Return of Slic
THE PEOPLE'S MAILBAG: You know what's funny (to me, at least)? I was expecting to be raked over the coals for not joining the pallbearers after Hogan won the belt. Instead, Chris Ingersoll wrote:
Personally, I only have one problem with Hogan's title reign: That Flair didn't get a run with the Unified Title first. They seemed to be setting this up perfectly when Jericho was on top, but never followed through. It would've been appropriate, even if only for a week or even three days.
I'm not sure how you'd have done it, though - it would have to be a different scenario from when Vince beat Triple H (after getting his ass kicked for 8 minutes until Austin ran in) since Flair can, you know, still wrestle a wee bit. Although, given the way things have gone recently, it might be easier to pull off now.
SIGN OF THE MONTH: From SmackDown! last night: Vince Save Our Expos.
Poor Stone Cold. It's apparently his fault that the Raw roster seems to be turning against him one by one. Two violent betrayals in a span of three weeks, both of which, when explained away, make perfect sense.
Ric Flair's turn is a special case because things had been building up to it ever since Backlash. Even after Austin violated repeated warnings not to touch Flair, he admitted his mistake at Backlash to Austin and apologized. Austin didn't buy it. He gave Austin a match against the nWo as a peace offering, but Big Show took out Bradshaw (now, clearly, at Flair's request) and turned on partner Austin at the end of the match. Flair apologizes for that, but Austin rejects it (and so did the live crowd, if you remember).
Flair shipped Show off to India for a promotional tour that week, we now know, to protect him from Austin. He and Bradshaw beat Scott Hall & X-Pac when Flair misses X-Pac's foot on the ropes, and it all looked like Flair did it on purpose just to stay on Austin's good side. But THAT wasn't good enough for Austin, either.
So Flair said: "Austin doesn't trust me? The hell with him."
He makes a six-man tag for the following Raw with himself on Austin and Bradshaw's side against the three nWo members. An APA hat is planted in the nWo locker room, and Kane's stolen mask finds its way to Bradshaw's locker to make Austin think that Bradshaw's joined the nWo - leaving the door wide open for Flair to take him out.
"Slick Ric" indeed.
Big Show kept it simple: No Austin=main eventing at WrestleManias. Austin=dropping down the ladder to three-way Hardcore title matches to wrestling on Heat this year. HEAT! The outrage! He's the biggest man in the world, probably. He believes joining the nWo and getting rid of Austin will put him back at the top of the heap. True and logical both.
You may not like that it happened, but you can't say it wasn't well-executed. Well, you can, but I'd be quick to disagree with you.
The real test will be when Booker T explains his reasoning for joining the nWo. Even money says it has something to do with Austin. If you can imagine.
PREDICTIONS FOR QUESTIONABLE JUDGMENT
Intercontinental Title Match: Eddie Guer-rudo vs. The Whole Show
The frog splash wars continue in this rematch from Backlash, where Eddie made good on his return by defeating Rob Van Dam for the IC belt.
TNM Says: Rob Van Dam (5:30 Five Star Frog Splash --> pin) Eddie Guerrero
What I'd Do: I'd give RVD the title back, because I think I have an idea of how the title situation for both shows might change in the next month or so.
What They'll Do: I'd expect RVD to regain the gold.
Flip & Flop vs. Not Goldberg & Paul Hey Man Nice Shot
Another continuation of sorts of a feud, as this time both Hardyz get a shot at Brock Lesnar. After a handicap match gone awry on Raw, Heyman demanded a rematch and put himself in as Brock's partner. Something's up.
I don't want to see Heyman's wrestling gear - I'm having scary flashbacks to that ECW show where Joel Gertner came out as the white Kamala complete with painted-on stars.
TNM Says: Double countout at 29:53 (I told you, I book NOTHING when I run the sim.)
What I'd Do: Somehow Heyman ends up in the ring and gets pinned.
What They'll Do: I smell a rat, and it smells like another WWF developmental talent (Shelton Benjamin?) taking Heyman's place and helping Brock beat down the Hardyz.
Women's Title Match: Twitch Stratus (w/Bubba Raw Dudley) vs. Stacylegs Keibler (w/The Wrong Reverend)
Trish finally won the Women's title back from Jazz in her town Toronto on Monday night in a hardcore tag. Then on SmackDown!, when Tajiri pulled Torrie Wilson from her bikini contest with Stacy, Trish was more than willing to fill in (so to speak), and an embarrassed Stacy went to Vince and demanded this match.
Vince put Reverend D-Von and Deacon Batista in Stacy's corner as a counter to Bubba Ray's expected presence at Trish's side. Lucky bastards.
TNM Says: Stacy (14:54 legdrop --> pin) Trish Stratus
What I'd Do: No point in delaying Trish regaining the strap for two months just for her to drop it to the likes of Stacy. Trish wins.
