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" The Gravel Pit "
The Crossface 8-3-02
Posted by The Smart Marks on Aug 4, 2003, 15:56
Before we get started, we have to meet the players...
Brandon Truitt: Coming soon... Brandon's recap of the BEST SHOOT INTERVIEW EVER. For now, check out the Rick Steiner Shoot Interview.
Dr. Tom: The good doctor still graces us with his presence after retiring from Smackdown duty. Check out his take on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
Jared "JHawk" Hawkins: Jared's been a busy man recapping Smackdown. He also gave us his two cents on Ring of Honor's Crowning a Champion.
Peter Kostka: Peter will be replacing Retro Rob as the new Confidential guy but you can look at his WWF Royal Rumble 2000 recap for the time being.
Thomas Green: Thomas is the number one Indy fanatic here at TSM. Check out his review of NWA Wildside Hardcore Hell 2003: Night Two.
William Hemlick: William will be moderating the discussion.
William: Last week, WWE produced Vengeance. Some are calling it one of the best PPV's ever. Do you think this is a signal that things may be turning around for WWE from a creative standpoint?
Thomas: Heck no. It's the Russo Theorem: For every 10 crappy (insert noun here), there must be one good (noun inserted).
Peter: Well, they let the guys who can work, you know, WORK. If they continue to do that and stop it from being As the McMahons Turn, they'll be just fine.
JHawk: I think it was a fluke. This looked OK on paper and wound up being something special, but how many times has a card looked special and ended up being on the lower half of the pay-per-view spectrum?
Brandon: Yes and no. Yes in that Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, the World's Greatest Tag Team, Kidman, Rey Misterio, and Eddy Guerrero are putting on good matches. No, because the young talent isn't allowed to go over because Vince doesn't want them to beat guys like Undertaker or Triple H.
Dr. Tom: Not really. I think it just shows the Smackdown brand delivers the wrestling better than Raw does. PPVs aren't about storylines; they're about matches that are the culmination of storylines. Raw does the Sports Entertainment part better, but Smackdown delivers in the ring, which is where it counts on a PPV.
Brandon: Because of it, there's a limit to how good it can get when it's combined with the masturbatory booking that the McMahons give themselves. For example, putting themselves over a monster Kane or having John Cena tell them how good they look on the air and smack their ass.
Thomas: Let's just hope Cena doesn't smack Vince's ass on air soon.
Brandon: Don't forget, his ass can do tricks.
Peter: Great, and it's almost bedtime too. Thanks guys.
Thomas: Can Vince's ass do the "Eddy's Low-Rider" trick?
JHawk: What's wrong, Peter? Does Vince McMahon's ass give you nightmares? Don't worry. Me too.
Thomas: Vince's family gives me nightmares.
William: Speaking of Cena, I felt his loss to the Undertaker was the worst outcome that came out of Vengeance. Do you think Taker should have put over Cena or is he still not ready to be thrust in a main event position?
Brandon: Even if Cena is not ready to be a main event player, he still needed a big win over a top guy to move him into a high upper card position and, eventually, become a top guy. His charisma is definitely there and, given enough time working with Angle, Lesnar, Misterio, etc., he'll get there.
Dr. Tom: Even if Cena went over, I don't think that would put him in the main event. I would have liked to see him go over Taker, but I don't think it's a godawful crime that he didn't. He'll get his win back, and he has a lot of time to become an impact player in the business.
Peter: I subscribe to the theory that Cena's loss won't be as bad if he wins a rematch at Summerslam. I mean, sure Taker won, but the match was booked as Cena giving Taker all he could. In the rematch, Cena just gets the better of him.
Thomas: If Taker would have given Cena tons of offense, made his finish look credible, and make it look like John was going to win, then there'd be no discussion about whether it was the right thing to do or not. By squashing him dead it slowed down the push, but the sing-along catchphrase and the rapping will get him over.
JHawk: How is anybody supposed to be ready for a main event position when they can't beat main eventers?
Peter: I wouldn't mind seeing him in the US title hunt. I mean, guys like Guerrero and Benoit can probably disguise Cena's pitfalls and put on a good match.
