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WWE SmackDown! for 05/01/2003
(Taped 04/29/2003 in Manchester NH at the Verizon Wireless Arena)

Results: Eddie and Chavo Guerrero def. Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore via pinfall, Big Show def. Funaki via pinfall, Chris Benoit and Johnny Stamboli wrestle to No Decision, Johnny Stamboli and Chuck Palumbo def. Chris Benoit and Rhyno via pinfall, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas def. John Walters and Eric Stevens via pinfall, Dawn Marie and Nidia def. Torrie Wilson and Sable via submission.

"Uncle Eddie and I are Olympic Gold Medallists!"
"And one more thing, Mister McMahon: 'God Bless America!'"
"When I say 'Cena,' you say -"

The Good: Los Guerreros and Team Angle stole the show (and something else!) tonight, both inside and outside of the ring. They did a little Damage Control with Lesnar and Cena in a convincing way (actually, DC is probably too easy now because no one watches the Pay-Per-Views anymore). Mr. America looks like he can be more than a disaster; it's just what a certain wrestler needed to freshen his character. Benoit and Rhyno had a pretty good match with the FBI. Brian Kendrick had one of his funniest segments yet.

The Bad: Sable's tired, worn-out shtick; Big Show's tired, worn-out shtick; and Vince's tired, worn-out shtick (underline and embolden and highlight this clause in your minds if you haven't already - but it was still funny in this one case where someone else gets the upper hand). Hey, I wonder what they're going to do with Mr. America in Halifax next week? Carl DeMarco said he'd be here! (Actually, it'll probably be the *real* Montréal Part II.) Also, it felt like there were too many tag matches, and not enough emphasis on the wrestling overall.

The Ugly (besides Sable): The General Managers have no authority this week! Linda McMahon overrules Eric Bischoff on RAW while Vince McMahon overrules Stephanie McMahon on SmackDown! What's the point of having GMs? Aren't they, like, in charge?


After the WWE signature, the show opens up with the end of the Rey Mysterio v Big Show match at Backlash where BS kindly slaps Rey into the ring post while he's still tied to his boogie board. The intro video airs, and when they pan the crowd you can see the top part of a "Bring Back Paul Heyman" sign if you keep your eyes open. That'll save me from making one next week. Cole and Tazz promise an update on Rey's condition, a Divas tag match featuring Torrie Wilson and Sable v Dawn Marie and Nidia, and a "special edition" of Piper's Pit with a special guest - it's going to be the VERY FIRST appearance of Mr. America!

Los Guerreros come out still carrying the tag belts (good for them!), though they are not introduced as champions. They air the end of the Backlash match with Benjamin holding down Chavo's feet as Haas gets the pin, then the top rope spot with Chavo landing on Team Angle and the poster, and then the theft of the titles. If you didn't see Backlash, know that the La Cucaracha horn bit ruled - our whole bar went nuts. Out come Matt Hardy, Shannon Moore, and Crash Holly. (Today's Matt Facts are fairly mediocre: "Have you read Matt's new book?" "Matt Hardy invented Mattitude") Cole and Tazz talk about Crash being a Moore-on while he's in training, and Cole says that Tazz would know a lot about being a moron. Tazz gets him back by saying that Cole should be "worried about what he's going to say when he finds out." Who? "Enrique Iglesias when he finds out you got his dry cleaning. You got his damn shirt on!"

Eddie and Chavo Guerrero v Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore: Eddie and Moore hook up, then Eddie tags Chavo in right away, then Eddie's in, then Chavo's in... some double-teaming with kicks, and a roll-up. The ref misses a tag to Chavo, forcing Eddie to take care of Shannon until Shannon kicks Eddie to the ropes where Crash, reading The Book, hits him from behind. Shannon tags out, and Matt chokes Eddie on the ropes and does the leap down onto his neck, then gets him in a Full Nelson. It's mentioned that Crash is a vegetarian, and Cole asks, "So he doesn't eat meat?" Tazz: "I don't say that Crash don't eat no meat. He tosses salad. ... Shannon's not into tomatoes... they love cucumbers." UPN let this slide? Crazy. I mean, we're getting into Chris Rock humour here. Eddie tags Chavo, but the ref doesn't see it and Matt and Shannon double team Eddie until Chavo just goes berserk and knocks everyone down - he knocks Crash off the apron and jumps down on him from above. Eddie comes out and gets a Hurricarana on Matt but Matt kicks out. Eddie goes for the suplex, but Shannon gets Matt out of that predicament. Shannon takes Eddie for a Samoan Drop with a Neckbreaker but Eddie kicks out. Chavo finally gets Matt at the ropes with the belt and Eddie gets the (cool version of the) Frog Splash and gets the pin on Matt. Good match to start the show. Lightning quick (maybe even too quick).

