Thursday, December 16, 2010

Brian's SmackDown! '99 ballot

This is for our third TV viewing/analysis project -- the full results and breakdown should be posted in the next week or two:

1. Christian and Jeff Hardy vs. Taka Michinoku and Sho Funaki - 12/23

I loved everything about this. Jeff Hardy was the MVP, huge air on everything, somersault senton to the floor, crazy guillotine legdrop, etc. Taka's an all-time favorite of mine and Funaki, student of Fujiwara, was doing facial selling on par with the crusty old man.

2. Too Cool vs. Edge and Christian - 10/28

I liked this even better than their other meeting, although, I doubt it'll fair well in the final rankings as I'm the one member of the committee to have seen this episode. Their other match felt like a slice of NWA, but this is more akin to the '99 fast-paced style the show highlighted, but also boosts much bigger bumps including a sickeningly stiff sunset flip/powerbomb combination on Christian who was on the apron, resulting in him thudding on the floor. Edge's "Spear" here looked so much deadlier than it did on the most recent episode (12/3/10) of SmackDown! I recently saw. It's now became laissez-faire but here it's absolutely explosive.

3. New Age Outlaws vs. Rock 'n Sock Connection - 9/23

This was quite good, Outlaws' first match back as a team, and while clearly Rock and Mankind are on a different level individually, as a team that advantage is neutralized by the Outlaws' cunning and experience. It takes being craft and clever to pull out a win out of nowhere so this was booked spot-on and was able to get the Outlaws the big victory and championships while putting the heat on Mankind for taking the fall and generating some friction between him and a pissed off Rock. This match falls right in the middle of a heavily overbooked episode that sees Triple H wrestle five matches (including ones against Mankind and Rock) but lost in the sea of suspect shit lies a tag team gem.

4. Too Cool vs. Edge and Christian - 11/18

I'm not prepared to pimp Too Cool as some lost, overlooked team quite just yet, but, they're pretty awesome here. 7 (out of 10) discs down and this is easily one of the better, more old school tag team matches I've seen. It had a decidedly nasty finish with Grandmaster Sexay's legdrop off the top right on Christian's head while the ref was distracted.

5. The Rock vs. Mankind - 10/21

For a match that ultimately meant nothing (ended with putrid Val Venis interference) this had some real good back-and-forth momentum changes, both guys got in some signature stuff, Foley ate some gnarly bumps on the floor, etc.

6. The Rock vs. Al Snow - Steel Cage Match - 12/23

Completely unnecessary match, Snow didn't look particularly good, rushing through sells, etc. but this still had some neat moments and big bumps like a back superplex off the top and a spinebuster on a steel chair.

7. Hardcore & Crash Holly vs.Viscera & Mideon vs. the Acolytes vs. Matt & Jeff Hardy vs. Edge & Christian vs. Albert & Droz vs. Stevie Richards & the Blue Meanie - Tag Team Turmoil Match - 9/2

This was ran gauntlet style and had some cool eliminations (Holly busting out the Falcon Arrow, Bradshaw countering the Poetry in Motion by decapitating Jeff with a lariat, etc.) and a good pace. Almost everyone offered up at least something positive to the affair save for Blue Meanie who just danced like a buffoon on the ramp.

8. Farooq vs. Big Bossman - 11/11

Most of the WWE Hardcore division stuff was just absolute shit, weak weapon shots, aluminum cookie sheets and garbage can lids, bad comedy, worse selling, etc. This, though, felt like something completely different, just two big dudes beating the holy hell out of each other around ringside. Everything came off clumsy like a real brawl but gave things a sense of excitement, like, "Oh, fuck, one of these dude's is about to get messed up!", i.e. when Farooq dove off the announce table holding a chair and nearly did a face-plant on the floor.

9. New Age Outlaws vs. Hardyz - Steel Cage Match - 11/25

This was the car crash style of this era personified, for better or worse, as they just went non-stop throwing a lot of stuff out there hoping much of it would stick. Surprisingly, given the chaotic nature of things, I felt the selling throughout was very authentic and polished. But, this was not refined, just everybody going for the gusto and win. Jeff essentially got tossed over the top of the cage flipping all the way down to the floor in a dangerous bump.

