NFB Watches Wrestling #81: Smackdown (30/05/2002)

OK, let’s see if we can get beyond the last round of storylines tonight. It’s the 30th of May 2002 (filmed on the 28th) and we’re in the amazingly named Pengrowth Saddledome of Calgary, Canada for episode #146 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Edge vs Kurt Angle inside a steel cage! OK, so we’re sticking with the same storylines then.

New Attitude splash, then straight into a recap of Hulk Hogan’s “retirement” last Thursday night. Orange filter for Hogan, sickly green for McMahon. We get the hits of the segment, just in case you weren’t watching.

“Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Calgary. Seems like we’ve been going to Canada a lot since I started this series. Commentary announces our main event, before we go into an opening title bout.

Rikishi & Rico (c) vs Billy & Chuck (WWE Tag Team Championship)

Surprised this one has taken over a week to happen. Kish out on his own as we get a brief recap of Ricoshi winning the titles, then Rico, as we see what happened last week. Rico has “You Look So Good To Me” as his theme tune, and it just keeps playing as the challengers come out. Heels attack straight away, but Rikishi takes them out pretty easily to start.

Chuck ends up sitting in the corner, Kish calling for it early, but then turns just as Rico pulls up at a possible attack. This distraction allows B&C to hit a double flapjack, and Billy ends up legal. Beatdown on Rikishi as Cole casually announces that Taker is defending the Undisputed Title tonight against…Randy Orton. You’d think that would be bigger news. Beatdown continues, but an attempted linked arm clothesline gets dodged, and Kish nails a double clothesline of his own. Billy and Chuck trying to regain the advantage, but a superkick to Chuck and a Samoan Drop to Billy denies them. Rikishi pulls an interfering Rico into the ring, Chuck tries a Sunset Flip for some reason, countered into a drop but Rico breaks up the pin. Kish dodges a spinning heel kick, hits a superkick, and Rico falls on Chuck for the unintended pin in just under two-and-a-half.

Winners (and still WWE Tag Team Champions): Ricoshi marches on.

Verdict: Short and actually quite messy. No sense of pace at all.

Rikishi celebrates with dancing and fireworks at the top of the ramp, as Billy & Chuck angrily confront Rico in the ring. Dissension! Dissension I say!

Backstage, Hulk Hogan arrives in the arena. Time for the Panasonic Smack Of The Night, and for some reason it’s Maven rolling up Christian last week. In what universe is that a smack?

Of course that leads us into Maven warming up backstage, when his paramour Torrie Wilson arrives. Why must you mock me Satan? She wishes him luck in his match tonight, and then plants one on him. “Maybe tonight will be my lucky night” Maven says with all of the charm of a 13-year-old. After they depart Tajiri suddenly emerges from a side door, evil glare and teeth bared. Amazing. I’m rooting for him to break up this disaster.

Christian vs Maven

Cole plugs King Of The Ring as “one of the great events” of the WWE. Reminder that the upcoming edition is the very last one of that PPV. Finale of Tough Enough 2 is the night of this episode too, so have to get Maven on camera. Christian attacks as Maven enters the ring, awkward leapfrog chain followed by an awkward armdrag from Maven. Makes up for it with a perfect springboard corssbody to the outside, then back in for two. Goes for a reverse suplex, Christian lands on his feet and hits a reverse backbreaker. Choke hold, stomps, Maven set-up on top, Christian follows but knocked down. Maven hits a Bulldog off the top for a near fall. “Every time I watch Maven I’m so proud…of myself”, very nice from Tazz.

Maven looking to go up top again but suddenly a wild Tajiri appears! Kick to the head with Christian distracting the ref, Unprettier, and that’ll be all in just over two.

Winner: Christian, who is too good to be the facilitator of other peoples plots.

Verdict: Short and sweet. Maven has come on a bit, and I’ll tune in for him and Tajiri.

