WWE Judgment Day 2002 5/19/2002

May 19, 2002
Gaylord Entertainment Center
Nashville, Tennessee
Attendance: 14,500
Buy Rate: .74
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler

Fun Fact: This is the first US Pay-Per-View under the new World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) banner. For years the company shared the WWF title with the Great Britain based World Wildlife Fund. However the World Wildlife Fund sued the World Wrestling Federation in 2000 stating they had violated a 1994 agreement about using the logo during overseas tours. Many feel this was caused by the company’s great arrogance during the height of the Attitude Era as they flaunted their clout. So in losing the lawsuit, they had to stop using the WWF moniker and renamed the company World Wrestling Entertainment. On the 5/6 Raw, they officially became the WWE, and of course we will call them that from here on out. The company had also been ordered to stop using the old WWF Attitude logo on any of its properties and to censor all past references to WWF, as they no longer owned the trademark to the initials in ‘specified circumstances’. WWE is still permitted use of the original WWF logo, which was used from 1984 through 1997, as well as the New Generation logo, which was used from 1994 until 1998. The company can still use the full “World Wrestling Federation” and “World Wrestling Federation Entertainment” terms. The first actual PPV to be under the WWE banner was Rebellion in the UK on 5/4.

Sunday Night Heat

1) WWE European Champion William Regal (Darren Matthews) defeats D-Lo Brown (AC Connor) at 6:22

Pay Per View

1) Eddie Guerrero defeats Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) to retain WWE Intercontinental Title with a backslide and feet on the ropes at 10:17

Their second match in the trilogy of great matches was pretty good. Maybe not as good as their first match at Backlash but still the pace was really solid. Eddie really did a nice job of working the Indies and getting a real feel for the ring again. Many thought RVD was getting shunted a bit due to losing to Eddie at Backlash and also losing the rematch here. Well they have a final match a week later on Raw and let’s say the results are a little different. There are some really nice spots in this match, including the surfboard RVD puts on Eddie for a good ninety seconds. Unfortunately RVD falls prey to Guerrero chicanery, as Eddie gets a backslide pin, with the ol’ feet on the ropes for leverage and he retains his title. This was another great match between the two, but just a notch below their Backlash match. Grade: 3.5

Justin: The first PPV match under the WWE banner on American soil features a red hot rematch from one of last month’s best bouts. The two worked a fast paced out of the gate and told a simple story in the ring. RVD would dominate early, frustrating Guerrero with his offense. The crowd was pretty pumped for RVD here and you could tell both guys were feeling it. They were both so great at the subtle nuances in the ring and every action they took was believable. One part that stuck out was Eddie fighting to block the surfboard. Instead of just sticking his arms back, he really put up a fight to block the hold. Both men used their innovative offense and most of the match was a back and forth even war. Eddie would steal the win in a great match that really could have used more time. I will also let the cheap ending slide because it fit perfectly with Eddie’s gimmick. This match was a step behind Backlash, but still a ton of fun. Grade: 3.5

2) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeats Stacy Kiebler to retain WWE Women’s Title with a bulldog at 2:54

Fun Fact: Trish Stratus finally defeated Jazz on the 5/13 Raw in her hometown of Toronto to regain the Women’s Title.

Fun Fact II:
After spending nearly five years as a team, the Dudley Boys were split up in the brand extension. D-Von was sent to Smackdown while Bubba Ray remained on Raw. D-Von switched his persona up and took on the guise of a reverend that was constantly looking for donations for his church. Of course, the underlying theme was that he was using the funds for personal gain. He also became Mr. McMahon’s personal spiritual guide. After some attempts at nabbing his money, D-Von decided to bring in some muscle to protect the money box. On the 5/9 Smackdown, Deacon Batista debuted. The Deacon was portrayed by Dave Batista, a monster wrestler that had been cutting his teeth in Ohio Valley Wrestling as Leviathan. He had won the OVW Heavyweight title once but dropped it to the Prototype before being called up as D-Von’s right hand man.

Fun Fact III:
Vince McMahon chose Stacy Kiebler as his personal assistant after she gave him a personal dance in the ring on the 4/11 Smackdown. She would have D-Von and Batista in her corner here as they were all part of McMahon’s entourage.

