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WWF Smackdown - January 3, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

The Rock

I never thought there would be a day where I re-visit 2002 for the sake of nostalgia. It was in 2002 when I first started doing terrible recaps and thought stuff from the early 90's was "old" content. We're in 2022, which means 2002 is more than twice as far away as the stuff I was recapping 20 years ago! 2002 is also the period where I started following along with the online community, so there's when everything went wrong for me.

Presented LIVE from the MCI Center in Washington D.C., with 13,978 fans in attendance, with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. HOLY CRAP, REMEMBER WHEN SMACKDOWN DREW THOSE LIVE NUMBERS?! I honestly don't remember "The Beautiful People" as the entrance music at this point, but I guess that's 20 years between viewing talking. Tonight, we've got The Rock taking on Booker T for a World Title OPPORTUNITY at the Royal Rumble. Matches taped for Sunday Night Heat included Billy Gunn defeating Albert, Chuck Palumbo defeating Scotty 2 Hotty, and Christian (the reigning European Champion) pinning Crash in what I can only hope was a Non-Title Match.

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

Stacy with the Dudley's feels like one of those "we have to use this person somewhere, so stick them with this act." Last week on Smackdown, Spike pinned D'Von in a Non-Title Match. These days, we call that "winning an eliminator match" or "standard WWE booking." The referee rings the bell before Tazz makes his entrance. This allows Bubba and D'Von to work Spike over a bit. Tazz throws right hands on both men to take control. D'Von meets a boot in the corner and Spike takes him down with a bulldog for two. Bubba with a blind tag, launching Spike in the air for a Hot Shot. BREAKING NEWS: Later tonight, The Undertaker defends the Hardcore Title against the Big Show! Back inside, D'Von plants Spike with a slam and comes off the ropes with a leg drop for two. Bubba with a slam and elbow drop combo for two. Whip to the ropes and Spike gets planted with a flapjack. D'Von meets the boot in the corner again, allowing Spike to make the slow crawl to his corner. Tazz with the hot tag, laying into Bubba with clotheslines before throwing him with a T-Bone Suplex. Spike with the blind tag, surprising D'Von with a missile dropkick. Stacy hops on the apron to do her usual routine while Lawler screams "BLUE PANTIES!" Spike pulls Stacy's skirt off, because sexual assault is entertainment in WWE. Bubba survives the Tazzmission thanks to a save from D'Von and finishes Spike with the sit-out Powerbomb to retain at 4:08. Standard action with a hint of poor taste booking ("but it was the style at the time!").

Lillian Garcia is backstage with Jazz, who made her debut at Survivor Series, but is making her second in-ring debut tonight after disappearing along with the rest of the under-card Alliance members. Tonight, she'll face "Mighty Molly." Jazz says she won't sleep her way to the top (I'm not touching that one), she'll FIGHT her way to the top. All of this said in the most robotic tone possible.

The Slam of the Week is presented by Final Fantasy X for the PS2, and it's Ric Flair sucker-punching Vince McMahon ahead of announcing their match for the Royal Rumble. THAT WASN'T A SLAM!

Mr. McMahon struts to the ring for our weekly dose of Vince trying to recapture that magic of 1998-99 to diminishing returns every time. The crowd tries to drown him out with "What" chants. Vince says his resolution for 2002 is to embarrass Ric Flair at the Royal Rumble. Vince playing into the chants makes me want to fast forward through this. We throw it to the video wall where Rudy Giuliani is named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. By 2022, whatever popularity he had is long gone, too. Vince says he was considered and gives us an alternate cover with himself featured instead. Vince promises to shut the show down if they chant "What" again and orders the production crew to cut the lights over select sections. Vince somehow turned a promo on Flair into a promo on the "What" chant. Flashbulbs go off with the lights turned off, something replaced in 2022 by cellphone flashlights. Suddenly, Steve Austin's music plays and he's in the ring, standing behind McMahon. Yes, McMahon vs. Austin is a thing again because of Vince endorsing Jericho at Vengeance. Austin screams "What" a bunch of times and plays into the chant. He asks if the fans think Vince is "Jacka$$ of the Year." Austin made some resolutions too. He's going to drink more beer, drink more whiskey, drink more tequila, more vodka, more red wine, and knock Vince flat on his a$$. This brings out Booker T and the Boss Man (yes, that was a thing for a few weeks). They jump on Austin to protect the boss. Austin teases making his own comeback. Boss Man smacks Austin across the face with the "metal microphone". Whatever you say, Cole. BOSS MAN IS TRYING TO GET HEAT ON AUSTIN IN 2002. Austin blades to try and juice the reaction. If you're wondering how important this feud was, Austin vs. Booker never happened at a PPV, and Boss Man was relegated to Heat and Jakked/Metal for most of his time left in the company.

