By Scott Bowden
Scott Bowdens Kentucky Fried Rasslin
2008-02-22 - KFR Heat Lamp
KFR Heat Lamp: Scott Bowden breaks down NO WAY OUT and rejoices over the Andy Kaufman wrestling action figure
Way to Go: Last Sunday's WWE PPV, NO WAY OUT, was a good show, with some nice, sound storytelling to set up WRESTLEMANIA. A shame the opening bout was such a throwaway given the talent involved. High-profile title matches ending in under 10 minutes still doesn't seem right to me, and we had two on this show. In Rey Mysterio's case, it's understandable, given the injury to his bicep, but I think I would have cut Chavo and C.M. Punk's bout to give a little more time to Ric Flair's bout with Ken Kennedy, the RAW Chamber and John Cena vs. Randy Orton, all of which needed about five more minutes. Even the RAW Elimination Chamber seemed to rush the ending sequences toward the end. As I wrote last week, this was a bloated show. Imagine how tight things would have been if Rey hadn't been hurt -- because they definitely would have gone a bit longer if he'd been healthy.
Lie, Cheat, Offend: Not sure who's responsible for the spot with Punk and Guerrero, in which Chavo taunted his foe with Eddie's dance and then the challenger responding in kind, capped off by the Three Amigos suplex sequence. The crowd shit all over this and rightfully so.
Punk’D: That ill-conceived, ill-fated Eddie spot with Chavo and Punk had to be a rib, right?
You'd have thought they would have learned by now. They tried that same crap with Rey previously -- thinking the crowd would buy it as a tribute -- and the crowd hated it. So there was no way Punk was going to pull that off. And even though he's a heel, it does Chavo no favors either. It's cheap heat -- and even the fans who aren't familiar with that terminology smells shit when they see it. That said, it was too damn short but good for what it was. A nice opener, and I loved the shockingly clean finish. I'm guessing that since Orton vs. Cena was booked as a DQ, they wanted clean finishes only the rest of the way. Say what you want about today's wrestling, but I love how heel champions nowadays are booked to go over clean, unlike how NWA champs Harley Race and Ric Flair were booked in the '80s.
The Dead Rises to the Occasion: WWE avoided a potential disaster in the SMACKDOWN Chamber, wisely booking Batista and the Undertaker to anchor the event and then eliminating the dead weight of Big Vis and the Not-So-Great Khali in the early going. Batista looked a little sluggish at the outset, and combined with the apparently unplanned spot with 'Taker "crashing" through the unlocked cage door had things off to a shaky start.
RIP: ‘Taker lays Batista’s title hopes to rest.
Some damn good storytelling toward the end. Loved the spot and near fall with Finlay blasting 'Taker with the shillelagh. 'Taker was clearly the favorite heading in, so it was nice to see him subjected to some convincing near-eliminations. MVP took a bump from the top of one of holding chambers that put Flair's old staple bump for the top turnbuckle to shame ... just tremendous. The closing sequence added to the rivalry that's been well established between 'Taker and Batista, and I marked out big-time for the finish, which was booked perfectly. And it sets up a compelling bout with Edge for the World title on the big show.
Did somebody say, "Big Show"?: Good decision to save the Big Show's return on a PPV ... made the event and his reappearance seem more special. (And with me paying $50 for the HD broadcast, I want a special show, damn it.) Edge had just finished off Rey in a nothing bout (with a spot too similar to their Royal Rumble match for my liking) when Show hit the ring, stylin' and profilin' showing off his slimmed-down waist. Amazing how much younger these guys look when they return from being off the road for months. Show looked about three years younger than the last time we saw him. I didn't like him acting a little goofy in the beginning, as I thought they did a decent job toward the end of his last stint in making him into a raging monster. Ah, but the ugly side did emerge, attacking the injured Rey for taking away from his moment. I like Show having a quick temper, a mean streak.
The execution of the angle with Floyd Mayweather Jr. was fantastic -- it came off like a shoot, with a real hint of danger to it. Floyd's facial expressions, giving Show the cold, hard stare were priceless. The whole thing would have been ruined if Floyd had shown even a trace of a smile -- he didn't ... he was all business. I wish we'd see more stuff like this. Floyd potatoed Show a couple of times, busting Show's nose and mouth, which was an amazing visual. The only complaint: I believe Show was stunned by the amount of blood, and he appeared lost after he chased away Mayweather and his entourage. It would have been great if Show had flown into a rage instead of quietly walking to the back with Shane McMahon. Even worse: Show appeared to be talking under his breath, quietly asking Shane about how he looked. That was my take, anyway. Right now, the supposed plan in a singles bout with Mayweather vs. Show, which will be fascinating to see how it's booked. I'm thinking they may add another wrestler to team with Mayweather just to play it safe.
