WWE SMACKDOWN! 6/20/02

For those of you who have sent me email who might not have seen the Crossface, this is the best way to sum up my thoughts on the Austin walkout: he had some very serious and legitimate concerns, but expressed them in the utterly wrong fashion. Yes, WWE is creatively bankrupt, yes, it would be stupid to put Brock over him, and yes, things don’t look to be getting better anytime soon. But the fact remains that you just don’t walk out on your job when a lot of people are depending on you, and you don’t leave millions of fans high and dry.

As for the allegations of wife-beating, there’s really nothing to say about that. We don’t know all of the facts yet, but an important fact is that Debra has not pressed charges against her husband. I’m not trying to absolve Austin of anything, but we simply don’t know what happened. If he beats his wife, then he’s scum, plain and simple. But he’s not a fugitive and they’re apparently trying to reconcile, so take that for what you will.

But the Austin era is over and done, so let’s move on.

On another note, it looks like Vince Russo is returning to the WWE creative team. Whether or not he has the total control he said he wanted to return isn’t known. The problem is, “Attitude” is dead, the PTC has neutered Vince’s TV shows, and “Crash TV” is not a long-term solution to get the ratings back up. Run-ins, cheap DQ finishes, and hotshot title changes haven’t been working for the past six months, so having someone else write even more of them won’t make a difference by any measure.

Enough opining; on with the show!

Monday night, The Rock returned to the show he’s ostensibly supposed to be suspended for appearing on.

On tape from Sacramento, CA, this is WWE Smackdown! for June 20, 2002. Your hosts are still Michael Cole and Taz(z). This is the PPV Hype Edition, so I hope you’re not expecting much coming in.

Looks like a promo is opening the show this week, as a somber Kurt Angle comes to the ring. He’s still got the wig, for some reason. Angle has a confession to make: he’s bald. Despite the best efforts of Rogaine and fertilizer, he remains that way, much to his chagrin. Kurt shows a replay of his de-wigging last week, with a black box covering his “naked” head. Angle then goes on the insult brigade, saying Hogan looks like’s 100 years old, can’t wrestle, can’t move, and dresses like a retard. Kurt Angle is now my hero. The usual PPV match threats are issued. This, of course, brings Hollywood Hulk Hogan out for a rebuttal. After spending about ten minutes getting to the ring, Hogan finally grabs a mic. Hogan retorts with more typical threats. They fight over Angle’s wig, with Hogan winning the weak brawl. Before Angle can be revealed as Mr Clean again, though, he kicks Hogan in the hundred year-old family jewels and beats a retreat.

After the break, Yummy Stacy and Dawn Marie bicker pointlessly. Torrie Wilson shows off her new bikini, and all of this was to plug next week’s lingerie show. I guess if they're going after an audience of Kleenx-brandishing males 16-21, they've got a winner.

The Real Mr Ass vs Christian. Rikishi brawls and threatens to collapse Christian’s chest cavity with a BELLY-to-belly suplex. He misses the Fatass splash, allowing Christian some token jobber offense. Unprettier is countered into the Bigass Cutter for the 3 at 1:47, even though Christian had his foot on the ropes. Another great Canadian gets screwed by an American ref. I think being in a match this bad is punishment enough, but to lose with your foot on the ropes is just pouring salt in that wound. DUD


After the bell, Lance Storm admonishes the ref to use his good eye during a match while Rikishi plays Dancing Fat Man in the ring. I wonder if Southwest would make him pay for two seats?

Back from the break, Storm goes on a tirade in the ring. Storm sees a prejudice against Canadians in the recent shoddy officiating. Storm accuses the fans, and all of America, of being prejudiced against Canada, and rails against the US thinking it’s better than all the other countries. Well, it’s about time he caught onto that. KNOW YOUR ROLE, MOOSE FONDLER. Seriously, though, why wasn’t Storm doing this six months ago? Seeing Storm put together some kind of Canadian stable would be cool, and to have them not be treated like jobbers would be even cooler.

Meanwhile, HHHGH dominates an interview with a timid Marc Lloyd. If you can’t guess what he said by now, you should be watching Must See TV instead.

Meanwhile, Nidia and Jamie Knoble give more lessons in bad, unconvincing acting. Oh, and she has the mask up her skirt.

Jamie Knoble (with Nidia) vs Billy Kidman. It’s a #1 Contender’s match for the cruiser belt Sunday. Knoble pounds Kidman and hiptosses him out. He works the arm, but Kidman flapjacks out of that predicament. Enzuigiri gets 2, and Kidman goes for a rana, which Knoble counters with a mini-powerbomb. That one doesn’t violate the Kidman Rule, IMODO. Knoble hits a nice German suplex with bridge for 2, and goes up. He comes with bodypress, which Kidman counters with a dropkick to the gut. Kidman goes up for the Shooting Star Press, but Nidia crotches him. Knoble DDT’s him down from the top for the pin at 2:44. Wow, not even 3 minutes for a cruiser match. This didn’t even have enough time to turn into a spotfest. 2/10

After the bell, the lights go out, and The Hurricane sneaks in behind Knoble and delivers a chokeslam that the bigger guys should study and learn from. He gets his mask back, but considering where Nidia stored it, he should have let Knoble keep it.

