Raw from JHawk's Beak
By Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
Jul 1, 2002, 22:30
Raw from JHawk's Beak (7/1/2002)
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
Welcome to Raw, where there's no Chris Jericho to yell at you when you disagree, but the smarks will do it for him anyway.
This Week in Wrestling History: July 4, 1981 in New Orleans, Louisiana. At the annual Independence Day show in the Superdome, Paul Orndorff defeated Jake Roberts to win the Mid-South North American Championship. Orndorff would go on to lose the title, which later evolved into the original UWF Title, four months later to Ted DiBiase. You should be able to get full results at www.prowrestlinghistory.com, which conveniently enough has a link off to the left.
A very happy (although belated for you lazy people who read this on Tuesday) Canada Day to our friends north of the border. Your wrestlers might hate us Americans, but that's OK because you drink Molson. Sure, you don't know how to spell "color" properly (what's that extra "u" aboot--I mean, about--anyway), and maybe some of you rely on French too much, but that's OK. Because you drink Molson. [DISCLAIMER: Allegedly humorous fictional paragraph. Americans will not like you because you drink Molson, friend. Mostly because they're jealous because you have better beer.]
We are L-I-V-E live from someplace no American would go to if they didn't grow up there and no Canadian knows exists, Manchester, New Hampshire's Verizon Wireless Arena. Two more months of this and they'll be back at the Manhattan Center. Tonight, The Undertaker and Jeff Hardy in a ladder match for the Undisputed Title, and the belt is already hanging over the ring!
But no, we're not starting with the title match, as on their way to the ring are Your God and Mine Paul E. Heyman and Ruthlessly Aggressive King Brock I. Heyman gets the stick as JR tells us Benoit's in-ring return is tonight. Heyman told us this would be the summer of Brock, but people still think it will be the summer of Rob Van Dam. But RVD doesn't have the ruthless aggression. I'm already sick of "ruthless aggression" and it's only been a week. Brock also has intelligence. Only two more I's to go. Yep, Brock was inspired by Kurt Angle's challenge to any rookie, so Brock Lesnar is issuing a challenge of his own. Brock's challenge is to any veteran who wants to walk the aisle (WHOO!) and be sent into early retirement. And sure enough, out comes The Man (WHOO!) in full robe and wrestling gear. JR had seen the note posted, and yet he still asked what this was about. Fucking moron. Flair remembers Brock costing him ownership of Raw. He's a veteran, and better than that, he's a legend, and tonight Brock will find out why Ric Flair is the dirtiest player in the game. There's the staredown, and Brock tells Ric he's in the wrong place in the wrong year with the wrong guy. In comes Earl Hebner, and here we go.
King Brock I vs. The Man (WHOO!)
Lockup, and a headlock by Flair, but Brock quickly powers Ric to the mat. Lockup, and Brock simply pushes Flair to the mat. Test of strength is quickly turned into a Brock hand squeeze, but Flair with the chop (WHOO!). Lockup, and a push in the corner, but Flair moves and hits a series of chops. Whip into the opposite corner and more chops. There's the power from Brock to turn it around, but the elbowdrop misses and Flair takes a Tastykake break. Brock gives chase, but Flair catches him reentering the ring. Flair using wrestling to confuse the big man. Snap mare, followed by a kneedrop, and a cover for 2 before Brock tosses Flair off of him. Brock quickly goes back to the power game, and there's the backbreaker combo. Flair again rolls to the floor, and Brock again after him, but this time to fight and not to chase. Flair is wearing red, and Flair is 0 for life with the red on. In the ring, Brock charges with the shoulder but misses and hits the ringpost. Why is Flair going after him instead of working on the leg? Brock catches Flair with a bearhug, and bless the crowd, they're trying to get into it. Flair breaks the hold and uses chops and punches, but he gets caught with a spinebuster. Flair begging off, but that suckers Brock straight into a low blow. And a back heel kick below the belt. Backdrop suplex but Flair, but Brock powers out at 2. Flair finally works on the legs, and there's the Figure Four, but Brock reaches the ropes. Heyman on the apron, and Flair knocks him down, but Brock with the F5 for the win at 7:00. Did I hear the crowd counting along with the referee? Flair remains 0 for life when wearing red.
