Ringside Shadows #179: The Tuesday Review for 10/16/01
It should've been a big week for Raw... the arena booked was filled with the always-hot Canadian fans, the "next big thing" (in this case, WWF No Mercy) was less than a week away, and nearly all the matches for the PPV had already been announced and set up. With so many of the usual distractions out of the way, it should've been a rare opportunity for the WWF crew to sit down, concentrate, and deliver a thoroughly memorable RAW. So why did the entire show leave such a bland taste in my mouth?
Instead of the exciting new program RAW had started to move toward in the last couple weeks, this week's show took a couple big steps backward, edging back in the direction of the overly-vocal, underly-physical episodes we've seen so much of over the last few years. With a few shining exceptions, last night just came off as a bunch of guys going through the motions, not the involving, believable story I've come to expect. Instead of an unpredictable, electric atmosphere we got the same old crew switching places at their own leisure. Eh? Booker T's taking part in the main event? Oh, I guess we may as well throw the Undertaker in with Kurt Angle then. The way things developed was almost lackadasical, not to mention dull. But hey, that's not to say it was all bad...
RAW results appear in italics, with my comments following in glorious, sheep-shearing plain text
Mick Foley entered the ring, plugged his new book and mentioned the name of the town he was visiting before Trish Stratus interrupted, wearing a black leather trenchcoat for good measure. Both she and Foley surpassed the usual quota of "stratus-faction" utterances, before Trish did her one trick and stripped down to the cheers of many. She asked to be included in this Sunday's Lingerie match between Torrie and Stacy, and Commissioner Foley was quick to oblige.
Gag me with a sweaty gymsock. It's been less than a week, and already I'm thinking Mick made the wrong choice in coming back to the roster. Maybe he was having a bad day, (then again, maybe it was me) but Foley just didn't come off as entertaining as his usual self here. He relied too heavily on the beaten catchphrase path, and not nearly enough on the kind of unique comedy that really set him apart from the pack. Add to that an absolutely worthless Trish Stratus return, stripdown and ogle-fest, and you get all sorts of bored viewer points. This is the kind of segment that makes me wish Nitro was still around... at the very least, they'd have something going on that wouldn't land me dirty glares from the girlfriend.
Which leads me to my next point... why, exactly, is Trish interested in getting involved with this match? The only reason I could possibly see is so she can turn heel and join the Alliance, which wouldn't really come as much of a surprise. Granted, Stratus is much better suited as the heel seductress, but we've already seen just about everything she's got on several occasions. What's to make this one any different? Hmph, maybe the WWF will play their old standby; "Let's change the rating of this PPV to "M," so people will think somebody's getting naked!"
The APA, along with Jacqueline and Tough Enough's Nidia, wandered around backstage, before the Hurricane and Mighty Molly turned up. With the aid of the "Hurri-cycle," they tore down the APA's backstage office and scooted away. All that was missing was a well-timed "toot toot!"
From my perspective, this little segment's a pretty good representation of the whole night. At first it had promise, but things went a steady downhill from there. You had the solid babyface toughguys and the goofy superhero tweener, already signed for a matchup later in the night, looking to add a little spice to the mix. The camera caught sight of the little rope tied between the Hurri-cycle and the set, and Faarooq and Bradshaw just kind of stared in bewildered silence as Helms slowly turned on his vehicle, waited for it to properly warm up, shouted a few words, then sputtered away. Really bad, almost reminiscent of the whole Raven / Saturn "moppy" affair of a few weeks back.
What they needed was something to give the match an extra kick, but without the insult to both the Acolytes and the fans that last night's display delivered. I'm thinking something along the lines of Hurricane stumbling over the APA's mock doorstep and inadvertently destroying their entire set-up (a'la Pee Wee's Big Adventure at the biker bar), before fleeing to the Hurri-cycle and narrowly escaping with his life.
About 40 minutes in, RAW delivered its first match, as The Dudley Boyz w/ Stacy Kiebler soundly defeated the Big Show in a handicap brawl. After the match, Yoshihiro Tajiri ran in, countering the Dudleys' attempts to 3D him through a table and allowing the Big Show to hit aaaAAHHHTHECHOKESLAAAMMmm through a table instead.
About what you'd expect from a match that guarantees the Big Show will be in the ring throughout. I'm surprised the Dudleys didn't try to grab a pinfall after their whassup drop, as it was a crotch shot last week that took the Show out of action for more than three minutes. Mayhaps they found that chink in the big man's armor. Tajiri's run-in was short but sweet. Good to see him climbing the ranks so quickly, effectively hitting two of his big finishers on the Tag Team Champions within seconds of one another. Doesn't say much for the competition for the belts, though. If the Big Show won, would he have been tag team champion? Would he have chosen Judy Bagwell as his impromptu partner? How about Kenny Kaos?
