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Totally Reeking of Sucktitude

Al Snow's war with Wal Mart

WWE Smackdown!

Slobberknockers abound
Ringside Shadows #152: Smacked Down From Section 208

Just as I'd mentioned in my last post, I attended last night's Smackdown! tapings and plan to deal with them in relative depth here this evening. If you're the kind of person that delights reading the spoilers in their entirety, feel secure that I do the same. My work, class and personal schedule doesn't really allow me to catch Smackdown on a regular basis, and I'd just as soon read the results as watch them. If you're against the idea of spoilers as a whole, I can understand where you're coming from as well. Just understand that you'll probably want to wait until late Thursday evening to read this post. Don't say you haven't been warned...

So yes, I was among the screaming masses at this past Tuesday's big Smackdown! / HeAt tapings in Indianapolis. As the last televised event(s) before this year's Survivor Series card, I'd figured we'd see a bit of last second angle development alongside a solid match or two, and I wasn't let down. I made the voyage with my girlfriend, roommate, and Chris, a reader that I met moments before we hit the road. The ride was smooth, yet uneventful and we arrived at the arena with about half an hour to spare. While Chris went off to find a scalper with reasonable prices, (after all, scalping is legal here in balmy Indianapolis) the remaining duo and I stepped into the arena to find the first of several unpleasant surprises to come throughout the evening.

Our seats were atrocious. Though the event wasn't a complete sellout, as far as I know, we somehow managed to scrounge up chairs that sat literally one row from the very roof of the place. And not even that stopped three nameless wrestling fans from trying to steal the cushioned glory from beneath our respective tushes. After the three finally made the realization that they were in the wrong seats, we sat down and took a peek at the giant television monitor that would be providing us with our close-ups and backstage vignettes for the rest if the evening. Or at least we would have, had the Indiana Pacers' 1994-95 Central Division Championship banner not been hung directly in our line of sight. Eliminating that possibility, I glanced down at the oval tron. It was in plain sight, but backwards. Good enough, I suppose, though I'm still trying to sort out what happened at the end of the nevaR & zzaT / looC ooT match.

Pleased that I could see the ring well enough, I made the journey to the concession stand for dinner with ten minutes left until the opening bell. Twenty minutes, one match and twenty-five dollars later, I returned to my perch at the top of the world. Should've stopped by McDonald's on the way after all. Not that I was bothered to have missed the Jimmy Jabroni / Tommy TuTone dark match that started the whole shebang. I'd finished my fine dining by the time the ring apron, lighting and announcers had been properly introduced and tweaked for the HeAt taping.

Essa Rios & Funaki gave the crowd a rush as the first competitors of the night with their own Oval-tron videos, but were quickly overshadowed by their opponents for the evening, Edge and Christian. The former champs were surprisingly on the defensive throughout this one, with Funaki maintaining much of the control to everyone's shock. My girlfriend, Autumn, upset that Taka Michinoku would not be in attendance, made her first trip to the restroom. Meanwhile, Rios missed his moonsault but landed on his feet, only to do the same from a standing position on the mat in an inventive escape from a bit of Edge offense moments later. Not bad. E&C finally realized that enough was enough, though, and wrapped things up soon after with the clean pin. Poor Sho Funaki, always playing second fiddle in an aptly talented team that's going nowhere.

Next up was Al Snow, which made me wish I was seated a bit closer and had brought along the sign I'd brainstormed for the night; "Hey Al! Don't Job!" Alas, my well-wishings were all for naught as "Number Two" Billy Gunn made his way into the ring, pounded out some weak-hearted offense and put Snow away with the move that we aren't allowed to call the Fame-asser any more. Chyna was present for this match, inspiring the undersexed young man behind me to wake up and take vocal notice. Actually, that's not entirely accurate... I did catch a comment or two coming from his direction during the previous Essa Rios match; "Him agile." Wrestling events provide the best environments for just sitting back and listening to your peers. He went on to entertain me throughout the evening, telling us all about the WWF's recent purchase of ECW and other known facts. Just out of curiosity, when did Chyna cease portraying "a man, baby" and start acting as "a fine piece of ace"?

