NFB Watches Wrestling #97: WWE Vengeance 2002

I demand video packages that say the name of the PPV! It’s the 21st July 2002 and we’re in the Joe Louis Arena of Detroit, Michigan for WWE Vengeance! Your main event tonight: The Undertaker defends the Undisputed Championship against The Rock and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat match!

A quick note to say that the official Network thumbnail art for this one features none other than Stone Cold Steve Austin, so chalk that up as an example of very strange “Twenty years too late” false advertising. Yeesh.

Our opening video package quotes Ezekiel 25:17, and since you’ve seen Pulp Fiction I won’t transcribe it. The men in the main event say the names of the men in the main event a few times to highlights of the build, before quoting Ezekiel themselves. Just a little bit too dramatic, even for wrestling.

“Downfall” by Trust Company, pyro and Cole/Tazz welcome us to Detroit and a hot sounding crowd. But will they stay that way? WWE The World is also full of screaming, bouncing fans. Cole informs us that he and Tazz, by edict of Stephanie McMahon, will call the first half of Vengeance, and JR/King will do the second. I’m guessing they couldn’t just bounce between them because they only had one announce desk. Onto the first contest.

Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero (Tag Team Table Elimination Match)

Tazz declares the tables at ringside as “pure oak” and pull the other one man. The Dudleys set up an extra long table at ringside before the heels come out, and looks like we are adhering to tag rules for some reason? Benoit and Spike to start and the Wolverine on top early, knock down, high angle reverse suplex, then a stiff short-arm clothesline. Backbreaker, into the corner, beatdown, but then Spike reverses an arm drag takedown into one of his own, nice. Bubba in, things break down a little bit, and Eddie in legally to beatdown Bubba Ray.

Heels working together well, double knockdown floors Bubba, Benoit in, another big clubbing shot, snap suplex, Guerrero in, snapmare, face stomp, Bubba reverses a hard whip but then gets chopped down with a low drop-kick. Huge “Eddie Sucks” chants. Benoit in, Scoop Slam, elbow drop, Bubba rallying back enough to clear Eddie off the apron but then gets nailed with a German. Latino Heat in, beatdown, then a springboard rope choke. Face pulling, Bubba selling like a champ, and Spike has enough of the double-teaming and comes in for a shot on Eddie.

Bubba remains the face-in-peril, back body-drop from Benoit, dueling strikes into the corner, foot choke, but Bubba gets a pop with a brief rally. Hard corner whip floors the bigger Dudley, “I don’t think Bubba even realises he’s in Detroit” “That’s not a bad thing”, nice), stomps from Benoit in the corner, another hard corner whip and Benoit clears Spike off the apron for some reason. Guerrero fetches a table as Benoit continues the beatdown, and it is set-up at ringside. Spike is suddenly back in the ring, and uses his half-brother as a launching pad for a somersault tope onto Eddie at ringside! Holy crap, now that was OUTTANOWHERE. Misses the table though.

Benoit leaves the ring to work over Spike a bit, hard whip into the ringsteps, back in, Bubba with rights, but gets his legs pulled out from under him by Guerrero. Guerrero grabs another table, drops it to laughs, then is able to toss it into the ring. Heels working Bubba over as the table is set-up, Bubba set-up on top, heels looking for a double superplex, but Spike tosses the table aside just before they hit it. Heels now working over Spike, and it seems as if the tag rules portion of the evening has decisively closed.

Eddie tosses another table in the ring as Benoit delivers a gutbuster to Spike. This table propped in the corner, Spike worked over in the opposite corner, looking to whip him into the table but Bubba back in to get in the way. Things break down a bit, Bubba with back body-drops to both heels, Sidewalk Slam to Benoit, then Eddie goes looking for some kind of Old School move only to get pulled off the top. Spike lands a double stomp from the top on Benoit, Bubba’s elbows flooring all, then we get a “WHATS UUUUUPPPP” on Benoit with Spike in the D-Von role. Crowd was into it.

Spike is informed to obtain wood, but suddenly Benoit has the Crossface on Spike. He taps, doesn’t matter of course, and Bubba drags Benoit off to deliver a Samoan Drop. Crowd died a little with that series of moves. Bubba sets up the corner table properly, Benoit put on top, Bubba to the top rope, Eddie briefly intercepts before getting pushed away, looking for the Senton but Benoit dodges and Bubba crashes. He didn’t get put through the table by an opponent though, so he isn’t eliminated.

Heels back on top, until Spike delivers a standing rana to Eddie, and Benoit accidentally Cactus Clotheslines his partner out of the ring off a Spike dodge. Spike and Eddie hooking up again after a minute, looking to suplex Spike from the apron through the ringside table, Spike counters it into a Dudley Dawg, and, well, it really looks like Spike was the one to go through the table really, but it’s called as an Eddie Guerrero elimination in just under 13-and-a-half.

