The end is heeeeerrrreeeee. It’s the 19th May 2002 and we’re in the Gaylord Entertainment Centre of Nashville, Tennessee, for WWE Judgement Day! Your main event tonight: Hulk Hogan defends the Undisputed Title against The Undertaker!
Some creepy little girls recite creepy sounding prayers as we look at some gallows and nooses. “Are you proud of what you have done?” says creepy narrator. Triple H, Hogan and Austin promise ass-whuppings, Jericho, Undertaker and Ric Flair disagree. “Did you finish what you started?”. Some crucifixions get mixed in, before we see someone getting actually hanged. “God have mercy on their souls”. Jeez, this was a bit much, especially when we crash to “And now…”
Pyro, “Broken” by 12 Stones and JR/Lawler welcome us to Nashville. A pumped up crowd is in situ, and WWE New York, or whatever it is called now, is also existent. We open with one of only three matches I am excited to see.
Eddie Guerrero (c) vs Rob Van Dam (WWE Intercontinental Championship)
Crowd solidly behind Mr Monday Night. Jawing, shoving and away we go. Eddie floored with a shoulder tackle, two, leapfrog chain but Guerrero floored again with a clothesline, two. Spinning powerslam, two and the Champ retreats to ringside all pissed off. Slowly back in, lock-up, Van Dam pushed back, shots in the corner from Guerrero, Van Dam gets his foot up on a charge, teases out an asai moonsault, Eddie hits the floor, and Van Dam changes it into a split-legged version, awesome spot. Martial arts kicks, drop-kick, two. Nice start to this one.
Backbreaker, two, kick to the back, and then Van Dam trying to put on a Surfboard, but Eddie able to get to the ropes. RVD drops an elbow, and now he is able to put on the Surfboard – “This looks like my dating strategy” says King, what? – Van Dam transitions into a pin for two, then pops Eddie up for a drop, cool spot. Follows up with a standing moonsault for two. Eddie begging off from the onslaught, taking shots in the corner, but after a ref intervention able to get in some licks of his own. Dropping elbows on the head, choke on the apron and now jawing with the crowd.
Back in, corner smash, Van Dam trying to rally back but cut off with a poke to the eye. Kip-up throw gives Van Dam some room, corner spear to the back then hits a cartwheel throw. Electric Chair Drop into the ropes, then a Rolling Thunder for two. Looking for a suplex, countered into a roll-up for two, then Van Dam back with a stepover heel kick. Heading to the top, but crotched by a rapidly recovered Guerrero. Eddie hits a stiff-looking powerbomb, to the top, Guerrero taking the time to tell the crowd he “feels froggy”, that’s a blast from the past, but nobody home.
Big “RVD” chants, another heel kick, Van Dam to the top, but nobody home for him either on the Five Star attempt. Both men down for a nine count, Eddie all fired up, leapfr g chain and Van Dam hits a crossbody for two. Eddie back with an uppercut, then Van Dam with a backslide for a very neat fall, now Guerrero trying one, and he gets the three with his feet on the ropes in just under 11.
Winner (and still WWE Intercontinental Champion): Latino Heeeeat
Verdict: Could definitely have watched more of this, these two can go and know each other pretty well. Liked that the Battle of the Frog Splashes ended with a roll-up. I assume we go again with these two, and for once I am not objecting.
Guerrero walks off smirking while Van Dam looks pissed. Replays, and Van Dam still looks annoyed. It’s good to see him with more than that “Yeah, cool, whatever” ethos.
Backstage, the Alliance of Evil Evangelicals (Evilgelicals?) meets. Reverend D-Von leads a prayer for Deacon Batista, Stacey Keibler and “Prophet Vince”. He’s calling on the Lords intervention to insure “Sister Stacey” is victorious over “that Jezebel” Trish Stratus. I’m sure that was hard for D-Von to say, given the Dudley Boyz’ non-kayfabe problems with Keibler. Vince asks if D-Von has made sure Bubba Ray won’t turn up tonight, and D-Von says he took care of it, in a manner that indicates strongly that it was not taken care of at all. McMahon says he’ll be watching, and we close on an ominous zoom on a prop gallows. After a “Get The F Out” video, that match is up.
