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The Nature Boy, Ric Flair

Bill Goldberg

Shane 'Hurricane' Helms

Slobberknockers abound
The Oratory RAW Review Crew: 03/31/03

Solid show. The roster's really starting to look thin now, with the regular players stopping in at about the same time every week, but I'm not sick of it yet. The two main event-level feuds are still going very strong, (with a third thrown in this week to keep things hoppin') so at the very least it's a good kind of repetition. I'm being entertained, and that's the goal really, isn't it?

GREAT promo to kick off the show. Austin was in old form this week, really coming off like he meant what he said and wasn't reciting lines from a script or working extra hard to fit his catchphrases into the show. This wasn't forced, it was Austin being Austin, doing what he does best. Bischoff came out and just made the package that much sweeter. When they aren't trying to shove Eric the GM into the same mold as Vince the owner, there's a really nice dynamic in the air between these two. Bischoff plays the prick oh so well, and Austin's still something of a heat magnet. I'm fully expecting Stone Cold to resurface on Smackdown this week, as are I'm sure most of the regular viewers, which leads to one very pressing question. Why didn't Bischoff just trade the bastard?? It doesn't make sense to just release somebody like that, when he's worth so much on the free agent market. Eric could've grabbed Benoit and Rhyno in exchange for Austin, but instead he just sent the guy on his way. Otherwise, I thought this was tremendous. Great job by the writers, working the mailed pink slip comment in there for old times' sake.

Triple H / Hurricane was both fun to watch, but also painful. On one hand, it was nice to see Helms looking good against the champ. He hit all his signature spots, worked very well as a face and managed to pace himself this time, so he didn't blow up and look like he did against the Rock a couple weeks ago. On the other hand, the match looked quite rushed and as such lost a little bit of the drama it would've otherwise soaked up. I'll give credit where it's due, Triple H did everything in his power to make the Hurricane look like he had a shot here, but I just couldn't buy it. The whole idea of Helms as the cruiserweight who wrestles a heavyweight style has been fun for the year he's been using it now, but I'm slowly growing tired of it. That climaxed when he tried to chokeslam the Big Show, and now he just looks out of place doing the same to Triple H.

As an aside, Samir wasn't the only one who thought immediately of that horrid "Secrets of Pro Wrestling" special during the Ric Flair mask stomping incident. As soon as Flair tore it off the kid's face, I started shouting "Stunt Granny! Stunt Granny!" The visual of that old woman falling, then winking at the wrestlers to let them know she was all right, instantly filled my head and didn't leave for the rest of the night. Even while the audience was going wild for Goldberg, she was there... winkin' her little heart away.

Kane is a poor orator. He wouldn't make it to the main page here. Let's run an angle where he gets burned again, has to put the mouth back on his mask and shuts up due to the overwhelming shame of it all. Then we can pair him back up with Paul Bearer and try the whole thing again.

There's a big flaw with the whole Bischoff Administration storyline; why would anyone in their right mind force a bunch of unwilling guys to work together under one roof like that? Yeah, here's a great idea; let's grab fifteen to twenty of our worst enemies, put them all in a room together, and tell them to do stuff they really, really don't want to do. What's gonna happen there? Surely there won't be an uprising. Come on... five year olds have more intellect than that. Even the OTC wouldn't try that kind of shit.

Nowinski's trying every trick in the book to get the fans to remember him. Dude, if you're rehashing a gimmick freaking Virgil is known for, you've gotta take a step back and seriously think about your future in the industry. I really like Nowinski, but they've gotta do something with him soon if they ever want him to go anywhere. Another side note; when he was grimacing in the Steiner Recliner, Chris looked INCREDIBLY similar to the late Brian Pillman.

Chris Nowinski   Brian Pillman

Scary, eh?

In about two minutes of airtime, WWE did a better job of making Booker T look like a guy who's serious about what he's doing than they did in the entire month leading up to WrestleMania. Honestly, that moment with Ric Flair put him on that cutting edge between driven face and out-of-control heel, and I loved it. Much like Austin, Book didn't just look like he was going through the motions last night, he looked like he was really feeling what he said. Like he was just a moment away from snapping Flair in half. That's how you make a guy look like he's a World Title contender, no question about it.

Maven and Rosey were lots of fun to watch, but for all the wrong reasons. Yuck.

Jericho and Booker didn't get long to show us what they had until the cavalry hit the ring. I was, like everyone else, anticipaing the Diesel run-in that never happened here. I wasn't sure of their reasoning at first, but think they're headed in the right direction now that I've given it some further thought. What I'm really hoping to see is Nash turning on his old buddy, Shawn Michaels, and reprising his role as a bodyguard alongside Chris Jericho. Think about it, Y2J's been trying to prove to us all how he's the second coming of the showstopper for months now. So what better way to rub it all in Shawn's face than to run with his old crew, recruit his old bodyguard, and follow his old path to immortality? This way you don't have Nash too active in the ring, and you give Jericho the momentum he needs to get up and over HBK. Fantasy booking aside, I'm always a big fan of a slick heel beatdown. This segment did that trick. And Triple H's deathlock submission looks mean as hell.

I was pulled away from the television during the Hardy / Richards match, and much of the tag title match, so I can't really comment on those. I liked Storm and Morley as a team, but can concede that they haven't been quite as exciting as Storm and Regal were, so this title change made sense. Especially when you take into consideration the insane pop it generated from the crowd. C'mon guys, these fans are just dying for a chance to go nuts over RVD in the main event. Stop farting around with him in the tag division.

Then we got the big segment of the night, Rocky Appreciation Night. How many 'appreciation nights' does this make for WWE now? Fifty? Sixty? It's gotta be somewhere up there. I know we've had a couple for Austin, maybe a half dozen for Triple H. Mankind threw one for the Rock a while ago. The production team did their usual bit of kicking some ass and jotting down some names here, mixing in a little Led Zep along the way. Nice video package, and they followed it up with one of the most horrifically piped-sounding Goldberg chants I've ever heard. They even did the old WCW trick of panning the audience to show how most everybody wasn't moving their lips. But that's ok, because they cut right to a backstage shot of the man himself, on his way to the ring, and the live audience took the hint in no time.

...and here comes Goldberg, looking every bit like Tank Abbott with a longer goatee and a thick leather jacket. I'd never really noticed how tiny his ears were until he hit that entryway. It's like looking at the great wall of China from space. And he's adopted one of Rocky's own patented strategies, wearing several layers of street clothing to hide his body until he can get it toned up to ring shape. "You're next," kick, wham, spear, oversell and we're out. The tackle actually did look really vicious, and did its job of putting Goldberg on the map as the guy with the best spear in the federation, but Rocky took it a bit too far with that sell job.

Because I'm lazy, and feel no need to retype something I've already covered before, here's my thoughts on Goldberg in the WWE. These were originally posted in the forums earlier today, so stop in there if you've got a word to say on the topic. "I'm not going to let my opinion of him outside the ring affect what I think of him inside the ring. I don't do that on the whole. I didn't do it with Austin, with Hogan, with Eddy Guerrero, etc... I'm not gonna do it with Goldberg. He's a charismatic, main event level talent. That's just what the WWE needs right now. The pieces fit, let's see if they stick together."

And I'm gonna call it a day with that. Better than an average show, with a great ending. That sounds like a seven to me.

Score: 7.0 / 10


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