hardly ever used but they’re busting them out here. Jack goes into them via a backdrop just after Stephanie comes out. She’s wearing a leopard print choker, which is the same as Cactus’ boots in a nice little touch.

    After that, the Pedigree gets two in what might have been the second cover of the match. Then to finish us off, in one of the sickest spots I’ve ever seen, Cactus gets Pedigreed onto the tacks for the pin. Jack is DEAD. HHH gets the belt and goes to the floor and just collapses. Stretchers come out and of course Jack is up to attack HHH one more time.

    They would have a Cell match at No Way Out which was awesome as well where Foley would officially retire, and other than one match which was a surprise he kept true to that for the most part. I’m fine with short comebacks and occasional matches to put people over as he does so often. This made HHH look legit which is exactly what it was designed to do. This was awesome.

    Rating: A+. Yes I’m being generous on the grades for this show, but DAMN. These two half killed each other out there in easily the best brawl for the title I’ve ever seen. This was insanely violent and HHH came off looking great. There was a legit threat for Foley to take the title here which helped the drama a lot as well.

    The blood was great and it added a completely new aspect to HHH’s character that’s still around today. These two beat the hell out of each other and it’s saying a lot when it’s Foley who has the job of making HHH look this great put into his hands, and luckily it worked and it worked very well. Go watch this match as it’s damn worth it.

    After some generic interviews, it’s time.

    Royal Rumble

    D’lo Brown is number one and Grandmaster Sexay is 2nd. He gets a huge pop and we get more bad jokes about him not being Lawler’s kid. We’re doing 90 seconds here. X-Pac is 30th for reasons that would entail him winning some match no one remembered. Let the generic stuff begin. Granted they’re following a classic so there we go. I hate that laugh that Grandmaster does.

    Mosh is third, dressed with two foot long cones sticking out of his chest. Kai En Tai runs out, despite not being in the match. They’re easily dispersed so that was completely pointless. They weren’t allowed in due to lack of room in case you were really bored. Mosh is hurt so we’re back to the original pairing while he hangs on the ropes. Christian, who has some of the most awesome music I’ve ever heard at this point, is 4th.

    This is always the awkward part of the match as there aren’t enough people to have anything going yet and these guys have a combined chance of zero to do anything so few people really care but it’s better than nothing. Rikishi is 5th, 8 months before it turned out he tried to kill the biggest star in the world. He dumps everyone other than Grandmaster before anyone else comes out. That Rikishi Driver was a freaking awesome move.

    Shockingly enough Scotty is 6th and we have the trio in the ring. You know what’s coming, and oddly enough I like this. It makes sense here. They’re all friends and even though it’s every man for themselves, this makes a lot of sense. The fans are very into it so that’s fine, and it doesn’t last long as Rikishi puts both guys out at the same time. I’m ok with that actually as it didn’t last long and it made sense.

    Also, there’s still one guy there so it’s not like the next guy has to stand around waiting for a minute and a half. Things like this can work when done right, and this was done right. Also, the fans loved it so that automatically makes it far more ok. Rikishi’s nipples are really close together and it’s very odd looking. After they’re gone, Rikishi dances on his own a bit more. Steve Blackman is in at 7 and is gone in about 45 seconds.

    See this right here is something the Rumble can be great at. Rikishi is a somewhat big star here, but he’s getting to show off here and he looks far more impressive now than he did when he came in. That’s a very simple way to get someone over and it worked here. Viscera is 8th and he actually hits a belly to belly on Rikishi. Three super kicks and a shoulder block and Big Daddy V is gone. Again, by just putting out a guy at a time he looks great and dominant.

    They’re pushing him without him actually winning a match. Boss Man is 9th but he very slowly gets in. He stands on the floor and lets someone else come in to help him, which is smart. Granted this was considered a violation of the rules back in I think 94 but we can ignore that I think. Test comes in at 10 to a big old pop. I know it sounds absurd now, but he really could have gotten a brief title run sometime around here.

    He should have gotten it at Survivor Series, but granted I can’t complain about going with Show when they did as he was completely dominant around that time. British Bulldog is 11th. One good thing here is there’s no dead weight in there to slow things down. Having people like Mosh and Grandmaster to fill out the roster is fine, but there’s no point to having them stay in there a long time, and here you can see why.

    They were in the Rumble and there was no chance of them doing anything, so they got out early. It’s clear that the people in there now are higher up on the ladder and they’re in later, which makes them even possible dark horses to steal the thing. That’s very smart booking and some of the best I can ever remember for the Rumble.

    Gangrel is 12th to get some jobbers in there which is fine to an extent. Kai En Tai runs out again and get thrown out with Gangrel just KILLING Taka. The bump he takes over the ropes is great as he over rotates and his face slams into the floor and bounces off. Edge is 13th to a solid pop. We get the Taka bump again to the delight of the king. BOB BACKLUND is 14th to a great pop.

    Does this guy age? He’s 51 here and looks like he did 20 years ago. A ton of guys get together and throw out Rikishi. I’m impressed by Backlund. He looks great all things considered. Jericho is 15th as I’m loving the booking here. A few things are happening. They’re having little mini stories thrown in here and there to keep the match fresh and it’s working like a charm. It’s keeping the crowd entertained and they’re responding very well.

    It’s a smart way to build up to the final guys which is the best way to go. This has been a very good Rumble. Jericho puts out Backlund. Crash Holly is 16th as I’ve never seen the resemblance to Elroy Jetson that everyone says exists. Chyna is 17th as Lawler starts picking everyone as being Rock. She puts Jericho out by suplexing him over the ropes but Boss Man puts her out seconds later.

    To recap we have Gangrel, Edge, Test, Boss Man, Bulldog and Crash and they’re joined by Farrooq. The Mean Street Posse comes out as apparently they’re mad about not being in either. Boss Man puts out Farrooq due to their interference. Road Dogg is 19th. We’re kind of hitting a dead spot here as Al Snow is in at number 20. Road Dogg puts out Bulldog as JR makes dog jokes. Venis is 21st. Funaki is thrown out for the third time as Taka is apparently hurt.

    That clip never gets old as they show it again. Prince Albert (A-Train) is 22nd as Edge is thrown out by Snow and Venis. Hardcore Holly is next. Amazingly enough, he gets no reaction. Rock is 24th to a HUGE reaction. There goes Boss Man. Billy Gunn is next as we’re getting close to the ending now. There goes Crash by the Rock. Road Dogg has hidden in the corner and has his arms and legs wrapped around the ropes. That’s rather smart.

    Big Show is 26th. Rock hits him before he gets in and the pop is there. Test is gone in about 4 seconds. Gangrel lasts a bit longer than Test did against Big Show, making it about 8 seconds. Show still has long hair here so he looks more intimidating. Bradshaw is 27th and the Posse helps the Outlaws put him out with ease. Kane is 28th and we’re getting to the good part now. Tori looks AMAZING in this little black dress.

    Kane puts out Snow in a few seconds and then Albert shortly thereafter. Godfather is 29th. I remember my father thinking he could have won this. Thankfully we don’t have a 20 second shot of the women to waste time. Funaki is back again and the joke is stupid now. X-Pac is in at 30 so our final group is X-Pac, Rock, Show, Kane, Snow, Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, Godfather and Holly.

    Again note how this is a good thing: there are potential winners in there instead of just one guy that you know is going to get it. Holly is out and we’re down to 8. There goes Godfather as I type that. Snow is gone. Gunn puts out Road Dogg and Kane puts him out within a span of 5 seconds to bring us down to Rock, Show, Pac and Kane. At least the biggest four of the final 9 are left. Kane goes under the ropes to fight the Outlaws for no apparent reason.

    X-Pac is thrown out but no one sees it. Kane and Big Show fight over a chokeslam as Kane slams him in a cool spot. Pac puts out Kane despite not being in there officially I guess. The Bronco Buster sucks the life out of this thing for me. Show throws him out with ease and we’re down to the best pairing possible with Big Show and Rock. The elbow gets a great pop. Show gets a chokeslam though to get crazy heat.

    Show sets him for kind of a powerslam move which at least makes sense to throw him over but Rock grabs the top rope and Show goes over instead while Rock slides in under the bottom rope. Later on there would be a story where Show says that Rock’s feet actually touched and he had video to prove it. That led to Rock vs. Show at No Way Out for the Mania spot which Show won.

    Vince came out and said that yes, Big Show was going to Mania, but the deal never said Rock wasn’t, so we got a triple threat. For no apparent reason, that match happened on Raw the Monday before. Linda then came out and said that it would be a four way at Mania, including the unretired for one night only Mick Foley.

    There was a McMahon in every corner as they made sure that the main event of Wrestlemania was again about them instead of the wrestlers. But enough about that as this Rumble was great.

    Rating: A-. This is how the Rumble is supposed to be done. Take a look at how they did this. You had the guys that were there to fill in the 30 spots in there first to make sure they were in and had an actual chance. Then we got the smartest move of the match: having Rikishi dominate.

    This does a few things: it allows the jobbers to be cleared out as well as making Rikishi look good AND it offers a bridge to the next segment of the match where guys like Test and Boss Man could come in and hang around until we got to the final batch of guys. That’s very smart booking and it made this match work very well.

    The Kai En Tai jokes were funny for the most part but it got to being overkill at the end. I was very happy with this whole match though as even though I knew the ending like the back of my hand, it worked and had me entertained. Excellent Rumble.

    Overall Rating: A. This is a GREAT show. There’s one stupid part with the tag titles but if that was done to give the two main events more time then I’m completely fine with it. There was still a match there and they didn’t try to put an emphasis on a match that few would have been the most interested in rather than taking away from two great main events.

    This was validation that the company could thrive without Austin and while I think he brings a lot to the table, he needed to go away for awhile to let some others get to his level. That was the issue: Rock or HHH or other people couldn’t get up to where Austin was because he was so high up there that it was impossible for anyone to touch him. His time taking time off gave everyone else a year to catch up, which was exactly what they needed. Definitely worth checking out.
     
    #35
  11. joejoe

    joejoe Lazy

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    KB,
    First off I love the reviews. I look forward to them all the time but your review of the 1999 Royal Rumble kinda irked me. Your whole rant about how the 1999 Rumble match had so many things that didn't make sense....well that statement doesn't make any sense to me..

    Allow me to explain. The whole Attitude era didn't make sense but it made for great TV and story lines at the time. I mean are we really supposed to believe that the Undertaker was holding Stephanie McMahon hostage and is going to marry her in a black wedding? Of course not that ridiculous. I mean why wouldn't Vince just call the police or fire the Undertaker right afterwords.

    When watching the Rumble where Austin came back in the ambulance, of course its not believable that he could steal an Ambulance and drive it back after getting his ass kicked to the point where he couldn't walk.. but it made for a fun moment and a great pop for the crowd.

    The point I'm trying to make is when watching anything from the attitude era you have to be a little more open minded and realize that even though something might not make much sense... at the time it was great and if you put yourself back in that time frame when watching these shows again it's still fun.
     
    #36
  12. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Yeah, but the Rumble was boring as hell. No one cared about anything but Austin and while that was going to be the case no matter what, they could have done so much more with it. More or less by having those two in there, it made the whole thing worthless until Austin got back. Why should I care about the other 35 minutes of bullshit going on in there? Sure teh AE was over the top, but this was just freaking boring.
     
    #37
  13. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 2001
    Date: January 21, 2001
    Location: New Orleans Arena, New Orleans, Louisiana
    Attendance: 16,056
    Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

    So with another year gone, two things have happened. First and foremost, Austin is back. He’s a bit weaker than he was before, but he’s still the biggest star in the world. Other than that, WCW is on its absolute death bed, as it would be out of business in about two months. The company is hot right now and they know it, so here they had more or less their 10th free shot in a row at having a great show and knowing there’s next to nothing WCW can do to touch them.

    The other big match is Angle vs. HHH for the title. There’s really not a lot to say about this show as the main thing really is just Austin. He’s not a lock to win though as Rock is a huge deal also. I don’t think anyone bought Angle as a main event level guy though, so he could win here and be fine. Either way, let’s get to this as I know at least the Rumble is good.

    The intro is of course bland and talking about ho this is the one night where you can win a chance to go to Mania. I get that that’s the main point, but could you please be a bit less generic? It’s not going to kill you for once.

    Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Edge and Christian

    My goodness it’s a non gimmick tag title match! The best I can gather is that Edge and Christian have been using chairs on the Dudleys so there’s a regular tag match because of it. Oh wait, Edge and Christian are the champions here? Well that makes more sense I guess. They used the chairs to help give them an advantage. Ok that actually does help things out a lot. The champions try to run after about 4 seconds as apparently the Dudleys are injured from the chairs still.

    Lawler is amused that they have concussions for some reason. Also for some reason they’re allowed to compete despite having concussions. Only in wrestling would that be perfectly fine. Bubba and Christian are in now and Bubba is holding his head without it being touched so if nothing else he’ selling. Jim and Jerry argue about teeth for no apparent reason. Bubba shouts way too much. It’s so weird to see Edge in the midcard and not incredibly over yet.

    We shift into more of a traditional formula here with D-Von fighting for everything he’s worth while the referee naturally misses a tag. While Bubba has the referee’s attention since he never was that bright, D-Von avoids another double chair shot. Once the Dudleys take over, Edge shows off his idiotic side by bringing in a title belt but he misses. That’s fine, but he lays it down. Why would you do that?

    Bubba is behind you, there’s no referee, so you lay down your weapon. He was still getting the hang of the top heel thing I guess. In a cool spot, the Dudleys set for 3D but Edge spears Bubba while D-Von has Christian up. It was cooler looking than it sounded. After Edge and Christian try to steal What’s Up, Edge gets hit by the 3D in an ending that felt kind of anti-climactic for some reason.

    Rating: B-. This was a match between two teams that fought about a thousand times but it was nice to see them do it without weapons for a change. That’s not something you often see and the good thing is you could have a good match without them. That’s always a good sign and a nice bit of fresh air from these guys. It wasn’t great but it was a good choice for an opener.

    Drew Carey is here.

    Vince says that Austin will be in the Rumble but HHH keeps his shot. This is about HHH accidently running into Austin and Austin beating the hell out of him which broke some agreement. The ruling was that Angle caused it so it didn’t actually break the order, which made it completely pointless.

    We go to Stephanie and HHH’s dressing room. This was just after Trish was caught bent over in front of HHH so that’s the main topic. Trish is going to be at ringside tonight. Stephanie cannot act, period. Drew Carey comes in and gets tips about how to do PPV because he’s doing Doritos presents Drew Carey’s Improv All Stars. Yes that’s actually what he calls it. He also apparently ran into Kamala at an airport and he’s now a singer. Amazingly enough, that’s real.

    Farrooq and Bradshaw show each other their Rumble numbers in a scene that was supposed to have gay overtones that failed completely. Crash comes in and threatens to eliminate them later.

    We get the recap of Jericho vs. Benoit, which more or less is both guys saying they’re better and Benoit having the IC Title, so they put it on the line in a ladder match. Do you need any more build that Jericho vs. Benoit in a ladder match? I don’t think so.

    Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho

    I’ve always loved the prove me wrong line that Benoit had. It was perfect for him as it was short and sweet and correct. That’s all you need a lot of the time. Jericho has a bad shoulder here too to offer some psychology to the match. It helps here as your arms can help you climb a ladder so if nothing else it fits the flow of the match here which can often be the most important part of the match.

    They bring the ladder in and somehow we get even more physical than we already were in this match. This was some of Jericho’s best in ring stuff around this time as he was clearly having a blast. See, the difference between WCW and WWF is that here, Benoit and Jericho are likely going to steal the show. They did it in WCW as well but there they would likely just do the same thing again until they jobbed to a 42 year old that didn’t need a push at all.

