This past April 1st I did
something I haven’t done in years: I purchased a wrestling pay-per-view.
The last PPV I saw was an ECW production; in fact, until now, the last
four PPVs I saw were ECW creations. With an ECW PPV I liked the fact that
I got two solid hours of chair-cracking action, if not wrestling, for the
reasonable price of $19.95. In other words I didn’t have to take out a
second mortgage to buy third-rate entertainment.
When I ordered this year’s version
of the venerable WrestleMania I realized why I don’t order PPVs any longer.
$39.95! I was promised four hours of "non-stop action" by my cable company,
but remember, this is the WWF we’re talking about, and, quite frankly,
my cable company would advertise the same thing about a Senate Finance
Committee Confirmation Hearing if they could get that price per shot.
I also admit I was curious about
the look and feel of WWF pay-per-views these days. I had not seen one since
the Wrestling Forum went down the proverbial poop chute. By the time I
stopped subscribing, WrestleMania had deteriorated to a rather stale joke,
given the rising price and the wrestling action provided for that price.
I used to host a WrestleMania party, but folks had stopped coming to those
a long time before I stopped giving them. The allure had worn off wrestling,
and the likes of Howard Stern and Mike Tyson took its place. No way was
I going to host a get together for one of these. If I thought McMahon wanted
a lot, he was downright economical compared to these gonifs. I’d rather
spend my money watching Bret Hart and Diesel attempt a wrestling match
than watch Howard and Robin giving me half the content for twice the price.
Still, I wasn’t exactly made of money, and as the price of WWF and WCW
wrestling increased and the quality decreased, I made a quiet exit from
the consumer marketplace. It wasn’t as if I was missing anything; the results
were all announced on the next Raw or Nitro. Also, as I moved into the
maze that passes for wrestling history, I found readers were far more interested
in my opinions of the Gotch-Hackenschmidt card than the last Halloween
Havoc, and I can live with that.
But the set-up for this particular
card piqued my interest. I realize it’s probably a form of cabin fever
at the end of winter, but, given everything else going on in my professional
life right now, it just made sense to plunk down the gelt.
Since I am incapable of watching
or doing almost anything without sharing it, I have provided below the
results accompanied by my commentary. In my reviews I use what I call the
"Phantom Index," a letter grade assigned to each match on the basis of
performance, and a "Heat Index," indicating how worked up I felt the crowd
became during the match. The scientific basis for both measures is simply
my opinion and nothing more. Despite what some newsletter editors tell
you about their rating system and those supposed to have invented it, this
is really what it comes down to: Did I like the match or not? As with any
card there were some to like, others to knock, and still others I wish
I had never seen.
Jericho Pins Regal to Keep IC
Title: Great idea for an opener, as the style of these two brings the
crowd right into the ring. Moves and counter moves galore keep the match
going to the fans’ delight.
B+ 110 degrees.
Tazz and the APA (w/Jacqueline)
def. Right to Censor (W/ Steven Richards) as Bradshaw pins the Goodfather:
Disappointing when the pre-match hype is taken in. Frankly, I expected
more and got less ? way less. Tazz has little to do I later found out he
suffered a concussion shortly after the match began) and this isn’t one
of Farooq’s better nights. Aside from a few flashed of brilliance by Val
Venis, Right to Censor is just another boring tag team. Mercifully, Bradshaw
pins the Goodfather to end the silly thing.
C- 55 degrees.
Three Way Dance (Hardcore title),
Kane pins the Big Show: The Hardcore Title is the most useless piece
of metal to go around one’s waist since boxing came up with the "Super
Junior Middle Light Heavyweight Championship" or something like that. Nevertheless
gave people such as Crash Holly a reason to wrestle, Raven a reason to
dye his hair, and the Big Show a further reason to disappoint what’s left
of his fan following. In as Hardcore Match, anything goes . . . anything
except wrestling, that is. Hit that mat and you won’t be there long, for
the referee knows there’s a good chance you’ll use the opportunity to rest.
No, a Hardcore Match is all action, both in the ring and outside the ring.
Such a match gives us fans a chance for a Ploughman’s tour of the basement
of whatever arena Vince is renting that night. And you know what? All the
generators look the same in every arena! Wow! Anyway, they make a three-way
dance out of the thing to give Raven a chance to provide some comic relief,
as the thought of Kane and the Big Show in a continuous action match is
too horrible to contemplate. And even though Raven is the champ, he must
see to it that one of the big gloms goes home with the belt. One thing
for Raven, he knows his damn role as Kane pins the No Show to earn his
C- 61 degrees.
Eddie Guerrero pins Test for the
European Title: Are you beginning to get the feeling there are too
many title belts in the WWF? What’s next, Bradshaw vs. Blackman for the
Utopia Title? Eddie is accompanied to the ring by Perry Saturn looking
resplendent in Papa John Phillips headgear with a Scott Steiner fu manchu.
