The SmarK Rant for WWF Unforgiven 2001
“Paranoia may destroy ya.Ã¢â‚¬Â
– The Kinks.
– Okay, first things first, as TheSmarks.com has not, in fact, dropped off the face of the earth, but thanks to the new superstar virus Nimda, it may as well have. The webhost who handles our dedicated server got infected with it and they’re having a bitch of a time trying to get it cleaned off and restored. I maintain a full backup of the entire website on my own computer at all times, so it’s not like anything’s gonna get lost, but it’s a major pain in the Undertaker for everyone concerned at this point trying to get rid of this thing. So hang in there, true believers.
– Have I mentioned how awesome NHL 2002 is? Well, it is.
– Live from Pittsburgh, PA. Once again I’m reminded of Bret Hart’s famous speech on RAW in 1997, where he called Pittsburgh the city where you’d have to stick the nozzle if you wanted to give America an enema. He later wussed out and recanted that statement, but it’s fun to reminisce sometimes.
– Your hosts are JR & Paul E.
– Opening sportz entertainment exhibitional display, WWF tag titles: The Dudley Boyz v. The Hardy Boyz v. Storm & Hurricane v. Spike & Big Show. One of these things is not like the others. Big brawl to start, then Matt & Helms go. Hurricane does some poses, as even Ross has to begrudgingly admit he’s getting over. I’m glad to see Helms overcoming the goofy gimmick by letting his natural personality come through and get him over. If nothing else, that gives me some small hope for him. Matt does his own poses, but doesn’t look terribly heroic unless he’s gonna be Hurricane’s sidekick Yokelman. Hardyz double-team Hurricane for two. Bubba yanks Jeff out, but Jeff dropkicks Hurricane into Bubba and gets two. Spike comes in and gets killed by Storm. Hurricane misses an elbow and Spike clotheslines him, but Storm & Hurricane team up for a double-neckbreaker. Just a note: While others have stooped to making “Natural Disasters 2K1Ã¢â‚¬Â jokes about this team, I’d like to think my readership is above that sort of cheap humor. Of course, it’s rarely TRUE, but I’d still like to think it. Spike rolls up Storm for two, but gets dropkicked. Dudleyz give Spike a MONSTER flapjack, and Hurricane dons the CAPE OF DOOM and flies somewhat not unlike something that might resemble a distant relative of a bird and/or a plane, and hits a bodypress. Gutbuster gets two. Man, he defies the laws of gravity that have contrained man for centuries, and then follows it up with a mere gutbuster? Whatsupwitdat? Storm comes in and takes the Acid Drop, though, allowing Spike to make the hot tag to the Big Show. Monster pop, causing me to think they may have found a role for him. He cleans house, but everyone’s in and it’s BONZO GONZO. Hardyz hit topes onto the Dudleyz, then Show LAUNCHES Spike onto everyone on the floor and gets a huge pop. He flirts with going upstairs himself (which would make it a suicide dive in more than the usual sense of the word) but Bubba knocks him off. Hurricane comes back in to go for the finish with the chokeslam, but I guess Show has Kryptonite in his ass or something because Hurricane can’t get him in the air and poor Lance Storm gets chokeslammed and pinned at 6:52 as a result. I question jobbing the most over team in the match first, but maybe they’ll win it on RAW. Spike goes after D-Von and then gets a couple of near-falls on Matt before going quietly to the Twist of Fate at 7:57. So we’re down to the Hardyz v. Dudleyz. Again. One wonders why they didn’t just go that route in the first place. Poetry in Motion, but Jeff gets tripped up by Bubba and becomes YOUR fruit-in-peril. Bubba works on him and many beatings result. Jeff takes a sick backdrop bump and gets Wazzuped. D-Von hits the chinlock. Powerslam gets two. Jeff gets tossed and introduced to the stairs. Bubba yells “Get up, you punk!Ã¢â‚¬Â at him. Man, hasn’t this guy ever heard of positive reinforcement? You just threw him into the stairs, the least you can do is add a “pleaseÃ¢â‚¬Â there, you jerk. Back in, D-Von gets two and Bubba pounds away with elbows for two. Jeff gets a desperation corkscrew senton, hot tag Matt. Houses are cleaned, DDT gets two. Dudleyz get duped and Matt follows with a moonsault off the top onto them. Back in, yodelling legdrop on D-Von gets two. Twist of Fate is reversed to 3D, but Jeff breaks it up with the swanton. Bubba sneaks in with a Bubba Bomb, and D-Von gets the fluke pin at 14:22. Standard good z v. z match, but they can’t wrestle each other every night and it sure made the other teams look useless. ***1/4