Trish Stratus (c) w/Bubba Ray Dudley vs Stacey Keibler w/Reverend D-Von & Deacon Batista (WWE Womens Championship)
JR runs down the “swimsuit…challenge” from Smackdown while King verbally masturbates. D-Von and Batista get their own entrances because they are the real focus here. Bubba Ray out last as a surprise, so the Reverend’s stern phonecall earlier did not do the trick it seems. Keibler should be worried. “Thou shall not lie” he screams as Trish attacks to start the actual match. Keibler hits a roundhouse for two, that was decent actually, the hits a back body-drop for two. Has she been training a bit?
Stratus back with a few clotheslines, awkward headbutt, then puts in a Boston Crab, that’s new. Stacey gamely avoids tapping out, counters into a pinning predicament, Trish counters back, two for both. Stratus with a neckbreaker, two, Chick Kick, and Keibler gets awkwardly knocked to the outside, where Bubba laughs at her. He gets a slap, Bubba has that female violence glare, and as the ref tries to break that up Batista sneaks into the ring to nail Trish with a Scoop Slam. Delayed cover, and to my surprise Trish kicks out.
Keibler with stomps, hair pull, Trish back with a pump kick, shot to Batista on the apron, Keibler inadvertently hits the same guy, Bulldog from Stratus and that will be all in three on the dot.
Winner (and still WWE Womens Champion): Trish Stratus, genuinely surprised.
Verdict: Actually, even with how short it was, this was decent. You can tell that Trish and Stacey were actually trying to make it a match and not just a joke.
D-Von charges but Stratus ducks out of the ring. Bubba confronts his brother, D-Von looks for a handshake, but Bubba is wise to an attack from Batista. Bubba dumps him out of the ring, not going to see that much, and then the Reverend hits a big clothesline! Batista on the attack but D-Von pulls the Deacon off. Psych! It’s just so D-Von can get in a shot of his own. He politely asks the Deacon to get the tables, Batista does so as D-Von knocks the ref out of the ring. Table set-up, but Bubba fights back, back body-drop to Batista, squaring up to D-Von, but Batista back with a shot from the collection box. Double Flapjack through the table, and D-Von, Batista and Keibler stand tall. Are we getting Bubba/D-Von then?
Backstage, Ric Flair is with Arn Anderson when Vince McMahon arrives. Handshake with AA, offers the hand to Flair, and Flair takes it because he is evil now. Flair says McMahon was right all along, Austin is a no-good son of a bitch, but tonight Flair is going to take Austin down, and after that he is going to have Stone Cold under control. They share a hug, Vince heads off, and both sides of this reunion grimace. Listen, we get that Flair is a bad guy now, we don’t need him paling up with McMahon in a total personality change.
The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman
Shout outs to Lita, recovering from neck surgery, before a recap of Lesnar annihilating the Hardy’s over and over. Sign of the night so far: “The Next Big Thing, Heyman’s Belly”. Heyman out in a tracksuit, nice. Jeff with a crossbody tope as Lesnar nears the ring, Heyman flees as the Hardy’s corner him, but then Lesnar attacks from behind. Jeff driven into the corner, some corner spears, Jeff with the legs up on a charge but then jumps into a huge belly-to-belly throw. Lesnar so good at making big noise with his stomps, really makes his moves seem crazy powerful.
Jeff out of a Snake Eyes, Matt in, running forearm, chops, strikes, Lesnar back quick enough with more corner spears. Press Slam attempt, Matt lands on his feet and then walks into a swinging powerslam as the “Goldberg” chants start in earnest. Back body drop as Heyman taunts from the apron, backbreaker, more corner spears, then a botched spot where after a whip Lesnar gets in position for a Tornado DDT but Matt isn’t on the same wavelength and waits a few second, looked rubbish. Jeff in, Whisper In The Wind, jawbreaker, takedown and a dual gut check/leg drop from the Hardys. Poetry In Motion, and Lesnar clotheslined out. Heyman left alone, and flees. Doesn’t get too far, and Mat starts hammering Heyman. Poetry In Motion, but Lesnar back now.
