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The Booking Report:, August 2, 2003
Guest_TSMAdmin_*
post Sep 21 2003, 05:17 PM
Post #1





Guests






The Booking Report: Raw (July 28, 2003) vs. SmackDown (July 31, 2003)

I know that many writers don’t feel the need for a lengthy introduction because you are really only here to read the meat of the column. I on the other hand like to share random tidbits of this and that. This week’s column will be kicked off by some good ol’ fan mail. Well maybe you wouldn’t call it “fan mail” per say.

Robert Lehto writes:

Booking Report? How about "A really long article about how I'am going to be reallybias about RAW and say how much I think mackdown is really good but give proofthat I'am wrong." No? Yeah the name is really long so how about "The Bias SmckdownReport" yeah that's better. I mean first you RAW the Highlight of the Week andalso since you gave it the lowlight of the week that also proves 2 things, 1 you being bias towards smakdon went out of your way with stupid excuses (commentary) just to prove that their is no way RAW can have a better match than smackdow and 2 RAW is so Good in fact that time and time again it makes you care about the workers so much that you have protest. Seriously when did you talk about the inovative storylines that made you care on smackdwn?

But their matches are so good... so they might be but besides that what else istheir? Do you want to know why Eddie Guerrero is so popular on sackdown? Becausehe has 4 time more personality than anyone else on the show while on RAW he issort of cool. See I'd rather see OK matches with workers I care about than Awesome matchs with workers that are boring (World's *YAWN* Greatest Tag Team*YAWN*). Thatis the true power of sports entertainment.

Oh yea please insult my spelling so then I can add another point for how petty and sad you are.


Forget about spelling, you have a sentence that contains 82 words. Personally, I do prefer watching “Mackdown”, or “Smckdown” depending on if you want to argue semantics, because it tends to be light years ahead of Raw in every way imaginable. As far as last week’s episode of Raw goes, I wouldn’t call the commentary an excuse. Unless you either mentally retarded, which very well may be your problem, or deaf there is no way the constant mentioning of JR couldn’t have grated on your nerves for the entire evening. I still don’t see how giving Raw the HIGHLIGHT and lowlight of the week makes me partial to “Mackdown”, but this is just an example of the kind of readers I attract. Seeing how I received this piece of “feedback” on Wednesday, odds are he is a LOP reader, which partially accounts for the stupidity and markish tendencies. No offense to the LOP readers with a brain, it’s just that the bunch of idiots in your group really hurt your image.

Now the question is, since this guy is such a fucking retard who cannot even write one sentence grammatically correct, why did I bother posting his e-mail? I thought it would give everyone a good laugh, but it also serves as a way for my to reinforce the objective of this column. When it comes right down to it, I couldn’t care less about the quality of any of the matches on Raw and SmackDown. I do mention quality at times, but I put the spotlight on how the match was booked. In the end, this is ultimately just my opinion. It’s not gospel or fact (right Johnson?). As much as I like to hear when people agree with me I also enjoy reading counterpoints, so if you do disagree with a comment of mine, drop me a line in an intelligent manner and we can converse over it. Or you could go the route of this lowlife and I could mock you in my introduction. The choice is yours.

And just for shits and giggles, if anyone else wants to have a nice e-mail conversation with Mr. Lehto, you can reach him at [email protected] If enough of you e-mail the guy and send me the back and forth nonsense, we could make a nice mid-week humor piece out of it. Then again, most of you probably lack the incentive or motivation to do this, so I’m not holding my breath.

Just like I predicted, I WHOOPED ASS over at StableWars coming in 6th place in the Vengeance predictions game. Yes that’s right, I beat Keith and I beat Hyatte. For complete standings and the scoring of each match, check out StableWars.com.

Thanks to everyone who gave me some tips on picking up tickets for that upcoming house show. Turns out I’ll be sitting 4th row, possibly next to the entrance aisle. I’m not really sure because they usually flip flop the entrance for house shows.

EWR 4.0 is out. I am slightly disappointed with it because as soon as I get into a game some bug pops up and ruins everything. I’ve downloaded it several times with the same results. Hopefully even though Adam is now working on his game that will be for sale he will still go through 4.0 and fix any loose ends for us cheapskates who won’t be paying $34.95 for a wrestling simulator. Now then, if the game were running perfectly, I would probably give *****. Dames on the other hand might give it a mere ***3/4. He likes to leave you with something to strive for.

I did have a few other topics to discuss, but this has gone on long enough. After I finish with the usual column, keep an eye out for a relatively quick July in Review piece. Well my definition of quick may differ from yours, but it won’t be too brutal.




