NFB Watches Wrestling #95: Raw (15/07/2002)

He’s about to be back, and he’ll be better than ever as we’ll see. It’s the 15th July 2002 and we’re in Continental Airline Arena of East Rutherford, New Jersey for episode #477 of WWE Raw! Your main event tonight: Brock Lesnar & The Undertaker (!) vs Ric Flair & Rob Van Dam!

New Attitude splash, and we cut straight away to backstage where The Undertaker converses with Paul Heyman. Heyman complains about Van Dam’s assault last week, and the main event tonight is his idea. Brock wanted Heyman to let Taker know that teaming with him is an honour, and hopes Undertaker retains the title on Sunday so he can face him at Summerslam. The Deadman interrupts at this point to say that Heyman and Brock better hope that he loses on Sunday, because otherwise he will make Lesnar famous by making him vanish. He scares Heyman off as the crowd actually pops a little. OK, we have a plot.

“Across The Nation”, pyro and JR/King welcome us to East Rutherford. The main event is plugged, before the nWo come out. Only, it’s not the nWo, it’s Vince McMahon! IS HE THE THIRD MAN? Vince has a big smile on his face, so someone is getting screwed tonight. Why is Mr McMahon walking out to nWo music he rhetorically asks, before complementing the crowd on the warm New Jersey welcome. He walked out to that music because he thought the crowd would like to hear it one last time. Mixture of boos and cheers to that. There is no more nWo. It’s now history, like all the other preceding eras of WWE. He runs down some of those eras as the crowd gets it’s “whats” going, pausing just long enough to get a pop at the mention of Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior, and New Jersey really goes off at the mention of Bret Hart and Stone Cold. The point is that WWE changes with the times, and it has to change now.

“Asshole” chants for a brief interruption. Raw was born ten years ago just across the river, and they will celebrate their 500th show soon. Now is the time for a rebirth and a shake-up, if Raw and Smackdown are to evolve. And that will begin right here tonight. Vince has hired new General Manager’s for both shows, and they will have complete authority over their respective brands, and his unqualified support. Within the next hour, he will name the new GM of Raw, who will be firm but fair, who won’t back down from a challenge and will take Raw to higher ground. More “Asshole” chants, and Vince says they shouldn’t disrespect the new GM. The new GM will give all of the fans what they really want, and what they truly deserve. Oh dear. He thanks the crowd and away he goes. Brief shot of the roster all watching from a room in the back, like it’s Draft Day or something.

So, the nWo in WWE experiment came to its end. It was always on borrowed time, what with Hogan not wanting to be tied to the lead weight, Nash injury-prone and politicking the moment he got back in the door and Scott Hall being in no shape to wrestle on any show. X-Pac and The Big Show helped stem the tide temporarily, Michaels did the same despite having no obvious interest in keeping the whole affair going, and it seems like Nash’s ACL tear the previous week was the last straw. There were a few brief moments in the last few months when you could see what the nWo could have been in the WWE, but in the end they just weren’t willing to be ruthless enough with who was being booked as its membership, or gung-ho enough with their feuds and record. It’s a case of goodbye to bad rubbish.

After the break Terri is with Ric Flair to ask his opinion of this new GM announcement. Flair says running the company is a thankless job, and he doesn’t know anyone who could do it whose last name is not McMahon. Way to suck up in kayfabe.

Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley & Spike Dudley vs William Regal, Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero (Elimination Match)

What is it, November? Recap of Hardy’s Euro Title win and Regal’s breakdown afterwards. It’s also confirmed that the new Dudley Boyz will be taking on Guerrero and Benoit on Sunday in a table match. That’s only the second Raw match announced, and just fourth overall. Big pop for Benoit. Brawl to start, and Eddie and Spike end up legal. The littlest Dudley scores with a back body-drop, Inverted Atomic Drop, two. Nice counter chain ends with a neckbreaker from Spike, corner smash, then a headbutt to the gut (that JR calls a spear) and then suddenly Latino Heat has a roll-up for the 1, 2 3 and the elimination in less than a minute. Total lack of reaction from the crowd as Bubba Ray comes in to hit a huge Bubba Bomb but Regal interrupts the count.

