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WWF Royal Rumble 2002- Revisited
by Scrooge McSuck
Presented LIVE on Pay-Per-View on January 20th, 2002, from the Philips Arena in Atlanta, GA with an announced sellout crowd of 16,106 in attendance. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Kid Rock's "Cocky" was the official theme song, but it looks like all episodes of Raw and Smackdown scrubbed it from existence for the obvious reasons (no, not because Kid Rock sucks. The other reason). No dark matches for the live crowd or to warm up the viewers watching Sunday Night Heat.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Spike Dudley & Tazz (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz (w/ Stacy Keibler):
Spike and Tazz won the belts from the Dudley's at the Madison Square Garden Raw after several failed attempts. This past Thursday on Smackdown, the Dudley's did the unthinkable and assaulted Spike and Tazz in the parking lot, finishing by giving Spike the 3-D on concrete. Lawler can't wait 2-minutes before turning into a complete pervert. Spike comes out with a neck support, because THAT SHOULD BE ALLOWED. The Dudley's jump on the champs as soon as they enter, with Spike being dumped over the top like a bag of trash. They isolate Tazz, giving him a combo back suplex/neck breaker on the floor. Back inside, they give Spike the same treatment, still wearing the support. Bubba connects with a hangman's neck breaker, rips off the collar, and gives him another neck breaker. Lawler continues to perv as Bubba hits a snap suplex. D'Von with a snap mare, followed by a rolling snap mare. "We Want Tables" chant. Bubba dedicates the next suplex to Tazz, and sure enough, Spike counters and hits the Dudley Dog. Spike gets to his corner, but D'Von distracts the referee from seeing it and they plant Spike with a flapjack for good measure. Spike avoids the diving headbutt and the Dudley's hit each other with a double clothesline. Tazz gets the hot tag, running wild with clotheslines and overhead throws. Northern Lights Suplex to D'Von but Bubba saves. Spike with the blind tag, hitting Bubba with a flying cross body. Spike hits him with another Dudley Dog. Stacy hops on the apron and Tazz counters a slap with the Tazz-mission. Spike goes for another Dudley Dog, but D'Von dumps him out. D'von misses a charge to the corner, and the Tazz-mission puts him away at 5:06. Better than I remembered, with a good heat segment on Spike and a satisfying finish to hopefully put this feud to bed. **½
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Edge (c) vs. William Regal:
To sum this up quickly, Edge was responsible for shattering Regal's nose, and Regal's been on a revenge tour where he's using brass knuckles (power of the punch!) to steal victory after victory. Referee Nick Patrick searches Regal for the knuckles... AND FINDS A PAIR? Based on what we've seen on Raw and Smackdown, he probably has another pair stashed at ringside. Edge gets the jump on Regal while he pleads his case with Patrick. Edge with a pair of clotheslines, followed by a back body-drop. Regal turns things around as the crowd serenades him with a chant of "Regal Sucks." Edge counters a forearm uppercut with a back-slide for two. Regal gets caught by surprise with an enzuigiri but recovers quickly and plants Edge with a gut-wrench slam for a series of two-counts. Edge blocks a double under-hook and counters with an overhead slam. Regal holds on with the grip and hits a powerbomb for two. Regal with a running left hand, knocking Edge through the ropes. Edge blocks a suplex and drives Regal face-first onto the apron with a DDT. Back inside, Edge covers with his legs clearly under the ropes, and the referee starts counting anyway before correcting himself. Whip to the corner and they smack heads for a double-down. Edge wins the battle of the forearms and takes Regal over with a suplex for two. Regal with a release German suplex, but Edge pops up and hits a running clothesline. I remember people being annoyed by that spot when it happened. Regal runs through a series of counters until applying the Regal Stretch, but Edge manages to get the ropes. Edge with a leg trip and he applies Regal's own hold on him, but he too is too close to the ropes. Edge with a dropkick and roll-up for two. Edge fights Regal off the top rope and connects with a flying heel kick. Regal starts digging in his tights and pulls out another pair of knuckles. Edge sets up for the Spear, but Nick Patrick gets pulled into the line of fire. Regal with the Power of the Punch, and we have a new Intercontinental Champion at 9:46. Vince and company must've LOVED this brass knuckle gimmick. Not a bad match, but their styles didn't mesh well. **
WWF Women's Championship Match:
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Jazz:
Jacqueline, the woman Jazz defeated to earn this title shot, is our "special guest referee." That seems completely fair to the challenger. Jackie was being used as a referee from time to time, mostly on Sunday Night Heat. The entire build has been about Jazz not respecting Trish as a Champion because she's a pin-up model. Trish comes out with her hand bandaged, selling an attack from Jazz the previous "Thursday" on Smackdown. Jazz attacks before the bell and... well, this is already painful to watch, as Trish struggles removing her jacket and Jazz whiffs on a right hand. Whip to the ropes and Jazz with a back body-drop. Trish shrugs off a splash and they do a series of roll-ups. The execution was fine, but Jackie doesn't even attempt to count 2, exposing the spot for what it is. Jazz regains control, wrapping the left wrist around the rope. Jazz gives Jackie the business for doing her job, and that leads to a shoving contest. Jazz avoids being rolled up and sits down on Trish, but it takes Jackie a few seconds to start the count. SCREWJOB. Jazz keeps countering everything Trish tries. Trish flips through a back suplex and hits the Stratus-faction bulldog for a near-fall. Jazz with a boot and DDT for two. Whip to the corner, Trish beings up a boot and hits a bulldog for three at 3:45. Kept short, but it was all over the place, with the unnecessary nonsense of Jackie getting involved. *
Street Fight: Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon:
This is Flair's first match for the WWF in nearly 9-years, and his first since the final episode of Nitro. Flair returned the night after the Survivor Series, revealing he purchased the stock of Shane and Stephanie, making him "co-owner of the WWF." Flair and Vince have bickered since, including a segment on Raw where Vince did an unflattering impression of Flair that led to Flair juicing like it was the good old days. Flair's children, Reid and Megan (the future Mrs. Conrad Thompson) are sitting front row ringside. Lockup and Vince does the Hogan shove and posing gimmick. Vince slaps on a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. More flexing, followed by a strut to mock his opponent. Flair takes control, but wastes time playing to the crowd, allowing Vince to kick him low on the abdomen. Vince throws one chop, giving a sorry "woo". Flair shows him how it's done, so Vince rakes the eyes and lays him out with a clothesline. Flair busts out his face-first flop for old time's sake. Whip to the corner and Flair has a hard time flipping over the ropes. He rolls to the apron and gets sent to the floor with a clothesline. Vince follows, whacking him across the head with a barricade sign. Vince with a trash can to the head, and Flair is bleeding. SURPRISED? Vince tries to embarrass Flair, bringing him around the ring for his children to get a better look. Does Vince not know how a camera works? HE'S TAKING SELFIES IN 2002 AND HE DOESN'T KNOW IT.
Back in the ring, Vince works the leg. This is the closest thing you'll see to Vince working a normal wrestling match. Vince slaps on the Figure-Four as we're nearing the 10-minute mark and Vince has taken almost the entire match. Flair rolls to his stomach, reversing the pressure and sending Vince to the floor to walk it off. He whips out a lead pipe, secretly stashed even though it's as legal as a headlock. Flair with a low blow to avoid the attempted assault with a deadly weapon. Flair lights up Vince's chest with a series of chops. Vince gets whacked with the television monitor and blades while tucked under the Spanish announcer's table. Flair gives Vince his photo op, while gnawing on his open wound. YUMMY. Back inside, Vince begs Flair off, but Flair is having none of that. Flair with the blatant low blow and a strut. He whacks Vince over the head with the lead pipe, and the Figure-Four finishes at 14:54. Of all the Vince McMahon No DQ/Street Fights, this was one of the least gimmicked. I think Flair sold a little too much, but they gave us a satisfying finish and it didn't drag too much. **¾
WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. The Rock:
The Rock defeated Booker T to earn this title shot, and Jericho has quickly slipped into an unhinged paranoia about not being respected enough as the man who beat the Rock and Steve Austin in the same night to become the first undisputed Champion. Jericho gives Rock an earful before the bell, then mocks Rocky by gesturing for him to bring it. Bring it Rock does, unloading with right hands and a Samoan drop for a two-count. Whip and Jericho powders out. Rock gives chase, hitting Jericho in the ring with a spear and throwing a series of right hands. Jericho counters a back body-drop and bounces off the ropes with a diving forearm. Whip into the corner and Jericho follows in with a clothesline. Jericho misses another charge, smacking his shoulder on the post, but quickly recovers, dropping Rock across the top rope with a Hot Shot. Rock teases a turnaround but is cut off with a spinning heel kick. Jericho with a snap suplex and the arrogant cover for two. Jericho removes one of the turnbuckle pads, buying time for Rock to recover. Jericho can't get the Walls of Jericho applied but maintains control. Missile dropkick connects for a two-count. Rock fights out of a sleeper, surviving the "drop the arm three times" routine. He breaks free, pounding at the midsection, only to get laid out by an elbow. Jericho climbs again, but this time Rock straddles him across the turnbuckle and takes him down with a super-plex. Both men return to their feet, with Rock in clear control. Whip is reversed and Rock with an overhead throw for a two-count. Jericho reverses a whip to the corner, takes Rock down with a bulldog and comes off the ropes with a Lionsault. Jericho hits a second Lionsault and covers for a near-fall.
