NFB Watches Wrestling #68: Raw (22/04/2002)

It’s the fallout from Backlash! Will Steve Austin apologise for his match with Taker? It’s the 22nd April 2002 and we’re in the Savvis Center of St Louis, Missouri for episode #465 of WWF Raw! Your main event tonight: Stone Cold teams up with The Big Show to take on the nWo! Why God? Why would you do this to me?

Attitude splash leads straight into still photography recapping of Backlash’s main event, with all of its interference spots. “Across The Nation”, pyro and JR/King welcome us to St Louis. The new Undisputed Champion will be here later but, for the first time in a while, Raw is opening with a match and not Ric Flair talking for 20 minutes.

Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs Matt Hardy

Recap of Lesnar’s destruction of Matt this time last week. They still haven’t given the F-5 a name. Matt comes through the crowd to attack from behind, but Lesnar on top quick with a belly-to-belly slam. Matt is all taped up and not 100%. Big elevated backbreaker, another, then a bear hug. King on commentary suggests that Lita just give into Heyman’s advances, fantastic. Matt rammed into the corner, but then dodges a charge with Brock into the ringpost. Matt starts working over the arm, strikes, boot to the face, and Matt hits a Side Effect. To the second rope, drops the leg, back up top for a top rope leg-drop. Looking for the Twist Of Fate, countered into a fireman’s carry, Matt wriggling like a fish on a hook, and takes a big F-5. Falling powerbomb with a spin, and the ref stops it in just over three.

Winner (by ref stoppage): Brock to the top, 2-0.

Verdict: Matt didn’t even get to put in as much offence as Jeff. Where is Jeff? Brock got over, as JR gushes about the “certified killer”.

Backstage, Ric greets some random men working in the back, but they give him the cold shoulder. Ric protests his innocence over what happened last night, and then runs into Taker. Mean Mark offers his thanks and says Flair did the right thing. Flair protests, but Undertaker ignores him, says he owes Flair one. He’s heading to the ring to thank Flair publicly. Flair is upset at this turn of events.

After the break out comes the #1 contender. Bit of an ambivalent reaction from the crowd. He’s here to thank Ric Flair “on a job well done”. “He’s trying to bury Ric Flair” says JR, less of that now, you’re not on Nitro anymore. Taker says Flair did the right thing, and takes a brief pause to look annoyed about the “what” chants. Undertaker says he would have won regardless of who the ref was, and that gets “Bullshit” chants that I think the Network morphs into “Austin”. Anyway, Undertaker gets to go to Judgement Day and take on Hulk Hogan, so I guess main event confirmed. There’s a PPV before that by the way, but we’ll talk about that when someone deigns to mention it on TV. Taker says that Hogan is welcome, as he wouldn’t have won the title without his help. At Judgement Day Taker is judge, jury and executioner for Hulkamania. Crowd don’t like that.

As he keeps talking we see Triple H walking through the back like a man on a mission. Undertaker has to explain that “only the Champion can be on both shows, he’s supposed to be on Smackdown” in case we don’t get it. Out comes the Game. He goes right on the attack, brawling and Taker sent out. They brawl onto the announce desk and behind, HHH grabs a TV monitor and brains Undertaker with it a few times. Taker tries to walk off, Triple H keeps up the assault and we go up the ramp, off to the side, and the shirts have even come off at this stage. To the back, Taker flung into a large WWF sign as he repeatedly begs off like the kind of cowardly heel he should never be playing. Now put into a car, and Triple H has a sledgehammer from somewhere. Shot to the gut, Triple H lining up a bigger one, and now security suddenly exists. They pull the Game off, now some cops are here, and HHH gets arrested. Still able to get in another kick to Taker, so the cops aren’t very good. Undertaker has been busted up at some point. I wonder if these cops are real or “buddies” of Triple H, like that thing with Mankind ages ago?