Jeff tries a crossbody off the top, caught, but Lesnar tripped by Matt for two. Jeff accidentally clears Matt off the apron from a dodged charge, Brock hits the F-5, and Heyman tagged in at his own volition, comically tripping over the ropes in the process. Gets the pin in just about four.
Winners: Brock and Paul, best buddies.
Verdict: As expected really, Heyman’s involvement kept things fresh but they really need to move Lesnar on from this feud now. He’s ready for something bigger. Hmm, whats Austin doing?
Heyman celebrates like he’s won the Undisputed Title, and marches off screaming”I did it, I did it!” Nice.
Backstage, Booker T, now in an nWo t-shirt, is interviewed. He says business is business, and he’s down with Flair’s decision. Suddenly the Bookerman spots an attractive lady standing alone and because this is 2002 he goes right over to accost her. She whispers something in her ear and hands Booker a hotel room key. T is delighted with this, and of course suspects nothing could be amiss. Hmm.
Zoom in on a barbers chair and assorted razors where the loser of the hair-vs-hair match will have an appointment later. But first, much less awesome stuff to get through, in the form of the Austin/Flair & Big Show match. Video recap, which involves a lot of Austin Stunning Flair, Big Show complaining about little kids at WWE New York and some music that sounds like a knock-off of the Medal Of Honour: Frontline soundtrack. JR wonders if Austin’s career is in jeopardy. Think the other two are in bigger danger, honestly.
The Big Show & Ric Flair vs Stone Cold Steve Austin (Handicap Match)
I’m sure Austin’s general disillusionment at this time was aided by being placed smack dab in the middle of this card. Flair and Show out separately, so I guess Flair isn’t in the nWo then? Man this dynamic is strange. Heels attacking to start, Austin fighting them off and Flair takes a back body-drop. Looking for the Stunner on TBS, pushed off but hands Flair a clothesline in the process. Shots and chops to Show, Flair comes off the top only to to take a shot to the gut, then clotheslined out. Takedown on Show, low stomp, then Austin locks on a Figure 4. Flair intervenes, Austin takes him down, and puts on another Figure 4. Dodges an Show elbow drop, to the outside to grab a chair, Little Naitch stopping him from using it, Austin just goes to grab another one, Austin sets it up and takes a seat, flips the ref the bird and then voluntarily throws the chairs out. Weird, manic start to this one, but I am into it, weirdly enough.
The heels revert to being an actual tag team, with Flair legal. Shot to Show from Austin as he circles Flair, lock-up, shoulder charge sends the Nature Boy down, mounted punches and Flair takes a temporary powder. A pissed Austin decides to have a beer while he waits for Flair to come back in, nice. At least Austin is having some fun out there. Lock-up, Flair with the shoulder tackle now but then walks into a back body-drop. Gets some room with a thumb to the eye, chops in the corner, Austin back with some of his own that get big “what” chants. Another back body-drop to Flair, third of the match, then a choke in the corner, then elevated punches. Clothesline, and Flair tags in Show.
Show jawing, and Austin responds by doing some push-ups. Lock-up, and Austin floored off a big right. Lock-up, Austin pushed into the corner, big open hand chop from Show. A third lock-up, Austin on the attack now with rights, whip, reversed and Show nails a big boot. Flair in, strikes, the ref goaded in close so Flair can nail a low blow. Dueling chops, another thumb to the eye, Flair to the top but caught and thrown. Stomps in the corner, Show intervenes, strike exchange and TBS nails a spinning powerslam, laughing manically in an amazing moment afterwards. Flair gets two, jawing with the crowd, kick to the side, chops in the corner, running kicks to the left foot, that’s interesting limb targeting.
