Can we get more than one match announced for Vengeance? It’s the 11th July 2002 (filmed on the 9th) and we’re in the Boardwalk Hall of Atlantic City, New Jersey for episode #152 of WWE Smackdown: Night Of Tag Matches! Your main event tonight: The Undertaker and John Cena take on Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle!
New Attitude Splash, then “CONTROVERSY” in big flashing blue letters. Recap of last weeks main event mixed in with McMahon’s intro to Raw. We don’t get Tazz’ money line this time though.
“Beautiful People”, pyro, and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Atlantic City. The main event is plugged, and also The Rock is here. But first…
Edge & Hollywood Hulk Hogan (c) vs Billy & Chuck w/Rico (WWE Tag Team Championship)
I did predict a short reign for these two, but maybe not this short. Recap of the title win last week, let’s see how much huffing and puffing Hogan is willing to do this time. Edge and Chuck to start. Chuck with strikes, Edge back with a flying forearm, then a spinning heel kick. Billy in only to get a right hand from Hogan and then sent out. Edge with rights, but then Billy back in to nail a Tilt-A-Whirl. Tag rules, what tag rules?
Huge “Hogan” chants already as the beatdown of Edge commences. Belly-to-belly throw gets two, Billy in, stomps, Chuck back in, strikes, Scoop Slam, elbow drop, two. Edge dumped out so Billy can set him up for a Rico spinning heel kick as the ref is distracted inside. Back in, two count, hard right and into a resthold. Edge fighting out, eats a big elbow, more rights, but then back with the Edge-A-Cution, which I notice is never named anymore. Chuck prevents a tag, tags in Billy but then Edge nails his modified facebuster.
Hot tag to Hogan, and the crowd explodes. Billy floored repeatedly, then Chuck, big boot sends him out, big boot to Billy, looking to drop the leg but Rico grabs him from ringside. Rico dragged onto the apron, so Edge can Spear him to the outside, mental spot. Billy up to hit the Famouser on Hogan, and fair play to him on getting the needed height because Hogan barely dipped his head for it. Hogan kicks out of course, because he isn’t laying down for a mid-card finisher. Hulking up, rights, big boot, Edge takes Chuck out with a Spear, Atomic Leg-Drop and that will be all in just under six-and-a-half.
Winners: (and still WWE Tag Team Champions): The Bald Edgeheads.
Verdict: Well, ask the crowd and they’ll call it a five star classic. It was alright, just last week done over, only Hogan was involved even less.
Backstage, The Undertaker waits in the loading bay when John Cena walks up. “Excuse me, Undertaker?” he says, like he’s been called to the Principals office. Taker asks if he’s ever meet The Rock, and imparts some wisdom: he’s a punk, and he’s going to treat him like a punk. Cena says he’s looking forward to their team up tonight. But of course Mean Mark doesn’t give a damn, he’s focused on kicking The Rock’s ass, and Cena should leave before he gets his kicked. Man, it’s so weird seeing these two like this.
We’re down the road from Trump Plaza, which is the perfect bit of trivia to segway into Torrie Wilson’s Raw Magazine cover. Earlier today she did a photo shoot on the beach when Molly Holly turns up. If anyone should be shot, it should be the WWE Womens Champion, something Holly achieved with her brain and brawn. Just because Wilson won a Golden Thong award, it doesn’t make her special (preach!). If Wilson wants to be a real champion, she can take Holly on tonight for the title. Wilson is happy with this, and even has a special pose for Holly which involves taking off her bikini. Holly walks off outraged. I know who I think is the face here.
Elsewhere, Undertaker continues to wait, and is accosted by Fit Finley and two other mooks. They’re trying to talk Taker down, when a limo turns up. But it’s not The Rock, it’s Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle. Angle brings up Taker’s tapping out, which the Deadman refutes. “Don’t you know the rules?” says Y2J, who suggests Undertaker become “Undertapper”. Undertaker attacks at that, and we get a pull-apart brawl, with Vince McMahon showing up to help out.