Mighty Molly vs. Jazz:

I have zero memory how Molly was reintroduced, as she was a member of the Alliance that was quietly re-introduced to television. Last week on Smackdown, Trish retained the Women's Title against Molly, then Jazz returned and laid both women out. Jazz runs into the ring and lays Molly out with a clothesline. Whip to the ropes, Molly flips through a back breaker and takes Jazz down with a spinning head-scissors. Jazz cuts Molly off with a knee lift and drops her across the top rope. BREAKING NEWS: Steve Austin has been taken to a local medical facility! Jazz with a leaping leg drop for two. Molly fights out of a chin-lock but is caught with a butterfly suplex. Jazz holds onto the grip and executes it two more times for a near-fall. Molly rolls away from a jumping frog splash and cradles Jazz for two. Molly avoids a charge to the corner and connects with a dropkick. Jazz slips out of a slam, pops Molly with a boot to the midsection, and finishes with a fisherman suplex brain buster at 2:36. Cole says Jazz is putting the WWF Women's Division ON NOTICE.

Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley is backstage. She's hassled because she's not on the list of expected guests. The security geek gets chewed out and threatened to be terminated as soon as she's back in a position of power.

Christian, Test, and Lance Storm are hanging out in the dressing room. Test wants to talk about his sexual escapades, but Lance Storm isn't interested. Chris Jericho comes in to announce how much their friendships mean to him. The holidays may be over, but he has some tokens of Jericho appreciation. Jericho calls himself the Living Legend. Remember when Larry Zbyszko got booty bothered by that? Jericho congratulates Storm on defeating the Rock to earn his spot back on the roster, then reminds everyone he's beaten the Rock three times.

Jonathon Coachman is backstage with the Undertaker. He runs down the list of Undertaker victims, but now that he's faced with an opponent that isn't considerably smaller than him, Coach suggests Undertaker might be afraid of the Big Show. Taker says he's been busting people up for 11 years, so who is the Big Show to call him out? Undertaker tells Coach he's going to go face-to-face with the Big Show and teach him the word respect.

Test passes Torrie Wilson in the locker room and gifts her the present given to him by Chris Jericho. Torrie opens it to reveal a Chris Jericho shirt. "It's the thought that counts." He offers to party with her after the show, but she turns him down. "Once you go Test, you can forget about the rest." Test tells Torrie to tell Tajiri to meet him in the ring so he can show her what a real man is all about.

The Lugz Boot of the Week: Undertaker giving a bunch of people Chokeslam's and Powerbombs. Neither move is a boot, and all that footage took place over a several week span.

WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
The Undertaker (c) vs. Big Show:

We might get a match longer than 5-minutes out of this. Big Show spent a lot of 2001 as a mid-card geek, so he's a long way from being a legitimate threat to anyone above the tag team division. Did anyone explain how the WCW referees stuck around? Tonight, we've already seen Charles Robinson and Nick Patrick (who looks WEIRD in the zebra stripes referee shirt). Taker is still using Limp Bizkit's "Rollin" as his entrance music. Taker tries to ride away, but Big Show RUNS HIM DOWN. Maybe if you drove faster than 1 1mph, you would've gotten away. Big Show pounds on Taker, bringing him back to the ring. He fetches toys from under the ring, tossing them into the ring with the Undertaker. To no surprise, Taker whacks him with one of the trash lids. Show no-sells a trash can to the head and returns fire. I don't care if those are gimmicked, repeated strikes to the head with that much force is still going to scramble some brain cells. Show sends Taker from corner to corner, but Taker has enough in him to clip the knee of Big Show with an elbow. They take it to the floor, where Show straddles the post missing a big boot. Taker lifts the steel steps like a feather and gently bops the leg. Taker dares Show to "call somebody out, b*tch". Show pops up and hits a Chokeslam out of nowhere for a near-fall. Taker grabs a chair and has it punched back in his face. Show pulls down the straps to show he means business. He signals for a Powerbomb, but Taker goes low and chokes him out with a dragon sleeper at 5:08. Lawler says Undertaker calls it the TCB: Taking Care of Business. This was every 5-minute hardcore title match you've ever seen. *

Stephanie McMahon tries to gain entry again, this time assisting WWF Hall of Famer James Dudley. The security staff allows Dudley through but denies Stephanie entry for a second time. I don't think I'd ever expect to see a JAMES DUDLEY cameo going back to these old episodes of Smackdown. Stephanie tries flirting, but the security man says he's gay. He's more than happy to see Chuck and Billy arriving over an hour into the show and says he would love to see a calendar featuring the duo.

Edge & Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle:

The Undisputed WWF Champion isn't featured in either of the two heavily promoted matches of the night. That's always a great sign for how the World Champion is valued. Speaking of entrance music I forgot, Edge is using Rob Zombie's "Never Gonna Stop." I'm sorry, but the Metalingus theme is top tier stuff and any other choices pale in comparison. Edge and Angle start. Lockup and Angle with a knee to the midsection. Whip to the ropes and Edge connects with a spinning heel kick. Edge blocks a hip toss and plants Angle face first for a two-count. RVD avoids a charge to the corner and hits a springboard twisting body press for two. Angle takes advantage of a distraction from Jericho, but RVD quickly regains control, hitting a Rolling Thunder. He climbs the ropes for the Frog Splash, but Jericho shoves him down. Jericho puts the boots to the body and leaves RVD out to dry across the top rope. RVD avoids a charge, causing Jericho to smack his shoulder on the post. Angle keeps RVD in the ring, burying a series of shoulders to the midsection. RVD fights off a top rope belly-to-belly suplex and connects with the Five Star Frog Splash. Jericho with another save, hanging RVD across the top rope. Edge with the tag, running wild on Jericho with clotheslines. Edge sends Angle crashing into Jericho and slaps on the Ankle Lock. Jericho saves and hits the bulldog. Edge avoids a Lionsault and connects with a Spear for a near-fall. RVD nails Angle with a flying boot to the chest. Angle avoids the split-leg moonsault. Edge hits the Edge-ecution (DDT) on Jericho, the Angle hits Edge with the Angle Slam, allowing Jericho to cover for three at 5:15. Non-stop action and the World Champion needs help winning another match. **

Ric Flair meets up with Arn Anderson backstage. Arn stooges out Vince McMahon for trying to shut the show down. Flair promises to take care of McMahon and makes his way to the ring. Wow, Flair's Titan-Tron video flashes 50% owner, JUST IN CASE WE WEREN'T PAYING ATTENTION. Lawler buries Anderson for being a stooge, calling him the new Finkel. Flair reminds us again that it'll be Flair vs. McMahon at the Royal Rumble. Flair promises to teach Vince a lesson, which includes being poked in the eyes and taking a trip to d*ck kick city. Suddenly, Stephanie McMahon hops the guardrail, but security immediately cuts her off. I guess Stephanie had a mild wardrobe malfunction during the fracas. Flair invites her into the ring. Stephanie sucks up to Flair, talking about having a crush on him and having nothing but respect for him. According to 2002 lore, Flair is only a 14-time World Champion. Flair starts doing Flair stuff, so Stephanie slaps him across the face to get his attention. Oh, and TRIPLE H RETURNS ON MONDAY NIGHT.

The JVC Boom of the Week is Rikishi laying Test out with a big boot and putting Hurricane on top for the cheap victory. Rikishi vs Test is something I have zero memory of, assuming it went anywhere.

Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Test:

Remember what I said about Stacy with the Dudley Boyz feels like throwing something together for the sake of using the roster? Same applies for Torrie and Tajiri being a thing. Tajiri is the reigning Cruiserweight Champion, but nobody cares about that belt. Tajiri tries getting the jump on Test, but it backfires. GEEK. Test pounds away on Tajiri and stalks Torrie at ringside. Tajiri cuts him off, but Test quickly regains control. Whip to the ropes and Test counters the handspring elbow with a full nelson slam. Whip to the ropes, Tajiri ducks a boot and unloads with a series of kicks. He pulls off the handspring elbow on the second try and comes off the ropes with a bulldog. Test blocks the Tarantula and hangs Tajiri up across the top rope. Tajiri avoids the boot and hits a Super-Kick for two. Test ducks the roundhouse, sweeps the legs, and finishes with the big boot at 2:29. Energetic couple of minutes, though treating a Champion like a geek seems counterproductive.

Vince McMahon and the Boss Man are backstage, concerned about Ric Flair's whereabouts and possibly getting Stephanie involved in the company again. Booker T walks in and promises to earn the title match at the Royal Rumble. Booker asks who he's facing and promises to establish a "Who" chant. KILL ME.

Jonathon Coachman is backstage with the Rock. Rock asks Coach if he was playing pocket pool for the New Year and enjoying some hip music. Coach says he likes Barry Manilow. "You like the Copa? Then Copa you're a$$ on out of here." I'm surprised it took as long as it did for Coach to finally turn heel. Rock says he came out of his momma's womb ready to roll and told the doctor that was prepared to slap his bottom that his was the people's bottom, and said it wasn't the umbilical cord the nurses were looking at, it was the strudel. IN-A-PRO-PRI-ATE.

The Rock vs. Booker T:

Winner faces Chris Jericho (or whoever is the Undisputed Champion) at the Royal Rumble on January 20th from Atlanta, GA. Just to recap the last segment, Rock out over a match with title implications by telling a story about his baby wang. Not every Rock promo was gold, ladies and gentlemen. Booker attempts a jump start, but Rock sees it coming. He plants Booker with a Samoan drop and covers for two. Booker catches Rock coming off the ropes with a spine-buster and they're selling 10-seconds of action like they've fought for 10-minutes. Booker throws chops in the corner. Whip is reversed, Rock ducks a heel kick, and throws a series of rights. Booker cuts him off, hitting a jumping heel kick for two. Rock avoids the Scissors Kick and throws more right hands, knocking Booker over the top rope. Rock follows, sending Booker into the steps. Vince McMahon charges down the aisle and hits Rock with a low blow. Back inside, Booker with the scissors kick for two. Rock hits a DDT out of nowhere and makes the slow cover, but Vince pulls the referee away to break up the count. Flair has had enough and comes to the ring, laying into Vince with rights and throwing him over the barricade. Back to the action in the ring, Rock comes off the ropes with a diving clothesline and plants Booker with a spine-buster. Boss Man runs down to interrupt the People's Elbow. Rock sends Booker into the Boss Man, and the Rock Bottom finishes at 5:21. Post-match, Boss Man plants Rock with the Sidewalk Slam. BOSS MAN IS GETTING HEAT ON AUSTIN AND ROCK IN 2002. Booker adds a Book End ("the cheap knock-off to the Rock Bottom"). Steve Austin returns from the hospital (Cole said hospital!) and gets him some payback from earlier until Booker lays him out with a steel chair. *

Final Thoughts: It's interesting jumping back to 2002 with little memory of what storylines were being pushed coming out of the Invasion. If you look at 2002 based solely on Pay-Per-View results, you wouldn't believe Booker T was given so much shine against the top babyfaces, nor would you remember THE BOSS MAN is still around. Undertaker being a grumpy veteran heel is better than being the grumpy veteran babyface, but this whole period for him is one of my least favorites of his career. Jericho is the Undisputed Champion and feels like he's nowhere close to being the center of attention, with Vince McMahon's feud with everyone being top priority, of course. The next episode of Raw is a memorable one for the main event segment, but we'll see how they continue to build towards the Royal Rumble.

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