Raw July 28, 2003


THE CRAP


Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Nash
Rating: 1/10

Talk about a mess. First and foremost, Jericho had to intentionally get DQ’ed in a match against the guy that Test beat a few weeks ago in under three minutes. Does anyone else see something seriously wrong with that picture? After what happened with Jericho last week, he needed to do SOMETHING that would get some of his heat back. This wasn’t it. Especially the part where Nash beats the living hell out of him for five minutes. Speaking of that post match brawl, was I the only one who drew memories of that atrocity between Nash and HHH a few months back on Raw? This brawl was notably shorter and had a slight bit more crowd participation. Interesting. When Nash brawls with HHH literally no one cares, but when he dismantles Jericho there is some heat. Who is the strongest heel on Raw again? Probably the guy who has beaten Shawn Michaels cleanly.

Why not have Orton run out and save Jericho shortly after the finish? Sure it wouldn’t make Jericho look like a god, but at least the guy who lost to Test and hasn’t been on Raw since then wouldn’t have bitched him out for a good five minutes. And that would have led to a tag match for next week that could have been promoted at the end of the show this week. I could go on for a lifetime about how horribly they are using Jericho, and that is just what I’ll do one we reach the “July in Review” piece. There is one positive that came out of all of this. If Kevin Nash was hypothetically talented and worth pushing, this would have been a decent way of reintroducing him as a big time player. However the purpose of this was just to use the guy somehow in the hopes of justifying his absurdly high contract.


THE BAD


Highlight Reel with Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels
Rating: 3/10

Chris Jericho was part of the worst and second to worst segment on the same show. That must be a new record, albeit not one to be proud of. As was expected by practically everyone, Jericho’s “win” last week was completely downplayed as Orton’s interference served as the highlight. That being said, pushing Orton in this fashion isn’t horrible by any means, but they are pushing him at the expense of arguably the best heel on Raw. Do the ends justify the means? I don’t think so because if Triple H does indeed turn face, that leaves Jericho as the sole main event heel. Even though he continues to be booked horribly, Jericho brings the entertainment. I loved how after Orton gave him a freebie of the Evolution shirt Jericho pointed out that he could not reciprocate because his shirt was soldout. Jericho ignoring Michaels’ comments about not really being the winner last week was very out of character. The Chris Jericho I know and love would have thrown a temper tantrum. He should have been ranting and raving about how Shawn cannot concede that he really was the better man. Instead he just brushed off Shawn’s comments as nonchalantly as he possibly could. I don’t even know if I want to see Michaels-Jericho III because odds are Michaels will lose to Orton at SummerSlam. At that point, it won’t even matter if Jericho could beat the guy. Nash’s save was fucking hilarious. I knew it was Nash as soon as the crowd popped and nothing happened for about 10 seconds. After seeing this segment I don’t understand how anyone could still call the match last week a clean win for Jericho. Regardless of individual believes, Jericho has been booked as the loser of that match and thus it doesn’t really matter what YOU think. In terms of Michaels-Orton, this really didn’t lead to anything.

La Resistance vs. Garrison Cade/Mark Jindrak
Rating: 3/10

At least this week we actually saw the tag champs. That in itself is sadly a step in the right direction. Unfortunately that was the only positive coming out of this match. Like I said a couple of weeks ago, hating these two because they are French is utterly appalling. When asked when he hates La Resistance, Bubba states “Because they are French.” Good job WWE. Alienate an entire country from your product for the purpose of pushing two guys as heels. They could have tried writing a compelling storyline to get them over, but instead chose the “they are different than us so hate them” route. I might be mistaken, but I’m going to venture a guess that there are WWE and maybe even Dudley Boyz fans in France. How do you think they feel? I have no problem with La Resistance exploiting their nationality, but that alone should not be the reason we hate them. Hate them for being cocky and arrogant rookies. I think the Coach was the only one that brought up that point as Lawler kept pushing the Americana crap. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when the D-Von and Bubba ran out to make the save they only did so because “How dare they hit that kid with the French flag on American soil”. OK, how about, how dare they simply CHEAT? So if Dupree was planning on hitting Cade with an American flag it would have been perfectly fine, but possessing the flag of a foreign country while in the USA is an offense? There is something seriously wrong with all of this. Why do all of our “American Heroes” have to be such blind and ignorant patriots? Here’s an idea for a good heel gimmick: A wrestler that respects diversity. That guy would be enemy number one in no time. And why did La Resistance lose to Cade and Jindrak in the first place? Cade had like two matches and Jindrak had a loss to Jericho. This entire division is dead in the water. Instead of wasting Hurricane and Rosie in backstage segments, they should be used to inject some heat into this pitiful division.


