The Mean 10.29.02: WWE Rebellion…Live

WWE Rebellion 2002 Live Report

By Ben Morse & Adam Todd

This was the first time either one of us had seen wrestling outside of WWE.com still photos since coming to England nearly two months ago, so we were both very excited.

-Arena notes:

-No bad seats really, very helpful arena staff, comfortable seating

-Set notes:

-Euro-style graphitti w/ names of various wrestlers (Undertaker notably excluded, Edge’s name displayed twice). Much lighter tone than the usual WWE set. Christmas lights, modest pyro display, and a Rebellion spinning fist graphic (AMWT: “Incredible I could have watched it all night”)

-Crowd notes:

-Many empty seats, most on camera side. Not because they were roped off, because some people were there, just not many (advertised as sold out, but tickets were opened up two days prior). Enthusiastic, but polite crowd meaning there were a lot more rounds of applause than cheers, and fans were generally quiet during wrestling sequences more out of respect than boredom. Counted along with EVERY pinfall, ten count, etc. Enthusiasm outweighed effectiveness re: chants (rapid staccato “What”s). Anti-Edge contingent sitting next to us. “Die Edge Die” signs as well as attempts to start a “Brocky” chant during Edge/Brock. Three guys with dead-on Undertaker, Kane, and Hurricane costumes. Lot of disappointed Undertaker fans

-Pre-show

-Desire video (Kid Rock history of the WWF version)-Biggest pops: Andre, Bulldog, Hogan, Foley, HBK, Austin-Rock faceoff, pretty much any recent guys, Superfly splash, standing round of applause at the end (for McMahon)

-Tony Chimmel intro spiel, first appearance of stacatto Whats, Chimmel not amused. Chimmel reads from cards (AMWT: “How does he not know the speech yet?”)

-Tazz & Michael Cole enter, came out together to Tazz’ theme. Big pop for Tazz, chants

-Dark Match: Bill DeMott d. Shannon Moore (pinfall via sit out powerbomb)

-Decent reaction for Moore, nothing special. He was very enthusiastic and did a good job getting the crowd warm for the show

-Nobody knew who DeMott was at first, but since he was wearing USA gear, he was quickly booed, drawing more heel heat than anybody else all-night

-DeMott reacted well and played the heel

-Mismatch in styles, not a great match

-Moore sold the finisher like a champ and hit some decent top rope moves; DeMott looked a bit out of it and probably needs to shake off the ring rust from Tough Enough

-The Show

-Opening video was a tad overdramatic, but cool. A child spoke about the forces of evil (who are apparently Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Eddie Guererro, and Matt Hardy) and how they would only be opposed by a Rebellion of the forces of good (Undertaker, Edge, Rikishi, Rey Mysterio, and Billy Kidman, if you were wondering). Undertaker was heavily featured, despite the fact he was not appearing on the show.

-Stephanie McMahon introduces the show

-Face reaction, good open to the show

-Noted that this was the first Smackdown-only ppv

-Informed us that Undertaker wasn’t there (boos) and that he would be replaced in the main event by Edge (heavy boos for Lesnar & Heyman), and emphasized that Edge could win the title by pinning Heyman (meaning of course that he would not pin Heyman)

-Announced that as “part of the Big Show trade agreement” with Eric Bischoff (boos), she had brought “the most entertaining superstar from Raw” over to England and introduced Booker T

-Match #1: Booker T d. Matt Hardy v.1 (pinfall via axe kick)

-Good pop for Booker, who was a nice surprise

-First time for us seeing the new Matt intro, which kicks ass. The “Matt fact” was that “Matt loves English muffins.” Matt got on the mic and did some good work, drawing solid heel heat. Matt was sporting a very nice new t-shirt with “V1” on the front and “The Era of Mattitude Has Begun” on the back; should be available by the holiday season. NOTE: the fact that Matt is actually introduced by the ring announcer as “Matt Hardy, version 1” is nothing short of fantastic

-Test of strength to start, both guys bailed on the other, Booker did the hand thing. Set the comedic tone for the rest of the evening (guy behind us: “Just slap him, mate!”)