Cole and Tazz make a big deal out of Los Guerreros carrying "gold that doesn't belong to them." Shannon and Crash attack but Eddie and Chavo toss them out in short order. Team Angle comes out and they literally try to pry the belts from the Guerreros' grip, but they hit the floor as well. The Guerreros leave a livid Team Angle in the ring.

They show Mr. America's locker room door, and we go to break. We come back with Stephanie McMahon stepping up to Mr. America's locker room, but good 'ol Josh Matthews (I guess he finally freed himself from the Sable-freeze <sigh>) interrupts and asks her who Mr. America is, for the benefit of the 3 wrestling fans who don't subscribe to Meltzer's newsletter and/or live in a hunting shack in the Cape Breton Highlands. Steph says she doesn't know who he is, and that she signed Mr. America "sight unseen." (just like Steiner!) Steph's going to open the door but Team Angle interrupt and ask Stephanie to make the Guerreros give them back the belts. They say that Kurt will be really mad if they don't get the belts back. Steph says that that Team Angle should have known better - "that's what the Guerreros do; they lie, cheat, and steal." She says that after Team Angle has their match, Los Guerreros *will* return the tag team titles - HOWEVER, since Los Guerreros don't seem to be the only ones who cheat, at Judgement Day there will be a REMATCH: Team Angle v Los Guerreros, in a LADDER MATCH!! Holy s**t, we have a reason to order Judgement Day 4 days after Backlash. This match has five-stars written all over it, and I hope it's as good as the Eddie Guerrero v Rob Van Dam Ladder Match on the RAW from Edmonton a while back - you know, the one where the drunk Oilers fan runs into the ring and Eddie lays him out? Awesome match. A ladder match needs to be a special treat, something we ought not to see more than once or twice in a calendar year. Here we need something to spice up the two bland PPVs in a row (more now, since we don't have King of the Ring to break up the spring anymore).

Cole and Tazz give a (I hope worked) update on Rey Mysterio. He's still with doctors, still in testing. Apparently he may have nerve damage (What? I thought it was a wrist injury. Meltzer steers us wrong once again! j/k). Guys, if you're making this up, this ain't funny. Just have Mysterio off TV for a few weeks while you show the footage of the stupidest spot in the history of- nah, there must be something worse. Anyway, keep him off, show the footage - we'll get the idea. Don't lie to us when we know the truth. They show Rey's 619 on BS again, then BS hunting Rey last week where Rey gets BS from behind, then they show the clips from Backwash again. Tired of this yet? We go to break with Stephanie coming out of the Mr. America locker room, and she looks sad, really sad. (Gee, maybe it's NOT Hogan. Oh, wait, she was SAD.) My artificial hypothesis (not my gut feeling that says that we were all wrong all this time - it would be a hilarious joke on the internet smarks if they did something like that) is that Mr. America isn't there.

We come back with the Mr. America video with JFK and the soldiers. The narrator says, "The fighting spirit of America," and in the background an entire island blows up; amusing, anyway. BS comes out to limited reaction. We see backstage footage from Backwash where they take Mysterio into the ambulance. (They really want us to be outraged by this, don't they? I'm not outraged so much as bewildered.) Tazz says that as a former wrester, he's been in his share of ambulances, and he says, "Don't break the code of the locker room." BS rags on Mysterio and how all he ever hears is, "Pick on someone your own size - Well, there is no one my size!" He says he's going to pick his opponent for tonight - Funaki!? Oh, Lord. This is just plain insulting.

