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WWF RAW- January 14, 2002
by Scrooge McSuck
Presented LIVE on TNN (I almost typed USA Network, not going to lie) from the American Airlines Arena in Dallas, TX. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. In matches taped for Jakked/Metal, we've got the Boss Man pinning Shawn Stasiak, Perry Saturn submitting Eddie Craven, and Funaki pinning Michael Shane. Also, Charlie Haas is the latest OVW talent given a look, working a dark match with Rico Constantino. We're less than a week away from the Royal Rumble, and we know most of the card and the top names featured in the Rumble, so we'll see how the WWF attempts to drum up interest for any last-minute buyers still on the fence about ordering.
Ric Flair makes his way to the ring to kick things off. Last week on Raw, Vince McMahon busted him open after doing his best to humiliate the man who bought the stock of Vince's no-good children (his words, and I'm sure the words of a lot of fans). Flair kisses up to the Dallas fans about working at the Texas Stadium in 1984 against Kerry Von Erich. Smart money says most of these people weren't hardcore fans of the territory days. Personally speaking, most of the people I knew in Middle and High School weren't fans prior to 1997. We see the clips of Vince's antics last week. What Vince did may not have turned him on like it does Vince, but it got his engine going. He promises to abuse his powers by making their match at the Royal Rumble a STREET FIGHT. How many matches has Vince worked that were straight-up singles matches? I'd wager you can count them on one hand. Flair does Flair things as I wonder WHY THE F*CK DIDN'T YOU BRING HIM IN WHEN YOU WERE LITERALLY USING THE WCW BRAND THAT IS MOST CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH RIC FLAIR. Flair calls out Vince, but we get Chris Jericho instead. Jericho talks about a time when the focus wasn't on the owner, it was the Champion, and that means the entire world revolves around him. He promises to beat the Rock for the 5th time at the Royal Rumble. He calls himself the anti-Texan because he's good looking and has natural charisma and makes fun of Texans for wearing goofy hats and boots and talking like a bunch of rednecks. Jericho compares Flair to President George W. Bush because just like Bush did, he's going to choke at the Royal Rumble. Flair responds by decking Jericho with a right hand and throwing chops in the corner. Jericho fires back until Flair hits him low. Twice. Flair slaps on a Figure-Four, opening the door for a maniacal-looking Vince McMahon to rush the ring and whack Flair with the lead pipe. THIS. SEGMENT. WON'T. END. Vince says he's practiced his field goal kicking, but Flair blocks the low blow. Jericho holds Flair, giving Vince another free shot with the pipe. It's confirmed: Vince vs Flair is the biggest attraction after the Royal Rumble Match itself.
Christian and Lance Storm offer congratulations to Chris Jericho for just went down in the ring. Bradshaw interrupts, saying if he's got a problem with Flair, that's between them, but he made fun of HIS state and HIS people. HOW DARE JERICHO MAKE FUN OF OUR PRESIDENT THAT GIVES HIM FREEDOM (Jericho is Canadian). Bradshaw promises to teach them a lesson in the ring.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon runs for his life to leave the arena.
Spike Dudley (w/ Tazz) vs. Bubba Ray Dudley (w/ D'Von Dudley & Stacy Keibler):
Adjusting for missing commercial breaks, we're half-an-hour into the show and we're finally getting a match. Spike and Tazz issued a challenge to Bubba Ray and D'Von, one of those rare occasions where the CHAMPIONS challenge the CHALLENGERS to a title match. Bubba jumps Spike as he enters the ring. Whip to the corner, with Spike taking the chest-first bump into the turnbuckle. Whip to the ropes and Bubba with a gorilla press. He teases dumping Spike over the top rope, but Spike rakes the eyes and lands on top. Spike with mounted right hands that Bubba easily shrugs off. He plants Spike with a slam and misses a splash from the second turnbuckle. Spike fires off some rights and avoids double-team shenanigans. Bubba blocks the Dudley Dog. Stacy hops on the apron to distract the referee from seeing the WASSUP headbutt, but the plan backfires and Spike ties up Bubba with a victory roll for three at 2:02. This was incredibly rushed.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley arrive to the building. Stephanie is sick of being treated badly because she's the wife of the Game and a McMahon, but Triple H doesn't seem to care about her problems right now.
