Let the McMahon era begin in earnest…no, the other one. It’s the 25th July 2002 (filmed on the 23rd) and we’re in the Conseco Fieldhouse of Indianapolis, Indiana for episode #154 of WWE Smackdown! Your main event tonight: Chris Jericho vs Edge inside a solid steel cage!
New Attitude splash, and a special intro from Stephanie McMahon. A new era is beginning on “Smack, smack, smack, smack Smackdown”. That was weird. We’re getting Rey, Rey, Rey Mysterio and The Rock, Rock, Rock is challenging for the tag titles with Hulk Hogan, Hogan, Hogan. Wait, what? Brock, Brock Brock Lesnar Lesnar Lesnar is also here. There’s going be action, action, action. OK, I made that last part up. This was super dumb, the kind of nonsense good only for parody.
“Beautiful People” and straight into our opening contest, sans pyro.
Kurt Angle vs Mark Henry
Battle of former Olympians here. Lock-up, Henry flings Angle back. Lock-up, Angle into a German position, nothing doing and Angle hurts his back before walking into a Scoop Slam. Lock-up, Angle gets a leg-based takedown, but Henry gets up and is able to lift Angle into the top rope in a mocking way. Kurt looking a little pissed, now moves to strikes, only to eat an elbow off a charge. Press Slam, Angle dodges a corner charge, and now able to hit a reverse suplex for two. Strikes, Henry back with a big clothesline, a second, Henry tries the corner charge again and gets the same result. He’s still able to land a powerslam right after, then nails a corner splash. Suddenly Brock Lesnar is in the ring for some reason, and after he attacks Henry the ref calls it in just under three.
Winner (by DQ): Mark Henry, who was being made to look good before getting punked out by Brock.
Verdict: It was fine up until the non-finish.
Shots to Henry, then a big F-5. Lesnar, with Heyman, walks off triumphant. Angle looks pissed, and stomps to the back. Backstage, Angle confronts Lesnar. Big Brock says he was just trying to help Angle out, and your Olympic Hero is unimpressed. Lesnar says he was hoping to face Angle at Summerslam, but Angle blew it. Now, he’s here to take over as Smackdown’s #1 one guy. Staredown, and Angle stomps away. Heyman is delighted. Both guys looked crazy intense here, and I liked this set-up of Lesnar as the hungry young lion coming for a perhaps busted flush in the form of Angle. Looking forward to seeing these two go at it, however long I have to wait.
Elsewhere a pair of legs with Stacey Keibler attached walk to Stephanie’s office, and if you think that description is sexist I’m just going by WWE’s camerawork. In she goes, and after Stephanie gets off the phone Stacey tells her that Vince has dispensed with her services, and the new GM says he’s probably already being serviced elsewhere. Yuck, yuck, yuck. The door knocks, Stephanie says Stacey can make herself useful by getting it, and it’s a delivery of flowers from someone. The note says “Smackdown’s loss is Raw’s gain, see you tonight, Eric”. The flowers go against the wall. I guess we’ll be seeing more of this Bischoff/Stephanie thing then.
Reverend D-Von w/Batista vs The Big Valbowski w/Hardcore Holly
They’ve dropped the “Deacon”, which bodes badly for D-Von’s prospects with this guy you’d have to say. Lock-up, TBV with strikes into the corner, corner smash, corner clothesline, bit of a squash so far. Elbow to the head, Scoop Slam, knee drop, two. D-Von back with a jawbreaker, then eats an elbow, then Cactus Clotheslined out of the ring. Batista helps the Reverend back into the ring to Holly’s general annoyance. Valbowski in, D-Von in charge now, lands his spinning elbow, strikes in the corner, knee to the throat and have to say the crowd could care less about any of this.
D-Von with a running snapmare, Scoop Slam, to the second rope, and nobody home on an elbow drop. Big stiff clothesline floors D-Von, hard rights, back body-drop, Fisherman’s Suplex, but Batista pulls Valbowski out of the pin. That’s the signal for Holly to attack Batista, in the ring Valbowski counters out of a DDT to land a Blue Thunder Bomb for the win in just over three.