-“We want Jeff” chants came up several times during the match

-Matt got a foot on the ropes after a Book-End, Booker kicked out of the Twist of Fate, good series of nearfalls prior to the end (Booker even busted out the missile dropkick as an attempted finisher)

-Decent opener, both guys played their roles well, particularly Matt in the heel role

-Booker got on the mic post-match and did the usual, and of course the fans loved the Spineroonie; Booker looked genuinely happy to be there, laughing at some signs and posing for awhile post-match

-Recap of the Dawn Marie/Torrie Wilson feud. We were both very disappointed that Al Wilson was not there live neither of us have seen him live and have heard that’s when he performs his best

-Match #2: Billy Kidman & Torrie Wilson d. John Cena & Dawn Marie (Kidman pinfall on Cena via Shooting Star Press)

-No reaction for Cena, but he definitely works better as a heel (tangent: they should really try to syndicate OVW. Not give it a TNN slot, but making it like Jakked/Metal, or better yet, like ECW Hardcore TV. Then when an OVW comes up, it wouldn’t just be a guy coming out of nowhere like Cena, Randy Orton, or Batista, it would be like when Tazz or The Dudley Boyz jumped from ECW to the WWF and actually had some modest buzz and an already built in fanbase)

-Dawn Marie was looking good. Given time, her and Cena could actually be a decent pair, ala her pairing with Lance Storm

-Kidman actually got a decent reaction, and Torrie drew a nice pop, as expected

-Kidman played the match for comedy and did a really good job. There was a spot where Torrie and Dawn were catfighting and Kidman tried to break it up, but end up under both of them, then went up to the turnbuckle with a big smile on his face and raised his arms up to a big pop while they kept fighting

-The Cena/Kidman sequences were solid. Women’s sequences were not so hot. Cena drew some good heat slamming Torrie. Kidman did a good job teasing the Shooting Star Press and then drew a big pop when he executed it. After the match, Torrie and Kidman made out, getting Kidman another big pop. Kidman should really be booked as more of a stud like he was in WCW

-Stephanie/Heyman backstage sequence, Heyman protests the Edge substitution and explains that he forgot his wrestling gear; Steph says he just wasted money on a suit then. Pretty pointless, but Heyman was drawing very solid heel heat

-Match #3: Funaki d. Crash (pinfall via Petison Roll)

-Another comedy match

-Funaki got an ok reception and did a pre-match spiel about being the “Smackdown number one announcer!”

-Incredibly quick opening sequence, very well choreographed. Both guys are amazingly fast live

-Crash put on a karate headband a little ways in, but rather than respond with comedy, Funaki actually worked pretty stiff

-Funaki ended it with a staple amateur move, the Petison Roll, which he used to reverse an Oklahoma Roll attempt by Crash

-Noble/Nidia backstage segment. The sound was out for the first part, which was unfortunate, because from the second half it sounded like they were cutting a pretty funny anti-England promo

-Mysterio backstage clip just showing him tying up his mask and then staring at the camera

-Match #4: Cruiserweight champion Jamie Noble d. Rey Mysterio and Tajiri in a Three-Way Elimination match (Noble pinned Tajiri via Tiger Bomb and then Mysterio via rollup with outside assistance from Nidia)

-Biggest heel heat so far for Noble/Nidia and biggest pop so far for Mysterio; decent face reaction for Tajiri as well

-Match of the night, without question

-For the brief time Tajiri was in there, he and Mysterio worked some great double teams on Noble, with both often kicking him back and forth, sometimes by accident; Mysterio also hit a beautiful somersault plancha to the outside at the very beginning of the match

-Tajiri went out fairly fast, but got both of his signature spots (handspring elbow and Tarantula)

-The crowd was hot for Mysterio who was making his WWE UK pay per view debut. We were very excited to see him live as well and he did not disappoint

-The crowd alternated between derogatory chants towards Nidia (“She’s your sister!” being the best) and near-constant “619!” chants

-Hot ending sequence with Mysterio getting several very close two counts; it really looked like they were going to switch the title

-Mysterio kicked out of the Tiger Bomb

-Mysterio went for the 619, but was tripped up by Nidia, infuriating the crowd, and then Noble rolled him up, holding onto Nidia’s hands for leverage

-After the match, Mysterio dropkicked Nidia into Noble on the ropes and then hit the 619 on both to a giant pop

-Angle/Benoit backstage segment

-Angle was hilarious, while Benoit just kind of sat there and played the straight man.

