Dear Mr. Marek,
Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our reviews with you. I got this finished as fast as I could. I realize that the synopsis (recap) part is a little long-ish, but I can be shorter. I'd like to get a journalisim degree after I finish my BA, and right now I'm an English major and I enjoy creative writing. I keep a website at willmatheson.com - part of the dying breed of peronal websites by the non-famous. I love listening to the LAW - I think you guys are hilarious (and you know things are getting bad in WWE when you are doing a Rena Maro impersonation), but also good broadcasters. Anyway, here's my audition. (Now I can go watch the fifth overtime of Anaheim at Dallas!)
WWE SmackDown! for 04/24/2003
(Taped 04/22/2003 in Nashville TN at the Gaylord Entertainment Center)
Results: John Cena def. Rhyno via pinfall, Chris Benoit def. Nunzio via submission, Rey Mysterio def. Crash Holly via pinfall, Rikishi and Rowdy Roddy Piper "wrestle" to a DQ, Dawn Marie and Nidia win the Sable Invitational, Shelton Benjamin def. Chavo Gurrero via pinfall, Tajiri def. Big Show via count-out, Brock Lesnar and A-Train wrestle to a DQ.
The Good: Cena and FBI stole the show. Cena was on fire, and the FBI were hilarious. Did I say that Cena was on fire? He had a decent match with Rhyno, but his out-of-ring stuff impressed me more. I think we'll have a new showstopper in a year or so. Shelton Benjamin and Chavo Gurrero had a good match, and Lesnar v A-Train had great heat. Almost everything on the show worked to set up matches at Backlash.
The Bad: Piper in the ring. His punches were the weakest I've seen in three years. He's worse than Hogan! Fortunately they kept the match short and put over O'Haire. The Sable Invitational was a little silly, but it was still on the "hot" side. This is a show where you can qualify any negative with a positive. But then there's Josh Matthews.
The Ugly: Stephanie McMahon saying that she's "no Torrie Wilson." I guess WWE has given up on covering that up! Why should Mr. America / Hogan be such a big deal when we've got John Cena and the FBI on TV?
The Rock may still be in the opening video, but we do well tonight without him. Rikishi and Roddy are advertised. "Can Piper handle Rikishi?" The Sable Invitational is advertised, and Cole thinks it's golf. Brock & A-Train will be the main event. ... Cena comes out in Nets gear to boos while Tazz plugs him on the cover of RAW. Cena accuses the crowd of "playing hooky" on Thugenomics. He gives the Cliff Notes on himself: Who is the Number One Contender? Who beat Eddie Gurrero? Who beat Undertaker? (asked with no apparent irony) Who beat Chris Benoit? Who's going to be the next WWE Champion? Cena calls Brock a liar and promises footage to expose him for who he really is (disrecspectful, heartless, doesn't deserve the championship). Rhyno interrupts. ... Rhyno v Cena: Cena pulls a leg drop from the top rope on Rhyno on the ropes, and Rhyno sells his neck. Cena chokes Rhyno over the wall. They get into some holds and two counts. Good match so far, and the crowd seems to like it, but it's hard to judge the crowd since SmackDown! is sweetened; but it looked good to me. People were into Rhyno, though he was a little weak on some of the kick outs. He goes for the Gore!! but Cena knees him, gets the roll up, and pins him. ... O'Haire and Roddy come through backstage before the first commercial break ("*Hot* Rod! That's why I've got six kids!"). ... On The Score, there's a promo for WWE's upcoming visit to Halifax - we get Chris Benoit and Al Snow at the news conference, which is pretty cool. (I hope someone asks Snow what he really felt about Hardcore Holly on Tough Enough.) ... Coming back, we get the Mr. America video. I've never really associated the fighting spirit of America with Hogan, and I think if anyone's doing this gimmick, it should be Angle (who's good enough that he doesn't need it). Tazz: "With a name like that, he'd better be good. I don't know who he is, but he personifies America - he looks like me: same height, same gotee..." Don't we wish. ... FBI & Beniot bit from "earlier today" - Nunzio mentions