William: Tom, the only person I can remember Taker giving a win to rather cleanly was Brock Lesnar. Do you think he'll do the same for Cena? He didn't do it for Booker T or RVD when they were feuding.
Thomas: He probably won't. But it wouldn't hurt him to make Cena look like a million bucks while losing.
Dr. Tom: I think he'll do it for Cena. I'm sure the braintrust (using that term loosely) realizes what they have in Cena. Remember, Booker and RVD weren't homegrown talent. Cena is.
JHawk: This is an example of why someone like Angle should main event and someone like Taker should not. Think back a year ago to when Cena first showed up and had his match with Angle. How good did Cena look in losing? Right there should prove that Angle is capable of elevating anybody at any time, which is what a permanent main-eventer should be able to do.
Thomas: Exactly. But then there was no follow-up, JHawk. Just like with Hurricane & Rocky, or any other of these incidents since then.
Those Damn McMahons
William: Another disturbing development at Vengeance was the time devoted to the McMahon family. Add Shane and Linda to RAW and I see too many McMahons on my screen. Will this family ever just disappear?
Thomas: Why couldn't Jim Fannin put the bounty on them and not Ian Rotten? (Obscure IWA Mid-South joke, I know.)
Brandon: Not as long as they still own the company, even if they know it's not in their best interest to feature themselves as such. Vince is out of touch, Steph is using Smackdown as her ego dildo, and Shane is making everyone on RAW look bad by taking down the monster heel Kane when no one else could do it.
Dr. Tom: Not a chance. They've shown they love to put themselves over at the expense of the talent... y'know, the folks the fans are actually paying to see. Linda doesn't show up often enough to be a problem, Shane always puts someone over, but Vince and Stephanie are the ones who create the problems.
JHawk: Probably not, but when has the owner of a company ever been off of TV outside of Ted Turner? You had Fritz Von Erich in World Class, Bill Watts in Mid-South...not nearly as bad as Vince, mind you.
Thomas: At least Shane isn't built like Greg Gagne. Then there'd REALLY be a credibility killer.
Peter: No way. I can tolerate Linda, she only shows up for major announcements it seems. Shane bumps his ass off in his matches. Like Tom said, it's Vince and Steph that gets on my nerves.
JHawk: And to think it was barely a year ago that we celebrated, "Steph's off TV for a while! Hooray!"
Brandon: The problem with Shane is that he does bumps that raise the bar for everyone else and never comes off as "WOW, Steve Blackman is such a badass" as "Holy SHIT, look what Shane did!"
William: Do you get the feeling that when Steph marries Hunter, he'll change HIS last name to McMahon?
Peter: Probably, to make Daddy-in-Law happy/
Dr. Tom: I wouldn't mind Vince and Steph if they were just commissioner-type figures. But they've shown a repeated desire to put themselves over whenever they can, and get involved in way too many segments.
Brandon: I wouldn't doubt it, Helmet. He's a McMahon in everything but name already.
Thomas: Hunter would change his name to Flair if Flair's daughter werenít so young.
JHawk: I doubt that, Thomas. He wouldn't be marrying into a full-time job that way.
Thomas: True, but it'd be like a kid who grew up watching Superman actually marrying Clark Kent's kid, PLUS some great matches on tape.
The Crippler, Eddy, and Excellence in the Ring
William: At Vengeance, Eddy Guerrero and Chris Benoit had a match that was classified as good, not great. Do you think Benoit's best days are behind him?
Thomas: The guy's had vertebrae fused. Don't you think that would slow even the best of them down?
Peter: Well, I'm not going to say he's at his peak, but the guy is still damn good.
William: Granted but do you think he will ever get that shot of being the World champ? Hopefully, they will give him the belt just to reward him for all those awesome matches he's had while in the company.
JHawk: How long did Austin last after that surgery? Subtract that by a year, and that's about as long as we have left of Chris Benoit.
Thomas: Benoit takes more bumps involving the neck than Austin, so that may cut off some time.
Dr. Tom: They have to be behind him. He's 35, he's had major spinal surgery, and he keeps doing moves like the rolling Germans and the Kamikaze headbutt that jar his neck. The thing is, Benoit at 85% of what he used to be is still better than almost anyone else they have.