Winner: Valbowski, “with a big win” says Cole, only it isn’t really.
Verdict: Fine, quick match, nothing really in it. Are they going anywhere with the God Squad?
Batista floors Valbowski in the aftermath, then a big spinebuster to Holly. The God Squad stands tall. Tag next week then?
Backstage, Stacey addresses some blue clad security men about how important their job is tonight. She just catches Edge sneaking away from the arena, and sends security after him. A call to Stephanie leads us to believe that they are worried Edge is defecting to Raw. Not bloody likely.
“Earlier today”, Lance Storm and Christian gloried in their Tag Title win, doing it in an “un-American” way by working hard and earning it. Tonight, they will beat the two American icons. Hogan is a real American: “lazy, stupid and ignorant”. Storm is confident they will be Champs for a long time. I hope so anyway. I’m guessing The Rock wasn’t free for a proper pre-match set-up.
Back in the present day, the security mooks are detaining a bemused Edge when Stephanie rocks up. She wants to know if he’s heading off to Raw, but Edge assures her he is Smackdown through and through. He likes her vision for Smackdown, and he has something to show her. He takes her to a nearby production truck, and he tees up a Chris Jericho highlights video. It’s a countdown clock between now and the end of the show, and sometime in-between he gets to beat up Jericho in a steel cage. Weird set-up for very little reward.
An ad for Summerslam, which features grown men fawning over Trish Stratus’ breasts. OK then.
Edge’s timer now appears intermittently in the upper right corner of the screen, so that’s something. Feels like an episode of 24.
Rikishi vs Albert
Remember when this was a feud on TV? It was dropped for a long time, and WWE cares so much about it now that we cut from Rikishi’s entrance to go backstage where Kurt Angle tells Marc Lloyd to “buzz off” because he’s on the phone. Lloyd tells us Angle was on the phone to someone named “Eric”, and I wonder if there are any Eric’s other than Bischoff that Kurt Angle could be talking to?
When we’re back Albert has hit the ring, and immediately floors Kish with a big Bicycle Kick, oof, that looked rough. He screams in premature triumph, and lays in some strikes in the corner. Kish back hard with his own, Albert reverses it again and man he is grunting like a champion. “What got into Albert?” “Anger”, great deadpan reply. Albert adds a few corner splashes that get the crowd going, Rikishi ducks a clothesline, some strikes but now goes down off a lariat. “Kurt Angle is the backbone of Smackdown, and without a backbone you can’t stand”, biologist Tazz is here.
Kish dragged over to the corner so Albrrt can land a big Vader Bomb, two, and Albert gets physical with the ref. Misses a corner splash this time, Rikishi nails a DDT, Samoan Drop, hip attack into the corner and Albert takes a seat. Crowd nuclear. Stink Face applied, Albert then walks into a Savate Kick, to the second rope for the Banzai Drop and that will be all in just under three.
Winner: Rikishi “with a big win”, and I’m not sure it is Cole.
Verdict: It was alright, they made Albert look very strong early on, and Kish got the win, so can’t ask for much more.
Rikishi celebrates at the top of the ramp with his hat. “Indianapolis wants the big man to get down” says Cole, like the whitest man alive. Commentary spends this time talking about how terrible it will be if Angle leaves. Sorry Rikishi!
Backstage Stephanie is with Lloyd, going over what he heard about Angle. She gives Kurt a call, and leaves a voicemail. Thrilling drama, here on Smackdown. She describes Angle as “the leader of the locker room” and a reminder that Angle has been heel for well over half a year at this point. She thinks she can do better than Bischoff for Angle. I guess we’ll see.
Promo for Rey Mysterio’s debut, now with his full theme song. “WHO’S THAT JUMPING OUT THE SKY R-E-Y MYSTERIO HERE WE GO”. Catchy stuff. That’s coming up later. Now for the Tag Tile match, which is not the main event for some reason.
Lance Storm & Christian (c) w/Test vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan and The Rock (WWE Tag Team Championships)
The Un-American still unnamed. I’m assuming they aren’t doing a title change here, and I doubt the faces are taking a fall, so non-finish shenanigans are inevitable. Piped in cheers for Hogan for sure this time, who isn’t out to “Real American” for some reason. Cole refers to the Vengeance main event as “the greatest Triple Threat in history”, and the ECW heads are weeping.
