Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
You can get more of the latest news and rumors by listening to this week's Solie's Wrestling Radio report.
On Saturday July 20, 2002 something kind of rare happened: an independent wrestling show took place in Topeka, KS. The promotion was Triple Extreme Wrestling (TXW) and the place was the YMCA. When I first heard of the show I knew I had to go. The idea of a show at the Y was reminiscent of stories that men my grandfather's age would tell about rasslin' shows.
I arrived at 6:30 and forked over my ten bucks. I watched the crew set up the ring and realized that I had picked a seat behind two ladies who were involved with the promotion. This would prove useful later.
Seven o'clock rolled around and it was time for a promo to set the night up. A young man named Devan Scott was interviewed in the ring because this was his wrestling debut and he was making it in his hometown of Topeka. Derek Stone made his way to the ring and badmouthed the rookie. Stone hit him with a cheap-shot to the side of the head and that was enough to make Scott vs. Stone a main match for the night.
The first match had a ten minute time limit and saw Mr. Saturday Night take on Dookie Grande. Mr. Saturday Night Michael Berry did some good mic work. He cut on Washburn University. The crowd was quiet and I saw this as an opportunity to defend my alma mater. It was a fun exchange. To this point, the main weak spot for the show was that the acoustics in the gym didn't cooperate with the sound system and I could barely make out the words of the ring announcer. Fortunately, they made some adjustments and this problem got better as the night continued. Back to the match, Mr. Saturday Night kind of reminds me of Brian Christoper, I mean Lawler, with his look and personality. Dookie Grande was just a big dude. The end came with about two minutes to go in the match. Dookie Grande was being kept on the outside of the ring by Mr. Saturday Night. Then, Dookie grabbed Mr. Night and pulled him to the outside where he pummeled him for 8 seconds before rolling into the ring and taking the win via count-out. Not a bad opener. The fans were getting into things.
The next match was Babyface Nelson vs. T-Bone with a ten minute time limit. Nelson continually stalled and asked for time-outs. T-Bone had the size advantage, but Nelson had the cheating advantage. T-Bone had Nelson trapped in the corner at one point and he administered reverse-knife-edge chops which elicited a round of "Whoooo!" from the fans. The end of the match saw T-Bone hit a bulldog variation but time expired before he could pin him. The result was a draw. After the match, T-Bone brawled with Nelson out of the gymnasium.
Match #3 was Gage Octane w/ Vixen vs. Krow. Gage was accompanied to the ring by his partner and fellow TXW tag team champion Derek Stone. They were doing a kind of silly superhero bit that the crowd had a hard time getting into. Stone wanted the match instead, so he and Gage did rock, paper, scissors for the match. Stone won, but the announcer called foul and said that the match was Gage's. The match was fast paced and had lots of good cruiserweight moves like a hurricanrana and a top rope cross body block, but the fans were kind of flat. The action spilled to the floor and Derek Stone got involved. He attacked Krow and then entered the ring and pretended to be Krow. The referee didn't notice the difference as Gage covered him for the pin. Afterward, Krow sought revenge but was being double teamed. He was rescued by "Sweet Dreams" Gary Graham. This set up a tag team match for later in the card.
We now had a fifteen minute intermission. I took advantage of the ladies with the promotion in front of me to find out how to spell the guy's names and what some of their names were. With the acoustics as they were, these ladies were life savers who helped me get the information to write this report.
After intermission we saw the wrestling debut of Devon Scott taking on Derek Stone. The match was fast paced with lots of power moves. Scott looks to be a talented rookie. If he can stay healthy he should be a great asset to the company. Stone had established himself as a bad guy already, and the fans heckled him accordingly. However, the veteran pulled out the win over the rookie when he pulled Scott's tights to secure a three count. The fans seemed a little disappointed that the home-town boy hadn't come through in his debut.
The next match had a one hour time limit and was for the TXW Heavyweight Title. Champion Griz defended against Kid U.S.A. Griz got over huge as a heel and Kid U.S.A got all the cheap patriotic heat he could. Some highlights saw Griz hit a powerbomb on Kid U.S.A. This made the highlight reel just because both guys are pretty big. Griz kind of reminds me of Taz, only taller. The action spilled to the outside and we found out why it's called Triple Extreme Wrestling. Griz assaulted Kid U.S.A near the announcers table and then nailed him in the head with the title belt. The challenger was down for a considerable amount of time before the champion pulled him from the floor and irish whipped him into the cement wall of the gym. A sickening thud echoed as the fans winced. When things got back in the ring, Kid U.S.A made a comeback and hit a top rope hurricanrana for a near fall. Griz wound up hitting a middle rope reverse DDT for the victory. After the match, Griz assaulted his victim with a plastic folding chair. The locker room emptied to rescue the fallen patriot as Griz badmouthed the wrestlers and fans on his way out of the gym.