Backstage, Vince gives out on the phone about Benoit being on Raw, which is allowed because he is still listed as “inactive”. Not sure who Vince is supposed to even be talking to. Suddenly a woman is in his office, and it isn’t Stacey Keibler. She introduces herself as paralegal Dawn Marie Rinaldi, who has some papers for him to sign. Keibler said to never bring him papers personally, but she’s away co-hosting the finale of Tough Enough. Marie makes sure to unbutton part of her blouse, and McMahon suddenly wants to get very acquainted with her. Ugh. They take a seat on the couch, Vince gets handy, and thankfully Chris Jericho barges in. He wants to know why he has to have a match with Faarooq since he still has stitches from his “cage match” at Judgement Day, whoops. Vince says he did it because Triple H asked for a match tonight, and he wasn’t going to let HHH outdo Y2J. Jericho insists he’s tougher, and walks off mollified. Now Vince can go back to “reviewing things” with Dawn Marie. The Smackdown womens division folks. Marie is here after a moderately well-known run as a manager in ECW, and will be a relative mainstay for the next little while on Smackdown. Oh, we’ll get to it.

“Get The F Out”, and then into the next match of the evening.

Chris Jericho vs Faarooq

This one brought to you by the film Undercover Brother. RT Score: a surprising 78%. Faarooq rushes the ring and starts beating down Jericho. Hard elbow and Y2J clotheslined out. To ringside, Jericho into the ringsteps, then bounced off the announce table and then a chair. Should that be a DQ? Jericho back with shots, Faarooq whipped into the barricade, but Jericho sent into the same off a dodged charge. Back in, corner smashes, hard whip into the opposite corner, snapmare, then a running forearm to the back. Is this an audition for Simmons or something, he looks up for this?

Faarooq to the top, but takes a drop-kick off a top-rope nothing. Y2J with some elbow drops, shots to the back of the head, rope choke. Sit down splash against the ropes, Jericho does it a lot better than Mark Henry did, and now he takes the padding off a turnbuckle. Turns into a clothesline, late count as the ref was fiddling with the turnbuckle, and only two. Going for the Dominater, Jericho out of it and hits a Bulldog. Nobody home on the Lionsault, and Faarooq nails a Spinebuster. Jericho kicks out, because he doesn’t recognise lower card finishers. Faarooq into the exposed turnbuckle off a dodged charge, Jericho hits a reverse DDT and that’s it in four on the dot.

Winner: Chris Jericho, settling into a mid card role with alarming ease.

Verdict: Actually pretty good. Faarooq got plenty of offence and didn’t look too bad, heel Jericho was up to shenanigans, and they are building him up again. Shame Simmons got beat off a signature though.

After the break, Reverend D-Von is with Lance Storm backstage. Storm is here to confess his sins: it’s worse than blasphemy or adultery, worse than being an American, which gets cheers because we’re in Canada. His sin is being a Western Canadian, and that whips the rug out from under the crowd. Very nice fakeout. D-Von forgives Storm his sins without us having heard what they are. Before Lance can leave he gets cornered by Deacon Batista, and pressed for a donation. He throws a penny into the box, and D-Von is disgusted by his cheapness. Are either of these guys wrestling later? What was this building to?

Elsewhere, Hulk Hogan is interviewed. The crowd pops big for a bit. What is it with Canada and this man? He is asked about last Thursday. Hogan says it was a turning point in his life. He had no idea of the response he was going to get. All he wanted to do was “bow out in a professional manner”, ha! How was that TNA house show, brother? He says Vince can stick his contract where the sun don’t shine. He is going to retire, but not now. There’s one other thing he needs to accomplish, and that’s a one-on-one “heavy duty match” with Vince McMahon. What’s a heavy duty match? He wants to tear McMahon’s black heart out, and suddenly Vince is here and in Hogan’s face. He’s going to tear his black heart out? Jackets are removed, looks like they are going to throw down, but then Kurt Angle attacks from behind with a pipe! Hogan left lying as we try not to be distracted by Angle’s goofy headpiece.