what they did to Taker and Jones, and they tell Beniot that since he lost to Cena, they lost too. They had a bet on Benoit, and want him to pay them today or pay them today. Benoit: "You want to collect?" Nunzio: "I didn't say he's stupid, just toothless." Benoit: "You can collect out in the ring tonight." Good challenge, one that's genuinely interesting for a change. Furthermore, the FBI is a fantastic gimmick and they represent the right way to do wrestling comedy - they're funny, but they can hurt you! ... We get an awful Josh Matthews interview (actually, they're all awful, but he's on the Tough Enough Welfare Program so he's not going anywhere) with Sable, who actually looks hot from this angle. Josh asks about the Sable Invitational. Sable asks him if he'd agree with her catchphrases ("Would you agree that all the men come to see me and all the women want to be me? Would *you* come to see me?"), and she puts the moves on him, drawing attention to her "volumpuous breasts" (note the pronounciation), "nice tight abs," "luscious curves," and "Sable-licious butt." She says she'd agree with that and announces that she will be judging a "hottest female body competition." Actually, I was hoping it would be golf. Tazz: "I don't think Josh can move. He's frozen stiff." Ha-ha. Like Coach, but *worse.* WHERE do they dig up these people? ... A commercial announces that we can go to HMV and buy one of three selected WWE DVDs and get a RAW 10th Anniversary 'sampler' disc. Guys, the entire SHOW would make up a sub-par "free gift." ... We come back with Tazz and Cole putting over Nashville and showing the superstars at a naval base in Norfolk. On board the USS Vella Gulf, Rey, Rhyno, Sable, and Dawn Marie are shown signing autographs. ... Tazz sings a few lines of "In the Navy" while Nunzio is introduced as weighing "201 and one quarter pounds" - clever. They show Jones choking Nunzio last week, then the match where he gets "whacked" by the FBI, featuring a kick by Polumbo and the steel steps. "Jones is at home recovering." He should be at home in Ohio, if you gather my meaning. ... Benoit v Nunzio: Benoit perceives the 3 on 1 and is hesitant to join in, so Nunzio jumps on him, then the other two rough him up and put him in the ring. Nunzio covers, Benoit kicks out, Nunzio kicks him around a bit, then goes to work with holds and whatnot. Benoit comes back with chops which Nunzio sells pretty well. All in all, another good match (*two* in a row, making up for last week - wait, we get Piper v Rikishi; never mind). While this is going on a stray comment along the lines of, "even though Josh is a virgin" is let go - way to put over the announcers, guys! It's bad enough that Coach acts like some guy who can't get laid. Nunzio chops and kicks, and Benoit kicks Ninzio in the back of the head (this looked great). Benoit gets him with the running forearm, a back body drop; then he cracks open the Germans, getting one, and a second half-German into Polumbo. Stamboli gets involved, but is quickly thrown into the ring pole. Nunzio goes for the Areverderchi but Benoit counters and Nunzio taps to the Crippler Crossface. Benoit then gets the CF on Pulumbo, he taps, but then Stamboli comes in and Stam and Plunmbo start beating on Benoit. Pulumbo gives him a good kick and the full beat-down commences. Stamboli gives him a power slam with Nunzio directing traffic and giving Benoit some punches in the face. Says Tazz of the FBI: "My people told me they're bad people." Again, they're doing really well with this gimmick. They've gone through Taker and Jones (thank you!) and now they're getting heat for leveling Benoit, who they leave alone in the ring, down but stirring. ... We come back from break to Funaki (hey, how come he's not announcing? He's better than JM!) and Tajiri watching Rey's 619 on Big Show. They make jokes in Japanese and freeze the tape on Show's funny incredulous wide-eyed look, then Tajiri impersonates it and Big Show comes in and destroys the TV. Gee, they're destroying Sony TVs for this angle, they must have big aspirations for it. ... Rey comes out, then Matt Hardy (rock on! Lita's not here yet for her