In a non-title match, TXW Tag Team Champions Derek Stone and Gage Octane w/ Vixen (I must say that Vixen is a gorgeous woman. Id like to see TXW get another female and use them in the ring.) take on Krow and "Sweet Dreams" Gary Graham. The champions had a lot of good comedy spots in the match. My personal favorite was when they stood in the corner and played paddy cake to decide who would be in the match. Hilarious to watch. The champions worked over Graham for quite a while. Then Graham got the hot tag to Krow who cleaned house on the champions. Graham became involved and all order disappeared. Krow and Stone were fighting in the front row as Gage Octane and Gary Graham battled it out in the ring. Vixen entered the ring with a spray bottle. She tried to spray Krow, but he ducked and Gage got misted in the eyes. He was blinded and off balance. He accidentally grabbed Vixen and applied a finisher which I believe he called either The Spine Tingler or the 12-Gage. Krow took advantage of his blinded foe and finished him off. Krow and Gary Graham are your winners. After the match, Vixen confronted Gage Octane for his actions. He tried to make it up to her, but she wasn't happy until she DDTed him in the middle of the ring. After he recovered, he put his tag belt on her and they exited the ring in a more harmonious mood.
The final match of the night was a battle royal. The participants were: 1) Chip Douglas, 2) Hype-Gotte, 3) T-Bone, 4) Devan Scott, 5) Mr. Saturday Night. It was a very brief match (maybe 2 and a half minutes). It came down to Devan Scott and Mr. Saturday Night. Needless to say, this Saturday night was not on its namesake's side. Devan Scott won and the crowd popped big. The hometown boy was able to get his hand raised in his hometown.
The show ended and I don't think anyone felt that they hadn't gotten ten dollars worth of entertainment. One gentleman told me, "Well, that was a good little show." I couldn't agree more and hope that TXW comes back to Topeka soon.
INTERVIEW WITH ROLAND ALEXANDER
Editor's Note: For those of you not familiar with Roland Alexander and his APW wrestling promotion and school, Alexander is the developer of such current wrestling luminaries as Spike Dudley, Vic Grimes, Crash Holly, Blitzkrieg, Chris Daniels and many others. He is probably best known for his appearance in the wrestling documentary, "Beyond the Mat", where he was shown bringing two of his top wrestlers, Mike Modest and Tony Jones, to a WWF tryout. He (and I) feel that Mr. Alexander was not portrayed fairly in that film, but he has no regrets about his role, and he talks about that in this first installment of the interview.
From time to time the APW Internet Newsletter will feature an interview with a random APW Superstar. This weeks interview, which was conducted by Lars Hildebrand (from www.cagematch.de), is with APW President Roland Alexander. This is a very informative interview with the man who makes APW tick, hope you enjoy it:
Question: You started All Pro Wrestling with the Boot Camp in 1991. In 1995 you had the first show. What was the reason for you to make a show in front of an audience, and why didn't you do shows from the beginning?
Alexander: For the most part, we began doing live events to give our graduates and students a vehicle to get some experience and exposure. We know not all of our graduates will be able to earn a living from pro wrestling but, we hope there are many that can. Even though we are a training camp foremost and hold no obligation to give our students to gain them experience and exposure, we feel that with our newly created management division, it is in our best interest to hold as many events as possible whether they be at fairs, fund-raisers or in our dojo as "Gym Wars". I feel that the events they do are an important part of the students training and any dojo that can not do these shows is doing their students an injustice.
Question: If you have to describe both, the Boot Camp and All Pro Wrestling with a few words, how would you do it?
Answer: APW Boot Camp = Pro wrestling training personified. APW = Top indy organization in the US with graduates in all major promotions including ECW, WCW, WWF, WWE, Pro Wrestling NOAH, Arsion & New Japan
Question: When you first heard about Ron Howard's "Beyond The Mat", and that he wanted to have you featured in that documentary, what were you thinking and did you agree instantly?
Answer: It was an honor to be a part of "Beyond The Mat". It brought us a lot of exposure and increased our training school business tremendously, but we didn't do it without reservation. The director of the documentary was looking to benefit himself more than anything and exploited many while doing so. We didn't agree completely with everything he was trying to do. At one time, he wanted to do several things that I didn't agree to. My mother was dying in a rest home and had just had her leg amputated and he wanted to take the cameras into the rest home and capture the interaction I would have with her. He only cared about his film and had no feelings for many of us and/or our families. He also wanted to show the "the behind the scenes" inner workings of pro wrestling but we would not allow him to capture certain things on film. The director told us there would be no money because this film would only go to Public Broadcasting systems and never make the theater or cable television or video. He then turned the piece from being a documentary on pro wrestling and what individuals need to go through to become pro wrestlers into something completely different while trying to ride the success of the WWF. Therefore, we only ended up having 10 minutes in the piece and fans did not walk away with as great a respect as they could have walked away with. This is probably one of the reasons Vince McMahon put a stop to the film being advertised on his wrestling programs. It is my opinion, some of us were misled by Mr. Barry Blaustein and unfortunately, we had no control in the editing suite.
