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Author: Subject: Brand Split 2002
Flash
The Immortal One






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posted on 1-31-2017 at 07:02 PM Edit Post Reply With Quote
The last month or two of both shows leading up to Summer Slam have been kind of lackluster; obvious highlight being Angle capturing the title and his bromance coming to an end with Brock in a fairly heinous fashion- this time Brock playing the part of heel as he does a neat swerve in a cage match with Vince...

In a nutshell Brock was ambushed backstage by an unknown party- after strong arming Vince later in the night during their cage match (I can't remember what set it up... I think Brock lipping off to VKM) he kind of does the fainting thing- Angle was the ref and is all concerned, turning his back to call for help when Brock gets to his feet and attacks Kurt and allies with VKM- Seems Brock wasn't so keen on Angle capturing his title in the triple threat with Big Show last month- all in all nice swerve. Brock will later completely destroy the one legged Zach Gowan (who would do one of the nastier blade jobs of the era).

The rest of SD is kind of meh... Taker vs Albert, VKM and Steph' drama, Sable... ect. Eddie in the tag division is a highlight though, but more of a guy being the highlight and not him doing a whole lot. Oh, and Vince broke from his long standing blazer look for a stretch and wore nothing but Tommy Bahamas shirts for a while there... very casual look for the boss.

Raw is a bit messier... you've got the rise of Evolution (still missing Batista, who is on the shelf... I misremembered and had thought he was there from the start, guess not.), Goldberg destroying everyone while occasionally allying with HBK, and a returning Nash (who would do a Raw only mini feud with Jericho which would result in Nash getting his hair cut off) all leading up to the Elimination chamber where HHH would wrestle all of 3-4 minutes and retain his title (he tore his groin, and was sporting compression shorts during the match)- Goldberg would take a pretty brutal beat down post match at the hands of Flair, Orton, and HHH equipped with sledge hammer.

The other "highlight" of the last few months was the unmasking of Kane... in hindsight this wasn't as bad, or as uneven as I remembered it... Kane is such a bizarre character to try and keep grounded as he probably has a half a foot more in the whole spooky supernatural realm that Taker played in because of his back story- and to try and ground him as just a man with a mask fetish or at least some psychological problems at times flies in the face of the tormented burned up monster from hell... still, they kinda made it work as he would feud with former partner RVD, and Shane at the same time (Kane tombstoned Linda)... what maybe pulled away from this was that Shane was also feuding with Bischoff- who was busy perving on Linda in one of those cases where the story thus far has been Linda could fire Eric at any time, yet Eric thinks it's a good idea to break into her home and sexually assault her... this of course is just treated as typical heel stuff instead of how disturbing it actually was... kind of a case of that imaginary line that wrestling plays with being really overstepped and it going from believable heel stuff, to actual criminal acts- Linda would later go on to say that Bischoff should be punished- only for Vince to interrupt and say that he actually invited Eric into their home... again, apparently with the intent of sexually assaulting his wife... yeah, bad stuff.

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First 9
The Great One






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posted on 2-1-2017 at 05:24 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I feel it's criminal you didn't highligt Christian's transformation into the man who fight for his peeps. Such a forgettable little catchphrase but Christian got all the possible mileage out of it.
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Flash
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posted on 2-1-2017 at 10:38 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I did whiff on Christian; my bad and I'll make amends...

Christian was definitely one of the high points of Raw- as I touched on above he'd really been hitting his stride with Jericho, but he also had some fantastic Rock's biggest fanboy turned people's champion heir apparent... which of course gave birth to not only a whole new look as he ditched the long hair and shirt, but also found a way to turn various moments of neglect or slight into a major league tantrum (he was left off of Summer Slam... which given that really just Brock/Angle and the EC were great matches, and the Bischoff/Shane match was your "entertainment" segment was criminal... they should have made time for him)... His constant clashes with Austin (who would bequeath the Creepy Little Bastard moniker on him) are also quite entertaining, but they kind of put Jericho more front and centre in that battle... Christian did have a nice match with Jericho and RVD for his IC title where he managed to retain, and then as Raw geared up for it's long stretch with no PPV (this was back when they rotated months) we get a quite excellent free-per-view ladder match between RVD and the people's champ; which sadly ends with Christian dropping the title... but hey; he closed out the show in a singles match, which in the era of your top guys dominating at least 3 segments a show and always the go home segment, that was quite an accomplishment.

*Kane continues his rampage- which as we all remember included electrifying Shane's testicles with a car battery, which was just one of many back and forth attacks the two would share en route to a last man standing match at Unforgiven... worth watching for even just for Shane's crazy jump from the top of the titantron... I'm only an episode or two post Unforgiven and it would appear that the feud is continuing; curious to see how they top their last match as I cannot recall.

