It's me. It's me. It's that D-O-double-G. Rolling once again with the XtothePtotheAtotheC and the green goddess Tori. Something something two tears in a bucket, we got two words for ya:
I used to write here on a weekly basis and then I stopped. I can distinctly recall the moment I lost it. It was January 7 and I was writing about the big MSG show with Triple H's return, and I was thinking about the Beautiful Day song in the Desire video, and I was trying to find something funny to say about "See Chris Kanyon broken by clouds," but there is no joke there, it's just the word "canyon" in a song, like "the one-eyed Undertaker" in "Shelter from the Storm." Plus it just got too depressing to write about WWF's post-WrestleMania mistakes on a weekly basis, although that was before the bottom dropped out this month and almost everyone reached a consensus on that. So I had to stop. But Jake is great and Stephanie it would be an honor to fill in for him. I spent a whole two months not lamenting WWF mistakes in this space, so I should be able to muster up enough gaysto to pull it off one more time.
Six months ago, I introduced myself here by saying "do you actually realize we're only six months removed from the biggest wrestling show of all time and the best year, in terms of quality and business, in WWF history?" Well that year just keeps getting farther and farther away, as we are now one whole year removed from the biggest and best show in the history of the industry, the show that ended the wrestling boom and the wrestling war, the show that ended with the beginning of the mistakes and creative chaos that made all of the WWF's high numbers in money-giving categories get smaller. In the sincetime, and this is my favorite list to make, the WWF has messed up Steve Austin's heel turn, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit's main event push, Shane McMahon's WCW invasion, Steve Austin's second heel turn, the WCW/ECW Alliance, Super Good Guy Kurt Angle, the Rock's return, the Edge and Christian breakup, Rob Van Dam's popularity, the Hardy Boys breakup, Chris Jericho's WWF Title "push," Triple H's return, and the nWo invasion. All in a year's work! As consolation prizes, we got the 5/21 tag match in San Jose, the Austin and Angle skits, the ECW reunion, the return of the Old Stone Cold, Austin vs. Angle at SummerSlam, Milkamania, Rock vs. Jericho at No Mercy, Austin and Rock singing, Ric Flair as co-owner, and the Desire: History of the WWF video. Wonderful, wonderful things, but they all turned out to be aberrations or meaningless in the long run, and it hurts me so bad, it really pains me because they're capable of so much more and they just don't bother. It's very sad. It makes me very upset to think about. But twelve months removed from WrestleMania X-Seven takes us right into WrestleMania X-Eight, and they did have this show on Sunday night, and I would feel privileged to tell you what happened, or, rather, what I thought about what happened.
The big story was the Hulk Hogan vs. Rock match that totally exceeded expectations and featured a bafflingly startlingly wrong crowd reaction. Dude, what was up with that? I understand that Hulk Hogan is a legend who's built up tons of goodwill and that a scant few are familiar with his evil politics of prancing, but don't fucking take it out on the Rock aka the world's coolest guy. The match itself was off the charts in terms of entertainment and extremely well-booked -- WO.com has a poll up that asks Did Hogan *really* put Rock over?, and the answer to this question is yes in that Hogan did a totally clean job to Rocky, but what I think they're really getting at is let's not kid ourselves into thinking Hogan did Rock this big favor by lying down for him. Hogan benefited from this match way more than the Rock did. The Rock is going to continue to be the Great One, same as he ever was, but Hogan has rejuvenated his career for the second time in six years with this match and the crowd response, and it looks like he's about to parlay or should I say pargay it into an extended face run at the top of the card, and God only knows how long its legs are going to be. (Bear in mind that pops don't translate to money, so we'll see if post-Mania Hulk means more to ratings than negligible nWo Hulk did.)
Anyhizzity, I would give this show a thumbs up based on the momentousness of the Rock/Hogan match, the goodness of the Flair/Undertaker match, the solidness of most of the other matches, the big show atmosphere, and the exceeding of extremely low expectations. I watched the pagar-por-vista with a trio of uninformed LOSER MARKS and we enjoyed ourselves. Allow me to introduce them:
The Casual Fan: He has watched wrestling off and on for a long time and catches the occasional episode of Raw.
The Jaded ... Mark?: He thinks everything in wrestling was better when he was growing up and doesn't watch anymore.
The Girl: She's a pretty girl. She never watches wrestling but she doesn't hate it.
All three of them gave the show positive reviews, which I think speaks to the WWF's success in getting the WrestleMania brand over and making it a real big league production; all three also really liked Hogan vs. Rock. I just wonder how they would've taken to last year's awesome show.
