Looking Back on: Fuck you, Vince, and your damn daughter too. (Wrestling Recap, 08/25/02)

(Yes, I also used to write about wrestling, and I even have a couple of random-ass live event recaps I’ll likely post up here at some point. I have, seriously, two to three years worth of crap I can post here and make fun of, so believe me, I am NOT hurting for content. Anyway, this, for reference, would have been written a couple days after Summerslam 2002, and I was super-angry for… some reason or another, even though I mostly can’t remember why. Let’s find out together, shall we?)

Y’know, I was all set to write a column about wrestling cover-ups… y’know, like the Montreal screw-job, the Madison Square Garden incident, and so on. (Anyone reading that who does know what you’re talking about does not, in fact, need a column written about said things, and anyone who would need a column about said things does not know what you’re talking about.) For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, I’ll write it next week, I promise, but I’m sorry, I can’t stay quiet anymore. After Summerslam and Raw, I have something I NEED to say. (I feel like I needed to have someone follow me around during my twenties who would tap me on the shoulder and say “No, you really don’t,” instead of the various people who would tell me “Dude that would be SO awesome.”)

Fuck you, Vince. Fuck you and your bastard progeny. Fuck you for not knowing what the HELL you’re doing anymore. Fuck you for believing your own hype. But most of all, fuck you for ruining what was one of my favorite pastimes, and that WAS wrestling. (Well, THAT’S certainly applicable to 2014 if nothing else, so at least it’s still timely.)

Okay, I said it. I feel better.

But seriously… Summerslam was, easily, one of the best PPV events I’ve seen in years. None of the matches except Undertaker v. Test really bothered me, and there were a great deal of fantastic matches. A strong PPV, and one the WWE SHOULD have been able to capitalize on. (Wait someone put Undertaker v. Test on a PPV and expected us to PAY MONEY TO SEE THAT? Goddamn that match probably sucked.)

And then we got RAW.

Okay, first off… Summerslam. (So am I going back and recapping Summerslam after having just recapped my opinion of Summerslam? Okay then.) Having Angle jerk the curtain was flat out INSULTING. He deserves much better, period, and putting him as opening contest was just disgusting. (I had to look up Keith’s recap of the PPV to see what the fuck I’m talking about here, and apparently Angle and Rey Mysterio opened the PPV here, which I believe actually was something of a big problem for people, considering he was a multiple time IC/Euro/World champ at this point, and this was not too long after the whole WCW Invasion deal.) Jericho/Flair looked better on paper than it actually was, and I saw them wrestle back in ’98 and it sucked then, so why they thought it’d be better now I don’t know. (Because Jericho and Flair were, in theory, amazing wrestlers, and hope springs eternal. In practice, I think Shawn Michaels was the only person who could get a “good” match out of Flair at this point, and Jericho was still at the point where he was having good to great matches, but almost exclusively with people who could “go” in the ring. I like Jericho a lot as a performer, but he was never a guy who could carry someone to a REALLY good match, and Flair kind of needed someone like that at this point in his career. It also doesn’t help that this was, I believe, heel Jericho, and heel Jericho during his first WWF run was kind of the shits.) The IC title match was solid, but it seems they only did that to give RAW all the stationary belts, so whatever. (I’m completely going in the wrong order here, AND I skipped Guerrero/Edge, apparently, which kind of seems super fucking stupid. But I was, in point of fact, accurate: they were attempting to keep all of the singles titles on Raw, in an attempt to unify them all into one belt that RVD would hold, though plans changed a bit later.) The tag title match was decent, if overbooked. (Haha oh GOD the fucking UnAmericans versus BookDust, talk about some seriously goofy gimmicks. The UnAmericans was essentially Test, Christian and Lance Storm getting together because FUCK AMERICA, with there being some teases toward pairing Jericho with them and having them oppose patriotic babyfaces, though Undertaker just beat them up a bit and they mostly quietly died off as a gimmick later that year. BookDust, on the other hand, was Booker T and Goldust teaming because they had nothing else going on, getting really over, and then getting split up for dumb reasons before being paired again and pushed, sort of. Just a weird time for WWE in general.)  UT/Test was SEVERLY overbooked for Test to lose, and just made me not care about UT that much more. (Specifically, Undertaker fought off Test, Christian AND Lance Storm before beating Test, and then went on to challenge for the World Title shortly after this, despite having some of the worst matches of his career at this point. Because he turned face for AMERICA or some shit.) Michaels/HHH was a classic that basically said to me that Michaels is better than most of the WWE roster right now if he can carry HHH to ANY KIND of a good match. Yeah, I hate HHH, blow me. (To be fair, that was definitely a popular sentiment at this point in time, though I will in retrospect note that had Michaels not come back to work a full-time schedule after this, it would’ve been pretty embarrassing for just about everyone involved, except HHH of course.) And Rock/Brock served it’s purpose, even IF it wasn’t a Classic for all time. (Specifically, Rock had just picked up the title from… the Undertaker, actually, with the sole intention being for Rock to put over Brock strong and make him into the hottest thing in the company. It worked well enough, though Brock never really became THE GUY for whatever reason.)

