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My name is Chris and Mitch Hedberg is surely warming up the crowd as they wait for the Pope’s set to start SmackDown! This was a better than I expected SmackDown!. I heard awful things from a few folks who were at the taping, but they turned out to be only partly right. Jerry The King Lawler replaced Tazz, whose father passed away. I like Lawler and he did a good job, though there is something about Tazz’s form that makes you take matches a little more seriously. We opened with Eddie Guerrero vs. Danny Bashem. There was a good chant before hand. They played up the fact that Eddie asked Rey to stay away from ringside, though Doug Bashem was out there. The match was pretty good, though not the level of many of Eddie’s matches, but what are you gonna do, it’s Danny Bashem? Rey ended up coming out when Doug kept distracting the ref and he hit Eddie, leading to Danny getting the roll-up for the win. There was a cruiserweight battle royal and it was a lot of fun. The story is this: Chavo is hurt and can’t work for a while, but he was the champ. They had made Paul London #1 contender, but they couldn’t do a full match. The smart part of the booking here, since Chavo really couldn’t go at all, is that they had all the Cruisers team up and toss Chavo. It does make Chavo look a little weak, but it also makes a lot of logical sense. The match went on very smoothly, with London being over in his home state. Scotty hit the worm, which Lawler had obviously missed. Paul London did a double dropsault on Akio and Kidman. It was nice to see Akio in the final three. Kidman tossed Akio, the bastard, and then London got thrown, but he skinned the cat and used a badly done headscissors to win the title. After the match, London partied like it was 1995. Carlito begged to be put back in the mix and not have to be Theodore R Long’s whipping boy. Teddy made a match between CCC and John Cena. Nice recall there, that was. Rey told Eddie that it was an accident and got Rey to make a match against Doug Bashem as a way to get revenge. This is heel turn sign #423. They are bringing Booker’s wife into things and she gave him a pep talk before his match with Luther Reigns. The match itself was completely average, with Luther not looking bad, but Booker not really being able to use all his athleticism. We got what we wanted, a Booker Spinerooni, a Scissors Kick, a little hand staring. In what I thought was one of the best build-up segments of the year, right up there with many of the Angle-Michaels bits, Cowboy Bob Orton came to SmackDown! to get The Undertaker not to hurt his son. Cowboy Bob, who was a star at times and didn’t look like a powerful guy though he could totally pull off power moves, got the mic and said he was glad to be back on TV. He said that he molded Randy into the wrestler he has become
and then he called out The Undertaker. He then proceded to beg the Undertaker not to hurt his son at Mania. Cowboy Bob said that Orton is the future of the business and than he shouldn’t hurt him like he did The Frenchman. Good point. After Cowboy Bob took a knee, Randy Attacked from out of nowhere and hit the RKO. This was a great way to build the match at Mania and it came at just the right time. Rey Mysterio lost to Doug Bashem in a fairly fun little match. It was a similar ending to the Eddie Guerrero match, except that Eddie ran up to stop Danny Bashem and knocked Rey off the top, allowing Doug to get the roll-up. Why wasn’t Rey in the Cruiserweight Battle Royal? Kurt Angle was interviewed by Josh Matthews. The best thing about having Josh as an interviewer is that since he’s trained as a wrestler, they can do bits like this. Josh asked Kurt about the failed attack on Shawn Michaels that he tried on Monday. Kurt said that he was gonna make up for it by beating up Josh. This he did. A LOT. He beat him backstage and brought him out to the ring. This was brutal but it did build to the match. Akebono came out and they did the weigh-in. Then, they announced that Akebono, or Chad Rowen, would have his first match, a squash against a jobber named Fast Eddie or some such. The Akebono thing is interesting since the US audience seemed to accept him. CCC took on John Cena. The crowd was way into Cena. Cena dragged Carlito by his hair a lot, which I wouldn’t do since there could be all sorts of traps in there. After a while, John Bradshaw Layfield made his way out with a bunch of police officers. They had Cena handcuffed and then JBL managed to touch him. This led to Cena trying to get to JBL, but the fuzz held him back JBL then gave him a low blow. Good show. I liked it a lot, though the crowd sorta died at the end after being way into the show most of the night. HUGE NEWS USA Networks, the home of the WWF for all of the 1980s and 90s, has finally agreed to the WWE’s proposal and will be taking RAW starting in September. It’s good to be back. WrestleMania There is nothing like WrestleMania. Even the bad Manias had a huge buzz around them. This year, they delivered in so many ways that there wasn’t that much really bad and the good was so far beyond what was expected that it just simply made everything better. We opened with Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio. The guys worked a nice series of headlocks and arm drags, almost like the opening of a Flair match with Ricky Steamboat, that is if Steamboat had been a Mexican. Eddie does a Crossbody to the outside on Rey! That ruled. Eddie got the surfboard which is a move that I have missed quite badly. Eddie just about Powerbombed Rey, but Rey turned it into an armdrag that sent Eddie out of the ring. Rey hit a baseball slide and then a CORKSCREW PLANCHA!!! We don’t