Spike is out of it after that crash as Benoit grabs another table and sets it up in-ring. Suddenly Spike is back in the ring, OK, tries a Dudley Dawg, Benoit out of it, and then Gorilla Presses Spike through the other table at ringside! God damn that looked cool, and Spike is gone in 14-and-a-half. Benoit trading strikes with Bubba, and Bubba is able to nail a Bubba Bomb through a table in just over 15.

Winners: The Dudley Boyz*

Verdict: Had a few bad looking moments, like Guerrero’s “elimination” that we get replays of for some reason. But it worked as a good spotfest I suppose and the crowd was into it. Surprised by who went over as well to be honest.

The Dudleys nurse their wounds in the aftermath before we go backstage where Eric Bischoff is staring into the camera. Only, he’s actually getting interviewed by Coach. Weird start. He’s proud of what the four Raw superstars pulled in the first match of the night, and it’s the kind of ruthless aggression he’s after. He suddenly spots Triple H arriving at the arena, and chases after him. He intercepts HHH before he enters Stephanie McMahon’s office. Haitch says he wants to hear both sides out, and quotes Bischoff by saying he is “negotiating always”. He enters the office, and Bischoff looks bereft. Coach will give us updates later. Did they ditch a possible match to run this angle tonight?

Jamie Noble (c) w/Nidia vs Billy Kidman

Something crazy is going to happen here. We get highlights of Noble’s ambush of Kidman last Thursday. Lock-up, after some spins both men take a tumble out of the ring, that’s a unique start. Back in, another lock-up, roll-up from Kidman for two, backslide for two, into an Electric Chair position, transitions into a roll-up, two. Fast counts from ref helping with the tension. Noble takes a brief powder in frustration, Nidia pumps him up and he heads back in.

Lock-up, Noble getting the upper hand, snapmare, leapfrog chain and Kidman nails a jumping rana. Noble ends up on the apron, shoulder block can’t stop Kidman landing a springboard attack that sends Noble to the outside. Noble dodges another attack, grabs Nidia, flings her into Kidman and then nails an armbar takedown off the distraction. Very nice heelery there, but the crowd just isn’t into it for whatever reason. Noble sends Kidman into the ringpost shoulder first, back in, two.

Belly-to-belly suplex gets two and into a resthold. Kidman battles out of it, trying for a pop-up powerbomb but his shoulder gives out and he can’t land it. Noble with a hard whip into the corner and back into the resthold, this time a sort of modified keylock. Kidman fighting out of it, clothesline, strikes with the one good arm, and lands a pop-up rana. Kick to the chin, fireman’s carry into a backbreaker, two. Some counter chains, and Noble lands another armbar DDT. Into a Fujiwara Armbar, but Kidman to the ropes. Noble with stomps, looking for a powerbomb, but countered into a facebuster! Only two, Kidman follows up with a sloppy-looking enziguri, Noble in position, Kidman to the top but Noble up and intercepts the challenger. Fighting on the top, and Kidman nails that top-rope sit-out powerbomb! Still looks cool, but this time Noble is able to kick-out.

Noble up a bit too quick to follow Kidman back up top, awkward moment where I think Kidman meant to go for a Tornado DDT but Noble wasn’t ready for that, it ends up with Kidman on the apron where he is able to hang Noble on the top. Back to the top rope but nobody home on the Shooting Star. Noble back with a roll-up, two, trying for a suplex, Kidman out of it, counter chain and Noble hits a Tiger Bomb for the 1, 2, 3 in just under sveen-and-a-half.

Winner (and still WWE Cruiserweight Champion): Jamie Noble, and clean too.

Verdict: It was OK, I was expecting something a bit more high flying, and there were a few dodgy moments where the two guys just were not in sync. Crowd did not care about this one as well, which hurt it. Noble going over clean also makes very little sense. Onto Mysterio I guess.

Backstage, Marc Lloyd is with an intense looking Kurt Angle. He cuts off the questions to say if Detroit made better cars, maybe the countries economy would not be in the toilet, what? Angle is in the middle of his usual spiel when he is interrupted by none other than Paul Heyman and Brock Lesnar. Heyman introduces his opponent for Summerslam, and Kurt does not look too impressed, though they do shake hands. Angle isn’t interested in Heyman’s buttering up. He’d love to face Lesnar at Summerslam, but if he thinks about messing with him like he did with Taker, he’ll take him down fast. This isn’t the Summer of Brock, it’s All Year Angle (yeesh, that’s clunky). The two stare each other down for a bit, before Lesnar wishes Angle luck tonight. Setting stuff up for the future I guess. Lesnar leaves, and Angle insists that he hates “pompous people” as he fingers his Olympic Gold.

