Back and Up
THE PEOPLE'S MAILBAG: Kevin Smith (Not THAT one - I don't think) told me what I knew already - that "Kane-on-ites" was a play on the Canaanites from the Biblical city of the same name, and since Biblical references worked so well for Austin... yeah. Shame Kane's hurt and all now.
LINE OF THE INDETERMINATE TIME PERIOD: Kurt Angle: "I'm a hero, DAMN IT!" (SmackDown!, April 18)
PREDICTIONS FOR BACKLASH
Women's Title Match: Jazzz vs. Twitch Stratus
Women's Title Match: Jazzz vs. Twitch Stratus
Waaaay back in February, Jazz beat Trish for the Women's title, then kept it in a three-way with Trish and Lita at WrestleMania. The women's division moved to Raw, and Trish got into some scrapes with a newly-heeled (and strawberry blonde) Molly Holly. Molly beat Trish last week with a bridged Indian Deathlock after Jazz plastered her with a belt shot, but Trish got the duke on Raw in a contender's match.
TNM Says: Trish Stratus (9:03 small package --> pin) Jazz
What I'd Do: I think it's time to move the belt back to Trish.
What They'll Do: I suspect they'll do the same, but I'm not convinced. Still, I'll say Trish wins.
Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Hey Man Nice Shot) vs. One, Or Possibly Both, Of The Hardy Boyz
Lesnar, a former NCAA heavyweight champion and one of the WWF's prized prospects, made his TV debut the night after X8, and since then he's carved a steady path of destruction with triple powerbombs, his fireman's carry DDT, and by laughing off chairshots like he was New Jack. Vince tried to draft him for SmackDown!, but it wasn't his turn and Flair called him out on it, then took him for Raw.
Lesnar hired Paul Heyman as his agent because, Heyman said, he has a knack for spotting "The Next Big Thing" - citing the times he managed Austin in ECW and Undertaker (briefly) when he was Mean Mark Callous in WCW, as well as the creation of ECW and the WWF's subsequent adoption of Attitude.
Of his victims, the Hardys were the only ones to fight back, which led to an announced Matt/Brock match for Backlash. On Raw this week, Heyman tried to get some Lita lovin' in exchange for Brock going easy on Matt, but Lita wasn't having it. So Brock gave Matt his apparent finisher on the stage, knocking him out.
The confusion above stems from the fact that Matt/Brock was announced on Raw, then apparently changed to Jeff/Brock during SmackDown!, though the website still says Matt/Brock. It won't matter, but it'd be nice to be sure. Either way, it's Lesnar's television wrestling debut, which is why I'm not simming this match - he hasn't HAD a match yet. (Here's a clear benefit of the split - without it, not only would Lesnar have wrestled on TV by now, but he may have even lost, killing that "rookie monster" aura.)
What I'd Do: It'd be a damn shame for Lesnar to lose after all this buildup.
What They'll Do: They're using the Hardys because they're over, people like them, and they can bump and sell Lesnar's insane offense. This won't go too long, I suspect, and Lesnar will win relatively easily.
Scott Free Hall vs. Bradshaw
After Flair drafted the nWo, they moved into the old APA office. Bradshaw (who had been one of the few vocal critics of the nWo coming in) took exception to this and ran to reclaim his turf, and he got beaten down for his troubles. He would later come to Kane's aid after an nWo attack following Kane's win over X-Pac, and he was there again after the nWo ambushed Kane backstage before taking his mask.
This was originally supposed to be Bradshaw & Kane against Hall & X-Pac, but Kane's hurt, thus a singles match.
TNM Says: Bradshaw (11:07 Clothesline From Hell --> pin) Scott Hall
What I'd Do: Only one nWo member with a match? Go Scott Hall.
What They'll Do: I get the feeling that Hall's winning.
Cruiserweight Title Match: Billy Kid Man vs. (yoshihiro) Tajiri (w/Torrie the Fembot Geisha)
Kidman returned after the draft, and his first match back was against Tajiri for the cruiserweight title. Prior to the match, he ran into Torrie backstage. They have a PAST, you see. Tajiri saw this and got all huffy. During the match, Tajiri brought the title belt into the ring, but Torrie removed it. Tajiri got distracted looking for it, allowing Kidman to pin him and win the title. Post-match, Tajiri seemed to blame Torrie for the loss. Since then, he's dressed her in a kimono and yells at her after every match as Michael Cole desperately tries to get him over as a chauvinist.
Hell, when was the last time there was a storyline in the cruiserweight division?
TNM Says: Tajiri (DQ 5:01) Billy Kidman
What I'd Do: Tajiri regains the gold belt, but loses the golden-haired Torrie. (Christ, did I just WRITE that?)
What They'll Do: Have Torrie grow a spine and cost Tajiri the title again.
Tag Team Title Match: Totally Buff 2002 (w/Rico) vs. Two Tough
There's really not a whole lot to talk about here - two weeks ago before a scheduled Al Snow/Chuck Palumbo match, the tag champs' stylist, Rico, criticized Maven's eyebrows. Really. Not the least bit upset by this, Snow pinned Palumbo, which likely led to the booking of this match. Then, last night, Maven pinned Palumbo with a flying cross body during a six-man tag.