Benoit in, stomps in the corner, Bubba back with a spear (that JR calls a shoulder tackle, come on Jim) open hand chops in the corner, corner splash, cheap shot from Regal gets him cleared out, but this allows Benoit to get the advantage. Snap suplex, two, Regal in, an actual shoulder tackle for two. Strikes in the corner, back body-drop, Scoop Slam, hard lefts and a right elbow for two, with Benoit nailing Regal accidentally when he comes in. Eddie comes running in just long enough to get hip-tossed out, big air too.

Hardy in to a pop, and with Bubba’s help he hits a Poetry In Motion on Regal. Trying for the same on Benoit, Regal intervenes and Benoit hits a few German’s on the two remaining faces. Benoit with big chops to Jeff, Eddie in, stomps, running elbow, suplex, two. Regal in, and takes a running crossbody for one (a “near fall”, Jim, seriously now) Regal back quick with strikes and Benoit in for more of the same. Big reverse suplex, looks for another but countered into a crossbody for one again. Guerrero in, stomps, Regal in, knees to the head, two. This could do with a change-up in pace now.

Double Underhook Suplex for two, with Bubba breaking it up. Hardy gets some space with his one-legged spinning drop-kick, Regal back quick enough with a suplex, Bubba cleaned off the apron, and a Hardy comeback killed quick by heel interference. Suddenly Eddie is wrestling with the ref, Benoit hands the Euro strap to Regal, but Bubba intervenes and nails Regal with it before he can hit Hardy. Hebner see’s this though and he’s disqualified in just under eight. An enraged Bubba clears out the heels, Jeff hits a Swanton on Regal and eliminates the Englishman in just over eight. Bubba and Eddie brawling at ringside as Benoit comes in, and that sends us to a break. First time this kind of in-match break has happened in a while.

When we’re back Hardy is getting beaten down by the Radicalz, but fights back just long enough to avoid a springboard senton from Eddie, countered into a roll-up for the pin in just over 11-and-a-half. Benoit and Hardy the only ones left, but that doesn’t stop Eddie wailing on Hardy after for no DQ, come on Earl! Hardy rallying back enough to knock Guerrero out, but then takes a German from Benoit. Hard clothesline, two, chops, but Hardy back with a Whisper In The Wind leaving both men on the mat. Suddenly Guerrero is back at ringside, and Hebner gets into a shoving match with him on the outside. Regal sneaks in from the crowd, brass knucks shot to Hardy, but both legal men are just left lying. Benoit recovers enough to stick on the Crossface, but Hardy has been knocked out cold and Hebner calls it after an arm drop spot in just over 14.

Winners: Raw’s Anti-American Alliance.

Verdict: Good yeah, had a slow section but these are six guys who can go who were actually given a decent amount of time to work with. I could do with more 15 minute six-man’s with the mid-card really. Might have been better with some more consistent work around the refs/rules though.

Guerrero grabs a table for he and Benoit to set-up in the ring, and out comes the Dudley’s to make the save. The heels flee and we get a staredown ahead of Sunday. Replays of the finish as King insist he didn’t see any knucks. I presume we might be getting Hardy/Regal on Sunday?

Backstage Coach is outside Vince’s office looking for word on who the GM might be, with names like Mick Foley (who lives nearby) and Rod McMahon mentioned. Paul Heyman arrives to see Vince, and Coach asks if he might be a candidate for GM. Heyman agrees he would be imminently qualified to be GM, and enters the office. Wasn’t Heyman booking Smackdown at this point? A mook arrives to inform Vince that the new GM has arrived, McMahon wants to see him straight away, and Heyman is dismissed. Weird set-up for such a basic bait-and-switch.