Jeff Hardy (c) vs William Regal (WWE European Championship)

This was unannounced before the show, and rounds off the Raw side of the card. You wouldn’t blame the crowd for sleeping through this as a result. Recap of Jeff’s victory a few weeks ago and Regal’s tears afterwards. “A grown man crying over losing the European Title” Cole says, with the tone of a man who wouldn’t spit on the Euro strap if it was on fire. Big pop for Hardy on his entrance livens things up and away we go.

Circling, lock-up, Hardy backed up, break. Big “Regal Sucks” chants as he misses Hardy off a corner kip-up, but then lands a big left. Shoulder tackle into multiple covers for two. Jeff tries a Sunset Flip, but countered into a vicious looking knee to the head, damn that looked sore. Hardy floored by a left boot, but then dodges another knee drop. Running forearm, chinbreaker, two. Takedown, Catapult over the ropes where Regal was really doing a bit too much of the work. Hardy looking for a Wrecking Ball Drop-Kick through the ropes, caught, but then counters into a rana, very nice. Onto the barricade, looking for a crossbody but Regal dodges and Hardy crashes and burns. Back in, cover, two. Good rhythm to this one so far.

Corner whip ends up with Hardy landing a Whisper In The Wind “that yippy whippy thing” declares Tazz, nice), then a sort of Pele Kick, double heel drop, to the top, looking for the Swanton but Regal has the knees up. Regal back with a Half-Nelson Suplex for two, an Inverted Atomic Drop, kicks to the back, Hardy counters out of another hold, roll-up and that’s it OUTTANOWHERE in just over four.

Winner (and still WWE European Champion): Jeff Hardy, and this sort of win doesn’t do much for him.

Verdict: TV level encounter, and not sure what the point was of even having this on the card. After building Hardy up in the last month he’s lowered significantly beating another midcarder with a lucky roll-up.

Regal, with a split lip from somewhere, is near tears again in the ring as Hardy leaves. “Look at how much that European Title means to Jeff Hardy” says Cole, as we see a very uncaring looking Jeff head to the back. They need to find something better to do for him. Favourite sign of the night as Regal leaves: “I Eat Glue”. More interesting than the match.

Backstage, Ric Flair runs into Jeff Hardy, having waited patiently for his cue for a few seconds after the cameras was put on him. He congratulates him on the win, and suddenly Hulk Hogan is here too, and he gets a pop. He shakes Jeff’s hand and congratulates him too. “You know something Riccles, that kid is unreal man” (Riccles?). They clasp hands, as Hogan suggests that he might hit a Swanton Bomb tonight (can you imagine?). Flair imagines JR calling it, and suggests it would be a disaster (and oh boy is he right). Hogan can’t believe that Vince has named Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon as GM’s, and Flair hilariously suggests that he’s mostly worried about the younger guys who will get caught up in the powerplays. Was this segment written by Hogan and Flair?

Chris Jericho vs John Cena

Quick recap of last Thursday’s beatdown as Tazz suggests “Cena has rented a room in Chris Jericho’s brain”. Y2J grabs a chair ahead of Cena’s entrance, hits the ramp and takes a swing. Cena dodges, kick to the mid-section, and grabs the chair to deliver a shot first. Nice moment where he jaws with the ref, “He brought the chair out first!”, I do like to see that kind of kayfabe. He rolls Jericho in to start things officially.

Takedown, mounted punches, hard corner whips then a stuff clothesline. Jericho takes a powder to the derision of the crowd, Cena pursues, back in, some forearm knockdowns, big spinebuster, two. Y2J working hard to get this kid over. Now Jericho back with a Flapjack onto the ropes, kicks to the head. Cole says Jericho is annoyed that a rookie had the audacity to challenge him to a match on PPV, but didn’t Stephanie make this match? Reverse suplex from Y2J, drop-kick to the back, rope choke then a hip attack onto the ropes. As the ref checks on Cena Jericho exposes a turnbuckle, the ref intervenes, Cena gets a roll-up and on a delayed count he gets only two.

Jericho lands another kick to the head, hard rights forcing Cena to the floor, chops into the corner, Cena gets a boot up on a charge, misses a right and Jericho hits a modified version of the Breakdown, remember that? Better than the Judas Effect anyway. Jericho to the top, jawing with the crowd a bit, allows Cena to intercept him and he nails a superplex, two. Crowd surprisingly quiet now, do the PPV folks not buy Cena as a threat here?

Cena with strikes, Jericho back with a kick, then runs into a Tilt-A-Whirl for two. Nice spot where Jericho is whipped into the corner, jumps onto the second rope and nails a drop-kick to the gut on a charging Cena, two. Tries another, caught, Cena with a Catapult into the corner, Jericho lands on the second rope, tries a crossbody, caught and a belly-to-belly slam for two, awesome sequence. Now Jericho dodges a drop-kick, tries a Lionsault but nobody home. Cena with an Oklahoma Roll, countered by Jericho for two. Corner whip on Cena, reverse DDT, Jericho with a rope-assisted cover and Cena kicks out. You can tell they are trying to get the crowd going but nothing doing right now.