Time for the Stacker 2 Burn Of The Night, and it’s Tommy Dreamer getting annihilated last week after the gross out. Why. We get a recap of what we just saw with Vince, Hogan and Angle, and Cole says Hogan is receiving medical attention as we speak. Oh, I have a feeling he’ll be OK. Onto our mid-night title match.

The Undertaker (c) vs Randy Orton (WWE Undisputed Championship)

Hey, this was the main event of the first PPV I reviewed. Cole refers to “Big Evil” as a “big bully!” Taker on the mike after his entrance, to give us the context for this one. Tonight is going to be an example of why he is the greatest WWE Champion of all time. Why is he giving this rookie a shot? Because his dad was Cowboy Bob I presume. Wait, no, Taker says he wants to demonstrate how the WWE is the land of opportunity. He describes Orton as “an all around good kid” as the crowd gets into “what” mode, and it’s going to happen in a place full of wrestling history and tradition. What better place to do it than Calgary? The crowd pops, and no fakeout this time. What’s up with that?

Orton out for his title shot, only around two years before he actually wins the big one. Undertaker offers a hand, and it is a genuine one, for once. Lock-up, Orton backed into the corner, repeat. Shoulder knock-down, repeat, but then Orton back with a few arm drags and a back body-drop. Undertaker clotheslines out, then Orton follows up with a springboard crossbody. Back in, Mean Mark with a kick to the mid-section, looking for a suplex, Orton out of it and gets two off a pinning predicament. Undertaker nails a clothesline, elbow drop, and then sneakily exposes a turnbuckle.

Orton beaten down in a corner, reversed, and then the challenger nails two drop-kicks, only for the Champ to come back with that running DDT. Orton picked up before the count of three, forearm drag, a few light slaps, looking to whip Orton into the expose turnbuckle but reversed. Orton hits the Overdrive, but you best believe he’s kicking out of that. Taker back with a Snake Eyes and then a big boot, two. Taker jaws with the ref, roll-up from Orton for two, but then he runs into a loose chokeslam, and that will be it in under five-and-a-half.

Winner (and still WWE Undisputed Champion): The Undertaker, who is working a lot harder than Hogan as Champ anyway.

Verdict: It was fine, it did what it set out to accomplish. Still crazy to think how hard the ‘E is working on getting Orton over.

Undertaker maintains the assault in the aftermath, looking to pull the same trick with a chair as he did with Dreamer on Raw, and suddenly Triple H is here! Evolution a year early! Beating down on Taker, brawling over the announce table, into the ringsteps and then into the ring. Exchanging blows, HHH hits the knee, then clotheslines the Deadman out. Haitch grabs the title belt, and a mike. He wants an opportunity at the gold, and guarantees that if he gets the chance, Taker won’t be leaving with the title. Belt chucked at Undertaker, who retreats, slack-jawed. Is this our main event programme for King Of The Ring then?

After the break, how about a match with the entire cruiserweight division?

The Hurricane & Billy Kidman vs Chavo Guerrero Jr & Taijiri

Recap of the “mysterious notes” storyline for Helms. Genuinely baffled as to who could be behind them. Tajiri now billed as being just from “Japan”. It’s a big country guys. More talent in the ring right now than 90% of Raw, and I imagine it will be a little hard to follow.

Tajiri and Cane to start, lock-up, Hurricane with the takedown, Tajiri back with a kick to the ribs, leapfrog chain, Cane dodges an enziguri, then into a modified wheelbarrow where Cane bangs Tajiri into the lowest turnbuckle, awesome spot. Follows up with a superkick, and Chavo breaks it up. Kidman in, adds a splash to a Hurricane suplex, two. Tajiri with a wrist-lock, able to get Chavo in, but he takes a shot to the gut off a top rope nothing. Sit-out powerbomb gets two for Kidman, kick to the back from Tajiri, he locks on the Tarantula and Chavo hits a drop-kick with the ref distracted, another awesome spot.

