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XWF In Your Face: The Lost Episodes Part 2
by Scrooge McSuck
Last time, on the inaugural hour of XWF action, we were introduced to the CEO of the XWF, Rena, as well as the commissioner, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Kid Kash was crowned the first Cruiserweight Champion, surviving a Battle Royal featuring the likes of Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis, as well as up-and-comers A.J. Styles, Low Ki, and Christopher Daniels. Buff Bagwell won the first match in "XWF history", defeating former WCW Hardcore Champion, Big Vito. Curt Hennig and Bobby Heenan's reunion was spoiled when Roddy Piper interfered on Vampiro's behalf in the Main Event. We also saw at least a dozen soundbites of stars featured in the XWF telling the home audience about being "In Your Face."
Taped on November 13th and 14th, 2001 from Universal Studios in Orlando, FL. Tony Schiavone and Jerry "The King" Lawler (with his "Kitten") are sitting at ringside to call the action unless otherwise noted. Last week, The Nasty Boys were upset by the Shane Twins and are seeking a rematch. Is that the best you can do to hook me as a viewer? I guess I should be thankful that we have continuity from one episode to the next.
Juventud Guerrera & Psicosis vs. Konan & Ray Gonzalez:
Juvy and Psicosis were in action last week, but being stuck in a short Battle Royal didn't allow them to showcase their talents for more than a brief moment. Gonzalez is an import from World Wrestling Council, and I wish I had more to say about him, but other than catching the occasional episode of IWA programming on Sun Sports back in 2003, I haven't formed much of an opinion on him. Much like World Wrestling All-Stars, Konan is spelled a bit differently from his WCW days. The crowd is into Konan. He starts with Psicosis and throws him to the canvas. Konnan with a head-scissors out of the corner, followed by an arm drag. Gonzalez and Juventud in trading shoves. Juventud counters a drop down with an elbow across the back. We cut to the crowd and came back to Gonzalez hitting a suplex for two. Psicosis back in, knocking Konan off the apron and pulling off a combo with Juventud. Psicosis with a slam and Juventud with a springboard leg drop for two. Gonzalez counters a back body-drop and turns Psicosis inside-out with a clothesline. Konan with the hot tag, throwing Juventud with a wheelbarrow slam and planting Psicosis with a DDT. Konan and Gonzalez with a double hip toss for two. Juventud with the Juvy Driver (see Michinoku Driver). Konan interrupts the 450 Splash and sends Psicosis to the floor. Gonzalez hits Juventud with a Twist of Fate and covers for three at 3:59. I swear that edit probably clipped out some stuff, but judging what is here, this was the best match featured on XWF In Your Face (so far).
"British Storm" Ian Harrison flexes a bunch and makes scary faces for the camera.
"Mean" Gene Okerlund is in the ring, introducing the audience to CEO Rena (surname not found). She's escorted to the ring by security, and I swear one of them is the wrestler formerly known as The Barbarian. I'm sure I could identify the others, but I'm not losing sleep on the subject. Rena kisses up to the audience and says they can take the XWF and wrestling to a new level. Okerlund says the new commissioner has overstepped his power, which seems to ruffle her feathers a bit before Roddy Piper makes his way to the ring. Piper wants to know why Gene is questioning her authority. Gene says he's questioning him, and accuses Piper of taking matters into his own hands. Rena says when he took his position, it would be in an impartial manner and he wouldn't be an in-ring competitor. She asks if there's a fire under his kilt. Piper says there's a forest burning under there. The rambling is interrupted by Vampiro, who cuts his promo with his back to the hard camera. He's giving 350% every night to show why the XWF is the place to be seen. Rena tells a story "she heard" about Vampiro being 15 years old outside the LA Sports Arena. $500 says she has no clue who the hell Vampiro is, let alone knows anything of his background. She compares him to "Josh" from Tough Enough and asks Piper if he has a spot for him on the roster. Piper says he's going to make some matches and will find a spot for Josh. This segment was kind of a mess, with Rena and Piper having no clue if they're faces or heels, and Vampiro cutting his promo with his back to the camera.
Big Vito is IN. YOUR. FACE.
The South Philly Posse (formerly known as Public Enemy) are on the streets, attempting to pick up a woman who may or may not charge for her services.
Simon Diamond (accompanied by Dawn Marie and Johnny Swinger) comes to the ring to get in the face of Jerry Lawler, accusing him of making classless comments about Dawn Marie. I have no memory of that, so maybe it was something left on the cutting room floor. The crowd tries to drown Diamond out by chanting a naughty word at Dawn that rhymes with "hut". Diamond takes a shot at "Kitten", drawing Jerry's ire. Simon offers to settle it in the ring, and luckily Jerry always comes dressed to compete.
Jerry "The King" Lawler vs. Simon Diamond (w/ Dawn Marie & Johnny Swinger):
Despite the previous segment setting up this impromptu match, we were spoiled by it happening before the vignette with the South Philly Posse. Oh well, points for effort. Lockup into the corner and Swinger immediately jumps Lawler from behind...and the match continues. They put the boots to Lawler in the corner and put him down with a double elbow. The referee is making zero effort in getting the match under control and actually gets in position to count a pin attempt. We get heel miscommunication not once, not twice, but THRICE, and Lawler hits Diamond with the Piledriver to score the three-count at 1:30. If I were giving stars out to every match, you can bet this one would be in the red for the ridiculous booking alone.
Sony Onoo and VAPOR are coming to the XWF. Vapor would have a cup of coffee in WWE a couple of years later as Sakoda, a henchman of Tajiri.
