Thursday, August 21, 2014

Through the Years: SummerSlam 2002

SummerSlam 2002
August 25th, 2002 – Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York – Attendance: 14,797

I've always considered the 2002 SummerSlam to be the very best in the history of that annual blockbuster. Granted, I haven't seen it in a long time but it's the show that I was most excited to get to in this year. Brock Lesnar gets his first shot at the Undisputed Championship, while Shawn Michaels makes his historic return to the ring after a four year retirement. The rest of the card is stacked with Kurt Angle, Edge, Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, Rob Van Dam and a LOT more. This was the peak of 2002 in my opinion, but let's see if the show is as good as I remember.

Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio appears behind Kurt and is all like “WHOS THAT JUMPING OUT THE SKY” as he springboard hurricanranas Angle to start. A dropkick and monkey flip follows as things are off to a quick start. Kurt wisely goes for the ankle early on. Rey misses the 619 and Angle pulls him out of the ring hard. Back inside, Kurt hits a ridiculous German suplex but Rey counters a second attempt with a rollup. The story here seems to be that Angle is doing his best to ground Rey, which makes perfect sense. Kurt has a counter for every high risk move that Rey tries including a big sidewalk slam. Single leg Lion Tamer of sorts gets locked on and looks painful as hell. Rey reverses with a pin but gets clotheslined down instantly. Again, as soon as Rey seems to get momentum, Kurt hits a big belly to belly and the STRAPS ARE DOWN! Angle Slam is countered into an arm drag though. With Kurt outside, Rey goes to fly but the referee stops him. As the ref bends through the second rope to talk to Angle, Rey leaps over him in a cool spot. A springboard leg drop earns Rey a near fall as the crowd is totally into this. Rey leaps onto Kurt's shoulders, but gets slammed down into the Ankle Lock. He breaks free and hits the 619, followed by the West Coast Pop but gets one of the closest two counts ever. He nails a springboard dropkick with Kurt up top and goes for a top rope hurricanrana but Kurt counters into an Ankle Lock somehow! That was badass. Rey has no choice but to tap.

Winner: Kurt Angle in 9:20
Excellent opener. Rey Mysterio looked like a million bucks and Kurt Angle looked like the best wrestler in the world. The crowd was hot and the action was great. ****

In the back, Stephanie McMahon finds Eric Bischoff in her office after she brags about her awesome Smackdown match. They will share the General Manager's office for the evening. 

Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair
Surprisingly, this is the first ever SummerSlam match for the Nature Boy. He was at the 1992 show, but didn't wrestle. We start with mat wrestling and Flair struts after getting the upper hand. Flair sends Jericho over but he skins the cat, only to get chops and short punches. The match goes outside with Jericho being the aggressor. In the ring, Jericho badmouths Flair with each shot and does his awesome little dance. Second rope dropkick from Jericho gets a two count. I feel like any Flair match with Charles Robinson as the referee could be a conspiracy. Jericho chokes Flair with his wrist tape but Flair just comes back with chops. “IM THE KING OF THE WORLD”. Showboating on the top does Jericho in when Flair slams him off. Flair hits another back body drop because his offense was a bit limited at this time and it continues with more short punches. Jericho attempts the Walls but gets pull into an inside cradle for two. He misses the Lionsault and eats more chops before Flair tries the Walls. Jericho reverses and puts on the figure four. Flair taps but only after he grabs the ropes. Jericho is pissed as he thought he won which causes him to make a mistake. Once Robinson gets hit, Flair goes low and makes Jericho tap to the Figure Four.

Winner: Ric Flair in 10:22
Not the best match from either guy. Chris Jericho continues to fall after being Undisputed Champion just a few months before. **1/4

Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman are backstage bragging about what Brock did to Hulk Hogan. In case you didn't know, he beat the crap out of Hogan and left him bloodied on Smackdown.

Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero
So three matches and six sure fire Hall of Famers. Impressive start. Edge opens things with a flapjack while Michael Cole informs us that Eddie is jealous that Edge is a sex symbol. Eddie sells the monkey flip like a man as usual before Edge gets a near fall. Eddie gets tied up in the ropes and Edge hits a Spear but crashes outside when he tries another. Edge seems to have a hurt arm, so Eddie goes right after it by throwing him into the steps. The next few minutes involve Eddie targeting Edge's shoulder/arm. Edge's shoulder ends up bleeding and he rallies with some right handed offense. A facebuster gets him two so he decides to suplex Eddie to the outside. Instead of resting, he flies off the top and takes out Eddie. They go to the second rope and Edge hits a sitout front suplex for two. He starts to call for the Spear but Eddie dropkicks him right in the injured shoulder. PSYCHOLOGY. Eddie's Frog Splash gets blocked by Edge getting the knees up and he plants Latino Heat with the Edgecution for two. Northern lights suplex and neckbreaker from Eddie who goes back to the top. Edge stops him but Eddie headbutts him like 15 times and Frog Splashes the injured arm! Edge somehow kicks out! Edge manages to hit a Spear from out of nowhere and win.

