Gund Arena – Cleveland, Ohio – TV Rating: 4.0
The Good: Slim pickings again, but at least all the nonsense between Flair and Vince on Raw was actually for a purpose after all. As Flair ceded total power for a week to Vince it allows Vince to not only make Flair’s match with The Undertaker at Mania a No DQ Match he is also within his rights to demand that Ric leaves the building and takes the night off. Which makes sense later on… but I’d completely forgotten that David Flair ever wrestled a match on WWE TV. And of course, his “match” with The Undertaker is nothing and only a reason for Ric Flair to show that he hadn’t left the building and he can save his son from another beating. But I did enjoy the fact that when Vince told him about the match, David politely declined as if it was a stupid idea and that he’d no intention of getting himself beat up. It may not suit the macho posturing of wrestling, but it brought a little reality into things.
Hulk Hogan and The Rock meet in the ring for an, erm, in-ring promo. It’s good stuff and more of this back and forth (with selected physical altercations) would have been infinitely preferable to the nWo trying to literally kill Rock.
The Bad: The European Title is so important that it’s a few days before the show that we get official confirmation that DDP will defend it there against Christian.
The match itself is your usual “ok” TV stuff but after we’ve seen Booker T & Test go up against Edge & Tajiri, the dastardly Test holds up Edge and forces him to watch Booker’s Spinerooni. That’ll teach him to steal shampoo endorsements, won’t it?
The Indifferent: What’s that? A match between Kurt Angle and Rob Van Dam who are both booked for WrestleMania but not against each other… Speak up in the back… What, it will all be a set-up for their actual Mania opponents William Regal and Kane to get involved as we go all mega-hype mode for Sunday? Well, I never. The match itself is fine, if underwhelming…
- As the four teams are clashing at Mania over the Tag Team Titles it makes sense in the wrestling world to have Billy, Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray and Bradshaw have a fatal fourway match here to try and build some hype for it. The problem is that it’s a slow, pedestrian match which, if anything, lessens the appeal of the four teams going at it on Sunday,
- Al Snow against The Big Show for the Hardcore title is the usual now-passé stuff with added run in’s from Goldust and Maven (the latter of whom wins the title) all so we can lay the groundwork for what would become multiple title changes throughout the night at WrestleMania.
- The Steve Austin/Scott Hall in-ring confrontation goes along the lines of things we’ve seen a hundred times or more before. It’s not terrible, it’s not great.
- They finally allow Jericho to have a little bit of time in the spotlight (obviously Stephanie is still here) and he ends the show nailing Triple H and applying the Walls of Jericho on a the ringside table. But it’s all a little too late. The story they decide to tell with one week to go that Jericho was responsible for the previous Quad injury and would target it again would have been much better played out over a number of weeks. But then I guess we wouldn’t have needed as much Stephanie would we?
Overall: Well it’s better than the Raw that preceded it anyway. It’s all about tying up loose ends heading into Mania and giving the matches that they’ve actually spent time building upon last push. It can’t undo the abysmally truncated build-up we’ve had (that ignored a lot of the matches until the last few weeks) and it can’t hide the missteps that have taken place up to this point. But taken as a Pre-WWE PPV show which serves no real purpose, in its own context it doesn’t do a bad job. Also, David Flair is here.