After the break JR and King attempt to recover from the “chaos”. Replays of what we just saw that go on for nearly two minutes, and then some additional footage shows Triple H being driven off in the back of a cop car. King is outraged at what HHH tried to pull. But enough about that, JR has something more important to talk about: The Scorpion King! Highest grossing April opening ever! What an amazing success. King insists it’s gotten “rave reviews”. 41% in RT is what I say. They then tell us that tonight Goldust and Booker T will take on the new Dudley Boys of Spike and Bubba in a match for the NFB Head Canon Tag Titles.

But first, backstage Ric Flair meets up with William Regal at the commissary table. Regal genuinely congrats Flair on his “wonderful refereeing”, amazing. Flair insists it was an accident, Regal congrats him anyway. Flair looks pissed, and for the second time tonight JR calls him “guilt-ridden”. Where is this going?

Ad for the Divas Calendar I could do without and when we’re back the new Intercontinental Champion is joining commentary. Eddie has been “celebrating immensely” for the last 24 hours.

Mr Perfect vs Rob Van Dam

Mr Perfect’s place in the card is made clear when King compliments Eddie on his “perfect Frog Splash” during his entrance. Van Dam jaws with Eddie during his trip TO the ring then gets mugged by Perfect. Into the ring, Perfect hitting down, somehow ends up outside where RVD hits an asai moonsault off the ropes. Back in, Eddie says something in Spanish, and Lawler laughs uproariously. “I’m bilingual” “Yeah, you’re bi alright”. An unexpected bit of bigoted commentary from JR there, who said it as an insult.

Back in, Perfect with running snapmares, Van Dam back with strikes, whip chains, spinning heel kick from Van Dam gets two, spinning leg-drop, Rolling Thunder, two. Corner spears, tries the corner flip but countered into a pin where Perfect has his feet on the ropes, but the ref catches it. Stepover heel kick, Van Dam to the top, Five Star and that’s it in just over three.

Winner: RVD, settling his minutes long feud with Mr Perfect.

Verdict: Pretty throwaway, just meant to build to an Eddie/RVD rematch.

Guerrero sneaks into the ring to nail Van Dam with the title belt. Reverse suplex, to the top, but nobody home on the Frog Splash. Spinning heel kick sends Guerrero out before Charles Robinson decides now he will intervene and stop any additional fighting. JR plays up an inevitable re-match.

Time for the WWF Flashback. It’s the birth of Hulkamania in 1984, ie Hogan’s first title win. This is a lead-in to a womens match, so not sure what that’s about.

Trish Stratus & Jacqueline vs Jazz & Molly Holly

Stratus is the new cover girl of Oxygen magazine, and this match is brought to you by Stacker 2. Nice medley of advertising there. On Molly, King says “Face it JR, she’s a virgin” like she’s a Nazi. He adds “I don’t like virgins”. When JR asks why he just says “I don’t want to get into it”. What’s the horrible story behind that statement, huh?

Molly and Jackie legal first, Molly floored with a shoulder block, then gets her hip toss countered into a few Texan sized ones. Jazz in, Trish in, and Stratus lays on the shots. Jazz misses a corner splash, Trish with more shots but Holly with a sneaky kick gives Jazz the advantage. Hair pull into a slam, Big Splash but nobody home. Hot tag to Jacqueline, Holly knocked down a few times, drop-kick to Jazz, spinning heel kick to Molly but Jazz breaks up the count. Trish and Jazz brawl on the outside, and Trish sent into the ringsteps. In the ring Jacqueline whipped hard into the corner where Jazz nails her with a sneaky belt shot, Molly with a clothesline and the pin in under two-and-a-half.

Winners: The ultimate heel alliance.

Verdict: Quick, but served its purpose.

Trish back in after and gets beaten down briefly before flooring her opponents with a double clothesline. Jazz and Holly retreat, and Trish’s jawing leaves us in no doubt there is more to this one.

