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WWE SmackDown! for 06/26/2003 (Episode 201)
(Taped 06/24/2003 in New York NY at Madison Square Garden)

Results: John Cena def. Orlando Jordan via pinfall, Farrooq, Bradshaw and The Undertaker def. Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny Stamboli via pinfall, Matt Hardy def. Rikishi via pinfall, Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero def. Sean O'Haire and Rowdy Roddy Piper via pinfall, Ultimo Dragon def. Shannon Moore via pinfall, Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas and The Big Show def. Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar and Mr. America via pinfall.

The Good: For a show with TWO six-man tag matches (you know, those RAW main-events that always put me to sleep - if you hear a strange noise in Toronto on Monday nights, it's me snoring from Bedford) it's very watchable. The Main Event was a little silly, but it felt like a main event until the finish.

The Bad: The finish of the main event puts Mr. America over everyone and introduces booking I haven't seen since before I started sleeping in Saturday mornings. (The former) Team Angle really needs a name. How about, "Team Angle?"

The Ugly: Reliving Sable's delivery of her lines while on top of Zach on the desk.

We open up with the saga of Zach Gowen - yes, including the stupid stuff with Sable. (Ugh... and she calls herself an 'actress' on her LAW liner!) Stephanie says her bit too, but the 'escort' references are left out. A six-man tag match featuring Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Kurt Angle, and Brock Lesnar (along with two guys who don't really wrestle and therefore there's no TV time spent on them and therefore you've never heard of them) will be the main event. Josh Matthews is the ring announcer tonight. Meh.

Cena comes out in his Celtics finest and promises to main-event WrestleMania XX. He calls himself the most respected SmackDown! veteran - he's won so much that the rookies call him "Navigation," because he's never lost. Orlando Jordan (trained by the Original Rock!) answers Cena's open challenge that echoes Angle's challenge that introduced Cena. Billy Kidman is shown in the audience with two babes, neither of which are Torrie. What happened with that, anyway? "My angel is the centerfold..." Cena's response to Orlando: "Yo, yo, yo, is this the best we could do?" He says he'll rip through him like Larry Byrd ripped through the Knicks.

Orlando Jordan vs. John Cena: Orlando has this cool explosiveness that I can't quantify properly because I'm the 13-year-old writer who doesn't know anything that was mentioned in Meltzer's Observer Extra this week. Hey, you gotta get your fame somehow. Anyway, towards the end, Cena takes Jordan up for the F-U, but Jordan lands on his feet. He goes up for a long-distance cross-body lateral, but Cena rolls him up on the down portion for the pin. Afterwards, he gives Jordan the F-U, but Taker comes in to spoil the party. Cena runs off, and Taker shows his respects to Jordan. Good debut. I'm also glad I didn't have to see Cena job clean to Taker so quick off the heels of a victory.

Farrooq and Bil- I mean, Bradshaw, come out to join Taker for their six-man tag. This match looks brutal on paper, but at least we get to see the entire FBI in action.

Farrooq, Bradshaw (APA), and The Undertaker vs. Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny Stamboli (FBI): Surprisingly watchable. Taker's out first with his stol- er, adapted MMA moves. It actually looks pretty good. The FBI are buzzing all over the place, tagging in and out in rapid-fire. Farrooq's turn. Ooooh - is Farrooq ever stiff on that spinebuster! The APA sure put the "Smack" in SmackDown! Now Bradshaw's out with a Last Call. He catches Nunzio in midair but gets whacked by Palumbo. Taker gives Palumbo a choke slam. Taker is tossed, but Bradshaw gives Stamboli the Clothesline From Hell for the pin.

We see the last Ultimo Dragon teaser video. We move outside to see Jamie Noble signing an autograph. Oh, it just turns out the old tourists wanted to find the subway. Ah-ha-ha-ha-ha!!! I *get* it! He's NOT AS BIG A STAR AS HE THINKS HE IS!!! HAHAHAAHA - okay, okay, I'm being too harsh. I love seeing Noble and Nidia, no matter what material they're given. Noble: "Do you know what you have there? That's a genuine ("JEN-Uuu-INE") Jamie Noble autograph..." Nidia's wearing a t-shirt that says "Sexy." You betcha! She's the best all-round female performer on SmackDown!

