So I thought rather than just cover what’s going on at the moment, I’ll go back and review some old wrestling PPVs at random, just for the funziez.
Bad Blood was a bit of an experiment on the WWE’s part. This was only a year or so after the brand extension had been put in place and the powers that be decided to try out “brand exclusive” pay-per-views. I guess the idea of this is that it would lead to more pay-per-views and also get some smaller names onto big events as well, spawning more storylines. It didn’t work out so well though.
I’ll get the “Redneck Triathlon” out of the way first. The nostalgic wrestling fan in me wanted to give this a thumbs up, I loved a lot of the work Austin and Bischoff did back in ‘03/’04. They constantly clashed over authority decisions, most of the time it was funny. I would have looked at the Redneck Triathlon more favourably if it happened on Raw, but instead, it happened on PPV.
The whole idea was that Bischoff and Austin would have a friendly series of contests to decide something meaningless. Who the most badass GM was or something maybe. Nobody cared.
What we got was an awful belching contest where Austin basically lip synced belching. $30+ for lip synced belching.
The second contest was a “pie eating” contest. Of course this was WWE circa 2003, so that naturally meant parading a half naked Mae Young around the ring and her giving Eric a bronco buster. I wonder if Vince McMahon would have taken this kind of treatment had WCW won the Monday Night Wars?
The third contest was a “pig-pen” contest, which just involved Austin beating Bischoff down and throwing him in a pig-pen. So it wasn’t just a clever name. Several good quality wrestlers were left off the card to make room for this. The entire women’s division was absent from the first Raw only pay-per-view, to make room for this.
The Dudley Boyz vs. Rodney Mack & Christopher Nowinski with Theodore Long
This match both sucks and blows. It sucked in that the fans didn’t care at all about it, and apparently neither did the writers who provided such a half-assed script that blew chunks. This was before Teddy Long’s SmackDown GM gig, when he was managing a stable of angry young black people, and (the world’s whitest wrestler) Christopher Nowinski, for some reason. I think the plot here was that Teddy was trying to create doubt in The Dudley Boyz, making D-Von see Bubba Ray as a racist for making his black tag team partner get the tables all the time. Yep. That’s the gist of this match that people paid for.
The match itself is weak and by the numbers. Nowinski gets the win by hitting one of the Dudleyz with some metal face mask he’d been using to protect his face. It looked like it was made of tinfoil, but it was enough to knock out Bubba Ray Dudley for a three-count.
Scott Steiner vs. Test
The winner of this match would get the “managerial” services of Stacy Keibler. Better than any WWE title belt in my opinion. No matter who wins, I think the real loser is Stacy.
In any case, this match wasn’t as bad as Steiner’s Royal Rumble or No Way Out performances, but it was still pretty average. I just loved how he botched his first move of the match. A double axe handle off of the apron. He slipped and ended up stumbling into Test, and Test, the champ he is actually sells the botch.
Fortunately the match isn’t long enough to see Steiner go for his thirty belly-to-belly suplex streak that he seemed to like doing. Test, the good, bashes himself in the head with a chair allowing Steiner to hit the “Steiner Flatliner” for the three-count.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Christian (c) vs. Booker T
This could have and should have been the match of the night. Both guys were awesome talents and were back in their prime. The match suffered from perhaps the most dickheaded booking ever. I swear some jackass writer was in the back laughing his ass off over how much of a dick move this match was.
Booker T controls the majority of the match. Christian decides, “screw this I’m leaving,” grabs his belt and starts walking out of the arena. Referee Jack Doan gets on the mic and says “Hey Christian, you’ve got til the count of 10 to come back to the ring, or else you’ll forfeit the IC title to Booker T”. Christian comes running back to the ring like a bat out of hell and clocks Booker over the head with the belt, ending the match in a DQ finish.
Problem #1: someone, please enlighten me, when have referees EVER had the authority to alter the stipulation of a match like that?? Seriously, what the hell?? I’d understand it if Austin or Bischoff came out and made the announcement, but no, they were too busy in their stupid triathlon, so the referee decided to become the boss for a day. And everyone bought it!
Problem #2: if Jack Doan apparently feels so strongly about the match ending cleanly and the championship changing hands, why didn’t he strip Christian of the belt for a DQ finish? Why is a DQ better than a count out? Why didn’t he use these suddenly newfound authoritative powers to just award Booker the belt? Were the writers stoned when they wrote this? Unfortunately, I doubt it.
Problem #3: it ended in a DQ! They teased one bullshit cheap finish and turned around and gave us an equally bad bullshit cheap finish. Actually no, it was even worse, because Booker T looks like a chump in his own hometown. This was a match that had been building up for several weeks. Both men had the potential to deliver a good match. What did we get? A brief match that had such a stupid pointless ending. And I know there had to be some writer dick backstage pleased with himself over how much he just shat on the fans with that one.