heel turn, though). Today's Matt Fact is that Matt only uses low-fat salad dressings (now think about that - it keeps with the "dropping pounds to be a crusierweight" angle! They're finally listening to us!). Matt introudces Rey's opponent, who hangs with Shannon Moore... Crash!! (this is a follow-up from Velocity where Crash was an MF-er in training) Crash is now the Original Moore-on. No, that title should be reserved for Hardcore. Anyway, Matt joins Tazz and Cole and the match starts. ... Crash Holly v Rey Mysterio: Crash digs into Rey right away. Matt's not saying anything, just scouting the match. Matt keeps his expressions going and stays in character just while watching. We get into the holds, and eventually Rey gets the leg scissors on Crash, Crash counters the Bulldog with a back suplex, Rey gets Crash with a drop-toe-hold-take-down, then tosses Rey outside, where Moore gives him a kick and puts him back. Crash goes for the pins but Rey kicks out twice. Mysterio gets the bulldog and a springboard off the top rope, finishing Mysterio with a DDT Tornado. Crash kicks out. Moore tries to distract, but Rey gets the leg scissors on Crash, then the 619, and then Mysterio climbs up and tosses Moore right over the corner! Rey comes down with a "dynamite crash" and pins Crash. Matt doesn't look happy; he looks like Bobby Clarke in the manager's box in Toronto. Rey taunts Matt, since they're going to fight this Sunday. This was a pretty good match, and the Backlash match should be much better. ... Cena's in the back with A-Train, telling him how he has to hurt Brock tonight. Cena shows A-Train his previous match with Lesnar, featuring a positively UGLY F5 (just be thankful it wasn't Kurt Angle on the receiving end). Gem of the night: "That ain't F5, that's a nosedive!" A-Train comes back with one of his best verbals and says that Lesnar could have ruined his career. He grabs Cena by the collar. "Do you know how that felt? He almost killed me! Tonight he'll feel my pain!" A-Train leaves and Cena looks quite satisfied. ... We come back from break and out comes Rikishi for whom the crowd pops big. Hmm, they've had a good show so far, so they should be in a good mood. Piper and O'Haire come out to mixed reaction, Piper being billed at 240 pounds (!!). We see a "Scottish Stink Face" sign. It seems inevitable, but Vince actually doesn't want Rikishi to do Stink Faces very often anymore - he wants Rikishi to have more of an attitude. In this case an exception ought to be made (and probably will be at the PPV). ... Rikishi v Rowdy Roddy Piper: Piper takes off his kilt and shirt (I know, I know) to reveal that he's in the proper trunks and boots. Sean interferes and Piper gets the low blow for the early edge. Piper's punches look REEALLLY weak. Piper spills some snow on the mat and puts a little on his fists, but it doesn't help him very much. Rikishi gets off a few punches which Piper (over)sells. Rikishi kicks him in the gut, and Piper is into the corner. O'Haire distracts and gets tossed to the wall for his trouble. A punch to Piper and he's in the Stink Face Postion, but O'Haire punches Rikishi from behind - that's it, DQ, it's over. O'Haire jumping spin kicks Rikishi in the chin, which looked pretty good. I love O'Haire's character. O'Haire give Rikishi a power slam for good measure, then they take off. So, WWE gets my MAD props for keeping this short. I actually found it kind of entertaining, but probably for the wrong reasons. ... We get the Backlash ad with Cena and Lesnar (me likes), too bad it couldn't come out sooner. We come back with the French guys who question, among other things, the American tendency to build peace through war (hey, it's better than "The Great Debate"). "We French have class... You will learn the hard way... Don't be Afraid." Me likes a lot! Say what you will about WWE going back into the past, but after tonight I have hope that they'll be able to strike the right balance. Maybe. ... Out comes Sable for the female body challenge. At least Sable isn't participating. "Not too many girls look hot from 100 yards, Cole!" Oh, that's too much. Personally, I get deflated when I