I can't say I'm surprised, and I can't say I'm upset. Granted, I'm a Flair mark and I feel any rookie (and Lesnar might qualify under Pro Wrestling Illustrated standards as a rooke) has no business going over Flair, but I'm going to look at it realistically. If the man is going to be seen a legit main eventer going into SummerSlam, he has to be given wins over guys somewhere near the top. As long as they don't screw RVD or Booker to do it, then go right ahead. The match itself was OK, but this was a chance to allow Brock to use the amateur moves to show he can wrestle, and they still insist on him using the power moves and making him the 80s monster.
Coach is set to interview Jackie, and he thinks Jackie should have won the Golden Thong Award. And it's not her week, because Molly and Jackie lost their tag match last week. Molly's actually the won who lost, and in walks Pure and Wholesome Molly Holly to tell her that if she'd wrestle instead of parade around in underwear she'd be better. Jackie says she at least looks good in her underwear, and Molly slaps her. And here's the brawl into the main arena. Jackie reverses a whip into side of the ramp, and a lead pipe (complete wih sound effects) misses and clangs on the floor. Out to ringside they go, and Molly snap suplexes Jackie onto the protective mat. We're in the ring (with no referee), and Molly with a backbreaker. Up top, and there's a savate kick to Jackie's face. Molly's going to leave, but Trish Stratus is a cheating bitch and cheap shots Molly, throws her into the ring, and takes her pants off to reveal "granny panties". I'll say it again. Molly is the heel?
Christopher Nowinski is interviewed by Terri, who has Bradshaw tonight but doesn't want the Hardcore Title because he doesn't want to look over his shoulder 24/7. It's about intelligence, not plunder.
So the heels are virtuous and only attack when provoked, and the faces cheat their asses off. Yep, that's realistic alright. Face it, the days of "shades of grey" already wounded wrestling, and I don't want to cheer the heels for following the rules. For the love of God, get it right already. Molly gives constructive criticism and gets her ass made fun of, and she's the fucking heel. *sigh*
Non-title match scheduled for one fall: Christopher Nowinski vs. Bradshaw (Hardcore Champion)
Does anybody actually care that he went to Harvard? I know I don't give a flying shit. Is he already bleeding from his chest? Bradshaw runs in with an immediate Big Boot. Hard shoulderblock to knock him down, and Bradshaw brings in the plunder even though this isn't a hardcore match. Charles Robinson takes a bullrope away from him, but Bradshaw keeps control until Nowinski grabs the bullrope and hits Bradshaw with the cowbell behind Robinson's back for the pin at :57. What the fuck?
Regal approves backstage, and in comes RVD to look for Brock and Heyman. RVD's pissed that Lesnar already competed, and Regal snaps at RVD for coming into his RVD. RVD did barge in looking for a fight, so he challenges Regal. Regal accepts. Champion vs. champion tonight. RVD won't apologize for barging in, nor will he apologize after he beats Regal tonight. RVD was holding his hand, and I wonder if we're running a sneak attack angle.
I know Bradshaw's being depushed because of the flight from England two months, but who the fuck did he piss off to job to a Tough Enough reject in under a minute? I'm not the biggest Bradshaw fan in the world, but he is better than he's given credit for, and plane incident or not, getting buried like this is total bullshit. Nowinski wasn't considered good enough to win TE1, and now he's made the Hardcore Champion his bitch? And has he defended that Hardcore Title since he won it? Yes. Once on TV. That's it.
Regal vs. RVD could be good, but I was disappointed by their WrestleMania match, so we'll wait and see.
Terri is with Mr. Extreme, who takes offense at being considered the underdog because tonight's match is a ladder match. He climbs the set and a ladder for emphasis. Best Jeff Hardy interview ever.
