Damn but these weeks go by fast. It's almost scary how quickly I find myself sitting in my office on Monday morning writing up the introduction to this pile of words. Time stops for no man, I guess.
Speaking of which, I'd better get on with it.
Before we jump into the wrestling commentary, let me offer an apology. I made a dig at Cleveland in my last column and I wanted to say that I am sorry if I offended any Ohio peeps out there. It was just a joke, honestly. Truth be told, when I lived outside Cleveland for a year, I really liked it a lot. The people were really friendly and there was lots of fun things to do.
Okay, now that that's done...
Sunday night saw the first live appearance of the nWo in the WWF as they made a mediocre splash at the No Way Out pay per view event. It seems they attempted to "fake" out the crowd by coming across as a group of faces just trying to be a part of the new WWF. In spite of a number of vignettes throughout the course of the show where they showed (insincere) respect and admiration to guys like Austin and The Rock, they made the inevitable heel turn at the end of the show and punked out Stone Cold during his match, costing him the Undisputed Title. They then, in a bold and shocking move, triple teamed Austin and painted the nWo logo on his back with spraypaint!!!!!
Sheesh. Way to recycle old gimmicks and angles, guys.
Now, I understand that not every WWF fan is familiar with the nWo and their practices from back in the heyday of WCW, but come on. The charade they put on throughout the show didn't convince anyone that they were coming is as decent fellows and I think it was pretty obvious to everyone both in the arena and watching at home that they were going to beat on at least one face during the course of the show. Personally, I think their time on screen would have been better served if they'd lurked through the locker room punking out some of the lesser folks and having a larger hand in costing all the face main eventers (Rocky, HHH, and Austin) their matches. It isn't like those matches ended clean anyway.
It also would have been nice to see a couple of surprise members of the faction show up as well (Steiner comes to mind).
Ah well. I guess the WWF figures we fans will take what we are given, or just tune out. Hey, isn't that what killed the WCW? Hmmm. Maybe Vince's plan will work better than even he thought it could, but not quite in the way he expected.
Meanwhile it looks like Jericho/Angle for this year's Canada-hosted Wrestlemania. I find this match up interesting as it places a Canadian hero against an American hero. Perhaps they realized that Jericho is going to get cheered in Toronto no matter what he does in the states and decided to give him a heel opponent that represents everything that our Northern Neighbors hate about the USA.
Or they could just have some lame ass stip match on an upcoming RAW or Smackdown that changes the card between now and then. Guess where the smart money is.
Anyway, tonight we should see the first live RAW appearance of the nWo and possibly some retaliation by Austin. Expect more on the feud between HHH and Stephanie as well as something from the Rock (if he shows up). Here we go folks, strap in and pray that Hogan doesn't break a hip dropping the "big leg."
The Good, Bad, and Ugly for WWF RAW, televised February 18, 2002
WOW: They get right to it, Austin is out to address his attack from the night before.
BAD: I don't recall Austin's soul being decimated and "a calculated attack" are the last words I'd use to describe the nWo's hit on him last night. They beat him up in a very obvious and easily predicted assault in front of a gigantic live and television audience. JR really needs to take a little bit of the exaggeration off of what he says before he starts calling Crash Holly the "biggest man in professional wrestling."
INTERESTING: I like the nWo's intro with the static and scratchy overlay but I do think it could get really annoying really quickly.
UGLY: Hall and Nash certainly seem to have put a little weight on while they were taking time off. Nice guts, boys.
GOOD: Hogan, on the other hand, looks pretty damned fit.
HEH: Austin performing a sit in. Shades of the old stubborn Austin.
BAD: JR: "What a chaotic way to kick off RAW! What's gonna happen now?" King: "What are we gonna do?" WWF Production team: "Go to commercial." Like we were gonna tune off the show after the first 5 minutes.
GOOD: Austin on strike. Heh. Hey, is he slurring his words a bit?
GOOD: Check out the hot blonde behind Lawler and Ross.
