Raw from JHawk's Beak
By Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
Jul 15, 2002, 22:47
Raw from JHawk's Beak (7/15/2002)
by Jared "JHawk" Hawkins
I'd say "support your local indy", but it sounds like a campy James Garner movie: Went to the United Wrestling Council's show on Saturday, and was very impressed with what I saw. Easily one of the best shows I've seen in a while, although I want to know who they think they're fooling when they use WCW and ECW replica belts with "UWC" painted on them for their title belts (or why they used a tag belt and a US belt for their tag team titles). I know what you're thinking. "If it's such a good show, why is there no recap?" Well, I was planning on it but went to a minor league baseball game on Sunday, so chalk it up to trying to have a life outside of wrestling for a change. Anyway, their next show is in Hudson, Ohio on August 25, and not only includes almost three hours of live wrestling, but also a free showing of SummerSlam on big screen TVs, so go to the show and meet your Raw recapper (who will probably write a recap for that show). Those of you in the Northeast Ohio area (particularly between Akron and Cleveland and around Kent State University) should check them out by going to www.pwwlive.com and clicking on "UWC".
Thank you to everybody for their feedback for last week's debut of "Today in Wrestling History", and look for the next edition of that on Thursday. With that in mind, I would like to use the Bruno Sammartino-Larry Zbyszko cage match from Shea Stadium for August 9, so if there's anybody reading this who has an uncut version of that match, and when I say uncut I mean uncut, e-mail me. You'll be rewarded for your efforts with a special mention at the beginning of that column, and I'm sure we can arrange a tape trade as well. By the way, if anybody has a copy of the entire show (or at least a hefty portion of it), I would certainly consider reviewing the entire show on that date.
And now, onto the show.
The Undertaker is backstage with Your God and Mine Paul E. Heyman, and Paul takes credit for tonight's main event: Undertaker and Brock Lesnar vs. Ric Flair and Rob Van Dam. Hot damn! Heyman kisses Undertaker's ass, saying that Brock wants Taker to have the belt at SummerSlam. Taker says it's better for Brock if there's a title change because he has a reputation for making "The Next Big Thing" famous by making him disappear.
Looking at this opening makes me think of the question: "How the hell did The Love Boat stay on the air so much?" OK, so I think different things than you do when you watch these things.
And we are LIVE from the (heavily cut down) Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey! What an incredible tag team main event tonight!
And the nWo theme plays, but it's Mr. McAsshole making his way to the ring. Oh fuck, steal another bad idea from WCW, why don't you? Why is Vince coming out to nWo music? Because we might want to hear it one last time. Is he serious? Why is the crowd actually booing? The nWo is now history! Just like other eras in wrestling: Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales, Superstar Billy Graham, Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, Bret Hart (huge pop), and most recently, the Stone Cold Steve Austin era. But WWE changed with the times, and they must change now. "Asshole" chant for the best news I've heard in weeks. Idiots. Raw was born 10 years ago at the Manhattan Center (and will soon be back there weekly so we can stay in business), but it's time to shake up the entire WWE. And it begins tonight. Two new general managers have been hired, one for each show (which means less Vince, I hope). General manager = owner, I guess. And within the next hour, we'll announce the GM for Raw. Another "asshole" chant, and dear God these people are sheep. This new GM will give us what we really want (RVD main eventing every week?) and what we truly deserve (under WWE logic, all Big Show all the fucking time). There's the locker room looking confused as hell.
Jesus, I miss the news sites for one day and they not only kill of the nWo but promise a new era? I don't normally go to them on Mondays because I hate "potential spoilers" for a live show, so I'm finding out with the TV audience. I don't know if some of you were aware of this prior to the show going on the air, but I'll admit that I know nothing and have no idea who these GMs are going to be. My only real question: Is X-Pac fired? Please say "yes".
We're live from New Jersey and the former Meadowlands Arena!
And Terri is with The Man (WHOO!), and asks about the new GM of Raw. Flair has no idea and won't speculate, but he doesn't know anybody who can do it whose last name isn't McMahon. Oh fuck no! If the initials are SM and it's a female, I think we're dead!
