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The Booking Report: Raw (July 14, 2003) vs. SmackDown! (July 17, 2003)
Posted by Retro Rob on Jul 19, 2003, 10:41
The Booking Report: Raw (July 14, 2003) vs. SmackDown! (July 17, 2003)
***Just to set the record straight, more often than not this will be a Saturday column. Once in a while I might be able to get it finished by Friday, but don’t expect that on a weekly basis.***
It’s been a pretty decent week for me, which was highlighted by a couple of events.
On Wednesday I received the Hulk Still Rules DVD that I picked up on eBay ($19.80). After blowing through the entire thing in a matter of two days I started thinking about a few things. Sorry to leave you hanging on that one, but I think I’ll cover the entire DVD in a review of some sort. By that I mean that there won’t be any PBP or details, instead it will follow a format similar to this column. Plus does anyone really need PBP for Hulk Hogan matches? I also picked up the Rey Mysterio DVD ($15.77) on Friday, so I’ll see if that one is worth doing as well. Until then you should check out Nik Johnson’s review of it.
On Thursday I finally had a MRI of my knee. This has been an ongoing injury since April. I was playing a friendly game of soccer and after hip checking somebody they accidentally kicked me in the shin. From there I banged up my shin twice in the next couple of weeks. Needless to say, I ended up with a hematoma. The same injury that kept Triple H (except his was in his thigh) off of house shows last weekend and even active competition for a few weeks awhile back. But as usual I figured it was no big deal. May came and went. The pain persisted but was bearable with ice and Ibuprofen/Tylenol. During the middle of June my knee started to feel really weak. Almost like it could give out just after walking. So I decided that it was finally time to get this checked out. Basically because of my shin injury I was walking improperly to compensate for the pain, which then caused tendentious in my knee. On top of that I already had loose kneecaps. After three weeks of physical therapy I thought I was in the clear. However on the last day my therapist decided we should “test my knee out”. Hindsight is 20/20 and all, but that may not have been the best decision in the world. The next day I was feeling a different and more painful ache in my knee. Fortunately my recheck doctor appointment was for the next day. The doctor thinks I may have torn my meniscus (cartilage), hence the MRI. Then of course if there is a tear I might have to get it repaired, which really isn’t a big deal, it’s just a major pain in the ass.
Long story short, after four months I have had enough of this crap. I have already started working out again even though I should wait until the results are in. So in conclusion, if you fucked up a part of your body and are still feeling pain ONE MONTH after the initial trauma, get it checked out because otherwise that injury will lead to another, and that one will another, etc. etc. It’s a never-ending cycle.
On that note, let’s take a look at the never-ending cycle of horrible booking that is WWE.
Raw July 14, 2003
La Resistance and The Dudley Boyz
Every now and then WWE will do something that makes me ashamed of one aspect of myself. Generally the characteristic of myself that WWE makes look bad is 1) that I’m a wrestling fan and 2) that I’m an American. This segment filled their quota for the next few months. There is nothing wrong with pairing a wrestler (or tag team) with a gimmick that overemphasizes their nationality. If you take a look back in the past we have had teams like La Resistance, they would be The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers and The Quebecers. Both of these teams succeeded solely because of the ways THEY portrayed themselves. There wasn’t any American team telling them that their national anthem sucks and they should “go home”. Yet they were effective heels. Why is it that WWE feels the need to make Americans everywhere look like jackasses because they can’t write original material for La Resistance? Take a look back at when the duo first debuted and they feuded with Scott Steiner. The things Steiner said in the hopes of “being a patriot” made him look like the biggest idiot ever. Now we have the Dudley Boys interrupting the French national anthem, which is nothing new, but they go as far as to say “That song sucks. Here’s a real national anthem for you.” What the fuck is that? From a business standpoint, WWE is making a hell of a lot more money overseas as opposed to in America (relative to the amount of shows they run and all that), so why go and offend practically every fan that is not American? Some of you may be wondering why I am making such a big deal out of this. Well honestly, I see no problem running a segment like this either off the air or at a house show because it does get the live crowd into the show but it insults my intelligence and patriotism to see Americans portrayed as such idiots on national television.