Backstage, Flair bears his soul to Arn Anderson, saying he needs respect as the co-owner of the company. AA says that since so many wrestlers, workers and fans don’t believe him, Flair needs to go out to the ring and straighten things out. Flair thinks this is a great idea. Is this an Anderson heel turn or something?

Ad for Shopzone, with literal click sound effects, then another WWF Flashback. This one is Wrestlemania V, and his burial of Randy Savage. Still no sign of the Hulkster.

Out comes Flair. Despite efforts to play up the crowd as potentially against him, he gets a warm reception (“Woo in St Lou” is the best sign). Flair thanks the crowd for their cheers. He’s here to set the record straight. The “what” chants start in earnest. Flair admits he did a lousy job as a special ref, and the thought occurs as to why he can’t just order a re-match. No, it’s just something he’s going to have to live with. He insists it was an honest mistake, and plays some footage of the end of the match to prove his point. This does get boos, and Flair plays the same moment again from a different angle, to prove he couldn’t have seen Austin’s foot. Flair goes back to his spiel of respecting Austin, liking Austin and insisting he and Austin are friends. He wants to take this opportunity to apologise, and shattered glass is his reply.

Austin defers his usual turnbuckle climbs, which draws some comment from JR, but eventually he does clamber up. Big “what” chants as Austin runs Flair down for his “mistake”. The bottom line is that Stone Cold isn’t #1 contender, and Flair is just pissing him off. Flair’s mistake was screwing Stone Cold, and it’s the biggest mistake of Flair’s life. He doesn’t care how many championships Flair has won, and that gets an rise out of the co-owner, who says he’s won 16 championships like they’re his entire identity. Flair wants to bury the hatchet, but Austin is uninterested. He’s starting to wish Flair was Vince McMahon, since Vince at least is a straight-talking son of a bitch. We’re in Austin’s ring, in Missouri (pop!) and Austin has something he wants to show Flair to go with the footage: a middle finger.

Flair wants to make it up to Austin, by making sure the nWo never screws with Austin again. Um, is that the main issue here? He offers Austin a tag match against the nWo with Bradshaw as his partner. So, last weeks main event minus the Undertaker? Flair walks out. What a lame duck finish to this segment.

After the break, the Head Canon Tag Titles are on the line!

Booker T & Goldust vs the New Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & Spike)

Bubba and Spike adorned with undercard gold. If Bubba gets pinned in this one does the Hardcore belt change? The heels hesitate getting in the ring, so Bubba press slams Spike onto them at ringside, nice spot. Goldust thrown in and he and Bubba Ray are legal. Shots in the corner, open hand chop, another, corner smash, some mocking taunts parroting Goldust, as JR claims that T and Rhodes are jealous of the success of The Scorpion King, what? (it looks like there’s an earlier segment featuring the two that has been excised from the Network). Bubba hits a reverse suplex, but nobody home on the Vader Bomb (“that reminded me of a movie, Free Willy”, thanks King). Some strikes back and forth, Bubba with a big clothesline, Scoop Slam, Spike in off the top with a double stomp.

Running forearm gets two, roll-up gets two, but a sneaky kick from Booker lets Goldust get the advantage with a big clothesline. Spike out, and gets sent into the ringsteps and the barricade by T. Back in, hip smash, T in legally to continue the beatdown, big heel kick, two. I love being able to hear Bubba screaming at Spike to kick-out from the corner. Booker hits a big Flapjack, Goldust in, blocks a Sunset Flip until he’s nailed by Bubba, Spike gets two. Takedown, stomps, falling axe-handle, two. Sleeper for a bit, Spike out of it, and hits a facebuster. Running headbutt to the gut, through the legs, one-legged drop-kick and hot tag to Bubba.

