Hey all. Welcome to the first night of my new regular gig here on Friday nights. (Although I did do the live coverage of Thursday Night Raw last week – it was good, go read it!) Apparently, finding someone that actually stays at home on a weekend evening is a challenge around here. So, all they had to do was find some old married guy and rope him into it. (Damn kids.) You may be seeing more commentary here than you would on a regular live report, just because I’m a somewhat verbose guy. However, that may mean that I fall behind the (plausibly) “live” show on occasion. In my attempts to keep up with the show as much as possible, I’ll be going back and adding comments as the night goes on — so be sure to refresh often. Hopefully, my style will work for y’all. If so, drop me a line. If not, drop me a line too – I’ve never gotten hate mail before, so it might be fun.
And we come to you tonight, from Richmond, VA (which I just drove right through the middle of on my way back north on Monday). The drink of the night this evening in the Murray household is: Yuengling Black & Tan. Your announcers, as usual, are Michael Cole and Tazz. Tonight, we’ll be dealing with the fallout from No Way Out. And let’s get right to it — we go directly to an in-ring promo from Randy Orton, even before the show credits. Wow, what a push this guy is getting.
“Please, please. Now, I’m not the kind of guy to come out here and say ‘I told you so’…” Okay, Orton hasn’t done a lot for me so far, but I have to admit – he’s plays the cocky heel as well as anyone. The crowd just looks at him, and hates him immediately. And it’s not X-Pac heat either — at least, not yet. But, give it 6 months with no character development, and I’m sure we could get there. And gosh – won’t that be exciting?
He runs down Rey, and does everything but spit on Eddie’s memory (without mentioning him by name — yet). He then references his own family lineage (smart move), but slips into a very unoriginal “I’m the best” rant. Luckily, that gets broken up by Chavo, who absolutely pummels Orton. We get right to the 3 Amigos, and then a (somewhat sloppy) frog splash, with a top-rope dedication to Eddie. The crowd, of course, eats it right up.
And we go, to COMMERCIAL…
MNM (champion) vs. Matt Hardy and Tatanka: Wow, Tatanka was actually available for work, eh? Shocking. (So, they have room for this guy, Duggan, Vader and Golddust — but no one has been able to get Ricky Steamboat in a ring for 10+ years? ‘Sup with dat? Anyway…) Tatanka actually looks okay, if you ignore the 25 pound beer gut he’s carrying around. We get a quick review of the No Way Out match, where Tatanka actually got the pin. And then, straight into the best entrance in wrestling – MNM, featuring the absolutely luscious Melina. Whoa – wait. Oh, darling — what did you do to your HAIR? It looks like she’s had an overload of static electricity build-up or something. We start off fast-and-furious, with a very nice double-team move from Hardy and Tatanka – Nitro slumps in the corner, each takes one leg, and they actually flip him completely over on his face. Trust me – it looked cool.
Cole: “You wanna know how good Tatanka was? At one point in his career, he was undefeated for nearly two years in World Wrestling Entertainment. Two years!” Gee, Cole – that’s impressive. And how many World Titles did he hold during that time?
