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Matt Spaulding



Shameless Self-Indulgence

I GOTTA SAY THIS: About the Yokozuna thing which Our Gracious Host called us out on last week: Since (apparently) so many people *think* he was billed/pushed as being from Japan, even though he wasn't, couldn't Rikishi twist the logic there and still use him as a "valid" example to support his argument?

Of course, it'd be easier to just say that Yoko, while a two(?)-time champion, was NEVER the "top guy" in the sense that Austin, Hogan, etc. were if you wanted to play it that way.

OWF UPDATE: Why, yes, I DID job like an X-Pac opponent. Went through a six-table pyramid to do it, too.

LINE OF THE WEEK: Chris Benoit: "Would you rather be 'that damn good' or be the BEST technical wrestler in the world today?!" (Raw, Oct. 15) TESTIFY!

And was I the only one who wanted to strangle JR when he tried to sell HHH as Benoit's technical equal? Nigga, PLEASE.

Nobody noticed this (and in retrospect, there's probably a reason for that), but we celebrated an anniversary a few weeks ago.

The one-year anniversary of the infamous "This Is Your Life" segment.

What I always found odd about this segment was that it was around this time that Vince Russo was starting to get a LOT of attention from the Internet wrestling press, getting (manufacturing?) a reputation as the man behind the creative turnaround of the WWF. Ah, if we only knew then... should this have been our first clue?

LIVE from CRZ's Raw report from the Greensboro Coliseum on September 27, 1999...

"MANKIND is out with balloons, presents, and a "THIS IS YOUR LIFE" book. Whose birthday is it? It ain't Mick's...his is the same as mine, 7 June!"

"Hello Greensboro...I guess probably a lot of you watched the show last night - maybe some of you saw that I stuck Mr. Socko in the Rock's mouth - hey, I know what I did and I've got to live with it - so I stayed up all last night thinking of a way to make it up to the Rock and I've got it right here. So after a lot of soul searching I'd like to say that at least in my heart the Rock and Sock Connection lives on.

Mick calls out the Rock to what was then his new music.

"Rock wants to know what Mankind wants - Mankind says that "this IS your life!" There's a bit of pyro and a jaunty theme - confetti and balloons fall from the sky.

Balloons - ALWAYS a bad sign.

""Rock, let me ask you this - does Mankind know how to throw a little pardukey or what? While all these people pop these balloons, I want you to listen real close and tell we look into the pages of yesteryear, do you remember this voice?"

"Duane? Would you like to answer that important question?"

"That's right, Rock, Mankind has pulled out all the stops and he has brought to you your sixth grade home economics teacher MRS. BETTY GRIFFITH...largely acknowledged as the women who taught the Rock his wit and wisdom, as your home economics teacher Mrs. Griffith may have very well been the first one who truly smelled what the Rock was cooking!"

"Sure the Rock remembers you, sixth grade, home ec class, right. Do you remember how all year long the only thing the Rock wanted to do in your class was make pancakes? And you never let the Rock make his pancakes, did you. You wanted the Rock to make chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins! But never pancakes.

"And then right before summer vacation you said 'hey Rock, tomorrow I got a nice surprise, because I'm gonna let you FINALLY make your pancakes.' And then the next day you came to the Rock, and you said 'Rock, unfortunately I'm all out of Aunt Jemima.'

"Well, that's OK, the Rock says this - you still like to cook? You still like to bake bread? You *know your rolls*, right? Well then the Rock says this - you should know your role and shut your mouth - take a little walk down Know-Your-Role Blvd., hang that right on Jabrone Drive, and then proceed to check your Aunt Jemima, no-pancake-havin' ass...direckely into the Smack Down hotel!"

Well, at least we know how this is going to go...

""All right, Johnson, hit the ground and let me see ya do me twenty!"

"The second guest is COACH EVERETT HART from the Freedom High School Warriors, coming out to Lex Luger's "I'll Be Your Hero." Lawler: "This is television at its best!" I'm turning on this segment, myself.

"Of course, Rock has a tale of woe for THIS guy as well - apparently the Coach made him run sprints when Rock decided to hot dog it instead of show good sportsmanship. Rock says he'd like to take his whistle, shine it up real nice, turn that sumbitch sideways, and... God this segment is taking FOREVER. That's Strike Two, says Rock.