Brandon: Benoit's still great even if he isn't the best he's ever been. I think he'll get a SHORT World Title run eventually but it may be as a lifetime achievement award shortly before he retires.
JHawk: Will, I said it in my SmackDown recap. As long as World Championship reigns are based on mic skills and/or charisma first and workrate second, Benoit will NEVER get more than maybe a month long WWE Title reign
William: At this point, I think the best match the WWE has to offer is Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle. Do you see any other match-ups that can reach the elusive *****?
JHawk: If EWR is any indication, Christian vs. The Hurricane but in real life, anything with Eddy and a competent worker has a shot, but I don't see it happening in WWE without Eddy Guerrero involved.
Brandon: Brock vs. Angle when both are healthy has a possibility of doing it. Chavo vs. Eddy is another one.
Thomas: There are a bunch of guys on the undercard that could do some excellent stuff if they were given the chance to just go for 20+ minutes with no restrictions. But, as has been reiterated a thousand times, they won't.
William: I could easily see Eddy and Kurt going 15-20 minutes on a major PPV. Do you see any other matchups with that potential?
Dr. Tom: I don't see them having a ***** match without Eddy involved somehow. There are quite a few guys who are capable of **** matches, so I don't think having one guy who can deliver the full monty is a liability for them.
Peter: How about Benjamin and Hass? I think they're quickly becoming two of the most talented guys WWE has. Jericho vs. Eddie maybe?
Thomas: They could be there, but not now. Don't get me wrong, they're great, but there's the "it" factor that they have missing that's keeping them from a so-called perfect match.
JHawk: Potential, sure. Lots of guys can do it. But I'm in shock when anything that doesn't end a WWE pay-per-view gets 15 minutes and it doesn't have a McMahon in it.
Brandon: If Eddy becomes a true superstar, Eddy vs. Chavo has a possibility of getting that kind of time. As for the World's Greatest Tag Team, they're capable of doing it eventually but need suitable competition. I think the best they'll get anytime soon is Rey and Kidman again. As a single, Shelton Benjamin certainly could do it against Eddy or Angle one day.
Dr. Tom: Jericho/Eddy can't happen without a roster trade of some kind, Peter. Though I think it would certainly be a great match. Actually, Brandon, I thought Edge and Rey made a pretty good team. We'll have to see how Edge comes back after having that spinal fusion surgery.
Peter: True, but let's just say that happens and Jericho goes to SD. I think they can bring the house down. I don't think we've seen Eddy vs. Jericho in WWE yet.
Brandon: Edge and Rey are a good team but, by the time Edge gets back, the World's Greatest Tag Team may be on RAW or broken up.
The RAW Bashing
William: Speaking of Jericho, it almost seems that he is the ONE person on RAW that makes the show entertaining. Do you see anyone else on that roster capable of making a positive impact in the ring?
Thomas: In the ring, I canít think of anyone besides Shawn Michaels. But damned if Stevie Richards isn't making things entertaining for at least the B-show.
Brandon: The positives in the ring aren't nearly as obvious on that side, Helmet. Christian, Booker, RVD, and others are good supporting players but none of them are anywhere close to the 5th or 6th best guy on Smackdown.
JHawk: In the ring, Raw doesn't have much. And the guys they do have who can go get saddled with gimmicks so bad I don't even want to see them anymore.
Peter: I really don't know about the RAW side, Will. Maybe Orton, if he stays healthy, MAYBE.
Dr. Tom: Jericho's the best thing on that show, but he's not the only one who can get it done in the ring. HBK can still go pretty well. I'm liking Randy Orton so far. Booker, Christian, Storm, and RVD are adequate. After that, they don't have much.
Thomas: Christian's degenerated as a worker, in my opinion. The excess of punching and choking HAS to go.
JHawk: At this point, I'd settle for a four minute Christian match that didn't have a headlock.
Dr. Tom: But like Brandon said, most of those guys couldn't carry the jocks of the Smackdown crew.
Peter: If you want to talk characters, then they've got something with Kane.
JHawk: If we're talking characters, they'd have something with The Hurricane if they'd ever get behind it more than three weeks at a time.
