SmackDown! report for 07/10/2003
(Taped 07/08/2003 in Toronto ON at the Air Canada Centre)
Results: 1) Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio def. Doug and Danny Basham, the APA, the FBI, the IRS, UPN, and the AARP in a Fatal-Four-Way tag match to become the number one contenders for the WWE Tag Team Championship. 2) Chris Benoit and Rhyno def. Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore. 3) Eddie Guerrero def. Ultimo Dragon to advance in the WWE(WCW) United States Championship tournament. 4) Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson def. Jamie Noble and Nidia. 5) The Big Show and The World's Greatest Tag Team def. Brock Lesnar.
Good: Kurt being his corny self can be funnier than Rikishi trying to be cool in front of the untouchable John Cena. The booking in the opening tag match let APA brawl around while letting Rey and Billy show us some good Cruiserweight-ish action. Eddie looks set for a singles run. Lesnar delivers a credible main event.
Less Good: Lots of Vince, and there'll be lots more at Vengeance - and if Vince vs. Zach Gowen isn't your thing (that match *can* be entertaining, I just think Zach ought to be feuding with a guy on the regular roster), there's Stephanie vs. Sable. A lot of people were probably thinking that Vengeance would be super since it's just SmackDown! (the wrestling show) talent, but there are a lot of important people not on the card quite yet. Stephanie's character seems to have no authority over her show and there's really not much point of her being there anymore. The brackets for the WWE(WCW) United States Championship tournament still have that "Pat Patterson in Rio" feel, especially since the quarterfinals aren't shown on it.
What's interesting about this report is that at least half the people reading this probably saw this show live on Tuesday.
Angle comes out to a big pop. He says he'll win back the title at Vengeance. He promises gold around his waist on his next visit to Toronto. Cena comes out to another pop. Cena says that Angle's forgetting about him and his match with The Undertaker, which he says ought to be the real main event. Angle says that he's finally found someone whiter than himself, and adds that he's multi-talented: he can do Greco-Roman, Amateur, and sometimes he likes to kick it freestyle. He snatches Cena's hat and puts it on himself. Cena accuses Angle of being a wannabe Kojack. Angle doesn't know what he just said, but he gets Brian Hebner to come up and lay down the beat. Angle raps, and his punchline is, "I may suck, but you just blow." Cena says that's pretty foul. ("Angle! Angle!") "Shut up! ... Obviously, you never majored in Thugenomics." Angle hugs Cena. Cena can't see why, and Angle says that he obviously didn't major in Hugenomics. (Angle's a good verbal foil for Cena at least partly because Cena is cool by default while Angle is corny by default and they play to each other's strengths.) The Big Show interrupts the repartee; as he approaches, Cena levels Angle, gives him the F-U, and then Show gives Angle a choke slam lite.
In a number one contender fatal four-way tag match, we're going to see the FBI vs. The Bashams vs. The APA vs. Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio. Actually, this turns out to be pretty watchable. In the match, Kidman tags himself in to replace Bradshaw, who nails him. Mysterio has his share of medium-high spots, including a seated Swanton on ... a Basham. Can they like, um, let one of the 'brothers' grow long hair or something? Stamboli gives Mysterio a press slam. The FBI and APA brawl their way up the ramp and out of the contest, which is wise. Mysterio gets a rolling Swanton on Doug. We go to break, and come back to footage of the FBI and APA taking their (slick-looking, I shall admit) brawl to the locker room where the APA go over the FBI and Kanyon and anyone else unfortunate enough to be around. Nunzio, bless him, comes in and whacks them both with a chair. Back in the match, Kidman gets off some slick drop kicks on the Bashams, and a quick bulldog, but the Basham counters and hooks the leg - Kidman kicks out. Kidman counters his way out of a power bomb and drags Doug to the corner to set up the Shooting Star Press. (See, Brock? Well, at least you know for next time.) Danny interferes, and Doug goes up to tease the Superplex but Billy gets him back down and does the SSP. Danny makes the save from a pinfall. Kidman kicks out of an inverted DDP. Rey goes up and down and finishes with a 619 and a leg drop. Not bad. This match is this first time I've been really interested in Kidman in a long while.
Angle's backstage with the trainer, selling the choke slam with a big pack of ice. Brock comes in and asks what happened. Angle asks where Brock was. Brock sympathizes and says that he needs more ice because his head is swollen. Brock says he couldn't help because he just got in. Angle's sceptical, but Brock wonders, if he can't handle Show alone, how is he going to handle Show and himself at Vengeance? Angle says that he wasn't the one who lost to Show. Brock says that they'll beat Show. Angle says that "we" isn't going to happen. Brock calls for the trainer again and takes off.