William Regal stepped between the curtains for a promo, giving us our first big heel pop of the night. I hadn't realized just how over this gimmick was getting him until last night, when I just had to sit back and smile as he did his thing. I couldn't even hear a word, the noise was so great.

Finally, Steve Blackman main evented this broadcast of HeAt against the sorely missed Big Bossman, in a hardcore title defense that didn't go backstage for a change. Pretty straightforward stuff here, as a kendo stick and trashcan made cameos. The Bossman introduced the kendo stick, immediately inducing the referee's rage... apparently this wasn't a hardcore match after all. Bossman, kind hearted soul that he is, handed the stick over instantly, but went for his billy club while the official's back was turned. Blackman also took notice, however, and drove the object back into its owner's face with a swift kick. A three count made it official and brought us head-on into the matches set to air tomorrow night on Smackdown.

While the ring crew began the half-hour chore of switching the apron and ring ropes, Lillian Garcia graced us with the national anthem, complete with a red-white-and blue lit entry ramp. Throughout the evening, perhaps the most interesting phenomenon was the constant lulls and delays between the segments. We'd get a five-minute match or quick backstage vignette, followed by about five minutes of down time. Occasionally we'd get a quick sales-pitch, reminding us to check out the merchandise stands, but for the most part these gaps were filled with absolutely nothing. It's an unfortunate thing, too, as the crowd would be really riled up and ready to go after a solid segment, only to die a slow death while the next match was cued up. Not a very professional way to treat your audience, really. All in all, I'd say there was about 45 minutes of dead time on the four-hour program.

Finally, the arena seemed to explode in upon itself as a pyrotechnics display opened up the tapings for this Thursday's Smackdown. Right out of the gates came Rikishi, who cut a weak-hearted little promo amidst a chorus of boos. As Phatu tried to find his way around on the stick, Mick Foley made his only physical appearance of the night, threatened him with fines, suspensions and whatnot, and finally sent the vicious officers of the Indianapolis Police Department down to the ring, where they stood around uselessly until Rikishi took off.

Following the less than stellar entrance of T&A, Crash and Molly Holly were introduced, to a monstrous pop. Even the guy behind me was out of his seat, and I was a bit shocked to hear it. Perhaps Crash is getting more credit than I'd figured. His cousin Hardcore was out next, and the men got it on in the ring. Crash and Hardcore worked a more technical match, while T&A flaunted their size advantage with a more powerful set of offensive maneuvers. Even so, the Hollys found themselves holding a significant advantage when the dust began to settle. The finish saw one of the two (from that height it was hard to make a call) Hollys delivering a swift schoolboy to capture the win for his team. This left T&A feeling a bit down, but the situation was quickly remedied as they kicked the holy hell out of the lookalike cousins. Paying no attention to what always happens in these situations, the ultra-fine Molly Holly stepped between the ropes. Moments later she was stretching out after her meal... a stiff Trish Stratus boot shot. A fun little match, for what it was.

We saw HHH on the screen, but for the life of me I couldn't make out what he was saying. Making the most of the situation, I shouted "Miss Biggy will BEAT youuu!!", probably my favorite line from Acclaim's WWF Attitude for the Playstation... easily the worst wrestling game in existence.

Too Cool took on Tazz and Raven in what was just another disappointing match for the former Flock leader. The end was swift, as Raven "accidentally" hit the evenflow on Tazz, then fell back into a corner and watched as Brian Christopher dropped a leg from the top and collected the easy fall. When Tazz finally climbed to his feet, Raven was waiting for him on the floor. The two got into a verbal disagreement, and the misunderstood one delivered the spot of the night; a super-sweet DDT from the ring steps, headfirst onto an unfolded and upright chair. Looked brutal as hell.

