NFB Watches Wrestling #74: Smackdown (09/05/2002)

The WWE era rolls on! It’s the 9th of May 2002 (filmed on the 7th) and we’re in the Harbor Yard Arena of Bridgeport, Connecticut for episode #143 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle team up to take on Edge and Hulk Hogan! But forget all that, because we’re about to see a very special debut.

New Attitude splash, “Get The F Out”, “Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Bridgeport as we zoom in on a “Hogan Is God” poster. Not for the ratings my friend. Judgement Day is ten days away but Smackdown only has one match on the card, so lets see if we can change that.

She’s got legs, and she’s using them to walk to the ring: it’s Stacy Kiebler getting an honest-to-goodness entrance. After treating us to a bit of a dance in the ring, emphasis on “a bit”, she’s on the mike to introduce her boss, Vince McMahon. “Here comes the big cheese!” cries Tazz, a precursor to “Here comes the pain!” perhaps? He thanks Stacy for the warm introduction before bathing in the “Asshole” chants. He gets Stacy to get one more mike, just so she can show off her posterior. Ugh. Vince says she’s a model employee, who will “do everything I tell or ask her to do”. Big “what” chants in response. Not everyone on Smackdown is the same calibre as Kiebler however, as Vince tells us there are some “dissident employees”. Wow, what a term.

#1 on that list is one Triple H. He broke McMahon’s edict not to interfere in the title match last week, and that cost Chris Jericho. Vince has some new rules for the Game: he has to stay ten feet away from McMahon, will do exactly what Vince tells him to do and will do it with a smile. If Haitch doesn’t comply there will be hell to pay. “Time to play the game!”

Full entrance for HHH, and he takes up position in the ring about ten feet from Vince. Big “Triple H” chants. He asks Vince if it looks like ten? Or is it nine, eight, seven, six and now he’s right up in McMahon’s face. Is the boss going to destroy him, or is everything that comes out of his mouth bulls**t”? Love the look on Vince’s face here. Triple H thinks it’s a lie, just like when Vince tells Stacy he can satisfy a 20-year-old woman. She’s 23 here, for the record. HHH gets up close and creepy with Kiebler to prove his point, and could do with less of that. Haitch implies Vince is a withered old man with bad breath and a bad toupee. “Oh, that’s stiff!” says Tazz. Triple H runs down Vince a bit more on the sexual front, and suggests Stacy is just waiting for him to die. And if he gets in HHH’s face anymore, he’s going to speed up the process. Lot of death threats recently. McMahon dismisses Stacy. He’s not going to listen to Triple H’s insults, and off comes the jacket.

Before anything can happen Vince vacates the ring and out comes what I am going to call the Alliance of Heels: Hardcore Holly, Test, Christian, Reverend D-Von and Lance Storm. They surround the ring then attack Triple H from all sides. Triple H beaten down as the crowd calls for Hogan. Out comes Chris Jericho to complete the set. Bob Holly gets in a powerslam, I’m sure he enjoyed that, Test gets in a pumphandle slam but HHH rouses himself after a slap from Y2J. Heels retain control, steel chair shot to the head and the Game is busted open. Jericho locks on the Walls as Vince mocks the son-in-law. The boss takes the chance to announce that the Game is going to hell at Judgement Day with Jericho…Hell In A Cell that is! That’ll be the first HIAC since Armageddon, right? The heels depart, save Jericho who keeps the Walls locked on for a bit longer. I suppose this did what it had to do and set up a big match, but it took forever.

After the break we get a replay of what we just saw, that has taken up nearly a fifth of the overall running time. Time for some actual wrestling.

Tajiri (c) w/Torrie Wilson vs The Hurricane (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

Cole takes the chance to mock “the wonderful people” at the World Wildlife Fund for forcing the name change. “Yeah, it’s real easy to mix up a WWE Superstar and a…a…a panda!” adds Tazz, struggling in a manner that rather undercuts the snark. Not sure what Cane has done to deserve this shot, probably about as much as he did to earn a Tag Title opportunity last week.

