The road to Backlash comes to its conclusion in the blue brand go-home. It’s the 18th April 2002 (filmed on the 16th) and we’re in the Compaq Centre of Houston, Texas for episode #140 of WWF Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Hulk Hogan and Triple H vs Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle!
Beautiful People, pyro and Cole and Taaz welcome us to Houston. We’re 72 hours away from Backlash, and Vince is making HHH and Hogan be some strange bedfellows in the main event. But before any of that, hold on a minute playa: “Six man tag!”
Billy, Chuck & Albert w/Rico vs Rikishi, Al Snow & Maven
Cole announces during the entrance that Billy & Chuck will be defending their titles against Al Snow and Maven on Sunday, so that’s the entire Backlash card sorted. Snow stands out as the only guy with a last name. Albert and Kish staring each other down, but it’s Chuck who starts off Legal with Snow off an ambush. Snow back with strikes, shoulder block, then an Inverted Atomic Drop. Regular Atomic Drop, and Maven in. Axe Handle off the top, then a double hip-toss with Snow for two. Cole reminds Tazz that Maven’s first WWF win was against him: “Who? Nah nah nah, I don’t remember that”. Snow back in after some brief offence from Maven, but now the heels take control off a Chuck clothesline.
Albert in, huge hard corner whip flattens Snow, then a big delay Tiger Bomb. Billy in, strikes, knee to the face in the corner. Snow gets some room off a clothesline, and hot tag to Rikishi. He absorbs some punches then sends Billy flying, and Billy unwisely tries a Sunset Flip but then wisely skitters away. Kish annihilating Billy and Chuck, clears Albert off the apron, Rico tries to distract and Rikishi just drags him in. Corner smash to Rico and Chuck, Kishi calling for the Stink Face, but in comes Albert with a pump kick. Only two when Chuck gets the cover though. Albert in, beatdown offence, Scoop Slam, and the other faces cleared off the apron. That lets Kish recover enough to hit a Samoan Drop, Maven tags in and now he clears house, and the crowd actually pops big. Chuck drop-kicked off, but then Maven runs into the Famouser. Kish in with a super-kick, then takes another big pump kick from Albert. Snow in now, sit-out spinebuster floors Chuck, but then Rico in to hit a spinning heel kick with the ref distracted, then Maven to the top, crossbody to Chuck, cover and that’s it in just under six-and-a-half.
Winners: The Face Alliance
Verdict: Surprisingly fun opening tag. Weird how over Maven was with the crowd, and everyone did their part. But not enough to get Albert and Rikishi on the Backlash card.
The heels are suitably disgusted. Backstage, Stacey Kiebler walks backstage and knocks on Hulk Hogan’s locker room door. She makes sure to bend over before Hogan answers the door, great, love to see that after the drek last week. Vince wants to see him, right now.
Elsewhere, Billy Kidman watches footage of Shawn Stasiak’s ramblings from Raw, declaring them the craziest thing he’s ever seen, and this is the guy who was front-and-centre for the New Blood Rising. Enter the Hurricane. He wants to know why Kidman looks so down, considering he’s the Cruiserweight Champion: whatsupwithdat? Kidman says nobody knows who he is, despite being champ and being on the Backlash card. Great bit where Cane whispers in his ear and Kidman says “You think people will respond if I say how great it is to be here in Houston?”and of course they do. Barely avoiding an all-out corpse. The crowd doesn’t react as well when Kidman announces Cane as his tag team partner. They face Tajiri and Chavo Guerrero later. Drop the local sports teams name, and away!
Elsewhere elsewhere, Vince is in his office, and cuts off a phone call when Hogan and Kiebler show up. McMahon dismisses Stacey when she spends a bit too much time fawning over Hogan, great. He brings up the tidal wave of admiration for Hogan, and says it reminds him of the birth of Hulkamania. Will Sunday be the rebirth of Hulkamania? Will Hogan lead the WWF into a new era of prosperity? I’m sure that was the idea anyway. Vince wants to know what Hogan is going to do when reality comes down on him this Sunday, then the segment just ends. What was the point of this?