It is obvious that the reason they had the Dudley Boyz run in was to jumpstart their upcoming feud with La Resistance. Seeing how La Resistance and the Dudley Boyz are the only two teams left on Raw I would believe that were a number of other ways they could have kicked off this feud. Like maybe with a match. The only way this atrocity could have been salvaged would have been if La Resistance played some sort of role in the six man tag match which followed. But that didn’t happen, so the tag champs look like two pathetic losers who cower away in fear after three lunatics run into the ring with an American flag. Pair that with the fact that they weren’t even on last week’s show where they would have been hometown heroes and that is some lost potential.
Lance Storm vs. Maven
Maven’s overall sloppiness in the match is going to be overlooked, as I’m going to focus on why WWE is wrong with how they are viewing Storm’s gimmick. Last week it was reported that WWE hopes the “Boring” gimmick will get over like Kurt Angle’s “You Suck” gimmick did. That logic is quite flawed. Angle’s derogatory chant got over, but didn’t hurt his character because it was based on actual heel heat. Lance Storm’s gimmick is more like X-Pac heat than heel heat. The people are not chanting “Boring” because they do not like Lance Storm, they are doing it because they are genuinely bored with the man’s wrestling style. Giving him 6 minutes on television to wrestle a dull match is definitely not a ratings winner. Why do I want to watch a match that the commentators are telling me will suck? I mean Lawler is telling me that this match is “too slow”, so shouldn’t that be a cue for me to flip the channel?
Mick Foley did a gimmick very similar to this one during his stint in ECW. It did indeed get him over as a mega-heel, but mostly because of the Philly crowd’s mentality and what they had come to expect from Cactus Jack. The current WWE crowd expects Lance Storm to use restholds, whereas Cactus Jack was known as one of the best brawlers in the business, so when he snapped on a side headlock he drew HUGE heat. Lance Storm on the other hand is met with either silence or “Boring”. At least if Storm went over through by submission (thus establishing that he is lethal in the ring) there would have been an upside to this. After the match it looked like Lance was going to show some aggression for the first time in ages, but then they cut to some backstage garbage.
Booker T vs. Christian – Intercontinental Title
How far they have fallen, eh? The highlight of last week is scraping the bottom of the barrel after a mere seven days. This show should have been used to give Booker a solid, definitive title defense. I’m sure they want to stretch out this feud with Christian for one more big match (SummerSlam?), so they could have used pretty much anyone in his place for this match. It didn’t have to be a big star, just someone simple like Rico or Lance Storm. Instead the direction that was taken here made Booker look like a fluke champ that should’ve lost the title in a week’s time. First, Christian had Booker pinned for at least a five count before Nick Patrick showed up. Therefore isn’t Christian the uncrowned IC Champion? Then we had the Dusty Finish, which may have been OK if it had not been used at least once on every show in the last month. From there Booker hit the axe kick out of nowhere for the pin. That is ABSOLUTELY NOT the way to build up a new champion. Especially coming off such a hot title win like Booker had last week. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the man that practically beat Booker T was then punked out by the crippled Steve Austin. What was that supposed to accomplish? Austin is mad, we get the picture. Where was Bischoff to point out that if Nick Patrick ran a little faster we would have a new Intercontinental champion?
Gail Kim vs. Molly – Women’s Title
Last week I went off on how Gail should have had a successful title defense and not be stuck in a pointless mixed tag match. This week she was given that successful title defense, which is a good start, but there is still a lot of work to do. The glaring problem surrounding Gail Kim is that we have never been given a reason to give a damn about her. Her “gimmick” is non-existent besides the initial promos hyping her debut that never went anywhere. What is her deal? Give us a reason to care. Another major problem is the fact that Trish Stratus is the top female face. As long as that is the case I don’t see Gail getting over on her own. Maybe after teaming with Trish a few times she will pick up some face heat. As for her wrestling ability, I’m still unimpressed, but then again she hasn’t been given enough time to put an actual match together. In my opinion all three of Gail’s win have come off looking like flukes. She has yet to beat someone and come out looking like the best wrestler in the match. Until that happens she will not be taken seriously as a champion.
I would imagine the plan here is to have Jazz return in a couple of weeks and go after what is rightfully hers. One possible way of executing this idea would be to have Jazz return and literally destroy Ivory in her first match back and Trish in her second. Jazz needs to come off looking like a fucking monster. Have Terri interview Gail Kim, who should be quite nervous about the fact that she is enemy number one on Jazz's hit list. Give the two a decent amount of time (6 or 7 minutes) and have Gail come out on top cleanly. If that doesn’t work, then she will not become the next HUGE diva.