After the break, Undertaker stalks the halls and dressing room pissed off, and scares off some midcarders to get one-on-one with Cena. Annoyed that Cena wasn’t around for the previous brawl, he wants to know if Cena has his back, Cena assents and this is like some whacky sitcom misunderstanding. Not sure we really needed this, it made Taker look stupid.
Molly Holly (c) vs Torrie Wilson (WWE Womens Championship)
How much are they expecting from Wilson here? Cole plugs a documentary coming up, “Whatever happened to Superfly Snucka?” Oh boy you don’t want to answer that question. Pushing and shoving, Torrie with a slap, then a Scoop Slam, then another. Cole announces that Smackdown is the #1 show for the young male demographic, “I wonder why?” as Torrie puts in a kick. Holly back with a drop toe-hold onto the bottom rope, is that not a very dangerous spot? Backbreaker, no-one home on an elbow drop, and Wilson scores with a Catapult into the corner. Swinging neckbreaker, two, Holly back with a knee to the mid-section then a Northern Lights Suplex with a bridge for two. See, this is why she’s been booked to be Champ, why is Wilson here?
Holly looking for the handstand elbow, Wilson gets a boot up, then back with some chops and strikes. Going for some elevated punches in the corner, and Holly counters into a powerbomb. She adds some kind of leg-lock transitioning into surfboard pin – looked amazing actually – and that’s it in under two-and-a-half.
Winner (and still WWE Women’s Champion): The one who could wrestle.
Verdict: I mean, I don’t mean to be harsh on Wilson but she’s just not a wrestler. She has no business in this kind of match.
The Rock arrives backstage for the cheapest of pops.
Reverend D-Von & Deacon Batista vs Mark Henry & Randy Orton
I’ll admit I am slightly amused by the nature of this story, which is basically Orton finding a new tag partner to be fed to Batista every week. Cole says that he’s heard from the locker room that everyone is in awe of Batista. Tazz bites back that Cole isn’t allowed in the locker room, nice. “Earlier tonight”, Orton pitches Henry on being his tag partner, claiming the World’s Strongest Man won’t let him down. Henry just says Orton needs to hold up his end. What? What has Orton promised?
D-Von and Orton to start, Orton gets distracted by Batista and gets mugged. Chops, Orton back with a running forearm, some drop-kicks, shot to the Deacon, who drops Orton from the top rope when he goes for some elevated punches. Orton dumped to the outside, but straight back in so that was pointless, and in comes Batista. Foot choke in the corner, powerslam, but nobody home on a weird looking standing Senton, that’s new for Big Dave. Batista avoids a corner boot on a charge, but goes shoulder first into the ringpost on another as Randy dodges. In comes Henry and D-Von, the Reverend chucked around, back body-drop with huge air, Batista taken out, swinging powerslam to D-Von, and Henry/Orton combine to send Batista out. Corner splash to D-Von, then Orton adds that big leap crossbody from the top. Huge air, looks very cool.
D-Von knocked about a bit more, blind tag to Batista, but Henry double clotheslines both heels down. Batista able to lift Henry up for a pop, forward roll where it was obvious Henry was doing a good bit of the work, but only two. Henry hits a big boot, it only serves to piss Batista off, and he nails his Spinebuster for the win in just over four.
Winners: The Reverend and the Deacon, which is their third straight tag win. Title shot?
Verdict: Poor Henry, to be fed to Dave like this. Match was fine, and they are doing good work building Batista up.
Backstage, the Tag Champs plan a night out gambling as Edge fawns over Hogan. Suddenly The Rock is here, just as Hogan waxes lyrically about his match with him at Wrestlemania 18. The Rock disagrees with Hogan’s remembrance of things at that event, but congratulates the two on winning the tag belts. Rocky is down to go gambling with them, as long as Edge doesn’t bring any Canadian money. But first, he needs to go to the ring to take care of some business. After he leaves Hogan insists he can beat Rock only for Rocky to sneak back up behind him, do a bad impression, as Edge insists “Mr Nanny totally smoked The Scorpion King“. Man, this was so childish, even for The Rock.
