The SmarK Rant for WWF Royal Rumble 2002
– Live from the Underwater City of Atlanta.
– Your hosts are JR & The King.
– Opening match, WWF tag title: Tazz & Spike v. The Dudley Boyz.
New music for Tazz, so I guess another WWF CD is coming out soon, and from the sounds of things it’ll suck. (2012 Scott sez: I believe that assessment was correct, yes.) Big brawl to start and Tazz gets suplexed on the outside. That leaves Spike to get moidalized with a pair of neckbreakers and play Ricky Morton. Another one and Spike seems dead. Luckily, he’s just Mostly Dead. Dudz hammer away and D-Von gets a necksnap. Bubba suplexes Spike and yells over to Tazz that he’s going to break Spike’s neck. Well, geez, can you call the spots any louder? Talk about unprofessional. (2012 Scott sez: Still not as a loud as Ken Shamrock.) And shouldn’t he be arrested for uttering death threats? Man the security has sure been lax ever since Jim Dotson got taken off TV. Spike reverses that potentially deadly suplex into an Acid Dog, but once again the scourge of incompetent refereeing rears its ugly head, as Tazz is unable to avenge his partner due to distraction on the part of the official. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILDREN??? They flapjack Spike, but D-Von misses a whatever off the top and the Dudleyz collide, and now it’s MIDGET MADNESS, as Tazz gets the hot tag and starts suplexing everything in sight. Bubba misses a blind charge and Spike bodypresses him to set up another try at the Acid Dog, but Stacy pops up to distract the ref again. Tazz chokes her out (a novel alternative to the usual methodology of dealing with her), and when D-Von charges to defend her honor, he gets the same treatment and taps out at 5:06. Another RAW match, but a hot one. ** Nice to see them trying to make something out of the Pint-Sized Powers of Pain. (2012 Scott sez: I forget if they made it to Wrestlemania or not, but they dropped the belts to Billy & Chuck and Tazz was done as a wrestler from then on)
– Intercontinental title match: Edge v. William Regal.
Nick Patrick diligently checks and finds no sign of knuckles, brass or otherwise, under the ring, but DOES find them down Regal’s trunks. Well, that should be that, right? Edge hammers him down and gets a backdrop, then chokes away. Regal kneelifts him to take over, but Edge gets a backslide for two. Regal facelocks him down, but the Edgezuigiri puts Regal down. Regal gives him a sick side-release german suplex right onto his head, and gets two. Kneelift gets two. Straightjacket chinlock causes the crowd to doze, and Edge reverses the double-underhook powerbomb for two. Regal hangs onto the arms, however, and follows through with the powerbomb for two. Neat spot. Edge bails to the apron, but gets knocked off by Regal, who then gets DDT’d onto the apron. Didn’t look as good as it sounds. Back in, Edge gets two. Both are out. Slugfest is won by Edge, and a suplex gets two. Regal gets another release german, but Edge does the All-Japan “Pardon me, I’ll be sure to sell getting dropped on my head as soon as I pop up and give you a lariat…and there we are” bit. I never like that spot when Kobashi or Kawada do it, and I don’t like it here, either. Regal takes him down into the Regal Stretch, but Edge reverses to his own before Regal makes the ropes. Edge rolls him up for two, then gets a leg lariat off the top rope. The ref is bumped as Regal pulls out his Emergency Backup Knuckles and KO’s Edge for the pin and the title at 9:44. Edge was game, but Regal is like death to anyone trying to have a good match these days. **1/4 (2012 Scott sez: The POWER OF THE PUNCH was pretty funny, but Regal didn’t have his resurgence in the ring until a while after this.)
– Women’s title match: Trish v. Jazz.
