Ringside Shadows #180: The Tuesday Review for 10/23/01
Historically, the RAW after a Pay Per View is a big one. An eve full of reflections on the prior night's events, a night to trot out the new champions and perhaps grant rematches to the old. It's something you can count on, almost without fail. Even so, last night's RAW pretty well threw the pattern for a loop. Instead of keeping themselves in the past with constant recaps of the No Mercy results, the WWF blazed forward from the very get-go, instantly hyping fans about next month's Survivor Series and all but forgetting the brief basking period most new champions are allowed the evening after their victories.
In a way, I've got to applaud the WWF. They've realized the ball has been pretty consistently dropped these last few months, and the PPV undercards have really suffered due to a lack of build. Why was there a Hardys / Hurricane & Storm match this past Sunday night? Eh, they weren't doing anything else. So, instead of dwelling in the past, they moved right along into next month's PPV, not wasting any time on such trivial matters. And, again to their credit, the quality of last night's matches was top notch. Mick Foley promised clean finishes, and though I didn't believe him right away, the gratuitously marketed author actually came through for us.
But hey, once again I'm getting ahead of myself..
RAW results appear in italics, with my comments following in the heavenly plain text you've come to admire
Joined once more at the hip, (to the popular disapproval) Vince McMahon strode triumphantly down the entryway with his wife Linda and wasted no time in going after the little empire his children were attempting to build. When Shane and Steph popped up under the "WWF.COM" sign at the top of the ramp, Vince played his trump card. He proposed a "winner take all" match at Survivor Series, and left it at that openly vague description. Shane had no choice but to accept. A few more hollow threats were made, before the segment limped to the finish line, a short fifteen minutes after it began.
OK, so there was a bit more to it than that. I just don't feel like typing out all the matches they booked in the opening minutes, as I'll be covering them later. I'm sure there was an easier way to say "Jericho teams with the Rock tonight" than sending the entire McMahon family out there to flap their gums at one another. Was it really just a few short years ago that the only member of the First Family you'd see on TV was Vince, and even he was kept to an inactive role? I never thought I'd be on my hands and knees begging for him to sit back down behind the announcer's table, but here I am. This is the first I've seen of Vince in months, as I missed Smackdown and couldn't afford the PPV, and I'm already counting the minutes until he's back off the television.
Seriously, these opening promos are almost absolutely worthless. Perhaps I'd be a little less jaded if this was the first one we'd seen in weeks, but following up last week's horrendous Foley / Stratus segment (which did absolutely nothing, as Trish wasn't in the lingerie match after all) with another promo, teetering on the edge of widespread boredom, isn't such a good choice in my eyes. This could've been kept to five minutes, with the spoken word performances held to a brief "Winner takes all at the Survivor Series." You know something's wrong when the opening promo takes up a full two and a half pages on the WWF.COM writeup, and the first match gets four lines.
Lita and Trish Stratus defeated Molly and Ivory when Lita nailed her trademark moonsault.
Probably the best women's match we've seen all year, which isn't saying much at all. In Molly and Ivory, you've got two women who know what they're doing. Lita is carryable, as evidenced by her match with Molly last week, while Trish is still confused as to which corner she should be standing and clapping from. Molly continued her streak of whup-ass last night, once again pulling out all the stops and solidifying her position as the top worker in the female ranks. Beautiful vertical suplexes last night from the Mighty one, and she doesn't have to worry about losing much heat, as it was Ivory who took the pinfall. I have nothing bad to say about this match. Short, simple, clean, and with minimal catfighting.
Backstage, cooling down from his grueling opening promo, Vince invited Rob Van Dam to join the WWF. When RVD hesitated, McMahon told him "You're either with me.. or you're against me" and booked him in a match with the Big Show.
You could hear the collective sigh of disappointment from the crowd here, when it was announced Van Dam's opponent would be Paul Wight. Personally, I've got no problem with it, especially considering The Wrestling Observer is claiming his original opponent was meant to be the Undertaker. I dislike the Show, but lately I dislike the Taker even more, and if they'd put Van Dam in there against him, it's almost a guarantee he'd be losing some big time ground before the night was through. At any rate, good interaction between McMahon and Van Dam. Would've been a-ok with me if Vince hadn't just finished his friggin' hour long promo to start the show.