A little heel distraction quickly turns the tide (wow, is Melina’s skirt short – lovely view when she’s up on the ring apron), and we get a double-team suplex outside the ring. Melina lets loose with an incredibly annoying scream, while MNM show us some good, old-fashioned southern style tag team strategy: cut off half the ring, keep yourself between your opponent and his partner, quick tags, lots of double-team moves. I approve. Wow – Tatanka (or “T” as Hardy keeps calling him) has been in the ring for 6 or 7 minutes straight — not bad for a guy who has to be in his mid-to-late 40’s, and wasn’t really known for endurance in his prime. Anyway, this lasts until they try their little “I’ll hold the guy in the corner, you charge, and I’ll move at the last moment — what could possible go wrong?” move – and of course, they get caught. Tatanka makes the hot tag, and Hardy lights it up, including one very Nice Sequence: he irish whips Nitro into the corner, charges in with a lariat, goes for a bulldog out of the corner, and catches Mercury with a lariat at the same time on his way down. Pretty sweet, Matt — now I remember why I actually liked you and brother when you were a tag team. But, Hardy gets caught with a kick to the head off the ropes, Mercury hits a northern lights suplex — 2 count. MNM goes for the Snapshot, but it’s broken up by Tatanka. Another nice double-team move: Hardy goes for a back suplex, while Tatanka hits a neckbreaker. Only 2. Tatanka misses a blind charge, Hardy goes for the Twist of Fate, but Melina grabs his ankle. Hardy turns and stares at her, completely ignoring his opponents (hey, nobody ever said Matt was the sharpest tack in the box), so of course Mercury rolls-up Hardy for the pin, with the help of a handful of tights.
Backstage to the finest actor and the sharpest dresser in the WWE, Mr. William Regal. He reads a letter from “Jenny from New England”, which puts forth the idea that Burchill’s decision to dress as a pirate is going to “besmirch” Regal’s reputation. (She also puts forth the idea that Mr. Regal is “gorgeous and delectable.”) “You’re a bloody hooligan, not a pirate!” Burchill does what any rational pirate would do: he hands Regal a bomb, and lights it. After it fizzles out, Burchill gets in Regal’s face and says “Boom”. Regal looks somewhat non-plussed.
See, this is one of the things I love about modern-day wrestling — as recently as 10 years ago, nobody would have dreamed of creating a storyline whose basis is “Your character is stupid”. (Well, okay: unless you were the Shockmaster.) The post-attitude era of the WWE just opens up infinite possibilities.
Back to Cole and Tazz (who mentions that if we have a Boogeyman, why not a pirate?). We get reminded that Bret Hart is getting inducted into the Hall of Fame on April 1 (remember, kids – that *is* April Fool’s Day), and we get the still-emotional (even though this is the 3rd time I’m watching it) Eddie video.
Booker T and Sharmel come out to a decent reaction, and take a seat at the announce table. Well good – we’d certainly hate to see him *wrestle* or anything silly like that. This is followed by the arrival of the The Dicks, in what we now know will be their last match here in the WWE.
Booker: “Everybody knows I wouldn’t be a ‘former’ [Intercontinental champ] if it wasn’t for Teddy Long. Just like you giving me this headset that doesn’t fit!” Really? Teddy rigged the headsets? Man, that guy does *everything* – what a hands-on GM.
And then we get their opponent. Ohhh boy.
The Boogeyman vs. The Dicks: Wow, gotta say – Boogey’s getting quite the reaction. (And hey – how often do you get to type *that* sentence, eh?) Total squash, highlighted by the fact that B-man does the entire match with a large section of glass (from the clock that he shattered over his head) stuck to his forehead (it doesn’t fall off enough after he takes a couple of punches to the face). We end with a two-hand chokeslam.
Afterwards, he does more of his “worm thing”, and comes down to the announcer’s table – this, of course, causes Booker and Sharmell to get the hell out of Dodge. Cole and Tazz hope that Booker’s absence will distract B-man, but to no avail: an entire bag of worms gets dumped on the table. (Not quite the same effect as Jake Robert’s dumping out Damien, but not far off.) Cole immediately jumps over the barrier — c’mon, dude, they’re *worms*. What, are you afraid you might get slimed?
Our Peter Gabriel “Big Time” Wrestlemania moment is Jeff Hardy’s swanton off the big BIG ladder onto Bubba Ray Dudley at the TLC match. And yet another reminder of why I liked the Hardy Boyz back in the day: killing yourself for my amusement will always get the big thumbs up.
We come back to ringside, where the crew is trying to clean up the announcer’s desk. Tazz protests that he’s wearing a new suit — okay, yeah, I accept that as a legitimate complaint about getting away from the worms. Clothes makes the man, after all.