get to see many of those nowadays. This was the highlight of the match for me, and the rest fo the match was solid. Eddie was pinned after Rey got a rana. Just great stuff, though probably a point or two off from some of their best matches. I smart choice to open and the two shook hands after the match. There isn’t much I can say about the Ladder Match. It was amazing. Honestly, while Edge got the win in the match, it was Shelton Benjamin who came out of it looking better than anyone else. He did an Exploder off the ladder! He hit a plancha off of the ladder! He was just a GOD!!! Not that everyone else wasn’t great too. Benoit hit a German Suplex on Jericho while he held on to a ladder! Edge and Christian hit a Conchairto using two ladders! Benoit sold that his arm was destroyed, which came into play when he tried to reach for the briefcase with the contract in it. Edge got the win and this was a match that will be fondly remembered. The concept of Kane in the match was smart, as it gave them a pillar to build around. And he did some great power stuff. This was his best match in ages. Eugene comes out and is all psyched! Hassan and Daivari come out and beat on him. This draws Hogan out of his hidey-hole. Hogan beats on Hassan and then goes on to treat Daivari like Bobby Heenan in 1987, knocking him around the ring. The crowd went nuts for this. It was the right thing to do, and they telegraphed it so much that the crowd was chanting for Hogan even before the actual attack on Eugene. Good stuff. The Undertaker beat Randy Orton. It was a bad choice of endings. They want to protect UT’s legacy, but they could have erased all the troubles of the last year or so for Randy. They instead went with UT getting the win. The match itself was really good, as UT always tried when he is on the big stage and Orton is really good. They worked smart spots making us think that they were going to give Orton the win. The best moment had to be when Cowboy Bob Orton came out with the cast that he wore for ages in the 1980s and nailed UT with it. That led to a great near fall. Randy turned a Chokeslam into an RKO, but that didn’t work either. The end was Randy going for the Tombstone and UT turning it around and getting it for the pin. I’d say this was a notch below Eddie and Rey. The ladies wrestled. Trish won with a Chick Kick. That’s all you need to know. Shawn Michaels. Kurt Angle. You’ll be lucky to ever get two guys of this level in the ring together ever, and this meeting between two damaged warriors was as good as wrestling will ever be. It wasn’t Flair vs. Steamboat, or even Williams vs. Kobashi, but it was amazing to see the two of the great working together and telling a great story. They do a coupel of great spots, one where Michaels misses an Elbow off the Top and one where he arm drags out of an Angleslam. So many great spots, but it was really the way they went between moves and sold the impacts that worked so well. Michaels put Kurt on a table and came off the top with a bodypress. Wow. The guys do so much great work, including an AngleSlam off the Top and Sweet Chin Music. Wow. Angle gets the tap out with the Heel Hook. This is my match of the year and right on the level with Austin vs. Bret at WrestleMania 13.
They did the Piper’s Pit with Austin. Nice to see the guys working together, as they both had a fun time, though Piper seemed to get a little annoyed with the crowd’s reaction. When Carlito came out, that was when the real fun began. Piper grabbed his apple and spit it on CCC. Nice. They eventually teamed and took out Carlito, but Austin then gave Piper a Stunner. Nice. Akebono and Big Show had a Sumo match that was worked. It wasn’t very good. This will probably lead to something the next time the WWE is in Tokyo, probably at the Tokyo Dome. Cena won the SmackDown! Title from John Bradshaw Layfield. Sadly, the crowd was not into it as much as they should have been. JBL will not be remembered as a strong champ, but he did great interviews at times and his commercial with Cena for Mania was remarkable. They did a typical match, with JBL carrying the action. FU led to the win. The crowd sorta got into the finish, and after the match, Cena dived into the crowd and celebrated. That was a great touch. Batista did what everyone knew he would do and pinned HHH clean in the middle. This was a long match, not perfect, but it had an aura of huge impact. They worked smart, though and avoided long segments of Batista selling. They did a great spot where Batista was about to hit the Pedigree, but Batista powered out and turned it into an Emerald Frozion-type thing. I’d say this was the fifth best match of the night. Batista got the Batista/DemonBomb and the pin. Great Mania. Not one of the top, but near that level. Angle vs. Michaels at their individual heights would have been incredible, and even with their broke-down bodies, it was still next to Godly. Huge Thumbs up. RAW They opened RAW with the Austin Mania commercial and then launched into a five minute recap video. Smart move, as it was a great video package and caught us all the way up to where we are. HHH came out and said that he got beat clean, but that was just one night. He had a great delivery here, and when he faced off with one of the fans who was jawing at him, that Fan shut up due to the rage that HHH managed to put out there. Solid. The first match was Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian vs. Chris Jericho. This was an awesome match of the time they got. They worked in fast forward, hitting well-placed spots. Lot’s of switch spots, with the guys taking turns. Jericho did a series of spots where he dominated both guys, including doing a nice double leg-trip into double cradles. Jericho got the Walls on Christian, but Shelton came off the top with the Bulldog for the pin. Shelton is the most underrated worker right now.
Trish kept her run for Heel of the Year alive by kicking Christy Hemme in the head before their match. This led Lita to stand up to Trish, and Trish responded by kicking her in the bad knee and then putting a toe hold on her. She’s so good as the evil bitch heel. Michaels did an interview that was OK until Hassan interrupted and then they attack him. GO figure. Still, Daivari got to clip Shawn and that is always a good thing as Daivari is always well-dressed. Edge took on Benoit in a match that was better than the Three-way, though they would have been better if they had the same amount of time. Nice work here, with great back and forth and Benoit selling his arm, which may have been really hurt. Benoit does a series of Crossfaces, but then avoids a spear and gets the pin. Edge then wails on the bad arm of Benoit to get himself over as a majour heel. Thank God it looks like it’s going to take. Steve Austin came back to RAW by beating on Simon Dean and Maven. They did a long segment where Austin said that Dean needed to taste his beer and Austin had to drink the Simon System, Austin hated it and Maven ended up spilling the System on Austin, which led to the beatdown that we all knew was coming. Batista beat Randy Orton in a match that was mostly setting up Randy to get his time off so that he could get his shoulder surgery. They tried, though they were really just there to give Batista a first win. Batista hit the DemonBomb after tossing Randy into the post and beating on his arm. This was a really good follow-up show and one that I hope they manage to follow through on. That’s all for this edition. I’ll be back on Friday with more news, views and a FlashBack!