*Hurricane and Rosie the S.H.I.T. continue to provide some fun comedy bits... I'm actually surprised that the WWE never put out a WWE's funniest moments DVD... maybe a network spot one day? If they do, then the super-duo would probably have a spot on there or two.

*Bischoff used to be a highlight of the show for a bit there because he was just so damned smarmy and different from the McMahon's... but since they've dived into this Austin co-GM thing it's gotten to be a bit too much... the odd funny spot here or there, but they both get 3-4 segments a show, every show... you even get stuff like Coach and Al Snow stealing JR and King's jobs and having matches with them... I mean it's fine entertainment segment fodder, but it at times dominates the show, which is too much.

*Goldberg would capture the title from HHH at Unforgiven in a match that was pretty much what you would expect- the stip was career vs title... HHH was still hurt and wearing the compression shorts, so it was more brawling, some wrestling/rest hold stuff, and then Goldberg hit's his spots to take the title. The feud gets a bit more interesting after Goldberg takes the title when HHH puts a $100k bounty on Bill's head- which makes him a target from various wrestlers back stage at random moments, or even during matches... nice random element where even if Goldberg talk, he can at least be put in an interesting spot where he is potentially in peril while still being dominant.

*Some débuts on Raw in the last little bit, but going from a class of guys that featured Lesnar, Orton, Batista, and Cena it was a steep drop off this year... They continue to try and push Rodney Mack and seemed to give up on him subbing Mark Henry in as Teddy Long's token black guy in the man holds us down feud he has going with no one. La Resistance (and later joined by Rob Conway) are very much product of the post 9/11 world where once France didn't jump right on board with invading Iraq made them ripe targets for heel work.. it's pretty classic if unexciting stuff... put down America, get booed, some face goes over you and then panders with some love it or leave it patriotic stuff... They've also recently tried somewhat pushing Maven again... although it's kind of clear that they just didn't know what to do with him, and débuted a new tag-team in Lance Cade (or was it Garrison Cade then?) and Mark Jindrak... it's funny, but HHH even said in some interview I remember seeing or reading that Jindrak was all set to be the fourth Evolution member to the point that they even filmed some of the titantron entry videos with him in it; Vince seemed to change his mind, and Batista is history... That's what... 7 guys that they only got mostly jobber and lower mid-card stuff out of? Maybe 2003 could make a case for worst talent class... I wonder if you could tie that to the brand split, like they realized how one joint roster was too crowded, but when split into two shows it was a bit too thin and some guys got called up... Oh, also forgot, Heidenreich also popped by in this last episode I watched.

*Weird little running tally, but check out the last several months of title matches.... (in backwards order, Raw side only)

Unforgiven: Goldberg vs HHH
Summer Slam: Goldberg, Nash, Jericho, Orton, HBK, HHH
Bad Blood: Nash vs HHH
Insurrection: Nash vs. HHH
Judgement Day: Nash vs HHH
Backlash- no title match for Raw, but the main event was Goldberg vs Rock, with a lead in match of Nash, Booker T, HBK vs HHH, Flair, and Jericho
Wrestlemania: Booker vs HHH
No way Out: Steiner vs HHH
Rumble: Steiner vs HHH

I know that by this point WCW was already almost 2 years dead and buried, but it's still odd to think that Vince basically headlined Raw, had a title match featuring, or booked a major feud at the top of the show around guys better associated with WCW for a 10 month streak... I mean yeah, his boy HHH ultimately went over in almost every case, but Vince really will push anyone if they'll make him money.

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The Great One






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posted on 2-4-2017 at 09:51 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Was the US Title match at SummerSlam not a highlight? I always remembered loving that match because all 4 guys were always doing shit with a frenetic pace as they all battled for an opening.

Also, what are your thoughts on Orton vs HBK at Unforgiven? I think this was Orton's first big singles match.

[Edited on 2-4-2017 by First 9]

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posted on 2-5-2017 at 12:39 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
I've kinda opted to binge through the Raw side, and then go to the SD side... kind of go back and forth a month at a time (or thereabouts) as it fits a bit better and let's me keep track of stuff, so I'll probably come back around to the SD side shortly and comment a bit more in depth upon viewing.

*For the US title I probably short changed myself on that one... I remember from what I watched of it being enjoyable enough, but I still just can't bring myself to giving anything with Benoit in my full attention.