Show in, and he works over the same foot/leg with elbow drops and knee smashes. Flair back in, trying for a Figure 4 but countered into a roll-up for two. Flair back to the leg, looking for the Figure 4 again and this time it is locked in. A few near-falls, and Austin able to turn it over. Show in to drop an elbow, that’s like his go-to thing nowadays isn’t it? Austin with a backslide for two, Flair with another big chop, then a hard right. Chop exchanges with dueling “what”/”woo” chants. Flair with a shoulder tackle where Austin was clearly going down before contact, then Flair takes a terrible looking spinebuster. Austin locks in a Figure 4, Show breaks it up with another elbow. Show in legally, Austin with a boot up on a charge, to the second rope and hits that Avalanche Lou Thesz.
Things break down, Lou Thesz to Flair where Flair sells it horrible, falling headbutt, another spinebuster, and TBS breaks up the count. Suddenly X-Pac is here, great. Austin hits a Stunner OUTTANOWHERE, Show doesn’t even go down, Austin looking for another, Pac in and inadvertently hits Show with a terrible martial arts kick. Stunner to X-Pac, Stunner to Flair and even though Flair was not the legal man that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over 15-and-a-half.
Winner: Stone Cold, and the crowd did pop big.
Verdict: Much better than I expected. Austin looked, for the first time in weeks, fairly motivated and was able to put together something entertaining despite the deficiencies of both of his opponents. Same overuse of moves, Flair was struggling towards the end, but I had time for this. Hopefully the finish doesn’t mean a continuation.
Austin limps away triumphant, before JR introduces Michael Cole and Tazz to set-up hair-vs-hair (that’s all they will be doing: the days of switching commentary teams are a while off yet). Cole helpfully clarifies that Tazz is bald by choice, unlike whoever loses the next match. Woah, take it handy on that banter lads. The designated barber has arrived, as we go the video recap. They try to make out that this rivalry started over a T-shirt, but of course it pre-dated that kerfuffle. Decent recap here, where the stip was placed nicely aside the physical shots these two have been taking for the last two months.
Kurt Angle vs Edge (Hair-Vs-Hair)
Circling, lock-up, Edge backed-up, break. Lock-up, Kurt backed-up, break, then attacks hard with a shoulder tackle. Running chain, Edge with a roll-up, two. Angle back with strikes, but then Edge sidesteps a charge and sends Kurt over the top. Baseball Slide, and Angle driven into the barricade. Back in, Kurt with stomps, but then takes a back body-drop on a reversed whip. Edge ties Angle up in the ropes, and delivers a Spear! Goes for another, but Kurt gets free with enough time to hit a belly-to-belly over the top rope! Crazy spot, looked dangerous as hell. Way too early in the match for that, and crowd barely reacted.
Back in, Angle in control, stomps in the corner as the crowd gets involved for the first time with an “Angle sucks”. Edge with a boot up on a corner charge but then walks into a spinebuster for two. Stomps, strikes, but Edge back with an elbow. Kurt retakes control with a DDT for two, and then puts in a resthold as JR calls the competitors “two young lads”, what is he, a Garda from Mullingar? King calls the organisation “WWF”. Brilliant commentary. Edge eventually battles out, but then gets taken down by the hair. Angle adds a suplex for two, then another resthold, come on now. Crowd totally dead.
Edge out eventually and floors Angle to get some space. Running chain and Edge hits a flying clothesline. Another, spinning heel kick, modified reverse DDT, two. Angle back with another belly-to-belly throw as a bored sounding JR runs down the rest of tonight’s card. Edge with a back body-drop to Angle but Kurt lands on the apron, a low drop-kick sends him out, and Edge follows up with a big crossbody tope. Cool move, but the crowd just didn’t seem to care. Back in, Edge to the top, Angle up and jumps to the top too, but this time he gets pushed off, nice change. Missile drop-kick gets a near fall.
Angle back with a German, crowd giving him some hate, Angle going for another but countered into a roll-up for two. Edge hits the Edge-A-Cution but then doesn’t go for the pin for some reason, instead heading to the top. This time Angle, no-selling the finisher, is able to hit his run-up throw, for a near fall. Weird sequence. Edge back with a superkick, that’s strange for him, hits a DDT, and that gets two and 9/10ths. Looking for a Spear off a running chain, but Angle dodges and the ref takes it instead. A frustrated Edge doesn’t see Angle coming up from behind to hit a huge German where Edge ends up on his front, nice.
