Save us blue brand! It’s the 16th of May (filmed on the 14th) 2002 and we’re in the Molson Centre of Montreal, Canada for episode #144 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: yet another “Slap two single feuds together” tag, as Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle take on Edge and Triple H!
Recap of last week: dissident employees, bloody beatdowns, Hell In A Cell announcements, money boxes, sledgehammers. The different moments even get time stamps like it’s an episode of 24 (which, in a moment of incredible coincidence, ended its first season a week after this episode aired). “Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Montreal. 72 hours way from Judgement Day, tonight we’ll have…a swimsuit competition between Stacey Keibler and Torrie Wilson. OK, whatever.
Out comes Triple H, sans shirt for some reason. After his full entrance, he’s on the mike. Vince McMahon doesn’t get it. He thinks he can knock HHH down, beat him up and book him in “the most lethal match ever devised” and he’ll go away? The reality is “here I am”. What is he, Jubal Early? Haitch is right back up and getting in McMahon’s face, and soon he’ll be close enough to chew him up and spit him out. This Sunday, he’s taking Chris Jericho straight to hell, and wants to give Y2J a little taste. He wants Jericho in the ring, consider it purgatory, and he can start to burn.
But it’s not Jericho who comes out, it’s Edge! Big pop. He gets in the ring with the Game and compliments his “stirring speech”. He reminds Triple H that he hit Edge with a sledgehammer, which gets Cole saying “Oh yeah, that’s right”, like he genuinely forgot. Edge says he and HHH are both meant to be “good guys” (with the faces of babes he doesn’t add), and not have problems with each other, but they have a problem. Ever since last week he feels like he wants to play the Game, and he probably doesn’t mean Know Your Role. Haitch bites back that he is most definitely not a good guy (he may in fact be a heel or in-between) and he’s right here.
Edge has heard enough and attacks, brawling, and then suddenly Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho are in the ring. Why would they interrupt? Faces beaten down, Angle has two finishers built up so is able to give Edge a Spear, before Triple H is sent into the ring steps. Jericho holds Edge and Angle uses a scissor to cut off a lock of his hair. HHH scares the heels off with a steel chair, and they retreat up the ramp. Looks like we have ourselves a main event! Would have preferred Triple H/Edge though. Good to see them putting Edge in this spot though, it’s a sign they wanted him in that main event.
Promo for Hogan/Taker. Judgement Day has a gallows theme this year, nice. Replays of what we just saw because there will only be five matches tonight and it’s a 90 minute show.
Backstage, Vince is with a bathrobe clad Stacey Keibler. She gives him a sneak peek of whats to come, and he reacts like the filthy degenerate he is, suggesting he “gives those pups a little nuzzle for good luck”. Ugh. Thankfully Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle arrive to gloat about their accomplishment. Vince seems a bit confused for some reason, maybe because Angle is waving some hair in his face, then says that tonight is a night for fun, so why don’t they team up to take on Edge and HHH. Angle makes sure to say goodbye to Stacey by name, nice. Looking forward to the next tag more than the main event to be honest.
Lance Storm & Hardcore Holly vs The Big Valbowski & Randy Orton
Recap of last weeks special ref shenanigans and Valbowski’s save. They think enough of Orton to give him a separate entrance and he charges the ring to square off with Storm. Orton dodges a drop-kick but then takes a stiff clothesline from Holly. Holly in, dueling chops in the corner, Storm cleared off the apron but Holly maintains the advantage. Hits that big drop-kick, leapfrog chain and Orton hits his own drop-kick. Valbowski and Storm in, Venis cleaning house, back body-drop to Storm, suplex slam to Holly, spinebuster to Storm. Orton in, to the top, big crossbody gets two.
Orton hits something like the Overdrive, looks awful as a finisher, but Holly breaks up the count. Valbowski and Holly brawling at ringside, inside Storm hits the Superkick, but Orton counters the pin into a roll-up, with the tights, for the three in just over two.
