Monday, August 4, 2014

Through the Years: King of the Ring 2002

King of the Ring 2002
June 23rd, 2002 – Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio – Attendance: 14,200

Coming off of some rough Pay-Per-Views, 2002 was fumbling. However, I remember things picking up around this time. The final King of the Ring Pay-Per-View is here and the Semi-Finals will be held between Brock Lesnar, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam and Test. I just wanna sing “ONE OF THESE THINGS JUST DOESN'T BELONG HERE!” The Undertaker was in the midst of his WWE Undisputed Championship run but this was before his classic with Jeff Hardy. Ratings were struggling and going down and Steve Austin famously walked out the night he was to wrestle Brock and he was upset at the lack of shine given to him in 2002. Judging by his matches with Big Show, The Undertaker and Ric Flair, I have to agree. 

Interestingly, the opening video package doesn't mention anything about the WWE Championship match and instead, only focuses on the King of the Ring Tournament itself, which I love. The stage here is the one with the giant throne/chair and I always thought that was a pretty cool one.

King of the Ring Semi-Finals
Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam

Back at Unforgiven 2001, these two had one of my favorite matches of the year. RVD is in the midst of his second Intercontinental Title run, while Jericho was Undisputed Champion a few months prior. Early wristlocks include RVD hitting some very weak kicks. Jericho hits a shoulder block and shouts “IM THE KING OF THE WORLD”! They both go for dropkicks and RVD taunts in his face as crowd says it with him. RVD connects with a monkey flip and I would like to point out that his attire is great. Jericho misses his trademark springboard dropkick, allowing RVD to hit a somersault over the top. RVD sets up for the Five Star but Jericho kicks Brian Hebner into the ropes, crotching RVD. Jericho whips out a double underhook suplex from the top from his WCW days for two. Time to expose the turnbuckle and while the referee fixes it, RVD gets a small package that would've gotten him three. Jericho fights back and connects with a poor looking Breakdown for two. REST HOLD time once Jericho gets back on the offensive. RVD does his ridiculous cartwheel moonsault after a step over enziguri. We get a series of counters from both guys for a bit that Jericho wins with a beautiful release German. I'm a sucker for a good German suplex. RVD manages to nail the split legged moonsault for a near fall and so far, this is a great choice for the opener. Jericho attempts the Walls to a big pop but RVD counters into a rollup for two. Jericho sends RVD into the exposed buckle and rolls him up with the ropes for leverage but still can't win. YOU'RE HEELING WRONG! Lionsault misses and Jericho walks into a spin kick. Five Star Frog Splash also misses though, followed by a connected Lionsault. RVD surprises everyone by getting his shoulder up. Wow. RVD goes for a hurricanrana, but Jericho turns it into the Walls only to have the ropes save RVD. They fight op top and Jericho falls, allowing RVD to hit the Five Star and win!

Winner: Rob Van Dam in 14:32
Great choice for an opener. The near falls and missed finishers at the end were frantic and this was a big win for an Intercontinental Champion. ****

Jerry “The King” Lawler enters to get a word with Rob Van Dam. He says it doesn't matter to him if it's Test or Brock that he faces in the finals. Yea, Rob, you should prefer Test. Jericho attacks him post match and puts him in the Walls. Brock and Paul Heyman are watching in the back on a monitor. 

King of the Ring Semi-Finals
Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. Test

Test beat Hurricane and Hardcore Holly to advance. Talk about an easy road. This is also the first Pay-Per-View to feature Brock's official theme music. If anyone thinks that Test has a chance here, they're clueless. THE GREATEST REFEREE IN THE HISTORY OF OUR SPORT Nick Patrick is calling this one as Brock eats multiple clotheslines. Brock steps outside to regain his composure. Test stomps a mudhole in Brock when he gets back in. Brock uses an impactful spinebuster to turn things around. He continues to dominate with backbreakers and powerful offense. Test thinks it's 1990 as he does an atomic drop but gets powerslammed. They miscue a spot and awkwardly try to fix it. Test hits an impressive sidewalk slam but only gets a near fall. He even does a full nelson slam for two. Test has looked quite impressive here. He goes for the Pump Handle Slam, but Brock wriggles free only for Test to hit it shortly after. Brock gets his shoulder up as Paul Heyman nearly pooped himself. Test goes for the big boot but Brock dodges and again, ends up getting hit with it. He kicks out to everyone's surprise again. A Heyman distraction allowed Brock to connect with the F5 and advance.

