Monday Night Raw – July 29, 2002

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 29, 2002
Location: Greensboro Coliseum, Greensboro, North Carolina
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re officially in the HHH Era on Raw but unfortunately he doesn’t really have a lot to do yet. Last week HHH debuted on the show and turned heel by beating up Shawn Michaels, but there’s absolutely no way that’s going to lead to a match anytime soon of course. With about a month left before Summerslam, the card is in need of some matches in a hurry. Let’s get to it.

The opening recap looks at Shawn and HHH from last week, which is almost the only thing worth talking about. At least it wasn’t Stephanie vs. Eric again.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Bischoff to get things going and he’s already talking about Stephanie. She stole Lesnar last week and this week he’s got a knockout of his own. Here are the newest members of the Raw roster: Christian, Lance Storm and Test, the Un-Americans. So….what about that whole building up tag teams over on Smackdown? Total waste of time for the sake of Stephanie vs. Bischoff? Good to know.

Storm points to the upside flag Test is carrying, which stands for America being in distress. Let’s look at some of those American icons, such as Elvis Presley, a fat drug addict who died on the toilet. We hear similar complaints about Marilyn Monroe, Babe Ruth and John Wayne (JR: “NOW WAIT A MINUTE!”). The champs don’t think much of America, save for Bischoff of course.

A fired up Shawn Michaels of all people cuts them off and says he wants to exercise his rights as an American citizen to beat HHH from one side of this arena to the other. Shawn doesn’t want to hear from some Canucks who are still mad that he beat up Bret Hart. If Bischoff doesn’t bring HHH to him, he’ll go find HHH himself. Storm says Shawn will get what’s coming to him. Did Shawn really need to come out here at this point? It’s not like these segments couldn’t be split up.

Bischoff is talking to Eddie Guerrero when a messenger comes up and says a woman in a limo has sent for him. Eric isn’t interested and says she can wait. I’m thinking…..Linda?

Booker T. vs. Eddie Guerrero

Booker starts fast with a flapjack for an early near fall as Lawler wants to know what happened to Booker’s bad back. Fair question actually. Eddie remembers it as well and forearms Booker in the back to take over. A one armed camel clutch keeps Booker in trouble and it’s time for some Spanish trash talk.

Eddie unhooks the turnbuckle pad and it’s time for the comeback, including a clothesline for two. As expected, Booker sends Eddie pretty close to the buckle (it wasn’t clear if he knew about the pad being gone) and hits an ax kick to the side of the head (Eddie wasn’t bent over) for the pin.

Rating: C. The ending was a bit off but the match got a little more time than usual and let Booker get a win instead of losing all over again. There’s quite the midcard being built around here and they actually have a title to fight over. If one of them could, I don’t know, head towards the main event, things might get interesting for a change.

Moolah and Mae Young are in the limo.

Shawn goes HHH hunting but finds Booker and Goldust instead. Booker isn’t cool with Shawn throwing him out of the NWO but Shawn says it was business. That sounds like an invitation to a fight and Goldust can dig that. Sucka.

Trish Stratus/Bubba Ray Dudley vs. William Regal/Molly Holly

Rematch from last week but Regal is injured, meaning we have a replacement.

Trish Stratus/Bubba Ray Dudley vs. Big Show/Molly Holly

Lawler slips up and implies that Molly is good looking before remembering to be a face and pretend she’s overweight. Molly takes Trish down to start but Big Show misses an elbow, meaning we get the Show vs. Bubba match that we were all waiting for. Bubba’s bad arm gives him away though and it’s Show taking over without too much trouble.

The women come in again with Trish getting two off the Chick Kick, allowing JR to mention that Molly doesn’t spend too much time on her back. Molly tries to go after Bubba, earning her a quick dance. Show saves What’s Up but takes some steps to the head, leaving Molly to get caught in a Doomsday Device for the pin.

Rating: D+. Nothing to see here, aside from some bad jokes at Molly’s expense. I’m still not sure where we’re going with Trish/Bubba but they’ve managed to come up with worse ideas before. I’m also looking forward o getting away from Trish vs. Molly because even Lawler is having issues remembering his stupid motivations here.

Show cleans house and sets up a table but Trish saves Bubba with some distracting chair shots.

Post break, Show yells at Shawn and mild threats are issued.

Ric Flair gives Jeff Hardy a pep talk when Bischoff comes in. Flair doesn’t think Jeff should risk his life for ratings every week, including in a hardcore match tonight with Bradshaw. On top of that, Ric has an announcement for later tonight. Moolah and Mae Young come in for a book plug and generally unfunny shenanigans. Bischoff will let them plug the book in the ring.

Hardcore Title: Jeff Hardy vs. Bradshaw

Jeff is challenging and now billed from just North Carolina for the cheap pop. Bradshaw knocks him around to start and gets two off a very hardcore elbow drop. A trashcan shot to the back looks to set up a powerbomb off the steps but Jeff backdrops his way out instead. It’s ladder time because that’s all Jeff knows how to do anymore. The ref gets bumped to keep this going and Bradshaw is knocked off the ladder. A Swanton in Bradshaw’s general area gives Jeff the pin and the title.

Rating: D. I hit you, you hit me, the finish sucks and does nothing for anyone. Hardy wins another meaningless title to go with his recent European Title win, meaning he’s likely losing this one by the end of the month at the latest. If nothing else I hope he does so we don’t have to see Jeff’s personalized title with his “artwork” included.