Funaki v Big Show: Funaki goes for BS right away with a kick to the knee and then some ineffectual slaps, but BS lays him out, tosses him into the corner, and starts with the punch-downs. BS picks Funaki up for a flip, and then Funaki sort of slips himself out of the ring. BS gets out of the ring and goes around the corner to where Funaki is laid out in front of the announce table. BS picks him up and teases a throw to the announce table, then drops him in the ring. Cole: "With ease." Me: "With carelessness." BS goes back around the corner and starts to get back in ring, but Funaki gets his leg at the ropes and gives him the crotch blow with the top rope, then goes up for a drop kick. BS charges into the corner and misses Funaki. Funaki leaps down on him and goes for the pin, but BS kicks out. Funaki gives a shot to the side of BS,  but BS gets Funaki with a boot to the face. BS goes for the pin but refuses, and BS picks him up and goes for the chokeslam (poor Funaki!) but then decides to set him on his feet - when he promptly clotheslines him and gets the quick pin.

We go back to Stephanie's office where she's staring blankly into her Hewlett-Packard laptop. There's a knock and someone comes in - one of the backstage/tech guys. "Jason" wants to make sure she's okay, and Stephanie says she just needs a few minutes alone. Jason tells her that they just took a call in the production office - her father is on his way to the arena. He leaves her alone. Stephanie looks really mystified - she's no Joanie Laurier, but she can act.

During the break, The Score airs the News Conference Ad which is remarkable because said New Conference already happened EARLIER TODAY... Sheesh! Coming back, they put over Backlash and WWE.COM while Tazz barks along to Cold. They put over the upcoming Divas match. We go to BS backstage where he's walking around being a cocky ass. He eyes Tajiri, Noble, Nidia, and then he runs into A-Train, who says that, no matter what the rest of the locker room thinks, what he did to Mysterio was great. (And I think shaving train tracks on your back would be great, Albert. Choo-choo!) Cena comes out to rap wearing a New York Mets jersey, and he's clever as usual. There's a few signs that say, "Hey Cena, pull up your pants." "I won that match... Brock was tapping to my headlock / I beat Brock like the Mets beat the Red Sox ... The ref was my downfall / missing calls like Bill Butler misses ground balls ... Not only did I beat Brock, I made him quit / and I got no respect for that piece of -" I love it when the end rhyme is a swear word, because Cena really looks like he knows what he's doing when he raises his elbow and mic into the air to let the crowd finish the line. Anyway, out comes Brian Kendrick wearing a kitchen clock and acting like Cena, "Yo yo yo," and all that - his rap wasn't as good as Cena's, but the crowd cheered for him and he put a lot into what he did say. He calls himself "Spanky," and Cena asks what he wants? Well, Kendrick heard Cena's lies, so he came out with a rap of his own, but he needs a beat before he can lay it out. Cena starts saying, "Yo, white boy, c'mere..." and it turns out he's calling out Brian Hebner, a referee, to give him a beat. He starts making noises into the mic, and I've heard worse, so it's fine. Kendrick's pseudo-rap tells Cena that he's telling the people a bunch of crap, and that he got beat by Brock. It's hard to hear the rap in detail over the beat - that aspect of it is a little over the top. Then Kendrick starts doing the "wave your arms in the air" thing, and then he gets to "like you just don't care" and in that very instant I think half the people stopped waving. The whole bit was unabashedly lame, but it had its funny moments. The best part comes when Kendrick starts saying, "When I say 'Cena,' you say 'sucks!' Cena - (sucks!) Cena - (sucks!)" A common chant, but he performed it very well. Kendrick goes, "Cut the breaks, bring it down for a second." Then he starts making fun of Cena's haircut by spinning an air turntable over his head while Brian Hebner supplied the record noise. Now *this* was *very* funny. Cena's expression was priceless. He wasn't really amused, though, and he eventually lays out Kendrick with a clothesline, then he rips off Kendrick's shirt and takes him for the F-U (now *that's* clever - an awesome way to help build a feud is parodying other people's moves!). Cena leaves Kendrick behind in the ring.

We go to the FBI in the back playing craps with a WWE-shirted employee or something. He's asked if he wants to go double or nothing, but he says he's now broke. The FBI talks about how they handled Jones and The Undertaker in like fashion ("That chair fit his head like a hat."). The black-shirt asks Nunzio to sign his WWE Yearbook, and the FBI says, fine, but what does he have in return? He has nothing, so they just push him out and start getting ready for their match.