It’s time for the Overdrive of the Night, brought to you by Greyhound buses. It’s Stacey’s dance last week. Consider yourself overdriven.
Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top is ringside. Hurrah?
Tajiri & Chavo Guerrero w/Torrie Wilson vs Billy Kidman & The Hurricane
Wilson still in the kimono, and this is still being treated as an affront. “How does she cook sushi in that outfit?” Thank you for your input Tazz. Our first look at Chavo, he’s usually on Tough Enough as a trainer. Cole plugs The Rock’s appearance on Conan O’Brien tonight, which gives you an idea of how important the cruiserweight entrances are to the company.
Chavo and Kidman to start. “Kidman is a great Cruiserweight champine” says Tazz. He literally hasn’t had a match since winning the title. Chavo with strikes, hard whip puts Kidman into the corner. Kidman with an elbow on a charge, springboard rana, drop-kick, Cane in and the two nail a double hip-toss, then an assisted senton, nice. Tajiri in, headlock chains, shoulder charge from the superhero, but then a hard kick to the head as he poses. Tajiri with chops, Hurricane back with his own, that Tajiri sells really well. Tajiri with a leapfrog off a charge, then a superkick. Good stuff so far.
Chavo in, poke to the eye, uppercut, attempted backslide, but Cane out to hit a Scoop Slam. Kidman in, leg drop, but when he goes to take on Tajiri the former Champ flees. This allows Guerrero to attack from behind, Kidman choked on the ropes, and Tajiri adds a kick from ringside as Torrie looks upset. In the ring, Kidman out of a suplex, and lands an enziguri. Hot tag to Cane, strikes to Chavo, Superman Punch, big back body-drop, Chavo able to tag in Tajiri, but Cane hits a superkick straight away. Looking for the Chokeslam, and he actually hits it. Helms looks momentarily stunned, love it, and Chavo breaks up the pin at two.
Cane out of a reverse suplex from Chavo and nails a big neckbreaker. Looking for the Eye Of The Hurricane but Tajiri pushes out and Guerrero sends Cane to the floor off a bridge. Chavo to the top, Kidman intercepts, Tajiri gets him into an Electric Chair position, but before Chavo can hit something Hurricane shoves him off and to the floor. Kidman with a roll-up, Tajiri out of it (probably because Kidman remembered he isn’t the legal man), and Helms gets two off a crossbody. Setting up the evil foreigner for a double team, but Chavo pulls the Champ out. A distracted Hurricane gets nailed with a Buzzsaw, and that’s the win in just over five.
Winners: Japan and Mexico, the sneaky sneaks.
Verdict: Pretty good cruiserweight tag, sets up Sunday’s match nicely. Can stand to see more of Hurricane and Chavo too.
As Kidman mourns over the motionless body of Cane, Tajiri sneaks up behind and hits another Buzzsaw. Seriously, Kidman was like Achilles over Patrocles, it was weird. After, Tajiri berates Wilson again and she slinks away, mortified. Heeljiri still has the same entrance music, which doesn’t suit him.
We get a recap of the Mark Henry bet segment last week which leads into the Worlds Strongest Man coming out to the top of the ramp. He gets a good reception from his home state. He is asked what feat of strength does he have for us tonight? Henry plans to lift a handy car off the ground. The “guys” have been making bets, but Henry doesn’t care, his job is to lift this car. So it’s not to be a wrestler? He describes himself as “the strongest man in the world”. Come on Mark, that’s, like, a future TNA nickname, get with the programme.
The undercard is clustered around the car, including Test and Faarooq. After seeing if the car has an engine (“What, you think this car was made by Mattel?” asks Simmons) Test insists he can lift it himself. He tries, and fails (“I’ve worked out three times already today”). He says he has 300 bucks that Henry can’t lift the car, and a load of wrestlers take him up on it. I love that there are a dozen wrestlers, dressed-up to compete, just standing around in front of the crowd for this. Henry puts on his belt, gets in position and gets the car up to “Henry” chants. Test is pissed, pays Faarooq, but as Simmons counts it up Test slams him with the car door. Brawl, and the two men are pulled apart. “Test is a jerk, bottom line!” says Cole. “Just a sore loser” offers Tazz, like its the most natural thing in the world.
