NFB Watches Wrestling #65: Raw (15/04/2002)

It’s the go-home for the red brand! Are you excited for “looks up notes to remind self” Backlash? It’s the 15th April 2002 and we’re in the Reed Arena of Texas A&M for episode #464 of WWF Raw! Your main event tonight: Bradshaw and Steve Austin take on the nWo and The Undertaker! I’m sure Callaway was ecstatic.

“Across The Nation”, pyro and we are welcomed to Texas by JR/King. Triple H will be here later to talk about something and presumably show some footage. But first, the man who runs Raw has a few things to say, as he heads to the ring. I hope it’s Backlash matches, Raw has just one so far.

Ric Flair apologises for being the first person in the ring tonight, but we’re used to it Ric. He needs to talk about what happened with Stone Cold last week. He knows Austin doesn’t like authority but unlike Vince McMahon, Flair has no desire to go to war with him. They have a lot in common. Flair even likes Austin. He wants to see him beat The Undertaker at Backlash and challenge for the top belt. We get thrown to footage of how things ended last week, culminating with Austin’s Stunner to the boss. The first time Austin stunned him he let it slide, but now there’s hell to pay. Crowd’s “what” shows you how they feel.

Breaking glass heralds the arrival of the Texas Rattlesnake. Crowd hot for Austin, that’s for sure. Flair re-iterates the need to pay a hellish amount, but it turns out he wants a literal amount, as he fines Austin $5000 dollars. Is that all? McMahon would put Austin in a handicap match or something, Flair just looks like a wuss. Austin takes a moment, then takes his time asking who his opponent was meant to be last week? Was it Ric Flair? No, it was Scott Hall. Is Ric Flair Scott Hall? Is he Razor Ramon? Eh ehh! What a promo this is. Flair had no reason to be in the ring and Austin wasn’t asking for help. He choose to enter, he got a Stunner: “Big deal”. Crowd delighted with this. Stone Cold reiterates that he will defeat Taker, bottom line, etc.

This brings out Mean Mark of course, sans bike this time. As far as he’s concerned there hasn’t been any bottom line. Austin is focusing on the wrong man. Sunday will be a war. Taker decides to explain the situation with the title swapping brands because they need to sell the PPV to people just tuning in, and says he’ll out-wrestle, out-fight and, if needed, out-cheat Austin. He’s going to beat Austin, win the WWF Title (not what it’s called now, get on-brand Mark) and goes as far as to suggest that Austin secretly needs Flair’s help. Austin denies this, and says he’ll stun Flair if he turns up on Sunday. Undertaker adds if Flair turns up he’ll kick his teeth down his throat. Flair has had enough of the casual threats, and suddenly announces that he will be the special guest referee for Sunday’s match! This new stip goes down like a bag of bricks in the arena.

Black and white static, and now we have what’s left of the nWo coming out. Hall says Flair had no business being in the main event last week, and if he hadn’t Hall would be heading to Backlash right now. Um, I don’t remember that being the set-up? He also calls out “that other stupid Texas redneck Bradshaw”. Hall wants Austin tonight, and if he beats him he’ll go on to beat Taker. Yeah right. Austin is game, but Flair isn’t: “Take the “W” out of the “nWo”, you have your answer.” That was a bit tortured. Hall is ready to throw down, but suddenly Bradshaw is here. A brawl breaks out, Austin and Bradshaw clear house, and somewhere in the middle Flair also takes some punches. The Nature Boy is red-hot with anger while Austin and Bradshaw stand tall. Lengthy opening segment, feels like half the roster is involved here.

After the break we get a replay of the brawl, where it’s clear Austin was the one throwing the punches at Flair first, then Taker. Backstage Flair is livid, with Arn Anderson trying to calm him down. Flair says if they want to tear it all down, they can do it in the main event: three on two, the nWo and The Undertaker against Austin and Bradshaw. He starts wrecking random Reed Arena bric-a-brak as AA looks on concerned. Flair can sell anger, if nothing else.