Jackie is YOUR special guest referee. Man, they should have announced that on Smackdown, they’d break 2.0 buyrate for sure. Jazz attacks to start and backdrops her. Splash gets two. Trish fights back with a sunset flip, which turns into a goofy pinfall reversal sequence. Jazz hotshots her and starts working the “broken” hand. Legdrop gets two. Jazz works the hand further and gets all “Sista, PLEASE” with Jackie, but before any talk show hosts can run out with a wireless microphone to get their opinion on teenage girls who marry Nazi bingo-callers while pregnant with their brother’s child, Jazz breaks it off to roll up Trish. Jackie won’t count. Maybe she CAN’T. Maybe there’s a deeper problem here that Jackie just isn’t willing to admit. Maybe she was born with a birth defect that cut off the part of her brain that allows her to count to three. Did anyone think of that? I understand it’s a very rare condition called Numberic Referitis that is only now being studied and treated by better wrestling hospitals across the country, and I personally would be happy to investigate further if given a generous government (or private) grant for expenses and pizza. Donations less than $50 will be cheerfully laughed at. But kept. (2012 Scott sez: I weird myself out sometimes, I admit it.) Trish comes back but Jazz keeps on the hand. Wow, it’s like the Flair-Steamboat of women’s matches. Of course, it’s David Flair v. Vic Steamboat. Trishdog gets two. Jazz DDT gets two. Trish forgets to lift her leg on a blind charge spot, and it turns out to be a major boo-boo because it’s the FINISH, as they repeat the spot and Trish finishes with a bulldog at 3:42. Note to potential wrestlers: If you’re going to blow a spot, make sure you do it BEFORE the go-home point. This wasn’t any more horrible than your standard RAW match. ½*
– Ric Flair v. Vince McMahon.
The Flair family is at ringside, and Reid is BADASS. When did this kid grow two feet? Screw Scott Steiner, sign HIM. We already saw him taking Bischoff down on Nitro, so we know he’s got the goods on the mat. Vince overpowers Flair to start and does some posing. Nice to see George Zahorian is keeping himself busy. I’ve gotta think that going to prison was the best thing to happen to old Dr. George – I mean, talk about your seller’s market! I wonder how many prison bitches you can buy for a month’s worth of HGH? (2012 Scott sez: I feel like 2002 Scott was especially mean-spirited and cranky here for some reason.) Vince applies the dreaded SIDE-HEADLOCK OF DOOM to show off his arms. And he wonders why the legitimate media treats him like a joke. He overpowers Flair again, this time adding a strut. Flair takes him down and starts pounding him in the corner, but Vince goes low. Diesel elbow and Vince adds some chops, but Flair gives it back with extra mayo on top. Vince goes to the eyes and hits one of those weird stiff-arm clotheslines that Scott Steiner does now that he can’t move his arm anymore. Flair Flop and Flair Flip put Flair on the apron, where Vince knocks him down. The ALUMINIUM SIGN OF GROTESQUE DISMEMBERMENT triggers a MANLY Flair bladejob, and Vince adds a garbage can for good measure. Vince posts him and introduces him to the stairs, then steals a camera from Beth Flair and takes a picture of the bloodied Flair. (2012 Scott sez: That’s a tremendous spot that’s kind of wasted on this freakshow match) I’m curious if Vinnie Mac actually shows up on film, but I guess if he really WAS the agent of Satan we wouldn’t get the honor of seeing him on videotape every show. Or maybe I’m thinking of vampires. Same thing. (2012 Scott sez: Was I writing this at 3 in the morning and free-associating due to exhaustion or something?) Back in, Vince works the leg in a manner even HE should be ashamed of, as he can’t even get his legs extended into the air for the kneedrops to Flair’s knee. He grabs a toehold, then goes back to the knee. He goes to the figure-four (and sets a good example by actually putting it on the CORRECT leg – straight leg is the injured one), but Flair reverses. Vince bails and grabs his phallic lead pipe, but Flair gives him a solid shot to the Hogan to stop that. He dishes the chops like a waiter at Dusty Rhodes’ dinner party, and they brawl outside, where Flair smacks Vince in the face with a monitor to bust him open. Back in, Flair drags him out again and bites the cut in front of Beth. What a romantic. Back in for real, and Vince is all HOLD THE MAYO! (2012 Scott sez: Oh man, that one died a horrible death and for good reason.) Flair keeps on the cut before switching up the psychology and canning him again. I think I should make it an official policy to add * for every time Vince gets hit in the nuts. Flair puts him down with the lead pipe, and before Vince can live up to my expectations by jumping up and doing a hulking-up act, Flair puts him in the figure-four and puts him out of his misery at 14:54. For those who don’t think Flair is still God, STFU. Keep your Outsiders, I like REAL wrestling. He not only provides entertaining matches, but tons of material for me. *** (2012 Scott sez: Once again, when it comes time for Vince to get repeatedly hit in the junk with a lead pipe, he steps up and takes it like a man. You have to give him that.)