"Mankind has another guest - coming out to the Narcissist's theme (is this Lex Luger night?) is Rock's high school sweetheart JOANNE EMBRIANNE (YOU figure out the spelling)." Third verse, same as the first.

"Then Rock tells her to "poontang your ass outta here." Can we GET TO THE PUNCHLINE already?"

THAT should have been the punchline, as this was the funny moment of this segment. From here, things go downhill DAMN fast...

"Mankind tries to apologize - he didn't think things would turn out this way.

""I didn't know your home economics teacher was going to be a bitch - I had no way of knowing that your football coach would be such a jerk - and I had no way of knowing your old girlfriend was such a complete skank. I just wanna make this night special, and dammit, it's gonna be, because we are going to open up the People's presents!"

We then got the debut of the matching Rock-N-Sock team jackets, as well as Mr. Rocko, the sock puppet cousin of Mr. Socko who would go on to be stuffed in Val Venis's pants more times than I am comfortable with thinking about. Then Yurple showed up.

"Ross: "I'm beggin' for a Rock Bottom.""

You have NO IDEA. And how funny WOULD that have been at this point? That might have saved the segment.

Yurple then leads the crowd in "Happy Birthday." The crowd CANNOT sing.

"And now TRIPLE H is out, swinging the sledgehammer, and missing, but FINALLY helping signal an end to this segment from hell. Everybody scatters. H squashes some balloons and chews gum menacingly. Hey Triple H, come out about fifteen minutes earlier and you'd be my new favourite wrestler.

"This segment DESERVES to lose if there's anything resembling wrestling at ALL on Nitro. Of course, it'll probably just double up on the competition. Sigh."

The final tally? 8.4 to 1.6. Some quick math says that it did more than FIVE TIMES the rating of the opposing Nitro segment.

The competition on Nitro? Torrie Wilson blowing off David Flair, parking garage hijinx with Sid, and the beginning of a Saturn-Konnan match that ended in a DQ after nine minutes plus. Dave and Sid are PROVEN ratings killers, but this was ridiculous.

Now for the breakdown. This thing went at LEAST 15 minutes too long. And in retrospect, it didn't do much to advance the Rock-Mankind storyline, other than to say that Mick was sorry he put the Mandible Claw on the Rock at Unforgiven, but the title was on the line, you see. Triple H's run-in didn't establish anything - the Rock/HHH title match had already been made at the beginning of the show. So what was the point of this? For Russo to put himself over?

Apparently, because the following week, Russo had left the WWF to take over the creative direction of WCW. We all assumed that he'd written everything leading up to No Mercy, and that the WWF would be using his scripts at least through that show. So we got ANOTHER Mankind-Rock segment.

This one started with Mankind shilling his appearance on "G vs. E" (whatever happened to that show, anyway?), then bringing the Rock out. Once again, we turn to CRZ's Raw recap:

"Last week, you brought the Rock out, you brought out his coach, you brought out his teacher, and you brought out a girl who cut The Rock off at second base, and now you lost Rocko and you even lost the Rock's jacket? And now you wanna break up the Rock & Sock Connection? Well let the Rock make one thing perfectly clear - he never WANTED the Rock--"

"Hold on, wait a minute - I know you never wanted the Rock & Sock Connection to break up - which is why I'm here. You see after we spoke I had a little heart-to-heart with myself, I did some deep thinking, I did some serious soul searching, and I looked at the Man in the Mirror, and do you know what I saw?"

"Rock says 280 pounds of monkey crap. Mankind says he's made a decision - to rededicate his life and career to their tag team."

At this point we saw Rock visibly upset by this, but trying to hide it - a marked improvement from last week, when it was obvious he was just going with it throughout the skit. Mankind's misunderstandings continue unabated.

"Mankind says he doesn't want them to end up like the Funks, Briscos (cue car repair shop plug), "I don't wanna end up Skip & Zip - I know you don't wanna end up like Zip, and I sure as hell don't wanna end up like Skip! All I'm saying is I want us to be kinda like - the three Musketeers! All for one, and, by golly, one for all!""

"This leads into a familiar spiel about what Rock might do with a sword - but just before he sticks it straight up their candyass, the Y2J countdown starts! I have been SAVED from this segment by CHRIS MONDAY JERICHO!"

Could this be... LEADING to something? That's ALREADY more than we can say for the previous week's segment.