Rey Mysterio Jr. comes down to ringside, and reminds us about Eddie getting into the HoF. He then talks a bit more about Eddie, and Orton, and Eddie, and the Royal Rumble, and Eddie, and Sunday night’s match. Okay, seriously — this is getting freaking ridiculous. I really thought Eric was being his usual cranky and insane self, but I totally agree with him: this is unabashed exploitation of the dead. And it’s really starting to piss me off.
Anyway, Rey apologizes to the entire Guerrero family, especially Eddie. (*sigh*) And hey, here’s Teddy Long. Gee, I wonder what he could be getting ready to announce. We take a look at the end of the No Way Out match. Teddy: “Well, Rey, I want you to know.. I’ve reviewed the tapes…” Really? You had to review them? Jeezus, Teddy – don’t you watch your own PPV’s live when they’re going on? You know, if you didn’t spend so much time screwing with Booker’s headset, you could have handled this days ago. ANYWAY… Teddy does the obvious, and announces that the match at Wrestlemania will be a Triple Threat match, with Orton, Rey, and the world champ. But hey – the crowd is absolutely ecstatic, so it’s all good with me.
Wait – this Monday’s show at the Verizon Center is a supershow, with Raw and Smackdown? Oh hell – off to stubhub.com I go…
We get a video package for, of all people, Mark Henry. Yeah, okay – he’s strong. Trust me, I used to powerlift – I respect what he’s done. But, well – when he doesn’t suck in the ring, get back to me. (And exactly *why* have none of his opponents brought up the time when he got blown by a transvestite? Kurt Angle *so* would have done that back in his “goofy” days.)
Kristal (or “Kristal Marshall”, if you’re the announcer) comes out to pimp the new Diva’s Lingerie Special magazine. She informs us that she has “another side”, which she’d like to show us now. Well, okay, dear – if you insist. But before she can, Jillian struts out, to stop Kristal from “embarrassing” herself. Kristal challenges Jillian to show her stuff, the words “cheap bimbo” get thrown around, somebody badmouths somebody else’s mama…. (well, okay, that last part didn’t happen). We devolve into a quick cat-fight, which results in Jillian getting her top torn off. Which, if you’re collecting opinions, I’m all in favor of. And then, to further increase the approval rating from the teenage males in the audience (and the admittedly-large percentage of post-teenage males watching who still haven’t been laid enough), Kristal strips down too. Well, I’m married, with two kids, so I’ll take this however I can get it. Thumbs up, baby.
We get another flashback to the PPV – Batista’s visit. Okay, Dave: whoever told you to shave your head like that? That guy is NOT your friend. Just trust me on this one. But on the plus side, you still pull off a suit like no one’s business (with the possible exception of Mr. Regal, of course).
Gregory Helms (champion) vs. Psicosis: Helms comes out to a strong heel reaction – but he might actually be getting some X-Pac heat. Ooh – not good. Psicosis rides out on his John Deere (racist, yes; funny, yes). Decent back-and-forth match for a while (and yes, that’s my code word(s) for “kinda boring”). I don’t understand the concept of giving the cruiserweight title to the guy who most closely wrestles like a heavyweight — isn’t this supposed to be the exciting division, or something? Why give the title to a mini-HHH? Eh – whatever. And hey – what is UP with Psicosis? This guy just hasn’t looked crisp since his ECW One Night Stand match with Rey. In fact, it looks like he almost breaks his neck on a hurricanrana attempt — ouchie. End game: Psicosis goes up top, but gets crotched (well thank ghod for that – we wouldn’t want to have any high impact moves in a cruiserweight match, would we?), and then rolled-up (but I will give Helms credit for using the ropes). Wow – am I disappointed.
WINNER: Gregory Helms
Another PPV flashback: this time with the Angle/UT match. And here, they basically show the entire tombstone/tombstone/reversal/ankle lock/triangle choke/pinfall sequence. So, tell me this — if I’ve now seen that, and I know the result — exactly why would I buy the PPV replay?
