Dedicated to Gordon Solie
January 29, 1929 - July 27, 2000
In this edition of the newsletter we have our weekly Crossface Connection by Solie's regular, John Cross, plus my own TV Reports and topical rants.
Big Time Wrestling, which closed its doors in 1975, was one of the most famous promotions of the 1960's through the 1970's and regularly featured such legendary grapplers as the Sheik, Lou Thesz, Edouard Carpentier, Killer Kowalski, Waldo von Erich, Gene DuBois, "Alaskan" Jay York, Tiger Jeet Singh, Stan Stasiak, Angelo Poffo, Mickey Doyle, Billy "Red" Lyons, Dominic DeNucci, Baron von Krupp, Pampero Firpo, Sailor Art Thomas, Bobo Brasil, Mark Lewin, Haystacks Calhoun and Killer Tim Brooks. It also nurtured then young stars who became legends in their own right, such as Marty Janetti, Tommy Rogers, Ted Dibiasi, the Rock & Roll Express, Crusher Jerry Blackwell, and the Freebirds, to name just a few.
I watched the PPV last night, and I saw the reaction that Austin got from the crowd, and I saw him come out and get put over, and all that crap. I shared my revulsion with my brother and cousin, both of whom were at my house to watch No Way Out. They didn't understand my angst, and my brother repeatedly shook his head, and called me "bitter". Sure, like Austin coming back is a personal affront to me, and my personal stock has somehow been reduced.
In addition to my disgust (note, not surprise) with the whole situation, what I also noted from the whole situation was the fact that the Canadian (read: knowledgeable and respectful) cheered the return of the guy. I'm sorry, but I would have expected that in Austin, or in my home town, but not in Montreal.
I will explain: This is not a slam on anyone in the readership of this article, because you all have proven yourself to be respectful of the industry, affectionate of the history and traditions associated with it, and mindful of the mark left on it by certain people, namely Vincent Kennedy McMahon Jr. The reason I would expect the reaction I did from American fans is because the bulk of the base has changed (see my article from 6-10-2002 for that info), while the Canadian fanbase hasn't made such a radical shift. Canadian fans, as a whole, remember. Why cheer for Hogan? They remembered his contributions to the industry, not because he is the best wrestler since Lou Thesz. He holds a place in their hearts that they remember, and he doesn't seem to have that strong of a position in the hearts of US fans, though I will allow the point that he is still over with them at the present. The American fans booed Hogan before Wrestlemania last year, as they were scripted to. The memory of wrestling fans has been sculpted by sports Entertainment.
Think back to the WWE Awards show that they had a few weeks back (1-14-2003, to be exact). Look at the awards that were handed out, like Best Diva. Why would Trish, who has been in the fed for four years, out-rate Sable, or Chyna, or Sunny? Because 18-24 year-old males commonly don't think back to when they were eight. Heck, when I was that age, I couldn't remember where I had put my wrappe3r from my Quarter Pounder I had just eaten. The demographic that Vince is aiming at isn't known for valuing historical milestones.
So, Austin coming out at the Raw two weeks ago really jazzed the fans, so much so that the people at the Columbus Raw were expecting him to arrive to save ol' JR after the show went off the air. He didn't, of course, and the fans were disappointed.
I find that amazing. This guy beat his wife, walked out on the company (when they really needed him, in fact) TWICE, though not in that order, and is getting cheered? Bitter? No...but disheartened.
We are, implicitly and explicitly, rewarding the man for his selfishness and for the damage he caused the WWE. He hamstrung storylines, to begin with, and had no regard for his friends and co-workers. He refused to job to Scott Hall, and killed the nWo angle well before Scott Hall destroyed his career. He has a long history (in the WWF/E) of self-pushing, and refusing to help others. So, we cheer him, and the rest of the workers in the bask (on their own, or scripted) are shown applauding and cheering. If they actually felt that way, then so be it, but that is less disconcerting to me than if they were told to cheer and smile, because that also lends the opinion to the fans that Austin is returning triumphantly, and that what he did to the WWE, and to his wife, is OK.