A. The A is for heAt. Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Albert beat Mr. Perfect, Lance Storm, and Test. This was good for what it was which was a perfunctory and the Rock means perfunctory fake match on HeAt that gets these guys on the show. I loves me some dancing but the concept was killed off, sadly, with the Rikishi turn and the Too Cool music switch to "Turn It Up (Banging It Banging It Banging It Banging It)." Rikishi sat on Hennig after he got a towel stuck in his ass. Yeah he did.
Saliva played the Canadian national anthem, "Superstar." It can't lace My Way's boots.
1. Rob Van Dam pinned William Regal with the 5-star frog splash to win the Intercontinental Title. I'm no big believer in the line of thinking that calls every month's Regal match a clash of styles, but I was definitely expecting one here. Instead, there was a remarkable style merge and they had a good match. The match ended way too soon (for the second year, second opening Regal IC title match in a row), it was just getting real nice.
2. Diamond Dallas Page pinned Christian with the Diamond Cutter to retain the European Title. Another good match cut short at the six-minute mark. I really love Christian and was hoping that he would be reuniting with Edge here in Toronto. At the very least, I was hoping he'd, oh, win.
"What up, G?"
3. Spike Dudley pinned Maven to win the Hardcore Title. Maven vs. Goldust was the original match. Maven vs. Al Snow, a throwaway match on Raw the next night, seemed like a far more interesting one. The shovel spot was cool but poor Maven missed his cool dropkick by a mile.
Drowning Pool performed "Tear Away" to explain the story of the WWF Title match. And that really cleared things up, thanks. Hints from Heloise: You can fit American Badass, Rollin, My Way, What You Lookin' At?, Fight Song, Bodies, Beautiful People, Never Gonna Stop, Click Click Boom, My Sacrifice, Control, Sinner, Beautiful Day, Cocky, Lonely Road of Faith, Feels So Numb, Tear Away, Alive, and Superstar on one smorgasbord of an 80-minute CD. It's got everything -- mainstream hits (U2), weird devil music (Marilyn Manson), uplifting God rock (POD), Kid Rock the hardass (American Badass), Kid Rock the softass (Lonely Road of Faith), dealing with the X-Factor (Uncle Cracker), rockers, hip-hoppers, and everybody all around the world. I play this CD in my car and all my friends say "Hey, most of this sucks really bad" but true as that might be, it's still awesome!
Hurricane won the Hardcore Title from Spike backstage in a very funny moment. Also funny was Al Snow and Teddy Long on the golf cart. It was nice to see Crash and Spike and Helms get on the show (poor Tajiri!) but it would've been nicer to see an actual Tajiri vs. Helms match.
4. Kurt Angle pinned Kane while trying to cheat. Poor Kurt Angle, the most over heel and most talented wrestler in the company and he's wasted in a meaningless match fourth from the bottom. The match was decent although Angle didn't carry him up to the level of their last two TV matches.
Godfather's hos talked about their boobs and Helms had a fake broom erection in the lamest segment of the night like when Grandmaster Sexay walked in on Steve Blackman and Trish Stratus behind that same thing.
5. The Undertaker pinned Ric Flair with a Tombstone. I must say this match was pretty great. It was the only one with blood or should I say juice. Flair is your real Babe Ruth of Wrestling. Arn Anderson ran in to hit an extremely well-timed and awesome SPINE ON THE PINE, but the finish was rather goofy in that Taker singlehandedly killed everyone.
6. Edge pinned Booker T with the Edge-a-DDT in another six minute match. This was okay. Poor Edge was supposed to get his big IC Title win here but then didn't.
Mighty Molly won the Hardcore Title from the Hurri-perv.
7. Stone Cold Steve Austin pinned Scott Hall with a couple of Stunners. Poor Steve Austin, the #1 star in the company and the MVP for the year, is third from the figurative top and five from the literal top, wasted in a crap match against crap Scott Hall. Steve Austin takes a lot of pride in his work but he really didn't seem to be in any mood to carry Hall to a great WrestleMania match. Nash dropping the elbow on the ref was somewhat funny. Kick Wham Stunner just like all the rest. According to the Torch, this was supposed to end with NWO interference costing Austin the match but Austin put the kibosh on that because he's been wasted enough already.
8. Billy and Chuck won a crap four-way over the Hardy Boys, Dudley Boys, and APA. This was boring, although it did pick up the pace after the heat segment on Jeff. I was pulling for the Hardys.