Hail (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. Knuckles:
No clue who Knuckles is. He doesn't get an introduction (I pulled his name from the pre-match graphic), and we have an obvious cut into the action with Hail throwing Knuckles into the corner. Knuckles is a doughy, balding and short looking fellow. Hail positions Knuckles on the top turnbuckle and throws him across the ring. Hail with a shoulder breaker softer than baby-poop, and the leg drop finishes at 0:57. That was an all-time worst shoulder breaker if I had to judge it, and his leg drop wasn't much better.
A.J. Styles is bringing style to the XWF and the Cruiserweight Division.
Greg Valentine (in his robe) and Horace Hogan are upset they aren't booked for tonight's card. Roddy Piper interrupts and starts laying into Valentine with chops while giving Horace a pep-talk and offers him one more shot to show his stuff.
Norman Smiley vs. Johnny B. Badd:
I'm genuinely interested in seeing this match. I wonder what legal loopholes were taken care of to get Marc Mero his WCW gimmick again. Badd's got his Badd Blaster too! BREAKING NEWS! Next week, Josh takes on Horace (don't call him Hogan, I guess). Lockup and Smiley with a side headlock. He comes off the ropes with a shoulder block, followed by a hip toss, then showboats with a wiggle. Badd with a hammer-lock into a side headlock. He gives Smiley the same combo and shows off his own moves. Smiley sends Badd to the corner and plants him with the wind-up slam. Whip and an elbow, followed by a clothesline for two. Lawler is upset that Norman isn't screaming much. Well, he's not doing dumb hardcore BS matches. Might be the first hint. Badd teases a comeback, but he meets a boot in the corner and Smiley lays him out with a clothesline. Smiley with a delayed butterfly suplex for two. Badd counters a whip and hits the TKO for three at 3:45. Mostly basic action, but it looked good, and that's all you can ask for sometimes.
DREZDEN. IN YOUR FACE.
The Shane Twins vs. The Nasty Boys:
There seems to be a change to the card, as the Nasty Boys, the advertised opponents for the Shane Twins, don't show up, so in their place is Hawk and Animal
, The Road Warriors
. I would act surprised, but for the second time on this episode, a pre-match graphic spoiled whatever surprise they were going for when it came to the live audience. Was someone conveniently holding up Remco figures of Hawk and Animal? I know they weren't the Hasbro figures, and they definitely weren't Jakks (Editor's Note: Yup, Remco. From their 1986 line of AWA and NWA figures, circa 1986)
. Hawk and Animal attack before the bell, quickly disposing of one of the twins. Animal stays in the ring and surprisingly starts selling immediately. OK, that doesn't last long, as Animal blasts him with a short clothesline. Hawk tags in and I just noticed Hawk and Animal aren't wearing matching gear. Whip and Hawk with one of his patented ugly dropkicks. Todd cuts off Hawk and hits a suplex. Whip to the ropes, Hawk puts on the brakes and hits the hangman neck breaker for a two-count. Hawk misses a charge to the corner and smacks his shoulder on the post. Mike tags in for the first time and they hit Hawk with a double shoulder block. Tony is still curious about the whereabouts of Knobbs and Sags. We get an ugly double-down that leads to the hot tag for Animal. He runs wild on both men. The Doomsday Device connects, but the Nasty Boys show up to pull the referee out of the ring. All heck breaks loose and the bell rings at 4:30 for a No Contest. What's the point of that? I get the LOD protecting their reputation (even in 2001), but the finish protects the vanilla Shane Twins instead, even though Animal wiped the floor with both of them in the closing moments.
Jimmy Snuka and Jimmy Snuka Jr are here to tell you that both are upstanding citizens and you don't have to google Daddy Snuka's name for doing anything he shouldn't have back in the early 80's.
Buff Bagwell vs. Curt Hennig (w/ Bobby Heenan):
Looks like Buff is still presented as a babyface even though most of the crowd hates him. Lockup and Buff sends Hennig into the corner. Buff showboats, so Hennig powders to have a quick conference with his agent. Buff stomps on Heenan's hands, which draws almost zero reaction. Hennig with a side headlock, followed by a shoulder block. Hennig with a handful of hair, leading Buff into the corner. Whip is reversed and Buff with a hip toss, followed by a dropkick that sends Hennig to the floor. Henning hangs Buff across the top rope and comes in with a rolling snap mare. He punishes Buff in the corner and the crowd doesn't mind. Whip to the ropes and Hennig hooks an abdominal stretch. He's a bit early trying to use the ropes for leverage, so they awkwardly wait until the referee is slightly out of position for Hennig to do the deed. Hennig with a Boston Crab, but he willingly gives up the hold because *reasons not found*. Buff cuts Hennig off with a jaw breaker and unloads with right hands. Whip to the ropes and Buff with a back elbow, followed by a clothesline. Buff sets up for the Block Buster, but Heenan shoves him off the top rope and the Hennig-Plex finishes at 5:05. BUT WAIT! Vampiro shows up to dispute the result! Hennig takes a shot at him, and we've got a BABYFACE two-on-one until Ian Harrison shows up to even the odds. Did everyone forget how to book faces and heels? Piper shows up with a chair and gets physical with Hennig, Rena shows up with security, and the entire time Harrison is attempting to murder Buff with a choke hold while they bicker. The action to the match itself was fine, but what the hell was all that gaga after the bell?!
Final Thoughts: I'll open with some positivity. Whoever put the shows together at least made an effort to have storylines taking place across all their taping schedule instead of taping stuff for the sake of having content to push on potential distributors. Also, using 2001 logic, having a bunch of short, decent matches fit with the period, and with some of the names used, less is more. With that said, the booking is atrocious, with confusing authority figures and some poor match structure. What was with that Lawler match, and the nonsense following Hennig vs. Buff? Why are FACES getting the man advantage, needing a HEEL to balance the power? Why is JOSH MATHEWS being pushed as the second coming?
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