    Here, Benoit would be a workhorse that got all kinds of praise and big matches while in less than a year Jericho would be world champion. Ah here we go. It’s ladder and other weapons time. After some stiff as hell shots in the ring, Jericho goes to the floor and grabs a chair. Benoit launches a suicide dive at him but goes straight into the chair in a great looking spot. And see, Jericho SELLS THE SHOULDER. How hard is that for people to learn?

    This turns into a game of top this as they come up with more and more ridiculous ways to hurt each other with the ladder. One of them is Benoit being tied into the ladder on the second rope and Jericho hooking a side Russian legsweep on him, bringing the ladder down with them. There’s stuff in here straight out of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.

    Benoit gives Jericho a belly to back suplex over the top rope. That’s cool looking if nothing else. Climbing back in, we have a fight up on the top of the ladder, which leads to the spot of the match. Jericho knocks Benoit backwards, and puts THE WALLS OF JERICHO on him on top of the ladder. To say this looks both incredible and painful is a total understatement. That just got this match a much higher grade.

    Benoit goes off the ladder but has the energy to kick it over to save the title. This is great stuff here. Back on the mat, Jericho gets caught in the crossface and taps, but obviously this means nothing. There’s at least some psychology here as Benoit already has Jericho’s shoulder hurt so he works on it. That’s at least smart. Since there’s nothing else to do, Benoit is picked up and just thrown into the ladder.

    Why not? Sometimes the best solution is just to beat the other person up with the ladder. It’s working here if nothing else. In yet another great visual, we go to the top for a suplex but Jericho is shoved off. Benoit goes for the swan dive, and the whole crowd just rises to their feet to watch in amazement at what they’re seeing. That’s how you know you’re doing a great job: the crowd responds to you.

    We finally get one of the first dead spots of the match which is perfectly acceptable in this case as they’re half dead. This lasts all of four seconds though as Jericho comes back in with a chair and just wears out Benoit with it while he’s standing on the ladder. Benoit gets pushed off and bounces off the ropes, then the apron and then the floor, which is enough for Jericho to get the belt. DAMN that was painful looking. The highlight package of this match doesn’t do it justice.

    Rating: A. This was a freaking brutal fight. They beat the living crap out of each other here and are going to be hard to top. For some reason this match isn’t really remembered, and that was the case even before Benoit was deleted from history. These guys went at it like no other and beat the living hell out of each other. Go find a copy of this as it’s definitely worth it. Great brawling match with tons of brutal spots.

    Drew Carey hits on Trish and her boobs which ends up with him entering the Rumble.

    Chyna says she’s ready. She was still hot back then.

    Jericho says that was a war but he’s happy.

    We recap Chyna vs. Ivory, which is based on the RTC hating Chyna for being in Playboy (thank goodness!) and then spike piledriving her which allegedly broke her neck. Her line of I hate them while crying is a great thing.

    Women’s Title: Chyna vs. Ivory

    Around this time Chyna had this big pyro gun called the C-2000 that launched fireworks into the air which was kind of cool. Ross says that Ivory is sexually frustrated and menstruates 30 days a month. I’ve got nothing for that. If nothing else they got the description of her right: she’s more or less Lilith from Cheers.

    Chyna was supposed to be this woman that broke all kinds of barriers yet she wrestled in more or less a leather two piece swimsuit. If anything, Ivory in her full body outfit is the one breaking more barriers. This has been ALL Chyna. She beats up Richards and goes for a handspring elbow and falls down holding her neck because of it.

    That ends the match after Ivory’s body covers her. This led to her being completely fine and coming back to destroy Ivory in about 2 minutes at Wrestlemania to win the title and completely ruin it as there was no one but Lita that had a freaking prayer against her. She left the company maybe 6 months after this, never to be seen again. The stretcher part takes at least five minutes, which is longer than the match went. Her chest looks freaking amazing in that segment if nothing else.

    Rating: N/A. This was an angle, not a match. It wasn’t any good anyway, so there’s just not a lot to say here. It lasted about three minutes and was pure dominance.

    Stephanie runs into Trish. Hot women arguing ensues.

    Drew Carey tries to introduce himself to Kane. Recap not needed.

    Low Down, perhaps the dumbest idea ever, (D’lo Brown and Mosh as Arabs) argue with their manager about who should be in the Rumble. It doesn’t matter as Drew Carey gets their spot. Now this is an important point. Let’s compare this to WCW and David Arquette. Both Carey and David are about the same level of celebrity status and they’re here to promote something that not a lot of people are going to watch anyway. What does the WWF do?

    They replace a jobber in a match where he absolutely won’t be missed. Think about it: what would Brown or Mosh do in the match? Hang around for about seven minutes and be destroyed by either Taker or Kane or someone like that. Would anyone really miss either of them being in there? Not in the slightest. Instead, you get a celebrity in the match where he might bring in a few fans to the show. See, that’s how you use celebrities.

    You put them in a place where they don’t make a big difference at all, but they seem like they do. That’s smart business. You give up a little something and while you likely won’t get a big payoff, you might get a decent one. If not, you lost Mosh or D’Lo for one night. That’s something you can live with and if nothing else, Drew gets publicity and you look like nice guys. Now on the other hand you have WCW, where a celebrity of about equal status was there trying to promote something.

    What does WCW do? THEY MAKE HIM WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION, thereby making the wrestlers look pathetic, the title look like a joke, their PPV look like a bigger freak show than a pro wrestling show normally is, an more or less drive yet another spike into their own coffin.

    Instead of having him do something stupid with Disco Inferno or something for like 5 minutes on Nitro, they said that this actor is on equal footing with the champions of the other major company at the time, which at that time would have been HHH. See why they went out of business so fast?

    We hear opinions from the fans on who will win the title match tonight.

    HHH is getting ready and sounds like Darth Vader.

    We recap this feud, which consists of Angle hitting on Stephanie and Trish allegedly trying to sleep with HHH through some comedic mix ups.

    WWF Title: HHH vs. Kurt Angle

    Angle had won the title in the fall from the Rock and held it ever since, more or less in a huge Cinderella thing where no one could beat him and he just kept getting luckier and luckier, which is fine I guess. This is another hard match to comment on as both guys were just off the charts around this time as far as in ring work went. The good thing here is that they manage to balance the brawling style which dominated the era with some solid in ring work that both men excel out.

    This is another match that’s hard to criticize or poke fun at because it’s working really well. You don’t often hear about these two having chemistry but it’s there. Sadly though, the match runs a bit long for the fans. It’s about 25 minutes, and for purist fans like most of us here it’s a treat, but the problem is that this is still the Attitude Era, so if a match has a good amount of technical stuff in it or psychology etc., it’s considered boring.

    However there’s a part in here where it gets a pick me up as the two women come out and fight the hell out of each other. This is a bigger reaction than anything in the match. The problem with this match is simple. HHH is the undisputed top heel in the company as he was revealed as the guy that masterminded Austin being run down, but Angle was more or less built up as the midcard guy in over his head but still good enough to put the belt on.

    Think of Punk’s original reign and you’ll get what I mean. The problem here though is that HHH is simply a bigger star and at this point a better wrestler than Angle. Angle would get a lot better but this is probably the peak of HHH’s in ring ability as he was just so perfectly evil at this point and the in ring work backed that up to perfection.

    Anyway, you can tell that Angle is really finding his groove here as he’s getting a lot more intense than he used to be and is getting into that character that took the world by storm within a few years. This is mainly technical stuff as HHH uses the Indian Deathlock of all things, which no one buys at all, mainly because other than the Sharpshooter and the figure four, one of which is used and I’ll let you guess which one, no one taps to a submission hold.

    In another blast from the past, HHH busts out a Razor’s Edge. Hall was gone by this point from mainstream wrestling so this was a bit more acceptable I guess. Also the ratings were so low that I don’t think they could be seen from the ground anymore so who the hell cares? Anyway, Vince comes out to get the girls broken up, oddly enough picking this time to come out and get his hands on Trish. What a shock that is.

    Anyway, after they leave and the crowd more or less goes with them, the referee goes down twice. The second was great as he was down on the outside and HHH throws Angle into the post and Earl just slams into the steps in a solid bump. HHH misses a belt shot but there’s no zebra impersonator. He does however get a hell of a Pedigree that Angle takes perfectly.

    Austin runs out though and beats HHH up with Earl still down. At least in this case the bump the referee took looked awesome so you can validate him being down this long. HHH takes a belt shot so he’s down as Austin gets the referee back in there. He gets a Stunner in just for good measure and Angle keeps the belt. Angle would hold onto the belt until next month when Rock beat him for it to set up Mania 17.

    Rating: B. This was a very solid match, but the run in at the end kind of hurt it. The problem with Angle’s reign was he never had a definitive win to cement himself as champion, much like Punk’s first reign, and it suffered a lot because of that.

    I’m not saying you put him over HHH clean, but somewhere along the line he had to beat someone in a title match without help or cheating. Either way, HHH was great here and Angle was improving dramatically, so this was fine. I might have cut out 4-5 minutes, but it’s very solid all around.

    Rock says he’s ready for the Rumble. It’s funnier than it sounds.

    Royal Rumble

    Jeff Hardy is first and Bull Buchanan is second. It’s so weird to see Jeff as a total midcard guy that’s known for doing nothing but high spots. I had to pause for a second there to get my composure. Rikishi is number 30. In a stunning turn of events, Matt is number 3. Why does Ross always say wait a minute? We don’t have that kind of time. Naturally Bull is gone in about twenty seconds. I will give them this: they actually fight each other.

    The Steiners just wouldn’t do it and it sucked. Farrooq is 4th and they double team him of course. See, that’s a classic tactic but it works well. Jeff botches a double team spot. In other news, the sun came up today. The double team finisher leads to Simmons being thrown out. Now we get to the fun part as they just throw punches. Jeff gets a SICK Whisper in the Wind as Drew Carey is 5th. This was when he was actually a big deal so this was a cooler thing that it seems like.

    I thought they were booing but they’re chanting Drew. Matt and Jeff put each other out so Drew stands alone. In a truly great moment, Kane is number 6. The look on Drew’s face and the reaction of the crowd and Ross absolutely panicking is just perfect all around. Kane walks around the ring and does the fire thing. Drew tries to get Matt and Jeff to come back then tries to pay Kane.

    He gets put up in a chokeslam but Raven and his sweet music save him as number seven. Drew waves goodbye and eliminates himself. He walks to the back, high fives some fans and is never seen in the WWF again. See, that right there is how it’s done.

    Drew was in there all of three minutes or so, he got a solid response from the crowd, he took the place of D’lo or Mosh who Kane would have put out in about 10 seconds and no one would have remembered, Drew comes out of it having lost no respect at all, and he got some publicity for his PPV. Everyone wins.

    There was nothing wrong with this and it came off great. Anyway, Raven gets thrown through the ropes which allows Al Snow who Raven had injured to run out early and beat on Raven. His clock goes off so he’s in now and he brings weapons. One of these is a garbage can, and for the first time ever, it has garbage in it. He also gets a bowling ball which he rolls into Raven’s crotch.

    In a chilling line, Ross says this is what New Orleans looks like after a bad hurricane. Saturn is 9th with Terri who is about to fall out of her top. All three guys work on Kane, and they prove that they’re idiotic by beating on him enough to get him on the mat, instead of, you know, OVER THE TOP. Blackman is 10th, and being the genius he is he beats on everyone not named Kane. This big long hardcore thing isn’t working for me or the audience either.

    The division was just dead by this point and it’s showing badly. Grandmaster is 12th and now we get to the fun part. Kane goes to the floor and grabs a garbage can and just freaking kills everything in sight with it. He knocks all five out in about 20 seconds with some sick shots. Blackman tries to skin the cat and Kane just blasts him over the head which makes me chuckle.

    Number 12 is the Honky Tonk Man who sings and plays the guitar. That seriously might be the greatest gimmick of all time. I mean really, a wrestling Elvis impersonator? That’s just amazing on a ton of levels. Seeing Kane, more or less a crazy sociopath behind Honky for this is hilarious. Honky is gone in about a minute and Rock is 13 to a big ole pop. Kane is a lot more muscular here than he usually is.

    Goodfather is 14th and for some reason there’s a big Rumble R over the right side of the screen but not that left. That looks odd. Goodfahter is in for about 2 seconds as Rock puts him out. Ross gets in another of his out there lines by saying Kane is a carnivore chewing on a big piece of Rock Burger. Yeah I’ve got nothing. Tazz and his awesome music is 15th and he lasts longer than Goodfather, being eliminated in 8 seconds or so.

    13 people have been eliminated. Kane has put 7 of them out. Bradshaw gets us into the second half, and oddly enough he had the longest world title reign of these three. That’s just weird to say. Albert is 17th, making the shortest man in this match at the moment is Rock who stands 6’5. Hardcore Holly is in at 18. We’re at kind of a slow point here as not a lot is going on.

    K-Kwik, more commonly known as R-Truth is 19th. Bradshaw powerbombs the living fuck out of him. That was painful as hell. Val Venis is number 20. He’s still in the RTC at this point. This match has a noticeable lack of energy to it which isn’t good at all. I think Rock came in way too early. He’s a big deal and he’s been in there awhile already. Right now Kane and Rock are the only two that are really up and doing much of anything.

    William Regal, still a smiley heel is 21st. He has a lot of heat on him if nothing else. Test is 22nd. Not a lot is happening here at all and we need to get rid of some of the people in there. As I typed the word some, Regal is gone. Test, the guy that threw him out, would win the European Title from him before Mania. He then kicks the hell out of Venis.

    Big Show makes his return at 23. Good GRIEF that man is fat. He throws out Truth and Test in about a second each and then chokeslams literally everyone other than Rock so they’re all down. Rock manages to get a low blow in and knock Show out before the next guy comes out. Show isn’t happy though and chokeslams Rock through the table in a cool looking spot. Crash is 24th.

    Everyone joins together to beat on Kane. Rock is out on the floor. He’s selling perfectly too. Taker is 25th and it’s on. He saves Kane from a massive beatdown and they look at each other and Taker gives him a sign. Within 15 seconds, all five others in the match are gone so it’s Taker, Kane (he’s eliminated nine people here, which I think ties him for the record at the moment) and Rock who is still on the floor.

    There had been talk of Taker and Kane hooking up again and apparently that was true. In an amusing spot, Scotty is 26th. Guess how this goes for him. The idiot actually gets in the damn ring. In a flat out brutal beatdown, Scotty is punched, kicked, kicked in the face and takes a double chokeslam before they throw him out together. 27th is Austin, and to say the place pops is an understatement.

    However, he doesn’t make it to the ring just yet as HHH is here. Rock is back in and all of a sudden this is awesome. See what happens when you don’t have any stupid fillers in there and you just put the big, talented stars in there?

    HHH beats the hell out of Austin and cuts him open, which to be fair works because he jumped him from behind so Austin never had a fair shot. Billy Gunn is 28th and the level of awesome is just sucked out of this thing. Taker hits Rock with that sweet running DDT that I wish he would bust out a lot more often.

    Haku of all people is 29th. Note: he was at the time FAR more famous as Meng. He was also the WCW hardcore champion at the time, but WCW in its eternal brilliance put a title on a guy that was getting paid per appearance and had no formal contract. His return lasted all of six month or so but it was kind of cool I guess. I thought it was more like a month, but whatever. He teamed with Rikishi which went nowhere and he because a Heat guy after awhile.

    Ross’ blatant cheering of Austin and calling it a damn shame is really annoying. We get it: you love Austin. You’re supposed to at least try to be unbiased. Granted, I have to wonder how much of this is Ross and how much is Vince screaming in his ear. Rikishi is number 30 but Austin jumps him on his way in. Your final grouping is Rikishi, Haku, Billy Gunn, Rock, Kane, Taker and Austin. Austin puts out Haku to get us down to six.

    Taker gets a good chokeslam on Rikishi which impressed me. They seriously tried to make Rikishi a legit big deal and to say it failed is the understatement of the year. To further my point, they actually let him put Taker out with a kick. I can’t stand Vince’s fascination with huge men at times. Seriously, he just put Rikishi over Taker.

