Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Thursday, 27 May 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF No Way Out 2002

February 17, 2002
Bradley Center, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Back in 1998 as the much-revered Attitude Era was hurtling towards its zenith, the World Wrestling Federation began to promote a card they simply called In Your House: No Way Out 

That was until somebody realised that if you initialized No Way Out you would, of course, get NWO. 

They also realised that it probably wasn't a good idea to remind people -even subliminally- of the New World Order, the renegade group of cool heels who played a large role in WCW kicking the WWF's ass for such a long time, and thus the event was renamed to In Your House: No Way Out of Texas.

Fast-forward four years later, and the WWF had not only crushed World Championship Wrestling and bought them out, but were now planning to launch their own version of the New World Order featuring the very same three men who started it all.

So there was perhaps no event more fitting for the group Vince McMahon had described as a "lethal dose of poison" to make their debut than right here at No Way Out 2002.

Let's head down to Milwaukee and review the show, shall we?

The New World Order Has Arrived

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - The New World Order make their WWF debut
Unlike most shows, there was no special opening video package tonight.

Instead, we got a brief graphic of the No Way Out branding before the familiar nWo porn music struck up as Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hollywood Hulk Hogan sauntered onto the first WWF appearance in years.

In case you’re wondering, we hadn’t seen Hogan in the company since King of the Ring 1993 while Hall and Nash had last appeared at In Your House 7 - Good Friends, Better Enemies.

The nWo originals were here to protest the fact that they’d been called ‘poison,’ ‘cancer’ and even ‘company killing bastards,’ insisting that they were only back in the WWF as fans because they loved the company.

Although it was a bit anti-climatic after weeks of hype, it was still a fun segment for sheer novelty of seeing the three not only back in a WWF ring but back together at all.

The crowd clearly felt so too, and were torn between booing the three heels and being overjoyed at seeing them back.

Indeed, when Hall took to the mic to utter the immortal ‘hey, yo’ he got a huge ovation and there’s no way his first words after that -“we’re not the bad guys”- weren’t very deliberate.

Nothing much happened here, but it was sure fun for the novelty of having the nWo on WWF TV.
00.10.24 - ANNOUNCERS

Tag Team Turmoil
Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert vs. Christian & Lance Storm vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy w/ Lita) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley vs. Billy & Chuck vs. The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw)

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - Stacy and D'Von Dudley
Winners earn a tag team title shot at Wrestlemania 18

Tag team turmoil basically meant winner stays on, with Scotty & Albert kicking things off against Christian & Lance Storm before The Hardy Boyz arrived to send the Canadians packing so that they could have another classic showdown with The Dudley Boyz.

The Hardyz/Dudleyz portion was easily the best part of the match, but it eventually gave way to The APA vs. Billy & Chuck which was less good.

The latter team had been getting a not insignificant push as of late, so it was surprising to see then fall at the hands of Farooq and Bradshaw who had spent most of the last few months just hanging out and playing cards.

It was a strong start to the show, but not the greatest match in the world.
Your Winners: The APA

Out in the back, WWF Co-Owner Nature Boy Ric Flair started to talk to Michael Cole about the New World Order only to be interrupted by The Undertaker.

The two had been getting in each other’s way in TV recently and were clearly heading towards a full blown feud.

Goldust vs. Rob Van Dam

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - Goldust vs. Rob Van Dam
Since returning at the 2002 Royal Rumble, Goldust had set his sights on Rob Van Dam, cutting a series of weird promos about him before attacking on Raw.

It was a convincing return for Goldie but you have to wonder who RVD had annoyed to be lumbered with this feud.

The Whole F’N Show had been one of the most popular acts in the company in 2001, so it was bizarre (and not in a Goldust way) to see him in a midcard feud that clearly had no future.

Despite not being higher on the card, RVD still put the effort in and gave us a solid match against a clearly motivates Goldust.

The two worked well together and gave us some fun spots en route to Van Dam’s inevitable frog splash win.
Your Winner: Rob Van Dam
WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - The nWo offer Steve Austin a beer

Backstage, the nWo tried to give Stone Cold Steve Austin the gift of a six-pack of beer.

However, The Texas Rattlesnake wanted nothing to do with them, ensuring this was probably the only time in his life he turned down a beer.

World Wrestling Federation Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Tazz & Spike Dudley vs. Booker T & Test

This is another match that was more enjoyable than yours truly thought it might be.

With Tazz and Spike Dudley still pitted as the underdogs who kept surprising everyone by winning matches and Test and Booker T reforming their on-again/off-again partnership simply because there was nothing else for them to do, all four men put on a fun but forgettable contest which came to an end when Test got angry at Mike Chioda and pushed him, only for the ref to push him straight into Tazz.

