Best: Pre-WWE Kurt Angle And Taz Before The Extra Z
A running theme of this report, somewhat against its own will, is how good or bad someone used to be in comparison to how we see them now. Arguably, no two wrestlers fit that theme better than Kurt Angle and Taz(z).
This was Taz’s WWF debut. That’s what a lot of people remember from this show. Before, he was the Oompa-Loompic king of ECW, a guy who was maybe four feet tall and had the Taco Bell Ingredients of movesets (the same five basic things in different combinations) who seemed like the most bad-ass and important person in the world because Paul Heyman, at least for a few years, remembered that what we’re given in wrestling isn’t important … it’s how we’re convinced to see what we’ve been given. Not tricked. Convinced. WWE does a thing now where they introduce a guy and say “HE’S SO TOUGH OH MAN” and all he does is powerslam guys or whatever and nobody believes it. Taz was doing sh*t like shoving barbed wire into Tajiri’s mouth to choke him out on the reg. There is arguably no greater unpraised ECW moment than Taz getting powerbombed by Bam Bam Bigelow five seconds into a match, completely no-selling it and flipping him off. We were convinced. That’s why Madison Square Garden is chanting WE WANT TAZ while Kurt is doing his “hey guys, how about that Local Sports Team” act.
And Kurt. Poor, baby Kurt Angle. When people look at current, emaciated, bad-on-Twitter ostrich-pitcher Kurt Angle, they compare him to that post-Benoit Angle, the guy throwing rolling German Suplexes and countering 75 of your finishing holds before grabbing you in a grapevine ankle lock and tapping you out. That Angle had worth, despite what he inadvertently did to main-event WWE wrestling (how many more times do you want to see Cena escape something and lock in the STF?), but the Angle I love is the one that came BEFORE that. Before the change. The one who showed up as the only real athlete in WWF history, stopping his armdrag fest with Shawn Stasiak to calmly take the microphone and point out that you don’t boo an American Hero. I liked the Kurt who seemed like Captain America — a shoot nerd who just happened to be imbued with a super serum that made him nigh-impossible to beat at wrestling. The Kurt who would tell you the Knicks have trouble winnning a championship because that’s the only way he can think of to insult you. With sports.
Kurt and Taz are together again in TNA, but it’s not the same. Shortly after this, Taz was Tazz for good, took a candy dish to the face from Jim Ross and devolved into a mob extra whose most marketable skill was going LOOK AT DIS COLE~ as someone was falling. He parlayed that into a career of saying “Velvet Sky, tomater” and then rambling under his breath for five minutes. Kurt’s insides kept f**king up until they were on his outside, and now a guy who seemed like he had the best reason ever to brag about being great (winning a Gold medal with a broken fricken neck) hops on Twitter to passive-aggressively bitch about Randy Orton using an Angle Slam as a transitional move.
Life is weird, and sort of sad.
Worst: Cotton Candy Guy
hey asshole, down in front
Worst: The Debut Of Stupid Kurt Angle Suplex Spots
To my knowledge, this is the first time Kurt Angle took a German Suplex by backflipping onto his face. In fact, he loses the match via Tazmission and there’s “extra footage” on the DVD of Kurt backstage having a penlight shined in his eyes, mumbling through unconsciousness about how chokes are illegal and he’s still undefeated. Is there any possibility that it is canon that Taz’s illegal choke did something harmful to Angle’s brain, which led to his inflated ego becoming megalomaniacal (see: Eurocontinental Champion, saying D’Lo Brown didn’t matter) and forever damaging his ability to discern fantasy from reality? It’s not a huge jump to think “I lost, but I’m still undefeated” could one day translate to “I’m the greatest wrestler ever and Jack Swagger stole my move”.
Don’t get me wrong, I love stupid Kurt Angle matches, at least from that Royal Rumble ’03 time period when he was just going full speed nonstop, throwing himself shoulder-first into every ring post he could find. But in the same way that Toy Story’s greatness begat A Shark Tale and Hoodwinked, Kurt Angle’s excessive Germanic Suplexing begat Jeff Jarrett MMA matches and 30 minutes of Mr. Anderson crawling around in a cage.
Best: So The Internet Knows. So What?
I’ve written for wrestling op boards for years (shout out to Macbeth from Wrestling Uncensored
and Dusty The Fat Bitter Cat), but I’m starting to get old and have forgotten what dirt sheets were like back then. One way or another, everyone watching the 2000 Rumble on pay-per-view was ready for Taz. We knew he was here. We expected it, because the Internet (and other wrestling companies) told us. The unnamed opponent’s music started, and it was Taz. Taz wrestled as Taz, and for one night it was pretty glorious.
So … what’s the problem there?
There’s a huge thing now where WWE has “plans” for something, but the Internet finds out about it through a source or just makes up news that comes too close to being what they had planned and things change. I remember that happening with Edge and Christian. Christian was supposed to turn on Edge and the Internet found out about it, so instead of just following through with the logical thing that should happen they turned Matt Hardy on Jeff, a swerve that in retrospect may have been the worst idea in the history of wrestling. I’m not being hyperbolic, I seriously think “giving Matt Hardy a solo push where he feuds with Jeff” is at LEAST as bad as a dancing turkey mascot or a save from RoboCop and in the ballpark of making Brad Armstrong dress up like a f**king colorblind Spider-Man.
Sometimes we know what’s going to happen because we’re paying attention. We read these dirt sheets because we, at least in that moment, really care about what you’re about to do. That’s not a bad thing, jerks, so the next time you’re gonna put the belt on Dolph Ziggler or whatever and Big Dick Johnson or some low-level ROH Program Girl With Her Tits Out-quality WWE employee types “Dolph Ziggler is winning the title” to Meltzer or GrapsNewz.edu or whatever just f**king do it anyway. It was a good idea when you came up with it. We will like it, Especially if you convince us to.