Question: What do you think about the documentary itself? Do you think it helps to understand wrestling or does it take a one-sided view?
Answer: It was a one-sided view on pro wrestling, it was the directors view.
Question: Are you proud of the accomplishments your students (Modest, O'Grady, Hyson, Grimes, Morgan, Jones etc.) made in wrestling?
Answer: Somewhat. Somehow, someway, pro wrestlers have a way of forgetting their roots once they get to the major leagues of pro wrestling. Take for instance, Erin O'Grady (aka Crash Holly). He was poorly trained and couldn't get anywhere wrestling for the indies he was wrestling for. He came to APW, we re-trained him and for a very small fee because he had already paid a fee to someone else. Let's just say he was at the right place at the right time when he was discovered by the WWF and yet, he has been disrespectful towards our company since he left. The only time he returned was to make money on Polaroid's at a show in San Leandro and he didn't even wrestle. Last I heard, he hasn't even had contact with his trainer, Michael Modest. Michael Modest and Donovan Morgan have gone on to earn a decent living but I was not comfortable in the method they parted ways with APW. I feel they were very disrespectful and unprofessional. The contacts of All Pro Wrestling is what got Modest into WCW. APW hosted the Pro Wrestling NOAH visit to our dojo to scout our graduates. Donovan Morgan was doing marketing for us as well as training and one of his projects was to arrange the NOAH visit but yet, now that they left, they try to take all the credit. Am I proud of their accomplishments?? Let's just say I am proud of their abilities in the ring but I don't think too highly of them as people.
Question: If you're following APW's history, there is one guy that you will always find. His name is Robert Thompson! What do you think of him as a person and as a wrestler?
Answer: I value Robert Thompson much more as a person than as wrestler or trainer, and yet he is a damn good wrestler and trainer so that should tell you a little something about Robert Thompson as a person. He was the first student to sign up for our training school back in 1991. He was also the first graduate and was in my first main event on our first live show. He has stuck with us through thick and thin. When Modest and Donovan decided to leave our company last year, Robert was right there. He has always been just as good a wrestler as Modest and on two separate occasions, turned down offers from ECW. We chose to market Modest over Robert because of his dedication to earn a living with pro wrestling whereas Thompson chose to raise his daughter and concentrate on that and who can blame him. Robert may very well be our best complete package to graduate from our camp. He is a good wrestler, trainer and person. I think it is sad he never made it to the major leagues but at the same time, I am proud of him as a father and family man. His loyalty to APW is unmatched in his 11 years with APW. He is our current co-Head Trainer at the APW BOOT CAMP and is doing a very good job. The difference between Robert and any other trainer we have had in our 11 years is his feelings for the student. He truly cares about the student and this isn't just a job for him and it isn't about money. He is compensated very well but he would probably do it for free. He really has a passion for people and young guys trying to break into the wrestling business.
To be continued...
Well, they did the worst thing they could have last night.
Does that surprise you? Should it, rather?
Rock getting the belt was the easiest call I could have made. As soon as The People's Movie Star arrived back, and was thrown into the mix, you knew that he was gonna get the duke.....you HAD to.
Ol' 'Taker.....got screwed...I mean, the man. His push, his deserved title run was swamped by the immediate attempt to get ratings.
Who makes these decisions? Who? I mean, I was so, so ready to come here, and discuss the genius of hiring Bischoff to 'run' RAW, and how that would put some needed 'umph' back into the perception of rivalry that has been sorely lacking in the free-per-view wrestling industry. However, the WWE did two silly, STUPID things, in my book.
First off, they brought Stephanie McMahon back into the homes of millions, causing them to collectively groan and turn on Lifetime. I mean, this woman, smart and talented as she is a booker (don't ask me if I agree with that sentiment) drives people away from the TV screen. Nobody that I talk to sees her as a draw, except those men that want to look at her...er...augmentations. I am positive that Vince is very, very happy that his daughter's breasts are attracting viewers, as opposed to her mental acumen or acting ability. I wonder if that was part of the decision-making process.
I really hope not.