Tajiri in, looking for a powerbomb, but countered into a hard looking facebuster. Cane in like a house on fire, cleans Chavo out, shoulder on a corner charge, hits the Overcast but Guerrero breaks it up, Cane with a neckbreaker to Chavo, counters a Tarantula attempt by dumping Tajiri out, and follows up with a somersault tope. Chavo with a Baseball Slide, and Kidman gets a big reaction off a Shooting Star tope to the heels. “Holy Shit” chants, well deserved.

Back in, Cane calling for the Chokeslam, but then suddenly his music plays. There’s a message on the screen: “You’re Wondering Who I Am, Well This Is Just A Peek, The Mystery Will Be Over, When I Reveal Myself Next Week” followed by a torn photo with Cane arm-in-arm with an unseen person. Hmm. “Mystery”. Could it be? I don’t remember Rey entering WWE this way. Cane gets caught reading the message, and Tajiri is able to hit the Buzzsaw for the 1, 2, 3 in just over four.

Winners: Japan’s Tajiri and Mexico’s Chavo, I guess.

Verdict: Crazy fast, and at times crazy reckless, cruiserweight action from these four, who light Smackdown up anytime they are given the chance to. Is this Helms storyline the best use of their time though?

After the break, straight into the next match. Coming hard and fast tonight.

Triple H vs Test

Did I mention that Test is now using his lame heel theme? I miss the unintelligible lyrics. Michael Cole brings up Test’s “immunity” for the first time in a while, man you’d think they would be making more of that. Dueling strikes to start, HHH floors Test with a shoulder, stomps in the corner, then a takedown by the throat. Test clotheslined out, a lot of that tonight, and Haitch follows for some ringside brawling. Test turns it around briefly to smash the Game’s head into the announce desk, but then Triple H counters an attempt to put him into the ringpost to do it to Test instead. Into the barricade, then back into the ring. About what you would expect so far.

Suddenly Lance Storm is coming sown the ramp, giving Test enough seconds to recover and land a big leg-drop on HHH as he comes back into the ring. Elbows in the corner, Haitch reverses them, but then takes a corner clothesline that has the Game collapsing. Storm at ringside now. Triple H dodges a corner charge, back with strikes, kick to the head, but then runs into an enormous Sidewalk Slam. Test sends HHH out, and distracts the ref so Storm can hit his Superkick. Haitch fed back in, but the Game gets a foot on the rope for the subsequent cover. At least they protected Storm’s finisher a bit.

Triple H back with that high knee, clothesline, another, then a spinebuster, but no count on the cover as Storm is distracting the ref. When HHH tries to deal with it he gets head dropped onto the rope, Test lands a pumphandle slam, but only two. Test calling for the Big Boot, but Haitch ducks, looking for the Pedigree, but has to break off to stop Storm coming at him from the top rope, flinging him into Test instead, nice spot. Dodges another Big Boot that goes into Storm’s face instead, looking for the Pedigree but now the Undertaker is out and on the apron. Triple H chases him off, now Test hits the Big Boot and to my astonishment that’s it in just under six.

Winner: Test, can you believe that? Even if it isn’t clean.

Verdict: Was good, but the constant interference wore me down a bit. Test getting a bit of a mini-push I guess? The golden shovel isn’t in place just yet anyway.

Taker in the ring, and Tazz declares that “he is not a happy Deadman”. Strikes, beatdown in the corner, and then a big delay chokeslam. Grabs a chair, chases off the ref, and then nails Triple H with a big headshot. Another to the back, now more refs are out, another shot, another, and now a very bald Dave Finley is out trying to call Taker off, that’s neat. He was a trainer at the time, and a few years away from an in-ring return. Shot to the head sends HHH out, another shot to the head, a third. Taker has finally done enough damage it seems and heads to the back. “The Undertaker has cancelled the Game”, nice. Triple H left lying, and I’m surprised given the propensity for it recently that he didn’t bleed.

