Can the blue brand keep up the good work? It’s the 6th June 2002 (filmed on the 4th) and we’re in the Cox Convention Centre of Oklahoma City for episode #147 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: a #1 contenders match to determine a new challenger for the WWE Undisputed Championship!
New Attitude splash, “Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/King welcome us to Oklahoma. 16 superstars are already in the ring, basically 90% of the mid-card, and commentary has no idea why. I can take a guess. Triple H’s music hits and out comes the Game, followed quickly by Jericho, then a still bewigged Angle and finally Hulk Hogan. Last out is Vince McMahon on the mike. He explains that right here in good ol’ Oklahoma City they’re going to have themselves an ol’ fashioned battle royal. Shock! The winner is going to be the #1 contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship, and will challenge The Undertaker at King Of The Ring. Oh, and it begins right now.
20 Man Battle Royal (#1 Contendership For The WWE Undisputed Championship)
So it’s the four mentioned above along with Holly, Henry, Snow, D-Von, Storm, Hurricane, Albert, Valbowski, Faarooq, Christian, Kidman, Chavo, Morrus, Godfather, Orton and Test. I have a feeling the big four might be the last men standing. Chaotic brawling, we got Hogan and Jericho, Orton and Albert, Godfather and HHH, and Godfather is the first thrown over, and we won’t be seeing him on TV again for a while. Faarooq next, crowd hot for Hogan, and now the Reverend is put out by Test. Kidman on the apron, fights off Storm and Jericho before getting the Big Boot and eliminated by Test. Valbowski out shortly after, Hogan and Angle going at it, then Hogan and Christian, and Christian flung out soon after to throw a temper tantrum.
Triple H chucked through the second rope, and is then beaten down at ringside by Storm and Test. Orton with a big drop-kick to Angle, but then back body-dropped out on a charge at the same. Snow on the apron, taking shots from Y2J, and he’s out. Triple H recovering on the outside as Mark Henry flings Storm out, then press slams Chavo onto Storm. Cane looking for the Chokeslam on Angle, Angle out of it easily and throws the Cruiserweight Champion out, followed closely by Hugh Morrus, who I forgot was even on this brand, never mind this match. Holly and Angle team up to throw Albert out, Holly then out through the middle rope. Angle attacking Mark Henry, Henry tries to press slam him out but Angle hangs onto the ropes. A drawbridge spot sends Henry out.
HHH with the high knee to Angle, and he gets flung out by a recovering Holly, before Test Big Boots him out too. HHH, Test, Jericho and Hogan are your final four, so shows what I know. Jericho beating on Hogan, now Test adds his stomps, then they double team Triple H. But Hogan is hulking up, right hands to both heels with the crowd cheering along, big boot to Jericho, then to Test, and out goes Jericho as HHH takes care of Test. Hogan and Triple H stare each other down, and the crowd is very into this.
Jawing, Haitch calling Hogan on, the Hulkster rips off the shirt and the Game attacks. Hogan with a clothesline, right hands, Triple H dodges the big boot, Cactus Clothesline and both men are out and hit the floor in just over eight.
Winner: Bret Hart and Lex Luger. I mean John Cena and Batista. I mean Sami Zayn, Tyson Kidd and Tyler Breeze.
Verdict: Fine, fast-paced battle royal action, they didn’t belabour getting the mid-card out, and the crowd was nuclear.
Different refs raise different hands as we go to break. After they are still arguing, and of course there is no conclusive camera angle to give us an answer. Hogan and Triple H having to be pulled apart, and hey Dave Finley is out again. Vince appears on the titantron, and says they have quite a dilemma. He asks the crowd who should face Taker, and HHH gets bigger cheers. But the “hookey okies” won’t influence him. During the break Vince calles Undertaker, and he doesn’t give a damn which individual he faces. You’d think he’d prefer to face Hogan, considering. They are both losers, and Vince decides that our main event will be a one-on-one match between the two to sort the issue out. HHH shoves Hogan over in the ring, and the refs pull them apart again.
Backstage, Kurt Angle is interviewed by Lloyd. Kurt is pissed, because he just got screwed. What is this, “Screw Kurt Angle” month? He brings up Hogan’s interference in the main event last week, and now Holly attacks him from behind. Is Holly teaching the kids in Tough Enough how to cheat? Bingo Bob arrives, and suggests that if Kurt doesn’t stop stressing he’s going to lose his hair. Angle suggests they settle it in the ring, and Hardcore agrees. Catchphrase, and he’s out.