Matt Hardy went looking for Lita, accidentally stumbling upon a topless Trish Stratus in the women's dressing room.
I dig this angle. Matt's getting some quality time to develop his character, and he's grabbing ahold of the opportunity with both hands (no pun intended.) Now if only we could get Eddy Guerrero back in there to add a little more tension to the Lita / Matt romance...
Edge and Kurt Angle had a casual chat backstage, until Rhyno appeared from out of nowhere, giving Paul E. the opportunity to shout "GORE!" x3. Angle had to be forcibly restrained.
See, this is the kind of stuff we need to be seeing more of backstage. No more "hey, Debra's cookies really suck ass!", a little less "Oh my gawd! There's the Undertaker! And he's WALKING!", a big cut on the length of the "here comes a limo... ah wunder whose in d'ere!" Just simple, to the point, storyline advancement and character development. In about a minute's combined time, we got two segments that did more for me than that whole opening fifteen minute McMahon-fest.
It's good to see Edge and Angle are both returning to the respective characters that made them big, with minor tweaks on both sides to make them functional faces. Rhyno's also been taking big strides lately, re-establishing himself as the irresistible force in the World Wrestling Federation.
Tajiri defeated Kidman, capturing the WCW Cruiserweight championship after a fierce set of kicks to the head.
This is just what these guys needed to kick off the feud a number of folks have been demanding over in the Oratory Forums. Great historical references throughout by both JR and Paul, regarding Torrie and Kidman's past together, which leads me to believe this'll be more than just a one shot deal. The match itself was given everything it could've asked for, a solid spot near the top of the first hour, plenty of time to tell a story and a clean, red hot finish. It's too bad the crowd didn't get excited about this one until the finish, as these two really worked their hearts out to give us a good performance. Tajiri seemed ready to mail it in, but Kidman would have none of it and kept the pace blistering throughout, even providing an "if, then" statement for himself; if you can't powerbomb Kidman, then you can't suplex Tajiri. I swear, the poor kid took at least a half dozen reversals for his trouble and didn't even get to land the damn suplex when all was said and done.
Like I said earlier, plenty of time here meant Kidman was given the opportunity to do what he does best; tell a story in the ring. The nearfalls started about midway through and built to a tremendous pace by the end of the match, to the point where I really had no idea who was going to come away with the gold. If the WWF doesn't turn this into a full blown feud, they're bigger morons than I thought.
DDP made a motivational live appearance, lecturing the live audience about the perils of losing. When he was interrupted by Kane halfway through his speech, Page tried to work his magic on the Big Red Machine. Unfortunately, Kane wasn't about to bend over for the cameras and shout "Thanks, DDP!" He merely chokeslammed the former WCW Champion and left amidst fire and brimstone.
Hey, somebody realized that "pearly white smile" gimmick really doesn't work if DDP's completely obscuring his mouth with a microphone. Major kudos to the guy who thought that gay little earpiece mic was a good idea, it's perfect for the gimmick. With a little tweaking, this is something that could get over in a major league way (not that it wasn't over to begin with.) Some of the little things were missing throughout this segment, and one of them really bothered me for one reason or another; the camerawork. If they're really serious about continuing this gimmick, they need to adopt a more conventional infomercial camera angle. The "in your face" WWF camera style is really inappropriate here. Maybe even something silly like a blatant audience plant or a cheesy little namebar at the bottom of the screen, proudly exclaiming "Diamond Dallas Page" would be enough to get this thing completely off the ground.
The interaction with Kane was priceless, as Page didn't even flinch when red fire shot out of all four corners of the ring. I didn't realize it until the moment they were face to face, but this gimmick has the potential to follow in the footsteps of Raven's Flock. If only Kane had thought a moment, nodded to himself and said "You know, DDP, you're right!" instead of chokeslamming him to hell, this could've been the start of something great. Think about it; the cheeriest stable in the history of wrestling. They'll kick your ass and feel super about it!
Kurt Angle captured the WCW US Title, defeating Rhyno with an Ankle Lock after a highly competitive matchup.