-Angle: “Pretend I’m America and you’re England.”

Benoit: “I’m Canadian.”

Angle: “Oh big freaking difference! They’re both part of the Commonwealth! And besides, you’ve got the teeth for it.”

-Benoit did get one nice shot in, noting that he beat Angle twice, at Unforgiven and on Smackdown, and repeating both in a funny mocking voice

-The TitanTron video feed cut out halfway through the promo, which really hurt its overall effectiveness

-Angle ended with “It’s true! It’s bloody damn freakin’ true!”

-Match #5: Ron Simmons & D-Von d. Big Valbowski & Chuck Palumbo (D-Von pinfall on Palumbo via rollup)

-The TitanTron was still down, which really killed the heat on this (the only advertised match that happened). Val’s intro, which usually is a guaranteed pop, got absolutely no reaction

-Val was working especially hard to get the crowd into the match, but there were many “Fix the screen!” chants, which was too bad, because it was actually a decent match

-Palumbo was as impressive as I’ve ever seen him, hitting some nice suplexes, and Val should really be utilized better, because he’s an extremely underrated wrestler. Simmons got a decent reaction, but D-Von did not contribute much to this match at all

-The TitanTron did eventually come back on

-Very abrupt ending with D-Von rolling up Palumbo using the tights out of nowhere

-Val & Chuck make a better team than Billy & Chuck or Val & Bob Holly

-Guererros backstage promo

-Very long, very very funny

-Just Eddie & Chavo going on seemingly forever in their best Mexican stereotypes.

-The basic thrust of the interview was that they couldn’t wait to get back to Mexico, where they “don’t talk funny,” “speak real English,” and “have better enchiladas”

-Only complaint is that Chavo needs to work on his greaseball accent to even be able to compare to Eddie

-Match #6: Rikishi d. Albert in a Kiss My Ass match (pinfall via Banzai Drop)

-Albert cut a surprisingly awesome pre-match promo, in fact, the best in-ring promo of the night by far

-Albert: “I know what all you people are thinking Albert is wicked sexy! And ladies, this hair, don’t worry, it’s al natural!” Major bonus points for use of the word “wicked” (Boston represent!)

-Rikishi was over to a scary degree. He should seriously consider taking up residence in England (AMWT: “May I suggest Leeds”) and performing exclusively in Europe

-Slow power match to start, picked up a bit with some comedy spots, including Rikishi fending off an Albert charge by merely bending over and exposing his opponent to the awesome power of his ass

-Albert removed the turnbuckle, at which point my colleague, Adam Todd, exclaimed “That will come back to haunt him.” Indeed it did, though not before it caused Rikishi some damage as well. In fact, by the time Albert fell victim to the exposed turnbuckle, it had all but been forgotten, in a brilliant play of suspense

-Albert tried to flee the ring after the match, but was brought back by Jimmy Corderas, who now, apparently, has the power to suspend wrestlers’ pay as he so chooses

-Following a brief temper tantrum, Albert charged the ring, but gave Rikishi a low blow, and then promised to make him kiss his “hair ass!”

-In yet another ironic twist, Rikishi also utilized the selfsame low blow, and delivered a Stinkface to Albert

-Following the match, Rikishi was about to dance, but then invited Tazz & Michael Cole in the ring to join him. Tazz insisted that ring announcer Tony Chimmel should also participate. Chimmel can really get down. Tazz is huge like scary huge but good for him. I have nothing to say about Michael Cole.

-Edge backstage segment

-Edge looked bizarre and sickly, somewhat like a heroin addict that hadn’t eaten or slept in a week. Apparently Edge was up on the entire flight over, and if it was Virgin Airlines, was no doubt utilizing their extensive movie selection. Lance Storm however, was in bed and sleeping by ten as usual

-Sidenote: We are watching World Series highlights being given by a really dorky American guy and a really really enthusiastic British man. They just spent ten minutes analyzing the singing of the National Anthem, which they agreed was “workmanlike.” The British guy has screamed “On the dot!” about eighteen times. He also concluded that the airing of the World Series on BBC 5 for the past three years has directly led to Major League Baseball’s success (AMWT: “An outlandish claim if I’ve ever heard one I put money that this guy has never even seen a baseball in his life.”) The American dork has just decided that “taking the crowd out of the game” is the only way the Giants can win. Has Game 7 happened yet or not? That’s all we want to know!