Bubba Ray Dudley (c) vs Raven (WWF Hardcore Championship)

Take your bets on how much longer the Bubba push is going to go. Raven out with his cart, of course, and I’m hope we’re going to see something different to the match a few weeks ago. Lock-up, Dudley with shoulder charges and a hip toss before a lid shot. To the top, but intercepted with a sheet shot and thrown off. Hard Irish Whip into the corner followed by a clothesline for two. “We Want Tables”, because of course. Trash can shot, Bubba calls on another, Stop sign shot and Bubba falls into the trash can. Raven gets two as Jerry wonders where Raven actually finds all this stuff, good question. Dueling lid shots from both men, until Bubba hits a neckbreaker. Crowd is dead for whatever reason.

Trading shots, clotheslines from Bubba Ray, flapjack, a few elbow drops, some dance moves and a falling double axe-handle. He’s got a crazy look in the eye, and tells himself to get some tables. Doesn’t quite have the same pop. Tables are found, but then Raven drop-kicks Bubba through one. Back in, Raven Effect, it’s very clear that the ref pulls out of the 3 count but Bubba doesn’t kick out and he calls for the bell to no reaction in three on the dot.

Winner (and new WWF Hardcore Champion): Raven and bad refs.

Verdict: Nothing in this one really, the hardcore division is running out of steam big time, and also a botched finish.

From JR and King’s reaction it’s obvious this wasn’t the plan. Raven can only celebrate for a few seconds before Tommy Dreamer shows up! Dreamer Driver, cover and that’s a 3.

New WWF Hardcore Champion: Tommy Dreamer, hurrah.

Oh wait, Stevie Richards is here. Stevie Kick, and he gets the pin.

New WWF Hardcore Champion: Stevie Richards, remember him?

Stevie celebrates, Bubba Ray comes up from behind strumming a guitar, before destroying it on Stevie’s face. 1, 2, 3.

New WWF Hardcore Champion: Bubba Ray Dudley, the rocket to the stars continues (but apparently won’t be making a stop at Backlash).

Bubba celebrates with some dance moves, and the crowd goes mild. Backstage, The Big Show heads to the ring.

After the break, JR advises that will be live streaming Backlash, so there’s the birth of the Network right there. Backstage Coach is with none other than a sunglasses-wearing Shawn Stasiak, making his “big return” to Raw. He’s asked for a match with Show, and Coach wants to know why. Shawn gives a rhyming response where he says he’s gone a little “Crasiak”, welcome to his world, otherwise known as “Planet Stasiak”. Hmm. I’m stunned this guy is still employed, over a year after his WM X7 blunder.

The Big Show vs Shawn Stasiak

This is going to be short anyway. Brought to you by ol’ Haku Machente itself, The Scorpion King. JR says Show seems to get bigger every week, but I’d say he’s actually looking leaner in fairness. Stasiak attacks (“Starting off very impressively here” says JR, it’s just strikes Jim), tries a German but Show easily shrugs him off. Tries a suplex, nothing doing, but is able to get TBS off his feet with a leg based takedown. Show up quick enough, Stasiak thrown into the corner, corner splash, then a big clothesline where Crazy Shawn is sent spinning, Big boot, Showstopper Chokeslam, 1, 2, 3 in under 90 seconds.

Winner: Who else?

Verdict: I’ll reserve judgement until I see where they are going with “Planet Stasiak”. Squash otherwise, Show needs a real opponent.

We get a replay of Eddie Guerrero’s interference against RVD last week. After he break, Terri is with Latino Heat backstage. RVD has accepted his challenge for the IC Title at Backlash, so Raw finally has another match at that show. Guerrero is all about getting things right this time around in the Fed, and that starts with reclaiming the Intercontinental Title. He claims Van Dam stole the title from him, how? Worse, he stole the Frog Splash. On Sunday he’s going to take back what’s his, with his Frog Splash. Tonight he and William Regal take on Van Dam and Spike Dudley, and they’re going to find out how tough he is.