Brandon: Kane as a character could be something if Shane McMahon doesn't kill his heat. Kane the worker will reach a low with this character, though, since he'll be Undertaker warmed over again.
Thomas: If you want to talk characters, again, they've got something with Stevie Richards. Not much that could go into a main event role, but his Stevie Night Heat GM gimmick is the best thing on the Raw side.
Peter: Well, I was forgetting Kane's workrate for a second, Brandon. When you have a stinker with KURT ANGLE, there are problems.
JHawk: We're all trying to forget Kane's workrate, Peter.
William: In all honesty, do you think they should eventually do away with the split? It has been over a year now and the positives have been less than the negatives.
Thomas: No, because it's Vince's baby. Vince doesn't give up on his babies. If it were WCW vs. WWE instead of Smackdown vs. Raw, he'd have given up a long time ago.
JHawk: I think they'll have to eventually, if only because business will drop to the point that they can't justify paying an 80-plus person roster
Brandon: I'd have to say no because they're FINALLY doing it right after a year of false starts. The only things they really need to do now are to get a roster on RAW worth watching and to make new top stars.
Dr. Tom: I think they should keep the split. They've definitely moved in the right direction in the past few months. Things are better than they were at first because the company was learning how to work with something very different and new. Now that they have a year or so under their belts, the returns are starting to show up.
Peter: Well, I'll give them a year of split PPVs before they decide whether or not to drop the idea. Personally, each show has it's own identity, and it's working right now.
Brandon: The most important part to a successful split is no more trading talent between the shows for no reason. No more promoting the angles from the other shows. No more Smackdown guys working RAW house shows because it's more convenient. Now, that they're doing ALL those things, people can take it seriously.
Peter: I don't think I'd enjoy seeing HHH and Steph on the same show again.
Thomas: His ego and her chesticles couldn't fit on the same show.
JHawk: I don't enjoy seeing Triple H and Steph on different shows.
Dr. Tom: If they were on the same show, Cena would have been busted down to jobber detail for smacking her ass like he did.
Summerslam is Near!
William: In a few weeks, WWE will be hosting the first shared PPV in three months... Summerslam. The only confirmed match is Goldberg vs. HHH. Does Goldberg win the belt because of HHH's injury or does HHH put Goldie in his place?
Thomas: The feeling is Goldberg's winning. Question is, does he get a good run with it, or is it like HBK vs. HHH, where Shawn got the belt for a month and jobbed it right back.
Brandon: Goldberg will win because they're not even sure HHH can make it to that night. I think there's a high possibility that someone could lay down the law and tell HHH that he's got to get squashed by Goldberg, take time off to heal up and go on his honeymoon, then come back and worry about getting into the title scene again.
Dr. Tom: First, as much as people bitch about HHH, I have no doubts he'll do this match, injury or not. He's shown before he's a tough SOB who can put a lot of pain behind him and get in the ring.
JHawk: Either way I don't think the smark community is going to be happy, but I think Hunter has to job here before people think Hunter's invincible. Then again, I said that at WrestleMania and I'm still waiting.
Peter: It will suck either way, I think. I just don't think the fans like Goldberg unless he's killing people in 2 minutes, just like in WCW. The alternative, of course is HHH STILL as champ.
JHawk: At least that drew in WCW.
Dr. Tom: Personally, I'm not a big fan of either guy, but I dislike Goldberg more than HHH, so I'd like to see HHH retain. I think Goldberg's going to end up with the belt, since it looks like they're finally trying to capitalize on his intensity and minimize his weaknesses (in-ring work and promos) in his current push. Of course, a 20-minute match will completely expose him, and if the buyrate's not on par with expectations, it'll be because Goldberg isn't a draw.
Peter: True Tom, but I just think people will grow tired of Goldberg quickly. Plus, there's always that feeling of "HHH is getting it back anyway, so why should I care?"
JHawk: If they try to claim a Raw main event isn't a draw, I want someone in WWE to look at what the one common denominator of those main events is.
William: What other matches would you personally like to see at Summerslam?
Peter: Guerrero-Tajiri for the US title. They already have an issue, and, given 20 minutes, they can really bang one out, I think.
