A LOOK AT TABOO TUESDAY FROM THE VARIOUS ASPECTS PERSPECTIVE
This goes back to my debut column. The plan was to make this column a regular look at things through he filter of the idea that there are a variety of different aspect that can go into making a match, an angle, a feud, or a show great. Taboo Tuesday was the first WWE PPV that I watched at home as it was happening, In fact, I went out and got the cable box the day of the show because the previous night’s RAW had intrigued me enough that I wanted to see it live.
I watched WM XX at a movie theatre filled with rabid fans, went to Alberta to see Benoit defend his title at Backlash, and took in Taboo Tuesday from the comfort of my own home. All three shows turned out to be far more enjoyable than any show where I had already read the reviews and formed an opinion before seeing it. This may just destroy my credibility as a wrestling columnist, but I really enjoyed the Pay Per View. I thought it started and finished so strongly that any flat spots in between just kind of rolled off my back.
Now, let’s see how the event stacks up from The Various Aspects perspective.
We’ll do this letter grade style.
An A+ means that the aspect was carried out well enough to carry the show into the Pantheon of wrestling greatness.
An A means that the aspect was carried out at an exceptionally high level, adding a great deal to the show.
A grade of B means that the aspect was carried out at a high level, adding something important to the show.
A C grade indicates that the aspect neither added to nor significantly detracted from the show. A C aspect might have added a little for some people, and the inverse would be true of a C-.
A D would indicate either that the aspect was poorly executed and detracted from the show, or that there was not enough of that particular aspect incorporated into the show.
A grade of E will be given to any aspect that significantly reduces the overall quality or entertainment value of the show.
A grade of F would mean that there was something about the show that was bad enough to drag the whole thing down to WrestleCrap level.
A grade of A or an F grade will be saved for truly special occasions.
Pure Wrestling: There wasn’t a great deal of mat wrestling on this show. There were relatively few counters and reversals, and it was unusual to see more than a couple of moves chained together. All of this lends credence to the idea that the voting for TT might not have been rigged, since there was kind of a sense that many of the matches were being extemporized in the ring as they were happening. Anyone who ordered the show in hopes of seeing an exhibition of pure wrestling, however, would have been disappointed.
The best pure wrestler on RAW, Chris Benoit, was stuck in an angle advancement match, Jericho and Benjamin were focussed more on getting the crowd excited, and Ric Flair’s match was about something other than pure scientific wrestling. Nick Dinsmore’s talents were wasted in a failed attempt at comedy, and William Regal didn’t wrestle. The best pure wrestling performance of the night came from HHH, who spent the first half of his match attacking HBK’s already injured leg.
Grade: C –
Power Wrestling: HHH was in the ring with an injured man, neither Batista nor Rhyno had a match, and overall the high-impact power moves were few and far between. Gene Snitsky, however, showed an impressive amount of power in dominating Kane, including an impressive-looking Sidewalk Slam. Shelton Benjamin showcased his explosive power, and his finisher looked very impressive when he unleashed it on Jericho. Still, by WWE standards this aspect was not a strong point of the show.
Brawling: Now we’re talking! The Kane vs. Snitsky chain match exceeded all reasonable expectations (it didn’t suck), and the cage match felt like a semi-classic as I was watching it. The great thing is, these were two very different kinds of brawls. Kane hates Snitsky, and Snitsky was fighting for his life. The weapons were well integrated into the story line, and the finisher made perfect sense in the context of the larger story being told. The Orton vs. Flair battle was set up as a battle for respect, and it serves an excellent example of how to tell such a story in the ring. The cage match was short, and the move set was limited to chops, stomps, nut shots, cage spots, a single Cross Body, and the RKO, but that didn’t matter. It was an excellent brawl.
High Flying: Well, Orton almost hit a High Cross Body, Benjamin hit a fairly good Diving Lariat, and Jericho nailed the Lionsault. Let’s not mention the Kneebreak Kid’s Falling Elbow. Maybe I need to watch some old Michinoku Pro or Toryumon to balance things out.