Backstage, there's Booker T, and he runs into Darth Vaderdust. "The force is strong within you, but you are not a Jedi yet." Goldust has another plan after last week's, so Booker should relax and get his mack on. Booker borrows Goldust's light saber, and the nWo's going to get zapped by the "five-time Master Jedi champion", now can you dig that, sucka?
Mr. McAsshole is with Eddy Guerrero, who has made an exception with the brand extension to make Chris BeNOIT a Raw guy. Benoit owes Vince, and Benoit says they'll pay him back tenfold. Vince wants to see ruthless aggression out there.
You know, that was probably the worst Goldust-Booker segment ever, and I still laughed. As much as I want to see Booker main event, the chemistry between these two guys is phenomenal, and they need to let it run as much as possible.
Eddy and Benoit are apparently an official tag team now, but that doesn't matter when the Tag Titles are exclusive to SmackDown. And all the tag teams are on Raw... This probably makes sense in Bizarro World, but not in my world.
Non-title match scheduled for one fall: Rob...Van...Dam (Intercontinental Champion) vs. William Regal (European Champion)
JR insists RVD's tardiness was due to a PR appearance in New York and nothing else. Regal opens up with a side headlock. Down goes RVD, and a Regal elbowdrop gets a one count. Regal counters the stepover back kick with a nice looking half nelson suplex. Regal in control as a loud RVD chant starts, and you can't edit that out on a live show without making it glaringly obvious. Regal busts out the multiple cover spot, and here comes another RVD chant. Regal with a snap mare and a kneedrop for a near fall. RVD counters with an inside cradle for 2. Regal into a cross facelock. RVD with some punches, and Regal coming back with forearms. RVD with the monkey flip. Whip into the corner, shoulders, backflip, springboard bodyblock for a near fall. Spin kick and rolling thunder gets 2. Regal goes for a double underhook suplex, but RVD counters with a backdrop, then goes to the top and flies halfway across the ring for a Five Star Frog Splash for the pin at 3:48. RVD grabs the mic, and he wants a match with Brock tonight even though they've both wrestled already. Another RVD chant as he waits for an answer. And out come Brock and Heyman, and Heyman always liked Rob's guts. So Heyman is granting a favor. He's advised Brock not to come out tonight, but instead he issues the challenge at Vengeance. RVD accepts, and while a lot of people don't think they can beat Brock, he's Rob...Van...Dam. He's not the whole fucking show though.
Coming up next, Benoit is back for the first time in over a year.
No mention of SummerSlam title shots or Intercontinental Title matches in that challenge. And at least three RVD chants in an eight minute segment. When are they going to learn? The match itself was OK but disjointed. This is why I hate four minute TV matches. RVD needs to hit all the trademark spots to make the crowd happy, but he never has enough time to do it and tell any type of story. That's a shame, especially with Regal being one of the few guys still capable of telling a compelling story in the ring.
Tonight in Manchester, Goldust and Booker T vs. the nWo, but first...