This could mean one of two things. a) Rhyno is on the verge of breaking through to the upper mid-card, where he'll slowly destroy all of the opposition on his way to the main event. OR, b) Kurt Angle's career is in serious trouble.
Maybe it's C, "all of the above." Regardless, this was an unexpected little gem, probably the match of the night. Rhyno's really getting into his new character, inventing new maneuvers like that gore into the turnbuckle or his unbelievably vicious snap spinebuster, which I'd thought was a one time deal when he debuted it last week against Chris Jericho. He's becoming less "that guy who tackles people" and more the wild animal of the WWF, which is a role he's perfectly suited for. He completely dominated the offense of this matchup, which says a lot, considering he was taking on a man not two weeks removed from a World Championship reign.
Man, but Angle has one of the most beautiful moonsaults in wrestling today.
Anyway, a great match, (barring that goofy neckbreaker which saw Angle turn one way and Rhyno turn the other) and something absolutely worthy of the tradition behind the WCW US Title. Even though the promotion's defunct, as is the belt, former champions like Ricky Steamboat, Sting, Roddy Piper and Barry Windham must've been smiling Monday Night. This is the kind of legacy they fought to build.
Bradshaw squashed The Hurricane, winning the WWF European Championship in the process.
Not my cup of tea. I'd be surprised if it was anyone's cup of tea, honestly, since it was effectively the same match we saw between these two last week, albeit minus the tag team partners. The cheesiness was overpowering in this match, and almost wholly unwarranted and stupid. I didn't think anything could bring me down from the high presented by the first hour's matches, but this did a pretty good job of it. The pattern of WWF stars destroying their Alliance opposition in fair fights was becoming blatantly obvious by this point, and it wasn't making me smile nearly as widely as Mr. McMahon, or... at all. How do you build a big PPV clash between the two federations if it's this damned obvious who's gonna walk away with the win? Let's just hope they don't follow this up with a very special "all run-in" Smackdown, highlighted by a truckload of Alliance victories. The WWF booking confuses me greatly.
Kane and the Undertaker shockingly defeated Test and Booker T, following a Kane chokeslam and tombstone.
Hey, isn't that move banned nowadays? I spent this match playing with my cat. At least he'll sell when the little mouse on a string we've got hits his nose.
Rob Van Dam beat the Big Show in a Hardcore Title match, hitting the first decent Van Daminator of his WWF career and following it up with the five star frog splash.
Just about precisely the role The Big Show should fill. He did it for Chris Benoit, he did it for Booker T and now he's done it for Rob Van Dam. As long as the Show's built as the immovable object, (as opposed to Rhyno's irresistible force... hmmm..) it'll be a major league victory for anyone who topples him. Like I said, Benoit and Booker got big time boosts from solid victories over him, and I'd be surprised if RVD doesn't get the same. Unfortunately for The Show, it doesn't bode well for his singles career, as the only thing he's really good for is putting over other guys. I'd be genuinely surprised if he holds any significant singles gold again.
Chris Jericho and The Rock defeated The Dudley Boyz for their WWF Tag Team Championships by pinfall, after the Rock hit the Rock Bottom on D-Von.
Again, not exactly my cup of tea. Jericho and Rocky are still trying to keep the tension in the air and doing a good job of it, but I really wish they hadn't drug out this tired old situation yet again. The warring pair of singles wrestlers are forced to work together as a tag team. They win the World Titles. One star costs them the gold. They war some more. It's just too everyday, too commonplace for the special kind of feud I think this Rocky / Jericho schpeel really is. Still, I suppose it made for some nice visuals at the end of the show, though the match wasn't anything to really write home about.
So what we got in the end was a surprisingly superb set of matches, a couple needlessly long promos, more title changes than your usual program and something of a direction for the Survivor Series. Though I have no idea how Vince got it through his head that we're more likely to buy a PPV when there's absolutely no question in our minds who's going to win...
Final Grade: B
And I'm honestly bushed. I absolutely nailed this month's preview, correctly predicting 100% of the No Mercy results, so you'll excuse me while I do a little superior dance over here in the corner...
until next time, i remain...