Evolution vs. Dudley Boyz/Spike - Elimination
In my mind this match never should have happened. Neither should the Orton/Flair-Bubba/RVD last week because the entire basis of the match was dropped when Kane revealed that he attacked Tommy Dreamer. Thus the reason for both matches was just to give this group of guys something to do. Like the Storm-Maven match, throwing six wrestlers out there so they have something to do is not a reason for a viewer to stick with Raw.
As an Elimination match I’m sure many people expected at least one of the heels to get eliminated. By the time the match was over and done with it was apparent that this was used as a way to get Randy Orton over since he pinned all three opponents. That sounds reasonable, except in order to eliminate Bubba and D-Von Triple H had to hit them with a flagpole and a Pedigree. In other words, Triple H did all the work and Orton just rolled over (or was thrown on top) for the pin. Big man that Randy Orton is. However, there was a correct way to do this. Having Orton put Spike away first was a good way to kick the match off. At one point Flair pulled the referee out of the ring to break up a pin. At that point I would have had Flair get DQ’ed. This way Flair keeps his heat and the odds are evened up. This next elimination is probably out of the realm of possibility, but I think HHH should have sacrificed himself for the cause. Obviously as the champion he should not have been pinned. I think something along the lines of a countout. Maybe while arguing with the ref or talking to Flair about Ric’s DQ. This would leave Orton against both Bubba Ray and D-Von. After pulling out every trick in the book he somehow overcomes the odds without interference from either of his partners. Now isn’t that better than rolling over and pinning someone after the World Champion hits them with his finisher?
Chris Jericho, Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin
This segment includes the Highlight Reel and all of the Jericho’s backstage antics. The Highlight Reel segment itself was a complete waste of time, as it didn’t directly lead to anything. The entire Bischoff-Austin debacle could have been taken of in their office, leaving the Highlight Reel to promote the big WrestleMania rematch next week. You know, that big match next week that was barely mentioned at all on this show.
My other problem was how Jericho and Bischoff started going off on how management shouldn’t put their hands on their employees. Has Bischoff blocked the JR beatings from his memory? Does Linda McMahon care that Austin beat up a few people since her husband (the owner of the company) has been doing that on a weekly basis since 1999? Also, isn’t all of Kane’s destruction really Eric Bischoff’s fault? After all it was Bischoff who forced Kane to put his mask on the line last month and it was Bischoff or sent JR to interview the monstrous Kane. All of these logic gaps and the immense amount of time that this crap took up was enough to leave a bad taste in my mouth.
The final exchange between Austin and Bischoff was pretty entertaining, although I still don’t understand how Austin can believe that this truly was his fault. It was Bischoff who cost Kane his mask and it was Bischoff who sent JR to interview Kane. The one positive here is that it gives the viewers a reason to tune in next week. Whether you want to believe it or not, this storyline is the only “ratings hit” Raw has going for it right now. I highly doubt Austin is going anywhere, but I have a feeling Linda will say or do something that will help to control this Kane situation. I hope that something is not bringing William Regal in as a mediator between the two GM’s. First of all Regal would be a let down since he lacks star power. And two, I’m sick of all this goddamn authority figures. Two on Raw and Two on SmackDown is more than enough.
Rodney Mack vs. Rosie
HOLY CONTINUITY BATMAN!! I thought I was in the Twilight Zone when the Hurricane made the save after the match. That was actually the correct way to follow up the horrible segment from last week and it may even lead to a third tag team on Raw. Even more amazing, I received an e-mail last week from someone who prophesized the teaming of Rosie and the Hurricane after I complained about the “Hurricane needs a partner” storyline being dropped. Admittedly, this wasn’t a major event on Raw, but it was nice to see something logical happen for a change. Now if only Nowinski is about to get past his Post Concussion Syndrome we would have an instant feud on our hands.