see her wrinkly elbows while she climbs into the ring, but anyway... Sable thanks the audience and says that since she's been back, everyone keeps telling her how she is so sexy that there is no competition. Uh-HUH. She says that she's the best qualified to judge her competition. She says that Torrie didn't accept the challenge because Torrie was too fat, "so here's hoping Torrie can suck in her gut and come out!" - NOT FUNNY, I mean, she was battling anoerexia - hello! Maybe they're doing it deliberatley, hoping we watched Confidential. But then we might be offended, mightn't we? Oh, well. Out comes Nidia, "a southern tomato" and her opponent Dawn Marie - haven't seen her for a while, and Tazz echoes me as I watch - Dawn walks out in a white dress and she looks pretty hot as per usual, so I'm wondering why she hasn't been around. She played nice with Vince and did the lesbian angle, right? ... Sable Invitational: Sable lays down the rules - "When I say go you have 15 seconds to show me why you should win." Nidia is about to disrobe when Torrie comes out. Nidia had some great expressions as she watches Torrie waltz into the ring. Torrie says that one can't have a bikini challenge without the Playboy cover girl. Sable icily says she can't wait to see her bikini. Nidia disrobes, and she doesn't *look* too bad but she overdoes the "trashy" stuff and gets huge boos. I know that she's a heel but she should still look more sexy than ridiculous in something like this. Anyway, she plays the part well. Out comes Dawn Marie, who Cole says is more sensual (Tazz: "Ya think?"). She's looking fine, and has little leopard-ish spots on her bikini. I'd say we've hit 11/10 for the Smut Factor. Now it's Torrie's turn, and she goes ALL OUT, complete with lollipop and a red sequin bikini - and she PUTS THE MOVES ON SABLE!! She feeds her the lolipop and gives her a crotch rub with her ass. Wow. I've got to say something about these 'contests' though: it's all in the dress; I mean, they could get the fans behind Nidia if they wanted to. It's especially obvious when they let the fans pick the winner; it's easy to dress the heels less well to make the fans pick who WWE want; it's all worked style and poise. (Well, everything's worked, but you know what I mean. I'm just waiting for Nidia and Noble to get a proper push.) Sable is about to declare a winner and she tells Torrie to keep her hands down. She calls it a tie and give the victory to Nidia and Dawn Marie. You ought to see Nidia dancing - it's funny. They all gang up on Torrie, and Dawn and Nidia hold her down so Sable can come in for a taunt. I'd say we've hit a 25/10 for the smut factor. They leave Torrie alone in the ring. We go to break with Los Gurreros backstage walking out for their match. ... I must say that sketch with Sable and Torrie was pretty hot, in a good sort of way; it was far better than that stupid catfight at WrestleMania or (gasp!) HLA (the less said about that the better); those weren't hot at all. ... We come back with a Confidential promo - Holy ****, Kurt's wife is on TV! It'll be a show on the surgery. Heck, I'm actually going to WATCH Confidential this week, I don't care whose house I have to suffer through waiting for the good stuff! ... Out comes Team Angle, Shelton Benjamin the one who's wrestling. They show something they taped with Team Angle speaking about Kurt Angle and the 3 I's - following them is why they're the champs, and they're going to dedicate their victory at Backlash to Kurt Angle. Not a super promo, but there was feeling behind it and it was buyable (pardon the pun). Out come the Gurreros, and Chavo is to wrestle. This ought to be good. ... Shelton Benjamin v Chavo Gurrero: Benjamin gets off the double leg takedown, and then we get into rolling around and punches, good mat stuff. There's a knockdown but Benjamin's on top, then Chavo gets Benjamin with a standing drop kick and a clothesline. Benjamin falls out of the ring and Eddie is seen "stalking" him. Benjamin gets back in the ring, and Chavo gets off a good upercut, and then some kicks in the corner. He slams Benjamin and goes up to the second rope and drops down, but