Elsewhere Booker T is prepping for a match, when Goldust sneaks up behind him. Booker is freaked, and wants to know why Goldust has requested to be his tag partner tonight after what happened last week. Goldust is sorry, but thinks Booker is the brightest star in the WWF. They are two mis-matched rogues who can make the biggest blockbuster since Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon. So, Rhodes is Gibson in this analogy? Together they can make box office….gooooold. T hilariously adds that he is getting too old for this shit.

Elsewhere elsewhere Debra is at the Kraft table when Taker sneaks up behind. Fade to black. Oh dear, he’s not going to get Kane to fling her from a height is he?

Crash Holly vs Jacqueline

This one is a rematch from the previous night’s episode of Heat where Crash pinned Jackie with the help of the ropes. Before she comes out we get a brief interview of Jacqueline from Terri, where Jackie states that in her home state she’s going to show Crash that when you cheat on her, in love or war, there’s hell to pay. Were her and Crash dating in kayfabe or something?

Jackie rushes the ring to shove Crash and then eats a right hand. Hung up on the ropes, Crash with a rope-assisted pin but the ref spots it in time. Jackie hits a missile drop-kick, Sunset Flip, and that’s the win in 30 or so seconds.

Winner: Jacqueline.

Verdict: Squash City, but worth it to see Crash’s hysterical reaction.

Straight into a recap of Spike’s win over Regal last week. Backstage, Coach is with the former champ. Regal says it was the most humiliating experience of his life, and Coach reminds Regal about him literally kissing McMahon’s ass a few months ago. Regal is pissed, grabs Coach by the collar and says he’ll be beating Spike to a bloody pulp tonight, so he’ll easily win the title back. And if Coach treats him with disrespect again, he’ll split his skull open. I like angry Regal, he’s legit scary. I wouldn’t mind Regal/Spike at Backlash actually, but don’t think it’s going to happen. After the break, that tag is up.

Rob van Dam & Spike Dudley vs Eddie Guerrero & William Regal

Classic Teddy Long booking here. Surprised there are no ECW chants. Eddie’s titantron plays before his music, for an awkward pause. Regal attacks Spike before the bell and dumps him out, allowing a heel beatdown on RVD. Crowd not exactly hot. RVD and Regal are legal, back body-drop and spinning heel kick to Regal, then he’s out of a roll-up attempt but then gets the stepover heel kick instead. Corner flip, Spike and Eddie in, and Guerrero gets the advantage with strikes. Dudley back with an Inverted Atomic Drop, then a neckbreaker, but a Regal shot gives Eddie the chance to hit a Tilt-A-Whirl as Van Dam is jawing with the ref.

Spike the face-in-peril, and now Regal in to chuck him around, nailing a brutal looking Full Nelson Suplex. Spike sure takes them well. Spike rolls to the outside, where Eddie works him over for a bit, hitting a Scoop Slam. Back in, Eddie legal, hard clothesline, and a taunted Van Dam distracts the ref long enough for another double team beatdown. We get a few replays of that Full Nelson Suplex, and really does look a bit scary, I can’t tell if its a botch or not. Spike gets a quick roll-up for two on Regal for a hope spot, but Regal maintains the advantage with strikes and kicks. A running headbutt to the gut gets Spike some room, looking for the Dudley Dawg, Eddie interferes but Spike counters it into a rana on Guerrero, very cool.

Hot tag to RVD, he cleans house, Rolling Thunder to Regal gets two. To the top, “martial arts kick”, body slam, and a split-legged moonsault. Guerrero breaks up the count, but Van Dam still able to get in some corner spears, before “hitting” a terrible springboard crossbody where he missed bad and Regal crumpled in an effort to sell it. Eddie into hit a neckbreaker to save things, Spike tagged but runs into a boot. Guerrero in, misses a corner splash, a few counters and he nails a reverse suplex. RVD trying to get involved, Regal chucks him out and follows. Eddie hits Spike with a brainbuster, Frog Splash, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under six.

