Monday Night Raw
Date: December 16, 2002
Location: TD Waterhouse Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
We’re past the final pay per view of the year and that means it’s time to get ready for the 2003 Royal Rumble. That also means that the new Raw World Champion HHH needs a new challenger, which means we’re in for a major problem in the next month or two. Words don’t do the upcoming nightmares justice so let’s get to it.
Trish Stratus/Test vs. Victoria/Steven Richards
I don’t see the Canadian connection lasting all that long as WWE isn’t likely to have two women working together without fighting for more than a show or two. Also, those Testicle jokes really were supposed to make Test a face? Trish kicks Victoria in the head before the bell (that evil Canadian) but gets suplexed by Richards to change control.
Victoria grabs something like a high angle Texas Cloverleaf but drops the legs back like a DDT to wrench Trish’s back. Stratus gets two off a rollup as Lawler talks about how her puppies don’t have eyes. The hot tag brings in Test to clean house but Richards saves Victoria from the pump handle slam. Richards gets two off a Downward Spiral but Stacy offers a distraction, allowing Test to boot him in the face for the pin.
Rating: D+. Not terrible but I’m really trying to get my head around Test being a face. I mean, it’s better than hearing the Testicle jokes over and over again so I can’t complain too much. We’ll consider this an example of a meaningless match that was fine, albeit nothing that needed to exist.
Eric Bischoff and Chief Morely meet in the back with Bischoff announcing a HHH appreciation night to close the show. Morely has already given Scott Steiner the spot for his official contract signing. Yes, this is really where we’re going. Bischoff isn’t happy and Morely is in charge of fixing things.
Booker is getting some water when Goldie Claus comes in to offer a peek at his sack. It’s a good thing though as Goldust pulls out the Tag Team Titles. Goldust gets serious and thanks Booker for believing in him. Christian and Chris Jericho come up to say their rematch is next week. Goldust gives Christian “new and improved” A** Cream. Goldust: “Now with 35% more a**!”
Christopher Nowinski vs. Maven
The fans are WAY into the Harvard Sucks chant. Chris grabs a rollup for two and chokes in the corner a lot before hitting a seated abdominal stretch. A backbreaker sets up a chinlock as the announcers start arguing about colleges. Maven gets in a dropkick and flapjacks him down for an Oklahoma roll and two. A spinning butterfly slam (the Honor Roll) gives Chris two but Maven blocks a charge. Maven’s middle rope sunset flip is countered into a rollup though and Nowinski grabs the trunks for the pin.
Rating: C. Totally watchable match here but the low level of interest didn’t do it any favors. The problem is these two need to move on from “they were both on Tough Enough” and find stories with someone else. Maybe down in developmental for a few years or so. Still though, pretty easily their best match ever.
Here’s a dancing Shawn Michaels because legends don’t have to sell brutal matches. Last week Ric Flair told him he didn’t have it anymore and needed to tell himself the truth. The truth is the Heartbreak Kid is alive and well. He might not be the World Champion anymore but he definitely stole the show. Shawn went down last night but he went down in a blaze of glory. He feels pretty good tonight and thinks we should make it three out of five. Instead it’s Jericho answering though and we have a new feud.
Jericho thinks we should listen to him because he’s just that much better than Shawn. Chris: “Behold the true sexy boy!” If it was the real Shawn back last night, he would have silenced the critics and, you know, won. That makes it even worse because Shawn is the reason Jericho wanted to come here in the first place. Shawn isn’t the showstopper anymore but the show has stopped. One superkick later and Shawn dances off.
Goldust vs. Christian
Christian goes right after him to start but gets bulldogged for two. An armbar slows things down until Christian comes off the top rope and dives right into something like a Boss Man Slam. A clothesline looks to set up Shattered Dreams but Christian pulls the referee in front and grabs a rollup (plus the ropes) for the cheap pin. I mean, I don’t know how mad I can get at Christian who was just trying to avoid a low blow but that’s what they were going for.
Rating: C+. The time was a problem but points for the energy they had out there. Goldust has hit a career renaissance here, which makes it even more amazing that he’s still going nearly fifteen years later. Considering he had only been around about fourteen years at this point, this Tag Team Title run came at the MIDDLE of his career to date. That’s almost impossible to believe.
Bischoff comes in to see HHH, who is actually reading. The boss tries to let HHH have his big moment now but HHH wants to know what’s going on. When the name Scott Steiner is mentioned, the new champ is really not happy. See, Steiner is a jacked up piece of trash who couldn’t hold HHH’s jock. If Bischoff gives him HHH’s spot, he’ll “pull a Steve Austin” and take the title with him.
Flair tells 3 Minute Warning to follow Batista’s lead.
Morely tells Terri to tell Steiner that he’s looking for him. Actually send him to Morely. No actually just call Morely and let him know. That’s still Val Venis getting this much promo time.
Kane is livid and rants about Flair and 3 Minute Warning. Rob Van Dam gives us a very calm translation of his ravings in an amusing bit. Kane isn’t pleased because he’s being mocked but Van Dam says he just needs to mellow. If you need someone to play half of the odd couple tag team, you do call on Kane.
Kane/Rob Van Dam vs. Batista/3 Minute Warning
No Rico in sight. Batista stomps Rob down to start and blasts him with a clothesline before it’s off to Jamal. Since he’s just Jamal, Van Dam scores with a kick to the face and Rolling Thunder gets two. Jamal ignores Batista to tag in Rosey, who eats a kick to the chest. That’s enough for Flair and Batista, who walk out on the Samoans. Kane comes in with the top rope clothesline but misses a running DDT, only to have Rosey sell it anyway. Well they weren’t considered the best team in the world. Van Dam comes back in as everything breaks down, leaving Jamal to get kicked into the chokeslam for the pin.
