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The Crossface: Royal Rumble Reactions
Posted by The Smart Marks on Jan 20, 2003, 02:42
This year’s Royal Rumble is in the books and you can be sure the Smart Marks have plenty to say about the annual event. Before we get started, we’ll introduce the players…
Byron Vester: Catch Byron when he drops in with the news. When the wrestling world really pisses him off, he'll drop in with his Anger Management column. If you want to know why he is always pissed off, THIS is your destination.
Jeremy Wall: Jeremy is one of the newest writers for the Smart Marks. While much of hisfree time is devoted to his newsletter, The Touch of Evil, he'll be contributing to The Smart Marks. Check out his latest article, The Smashing Machine Movie Review!
Jared "JHawk" Hawkins: You can count on JHawk to speak his mind as he reviews RAW on a weekly basis. Along with his RAW reviews, he also drops in with his column, This Week In Wrestling, examining a significant date in wrestling history. Check out his latest thoughts on last week's RAW from JHawk's Beak.
Fake Razor: Razor is the Smart Marks weekly Heat recapper (with the exception of PPV Sundays!). When he feels like expressing his views on a multitude of topics, he drops in with his Last Word column. Check out his latest article, 2002: The Year In Crap.
Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show
Byron: This went on WAY too long, but they tried to build a decent match out of it. Lesnar’s win was totally expected, but I’ll be damned if he wasn’t over as hell. Still though, it’s time to put the Big Show phase of his career to rest for good. *
JHawk: Inoffensive opener. Booked about as well as could be to get to the not-so-surprising finish, although the multiple belly-to-belly suplexes throughout the six minutes of the match was probably overkill.
Peter: I was surprised that this was the opener. It was a blah match, much like their past meetings, just as I suspected. Thank god this was short and sweet, or else it would have been quite painful to watch. Whatever... Match Rating: *
Regal & Storm vs. The Dudley Boyz
Byron: Plodding, boring rat shit that almost put me to fucking sleep. They wasted the greatness that was BookDust for THIS GARBAGE? Man… fuck YOU, VINCE! To make things even worse, Sean Morley (who hasn’t done jackshit in like 2 fucking weeks) shows up to act like generic heel manager #758456 only to have it backfire with D-Von grabbing the knux and laying out Storm (with JR and King acting all happy that the Duds cheated and stuff like Lita used to) for the pin. What a fucking waste. ½*
JHawk: What the hell was that finish? Why was Chief Morley even out there? Did they ever show exactly how Regal got the brass knuckles in the first place? And what are the odds of either the decision being reversed or the titles switching again tomorrow. Decent enough, but don't go with confusing finishes.
Peter: I thought this one would be the opener, but I guessed wrong. Eh, this was a typical lower card tag match. It was nothing special, but it served its purpose and kept the fans interested. Everyone saw the Dudleys winning from a mile away. I'd have like to have seen Lance and Regal hold on again, but I don't mind the Dudleys so much, so long as Spike isn't involved. Match Rating: **
Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie
Byron:Argh… what a craptastic ending (hopefully) to a terrible feud. These chicks don’t belong ANYWHERE near a fucking ring and tonight showed that in spades. Either find something else useful for them to do or just outright dump them because I, and many others, don’t want to waste hard earned cash watching a pair of silicone-enhanced Barbies attempt to fucking wrestle. DUD
JHawk: Nice to see Torrie got all of that great offense in, huh? One weak neckbreaker and it's over. Rah. At least it was kept fairly short, but with Dawn saying "It's not over!” I'm already reaching for the remote… and SmackDown's not until Thursday.
Peter: To be honest, I missed this whole match. Can you blame me? I went and made myself a sandwich, and took a piss break. Ah, I guess this match DID serve somewhat of a purpose, but it didn't need months and months of crappy buildup to give me a 3-minute long piss break.
Match Rating: DUD
Scott Steiner vs. HHH
Byron: HHHoly fucking shit! Not even a month in and we already have a negative star match! I damn near lost coconsciousness like 8 TIMES while Steiner did about 8 million fucking belly-to-bellies in-between falling down from being all blown up and shit. What a fucking joke. The crowd even shit on this match and didn’t pop for ANYHTING while booing both guys and then viciously turning on the finish (a fucking DQ? Put that shit on RAW, assholes) and booing everyone involved out of the goddamn building. Fuck Vince, fuck HHH, and fuck Steiner for wasting MY precious time on this tripe. -***
Jeremy: Was pretty much what I expected it to be, down to the ending. They did the match the right way through the story they told with Trips trying to get himself DQ'd and all that, as neither guy has the ability to actually have a watchable match right now. However, they're going to have to have an actual match at some point, which is scary. It was amusing watching Steiner blowup like he had wrestled 30 minutes after performing one belly-to-belly. I didn't like the ending; it made Trips look way too babyface and the crowd didn't react to it at all.