Winners: England and Mexico.

Verdict: Decent tag, a bit strange that the heels basically win clean. All four guys getting over.

Van Dam attacks Guerrero, heel kick, to the top, but Regal pulls Eddie out to save him from the Five Star. Jawing from the ramp, where Regal looks like he has more energy than 95% of the roster. This could have been the time to elevate him to the top tier, but never happened.

Replays, and commentary plugs our main event. WWF Rewind, and it’s Jazz helping Molly beat Trish last week. Backstage, Coach is with Stratus ahead of her #1 contenders match with Holly. When she beats Molly tonight, she’s going to take the same title Jazz used to hit her with last week, Stratusfaction guaranteed. Molly interrupts, and asks Coach which of two pictures she prefers: Stratus in her “borderline pornographic” swimsuit, or her in some angel costume. Plugging the Divas Calendar again I see. Coach doesn’t get the chance to answer before Holly walks off insisting she’ll be the first Womens Champion to be pure and wholesome. Trish adds that soon Molly will be in a very new position for her: flat on her back.

Molly Holly vs Trish Stratus (#1 Contender Match For The WWF Womens Championship)

At commentary King is apoplectic with glee at the idea that Molly is a virgin, like this is the funniest thing he has heard all night. King mocks virgins, JR will mock “Jezebels”, and any woman who decides to be a heel is liable to be serenaded with “slut”, now being a virgin means you’re a heel. You can’t win. JR tries to play up both competitors’ physical fitness in a bid to steer things to somewhat appropriate, but King ain’t having that, naturally. Amazing that guy is still invited to the commentary booth sometimes today.

Lock-up, Molly takedown, and Trish looks a little surprised. Lock-up, and Molly hits a Scoop Slam. Lock-up, an overhead takedown, and then an arm-lock. Some wrist-lock chains, and Holly maintains the advantage for a bit, before Trish back hard with right hands. Molly avoids a clothesline by heading out, only to take a Baseball Slide. Molly sent into the announce table, back in, Stratus laying on the shots, until Molly comes back with a hard throw. Falling elbow gets two, as JR outlines he no longer thinks Molly is a Jezebel, great. Hair-first throw, backbreaker, two. Molly to the top, looking for the Molly-Go-Round but nobody home. Trish back with elbows, head kick, two. Stratus lining up another, Molly dodges, roll-up, Molly has a handful of tights but Trish reverses it and does the same, and that is enough in under three-and-a-half.

Winner (and #1 Contender for the WWF Womens Championship): Trish, to almost no reaction. The college crowd isn’t into this.

Verdict: Got a bit longer than most womens TV matches at least. Could have done with Jazz maybe having some involvement to sell the Backlash match. Oh well.

After the break Terri is with Bradshaw. Ric Flair has apparently just announced that the big Texan will be facing Scott Hall at Backlash. What, did he announce it to himself? Why not have him do it to camera? Terri tees up footage of the nWo beatdown of Kane last week, and the unmasking. Bradshaw says the nWo are cowards, and implies that Scott Hall has no testicles. Ass will be kicked, and after namedropping the local sports team and a few other Texan celebrities, Bradshaw says he has the greatest Texan of them all on his side tonight. Beer will be kicked, ass will be drank, or something.

Elsewhere, Hall and X-Pac hang out watching the same footage we just saw, with Pac wearing Kane’s mask. Hall asserts that Texas is more about “steers and queers”, nice. The nWo will take care of Bradshaw, and will focus on him tonight.

Elsewhere, elsewhere, Coach is with Lita. He asks about her recent neck injury, and she says she’s glad to be back. He tees up footage of Brock Lesnar’s encounter with Team Xtreme last week, and apparently Ric Flair has also announced in this private press conference that Lesnar will take on Matt on Sunday. It’s like they don’t care about building these matches at all, but that will be the full Backlash card made, hurrah. Before Lita can add anything Paul Heyman interrupts to be a bit of a leering old man. He decides to rock into her dressing room and fondle her ring gear, to her objections. Paul says Brock can either play nice with Matt, or play rough, and the choice is Lita’s. It depends on how she wants to play with him. Her response is a slap. She should really just kick his ass. She wants to play rough, so does Paul. An intensely uncomfortable segment, and totally not needed for this feud. After the break the Hardy’s are in action.