The Brooklyn native slapped on the Tazzmission and that was all she wrote.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Tazz & Spike Dudley

Out in the back, The Rock spoke to Jonathan Coachman about the moment on TV where The Undertaker tombstoned him on top of car.

The Rock was ready to get his revenge on ‘Taker later in tonight’s show, but first, this:

Brass Knuckles on a Pole Match for the World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion William Regal vs. Edge

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - William Regal stretches Edge
You can make your own Vince Russo jokes here if you want to.

While you do that, I’ll focus on this match, which was certainly no joke.

Hard-hitting and violent, it wasn’t the best of the many matches Edge and William Regal had together, but it was still a decent effort.

The only problem with it was that you really got the feeling you’d seen Edge and Regal do everything they could do together, which took most of the appeal away.

At the end, Edge finally got his hands on the brass knuckles but champion Regal pulled a second pair out of his pants, struck the challenger with them and won the match.

It wasn’t bad, but I do hope that’s the last time I have to watch these two wrestle each other for a while.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: William Regal

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - Lillian Garcia interviews Kurt Angle
Backstage, Lillian Garcia reminded us that the build towards Kurt Angle vs. Triple H tonight has been overshadowed by more McMahon family drama as Stephanie McMahon and The Game had split up.

Tonight, Stephanie would be the special guest referee, but as Angle spoke to Lilian, he promised us that the reason he was so confident had nothing to do with Steph and everything to do with him being an Olympic Gold Medalist.

It was a convincing promo from Angle, who seemed to be the only one who cared about his match with Hunter.

Before we got to that one, we had a video look back at the recent rivalry between The Rock and The Undertaker.

This started when The Dead Man got mad about The Great One commenting on Maven eliminating him from the Royal Rumble and wound up with the aforementioned tombstone onto the car.

The Undertaker vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - The Undertaker rides into battle against The Rock
Now we’re talking.

After a so-so undercard, the first of tonight’s three main events delivered in spades.

Compelling from start to finish, The Rock and The Undertaker wasted no time laying in each other and were pretty relentless as they went back and forth in a solid contest.

After a very good performance from the two main event legends, we got run-ins from Flair and Vince McMahon, the latter of whom had been an ally of ‘Taker in recent weeks.

This all led to the Nature Boy blasting ‘Taker with a lead pipe, setting up their Wrestlemania 18 match and giving The Rock a win.
Your Winner: The Rock

Over at WWF New York, Mr. Perfect stood on stage wearing a leather jacket and no shirt because apparently nobody had told poor Curt that it wasn’t the 1980s anymore.

Nothing interesting happened here. He basically insulted the crowd and said the word ‘perfect’ a lot.

It was pretty pointless.

Up next, Triple H would take on Kurt Angle with HHH’s ‘Mania title match on the line, so we got a video to remind us of that fact.

Kurt Angle vs. Triple H

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - Triple H laughs at Stephanie McMahon getting hurt
Special Referee: Stephanie McMahon

This wasn’t as good as the last match and there were times when it seemed to lag a little, but it was still a good effort made all the more enjoyable by Kurt accidentally knocking out his ally Stephanie McMahon on at least two occasions.

The Game looked to have the match won on multiple occasions but in the end Kurt Angle beat him thanks to two chair shots and an Angle Slam.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Apparently, that meant Kurt was now heading to Wrestlemania to challenge for the title.


Turn That Sumbitch Sideways

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - The Rock poses for a photo with the New World Order
Backstage, The Rock graciously posed for a photo with Hulk Hogan, who said The Great One was his son’s favourite wrestler.

So far, so pleasant, but then Hogan insulted The Rock so The People’s Champion gave it to the nWo with both barrels.

“You, Chico, Razor Ramon, you take that camera and you shine it up real nice. Then you, Big Daddy Cool Diesel, you turn that sumbitch sideways and then you, Hogan, shove it straight up ALL YOUR CANDY ASSES!”

That was definitely the most entertaining backstage segment of the show.

Finally, it was time for our main event:

World Wrestling Federation Undisputed Championship
WWF Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE / WWF No Way Out 2002 - The New World Order attack Steve Austin
This was a good match that was hampered by the fact that it felt as though the crowd were just waiting for the inevitable nWo run in.

It did eventually happen, of course, but you got the feeling the audience may have reacted more to the match had the ending not been so predictable.

Add in the fact that this was the third match in a row that relied on ref bumps, and it took the shine off what was otherwise a strong match.

Speaking of red bumps, with Earl Hebner napping in the corner, Austin made Jericho tap to the Walls of Jericho then hit him with the Stone Cold Stunner for what could have been the kind of five count that King Kong Bundy would have been proud of.