THE DECENT


Val Venis vs. Rico
Rating: 4/10

Remember when Rico actually generated heel heat? He was one of the most hated guys in the company and he was working with fucking Three Minute Warning. So why did Rico’s new gimmick, which is just an extension of his original fail so miserably? The fans always knew that Rico was gay, or at least very effeminate due to the subtle hints. Now we have him blatantly spanking and kissing his opponents. This is the perfect example of something working in small servings, but when dished down our throats will fail. So now some of you may be wondering why Goldust’s over the top homosexual gimmick got over so well. That was 1995. Doing what Goldust did was VERY taboo in the WWF and on television as well. People weren’t used to seeing a man constantly fondle himself and his opponents. That was some edgy shit. It was so edgy that it had to be toned down after a few short months. Another gimmick like these was Adrian Adonis’ from the late 80s. The thing with Adonis was that he was already an established heel and had the most hated manager in professional wrestling by his side. Rico has the HOT Jackie Gayda. Isn’t that a little counter productive? Why not give Rico a male manager, who can draw heat from ringside by coming on to the people at ringside? Anything would be better than a gay heel having a hot chick in his corner that we have no reason to love or hate. Unlike his other appearances, I heard a few boos this time around. Maybe Rico just needs an over face to wrestle. I mean Spike and Val Venis are exactly the biggest fan favorites around. I also liked how Rico was a lot more aggressive in this match than his one with Spike. Instead of just prancing around and blowing kisses he actually worked some pretty nice moves into the match. What they need to do is get Rico over as a great wrestler (which he is) and use small pieces of his gimmick to garner some extra heat. So this was an improvement, but there is still a lot of work to do.

Booker T/Scott Steiner vs. Christian/Test
Rating: 5/10

Both of these feuds should have ended a long time ago. Considering that did not happen, this in itself didn’t hurt any of the participants. Booker FINALLY pinned someone without some sort of outside interference. Sure it wasn’t a title defense, but it was better than the crap they have been feeding us. Test furthered his character and I still love it. Christian and Steiner were along for the ride and both came out of this looking pretty good. The match wasn’t a classic, however it was a hot opener that the crowd got into. I would like this thing with Booker-Christian and Test-Steiner to end already. Those have been the two never-ending feuds of 2003. All four men (well three, I can’t care less what they do with Steiner) should move on to something new. Bring guys like Goldust back from the pit that is Heat and feud him with Test. Anything to freshen up the Raw midcard a little. Seeing how Michaels has shafted Jericho, Y2J should do battle with Booker, but odds are we will now see the Jericho-Nash feud that fans have been clamoring for.

Gail Kim vs. Molly Holly – Women’s Title
Rating: 6/10

They finally mercy killed Gail Kim’s push that was destined to fail since the day she debuted. I really wanted to like Gail Kim because of all I had heard about her and because Trish could use another face to team with. BUT you don’t debut a woman and have won a battle royal for the title due to luck without actually eliminating the champ at that time. From there she never actually looked better than any of the women she fought. It was fluke after fluke after fluke. And what was her deal anyway? Why should we care about her? What was the point of those trippy and cryptic promos that led to her debut? Where were all he “Rey Mysterio-like” moves? If I were Rey Mysterio I would be utterly embarrassed to have that woman compared to me. Nothing that they did with Gail Kim was done properly and that became quite apparent. When you are a hot chick that can’t get over, you know there are serious problems.

AND THEN THERE WAS MOLLY. She is easily the best female wrestler in the company. Poor Molly has been shoved to the side since late 2001 in favor of people like Victoria and Jazz, who are good in their own right, but Molly was never brought back into the picture. She deserved this title win and she even received a better reaction after winning than anything Gail Kim has done since debuting. The fans CHEERED A HEEL over Gail Kim. That is a very bad sign. Now the question is whether to keep Gail around in a small (or large) role or send her down to OVW. I think OVW is the only option left. Before debuting she worked many house show matches against the girls. I went to a show in December of 2002 where Gail took on Dawn Marie. That being said, she just wasn’t ready yet for the big time. Send her down to Cornette and maybe he can give us another Victoria. In the mean time, let Molly have a nice run with the strap. What are the odds of Trish beating her next week on Raw? Anyone want to take that bet?


THE GOOD


Kane Earns a Living: Part 2
Rating: 7/10

For some reason I have a feeling THIS will attract more feedback than any other segment I have analyzed so far. Lots of sub topics to touch, but let’s start with the basics. Like every other Kane segment, this one could have been great, but was held back by logic gaps. Why didn’t Kane attack Vince McMahon for calling him a human french fry? Why didn’t Kane hit Austin when he had the chance? Why did Kane walk away after Shane McMahon attacked him? If all these questions are answered next week, then that would be excellent. As is, we the viewers are left wondering and speculating. On the other hand, I thought it was a good continuation of the last few weeks and also had a very dramatic atmosphere to it.

