NFB Watches Wrestling #78: Raw (20/05/2002)

It’s the fall-out from Judgement Day! It’s the 20th May 2002 and we’re in The Pyramid of Memphis, Tennessee for episode #469 of WWE Raw! Your main event tonight: The Undertaker defends the Undisputed Title against Rob Van Dam!

We open with a tribute to Davey Boy Smith, who died the night previous to this broadcast, around two years after his last stint with the Fed had ended. Narrated by Vince McMahon himself, it’s a pretty basic obit, but it’s nice they made the effort at least. The Bulldog was a great wrestler at one point, but his last few years in the ring were low at points, and his death, in light of his use of growth hormones and steroids, didn’t come as an enormous surprise, sad to say.

New Attitude splash, “Across The Nation”, pyro and JR/King welcome us to Memphis, and you better believe Lawler is happy to be in The Pyramid. “One Of A Kind” heralds the arrival of Rob Van Dam for a match, but before he can even be introduced The Undertaker is out to attack from behind! RVD sent into a ringpost, and Taker is into the ring to say this is his time. Back out to maintain the assault again, Van Dam sent into the ringsteps , and Mr Monday Night is bleeding. Another shot with the steps, and Van Dam is left lying. On the mike, Undertaker wants to know if he has our attention. Pipe bomb? Taker says he’s the new Undisputed Champion, and he has the right to come down the ramp and start Monday Night Raw. I think that’s only Triple H champ. There are going to be some changes, and if Taker has something to say, he’s going to come out and say it. The #1 rule of this company is “You will respect The Undertaker”. Presumably #2 is “No video games, only knives”.

Van Dam trying to get back in the ring, but Taker kicks him out. Mean Mark says he promised he would beat Hogan, and he did that. He took his pride and killed Hulkamania. Big “Hogan” chants as Taker says Hulkamania can rest in peace. Taker has it on good authority that Hogan will announce his retirement on Smackdown this week, I wish. Hogan is welcome for Taker letting him walk out of the ring at Judgement Day. Undertaker demands respect, and it doesn’t matter if you’re Hogan or a “punk like RVD”, you cross The Undertaker, you pay the consequences.

Van Dam is struggling back into the ring, Taker looks bemused and says RVD asked for it. He attacks, but Van Dam ducks and gets in some shots, and a spinning heel kick! Mounted punches, and the refs pull Van Dam off. Did I mention that Jerry is suddenly playing face on commentary, shouting for Van Dam? Is that because we’re in Memphis? Van Dam rushes the ring again, and nails a martial arts kick from the second rope. Taker left prone, and RVD delivers a Five Star. More punches, and again the refs pull him off. Undertaker retreats as the refs hold Van Dam back. A different kind of opening segment, that’s for sure, and delighted to see Van Dam being catapulted, albeit temporarily, into the main event.

Backstage, Ric Flair is in hs office with Arn Anderson when Taker bursts in. He knows Flair is starting to “see the light”, and demands a match with Van Dam tonight. Flair agrees, as long as it’s for the Undisputed Title. Mean Mark not so happy with this, but not exactly in a position to refuse. After Taker leaves Flair tells AA he’s going to head to the ring and throw Stone Cold “a curveball” he’ll never see coming. Intrigue! Not a big fan of cowardly Taker though, doesn’t suit him. He’s clearly not comfortable in that part, and the “All heels must be cowards” thing is a fairly tired McMahon insistence.

The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs the nWo (The Big Show & X-Pac) w/Booker T

This match has no preamble, and given there is no tag division makes especially little sense. Pac and Jeff to start, lock-up, armdrag takedown from X-Pac and the “X-Pac Sucks” chants have started in earnest. Jeff with a shoulder tackle, then a Tilt-A-Whirl rana, nice. Matt in, double elbows, double drop, two. Matt with a flying clothesline off a whip chain, Booker T distracts him and Show delivers a big clothesline from the apron.