For the next match, I was stoked. Eddy Guerrero had been announced as taking on Stone Cold Steve Austin earlier in the night, which was enough to send me off into a world of personal bliss. When Guerrero stepped into the ring to moderate heat and delivered a strong heel promo, I was eating it all up. The threat of a run-in seemed great, but I figured at the least we'd get a couple minutes' worth of solid action before all was said and done. When Austin flattened the remaining Radicals backstage, even that possible detracting factor was gone. He hit the ring, and Eddy, about two minutes later. Apparently the bionic knees don't move as well as they used to. The two pounded on one another for a little while before Austin took a decided advantage and sent things out to the floor. Once there, Chyna's estranged lover grabbed a chair and wrapped it around the Rattlesnake's legs before sending the action back onto the mat. Inside again, Austin regained the advantage, racked Eddy three times on the ringpost, delivered the double bird and hit the stunner for the pin. Yeah, that was it.. and I think I nailed the description just about move for move. Needless to say, this one was a great disappointment. Only one thing could lift me from my displeasure, and Mick Foley delivered moments later. Chris Benoit vs. the Rock. Later tonight. Yeee-uh.

The next match involved three teams, three finishers and three minutes. The Dudleyz and Hardyz took on Right To Censor in an overly hurried little pile that achieved very little. We saw a 3D, the Whassaaaah spot and the Swanton Bomb before Matt Hardy grabbed an uncharacteristically quick three count. Buh Buh Ray called for a table afterwards, but even that was too much to ask, as RTC invaded the ring and mopped up their mess. Autumn made her second bathroom break around this time, as I shouted "My girlfriend is going to PEE!" for all the world to hear. Needless to say, this thrilled the folks around me.

The remaining pyrotechnics were shot off in rapid succession, as three of the loudest entrances in the fed came one right after another. Chris Jericho and the Undertaker took on Kane and Kurt Angle. Though the ref was vehemently against the Bossman's use of a kendo stick in the hardcore match earlier this night, he had no problem whatsoever with the introduction of a chair here. The steel object was used more than once, and eventually led to the outcome; a Kurt Angle pinfall victory over the Undertaker. Kane had slammed Jericho through the announce table and as the Taker prepared to hit the Last Ride, smacked his brother with the chair. Angle fell, butthole first, onto the Undertaker's head and collected the easy count. Post-match, the Taker was seen picking pieces of corn and peanuts out of his beard.

The Road Dogg and K-Kwik led the way in the match before our main event, taking on Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko. Partway through, the crowd started a weak "boring" chant, and surprising as though you may find this, I can't really argue with them. Malenko and Saturn weren't in good form, and the Road Dogg still sucks. Kwik has promise, but didn't get enough time between the ropes to show it off here. Besides, he reminds me too much of Pa Rappa the Rappa. Kwik-Dogg took the win in this one, after a bit of poor teamwork ruined the Radicals' chances. Incidentally, Kwik's finisher looked pretty lame.

Finally, we got what I was hoping for: Chris Benoit and The Rock in ten minutes of solid, Benoit-dominated action between the ropes. I had my doubts about this one going in, afraid they'd overlook Rocky's Monday Night injury completely and please the fans with a Rock slaughter, but it was not to be. The offense and psychology was realistic and top notch, and I'll tip my hat to Rocky for going along with it. He didn't look superior out there, and it went along with the storyline ideally. We got the first successful Benoit triple-German suplex in nearly a year, a Rock-delivered Sharpshooter / Crossface combo that didn't have Benoit tapping within seconds, and a ton of strong exchanges in between. This had potential to be the best match I'd seen in months, before Rikishi's interference led to a smoggy finish. No decision was ever announced to the live crowd, nor was the bell rung. Rikishi just stepped between the ropes, looked around, and dropped the banzai onto the already-beaten Rock. Aside from the finish, a terrific matchup and worth the price of admission alone.

And that's where I'll assume the Smackdown tapings will end. Rocky was bleeding from the mouth as Benoit and Rikishi furthered their punishment, and the fans wanted Austin with a vengeance. In his stead, however, came the Undertaker. The no-longer-dead man hobbled down to the ring and spooked the two heels from their task, then helped the Rock to his feet and wished us all god speed on our way home.

Far from the worst show I've ever seen live, (that honor goes to the last Nitro I attended) this was actually pretty average from start to finish. The only thing keeping it from being one of a kind was that Guerrero / Austin match, and the outcome there was as much the fault of the workers as it was the bookers. Despite the pissy seats, I got all out of the event that I'd expected and went home with a smile on my face. Perhaps next time I won't purchase my tickets over the internet.

I'll be around this time next week with a return to my regular style, as well as a comparison between the WWF of 1997 and the WCW of today. As always, thanks for reading.

until next time, i remain


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