Saturn taunts, teases and distracts the big guy while Eddie dances around
like a reject from the spastic version of Saturday Night Fever. Then its
Eddie’s turn to distract the ref while Saturn goes to work on the big lug,
actually suplexing him while the ref pretends not to notice. What, can’t
he feel the mat move beneath him? As if all this weren’t enough to try
to get the fans into this one, guess who comes to ringside? If you said
Dean Malenko, you are, unfortunately, right. Dean does absolutely nothing
outside of getting pasted and it suddenly occurs to me that if there is
another wrestler in the WWF who has fallen as far as Malenko in the past
six months, I’ve yet to meet him. Lingering injury, or simply the inevitable
result of too many years spent in Japanese strong-style wrestling? As I’m
busy contemplating, Eddie pins Test to make the world safe once again for
C 45 degrees.
Kurt Angle pins Chris Benoit:
A good match that could’ve been great if only the participants bothered
to use a little ring psychology. The finish to a match as good as this
one must never seem like an afterthought, especially considering the way
the match was built up on television and the way it progressed once inside
the ring. Benoit and Angle behaved like two guys who don’t like each other,
hitting each other with holds and counters, relentlessly bearing down on
each other. And ? they actually worked the mat! What a rarity. So, to give
us an ending that made us wince and say "That’s it?" just goes against
A- 90 degrees
Chyna pins Ivory for the Women’s
Title: Now come on, is there anyone of you out there who actually thought
the big moose wasn’t going to walk out of that ring with the belt? If so,
they need people for the new television version of Ripley’s Believe It
or Not. Ivory’s heat was short lived as she attacked Chyna right after
the bell. From then on it was all Moosie. In fact, the way Moosie handled
Ivory during this match made me think she was p.o.’d about having to wrestle
in the women’s division. A cover reminiscent of Jake the Snake Roberts
followed her heel lift of Ivory before the 3-count to deliver another finisher.
And, frankly, she looked upset. Well, Moosie, if you want to be thought
of as feminine, you have to play with the girls.
C- 67 degrees
The Fighting McMahons ? Shane
pins Vince: What we all tuned into see, which tells us more about what
the business has become than anything else I can think of. Vince
tipped the ending of this match twice, once when being grilled by Bob Costas
on HBO and later before the match when he tells Trish to make sure Linda
is double sedated. Oh Boy. They went on to hit each other with everything
but the kitchen sink, giving Shane a black eye in the process. But once
Trish turns on Vince and Stephanie we’re sure of the ending. And to their
credit, the McMahons do not disappoint. The highlight comes when Vince
is about to finish off Shane. He brings Linda into the ring to give her
more than a ringside seat of the action. He wants to make sure she’s comfortable.
And then, just as he goes to apply the coup de grace, Linda rises from
her coma and delivers a crotch shot that enable Shane to deliver a fantastic
Van Daminator and win the match. I do wish, however, that this is the last
match the McMahons work against each other. The simple fact of the matter
is that they are just that much better than their co-workers.
A- 120 degrees
Christian and Edge defeat the
Hardys and the Dudleys to Win the Tag Title: Try eating 30 Hershey
bars at a sitting next time and you’ll know how this match felt to those
who watched it. Just too much of a good thing. I also could have done without
the outside interference. Oh well.
Gimmick Battle Royal: Vince
McMahon truly has no sense of shame if he stages this sort of nonsense.
I start to have strange thoughts as I see the fiasco unfold: Repo Man,
Gobbledly Gooker, Tugboat, Earthquake, ("Is this real or simply gas?"),
Kim Chee, Bushwacker Luke, Cornette (What’s he doing here?), The Goon,
Volkoff, Bushwacker Butch ("This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."),
Doink the Clown, Michael Hayes ("Oh, I get it. I’m really at a Cauliflower
Alley Club reunion."), One Man Gang, Kimala, Brother Love, Sgt. Slaughter,
Hillbilly Jim. Winner: Iron Sheik (even though he can barely walk). Mercifully
brief, but not brief enough.
D- 10 below zero.
Undertaker pins Triple H:
Say what you want about Triple H, he knows how to do a clean job. For that
he earns my highest praise. Motorhead was at ringside performing Triple
HHH’s entrance music. It was the least they could do. Triple HHH
played it beautifully, always leaning to the Undertaker’s strengths on
brawling and keeping up step for step until being caught in the last ride.
A 135 degrees
Steve Austin pins The Rock to
with the WWF Title: Another bout that was tipped to the fans, the problem
went from "who is to win?" to "how do we get Austin over as a heel, and
in Texas, yet?" That I can understand. So, they did the only thing
they could to get Austin over, and that was to pair him with Mr. McMahon.
But as they didn’t reveal this until near the end, it seemed like "Heel
insurance." Austin and The Rock worked their usual match, but try as he
might, the weight of years and angles past was going against Austin. Thus,
enter McMahon. This now begs the question of why should they turn Austin
in the first place. It seems to be better to keep him in his current role
than to lose currency with his fans. It’s as if McMahon, in the rush of
vanquishing Ted Turner’s WCW, forgot the lessons he’s learned these past
four years and turned the clock back to 1993. Now, does this set up the
return of Bret Hart as a Face?
A 150 degrees