JHawk: SummerSlam? I'd like to see an Eddy-Tajiri rematch with the proper build up. Rhyno-Benoit's a given and should be decent to good. I'd like to see RVD vs. Kane with RVD going over and Booker T retaining against Lance Storm to give those two at least the impression of a push. And a Cruiserweight Title defense should be a given, especially if they go with something like Rey vs. Spanky. If you're going to half-ass the cruiserweights, you might as well throw something like that out there. But NO MCMAHONS!
Brandon: Angle vs. Brock would be a good one, although I'd be tempted to save it for Wrestlemania 20. Eddy-Tajiri is another good one. Jericho-HBK for the third time WITH JERICHO GOING OVER would be another one. Rhyno-Benoit is up there.
Thomas: Warren Sapp vs. Bob Sapp, but that's impossible. So, BDTTP/WCW Cruiserweight Tag Team Champions EXPLODE in a gimmick match (as long as it isn't a ladder match), Eddy/Tajiri, Benoit/Rhyno. HBK-Jericho would be good, as would something to give Ultimo some ring time.
Dr. Tom: Definitely Eddy-Tajiri for the US title. I guess we're going to see Kane-Shane, even though I think Kane would be a good opponent for Booker in an Intercontinental feud.
Brandon: Rey Misterio vs. Kidman or a second Rey and Kidman vs. the World's Greatest Tag Team would also be a good one.
Dr. Tom: Get a cruiser spotfest out there, like Rey vs. Kidman vs. Ultimo Dragon.
Peter: Eh, I'm tiring of HBK/Jericho a bit. The last match was kind of dull. How about Jericho-Booker or something? I know, have Kane beat Goldberg and HHH in a triple threat and start a feud with RVD...oh, wait, that's my EWR side talking.
Dr. Tom: I'd like to see Randy Orton go over Shawn Michaels and start calling himself "The Legend Killer."
Hogan, Piper and Foley
William: Thankfully, neither Roddy Piper nor Hulk Hogan will be around to stink up Summerslam. Reflecting on each person's short stay, would you classify it as one big waste of time?
Thomas: They each tried to get a new guy over (O'Haire & Gowan), but it wasn't given time or attention by the writers.
Brandon: At least Hogan was able to help Zack Gowan get over. Piper was an active turnoff whenever he was on TV. Piper was the bigger waste of time by a nose, although the Hogan love-in makes it hard to choose.
Dr. Tom: It was definitely a waste of time. Piper halted what was looking to be a decent push for O'Haire and made him his lackey instead of giving him the rub. Hogan put on a silly mask and helped get a cripple over as a freak show underdog, to the point the fans are tiring of the feel-good story. It's easy to call both men's tenures wastes of time.
JHawk: Piper's stay was OK because he stayed out of the ring for the most part and at least tried to give other people a rub. Hogan, on the other hand, helped get Zach Gowen over, but spent a lot of that time pushing his own ego rather than actually letting the workers have a chance to get themselves over. I can't say I miss either of them. Especially Hogan.
Peter: They both really needed to go away. Piper was just useless to me and Hogan was just the same ol'-same ol' Hogan.
William: One person I have mixed feelings about in his return is Mick Foley. Do you think he should have just stayed away from the WWE? Absence made my heart grow fonder but now I don't think of him the same way.
Peter: Mick, along with Rock, has other opportunities available for him. He should just stay away from the ring and keep writing. If he wants to come back, it has to be for more than a quick guest ref spot.
JHawk: If Foley starts wrestling again, I'll have a problem with that. He's retired. He should stay retired and not risk the injuries. But bringing him in as a special referee once in a while can help a buyrate or make a match seem special, so I have no problem with that.
Brandon: I think he should have just stayed away because they'll put him back in the ring again and he won't be able to pull off what he used to do. He is doing enough on his own that he doesn't really need to come back.
Dr. Tom: Foley should have stayed away. You're an author now, Mick, and you're looking like a pretty successful one. Be happy with that. If he shows up occasionally and they work some kind of mini-angle into a book promotion, then that would be fine. But if he's going to come back and be a major part of the show again, even if it's only for a few months, that's too much.