The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) w/Lita vs Booker T & Goldust

We get a replay of what just went down in the locker room, like we really needed to see it again. This match is for NFB’s Head Canon Raw Tag Team Championships, currently held by the Hardys after their epic win over Big Boss Man and Mr Perfect the other week. Heels attack to start, Jeff thrown out and Matt double-teamed. Goldust and Matt the legal men, hip smash from Rhodes and in comes Booker. Strikes, Matt dodges a heel kick and back with a Side Effect. Jeff and Goldust in, Jeff cleaning house, flying forearm, heel drop to the gut, Poetry In Motion to T who is then clotheslined out, same to Goldust, Twist Of Fate from Matt and suddenly Paul Heyman is here. Matt chases him off as Jeff hits the Swanton on Goldust, but Booker in to hit a big heel kick, and Goldust rolls into the cover for the win in under two-and-a-half.

Winners: Booker T and Goldust, the new head canon Tag Champs.

Verdict: Very quick tag, but I suppose it furthered the Lesnar/Hardy feud and got a new team over, so it’s all good.

Heyman taunts Lita and Matt with a case of what I suppose I must assume are her thongs. Matt can’t take it, charges up the ramp and gets met by Lesnar. Kick to the balls gives Matt some space, but Brock back quick enough, F-5 on the steel, and Heyman and Lesnar run off when Jeff arrives with a chair. Lita looks nice and traumatised, so mission accomplished Vince. Replays. I guess they are writing Matt out of the match on Sunday? I presume Jeff will be in instead.

After the break JR is in the ring to plug the main event of Backlash. Footage of last Thursday’s encounter between Hogan and the Game, and out comes the Champ. Only 20 minutes left with a five person main event to come, but HHH gets the full entrance. How does he feel about what happened on Smackdown? Haitch says he and Hogan both made mistakes but when Hogan decided to attack “he made a big mistake”. Ohhh, cutting. Ross asks if it’s possible Hogan could win the Title on Sunday. Triple H says, somewhat sarcastically, that “Hulkamania is running wild” so you can smell the heel turn coming. He’s considering every possibility, and knows after Thursday that Hogan will do whatever it takes to win. But on Sunday, he will kick his ass. Real basic stuff here. JR asks about the Austin/Taker match. Triple H says it doesn’t matter, as everyone will soon realise that he’s the Champ, the Game, that damn good, etc. Music plays. Man, this sucked, just catchphrases and generic put-downs.

King plugs the main event, which is next. After the break JR plays up WWF New York ahead of tonights grand finale.

The Undertaker & the nWo (Scott Hall & X-Pac) vs Bradshaw and Stone Cole Steve Austin (Three On Two Handicap Match)

You’d think someone would get the “Already in the ring” treatment considering how short on time they are but, no, it’s full entrances, so only eight minutes for these guys. Pac out in the Kane mask, and does Taker not have something to say about that? Continuity? No? I mean, they were sitting together at the draft! Faces rush the ring and we get a brawl to start. Bradshaw clears the nWo out, leaving Austin and Taker as the legal men, amid “X-Pac sucks” chants.

Taker floors Austin with a flying clothesline, corner strikes and a clothesline, but then Taker runs into a Lou Thesz press and a falling elbow. Austin looking for the Stunner but Taker falls out of it. Brief face-off, and in comes X-Pac to the crowds general unhappiness. Austin quickly on the offence with stomps in the corner, looking for a suplex, Pac out of it and hits a spinning heel kick. A few strikes, before Austin nails a spinebuster, and does the same to an interfering Hall. Bradshaw tagged in, described as “a big brahma bull” by JR, who hurriedly adds “with all due respect to The Rock”, good save Jim. Pac beaten down in the corner again, corner clothesline, big reverse suplex, two. Pac able to get some room with another spinning heel kick, can he do anything else?