Anyway, an attorney approaches Noble and Noble freaks out and says that the girl back in Alabama with Monkey Pox... well, it didn't have anything to do with him! The attorney says he's just there to inform him that his Aunt Lucille has just died. Jamie says he doesn't have an Aunt Lucille. Well, apparently he does, and he's been left $827,000. Whoa! Angle changer? Mad props to WWE for taking the 30 seconds to explain it, if that's where they're going with this. Of course, this isn't the first aunt of Noble's to die - does anyone remember the SmackDown! where Noble inherits a trailer from another aunt? Noble even made the food left in the fridge seem funny!

We see the first Mania Recall moment - but this one's kind of an aimless dud. It's just some clips from WrestleMania (the first one) that everyone's seen already - which is fine, but I thought this was supposed to be a Mania *moment.* Oh well. It doesn't really matter - only the hardcore fans are left, anyway.

Sable's in the office looking at an appointment book when Vince comes in. Sable apologizes for putting Vince in that compromising position last week and goes on to say that Vince is extremely attractive (etc, etc). Vince's mind seems to be elsewhere, though. Vince tells Sable that he has things to do.

Tonight's Matt Fact: "Matt has better abs than Rikishi." Apparently this is another US Championship 1st round match. Great, but where're the brackets? It's like they're making this tourney up as they go along. Rikishi comes out and Tazz goes on the record to say that Rikishi will never be a cruiserweight.

Rikishi vs. Matt Hardy: Matt takes the Thump early on, but rolls out. Outside, he drives Kish into the post. In the ring, Rikishi gives Matt an awesome-looking sit-down-piledriver, which Matt kicks out of. The crowd likes this, and they get behind Rikishi as he goes for a Rumpshaker - but Matt gets him with the knees. Twist of Fate, but Kish gets the shoulder up. Matt undoes a turnbuckle. Shortly thereafter, he puts his back to it, and then gets out of the way when Rikishi makes a charge. Twist of Fate, and it's over. Not bad, but I'm worried that someone in the back is going, "Wow - look how much weight Matt's giving up to Rikishi! What a guy to go over!" Anyway, it's good to see him back with the heavyweights again. Ultimo, Rey, Noble, and... Kidman maybe? Maybe? (After he's recovered, of course.) They ought to be able to handle the cruiserweight division themselves for a bit. So, Matt Hardy and Chris Benoit have advanced in our Improv Tourney.

Josh Matthews interviews Billy Kidman. He says that's it really not that great to be back around the WWE because it's hard to sit and watch his friends do what he wants to be doing.

Tajiri and Eddie confront Piper and O'Haire sans low rider, which I think is a good idea because you don't want to water people down with comedy all the time.

Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper and Sean O'Haire: Mercifully, this is mostly a two-on-one. O'Haire doesn't get much chance to rest. The crowd really gets behind Eddie. The finish: Tajiri gives Piper the Green Mist and Eddie goes up and down with the Frog Splash for the victory. Not bad. SmackDown! has been good about delivering quality matches we never knew we wanted to see. =) Okay, I use that term loosely - Piper could use a few days with an ab ball. You all know what I mean.

We see some clips from last weeks WWE title match. Vince comes out and invites out two people who have had great impact on his life as of late: Zach and Stephanie. He tells Stephanie that last week's comments were still ringing in his ears, but even so, she's still, and will always be, Daddy's Little Girl. (Do you remember how Paul Heyman used to mark out for her at the table when she was co-leading The Alliance? Hilarious.) Vince gets considerable heat. Vince acknowledges that when Stephanie was 17, he asked her to "close certain business deals." He says he stole her innocence, and that it was as if "I personally deflowered you." (There's a pleasant thought.) Vince says that he'll never forgive himself for all that.

