WWE RAW (03/17/03)
by Tony Ling

Two things before we get to this week's Raw:

1. I'm grateful for all the positive comments for my first recap, and I'm definitely going to try my hardest to add some flow to the paragraphs the second time around. I can imagine it is not easy to read fragmented speech.

2. I've been really tired as of late, and lots of stuff is weighing on my mind, so if this recap comes off that way, at least you'll know that it's because of that and not due to any writing deficiencies on my part (although there certainly will be some things that you can attribute to my writing deficiencies).

With all that in mind, let's get to this week's installment of WWF Raw Isn't War Anymore!

Note: direct all e-mails to whoistonyling@hotmail.com

8:58: Which is weirder: the pro wrestling phenomenon or the Star Trek phenomenon?

9:00: This one's dedicated to you, our fine United States Army! We're pulling for you, dudes! Just as long as you don't turn this fucker into another Vietnam!

9:00 part deux: Bischoff in the middle of the ring? Oh right, Bischoff/Austin II: The Search for Curly's Gold. Oh, and it's a lumberjack match, one of the crappier gimmick matches you can think of. But wait - every Raw superstar will be participating! And if nobody wants to do it, they're FAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHRED! I know Bischoff didn't say it like that, but I always get a charge when Vince does that. Good luck, says Bischoff. I guess he finds the ass kicking he's about to receive funny!

9:02: I really, really, REALLY cannot stand this Raw theme. You'd think I'd get used to it, but no. Never.

9:03: We are live from…uh, somewhere, I didn't catch it. That graphic for the Austin/Bischoff match reminds me of the world's ugliest Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band cover ripoff. Let's face it, some of those guys are not fashion models! And here's RVD/Kane, the hottest tag team in the WWF (for what that's worth - not much, I know.) Their opponents, Chief Morley and Lance Storm. William Regal's still hurt, so the Chief is acting as Temporary Big Stiff-Hitting British Guy. Great, the crappy RVD/Kane angle and the crappy Dudleys In Limbo angle get to collide in a massive explosion of suck! USA chants to let us know that, indeed, we are in the United States of America. Typical opening stuff from Kane and Morley that doesn't really need recapping unless you've never seen a WWF tag match before. Kane picks up Morley, tags RVD, powerslams Morley, and RVD comes off the top with a legdrop for 2. Fancy stepover kick by RVD for 2. Cartwheel into a splash (sort of) for 2. RVD tries the rolling throw he does, but Morley catches him. Tag to Storm. RVD rolls under a clothesline and Storm eats a high kick for 2. Morley with a cheapshot, but cheaters never win, and Storm gets the rolling throw! Storm catches a DDT with Morley's help for 2. Morley in, punches, clothesline by Morley for 2. Aaaaand a chinlock. RVD quickly fights out, but gets caught with a spinebuster. And now a fancy abdominal stretch thingy by Morley, reversed for 2. Tags apiece! Kane's a house of fahr! Big boot! Sidewalk slam! Clothesline for Morley, the illegal man! Air Kane on Storm! Chokeslam attempt is broken up, but RVD comes off the top with a boot for Morley. And now we get Rolling Thunder! Chokeslam for Storm, and that'll do it. So isn't this team supposed to be breaking up or something? And now RVD comes up top for *****, but Morley comes rolling out…and the Dudleys come out to throw him back in! Table for Morley…or is it? NO! Sneak attack on RVD/Kane! RVD gets BIELED over the top rope! 3D through the table for Kane! And the Dudleys are…leaving? Morley gets himself a nice little chuckle, and I scratch my head in bemusement. Well, that's a good way to get the crowd into Raw…right? And at least another heel turn for the Dudleys might do something better than the, uh, last heel turn for the Dudleys.

9:14: At least I'll only have to see those 8 Mile commercials for a few more weeks, and then that whole sordid business can be put behind us.

9:16: Okay, so they're NOT heels. Yet. But they're hooking up to the Bischoff Train because they need the sweet, sweet green. And the suspension is over, huzzah! The Duds do the Reluctant Handshake. Hey, they get to be lumberjacks!