After the break, McMahon is ready to welcome the new GM and it’s…Shane McMahon! Only the shocked look at Vince’s face tells us he’s not. First time we’ve see Shame O’Mac since the night after Survivor Series the previous year. He’s here to get McMahon to stop making the biggest mistake in the history of their family (man that is a long list). Vince mocks Shane’s “family concern” after the whole Invasion thing, but Shane counters that the man he has chosen is “a parasite” who will screw the family over. Vince says it’s his decision. Shane agrees. Exeunt. Hmm. So, is Shane back now, or?

Elsewhere, Tommy Dreamer arrives in a locker room and says hello to Rob Van Dam. They briefly discuss the new GM situation, and both are glad it isn’t going to be Paul Heyman. Van Dam smiles as they discuss his Van Terminator on Heyman last week, and RVD can’t wait to do the same to Lesnar. Van Dam heads off, and in walks Stevie Richards. He sarcastically congrats Dreamer on his defence of ECW. He knows it’s all a load of crap, and proposes that the match they have coming up be spiced up to grab the new GM’s attention. Dreamer is down, and Richards wants a Singapore Cane match! Goldust suddenly arrives, and thinks it’s an offer too good to be true. Both ECW guys laugh at this, before Stevie gives Dreamer a cheap shot. “I’ll show you!” he says, but he doesn’t complete the catchphrase. Alright segment, Van Dam looked even more wooden than earlier.

Stevie Richards vs Tommy Dreamer (Singapore Cane Match)

Basically just a No-DQ match with canes. They two swing wild at each other to start. Big “E-C-Dub” chants. To the outside, Dreamer tries to get a “W-W-E” chant going, yeah right. Lots of shots with the cane, but as Dreamer grabs the ringsteps he takes a big one to the head. Big shot to the back of the head follows, and Dreamer has bladed. Onto the ramp, Richards hits a suplex but might have come off the worst on it. Back inside, more shots and stomps, and then Richards used the cane for a choke. JR calls Richards “Regal” here, he’s not on top form tonight. Shots to the head, and Dreamer whipped into a cane set-up in the corner. Crowd was hot at the start, but has died down now.

More shots with the cane from Stevie, Dreamer calling them on and on, ducks a big swing and hits a Side Russian Leg Sweep. Dreamer with cane shots now, blocks a Stevie Kick, nails a DDT, two. To the second rope, but now eats a Stevie Kick off a second rope nothing. Only two though, so finishers mean nothing here I guess. Dreamer with a huge cane shot to the head that shatters the weapon, and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in under four-and-a-half.

Winner: Tommy Dreamer, working so hard to get himself over with the time he is given, it has to be said.

Verdict: A real out of left field situation, a weapon stip match with lots of blood in the middle of a TV taping. I enjoyed it for sure. Hopefully they can make something out of it though.

Backstage, Coach is with Booker T. He has a match with The Big Show tonight that goes beyond what problems he had with the nWo. He’s happy the nWo is dead and buried and he feels like celebrating. Will the Coach join him? He encourages the Coach to give him a “Coach-a-rooni” but Coach doesn’t feel like it. Booker says The Rock isn’t the only one who can mess with announcers, and he isn’t even here, and Coach proceeds to give a Spinarooni so bad that the crowd gives him actual heat. “Is Coach Caucasian?” asks King. T is understandably unimpressed. “You sure you’re black dog?” Back on point, Booker is going to show Big Show why he doesn’t put his hands on a five time WCW Champion, but before he can close with his catchphrase, he looks in shock off-screen. Pan to…Eric Bischoff! The crowd gives an audible exclamation of surprise and T sells this like he’s seen an actual ghost as Bischoff shakes his hand. “Tell me I didn’t just see that?” Great job here, between the nod to WCW and T’s pitch perfect reaction.

After the break out comes Vince, sans music. “Asshole” chants, and who are those for? He milks the moment for a few seconds, then says it takes a real son of a bitch to be successful in this business. From one SOAB to another, allow him to introduce the new GM of Raw: Eric Bischoff! Out he comes to some slick theme music, and he and Vince hug!

