NFB Watches Wrestling #85: Smackdown (13/06/2002)

Forget about Austin, we have…other options. It’s the 13th June 2002 and we’re in the BI-LO Center of Greenville, South Carolina for episode #148 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Triple H and Hollywood Hulk Hogan take on Kurt Angle and The Undertaker!

New Attitude splash, and we go straight into a video package recapping the events of Raw. I think this two minute version with music that sounds like it’s from the Knight Of The Old Republic soundtrack was a lot more palatable than the half hour it took on Monday.

“Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Greenville. “In the midst of this contra-versal week” Cole starts us off, and that is how he says it, wonderful. There is a mountain of security guards in a ring decked out with a table and a red carpet to welcome the arrival of WWE’s 100% owner Vince McMahon, who struts his way to the ring. He even climbs a corner to taunt the crowd. He clambers onto the table with a mike to address the crowd. Last Monday night he put his life on the line in that match with Ric Flair, and he won. He owns Raw, Smackdown, he owns it all (I think Billy Gunn can make a claim for gimmick infringements with that). Powerful individuals only become more powerful, and the filthy rich only become more filthy rich. But he understands his responsibilities to the less fortunate. They need to get their minds off the daily grind of their miserable existence, and that’s where Vince comes in. And tonight, they are going to start with an official contract signing for the main event of the King Of The Ring.

McMahon introduces The Undertaker, and even raises his hand when he gets into the ring. Then Triple H, who comes into the ring warily. Vince orders them both to act as gentlemen: Taker takes a seat and signs the contract, but when invited Triple H flings the seat out of the ring. He signs the document, staredown, and McMahon proclaims the match official. “No Chance” and McMahon departs. Suddenly security grabs the Game! Undertaker on the attack! Triple H gets beaten down as McMahon yells his approval. Kick to the head sends HHH out, he fights back against the horde of security, and now he has a sledgehammer from somewhere. McMahon, Taker and all of the security literally flee to the back in a comical fashion as Haitch wrecks the table. The Game on the mike to demand Taker get back in the ring, and he won’t leave until he has The Undertaker tonight. He’ll become Champion at King Of The Ring, but right now he wants the Deadman’s ass (hmm, not exactly Daniel Bryan’s takeover is it?) Triple H grabs a security guard left lying, and delivers a Pedigree.

After the break Triple H is still in the ring, when out come the Tag Team Champions, holdings chairs, and Rico. Rico, on the mike, says he’s meant to be competing against Rikishi right now, oh joy. Billy and Chuck insist HHH depart before they are forced to make him (I sense some gay panic imminent). Haitch says he’s glad Billy and his partner have found a whole new meaning to the phrase “Suck It” (told you) but if Billy comes to the ring the only thing he’s going to be sucking on is the edge of a sledgehammer. The trio run to the ring, Billy gets cleaned out with the sledgehammer and the Game remains standing tall.

He once again insists he won’t move until The Undertaker is sent out as B&C&R limp to the back. He glares at the announce table, and decides you can’t have Smackdown without one, and lays into it. He doesn’t actually make much of a dent, and ends up needing a second sledgehammer when the first one breaks. In the end he just tips the table over, this was a bit embarrassing. The timekeepers desk gets it next, then the commentary monitors as someone at ringside screams “Break that bitch son!”. Back into the ring, Triple H now eyes up a camera being held by a hand, who gets dispatched with ease. Camera set-up, HHH mentions they got for around 50K a pop – is that right, that seems like a lot – and we even get the angle from the camera.

As Haitch raises the hammer McMahon does come back out. He might give the Game what he wants, not because he’s being intimidated or held hostage, but because he likes to give the people what they want. But it won’t be one-on-one, it’ll be a tag team match: The Undertaker and Kurt Angle vs Triple H and Hulk Hogan. Crowd pops big. Triple H says that suits him just fine, but he has one last message to send to the Undertaker: “See you in hell Deadman!”. The camera gets smashed to bits, and HHH poses. After the break Cole sums up the damage caused by “that raving lunatic” Triple H, then we even get a video recap. Commentary reminds us of the main event, before we finally get some wrestling. 26 minutes of a 84 minute show have elapsed.

Test vs The Hurricane (King Of The Ring Qualifier #6)

Interesting contrast here. Test’s first appearance since pinning Triple H, and he could use at least a bit of a run in this tournament to try and desperately cling to that momentum. As Hurricane comes out we get thrown to some “Earlier Tonight!” footage of Nidia confronting Cane. After she mocks him he suggests she use her “famous oral skills” to tell him where Jamie Noble is. They get weirdly close and overly sexual for Cane to tell Nidia to tell Noble he’ll take him on any time, any place. She gives his face a lick, because ugh. Catrina she is not.