What They'll Do: Since all the women workers are on Raw (except Ivory - where's Ivory?), it makes more sense for Trish to retain even though she'll be on both shows.
Tag Team Title Match: Totally Buff 2002 (w/Rico) vs. Rikishi & Future Considerations
After beating Al Snow & Maven at Backlash, Billy, Chuck, and stylist Rico had a few run-ins with Rikishi - literally, as Rikishi gave Rico a stinkface which required dozens of facials to repair, then actually winning a match with the sunset flip-sitdown on SmackDown! So Vince, upset that the three of them couldn't handle Rikishi, booked a match with Billy & Chuck against Rikishi - and a partner of Vince's choosing. And of all times for Scotty 2 Hotty to need an Austin done on his neck.
What They'll Do: This would be an almost ideal spot for the Island Boyz to show up, but I think one of them's hurt. Damned if I know what they'll do here, although I wouldn't expect Vince to give Rikishi a partner that he could actually win the titles with. So I'll say the partner is Albert (going strictly on backstory) and Billy & Chuck retain via the obvious method.
Handicap Match: The $64,000 Question vs. Slic Ric & The Big F'n Show
TNM Says: Steve Austin (4:25 Stunner --> pin Flair) Ric Flair & Big Show
What I'd Do: Well, it IS two on one, and the point is to get Flair and Show over as heels, so the heels should go over.
What They'll Do: Flair chicanery leads to a heel victory.
Hair vs. Hair Match: Olympic Villain Kurt Angle vs. The King of Awesomeness
Edge almost had Angle beaten at Backlash, but Angle turned a spear attempt into an Angle Slam and got the pinfall. The next week, Edge sabotaged the unveiling of Angle's new T-shirt, and the week after that, this challenge was made. The shaving will take place immediately after the match.
Last hair match on U.S. TV: Kidman/Psicosis, Nitro sometime in late '99?
This feud still isn't over, by the way, regardless of who wins.
TNM Says: Angle (10:07 Angle Slam --> pin) Edge
What I'd Do: The pattern in this feud has been similar to Angle's feud with a freshly face-turned Chris Benoit last year at this time - regular match, gimmick match, and probably a bigger gimmick match as the final blowoff. I'd hold form and put Edge over, myself.
What They'll Do: I think Edge will win because shaving Angle's head won't take as long. It's only a three-hour show, and they'll need plenty of time for...
HIAC: Game Boy vs. Chump Jericho
Jericho was among the gang who felt left out when Vince gave Hogan the title shot at Backlash, and he's still upset that he lost the title to Triple H at X8. He cheated in a match against Triple H to get a shot at Hogan, but lost due to some mental trickery on the Game's part. Then last week, he plastered Triple H with a chair after a five-man beatdown, (after which Vince booked this match), then he hit him with D-Von's cash box, then he hit him with another chair.
So 363 days after Triple H tore his quad in a match against Jericho, they go into the Cell. It's Jericho's first Cell match, and H's third.
TNM Says: Chris Jericho (18:46 flying forearm --> pin) Triple H
What I'd Do: Borrow heavily from their LMS match at Fully Loaded 2000, only with Jericho winning.
What They'll Do: Borrow heavily from their LMS match at Fully Loaded 2000, complete with Triple H going over.
Undisputed, Unified World Title Match: Petrified Wood Hogan vs. Hell On Wheels
LAST TIME: "This is it. He knows it, I know it, you know it, the American people know it. And honestly, nobody knows how long the fans are going to stay interested in Hogan this time around, so since the investment in him's already been made, and he's experienced a sudden and unexpected burst of popularity (that on-screen, he had nothing to do with), might as well jump on the wave and ride it."
Well THAT wave sure died out. Have you seen the ratings? But I think Dave Meltzer said it the best way I've heard it: The Hogan decision was a major one, and I'd have made the same mistake, because I didn't think the end for him would come so quickly and so harshly.
Undertaker beat Austin at Backlash to earn the #1 Contender's spot and send smarky smark smarks back crying into their pillows. Since then, the build has been mostly vehicle-based, with Hogan running over Taker's old bike with a semi, and Taker dragging Hogan behind his new bike in retaliation. The old school among you remember that Hogan and UT traded title victories back in late 1991, which eventually led to Flair winning the vacated title at the 1992 Rumble. I don't know why I'm mentioning that; I just thought it was interesting.
TNM Says: Undertaker (4:42 Last Ride --> pin) Hulk Hogan
What I'd Do: UT wins, since this may be the only way he gets booed on a consistent basis.
What They'll Do: I'm pretty sure Undertaker's going to win here, and I'll be as surprised as anyone if Hogan's still champ after Raw.