It’s the go-home for King Of The Ring! It’s the 20th of June 2002 and we’re in the Arco Arena of Sacramento, California for episode #149 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker in a non-title match? Wait, what?
New Attitude splash, and we get a recap of the main event segment of Raw, but with no mention of Austin and emphasis on The Rock’s insistence he will be at King Of The Ring. Hmm. “Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Sacramento. Cole runs down the card briefly, with two King Of The Ring Quarter-Finals and “Triple H in action” coming up.
Out comes Kurt Angle, wearing the wig/wrestling head-piece again, and to big “You Suck” chants. Sign of the night: “Bald Angle Fly Away”. On the mike, your Olympic hero, looking a mite upset, says he knows that “you people” (drink!) have been laughing at him. So have the boys in the back. But this is no laughing matter. What he’s about to tell us is extremely difficult. He’s bald. “No!” cries Tazz, amazing. He further confirms that he has been wearing a wig since Judgement Day. He’s tried Rogaine, hair tonic, even fertiliser (wait, what?) but nothing has helped.
Triple H and Hulk Hogan tried to make a joke out of him last week, and that gets a recap of the pantsing and the de-wigging, which hilariously gets censored. Angle insists he is not a joke. The real joke is Hogan, who looks like he is a hundred years old and can’t wrestle (easy on the shooting there Kurt). He’s even copying Angle’s colours. Angle mocks Hogan’s mannerisms, and this Sunday Kurt will prove the Hulkster is a joke. He’s going to embarrass Hogan, and make him cry with the Ankle Lock. Worse, he’s going to make him tap out. He’ll break the ankle (he creepily repeats this a few times with this crazy intense look, very effective). Worse, he’s going to break Hogan’s spirit. And we’ll see who gets the last laugh.
This brings out Hogan, whose reception on this occasion at least a little piped-in sounding. He loses the shirt once he hits the ring, so assuming this is coming to blows. “Hogan” chants, staredown. Hogan on the mike to say that the biggest joke is going to be this Sunday, when “this hundred year old man” kicks his Olympic ass. Hogan says he will, in fact, be getting the last laugh when he removes the wig from Angle’s head again. Angle suggests he just try it “old man”, sounding for all the world like Dewey Wilkerson. Hogan attacks, right hands, big boot, bandana removed and he goes for the wig. Angle escapes with a low blow and flees the ring. Angle vs Hogan as “Battle of the Baldies” is not how I would have expected them to build this, but whatever works I guess.
Cole says they will look back on The Rock’s return, on a title card that says “The Rock Tonight”. Way to infer he’s turning up tonight to the audience guys. Backstage, Dawn Marie confronts Stacey Keibler. They spar over what Vince’s title is, before Dawn Marie confirms she’s in whatever lingerie contest is happening next week, whatever. Suddenly Torrie Wilson is also here, and is, of course, in her underwear. The crowd noise drowns out whatever she says, the important thing is Keibler looks annoyed. This whole bit is apparently for a TNN special on the following Tuesday, so I least I won’t have to watch it.
Rikishi vs Christian
“Rikishi has been on an incredible roll in the WWE” says Cole, what? He just lost the Tag Titles in a worthless gimmicky story! No context for this one. Christian attacks, put down quick, he avoids a superkick only to walk into a big back body-drop. Belly-to-belly, but avoids a hip smash in the corner, reverse DDT, two. Shots from Christian, rope choke, corner spears, Kish back with strikes and now nails a Savate Kick. Christian tries a Sunset Flip but avoids the drop, stupid how everyone keeps trying that. Christian tries for the Unprettier, Rikishi pushes out of it, hits that pop-up cutter and the ref counts for three even though Christian’s foot is clearly on the rope in just under two.
Winner: Controversial refs.
Verdict: Throwaway match meant to further a different feud. Poor Kish.
Lance Storm comes down to remonstrate with the ref with Christian as Rikishi dances in the ring. Weird dichotomy there. After the break the heels are in the ring and Storm is on the mike. He says the officiating is not just “innocent incompetence” which gets “USA” chants. The same thing that happened to him last week has just happened to his good fiend Christian, and the pattern is inherent prejudice to Canadian athletes. It isn’t just the officials, it’s the American wrestlers too. In fact, the whole damn company has a history of anti-Canadian prejudice. They’ve been holding Canadians back for years, and screwing (deliberate choice of words) them every chance they get. And the crowd is the same (the crowd boos this, despite the “USA” chant). America itself is prejudiced, towards Canada, and every other country (what’s with the face promo Lance?).
