Monday, August 11, 2014
July 21st, 2002 – Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan – Attendance: 12,000
At the start of July, The Undertaker surprised me and many others by putting on a great title match against Jeff Hardy on Raw. It was one of my favorite Ladder matches ever. He would have to defend the title at Vengeance in a Triple Threat match against The Rock and Kurt Angle, with the winner facing Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam. Brock was still in a small feud with the man he beat to win the King of the Ring, Rob Van Dam and Edge was teaming with his childhood hero. Vince McMahon had taken back full control of the WWE, but thought the brands should stay split and appointed General Managers in Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon. Also, some guy named John Cena was about to have his first ever Pay-Per-View match. Things were starting to take a turn for the better in 2002 and I'm excited to get to those points.
The opening video is based off of Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction which is odd for this time. Michael Cole and Tazz are calling the first half of the show, while Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler will close things.
This is Chris Benoit's first Pay-Per-View match in over a year. Strangely enough, we get an actual tag match with legal men and everything. I thought Tables matches were tornado style. Eddie and Benoit wrestle circles around their competition in the early goings and, I just noticed, the Radicalz match tonight. Benoit nails a German suplex on Bubba Ray although this is starting slowly. For some reason, Bubba is playing the face in peril, so I guess Spike will get the hot tag. They finally go for a table and Spike hits a somersault onto Eddie. The Radicalz hit a double second rope suplex on Bubba, but Spike moved the table out of the way. Benoit and Guerrero are dominating. Bubba now intercepts Spike as he's about to go through the table. I have a bad feeling about the result of this. Spike hits the WASSUP headbutt as he is a small, white D-Von tonight. Bubba goes for a second rope senton but Benoit moves and Bubba breaks the table. It's not an offensive move though, so it doesn't count, although that's basically how Sheamus won his first WWE Title. Spike counters a suplex and hits the Dudley Dog through a table on Eddie, eliminating him. Spike goes for it on Benoit but it gets blocked and he gets gorilla pressed from the inside through a table on the outside because Benoit is a boss. Bubba Ray completes the win by hitting a Bubba Bomb on Benoit through the table.
I don't know why the Dudleys had to go over, but Benoit and Guerrero dominated. That helped the match along, but this wasn't great.
Jonathan Coachman interviews Eric Bischoff, who is proud of his Raw guys who just performed. He is trying hard to sign free agent Triple H, but I have no idea why he's a free agent. Look Eric, the dude's wife is running Smackdown. She can offer more than you bro. I'll ignore that they were at each other's throats and divorcing like two months ago.
It's JAMIE NOBLE BOY! Collar and elbow tie up actually takes them out of the ring and once they're back inside, we get several near falls. Noble regroups outside as Nidia cheers him on. Kidman owns the first few sequences until Noble uses a Nidia distraction to work him over. Noble targets the arm and Kidman can't do a move because it hurts. Look at the selling. He rallies with a hurricanrana and dropkick before hitting what I can only describe as an Attitude Adjustment/Go to Sleep combination for two. Seriously, it was badass. Noble goes back to the arm with a Fujiwara armbar but Kidman makes it to the ropes. They both end up on the top, and Kidman hits a second rope Sky High. YOU BETTER RECOGNIZE! That will forever be a D-Lo move. Kidman goes for the Shooting Star Press, but Noble rolls out of the way. Noble hits a beautiful Tiger Bomb and keeps his belt.
Good cruiserweight match, as both guys know what they're doing. Kidman sold the arm work well and the finish was sweet.
Marc Lloyd is backstage with Kurt Angle, who is offended that he's not the favorite. Paul Heyman interrupts with Brock Lesnar and interesting that this would be the WrestleMania XIX main event. They shake hands and how cool is it that this would be one of the best rivalries of all time.
Regal cried when he lost the belt two weeks prior and, bless him, he did whatever the company asked of him. Jeff is in his strange phase of wearing glow in the dark stuff and he has short green hair. Jeff poses like an idiot and gets slapped in the early stages. Regal is very aggressive and keeps trying to get quick pins. He misses an ugly knee drop and Jeff gets on the offensive. Regal has Jeff's barricade attack scouted and he hits R2 in time to counter. Jeff don't care as he hits Whisper in the Wind. He follows with an enziguri and leg drop before climbing up top for the Swanton Bomb. Regal gets his knees up, which has to hurt, and then nails an interesting backbreaker. Jeff counters a move and wins with a school boy.
Decent but short. If they would've gotten more time, I think it had potential. However, they got a good amount of stuff done in the four minutes.
William Regal cries again as he just can't seem to be the champion of his home. Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan congratulate Jeff hardy backstage. When he leaves, Hogan and Flair paint a picture where Hogan does the ugliest Swanton Bomb in history. They also discuss the new General Managers.
The Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho experiment is over and he's back to the mid-card. John Cena has what must be the most generic theme music ever. Jericho gets a chair and goes for Cena before the match but he ducks and hits Jericho with it. Why did he do that? Because he has RUTHLESS AGGRESSION! The bell rings inside and Cena continues to handle things until Jericho needs a breather. Time for the EDDIE GILBERT hot shot from Jericho, because that's like, something that seems to happen on every show. Jericho goes to expose the turnbuckle, but is stopped by the referee so Cena gets a near fall. Jericho does his little two step dance, which is still awesome. Jericho hits the Breakdown and climbs to the top. “IM THE KING OF THE WORLD”. He shouts that which allows Cena to hit a second rope suplex. The best spot of the match happens when Cena jumps at Jericho and he meets him with a dropkick in mid-air. Cena catches a leaping Jericho with a belly to belly for two shortly after. Lionsault misses and Cena goes for a rollup but gets it reversed for two. Jericho goes for the Walls but Cena pulls him into a pin and gets the three.
Here is the first case of John Cena overcome the odds. What a trend this would begin. Regardless, for his first Pay-Per-View match, this was good, although Jericho did most of the carrying. I liked this and wished it was a bit longer.
Eric Bischoff is still waiting outside of Stephanie McMahon's office when her lawyer or something enters with legal documents. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler come out because it's their turn to commentate.
As usual, RVD is sporting some sweet attire. Brock begins by tossing RVD around, but the Intercontinental Champion wisely targets the big man's legs with kicks. That doesn't last long as he ends up back in control anyway. Brock misses a big clothesline and ends up outside. RVD dives out and sends Brock into the post. He goes for a moonsault but Brock catches him and absolutely plants him with a STIFF powerslam on the mat. I mean STIFF. Giant backbreakers from the challenger. RVD hits a step over enziguri before kicking Lesnar in the head so hard that Heyman shouts “GODDAMN” at ringside. RVD goes for a monkey flip but Brock just tosses him outside. Brock applies a side bear hug inside to slow the pace significantly. RVD manages to fight out and hit a guillotine leg drop before going to the top. He leaps off and kicks Brock in the face. Rolling Thunder connects but can't get him the three. RVD goes for the Five Star but Brock grabs him and goes for the F5. RVD counters into a tornado DDT as business just picked up. Five Star is hit and Heyman pulls the referee out causing the disqualification.
Not terrible for what it was but Brock would do much better down the line.
Charles Robinson beats up Paul Heyman after the match, while RVD takes down Brock. He gets a chair and calls for the Van Terminator, but Heyman grabs his leg. This allows Lesnar to catch RVD and do bad things. Stephanie McMahon leaves her office and looks pissed. Bischoff laughs and says that he knows Triple H didn't sign with Smackdown. Stephanie says “he signed” and walks off. Triple H exits and Bischoff yells at him until HHH admits what he signed was his divorce papers.
It's WCW! Show starts in control with his power until Booker actually does an enziguri. It looks as lame as it sounds. Show chops the black off of Booker's chest a few times. Things spill outside and Show runs into the ring post. It's time for the poor Spanish announce table to be destroyed. Booker hits Show with one of the monitors and it actually looked good. Show is bent over one table, so Booker climbs on the other, runs off and hits a Scissors Kick through it. I have to admit, that was pretty damn sweet. I really dug that spot. Back inside, Booker is still firing away on Show but gets caught for a Chokeslam. He blocks it with a low blow and hits a second Scissors Kick. Booker goes to the top and actually pulls out the Houston/Harlem Hangover for, what I believe, was the first time in the WWE to win.
Things started slow but once they went outside, I started to enjoy this. The Scissors Kick table spot was great and I appreciated the effort to use the Harlem Hangover.
Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie are at “The World” and Torrie says that she won the Golden Thong Award there last time. I remember that and she was deserving. A few months later, these two would engage in some HLA.
Triple H comes out because it's time for him to decide whether he will be a part of Raw or Smackdown. Before he can even speak, Bischoff comes and pleads his case with the whole “it's business, not personal” with us. He offers a movie and sneaker deal for some reason. Stephanie comes out and brings up how Bischoff gave HHH no credit and badmouthed him during his WCW run. Triple H makes some bad jokes and chooses the devil he knows in Stephanie. Shawn Michaels comes to interrupt. He wants to remind HHH of their friendship. He all but says they should reform DV and make Bischoff's life on Raw hell. He decides to choose Shawn over Stephanie, a choice I would never make. Bischoff tells Stephanie that the difference between them is that he has testicles, which the crowd takes as some sort of insult, and Stephanie uses the “Women's Special Slap” from WWF No Mercy to take him down.
