July 21, 2002
by Samoa Rowe
-Follow me on Twitter: @SamoaRowe
-From Detroit, MI. Our hosts are Michael Cole, Tazz, Jerry Lawler, and Jim Ross.
Benoit immediately goes to work punishing Spike. Bubba tags but gets doubled teamed by the Radicalz. Bubba knocks Eddie off the apron but gets caught in Benoit’s German suplex. The beating on Bubba continues until they feel ready to set up a table at ringside. Spike charges and dives over the ropes onto Guerrero. Benoit whips Spike into the ring steps for good measure. Bubba’s comeback is thwarted and the Radicalz bring a second table into the ring. Bubba takes a double superplex but Spike moved the table out of the way. The Radicalz lean a third table in a turnbuckle and whip Spike towards it, but Bubba tackles Spike to save him. Bubba finds his second wind and unleashes a series of power moves. Spike assists with a double stomp onto Benoit and the WASSUP diving head butt to the groin. Benoit makes Spike tap to the crossface but gets caught with a Samoan drop from Bubba. Bubba puts himself through the table when Benoit dodges his senton. Spike outmaneuvers the Radicalz to send them both crashing to ringside. Spike counters a suplex and puts Eddie through a table with a Dudley Dog off the ring apron! Benoit press slams Spike over the ropes and through a table! Benoit sets up a fresh table but Benoit puts him through it with the Bubba Bomb for the upset win at 14:55! The Dudleys had to scratch and claw for that victory. Surprisingly dramatic opening contest, ***¼.
Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley vs. Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero
Winners: Spike and Bubba Ray Dudley
-An overly pleased with himself Eric Bischoff is interviewed backstage. He’s the new Raw GM and he’s awful proud of the match we just saw. Raw is all about Ruthless Aggression, so that’s why he’s going to sign Triple H! Bischoff approaches The Game and sucks up to hi. Eric notices that Triple H is heading into Stephanie McMahon’s office and is upset that he’s negotiating with the enemy.
They lock up and tumble to the floor. Back to the ring, Kidman looks for a quick pinfall. Noble panics and takes a timeout. Noble returns and quickly suffers a hurricanrana. Leg drop to the neck by Kidman but his dive is missed. Noble tosses Nidia into Kidman and drives his knees into the arm. Noble is now in the driver’s seat and is targeting the shoulder area. Kidman comes back with a fireman’s carry neck breaker! Noble goes after the shoulder again, applying an armbar. Kidman counters with a face buster! Noble takes a power bomb off the top rope! They trade counters and Kidman misses the Shooting Star Press! The Tiger Bomb finishes Kidman at 7:33. This would have benefited from a few extra minutes, but was a lot of fun to watch while it lasted. Sadly, the Cruiserweight division wouldn’t remain this competitive or fun for much longer, **¾.
Jamie Noble © (with Nidia) vs. Billy Kidman
Winner and still Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble
-Kurt Angle is interviewed backstage. Angle makes fun of Detroit and is about to promise victory when Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar show up to remind him that Lesnar faces the champion at Summerslam. Angle shakes hands with Brock and says he’d love to face him at Summerslam, but warns him not to mess with him. This isn’t the “Summer of Brock” it’s “All Year Angle.” Lesnar wishes Angle luck in a menacing fashion and leaves. Angle scoffs that Lesnar is “full of himself.” I miss this Angle.
Regal literally burst into tears after losing his European title to Jeff, so he’s extra motivated tonight. Jeff came within an eye lash of winning the WWE title from Undertaker a few weeks earlier, so naturally they used his momentum to put the third tier singles belt on him. They wrestle like it’s Sunday Night Heat for a few minutes, with Jeff seemingly on the verge of botching every stunt move. Regal counters the Swanton Bomb with his knees, which is always a cool moment, but Jeff reverses into a roll-up for the quick win at 4:14. This was entertaining filler, *½.
Jeff Hardy © vs. William Regal
Winner and still European Champion: Jeff Hardy
-Regal pretends to cry again on his way up the aisle.
-Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan congratulate Jeff for being awesome. Jeff leaves the two legends alone, where they share a nice moment.