TBS in, clubbing shots, swinging powerslam, and Matt thrown into the corner. Open hand chop, big throw and King is playing face so much on commentary I have to assume he’s getting in the ring later. Pac in with Matt set-up, and nails the Broncho Buster. Gets elevated in the corner, and Matt counters into a falling powerbomb. Hot tag to Jeff who catapults in, drop-kick, dodges one from Pac, double heel drop, Show cleaned off the apron, Poetry In Motion to Pac, but Show in to clothesline both Hardys. Throwing Matt around, then Jeff, but crotches himself on a missed big boot. The camera edits balls it up, but it appears Booker inadvertently savate kicks Show on the apron then gets cleaned out by Matt.

Pac and Jeff going at it, and Pac able to hit the X-Factor. Suddenly an Elvis impersonator is in the ring? The ref is distracted so no count, and with a zoom it is apparent our mystery Elvis is Goldust. Jeff with a roll-up and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under four-and-a-half.

Winners: The Hardys, ahthankyouverymuch.

Verdict: By-the-numbers tag. Crazy to think the Hardys, as important as they have been, are side-players in nWo drama right now. They badly need some reinvention.

The nWo argue at ringside. Dissension in the ranks? Maybe they can factionalise the nWo here, I’m sure that will work out.

Backstage, Trish stretches out next to a stairway, of course showing us a good angle on her breasts in the process. Paul Heyman suddenly arrives on the scene, and starts fondling the Womens Title belt. He brings up Stratus’ appearance on Smackdown in her underwear and her win last night, and mentions that he pinned Jeff Hardy the same night. He wonders if Trish would like to get together tonight and work on their sexual tension. Trish gives this short shrift and heads off for her match. At least he wasn’t stealing her underwear.

Elsewhere, the nWo is backstage with Goldust. T insists Goldust isn’t his friend, and Goldust hilariously agrees, saying he’s Booker’s “companion”. Big Show decides he’s going to be leader, X-Pac disagrees, and Goldust throws his hat into the ring. T decides to put his money where his mouth is, and will prove he’s the best choice for leader of the nWo tonight by beating the Hardy’s with “this gold freak”. How does beating a team that has already fought once tonight equal impressive? X-Pac looks unhappy at the prospect, but Goldust is appreciative: “Thank you Booker…ahthankyouveryuch”. Am actually enjoying this a fair amount. Also the NFB Head Canon Raw Tag Team Titles will be defended tonight it seems.

Trish Stratus (c) vs Jaqueline (WWE Womens Championship)

This completely unhyped title match is brought to you by fat burners, buses, and not taking drugs. You’d think given how shallow the division is they might try and build to this a little. The bell rings before the ref has even lifted the belt, so just counting down to Heyman showing up. Circling, lock-up, Jackie backed up, reverses it and hits a double open hand chop. Follows up with a snapmare, lock-up, shoulder charge, Scoop Slam, arm-drag takedown, all Jacqueline so far. Kip up from Trish, Jackie dodges a Chick Kick, and floors Stratus off a leg-sweep, two.

Trish with chops in the corner, her own snapmare, suplex, two. Crowd dead by the way, save for the cat calls. Trish with an aggressive takedown for two. dodges a corner clothesline and nails a Bulldog for what JR calls “a hard fought victory” in under two-and-a-half.

Winner (and still WWE Womens Champion): Trish Stratus, because who else are they going to put the belt on?

Verdict: Nothing much you can say, they both did fine.

Jacqueline up and no-selling the finish for an immediate show of respect when Heyman and Lesnar show up. He wants an answer to his previous indecent proposal, and if Trish says no, they’ll deal with it the hard way. Paul Heyman as sexual predator is just an awful look. Stratus isn’t interested, and Heyman sicks Lesnar on her. Trish cornered like the ring is surrounded by an impenetrable force field, but here comes Bubba Ray Dudley to the rescue. Lesnar ready to go, but Heyman holds him off. Bubba has the death stare as Lesnar slowly leaves the ring. You’d think the words “ECW” or “past relationship” would come up here, but no. JR says this is the first time Heyman heard “No” from a female, and what about all the Lita stuff last month? Anyway, hate this.

