WWF in Baltimore
|Guest columnist: Dr. Tom
I went to the house show ("Road to WrestleMania") in Baltimore today. There were a good amount of empty seats early, but by the opening bell, it looked like a near-sellout. I'll preface the detailed report by saying that if every Raw and Smackdown were as good as this show was, I'd have far fewer complaints with WWF TV.
Hey, it's DA FINK! He has some trouble finding the mic at first, so some Event Staff guy points it out to him. Yep, this is a house show. They just don't lose the mic on TV, do they? Fink shills a bit for our sponsor, and then we're underway. Cue the PYRO! We spare no expense for these house shows in the WWF! I'm sorry, HOW much money did WCW lose last year? And we bought them? Uh . . . cancel all pyro at house shows.
LHW Title Match: CRASH NOT-HOLLY d. DEAN MALENKO. Both guys worked the arm a lot to start. This segued into some good mat wrestling. Dean kept working the arm and trying to keep Crash out of the air. Crash, to his credit, sold the arm throughout the match. As the match moved along, both men did some nice pinfall reversals. A double-knockdown spot kept the crowd into it. Dean went for the Cloverleaf, but Crash quickly scampered to the ropes, drawing some good laughs. Crash won by reversing a second Cloverleaf attempt into a small package. Dean drew some good heel heat for his usual solid heel work, and Crash got a nice pop.
JERRY LYNN (making his WWF debut) d. ESSA RIOS. Not much reaction for either guy as they came out, though Lynn got a few cheers from the ECW faithful by climbing the turnbuckles. Mat wrestling was the rule here again, as both guys did some good ground work. It looked like their timing was off a few times, nearly resulting in some blown spots. But it's Lynn's first match, so I'll forgive him some timing miscues he'll correct before he appears on TV. There were few highspots, the most notable one being a nice pescado by Rios. Lynn hit some stiff chops in the corner, sounding as loud as Benoit's. He also hit a nice German suplex with a bridge for 2, and Rios followed with a nice Northern Lights suplex for 2. I figured Lynn would win, but he obviously couldn't use the cradle piledriver as a finisher anymore. He won this match with a Tornado DDT. I'm hoping they'll give him something more distinctive to use as a finisher before his TV debut. Then again, Test wins by kicking people in the face. Anyway, Rios was the de facto face in this match, even though it was pretty devoid of heat. I think Lynn will debut on TV as a heel. His theme music might have been a Rob Zombie song; it wasn't loud enough for me to tell for certain.
Women's Title Match: IVORY (with WHITE SOCKS) d. MOLLY HOLLY. Molly's in it, so at least it's a watchable match. Actually, both these women can work pretty well, something the rest of the eye candy division can't claim. Molly controlled a good portion of the match, keeping Ivory on the mat. Ivory regained control with a hairmare (which doesn't look pleasant at all). Ivory sent Molly outside, where Richards briefly abused her before tossing her back in. Molly answered a minute later with a nice baseball slide on Richards. She did a sunset flip back in, but had trouble pulling Ivory over. Finally, Ivory fell to her knees atop Molly. Richards grabbed her arm and held her there for the pin. That good heel cheating drew some nice heat from the crowd. Crash came out after the match and punked out Steven.
BILLY BLOWUP d. VAL VENIS (with WHITE SOCKS, AGAIN). Gunn got a really nice pop when he came out. Obviously, Baltimore is a strong market for Metal and Jakked. Gunn started with some quick offense, meaning he'll need a breather in about three minutes. Brawling and a strong bodyslam put Val down. Gunn tossed Val outside and pressed him onto the barrier. Val did a good job of not making it obvious he was catching himself before impact on that one. Back in, they traded punches for a bit before Val gained control. Sure enough, he went to the sleeper, buying Gunn a chance to catch his breath. After about two minutes in a freaking resthold, he finally powered out. Gunn teased the Fame-asser, but Richards showed up on the apron and Rockabilly had to knock him off. After a jackhammer, Gunn won with the drop sleeper. This was watchable, which is high praise for me when it comes to a Gunn match.
Tag Title Match: THOZE DAMN DUDLEYZ (SANS SPIKE) d. BULL BUCHANAN AND GOODFATHER (WITH WHITE SOCKS, YET AGAIN) Richards is earning his pay tonight. Before the match, GF got on the mic and started talking about the past - coming to the ring with hos, rolling fatties . . . but stopped *just* before the "Pimpin' Ain't Easy!" chant could start. Richards had a fit over it in the ring. Bull then took the mic and said he looked at the hos and kinda missed having them around. Richards had a bigger fit, chided both men, and each offered a halfhearted, "Yeah, that was wrong." So the Dudleys came out, Bubba (Yeah, I know the WWF spells it differently, but their way is just plain dumb) got on the mic and said they have two hos and some fatties backstage just for the RTC boys (Bubba even calls GF "GODfather," and gets a good pop). All they have to do is come back into the ring and say yes. This causes GF to scramble under the bottom rope. Richards was barely able to restrain him. Funny stuff, played well by all involved, and the crowd ate it up. I was cracking up until I got elbowed hard in the shoulder. Usual back-and-forth brawling for these two teams. Bubba plays face in peril for a while, until we get a DDT and double knockdown. D'Von comes in and cleans house on Bull. Eventually, the match degenerates into a Pier Four. Goodfather gets tossed, Bubba slams Val, and then the Duds' formula takes over: what is up, my brother? - Testify dance - D'Von, please procure a table. Val punks out D'Von as he looks for the table, but the Duds regain control in the ring and win with a 3-D. Post-match, L'IL SPIKE joins the other Dudleys, and GF and Bull abandon Steven in the ring. He eats an Acid Drop from Spike to a nice pop. The RTC breakup is upon us, friends. With the (mostly) PG nature of WWF TV these days, I can't see the Godfather returning, at least not like he was.