Vince Carter's at ringside. They show Zach's match with Show in its entirety. Isn't that what Afterburn is for? I don't mind seeing it again, though. I just cringe every time I see Zach take a bump (of course, I cringe when all the wrestlers do painful things, but this guy has one leg). I wonder just how much of his selling is selling if you gather me. In the ring, when people do power moves on him, he flops around like a dishrag and it's painful to remember that he is a human being.
They've finally changed the Alberta house show ads to advertise only Vince. Stephanie presents Zach with a clipboard. Zach thanks us for our support and signs the contract. I can't enjoy the moment because I just know that Vince is goin- Yep. He says that we're all proud of the two of them, and why wouldn't a father be proud of a daughter who slapped him in the face? Stephanie retorts with, "Why wouldn't a daughter be proud of a father who slaps a reporter's papers out of his hand?" Okay, I'm probably making that up. Vince announces that he's going to do all he can to make Zach's life tough. Why can't a *wrestler* come out here and say he's going to make Zach's life tough? A wrestler could easily slip into an angle where he can accuse Zach of getting into WWE just because he's "special." Give Chris Benoit a heel turn and have him terrorize Zach, I don't care - just quit it with these stupid "in trouble with the administration" angles because they're about as over as my "S-T-U-D-Y Hard At S-M-U!" chant during Frosh Week and the most we get out of them is a chance to yell "Asshole!" at certain presidents of publicly-traded companies.
Now, to make sure I'm differentiating properly between Vince McMahon Jr. and "Mr. McMahon," I will tell you that I get equally frustrated when I see wrestlers get bogged down in stupid pointless angles with Bischoff / Austin. Let's just put a bunch of managers in here and maybe a commissioner on top... preferably someone cool like William Regal who has an established character that doesn't stand for nonsense from anyone. Bring Heyman back to manage ... you know what, have him manage Triple H! For a heel who's on top, he needs to be *scary;* he needs to inspire dread on more than just the basis of, "it's HHH, so of course he's going to win."
Well, even Dave Meltzer could talk about stuff like this (and he'd do it with more authority and intelligence, says this thirteen-year-old reviewer) until he's blue in the face and it wouldn't change anything. So Vince announces that (Okay, here's *another* point. Stephanie as GM has been just a figurehead lately, so what's the point of having the position at all? On the other side, Linda can just go and dump Austin in to be a co-GM... Of course, the worst part of all this is *no one cares!* Nobody goes to the water cooler the day after a PPV and says, "Wow, that Redneck Triathlon sure kept me glued to my seat! Or maybe it was spilled beer and sweat." No, they talk about Angle, Benoit, Eddie, Mysterio, Jericho... for ____ sake, let these guys DRAW! No one's watching but us hardcore fans who know not to get excited for Vince or Hogan highlighting a show, so how are you going to get a buy rate that way? Yes, I'm frustrated! These guys are worse than the Maple Leafs brass! You can keep watching, you can keep shouting, but nothing's going to change until Vince slips in the shower again and changes the nature of the business like he did with Attitude.
This particular SmackDown! isn't a bad show, but what they're setting up for Vengeance kind of demonstrates the chronic problems - like the fact that I progressively have fewer and fewer friends to talk wrestling with because they stop watching one by one. Anyway, maybe wrestling will be cool again like it was before Survivor Series 2001. Heck, at Unforgiven 2001 the bar was packed and people were explaining the whole "Moppy2Hotty" angle to me without being asked. Anyway, this isn't my job - not that I mind going off-topic, but doing so kind of exposes my ignorance.
Vince announces that tonight there will be a special handicap match: Lesnar vs. Shelton Benjamin, Charlie Haas, and The Big Show. ("You suck!") "You are now officially a superstar..." (That was fast. "Hey Kanyon, you're a superstar! I know! Crazy, huh?"), he says, but the bad news is that he now works for Vince. There are probably too many wrestlers who feel that way (though many don't - mad props to the guys who are professional enough to keep their heads held high for years on end; they're really important). Blah blah, do as I say, or you're fired - you know the routine. "I'm ordering you to hobble all the way to Denver." (This probably isn't a real order, but it could be kind of awe-inspiring to see clips of Zach walking from Toronto to Denver up to the night of the PPV.) Zach's match there will be a one-on-one with Vince. Vince says that he's considering having an arm tied behind his back, or hobbling around on one leg... he might even consider wearing a blindfold. (Uh-oh!) ("Asshole!") Vince says Zach will rue the day he signed into WWE; he may have survived cancer, but he won't survive Vince McMahon. Sable smacks Stephanie with the clipboard and the Bad Guys leave.
