Steve Blackman vs. Al Snow vs. Test vs. Funaki vs. Saturn vs. Crash
Hardcore Open Invitational for the Hardcore Title
There isn't much that can be said here that we didn't say in our Wrestlemania preview. The numbers have slimmed down a bit since the last hardcore open, as Tazz has moved on to a feud with the broadcast team, Taka has faded off into nothingness and Hardcore Holly is just.. gone. Blackman's done an almost admirable job as Hardcore champion, bringing his own style into things beautifully and actually gaining quite a bit of respect from the fans for it. We won't be seeing any bumps from the Titan tron here (more of a trash brawl, I'd assume), but things will likely get just as chaotic. There really is no way to preview one of these things. At least we won't be seeing any shamelessly large Surge bins, right? A TNN bin, perhaps, but no Surge. I'm going for Funaki here, because his name rhymes with sake.
Tazz vs. Jerry "The King" Lawler
Leather Strap Match
Easily the match I'm least looking forward to on the card. In my opinion, they should've wrapped this feud up last month with a clean Tazz victory. While it could be argued that he did cleanly put the King away before JR intervened with his glass jar of doom and therefore gained some credibility with the common fan, I lost a little faith in Tazz's spot with the WWF at the same time. If he's ever going to find acceptance as the bad ass he was born to play, he's got to simply pummel Lawler from post to post in this one. It needs to be no contest whatsoever, proving he isn't afraid to stomp a beloved icon's teeth all the way down his throat before ending his suffering with a Tazzmission. The crowd will hate him for it, but isn't that what we're aiming for anyway..? Give Lawler a kick, a punch and maybe a bodyslam in the early goings, and then make it ugly. Fast.
Eddy Guerrero vs. Rikishi
Good build for this, with Chyna used in the role she should've been reserved for in the first place.. a valet that can get physical if the situation warrants. Eddie's been in solid form throughout this big turn, and the glare he shot the crowd when that first "Eddie sucks" chant floated around the arena gave me renewed interest in him. I'd almost forgotten how completely bitchin' of a heel Guerrero could be, and I'm almost giddy as the WWF prepares him for a monster push to the top as a vicious bad guy character. As I've stated many times in the past, Rikishi is far from the worst big man you could pick up. He's surprisingly agile for a man of his size, works well enough with the smaller guys, and seems to be willing to do what it takes to keep his style in the ring fresh and interesting. Unfortunately, the higher ups in the WWF haven't yet mentioned how old his 'back that ass up', dancin fat man gimmick has become. Thought somewhat unsuccessful, his Intercontinental title reign earlier this summer was pretty strong, and he pulled out some gems with Val Venis that highlighted his ability to take flight.. something that's almost sacrilege considering how monstrous he is. Think about it.. you'd never see Andre the Giant near the top of a cage, much less sailing off of it. Granted, just as much credit for that feud goes to Venis, but Rikishi certainly carried his weight as well (no pun intended). To put it simply, I think these two could have a nice match once they've felt each other out and know their limits. This won't be all it could be, but it's bound to be good all the same. As for a victor, I'm taking Guerrero. His run with the title hasn't yet begun, and he needs a couple defenses to solidify his rise to high midcard.
Winner: Eddy Guerrero
Edge & Christian ? vs. The Hardy Boyz w/Lita
Steel Cage Match for the Tag Team Championship
Man, here's a storied rivalry. These two teams have been meeting each other for years now, through exchanged gimmicks, title runs and ladder matches. It's pretty much a no brainer, and about time the Hardys take their second title run. We're bound to see spots that will blow your mind here, and I'm gonna keep holding out for that insane OMEGA Jeff Hardy Shooting Star Press, the first on prominent WWF tv in.. well, ever. It's really just a mathematical
equation here. Hardys + Blondes + gimmick match = ingenuity, crowd heat and a match worthy of the Tag Team Titles.
