NFB Watches Wrestling #73: Raw (06/05/2002)

It’s the, ahem fallout from Insurrextion! It’s the 6th May 2002 and we’re in the Civic Centre of Hartford, Connecticut for episode #467 of WWE Raw! Wait, WWE? Whaaaaaa? Your main event tonight: Steve Austin, Bradshaw and Ric Flair take on the nWo!

So yeah, the “E”. The Fed is dead, with the suit from the World Wildlife Fund reaching its culmination at this time. They tried to frame it as a positive, that they could use the change to emphasise the “entertainment” in “sports-entertainment” but I remember thinking it was one of the most bizarre things that could have happened at the time. It felt so wrong seeing the modified logo, and for years afterwards the company would blur the old one on broadcasts. I had just about given up on the product at the time, and I’ll admit the name change did sort of propel me along that path, it was like it was a different company. So, how did WWE handle it on-screen at the time?

Brand new “Attitude Entertainment” splash, then a video package of a gardener trimming a “WWF” hedge into “WWE”, before making it explode. “Get The F Out”. Wow, remember that? “Across The Nation”, pyro and JR/King welcome us to the brand new world of WWE. “New look, same attitude” promises JR, and we begin this new era with a title match.

Jazz (c) w/Stevie Richards vs Trish Stratus (WWE Womens Championship) (No DQ)

JR runs down tonight’s main event, before we get a recap of Richards winning the Hardcore Title last week. Not a word on the 20 title changes over the last week. “We hear that Jazz and Richards have been inseparable”. You saw them together on Saturday! Trish attacks from the off, Sunset Flip gets two, then kicks in the corner. King decides he doesn’t like Jazz because she ruined a wet T-Shirt contest once, ugh. Trish gets a roll-up but Richards distracts the ref, and when the challenger chases him off it allows the Champ to attack from behind. Beatdown on the outside, back in, some vicious kicks, double underhook suplex and Jazz is feeling confident. Adds another, two, rope choke, two, then an elevated Chicken Wing into a facebuster, looks nasty.

Trish dodges a clothesline, hits a high kick, then the Stratusfaction but Richards pulls the ref out. In to nail Trish with the Steviekick, ref back in, and that’s it in just over three.

Winner (and still WWE Womens Champion): Jazz with Stevie, the ultimate power couple.

Verdict: Too short for a title match, but presumably we’re getting yet another re-match off of the finish.

Bubba Ray is here with a trash can to assault Stevie, and Jazz, to King’s delight. A table is grabbed and set-up, Bubba Bomb to Stevie and that’s a 1, 2, 3.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Bubba Ray Dudley

Jazz attacks Bubba with a trash can lid, Raven appears and hits a Raven Effect OUTTANOWHERE and gets the pin.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Raven

Justin Credible the latest to appear, superkick, 1, 2, 3.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Justin Credible.

Crash Holly is here to hit a missile drop-kick from the top, and you know the drill.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Crash Holly

Lilian Garcia is announcing all of these by the way. Holly runs into Bubba, gets a trash can to the face, and then somehow in the confusion Trish gets the pin on Crash.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Trish Stratus

Bubba grabs Trish, but before he can give her the wood he gets a fire extinguisher sprayed in his face by Jazz. Bubba, blind, grabs Trish and gives her a vicious powerbomb through the table, which commentary sells as a case of mistaken identity. Richards sneaks in to get the pin on Stratus.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Stevie Richards

Stevie beats a hasty retreat, and Bubba realises what he’s done. He heroically carries Trish away, like this makes it OK. JR praises Bubba, because of course he does. Damn, this was messy, but the crowd loved it for what its worth.

Backstage, the nWo, minus Nash, emerge from their locker-room, including Scott Hall, so I guess he hasn’t been sacked just yet. After the break they are in the ring, with Show on the mike, oh goody. “You little people”, um, drink?, have small attention spans, hence why he wants to show us footage of his betrayal of Austin two weeks ago. Is there anything more beautiful? He’s out here to explain why he did what he did, and if he gets “what” chants he’ll break everyone in half. This, of course, generates the loudest “what” chants ever. TBS says he main evented Wrestlemania two years ago, this year he was in WWE New York, and he blames Stone Cold for some reason. You can’t stop or control someone like Big Show, and people are denying what is rightfully his. He’s a pissed off giant, and he’s happy to supercharge the nWo. And there’s nothing Ric Flair can do about it. This was quite rambling and all over the place.

