NFB Watches Wrestling #75: Raw (13/05/2002)

It’s the go-home for Judgement Day, yay! It’s the 13th May 2002 and we’re in the Air Canada Centre of Ontario, Canada for episode #468 of WWE Raw! Your main event tonight: Steve Austin takes on a mystery opponent in a lumberjack match! Oh, and Hogan/Flair compete for the Undisputed Title in the middle of the show. But who cares about that, right? Man, looking at the card for this episode before seeing it makes my head hurt.

New Attitude Splash, “Across The Nation”, pyro and JR/King welcome us to the Great White North. Ric Flair has promised an explanation for his actions last week, but first, the Next Big Thing rolls on.

Brock Lesnar w/Paul E. Heyman vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) (Handicap Match)

Surprised it has taken this long for this match to happen. Video highlights of Lesnar annihilating the Hardys over the last month, now he gets to do it to both of them at the same time. Hardys attack from the off, but Lesnar starts battering Jeff very quickly. Jeff back with a drop-kick to the gut, flying forearm, tries another but then runs into a swinging powerslam. The “Goldberg” chants start in earnest. Looking for another, Jeff out, drop-kick to the back of the leg, Matt in and hits Brock with a double axe-handle from the top. It’s not enough to send Lesnar down, and he’s back quick enough with a belly-to-belly. “Brocky Sucks” chants, nice.

Lesnar lands another, stomps, clubbing shots as Heyman screams invective at Matt. Rope drag, Matt trying to rally back with shots, out of a Snake Eyes attempt and flings Lesanr into the corner. Tag to Jeff, shots, jawbreaker, both Hardys in now, Poetry In Motion, double Flapjack, then the stereo leg-drop/splash where Matt very obviously misses. Cover but Heyman pulls the ref out, and Little Naitch calls for the bell in just under three-and-a-half.

Winners (by DQ): The Hardy Boyz, jeez.

Verdict: Eh, was fine, we’ve just seen a lot of this recently.

A pissed off Lesnar drags Jeff back into the ring, sets him up on top but then takes a low blow from Matt. Twist Of Fate, Swanton and the Hardy’s retreat. Crowd popping big. Heyman grabs a mike to demand the music be “freaking” cut. “No, No, No, No, No, Noooo!” Heyman refuses to allow this indignity to stand, and challenges the two Hardy’s to a re-match at Judgement Day. Matt indicates his assent by popping his shirt of, nice. Paul E goes one better and suggests they make it a tag match with Lesnar’s tag team partner…”Me!” Matt goes “Yeah?…Yeah…Yeah!” like he really didn’t know Heyman was going to do this. Everyone stares each other down. OK, at least it’s a match with some story behind it.

Backstage X-Pac and The Big Show wait in Ric Flair’s office. The man himself arrives and declares it to be the start of a new era, and he’s running things from now on. What was he doing before? There’s no room for failure, and that’s why he’s fired Scott Hall. Ding Dong. He blames this on Hall’s repeated defeats to Austin, and you aren’t fooling anyone. Kevin Nash is due back very soon and tonight Ric Flair is going to announce a new member of the nWo. So Flair has joined the nWo then? They really should make this clearer. Flair and Show head to the ring, while Pac stays to “woo”.

“Get The F Out”, and here comes Flair and TBS, to Flair’s traditional music, but they are announced “representing the nWo”. JR tells us the latest member of the nWo isn’t even aware they are now a part of the nWo, what? What is happening here? This is a mess all over.

Flair on the mike. “No ovation for Flair tonight” says JR, ignoring the many “woos”. He demands respect, because he is a WWE heel. He says he was a 16-time World Heavyweight Champion, which makes him 50 times better than the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that sets the crowd off huge. Big pause as the booing eventually quietens, only for Flair to set it off again by mocking the Leafs’ enforcer. He’s the owner of half of the WWE and that makes him a very powerful man. Huge “Asshole” chants and Flair picks one person in the front row and says “They’re talking about your mother sweetheart”, nice.

Flair says there is a problem between him and Austin. He tried to be his friend, (what) tried to tell him he likes him, (what) tried to give him carte blanche on Raw, (what) what does he do, (what) he screws with Flair (what). Austin, like all of Toronto, is trash. To hell with Stone Cold, the crowd and the Maple Leafs. I have a feeling Flair doesn’t care too much about hockey really. Flair can now sympathise with what McMahon has been through, because Austin is a pain in the ass. At Judgement Day he has a real life giant and the Nature Boy to deal with and things get very screechy. He’s going to show the people his power, and makes an Undisputed Championship match, legend against legend, Hulk Hogan against Ric Flair, tonight. Que the music. So, is there a new member of the nWo or not? Man, this sucked. The only redeeming part was Show’s quiet intensity.

