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WWF RAW- March 18, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

nWo. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash

Presented LIVE on the USA Network from the Molson Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. It's the night after WrestleMania, but this is that period where it wasn't as big of a deal as it would become years later, but I wouldn't be surprised by at least one huge announcement or debut. Dark matches include Randy Orton defeating Justin Credible, and the makeshift team of Billy Kidman and Tommy Dreamer going over Bobby Roode and Brody Steele. Matches taped for Jakked/Metal includes the APA defeating The Boss Man and Mr. Perfect, Test pinning Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri, Val Venis pinning Lance Storm, and Albert and Scotty 2 Hotty defeating Crash and Funaki.

"Hollywood" Hulk Hogan makes his way out, still decked out in the black and white with the nWo filter for the home audience. The crowd gives him a hero's welcome, with a several-minutes-long standing ovation. At WrestleMania, Hogan expected to have the greatest match in the world with the Rock, but the one thing he didn't expect was that 70,000 people would stand and stick with him every step of the way. When he came back to the WWF, he wanted to take the Rock out, and run wild all over him like anyone else that would get in his way. He ran Rock over with a semi, pinned him 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring, and stole the energy from the fans at WrestleMania, but he came back each time and pinned him at WrestleMania (crowd boos lightly). It may not be today, but there'll be a time when the Rock and Hogan will meet again. The Rock finally comes out after 5-minutes of recapping the last month of TV. The Rock milks things a bit as the crowd can't decide whether to boo or cheer him (sing-a-long time turns the tide briefly).

"Finally the Rock has come back to Montreal, and FINALLY Hulk Hogan has come back to the Hulkamaniacs!" Rock puts Hogan and the fans over and says that it will be his honor to accept the challenge for a rematch, but before that happens, there's something Hogan needs to do; it's time for Hogan to get rid of the nWo colors. Hogan tears off his shirt, bringing out Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Nash isn't impressed with Hogan's "act of defiance", and says he turned on them before they turned on him. They were supposed to be a lethal injection into the WWF and start by taking out Austin, but the Rock had to get in the way and take Hogan's focus away from their plan. 3-on-1, they could've taken out Austin, and Hogan could've had his match, but he let his ego get in the way and needed all the spotlight on him at WrestleMania. Rock cuts him with a crybaby impression and calls him "Big Daddy B*tch." If they want to inject something, how about injecting that poison into the Rock and Hogan tonight. Rock isn't done with the impressions, now mocking Scott Hall and pretending to honk the horn of his big rig. Nash asks if Hogan is ready to choke on another one like he did at WrestleMania. Rock with a what'cha gonna do to finally wrap up this segment, 25-minutes into the broadcast.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Rob Van Dam (c) vs. Christian:

We get a quick shill for the WWF Forceable Entry CD, available on March 26th. Christian, coming off a loss at WrestleMania challenging for the European Title, is now challenging for the Intercontinental Title? I guess you can argue his 26-minutes as Hardcore Champion makes up for something, but I don't know how much. Even Jim Ross has trouble keeping track of Christian's previous 24-hours. Christian unloads with rights, but meets an elbow in the corner and RVD plants a kick to the side of the head. Christian responds with a boot of his own and leaves RVD hanging out to dry. RVD gets sent from the apron to the floor with a running shoulder tackle (the No Mercy Special). Back inside, RVD catches Christian by surprise with a spinning heel kick. Whip to the corner and RVD with a monkey-flip. He fights out of a reverse DDT and hits Christian with Rolling Thunder for a two-count. Christian gets the reverse DDT on the second try and powders out to steal the Intercontinental Title. He tries walking out with the belt, but DDP comes from behind and feeds him into the ring, where RVD greets him with a spinning heel kick. Five-Star Frog Splash connects and RVD retains at 2:46. Way too rushed to fairly judge. Does this mean we haven't seen the last of DDP vs. Christian?

Chris Jericho arrives, no longer the Undisputed Champion, and he looks like a man who doesn't want to be here. Some goober annoys him losing the title and gets slapped around for his troubles. He deserved it, honestly.

BREAKING NEWS: Linda McMahon has a major announcement regarding the future of the WWF!