Now there are two trains of thought. One being Shane McMahon should be the first to feud with the new Kane and the other being that RVD should get first licks. I’m really not sure whether to turn this into a lengthy rant, or just briefly explain how I feel. Eh, lets see what happens.

I’m in the Shane McMahon camp, although I understand where everyone else is coming from. It all comes down to what concerns you want to take into consideration. I think that after Kane attacked Linda, a match with Shane was the next logical step. The guy practically killed Shane’s mother and you expect him to do nothing about it? The next question is, did Kane sell too much for a non-wrestler? I don’t think so. Even though Shane is a non-wrestler the fans respect him as one tough SOB and he had quite a bit of pent up aggression. That being said, Kane shrugged off and laughed at Shane hitting with a chair and knocking him off the stage through a table. If that isn’t badass, than I don’t know what is. The whole debate over Kane’s selling is very reminiscent of how many people were bitching that Zach Gowen was ruining the main event scene on SmackDown. Zach Gowen has NEVER been made to look better than ANYONE on SmackDown. Like with that situation, this is being blown out of proportion. The fact that Shane McMahon is not a wrestler is more the reason to have him be the first official victim of the Big Red Machine. Shane has nothing to lose because when he comes back one year from now he will get the same pop he did on Monday night. Plus Shane is a better bumper and seller than RVD.

Seeing how this match at SummerSlam, Kane’s first since losing the mask, should be a decisive squash, I don’t want to see RVD’s potential feud with Kane wasted like that. The two of them definitely have a reason to feud, but I would rather they do it once Shane McMahon is out of the picture. Maybe have RVD run in for the save at SummerSlam and blowoff the feud at Unforgiven in a more competitive match than the one with Shane. There also the argument that once Shane disappears again, it would render Kane’s win meaningless. In my mind the current Kane character does not have any longevity to it. The man cannot go on squashing the Raw roster forever because the roster itself lacks any depth and eventually the people will get sick of seeing the same thing over and over. I see this storyline as a way to attract viewers back to the product over the next few months and hopefully turn them on to the long-term projects that are being developed alongside Kane’s antics.

Triple H and Goldberg
Rating: 7/10

Who would have thought these two would be atop this assessment? Last week I wasn’t too pleased with how this feud started, but now it has a nice old school feel to it. Goldberg squashes Steven Richards followed by HHH coming out to mock him. That is good stuff right there. Then as icing on the cake you have RIC MOTHERFUCKING FLAIR playing the raving lunatic role without even uttering more than two sentences. Flair was a fucking wildman. He was actually willing and ready to kick the unstoppable object’s ass. Sure he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell next week, but Flair’s charisma is going to be more than enough to entertain me. Even taking Flair into consideration, I wouldn’t consider this awesome. I still do not like the idea of Goldberg cutting a promo, but this one wasn’t too bad. Now with the news of Hunter’s injury surfacing, many are beginning to think he will use that as a way out of possibly losing the title at SummerSlam. Win or lose, like him or hate him, Triple H is the kind of guy that will go out there and get the job done. In that sense, I have a lot of respect for the guy. To my knowledge he has never dodged matches like others in his position have in the past. Did anyone else notice that while the Coach was hyping the SummerSlam press conference he stated that he had no idea what the main event would be? He must have felt pretty stupid once it became apparent that he actually hosted the fucking thing. Way to go Coach!


THE GREAT


At least they had two goods. That’s a first for this show. You know, the show that I hate and go out of my way to put down.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Rating: 62
Total Matches: 6
Total Wrestling Time: 34:01
(two matches ran through commercials, so it was actually under 30 minutes)

I thought this show was the first real effort from Raw in quite a while. Although the matches were short or interrupted by breaks, the show was quite dominated by wrestling which is good for a change. With only one segment flat out sucking, I would call this slightly above decent, but in order for it to be an overall success I would have given it at least a 65. The commentary wasn’t by any means great, HOWEVER the name JR was only muttered during ONE match and it was the chick match at that, so I can forgive. As I said last week, the Coach doesn’t bother me at all. It’s just that when you are trying to get into a wrestling match, having the commentators yapping about a non-wrestling personality during EVERY match gets on my nerves. Lots of steps in the right direction here including Rico, the midcard in general (Book, Test, and Christian), the Kane storyline, aborting Gail Kim’s push, and the hype for the SummerSlam main event. Now we will just have to see if they capitalize on these minor successes and turn them into complex and entertaining segments next week.