After the break JR and King announce that title match will be a no-DQ affair. Backstage, Hulk Hogan arrives via motorcycle, which he leaves unattended backstage because he is a moron.

Shawn Stasiak vs Eddie Guerrero (non-title)

This match comes about after an encounter between Stasiak and Eddie earlier today. Guerrero implied Stasiak was on something, Stasiak took offence, Eddie agrees to settle things in the ring. I’m only surprised they didn’t just make it a title match, most people can get one whenever. Out come the two guys, but before the bell rings Rob Van Dam comes out, and takes up a seat at ringside. A pissed-off Eddie attacks Stasiak, but then runs into a stiff clothesline. Press slam, two, poke to the eye from Eddie gets him back the advantage, but only for a second before he takes a gutwrench slam, two. Looking for a suplex, Guerrero lands on his feet, and a low dropkick brings Stasiak down. Guerrero with a suplex, to the top, has time to jaw with Van Dam, hits the Frog Splash, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just just over a minute.

Winner: Guerrero, with even King passing comment on how short the match was.

Verdict: Nothing match, that continues the burial of Stasiak. He doesn’t need to win, but they can at least give him a few minutes to look better in defeat.

Van Dam attacks in the aftermath, and hits a spinning heel kick where he falls over too, whoops. Eddie dumped out and RVD left standing tall. After he leaves Eddie on the mike demanding Van Dam come back to the ring, insisting he will soon prove “who the better wrestler is in…WWF” before adding “who you think…are…RV…D?” Is Guerrero on something here? Anyway, Rob Van Dam is “Rob. Van. Dam”. I guess it builds to their Sunday match, but this was all so quick.

Backstage, Coach knocks on the dressing room door of Stone Cole Steve Austin, with some trepidation. Debra interrupts and says Austin does want to talk, so she’ll go and grab him. Commentary runs down our sudden Undisputed Title Match, and after the break Austin is out to talk to Coach. The Rattlesnake runs down Flair for running his mouth like the jackass he is, and isn’t interested in his friendship. He doesn’t respect Flair, or care how many times he has been champion. He has no problem with the handicap match on Sunday: “Big deal”. He’s not impressed by his opponents. Does Flair deserve a title match? No, he does not. He’ll be watching that match later, but at Judgement Day Flair will find out why you don’t screw with Stone Cold. Milking the “what” chants a bit much, but this was other wise fine. JR runs down the title match again, like we could have forgotten.

After the break, an advisory: “The actions you are about to witness are those of Tommy Dreamer and not World Wrestling Entertainment”. OK…It’s a day in the life of Tommy Dreamer: brushing his teeth, brushing his dog’s teeth, peeing, shaving…his tongue. Now he’s drinking from the urinal. Fade to black. What the hell was that all about?

Back in the real world William Regal is on commentary ahead of our next match. Why? I’m not sure.

Terri vs Molly Holly

Regal runs down D’Lo Brown for squaring up to him last week, while King waxes lyrical about the swimsuit competition on the same show. Weird crossover of feuds here. Regal says he’s happy to watch “the fillies”. Terri attacks as Molly enters the ring, corner smashes, then a takedown. Mounted head smashes into the mat, Scoop Slam to King’s delight, “Come over here and slam me!”, two. Molly gets the upper hand with a clothesline, suplex, two. Rope choke as the Euro Champ compliments Molly and JR criticises her for being a virgin. Who is the heel here? More head smashes, Holly to the top, and Terri belatedly crotches her. Slapped hard, Terri goes up, and hits a big rana from the top in fairness to her. Only two though. Looking for a suplex, Molly reverses it into an inside cradle, and that’s enough in just under two-and-a-half.

Winner: Molly Holly, picking up a win clean for some reason.

Verdict: Lawler had it right at the bell: “Crap”, save for that rana.

Molly attacks after the bell and tosses Terri out. Regal leaves commentary to hit the ring and complement Molly on her decorum. It would be his honour to escort Molly up the ramp away from the Toronto scumbags. WWE’s newest power couple?

Backstage, Flair heads to the ring. After the break, that Undisputed Title Match is up, not even 40 minutes into the show.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan (c) vs Ric Flair (WWE Undisputed Championship) (No DQ)

This was a WCW PPV main event three years before this. Vince at least smart enough not to put two oldies in such a situation nowadays. Hogan out on his bike, so I imagine there will be Deadman-related shenanigans later. Face off in the middle of the ring, Flair goes for a shoulder block after faking a stretch, and Hogan just knocks him down. Lock-up, Flair knocked down again a JR says Flair “strategically” put himself in this match. Yeah, some strategy. Lock-up, Hogan backed into the corner but then Flair flung back. Flair out, grabs a chair and Little Naitch takes the chair off him even though this is no-DQ. Sigh. Flair gives him a shove, Robinson shoves back, and then hides behind Hogan.