Winner: Brock Lesnar in 8:18
Surprisingly good. Test was all the rave in 1999 but had fallen off since then. However, he looked good here and actually had people believing he would win. **1/2

Jonathan Coachman is backstage and asks Raw superstars who will win the King of the Ring, since both finalists are from Raw. Bubba Ray Dudley wisely chooses Brock. Mark or Marc Lloyd goes to ask Smackdown guys about the the KOTR Finals. Lance Storm and Christian come out and wanted an all Canadian final between Test and Jericho. Christian says the WWE and America is prejudice against Canada. He rightfully says that the rest of the world hates America and here is the birth of the Un-Americans.

Michael Cole and Tazz are somewhere not commentating because Pay-Per-Views had to be called by Raw announcers. On a recent Talk is Jericho podcast, Paul Heyman said that he fought for his Smackdown guys to be able to call matches, especially Smackdown ones, on Pay-Per-Views. I commend him for that.

Cruiserweight Championship
The Hurricane (c) vs. Jamie Noble w/ Nidia

Oh my goodness, this is a Cruiserweight Title match with an actual storyline. Nidia and her boyfriend JAMIE NOBLE BOY targeted The Hurricane and even stole his cape and mask. WASSUPWITDAT?! Nidia is sporting Hurricane's cape to ringside. Hurricane gets the quick upper hand and strikes a pose. He connects with the Shining Wizard and goes for the Chokeslam, but Noble blocks it. He takes a superkick anyway for two. I believe that Nidia is getting “she's a crack whore” chants but it's not loud enough to be sure. Nidia messes up her attempt to trip up Hurricane but he does his best with it. It leads to Noble hitting a clothesline outside. Noble is in control and he applies an abdominal stretch for a bit. Hurricane tries a comeback but gets hit with an electric chair drop. The only thing better than the abdominal stretch is a seated abdominal stretch, which Noble does now. Hurricane fights out and applies a sleeper hold, but it's reversed into a jawbreaker. Noble now puts on a sleeper hold. Hurricane gets out and scores with a neckbreaker and a second rope blockbuster. Eye of the Hurricane is reversed into a German suplex but the Champion hits it anyway for two. Noble gets suplexed from the inside to the outside and looks like he tweaks his ankle. Hurricane soars out onto him. Both men get to the top and Hurricane hits a beautiful top rope swinging neckbreaker. I've never seen that before. Nidia distracts the referee so no count could be made. Hurricane chokeslams Noble and he somehow kicks out. Surprising stuff. Mistake is made when Hurricane gets crotched on the top and Noble hits a powerbomb. He gets the pin as Nidia knocks Hurricane's foot off the rope.

Winner and New Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble in 11:38
These two surprisingly got a good amount of time. I think there was a rest hold or two too many, but all in all, I enjoyed this. ***

The Rock is shown from earlier tonight arriving to a massive pop. Terri Runnels is standing by with Eddie Guerrero. They show clips of Eddie and Chris Benoit beating on Ric Flair. Flair was a face two PPVs ago and a heel last PPV, but now he's a face again. Eddie says hi to his family, which is stereotypically about 100 people deep.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Ric Flair
According to Flair, this is him believing that he has a final run in him. Eddie uses his clear quickness advantage to cause Flair to rethink his strategy outside. One chop from Flair causes Eddie to retreat and Flair to strut. We get a more aggressive Eddie once he come back but it still ends with him getting chops and short arm punches. Flair hits a low blow after directing the official's attention elsewhere. Eddie hits a dropkick to the knee that Flair sells like it broke his kneecap. He screams in agony and drops. Eddie has chosen to target the knee, but I'm not sure why. Ah, Eddie tells me why as he uses Flair's Figure Four. Insult to injury I guess. Flair survives but gets put in a headlock. Eddie misses the Frog Splash and it looks like the MOOD IS ABOUT TO CHANGE. Oh wait, Tazz isn't here. Flair sets up for the Figure Four as Chris Benoit walks down in slacks. Eddie reaches the ropes and reverses a suplex into a rollup for two. Flair tries another pin that is sloppy. I feel like each match has had some sort of botch so far. Eddie hits a tornado DDT and goes for the pin but Flair gets his foot on the rope. Flair ends up outside and Benoit locks him in the Crossface while Eddie distracts the referee. The referee sort of notices so he kicks Benoit out. Bubba Ray Dudley arrives and hits the Bubba Bomb on Eddie. Benoit chases him through the crowd as Flair crawls back in and gets the pin.