Test of strength teased, but Tajiri the with a hard kick. Cane back with a clothesline as commentary decide to talk about Hell In A Cell, great. Elevated punches in the corner from Cane, Tajiri out of it, kicks and Hurricane put into the Tree Of Woe. Baseball Slide to the head, kicks, and Helms out of it now. Trading shows, Tajiri looking for a powerbomb, Cane out of it and hits a Tornado DDT off a charge, then a neckbreaker, two. Looking for the Chokeslam, Tajiri shrugs it off, handstand springboard elbow sends Hurricane down. Helms back with a hip toss over the rope, the Champ shoves Wilson back when she tires to help him, and even heel Tazz is giving out about that.

Cane with a somersault tope over the top to only a very mild pop, back in, kick to the back from Tajiri, looking for the Buzzsaw, but suddenly Torrie is on the announce desk! She’s taking the kimono off! She’s wearing blue lingerie, so everyone is delighted. Tajiri leaves the ring to give out, and gets the words fastest ten count to end the match in just about three-and-a-half.

Winner (by count out): The Hurricane, doing his part in a story that has nothing to do with him. Tajiri retains the title.

Verdict: Match was fine, one big spot, but it wasn’t about the wrestling.

Tajiri heads back into the ring, and takes a Chokeslam, so everyone wins? Wilson heads off to her own theme music, so I guess her relationship with the Champ is over. You’d think Billy Kidman would be involved in all of this.

Backstage, Vince and Stacy are with Chris Jericho. They all slap themselves on the back for the beatdown of Triple H, and Y2J predicts he will end the Game’s career at Judgement Day. Vince wants to pile on the pressure and, decides HHH will be in a match tonight. “TESTIFY!” Reverend D-Von arrives, and McMahon says his prayers have been answered. Everyone laughs about how evil they are. Cackling heels all round.

An ad for 7-Eleven. Rob Van Dam verbally and physically assaults some kids who aren’t enthusiastic about his Slurpee cups. Moving on.

Backstage, Al Snow congrats Hurricane for his performance, but then compares him disfavourably to Spider-Man. Cane is insulted, and insists he can take Spider-Man in a fight. He offers to replace Snow’s Spider-Man shirt with a “Hurrishirt”. Snow points out a note that has been left on Cane’s locker, which contains a message that someone knows the Hurricane’s secret identity. Cane has a feeling it might be that jealous Peter Parker, and leaps away to investigate. “It’s worse than that time I talked to a head”. Interested to see where this ends up.

Test vs Mark Henry

They’ve literally been building to this for a month, but feels fairly low-key. I like how Test’s titantron is just him beating up refs. Cole refers to Test as “Doubting Test”, as in “Doubting Thomas”, after all of the feats of strength he has bet against recently. Now that’s weak. Henry on brand coming out, wearing a “Get The F Out” shirt. Lock-up, Test flung back, lock-up, Test flung back. Test of strength, but Test with a knee to the gut. “Test Of Strength”, that would be a good finisher name for this guy. Shots in the corner, stomps, big corner clothesline, another, a third, then floors Henry with a regular clothesline for two. Henry back with a clothesline, shoulder charge, Test with an elbow off a corner charge, to the top, caught on a crossbody attempt and slammed hard.

Only two, Henry looking for the Big Splash, nobody home, Test looking for the Big Boot, Henry dodges, press slam to Test, just about, lands the Big Splash but Test has his foot on the rope. Test set up on top, Henry follows, Test fights back, Henry knocked back, Test nails a flying elbow but only two. Looking for the Big Boot again, Henry grabs the leg, counters into a Full Nelson, Test shoves the ref and is able to get a low blow. Big Boot and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over three-and-a-half.

Winner: Test, a “future world champion” says Tazz. Uh huh.

Verdict: Was fine, Henry is obviously pretty limited in what he can do but they worked around it well enough.

Backstage, Kurt Angle is with Christian. Christian brags about “kicking Triple H’s ass”. Kurt posits that Chris Jericho did most of the work, but Christian ignores this. He congratulates Kurt on challenging Edge, still his kayfabe brother, to a hair-vs-hair match and Angle agrees, pointing out that once Edge is bald, of the brothers Edge will “be the ugly one”, which gets genuine laughs with Christian’s befuddled reaction. Christian throws a tantrum because he wants to see Edge bald and ugly now, and Angle soothes him by telling him to stay tuned to what happens later tonight.

Elsewhere, the Tag Champs and Rico are interviewed. Asked about the “really embarrassing” last few weeks, complete with highlights of them being pantsed/Stinkfaced, Billy reacts angrily, claiming Rico needed to get 23 facials to wipe the stink of Rikishi’s butt of his face. Tonight, the three of them are “coming out”…to face Al Snow, Maven and Rikishi in a six-man tag. The most stylish thing Rico owns is a black belt, and tonight the faces get embarrassed.