Bischoff hadn’t been sitting around twiddling his thumbs since the final death of WCW, being involved in some smaller wrestling companies and pitching ideas for TV shows to studios in LA, but it was inevitable that he would end up back at the top table of things. That may seem like a case of hindsight being 20:20, since at the time this was considered genuinely shocking. McMahon has spent five months treating WCW like garbage in the Invasion storyline and Bischoff had little regard for Vince after his eleventh hour effort to buy WCW was thwarted. He had turned down an offer made by a less-than-enthusiastic Jim Ross the previous year to shoot some material with Vince for a short-term angle, before Kevin Nash reached out to him ahead of this much more substantial story.

Impressed by his conversations with McMahon, where the WWE head was far more gracious about the Monday Night Wars than he expected, he agreed to sign up for this stint as an on-screen authority figure. WWE pulled a secrecy job that would probably be impossible in this day and age to get Bischoff to East Rutherford and then to the arena with only a handful of people in the know about what was about to happen: most of the roster only found out about his hiring when he walked to Gorilla position ( Booker T was presumably a notable exception). Oh, and the hug? It was McMahon’s idea, apparently. When the two embrace in the ring, Bischoff claims that he whispered to Vince “That rumbling beneath your feet is a whole lot of people turning over in their graves.” I’d say he was right.

King recounts sitting next to McMahon on commentary when Vince would wish death on Bischoff, as JR laments what has happened. Real mixed reaction from the crowd: there are cheers and boos in almost equal measure. Bischoff heads to the ring for his first mike time. He introduces himself and says he used to run WCW and “not the watered-down version that invaded this company”. He was the only person ever able to take it to Vince and the WWE. When McMahon was talking about ruthless aggression, who do you think he was talking about? JR agrees that Bischoff was very ruthless. He stole McMahon’s star power with abundance, signing people like Mean Gene and Bobby The Brain “just for the hell of it”. He gave the McMahon family business a swift kick in the crotch, and it was sweet. While Vince was on trial, he raided the WWE dry. And for those who think he was only successful because of Ted Turner, he says he was successful because he was innovative.

He brings up how he used to spoil the results of Raw, or how he got Alundra Blayze to dump the WWF Womens Title in a garbage can as examples of his ruthless aggression. The most important thing is that he forced McMahon to change. Nitro changed the face of sports-entertainment forever, and forced the WWE to change so it could keep up with him. He also created the nWo, and that gets cheers. They weren’t some “stale retread”, nice, and under him Nitro beat Raw for 84 straight weeks. He came this close to putting the WWF out of business forever.

So naturally he was a little surprised to get a call from Vince McMahon. But it made sense to him: if there is one person who can take this struggling franchise and turn it into a powerhouse, that would be him. And it will start right here on Raw, and it’ll really kick-off at Vengeance. There was one piece of talent he could never sign away, and he’s convinced that if he had Nitro would be on the air and Vince – “my new best friend” – would be working for him. But it isn’t going to be the nWo that signs Triple H, it’s going to be him! A good moment to note that HHH did work for Bischoff for a time, in 1995, but was let go, Oops.

Anyway, people like working for him, because they are drawn to winners. The WWE needs him, “you people” (drink!) deserve him and he promises he is here to put the “E” in WWE. A bit of a rambling promo that had a lot to cover, reminding people of who he is while breaking kayfabe a bit, but I guess it got the job done. Cut to backstage where there are mixed reactions from the roster: Big Show smiles evilly, Bubba Ray looks pissed and Ric Flair has a face full of foreboding.

Backstage, Undertaker chats with Bradshaw about what they just saw, when the new GM himself rocks up. Eric’s been dying to meet him, and regrets he could never convince him to come to WCW. If he ever needs anything at all, but then Bradshaw interrupts. Bischoff doesn’t seem very interested in talking to the Hardcore Champ, and leaves quickly. This was a bit awkward.

