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GRADING THE BOOKERMAN WRITTEN: February 20, 2002
GRADING THE BOOKERMAN

WARNING: I read spoilers. I make references to spoilers in my writing. If you don't like to have Smackdown! ruined for you, you might not like some of the things I'll say in this column. Reader beware.

THE QUICK AND DIRTY
The NWO got the opening slot (no surprise there) and each member cut a semi-shoot promo and drew sympathy babyface heat. The Acolytes emerged victorious in Tag Team Turmoil - a result that no one expected - defeating Billy & Chuck in the final match (the Hardy Boyz were the highlight, defeating Storm & Christian and the Dudley Boyz before falling to Billy & Chuck). Rob Van Dam went over Goldust in a surprisingly good eleven-minute match, with Robbie going the extra mile to make Goldy look good before getting the pinfall (making it obvious Heyman booked Sunday). Tazz & Spike retained the tag titles when Test submitted to the Tazzmission. William Regal retained the Intercontinental title from Edge with the help of his trusty illegal pair of backup brass knuckles, hopefully ending that feud for good. Rock got revenge on Undertaker with the help of Flair and Undertaker's trusty lead pipe - which UT has become as close to as Triple H did to his sledgehammer in recent weeks. Speaking of H'er Boy, he lost the Wrestlemania title shot to Angle thanks to Stephanie, who was a non-factor for much of the match after Angle accidently bumped her but recovered to allow Angle to destroy HHH with a chair ala Austin/Rock at Wrestlemania last year. Finally, Jericho retained his titles when Austin got the royal welcoming treatment from the New World Order, spraypaint job and all. Scott Hall (the lucky bastard) even got to hit Austin on more than one occasion with the Stunner, meaning Austin probably helped to book the finish.

FROM AROUND THE INTERNET: A certain wrestling columnist wrote the following in reviewing the PPV:

Um, the APA? The oldest team in the promotion and the ones who have constantly flopped as a draw since almost day 1?

Now, Mr. Keith, I'm not saying that I disagree with you in that booking the Acolytes to win Tag Team Turmoil was a weird, unexpected, and totally convoluted decision by the creative team. But there's an important reason WHY the Acolytes flopped as tag team champion draws... they got caught in the middle. In one era, you had Vince Russo and his Team of the Century - the New Age Outlaws - and then the other era, symbolized by seven Edge & Christian title reigns, TLC matches, and general insanity all around. Sandwiched in the middle were the Acolytes, so that by the time Vince gave them a chance at the start of the Invasion angle (and even that didn't last long, because of Undertaker's politicking), the sheep had all forgotten what all the fuss was about. I'm behind Vince all the way on this one... if he's truly committed to building them up the right way; something he's failed to do over the past three years.

HOW'D I DO?
Four out of seven predictions. (Jericho, Rock, Regal, Tazz/Spike correct; HHH, Goldust, Dudley Boyz incorrect). Well, I didn't totally embarass myself in my first column showing, and that 4-3 record looks better with Triple H getting the job back on Raw, and the Acolytes being the one team that practically no one expected to win the Turmoil. I should've taken a hint from the Armageddon 1999 tag team battle royale, but I'll just let that one go and move on. This puts me at an overall record of 17-4 dating back to the Vengeance PPV.

THE REPORT CARD
Each match receives three letter grades, on a typical GPA scale. Workrate (the actual moveset and flow of the match) counts for 50% of the match's overall grade. Bookrate (which includes control in the flow of the match, the finish to the match, and the circumstances behind the finish) counts for 30%, while heatrate (how properly over the match is with the crowd - if the heel gets cheered frequently in the manner the New Age Outlaws were famous for, the match is not properly over) counts for the last 20%. For non-wrestling segments, like in-ring promos, workrate is obviously not a factor, so each of the other two factors (bookrate & heatrate) are graded and counted equally towards the segment's overall grade. (Backstage segments are usually too short and mean little in terms of what happens in the ring, so they don't count.) Each match is assigned a number of credits between 3 and 6, based on factors such as its length and the prizes at stake (like any titles being on the line). The more important the match, the higher the number of credits. Non-wrestling segments are assigned either one or two credits depending upon the segment's importance. To determine the show's cumulative GPA, multiply each segment's (including matches) overall grade by the number of credits, add them together, and divide by the total number of credits.