After the break, Hulk Hogan heads to the ring. Crowds not quite as nuclear as before, but still very loud. He says Hulkamania is still running wild. He’s heard the word “reality” a lot recently (what, tonight?) but insists that it is reality that he will win this Sunday, pulling off the “impossible” (yeah right) and becoming champion again. He never thought Hulkamania could ever be as strong as it is. Reality or perception, he’s loving every moment of it. Can we get to a point soon? Hogan says he used to take the title for granted, but since it’s been so long since he held it, he now knows what it means. He knows he can do this, and I’m begging for an interruption. He awkwardly rips off the shirt, and actually has a bit of trouble with it, when Chris Jericho arrives saves the day.
“What the hell does he want?” asks Cole like Jericho is objecting at a wedding. He is getting a lot of heat from the crowd in fairness. Y2J says Hogan is a farce, a joke, and no matter what the people say, he himself is no “has-been”. Really trying to get the crowd chanting that, but they haven’t bitten too much post-WM. Jericho says Hogan is the has-been, and Hulkamania went out with the rubix cube. Jericho not having a match at Backlash is a travesty, and who does Hogan think he is? What has he ever accomplished? So he sold a couple of T-shirts and had a cartoon (“Is Jericho insane?” asks Cole with a tone of genuine concern). He plays up his own accomplishments, and says he despises HHH for robbing him the title, but he’s going to enjoy it when Haitch destroys Hogan. After all, Hulk has only had one singles match in his return, and lost it, yet he’s getting a title shot. Preach!
Hogan finally tells Jericho to shut up, and suggests Y2J come to the ring to say his speech to his face. Jericho teases doing just that, throwing away the jacket, and gotta say Jericho is in good shape here, a lot better than Hogan that’s for sure. Y2J hits the ring, but before he can say much Hogan lays into him. Kurt Angle races to the ring, and the two beatdown Hogan. That brings out Edge, and the faces send the heels packing. Hogan and Edge stand tall as Jericho and Angle retreat. I suppose they had to build to the main event tonight somehow, and maybe Triple H was late or something, but this felt like 90% filler. I can always stand to hear more of Jericho and less of Hogan though.
After the break, well, actually, during the break, Rob Van Dam shills for 7/11 and Slurpees. I think he’s stealing a fans girlfriend in this ad? Not exactly very face. Backstage, McMahon gives out to Edge, who isn’t meant to be here tonight. He orders him out of the building. Edge squares up to the boss, says he sees fear in his eyes, and wonders if its because he knows what he’ll do to his “little lapdog” on Sunday. He’ll leave, for now. McMahon looks perturbed, but recovers as Stacey comes up to him. Vince is feeling a little aggressive, and asks that Kiebler bring Triple H to his office. (“It’s his former son-in-law, maybe he just wants a cup of coffee” posits Tazz, amazing).
Test vs Faarooq
Test with the “Already in the ring” treatment here, that’s a bad sign for him. Faarooq’s post-APA split singles debut on Smackdown here, but I doubt he’ll be getting the same opportunities as Bradshaw is.
Test on the attack from the off, elbows in the corner, but then gets one of his own. Stiff clothesline sends Test down, elevated punches in the corner, but then Test back with a flapjack-type-thing onto the turnbuckle. Stomps, corner clothesline, another, and Cole brings up Test’s “immunity” again to explain why he’s able to go around doing stuff like he does. As if he couldn’t do the exact same without immunity. Some hip smashes, but eventually Faarooq counters into a Test-caused lowblow. Simmons with clotheslines, spinning powerslam, two. Test hits an elbow on a corner charge, pin with the help of the ropes, but Teddy Long spots it. Faarooq looking for the Spinebuster, Test out of it, now Test looking for the Big Boot, but Faaroq dodges and Test crotches himself. Big flying shoulder charge, but Test up quick looking for the pumphandle, Simmons out of it, dodges a corner charge, and Faarooq gets the pin with the help of the ropes in just under three.
