Looking Back on… Wow. (WWE, 2002)

(This one most likely was written around its posting time, I’d expect; the WWE Armageddon PPV was released around 12/15, and this was tagged 12/22, so it makes sense time-wise. For reference, the prior piece would have been written sometime around Survivor Series in November, but was tagged as being posted in early December. Anyway, by all indications I’d been disgusted by the results of Survivor Series, and had opted to skip this PPV and simply read the results. From looking them over now, it seems like an okay PPV, so we’ll see how my opinion then matches up to my opinion now.)

Pretty self-explanatory, isn’t it? No? Well, let me say this: even after Vince McMahon dropped the revelation to his staff that Shock TV is dead, (This was in reference to an internet rumor that Vince announced that the long-standing “Crash/Shock TV” concept pioneered by Vince Russo was dead and should no longer be relied on. No idea how true it is, but it did reflect in the booking in the months and years following, so let’s say it’s accurate.) they still managed to shock me on this PPV. I mean, somehow, they managed to do some things RIGHT. (Story of their lives.) Now, I’m not about to say that everything was peachy, but honestly, they did a good job with what they had set up, and honestly, HHH was destined to go over, so I’m not too shocked about that or anything. (Which is worse: HHH wins lol or Cena wins lol? Discuss.) But Angle won the belt?!? Oh my shit, I think I might pass out from shock. (Angle had been a World Champion prior to this point, but had also been treated as something of a goober leading up to this point, so it was surprising. Say what you will about Paul Heyman, but his rebuilding of Angle during this time period was pretty decent.) And for those wondering, yes, I DID miss Armageddon, but I read enough recaps to have a solid feeling of what happened.

Okay, first the good, because that’s a shorter list these days:

Kurt Angle won the Smackdown Title. Really, I’m SHOCKED about this one, both because I was of the impression that Vince has no idea who his GOOD wrestlers are anymore, and because Kurt is supposed to have his knee scoped, because as of this point, he is working injured. (It turns out that Angle spent most of his WWE career working hurt on some level or another, because he’s basically developed a series of longstanding injuries that refuse to go away, and he generally just keeps working with them anyway. He is… not so bright, shall we say.) Perhaps Kurt will only hold the belt for a few weeks, or maybe he’s going to hold off on surgery… whatever, I’m just happy he’s the World Champ.

Chris Benoit is receiving a push. A-MEN! No, seriously, I’m fucking ecstatic about that. Seriously, I’ve been willing to pay GOOD MONEY to see Benoit main-event for about two, three YEARS now, so believe me when I say this is a happy day for me. (This would ultimately be a false-push, as Benoit would kind of coast around the uppercard while Lesnar and Angle feuded for the belt on Smackdown, though this time next year, Benoit’s fortunes would be much better. Obviously, though, much of the above no longer applies for obvious reasons.)

Booker T and Golddust won the Raw Tag Titles. (Ah, BookDust, one of many tag teams assembled from people who basically had nothing of note to do at the time. See also Kane and RVD, Booker T and RVD, and “HurriKane,” or Hurricane and Kane. BookDust seemed like the team that had the most upside, comparatively, but this seemed to have been done mostly to elevate Booker’s position on the card so that he could face HHH at Wrestlemania, because Hunter wanted to work an old-school Harley Race style racism angle. Yup. He also then won that match, because apparently black people don’t deserve to be world champion? I have no idea what the point of that whole deal was and it’s easily the most infuriating part of HHH’s shitty power trip from this time period.) No, seriously, this is an incredibly good thing from where I stand. First off, it means that they have SOME idea what the fans want. Second, it’s about damn time Booker won a freakin’ title! The man is incredibly solid in the ring, and the basic snub they’ve been giving him up until this point was unnecessary and annoying. (Booker came into the WWE with the WCW World title, which he then lost to the Rock, while the Rock and Chris Jericho basically traded it back and forth for a while and Booker was kind of treated like shit, winning the tag titles a couple times with Test while Austin was made the de facto top guy on the Alliance’s side. Booker kind of drifted around a bit, feuding with Austin in a nothing feud and with Edge over a Japanese shampoo commercial, seriously, before a big storyline between Booker, Goldust and the nWo came up, which brings us to this event.)