Test of strength, Flair gets the advantage somehow, chops in the corner, but Hogan no-sells. Back with strikes and chops of his own, then elevated punches and the enthusiastic crowd counts them out. Flair collapses theatrically, and then off a Hogan whips tries his patented corner somersault to the apron, but fails spectacularly, just like he did at Wrestlemania. Appalling. Flair goes out under the ropes instead, to the top, but intercepted and flung off. Flair begging off, Hogan not interested, goes for a choke and as Little Naitch tries to break it up (again, this is meant to be a no-DQ) Flair gets in a low blow. Hard rights from Flair, headlock strikes, stomps. “Let’s go Hogan”. Flair dumps the Champ out, tries to smash his head in the ringpost, but Hogan resists and starts beating down Flair. Into the ring-steps, then back in. Pointless segment.

Back body-drop, Flair begging off again then gets some room with a thumb to the eye. Weak looking chop sends Hogan down, two. Flair drops a knee, but Hogan blocks it, and then locks in a Figure 4. Flair makes a ridiculous show of getting the ropes that are right next to him, and Hogan breaks despite the stip. Hogan nails a suplex for two, nobody home on an elbow drop, Flair with a chop but that just sets the hulking up in progress. No selling strikes, back with some of his own, big boot, Flair lands in the wrong position and has to be rolled into the right way, Atomic Leg-Drop but here’s X-Pac to break up the pin. Crowd unhappy.

Hogan gives Pac the right hand to end all right hands, and in comes Big Show to attack Hogan, which brings out Bradshaw to attack Show. Bradshaw chases Pac into the crowd, and now here comes Austin! Sure, why not. Flair looking for the Figure 4, then turns into a Stunner, Hogan adds another Atomic Leg-Drop and that will be all in just over eight-and-a-half.

Winner (and still WWE Undisputed Champion): Hulk Hogan, at the end of the mess.

Verdict: Pretty rubbish, as you would expect from two old guys who can’t fully go, and that was before things became super over-booked with four separate interference spots. This is not late-era Nitro!

Hogan takes off on his bike, and not sight or sound of the Undertaker. Just everyone else it felt like.

A new “Get The F Out” promo. This one is a man and a woman having sex in a car in some car park, and the “WWF” logo steaming on the window getting replaced with a “WWE” one. That’s raunchy, even for the the ‘E at this time. It’s like the “The Catholic Church, we’ve made a few…changes” skit from The Simpsons. Replay of what we just saw, and can I add that Flair can’t take the Stunner properly?

Backstage, Ric Flair is annoyed at the state of affairs. He can’t understand how he could have lost with that “damned giant” in his corner. He goes on to describe X-Pac as “one of the greatest of all time”, who is writing this? Leave Flair some credibility. Flair starts turning over tables and decides Bradshaw will be the focus of his rage. He’s going to be in a handicap match tonight against Big Show and X-Pac. Flair wants Bradshaw brought back to him, “dead or alive”, what? Further, Austin is going to be in a lumberjack match, with the men at ringside handpicked by him (so, all heels then). There, Stone Cold will be introduced to the newest member of the nWo. Woo! I’ll admit, worked up Flair is entertaining in a “What is wrong with that old man?” kind of way.

Jazz c) & Stevie Richards (c) vs Trish Stratus & Bubba Ray Dudley (WWE Womens & Hardcore Championship)

This screams overbooked just looking at the above. So it’s Backlash 2001 rules, if the Champions win they both retain, if one of the challengers gets the win, whomever that is will win the title of the person they have pinned. It’s the most lame-ass of inter-gender rules, as Bubba can only be legal against Stevie and Trish can only be legal against Jazz, so it’s really two single matches happening concurrently. How is this not a PPV match? It’s way too convoluted for TV.

Bubba press slams Trish into the heels at ringside to start. Things breakdown with the rivals facing off, Jazz and Trish into the ring to start officially. Corner clothesline and elevated punches from Stratus, Stevie coming up from behind but Trish dodges so he corner slams Jazz instead. Bubba adds a slam, Jazz collapses onto Stevie’s crotch, yuck, yuck, yuck. Trish throwing weapons in the ring, and twice fails to clear the top rope with a trash can, to laughter. In the ring Jazz waits too long to turn to take a can shot, looked terrible.