So, with their persistence of memory, I thought the Canadians would boo Austin, like they booed Steiner for his terrible performance. Nope...they cheered like the PM had walked in. Maybe I am missing something here.
Question is, what happens the next time Austin has a spat with the people mapping out the creative plan for the WWE? There has been a precedent set, unfortunately for all of us, and it says this: "If you are a big enough star, you can do whatever you want, and face no reprisal"
I had hoped that kind of thinking would remain in professional sports like basketball (ask Mr. Spreewell about that), football, and baseball (Mr. Howe, would you care to expand on that?). I guess I have no such luck.
Remember that Solie's is the best friend a lover of professional wrestling could have. Bodyslam.cc is no slouch either...just paste 'bodyslam.cc' in the web address field at the top of the screen, and surf on over there. Take a look, and let me know what you think.
See you next week for another Connection.
SmackDown! came to us on tape from the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana (where there were not one, but two gift crates for the Undertaker on the platform) and opened with the Rock making his first actual entrance to an arena in many months. This was the strangest in ring promo I have ever seen. The Rock basically invited the crowd to turn him heel, then launched into a semi-heel rant in which he kept pulling back from actually insulting anyone (except Hulk Hogan, of course). For their part, the crowd alternately cheered him and booed him - then, at the end, he refused to allow them to chant along with his tag line...the ultimate insult if you think about it...
Chris Benoit had a rematch with the A-Train and beat him again. Although he got the Crippler Crossface on twice during the contest - A-Train managed to escape through sheer power both times...only to be school boyed into a roll-up and pinned.
Out back, Hollywood Hogan arrived at the arena.
Backstage, Funaki tried to to get an interview with the Rock, but "the Rock's people" (the people's people?) wouldn't let him into the dressing room.
Meanwhile Nuncio's "people" (Johnny the Bull and Chuck Palumbo) along with Nuncio himself, headed to the ring. Johnny had a match with Rikishi, who met his opponent out in the aisle and dragged him to the ring while the Bull's companions were escorted away from the ringside area. In the ring, Stamboli was all over the big Samoan, even military pressing him into a big slam. A few moments later, however, Rikishi came back with a side kick and took his opponent down. Palumbo and Nuncio then ran in and assaulted the winner. Nuncio threw his leather jacket over Rikishi's head and punched him through it several times before leaving with his entourage.
Backstage, Kurt Angle was warming up with his team. He announced that he had decided to accept the challenge from Brock Lesnar for a match tonight.
Out in Beverly Hills, the Guerreros are walking around a residential neighborhood for some reason. Their message seems to be another cheap race-card angle - like all Chicanos are housebreakers, etc. First the Teddy Long crap, now this. Shame on you, Vince...
Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore took on Billy Kidman and Rey Misterio in a tag team match. In a taped backstage segment, it was revealed that Matt can now weigh out at 220 lbs. - as long as he doesn't wear a stitch of clothing. I guess he'll have to take on Kidman in the buff (well, it is a PPV after all, eeewwwww...!) In this match, Kidman allowed himself to be distracted when he was giving Rey Rey an assist in an over the rope splash on Moore - he turned back around, walked right into a Twist of Fate, and was pinned.
Next up - Big Evil came down to check out his latest gifts...you'd think he'd learn by now... In one he found what appeared to be a golden retriever puppy - maybe it was a cocker spaniel. As he was breaking open the second crate, the Big Show snuck into the ring behind him and attacked with a vengeance. Gosh...are they having a match this Sunday or what..?
Nidia took on Torrie in a "Paddle on a Pole" match, which her boyfriend helped her win.
Backstage, the Hulkster tried to enter the Rock's dressing room but was also rebuffed. He then headed to the ring to have his say.