Out comes Flair, fully dressed. He doesn’t care much about Show’s reasons, and criticises him for whining. He apologised to the nWo last week for missing that rope break, but it’s “tough shit”. He doesn’t like the nWo, and he then announces the main event like it wasn’t announced last week. Hall puts his hand up like he’s in class, and now he’s talking. He runs down Flair, and says that the nWo has a surprise for Flair and the whole world. It’s going to happen in the ring, and it’ll change the company for ever. Que music. Hmm. Hall sounds drunk, honestly, but I do wonder what’s in store. After the break, time for a second title match.

Spike Dudley (c) vs William Regal (WWE European Championship)

Here we go again. We get some basic highlights of Insurrextion during Regal’s entrance, focusing on Spike’s injury and then roll-up win. King is incensed at Regal being “besmirched” in his own country. Dudley out limping, and before he’s even got to the ring Regal is on the mike. He says Spike’s courage is admirable, and that it’s unfortunate he agreed to to this title match before Insurrextion. So, wait, Spike signed for this match, then signed for another match against the opponent for the previous night? What? Seems like they should have a title change in Wembley and then had this as the rematch. Regal offers the Champ the chance to forfeit the Euro Title, because if he doesn’t, he’ll get a thrashing “you filthy, disgusting little shitehawk”. Spike with some rare mike time in response, says forfeiting might be the smart thing, but Regal has put things in perspective. He attacks and away we go.

Spike trying a sleeper but gets flipped off and slammed. Regal stomping the ankle, Scoop Slam into the ropes, Regal latches on a sort of ankle lock/half Boston Crab combination and Spike taps out in just over 30 seconds.

Winner (and new WWE European Champion): William Regal, but of course. Should have let him get some heat at home!

Verdict: Too short to merit much judgement.

Regal on the mike again after to declare himself the greatest European Champion of all time, and then attacks Spike as he is being carried away by the refs. Back into the ring, stomps on the injured ankle, then puts on the same submission again. Then, of all people, out comes D’Lo Brown! Regal gets a pop-up powerbomb and retreats as D’Lo sees to Spike. Random to see Brown coming out after a lengthy absence, he’d been in OVW and Puerto Rico for most of the previous year, but hey, at least the next programme is set-up.

Backstage, Ric Flair looks miffed. He tells Arn Anderson if there any surprises tonight, he wants to know about it. It wouldn’t be a surprise then would it? He decides to “address the locker room” and stalks off as AA nods. Hmm.

“Earlier today”, Booker T comes into a 7-11, trying to avoid Goldust, who has apparently been stalking him all week. The cashier, who from his acting talent I presume is some random WWE employee, says he hasn’t seen any gold men around, and T heads to the back to get himself a Slurpee. After telling some kids to get out of the way, Booker is outraged at the lack of Booker T cups. This segment brought to you by Slurpee. T jaws briefly with a cardboard cut-out of Rob Van Dam, before being accosted by Goldust, who wears “an elaborate disguise” of a basketball jersey and cap. He apologises for last weeks “mishaps” and says he wants Booker to team up with him against RVD and Jeff Hardy. Random combo there. They’d make a great team, being undefeated (and the NFB Head Canon Raw Tag Team Champions of course). Further, he wants to trade a drink of his Slurpee for a bite of T’s weiner. T runs off, terrified at homosexual innuendo. “Mind games Booker!”. I was into it until the gay panic.

Back in the arena JR and King queue up a recap of Brock Lesnar destroying both Hardy Boys and then Shawn Stasiak at Insurrextion. “Brock Lesnar is a certified monster”. We have a Lesnar/Stasiak re-match imminently. Backstage Lesnar does pull-ups before being summoned by Heyman.

Elsewhere Ric looks around the nWo locker room, and his suspicions are raised by the discovery of an APA hat. He runs off, presumably to remind Bradshaw that he is not on-brand.

Elsewhere elsewhere The Undertaker arrives at the arena on his motorbike, and tasks some random guy with guarding it. In the background, we see X-Pac and Scott Hall converse. Shenanigans! Five backstage segments in a row, think that’s a new record for this re-watch.