9:17: And my night goes spiraling down the drain as Hunter Hearst Racist comes out with his trusty sidekick A Guy Way Better at Wrestling And Promos Than HHH Will Ever Be In His Miserable Life. Blah blah blah Booker T doesn't deserve a World Title shot. A real champion doesn't attack someone from behind, says the man who has sneak attacked 50 billion people in his career, managed by the man who has sneak attacked 80 trillion people in his career. But wait, here comes Goldust to rebut! Lawler insinuates that Booker T might be in jail somewhere, just to irk me. He's not stuttering! He's referencing movie stuff like the old days! Deep down…there (ew), in the cock-cock-cockledoodledoos of his heart, he's scared! And here comes the stuttering. HHH and Flair are laughing! This is embarrassing on levels I'm not sure the WWF has reached since the Katie Vick thing. HHH does the stuttering thing (with DJ scratching to prove he's down with the street) and Goldust attacks! But simple math proves that this won't last long, and indeed a beatdown on Goldie begins. Pedigree…no! Here comes Booker T! He's fired up! Whoa, Flair just LAUNCHED himself at Booker and manages to pull him off, but not for long! Big leg lariat for the champ! Kick for Flair! HHH over the top rope! Flair begs for his life and all is right with the world. Axe ki…no, HHH gets him out. JR says "thank goodness"…why? Well, at least there wasn't any blatantly racist crap this week. See, if Goldust hadn't been stuttering (something I don't see paying off in any good way, btw), that segment might have actually been pretty good.

9:27: Tenshu: Wrath of Heaven boasts "30 authentic ninja weapons". Boy, for a secret society, we sure do know a lot about ninjas, don't we?

9:28: Ah, we're from St. Louis, I'm guessing the Kiel Center. HHH is mad, and he wants…well, not Booker T, Goldust. And here comes Maven to not exactly a thunderous ovation, but maybe his theme is obscuring it. And here's Rico with 3 Minute Warning, reminding us that he has gone in 6 months or so from the hottest (and dumbest) angle in the WWF to a midcarder with awesome sideburns and a so bad it's good theme song. Headlock reversed into a takedown by Rico, drop toe hold by Maven, and Rico goes into a headlock. Whip, reverse, elbow by Maven, scoop into a slam, armdrag, and fuck this wrestling crap, The Rock is here! Boy, think of all the incredible action we're missing seei…ah, back to the ring. Kick by Rico. I'm guessing the action we missed was not so incredible. Jamal gets a neck snap, Rico with a swank back kick. Rico's a martial arts artist now, eh? Well, for all I know, he might actually be and I never paid attention to JR talking about it before. Rico's dad, says JR, was a lounge singer in Vegas. So it's Rico Newton, then? Nice to see his pants were passed down from father to son. Rico works on the neck, demonstrating a psychology you might not expect from a time killing match like this. Maven fights back, but Rico gets a neckbreaker for 2. Jumping elbow to the neck, but a second rope elbowdrop misses. Maven goes to work on the left arm, doing some basic stuff. Second rope bulldog by Maven gets 2. Rosie cheats to give Rico the advantage, but Maven gets a backdrop for the 3! Maven gets himself out of Dodge as 3 Minute Warning and Rico rant and rave.

9:35: Terri's waiting for Austin…but HBK goes on into Austin's door! Why?

9:38: GTA: Vice City commercial reminds us that it's inferior to GTA III. Of course, the fact that they still have to run commercials for it kind of proves that.

9:39: Austin! He's jabberjawing with HBK…about the weather? And about this lumberjack crap - HBK's going to be a good team player. Austin's annoyed by this, and he brings up Jericho. HBK brings up The Rock, but Austin ain't afraid of no ghosts…or, uh, no half-Samoan superstars. The fans are desperately trying to chant WHAT in rhythm, but Austin isn't doing his usual cadences. We're reminded of the Hurricane's incredible win last week, along with Austin's perfect record against Rocky at WM. Well, that was a segment.

9:41: It's the Rock and Teddy Long! Apparently Teddy Long doesn't know how to read! Who's on the cover of WWF Magazine…but The Hurricane! It's the story of the Hurricane, the man the authorities came to blame - sorry, Dylan moment. Teddy Long's on Rocky's side; this is a conspiracy by the man! Rodney Mack shows up for no real reason! Oh wait, he's Hurricane's opponent tonight. Rocky seems dubious. This is not at the awesomeness we've seen from Rocky in the last few weeks, but the night is young, friends!


9:46: WM Moment: The $15,000 Bodyslam challenge, won by Andre. Hey, if anyone wants to get me a tape of the Andre/Stan Hansen match, I'll be your best friend!