– WWF title match: Chris Jericho v. The Rock.
Jericho does some trashtalking, so Rock kicks his ass to start. Samoan drop gets two. Jericho beats a hasty retreat, and runs right into a Rock spear and ground’n’pound routine. Jericho hits the forearm and a clothesline, but charges and hits the post. Rock walks into a hotshot and Jericho kicks away and adds some CANADIAN VIOLENCE, but gets elbowed. Jericho leg lariat gets two. Suplex and the ARROGANT COVER get two. You know, he really needs to do the full spiel because he could get it over huge. Those who watched him in WCW will know what I mean. (2012 Scott sez: That seems to be the direction we’re heading with new heel babyface Jericho.) Jericho removes the turnbuckle (just in case a spare one is needed later) but Rock attacks. Jericho takes him down and tries the Walls, but gets reversed out of it. Jericho clotheslines him and pounds away, however. Jericho goes up, missile dropkick gets two. He hits the chinlock, but Rock fights free. Jericho back up top, but the Rock crotches him and chops him on top. Superplex puts both guys down. Rock comes back with the belly-to-belly for two, but Jericho bulldogs him and hits a pair of Lionsaults. ROCK IS DEAD! Oh, wait, it only gets two. Well, he’s lucky that Jericho wasn’t REALLY trying that time. Jericho argues the blatantly anti-Canadian bias issue with Earl Hebner, but gets caught in a Scorpion King Deathlock as a result.
Lance Storm & Christian run in to protest Rock’s obvious use of the tights (and possibly a foreign object) while Jericho bangs on the mat to alert Hebner to the illegal submission move being used. Is there no impartial refereeing to be found? Rock, caught in his web of deceit, tries to cover up by tossing Storm & Christian out of the ring, but walks into the Jericho Bottom (a move invented by Jericho and stolen by Rock, mind you) for two. Senton sets up the Canadian People’s Elbow, but Rock kips up and tosses Jericho in dramatic fashion. Rock preps the tables, and Rock Bottoms him from one table to the other. Back in, Jericho is in trouble, but Rock only gets two. Rock Bottom is blocked and Jericho gets the Walls of Jericho, but Rock makes the ropes. I’m pretty sure he was yelling “I quit!” but that bastard Hebner ignored it. What terrible refereeing. Back to the Walls, but Rock reverses for two. Ref is bumped (good riddance), so Jericho proudly shows off his belt, and Rock’s head accidentally runs into it and knocks him out. What a klutz. Finally, some good refereeing, as Nick Patrick comes in to count two. Rock DDTs Jericho, but Patrick’s Numberic Referitis is acting up again and he can’t remember what comes after “1”. Instead of dealing with the very real and very serious condition with an open mind, Rock resorts to violence and takes out Patrick. I’m shocked and appalled. People’s Elbow, but since Rock chose violence over compassion, there’s no ref. Jericho hits Rock low, rams him into the exposed turnbuckle, and then rolls him up with his feet on the ropes for the pin at 18:41. See, a good clean, scientific win by Jericho. ****1/4 Most promisingly, whereas before the crowd would be shocked to see Jericho going over a top guy, now they’re just like “Dang, Jethro, the bad guy won”, not “Dang, Jethro, the little guy won.” Big difference. (2012 Scott sez: This is like the night of failed catchphrase attempts. I did enjoy going back and reading my fair and unbiased view of the match, which I had forgotten about.)
