Van Andel Arena – Grand Rapids, MI | TV Rating – 4.8
Last week’s Raw was one of the worst I’ve seen in my trips out in the TWM Time Machine. This week can’t possibly is any worse, can it? Oh, what’s that? We’re starting off with a Shane McMahon in-ring promo? Great… The promo itself kind of sums up one of the problems of the Invasion. Since, well, The Invasion, nothing has really seemed to matter. There’s not really any great big “promotion vs promotion” war being pushed with any great focus. Hell, we’ve not even seen Vince for weeks. So Shane waffles on about buying WCW to put his father out of business and how Booker T was one of the greatest assets that came with WCW. All of this leads to Shane saying the Rock doesn’t care for WCW and that tonight Rhyno will take the belt off him. He also adds that if Rhyno hadn’t beaten him to it Shane would have beat him himself. Which even as a heel tactic to lure the Rock out of the back makes no storyline sense at all. SHANE COULD BOOK HIMSELF IN A MATCH WITH THE ROCK AT ANY TIME.
Anyway, Rock comes out. He knows the history of the WCW title. Lou Thesz, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, DDP, Booker… the guy from Scream 2. They’ve all held the gold. Rock says he will be the most electrifying WCW Champion, that the world has ever seen. Rock says he wants to give Shane a chance to take the title from him so he makes his way to the ring. Shane scarpers but it’s all a ruse for Rhyno to attack from behind. Rock swats him away anyway but as Shane comes back in and takes a beating Rhyno is able to hit the gore. Maybe that move will earn him the WCW title tonight. (Note, I can’t even type that with a straight face).
Stone Cold is backstage with Debra. Austin has his arm in a sling and wants sympathy from his wife. RVD and Raven wander in and Raven wants Austin’s blessing to take on Van Dam for the Hardcore Title tonight. So already tonight Shane can book WCW title matches but not put himself in one and Austin can give the blessing for Hardcore Title defences. Anyway, Austin tells them they should stick together and the two ECW alumni agree to replace Austin in his match tonight so it will be RVD & Raven against Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho. More reasons why the Invasion doesn’t really matter… speaking of which!
The Undertaker Vs Albert
My mind goes back to WrestleMania XIX at this point… Or is it Forward to WrestleMania XIX? After the Invasion. A better time… Anyway. Not because their match there (also including Big Show and, briefly, Nathan Jones) was much cop. This is your standard big man TV brawl that’s not particularly thrilling or exciting. As Albert is WWE, not WCW, he manages to get a few punches and kicks in on Taker before the Dead Man does his routine. X-Pac attempts to interfere at ringside but is ineffectual beyond the distraction. Taker blocks the Baldo Bomb and hits a chokeslam for the win. Wasn’t even WCW vs WWF. Wasn’t even part of The Invasion. Just a match.
“Earlier today” Michael Cole interviews Hurricane Helms about Superheroes. It’s funny, in a loose sense, to see the WWE plainly knocking people who like superheroes (we’re meant to think Helms is a lunatic geek for believing in them). Not as if Superhero movies ever become the biggest thing in the movie world is it?
Matt Hardy Vs Hurricane Helms – European Title
Gregory/Shane/Hurricane has the early incarnation of his true superhero gimmick here as he now wears a mask and has a cape. Actually, it’s face paint, not a mask. Anyway. The fans seem more interested in chanting Lita’s name than in the match, especially when Helms is on the attack. After two whole minutes, Ivory runs out and smashes Lita on the leg with a tyre iron. Matt goes to help/grab Ivory but Helms is able to sneak up, hit the Final Cut, and get the win. What’s that, another WCW win after interference/distraction? Well, I never.
Backstage Michael Cole is trying to speak to Kurt Angle but Angle is looking for someone. He finds Raven and beats the hell out of him and puts him in the ankle lock. He then tells Raven to give that message to Austin.
After the break we see a doctor attending to Lita’s knee when Raven limps in and he’s also in a lot of pain. At least it’s nice to see that the WWE official (he has a WWE polo shirt on) is willing to look after the WCW guys too. Austin walks in and asks Raven what happened. Shawn Stasiak comes in and says he will take Raven’s place in the tag match. It seems like Austin accepts that though I have the strangest feeling he won’t be in the main event. Austin then yells at Raven and hits him on his injured ankle.
Elsewhere, Hugh Morrus confronts Edge and they trade hilarious insults over their respective names. Christian waltzes in and say everyone used to make fun of Edge’s name when they were kids but Edge is a big boy now. Christian then basically books an IC title match between Morrus and Edge tonight, much to the annoyance of his brother. So for those keeping score, Austin can book (or not) Hardcore Title defences, Christian can book IC title matches but Shane McMahon can’t apparently book himself in a WCW title match instead of Rhyno.