9:48: Here comes The Hurricane to a pretty good pop! I really hope they start phasing out the goofier stuff in Helms' gimmick, so that, in the crazy off chance that they might be trying to push him somewhere, he might look like a real player and not a goon with a ugly costume who got lucky against The Rock. And here's Rodney Mack with Theodore Long, in a checked suit that looks like the lines were drawn on with chalk. Rodney Mack looks sort of like a beefier Black Thought. Hurricane tries some shoulderblocks, to no effect. A flying clothesline gets the job done. Long distracts, Mack takes advantage. Big fat powerslam gets 2. Into the post, flying shoulderblock, Mack barks for some reason. Elbowdrops, 2 count. Hurricane comes back with a neckbreaker, crowd is quiet. Ugly rana into a Mutoh Kick! Top rope crossbody gets 2. Helms needs to get his rhythm back and cut out some sloppiness. Second rope neckbreaker, and it's chokeslam time? No, here's The Rock! DQ as Rock eats some punches, but comes back with the DDT into his SUPERDUPER kip up. Hurricane over the top rope, crotched on the railing. Punch to the nuts, just for fun. He's got a chair! Shots to the Hurricane, and he stands victorious over Helms. So I'm torn on this…it kind of makes Hurricane look like a pansy, but Rock needed to do it to reinforce his heelosity. So I guess it works out? Well, next week will be a better indicator of where Helms is going.

9:56: Ten bucks to whoever tells me what the hell Basic is about.

9:58: Wasn't there a triple threat Women's Title match last WM? With those same 3 contestants? Or maybe Jackie was in there or something. When JR doesn't really understand why a match is being booked, this is a good indicator that this match doesn't make sense. We get highlights from Trish on MadTV, which I seriously cannot believe is still on the air. "The most reluctant tag team partners in existence", eh? I guess JR's Overexaggeration-O-Meter switch is still stuck on "high". Lawler says "puppies" to remind us that he's a sad old bastard. It'll be Trish and Jazz vs Victoria and Steven, who is about as womanly as a guy can get. GOD NO NOT THE SONG FROM HELL. Victoria channels Gollum as the WWF pretends that they're really putting any effort into this angle and Victoria badly acts. Jazz and Victoria start. Tieup, "I'M NOT SCARED OF YOU!!!!!", punch, yell, my head hurts. Powerslam by Victoria for 2. Goldust has accepted HHH's challenge, and Lawler gives us a terrible approximation of stuttering. Jazz yells something I'm not 100% sure is in English. Slam by Jazz gets 2. Punches, and one to the gut by Jazz. And Trish gets tagged in. Eye rake by the champ, chop, choke. Victoria tells Trish she hates her. Clothesline by Trish gets 2. I really want Victoria to yell "TRIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSH" like Stephanie used to do, just so I can feel the sensation of my ears trying to tear themselves from my head. Can you tell I'm not too into this match? Standing moonsault gets 2 for Victoria, that was a good move. Stevie comes in (with those horrible pink tights), but Trish pushes Victoria into Stevie's crotch, eventually. Top rope Frankensteiner on Stevie, but Victoria nails her and tosses her by the hair. Twice. That must really hurt. Kick right to the face. I thought St. Louis was a hot wrestling crowd town? Well, I guess they might be if given a better show. Stevie gets crotched, and Trish drags herself over to Jazz for the tag…but Jazz gives her a short-arm, and off she goes. Well, they're putting effort into it, at least. Stevie pulls out D-Lo's Sky-Hi! Victoria's reverse neckbreaker thing (Widow's Peak) gets the pin. Chair in the ring…and here comes Jeff Hardy! Crotch legdrop on Stevie! Poor Stevie and his poor crotch. Victoria tries to pull Jeff off, but through crazy machinations Stevie gets tossed, and Jeff goes up for a Swanton, but to further a theme for the night, Victoria is pulled out of the way. All these cheap teases aren't going to help you none, WWF! By the way, that segment lasted ELEVEN MINUTES. Not thirty, not forty-five, not fifteen hours, ELEVEN MINUTES. ELEVEN.

10:10: My take on Angle wrestling with a bad neck: he sure as shit better know what he's doing. Hey, Limp Bizkit will be performing live at Wrestlemania! This ought to help them as much as it did Motorhead and Saliva!