As soon as Hogan arrived in the ring, the Rock's music blared and the Brahma Bull strutted to the ring to confront his rival. They went nose to nose while the crowd went wild. The Rock then motioned for a microphone, ordered a nearby stagehand to give him a bottle of water. He gulped a swig whole the crowd continued to chant - the Hogan chant overwhelming the Rock chant by a long shot. Mavia then turned to Hogan and started to explain that there was an apology in order, that rude things have been said...and Hogan ought to go ahead and apologize. He told Hogan he should apologize for calling him a "Rock of Jabronie". As Hogan kept advancing on him, the Rock kept back-pedaling - meanwhile taking credit on himself for Hogan's recent career resurgence. Finally, he put the question to Hogan - "are you going to apologize to the Rock, yes? or no?" Hogan said, "Hell, no!" and went on to explain that the fans were responsible for the resurrection of Hulkamania. Mavia then changed his tack, reminding Hogan that he beat him in their last confrontation. Hogan advanced again and the Rock retreated to the apron, where he proceeded to get all humble and offered to shake hands - over the top rope of course. Hogan decided to take a chance and stuck his hand out - the Rock spit on him, then retreated up the ramp.
Stephanie checked into a hotel with Carrot Top trailing her...oh wait...that was a commercial...
In a taped statement, John Cena swore vengeance against Brock Lesnar - a gnat threatening a gorilla...
Brock Lesnar came to the ring to meet Kurt Angle. Angle and his entourage came down, Kurt got into the ring...it was going to happen...not... Angle suddenly changed gears and said that to get him in the ring tonight, Lesnar would first have to beat Shelton Benjamin...but the face Benjamin, Brock would have to beat Charlie Haas. So that was the match we got. Lesnar destroyed the rookie - then we went to commercial.
When we returned, Lesnar was already beating up on Benjamin, and Angle was looking more and more sweaty... Benjamin made a comeback using a drop kick then started working on his opponent's left arm, the only part of his body he seemed to be able to affect. Eventually, Lesnar used his sheer brute strength to turn the tables again. He was holding his injurd arm, but that didn;t seem to be slowimg him down at all. Angle jumped onto the apron, but backed off when Lesnar confronted him. Lesnar then defeated Benjamin...with an Angle Slam!! Now it was Angle's turn to put up or shut up. He started to retreat, then "let" Heyman talk him into returning to the ring. As he confronted Lesnar, Heyman snuck in from the other side and hit Brock with a chair. That had no effect, except to distract Lesnar so that Angle could get the drop on him. Angle grabbed a rear chinlock and held on for dear life. Lesnar got to his feet and just dumped Angle to the floor. Then he attacked Heyman, who was still in the ring. This brought all three members of Team Angle back to try and punk Lesnar. They got him down - but then Edge and Chris Benoit ran out and ran the bad guys off.
The highly anticipated PPV started with a bang of pyrotechnics at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Jim Ross was off tonight, having suffered a concussion last Monday night on RAW. The Coach took his place at the side of Jerry Lawler. First up on the program, Chris Jericho taking on Jeff Hardy in a rematch from the tag team contest he lost to Hardy last Monday. Jericho certainly suffered some from underestimating his opponent in this one. Time after time he treated Hardy in an offhand manner only to turn around and be handed his head. In fact, Hardy got the first cover of the match after such a turn around. None the less, before long Jericho was in control of the match. During the fight, the crowd seemed to be behind Jericho at one moment, then cheering Jeff Hardy the next. About ten minutes into the match, Jericho slapped on the Walls of Jericho, but Hardy made it to the ropes and escaped. Moments later, Hardy reversed the field with a hip toss off the top corner, then hit a Swanton and almost took the pin. Jericho escaped but them went to the top and launched himself into the path of a drop kick. Jeff went for the Swanton again but missed. What followed was a series of false endings, each competitor going for the pinfall in turn. Finally, Hardy went for a a Super-Frankensteiner from the top rope, but Jericho blocked it and turned it into a powerbomb, then applied the Walls again and made Hardy submit. He then refused to let it go until Shawn Michaels ran out and attacked him. Christian followed him out and there was a good dustup. In the end the bad guys fled, leaving Shawn in possession of the ring.
Backstage, Kurt Angle gave his team a pep talk, then told them that he had an idea to get an early advantage. Meanwhile, back in the parking lot, Triple H and Company arrived. In the background of the shot we could see a truck with a smoking skull on the door...