Benjamin kicks out of the cover. Benjamin gives Chavo a good overthrow. Chavo ends up in the corner and down, and then some Benjamin gets some kicks on Chavo and puts him into a long hold. Hass talks up Benjamin while Eddie talks up Chavo. Chavo gets hold of the rope and breaks the hold, and Shelton gives him a nice body drop, which Chavo kicks out out. Cole says that Eddie is playing cheerleader and Tazz says, "I like Eddie, but he's not really hot." Chavo gets a good face plant on Benjamin with *great* height, and Chavo goes for the pin. Benjamin JUST kicks out. Chavo goes for the STF and they tease a Benjamin tap out to save himself for the PPV. Haas pulls Benjamin to the ropes, then Eddie starts laying on him. Chavo gets Benjamin down, but there's a roll over with Hass' help and Benjamin wins with the tights AND the ropes. "Not a pretty win right there." You're telling me - but I guess we've got to save these guys for Backlash. Things turn into a brawl, and the Gurreros get the best of it. Eddie launches Chavo into a great drop kick which nails both Anglers. Hass taunts the Gurreros with the belts. I think Los Gurreros are going over Sunday, and I can't complain about that. This match was good, but for these guys it was simply par for the course, knowing what they're capable of. Sunday night should rock. ... We see Cena talking to Brock via the camera with A-Train in the background. He rhymes "pain" and "A-Train." I like how they're using an A-Train match to put over Cena. ... We come back with the Big Show (I swear they just have him on here to promote his guest appearances on UPN sitcoms) coming down the ramp. Mysterio is watching backstage. Out comes Tajiri. ... Big Show v Tajiri: Tajiri gets off some good kicks but BS just knocks him down. BS lifts Tajiri and throws him into the turnbuckle (biiiiig height). BS gives Tajiri a big slap and Tajiri is in the Stink Face Position but lower. BS picks him up and slaps him down again, then gives him a foot choke. After BS lets go and Tajiri has crawled out of the corner, BS charges from the middle but Tajiri ducks down and lets BS get hung up on the top rope (with his feet on the mat - Oh, *that* looked "great!"). Tajiri comes back with some kicks to BS' legs, then some slaps and a flip at the ropes, but BS boots him in the back. BS roars, then Mysterio's music hits. BS stares at the ramp, waiting for him to come out (Oh, won't these wrestlers ever LEARN? It's a trick, BS!). This is where Tajiri gets a huge comeback! BS is on his knees, but then he chokeslams Tajiri. Hey, it looked impressive. Mysterio shows up on the ropes, BS chases him around the corner, Mysterio hides behind the steps, BS kicks and tosses the steps but Mysterio is nowhere to be found. Mysterio attacks from behind and then runs up the ramp, and BS... got counted out!! Tajiri wins! BS is mad. You know, I think the BS match at Backlash could be watchable; if Tajiri can do it, Mysterio can. ... We see Lesnar lifting carbon dioxide tanks backstage. Looks good. We see the ad for Rock v Goldberg featuring this week's chair hits and almost nothing else. ... We come back with a less-than-flattering shot of Stephanie from behind (WWE, this is not the way we want to see McMahons on television). She begins her spiel with, "I'm no Torrie Wilson... (You're telling me! Her ass was the size of the moon!) but I'm an All-American woman and..." blah blah blah, and she puts over the signing of "Mr. America" and airs the extended video which begins with Martin Luther King (look, I think it's an insult to these historic figures and events to lump them in with Hogan, brother). ... Back to the announce table. Tazz: "I did some research. I know something about Mr. America. He's American." They run the Backlash card (I love it when they run the PPV cards; this PPV ought to be better than last year's Backlash). ... Out comes Cena, ready to rap. He lays it out on Lesnar - hilarious, really. "With a knife and dictionary you still couldn't cut a promo right." And then he rhymes Prototype. Amazing. We were cheated at Mania. Out comes A-Train. Crowd seems passive after heeling-out for Cena. Cena goes