Alright, now, my sole problems with the PPV are small and easily fixable, so here you go. First, Michaels should return to active competition. He proved he’s still got it, and carried HHH to a STELLAR match, so bring him back in for a few months. (He did, in fact, come back for several years, and managed to put over a bunch of new talent, so good on him.) But the whole sledgehammer thing at the end… the damn hammer should have said “TONKA” on the side… god, how fake. (HHH basically blasted Michaels with the hammer in a way that would’ve killed him in real life, hence the TONKA comment.) Also… I don’t buy Lesnar as champion. He’s big, he beat Hogan and Rock, I still don’t buy him as champ, period. He STILL lets Heyman do most of his talking, he hasn’t done any solid wrestling yet, just power moves, and I KNOW damn well the kid’s got a Shooting Star Press in that arsenal… and come ON, even IF they gave him the Jesus push, winning KOTR does not a champion contender make. (To be fair this was due in equal parts to having seen Brock’s earlier matches where, yes, he broke out a SSP in a match and his WWE matches at that point were kind of plodding in comparison, as well as the fact that his earlier booking had been kind of weird, since they had him crush the Hardys, but didn’t actually want to job out Jeff for some reason, so Brock came out of the whole feud looking kind of lame in comparison. The WWE had a chance to rehab him this time around, and instead booked him to lose to Cena in his first match, so… I don’t even know man.) Edge never got a title shot, Angle had to wait six months for his, and Billy Gunn… okay, bad example, but still. (This is in reference to King of the Ring winners, though interestingly enough, WWE more or less stopped using the KOTR tournament format, breaking it out only three more times, for Booker T, who did indeed become champion afterward, William Regal, who got into a shitload of trouble and was busted down the card right after, and Sheamus, who did indeed become the champion afterward. Bret and Austin also used it to move into title contention, sort of, so the precedent was kind of there.) Lesnar beat RVD, Hogan, and Rock, to be sure, but pushing him into matches with Mark Henry and Rikishi REALLY makes him look like some glorified jobber, ESPECIALLY when they get a convincing offense on him. (Yeah, that was kind of a big problem for Lesnar, in that he was straight-up beating top talent, but also giving way too much offense to people who were honestly not worth it; he should’ve been ruining low-tier people, ala Ryback or Goldberg, and instead he was having competitive matches with losers.) He needs to kill lower-rung guys like that, not sell a major ass-beating before making the comeback. And what was he doing before KOTR? Oh, yeah, KILLING the Hardyz. (Oh yeah, ‘z’ spellings, woof, WWE.) Come on, EVERYONE’s done that anymore, look at HHH and Austin. (To be fair he did it to both of them at the same time, and Austin/HHH did take a loss or two to the Hardys at that point.) Lesnar just seems like a weak champion, and pushing him into a feud with UT is going to do nothing but kill him before he has a chance to really show off to the fans. (Yeah, the Undertaker feud didn’t help much, since Taker refused to lose the first match, though he jobbed strong in the second, so it was kind of a wash. Turning Brock face not too long after this didn’t help a lot either come to think of it. As Scott Keith would say, “Brock did fine,” but looking at what could have been relative to what was just… uh, draws a lot of parallels to modern WWE, actually, so forget I said anything.)