Hogan and Storm to start, because it’s Storm’s turn to take the lock-up of doom. Now the crowd seems properly loud, why do they think Hogan needs the help for his entrance? Big “USA” chants. Lock-up, Storm thrown back, naturally. Thumb to the eye, flying forearm gets Storm some room, but Hogan back with right hands and a big clothesline. Rock and Hogan take turns bonking Storm, and in comes the Champ legally. Big running clothesline, suplex, two. Storm back with a jawbreaker and in comes Christian. Stomps, foot choke, then Rock levels him with another running clothesline. Belly-to-belly throw, Storm with a sneaky shot, Rocky clears him off but the distraction allows Christian to take the advantage with a spinning heel kick.
Storm in, another foot choke as the “USA” continue to thunder. Rock back with a Samoan Drop, Christian comes charging in only to get thrown out, Test cleared off the apron, spinebuster to Storm, looking for the “American made” People’s Elbow, but Test sends Rock out on a drawbridge spot. Looked rough. The Brahma Bull rolled back in, Storm gets two, Christian in, beatdown, Rock trying to rally back and hits a swinging neckbreaker. Test again interferes to drag The Rock out, and he gets dumped on the announce table with Christian distracting the ref. This beatdown goes on a bit longer than it really should.
Back in, Storm gets two, shots in the corner, Rock coming back with his own, looking for a Rock Bottom, Storm out of it, hits a clothesline, Hogan cleared off, Superkick to The Rock but Hogan in to break up the count. Hot tag to Hogan denied by Test pulling him off the apron. Great moment where Rock gets free of Christian, dives for his corner but there’s no-one there. No matter as Rock nails Storm with a DDT and now gets the hot tag.
Clearing house, double headbutts, but Christian avoids the big boot and the heels hit a double reverse suplex. Rock to hit Storm with a Rock Bottom, Test in to eat some smackdown laying, Christian hits Hogan with an Unprettier but Hogan kicks out with authority. Hogan hulking up, ignoring strikes, lays in some of his own, big boot, calling for the Leg-Drop and nails it, only for Brock Lesnar of all people to turn up and break up the count and draw the DQ in just under nine-and-a-half.
Winners (by DQ): The American heroes, who heroically don’t win the Titles.
Verdict: It was fine, good even, but this was a car with one bad tyre.
Hogan gets nailed with an F-5 and Brock departs smiling. The Rock looks furious as Lesnar does the title motion. Staredown. Ugh, is it too much to ask for a clean finish?
After the break, just over an hour left on Edge’s timer. Backstage, Heyman and Lesnar make their escape, and rock up to the nearest limo. It’s Hogan’s limo, and they threaten the driver into taking them away. “How come my agent don’t get me no limos?” muses Tazz. I don’t know Tazz, I just don’t know.
Commentary runs down the “chaos” that has engulfed the WWE since the GM announcements, but it’s still an “exciting time”. Anyway, time for an interview with John Cena, who is facing Test later. “Everyone knows Canadians get free healthcare, but if you look at Test you can tell they don’t get free dental care”. Oof. Cena calls Test a woodchuck, and the man himself arrives. They stare at each other with barley constrained lust, and Test lands a slap. Rated R this stuff.
Elsewhere, Stephanie McMahon runs into Chris Jericho. She needs to know that he’s happy on Smackdown. He’s ecstatic, plugs his Fozzy album out this week, and the clock is ticking down on Edge.
Elsewhere elsewhere, Rey Mysterio prepares for his debut, which is next.
Chavo Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio
Love that entrance where he appears out of the floor. They’ve been hyping this debut for ages now, so expecting big things. What’s Mysterio been doing since WCW went under? A bit of CMLL, a bit of HWA, a bit of WWC nothing major. I’m surprised its taken him this long to show up in the ‘E to be honest, but he’s going to be here for a while, that’s for sure. Lock-up, Chavo with a takedown, into a wristlock, then a monkey, flip, but an awesome counter see’s Mysterio put it into a predicament for two. Then a counter chain into a standing rana, and the crowd is liking this. Elbow to Guerrero in a charge, then into a Sunset Flip pin for two. Guerrero counters a Baseball Slide into a release German, nice, then hangs his opponent up on the ropes, and the crowd is briefly nuclear with heat.