Johnny the Bull and Tommy Dreamer win the title.

Regal was faking his injury and goes off to get a massage. Benoit comes out of the green room and says he doesn’t need luck.

Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit is challenging. A fight over a wristlock goes nowhere as the announcers talk about Flair having a big announcement for later tonight. Benoit gets tired of the posing and kicks Van Dam in the ribs as the conversation moves on to a Shawn/HHH discussion. Rob kicks him in the face to set up a big dive over the top to really wake the crowd up.

Back in and Rob does his splits to set up a monkey flip, only to have Benoit score with a basement dropkick to the head. Van Dam goes shoulder first into the post as it’s time to set up for the Crossface. Benoit cranks on the arm and cuts off the champ’s comeback by sending him hard back to the mat.

The stepover kick to the face drops Benoit though and Rolling Thunder is good for two. Rob misses the Five Star and that means it’s time for the Crossface. A rope is reached but Benoit grabs the hold all over again. Van Dam rolls away but Benoit throws his feet on the ropes for the pin and the title.

Rating: B. Good stuff here and it’s a positive sign to have Benoit already with a title again so soon after his return. Van Dam will be back and you can almost guarantee a rematch from here. The wrestling was solid too with the story making sense all the way through. The arm work even played into the ending with Benoit going from the Crossface to the pin.

Shawn tells the door attendant to let HHH know that he’s waiting in the parking lot. Big Show is watching.

Moolah and Mae Young are in the ring with Bischoff saying they have three minutes. Bischoff actually dozes off as Moolah talks about some stories. Mae almost gets in a fight with Moolah….and here comes 3 Minute Warning. The women take a beating and NO ONE COMES OUT TO HELP THEM. Bischoff names the monsters as Jamal and Rosey.

After a break, with Mae being carted out, Bischoff says that when he snaps his fingers, things happen. Cue Undertaker to say this finger snapping thing could be interesting. Christopher Nowinski interrupts and makes the mistake of insulting the Undertaker. Let’s have a match.

Undertaker vs. Christopher Nowinski

Chris tries to talk his way out of this but gets sent into the corner. Undertaker charges into an elbow in the corner and Chris Harvard (JR’s name) hammers away, only to get caught with Old School. The Last Ride wraps it up quick.

Post match the Un-Americans come out for the beatdown, including a mostly messed up Conchairto. It’s so bad that they have to try a second time and still only barely graze him. How hard can it be to hit someone in the head?

After a break, the Un-Americans say they have one more piece of business.

Rock implies Coach slept with a cow and Coach makes the mistake of going down the rabbit hole. This prompts Rock to go into the full story, capped off sound effects and saying Coach likes to stick microphones up cows’ rectums. Coach: “Rock it was just one night.” Rock: “WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA! THE ROCK WAS KIDDING! Hey is that a cow over there?” Coach: “Where???”

Anyway, Rock is ready to give Brock Lesnar the beating he deserves but first, he’s facing Ric Flair in Flair Country. Rock talks about how big it’s going to be, says IF YA SMELL, waits for JR to talk about the match, struts on and off screen, and then says IS COOKIN. This was great in the way that only Rock can make something great.

Here’s HHH to address Shawn. It was HHH’s idea to have Shawn as his manager so they could take over the WWE together. Shawn doesn’t understand that his time is over and it’s not about him anymore. All the injuries have caught up with him and last Monday was a slap of reality in Shawn’s face. Shawn’s career is over and he needs to just accept it and be HHH’s manager. A producer gets up on the apron and tells HHH something, which sends him running to the back.

We come back from a break with wrestlers around an unconscious and bloody Shawn. HHH demands help for his buddy and Shawn is taken away in an ambulance. Bischoff suggests that HHH was behind it and we get a censored F Bomb.

Ric Flair vs. The Rock

Non-title and Rock requested the match. They trade armdrags to start with Flair actually sending the champ out to the floor. Back in and Rock sends him into the corner before copying the strut, earning himself some Flair chops. Rock is put on the floor again as this is almost one sided so far.

It’s WAY too early for the Figure Four though and Rock is soundly booed by the North Carolina crowd. The spinebuster looks to set up the People’s Elbow but Flair grabs the leg, only to have the Figure Four countered into the Sharpshooter. A poke to the eye cuts Rock off and NOW the Figure Four goes on in the middle of the ring. Rock is in the ropes quickly enough and the Rock Bottom puts Flair away.

Rating: C-. Perfectly fine match here with Rock letting Flair get to show off in his home state. It’s not like anyone is expecting anything great out of Flair at this point and he certainly didn’t look bad. This was all it needed to be and the fans were into it, though it’s pretty clearly just there to set up whatever Flair’s announcement is going to be.

We get the handshake and the hand raise so Rock can leave Flair to make his announcement. Flair can barely get a word out though before Chris Jericho of all people comes out. A chair shot to the head drops Flair as I’m wondering how Rock didn’t hear Jericho’s very loud music setting this up. Jericho says Raw is Jericho to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. It’s amazing what some structure and goals can do for a show. Well that and having a far better built midcard with some matches and acts actually getting some time. It’s far from perfect and there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done, but this is so much better than the disaster that Raw used to be that it’s kind of amazing. Totally watchable show this week, which I couldn’t imagine saying just two months ago.

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