JHawk: I tried to enjoy this match. Lord knows I tried. But this utter garbage. I liked the storyline (Trips is trying like hell to save the title, but Earl Hebner won't do it until absolutely necessary), but the story would have been better served had Hunter gotten no offense in. Even if they had kept it to 10 minutes, it would have been passable. As it was, it was at least 8-10 minutes too long, and the fact that Flair got the only real reaction of the entire contest shows you exactly how bad this was. Don't even THINK about the rematch at No Way Out, because nobody who saw this match will care.
Peter: To quote wOw poster Aceysimba (TSM poster Mullato Heat)....
BAAAAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! This turned out better than I expected; not in the quality of the match, but in the execution. The fans turned on Steiner. The booing was music to my ears. The 27 overhead belly to belly suplexes had me laughing. It was as if Steiner didn't know any more moves, which isn't too far from the truth. The botched Tiger Bomb further showed Steiner's sucktitude. The fans booing him while he applied the dated Steiner Recliner; and while he held the title over his head was the icing on the cake. Way to thrill those freaks, retard. Vince McMahon, I'd just like to say this… WE TOLD YOU SO! Match Rating: DUD
Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit
Byron: At this point, I’d have given anything friggin’ ****. Started off pretty slow, but it picked up and never slowed down. Crowd took a minute to catch on due to the sHHHit that was on before, but once they got hooked, they never left. The finish was really hot and Angle’s switching to the UFC-ish anklelock was a pretty nice touch, but his psychology of throwing the move on 8,000 times still irritates the shit out of me. All criticisms aside, it was a damn fine match and I marked for the that insane diving headbutt from across the ring. ****
Jeremy: This was an awesome match. After the match Tazz referred to it as *****, and I don't see any reason why it isn't, although I'll scrutinize it further upon replay. I guess Benoit had to put Angle over clean to build him as a credible champion, but Benoit wasn't over as a face in the first place and that doesn't help, but that's a moot point. Really, really astounding work from arguably the two best workers in North America (I say arguably because Eddie Guerrero can easily challenge either of them to that throne).
JHawk: Not as good as some of their other matches (how do you top Unforgiven 2002?), but still great. And that's actually surprising, as I was expecting Angle to favor the knee more than he did and, as a result, bring the quality down. But once they got past the headlocks and wear down holds, this was their usual ***1/2+ classic, as they got in lots of sweet countermoves in, and it took an adjustment from Angle that Benoit wasn't expecting to finally get the victory. Props to the Boston crowd for giving Benoit his much-deserved standing ovation.
Peter: HO-LY SHIT. Benoit and Angle have had some fucking classics in their day, but I think this might have just been the best match they've had yet. The action was hot throughout, both men getting in their licks. Angle put Benoit over like GOLD; it looked like Benoit could have won at any time. This was neck and neck and back and forth, especially at the end which was a seesaw submission-thon. Benoit's standing ovation showed just how respected he is by every fan out there. This should be proof that Benoit would make a good champion. Say hello to our first Match of the Year candidate for 2003. Match Rating: *****
The Royal Rumble
Byron: What a lame ass finish. Why couldn’t Jericho and/or Booker be the other two along with PoochieTaker and Brock? And honestly, I really have no problem with Test eliminating Jericho because really, no one’s going to remember anyway, so why bother getting all bent out of shape? Onto other matters, the first 15-20 minutes of the Rumble was booked so excellently that I thought someone had killed both Steph and Vince and booked this puppy with a logical mind. BUT, as with all good things, it started crashing down once the first hoss of the match popped in (DeMott) and just started rolling WAY downhill from there. Overall, it was an okay Rumble, certainly better than last year’s crappy match, but still, the booking was so bipolar-ish that it actively hurt my enjoyment of the show. ***
Jeremy: It started off good, but got dull. Really predictable ending (but the right one) saw Brock win it by dumping Undertaker. And for those of you who e-mailed me saying that Brock wouldn't win: told you so. Every time Mysterio's out there on PPV, I wince when it looks like he might screw up a move, but he never does. Yet. They built Jericho up as a credible heel contender, something that he wasn't going into the Rumble, by eliminating most of the major babyfaces. I think they should've built him up to get tossed by Brock at the end, but they chose to have Test toss him instead. Story: At the 1994 Royal Rumble they planned a spot where Diesel would toss Owen Hart, who had mega heel heat at the time. If the crowd reacted to it, Diesel would be pushed, if not, he would be buried and in all likeliness gone. Luckily for Nash, the crowd dug it. This was the opposite effect for Test tonight, as the crowd was dead when Jericho was tossed. Undertaker is reminding me more and more of Al Bundy as the months pass, and Shawn Michaels is reminding me more and more of Peggy. I liked the psychology between Taker and Maven referring to last year's Rumble, that was good. Otherwise, Rumble was mediocre this year, and that about sums it up.