After the break JR queues up highlights of Judgement Day which play in concourse with that PPV’s opening video. Odd feel. The video didn’t include Vince’s interference in the main event, so JR has to spew that factoid out, exposition style, afterwards. But enough about that, whats going on with Tommy Dreamer? JR messes up the timing here because he has cut off the package for Dreamer mid-sentence to plug WWE.com, then get back to it.

It’s another day in the life of Tommy Dreamer, who appears to be engaged in some kind of Jackass parody, where he’s eating weird stuff on a trip to get his hair cut, including human hair, barbercide, hair gel. The crowd is Memphis is suitably repulsed. I hope we reach a point to this soon.

Backstage, RVD is seen too by a medic. He swears vengeance against The Undertaker, and says the Champ will learn he was the wrong guy to pick on. They do a good job of making it seem like Van Dam has been worked over hard in the opening segment, fair play to whomever got the blood fixed just right.

William Regal (c) w/Molly Holly vs Bubba Ray Dudley (WWE European Championship)

Bit confused about this, what happened to D’Lo? Why is Bubba getting this shot? King runs down some of the bands on the recently for-sale Tough Enough album very much like a middle aged man who has never head of these bands. Bubba rushes to the ring, lock-up, Regal puts Bubba down with a shoulder block, two. Hard forearms in the corner, but Bubba back with a back body-drop. Scoop Slam, elbow drops, dancing axe-handle, two. Molly grabs a leg, Bubba goes in pursuit and when he ends up back in the ring he gets a boot from the Champ.

Stomps, knees, Bubba reverses a whip and the result is an awkward shoulder tackle that leaves both men floored. Back up, Bubba with hard lefts, Scoop Slam, again, elbow, Sidewalk Slam, two. “Bubba, get the table!” he says to himself. Table obtained, but suddenly Brock Lesnar attacks from behind! The ref calls it in just under three.

Winner (by DQ): Bubba Ray Dudley. Regal retains.

Verdict: Hard to give one. A bit meaningless really. I suppose it forwards a Lesnar/Bubba rivalry?

Bubba put into the ring and Lesnar delivers a F-5. Molly hands Regal some brass knucks, and Bubba gets a shot to the back of the head for good measure. He demands he get his title belt “you silly bastard” before leaving arm-in-arm with Molly.

After the break, Ric Flair heads to the ring, with Arn Anderson in tow. He wants to set the record straight with Austin. Stone Cold didn’t beat him, as Flair wasn’t the legal man. Hey, that’s what I said. He’s correcting the record book, and admits he has made some mistakes in his treatment of Austin. Plan B starts tonight, and he wants Austin here face-to-face so he can explain it. Shattered glass and out he comes.

Flair hides behind AA as Arn takes the mike, warning Austin that Ric Flair has “permanent back-up” in the form of himself. Weird way to put it, but OK. Flair back on the mike, says that trying to stack the deck against Austin in the ring didn’t work, therefore Plan B: Austin is property of Raw and Ric Flair, and the worst thing he can do to Stone Cold is take him out of the ring. “Asshole” chants to that. As of tonight, Austin is benched. He has the night off, and Flair demands Austin get out of his sight.

The Rattlesnake has heard enough and attacks. Stunner to Anderson, Stunner to Flair. Then beers, before a walk off, only for him to awkwardly come back to chuck beer at Flair. I wonder why they are writing Austin out like this, even if it short term? He didn’t even talk here. I know the troubles are imminent, but are they already happening?

After the break, Raven has joined the commentary team for some reason. He immediately launches into an invective aimed towards King, calling Lawler a lech who doesn’t know anything about wrestling anymore. We’re in Memphis so I suppose this is building to an in-ring confrontation later, but this is so thrown together (leaving aside the fact that, by 2021 standards, Raven is the hero).

The Hardy Boys (Matt & Jeff) vs Booker T & Goldust

Raven is out here to show King how to commentate directly, so rest assured that will probably be the biggest story of this match. The Hardys are out limping, which is strange given they didn’t seem that banged up earlier. JR throws us to a recap of Booker’s extra curricular activities at Judgement Day, who comes out here to his usual theme music and with no nWo logos, come on guys. Raven mocks Lawler because of his wife leaving him, this is going great.