Okay, so yeah, I thought they did a good job.

Now, on to the bad…

From all indications, the HHH-Michaels match ran about ten minutes too long and was pretty mediocre. (I believe that this match was regarded as “meh” by most people, but it was either this one or the one immediately after that Scott Keith described as, and I’m paraphrasing, “Good on a technical level, but I never want to see it again.” The feud had kind of worn out its welcome.) Granted, I expected that, but honestly, what could you expect? Michaels should have stayed retired, (Nah, he ended up becoming a huge asset to the company not too much longer after this, and put over a few top guys to really help them out. Not yet, though, as he’d be beating Jericho at Wrestlemania, I believe, but soon.) and HHH is still not the man to be holding the World belt, (Which he would hold for over two more years regularly, in between dropping it to Goldberg in the summer, then Benoit at Wrestlemania of the following year.) so between the two of them, they went out there and managed to produce a crap-tastic match. You’re not telling me anything new. And I still find it insulting that HHH jobbed the title to Michaels with the intention of showing he IS willing to job, so long as it’s his best friend, and he gets the belt back a month later. Bleh. (That was another thing that really annoyed people, but at this point you can just add it to the pile.)

Bautista beat Kane. (His actual name is Bautista, but the company changed it to Batista, I guess for copyright purposes.) See, I have a multitude of issues with this. First, what was the point of building up Kane as high as they did? Let me guess, they’re blaming the failure of the Katie Vick angle on him? Granted, I don’t see Kane as World Champion, and I never did, but come on here, they brought Kane in to job him to Bautista? Bullshit! (I suspect, at this point, that the whole deal was that basically, the WWE saw Kane as someone who’s always available to put people over and make them into huge stars, so long as you put him over a few people who aren’t really a big deal, so that’s more or less how it went. They put Kane over some lower-card guys, paired him up against HHH to increase his perceived value, then put Batista over him to improve Batista’s value for the Evolution deal that would be happening around this time.) And to job him out in six minutes? Jeez, the Kane-HHH match lasted longer than that! (To be fair, Batista did beat HHH the first time they wrestled, so it makes sense he’d be able to beat Kane faster. That’s the logical, quasi-kayfabe reason, as opposed to the real reason, which is that Batista couldn’t really have a match that went beyond six minutes at that point.) If you’re going to job the man, make it slightly meaningful! And, last but not least, BAUTISTA?!? The man has a moveset that rivals Albert’s in terms of boredom and potential of injury. Sure, he’s big, but big means shit if you can’t wrestle, and as far as I’ve seen, Dave CAN’T wrestle! Crap, crap, and in case I forgot to say it before, crap. (That’s the WWE’s mentality in a nutshell: find someone who looks like they’re something special and make them something special as best they can. See also Roman Reigns. They used to be a lot better at it, of course.)

Why bother having Lance Storm/William Regal and the Dudleys in the RAW tag match if they were going to get jobbed out inside of five minutes? Make it Jericho/Christian versus Bookdust, and call it a night. (To get them a payday one supposes.)

Hey look, RVD’s at the World. God, why not just job him out to the Brooklyn Brawler now? Seriously, he goes from headlining PPV’s to being at the World, and people don’t see the problem with this? Well, excuse me, people who are employed by Vince, I mean. (The World was a nightclub the WWE used to run in Times Square, back when they were making shitloads of money, and they’d frequently have talent appear there to promote… whatever. My favorite memories of The World are going there to see Fozzy, Jericho’s band, perform once, and the one time Jerry Lynn was there and gave an interview that ended with his death metal voice, a little bit before he was shunted off of TV and let go. Otherwise it was a waste.)