Trish Stratus vs. Lita:

I've covered 3-months of 2002 and I'm still thrown off that Trish doesn't have her L'il Kim theme music. Lita's music is also on the upcoming CD, and they still haven't figured out a good starting point for the song for when she makes her way to the ring. Trish isn't waiting for the bell, jerking Lita off the ropes and giving her a shove. Lita with a tackle and they trade blows. Trish grabs a headlock but Lita counters with a back suplex. Lita ducks a clothesline and throws some rights. They botch a spinning head-scissors as the crowd can't stop doing catcall whistles at them. Trish with a hard boot to the back of the head. Lita counters Stratusfaction in a spot that looked pretty bad, and finishes with the Moonsault at 1:33. Jazz immediately hits the ring and attacks Lita, but Trish saves because everyone hates Jazz. Here's IVORY out of nowhere to dump out Lita and plant Trish with a face-buster, and it looks like we've got a new alliance. This match was only 93-seconds and it was a terrible 93-seconds, with everything looking sloppy and poorly executed. I know I didn't rate the last match for being too short, but this was no good. -**

Linda McMahon is standing by "live" at WWF Headquarters with a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: The animosity between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon will be counterproductive, and offers a "brand extension" where Ric Flair would have 100% control over Raw, while Vince McMahon would have 100% control of Smackdown. Next week, there will be a Draft of WWF Superstars, exclusive to each brand, with only the WWF Champion and Women's Champion available to both brands. Yes, the BRAND EXTENSION was originally based around the feud between Vince and Ric Flair.

Mr. McMahon comes out and my goodness, we've had FOUR MINUTES of wrestling as we approach the halfway mark of the show, and we know this isn't going to be a short segment. McMahon doesn't understand the logic behind the creator of Monday Night Raw no longer being allowed on Monday Night Raw. I love when the guy in charge of all content decisions buries those decisions in character for the home audience. He bids farewell to the French-Canadian crowd and says he won't miss any of them. They can enjoy the consolation prize, Ric Flair. He's OK, but he's no Vince McMahon, because he lacks the killer instinct and marketing savvy as an owner. The crowd serenades Vince with the "Goodbye" song. Here comes Ric Flair, confirming my beliefs that this wasn't going to be short. Vince rubs it in Flair's face that he got his a$$ kicked at WrestleMania at the hands of the Undertaker. Vince says he doesn't hold grudges (laughs), but he enjoyed every second of it. Jim Ross calls him sick and perverse. I love shoot comments that aren't supposed to be shoot comments. We get a loud "You Screwed Bret" chant (Lawler: Get over it!) as Flair rambles about Vince being a jerk. Raw will continue to be a success without him on it week after week and the crowd starts singing again. Vince promises to have a better roster of Superstars on Smackdown and offers to flip a coin for the first pick. Flair flips the coin and Vince gets the first pick. Wow, I'm surprised they didn't milk that for 5-minutes, too. Vince sucker punches Flair and comically struts, but Flair is back on his feet and retaliates, capping it off by putting Vince in the Figure-Four. If this segment was supposed to get me excited for the roster split, then it failed miserably.

Edge & Kane vs. Booker T & Kurt Angle:

Woah, we're getting another match? Hopefully they get more than 3-minutes. As soon as Booker and Angle made their entrances, I instinctively put their opponents without any prior knowledge of them being part of the match. Kane forces Booker into the ring to kick things off. Whip to the corner, Booker brings up a boot but gets caught with a side slam. Kane climbs the ropes and connects with the flying clothesline for a two-count. Angle with a distraction, allowing Booker to hit Kane with a Super-Kick. Double suplex from Angle and Booker. Kane avoids a scissors kick and hits another clothesline. Edge with the tag, running wild on Angle with clotheslines. Whip to the ropes and Edge with a baaaack body-drop, followed by a spinning heel kick. Edge sends Angle crashing to the canvas and comes off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Kane dumps Booker, leaving Edge and Angle in the ring. Angle with the Ankle Lock, but Kane interrupts and plants Angle with a Chokeslam. Booker sends Kane to the floor, again leaving Edge and Angle. Edge slips out of the Angle Slam and Booker accidentally hits Angle with a jumping heel kick. Edge with a Spear, but Angle kicks out at two. Edge with a victory roll for another two-count. Kane whacks Angle from the outside and Edge hits the Edgecution (DDT) for three at 3:51. Quite a sprint. Fun for the hectic pace they kept.

WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
Maven (c) vs. Al Snow:

I'm always sad that Maven's entrance music is dubbed over on the Network/Peacock. Funny that Snow, someone who didn't get his hands on the title the night before at WrestleMania, gets a title match here. Snow attacks outside the ring, pounding Maven across the back and sending him into the ring steps. Maven turns things around and hits a dropkick. Maven clocks Snow with a trash can lid and the crowd doesn't care too much. Snow cuts him off and returns fire with gusto. Here's Spike Dudley to interrupt the action. Suddenly, BROCK LESNAR (JR: "The hottest free agent!") shows up with Paul Heyman by his side, planting Snow with a brutal spine-buster on a trash can. Maven eats the move that would eventually be called the F-5. Spike tries his luck, snapping a broom handle over Brock, but it has zero effect and Brock sends him back to Dudleyville with an awesome triple Powerbomb sequence. Call it a No Contest at 2:00. Match was nothing more than a vehicle to introduce the audience to Lesnar, and it succeeded. Though this was his first appearance, the WWF wasn't too shy from mentioning him in their Raw Magazine publication at the time, and was routinely used for dark matches for the better part of the last year.