Tag Team Contest scheduled for one fall: The New Dudley Boyz vs. The Former Radicalz
Well, this at least sort of makes sense if nothing else. And yes, this is the main event of the first hour. Eddy and Spike start, and Eddy with a snap mare and a facerake with the boot. Backdrop suplex, and Spike hits hard. "We want tables" chant starts. Spike comes back and gets a neckbreaker for 2. Bubba tagged in, and he's in full Dusty mode tonight, if you weel. Bubba with an avalanche into the corner. Scoop slam, and a Bionic Elbow, followed by a double axhandle for a near fall. Eddy floats over Bubba's back and tags Benoit to a nice pop. Bubba sends Benoit into the corner and slaps him in the chest (I refuse to call that a chop, I don't care). Benoit gets a hard whip to the corner in. Bubba gets a side slam for two. Benoit with a belly-to-back (or a release German if you're picky). Benoit whips him into the ropes but gets caught with a reverse neckbreaker, and Spike is tagged in and covers for 2. Spike with a rollup and a bulldog, each getting near falls, and now Benoit's coming back and chopping away at Spike. Backbreaker gets 2. Spike comes back, but gets distracted by Eddy, and there's the Crippler Crossface. Bubba breaks it up, and as Nick Patrick sends Bubba to his corner, Eddy and Benoit double team Spike. Spike is officially the face in peril, and Benoit and Eddy liberally use double teaming as well as basic offense to wear Spike down. Eddy sends Spike shoulderfirst into the ringpost. Benoit holds Spike for an Eddy dropkick, but Spike ducks to cause Eddy to dropkick Benoit. Dudley Dawg, but no cover! Tag to Bubba, and he clotheslines Eddy down, and a power bomb for the cover might have had the pin had Benoit not made the save. Bubba suplexes Benoit, and there's the Flip Flop and Fly to Eddy. Bodyslam, and Spike to the top for the Wazzup Headbutt. "Spike! Get the tables!" This is going to backfire... Benoit attacks Spike on the floor as he sets up the table. Inside, Eddy gets the rana on Bubba, but the Frog Splash misses. Bubba Bomb, and that's the pin at 9:25. Huh? Benoit is pissed, so he attacks Bubba from behind with a release German. Spike in, and he goes for the Dudley Dawg, but Benoit tosses him and sends him through the table to a "Holy shit" chant. Benoit with the Crossface to Bubba, in come the referees to break it up, and as they attempt that, Eddy hits Bubba with the Frog Splash while the Crossface is still on. Sweet spot. The referees have finally broken that up, but they're checking on Bubba.
OK match, terrific spots and postmatch angle. I don't know why the match seemed so bland and flat. Maybe it's ringrust from Benoit, maybe it's because it wasn't formulaic (sometimes that does make a difference), and I question the decision to have Benoit lose his return match when even Sean O'Haire won't lose a return match, but the postmatch angle impressed me. I can't put my finger on it, but maybe it was shade of the old Four Horsemen. Either way, welcome back Chris. We missed you.
We're backstage where The Big Show runs into Darth Vader. The nWo never told him what happened to his father. "Don't you know my father's dead?" "Show, I am your father." "And now you're dead!" Goldust gets some offense in, but in comes Kevin Nash to lay out Goldust. Nash comes off limping a bit, and he tells Show "Same as last week. Get the job done, or I'm kicking your ass."
There's the title belt hanging over the ring. There's a ladder match for the Undisputed Title, did you know that? And here's a look at Jeff Hardy's history with ladders to prove it.
Terri is with The Undertaker, but before he talks about Hardy, he talks about Kurt Angle. Taker says he's not going to tap to Angle on Thursday and move forward to The Rock. Talk about overlooking an opponent. Terri tells Taker to think about tonight because he's never been in a ladder match, and Taker cuts off the interview. JR: "Taker's not too confident."
Well, points for the writing team for remembering the Big Show's father dying angle. How about remembering the good ones and using them to build things up once in a while? Cute bit though.
Is Taker overlooking Hardy? Is he not confident? Is he just cocky? It doesn't really matter because it won't affect the booking of this one at all. But I'm trying to get some sense of psychology in the midst of this one. They're trying to build doubt into the outcome. That's good. It's stupid if they don't let Taker kick his ass and win, and that could be bad knowing these writers.
Backstage, X-Suck has been laid out. See what happens when you stretch too much? You fall down in the locker and knock a chair onto your head. I guess we have a singles match.
One fall: Booker T vs. The Too Damn Big Show
They've awoken the Sleeping Showpottamus! HUGE Beell by Show to start. Booker coming back with punches, but a clothesline turns Booker inside out a la Marty Jannetty. Show with a delayed vertical suplex for a count of 2. Irish whip into a bearhug. Why waste the whip? The arm drops once, it drops twice, but this isn't 1983 so no third drop. Booker punches out of the bearhug, and there's the leg lariat to knock Show down. Booker fights but gets caught with a side slam for 2. That's the second bleep I've heard this segment. Show charges, but Booker pulls the top rope down to send Show to the outside and they brawl on the floor. Show grabs the steps, but Booker with a side kick to Show, and the "stairs hit Show's face" and knock him cold. Booker tries to pick him up, but can't, so he rolls back in and takes the countout for the win at 3:24. A believable ending? Am I watching the right show? And there's the Spinnaroonie! And Booker thinks twice about going to the locker room via the aisle and leaves the arena through the crowd a la DDP. Cut to Nash and HBK on their to ring, with Nash going "I'm knocking him out!"