Elsewhere elsewhere, Reverend D-Von hands his collection box to a mostly off-camera muscled up guy with cool tattoos. Could it be? Already? After the break, we find out.

Reverand D-Von (w/Deacon Batista) vs Triple H

Here he is, making his on-screen WWE debut sooner than I had realised, one Dave Bautista, only totally bald so he looks a little like Dr Evil honestly. 33 at the time, he was a reject of the WCW Powerplant who wound up in OVW as “Leviathan”, winning their top strap and feuding with Doug Basham and “the Prototype”, aka John Cena, in the process. After barely two years there WWE had a good inkling of what they had on their hands, and he’s had been making sporadic house show appearances for the last while. Just looking at the guy you can imagine dollar signs in Vince’s eyes, and it won’t take all that long for him to rocket up the card in the ‘E, relatively speaking.

D-Von on the mike to give a sermon. He’s in a place of sinners, but fears no evil. He introduces his new follower at ringside who is here to protect the D-Von Building Fund. He tells the Deacon to keep one eye on the box, which is actually chained to him, and one eye on the ring, where the Reverend will soon beat the sin out of Triple H. The Game out with a head bandage, limping and rushes the ring.

D-Von knocked down a few times, clothesline, back body-drop, avoids another but then walks into a spinebuster for two. Shots in the corner, and the Reverend able to counter a whip into a flapjack into the ropes. Clothesline, two, mounted punches, hard right, Triple H back with a few of his own but then overpowered and knocked to the outside. With D-Von distracting the ref Batista goes to work against his future Evolution boss, and blasts him with the collection box. Rolled back in, but only two on the pin.

Snapmare, falling elbow, to the second rope and D-Von hits a flying shoulder block for two. HHH busted open again, rope choke, another snapmare, to the top but nobody home on a flying headbutt. Triple H “dodges” a clothesline (D-Von aimed too high), nails a neckbreaker then goes to grab a chair from ringside. Intercepted by Batista, strikes, but then HHH dodges a charge and the future Animal goes into the ringpost. Back in, Triple H looking for the Pedigree, Batista grabs the ref, and Y2J is here to nail Haitch with the collection box. After a bit of a wait, D-Von gets the cover and the win in just over four-and-a-half.

Winner: Reverend D-Von, and it’s a legit big win too.

Verdict: Fine match, nothing much more than that really. Triple H still doesn’t work as an “overcoming the odds” heel.

“That collection box is meant to be for heavens work, tonight it’s for Jericho’s damn…dirty work!” Thanks Michael.

After the break out comes Kurt Angle. Cole and Tazz argue about the upcoming hair-vs-hair, as Cole suggests Angle will be fully bald, not “half-bald” like you. A sheepish Tazz insists this is his preference. In the ring, Angle runs down his match at Judgement Day against “my old pal” Edge. Huge “what” chants. He knows Edge can be “a wisenheimer”, but two can play that game. He puts an image up on the titantron of Edge as he is, and then presents his visions for a bald Edge. Said image probably has the head bigger than it needs to be really. Angle repeats the trick, but while his back is turned the image is of a bald Angle, looking pretty similar to how he will look come Judgement Day actually. An infuriated Angle insist Edge change the image, and it is duly changed to “You Suck”. Angle wants to know how Edge will respond when he’s “a big bald-headed freak!”. He demands Edge show himself.

But it’s not Edge that comes out, it’s Hulk Hogan to a big pop. Face-to-face with Angle, Hogan says that if Angle has a problem with bald people, brother, then he has a problem with him. Some of the best champions in the industry have been bald, like Billy Graham, Steve Austin and you know who. What is this, bald advocacy? Hogan warns Angle that his head is what Angle is going to have pretty soon, and suggests mother nature will succeed if Edge doesn’t. Cutting close to the bone there I think. Angle hopes Taker kicks Hogan’s butt “real good”, and it’s amazing how the crowd dies with that statement. There’s only one real American hero in the Fed, and that’s Angle. He’s “the single most success story” in the industry, OK. Hogan’s had enough, attacks, and Angle gets a big boot that sends him out. Angle retreats as Voodoo Child hits. Alright segment, I can think of stupider ways to get Hogan involved in this feud.