FUNNY: That "You suck! What?" chant for Angle is getting louder and louder each week. Man, this kid's got some serious heat.
FUNNIER: Austin tossing beer cans all the way up the ramp at Angle...and nearly hitting him! Damn that's good aim.
GOOD: Angle is cutting one heck of a good promo here.
BAD: Among the "off duty cops" that Angle brings is one guy who looks about 17 and one who looks around 60...and even I know that cops who are on security detail wear their uniforms and carry firearms. Do a little research here, guys.
BAD: I have said it before and I will say it again, I hate arrest angles. Selective law enforcement in sports entertainment is stupid and nonsensical and I am tired of writers using it as a vehicle to get them out of situations when they write themselves into a corner. Asses.
QUESTION: If an off duty police officer is working as a security agent for a privately owned company and is not showing a badge or any other indication that he is, in fact a cop (other than the word of a rival wrestler), is Austin's attack really grounds for a charge of assaulting a police officer? Any cops or law students out there?
GOOD: Jeff Hardy still selling the 3D on the floor from last night.
BAD: The fucking Hardies and Lita are back. Is anyone else sick of these three cheating motherfuckers? Their offense is stagnant, their bumps are understated unless they take place from the top of a cage or a ladder, and their yodeling and posing is tiresome. Methinks they need to retool their in-ring moveset before I yawn so hard, I dislocate my jaw.
GOOD: They are taking on Christian and Lance Storm. This might just be something worth watching.
EH: So-so contest. What's with Christian breaking out the abdominal stretch? Who does that move anymore?
BAD: Storm's style seems to be clashing quite a bit with Jeff's. They can't seem to hit the spots correctly out there.
GOOD: Storm responding to Christian's temper tantrum with a "What the hell?" pose. Classic.
FUCK: Lita the cheata interferes (of course) and indirectly costs Storm and Christian the match. I want to see more situations where wrestlers counter her Litacanrana and drop her pretty little head on the mat, hard.
BAD: Stephanie "acting" backstage before Angle walks in. I really wish she'd go away.
HOLY BREASTESES: Did she get the new area codes that the government issued to each of her tits yet? That girl just went too big. Way too big. I don't know too much about human anatomy but I suspect that there's a health risk if your boobs are bigger than your head. Ladies? Any comments?
BAD: A rematch from last night giving HHH another shot at Angle to win his title match back. I bet those of you who paid to see the Angle/HHH "Winner goes to Wrestlemania" match last night feel like suckers.
GOOD: Flair issues a stipulation barring Stephanie from the ring, that leaves the match up for interpretation as the heels always seem to find ways around such challenges. Methinks I sense a run-in, most likely from Jericho.
EW: Who the FUCK wants to see a freak hang himself on meathooks? Is that considered entertainment? By whose standards, Pinhead's?
DAMN! The Undertaker just stole Faarooq's catchphrase! New match tonight, UT versus the Acolytes for rights to use the term "Damn!" on the air.
GOOD: Flair refusing to fight UT in his initial challenge. Of course, we know that ultimately, there will be a match between these two and likely it will happen at Wrestlemania, but it will take a little work to get us there and I think this is the best way for them to get this feud cooking.
HEH: Wrestlemania moment where Pete Rose gets tombstoned. Could that be foreshadowing for this year?
BAD: Nash and Hall call it a night at 9:41 pm. Yeap, same old guys.
GOOD: Hogan heads back in, presumably to further his feud with Rocky.
GOOD: Perfect looks good...his upper body is huge!
BAD: He resorts to running down the local football franchise for cheap heat. Bah.
INTERESTING: Is Kane's new role to put over other wrestlers? I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with that, just looking to get it straight.
GOOD: Perfect nails the football player in the face with his towel. Now that's good heal heat.
GOOD: Perfect ain't gonna have an easy time getting the Perfectplex on Kane, but gotta give him props for trying.