Okay, so at the last PPV, Trish and Victoria managed to make a decent match for themselves, but add Jackie in there and the match sucks? (Yes, that was basically always the problem whenever Jackie was involved.) While I’m not completely surprised, I have to question why they keep Jackie around, as she is neither attractive, nor a good wrestler. And I have to seriously question the logic in having her teach on Tough Enough… if she can’t wrestle that good herself, what hope does she have in training the new people? (Presumably the same reason they have Bill DeMott teach NXT: those who cannot do, teach. But seriously, Jackie was basically the shits at this point in her career, and putting her into any match was more or less death.)

Edge v. A-Train (god, what a shitty gimmick) (The guy changed his name from Albert to A-Train; that was basically it. The subtext was the massive “shave your back” chant that was so prevalent, it made its way into the fucking videogames, as the game fans would chant it at him. This was a weird time for Matt Bloom, though his current gig as NXT announcer Jason Albert seems to be working out well for him at least.) was, as far as I can gather, a clusterfuck. Edge is not the man to be carrying slow, talentless lugs to good matches, (He was apparently quite unmotivated as well, as several times the writing team had apparently floated the idea of him becoming a babyface foil for HHH, and Hunter always shut it down. Wait, why do we like Hunter again now?) and Albert got nothing from this match, as he didn’t even manage to present an offense even approaching passable. (Story of his life.) And the ending was a shitstorm of stupidity. I mean, a DQ? When was the last time you saw one of those, barring title matches? (These days that’s a whole lot of the WWE’s booking mentality; DQ’s don’t count as one person proving themselves better than another, so just roll that out so no one looks weak. Even though wins and losses don’t matter. Sigh.)

The whole lesbian hotel room antics bit sounds, as far as I can tell, like a messy promo spot that successfully turned Al Wilson heel, bored the fans to tears, and provided a pay off of zilch. (Oh my God the Al Wilson angle. I don’t know if this will come up again in my recaps but here’s the super condensed version: Torrie Wilson brings her father to the shows for some reason, and he meets Dawn Marie, who starts dating him. Al and Dawn get engaged, and Torrie wants it called off. Dawn reveals she really wants to fuck Torrie, they go to a hotel room, it gets crashed by Al, and then matches are had, that suck. Dawn decides she really loves Al after all, they get married, and then Dawn fucks Al to death. More matches are had based around respect for the dead or… something. No one cared.) Now, don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect any hardcore muff diving or anything like that, but honestly, unless you intend to go that route, why bother with the angle? It’s not like anyone gives a shit about Dawn Marie or Torrie Wilson right now, save for their bodies, so why bother trying to pawn off this gimmick on the lot of us in the first place? (Two things. First, while that sentence sounds shitty, it’s wrapped around a valid point: no one did care about Dawn or Torrie save for their looks, because they were absolutely fucking terrible at anything but looking pretty. They couldn’t act, couldn’t wrestle, and served no purpose save for acting as eye candy. Second, this was Paul Heyman’s weird end-run around the whole soap opera deal, as he didn’t want it in his main event work, but was instructed to do it, so he attached it to two people who were the least likely to be hurt by it, because they served no other function, and it was genius, in a weird way.)

And finally…

It’s going to be impossible for the WWE to not piss this all away on the Raw and Smackdown shows this week. I know that sounds like pessimism, but honestly, the best thing I expect from Vince is only a half hour of HHH this Monday as opposed to the usual hour he always gets. (I honestly have no idea how the following shows went, save that Steiner shows up around this time, and oh my God things get so much worse because of it.) Assuming they can make Kurt look like a believable champ this time around, maybe things will get better, (He had a badass match against Lesnar at Wrestlemania, so I’d say that worked out fine.) but barring that, once again, I leave you with the statement of the moment…

World Wrestling Entertainment needs an enema.

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