*I know the big argument against Orton was that they pushed him down out throats thus soiling him for all of time but he's actually been fairly well built to date... for example:

*Comes in as a blue chip prospect on the SD- gets some mid card wins, tags around a bit and I can't remember if he was packaged off to Raw first, or if he hurt himself and then was packaged off to Raw.

*The Orton updates were very well done- interruptions and cockiness in such a way that you grew to hate him like you would a good heel.

*Joins/forms Evolution- participates in various beatdowns and such, but still begs off from regular action because of his shoulder not being 100%.

*He's in a good spot at this point- not muscle, not the lieutenant, more the cocky little shit that hides behind the bigger kids lipping off, but also a guy who can handle himself well enough, but not the extent that if a major face needs to clear the ring RKO can't be sacrificed.

*HHH being hurt kind of stalls Evolution a bit (ditto for Batista missing from action with an injury) but it does give Orton and Flair some one on one time which helps Orton to develop... The legend killer hook starts working, but sometimes it's over the top like him taking out Fabulous Moolah... but other stuff like knocking Foley down some stairs was very well done... he's a spoiled vicious kid.

*Get's put in the 6 man EC match... great spot for him as he's becoming a go to guy, but he's definitely not painted as one of the likely winners... he's there as HHH flunky, but he throws out the "What if..." vibe... like he'll do his job, knows his place, but clearly has aspirations of a championship in his future.

*The HBK match at Unforgiven was pretty good... little by the numbers; Orton wasn't where he's at now with the little flourishes, but he looked credible with Flair at his side cheating his way to a win via some brass knuckles.

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posted on 2-6-2017 at 08:27 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Working my way through the Smackdown side of things now as we are post Summer Slam; Kurt Angle is the WWE champion after making Brock tap out in a well done match at Summer Slam, and Eddie is your US champ after retaining over Benoit, Tajiri, and Rhyno in a fatal four-way.

Just to catch up on the lay of the land beyond the titles you've got Angle as a massively over face, with Taker as your resident legend/#2 face, and then Benoit kicking around the mid-card. Lower down the card than that you've got Mysterio holding down the light heavyweight championship. Zack Gowan is still kicking (eww.. poor choice of words) around as the plucky underdog/guy who Brock beats the shit out of in brutal ways to stay as a massive monster heel. Edge is on the shelf with an injury.

Over on the deeper heel side you've got Brock bobbing around... Brock just shouldn't talk though... the whole "I'm a monster" thing works as an exclamation of shock, or a metaphor, not something a guy runs around saying about himself over and over... also the extended beat downs on Zack are heinous for about the first couple of minutes, but then generally go one to long... got it, beating up a one legged man makes you a monster, next?

Vince is pretty front and centre, but really not needed... I mean outside of the swerve with Brock's heel turn his last feud was against Gowan; someone who's shelf life was probably never going to be more than the novelty he was for the first month (and then subsequent cannon fodder)... I think you could have gotten a mid-carder over in the same spot... but hey, maybe Vince = Ratings at that point, hence having him on both shows at varying points... added bonus he doesn't have to pay himself anything... bit too much Vince at this point.

Big Show and Albert are kind of kicking around as your generic heels... Big Show gets attention having been champ within the calendar year (or close to it) and Albert is... a project at this point... he's been saddled with Sable, and he moves well for a big guy (plus we know from his later backstage roles he currently holds he was probably well behaved behind the scenes), but the generic monster gimmick (especially when Brock and Show get better spots) just wasn't enough to wash the stink of a pierced hirsute tattoo artist gimmick off of him.... I might have said this before, but there's probably an interesting thread out there about guys who were ruined by a gimmick.

Eddie comes out post-Summer Slam to a huge face reaction courtesy of SD coming to us from his home town El Paso... and just like that heel Eddie is gone... I want to tread carefully here because I don't want to sound anti-Hispanic, but the promo's that are half in Spanish just never connected with me (I am clearly in the minority especially in his home town where bilingualism is clearly very high) ditto for the whole Latino swagger (or whatever you want to call it) character... not saying it's a bad gimmick (clearly it wasn't), just it never resonated with me up here in Ontario where it's just not a thing... In saying that, Eddie is immensely talented in the ring, and the whole dastardly cheating bit was well done... The brand-split was definitely good to Eddie, and while guys like RVD stalled, and Brock was already on the fast track, Eddie represents maybe the first real new star to come out of the brand split.

Speaking of new stars, Cena is getting a bit of an uneven push... he gets TV time on SD each week, and post WM has feuded with Lesnar for the title, and gotten wins over Taker, Benoit, and Guerrero, but was left off of the Summer Slam card and Vengeance before that... just some uneven booking... or, maybe something the WWE should look at embracing a bit more of... that not everyone fights every month and night so it's a bigger deal when they do... Any-who... Cena comes out to spoil Eddie's home coming party and the two are off to a pretty decent feud courtesy of Cena stealing the wheel off of Eddie's ride, and not a bad free-per-view match.