Then RAW happened, as I said. (Again with the single sentence breaks.)

Okay… first off, unifying the Hardcore and IC belts… fine, I can deal with that. The Hardcore belt was a joke anyway, but the fact that belt not encompasses the European, Hardcore, and US Titles, not to mention however many NWA titles the US title had merged into it… and the IC title is STILL a nothing belt, really. (I think I meant, “but the fact that the belt now encompasses the etc etc etc.”) But at least the damn division is dead, but that kind of makes the week prior’s match for said belt useless. I feel like my time’s been wasted. (Again, the point was to make the IC title into a sort of “World” title on Raw, before HHH said “fuck that” and had them pull out the old WCW Big Gold Belt so he could hold it. Yeah, come to think of it, this is the period when HHH started being a huge jerkass to fucking everyone, so I think reviewing some of these write-ups is going to be hilarious.)

Howard Finkle, in ANY kind of a match, for any reason, at all, ever, is STUPID. I never want to see his fat ass in ANY sort of competition, EVER again. And what was the point of all this? Did they feel the need to embarrass him AGAIN?!? They did that when Jericho first debuted, and no one cared THEN either. If Bischoff’s right, and no one gives a shit about women’s wrestling, then they DEFINITELY didn’t care about this shitstorm either. (I have no idea what this is in reference to.)

The Un-Americans need to die. Not the wrestlers, mind you, but the gimmick. September 11th, 2002 is coming, and Vince needs to kill this shit gimmick before then. (Also have no idea what this is in reference to, but the gimmick was pretty terrible, and I believe it was shelved not too long after this, shortly after September.)

Kane is one of my favorite wrestlers, period, but getting him when RAW lost Benoit, Lesnar, and Gurerro seems really unfair to me. Sorry, Glen, you STILL can’t carry a show the way they can. (Once Kane took off the mask the mystique was lost for me. Also finding out he votes for Ron Paul, actually. But yes, there is no universe where Kane for Benoit and Guerrero would be considered a fair trade, sorry Aaron.)

HHH and UT wrestling for the #1 contender’s spot? BULLSHIT! I’m sorry, but UT is TOO OLD to be wrestling for the title AGAIN. (He’d hold it at least one more time, I think a couple more, between 2002 and now, though once he started getting into the whole MMA wrestling style and took months off at a time, he got a lot better.) I KNOW he’s gonna give Lesnar the rub, but come ON! (Well, in the second match.) Get him out of the main event picture, NOW. (I think I was mostly aping Keith’s viewpoint here, though, again, I was in the majority as far as IWC fans were concerned.) And what the hell did HHH do to deserve to win that match? Job to Michaels? Draw lackluster numbers as champ? Oh, yeah, he fucks Steph, silly me, I forgot. (Basically Hunter will always be a draw because he was a draw at one point, and also because yes, he’s married into the family. This was just the beginning as far as HHHate was concerned though.) Hey Hunter, remember after the MSG incident, you had to spend month after month jobbing as punishment? You need to go back there. (Well he did job to Bryan and the Shield, so there’s that.)

And finally…

THE WORLD TITLE CANNOT BE DRAFTED! Vince specifically SAID the World title and Women’s title floated between shows. You can’t just change the rules without explaining HOW! Steph says “Oh, Lesnar’s mine now, too bad.” Fuck you Steph, that’s bullshit, and you all know it. There’s no possible motivation for this that makes ANY kind of sense, and I don’t CARE how the storyline ends up from here on out, it STILL sucks. (Oh God, yeah, this nonsense. Basically, Lesnar was drafted to Smackdown the day after he won the title even though the champ was supposed to work both shows, and then HHH and Undertaker got into a huge fight over it while Brock ran away like a pussy, because that helps Brock out. Sigh. UT followed Brock to Smackdown to get what he felt was his, while HHH was supposed to feud with RVD over the IC title, but instead had a brand new title made just for him, merged the IC title into it, then jobbed to HHH, because Hunter overrode the writers at the time, and probably did it because he dropped the belt to Hogan months prior. Man I hated this period of the WWF/WWE.)

