NFB Watches Wrestling #92: Smackdown (04/07/2002)

Happy Freedom Day everyone! It’s the 4th July 2002 (filmed on the 2nd, oops) and we’re in Fleet Centre of Boston, Massachusetts for episode #151 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: The Undertaker defends the Undisputed Championship against Kurt Angle! And cheers to the thumbnail of this episode spoiling a huge part of the show!

New Attitude splash, and straight into a recap of the Edge/Jericho interactions as of late, this one with lots of weird electronica accompaniment. Hey, it’s probably the best feud they have going at the moment. They make sure to emphasise Edge and Hogan’s BFF vibe at the end. Hmm.

“Beautiful People”, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Boston. Cole says they are in “the birthplace of the American Revolution”, which is highly debatable. Tonight Billy & Chuck defend the Tag Team Titles against Edge and Hulk Hogan, which sets new levels for random teams immediately getting championship opportunities. Plus the main event, which should be good.

Lillian Garcia is introduced to sing “America The Beautiful” because it is the 4th of July, no really, it is, look at all the flags. She gives her usual good rendition, but I’ll admit I am delighted when Lance Storm interrupts her, which gets nuclear heat. It’s the Canadian Best Friends, Storm, Christian and Test. They demand Garcia leave the ring, as the “USA” chants start in earnest. Christian on the mike, to ask the crowd a question: do they even know why they are celebrating? The American youth are so ignorant, they probably think the 4th of July is the day Will Smith defeated a bunch of aliens. But Lance Storm will tell you what really happened: America was founded as a British colony, and declared independence in 1776, turning its back on Britain. “That’s gratitude for ya”, amazing.

But America couldn’t contain its aggression, and soon unleashed its hostilities on the rest of the world. Storm blames World War One, World War Two and the Korean War on the US. “Asshole” chants, huge ones. What right did the US have to be in Vietnam (when did Storm turn face?)? This crowd doesn’t like Storm telling the truth, and doesn’t want to hear what the rest of the world has to say, which just proves American hypocrisy. The First Amendment grants freedom of speech, which gets “You Suck” chants, awesome, but Americans don’t want to hear what other countries have to say. Test’s turn, he says the rest of the world hates America, and he and his buddies hate America. So, for America’s birthday, all three proudly announce “America Sucks!”. That should be their faction name. Out comes Rikishi, America’s champion, for our first match.

Rikishi vs Lance Storm w/Christian & Test

Kish on the attack, strikes, back body-drop then Storm clotheslined out. Tazz suggests that if the Canadian’s don’t like this country they can “get the F out”, nice to see WWE encouraging that kind of sentiment. Storm with strikes on the outside, back in, but clotheslined off a springboard nothing. Hard corner whips then what looks like a standing spinebuster. Storm set-up in the corner but dodges a hip attack to hit a side kick for two. Riksihi back with strikes, hard elbow, clothesline, then a drop off another bad idea Sunset Flip attempt. Christian and Test onto the apron but both cleared out. Rikishi calling for the Banzai Drop, Storm dragged into position, but as Christian distracts the ref Test hits an impressive looking Big Boot to Kish on the top for Storm to get the pin in just under two-and-a-half.

Winner: Oh Canada

Verdict: Perfectly acceptable short match, and it can’t be denied how much heat this trio is getting. Poor Kish though, rapidly becoming an afterthought.

Backstage, The Undertaker arrives. After the break we get a video package highlighting the Angle/Cena encounter from last week. Dramatic music doesn’t really make it better, it was fine as it was. Backstage, Stacey Keibler arrives at the locker room and asks Mark Henry if John Cena is around. Why was Henry needed for this? When Cena shows up Stacey informs him that Mr McMahon wants a word. Cena heads in that direction, as Keibler looks on with approval. So, is her succubus gimmick finding an new target then?