Next up was the Tag Team Title match (RAW version) as the former champs, RVD and Kane took on William Regal and Lance Storm. As could be expected, this was a very lively contest. Regal and Storm wrestle like a well oiled machine, which their opponents are just such phenomenal individual athletes. The heel team did their best to keep RVD isolated in the ring because every time Kane was in, he cleaned house. In the end, Storm tried to tear off Kane's mask and succeeded in turning it so that the big man was blinded. As a result, he accidentally chokeslammed his partner, who was then pinned while Kane was still struggling with the mask.
Backstage, Matt Hardy encountered his brother and basically told him he had become a loser since dissolving their tag team. He got a slap to his face for his trouble.
He then went to the ring (w/Shannon Moore) to take on Billy Kidman for the Cruiserweight Title. I guess he must have lost a few pounds since Thursday because he was able to wear his ring attire and make weight...except that the announcers seemed to imply that Hardy has been beefing back up and is no longer under 220 lbs. If not - what is he doing in this match? Early on, Hardy tossed Kidman into the ring post to take control of the match. later, Moore got physically involved, or tried to - but to no affect. Kidman then went for the Shooting Star and missed (ouch!) Hardy tried the Side Effect, but was unable to get the pin. he then set his opponent up on the top rope and delivered a Super Twist of Fate to take the pin and the title.
Backstage, we arrived in time to discover that Edge had been knocked unconscious somehow. Stephanie was there with Edge's team mates - nobody seemed to know what had happened.
The grudge match between the Undertaker and the Big Show was next and it was a heavy hitting match - no surprise there. For much of the contest, the Big Show dominated things by dint of sheer size - he has something like 200 lbs. on his opponent, after all. UT was bleeding from the forehead when he finally turned things around with an explosion of offense. When the referee tried to halt his punching attack, UT chased him right out of the ring! UT went for the chokeslam, but couldn't lift the big guy. He tried again a few minutes later, but still couldn't do it. He settled for a DDT instead, then signaled for the Last Ride. He was unable to do that either. TBS then made a comeback but then fell victim to the Asahi Sleeper (TCB in UT parlance). Paul Heyman jumped on the apron to break that up and succeeded in distracting the Dead Man. A-Train also ran in but was rebuffed in a hurry. UT threw himself over the top rope and splashed both of them then returned to the ring. The distraction worked however, Big Show managed to slip in a chokeslam then went for a second one. UT wrapped his legs around the Big Shows upper body and used a Triangle Sleeper to win the match. Afterward, UT was ready to use a chair on his fallen foe, but A-Train ran in and grabbed it, then laid UT out with his own power move, the Derailer.
Backstage the EMT's were loading Edge onto a gurney, Stephanie told Benoit and Lesnar to head to the ring, that they had "made their decision" - that she would take care of Edge. In another part of the building, Eric Bischoff and Chief Morley were discussing bringing intruders in to make sure he wins his match against Steve Austin when Vince McMahon walked in and declared that anyone interfering in the match would be fired!
Howard Finkel was in the ring as we returned and announced that the Team Angle vs. Edge/Benoit/Lesnar match had been changed to a handicap - three on two - match instead. The other disadvantage to the face team was Brock's obsession with getting his hands on Angle. He would be so intent on getting Angle into the ring that he would let himself be blindsided by other members of the opposition. Angle actually did come in with Lesnar, but only when he was already down. His first tactic was to grab a rear chin lock and wrap his legs around the big man's body to intensify the pressure. Lesnar finally escaped by running Angle into the top turnbuckle then tagged Benoit in and everything went crazy. Benoit cleaned house as his opponents tried to double team him. Lesnar got involved again and bodies went flying all over the place. When the smoke cleared, Angle had Benoit down with a front face lock. Now Benoit was isolated as Team Angle took turns working on him. Lesnar finally got back in and it was hit turn to clean house. He got Angle into position for an F5, but Benjamin hit him from behind and broke it up. Lesnar tumbled to the floor, while back in the ring, Benoit and Angle started exchanging submission holds. Another tag put Charlie Haas in with Benoit. Angle tried to break it up but Lesnar was there and finally got the F5 on his nemesis. Haas tapped and the good guys won the match.