– Raven v. Saturn. SMELL THE BUYRATE! Okay, that’s not fair to Raven because he’s been horribly misused ever since joining, but Saturn’s inexplicable push can only be explained by the booking team amusing themselves. Saturn attacks and gets a springboard dropkick. Raven bails and they brawl. Saturn meets the steps as JR & Paul have a surreal argument about who broke up the Flock and how JR didn’t watch Nitro in 1998. I never, ever, EVER thought I would hear this stuff on WWF TV. EVER. Raven bulldog gets two. Cobra clutch, of all moves, follows. Okay, it’s cool when Steve Austin does it because it used to be his finisher, but GEEZ. Saturn is dumped and Raven keeps knocking him down. But he gets up again, ain’t nothing gonna keep him down. Ahem. Back in, Raven blocks a sunset flip for two. Saturnkick and suplex set up a belly-to-belly and flying forearm for two. Blind misses but a rollup gets two. They go up, but Raven shoves him down and clotheslines him for two. Sunset flip gets two. Saturn with a catapult and Three-Handled Moss-Covered Family Gredunza finishes at 5:07. That noise you heard about then was 7,500 people coming back from the concession stand with nachos and going “Did I miss anything?Ã¢â‚¬Â in unison. That other sound you heard was the other half replying “No.Ã¢â‚¬Â Match was thoroughly okay, though. **
– Intercontinental title: Edge v. Christian. It’s so sad to see fellow Canadians fighting each other. Actually, it’s usually a good match, so scratch that. Christian has had his music tweaked already, producing a less Bohemian Rhapsody-ish sounding entrance as a result. Slugfest to start, as you might expect from two fake brothers fighting for the first time. You know what we need? Edge & Undertaker v. Christian & Kane, just for the ultimate in confusing non-relationships. Paul Bearer can referee and Gangrel can be guest timekeeper. Edge flapjacks him, but Christian ducks out of the DDT and they brawl up the rampway. Edge catapults him into the set and they head back in, where Christian eats some turnbuckle. Christian posts him and they brawl out again as Edge munches on stairs. Back in, Christian’s backbreaker thing gets two. He makes an odd choice, going for hairtosses on Edge to slow the pace, however. That move just doesn’t work unless it’s Bret Hart doing it to Shawn Michaels. Powerslam gets two, and Christian unleashes some CANADIAN VIOLENCE. Edge follows suit and he comes back with a side Canadian legsweep. He goes up and misses whatever, but lands on his feet (almost as though it was planned ) and gets a german suplex for two. Spear hits post instead of Christian, and Christian gets two. They slug away and meet in the middle on a crossbody attempt for a double-KO. Edge tosses Christian out of the corner to come back, and he utilizes the dreaded hairtosses himself. Jesus, I know they’re both lanky and blond, but this isn’t a women’s match. Edge knees out of a DDT attempt and reverses to the Edge-O-Matic for two. Edge gets dumped, but slips under the ring and reappears on the other side with a bodypress for two. Christian spears him for two and grabs a pair of chairs. Edge escapes the one-man conchairto by tripping Christian up, then goes for his own. But of course since he’s a babyface and the referee would be unable to live with himself allowing someone obviously so good and pure to voyage to the dark side over a mere secondary title, the ref grabs the chair from him and Christian goes low and gets the pin at 11:53 to win the IC title. Match was good, but not the MOTYC we’d been waiting for from them. I think Christian needs a valet. Is Billy Gunn busy? ***