Reverend D-Von & Deacon Batista vs Randy Orton & The Big Valbowski

“Batista is a freak, period” says Tazz as the religious duo get a sizable amount of boos. Orton with a new tag partner after last week did not go so good, but I suspect this week won’t be much better. Valbowski and Batista – being pronounced “Bao-tista” tonight – to start. Shots from Venis, knockdown attempt, kicks, all ineffective. A stiff Batista clothesline is very effective though. Tag to D-Von, and a downbeat commences. Twisting shoulder block, Valbowski gets a boot up on a corner charge and now able to get in some strikes, a Scoop Slam, knee-drop, two. Orton in, ducks a clothesline, back with one of his own, drop-kick, two. A clumsy spot sees Orton whiff a corner whip reversal, then take an Avalanche Neckbreaker where he doesn’t fall right, oops.

The Reverend works Orton over in the corner, forearm, Orton with a limp leg-up on a corner charge then hits a Bulldog off the top. Hot tag to Valbowski, he knocks D-Von about, stiff clothesline, shoulder-charge, and counters a sleeper into a spin-out powerbomb, Batista breaks up the pin. Orton in, swinging powerslam, two, D-Von gets a bling tag, Orton runs into Batista, and while he’s able to dump the Reverend out he soon takes a Fireman’s Carry Roll from Batista. Things break down, Batista decapitates Venis with a huge clothesline, dodges a top-rope crossbody from Orton, Spinebuster and that’s it in just under five.

Winners: The God Squad

Verdict: If I was D-Von I’d be worried, his muscle is not really a bland goon and is being booked to upstage him constantly.

No time for the aftermath as we cut straight backstage where Jericho is with Vince. He’s complaining about what happened to him last week. McMahon recognises that Y2J is obsessed (awkward moment where Jericho mishears this as “upset”, which seemed like a flub, weird as this isn’t live) and declares that Jericho will get a one-on-one match with Edge at Vengeance. Yes, please. Enter John Cena. Vince shakes his hand as Jericho glares. The Boss tells Cena how impressed he was with him last week, and a very mild pop when Cena says he’s from the Boston area. Vince introduces Big Match John to Jericho, but the King Of The World is unimpressed. “I am the Undisputed Champion…the very first Undisputed Champion” (something is off here) and he demands respect. He mocks Cena’s tights and haircut, and gets a thunderous slap in response, that lays Jericho out on the floor. Cut to break. Awesome, Cena really reared back with that one.

After the break we get a replay of what we just saw, then the aftermath. A livid Jericho agrees to the Edge match, but wants Cena tonight. McMahon assents.

Elsewhere, Kurt Angle is with Lloyd. Angle says he’s a man of action, and the poster-boy for RA. Last week, it took him a few minutes longer than it should have for him to beat John Cena, but that was only because he had the flu. But tonight he feels better than ever, and will beat The Undertaker. Cut to highlights of Angle pinning Taker two weeks ago, then submitting Hogan a few days later, then punking Taker again last week. What better night than the 4th July (it’s the 2nd) for Angle to become Champion? He’s red, white and blue through and through, and America doesn’t need a “tattoo-laden” guy like Undertaker representing them. It’s true, and we will see.

Elsewhere elsewhere, Billy & Chuck are in their dressing room. Billy proposes they have their own Independence Day picnic right here, and of course it is hot dogs and buns, yikes. Rico arrives, and is disgusted at their eating behavior. They need to be serious, as they are facing their biggest threat yet to the title. Exeunt. The gay panic vibe is strong tonight.

Time for “The People’s Moment”, which is The Rock humiliating a cameraman ahead of the Royal Rumble last January. Yeah. More gay panic in this segment, is this going to be the theme for the night?

Billy & Chuck (c) w/Rico vs Edge & Hollywood Hulk Hogan (WWE Tag Team Championships)

I sense a title change as the crowd explodes for the challengers and Hogan is out waving Ol’ Glory to the strains of “Real American”. Hilariously this match is brought to you by a Rogaine knock-off, K19: The Widowmaker (61% on RT) and Taco Bell. The brand synergy has never been more off. Huge “Hogan” chants as we start with Chuck and the Hulkster. Lock-up, Chuck thrown back. Lock-up, Chuck gets in some strikes, gets a bit too cocky and walks into a big right. Knockdown, elbow drops and Billy in. “An argument could be made that Billy is the greatest tag team wrestler of all time”, and damn is that is a debatable assertion. Being Road Dogg’s hot tag for a few years doesn’t cut it on that score.