Secondly, this foolish move to put the Belt on the Rock...AAUUUGH! What a cheap move....what a scaredy-cat, cheap, worthless move. Also, add the fact that Undertaker and Lesnar built up good heat between each other, and the fact.......aw, it doesn't MATTER what the facts are! The thing we are seeing here is a royal screw-job on Mark Calloway. Plain and simple.
I KNOW that younger talent needs to be brought up, and that the Rock is younger than the Undertaker. I KNOW that the Rock is very popular. I KNOW also that Angle winning the match was impossible, because a heel-heel match wasn't the brightest idea for Summerslam...but, geez...Undertaker had a 9-week run as Champ...isn't he worth more than that? Isn't anyone?
Undertaker losing the Belt in that manner fries me...sure, he didn't have to put someone over, but he still did the job by proxy. Though he never got pinned, he was diminished. The people booking the WWE were looking for a another quick fix in the ratings...and, by God, this looks like a really easy way, doesn't it?
I will make you a bet....it won't be as successful as people would think....in fact, we will read on the "net that the bump in ratings will be a disappointment.
Rocky chasing the Title is much better drama than rocky HAVING the Title, especially if he is forced to challenge Lesnar for it. I can see the sense in having Undertaker job to Lesnar, like Hogan did for Goldberg, but I don't see him having to lose the title for what amounts to a cheap pop. Everyone would really enjoy seeing Rock as an underdog for once..he hasn't been for several years, and he could be very effective as a challenger at the September PPV.
Isn't anyone looking at this long-term? Or, are they riding the Rock to fan ratings? You decide...and think about Undertaker's selflessness in this...losing the title to two guys who have less time combined than he has in the business.
I also have to feel for Angle, who bladed, got pummeled, but still dominated the action of the match, just to job. He is so darn good......
OK...Everyone, please take the opportunity to go to the Joe Wolfe section of Solie's Classic Images.....it is a real treasure, and it was a real treat to talk to Annie, and have the honor of sharing those pics and articles with you. I hope you enjoy them as I did.
See you next week, for another Connection.
by Earl Oliver
A much anticipated SmackDown! was taped on Tuesday at the First Union Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and kicked off with a match pitting against rookie sensation John Cena. This match barely got started before a frustrated Jericho got himself disqualified for a blatant low blow. That didn't stop him from then putting Cena into the Walls of Jericho and holding onto it until officials pried them apart. Jericho then grabbed a chair and did some more damage before they could stop him.
Meanwhile, Mark Loyd was out back waiting for the new GM to show up. A white limo pulled up and Eric Bischoff got out.
Backstage, Bischoff hunted down Hulk Hogan, who didn't seem to happy to see him. Bischoff went on about the talent he was interested. It was clear that he isn't interested in Hogan himself, but he seemed to imply that he would take him as a package with Edge.
Hurricane came to the ring to face Chavo Guerrero in the next contest. Hurricane offered his hand only to have it slapped away - and the fight was on. A little way into the match, Hurricane appeared to have hurt his leg. The referee was going to his aid when Chavo started pounding on the injured limb. Helms tried to stymie him with a chokeslam, but Chavo used an elbow to knock him away and then went right back to work on the knee. Hurricane finally tapped out under the pressure of an STF. Chavo grabbed a mic and started ranting against the imminent arrival of Rey Mysterio, Jr., challenging to meet Chavo for his first match in WWE.
Bischoff was being sweet-talked by Rico when Vince walked up and asked him about his plans. Bischoff told him he plans to sign HHH to RAW and said that there is nothing that any new GM of SmackDown! can do about it. In a pre-taped segment, the Undertaker took over the interview from Michael Cole to make his own statement about the current WWE Title situation. He expects to retain the title at Vengeance (duh...)
Upchuck and Billy were up next, with Rico (of course). I don't understand why Vince doesn't just sign Lenny and Lodi - they did this act so much better than these clowns. Their opponents for this contest were Hardcore Holly and Val Venis. Like the former champs or not (and I don't) these are all four very talented guys and the match was quite competitive. In the end, the good guy team delivered an upset victory when Val Venis hit the Money Shot on Billy.
In a 6 man tag match featuring Hulk Hogan, Edge and Rikishi against the Canadian Whiners (Test, Christian and Lance Storm), the bad guys didn't fare well at all. In fact after an initial strong start, they never did quite get the upper hand again. In the end, Edge hit the Edgecution on Storm and took the pin.
Backstage, Bischoff found the Rock and told him he wanted him on RAW. Maivia replied that he would be there...but only because he planned to win the WWE Title this weekend, which would mean he could appear on any show he liked (he even suggested he could appear on Frasier and kick some but there...) Bischoff interrupted him to speculate on what might have happened if he had had the Rock on Nitro. The Rock countered by saying that while Bischoff was on Nitro, he (the Rock) was doing his part to out WCW out of business...I just figured out that Bischoff must have studied the scowl of Larry Zbyszco to develop his own pissed off face...