Shawn Stasiak vs Brock Lesnar w/Paul E. Heyman

Stasiak has new theme music that amounts to random sound effects. Tough Enough 3 is taking applications if anyone is interested, that would be the season of Bob Holly nearly murdering Matt Cappotelli, the infamous “Lisa incident” and the future John Morrison strolling his way to victory (along with Cappotelli of course). Stasiak attacks Lesnar as he enters the ring but gets flung back pretty easily. Tries a clothesline but walks into a drop toe-hold. Clubbing blows, rope drag, stomps in the corner and then a choke. Corner clothesline as the crowd starts chanting “Goldberg”, first time I’ve heard that. Lesnar shuts them up with a big spinebuster. Heyman demands that his charge hurt Stasiak some more, two backbreakers followed by a big slam. “Break him in half!”. F-5, standing pin, and that’s it in just over two.

Winner: Brock Lesnar, 4-0 (the tag didn’t count).

Verdict: Stasiak fed to Lesanr’s push once again, and you have to consider him dead and buried.

Backstage The Undertaker stalks the halls, and, with a real “Wait a minute…” energy, discovers that his precious bike has gone missing. He asks the security mook, who has remained rigidly in place throughout the apparent theft, who took it with some force, and the answer is “Hulk Hogan”. Taker is displeased by this news, but the mook gets to run off.

“Get The F Out” video again, just in case it didn’t annoy you earlier. Crowd is non-responsive to it anyway. JR and King run down the Judgement Day main event situation and the closing segment of last weeks Raw. Out comes the Deadman, sans hog. But wait! That’s not The Undertaker! It’s Hulk Hogan. And he is the opposite of sans bike. JR predicts “a nasty battle”. One guy who can’t bump and one guy who doesn’t care? I’ll say it’ll be nasty.

Hogan does his taunts to “Rollin” and soaks in the crowd’s love for a good bit before getting on the mike. He reminds us of some of the things Taker said last week, and invites him to see how much Hogan has changed since the last time they were in the ring together. Yeah, he’s gotten slower. Hogan walks out to Taker’s bike, and suggests that if his challenger wants it so bad, he should come out and try to take it off him.

The real Undertaker comes out, very much sans bike. Takes a while for him to talk what with all the “Hogan” chants. He knows Hogan rides bikes, so he knows Hogan knows better than this. Knowsamania is running wild. Judgement Day, Hogan will get the beating of his life, but Taker has sent people to a local medical facility for giving his bike funny looks. Hogan has one opportunity to avoid getting his teeth kicked in, and Hogan gives us a literal “blah, blah, blah” and suggests that Taker either do something or be considered “the bitch that you are”. After taking an awkward second to get the bike going, Hogan struggles to get the bike up the ramp, and it’s hard to tell if he’s gunning it ineffectually to annoy the Undertaker or if this is one of the most amazing botches ever. Eventually Hogan just gives up, walks up the ramp, but Taker has already retreated. “Such a bizarre night here” says JR as the camera stays rigidly on them as the sounds of a bike revving in the background go on. Hogan is suddenly back on the bike, now he has gotten it going, and gets to the top of the ramp. I guess it was a botch then, good Lord. According to Bruce Pritchard the bike needed petrol, and that’s what some hand was giving it when the camera was locked on commentary. Amateur hour!

Backstage, Hogan stalks the halls on the bike, and has to make a hilariously awkward three-point-turn at one point. This is also why they had to sort the bike thing out before, otherwise this pre-filmed segment would make no sense. “He’s gone down all the hallways” says JR after Hogan has gone down two. Out to the loading bay, Hogan abandons the bike, but the Deadman is nowhere to be seen. Seeing a handy truck, Hogan decides to use it to wreck the bike. Thankfully the keys were left in the truck.

After the break, Hogan finally goes through with it and runs over the bike. Did they need the break to replace the bike with a prop one or something? Bike doesn’t look too bad really, but Ross insists it is “destroyed”. Anyway, back to actual wrestling.