Rating: D. I do like the idea of protecting Batista like that and the burial of the Samoans continue. Yeah they’re in hot water at the moment and they weren’t great in the first place but when the division is as thin as it already is, do you want to waste a team that could offer a quick challenge for the titles down the road? I mean, I know WWE is going to do it anyway but that doesn’t make it smart.
Steiner arrives and there’s no Morely in sight.
Dudley Boyz vs. William Regal/Lance Storm
It’s a brawl to start again with Regal and Storm getting their clocks cleaned. Storm and Bubba get things going with Lance taking him down and grabbing a quickly broken chinlock. The fans want tables but have to settle for hearing about how much JR likes Regal and Storm again. Regal and Storm take turns on Bubba until a kick to William’s face allows the hot tag to D-Von. Storm gets What’s Up and the reverse 3D is good for two on Regal. The referee gets rid of Bubba and Storm, leaving Regal to bring back the Power of the Punch to knock D-Von cold for the pin.
Rating: D+. Just a match here and the winning streak jazz got a bit annoying as it was basically “well they’re undefeated if you forget the pay per view.” Regal and Storm are fine for a team but they have all the heat of a frozen pizza and that’s the last thing the division and/or the show need right now.
Raw Retro is Mankind winning the title in 1999.
Jeff Hardy vs. D’Lo Brown
Yes seriously and it’s a rematch from Heat where Jeff won despite Brown’s shoulder being up. They start fast again with Jeff sending D’Lo outside for the barricade running clothesline. Back in and Brown talks trash, sounding like he’s blaming people like Jeff for….whatever caused him to turn heel. The chinlock is quickly broken so Brown hits a gordbuster for two (even throwing in some free advice: Jeff better recognize). Jeff shrugs it off with a jawbreaker and sends him to the floor for a dive, followed by a quick Swanton for the pin. Ignore D’Lo’s foot being on the ropes.
Rating: D. I’ve always liked Brown (How can you not?) but he’s one of the least interesting heel turns I can remember in a long time. The problem here is the same as it’s been for years in wrestling: you can’t just bring someone out of mothballs after he’s spent years meaning nothing. It didn’t work back then and it doesn’t now.
Steiner is warming up when Flair comes in to say HHH is the main event. Scott disagrees.
Post break the referee apologizes to Brown, who turns it into a race issue.
Stacy has gotten Test a commercial shoot for a spray on deodorant….that you spray on your abs for some reason. It smells good there so Test knows it’ll smell good on his Testicles. They leave and Raven of all people is shown watching.
Chris Jericho vs. Booker T.
Before the match Jericho yells about being treated unfairly so JR sends us to a commercial. Jericho jumps him before the bell to continue tonight’s trend. Booker fights back but Chris shoves the referee into the ropes for a crotching. A side kick cuts Jericho off for a few seconds, only to have Chris snapmare him into a chinlock.
Booker fights up but gets bulldogged right back down as JR explains the concept of calling someone your “dawg” (which he spells without the a) to Lawler. The twisting sunset flip out of the corner is countered into a cradle for two. The Book End gets the same and we hit the Spinarooni, only to have Christian come in for the DQ. I mean, there’s no bell because we probably need to worry about the MAIN EVENT SLOT but whatever. JR: “Christian has been disqualified.”
Rating: C. Good match from these two as you would expect but there’s only so much you can do when you’re just waiting around for the end of the match. This helped set up next week’s rematch and I’m glad they didn’t have both champs do jobs a night after FINALLY winning the titles.
Booker and Goldust clean house.
Morely tries to convince Steiner to do this next week because Florida doesn’t deserve this. Oh and tonight is for HHH. Scott agrees to Morely’s face but then, to no one in particular, says that HHH will never forget this.
Here are Bischoff and Morely for the closing segment. HHH and Flair come out and we hit the video tribute, set to the same song as his highlight reel from Wrestlemania XVIII. HHH talks about how awesome he is and lists off some great names he’s beaten, making sure to take credit for running off the Rock.
Cue Steiner with his contract that he won’t sign without a World Title shot. HHH talks about how things worked “where Steiner used to work” (there’s your insider reference) but here, you have to beat someone. Steiner says he has big muscles and HHH has no testicles (not to be confused with Testicles). HHH agrees to give him a title shot for no apparent reason and then threatens to eat Steiner.
Scott signs the contract and Bischoff makes the match for the Royal Rumble. This angers everyone involved for some reason (When did HHH expect the match to take place?) but Steiner would rather talk about arm size. Steiner wants the fight tonight and HHH gives the expected response. Scott hits the catchphrase to FINALLY end this after fifteen plus minutes.
Overall Rating: D+. There were some good parts to the show but sweet chickenwings with barbecued mustard the big interview wasn’t one of them. At least have Steiner suplex HHH or something instead of just having them talk to each other. Steiner has gotten physical before but he can’t do so here too?
Anyway, the rest of the show was indeed better as they’ve set up something for next week’s show and they built it up well here. Doing something with the tag division is nice but EVERYTHING feels a mile below the main event, which isn’t any good in the first place. They need a better challenger for HHH (and a better champion but we’ll deal with that later) as the top story isn’t interesting and it’s going to get even worse when they finally have a match.
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