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WWF RAW- March 4, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

Kurt Angle

Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Frank Erwin Center in Austin, TX, with Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Matches taped for Jakked/Metal include Val Venis defeating Mike Anthony, Perry Saturn pinning Paul London in a six-minute match that I wouldn't mind tracking down, and Crash pinning Eddie Craven. Also featured for the live audience, the Boss Man defeats Redd Dog (who would debut on TV about a year later and go by the name Rodney Mack). We're less than 2-weeks away from WrestleMania (X-8), and we've got all the big matches announced, now we have to get through four more episodes (combined) of Raw and Smackdown and hopefully the excitement picks up.

We open with a pre-tape from Vince McMahon announcing Ric Flair's absence for tonight. With that said, Vince declares tonight is Fan Appreciation NIGHT, including a Steel Cage Match between Kurt Angle and Triple H. He also says Raw returns to a state of normalcy, and all of this is said with a comically overdone maniacal expression on his face. There's such a thing as trying too hard, Vince.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Booker T:

When we last saw Booker T (on Smackdown), he was disappointed to find out the Japanese Shampoo endorsement deal went to that dastardly Canadian, Edge. Austin has his knee taped up heavily to sell the cinderblock broken over his leg on last week's episode of Raw. Lawler calls Booker T's hair-style "The Medusa." I don't think that's the compliment you think it is, Jerry. Lockup to the corner, Austin blocks a cheap shot and backs Booker up with a series of rights. Whip to the ropes and Austin with a spine-buster, followed by an elbow drop. The crowd chants "What?!" along with every chop thrown. Whip and Austin with a knee to the midsection. He uses the bad knee and instantly starts selling it, allowing Booker to take control in the corner. Whip is reversed but Austin meets an elbow. Snap mare and Booker grabs a chin-lock. Suddenly, the nWo hit the ring and casually attacked Austin, throwing the match out at 2:40.

Austin tries his best to take on three half-mobile men, but Scott Hall cuts him off with a wrench to the head, busting Austin open in the process. The three hooligans take turns getting their shots in on the weakened Austin. No one comes to the rescue and to add insult to injury, Hall delivers a Stunner to wrap up the assault. An angle disguised as a match. I'll give them credit; they're trying everything they can to make Austin vs. Hall a meaningful attraction for WrestleMania.

Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert vs. Test & Mr. Perfect:

I'm in total disbelief that Vince is putting Perfect back on live TV after that egg he laid working with Steve Austin in last week's Main Event. Test has fallen hard down the depth chart once his immunity storyline started being ignored. Poor Perfect comes out to zero reaction (losing every match does that to you). Perfect and Albert start. Perfect grabs a side headlock, but Albert easily bulldozes him with a shoulder block. Test with a cheap shot from the apron to cut him off, followed by a series of rights and boots. Whip across the ring and Test charges in with a clothesline. Perfect teases the Perfect-Plex but Albert counters, dropping Perfect on his face. Scotty with the tag, running wild on Perfect with right hands. Test runs in and eats a Super Kick. Scotty hops on Albert's back and rides him into the corner for an avalanche. Perfect sends Albert to the post while Scotty takes down Test with a bulldog. He hits the Worm, but Perfect is the legal man, and he puts Scotty away with the Perfect-Plex at 2:20. Post-match, Perfect continues putting the boots to Scotty until Albert makes the save, only for Test to lay him out with a boot. Here comes Rikishi to knock Test out of the ring and give Perfect a Stink Face. Scotty and Rikishi hug it out, so I'm assuming this is the first time they've reconciled since Rikishi turned heel in the Fall of 2000.

Jonathan Coachman is with Kurt Angle, who cuts a promo with deliberate pauses for maximum "WHAT?!" annoyance.

Lillian Garcia is in the ring with the NEW Hardcore Champion, Goldust. How many times can you say they trusted Lillian to do one of these live in the ring? She asks if he feels like he deserves to be the Champion, taking advantage of the "forgotten 24/7 rule." Goldust quotes Clint Eastwood from "Unforgiven". He says people weren't dumb enough to jump the Undertaker, and they won't do the same to him. This brings out Tazz, with referee Jackie behind him.

WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
Goldust (c) vs. Tazz:

Tazz pounds away and throws Goldust with a T-Bone Suplex. Goldust cuts him off with a shot from a fire extinguisher. Whip to the ropes and Goldust with a jumping hip attack. Tazz with a kick to the golden globes to regain control, but that lasts about 5-seconds. Goldust sets him up for Shattered Dreams, fetches some toys, and hits the punt to barely any reaction. Tazz barely sells it, kicking a garbage can into Goldust's face. He hooks the Tazzmission, but Goldust escapes by whacking him with a trash can lid and falling on top for the three count at 2:10. Nothing to this one either.

The nWo are backstage enjoying some of Steve Austin's personal stash of adult beverages. Have we gone ONE WEEK without Hall being put in a situation where he's sharing screen time with alcoholic beverages (either real or gimmicked)?