Not a good match by any means (and how can it be when it involves The Big Show), but a sweet ending. Except for the camera angle being such that I'm assuming Booker kicked Show. Or kicked the steps. Or threw a kick in general. I'm taking JR's word for it. Anyway, nice creative finish, but does this mean The Big Show gets kicked out of the nWo for the third time? Let's find out.
Big Lazy Cool and the Holy Bible Kid are in the ring with Show, and forget the mic work. Nash just uses a right hand. Show retaliates to JR's (and possibly Nash's) surprise. HBK steps in and says "enough of this tough love." Booker realizes he's the real enemy, and since they know Booker took out X-Pac, he'll get his next week. But Shawn has an announcement. The nWo is a dysfunctional family, but a family nonetheless. And they're not the same with a family member missing. One of them is injured, and it's not X-Pac. Gee, who can it be? JR and King play ignorant and piss me off by doing so, so HBK will explain it. Remember King of the Ring when they all came together? Well, in the near future, standing with all these nWo guys will be...the newest member of the New World Order...no one other than... Triple H himself. Oh my God, I am so fucking shocked. I was sure it was Justin Credible. Shawn tells Nash and Show to "kiss and make up", and for our sanity they shake hands...and Show gets met with Sweet Chin Music. So is he still nWo or not? Oh, who gives a rat's ass? And since Show turned into it AND DUCKED HIS HEAD before Shawn threw it... Shawn says "Tough love baby, tough love" and asks for Show to rejoin them.
Why should I care? Really? If Hunter joins them, fine, everyone else will hate him too. If he doesn't, he'll be in the DDP role from 1997 and it will suck. Maybe it will keep him out of the way. And I don't care that it would ruin the "suspense", but JR and Lawler acting like they didn't know who Shawn was talking about pisses me off. Who else did the nWo run into at King of the Ring? You were there calling it! At least give me a "It can't be." Something that doesn't necessarily give it away for those who didn't see it, but something that still shows you pay attention to your own damn product.
McMahon and Taker are backstage, and McMahon is proud of Taker for over 10 years of ruthless aggression. And just to show his appreciation, Taker gets The Rock at Vengeance, whether he's the champion or not. Taker takes offense to the implication that he might lose the title. Not only is Taker going to beat Hardy, but Jeff won't be able to stand.
There's the title above the ring. Did you know you need a ladder to get that belt tonight?
Mr. Extreme's Brother comes into Jeff's locker room to wish him good luck, and Nancy Drew comes in to wish him luck as well. Jeff's calm until he gets to the door, and then starts pounding the door and screaming.
Ladder Match for the Undisputed WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Jeff Hardy
Taker comes out to a solid pop, and we cut to break.
All kidding aside, they've done a great job of building to this one, and it looks like we're getting a fairly lengthy match uncut. Does that mean it'll be any good? If Jeff wins, will Matt play Jamie Knoble and let Jeff have a taste of Lita? If so, will Jeff take a dive? We'll have to wait and see.