Chris Jericho vs. John Cena
Cena had just debuted a few weeks back and is playing the character of green rookie (not much of a stretch). Jericho charges with a chair but it gets turned around on him. The match officially starts and Cena initially dominates. Jericho drops Cena onto the ropes and takes control. Cena struggles to deliver a superplex for a 2 count. Jericho runs into a power slam but comes back with a missile drop-kick to the gut. Jericho leaps into a belly to belly suplex for another near fall. Jericho misses the lionsault, but plants Cena for a rope-assisted near fall. Jericho nails a bulldog and lionsault and looks ready to win. Cena reverses the Walls with a roll-up for the upset at 6:15. Jericho was kind enough to put the newcomer over in a hot sprint of a match that did a wonderful job making Cena look better than he was, **½.
Winner: John Cena
-Jericho throws a tantrum as the embarrassment of his loss starts to sink in.
-Eric Bischoff is hovering outside Stephanie McMahon’s office and jumps all over a suit heading in. Bischoff must have Triple H holding down all the Raw talent for the next six straight years!
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler get a televised entrance and replace Tazz and Michael Cole on commentary for the remainder of the show.
-We are treated to footage of Rob Van Dam and Brock Lesnar warming up for their big match.
Lesnar is all confidence in the early going, nonchalantly delivering a standing fireman’s carry. RVD drop toe holds Lesnar into the turnbuckles and sends him to the floor with a spinning heel kick. RVD has an uphill battle against Lesnar, who catches him on a moonsault off the apron and power slams him onto the floor. Lesnar punishes Van Dam with his arsenal of power moves. RVD attempts a monkey flip but gets tossed to ringside for more abuse. Back to the ring, Lesnar applies the dreaded BEAR HUG! RVD survives an abdominal stretch and nails a thrust kick. RVD uses his educated feet to build a comeback, complete with Rolling Thunder. Van Dam reverses the F-5 into a tornado DDT! The Five Star Frog Splash connects, but Paul Heyman pulls the referee out of the ring to prevent a pinfall. Lesnar is disqualified at 9:40! Solid match here, even if they didn’t have great chemistry, **¼.
Rob Van Dam © vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)
Winner via DQ: Rob Van Dam
-RVD dives off the ropes onto Lesnar on the floor. He gets a chair and prepares for the Van Terminator, but Heyman grabs his leg. Lesnar recovers and ambushes RVD, finishing him with the F-5 onto the chair.
-Bischoff finally gets face time with Stephanie, who seems less than pleased to see him. She thinks she has Triple H in the bag and leaves. Bischoff confronts Triple H, who tells him what’s up. HHH hasn’t made up his mind yet.
I forgot about this feud, based around the dissolving of the WWE version of the n.W.o. Booker is finally getting a baby face turn against Big Show, who was damaged goods at this point in his career. Show dominates the early going with his lumbering offense. Booker swing a chair, which Show blocks with his fist. Booker gains an opening after using the ring post to his advantage. Booker clocks Show with a monitor and clears both announce tables for a stunt. Booker puts Show through the table with a scissors kick! That was awesome! They crawl to the ring, where Booker delivers a low blow and second scissors kick. Booker busts out the Harlem Hangover for the win at 6:11. This was basically a glorified squash, with some great spots thrown in, **¼.
Big Show vs. Booker T
Winner: Booker T
-Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie host the pay-per-view party at The World restaurant. It doesn’t take long for them to start bickering. If Torrie thinks she’s mad now, just wait until Dawn kills her father with sex.
-And now the reason why so many matches tonight have been so short: Triple H comes to the ring to make his decision on whether to sign with Raw or Smackdown. He’s joined by Eric Bischoff, who really, really wants The Game. Stephanie McMahon joins them and she wants her ex-husband for her show. Shawn Michaels joins the party and sways Triple H to join Raw, because they can hang out together and reunite the band. They leave Stephanie and Eric behind to argue. Stephanie finally slaps Eric and takes off. This was a stunning waste of pay-per-view time.
-Rikishi is interviewed backstage. The Phat Man is shocked that Triple H is leaving Smackdown, but hopes The Game is happy with decision. Okay then.
