Date: June 20, 2002
Location: ARCO Arena, Sacramento, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
It’s the final show before King of the Ring 2002 and we’re officially in the Kurt Angle is Bald era. As big of a change as it was, that would wind up being his signature look for years to come and still is to this day. Tonight we wrap up the first round of the tournament to get us down to the final four so let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Rock’s speech from Monday. You know, the one where he talks about people needing to stick around as he comes back from another movie hiatus.
Here’s Kurt Angle with the wig to get things going. He knows people have been laughing at him but this is serious. The reality is…..he’s bald and he’s been wearing a wig. He’s tried everything from Rogaine to hair tonic to fertilizer but nothing has worked. We look back at the wig being ripped off last week and Angle is distraught. Hogan is the real joke around here because he looks like he’s 100 years old and wears red and yellow boas. Angle is very confused by the hand to the ear thing and promises to make Hogan tap on Sunday.
Cue Hogan to say he’ll beat Angle up and threatens the wig. The fight is on with Hogan getting the better of it until Angle bails. I really don’t get the point of keeping the wig on when we’ve already seen the bald head and Angle acknowledges that he’s bald. Just go Olympic on Hogan and put us out of our misery.
Stacy Keibler is checking out her gear for Divas Undressed when Dawn Marie comes up for the usual “Vince wants to sleep with ME” argument. Torrie Wilson comes up and shows off her underwear to annoy them even more. You know what? I kind of prefer them doing it this way instead of pretending it’s anything else. It’s an excuse to have the women in their underwear so just say that’s what they’re going for.
Rikishi vs. Christian
Christian charges into a backdrop to start but gets the big man in trouble with some right hands to the head. So much for racial stereotypes in wrestling. The Unprettier doesn’t work and a pop up cutter (looked more like a flapjack because Rikishi can never get that right) puts Christian away.
Christian’s foot was on the rope during the pin so Lance Storm comes out to complain. The complaining continues post break with Storm saying it’s because Christian is Canadian. As is so often the case, this goes on too long with Storm ranting about how all Americans are prejudiced and all other countries hate America because they’re so smug.
HHH says he’s getting the title back in three days. Gay jokes are made at Billy Gunn’s expense in preparation for their match later tonight. If there’s a reason to care about HHH as a face, it’s going WAY over my head.
Nidia and Jamie Noble are all fired up for Jamie to become Crusierweight Champion on Sunday. Hurricane’s mask is between Nidia’s legs because that’s amusing or something.
Jamie Noble vs. Billy Kidman
Winner gets the title shot on Sunday. I’ll give them a point for having Jamie need a win to become #1 contender instead of just having a newcomer the title shot. A hiptoss sends Kidman outside and Jamie starts in on his arm. Kidman gets in a loud enziguri for a breather but Nidia crotches him on top, setting up an elevated DDT to send Jamie to King of the Ring. I’m already thinking I was wrong on Jamie having to win a match. Was this really necessary if they can’t even have three minutes?
Post match Jamie puts on the mask and cape, drawing out Hurricane for a chokeslam. Hurricane gets the mask back a week after losing it, which is already better than TJ Perkins being asked to lay down so Brian Kendrick can win the title.
Billy vs. HHH
HHH does his full posing so Billy tries a cheap shot. That’s enough selling though so HHH clotheslines him outside and whips Billy into the steps. Back in and a powerslam gives Billy two but instructions to SUCK IT are just too far for HHH, who grabs a neckbreaker. Chuck offers a distraction and Rico gets in a spinning kick to the face….which is followed by a Pedigree to end Billy without much effort.
Rating: D. Just in case the Rikishi/Rico title reign wasn’t enough to crush the titles all over again, this was another great example of how bad the Tag Team Titles are doing at the moment. HHH might as well have been fighting any given jobber here as he shrugged off a triple team attack and won in less than five minutes. What a great use of champions, especially when the titles on Raw are already so worthless.
Kurt comes in and is quickly dispatched, followed by Undertaker coming in to get HHH in trouble. Angle hits Undertaker with a chair by mistake though, which is finally enough to end this segment.
