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WWF RAW- January 21, 2002
by Scrooge McSuck
Presented LIVE on TNN from the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville, SC, with Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We're 24-hours removed from the Royal Rumble, where Triple H surprisingly won the 30-Man Rumble Match, Chris Jericho stole a victory over the Rock to retain the Undisputed World Championship, and Ric Flair finally gave Vince McMahon the comeuppance he deserved. We're officially on the Road to WrestleMania, but we must not forget there's another PPV coming up in the meantime. Tonight, we've got The Rock and Triple H taking on Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle in the Main Event.
We open with the tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., as was customary for the WWF for all the years I've watched the company.
Rob Van Dam, Tazz, and Spike Dudley vs. Booker T and The Dudley Boyz (w/ Stacy Keibler):
I'm surprised we're kicking off the first episode of Raw following the Royal Rumble with a match and not a 20-minute promo segment. Little Spike Dudley is still wearing the neck support. I think the guy is good enough to get crowd sympathy without that crutch, but maybe it's comfortable to wear. Jim Ross notes Booker eliminated RVD last night (after RVD ate a Pedigree from Triple H). Stacy Keibler will be in Milwaukee on Saturday when tickets for No Way Out go on sale! Wait, they aren't selling tickets until THREE WEEKS BEFORE THE PPV? That seems off. Booker and RVD trade blows to start things. Whip to the ropes, RVD ducks one elbow but catches a second on the rebound. RVD ducks a heel kick and connects with his own. RVD avoids a second heel kick and comes back with a dropkick and standing moonsault for a two-count. Tazz throws rights until he's distracted by the Dudley Boyz on the apron, allowing Booker T to regain control for his team. Whip and D'von with a spinning back elbow. Bubba takes Tazz out of the corner with a suplex and takes a shot at Spike for the hell of it. Booker with his signature Scissors Kick, but he holds off on the spin-a-rooni. D'Von with a snap mare and leg drop for two. Tazz gets dumped and takes a weak stumble into the steps courtesy of Bubba Ray. Back inside, Tazz surprises D'Von with an overhead throw and in comes RVD. He lays into Bubba with forearms and bounces off the ropes with a spinning heel kick. Bubba misses a charge and RVD hits a twisting body press for two. RVD continues to run wild, taking on all three men by himself. Bubba rolls away from Rolling Thunder and D'Von pops in for the assisted neck breaker. We've got all six men brawling in the ring. Booker shoves RVD from the top turnbuckle to the floor and plants Spike with a spine-buster. Tazz throws Booker with a T-Bone, walks into the 3-D, and as soon as that hits, RVD hits Bubba with the 5-Star Frog Splash for three at 5:59. Fun finish to a solid match. **½
Undisputed WWF Champion Chris Jericho makes his way to ringside, no doubt ready to gloat about how he defeated the Rock yet again. Jim Ross reminds us he needed a low blow, exposed turnbuckle, AND his feet on the ropes to beat the Rock (not to mention his friends attempting to interfere as well). He told everyone that he should be taken seriously, but everyone assumed the Rock would win and go to WrestleMania as the Undisputed Champion. He's beat every Superstar there is to beat, and no one else can make that claim. Even though nobody gave him a chance, he's willing to give the fans a chance to make it up to him by getting out of their stands and clapping their filthy hands together. He DEMANDS the standing ovation that he deserves. TRIPLE H interrupts, and maybe it's the music being too loud or bad acoustics, but it doesn't get an ungodly reaction. Hunter offers some insincere applause before grabbing his own microphone. After all Jericho's accomplished, isn't it something that he's the only one clapping? Hunter calls Jericho out for his claims of beating everyone, naming himself as the one man he never defeated (the 2000 "title switch" was erased, for those digging deep to complain). He survived 29 other men and is guaranteed the opportunity to stand in the ring at WrestleMania to compete for the Undisputed Championship, but the big question is… will Chris Jericho be there? Can he make it to WrestleMania as the Undisputed Champion? He has two-months to prove to the world that he isn't a fluke, to prove he is a living legend, and two-months until it's time to play the game. Now KURT ANGLE interrupts. Angle claims Hunter was unsportsmanlike after knocking him over the top rope, attacking him from behind instead of facing him face-to-face. He can't wait to kick Hunter's butt and rushes the ring. Jericho interrupts a Pedigree attempt, blasting Hunter with one of the belts. Angle hits the Angle Slam as chants for the Rock fill the arena. Walls of Jericho is applied and NOW the Rock makes the save. Jericho bails out as Angle takes all the abuse.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
William Regal (c) vs. Edge:
Last Night at the Royal Rumble, Edge lost the Intercontinental Championship to William Regal under dubious circumstances. JR notes Edge had a one-time rematch clause in his contract and opted to use it tonight. Referee Nick Patrick checks around the ring, as if that means anything. Edge attacks Regal before the bell, leading him around ringside and slamming him face-first onto the announcer's table. Regal gets sent over the barricade and brought back to ringside with a suplex. Edge rolls Regal into the ring and the bell unfairly rings before Regal is on his feet. Edge with a missile dropkick for a two-count. Back suplex for two. Edge chases Regal to the outside and gets sent to the post for his transgression. Back inside, Regal with a forearm to the back of the neck. He connects with a knee to the chest, followed by a knee to the side of the head for two. Edge fights out of the straight jacket chin-lock and comes off the ropes with a body press for two. Regal quickly regains control, tripping Edge up and applying a cross-face. Edge blocks a butterfly suplex and unloads with right hands. Whip across the ring and Edge with a back body-drop. He comes off the ropes with a clothesline and spinning heel kick for two. Regal blocks another whip, but whiffs a clothesline and gets the rug pulled out from under him. Edge climbs as Regal produces a pair of brass knuckles. Edge connects with the heel kick and instead of covering, fetches the knuckles and lays Regal out. He makes the mistake of covering with the knuckles still on his hand and Patrick rightfully calls for the DQ at 4:27. DUMBA$$. Edge, being the sore loser he is, nails Patrick, then hits Charles Robinson and Jimmy Korderas with Spears. Perfectly fine for what it was. How much more can they milk out of Edge and Regal? When we return from the commercial break, Edge is being escorted from the building by security.