Winners: You know, Venis and Orton would be an appropriate team. You know why.
Verdict: Very quick tag, but all four guys looked good. Orton continues to be put over big, but they didn’t need to have him no-sell Storm’s finisher.
The faces celebrate on the ramp while the heels look miffed.
Recap of the Hogan/Taker stuff on Raw, that doesn’t look any better with Age Of Empires 2-esque music playing over it. Hogan arrived here earlier tonight, sans bike, and limping.
Backstage, Torrie Wilson walks around in a pink robe, when Maven rocks up. He wishes her luck in her swimsuit competition tonight and I swear Torrie’s “Thanks” is delivered with the tone of a woman who wants this loser to no longer be talking to her. He saw what happened last week, and wants to know if she’ll grab a bite to eat with him later. Torrie agrees, with all the feeling of a woman who will say anything to exit the conversation. This two have just about the worst chemistry in the history of wrestling, Maven just isn’t ready for this kind of backstage segment, he has no confidence in him.
One man who is confident is Reverend D-Von, with Deacon Batista, who arrives to lambaste Maven for his impure and sinful thoughts about “that bleach blonde Jezebel”. Maven squares up like Torrie is his wife, dude I’m not even sure she’s going to turn up for your first date. Luckily Al Snow arrives to even the odds, as much as Al Snow can be said to be able to even the odds when the opposite guy is Dave Bautista, and D-Von says that Maven will get salvation later. There are worse set-ups I suppose.
Elsewhere Gregory Helms, ace reporter for the Daily Globe, arrives in the locker room to question Funaki about the notes The Hurricane has been getting, as they are evil notes and Funaki is wearing an “Evil” t-shirt. Whatsupwitdat? Before Funaki can even answer properly Helms notices another note pinned to Funaki’s back. “Hurricane, congrats on your title shot tonight, but take heed if you win, because then your pain, will surely begin”. Helms leaps off to investigate further. Who could it be? And why do random people keep getting title shots? And is Funaki even still a wrestler?
Elsewhere elsewhere, Jericho is interviewed. His actions tonight were a message to Triple H, and this Sunday he’s going to expose himself as a merciless competitor. HHH will face the real Jericho when they are locked in Hell In A Cell. Unneeded promo, it feels like they have no confidence in the feud to sell tickets, hence bits like this. Not one bit of HIAC lore or highlights either.
Rob Van Dam shills for Slurpee cups. Moving on.
Reverend D-Von w/Deacon Batista vs Maven w/Al Snow
D-Von on the mike to praise the almighty. Batista will be in the crowd tonight soliciting donations, but the pitch is interrupted by the arrival of Maven. D-Von hammering away in the corner to start. Cole pronounces “Deacon” as “Dee-Con”. The Reverend with a rope choke, Scoop Slam, to the top, but no one home on an elbow drop. Maven with a roll-up for two, another with the same result, DDT, two. Will we see the devastating Maven drop-kick? Not just yet, as Maven hits a German instead. Batista distracts the ref allowing D-Von to hit a low blow, “Saving Grace”, basically an elevated reverse DDT, and that’s enough in under two.
Winner: God I guess?
Verdict: Pretty short, but it was fine. Love Cole’s response to the result: “There should be a new commandant, ‘Thou shalt not hit…below the belt!'”, good one.
D-Von puts in a few shots after the bell, Snow in to floor the Reverend but then eats the collection box from Batista. Tag next week then?
Backstage, Stacey Keibler hangs out in her locker-room, as Cole ogles her. Suddenly a dwarf calling himself “E-Man” bursts out of one of her lockers. He’s here to plug some kind of camera with his name on it, then heads back inside the locker. Stacey just smiles. What a weird segment.