Elsewhere, Billy & Chuck watch footage of last week’s disaster when Rico rocks up. They’re giving him the silent treatment, but Rico insists it wasn’t his fault. He criticises their complexions and their robes, and takes a look at Billy’s rear end which has a very obvious painted on zit on it, to make his point. Billy says they wouldn’t be such a mess if their stylist wasn’t running around with half the Tag Title belts. Tonight B&C have one last chance to win the titles, and if they fail they may just need another stylist.
On commentary Cole and Tazz announce that Edge is meant to be facing Chris Jericho in King Of The Ring qualification tonight, but Edge may not be physically capable of it after the intense match he was in last week. Think Copeland was legit injured at this time, so this might be their way of writing him out for a few weeks. Is Jericho getting a walkover then?
Rikishi & Rico (c) vs Billy & Chuck (Elimination Match) (WWE Tag Team Championships)
Why this one is an elimination match is beyond me, but whatever, it’s not like WWE is giving its tag division much attention. Rico and Chuck to start, Chuck with a drop toe-hold, locks on a wrist-lock, and Rico taps out in under 30 seconds. But of course. Rico retreats to ringside as Kish comes in, B&C double-teaming Rikishi, but the Tag Champ back with a double clothesline. Billy thrown out, Samoan Drop to Chuck, superkick to Billy, hip smash to Chuck in the corner, he’s set-up, Rikishi calling for it, Billy in to make the save, walks into the pop-up cutter, and that’s enough to eliminate him in under two.
Just a one-on-one between Rikishi and Chuck now, Kish dumped out and Billy runs him into the ringsteps with the ref distracted. Back in, shots in the corner, and Rico is taking apart a turnbuckle with the ref distracted. Rikishi back with strikes, but then flapjacked into the exposed turnbuckle for two. “You gotta hand it to this Rikishi” says Cole like Kish is some rookie. Chuck tries a Sunset Flip because that never fails to work against Rikishi, countered into a drop but nobody home. Rico on the apron to distract the ref, Billy in, but walks into a Samoan Drop. Another to Chuck, Billy distracting the ref now, Rico in to hit a spinning heel kick, superkick from Chuck, Rikishi has his foot on the rope but Rico knocks it off and Kish is eliminated in just over four.
Winners (and new WWE Tag Team Champions): B&C #2
Verdict: I’m only surprised it has taken them this long to put the titles back on the only established tag team on the Smackdown roster.
An enraged Rikishi attacks Rico on the aftermath, sets him up and hits the Banzai Drop. He’s left standing tall as the new Champs retreat. Please, don’t let this be set-up for more of this feud, we need new tag teams.
Backstage, in swoops The Hurricane! There’s another note in the hallway. “You think I’m a witch, I flew in on my broom, if you’re looking to find me, I’m in your locker room”. Cane gently walks away, which isn’t like him. Commentary runs down our main event, but we cut backstage to what is presumably Helms’ locker room. The person who is waiting for him is…Nidia! She’s been in OVW for a little bit after winning Tough Enough. Man, I was way off with my guess for who was leaving the notes.
Nidia actually gets a pop. She spits some gum at Cane, then mocks him with his own catchphrase. Cane says she’s the last person he needs to see. Nidia indicates that the two slept together once, but Helms says their relationship is over. He doesn’t need his life messed up by some “Hurribi**ch”. Wow. Nadia says she’ll never forgive Cane for dumping him, and his days as Champ are over, because her new boyfriend is on his way to take it. Cane suggests her new boyfriend take his best shot, and she can leave now. Suddenly Cane is attacked from behind! It’s Jamie Noble! He’d been an acquisition at the time of the WCW takeover, but had been in HWA since then. Hurricane beaten down and left laying. Nidia introduces Noble as the future Cruiserweight Champion, and they start making out hard. I recall loving these two back in the day, so looking forward to this.
Christian vs The Big Valbowski (King Of The Ring Qualifying Match #3)
Pulling double duty tonight these two. Exchanging shots, Christian hung up on the ropes, Venis follows up with a neckbreaker for two. One thing Smackdown is doing that Raw didn’t is trying to put the tournament over, with Cole running down some of the famous winners in the past and describing it as a “breakout event”. Valbowski with shots in the corner, foot choke, but then head smashed himself. Hard whip to the opposite corner, again and Christian adds a drop-kick when Morley bounces out, very nice. Good for two, Valbowski rallying back but can’t hit a suplex. Christian counters into a backbreaker for two. “We want Edge” chants, come on with that.