Marc Lloyd interviews Rikishi about Triple H joining Raw. He says that Trips leaving hurts the young guys in the locker room. Weird promo. Terri Runnels goes to interview Booker T and Goldust about Triple H. Another weird segment, but this one was funny.
Maybe I'm alone in this, but I enjoyed the Un-Americans. Hogan and Christian start, which must be a dream for Christian. Hogan shoves him and Christian oversells it. Hogan hits them with the, to quote Gorilla Monsoon, DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER! Edge comes in and it looks like he'll be the face in peril for a while. That lasts for a bit until Hogan comes in and dominates. Big Boot on Storm followed by one for Christian, but he ducks and hits a reverse DDT. Hogan powers out and again, Christian oversells. HULKING UP TIME! Christian is no match for this. Big boot connects this time and the Leg Drop is hit but Storm breaks up the pin. Thumb to the eye from Christian before they use heel tactics to take down Hogan. Weird to see Hogan needing to make the hot tag, but he does and Edge comes in on fire. He goes for a Spear on Storm, but he leaps over and Edge takes out the referee. Edgecution hits but there's no referee! Test comes down and attacks Hogan. TEST! TEST! THIS IS A TEST! Big boot on Edge and Storm covers as the referee counts but Edge kicks out. Rikishi comes down and fights Test to the back. Edge counters a whip and hits Storm with the Spear. Jericho, who is also an Un-American I guess, shows up and hits Edge with a Tag Team Title, allowing Storm to get the pin.
Fun little tag team match and the interference actually made sense except for the Jericho run in.
Eric Bischoff comes up to Kurt Angle, sucks up and wants him on Raw. Stephanie McMahon is interviewed and says that Bischoff campaigning is fine because she's in contact with every Raw superstar and will rip the “heart” out of Raw.
If The Rock wins, he becomes the first seven time Champion in WWE history. Rock and Taker go face to face and Angle gets pissed that they're not paying attention to him. This hilariously leads to a double beating. Angle catches Rock with a German suplex and I must say that his red, white and blue camo attire is great. A belly to belly suplex sends Rock reeling before he hits yet another. Things spill outside where Angle clotheslines the Rock, only to run into one from Booger Red. Back inside, Taker hits a big sidewalk slam on Rock for two. Rock surprises everyone by hitting Undertaker with an impressive chokeslam. Angle breaks up the pin and Rock continues to steal finishers by putting on the Ankle Lock. Kurt gets out and hits a Rock Bottom. This is getting crazy. Taker blocks the Angle Slam and hits Angle it! These guys must have some serious stored finishers. Angle gets sent outside and Rock hits a spinebuster. It's People's Elbow time but Angle pulls him out before he can cover and tries to get the pin on his own but Taker kicks out. SOUPBONES in the corner for Angle. They go back outside and Taker continues to wail away on Kurt. Rock is up and spits water in Taker's face but ends up down again. Angle is busted open from hitting the ring post as Taker hits the guillotine leg drop on the apron. Time for the Champion to go OLD SCHOOL but Rock breaks up the pin. He fires away with right hands but eats a DDT for two. Angle has grabbed a chair but gets volleyed back and forth by his opponents with right hands. Taker and Rock block each other's finishers and the referee ends up knocked down. Angle cold cocks Taker with the chair and hits Rock with the Angle Slam! He's too hurt to cover in time though. Both men end up kicking out. Rock gets a take down on Angle and applies the Sharpshooter but Taker big boots him. Last Ride on the Rock and he covers but Angle breaks the count by putting Taker in the Ankle Lock! Taker rolls forward to counter and it's Last Ride time for Kurt but he latches on a Triangle Choke. Taker tapped to it on a recent Smackdown but he counters with a powerbomb. Angle don't care as he locks the hold back on! Rock now breaks the hold and goes for the Rock Bottom but Angle counters it into the Ankle Lock somehow. Rock counters into a rollup for two. Angle runs into a chokeslam and Taker runs into a Rock Bottom but he kicks out! Angle rolls up Rock for a very close near fall and then hits Taker with the Angle Slam. THE STRAPS ARE DOWN but Rock hits him with a Rock Bottom and it's over just before Undertaker can break the pin.
Well, that's the match of the year in 2002 up to this point. That was one of the best damn Triple Threat matches I've ever witnessed. It was my first time watching it since it aired live and it had me on the edge of my seat. Excellent stuff.
Overall: The main event is must see for sure. The Cruiserweight Title match is good and while nothing else reaches three stars, nothing is under two stars. In other words, it's a solid night highlighted by an awesome main event and I recommend you go out and see this show.