– WCW tag title match: Undertaker & Kane v. >|ronik. Big brawl to start, with some punches even making contact! Adams takes a big boot and legdrop for two, brother. Elbow gets two for UT. Kane comes in with an elbow of his own for two. Adams comes back with a backbreaker and Clarke works on Kane with some big kicks. Somebody better tell him to stop showing effort or he might lose his job. They get two. Kane gets a neckbreaker, but misses a charge. He figures “What the hell, it’s only KronikÃ¢â‚¬Â and decides to ignore this potential point for selling, however, choosing instead to do the only logical alternative: Nothing. UT comes in and works the arm, as kind of a inside joke for those of us expecting an actual match or something. Well, that’s my theory, anyway. ROPEWALK OF DOOM follows. Kronik gets him in the corner and works him over with stuff one could laughingly refer to as “offenseÃ¢â‚¬Â if one was in a particularly generous mood and/or under the influence of some sort of alcoholic beverage. You know, I used to think that Ultimate Warrior would always hold the all-time record for blowing up in the first minute of the match, but Brian Adams appears to have broken that record by channelling all his conditioning programs into his hair. He might be dead by 0:30, but his hairstyle is ready to party even 40 minutes into the match! I wonder if he and HHH exchanged styling tips backstage? Adams gets a dropkick for two, but Taker no-sells (I’m as shocked as you) and slugs away. Nothing I can pick out makes contact. Adams no-sells Taker’s no-selling and they both hit the floor, perhaps due to some obscure law of physics in the “unstoppable force v. immovable forceÃ¢â‚¬Â area. I’ll have to ask Steven Hawking the next time I see him. The brawl out on the floor, no one sells anything. This is turning into a bizarre sort of battle of wills, I think. Either way, we all lose. Back in, Kronik gets a double-shoulderblock on Taker and Adams hits the chinlock. Well, of course, this wouldn’t be complete without someone taking a break from the non-stop action to rest, and god knows if I were betting beforehand I’d go with Undertaker and Adams being the ones involved. So, yeah, that lasts a while. Clarke comes in but Taker DDTs him, making his own comeback before tagging Kane. I’d call it the hot tag but that would require Taker to actually show some emotion or vulnerablility. I suppose if you count spitting his chewing tobacco in a particularly menacing fashion and wearing an evil-looking bandana, you could argue for Undertaker showing some personality depth, but I wouldn’t count them. Anyway, Kane comes in and JR decides to remind us that Kane is indeed a hoss, in case we had forgotten and needed the reassurance of knowing that. You’d have to think that unless being a hoss entitles you to a 15% discount at Home Depot or something, it’s not really a useful designation to give someone. “Sure, he’s one of the slowest human beings alive and hasn’t done anything more involved than a powerslam since 1999, but he’s damn sure a HOSS, BY GAWD.Ã¢â‚¬Â Kane cleans house on both Kroniks with a double-clothesline, and then just in case that house wasn’t clean already, UT comes in and cleans his yard with the same. That’s one clean house. He gets ready to finish Clarke, but Stevie comes in and gets killed. Kane gets the flying clothesline on Adams, and UT finally gets the elusive chokeslam on Clarke to finish at 10:21. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that Kronik is about to pull a Buff Bagwell and exeunt, stage left. The sad thing is that Undertaker is probably gonna walk around backstage telling everyone how all these WCW guys can’t work and are dragging him down. The only thing that disturbs me more than Undertaker systematically destroying the careers of every WCW guy to come through the promotion is the realization that we’re a mere three months or so away from sitting through UT & Kane v. The Outsiders at Royal Rumble, assuming there is a higher power and he is a sick and twisted individual with nothing but hatred for me. Oh, and one would have thought UT & Kane would sell for guys their size, and one would have been wrong. I’ve had migraine headaches that left me with a better sense of well-being than this match. DUD In the interest of leaving on an up-note, however, I would like to reinforce that Brian Adams has very well-maintained hair.