Shots in the corner, Bulldog off a hard whip to the opposite, bit of a sloppy Lionsault as Cena was a bit too far away from the ropes Jericho jumped off of. Jericho doesn’t go for the pin, calling for more punishment, but when he goes in for the Walls Cena gets a roll-up for the 1, 2, 3 in just over six.

Winner: Big Match John, the first of many, many PPV victories.

Verdict: A little throwaway. They spiced up a TV match pace with a few inventive sequences but the crowd was just comatose until the finish. Perhaps they’ve put these guys together too much? Either way, clear that right now they envision big things from Cena, and another example of Jericho’s willingness to put people over when it matters.

Cena scampers away as Jericho looks apoplectic with rage. Crowd popping now. Jericho grabs a chair and wrecks it against a ringpost, then messes up the ringsteps. This one is going to go a bit longer I guess.

Backstage, Bischoff and Coach are still waiting outside of Stephanie’s office when a guy in a suit rocks up. He introduces himself as Stephanie’s lawyer, and resists Bischoff’s efforts to get him to take a walk. The door is locked behind him, and Bischoff looks annoyed. So they are really going to be doing this all night huh?

JR and King come out to JR’s music. Tazz welcomes the “veteran team” with thinly veiled disappointment. He does give Lawler a handshake before he departs though, and the ECW fans are presumably screaming.

Backstage, RVD is stretching out ahead of his match. Elsewhere, Lesnar does push-ups. Video package time, as I note we still have 90 minutes for half the card, so the remaining matches should go long enough. Apocalyptic themes and visuals for Lesnar’s many rampages, and RVD is the little guy standing in his way. Big focus on Heyman’s claim that he “made” Van Dam, and the Van Terminator to Heyman later. It was alright.

Rob Van Dam (c) vs Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman (WWE Intercontinental Championship)

Van Dam gets the biggest reception of the night so far in his home state. Lesnar grabs the belt and puts in on his shoulder ahead of the bell, then chucks it back at the Champion, nice. Lock-up, and Van Dam tossed back. RVD back with forearms, then walks into a fireman’s carry slam. Lesnar laughing as he lands some kicks, into the corner, strikes, Van Dam firing back with strikes and kicks, somersaults over Lesnar on a charge, that gets the crowd going, then gives him a drop toe-hold into another corner then drop-kicks him out, and the crowd is enjoying this.

Lesnar throws a tantrum at ringside as Heyman tries to calm him down, and Lesnar is back in at the count of eight. Shoulder to Van Dam, and then a sweep unsettles Lesnar. Low drop-kick, another, but when Van Dam tries a headlock he gets lifted up and tossed. On a big clothesline attempt Van Dam ducks and Lesnar flies out of the ring. Van Dam tries to follow-up with a crossbody over the top, caught, but counters an attempt to throw him into the ringpost to big cheers. Tries the crossbody spot again, caught again and powerslammed onto the ground, big thunk and the crowd audibly winced. Back in, two, crowd popping huge for any bit of RVD offence.

“RVD” chants as Lesnar picks Van Dam and gives him an elevated gutbuster. Stomps, clubbing shots and the crowd is now silent. Another big gutbuster as Heyman watches admiringly. Big belly-to-belly suplex, stomps, looking for a powerslam, Van Dam out of it, hits a stepover heel kick. Van Dam with kicks as Heyman screams in horror, Van Dam with a boot up on a corner charge, goes for a standing moonsault, Lesnar ducks, and on a Van Dam charge Lesnar just chucks him out of the ring, jeez they do overtime in making Lesnar look powerful, huh? To the outside, Lesnar throws Van Dam into the apron, the ringsteps, then back in. Charles Robinson tells him to get back in the ring: “I don’t give a fuck”.

Big Brock applies a big bear hug as Heyman screams “SQUEEEEEZE” repeatedly. RVD battling out of it, then chucked into the corner, repeat, then into an abdominal stretch, with a few shots added for good measure. Released after a little bit, Van Dam out of a corner charge, corner spear, back flip, ducks a clothesline and lands that martial arts kick off the second rope. Low drop-kick, then an apron leg-drop with the help of the ropes. To the top, martial arts kick to the face, crowd getting into this now. Rolling Thunder gets two. “DON’T LOSE!” cries Heyman.

Lesnar floored with a spinning heel kick, Van Dam to the top, intercepted into a fireman’s carry position, and the place explodes when RVD counters the F-5 into a Tornado DDT, the first person to do so. Huger “RVD” chants,. To the top, Van Dam lands the Five Star, but Heyman pulls the ref out at two. Robinson is incensed, and calls for the bell in just over nine-and-a-half.