The first main event was Triple H vs. Scott Steiner for the World Heavyweight Title. This was proceeded, of course, by an interminable promo video - like we don't know what this match is all about - and like anyone who doesn't already know...would care. Strangely, HHH came to the ring on his own tonight - signaling that some devilment was afoot for sure. HHH also came to the ring with his left calf taped up, and Steiner went to work on that injury right away, surprisingly, to the disapproval of the crowd. In fact, from that moment on the crowd got behind the supposed heel champion. As Steiner dominated him, the crowd booed him consistently. Steiner continued to work on the leg and then added insult to injury by slapping on a figure four leg lock! Flair finally showed up at ringside but was cut off by Steiner. The distraction did the trick and gave the Game a chance to make a comeback. He knocked Steiner to the floor, where Flair choked him with his jacket. Back inside, HHH was in control for the first time in the match. The crowd started up a "Boooring!" chant at this point - what the hell is with these people? Each time BPP would come back with a move, the crowd booed him. HHH tried to use the ropes for leverage in a pinfall attempt - the referee broke it up and he was booed! HHH decided to try and get disqualified, but the referee told him pointedly that wasn't going to happen. Thus distracted, HHH was blindsided by his opponent. Steiner dominated the next several exchanges and the crowd's reaction became mixed. But when he took HHH down and started punching him on the mat, the crowd disapproved once again. Steiner might have gotten the pin moments later, but Flair slithered in and pulled his leg to break it up. Steiner applied the Steiner Recliner, so Flair signaled for his bully boys to run in. But Steiner handled them easily, then the ref banned them all from ringside. Steiner watched this happen then turned around and walked right into a title belt shot to the head. Steiner survived that test, but then lost to a Pedigree and was pinned.
Backstage, Test and Stacy were giving Uncle Eric a hard time as he headed to what was widely believed would be his destruction at the hands of Stone Cold Steve Austin. This was followed by another interminable promo...
Finally, the second main event - the return of Steve Austin to the WWE. JR even joined the announce team for this one. For some reason, I am expecting a surprise in this match...either Eric will pull out a victory by hook or crook - or Austin will come over to the dark side - but maybe not... Austin made his classic entrance and the crowd went absolutely nuts! As Steve paced the ring, Bischoff tried to appeal to him - but Austin just broke off his pacing and then attacked him like a snake! Back in the green room, the assembled wrestlers were eating it up right along with the crowd. You gotta hand it to Bischoff- he is without a doubt one of the most successful heels who ever appeared in the ring... Austin had a big grin on his face throughout the ensuing mayhem. He roughed the boss around out on the floor then threw him back into the ring and stunned him. Then he pulled him up twice instead of pinning him, delivered a second Stunner, then pulled him up again! Finally, Austin acknowledged the cheers of the crowd, flipped the double bird at Bischoff, stunned him again and pinned him. At the announce table, JR was on his feet and yelling his head off to the vast amusement of his announce partners. Back in the ring, Austin delivered one more double-bird/stunner then rolled out of the ring and headed up the ramp. At the top, he pulled off his belt and then ran back to the ring. We thought he was going to use the belt, but he left it behind on the platform. Instead he rolled into the ring, gave the crowd a double-bird salute, then left the building.
One more interminable promo and then it was on the real main event...