It was at this point that Hall, Nash, and Hogan turned up and got their asses kicked by Austin until the numbers game proved too much for him.

They left, and Jericho once again retained his title via nefariousness
Your Winner and Still Undisputed Champion: Chris Jericho

Afterwards, the New World Order returned to the ring where Hall hit Stone Cold with the stunner before they broke out the spray paint and daubed their group’s name on the Rattlesnake’s back like it was 1996 all over again.

I’m not going to lie, WWF No Way Out 2002 was a pretty underwhelming show.

The New World Order had been billed as a ‘lethal dose of poison’ that would destroy the World Wrestling Federation from the inside out.

Instead, they turned up, goofed around and gave us an unconvincing run in. Sure, the novelty value made this show worth watching, but it has to be said that the most entertaining thing that happened as a result of the NWO’s return was The Rock making fun of Diesel and Razor Ramon, which I’m not sure was supposed to be the case.

As for the matches, most were decent but sadly nothing really stood out as being a must-watch match.

The road to Wrestlemania 18 rolls on..

Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

PPV REVIEW: WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Settling The Score

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Event Poster
October 28, 1989 
Philadelphia Civic Center,  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 was the first such event of that name, kicking off an October tradition that would remain with World Championship Wrestling for the duration of the next 11 years. 

In that time, the event became perhaps better-known for the company's unabashed Halloween-themed goofiness as for anything that actually took place in the ring. 

Sure, it gave us as much crap (Chamber of Horrors, I'm looking at you) as it did pure gold (Hello, Mysterio vs. Guerrero), but when most people think of Halloween Havoc, they think of the giant pumpkin and graveyard set, Eric Bischoff dressed as a vampire, or Tony Schiavone being a bit creepy

Yes, over the next decade, it would become abundantly obvious that WCW loved Halloween and that, in turn, made this fan (and no doubt many others), love Halloween Havoc. 

Before we got to any of that though, there was this - the first ever Halloween Havoc which sadly did not feature that epic pumpkin.

Still, despite the lack of over-sized seasonal fruits, let's head down to Philadelphia and review the show any way, shall we? 

Spooky Times

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Spooky graphics for the main event
Tonight’s opening video wasn’t one of the longest in professional wrestling history but it was one of the most joyfully corny ones and perfectly encapsulated all that Halloween Havoc cheese we mentioned earlier.

As a ‘spooky’ theme that sounded like something off a Sega Master System game chunnered away, we zoomed in on four animated graves of Sting, Ric Flair, The Great Muta, and Terry Funk.

As if that wasn’t enough to scare you out of your wits, the ‘ghosts’ of those four men rose from their graves.

OK, so it sounds crap, and by today’s standards it was, but there was something so innocently naff about it that this fan couldn’t help but smile.

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - Chris Cruise made his WCW debut here
And, if you’re wondering why it was those four men in particular that were rising from the dead, it was because they’d been involved in a huge brawl at the end of The Great American Bash and were set to settle the score here tonight.

After that fun little intro, we went live to the arena where Mike Rotunda and Tom Zenk were stood around in the ring while announcers Jim Ross and Bob Caudle welcomed us to Halloween Havoc.

After a brief bit of patter, the pair sent it up to their other colleagues, Gordon Sollie and Chris Cruise, the latter making his debut appearance in any NWA/WCW PPV.

Neither man said anything particularly interesting other than telling us which wrestlers

Captain Mike Rotunda vs. ‘The Z-Man’

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 - 'The Z-Man' Tom Zenk faced Captain Mike
Finally, after hanging around in the ring for nearly three minutes, Captain Mike and Tom Zenk were able to get their match underway.

Of course, Zenk -also making his WCW PPV debut- wasn’t actually called Tom
Zenk here. He was simply ‘The Z-Man.’

The actual match was pretty decent. Nothing fancy or overly dramatic, sure, but a competent match between two guys who just looked like they wanted to beat the other one in a wrestling match.

It was well done, with Ross telling us the story that Z-Man hadn’t really been tested since arriving in the NWA and thus the devious Rotunda (who took charge for large chunks of the bout) was his first big challenge.

Fortunately for the man of Z, he prevailed, getting the better of Rotunda at the end of a 13+ minute match.
Your Winner: The Z-Man

Out in the back, WWF Legend Bruno Sammartino told spoke to Chris Cruise about his role as the special guest referee in tonight’s Thunderdome main event.

The interview was mainly here to put over how intense that main event was going to be and, to that end, it was an effective it not necessary exciting promo.

Six Man Tag Team Match
Dr. Death Steve Williams and The Midnight Express (Sweet Stan Lane & Beautiful Bobby Eaton w/ Jim Cornette) vs. The Samoan Swat Team (Fatu, Samu, and The Samoan Savage w/ Sir Oliver Humperdink)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  The Samoan Swat Team
In case you’re wondering, The Samoan Savage was Tama/The Tonga Kid who Retro Pro Wrestling readers will have last met as part of The Islanders all the way back at the 1988 Royal Rumble.

Speaking of The Samoans, they made their entrance doing an awesome fire dance ritual thing which was actually the best part of this entire 20 minute match.

Once they got the ring, both teams kind of just wandered around for a while without doing very much before having a good old-fashioned stare down on the outside of the ring.

It was the better part of four minutes before any two wrestlers actually touched each other, and even then there was more random stalling.

Eventually, things settled down and developed into an ok match that wasn’t horrible but wasn’t terribly exciting either.

About ten minutes longer than it needed to be, this one came to an end when Jim Cornette got up on the apron and waffled The Big Kahuna Sir Oliver Humperdink with his tennis racket.

Tama then pushed Sweet Stan Lane into Cornette, knocking the manager to the floor and the manager to the mat where he was promptly pinned.
Your Winners: The Samoan Swat Team

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Terry Funk looked ripped AF
Backstage, Gordon Sollie interviewed Terry Funk as well as The Great Muta’s manager Garry Hart about tonight’s Thunderdome cage match.

No joke, Terry Funk look more ripped than this long-time fan has ever seen him before.

Flexing his six pack, The Funkster talked about starting a new dance craze in Philadelphia called the 10,000 Watt Boogie, all while Garry Hart stood around looking completely confused.

The Cuban Assassin vs. ‘Wildfire’ Tommy Rich

The WWE Network dubbed over Tommy Rich’s theme music with what sounds like something that was rejected as the theme to a daytime TV soap.

He started the match in charge, continually taking down The Cuban Assasin and locking him in an arm bar before the Assasin took over and decided he was also going to focus on his opponent's arm.

Again, it wasn’t awful or anything, but it was like watching a throw-away match from WCW Saturday Night rather than a PPV calibre contest.

At one point, they did the spot where The Cuban Assasin went for a piledriver but Rich reversed it into a back body drop. Though basic, that move almost always gets at least a mild pop but here it was met with absolute silence.

Eventually, after ten minutes or so, Rich scored the win with a Lou Thesz press which is probably the only time anyone that wasn’t Thesz himself used that move as a finisher.
Your Winner: Tommy Rich

Backstage, The Fabulous Freebirds shouted a lot to Gordon Sollie about how they were going to destroy The Dynamic Dudes.

National Wrestling Alliance World Tag Team Championship
NWA World Tag Team Champions The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael ‘P.S’ Hayes & Jimmy ‘Jam’ Garvin vs. The Dynamic Dudes (Shane Douglas & Johnny Ace w/ Jim Cornette )

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Shane Douglas puts a hurting on Jimmy 'Jam' Garvin
The Dynamic Dudes
were the babyfaces here but the Philadelphia crowd were having none of that and loudly booed them at every opportunity.

Maybe that was because they’d seen their awful match against The Skyscrapers at The Great American Bash ‘89, maybe it was because they just hated their cheesy gimmick or maybe it was simply because they loved The Fabulous Freebirds.

Either way, watching Johnny Ace & Shane Douglas got the largest heel reaction of the night was far more entertaining than anything either team could have done in the ring.

Not that the match was bad or anything, it was pretty much as good as you were going to get from these two teams, but it was always going to be better known for the ‘bizarro world’ reactions than anything else.

In the end, Johnny & Shane picked up Jimmy Garvin but he landed on top of one of them to get the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: The Fabulous Free Birds

Out in the back, The Steiner Brothers gave a messy interview to Chris Cruise about their upcoming match with the debuting team of Doom.

Rick Steiner’s childlike hyperactivity was, of course, left over from his way previous ‘not the sharpest tool in the box’ gimmick whereas Scott Steiner was just...well, he was Scott Steiner.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. Doom (Doom 1 & Doom 2 w/ Woman)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Woman led Doom into battle against The Steiner Brothers
Although I think most people probably know this by now, Doom were Ron Simmons and the late Butch Reed.

Tonight, as they stepped out onto the stage, Garry Michael Capetta called them The Tag Team Combination of Doom and I honestly think that’s an even cooler name for them.

The match itself was pretty good too. I’m not going to lie to you, dear readers, but I am partial to a bit of old school Steiner Brothers, and though this wasn’t the best match you’ll ever see them in, it was a decent effort all the same.

Not too surprisingly, Woman’s new team picked up the victory when Woman slipped one of her men an International Object which he stuck up his mask and head butted Rick with.
Your Winners: Doom

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Gordon Sollie interviewed Lex Luger about his match with Brian Pillman
Continuing the simple match-promo-match formula, Lex Luger was featured next, telling Gordon Sollie about his upcoming US title defence against Brian Pillman.

Proving that he was always at his best as a heel, Luger claimed that Pillman didn’t have what it took to compete in high profile matches.

When asked how many times he’d been champion, Luger merely replied that he would continue to hold the gold for as long as he wanted.

He’s been champion more than once, proving he can be beat” said Sollie as The Total Package walked off, meaning either Luger had flubbed his lines and there was a point they were supposed to make, or just that Sollie was feeling particularly sassy that day.

National Wrestling Alliance United States Championship
NWA US Champion Lex Luger vs. Flyin’ Brian Pillman

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Lex Luger and Brian Pillman stole the show
The two hadn’t even locked up before Jim Ross started talking about each man’s respective football careers

To be fair, this one time when it at least kind of made sense, as Pillman came down to the ring with a harem of football cheerleaders in tow.

Once they finally did lock up, this turned into a surprisingly good match with great energy and a hot Philly crowd who cheered Luger every bit as much as they did Flyin’ Brian.

The best match on the card up to that point, this was a solid outing that saw Luger almost decapitate Pillman with a stun gun on the ropes for the win.
Your Winner and Still US Champion: Lex Luger

Out in the back, Hawk and Animal told Chris Cruise that they’d been underdogs their whole lives which I somehow doubt was true.

In a typically shouty promo, the two promised to topple The Skyscrapers in our upcoming match.

The Skyscrapers (Sid Vicious & Dangerous Dan Spivey w/ Teddy Long) vs. The Road Warriors (Hawk & Animal w/ Paul Ellering)

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  The Skyscrapers faced The Road Warriors
Though there were a couple of dodgy spots here and there, this was nevertheless a good big man match in which big Sid clearly shone as a main-event-star-in-waiting.

Things came to an end when The Skyscrapers used a giant key that Teddy Long had been carrying with him for unknown reasons and beat up their opponents with it.

Before that it was a very good showing.

Your Winners via Disqualification: The Road Warriors

Out in the back, Chris Cruise caught up with Sting, Ric Flair, and Ole Anderson for their thoughts about tonight’s main event.

While Ole promised not to throw the towel in for his team, an over excited Flair JUST....SHOUTED...WORDS...LIKE THUNDERDOME...YES! And Sting confirmed that it was indeed Halloween and it was going to be HAMMOCK!

He probably meant Havoc though, right?

Thunderdome Cage Match
National Wrestling Alliance World Television Champion The Great Muta & Terry Funk (w/ Garry Hart) vs. National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Champion Nature Boy Ric Flair & Sting (w/ Ole Anderson)

Special Guest Referee: Bruno Sammartino

WCW Halloween Havoc 1989 -  Ric Flair teamed with Sting to face The Great Muta and Terry Funk
I wanted so much to like this match, I really did.

Flair, Sting, Muta and Funk, four legends and awesome workers, one unique cage match concept. It could have been epic.

Sadly it was too convoluted and nothing that happened made no sense.

The Thunderdome cage match was basically a huge cage that, not unlike the Hell in a Cell structure we all know today, went all the way around the outside of the ring rather than around the apron like normal wrestling cages.

The top of the cage curved inwards so that nobody could escape that way and if they tried they would get electrocuted because we were told the top of the cage was electrified.

Not that any of the wrestlers needed to bother climbing out of the cage anyway, as to win, one of the ‘Terminators’ (Anderson and Hart) had to throw the towel in for their team.

Oh, and there was all kinds of decorations around the cage-like trees and Halloween masks and a hangman’s noose that they’d take turns swinging on like it was a Tarzan rope.

So far, so interesting, right?

But it all started to feel off right from the beginning.

Remember, this was a match between people who hated each other so much that they’d been unable to stop brawling at the last PPV and couldn’t be separated.

Tonight, however, all four men came to the ring and happily waited patiently without touching each other while the cage was lowered and put into place.

Then, one of the decorations at the top of the cage immediately caught fire but this was OK because it played into the whole ‘the cage is electric’ real.

Amazingly, The Great Muta sprinted up to the top of the cage and put the fire out with his green mist.

It was legitimately the coolest moment in the entire match.

Things then got underway properly and gave us some decent action but I found myself distracted by the fact that the competitors started randomly climbing the cage.

It wasn’t even as though they were trying to escape because they wanted to get away from their opponents or anything like that. It seemed simply a case of “well this cage is here abs it’s got some cool stuff on it, we better use it.”

Ok, so it was silly but you could sort of understand them wanting to make the most of the gimmick, but what was really dumb was the whole electric cage thing.

At one point, Muta got two-thirds of the way up the cage and acted like he’d been shocked but then later he was hanging right off the top seemingly impervious to all that deadly electricity.

Lack of consistency aside, I will say that the finish was pretty cool.

Flair put Funk in the figure four while Sting lept off the top with a couple of splashes onto the Funkster.

Meanwhile, Muta went to swipe at Sammartino, but Big Bruno planted the Japanese star with a big right. Garry Hart got on the apron to protest but Ole Anderson tackled him abs Hart’s towel flew into the ring, ending the match.
Your Winners: Sting and Ric Flair

Again, there was some decent action in this match, it was just dragged down by making no sense at all.

Perhaps the best thing you could say about Halloween Havoc 1989 is that it was underwhelming.

The main event had so much promise but was nowhere near as good as it could have been. Meanwhile, most of the undercard could be described as “OK” at best, with only Luger/Pillman really standing out as a compelling bout.

Watch for the novelty of seeing the first Halloween Havoc show, but don’t expect to be blown away by the wrestling.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Royal Rumble 2002

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Event Poster
January 20, 2002
Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia

In the final PPV of 2001, Chris Jericho beat The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin on the same night to become the first-ever Undisputed Champion.

Of course, you already know that because Jericho would spend the better part of the following decade bragging about it.

What you may not know -or at least not remember quite so vividly- is that after his monumental, history-making victory, Y2J would spend most of January 2002 playing second fiddle to storylines revolving around Vince McMahon’s rivalry with WWF Co-Owner Ric Flair, Triple H’s triumphant return from injury, and the major stars entering the Royal Rumble match.

In fact, the Undisputed Champion was so overlooked that on the Smackdown before the 2002 Royal Rumble, stars like Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, The Undertaker, and The Game himself had all confronted Jericho’s opponent for tonight’s show -The Rock- to tell him how much they were looking forward to going one on one with The Great One at Wrestlemania, taking it as a given that he would beat Y2J.

Was that the case? Was tonight’s Undisputed Championship match a foregone conclusion or would Chris Jericho prove that he wasn’t someone to be underestimated?

Let’s review the 2002 Royal Rumble and find out together, shall we?

30 Men. 1 Winner.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the event
Tonight’s opening video was another pretty captivating moment, first looking at some historic moments such as Hacksaw Jim Duggan winning the 1988 Royal Rumble, Vince McMahon winning the 1999 event and so on before reminding us that Val Venis, Goldust, The Godfather, and the legendary Mr. Perfect would all be returning for tonight’s battle royal extravaganza.

Speaking of legends, this well-made video finished by reminding us that almost all of the company’s main event stars not named Jericho or The Rock would be also be aiming to throw each other over the top rope en route to WrestleMania.

With that out of the way, we got crowd shots and pyro galore along with the obligatory welcome from announcers Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler before heading down to the ring for our opening match.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Tazz & Spike Dudley vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley w/ Stacy Kiebler)

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Stacy Keibler accompanied The Dudley Boyz
The interesting thing about reviewing most of these shows from mid-2001 on is that I’ve never seen them before and have very little clue about what actually happened on them outside of major stuff like Jericho’s aforementioned Undisputed Championship win and the upcoming Rock/Hogan match at Wrestlemania 18.

Around this time I tuned out of wrestling altogether and wouldn’t start watching again until 2008.

So everything I’m seeing all this for the first time and have to admit I was pretty surprised to see Tazz and Spike Dudley pick up a win here.

They had beaten The Dudleyz on either a Raw or Smackdown broadcast (I forget which) that came from Madison Square Garden.

This cynical fan had assumed that it was just a fun way to pop the New York crowd before Spike and Tazz handed the belts back in this opening contest.

Alas, that wasn’t to be. After a reasonably entertaining six minute match were nothing of note happened, Tazz slapped the Tazzmission on D’Von Dudley to retain the gold.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Tazz & Spike Dudley

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Edge talks to Lilian Garcia about whacking William Regal with a chair
Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the intense and violent rivalry between William Regal and Intercontinental Champion Edge. The champ had broken The Englishman’s nose but Regal had been busy hiding brass knuckles about the place and secretly using them to deck both Edge and Rob Van Dam.

Eventually, Edge had lost his mind and went nutso with a steel chair.

The two would meet tonight, but not before the champion gave an interview to Lillian Garcia.

Showing flashes of the charisma that would eventually make him a main event star, Edge told Lillian that if it came to it, he would simply deck Regal with a chair just like he’d done when he broke his nose.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. William Regal

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Edge vs. William Regal
Prior to the match, referee Nick Patrick gave Regal a full pay down and found those ominous brass knuckles stuffed down his pants.

Naturally, he confiscated them, forcing Regal to fight fairly (or at least as fairly as heels ever did) in his second of two solid PPV outings with the future Rated R Superstar.

Like their last match at Vengeance 2001, this one saw Regal’s experience and technical ability give him the upper hand, only for Edge’s youth and tenacity to keep him in the fight.

After a good showing, Patrick got bumped, allowing the challenger to reveal that he’d had another International Object in his knickers the whole time and punch Edge’s lights out with it.

One three count from a groggy zebra later and we had ourselves a new Intercontinental Champion.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: William Regal

Post match, Michael Cole caught up with Regal in one of those ring-side interviews we hadn’t seen since the days of Todd Pettingill. Ever the heel, Regal claimed to know nothing about an illegal weapon and insisted that he’d beaten Edge because he’d been ‘blessed with the power of the punch.’

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Trish Stratus vs. Jazz

Special Guest Referee: Jacqueline

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Jaqueline was the special referee for Trish Stratus vs. Jazz
Last seen on pay per view as The Alliance’s mystery woman in the women’s elimination match at Survivor Series, Jazz had since been “rehired” by the WWF and built up as a serious brute, going straight after women’s champion Trish Stratus and beating the crap out of her.

Things got even more serious on the go-home Smackdown when she’d slammed Trish’s hand in a trunk, forcing the blonde beauty to head to ringside with said hand heavily bandaged.

This match was more of the same from the former ECW wrestler. Jazz battered Trish from pillar to post in a way that made you convinced she was going to pulverise her into submission and take her title.

Instead, Stratus -who had hit maybe two offensive moves in the entirety of this short match- simply landed her patented Stratusfaction bulldog and retained her title.

This short encounter wasn’t terrible or anything, but it was weird that they built up Jazz to look so tough and then had her lose so easily.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus

Earlier that day, Ric Flair had arrived at the arena with his daughter Meghan and son Reid.

The Nature Boy had little time for interviewer Jonathan Coachman, simply stating that his kids were there to watch him kick Vince McMahon’s ass.

That match was apparently next.

Street Fight
Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Vince McMahon faced Ric Flair
For those keeping score, this was Flair’s first PPV match since WCW Greed and his first WWF PPV match since Survivor Series 1992.

It was also awesome, not necessarily for the quality of the wrestling but because both men were fantastic entertainers who excelled in their respective roles; McMahon as the absolute d**k heel and Flair as the Dirtiest Player in the Game who could give every bit as good as he got.

Naturally, Nature Boy began bleeding about three minutes into the match as he sold The Chairman’s offence like he’d just been stabbed in the face. There was also a fun spot where McMahon snatched a camera from Megan Flair and used it to take a selfie with his opponent years before any of us knew what that word meant.

Eventually, Flair made his valiant comeback, busted McMahon wide open and made him tap to the Figure Four, bringing to an end what had proved to be a very fun match indeed.
Your Winner: Ric Flair

Backstage, Michael Cole tried to interview Nick Patrick and ask him if he’d reviewed the footage from the Regal/Edge match.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Steve Austin sneaks up on Stephanie McMahon
Before he could reply, however, your reviewer’s favorite referee was interrupted by Stephanie McMahon who wanted to brag about how her husband, Triple H, was going to kick everyone’s ass in the Royal Rumble, including Stone Cold Steve Austin’s.

Not content with that, Steph, who had been having problems with Austin’s wife Debra, promised to kick her ass too.

It was at that point that she was interrupted by Stone Cold himself.


I said she was interrupted by Stone Cold Steve Austin.


I said she was interrupted by Austin who just yelled WHAT at her until she left, leaving The Texas Rattlesnake to tell Michael Cole that he -Stone Cold- was going to win the Rumble match.


I said he told...Ah, forgot it.

Anyway, after a hype video for our Undisputed Championship match, we went down to ringside for Rock/Jericho.

World Wrestling Federation Undisputed Championship
WWF Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 -Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho faced The Rock
Every time Rock and Jericho met it was good stuff, and while this fan still prefers their awesome outing at No Mercy 2001 as the best of their three PPV bouts, this one was still fantastic.

Halfway through, Rock looked to have the match won with that terrible sharpshooter he used to do, only for Jericho’s allies Lance Storm and Christian to distract Earl Hebner so that the ref didn’t see Y2J tapping.

The match then continued, heading to the outside where the challenger hit the champion with a Rock Bottom off the Spanish announce table through the English language announces table.

With every twist and turn things got better and better, with Hebner once taking a bump and Nick Patrick running in, only to reveal his true heel colors and refuse to count what could have been a match-winning three count for The Great One.

Naturally, Rock planted Patrick with a Rock Bottom, but got kicked in the goolies and had his head rammed into an exposed turnbuckle before Jericho covered him with both feet on the ropes.

One three count later, Chris Jericho, the man it seemed nobody in the WWF had expected to win, had done just that.
Your Winner and Still Undisputed Champion: Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Shawn Michaels gets a little hot under the collar
As the carnage was cleared up and we prepared for the Rumble, we went to WWF New York where Shawn Michaels had been entertaining the crowd.

Speaking to Jim Ross, HBK said he’d enjoyed being a wrestling fan and watching ‘the two men most influential on [his] career,’ Ric Flair and Vince McMahon, going at it earlier on the show.

Encouraged to predict a Rumble winner by JR, Michaels didn’t pick his former DX buddy Triple H but said it was likely to be one of his fellow Texans, Stone Cold or The Undertaker.

Finally, it was time for what we’d all been waiting for:

The 2002 Royal Rumble Match
Featuring: Rikishi, Goldust, Big Boss Man, Bradshaw, Kurt Angle, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Triple H, Mr. Perfect, Val Venis, The Godfather, Lance Storm

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Undertaker was a bad ass
We started with Rikishi at number one and the returning Goldust getting a big flashy entrance as Howard Finkel announced him as ‘the individual who drew number two.’

Ross and Lawler made out like nobody had seen Goldust In decades, but it had only been about two and half years since he last left the WWF and he’d appeared at WCW Greed a year earlier.

Anyway, he and Rikishi got into some early brawling notable only for the fact that Goldust got thrown over the ropes a couple of times and only narrowly hung on.

The Big Boss Man, who had recently returned as an ally of Vince McMahon and Booker T was up next but didn’t last long and was done not long after number four entrant Bradshaw arrived.

Lance Storm, Al Snow and Billy ‘I’m Gay Now LOL’ Gunn also showed up, while Goldust and Rikishi showed themselves to be resilient by staying in the match, but it was all a little underwhelming as you never got the feeling that any of these wrestlers might actually win.

Then, finally, The Undertaker rolled into Atlanta, GA on his motorbike and business, in the immortal words of JR, was very much about to pick up.

Taker quickly cleaned house, leaving him ready for a showdown with the next two entrants, Matt and Jeff Hardy.

This was the payoff for an Angle on a recent Smackdown where he had destroyed both brothers and Lita, putting all three in the hospital.

Matt and Jeff had been at odds back at then but this beat down had brought them back together and they waged war on their aggressor until he finally eliminated them.

Then, Maven entered, and in one of the most famous moments in Royal Rumble history, eliminated Taker with a swift drop kick after Big Evil was distracted by The Hardyz on the outside of the ring.

Not one for taking the embarrassment too lightly, Undertaker unleashed holy hell on Maven, destroying him with a chair then thrashing him all the way though the crowd to the concession stand and ramming the Tough Enough winner’s head through a pop corn machine.

Other Royal Rumble 2002 highlights included:

The Godfather bringing out three different sets of hos for his big return and dancing with them for so long that by the time he finally got to the ring the ten count started for the next competitor to enter. As he did all this, King & JR talked about how he’d ‘gone legit’ by opening his own escort service.

WWE / WWF Royal Rumble 2002 - Stone Cold Steve Austin
Steve Austin getting a huge pop as he entered and quickly eliminated Christian, Chuck Palumbo, and Perry Saturn. While he was bored waiting for the next entrant, Austin threw Christian and Chuck back in the ring, Stone Cold Stunnered then again and then eliminated them a second time.

The Hurricane comically grabbing both Austin and Triple H by the throat for a chokeslam. The two - who had been beating the hell out of each other up until that point- reacted in pain, then looked at each other as if to say ‘what the hell is this?’ And then swiftly chucked the WWF’s resident superhero out of the ring.

Mr Perfect getting a huge ovation first for his entrance and then later for busting out a PerfectPlex then lasting all the way to the final four.

Perfect was joined in this group by Austin, Kurt Angle, and The Game. Surprisingly, Austin was the first to go, returning to the match moments later to take everybody out with a steel chair before Hennig finally got thrown over.

Last but not least, Angle thought he’d eliminated HHH and was celebrating when Hunter revealed he’d held onto the ropes.

One hard clothesline later and the 2002 Royal Rumble was over.
Your Winner: Triple H

While not the best Royal Rumble match ever, that one did at least have its moments and the final stretch leading into The Cerebral Assassin’s big victory was the most exciting part.

This show was built entirely around the last three matches and all of them were decent to great.

The Rumble match was the least entertaining of the three, though as I just mentioned, even that had its bright spots.

McMahon/Flair was surprisingly very enjoyable and Rock/Jericho was the undeniable highlight of the night.

Throw in a good Intercontinental title match, and the WWF was off to a good start to the year.

Other 2002 pro wrestling reviews: 

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.