As I said last time, this is a good situation for Maven - he can keep learning in the ring without getting overexposed, and teaming with Snow is even better because Al can do most of the work.
TNM Says: Billy & Chuck (8:44 Fameasser --> pin Maven) Al Snow & Maven
What I'd Do: Keep the belts on Billy and Chuck, mostly because I don't think Maven's quite ready for the relatively high profile being a tag champ on SD would lead to.
What They'll Do: It wouldn't shock me if Al and Maven won, but I say the champs retain.
Intercontinental Title Match: The Whole Show vs. Eddie Guer-rudo
Ric Flair's first coup as Raw's head man was bringing back Guerrero, who ambushed Van Dam after he'd beaten Booker T in an IC title defense. Eddie later said that he'd returned to take back what was his - both the title and the frog splash, claiming that Van Dam stole the latter. I wonder what D'Lo Brown thinks about all this.
TNM Says: Eddie Guerrero (8:19 Frog Splash --> pin) Rob Van Dam
What I'd Do: RVD just got the thing. I'd have D'Lo do a run-in and drop a Lo-Down on both of them.
What They'll Do: Not yet, Eddie. RVD retains.
Olympic Villain Kurt Angle vs. The King of Awesomeness
The night after beating Booker T at X8, Edge pinned Angle in a tag team match, apparently annoying Angle enough to give him cause to cost Edge a rematch with Booker on the following SmackDown! Edge got the SmackDown! crowds to replace "What?" with "You suck!" whenever Angle speaks. Their initial one-on-one match ended in a DQ when Angle blocked an Edge spear with a steel chair. Angle gave Edge an Olympic Slam on a concrete floor.
The last two Kings of the Ring collide! Edge beat Angle to win the tournament last year, and he also beat him for the WCW U.S. Title going into the unification match at Survivor Series.
TNM Says: Edge (11:42 shovel to the head - yes, really --> pin) Kurt Angle
What I'd Do: It's odd... with Rock gone for a bit, Edge is SmackDown!'s number two face. But I don't know if you put him over Angle just yet.
What They'll Do: Angle's winning, but I get a vibe that we won't be finished with this feud after Sunday.
#1 Contender's Match (Special Referee Ric Flair): The $64,000 Question vs. Hell On Wheels
Vince McMahon has really been letting his man Undertaker down in recent weeks. First, he promised that Flair wouldn't pick him in the brand extension draft, and he did. Then Flair tried to appease UT by naming him the #1 contender for the WWF Title, but Vince came on SmackDown! and said that Flair didn't have the right to do that, taking UT's shot away from him. But Flair does get to name the next #1 for after Backlash, and UT demanded that spot.
So did Steve Austin.
This left Flair in the middle of two men who have beaten the crap out of each other many times - and who would both punk him out without a second thought, despite his warnings that there'll be "hell to pay" for anyone who touches him. After eating two Stunners in three weeks, Flair decided to insert himself into the match as the special ref. Yeah, I don't know either.
TNM Says: Stone Cold (15:47 Stunner --> pin) Undertaker
What I'd Do: Hmmm. Triple H needs face opponents, and a showdown with Austin should really be saved for a Big Five show. UT wins.
What They'll Do: The original plan was for Taker to face Triple H for the title and have Austin do something with Kevin Nash. But Nash got hurt, so everything got shuffled and we're left with this. I figure Undertaker will win to get things back on track.
Undisputed, Unified Title Match: Game Boy vs. Petrified Wood Hogan
So Vince McMahon settled the #1 Contender business by giving the spot to Hogan after - but not necessarily because of - Rock's statement that Hogan deserved it more than himself, Angle, or Chris Jericho. Unfazed by Hogan's iconic status, Triple H promised that it wouldn't matter - he'd still run Hogan down. Angle suckered Hogan into beating down Triple H two weeks back after HHH told Hogan to stay out of any business he had. Then, last night, Hogan accidentally hit HHH with a chair, prompting Hunter to respond with a very un-accidental chair shot of his own.
I'd like to thank Vince for making it clear what would happen to Triple H if he loses. (He'd go to SmackDown! exclusively.)
Hoo boy, the smarky smark smarks are gonna be all over this one no matter how it ends. The thing about Hogan, though, is this: in WCW, after the nWo fizzled out and he'd leave for months at a time, whenever he came back, he'd get pops for about six weeks or so, then they'd fade into obscurity if he hadn't won the title by then. So all the WWF is doing here, I think, is striking while the iron is hot, since I doubt they expected him to get such a face reaction at X8 and there's no way to tell how long it will last. (Has he been back in MSG yet?)
Another thing to consider is that Chris Jericho has been taking shots at Hogan over the past couple of weeks, and he doesn't even have a match at this show. He's formed an alliance with Angle, and you've gotta think that Chris will make his presence felt here.
TNM Says: Triple H (8:10 small package --> pin) Hulk Hogan
What I'd Do: Triple H JUST got the thing. I say let him keep it.
What They'll Do: HHH retains after Jericho interferes against Hogan, furthering their issue in the process.