Winner: Edge in 11:47
Good match with really good psychology. Not keen on Edge winning with a Spear since that shoulder was worked on the entire time, but still good stuff. ***1/4

Jonathan Coachman interviews the Un-Americans backstage about their upcoming Tag Team Title defense. They continue to make a lot of good points about Americans to heat because the truth hurts.

WWE Tag Team Championship
The Un-Americans (c) vs. Booker T and Goldust

I loved the odd Booker and Goldust pairing as it worked to perfection. Of all the guys who returned at the 2002 Royal Rumble, Goldust stuck around in relevance for the longest. All four guys get shine in the early goings. Booker drops a knee on Storm for a one before Goldust hits a big elbow. Storm ends up sending Goldust over the turnbuckle and outside which is different. The Un-Americans heel it up for a while as it looks like Goldust will be tonight's face in trouble. That good old tag formula. Goldust manages to pick up a near fall but when he makes the tag, blind Nick Patrick didn't see so tag formula continues. Goldust fights out and slingshots Christian into Storm before a rollup gets him two. Storm and Christian go for a con-chair-to but Goldust ducks and hits them with a double clothesline. He finally makes the hot tag and Booker lights up the Un-Americans. Missile dropkick from Booker gets a near fall, as Goldust takes on Storm outside. Booker misses the Scissors Kick and Christian gets the Unprettier blocked. Storm accidentally kicks Nick Patrick just before Booker hits both Champions with a double Scissors Kick. SPINAROONIE! No referee is there to count for Booker though. Test runs in and bit boots Booker hard to finish it.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: The Un-Americans in 9:36
Solid tag team match. It followed tag formula nicely, though it can get old. Still, all four guys had their working boots on tonight and put on a good show. ***

Cut to The World where Nidia picks a dude to make out with in front of her boyfriend Jamie Noble. Weird segment. Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon are now shown watching in the locker room and they talk about the upcoming Intercontinental Title match.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Chris Benoit (c) vs. Rob Van Dam

The belt logo is blurred for some reason. It couldn't still have said WWF could it? Early feeling out process as this is the first every Pay-Per-View meeting between the two. Benoit, along with Eddie had just jumped to Smackdown. According to Paul Heyman, he lost someone to Raw for star power, I forget who, and when asked for Benoit and Eddie in return, he kind of got laughed at. This would allow for the creation of the Smackdown Six. Benoit ducks a kick and he folds RVD with a huge release German. Benoit hits a Bret Hart like backbreaker for two. The Crippler is focusing on the shoulder/back/neck for the Crossface later. RVD this a monkey flip, but Benoit is quickly up and takes him back down. RVD gets a kick and goes for the split legged moonsault but Benoit gets his knees up. Benoit goes up top and misses the flying headbutt before RVD misses the Five Star. Crossface is applied but RVD uses his foot to reach the ropes. RVD gets launched to the outside and so far, this is just all Benoit. He rams the shoulder into the post and things go back inside. The fans turn their attention to something happening in the crowd, so Benoit puts on a REST HOLD. The challenger rolls out but again gets slammed to the mat. Crossface gets locked on again but RVD manages to get out of it. Three Northern lights suplexes, a move that I love, gets Benoit a near fall. He locks on the Crossface again and this is totally one sided. He gets close to the ropes so Benoit pulls his arm out and turns it into a different submission move. RVD finally gets something going by putting Benoit in a Crossface of his own, only to have Benoit get out and dropkick him. RVD's ponytail is out, which I've never seen. He starts to rally with an enziguri and rolling thunder. After RVD counters a super back drop, he hits a turning Five Star to win abruptly.

Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Rob Van Dam in 16:31
Really good match, but very one sided. RVD barely got any offense until the end. That being said, Benoit dominating makes for a good match and even though the ending was abrupt, I enjoyed this. ***3/4

Eric Bischoff taunts Stephanie McMahon backstage and she is very pouty. As he continues to brag, Stephanie just laughs in his face. Strange. 