– Royal Rumble:
Rikishi gets #1, Goldust gets #2. Goldust is looking great size-wise. (2012 Scott sez: That’s what she said.) Rikishi attacks, but Goldust slugs back. Rikishi tosses him, but not out. Again, and he’s teetering, but makes it in. Bossman is in at #3 to help Goldust, but he gets avalanched. Bossman slugs away and they try to put Rikishi out, with no luck. Bradshaw is #4 and he hits everything that’s gold, fat or washed up. In some cases he has to make two trips to cover all the combinations. Bossman gets an extended Stinkface from Rikishi and he’s quickly gone via a superkick. Yeah, after that there’s just no point in even trying. Bradshaw powerbombs Goldust as Lance Storm is #5. He goes after Goldust while Bradshaw tries to get Rikishi out and vice-versa. Not much going on. Bradshaw pounds Storm and Al Snow is #6. Bradshaw kills Storm dead with the Clothesline from Heck, but Storm goes low. Speaking of going down, Billy Gunn is #7 and he for Bradshaw before running into a boot. Snow & Storm fight on the apron until Storm gets knocked off and out. Billy takes Bradshaw from behind…and eliminates him. Undertaker is #8, and everyone panics. Rightly so, as Billy, Snow, Goldust and Rikishi are all history, and good riddance to big jobbers.
Matt Hardy returns at #9, having made up with Lita in the interim. (2012 Scott sez: In hindsight, perhaps he should have done like the poem said. You know the one. “If you love something, set it free. If it returns to you, then it was meant to be, and if it fucks Edge behind your back and then gets impregnated with Kane’s lovechild before aborting it, then you might as well give up on life and get a series of DUIs and bang strippers full-time instead.”) He’s game for a fight, but UT chokes the happy couple down. Lita goes low, which allows Matt a neckbreaker, and they stomp away. Taker charges and hits elbow, and Matt keeps slugging. The intervals are actually getting longer, around 2:40 in this case. Jeff is #10, and they double-team Taker and then have a quick reunion. UT clotheslines them both, but can’t toss Jeff. Twist of Fate/Swanton, but UT dumps Jeff and powerbombs Matt into oblivion before getting rid of him, too. Maven is #11, and it doesn’t look good. Taker kills him dead, but the Hardyz intervene for a triple-team attack, distracting Taker long enough for Maven to unleash the DROPKICK OF DEATH…and put Taker out! HUGE pop for that. (2012 Scott sez: They seriously wasted someone dropkicking UT out of the Rumble on MAVEN? Other guys could get a few months on top of house shows out of that spot alone) Then Maven realizes what he’s DONE, and what’s next, as UT returns and beats the hell out of him. Sick chairshot follows, and Taker even shoves the poor cameraman down. He keeps shooting, though. That’s some dedication.
Scotty 2 Hotty is #12 but gets pounded coming down the aisle. Damn, Taker is in a bad mood tonight. He turns his attention back to Maven, as he tosses him over the top to eliminate him (for those who cry “No elimination!”, refer to the Giant Gonzalez Incident at Royal Rumble ’93) (2012 Scott sez: See, the rules constantly change. If you can’t have consistent and clear rules in PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING of all things, what hope is there?) and then drags him up to the concession stand and leaves him laying. Christian is #13, but has no one to fight until Scotty crawls back in. He gives it a go, but gets DDT’d and pounded by Christian. DDP is #14. He goes after Christian, but can’t toss him. Diamond Cutter, but Scotty attacks and superkicks him out, through the ropes. W-O-R-M for Christian, but DDP sneaks back and tosses Scotty out. Cute.