Hogan vs. Rock II was the final event of the evening. The Rock entered to a new, darker, more sinister version of his traditional entrance theme, sporting a new tattoo on his left upper arm and shoulder. This was definitely a different kind of crowd reaction to the "People's Champion". Hogan, on the other hand, was the crowd's darling, no doubt about it. Uncharacteristically, the Rock abandoned the ring to his opponent while he acknowledged the fans. In fact, the Rock coming out before his opponent was a first - at least in recent years. Mavia seemed a bit taken aback by the reaction, then tried to sneak in and attack from behind - but Hogan was ready for him and forced him back out to the floor during the first exchange. He lingered out there a little too long so Hogan followed him out. Maivia rolled inside then caught Hogan coming in. Hogan recovered then knocked his opponent to the floor once again. Hogan then grabbed Mavia by the head and tried to draw him back inside - the Rock bounced his neck off the rope and then took over. he grabbed Hogan's bandanna off the mat and put it on his own head, then pulled off Hogan's belt and whipped him with it. But he stopped to grandstand and let Hogan make a comeback. Rock recovered the initiative then slapped on a Sharpshooter. Hogan struggled to the ropes, but Mavia dragged him back to the middle of the ring. Hogan refused to tap out, almost passed out, then started "Hulking Up". he used his leg strength to escape the hold then rolled to the floor. Mavia followed him out and continued his assault. he grabbed a chair and tried to use it but missed. Hogan then got in a chair shot of his own. Back in the ring, Maivia hit a low-blow, which the referee missed...conveniently... He followed up with a spinebuster then set up the Peoples' Elbow, hit it, then hit a second one. Hogan kicked out then started to "Hulk Up" again. Maivia's blows were not working and Hogan slung him in then hit the big boot to the face. he connected with the leg dog...and then the lights went out!! When they came back up there was a chair in the ring and both mavia and the referee were out cold! Mr. McMahon then appeared on the platform. He started to the ring so that Hogan was distracted when the referee slid the chair over to the Rock! Mavia hit the chair shot and busted Hogan open. McMahon was smiling as Maivia hit the Rock Bottom then took the pin. McMahon entered the ring and raised both the Rock's and the referee's hand. All three were smiling ear to ear. The Rock and the referee left leaving McMahon to humiliate Hogan some more. Vince peeled off his dress shirt revealing an altered Hulkamania t-shirt with the word "Nothing" overlaying "What ya gonna do?" and the word "Sucks!" added to "Brother" on the back. he tore it off as a taunt then left the ring as Hogan started to recover. The two were staring daggers at each other as the program ended.
Jazz defeated Jacquie in a rather disappointingly lukewarm match, with Victoria and Steven Richards at the announce table - but the real fight started when the lights went out, then came back on to reveal Trish running into the ring. The two of them fought tooth and nail, with Victoria r=trying but failing to get involved as well, until they were eventually seperated by a phalanx of referees.
In a video segmat, Test is shown going to Gainesville, Florida to become a judge at the Miss Girls Gone Wild contest. he shown partying down with some wild girls. Cut back to the arena and Test is watching the video with Maven. Stacy came in and expressed some chagrin about Test getting a little physical with the girls. At that point, Chief Morley barged in and told Stacy and Test they better make up quick because they have a tag match against Chris Jericho and Christian later!
In a pretaped interview, Jim Ross talked to Goldust, who showed obvious (if rather overacted) signs of neurological damage from his electrocution incident. At the end of the interview he addressed Randy Orton and Batista, saying them that they have never felt how it is to be on the edge of death, but telling them they would, "...never forget the name of Goldust..."
Kane and RVD seemed to have patched things up from last nights confusion, as the latter accompanied the former to the ring to take on Lance Storm. Kane handled his opponent fairly easily then accepted congratulations from his erstwhile partner, while looking over Van Dams shoulder at Storm and nodding...(what..?)
Backstage, Batista and Orton were comparing notes on the return of Steve Austin when Ric Flair walked in and told them to get ready for a tag match against Scott Steiner and Booker T.
That match was next and it was a barnburner, with Flair on the outside supplying distraction and also getting physically involved. In the end, however, experience had it all over youth.
Stacy/Test vs. Jericho/Christian was pretty distasteful. Test tried to end it quick but Stacy got pretty roughed up before it was over. Toward the end, Jericho brought a chair into the ring and was DQ'd when he hit Test with it. He then handcuffed Test to the ring ropes, dragged Stacy in and apploied the Walls of Jericho on her while Test was forced to watch helplessly. Jeff hardyt ran in to the rescue, but was stopped short by Christian. Jericho kept torturing Stacy until HBK ran down and rescued her. Jericho immediately split, but Christian lingered and tasted the super kick.