Angle grabs a chair, but Edge hits a Spear before he can use it. No ref for a count, Edge looking for another Spear but Angle avoids it with a boot. Looking for the Angle Slam, Edge out of it, and another Spear. Slow count, and and Angle out at 2 and 99/100ths, crowd woke up for that. Edge looking for the Edge-A-Cution, Angle out of it, and now Angle hits a Spear. Angle Slam, only two and Kurt is displeased, throwing a Christian-style tantrum. The straps come down and the Ankle-Lock is applied. Edge out quick with an enziguri, but Angle puts it back on after a takedown. Edge reverses it into a roll-up and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in around 15-and-a-half.
Winner (and keeping his hair): Edge and those luscious locks.
Verdict: Took a long time to get going, but the last five minutes was great. Expected a bit more if I am being completely honest, the crowd was just very not into it for long stretches. Some good spots, but I think the Backlash match was better.
King is horrified at the prospect of Kurt losing his hair and demands a re-match, hilariously. Angle attacks Edge in the aftermath, but Edge back with another Edge-A-Cution pretty quick. Angle dragged to the barbers chair, but able to shove Edge away and flee to the back. Edge in pursuit as the barber keeps sharpening his tools.
Elsewhere, Booker T is in a hotel room under the covers, waiting for his lady love. Out she comes from the bathroom, and gets under the covers with T. This is going to a weird place. She wants the lights turned off, T happily obliges, there is very loud kissing noises, and suddenly the voice of Goldust is heard. The lights come back on, and now Dustin Rhodes is in the bed too. T is outraged, but Goldust politely points out that Booker never returns any phonecalls. He’s planned out this big elaborate scam, and T has heard enough, heading for the door with his thong down around his ankles, nice. Goldust laments that he wore a dress for nothing. Wait, why did he wear that dress? This was just odd all over, but I guess that was the point?
Back in the arena the cell is lowered before we get thrown the video recap for HHH/Y2J. Again, it’s Cole and Tazz who play us into it, but it’s JR and King who will commentate, which is an awkward arrangement. Tazz at pains to say that HIAC is not like a cage match despite, you know, the cage. Very little crowd reaction it has to be said. Video recap focuses a lot on Vince McMahon’s involvement, and a reminder that he called it “Hell In The Cell”, whoops (and they use that clip twice here). Not a lot of footage of previous HIAC matches, which again seems weird. Plenty of WM 18’s main event, which they make look fairly dramatic in fairness. Let’s get to it.
Chris Jericho vs Triple H (Hell In A Cell)
Lengthy entrances ahead of what I assume is going to be a lengthy contest. The cell door is chained up, like it matters. Staredown, then trading shots. Jericho with a boot to the head, strikes, then Triple H with the high knee. Back body drop, strikes in the corner and Jericho is floored. HHH tosses him to the outside, and our first of what I assume are many throws into the cage, Y2J trying to fight back, back in, and the Game maintains the advantage. Y2J back with a flying forearm, mounted punches, choke and then chops in the corner. Haitch switches it around, reverses a corner whip and Jericho into the ringpost and out off a dodged charge. Slow and steady start to this one.
On the outside, Jericho put into the cage, and again, and a third time. Clothesline, then back in. Another clothesline, another and the crowd predictably dies with the repeated offence. Suplex, two. King says he misses having Vince on Raw, and JR offers that he misses the boil on the back of his head, nice. Jericho gets some room and is able to toss Triple H to the outside, brawling, and now HHH sent into the cage. Tries to do the same with the steps, but takes them himself off a whip reversal. The Game sets up the steps, looking for the Pedigree on top of them, but Jericho counters into a catapult into the cage. Cool spot, but very little reaction. Think it might be the usual HIAC problem, where the crowd is waiting for the two guys to bust out of the cell.