SmackDown! July 31, 2003


THE CRAP


Jamie Noble sleeps with Torrie
Rating: 1/10

All of us knew this would be a bad idea, and look at that it ended horribly. I don’t even know what to say besides, what the fuck? The only thing this segment had going for it was the fact that Jamie Noble is hilarious. Noble has to be the only man I know who showers and has sex while wearing cowboy boots. Why this whole scenario ever happened to begin with is beyond me. Maybe they figured it would be a ratings draw. I’d like to think that even the most ignorant marks knew that they weren’t going to be getting anything special courtesy of this angle. We can add this to the list of ridiculous non-wrestling segments produced by the WWE over the years. It falls right in place with the lesbians, corpse fucking, and Mae Young’s “hand”. It might not have been as obscene as those that preceded, but it was equally stupid and did nothing for anybody involved. Can’t say I’m surprised.


THE BAD


Kurt Angle’s Celebration
Rating: 2/10

Speaking of segments that were utterly pointless… Disregarding the content, I thought this came off as flat and just plain dull. The Vince McMahon nonsense makes little sense. Why would Vince care whether or not Angle and Brock are friends? Does he have to drive a wedge between them simply because they are the only people left on the show that he hasn’t worked a program with? From there Brock takes VINCE MCMAHON’S word as gospel. This man has made a career out of deceiving people and Brock Lesnar is stupid enough to listen to him based on absolutely nothing? In my opinion, they should have left Vince out of this segment because what occurred main event generated more heat between Lesnar and Angle than anything that the boss said. In other words, this was a waste of 10 minutes considering an issue would naturally develop in the tag team match later on, so why did Vince had to create an “artificial rift” that was revealed to be a lie anyway? Angle got a rather respectable response from the crowd, which was nice to see.


THE DECENT


Chris Benoit vs. Doink
Rating: 4/10

So why did Rhyno turn on Benoit? Supposedly because Benoit treated Rhyno like a joke. The turn might have been a little bit more effective if there was some foreshadowing of it within the last month. Or maybe if they just had Benoit figuratively push Rhyno off to the side a few times leading up to Vengeance. Rhyno also could have simply said that he was sick of being in Benoit’s shadow. Or that the most success he ever had in his career was not when he wrestled for the fans, but when he did it all for himself. Any of those reasons would have been acceptable. Instead they decided to use the joke excuse for the sole purpose of being able to use Doink on TV. Isn’t that great? The entire basis for this upper-tier feud was created so they could write Doink into SmackDown. Doink, who isn’t even an actual wrestler anymore. Any random OVW guy dons the mask whenever they decide to do a gimmicky match and THAT is the reason they gave Rhyno such a weak reason to turn on Benoit. However, at least they are dragging this one out for a while, as it could be a very heated feud that may lead to some really good matches. In a perfect world, I would like to see this feud dominated by physicality instead of dodging matches and chitchat. On the other hand, I was surprised with how well Rhyno delivered his promo. Like with HHH-Goldberg, we should wait this one out a couple of weeks before passing judgment.

Shannon Moore vs. Zach Gowen
Rating: 5/10

Before I touch this match, I can’t believe that an entire segment was wasted on the Zach Gowen story. If people were that interested in seeing it, they could have tuned into Confidential, since that story was hyped going into the show. Interestingly enough, this match was technically better than anything on Raw. In his element Zach is actually a pretty good worker, so it was nice to see him working against a smaller guy. Jobbing Zach to Shannon Moore, a man who has won MAYBE half a dozen matches in his entire WWE career may not have been the best decision in the world. I would have had Zach go over Shannon, whether it is clean or due to botched interference by Matt. Afterwards Matt would punk out Shannon and state that next week he will show Shannon how it’s done. From there they could go one of two ways. Either have Zach get lucky with a quick pin and have him lose at a later date. Or they could just have Matt go over in his first attempt. In my mind this should be stretched out for a few weeks since Matt doesn’t have anything doing in the immediate future. In a more general sense, I’m glad they aren’t force-feeding Gowen to us anymore by thrusting him into the main event scene. He belongs with the cruisers or just in the midcard where he can put on competitive matches without having to look like the odd man out and possibly get over because of his in-ring skill instead of his handicap.

Rey Mysterio vs. Shelton Benjamin
Rating: 5/10

I’m glad to see that this feud will go on for at least a few more weeks. The fact that Benjamin and Haas are as good as they are is just downright scary when you take into considering their ages and experience. Something about Kidman’s post match celebrations has been rubbing me the wrong way since he debuted last month. They just seem so ingenuine, and maybe that is what is intended, but with Kidman’s lack of charisma one can never be too sure.