Here there was an intermission, which I used to buy a "Deadman Inc" shirt. I would've bought a HHH shirt, but I guess all his shirts were in MA for the other house show. However, we got Rock and Austin merchandise, and neither of them were in Baltimore. Hmm . . . it's all a conspiracy against HHH, I tell you! He must be jobbing to UT at 'Mania!
THA GRANDMASTA AND STEVE BLACKMAN d. KAIENTAI. The imported team was listed as being 417 pounds combined. I've heard them listed as low as 388, and they're only 417 if you spot them a fifty-pound barbell. Blackman gives a dancing GMS the usual "What ARE you doing?" stares before the match. This was a great comedy match. TAKA and Funaki did the dubbing bit at the beginning, saying they were far sexier than GMS, and more lethal than Blackman. Why? Because they are EVIL. "In-DEED!" TAKA and Blackman started. TAKA would strike martial arts poses and kick Blackman in the backside. Unfazed, Blackman would return the favor, causing TAKA to howl in pain and hop around the ring. They did this three times. Very funny stuff, and Blackman is a perfect straightman for anyone with a zany gimmick. Kaientai also made fun of GMS' dancing at several points during the match. No high spots of note, as Blackman controlled TAKA and Funaki with a mix of martial arts kicks and power moves. GMS came in and hit his usual offense. Blackman held TAKA in a backbreaker as GMS went up and nailed the Hip-Hop Drop. A Blackman gourdbuster (been a while since I've seen one of them) ended it. Post-match, GMS got Blackman, Howard Finkel (!) and the referee (!!) to don the glasses and dance to Too Cool's lame new song. Fink and the ref had no rhythm, of course, while Blackman worked a split and some kicks into his otherwise pedestrian routine.
Euro Title Match: POP QUIZ d. EDDY GUERROIDO. Eddy came out to his older music, with "Mamacita!" still at the beginning. This was a long match punctuated by several restholds and general slow periods. When they picked the pace up, it was good. Test controlled early with power, and Eddy begged off. He left the ring and started walking away, so Test followed him and beat him up. In the ring, Eddy came back with a two-minute chinlock. A few minutes later, he held a sleeper at least that long. Like a good heel, he also put his feet on the ropes. Someone around me made the sissy cry of, "Hey, he's got his feet on the ropes! No fair!" Getting the little things right is obviously wasted on some. The ref missed Eddy's skullduggery the first time, but caught it the second time and kicked Eddy's legs away. Eddy got up and shoved the ref, who then shoved him down! Test rallied, hitting his usual power spots and slams. A corner charge resulted in a ref bump. Heh, a ref bump at a house show! Test nailed the full nelson slam, but there was no ref to count. While Test prodded the ref, Eddy grabbed the Euro belt and pasted him with it. He covered, and the ref gt back up, but test kicked out just shy of 3. Eddy missed a frog splash, and Test hit the Big Boot That Isn't Nearly So Devastating For Anyone Else for the win. Seriously, how come he kills people with the move, but guys like Kane and Undertaker use the same move with much less spectacular results? I guess they put lead in their boots up in Canada, eh?
Main Event: THE BROTHERS OF FIRE d. YOUR OLYMPIC ANKLE-BREAKER and THE BIG SLOW. Mucho stalling to start as Angle fled the ring five times before finally staying in against UT. This wasted at least five minutes and pissed the crowd off. UT even got down in an Olympic wrestling pose once; Angle got into the ring, then bailed in a hurry when UT sprang to his feet. Finally, Slow sneaked (OK, as well as someone so immense can sneak . . .) in and punked out UT from behind, allowing Angle to take the early advantage. Taker came back with soupbones galore. He worked the arm for a while, and the crowd started asking for "Old School!" So UT obliged, nailing Angle with the ropewalk. Yeah, I know the victim helps hold him up, but that's still a neat-looking spot. Angle tagged in Slow, and the crowd collectively went to sleep. I awoke to see Kane coming in. Kane again tried to slam Slow, and again failed. Might he succeed at 'Mania? He and UT did get the bug lug up and over with a tandem suplex, though. UT hit a nice tilt-a-whirl slam on Angle, and a Bulldog-esque powerslam. It turned into a brawl then, with all four men in the ring going at it. Kane and UT dumped Slow, and Kane went out to keep him occupied. In the ring, UT hit a kinda weak-looking chokeslam on Angle for the pin. The match was decent when it was UT and Angle in the ring, not so good any other time. Angle was made to look like a complete jobber and coward, totally incongruous (well, the jobber part's sorta true) with how he's been portrayed on TV. I know he's selectively brave, but he acted like a chickenshit early in the match. After the match, Kane and UT did a tandem chokeslam on Slow, and the Baltimore Arena shook in protest.
All in all, it was a solid show. Every match was at least watchable, and some were quite good. The main event was subpar as main events go, though. This certainly wasn't helped by the fact that only one of the four guys in the match is a good worker. There was a house show in Massachusetts also, and their main was HHH-Austin. That would have made this an excellent show. I also feel that making Angle look like a cowardly jobber at house shows doesn't go well with the way the same people will see him on TV. He's supposed to be intense, he's supposed to be a champion, he's supposed to be fierce enough to break people's ankles. Then he spends five minutes running away from the Undertaker. Oh well. I can't complain much about a good afternoon of wrestling. Thumbs up.