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Dr. Tom's Smackdown! Report: 2/20/03

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In Theatres Now: Judging by the opening weekend numbers, it looks like a lot of you have already seen Daredevil. Whether or not you have, you can read all about what I thought of it right here.


On tape from Indianapolis, Indiana, this is WWE Smackdown for 20 February 2K3. Your bobbleheads are Michael Cole and Taz(z).


No pyro or anything like that, but here comes The Rock to kick things off. For someone who’s supposed to be a heel, he sure is getting a nice welcome-back pop. There are quite a few “Rocky Sucks!” signs in the crowd, at least. Since the “Finally . . .” spiel was twice interrupted by rude fans booing Rock in mid-performance, he decides to rag on their football team-stealing city. They retort with “Hogan”! Chants. Rock talks about all the mixed reactions he’s been getting, but it doesn’t matter because he’s that damn entertaining. And that’s a BOSS tattoo on his left shoulder, I’ll add. In the middle of saying how committed he is to WWE and the fans, Rock pauses for a call from his personal assistant. Some things just can’t wait, you see. Rock makes sure the fans understand the ramifications of booing him, which they seem quite comfortable with. Still, Rock reams the sheep of Indy for chanting along with him after booing him for ten solid minutes. This was a fabulous promo, the “personal assistant” touch was great, and Rock’s mini-rant at the end showed his’s still gold on the stick. He had the crowd eating out of his hand and booing him at the same time. Welcome back, Rocky.


Chris Benoit vs. A-Train. A-Train shoves Benoit into the corner and drives a series of knees into his gut. He misses a charge, so Benoit goes to the chops. Th filthy heathen that he is, though, A-Train no-sells the choppage and clotheslines Benoit down. He puts him up, then scoops him into a cradle fisherman's suplex. Impressive looking, but it only gets 2. Benoit counters the Derailer into the Crossface, then rolls thru to the opposite arm when A-Train tries to power out. He finally gets back to his feet, only to take a German suplex from Benoit. A-Train stops the following suplexes with an elbow, but Benoit rolls him up out of nowhere for the win at 1:58. Two minutes isn’t much, but it isn’t enough time for Train to stink up the place too badly. At least not against Benoit, bad wing and all. 1/10

(Winner: Chris Benoit, pinfall via rollup at 1:58)


Meanwhile, Hollywood Hulk Hogan arrives, late just like The Rock said.


After the break, NUMBAH ONE Announcer Funaki is deterred from interviewing Rock by the Great One’s own security.


Rikishi vs. Johnny Stamboli (with Nunzio and Chuck Palumbo). There are two mysterious crates on the stage this week. Rikishi controls a brawl on the floor as the extraneous fellows are evicted from ringside. In the ring, Rikishi keeps up the brawling, but Stamboli turns the tide with a headbutt. To a SAMOAN? They just don’t make Samoan skulls like they used to, friends. Stamboli press slams Rikishi (!!) and puts the boots to him in the corner. Rikishi rallies with a Samoan drop, and a superkick finishes Stamboli at 1:47. Nothing to see here, but I’ll toss a point out there for that press slam. 1/10


(Winner: Rikishi, pinfall via superkick at 1:47)


Meanwhile, Kurt Angle and Shelton Benjamin spar a bit, leading to another pep talk for the troops. He promises an ankle breaking at NWO.


After the break, Los Guerreros do a Beverly Hillbillies-type skit wherein they cleverly steal valuables from some chick with a kid. Not very funny, really.


Tag Match: Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman vs. Matt Hardy v1.0 and Shannon Moore. Today’s fun Matt facts: Matt is miserable when dieting, and Matt finds Shannon very hard to teach. Rey and Moore start, and Moore brings the forearms. He gets 2 off a leg lariat, but in comes Kidman to assist Rey in a double-team hiptoss. He tosses Rey into a legdrop on Moore for 2, brother. Matt tags in and gets wailed on by Kidman until he gets a Side Effect for 2. Matt pounds away on Kidman and drops the elbow for 2. Matt works Kidman over in the corner and back suplexes him for 2. He goes to the front facelock, forcing Kidman to fight out. Kidman escapes a Twist of Fate and dropkicks Matt. There’s the hot tag to Rey, who comes in with Bombs Away on Matt. Moore takes a Tilt-A-Whirl backbreaker and gets legscissored out of the ring. Matt gets dropkicked into perfect position for the 619, but Moore manages to disrupt the West Coast Pop. Matt capitalizes with a sitout powerbomb for 2. Rey escapes a second powerbomb try and tags Kidman, who comes in with a missle dropkick for the unsuspecting Matt. Moore sneaks in a legdrop from the top while the ref is occupied with Rey, which Matt uses to get 2. Matt goes up, but Kidman pops up and pounds him, tossing Rey up to him for a nice hurricanrana. Moore stops the Shooting Star Press, so Rey takes care of him with a pescado. Matt takes advantage and hits the Twist of Fate on Kidman for the win at 5:02. After the first two clunkers, we needed an energetic match like this to put some life back in the show. Some neat spots made this one fun all around. 4.5/10

(Winners: Matt Hardy/Shannon Moore, pinfall (Hardy Twist of Fate) at 5:02)


Earlier this week, Cole sat down with Nathan Jones, who’s going to be exclusively on Smackdown. Jones played up the unstable evil genius gimmick, and hinted at a feud with The Undertaker.