10:13: Valparaiso and Iowa are duking it out in the NIT. I really think that the NIT should just retire itself - it seems to lose prestige by the year. Remember when colleges would make it a point to play in both the NIT and NCAAs? Nowadays, you'd have to be insane to want to lower yourself to NIT level. I'd go on about this, but even I'm struggling to find a reason to care about it.

10:15: Video package about Wrestlemania, featuring HBK. We get highlights of all his appearances ("nobody has ever outperformed Shawn Michaels in a big match situation", how true indeed, JR). There's HBK's defeat of Bret Hart in the most overrated match in the history of professional wrestling. And there's HBK in WM XIV, in a match that I still have no idea how he managed to finish. Nice little segue from that to his WM opponent, Chris Jericho. Jericho gives HBK a sorta verbal blowjob, including Jericho wanting to be HBK as a kid. That was a nice little serious moment from Jericho, far better than the usual yelling crap we get from him (a point I'm sure Albert Ching will take me to task for).

10:20: Hey, the encore performance on Game Show Network of the guy that beat Press Your Luck's board system and won a shitload of cash and prizes. Unfortunately, thanks to me having to recap this damned show, I missed the part where he actually won all the money.

10:22: Stacy Keibler is mentioned - I guess she's still hurt? Here comes Canada's Sort Of Finest, Jericho and Christian. Jericho is going to be on Kilborn's show, where hopefully Kilborn will ask him smarmy questions and smile like a jackass. Just think, the man peaked with Sportscenter, and now he's on a crappy CBS talk show while The Daily Show made itself into the best show on cable. And here's Test, to introduce his secret tag team partner…and oh crap I should've known it'd be Big Lump O'Flesh himself. Christian gets tossed, and Test press slams Jericho onto him. Steiner works them on the outside. Test is showing some fire, at least. Crowd reaction to Steiner is mixed (JR says "great", but we all know not to believe him, don't we, kids?). Steiner throws a clothesline, then kisses his bicep before dropping an elbow. Pushups! Kick to the gut! Double teams from the, uh, good guys. Jericho cheapshots Test, Test retaliates, and a Christian leg lariat turns the tide. Jericho goes to work, and lets us know that the world is his own personal kingdom. Back comes Christian, and Test nails him with a clothesline. Back comes Steiner. Powerslam on Christian! Chops for Jericho! Press slam on Christian, spinning belly to belly for Jericho. Suplex on Christian for 2. This pace has now become, shall we say, methodical. Christian chokes out the ref, allowing Jericho to hit Steiner in what remains of his balls. That was a neat bit of cheating. Jericho mocks Steiner's body building routine, to a little bit of cheers. Chops away! Jericho jumps himself into a overhead belly to belly. Tes in, clotheslines. Baaaaaaaack body drop. Big clothesline on Christian. Jericho boots Test in the face, but runs into a tilt-a-whirl. Powerbomb, no, stuff happens, pump handle slam reversed, Christian gets knocked out, pump handle slam hits, Christian pulls Test out, Test chases him, Jericho nails him, Lionsault misses, Steiner hits Jericho with a belly to belly, Test goes for a powerbomb and nails it good, Christian saves Jericho, Steiner tosses Christian out, Christian goes after Stacy, Steiner grabs him and flings Christian into the steps, Stacy gets knocked by Christian into Steiner's arms, they have a moment, Test sees it, and Jericho rolls up Test for the pin. Best wrestling sequence of the night so far. Test gives us "oh so disappointed" to his valet. And here's Booker giving Goldie a pep talk! World Title match next!

10:36: And here comes the champ. Some dork has a flashing HHH sign - now come on, why would you spend your precious time making something like that? The spit roar has rapidly become the most impressive thing HHH does while in a ring these days. Goldust comes out, with Booker T there to provide moral support in the George "the Animal" Steele mold. This is a non-title matchup, so HHH is going to probably win anyway. JR calls Safeco "Enron Field", providing a bit of amusement. Goldust nails HHH with a good shot on the jaw. Punches stagger the champ, and Goldust is looking good. Butt bump by Goldust! Cheap shot turns the tide, and the pace slows down considerably. Whip, reverse, baaaaaack body drop. Goldust gets himself rammed into the post shoulder first. And now he says a how-do-you-do to another post. Armbar takedown gets 2. HHH goes to work on the arm, as the announcers laud HHH's incredible ability to plan a match, whatever the hell that means. Goldust fights out, and HHH hits a spinebuster as JR mentions Arn Anderson. Taunting to Booker. Goldust fights back, but a knee stops that. Whip, Goldust boots him in the face, comeback by HHH, Pedigree reversed into a bridge for 2, Goldust hits something, slugfest, Goldust hits some clotheslines, and gets the cool "slide down and pop a guy in the face when he's bending over" move. Reverse atomic drop and clothesline gets two. Goldust is getting a nice bit of offense. Goldust is sent to the outside, Flair tries to cheat, and Booker whips his ass for his problems…and a "fan" hits him with a crutch! It's Randy Orton! Presumably he's back to 25% or whatever. Goldust gets a bulldog as the crowd continues to buzz. Ten punch count on HHH in the corner, and he sets up for Shattered Dreams…but Goldust's "affliction" pains him, and HHH comes back with a high knee, and the Pedigree ends a disappointing match. There are some real dorky fans in the front row happy to see HHH win.