    Rather than having Rock, Austin, Kane and Taker as almost a dream final four, we get Billy Gunn, Rock, Kane and Austin as Rock puts Rikishi out. Billy gets a Fameasser on Austin but this I guess energizes him to allow him to put Billy out to get us to three. Austin is down in a corner, Rock puts Kane down and falls in another corner, and you know what’s coming. Rock wins the fistfight and the fans are clearly more into Rock than Austin.

    Austin catches him with a Stunner as Kane is somehow still down. There’s a Rock Bottom to a great pop. It was kind of clear that Austin wasn’t as big of a deal as he used to be as Rock had surpassed him. This is the period that Rock lovers point to and say Rock was bigger than Austin. That’s like saying that Jim Brown, who was the best running back of all time and played in the 50s and 60s isn’t as good as Ladanian Tomlinson today.

    Well duh of course not the man is in his 70s. Austin was past his peak here while Rock was in the middle of his. If Austin never left, Rock doesn’t hit this level, end of argument. If you believe otherwise, I’d love to hear your reasoning because it’s wrong. Anyway, Rock throws Kane through the ropes to give us more Rock and Austin. Lawler says he’s been waiting for years to see this. That’s odd as it’s been less than two years since their last Mania match but whatever.

    Kane hits a chokeslam here as despite Austin being the relatively clear winner, it’s not for sure which makes this ending a lot better. Also it’s not like Austin is in there with Billy Gunn or someone completely ridiculous. Kane is a legit contender here which is making all the difference in the world. Kane gets a chair but Austin gets a counter and hits a Stunner.

    Austin gets three very solid chair shots and a clothesline sends him to Wrestlemania, where he would take the title from Rock who would win it in a month and thankfully turn heel which thankfully Vince recognized was the only way to go. Basically, turn Austin heel had been the big movement online around this time as it was clear that Rock was the bigger face and it appeared that Vince was trying to make Austin bigger by sheer force. Luckily he woke up for once and we got Mania 17 out of it.

    Rating: B. While not as good as last year’s this was still very solid. Austin winning made sense, the last two guys both also could have won, the midcard was well represented, and other than Billy, there was no one there at the end that wasn’t a legit winner. Carey offered a bit of flavor to the match and I think it helped.

    It was something different, but it’s well remembered because it was well done. That’s proof you have a good moment. Kane was the story here though as they made him look awesome. His reward: a short run with the hardcore title because that’s how he’s respected. Anyway, this was very good stuff and above all else, it worked.

    Overall Rating: A. This is a very good show. Every match has something good to offer, as the Chyna match was the worst but she looked awesome in it. There are five matches: four are for titles and the last is the Rumble. That’s a stacked card if there ever was one. Carey offered some mainstream appeal which is never a bad thing unless you completely screw it up and they didn’t here so that enhances this even more. This is definitely a top level show and certainly worth checking out.
     
    #38
  14. joejoe

    joejoe Lazy

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    Just because you know what the ending is going to be doesn't make it any less fun. Especially during the attitude era. I mean at Mania 14 everyone knew Austin was going to win it was still fun to watch. Same with last years mania Taker was going to win but it was still great to watch.

    The attitude era was more or less defined by Austin/McMahon and most of the time everything else seemed secondary. But everyone accepted that so it was OK for the Rumble to be focused on when Austin was going to come back. The whole rumble was built towards that final confrontation with Austin and Vince.

    When looking back at the reviews I think its important to consider the time frame and what was going on when these PPVs were taking place.

    Either way thank you for writing all of them.
     
    #39
  15. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Yeah, and the Rumble was still boring.

    Why in the hell should I care about any of these people? I know the time frame and it sucked back then and it sucked now. There are about 30 minutes that are just boring as hell with guys just standing in the ring alone. How in the hell is that supposed to be entertaining? The booking was so freaking stupid it's unreal.
     
    #40
  16. joejoe

    joejoe Lazy

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    If the booking was so freaking stupid why was this era the most successful era in the WWF/E history? Money was made ratings soared through the roof.

    Being 15 at the time everything seemed like can't miss TV. There were a handful of good matches but it was all about the angles and the 1999 rumble did its job..furthered the angle.
     
    #41
  17. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Overall yes. This show was completely terrible though. I mean really, look at the thirty names and how many of them are worthless jobbers? The era itself was great but this particular show was awful. The booking was stupid as hell. Why would Road Dogg vs. Boss Man not be a hardcore match? Why should we have two instances of guys standing alone in the ring with nothing happening at all? Also, Vince McMahon won the Rumble. I can't emphasize that enough.
     
    #42
  18. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 2002
    Date: January 20, 2002
    Location: Phillips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
    Attendance: 12,915
    Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

    WCW is dead. That’s the big deal here obviously. A lot of the wrestlers from there are now here. Well mainly just those with talent or those that will sell t-shirts. Other than that, you have one major thing going on here: HHH is back tonight. The way I know that is based off of this video:

    [youtube]EV3h34tUIcQ[/youtube]

    That is by far and away the coolest moment I can ever remember on Raw. HHH, out about 8 months with a torn quad, is back now to reclaim his glory in the Royal Rumble. Also in the Rumble we have Austin, Angle, Taker and that’s about it. Other than the Rumble, we have Vince vs. Flair in a street fight and Rock facing Jericho for the newly formed Undisputed Title.

    This show more or less is designed to give HHH the Mania shot but still making it look cool. The end of the Monday Night Wars have kind of hurt the company though, as there’s no reason to go insane in trying to crush WCW anymore. Anyway, let’s get to this as the card looks pretty good.

    The intro is set to Cocky by Kid Rock and it showcases all of the major stars that are in the Rumble, which is a smart idea if nothing else. It wasn’t as generic as it has been in the past so that’s a perk if nothing else.

    Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Spike Dudley and Tazz

    Spike and Tazz were some of the oddest tag champions of all time. I vaguely remember them being champions, but not by much. They held them for a month and a half just before the draft and other than that they never did a thing again. This is the hottest period of Stacy’s career as the Duchess of Dudleyville. Just pure perfection in a woman.

    The Dudleys beat on Spike on Smackdown and gave him a 3D in the parking lot so his neck is messed up. King is very annoying here too. This feels a lot like a TV match. The heels hit an AWESOME looking double flapjack on Spike, getting him way up there. This match is way too short here as it’s only about five minutes long.

    Spike hits a Dudley Dog and finally, which is a stretch as he was only down for a bit, gets the tag to Tazz. Stacy gets up on the apron but for no reason at all we go to a shot of the crowd that looks like it’s at the beginning of a TV show. Anyway, within seconds, Tazz has D-Von in the Tazmission and we’re done. Yeah that’s really it.

    Rating: C-. This was a bit out there. It felt like something that belonged on Raw. I really don’t get the point of this pairing but it works fine I suppose. The Dudleys were still the best tag team in the company, but with no one to feud with on their level they were really kind of worthless. And people say the tag division has been alive for a long time. Yeah right.

    Edge and Regal have been fighting for a long time now.

    Edge is in the back and says that he’s ready for a fight.

    Intercontinental Title: Edge vs. William Regal

    Edge is defending here. Regal was using brass knuckles a lot around this time so Nick Patrick looks all over the place for them before the match starts. Edge is rocking the completely awesome Rob Zombie song here. Damn I love that song. Edge gets one fuck of a pop. If there has ever been a poster boy for coming up from the bottom of the card to the midcard to the main event in the modern era, it’s Edge. He needs to come back as a face.

    The referee finds knuckles on Regal in his tights. That brings on a ton of jokes from Lawler of course. Edge broke Regal’s nose with a chair to cause him to need a bunch of nose surgeries. We get a MASSIVE Regal sucks chant as the crowd is very hot. Nick Patrick’s voice is very deep to say the least. Lawler gives us some great insight here by telling us a broken nose hurts. In a cool spot, Regal has a double underhook (setup for the Pedigree) and Edge backdrops him but Regal hangs on.

    That looked good. Lawler talking about noses is getting up to the level of annoyance of puppies here. Regal’s agility is underrated. He really is light on his feet. Regal hooks the Regal Stretch which lasts for a little while. Edge’s eyes are of course greatness personified. Edge gets the bastard version of it on to be rude but it doesn’t work at all.

    A fan shouts break his neck Regal, which is ironic as Edge would do just that in just over a year. The referee gets speared so Regal can get the knuckles out. The longest time to make a count in history ends this for Regal. He of course swears it was all just a regular punch.

    Rating: C-. The main thing this has going for it is that it’s brutal. I mean these two beat each other up very well. Again though, I could have seen this on a Raw or Smackdown. PPV matches are supposed to be special ones that the TV shows build up to. That wasn’t the case here as there’s nothing here to justify paying for. That’s not good.

    With no transition at all, here we are at the next match.

    Women’s Title: Jazz vs. Trish Stratus

    Jazz was more or less the Chyna of ECW. They brought her over in the Invasion angle and then realized the flaw in that plan: no one knew who she was. She had been around for about a year and did a few things of note but nothing worthy of being known on this scale. Anyway, Jacqueline is the guest referee here. This wasn’t announced on TV, and the reason is there’s no point to it and no one would have cared anyway.

    They were trying to make it a big deal that women were refereeing here, but they couldn’t have done it worse. For one thing, she might have been the least cared about Diva ever. I mean did anyone like her? Also, naturally, she’s in a tied off top so it’s about sex appeal (or in her case the lack thereof) all over again. Trish is still pretty bad in the ring at this point but you can see that there’s talent there. At the time I’m writing this, I’m debating why ECW failed as a national company with NSL.

    While Jazz is on the way to the ring, we see a very quick video of Jazz hurting Trish’s hand while King alludes to Jazz going after Trish in the past few weeks. See what they did right there? Inside of 30 seconds they’ve explained that Jazz has been aggressive towards Trish, established Jazz as the heel here, shown that Trish might not be 100% coming into this match, and said that this has been going on for at least a few weeks because King is mentioning other things that Jazz has done.

    That took about 20 seconds. ECW at Barely Legal didn’t do that for most of the matches, and it would have helped tremendously. Apparently Jackie was the other option for #1 contender and lost, so that validates her being a referee. Again, there’s an explanation. It’s freaking stupid, but it’s something at least. Trish’s hand is indeed bandaged.

    Jazz kicks her ass for the most part early on but Trish manages to get a sunset flip to set up a very good pinfall reversal sequence that was damn impressive. Jazz and Jackie get into it after Jazz takes over. Jackie gives a slow count as this is just horrible. Trish gets a not great Stratusfaction for two and Jazz is dominating again. She hits it again for the win. Yeah that’s it. Jazz destroyed her for the majority of the three minutes and then that bulldog ends it. WOW.

    Rating: D+. This was sloppy as hell. Jackie had no point to being in this at all and added nothing to it. Jazz was just not worth having in there at all either as no one bought her as a big deal. Trish was just awful at this point but it was clear she had some skills. There would be times in her matches where you would stop and go holy shit at the things she would come up with. Eventually she would get a lot better, but not for awhile.

    We recap Vince vs. Flair which makes me think there have been almost no backstage segments tonight which is very odd for a show like the Rumble. Anyway, this feud is because after the Alliance died, Flair bought Shane and Stephanie’s shares of the company, which led to the brand split soon after this. Vince said that it was his company so he hates Flair, leading to this match. Yeah it’s contrived but who cares?

    Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon

    Naturally it’s a street fight. This was back in the day when Flair still was in passable shape and could have some decent matches in the ring. Flair’s family is in the front row. Ross actually thinks it’s a big deal that Vince made Flair bleed. A hard stare can do that. Fink in the ring in the tux just looks right. Ross points out that both men are former world champions and former Rumble winners as it occurs to me how completely ridiculous Vince has been about pushing himself as a wrestler.

    I know that he loves this very much but there comes a point where it’s just pushing yourself way too hard. Even Eric Bischoff didn’t get this bad. This has been a standard match so far. It’s very sad when a guy like Flair, who could put on classic matches with absolutely anyone (he had a very good match with Hawk of all people at Bunkhouse Stampede. If that doesn’t prove he’s the best ever, nothing will) has to get beaten up by Vince here, so Vince’s ego can be stroked.

    Now we bring in the weapons which we need pretty badly here to validate Vince’s advantage. The fans are all behind Flair here of course. Flair is bleeding. I’m blown away. Lawler is cheering Vince on to no end here, which doesn’t surprise me. Flair showed up in Memphis around 1984 or 85 for a one night appearance and started the Jimmy Hart vs. Jerry Lawler feud that went on for the better part of a decade and caused more injuries to Lawler than should be humanly possible.

    They’ve been on the floor for a good while now and Vince is dominating. He gets the camera from Flair’s family and takes a picture of them. That was just freaking pointless but then again Vince is involved in it so there we are. Oh good night take me now Vince is trying to use wrestling holds. Oh yeah the gimmick of the match is that Vince is turned on by destroying people, leading to a ton of bad jokes from Lawler.

    Flair gets put in the figure four after having his legs worked on. Ross says this would ruin his professional career. That happened years before this so we have no worries there. Flair get the reversal and after being in the hold all of 2 seconds, Vince is limping. Holy oversell Batman. Vince finds a pipe that he hit Flair with a few weeks ago. Flair gets the forearm to the area below the balls but not quite to the ass to break that up though.

    Ross says Vince’s heart, if he has one, is blacker than sin. No one can ever accuse Ross of being underwhelming. For no apparent reason, Flair looks at a monitor, which would show him looking at a monitor. This fascinates him for some reason. That makes great sense I suppose. Not really but I want to move on.

    In a sick spot, Flair bites Vince’s open cut. I really hope he’s not a Twilight fan. Flair gets Vince’s pipe and knocks him over the head with a decent sounding shot. He puts the figure four on and Vince taps out. Apparently the pain causes him to wake up. The hold is released and Vince passes out again. That was pretty bad.

    Rating: D+. This was a waste of time. It was two old guys fighting and trying to be hardcore and it failed miserably. The cut Flair had was decent but I still fail to see what the point of this was. Flair, a legendary wrestler, beat a non wrestler and that’s a big deal? This was just to say that Flair fought Vince and nothing more. This was pretty weak.

    We see Jericho beating Rock at Vengeance to win the Undisputed Title, which is misleading because he beat Rock for the WCW title then Austin later on. To say Jericho was in over his head in this role is an understatement. Rock beat Booker to get his shot tonight. Jericho having a mental meltdown over Rock making fun of him is pretty good stuff.

    Stephanie brags about what HHH is going to do to Austin tonight and what she would like to do to Debra, Austin’s wife. Austin comes up behind her and hilarity ensues. The WHAT chant could work really well if the timing was there.

    WWF Title: Rock vs. Chris Jericho

    Jericho still has both belts here which is kind of odd. They needed to just use the WWF one as it’s perfect looking as a title. The story was that HHH was supposed to be the champion first but since he wasn’t ready in time he got a Mania title win out of it and a new belt to go with it. No one bought Jericho as champion and I don’t think anyone ever has in any of his reigns. To be fair though, while he’s amazing on the mic as a heel, in the ring it just falls short.

    No heel, especially one the size of Jericho, is going to be believable with a submission as his primary finishing move. It just doesn’t work. These two had been feuding over the WCW title for awhile before the Undisputed Title came into being. The promos of course were off the charts. That should be what this match is: a debate. It would have been more entertaining, which is saying a lot as the matches tended to be at least pretty good.

    The beginning here is mainly feeling each other out which is fine. Jericho goes shoulder first into the post yet stays in control anyway. Well ok then. They’re starting slowly here. Not boring mind you but just slowly. That’s fine as it’s building to a big finish, which is that pesky little thing called psychology. Rock has his really short hair here which I’ve never liked at all. Jericho goes up but gets crotched as Rock hits the ropes. If nothing else that’s realistic so I’ll take it.

    Ross says a pair of 2’s don’t beat anything. Any card player want to blast him there? The crowd is quite hot for this match which is always a good sign. Rock kicks out of two Lionsaults, as he brings the move back to life to kill its credibility even worse than it already was.