Coach is with Rob Van Dam. He's set to meet William Regal for the Intercontinental Title at WrestleMania (X-8). We watch the highlights of how he earned his title shot. RVD is confident in himself and promises to leave the new Champion. Lance Storm interrupts, letting us viewers know that they'll meet one-on-one later tonight. RVD tells Storm to lighten up, so Storm responds with an open-hand strike across the jaw.

Diamond Dallas Page is backstage with Christian, who is still practicing his goofy smile. He says he feels like an idiot, but DDP tells him he's doing good. We're skipping phase one and jumping right into phase two. Christian interrupts to answer a phone call. He says to pull the plug on his Grandma, because he's got a sweet spot in her Will. So much for Christian being a great person.

Scott Hall beats someone up for wearing a Steve Austin "What?" shirt. I'm sorry, but Hall is the babyface in this scenario.

The Godfather and his escorts are partying at WWF New York in Times Square. Jerry Lawler says his escort business isn't doing so well. SHOCKING NEWS.

WWF Women's Championship Match:
Jazz (c) vs. Trish Stratus:

I'm willing to wager a small chunk of change that this is another angle disguised as a match since we don't have a Women's Championship Match announced for WrestleMania (yet). Jazz shoves Trish on her backside to kick things off. Trish blocks being sent to the turnbuckle and unloads with forearms and kicks. Whip across the ring, Jazz avoids a clothesline and decks Trish with a right hand. Jazz gets a double handful of hair and bounces off the ropes with a leg drop for a two-count. She flips Trish over with a single-leg crab and turns it into an STF while Lawler complains about Jazz ruining a wet t-shirt contest from a few weeks ago. Trish grabs the ropes to force a break and runs wild with clotheslines. Whip and Trish with a Flapjack, followed by the Chick Kick for a near-fall. Trish backs Jazz up with chops, but Jazz cuts off a whip to the corner. Trish flips through a suplex, then Jazz counters Stratusfaction. Jazz flings Trish across the ring, removing her shirt in the process. Trish doesn't take kindly to that and spears Jazz. Trish with mounted rights before hooking an STF of her own, but Jazz gets to the ropes. Trish refuses to release the hold and gets disqualified at 3:18. Referee Jimmy Korderas forces her off, but Trish gives Jazz a parting gift before leaving the ring. Damn fine action for barely getting 3-minutes. **¾

Stephanie McMahon chews out Chris Jericho (over the phone) for not finding the location she likes. Triple H sneaks up behind her with a big brown box. It's a large box, which is appropriate for her, and dumps her stuff out. Stephanie no-sells the rudeness and rubs the lotion from the box all over her body. I KNOW WHERE THIS IS GOING. I'VE SEEN ZANY TEEN COMEDIES FROM THE EARLY 80'S!

The Undertaker is WALKING. Jim Ross calls him "Booger Red." When we return from the commercial, Taker makes his way to the ring. What's his plan this week to convince Ric Flair to accept the challenge for WrestleMania? He beat up Flair's best friend, Arn Anderson, when all Flair had to do was say "yes." He says he's more than willing to prove Flair isn't the dirtiest player in the game. This morning, Taker pushed the envelope further and throws it to footage of him paying Flair's oldest son, David, a visit. David is working out for Tom Prichard when Taker attacks him from behind. Taker scares off the other trainees as well as Prichard and busts David open in a locker room assault. All Taker wants is a "yes."

Rob Van Dam vs. Lance Storm:

With such an angle heavy show, I'm hoping this gets at least 5-minutes to give us a more satisfying match with a decisive result (Trish/Jazz was fun as hell, but the finish leaves the door open for a Mania rematch). RVD gives Storm a receipt from earlier and sends Storm to the outside with a jumping heel kick. RVD follows with a plancha, leaves Storm hanging out to dry on the barricade, and flies off the apron with a heel kick. Back inside, RVD with a slingshot leg drop for two. Storm cuts RVD off with a jaw breaker and unloads with chops. Whip is reversed and Storm cuts the legs from under RVD to counter a rolling monkey-flip. Storm works the leg with elbows and knee strikes. RVD fights out of the corner but is slow to climb the ropes, allowing Storm to regain control and take him down with a super-plex for two. Storm continues working the leg, wrapping it around the post. Dragon screw leg whip into a single-leg crab, but RVD gets to the ropes. RVD whiffs the enzuigiri but hits the follow-up mule kick. RVD selling the leg while doing his usual offense is quite difficult to pull off believably. RVD with a sunset-flip powerbomb for a near-fall. Back body-drop to the apron and Storm pops back in with a diving clothesline for two. Storm wastes time arguing the count, allowing RVD to take him out with a jumping heel kick, and the Frog Splash finishes at 5:47. Doesn't seem like a lot of time, but definitely didn't feel rushed. I just didn't care for RVD's spotty selling when all of his offense involves his legs. **½

The nWo want to play rock, paper, scissors to determine who is competing tonight, but then some goober bothers them and is dunked head first into the clearly-not-steaming hot coffee. Hogan does the job first (insert your own snarky comment), and we're left with Hall winning the right to represent the nWo in the ring tonight. They determine the opponent with the tumbler used to draw numbers for the Royal Rumble. Hall seems concerned and asks for back-up, so I'm expecting a jobber like Crash.