Bradshaw Vs Test
They at least attempt to build this up as a BIG match with a good little video package of how and why Test came to join the Alliance. The match is about what you would expect given that Bradshaw is in it. Test actually gets a good amount of offence in considering he’s a WCW guy but then again he’s actually a WWE guy in real terms so he gets a pass I suppose. But as he’s a WCW guy he can’t win clean. Shane interferes and even though Test accidentally hits him at one point the fact that Bradshaw and Farooq both go after Shane allows Test to hit the Big Boot to Bradshaw for the win.
Backstage Austin is complaining to Debra about tonight’s main event. RVD comes in and says he can do all the work tonight. Austin somewhat sarcastically asks RVD about carrying him tonight. Then he says he’ll get back to him. So it’s safe to say the Shawn Stasiak thing isn’t happening.
After a break we see footage of Kurt Angle backstage. It pulls back to see that Stasiak is watching/spying on him. Life imitating art? Stacy Keibler asks him what he’s doing and Stasiak replies that he is going to embarrass Angle. Good luck with that.
The Rock Vs Rhyno – WCW Title
Although this is likely to be a straightforward defence for The Rock, it does have potential and for once it’s not just a three minute TV squash job for the Alliance Guy. It’s actually a decent, competitive match which sadly nevertheless features Shane McMahon. But it’s back and forth and Rhyno holds his own, although only as long as Shane is being an irritant at ringside. Once the APA run out, seemingly having had enough of all this, and chased Shane out of the building Rhyno is pretty much done. He goes for the Gore, Rock sidesteps it and Rhyno goes flying into the turnbuckles. A Rock Bottom later and the WCW Champ retains.
The dastardly Stasiak and Keibler are backstage. Stasiak has set up the old “bucket” above a door trick to pull on Angle. As luck would have it, it’s not Angle who walks in, but Debra. She gets covered in white slime as our would-be villains sneak out of another door.
Post adverts, Debra is telling Steve all about the shenanigans. Steve tells her she smells like crap. They decide that it must have been Kurt Angle so Stone Cold says he is going to teach him a lesson. That lesson is not to mess with him or his wife.
Edge Vs Hugh Morrus – Intercontinental Title Match
Christian is on commentary so you can probably guess something will go down. The match itself is fairly pedestrian until we get to the bit where Christian hops on the apron and hits Morrus, causing the referee to have no choice but to call for the DQ and award the match to Hugh. Edge is understandably unhappy but Christian points out he’s still the champ. The problem I have is that the WWE never seem to make the right choices. Lance Storm was jobbing in minutes the other week but Morrus gets the benefit of a DQ win here. I know he’s going nowhere and no doubt will be jobbed out himself within a week, but there seems to be no rhyme or reason.
Michael Cole is with Booker T who is saying that Rock stole his WCW title. We then see an interview with The Big Show earlier in the day where he’s put on a wig and is imitating Booker. It’s not funny. They are going to wrestle later.
Elsewhere Stephanie McMahon is talking to Chris Jericho and telling him that Y2J is out, RVD is in. Jericho makes a H-O-E comment and Stephanie says that’s not how you spell it.
Booker T Vs The Big Show
Show comes out wearing his Booker wig, for more hilarity and appears to be about to attempt a spinaroonie until Booker thankfully attacks him. Show gets in some blows, Booker retaliates. Booker T can’t even beat star jobber Show (who was getting punked out by everyone a few months ago) so gets DQ’d after using a steel chair.
Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle Vs Tazz & Rob Van Dam
Yes. You read that right. Tazz replaces Steve Austin in this match. I have no idea why. Well, actually, I do. He’s there to take the loss, isn’t he? I can’t really follow the Tazz storyline arch. It could be interesting but as they keep jobbing him out you do wonder what the point beyond filling some segments on TV really is. Tazz takes a beating early on but does manage to get some offence in. Austin is at ringside so there is a chance that the Alliance duo might win and his distraction allows Tazz to lock the Tazzmission on Angle. But your Olympic hero reverses it, hits the Angle Slam and gets the win. Post-match, Austin attacks Angle with the belt. He then grabs Kurt’s Olympic medals and puts them around his neck.
Well, at least this is a whole lot better than last week’s Raw. You could argue that beyond the Austin/Angle feud slowly rolling along, Christian and Edge teasing more dissension and Hurricane Helms going all superhero nothing REALLY happens. But there’s a lot of fun to be had, a couple of decent, long-ish, matches and after last week’s debacle, that’s all I really needed!