Hardy was still in the ring and none to steady on his feet when Chjris Nowinski made his entrance and started taunting the dare devil. Jeff clobbered him and hit the Twist of Fate. Up toi the top he went then down to hit the Swanton for the pin. After the match, Jeff kept beating on Nowinski. When the referee tried to piut a stop to it, Hardy threw him out of the ring - so the ref went to the Lilian Garcia and told her to announce that he had reversed the decision, making Nowinski the winner.
In the backstage area, RVD and Kane discussed the coming battle royal, each stating thir intention to win the match and get the title shot at WrestleMania.
In the back, the Rock was on the phone when Hurricane came in and berated him over his heel turn, telling him he better watch his back in the battle royal, because Hurricane intends to show the Rock how to fly when he tosses his butt out of the ring.
Jerry Lawler held his own against Chief Morley in the next match ut was going down when the Dudleys ran out and came to his aid. This was a no-DQ match, so the referee had to let it happen. Morley was 3D'd and Lawler pinned him.
In the back, Flair told Orton and Batista to shake off their loss and win the Battle Royal, because The Champ wants to face one of them. Orton said that Booker T was his. Right...
The main event was the aforementioned 20 man battle royal for a shot at the World Heavyweight Title. The competitors included Rob Van Dam, Test, Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, Three Minute Warning (both members), Scott Steiner, Kane, Christian, Booker T, Hurricane, Tommy Dreamer, Al Snow, Rodney Mack, Maven, Batista, Jeff Hardy, Steven Richards, Randy Orton and of course, the Rock. Test was the first one eliminated - by Jericho. Next was Jamal, then Maven, then Steven Richards, then Rob Van Dam, the Al Snow, the Rodney Mack, Hurricane (eliminated by the Rock). At this point the Rock pulled Booker out of the ring and they brawled on the outside. The Rock then waltzed up to the announce table and donned a headset, saying he intended to wait out the rest of them. Jeff Hardy and Randy Orton were eliminated almost simultaneously, followed immediately by Scott Steiner. This left 5 in the ring, Rosie, Lance Storm, Christian, Kane and Booker T. Rosie was the next one out - eliminated by Kane, who next threw Storm to the floor. At this point the Rock headed back to the ring, but lingered outside until the right moment, then eliminated both Kane and Christian. This left the Rock vs. Booker T. The Rock hit a quick DDT and figured he had it won. But then he rushed Booker, who ducked and levered him over the top. Booker T has the title shot at WrestleMania!!!
At this point, in the interest of editorial balance, I'd like to make a few personal comments regarding the return of Steve Austin to the WWE. There are a number of commentators on the Internet, including in these very pages, who have decried his return because they feel that his previous departure was a selfish act, based on his own self interest and with no thought of the adverse affects it might have on the company. Those writers are all, of course, entitled to their opinions, but for myself, I have to suspend judgement on such matters because I am not convinced that I really know the circumstances that led up to his departure. Oh, there is the company line, of course, on which it seems that the other writers are basing their opinions. But I have to point out that, at the time, only one side in the dispute (Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and other WWE officials) chose to air their point of view. The other side (Austin and Debra) chose to remain silent. I do remember that at the time there were some comments attributed to a friend of the Austins, that the crux of the dispute rested with Austin's desire to retire from wrestling and raise a family, and Debra's flat refusal to consider those options. There was also some mention that the WWE had encouraged Debra in this attitude. Of course, at this point, we have the alledged "Steve Austin's side of the story" which appeared in this month's RAW Magazine. I have not read that article, because I don't read RAW Magazine, which I suspect is simply a propaganda organ for the company. I have no way of knowing if the article actually constitutes Austin's point of view, or if it is merely a cooked-up story that he was required to sign his name to in order to get his job back. So, again, I don't know what happened when Austin left the company, and I don't think those other writers do either, so I choose to not render any judgement concerning Steve Austin's motives then or now.
At least that's the way I see it...
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