Kevin Nash/Scott Steiner/Trish Stratus vs. Test/Stevie Richards/Victoria
Here is something I never thought I would be saying, Test is becoming one of the most entertaining characters on Raw. He has finally found his niche as a chauvinistic asshole that is a pussy when a real man confronts him. The way he is so tough when beating up Trish, but immediately runs away once Steiner or Nash go after him is classic. Plus it looks like he is actually getting into the character and is having fun with it. It was pretty funny though seeing two ex-WWF/WCW champions taking on Test and Stevie Richards (WWE Jobber). If they ever want to use Nash in a productive way again he is going to need some time out of the main event spotlight to slowly regain some of his fans, like Steiner has done, so this program should be a good one for everyone involved.
JR Interviews Kane
This interview did fall under The Good in my mind, but just barely, which is too bad because at first it seemed like it had the potential to go above that. If one chooses to remember, JR has done quite a few memorable interviews on Raw including ones with Mick Foley and Goldust. Those interviews changed their characters into more complex beings that went beyond their original gimmick. Well at least it did for Foley. Dustin on the other just became a bible thumper. I was originally hoping that this interview would meet the same level that those two did back in 1997.
Then the gasoline can arrived.
Quite frankly, the gasoline didn’t really bother me, but then again I had no idea they would actually "go through” with the threat. The interview itself really did wonders for Kane in terms of character growth and giving us the ability to see another side of him that we never saw before. Whether you are a bitter smark or not, WWE’s explanation of Kane’s burns was actual a damn good one. It was even creative at that. Unfortunately, those of us who recall Kane’s prior history are going to find some logic gaps. Then again, so will those of us who remembered what happened one week ago. This direction they are going by stating that Kane’s burns were all superficial, but the mental trauma that he underwent did not allow him to see that is actually high concept. The fact that this man is hell-bent in his believes that he really is scarred and calls anyone who says otherwise a liar is superb. It’s too bad they didn’t think of this idea last month when he took off the mask. Over the last month we have heard JR ask, “Is that thing even human?” We have seen Kane with strange contacts, a weird haircut, and “black makeup”, as well as Steve Austin having trouble looking him in the eye. I’m not even going back to when DX took pictures of Kane’s face, or the countless other times people have seen face and ran away in fear because odds are 95% of WWE fans forgot all of those angles as well. Moving past all the logic gaps, I am really digging this new twist to Kane’s character. How many of us really thought that the creative team could come up with some sort of explanation to this entire fiasco? They did, albeit a few weeks too late, but nevertheless better late than never. On the other hand, going by Dame’s Explanation, every logic gap that I mentioned could feasibly be covered, but what are the odds of the writing team taking on that challenge?
No matter how fake the JR burning looked (and sounded) it was a very good way to end an uneventful and unmemorable episode of Raw. No one would have remembered this show had that not happened. In my mind that alone makes this worthwhile. They definitely could have done a better job producing the entire stunt including the editing and the actual attack. Even though I know how lame it looked to someone with a keen eye, I still thought this was a strong way to end the show. The combination of a captivating twist in Kane’s character and the memorable/HOLY SHIT ending was enough to put this segment over the top.
We might have to wait until SmackDown to fill up this slot…
Total Matches: 6
Total Wrestling Time: 36:43
What should have been an utterly horrible show was saved by an interesting storyline twist and an ending that most of us will not forget all that quickly. Like last week this show lacked any appearance or mention of Bill Goldberg. The reason for this is probably that he is still recovering from his arm infection. The same idea I had for an injured Goldberg last week would have worked this week and would not have put him at any risk at all. One other gripe was how this HUGE WrestleMania rematch scheduled for next week was barely hyped at all. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho could practically guarantee a good rating, but the problem is not even everyone probably knows the match is taking place. Speaking of next week’s show, it looks like it could be the first really good Raw in a while with the HBK-Y2J match, as well as RVD-Kane and Linda McMahon’s statement regarding the Steve Austin-Eric Bischoff issue. Although it sort of sucks that this week’s show was simply used as a commercial of sorts for next weeks “more important” show. I tend to think that you have a live audience that paid to be at every TV taping, so you may as well make each show special in some way regardless of the city.