After the break, a video montage shows the three-week history of Taker spoiling The Big Slow’s attempts to apologize by proxy for tossing him onto a foam mat a while back.


Here comes Taker to the ring, to survey the latest olive branch. He opens one crate to reveal a puppy. I wonder if he’ll chokeslam the little dog if it pees on him. Taker violently opens the second crate, only to have Slow sneak up on him from behind. Well, as much as a tub like Slow can sneak anywhere, that is. Slow tosses Taker into the crate a few times and chokeslams him. The real winner in their match Sunday will be the lucky fan who decides to take a power nap while it’s on. What happened to the puppy, anyway?


Paddle On A Pole Match: Torrie Wilson vs, Nidia (with Jamie Noble). Noble interferes with a powerslam, allowing Nidia to get the paddle and administer a spanking. Noble helps, which brings Funaki out for the save. WTF? I guess Torrie’s going to try and get another Japanese wrestler over. I know you’re not looking for a rating here.


Meanwhile, Hogan is rebuffed by Rock’s security chaps, so he takes it to the ring.


After the break, Hogan goes to the ring, but before he can even say anything, Rock joins him. Rock talks about all the disrespectful things that have been said and done, and awaits Hogan’s apology. Rock brings up how worthless Hogan was until his challenge last year, and takes credit for the resurgence of Hulkamania. I doubt Hogan will see the soundness of that reasoning. He rudely refuses to apologize for his grievous insults to the Rock. Despite Hogan’s impudence, Rock offers him a handshake. Unfortunately, his dry throat causes him to accidentally spit in Hogan’s face, which Hogan inexplicably takes offense to. Some people.


After the bobbleheads run down the No Way Out card, Ice Ice Cena, with leg in cast, promises Brock that it’s on like NECKBONE~!


Main Event: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (with Team Angle and Paul Heyman). Angle informs us of the stipulations for Brock to wrestle him tonight: he must first beat Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. I thought Raw had exclusive rights to the bait-and-switch?


Brock Lesnar vs. Charlie Haas. Brock tosses Haas around, but Haas takes him down and goes to the mat. Brock powers out and rams the shoulder into Haas. Haas elbows Brock on a charge and takes him over with a German, but Brock clotheslines him down in a moment of celebreation. Brock tosses Haas around some more and presses him into the F5 for the first part of the gauntlet win at 2:35. This was basically just Brock tossing Haas around for a couple minutes. 1.5/10

(Winner: Brock Lesnar, pinfall via F5 at 2:35)


Brock Lesnar vs. Shelton Benjamin. JIP, as Brock pouds Benjamin and hits a butterfly suplex. Lather, rinse, repeat. Brock gets a half-hour suplex, but Benjamin cleverly dropkicks his leg and superkicks him. He kicks Brock into the corner and works the arm over there. Armbar DDT gets 1, and Benjamin locks in an armbar. He moves to the cross armbreaker. Brock powers out, hoisting Benjamin in the air for a wicked slam. Clotheslines for Benjamin, and Brock nails an overhead suplex. He’s not really selling the arm. Another overhead draws Angle to the apron, where Brock quickly chases him off. Benjamin tries to capitalize with a superkick, but Brock blocks it and clotheslines him. He pinches Angle’s move, finishing Benjamin with an Olympic Slam at 4:54. Maybe it should be a College All-American Slam when Brock does it. Perfectly adequate match, though I would have liked it better had Brock sold the arm properly. 3/10

(Winner: Brock Lesnar, pinfall via College All-American Slam at 4:54)


Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle. Angle and Paul squabble over the match, but Brock did pass the gauntlet, so Angle heads to the ring. It’s a short bout, though, as Paul chairs Lesnar to draw the DQ all of five seconds into it. Angle grabs Brock in a chokehold, but Brock carries him across the ring and dumps him. He tries to give Heyman a long-awaited F5, but Angle chop-blocks him just in time. Team Angle does a beatdown, culminating in an Anglelock, forcing Benoit and Edge to make the save. That’s your six-man match Sunday, of course. No rating.

(Winner: Brock Lesnar by DQ (Heyman chairshot) at 0:05)


The breakdown:


The Good: Hmm, not as much in this category as I’m used to. The Rey/Kidman vs. Hardy/Moore tag match was the best of the night. The only other segments of the show that were really worth watching were the Rock’s promos. He’s still got it, and his heel act is good to see again after an absence of about four years.


The Bad: The rest of the show, really. Brock and Shelton Benjamin put on a pretty average match, but nothing else in the ring was memorable at all. That includes the last in the series of increasingly cloying Undertaker-Big Show olive branch vignettes.


The Ugly: While there wasn’t much to like this week, nothing was THAT bad.


Overall: Welcome back to earth, Smackdown. It was bound to happen sooner or later. The string of good shows had to end, and it’s only appropriate that it came the episode before a PPV. Look at this as a bump on the road; I expect the show to be back to its usual good self next week. 3.5/10


Dr. Tom

(They're Z's this week, but remove 'em anyway)

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