The Little Things 04.01.03: Wrestlemania XIX & RAW Special

Well, Wrestlemania XIX is in the books. Let’s take a special look at some little things that made it great or could’ve been done more effectively.

1. Candid Camera

The camera work for Wrestlemania XIX was some of the best in recent memory. Several shots are going to stand out in my mind from this one, including Booker and HHH’s face to face where Booker audibly told HHH that his “punk ass is in trouble” twice, the stony faced Chris Jericho watching HBK preen to the ring and flipping him off, the shot of Vince McMahon peeking over the table as he discovered the lead pipe and brock lesnar dazed and confused as the ref handed him the title. Absolute first-rate job.

2. Celebrity Status

I felt if anything took some luster off of this year’s Wrestlemania, it was the choice of celebrities booked. The Miller Lite Catfight Girls, while a good opportunity for Miller Lite to gain some exposure and for the fans to, well, enjoy some exposure, didn’t really add anything to the pay-per-view and are at best a good idea with a short shelf life from a Super Bowl that occurred months ago. Limp Bizkit, while giving two performances that came off very well on television also gave you that feeling that you were watching something that wasn’t exactly current. Ashanti’s opening rendition of America the Beautiful was the best idea they had and was very well done.

I can remember when WWe was more clever about this. I thought The Rock and Gennifer Flowers’ skit from days of yore was one of the first signs of his brilliance. A laugh wouldn’t have hurt on Sunday either but I guess Pete Rose, attempting to be on good behavior with Major League Baseball, was unavailable this year. And yes, I do know that John Cena ripped up Fabolous in abstentia to the point where I was both laughing and fearing for his life, but that was on Heat and thus represents a wasted opportunity.

3. Heartbreaking

I’ll dedicate this spot and the last one to a couple of guys that may not see the next Wrestlemania. Although I did not agree with the end of this match whatsoever, the rush of nostalgia from seeing HBK in his old ring garb, prancing and preening around, posing to a very impressive display of fireworks in the ring and in Safeco field was very, very enjoyable. Jericho countered all of this with an excellent performance himself including his middle finger during HBK’s entrance, mocking his pose and laying across the turnbuckle and breaking out the “c’mon baby” cover, my most cherished little thing of all.

As far as that ending goes, I personally thought it was the worst of 3 possible outcomes – Jericho going over cleanly as a heel, HBK winning and Jericho turning face (and the crowd was ready for it, too) and HBK winning cleanly with Jericho attempting to retain some form of heat. I’m not sure all the kicks to the groin in the world are going to do much in terms of keeping him properly heated without a big win to bolster him.

4. Rock Solid

Don the vest, go to the water bottle for a break and deliver a solid match where it was very evident that he was carrying the once-mighty Austin and you have a well-deserved win for the Great One. My only hope is that he goes over Goldberg as well because it would be an outright crime for someone like Goldberg to get the rub from someone with infinitely more talent like the Rock. But we’ll get to him later.

5. The Right Angle

I sincerely hope everyone who complained about buyrates and whatnot related to WrestleMania beforehand did not get the pleasure of seeing what could be Kurt Angle’s last performance at Safeco Field. Because honestly, they don’t deserve his performance. This type of fan does not appreciate one bit the effort each wrestler puts forth in the ring week in and week out. Instead, they arrogantly jump on their computers and pretend to have all of the solutions when, in fact, they are talking out of their asses.

Kurt Angle’s gutsy performance alone was worth the 40 bucks spent on the pay-per-view and really puts moaning and groaning about HHH, buyrates and the lot in perspective. Sometimes it helps to take a step back and appreciate what you got I guess is what I’m saying. During these alledgedly dreadful past 2 years, Kurt has had an unprecedented run in the business and given his body and soul to accomplish it. Every little thing he has ever done – every time he pulled the straps down, twirled around the ring, trashed the local sports team, touted the 3 Is or conducted a clinic in the ring – is a memory that I as a fan will never forget.

In the match against Brock he not only put his neck on the line, so to speak, but delivered a very quality ending out of a botched spot that sent the fans home happy. The presence of mind to pull that off on the fly is just amazing. I also marked out when he pulled the release German into the top turnbuckle and the one that flipped Brock over.

But if you listen to some people, you haven’t missed much last night or in the past 2 years. To that I would respond with this line from George Carlin – some people are really f*ckin’ stupid.

Now while I polish off my soapbox and get ready to stand on it again, let us take a break with the weekly keen observation from the readers.

Readers’ Picks: Below the Belt

As I waxed nostalgic about Ric Flair last week, I left out one of the most important elements in his arsenal. Good thing reader Nick Saikey picked up the ball, so to speak, and ran with it:

When talking about Flair, I love him. But dude, you forgot the BEST part: the most blatant ball shot known to man or beast. He just gives a nice 2-3 second pause and hits that shot perfectly. You can’t beat his ballshot. Like when he faced Brock in 2002 before Brock jumped. He put a rear headlock on Brock to deliver a mule kick, but he does it with such pizzazz and timing that it’s perfect everytime. He does certain moves JUST to set up a ballshot. God, I’ma miss him when he’s gone. Love the column, keep it up

Ric was at it again last night as were some other WWe superstars. Let’s take a look at who put forth the most attention to details for the 03.31.2003 edition of RAW:

1. Major League

I know in my heart his Tough Enough background will keep him from winning a match probably for another 5 years or so, but I am going to enjoy the scraps I get from Nowinski in the meantime as the character itself is a goldmine for entertainment. Telling Steiner that he majored in gym was another priceless piece of bread in the collection.

2. For Sure

As WWe continues not to emphasize a potentially entertaining personality, Rob Van Dam pulled off a hilarious line after setting up a stipulation match for the tag titles. “Dude, we’re gonna win” totally fits his personality and if they pursued it (and I’m guessing they wont) sets up other situations where a overconfident Van Dam could get his tag team partner into all sorts of crazy situations. But since they were done with good intentions he’d stay a strong face, especially as he comes up with ways to get out of them. The point? They are not doing nearly enough with Rob’s character and the guy is already over to boot.

3. Special Delivery

Eric Bischoff is a frequent feature in this column and with good reason. It’s not enough for him to pull off a very convincing promo dropping the axe on Austin. To top it off, he gives us nerds a wink and told him that his papers were being fed exed to his home in Texas. Again, one of many hilarious moments from last nights show.

4. The Man

Yep, he sure was at it again. The idea of an old man stealing a kid’s mask and stomping on it is beyond fantastic. The kid even had on what appeared to be a Florida Gators football jersey, a detail that Jim Ross inexplicably missed. Wholly unexpected and entertaining bit.

Plus, that was easily the best chokehold applied in a backstage vignette since Andre and Bob Eucker.

5. Gold In Them Thar Hills?

I’ll reserve judgment on Goldberg for now. With Rock and possibly Austin leaving, WWe certainly needs some star power on their flagship show to keep interest levels high. Giving the Rock a reason to come back via a job at Backlash is also fine with me so long as he actually comes back.

However, as most on the IWC are pointing out, if you are going to drop him as a surprise just let Bischoff’s wet ink comment be the set-up, not several ads running throughout the show. With spoilers and such widely available on the net it is so hard to pull off a true surprise these days. Watering it down even further with your own ads really undercuts any momentum Goldberg could establish and that is a very bad thing. Also, once again, they let the man make contact with his target weeks before the payoff match. Not wise.

Also, no bullet-hole blood trickle on the forehead and smoke being breathed post-fireworks? Again, we’ll see where they take this.

I left out several good lines and situations from last night so I’m counting on you guys to pick up my slack, as always. Keep the comments coming and I’ll see you next week.