Judgment Day 2002
Date: May 19, 2002
Location: Gaylord Entertainment Center, Nashville, Tennessee
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
The company is ice cold coming into this show and I can’t imagine this is going to make things any warmer. Raw has turned into a mess with the old guys doing whatever they want while Smackdown is about Vince somehow failing to sleep with Stacy Keibler because he can’t just get a room somewhere. Let’s get to it.
The opening video is rather disturbing with a bunch of nooses and small children talking about death. What a great way to get me in a fun spirit for the show.
Intercontinental Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam
Van Dam is challenging in a rematch from last month’s title change. They start fast as you would expect with Eddie being sent outside in early frustration. Back in and Eddie tries to duck a crossbody but gets head faked, allowing Van Dam to drop a split legged moonsault for two. A tilt-a-whirl backbreaker keeps Eddie in trouble and we hit a surfboard. Lawler: “That looks more like my dating strategy.”
The announcers try their hands at Spanish as Eddie takes over with right hands in the corner. A monkey flip sends Eddie flying and stays on his back so Rolling Thunder can get two. It’s too early for a Five Star though as Eddie crotches him on the top. A powerbomb can’t set up Eddie’s frog splash though as Eddie spends a bit too long dancing on top.
Van Dam still can’t hit the Five Star though as Eddie moves away, leaving the announcers to wonder how to say RVD in Spanish. He can however hit a high crossbody for two (Lawler: “Mama Mia. Is that Spanish?”), followed by a backslide for the same. Ever the cheat though, Eddie grabs a backslide of his own and puts his feet on the ropes for the pin to retain.
Rating: B. Now why can’t these two get this kind of time on Raw? I know you can’t give a single match twenty minutes a week but would it kill them to have ten minutes on an episode of Raw and cut out one of the multiple matches that don’t even get three minutes because they don’t matter? Anyway, good stuff here, as you would expect from these two.
Reverend D-Von and Batista are with Vince and Stacy, the latter of whom they pray for before her match against Trish. Vince, who looks at Stacy while they’re praying and tells D-Von to wrap it up, asks if Bubba is going to be here. D-Von doesn’t think so, despite Vince saying Bubba would be here and Bubba being shown on the graphic.
GET THE F OUT! Did they only record that one gardening bit for the campaign?
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Stacy Keibler
Trish is defending and Lawler freaks out over her shorts. D-Von, Batista and Bubba come out after the entrances, leaving me time to wonder how we went from Trish vs. Molly to Trish vs. Stacy. Maybe because Stacy is more willing to wear leather shorts and a tied off leather top? Stacy kicks Trish in the head for two to start but gets pulled down into a Boston crab and they’re not even hiding what they’re going for with the visuals.
Trish gets in a kick of her own to knock Stacy outside, allowing her to slap Bubba in the face. Batista uses the distraction to slam Trish and give Stacy a two count. That’s finally enough for Trish as she baseball slides Stacy and hits a bulldog (more like the kind Jericho uses to set up the Lionsault) to retain. Stacy clearly had no business out there but to be fair they didn’t try to act like she did and got them out of there fast.
Bubba and D-Von get in a fight post match with Batista helping put Bubba through a table.
Vince comes in to see Ric Flair and Arn Anderson and the bosses share their hatred of Austin. Remember like two months ago when the company was split in half because of their feud?
Hardy Boyz vs. Brock Lesnar/Paul Heyman
Thankfully Heyman is in full body workout gear. The brothers are smart enough to take out the monster for all of ten seconds but don’t have Matt beat the tar out of Heyman or just roll him up while Jeff slows Lesnar down for reasons that aren’t clear. Brock saves his buddy and starts beating on Matt as the fans chant for Goldberg. Please, don’t make me think about that match.
The backbreaker has Matt reeling but he grabs a quick tornado DDT to scare Heyman half to death. Jeff gets the tag and everything breaks down with the brothers going after Heyman. Brock gets tired of these flies and throws Jeff into Matt, setting up the F5. Heyman comes in and grabs the pin like a chicken heel should.
