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WWF Smackdown - January 24, 2002
by Scrooge McSuck
Taped on January 22nd from the Coliseum in North Charleston, SC. Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. We're just days removed from the Royal Rumble, where Triple H guaranteed himself a title match at WrestleMania X-8, and Chris Jericho stole a victory over the Rock to remain the Undisputed WWF Champion. In some interesting dark matches, Mr. Perfect pinned Randy Orton, the APA defeated Brock Lesnar and Ron Waterman (Bradshaw pinned Waterman), and Rico Constantino pinned A.J. Styles. If you're curious about the last one, Rico was a featured OVW talent while Styles was working independently. Tonight, Steve Austin faces Booker T and The Rock meets Kurt Angle in qualifying matches to determine Chris Jericho's challenge at No Way Out. Tonight's winners will meet on Monday Night Raw.
Non-Title Match: William Regal (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Rob Van Dam:
RVD has momentum on his side, and this being Non-Title is a good sign that they'll continue pushing him along the Championship path. Two weeks ago on Raw, Regal knocked RVD out with the Power of the Punch. RVD surprises Regal with a slingshot plancha, feeds him into the ring, and comes off the top with a missile dropkick. RVD with Rolling Thunder and 5-Star Frog Splash and that's it at 0:42. Wow, didn't expect that to happen. I guess RVD might have earned himself a Championship opportunity. Then things get worse for Regal, as Edge appears from the crowd and nails him with a Spear before security can chase him away. Michael Cole calls it "vigilante justice." SHUT UP, VINCE.
Speaking of Vince McMahon, he's sitting in a dimly-lit room. He doesn't have any alternative than to do what even he will regret, and he's going to do it tonight.
Rikishi vs. The Boss Man:
Jacqueline is the "guest referee" for this match because that's still a thing they were pushing for her. Rikishi eliminated Boss Man (and gave him a Stink-Face) at the Royal Rumble, so at least we have a reason to see this. The other being they taped too much for Sunday Night Heat (OK, I made that up). Jackie unfairly chastises Boss Man about his nightstick despite no provocation. Lockup and they quickly take it to the outside, where Rikishi is politely introduced to the ring steps. Back inside, Boss Man with right hands and choking in the corner until Jackie forces him to back it up. This allows Rikishi to turn it around, and at least she's doing the same to him. Boss Man with a shot to the throat, followed by an uppercut from the arena floor. Boss Man comes off the ropes with a clothesline, turning Rikishi inside-out. Whip is reversed and Rikishi with a Super-Kick. He comes down with a seated splash and finishes with the Banzai Drop at 3:20. Just a punch-kick contest until the final seconds. No post-match celebration, to my surprise.
Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley seems a little grumpy. Lillian Garcia says she's surprised to see her and offers her a shoulder to cry on, only for Stephanie to throw coffee at her. I guess that covers the "humiliate Lillian" quota until August.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Tazz & Spike Dudley (c) vs. Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert:
Spike is STILL wearing the neck brace. WHO IS CLEARING THIS MAN FOR COMPETITION?! Speaking of competition, evidence shows how weak the division is when a team that rarely wins matches on Heat or Jakked are getting a title shot on network television. Tazz and Scotty start. Lockup and they trade wrist-locks until Tazz takes him down with an overhead throw. Spike and Albert in next. Spike gets tossed into the corner then hurts himself trying to do a battering ram. Albert busts out the Giant Swing and watching little Spike flung around is quite the spectacle. Albert catches Spike's neck under the ropes with a slingshot and covers for two. Scotty in with a spinning back suplex and elbow drops for another two-count. Scotty with a hangman's neck breaker but Tazz saves. Whip and elbow, followed by a snap suplex for two. Snapmare and basement dropkick for two. How much more can Spike endure?! Spike cuts Scotty off with an elbow in the corner. Scotty charges in again and meets the post. Tazz with the hot tag, running wild with clotheslines and a suplex. Albert comes in to prevent the Tazzmission. Albert with the avalanche, followed by Scotty's bulldog and Worm, but Spike breaks the cover. Albert launches Spike clean across the ring with a press slam. Spike avoids an avalanche and hits the Dudley Dog. Tazz catches Scotty in the Tazzmission and retains at 5:18. Good match, and fun to see Scotty lean into a more aggressive style at times. **˝
Triple H is backstage and has no interest in what Stephanie has to say or what she has to say about her father. Triple H brings up a good point that Vince has been nothing but an a$$hole and doesn't understand how she worships the ground he walks on.