Psychology: By WWE standards, the psychology was surprisingly good. I’ve already mentioned HHH working on HBK’s damaged leg, but that was somewhat spoiled by Michaels repeatedly dropping Helmsley onto his injured knee, and later stomping it to set up the Sweet Chin Music. The cage match and the chain match told their stories effectively. Edge’s heel turn was very well executed. The ending of the Snitsky vs. Kane match harkened back to the Kane vs. HBK angle from a few months ago, which was pretty deep psychology if it was intended that way.
Bumps: Wrestlers like Jeff Hardy, Tomoaki Honma, and even Mick Foley have been taking flak from critics lately for being nothing but glorified stunt men. I think, however, that every federation needs a good bumping machine, and I miss the days when we could pretty count on at least one hellacious HOLY S$%T! moment at every PPV. I guess that Kane’s tumble off the gurney, Benoit’s little tribute to Bret Hart (sternum-first into the corner) and a nice Flair bump off the turnbuckle were pretty much the best that Taboo Tuesday could offer in this department.
Stiffness: WWE is not UWF-I, nor is it 90’s All Japan, but any PPV featuring Benoit and Flair chopping the crap out of their opponents is going to receive at least a passing grade in this aspect.
High Spots: There weren’t too many spectacular moves performed at Taboo Tuesday, but there were a number of subtle things that had me marking out, even if they didn’t seem to do much for the crowd in Milwaukee. Eugene’s Airplane Spin on Uncle Eric, Benoit hooking the Crossface, Snitsky kicking the ring steps at Kane, and the classic cage match near-escapes were particular favourites.
The Fun Factor: It felt like they were just trying to hard to be entertaining. The T&A matches are getting tiresome, and having two on one show was probably counterproductive. There was way too much Coach, and the show would have worked a great deal better with a different MC. Aside form the Airplane Spin, the Eugene vs. Bischoff match and the subsequent head shaving entirely failed to pique my interest. We’ve already seen Molly Holly and The Big Show get their heads shaved this year, so it was no big deal to see it happen again. The concept of an interactive PPV was handled fairly well, and it added a nice touch of suspense to the show.
There were two effective shows of respect at Taboo Tuesday. The first came when Jericho handed the belt to Benjamin, and the second happened at the end of the night when Flair and Orton shook hands and then hugged after their match. Both were nice moments, and neither detracted from the other. In addition to Orton and Benjamin receiving the rub, Snitsky was effectively put over as a new monster heel. Benoit beating Les Resistances by himself sets up what might be an interesting angle with Edge, and watching Michaels struggling to overcome his injury was quite compelling.
Selling: HBK sold the figure four exceptionally well, Flair and Orton looked like they were on the verge of collapse, and Kane made The Baby Killer look like a million bucks.
Integrity: By WWE standards, there wasn’t a whole lot of outside interference. Batista’s run-in didn’t make much sense, but Edge’s did, in the context of the story being told.
Work Rate: There was too much silliness between the matches, but the matches themselves were mostly well paced. The long figure four made sense considering that the story of the match revolved around an injured limb.
Pacing: The show itself was very poorly paced. The forced comedy bits went on too long, and the set up for the pillow fight was interminable.
Blood: OH BABY! Kane spit up a ton of juice after his neck got Pillmanized, and the cage match was a classic blood bath. Some might complain that the blood started flowing too quickly in the Cage Match, but I think it added to the intensity of the contest.
Crowd Reaction: That was, plain and simple, a lousy crowd. Their lack of reaction took a great deal away from the action.
Announcing: JR did his usual fine job, even busting out the Government Mule catchphrase. King wasn’t too annoying, New Guy was just there, and Coachman was terrible.
Overall: I was entertained by the show. I thought that the opener and the last two matches were good enough to make up for the rough spots in between. The brawling, psychology, story telling, and selling were all excellent. Benjamin as IC champ, Benoit vs. Edge as feuding tag champs, Snitsky as an unstoppable monster, and Flair coming around to the light side of the force were all good moments that would have meant less if I hadn’t seen them as they were happening.
Final Biased Grade: B-
PK has a review up as well, and you can check The Roundtable to see how we did at predicting the matches.