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

Showing posts with label WWE. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WWE. Show all posts

Thursday, 1 July 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Backlash 2002

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Event poster
April 21, 2002, 
Kemper Arena, Kansas City, Missouri. 

Much had changed in the World Wrestling Federation in  the month between Wrestlemania X8 and Backlash 2002.

Following his iconic performance against The Rock, Hulk Hogan had fully severed ties with the New World Order and resurrected the Red and Yellow.

Yes, Hulkamania was well and truly running wild towards a nostalgia-fueled main event run for Hogan, leading to him challenging Triple H for the Undisputed title on tonight's show.

In the meantime, the company had also executed their first draft, telling us that Superstars and owners would be exclusive to either Raw or Smackdown and then completely disregarding that rule.

Literally on the very first show of the Brand Extension era, Smackdown boss Vince McMahon turned up on Raw and basically said "I know I'm not supposed to be here, but F**k it, I am anyway."

This made the show the first PPV since the first draft, as well as the first show at the Kemper Arena since the tragedy of Over the Edge 1999

Yet as much as it was a show of firsts, it was also a show of lasts, being the last PPV to take place in North America before the WWF became the WWE. It wasn't technically the last PPV of the brand era as the company would run a UK PPV a few weeks later, but since I'm not entirely show how much anyone actually gave a damn about those events, this was essentially the last hoorah for WWF PPV in America.

Anyway, with that long and winding intro out of the way, let's get on and review the show. 

The Game vs. The Icon 

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the event
Backlash 2002 show started with a dramatic opening video for tonight’s main event, an all-babyface clash between WWF Undisputed Champion Triple H and Hulk Hogan.

A compelling video, this one saw Hogan talking about how desperately he needed to become the champion to prove that the legacy of Hulkamania wasn’t all a dream while Triple H talked about how he would go to any lengths to retain the title.

It was good stuff as these videos usually always were.

Moving to the live show, crowd shots from the arena and WWF New York followed as Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to the show and Tajiri’s music hit in readiness for our opening contest.

World Wrestling Federation Cruiserweight Championship 
WWF Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson)

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Torrie Wilson
had recently turned heel, placing Torrie in the role of ‘reluctant girlfriend who puts up with her evil boyfriend’s crap but will predictably get sick of it and leave him.’

Almost immediately, this seemed like a way to realign her with Kidman, and honestly, if that meant we got more matches like this one, that’s not a bad thing at all.

This was a stormer of an opening match in which the highlight wasn’t any fancy move or special high spot, but simply the sheer ferocity with which the challenger tried to kick the champion’s head off.

Seriously, these were the kind of kicks that make you wince and go “ooof” even though you know full well that pro wrestling is a work.

It was good stuff, and only part of what made this the best PPV openers of the year so far.

In the end, Tajiri won thanks to Evil Mist and a roll up. 
Your Winner and new Cruiserweight Champion: Tajiri

Post-match, Michael Cole tried to get a word with the new champion but Tajiri gave his whole promo in Japanese so who knows what he said?

An APA Reunion 

Farooq and Bradshaw had been split up in the draft. In the last Smackdown before said draft took effect, the two had closed the APA office for good in what had, surprisingly, been a genuinely touching moment.

The following week on Raw, the New World Order had taken over the office and graffitied the door, leading to a feud of sorts between Bradshaw and Scott Hall.

Those two would meet next, but first, Farooq and Bradshaw reunited backstage with the latter clearly calling his partner “Ron” despite the announcers still exclusively using the name Farooq.

Scott Hall (w/ X-Pac) vs. Bradshaw (w/ Farooq)

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Farooq & Bradshaw reunited after being split by the draft
A year shy of a decade since the 123 Kid upset Razor Ramon, X-Pac accompanied Scott Hall to the ring and proceeded to give the nWo the numbers advantage against a solo Bradshaw until the APA’s music hit again and Farooq stormed to ringside to even the score.

It was a cool moment, sure, but surely it would have been even cooler if they’d made it a surprise and kept the reunion until after the match, rather than before it.

Speaking of the match, all I’m going to say is this:

Jim Ross spent most of the latter part of the bout repeatedly telling us that the match was “bowling shoe ugly,” which as we all know was JR’s way of saying “this is awful.”

Scott Hall won with a bowling shoe ugly roll-up.
Your Winner: Scott Hall 

Backstage, Ric Flair was in his office talking with his assistant/lackey/buddy/whatever-he-was Arn Anderson when Vince McMahon barged in with no other agenda than to basically troll the Nature Boy for a bit.

After spending some time winding up Flair, Vince gave him a sly nod and wink while hinting that Flair may not be the upstanding babyface he was pretending to be.

“I will NEVER be like Vince McMahon,” insisted Flair, adamantly.

“No,” replied Vince. “But you can try.”

OK, I laughed at that.

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

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Trish Stratus challenged Jazz for the women's title
Before this one got underway, Molly Holly marched to ringside to have a word with Trish Stratus.

Molly had recently turned heel, first by waffling Hurricane with a frying pan back at Wrestlemania X8, then by kicking his arse on the first post-Mania Smackdown, and then taking the stance that all of the other divas were sluts with low morals.

Holly had tried to beat Trish with a handful of tights to win a shot at Jazz’s title but Stratus had reversed the pin attempt, grabbed a handful of tights of her own and earned the win.

Tonight, Holly confronted Trish about her cheating ways and the two got into it for a bit before Jazz came down to get this short match underway.

Although it wasn’t great, it wasn’t awful either, and it was pretty clear that both women tried to do the best they could with what they had.

After a few minutes or so-so action, Jazz put the STF on her opponent to retain her title.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Jazz

Post match, some interviewer called Mr. Michael WhoTFAmI RandomDude tried to get a word with Jazz and pointed a microphone in her face but the women’s champion said nothing, probably because she had no idea who this stranger was.

Seriously, who was this dude? For a split second I thought it was Kevin Kelly, but there’s two problems with that theory:

The guy was too young to be Kevin Kelly
The guy looked nothing like Kevin Kelly.

He sounded like Chris Jericho and looked kinda like a British ventriloquist called Paul Zerdin and...never mind, I just found out his name is Marc Lloyd, though personally, I think Michael WhoTFAmI is a way better name.

Paul Heyman - Panty Sniffer

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Brock Lesnar wrestled his debut match against Jeff Hardy
The night after Wrestlemania 18, Brock Lesnar had made his debut by interfering in a Hardcore match between Maven and Al Snow and killing everybody involved dead.

For the next few weeks, the future Mr. Sable went around destroying people at random while his agent, Paul Heyman soaked it up. 

Recently, Heyman had tried to use having Lesnar in his camp to his advantage by playing with Lita’s underwear and insinuating that if she didn’t give him sexy times, he’d have Lesnar take out her boyfriend, Matt Hardy.

Lita didn’t give him sexy times, so Lesnar made good on the promise to beat Hardy up while Heyman frolicked around in a bag of Lita’s panties like a kid rustling through a haul of Halloween candy.

With Matt out of action, it was up to Jeff Hardy to avenge his brother in what would be Lesnar’s first official match.

First though, it was promo time.

In that promo, the sleazy panty sniffer put over Lesnar as The Next Big Thing.

To his credit, Heyman was at least correct on that one.

Jeff Hardy (w/ Lita) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Paul Heyman leads Brock Lesnar into battle
And so, Big Brock’s debut match saw him demolish Jeff Hardy from pillar to post in an utterly sadistic fashion.

An elevated squash, this was made all the more entertaining by the last-minute hope spot Jeff pulled out of his pocket, electrifying the crowd with a comeback that made him look -if only for a fleeting moment- that he might actually prevail.

Alas, it wasn’t to be Hardy’s night. 

Lesnar took great pleasure in pulverizing his opponent until Teddy Long was forced to stop the match to stop Jeff Hardy’s organs from literally being splattered all over the ring.
Your Winner via Referee Stoppage: Brock Lesnar  

After a quick look at the rivalry between Edge and Kurt Angle, the two locked up in our next match.

Kurt Angle vs. Edge 

And what a match it was.

This was very good indeed. It was one of those matches that looks like it might be a little underwhelming at first but then builds and builds into an all-out, balls-to-the-wall classic that has you on the edge of your seat.

Though it was definitely Edge’s finest hour as a solo star at this point in his career, that didn’t mean he was to walk away with a victory.

After a scorcher of a match, the Olympic Gold Medalist hit the Angle Slam for the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle

Jerry Lawler had enjoyed the match so much that he gave Kurt a standing ovation.

Chris Jericho’s Got Hurt Feelings

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Chris Jericho had nothing to do on the show
After a weird edit that it made it seem like they cut something out of the show, we jumped to Chris Jericho marching down to ringside.

The first-ever Undisputed Champion was out to bemoan the fact that he’d gone from main eventing Wrestlemania to not having a match on tonight’s card, all within the space of a month.

If you think about it, that’s a fairly legitimate complaint.

Still, despite not being booked, Jericho didn’t want all of that bouncing on a trampoline in his underoos to go to waste, so he lambasted the crowd, talked about his feelings being hurt, and then went home.

Taker Warns Flair

Well, he didn’t really warn him as much as he did walk into the Raw boss’s office, stare him down a bit and point a finger at him as if to say ‘just you watch yourself, mister.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship 
WWF Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Eddie Guerrero battled Rob Van Dam
After recently returning to the company, Eddie Guerrero made his first PPV appearance since WWA - The Revolution earlier that year and his first WWF PPV appearance since facing Brian Christopher WWF Insurrection 2001, all in the name of dethroning Rob Van Dam for the Intercontinental Championship.

To that end, he was successful. A quick smack upside his opponent’s head with the title belt and a beautiful frog splash gave Latino Heat the win, but that wasn’t what was really important here.

What was really important was that this match was awesome. Like, just non-stop solid wrestling that was a joy to watch. 

It even produced a chuckle at one point, though that was due to Jim Ross.

Giving the match a notable backstory, he and King talked about how both men used the frog splash as a finisher.

“Well, let me ask you, JR. Who was the first person in the WWF you saw using the frog splash?” Asked Lawler, insinuating that RVD had stolen the move.

“D’Lo Brown,” answered Ross, bluntly.

“Well, OK then,” replied King. “Who was the second?”

Everything about this match was a lot of fun.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Eddie Guerrero

After Jim Ross spent time shilling The Rock’s movie, The Scorpion King as though his life depended on it, we got a video package looking at how Steve Austin and The Undertaker had come to face off to earn a title shot.

That match was next.

Number One Contender’s Match for a shot at the Undisputed Championship 
The Undertaker vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Special Referee: Ric Flair

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Undertaker wrestled Steve Austin
Steve Austin
and The Undertaker had a weird of history of sometimes having excellent matches and sometimes being dull and tedious. 

Their matches at WWF Rock Bottom and WWF In Your House 15: A Cold Day in Hell didn’t do it for me at all whereas their their bouts at Summerslam 1998 and Judgement Day 2001 absolutely delivered. 

This one somehow managed to be the best and worst of Austin/Taker all rolled into one match. 

The first half was a very fun, engaging match with a lot to enjoy, but then the second half of a match that went nigh-on half an hour really started to drag.

The first part saw Austin bust out some technical wrestling and both match bringing their A-Game, but as time went on it gradually deteriorated.

At one point, Hall and X-Pac came and stood in the entranceway and watched the match.

They didn’t interfere or get involved in any way, they just stood there. By the time the match was over they were nowhere to be seen, making their presence entirely pointless.

Later, Flair got ref-bumped and spent ten days knocked out. I know Naitch was getting on a bit, but let’s not forget that he just wrestled a whole match with ‘Taker a month before and now we’re supposed to believe that one little bump could knock him out for ages?

Was there really something about putting on a referee shirt that made people absolute weaklings?

Anyway, after a long effort, Undertaker kicked a chair in Austin’s face and pinned him.

Stone Cold got his foot on the ropes but Flair didn’t see it and gave the fall to Booger Red.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Afterwards, Austin gave his rival a stunner and drank a beer while Jonathan Coachman showed Flair footage of the finish.

“Mr. Flair, what do you have to say about that?” Asked Coach.

“Aw, shit,” replied Flair.

Weird that they didn’t beep that.

World Wrestling World Tag Championship 
WWF Tag Team Champions Billy & Chuck (w/ Rico) vs. Maven & Al Snow

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Billy, Chuck, and Rico
I don’t care what anyone says, Billy & Chuck were an entertaining tag team. Adding Rico, their stylist, into the mix only made them more so.

Maven & Al Snow?

Not so much.

Maven’s whole gimmick was that he won Tough Enough yet wasn’t quite good enough to hang with the main roster, which doesn’t really say much about Tough Enough, does it?

Anyway, the match was fine and had some fun spots which elevated it above and beyond the ‘ cool down the crowd before the main event’ role it was so obviously meant to fulfil.

Unsurprisingly given that nobody cared about Maven & Al Snow, Billy & Chuck retained their titles.

Finally, it was time for our main event.

Undisputed World Wrestling Federation Championship 
Undisputed WWF Champion Triple H vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan 

WWE / WWF Backlash 2002 - Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H
Earlier in the show, a fan’s sign pointed out that Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan was essentially Triple H vs. Triple H and that’s all I’ve been able to think about for the whole show.

Obviously, this wasn’t a technical masterpiece, but if you’re watching a Hulk Hogan match for technical wrestling then you’re probably the same person that watches hardcore nudey films for the romance.

Besides, it was still very good, and probably the best actual wrestling match Hogan had been involved in for years. OK, so it didn’t have the same kind of Once in a Lifetime feel as his ‘Mania match, but Hogan vs. Rock was a spectacle first and a wrestling match second.

Hogan vs. Triple H was all about Hogan putting in some decent effort to prove he could hang with The Game...

...At least it was until the whole story boiled down to the champion wearing down the challenger with a figure four, a sleeper, and other “let’s lie on the mat and do nothing” holds which nearly sent this writer to sleep.

Eventually, things picked up and we got cameos from Chris Jericho and The Undertaker.

Y2J tried to help Hunter to win while ‘Taker apparently had his eye on using his title shot to face Hogan for the gold.

Neither were successful as both HHH and HHH saw off the invaders and proved that they wanted to do this without anyone’s help.

Eventually, after a good bit of Hulking Up, Hogan dropped the leg on Helmsley to win his first WWF title since Wrestlemania 9.
Your Winner and New Undisputed Champion: Hulk Hogan

Afterwards, a battered and bloody Triple H stared down Hogan with a vengeful look in his eye but then shook his hand before leaving the new champion to celebrate as this enjoyable show went off the air.

And yes, it really was an enjoyable show.

The main event may not have been the best match on the card, but it certainly exceeded expectations given the kind of stinkers Hogan had been putting on in WCW for the last few years of that company’s existence.

Elsewhere, Tajiri/Kidman, Edge/Angle and Guerrero/RVD were all great matches and even Austin/Taker had its moments.

All in all, Backlash 2002 was a fun show that you probably won’t regret watching.

Other 2002 pro wrestling reviews: 
More Backlash reviews:
Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on Facebook or Twitter @RetroPWrestling. 

Thursday, 10 June 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Wrestlemania X8

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 - Event poster
March 17, 2002
Toronto SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The event poster for Wrestlemania 18 declares the event to be "The Best Ever." 

Or maybe that hyperbolic tag line simply refers to the Icon vs. Icon match between Hulk Hogan and The Rock. 

If it's the former, then it's perhaps fair to say that this was one event that didn't necessarily live up to the hype. 

As we'll discuss later in this Wrestlemania X8 review, the event was good, but rarely comes up in conversations regarding the greatest 'Mania of all time. 

If it's the latter, then it may also be fair to say that the poster has a good point.

Nigh on 20 years later, Rock vs. Hogan remains an iconic match that is still talked about and revered to this day. 

Was it an all-time classic technical masterpiece? No, of course, but then...well..why don't we quit this intro right here and dive into the review?

Make Me a Superstar 

We began tonight’s show with a cold open, going straight to a live performance by Saliva of the Wrestlemania theme, Superstar.

I won’t lie, I do enjoy some of Saliva’s songs. Though they might have been lumped into the whole nu-metal thing, they do have a good energy about them that still gets my blood pumping but sadly most of that energy was completely lost in the vast space of the Toronto Skydome.

Though I’m sure they performed the best they could (all with shots of tonight’s superstars playing out on a screen behind them), the atmosphere just wasn’t there for this one.

When the band had finished playing, we got the usual Wrestlemania opening video emphasizing the historic nature of the event.

As we got shots of classic moments like the Shawn Michaels zip line entrance from Wrestlemania 12, Ultimate Warrior charging to the ring at Wrestlemania 6, and Hulk Hogan body slamming 8,000 lbs Andre The Giant in front of 35 million people at Wrestlemania 3, the likes of Undertaker, Ric Flair, and Hogan himself all told us that this was an event at least on par with -if not superior to- the Super Bowl.

Crowd shots followed, both live in the arena and back in WWF New York as Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler welcomed us to what he called a ‘global phenomenon.’

Ladies and gentlemen, Wrestlemania X8 was underway.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship 
WWF Intercontinental Champion William Regal vs. Rob Van Dam 

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 - William Regal begs off from RVD
Up first, Rob Van Dam made his Wrestlemania debut in a decent effort against defending Intercontinental Champion William Regal.

There’s a part of me that feels bad that RVD was one of the most popular stars during the Invasion yet had been swiftly bumped back down to the midcard rather than being given a more prominent role, and yet another part of me that’s just glad we got to see The Whole F’N Show do his thing on the big stage.

Of course, it helped that he had a credible opponent here.

Regal was as good as he always was and together the two opened the show not with a scorcher exactly, but with a fun little match which served its purpose well.

In the end, Regal went to use his patented brass knuckles on the challenger only for referee Brian Hebner to wrest them from him.

The distraction allowed Van Dam to deck his opponent and polish him off with the Five Star Frog Splash.
Your Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Rob Van Dam

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 - Christian makes fun of Diamond Dallas Page
Backstage, we were taken back to Raw, where Diamond Dallas Page had helped Christian beat Billy Gunn, only for the former tag team champion to turn on DDP.

That set us up with a match for tonight, but only after Christian got done bragging to Lillian Garcia about using Page to get back on winning form and then dumping him.

Ensuring he’d get a heel reaction tonight, Christian also bragged about ditching Toronto and moving to Florida as soon as he could.

World Wrestling Federation European Championship 
WWF European Champion Diamond Dallas Page vs. Christian

You have to admire Diamond Dallas Page. He first appeared at a Wrestlemania in this very arena driving Rhythm & Blues to the ring in his pink Cadillac. 
Years later, the ever-positive performer had gone from chauffeur to champion and was now defending a title on The Grandest Stage of Them All.

As a side note, I always wonder why the story WWE pushes is that Page drove Honky Tonk Man to the ring when it was Honky and Greg Valentine.

Anyway, for his part, Christian had Howard Finkel introduce him as ‘now hailing from Tampa, Florida’ to further raise the ire of his hometown audience.

The match itself was OK. Not great, sure, and certainly not a Wrestlemania classic by any stretch, but certainly the kind of thing you’d enjoy watching to kill time on Raw, with a couple of close near falls making for a pretty exciting finish.

Speaking of which, Page blasted his challenger with the Diamond Cutter to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: Diamond Dallas Page

Post-match, DDP congratulated Christian on not losing his temper in front of 67,000 people and the ‘gazillions’ watching at home. 

Naturally, that spurrred the Canadian on to have a temper tantrum of epic proportions.

Page then left through the crowd to bask in their adulation.

Finally, The Rock Has Come Back... To Toronto!  

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 -  The Rock makes Coach say his prayers
Backstage, The Rock was on fine form as he told Jonathan Coachman that he couldn’t wait for Hulkamania to run wild on him.

Turning his attention to Coach, Rock asked the interviewer whether he’d taken vitamins and said his prayers then lambasted him for not checking in with The Almighty.

Shocked by Coach’s lack of prayers, Rock forced him onto his knees to pray and was even more flabbergasted when Coach's prayer started with the words “What up, G?

Kicking Coach aside, Rock returned his attentions to Hogan and built up tonight’s match like only The Great One could.

The Coachman stuff was incredibly funny, the rest of the promo was just incredible.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship 
WWF Hardcore Champion Maven vs. Goldust

This wasn’t much of a match.

Sure, it started off well enough with your usual trash can shots (trash cans painted gold, obviously) and mindless brawling. 

Then, about two minutes in, both men nailed each other with trash can lids. Seizing the opportunity, Spike Dudley ran down and pinned Maven to become the new champion and that was that.
Your Winner and New Hardcore Champion: Spike Dudley

A second later, Crash Holly came running down and he and Goldust both chased the new champion off through the crowd.

It was all over in about three minutes.

Story Time With Drowning Pool

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 -  Drowning Pool performed
Up next, we were informed that ‘red hot rock band’ Drowning Pool were going to tell us the story of the rivalry between Chris Jericho and Triple H.

Of course, they didn’t tell us why such story. Instead, they played their song Tear Away while clips of The Game, The Undisputed Champion, and Stephanie McMahon played out on the screen behind him.

Again, this was a decent song and a decent performance, but it was simply lost in the vastness of the Skydome.

It was such an ill-placed idea that when singer Dave Williams implored the crowd to scream, he was met by what sounded like total silence.

Of course, the sad thing here is that Williams would pass away due to heart failure just five months after this event.

The Hurricane is Your New Hardcore Champion

On a brighter note, we next went backstage where Spike Dudley and Crash Holly continued to brawl over the Hardcore title.

Al Snow put in a cameo, driving a golf truck with Teddy Long as a passenger and ploughing it straight into a stack of cardboard boxes in a pretty funny moment.

Spike managed to escape, but seconds later was KO’d by The Hurricane who made the pin and became the new champion.

Kurt Angle vs. Kane

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 -  Kane vs. Kurt Angle
Before the bell, Kurt Angle took to the microphone to get some heat by ragging on the Canadian Figure Skating couple of Jamie SalĂ© and David Pelletier after the two had been involved in a scandal at that year’s Winter Olympics.

He then went on to face Kane in a match that was decent but very unremarkable.

OK, so Kane was a spectacle and a competent performer, but this felt like a waste of someone with Angle’s talent and star power and felt very much like it had been thrown together just to ensure the two would have a ‘Mania match.

The actual action was OK, but I doubt this was a match anyone other than those involved really cared about.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle 

Out in the back, Hurricane ran away to avoid anyone fighting him for the hardcore title.

Unfortunately for the World Wrestling Federation’s resident super hero, he ran straight into the women’s changing room and had to hide behind a screen when The Godfather’s hos came in.

When one such lady of the night removed her top, Hurricane raised a broom which made his silhouette look like he had a huge, odd-shaped erection.

At that point, The Godfather himself showed up and chased off The Hurricane.

This was nowhere near as funny as it was meant to be.

‘Taker Wants Flair...’Taker Gets Flair

Up next, we were shown a video that highlighted the rivalry between The Undertaker and Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Flair had interfered in ‘Taker’s match back at No Way Out 2002, prompting The Phenom to challenge him to a match.

When the WWF co-owner had refused a match, ‘Taker had beaten up Arn Anderson and David Flair to get Nature Boy to finally step in the ring.

As a result, Nature Boy had temporarily relinquished all authority, leading to Vince McMahon making the match a No DQ.

No Disqualification 
The Undertaker vs. Nature Boy Ric Flair 

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 - The Undertaker went 10-0 against Ric Flair
Competing in his first ‘Mania match since Wrestlemania 8, The Nature Boy went at it with The Dead Man in a wild, bloody, and brilliant brawl.

Two thirds of the match saw Undertaker battering Flair from pillar to post and backing again, busting his opponent up and prompting JR to pay tribute to Gordon Sollie by referencing the proverbial crimson mask.

In the last third, Flair made a valiant comeback and even managed to get his nemesis into the Figure Four, only for ‘Taker to slap a hand around Naitch’s throat and muscle out.

Moments later, Arn Anderson put in a cameo with a crowd-popping spine buster but even that wasn’t enough to lay The Dead Man to rest.

‘Taker battled back, hit Flair with the Tombstone piledriver and went 10-0 at Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Post match, ‘Taker took out Little Naitch Charles Robinson too.

Booker T Went to a Highly Educated University 

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 - Michael Cole interviews Booker T
Out in the back, Michael Cole reminded Booker T that Edge had not only taken an endorsement deal that Booker believed was his, but had also questioned the former Harlem Heat member’s intellect.

I’m a highly intelligent man. I got glasses don’t I?,” scoffed the five time, five time, five time WCW champion with a seriousness that was pretty funny.

Proving just how smart he was, Booker boasted about how good he’d done on his thesis about Einstein’s theory of relatives.

Now can you dig that, sucka?

Booker T vs. Edge 

Much was made of Edge being in the crowd back at Wrestlemania 6 and this being his big homecoming, so it’s a shame that the actual match was fairly disappointing.

That’s not to say that they didn’t try. Both men worked hard and even did something different by making this the first match on the show that didn’t start with one wrestler attacking the other before the bell.

It was fine, and even had a hot little finish in which Edge did his own Edge-a-Roonie and went through a series of reversals before hitting the Edgecution for the win, but it also felt very flat.
Your Winner: Edge 

Backstage, Mighty Molly betrayed Hurricane by knocking him out with a frying pan to become the third hardcore champion of the evening.

That was followed by a video for the upcoming Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall match.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall (w/ Kevin Nash)

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 -  Kevin Nash accompanies Scott Hall for his match with Steve Austin
This would be the first time since Wrestlemania 13 that Austin had appeared on a Wrestlemania card but wasn’t in the main event.

Meanwhile, this was Scott Hall’s first Wrestlemania match since he defeated Jeff Jarrett Wrestlemania 11.

The match was fun for what it was.

Going back to the same formula as almost every match on the card, Austin attacked before the bell because you know, why bother doing anything different.

From there, things descended into what was pretty much a handicap match, with Kevin Nash continually running interference until a gaggle of referees made him leave.

Nash’s appearance, though it made complete sense, seemed out of place. He wore his full wrestling attire and made the whole thing look like when you’re playing a wrestling video game and choose your own manager.

That left us open to some more brawling until Austin hit the stunner and Hall flew a good five feet in the air.

It was a glorious end to a match that had been entertaining without being exceptional.

Indeed, while this was a far cry from Austin’s usual main event level match, it was still good for what it was.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin 

Post match, Austin had himself a beer bash as if to get over the fact that his ‘Mania match mattered so little this year.

Welcome to Axxess

Up next, we were shown highlights from the WWF Axxess event.

The weirdest part was that the thought crossed somebody’s mind that what the event needed was a statue of Stacy Kiebler’s legs and ass that fans could touch and have their photo taken with.

The best part, however, was Booker T being mad about not being included in a video game that was released before he joined the company and then choosing to play as Krispin Wah and delighting in whooping some little kid’s butt.

Get the Tables!

Hey, you know what this Wrestlemania really needs?

More nu-metal!

As we got ready for the four team title match, Saliva came out to sing The Dudley Boyz theme from Forceable Entry while Stacy danced with the singer and Bubba Ray and D’Von rocked out.

It was a decent performance and all, but I couldn’t help but chuckle at the idea of a band singing a really angry song about a piece of furniture.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship Four-Team Elimination Match
WWF Tag Team Champions Billy & Chuck vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley w/ Stacy Kiebler) vs. The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy)

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 -  Stacy Keibler dances with Saliva
& Chuck had been enjoying a sizeable push as of late which sort of took the element of unpredictability out of what was otherwise a decent tag team match.

Farooq and Bradshaw got eliminated early on as they almost always did in these situations, and from there the match started to get better the longer it went on.

Things really hit a climax when Billy Gunn pushed D’Von off the top rope through a table. In the ring, Matt and Jeff Hardy took out Bubba Ray with a Twist of Fate/Swanton Bomb combo.

That led us to a fun -if short- announcers change between the reigning champions and their remaining challengers, culminating in Billy clocking Jeff with a title belt so that Chuck Palumbo could cover him for the predictable three count.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Billy & Chuck

Post-match, the champions stood over Stacy Kiebler as she checked on a destroyed D’Von Dudley.

Hogan Needs to Face The Rock on His Own

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 -  Hulk Hogan tells Hall and Nash to stay out of his match
Backstage, Hall complained to Nash that his loss to Austin had been a fluke. Nash agreed and promised that the two of them would take out The Rock when The Great One faced Hulk Hogan next.

As if on cue, Hollywood himself then turned up and insisted that he had to face The Rock on his own and beat him up in exactly the same way that he had beaten up Rocky Balboa in Rocky 3.

The Outsiders agreed, but when Hogan left, Nash insisted that he and Hall would still make their presence felt.

Elsewhere in the building, Christian slammed a door in Molly Holly’s face and became our new Hardcore Champion.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania X8 - The Rock and Hulk Hogan face off
Given that I’d stopped watching wrestling altogether back in 2002, I’d never actually seen this match until now.

Of course, I’ve read about it hundreds of times, but even that couldn’t stop this long-time fan from getting chills as Hogan and Austin came nose to nose in the center of the ring.

The crowds were firmly behind Hulk, and that seemed at first to not only surprise Hulk Hogan the wrestler but also to genuinely delight Terry Bollea the man.

The actual in-ring action may not have been a technical masterpiece but was an absolute joy to watch because of the insane ovation that Rock and Hogan receive for every single move.

After an incredible performance that was more about the experience than moves, The Great One pinned the Immortal One but only after three Rock Bottoms and a People’s Elbow.
Your Winner: The Rock. 

Afterwards, a gracious Hogan shook The Rock’s hand, but this brought out Hall & Nash. 

The duo attacked their former leader, only for Rock to turn to ring and aid his one-time nemesis in seeing off The Outsiders.

Bringing this segment to a close, Rock urged Hogan to do his famous post-match pose down routine. The Hulkster obliged, and this fan sat watching the whole thing with the kind of beaming smile the Cheshire Cat would be proud of.

I watch a lot of wrestling to keep this blog going week after week, but moments like Hogan vs. Rock at Wrestlemania 18 remind me why I love it.

Setting Records

After a brief clip of The Big Show hoisting some young fan onto his arm over at WWF New York, Howard Finkel told us that Wrestlemania X8 had set a new Toronto Skydome record of 68,237.


World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship Triple Threat Match
WWF Women’s Champion Jazz vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus 

Jazz may have been the champion, but she was easily the least over of the three women in this short women’s championship match, especially when Trish Stratus came out doing a whole Canadian Patriot deal.

So it was a surprise to see her retain her title after a few minutes of solid but forgettable action.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Jazz

Out in the parking lot, Maven caught Christian with the same roll-up that would later prove to be the only move anyone fighting for the 24/7 championship would be capable of doing.

He got the three count and escaped with the same title he had started the night with.

Undisputed Championship 
Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Triple H

WWE / WWF Wrestlemania 18 - Chris Jericho & Stephanie McMahon
HHH came down to Drowning Pool playing their version of his theme music from Forceable Entry.

It wasn’t the greatest song in the world, but at least Dave Williams remembered the lyrics much better than Lemmy had the year before at Wrestlemania 17.

The actual match was much better then I’ve seen people give it credit for, but I absolutely get that trying to stay invested in this one after a long three-plus hour show was not easy task.

The story was basically Jericho going after The Game’s leg and Hunter continually fighting back until landing the Pedigree for the predictable ending.

As obvious as the outcome might have been, most of the actual action here was solid.
Your Winner and new Undisputed Champion: Triple H

Post-match, the new champion posed with his titles before we cut to an excellent video package recapping all of the highlights from the 18th edition of Wrestlemania.

Wrestlemania X8 is never going to go down as one of the greatest ‘Manias of all time.

Most of the action never got past being “decent” and the show suffered from a weird booking trend in which eight out of the 11 matches on the card started in exactly the same way:

With the first person to make their entrance attacking their opponent prior to the bell.

Still, that aside, there were a few stand out moments.

The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair was a good match and Rock vs. Hogan was on a whole different level.

Much like Hogan’s last ‘Mania match in the same venue, this wasn’t so much about pure wrestling moves, it was about the spectacle, the crowd participation and the overall joy of seeing two larger than life characters collide.

Though Hogan technically lost, he was undeniably the star of the match. So,  it was entirely fitting that a man who’s name had long been synonymous with the World Wrestling Federation, and whose stardom was largely responsible for Wrestlemania’s early success, should be the same man to take the spotlight in the last Wrestlemania before the WWF became WWE.

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, 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.