Rob Van Dam & Jeff Hardy vs Booker T & Eddie Guerrero

JR announces that RVD and Guerrero will go again for the IC Belt at Judgement Day, yes please. Random combinations here, but four guys who arguably deserve to be main eventers more than the men currently occupying those spots. “Guerrero never goes on vacation because he is on a permanent ego trip”, nice Jerry. Eddie and Van Dam to start, lock-up, waistlocks, wristlocks, takedowns, and both men are equally matched. Whip chain into a monkey flip from RVD, Eddie dodges a heel kick but not a superkick. Eddie ends up on Van Dam’s shoulders, and gets a facebuster for his trouble. Booker in, strikes into the corner, RVD reverses it into some corner spears, but then eats a side kick. Back with a spinning heel kick, and in comes Jeff to the delight of all the young ladies. Running forearm to T, heels to Eddie, but Booker gets the upper hand back quick enough.

To the outside, and Eddie puts in a bit of a beatdown with an angry Van Dam distracting the ref. Back in, RVD cleared off the apron, and Booker gets his Scissors Kick. Spinarooni, only then into the cover and Van Dam breaks it up. Hardy back with a drop-kick off a pop-up from Booker, then counters a whip into a DDT. Eddie and Van Dam back in, Van Dam dodges a charge, big corner flip gets big air, stepover heel kick, Booker ranaed out, Rolling Thunder to Eddie, but T back in to break it up. Van Dam tossed out, Hardy in to hit a modified DDT on Guerrero, follows up with a Tilt-A-Whirl and Goldust is suddenly in the ring only to get flung out by Jeff, landing awkwardly on Booker. Hardy hits a Swanton, Van Dam hits a very loose looking Five Star right after and that’s enough in just under six.

Winners: Rob Van Dam and Jeff Hardy, the High Risk Connection.

Verdict: It was OK, would have liked to see it go longer. Jeff was lost in a sea of no narrative.

Commentary cuts straight away to a recap of Hogan trashing Undertaker’s bike, then gets cut off in turn by a throw to backstage. Coach is with Terri. She’s challenged Molly Holly to a swimsuit competition. This will apparently teach Holly what for after she called Terri trash. How does that work? Coach gets a sneak preview and looks suitably impressed.

Elsewhere Ric Flair is with AA. He’s suspicious about this APA baseball cap, and wonders if Bradshaw was even attacked the other week. He’s off to Bradshaw’s dressing room to investigate further. Very unrealistic all of this: like Bradshaw gets his own dressing room?

In the ring, time for the aforementioned swimsuit contest, hosted by, of course. Jerry Lawler. I will not belabour the point here, Terri comes out, Molly comes out, and Holly is carrying a pair of flippers. “I don’t see any water” offers JR, thanks for that. He also calls her the “Hilary Clinton of the WWF”, and you know what Boomer Sooner Jim Ross means when he says that (also it’s WWE now Jim, come on!). Anyway, Molly’s swimsuit is practical, Terri’s is revealing, and Hartford naturally prefers Terri. Molly is unhappy since Terri is dressed more like a stripper. Terri gets the flippers, King pulls Molly off and that brings this nonsense to an end.

Backstage, Ric Flair arrives at Bradshaw’s dressing room, which looks gigantic. Bradshaw isn’t there, but Flair finds Kane’s mask inside. A clue! Flair heads to Austin’s dressing room next to blow the lid on this whole conspiracy.

After the break Flair has quick traveled to his destination. Debra tells him Austin isn’t there, but luckily Bradshaw is. Flair outlines the evidence with all the tact of Cole Phelps, and Bradshaw is unimpressed. He’s heading to the ring to kick some nWo ass, and Flair can come if he wants.

Elsewhere, the nWo head to the ring. After the break, the main event is up.

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

Dissension among the faces seems to be the story of this one. Before Austin comes out we cut backstage where Undertaker discovers his “destroyed” bike. He lays in some weak looking shots on the bike out of frustration, then chucks a handy pallets at it. Then he’s off to find Hogan. After he leaves a limo pulls up and out steps Kevin Nash. I hope the surprise is better than that. After the break the entrances are completed when Austin actually gets some screentime. Debate as to who is going to start, initially it’s Bradshaw but Austin just tags himself in, to face X-Pac.

Lock-up, Pac down off a shoulder charge, then spinebusted straight to hell. Hall in to the take the same move, double headbutt sends Hall spinning before he calmly retakes his place on the apron. You have to sell it better than that man. Pac misses on a drop-kick, stomp to the gut from Austin, then a catapult into the corner. Looks like Austin is sizing Pac up for a Stunner, but he doesn’t turn like he should and Austin puts in some corner smashes instead. Was that a botch? In comes Hall, oh boy. He takes a Lou Thesz almost immediately, forearm drop, looking for the Stunner but Hall pushes out of it, kind of, it sort of looked like Austin just changed his mind. Austin wants Show, and in comes the big man.