Winner: Ric Flair in 16:50
Who thought to give this more time than Jericho/RVD? It wasn't bad, I'm just curious. The finish was stupid as Flair didn't look good at all. But it was a solid contest that got hurt by being a bit too long. **1/4

William Regal and Christopher Nowinski are at The World and they insult the waitress, who sticks her finger in his food. I don't ever want to eat there.

Women's Championship
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Molly Holly

Molly was great in her virtuous role. Action starts before the bell as Molly gets the upper hand with a back body drop. The commentary discusses Molly's ass throughout the match so that's unfortunate. Trish surprises by athletically climbing Molly's shoulders and rolling her up for two. She gets another rollup for another near fall but Molly is tired of that junk and drop toe holds Trish onto the bottom rope. They go outside where Molly slams Trish's face on the apron and then whips her into the guardrail. Molly climbs to the top for the Molly Go Round, but Trish stops her and does her Stratusfying handstand hurricanrana. Trish chops Molly so much that her elbow pad flies off. Chick Kick connects but Molly blocks Stratusfaction and hits a German for two. She climbs again and misses the Molly Go Round, allowing Trish to Roll her up but Molly reverses and uses handful of tights to win.

Winner and New Women's Champion: Molly Holly in 5:41
A good women's contest. Molly was truly great in this role and the shady win worked well. Of course the commentary just talking about Molly's ass is annoying. **

Marc or Mark Lloyd is backstage with Kurt Angle, who is sporting his ridiculous wig. Angle is offended that people call his match with Hogan a battle of “American Heroes” because Hogan hasn't done anything to be an American hero. He's kind of right.

Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle
The collar and elbow tie up ends with Hogan shoving Angle to the mat and hard. A good old fashioned top wristlock follows and again Hogan powers out and sends Angle outside. Angle gets back inside and Hogan poorly sells a clothesline. Hogan gets back on the offensive by ramming Angle's head into the turnbuckle while the fans count along with it. Hogan's offense never left the 80's. Angle uses a well placed low blow to stop Hogan's momentum. Belly to back suplex and Angle is all like “WOO”. Hogan counters a suplex with one of his own and delivers his scoop slam. Angle goes all Roddy Piper and puts Hogan in a sleeper. Hogan survives the sleeper hold and rallies but eats another belly to back suplex. Hogan kicks out of the Angle Slam, which everyone seems to kick out of now. STRAPS ARE DOWN AND HULK IS UP! THE IRRESISTABLE FORCE MEETS THE IMMOVABLE OBJECT! Of course Hogan wins out with the big boot but no Leg Drop. He removes Angle's wig instead, forcing Angle to walk out. Hogan puts the wig on, causing Angle to turn around with a chair. Hogan ducks and the chair hits the ropes, bouncing back into Angle's face. Hogan goes for the Leg Drop but Angle counters and gets the Ankle Lock! Hogan nearly breaks it but Angle won't let go! Even when Hogan gets to the ropes. Hogan has to tap out, which is one of the craziest things I've ever seen.