Six Man Elimination Tag Team Match scheduled for one fall: Jeff Hardy (European Champion) and the New Dudley Boyz vs. William Regal, Eddy Guerrero, and Chris BeNOIT
We've added The Dudleyz vs. Eddy and Benoit in a ladder--um, I mean a table match at Vengeance. Damn JR. Think of this as a Survivor Series match with three on each side instead of 4 or 5. All six guys begin to brawl at the bell. Spike and Eddy start, and a weak forearm by Spike gets 2. Spike with a neckbreaker, turnbuckle smash, and a sunset flip, but Eddy rolls through and eliminates Spike with an inside cradle at :57. Bubba is in, and there's the Bubba Bomb, but Regal makes the save. Benoit in, and Bubba takes him down with a spear. Slap to the chest, and he's dominating Benoit until Regal catches him from behind. Regal tagged in, shoulderblock for 2. Series of forearms in the corner. High backdrop by Bubba, and a bodyslam, and into the Dusty Rhodes Flip Flop and Fly. Elbow for two, and Benoit's save attempt misses and hits Regal. Regal and Bubba are legal, but Jeff and Benoit are in as well, and Eddy is in and takes Jeff down with a suplex. Benoit and Jeff are in the ring (so much for legal men), and Jeff gets triple teamed in the corner. Eddy with an elbowsmash, and now pounding away on Jeff. Brain buster (called a suplex by JR) for 2. Regal tagged in, and he gets caught with a high cross body for 2. Regal tagging Benoit in, and a hard backdrop suplex takes Jeff down. Jeff counters a suplex for a near fall, and now the heels isolate Jeff in their own corner. Eddy in, and he pounds away at Jeff. Regal in, and the crowd beginning to rally behind Jeff. Double underhook suplex, and Bubba has to make the save. Jeff gets a dropkick out of desperation, but Regal with a forearm and a suplex. Regal knocks Bubba off the apron, but Jeff starts a comeback before getting glommed by Eddy. Regal grabs the European belt, but Bubba grabs it from him and levels him with it. He gets caught and DQd at 7:50, and Jeff hits the Swanton to eliminate Regal at 8:04. And it's time for a...
I'm not a fan of mid-match commercial breaks, but hot damn this is a good one. Jeff's getting his ass kicked, you're seeing some basic psychology (heels work face-in-peril over in their own corner for about an hour and a half), and now Jeff has to be in classic underdog mode after already being beaten on for most of the match. Good stuff so far.
We're back, and Jeff Hardy is still being double teamed. Nice headbutt by Benoit, and Lawler informs us that Hardy's beating continued throughout the break. Jeff comes out of nowhere by using the double legdrop to the groin into a pin to eliminate Eddy at 11:38, but that doesn't stop Eddy from continuing the beating until the last possible moment. JR is on full Hardy Hype Mode as Jeff hits a spinwheel kick. Earl Hebner with the double count, and out comes Eddy to distract Earl. Regal runs in after hiding on the side of the ring, there's the brass knuckles shot behind the referee's back. Earl is back on the job, and there's the Crippler Crossface. Hardy's still out cold from the knux, so Earl raises the arms three times and awards Benoit the match at 14:03. Postmatch, Eddy rolls a table in the ring. They set it up, but out come Bubba and Spike. Eddy and Benoit take off before any damage can be done.
Coach is outside Vince's office to try to get a scoop on the GM, Coach speculates on Mick Foley and Vince's brother. Heyman is on his way to Vince's office, and apparently Heyman is a possibility after his experience with ECW. Heyman enters the office, and a pretty female technician tells Vince the new GM has arrived.
Eh, I'd have rather seen a clean finish to the match (or at least Benoit cheating on his own), but an excellent match that we are certainly capable of getting every week if they'll allow it. Never say the crowd can't keep their attention spans because they were into that match for the duration. Great job by all involved.
We know the new GM is a "he", so if the worst does come to pass, then it has to come to pass on SmackDown! Therefore, Dr. Tom gets to hear that screeching voice and I can hit the mute button. With my luck, he'll still get a better choice than Raw will just to rub it in.