Jericho teases another missile dropkick, but Rock sidesteps and turns Jericho over with the world's worst Sharpshooter. Suddenly, Lance Storm and Christian run to the ring, distracting Earl Hebner from seeing Jericho tap out. Christian tries to brain Rocky with a belt, but Rock fights him off. Jericho takes advantage of the distraction, hitting Rock with a Rock Bottom for two. Meanwhile, sometimes heel sometimes not heel referee Nick Patrick escorts Jericho's Canadian compadres from ringside. Jericho gets too cocky, setting up for the People's Elbow. Rock nips up and tosses Jericho over the top rope. Rock starts to undress the table. In a cute spot, Lawler tries to persuade with Rock to target the Spanish table. Jericho cuts Rock off, dropping him face-first across the table. Now Jericho undresses the Spanish table (two matches in a row with this gimmick?). Rock fights out of a Rock Bottom and sends Jericho through the table with a Rock Bottom of his own. Back in the ring, Rock covers for a near-fall. Jericho blocks another Rock Bottom, sweeps the legs, and turns Rock over with the Walls of Jericho. Rock gets to the ropes for the break and surprises Jericho with an inside cradle for two. Whip and Rock wipes out Hebner with a diving clothesline. Jericho brains Rock with one of the title belts, and signals for another referee. Here comes Nick Patrick to make the count, but Rock is up at two. I'm so glad they abandoned this nonsense with Patrick shortly after this. Rock pops up and hits a DDT, but Patrick doesn't count, so Rock gives him a Rock Bottom. Spine-buster to Jericho and Rock hits the People's Elbow, but Hebner is still out. Jericho goes low, sends Rock into the exposed turnbuckle, and stacks him up with feet on the ropes to retain at 18:51. I still hate the finish, but this was a real highlight after a lot of mediocre action. For some reason I thought I rated this lower in my original recap, but nope, it lines up perfectly on the repeat viewing. ****
30-Man Royal Rumble Match:
2-minute intervals this year, though the clock ends up being all over the place at times. I swear they advertised 60-second intervals at some point, but thankfully they opt not to follow through with that the few times they've considered it (at least 2004 also had 60-second intervals promised, only to be changed at the last minute). The pre-match hype package has some generic a$$ music, so they scrubbed the existence of "Cocky" from the WWE Network completely. #1 is RIKISHI
and #2 is GOLDUST
. If you're bringing in Dustin Rhodes under the Goldust gimmick for an alleged one-shot, you make sure he gets his entrance in. Even with a bodysuit, you can see Dustin is in the best shape he's been in years. Ross notes this is Goldust's 3rd Royal Rumble appearance (4th, previous competed in the 97, 98, and 99 Rumbles). Rikishi pounds away and quickly attempts an elimination, but Goldust fights free. Goldust teases several more eliminations, hanging on each time. #3 is THE BOSS MAN
. Rikishi handles both Goldust and the Boss Man with ease. Boss Man avoids being tossed out and turns Rikishi inside-out with a lariat. The struggle to toss Rikishi is too much, so Goldust sucker-punches Boss Man. #4 is BRADSHAW
. I'd complain about the lack of using star power at the start, but then I remembered the 2000 and 2001 Rumbles started with mid-tier (or lower) guys too. Bradshaw lays it in on everyone. He bulldozes Goldust with a shoulder block. Rikishi gives Boss Man a Stink-Face and knocks him out with a Super-Kick and clothesline combo at 5:25. #5 is LANCE STORM
. J.R. calls him Mr. Personality (because he's BORING, get it?). He goes for Goldust, and they undershoot on a Hot Shot. It's too early and empty for guys to do extensive hugging in the ropes. #6 is AL SNOW
. At this point, he's just "The guy from Tough Enough", and we're still lacking a legitimate contender. Bradshaw kills Storm with a Clothesline from Hell. Being dead weight favors Storm, preventing him from being thrown out. #7 is BILLY
. With J.R.'s math, this makes it his 5th Rumble appearance. He goes after Bradshaw and immediately pays for it. Storm and Snow battle on the apron until Snow knocks Storm to the floor with a Super-Kick at 11:10. Billy tosses Bradshaw at 11:32. #8 is THE UNDERTAKER
. Business is about to pick up. Billy gets planted with a Chokeslam. Goldust takes the Chokeslam over the top rope for the elimination at 13:03. Snow gets dumped at 13:26. Rikishi is sent packing at 13:40, and Billy follows at 13:46, leaving Undertaker alone in the ring. #9 is MATT HARDY
. He's returning to action after a month on the shelf at the hands of Undertaker. He takes it to Undertaker as we've white-washed the break-up of Team Extreme. Lita jumps in to help, kicking Taker low, and allowing Matt to hit a swinging neck breaker. The crowd SIDES WITH TAKER, because even in a justified world, a babyface 2-on-1 with a low blow used is frowned upon. #10 is JEFF HARDY
. OH, COME ON. The Brothers Hardy hug it out and the crowd has a mixed reaction for the ridiculous cheating, with three people putting the boots to Taker. Intervals at this point are nearing THREE MINUTES. Matt with a Twist of Fate, followed by a Swanton Bomb from Jeff. Taker hangs on in the corner, catching Jeff and dumping him out at 18:22. Last Ride to Matt and he's thrown out at 18:53.
#11 is MAVEN. I can't say I remember exactly when Maven made his in-ring debut, but he's clearly "Rookie from Tough Enough" at this point. Licensed music is erased for Maven's entrance. Lita is still hanging around, distracting Taker. Matt and JEFF hop in the ring because being sore losers is a great babyface trait, but Taker valiantly fights them off AGAIN. With all that said, Maven takes advantage of the distraction and dropkicks Taker out at 20:19, and Taker's face tells the entire story. He stalks Maven like prey and lays an a$$-whooping on the poor bastard, including a vicious, unprotected chair shot to the head. I'm pretty sure Taker helped Maven blade, too. #12 is SCOTTY 2 HOTTY. Taker lays him out in the aisle and continues working over Maven. Scotty might be the worst career Rumble participant with multiple appearances. Taker takes Maven to the concessions area and smashes his head through a popcorn machine (Taker grabs a handful for the road in a LOL moment). Welcome to the big leagues, Maven. #13 is CHRISTIAN. I've already forgotten he's the reigning European Champion, AND I'VE COVERED ALL THE SHOWS LEADING UP TO THIS. Christian counters a bulldog with a reverse DDT and unloads with right hands. #14 is DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE. Meanwhile, TONY GAREA is checking on Maven. TONY GAREA IN 2002?! DDP unloads on Christian with rights and takes him down with a discus clothesline. Amazing how WWE took DDP and in less than a year turned him into a Scotty 2 Hotty level geek. DDP hits the Diamond Cutter, and Scotty gets to bust out the worm before DDP tosses him at 28:31. #15 is CHUCK. Ross and Lawler are still trying to get over "Chucky". Wow, DDP vs Chuck is the first action amongst men signed from WCW in this match (Storm is the only other to appear so far). Crowd is dead. I don't think Atlanta knows DDP is a babyface. Or maybe they don't care. #16 is THE GODFATHER. His entrance eats up a solid couple of minutes, as he brings out a bunch of escorts. Ross and Lawler let us know he's "gone legit." Meanwhile, DDP is eliminated off camera at around 32:30. Godfather FINALLY gets to the ring as the countdown begins. #17 is ALBERT. I guess I misremembered Godfather entering and being eliminated immediately. There's been a lot of Royal Rumbles through the years. Albert busts out a pump kick. He tries to toss Godfather, but Chuck(y) sneaks up and tosses Albert at 34:05. Godfather misses the Ho Train and gets knocked out at 34:43. #18 is PERRY SATURN. No one cares. Lawler resorts to making jokes about his trunks. The crowd goes wild, but not for the action, based on everyone looking off to the side where the stage is. Saturn busts out a brain buster on Chuck. This match desperately needs a major star to heat things up. #19 is STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN. Thank you. He unloads on all three geeks. Christian is gone at 37:46. Stunner to Saturn. Chuck is dumped at 38:02. Saturn is dumped at 38:07. Austin checks his watch and figures there's time to kill, so he throws Christian back in, hits a Stunner, and throws him out again. Chuck eats a Stunner and takes another trip over the top rope as well. #20 is VAL VENIS. Mr. Dunn finds one woman enjoying the tired Val routine. Austin gets the jump on Venis and stomps a mud hole in the corner. Val goes to the eyes, and he's already lasted longer than I expected when he came out. Whip and Val with an elbow, followed by a knee across the chest. Whip is reversed and Austin with the Thesz Press.
#21 is Test. HE HAS IMMUNITY FROM WINNING THE BATTLE ROYAL AT SURVIVOR SERIES. Thanks J.R., I had no idea. He jumps on Austin, throwing a series of forearms across the back. Austin survives the 2-on-1 and backs both men up with right hands. Test charges with a boot, hitting Val by mistake. Austin dumps Val at 43:11, then hits a Stunner on Test and throws him out at 43:23. #22 is TRIPLE H. He doesn't get in the ring until two minutes after the buzzer went off. They trade words before trading right hands. #23 is THE HURRICANE. By the time he gets in the ring, Austin and Hunter meet in the middle for a clothesline double-down. Hurricane with the double goozle, and you know the rest. They easily shrug him off and send him flying over the top at 48:09. Austin gives Hunter a spine-buster and goes down as well to sell it. #24 is FAAROOQ. He gives Austin a spine-buster, but Hunter saves him from being eliminated. Austin with a Stunner, and Hunter clotheslines Faarooq out at 49:40. If Scotty isn't the worst Rumble participant, then Faarooq has a strong case himself. Dude had one decent year (1998) and the rest were sh*t. Austin and Hunter go back to beating each other up. #25 is MR. PERFECT. He's looking like he's in great shape for another run (and perfect timing to bring in, as he was a centerpiece for Jimmy Hart shopping the XWF for a television slot). He milks his entrance, of course. Perfect takes it to both men but is quickly caught in the ropes. He manages to spit and swat his gum away WHILE BEING DOUBLE-TEAMED ON THE ROPES. #26 is KURT ANGLE. He pounds away on Hunter while the crowd chants "You Suck/What?" to annoy everyone watching. Austin makes the save for whatever reason. Whip and Angle with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. #27 is THE BIG SHOW. He plants Perfect with a Chokeslam. Hunter and Austin escape the double goozle for a second time tonight. Whip to the ropes and Show plows through both with clotheslines. Angle foolishly attempts a belly-to-back suplex. #28 is KANE. Yay, it's our mandatory battle of Kane and Big Show that the WWE would run back all the way through 2015. They double goozle. Even as a Kane fan for the longest time, this spot never did anything for me. Kane goes low, scoops up Big Show, and throws him out at 58:23! Austin with a Stunner to Kane, and Angle gives him the Angle Slam over the top rope at 58:37. Angle celebrates and gets laid out by a clothesline from Triple H. #29 is ROB VAN DAM. Anyone paying attention shouldn't be surprised by #30. He enters the match by hitting Angle with a 5-Star Frog Splash. RVD blocks a Stunner and hits Austin with a spinning heel kick. Perfect eats a heel kick and RVD gives Austin the Rolling Thunder. Hunter has enough of this and pedigrees RVD, leaving him dead in the middle of the ring. #30 is BOOKER T. He scoops up RVD's life-less body and dumps him at 61:43. Booker celebrates with a Spin-a-Rooni. Austin rewards him with a Stunner, knocking him out at 62:07. Austin avoids a Pedigree and sends Hunter into the corner. Angle catches the rebound, hitting Hunter with the Angle Slam. Wait... MR PERFECT IS IN THE FINAL FOUR?! Angle gives Austin the German Suplex train until Austin cuts him off with a low blow. Austin gets Perfect in trouble, but Angle sneaks up and dumps Austin at 64:19. Austin, being the sore loser he is, brains all three men with a chair. Angle accidentally clotheslines Perfect, but he hangs on. Perfect-Plex to Angle for the hell of it, followed by the rolling snap mare. Hunter takes advantage of the situation and clotheslines Perfect out at 67:09. Angle cuts Hunter off with a belly-to-belly but can't knock him from the apron. Hunter teases another elimination but hangs on to the ropes. Hunter staggers Angle with a knee to the face, then clotheslines him over and out for the victory at 69:25. Always hard to rate a middle ground Rumble Match. The most interesting portions were Undertaker running wild and the interaction between Austin and Triple H. Angle got some shine, and Mr. Perfect was a surprising name to see at the end, but other than that, the match started with a lot of mid-tier talent aimlessly fighting, then we had another long stretch of it before Austin and Hunter's arrival. Not nearly as bad as some Rumbles, but far from one of the better ones. ***
Final Thoughts: With only one match I'd consider poor quality, it's hard to not recommend a show, but there's so little to be excited about going forward with the current presentation. No, there's no issues with Triple H winning the Rumble. It's the fact Jericho hasn't been presented as a strong champion, on top of the fact that we've seen Triple H vs Jericho so much throughout 2000 and 2001. Sure, the face and heel dynamics are flipped, but it's not like their characters or ring style has changed dramatically. It will also be interesting to see how Rock and Austin are positioned underneath Hunter for the WrestleMania push. As a show in the vacuum, I'd give it a mild recommendation.
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