After the break, McMahon dropped his bomb...or maybe I should say, laid his egg. He named Stephanie as the new SmackDown! GM! God help us...noooooooo!!!!! That screechy voice is back :-( Stephanie vowed to block any attempt by Bischoff to sign away Triple H, then she went looking for him to throw him out of the building. She eventually found him backstage, talking to the Canadian Whiners, and ordered him to leave. He agreed, but said he would see her on Sunday at Vengeance.
Kidman's match with Tajiri had progressed nicely to a win by Kidman via Shooting Star press when that spoilsport, Jamie Noble, ran in and attacked Kidman.
Jericho went to see Stephanie in her office and and was downright smarmy in his welcome. She was not fooled. She complimented him on his willingness to give up his match with Edge at the PPV and then deftly railroaded him into a match with Test next week on SmackDown! Jericho left with a sickly smile on his face then threw a little fit once he was back out in the hall.
The Undertaker rode his bike down to the ring to join the announce team for the next match - featuring Kurt Angle and The Rock. They had a pretty good match before Taker decided to get involved (naturally...). He knocked Angle from the ring then went to work on the Rock. Angle let that go on for a while then came back in with a chair and clobbered the dead man. He then slapped the ankle lock on the Rock as the scene switched to the parking area, where Stephanie caught up with Triple H as he was about to depart in his limo. She asked him for a meeting to "hash things out". HHH was not gallant - to say the least. He told her he would make his decision at Vengeance, then asked her if she had gained weight. he got into the limo and closed the door. The tinted window opened and there sat Bischoff, laughing and and telling Steph he would see her on Sunday.
WWE Vengeance came to us live from the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan and opened with a sort of sermonette - these ad blurbs get weirder and weirder.
The opening match was a tag team table elimination match pitting the (new) Dudleys vs. The (old) Radicalz. The highlights were benoit throwing himself at Spike only to have his target duck away so that Benoit went careening into Guerrero and took both of them over the top to the floor. Moments later, Spike reversed a suplex on the apron and turned it into an Acid Drop that eliminated Guerrero. Benoit threw Spike over the top and through a table to eliminate him. Back inside the ring, Bubba eventually dropped Benoit on his butt to break another table and win the match.
Backstage, Eric Bischoff ran to catch up with Triple H, but was dismayed to learn that the SmackDown! superstar was headed in to hear Stephanie's counter offer...
Back at the ring, the next match was for the Cruiserweight Title and featured former champ, Billy Kidman, challenging Jaime Noble. This was not a typical high-flying cruiserweight battle because Kidman injured his shoulder early on and then Noble concentrated his attack there, effectively grounding the former champ. It was also somewhat different because Nidia stayed out of the fight. Kidman managed to go for the Shooting Star toward the end but missed his target. Moments later, Noble hit a powerbomb and took the pin to retain his title.
Backstage, Kurt Angle was interviewed by the new guy (Mark Loyd) then Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar walked up. Heyman introduced lesnar as Angle's opponent at SummerSlam (this assuming that Angle wins the Triple Threat match tonight). Angle was dismissive of the monster, who then wished Angle luck tonight.
Willy "Crybaby" Regal had his return match for the European Title against Jeff Hardy in the next match, and wasn't doing too well throughout the early moments, until he got his knees between himself and the high-flyer during an attempted splash. So hardy changed his game plan and wrestled Regal into a roll up to get the pin. Regal left the arena in tears again.
Ric Flair congratulated Jeff hardy on his performance, then Hulk Hogan walked up and added his congratulations. After hardy left, Flair and Hogan talked like old buddies (that is sooo strange), agreeing that Bischoff and Stephanie were potential disasters just waiting to happen.
Chris Jericho had a grudge match against John Cena, who he had vowed to run out of the business tonight. Jericho ran out and grabbed a chair as Cena was introduced. he ran out and tried to use it - but Cena ducked the shot then grabbed the chair and hit Jericho with it. In the ring he continued his assault, forcing Jericho to leave the ring to regroup. Back inside, Jericho was still on the defensive as Cena pressed his attack, but this time it was short-lived as Jericho turned the tables then went to work on the rookie. Jericho next was so intent on loosening a corner pad that he was almost pinned by a schoolboy roll-up. Eventually, Jericho got too cocky and laid him self open on the top corner. Cena was playing possum and caught Jericho in a superplex. What followed was a series of false endings, each man getting two counts repeatedly. Jericho finally got a Lionsault and should have taken the pin - but chose to let Cena up so he could pull him into the Walls of Jericho and make him submit. It was a fatal error as Cena reversed to the move into a roll-up and took the pin. After the match, Jericho threw a fit and trashed the ringside area.