Jonathan Coachman is backstage with The Rock. Rock cuts Coach off and asks if his mind is elsewhere. Is he thinking about what he's going to do after the show? He's going to go dancing? Rock has an idea… since he likes dancing so much, why not do the Charleston? The Rock and the people believe in Coach and tells him to dance the Charleston like he's never danced before. Coach obliges until Rock plants a boot on his rear and kicks him out of view. Rock talks about the unexpected moments of the Royal Rumble, like Kane scooping up Big Show, Maven eliminates Undertaker, and Flair making Vince tap faster than Shirley Temple on an ice cream sam'ich.
Triple H is fuming in the hallway. Christian makes the mistake of saying Stephanie has a bit of a temper and gets assaulted. YOU CAN'T TREAT THE EUROPEAN CHAMPION LIKE THAT!
More Vince McMahon from his office. The facts are hard and cold. Since the Royal Rumble, Ric Flair has assumed the position of leadership in the WWF, and he doesn't like it any more than you do. Under Flair's leadership, the WWF has terminal cancer. The WWF is going to slowly die. "You know what you have to do, don't you?" WHO IS VINCE TALKING TO?!
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Booker T:
Winner advances to Monday Night Raw and faces the winner of Rock/Angle to determine Chris Jericho's challenger at No Way Out on February 17th. Cole reminds us that Austin has already declared for the 2003 Royal Rumble (CARD SUBJECT TO CHANGE). Lockup to the corner and Booker throws a right hand over the shoulder of referee Charles Robinson. Naturally, Austin returns fire. Booker grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Austin pops up, throwing more right hands. Crisscross and Austin plants Booker with a spine-buster. Austin sends Booker from corner to corner and lays him out with a clothesline for two. Booker slows Austin down with a thumb to the eyes and lights him up with chops. Austin reverses another whip and hits a half-hearted Stun Gun, followed by a swinging neck breaker for two. Booker fights out of the corner and connects with a jumping heel kick. He sends Austin over the top rope with a clothesline and gives him a taste of the ring steps. Back inside, Booker with a series of boots to the midsection. He wraps both of Austin's legs around the post, just in case one was feeling worse than the other. Booker with a chop block on the left knee followed by more boots. Austin explodes out of the corner with a takedown, but Booker quickly regains control, hitting a spinning heel kick for a near-fall. Booker continues to punish the knee, but goes to the well once too often, allowing Austin to get to his feet. Austin is up first from a clothesline double-down and unloads with right hands. Whip and Austin with the Thesz Press. VINTAGE STONE COLD. Booker gets sent to the corner for some mud-hole stomping. Booker blocks the Stunner and sweeps the leg. He celebrates with a spin-a-rooni and hits another heel kick for two. Booker with a Scissors Kick for two. Booker unwisely attempts a Stunner. Austin blocks, hits the Stunner, and covers for three at 9:17. Best TV match of the week (so far), with them working a PPV-style pace rather than rushing through spots for the sake of getting their stuff in. ***
Sharmell is backstage with WWF Co-Owner Ric Flair. I forgot about Sharmell doing the backstage interviewer role for a short while. She asks Flair if he has any idea what Vince McMahon has on his mind. Flair continues to brag about beating Vince McMahon at the Royal Rumble and trails off while attempting to dance with Sharmell. That was… typical Flair for the era, I guess.
Tables Match: Kane & Big Show vs. The Dudley Boyz (w/ Stacy Keibler):
WHAT IS THE POINT OF A TABLES MATCH BETWEEN FOUR GUYS WITH NO BEEF?! I didn't know Vince Russo was booking. Kane and Big Show bring the fight to the floor. D'Von slides off Show's shoulders and sends him face-first to the post. Inside the ring, the Dudley's with a combo back suplex and neck breaker on Kane. Show comes back to life, taking down the straps. A double chokeslam is blocked and he's planted with a flapjack, but Kane moves the table to save the match. He makes the trip to the top rope, and for the second time this week, Show hits the ropes and hurts his own team's chances. Bubba pulls away the table as Show hits D'Von with a chokeslam. Kane hops on the apron in time for Show to whip Bubba Ray into the ropes, knocking Kane off, crashing through the table positioned at ringside, giving the Dudley's their slip-on-a-banana-peel victory at 2:09. Post-match, Kane and Show have words for each other. Nice of Sgt. Slaughter and Tony Garea to come out and help restore order. I can't think of any instance where even a loud minority of the audience wanted Kane vs Big Show.
Vince McMahon is still monologuing. He says it's a damn shame that everything on earth must come to an end. He built the WWF on his own and now someone is going to take it away from him. Someone gave cancer to the WWF. Vince gives the worst fake sobbing I've EVER seen.
Goldust is standing by with another vague promo targeting an opponent who is yet known.
Billy and Chuck are fawning over each other and have the Tag Team Titles on their minds.
Jonathan Coachman is back from being humiliated by the Rock to interview Kurt Angle, who is drowned out with "What" chants whenever he pauses during his promo. This might be the worst thing to ever happen to professional wrestling. I'd rather watch every dumba$$ Vince Russo swerve than listen to fans hijack every promo with that chant.
Non-Title Match: Trish Stratus (Women's Champion) vs. Jazz:
Yes, they did run this match at the Royal Rumble, and yes, we are that shallow of credible challengers that Jazz is sticking around in the title hunt despite doing a clean loss on the PPV. Trish brings the fight to Jazz immediately. Jazz meets a boot in the corner but recovers to lay Trish out with a clothesline. Jazz with a jumping leg drop, followed by a butterfly suplex. Trish gets dumped to the floor and has her injured hand rammed into everything imaginable at ringside. Trish fights back with more forearms but misses a charge to the corner. Jazz with an arm bar takedown, using the ropes for leverage until she is disqualified at 2:10. Jazz continues the assault after the bell, leaving Trish lying with a DDT. Why would Jazz get another title shot when she not only lost at the Rumble, but got herself DQ'd in a non-title rematch?
Vince McMahon is STILL talking. There's no talking him out of his decision, but there's no other way. Now Vince makes some of the most bizarre, disturbingly erotic facial expressions about how good it feels.
The Rock vs. Kurt Angle:
Chris Jericho joins the announcer's table to remind us that the Undisputed WWF Champion isn't being left off the show as if he's a background character. With Steve Austin advancing, there's no chance in hell they give Austin vs Rock away on Monday Night Raw. Jericho calls Rock a "Brahma Baby" for all the whining he does when Rock loses to him. Rock cranks a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Rock puts on the breaks on a leapfrog attempt and takes Angle over with an arm drag. Angle counters with a fireman's carry into the arm bar. Angle tries to recreate the sequence Rock pulled off earlier, but Rock cuts him off with an overhead throw for a two-count. Angle comes back with a release belly-to-belly suplex and puts the boots to the Rock in the corner. Rock fires back with right hands. Angle ducks a clothesline and hits him with the German suplex trio for a two-count. Rock's comeback is cut short with Angle tossing him over the top rope. Angle follows, dropping Rock across the announcer's table. Jericho gets a cheap shot in while Angle distracts referee Tim White. Back inside, Angle with a modified Alabama Slam. He slaps on the Ankle-Lock, but Rock gets to the ropes to force the break. Whip to the ropes and they meet in the middle for a clothesline double-down. Rock runs wild with right hands, a diving clothesline and DDT for a near-fall. Angle counters an Irish whip with a short clothesline. Angle unwisely attempts a People's Elbow and gets thrown over the top rope. Rock takes the opportunity to give Jericho a receipt for earlier, then rams Angle head-first in Jericho's southern region. Back in the ring, Rock plants Angle with a spine-buster and turns him over with the Sharpshooter. Jericho pulls the referee out of the ring as Angle taps out. The Undertaker shows up and lays Rock out with a Chokeslam, allowing Angle to cover for three at 9:24. Oh God, we're getting Rock vs. Undertaker. Match was fine, but I'd still put Austin vs. Booker above it for quality. **˝
Jonathan Coachman tries to get a reaction out of Steve Austin, but Kurt Angle enters the scene and they brawl to give their match heat for Monday Night Raw.
Vince McMahon is STILL talking about the WWF dying from cancer, all because of Ric Flair. He gave the WWF the slow, eating kind of cancer. Vince will not let Ric Flair kill his creation. "I created it. I'm not going to let Ric Flair kill what I created because I'M GOING TO KILL WHAT I CREATED. I'M GOING TO KILL IT. I'M GOING TO KILL MY CREATION! I'M GOING TO INJECT THE WWF WITH A LETHAL DOSE OF POISON! IF ANYONE'S GOING TO KILL MY CREATION, I'M GOING TO DO IT. (spins chair around) ME... AND THE N. W. O!" So this entire time, Vince was talking to himself in front of the world's largest mirror. I must say, even in January 2002, I had no faith in the rumors of an n.W.o return being legitimate. After YEARS of burying Hulk Hogan, it seemed so improbable. I could've done with one or two fewer Vince segments, since they all had the same context, but I thought this was a great Vince performance (this final segment, not his awful facials of weird erotica or phony sobbing).
Final Thoughts: Well, we've got the N.W.O. to look forward to in the very near future. Thinking back on it, were they advertised as the "New World Order", or was "n.W.o" their commonly used name? I guess we'll see in the coming weeks. We've got Austin vs. Angle to determine Jericho's opponent for No Way Out, and it looks like we're going to be treated to Rock vs. Undertaker soon enough as well. This was mostly the Vince Show, but there's at least three solid matches to check out and very little came off as poor entertainment.
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