We come back with the putting over of Piper's Pit. Chris Benoit enters - wow, he sure got to Manchester NH pretty quick from Halifax NS this "Thursday" (hahaha just a cheap joke - actually, today he autographed a short story I wrote in my University's annual anthology). Here come the FBI, and Johnny "The Bull" Stamboli is wrestling tonight. Cole says their hit list is rolling along (Taker, Jones, Benoit).

Chris Benoit v Johnny Stamboli: Benoit gets the early strikes on Stamboli, Benoit takes out Palumbo on the outside, then he takes Stamboli outside and gets back in the ring himself. Nunzio (on the outside at another side) feigns to go after him but jumps back. Back to Benoit and Stamboli, and Benoit starts heaving some chops onto Stamboli in the corner. Stamboli sells the punches well. Benoit chases Nunzio around the outside, then knocks down Palumbo and gets back in the ring and Stamboli gets the attacks. Benoit in the corner, now Stamboli clotheslines and kicks him down. Nunzio and Palumbo restrain him in the corner. Stamboli takes him to the middle and goes for the Press Slam, but Benoit counters with and applies the Crippler Cross-face, but Stamboli gets to the ropes. Stamboli gets the upper hand and goes for the pin, but Benoit kicks out. Nunzio and Stamboli are on the outside waving trying to get the fans over the top while Benoit's in a hold which he powers out of, then gets up and takes Stamboli down, but Stamboli kicks out. Stamboli gets back on the attack. Benoit gets into the corner, and gets the shot in the face, but Benoit gets off a blow to the back and gets Stamboli clotheslined and suplexed and goes for pin, but Stamboli kicks out. Benoit takes him for a German, and makes the cross-face gesture. He drives Palumbo and Nunzio away, and he dives down on Stamboli off the top rope. Nunzio comes in with the chair, but the ref halts him and -Rhyno- appears and lays him out and keeps Palumbo at bay. All of the FBI are outside the ring. The ref tells the ring announcer that the match will continue as a tag match, and we go to commercial break.

Chris Benoit and Rhyno v Johnny Stamboli and Chuck Palumbo: We come back with Rhyno and Palumbo going back and forth in the corners (Rhyno getting some shoulder shots into Palumbo's gut). Palumbo comes back and tags Stamboli back in, and Rhyno knocks him down and takes Stamboli into the corner for some shots. Nunzio is still out on the outside from the (almost forgotten) Gore. Rhyno goes for a cover but Stamboli kicks out, so Rhyno tags in Benoit and they double team him, but the ref didn't see the tag (that seems to be a recurring theme tonight). Rhyno stays in and gets "whacked" big by Palumbo. Stamboli goes for the pin but Rhyno kicks out. Palumbo starts driving his shoulder into Rhyno's lower back. Nunzio is stirring now. Palumbo gets a good blow and takes Rhyno for a suplex and pin cover, but Benoit interrupts. Palumbo drags Rhyno to the corner and tags in Stamboli. Stamboli goes and tosses Rhyno out, and Palumbo drives him into the wall and puts him back in the ring. Stamboli goes for the pin, but Rhyno still kicks out. Stamboli gets the Bear Hug going, and the crowd comes a little more alive. Rhyno stumbles back to the ropes, but Stamboli strikes again with the Bear Hug. Rhyno is fading out, but he gets up and starts again with punches to Stamboli. Rhyno gets him down, but Palumbo hits Rhyno from behind. Stamboli tags out and Palumbo gets in and gives Rhyno a right shot, he takes Rhyno to the ropes but Rhyno gets the spine buster. They're both down in the middle, and Rhyno gets to Benoit first, and Benoit clotheslines Palumbo, and Stamboli who tries to interfere. Benoit gets the German on Palumbo and stacks him down but he doesn't get the pin. A complicated finish; what happened is that the count was interrupted by Rhyno goring Stamboli, who fell against the referee. At the same time, Nunzio assisted Palumbo by right-siding him, and Palumbo gets Benoit by pinfall. "The FBI: Strength in Numbers"

We see Stephanie outside leaving a message for her dad through her cell phone. She tells Vince that he has "no reason to come." Lesnar gets out of his Hummer in the background, and Stephanie tells him that he's not actually supposed to be there, since he has the night off. Brock says he realizes that, but there is something he has to do. He walks off into the arena while Stephanie anxiously taps her cell phone into her hand. We go to break.