Vince and Sable are interacting backstage. Stephanie gores Sable over the couch and they scream and yell a bit and Vince gets Stephanie forcibly removed - yep, that's our General Manager. Right there. Still has to answer to her Daddy. (Maybe they'll put her on RAW after she marries Triple H so Jericho can make fun of her.) Guess what? Stephanie vs. Sable for Vengeance! I know! Those other Divas - Trish, Torrie, Nidia - they *pale* in comparison to these two! This'll be a match of the year candidate for sure. Totally Flair / Steamboat. Say what you will about the Vengeance card, but you can surely see as well as I can that it does a great job of showing off SmackDown!'s true talent.
And here's Matt Hardy. See, case in point - he's got nothing lined up for him yet. Tonight's Matt Fact: Matt lost his virginity at age 17. Good for him. (If there's ever been any doubt that wrestlers are superior to those who write about wrestling...) Matt has never had earrings. Benoit will be facing Matt next week in a semi-finals match for the United States Championship. Is my memory fogged - I can't remember who Matt beat to get that far.
Chris Benoit and Rhyno vs. Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore: Rhyno and Moore hook up to start. Later, Matt gets off a Side Effect on Rhyno, but Benoit makes the save. Shannon finds the Swinging Neck Breaker on Rhyno, but Rhyno kicks out. Rhyno plants Moore into the turnbuckle and then crawls toward Benoit. Benoit gives snap suplexes to both opponents - cover, and Moore kicks out. Benoit finds German Suplexes for both, and Wolverines are gonna fly! Benoit lands a loooooong flying head butt - like from Union Station to Markham. It was long. Matt finds a Twist of Fate with the ref turned, and Rhyno finds Matt with the Gore. Moore crawls toward and covers Benoit - whoops! Crossface! and Moore taps. Matt would have interfered, but Rhyno held him back at the apron.
Kurt and Lesnar are talking backstage. Kurt says that the upcoming 3-on-1 is going to be tough, even for the champ. Brock says that's why he's the champ; it's his job to overcome all odds. Brock asks Kurt if he's going to be busy during his match. Kurt angle says not to worry; he's got Brock covered. He wouldn't want to let anything happen to him because he doesn't want to hear, "I wasn't 100% before you beat me, Kurt."
Viva la raza! This makes sense; Eddie can have a long singles run until Chavo comes back. They show clips from last week. Tajiri has "severe lacerations" and won't be here tonight.
("Eddie! Eddie!") Eddie wishes Tajiri a speedy recovery and admits that he has a little bit of a temper problem. "But last week, can you blame me?" ("No!") Not only did they lose the titles, but Tajiri touched his ride, and that's like touching his (mother?) Tajiri had to be taught that lesson, but Eddie learned something too: it's about time that Eddie Guerrero starts taking care of Numero Uno, so he's entered himself in the US Championship tournament. Enter Ultimo Dragon. (About time.) They announce that the next SmackDown! taping will be on a Sunday afternoon. (You watch, they'll give away the SmackDown! spoilers on the LAW. Be ready with your mute button.)
Dragon and Eddie hook up. Dragon gets a chance to show off his kicks. I can't wait to see him on PPV. (Digression: I represent a large proportion of people who would probably follow promotions other than WWE, but WWE has a huge advantage over all the competition, both worked and shoot, both past and present: it's nearly free to watch. I can watch RAW and SmackDown! for free, and for PPVs I can just take a bus up to a bar in the next town north and simply pay $5 cover. Try that with NWA-TNA or NOAH, or Pride or UFC. So, while it would be in my best interests to buy tapes of Ultimo Dragon in his prime, I probably can't afford to, and there are lots of people like me.) Eddie almost falls into his ride, and then he gets kicked such that he slides into it. He gently rubs away a spot and brings his attention back to Dragon. Eddie goes up and down with a Moonsault, but Dragon gets out of the way. Cradle, and Eddie kicks out. Dragon attacks with a leg scissors and then a standing Moonsault, but Eddie counters the move with a roll-up and holds down the tights for the pinfall. I'm wondering if this match was quite long enough. Eddie will now face Billy Gunn next week, and Matt will face Chris Benoit.
Billy Gunn is shown backstage making out with Torrie. Man, he gets pretty good angles for a guy his age! Noble and Nidia are out... Nidia has her imitation fur coat, and Noble's wearing khaki shorts. Man, I hope they don't blow their money all at once. Maybe they need a financial planner.