Matt Hardy and Lita are making out backstage. William Regal interrupts. Matt tells him not to get too hot because he's not getting any, sparking Lita to say "oh, TAG!" in one of those iconic moments that the IWC fell in love with for being so nonsensical. Regal gets the last laugh, planting the seeds that they would end up on different shows. No way they would separate real-life couples out of spite.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Billy & Chuck (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz (w/ Stacy Keibler):

We've got our FOURTH plug for Forceable Entry, available on March 26th. Slugfest to start, with D'Von and Chuck starting things off officially. Whip to the ropes and we get a double clothesline spot right out of the gate. Bubba tags in and runs wild on both Billy and Chuck. A small section of the crowd serenades Stacy as the Dudleys hit the WASSUP bomb. Stacy hops on the apron for a distraction, but it doesn't work on Billy, so Stacy blatantly whacks him with a title belt for not being into her booty shaking. 3D to BIlly and… that's a DQ against the Dudley Boyz at 1:23. I was about to say, the referee clearly saw that one. Bubba isn't happy with her, and it looks like this is the end of this partnership. Bubba calls for a table and puts Stacy through it with the sitout Powerbomb.

Triple H, the newly crowned Undisputed Champion, finally makes his first appearance of the night with about half-an-hour left in the show. After weeks of burying Chris Jericho for his conduct and shenanigans, Jim Ross puts him over as a great Champion. No, Jericho isn't set for an immediate babyface turn. Hunter says self-doubt can be your worst enemy, and during his rehab, he doubted if he would ever come back, or if he did, would he ever be as good as he was. All the doubts went away because he proved to everyone that he is the game, and he is that damn good. He proudly shows footage of giving Stephanie the Pedigree. This brings out Stephanie herself, wearing a neck brace to sell the assault. She says Chris Jericho wants his rematch next week on Raw. Triple H suggests making it a handicap match for the Undisputed Title, then reveals Jericho's partner would be Stephanie herself. Oh, and if Stephanie loses, she leaves the WWF. Just like when she left after Survivor Series. I remember some people thinking there was a legitimate chance Stephanie would win the title.

The Rock & "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan vs. Scott Hall & Kevin Nash:

Time for the Main Event, and we've got less than 10-minutes to play with. Considering the limitations of most of these guys, maybe that's a good thing. OH MY GOD, THE DUB USED TO REPLACE VOODOO CHILD IS ONE OF THE WORST PIECES OF MUSIC IMAGINABLE. Oh, yeah, Hogan started using Jimi Hendrix's Voodoo Child for the rest of his 2002 run (sans the July 4th episode of Smackdown). Slugfest to start from all four men. Rock sends Nash out of the ring as Hogan runs wild on Hall, planting him with a slam and raking the eyes with the bottom of his boot. Hogan with the mounted corner punches and a bite of the forehead. Rock tags in and plants Hall with a spine-buster. He sets up for the People's Elbow, but Nash trips him up. Hall with a big clothesline and Nash with a big side slam for a two-count. Nash punishes Rock in the corner with knees to the midsection, followed by a series of elbows. Rock teases a comeback but Hall cuts him off with a fallaway slam. Rock avoids Snake Eyes and connects with the Rock Bottom. Hogan with the hot tag, and he runs wild (again) on Hall, instantly going into Hulk Up mode. Whip to the ropes and the big boot connects, followed by a leg drop, but Nash pulls Hall out of the ring and they take the Count-Out at 6:06. The crowd boos that terrible finish and justifiably so. About what you would expect from Hall and Nash getting heat on Rock for 4-minutes and a terrible finish. *

Final Thoughts: The night after WrestleMania wasn't quite "Night After WrestleMania", but you can see a little bit of that feel with this episode of Raw. We got the major announcement that the roster will split in two, with dedicated rosters for Monday Night Raw (ran by Ric Flair) and Smackdown (by Vince McMahon), and the draft taking place next week on Raw. We get the surprise debut of top prospect Brock Lesnar, as well as the return of Paul Heyman (last seen the night after Survivor Series as part of the exodus of Alliance members). Hulk Hogan is officially back in the babyface camp, though he's still sporting black and white (and we'll suffer listening to the worst dub over music for the rest of 2002). The rest of the show isn't much to speak of.

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