    Rock hooks the really bad Sharpshooter while barely sitting back on it but Lance Storm and Christian, who were the UnAmericans soon after this with Jericho as an associate member soon after this, have the referee’s attention while Jericho taps. He gets out of it though and hits a Rock Bottom on the Rock for two. Jericho follows it up with the People’s Elbow as I’m just not buying him in the main event here.

    He’s trying as hard as he can and the match is fine here, but he’s just in over his head I think. They hit the floor and Jericho takes a sweet looking Rock Bottom through the Spanish announce table. Finkel running away from the area is a great visual. Lawler for some reason tells Fink to put the table back together. The image of him as a carpenter with that perfect voice of his is very amusing for some reason.

    After a Walls of Jericho doesn’t work (SHOCKED), the referee goes down so we get Nick Patrick, who has been very pro-Jericho recently. Rock gets a cover but Patrick won’t count. He gets a Rock Bottom and Jericho gets the elbow. With the referee still down, Jericho gets a low blow and a rollup with his feet on the ropes for the pin. Apparently Rock’s head hit an exposed turnbuckle too. That’s better I guess.

    Rating: B+. While I didn’t really buy Jericho out there and there were some bad spots, this was a solid 20 minute match. It was designed to put Jericho over as a heel and I think it did that. The key thing was that there was at least a pin and not him keeping the belt by DQ or something. He cheated to get it, but that’s what a heel does. Rock was a bigger star so Jericho shouldn’t have gotten a clean pin so to me this was acceptable.

    Jericho had it in the ring, but he didn’t feel like a world champion. Granted having to contend with the still incredibly popular Rock and Austin and the returning HHH and being more or less a guy to keep the belt warm for HHH, AND the NWO returning the next month, there was no way Jericho was going to get a fair shot at being seen as the top guy at the moment. This was good stuff though.

    We get a long package about the Rumble which had been shown on TV a bunch of times in the weeks leading up to this.

    Royal Rumble

    Fink’s intro takes just shy of forever to get through. Rikishi is number one and Goldust is number 2. This is around the time that Rikishi was transitioning into something close to being a badass. Goldust is making a return here as apparently they were really hard up for talent or something. We’ve been going about 90 seconds here and I’m already bored out of my mind with this. They really couldn’t have picked a worse pair to start this out.

    Three is Big Boss Man, who just won’t go away for some reason. This enforcer role never got over at all. He hits a clothesline on Rikishi and the fat guy does his inside out flip. Why is that impressive when we see it every time he gets hit by a clothesline? Bradshaw is fourth and this is just flat out horrible so far. The smallest guy in there is 6’6 and 260lbs. That might have something to do with it.

    Stink face to Boss Man, which is still the dumbest move in history. Rikishi uses one of the two moves he was good at, a superkick, to set up the elimination of Boss Man. Bradshaw hits a powerbomb on Goldust to hopefully give him something resembling interest in him as Lance Storm is 5th. There is just nothing of note going on here. It’s just guys that you know aren’t going to win trying to throw each other out in something that’s never going to happen.

    Snow brings the level of interest up to nonexistent at number 7. Storm takes a solid Clothesline From Hell. The fans aren’t that into this either so it’s not just me. Oddly enough, Snow gets the biggest reaction of anyone. Billy, currently being homosexual, is 8th. In a very cool sequence, Snow and Storm fight on the apron in a kind of karate match until Snow puts Storm out. That was a lot cooler than it sounded. Bradshaw is out too.

    We have Billy, Goldust, Rikishi and Snow in there at the moment as Taker is 9th. He had been vowing to win the Rumble and he’s also recently heel. He puts out all four with relative ease. Typically I like that format, but there’s just pure apathy from me on this for some reason. Matt Hardy with a delicious looking Lita is next. Taker had beaten up the Hardys and Lita recently so there’s some story here.

    Lita comes in also and manages to slow down Taker which is more than the worthless Matt can do. Say it with me: Jeff is 10th. He’s wearing a hat for no apparent reason. They get him down and then Lita comes in and they triple stomp him. Apparently the three of them had been fighting recently which I vaguely remember. They hit their double team move, and for the life of me I don’t get why Taker doesn’t know how to take the Twist of Fate.

    He always sells it like a spinning neckbreaker and ends up on his back which is just completely wrong. Jeff gets thrown out and Matt gets a Last Ride before he’s out too. Eyebrows Huffman, more commonly known as Maven, is number 11. He had won Tough Enough maybe 4 months prior to this so he’s a complete rookie here. Lita gets up on the apron and the Hardys come back in.

    They get tossed with ease, but as Taker is yelling at them, Maven gets back up and in easily the biggest upset in Rumble history, Maven hits a dropkick to the back of Taker to eliminate him. The reaction from the crowd and Ross and the look on Taker’s face are by far and away the best thing since 97 when Austin heard Hart’s music. I mean this was like Santino on his first night beating Umaga without Lashley’s help.

    It was completely insane as Taker was one of the heavy favorites for this. Taker more or less loses any sense of emotion on his face but slowly turns to look at Maven. Just take a guess as to what starts happening next. Once the beating starts they go to the floor and Maven takes a freaking sick chair shot. Taker shoves a cameraman down and we get a shot of his legs flying into the air which is just amusing. Taker puts him back in the ring as Scotty comes in at number 12.

    Taker punches him down, and this winds up keeping him down for about three minutes. Yeah one punch does that apparently. Taker throws Maven over the ropes and we go into the crowd where there just happens to be a space with no fans there. What a coincidence! They go up the stairs and into a concession area where Taker puts Maven through a popcorn machine. Christian is in at 13 somewhere during this time but we just see him in the ring.

    Scotty is still down by the way. FINALLY he gets up and after the audience has had nothing to see for about 5 minutes we have the clash of Scotty vs. Christian. Maven is officially still in but they just say fuck it. He got a world title match the next night that did nothing at all. DDP is 14th. He might be the worse use of a character that Vince has ever had. I mean he was a god in WCW and he’s a self help guy in the WWF. That’s Vince for you.

    We see Maven again and if nothing else he sells quite well for a rookie. We get a Diamond Cutter on Christian and there goes Scotty after the Worm, which actually might be dumber than the Stink Face. Chuck is 15th as the jobber Rumble continues. I mean really why in the world should I care about this match in the slightest? Actually scratch that. I get why I should care about the match but there’s zero reason to care about any of the people in there.

    Christian is European Champion which you need to know because typing it killed some time here. This whole show has been that way. The matches have been ok up to this point but GEEZ there is just nothing appealing about this match at all for me. To further the greatness here we have Godfather returning but no longer as a pimp. He now owns an escort service. Just take me now please.

    He has 12 women with him and spends so much time dancing with them that not only do we miss DDP’s elimination but Albert, the Hip Hop Hippo at this point and I wish I was making that up, is being counted down for the 17th entrant as Godfather gets in the ring. Christian and Chuck put him out in about 30 seconds. Godfather goes out soon thereafter but not before we get that stupid as hell running splash.

    Perry Saturn, completely insane at this point is 18th. His tights have a cow pattern on them. This really is mind numbingly boring at this point. No one cares about anything in this match for the most part either. THANK GOODNESS Austin is 19th to breathe some much needed life into this damn thing. He clears the ring before anyone else is in. In a funny moment he looks at an invisible watch and goes out and gets Christian and Chuck and throws them in to stun them and then throw them out again.

    The crowd is awake for the first time in this whole match. Val Venis returns (it’s a theme thing tonight) and doesn’t look as good with short hair. His gimmick overshadowed his in ring ability as he was actually pretty damn good in the ring. The crowd is just insane for Austin here as we’re in the WHAT phase of his career. Part of the problem here is that there haven’t been a lot of people in the ring that aren’t jobbers.

    The small amounts of people make it hard to really get anything going that feels like a good Rumble. Test is 21st. Geez did they ever miss the boat on him in 1999. He never got anywhere close to that level again either. Test misses a big boot on Austin and hits Venis so he’s gone. Test follows him about 30 seconds later so Austin is alone again and we have 9 entries to go.

    22 is HHH and the reaction is good but not what JR wants us to believe. To make sure we don’t have a great showdown for two minutes or close to it because that would be, you know, interesting, HHH walks at an Undertaker pace. They really must have been trying to protect HHH here as they talk for a bit and they punch each other for ten seconds before the clock starts again and it’s Hurricane at 23.

    He lasts about 30 seconds so at least we’ll get some Austin vs. HHH here. What are Hurricane’s powers supposed to be anyway? Have they ever been listed? Farrooq is 24th but instead of allowing him to start a ring full of people he’s out in less time than Hurricane. Mr. freaking Perfect is 25th which was a surprise I think. He would actually stick around for a few months after this. He was still relatively young here at 42, so it’s not like he was ancient.

    For some reason we again are told that he made his Rumble debut in 93, which is just bullshit as he was 4th in 89. Angle makes is in his first Rumble match at 26. For absolutely no apparent reason, Austin saves HHH just before Big Show comes in at 27. He’s wearing that one piece swimsuit that they claim was ring attire. They say he’s the biggest athlete in sports entertainment history which is so wrong I’m not even going to touch it.

    Show and Austin never had that big match which I’m sure would have at least been pretty good. Angle is in a gorilla press but HHH makes the save, as Ross does the smart thing and says in essence that Angle would be useful in helping get rid of Show. Kane is 28th and I really want this thing to just end already. They do the completely clichéd double chokeslam spot that is just stupid at this point.

    Kane does something impressive though by picking Show up and cleanly throwing him over the top in a slam. Angle puts Kane out less than a minute after he got in. Are we not allowed to have more than 5 people in a match for more than 30 seconds or something? RVD is 29th to a GREAT pop. He can’t be world champion though. He can just get great pops and put on great matches and look awesome, but he’s clearly not world title material.

    He comes in with a Five Star on Angle. He gets an awesome RVD chant in his honor, but HHH’s pop killing sense kicks in and he hits a Pedigree to end that. We can’t have someone else getting over now can we? I didn’t think so. Let’s have no more of such crazy thoughts now. Booker is 30th, so your final group is Booker, RVD, Angle, Perfect, Austin and HHH. Well if nothing else the ending is star packed.

    Why in the world would you get rid of Show and Kane that fast though? They pointed out how awesome Kane was last year so it’s not like that’s been forgotten. Booker eliminates Van Dam less than 10 seconds after he gets in and does a Spinarooni and is put out after being in the ring 30 seconds. Ok seriously, WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON??? Why in the world are these major stars going out in like a minute and a half each?

    Austin breaks up a string of Germans with a WEAK low blow. I mean that was awful looking. This has to be a way to protect HHH or something. That’s the only way to explain the absurd booking of this thing. As Austin explains a spot to Perfect, Angle runs up and executes said spot by putting Austin out. To further protect HHH, everyone but him goes to the floor. That lasts all of four seconds, making it completely pointless.

    Austin gets a chair and kills everyone not named HHH with it but then nails him anyway to make sure it’s a completely matched set. That was just a completely pointless bit as Austin just wasn’t a huge deal anymore. He should have fought Hogan at Mania though and there is zero arguing that, period. There’s no way anyone can convince me that Rock vs. Hogan was bigger than Austin vs. Hogan would have been.

    Also, why in the hell would you put Austin, the guy who main evented Mania the previous year, in a midcard throwaway match with SCOTT FREAKING HALL??? Perfect, the genius that he is, hooks the Perfectplex, which in this situation is a short suplex that doesn’t have a snap to it.

    HHH puts him out so we’ve got Angle vs. HHH to finish us. And of course HHH Hulks Up and wins it to send us to the most lackluster main event of Mania in years because Hogan vs. should have been Austin was the real main event.

    Rating: C-. The ending was the only appealing thing about this and even it was bad. Seriously, Booker, RVD, Show and Kane, four former world champions, were in the match a combined six and a half minutes, with about 90 seconds of that being walking to the ring. That’s just ridiculous on a ton of levels. It’s not like they would have been unrealistic in the ending or anything like that.

    Last year’s was great, but there are three things here that messed this one up for me. First of all, it was pretty clear that HHH was going to win. I know there were legit alternatives in there at the end so that helped a lot, but it was still pretty clear. Second, the Iron Man last year was Kane at about 53 minutes. This year it was HHH at about 23. See the problem there? There’s no one that’s there for the entire Rumble to build up anything with.

    Finally, unless I missed it, the longest amount of time there were six guys or more in there was about 45 seconds at the end. That’s just not enough to really get anything going. This was a bad Rumble in my eyes.

    Overall Rating: B-. This is a quite good show. The women’s match is less than 4 minutes so the only bad match is a pizza break match. Still though, despite a solid card and a series of pretty good matches (while the Rumble was bad, it’s still watchable because it’s the Rumble and the ending is solid. I’m going to change that from a D+ actually.) there’s just something missing here.

    It lacks the pop of 2000 and 2001, which may be because they knew WCW was on the run and that they could taste victory while here they have it. This show is good enough though as there may be some badly ranked matches, everything here is at least watchable. The street fight is fine for what it is I suppose and I could see some people liking it.

    That sums this up well: I could see people liking it. I think part of it is not a lot of people watch these back to back so they have a lot of time between 2001 and 2002 to forget how awesome the previous two were. Anyway, this is a good but not great show that’s worth checking out, even though you won’t remember much of it a month later.
     
    #43
  19. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 2003
    Date: January 19, 2003
    Location: Fleet Center, Boston, Massachusetts
    Attendance: 15,338
    Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Tazz

    The Brand Split is upon us. That’s the main difference here. The other would be the level of talent in the main events for both shows. On Raw, we have HHH vs. Scott Steiner. On Smackdown, we have Angle vs. Benoit. This show might set the all time record for biggest gap between the two main events as far as quality goes. The Raw main event was considered a complete disaster while the Smackdown one is considered an all time classic.

    Other than that, the main thing is one Brock Lesnar, who has taken wrestling by storm. Shawn’s back as well, so the roster is actually pretty freaking stacked around this time. They’re still getting the hang of the Brand Split as it’s only been around about 7 months. This is the first Rumble in what I guess you would call the modern WWE era, so we’ll see what happens. Oh and Cena and Batista are here now too.

    This is the first Brand Split show so it’s 15 Raw guys and 15 Smackdown guys. We get the standard wanting to go to Mania promos, but this one worked better than the others for some reason. They’re keeping it low key, and then we hear from Scott Steiner to mess it up. They really play up the Road to Mania thing here, which is the best way to go. This really is the way to get things going that way and it worked perfectly. It’s so weird to see PS2 as a new product being the sponsor for this.

    No buildup or anything as we get to the opening match.

    Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

    Yep, this is what’s starting the show: a rematch from Survivor Series as the winner is in the Rumble later tonight. Well ok then. Lesnar is now a face and therefore incredibly popular. Seriously though, why in the hell is this opening a show? Why didn’t this main event a Smackdown or something? This is the first rematch between the two since Heyman turned on Lesnar to get the title off of him.

    Big Show has a Hogan like mustache and is still wearing the horrible looking attire. I hate that. Stunning no one, it’s a power match to start us out. Lesnar really was a freaking terrifying man as he throws Show over with a decent belly to belly. I say decent in the sense that it really was crap but considering who he’s doing it to, it’s damn impressive.

    Pretty much, this is the match: Lesnar does an impressive power move, Show takes over with slow and generic offense, Lesnar hits a power move, Heyman interferes, Show takes over again. In other words, it’s the exact same thing that they did at Survivor Series. To be fair though, what in the hell else can they do? I mean you really have to see what Show was like to appreciate how awful he was at this time.

    I mean he was just so freaking broken down and slow that he’s putting me to sleepy. I mean really, I can barely keep my eyes open. Damn it why is the sun….see what I mean? The previous sentence was written at 1237am and this is now 740am. I slept all freaking night because of a Big Show match and I wasn’t even tired! He actually sucks that much life out of an audience. But hey, he’s a huge guy so obviously he needs to be pushed right?