After the break a recap of what we just saw, and then the cage descends with flashing lights and spooky music. Backstage. The Big Valbowski meets up with Edge in the locker room. He wants Edge to promise he’ll rip the stupid wig off, and Edge agrees, with a cheap pop by mentioning it’s what the people of Calgary want to see too. No escape, and no hiding. “Holy s**”” is Venis’ reply, what? He would wish Edge luck, but luck is for losers. What is that, his catchphrase? Valbowski had his shirt off for this segment for some reason too.

Elsewhere, a wigged Kurt Angle is interviewed. He’s asked about Edge’s threat to expose Angle’s bald head. Kurt is confused, as his head is full of natural hair. Footage of Angle getting his head shaved at Judgement Day follows, but Angle insists his hair grew back. Edge tried to disgrace him, but tonight he has nowhere to run. He’s not going to just beat him, he’s going to embarrass, humiliate and disgrace him in front of his lousy home country. Started off comic and turned intense: I liked it. That match is up after the break.

Kurt Angle vs Edge (Cage Match)

I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I can’t stand cage matches, they’re repetitive and have that dumbass door you can escape out of by just nicely asking the ref. Sign of the night: “Angle, just say no to rugs!”. The Hart family is at ringside, including Stu, who doesn’t look so great, around 18 months before his death.

Lock-up, elbows to Angle off a waistlock, some missed elbow drops from both guys. Lock-up, waistlock takedown from Edge, Angle reverses it in to a headlock. Huge “Angle Sucks” chants. Drop toe-hold sends Angle down, Kurt back with strikes, delivers an elbow off a whip, tries to send Edge into the cage but countered into a whip and then a spinning heel kick. Angle sent into the cage, Edge looking for a Spear against the cage wall but Angle dodges. Beatdown commencing on Edge, strikes, stomps then a prone face-lock. Edge battles out of it, reverses a whip and hits a big belly-to-belly. Great start, and crowd into this one.

Angle knocked down again, Edge to the top and hits a flying clothesline for two. Angle up quick to hit a German, a second, then a third. Stomps, Edge sent face first into the steel, again, a third time. Beatdown continuing, and Edge has been split open. Hard right from Angle, Edge back with a takedown, and able to catapult Angle into the wall. Roll-up from Edge gets two, follows up with a back body-drop, clotheslines, then a modified facebuster for two. Angle back with a throw, the ref takes a bump and Angle’s headgear gets knocked loose so it now looks like he has an afro, amazing.

Angle starts climbing, Edge follows, both on the top rope, and Edge nails a huge reverse suplex where Angle flips and lands on his front, crazy. Tazz thinks Angle was going for a counter, so perhaps he was meant to land on his feet? “Angle Sucks” louder than ever as Edge climbs, straddles the top but Angle drags him back and hits a low blow. Exchanging blows on the top rope, and Angle suddenly hits an Avalanche Angle Slam, holy crap! Haven’t seem him do that since King Of The Ring 2001. Angle climbing to the top, Edge motionless, to the top, over, crowd booing heavily and Angle makes it to the floor. He celebrates but there is no ref, and here comes Hulk Hogan to attack. Angle sent into the cage, crowd is nuclear, Hogan with another throw, as Tazz points out that Angle has won the match and this isn’t right. He isn’t wrong, Angle hasn’t broken any rules. Hogan opens the cage door and sends Angle back inside.

After the break Angle and Edge are at it again with the ref recovered. Counter chain, Angle hits another Angle Slam, but only two. Replay of a Spear getting hit for a very near fall during the break, shame we didn’t see that. Angle going for a Spear, Edge dodges, and hits his own Angle Slam for a crazy near fall, and the crowd is all in on all of this. Kurt puts on the Ankle Lock OUTTANOWHERE, countered and Angle sent into the cage. Now Edge puts on the Ankle Lock, now Angle counters out of it. Edge going for the door, intercepted by Angle, and he lays on some stomps with Edge hung up on the ropes. Hogan watching the door so Angle starts to climb, Edge up after, catches Angle and smashes his head off the structure causing him to drop balls first onto the suddenly open cage door, now that’s an inventive spot.

Angle dragged back by the “hair”, both on the top rope, Angle thrown to the floor, charges back and Edge hits an awkward looking Spear from the top. That’s enough in just over 14-and-a-half.

Winner: Edge, who is more than ready for the big leagues on the back of this feud.

Verdict: Great match, way better than most cage matches I have had to suffer through. These two brought it with some big spots, and I would say this was better than the ladder match on Raw.

Hogan is in the ring, attacks Angle, sends him into the cage a few times. Angle avoids having his wig pulled off with a rake to the eyes, and flees out the cage and up the ramp. So are we looking at Angle/Hogan for King Of The Ring then? On the night of another huge Edge victory, the show ends with Hogan standing tall and his music being played, god damn it.

Best Match: The main event, tonnes of fun, felt like a proper blow-out, and both guys should really move on now.

Best Wrestler: Hmm, plenty of options, for once. I’ll plump for Test in this case, he needed to go out and look good against arguably the real top guy of this brand, and accomplished that.

Worst Match: Not a lot of takers for this one, so the opening tag, which was poorly booked in-ring, gets it be default.

Worst Wrestler: Chrsitian, not because of his in-ring work, which was fine, but just because he was a very superfluous player.

Overall Verdict: Pretty good episode of Smackdown it has to be said. Longer matches, better matches, story progression and a hell of a main event. You can’t really ask for much more.

Quick Thoughts On AEW Full Gear 2021

Shida/Rosa vs Hayter/Rose – Decent Buy In level tag, that went longer than I expected and accomplished its goal of advertising the TBS Title Tournament.

MFJ/Allin – Match of the night. Perfectly paced, told a great in-ring story and works whether it is the end of this feud or just a stop on the road to more. I’ve never valued Friedman much in-ring, but he impressed me here and Allin was, well, Allin.

Lucha Bros/FTR – Standard AEW tag, so your mileage may vary: one feels they should just establish it as constant tornado rules and be done with it. Too many false finishes, and the actual finish was the very definition of “over-booked”. I’m not a huge fan of FTR really, and this didn’t showcase them very well.

Danielson/Miro – A little underwhelming for me, maybe because there wasn’t a hope Danielson lost. I love Miro, but him being in this transitional position doesn’t bode well.

Cage/Jurassic Express vs Superkliq – Good spot-fest fun, that never went too over the top and provided a decent blow-out for a feud that has started to wear out its welcome. Get Jungle Boy into the main event picture (again) already!

Rhodes/Pac vs Black/El Idolo – The wrong way to end this story, the apparent initial plan for a four-way would have been better. The story of “Can they co-exist?” for both teams wasn’t followed through enough, and the X-Pac heat on Rhodes is starting to become something the company can’t ignore. Basic TV main event level tag.

Baker/Conti – The definition of “transitional feud”. I like Conti but no-one ever thought she would win here. AEW needs to work harder at making challengers in this definition seem like legit threats.

Punk/Kingston – Maybe a little shorter than I would like, but otherwise great. Loved Kingston’s attack at the start, the way the crowd turned on Punk a bit, the Cena shout-out and the right man won. Lots of places things could go with Kingston too, and Punk looked good. A brilliantly executed feud, given it had such little lead-in time.

Inner Circle/Dan Lambert’s Unholy Alliance – Garbage wrestling at its finest. Feud lasted too long to get to this point, and the match featured one awful botch from Junior dos Santos that really stuck in the brain. But you’re here for stupid weapon and comedy spots, and to see Lambert beaten, so it delivered.

Omega/Page – I don’t think this feud is the long-term storytelling Mecca that so many make it out to be, but the match was fine and I liked the involvement of the Bucks at the conclusion. Page should be a good top guy, and Omega deserves a break.

Overall – Good show, though it peaked too early and had one too many matches with predictable conclusions. The worst match was average, and there were two absolute stand-outs. It’s rare you’ll get much more from a PPV.

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 #81: Smackdown (30/05/2002)

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

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