The "entire" Alliance flooded the ring, (minus their OVW counterparts) announcing William Regal would be the new WCW commissioner. Regal was given a moment to say thank you, before being shuffled to the back of the ring for the remainder of the night, negating the impact of last week's main event heel turn. Steve Austin then took the mic, and proceeded to tally the votes he'd collected earlier to decide who his tag team partner would be for the evening's main event. The final tally read something like RVD: 1, Booker T: 3412. In a remarkable landslide, Booker would be climbing in the ring to join Austin at the eleven o'clock hour. Perhaps feeling sorry for "Mr. Monday Night," Steve granted RVD a shot at the Rock's WCW World Title later in the night.
So much for that new personality I was hoping Austin had debuted last week. I enjoyed it at first, but his current character is beginning to grind away to nothing in my opinion. Half of what made Austin so memorable was the fact he wasn't just another guy stepping between the ropes and pretending to hit another guy. He was somebody who looked like he took things deadly seriously, both in and out of the ring. He was his character, and that's why it was so believable, so easy to buy into. For a while after WrestleMania, Austin didn't lose sight of that attitude, but somehow slowly digressed into just another guy with a microphone. Fortunately, his ringwork remains solid and exciting, but who's to say how long that's gonna last?
Interesting that Regal's been appointed WCW Commissioner. I know of a certain Nature Boy who might dispute that claim. Say, isn't next month's PPV taking place in North Carolina? Isn't the Raw the next day, and the Smackdown the day after that also in North Carolina? Probably just wishful thinking. I just know I'd rather see Regal feuding with Flair right now than Regal going one on one with Foley.
Finally, it's great to see Booker and Austin finally having some interaction. As two of the few remaining solid heels, they've got too much common ground to be kept away from one another. If they only feed off of and grow from being around each other, as they did last night, why keep them apart? And don't tell me there isn't money in that feud a ways down the line, after Austin takes care of RVD and a returning HHH. Now that I mention that, what's Stone Cold's problem with guys who use three initials instead of a regular name?
The APA made good on their promise to whup the Hurricane's ass, after a Bradshaw clothesline sent Shane Helms's head somewhere up to the stadium's second tier.
The popularity of the APA defies explanation. These guys have been faces since the end of the whole Ministry of Darkness angle, rarely changing a thing about their characters, yet they've never cooled off in the eyes of the fans. I guess if it ain't broke...
Quickly, somebody remind me why Nidia was at ringside? I think I blinked and missed her, what with all that hiding behind the Acolytes during their ring entrance and complete lack of presence throughout. Hey, at least Maven got some TV time and a solid rub to jump-start his career. I'd be surprised if we ever see Nidia again.
Back in the Alliance locker room, Kidman was heard openly questioning Steve Austin's tallying of the votes earlier in the night. Tazz confronted him about the issue, challenging him to a match in the ring later in the show.
Waitaminute, what's this...?? Divisions in the Alliance? It's about friggin time. Next step; expand the roster.
Backstage, Chris Jericho continued that gradual slip into his old heel habits, mispronouncing Michael Cole's name and telling us all he's ready for the Rock this Sunday. Rocky interrupted, telling Y2J to stay out of his way, before heading to the ring for his title defense.
As if there was any doubt... great to see Jericho slowly implementing the things that made him such a successful bastard during his stay in WCW. I don't think he'd washed his hair all week, and it really gave his look that weaselly little edge it needed. The crowd was eating this up with a kitchen utensil, acknowledging their native son with one of the night's biggest pops. I was worried how the crowd might react to the Rock, seeing as he's opposing their fellow Canadian and all, but they seemed to be slightly more in favor of the people's champ after all.
Rob Van Dam defeated the Rock by Disqualification after Chris Jericho's interference.
Just what Van Dam needed to complete his elevation to the main event. He controlled this one from start to finish, leaving the Rock with almost no offense of his own and passing the word along to anyone who hadn't figured it out beforehand that he's truly arrived. Still, probably the highlight of the match came during a brief flurry of Rock offense. When he hit that DDT and Van Dam stayed almost vertical, it was like someone had doused the audience with gasoline and finally got around to lighting a match. There was no looking back for any of the men involved from there.
Tazz did the J-O-B for Billy Kidman, following a brutal match that must have lasted upwards of two minutes.
Well, I can't argue with the outcome. Kidman nets the clean pinfall, after a few decent reversals and absolutely no illegal objects or outside interference. Unfortunately, the match is up there as one of the year's shortest. While I appreciate the efforts of the WWF booking team here and realize the match's length got chopped up tremendously due to low time, there really isn't a reason to even bother having the match if it's just gonna turn out like this. It's a joke... neither guy has the time to properly tell a story and interest the crowd, and Tazz comes off looking like a complete wuss for building himself up as such a hard ass both on WWF TV and in Tough Enough, only to drop a match like this against a perceivably minor threat like Kidman. Give them five minutes or don't bother next time.