Chuck is #15, and he hammers DDP as Lawler makes veiled gay jokes. Chuck stomps away and chokes him down, but DDP comes back. Godfather is #16 and he brings 12 women with him, but they spend so long dancing at the entrance that we don’t see DDP getting eliminated. (2012 Scott sez: Turning him back into Godfather after the RTC nonsense was a sad attempt to salvage him. Once you do that heel turn, you can’t go back.) Godfather hammers both Christian & Chuck as Albert is #17. He takes on everyone, but the gang up on him and eliminate him. Godfather tries a Ho Train on Christian & Chuck, but misses and he’s gone. Saturn is #18, with some sort of cow skin for tights. He suplexes Chuck as Steve Austin is #19, and whoopass is dished out. Everyone gets tossed, then brought back in, stunnered, and tossed again. His watch is telling him it’s time for Val Venis at #20, who looks RIPPED by the way. Steve stomps a what-hole and whats it dry, but Val comes back and drops an elbow. Test is #21 as Canada unites to go after Austin. Don’t Mess With Texas, though, as Austin tosses both of them. HHHH is #22. The entrance alone burns the whole 2:00 until Hurricane at #23. He tries to chokeslam both guys, but gets casually tossed.
Austin & HHHH go back to pounding on each other. Faarooq is #24 and he’s out of there in short order. Back to scrapping, as Mr Perfect is #25. He goes after both, leading to the funniest spot of the match, as they work him over on the ropes, and he STILL manages to swat his own gum out of the air. Kurt Angle is #26, as the crowd goes “You suck, what?” to annoy him. (2012 Scott sez: Among the many things I would do with a time machine: Go back and erase Christian’s voicemail so that he never heard Austin going “What?” in that message) Everyone pairs off as Angle suplexes HHHH but can’t get him out. Austin saves him, but gets suplexed as Big Show is #27. He chokeslams Perfect and holds off everyone until Kane evens the suck factor at #28. They have their big showdown and Kane slams him out of the ring, then gets KICK-WHAM-STUNNERED and Angle Slammed right out himself. RVD is #29 to a huge pop which apparently does not exist if you believe the WWF higher-ups. He gets a frog splash on Angle right away and takes care of everyone…except HHHH, who Pedigrees him right into unconsciousness. How about that. (2012 Scott sez: How about that indeed. There would be a lot more where that came from in 2002, let me tell you.) Booker T is #30, and he dumps the dead RVD to earn a heel pop, before Austin stunners him right out.
Final four: Austin, HHHH, Angle and Perfect, surprisingly.
Angle Slam for HHHH and the rolling germans for Austin, but a low blow stops that. The Kurt/Curt connection teams up to dump Austin, unsuccessfully. Three-way slugfest and Austin tries to get rid of Perfect, but he’s perfect so Angle dumps Austin from behind instead. Perfect goes after Angle, but he convinces him to go after HHHH with him. Austin grabs a chair and takes out everyone before leaving. Angle & Perfect do the heel miscommunication bit, but shockingly Perfect doesn’t get knocked out. Perfectplex for Angle…but HHHH tosses him. (2012 Scott sez: One last great performance to go out with. I kind of wish he hadn’t hung around afterwards, so that our last memories of him could be a fun Rumble appearance instead of the stupidity of a bunch of morons on a plane.) So we’re down to HHHH & Angle, and HHHH takes him down and pounds away. Angle suplexes him but can’t get him over and out. HHHH chokes him down, but gets dumped…and hangs on. Angle celebrates, and gets tossed at 1:09:16 as HHHH wins the Royal Rumble. Too many dead spots and silliness, but still quite good for a Rumble. ***3/4
I was expecting a lot out of this show, and for the most part I was a little disappointed. It wasn’t a bad show by any means, but it certainly wasn’t as strong in the actual Rumble as I had hoped and I was wanting Jericho-Rock to get 30 rather than 20. Still, the top three matches were good->great, so it’s an easy thumbs up. I just think it had potential to be so much more, like last year’s show.