Molly Holly (c) vs Trish Stratus (WWE Womens Championship)

No preamble for this one as commentary continues to talk about the GM announcement. Lock-up, Holly with a wristlock takedown, Stratus with a counter, but then she gets drop toe-holded into the corner. Foot choke from the Champ, hair pull into a slam, two, as JR announces that Vince McMahon has left the arena. Swinging neckbreaker gets two for Molly, head smash onto the mat, but then Trish with an elbow on a corner charge. Holly set-up on top, Trish follows, knocked down but then back with a handstand rana, that gets a pop. Whip chain ends in a sloppy looking clothesline from Stratus, drop-kick, Chick Kick, two. Holly back with a slap, boot, back body-drop and they are pulling stuff out tonight huh?

Trish gets a Victory Roll out of the corner for two, but then walks into a backbreaker for two. Strikes, Stratus looking for the Stratusfaction, countered smartly into a reverse suplex, and Holly gets the 1, 2, 3 with her feet on the ropes in just over three.

Winner (and still WWE Womens Champion): Molly Holly, who remains the best wrestler on the roster who is female.

Verdict: Fine for the time I guess, they could have used a few more minutes. Perhaps a rematch at Vengeance?

Backstage, Ric Flair walks the halls when he walks into Eric Bischoff, oh boy. The new GM says they have a lot of history, not all of it good, but they need to leave it in the past. Flair pretty much ghosts him and Bischoff looks annoyed. Commentary plugs our next match, which is right after the break.

Booker T vs The Big Show

I’m reminded at this point that I think we have seen the last of X-Pac in the WWE too, I had forgotten that. He’s described by JR here as being on “a leave of absence”. He turns up in TNA in a few months. Crowd is hot for Booker, they really should be pulling the trigger on him in the upper card very soon. Big Show in hot, but Booker on top early with strikes, then Show with hard knees in the corner. A chop floors T, another, a throw, then a big delay suplex. Tries an elbow but nobody home, Booker back with lots of chops, only to walk into a Sidewalk Slam for two. Trying for what looks like a Razor’s Edge into the corner, Booker out of it, corner whip chain and T gets the advantage.

More chops, Booker with a big side kick to floor TBS, then a Cactus Clothesline sends them both out. Booker dodges a charge and Show sends a knee into the ringsteps. Now Booker has a chair OUTTANOWHERE but The Big Show dodges the shot. Back in with the chair, and T has it again, only for Show to WMD his way through a shot, before sending T spinning with a clothesline. Somewhere in the confusion Nick Patrick gets thrown out, Show nails Booker with a back shot, another and now Patrick calls for the bell in just under three-and-a-half.

Winner (by DQ): Booker T, adding to that win/loss record at least.

Verdict: The non-finish just the cap on a pretty basic match-up.

A pissed off Big Show drags Booker out, and delivers a chokeslam through the announce table! I’m guessing these two will go again then. Show walks off screaming as refs see to T and JR gives out about his ruined table. Replays of what we just saw, as Ross cries about what’s going to be done about it all.

Backstage, Brock Lesnar is using titantron bric-a-brak for weight lifting when Heyman comes up to talk about Bischoff. He reminds him that is going to be IC Champion on Sunday, and Undisputed Champion in a month. He admits he was talking crap about Lesnar’s admiration for Undertaker, and insists the Deadman has no idea why they are teaming tonight. It’s apparently just a plan to annihilate Rob Van Dam. Lesnar says this is why he pays Paul, and tosses the huge thing he’s lifting. Shenanigans!

After the break JR shouts out James Miranda, a 20 year WWE employee who passed recently. Miranda was a merchandise guy who was highly admired, and I think has been name-dropped in a few Hall Of Fame speeches. RIP. Onto the next match.

