2004-01-29 / Arts & Entertainment

Through The Ropes

By Josh Stewart
Through The Ropes By Josh Stewart

By Josh Stewart

Kudos, ’attaboy and well done.

I spend so much time slamming the wrestling business in this space that many wonder if I’m even a fan.

Of course, I am. I’m never angry because I think Vince McMahon is to blame for my undies being too tight.

I just like for the serial drama known as the squared circle to come up with something fresh every now and then.

At The Royal Rumble, World Wrestling Entertainment hit a home run.

It’s one of my fave pay-per-views of the year, yet it can get a little bland when the ring fills up with 19 or 20 guys. It’s so crowded it looks like rush hour on the Long Island Rail Road, and I already pay too many clams to participate in that.

Instead, WWE figured that less would be more, and figured right. Sixteen wrestlers had entered the fray at one point, yet only three were left. And the number never reached double figures. This provided the right opportunity to give a serious push to the likes of Randy Orton and eventual winner Chris Benoit.

WWE also gets a pat on the back for having the first halftime show in Royal Rumble history. In the middle, with only Benoit and Orton in the ring and both incapacitated, "The Cat" came in. Throw the other two out? Please! It was time to dance a jig, and I was rolling on my couch while the second coming of James Brown whooped it up, only to quickly be tossed out on the same rear end he was shaking.

Surprises? How about Mick Foley nailing Test, then taking his spot in the Rumble simply so he could beat down Orton? Loved how Foley morphed his character, with the Cactus Jack "bang-bang" gesture, Mankind T-shirt and signature Foley flannel shirt. I’m thinking he had the "Dude Love" tights on under his sweat pants.

WWE beat to death the phrase, "The road to WrestleMania starts here." Well, the creative teams weren’t lying. Kane hears The Undertaker’s music, distracting him long enough to get eliminated. You know the brothers are going to go at it at the Garden.

Word on the street is that Bill Gold-berg will be history after WrestleMania, as he and WWE won’t be able to come up with a contract extension. Wanting to get the most out of his time left, a "manbeast vs. manbeast" affair with Brock Lesnar was set up. Lesnar, after beating Hardcore Holly earlier in the evening, made an un-scheduled cameo in the Rumble match and planted Goldberg.

And before it all even began, dueling GMs Eric Bischoff (Raw) and Paul Heyman (Smackdown!) gave a nod to history with their verbal/physical confrontation. Both now work for McMahon because Heyman never had any money in Extreme Champion-ship Wrestling, and Bischoff badly mismanaged Ted Turner’s blank check in World Championship Wrestling.

Hopefully, they’ll come together more often. After initially performing several trades/defections following the brand extension, the two brands have been much more distant, coming together only for the marquee pay-per-views and basically not even acknowledging the other.

Try working together more. You did at the Rumble, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

You can contact Josh Stewart at throughtheropes1@cs.com.

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