Kane and the Big Show are in the locker room. Show says Kane did something no one else ever has, picking him up and putting him out of the Rumble, and offers a handshake. Show promises next time will be a different story. Here comes Billy and Chuck, offering to help Kane fix his look by giving him a red band with his name on it. Kane doesn't appreciate the gift and gets worked over for it. Interesting that they're still trying to get over calling Chuck Palumbo "Chuckie", but it was dropped soon enough.
Mr. Perfect comes across Debra backstage and complains to her about her husband bashing him with a steel chair after he was already eliminated. Steve Austin may be the toughest SOB in the WWF, but he's not PERFECT.
Co-Owner Ric Flair comes out for what I expect to be another lengthy talking segment. Someone told him as he was walking through the parking lot that this was Flair Country, and he responded with a "Woo!". For 25 years, he's bled, he'd sweat, and he paid the price. He had to leave his family behind as he was winning World Championships. He calls the fans his family away from his family, but in recent years, his goal has been for his four children to look past Ric Flair, the World Champion and see him as a great man and a great father. That's why when Vince McMahon started to screw with him and his family, he had to change a great saying. The saying used to be "to be the man, you gotta beat the man." Last night it became "to be the man, you got to beat Vince McMahon." Last night, Vince tried to humiliate him by grabbing a camera from his family and taking pictures of him. He says Vince is a terrible photographer, but his daughter Megan is terrific, and shows off an image of a bloodied Vince. As expected, here's Vince McMahon to interrupt. Flair doesn't take any chances, taking off his jacket and ready to throw hands. Vince teases the same before addressing the crowd. If he lost at the Royal Rumble, Ric lost too. Every WWF Superstar lost at the Royal Rumble. Every WWF fan lost at the Royal Rumble. He's about to do something that even he will regret. "You'll see... you'll see". That was rather subdued for Vince.
Val Venis vs. Mr. Perfect:
Both men made their returns to WWF action the previous night as part of the Royal Rumble. Venis was last seen in May, removed from TV with the demise of "Right to Censor", while Perfect left under dubious circumstances in November of ‘96, and last wrestled for the Federation in November of ‘93. Curious to throw them out here against each other. I'm guessing Val is the default babyface based on Perfect's trash-talking Austin, but fans naturally take a liking to Perfect anyway, and he's still going to get that nostalgia pop. Val doesn't get much of a reaction either. He promises one lucky lady is going to get in the ring and remove the Big Valbowski's towel. Val even rips off the Rude Awakening (not the neck breaker, the kiss) in an attempt to reheat this gimmick. Lockup and they jockey for control until Val pops Perfect with an elbow. Venis with a drop toe hold, but Perfect counters with a hammerlock. Perfect lays into Val with chops, takes him out of the corner and connects with the signature rolling snap mare. Whip is reversed and Val with a pair of knees into the midsection, followed by a Russian leg sweep for two. Perfect meets a boot in the corner but recovers to hit a big forearm. Suddenly, the glass shatters and here comes "Stone Cold" Steve Austin
. He snatches a chair from ringside and KO's Perfect with it (completely unprotected, too). Val makes the mistake of grabbing a microphone and ends up on his a$$ too. Call it a No Contest at 2:00. Not worth a rating, but they looked fine with the few spots they did.
Steve Austin cuts a "What" filled promo that I'm not wasting my time on. I cannot stand this era of Austin's sing-along promos where he just rambles nonsense to get a "What" chant every 3-seconds.