Vince turns to Zach and tells him that he taught him something about himself. Vince says he wants to be Zach Gowen because Zach has looked death in the eye - something he hasn't done. He asks Zach to accept his apology and start off on a clean slate. ("No!") "No." Vince demands he accept, but Zach stands his ground. Vince wonders if he's intimidating him. Zach says that Vince doesn't intimidate him - he's seen intimidation, and Vince isn't it. In the process, he kind of acknowledges that he's a pro wrestler. Steph looks happy with all this. Zach says that he spits on Vince's apology, but that Vince *can* offer him a SmackDown! contract. Vince gives it to him and leaves - probably forgetting about what comes next but Zach brings him back to the matter at hand by asking again if he really has the contract. Vince says he can have the contract on one condition - he has to join The Club. Augh. ("Vince pulling down his pants - automatic minus one level," says I.) Stephanie whispers something to Zach. Zach finally gets down on his knees, but gives Vince a low blow.

Rey Mysterio comes out to join Tazz and Cole at the announce table to offer some great comments during the following match:

Shannon Moore vs. Ultimo Dragon: Wooah! Pyro city! This isn't a bad match, but Moore doesn't have enough heat - I would have tossed him in with Noble because Noble's always good at getting heat on himself. Dragon exhibits some great rapid-fire foot moves, something Rey admits that he doesn't have. (Now there's a feud... oh, my eyes are WATERING just thinking about it. Enough said for now.) He gives the hapless Shannon on the outside an Asai Moonsault. Chinbuster, (awesome) inverted DDT, and Dragon wins.

The ENTIRE next segment is devoted to the entrances for our main event. Guess they've got time to fill.

Okay, everyone's in the ring and we're ready to roll. The match hasn't started and everyone's going "Hogan! Hogan!" quicker than a bunch of main-event starved Torontonians. (Cole: "Hogan's not even here!") (Crowd: "USA!") (Tazz: "But they're all Americans. I don't get it.") Mr. America want to go, but Kurt indicates that he can handle Charlie Haas.

Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and Mr. America vs. Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and The Big Show: Kurt vs. (the former) Team Angle is really crisp. The crowd screams, "Let's go Angle!" There's the great mat-style stuff that we're getting used to in 2003. (The former) Team Angle double-team-drop-kick Angle to the head in a flashy move. Lesnar comes in for his turn and shows us his power moves. (Mr. America is also in briefly, but if you blinked, you missed him.) We go to break.

We're back. This is better than last week's main event so far. Lesnar takes Haas up for the F-5, but Shelton makes the save. (The former) Team Angle double-teams Lesnar with the leapfrog onto the lower back, and then they let The Big Show in. Brock takes him up for a sort-of-suplex, but it looks like a struggle. Angle comes out and delivers Germans and Belly-to-Bellies for (the former) Team Angle. He gives a drop toe hold and applies the Ankle Lock, but Show makes the save. Lesnar flips himself and Show outside. Angle's left alone with "They Need A Name." Benjamin misses a kick, but Angle takes him down with a desperation move. Are we going to see The Big Show vs. Mr. America? Noooo... but, yes! Well, at least they saved it for when everyone was excited. Mr. America Americans up and throws the big haymakers. He goes for the Big Boot, but Show gets hung up on the ropes. Lesnar and Angle drag Show out by his feet. They get in the ring and split a simultaneous Angle Slam and a (real!) F-5 among (the former) Team Angle. Show gets back in, though, and gives them the dual choke slam? Mr. America puts Show down with the Big Boot. Vince interrupts.

Vince is dragging Zach Gowen and he tells Mr. America that he has something belonging to him. Vince wonders if there's something wrong with him and suggests a stomachache before kicking him in the gut. Show gets the comeback, choke slams Mr. America, and gets the pin. Well, it was good until the finish. Vince says that he's not quite finished and punches Zach around some more. Vince says that Zach's problem is that he wants to be a wrestler, but can't quite cut it. Stephanie comes out and puts herself between Vince and Zach. Stephanie admonishes Vince to leave him alone. Vince says that Zach can have an opportunity to win this contract, because he will team up with Stephanie in a handicap match against The Big Show. Oh, dear. We're getting into "The Chipmunks Movie" type of booking now. Here's a plot hole for you: Zach, not being under contract, doesn't have to take the match, right?

Grade (A-): The matches got it done for me this week, but they overdid it on the cheese, just like in "Weird Al" Yankovic's "A Complicated Song."

Brief claw onto the airwaves: 16:20, hour ii, 06/23/2003

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