Christian slammed a door in Molly's face to win the Hardcore Title.
9. The Rock pinned Hulk Hogan after two Rock Bottoms and the People's Elbow. This match was a real rollercoaster ride. The crowd reaction made me want to die -- this would be pretty great if it was the Hulkster's tearful WrestleMania farewell, but when you step back to look at the bigger picture and see the months ahead with a Hogan run as one of the top babyfaces, it's pretty scary. This was laid out very nicely and Rock and the crowd carried Hogan to a really entertaining match. Yeah I went bonkos when Hogan hulked up. Hogan's offense was abysmal and the match was a little sloppy, but this match was really one for the ages.
10. Jazz pinned Lita with a superfisherman'sbuster to retain the Women's Title over Trish. It made no sense whatsoever to not give Trish the big win here. I was actually rather disgusted.
Maven snatched the Hardcore Title from Christian in the parking lot around the stars. Drowning Pool played their awful version of Hunter's theme to complete the live performance overkill.
11. Triple H pedigreed Stephanie McMahon to win the Undisputed Title. This was decent; technically the best match on the show but there was no heat whatsoever because the crowd was emotionally spent from Rock/Hogan. And because Jericho was buried as champion. And because the build-up really harmed the match. Disappointing. Poor Jericho. :(
So thumbs up for WM, but there's quite a bit I would've done differently (even without blowing up the whole card to build it around the Rock/Austin title unification match). First, get Austin and Angle away from Kane and Hall and put them in a long awesome gimmick blowoff. Second, move Hunter/Jericho to second from the top behind Rock/Hogan. Third, give Edge his IC Title win over Regal -- not that Van Dam doesn't deserve it and not that Edge/Regal wasn't boring, but if they spent three months leading up to it, they should've followed through. Fourth, put Trish over for the Women's Title. Fifth ... do meaningful stuff to better utilize the rest of the roster? Okay, thanks.
MOJO JUSTIN RAW STREAM OF MESSAGE BOARD POSTS REPORT:
Raw is Raw was a pretty good show almost ruined by the lame finish in the main event and marred by the inexplicably retarded absence of Steve Austin. This Hogan egofest and Rock-hating stuff is killing me softly but the opening interview was very entertaining. And also, the split that was originally scheduled for July 30 and then postponed to the fall and then postponed to January 7, here it is! Brock Lesnar getting pushed like a monster right away *and* Heyman being used as a heel manager? Somebody's been reading the Observer!!! (I have) William Regal was the most entertaining performer on the show tonight. The Dudleys putting Stacey through a table was creepy and mean and not at all the Dudleys putting Stacey through a table face turn that I have been occasionally suggesting since December. According to Bruce Mitchell, Stace is going off to get boobs. No Austin, Jericho, or Undertaker on the post-WrestleMania Raw but here's Stephanie to cut one more promo before she's retired. At least I hope she'll be retired -- the segment because it felt like one of those "WWF acknowledges on TV something everyone hates" deals like Mick Foley did in November. Or maybe it's a swerve for Hunter and Steph to reunite and join the nWo, yikes. The finish to the main event tag was so totally Nitro, as was the crapluster match, and I was expecting to Austin to come at Hall and Nash from behind and do something hideous like drink beer with Hogan, but he never showed and I kiddingly wondered if he quit the company.
Then, bite my tongue, I read on the Torch website (and finally on the Observer website, silent about WrestleMania for three days thanks to Dave's Detroit excursion) that Austin went home after Mania to skip TV this week. Sigh.
Nothing really worth reporting except some funny stuff from *last* week's Wrestling Observer Newsletter:
Eric Bischoff and Juventud Guerrera had a confrontation at the WWA PPV. Guerrera approached Bischoff, saying "How's it going, boss?" and Bischoff responded with "Weren't you one of the guys who signed that petition to get me fired?" Guerrera's response to that was "But I'm still real, and I'm still the Juice."
I love you, Juvy. Also, WWA promoter Andrew McManus was watching the 2/21 Smackdown and after he heard Christian say that he was quitting, he immediately wanted to contact him for the next tour. Silly.
STUFF JAKE PROBABLY "SEZ":
"I'm having a wonderful time on spring break and I'll be back next week, y'all."
"CLOSING OF THE WEEK":
Well I had a blast filling in, sort of, and I'd be more than happy to do it again so long as it's rarely! Because I am just no good at these.
Ta-ta, my little hellcats.