NWO RETURNS              2 CRE           BK: B+  HT: A-  OVR: B+  (3.3 * 2) = 
6.6
TAG TEAM TURMOIL         4 CRE  WRK: C   BK: C-  HT: B-  OVR: C   (2.0 * 4) = 
8.0
RVD/GOLDUST              3 CRE  WRK: B-  BK: C   HT: B   OVR: B-  (2.7 * 3) = 
8.1
TAG TEAM TITLES          4 CRE  WRK: C   BK: B+  HT: C   OVR: C+  (2.3 * 4) = 
9.2
IC TITLE-KNUCKS POLE     4 CRE  WRK: B-  BK: B   HT: B   OVR: B   (3.0 * 4) =
12.0
ROCK/UNDERTAKER          4 CRE  WRK: C+  BK: A-  HT: B+  OVR: B   (3.0 * 4) =
12.0
ANGLE/HHH-NO.1 CON.      5 CRE  WRK: B   BK: F   HT: B+  OVR: C+  (2.3 * 5) =
11.5
UNDISPUTED WWF TITLE     6 CRE  WRK: B+  BK: B+  HT: A-  OVR: B+  (3.3 * 6) =
19.8
                       
----------------------------------------------------------
                        32 CRE                                          TTL: 
87.2   

WORKRATE AVERAGE: 2.6300 (B-)                         OVERALL SHOW GPA: 2.725
(B-)
BOOKRATE AVERAGE: 2.4750 (C+)
HEATRATE AVERAGE: 3.1719 (B+)

NOTES & COMMENTS
I think I better start by explaining why I gave the Kurt Angle/Triple H match a bookrate grade of F - and I'll let you know that it's not because I disagreed with the result they gave us on Sunday night. I gave it an F because, by turning right around and having Angle return the job to Triple H on Raw the very next night, they not only gave us another classic example of how Angle is being misused by the WWF creative team, but also because it rendered the PPV match entirely pointless. Seriously... the WWF blew the last week of free TV building up the HHH/Stephanie marriage blowup rather than the PPV, and if someone wanted to order the replay to see how that angle played out, would they do so now? Of course not. I therefore formally appeal to Chris to count Triple H as the winner for purposes of doing results for the leaderboard, because, for all practical purposes, that's exactly how it played out. (Of course, since he's the biggest Kurt Angle mark I know, there's no way in hell he'll do it, but I can hope, right?)

At the very least, it does seem with the results of the PPV that Triple H/Jericho is set for Wrestlemania, which, as I set out in my last column, is the right decision for business. Hogan's challenger being Rocky, rather than Austin, does concern me though. There's no way the Fed would insert Rock in with Triple H at this point, but they could have Austin win it on a Raw while overcoming NWO interference, and the prospect of that frightens me. But at this point, I'll cross my fingers and hope that the Fed stands pat. On Smackdown, they finally made the Stephanie/Jericho "partnership" official. I'm happy that they finally did it, but seriously... if they'd kept the pregnancy angle going, revealed that Jericho was the father, and had Stephanie turn on Trips at the PPV, it would've come off tons more effective and the resulting matchup at the big show would be HUGE in terms of heat. This is like, "Well, I'm not surprised"; the other way, it makes the match.

On to other matters... with the hackneyed ambulance destruction incident on Raw, it looks like Rocky is gonna be off TV for an extended period of time so that he can catch his breath. Apparantly, he's been running back and forth now for weeks between WWF events and reshoots on the Scorpion King, and it showed in his performance at the PPV as he was unusually off his game, even though he was facing a guy he's never been able to carry successfully. I wouldn't expect to see him again until the March 11th Raw one week prior to Wrestlemania, as he's still scheduled to headline the Asian tour with Jericho the week beforehand. If that changes, Rocky might be back on the 4th. Undertaker, meanwhile, is making a beeline to get in the ring with Flair at the big show, and if there's one man who I wouldn't mind ending UT's eleven years of success at Wrestlemania, it's the Nature Boy. I'm also guessing he's going to join the NWO, which would suck in terms of a workrate perspective, but would make sense because he's an Old Has-Been just like the rest of them. Hey...

With Billy & Chuck doing a blowjob on the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain to win the tag titles at the Smackdown tapings last night, it looks like we've got Robert Smigel's henchmen v. Undertaker's former henchmen locked in for Wrestlemania. This isn't exactly the matchup that Vince needed in that division to shake it up. There are three things the division needs: 1) Edge & Christian reunion, as a face team; 2) Dudleys face turn, since their heel schtick is deader than dead wood; 3) Hardys heel turn, which would be the shot in the arm they need to get out of sameness and boredom. The only way I can see this happening: Lita wins the women's title, starts to overshadow both of the boys, and they dump her on her ass out of jealousy. It's true, after all, that over 80% of the Hardys' heat nowadays is a direct result of Lita.

QUICK BITES
-- I wonder if Christian's announcement that he's quitting last night is a precursor to the reunion...
-- Those who had Smackdown after the PPV in the "What?" tagging pool, collect your dough.
-- Only three matches at the tapings last night. Is it just me, or was Vince Russo a part of the WCW purchase?

OH YEAH...
Call the show a thumbs in the middle, leaning slightly down because the NWO's debut was mildly disappointing in terms of what were expecting. No true highlights like the last couple of shows, though, so don't go out of your way to get it.

Here's a good way to close things out...

CHRIS JERICHO'S WORDS OF WISDOM FOR FEBRUARY:
"Why do I keep losing to Chris Jericho again, and again, and again?" -- The Rock's newest catchphrase; 1/24/02

I'm burnt. Good night!