Matt and Booker to start, T with the early advantage, shots, clubbing blows and a side kick. Goldust in, hip smash, Matt with a boot up on a corner charge, Side Effect, Booker cleared off the apron, but then walks into a big right. Suddenly the nWo are here, and X-Pac gives Goldust a shot with the ref distracted (though you can spot Nick Patrick having a peek behind to check if he’s cleared to turn). Matt with the roll-up and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just over one.

Winners: The Hardy Boyz, now officially (well, not really) the NFB Head Canon Raw Tag Team Champions.

Verdict: Nothing encounter, what’s important, story wise, is what comes next.

The nWo argues in the ring, and the impression seems to be that X-Pac and Big Show want Booker to break-up with Goldust. Raven and Lawler continue to bicker.

Elsewhere Stone Cold and Debra turn up at a local bar, to cheers. Just a month or so away from Debra bringing up abuse charges against Austin in real life, so this whole thing gives me an ick feeling. Terrible looking beers are produced, and that’s it. Where is thing going?

Back in the arena, the nWo, and Goldust, are all still in the ring. Booker on the mike, says he thought they were on the same team. X-Pac asks where T was the previous night, and says he was “trying to get laid by some Halle Berry looking chick”. T retorts that at least he can get laid, ooooohhhhhhh. Big Show says they didn’t ask for T to be in the group, and he has no problem taking him out. T accepts the challenge, and prepares to throw down.

The nWo music hits and Kevin Nash is here, real last man standing of the original members. Nash stares down Goldust who retreats. Nash says Flair put the nWo t-shirt on Booker, but it’s Nash who runs the nWo. He runs down Big Show and Pac for letting the brand down. The nWo logo used to be the most feared in “this sport”, I’m sure Vince wasn’t happy with that. It can be again, because Nash and Big Show would be an unstoppable force, Nash and X-Pac go back 12 years and asks if they are both with him. “Too sweets” thrown up, and Nash issues his own invitation for Booker to throw it up too. T is amenable, and the music plays. I’m not a fan of the nWo in WWE, but at least they are getting the semblance of a direction in this, after a long period of them getting thrown between things.

In the bar, Austin and Debra enjoy more bears until Debra gets a teddy bear from “the gentleman over there”. Said gentleman turns out to be none other than Eddie Guerrero! Austin is pissed, but Debra restrains him, for now.

After the break JR plugs an upcoming “Global Warning” event in Australia. Lawler suggests Raven go there and stay there. They snipe back-and-forth, and Raven hits the ring. He says all King takes about are “puppies”, and he doesn’t know a thing about wrestling. “Jerry” chants. If he’s not too embarrassed, he can take him on and get humiliated by the Raven effect. Lawler up to respond, and of course he is in his ring gear. “Tell me you didn’t just challenge me to a match in my home town”. Cheap pop. The last time he saw something like Raven he flushed it, so he accepts the challenge.

Back to the bar for the third time, and Debra suggests that Austin hit the karaoke machine to sing her a song. Oh God. Thankfully Eddie intervenes. They square off, jawing in Spanish, Debra tires to break it up and Austin backs off, for now. I suppose we’re going back to this?

Jerry “the King” Lawler vs Raven

16 minutes of the broadcast left, with a main event to come, so this will be short. Big “Jerry” chants. Lock-up, Raven with a Scoop Slam, falling elbows, back body-drop. “Raven’s gay”, good lord. Stomps in the corner, a choke, clotheslines against the rope and then a hard right where Lawler somersaults himself over the ropes, got to give him credit for the jump and the bump. Raven collects King, and tells JR he’ll be on commentary next week. To quote Bret Hart “Yeah, don’t bet on it”. Back in, corner smashes, and Lawler decides to Hulk up. The strap comes off, right hands, an awkward drop-kick, mounted punches, and then corner smashes in every corner with the crowd counting along. Only now does JR mention that Raven has been doing commentary on Heat, which makes his sudden appearance here make more sense.

Raven prone, Lawler to the second rope looking for that falling punch, but Raven takes a powder and heads up the ramp. The ref counts him out in just over three.

Winner: Jerry “the King” Lawler, the only man in WWE who gets to win in his hometown.

Verdict: I mean, it was what it was I suppose, not really that much to say.

We cut pretty quickly to Stone Cole in the bar, who comes off from karaoke to jaw with Eddie a bit more. Guerrero tries to ignore Austin, Austin says he’s going to go sing another song just to annoy him, and Guerrero brains him with a beer bottle before running off. Did we really need four glimpses at this in the course of a half-hour to build a feud? I mean, I’m down for Austin/Guerrero, but this was tortured.

Elsewhere, RVD heads to the ring for what JR calls the “biggest night in his career”. RVD fought Austin for the title in a PPV less than five months before this!

The Undertaker (c) vs Rob Van Dam (WWE Undisputed Championship)

These two had a decent match over a month previous where Van Dam got put over huge, but not sure what they can pull here with less than eight minutes left in the show. Mean Mark out holding the belt in his hand, and I remember a Gregory Helms shoot interview once where he said Calloway advised him, a few years after this point, not to do that as a heel champion as it makes you look like you don’t care about whatever strap you’re holding. Anyway, Van Dam with a Baseball Slide before Taker can get in the ring, then a springboard crossbody! Hot start to this one. Undertaker smashed into the barricade a few times then in for the official start. RVD dodges a big boot and Taker crotches himself. Van Dam to the top for that big martial arts kick for two.

Undertaker back with an elbow, perhaps looking for Snake Eyes but RVD out of it and hits a stepover heel kick for two. Taker clotheslined out, but back at RVD with strikes. Van Dam reverse a whip into the barricade, then drops a leg on a hung up Champ. Back in, Van Dam with a few corner spears, but gets floored off a clothesline on the last one. Looking for The Last Ride, Van Dam fights out of it and gets two when Taker collapses. Taker with a big boot on an RVD charge, and then takes a turnbuckle pad off as the ref checks on the challenger. Mean Mark with some shots to the head, and then whips RVD into the exposed turnbuckle. Follows up with a corner clothesline, some knees to the mid-section and this one has slowed way down, like they are just killing time.

More shots in the corner, looking for a chokeslam but Van Dam back with a big kick to the head. Taker able to hit a Scoop Slam, no one home on an elbow drop and Van Dam back with a few drop-kicks to a sitting Deadman for two. Strikes in the corner from Mr Monday Night now, Taker reverses and hits some of his own. Attempts a whip into the exposed corner again but this one is reversed. Van Dam with a kick, Rolling Thunder and the ref counts the three even though Taker’s foot is on the ropes. Van Dam is announced as Champ, even gets the belt, but before you can say “Dusty Finish” here’s Ric Flair to play sudden face to re-start the match. Van Dam is pissed, grabs Flair and gives him a right hand. Taker able to get in a shot. Last Ride, 1, 2, 3 in six-and-a-half.

Winner (and still WWE Undisputed Champion): Undertaker, referred to as the “new” champion by Garcia like he’s just won back the Hardcore belt.

Verdict: Nowhere near as good as their previous match, and that was before the finish made it seem a little bit too much like a needless bait-and-switch. Did like seeing Van Dam get physical with Flair though.

Just enough time for Undertaker to hold the belt aloft before we finish up.

Best Match: Not a lot worth talking about tonight, so I guess I’ll give it to the opening tag?

Best Wrestler: I’ll give this to RVD, more for pulling double duty and mostly looking good in the process.

Worst Match: A few duds tonight, but I suppose the second tag match was especially superfluous for multiple reasons.

Worst Wreslter: Raven, whose in-ring and commentary career were not furthered in the slightest by what he got up to tonight.

Overall Verdict: If the wrestling had been better I would have had more time for this episode, but most of the matches were throwaway or forgettable and it didn’t really build on the good work this brand mostly did the previous night. The bar stuff was a really odd inclusion too. Not as bad as some of the recent Raw’s, but not very good either.

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 #78: Raw (20/05/2002)

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

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