Garden-based “Get The F Out”, and when we’re back Tazz is in the ring to introduce the swimsuit competition. Keibler out first, then “the liberated” Wilson as Cole says. I remember when these two were the totality of the female talent brought over from WCW, and had to do matches with the likes of Lita and Stratus who actually knew what they were doing, now that was hard to watch. Wilson is up first, but before Torrie can whip off the robe Tajiri is here! He covers her up and forces her up the ramp. Tazz just stands by and watches this kidnapping for some reason. Keibler gloats on the mike and declares herself the winner by default. Tazz insists she has to show us what the winners got. Keibler tells the crowd to go jump, and makes to walk out, turning face in 2021 terms.
But wait! Trish Stratus is here, and of course she is in a robe. They focus more on that than the Womens Title she’s holding. Cole reminds us that as Womens Champ Trish works for both shows, and I thought that rule had gone out the window when they realised Smackdown didn’t have a womens division. Anyway, Trish walks around in her underwear for a bit to a big pop, Stacey tries to hit her with a shoe but Stratus ducks and knocks Keibler out of the ring. Tazz declares Stratus the winner. Keibler throws a fit at ringside then runs off. Please, no title match, please.
Cole plugs the main event before it’s time for the Clearasil Smack Of The Night. It’s Trish winning the Womens Title on Raw, which would have made more sense to remind us of before the last segment.
Backstage, Vince is with D-Von and Batista when Stacey walks up, outraged about what just happened. She wants a Title match with Trish, no, Vince thinks this is a great idea, please no, and makes it official for Judgement Day, oh God. But McMahon wants the D-Von protection fund to provide protection for Stacey. After clarifying for the outraged Reverend that he doesn’t mean condoms, McMahon says Bubba Ray will probably be in Stratus’ corner, so he wants the Reverend and the Deacon there for that reason. Dammit, now I actually kind of want to see it. Before Vince is even finished talking Billy & Chuck’s music is playing over him.
Rico w/Billy & Chuck vs Rikishi
Billy distracts Rikishi so Rico can get in a cheap shot to start us off. No big effect, and Rico floored off a hard right. Big throw, clothesline, then a pop-up cutter, that was cool looking. “He looks like a cat but hits like a mac truck”, what? Cover, but Chuck pulls Rikishi off. Kish to the outside and gets blindsided by Billy with the ref looking the other way. Back in, Rico with kicks in the corner, elevated knee, but then walks into a belly-to-belly slam. Hard whip into the corner, and Rico pulls the ref in the way to avoid a corner splash. The Tag Champs in to attack , Rikishi clears both of them out only to eat a spinning heel kick from Rico. Only two, isn’t that his finisher? Rico tries a Sunset Flip for some reason, Kish counters into a drop, and that’s the 1, 2, 3, in just over two.
Winner: Rikishi, good to see him get a win. Make that cutter a finisher!
Verdict: Short, but fine. Not sure where this feud can really go from here.
Kishi puts on a hat and dances on the ramp to a big pop. The Tag Champs look miffed.
Promo for Hell In A Cell, with a title card saying “Two mothers have started praying”. A lot of death and dying talk around the ‘E recently. Cole plugs the live webcast, before we cut backstage, where Vince is continuing to be an dirty old man with Keibler. The Tag Champs and Rico arrive, and McMahon is furious to learn that they lost to Rikishi. His punishment is for Billy & Chuck to be booked to defend the titles against Rikishi at Judgment Day, with Vince to pick Kish’s partner. The bad guys are dismissed so the boss can go back to groping Stacey, ugh. I can only imagine what kind of nonsense this is going to serve up, presumably it’ll be a heel of some kind so it’ll be a three-on-one. That’s our card for Judgement Day full by the way.
Elsewhere, Triple H is interviewed. This Sunday there isn’t going to be anybody to help Y2J once the cage lowers. Jericho can call Mick Foley on his book tours (nice plug) if he wants an idea of whats going to happen, since HHH ended that career inside HIAC. Suddenly, a wild Edge appears. He says he and the Game still have a problem, but Haitch responds that Edge should go win a few world titles before he can square up. Edge wonders if he should marry the bosses daughter and sleep his way to the top, yeah give it to him. Triple H says Edge can do what he wants, as long as he starts tomorrow. Stare down. Exeunt. Will the faces be able to get along?
