Dean Malenko vs. Scotty Too Hotty
Light Heavyweight Title Match
The fans don't accept the LHW division, and I sense it's on the verge of being canned once more.. perhaps that's got something to do with a lack of effort. Seriously, what storylines have we seen since this division's revamp? Add up no character development (an area where Dean really... really needs some help) outside of Scotty's worm, a roster of about 3, a belt that changes hands every tv taping and you've got a perfect recipe for a dead crowd. While Scotty tried to keep up, I'd expect Dean to keep breaking out more mind-blowing reversals, near falls and nice combos... while the crowd looks for the soda vendor. I hope I'm wrong, but I won't kid myself by believing it isn't true. Maybe I should just sit back and enjoy this while it lasts..
Winner: Dean Malenko
Acolytes vs. Bull Buchanan & Big Bossman
Egh... it's a good thing the Bossman made this card. I was getting worried. Whatever incriminating evidence the Bossman's got against Vince, I hope we never see it.. because it's gotta be pretty bad to justify such a waste of a push. The same goes for the Acolytes, though their gimmick isn't nearly as tired. Maybe this one will be trimmed from the card in favor of a taped Toryumon match or something, because that's the only way we'll see something nice in this slot. Nah, scratch that. When he doesn't screw it up, Faarooq's finisher is somewhat vicious looking. If they hope to maintain their role as the WWF's bad-asses, they can't afford to sell anything this whole match.
Winners: The Acolytes
Crash Holly vs. Hardcore Holly vs. Saturn vs. Tazz vs. Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy
Hardcore Title Match
The WWF seems to have realized the spottiness that's becoming a constant with the Hardys, and have thus been putting them into big free for alls so they'll have somewhere else to point the cameras while the next big spot is set up. It's a shame these two haven't been allowed to round out their skills in the fast paced 'crash tv' of late 90's, early 2000 WWF.. but I'm not about to write them off just yet. They're young still, and an extended feud with any of the Radicals or the more solid workers in the WWF could still bring about that big revelation. Until then, I guess big table dives and ladder spots are the standard.. which is fine and dandy, considering the division in which they're now competing. Tazz, Saturn and the Hollys round it all out here, though I'm sure we'll see more workers involved before it's all said and done. Here's a couple guesses: somebody will blade, the title will change hands more than once, and Jeff Hardy will hit that beautiful Senton Bomb that I'll never get sick of. There's really no point to even attempt a call with this one, so I'll get random on yo ass and go with...
Dudley Boyz vs. Test & Albert w/Trish Stratus
Say, what happened to the Dudleys' push? Was it just 2 short months ago that these guys were on a rocket headed right for the top, powerbombing anything and everything through a table? Buh Buh Ray and D'Von are living proof of how quickly a push can die any more. Test and Albert will, in the end, be nothing more than also-rans in the scheme of things, but the Dudleys have something special.. they're keepers. If the WWF doesn't realize that and avoid their burial here, they've got problems. And as far as I'm concerned, the WWF has problems.
Eddy Guerrero vs. Essa Rios
European Title Match
If there's one thing I'm glad I'll be missing with this PPV, it's Jerry Lawler's excruciating "Latino HEEAT!" catcalls. Sombody put a stop to him before the fans revolt. The action here has potential to steal the show, but I'm sure the cameras will be more focused on what's going on with Lita and Chyna outside the ring. Five bucks says this ending is overbooked, which is par for the course. There's no way in hell we'll see Rios as the European Champion, which actually increases his chances. I'm sticking with Eddy though, after the guy who does that f'ing Taco Bell dog's voice does the run-in and completes Eddy's fall to the depths of gimmick hell. But damn, Lita is a fine lady..
Winner: Eddy Guerrero
Edge & Christian vs. X-Pac & Road Dogg w/Tori
Tag Team Title Match
They've done a decent enough job of building this one, but the 'DX as quasi-heels' thing has gotten more than a bit stale. It's sad that an otherwise watchable match is judged by such means, especially since X-Pac and the blondes have more than enough talent to carry the worthless Road Dogg here... but so it goes. If the belts go back to DX, they may as well retire them. It's already become painfully obvious that the once extremely promising tag division is destined to be underpushed, but the eventual descent will be slowed by a good champion team. I like the pseudo shoot manner in which Edge and Christian conducted their announcing on Raw, and that's pretty much all keeping this angle's head above water. We'll see a cloudy finish that leaves the belts on these two until the big rematch next month.
Winners: Edge and Christian
Kurt Angle vs. The Big Show
Even Angle's tremendous heel work can't save this one. The whole impotence idea was really pretty funny the first time around. It was cute the second time. If it dies a quiet death following this PPV, I'll be happy. Then again, Vince isn't really one to let a joke die (see: Latino Heat, the Repo Man, the Mountie, etc..) so we could be looking at Kurt Angle's new gimmick. Despite the fact that he's progressing into a top worker, Angle's in no position to be carrying anyone.. much less the wide load that is the Big Show. If this is kept short and concise, we'll all be much better off.. and Angle could really use a win.
Winner: Kurt Angle
Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho
Intercontinental Title Match
Look for Jericho to make his ascension to main eventer permanent tonight, while filling his previous role with a more than worthy replacement. A'la Bret Hart at Wrestlemania X, I fully expect Y2J to put Benoit over strong before making a strong presence in the finish of the main event.. possibly even turning heel in the process (though I wouldn't put money on that). If the big mama jama feels like working Sunday, we're in for a barn burner.. if not, I'll trust Benoit can find a way to correct the oversight. Perhaps both will tear out moves that have been collecting dust far too long in the closet.. maybe the liontamer can come out of retirement, if just for one night. I'm sick of the pale imitation they're calling the 'Walls of Jericho'. If they're looking to elevate the men here, they should put Benoit over clean.. but we're likely to see a screwjob ending at the hands of the Crippler's new buddy, HHH.
Winner: Chris Benoit
Triple H vs. The Rock
WWF Heavyweight Title Match
So here we are. Again. Rocky/Helmsley MCMXLVII. It's amazing how many times these two have met, considering the fact they've each been in the federation less than 5 years. For once, Austin's presence won't be able to boost the workrate of this one and we'll be looking to HHH if we want to see anything worthwhile here. Boy, as if that sentence isn't enough to make one shudder. It's been an oft-overlooked fact that Vince is actually doing a good job of making this belt respectable again. It's been in HHH's hands for nearly 6 months, and every PPV along the way has been challenged by a worthy competitor. I've been fooled more often than not by the magical hype Vince weaves, and it's something that's gone unmentioned across the net. With that said, Rocky's taking off for a week to film his 'Mummy 2' footage (surely Oscar material), and I'm expecting the belt to stay around HHH's waist.. for now. Jericho's presence, as I've said, is more than likely and he may end up costing the Rock his shot. I'll go with the champ.
Just as in the past, this looks relatively nice on paper. Perhaps we'll see a miracle and the execution will follow through on it, hurm? I suppose I can dream.. I don't figure Austin's inclusion to factor into the match itself until the very finish (in which he'll deliver the necessary stunner.. though I won't begin to speculate on whom.), aside from maybe some guest commentary and several close-ups throughout the course of the main event. I find it pretty interesting how quickly the Radicals have amassed their collection of gold, as well. Tell me, did you ever believe three of the four would be holding WWF titles within 2 months of their arrival, with the fourth in strong competition for his own? Just thought I'd comment on it.
until next time, i remain