SmackDown! July 17, 2003
Sean O’Haire vs. Rhyno
I’m going to use this “match” as the spot to discuss the APA Invitational Bar Room Brawl. Interrupting a perfectly decent match for this crap did piss me off. Especially since the APA nonsense could have taken place backstage or next week. We really don’t know very much information on the Brawl on the PPV, but odds are it will be a waste of time. I see it is SmackDown’s response to the Redneck Triathlon. Maybe they will give us more information next week. Based on what we do know, it will be a good way to get talent on the PPV, some of which has never been/rarely is on PPV like Spanky and Kanyon. One other way to get all this unused talent on the show would be not to waste so much time with non-wrestlers in wrestling matches. I’m always baffled at how shows like WrestleMania V could house upwards of 14 matches, yet know they are barely able to squeeze 7 on a show. Obviously there are a number of factors that cause this, primarily all the video recaps and lengthy entrances they waste time on. I know that came out of left field, it just pisses me off that everyone in this company seems to lack time management skills. Three hours is a long time and should be able to hold enough matches to get most of the roster on the card in actual matches.
Vince McMahon, John Cena and Undertaker
Unlike last week, the Cena-Undertaker match was actually promoted… just a little bit though. Cena’s issue with the Undertaker was overshadowed by his rap about how McMahon would kick Gowen’s ass. I still don’t understand why Cena was used to hype the match that has already been hyped more than any other, as compared to Cena-Taker, which wasn’t even mentioned last week. Something is better than nothing I guess.
Both Vince and Cena’s promos about Zach Gowen bothered me a little bit. Based on the crowd reaction I think it rubbed them the wrong way as well. Generally Cena’s raps go over very well with the crowd no matter how big of a face his target is. The rap about Gowen was met mostly by silence and a few boos here and there. I just don’t think the fans know how to react to comments like the ones made by Cena because usually in wrestling a heel is putting down another character, whereas in Gowen’s case his “character” is actually his life. This entire Zach Gowen situation needs to be handled very carefully because if it is carried out incorrectly it can easily turn people off from the product. At this point I don’t even know exactly how they should continue booking Zach. The one real conundrum is that when Zach is fighting the crowd seems to go nuts, but then once a heel cuts a promo on him when he is not there to respond there is silence. I think the real test will be to see if the crowd still thinks he is anything special in a couple of months and depending on how they feel then should dictate how he is booked for the remainder of his short career. I say short career because lets face it, the kid’s knee is not going to hold up for years on end. It’s only a matter of time, so he should ride this out for as long as he can.
Jamie Noble vs. Ultimo Dragon
Do these people ever learn? Just like last week, the Dragon is given a criminally short match. I thought last week’s 3 and change was absurd, this week he got a whole minute LESS. On the bright side he did win. Unfortunately he needed help from Billy Gunn and Torrie to do so. A couple more weeks of this crap and the Dragon will be worthless. He has already lost his initial appeal, so if they were ever intending on doing something meaningful with him in the States, now would be a good time to start. Hell, just give him a six minute win over Nunzio. Follow it up with one over Noble. Too bad odds are Kidman will turn and fight Rey at SummerSlam because that leaves the Dragon with practically no one to face unless he takes on a heavyweight. Matt Hardy might be an option since he won’t be busy now that he is out of the US Title run, but a match between those two probably wouldn’t make it to the PPV anyway.
As for the next chapter in the “Noble got rich” storyline, hopefully THAT was not his official breakup with Nidia. I don’t see why she cares so much about his indecent proposal. Just a few weeks ago she was going to blow the lawyer that told Noble about his inheritance. Her original gimmick was that of a trailer park whore and now all of a sudden she cares that her boyfriend wants to sleep with someone else. I’d like to see them explain that one. Noble’s mic skills are great, as is his in-ring ability. Too bad that refuse to use him to his full potential. No, I don’t consider a feud with Billy Gunn his full potential. Why not just throw him into a full-fledged feud with the Dragon? Better than the two of them sporadically appearing on SmackDown in “blink and you’ll miss them” matches.
Vince McMahon and Brock Lesnar
For some reason the idea of Brock Lesnar fighting Vince McMahon intrigues me. Maybe because most of the match will be Vince getting his ass handed to him. Rumor has it these two will be fighting at either SummerSlam or the August 7 episode of SmackDown. I don’t see this match being a WWE Title match, so that would mean there is a strong chance of a title change at Vengeance. For the sake of this next scenario, let’s just figure Angle will be walking away with the gold. Last week there was that fantastic Angle-Cena confrontation that didn’t go anywhere. Then this week we had Cena coming out in support of McMahon. Therefore, if Angle does win the title and Brock fights McMahon, that would leave Cena to do battle with Angle. Hey, I wouldn’t complain. Better than another WWE Title match with the Big Show as the challenger. Don’t get me wrong, I’m actually very into the Big Shows current push and am quite impressed that FINALLY he is being taken as a real threat for the WWE Title, it’s just that the guy has fought for the strap at the last two PPVs. While on the topic of the Big Show, isn’t it funny that it took WWE 4 years before they properly booked Show as a MONSTER and not a mid-card comedy act?