In media res, Billy Gunn gives Noble a press slam, and Noble scrambles back to his corner to tag in Nidia. Billy's about to do something when he realizes that this is SmackDown! (#1 reason why RAW should move to UPN: There'd be no more Mae Young segments, unless they found something tasteful.) and he tags in Torrie. Torrie and Nidia roll around a bit, but not over the ref. (Thank you!) Noble pulls Torrie off a cover, and on the outside, drop-toe-holds Gunn into the steps. Torrie gives Nidia a DDT, hooks the leg, and wins the match. Noble confronts Torrie: "You think you're so special, you'll never be as sexy as my Nidia! In fact, you ain't half as good in bed." He says that he'd like to find out personally, and that he knows Torrie has been trying to find a way to get into the ring with him. Noble has a proposal: $10,000 to spend the night with him. To my suprise, he doesn't offer a threesome - speaking of which, where the heck has Dawn Marie been? Hey Lance, now's your chance to get her back! Anyway, Torrie doesn't really get the chance to answer, as Billy Gunn levels Noble, and Torrie tops that off with a DDT. Torrie pulls Nidia's shorts off as she tries to escape from the ring. Nidia is wearing hideous beige underpants (they don't deserve to be called 'panties') with black horizontal stripes. Understandably, she quickly grabs her fur coat and makes the exit.
Angle and Brock are walking down the hallowed halls of Leafdom ("Well, you know, it would have been nice if we had won tonight..." "We were outplaying them except when they scored against us..." "The officiating wasn't great..." "We're not going on a Free Agent Shopping Spree...") when someone runs up and announces that Vince wants to talk to Kurt. Kurt promises that he'll be out to help, but now we know Vince will want to keep him away for the entire match.
We FINALLY see the brackets for the US Championship tourney. Actually, we just see the semi-final brackets - the quarterfinal matches, some of which didn't technically take place, are conveniently off the left edge of our screen. Hey, why don't they use house show matches to fill in the TV gaps? It would give fans the idea that something storyline-meaningful was going on in front of them. Then they could take a couple of pictures and show them on Afterburn or something. Nah, it makes too much sense. The ring announcer tells us that the main event is now Falls Count Anywhere, and that Shelton and Haas shall now be known as The World's Greatest Tag Team.
Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show and The World's Greatest Tag Team: ("Lesnar!") starts off trading holds with Haas. Brock slams Haas, throws Benjamin onto Haas, then takes down the Big Show. Brock is having an explosive couple of minutes. ("Lesnar!") teases an F-5 on the ramp, but Haas puts a stop to that. Brock takes Haas to all ends of the ring for a collage of power moves. Shelton trips up Lesnar at the apron. Haas moves in and covers after a Big Show attack, but Lesnar kicks out. Snap suplexes and cover by Haas, but Lesnar kicks out. Show comes in and slaps Lesnar down a size. Cover, but Lesnar kicks out. Show finds the strength for a leg drop. (Tazz: "Big Show is sneakingly quick. Not fast, but quick." Go Tazz.) Haas has Lesnar choking at the ropes. The Best Damn Tag Team, Period double-teams Lesnar. Tazz and Cole diss the ref for allowing the illegal man to continue in the ring. Haas gives Lesnar a biiig drop kick, but Brock kicks out. Show tags in and takes Brock up for the bear hug. Brock Brocks Up and comes back with rapid punches, but Show takes him up for a choke slam. Lesnar touches down on his feet and counters to a belly-to-belly. He then clotheslines the tag team out of his way. He follows Show to the barricade and drives Show into the ring post. The Super Awesome Tag Team double-teams him again.
Back in the ring, Lesnar gives Haas an F-5. Shelton pulls Lesnar by the leg out of a pinfall opportunity. Lesnar gives Shelton a belly-to-belly near the announce table. Lesnar takes the lid off the announce table. Brock picks up the steps and places them in front of the table. Oh-oh!! Shelton attacks from behind, but Lesnar puts him into the post. Lesnar climbs the stairs with Shelton slung over his shoulders, but Show kicks Brock in the face and he tumbles backwards. Lesnar battles back but his head finds the steps and Show goes up the steps and chokeslams Lesnar into the table. (Yeah, best to save the-other-way-around spot for Pay-Per-View.) ("Holy s**t! Holy s**t!") Show makes the cover with his foot and wins the match. So where was Kurt? What will Ultimo Dragon be doing at Vengeance? More on this and more, next week!
Grade: (A-) Most everything was pretty watchable this week, though the Vengeance card looks like it could turn out to be another Bad Blood. Chronic problems still plague Creative, but this show in and of itself wasn't bad, and the matches were up to scratch. Lesnar, in particular, can really make a main event feel like a main event. He's a very versatile guy; he can do power moves, he can do mat moves; he can do heavyweight moves, he thinks he can do cruiserweight moves. He'll either wow us with his explosiveness or finish with a spectacular spot. Or both. (Imagine what he could do as a heel!)
I guess someone thinks Stephanie vs. Sable will draw. (If the angle somehow leads to Vince's character being off TV, *then* I'm all for it!!) I say give the spot to two wrestlers who deserve the time - these brand-specific PPVs are supposed to help give more wrestlers time to show off their talents, but I don't see Noble, Rhyno, Spanky, or Ultimo Dragon on the card yet. And what about poor A-Train? And, seriously, what about Nunzio and the rest of the FBI? I suppose more will be revealed next week.
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