Teddy Long comes out to announce “somethin’ special for ya”. Next week, in DC (my current residence): the rematch – Angle vs. the Undertaker. (But, as far as I can tell, no special stips. Hey, that’s okay – I’m still going to stubhub.com.)
We hear Randy Orton’s music… but no Randy. So, we run backstage, and find him yelling at Teddy Long, for exactly the reasons you would expect: Chavo, Rey, Wrestlemania, etc. Nothing exciting.
Orton, JBL and Finlay vs. Benoit, Lashley and Rey Mysterio Jr: The participants are listed here in order of their entrances (I’m always fascinated by who gets the last entrance, on both the face and heel side). They hate Orton, JBL is middling, and Finlay isn’t getting much (though I do love the guy). The 3 faces all get good reactions, with Rey being far-and-away the strongest of the night. I’m quite shocked to see that Lashley looks to be only a couple of inches taller than the former “Vanilla Midget” Benoit – he just looks so much taller when you see him walk out.
Rey and Orton start, to the delight of the crowd. Some back-and-forth, Rey goes for the 619, and Orton quickly tags in Finlay. Rey backs up a bit, and tags in Lashley – again, the crowd approves. We switch gears immediately, to some ground-based offense – knees, forearms, etc. But when Lashley takes the offense – holy crap is this guy fast. Lashly spears Finlay, JBL breaks up the pin, Benoit comes in to smack JBL around… and now we’re in a 6-man brawl. Kewl. The faces seem to be gaining the upper hand, which means that we must now go…
We come back, with Benoit putting JBL in the sharpshooter (gee, how many members of the IWC have wanted to see this for the last two years?). JBL hits the ropes to break. More tagging, until we end up with Rey pulling a springboard forearm on Orton. Orton turns the tide, and gets Rey into his corner. Finlay comes in, and we.. go to the chinlock? Okay, I will *NEVER* understand the concept of throwing an extended resthold into the middle of a main event 6-man match. Psychology be damned – keep the flow going, man.
Rey gets caught trying to go for what I guess was supposed to be a pescado, but gets crotched on the ring apron (nice, Finlay). He gets pummeled a bit, including a bear hug (see my comments about rest holds above – yeesh). Orton gets tagged in, and pulls a VERY cool sequence, where he allows Rey to crawl to the point where he can *almost* make a tag.. and then starts stomping on him. I’m telling you: Randy has captured the full essence of the cocky heel, as if it came naturally to him (shocking, that). He then immediately tries to kill that good karma with a 2 minute chinlock (*sigh*). But, Orton misses a blind charge, and Benoit gets tagged in. Chris goes through the heels like a hot knife through butter — everybody gets their fair share of chops, and german suplexes, and JBL gets a swan-dive headbutt, just for good measure. Only a 2 count. We go outside, where Benoit tries to break JBL’s hand against the steel steps — twice, because the first time really didn’t look that good (honestly). JBL gets thrown in the ring, and lays across the 2nd rope — which, of course, means Rey is getting tagged in. We get a 619, then a springboard splash — 1,2,3.
WINNER: Benoit, Lashley, and Rey.
Afterwards, Rey rides around on Lashley’s shoulders. Looking at it, I have to admire how many agenda points they accomplished with that match: Rey gets the pin, so he has momentum; Benoit did all the real damage, so he’s still strong; Orton didn’t get pinned, so he keeps his heat; JBL has been around long enough that the pin won’t even touch his heat; and both Lashley and Finlay were able to come out looking like tough bad-asses, without having to worry about pinfalls at all. Impressive.
Wow – just 4 matches tonight, eh? But that’s okay – plenty of character development, and some of the non-wrestling segments (like the Divas and Regal/Burchill) were entertaining enough on their own to hold up. I was amused tonight, so I give the thumbs up.