Outside Stephanie's office, Bischoff was further chagrined when Stephanie's attorney showed up. he informed Bischoff that he had been summoned to deliver some "legal documents". Uncle Eric demanded to know if they were contracts, but the lawyer refused to disclose anything, then went inside.
After the first hour, Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross replaced Taz and Mike Cole as the announce team.
After an extended promo, the Intercontinental Title match was announced. Brock Lesnar challenging Rob Van Dam. Winning this match would send Lesnar into SummerSlam as the IC Champ and the #1 contender to the WWE Title. Early on, Lesnar took advantage of his superior size and power to dominate the high-flyer. He basically just manhandled the Champ, while the latter was entirely on the defensive. Van Dam finally hit a heel kick and took Lesnar off his feet. Heyman was in shock as van Dam proceeded to out maneuver Lesnar again and again. But then the challenger just powered RVD right over the top corner and onto the steps. Out on the floor, Lesnar pressed his advantage. Back in the ring, Lesnar continued in the driver's seat for several minutes, but then Van Dam came back with a mule kick of the top and turned things back around. He was going for the Frog Splash when Lesnar surprised him and went for a F5 - but Van Dam reversed it into a face buster! He followed up with the Frog Splash and probably had the pin, but Heyman dragged the referee out. Lesnar was disqualified. Heyman shoved the referee, who shoved Heyman back, then knocked him down and started pummeling him!! Lesnar pulled him off, then turned around and ran into a somersault splash from van Dam. Van Dam grabbed a chair and was ready to use it, but the referee distracted him. Lesnar regained the upper hand and ended up dropping RVD in an F5 on the chair.
Outside Stepanie's office, the lady herself advised Bischoff that Triple H had signed the papers, then walked away. Triple H came out and Bischoff was all over him until Hunter told him that the "papers" were divorce papers. He then told Bischoff that he was still making up his mind about the two shows.
Next up, The Big Show took on Booker T in a no disqualification/no countout match. This was the first match that Bischoff put together after he joined the promotion. The giant used his massive size to great advantage throughout the contest, but Booker got in his shots as well. At one point he used an audio cable to strangle the big guy. Then he destroyed the Spanish announce table, using a monitor to clobber his opponent, then dropping a scissors kick that put TBS down and collapsed the table. Booker rolled back into the ring to recover as the giant began to stir out on the floor. Booker hit him a couple of shots as he returned to the ring, then the Big Show went for a choke slam. Booker shrugged him off then dropped him again, went to the top corner and hit the Houston Hangover to take the pin.
At The World, Torrie and Dawn Marie argued about who would win the WWE Title tonight...and other things.
Triple H came to the ring to make his announcement. He did his usual entrance, acknowledged the crowd, then, before he could say anything, Uncle Eric showed up to make one last pitch. His point was that signing with him would mean that Hunter wouldn't have to worry about his personal life getting in the way of business. He also pushed the idea that he could get endorsement deals for the Game. Stephanie then showed up to add her own enticements to the pot. But first she told Bischoff to shut up. Then she launched into her own pitch - reminding Hunter that they do have a personal history and that she knows him better than anyone. Bischoff tried to interrupt, but Stephanie, cut him off to remind Hunter that it was Eric Bischoff once told him he had no charisma. HHH finally interrupted both of them to make a speech of his own. He reminded the two of them that Eric is considered to be a "pr*ck" and Stephaine a "b*tch". The he announced that he has made his decision. He held out a hand to Bischoff, but then did a duck away and smoothed his hair. He was about to announce his decision to go with SmackDown! when Shawn Michaels made his entrance. He brought his own mic and reminded us that he promised to bring HHH into the nWo - but unfortunately, they don't exist anymore. So he made a suggestion. That Hunter should consider friendship, and fun... He was arguing for RAW, because that's where he is these days. He suggested that they band back together and make Bischoff's life miserable. Triple H admitted that it was tempting, then looked and Stephanie emitted n expletive (deleted). he and Shawn left the arena together. Eric turned to Steph and gloated about her lack of male gonads - she slapped the taste out of his mouth and stalked away.
Terri interviewed Booker T and Goldust (that must have been uncomfortable...) who welcomed HHH to RAW, but warned him that he would face getting his butt kicked.