Winner (by DQ) (and still WWE Intercontinental Champion): Mr Monday Night

Verdict: It was OK at the start, got hot at the end, then they ruined it with the inevitable non-finish. The F-5 reversal was the highlight, and the crowd reacted more to that than anything Lesnar and Heyman were selling. A little bit better than the KOTR match I suppose.

Little Naitch and Heyman in a shoving match, Van Dam surprises Mr Extreme with a Baseball Slide, and Robinson starts laying into Heyman! Lesnar takes out Van Dam and throws Robinson off Heyman, only to eat a rope-rope somersault tope from Van Dam! Big “RVD” chants as we head back in, superkick and Van Dam grabs a chair. Lesnar sitting in the corner, Van Dam to another, but Heyman prevents the Van Terminator. RVD tries to fight Heyman off, allowing Lesnar to throw him off the corner. He sets up the chair, F-5 onto it and Big Brock is left standing tall. Take that Michigan native!

Backstage, Bischoff and Coach are still outside Stephanie’s office, when the woman herself exits. She and Bischoff are face-to-face, and from the look on her face Eric can tell things didn’t go so well. McMahon surprises Bischoff by saying “He signed”. She leaves, and out comes Triple H. Bischoff admonishes him for signing a contract, HHH gets in his face, and in fairness to Bischoff he doesn’t back down, nice moment. Haitch reveals the papers he just signed were divorce papers, and as far as he business goes, he hasn’t made up his mind yet. He leaves, and Bischoff is left telling Coach “He’s mine”. This is an awful lot of time for an awful lot of nothing, but I liked how they portrayed Bischoff here.

The Big Show vs Booker T (No DQ/NO Count Out)

Highlights of the earlier encounters between these two during Show’s entrance. If Booker loses I riot. He’s introduced by Fink, I swear to God, as “Boooker Meee!”. T with kicks from the off, until TBS just catches and slams him, nice. Into the corner, Show with knees to the mid-section then a big throw. Some strikes from T, but gets caught off with a headbutt. Clubbing blow, a stepover, and the crowd sounds a little hostile for this one.

Show going for a powerslam, Booker out of it, kicks, leg caught and T just about able to get the elevation for an enziguri. TBS back with a big clothesline, stomps, into the corner, open hand chop, then T clotheslined out. He grabs a chair, goes for a shot but Show just bats it out of the swing, nice. Booker sent into the ringsteps, then the ringpost, then a clothesline against the ringpost. Crowd just isn’t biting on this one so far. T dodges a charge so Show eats the ringpost himself, then there follows a few head smashes. Booker with chops, knocks into a cameraman, then chokes TBS with a camera wire. Daniel Bryan is watching on and crying.

The Spanish announce team is sent packing as the two brawl around that desk, and Show eats a monitor shot as the table is cleared. Booker ascends to the top, and Show waits patiently to take a Scissors Kick “through” the table. I mean, it was really Booker going through the table when you think about it, but it gets a “Holy Shit” chant from the crowd all the same. “Booker T” chants as we get replays and the man himself gets back in the ring. No count out though, as per the rules. Big Show up and follows Booker back in.

Shots from T, a boot, but then caught by the throat. Goozle! T battles out of the Chokeslam attempt and lands a low blow. Another Scissors Kick, to the top with Show prone, and T lands a Harlem Hangover! Damn that looks awesome, and it’s enough for the win in just under six.

Winner: Booker T, who struggled with this one but made the crowd explode right at the end. That’s what this company needs right now.

Verdict: It was rubbish for the most part, with Show really not looking fit to be in this sort of spot right now. But then T pulled it out, and we haven’t seen the Hangover in a while.

Booker gives us the biggest Spinarooni he can manage and exults in his victory. Cut to Times Square, where Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie are your hosts. Wilson brings up winning the Golden Thong award in that very building. She plugs the main event, and suggests The Rock will win. Marie disagrees, and promotes The Undertaker. They get into argument about the Golden Thong award, and JR thankfully cuts them off before things can get too stupid.

Back in the arena out comes Triple H, who gets his full entrance. He milks in the love for a second but before he can say anything out comes Bischoff. He tells “Hunter” that he wants to apologise for getting involved in his personal business. But one clear advantage that he has over Stephanie is that in Raw, between him and HHH, it’ll be all business. He’s not the most sensitive guy in the world, but above all else he’s a businessman. He’s got a network in Hollywood, and he knows everyone is looking for the next Rock, and everyone is talking about HHH (wow, that never went anywhere, huh?). If Haitch signs with Raw, he’ll get franchise big screen opportunities (hmm, MCU maybe?).