Bubba beats down on T, huge Sidewalk Slam, corner clothesline, Goldust sent off the apron, Scoop Slam to T. “We want tables” is huge from the crowd. Falling axe handle after some dance moves, is that Bubba’s new thing? Spike tagged in, sit down splash from the top gets two after Goldust intervenes. Things break down, both heels sent out, and Spike gets to ask Bubba to get the tables. Goldust intervenes to stop Bubba, in the ring Booker able to hit his Scissors Kick on Spike, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in under six-and-a-half.

Winners (and still the NFB Head Canon Raw Tag Team Champions): T and G Productions

Verdict: Fun tag, got more time than I thought it would. But doesn’t seem to really be building to anything?

Booker gives us a Spinarooni before heading out. In the ring Stevie Richards suddenly appears to nail Bubba with a trash can lid, but Bubba out at two. Champ sent out, Spike intervenes but gets chucked out to ringside after a attempting the Dudley Dawg. Outside, Richards sets up the table, but only so Bubba can powerbomb him through it. Some dance moves, and that brings an end to this strangely paced segment.

Another WWF Flashback, and this time it’s Mania #7, with Hogan pinning Slaughter. They’re just going through all of his title wins huh?

JR and King remind us of the main event, before we get footage from “earlier today” of Shawn Stasiak ranting like a crazy person backstage. Tommy Dreamer is here to ask him what he’s going on about, and gets some rhymes back. Regal rocks up, and though this was “earlier today” everyone is in their ring gear. Regal runs Stasiak, “a silly tart”, down for his ramblings, and Stasiak says Regal will have a chance to explore Planet Stasiak in the ring tonight. Regal looks forward to knocking some sense into Stasiak. Still going with this huh? Hard to see where it is going, maybe they’ll have Stasiak go between crazy and sane depending on beatings?

William Regal vs Shawn Stasiak

Takes JR two seconds to bring up Stan Stasiak. His son in like a house of fire, only to get floored by a hard left, with Regal wearing brass knucks. No bell has been run but Regal covers and the ref counts to three. No bell rings after. Um, I guess Regal wins in a few seconds?

Winner: Slick Willy

Verdict: Really struggling to see where this is going.

Stasiak is out cold. “Planet Stasiak just got knocked out of orbit” says King. “He’s been treated like a ‘silly pillock’…whatever that is” adds JR.

Backstage, Flair and Anderson are called to a medical emergency: Bradshaw has been found unconscious! He’s taken to a local medical facility, suffering from a bad case of plot convenience. After the break Flair confronts the nWo in their locker room, who are casually chatting about how much they love beating up Stone Cold. What feud have they been watching? Flair doesn’t believe their claims that they were involved. He denies their request for the match with Austin to be a handicap, and says he’ll go find Austin a new partner right now. After he leaves, Kevin Nash comes out of the bathroom to mock Flair, Flair suddenly turns back up, and demands Nash leave. Not sure what the point of this was. Flair has apparently been able to sort out a new partner for Austin in the ten seconds he was off camera and it will be…The Big Show! The nWo are suitably stunned. Shenanigans incoming.

WWF Flashback is Hogan beating Undertaker, blah, blah blah. JR plugs Hogan’s imminent appearance, and then another WWF Flashback shows Hogan beating Yokuzuna at Wrestlemania IX, and not a sight or sound of Bret Hart. What a disgrace that whole affair was.

After the break out comes Hollywood himself. Big reception, and just to note we have 17 minutes left in the broadcast with that main event to come, so the Champ should get on with it instead of basking in the glow. Hogan says Hulkamania is still running wild. Triple H deserves a rematch, brother, because of Taker’s interference. He moves swiftly on from this paltry attempt to put HHH over, and runs down his various title wins down the years. He was warned about reality, but the reality is that the is the WWF Champion. That’s “Undisputed” Champion Hulkster, get on message. Hogan can die a happy man, having proven Hulkamania is alive and well. Taker better believe in the power of Hulkamania, whatchagonnado, awkward shirt tear where Hogan is literally losing his breath, and seeing this guy blown, after a promo, holding the top strap makes me sad. Music hits, poses, the crowd not as loud as they were at the start. etc. Another month of this to come.