Test vs. The Undertaker
So after his heel run with the WWE Undisputed Title, The Undertaker turned face and there was no better way for the American Badass to do that, than to face anti-Americans. Early on, Undertaker actually leap frogs over Test which shocked the hell out of me. He goes for Old School but gets crotched on the rope and falls outside. Test whips Undertaker into steel steps but nobody believes that he will win. He runs the offense in the ring for a while and decides to put on a wristlock of sorts. The Deadman rallies and hits a belly to back suplex. Taker hits a big DDT for a near fall and connects with Old School this time. Booger Red hits snake eyes but misses a big boot. He counters the pump handle slam and Test blocks a Chokeslam. Taker ducks a big boot and hits the Chokeslam this time. Test kicks out and they try to sell it as a big deal but it isn't. The rest of the Un-Americans run out but take beatings from Taker. Test comes in and hits the big boot this time, but Taker gets the shoulder up. He grabs a chair but gets it kicked in his face behind the official's back. A Tombstone later and Test is resting in peace.

Winner: The Undertaker in 8:18
Not bad, but still rather slow. It a decent big man match though and Test didn't look bad. **1/4

Unsanctioned Street Fight
Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

When he has his face shaved, Triple H kinda looks like a wuss. Shawn starts with early right hands as the crowd pops. After knocking Triple H outside, Shawn follows with a plancha and shows everyone that he's still the same HBK. All we need is Vince McMahon creaming himself of commentary and it'll be 1996 all over again. He gets a trash can lid and it backfires, though when HHH tries to bring him in the ring, HBK levels him and skins the cat back in. HES LIVE...AND IN YO FACE. He warms up the band but HHH ducks Sweet Chin Music and we get a vicious backbreaker. HHH continues to work on Shawn's broken back with hard whips into the corner and more backbreakers. HHH gets a chair and wails away on Shawn's back. Shawn fights back but takes a chair shot that busts him open. HHH takes Shawn's belt and whips him like this is a “Hollywood” Hogan match or something. HHH goes under the ring and grabs his trusty sledgehammer but Shawn stops him. However, HHH takes control again with the abdominal stretch. Not often can you see an abdominal stretch in a Street Fight and have it make sense. Hebner and HHH get into a shoving match even though he shouldn't be trying to stop him. The distraction gives Shawn time to rally and try to come off the top, until Triple H pushes Hebner into the ropes, crotching Shawn. He hangs upside down in the corner so HHH can hit him in the back with a chair yet again! A backbreaker on an open chair is hit and Shawn must be dead. Shawn kicks out though. The Game sets up for a Pedigree on a chair, but HBK counters with a low blow. Both men are down but when they get up, Shawn hits Sweet Chin Music into a chair! Both guys are down again. Trips is bleeding like a stuffed pig as Shawn fires away and hits his flying forearm. He nips up to a massive pop. He catches him with a chair shot and sends HHH to the outside. Shawn now takes Hunter to the woodshed, whipping him with the belt. He bulldogs HHH onto the steel steps and pulls out a ladder. He whacks Hunter with the ladder for two. Hunter nabs a near fall with the high knee. HHH tries to attack with steel steps but eats a drop toe hold and lands face first on the steps. Shawn pulls a D-Von and GETS THE TABLE! He sets it up outside and nails HHH with a fire extinguisher. Shawn climbs up top and hits a splash through the table outside! Back inside, the ladder gets set up and Shawn hits an elbow off of it after telling the fans that he loves them. He gets right up and tunes up for Sweet Chin Music but HHH blocks it. He goes for the Pedigree but Shawn counters with a rollup and wins his return match.

Winner: Shawn Michaels in 27:20
Wow. Shawn Michaels was gone for over four years and came back better than ever. His ability to tell a story is nearly unmatched and this was damn near perfect. ****3/4

Triple H attacks Shawn after the match with the sledgehammer and hits him in the back, which is just a brutal post match thing to do. Howard Finkel comes out to brag about being committed to his job and he's interrupted by Trish Stratus. She has had a feud with him recently and she fake flirts with him. Lillian Garcia shows up and slaps him before kicking him low.