HEY, WE'RE ON THE SMACKDOWN! CALENDAR! That's just freaking awesome, and they're not doing that lame (for example) "Sydney, NS, Canada" thing - they just stop at the "NS" like everyone ought to. Don't get me wrong, we're proud enough to be Canadian. But saying "comma, Canada" makes us feel like our cities and provinces are different somehow from their American counterparts. Anyway, when's the last time we had WWF/E events going on in Sydney and Halifax simultaneously? WWE's quarterly losses are our gain!

We come back to a Kurt Angle "Life's True Champion" video. There's nothing in it I don't know already, but it's nice to see. It mentions the neck injury (and they seem to like attributing a "second broken neck" to Lesnar - which is sort of an exaggeration because he was hurt before he went into the match ... and WWE never really mentioned that on Confidential, did they? I thought Confidential was supposed to be legit or something. <sigh>) and the narrator says that Kurt will overcome all this and make his triumphant return. Gee, too bad Kurt didn't have U2 like Triple H. (j/k)

Brock comes out wearing his t-shirt and the belt. He places the belt in front of him on the mat, does his dance and climb and PYRO! and gets in the ring. A sign says, "Brock... No Gimmicks... Just Pain." Brock picks up a mic, with the crowd going "Brock Brock Brock" for a few seconds. It's not a Hogan pop, but it's cool. Brock talks about his fight with Cena and gives kudos to him for one hell of a fight - but he's really here to talk about something from Backlash that really disturbed him. He's looking for another right (BS, perhaps? Mmm-yheup.). Lesnar says that what BS did to Rey was "gutless," and he asks, "Why? Did it make you feel better? ... like a bigger human being or a bigger giant? ... Or because Mysterio had a bigger heart? ... You can come bully anyone you want, but I ain't standing for it. ... Why don't you bring your big giant slobbery ass down to this ring and try to bully Brock Lesnar!" and of course the BS video comes on and he comes out with a mic. BS is upset about being called a bully, since Mysterio simply got what he deserved for humiliating him. BS says he'll beat Lesnar's ass like he did at Survivor Series 2002, and that he's not stepping in the ring until the belt is on the line. Lesnar asks, "You want this title? Come and get it!" BS doesn't budge, but says "You're on! ... but not tonight." The crowd boos a bit (or is it sweetened booos?), and I wonder why? I mean, hey guys, count your blessings. If you want that match, you'll have to give up something else.

All this grandstanding sets up the Lesnar / BS angle well, but whether or not the match should be happening at all is another question entirely. We shouldn't worry, though, because we have a Los Guerreros ladder match at Judgement Day that would make even crap-taculars like Armageddon 2002 watchable. It would also be a great angle for which to reintroduce Paul Heyman - to say nothing of his booking, I miss his on-screen presence. But that probably won't happen.

We go to commercial break and come back with a Mr. America video (the Martin Luther King Jr., Regan, Berlin, Apollo 11, and Bush one). Mr. America is indeed coming tonight. But aren't masked wrestlers supposed to be able to wrestle? They put over the arena and Tazz goes: "Can you hear me now?" Back inside, TA comes out with Kurt's portrait and lots of "you sucks." Despite not carrying the belts, they are identified as being the tag champs.

Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas v John Walters and Eric Stevens: Haas and Eric Stevens start off. Stevens catches Haas off-guard and almost gets a pin, but Haas gets out. Shelton tags in, then they do a great double-team spot with one leaping over the other onto Stevens who is horizontally suspended behind the top rope. Stevens gets in the corner and tags in Walters (give these guys nicknames already!). Benjamin tags in Haas. Walters gets taken down in the corner in reach of Stevens. Shelton gets off the atomic drop into a kick. Shelton and Haas tag and double team Stevens, Hass gets Stevens' shoulders down for the pin.