After the break Tazz shouts out “Broken” by 12 Stones, Judgement Day’s official anthem. It’s that nice mix of loud verse guitar, quieter choruses and insubstantial lyrics about pain and heartbreak that WWE loved at the time, and still does really.

Backstage, McMahon, Jericho and Kiebler revel in their villainy when Angle rocks up. He’s so worked up he can’t decide whether he wants Edge or Hogan tonight, and Vince has the answer playa: a tag team match, with Edge & Hogan vs Jericho & Angle.

Billy, Chuck & Rico vs Al Snow, Maven & Rikishi

This one brought to you by Sony Pictures’ The New Guy: “A Zero Will Rise”. “I heard that was your life story”, nice Cole. Crowd pops bigger for the heels it has to be said. Recap of the Stinkface from last week again where Tazz insists Rico’s face “was embedded in Rikishi’s ass”, which is a bit much. “Rikishi is tough as nails, and his ass is full of venom”, OK.

Chuck and Snow to starts, waistlock takedown from Al, Chuck back with strikes, Snow with some of his own, shoulder charge, headbutts to the chest, running forearm, two. Fast start to this one. Kish in, Chuck with strikes but Rikishi back with some flooring ones of his own. Big clothesline, the heels cleared off the apron but Chuck with a thumb to the eyes gets the advantage. Rico in, tries a Sunset Flip, Kish looking for the drop but Billy in to save his stylist. There was no tag but Billy just legal now, oops. Rikishi floors him with another big clothesline, and in comes Maven.

A sneaky shot gives the heels the advantage, Chuck in, corner spears, “Maven” chants, the Tough Enough winner coming back with strikes, but then Palumbo nails the “Chuck Deluxe” as Tazz calls it, a belly-to-belly. Rico in, martial arts kicks in the corner and Maven cut off by a shot from Billy when he tries a comeback. Chuck in, Maven out of a Snake Eyes attempt and hits a DDT. Hot tag to Snow, floors Billy a few times, heels cleared of the apron again, sit-down powerbomb gets two. Chuck back with a superkick, Kish in to nail a Samoan Drop, then a superkick of his own. Rico in to try and take Rikishi down, but Kish and Maven take turns knocking him about. Corner charge sends Rico sitting in the corner, Kish calling for the Stinkface, but the Tag Champs intervene. Snow takes a spinning heel kick from Rico, Billy hits the Famouser and I guess Billy and Snow were still legal because he gets the pin in just over five-and-a-half.

Winners: They’re coming out, they want he world to know, they want to let it show.

Verdict: Fun six-man, had a good pace and thankfully they cut out some of the stupid low-brow comedy this feud has been saddled with recently. Not sure where it goes from here though. We need more tag teams on Smackdown.

Backstage, Randy Orton is interviewed. His two week history in WWE is run down, with highlights. Orton says his dad taught him opportunities don’t come very often in this business (unless you have a family name, eh Randy?). He has to go out there and perform, and suddenly Lance Storm is here. He’s sick and tired of hearing about how much of a prospect Orton is, when Storm has been relegated to placing bets on Mark Henry. Fair point. Tonight he’ll prove he’s better than Orton. Exeunt. Man, Orton was struggling on the mike, very flat delivery, but he’s just starting at this level so it is forgivable. Storm/Orton should be fine.

Commentary introduces highlights of the motorcycle shenanigans on Raw, where they have cut out the mechanical difficulties, making the whole thing seem more seamless. Will Undertaker be here tonight? We get reminded of our main event, before getting reminded to “Get The F Out”.

It’s time for the Burn Of The Night, brought to you by Stacker 2. The burn is Torrie Wilson taking off the kimono. OK, great.

Randy Orton vs Lance Storm

“Randy, Marry Me” says a sign. I don’t know if you want that. Cole points out there is no ref in the ring, and that statement brings out Hardcore Holly, who is in a ref’s uniform. Announced as the special guest ref, Cole suspects Mr McMahon might have had a part to play in this. “Ya think, Cole?” asks Tazz. Lock-up, Storm knocks Orton back, but Randy with a flying forearm. Strikes in the corner, but Holly intervenes and lets Storm get a cheap shot to the back of the head. Spinning heel kick, strikes, standing crossface, neat. Orton with a shoulder on a corner charge, clothesline, another, then a big standing drop-kick for two, with Holly begging off on the third.