I digress, back to the segment at hand. This was a logical continuation of the Vince telling Angle not to interfere in Brock’s match last week, so that is one positive. Also since this match between Brock and Vince wouldn’t be taking place until sometime next month, why not use this segment to promote something on the upcoming PPV? I’m really hoping for a Brock heel turn some time soon. His whole happy demeanor is really starting to get on my nerves, mostly because this guy is supposed to be a fucking monster. Yet he walks down to the ring with a stupid smile on his face every week. On the other hand, if they don’t turn him we could have a remake of the Megapowers storyline from 1988/1989 culminating at WrestleMania. Both ideas have their pluses and minuses, which I’ll get into at another time.
Based on this segment, I find it very hard to believe that Zach Gowen will go over Vince on PPV. The match will be overbooked to all hell like most McMahon matches and I expect to see Cena, Sable, and Steph at various points. However there is no way Vince is losing to a one-legged wrestler if he wants his match with Brock to be a draw. The only possible way Vince could do the job without losing all his credibility would be if Brock runs in and hits him with the F-5 or something along those lines.
Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman vs. Conquistadors
This was a good solid win over enhancement talent for Mysterio and Kidman. Nick Dinsmore and Rob Conway donned the masks for this match. This match was intended to display Rey and Kidman as a viable tag team as well as demonstrate that they can hang with the heavyweights. Both of those goals were accomplished, so the segment was a success in that sense. But jobber squashes aren’t really that exciting to watch either. I would have preferred they follow up on the Fatal Four Way from last week and had these two face the FBI, who were counted out of the number one contender’s match. Seeing how the FBI was made out to look like bitches courtesy of the Undertaker, a clean job in this match wouldn’t have hurt them any.
As for Conway and Dinsmore, putting them under masks was a very good idea on WWE’s part. I’m actually shocked they didn’t completely fuck up and “debut” these guys as jobbers. It was also nice of them not to slap Cornette directly in the face again since like the Basham Brothers, these two are also currently involved in a big OVW feud.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Billy Gunn – US Title Tournament
Look’s like all of our initial predictions turned out to be false since Gunn WILL NOT be going to Vengeance. I would imagine Tajiri will either play a role in Eddie’s PPV match, or will wait until after that show to pick up their feud. This match was surprisingly very good. Eddie carried Gunn to his best match in years. I loved the creative finish. The cheers that Eddie gets after cheating and screwing over the faces reminds me very much of how Steve Austin used to get cheered even though the bookers were expecting him to be booed. Could Eddie be the second coming of Stone Cold? I would have preferred if Eddie didn’t need Jamie Noble’s interference to win, but then again that is his gimmick so it all worked out. Noble might even be able to pull a decent match out of Gunn, although who knows when/if we will see the blowoff to their feud. My thoughts on this match are actually very similar to Benoit-Hardy, so I’ll discuss them both a little later.
Kurt Angle vs. Big Show/World’s Greatest Tag Team - FCA
I thought this match was much better than last week’s variation featuring Brock Lesnar, which in itself wasn’t really bad. From the time we picked up after the commercial break up until the finish this match was booked tremendously. I know I know… Last week I said that NO 3 on 1 match should last more than eight minutes. Well to every rule there is an exception. Because of the way this match was booked (the fighting through the crowd, use of weapons, Gowen’s distraction, and Angle outsmarting EVERYONE) it seemed realistic enough that Angle could last that long. I liked how Gowen was not there to attack the heels and dismantle them, but just to provide a well-needed distraction. He did hit a few dropkicks, however in the grand scheme of things his actual offense didn’t play a role in the outcome. Once he was layed out by the Big Show, Angle took the opportunity to nail Show over the wall with the stairs. That being said, Gowen was not made to look better than Show, Haas, or Benjamin. Therefore, although he was involved in the main event match, he did not actually look like he could “hang” with the main eventers. Hopefully this situation will put many people’s concerns of this kid going over the entire company to rest. The finish was also very creative. Personally I would have had Angle hook the anklelock on Haas since he already used it on him a few times earlier in the match. It would have been a nice way to tie everything up.