Vince and Stacy talk about the pay per view when Undertaker storms in and demands a match with Angle tonight.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Chris Jericho vs. Big Valbowski
Venis gets jumped to start but comes back with some jobber offense. That just earns him a sleeper drop for two but Jericho’s dropkick is countered into a catapult into the corner. A spinebuster gets a cold two and the referee gets bumped because Val Venis vs. Chris Jericho needs a ref bump. Venis’ fisherman’s suplex gets no count but the Blue Thunder Bomb gets a close two. The Walls send Jericho on to King of the Ring a few seconds later.
Rating: D+. The wrestling was better but the same problem that held back the previous match back was present here: there was almost no doubt as to who was winning. Was anyone going to buy Venis as a real threat to take out Jericho? At least they had a few more minutes to work with here and the match was able to go somewhere as a result.
Here’s Rock whole speech from Monday.
Test and Hardcore Holly trash talk.
Vince and Stacy talk Angle into fight Undertaker by having him pretend Undertaker is Hogan.
King of the Ring Quarterfinals: Test vs. Hardcore Holly
And they wonder why the crowd isn’t interested. A powerslam gives Holly an early near fall but he gets whipped hard into the corner. The full nelson slam is countered into a sloppy rollup for two on Test but a pumphandle slam gets the same on Holly. Back up and the big boot gives Test a shot at Lesnar on Sunday.
Rating: D. This is a good example of why this era is pretty forgotten. Was Test vs. Holly the best they could come up with? If you have to push Test through to the next round (fine enough as another Lesnar victim), wasn’t there ANYONE other that Holly to put him over? The problem: I’m really not sure there is someone else at the moment, which is why they really need to build the roster up in a hurry.
Test says he’ll win because the next big thing is getting the next big boot.
Here are the final four:
Rob Van Dam
Vince has Fit Finlay and Johnny Ace get Undertaker and Angle to try to calm things down. Stacy is sent to the hotel, but not before Vince kisses her awkwardly.
Jericho is ready for Rob Van Dam.
We run down Sunday’s card and my goodness this looks horrible.
Vince tells Undertaker and Angle to have a good, clean competition. He demands a handshake but Undertaker doesn’t want to shake the hand of someone who threatened to break his ankle. That’s a fair point actually. A brawl breaks out and Vince gets crushed, putting him on Undertaker’s side.
Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle
Non-title and Angle grabs a chair before Undertaker comes to the ring. The chair goes nowhere so an early ankle lock sends Undertaker crawling to the ropes. Angle unhooks a turnbuckle pad but of course it’s not that simple. The straps are already down because they don’t have time to do the full formula. A clothesline breaks up the Angle Slam and Kurt is sent back first into the exposed buckle.
Kurt goes face first into the post but the chokeslam is countered into the ankle lock. The hold stays on for over a full minute until Undertaker FINALLY rolls forward for the break. The ankle is fine enough for a chokeslam but here’s HHH for a distraction so Angle can grab a rollup for the pin. Here’s the bigger problem than the minute long ankle lock: the pop that Test got for pinning Holly was far bigger than the one Angle just got for pinning the World Champion.
Rating: D. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen two of the best of all time have such a worthless match. That ankle lock was horrible and the ending made things even worse. How does this make me want to see either of the two big matches at the pay per view? Undertaker gets pinned and Angle’s finisher can’t beat anyone despite staying on for over a minute. That’s their marketing plan? Really?
Post match HHH beats up Undertaker but here’s Hogan to put Angle in an ankle lock. I’ve never seen him work a decent armbar but he’s making Angle tap to an ankle lock. Undertaker gives Hogan a chokeslam, only to walk into a Pedigree to end the show.
Overall Rating: F. This show is in need of a BIG refresh because it’s getting worse and worse. There’s almost no good wrestling as they have to fly through everything, though I can’t figure out what they spent the extra time on. Maybe all the Undertaker and Angle backstage segments or the vignettes hyping up a lingerie show? Either way, this show is downright horrible lately and King of the Ring is looking like a potential disaster.
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