The Hurricane (w/ Mighty Molly) & Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Billy & Chuck:
Believe it or not, this match is following up on what happened on Sunday Night Heat, when Hurricane came to the aid of Tajiri following a loss to Billy (with some help from Chuck). Before the match, Billy cuts a promo about being so upset with the Hurricane and Tajiri, they had to cancel a date with two hot chicks. If anyone in the WWF has the physique to be a superhero, it's them, because Superman can't touch what they have. Hurricane counters, saying they are more like the Human Torch (“FLAME ON”). All four men brawl to start. Billy meets a boot in the corner, but Chuck is there to prevent Hurricane taking advantage of the moment. Chuck puts the boots to Hurricane in the corner so aggressively he loses his headband. Hurricane surprises Billy with a swinging DDT and hits Chuck with a neck breaker, setting up the tag to Tajiri. He unloads on Chuck with kicks and finally takes him down with an enzuigiri. Chuck catches the handspring elbow, then eats a clothesline on heel miscommunication. Hurricane with a flying cross body on Billy. Chuck gets caught in the Tarantula while Billy dumps Hurricane. Tajiri with a Super Kick on Billy, then Chuck hits Tajiri with a Super Kick for the three-count at 2:57. I was under the impression the Super Kick Party wasn't a thing for another decade. Just a couple of hot moves wrapped around stuff happening. That's twice we've seen them book a match for Billy and Chuck where they win matches on Heat, then win the follow-up match on Raw.
The Undertaker is in the building. No, he doesn't have the Hardcore Championship with him.
Michael Cole is backstage with Kurt Angle. He claims Angle was saved from certain defeat on Smackdown when Kane interfered. Angle says he had Stone Cold where he wanted him until Kane stuck his burned-off nose in his business. Angle plays into the "What" chants as he challenges Kane to a match for later tonight.
Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley tries to big league Debra again, leading to the world's lamest cat fight. I'm more amused by the random cameos of Steve Lombardi (out of character), Harvey Wippleman, and the Hebners. Of course, poor Harvey gets slapped, but not by the obvious suspect.
Jacqueline vs Jazz:
Winner challenges for the Women's Championship at the Royal Rumble. Trish Stratus joins commentary, and I forgot she still had her original theme music (pre-Lil' Kim). With the power of hindsight, this music just doesn't fit her as a babyface. Jacqueline has done jack and squat for most of the last 2 years, but she's from Dallas, so here's some charity. I've got two words for this: Forgone conclusion. Jazz hops in the ring and immediately shoves Jackie into the corner. Lawler calls Jazz the Puppy Party Pooper. Jazz goes to the eyes and plants Jackie with a slam. Jackie avoids a splash and throws a series of kicks. Whip to the ropes and Jackie with a one-woman flapjack. Jazz cuts her off with a simple leg trip and hits a Fisherman Buster for three at 1:13. Jazz makes a move for Trish, but they are quickly broken up. For the record, we've had 6 MINUTES of bell-to-bell action for the first hour of this episode.