Corner spears and into an abdominal stretch, with elbows. An attempt to transition into a slam is reversed into a crossbody, two, Mysterio to the top, but caught on another crossbody attempt with a drop-kick. Mysterio slid out of the ring with a thump, Chavo puts him into the apron then back in. Gutbuster for two, Mysterio back with a pop-up drop-kick, Guerrero to the outside and eats another Baseball Slide. Mysterio follows up with a corkscrew tope, a thing of beauty. Back in, Mysterio to the top but intercepted. Chavo cambers up after Rey, but is knocked down for his trouble. Mysterop drops the dime, running drop-kick to the head, but Guerrero back with a shot to the ribs. Mysterio out of a suplex attempt, into another awesome pinning predicament, two. Chavo sets Mysterio up and hits a Gory Bomb, but only two, take that finisher.
Chavo whips Rey into the corner, more shots to the mid-section, then etas a boot on a corner charge before being drop-toe-holded onto the ropes. Mysterio hits the “Six-Nineteen” as Cole calls it, springboard rana into the pin and that’s the 1, 2, 3 in just under six.
Winner: The King of Mysteries
Verdict: Good stuff, they gave it time to breath and Mysterio impressed as you would fully expect him to.
Commentary hypes the main event. Backstage Test walks towards the ring before running into Rey Mysterio. Angered, he flings Rey into a garage door and tells him to “go back to kindergarten, kid”. OK. Important to note that Mysterio is one year older than Test. I guess this sets up a match for next week then. Recap of the Test/Cena interaction from earlier. Lot of Test in this show. That match is next.
Test vs John Cena
Cena in like a house on fire and gets some stomps for his trouble. Elbows in the corner, more stomps, then Cena thrown to the outside. Test shoves the ref, and misses Cena running in to hit a drop-kick, then a Bulldog, then shots in the corner. Test back with his own corner clothesline, shots, Scoop Slam, but nobody home on an elbow drop. Cena back with shots, Test back with a knee to the mid-section, Cena ducks a clothesline and hits a DDT. One of these guys showcasing some wrestling talent anyway. “Woodchuck” chants, so Cena accomplished that. He also dodges a corner charge, ducks another clothesline and lands a running forearm. Corner splash, Test back with a boot, looking for a Pumphandle but Cena counters into his lifting, spinning slam for two, nice. Now Test lands the Pumphandle, two, Test arguing with the ref because this is somehow still his plotline half a year removed from his “immunity” schtick, shoves him around, the ref shoves back and it ends up as a Big Match John roll-up for a near fall. Test looking for a powerbomb, countered into a roll-up and that will be all in three-and-a-half.
Winner: John Cena, on a streak of two wins.
Verdict: Standard Smackdown TV match really: short, high-paced, lots of roll-ups, and a little let down by trying to make everyone look good.
An annoyed Test hits his Big Boot after the bell and stands tall, because 50:50. Commentary hypes the main event as the cage is lowered.
Backstage, the dynamic duo of Stephanie and Stacey still can’t get in contact with Angle. The GM leaves another message demanding an answer, and further demands Angle tell her his decision to her face, “after all we’ve been through”. After all we’ve been through? What, Kurt perving on her in 2000?
Edge vs Chris Jericho (Steel Cage Match)
Footlocker presents Summerslam from Tazz’s “neck of the woods” in Long Island. We get an ad-break during Y2J’s entrance, and when we’re back the two are already going at it, now that’s bad editing. Jericho on top, with replays of Edge using a Baseball Slide to hit Jericho with the door. In the present Edge hits a drop-kick, stops Y2J from going through the door – such a dumb rule – and then sends Jericho into the cage a few times. Jericho back with some head smashes in the corner, hard whip to the opposite but Edge explodes out with a clothesline, nice.