Chris Jericho defeated Rhyno by disqualification after Mike Awesome and Raven ran in. Afterwards the beatdown commenced, a payback for Jericho's interference in Rob Van Dam's WCW Title match. Rocky made the save, only to deliver a Rock Bottom to Y2J as soon as the ring had been cleared.
The highlight of the evening. Jericho and Rhyno had an intensely physical match, coming to a peak with that absolutely ruthless release spinebuster that left me wondering how Jericho could've possibly avoided a concussion. Chris is doing things almost flawlessly with this turn, even altering his moveset bit by bit to gather more heat from the crowd. Unfortunately, the exception thus far seems to be his Liontamer / Walls of Jericho finisher. If he's going to be perceived as a real threat in the future, especially as a heel, that one needs to come off as a much more physically demanding move. It's a big part of what made him so impressive in WCW... not only could he reverse almost anything into it, but once he did you were almost pleading with his opponents to tap, so you didn't have to watch their suffering any longer. Once the Rock made his run in it was almost color by numbers, and neither guy went outside the lines. A great way to build interest in Sunday's matchup, and something I couldn't have seen done successfully any other way.
Live in NYC, DDP attempted to turn heel to mixed results.
Shot... dowwwwn in a blaze of glory..
Edge defeated X-Pac in a non-title match, after countering the X-Factor into the Impaler.
Not much more to say about this one, really, except I can't give X-Pac props enough for sticking it out through the shit early on and emerging with this wholely entertaining and convincing heel role. He's once again one of the most underspoken parts of the roster, returning to the impressive ringwork that gained him fame early in life and rounding out his current character almost perfectly. I love a good heel, and right now X-Pac is a good heel.
Backstage, Edge hurriedly told Christian their mother had been in an accident. As the two rushed to the exit of the arena, Edge was jumped by members of the Alliance. Christian quickly took advantage of the situation, absolutely destroying his brother and telling him the only accident their mother had ever made was Edge himself.
Just as realistic and brutal as this needed to be. I'm not a fan of involving real life problems such as the sickness of a loved one or a death in the family in the wrestling program, (see the Undertaker and Paul Wight episodes) but it actually worked to perfection here. Christian looked legitimately pissed throughout this segment, reverting back to the character we were all floored by when he initially turned on his brother, and giving their ongoing feud a shot in the arm. I just hope this doesn't mean Christian's joining the Alliance.
Paul Heyman was proud to announce Christian as the newest member of the Alliance.
Backstage, Kurt Angle emerged from his locker room wearing shades and an American flag bandana. The Undertaker just groaned and headed towards the ring.
Where was this guy over the last month and a half? This is the Kurt Angle fans slowly fell in love with, the guy that you just look at and think "god, what a dork." They didn't care about him when he suddenly became a Rocky clone or a psychopathic Austin hunter. That wasn't the Angle they wanted in the main event. Dare I say his title reign would've been a lot more successful if he'd continued acting this way throughout, instead of trying to look cool and crack jokes alongside The Rock.
Steve Austin and Booker T defeated The Undertaker and Kurt Angle when Rob Van Dam delivered a five star frog splash to the immobile Olympic Champion.
Man oh man was Booker on tonight. Especially with Angle, the five time former WCW Champ really clicked and gave it his all whenever he was actively involved in the match. Everything from his axe kicks to his selling for the Undertaker looked solid, and it's good to see such an effort from somebody who isn't commonly considered one of the usual suspects. If nothing else, that's giving me hope for the future. The man is money in the bank.
Pretty good match, which is standard for RAW these days. I could've done without the Undertaker's inclusion, but with three very good workers to pick up his slack, it's pretty close to justified. Nice hot finish that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and guessing going into this Sunday's three way main event. The crowd certainly didn't like that he chose to hit Angle instead of Austin, and they didn't hesitate to let him know. That means there's just as much to gain by reaffirming RVD as a heel this Sunday as there is by turning him solid face. Yeah, the finish gets my approval.
Final Grade: C
Just about average. I remembered this one as being a bit worse than it actually was, on second glance. Great advances made on the Jericho and Van Dam fronts, giving us plenty of stuff to consider going into this Sunday's PPV extravaganza. As usual, Dave and I will be around Thursday or Friday for "The World's Greatest" PPV Team, so be sure you don't miss that one. I've also got something brewing in the pot with Marcus Madison, but that one'll be exclusive to The Oratory, so keep your eyes peeled there as well.
until next time, i remain...