Jericho produces a ladder and Haitch takes a brutal looking face shot as, hilariously, someone in the front row shouts “You can do this!”. Triple H busted open at some point, and his face now racked over the cell wall. Back in, and another big ladder shot to the head, and even though JR insists HHH wasn’t able to get his hands up the replay shows him doing just that. Mounted punches from Y2J, ladder set-up in a corner, and the Game whipped into it and outside. Jericho follows up by chucking the ladder at Haitch. Jawing with him a bit, Triple H trying to fight back, but Jericho able to send him into the cage. Back in, HHH has a chair somehow, and there is a duel ladder/chair shot from the two guys where Jericho comes off worse. The Game adds a shot to the back, but Y2J able to maintain the advantage with a Bulldog onto the ladder.
Jericho brings the ringsteps in, goes for a shot after struggling with getting them up, but is then drop toe-holded into them. HHH follows up with a neckbreaker, facebuster, then he throws the steps at Y2J. To the outside, and Triple H Lawn Darts Y2J into the cage. Head smash to the other ringsteps, back in, and on a throw Tim White gets cleared off the apron and sent into the cage. Not sure what he was doing there in the first place. JR very quick to point out that White has the key to the cell, hmm. Jericho gets in a chair shot to the head, cover but no one to count the fall. Jericho is so enraged that he attacks White on the outside and the ref is bloodied up. I just realised that this must be the source of the shoulder injury that ended White’s reffing career, and later led to the “Lunchtime Suicides” skits. Wave hello to the first entry in this series for more info!
Back in the ring Triple H hits a big spinebuster while a team of refs cut the padlock on the cell door and see to their fallen comrade. In the ring Jericho goes for another chair shot but gets a boot to the face instead. Suddenly the Game has a sledgehammer, gets in a shot, cover, but still no ref to count the fall. Y2J busted open now too. Jericho able to crawl out of the ring and then out of the cell, and Haitch gets a face full of door when he pursues, classic cage match move. Jericho getting in some kicks, as they brawl around the cell. Over to the announce tables, trading head smashes, and Jericho dismantles the Spanish table. “Cleaning the place off, espanol style” what? Onto the table, and Jericho is looking for a Pedigree, but Triple H fights out of it and hits a DDT that collapses the table, nice spot.
Both men slowly to their feet, and from somewhere Triple H has produced a two-by-four wrapped in barbed wire! And now Y2J decides to escape in the most reasonable way possible by climbing the cell! The crowd comes alive with the possibility of a big spot, and the Game climbs up after Jericho. At the top Jericho is able to grab the two-by-four and gets in a shot to the back. JR starts to wax lyrical about it’s like farm animals getting lacerated, not sure you were looking after them properly Jim. Y2J gets in another shot, and then locks in the Walls. Mike Chioda heroically climbs to the top of the cell to see if Triple H is tapping out, but the Game valiantly powers out of the submission with the help of the cell as leverage. Jericho has the barbed wire two-by-four again, but Haitch hits a low blow before he can use it.
Looking for a Pedigree, countered into a back body-drop, and the crowd expects the cage to break but it stays solid, this time. HHH with the two-by-four, and gets in a sick looking head shot. Cover, but only two. Triple H hits the Pedigree, and again the cell stays intact. 1, 2, 3 in just over 25 minutes.
Winner: Triple H, and fans of wrestlers not half-killing themselves in gimmick matches.
Verdict: It was pretty good, actually had a good rhythm and enough extreme spots that didn’t cross the line to be overly dangerous or just plain stupid. No major highlights though, and I can understand why this HIAC is largely forgotten. RIP Tim White’s shoulder.
Triple H gets his hand raised on top of the cell as JR tells us that the brutality is the reason we only see HIAC matches on rare occasions. Yeah, about that Jim…
Backstage, Kurt Angle flees through the hallways. He finds a make-up artist and cleverly disguises himself with a towel and shower cap. Edge runs by looking for Kurt, but the deception only saves your Olympic Hero for a few seconds, as Edge maintains the pursuit.
The overly sexual “Get The F Out” promo follows, and it’s just as weird the second time. Over at the now re-named “The World” in New York, Maven has gotten to take Torrie Wilson out on their date. Oh dear God no. Wilson blandly says she can now wear anything she wants after the kimono era, “or maybe nothing at all”. Maven does a Tex Avery “bahooga” face. These two still have negative chemistry, and I do not want to see more of this, it’s the other side of cringe from the Vince/Stacey stuff.
