Freeman Coliseum – San Antonio, Texas, TV Rating: 3.4
The Good: The opening promo where Ric Flair finally accepts the Undertaker’s challenge is as effective as you’d expect. I’m not quite sure there was any need for Taker to then come out and say he wasn’t sure if he wanted the match now only to accept it later in the show but there you go. You can’t have everything. The main event with “The Bad Guy” Scott Hall Vs. The Rock is good for what it was.
The Bad: A broken record I know. But this is a six-match show with eighteen minutes of in-ring action. So an average of three minutes per match. There’s yet more of Stephanie McMahon treating Chris Jericho like an unwanted step-child. There’s also Triple H taking Stephanie’s suggestion that she wants 50/50 of everything literally by returning her Corvette… except that it’s been sawed in half. 50/50… get it? Who’s The Bad Guy then?
Chris Jericho Vs Kane in of itself is not awful. But two weeks from Mania, Jericho needs help from Kurt Angle to win and post-match Triple H runs in to… chase off Jericho so he can get at Stephanie. Say what?
Well at least Stacy Keibler against Lita only goes 40 seconds and Lita wins in rapid order. Post-match Jazz interferes to presumably set up Lita being involved in the women’s title match at Mania. Way to show how important that match/title is.
The Indifferent: At least #1 contender to the Intercontinental Title – Rob Van Dam is challenging for Goldust’s Hardcore title for a reason. Ok, so that reason is purely so guest commentator and, oh look, Intercontinental Champion William Regal can interfere and cost him the match to further set up their Mania clash but I never claimed it was an exciting reason.
Tajiri against Booker T is your standard sub-three minute TV clash. At least we get a finish before Edge runs in and goes toe-to-toe with Booker.
The Rock’s return is fine. But the “you made one mistake, you didn’t finish me off” routine isn’t his finest hour and Rock looks in remarkably good shape for someone who was nearly killed a couple of weeks ago. (They make the most pointless attempt to sell this by him having a small piece of bandage around his rib when he wrestles).
The Undertaker’s handicap match against Maven and Al Snow merely exists so Flair can come out and Taker can accept Flair’s challenge (which was really Taker’s challenge to Flair in the first place) from earlier. I’ve no problems with this but it seems daft that this all takes place within one show.
No doubt you will be as shocked as I was when The Bad Guy Scott Hall and The Rock main event goes to a no-contest when the nWo interfere and then Austin makes the save. This however isn’t even setting up Mania per se. It’s just an excuse for Vince to come out and book Rock & Austin against the nWo for Raw…
Overall: Note, the 3.4 TV rating here is the lowest Smackdown has had since September 2001. There may be many reasons for this but it’s clear that no one is buying what the WWE, Triple H & Chris Jericho is selling and there’s also the argument that the nWo stuff has been over complicated by wacky stunts and angles. Also with only two shows left before Mania only those three matches and the IC title match have been officially confirmed. The wrestling on this show is perfunctory at best. The angles aren’t great either. It’s all downhill from Flair’s opening promo…