Now Stephanie McMahon is out, and the crowd goes mild. She tells Bischoff to shut up, and says the Game’s personal history with her is a positive. She has faith and respect in his abilities (really?) and they were unstoppable before. They can be again, even if it is strictly business. Bischoff interrupts to say he’s sick of the sob story of their divorce, and he doesn’t need a personal relationship with Triple H to work with him. Stephanie bites back that HHH got fired by Bischoff years before after the Raw GM saying he had no charisma and no talent, but Bischoff bites back saying he was young and it was a long time ago. Stephanie is going to stop at nothing to make Smackdown the most successful show on TV. This has rapidly turned into the Stone Cold segment from a few months ago with Flair and McMahon hasn’t it?

It’s Triple H’s turn, and he says he never asked to be in this position. He’s free to negotiate, and he’s stuck between an arrogant prick and the woman “most consider a cold hearted bitch” and the crowd pop for that because of course they do. He could tell Bischoff “Screw you”, or he could tell Stephanie “Screw you” and quite frankly “I know she likes it”. Ugh, why, why, why. Face Stephanie is going to need to be distanced from this crap. Anyway, he’s made his decision, fakes out shaking hands with Bischoff, and declares he’s going to go with the devil he knows, but before he can make the declaration final out comes Shawn Michaels.

Big “HBK” chants and the man himself mugs to the crowd a bit before getting on the mike. He doesn’t want to cause any trouble or get in the middle of this triangle, but he did say he was going to come out at Vengeance and bring Triple H back to his buddies in the nWo. The problem is that the nWo is gone, and that gets surprisingly loud boos. That notwithstanding, HHH has a dilemma in picking between Raw and Smackdown. He wants Haitch to consider two things, and we get an interruption for some “DX” chants to be acknowledged. Number one is friendship, and number two is fun. There’s nobody in the world who is a better friend to the Game than Shawn Michaels, and nobody he’s had more fun with. Triple H and Michaels should team up again, and make Bischoff’s life a living hell. All he has to do is come be part of Raw.

Triple H gets to respond, and admits it’s real tempting. Huge “DX” chants now. “Sorry Steph” and HHH embraces Michaels! Cue music. JR decides that Triple H is going to be on Raw tomorrow as the apparently re-formed DX walk off together and pose on the top of the ramp. Bischoff is left smiling in the ring, and tells “Ms McMahon” it looks like he wins and she loses. The big difference between him and Stephanie is he has “testicles” and she doesn’t. “Thanks for the biology lesson” says JR. The Smackdown GM slaps him down and walks off. Man, this segment just went on and on and on, huh?

Backstage Marc Lloyd is with Rikishi. He asks for his thoughts in Triple H signing with Raw. He’s shocked and disappointed (he is?). HHH was a locker room leader that the young guys looked up to, and he hopes he’s happy with his decision. He walks off. What was the point of this?

Elsewhere, Booker T is with Goldust when Terri walks in. Awkward. She asks about T’s reaction to Haitch’s defection. He says if the Game wants some, he’ll get his ass kicked. Goldust says Triple H may be the Game, but they’re the ones who have the bigger joysticks. “I’m going to ignore that”. T asks if we can dig that, sucka? This also seems a little pointless, bar another funny Goldust line.

Anyway, onto the penultimate match, and we get a video package. Hogan and, um, Edge were our American heroes in winning the Tag Titles, but then the Canadian Best Friends ruined everything, apparently. “VENGEANCE IS COMING”, OK that’s a bit of an extreme caption for this one. Rubbish package, but they were trying to cobble together an epic feud story from a story the two teams were only involved with together too late.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Edge (c) vs Lance Storm & Christian (WWE Tag Team Championships)

They Un-Americans are as yet unnamed, but think it’s coming soon. Storm on the mike to say that the reign of Edge and “the real American fraud” Hulk Hogan will come to an end. Like America, Hogan is past his prime and living on past glories (easy on the shoot there Lance). Christian adds that after the match they will head across the nearby border to escape. “My hero John Wayne will be spinning in his grave!” declares JR, that is a random shout-out. The cheers for Hogan on this occasion feel a little piped in.

Hogan and Christian to start. The “Hogan” chants feel realer now, what’s up with that? Lock-up, and Christian thrown back so far he ends up outside the ring. “We have to point out that Christian and Edge are brothers”, only for so long Jim. Back in, Storm distracts Hogan and allows Christian to get in a few licks. Storm in officially to help hit a double suplex, Hogan no-selling so he can hit a double clothesline, double headbutt spot, and then he starts working over Storm. Knockdown, hard rights, Edge joins in for a bit and then into the corner. Crowd now pretty quiet, I guess they want to see Team Canada on top for a bit.

Edge in, big Flapjack, running forearm, elevated punches in the corner, but Christian jumps in to knock Edge down. Storm hits a side kick, tag to Christian, stomps, backbreaker, two. Into a resthold, out of it and Christian hits a modified neckbreaker with the knee, two. Off the second rope with a fist, nobody home, Edge stopped briefly from getting the hot tag, but nails Christian with a enziguri then an interfering Storm with a faceplant.