WWE Undisputed Championship
The Rock (c) vs. Brock Lesnar w/ Paul Heyman

Rock does Brock's signature jumping during his entrance and IT'S ABOUT TO GO DOWN. I've always loved that. Rock sprints to the ring and fires away but Brock tires of that quickly and hits a belly to belly. He goes for a quick cover but obviously that's not enough. “Rocky sucks” chants are hear as Brock crushes the Champion with rib breakers. When Rock gets thrown outside, Heyman kicks him and Brock continues to beat him down. Heyman continues to get in cheap shots and every Rock rally is cut short by a Lesnar power move. After a Rock back suplex, both men are down until they nip up at THE SAME TIME! That was great. Rock hits a DDT and gains a near fall. Rock goes for the sharpshooter but Heyman gets on the apron so he nails him. He gets the sharpshooter on but the crowd boos. “Let's go Lesnar” rings out through the arena. Heyman is back on the apron with a chair and gets brought in the hard way. As he distracts the referee, Brock hits Rock in the gut with the chair. BEARHUG time and this was actually built as a credible threatening move when he nearly killed Hogan with it. Rock fights out of it and a Heyman distraction actually allows Rock to hit a low blow. Rock explodes with a clothesline and right hands that send Brock outside. Rock slingshots Brock into the post and he puts Heyman through the announce table with a Rock Bottom. Back inside, Rock hits the Rock Bottom on Brock but only gets a two! Brock actually hits a Rock Bottom now as the crowd pops but Rock kicks out! Spinebuster from the Rock and it's THE MOST ELECTRIFYING MOVE IN SPORTS ENTERTAINMENT, but wait! Brock pops up and nails him. He goes for the F5, but it's blocked, and he then he blocks the Rock Bottom. Another counter later and Brock hits the F5 to become the youngest WWE Champion in history!

Winner and New WWE Undisputed Champion: Brock Lesnar in 16:01
Great main event. The changing of the guard was here as Brock wins the belt and the fans wanted it for sure. Awesome back and forth and each guy played to their strengths. ****1/4

Overall: 10/10; Perfect. The best SummerSlam of all-time and a top 10 Pay-Per-View in the history of the WWE. Nothing is under two stars and everything is entertaining. Shawn's comeback is glorious, the main event is awesome and that's just scratching the surface. I love this show.

Top Ten Main Roster Divas

I consider myself to be a big advocate of women's wrestling. I've watched many SHIMMER volumes and do not consider the WWE Divas matches to be "piss breaks." I have a lot of respect for what they do, so I decided to do a top ten list of the main roster divas. I had to specify main roster because there are some NXT girls who I would put ahead of some of the main roster girls, including Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bayley. We will be looking at each girl's full body of work, in ring ability, character work, promo ability and more. Also, I want to point out that there's no honorable mentions. The girls who didn't make the list are relatively useless like Cameron, Eva Marie and especially Rosa Mendes.

10. Summer Rae

We start off with a woman who entered the main roster as a valet for Fandango. He had numerous random dancers early on until one stuck and that was Summer Rae. She didn't impress me much in the ring, especially at Survivor Series 2013 where she just basically entered the ring and danced. However, She has shown some improvement in the ring and is able to play her character well. Her role on Total Divas has been fun as well. While they seemed unsure of what to do with her after the Fandango split, her stuff with Layla has been entertaining though it needs to go somewhere soon.

9. The Bella Twins

The two most marketable Divas are easily the Bella Twins. That is their strongest suit. The WWE uses them to promote the WWE Network, sends them out for appearances and they're the focal point of Total Divas. Back during their first run, I hated seeing them on my television. They were terrible workers and didn't care, but in their second run they've grown to care. Maybe it's dating John Cena and Daniel Bryan or maybe it's how high on the card they are. They still aren't great in the ring, but they're serviceable. Their biggest flaw is their terrible acting. Neither girl can cut a promo or act to save their lives. Also, I know it may be a cop out putting them together on this list, but they're pretty interchangeable.

8. Alicia Fox

One of the more under appreciated Divas on the roster is Alicia Fox. Back in 2009 or so when she got her Divas Championship run, I don't think that she was ready. She had some poor matches and looked like she could kill someone with her Scissors Kick. Over time, she's grown to be less relevant in the division but rose to a title shot earlier this year with her crazed gimmick. She played it well and we got some entertaining moments. She's become one of the better workers in the division and, while her Scissors Kick still looks bad, she doesn't seem to be much of a danger in there anymore.

7. Layla

So Layla is hot. I'm just going to get that out of the way. Now, Layla is the most successful Diva Search winner by far. She went from appearing in bikini contests to dancing with Extreme Expose and it seemed like she would not go far. Then came LayCool. By far the most entertaining Divas act in the post Lita/Trish era. They were in sync, they had comedic timing, they could go in the ring and they were must see Divas television. Layla is the only woman on this list to win both the Women's and Divas Championship, which is an impressive feat. The only reason she's not higher is that she is currently not really used for in ring work.