I don’t really understand why Kidman is in line for the big heel push in the Cruiserweight division. Even WWE has to be able to see just how bland this guy is. When it comes to wrestling, I would say he is above average, however his overall personality or lack thereof holds his matches back from being that great. Seeing how people who should be regulars in the division are stuck on Velocity (Nunzio and Ultimo Dragon) and god only knows what they are doing with Noble, Kidman is one of the few choices that remain. Nevertheless, I see that match as having very little chance of making it onto the SummerSlam card, so hopefully they just go with a tag title rematch for PPV.

One other note on the Cruiserweight Title, has Rey defended that thing more than once since winning it? Matt Hardy did such a tremendous job of making that title mean something to the fans and now Rey is using it as a trophy to be worn around his waist and nothing more. With guys like Rey Mysterio, Jamie Noble, Nunzio, Shannon Moore, Ultimo Dragon, Spanky, and Billy Kidman there is no excuse for the abortion of a division that exists right now. On the flip side, the tag division is picking up. In the long run though, once Rey and Kidman split there is NO ONE left on the face end besides the APA. You can’t win ‘em all.

John Cena vs. Orlando Jordan
Rating: 6/10

Before Cena’s rap I was expecting to devote a decent amount of space to bitching over his PPV loss, but now that is not the case. Although John Cena lost to the Undertaker, he came out looking like the better man because of this segment and Taker not being on the show. Reason being, Cena may have lost, but at least he was physically able to compete on the next show. I find it funny how after losing to the Undertaker John Cena came out looking better than Chris Jericho did after he BEAT Shawn Michaels last week. I think this goes to show you that when the writing team wants to salvage someone’s heat, they’ll find a way of doing it. I take it no one really gives a damn about Chris Jericho. Eh, wrong show. Moving right along. This match also demonstrated how effective and necessary squashes can be. If there was ever any concerns over Cena losing his heat on Sunday, they were put to rest here.

Brock Lesnar/Kurt Angle vs. Big Show/A-Train
Rating: 6/10

Isn’t it interesting how A-Train went from Velocity regular to SmackDown main eventer all because he plowed down a woman? As all of us know, this A-Train push will end no differently than the other 400, but that never stopped this company before. I guess that if the company really did have confidence in A-Train’s abilities they wouldn’t have hyped this as a “mystery opponent match” for the entire night. Then again, they were able to turn Big Show into a credible contender, so there is some hope for A-Train.

Enough about A-Train, let’s pick up where we left off with the Angle-Lesnar-McMahon love triangle. I liked the tension caused between Brock and Kurt here because it didn’t involve an outsider like McMahon and it flowed well with both of their characters. Naturally Brock would get mad for Kurt stealing his thunder and vice versa if the shoe was on the other foot. With Angle being announced as the guest referee for McMahon-Lesnar next week, I’m slightly uneasy about Angle turning heel instead of Brock. After thinking more about the match, it dawned on me that there is only one reason that Vince would book himself in a cage match against the ex-Champion. That being the opportunity to doubleteam someone inside and beat them to a bloody pulp. I would have Lesnar go after Angle during the match under the guise that if he did take out the champion and “turn on his friend” McMahon would grant him a title shot at SummerSlam. Seems fairly logical to me, except I would have preferred seeing this one stretched out a little longer. Not necessarily though WrestleMania XX because there is zero chance of a storyline lasting that long in this company, but maybe until the next SmackDown PPV in October. As for this month, Angle and Lesnar could have taken on Haas and Benjamin. Forgetting about my own fantasy booking escapades, based on the crowd reaction in the opening segment, I think a heel Angle and face Lesnar feud would bomb at this point. The crowd was totally behind Angle and didn’t really care much about Brock. Face it, Angle would be the underdog in any match against Brock now because of his size and recent injury. The crowd loves to get behind the underdog in most situations where they could feasibly go either way. Ultimately, it would take more work to turn Angle heel than it would Brock.


THE GOOD

Eddie Guerrero vs. Tajiri – US Title
Rating: 7/10

This is one of those matches that was booked very well, but could have been better with a little bit more planning. Many of us were expecting to see a match between these two hyped for a few weeks due to the fact that it included one friend who turned on another. For whatever reason it was decided to throw this together unannounced. The match itself was very good and quite stiff, but with proper promotion it could have been met with better heat and more drama. I thought the crowd was more into the spots that were featured as opposed to the wrestlers that delivered them. By that I mean that the crowd didn’t really lean more to one side than the other. They were just appreciating the high spots and stiff shots regardless of who was behind them. There is nothing wrong with that, however it could have been alleviated by making this match mean something more than it did.

Thus far the US Title is looking pretty damn good and I don’t mean in comparison to the IC Title. Fuck, the Cruiserweight title that hasn’t been defended in over a month looks better than the IC Title does. I digress, having title that is represented by fine wrestling matches like this one should be a surefire hit, especially if the matches stay up to par with this one as well as Benoit-Eddie and Benoit-Hardy.