-Match #7: Tag Team champions Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit d. The Guererros (Angle pinfall on Eddie via Angle Slam)

-Angle’s relationship with the fans was nothing short of bizarre. HUGE face pop when his music started, but immediately the fans began in with the “you suck” choruses in his music. Numerous “Angle Sucks” signs in the crowd, but a pro-Angle chant went up almost immediately and continued more or less the entire match. Angle himself seemed shocked by the positive reaction, turning to the crowd with a confused look on his face numerous times. Once he absorbed it, Angle became giddy as a schoolgirl, rubbing it in Benoit’s face and jumping up and down. The Guererros drew tremendous heel heat with their tactics. Benoit got virtually no reaction, but received applause whenever he hit a nice suplex (the bottom line is that Benoit simply isn’t cool, but he’s a guy you have to respect a big reason he will probably never be World champ, despite being one of the best in the world)

-Again, a slow start. We had very high, perhaps unreasonable, expectations for this match, based on all the good things we’ve read about Smackdown lately, without having actually watched wrestling in two months. Once things got underway, however, we could see why the show has been getting such rave reviews, as it was an excellent match

-Angle and Benoit had a German suplex competition, which though Benoit clearly delivered a superior suplex, Angle won, based on crowd reaction

-The Guererros do not enter the ring through the ropes ever. They only jump in over the top

-Wow, they do have tag ropes again, don’t they…

-Eddie appeared to injure himself at one point, doubling over and then rolling outside, with Angle pulling Chavo in and Benoit going to the floor to stomp Eddie and give him reason to stay down for a bit. However, Eddie got back in after a few minutes, and looked like he may have just had the wind knocked out of him, and was fine for the remainder of the match

-The real star of this match may have been Chavo, who is really coming into his own. He kept pace with the other three very well, and was definitely treated as an equal. It’s nice to see him getting a shot as he is one of the best and most underrated pure wrestlers in the world

-Ending sequence was wild and very fun. It began with a Benoit swandive headbutt on Eddie (very sweet move, drew a nice crowd reaction), then Chavo trying, and failing to give Benoit the brainbuster, then Angle missing the Angle Slam on Eddie, Eddie missing the Frog Splash on Angle, Benoit giving Chavo the Crossface and the two going outside, then Angle getting the anklelock to a huge pop, only to have Chavo nail him with a belt. Benoit entered, with the ref down, and teased hitting Angle with a chair, but then hit Eddie, to another big pop, and Angle hit the Angle Slam for the win

-The weirdness resumed after the match, as Angle, who had been cheered all match, again was treated to “you suck” along with his music, broken up only when he climbed the turnbuckles to a huge face pop. The British crowd are mindless sheep much like their U.S. counterparts, but that is what makes the world go round

-Funny bit with Angle and Benoit arguing, the Guerererros crawling into the ring and each getting a hand on a tag belt, only to have Angle and Benoit step on the belts in stereo, and then stomp the Guererros

-Angle milked the crowd all the way to the back

-Lesnar/Heyman backstage segment

-Again, pointless, but it became evident that if Brock is indeed turning face, he’s not doing it in England

-Sidenote pt.2: Forget what we said before, these baseball commentators are awesome. These guys are what baseball needs in the U.S. The British fellow’s astonishment at the Stealth Bombers being able to fly into the stadium perfectly timed with the end of the National Anthem is unmatched. In addition to having probably never seen baseball before, this man has apparently also never seen an airplane

-Match #8: WWE Champion Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman d. Edge in a Handicap match (Brock pin via F5)

-Nice pop for Edge, much bigger than when he did the promo backstage, most likely because he now looked like Edge, and not a blond Alice Cooper

-The reaction to Brock really isn’t one of cheers or boos, people are really just in awe of him, this crowd being no exception Heyman, however, was drawing extreme heel heat

-Very good match, among the better Brock matches to date

-Edge mocked Brock’s warmup routine to start, and got absolutely ripped apart as a result

-Brock sold well and Edge got a good deal of offense in

-Heyman’s involvement was minimal, but appropriate, getting speared and baseball slid by Edge, effectively knocking him out for twenty minutes. Tazz threw a paper ball at him at one point in an attempt to wake him up