10. Kane vs. Triple H - 9/9

Two guys the me of '99 loathed and would want to kick my ass today for me saying I liked this. As I've matured I've grown to prefer story over spots. Neither of these guys are known as flashy or particularly spectacular in the ring, but both can craft stories in it. Triple H's usually plodding methodical offense actually works in the context of Kane's zombie-like selling, individually, those two things don't often work, but together they gelled like blue cheese dressing and hot wings for a tasty morsel of a match.

11. The Rock and Mankind vs. Big Show and Undertaker - Buried Alive Match - 9/9

A wild match that's as good a snapshot of any of the insanity of this era. It's not the best brawling you'll see, they didn't tease the burial plot enough, etc. but the rabid crowd and big superstars going toe-to-toe kept this highly entertaining.

12. Rock 'n Sock Connection vs. New Age Outlaws - 10/14

While this lacked the goods I thought the less bombastic 9/23 offered up, it did have a wilder, kinetic pace, and a real hot crowd. This was enjoyable with the Outlaws for once working up to the amount of hype they've always received. Interference by both by both Crash and Hardcore Holly seemed tacked on so the finish didn't feel real organic.

13. Hardyz vs. Christian and Edge - Tornado Match - 10/7

Non-stop action and a creative finish highlight this wild bout from the T.I.T.

14. Triple H vs. The Rock - 8/24

I remember seeing this last year on the Best of SmackDown!: 10th Anniversay DVD set and thinking it wasn't too bad. It's better known for the twist ending where Shawn Michaels costs Rock the match. That storytelling cog aside, the action's WWE main event style brawling circa Attitude era, which is to say, lots of punches and wandering around ringside and the ramp. Had some of the ingredients to be a big, memorable main event but in the end didn't deliver on that promise.

15. D-Lo Brown vs. British Bulldog - 10/28

Bulldog wasn't impressing much in '99 but this match was really laid out well and structured to his strengths. It also gets a nod for historical significance as DBS won the European championship, what I imagine would have been one of his last title reigns.

16. The Hardyz and Big Show vs. New Age Outlaws and X-Pac - 12/2

Growing up being an NWA kid I love a good six-man tag and this was a fun one. It didn't have a lot of heft or any real meaty storytelling, just fast-paced action with everyone getting in and getting stuff off. I liked the finish, too; amid all the action Matt secured a victory on Road Dogg using none other than a sunset flip.

17. Undertaker and Big Show vs. Acolytes vs. Kane and X-Pac - 8/24

This didn't even last four minutes, but, while it lasted it was a ton of chaotic fun. Undertaker sat and did commentary at ringside and left his partner to fend for himself in a demonstration of tough love. Everyone was recklessly flying around the ring like popcorn shooting out of a kettle (it's a labored analogy but cut me a break -- I worked in movie theaters for the better part of my teenage years).

18. Al Snow vs. Jeff Hardy - 12/30

Offense = spotty, selling = shoddy, is not my favorite type of match. That major grievance aside this has car wreck written all over it but the guys really invest in the madness and throw a bunch of shit out there even if it'd amount to a nothing more than a hill of beans.

19. Kurt Angle vs. Edge - 12/23

Not a lot here, they'd go on to do much better work together, still, try as I might, I was pulled into this and found myself inexplicably happy throughout it. I think maybe the contrasting trunks (red and royal blue) played a part.

20. Prince Albert vs. Chris Jericho - 12/16

I know, right? Nobody else is going to vote on this. It had more going against it than just about any match in this project (and thus its axiomatic it'll stink). Seconds into it Chyna and Miss Kitty waltzed to ringside, we cut to the back to see Stephanie McMahon and HHH drinking champagne, cut back to the action prematurely, then back to them two all in the span of seconds, then there's the crowd, which is too busy chanting at Big Bossman at ringside to invest in the match. So why is this here? It's fast-paced, hard-hitting, sloppy and just pure fun in a sprint I enjoyed. Despite all the bullshit I still found the action (what we saw of it!) a breath of fresh air. I'd kill to see these do get 20 min. together today.

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