Winner: Kurt Angle in 12:08
As with most stuff Hogan did in 2002, this wasn't great. Angle did his best and the ending was pretty fun. **1/4

We are now treated to the absolutely hilarious Goldust, Booker T and the Rock segment from this show. Goldust is dressed as The Rock and the Rock interrupts and it's hysterical. See it if you haven't. CHECK CASHING, SUCKER TRASHING, NEVER LOONY, SPINAROONIE, SLAMMING JAMMING, FIVE TIME WCW CHAMPION. Gold wearing, sometimes oh, so this is funny.

King of the Ring Finals
Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman vs. Rob Van Dam

Battle of Paul Heyman guys. Brock dominates the early stages with some pretty brutal offense. He slams RVD into opposite corners. Some small “Goldberg” chants can be heard, if only those fans had a crystal ball into WrestleMania XX. Brock hits consecutive backbreakers and RVD has gotten zero offense. He applies a bear hug in a throwback to some 1980's offense. RVD dodges a tackle and slam, allowing him to get in some offense. He hits Rolling Thunder for two and Brock aggressively kicks out. However, he nails the Five Star Frog Splash but Heyman brings him down across the top rope. I don't see why Brock needs help winning. RVD tries a moonsault but Lesnar catches him and hits the F5 to earn a title shot at SummerSlam.

Winner: Brock Lesnar in 5:32
Much shorter than I remember. Brock dominated like he should, but then gets hit with a Five Star and needs help. That was weird and this was okay at best. **1/4

Triple H is walking backstage for his title match when he runs into Shawn Michaels and the nWo. They embrace and he greets Kevin Nash, X-Pac and HBK with happy smiles, while Big Show barely gets a nod. Nash tells him that if he needs help, throw up the nWo sign and they'll be there.

WWE Undisputed Championship
The Undertaker (c) vs. Triple H

If this is like their Insurrextion match, I will not be happy. We get a brawl early on, both in and outside of the ring. Side note, Paul Heyman stayed at ringside for commentary so that is a step up. Triple H does the ten punches in the corner but Taker counters into snake eyes. Taker starts targeting the kidneys with some SOUP BONES. Jim Ross says his signature line when a match is crap “this ain't no catch as catch can contest.” Undertaker hits the guillotine leg drop on the apron for a near fall. Big boot gets him another two count and this is pretty slow. Heyman says that Brock punked out the Rock backstage after winning the King of the Ring. HHH is fighting back with a back body drop but Taker decides to expose the turnbuckle. It backfires though when he gets sent into it and HHH connects with a neckbreaker. HHH hits an ugly spinebuster for a near fall. Taker fires back with a near fall after a DDT. Even here, all Heyman talks about is Brock. Pedigree gets countered and of course, Earl Hebner moves perfectly into the way and the ref is down. A double clothesline later and everyone is down bringing out The Rock, to his theme and everything. Heyman runs through the crowd to escape while Rock replaces him on commentary. Taker has a chair but HHH thwarts his attempts to use it. Things spill outside where The Rock gets hit and involved. He hits HHH with a chair after Taker dodges and then he takes out the Rock. HHH is busted open as he is rolled back inside. Last Ride plants HHH and Nick Patrick rushes out to make the cover. Taker takes too long and HHH is able to kick out. Taker is pissed so he lays out Patrick, allowing Rock to get back in and hit hi with Rock Bottom. We call this overbooking folks. Rock leaves and HHH stirs first and Earl Hebner slowly counts so Taker kicks out. HHH scores with a Pedigree but again, everyone is slow to the pin so Taker can get his shoulder up. He hits a low blow and rolls up HHH with a handful of tights to retain.

Winner and Still WWE Undisputed Champion: The Undertaker in 23:44
I seriously question who keeps having The Undertaker wrestle these twenty plus minute matches. This was another snoozefest. Since WrestleMania, there hasn't been a good main event.*1/2

The Rock is in the entrance so Undertaker taunts him, causing Rock to run down and hit him with a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. Triple H is all mad and Pedigrees him. He celebrates but gets a Chokeslam for his efforts.

Overall: 6/10; Average. I had high hopes for this and was disappointed. The opener was fantastic and the Cruiserweight Title match was good. The Finals was way too short and the main event was again, poor. Everything else was average including the Flair/Eddie and Hogan/Angle matches, but at least mildly entertaining.