Winners: The Hardy Boyz
Chris Jericho vs. X-Pac
A nice build for this one, as X-Pac came from out of nowhere during Jericho's belittlement of Steven Regal on Raw. The shot he delivered with the 'chucks was beauty, though he pretty much killed the moment by fucking up the finish of his twirling stick exhibition afterwards. It's nice to see Waltman motivated again, and now that he's been cut from the dead weight of DX I think he may finally be ready to fly. A feud with HHH might be on the horizon, though I think Road Dogg's much more likely to pop his head into the mix this Sunday than the Game. While a clean finish might be asking too much, these two have had classics in the past and I don't think it would hurt anyone to let them rehash one of those old formulas for a good ten minutes before the run-ins flow. X-Pac delivered the pot shot on Raw, so Jericho's walking away with this one. Amazing how quickly Y2J got lost in the shuffle of the main event, isn't it? I was talking to John on AIM the other day, when I mentioned I never thought Benoit would make the World Title scene before Jericho in the WWF. What about you, John? Agree, disagree..?
Winner: Chris Jericho
Kurt Angle vs. Triple H
Special Referee is Commissioner Mick Foley
Simply put, the best feud I've seen in years. The way these two click, the way their glares at one another send shivers down your spine...that's history, telling you this is the stuff upon which legends are built. The internet as a whole has been anticipating this for months on end, with the WWF dangling that carrot in front of our faces all the way through subtle backstage vignettes, personality shifts and coincidental bookings. When it all boiled over in the nights after Summerslam, the response was overwhelming. Everything Kurt Angle does seems to compliment HHH's arsenal, and vice versa. Their styles mesh, their personalities clash and that extra little something to push everything over the edge, in this case one Stephanie McMahon, is positioned directly between them. While Foley's job as special referee might make things more complicated than they should be, it's only a minor glitch in one massive, functional machine. No matter who comes out on top here, you'd best be sure the war has only begun. Here's one of those rare instances where I won't mind a feud running 3 or 4 months, maybe a little more. And for my dollar, Kurt Angle needs the victory to establish himself as a formidable threat.
Winner: Kurt Angle
The Rock vs. Kane vs. Undertaker vs. Chris Benoit
Fatal Fourway Match for the World Wrestling Federation Championship
Not the three men I'd most like to see opposing Benoit in a World Title match, but it'll do. What the WWF is trying to do here is, in effect, raise Chris Benoit's stock based solely on association. I've got no problem with it, though I think Matt Spence's idea of a worked "Benoit breaks Rocky's neck" angle would get things done faster and much more effectively (speaking of which, our little triad just isn't as interesting without the resident lush around.. anybody seen him lately??). To say the Crippler will carry this match would discredit the combined abilities of the other three involved, so I won't speak that exact phrase.. though I will be looking to see him involved with a lot of the match. With the Taker and Kane in the midst of a rejuvenated feud of their own, it would be easy to narrow the call down to either Benoit or Rocky here..perhaps a little too easy. Don't think that same feud wouldn't be more than a little bit enhanced with the addition of a World Title to the picture, and with the Undertaker's clean victory over Rocky this past Monday night, it's rather obvious he's being primped for another reign as the WWF champion. I don't see it taking place Sunday night, though I do have a feeling the title will be changing hands. I'm going out on a limb with this one, but I see the Oratory's messiah, Chris Benoit, sneaking off into the night with the gold around his waist. He may end up losing it only one night later, but that's the kind of intrigue the WWF would simply devour, as they head into their first night on a new network. Benoit nabs it through underhanded means.
Winner: Chris Benoit
Just about something for everyone here, aside from the T&A crowd..an oversight that I'm sure will be corrected by the time this gets posted. I mentioned it in the introduction, but I think I really need to drive home how impressed I am with the WWF's run of PPVs in the year 2000. Sure, they've had one or two that weren't quite what they could've been (Wrestlemania most notably), but can you honestly remember a year that's seen so many great matches running back to back, month after month, PPV after PPV? Because I can't. Austin or no, this is a great card and the short list of matches means they'll be handing out plenty of time to the workers, upon which to build a strong match.
until next time, i remain