Rockabilly (with Chuck and Rico) vs HHHGH. Billy starts with a quick clothesline and pounds away on H. H brawls his way back and clotheslines Billy out. Billy goes into the steps, then HHH plays Stupid Babyface and chases Rico right into a Chuck ambush. Back in, Billy powerslams H for 2. Extended punching sequence leads to Billy getting a Tilt-a-Whirl slam for 2. H rallies with the running knee. Spinebuster gets 2, then H has to knock Chuck off the apron. Rico sneaks in and drops H with a spinning heel kick. Billy misses a beltshot while Rico and the ref discuss grooming techniques for mutton chops. H gets the belt and clubs Billy with it, and the Pedigree is academic at 4:36. Yawn. 1/10

HHH goes to Pedigree Rico after the bell, but Angle ambushes him. H gains control and dumps Angle, only to get ambushed by The Undertaker. There sure is a lot of ambushing going on tonight. H turns the tide and goes to Pedigree UT, but Angle is back with a chair. H moves, and Angle nails UT across the back with the chair. Methinks that wasn’t a good move.

During the break, 100% Vince played the old lecher with Stacy again. UT ran in and made threatening faces until Vince booked an Angle-Taker match for tonight.


KOTR Quaterfinal: Smackdown Is Jericho vs The Big Valbowski. Jericho jumps Val and chops away. Val hiptosses Jericho and drops the knee for 2. Jericho hits a back suplex, but the awesome power of the arrogant cover only gets 2. He’d be SO over if he were able to end matches with that. They exchange chops, and Jericho gets 2 off a drop sleeper. Bulldog drops Val, but the Lionsault misses. I don’t know why he even does that move anymore; they killed it as a finisher months ago. Val catapults Jericho into the turnbuckle and spinebusters him for 2. Jericho rolls thru a sunset flip and goes for the Walls, but Val rolls thru that into a small package for 2. Jericho bumps the ref on a flying jalapeno. Val plants Jericho with a fisherman’s suplex, but the ref is down. Jericho gets a chair, but Val kicks it away from him and does the Blue Thunder powerbomb, for a slow 2. Jericho lowblows Val and gets him to tap to the Walls at 4:32. Christ, he needs a ref bump to beat Val Freaking Venis? How the mighty have fallen. Decent match, at least. 5/10

Let’s watch the Rock’s promo from Raw again.

Meanwhile, Test and Hardcore Holly blandly exchange barbs during an exciting wrist taping.

After the break, Angle complains about having to interrupt his intense preparations for the Hogan match just for The Undertaker.

KOTR Quarterfinal: Hardcore Holly vs Test. Holly brawls and powerslams Test for 2. Test does a pair of running clotheslines in the corner. He goes for the Meltdown, but Holly slips out and bulldogs him. Test elbows Bob and goes up. He comes down with the Please-Counter-Me Leap, so Holly obliges with a dropkick for 2. Test misses the Yakuza kick, and holly rolls thru Uncle Slam for 2. Meltdown gets 2, and the Big Boot Of Terrible Face Crushing~! ends it at 3:10. This wasn’t bad in spots, but it was nothing special overall. 2.5/10

After the break, Vince turns Fit Finlay and Johnny Ace into lackeys, sending them to fetch Undertaker and Angle.

Meanwhile, Jericho holds court with Lloyd.

Meanwhile, Vince lectures UT and Angle on the merits of good, clean competition. Write your own joke there. A brief melee ensues, so I guess they missed the point.

Main Event: Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker. Angle gets a chair before UT even comes out, and uses it to keep him out of the ring. The ref takes it, but Angle is still able to jump UT and wail away on him. UT gets a clothesline, but Angle grabs an early Anglelock. UT makes the ropes and heads out, where Angle kicks him in the ankle repeatedly. That’s just cool. Angle goes into the wall and gets beat on. Back in, UT gets Snake Eyes, but Angle counters with a German suplex for 2. Angle removes the turnbuckle pad (which never factors into the match – sloppy, guys) but gets pounded. He nails an overhead belly-to-belly and goes for the Olympic Slam, but UT slips out and clotheslines him. UT does the legdrop on the apron. Out they go, where UT pounds Angle and posts him headfirst. Back in, UT goes for the chokeslam, but Angle manages to counter that and roll into the Anglelock. Awesome reversal there. UT refuses to tap (or sell much), and finally rolls thru. Chokeslam, disregarding the ankle injury, but HHH is out to distract UT long enough for Angle to roll him up with a handful of pants at 6:31. What an exciting finish. This one was all Angle, and UT didn’t contribute enough, especially with his lousy selling of the Anglelock, to help. 4/10

After the match is over, it’s the Official Pre-PPV Smackdown Main Event Brawl, as UT and HHH slug it out. Hogan comes out to slap an awful-looking anklelock on Angle. UT boots him to break it and then delivers the chokeslam. He turns around into Kick-Wham-Pedigree, though, and HHH does the shirt-tearing and posing. He must be jobbing Sunday.

Doing The Math: This was a typical Smackdown on the eve of a PPV: a lot of hype, a lot of talking, and not much in the way of wrestling. Now you know why I’ve been dreading pre-PPV Smackdowns for a long time now. I don’t think people are going to decide whether or not to buy a $35 program on the basis of one lousy TV show. If you're going to do a hard sell, at least try to mask your paranoid desperation at flagging ratings, fan apathy, and creative bankruptcy. Besides, if they’re really interested in hyping KOTR, where was the Rock tonight? Overall (not an average): 3/10

Dr. Tom
www.cynicsrule.com