""Welcome to RAW is JERICHO!" CURTIS HUGHES stands nearby. "You know, I was standing backstage listening to this ridiculously unfunny, unentertaining display between you two idiots - and I came to one conclusion. Rock, maybe you should accept the marriage proposal of this retard - I mean, I think that you would be perfect as the woman in a male and male relationship. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)"

Jericho speaks for all the smarks who ripped the previous week's segment, who all wet themselves with glee like they always do whenever Jericho does something. It should also be noted that Jericho was still trying to get over as a heel at this point. This helped.

After a delay because of a fan jumping into the ring, Rock responded in typical Rock fashion, throwing in a reference to a title vs. mask match Jericho had with "some jabroni named... Juventud", and remembering that Jericho had interrupted him once before.

"Now seeing as you did something you just shouldn't have done and that's piss The Rock off, The Rock wasn't planning on doing anything tonight, but tonight...tonight The Rock's got a little gift for you - tonight, little jabrone, you can come to The Rock's ring - better yet you WILL come to The Rock's ring and go one on one with the great one!

We've got a MATCH out of this!

"Another twenty minutes of my life I'll never get back - but at least it was better than LAST week! Still, if the ratings were to not spike like last week, so as to give the impression that maybe we're not interested in sitting through this EVERY week...I'd be up for that."

They didn't "spike" per se - over two quarter hours, the numbers were 5.9 to 2.5 and 6.1 to 2.8. The competition this time around? Bret Hart vs. Chris Benoit in Kansas City. You may remember the circumstances.

This segment WAS better. It was shorter (by about 10 minutes), tighter (everything flowed better, and it seemed to have a point, at least), it got things over (Rock's reluctant partnership with Mankind, and Jericho's cocky heel persona) and it actually set up something (the Rock-Jericho main event - Jericho's first-ever Big Two TV main event, I might add), instead of seeming like an excuse for Russo and Co. to stroke their writing abilities. Methinks some editing was done that afternoon.

This is what sold WCW on Vince Russo... the ability to bring the WWF formula to WCW. On the April 10 Nitro, Russo promised to "beat Vince McMahon at his own game."

Ironic that as I finally get around to writing this particular column, the game might soon be over.


This is the card that was posted on the Torch website, since I've been gone for the past couple of days and haven't had time to research it fully. Expect me to bomb this completely. Hell, this may not even be accurate.

Now, I'm not sure of the order, but I'd put the last three matches in the order I have them in here, and you'll see why as you read on...

European Title Match: William (?) Regal vs. Ugly Naked Guy

Steven Regal's back! He's calling himself William, and he's a Goodwill Ambassador from England to the WWF - even though he's a heel. Fed up with Al Snow's comedic representations of European countries (and Hong Kong), Regal attacked Snow and won the Euro belt on Raw.

Mideon IS a former European Champion, you know.

What I'd Do: Regal sees Mideon, makes several comical facial expressions, and runs away, losing by countout but retaining.

What They'll Do: While that's actually not a bad idea, I think they'll go through with this, and I think Regal will retain.

Tag Team Tables Invitational: The Dudley Boyeeez vs. Val Venis & Goodfather vs. Too Cool vs. The Comedic Wrecking Machine & Poor, Poor Me vs. Lo-Down

Rules? What the hell are the rules? I'm assuming it's Table Match rules. Is there anything on the line here?

What I'd Do: Raven & Tazz beat the Dudleys to end the match.

What They'll Do: Val and Goodfather don't fit here. They go early, and Raven & Tazz win, although it wouldn't surprise me to see Lo-Down go over. We see the other four teams match up at Survivor Series.

T&A & Twitch Stratus vs. Just Send Beer Money & Lita

It started with a poker game between T&A and the Acolytes that ended up making horny fanboys everywhere explode when Trish came into, er, play. It escalated on SmackDown! when Trish's boys attacked Lita while she fought Trish for the Women's title. The Acolytes came to beat up the young lions and help out Lita, since the Hardys were incapacitated.

What I'd Do: Two power teams and two power hotties. I give the edge to... T&A.

What They'll Do: Well, the Acolytes always job on PPV's. Lita gets the last word, though.

Chyna & Cosmo Kramer, The Ass Man vs. Steven Richards & Bull Buchanan

In yet another match set up this week, the WWF covered for Eddie Guerrero's hamstring injury by fabricating this tag match to get Gunn back in action.

