Monday, March 06, 2006

WWE Smackdown live show review (Sydney Superdome, March 3)

CALL me overly sensitive, but Rey Mysterio’s ongoing obsession with Eddie Guerrero is creeping me out.
While I understand he’s being forced to do what he does on TV and the PPVs by Vince McMahon, I don’t understand why he needs to continue this crap at live events.
This wasn’t a heartfelt tribute to a dead friend for the benefit of grieving fans. This was just plain sick.
At last Friday’s Smackdown house show in Sydney, Rey came to the ring with Bobby Lashley for their tag team titles bout against MNM with an Eddie shirt wrapped round his head. OK, not a good start, I thought to myself.
I felt a bit uncomfortable when he pointed to the sky and the Pavlovian crowd chanted, “Eddie! Eddie!”
Sitting back with my arms folded, I was distinctly weirded out when, while in a sleeper hold, Rey used the Eddie’s trademark wiggle to power out of the hold.
After the match, I felt it was going over the top when he grabbed the T-shirt and an Eddie sign from the crowd, put them in the middle of the ring, knelt and kissed them.
And I thought I was watching a live stage production of Brokeback Mountain when Rey kissed the giant screen on the entrance ramp as an Eddie Guerrero music video played on it.
OK, maybe the music video’s the giveaway that everything was orchestrated by the WWE brass, but where’s Rey Mysterio’s humanity? His sense of common decency?
Is the pay cheque he gets from Vince McMahon each week worth the disrespect he shows Eddie and his family with these fake nightly “tributes”?
Maybe it is to Rey. But I don’t have to like it…or a man who lacks the moral strength to stand up for himself and say, “Enough is enough.”
* Hey, don’t get me wrong. Despite my squeamishness with the whole Eddie thing, the tag bout was the best match of the evening. Rey and Lashley make a great team. Lashley was portrayed as a total monster and got over huge with the crowd. He has a ton of charisma and could be a major player if handled properly. A lot of his success had to do with MNM who are awesome Midnight Express-style bumping heels. The fans didn’t even mind the cheap DQ ending as, after the bell, Rey got to hit the 619 on Mercury, Nitro and Melina (pictured above), followed by Lashley giving one of the guys (not sure which one) the Dominator.
* Funaki and Noble attempted to have the worst cruiserweight match in history (otherwise known as “WWE-style wrestling”), but rescued it in the final few minutes with some entertaining action including Funaki’s leaping off the top rope and hitting a tornado DDT in mid-air for the crowd-pleasing pin.
* JBL (with Jillian Hall) came out to do a promo as he couldn’t wrestle (courtesy of a legit hand injury thanks to Chris Benoit at the previous week’s Smackdown TV tapings). He worked the crowd pretty well with the usual anti-rugby, “Sydney’s holding the Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras this weekend” banter, but it was hard to hear as the acoustics in the back fuckin’ row of the Superdome isn’t good. After singing a horrible version of God Bless America, JBL was interrupted by the arrival of The Boogeyman. JBL threw Jillian to the wolves and fled the ring, but before Boogeyman could do anything to her, Orlando Jordan hit the ring and the next match was on. This turned out to be a 30-second squash, which is probably the most effective use possible for Boogeyman (and Orlando to be honest). Boogeyman was pretty over with the crowd and I kinda dig his gimmick.
* WWE’s most underrated tag team, Paul London and Brian Kendrick, defeated Kid Kash and Cruiserweight champ Gregory Helms in a solid opener. Kash got lots of heat with the crowd. Kendrick and London do some nice double-team moves including their finishing move, the double-team spinning heel kick into the Flatliner on Kash.* I’m a huge Road Warriors mark, but it was sad to see Animal live. The guy is soooo fat. Despite the fact he and Matt Hardy hadn’t split on TV yet, they paired off for a singles match anyway, much to the confusion of many of the fans. Matt was mega-over as he came to the ring while Animal refused to play heel. They almost immediately did a fake leg injury with Matt and thought we were in for another tired, worked-injury, we’ll-end-the-match-early, Fit Finlay-masterminded messes. But I was wrong. They actually faked the injury so Matt would have an excuse not to do any high-flying moves against Animal, who’s clearly too old to take them anymore. So Animal worked over the “injured” leg and eventually pinned Matt while holding the ropes. It was a glorified squash that totally killed the crowd. Boy, the WWE brass must really hate Matt Hardy.
* Pleasant surprise of the evening? Finlay destroying Sylvan in the post-intermission match. I’m a big Finlay fan, so it was nice to see the Irish brawler destroy the pretty-boy musclehead.
* As a Chris Benoit mark, I still can’t quite believe it whenever I see him win a match (I guess that’s what happens when years of WCW have conditioned you to expect him to constantly lose). Anyway, it was nice to see him retain the US belt by making Booker T submit to the Crippler Crossface. Not a great match, but I put that down to the fact that Booker’s still injured.* The fatal four-way was pretty good considering it had Undertaker and Mark Henry in it. Undertaker scored the biggest pop for the night and his entrance was spectacular. Orton got a lot of favourable response early, but quickly turned the crowd with his cowardly antics whenever ’Taker went after him. The four all hit their trademark spots – except for Henry who doesn’t have any. Henry and ’Taker were battling outside the ring when Angle pinned Orton after the Angle Slam. Afterwards, as the crowd was leaving, ’Taker hung around waiting for a groggy Orton to recover, but he was attacked by JBL, who took a chokeslam and a tombstone. ’Taker then tombstoned Orton.
FINAL THOUGHTS: This is the first time I can ever recall the complete absence of divas on a WWE live card – no women’s match, no chicks doing lingerie/bikini showdowns, nothing. What a refreshing change.

WWE Smackdown (3/3/06, Sydney Superdome, 16,480): Paul London & Brian Kendrick b Kid Kash & Gregory Helms, Road Warrior Animal b Matt Hardy, Funaki b Jamie Noble, WWE Tag Team Titles: Bobby Lashley & Rey Mysterio b MNM – DQ, Finlay b Sylvan, WWE US Title: Chris Benoit b Booker T, World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle b Undertaker, Randy Orton & Mark Henry in a fatal four-way