The live webcast of Vengeance is Sunday, and registration begins at 9am tomorrow morning.
The new GM is here, and Vince is shocked to see Shane McMahon. Vince says the GM isn't Shane, and Shane says that's true, but he doesn't want to allow Vince to make the biggest mistake of his life. Shane calls the new GM a parasite who will end up destroying the company? Bischoff?
Rob...Van...Dam and Tommy Dreamer are in the locker room, and they're glad the GM is apparently not Paul Heyman. Van Dam enjoyed the Van Terminator on Heyman because he's had it coming. RVD excuses himself to get ready, and Steven Richards comes in and congratulates Dreamer for defending all the old ECW guys, but deep down he knows Dreamer only did it to get noticed. So Richards asks for a Singapore cane match with Dreamer. "You whip out your stick, I'll whip out mine." Goldust comes in and says it's an offer too good to be true, which elicits laughter from Richards and Dreamer. Tommy accepts and gets leveled with a stick for his troubles.
Shane set it up so that Eric Bischoff is the only guy I can think of off the top of my head that makes sense, but I'll believe that when I see it. Shane's promo on Vince certainly made it more interesting than it was at the top of the hour. And it's not a McMahon, which is good.
And Dreamer and Richards in an ECW throwback? They actually listened to the crowd reaction from last week. I'm impressed. And a well-placed appearance for Goldust, even if he has nothing to do with that match.
Watch Vengeance at the World this Sunday!
Singapore Cane Match scheduled for one fall: Steven Richards vs. Tommy Dreamer
An ECW chant starts right at the bell as they both use the canes to their advantage both in and out of the ring. Dreamer grabs the steel steps, but Richards is waiting with a stick to the head. And another shot to the head that breaks part of the stick (and busts Dreamer open). And a suplex onto the metal ramp. Back into the ring, and Richards stomps away at Dreamer's cut. And now he chokes Dreamer with his stick (God, this sounds disgusting if you're not paying attention). A stick is set up in the corner, and Richards whips Dreamer into it. I don't know how much pain there actually is when you get hit with a bamboo stick, but it sounds good, by God. Dreamer finally takes control with some cane shots of his own. Swing and a miss, Steviekick is blocked, and Dreamer with a DDT for 2. Dreamer to the second rope, but he gets caught with the Steviekick for thr...TWO? Damn! Dreamer catches Stevie in the side of the head with the kendo stick, and that shatters the stick and Stevie's skull. It also gets the pin at 4:16. Ouch!
Backstage, Coach catches up to Booker T, and even though there's no nWo, Booker still gets to face The Big Show tonight. One month ago, they were celebrating when Michaels laid out Booker, but now they're dead and Booker wants Coach to help him celebrate with a Coacharoonie. Coach tries to refuse, and Booker says The Rock can't lay claim to being the only one to make fun of announcers when he's on SmackDown, so get to spinning. Coach can't do it and gets booed. Booker: "You sure you're black, dog?" Booker is going to show the Show why you don't mess with a 5-time WCW champion...and in walks Eric Bitchoff. Booker: "Tell me I didn't just see that."
Holy shit, I was right? Here I was trying to talk myself out of it, and I was right? But if Eric Bischoff is the general manager, I don't think the nWo is dead and buried yet.
As for the match, not bad. I don't need every match to have an ECW feel to it, but had they been doing this type of thing a year ago with these guys, maybe the InVasion wouldn't have bombed so badly. Both guys tried hard, and they certainly didn't bore me.
I was right? Bischoff? Oh my.