Rating: D-. What were you expecting here? Lesnar really needs to move on to something else, though to be fair he squashed a great tag team more than once and they made him look like a monster. He needs to move way up the ladder in a hurry though because this sort of act is only going to work for so long.
Booker T. is now in an NWO shirt but cancels an interview to hit on a woman who just happens to be standing off camera. The woman has something in mind and gives Booker her hotel room key. I smell shenanigans.
We recap Steve Austin vs. Ric Flair/Big Show, which is just the latest Austin vs. McMahon clone. Flair and Austin have been fine on the talking but there’s just no heat to this feud because everyone knows it’s warmed over leftovers. They even show Austin vs. Vince clips in the build. Show is here because he’s mad about not being on Wrestlemania, which is of course Austin’s fault in wrestling logic.
Steve Austin vs. Ric Flair/Big Show
Based on the entrances, I’m pretty sure Flair isn’t in the NWO. I’m also fairly sure that Show’s low cut one piece women’s swimsuit attire is some of the dumbest gear of all time. Just have him in shorts and a Big Show shirt. Austin slugs away at both guys to start but decides to try a Figure Four on Show. Instead he has to knock Ric out of the air first and put him in the hold.
Show misses an elbow drop and Austin wisely grabs a chair. The referee takes that away so Austin gets another one and has a seat. We finally get started with Austin punching Flair out to the floor, meaning it’s time for beer. A tackle dropdown goes well for Austin and an exchange of chops give us a Flair Flop. Show comes in and because 2002 is a strange year, Austin isn’t sure what to do. His decision: push-ups. Not a fan of exercise, Show chops him down and throws Austin into the corner, allowing a tag to Flair for a low blow.
Flair goes up and is slammed right back down (JR: “From no man’s land to Parts Unknown!”) but Show comes back in with a powerslam. The team starts taking turns on the knee as this isn’t exactly thrilling. It’s not a bad match or anything but it’s just there. The idea of Flair taking someone’s knee apart has worked for years but I don’t buy the story behind the match and a match being just ok isn’t enough to make up for that kind of a downside.
Flair gets the Figure Four until Austin turns it over, only to have Show break that up as well. Austin’s back is fine enough for punches vs. chops, giving us WHAT vs. WOO in one of the more eye roll inducing chants. Austin starts in with the spinebusters as X-Pac comes out. Show no sells a Stunner for some reason but X-Pac’s missed superkick puts him down. Huh? The Stunner puts Flair away a few seconds later.
Rating: C+. The match was totally fine but it’s really hard to buy Austin in this midcard role. I know it’s one of the top stories on Raw but this is midcard level stuff at best. Austin vs. Flair isn’t interesting and Austin beating up the NWO week to week is even worse. Big Show and Booker T. are the big names in the division and there’s no reason either of them would be a real threat to Austin in the ring. What’s interesting about seeing Austin fighting midcarders like X-Pac? The feud was dead from the start and it feels like they’re wasting what Austin has left.
We recap Edge vs. Kurt Angle, which is over Edge messing with Angle’s new shirt. For some reason this set up a hair vs. hair match.
Kurt Angle vs. Edge
They start fast with Edge getting an early rollup and getting stomped in the ribs for his efforts. That’s fine with Edge who ties Angle up in the ropes for a spear, only to have Angle suplex him way over the top. Back in and a spinebuster gets two for Angle (not something you see him use that often) as the announcers discuss the shapes of the wrestlers’ heads.
We hit the chinlock for a bit before Angle pulls him down by the hair. That’s a nice little touch, albeit not the most subtle. Edge comes back with a belly to belly of his own (JR: “He ain’t wearing a hat!”) and an Edge-O-Matic gets the same. Angle is sent outside for a dive from Edge so it’s time for more suplexes. JR: “That suplex was finer than frog hair split four ways.”
An Edgecution gets no cover for no logical reason as Edge goes up top, allowing Angle to hit a great looking pop up superplex. Edge DDTs him out of the corner for two of his own but spears the referee by mistake. That means the spear only gets two on Kurt, who spears Edge right back. The Angle Slam looks to set up the ankle lock but Edge small packages him for the pin.