And for that matter, anyone else out there feel like Vince has been trying to bury RAW for the past several months? Take out Jericho, Booker T, RVD, and Kane and you’re essentially left with guys who SHOULD have retired years ago, or guys who if they died tomorrow, the WWE would never miss them. Smackdown has all the top talent, and yet RAW CONTINUES to get higher ratings! Want to know why, Vince? Want to know why, no matter what you do, Smackdown draws less week after week? (The Raw talent pool was kind of weak at this point, as I recall, though I think the point was more that they were trying to boost the ratings of Smackdown due to it being up for renewal or something to that effect? I don’t remember the specific reason why the talent pool was skewed toward Smackdown, though it also bears noting that a lot of the top Smackdown talent weren’t DRAWS in the strictest sense; that is, they were GOOD, but not NOTABLE MONEY MAKERS.)

We hate your goddamn daughter. (Yes, this was also a big reason people hated Smackdown.)

We hate her being on our TV. (She’s gotten a lot better in recent years.) We hate her writing behind the scenes. (Yeah that hasn’t improved so much.) We hate her almost delusional pushing of HHH to the top of the card, when he’s done nothing in almost a year to make us care about him, while good guys like Benoit, RVD, and others stay in the midcard, fighting over the IC belt. (To be fair that was as much Hunter as it was Steph, though hilariously, when people on conference calls called the WWE out for this, Linda’s response was that Hunter was Steph’s ‘current’ boyfriend. Though now the investors mostly just complain that they don’t want Hunter to run the company because he has no business experience, because as Bill Gates shows us, if you have no business experience your work is doomed to failure.) We hate her nails on chalkboard voice, her smug “I’m better than you” attitude, and her fake ass lumpy tits. (To be fair, as a heel her voice and attitude generally actually work in her favor these days. Her boobs do still look kind of weird, though; I believe Shaggy 2 Dope made the point that she “looks like Vince with titties” now, and I can kind of see that. Of course that’s not a reason to hate her character, per say, but when you’ve asked Steve Austin to rip your shirt off so we can see your new implants… yeah.) We don’t turn on the TV to see you and your fuckin’ family, you egotistical fuck, we turn it on to see WRESTLING. (This is still a problem the entire family hasn’t quite wrapped their heads around yet.) So when you cram your family and their problems down our throats, we stop turning on the TV for you. It’s really simple logic: give us what we WANT to see, we watch. DON’T, and we stop. (See above, though they occasionally seem to be getting that.)

If I sound bitter, I am. If I sound like I hate wrestling, I don’t, I just hate the storylines and politics behind it. (Yeah, that’s still about right.) If I sound like I hate Vince, I don’t, I just hate his decisions. If I sound like I want to stop watching, I don’t, I want them to fix what’s broken so I feel good about watching again. (I actually did more or less stop watching the current product a few years after this, partially due to the fact that I got tired of what the WWE was presenting, and partially because of the whole Benoit thing. I give it a chance now and then, but mostly try to avoid it because it’s just not good.) And if I sound like I hate Stephanie, I really don’t… I just hate her being on my TV, her poking HHH, her doing booking and storylines, her narcissistic desire to be center-stage of everything…

Okay, maybe I DO hate Steph. But I’d still do her. (Even though you just accused her of having lumpy tits? Stay classy, 2002 me. Jesus Christ.)

World Wrestling Entertainment needs an enema. (This is a take off of a catchphrase I came up with, “The world needs an enema,” that we’ll be seeing pop up now and again. I still like it, to be honest.)

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