First Union Center – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – TV Rating – 5.7
Tonight is the night. After one whole week of tease, The Rock is here tonight. But whose side is he on? We’ll probably have to wait until the end of the show to find out. After a re-cap of Vince wanting to bring Rock back to the WWE and Steph/Shane wanting to lure him to WCW we open up with Tazz, Tommy Dreamer and Paul Heyman making their way to the ring.
Tazz is on the mic and asks Tommy Dreamer to escort Michael Cole out of the building as Stephanie has decreed that Heyman will be back on commentator duties. As Cole leaves, Tazz tells the world that the Rock is coming back tonight, but he guarantees that it’s to WCW. Before he can get much further Chris Jericho interrupts and asks him to shut the hell up. He says that Tazz may be the host of Tough Enough but he’s more suited to being the star of another MTV show, Jackass.
Chris Jericho Vs Tazz
Tazz tries the Tazzmission, Jericho escapes, Lionsault. Pin and win for Jericho. In about 40 seconds.
Vince has decorated his office for the return of the Rock and William Regal walks in with various pies. Vince has to tell William that Rock likes a different sort of pie. And anyway, a piece of the Blueberry pie is missing. Turns out Tajiri stole it. Regal tells him to bugger off (never not funny) and to go and win the Hardcore Title. Vince says that Blueberry Pie and Hardcore titles don’t go well together. Regal says that his mother used to say the exact same thing over a pint of Guinness.
Rob Van Dam Vs Tajiri – Hardcore Title
Well this should at least be good. The two trade missed kicks before RVD cuts off for the finger point and at which point Tajiri kicks his opponent square in the mush. There’s the usual flips, the usual stunts, the usual hardware we’ve seen a hundred times before in WWE Hardcore matches on TV but as there are two good wrestlers in there it has a freshness that drags you in. RVD wins after a Five Star Frog Splash on Tajiri as a steel chair was draped over the prone challenger.
Shane and Stephanie have also decked out their dressing room to welcome the Rock. Austin has brought The Rock a cooler, Debra has brought her cookies. At this point Nick Patrick comes in and says that Rock is five minutes away from the arena. I don’t think I’m overreaching when I say I bet he isn’t. Booker attempts to eat a cookie and nearly dies.
Vince goes to meet The Rock but he runs into the Big Show who has some ideas about his future and his team with Billy Gunn. He pitches some tag team names (Show Gunns, The Big Gunns, Show Bills) but Vince doesn’t care and says they should call themselves “Double Trouble Crap on a Stick” and Show likes it. Or at least the Double Trouble bit.
After a recap of Angle winning the WCW title on Smackdown and a quick interview with him we see all three McMahon’s awaiting The Rock. The limo pulls up…it’s Chris Kanyon.
Hurricane Helms & Torrie Wilson Vs Matt Hardy & Lita
Well this isn’t going to be very good if Torrie is involved and lo and behold she starts things off. She does help Helms with a Double Suplex before Matt gets involved and it becomes clothesline city. Lita ‘rana and a Twist of fate get a two on Helms as Torrie makes the save. Another Twist seems to settle it but Torrie hits a low blow and a small package from Helms get the pin on Hardy. It is what it is, I guess.
Backstage, Austin fires up Booker who is feeling a little unwell. He thinks it might be butterflies but Austin says it must be the cookies.
Elsewhere, Test isn’t in a good mood. Even though he is spending the night at WWE New York. He didn’t like being branded a traitor a few weeks ago but nevertheless he is still loyal to the WWE, despite being a friend of Shane’s.
Kurt Angle Vs Booker T – WCW World Title
Again we’re rushing through storylines as Kurt only won the title last week. As this is No DQ, Angle takes the initiative and attacks Booker as he makes his way down to the ring. The Alliance run in but they are countered by Team WWE. We don’t officially start until after an ad break and the two are going at it. Shane interferes to get Booker the upper hand and we continue from there. It’s a good back and forth but there’s always the feeling that we are awaiting more shenanigans. And there is. Austin runs out and although Booker hits the Axe kick there’s no referee to count. Robinson runs down for the two count but he goes down too. Stunner to Angle and Hebner slowly counts the three for Booker to once again become WCW Champion.