Kane & Big Show vs. Billy & Chuck:
I originally opened with how much it didn't make sense to put a new featured act in a tough spot like this, but then I remembered Big Show was barely a step above "Jobber" for a good part of 2001 and had little momentum at this point. Jerry Lawler seems confused about Show's involvement, thinking this was a handicap match for Kane. Kane lays out both men on the ramp with clotheslines. Kane and Show take turns working over Chuck until Show knocks him into his own corner. Billy gets thrown into the ring and doesn't fare much better. Kane climbs to the top turnbuckle and gets knocked to the floor as Show gets knocked into the ropes. Chuck and Billy with a double DDT on Show. Billy with the Fame-Asser (and an assist from the outside from Chuck) for three at 1:39. See what I mean? Too short, but it was a mess to watch.
Triple H tells The Rock that tonight they are partners, but he doesn't need the Rock to be his savior. Rock asks him why he's always angry. He won the Royal Rumble and will go to WrestleMania. He tells him to eat some ice cream or eat a ham and cheese sandwich. Tonight, the Rock and Triple H are going to whoop Jericho and Angle all over Greenville.
Recap of Undertaker's dominance of the Royal Rumble until being surprisingly eliminated by Tough Enough Winner, Maven.
The APA are in WWF New York and The Godfather is NEXT.
The Godfather comes out with a few of his escorts. He's gone legit and he's looking like he's in the best shape of his career. Just like Val, we're trying to rewind the clock with a dead gimmick, except now the Godfather isn't pimping ho's, he's running a legitimate escort service. If you can't find the Yellow Pages, you can call 1-800-GODFATHER. Lance Storm interrupts. No one enjoys a good time like he does, but his business is as legitimate as a 3-legged donkey. Yay, more "WHAT" chants. Storm says the ring is for serious competition and doesn't appreciate Godfather's escorts disgracing it. Storm offers them to leave or he can escort them out personally. Godfather tells Storm to walk his "narrow-behind" to the ring so he can give him an a$$-whooping "legitimately." Storm quickly hits a jumping heel kick, but Godfather straddles him across the top turnbuckle and hits the Escort-Train (I called it that, not anyone else).
24 Karat Pictures Presents a Shattered Dreams Production. "Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Al Pacino, Godfather Part III, 1990." Goldust has been out of the game, biding his time until he makes the most spectacular comeback, one that would make John Travolta snivel with jealousy. His time has come to be the greatest shining star in the WWF. His dreams will be realized, and he won't have them shattered again. He makes vague threats, but offers no clues.
Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley tells Triple H to kick the Rock's a$$ for what he's said and done to her, but Triple H isn't interested. He tells Stephanie the whole world doesn't revolve around what she wants. Stephanie says he's changed and hasn't bothered to acknowledge her contributions to his success. Hunter tells her to make a contribution to his sanity and do the one thing she never seems to do, and that's shut up.
The Rock & Triple H vs. Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle:
Even with them rushing through entrances, that only leaves about 8-minutes of TV time. I'm all for keeping matches on Raw and Smackdown a reasonable length, but that's a criminally low amount of time for the talent involved. Rock and Angle start. Rock unloads with right hands and comes off the ropes with a diving clothesline. Angle pops up from a Samoan drop and buries a knee into the midsection. Jericho with a series of strikes against the ropes. Rock nails Jericho coming off the ropes with a spear and pounds away. Hunter in, throwing rights. Jericho tries going to the top rope and gets slammed down. Rushed matches like this make almost every move feel pointless with the lack of selling. Rock with an overhead throw, followed by a spine-buster. Angle interrupts the People's Elbow, pulling the ropes down and causing Rock to take a spill to the arena floor. Back inside, Jericho with a slam and elbow drops for a two-count. Rock turns things around on Angle, turning him over with the Sharpshooter, but Jericho saves. Angle with the Ankle-Lock, and this time Triple H saves. Rock surprises Jericho with a DDT and now everyone is selling like they are dead. Hunter gets the hot tag, running wild with clotheslines and right hands. He plants Angle with a spine-buster and counters a missile dropkick from Jericho, sending him over the top rope. Jericho searches under the ring as Hunter continues to dominate. Hunter sees Jericho climbing the ropes with one of his title belts in hand and sends Angle crashing into him. Pedigree to Angle but Jericho saves, making that previous sequence of Jericho getting caught pointless. Rock gets his hot tag now, throwing hands on Jericho. Jericho counters a whip and hits the bulldog. Jericho fetches the ring bell and accidentally whacks Angle. Rock Bottom to Jericho and Rock covers for three at 7:39. Are we not done with Rock vs. Jericho yet? Match was fine. Rushed through early and then house show formula finish.
Final Thoughts: Take out a somewhat disappointing Main Event and Austin's promo, and you've got a solid show. Everything seemed to be done to move a storyline along or to nudge a Superstar in the right direction. Seeing all four of the returning Superstars from the Royal Rumble (Perfect, Godfather, Val, and Goldust) getting shine was a bit of a surprise, considering most could generously be called roster filler bodies. We've got No Way Out to look forward to on February 17th and it feels like the entire card is wide open, though the most likely match so far is Triple H vs. Kurt Angle based on their interactions.
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