More hype for the main event, which is after the break.

The nWo (Scott Hall & X-Pac) vs Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Big Show

At time of writing Wight has just broken nearly 22 years unbroken service (there was a two month break in there somewhere) with the Fed to sign with AEW, so strange to think he was only in year three/four here. Crowd on his side. Pac still wearing the Kane mask. King plugs Judgement Day, coming on the 19th May. Heels abandon the ring for Austin to hit the corners, then a bit of a stand-off over who is going to be legal. Austin leaves it to Show, and he faces X-Pac. Lock-up, and Pac flung halfway across the ring. Tag to Hall, who looks like he’s limping. Toothpick flung at Show, and Hall flung back shortly after.

Hall decides he wants Austin, and Show obliges. Circling, Austin with strikes, Hall floored, X-Pac cleaned off the apron, then Hall with a kick to the gut that Austin oversells like crazy. Hall with strikes, Pac in, kicks, chops, strikes, but then walks into a spinebuster off a reversed whip. The same to an interfering Hall, then lots of corner smashes for Pac. Hall stomped into oblivion, crowd chanting “what” with every one. Corner chops for Pac, hard whip into the other corner where he joins a sitting Hall, more “what” stomps, Austin can still tap a bit into the crowd feeling at least. Sit down splash to Pac on the ropes, tries the same to Hall but a dodge floors Austin.

Beatdown offence on Austin from Pac and Hall, Hall hits his one move, that Fallaway Slam, then a big right. Pac in, kicks, Hall in, strikes. Another whip reversed where Hall can’t generate any momentum, then he takes a Lou Thesz in one of the worst manners possible, collapsing way too early. Stomps to Austin in the corner, abdominal stretch, X-Pac adds some extra leverage when the ref isn’t looking, but Hebner eventually breaks it up. Stone Cold mounts his comeback, but Hall cuts it off with a stiff clothesline for two. Austin again trying to mount a comeback, and again cut off, this time by a Pac spinning heel kick. Feels like this face-in-peril section has been lasting a while, Hall now with corner clotheslines where they make sure to have the camera on Show for the charges. Hall looks so bad out there.

Austin able to put in a sleeper, Hall out and puts on one of his own, arm drop spot, Austin rallies at three, and hits a “modified Stunner”, aka a jawbreaker. X-Pac cuts off a potential hot tag, but then Show gets it anyway. In he comes, but then he turns to Austin! The shoulder straps are down! By gawd it’s an old fashioned Big Show heel turn! Showstopper Chokeslam! The nWo raise their hands in triumph, but there’s no pin and no result called, the match ending in around seven-and-a-half.

Winners: No contest, but the real winner is The Big Show, “that no good bastard” (thanks Jim).

Verdict: Tag was fine, nothing very exceptional. One wonders why Show went through the charade of the opening minute at all when they could all have ambushed Austin at the start.

Time has run out on this broadcast, ending shortly after. nWShow anyone? I guess they do need to add some people, and Show is the obvious choice to fill-in for an injured Nash, in terms of size anyway.

Best Match: The B&T/Dudleys tag I suppose, but mostly by default, not a lot of stand-out wrestling on this show.

Best Wrestler: Oof, I don’t know? Maybe we can give it to Brock this time, he got himself across as a monster quite well.

Worst Match: Regal/Stasiak wasn’t a match really, and seemed to serve a dumbass gimmick primarily.

Worst Wrestler: The only thing Scott Hall can win consistently.

Overall Verdict: Not a brilliant episode of Raw, mostly wheel turning on some pre-existing feuds that they tried to make up for with that “shock” ending. Just on show to the next PPV, so hopefully next week is a doozy.

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

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #68: Raw (22/04/2002)

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

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