– Hardcore title: Rob Van Dam v. Chris Jericho. At this point I’d be willing to give ANYTHING **** compared to the tag match, so maybe this was strategic planning by the bookers. Crowd is MAJORLY torn. Gymnastics exhibition to start, crowd applauds on cue. They trade headlocks and fight over a backslide. Jericho with the Midcard Violence and they do a pinfall reversal sequence, albeit a bit sloppy. Rob does the thumb bit, pissing of Jericho, who takes him down and pounds him. Enzuigiri gets two. Rob gets a kick combo and takedown for two. Jericho flapjacks him, but the springboard misses and Jericho splats. RVD pescado gets two. Jericho eats post, but Rob misses the guillotine. Jericho goes for the hardware, finding a ladder. Back in, more chops, but Rob charges and hits the post. D’oh! Jericho sends him back for seconds, and brings the ladder in. Suplex on the ladder gets two. “How do you learn to fall kidney-first on a ladder?!Ã¢â‚¬Â JR rages to the critics. By landing on your feet, like they showed us on Tough Enough, Jim. I mean, given that there’s an entire show with the point being to completely expose the business that you hype incessantly every week, you’d think this indignant act about wrestling not being “fakeÃ¢â‚¬Â would be passe by now. Rob also adds a suplex on the ladder. Rob misses a rana and gets caught in the Walls, but powers out and hits a rolling splash for two. Twisty legdrop gets two. It’s refreshing to see Rob keeping what works in his arsenal (the legdrop, frog splash and Van Daminator) and eliminating what doesn’t work (everything else he’s ever done). That’s not sarcasm Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he’s my pick for Most Improved if he keeps this up. Jericho blocks the moonsault but misses the Lionsault. Rob gets a heel kick, but misses the frog splash. Rollup gets two for Jericho. Jericho charges with the ladder as though he were a PPV viewer who had just sat through 10 minutes of Kronik v. UT & Kane and Rob was the promoter, but Rob trips him up and Jericho meets the ladder facefirst. I felt the same way after watching the last match. Rob grabs a chair and slams Jericho on it, but he hotdogs on the ladder and gets hit in the face with a chair as a result. Jericho breaks out the Walls, ladder-style. Jericho dumps him from there and follows him down, but misses, getting a big helping of railing roast, with mashed railing potatoes on the side, railing gravy and Mom’s railing pot pie for dessert. Mm mm! Back in, but Rob knocks him to the floor again. Rob busts out a tope suicida, but Jericho looks suspiciously like a chair here, and Rob splats into it. Jericho covers for two. Jericho works the shoulder a bit more and they head back in. RVD gets a heel kick for two, reversed to an armbar by Jericho, and Rob makes the ropes. Nice move. Rob bails, but meets the stairs. Back in, Jericho pounds him with a chair and Steph bounces out to give us our daily allotment of milk. Chris takes a home run swing at her, but misses, Van Daminator, Five-Star Frog Splash, arrivederci at 16:33. Perhaps the double-turn will come on RAW. Match was a total show-stealer. ****
– WCW Title match: The Rock v. Booker T & Shane McMahon. I still don’t get the point of sticking Shane in there. Rock & Booker slug it out, and Rock lariats him. Neckbreaker gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. Shane comes in and runs away, but Rock cuts him off and pounds him. Cheapshot puts Rock down, and a Booker sideslam gets two. They work him over, but Shane gets suplexed in melodramatic fashion. He comes back with that dreaded Shane Shuffle, but gets Sharpshooted. Booker dumps him and Shane gets yet another cheapshot, and a clothesline off the railing for good measure. Back in, Rock gets posted and Booker gets two. Rock tosses him, but Shane then tosses Rock in turn. Rock & Book do some brawling, and The Book gets the best of that. Back in, the delayed kneedrop sets up the SPINAROONI, which again gets a scary heel pop. Rock, however, oblivious to the potential damaging nature of the Most Electrifying Move In Sportz Entertainment, rolls up Booker for two. Book tosses Rock again, and abuses the Spanish table. Shane sets up for the Suicide Elbow, but Rock moves before anything can happen. Back in, Rock gets the samoan drop, but Shane grabs