Rating: B. These two work really well together and it’s a great way to make Edge look like a star as he pinned a former World Champion clean to win the feud. The company really needs some fresh stars in the main event scene and Edge makes as much sense as anyone else. As usual, Angle can make people look great and that’s so valuable in wrestling.
Angle goes after Edge but gets an Edgecution. It takes too long to get him to the chair though and Kurt escapes.
We go to the Marriott where Booker is in bed. The woman joins him and the lights go out….so Goldust can say he wants Booker to leave the NWO and come back to him. The lights come back on and Goldust is in bed with them. Booker runs off with his underwear hanging down. Goldust: “I bought this nightgown for nothing!” They mentioned that Goldust planned the whole thing but I could go for him just randomly appearing in the room with them. It suits him that way.
The Cell is lowered.
We recap HHH vs. Chris Jericho. These two have feuded since Wrestlemania with HHH winning almost all of the matches. HHH then went after Vince, who set this match up as punishment.
HHH vs. Chris Jericho
Even with a lower level match like this, it’s cool to see the Cell in any form. HHH starts in with the knee and some right hands in the corner. They head outside so neither can be sent into the cage, followed by Jericho’s flying forearm to take over. Jericho misses a charge into the post though and HHH takes him outside for a whip into the cage wall. Neither can keep an advantage again though as Jericho whips HHH over the corner for another crash to the floor. HHH comes right back with a whip to send Jericho’s bloody arm into the steps. At least they’re bringing the violence early on.
The Pedigree onto the steps is countered into a catapult into the cage wall. Since the Cell isn’t enough, Jericho brings in a ladder to smash HHH in the face, drawing more blood. Jericho throws the ladder over the top at HHH in a spot that always looks good. I’m actually surprised by how much they’re giving Jericho here. I know it’s HHH in a big match against an opponent he owns but they’re doing a really good job of making Jericho look strong here.
HHH’s chair shot doesn’t get him out of trouble but the drop toehold to send Jericho into the steps works a bit better. To make it a bit worse, HHH just throws the steps at Jericho for a painful sounding thud. Now we get to the bad part of the match as HHH whips Jericho into referee Tim White, knocking White off the apron and into the Cell. The bump badly hurt White’s shoulder and basically ended his in ring career.
Jericho beats White up even more (if he wasn’t hurt before, he is now) and busts him open for a rare visual. Since White has the key, the other referees have to cut the door open to check on White. That’s enough for HHH and it’s time for a sledgehammer off Jericho’s head. No referee of course though so Jericho crawls out of the Cell, continuing the running joke of THE CELL DOESN’T WORK.
They head to the announcers’ table (of course) where Jericho loads up a Pedigree (of course) but HHH counters (of course) into a DDT through the table. HHH pulls out the barbed wire 2×4 and Jericho goes up the Cell wall with HHH following. For reasons of pure stupidity, HHH THROWS THE BARBED WIRE UP BOARD UP FIRST, allowing Jericho to take it away and hit HHH in the back.
With HHH’s back busted open, we hit the Walls of Jericho on the roof, meaning a referee has to climb up. You know, because now falls count on top of the Cell. HHH kicks away and hits Jericho low, followed by a barbed wire shot. A Pedigree onto the roof (that was scary) finally ends Jericho.
Rating: B. That’s probably the best HHH vs. Jericho match ever and it’s really not great. They did a much better job of making me believe Jericho could pull it off, which is something these two have never been able to do. I mean, would you believe that this Jericho could beat HHH in a major match? That being said, this still felt like it was missing a big chuck in the middle. They did the Jericho beatdown but then they were on the outside for the final act. It’s still good though and an acceptable blowoff, though it would have been fine as a regular cage match.
Angle runs from Edge in a goofy looking chase.
Get The F Out, set to Mark Henry’s Sexual Chocolate theme and taking place in the back of a steamy car. At least that answers my question.
Maven and Torrie go on a date at WWF New York. Mutual nakedness is implied.
Tag Team Titles: Billy and Chuck vs. Rikishi/???