Scott Hall (w/ "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan & Kevin Nash) vs. ???:

Hall's first in-ring action on WWF programming since In Your House: Good Friends, Better Enemies. The warm-up for Scott Hall turns out to be... Spike Dudley. Dammit. That or Funaki would've been my 2nd (and 3rd) pick. Hall is so concerned with this match he's not wearing his usual ring gear. Spike's "underdeveloped, undernourished, underdog" shirt might be the biggest mouthful for a T-shirt. Hall starts by pounding away with right hands. Spike counters a suplex with an inside cradle for two. Hall pops up and quickly takes Spike's head off with a clothesline. Whip and Hall counters a body press with his signature fallaway slam. Spike cuts Hall off with a headbutt to the body, but the Dudley Dog is countered and Spike is sent to the floor. Nash rolls snake eyes and Hogan sends Spike like a battering ram into the post while Hall distracts the referee. Back inside, Hall with the back suplex from the middle rope, and the Razor's Edge finishes at 2:33. Fine for what it was. Almost unbelievable someone told Hall, Nash, and Hogan they needed to do a 3-on-1 to beat Spike Dudley.

Mark Henry is introduced as the "newly crowned" World's Strongest Man via winning the Arnold Classic.

Stephanie McMahon's breaking out in disgusting D-level makeup effects.

Steel Cage Match: Triple H vs. Kurt Angle:

OK, am I going crazy, or did their Undisputed World Champion NOT make an appearance (yet) when we're less than 2-weeks away from WrestleMania and most people are struggling to find a reason to care about their match? Lockup into the ropes and we get a clean break. Angle with a shove and Hunter responds with a right hand. Hunter grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Whip and Hunter with a BAAAAACK body-drop, followed by a pair of short clotheslines. Angle escapes a waist-lock and picks the ankle, but Hunter is able to fight off the Ankle Lock attempt. Angle makes a sad scramble for the door, but Teddy Long won't open it. Did someone not get the memo on how cage matches work? Angle escapes the corner, dropping Hunter across the turnbuckle. He turns Hunter inside-out with a clothesline and makes the first slow climb attempting to escape. Have I mentioned I mostly hate the "escape the cage" rules version of this gimmick? ESPECIALLY in a throw-away match on free TV. Hunter blocks tasting the steel. Whip to the ropes, Angle ducks a clothesline and hits the German suplex train (three stops on this trip). Angle goes for the door (this time Long DOES open it), but Hunter blocks the escape. Whip, Hunter ducks a clothesline and connects with a neck breaker.

Hunter meets an elbow in the corner, then Angle meets a high knee charging out of it. Whip to the ropes and Helmsley with a spine-buster. Angle reverses another whip but gets caught with a knee to the face. Hunter makes a move to climb out, but Angle scrambles to keep him in the ring and plants him with the Angle Slam. J.R. reminds us there's no pin-falls or submissions in this match, so I half expected Angle to go for the cover. Triple H with the Pedigree, and the crowd always like that (give them about 6-months and see how badly that line ages). Stephanie McMahon and her Trolls 2 makeup comes out and sends Teddy Long into the cage. That's what he gets for not knowing how to properly handle the cage door, unlike Steph, who slams it in Hunter's face. Then she blows the joke because she can't lock it properly. She rejects Angle's pleas to go through the door, encouraging him to deliver more punishment to her estranged husband. Hunter gets sent to the steel and shows color (that's two babyface blade jobs, though Austin's was much more impressive, for those keeping score). Angle has a clear path to walk out the door, but insists on going for more punishment. Hunter surprises him with a double leg sweep and slingshot into the cage. Stephanie feeds a chair into the ring. Both men struggle for possession and we get a clothesline double-down. Hunter with a DDT onto the chair. He climbs the cage, but Stephanie cuts him off with a pair of chair shots. He gets his foot stuck in the ropes (see Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania X) and Stephanie helps pull Angle out to victory at 15:36. This was your standard house show "heel champion goes over in screwy finish" cage match. Definitely not the worst I've seen, but not something I'm going to think about in 15-minutes. ***

Final Thoughts: Decent show for the most part, with three matches getting enough excitement or interest out of me to warrant a rating (the main event was a given, of course) and they're trying to get me interested in WrestleMania. I'm betting Steve Austin has had a lot to do in the build for his match with Hall, because they are pushing that more than the Undisputed Title Match. To answer a question I was asking earlier, the WWF ran a tour of Asia this same weekend, with Chris Jericho headlining with title defenses against The Rock, so yeah, he wasn't making a live appearance on this show.

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