“You Americans” think you’re better than everyone else. Just because they are the most powerful nation in the world – huge cheers – they think have the right to throw around their power as they see fit – more cheers – and who do they think they are? “You people” (drink!) deserve to be hated. He speaks for millions (and millionnnssss!) of people around the world when he says American sucks. We suddenly cut backstage with no more of this. I was expecting someone to come out and defend American’s honour, maybe Faarooq or Mark Henry or someone, but nothing doing. At least it looks like we’re getting another actual tag team for Smackdown.
Backstage Marc Lloyd is with Triple H. HHH says Lloyd looks nervous around him, and Lloyd confirms he is, what with the rampage last week. Haitch says its OK, and asks Lloyd’s question for him. Any thoughts on this Sunday? He’s going to get his shot, his chance, and he’s going to get back the Undisputed Title. It’s what he lives for, and in three days he has a chance for redemption. What about his match tonight with Billy (here comes the gay panic)? They go a long way back to DX – cheap pop – to a time when he was “Bad Ass Billy Gunn” or “Mr Ass”. Maybe they still call him that now (told you). He warned Billy not to come to the ring, and he got everything he was promised. If he comes to the ring tonight he’s going to get his ass kicked. He’s already ready for Chuck or Rico if they get involved too. Because he’s going on to King Of The Ring, catchphrase, This sucked, slow, plodding, unnecessary.
Elsewhere Nidia is with Jamie Noble, and takes a sniff of him because she is a creepy harlot. She’s excited to see his #1 contenders match later. She’s happy to see him win tonight, win on Sunday, and then Noble will be happy too. Noble says the people in the trailer park will be so jealous, but wonders if Hurricane will even turn up. Nidia says he will, as he will want his mask back, where she has wrapped around her nether regions, because, as stated, she is a creepy harlot. This stuff might have a very strange sexual edge, but at least the creepiness is the point, as opposed to just being flat-out titillation. Anyway.
Jamie Noble vs Billy Kidman (#1 Contendership For The WWE Cruiserweight Championship)
Winner gets Cane this Sunday: I guess the division is big enough now to justify these kinds of matches, just about. Nidia out wearing Hurricane’s cape. Lock-up, Noble out of a waistlock, clubbing shots to the back, then a double counter ends up with Kidman being hip-tossed out of the ring nice. Shots at ringside, back in, Hammerlock DDT into a Fujiwara Armbar, nice. Kidman battling out of it, nails a Flapjack, right hands, Noble ducks a clothesline but not an enziguri, gets two. Nice start.
Kidman with a boot up on a corner charge but then walks into a powerbomb/deep cover for two. Kidman counters a rana into a facebuster, two, Noble with a bit of an awkward looking bridging German, two, to the top, but caught with a drop-kick off a top-rope nothing. Noble prone, Kidman to the top, but Nidia crotches him with the ref distracted. Noble hits a spike DDT off the top, and that’s enough in just over two-and-a-half.
Winner (and #1 contender for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship): Jamie Noble, and not many people are rushed to a title match this fast.
Verdict: Typical cruiserweight match of this time, where they tried to do loads of big spots in too short of a time, so no room for selling.
In the aftermath Nida slips Cane’s mask off, sticks it on Noble and makes out with him, that’s not sanitary. Suddenly the lights go out! When they come back on Gregory Helms is in the ring! Chokeslam to Noble, and he reclaims the mask before walking off. Hey, look at this, an actual cruiserweight feud.
Backstage, Billy and his comrades head to the ring. The Stacker 2 Burn Of The Night is a recap of Billy getting annihilated by Triple H last week. What a burn! That match is up next.
Billy w/Chuck & Rico vs Triple H
Wonder how much of a rub Levesque is willing to give his old DX friend? Big reception for Triple H, who gets ambushed as he finishes his entrance schtick. Shots in the corner, HHH reverses a whip and gets in a few knockdowns, “bad elbow and all”. If he wasn’t selling that against Hogan, Angle or Taker, rest assured he isn’t selling it against Billy. Billy clotheslined out, brawling at ringside, and Billy sent into the ringsteps as some woman cackles in the front row. Billy sent back in, Rico takes an ill-advised shot at Haitch, but when the Game pursues he gets ambushed by Chuck. Where is the ref? Sent back in for a two count. Mounted punches from Gunn, and he hits a swinging powerslam for two.
Big “Triple H” chants as Billy works him over. Kick to the head, more punches in the corner, hard whip into the opposite, more right hands, and Billy even gives us a “Suck It”. That rallies Triple H, but only so far as he runs into a bit of a clunky Tilt-A-Whirl Slam for two. Stomps in the corner, this could do with the comeback now. HHH explodes with a high knee in a charge, then a neckbreaker. Clothesline off a corner whip, another, then a spinebuster, two. Chuck on the apron to distract the ref, gets cleaned out, but the distraction allows Rico to hit that Spinning Heel Kick. He distracts the ref next, Chuck tries a belt shot, Haitch ducks, gets the belt and delivers a shot of his own. Pedigree to Billy and that will be it in just over four-and-a-half.
Winner: By Gawd King, Triple H has overcome the odds again! Wait, that’s not right…
Verdict: Surprisingly boring given the nature of the participants. Billy really doesn’t have much offence in him.
Rico, for some reason, decides to confront Triple H in the ring, and is about to be Pedigreed when Kurt Angle appears and attacks. Exchanging strikes, and Angle clotheslined out, now Undertaker is here, naturally, he lays in some shots, but then HHH gets in that knee drop. Looking for the Pedigree, Angle in the ring with a chair, but the Game gets out of dodge and the shot connects with Taker instead. Triple H retreats, Deadman looks pissed, and Angle runs off.
Recap of what we just saw after the break. Backstage, Vince is with Stacey Keibler, where he has to correct her on his proper title. She’s excited for King Of The Ring because The Rock is going to be there. McMahon agrees that it’ll be great though he “doesn’t know what he’ll be doing” (that means he won’t be wrestling folks). Suddenly Undertaker barges in, complaining about Kurt Angle. Vince tells Taker to calm down, “I AM CALM”, and Mean Mark demands a one-on-one with Angle tonight. McMahon suggests that’s a bad idea with his title match this Sunday, but the Deadman insists. Vince says no one tells him want to do, but he’ll agree anyway, further insisting that Angle “ain’t my boy”. So, heel-vs-heel in the main event?
We turn to the King Of The Ring Tournament, as commentary run down Raw’s Semi-Finalists. Smackdown’s Quarter-Finals are up.
Chris Jericho vs The Big Valbowski (King Of The Ring Quarter-Final #3)
Winner gets Van Dam on Sunday. Recap of Jericho’s beatdown of Edge. Y2J attacks ahead of the bell, strikes in the corner, choke, really fast whip chain that ends with Valbowski hitting a big elbow. Slam, drop-kick, two. Jericho begging off, using the ref as a shield, and these shenanigans allow him to takedown Valbowski into the corner. Elbow drop, two, reverse suplex, cocky cover, two. Chops in the corner, Venis reverses it and lays in some of his own, boot up on a corner charge, goes for a clothesline but Jericho ducks and then hits a reverse DDT for two. Rope choke, looking for a hip attack but nobody home.
Valbowski back with strikes, whip into the corner reversed, Y2J hits a Bulldog but nobody home on a Lionsault. Valbowski with hard flooring chops, shoulder tackle, and counters a rubbish looking drop-kick into a corner slingshot. Spinebuster, two, Sunset Flip countered into a Walls attempt, counter-countered into a roll-up for two. Jericho looks for a flying forearm but nails the ref when Valbowski dodges. Morley hits a Fisherman’s Suplex with a pin, but no ref. Jericho out to grab a chair, looking for a shot but Valbowski kicks it out of his hands. Blue Thunder Bomb, slow count, two. Crowd thought that might be it. Jericho nails a low blow with the ref still not fully required, locks on the Walls and Valbowski taps in just over four-and-a-half.
Winner: (and progressing to the King Of The Ring Semi-Finals): The King Of The World
Verdict: Fast-paced action, Valbowski looked good and should really have been the winner, but was never going to happen I guess.
Jericho celebrates up the ramp. Him and RVD should be good. Cole plugs a look at The Rock’s return as we go to break.
After Cole and Tazz plug the King Of The Ring online stream we get thrown to highlights of The Rock on Raw. It’s actually pretty much the whole thing, bar the entrance. Back on Smackdown, Bob Holly rocks up to Test backstage. He says they both know whats on the line tonight, and wants to know if Test is taking things seriously. He confirms he is, and Holly will see how seriously out in the ring. Test gives him the evil glare. Hmm.
Elsewhere, Kurt is with Vince and Stacey, wanting to know why he’s facing Taker tonight. McMahon explains what happened, and plays it up like Angle vs Taker is the best thing for the both of them. Keibler asks if Angle is scared, Angle confirms that he is not, and decides that he’ll do to Undertaker what he’ll do to Hogan this Sunday, and break his ankle. He storms off, and Vince looks unhappy at the way things have fallen out.
Hardcore Holly vs Test (King Of The Ring Quarter-Final #4)
Winner gets the honour of jobbing to Brock Lesnar. Lock-up, Holly throw back. Lock-up, Holly with strikes, whipped hard into a corner but explodes out with a stiff clothesline. Whip chain ends with a swinging powerslam from Hardcore for two, strikes in the corner, Test reverses a whip into the corner and follows up with a corner clothesline. Repeat of that sequence, Holly trying to rally back with strikes, Test looking for a Pumphandle, Holly out of it and back with a running Bulldog. Clotheslines, Test with a shoulder on a corner charge again, Test to the top, but takes a drop-kick off a top rope nothing, two.
Into the corner again, Holly with elevated punches but is shoved off. Holly dodges the Big Boot, then out of a Full Nelson, roll-up, two. Test now is able to hit the Pumphandle, two, dueling shots, Holly with a kick to the mid-section, comes off the ropes and Test hits the Big Boot OUTTANOWHERE for the pin in just over three.
Winner (and progressing to the King Of Ring Semi-Finals): Test in what has to constitute one of his last significant pushes.
Verdict: Stiff, and could have done with it being a bit longer. Don’t think Holly has many PPV’s left.
Lloyd asks Test what he thinks of Lesnar. Test says the next big thing is going to get the next big boot, and then he’ll be the next big thing. Now that wasn’t great, and Martin looked gassed as hell
Cole and Tazz plug The World as an alternate King Of The Ring venue, yeah right. Backstage, Stacey has assembled some security mooks. McMahon is concerned about tonight’s main event and what the outcomes might be, and wants Undertaker and Angle brought to him. Oh, one of the mooks is Fit Finley. They depart, Vince tells Stacey to meet him at the hotel and of course plants one on her, yuck.
Elsewhere, Lloyd is with Jericho, asking about his match on Sunday. YSJ says it’s three men and the King Of The World. He can’t wait to get a shot at Summerslam. After he beats RVD, he’ll go on to beat Test, who of course is going to beat Lesnar and make it an all-Smackdown, all-Canadian Final. Now isn’t that a unique way of looking at it?
Cole and Tazz run down the King Of The Ring theme tune and then the card, where Tazz refers to Molly Holly as having a “barrel ass”, good Lord. A repeat of the claim that The Rock is going to be there, but he’s listed as just appearing.
Backstage, Vince has Taker and Angle in a room. They jaw for a bit, and McMahon gets between them and insists their match needs to be good, clean competition. He demands a handshake, but neither Undertaker or Angle is agreeable. Once Deadman calls Angle cueball a brawl breaks out, Vince ends up in the middle of it, people end up on the floor and the crowd is actually popping big. Angle runs off, and Vince is left furious. Oh dear. Weird to introduce this sort of angle so late in the build to King Of The Ring.
A plug for the Wrestlemania X8 video game brings us to a recap of what occurred earlier with Angle and Taker. The main event is next.
Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker (non-title)
Angle grabs a chair from ringside before Taker comes out. He’s swinging the chair, preventing Mean Mark from getting in the ring, until Brian Hebner intervenes so we can get started. Angle with shots in the corner, whip to the opposite corner reversed and Undertaker hits a corner clothesline. Looking for Snake Eyes maybe, Angle out of it and suddenly has the Ankle Lock in. Taker to the ropes quick, break, to the outside and Angle starts working over the ankle. Mean Mark back by putting Angle into the barricade, back in, Angle ducks a clothesline, but now Taker able to grab him and hit the Snake Eyes. Angle no selling and lands a German for two. Crowd treating Undertaker as the face here.
Angle rips off a turnbuckle pad, Taker avoids a smash, now with his own shots in the corner, gets a boot up on a charge, but then walks into a belly-to-belly. The straps come down, looking for the Angle Slam (which Tazz calls the Olympic Slam, oops), Taker out of it to a hit a clothesline. Elbow drop but nobody home, shots in the corner, Angle whipped into the exposed corner, clothesline, Angle prone over the apron and Undertaker hits his leg-drop to a big pop. Shots at ringside, Angle picked up and sent head first into the ringpost. Cole says Angle is “writhing in pain”, and Tazz has to ask what “writhing” means. Back in, Taker with a big boot, signalling for the chokeslam, but Angle counters into a roll-up, then a quick transition into an Ankle Lock, Very cool. Undertaker in it for a while, pulled back from the ropes, selling like crazy, but eventually able to counter out of it to another big pop. Now Taker hits the chokeslam, but his ankle is clearly hurting. Suddenly Triple H is here, Taker chases him off the apron, Angle gets a roll-up and that’s it in just under six-and-a-half.
Winner: Kurt Angle, who won’t get many against The Undertaker.
Verdict: It was fine, I think it’s clear they will soon be transitioning Taker back to face, this was sort of a trial run.
Taker and Triple H brawl at ringside, now Hogan is in the ring, and he attacks a celebrating Angle. Hogan slaps on an Ankle Lock, and Angle taps out. Taker back in the ring to give Hogan a big boot, then a chokeslam, and this time Hogan isn’t gassed so he’s able to get some height. Triple H in to nail a Pedigree on Undertaker, his music hits immediately, and he celebrates as time runs out. Man this was a messy ending.
A quick look at the King Of The Ring card:
Jericho/Van Dam – I know who wins the tournament but not both finalists. I would assume for a proper face/heel dynamic it should be Van Dam here. Likely to be the best match in the card anyway.
Lesnar/Test – Potential for a proper hossfight here, but the only question is how long it will last.
Hurricane/Noble – It seems like they are really hot-shotting Noble to the title, so can only see one winner here. Should be good either way.
Guerrero/Flair – If Ric wins, I riot. He’s a million miles away from Eddie’s league, and Guerrero needs the win after coming out of the wrong side of the Van Dam feud. But they’ll probably want to mark Flair’s transition from lame authority figure to lame wrestler with a win.
Stratus/Holly – I’ll never be happier to see a heel win if Molly pulls it off, and I do think she will. Stratus has honestly been a little dull as Champion and is better chasing it anyway.
Hogan/Angle – Unfortunately I think Hogan is due a win after dropping the top belt so quickly, and Angle might just be the sacrificial lamb. It’ll be a travesty if it does happen.
King Of The Ring Final – Knowing one half of it, regardless of who the other is this could be quite decent.
Undertaker/Triple H – Another where I know the winner, and hopeful these two can pull off something a bit better than their Insurrextion match a few months ago.
Not appearing on Sunday: The European, IC, Tag Team or Hardcore Titles and no blow-off or continuation for the ready made Booker T/nWo feud beyond a backstage segment. In the first instance they need to use the belts or lose them, and in the second, well, who knows what they are thinking.
As for tonight…
Best Match: I guess Valbowski/Jericho, they worked well together and could potentially carry an actual feud.
Best Wrestler: I’ll say The Undertaker this week, he made heel-vs-heel work and demonstrated some great selling in the main event.
Worst Match: Rikishi/Christian was really half-assed, and solidified Kish’s place as a mid-card nothing on this roster.
Worst Wrestler: Billy had a high profile match and spent half of it on unimpressive strikes.
Overall Verdict: Not terrible as go home shows go, but wouldn’t say this made me hugely excited for King Of The Ring. Mostly humdrum matches and repeats of what we have seen already. Onto the last PPV edition of KOTR.
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