JHawk: Yeah, but once the business is in your blood, you can never fully leave it. That's why Blassie was still doing cameos two weeks before he died.
Peter: Just like Rock, that last appearance on RAW was damn POINTLESS!
JHawk: Most last appearances on Raw are pointless. Hell, being on the Raw roster is pointless. That doesn't stop most of them from coming to work every Monday night
Final Thoughts and EWR 4.0!
William: On a personal level, do you ever see yourself just giving up completely on the WWE? I know we have lost writers because of their disgust with the WWE. Would you continue to seek alternatives (like I have) or just leave wrestling as a fad of the past?
JHawk: As much as that product can piss me off, I have the sickness, as Roddy Piper would call it. I've got my Indy TV tapings. I've got Ring of Honor and I can get Japan if I ever get any disposable income. I'll manage.
Brandon: I see myself hanging on at least for another few years if only because I can find alternatives and I havenít reached the straw that will break the camel's back on my fandom. When I quit watching about twelve years ago, that was after about four years of intense fandom and it all came down to a few bad choices by the WWF and WCW, such as Sgt. Slaughter: Iraqi turncoat.
Peter: As long as Smackdown keeps putting on good matches, I'm sticking with them. If not, there are always places like ROH and TNA.
Dr. Tom: I went thru a period of about ten years (1988-98) where I didn't watch wrestling at all, so it's possible I could toss it aside again. I doubt I will, though... the ubiquity of reports and columns on the internet is always going to keep me at least mildly interested.
JHawk: I look at this way. The only time I ever became truly saddened to be a wrestling fan was with Katie Vick. I'm still here.
Dr. Tom: I can deal with the ups and downs. WWE has been in the doldrums before. There's no real reason not to think they won't eventually improve things.
Brandon: I made it through Katie Vick but my fandom was permanently scarred.
William: Well, I know I have plenty of old stuff to seek out and plenty of hope as long as the Juniors and lucha exists so I can't see myself ever stop being a wrestling fan. I havenít seen a full WWE show in months but I still love wrestling.
Peter: Wrestling in North America will never outright DIE, it just may not reach the level of popularity it did around 1999.
JHawk: It was easier to be a fan when the older WWF stuff from MSG was readily available on e-bay.
Brandon: Hell, I'm not sure that wrestling will let me go when I've got representatives of Japanese TV stations contacting me because they think I've got Stan Hansen's phone number.
William: Finally, EWR 4.0... DISCUSS!!!!
Peter: I'm bowing to Ryland right now. Just an awesome, awesome game. Dames may be a little harsh, but it doesn't spoil my fun much
JHawk: All I can say is if the Dames gives you *****, you are the fucking king! And jobbing Triple H six times on one Raw before firing him kicks ass!
Brandon: I'm just getting into it now. It's pissing me off a little that I can't hire Jerry Lynn or Steve Corino because they've got heat with Paul Heyman. Rather, I'm being strongly recommended against hiring them
Dr. Tom: I just got ****3/4 for an Eddy/Tajiri ladder match. DAMN YOU, DAMES~!
JHawk: I'd rather have that than have my entire Raw main event bitch that I'm firing Kevin Nash for refusing to leave the main event when he'd dropped to 71 overness.
Dr. Tom: I released Nash, Goldberg, Big Slow, and useless people like that.
Brandon: The difference is that I'm in my first week. You've put a lot more time into it.
JHawk: Christ, I had ROSEY over more than Nash and NASH wouldn't leave the main event
Dr. Tom: I just shunted them down the card until they gladly accepted the release when offered. All you have to do with Nash is keep trying to bust him down the card. His creative control won't let you, but just trying to do it starts sinking his morale.
JHawk: Actually, Matt Cappotelli and John Hennigan are my personal projects. I took them from openers to midcarders in seven weeks.
Peter: I really like the fact that wrestlers and road agents actually give you advice about pairings and such. I never would have gotten my awesome team of Spanky and Funaki together without it.
JHawk: I know, King. I had to put Noble into the FBI so he and Nunzio could keep teaming up more frequently.
William: One thing is for sure. If anyone ever gets a ***** match out of Dames, you can be sure the entire IWC will hear about it. On that note, the Crossface is finally over!