    Brock is set for a chokeslam, but gets a SWEET counter by rolling over and taking Show down with him. It sounds kind of lame but trist me, this looked awesome. It was like an arm drag without the arm if that makes sense.

    Anyway, now that that’s happened, Lesnar gets Heyman on his shoulders for an F5 but he takes a chokeslam instead. He naturally kicks out and Show’s face is kind of funny. In a very abrupt ending, Lesnar runs Show into Heyman and hits an F5 for the pin. Yes it sucked but consider the size of the guy he’s using it on.

    Rating: D. Again, this was like the Survivor Series match: Lesnar does all the work, Show gets a paycheck to buy his daily ham with. This is easily the worst Show ever got as he just flat out didn’t give a damn at this point so he relied on his size and generic as hell offense to get him through a match. This was about six and a half minutes, which is still two longer than their world title match from Survivor Series. That’s a bit sad.

    Jericho says he’ll win the Rumble. He also beat Rock and Austin in one night.

    Raw Tag Titles: Dudleys vs. William Regal/Lance Storm

    As you can see the tag titles are more or less dead here. The Dudleys are only 15 time tag champions at the moment. This is the Unamericans phase for the heels. Raw is in the Dunkin Donuts Center tomorrow in X’s home town apparently. Bubba hooks a freaking weird looking leg lock on Storm. It was like a combination of a figure four and a Sharpshooter but he was standing the whole time.

    I’ve never seen that before and of all people Bubba freaking Ray Dudley used it. You learn something new every time. Apparently Vince wants tables tonight so there we are. We’re just about to the point where Austin would come back to beat up on Bischoff and then lose to Rock at Mania before becoming co-GM for the summer. That was just kind of sad as Austin was just not what he used to be at this point.

    In case you’re wondering where in the hell that came from, JR is talking about how Bischoff is in hot water on Raw for being boring according to Vince. This is your run of the mill TV match if I’ve ever seen one. That’s the issue with the Brand Split and the consolidation of the rosters of ECW and WCW onto one show: there simply isn’t time for PPV level matches on PPVs and that’s hurting the product.

    The only thing PPV level about this match is the ending as Regal is about to take a 3D and Chief Morely (Val Venis), who was the deputy authority figure at this time, comes out to argue with the referee. Regal gets some brass knucks from somewhere but D-Von steals them. We get REALLY confusing here as Ross can’t tell Bubba and D-Von apart as he says Bubba has the knucks.

    This messes Lawler up to no end as he was sure that D-Von had them (which was true) but Ross says Bubba has them about 5 times. Lawler keeps asking if Ross is sure and that he’s confused. I know a lot of people get on Lawler today, but this was all on Ross. After the match Ross wakes up and realizes that Bubba has apparently gotten skinnier, shorter and one hell of a tan and has changed his name to D-Von. The massive celebration ends this.

    Rating: C. This is the epitome of average. It could have come off of any Raw throughout the year or any weak PPV. There was nothing at all here that set this apart from any other tag title match at all. The Dudleys are 16 time tag champions. See the problem there? It’s still Dudleys feud with the team of the month before getting the titles back for a “big moment”. It’s very sad that the belts have somehow gotten even more worthless.

    We oddly go to an Australian newscast as apparently I’ve taped over….oh it’s Nathan Jones coming. Never mind. Can we go back to the Australian news that means absolutely nothing to me but is far more entertaining? And yes, somehow this clueless putz managed to get together with the Undertaker at Mania of all things. This is a great example of Vince being blinded by big men.

    Cole has an insanely bad looking mustache.

    We recap the AWFUL Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie feud. This is the infamous one where Dawn married Torrie’s father and blackmailed Torrie into having a lesbian affair with her in order to keep them from getting married. I said it was infamous, I never said it wasn’t insanely hot.

    Soon after they got married anyway and they went on their honeymoon and she fucked him to death. As in they had a funeral segment. No one ever actually pointed out what Dawn got out of this other than ticking off Torrie. This is apparently stepdaughter vs. stepmother. Yes, it’s that stupid.

    Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie

    I have to give it to Tazz and Cole: they actually keep straight faces when doing the commentary here. Dawn is wearing a veil for crying out loud. The only reason for this was to have the women wear hot outfits and kiss once. Of all things, Lillian Garcia sang Torrie’s theme song. If she was even the slightest bit credible, that would be awesome. The fans are a bit bored to say the least.

    They’ll pop for a catfight but as a legit big time feud this is just a failure. You can tell the girls have no real rhythm and are having to think their way through every single step of every single move. They’re botching a LOT in this too. The crowd is about as dead as Carlito’s career here too. Torrie wins with a bad neckbreaker to prove absolutely nothing at all.

    Rating: DD. That’s of course what this match was about. Torrie and Dawn were both grieving and crushed, but they managed to find tight outfits to wrestle in. Yeah one girl is responsible for the other’s father’s death and they blame each other for it, so let’s have a bad wrestling match to settle this. What was the point of this supposed to be again? Whatever it was it failed.

    Stephanie and Bischoff, the current GMs run into each other in the back. They run off this kid with curly hair that looks awful and the guy can’t talk to save his life. His name is Randy Orton. Evolution would officially form in 15 days, on my 15th birthday no less. Anyway, they hint that they both have big surprises coming. Bischoff’s was Austin and I think Stephanie’s was Hogan returning.

    Sean O’Haire does a promo of what would have been an excellent gimmick if they hadn’t put him with Piper and had him job to Rikishi of all people.

    In case you thought anything had changed in the last 15 minutes, Nathan Jones is STILL coming to the WWF.

    We recap Scott Steiner vs. HHH. This had big mistake written all over it as Steiner was just a total musclehead that cut insane promos. Steiner had been a free agent and demanded a title shot guaranteed or he would go to Smackdown. HHH set up a bunch of contests where Steiner kept winning. So that’s where MVP and Matt Hardy stole that horrible story from.

    Raw World Title: HHH vs. Scott Steiner

    This just screams bad idea to me for some reason. HHH is wearing red tights and they just don’t look right at all. Steiner gets a lukewarm reaction at best. We get the big match introductions from Earl so that’s always fun. Steiner throws weird punches. It’s like he hits HHH in the head with his wrist or something like that. Scott does everything with his arms. It’s either punches or clotheslines or slams, but everything is based around his arms. That can’t be a good sign.

    I know HHH uses his knees a lot, but he adds in some other stuf too to balance that out. Steiner is dominating here early on in the match. He’s working the back over which at least makes sense given his finisher. To shock me just a bit, Steiner throws in a kick. Yeah it was just one and now it’s back to arm moves. Steiner goes to a bearhug because he’s tired 7 minutes into a match. He mixes his stuff up with a belly to belly overhead suplex.

    HHH is more or less getting dominated here. He reverses an Irish Whip (notices it’s another arm based move from Steiner) into the steps to buy some time. The fans are somewhere between dead and annoyed here. It’s just Steiner doing generic stuff while allegedly being a big time challenger to HHH. It’s like a match where the whole thing is made up of the middle of a match where one guy is wearing the other down.

    The problem is they’ve been doing that for ten minutes now. The crowd pops a bit for a near Pedigree but there is NO reaction on a slingshot from Steiner. Steiner is just winded beyond belief after a relatively basic and simple match. He botches the selling of what was supposed to be I think a spinning neckbreaker and it turns into more or less a Diamond Cutter.

    And now we reach the period where this match is infamous for being AWFUL. Steiner more or less gives up and just does nothing but overhead belly to belly suplexes, clotheslines, and punches. I mean that’s ALL he does. It’s like on the old N64 WWF games where the fans would boo if you did the same moves over and over again.

    See, a guy like Benoit or Tazz uses a lot of suplexes because they have a great set up to get there and it wears out the opponent’s neck for their finishing submissions. Here, Steiner uses so many of them because it’s all he’s got. Also, those two others I mentioned MIXED THEIR OFFENSE UP. Tazz had what, 4 or 5 different kinds of suplexes he would use? And how often did he use the same one in a row?

    Steiner has used four inside of 30 seconds. That’s four overhead belly to belly suplexes mind you. It’s cool if you do it once, but at this point it’s just dumb, and in a city like Boston, they’re not going to stand for this. He uses ANOTHER, then does that traditional one that he does where he spins to hit it. The fans are DEAD and bordering on angry here.

    They’re more or less looking for a reason to just completely go insane here and there it is. Steiner goes for that butterfly powerbomb that he does (again, mainly arm work) and trips over his own feet and HHH lands on Steiner’s boots. There they go. Just to further piss the fans off, HHH and Flair try to leave. They just don’t get that the fans are completely hating this match and they keep extending it further and further.

    This match feels like it could go another ten minutes, but if that happens they’re going to riot. HHH is bleeding and no one cares. A sixth, count it sixth overhead belly to belly and the fans are just done. Ross is making cracks about them too as he’s annoyed and wanting this to end. Hey, we’ve got nothing at all going here, so let’s go fight in the crowd! The referee refuses to count though as apparently HHH is intentionally trying to get counted out.

    I think he’s thinking he wants to save his career while Steiner just doesn’t get it. Just to further infuriate the crowd, Steiner does pushups. HHH throws the referee out of the ring but as he goes to call for the DQ he intentionally stops because he won’t let HHH escape like that. Ok, there’s furthering an angle and then there’s realizing when the match just needs to die. At least five times now this match should have ended, but either due to Steiner or Hebner or HHH’s stupidity, it won’t just end.

    Seriously, you’re getting NOTHING positive from the crowd, the match is repetitive as all hell, and Steiner can barely walk because he’s so spent, but they keep going anyway. HHH tries to punch the referee, but Steiner stops him with a standing senton corkscrew moonsault. It’s really an impressive move. He’s just such a master of wrestling and working a crowd that he makes you believe it was another belly to belly suplex.

    HHH hits a low blow and rolls up Steiner but Suplex Magee over there kicks out anyway. It’s sledgehammer time and a shot from that brings the booing to a new level of intensity as after 18 minutes of hell like that we get a stupid DQ finish.

    Steiner’s thong is sticking out of his tights as he no sells sledgehammer shots and beats up HHH with it to nothing but booing. He puts the Recliner on him as Ross mentions the words rematch and there being no way out of the hold, meaning the inevitable rematch is going to happen next month. Steiner poses forever before we get ready for the Smackdown Title match.

    Rating: G-. This is another match where you have to wonder what the hell Vince was on when he booked it. I mean seriously, had he seen any Steiner matches from the last 5-6 years? Why in the world would he expect this to be anything resembling good?

    The styles just completely clashed and it had WAY too much time. If you hack 8-10 minutes out of this mess, it MIGHT be passable. But no, instead we get nearly 20 minutes of this mindless bullshit because everyone hated it so it must have been great.

    We recap Angle vs. Benoit, which is the match that I’ve wanted to get to more than any other in Rumble history. Angle is flanked by Haas and Benjamin at this point as Team Angle. Lesnar had cost Big Show the title at Armageddon ending the month long reign of doom that Show was tormenting us with. Heyman is Angle’s manager apparently, and screwed Show out of the belt or something like that.

    Lesnar is apparently banned from getting a title shot (except for at Mania of course), and he introduces Team Angle (Benjamin and Haas) as his insurance. Benoit beats Big Show to get the title shot with all kinds of sick counters. This was just shy of a dream match as both guys were probably at their best level ever as far as in ring abilities. Think about that for a second.

    Smackdown World Title: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

    This is Angle’s first title defense apparently. Team Angle tries to jump Benoit and get thrown out. Naturally this is more or less a chess match to start. It’s like a feeling out process at 80 miles an hour as it’s nothing but counters and reversals that no one else could pull off. Cole manages to get the word scuttlebutt in. That’s impressive. Angle might be faking a knee injury here but we’re not sure.

    Benoit keeps going for a Sharpshooter, showing of course great psychology as Angle’s knee is hurt. Did you expect anything else from him? The fans are clearly more into this as they’re popping at the right times and while they’re no on their feet or anything, you can just feel that they’re interested in this match. A key thing to notice early in the match: no one is getting a long term advantage.

    Benoit is in control for the most part, but Angle is getting in little spurts of offense, which shows that he’s still in this. Benoit an AWESOME move as they’re fighting on the apron and Benoit hooks a DDT onto the apron and lands on his feet on the floor. It looked sick. The headbutt misses though and we’re back to Angle being in control. See how that’s better than what Steiner and HHH did?

    Benoit takes over again a few seconds later, but Angle took over just for a bit. It keeps things interesting because at some point, Angle is going to get the advantage and keep it for awhile, unlike Steiner who dominated about 80% of the match earlier. Benoit gets the Sharpshooter and the crowd pops for it. That’s a great sign. Angle gets the ropes though and it’s becoming clear to me why the crowd isn’t that into most of what’s going on: they just know it’s not ending this early.

    I remember reading in one of Foley’s books where he said that in the Cell match with HHH the fans were more or less lifeless for his early covers and the times when HHH was covering him. It finally occurred to him that the fans knew that the match wasn’t going to end without them getting out of the cage and without a huge spot. And indeed, they broke the cage open and the crowd lost it. Angle hits a beautiful belly to belly overhead.

    It wasn’t sloppy and Benoit had to do little other than tuck his head in. Angle popped his hips and sent Benoit flying. That was great. Cole says that Angle is a member of the Grand Slam club, meaning he’s held all singles titles. Can Cole ever just get something right? Angle launches another belly to belly, but notice a few things: he did something different in between, and he’s up and ready to do something else afterwards.

    There’s why this is fine and what Steiner did wasn’t. Angle throws one and pops up to fight some more. Steiner does it and then does it again and again. It’s just stupid looking. Angle hooks a rear naked choke, which is just an odd name if there’s ever been one.

    The key to it not being boring though is Benoit keeps fighting to try to get out of it. That’s keeping something going in there during the boring part of the match, which keeps the fans at least somewhat into it. They’re hanging on by a thread but it’s better than having to completely reset everything and start from scratch. It’s little things like that which keeps a match better than others.

    All of a sudden Benoit just cranks it up and suplexes the hell out of Angle. The fans respond to it as this is a textbook example of a slow build. They started really slowly and built the intensity slowly and the crowd was with them every step of the way. They’ve got the crowd completely into this and that’s how it’s done. See what cardio can do for your match? Benoit gets the Crossface and everyone in view of the camera jumps to their feet and the flashbulbs go off. That’s how you do it.

    In case you can’t tell, I’m loving this match. Angle gets the ropes so Benoit puts the ankle lock on him. Angle reverses into his own ankle lock and we go into an insane series of counters that Benoit gets the Crossface again from. You can tell they’re thinking every step of the way here and have a lot of this mapped out.

    On the third Crossface attempt, which very oddly is on the right arm instead of the left (go back and find me ten instances in history of a guy working on the right arm. I doubt they exist.), Angle gets an Angle Slam out of nowhere for a long two. The fans are all over this. It’s not so much an excited thing but rather in awe of what they’re seeing. Angle goes Olympic by pulling the straps down and the ankle lock goes on again.

    Naturally it’s countered into a complicated technical move that Benoit hooks a rollup with. You can tell the fans are way into this as they pop huge for every cover or submission attempt. That’s a very good thing when they realize that it doesn’t take a finisher to end a match. Benoit throws another German so hard that Angle lands on his face. That’s impressive. Cole and Tazz try to figure out who has the momentum at various times. That’s saying a lot.

    Benoit gets the headbutt from the top onto the back of Angle’s head which must hurt like hell. Angle gets control again and sets for a powerbomb but falls backwards to send Benoit’s head into the top turnbuckle. Another Angle Slam gets two as the fans have no clue who to cheer for. Benoit gets his FIFTH Crossface of the match.