Walters comes in and starts punching Shelton, but Shelton gives him the heave-ho. Haas gets on the mic and says that while stealing may be a family tradition, Team Angle's tradition is winning. Since Los Guerreros have to give them back the titles, they want them to come down and do that. Out come Los Guerreros, Chavo pointing at them and the title in a "you mean us?" sort of manner, which looked pretty cool. Eddie takes both belts and climbs the steps while Chavo ties his bootlaces. Eddie walks into the corner and picks up a mic, and he hands the other belt back to Chavo. Eddie starts his speech in a most unusual tone: "We came out to tell you that what we did was wrong... we really feel bad about this... we're sorry, man... we promise never to steal anything of yours again... it's true, it's true..." (all of this was said very seriously, which made it a hundred times funnier) Eddie lays down his belt, and Chavo hesitates, but also lays down the belt. Haas tells the Guerreros to back off and Team Angle swipe up the titles and hold them up and cheer and the music plays while Los Guerreros take off. What? They didn't booby-trap the belts or something (actually, they did two better than that)? Haas gets back on the mic and taunts Los Guerreros, saying that they ought to take a good look, because they'll never win the titles again. "We'll win the match like we did at Backlash because we are WWE tag team champions." Chavo: "You may be the tag champs... but Uncle Eddie and I are Olympic Gold Medallists." Yessssssss, it's just what you thought. This is great, really. Haas and Benjamin start freaking out. Chavo takes a medal in his teeth as Team Angle argues in front of the Angle portrait. Ah, watching Eddie say "what we did was wrong" was priceless.

We go backstage where Torrie is stretching. Sable comes in and lays her hand on Torrie's shoulder. Torrie tells Sable to get her hand off. Sable asks if she is ready for the upcoming match. Torrie says she didn't appreciate the lies and whatnot at Backwash, and also says that she can't trust and doesn't want to tag with Sable. Sable says "like it or not we're partners," and that they could be great partners as long as Torrie's willing to play with her. If she doesn't want to play, "last week" was a taste of what Sable can do if she doesn't get what she wants. Sable hopes they get along since they play for the same team. Wow, I think they're going to go "all the way" with this. But isn't this stuff better left for Saturday nights on TQS? (You Americans don't know what you're missing.)

We come back with Tazz and Cole putting over Piper's Pit. It's time for the Divas tag match. Nidia, Jamie Noble, and Dawn Marie all come out to Noble's music (if this speeds things up and keeps people closer together in out minds, go for it; I swear it took 10 minutes for everyone in the main-event tag at Backlash just to be introduced). Torrie comes out by herself, "a very confused Playboy cover girl." Sable saunters out, and while she's climbing the steps, Dawn and Nidia double team Torrie.

Dawn Marie and Nidia v Torrie Wilson and Sable: We start off with Nidia and Torrie. Nidia gets off a suplex and elbow and she goes for cover but Torrie kicks out. Torrie gets the Neckbreaker and goes for the pin, but Dawn interrupts the count. Another cover by Nidia, Torrie kicks out. Torrie takes Nidia into the corner, and she's about to lay her out but Dawn distracts and they get her hamstring. Torrie's down and Nidia attacks with kicks to the hamstring. She drags Torrie to the corner, and Dawn tags in. Dawn comes down from the second rope and works on her legs. Cole notices Dawn's (somewhat see-through) wrestling gear. Dawn gives Torrie a full-body slam, and then goes to the second rope again, but Torrie crawls away and Dawn eats the mat. Torrie crawls over to tag Sable, but Sable is more lackadaisical than Kevin Nash (but this time on purpose). Nidia joins in and holds Torrie back from her corner. The crowd is starting to boo Sable as she simply walks down the steps and up the ramp leaving Torrie by herself. Dawn gets tagged in and face plants Torrie and pulls her leg back and over, and Torrie taps out.

Noble and Nidia and Dawn celebrate in the ring. Torrie and Sable look at each other. Torrie mouths "bitch" a few times. Outside, Steph's on the phone leaving a message about her previous messages, saying that she'll order some food and they'll meet at the hotel, but a limo pulls up and Vince gets out. Stephanie tells her dad that he doesn't have to go in the arena, and that he shouldn't want to bother seeing Mr. America, but Vince is too enthusiastic to "meet this guy," and he won't be dissuaded. Oh, now I get it, Vince fired Hogan, so he'd be pissed to see Hogan on SmackDown! again. Vince goes into the arena over Stephanie's protests. We go to break.

Mark Lloyd ("Coach! You got smaller, and you got white!") is STILL talking about Chris Benoit and Al Snow at the World Trade Centre (our, slightly smaller, edition - Al Snow couldn't make it, by the way), and I'm really wondering why they're using their valuable TV time to advertise things that have already happened.