Kane vs. Kurt Angle:
It's the time-honored tradition of reheating Kane for the Royal Rumble. Just think, in 2002, using his 2001 accomplishments was FRESH. They would book him terribly for most Rumbles for the remainder of the decade, but they would never stop harping on how great he did that one year. They go face-to-face, with Angle having to go tippy toes to accomplish it. Angle throws right hands, but Kane isn't fazed. Kane blocks a German Suplex and sends Angle to the floor. Angle pulls Kane to the outside and pays for it. Back inside, Angle takes advantage of having the high ground, putting the boots to Kane. The advantage is short-lived, as Kane catches him coming off the ropes with a powerslam. Damn all this smoke from the pyro! I thought Vince brought sports entertainment out of smoky venues. Kane with a double choke-lift and slam, but he misses the elbow drop. Angle tackles Kane into the corner and takes him over with a fireman's carry. Kane no-sells Angle's chops and levels him with a pair of clotheslines. Whip to the ropes and Kane with a BAAAACK body-drop. Whip to the corner and Kane with Dino Bravo's patented side slam. Kane climbs the ropes, but Angle pops up and takes him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle puts Kane on his back with a clothesline and unloads with a flurry of mounted rights. Kane blocks the Ankle Lock attempt and connects with an enzuigiri. Kane throws more rights in the corner. Whip and Kane with a tilt-o-whirl slam. He goes high risk again and connects with the flying lariat. Angle avoids the Tombstone, then Kane fights out of a waist-lock. Angle counters a chokeslam with an arm drag and applies the Ankle Lock. Kane gets to the ropes, but Angle pulls him away, and THAT'S ALLOWED? Kane fights to the ropes a second time, and the referee finally does his job. Angle Slam connects, but Kane kicks out at two! Kane goozles Angle. Angle grabs referee Charles Robinson, so Kane gives them both a ride with the Chokeslam! Kane applies the Ankle Lock on Angle, but the referee is still knocked out and doesn't see Angle tap. Kane reapplies the hold, but Angle picks the ankle and sits down on Kane, using the ropes to score the cheap three-count at 9:40. This was a damn fine TV match. Not a fan of the “use the ropes” finish that Angle does so often, but whatever. ***¼
Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley continues to annoy Triple H, whining about everything that's happened to her tonight, then tries getting him upset by saying Debra said Steve Austin would kick his a$$ at the Royal Rumble.
The APA are drinking beers and playing cards, talking over who they should ask to be their partner tonight. The Big Show waddles in, wearing a Royal Rumble T-shirt as a tarp. Meanwhile, Booker T is wandering around, looking for the training room. Bradshaw says he needs a barber more, and yells at Booker for coming in through their back door. Then Big Show makes fun of Booker "licking a lot of a$$"" when he was in the ring with Rikishi. Booker says maybe Big Show needs his a$$ kicked, and he's the one to do it.
Edge & Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal & Test:
Referee Nick Patrick checks Regal's gear for the brass knuckles, allowing Test to get the jump on Edge and RVD, coming in through the crowd. We see Regal pull a pair of knuckles from the area around the ring post. RVD and Test with a bit of back-and-forth, playing background noise to the Regal shenanigans. Regal tags in, laying into RVD with forearms. Snap mare and Regal with his shin across the throat, tagging Test in. Whip to the corner and Test follows in with a clothesline for two. RVD fights out of a chin-lock but Test cuts him off with a knee lift. RVD flips through a suplex attempt and lays Test out with a spinning heel kick. Both sides tag, giving us a preview of the Intercontinental Title Match at the Royal Rumble. Edge controls, thwarting interference from Test in the process. Heck breaks loose, allowing Regal to KO RVD with the Power of the Punch. Edge with a Spear on Regal, followed by the Edge-ecution on Test. Regal recovers and uses the Power of the Punch to finish off Edge at 4:14. This was just stuff happening to build interest for the PPV.
Chris Jericho, Christian, and Lance Storm are in the dressing room, watching the APA recruiting Rikishi. WHO THE HELL IS BROADCASTING THAT? Are you telling me the Canadian Crew has a separate feed to their locker room than the rest of the world? DUMB.