    Again, the difference here: the fans are responding to this because the guys are clearly working their asses off out there while Steiner and HHH had no clue what they were doing. Angle somehow rolls over and grabs Benoit’s ankle. I have no idea what to call what he just did, but more or less he rolled backwards onto Benoit and got the arms free to grab the ankle. In case you can’t tell, THIS MATCH IS FREAKING AMAZING.

    Benoit counters AGAIN and Angle just goes off. He grabs the ankle and cranks on it. Benoit tries to get out but Angle holds on and gets the leg lock. Benoit is in agony and finally tape, more out of frustration than pain though. That’s a nice little touch there as it makes Benoit look like he got caught rather than defeated. Angle is carried off by Haas and Benjamin.

    Rating: A+. This was just flat out awesome stuff on about 1,000 different levels. Considering what happened before this match as in the Steiner HHH mess, this was that much better. This right here is proof that at the end of the day, two guys that are technically sound can go out there and just be awesome. You don’t need to weigh 275 and be able to bench press 500lbs to have a good match or be a star.

    These two stole the freaking year out there. After a very random Anthology ad, (oddly enough on some versions it’s Anthology (which was a WWE music compilation of songs from over the years, meaning this was epic to old school fans) on some versions and Rebellion on some others. That’s incredibly peculiar) we go back to the arena where the fans give Benoit a standing ovation as he leaves.

    And that means it’s time for a rant. This is a prime example of why HHH is such a hated man in the business. What do I mean by that? Well let’s take a look. HHH vs. Steiner got absolutely booed out of the fucking building. I mean they were getting heat the likes of which you just don’t see anywhere else. Angle keeps the title and was destined to go on to Mania to face Brock.

    It’s fairly clear right now that Benoit is ready to be a world champion. He’s got everything he needs and the fans are totally behind him. He wouldn’t get the belt for another 15 months. HHH would hold onto his title until SEPTEMBER when he dropped it to Goldberg. He got it back three months later and finally lost it to Benoit in a triple threat match at Mania 20.

    Yes HHH tapped to him, but he made sure that Shawn was there too so that he could say he didn’t lose cleanly, even though he lost cleanly. He beat Booker in a throwaway match at Mania while Benoit was teaming with Rhyno of all people and losing a tag title match on the same show. He would go on to feud with the FBI and Cena before the US Title came back.

    Yeah the IC and US Titles were retired for about a year in some stupid idea Vince had that there should be one champion per brand. I’ll stand by my theory that HHH was behind it because the midcard was great at the time and he wanted to make sure no one on Raw stole the show again. Anyway, Benoit somehow got even hotter around the fall and they FINALLY pushed him to the title at Mania.

    However, what does HHH do after Benoit wins the title? He feuds with his old buddy Shawn Michaels, leading to a Hell in a Cell match which AGAIN overshadows Benoit’s title match. HHH gets the next PPV title shot and AGAIN there’s interference in the end. Benoit wins, but he still doesn’t pin HHH clean. The next PPV was Summerslam where Benoit lost the title and HHH won it a month later.

    In other words, Benoit was kept from going up to the main event scene where he belonged in 2003 and then in 2004, HHH made sure the spotlight was at least partially on him and that Benoit, who was and always will be the better wrestler, was made to look like a second tier player, even though he was world champion. While Benoit was having matches with the FBI and Cena who he was making to look like a star, HHH was having matches with Goldberg, Steiner and Nash.

    The fans hated him, but he kept the belt all summer long because there clearly was no other option. Yeah go ahead HHH defenders: tell me he had nothing to do with it. I want to see you try to defend him here.

    RVD and Kane, still in his mask, say they’ll do whatever they need to in order to win.

    Royal Rumble

    The intervals are two minutes this year. Shawn is #1 and Jericho is #2, both of which we knew coming into this. Ross changes the intervals to 90 seconds. Well ok then. It amuses me that Jericho has changed everything about himself yet he keeps his music. Not sure why but that amuses me. Anyway, Christian does Jericho’s entrance as Jericho sneaks through the crowd and gets Shawn with a low blow.

    Jericho beats on Shawn for awhile and then repeats it with a chair to bust Shawn open. Oh damn it’s a good one too. Christopher Nowitski, more commonly known as the Harvard guy, is 3rd. He could have been a decent midcard heel if he hadn’t gotten hurt. It’s still good to have a Harvard grad on your payroll though. Jericho puts Shawn out with relative ease after he was beaten on so badly. Mysterio, who was just past being a rookie at this point, is 4th.

    His knees weren’t a mess at this point so he’s still the best high flying wrestler of all time. For some reason Ross and Lawler are calling the whole match. That’s yet another way of saying to Smackdown that you’re the second show and that’s all there is to it. Chris is just now getting in the ring as Edge gets a great pop as a face at number 5.

    Edge was on the verge of busting through the glass ceiling and becoming a main event star but a neck injury would put him out less than a month later and he would be out for about 14 months. He and Rey have a kind of non match as they don’t really do much to each other. The heels are both on the floor but not out. Christian is 6th with his absolutely awesome entrance.

    He hugs Edge who looks at him like he’s crazy. Yeah he gets speared. Nowitski thinks he puts out both Edge and Rey but they go up for a double dropkick. Rey’s hits, but Edge’s misses and his leg lands right on Chris’ face and it looks awful. The referee has to check to make sure he can continue if that tells you anything. Rey hits the dumbest move of all time with the Bronco Buster before Chavo is 7th. That MIGHT have been a minute.

    He and Rey do an awesome sequence to set up a 619. Christian takes one also. A hurricanrana puts Nowitski out and then Jericho puts Rey out. We have Jericho, Edge, Chavo and Christian in there now and they’re joined by Tajiri. In other words the most only American wrestler in there is a guy that is billed as the Mexican Warrior. Tajiri puts one of the sickest looking submissions I’ve ever seen on Chavo as he’s more or less using a rack but instead of over his neck it’s over his back. It looked great.

    Bill DeMott, more commonly known as Hugh Morrus, is 9th. He was a Tough Enough trainer not long before this and apparently he’s gone insane because of it. I guess that makes sense in some wrestling logic. Tenth is Dreamer as we’re needing someone to get rid of some of these jobbers.

    Dreamer of course brings in weapons. He and Edge beat the living fuck out of DeMott and knock out him. Jericho and Christian get together with trash can lids and put Dreamer out. We’re back to Christian, Jericho, Edge, Chavo and Tajiri. That’s a bit better I guess.

    Tajiri does the fucking stupidest thing I can think of and goes for a Tarantula on Jericho. Naturally he’s out and replaced by B2, more commonly known as Bull Buchanan. He and Cena broke up apparently so he’s just out there being himself now. Yeah he’s already out thanks to Edge. There goes Chavo via a spear by Edge to leave us with three Canadians. Make that one Canadian as Jericho skins the cat and gets back in to put out Edge and Christian at the same time.

    That’s pretty damn impressive. Jericho is on his own now until RVD comes out to a huge ovation at 11th. Yeah we have Shawn, Jericho, Edge, Christian, RVD, Tajiri and others but there’s zero point to having an IC or US Title. Starting to see why this is considered one of the darkest ages in wrestling history? After about a minute Matt Hardy is 12th.

    Tonight’s Mattitude facts are that Matt strongly dislikes mustard and apparently that’s all we get tonight. Yeah there’s ZERO point for a midcard title on either brand. I know I can’t see anyone in here that would benefit from having one. Van Dam is just fun to watch. Jericho takes the Five Star as after maybe a minute 15 Eddie is in at 13. He has almost no hair here yet amazingly would be world champion in 13 months.

    Eddie hits a frog splash on RVD but he messes up and it lands on Rob’s face for the most part. That looked painful. Matt is the only person up as he jumps Eddie, and Jeff is in at 15. He offers a truce and Jeff goes after him. Damn I made another error in my counting. It’s fixed now but I keep screwing up the count. That’s uncharacteristic for me. Everyone else has been down for a LONG time, although to be fair they all took finishers.

    Jeff almost puts Matt out but Shannon Moore lays on his back and puts his feet up to keep Matt in. He then gets in and lays on Matt to protect him from a Swanton, which in reality would hurt more I’d think. Rosey of 3 Minute Warning along with Rico is 16th. After MAYBE 45 seconds, Test is in at 17. Stacy is with him as we’re in the Testicles thing which was funny for about two minutes. Test beats up just about everyone as he was a monster at this point.

    He lost that as Stacy denied him sex so he started carrying a Playboy with him. I wish I was making that up. John, the Doctor of Thuganomics, Cena is 18th. He wears an old school Astros jersey while rapping his way to the ring. He’s entertaining if nothing else, but the people that say he should go back to that are just idiots. Ross says two things of interest: word to your mother, and Cena is a future main event player.

    His rap takes up the entire about 60 seconds before Charlie Haas is in at 19. There are WAY too many people in there right now. I’m counting 9 at the moment and I’m not going to bother listing them. Oh the hell with is: Haas, Rosey, Jericho, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy (I think they’re cousins or something), Van Dam, Eddie, Test and Cena. Jeff goes out to finally lighten things up a bit. Rikishi is in at 20, and apparently he’s been in more than anyone else in history.

    I know at least Kane has broken that record since. He almost gives Matt and Shannon a double stinkface but thankfully it doesn’t happen. Jamal, more commonly known as Umaga, is 21st. This is being written the day after he passed away so this is deflating to say the least. Sadly enough, the first thing that happened to him is a stink face. I hate that move so much. It pisses him off if nothing else and he hammers away on Rikishi.

    Kane, whose pyro will give you a freaking heart attack, is 22nd. He cleans house and chokeslams Rico, who isn’t even in the match. There goes Rosey. Shelton Benjamin who reminds me of Gunn from Angel for some reason is 23rd. The ring is WAY too full. Oh yeah: Cena is wearing long pants. It just looks completely wrong. Booker is 24th. He was on the biggest roll of his career at this point and he would wind up getting the Raw title shot at Mania.

    Naturally since he was having great matches and getting huge pops, he was fed to HHH in a throwaway match. There goes Eddie thanks to HHH’s lunch. A-Train is 25th. He just destroys everyone in there. Rikishi of course gets to take him down. WHAT IS SO FUCKING SPECIAL ABOUT RIKISHI???

    He’s always around and was always considered a big deal but he SUCKED. He danced and wore a thong, end of appeal to him. Shawn comes in and beats up Jericho so Test can throw him out. Well ok then. Shawn is completely wasted in the Rumble but whatever. If nothing else it set up a great match at Mania.

    Maven is 26th. He actually looks like a pro now which is a plus from last year. There are about 9-10 people in there so again someone needs to come clear them out. Goldust is 27th and no one cares. He hits Shattered Dreams on Maven, which when you actually look at it is a kick to the turnbuckle but whatever. The World’s Greatest Tag Team combine to put him out.

    They do the same to Booker, which is appropriate as the two of them were tag partners a few weeks before. Batista, who was something close to what Kozlov or Jackson is now is 28th. Test puts him down of all people. That’s just odd indeed. Batista puts him out though so there we go. He then puts out Rikishi so I’m happier now. Lesnar is in at 29 to a solid pop. He puts Haas and Benjamin out at the same time.

    Thank goodness now we’re getting rid of some people. Matt gets an F5 to the floor. A-Train gets a SICK bicycle kick to Batista to take him down. Taker is number 30 to a huge pop. Ok so the final group is Van Dam, Cena, Jamal, Kan, A-Train, Maven, Batista, Lesnar and Taker. That’s not bad as I’ve seen worse groupings. There’s no clear cut winner but it’s pretty clear when you really look at it I think. He’s returning after Show hurt him for about the 12th time mind you.

    This is still the American Bad Ass also. There goes Cena which is likely going to be the featured match at Mania this year. Ok so right now it’s next year but when you read this it’ll be this year. Jamal is gone which is a bad way of putting that. Maven hits a dropkick on Taker and celebrates by holding up two fingers. Taker just stands there behind him waiting. A chokeslam and Maven is out. That was hilarious to see.

    A-Train hits a chokebomb to put Taker down. Why in the world did he never get a serious push? They built him as a big time monster but nothing ever happened with him. He got the IC Title I believe before this, but it’s completely forgotten in the long run. After A-Train dominates even more, Van Dam and Kane who were a team at the time get together and put him out.

    In a great spot, Kane says he’ll throw Van Dam onto Batista, Kane picks Van Dam up and casually throws him out. That was great. The final four are Taker, Kane, Batista and Lesnar, meaning we’re going to need a mop to clean up the muscle induced orgasm that Vince had in the back. Batista and Taker go at it while Kane and Lesnar fight. So the lightest guy in there is Lesnar at 295 right? Kane takes a solid F5 and we get the showdown of Taker and Lesnar.

    Taker puts him down with a decent boot. Taker wearing white socks is just amusing. He follows it up with a tombstone to Lesnar as Batista goes out next. Taker and Kane team up for all of 8 seconds as Taker dumps Kane to get us down to two. Batista comes back in with a chair but takes it in the face.

    I wish more women would do that. Anyway, Lesnar sneaks up on Taker to dump him out to set up Angle vs. Lesnar at Mania 19. Taker gets back in and implies that he wants a shot if Brock gets the title back. Brock got it back and Taker eventually did get a shot, months later.

    Rating: B. I’ve seen better but I’ve seen far worse. The main issue was how many people got into the ring at once. The ending was quite good as Taker and Lesnar were both legit possibilities and Kane was far from a long shot. There was a nice balance of big names and no chance guys out there too which is hard to find at times. If there was a rating between B and B+ that’s what this would get. It was fine, but it could have been a bit better. Either way, this was entertaining.

    Overall Rating: B-. This was a pretty good show. It’s not great but it was certainly solid. They got the matches in the right order to say the least. Angle and Benoit made me forget the debacle of the Raw title match and then a good Rumble sent the fans home happy. It’s not a classic, but it’s certainly worth checking out I’d say, especially Angle vs. Benoit. It’s a clinic on how to work a technical match. I’ll say it’s recommended, but you’ll want a remote to fast forward over some stuff.
     
    #44
  20. joejoe

    joejoe Lazy

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    Nothing but jobbers? Look at almost every rumble with the exception of maybe 1992 the majority of Rumble participants are jobbers.

    I will agree with you that the show wasn't amazing but to give it a D- is really harsh. I mean Vince winning the rumble was great. He needed to win it to further put him over as a heel and thus further put austin over as a hot face going into mania.

    Plus we got that GREAT in your house match with Vince and Austin.
     
    #45
  21. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Yeah, and he still didn't need to win the Rumble. As for the jobbers let's take a look here.

    Other than Austin and Vince, here are the first ten in there.

    Golga
    Droz
    Edge
    Gillberg
    Steve Blackman
    Dan Severn
    Tiger Ali Singh
    Blue Meanie

    Edge meant nothing back then, so your biggest name is Blackman. DAMN I'm excited!

    Next 5

    Mabel
    Road Dogg
    Gangrel
    Kurrgan
    Al Snow

    Smell the buyrate! Road Dogg is the biggest star in there. What does that tell you?

    Goldust
    Godfather
    Kane
    Shamrock
    Billy Gunn

    We're picking up a bit, but only 2 of them were contenders, making 4 out of 20 so far, with Kane and Shamrock being about as unlikely as you can get. Also at this point, we had Shamrock standing in the middle of the ring waiting. That's SO exciting. Kane lasts less than a minute and Shamrock less than five minutes, so tehy mean nothing, giving us only Austin at this point.

    And now the match truly becomes worthless, as no one that comes through the curtain means anything. You could fast forward to the end because Austin and Vince were going to be the final two. I'm sorry, but when the last 20 minutes of a match mean nothing and can be fast forwarded, that match isn't worth watching.
     
    #46
  22. shooter_mcgavin

    shooter_mcgavin Mid-Card Championship Winner

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    The 2003 Rumble was really the one that started the modern structure of how most Rumbles are booked. Looking back most of the critisms from KB was that the earlier entrants were pretty much jobbers or low mid carders until it hits above #20 when the main event players start entering. Which I always felt was kind of unbelievable. I think only 1992, 1995, and 2001 broke the mold in a way.