to the announce table. Out comes Lesnar. I could hear a girl screaming really loud. They like him. But no more comedy, please. Lesnar does his dance next to the ring, then climbs the ropes... NEW PYRO! Like Kane's, but half, and it's sparks and white. Mercifully, we go to break (if you're going to shorten a match by commercial break, make it on with A-Train!). Unmercifully, we get Mark Lloyd, but at least he's mentioning Halifax (We're on TV! Yeayyy! That's how starved we are for attention. We're a big-ish city but nobody cares about us.) ... Brock Lesnar v A-Train: We come back to see the match underway with Lesnar and A-Train fighting on the ropes. Cole and Tazz ask Cena some pointed questions (too much going on at once; they should have just interviewed Cena, but I guess they felt they needed a distraction from the match). "Shave your back!" gets over like "What?" Brock takes down A-Train gets him in the front face lock. A-Train gets up and drives Brock into the corner. Brock starts shouldering A-Train in the gut but A-Train gets out and punches Lesnar, and throws him around. A stand-off ensues, then Brock and A-Train collide in the middle. Tazz: "Like two Semis!" Yes... Brock gets the worst of it, but he gets up and "Let's go Lesnar!" takes off. A-Train gets a bit of an edge on Brock, but Brock comes back with the clothesline, gets A-Train in the corner again, more shoulders to the gut... HEY, GUYS, CALL THE MATCH!! Lensar tosses A-Train down to the front of the announce table. Lots of girlie screams from the crowd. Cena takes his shirt off and taunts Brock while Brock beats on A-Train and puts A-Train back in the ring. Brock looks at Cena while he climbs the ropes, so he takes a vicious kick from A-Train. A-Train puts Brock back in the ring and goes for the pin but Brock kicks out. Cena accuses Mike Kyoto of being out of postion. Brock is on the ropes, and A-Train is in with the kicks. Cole accuses Cena of wanting Brock at less than 100%. A-Train gets the Decapitator on Brock and covers him, but Brock is under the ropes so he reaches up and gets out of being pinned. A Cena chant I've never heard before takes off (I don't think we have to worry about him not getting over just because of his match with Undertaker). A-Train works the holds on Brock. The crowd starts hand slapping and making a LOT of noise - they're into Brock. The camera spends most of the time at the announce table. Who edited this match? But it's okay because Cena is great - his expressions and incredulous replies are amazing. Brock back on his feet... this place is NUTS... Brock gets the comeback, but they collide again. A-Train's still on his feet, and A-train takes it to Brock again. Brock gets the Spine-buster and both are on the mat. The ref counts to 4, and A-Train is up first. Brock comes back with some shots to the mid section and two clotheslines. A-Train into the corner. Lesnar gets a Sidewalk Slam and a two-count on A-Train. Brock gets the suplex on A-Train, it isn't much better than that bad F5, but he survived. (What is it with these two guys?) A-Train gets the Derailurer. Brock kicks out. Crowd is nuts. Cena is going nuts. Brock gets the F5. Cena gets up from the table and interrupts the count, causing the DQ. Cena has a chain around his fists, and he lays out Lesnar. Cena gets the Death Valley Driver on Lesnar. It looks like an F5, and Tazz thinks so too. Cena picks up the belt and taunts the crowd. He gets into the ring again (they must have time to fill) and strikes Lesnar in the head with the belt. Cena kisses the belt and drops it in front of Lesnar, who did colour. Cena taunts Lesnar as the copyright banner and signature show.
Grade: (A-) Pretty good for a week-of-PPV show. Final match was way better than I thought it would be. Cena was stellar. FBI were funny. Torrie was hot. O'Haire's getting over. Hit hit hit hit hit. Can't ask for much more, really.
Last Word: If this show is any indication, I'd almost say the WWE has been scared into doing things right. Then again, I'll probably say the opposite after I see the RAW after Backlash. Here's hoping.
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