-Terri interviews Booker T and Goldust. They’re pretty excited about Triple H coming to Raw. I guess we’re supposed to think Triple H signing with Raw is the equivalent of Hogan joining WCW or something.
WWE Tag Team Championship:
Hogan immediately shoves Christian through the ropes. Hogan turns his attention to Storm and gets ambushed by Christian. Hogan eats a double suplex, but retaliates with a meeting of the minds. Storm gets knocked around like a jobber. Christian cheap shots from the apron, allowing Storm to land a kick to isolate Edge. Hogan gets a quick hot tag and throws punches and big boots. Christian reverses with a neck breaker but Hogan kicks out with authority. Hogan nails the Leg Drop on Christian, but Storm breaks the cover. Hogan gets blinded and dumped to the floor, where Storm drops him with a super kick. Hogan quickly turns it around enough to make a hot tag. Edge cleans house! Edge inadvertently spears the referee. Edge plants Storm but the ref is still down. Test runs in and destroys Edge with a big boot! The ref wakes up and Edge kicks out of Storm’s cover. Rikishi runs in and attacks Test! Edge spears Storm, but Chris Jericho runs in and clocks Edge with the tag title. Storm pins Edge at 10:01! This is another case of overbooked nonsense enhancing a match, not hurting it. This was fun once it got going, **½.
Hulk Hogan and Edge © vs. Lance Storm and Christian
Winners and new WWE Tag Team Champions: Lance Storm and Christian
-Eric Bischoff meets Kurt Angle in the hallway. Eric wants to make a deal to bring Angle to Raw. Angle is flattered but is more focused on winning the WWE title.
-Stephanie McMahon is watching a monitor and is asked about Bischoff making a play for Angle. Stephanie says she’s not happy about it, but she plans on winning this war. She hints that she has some revenge in mind.
Undisputed WWE Championship:
My hunch is that Angle got promoted back into the title picture because they were worried about Undertaker stinking up yet another singles match. Either way, it was a welcome change after several months of lumbering main events. Angle is so annoying in the early going that Undertaker and Rock attack him first. Angle gets dumped, and Taker initiates a brawl with Rock. Rock dumps Taker, who gets driven into the steps by Angle. Rock and Angle mix it up with back and forth action. Undertaker replaces Angle as Rock’s opponent, as this isn’t redefining the triple threat formula or anything. Rock busts out a choke slam on Undertaker! Angle hits the Rock Bottom on Rock. Undertaker nails the Olympic Slam on Angle! Rock delivers his own Peoples’ Elbow on Undertaker, but Angle drops him on the announce table to steal the pin attempt. Undertaker reverses control on Angle, but Rock spits water in his face. Taker gets rid of Rock and busts Angle open. Rock returns but eats a Dead Man DDT for a near fall. Angle gets a chair but finds himself getting punched around by both opponents. Rock low blows Taker and falls onto the referee, who doesn’t see Angle hit Undertaker with the chair. Angle nails the Olympic Slam on Rock, but can’t pin anyone. Rock pops up with the Sharpshooter on Angle! Undertaker breaks it with the Last Ride on Rock. Angle catches Undertaker with the ankle lock! Taker counters, but Angle reverses the Last Ride into a triangle choke! The hold is broken after a long struggle. Angle gets the ankle lock on Rock, but Undertaker choke slams him. Rock Bottom on Undertaker! Olympic Slam on Undertaker! Rock catches Angle with the Rock Bottom and pins him for the title at 19:05! I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that Angle was in this to do the job, but I’ll ignore that for the sake of time. This started out kind of wishy-washy, but got damn good towards the end, they had the building buzzing with the rapid fire finishers and reversals, ***¾.
The Undertaker © vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle
Winner and new Undisputed WWE Champion: The Rock
Final Thoughts: After many months of clunky main events, this was a welcome return to form, with a hot finale to a night of solid action. This show opens and ends strongly, and there were no bad matches, so this one gets a mild recommendation. The Triple H ego stroke segments were a bit much, but I’m tired of complaining about him. Thumbs in the middle.
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