    Today the modern structure you have #1 and #2 being noticeable names then a few low midcarders then getting some big names early on. Normally most of these early entrants will stay in the rumble for the long period. This has actually worked well IMO. You have 50 to 60 mins might as well make it interesting the moment it starts.
     
    #47
  23. Phoenix

    Phoenix WZCW's First Triple Crown Champion

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    Rumble 2001 was my favourite Rumble of all time and I was looking forward to your review KB. Where you mention the Ladder Match being overlooked, this one is quite possibly my favourite Ladder Match of all time! Seriously, the flow is better than say HBK/Ramon and it didn't feel dead, something was always happening. Not to mention the sick chairshot that Benoit took from the suicide dive, that is a brilliant moment in a brilliant match.

    Title match is one I actually tend to skip past because I did find it less intriging when I was younger, but got to appreciate it better nowadays.

    As for the Rumble itself, it was brilliant to me. Lots of it just felt right, that even the jobbers/hardcore members got to at least liven up their segment of the Rumble, not to mention Kane's dominance kicked absolute ass! It's so sad to see Kane now and compare him to then because he literally did kill people as you said. In short a great Rumble.

    A note to put I saw, you mentioned about a lack of an R on the right side of the name banner that came up. There actually is one (faded purple) that pans across from one side to the other and when it reaches the right side, the banner goes. It's a nerd fact I know, but I tend to spot these things.

    Rumble 03, which I picked up after your recommendation wasn't that bad from Angle/Benoit onwards, their match did save the PPV from being a failure and picked up momentum which made you forget about it completely. I agree that Lesnar/Show did not need to be on there, I seriously felt that when I watched it, much like the Dudleys/UnAmericans, it just was fillers that apparently were openning things up.

    God, how awful was Triple H/Steiner, and given that the No Way Out match was named "Worst Worked Match of 03", I saw this and thought, why didn't they give this one it? I seriously felt part of me died after seeing. Steiner does nothing for me, the end of the match I just felt nothing, it was just blank deadness, like a black hole because that's all I can really describe it as. Although the highlight was Ross going on about Steiner's suplexing the hell out of Triple H.

    Angle vs. Benoit was immense, I seriously enjoyed this match and I definitely will sit to watch it again because as you described, it was purely excellent and worked to T. Your description said it best, so I'll leave there.

    The Rumble itself was pretty decent, it didn't give me what I liked out of Rumble 01, but it still a good outing. Think for me, it was predictable that Lesnar or Taker would win it, especially as Lesnar was already in a match on the card, if they want to make a win less obviously, don't put a qualifier on the PPV or make a footnote on guys returning from injury.

    That's what gets me annoyed about the Rumble now, because of Cena's return in 08, everyone expects Edge to return and win it. While I would love the idea, Edge's injury is more of a serious one than what Cena suffered and he needs more time to heal up. Also, given that him versus Jericho is the most obvious programme and that he's faced everyone on Smackdown and will not even be considered for Raw's title scene with Sheamus around. I hate to say it, but if people are going to base their predictability on injuries, then I feel sorry for them.
     
    #48
  24. The Brain

    The Brain King Of The Ring

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    Royal Rumble 2000

    I sure fell behind after not going on line during the weekend. I will try to catch up by tomorrow. I have mixed feelings toward Royal Rumble 2000 but overall I like it. This is probably the best undercard in Royal Rumble history. If it’s not, it’s close. I should clarify. When I say undercard I mean any match besides the rumble. Even though Triple H vs. Cactus Jack was a main event title match I consider it on the undercard in this case. With Angle, Jericho, The Hardys, and The Dudleys here and the radicalz right around the corner, we were washing off the stench of 1999 and getting a nice fresh start to the new year, new decade, and new millennium. I like most of this show, but there are some parts that bother me. Let’s get to it.

    Kurt Angle’s opponent wasn’t much of a mystery. Nobody was surprised to see Tazz. Despite the lack of surprise this was an awesome debut. I loved Angle at this time and was sorry to see his undefeated streak end, but this was well done. I normally don’t like such short matches but this one worked. It was a great debut for Tazz. It’s just too bad he never really did anything in WWF.

    The tables match was awesome. These kinds of gimmick matches are usually hit or miss with me and this was a big hit. This was the first tables match in the WWF and when it comes to gimmicks the first is usually the most memorable. This exceeded my expectations and two matches in the show was off to a great start.

    Now comes the part of the show I hate. The Miss Rumble pageant was awful. Way to kill the momentum of a great show. I absolutely hated this. Anytime there is a swimsuit contest, costume contest, dance contest, or whatever diva exhibition they feel like doing, it is a complete waste of time. I’d rather watch a fifteen minute match between the Mean Street Posse and Kai En Tai. I probably shouldn’t judge to harshly since it wasn’t a match, but it did kill valuable time during a good show.

    I don’t understand co IC champions. What was the point? I guess it was unique so I’ll give credit for trying something new, but this didn’t work for me. Wouldn’t logic dictate if there was a dispute between two people over the title those two would wrestle for the championship? I know logic is rarely used in wrestling, but come on now. I agree Holly was pointless here. This should have been Jericho vs. Chyna one on one to settle the dispute.

    I was pretty upset about the tag title match. The APA won a battle royal at Armageddon to earn the title shot. It wasn’t the most anticipated match, but it had a decent build for about six weeks. For this match to go only two minutes is ridiculous. What really bothers me was all the time wasted earlier in the Miss Rumble pageant. That could have been cut to give us a decent tag title match.

    The world title match was incredible. I never used to care for these kinds of matches. I much prefer a Bret Hart vs. Mr. Perfect or a Shawn Michaels vs. Jeff Jarrett style match. Eventually I realized that there need to be different styles or nothing will stand out. This match was fantastic and one of the best of the year in my opinion. These two had great chemistry together. Come to think of it Foley always seemed to have great chemistry with anyone he worked with. That moment leading up to the rumble where Mankind transformed into Cactus Jack was great. I was live in the audience that night and it was a cool moment to witness. I was also there when Foley was named as the fourth participant in the main event for mania. Those were two big Foley moments and I’m glad I was there to see them. Anyway, this was a great match and reading the review makes me want to go watch it again.

    I wasn’t too thrilled with the rumble match. You make a good point about it being booked well, but this one was missing something for me. The match was good enough, but it didn’t seem like anything special. I actually thought Rikishi was a dark horse candidate to win this. I wasn’t expecting it or predicting it, but it crossed my mind. He was way over at the time and the fans were really behind him during a match against Triple H on raw just prior to this. The Rock was obviously the favorite but he had gone against Triple H so many times in the past I didn’t think they would main event WrestleMania. Looking back I think I would have preferred the single match at mania. It wasn’t a fresh feud, but in the past they feuded over the IC title or while with the nation and DX. Now that both were the biggest stars a main event for the world title at mania would have been good.

    Overall I’m satisfied with this show. I think there were some things that could have easily been changed to make it better, but it was still very good. And the magic of MSG helped a little too.
     
    #49
  25. klunderbunker

    klunderbunker Welcome to My (And Not Sly's) House

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    Royal Rumble 2004
    Date: January 25, 2004
    Location: Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    Attendance: 17,289
    Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Michael Cole, Jonathan Coachman

    So another year has passed and the only real change is that Evolution is running wild on Raw. Yeah, HHH is champion again, Benoit is still having kick ass matches but getting nowhere with them, Brock still kicks all possible kinds of ass, and the Dudleys are still the only tag team worth a damn thing. The levels of similarity between the two shows astounds me. Oh and Cena is now a face. Yeah that’s all I’ve got.

    This really was a show that doesn’t mean much in the history of the company because nothing much happens. Shawn and HHH are going to have another classic in their endless series and Lesnar is having a match with Hardcore Holly of all people. Let that sink in for a bit before we start this up.

    Naturally the opening video is about Shawn and HHH, because, you know, they’re more important than the match the show is named after. The whole thing is about roads which is fine but geez, could you be a bit more subtle next time? I didn’t really get what you were trying to talk about here.

    Raw Tag Titles: Dudley Boys vs. Ric Flair/Batista

    This is in the Evolution period so Flair thinks he’s a Horseman still I guess. It’s a tables match so at least we don’t have to worry about it lasting long. Evolution came in as champions here after having the belts stolen from them a month before. Oh and they’re 17 time champions here. They put Coach through a table on Raw in a pointless segment. Oh damn it they gave Batista a mic. Who thought this was a good idea at this point in his career?

    The fight is on in the aisle, and I think Flair is on the verge of bleeding already. In a cool spot, Bubba is on one side of the ring and gets a table out. He slides it across the ring and it hits Batista on the floor on the other side of the ring. That was impressive. Seeing Dave with a lot of hair is just amusing. Flair is told to suck on that by Bubba which is an image I never want again. We go to a completely ranomd shot over the shoulders of the announcers. What the hell was the point of that?

    The Dudleys hit that reverse neckbreaker that is always called a 3D by idiotic fans in the crowd. Shockingly, Flair is slammed off the top rope. Coach leaves for no apparent reason as Flair is about to get a 3D. He almost gets the What’s Up but Flair stops it. Batista puts D-Von through a table to end it. That was incredibly pointless.

    Rating: C. It’s four and a half minutes long. How much of a rating could I actually give this thing? It was a way to give Evolution a bit more credibility as champions and that’s what it did. They lost them to RVD and Booker a few weeks later but whatever. This was fine for an opener I guess.

    We go to the back and I have to take a break for a minute as Josh Matthews looks like a cross between Vanilla Ice and a gay porn star. I mean it’s just hilarious. Anyway, he’s with Cena who is a face now but he still raps. RVD interrupts him in a bizarre cameo. Cena was getting there but he wasn’t quite there yet.

    We see a chair that’s reserved for Foley. This is in the middle of the angle where he was afraid of Orton and refused to fight him.

    Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble

    Talk about two careers that have gone in completely opposite directions since this. Rey comes out first for no apparent reason. If Noble’s music was any more generic it would be off an American Idol winner’s CD. Oh yeah and Nidia, Noble’s girlfriend, has been blinded by Tajiri. It’s a fake, and if that surprises you I have to wonder why you’re here. Apparently Noble has been using her to help him win matches without her knowing about it.

    Cole gets in the flat out stupid line of “Nidia looking on”. Cole, you are a plague upon mankind. Even Tazz calls him out for saying something stupid. How bad does that tell you he is? Nidia trips Noble “by mistake” and Rey gets a 619 and drops the dime for the win. Yeah that’s really all that happened. It’s a 3 minute match.

    Rating: N/A. There’s more or less nothing here to grade so I can’t do it justice. The angle was stupid though and this is kind of insulting to the crusierweights. They give them 3 minutes for their title? Seriously, what’s the point in even having them out there? This was stupid and is a great example of why this division is considered a freaking joke.

    So Chavo can’t stand Eddie because he’s jealous or something stupid like that.

    Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr.

    I put Jr. because Chavo Sr. is with Chavo here. This was right before Eddie turned into the mega face and would become the most overrated wrestler in recent history. Yes Eddie was great, but you would think he was the second coming of Lou Thesz based on how much praise he got all of a sudden. He’s mad over here but still it’s annoying considering they’re still using his name in angles now.

    Now in case you didn’t know that they grew up more or less as brothers, they’re going to let you know for the first time in the first two minutes. That should only be mentioned about 15 more times in the match. Oh and apparently Chavo hates Eddie now. I get that we have faces vs. heels, but this pro-Eddie stuff from Cole here is driving me insane. SHUT UP ALREADY. WE GET IT. In a funny spot, Chavo does Eddie’s dance thing and Eddie just flips him off. That was great.

    Oh Eddie refuses to punch too. Chavo Sr., who is Eddie’s brother in case you can’t remember the family tree in your head, trips him to give Chavo the advantage. Since Chavo pales in the shadows of Eddie though, that lasts all of a second. Chavo steals Eddie’s sequence of moves, so Eddie follows it up by doing the exact same sequence. This allows for the frog splash to end it. That was just pointless. Eddie follows it up with a long beatdown of both Chavos to fill in some time.

    Rating: C+. The wrestling here was quite good, but I still don’t get what was accomplished here. Eddie was just treading water at this point until less than a week later when he was launched into being number one contender for the Smackdown Title in a battle royal. This ended this mini feud so I guess that’s the point it served. I never liked Eddie vs. Chavo for some reason, but the wrestling was very solid.

    Buy Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses. No you really should as it’s a cool set.

    Benoit is in the back with Josh Matthews but Flair and Evolution interrupt him. If anyone can explain to me logically why Benoit was never made into the next big star of the Horsemen in WCW, I’ll get you a ham sandwich. They talk about Benoit being unable to win the big one, which more or less gives away the ending to the Rumble.

    Since apparently I murdered a baby in a past life or something, we recap Bob Holly vs. Lesnar. It’s an even numbered year so it’s time to push him again. Holly fought Lesnar in 2002 and Lesnar messed up a powerbomb and it broke Holly’s neck. That apparently is what it takes for him to get a title shot. Holly kept jumping Brock and trying to hurt him with a full nelson. Yes, Hardcore Holly is getting a title shot at the Royal freaking Rumble. Just take me now.

    Smackdown World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly

    They announce Holly and that this is for the WWE Title and I expect Chimmel to just break up laughing. I mean seriously how could you keep a straight face announcing that? It’s amazing to think that Lesnar would be done with the WWE in three months. Holly jumps him before the match starts so the bell rings while Holly is waiting on Brock to get up. He misses a cross body, meaning that he was in control for all of two seconds of this match.

    After that, it’s all Brock. I mean literally, four minutes have passed and Holly has been on defense since then. Tazz and Cole are really trying to make this sound like a legit match. They even say that Holly might be pound for pound the strongest guy in the company. That’s just completely stupid. Hey there’s offense! It’s a head slap and two punches and he’s down again. Also most of this is Brock with Holly on the mat in a hold.

    He gets a slightly longer one here, even hitting his finisher, the Alabama Slam (think of a guy going for a sunset flip but not getting over and the guy he’s using it on grabbing his legs and slamming him back down to the mat). Naturally though he doesn’t cover but goes for the stupid submission and since that doesn’t work, the F5 ends this in like 6 minutes.

    Rating: D-. This was a squash on PPV for the title. I can get the idea of having a throwaway feud that ends at the Rumble to set up the real feud at Mania, but this was just a waste of time. Serious, HARDCORE HOLLY is the best you can do? You couldn’t throw someone like Cena in there for a quick feud and title match that went 12 minutes or so? Vince loved Holly for some reason and refused to quit pushing him until he finally woke up and fired him.

    We’re four matches into a six match card. The longest match so far: Eddie vs. Chavo at eight minutes and three seconds. I know I complain about PPVs being too much like a TV show but this is ridiculous.

    HHH and Shawn are getting ready for their title match tonight. Of course it’s seven years in the making despite them feuding extensively since then. Basically this time Shawn had gotten a title shot in his home town and pinned HHH, but his shoulders were down too so HHH kept the belt.

    That’s a great match that you should check out which I believe is on the Heartbreak and Triumph DVD. They go through the usual bitching about HHH taking Shawn’s spot after the injury and I want to beat myself with a rock. This highlight package literally goes on for almost four minutes. WE GET IT.

    Raw World Title: Shawn Michaels vs. HHH

    This is last man standing. From the beginning of the recap package to the bell was about seven and a half minutes. Shawn is finally back to looking like a pro wrestler instead of looking like a tiny man that he was in the Elimination Chamber. What’s the deal with announcers always misusing the word literally? Monsoon said they were literally hanging from the rafters and Lawler says they’re literally beating the hell out of each other. No, not really.

    Ross follows that up with a line saying that Michaels made a calculated mistake. I just shake my head and move on. In a shocking turn of events, HHH works on Shawn’s back. Lawler goes on a limb and says that Shawn’s back might be healed SIX YEARS AFTER HE HURT IT. I love how they try to make it sound like Shawn left and then HHH was a big deal the next day. In reality it took about a year for him to get to the big time and another year and the Rock before anyone took him seriously.