Right To Censor has targeted Chyna since the Playboy spread came out. Gunn fits in here due to his friendship with Chyna, and since he would have been going after Eddie, he's been redirected to deal with these guys

What I'd Do: Since RTC doesn't job on PPV, I'd put Chyna and Gunn over.

What They'll Do: RTC wins when Eddie interferes, furthering the Guerrero-Gunn feud.

Tag Team Title Match: The Suicide Bombers vs. The Putty Patrollers

Someone remarked that Los Conquistadors resembled the original Power Ranger villains. JR and Michael Cole think they're Edge and Christian in disguise, trying to get their tag titles back from the Hardyz. But we've seen E&C and these guys together... what's the deal?

For half a second, I thought these guys were the Dupps.

What I'd Do: Hardys retain. They attempt to unmask the Gold Guys. Hijinx ensue.

What They'll Do: I'll say the Hardys win, but something odd happens.

Cage Match: Chris Jericho vs. The Ladies Love to Hate X-Pac

We're still doing this?

What I'd Do: Please, PLEASE, let Jericho win again.

What They'll Do: How likely do YOU think it is that Jericho goes over again? Yeah, me too. X-Pac wins.

No Holds Barred: Good Old What's-His-Name vs. The Samoan Freedom Fighter

Unless you've been DEAD for the past two weeks (and if you HAVE, why the HELL are you reading THIS?), I shouldn't have to say a word about this.

What I'd Do: I wonder out loud if we should end the Austin-Rikishi portion of this angle so soon. I'd probably have Rikishi take everything Austin can dish out, but a slip-up gives Austin an opening where he could conceivably kill him. In comes the Rock to try to stop Austin from "doing something that he'll regret for the rest of his life," and Rikishi takes advantage of the distraction to beat Austin.

What They'll Do: Steve's right. There won't be any armdrags, any dropkicks, any of "that lucha libre crap." (Austin knows lucha? Well, he is from Texas.) This'll be nothing but a fight, but a good fight, since Austin's probably one of the all-time great brawlers. Still, I can't shake the feeling that Rikishi might just be a pawn in this game, so I think Austin will win.

Da Crip vs. Fabio On Crack

Chris Benoit's a bad, bad man, yo. Even though I was cheering like an idiot when he head-butted Stephanie the night after Unforgiven, Triple H hasn't taken as kindly to his actions, which include costing him the No. 1 Contender's spot to Kurt Angle. Hey, they gave your ass a JOB, Chris. You need to show them RESPECT.

What I'd Do: Benoit puts a hurting on the Game.

What They'll Do: Eh, Hunter will probably win this one, too. Yawn. Next.

WWF Title Match: Our Champion vs. Olympic Villain Kurt Angle (w/The Corporate Bitch).

As mentioned above, Angle beat HHH with Benoit's inadvertent help to earn a shot at the Rock and the big prize. Now Stephanie has offered her, ahem, "services" to Angle at ringside, mainly to spite Triple H, who called her a "liability" when she's out there with him - and especially when she wears that ponytail. And since that arrangement started, Angle's gotten the pin in his last three matches.

I STILL say this should have been the Unforgiven title match.

What I'd Do: Austin runs in, stuns Rock (as revenge for costing him the Rikishi match earlier, and turning heel in the process), Angle covers to win the title. Kurt and Steph swap spit in ring afterwards. Things get a LOT more interesting.

What They'll Do: Angle wins due to... Stephanie interference. They swap spit in the ring afterwards. Things get a LOT more interesting.

Small Packages:

  • Thunder. It kills recappers. E.C. Ostermeyer. He kills shows. I assume this is Last Man Standing rules.

  • Juventud Guerrera. Fired for something that Scott Hall probably did three years ago.

  • Scott Hall. Fired because Juventud Guerrera did something that he probably did three years ago.

  • Hey, if they're taping Thunder right after Nitro... aren't the wrestlers gonna be tired?

  • And who's gonna stay to watch?

  • ECW had scheduled a show in Camden, NJ, across the river from Philadelphia. It's been canceled. This company's in the shitter, people.

  • Do people actually LIKE tag team battle royals?

  • I'll take E.C. and... five months.

    Matt Spaulding

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    Guest column text copyright (C) 2000 by the individual author and used with permission