The Tower Of Power by JVC brings us highlights of Draft Day, and The Rock’s #1 selection. After the break, out comes the man himself. Expected rapturous reception and big “Rocky” chants. At last, the geology formation has returned to Atlantic City. The Rock is back on his show. Two Sundays from now he’s going to have his shot at the title, and The Undertaker has no idea of the problems he’s going to have. He has one thing to say, and it echoes in eternity (alright Maximus): “Just Bring It”.
But it isn’t the Deadman who comes out, it’s Kurt Angle. He enters the ring and suggests that Rock’s absence has messed up his sense of reality. It isn’t Undertaker he has to worry about at Vengeance, it’s him. The “what” chants start in earnest. Angle has been on quite a roll lately, making Hogan tap and then doing the same to Taker. At Vengeance, it will be his pleasure to make Rock’s candy-ass tap as well. Incredible moment where Angle addresses some guy at ringside and suggests that if “Puff Daddy wants some”, he’s down, “and I can talk jive too brother”. Wow. Turns out it was Busta Rhymes, who Rock invited into the ring for some plugging, but it’s left out of the Network version for whatever reason.
Rock’s response to is inquire who Angle is. He reminds Rock of someone, and he does look like Kurt Angle, but something’s different: it’s not his “Calvin Klein donkeynuts cologne”, or the “A” on his outfit (which gets “Asshole” chants), but then The Rock figures it out: “Somebody got a haircut”. Man, how long are they going to focus on this? Angle retorts that Rock is yesterday’s news. Angle is the new #1 man round here, and Smackdown is now the Kurt Angle show (is he wrong?). Rock thinks he’s so great because he won a Teen Choice Award? Teens love Angle! Does Rock have any idea how much Angle’s autograph goes for? Rock’s suggests it might go for “One million dollars” in a Dr Evil voice, and remember when Austin Powers was the cultural touchstone of the day?
Angle says Rock is lucky he already has a match tonight, but he wants The Rock one-on-one next week. He knows The Rock can sing, but next week he is going to make him tap. The Rock removes his sunglasses, and accepts the challenge. But there’s something else The Rock wants to bring up: the people don’t want to see The Rock whup Angle’s ass next week, they want to see something tonight. Rock attacks, clothesline, and then his puts in the Ankle-Lock! Angle taps out immediately, and suddenly Undertaker is here! Big boot to Rock, chokeslam to Angle, chokeslam to Rock! Good to be reminded that the Champion is in the feud too, and good that he gets to stand tall here.
After the break replays of what we just saw because 82 minutes is a lot of time to fill I guess. Commentary plugs “Downfall” by Trust Company as Vengeance’s theme song, and it is pretty much what you would expect. They hype that PPV’s main event, before we get thrown to highlights of the Canadian Best Friends interrupting the American celebration and running down the good ol’ US of A last week. When we’re back the trio is already on their way to the ring for the next match.
Test w/Lance Storm & Christian vs Rikishi
Lance Storm and Christian join commentary as they have a “keen interest” in this match-up. Cole briefly brings up the shenanigans last week, but gets interrupted by Rikishi leaving the ring to chase after a departing Test so they can brawl at ringside. Test into the steps then in for the start of the match proper. Tazz complains that the anti-Americans still love American paychecks, but Christian, quite rightly really, points out that they don’t really have much choice what with “corrupt American corporations” that have ruined the world economy. Test knocks Rikishi down, goes for that dumb-as-hell Sunset Flip attempt, Kish drops on him, belly-to-belly, hip attack into the corner. Test is prone but Christian jumps onto the apron to distract the ref so Storm can jump in, only for Mr Boring to eat a superkick of his own. Still, this distraction allows Test to get in to just about hit a Pumphandle Slam, where it looked like he was about to fall backwards so he smartly twists to land it instead.
Kish back with a Savate Kick, clears Christian off the apron, looking for the Banzai Drop but Test has the knees up. Rikishi back with a Samoan Drop and to my surprise that’s it in just under two.
Winner: Rikishi, and I’m not sure what to make of pinning a man with a Samoan Drop.
Verdict: A bit messy with four guys involved, and Test falling to a signature was stupid.
Cole even says that Rikishi has stolen this one, as the Canadian Best Friends attack. Rikishi fights them off a bit before Test hits the Big Boot. Beatdown continues, but here’s Edge! And Hogan! Spear to Christian, big boot to Storm, big boot to Test, double big boot to Christian. The heels scarper as the faces stand tall. Six man tag next week then?
Promo for Vengeance that heavily plays up The Rock’s involvement. I have a feeling who the Champion might be coming out of it. When we’re back we’re with Vince McMahon and Stacey Keibler in his office, as they are embracing. He openly talks about taking off Keibler’s dress, ugh, when Jericho walks in to complain about what just happened to the anti-Americans. Jericho suggests that the Tag Champs be forced to face the CBF at Vengeance, but McMahon says this can only happen if Y2J backs out of his match with Edge. McMahon says he’ll take care of Jericho, and Jericho agrees. He goes back to pawing at Stacey, ugh, ugh, ugh. So, we’ve lost one match I want to see for a match that includes Hulk Hogan? And the match you’re losing had the heat from Jericho’s assault on Edge’s arm? Why are you doing this to me oh Lord? And what’s Jericho going to be doing on that show then? At least the Anti-Americans are a plot in progress. Still just three matches announced for Vengeance so far. Could this be leading to an Edge heel turn maybe? Then he could join the CBF?
“Earlier today” Jamie Noble and Nidia are at a fancy hotel eating like trailer trash because that’s what they are. Pan out from their canoodling, and Tajiri is there too. Nidia frenches both men in a fashion that makes me slightly sick. Noble encourages Tajiri to eat up ahead of their tag match with the other half of the cruiserweight division tonight. As long as Noble has the strap it means he’s made it and can live this lavish lifestyle, which seems like a strange thing to say to a guy who clearly wants the belt too. He goes back to sticking his tongue down Nidia’s mouth, Tajiri tries to join in and two segments like this in a row is difficult to stomach.
Subway presents Vengeance. Eat fresh! Was that Jared guy their spokesman at the time? Commentary uses this to throw us to highlights of the nWo’s ultimatum to Triple H from Raw. They use highlights of the nWo giving a bunch of signature moves to Raw’s midcard to try and big up a threat. Reminder that we won’t be seeing them again. Cole confirms that Nash has torn his quad (again) and has gone through surgery already. Updates to follow.
Jamie Noble & Tajiri w/Nidia vs The Hurricane & Billy Kidman
Kidman really is the odd man out here, lacking any kind of graspable gimmick in comparison to everyone else in the ring. Kidman and Noble to start, Noble clears Cane off the apron, then takes a rana. Blind tag gets Helms in and he lands an assisted powerbomb off a pop-up from Kidman, very cool. Strikes, takedown, Shining Wizard, two with Tajiri breaking it up. Some whip chains, and Noble lands an overhead pumphandle, very nice. Heeljiri in, Hurricane put in the Tree of Woe, and Tajiri lands a Baseball Slide with a screech. Looking for the handstand elbow but Cane counter with a superkick to the back. Kidman and Noble in, Kidman clears house with drop-kicks and enziguri’s, hits what I think is basically an FU/AA to Noble, but only two.
Kidman fights out of a Tarantula attempt, Tajiri and Kidman on the outside, Noble tries a tope but nails Tajiri accidentally. Hurricane adds a somersault Senton from the top to the outside, which gets a far milder pop than it deserves. Kidman and Noble back in, Kidman to the top, Nidia intercepts briefly to crotch him. Noble clambers up, but then gets cleared out by an avalanche sit-out powerbomb! Holy crap. That’s enough for the pin in just over three.
Winners: Hurricane and Kidman, and I presume the later is set-up for a title shot now?
Verdict: Short but full of big spots. Imagine what these guys could do with ten minutes in a PPV setting?
We cut straight away to The Rock pacing backstage. Lloyd arrives to ask why he’s still here, annoying Rock. “Damn Coach, you’ve changed since the last time I was here, you shaved and got white”. WTF. Rock runs down Lloyd and dismisses him so he can talk to the camera. As long as Kurt and Taker are still in the building Rock is going nowhere. Taker’s reign as Champ ends in ten days. He placed a big bet on the Vengeance slot machine earlier and got three Brahma Bulls. Both of their candy asses are his, and The Rock will be watching the main event tag, even as, his words, Marc Lloyd is off camera masturbating. Pan to a shocked looking Lloyd. Why? If you smell, etc. Rock’s struggling for decent promos here, I have found that after his returns he could have trouble getting back in the right mode.
The main event is up after the break, where Rey Mysterio’s arrival is hyped again, this time with a date: two weeks. So, the week after Vengeance? That seems strange.
Chris Jericho & Kurt Angle vs The Undertaker & John Cena
Our fourth tag match of the night, and Big Match John’s first WWE main event. Recap of Y2J and Cena’s interactions last week, and I’m happy because I get to see the slap again. He even gets a separate entrance here. Taker and Jericho to start, and Jericho gets the ambush when Taker takes a swing at Angle. Shots in the corner, reverse whip, boot up on a charge but then floored by a Taker clothesline. Now Mean Mark with elbows in the corner and in comes Cena. Strikes, Angle with a sneaky shot, and Jericho floors Cena with an elbow. Angle in, beatdown, but then Cena sends Angle into the ringpost off a dodged charge. DDT to Jericho, back body-drop to Angle, Y2J sent out and now Cena gets in some shots at Angle. Reversed whip sees Cena eat a big missile drop-kick from Jericho for two. Good start to this one.
Cena now the face-in-peril as get gets worked over by the heels. Snap suplex from Angle for two, Cena trying to rally back, foot up on a corner charge but then he walks into a big belly-to-belly. Jericho in, chops, corner smashes, kicks, a snapmare and a drop-kick to the back. Angle in, reverse suplex, double team with a vicious kick to the side from Jericho, then Angle into a front facelock. Cena fighting out of it, swinging powerslam gives him some room.
Hot tag to Taker, he cleans Jericho out for a bit, clothesline to Angle, then corner clotheslines for both to get the crowd whipped up. Snake Eyes to Jericho, looking for the chokeslam on Angle (“Goozle time!”) but Jericho attack from behind to break it up, knocking the ref out in the process. Big boot to Jericho, calling for The Last Ride, but Angle in to hit the Angle Slam! H throws the ref back in, Jericho with a slow cover, slow count and Taker gets the shoulder up at two. Undertaker back with double clotheslines, Cena tagged in, Angle clotheslined out, spinebuster to Jericho, two. Jericho back with a Bulldog, looking for the Lionsault but The Undertaker trips him as he does it. Cena adds a roll-up and that’s it in just under six-and-a-half.
Winners: Taker and Cena, a marriage made in heaven.
Verdict: Decent tag, Cena getting a big push, the heels looked good, so did Taker, it’s all good really.
Jericho looks horrified at being pinned by a rookie, and attacks after the bell. Reverse cutter, and Cena dumped out. Taker boots Y2J out in turn, then Angle nails a German on the Champion. Ankle Lock put in, Taker counters out of it, looking for The Last Rise but Angle out of that. Looking for a suplex, this countered too and Taker puts in a Dragon Sleeper! Angle is tapping out, now here comes The Rock laying the Smackdown on the Undertaker, and adds a Rock Bottom. Now Angle attacks the Brahma Bull from behind, strikes, Rock rallying back, floors Angle, Rock Bottom! Rock stands tall as we go off air. Crazy fast-paced brawl to finish, and the crowd absolutely loved it. Perfect PR for Vengeance.
Best Match: I guess the main event, good strong tag and the aftermath was very strong.
Best Wrestler: Edge, who really appears to have not missed a step since his injury.
Worst Match: The Womens Title match, Wilson really should not be in those spots.
Worst Wrestler: OK Edge, you’re going to do 90% of the work and then we finish to my theme music, right brother?
Overall Verdict: An OK episode, the closing sequence saved it after a few humdrum tag matches that made up the majority of the show. The undercard for Vengeance needs way more build than it is getting. We’ll see if the last week can provide.
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