    Shawn hooks on a figure four and Ross manages to plug the recently released Flair DVD. If anyone has ever been a better or more hardworking salesman than Vince McMahon, I want to meet them and buy something from them. We’re already seeing the problem that exists in every Last Man Standing match: the first fifteen minutes or so mean nothing.

    You can go do something else while waiting on that part to end. There will be some decent spots, but it’s simply not going to end during that amount of time. We move to the let’s dodge each other’s finishers which is clichéd but fine I guess.

    Shawn goes to the apron and tries a reverse springboard cross body to the floor but eats table in a good looking spot. Since it’s a big match, Shawn is bleeding. I know he emulates Flair but come on now. Hey let’s get a chair since we haven’t had enough violence so far. Naturally Shawn is up in time because we haven’t had the big face comeback yet. In case you can’t tell, I’m not thrilled by this match. It’s ok, but nothing great.

    Shawn blocks a Pedigree and slingshots HHH in front of the turnbuckle so HHH can jump to hit the post. Shawn kills him with the chair for an eight or so. Both guys are bleeding. Shawn nips up and the fans are into this if nothing else. He initiates his ending sequence which is just like what Bret Hart would do even though he’s nothing like Bret Hart right?

    For the life of me, if Shawn wants to hit a big kick, WHY DOES HE STOMP THE MAT WHILE THE OTHER GUY IS GETTING UP??? That’s just freaking STUPID. Oh come on now. After Shawn gets low blowed, he hooks a sleeper. While it’s psychologically a good move, it’s the best way possible to kill a crowd dead. This match has been 80% punching and chopping.

    This match is going on, but all of the clichéd spots like the long double count are just getting annoying as all hell. A Pedigree puts Shawn down again. He gets up and since he just took a big finisher he’s able to hit Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere, because you know, that’s perfectly reasonable. This leads to a double count out which gets booed out of the freaking building.

    This caused Shawn to be completely ridiculous and consistently demand that he get a title shot and generally coming off like a total whiny little bitch. This is why Shawn was in the Mania main event, and yes, I think it had a lot to do with HHH making sure that his buddy got to main event ANOTHER Mania and kept him from having to job to Benoit clean, but you’ve heard more than enough rants about that.

    Rating: C+. This match felt like it was missing the middle part. It felt like 18 minutes of the feeling out process and then we shifted to the finish for about five minutes. The double count out thing I couldn’t stand but at least they had a plan for these two moving forward.

    The problem though is that it’s just Shawn vs. HHH. This feud went on forever and while it’s a big match, it’s been done. That’s the thing: it’s just more of HHH only making his buddy look good instead of just allowing him to lay down for Benoit at Mania like he should have. It’s not bad, but once you think about it the match loses some luster.

    We go to a long video package about the Rumble, mainly focusing on Benoit which completely gives away the winner. He’s number one and Goldberg is number 30. Yeah that’s about it.

    Austin, Heyman and Bischoff get together. Hilarity ensues.

    Brock and Goldberg look at each other. I think Goldberg wants to go get some coffee.

    Royal Rumble

    As mentioned, Benoit is first and Orton is number 2. Tazz and Ross are doing the commentary tonight and Orton is the IC Champion here. These two would headline Summerslam in about 7 months in a great match which led to Orton’s horribly botched face turn. GEEZ Orton looks different here as he more or less was all clean cut like some college kid. Compare that to what you see now and you’ll be amazed.

    I’m not sure if I like this style of the Rumble. I like having bigger names in at the beginning, but they couldn’t have made it clearer that Benoit was winning if they put the WM 20 poster on the mat for this. I like these hard hitting people if nothing else. Henry is 3rd as I think the intervals are two minutes or so. Teddy Long is managing Henry here which means more or less nothing. After about a minute, Tajiri is 4th. I know this because there’s a graphic in the corner that says Tajiri 4th.

    He and Benoit do some sweet looking technical stuff. Bradshaw is 5th and somehow he would be world champion in 6 months. He clotheslines everyone but Benoit who pulls him into a crossface. Bradshaw picks him up and tries to dump him but Benoit holds on and pulls Bradshaw out. Rhyno is 6th here as the intervals are actually staying pretty close to accurate here.

    Tajiri puts Henry in the Tarantula but Rhyno gores Henry to knock Tajiri out. That’s actually pretty creative and I liked it. Benoit puts Henry out by just running into him a few times to a solid pop. It was bigger last year but we’re not going to speak of that. Oh Henry took some mist according to a replay to cause him to be in the Tarantula. Matt Hardy is seventh. We now have Benoit, Orton, Rhyno and Hardy in there. Hardy is a face here I think. Yeah he’s getting pops.

    I just don’t think he means anything as a singles guy, which would date this show as sometime between 2001 and the present. The two successful singles guys and the two lesser so successful singles guys are together. In at eight is Scott Steiner who means more or less nothing at this point. He dominates for the most part with amazingly enough, more suplexes. In an amusing moment, Benoit is just like bitch please and starts throwing Steiner around with them.

    Ross points out something interesting by saying that no one in this Rumble has won before. Again, that’s the point of an announcer. Lines like that can do a lot as far as elevating a match. Number 9 is MATT FREAKING MORGAN! They know he’s awesome even here where he’s been around all of a few months. Even WWE bills him as 7’0 tall even though he’s about 6’8. He puts Benoit down with a huge power bomb though.

    They refer to him as a rookie here so he hasn’t been around long. I know he came out of nowhere at SS 03 and then left around Mania before coming back as Carlito’s bodyguard. Hurricane is tenth. Morgan throws him out in a few seconds and he lands really badly on his leg and might be legit hurt. He almost puts out Hardy who makes a nice save.

    Morgan just looks at him while he comes back in which just looks stupid as hell. Booker is 11th and is apparently a favorite to win this? He has a bad rap version of his theme song. He and Steiner go at it and we get a WCW reference. Benoit and Morgan just sounds like a TNA dream match. Ross says that Benoit is still alive somehow. That’s a creepy line. Morgan has shrunk to 6’10 apparently but grows back to 6’11 before Kane is in at 12.

    Steiner goes out off camera thanks to Booker. Morgan either has lifts in his shoes or something is weird about his height as he’s almost Kane’s size. They do a smart thing though and spin the camera angles a lot while they’re fighting though. As a recap, we have Benoit, Orton, Rhyno (who gores Hardy as I say that for his first noticeable anything in about 10 minutes), Hardy, Morgan, Booker and Kane.

    Of those seven, three would be in TNA within four years. That’s either saying a lot or nothing at all and I’m not sure which. Kane is the only person up as the clock goes down to zero. The lights go out and a gong sounds. To say the crowd pops is an understatement. Kane had buried Taker alive (again) back at Survivor Series. Only in wrestling would that make perfect sense.

    That had ended the biker gimmick as Taker would come back as the Dead Man at Mania to face Kane in a glorified squash match. Kane is distracted and Booker puts him out. Spike comes out as number 13 and never gets in the ring. You figure out why not. Rikishi is in at 14 after about a minute of waiting. Benoit puts out Rhyno as Rikishi gets in. Morgan gets a stink face as he must be counting the days to getting to TNA. Tazz mentions that Benoit is hanging in there, which sent a chill up my spine.

    Less than 75 seconds later, Renee Dupree is number 15. He actually puts Matt Hardy out with relative ease. That’s surprising if nothing else. Rikishi puts him out a few seconds later. A-Train is in at 16 as he must be about gone from the company at this point. Yeah he would be gone in November after getting hurt in the summer. Benoit puts Morgan out. Orton puts out Booker and Rikishi in about 15 seconds. That’s not bad at all.

    Benoit puts out A-Train just as Shelton gets in at number 17. A-Train goes over the ropes and to the floor, and Tazz says that he thinks A-Train is out and I shake my head. Orton puts out Shelton and we’re back to where we started out. Both are down as a guy in a fake afro comes out to introduce Ernest Miller at 18. This was one of the dumbest signings ever as Miller was barely over in WCW so he got hired here for no apparent reason. He had one thing going for him and it was this:

    [youtube]J2mXPsL2XL0p[/youtube]

    Just give it a bit to get into it. Anyway, after dancing badly for a bit, Orton puts him out. In a very funny moment, Benoit tries to throw out Lamont, the guy that did the introduction but as he runs him to the ropes to throw him, just the hair goes off. It’s a lot better than it sounds. Angle is 19th to a HUGE pop. This is kind of a dream trip in there really. Naturally he and Benoit beat the hell out of each other.

    Rico, now in his full gay stage, is 20th. Tazz sums him up in one line: you have to be as tough as Rico to wear those pants in the Royal Rumble. Rico was a guy that never got a fair shake as a wrestler. He was chained down by his gimmick and no one could ever take him seriously. If nothing else though, I’ve never heard a single bad thing about him and before and after wrestling he was a police officer in Nevada where he graduated at the top of his class both times.

    Like him or not, that’s very impressive. Orton hits an RKO on him and puts him out. As Benoit and Angle beat even more hell out of each other, Test is 21st as no one cares. Main reason no one cares is he’s not here. Orton hits an RKO on Angle as we cut to the back where Test is out cold. Austin, who was sheriff or something like that at the time yells at someone we can’t see that they’re now number 21 as it was apparently the guys that did this to Test.

    Austin sounds like Christian Bale from Dark Knight. It’s Mick Foley as the roof is completely gone after being blown off by his music. This was during an angle where Foley was afraid of Orton and refused to fight him on Raw back in December so he left the company. Ross says he knew Foley wasn’t a coward. The look on Orton’s face is absolutely perfect as he’s scared to death. Foley beats the living hell out of him and a Cactus Clothesline puts both of them out.

    Foley beats on him even more on the floor as Christian is number 22. Oddly enough ECW is on at the moment and he’s in the main event (shocking isn’t it?). Orton is just getting killed by Foley this whole time. Scratch that he’s coming back with a SICK chair shot to Mick’s head. They fight up the entry way as they set up Rock and Foley vs. Evolution at Mania and the EPIC hardcore match at Backlash.

    If you haven’t seen the Backlash match, go get Mick Foley’s Greatest Hits and Misses and check that match out. It’s a great DVD too. The final disc has four Foley matches on it where you can pick between original commentary or Foley and Joey Styles which is a cool idea. Nunzio is 23rd but he walks into Socko on the ramp. We haven’t seen anything in the ring for about a minute and a half at this point, but in this case it’s ok. The crowd is WAY into this.

    Orton runs away and Foley staggers after him. Nunzio (Little Guido for you ECW fans) sits at ringside while everyone else fights in the ring. Tazz makes fun of Christian wearing pink tights. Ross says some great Canadians have worn pink tights which shuts Tazz up FAST. Big Show is in at 24. He’s finally back in normal looking tights which I couldn’t be happier about. Again, Ross says something very insightful: Yoko and Studd were both #24 when they won.

    See, again, that’s something no one would ever pick up on and it offers something to think about. That’s the sign of a great announcer. Jericho is number 25. We have far too high of a Canadian to American ratio in there. Haas is in at 26th. Nunzio is still sitting outside. Jericho puts out Christian for the second year in a row apparently. Billy Gunn is 27th and is apparently returning.

    Why in the world is he getting a pop? I just don’t get it. He gets a Fameasser on both Angle and Show which Ross points out is a bad idea because you have to have Show up to put him out. Ross stays on fire tonight by pointing out that number 27 has produced the most winners in history. Even Tazz says Ross is on a roll tonight.

    Cena is number 28 to a solid pop. He would win his first title, the US, at Mania over Show who he’s feuding with at the moment. He puts Nunzio into the ring but gets jumped by the Italian and Show. Show slaps Nunzio on the back and Tazz says that’ll shake your ass cheeks. Where in the hell did that come from??? RVD is 29th and we know Goldberg is 30th. Cena hits the FU on Angle.

    Your final grouping as Goldberg comes in: Benoit, Haas, Nunzio, Angle, Show, Jericho, Gunn, Cena, RVD and Goldberg. That’s a pretty sweet grouping when you think about it. Of the ten in there, you have four former world champions and three that would be champion in the future. That’s not bad at all. Goldberg destroys everyone in sight and throws out Haas. There goes Gunn. Nunzio is out. He sets to Jackhammer Big Show and here’s Brock to fuck that up.

    He nails Goldberg and then Angle throws him out during the stare down. If either guy was staying at Mania, that could have been EPIC. We’ve got six now. Show gets the Andre treatment which doesn’t work at all. Everyone keeps beating on him and then they realize they fucked up because he’s out cold and weighs 500lbs.

    Ok, I get that he’s dead weight, but Angle has freakish strength and RVD holds a world record for a dead lift while doing the splits, yet five grown professional wrestlers can’t get him up? Show just goes insane and puts out Cena and RVD. Jericho shows his intelligence and gets the Walls of Jericho on Show. Show puts him out with one arm to just show off. The final three are Angle, Benoit and Show.

    If nothing else they’ve saved the best guys for the ending. Angle hits an Angle Slam on Show which never stops being impressive. Benoit takes one that’s close to it but not quite. Show gets a chokeslam but Angle rolls through it into an ankle lock and Show taps again.

    In an awesome looking sequence, Show is in the ankle lock and climbs up the ropes, then he kind of rolls forward over them to pull Angle out, because Angle couldn’t you know, LET GO OF HIS FREAKING LEG or something like that. Benoit rolls through a chokeslam with the most basic counter there is to it and continues his streak of being the only guy in history to consistently work on the right arm of an opponent.

    Show taps again. That’s a nice bit of continuity there as all three submission guys manages to get him to tap but it means nothing. I like it though as it shows they’ve at least thought this out a bit. It’s so simply yet it ties the match together and shows that while Jericho and Angle are both great, they’re not as great as Benoit as only he gets rid of Show in the end. That’s a nice little touch and it works so well.

    Show is in that thing for at least thirty seconds too so that has to hurt like hell. Show breaks it with a similar counter to what Bradshaw did earlier. Benoit breaks the hour mark. Show, with his handlebar mustache, gets Benoit in a gorilla press but Benoit shifts into a chancers (DDT grip with the arm held also) to pull Show over the ropes and in a cool looking finish gets enough leverage to get him out.

    That’s a perfect ending as Benoit didn’t use power or some contrived move. He did what he does best: got a hold on Show and used leverage to get him out. That’s textbook Benoit and it’s the only way he should have won this. The pop is great and for smarks everywhere, this was a perfect moment.

    Rating: A. This was a great Rumble for multiple reasons. First of all, Benoit wasn’t focused on until the very end, which made it far less obvious that he was going to be the winner. He blended into the background, which helped him out a lot here. In the 92 Rumble where Flair more or less went wire to wire, he was the focus of the match. Here, Benoit was mentioned but it was far more casual. Second, the ending 6 or so were awesome.

    There were a bunch of people there that could have won. Angle winning wouldn’t have surprised anyone I don’t think, and Show is always a legit contender in something like this. This match went very well and while it may not have been great, it was very fun. That’s the best way to describe it: fun.

    Overall Rating: C+. The Rumble I the only thing here worth a damn. Look back at the show and see what else you have. The tag title match is a squash, the Cruiserweight title match is 3 minutes long, Eddie vs. Chavo is ok at best, Hardcore Holly got a title shot, and Shawn and HHH had a decent but far from great match with a bad ending. Then you have a great Rumble. That’s not a lot to go on really.

    The part that kills it for me is HHH and Shawn being the only other match longer than eight and a half minutes. Seriously, you couldn’t chop off 6 minutes of that and give three each to the first two matches? Overall, the show isn’t much at all, but the Rumble is great.

    I won’t really recommend it as a lot of this stuff felt like it was from a 3 hour special or something. This wasn’t much, but the Benoit Rumble win is great stuff. You won’t find a better example of someone being launched into the main event than that right there. Definitely check that out, but other than that take a pass.
     
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