BAD: Well I was wrong about Kane...so lemme ask this, what was the point of having him beat Hennig?
BAD: Yeap, that nWo entrance is already annoying.
UGLY: Hogan's face still looks like a catcher's mitt. I could use his wrinkles to hold my pencils.Would it have killed him to get a chemical peel while he was gone?
SURREAL: Hogan in a WWF ring again...and getting some face heat.
HEH: Check out the assholes in the front row bowing to him.
SINCERE: The onset of Hogan's promo seems to be steeped in nostalgia. Could the Hulkster be sharing his feelings earnestly here? Do I smell a little shooting?
BAD: Knock off the "What?" shit! He is NOT AUSTIN.
GOOD: Hogan adding a "'cha gonna do." To the "What?" chant.
GREAT: Hogan's promo is designed to draw Rocky out, and it does. How many of us have actually fantasized about these two dueling promos? Let's just see how good a feud that these two ubertalkers can give us.
GOOD: JR: "Wrestling's past meeting wrestling's future." Nice way to put it.
BAD: Why do I suspect that the Outsiders are close by and ready to pounce?
GREAT: The Rock's promo. I order you all to go back and watch it again. If you didn't tape it, get your asses on the newsgroups and find an MPG or an MP3. This stuff is GOLD.
GOOD: Hogan/Rock at Wrestlemania.
BAD: I see the Internet polls now. "Who's got the most ridiculous finisher? Hogan with the big leg or Rocky with the People's Elbow?"
GOOD: Hogan questioning whether Rocky is even in his league. Nice card to play there.
GOOD: Rocky mocking Hogan's old "lemme hear it" motion...notice how he keeps one eye on Hollywood the whole time.
EXCELLENT: Great, albeit long, promo with a fantastic ending. I think we are all looking forward to seeing these two go toe to toe at Wrestlemania.
GOOD: Rocky getting a Rock Bottom on Hogan. Welcome to the new WWF Hogan, where the faces act like heels.
I KNEW IT: Hall and Nash are still there...and there's the beatdown.
GOOD: The Razor's Edge. It's been too long since it's been called that on television.
BAD: Weak looking powerbomb by Nash. I remember him doing that and making it look like it hurt the guy he was dropping more than he hurt himself.
OKAY OKAY: We get the point. Enough beating down the guy.
BAD: Way too many nWo cheers...they'd better make them more dastardly if they expect them to be bona-fide heels.
JEEZ: For the love of Christ, they are only THREE OLD GUYS. Stop trying to put them over as such a threat! If the company was really so threatened, why not just send out half a dozen guys to beat them senseless?
HEY! What happened to the Acolytes? Weren't they really upset at the prospect of the nWo coming to the WWF? Why don't they make the save here? Oh wait, that would make some sort of sense, and we can't have that.
OVERKILL: The nWo chains up the ambulance that the Rock is taken away in and then proceeds to smash it with a truck. These were the kind of over the top stunts that cost the WCW so much money that they found themselves having to share pencils in writing meetings to save money.
BAD: I will never feel comfortable seeing Hogan do the crotch chop.
BAD: The nWo see what they "did" to the Rock and run off...like they could just get away. Seems they forgot that there's a camera man STANDING RIGHT THERE recording their every move.
WORSE: Since we saw Austin get taken out in handcuffs, we have to wonder where the FUCK are the cops that arrested him during all this shit? We just saw assault with a deadly weapon, hijacking, ambulance theft, property damage, attempted vehicular homicide, and hit and run. To make matters worse, it happened outside the arena while the Rock was being taken to a hospital which puts it even further outside of the "sports entertainment" arena. Where's the police to arrest Hogan, Hall, and Nash? Goddamned stupid nonsensical bullshit.
BAD: Now JR is understating things. The nWo just tried to kill a man and he calls it "unmitigated gall." Um how about psychopathic behavior? Criminal insanity? Nah, just a little gall.