Welcome to the death slot. Billy and Chuck are defending and Rikishi’s mystery partner is……Rico. This is officially Vince’s decision so he indeed likes the wacky partners. Billy’s DDT has no effect on Rikishi to start but Rikishi’s charges misses both champs. Rico won’t tag in though and the champs take over in the corner.
Chuck gets a rather impressive overhead belly to belly for two as the fans aren’t exactly caring, meaning the death slot is living up to its name. The big man fights back again with some Samoan drops before sitting on Chuck’s chest for two. A HORRIBLE looking one man 3D (which JR calls a headbutt in mid air, which is probably closer than what Rikishi was going for) gets two on Billy but Rico kicks Chuck by mistake. Rikishi kicks Chuck as well and gets the pin for the titles. No reaction or anything, but he got the titles.
Rating: F. The story is tired, the result is predictable and the match sucked. I’m really not sure what else you were expecting here as Rikishi is somehow the old veteran on Smackdown. Hopefully this isn’t a long reign and we can get ANYONE else as better champions sometime soon.
Angle attacks Edge (instead of LEAVING) and brings him back to the arena. Edge reverses into a sleeper and Angle gets the big haircut. Edge wants the new chant to be YOU’RE BALD and it sounds as bad as it seems.
We recap Hulk Hogan vs. Undertaker, which is a game of how bad can we really make this. Undertaker won a match last month to become #1 contender and they’ve messed with each others’ motorcycles since. The question tonight is how embarrassing can Hogan actually be with Undertaker having to carry the match.
Undisputed Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Undertaker
Undertaker is challenging and has Hogan’s weightlifting belt. As always, Hogan takes too long coming in and gets whipped over the back. Hogan no sells (duh) and hammers away before doing a little whipping of his own. We get the opening bell and it’s time for Hogan do do his stuff while Undertaker does most of the selling, which is both the right call and a major stretch on Undertaker’s part.
Undertaker is whipped into the steps and things are made even worse when Old School is broken up. I’ll give them this: they’re three minutes in and Hogan hasn’t horribly botched anything yet, meaning we’re going well so far. Hulk actually hits a superplex (biggest spot he’s done in YEARS) for two before settling back in for some right hands.
A chop block gives Undertaker a target though and it’s time to slowly work over the knee. That of course means a few kicks to the leg and laying on it in a leglock. Yeah it’s boring but it’s also one less thing they could horribly botch. Hogan fights up and hits the big boot but the legdrop is countered into a dreadful half crab. Some rights and lefts have Hogan in trouble, though I’m not sure what’s scintillating about them.
Undertaker grabs him by the throat and Hogan barely moves, leaving Undertaker to loudly shout JUMP before hitting one of the worst chokeslams you’ll ever see (This is COMPLETELY edited on the Network as Hogan not moving is edited out along with Undertaker shouting. It’s also a different camera angle.).
That’s enough for the Hulk Up and the usual gets two for the champ. The running DDT gets the same for Undertaker as this is actually picking up a bit. Cue Vince as Hogan kicks a chair into Undertaker’s face and drops another leg for no cover. Instead Vince is dragged in for a legdrop of his own but Undertaker cracks Hogan with the chair. The chokeslam (better but still bad) is enough for the pin and the title.
Rating: D. The best thing they could have done here was keep this pretty short (about twelve and a half minutes) instead of having either guy out there for the marathons they had back at Backlash. Undertaker is a shell of his glory days at this point but he’s WAY ahead of Hogan and isn’t as likely to embarrass himself in the ring. Boring and familiar is much better than the nightmare that was watching a Hogan match so this was the only possible call in the options they had.
Vince is happy and Undertaker gets in some more chair shots for revenge to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. There’s an important lesson to be learned here: as bad as WWE can be around this time, there is good stuff worth checking out. Van Dam vs. Guerrero, the Cell match, Austin vs. Flair/Show and Edge vs. Angle were all good to very good matches. That’s half the card and a big chunk of the show that can be considered entertaining. Unfortunately there’s everything else and that stuff starts at horrible and goes downhill from there. I don’t think this changes much about TV going forward but at least we had a good two hour and forty minute show to enjoy.
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