Bubba laying in shots on Richards, Stratus adds a STOP sign shot, and now Bubba has a hockey stick. Stevie takes a big shot to a huge pop. Now the two men are seemingly legal, Bubba hits the Bubba Bomb on the STOP sign, but, as if things weren’t convoluted enough, here’s Justin Credible to break up the count. Superkick to Stevie, but Crash Holly is now here to break up the count. Trash can lid shot to Stevie, but Credible uses a fire extinguisher to break up that pin. Bubba enacts some order by destroying a guitar on Credible’s head.

Richards clears Trish off the apron, tag to Jazz, and Stevie runs off with Bubba in pursuit. Stratus slowly into the ring with some help from the Womens Champ, Jazz hits the Chicken Wing Slam, a disastrous looking whip chain is abandoned, Stratus hits the Stratusfaction OUTTANOWHERE and that’s it in just over four.

Winner (and new WWE Womens Champion): Trish Stratus, oh and Bubba Ray Dudley as well I guess?

Verdict: Oof, a mess. They really had to swap the Womens Title in a match dominated by the men of the Hardcore Division?

Jazz attacks in the aftermath but Trish takes her down again. Bubba is back in the ring, Stratus insists he bring some form of four legged holding device into the fighting space and the crowd pops big. Bubba has some trouble with a trashcan now, what’s going on, are they weighted or something? Anyway, table set-up, and Trish helps Bubba hit that Avalanche Powerbomb, only Bubba jumps so far he only breaks the table with his ass. On the night Trish Stratus becomes WWE Womens Champion for only the second time, the segment ends with Bubba’s music playing.

JR reminds us of the main event, and the graphic is an amazing shot of Stone Cold next to a CAW-esque outline wearing a cheap nWo shirt, brilliant. Backstage, The Undertaker is approached by Coach. He wants to know Taker’s thoughts on what happened to his bike last week. Deadman Inc isn’t in a chatty mood, and walks off after a death stare.

Jerry Lawler plugs the WWE Magazine as JR plugs Judgement Day, its card, and its theme song. The Edge/Angle graphic features them both bald, to the cheapest of cheap pops.

Backstage, Goldust is excited at the prospect of being a lumberjack for the main event, celebrating with a rendition of the Monty Python Lumberjack song. Pan to Booker T, who is in an actual lumberjack outfit, fake beard and all. T is furious at how this happened, which makes no sense at all really, was he tricked into wearing this? Looks hilarious all the same. T suggests Goldust wear the outfit, and storms off. I thought Booker was angry at Goldust for stalking him?

The nWo (X-Pac & The Big Show) vs Bradshaw (Handicap Match)

23 minutes left for this, the main event, and whatever Hogan/Taker shenanigans we’re going to get too. Pac to start for the nWo, and knocked down quick. Hard whip into the corner, and Bradshaw wants Show. Show obliges, Bradshaw with shots, running shoulder, tries for another but gets a kick in the back from X-Pac in the process and then takes a hard looking elbow from TBS. Pac back in, shots, but Bradshaw back on top quick. Spinning powerslam gets two. Pac with a shoulder on a corner charge but then walks into a back body drop. Falling elbow gets two, and now the nWo double teaming.

To the outside, and Show flings Bradshaw into the ring steps with authority. Back in, Show legal, Scoop Slam, elbow, hard right, headbutt, slow stuff it has to be said. More headbutts, more elbows. Pac in, martial arts kick in the corner, snapmare, leg-drop, two. Show in, Bradshaw trying a comeback, big boot to X-Pac, rights to Big Show and the big guy cleared off the apron. Pac tries a top rope crossbody, countered into a Fallaway Slam. Perhaps looking for the Clothesline From Hell, but Show with a hard looking chair shot as he tries, that Nick Patrick apparently misses. Show in, Showstopper Chokeslam, another, and X-Pac back in to get the cover in just over four-and-a-half.

Winners: The nWo, and at least they are picking up wins.

Verdict: Pretty pedestrian. Only so many more times we can see Bradshaw fight these guys, and Show looks worse every time he gets in the ring.

After the break, WWE New York is decked out for Raw, and Lawler plugs the web broadcast of Judgement Day. Replays of the last match, and JR wonders if Show will have to Chokeslam Austin twenty-two times. Man, I hope not. Main event is up shortly, as Austin takes on nWo CAW.