Hogan in, clears house, big boot to Storm but Christian ducks the same, reverse DDT, two with a powerful kick-out. Hogan hulking up, this is happening early. Christian throws a tantrum when his punches are ineffective. Rights, big boot, Atomic Leg-Drop but Storm breaks up the count. Storm chucks him out, Christian up way too quick to hit a thumb to the eye and he knocks Hogan out of the ring too. Storm hits a Superkick on the outside and Christian retrieves the big man. So they’re re-starting the face-in-peril section then?

Beatdown on Hogan with the heels trading places, corner spears, Christian in for a duel beatdown, Edge goaded into distracting the ref for some rope chokes. Both heels in for an attack, but Hogan dodges an assisted corner splash and cleans out both heels. Hot tag #2 to Edge, now he cleans house, back body-drop to Storm, the same to Christian, corner spear to Storm, another to Christian, modified backslam on Storm gets two. Hogan dumps Christian out, Edge calling for a Spear bur Storm leapfrogs it and the ref takes it instead. Edge avoids a Superkick, Edge-A-Cution lands but no ref. Suddenly Test is here! He puts Hogan into the ringpost, Test into the ring, Big Boot to Edge, Storm gets the cover, the ref is suddenly conscious but only two on a slow count. Crowd is loud now.

Rikishi is out next because he is part of this feud, remember? Right? He attacks Test, and they fight up the ramp. In the ring, a counter chain leads to Edge hitting a Spear on Storm but Christian is on the apron distracting the ref, and in the melee that follows Chris Jericho is in the ring to hit Edge with he title belt! He leaves through the crowd, and Christian restrains Hogan for Storm to get the pin in just under ten.

Winners (and the neeeeewwww WWE Tag Team Champions): The Canadian Best Friends, justice is done.

Verdict: A bit oddly paced, I’d say to cover Hogan’s mix of wanting to do more on PPV with his physical limitations. Three separate interference spots in the last two minutes did not help matters, but at least we had the right winner. So, is Jericho with the Un-Americans then?

Team Canada celebrates as JR laments. Backstage, Kurt Angle heads for the ring when he gets intercepted by Eric Bischoff. He tells your Olympic Hero that he wants Angle on Raw, and asks him to think about it. Angle is flattered, but he has to focus on his match. “Win one for Raw!” shouts Bischoff. What, do they think we’re going to buy them gutting Smackdown of everyone worth watching?

Elsewhere, Marc Lloyd interviews Stephanie. She’s not happy about Bischoff winning the first battle, but she’s going to win the war. She’s in direct contact with every superstar on Raw, and when the time is right she’ll make her move, and rip the heart out of Raw. Lloyd is literally dismissed. As I recall Smackdown is easily going to get the better part of this horse-trading, at least in terms of good wrestlers.

JR and King run down some of what we have seen already tonight, then plug our main event. Video package time, that does a good job re-capping how we went from Undertaker/Rock to Undertaker/Rock/Angle. Your themes of the feud: Undertaker feeling disrespected, Angle making people tap out and Rock being, well, The Rock. “Downfall” is a good accompaniment to this actually.

The Undertaker (c) vs The Rock vs Kurt Angle (WWE Undisputed Championship) (Triple Threat)

Rock out first to a big ovation, as JR reminds us this is his first PPV match since Wrestlemania X-8. Big “You Suck” chants for Angle. Taker out on his bike and looking a little peaky actually, is he OK here? Staredown between all three, Angle gets annoyed when he is ignored, and away we go.

Taker and Rock beatdown Angle, big boot from Undertaker and Rock clotheslines him out. Deadman with shots to Rocky, into the corner, big rights, boots, elbow, looking for a back body-drop but countered into a facebuster. Whip chain ends with Taker’s leaping clothesline, a whip knocks Angle off the apron then Rock clotheslines the Champ out. Angle whips him into the ringsteps, then Rock takes Kurt inside.

Angle lands a German (“belly-to-belly” says JR, boo), stomps into the corner, foot choke, chops, Rock back with some of his own, until Angle now lands an actual belly-to-belly. “Angle Sucks” as Angle lands a second. Angle lambastes the crowd for a second and this allows Rock to counter another move into a DDT for two. Both men out for some ringside brawling, Angle sent into the ringsteps, then Rock whipped into the barricade. Taker gets back involved by flooring Angle with a clothesline, then starts beating down The Rock. Back in, Rock really doing most of the work so far, no breaks for him. Strikes in the corner, Taker’s offense so far has been pretty dull in comparison to his opponents.

Rock rallies back a bit before walking into a huge Sidewalk Slam for two. Angle cleared off the apron again, and then Taker gets taken by the throat! Chokeslam by The Rock! Wow, that’s new. Angle breaks up the count, stomps to Rock, strikes against the ropes, Rock back with a running clothesline, and puts on the Ankle Lock! Angle out quick enough, and nails a Rock Bottom! Undertaker stops the count, that was an interesting sequence.