Finish Off: Here's what I hoped to see from this bout (which I wrote two weeks ago): "The match with Kennedy at NO WAY OUT has potential. I'd love to see a bloody, beaten-down Flair refusing to quit, with the concerned ref (preferably Charles Robinson, Little Naitch) struggling with his emotions and threatening to stop the bout and award it to Kennedy. Perhaps with McMahon at ringside screaming at Robinson to stop the bout, but he can't bring himself to do it as Flair's longtime number-one fan. And then Flair catches Kennedy hot-dogging and wins with an inside cradle." Well, at least they had the right referee. Largely forgettable. While it's hard to argue with a clean submission in the middle of the ring, I liked my finish better. My finish would have kept Kennedy strong, while at the same time added some much-needed drama to this Flair program: The Nature Boy was THIS close to losing.
Instead, the Kennedy submission came from nowhere and came off like a gimme to Flair, not a hard-fought win to save his career. Ah, well. At the very least, Michaels should be able to carry Flair (I feel awful typing those words) to a good bout in what will be the 16-time champ's last WRESTLEMANIA bout ... until he comes out of retirement in a few years. They have a few different directions they can go to build up the match between Flair and HBK, given their history, but I'm thinking Flair asks for the match, perhaps saying the only way he'll know if he still has IT is if he can beat Shawn Michaels. HBK, in honor of his real-life hero, hesitantly agrees to the bout out of respect. Come match time, Michaels doesn't want to win, but he feels like he has to win. Great drama. Instead, McMahon may pop back into the storyline and "force" the two to wrestle. (If so, the Chairman of the Board will do so without uttering the word "wrestle.") Again, you can't screw this up, no matter what. Can they?
Screwed: Decent bout with Orton and Cena for the title. Cena looked a little off, or maybe it was the high definition betraying him, especially with his punches. Orton's building a true heel presence, but he's still not quite there for me. They needed a way out (ahem), given the decision for a Triple Threat at MANIA, but hitting the ref for intentional DQ was about as uncreative a finish as they could possibly book. I like Cena a lot better in the chase-the-belt role ... one he may be playing for a while, as I smell a long HHH title reign coming.
Game Time: This bout was better from start-to-finish than its SMACKDOWN! counterpart, a given with the talent involved. A bit sad to see Jericho as an afterthought this early in his return. A heel Jericho feuding with Jeff Hardy would do wonders for both guys. I'm assuming both men are headed for the Money In the Bank bout at MANIA, which would be a great opportunity to kick-start their rivalry, as both have a history with ladder matches. Brutal-looking spot with Umaga nearly crushing Jericho's head, appearing to provide just the right amount of protection .... almost made up for the spot when Umaga clearly missed Jericho's head on a squat down on the Chamber mesh floor, which the crowd picked up on. I'm sure Vince had words for the referee afterward, as the HD camera caught him giving Jericho the blade. They appeared to rush through the ending, which hurt the bout a bit. The ending sequence with Hardy kicking out of the pedigree was about the best they could have done not to bury him in losing.
Cagey Veteran: Ever the Game, HHH played his cards right in the Chamber.
HHH sold it like he was stunned at Hardy's endurance. I'd be stunned if Hardy didn't win the Money in the Bank bout to keep strong as a title contender. Out of the title spotlight for two years, the Game is fresh again heading into MANIA. I just hope this is his last major run with the belt. (I know, I know, I'm dreaming.)
Tank You Veddy Much: Jakks Pacific is producing a dream two-pack for Memphis Wrestling fans: Jerry Lawler vs. Andy Kaufman. The prototypes have Lawler and Kaufman in the exact same attire as they appeared in their first bout on April 5, 1982.
You Wanna Rassle Me, Memphis-style?: The only thing missing is that white blood-stained mat at the Mid-South Coliseum.
The Kaufman face scan is great, although the hairstyle looks more like his Latka character from TAXI than the real Andy.
Broke Neck Mountain?: The more I look at this Kaufman scan, the more I see Jake Gyllenhaal’s likeness.
The neckbrace is a wonderful touch as well. Lawler announced the release of the Kaufman figure to the crowd prior to a special November screening of I'M FROM HOLLYWOOD (a doc exploring Andy's wrestling career in Memphis) at the Egyptian Theatre in Los Angeles. As you might imagine, it was quite surreal for me watching the Lawler vs. Kaufman feud unfold on a large movie screen in Hollywood. Lawler told the attendees that Andy would be absolutely thrilled to have his own wrestling action figure. I think he's right. Well done, Jakks.