Hall in for shots, Bradshaw avoids a back body-drop and puts in some vicious looking shots. DDT gets two, and in comes Austin. Austin gives Hall a bunch of chops, including one to the face pretty clearly. Taker cleared off the apron when he tries to interfere, allowing Hall to hit his Fallaway Slam to no reaction from the crowd. Things break down a bit with Austin and Taker fighting at ringside, then everyone getting involved. Eventually Austin and Hall back in the ring, Hall with some corner clotheslines, strikes, and in comes Pac. Crowd big behind Austin, and a bit odd to see him as the face-in-peril. A few strikes from Pac, but now Austin trying to mount his comeback. Pac breaks it up with a bad looking clothesline that hits the neck, before Hall comes in. Double clothesline spots leaves both men down, leading to the hot tag, to very little reaction.

Bradshaw cleans house, and in putting Taker off the apron you can clearly hear the Deadman say “Ah shit!”. X-Pac jumps into a real Fallaway Slam, where Bradshaw also boots Hall into oblivion. Taker in to hit Snake Eyes, but Bradshaw dodges the big boot and comes back with a Clothesline From Hell, then one to Hall, then a big slam to X-Pac but Taker breaks it up. Austin dumps Taker out and follows, in the ring Bradshaw hits another Clothesline From Hell on Pac and that will be the 1, 2, 3 in just over seven.

Winners: The Texans. The good ones. And hey, Bradshaw won the main event!

Verdict: Pfft, a bit throwaway. Hey, what happened with The Undertaker and Debra?

Hall attacks in the aftermath, and gives Bradshaw his patented Fallaway Slam. Austin intervenes, but gets thrown out off a Stunner attempt, and then brained with a chair by Taker. We’re out of time as the nWo beat down Bradshaw and JR hurriedly reminds us of the Backlash PPV.

Lets do a quick preview of the Raw side of the Backlash card. I’ve tried not to spoil myself on any of these, though there will always be a few matches where I have a vague notion of how it went down.

Bradshaw/Hall – I really doubt someone like JBL was ever going to be convinced to do the job to someone like Hall, even if the nWo needs a big PPV win. Hall can’t go, so if he gets out of this without a concussion from Bradshaw’s inevitable potatoes he’ll be doing well.

Trish/Jazz – The last month has been all about Trish in the womens division, with Jazz barely appearing, so I have to assume they are putting the belt on her here.

Lesnar/Hardy – Just a matter of how long it lasts and how good whatever Hardy ends up competing is made to look in defeat.

RVD/Eddie – If they want Eddie to have some momentum after his return they would be wise to put the belt on him, even if I can see this progressing to some kind of gimmick match after, ladder being the obvious choice.

Taker/Austin – I know how this one ends, so it’s just a matter of how good I think the match is going to be. Usually I’d have it down as a barnburner, but Austin’s attitude right now is poor, so not expecting too much. Flair’s involvement doesn’t sell it too much either.

It’s not a super spectacular looking crop of matches. I supposed RVD/Eddie has potential. Anyway.

Best Match: A bad crop tonight, I suppose by default it’ll go to the RVD/Spike vs Eddie/Regal tag.

Best Wrestler: Hey, Bradshaw got to be in a main event and somehow managed to get something out of Scott Hall.

Worst Match: Bubba Ray/Raven was forgettable, with a botched finish.

Worst Wrestler: Should just rename this the Scott Hall award.

Overall Verdict: Not a great edition of Raw really, a lot of filler and wheel spinning. Throw in the stupid Heyman stuff and the poor Triple H interview, and this ones nears stinker territory. Avoid.

To view more entries in this series, click here to go to the index.

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #65: Raw (15/04/2002)

  1. Pingback: NFB Watches Wrestling: Index | Never Felt Better

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