Mean Mark with strikes to Angle, Angle looking for the Angle Slam, Taker out of it and nails his own! Rock breaks up the count as I wonder how all of these guy have so many double-finisher slots saved up this early. Taker floors Rock with an elbow, Rock kips right back up, clothesline to Undertaker, Angle sent over the top, spinebuster to the Champion, and The Rock is calling for it. The People’s Elbow connects but then Angle drags the Rock out, throws him onto the announce table, back in, but only two on a prone Undertaker. That was breathless for a second.

Strikes into the corner, Undertaker counters and lands some of his own, corner clothesline, Angle reserves a whip into the opposite corner but then Talker dodges the charge and Angle ends up on the outside, big enough bump. All three men on the outside, strikes from the Champ to Angle, then your Olympic Hero sent into the ringpost. The Rock appears, spits some water in The Undertaker’s face (“the People’s H20!”) before Taker comes back hard. The Rock’s head bounced off the announce table a few times, Deadman goes back to Angle, Angle set-up with his head over the apron and Undertaker lands a leg-drop. Anytime Undertaker is on offence things slow down way too much for what is so far a pretty good match.

Back inside proper, headbutt to Angle, who has bladed at some point. Taker calling for Old School, and nails it hard. The Rock in to break up the count, strikes to Undertaker, laying some smackdown, but then Taker comes roaring back with his running DDT for two, where I think Angle was meant to break it up but was nowhere to be seen, so Rock got the shoulder up just in time. Undertaker calling for the chokeslam, Angle suddenly in the ring with a chair, and Taker punches through it to take him out. Taker and Rock taking turns nailing Angle, who is eventually floored. Rock looking for the Rock Bottom, Undertaker out of it, looking for a chokeslam, Rock nails a low blow, and as he pushes off he knocks poor Earl Hebner over, I think unintentionally since the ref gets back up so quickly. Angle flattens Taker with a huge chair shot, Angle Slam to Rock, very slow cover of Taker, only two, slow cover of Rock, two. Crazy good sequence.

Angle calling for something big, and as he jumps up and down you can hear the ring squeaking, that’s new. Rock counters his attack into a double-leg takedown, and he locks in the Sharpshooter. Angle thinking about it, until The Undertaker nails Rock in the head with a big boot. Now he hits The Last Ride, but Angle breaks up the count and puts in the Ankle Lock! Undertaker thinking about it now, but eventually counters out of it. Looking for The Last Ride on Angle, but Angle counters it into a triangle choke! Taker puts it into a pin, but Angle gets the shoulder up at two, repeat, Taker picks him up and slams him down but Angle won’t let it go! Taker fading, one arm drop, two but The Rock takes Angle out before three. Big energy to this one now.

Rock looking for a Rock Bottom on Angle, Angle out of it and puts in the Ankle Lock again! Rock counters into a pinning predicament, two. Angle goes for a clothesline, Rock ducks and Taker catches him by the throat to deliver a big chokeslam! Rock ducks a strike to nail a Rock Bottom, but Taker kicks out at two! Crowd, and JR, are nuclear right now. Angle rolls up The Rock with the tights, two, Undertaker nails Rock with another big boot, Angle hits Taker with an Angle Slam, the straps come down, he picks Rock up but Rock hits another Rock Bottom! Cover, and The Undertaker is too slow to break it up in just under 20 minutes.

Winner (and the neeeewwwww WWE Undisputed Champion): The Rock, World Champ for the 7th time.

Verdict: Maybe not the greatest Triple Threat in history as JR proclaims it to be, but I enjoyed the hell out of this. Taker’s segments brought things to a crawl, but apart from those this was red-hot throughout, with some great spots, finisher stealing, submissions, false finishes, everything it needed. Probably the best PPV match of this recap so far, and definitely the best PPV main event.

The Rock celebrates in all four corners, replays and that will be all.

Best Match: The main event delivered, big time, and helped remind everyone that WWE still had plenty of gas in the tank when the right people were hooked up.

Best Wrestler: I’ll stick with the Triple Threat and say Angle, who helped carry Taker and looked phenomenal throughout. He’s got technical skill, power, heelery, ring intelligence, he’s amazing.

Worst Match: The Tag Title match, which had a strange pace and seemed to exist mostly to give the crowd the chance to cheer Hogan, excepting the title change of course.

Worst Wrestler: Man, Big Show looks rough.

Overall Verdict: I enjoyed this one, every match brought something to the table even if it was just a moment or two. The main event rocked, and we have a clearer road to Summerslam than I thought we would have had at the start of the show. This roster can still bring it, now they have to keep bringing it.

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

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1 Response to NFB Watches Wrestling #97: WWE Vengeance 2002

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

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