We're back live, and it's the top of the hour, so Mr. McAsshole has to make appearance number four of the evening. "It takes a real son of a bitch to make it in this business..." so Eric Bischoff is announced as the GM, and he comes out to "Back in Black". An nWo hint? He hugs Vince...I never would have believed that one. The last time Bischoff was JR's boss, JR lasted about a week before he got fired. Don't celebrate yet, JR wasn't in a position of power then. In case we don't know Bischoff (and we wish he didn't), he used to run WCW, and not the watered down version that invaded a year ago. Eric was the only person to take it to Vince McMahon (which is true). In fact, when it came to ruthless aggression, who do you think he was talking about? JR: "He's ruthless, folks." Bischoff signed everybody he had (and bankrupted the company with those contracts). He signed Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan just because he could. But he took the McMahon monopoly and gave it a swift kick in the crotch. When Vince was on trial with the federal government, he took his eye off the ball, and that's when he made his move. His success wasn't because of Turner's money, but because of innovation. Remember giving away results of taped Raws two minutes before showtime? Remember Alundra Blayze throwing the title belt into the garbage can? She didn't want to, but she did. Eric forced Vince to change the way he did TV. He did it single-handedly. Whose horn is he tooting here, anyway? Which company is still in business? Oh yeah, the nWo? Eric's idea. Not some stale retread. Nitro beat Raw 84 weeks in a row (no mention of the 100-plus that the WWF ran off after that), and Eric came "this close" to putting the WWF out of business. Granted, he was surprised that Vince made him this offer (and I'm surprised there hasn't been an asshole chant yet), but Eric thinks he's the one guy who can turn WWE Raw around. And we kick it off Sunday at Vengeance. Because the only piece of talent he couldn't sign away was Triple H. Umm...weren't you the guy who didn't think he was worth the money when you actually had him? "The WWE needs me"...no..."you people deserve me"...hell no...and he's going to put the E in WWE.
Backstage, Show is smiling, nobody else is. Flair looks pissed.
Excuse me for having a bad feeling about this, but I have a bad feeling about this. Somehow the Triple H angle has no purpose with no nWo for him to join (hell, that was a selling point of the PPV), and I don't really think anybody gives a shit which show he's on when it's all WWE anyway. I have no idea how much power Bischoff's actually going to have (you know Vince isn't giving away final say), but let's be honest. He had Austin and let him go. He had Hunter and let him go. He had Foley and let him go. And he let the inmates run the asylum. If he has any legit power at all, bad move. If he's merely a TV figurehead (as it should be and probably is), it should make for some really good TV. As always, take a wait and see attitude with it, but I can't help but worry about this one.
Taker and Bradshaw are backstage. Bradshaw doesn't think Eric could possibly be worse than Vince, and in comes Bischoff to kiss Taker's ass. Bradshaw interrupts to introduce himself, and Eric ignores him to tell Taker that if he needs anything at all, to let him know.
One fall for the WWE Women's Championship: Trish the Cheating Bitch vs. Pure and Wholesome Molly Holly (Champion)
Arm wringer by Molly to start. Lawler's monitor is apparently out. Oh, damn. Molly gets the early advantage and slams Trish by the hair for a count of 2. Neckbreaker by Molly for another count of 2. Molly with a whip into the corner, but Trish coming back. Trish is able to get the handstand headscissors, and a dropkick takes her down. Kawada kick by Trish for 2, and will someone tell Lawler to look at at the fucking ring already? Trish up on Molly's shoulders, there's the victory roll for 2. Molly coming back, and a backbreaker gets 2. Trish ducks a clothesline, and she attempts the Stratusfaction, but Molly counters with a back suplex and uses the ropes to get the pin at 3:02 to retain the title.
Backstage, Flair and Bischoff run into each other, and Bischoff wants to leave their problems in the past. Flair is giving Bischoff the evil eye. Flair excuses himself to get ready for his match.
Up next...Booker T vs. The Big Show.
Christ, Bischoff gets a 10-minute promo, then appears twice in the next segment? He's wearing his welcome out already, and it's been less than half an hour. Nice to see they're actually using the history and heat between Bischoff and the wrestlers to build to things, but Flair and JR in particular are making this almost too believable.
As for the match, I didn't know it was common practice to badly blow a match and get rewarded with a title shot on TV the next week, but at least it came off without too much of a hitch. Nothing spectacular, but compared to the mixed match last week it looked like Flair-Steamboat.
