Jonesboro Convocation Center – Jonesboro, Arkansas, TV Rating: 4.4
The Good: Chris Jericho’s non-title match against Edge only goes four minutes. And our beleaguered Undisputed Champion can only get the win when he smashes the challenger with the title belt, it’s a decent four minutes and does more to put Jericho over as a champion than any number of times in the recent past that he’s jobbed out to a proper main event star”. The short video clip of Mr Perfect cheating at Chess to beat a national champion is a wonderful throwback. Way better than the McMahon-Helmsley domination of the show like it’s 1999.
The Bad: The Undertaker is a bonafide legend, but long in-ring promos were never his strong point. But it’s not even that that ruins his opening show speech. He comes out, talks a lot of trash about The Rock not respecting him and then Ric Flair wanders out and makes a match for Taker against Steve Austin… Sure? Least it was a break from the McMahon-Helmsley stuff.
Goldust and Rikishi don’t sound great, to begin with, and then it goes all of 90 seconds before Rob Van Dam comes in for the DQ. As incongruous as it might sound when Dustin Rhodes was still wrestling nearly 20 years on from this, Rob Van Dam should be getting a proper push, not feuding with a relic that returned at the Rumble for a nostalgia pop.
It’s not a knock on the two legends involved as such but the Austin/Taker match is awful. The two are in desperate need of something new to do and a five-minute match to “main event” the first hour of Raw isn’t that. Even more so when Jericho runs in for the DQ finish. Also, Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson have a bikini “match” and it’s exactly what you would expect all around…
The Indifferent: Some might be cruel and put the whole “Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley and Triple H renew their vows” stuff that DOMINATES the entire show in the “bad” section. And it’s far from great I have to say. But… at the very least it’s a fun and somewhat creative way to work around the problem that our supposed biggest face in the company is married to Stephanie, who everyone hates. We could of course have just kept Stephanie off TV until, say, after WrestleMania but we can’t be having that can we? It goes far too long, becomes overkill when we learn the “swerve” that Stephanie is not pregnant before Triple H does (on-screen at least) and does absolutely nothing to sell No Way Out which is coming up in six days. But out of that context, it’s a bit of fun nonsense…
Stone Cold Steve Austin (who is scared because we’re in a dry county) takes five minutes to run through pretty much nothing beyond a list of things so the fans can chant “what” after him.
At least Kurt Angle only takes 55 seconds to defeat The Godfather. And as ridiculous as it might seem to put it down in print, it’s clear that the “legit” escort service owner Godfather is a complete failure when set against his “pimp” character from years before.
Tazz against Booker T isn’t very good but at least it has a point as two men who will be on opposite sides of the Tag Team Title match at No Way Out on Sunday clash. Naturally, Spike Dudley and Test get involved too. It’s basic wrestling booking 101 but there’s nothing wrong with that. Rob Van Dam and Christian get six minutes plus and have a decent TV match, but nothing more.
Overall: Your opinion on this show cannot help but revolve around how much you like or dislike the McMahon-Helmsley stuff. For me, it’s mildly entertaining and an easy enough watch but this is tempered by the fact that we know that it’s leading to the neutering of Chris Jericho and that it means Steph will be polluting our screens to WrestleMania. There’s also the fact that this is a show that does very little to whet the appetite for No Way Out beyond a bit of interaction between Austin and Jericho and the nWo clips that are dotted about on the show. This is one of those shows that will mildly entertain you if you happen upon it but there’s not enough to make it a “recommended watch” in its own right.