Winner: Faarooq, and I figure he isn’t getting many more,
Verdict: Was fine, neither man is where he should be on the card.
Test hits a Big Boot before stalking off, because heat, etc. Backstage Triple H reads WWF magazine before Kiebler comes in to show off her legs. She’s momentarily slackjawed by HHH’s pecs, so I guess Haitch wrote this one? She demands Triple H come to McMahon’s office. HHH will be along in a moment.
Elsewhere, Hardcore Holly is interviewed ahead of his match with DDP. Sudden sinking feeling as a memory stirs, oh no. Holly’s only thought is kicking DDP’s ass, putting him flat on his back and asking “How do you like me now?” Pan across to a smiling DDP. Holly wants to know why Page is smiling, and Page says it’s because Holly is a cantankerous bully and he’s starting to piss him off. Not a bad thing, a good thing. Bit of a confusing back and forth here. Something bad is about to happen.
Elsewhere elsewhere, the Champ arrives in McMahon’s officer. Vince wants to know if his son-in-law is capable of driving a spear into Hulkamania. He reminds us if HHH loses that he’ll be Smackdown exclusive, and we get a sudden fade-out. Running short on time? These Vince segments seem very needless.
Diamond Dallas Page vs Hardcore Holly
Alright, let’s get this over with. Staredown, Holly with shots, Page with an elbow off a charge then shots of his own, then nails a clothesline at the end of a counter chain. Neckbreaker, elevated punches in the corner, but then dropped on the turnbuckle just like Faarooq was earlier. Holly with stomps, kick to the gut off a hang on the ropes. Shots in the corner, DDP mounts a comeback for a bit before taking a boot to eh face, then a stiff clothesline. Suplex, Holly to the top, but crotched before he can do anything. DDP clambers up, here it comes. Superplex, but DDP messes up his part and clearly slams his head into the mat super hard ahead of Holly, looks really bad.
Both men up, DDP hits two discus clothesline one after the other, looking for the Diamond Cutter, Holly pushes out of it, hits that sweet drop-kick and that’s all in just under three.
Winner: Holly, one of the few instances when his awesome drop-kick was a finisher.
Verdict: Short look at two guys on the undercard, but you’ll only be seeing one of them going forward.
DDP attacks Holly after the bell, and hits the Diamond Cutter. Weird feeling to the end of this one, but there was a reason for that.
It’s so sad to say, but this was the end of Page’s full-time career. That botched superplex resulted in a pretty serious neck injury, that aggravated previous ones, and after consulting with a few specialists Page called it a day in June and left the WWE. A few indie appearances here and there, a 2005 run in TNA and a guest spot in the Rumble have been his lot since. Page was a great wrestler who was disgracefully wasted by the Fed in his year there, and a guy who was one of the best parts of late era WCW deserved better than for his last match of his major run to be a throwaway encounter with Bob Holly (that he lost). At least Page has made good on his post-wrestling life though.
Backstage, Angle and Jericho confer. They agree what happened earlier was a disgrace, but at least Angle has more reason to beat up Edge on Sunday. Y2J says Angle will suck the life out of Triple H, and Angle is horrified at the use of the phrase “suck”. He doesn’t suck, and anyone who thinks otherwise will pay. Piped in “You suck” chants make a mockery of this segment.
After the break we have some organ music and a purple filter for the entrance of “Mr McMahon’s spiritual advisor” D-Von. “Take your hat off Cole”. He’s here as a humble servant of the man above. The crowd just wants to “what”. A prophet told D-Von to leave the Fed and find himself, and he’s back having found the man above. He’s found joy, redemption and peace of mind. He wants to thank the prophet who showed him the way, and that prophet is “a wealthy man, a powerful man”. It’s Mr Burns! No, wait, it’s Vince McMahon. D-Von wants to show us the light. They are the sheep, and the crowd are the wolves. That gets some boos. McMahon has turned D-Von around, and he can do that for others too. The sermon is over. D-Von solicits donations from the ringside crowd, and has mixed success. So, I like that they are trying something with D-Von, giving him a character (unlike Bubba Ray, who remains Bubba Ray), but the fact that it comes with a side of “Vince McMahon is literally God” makes it a tad unpalatable. Roll on Deacon Batista.