Back in the present, Cane dodges a clothesline, lays in some ineffectual strikes and then flees to the outside. Test in pursuit, back in, and gets floored off a running forearm, then a running clothesline. Strikes in the corner, whip reversed and Test nails a big corner clothesline. “He has a bright future in the WWE” weird thing to say about a heel who’s been around for four years. Hurricane with an elbow on a corner charge, then dodges a splash, looking for a top-rope crossbody but caught. Test looking for that spinning neckbreaker, Cane out of it, looking for the Chokeslam, Test battles out easily, looking for the Pumphandle, Hurricane out of it and counters into a Final Cut for a near fall. Show should sue. Exchange of strikes, Test hits that twisting neckbreaker/cutter thing that Cole calls the “Test Drive” OUTTANOWHERE, and that’s it in under two.

Winner (and progressing in the King Of The Ring Tournament): Test, who I would consider the kind of guy who might just make it far in this tournament, future knowledge excepted.

Verdict: Cool seeing this kind of contrast in the ring, but it was way too short: we only have an hour to get through six matches on the card.

Test heads off quick and now Jamie Noble and Nidia are in the ring. Noble on the mike to mock Cane, Nidia goes for a slap, but then de-masks Hurricane instead! The Hurricane is Gregory Helms! I am shocked, SHOCKED. Now she gives him the slap, Nidia takes the cape for good measure, and the two bad guys make-out in the ring. Is this the end for The Hurricane? After the break straight into the next match, where you’ll be happy to learn the announce table has been set back-up again, with Tazz using the sledgehammer dents as cup-holders. Smart guy that Tazz. Anyway.

Tajiri vs Hardcore Holly (King Of The Ring Qualifier #7)

Tazz starts this one out by literally asking himself who is going to win the tournament, and decides Holly is a lock. Lock-up, Tajiri with a knockdown, Holly back with a hard elbow, chops in the corner, Tajiri with a corner kip-up to avoid a splash, then hits a superkick. Laying in stomps as Cole suddenly says they “have to talk about Stone Cold walking out of WWE the other night” and plugs WWE Confidential this Sunday where we’ll get “the real story”. Hmm. Elevated punches from Tajiri, another knockdown, and a drop-kick to the head. Holly trying to rally back but then takes another kick to the chin.

Chops in the corner, reversed so Holly can add the same, another corner whip for another corner kip-up escape, that’s a little samey now. Rope assisted enziguri, Holly up quick to hit a few clotheslines, then that big drop-kick for two. Body Slam gets two, a slap, looking for the Alabama Slim but Tajiri counters out of it and nails another kick to the head for two. Awkward moment where Holly goes for the corner spear but pulls out of it a bit so Tajiri can counter into the Tarantula, these two aren’t meshing at all. Holly counters the Tarantula into the Alabama Slam, that’s neat at least, and it’s enough for the win in three-and-a-half.

Winner (and progressing in the King Of The Ring Tournament): King Bob?

Verdict: As I said these two are so different that it felt like they just didn’t work well together, a few awkward and repeated spots. Still, good to see Holly getting the rub.

This completes the official list of 2002 King Of The Ring competitors, on Raw we have Brock Lesnar, Rob Van Dam, Booker T and X-Pac, on Smackdown we have The Big Valbowski, Chris Jericho, Test and Hardcore Holly. Quarter-Finals next week.

Backstage, Chris Jericho watches back footage of him destroying Edge and talks himself up. Suddenly The Big Valbowski is here. He says Jericho must feel larger than life, but tonight he’s getting Venis’ foot up his ass, so he’ll really really “feel” larger than life. Ugh, that’s weak. Y2J looks suitably intimidated.

In a Brooklyn barber, the old WWF symbol gets a haircut so he is now WWE. “Get The F Out”. This is cleverer than some of the other ones they’ve done. Back in Greenville, Cole plugs the main event before we go to our standard “Better Than Anything Else They Put On All Week” mid-show Smackdown tag.

Chris Jericho & Lance Storm vs The Big Valbowski & Billy Kidman

Recap of the Edge beatdown last week as Cole lets us know Edge will be back in about a month. New theme music for Storm and Kidman, that is somehow more generic than their previous ones. Cole confirms that it is Jericho/Valbowski next week in a King Of The Ring Quarter-Final. So there is a bracket then?