The Canadian Whiners (Christian and Lance Storm) took on Edge and Hulk Hogan for the Tag Team Titles. This was typical of the Edge/Hogan matches. Edge did most of the work, in this case being isolated for several minutes, then handing it over to Hogan, who started strong and hit the boot and the leg drop on Christian. But Storm interfered and broke the count so the match continued. Now Hogan was isolated for a while, then Edge came back in and cleaned house. He eventually got the Edgecution on Storm. but the referee was down. Test ran in and interfered, hitting the boot on Edge. Rikishi ran out and chased Test away and the match continued. Edge hit a spear on Storm then was distracted by Christian as Chris Jericho ran in and clobbered him with a title belt! Edge was pinned and the titles changed hands.
Backstage, Bischoff was trying to recruit Kurt Angle, "...just think about it, no pressure..." Angle thanked him and headed on to the ring. Back in her office, Stephanie declared that she is in touch with everyone at RAW and she says she has plans to "...rip the heart out of RAW".
The main event was a Triple Threat match for the WWE Title. The Undertaker defending his belt against Kurt Angle and the Rock. The Rock entered first followed by the other challenger, our Olympic Hero, then the champion. Angle started right in talking himself up - and thus the first blows of the match were rained onto him from two different directions! Angle was forced out to the floor, then the match got started in the ring. In not time, however, Angle was back and forced UT out so that he could focus his attack on the Great One. A series of suplexes put him in control, but Maivia came back with DDT and then the Dead Man was back. Angle was knocked to the floor again and then the Rock pulled off a chokeslam on the Undertaker! Angle came back in and before you know it, mavia had him in an ankle lock! But then Kurt reversed it and hit the Rock Bottom on the Rock!! Next Angle and UT got it on, and UT hit the Angle Slam of Angle!!! Moments later, Angle was tossed to the floor again, and Mavia hit the People's Elbow on UT. Angle came back in and broke up the pinfall. Maivia was dumped to the floor and Ut went at it with Angle, dominating him for the first time in the match. The fight went to the floor where the Rock got back involved in the action. He ended up dumped onto the announce table, then UT went back to work on Angle. It was starting to look like UT would retain as he dismembered Angle while Maivia was still out of it over by the announce team. UT walked the ropes and smashed down on Angle then went for the cover. But the Rock was back and pummeling the Dead Man, who countered with a DDT. Outside, Angle grabbed a chair. he went back into the ring but got caught between his adversaries, who took turns punching him. Maivia hit UT with a low blow, and then Angle was back with the chair and brained the Champ. he hit the Angle Slam on Maivia then seemed to have trouble deciding who to cover for the win. He waited too long to pin UT and only got two. The Rock came back and put a Sharpshooter on Angle, but taker broke that up and then hit a Last Ride on the Rock. He went for the pin on Mavia, but Angle ran in and grabbed him in the ankle lock. UT held on and then worked his way out of it. He went for the last Ride on Angle, but Kurt turned it into a triangle choke. UT was going out when Maivia hit Angle. Angle grabbed the ankle lock on him, but Maivia reversed to a roll up. UT came back and downed Mavia, then Angle suplexed UT. Several near falls happened in rapid succession then Maivia hit the Rock Bottom on Angle. UT tried to break up the pin but he was too late. The Rock is the 7 Time WWE Champ!
Raw came to us live from the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Michigan and, as JR announced at the top of the program, this is the first RAW broadcast under the stewardship of Eric Bischoff. In fact, the GM made his entrance right after the introductions were over with. The announcers have been repositioned up to the platform area - Uncle Eric's first big change, I guess. Bischoff's first announcement was that the new WWE Champ would be here tonight. Then he mentioned that Triple H is also on hand, and is now associated with RAW. This brought Hunter down to the ring as Eric looked on like the cat who swallowed the canary. Somehow, I have a feeling that Bischoff is in for a rude awakening... In fact. Eric started to announce his next big star - but HHH grabbed the mic and introduced Shawn Michaels himself. Bischoff was still looking ecstatic - not having gotten it yet... Bischoff, thinking to give us a surprise, named HBK as the Game's manager, stating that they would be unalterably bound to each other...in his mind. Michaels immediately told Bischoff that he had no problem with being HHH's manager, but he did have a problem with Bischoff telling him what to do. The two of them talked a little trash - then HBK walked out! Bischoff sent the Game to, "...go talk some sense..." into his friend. Hunter left to do just that, while Bischoff announced that he would be unifying the European and Intercontinental Titles in a ladder match.
Backstage, HHH pleaded with Shawn to not walk out the door. Michaels was adamant about going. Hunter finally told him that he had an idea to make it all right. Shawn reluctantly agreed to stick around for a while to see what happens.
The first match was the aforementioned Ladder Match for the unified Intercontinental/European Title. As could be expected, this was a pretty amazing, high-flying extravaganza, with Rob Van Dam defeating Jeff hardy. So does this eliminate the European or the Intercontinental title? Well, according to WWE.com, it is the Intercontinental Title that remains - but they sure didn't make that clear on the program.