Backstage, Hulk Hogan is geared up to ride his bike home when Coach rocks up. Hogan thanks Austin for his help, and having initially decided to ride his bike around Toronto “and spook the creeps out of the neighbourhoods”, what, he’s going to stick around to help Austin out. Thankfully Undertaker attacks, lays into Hogan with a tire iron, and leaves the Champ lying. Hogan gets tied to the bike, and helpfully lies there immobile so Mean Mark can make sure the rope is nice and tight. Taker rides off and there’s a really obvious cut to another camera man. We get some sound effects of things crashing off-screen. Honestly, looks kind of fun. Immediate replays of what we just saw, then back to “live” footage of Hogan being dragged around the arena. He gets drifted into a big pile of cardboard boxes. “Welcome to my world” says Taker, and he walks off cackling. Man, this was overkill. After the break, yet more replays of what we just saw. Hogan gets medical attention, with his neck strapped up. But he needs that to wrestle! Less than ten minutes left in the broadcast, and time for the main event.

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs ??? (Lumberjack Match)

Lumberjacks include Booker T, Goldust, Regal, the Hardcore division, the nWo, Flair and Lesnar, so basically every heel going. Austin out and just starts laying into people at ringside. He gets beaten down quick, and is then rolled into the ring. Flair on the mike to announce that his opponent, and newest member of the nWo is…Booker T! OK, I guess that isn’t the worst choice. JR plays up that this “is news to Booker T”, but T doesn’t look like this comes as a shock. Booker on the attack, beatdown in the corner, chops, side kick, mounted punches, tries a Savate Kick but Austin ducks, right hands then a spinebuster. Big Boss Man pulls Austin out and now Stone Cole brawls with the lumberjacks. BBM and Raven taken out, but here comes Lesnar. Big Brock throws Austin into a ringpost, then the side of the ring a few times, then back in. Hard to credit that it was a non-feud with Lesnar that would end Austin’s career a short while later. Anyway.

Booker gets two, Austin mounting a comeback, Booker out of a Stunner attempt, but then gets nailed with another spinebuster. Mounted punches, but when he goes for the falling elbow Big Show pulls a low bridge. Austin goes over the rope very slowly, and a beatdown commences on the outside. Back in, kick to the mid-section, and Austin waits patiently for the Scissors Kick. Spinarooni but Austin back up to hit a few clotheslines. Booker cuts him off with a superkick, two. Austin dumped back out for another beatdown from Flair and X-Pac, before TBS drops him on the barricade.

Back in, Austin hits a low blow as the ref argues with Flair, clears a few heels off the apron, Stunner to Regal, roll-up on Booker and that’s a 1, 2, 3, even though T’s shoulders are clearly up, in just under five-and-a-half.

Winner: That damned Rattlesnake.

Verdict: Oof. I mean the bits of wrestling were fine, but this was just a five minute beatdown of Austin by a bunch of undercard mooks, which ended with Austin pinning the newest member of the nWo! It was ten-on-one! Come on!

Austin heads up the ramp after popping Raven, but then Arn Anderson attacks from behind! Lesnar chucks Austin back into the ring. Showstopper Chokeslam, Flair attacks the ref, then Show drops a big elbow. Another, a third, some knee drops, then another Chokeslam. Crowd dead. Flair adds some punches and stands tall with Big Show as the broadcast ends. Booker isn’t even in the ring with them!

Raw has four matches announced for Sunday’s Judgement Day then, lets have a look.

Guerrero/Van Dam – Should be fun, only surprised it isn’t a gimmick match. Can see RVD winning and it heading to a third match blow out.

Hardys/Lesnar & Heyman – Tag seems set-up for Team Xtreme to get their own back without damaging Lesnar, but still think he walks away with another destruction show here.

Austin/Flair & Big Show – Oh boy, this could be really bad. I suppose Austin has to get the rub, but there’s no outcome that would satisfy me really. If only they had given Austin a sabbatical or something, he clearly has little to care about anymore.

Hogan/Taker – I know the result of this one, without having seen it. Honestly, it could be a disaster, and they’d be doing well to get even ten minutes of half-assed wrestling out of Hogan.

Man, this is an underwhelming half of the card. As for tonight:

Best Match: I guess the opening handicap match by default?

Best Wrestler: I dunno man. I think Booker had another decent showing throughout this Raw, but it’s not saying much.

Worst Match: So many options, but I’ll go Hogan/Flair, which was bad for what it was and then got even worse with the interference spots.

Worst Wrestler: So many options again, but lets say Austin actually, who looked so not bothered out there.

Overall Verdict: Raw is in a state right now, with a month of build that was average at very best, and some of the worst stuff WWE/F has pulled in years at the lowest ebb.

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 #75: Raw (13/05/2002)

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

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