We've got a 10-match lineup before us, with one or two promising clashes on the way, as well as the norm of several apparantly unsalvagable wrecks-to-be. And hey.. McMahon has booked himself into the main event yet again! Bischoff was never this bad.
Easily the most promising match on the card features (surprise, surprise) the least glamorous belt in the federation, the European championship. D'Lo Brown (reason enough to become excited, even if his opponent is Viscera), Val Venis (who continues to improve beyond anyone's expectations) and the British Bulldog (the seasoned veteran who, despite losing a step or two, remains a strong worker) will tangle for the honor of wearing this tarnished gold, formerly held by such legends as Shane McMahon and Mideon. X-Pac and Kane will have another go at the potential blockbuster their feud should have produced by now, while Kurt Angle will try to give us any reason whatsoever as to why Steve Blackman is worth our time.
Meanwhile, The Big Boss Man gets the title shot dozens have been demanding for years now. Or, perhaps I'm exaggerating.. you decide. Chris Jericho will put Chyna on his shoulders and set his sights once more on a first run with WWF gold, and we'll see if Mankind is up to the superhuman effort necessary to carry an opposing team and his partner to a watchable match later in the card. For the T&A fans, there's the stimulating prospect of not one, not two, but three pairs of bras and panties in the four corners evening gown match. Just when you thought the WWF was about to clean up its act, too. What the hell, let's jump in;
Kurt Angle v. Steve Blackman
For those who skip the Thursday programs, this one came about because of a misunderstanding in a tag match. Good to see the booking changes haven't affected the WWF's sense of originality, because that one came completely out of the blue (If you can't note the sarcasm there, check your head). Angle has been mildly impressive since his debut at last month's big show, and behind his unmistakable energy and charisma, Blackman can actually work a nice match from time to time. Aside from the inevitable stalling (which always seems to be the case with new heels), lack of crowd heat and probable overbooking, this could develop into an above average clash. A clash that sees Blackman jobbing yet again, while Angle's star gets a few more moments to shine.
Winner: Kurt Angle
X-Pac v. Kane
In a storyline that's lingered longer than one of those clinging dumps that just won't shake off, X-Pac and Kane are butting heads for only the second time (well, third if you count the little elmination match 2 months ago). Each man threatened to turn heel on the other, with the former 123 Kid finally seeing the transition along with the rebirth of DX. Throwing Tori into this mix hasn't upped her ante any, as was planned, and has actually turned the audience's attention away from the feud entirely. With that said, this will likely be the blowoff to the longest ongoing feud in Titan with each man heading into a feud more stable or team based. If both are on, I see nothing stopping this from going ***1/2 at the very least, but therein lies the real trick. X-Pac seems to always be up for a nice carry-job, selling like it was going out of style on a near-regular basis, while Kane is another matter entirely. He has the goods, but tends to be indecisive and irregular as to wheeling them out. He'll tear the house down on a Monday, only to put the world to sleep on a Tuesday and Wednesday. There are slight rumblings that these two might go into the cell to settle it all, but given that the match might be worthwhile, I'm doubting that possibility. Kane finally secures the 'v' in this one, avenging his woman and chasing off the other members of DX.
Tag Team Battle Royal
This one's got Edge and Christian, the Dudleys, The Headbangers, the MSP, the Hardys, the Acolytes and Too Cool in multiple attempts to rock different species of foreign farm beasts. I'd have to say the good far outweighs the bad here and though I'd rather see the Hollys than the Acolytes, effectively nixing the 'Super Heavyweights match' further on the card, things maintain a good chance of staying entertaining. I'm guessing this will be a World War 3-style rumble, with everybody thrown into the ring at once, which will certainly put the pressure on the production crew to keep up with the action and spots between the ropes. In order to avoid the chaos that we saw on Nitro 2 weeks back, with the Hall/Nash/Benoit/Hart/Sid/Goldberg rumble, things need to be much better organized, with workers stalling just long enough to draw attention to themselves before hitting a high spot. The problem with a rumble is that no matter how well organized, you'll never be able to catch everything and the action starts to blend together before too long. In the end, it's narrowed down to the Acolytes, Too Cool, and the Hardys.. and I'll take the Acolytes in more of the ever-popular WWF booking style.
Winners: The Acolytes
Rikishi & Viscera v. The Hollys
"Super Heavyweight Match"
Hmph. The Hollys have been carrying on a feud with just about every superstar on television of late, which means that no matter who the worker, a match on the PPV would make sense. That said, we're treated to Viscera on a PPV (a mere week after his stellar world title match), teaming with the chunk that can funk, Rikishi Fatu. If not for the constant jobbing of the Hollys in the past few weeks, this one would be a credible match between the two behemoths of lard and the two cocky bastards. As is, I see no reason why an audience would buy the Hollys' chances, which is precisely why they'll win. Again, the WWF's nonsense booking rears its ugly head.
Winners: The Hollys
Ms. Kitty v. Jacqueline v. BB v. Ivory
Four Corners Evening Gown Match for the Women's Title
Let's take a gander.. 3 women I'd rather not see in their.. evening wear.. and one that I would. Care to guess which will remain adorned? In a division that was built upon the outrageously overplasticized body of one Rena "Sable" Mero and the sex that she secreted, this is a real return to form. All the pubescent boys will inch toward their sets while this one's airing on their tv, ever watchful for the appearance of a parent, who might not approve. That's the only audience I can see enjoying this, so it'll likely be the runaway hit of the PPV. I'll be the first to admit I don't care for women's wrestling.. at all (then again, I've never seen Japanese women's programs, which I'm told are stupendous). Maybe the memories from GLOW are still around for me. Either way, I'll be glad I didn't blow $30 on this when there's good porn down the street for less than 1/6th the price.