Back in Nashville, JR and King talk about how brutal the last match, so we’re just in time for the comedic bathroom break.
Billy & Chuck (c) w/Rico vs Rikishi & ??? (WWE Tag Team Championships)
Time to answer the question that has dominated the wrestling world since this match was announced a few days ago: who will be big Kish’s tag team partner? King confirms it isn’t him, thank God. After Rikishi and the Champs are in the ring Fink gets a slip of paper and announces the mystery tag team partner is…Rico! What? Laughter from the crowd. Rico acts horrified at this, but this makes the match a three-on-one.
Rico volunteers to be the first man in, but Rikishi orders him out. Billy attacks from behind but is easily taken down. Strikes, superkick, both Champs in and they are able to hit a double flapjack. Riksihi avoids a drop-kick, but takes a neckbreaker off a distraction from Rico. Chuck in, shots in the corner, and he then delivers a sweet belly-to-belly for two. Billy in, and after an assist from Chuck he hits the Famouser, but only two. Isn’t that Billy’s finisher? Crowd didn’t react at all.
Chuck in, strikes, Kish back with a kick to the head, and then a belly-to-belly slam for two. Right hands from Rikishi, big back body drop where it looked like Chuck thought it might have been a Sunset Flip but backed out of it, Samoan Drop to an interfering Billy, now Chuck tries the Sunset Flip, it ends with the drop, but Billy breaks up the count. Rikishi hits that pop-up cutter on Billy, but whiffs it really badly at the worst possible camera angle. Rico in, but inadvertently nails Chuck with his spinning heel kick. Rikishi dumps Rico out, and gets the pin in just under four.
Winners (and new WWE Tag Team Champions): “Ricoshi”, and I did not see that coming.
Verdict: Forgettable tag but for the result, which is a genuine shock. B&C have been champs for so long this comes as a big surprise.
Rikishi walks off with his belt, and dances at the top of the ramp. Rico looks crestfallen, but makes sure to pick up his belt before he leaves. I’m guessing they will be hot potatoed back to Billy & Chuck soon enough.
Backstage, Edge continues the hunt for Kurt Angle, and gets blindsided with a trashcan lid. Some brawling through Gorilla position, and Kurt leads Edge to the stage and the barbers chair. He has a mike, and asks the crowd if they want to see a hair cut? Right hands, and Edge flung into the impromptu barber shop. Edge fighting back, Angle looks for an Angle Slam, Edge out of it and locks in a sleeper hold. Angle fades, and eventually falls unconscious, to King’s general horror: “Fight, fight, fight, fight, fight Kurt!”. Angle set-up in the chair, and Edge starts shaving his head, with some assistance from the actual barber. There’s shaving foam and everything. Edge announces that the new chant will be “You’re bald” and gets Angle’s music playing so the crowd can let it rip. A woken Angle is near tears. Great segment. I remember seeing Angle at the time and thinking he looked like an alien, but now I can’t imagine him any other way.
Commentary introduces us to the video recap for the main event. 20 minutes left in the broadcast so they are killing a fair bit of ringtime here. Anyway, Undertaker made sure Hogan won at Backlash, the two have gone back and forth since, and then suddenly the feud was about motorcycle shenanigans. Some amazing Final Fantasy-eseque battle music playing over Hogan getting drifted into some cardboard boxes, and then the recap ends very suddenly, with Taker’s entrance music already playing.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan (c) vs The Undertaker (WWE Undisputed Championship)
Taker out to a instrumental version of the “You’ve Done It Now” theme, which was always the worst of his biker gimmick songs. Always kicking assholes asses Deadman. Big reception for Hogan, who “rushes” the ring to face Undertaker, only to get whipped for a bit by a belt. Huge “Hogan” chants as Taker gets the belt buckle set-up and lays in another shot. The ref was in the ring but no bell was rung, so no DQ just yet, not sure why. Hogan rallying back with big rights, and now he has the belt. Very weak sounding shot to Mean Mark, who sells like a champ in fairness to him. Finally Hebner disarms Hogan and the bell is rung.
Hogan with strikes in the corner, clothesline, then a back body drop where Taker was somersaulting before he even reached Hogan. Undertaker clotheslined out, Hogan rips off the shirt to the delight of the crowd and goes in pursuit of the challenger. Exchanging strikes on the outside, and Hogan reverses a whip to send Taker into the ringsteps, prompting one man at ringside to scream “HOLY SHIT, DID YOU SEE THAT?” It wasn’t that crazy a spot. “GO GET HIM, BROTHER!” screams the same guy, wow. Hogan with some more strikes before we go back in.
Undertaker coming back into it, wrist-lock, shoulder blocks, to the top , but crotched before he can hit Old School. Hogan follows Taker up, and after a pause that I think is more about Undertaker getting into position, he hits a second rope superplex for two. Mounted punches, Hogan jawing with the ref for some reason, then hits some rubbish chops. Taker back with a leg-based takedown, then lays in some elbow drops on the left leg. Hogan wrapped around the ringpost, more shots to the leg, more elbow drops, and this would make more sense if the Atomic Leg-Drop involved anything other than the leg just dropping on the opponent.
After a rest-hold Hogan battles back, dueling right hands, Hogan with a takedown, hits the big boot but nobody home on the Atomic Leg-Drop. Taker counters into a half-Boston Crab, and Hogan gamely sells despite the fact that he is right next to the ropes. Rubbish looking submission, I doubt Hogan could take it synced in properly, and he eventually gets to the ropes. Strikes in the corner, but on an attempted big boot of his own Hogan gets the ropes down and crotches the Deadman. Taker dodges a clothesline, and here’s the really infamous moment, as he hits the worlds worst looking chokeslam for two, with an awkward kick-out catching the audience a little off guard (and this is the edited version: the Network cuts out Taker calling the spot and uses a slightly less damaging camera angle). “He didn’t get most of the chokeslam” is JR’s pathetic excuse making, it’s patently obvious that Hogan wasn’t capable of jumping properly on what is meant to be one of the most routine moves in wrestling.
Despite that embarrassment, Hogan is hulking up, right hands, big boot to the upper chest, hits the Atomic Leg-Drop, but Taker out at two, to the shock of the crowd. Hogan is now no-selling the leg by the way. Looking for a back body-drop but Undertaker counters into a DDT for two. Suddenly Vince McMahon is here, because of course he is. Taker has a chair, the ref goes flying when he tries to disarm the Deadman, and then Hogan nails a big boot through the chair. Another Leg-Drop but Vince is distracting Hebner. Hogan pulls McMahon into the ring and nails a swinging right and a Leg-Drop. Hilariously Hebner starts rolling Vince out of the ring, and then Undertaker hits a brutal looking chair shot to the back of Hogan’s head, looked truly scary. Another chokeslam, slightly better than the last, and that’s it in just under 11-and-a-half.
Winner (and the neeeewwww WWE Undisputed Champion): Booger Red, in what is only his fourth World Title Run.
Verdict: As good as it could possibly have been, given Hogan’s obvious limitations. They kept it short at least. I’ll forgive it a lot for getting the strap off of Hogan. That chokeslam though.
Taker demands the belt be put on him, and Hebner ties it on lop-sided, nice. Vince smiles his evil smile as Undertaker grabs a chair, and declares his intention to get some revenge for his motorcycle. Chair set-up and and Hogan gets a throat shot, and then a few more to the body. Our new Champ left standing tall as we go off air. Think the match finished early.
Best Match: I’ll go for the HIAC which, while not spectacular as other examples of the stip, was a solid blow-off match.
Best Wrestler: Austin, who looked like he cared for the first time in months and carried the other two to a good showing.
Worst Match: The Tag Title match existed only as a bathroom break and for a gimmicky change.
Worst Wrestler: Hulk Hogan, who needs to be kept away from the main event forever going forward.
Overall Verdict: A better show than I expected, given how dire the build was on Raw. No car crash matches, the right people won the big feuds and I would have more hope about whats to come after this.
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