1. Kane vs. Grandmaster Sexay - 2
2. The Masked Ninja vs. Tajiri - 1
3. Lita vs. Trish Stratus - 3
4. The Hurricane vs. Sylvain Grenier - 2
5. Evolution (Triple H, Ric Flair, Randy Oton, and Batista) vs. Chris Benoit, Mick Foley, Shelton Benjamin, and Shawn Michaels - 4
Sexay was announced as making his return after a 2.5 year absence. Kane has made some horrid comments in the media this week downplaying gun violence in America on the heels of the Uvalde school massacre -- so fuck him. Grandmaster puts his goggles on a kids' face a la Bret Hart. Wonder if he kept them over the years and now they take up the right corner of his sock drawer. Basic squash to give Kane some momentum heading into whatever tedious feud he'd be booked into next. Jonathan Coachmen brings out a masked ninja portrayed under the costume shop outfit by Al Snow's hockey jersey collection. Some real mistimed strike exchanges. Ninja's kicks are Bischoff-level strip mall dojo quality. What agent thought it was a good idea to give Ninja 80% of the offense. Lita was to be a guest on Jericho's Highlight Reel but Stratus attacked her on the ramp which was then turned into an official bout. All kudos to Stratus who, we can now look back 20 years removed, was not just ahead of her peers at the time but one of the more complete women performers in the co. the last several decades. Bulk of action is a side headlock which Trish somehow keeps completely captivating by wrenching it and mugging. Dug Lita doing a monkey flip but keeping a hold of her opponent's hair to help her roll through to a top mount position to drop ground and pound. Gilbert Yvel take note. Bad fashion reigns from Trish's parachute pants to Christian who was at ringside wearing a shirt that looked like a Magic Eye picture. If you stop and stare at it closely, subtly crossing your eyes, it'll unlock an image of Gangrel holding a chalice and his pud. Non-finish brought it down as otherwise that was heading into recommended levels.
I'd like to say further study has proven Sylvain to be some under-appreciated lost super worker of the early aughts but that is not the case. I'd forgotten Helms' Green Lantern tattoo. I wonder if he was a fan of Ron Marz's run as head writer. Today's WWE product/content seems as assembly line as possibly ever with no rough edges -- but back in this era I was living within stone's throw of both OVW and HWA the farm league system for WWE, so had a lot of firsthand experience seeing guys who were being brought up to the big show or older talents not deemed needed for TV squandering last years of their in-ring career in-front of crowds of dozens (never forget Brian Adams aka Crush/The Demon walking in mid-show through fan entrance at an HWA show as a failed mega surprise appearance to a chorus of laughter). Other than one mean kneelift by Grenier and a silly finish involving Eugene's stuffed rabbit having its head ripped off this was utter dross. And now the reason I picked this random show, I woke up wanting to see a wild multi-man tag bout, and a cursory scroll through the 'net lead me to this listing, so here we are. Why didn't someone stop Flair at this point? Foley didn't even have to change when he arrived at the arena. Just "working" in black jeans and a Backlash t-shirt with a Wendy's chili stain. Crowd livens up for Benoit and Triple H squaring off. Shawn has worse hair of the whole bunch. The #1 movie in the country the week of this episode was Home on the Range and Flair's rubbery breasts look like udders. Michaels does a slingshot tumble over the top onto Evolution on the floor that looked on par with Papadon at a JAPW show. Give me Monsta Mack or Groot over Batista any day of the week. Fun to see Benoit and Flair trading chops and shots. Watching Shelton work the likes of T-Bar and Karrion Kross on WWE Main Event this past year he's looked so much slower, but back then he had crazy speed. Orton had taken crazy (amounts of) speed in the plane traveling to Chicago for this show. Overwritten choreographed vapid finishing stretch where all eight guys had to (attempt) to be in the right spot to make it all go off. Ultimately, Orton took the fall, then HBK and Benoit shared a moment together staring into each other's eyes as the show faded to black.