Morley and Jericho to start, but Y2J tags out before contact. Valbowski clears Jericho off the apron and then gets nailed from behind by Storm. Foot choke, in comes Jericho, strikes, chops, but Valbowski back with a shoulder charge, then a Scoop Slam, knee drop, but then Jericho back with kicks. “Both of these men know what winning the King Of The Ring would mean for their careers”. Yeah, well, for every Austin or Angle there’s a Mabel and Gunn, Cole. Venis with a boot up on a corner charge, hits a neckbreaker, two. Jericho with a kick to the head, Storm in, Valbowski with a roll-up for two.

Kidman in, nails a top-rope crossbody for two, chain into a Monkey Flip, nice. Storm clears Morley off the apron, Kidman winds up in an Electric Chair position, and with some help from Jericho Storm hangs him on the ropes. Y2J in, running senton, two. Kidman hung up on the ropes off a scoop, Storm in, huge standing drop-kick, they should have him feud with Holly. Two, Jericho in, head smashes in the corner, big chops, but Kidman reverses and lays in some of his own. Jericho back quick with a hard whip into the corner, Bulldog, but knees up on the Lionsault.

Hot tag to Valbowski, clotheslines to Storm, elbow to Jericho, back body-drop to Storm, body slam to Jericho. Blue Thunder Bomb for two on Storm before Jericho breaks it up. Jericho whiped into the corner, and Valbowski and Kidman then pull this strange looking pop-up/kick double-team, that looks really goofy but which Cole sells like it’s the most amazing thing he’s ever seen. Kidman and Jericho out, Storm nails a big spinning heel kick to Valbowski for a near fall, then Venis back with a big spinebuster. Kidman tagged in, Storm prone, Shooting Star, but Jericho pulls the ref out before he can could the three. In to hit Kidman with a reverse DDT, Valbowski dumps Jericho out, and Storm gets two on a slow count. Manic stuff now. Kidman ducks a clothesline, rolls Storm up, both men with shoulders down but Kidman gets his up just in time, and that’s it in just over five-and-a-half.

Winners: Valbowski and Kidman

Verdict: Usual crazy paced stuff for the middle-of-the-show tag. All four guys looked good and, bar that weird faced double-team thing, it all popped really nicely. Presume we’ll have some single matches between these four next week.

Storm complains that he got his shoulder up too, and replays suggest he’s right. Ready-made re-match angle I suppose.

Backstage, Lloyd is with Hulk Hogan. He says he couldn’t be happier to be in the main event. He knows Triple H is going to beat The Undertaker at King Of The Ring, but he wants to talk about Kurt Angle, He got beaten down by Angle last week, but only because he doesn’t have the guts or confidence to attack from the front. They have a lot in common: both proud Americans, both former Champions, and both “ba, ba ba ba ba…bald!”. But at least Hogan just lost out to Mother Nature. If Cueball has a problem, he can have a match with Hogan at King Of The Ring. He’s going to rip that goofy wig off his head tonight, whatchagonnado, etc. Lloyd looks genuinely delighted by this rambling promo.

Elsewhere, Lance Storm confronts referee Brian Hebner. Hebner says he just counted what he saw, Storm is not mollified. He says Hebner’s family has a history of screwing proud Canadians, by seeing what they want to see. Hebner looks displeased at this. Please tell me we are not getting Storm vs Brian Hebner?

Elsewhere elsewhere Lloyd is now with Linda Miles. Last week was her first match on Velocity, where she was betrayed by Jackie Gayda. We get footage of said treason, and Lloyd announces that Gayda and Ivory have challenged Miles to a tag match with a partner of her choice. Miles says she’s new and doesn’t know many people, but she has been able to find a hell of a partner: WWE Womens Champion Trish Stratus! Stratus says they will deliver 100% Stratusfaction. No talk of enormous rear ends here, thankfully.

Elsewhere elsewhere elsewhere Vince is on the phone complaining about Triple H’s destruction spree earlier, when Kurt Angle arrives. He accepts Hogan’s challenge for a match Sunday week, but is unhappy about Hogan’s threat to remove his perfectly natural hair. McMahon looks a tad confused, and Angle even suggests Vince pull some of his hair. McMahon is hesitantly about to do so when Undertaker barges in. He’s unhappy about being put into as tag match with “that lunatic”, but McMahon says it’s a calculated risk, like the one he took on Monday night. They’re all gambling men, and he thinks the tag match is a safe bet. Taker looks unconvinced. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will say it again but Cowardly Undertaker doesn’t work.

Commentary plugs the main event of the next episode of Velocity which will be an Angle/Holly re-match. Surprised that’s not on Smackdown to be honest, but they can always do it again I suppose.

Reverend D-Von w/Deacon Batista vs Faarooq

The good Reverend is in the ring and on the mike as we turn to this one. He’s here to help the audience with a terrible problem: masturbation. It’s a sin, and everyone partaking in it will be going to hell. D-Von himself doesn’t do it anymore, and he urges us all to “leave that thing alone”. This brings out Faarooq, the WWE’s poster child for masturbation as you may recall from his Attitude Era feud with Kurt Angle. He’s on the mike himself to ask what the hell D-Von is talking about. Faarooq still masturbates, and he has only one thing else to say, which is to brain his opponent with the mike. Subtle. Laying in shots, Spinebuster (that Cole calls the Dominator, come on) and that’s it in seconds.

Winner: Masturbation

Verdict: Hopefully Faarooq can last longer in other respects?

Batista in to try and blindside Faarooq but takes a boot through the collection box for his trouble. Simmons walks away victorious. Damn, this was real obvious filler.

Backstage Trish Stratus and Linda Miles prepare for their tag match, which is up next. But first, the Panasonic Smack Of The Night. It’s a recap of the truly awful Trish/Molly stuff from Monday night, so I assume Holly might pop up here.

Ivory & Jackie vs Trish Stratus & Linda Miles

Gayda has dropped the second name it seems, which you would think would be confusing given the existence of Jacqueline, commonly called “Jackie”. Trish and Miles get the “Already in the ring” treatment, good lord, she’s the Womens Champion! Ivory attacks Trish to start, terrible looking elbow that Stratus spins off of, knees to the mid-section, then a Sidewalk Slam for two. Knees to the head, looking for a suplex, Stratus out of it, putting in some shots, but takes a knee to the back from Jackie so Ivory keeps the advantage with a drop-kick.

Trish’s head sent into Jackie’s knee, and in comes the Tough Enough winner. She is apparently wearing a knee brace, hence all the knee attacks. Stratus thrown around, ducks a clothesline and nails a Chick Kick. Back body-drop that Jackie only just about lands properly, and in comes Miles. Clothesline, Scoop Slam, another, a not great looking drop-kick gets two with Ivory breaking up the count. Things break down a bit, heels working Miles over for a bit, and they deliver a double Flapjack. Nobody home on a Big Splash from Ivory “hot” tag to Stratus as Cole casually announces that she’ll be defending the Title against Holly at King Of The Ring, great.

Stratus working Ivory over in the corner, but Ivory with a boot up in a charge. To the second rope, intercepted and Stratus lands a Frankensteiner. Stratusfaction off the ropes and that’s it in just under three with Jackie just standing on the apron like a moron.

Winners: Trish and Shaniqua

Verdict: I mean, you can’t expect much from two women this green. They should have been put straight into developmental. No sign of Holly, so this was especially pointless regards the Champ.

The faces stand tall as Jackie helps Ivory out.

Backstage McMahon is just standing around his office when Stacey Keibler, in a belly-top, walks in. She compliments McMahon on how he now owns everything. Vince says he now feels more like himself, and insists that from now on she only ever refer to him as “Mr McMahon”. There’s a knock at the door but Vince tells her to leave it. On the other side of it is Dawn Marie, left hanging. Instead, we get the sight of McMahon frenching Keibler, only this time she looks disgusted. I guess that’s something at least.

Time for the WWE Burn Of The Night. It’s Holly countering the Tarantula into the Alabama Slam earlier. How is that a burn? Commentary runs down Triple H’s shattering of cameras and monitors earlier, before reminding us that the Quarter-Finals of the King Of The Ring will take place next week. A nod to the PPV theme tune before we get to see an actual bracket. It’s X-Pac/RVD and Booker T/Lesnar for Raw, Valbowski/Jericho and Test/Holly (the last called “Hardcore” in the bracket). It’ll be a mixed bag from there, with Pac or RVD facing Valbowski or Jericho, and either Test or Holly against Lesnar or Booker.

I’ll take the time to say that, even knowing how this tournament ends, there are only two who should have been booked to win it. Discount those who had already held top titles, and those who had been in the company for years already, and you are left with Van Dam and Brock. And of those two there is only one who could do with the limited rub that the King Of The Ring can give. Anyway.

Backstage Triple H gets his bad elbow taped up. Will he actually sell that this time? Elsewhere Hogan walks down a hall when he gets stopped in his tracks by Undertaker. Suddenly Angle attacks from behind! Hogan sent into a pile of steel bars then beaten down. At least it wasn’t a load of empty cardboard boxes. Hogan left lying. After the break we get a recap of what we just saw, because they aren’t having the main event go longer than 15 minutes. Cole says Hogan has been taken out of the equation of the tag team match-up.

The Undertaker & Kurt Angle vs Triple H & Hollywood Hulk Hogan

The Hulkster does not appear, so this is a de facto handicap match. Triple H out during Angle’s entrance to blindside him, then into the ring to go toe-to-toe with Taker. Knee drop, clothesline, whips into corners, corner clothesline, now Angle into the ring only for the Olympic Hero to get worked over. Angle reverses a whip and Taker able to nail a big boot. Beatdown, and Angle ends up legal.

Suplex, shots in the corner, rake to the eyes when HHH tries a comeback, but then Angle eats a high knee off a charge. Distracted by Taker Haitch gets attacked from behind by Angle, rope choke, more shots in the corner, and with Angle distracting the ref the Deadman’s able to lay in a clothesline from the apron, then an elbow. Crowd not especially hot for any of this. Another foot choke from Angle, another ref distraction and now Undertaker drops the leg. “Hogan” chants, great. Chops in the corner, but Triple H out of a corner whip to nail a clothesline. Taker cleared off the apron but this allows Angle to hit a trio of Germans for two. Taker in, jawing with the Game, shots in the corner but then Triple H back with a throat-first takedown. Again he clears out the guy on the apron only to get attacked from behind by the other guy. Very samey feel to all of this.

HHH dumped out, Angle lays in some shots at ringside then throws him back in. Strikes, shots in the corner, two. Angle in, takes a boot to the head but then able to lock on a sleeper. Arm drop spot as we get “Triple H” chants, the Game rallying back and able to hit a reverse suplex. Tag to Taker, Haitch hits an elbow, dueling strikes, Taker getting the advantage, whip chain and a double clothesline sends both men down. Angle in, nobody home on a corner spear, Triple H ducks a clothesline and hits a neckbreaker, then a spinebuster to an interfering Undertaker, then throws Angle out. The Game follows, Kurt sent into the ringsteps, and now brawling with Undertaker at ringside. Mean Mark whipped into the barricade, shots and now Triple H starts taking apart the announce table. A sledgehammer is produced, back into the ring, and HHH gives Taker a shot to the gut, leading to the bell being called in just under ten.

Winners (by-DQ): The unlikely duo of Undertaker and Angle. What would we call that, the Patriot Alliance?

Verdict: Pretty boring affair, just a beatdown interspersed with repetitive hope spots. Then a non-finish. Not Smackdown’s best effort.

Haitch going for another shot but Taker avoids with a kick. The Game tossed out, Taker follows for some reason, and takes a few more sledgehammer shots to the mid-section before being dumped into the crowd. Angle attacks from behind, HHH sent into the ringpost, back into the ring, and Angle hits an Angle Slam. He celebrates as his victory is announced, then heads up the ramp. Long camera hold on Angle as we wait for Hulk Hogan to inevitably appear, and here he comes.

Shots to Angle, back into the ring, and there Triple H delivers a hard right. HHH and Hogan trading shots to Angle, Kurt eventually floored, Hulkster rips off the shirt, Haitch looking for a Pedigree, Angle reverses into a Sunset Flip but then the Game just pulls his trunks down to the crowds delight. Angle is so distracted by this that Hogan is able to rip the wig off, then a Pedigree. A wide range of emotions here. Hogan slaps on the wig himself, nails a Leg-Drop, then raises Triple H’s hands while his music is played. Crowd has suddenly exploded by the way. Replays of what we just saw, Hogan and Triple H share poses and that is all we have time for.

Best Match: The mid-show tag, again. Better than the first half-hour by a long-shot.

Best Wrestler: I guess I’ll go with Angle this time, who was doing most of the heavy lifting in the main event and has made a match with Hogan on PPV something I have a slight interest in seeing.

Worst Match: Tajiri/Holly, just two guys who did not work well together.

Worst Wrestler: I get paid if all I do is drop the leg, right brother?

Overall Verdict: Not the very best episode, too much non-wrestling in terms of segments, two dud matches and a boring main event. Raw is pulling ahead in quality terms bit by bit.

To view more entries in this series, click here to go to the index.

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #85: Smackdown (13/06/2002)

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

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