Big Show vs. Booker T:
Booker T went from getting heat on Austin and Rock to fighting for his dignity after a Rikishi Stink-Face made him vomit on TV in less than two weeks. Of course, we get a replay. TWICE. Ross lets us know Booker will be in the Royal Rumble Match. Booker is seen adjusting a turnbuckle pad as the Big Show makes his entrance. Booker opens with a series of rights. Show catches a body press, planting Booker with a slam. Booker avoids a chop in the corner and throws more rights. Whip is countered by Big Show with a side slam. Booker avoids the goozle and Show throws himself over the top rope on a half-hearted charge. Booker follows and gets thrown into the ring post. Back inside, we can see the turnbuckle pad has fallen off. Whip and Booker clips the knee, followed by the scissors kick for two. Big Show cuts him off again, planting him with a flapjack. Whip to the corner, Big Show meets a boot, then eats the steel on a drop toe hold for a three-count at 2:40. I don't know, I have a hard time accepting a 500-pound man could be caught with a drop toe hold so easily. No offense to Booker but beating Big Show at this point isn't much to brag about.
Michael Cole is standing by backstage with Steve Austin for another excruciatingly long promo with heavy emphasis on "What". You can bet your fern I'm hitting the fast forward tab. You know he's talking about the Royal Rumble, and this artificially created beef with Triple H that Stephanie and Debra have been harping about.
The APA & Rikishi vs. Chris Jericho, Christian, and Lance Storm:
The WORLD CHAMPION, on the go-home episode of Raw, is in this nothing six-man with a bunch of opening match goobers. All six men brawl to kick things off. We're left with Jericho and Rikishi in the ring. Rikishi with a Samoan Drop as Storm gets the blind tag. Jericho falls into place for the Stink-Face, but Christian saves and Storm lays Rikishi out with a Super-Kick. Jericho back in and he's immediately planted with a belly-to-belly suplex. Bradshaw in, running through Storm with a shoulder block. Whip and Bradshaw with a boot, followed by an elbow. Christian tries his luck and gets tossed with the fallaway slam. Storm makes another save for Jericho, nailing Bradshaw from the top rope. Christian works over the man he beat for the European Title (I bet no one remembers that) until getting caught off the turnbuckle with a powerslam. Faarooq in, planting Jericho and Christian with spine-busters. Storm fights out of a Dominator and it's time for everyone to get their sh*t in. Faarooq powerslams Jericho, but Storm distracts the referee from counting. Jericho from behind with the Full Nelson face-buster (Miz's Skull Crushing Finale) and Faarooq is done at 3:29. CHRIS JERICHO SHOULDN'T NEED HELP BEATING OLD RON SIMMONS.
Triple H comes out for our Main Event Promo. What else can be said or done to hype the Royal Rumble? During Hunter's 4-minute entrance, Lawler starts running down a bunch of names for the Royal Rumble, including some of the under-card filler that we haven't heard about before (names like Billy and Chuck). Triple H does his best to keep his cadence going, but these fans still try inserting “what” here and there. I can't describe how much I hate that crap. Triple H talks about rehabbing and saying he didn't come back just to be one of the boys. He went through hell to come back and be the best, and that means winning the Royal Rumble Match and the WWF Championship at WrestleMania. He doesn't care who else is in the match, he promises to win the Royal Rumble. Steve Austin makes his way to the ring, and they go face-to-face. To my surprise, they trade punches. Both men tease their finishers, countered each time. Suddenly, the Undertaker whacks Hunter, allowing Austin to hit the Stunner. Undertaker immediately takes out Austin too, and he's left standing tall as the show closes.
Final Thoughts: I'm sorry, but the 2002 Royal Rumble isn't looking like that great of a show as far as personal interest is concerned. Is it cool Triple H is back from injury? Sure, but there's no mystery to who is winning the Royal Rumble. Ric Flair is working his first match in a WWF ring in almost 9 years, but he's working with Vince McMahon, so it'll be a smoke and mirrors affair. The World Champion is preoccupied working with comedy relief than building up his match with the Rock, and the rest of the card is just filler. The best part of this show is the Angle/Kane match, but there were no stakes, and it doesn't push forward any storylines other than giving them shine for a Rumble everyone knows they aren't winning.
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