Valbowski with a shoulder knockdown, clothesline, Christian trying to go for the Reverse DDT but Morley counters into a Fisherman’s Suplex for two. Follows up with a spinebuster, then locks on a sort of modified Figure 4. Christian makes it to the ropes, dodges a clothesline, hits the reverse DDT, two. Out of a reverse suplex, knees Valbowski’s face, looking for the Unprettier, countered into a Blue Thunder Bomb, and that’s enough in just under three-and-a-half.
Winner (and progressing in the King Of The Ring Tournament): The Big Valbowski, who is the exact kind of guy the tournament should be made for really.
Verdict: Good stuff from two capable guys, but not a good look for Christian to be losing one like this.
Valbowski celebrates up the ramp. Backstage, Vince is on the phone to Taker, insisting that no matter what he’s going to remain Champion. He even asks how Sara is doing. Suddenly there is a knock on the door, and here are your Tough Enough winners Linda Myles and Jackie Gayda. They shake hands, and now Ivory is here, giving out that the two “girls” have barged their way into McMahon’s office. Linda squares up, and McMahon suggests that they work out the tension between them by having a match…on Velocity. Ivory would win that one.
Stacker 2’s “Smack Of The Night” is Shawn Michaels’ promoless return on Raw. After that break, it’s wig time.
Kurt Angle vs Hardcore Holly
Just about two years (or as Tazz puts it: “about a year, yea-and-a-half, two years ago, whatever”) after Angle legit broke Holly’s arm on a botched moonsault in an episode of Smackdown, though no grudges were held, at least according to Holly’s biography. Lock-up, whip chain, and Holly hits that big standing drop-kick. Big chops in the corner, Angle back with a whip, Holly out of a press slam attempt, Angle flapjacked onto the ropes, slam, two. Holly with a kick to the head, but then walks into a belly-to-belly. Huge “Angle Sucks” chants. Slam, two, now dueling shots, Holly rallying back, but Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a German. Holly up a bit too quick really, strikes, Angle counters into a sleeper, Holly fades but avoids the third arm drop.
Fighting out of it, puts on his own sleeper, but Angle counters into a reverse suplex. Both men down, up at a count of seven. Holly with a boot up on a corner charge, then dodges another to send Angle into the ringpost. Huge back body-drop, clotheslines, then a swinging powerslam, but only two. Holly to the top, but intercepted and flung off from the top, two. A pissed Angle removes the straps, looking for the Angle Slam, Holly lands on his feet, dodges a clothesline, hits a belly-to-belly, two. Crowd really into this one. Angle hung up on the ropes for a kick to the midsection, then Holly nails a powerbomb for a near fall. This one is cooking with gas now. Holly calling for the Alabama Slam, Angle wriggles out of it and counters into an Ankle Lock. Tazz actually shouting for Holly at this point. Holly gets to the ropes, Angle holds onto the leg, ducks an enziguri, roll-up, countered, Angle on top and hangs onto the ropes to get the pin in around seven.
Winner: He sucks.
Verdict: Hell of a match actually, like Lesnar and Bubba Ray a few weeks ago on Raw. Two hard-hitting guys putting on a show. Big exhibition for Holly it has to be said.
A pissed off Holly attacks in the aftermath, nails an Alabama Slam and tries to take the wig off, only to get a low blow. Angle grabs the ringbell, but Holly disarms and then slams Angle with it, it actually rang and all. A real “far from over” feeling off this one.
In a nearby medical facility, Maven recovers from an apparently broken leg, when Torrie Wilson arrives. She’s here to cheer him up, and when he asks why, she starts suggestively eating a banana. A nurse comes by and reminds him that he needs to keep his leg elevated. “Don’t worry, I’m real elevated”. Wilson starts stripping off, just in case we needed any more hints for what is happening. Still no chemistry between these two.
Elsewhere, but nearby I suppose, Tajiri stalks the halls of the hospital, to thunderous boos from the arena. He asks the receptionist where Maven is, and an amazing moment where she asks if the patient has a last name and Tajiri screams “NO, JUST MAVEN!”. Another nurse clarifies if Tajiri means the really handsome, well-built guy, and he puts on an amazing grumpy face, especially when the “pretty girlfriend” is mentioned. Tajiri sneaks off. Shenanigans incoming. I have time for heel Tajiri when he is up to hi-jinks like this.
Cole and Tazz note that Edge is meant to be taking on Jericho in the King Of The Ring match next, but it’s still not clear if Edge can compete. Recap of the end of the battle royal and a reminder of what the main event is tonight. Tazz predicts Triple H will win, so naturally Cole thinks Hogan will win, though Cole at least adds the logic that McMahon wants the Hulkster to succeed.
Back at the hospital, Tajiri has somehow found some scrubs, revealing himself evilly from behind a clipboard. He stalks the halls until he finds Maven’s room, but then gets pulled away before entering by a group of other doctors. There’s been a huge “tractor-trailer” accident, and they need all hands on deck. “They’ll be fine” Dr Taijiri replies, amazingly, and gets the expected “You flyboys crack me up” response. Tajiri is literally dragged away by the the other docs. You’d think they’d be wondering who he is. Enjoying this.
Back in the arena, Edge comes to the ring, out of his gear and with his arm in a sling. Big reception for the reigning King Of The Ring as he takes the mike. He says he’s been lucky in his career with injuries up until now. His Spear off the top rope last week tore up his shoulder, and he needs surgery. He won’t be around for a little while – and it was only a little while really – and he’s pissed off. He’s mad at himself, his body and at the fact that the WWE has finally put the ball in his hands and now he can’t run with it. Whoa, slow down on the shoot-style promos there. But if he could do it all again he would, because he loves this business. It kills him that he can’t wrestle for a while or defend his King Of The Ring title. But most of all, it kills him to forfeit his match against Jericho. But Edge will be back, and when he does, his goal will be to win the Undisputed Championship. Such a bad time for this injury, because Edge really probably wasn’t all that far off being at such a level.
Of course out comes Y2J. He says Edge makes him sick, and so do “all you jackasses” in the crowd. Jericho mocks Edge and his shoulder injury, and says what makes him sad is the fact that he won’t get to beat the crap out of Edge tonight. He’s already King Of The World, and soon he will be King Of The Ring. If Edge wants to make him happy, then he should raise his hand. “Come oooon jackass” he yells, and Edge has heard enough. Exchanging strikes, Jericho on top quick, and Edge is put shoulder first into a corer. To the outside, Y2J exposes the steel of the barricades, and whips Edge into it. The sling taken off, and used for a choke. Damn, this is brutal. Into the ringpost for good measure, then into the ringsteps and now he has a chair. One man conchairto with the aid of the steps and Cole gives us his best JR: “Oh dear God, no!” Tazz is even aghast.
Suddenly Valbowski is out! Shoulder charge to Jericho and he gets dumped out of the ring. Jericho is infuriated, as Venis sees to Edge. I wonder if they will meet in the King Of The Ring tournament? Replays of what we just saw, because why not.
After the break, Dawn Marie arrives at Mr McMahon’s office, but gets intercepted by a returned Stacey Keibler. They argue about who gets to be Vince’s arm candy, and about whose breasts are nicer. Seriously. Keibler storms off. Damn, I hate this.
Elsewhere, as we go into our seventh consecutive non-wrestling segment, Lance Storm rocks up to Billy Kidman. They have a match later, and Storm wants to tell Kidman that he’s boring, lacks charisma and is way too serious. Kidman says this means a lot coming from someone as exciting and captivating as Storm, and he also has the greatest haircut in the WWE. Storm is confused by this, as am I.
Elsewhere elsewhere, man remember when this was a wrestling show, Maven basks in a post-coital manner. He feels a lot better now, when Dr Tajiri suddenly arrives. Green mist! He attacks Maven! The door slammed on his damaged leg, before Tajiri retreats. Maven sells this super well I have to say, way more believably than any of his interactions with Wilson. Some come down from the earlier comedy though.
Time for the Smack Of The Night, nine non-wrestling segments in a row now. Brought to you by some video game called Test Drive? “Mixed or average reviews” says Wiki. Anyway, it’s Triple H getting pinned by Test last week. After that, we finally get back to some wrestling.
Lance Storm vs Billy Kidman
Why isn’t this a King Of The Ring match? That would at least give us some context. Lock-up, whip chain, sit-up rana from Kidman. Kip-up dodge from Storm in the corner, Kidman to the top but drop-kicked off and to the outside, man that looked rough. Back in, big springboard clothesline from Storm gets two, huge distance on it. Waistlock chain, Kidman rolls Storm up for two, countered for two, then Kidman with a pop-up powerbomb into a pin for two. Storm back with a DDT, two, lands on his feet from a reverse suplex, Bulldog off the second rope, but Storm suddenly counters into a half-Boston Crab. Kidman too near the ropes for it to be on too long, enziguri sends Storm down, Kidman to the top again, intercepted, but Kidman able to land a very stiff-looking Sunset Flip Powerbomb, looked like a very hard connection, and only two. A whip chain, Storm nails the Superkick and wins, clean, in just over two-and-a-half.
Winner: That self-hating Western Canadian.
Verdict: Short, but like a lot of short matches with guys of this level it was hugely entertaining, just pulling out big moves willy nilly. Could have done with more time to breathe. I don’t really need to tell you that the combo of Lance Storm and Billy Kidman produces good wrestling, you just wish they had the chance to sell.
Backstage, Lloyd is with Triple H. He sums up the main event and ques up footage of Taker destroying HHH last week. Clever angles make it seem like Taker was actively trying to murder Haitch. Apparently the Game only has 30% range of motion in his right arm, and Lloyd wants to know the thoughts of this “generational icon”. It isn’t the reign of terror just yet man, easy up on the politicking. Triple H just glares and walks off.
Cole and Tazz plug the Linda Miles/Ivory match on Velocity this coming weekend, before we get a recap of Jericho ruining Edge’s life. Anyway, time for the main event, as Hogan’s music plays too loud over commentary and the ring announcers.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs Triple H (#1 Contendership For The WWE Undisputed Championship)
Another recap of the finish to the battle royal earlier. HHH is on the cover of “Flex” magazine, which means precious little to me. Hogan always makes sure to be in shot whenever Triple H is doing his entrance schtick on the apron, that guy is such an ass. At least this match will go a lot shorter than the Backlash main event, with only 12 minutes left in the broadcast at the bell. Lock-up, the two do a twirling dance for a bit in that position, then HHH with shots in the corner, whip into the opposite corner and Hogan “explodes” out of it with a clothesline. Adds a few more, right hands and Haitch dumped out to the crowds delight. Brawling at ringside, Hogan avoids a head smash into the steps and gives one to the Game instead. Now into the crowd briefly, then back to ringside. “Hogan taking no prisoners in this match up”. Is he trying to kill Triple H then?
HHH sends Hogan into the ringpost, back in, shots, chops, choke. Haitch certainly playing a little heel out there. More shots, high elbow, elbow drop, two. Given his arm is meant to be injured, you’d think he’d sell some pain doing this, but no. Hogan back with a strikes but then walks into a sleeper. All the way to mat, arm drop #1, arm drop #2, but the arm stays up on #3. Rallying back, and now Hogan puts on a sleeper, but countered into a reverse suplex that has only a few feet in it. Two, Hogan hulking up, right hands, big boot, Atomic Leg-Drop but nobody home. HHH trying for a Pedigree, but countered into a back body-drop. Now Hogan drops the leg, but Triple H out at two, take that, brother. Hogan jawing with the ref, now HHH hits the Pedigree, and that’s it in just over six-and-a-half.
Winner (and new #1 contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship): The Game, thank God. Keep Hogan out of the main event.
Verdict: It was fine, basic as all hell. Better than Backlash just because it was short.
Triple H celebrates, then tries to help Hogan up, but the Hulkster pushes him off angrily. HHH leaves, but Hogan is on the mike. He demands Haitch get back in the ring. They face off. Hogan says he doesn’t have a problem shaking the better mans hand, and offers it. The Game takes it, they actually hug, and Hogan raises the Game’s hand. Excuse me while I go throw up. Hogan goes to leave, but Triple H calls him back into the ring now. Now he’s on the mike, and says he and Hogan still have unfinished business. He apes Hogan’s taunts, and I’m begging for a heel turn here. They actual do them together in stereo, ugh, stop, stop, stop.
Kurt Angle comes out, and I have never been happier to see him. Suddenly Undertaker is in the ring, and he floors Triple H from behind! Taker beating down HHH, Angle beating down Hogan. Big chokeslam to Triple H, Angle Slam to Hogan. I would be cheering like crazy if I was in this arena right now. Haitch, picked up, and Taker adds The Last Ride. The heels stand tall as we go off air.
Best Match: Angle/Holly is a good watch from this one, two committed guys who aren’t afraid to work a little stiff when the need is there.
Best Wrestler: Lance Storm, who honestly could have been at the top of the card if booked right, he was amazing in-ring at this time.
Worst Match: The Tag Title match, which felt like a badly needed blow-off to a not great feud, at least one week too late.
Worst Wrestler: Look at that reverse suplex in the main event and remind me again why Hogan is in the spot that he is in?
Overall Verdict: It was good, just one outright bad match I would say and the battle royal was a nice change of pace. Needed the matches to be longer though, that huge stretch in the middle with no wrestling was a real momentum-killer.
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