KING OF THE RING (Qualifying Matches) 2000:
* So I finally remembered to do another one of these, though we’re past the point where I can recall most of the angles. The name of the game this tournament is the same as last one- Make A New Star. Hopefully this “Kurt Angle” guy will prove more successful than Billy Gunn. This will be a MONSTER set, so I’ll split it up for today and tomorrow.
This tournament is unusual due to the MASSIVE roster of guys- the jam-packed company and no Russo at the time (therefore his attention span couldn’t wreck it) made for a 32-man tournament! We’ve got a huge assortment, though, as all four Radicalz (then newly-hired by the company), Chyna, Jericho & Rikishi provide serious competition, while the company’s vast tag ranks fill out slots left & right for “easy wins” or upsets- Too Cool, APA, T&A, the Hollies, Dudleys & Edge/Christian. This is a verrrrrrrrry interesting time for the company, as they put the final nail in WCW by hiring away four of their top workers, while Jericho & Rikishi had gotten over and Angle was now a completely miraculous rookie find. And what was a company based around having shitty 2-minute brawling matches now had a ton of great wrestlers all over the place, which was kind of shifting the basic style to longer matches with high spots.
Of course, having looked at all these matches… they’re still mostly super-short (as KOTR matches have been since 1994, to be fair), and OH GOD a ton of guys are still stuck in the “Punch & Kick” mode. Bad agenting was all around at this time, with only a handful of guys avoiding it. But it’d be a long, hard road to hit the point of improvement, and a lot of dudes who couldn’t make that transition saw their careers die. You’ll see a very high level of “the guy who loses the match does most of the offense”, probably in a way to look a bit strong or make him feel better about losing- this goes back a ways (you see mid ’90s joshi do this a bunch, too).
I’ll do the first round in one post, then see what I can find for the second round for next week.
RIKISHI vs. SHANE McMAHON:
(May 29th, RAW)
* Okay, I forget the story behind this. Shane is entered in the KOTR, but has to fight Rikishi, who is in the midst of his biggest year ever before everything went horribly wrong. Shane, in a WWF shirt & regular jogging pants, boasts about “beating the Big Show” and how Undertaker couldn’t beat him, marking him as a smart-mouthed wimpy heel.
Shane attacks as soon as Rikishi hits the ring, like a good heel should, but Rikishi promptly kicks his ass to a rousing rendition of “Shane’s a Pus-sy!” from the crowd. Triple-H comes out to distract, allowing Shane to hit a Flair Uppercut and his ridiculous jabs, which are at least in character here- he even looks at his fist like “Wow- look at that!” and celebrates, haha. And then he dances around so much that when he tries it again, Rikishi easily beats the shit out of him until HHH comes in, breaking up a Stinkface. But Rikishi actually fights him down and nearly gets him with the Stinkface, only for Shane to just say “fuck it” and blast him with a chair for the DQ at (2:35). And then nails him again, then lets HHH Pedigree him on the chair. And then, in a brilliant heel move, he rolls Rikishi over and counts his own pin, declaring himself the victor, and now I’m glad he gets the shit beat out of him so much, haha. What a tremendous heel.
Rating: 1/4* (nothing but punches, but Shane’s goofy pussy gimmick was pretty funny)
STEVE BLACKMAN (w/ Al Snow) vs. BULL BUCHANAN (w/ The Big Bossman)
(May 29th, RAW)
* Aaaaaaaand now we finally see another BULL BUCHANAN match in my series. This was well after his Truth Commission run, as a big, muscular guy with some athleticism was gonna get at least a few chances, so they paired him off on a midcard tag team with a veteran (the Bossman) to see what became of him. Unfortunately, nothing ever did, and he was dumped after his team with John Cena was formed a few years later.
They fight at the bell, Blackman winning and hitting a flying kick, but Bull lands a short-arm clothesline and does a pretty aimless beatdown (Blackman selling a pump kick pretty weakly, taking it on his side and tripping down). I actually overhear the exact exchange between JR & Lawler that Chris Hyatte always referenced back in the day, where JR talks about Bull’s weight and Jerry cracks “What size is his HEAD?” and JR stumbles and they mute the mics aand JR is obviously infuriated as it comes back on, “– think it’s hysterical how I prepare for this broadcast- what the hell’d you do today? Go to a MALL?” while Lawler can’t stop laughing “Three and a quarter/four and an eighth- WHO CARES?”. The bored crowd distract themselves with a “We Want Puppies!” chant. Bull throws kicks, but Blackman ignores them and hits a DDT, but misses a headbutt off Bret’s rope and Bull immediately pounces- Scissor Kick to the back of the head finishes Blackman at (3:24). Wow, that was out of nowhere. This easy clean win did NOT bode well for the Head Cheese team. But when Bossman uses the nightstick after the bell, Blackman single-handedly takes out both guys, Al finishing the job! So, uh, I guess they still want Blackman over?
Rating: 1/4* (the worst of the Attitude Era style, with two charisma-less guys just kind of aimlessly kicking and punching each other until one misses a basic move and takes a transition move for the win)
ALBERT (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. CRASH HOLLY:
(June 1st, SmackDown)
* Crash is pretty new to the company by this point, but Albert’s been repackaged from Droz’s goon to an upstart tag guy, but that never took off. He’s in a black shirt (thank Christ) and the shiny leather pants, while Crash is in blue & black shorts.
Albert easily hefts Crash around the ring repeatedly, an impressive feat given Crash’s 400-lb. weight at this point, and hits a giant swing- but dizzying himself so he misses a charge, and Crash hits a tornado DDT for two. Crash tries to brawl and gets killed, but when Albert tries a powerbomb, Crash rolls up and over, sunset flipping him… for the win (1:25)! Crash wins an upset! Trish rams Crash into the post after the match so Albert can hit an inverted fireman’s carry swinging neckbreaker to get his heat back.
Rating: 1/4* (super-short nothing match- pretty unrealistic for Crash to even hold him down with that little time elapsed)
Kurt Angle, back when he had hair and no terrifying dead look in his eyes!
KURT ANGLE vs. BRADSHAW:
(June 1st, SmackDown)
* Angle, arguably the top guy in the tournament, is actually given one of the tougher first round opponents in Bradshaw, always the “superior” Acolyte, who was always kept protected and credible. Angle’s singlet is now covered in flags, while Bradshaw’s in the typical black. Angle cuts a promo before the match about being in a “slump”, as he’s failed to get the IC or Euro Titles recently, but is SO SURE of his impending victory here he didn’t even bother to find out who his opponent was. So of course it’s BRADSHAW, and you see Kurt nervously mutter “shit!” while rapidly pulling his straps up, haha.
Bradshaw charges in at the bell and immediately tosses Angle into the stairs and beats on him- Kurt resists a powerbomb and takes him down with a toehold & front facelock into a cradle, but Bradshaw hits a big boot. Angle immediately catches him with a backdrop suplex before he can capitalize- Bradshaw reverses a vertical suplex but Angle reverses to a belly-to-belly, immediately upping the kind of offense in the company. Bradshaw catches him a few times and even hits the Clothesline From Hell, but Angle tumbles close to the ropes and gets his foot on to stop the pin. Bradshaw tries the powerbomb again but Angle threads it right into the Olympic Slam for the pin at (3:46), pulling out the come-from-behind victory!
Pretty slick- Angle’s stuff looked tremendous, as did his selling. He gave Bradshaw a lot, and even ate his set-up move (it wasn’t QUITE a finisher yet), but saved its credibility by getting his foot on the ropes. Another win where the guy eats a ton of offense and then wins, but both guys came out pretty strong.
Rating: ** (not bad for such a short match- Angle’s stuff all looks super-impactful)
CHYNA (w/ Eddie Guerrero) vs. THE GODFATHER (w/ Hos & Dean Malenko):
(June 4th, Sunday Night Heat)
* This is after Chyna’s IC run, when Latino Heat’s lust for her carried her through a new angle. Dean, a fellow Radical with Eddie, is hanging out with the Hos, having been reimagined as a skirt-chasing pervert (which… Eddie is also doing. I mean, it’s the Attitude Era, why not?). Chyna’s in the leather top & hot pants, while Godfather’s in neon yellow pants and a black shirt. Eddie’s mullet is legendary at this point, shaved at the sides and a foot long in the back. Godfather’s act is still TREMENDOUSLY over (shortly before they destroyed it with the “RTC” run), but instead of offering Chyna the Hos so she’ll forfeit, he suggests “I AM a pimp- I guess I’m just gonna have to kick yo’ ass”. PURE BABYFACE!
The bell sounds while everyone’s still piling out of the ring, so Chyna just takes out the Godfather’s leg. Good move- he’s IMMENSE, to the point where this is a ludicrous match otherwise. She works the knee and clotheslines him down, but he boots her into the corner and rolls her up for two. He backdrops out of a powerbomb and hits a back elbow & “run around in place” legdrop, but misses a Vader Bomb by a mile. This sets up the Cartwheel Handspring Back Elbow, but he reverses a whip to the corner and sets up the Ho Train (running avalanche). But Dean distracts the ref and Chyna dodges Godfather, allowing Eddie to paste him with the bouquet he brought to the ring. Chyna wins at (1:55), as Eddie makes sure to swing around the metal pipe he had under the bouquet on-camera to reveal the trick. This was kept SUPER short to protect both parties, but worked for that, since they did what they could instead of tried what they can’t.
Rating: 1/2* (another super-basic short bout)
VAL VENIS (w/ Trish Stratus) vs. AL SNOW:
(June 4th, Sunday Night Heat)
* Val vs. Al! Battle of the Attitude Era gimmicks that didn’t last! Val is managed by Trish as a one-off, shocking the commentators (Dok Hendrix suggests she’s trying to increase her chances of a KOTR after Albert lost). Val still gets a decent-ish reaction to his theme, at least. Al is weird- he’s just blank-faced, coming down in baggy black pants like a jobber… okay he’s just using Blackman’s gear and manner. Thankfully Kevin Kelly explains that he’s trying to adopt a more serious attitude. Neither guy has a theme I recognize, either- how long did Val use this up-tempo version?
Al uses martial arts-type stuff to continue the gimmick, with a legsweep and cross-blocking Val’s fists, but eats a clothesline, aaaaaaaaand now they’re just doing Attitude-style brawling, throwing a billion punches. Val backdrops him out and hits a sliding dropkick, then they aimlessly brawl back and forth for AGES. Trish distracts the ref and Snow gets a wheelbarrow suplex (or “fallaway slam” according to Kelly). Val nearly gets him with the Perfect Plex, but Al reverses to a small package for two. Al takes forever to set up a moonsault (!) and misses, so Val hits a shitty spinebuster (Al sells it like a trip) and hits the Money Shot (flying splash) for the win at (4:29).
Just DREADFUL. This was “Attitude Era Style” at its very worst, as two guys just aimlessly do “punch, punch, punch, kick to stomach, forearm to back” in lieu of any actual wrestling for several minutes. Each guy has some good moves, but this was antiseptic and “Serious Al” just looks blank-faced and bored. Both guys were just DONE when the Radicalz came in and revolutionized the company’s midcard anyways.
Rating: * (two long for what they were doing- a few good moves interspersed by “Just Punching”)
CHRIS BENOIT vs. “THE ROAD DOGG” JESSE JAMES (w/ Tori & X-Pac):
(June 5th, 2000)
* This is one of MANY times these two fought on TV during the course of the year, for reasons I don’t remember. Typically Benoit won handily. Now he’s the successful IC Champion against a heel Road Dogg and reunited DX. Dogg’s in all black while Benoit has the red tights with black tiger stripes. I always forget how swole Benoit was- his neck is literally wider than his head.
X-Pac trips Benoit up before the lock-up, leading to a slide-kick wiping him out seconds later. Dogg uses the distraction to take over, but Benoit ducks his shimmying punch and chops away. Snap suplex sets up the Flying Headbutt, but X-Pac has Tori distract the ref so he can crotch Benoit up-top. But that draws out the Dudleys, who distract everyone, leading to Benoit using the MDK variant of the Distraction Roll-Up- the Distraction German Suplex, for the win at (1:42). Good lord! Is he trying to KILL the man? Wow, this was abridged even by *RAW* standards! The Dudleys pounce on Tori after the bell, because Bubba’s fetish at the time was powerbombing women through tables. Despite his lust for hurting women, this is a BABYFACE move, so the crowd boos when X-Pac prevents him from powerbombing Tori over the top rope and through a table (a bump so insane even AEW hasn’t done it). oh, 2000 WWF.
Rating: 1/4* (barely even some shuffling around before the pin- Benoit was largely stuck using punches to fit Dogg’s style)
HARDCORE HOLLY vs. FAAROOQ:
(June 5th, WWF RAW)
* Two tag guys go at it, with both guys in black. Holly’s the bigger star at this point, but the APA were always kept a bit strong.
They brawl as soon as Faarooq hits the ring, Holly getting a dropkick but taking a spinebuster & powerslam for two-counts. Holly hits the floor but rolls Faarooq up when he tries bringing him in the hard way, but a clothesline hits him for two. Holly gets an inside cradle but repeatedly gets beaten up and tossed around outside, but when Faarooq tries for the Dominator (powerbomb lift into a front falling slam), he reverse to the Falcon Arrow for the win (3:05)! Holly steals one! Pretty one-sided contest until then, probably by design, but taking a clean loss in three minutes to Holly is a sign where Faarooq is in the pecking order for sure.
Rating: 1/2* (pretty simple AE brawl with mostly punches and some simple power moves by Faarooq)
Ah, the days when Trish was a forgettable valet.
CHRIS JERICHO vs. TEST (w/ Trish Stratus):
(June 8th, SmackDown)
* Test is now just a T&A goon heel, and the Ayatollah of Rock & Rolla calls him the “Jerkle of the Squared Circle”, which possibly needed to be workshopped a bit more.
They fight immediately (man that is getting to be a cliché in the tournament), Jericho countering Test’s size with chops, a spinning heel kick & springboard (!) missile kick off the apron (usually he just slingshots!). Test comes back with a big boot, full nelson slam & brawling, appearing to blow himself up as Jericho reverses a whip and Test takes the worst bump ever, backwards into the corner (actually missing it a bit). He comes back with his gutwrench falling powerbomb for two. Such is this era that Y2J makes a comeback only ten seconds later, getting his boot up in the corner and hitting a 2nd-rope dropkick. They do “reverse a reversed whip” spot twice in a row, Jericho hitting a flying forearm & back elbow on them, but tries the Lionsault… and Trish whips her boot into his face! Test nearly gets the pin off that, and the crowd pops for the kickout, having bought that fall. Jericho gets a rollup, but Trish distracts the ref. Test goes for his Pumphandle Slam finish, but Y2J lands on his feet, shoves him into Trish, then hits the Bulldog/Lionsault combo for the win at (4:14). Pretty big comeback victory for Chris- the deck was stacked against him here but he still won cleanly!
Rating: *1/2 (actually not bad for the time given- Test got a lot of semi-decent offense and Jericho had good timing on his comebacks. There was good cheating AND good counters to it)
EDDIE GUERRERO (w/ Chyna) vs. MATT HARDY (w/ Lita):
(June 8th, SmackDown)
* The Hardyz are pretty over at this point, but don’t have much singles credibility. Matt has a red shirt and black baggy jeans, while Eddie’s in black with blue, and still with Chyna, whose leather gear is covered in metal studs. No Lita for some reason.
Contrary to most Attitude Era stuff, both guys do a good sequence of counter-wrestling using acrobatics and roll-throughs, Matt rolling through a snapmare and keeping on an armbar, for example. Matt hits an armdrag & tilt-a-whirl slam, then tosses him with the Eddie Bump, but Eddie counters the Twist of Fate to a backslide, and then hurricanranas him out of another “Eddie Bump” spot for two! Matt rolls him back for two, then Eddie rolls forwards and they do a good “pin-flipping” ECW sequence, and instead of pausing for claps Matt just dashes forward into Eddie’s neckbreaker- nice! Eddie goes up, but Matt catches him with a Superduperplex and both are out- Matt rolls over for two, but Eddie reverses another ToF to an impactful Northern Lights suplex and goes up again- Matt dodges but Eddie rolls through on the landing- Matt launches him into the corner, but runs into an elbow and Eddie ranas him again, for the three (4:10)!
Hey, not bad! Not a lot of time but they didn’t just fill time with punches- they COUNTER-WRESTLED and Eddie gave him a ton and then used psychology to counter. Repeated spots were punished, Matt kept going for his finisher too much, and Eddie was just too smart for him. Eddie was generous as hell here and clearly wanted to show what he could do, AND how he could help out another guy.
Rating: **1/2 (shockingly good for the time given)
Bubba Ray’s huge babyface run involved his sexual pleasure derived from hurting women. ATTITUDE!
PERRY SATURN vs. D-VON DUDLEY:
(June 11th, Heat)
* D-Von is your “Disposable Tag Guy”, notably de-pushed in favor of his brother, while Saturn’s probably #3 in the Radicalz pecking order but still somewhat fresh here. Saturn’s in black trunks while D-Von’s in a black sleeveless shirt with blue fatigues.
D-Von manages two running moves off of Irish whip runs, but Saturn hits a superkick & pumphandle backdrop suplex. D-Von fights back with punches and a running forearm (are all this dude’s moves hit off the ropes?), but gets caught in a fireman’s carry drop. D-Von gets a sunset flip from the second rope, but is clotheslined. They brawl back and forth until D-Von hits ANOTHER running-off-the-ropes move and a superplex, but TORI comes down, probably still pissed over that attempted injury from before. But then Bubba secretly Hamburglars in a hilariously cartoonish walk, but D-X hits the area and X-Pac hits the X-Factor on the floor. Road Dogg nails D-Von and that’s that- Saturn hits a powerbomb and a GREAT Flying Elbowdrop (almost overshooting D-Von!) for the win at (4:52).
One of the longer matches of the tourney, and not bad. D-Von seems ridiculously limited when he’s on offense and has to plug shit in instead of tagging out, but at least his running stuff keeps things moving instead of plodding. Saturn had great stuff but wasn’t on offense for most of it.
Rating: *1/2 (fine enough TV match)
THE BIG BOSS MAN vs. BUBBA RAY DUDLEY:
(June 11th, Heat)
* YUP. Boss Man is apparently already fighting with Bull and… wow I was gonna say “he was on his way out” but he lasted until *2003*. Jesus. Any semblance of a push was long since gone by this point, though. As Bubba is the “Pushed Dudley” he could actually win this one.
Shockingly, this match starts with lots of punching back and forth. Bubba goes balls-first into the post, and Boss Man just throws punches, clotheslines and chokes to fill time. Big boot & spinebuster have Bubba on the ropes, but out comes Bull- Bubba uses the distraction for a backdrop suplex & elbow, then tosses Boss Man to the floor. Boss Man clobbers Bull, but takes a shot to the back and is then caught by the Bubba Cutter for the pin (3:22). Saves a bit of face for the loser here.
Rating: 1/4* (another dreadful “all punching and moving around” match)
X-PAC (w/ Tori & Road Dogg) vs. DEAN MALENKO (w/ Two Hos):
(June 12, RAW)
* X-Pac at his annoying heel phase that lasted for pretty well the rest of his career is set up against the still-new Dean, who is now portrayed as a doofy ladies’ man, now coming down with two of the Godfather’s Hos. Lilian Garcia hilariously botches Dean’s announcement, proclaiming him the “WWF H– uuuhhh Hight Heavyweight Champion!”. Both guys were trained by Dean’s father, Boris, which is actually noted by JR on commentary.
They start off with the classic punches, but promptly switch to a cool thing where they each roll through stuff until Dean hits the Texas Cloverleaf, X-Pac making the ropes. X-Pac catches him with a great spinkick and puts him into Bronco Buster position, but Dean slides out, leaving X-Pac going balls-first into the turnbuckle. Dean hits his roundhouse kick and powerslam for two-counts (Dogg yanks his leg to break it up), then a release Tiger Driver (!), but stops to take a swing at Tori and Road Dogg knocks him down- the X-Factor hits in the ring for the pin at (2:00). Okay that’s INSANELY fast even for this era.
Rating: 3/4* (they threw out most of their best shit, but it’s still only two minutes long!
CHRISTIAN (w/ Edge) vs. JEFF HARDY:
(June 12th, RAW)
* The feuding tag teams fittingly have members opposing each other. However, in the previous segment, Chris Benoit brutally beat Matt Hardy during their match, then blasted Jeff with the IC belt when he check on his brother- this leaves Jeff in the ring, groggy and vulnerable. Good booking- give him an “out” or a great underdog win, either way!
Christian, in the white tights this time, attacks at the bell and hits rolling vertical suplexes until Jeff small packages him for two. Front suplex gets two for Christian as the commentators completely write off Jeff’s chances, but he lands on his feet trying a Moonsault and backdrops Christian and dropkicks him into the post. Christian catches him up top and then Edge trips him up, so Christian hits a Superduperplex… but Jeff hooks his leg and that’s a pin- Jeff wins at (1:57)! Okay, these lightning-fast RAW matches are weird. Good come-from-behind win for Jeff, at least- catching Christian despite the unfair advantage.
Rating: 3/4* (just too short to be any good)
EDGE (w/ Christian) vs. GRANDMASTER SEXAY (w/ Scotty 2 Hotty):
(June 15th, SmackDown)
* Sexay at this point is largely a disposable partner as Scotty is getting WAY more over. But a SUCCESSFUL partner, as Too Cool are the Tag Champions at this point! Sexay’s in black & white baggy pants, while Edge is in red tights with a badass open jacket.
Sexay uses his speed advantage over Edge and hits a missile kick off the second rope for two, then clotheslines him over the top and slide-kicks E&C! He dances too much, though, and Edge drops him on the steel steps to come back, beating on him until Sexay suplexes him crotch-first on the top rope. Enzuigiri and he goes up, but Edge follows him… and takes a sunset flip powerbomb! You didn’t see THAT very much in the WWF! That gets two, then Christian pulls Sexay’s leg- this sets off a fight, but Edge runs into his brother and Sexay rolls him up for two! Edge misses a clothesline and eats a neckbreaker, setting up the Hip-Hop Drop (flying legdrop)- Christian is dragged off by Scotty before he can interfere. But the ref gets distracted, so SHANE MCMAHON for some reason comes out, blasting Sexay with a chair so Edge can get the win (5:11).
This was verrrrrrrry typical to the AE- lots and lots of punches and kicks and very basic stuff between the “real” moves. Edge would at least throw in a random “attempting clothesline” or something to break up the non-stop Sexay offense- since Edge was winning anyhow, it made sense to give Sexay most of the match to make it REALLY look unfair.
Rating: *3/4 (pretty basic AE match for the time, but some good energy)
Scotty’s Worm- the most ridiculous move ever that got AMAZINGLY over.
D’LO BROWN vs. SCOTTY 2 HOTTY:
(June 15th, SmackDown)
* This one seemed like it would favor D’Lo, but it’s a ways after he ended Droz’s career, an act that ruined his career in retrospect. Scotty is just getting a lot of attention in the tag team division, but could easily have been a “disposable easy loss” in here. D’Lo’s in all black, while Scotty’s in baggy red pants.
D’Lo attacks before the bell and tosses Scotty to the apron, but misses a shot and Scotty rolls in, dodges another move, then hits a superkick & dropkick, doing both a Spinaroonie (pre-Booker’s arrival) and then a kip-up to show off. He does the moonwalk but takes the Eddie Bump- D’Lo pounds away and hits his signature legdrop, but is energy is all gone by now. D’Lo gets two, but eats a dropkick tossing Scotty again. Scotty lands punches, a backdrop and a bulldog to set up The Worm, right when it was getting MASSIVELY over- poor D’Lo has to lie there for twenty seconds of that. D’Lo catches him with a big slam coming off the top rope with a flying DDT attempt, screams “What’s my name, PUNK!?” and goes up himself- Lo Down (frog splash) misses, and Scotty finishes with the jumping DDT off the second rope at (3:54). The crowd loves that; Scotty was really getting genuinely popular at this time.
D’Lo’s career went into a tailspin from this point- he’s in the “Lo Down” team with Chaz after this. Without Russo backing him and his own confidence issues after the Droz thing, he lost a lot of steam and was just done. Scotty here was mostly funny antics and dancing, but the Worm got over HUGE.
Rating: * (basic Attitude Era punching & tossing until the come from behind win)
So overall, we have two matches won by distraction (X-Pac, Benoit), three by interference (Chyna, Bubba, Edge), and almost the entirety of the rest by reversing momentum or reversing a move and getting the win. All in all, the matches were horrendous- it’s not for nothing that the Attitude Era was known for screwjob wins and short-ass matches. Here we frequently saw only 2-3 minute affairs. Granted, KOTR bouts were typically ALWAYS short for some reason, but this feels exceptional. Especially with only two matches on each show. I know these programs were jam-packed with angles and ongoing plots, but Jesus.
In any case, join me tomorrow for the Second Round, which all aired on one episode of TV!