Hogan and Edge take turns hitting Billy before Edge comes in for real. Edge avoids a back body-drop, back slam, elevated punches in the corner, avoids the ambush from Chuck with an axe-handle but then floored by Billy. Chuck in legally, corner spears, beatdown offence. Edge rallying back, strikes, chops but then Chuck with a double underhook suplex OUTTANOWHERE. Billy in, rope choke, Chuck getting in a few cheap shots with the ref distracted, Billy hits a suplex, two. Chuck in, shots, Scoop Slam, elbow drop and we actually have “We Want Hogan” chants, those are new.

Edge trying a comeback, but thrown out of the ring on a dodged charge. Billy holding Edge for Rico to hit a superkick, but a duck means Billy eats it instead. No-selling the effects, Billy back quick to hit a modified Bulldog from the apron onto the ringsteps, now that could have been a brutal looking spot with a better camera angle. Back in, the beatdown continues with Billy legal, rest-hold for a bit, Edge battling out of it but can’t make it for a tag, kicking out of a roll-up at two. Chuck in, Edge out of a powerslam and hits his own modified facebuster. Both men down. Hot tag to Hogan, and the crowd is alive in Boston.

Hogan hulking up the moment he is in he ring, shots to Billy, shots to Chuck, double headbutt, big boot to Billy, but Chuck intercepts the Atomic Leg-Drop with what looks like a very whiffed superkick. Billy gets two off of that, Hogan back quick with a double clothesline, tag to Edge, to the top and a double clothesline of the flying variety follows. Edge cleaning house, Edge-A-Cution to Chuck, but Rico grabs a leg to prevent the Spear to Billy. Hogan attacks Rico and crotches him on the barricade. In the ring, Billy looking for the Famouser, Edge intercepts him with a Spear OUTTANOWHERE but Chuck breaks up the pin. He’s cleaned out, double big boot from the faces to Billy, then Edge hits an Atomic Leg-Drop and then Hogan does the same and Edge gets the pin in just over nine.

Winners (and new WWE Tag Team Champions): What will we call them, NAFTA?

Verdict: It was fine, Edge and the heels did all the heavy lifting, but it was Hogan who was the star from start to finish. This division needs some freshening up and I don’t think a date-inspired title change is really the way to do it. I imagine this is going to be a short reign.

Cole tells us that this is Hogan’s first Tag Team Title reign and I had to check to make sure that was right. The Mega Powers were never tag champs, isn’t that weird? Of course Edge’s music gets cut off so “Real American” can play us out. Don’t forget who the people came to see, brother.

Cole hypes a, sigh, Bra and Panties match between Keibler and Wilson later. Nice of the Network to keep the bathroom breaks in. This is followed by a promo for Raw Magazine that naturally is about swimsuit pictures of Wilson, with an announcer struggling to not audibly masturbate.

Chris Jericho vs John Cena

Recap of what went down earlier, and I could watch that smack all day. I love Cena’s crazy generic theme music, it’s straight-up CAW-like. Jericho on the attack from the off, strikes, chops, elbow knock-down, then a slap. Cena back with a takedown, mounted punches, then a super bad looking spot where it looks like Cena pulls out of a clothesline to the outside, but too late to adjust, so he just sort of makes contact then does a whip instead, very sloppy.

Y2J takes a break on the outside, Cena follows, some ringside brawling then back in. Cena dodges a drop-kick, catapult into the corner, roll-up, two. Jericho flees to ringside again, Cena follows again and walks into a clothesline. Cena dropped onto the announce table, back in, kicks to the side, rope choke, hip attack. Cena trying to rally back, walks into a boot on a corner charge, Jericho to the second rope but eats a drop-kick off a second rope nothing. Clothesline, another, then a flying forearm. Swinging powerslam, the most popular move in wrestling it seems, gets two for Cena. Corner splash from Big Match John, Bulldog, two. Sunset Flip, Jericho counters, looking for the Walls, Cena counters into a small package for two.

Jericho with a thumb to the eye, chops in the corner, Jericho with a kip-up dodge out of the corner but then Cena nails a DDT for a near fall. Fast pace to this one. Jericho dodges the next corner splash, lands a Bulldog, but nobody home on the Lionsault. Cena with a spinebuster, two, and the crowd is getting into this one now. Roll-up gets two, reverse suplex, Y2J lands on his feet, and hits a reverse neckbreaker that Tazz calls the “Flashback” – what, another finisher? – then uses the ropes to get the three in just over five.

Winner: The Millionaire’s Club. I mean, the veteran.

Verdict: Like the Angle match last week, this was a fun, pacy encounter where Cena looked great despite one really bad spot. But it was almost a replication of the Angle match, and they need to give Cena a win as soon as possible so he isn’t just seen as a jobber to the stars.

Jericho offers a hand, Cena takes it, but then Jericho attacks again. Cena able to hold his own though, and hits the first instance of that big elevated spinning slam that would one day by #3 in his Five Moves Of Doom. Jericho flees to the outside and Cena stands tall. OK, I guess that’s something.

Rey Mysterio is coming. Soon I hope. Also coming soon is The Rock, and we get another “People’s Moment”. It’s The Rock forcing Vince to kiss Rikishi’s ass, but of course. Pass.

Commentary outlines that Triple H is due back from surgery in a few weeks, then throws to highlights of Shawn Michaels’ claim that HHH will be joining the nWo imminently. “Shawn Michaels has been known to tell some tall tales” says Cole, and that’s a wild dangerous understatement. Tazz thinks the claim is legit. I do not.

But enough about actual storylines, how about Divas Undressed? Highlights of the “event”, which Torrie Wilson “won”. Stacey Keibler was unimpressed, and claimed Wilson only won because she’s sleeping with one of the judges. Quick shot of Maven here, just to remind us of that plotline and that he exists. It’s a fair point from Keibler really, though of course Wilson counters that Stacey is sleeping with the boss. Cat fight, Jerry Lawler sings a knockoff pageant song to orchestral music and this disaster is brought to a close, for a few minutes anyway.

“Get The F Out” and then “Earlier Today” we see Jamie Noble and Nidia in their trailer park. He shows her his latest gift to her: a brand new trailer, with an American flag and all, to go with the truck he bought her earlier. Between the Title and some inheritance money from his “old hag” of an Aunt, he can easily afford it. The place even comes with running water! This is great because Noble and Nidia are hicks, you see. Oh, and it comes with a giant bed. Nidia suggests they make use of it right now. Exeunt. In case you were wondering, this segment is in place of any cruiserweight contest tonight.

Torrie Wilson vs Stacey Keibler (Bra And Panties)

OK, let’s not belabour this. Heel Stacey out in an American flag, which seems silly. Some notable spots here include Keibler falling out of the ring ragdoll style from a Wilson kick, then nailing a drop toe-hold, before her and Wilson trade pinning predicaments for some reason. I get a sense that these two wanted to do some actual wrestling as a surprise, and I don’t begrudge them the effort, but the wolf-whistles that rain down as Cole and Tazz audibly salivate show you that they could be Flair/Steamboat in terms of wrestling quality and it wouldn’t matter. Anyway, Wilson gets the clothes removed first to win in just over two-and-a-half.

Winner: Torrie Wilson, whatever.

Verdict: Honestly though, that fall out of the ring looked a tad dicey.

Wilson removes her clothes after the bell anyway, because of course she does. Moving right along.

We get a video recap of Monday’s ladder match, which does a good job of playing up Undertaker’s offence as a relentless assault when in reality it was much slower. Hardy’s final chair shot means a hell of a lot less when you realise how quick Taker got up from it.

The Champ is with Lloyd. He says Taker seemed upset when Vince said his match with Rock at Vengeance would take place whether he was Champion or not, and Undertaker responds with a deadpan “You know Lloyd, you are a very observant person”. He is upset at the lack of confidence in him, but admits he is preoccupied by the return of The Rock next week. Well, The Rock is going to get a soup bone down his throat. Now Angle thinks he’d be a better representative for America. Well, Undertaker is an American too, and asks Lloyd if he’d rather have someone like Angle or Undertaker in a fox-hole with him. If I was Lloyd I’d be asking why those are my only choices. Things get suddenly cut off here, which is odd. No overt signs of a face turn I suppose, but it is coming.

Promo for “Triple H – The Game”, some kind of documentary about HHH for home video. It mentions the Kliq by name, breaking kayfabe! I wonder if it’s on the Network…

Another “People’s Moment”, and it’s The Rock laying Undertaker out at King Of The Ring. He returns next week, if you didn’t know. Time for the main event.

The Undertaker (c) vs Kurt Angle (WWE Undisputed Championship)

Some mild “Angle Sucks” chants to start, don’t think the crowd is buying the chance of a change here. Lock-up, Angle flung back. Lock-up, Taker with a headlock, into a shoulder charge and Angle rolls out of the ring for a break. Back in, lock-up, another shoulder charge and Angle starting to look a little frustrated. Able to get into a takedown into a front headlock, then a pin for two. Angle flees the ring in the aftermath as Taker gives him the death glare, to boos. Can’t get away with much more of this.

Back in, lock-up, wristlock from Undertaker, Angle back with a drop toe-hold, armdrags, but then eats a big boot and ends up, you guessed it, outside the ring. Slowly back in, then a quick takedown. Taker back with a clothesline for two, corner clothesline, hard corner whip, Snake Eyes, another big boot, two. Looking for a chokeslam, but Angle counters into a German. Reverse suplex, slow cover, two. Beatdown in the corner, foot choke, shots. Taker back with some of his own after a minute, shoulder tackle, right hands, DDT, two. Looking for a Tombstone maybe, Angle battles out, Taker gets him up for it again, crowd popping, but then Angle counters into the Ankle Lock! He synches it in good, but Mean Mark able to spin Angle out of it eventually.

Angle back straight away with the Angle Slam, but Taker gets a foot on the ropes at two. The straps come down, and the Ankle Lock gets put on again. Undertaker now selling this very well it has to be said, but the crowd dying a bit after coming to life briefly. Eventually counters out, and nails a chokeslam OUTTANOWHERE, but his ankle is hurting so much it’s only a slow cover for two. Signalling for The Last Ride, but Angle counters it into a triangle choke on Undertaker’s shoulders, looked really weird until they hit the floor and Angle got a hold of the arm as well. Still a cool idea though, the kind of thing that’s commonplace enough nowadays as a powerbomb counter but was really rare in 2002. Taker standing out of it, Angle’s shoulders are on the mat, and the ref counts the three just as Undertaker taps in just under ten-and-a-half.

Winner: “The winner of this match is…” followed by silence. The ref doesn’t know who won.

Verdict: It was fine, but was in too much of a time-killing mood for too much of it. The finish was received poorly, but at least indicates the chance that Angle could make the Vengeance match a bit more exciting.

Angle insists he’s the winner, Undertaker disagrees and we go to break. After, some refs are arguing in the ring as the crowd chants “Bullshit”. A replay shows Angle’s right shoulder is actually just about up, also that the three is counted before Undertaker starts tapping, but lets not let that get in the way of the story. We get the spot where different refs raise hands, and Chioda finally decides to declare it a draw. Undertaker retains. He celebrates and Angle attacks. Ankle Lock put on for a bit before the refs drag him off. He departs and the two men stare each other down from the ramp as time expires. “The Undisputed Title…is in dispute!”, thanks Tazz.

Best Match: I guess the Tag Title contest, despite Hogan’s terrible work rate the other three carried it and the crowd was hot.

Best Wrestler: Angle, he worked hard to look like the real deal and sold the finish, or non-finish, of the main event perfectly.

Worst Match: If Bra And Panties is on the card, then it will be Bra And Panties.

Worst Wrestler: So I just come in for a few minutes at the end, right brother?

Overall Verdict: Another decent show, a few good matches, some more storyline evolution, a sense of direction for a few more things ahead of Vengeance, this is all acceptable fare.

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 #92: Smackdown (04/07/2002)

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

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