It’s time for the amazingly titled Whack of the Night, brought to you by Tobacco is Whacko. It’s Hogan beating up Triple H last week. Just in time for the main event!
Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Triple H
Hogan spends HHH’s entrance sizing up his Backlash opponent. The Game and Angle to start. Lock-up, exchanging strikes into the corner, but Triple H out to hit a high back body-drop. Angle gets pantsed again, to make the crowd pop. An enraged Kurt takes a shot at a laughing Hogan, and in comes Mr Hollywood. Lock-up, Angle thrown back. Jericho in, mocking Hogan, and looks for a test of strength. Hogan goes for it, Y2J gets floored, and Angle attacks from behind. Double team as the ref is distracted by HHH, but Hogan doesn’t need help, leveling the heels with a double clothesline. Jericho to the top, intercepted and flung off. Angle taken out, Jericho beaten down, and in comes Triple H. Is Hogan planning on taking any moves tonight?
Jericho down off the running knee, an Angle shot can’t stop him getting flung off the apron when HHH catapults Jericho. Spinebuster gets two for Triple H, and when things break down Jericho is able to hit a low blow. Angle in, thunderous “Angle Sucks” chants, reverse suplex gets two for your Olympic Hero. Jericho in, corner clotheslines, beatdown offence, then an awkward throat-first takedown gets some room for the Champ. Jericho tries a sleeper, Hogan trying to get the crowd going, arm drop spot, Haitch back up after one, and hits a reverse suplex. Angle in, but goes flying into the ringpost when Triple H dodges. Hot tag to Hogan, hulking up, clearing house, the heels thrown into each other, Jericho sent out, big boot to Angle, but Jericho stops the Leg Drop. Hogan and Jericho brawl on the outside, and Hogan put into the ring steps.
Jericho grabs a chair, into the ring, and Tim White goes for a ride to the outside. Triple H counters a chairshot into a DDT, then takes on Angle. Looking for the Pedigree, but Y2J prevents it. HHH beaten down by both heels, Jericho grabs the chair, but Hogan intervenes now. Hogan with the chair, goes for Angle, but a quick duck means Triple H eats it instead. Another misunderstanding! Who would have imagined it? Angle looking to brain Hogan with the chair, but here comes Edge through the crowd! Spear, Angle hightails it and Edge follows. Jericho left alone with Hogan, strikes, big boot, Atomic Leg Drop, but Triple H is up, has the chair, and Hogan gets a big shot to the head. We get a replay, Triple H has his belt, his music plays and, um, I guess that’s it? No result is called but its over in just under nine.
Winners: No contest I suppose?
Verdict: A little overplayed with these five guys, but this had energy to it and served its purpose as promoting two Backlash matches.
That’s all we have time for, in a slightly shorter than normal Smackdown. A look at the blue brands side of the card for this Sunday:
Tajiri/Kidman – Could go either way. I’d say they’ll want to validate the Tajiri heel turn and keep the Wilson stuff going for a while yet by putting the belt back on the Buzzsaw.
Billy & Chuck/Snow & Maven – Nice to see new challengers, but there isn’t going to be a change here.
Angle/Edge – I know this Sunday isn’t the end of it, so I’m assuming some manner of Angle win via shenanigans. Could be the showstealer.
Triple H/Hogan – I know who wins, so it’s a matter of how good it will be. HHH’s slower style might benefit Hogan I suppose, but I don’t have great expectations.
As for tonight:
Best Match: I’ll go for the cruiserweight tag, that was a good bit of fun.
Best Wrestler: Hmm, I’ll say Jericho this time, both for his in-ring work during the main event and his promo work earlier. He’s trying to get the “has-been” stuff across at least.
Worst Match: DDP/Holly broke my heart.
Worst Wrestler: Feels harsh to say Page, so I’ll go with Hogan, who took only strikes on his way to a main event PPV spot.
Overall Verdict: An alright episode, nothing too essential. Onwards to Backlash.
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