Some touchpoints....

*Really dig the SD opening at this time; gives you clean profile shots of the roster and if you are just tuning in for the first time it kind of makes you go hey I want to see that guy...

*SD definitely suffers from some Vince-itis at times as well and some uneven booking, but on the whole is a better show... They did some cool backstage close up shot promo's to build up Taker vs Angle for the title on another free-per-view match... just simple close up story telling that was well done, sold each guys POV on the match, and set the tone for a big match right out of the gate.

*SD commentary is better... for all the talk of JR being the greatest ever on commentary, him and King at this point were almost doing a parody of themselves at this point in their careers... Cole and Taz are genuinely putting matches and guys over, trying to tell a story.

*Raw goes bigger with the entertainment segments, but SD seems more prepared to take chances on talent... case in point, JBL's highpoint is him and Faarooq got a new APA door... less than a year later he'll be champ, Eddie will be champ in what six months, and Cena main eventing WM within 2 years or so

*The long gaps between PPV's on off months really works, each show will have mini-feuds they build over a couple of weeks with a big match, and most shows tend to have one or two big anchor matches... works better than the meaningless PPV's we get every 3 weeks under the current brand split.

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posted on 2-12-2017 at 08:21 AM Edit Post Reply With Quote
Smackdown get's the short month this time out as we get No Mercy en route to the combine Survivor Series PPV. By this point SD has really found the formula for what works- plenty of good free-per-view matches, or at the least 1-2 good "anchor" matches to frame the show around, some great promo work (the backstage monologue style really works for the big matches) with plenty of mid card stuff and other random elements to keep things clicking.

Really the only thing that doesn't work is the McDrama that permeates far too much of the show... in a nutshell Vince has, or is going insane- this includes manipulating various aspects of the show in the face of Stephanie's authority- he's got his side action Sable in tow more often than not- the breaking point between father and daughter is when Steph' books a chain match between Taker and Lesnar for the title (gimmick match which ultimately is just there to set up Vince vs Taker at Survivor Series)- So Vince books an I quit match between him and Steph'... They flip flop between Steph' being heartbroken that daddy has hit her, and Vince's insanity... throw in a dash of Linda (who will ultimately throw in the towel on behalf of Steph' meaning she is out of a job). Not a particularly good match, and watching Vince abuse women even in a fictitious story was not very good.

The feud then shifts over to Taker vs Vince leading into Survivor Series... brawling type buried alive match which ends with Kane showing up after dispatching Shane (who he was feuding with because Kane tombstoned his mom, and yet when dad Vince smacks around his sister and mother it gets little more than a pithy comment)... funnish match, which was probably used to give Taker a bit of time off so he could come back as the dead man again in lieu of the Big Evil/Biker Taker character he'd been rocking for the last few years. Vince does an absolutely sick blade job where he is literally leaving pools of blood all over the place.

No Mercy was also a fairly well built if at times unexciting card... on the better end you had Cena (heel) taking on Angle- nice match where Angle wins, but Cena comes across as a major ass kicker and Angle posing as Cena and doing his own freestyling was a highlight. Tajiri went over Mysterio for the CW title in a fun affair, and Benoit beat A-Train... Like I've said before A-train was clearly a project-push at this time... lot's of time, but he just never evolved beyond big bruising guy. Big Show beat Eddie for the US title in a feud that was equal parts Big Show being a racist and brutalizing Eddie (dropping him onto the hood of his tricked out truck) and Eddie doing stuff like feeding Show burritos that would give him diarrhoea... it was juvenile stuff, but pretty fun because Eddie was just so clever, and Big Show just sells the indignation and dickishness so well. Overall the PPV was a solid show, and one that was well used to kind of reset the stage as Eddie was a full on face, and Cena was on his way to being a face... Both the heel and face side were deep on the show (I'll go through Survivor Series separately to cover both shows.

Some Random thoughts....

*Best line was Shaniqua blaming her sudden appearance of breasts on JBL's clothesline from hell he delivered on her.

*Didn't realize that Brodus Clay's "Call your mamma" theme was actually Ernest the Cat Miller's first... honestly not sure how Miller kept finding work... the whole James Brown thing never resonated with me.

*Can't believe how homophobic and obscene (plenty of Dick and semen jokes) Cena's freestyling was... some of it was pretty funny, but amazed it passed by censors.

*Paul Heyman is now your SD GM.... let the awesomeness being.

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