JHawk: No gripes about the match quality (the Rumble match is one of my three favorite gimmick matches ever), but major gripes about the booking. The entire build-up was written around two things. One, whether Jericho could start the match and win it. Two, whether or not Brock Lesnar could win it. So who should the last two men be? If you said, "Chris Jericho and Brock Lesnar", you're right, but you don't work for World Wrestling Entertainment. They threw together the Kane-RVD thing to justify four hosses being the Final Four, and once RVD was gone, the whole thing became moot. But if there's any justice, PLEASE let Jericho use the fact that he actually lasted about 13 seconds longer than Michaels did in 1995. No gripes with Brock winning, but Jericho almost had to be there to justify the rest of the actual buildup.
Peter: As a whole, this was an okay Royal Rumble. There was a tad too much clusterfucking for my liking; there were times where the ring REALLY needed to be cleared out, but it wasn't. Shawn's early exit was a "WHAT THE FUCK?" moment, but at the same time it was a relief, because I didn't have to worry about him winning. I don't want to see HHH vs. Shawn AGAIN, especially main-eventing Wrestlemania.
It was nice to see guys like Rob Van Dam and Matt Hardy last for a decent amount of time. Shannon Moore was hilarious in his role; he did everything in his power to keep Matt in the Rumble. Speaking of Hardys, Jeff came out looking like a bloody tampon, and idiotically got himself eliminated by turning his back to EVERYONE on the top rope. Oh well, at least he didn't eliminate anyone.
You know, I used to be in the minority that LIKED Test. Once he started using the "Testicle" gimmick, I developed a mild disliking for him. Now, I pretty much HATE him; for tossing Chris Jericho out at around number 25. Test of all fucking people. The final four was horrible in the eyes of everyone, except for Jim Ross and Vince McMahon. Hoss city. My picks for the final four were Jericho, Michaels, Lesnar and Eddie Guerrero, but I guess that was a little too idealistic, no? Oh well, I'm happy with Lesnar winning, which not only gives us Angle vs. Lesnar, but Angle vs. Lesnar in the MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA! WOOOOO! Take that, Hunter. ***
Byron: Take out Benoit/Angle and the first 15 minutes of the Rumble match and you have one sorry ass show. Shitty, boring matches, crap angles, and an overdose of the Hoss Factor™ will have you pulling out your hair in frustration or breaking your TV in anger. IMO, try and find Benoit/Angle either online or get someone to trade it to ya on a comp tape and don’t waste your time with this piece of garbage masquerading as a PPV.
Jeremy: I didn't watch the first hour of the PPV because I was busy. It looked like throwaway junk anyways. Everything else was what I expected it to be, making this not really a bad Rumble, but just an overly predictable one, simple as that.
JHawk: Coming in, this looked like a card that was fine if everything on the undercard was paced properly, and with the exception of Triple H vs. Scott Steiner, pretty much everything went about as long as it should have. They should have stuck with two minute intervals for the Rumble (especially since The Fink looks like an idiot now), and the booking of the Rumble itself was spotty at best, but overall, the SmackDown title match and the Rumble make this a very mild thumbs up.
Peter: The regular matches all either sucked or were mediocre, with the exception of the BRILLIANT Benoit vs. Angle match. Hopefully, Steiner's horrible performance will lead to a huge de-push. I hope to recap him losing to Steven Richards on Heat in the near future. The Rumble itself was okay-ish, with some questionable eliminations and a weak final four. The outcome of the Rumble was predictable, but it gives us a sweet Wrestlemania main event, so I'm not complaining. Check this one out if you haven't seen it, primarily for the Angle/Benoit blowoff, and for the Rumble itself; which wasn’t great, but worthy of a viewing. A decent start to 2003. Oh, and one last thing… WHERE THE FUCK WAS THE HURRICANE? ***
(Make sure you don't forget to read Dames' Diatribe on Royal Rumble 2003!)