As Austin runs off, and drives away from the arena we come back from a break to see that Angle has run into Debra in the back. He says he will do something Austin doesn’t have the guts for and tell Debra the truth. Her cookies suck!
Kanyon & Lance Storm Vs Edge & Christian
Another in a series of “this could be very good but will have to settle for being decent TV ones instead” matches between the WWE and the Alliance. Storm gets on the mic and says he loves a party as much as anyone but that the constant shenanigans from E&C has to stop. Naturally they cheap shot and we’re on. Christian does the whole “face in peril” routine for a couple of minutes before the hot tag to Edge. It turns into four-men chaos and in amongst that Kanyon hits a Flatliner on Edge onto one of the belts and Storm picks up the win. Formulaic TV with no real zip. Filler.
Booker is celebrating with the Alliance after his win when Angle runs into their locker room and jumps Booker.
Regal is happy to inform Vince that The Rock is on his way. He confirms the licence plate number and Vince is happy because it corresponds with the car he sent for the People’s Champ.
X-Pac Vs Billy Kidman – Light Heavyweight/Cruiserweight Title
Yes, title for title. Winner takes all. We know Vince doesn’t care about the divisions but here is a “unification” match thrown out on TV with no warning or hype. Again, why not at least spread this out for a couple of weeks so it, you know, means something? As you’d expect this is decent stuff that packs what they can into the four minutes they are allotted. Dives, chops, splashes and a nice finish as X-Pac counters Kidman on the top rope into an X-Factor for the 1-2-3 and the Unification of the titles.
Shock horror, with half an hour to go, it’s NOT the Rock in the limo again. This time it is The Fink. At least they try to explain this but saying that Fink was supposed to pick up the Rock but got lost/couldn’t follow the directions.
After a look at the Undertaker (inadvertently) knocking out his wife Sara with a Chair Shot last week the Dudley’s tell us they asked for the upcoming match because Taker is vulnerable. And that Sara is going through a table tonight. They add she’s not safe at home, or in the locker room either.
We cut to outside the arena and there is a pretty cool shot of the Rocky statue outside the arena…with the WWE’s Rock looking up at it.
Kane & The Undertaker Vs The Dudley’s – Tables Match
I mean they try and sow some doubt in your mind when Paul Heyman points out that specifically only one member of a team needs to go through a table. So maybe Kane might take a loss. Because there’s no way that anybody is scripted to insult Sara and then will win the match against Taker is there? To be frank, this is a terrible match, only there to fill a bit of time before The Rock comes out. Nick Patrick is in his “help WCW guys” mode tonight when he pushes a table out of the way, DDP runs in with a low blow, The Dudley’s look to put Sara through a table but she’s strong enough to hold them off until Taker recovers. Bubba is choke-slammed through a table for the win.
And so it’s time for what we’ve been largely killing, erm, time for tonight. All three McMahon’s are in the ring as The Rock makes his triumphant return. Shane waffles on about the times Vince has screwed The Rock, Vince admits mistakes but says he isn’t apologising. And if screwing Rock was good for business he’d do it again. But The Rock should listen to the people. Vince and Shane continue to bore me to sleep until Vince tells Rock to give the people what they want. Rock responds by giving Vince a Rock Bottom. Shane celebrates but as he goes to shake the Rock’s hand he gets hit with a Rock Bottom too. Rock grabs the mic and finally, The Rock has come back….to the WWE! Shane gets an elbow to finish things off. It was a fun segment, I guess.
It wasn’t a very good show, if I’m being honest. Almost solely built around the (rushed) return of The Rock and whilst that offers up some fun it also gives us a ten minute segment where the Rock doesn’t speak for nine of it. The matches on the whole are underwhelming beyond the Angle/Booker match (again, a rushed storyline) although the two other title matches tonight are decent TV bouts. The McMahon family feud is getting more boring and the novelty of seeing WWE vs WCW/ECW bouts just for the sake of it is wearing a bit thin too now.
The Rock’s return did the business though. The 5.7 rating for this show hasn’t, to the best of my knowledge, been beaten since.