Lock-up, Austin backed into the corner, lock-up, Austin flung into the ropes, lock-up, Austin flung into the corner. He’s strong, we get it. Stone Cold back with strikes, but then takes a back body-drop. Bradshaw tags himself in, so does Hall, why, and the nWo man gets flung around for a bit. Corner clotheslines, strikes, chops, and Hall has had enough and sends in X-Pax. Waltman shoulder charged down straight away, pinning powerslam, two. Sends Pac running, catches him on a crossbody attempt, Fallaway Slam. nWo finally gets some room with a spinning heel kick, after spending five minutes taking moves.

Show in, Bradshaw beaten down in the corner then tossed to the opposite corner. Headbutts, and Bradshaw has been busted open again. Big boot, crowd dying slowly but surely with the slow offence. Bradshaw trying a come back with strikes but cut off quick. Falling elbow, Hall in, and now he hits his patented Fallaway Slam for two. Show back in, another headbutt, strikes, knees to the head. Think there are “We want Flair” chants? Really? Pac in, stomps in the corner, chops, Bradshaw trying to come back, but cut off again with strikes. Now Bradshaw gets a big boot, elbow drop, two off a Hall break up. Things breakdown with Flair coming in and everyone bar Bradshaw and Pac end up brawling in front of commentary.

In the ring Bradshaw hits the Clothesline From Hell OUTTANOWHERE, but Show pulls him out of the pin so he can send him through the announce table with a Showstopper. Austin attacks Show, but double teamed with Hall involved. Into the ring, Austin being beaten down, but then he floors Pac and Hall with a double clotheslines, then hits the rarely-seen Double Stunner. Big “Austin” chants as he locks eyes with Show. Hey, why isn’t Bradshaw being counted out?

Show and Austin going at it, no idea where Flair is, and Show takes control with open-hand chops in the corner. “Let’s Go Austin”. He gets tossed across the ring, dodges a clothesline but looks like he tripped in the process and he stumbles out of the ring, very weird moment. Show throws him back in straight away, so I assume that was a very strange botch. Corner clotheslines, Show jaws with Jim Ross for a bit, then gives Austin another back body-drop that gets a loud “Shit! from the Rattlesnake”. Beatdown in the corner, Austin gets boots up on a charge, then a second rope Lou Thesz and mounted punches. Looking for the Stunner, pushed off and Show gets a big boot where Austin sends Hebner flying. The ref very obviously scooted behind Austin for that, looked terrible.

Flair in with a chair, Show knocks it away but before he can hit a chokeslam Austin hits a low blow. Stunner, cover, but no ref (and neither man is legal anyway!). Austin drags Hebner back in but then Flair nails him with the chair! A few shots to the legs! He calls for a mike and says his next official act as Raw owner is to announce that at Judgement Day Austin will face Show and Flair in a handicap match. What? Locks on a Figure 4 as Show laughs and Hall adds some leverage. So, has Flair joined the nWo? Crowd not reacting to any of this at all. Time runs out on the broadcast. No result, so we’ll call it a no contest in just under 16.

Winners: Smackdown, which looks brilliant in comparison.

Verdict: Was as good a six man as you could reasonably expect until everything went to hell in the last few minutes. Turning Flair heel is all well and good, but doing it like this, with seconds left in the broadcast and it unclear if Flair has joined the nWo, is really foolish. Also, where was Nash? Raw’s main event scene continues to flounder.

No time for anything else tonight and maybe that is for the best.

Best Match: I guess by default the mid-show tag, that was a half-decent showcase for the four guys.

Best Wrestler: You know what, X-Pac was trying out there. He’s the only member of the brand’s nominal top-heel faction who can go.

Worst Match: Regal/Spike wasn’t much of one.

Worst Wrestler: I guess Scott Hall does get it one more time.

Overall Verdict: A disappointing episode. Raw’s top players are different shades unfit, unmotivated or operating with terrible material. Only three real matches in 93 minutes and a real “spinning our wheels” sense to things. Not looking forward to the Raw side of Judgement Day.

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

This entry was posted in Reviews, TV/Movies, Wrestling and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #73: Raw (06/05/2002)

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

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