It is too bad the Tag Title match at Vengeance isn’t being promoted heavily because next to Benoit-Eddie that could be the best match of the night. It is great that Haas and Benjamin are being used in such high profile matches, but it is also important to allow them to establish themselves in their own feuds whereas in this match they were pretty much tools for the Big Show. Finally, props to the writers for coming up with a different match than last week even though it looked to be essentially the same on paper.
Matt Hardy vs. Chris Benoit – US Title Tournament
Someone e-mailed me asking, “What will it take for something to be considered ‘Great’?” Well, look no further. This match (as well as Gunn-Eddie to a lesser extent) has in my mind set the tone for what the US Title should be all about. Easily one of the hardest fought TV matches I have seen in quite a while and it was the first match in this tournament that actually made the prize seem prestigious. Seeing two men bust their asses like this in a SEMIFINAL match really shows the fans how important this title means to the wrestlers. For instance, look at how Raw crowned their first Intercontinental Champion. I guarantee you that whoever walks away with the US Title at Vengeance will look 110% better than Christian did and that will partially be because of this match. I didn’t go all the way on this one because it could have ran a little longer. Nevertheless, a 9/10 is absolutely nothing to sneeze at. Kudos to everyone involved for putting together a great matchup that will (hopefully) define what the United States Championship is all about.
Total Matches: 5
Total Wrestling Time: 37:49
Ok, so Vince McMahon dominated two segments on this show. I am willing to forgive and forget that given the fact that we had three fantastic segments, which believe it or not all turned out to be matches. How often does that happen? Admittedly, Eddie-Gunn was not a technical masterpiece, but taking into consideration that it was a Gunn match I was thoroughly impressed. Plus it was better than practically everything on Raw. My only problems with the show besides McMahon were the usage of John Cena and the Ultimo Dragon as well as the lack of/horrible promotion for the Cena-Undertaker and Tag Title match at Vengeance.
Speaking of Vengeance, it is shaping up to possibly be the second best PPV this year depending on who is willing to go that extra mile as opposed to the usual phoning it in. The only matches that are guaranteed to utterly suck in my mind would be Stephanie-Sable and whatever garbage the APA comes up with. Gowen-McMahon and Taker-Cena could be salvaged if booked dramatically enough. Everything else is pretty much without a doubt going to hit *** at the very least. Those of you who think Show will drag the main event down, seeing how both Brock and Angle have been able to carry him to decent matches in the past and their work against one another has been fantastic I don’t think he will play as a big a negative role as some are predicting. I would like to see Gunn-Noble added to the show and maybe something with the Ultimo Dragon (vs. Matt Hardy), but as is the card looks stronger than most of what we have seen in 2003.
THIS IS IT
SmackDown 2 :: Raw 0
Highlight of the Week: Matt Hardy vs. Chris Benoit
Lowlight of the Week: La Resistance and The Dudley Boyz
Total Matches: 11
Total Wrestling Time: 74:32
For some reason I have a feeling this is going to turn into what the Raw vs. Nitro competition used to be; A blow out every single week. One thing became apparent though this week. A huge difference between Raw and SmackDown is how meaningful the matches are on both shows. On Raw it seems like they throw together matches just for the sake of the throwing together matches and calling this a wrestling show. For instance, we had the pointless Elimination match. On the other hand, the matches on SmackDown actually seem important enough for both the live audience and those watching at home to get into. Like the elimination match, there wasn’t any real reason for the handicap match, yet the crowd ate it up. Why is that? It’s because of two things, the story of the match and the amount of effort put forth by the participants. Until the both the writing staff and wrestlers on Raw start to really care about the product they are putting forth, SmackDown will blow them out of the water week in and week out. That is of course only if the SmackDown roster continues to put forth the in-ring effort they have been for the last few weeks.
Keep an eye out for Confidential Sunday or Monday. Also, I do plan on getting to those DVDs I mentioned in the intro, but probably not right away. I would like to thank everyone for the feedback last week. Just keep it coming.
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