Bradshaw (c) vs Chris Nowinski (WWE Hardcore Champion)

Oh wow, they remembered Bradshaw was the Hardcore Champion! Would have thought they’d use this feud for some garbage wrestling on Sunday, but I guess this will do. Bradshaw has slapped a Texan flag on top of the belt ala Lance Storm and the US Title. Nowinski on the mike as Bradshaw hits the ring to explain he doesn’t actually want this match, as no one wants to see a Harvard grad get pummeled with garbage cans. He has a proposition for the Champ: he’ll allow Bradshaw to beat him, so the Texan retains his title, and he doesn’t get hurt. Nowinski actually gets on the ground, Bradshaw goes for the pin only for the Harvard grad to try a roll-up! Only two though, and a pissed Hardcore Champ spears him down after.

We have an actual match now, and Bradshaw with strikes, a big boot then clotheslines Nowinski out. The challenger taking a powder, intercepted on the ramp, some strikes and then Nowinski gets sent into a ringside cameraman, whoops. Ringsteps in hand, Bradshaw gives his opponent a big shot to the face. Now he has a chair, Nowinski fleeing through the crowd and Bradshaw in pursuit. Crowd brawling, now Bradshaw has a garbage can and delivers a shot. We end up in the back, Bradshaw hitting Nowinski with stuff, and a brutal looking spot where Nowinski has his head in a container and Bradshaw slams the lid on him, that looked a bit scary to be honest. Suddenly Johnny “The Bull” Stamboli – who? – is here, nails Bradshaw with a kendo stick to the head, and gets the pin.

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Johnny “The Bull” Stamboli.

That brings this segment to an end, with King asking “Who is that?” Good question. Rubbish match, but what can you expect. Stamboli a late-era WCW guy who made a brief appearance at the start of the Invasion angle before spending the intervening time in the HWA. He’s recently been working dark matches and Heat for the WWE, and here he is on the big stage. I’m not expecting great things.

In his office, presumably, Bischoff watches on when The Big Show enters. They embrace warmly, and Show says he thought he would be on his own with the end of the nWo, but he knows that’s not the case with Bischoff in charge. He has a pain in his ass, and it’s Booker T. He’s lost by count-out to him, by DQ to him, and he wants Booker T at Vengeance in a no count-out, no-DQ match. Bischoff isn’t even sure if T will be capable of getting to Sunday, but Show is insistent. Bischoff isn’t sure if making a PPV match on his first night is a good idea, but relents. More hugs, and Bischoff has to wipe the sweat off his suit. He goes back to fondling a Triple H DVD case, then sticks it on the TV.

After the break, Stamboli is in Bischoff’s office exulting over his victory. He thanks Bischoff for letting him compete, but the GM says he did it all on his own. He welcomes Johnny to Raw, only for Bradshaw to run in and decapitate him with a Clothesline From Hell. There’s a ref, and a count and…

New WWE Hardcore Champion: Bradshaw

Bradshaw welcomes Stamboli to Raw and walks off after a glare to Bischoff. Match on Sunday maybe? Anyone? Stamboli off to a bad start getting buried like this, he has no credibility and he hasn’t even had a proper match yet. Why not at least give him a week as Hardcore Champ?

Elsewhere Lesnar is hyping himself up with Heyman when The Undertaker walks up. They go nose-to-nose for a second, before Heyman tries to break them up, only for Brock to shut him up. Undertaker insists Lesnar head to the ring first, and Big Brock acquiesces. You can feel the sexual tension guys.

Brock Lesnar & The Undertaker w/Paul Heyman vs Rob Van Dam & Ric Flair

Undertaker and Flair to start, goody. Circling, lock-up, Flair knocked down. Wristlock that Flair oversells to the max, back with a chop “almost like a literal bullet” says JR, please. More chops, Van Dam in and lands a big top rope crossbody for two. Orton’s is better. Taker with a corner clothesline, but then misses on a boot. Van Dam with kicks, Undertaker floored and Flair back in. The faces working over Taker’s legs, and OUTTANOWHERE Flair has the Figure 4 on. Bit too early for that, and Taker gets Flair to release with a choke. Ref pulled in close, and Flair hits a low blow.