10:46: Oh God, who gives a shit what Fred Durst has to say about Wrestlemania? I mean, really, any of you out there?

10:49: This Jack Nicholson/Adam Sandler movie is either going to rule so hard or just disappoint the hell out of me. I don't foresee a middle ground.

10:51: The Rock's here to serenade Bischoff! I wonder who signed his guitar? Bischoff makes a move to touch the guitar, and Rock says NAY - this guitar is signed by WILLIE NELSON! The Rock proposes a Raw concert: "An Evening With The Rock"! I'd be down with it - but Rocky ixnays it. Hey, profanity! St. Louis gets lambasted by the People's Champ. "It'd give the People's Penis a heart attack!" Instead, Sacramento (and CRZ!) would get the preferential Rock singing treatment. The Rock gives Bischoff some advice: take Morley with him, make it a no DQ match, and wait for the cavalry (i.e. Rocky) to arrive. Rocky was embarrassed last week, and nobody does that to him. "Another Monday night, and you ain't got to worry/Austin's a thug and he ain't got no class/And just before the night is over/The Rock will whip his ass/I SAID WHAT/The Rock will whip his ass/I SAID WHAT/I SAID THE ROCK WILL WHIP YOUR ASS!" See, I TOLD you way at the beginning that the night was young, and the Rock delivers the awesome goods. So now the lumberjack thing is off (great, way to build it up during the show with the HBK thing), I guess. We get a rundown of the Wrestlemania card, which they've actually sort of set! And here comes Austin! We've got 8 minutes for this, so it's going to probably stink!

11:00: We have all of 5 minutes left for this, unless the WWF got permission to go 10 over this time. And here comes that there Bad Motherfucker. THIS wrestling crowd seems happy as hell to see him! Oooh, Wrestlemania press conference tomorrow at the ESPNZone. Here comes Bischoff with Morley - Bischoff looking like the world's ugliest, whitest, paunchiest dark ninja. Bischoff runs, and Austin prefers to stand his ground and wait for the prey to come to him. Well, so much for that, here comes Austin to chase! Morley stands in his way - clothesline! Stomps for the Chief! Bischoff tries to use reason, and trips trying to backpedal. Austin levels him with a punch, back into the ring we go. Stomping a mudhole, walking it dry. Austin pulls out…the Walls of Jericho? Morley keeps trying to interfere and Austin won't let him. Into the turnbuckle, punch, chop, Austin goes to stomp him, and Morley finally gets a low blow. Bischoff stomps and kicks him - and Austin actually has to sell for him. Those kicks look like they wouldn't flatten a blade of grass. Austin is not amused, and stomps away again. Morley eats a right hand, Stunner on Bischoff! Morley comes in, goes over the top, and here's Rock. ROCK COLD STUNNER ON AUSTIN!!!!!!!!! Bischoff goes for the pin…TWO ONLY! Rock gives us "crazed", back in, stomps, and it's time for TMEMISE, but Austin moves! Punches! Clothesline sends Rock over the top! Stunner for Morley! Stunner for Bischoff! 1, 2, 3! Rock comes back in, Austin Salute while Austin has his back turned, ROCK BOTTOM!!!!!!!! PLAY HIS INCREDIBLY COOL EVIL THEME! ROCK HAS HIMSELF SOME BEER! He takes a sip, talking some trash as he does so. Wow, surprisingly womanly sips from a manly man like The Rock - wait, it's mockery. Well, that's cool, then! And we're out! Gee, guess who saved the show again this week! And I'll see you next Monday! Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone!