Are we going to finally get some more Backlash matches announced? Let’s find out together. It’s the 11th April 2002 and we’re in the Convention Centre of Tucson, Arizona for episode #138 of WWF Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Triple H takes on Kurt Angle in a non-title match! Sounds good, but oh God, I just saw the thumbnails on the Network and remembered what happens with Vince on this episode…
Attitude splash, “Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Tucson. Tonight, Chris Jericho takes on Edge, while the Game and your Olympic Hero have the main event. The words are barely out of Cole’s mouth when Kurt Angle makes his entrance. He’s still unhappy about the Backlash main event decision. “Puh, and might I add, lease!”. Angle doesn’t think people want to see Hulk Hogan challenge for the title, because he’s tougher than the Iron Sheikh and Nikolai Volkoff. Now Ric Flair has decided Taker or Austin will be the next challenger, so Angle is bereft. Tonight he’s going to prove he’s the best on the roster. “The only “what” “you people” (drink!) are going to be chanting is “what a butt-kicking Triple H is getting””. Nice. He tries to lead the crowd in some coordinated “It’s True” chants, but gets only “whats” instead.
Edge comes out to stop this dead end of a verbal battle, thankfully. He says Angle’s Olympic win was inspiring, uplifting and, most importantly, six years ago. It’s time for Kurt to focus on the present, and he challenges him to a match at Backlash. It’ll be Angle’s honour to kick some Edge ass. Edge responds by saying something Kurt doesn’t hear very often: “It’s a date”. Nice, again. He turns to the issue of the “what” chants, and suggests Angle deserves a different response: “You suck”. Genuinely amazing bit of comedy as Angle freaks, demands his music be played, then realises too late this will just coordinate the “You Suck” chants even better, and freaks again.
After the break, Angle paces in the locker room when Jericho arrives. Y2J will get revenge on Edge tonight for his interference last week. They pipe in “You Suck” chants for Angle’s dialogue here, and it sounds really forced. Angle decries long-haired blonde Canadians who dress like rock stars…except for Jericho. Comedy masterclass, this episode. Jericho proposes that he and Angle watch each others backs tonight, and Angle agrees.
Only 12 minutes of intro segments, much shorter than usual. First match is up.
Tajiri w/Torrie Wilson vs The Hurricane
Wilson out wearing a purple kimono outfit. Commentary makes out like she should be humiliated, but I think she looks cool, it’s different at least. I guess the idea is that jealous Tajiri is forcing her to wear it because foreign clothes are evil. Cole announces that Tajiri is getting a re-match for the Cruiserweight Title at Backlash, and you’d think they would at least give that news a backstage segment or something but no, it’s just Cole randomly tossing it out during Hurricane’s entrance.
Tajiri refuses a handshake, and we start with a cool hip-toss chain, before Helms hits a huge somersault tope over the top rope to Tajiri on the outside. Back in, Cane to the top for an elevated Sunset Flip for two. Why isn’t Helms in the title picture? Goes for a reverse suplex, Tajiri out to hit a roundhouse, Scoop Slam, knee drop as Wilson claps along without enthusiasm. Chops, attempted handspring elbow but Cane dodges, only to get a superkick to the back of the head. Cane out, avoids a springboard crossbody, but not another kick to the head. Back in, Tajiri to the top, intercepted, and Cane hits a rana. On commentary, Tazz claims Wilson was “giving me the eye” last week, and Cole is as incredulous as me.
Hurricane with an Exploder Throw, corner charge countered into a Tarantula, but that’s counter-countered into the Eye Of The Hurricane, two off a rope-break. Cane going for a kick, blocked, and Tajiri hits the Buzzsaw for the 1, 2, 3 in just under three-and-a-half.
Verdict: Fine, one crazy air sport from Hurricane that it maybe didn’t need.
Tajiri orders Wilson into the ring to admonish her in Japanese again. I’d love to know what he was saying. Tajiri is so busy that he misses Kidman taking to the top rope to hit a missile drop-kick before retreating. Cole tries to excuse Kidman’s actions and Tazz’s response is “Waa, waa, waa, waa, wah”. Scintillating.
Backstage Stacy Kiebler walks up to Vince’s office in a business suit that shows off lots of legs. Vince isn’t around, so she makes herself comfortable on the coach, to the crowds general delight.
Climacool brings you the Slam Of The Week. It’s Albert beating up Scotty 2 Hotty last week, and I suppose the Baldo Bomb is kind of a slam? The inevitable match is next.
Albert vs Scotty 2 Hotty
Albert out with new music and in his A-Train look for the first time. That is a hairy man. Scotty stops his entrance dancing to give Albert a death stare. Only two ways this is ending, a roll-up for S2H or him getting annihilated.
Beatdown from Albert (“Scotty didn’t even get to take off his jacket!” an outraged Cole says). Scotty trying to rally back but a blow to the back of his head cuts him off. Cole calls S2H a “great kid”, and I think he’s nearly 30 here? Catapult into the ropes looks rough, beatdown, but Scotty back with a chop, then a missile drop-kick to the chest, but Albert able to power out of the pin quick. Scotty avoids a corner charge, Albert dodges a Bulldog, but after a drop-kick takes his legs out he is Bulldogged. W-O-R-M, but Albert is up to nail Scotty with a pump-kick. Baldo Bomb and that is it in just over two-and-a-half.
Winner: The future A-Train, and it was an annihilation.
Verdict: A set-up to establish heel Albert, so I guess it worked.
Albert isn’t done, adding a big Scoop Slam, another, then a Vader Bomb, and this brings out Rikishi. Albert fakes a withdrawal, but gets a kick to the face when he tries an ambush. Albert does stalk off this time. Tazz is unimpressed with Kish: “Albert had a bone to pick with Scotty, and he picked it out of Scotty’s body”. Wow.
Backstage, Vince is delighted to see Stacey in his office. She wants to know if he has an answer to her offer to be his PA. There are a few other candidates however, and McMahon is planning to interview them all in the ring, and if you’re anything like me you’re getting that queasy feeling in your stomach. Kiebler insists she will give Vince an offer he can’t refuse.
Elsewhere, an interviewer waits outside the dressing room of Hulk Hogan. She’s going to have to keep waiting.
Elsewhere elsewhere, the Tag Champs and Rico walk up to Maven. Rico runs down Maven’s bad clothes and eyebrows before Al Snow arrives to ask “Wolverine” where the rest of the X-Men are. You only get this quality of comedy in the WWF folks. Rico suggests Maven is a fashion emergency, Maven says Rico would be the expert on waxing (is that an insult?) and Rico has to pull Billy away, lest he mess his hair. Chuck and Snow have a date tonight, and Chuck insists that Al not be late, before blowing him a kiss. Snow looks disgusted. A kiss from a man! How uncouth!
Back to the first elsewhere, and Hogan has shown up. He says everything has happened so fast, but there’s nothing he wants more in life than to prove Hulkamania can conquer all. He bigs up Triple H’s injury return, Rumble win and Mania success, and is then interrupted by Jericho. Y2J says even if Hogan loses, he’ll still be a living legend, but Triple H has more to lose. He warns Hogan that HHH will sink to any depths to win, and predicts the match will not end with a handshake this time. Whatchagonnado, and Hogan gets a pat on the cheek. He looks displeased as Jericho walks off. So I guess we might see Hogan at some point in the next match then? God knows he won’t be wrestling tonight.
Chris Jericho vs Edge
This one brought to you by The Scorpion King, and I guess that’s as good a time to mention that The Rock has gone on hiatus from the Fed for a couple of months, presumably to plug that movie. It was alright. Smackdown might suffer from his absence, but it gives other guys the chance to step up as a lead face, and Edge could certainly be that guy. I mean, who else is there? Hogan sure, but Benoit is still a bit aways from his return, Rikishi isn’t at that level anymore and that just leaves cruiserweights and undercard guys.
Lock-up, Jericho with shots and chops, then runs into a spinning heel kick. Flapjack, elevated punches and now Edge with chops. Sign in the crowd “Jericho gets no heat”. Harsh. Y2J back body-dropped to the outside off a charge, then sent flying into the announce desk with a Baseball Slide. Ringside brawling with Edge in charge, back in, Edge to the top, and hits a crossbody for two. Jericho uses the ref as a shield and gets in a rake to the eyes then a clothesline to take the advantage, Rope choke as the “has-been” chants rain down. Running sit-down, standing suplex, but the cocky cover only gets two.
Edge mounts his comeback, gets two off a schoolboy, Jericho back with his own hard forearm, Edge with big chops and then dodges a charge where Jericho ends up with his shoulder slamming into the ringpost. Both men down but answer a count of eight, Edge with shots, flying forearm, clothesline, then a second rope Sunset Flip but Jericho rolls through, looking for the Walls but reversed into a roll-up for two. Edge with the facebuster, and here come Angle. He takes a spear, Jericho able to hit a bulldog but Edge gets the knees up on the Lionsault. Modified neckbreaker gets two for Edge, Jericho looking for the Walls again but then catapults Edge instead, straight into Tim White. Edge locks on the Edgeacater, Jericho tapping but no ref to see it and Y2J able to get some room with a clothesline. He grabs a chair, just waiting for Hogan, Edge hits a spear, slow count and Jericho out at two. Angle hangs Edge on the ropes, Jericho with a roll-up, and with an armful of tights Jericho gets the pin just over seven.
Winner: Chris Jericho, a bit of a badly needed win actually.
Verdict: Decent for TV, these two can go, and I encourage them to keep going.
A furious Edge pursues Angle to the back. After replays they brawl backstage, and Jericho intervenes to assist Angle. Edge beaten down, and he takes an Angle Slam on the concrete. Ankle Lock locked in, and now Hogan turns up (“He’s doing the right thing!” says Cole, please). He lays in some shots and the heels retreat.
After the break we get replays of this backstage set-up for a tag next week, and then, sigh, McMahon makes his entrance. The ring has been set-up with red carpet, a desk and some nice chairs. “Get Lost Vince” sign in the crowd, I wish. He soaks in the boos, and explains that he has been looking to hire a PA for a while now. Said PA will need to appear to the general public, so that’s why he’s doing the interviews out here. Amazing that he’s trying to find a reason in kayfabe for this. Cole and Tazz agree it’s a great idea.
Out comes candidate #1. who gets boos because she’s in a business suit and looks like a librarian, and I mean an actual one, not a Pornhub one. Tazz thinks she’s the one, and laughs as McMahon calls her “toots”. She’s Sylvia Johnson (“Johnson!?” says Tazz, Jesus Christ) and she lists off her office qualifications as the crowd boos. McMahon says she isn’t his type “and don’t let the door hit you…oh yeah, we don’t have doors in the ring”. Candidate #2 is a man, and this is enough for him to get “asshole” chants. McMahon just tells him to get out, and said candidate flees for the hills (“He gave him a fair shot” says Tazz). Vince demands the next candidate and this one is a woman, blonde, and Vince says “You’re more my type” (“Yeah, she’s a woman” says Tazz, like we needed that explained). “We Want Puppies” as she discusses her typing speed. She’s happy to do “personal favours” and McMahon is happy, but of course there is one more candidate.
Out comes Kiebler, and the crowd pops big. Candidate #3 is told to take a hike, and Stacey says she’s going to show Vince her qualifications. So, if you’ve seen the meme you know how this goes, and that is all this is good for, the McMahon reaction memes. Heinous stuff altogether, but you can’t deny it’s what the 2002 crowd wanted. Vince literally falls over with this display, and says “You’re hired!”. Cole agrees that she has great qualifications. Not you too Michael! Vince and Stacey walk off arm in arm. Awful, awful stuff.
With that rubbish over, Cole and Tazz briefly discuss the Undisputed Title situation, before Tazz gets cut off by a commercial break. Whoops. When we’re back we see a collection of the undercard walking backstage, we’ve got Funaki, Hardcore Holly, Hugh Morrus, Chavo Guerrero (his time was about to come), DDP and Christian. Cole lets us know that there are bets being made on some “feat of strength” about to be attempted by Mark Henry.
Elsewhere Vince is back in his office, when D-Von Dudley arrives at his door, in a suit. He has found himself, and he’s found “the man himself”. He’s been given a mission, to concern himself with saving sinners. To do this, he needs a benefactor. He quotes some of the Good Book, “Testify!”, and Vince thinks D-Von helping the sinners of the world is a great idea. They have a deal, and welcome to the roster Reverend D-Von! Lets see how long he’s pushed.
Elsewhere elsewhere, the undercard gathers around a limo, which Henry plans on holding back while Test, of all people, lays on the gas, for 30 seconds. Henry gets in position, Test floors it, but when he hits the 30 seconds Test just adds more power, having lost his bet. “The accelerator was stuck!” Test flings some money at a prone Henry and stalks off. Bit of a weird set-up for a match.
Chuck w/Billy & Rico vs Al Snow w/Maven
I sense a Tag Title match being set-up. “Rico Does My Nails” is an odd sign, is that pro or anti? Crowd actually pops for “What does everybody want?” and I think this is my first Al Snow match since watching the terrible main event of Living Dangerously. He seemed like a megastar in the making then going by crowd reaction, but here he is in later days of his career, going nowhere fast. Chuck on the attack quick, but floored by a running crossbody. Snow laying on the offence, but then takes a hard clothesline after a Rico distraction, Belly-to-belly suplex, then a second, two. Going for the third but Snow out of it, running clothesline, back body-drop, looking for the Snow Plough but as Rico distracts the ref Billy pulls Snow’s legs out from under him. Tazz calls Cole a “genius happy man” when he complains about Rico.
In the ring Snow hits a sit-down spinebuster for two and Rico again distracts the ref and that’s enough for Maven who chases him into the crowd. Strange moment where Rico seems to somersault over the barricade, gets leaped over by Maven, and then Maven has to wait for him to keep running before he can continue pursuing. Weird. In the ring Chuck gets a near fall off a Billy interference spot that the cameras miss, superkick gets two. Looking for Snake Eyes, Snow out of it, Snow Plough, Maven stops Billy getting involved and that’s it in just under three-and-a-half.
Winner: Al Snow, and we don’t get the avalanche of heads this time.
Verdict: Surprised this lasted as well as it did, but good to see an actual feud for the Tag Titles being developed.
Tazz actually praises Maven, breaking the heel mode for a bit. Snow and Maven celebrate up the ramp as we go to break.
Backstage, Triple H is prepping for the main event when Hogan arrives. He offers to watch the Champ’s back if Jericho interferes in his match. Triple H reminds Hogan that they’re down to face each other in ten days and “it won’t be a battle of ego’s like your match with Rock”. Ohhhhh. He adds that if Hogan barges into his locker room again, there will be trouble. He takes care of his own business, so doesn’t need Hogan’s help tonight. He’s the top dog, the best, the man, the King of Kings (drink!), the Game, that damn good. It’s every man for himself. Hogan is unperturbed and walks off. Did we need three minutes of Triple H praising himself here?
Elsewhere, Kurt Angle heads to the ring. The main event is next.
Kurt Angle vs Triple H (non-title)
15 minutes left when Triple H’s entrance started, 12-and-a-half when the bell rings jeez. The ramp isn’t that long. Circling, lock-up, wrist-lock from Angle, head-lock from HHH, then sends Angle down with a shoulder block. Rinse and repeat, Triple H avoids a leapfrog and floors Angle with a right hand instead. Another head-lock, now Angle gets the shoulder block, another dodged leapfrog, another right hand floors Angle. Going for the Pedigree, countered into a Sunset Flip, and HHH uses the opportunity to pull down Angle’s shorts to expose a thing, to the crowds general delight. To the outside, Kurt rammed into the announce table, and then a smack to the ass. A lot of ass talk tonight, eh Jim? Angle manages to get the advantage and send the Champ into the ringsteps, back in and finally his ass is covered, which actually causes the crowd to die.
Three Germans in a row gets two, and looks like Kurt is bleeding from the mouth, might have happened off the table spot. Angle cuts off a comeback temporarily with a rake to the eyes, then hits a belly-to-belly for two. Sleeper for a bit, big “Angle Sucks” chants, Triple H looks for the reverse suplex, Angle lands on his feet but then gets hit with a hard-looking DDT. Both men down but back up at a count of eight. Triple H with that standing knee, neckbreaker, and hits a clothesline off a corner whip. Tazz says Triple H has a “smashmouth” style. Well, the years keep coming and the Game don’t stop winning. Spinebuster to Angle gets two before Jericho arrives to pull Tim White out.
He gets catapulted over the top rope when he goes to attack, Triple H looking for the Pedigree but gets a Bulldog from Jericho instead. Lionsault, huge “Hogan” chants, Angle with the cover but only two on a slow count. An enraged Jericho drops an elbow on Tim White, then he and Angle beatdown the Champ. The inevitable rescue arrives, the heels get thrown into each other, big boot to Angle, Jericho clotheslined out, and Hogan follows, brawling up the ramp. Crowd big into Hogan, in the ring Triple H hits the Pedigree for the win in just over nine.
Winner: It’s all about the Game, unless it’s all about Hogan.
Verdict: Bit slow for a main event, before Smackdown tried to one-up Raw with interference spots. Was only missing Edge.
After the match Triple H is on the mike to address Hogan, who has fought Jericho off. Hogan takes to the ring to stand face-to-face with HHH. We get the expected back-and-forth about staying out of my business/you are my business, brother. As Hogan goes to leave Angle attacks Triple H from behind, and pushes him into Hogan. Oh no, a misunderstanding! Hogan is pissed, hulks up a bit, and lays into the Game. Big boot, Atomic Leg Drop, and Hogan stands tall with the strap before Jericho appears to attack him from behind. It’s a heel beatdown, with Angle and Jericho both getting in belt shots. The heels stand tall as we go off air.
Best Match: Jericho/Edge, two guys who I think could have a great feud in time.
Best Wrestler: You know what, Al Snow didn’t look too shabby out there, for a guy who was rarely getting on TV.
Worst Match: Hmm, I suppose the main event, unless we can say the job interview segment.
Worst Wrestler: I guess Scotty wasn’t up to all that much tonight, just a crash test dummy to get heel Albert over.
Overall Verdict: It was OK, and just needed more wrestling. One of the non-wrestling segments was absurdly stupid and the main event story feels like too many hangers-on have been sucked into its orbit. Good job selling the main event of Backlash though. Onto the go-homes.
Quick Thoughts On Money In The Bank 2021
Usos/Mysterios – The best Kick-Off match I have seen in a while, and the crowd was hot as hell. Why wasn’t this on the main card? Give it a look.
Womens MITB – Liked this one, no ridiculous spots, everyone got a bit of shine. Negatives were the Bliss stuff, which has gotten so tired, and Tamina, who has been at this level too long to look this bad. Positives were Nikki, Asuka and Vega. Liked the finish. Watchable.
Styles & Omos/Vikings Raiders – This was weirdly plodding, with War Machine looking a bit out of sorts and Omos’ schtick not melding well with them at all. Styles couldn’t carry them all. Skippable.
Lashley/Kingston – Stop. Squashing. Kofi. Miss.
Flair/Ripley – Honestly, I skipped it. WWE seems intent on keeping this going, and I don’t need to see Flair jobbing out Ripley again to know it’s still a bad idea. There are a dozen women between the main roster and NXT who deserve this level of attention more than her. Pass.
Men’s MITB – Brilliant match-up, eight guys that never went too far with the spots and told a few good stories along the way to the right guy winning. And that big air from Ricochet! Push that man to the moon. Big E as a future Reigns foil is what I want to see too. Must see.
Reigns/Edge – Reigns’ current style, where it takes twenty minutes to go from entrance to the match starting proper, and then this slow, methodical style in the subsequent 30 minute match, can really grate, and I felt that a lot here. That, and I never thought Edge really had a shot. Him and Rollins should be good though. Plus, Big Match John! Now there’s a man who has earned some part-time dates. Give it a look.
Overall – It was alright. The MITB matches were the stand-out, but after that you’re looking at the Kick-Off for the best stuff and there were two total howlers of booking in big title matches. Nice to see crowds back all the same. Onward we go.
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