Chops, strikes, but then Flair walks into a chokeslam! Van Dam breaks up the pin, and they are pulling the big moves out early here. Lesnar in, clubbing shots to Flair, corner spears, into the opposite corner for more, and Flair is approaching Michaels levels of overselling the effects. Stomps in the corner, foot choke, and the crowd has died a bit at this point. A few backbreakers landed as Heyman screams “AGAIN, AGAIN” at ringside. Undertaker drops a leg on the apron, and JR is outraged at this despite the low blow earlier.

Lesnar has a three but pulls Flair up for more punishment. Deadman in for more beatdown, Flair trying to rally back with chops only to get nailed with that jumping clothesline. Flair dodges an elbow drop (an audible “Shit!” from Taker), thumb to the eye, to the second rope, intercepted, and Taker nails the superplex. Again Van Dam interrupts the count. Lesnar in, more beatdown, more corner spears, more chops in response until Lesnar nails a swinging powerslam. Crowd is dead at this point. Flair dodges another corner spear, sloppy reverse suplex where Lesnar lands shoulder first, two.

Flair just about gets the hot tag to Van Dam, spinning heel kick floors Taker, drop-kick cleans Lesnar out, Monkey Flip on Undertaker out of the corner, then the Rolling Thunder. Lesnar breaks up the pin, eats a boot on a corner charge, and eats another from the top rope. RVD follows up with a split-legged moonsault, and the ref counts the pin even though Lesnar clearly isn’t the legal man, Undertaker breaks it up. Taker looking for The Last Ride, Flair in with chops and just about clotheslines Taker out. Lesnar nails Flair with an F-5, then eats a superkick from Van Dam, to the top, Five Star! Now Taker back in, Last Ride to Van Dam, the ref has remembered who the legal man is, and that’s it in just over ten.

Winners: Bronder TakNar

Verdict: It was alright, very slow middle section and stupid refereeing did it a bit of damage. Flair added nothing, as per usual. Having Van Dam take the fall, clean, like this doesn’t do much for him heading into Sunday.

In the aftermath, Undertaker celebrates only to get jumped by Lesnar! Beatdown, the first of so-many F-5’s that Mean Mark will take down the years and Big Brock stands tall with the title belt. “Has Vengeance picked up?” asks JR, what?

Backstage, Bischoff is still in his office, and makes a phone call. It’s to…The Rock! He leaves a voice message, saying he’s a huge fan, and he wants Rock on Raw. He’ll talk to him Thursday on Smackdown. JR is apoplectic as we go off-air.

Let’s have a quick look at the Raw side of the Vengeance card, as it stands.

Lesnar/Van Dam – Has non-finish written all over it. Lesnar doesn’t need the IC Title, and they aren’t going to have him lose either. Hopefully they get a bit of time at least.

Big Show/Booker T – No great expectations here, even Booker, as good as the form he is in is, won’t be able to carry this. He should win though.

Dudleys/Guerrero & Benoit – I dunno, this seems pretty throwaway. I suspect they won’t want to have Benoit take a big loss this early into his return.

I presume we’ll get one more match for Raw, if I was a betting man I’d say Molly/Trish, or Hardy/Regal, or maybe even Bradshaw/Stamboli. As for tonight:

Best Match: I guess the opening six-man, it got time to breathe and had some good spots.

Best Wrestler: Booker T, for selling Bischoff’s arrival the way he did.

Worst Match: The Hardcore Title needs some big changes in how it’s being done, or an oblivion.

Worst Wrestler: One bad reverse suplex, one bad submission and a load of chops is enough to get you into the main event in WWE it seems.

Overall Verdict: It gave us one of the biggest surprises of that whole era, so you have to call this show notable if nothing else. A few good matches, a few storylines progressed, a few duds: it’s typical Raw at the time. Bischoff was brought in to make them untypical, and we’ll see how he does.

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

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #95: Raw (15/07/2002)

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

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