Madison Square Garden – New York, New York | TV Rating: 4.0
William Regal’s promo after Edge’s match is very, very good. It’s just a pity that Edge’s “comedic” reaction to it lessens the impact of it. Angle hating the “What” chants is very funny, even if his hatred of it ensures that fans will continue to chant it ad nauseam for the next twenty years. Ok, even with their upcoming match at the Royal Rumble to prep, the fact that The Rock makes Chris Jericho tap in this match does the champion no favours at all, but the Rock/Rob Van Dam and Jericho/Test match is allowed ten minutes and is very entertaining indeed for a TV match in this period. Keeping Vince McMahon out of the ring and having JR conduct a sit-down interview with him is a good move. His increasingly deranged tone and delivery are well done and it does succeed in making you more interested in their upcoming match, so well done all around… It’s a shame the Stephanie McMahon Return didn’t have the same delivery.
What’s this? Two matches in one show given a good whack of time? Yes, the main event between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle ends in a no-contest when Kane randomly interferes and the whole thing seems to exist so Triple H can do a post-match run in to whack The Big Show (who ran in post-match too) and then The Undertaker can stare them all down from the top of the ramp. But it is setting up (or at least attempting to) the idea that the upcoming Royal Rumble is a match that has a number of potential winners.
Technically I’m not even sure we could call Booker T vs Rikishi a “match” and it seems to only exist so that Booker can take the Stinkface and vomit on Michael Cole.
I didn’t mind the pre-credits conflab between Stephanie McMahon and Debra. It played into history that we all knew about and planted a few seeds about a possible Austin/HHH feud in the future. And in a way, Stephanie McMahon return opening in-ring promo had some sense to it. But making HHH’s return, the big “Stephanie McMahon return” just a few days after his return is typical McMahon ego (And it’s probably made worse in hindsight knowing where it heads after this).
In a WWE world where most TV matches go less than five minutes there’s nothing inherently bad about Christian & Lance Storm’s unsuccessful crack at new tag team Champions Tazz and Spike Dudley, but neither can you pretend it’s anything like a classic. It’s entertaining enough though.
Similarly whilst the IC title match between Edge and the Big Bossman is hardly Flair/Steamboat it has a curious charm (maybe because it feels like a clash of two separate eras) and isn’t all that bad for a WWE TV match.
Two good TV matches, a sterling Vince McMahon promo and only one bit of awfulness (Booker T’s treatment) make for a very rewarding show. And one that makes great strides in hyping up the Royal Rumble, both in terms of the Rumble itself and the other matches on the card. Well worth viewing, just skip the Stephanie McMahon Return