What is with Jeff and the flourescent paint? Jeff commits the cardinal sin and gets on Taker's bike. Taker goes after him, but Jeff reenters the ring and dropkicks the ladder into Taker. There's a pescado and we're underway! Hardy stays away from Taker...nope, there's a clothesline from the champion. And Taker's plan is to slow the pace down and beat the living hell out of Hardy. Punches and guardrail shots mostly. And knees, can't forget the Hunter-esque knees. Into a running powerslam position, but Jeff behind the back and throwing Taker into the ladder. Ignore Taker jumping into the ladder please. No time limit in this one. Great. ::rolls eyes:: Hardy has trouble dragging the ladder into the ring, so Taker slaps down the ladder and sends the other end into Hardy's face. Jeff on the apron, and Taker rams the ladder into Hardy and sends him off the apron and into the announcers table. Taker sets up the ladder as if to climb, but he decides he wants to kick Hardy's ass some more. Taker threatens Mark Yeaton as if Yeaton's a threat. Ah, he sends Hardy into the timekeeper's area. That makes some sense anyway. Is that the younger brother from Home Improvement in the crowd? Not the one from WrestleMania XI, the other one. Oh yeah, the match. In the ring, and Taker kicking Hardy in the ribs. And now he throws Jeff face first into the ladder. About eight 12 year old girls are trying to rally Jeff, and he starts punching away for about 6 seconds of offense before Taker knocks him down with one shot. Christ, 10 more minutes of this shit. Hardy is between the ladder and hanging off the apron, and there's Taker with the legdrop off the apron. Sweet move. Hardy is propped up in the corner, and Taker levels him with a clothesline. Taker sets up the ladder in the corner and sends Jeff into it. And the charge, but Jeff has a survival instinct and moves, causing Taker to hit the ladder. Corkscrew moonsault, and this might be Jeff's last shot. He tries to get the ladder in position, but one shot by Taker ends any momentum he'd had. Hardy with a low blow to buy some time, and he leaps off the ladder over the top rope and onto the champion. Problem is the ladder is now on the floor. No problem, Jeff grabs the bigger ladder from underneath the ring. He sets it up, and he's going for it. He needs about two more rungs, but Taker hits him from behind and sets up the Last Ride. Jeff counters with a rana that sends him to the floor and tries to get the belt again. He touches the belt, but Taker with a shot from behind with a chair before pulling Jeff down. Taker sets up for the Last Ride on the chair, but Jeff grabs the chair and gets out of it. Another chair shot, and he might be out! Dammit, Taker, get up! GET UP! Touching the belt...and Taker with chair shots to the back. And now Taker climbs the other end of the ladder. Jeff with one more grab, but Taker choke slams Jeff off of the ladder and grabs the belt at 14:04. Thank God, because World Champion Jeff Hardy would have sucked ass. Taker appears ready to leave, but Jeff is just about standing, and since Taker said he wouldn't be able to stand, Taker's returns to the ring to finish the job. Last Ride! And Taker back to his bike, and this time he drives off...and Hardy shows he's a bigger moron that anybody else by grabbing the mic and saying he's not beat yet because "I'm still standing." Give it the fuck up. Taker goes to the ring and sets up a punch...but he stops, pats Jeff on the head, and raises his hand. Taker shakes his head in disbelief before finally leaving the man to swallow his own tongue.
END OF SHOW
Quite possibly the worst ladder match ever. Some good spots and a nice finish, but it was clear that point was the postmatch respect shown by The Undertaker. Well OK, so I liked that portion of it. It just took way too long to get there. But it's a simple premise. Jeff Hardy got his ass kicked, refused to stay down, refused to quit, and finally one of the toughest men in the business gives him his props. I'm not sure I want to see that kind of credit given to Jeff Hardy when there are other guys I'd rather see get that rub (RVD and Booker among them), but I will admit Jeff deserves something after all the beatings he's taken and all the bumps he's done in the last four years.
Overall, a pretty bland show in my opinion, but some steps in the right direction. Three matches had ample time to develop, so we appear to be slowly moving toward a more wrestling-based format. Only two real interview segments, and neither of them overly long. I'm still not pleased with some of the guys they're building up (the crowds are screaming for RVD and Booker to get pushed to the top), but they're taking some chances, and that's a good thing. As long as the point doesn't become "Will HHH join the nWo" we could be in for some interesting shows.
That's it for me, but when you're done with the barbecues and the fireworks on Thursday, make sure to catch Dr. Tom's look at SmackDown after Thursday's show. Until then, I'm going to show ruthless aggression by beating the hell out of my keyboard for making me rely on spell check.
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