Tajiri (c) vs Billy Kidman vs The Hurricane (WWE Cruiserweight Championship) (Triple Threat)
This sudden PPV level match, featuring the entire division, is brought to you by The Sum Of All Fears, remember that film? Yeah, me neither. The Champ attacks Kidman before Cane is even out, and those two brawl away before Helms gets between them. Faces with a double hip toss to Tajiri, both pin and both break it up. Cane dodges a Kidman clothesline, looking for Chokeslam but Tajiri intervenes. Kidman hits a sit-out powerbomb on Tajiri for two, then Cane in to hit a neckbreaker. Hurricane to the top, crotched by Tajiri, the Champ follows him up but tossed off only to land on his feet. Kidman with a Tornado Bulldog to Tajiri where Cane gets knocked off the top, Kidman to the top, hits the Shooting Star just about, but Cane pulls Kidman out. Going for his own pin on Tajiri, but Tajiri with a foot on the rope. Do rope-breaks count in Triple Threats?
Tajiri knocks Kidman back out with a handspring, looking for the Buzzsaw on Hurricane, dodge, Cane hits the Chokeslam and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under two-and-a-half.
Winner (and the neeeewwwww WWE Cruiserweight Champion): The Hurricane! Whatsupwitdat?
Verdict: Stunned at seeing a title change in so quick a match. It was fine, but it needed to be longer, or preferably on PPV.
We go straight to a rundown of the Judgement Day card, like a title change means nothing. Backstage, Hulk Hogan paces a hallway. He’s on his way out, next.
After the break, here comes the Champ, big reception in the same country where he re-wrote the book on crowd reactions at Wrestlemania 18. Hogan limps to the ring, because he is allergic to cardboard boxes I guess. Bathes in the enormous crowd reaction for a good long while, and it is something else, with Hogan near tears at the adulation. It takes a few minutes for him to get to talk at all. Writing this just after he got booed two consecutive nights at Wrestlemania 37, so big, big change.
Finally gets to talk, and thanks the crowd for the love. Another pause for “Hogan” chants. He hopes the dream never ends, because “reality sucks” due to “9-1-1” (that’s how he says it). He knows Hulkamania will live forever. He’s in the process of calling out Taker when out comes Vince McMahon. He gets in the ring and squares up to Hogan. “You screwed Bret” chants, nice. McMahon begs to differ with Hogan, and says reality doesn’t suck, Hulkamania sucks! Ohhhhhhhh. He enjoyed what happened on Raw, describing Hogan as like “a great big bag of roadkill”. What is this, a shoot? Vince says Hogan used to be an icon, but no more. Hulkamania is “diseased”, it has a “terminal illness”, “cancer” (did it get a LETHAL DOSE…OF POOISON?). Undertaker is going to bury Hulkamania and the crowd responds negatively.
Hogan staring bullets into Vince as the crowd urges McMahon’s removal. McMahon says he was Dr Frankenstein, and he created Hulkamania, and he can always destroy it. The red on Hogan stands for the blood that’s going to slow on Sunday, and the yellow is for the streak that goes all the way down Hogan’s back. Vince follows this up with a slap. I’m not really seeing McMahon’s angle here, it isn’t like he has back-up. Anyway, Hogan knocks Vince down, drops the leg and the crowd goes nuts. As build to Judgement Day it did little, but the crowd reaction has to be seen to be believed. You pity the poor main event that has to follow this. Speaking of.
Kurt Angle & Chris Jericho vs Edge & Triple H
Crowd has cooled off considerably as the Smackdown upper card in its entirety comes out. Recap of what happened earlier. If this ends in a non-finish I riot. Angle taunts Edge with his lock of hair, Edge hits the ring and starts brawling before HHH even gets there. Brawling to start, and Edge/Jericho end up legal with the other two fighting at ringside. Edge with chops, big flapjack, flying clotheslines as Tazz outlines the hair-vs-hair stip with helpful electric razor noises. Haitch in, hammering away on Jericho but Y2J back with a thumb to the eyes. Tag to Angle, who eats a running knee straight away.
Edge back, dueling shots, Edge with a spinning heel kick, to the top, knocks Jericho off, but then Angle leaps up to hit that belly-to-belly, awesome. The Game breaks up the pin, Jericho in, chops in the corner, snapmare, drop-kick to the back of the head, Angle in and firmly in face-in-peril stuff now. Angle with another belly-to-belly, Jericho in, floors Edge with an elbow but nobody home on a Lionsault. Angle able to cut off the hot tag, Y2J back in, hits a Three Amigos before there was a name for it, two. Corner choke as Cole waxes lyrical about the skin cutting ability of the HIAC, eww. Edge set-up on top but knocks Jericho off, and nails a missile drop-kick.
Unique hot tag where Angle shoves Edge into Triple H, that was odd. HHH clears house, neckbreaker to Jericho, spinebuster to Angle, Y2J accidental nails Angle with an elbow, then takes a knee drop. Triple H looking for a Pedigree, Angle intervenes, and then a beatdown of Haitch. Back with a double clothesline spot, here comes Edge to hit a double clothesline off the top rope, nice. Slingshot sends Jericho over the top rope, Angle looking for an Angle Slam but countered into a face slam, Spear to Jericho, now Angle hits an Angle Slam on Edge, now Triple H hits a Pedigree on Angle, but Jericho breaks up the cover. HHH and Y2J brawl to the outside, and the Game sent into the ringpost. Mike Chioda, trying to break it up, gets slammed into the barricade, and the HIAC guys brawl into the crowd.
In the ring Edge left with Angle, and hits a big belly-to-belly of his own. Looking for a Spear but Angle has a chair from somewhere and belts Edge with it, big shot. Another Angle Slam, cover, and even though Edge wasn’t legal a recovered Chioda counts the fall in just under nine.
Winners: Kurt Angle and a rapidly fleeing Chris Jericho.
Verdict: Pretty good actually, even for being as short as it was. Smackdown is over-reliant on these “put the top tier guys in a tag together” main events, but this was a decent advertisement for Judgement Day.
Angle stands tall with that lock of hair as we run out of time.
Let’s take a look at the Smackdown side of the Judgement Day card.
Stratus/Keibler – I could see them putting the belt on Stacey, I really could. That might explain the sudden dropping of it by Jazz, so a heel could take it off of Trish. Regardless, the Dudley Boyz will take up most of the attention.
Billy & Chuck/Rikishi & ??? – I guess it depends on who the “???” is, but still not seeing a title change. There is no tag division worth talking about, so B&C are still the best bet.
Edge/Angle – I know the result, but expecting a baller of a match here.
Triple H/Jericho – I suppose HHH has to get the win after playing ball with the Hogan swap at Backlash, though Jericho could do with some push as well. Not looking forward to this one too much, the race is run with these two and Triple H could do with a heel turn.
As for tonight:
Best Match: Main event, not a hard decision this time. Four guys who can go and had something to sell. Raw, take notice.
Best Wrestler: I wouldn’t say anyone stood out hugely from anyone else, but I guess I’ll go for Edge, he’s grabbing that brass ring and holding on tight.
Worst Match: Shame the Cruiserweight Triple Threat was so short, it could have been special.
Worst Wrestler: At some point we will have to talk about Maven and his lack of progression, in and out of the ring.
Overall Verdict: Decent episode, could have used a bit more wrestling: the first four matches went for less than nine minutes, total. Still head and shoulders above what Raw is putting out at this time. On to Judgement Day.
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