Chris Nowinski came down to brag about his education but in the middle of his rant, the Undertaker came down and kicked his butt without saying a word.
Backstage, Bischoff was talking to Rhino, who is apparently his next recruit. Rhino seemed to like the idea. Sean Stasiak and D-Lo Brown tried to talk Bischoff into letting them on RAW. he seemed to have made a match between them for later in the show - but it didn't sound too good for either of them.
Next up, an inter gender tag team match, Trish Stratus and Bubba Dudley against Molly Holly and Willy Regal. Inter gender means that the guys can compete against the girls. Bubba has an injured arm and so was pretty much one-armed for the match. A few minutes in, Regal wrestled with Trish for several go rounds until she managed to tag her partner back in. Moments later, Trish took the Devon role in a "Whutsup!" But then Molly lured Bubba out of the ring, while Regal slapped an STF on Trish and made her submit.
Eric Bischoff was talking to someone unnamed in the dressing room then walked down the hallway and ran into Chris Benoit. Bischoff was effusive in his flattery then told Benoit he would have an IC title match on RAW next week. meanwhile the new WWE Champ arrived backstage.
The Rock came to the ring and thanked the Undertaker and Kurt Angle for the great match last night, then was well launched into his rant when Eddie Guerrero came down to rain on his parade. He tried to convince the Roc that he was jealous of Eddie G. In the end he challenged Maivia to a match, with the stipulation that Guerrero would get a title shot on next week's show if he wins tonight. The Rock agreed, in the most colorful of terms, of course.
Brock Lesnar came to the ring with Paul heyman to face Tommy Dreamer in a Singapore cane match. Except that Lesnar didn't seem to need a cane... He dropped Dreamer with an F5. Then the Undertaker showed up and gave Brock a little taste of the cane that Lesnar didn't use.
HBK met the Big Show backstage - they had words. TBS implied he might get some revenge for Shawn's super-kick a few weeks back.
In the ring, Sean Stasiak and D-Lo Brown were given three minutes to entertain Bischoff. They didn't succeed... Two huge guys came down and cleaned their clocks. I am reliably informed that these were the Island Boyz, fresh from their stint in the Ohio Valley Wrestling developmental territory.
Backstage. Triple H gave HBK a bag and told him to "put that on". Shawn looked in the bag then cracked up. HHH said he'd see Shawn "out there." In another part of the building, Goldust congratulated Booker T on his win over the Big Show last night, then put a Don King wig on his head. Booker seemed to take that pretty well.
Booker T took on Chris Benoit, which, JR reminded us, was the first time they had met in WWE, but that they had a series of matches during their WCW days. It was a brutal match which Benoit won with the Crippler Crossface.
After the break, Bischoff joined JR and the King at the announce position for the next match - The Big Show against...Spike Dudley? The Spike (the giant killer) of old, would have won this match...but not tonight. After Spike was trounced, at Bischoff's urging, the giant pulled a table out from under the ring and set it up inside. He was ready to chokeslam Spike through the table when Bubba ran out and tried to intervene. Big Show gave Bubba one shot in his bad arm, and then put him through the table on top of Spike!
The Game came to the ring with Shawn Michaels and they were wearing Degeneration X colors!! There was something hollow about the display, however. I couldn't quite put my finger on it. Something about the way Triple H reacted to Shawn's opening speech... The game yelled out, "Are you ready??" a couple of times then went into his (still) bad "Let's get ready to rumble!" parody...then he grabbed Michaels and out the Pedigree on him!!! He stripped off his DX t-shirt and threw it at HBK's carcass before exiting the ring.
After the break, Triple H was seen beating a hasty retreat in a white limo. Then Stephanie arrived in a black one.
The Rock took on Eddie Guerrero with a shot at his WWE Title at stake for the main event. It was a great match - Guerrero can goi with the best of them. In fact, he came close to winning it, but then missed his Frog Splash. A Spinebuster and a People's Elbow later, Guerrero was defeated.
After the match, Brock Lesnar came down and grabbed the WWE Title. Then he threw it at the Rock's feet and left as quickly as he came.
Out back, Eric Bischoff was taunting Stephanie, who still sat in her limo, when Lesnar and Heyman walked up. Stephanie looked scared for a moment, but then the two calmly got into the car with her! Stephanie leaned out the window and asked Bischoff how it felt to be kicked in his nether regions (she didn't actually out it that way,of course). She told him to watch SmackDown! to see "the Next Big Thing", then drove off laughing. Bischoff was left screaming after her as the limo pulled away.
And so it goes...
At least that's the way I see it...
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