FINAL THOUGHTS


Rating: 57
Total Matches: 6
Total Wrestling Time: 31:03


I apologize if the SmackDown end of this column felt uninspired seeing how that is the same impression the show felt on me. Compared to what we usually get on Raw this was perfectly fine, but knowing how good a show with the roster that this one has can be sort of makes the mediocre episodes look pretty bad. Over the past month there has always been some sort of big main event or important angle every week, but not here. This (and Raw for that mattered) served as an extended commercial for next week and an early preview of SummerSlam. Like with most of the split brand PPVs, majority of the roster will not make it to the big show, so they just meander on TV for the weeks leading up to it, which produces an enthralling product for all of us.





THIS IS IT (Not really)


SmackDown 3 :: Raw 1

Highlight of the Week: Eddie Guerrero vs. Tajiri
Lowlight of the Week: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Nash

Total Matches: 12
Total Wrestling Time: 65:04


Raw’s first win was not an impressive one, but a win nonetheless. Eddie-Tajiri just edged out the HHH-Goldberg hype mainly because it was an actual match. It seems that every week we have been getting less and less actual in-ring time. This week was probably under an hour since two of the Raw matches were interrupted by commercials. At least when one of the shows is actively horrible (RAW) I usually have something to tear apart and rant on. This week both were just there, leaving me with little material. Yet I somehow still stretched this thing to over 10 pages. Well, now with my month in review bit there will be PLENTY to bitch about.




JULY IN REVIEW


The following lists are based on how each wrestler was booked, not their individual performances.


BOTTOM FIVE


5. Booker T

Ever since Booker won the abomination of a title that is the Intercontinental Championship things have been going downhill. Whether it be JR’s claims that “he has finally reached the mountaintop”, or the fact that he cannot beat ANYONE in a clean fashion when it comes to title defenses, Booker has just been made to look incredibly weak as both a champion and a wrestler. This guy was the hottest thing going in the beginning of the year. Now, 8 months later, he has been in a never-ending feud with Christian. All I’m asking for are some decisive title defenses and a blowoff match with Christian that does not include a screwy finish or restart.

4. Lance Storm

I can understand that many of you might not like or care about Lance Storm, but the way that he is being booked is incredibly counterproductive. Not only for Lance himself, but also for the entire Raw roster. The one question that I have been asking since day one is that if Lance is so boring and the commentators make sure to drive that point home, why should I be expected to not flip the channel? From there, I’m told that his style of wrestling is slow and sleep inducing. Well what do you call the Shawn Michaels-Chris Jericho match? Lance Storm can get over. Hell, he was the hottest thing going for a few months in WCW. The guy has his own unique charisma which is seen in his Pro-Canada and “If I may be serious for a minute” gimmicks. At least with those two Lawler doesn’t have to keep telling us how horrible Storm’s matches are and then MAYBE people will stay tuned in during his segments. I love how these people think that “Boring” is the equivalent of what Kurt Angle’s “You Suck” used to be. The differentiating factor is that Angle’s heat was actual heel heat, Storm’s heat is actual boredom.

3. Ultimo Dragon

By signing Ultimo Dragon, you would think that WWE was actually planning on using him. On top of that, you would also assume that whomever decided to bring him onboard was also familiar with his style of wrestling. As if that isn’t enough, the guy worked house shows for about a month before debuting. Yet now all of a sudden it has been decided that his offense is too light for WWE. I don’t have a problem with someone on the roster not being utilized for whatever reason and come next month, Dragon probably will not even appear on this list. However, prior to debuting a pretty big deal was made about him. They had the promo videos and a nifty entrance, and then all of a sudden pull the plug. Why not let the guy work a few more TV matches. Combined he has wrestled for about 15 minutes on television over the 5 weeks has been with the company. Did they really only sign him for the sake of using him on the Japan tours? This entire situation makes no sense to me, but it does look like he will be regulated to Velocity, if that, for the time being.

2. Gail Kim

Likewise, Gail Kim’s heavily hyped debut was handled quite horribly. Don’t call this woman the female Rey Mysterio if all she can is Mexican armdrags and ranas. From what I have seen, she is below Trish, Molly, Victoria, Jazz, and Ivory when it comes to wrestling skill. Just maybe she could have used some more time in OVW. Just enough so she would be taught transition moves and not get so shaky while on TV. Besides her underwhelming skills, why would you book a debuting wrestler to win a championship due to luck without ever beating the champion? The original plan for that match was for Jacqueline to win it and join up with Teddy Long. In retrospect, that might have been the way to go. All I have to say is that if a good-looking Asian woman is not able to get over, she must have been booked very badly. Fucking Terri has more heat than Gail Kim and she does jackshit week in and week out. Send her to OVW and reintroduce her with a character that actually stands for something, like a gimmick of some sort, down the line. While we are on the topic of a gimmick, what was up with all those cryptic messages in her debut promos? They led to absolutely nothing.

