December 11, 2003 (taped 12/09/03)
Even more late 2003 WWE Smackdown goodness. No Chris Benoit? No John Cena? No Basham Brothers? No problem! Los Guerreros, The (self proclaimed) World’s Greatest Tag Team, Rey Mysterio, and Brock Lesnar to the rescue!
Rhyno . . . does basically nothing and still manages to win.
Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas . . . look like they’ve watching some classic southern tags.
Brock Lesnar . . . busts his hump to help make Rey Mysterio look like a legit challenger.
BRADSHAW vs. RHYNO
Wow. This is really bad. There are punches and lariats galore and none of it looks very good at all. Bradshaw’s head injury isn’t a bad storytelling element in theory, especially with Rhyno having used a DDT early in the match, but the actual practice of it is terrible. When Bradshaw mistimes his execution of the Last Call is when it’s initially hurt, and there’s no following up by Rhyno to aggravate it, nor is there anything special done by Bradshaw to put it over. The only other time it creeps up is when Bradshaw does the superplex and stuns himself, allowing Rhyno to cradle him for three. So Bradshaw injured himself and then aggravated it, causing himself to lose. Rhyno really earned that check in the win column.
A-TRAIN vs. SHANNON MOORE
The Revenge of Shannon Moore, this is not. This is virtually the same match that Moore had the week before with Show, only Moore gets the fluke win this time. Train goes after his taped up ribs, including a sick spot where Train swung him ribs first into the guardrail. Train tries a powerbomb and Moore sunset flips him, and grabs the tights for the upset. After four consecutive weeks of Moore being decimated by Team Lesnar, it seems like Moore should have had something planned. Knocking out A-Train with the power of the punch, or getting that sunset flip with a kick to the grapefruits, just something to finally get one over on the heels. Instead it’s just the fluke roll-up, which accomplishes nothing and puts over nobody, and then Team Lesnar beats down A-Train for losing, blah blah blah.
EDDIE GUERRERO/CHAVO GUERRERO vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN/CHARLIE HAAS
Even though this gets more time than most TV midcard matches do, it’s still not able to develop as nicely as it would have if it was given an extra ten minutes. With how often these two teams had worked together over the year, they churn out a decently fun southern tag style match. But with the Eddie/Chavo dissension, as well as Eddie’s shoulder and Chavo’s knee playing factors as well, the match still has to be somewhat rushed. The timing of the commercial break is one big issue. The break comes right after Shelton sends Eddie into the post, which more or less singled out his shoulder as the target, and the match came back from break not long before Eddie tagged in Chavo, so there isn’t a whole lot shown of Haas and Benjamin actually working over Eddie’s arm. The few things that are shown, such as Shelton’s flying armbar and Haas’ hammerlock look great though. When Chavo tags in and Haas and Benjamin start going after Chavo’s knee is where the rushing starts taking effect, the focus shifts from sharking Chavo’s injured knee, to working the formula.
For a couple of former amateur wrestlers, Haas and Benjamin make a damn fun pair of southern heels. Shelton’s cheap shot on Chavo’s knee was one of the best moments in the match, and they’re awesome at cutting off Eddie’s hot tag. There’s another fun moment when Eddie tries to cheat his way to the hot tag, but Benjamin is right there to distract the ref and cause him to miss it. Eddie and Chavo are both good at putting over their injured limbs, Eddie much more than Chavo, but that’s understandable given that Eddie’s hurt shoulder had more time to play out. Chavo brings a few nice moves, including the spinning head scissors that he’d used the week before. It’s Eddie who really shines though. In addition to his great selling, he brings several fun moments to the match. Eddie’s one-armed slam to Haas when he was working on his shoulder, as well as a quick pause during the Three Amigos to give Haas a back drop were both nice touches. And Eddie clocks Shelton with the low-rider’s air filter (which Shelton opened the hood to) to give Los Guerreros the squeaky-clean win. The dissension between Eddie and Chavo is also present in the form of several blind tags by Chavo, and Chavo’s use of the Frog Splash for a near fall, and Chavo inadvertently tags Eddie in when he gets shoved into him, knocking Eddie to the floor and allowing him to get the air filter. Again, they did a good job with what they were given to work with, but with only sixteen minutes and so much to cover, this really needed at least another ten minutes to fully play itself out. ***1/4
REY MYSTERIO vs. BROCK LESNAR
While this isn’t as good as the Benoit/Lesnar match from the week before, it scores some points if one enjoys simple matches with good storytelling aspects. It’s obvious that Rey has a snowball’s chance in a microwave of beating the WWE Champion, but Brock gives Rey some good openings, and they work several good spots for Rey to get in offense, while still looking like the underdog. It’s remarkable that Brock can put over Rey’s offense as good as he can, given the way he was introduced, and has always been perceived by the WWE fans. While Brock isn’t hugely affected by anything other than the dropkick with the stairs, his bumping and selling fit the situations nicely. The only spot that looks odd is Brock’s bump into the guardrail after Rey’s sunset flip on the floor and that was due to Rey taking the bump of his own in the process, and Brock’s small delay in taking the bump, rather than the size difference. It helps that Rey only has two or three spots where he really needs to take Brock down, the rest of them are simple moves like the dropkick to the knee, and Brock giving Rey good openings, like his blind charge into the corner, that set him up for the 619.
Brock’s power offense has looked good against pretty much everyone except Big Show, but it looks better against Rey than it has against just about anyone else. The backbreaker sequence that Brock uses as the show comes back from commercial looks especially well done, and Rey soars from the big lariat that Brock decks him with. Rey also takes a couple of sick looking, but mostly safe, bumps in the form of getting pitched into the post, and Brock chucking him underneath the bottom rope and falling to the floor. Brock’s technically sound, but rather dull rest hold problems are again present with his straightjacket hold. There’s once again no build at all to the Brock Lock, not even a chair attack this time around. Brock catches Rey as he tries the West Coast Pop and plants him with a powerbomb, which is fine for stunning Rey to apply the Brock Lock, but as for an actual build to the hold, there’s not one thing Brock does to target Rey’s knee, and nothing Rey did seemed to put any sort of pressure on his knee. The Brock Lock looks painful enough to cause a tap out even if nothing is done to build toward it (which is what happens here) but it’d have been nice if Brock actually looked like he was building toward something. The sad thing is that the only real purpose this served was further setting up a WWE Title match between Brock and Bob Holly. Unlike Brock/Benoit and Benoit/Cena, it’s not so much of a shame that this didn’t lead to a full-blown program. Rey was still feuding over the Cruiserweight Title, and with the WWE mentality as far as big men goes, it’s likely that any future matches would have turned out just like this one, only without the blown/awkward looking spots after a few more singles matches together. It’s just too bad that a unique and fun match like this, was only booked in order to get over a career midcard and undercard worker over as a serious threat, which nobody bought in the least.
Conclusion: There’s nothing to see in the first hour, but the last two matches are both fun affairs that are definitely worth a look, whether you’re surfing the interweb looking for downloads or digging out your old TV tapes.