Edge with chops, corner whip leads to Jericho going for the escape, Edge drags him back down after a few attempts, stomps, chops, lots of “Edge” chants, kick to the head and somehow Jericho ends up tied up in the ropes. Edge takes the opportunity to hit a Spear, but when he goes for another a no-selling Y2J escapes and dodges, and Edge crashes and burns. Some flings into the cage, taunting the crowd instead of escaping because heels are dumb, and somewhere in all of this Edge has bladed. Face rake onto the cage, rope choke, hip attack, cocky cover, two. Into the corner, chops, Edge trying to rally back but walks into a reverse DDT for two. Now Edge tied up in the ropes, strikes as Tazz describes Jericho using Edge as a “punching bulublublub”, what was that about? Jericho goes for his own spear, but Edge out and now Y2J crashes and burns.
Edge with a few takedowns, modified faceplant, two. Jericho back with his takedown, nobody home on the Lionsault. Edge with a roll-up, two again. Jericho somehow gets back on top, not really selling tonight, Edge set-up on top, Y2J follows, and somehow Edge lands an Avalanche Facebuster! Only two though. When both are back up Jericho goes for the Walls then decides a Slingshot onto the steel is a better idea. Jericho going for the door, Edge drags him back, but not before Jericho is somehow able to grab a chair, how did he find that? Big shot, Edge somehow kicks out of the resulting cover, Jericho looking for another, Edge ducks and lands a Spear, but only two. Treating this with a PPV energy it has to be said.
Edge starts to climb even though the door is right there because faces are dumb, Jericho up after him and lands a low blow. Avalanche Bulldog sends both men flying, wow! Jericho eventually back up, climbing, gets to the top, only now is Edge moving, Y2J having some trouble, and Edge catches him just in time to pull him back in. They end up in an Electric Chair position, and Edge lands it from the top, big, big moves being busted out here. Both men motionless for a bit, then Jericho crawling to the door as Edge climbs in the opposite corner, and Edge hits the floor first in just over 13.
Winner: Edge, making up for being wasted on PPV covering Hogan.
Verdict: Had that PPV feel throughout, maybe a bit too much of a spotfest, but it certainly made Edge look strong.
Edge barely has time to get to his feet when the Canadian Best Friends arrive to attack! Back into the cage, and it’s a four-on-one beatdown. But suddenly here’s John Cena, but that damn numbers game is too much. Rey Mysterio is out to join the fun next, climbs to the top of the cage, and nails a huge air crossbody to Storm and Christian! Test has him up for a powerbomb, but Rey rana’s out and nails a big drop-kick. The faces clean house, Jericho flees for his life and the good guys are left standing tall.
Of course that can’t be the end of the show as we cut to Stephanie watching backstage with Billy Kidman of all people. Stacey suddenly arrives, and tells her that Eric Bischoff is in the parking lot. We cut back to the ring so we can see the faces celebrate, the cuts are all over the place here tonight. Cole describes the three faces as “the future of Smackdown”, and I suppose they were.
In the parking lot Stephanie advances on a limo, demanding Bischoff leave. He pokes his head through the sunroof, flashes that winning smile and tells her it’s good to see her. He insists he’s knocked her out and drives off, hinting there’s someone in the car with him. Steph looks pissed, only for Kurt Angle to walk up behind her and ask what’s going on like the worst kind of comedy skit. He reveals he was talking to his brother Eric, duh. But if he wasn’t in the limo, then who is!? That’s all we’ve got time for. Why do we have to end shows like this?
Best Match: Mysterio/Guerrero was a well booked introduction for a guy who is going to be making some serious waves in the ‘E for years to come.
Worst Match: Test/Cena was probably the worst out of a number of humdrum matches.
Best Wrestler: Edge looks more and more like a guy ready for the main event every time that I see him.
Worst Wrestler: I’m just going to be the Spirit of America and rest here in the corner, OK brother?
Overall Verdict: I liked a few things about this show, but overall it was a bit messy: a lot of strange story-line choices, some average matches and still stuck on this stillborn Stephanie/Bischoff feud. Still, there are things progressing.
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