1. Chris Jericho

When it came to being the worst of the worst, this one took the cake. Chris Jericho, the most over heel on Raw whether Triple H wants to admit it or not, has not been booked as such ONCE all month. To kick the month off he was involved in that ass-backwards segment in Montreal with Michaels. I’ve gone over that one enough times already. That same night he squashed a debuting Mark Jindrak. The next week he ran around the arena with a petition to get Steve Austin fired. Then all of a sudden there was a light, he DEFEATED Shawn Michaels. A victory marred by the interference of Randy Orton and the following week’s Raw where we were reminded several times that without Orton, Jericho probably would not have won. Oh yeah. How could I forget? He got his ass handed to him last Monday by the guy that Test beat in three minutes a few weeks ago. Are they intentionally trying to make this guy into the most pathetic main event heel of all-time? Hey, if Triple H seriously injures himself again, Jericho is the only real wrestler they have left on the heel end of Raw. I’m utterly dumbfounded by every booking decision involving Jericho.

HONORABLE MENTION: Jerry Lawler and the La Resistance-Dudley Boyz feud


TOP FIVE


5. Zach Gowen

The whole Zach Gowen-Vince McMahon feud could have been disastrous had it been booked differently. First of all, if Hogan didn’t leave the company high and dry, Gowen never would have been involved in such a high profile match and feud. If anything he would have feuded with McMahon for a couple of weeks in August culminating in a SummerSlam match. Instead those plans were rushed since the Hogan-McMahon match at Vengeance was scratched. That being said, seeing how he was used in the main event scene of SmackDown, Zach was not made to look better or even equal to any of the wrestlers he worked with including Big Show, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, Charlie Haas, and Shelton Benjamin. Jobbing to McMahon was also the way to go because Vince still works big matches (like the upcoming one with Lesnar), so he shouldn’t be the guy to job to the one-legged wrestler. I’d like to see how Gowen does against the likes of the smaller guys on the roster and maybe he will pick up some heat through those matches.

4. Test

It’s only taken 5 years, but finally Test is generated some heat without being in a high profile feud or accompanied by a hot diva. He still isn’t all that great of a wrestler, but his heel mannerisms are hilarious. For such a large guy to be such a pussy when it comes to fighting is classic. He more or less made it on to the list not because of how fantastically he was booked, but because of the fact that Test, the heatless wonder, has finally gotten over to some extent.

3. United States Championship

Finally a championship WE actually care about. Since the tournament started, nothing has been done to illegitimatize the credibility of the title. Sure it’s only been about two months, but they fucked up the Intercontinental Title the first day it returned. On top of the title’s overall meaningfulness, people like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Matt Hardy, and Tajiri have put forth so much effort in their matches that the fans have been able to pick up on the fact that this title does mean something to the wrestlers fighting for it. Here’s to the first WWE title that actually has a purpose.

2. Big Show

Shockingly it has only taken WWE four years to book a 7’4’’ wrestler as a real monster. I’m surprised they caught on that quickly as well. On a more serious note, since jumping to SmackDown last November, Show’s career has been reinvented, which is more evident now that ever before. After wallowing in the midcard as a comedy character, he is on top and kicking ass. Also, it seems like when he is motivated he does bust his ass in the ring. Sure he isn’t putting on classics, but he can be carried by whomever he is fighting.

1. Kane

Currently Kane is the one character that fans are actually going out of their way to see on TV. Like the Big Show, Kane had been booked quite badly for the last couple of years, but after losing the mask he is the hottest thing going. Obviously, his current surge of popularity is more of a phase than the beginning of a new era like Steve Austin’s was in 1997. The question is whether his appeal is capitalized on, or pushed aside so we can see Triple H and Goldberg go at it for the next three months. Ideally he should have a title reign, whether it be long or short. The sole purpose of this title reign would be so someone could finally slay the monster. Using RVD in that role might also inject some new life into his career.




I’ll be in on Monday with my final Confidential recap.

Unfortunately due to a SmackDown preemption coupled with the fact that I’ll be out of town, there will be no Booking Report next week. I’m going away on Saturday, which is the night that SmackDown will be airing. By the time I get back, the column would have been rendered meaningless. Depending on how Raw goes, I might just analyze that show, and thus leave you all with half a column. It’s better than nothing. However if something happens to whatever is preempting the show next week, odds are I’ll have the column up in full on Friday, but don’t hold your breath.

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