Winner: Ms. Kitty (not that I give a rat's ass..)
Val Venis v. D'Lo Brown v. The British Bulldog
European Championship Match
I've gone over this one pretty well in the intro, so I'll take the opportunity to mention the Bulldog's match with Christian on Smackdown, which was pretty much ideal. A high-flying, quick, slightly green youngster takes on the slower, powerful, mat-oriented veteran. It's the kind of matchup you'll never get tired of, and there's a reason. During their first few years in the big time, many future stars spend their time hitting spot after spot in an attempt to get recognition.. with little or no substance in between. Such, to a lesser extent, is the case with Christian. He's a sound worker, but still has a ways to go before he's main event material. In matches with a veteran, rookies can quickly learn both the importance of building a match and working in psychology as well as how the 'f' to do so. Hey, along the way there's a nice match or two. Despite a poorly booked ending, last Thursday's match was both a lesson as well as a damn fine clash. Too bad most of the audience took off for a beer. Put Val Venis in the position that Christian was in Thursday, and you've got this match. At this stage in his career, the 'porn king' needs to work on putting the whole game together, and nobody knows that better than the Bulldog. D'Lo, too, can still learn a thing or two. All in all, this one will be a lesson. And we all know that it takes quite a while before the student surpasses the teacher.
Winner: The British Bulldog
The Rock and Mankind v. The New Age Outlaws
Tag Team Championship Match
I've made my opinion well known on the state of the tag team division in the WWF today.. it's got more promise than anywhere else in the Big 3. You've got future headliners in the Hardys, Too Cool, the Hollys, Edge and Christian, Taka and Funaki, the Dudleys.. and the belts are around a glorified teamup of men who couldn't get over long as singles. OK, let me rephrase that. I don't like him, but the Road Dogg is over.. Mr. Ass couldn't get over if he were thrown. Either way, they shouldn't be wearing the belts. Nor should they be defending against the Rock and Mankind. The audience will get a hoot out of this one, especially as both teams make their way down the entryway, spewing catches all the way. But anybody looking for pure technical masterpieces will find a world of disappointment the likes of which have not yet been seen. This is trash, pure and simple, a way to keep Mankind and the Rock over without inserting them into the world title picture (and why not? Will neither job to Wight?). Since he's not anywhere else on the card, I'm waiting patiently for Al Snow's run-in, costing the Rock and Sock duo the belts.
Winners: The New Age Outlaws
Chris Jericho v. Chyna
Intercontinental Championship Match
Could be a nice one, and I fully expect Jericho to hit all the stops on his way to Federation gold. If you follow John's "punked on Raw, win on the PPV" formula, Jericho takes this one all the way.. which is what I've been calling for since before the Survivor Series clash a month back. The victory may be tainted by Chyna's "broken finger", but no matter how you slice it, Jericho's walking out with the title.
Winner: Chris Jericho
The Big Boss Man v. the Big Show, Paul Wight
WWF Championship Match
Remember when this title used to mean something? Remember how big a deal it was when Bruno Sammartino held this title (probably not.. let's flash it forward..), how great an honor it was to see Bret Hart hold the belt high, what a wonderful feeling it was when Shawn Michaels realized his boyhood dream? Toss all that in the garbage.. nothing can compare to the awe we're sure to feel in this one. How the Bossman went from jobbing in the "kennel in a cell" catastrophe to a world title shot is beyond me. I'd find a counter boy at McDonald's a more credible challenge to the belt. With that said, barring a McDonald's burger-flippin' run-in, I'll skip WWF programming for a full month if the Bossman takes the title here. It's bad enough to have it on a talentless big guy who isn't over, but it's something else entirely to put it on the Bossman. Even giving him a shot is sacrelige. I'm sure he'll come to the ring with some sort of hokey 'revelation' meant to blow all this "you're illigitimate, your father's dead, i dragged his body through the cemetary, your bird is gay, and i cooked your little brother into a spicy cajun dish" crap out of the water, but what's left of the crowd could give half a damn. It's a matter of time until the Rumble, where the Show's not so spectacular reign will finally come to an end.
Winner: Paul Wight
HHH v. Vince McMahon
No Holds Barred.. if Vince wins, HHH annuls his marriage. if HHH wins, he gets a title shot
Boy, what a wonderful stipulation. Tell you what kids, your father and I are planning to divorce, but if little Timmy here can kick the SHIT out of his brother, Stan, we'll go back on our word and stay together! BUT if Stan brings home the bacon... little Timmy's out of our wills! Divorce can be fun! Wheeee! Iiiiii don't give as much a dump about this one as I do about the Viscera world title shot on the last Raw, and you know how important that was to me. I'm sure DX will find their way to ringside.. maybe a McMahon or two will pop out his chubby little head. And Vince will find a way to win it for his little girl's purity.
Winner: Vince McMahon
On second thought, what a god-awful PPV this should turn out to be. I'm glad I'm not blowing anything on it. Alcohol is expensive these days, and rent is sometimes a priority too. For a cheaper version of this PPV, head out to the trusty pickup truck and load your mule "Helen" into the bed. Affix a harness to the rear bumper, strap in, and yell to your buddy at the wheel to head for the highway. That way, you can drag yourself along at speeds breaking 60 miles an hour, while Helen kicks you multiple times in places ranging from the head to the chest to the groin.
Ahh, hell. I can't do comedy. This PPV blows.
until then, i remain