Storm with a kick, but then runs into a swinging powerslam. Slow count gets one, Storm with a roll-through off a fireman’s carry, Orton set up on the top, and Cole speculating that Kiebler is into Orton because he’s “single, attractive”, OK, take it handy. Storm looking for a superplex, but Orton knocks him off and then lands a big crossbody. Holly counts two slowly and we get a kick-out, and even Tazz is complaining. Storm up to lock in a half-Boston Crab, Randy in a lot of pain but reaches for the ropes. Holly pushes them away, and Orton submits in just over three-and-a-half.

Winner: Lance Storm, and he isn’t going to be winning many on this brand.

Verdict: Fine screwjob match, but it probably went on too long given the inevitable result, At least a story is being forwarded.

Holly attacks Orton in the aftermath, beatdown from the heels, and the face in to make the save is Val Venis! Sorry, I mean “The Big Valbowski”. He scares the heels away, and he and Orton are left standing tall. Tag next week then? Reminder that Smackdown only has two matches announced for Judgement Day, so they could save it for then. I doubt it though.

Backstage Edge is in Hogan’s locker-room looking for the Champ. Seeing it empty, he dons the cap and the bola to do a half-decent Hogan impression in the mirror, complementing his “largest arms…well, pretty big arms”. The real Hogan turns up, does his catchphrases properly and the two head to the ring. “That was so cool, he called me ‘brother’!”. Edge as an easily impressed dork doesn’t work for me. The main event is up after the break.

Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho vs Edge & Hollywood Hulk Hogan

Hogan milks the entrance for as long as he can, so he can lessen what I can only assume is limited in-ring time. Hogan and Angle to start, circling, jawing, Angle with a right hand to no effect. Another, the same. A third, the same again, yes we get it. Now Hogan back with blows, floors Angle, elbow drop, Jericho in to break it up but nails his own partner. Scoop Slam, more elbows, throat punch, corner smashes, just slow, simple offence. Edge in, double elbow smash, Angle trying to rally back but then eats a spinning heel kick. Now Kurt able to nail a belly-to-belly, and in comes Jericho.

Chops in the corner, Edge with a leg up on a corner charge, missile drop-kick, modified facebuster. Angle in but gets flung out quick enough. Flapjack to Y2J puts him on the ropes, elevated punches, but Angle able to pull Edge off with Hogan distracting the ref. Reverse DDT from Jericho gets two, stomps, takes the tape off his wrists and chokes Edge. Angle in, stomps, suplex, two. Resthold as the “Hogan” chants get loud, Edge battles out and a double crossbody spot sends both men down.

Hot tag to Hogan and Jericho in too after an enziguri from Edge. Shots to both heels, double headbutt, double clothesline, terrible looking big boot sends Angle out. Jericho attacks Hogan from behind, hulking up in process, big boot, Atomic Leg-Drop, but Angle pulls the ref out at two. Things break down, Edge hits the Edge-A-Cution to Angle, low-blow from Jericho to Hogan, locks in the Walls, not sure why Edge is down, and here comes Triple H with a sledgehammer. Shots to everyone, face or heel, and then Tim White too. No bell is called, but that’s it in just under seven.

Winner: No contest I suppose, same as Raw.

Verdict: Was what you would expect, and I’d rate it higher if it had an actual finish.

Triple H’s music plays for a few seconds before Vince suddenly comes out. He suggests HHH hits him with the hammer and heads to the ring. He says if the Game hits him “it’ll be the last thing you ever do in this life”. So he’s going to murder him? What is with all of the death threats recently? Triple H takes a big swing, Vince dodges (in fairness to him, he lets his son-in-law get pretty close), and Jericho gets in a chair shot. Y2J left standing tall as time expires.

Best Match: Not a lot to talk about here really, so I’ll go for the six-man tag that was fun and kept that feud ticking over.

Best Wrestler: Edge, for basically carrying the Undisputed Champion.

Worst Match: The non-finish of the main event means that I have to pick it.

Worst Wrestler: Just one more week till they get the top strap off the guy who simply can’t go.

Overall Verdict: A lacklustre episode that gassed itself momentum wise in the opening segment and then never got going again. Still better than Raw though.

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 #74: Smackdown (09/05/2002)

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

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