One fall: Booker T vs. The Too Damn Big Show
I guess we can rule out Booker T getting that clean win over the nWo now, huh? Although certain members of our staff will like the return of "Big" as a theme song. Oh, and X-Pac's on a "leave of absence". Anyway, Big Show is starting off in control. Hard slaps to the chest echo throughout the arena. LOOK AT THE GODDAMN RING, LAWLER! Shit, you're sitting in front of the front row, and you're bitching about the monitor. Delayed vertical suplex by Big Show, and an elbow, but Booker T comes firing back with rapid punches and chops. Show catches him with a side slam for 2 to break the momentum. Booker coming back with a superkick, and there's a leg lariat to the face. A clothesline sends both men over the top rope. Show charges Booker but misses and hits the steps knees first. Booker goes for Show with a chair. Show brings a chair into the ring, and Booker grabs it and charges, but Show punches the chair. Show grabs the chair, and Nick Patrick gets shoved down in an attempt to stop Show from using it. A couple of chair shots, and Booker wins by DQ in 3:22. Postmatch, Show puts Booker through the broadcast table with a choke slam. That should shut Lawler up about the damned monitors. Booker's still down.
Backstage, King Brock I is using part of the set to workout, and Heyman said he couldn't have put them in a better negotiating position. Heyman says Taker has no idea that the true goal of tonight's main event is to take out RVD before Vengeance.
Is there some law in the WWE that says "Thou shalt not allow Booker T to get a clean win over inferior opponents"? I mean, shit, Show's allegedly no longer part of the nWo anymore, and Booker STILL can't beat him cleanly. My God!
Anyway, I know I've been overreacting a bit about Lawler complaining about the monitor, because they're supposed to look at the monitor so they know what the home audience is seeing. But with respect, there are people sitting behind them that paid nearly $100 for their seats, and they don't get their own monitor. Unless you count the Titantron, which works the same way as a monitor and could easily be used by Lawler in a pinch.
The WWE gives their condolences to the family of Jimmy Miranda, who was director of merchandise and passed away this week. I never met the man, but allow me to also give my condolences in their time of need.
For the WWE Hardcore Championship: Christopher Nowinski vs. Bradshaw (champion)
Didn't Nowinski say two weeks ago that he didn't want the Hardcore Title? Well, Bradshaw can't lose. There's a Texas sticker on the belt, by God. Nowinski tries to get out of the match (oh, OK, I get it now). Chris has a proposition so simple "even you can understand it. No offense!" He's going to take a dive. Yeah, I buy this. Nowinski lies down, there's the bell, and sure enough, there's a small package for 2. Bradshaw is quickly in control with a Big Boot and a clothesline that send Nowinski to the floor. Of course, Bradshaw follows him outside and continues the onslaught. Steel steps right to the face. Nowinski tries to leave, but falls count anywhere, so Bradshaw picks up the chase. Backstage they go, and Bradshaw is still dominating the matchup. And from behind comes Johnny the Bull Stamboli, who takes out Bradshaw and wins the Hardcore Title at 2:00.
Big Show goes into Bischoff's office, and Bischoff doesn't even know why he's got the GM job, but he's got it. Show thought he was screwed with the nWo gone, but now that Bischoff's here things are looking up. He has a pain in the ass (and a huge pain it is), and he wants a no holds barred match with Booker T at Vengeance. Booker on a PPV? About damn time. Bischoff can make the match, but he doesn't want to make a match on his first night in and piss Vince McMahon off. But he'll take the chance anyway. It's on! Bischoff seems disgusted that he had to touch Show, and he watches the Triple H DVD.
OK, maybe half of the audience has even seen Johnny the Bull on Heat, and he wins the Hardcore Title? This is why nobody gives a shit about the title. Now Stamboli and Sean O'Haire can feud over it on Heat and the world never has to care. The sad thing is Bradshaw could have brought the title a little bit of respect had they allowed it to be defended in the last six weeks, and he loses it to somebody most of the crowd has never seen.
Johnny the Bull is celebrating his victory in Bischoff's office and thanks Bischoff for the opportunity to compete on Raw, and he'll give that same opportunity to any other young wrestler. Bradshaw runs in with a Clothesline from Hell, and there's the pin and title change at :04.