Back with Piper's Pit. Out come Rowdy Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire. Piper mentions Chris Jericho's new show from "last week" (THIS week, THIS week) and starts ragging on Jericho. Piper takes being called 'fat' personally: "When I loose weight, I'll call you; when you get some talent, you call me!" He puts over O'Haire who beat Rikishi at Backlash. "We have somebody I am actually quite excited to meet. I'm going to let this guy debut on Piper's Pit. Please welcome... Mr. America!" Sure enough, "Real American" plays, and Mr. America comes out. It's beyond obvious that it's Hogan, but it's surprisingly comical. Crowd is fired up. Mr. America's pythons are red, white, and blue; his mask is blue like Sharkboy's, but American, not fishy; his belt says "Mr. America" - funny. He rips his shirt in the ring, too. Okay, at least they're not trying to birdseed us. Piper is heated up. Crowd tries to go "Hogan Hogan" but dies very quickly. Piper: "Alright, everyone out of the pool... This is not the country of stupidity, you are not Mr. America, you are simply Hulk Hogan! I know for a fact..." Okay, now the "Hogan" chants take off. They had me worried there for a second. It still doesn't last super-long, though. "Let me tell you something, Brother. That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, dude. ... If you every bad mouth this country again, I'll be happy to kick your ass from sea to shining sea, dude." Some muddled "U-S-A" chants pick up. "I am freedom... I am justice... I am not Hulk Hogan, Brother." It's just funny to hear him say that. Out comes Vince. It would be funny if he wasn't in on the joke and didn't see that Mr. America was Hogan and then saved the confrontation until Mr. America's unmasking, but they're too sophisticated for that. "How dare you..." Vince begins. Yeah, he's mad. "How dare you, Hogan?" "Asshole" chants take off. "I suspended you indefinitely... I ordered you to go home! (Vince, dude, this is pro WRESTLING - nobody obeys orders or stips) "I wanted you to rot... How dare you, yet you show up in my ring, on my show..." (I thought this was Steph's show?) Vince says he's sending Hogan back home, courtesy of Vince, along with Mr. America's own institution - with a big fat lawsuit (for breach of contract). "You know something, it sounds like Hulk Hogan gave you brain damage at WrestleMania. I am not Hulk Hogan, I am Mr. America! Just ask all these AmericanManiacs!" "U-S-A" chants take off slightly. Vince: "You're insulting my intelligence... Wait, you're right, you're not Hulk Hogan, you are - You're Mr. America. So, I'm sure that Mr. America has just signed a contract... Since I'm the Chairman, I want you to read my lips. *You're FIRED*." This is where Steph should come out and say, "F**k you, Dad, this is *my* show," and then have Vince committed. That would be an awesome angle! Anyhow... Mr. America: "I didn't sign with you, I signed with Stephanie... an iron-clad contract that says Mr. America can't be fired or suspended!" There's nothing Vince can do about it. "And one more thing, Mr. McMahon: 'God bless America!'" "U-S-A" takes off and dies. Mr. McMahon: "I'm going to prove that you ARE Hulk Hogan! I'm going to rip that mask right off your face... Or, *we're* going to rip..." Piper and O'Haire move in. Mr. America: "Let me ask a question: Whatcha' gonna do when the 24-inch Patriots run wild on yoouuu?" O'Haire restrains Mr. America for a moment, but Mr. America lays out Mr. McMahon and goes up the ramp waving the American flag while red, white, and blue confetti rains down from the ceiling. Vince doesn't look pleased. Mr. America mounts the flag in his belt buckle then takes it out and waves it again, and the copyright banner and signature show.

RAW versus SmackDown!: I'm going to give RAW the slight edge this week. The damage control with Steiner impressed me to no end, and the show was overall fresher and more entertaining - new things were happening, and I thought it could go anywhere. Tonight's SmackDown! had some good and sometimes great stuff in it, but most of it I could see coming a mile away.

Grade: (B+) An entertaining show with a few good matches and a promise of more, but also reminders of a few matches we didn't want to see and a promise of more. Big Show brought the show down a bit, but Los Guerreros and Team Angle took it way up, and Mr. America was actually kind of amusing and I want to see more. Effort shines through all this tonight; you can see that they're trying to make this show a successful product (though too often in spite of the booking rather than with it). There were some good matches, but you might not remember them by the weekend.

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