the WCW title and hits Booker by mistake. Well, it’s officially a Shane-booked match now. He does manage to hit Rock eventually, and gets two. Shane goes up, but misses the elbow. Book & Rock slug it out, and Rock clotheslines both guys. DDT on Booker gets two. Shane nails him and goes for the McElbow, but Rock kips up and hits Rock Bottom. Spinebuster for Booker, but Test runs in and creams Rock, because I guess Rocky fending off only two guys and a crooked ref isn’t enough melodrama. Bradshaw chases off Test, yelling something about turning Toronto into a parking lot, I think, and they head into the audience. Nick Patrick hauls the fallen Rock in, but now Mike Ciota runs in to protest. He pulls Shane off at two, then Booker gets two. The refs brawl, Rock Bottom on Booker follows, and Earl Hebner runs in on the side of justice to make the pinfall at 15:24. WAY long and overbooked for what it was, which is namely an overhyped Smackdown main event. Booker is basically screwed at this point. **3/4
– US title match: Tajiri v. Rhyno. Speaking of Smackdown matches, I don’t know how smart it was to throw these two poor guys out there after the Rock. Rhyno pounds him to start, but gets tossed and quebrada’d. Back in, Tajri unleashes the sidekick and dropkick, but Rhyno hits the ribs and powerslams him for two. Tajiri rollup gets two, but Rhyno suplexes him for two. He hits the chinlock, but Tajiri gets a rana for two. Handspring elbow gets two, but he walks into a spinebuster for two. Rhyno works the ribs and then goes after Torrie, but Tajiri valiantly kicks him in the face to prevent the GOAR from hitting his girlfriend. Octopus leads into the Tarantula, but Rhyno can’t take it properly. Rhyno finishes with an exploder suplex and GOAR GOAR GOAR at 4:50 to win the title. Way to rebuild Tajiri after sacrificing him to Austin on Smackdown. *1/2
– WWF title match: Steve Austin v. Kurt Angle. Brawl outside to start, and Angle kicks ass. Into the ring, where they slug it out and Angle gets a Thesz Press, BY GAWD. Superplex attempt, but Angle changes his mind and just pounds away on Austin until he falls out of the ring. Back in, more Angle asskicking. Superplex, but Angle hurts his own neck and gets two. Austin grabs a sleeper, countered with a jawbreaker. Austin gets dumped and takes a walk, but Angle follows and continues kicking Rattlesnake ass. He tosses him off the stage, then dumps him back into the ring and posts him a couple of times and preps the mats at ringside for a piledriver. Austin cuts him off with a kneelift and tries that very tactic himself, but Angle backdrops out. So Angle tries it, same result. Well, geez, Austin just tried it a minute ago, you’d think he’d have paid attention. Austin blades somewhere here. Austin suplexes him onto the Spanish table, twice. It won’t break. Three times, still won’t break. Into the ring, they slug it out and Angle eats knee. Austin works the neck for a while. Angle misses a charge and Austin follows with a double axehandle for two. Austin hits the chinlock to burn some time. Angle rollup gets two. Austin reverses for two. Austin stays on the neck, but gets hit with the rolling germans. I miss Benoit. Angle hurts himself in the process, but goes up. He gets crotched and falls on Austin for two. Austin whiplashes him and goes low, and Angle bails. Back in, Angle returns the favor to the groin and a DDT sends Austin crashing out. Back in, Angle goes KICK WHAM STUNNER for two. Huh. Angle Slam is reversed to an Austin Slam for two. Piledriver looks to finish for Austin, but it only gets two. KICK WHAM but Angle reads my mind and grabs that there leg of Austin, twists him into the anklelock, and wins the WWF title at 23:54. It should be noted that Austin was under the ropes, however, so if they do a Dusty Finish and return the belt to Austin tonight ala Benoit v. Sid 2000, don’t be shocked. Psychology and storyline were there, but something was missing and it hurt the match a lot. ***1/2 All the babyfaces (and X-Pac) rush into the ring to celebrate, lending the match a really special quality.
The Bottom Line: Kronik and UT aside, all the matches were long and had clean finishes, so occasionally retarded booking aside, I don’t ask for much else in my PPVs. I still think they should turn Austin face again, but c’est la vie.