SPEAKING OF GALL: The Godfather is here. Yeap. Follow up a major spot like that with hot chicks in leather.
GOOD: Finally, a match Booker is likely to win.
BAD: The problem with having a match follow a huge vignette like what we just saw is that the commentators can't stop talking about it and ignore what's going on in the ring.
GOOD: The match kind of manages to play up to what happened to the Rock by having the "Escorts" act concerned about what just happened, causing the Godfather to lose the match.
GOOD: The cops arrive.
BAD: They do nothing. How about you start with an APB on Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall?
EH: Putting together a tag team match between RVD/Edge and Regal/Goldust. I guess this could have potential, but I can't say as I give much of a shit since I could really care less about these guys' respective feuds.
GOOD: Well fought, fast paced match.
COOL: Nice little submission move that Edge drops on Regal there. I will have to make sure to read CRZ's recap closely to get the name of that one.
BAD: How many times do we have to hear JR say the words "Edge has snapped"? I thought the whole purpose of "snapping" is that it happens only once in a great while. If you "lose it" all the time, then that becomes part of your nature and thus can no longer be defined as abnormal, therefore you are not "snapping" per se, you are just getting as upset as you normally get. Am I making sense here? Bah, forget it.
WOW: On replay, that was quite a stunt there. They really smashed that ambulance...yikes. Gotta give props to the stuntman driving that truck.
GOOD: Angle plays up his own misfortune in place of the Rock's in his interview with Michael Cole. Now, of course, we all saw that coming but he still pulls it off well.
GOOD: Lillian's got some nice legs.
I WONDER...when the WWF is going to get their girls in some sort of Playboy spread. Women of the WWF. Who wouldn't want to see Ivory, Torrie Wilson, Stacy Keibler, Jackie, Lita, Molly, Trish, Lillian Garcia, and Stephanie bear it all in a multipage spread? And for those of you who say that Steph would never do it, since she doesn't need the money, it's not about the cash for her. I bet she'd strip down for the cameras simply for the attention. Hell, she'd probably demand the largest photo in the spread.
GOOD: It's nice to know that Hulk Hogan is currently in a federation where the reigning champion is Chris Jericho. Kind of makes you smile, don't it?
BAD: As if to deliberately prove my earlier comment wrong, both Angle and HHH bust out the abdominal stretch. Were they reading over my shoulder or something?
HEH: The witty banter coming from Jericho. It's a joy to listen to.
BAD: Is it me or is Hunter really slow out there? I guess we should give him a few more weeks to work the ring rust out...I hope it happens sooner than later.
GOOD: The match picks up in the later minutes. I liked the Electric Chair drop spot out of the corner and the belly to belly overhead outside the ring.
BAD: Why bother giving Angle a win last night just to have it turn around on him tonight? Seems illogical to me. I guess there's still time for them to switch the card around again.
OVERALL: Decent show tonight. In spite of it being dominated by the huge Hogan/Rock confrontation and the Ambulance stunt, I think they gave us a great post-PPV effort. It's obvious that Austin and Rocky are going to be the nWo's first targets, but I have to wonder if they are aiming too high too soon. I mean, let's talk hypothetically. If the nWo succeed in taking Rock and Austin out, then who is left to challenge them? HHH? Angle? Jericho? Hardly, I think and I'd hate to see a repeat of the WCW debacle where the nWo never actually got beaten and just petered out on its own. If the Rock and Austin get the better of the nWo at Wrestlemania, then the angle is essentially snuffed one month into it's start. Then what? As for the rest of the show, it kind of paled in comparison which is to be expected, but there has to be some focus on what's going on in the undercard or you run the risk of relegating the rest of your roster to "opening acts" for the nWo's antics. Eh. I guess I am probably jumping the gun with this analysis, but hey, that's what we Internet wrestling writers do.
Questions, comments, silverware? Write me at >firstname.lastname@example.org. All letters will be answered or kicked up a notch.
I am Michaelangelo and will be for a while.
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