Heyman informs Brock that the anticipation of the main event is better than sex (like he would know), and there's the staredown between Taker and Brock. The match is next.
And once again, this is why nobody gives a shit about the Hardcore Title. Anything else I say there is repeating what's already been said tonight.
One fall main event: King Brock I (w/Your God and Mine Paul E. Heyman) and The Undertaker (Undisputed WWE Champion) vs. The Man (WHOO!) and Rob...Van...Dam (Intercontinental Champion)
Flair and Taker start, and Flair with a headlock. Off the ropes, Taker with the shoulder knocks him down. Knucklelock, Taker with the leverage advantage. There are the Flair chops (WHOO!), the tag to RVD, and a flying bodypress by RVD to Taker for 2. Taker reverses a whip and follows in with a clothesline. Taker misses the boot and RVD works over Taker's legs. Tag to Flair, and the legs are Flair's specialty. Figure four on already, and he even gets the shoulders down for 2, but Taker breaks with a chokehold. Flair breaks that with a low blow, and there are some punches, but it's Taker with a choke slam and cover, and RVD makes the save. Tag made to Brock, and he works over Flair with shoulders in the corner. Whip to the corner, and a shoulderblock followthrough. And again. Series of stomps, and Brock now with a boot choke. Flair is officially face-in-peril as he gets caught with a couple of backbreakers. Flair slides to the ropes, but his head hangs over the apron, and Undertaker drops the leg on him. Ouch. Brock goes for the pin but picks Flair up (uh oh). Tag to Taker, and he punches away at Flair in the corner. Flair tries to fight back with chops, but it's Taker off the ropes with a flying clothesline. Flair rolls to the ropes out of instinct, and Taker misses an elbow (and his reaction gets bleeped). Flair to the top, and he's wearing red and therefore probably set to do the job. He gets caught up top, and Taker with a superplex. RVD makes the save. Brock in, and he pounds away at Flair. Shoulderblocks in the corner, and he catches Flair with a powerslam. Whip into the corner and a charge, but Flair finally moves and Brock hits the ringpost. Flair with a suplex and a count of 2, but so far no hot tag. Tag to Taker, and HOT TAG to RVD. Spinwheel kick, and RVD dropkicks Brock off the apron. RVD works over both men. Rolling thunder, and Lesnar makes the save. Earl allows Brock in illegally, and a flying side kick is followed by a split-legged moonsault, and Earl counts until Taker (the legal man) makes the save. Brock catches Flair with the F5, but RVD with the kick and the Five Star Frog Splash to Brock. But Taker's the legal man, and he gets RVD in the Last Ride and pins him at 10:02. Well, Flair wore red and didn't do the job himself, but he still remains winless in the last 10 years when wearing red. And Brock attacks Taker from behind (!) and takes him down with the F5 (!!!!!!!) to a nice pop (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). He holds the belt, then puts it over Taker.
Backstage, Eric looks for a phone number on a sheet of paper and uses his cell phone to make a call. And he calls The Rock and kisses his ass in an attempt to sign Rock to Raw. He'll talk to him at SmackDown!
END OF SHOW
Pretty solid main event overall, but the key here is postmatch. Could Brock be getting over? Or was that pop simply out of shock that he went after Taker? Either way, that's the biggest reaction, positive or negative, that he's gotten thus far, and that might have been exactly what he needed to get over. Will it hold past Vengeance? That's another matter entirely. I'm going to guess that the live crowd didn't see the Bischoff cell phone segment, as there was no reaction to The Rock's name being mentioned. Now why didn't Bischoff say The Rock was the one name he couldn't sign? That would have made more sense.
Overall, more steps in the right direction. Some terrific wrestling, some solid booking, and one of the few legit surprises they still had left by bringing Bischoff in. Of course, the ratings will hold steady, and this effort will be called a failure before they even get this "new era" off the ground. That would be typical.
Remember to catch Dr. Tom's SmackDown recap sometime after the show goes off the air, and I'll be back Thursday with "Today in Wrestling History".
Comments? Criticisms? Bored out of your fricking mind? E-mail me.
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