Grade: E- (purely for the terrible, terrible ending)
WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
Rob Van Dam (c) & Kane (c) vs. La Resistance
Ugh, bland and boring. Some real Sunday Night Heat quality stuff right here. La Resistance were green and not over at all with the crowd. Whatever heat they had was made purely to cash in on whatever resentment the US had for France. RVD and Kane were a solid throw-together tag team. They had a great “odd couple” chemistry that made both their matches and promo work fun. It would have been nice to see them drop the titles a reputable/more experienced tag team. Instead, RVD had to job clean to the Frenchies and lose the tag straps. It had to happen in order to give Kane his big trainwreck heel turn, but they couldn’t have jobbed to say, The Dudleyz? Or Evolution? Or Storm & Regal?
Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg
This was better than I remembered it being. Goldberg’s year stint in WWE was largely forgettable and poorly booked, and while he seldom delivered anything to write home about, he still had the occasional gem. Of course it took Chris Jericho to pull it out of him though.
Early on, Goldberg misses a spear outside of the ring and goes through the crowd barricade, nice little spot that “injures” his shoulder. Jericho spends the rest of the match working the arm and shoulder and Goldberg actually sells it quite well with the threat of not being able to pull off the spear or jackhammer in his current condition. Of course, the ring psychology inevitably goes out the window and Goldberg hits his spear and jackhammer of doom combination for the win.
I would have enjoyed this match way more if they had a more creative ending. It would have been interesting to see Goldberg find a way to win without using the spear to really sell his “injury”. Nevertheless, this match is a gem, one of the few from Goldberg’s WWE run.
Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels
I remember when I bought Bad Blood when I was just a teenager, this was one of the major selling points for me. This and the IC title match that turned into an absolute shame. Did HBK and Flair deliver here? Sort of. Their best match together? Not by a long shot. If you’re looking for a solid Flair/HBK match, always go to their Wrestlemania bout.
In any case though, this wasn’t too bad. It’s funny though, it feels like Michaels and Flair know they’re working on a really mediocre show, so “hey let’s change things up with a table spot.”
The Spanish announce team are shown mercy on this night as Michaels brings his own table from out under the ring and splashes Flair through it. Michaels doesn’t triumph though as Orton comes out and screws everything up with a chairshot, giving Naitch the win.
This would have been solid if the WWE didn’t just disregard what the fans wanted to see. We wanted to see an old school wrestling match between two legends to see who the better man was. But too many ref bumps, run-ins, chair shots, low blows and a table spot make it less old school and more of your typical modern day WWE nonsense.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP
HELL IN A CELL
Triple H (c) vs. Kevin Nash
Feat. Mick Foley as the special guest ref
On a ranking of Hell in a Cell matches from best to worst, this should appear somewhere right at the bottom, within the same league as Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man and the Kennel From Hell match… well maybe not that low. But pretty low.
It was obvious before the PPV even aired that WWE were stacking the deck to try and make this “Raw only” pay-per-view work, the major selling point being Triple H defending the big gold belt against Kevin Nash in Hell in a Cell. Not only that, but Foley would be there! Foley! Inside the cell! With Triple H! Sounds good on paper. And I think people were possibly even expecting Nash to win, given how poorly he had been booked since his return a few months prior, and the fact that Trips had retained the belt against him at two PPVs in a row.
But this was Evolution’s Triple H, the Triple H from 2003, the Triple H that buried people. But in all fairness, would anyone have actually wanted to see Nash as the World champ in 2003?
The match was worked less like a cell match and more like a street fight. The structure seemed inconsequential. It was just there for marketing purposes really. Neither Nash or Trips were in great shape. In fact, 2003 possibly saw Triple H in the worst shape he’d ever been in, his quad perpetually hanging by a thread. And he spent the remainder of the year barely able to walk with a groin injury. And Nash was just as hopeless. He was lazy, sloppy and more boring than ever to watch. He certainly earned himself the moniker “Big Lazy”.
Something I really disliked was the use of weapons like a hammer and particularly a screwdriver. They tried to sell it as brutality but really it came across as backyardy to me.
Foley and Triple H inevitably get into it. Trips eventually gets the win off the pedigree. The first pedigree of the match. Put on a pot of coffee and wait for it to boil because just like with Booker T at Wrestlemania, Triple H is going to take his sweet time going for the pin. And he wins.
Bad Blood had all the ingredients for a solid show. It had the talent and the potential, but most matches were either booked poorly or worked poorly. No one cared about most of the undercard matches, and I just can’t get over how much I hate the way Booker T v Christian ended.
Flair and HBK was fine, but it could have been better, and Jericho somehow managed to drag Goldberg to a passable match. But the main event was so bland. Even now, 11 years later, I don’t get how anyone thought keeping the World title on Triple H was a good idea. He was in terrible condition and consistently delivered mediocre matches whilst burying 90% of the people around him.
I also have to pick on the fact that the women’s division wasn’t at all represented here. And that’s a bad thing when you consider how tight the women’s roster was in 2003. Raw boasted the Women’s Championship and divas like Trish Stratus, Molly Holly, Gail Kim, Victoria, Lita, Jazz, Ivory and Jacqueline, just to drop a few names. But they made no appearance here in favour of Mae Young shoving her crotch in Eric Bischoff’s face. Good example of the WWE knowing what we want, am I right?
Match of the Night: Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels