Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Through the Years: Royal Rumble 2002 Review

Royal Rumble 2002
January 20th, 2002 – Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia

While 2001 was a fun year to go back and watch, I'm more excited for 2002. I remember this year fondly as I thought that WrestleMania X8 was good, we had the return of the nWo, the rise of Brock Lesnar, the return of Shawn Michaels and the brand split that I loved so much. The WWF was about to become the WWE and Chris Jericho was the Undisputed Champion. Interesting time period for sure. Time for the first Pay-Per-View of that calendar year. 

Tag Team Championship
Spike Dudley and Tazz (c) d. The Dudley Boyz w/ Stacy Keibler
 in 5:26 to retain the titles
Why Tazz and Spike won the Tag Team Titles is beyond me. Anyway, a brawl begins but things quickly simmer as Bubba and Spike start. Spike is wearing a neck brace, so Bubba rips it off and targets the neck. Good god, Stacy looks hot. A near brainbuster from Bubba before he taunts Tazz. He tries it again, but Spike reverses and hits the Dudley Dog. Classic heel work as the referee doesn't see Spike make the tag and the Dudleys double flapjack Spike and he damn near hits the ceiling. D-Von misses a splash, the Dudleys accidentally clothesline each other and Tazz gets the tag. NAPOLEON RAMPAGE! He suplexes both Dudleys and then Bubba oversells offense from both Spike and Tazz. Stacy tries to get involved and gets put in the Tazzmission. D-Von stops that but gets the Tazzmission too and he submits. Decent enough. Not sloppy, kept short and that's all you could ask for. **

Recap of the Edge/William Regal feud before Lillian Garcia interviews the Intercontinental Champion in the back. Edge says that they can play dirty because he's broke Regal's nose with a steel chair and he can play dirty with the best of them. 

Intercontinental Championship
William Regal d. Edge (c)
 in 9:25 to win the title
Nick Patrick inspects Regal's trunks and discovers brass knuckles. Edge is on the offensive at the start as he comes out aggressively. He slams Regal's surgically repaired nose into the mat before eating a knee trembler. Regal suplexes Edge on his face in a bit of revenge. Weird how Edge goes from King of the Ring, to Intercontinental Champion, to wrestling over a freaking shampoo commercial at WrestleMania. Edge counters a double underhook powerbomb but Regal holds on and hits it anyway. He goes for the bomb again from the apron to the outside, but Edge blocks it and hits a DDT to continue focusing on Regal's face/nose. I don't know if I've ever seen a match where a guy targets the nose. Back inside, they run into each other and both men are down. Regal counters the Edgecution into the Regal Stretch because he's awesome. Edge, because he too is awesome, reverses into his own Regal Stretch. Dropkick and schoolboy get Edge a near fall before coming off the top with a spinning heel kick. Regal pulls yet another pair of brass knuckles out and levels Edge with it after Nick Patrick gets Speared by mistake. Regal covers and wins the gold. Much better than their match at Vengeance. This probably should have opened the show. ***1/2

Women's Championship
Trish Stratus (c) d. Jazz
 in 4:06 to retain the title
Working with girls like Lita and Jazz probably has a lot to do with Trish's vast improvement. Jacqueline is the referee for some reason. Actual Divas story here as Jazz smashed Trish's hand on a recent episode of Raw. They go for a series of quick rollup reversals to make Jackie work hard. Jazz targets the arm before dropping a leg across Trish. She wraps Trish's hand around the bottom rope and Trish sells the injury well. Jazz gets into a shoving match with Jackie, so the referee is slow to decide to count when Jazz gets a pin attempt. Jazz again destroys the hand. Trish wriggles out of Jazz's grasp and hits Stratusfaction but Jazz reverses the pin shockingly. I watched Jazz defeat men in ECW so I guess I shouldn't be too surprised. Trish hits a bulldog with the injured hand to win from out of nowhere, so not sure on that. Not bad, with good selling for the most part. Jazz still looked like a beast throughout, so that's good. **

Ric Flair is shown arriving with his son and daughter. It's Reid, who passed away a few years ago and Leah, the non-wrestling Flair. 

Street Fight
Ric Flair d. Vince McMahon
 in 15:05
My goodness does Flair look young compared to the present day. Vince is jacked, especially when standing next to Flair. Vince overpowers Flair and poses before getting him in the corner and chopping him. Flair has none of that, switches places and lights Vince's chest on fire to massive “woos” from the crowd. Vince continues to control with his strength as things go outside. As they fight up the aisle, Flair is gushing blood which was expected. Vince taunts Flair's kids before going inside and focusing on Flair's legs. So far, this is kind of disappointing. I normally love Vince's brawls. Vince slaps on the Figure Four and Flair reverses it. Vince grabs a pipe and Flair hits a low blow. Flair now takes control by using the old ass monitors on Vince. Seriously, it's 2014 and they're still using the same dumb monitors. Leah takes a photo of Vince's now busted open face. The Nature Boy hits Vince with the pipe and dancing before putting on the Figure Four and a bloody Vince taps. That was underwhelming. It wasn't bad, but I expect more from a Vince brawl. Also don't know why Vince controlled the entire match. **1/2

Stephanie McMahon interrupts as Michael Cole tries to interview Nick Patrick. She calls Triple H the favorite to win the Royal Rumble until Steve Austin comes up behind her. He delivers about 100 “whats” to run her off and then he does it to Cole. I still wish that we got Austin/Hogan at WrestleMania X8 instead of Rock/Hogan or Austin/Hall.

WWF Undisputed Championship
Chris Jericho (c) d. The Rock
 in 18:55 to retain
Alright, so after No Mercy and Vengeance, I have high hopes for this. Staredown highlighted by Jericho talking trash in Rock's face. Rock goes to retort and Jericho goes all WWF No Mercy/WCW Revenge by stealing his taunt. Rock levels him and we're underway. They trade moves in the ring until Jericho busts out the EDDIE GILBERT HOTSHOT! Jericho hits a spinning heel kick, and after seeing Edge busts one out earlier, it must be the Canadian theme of the night. He goes for the “COME ON BABY” pin but obviously doesn't win. Jericho exposes the turnbuckle very early and continues to hold serve. Rest hold time as Jericho puts on a headlock. Rock fights out of it and hits a second rope suplex. I refuse to call it a superplex unless it's from the top. Rock is in control until Jericho hits a face buster and Lionsault. A second Lionsault follows but Rock kicks out, so there goes his finisher as legit. Jericho pulls a HHH and gets into a shoving match with Hebner. They telegraph a spot where Rock catches Jericho in the Sharpshooter. Jericho taps but Lance Storm is out to distract the ref. Christian enters and Rock disposes of him. Jericho hits the Rock Bottom but Rock gets his shoulder up again. Jericho goes for the Jerichoholic Elbow but Rock tosses him outside. They clear off the announce tables and Jericho gets Rock Bottomed through one of them. Back in the ring, Rock gets a near fall. Jericho locks on the Walls but Rock reaches the ropes. Jericho tries again but gets pulled into a small package for two. Referee goes down and Jericho cold cocks Rocky with the belt for yet another near fall. Rock plants him with a DDT and Nick Patrick acts like he doesn't see. That's weird because he was the ref who sent Christian and Storm to the back. Rock takes him out and hits the People's Elbow but Hebner is still out. Rock goes to wake him and Jericho goes ultimate heel with a low blow, sending Rock into the exposed turnbuckle and rolling him up with his feet on the ropes. SUPER HEEL. Great match again as they have awesome chemistry. Just a shade below their other matches. ***3/4

HBK is LIVE...AND IN YO FACE at WWF New York. His prediction for the Royal Rumble is between The Undertaker and Steve Austin because they're all from Texas. And because it's Austin and the Undertaker. The Royal Rumble video package has generic music over it as I guess Kid Rock's “Cocky” is something they don't have the license for. 

Royal Rumble
Triple H wins
 in 71:24
Rikishi was number 30 last year and he's number 1 this time around. The returning Goldust draws number two. Basic back and forth with Goldust sneaking out around two minutes. It's weird to think that Goldust currently wrestles against Rikishi's kids. Big Bossman joins and I had no idea he was still employed. Goldust and Bossman double Rikishi and try to get him over. Business picks up as Bradshaw is out next. He shoulder blocks the hell out of Goldust. Stink Face and superkick for Bossman is followed by a clothesline that eliminates him. If this can be serious for a minute, Lance Storm draws number five. Time gets wasted by futile efforts to eliminate people. I miss the Storm/Hurricane tag team. Even their names say they should have lasted longer. WHAT DOES EVERYBODY WANT?! Al Snow enters at six. Bradshaw takes Storm's head off with a Clothesline from Hell. Not any credible threats in right now, which means someone like Kane needs to enter and clean house soon. Number seven arrives in the form of Billy Gunn. He eats a big boot from Bradshaw who is dominating. Storm and Snow do battle on the apron as Snow superkicks Storm and rids the match of him. Billy eliminates Bradshaw, which is disappointing. Intervals are longer than two minutes oddly. I asked for Kane, but The Undertaker at eight will do just fine. Taker chokeslams the hell out of Gunn and disposes of Goldust. Snow, who was getting a good pop is out as is Rikishi. Why would they leave Billy Gunn in of all of them? And there goes Gunn. Undertaker is alone. Matt Hardy is next, returning from Undertaker taking out both Hardys. Lita jumps in and hits Taker with a low blow. Lita and Matt stomp on Taker but he quickly recovers and runs things again.

Number ten arrives and it's Matt's brother Jeff. Now, Jeff, Matt and Lita stomp on Undertaker. Jim Ross is totally fine with Lita interfering in anything but not other valets. Undertaker shows that he's the big dog in the yard again but the Hardys don't give up. Twist of Fate and Swanton work but Poetry in Motion fails as Undertaker catches Jeff and dumps him. Matt goes for his Last Ride and is eliminated as well, leaving Undertaker alone once again. Well that was fun while it lasted. Tough Enough winner Maven draws unlucky number 11 and he looks very concerned. He runs into a big boot and Taker goes to eliminate him but Lita gets on the apron. Taker piefaces her hard and the Hardys are back in. Undertaker thwarts them and Maven dropkicks him out. The look on the Undertaker's face is one of the greatest things of all time. Undertaker proceeds to beat the holy hell out of Maven all around the arena. Scotty enters at 12 but also gets hit by Undertaker. Christian, his European Title and his epic entrance are number 13. Undertaker has now beaten Maven up even by the popcorn machine. YO, ITS ME, ITS ME, ITS DDP. I like him, you like him and he's gonna help you like you. In a preview of the European Title match at WrestleMania X8, DDP and Christian square off. Scotty hits Christian with the Worm. Halfway home as Chuck is out next. Scotty is dumped out as Christian and Chuck work over DDP. The Godfather arrives at 16 with the hoes. And more hoes. And more hoes. DDP is knocked out. Godfather's entrance takes up the entire 2 plus minutes. 17 is the hip hop hippo Albert. He doesn't last long as he and the Godfather are eliminated before weird ass Perry Saturn comes in at 18. He is wearing cow pattern on his trunks. The roof comes off as Steve Austin draws number 19. He beats Christian, Saturn and Chuck up and eliminates all three. 

Because there's still time for number 20, Austin brings Christian and Chuck back in the ring to give them Stunners and eliminates them again. In a callback to 1997, Austin checks his watch. The Big Valbowski returns at 20. He puts up a good fight against Austin and survives the two plus minutes. Test is in to no reaction. Weird how Test went from seven feet when he first arrived to “nearly 6'8” tonight. Doesn't matter as Austin ends up dumping both of them out. Triple H draws number 22 and ITS ABOUT TO GO DOWN. The Two Man Power Trip collides. The Game takes nearly as long as Godfather to make it to the ring where a fist fight ensues. Number 23 quickly arrives and its the Hurricane. Austin and HHH do the double clothesline spot allowing the Hurricane to pose. He goes to double chokeslam them and Austin and Hunter realize this and toss him out before focusing on each other. Faarooq draws number 24 and puts up a better fight than Hurricane but doesn't last much longer. Mr. Perfect enters at number 25 and I'm loving this. He does his thing but HHH and Austin try to knock him out until Kurt Angle arrives at 26. This is his first Rumble ever and he goes right for Triple H. “YOU SUCK! WHAT?” chants from the crowd. Austin saves Triple H from getting eliminated weirdly. I guess he still believes in the Two Man Power Trip. Big Show hits the scene next and he dominates as big men do. Chokeslams and big boots for everyone. Number 28 is Kane, who has beef with Show after their tag team failed miserably at Vengeance. They trade punches and both go for a chokeslam. Kane hits Show low and body slams him over and out, but it was nowhere near as good as Cesaro at WrestleMania XXX. A Stunner and Angle Slam cause Kane to be eliminated, putting us back to four. This is a star studded back end as Rob Van Dam is 29 and he instantly hits a Five Star Frog Splash. RVD owns everyone and hits Austin with Rolling Thunder. He turns into a Pedigree from Triple H though. The last man in is Booker T. He comes in and eliminates RVD to the crowd's dismay, but he turns that to cheers with a spinaroonie. Austin hits him with the Stunner and the final four is the same four that have been in for the most part. Austin reverses an Angle Slam and a Pedigree. Perfect and Angle nearly eliminate Austin but he holds on. Austin surprisingly is the first of the four out regardless and he takes Perfect outside to beat on him. Angle throws him into the steel steps but Austin gets a chair and lays out all three guys in the ring. They all slowly get up and Perfect gets a pop when he avoids elimination and hits the Perfect Plex. Triple H clotheslines him out though and it's down to Triple H and Angle, which should've been obvious because of their issues since HHH returned. Angle nearly gets him out and prematurely celebrates, which allows HHH to hit a knee to the face and clothesline him out.

Long Royal Rumble, but it kept me entertained throughout. We had Goldust returning, The Undertaker/Hardys portion, the Undertaker/Maven moment, Austin dominating and Triple H returning. Overlooked Rumble that doesn't get its due. ****1/4

Overall: 8/10; A great show. That's three straight years with a really good Rumble Pay-Per-View, but this was below both 2000 and 2001. Still, a solid Intercontinental Title match, decent brawl between Flair and Vince, really good Undisputed Title match and great Royal Rumble give this a high grade. Go out and see it.

Raw Recap and More

Last night, we saw an episode of Raw from Richmond, Virginia. Sting sent out a tweet last week that made sure everyone's eyes were on the 7.14.14 Raw. We are just six days away from a Battleground Pay-Per-View that is shaping up to be much better than last year's travesty. 

Before I get into the actual beginning of Raw, I'm going to talk about the biggest news coming out of last night and that's the insanely awesome WWE 2K15 commercial that we were treated to. Everyone now knows what 7.14.14 meant as the commercial featured an orchestra playing Sting's "crow" theme, before the man himself appeared. I don't ever pre-order these games because I don't usually care for the exclusives, but if Sting is only pre-order then I'm going to have to do it. Awesome to see Sting on WWE TV even if it's just a commercial.

Onto Raw, which opened with John Cena who came out and said a lot of nothing. He went over the rules of a Fatal Four Way match even though we've seen about a million of them. Roman Reigns interrupted and the crowd went nuts. They bicker until Dean Ambrose appears on screen to an even bigger pop and tells them to focus on the match tonight. Kane, Randy Orton and Seth Rollins show up behind him and beat him down. In a total badass moment, Ambrose asks if "that's all they've got." They continue the beating and it's totally selfish of Reigns and Cena to just stand in the ring and watch this. Assholes.

The Miz is up next and he is trying hard with this Hollywood gimmick. I know it may seem like a watered down 2003 Rock but it's different. See, The Rock was on his way to becoming a legit movie star while the Miz has starred in D list movies, yet he thinks he's bigger than he is. Anyway, he faced Sheamus, who has been on a tear of really good matches since his return at the Royal Rumble. This was no different as it was yet another solid match that Miz surprisingly won with a rollup. I feel that Miz is a strong pick for the Battle Royal at Battleground and I really hope Sheamus doesn't win an unify the belts. Also, Sheamus can get some revenge in a rematch tonight on Main Event. And we know how I love Main Event.

The Dolph Ziggler/Fandango/Summer Rae/Layla love rectangle had it's next chapter when Dolph and Fandano met in a singles match next. Not a special match or anything, but Summer Rae and Layla decided to dance on the announce table and distract both men. Dolph would win after a Fameasser and then became the luckiest man in Richmond when Summer and Layla joined him in the ring and kissed him on the check. Dolph takes his shirt, "Stealing the Show and your Girlfriend" very seriously. There was also an instagram photo with Summer and Layla grabbing Dolph's butt.

The next segment was pretty much nothing. Damien Sandow was dressed as a Sonic worker and for those who look forward to his impersonations, you have to be disappointed by this. Adam Rose comes out and sends Sandow away in a pointless segment that wasn't very funny. The Usos came out for a match but got taken out by Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Despite the fact that they've met many times, it's always good and their 2 out of 3 falls match at Battleground has show stealing potential.

Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger went head to head with Lana and Rusev in a Detente. It was pretty much just a giant argument that had the crowd into it. Lana is an absolute heat magnet and the Real American character can easily get over as a face because people love to be patriotic. I don't see Swagger beating Rusev at Battleground, but it should be a decent bout. I actually would like to see Swagger win though and solidify his face turn. How strange is it that after the Real Americans broke up, a few months later Swagger is the face and Cesaro is the heel? WE THE PEOPLE!

In another preview of the ridiculously huge Intercontinental Title Battle Royal, Rob Van Dam went one on one with Alberto Del Rio. Seriously, this battle royal is going to end up with as many people as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. These two can have a decent match in their sleep as they're both good in-ring workers. Del Rio gets RVD to tap out as RVD can't beat him just like last year at Battleground. Also of note, Del Rio and RVD were interviewed on the Pre-Show by Renee Young and it's listed as Live, but Renee is doing Superstars commentary at this time. Blasphemy!

It's interesting that the WWE was willing to let Brie Bella and her shitty acting potentially ruin Daniel Bryan's storylines but they keep Nikki Bella away from John Cena. Like, the Authority doesn't want Cena as Champion and they're picking on Nikki because of Brie, but wouldn't those two go good together? And it would work a lot better than Brie acting scared of Kane, who was just walking around in a suit a few weeks prior. Nikki also keeps coming out happy every week like she doesn't expect this unfair stuff by now. Rant over, Nikki Bella loses yet another handicap match, this one to Cameron and Alicia Fox. They could be the New Funkadactyls like how the Hardy Boyz became the New Brood for a bit.

Goludst and Stardust have yet another bizarre and awesome segment backstage. Cody, who could be doing so much more than this character, does seem to embrace it and is knocking it out of the park. Next up, we got a match with Big E and Cesaro. Cesaro is coming off of two consecutive losses to Kofi Kingston, including one during a commercial. He must be the new Rusev as he's facing all of the black guys on the roster. Xavier Woods, you're next. Cesaro is the opposite of Rusev though as he loses yet again. I don't know if they're going for a losing streak leading to a surprise title win at Battleground, but Cesaro losing to these guys going nowhere is hurting for sure.

Chris Jericho calls out Bray Wyatt in a fun segment because both are just fantastic on the microphone. This is another potential show stealer on the Battleground card. But we all know that Jericho invented promos and show stealing. Jericho brings up beating The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin on the same night and his triumphant victory in musical chairs. Bray asks if Jericho is afraid of the dark, and I'm sure Jericho has seen the Nickelodeon classic. The Wyatt Family appears and take out Jericho. Fun little segment. The WWE does ignore that this Sunday will NOT be the first meeting between Bray and Jericho.

AJ Lee, my favorite Diva, met my second least favorite Diva, Eva Marie next. Yes, I prefer Eva Marie to Rosa Mendes. After beating her just like she did on Smackdown, AJ Lee decided to join Paige on commentary. She continues to do little homages to CM Punk, like her "Best Diva in the World" reference the night after WrestleMania, by sitting on the announce table while talking to Paige. This "frenemies" thing is interesting. Lance Storm tweeted that Chris Jericho should do a remix of the Fozzy hit "Enemy" and turn it to "Frenemy". I decided to tweet him the remixed lyrics and he retweeted it which was cool. But enough about me, I'm eagerly anticipating the Divas Title match at Battleground.

After beating El Torito in a hard fought match last wek, Bo Dallas was challenged by the opposite of El Torito, The Great Khali. Dallas continues to amuse me as he shouts "BAD GIANT" at Khali during the match. Dallas would win by countout before calling Khali his "big buddy." Khali chops him and Dallas leaves feeling the pain. A nothing match but Dallas is entertaining as hell in this character.

The gorgeous Renee Young interviews the Nature Boy Ric Flair next. I bet he's not missing MEAN BY GAWD GENE! He seems drunk. He goes to the ring and talks about being the man. He picks John Cena to win at Battleground because he must have some kind of inside scoop that we don't know about. /endsarcasm. Roman Reigns interrupts but just shakes Flair's hand. As Flair leaves, Cena comes out and gives him the World Heavyweight Title. THEY BETTER NOT GET RID OF THAT BEAUTIFUL BELT! Because Cena and Reigns didn't bother to help Ambrose earlier, the main event is now a handicap match. Not a bad main event that ends via DQ and Roman Reigns stands tall at the end after Spearing Randy Orton.

Overall, we got a decent episode of Monday Night Raw. Did a good job in building towards Battleground but it had a lot of seemingly filler matches due to so many guys from the Battle Royal getting singles matches. Also of note, Seth Rollins may have injured his leg during the main event but it hasn't been reported if it's legit or not.

That's all for now, but expect a new review up later today of "Through the Years." Tune in next time, same Stone Cold time, same Stone Cold channel.