-Cool spot where Brock got whipped into a post shoulder first and used his momentum to spin right back into the ring, still selling the injury. This may explain why Brock later assaulted the blameless steel steps with reckless abandon

-Brock took a few nice bumps over the top rope

-Towards the end, Edge utilized a move that can really only be described as a sort of “flying catlike pounce” several times, getting a nice reaction each time

-Edge reversed an F5 into an Edgeocution at one point, but the ref was out

-Edge’s downfall came when he just kept going up top, and eventually got nailed by Brock with a chair that Heyman had slipped in, and hit with a very awkward F5 for the pin

-Post-match, Brock left, but Heyman remained, poked Edge with a chair, and got hit with the Edgeocution to send the fans home happy

-Overall comments

-Fun little show that had a feel of being more of an entertaining diversion, for both wrestlers and fans, rather than anything particularly important mainly because Undertaker’s absence meant Brock had to continue playing a heel, and there was no Big Show, putting the show kind of out of continuity, and also the entire advertised card had to be reshuffled. More of a showcase than anything else

-Though some wrestlers started out kind of lethargic, there was no match that did not heat up eventually

-Based on this show, Angle should be turned face, while Edge is definitely ready for a main event push. Albert and Kidman both deserve some more spotlight, while Val Venis needs a new gimmick (nothing new)

-Also, Tony Chimmel should lead Smackdown’s answer to the Nitro Girls. On a side note, no disrespect to Tazz & Michael Cole, but these guys doing the baseball show need to be made Smackdown’s new announce team ASAP

-That Matt Hardy t-shirt cannot come out soon enough

-It would not be surprising to learn that the reason this was a Smackdown only ppv was that Kane had difficulty getting into the country. (AMWT: “Frankly, I’m glad Kane was not there, I would not have felt safe. I am grateful to Triple H for revealing to me through his diligent investigative reporting that Kane is in fact as evil as we all once believed. For God’s sake the man shoots fireballs from his hands! And I the only one who thinks this is not normal?!”)

-Unfortunately, based on the opening promo, Brock Lesnar’s win can only mean that the Rebellion has failed, and England is doomed. (NOTE: this was evidence the next day, when severe winds led to every train and bus to anywhere in the country being cancelled, stranding us in Leeds overnight. On the upside, we found out that Leeds, birthplace of “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, is nothing short of a slice of heaven. If anybody reading this is from Leeds, and wants to hang out, please e-mail us using the feedback link at the bottom of this report. We would also love any sort of t-shirts or collectibles from your beautiful city. Special thanks to Jia at the Leeds Comfort Inn for taking pity on two stranded students wearing matching bootleg Rebellion hooded sweatshirts purchased for only ten pounds apiece, and giving us a non-existent student discount. Also, thanks must go out to the wedding party at the Old Rectory Hotel in Manchester, in particular the decorators, for letting us pretend we were the groom’s American cousins and getting us free drinks, as well as screaming at the barmaid, “They’re not bloody pop stars, they’re just American lads! Stop staring!”)

-The WWE will return to England on June 8th for Insurrextion. However, don’t make the same mistake we did and buy “sold out” tickets on eBay, because twenty pound ones will become available shortly before the event (nonetheless, thanks to the guy that sold us the tickets). Also, never, EVER, rely on the British railway system for anything. And check out the Rat & Parrot Pub if you are in Manchester.

-Biggest Pops

1: Kurt Angle

2: Rey Mysterio

3: Rikishi

4: Edge

5: Booker T

-Biggest Heel Heat

1: Bill DeMott

2: Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman

3: Jamie Noble & Nidia

4: Matt Hardy v.1

5: The Guererros

See you guys soon, with a new edition of The Mean, featuring Eddie Guererro, on the way to 411, and be on the look out for the new column Adam is pitching, “The Wrestling Fan Who Just Doesn’t Get It,” somewhere on the net, first column subject: “Remember that time Hogan almost killed The Giant by throwing him off a building? And I seem to recall, earlier this very year, the man attempted to run over The Rock with a semi. Now Hulk Hogan is hailed as a hero is this type of behavior we, as a society, should be rewarding with a two-disc DVD set? Call me old-fashioned, but I just don’t get it.”

Cheers!