6. Naomi

I would like to point out that NXT Season 3 is one of the greatest things the WWE has ever produced. It's non-stop entertaining, cringe worthy at times and absolutely hilarious. The one girl that stood out from the first episode was Naomi. Easily the most athletic Diva on the roster, it's only a matter of time before she becomes a Divas Champion. When it comes to Total Divas, Naomi is by far the most likable girl. She's level headed and not bratty like the rest of the girls and her relationship with Jimmy Uso is pretty funny to watch at times. There was talk that she was scheduled to face AJ Lee at WrestleMania XXX, which would've been huge, but she suffered a vicious eye injury and the match was changed. She's currently in a feud with her former teammate Cameron and I'm glad she's done dancing and getting to compete.

5. Emma

Trained by the great Lance Storm, Emma is the most underutilized Diva on the roster in my opinion. I watched her under her real name in SHIMMER before hearing that she was signed by the WWE. She went to NXT and became one of my favorite performers there. She was saddled with a ridiculous dancing gimmick and made it into an extremely popular thing there. Her goofy awkwardness made her endearing but it hasn't translated to the main roster. I think she should have had video packages/vignettes about the dance before her debut to help get it over with the crowd. The biggest reason that she's this high though is her in ring ability. The girl can flat out go. Check out her NXT ArRival match or her NXT Women's Championship Finals against Paige for proof.

4. Natalya

If this list was based purely on in ring ability, Natalya could make a STRONG case to be number one. Due to being a member of the legendary Hart family, she's been very well trained and can put on really good matches. Her match with an unproven Charlotte at NXT TakeOver is the best Divas match that I've seen in recent memory. She took longer to get to the WWE than I expected and lost a chance to be the first Divas Champion at the 2008 Great American Bash. She moved into a managerial role for the Hart Dynasty before going back to competing and winning the Divas Title. Her tag team with Beth Phoenix was pretty good too. The only thing keeping her from moving up is that she is very bland as a character.

3. Stephanie McMahon

Let me ask you a question. Who is the best heel in the WWE? If your answer was not Stephanie McMahon then you are dead wrong. The woman got Vickie Guerrero to be a sympathetic face. Really think about that. Stephanie was good during her original run as a heel in the company, but after having three kids and returning as a member of the Authority, Stephanie has been on fire. She is outstanding in her role. Then came SummerSlam. She had to step into the ring with Brie Bella in a match that a lot of people didn't have faith in. Stephanie went out and absolutely controlled things and dominated. She looked better in the ring than 90% of the Divas roster and this is a 37 year old mom who hadn't worked a match in over a decade. The woman is amazing and would be higher if she laced the boots up more often but seriously, give Stephanie credit.

2. Paige

Down in NXT, the "Anti-Diva" was dynamite. She was a badass chick that didn't take shit from anyone and it was awesome to see. She got called up to the main roster the night after WrestleMania XXX and instantly produced a huge moment in Divas history by ending AJ Lee's record 295 day reign as Champion and becoming the youngest Divas Champion in history. What followed was a disappointing run as Champion because the role of the cheesy babyface wasn't working. AJ Lee returned and won the belt back, leading to the new "psycho/obsessive" Paige that has been fantastic. Her ability to do something heinous to AJ and then hug her and tell her that she loves her is great and their match at SummerSlam was very good. She is going to be a focal point of the Divas division for a long time considering she's only 22, so get used to this.

1. AJ Lee

Paige fans seem to hate AJ, while AJ fans seem to hate Paige. I love them both. There really could be no other choice for number one. During the awesome NXT Season 3, AJ Lee instantly became a favorite of mine. The girl loves wrestling, is adorable and could go. Check out her match with Naomi from that season because it's great. She formed a cool tag team with her best friend Kaitlyn, known as the Chickbusters before moving into a relationship with Daniel Bryan. From there, she was a focal point. She helped cost him the World Title at WrestleMania 28, so he dumped her and she was THE biggest part of Bryan's feud with CM Punk over the WWE Title. She was ending Raws by sitting in the ring Punk style or by pushing both Punk and Bryan through a table. She moved onto having a wedding at Raw 1000 before becoming the General Manager. She continued to be a big part by managing John Cena and Dolph Ziggler. Then she finally got her chance in the ring and defeated Kaitlyn in the best Divas match of 2013 at Payback. She reigned atop the division for nearly 300 days and beat every Diva put in front of her, including the entire roster at WrestleMania XXX. Even though she lost to Paige, she won it back the first night of her return and is engaged in a really good feud with her. She is the best on the current roster.