A second straight month we have a complete dud of a women’s title match. Trish is slowly working her style into the WWE style, but after winning the Title from Jazz, she doesn’t face either her or Molly Holly, who she had also been feuding with. Instead Trish, who’s not quite ready to carry matches, faces the gorgeous Stacy, who did need to be carried. The match is a train wreck, but fortunately it only was about three minutes. One of the casualties of the Brand Extension was the break-up of the Dudley Boys. D-Von goes to Smackdown and becomes the heel reverend with his Deacon, Batista. Of course more comes from him as time moves along. As for Bubba Ray, he goes to Raw, and is himself. Needless to say neither of these ideas really worked out. In essence this entire segment/match was a big mess and really went nowhere, although Batista showed his early power by powerbombing Bubba Ray through the table. Grade: .5

Justin: Due to her alliance with Vince, Stacy receives a PPV Title match against the new Champion, Trish. Vince didn’t let Stacy come alone though, as Reverend D-Von and Deacon Batista accompany her to the ring. Well, Trish wouldn’t be outsmarted here as she brings out her new buddy Bubba Ray to even the sides a bit. The crowd is still hot here, but the match ends up being a mess. It was a bad sign right out of the gate as Stacey totally whiffs on a big kick attempt. Batista would get involved and slam Trish, but Trish would use her smarts to pull out the win. She was really starting to get over at this point and she would be the first wrestling Diva to really develop her character and continually show her ring smarts in addition to being hot. After the match, Batista and D-Von take out Bubba and put him through a table, but the battle wouldn’t really go anywhere as the men were still on separate shows. The match is a mess, but the crowd was enjoying their dose of Stratusfaction. Grade: .5

*** Vince McMahon confronts Ric Flair in his dressing room. Flair finally agrees that Vince was right and that Steve Austin is bad for Raw. Flair vows to take Austin down. Arn Anderson was also in the room as he was serving as Flair’s right hand man on Raw. ***

3) Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman defeat the Hardy Boys when Heyman pins Jeff Hardy after a Lesnar F-5 at 4:47

Fun Fact: After four more weeks of devastation, Brock was handed his first loss on the 5/13 Raw when he lost to both Hardys by disqualification in a handicap match. After the match, Paul Heyman issued a tag team challenge for this show.

This was pretty much a two-on-one match, as Lesnar did all the work and Heyman just cackled and ran around. The Hardys were in a weird phase here, as it was evident that they needed to separate and get their solo careers started. Unlike the Dudleys, whose tag team run was getting very stale, the Hardys were over every day regardless of who they face. Lesnar was really over as a monster and Heyman was bringing the heat with every moment he stares at Lita with those creepy eyes and smile. The match was what it was, but Lesnar is continuing his ride on the fast track. Clearly after the next show Vince had plans for Lesnar, but what does the future hold for the Hardy Boys? Grade: 2

After Brock destroyed Jeff at Backlash and Matt on Raw, the Hardys teamed up to beat Brock by DQ the week before. Heyman issued the challenge and the showdown was on. The Hardys cornered Heyman to start, but Brock made the save for his agent. The Hardys would try to out quick Lesnar but he would just ground them with his power. The Hardys would actually get some good offense in and would eventually get their hands on Heyman. JR had a field day landing verbal jab after verbal jab on Paul. Lesnar would save his agent again as Jeff attempted a Swanton. Brock would drop him with the F-5 and Heyman would cover and get the win. Lesnar basically mauled both Hardys and picked up the win by himself, proving yet again what a beast he was. Heyman’s post match celebration was pretty nifty too. Grade: 2

*** Backstage, Booker gloats about his recent induction into the NWO. A lovely lady passes by and Booker stops her to flirt. She gives him her hotel key and takes off. ***

4) Steve Austin (Steve Williams) defeats Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) and Big Show (Paul Wight) in a handicap match when he pins Flair with a Stunner at 15:36

Fun Fact: This will be Steve Austin’s last PPV match until February 2003.

Fun Fact II:
After a few weeks of anarchy, Ric Flair realized that he would never be able to control Steve Austin. So, to prevent him from destroying his show, Flair decided to take Austin out. On the 4/22 Raw, Flair made a match between Scott Hall & X-Pac and Austin & Big Show. Show would turn on Austin at the end of the match and officially join the NWO. Show would go on to blame Austin for his low position on the card and for being completely left off of Wrestlemania. Finally, on the 5/6 Raw, Flair teamed with Austin and Bradshaw to take on Hall, X-Pac and Show. At the end of the match, Flair bashed Austin with a chair and officially joined the NWO and solidified his heel turn. Flair announced the match here and then locked in the figure four. The following week, Flair said it was a new era for the NWO. He officially fired Scott Hall and said that a new member would debut later that night. Flair would then grant himself an Undisputed title match. He would wrestle Hollywood Hogan for the first time on national TV for the WWE. Hogan would win thanks to Austin’s interference. At the end of the show, Flair had Austin face the newest member of the NWO: Booker T. Austin would win the match, but the NWO would take him out and stand tall to close out the show.

So after five months as the face owner, Flair turns heel with Big Show to take on Austin in a handicap match. The match wasn’t bad as Flair and Austin were in the majority of it while Big Show would come in and get his knocks. As much as Austin was probably enjoying the chance to be in the ring with the greatest living wrestler, he definitely wanted to be a little higher on the card. He was probably stewing to see Hogan and Taker in the main event. Unfortunately for Austin, Hogan is more over right now and he doesn’t want to turn heel again, so Stone Cold is stuck. He at least gets to face his idol in a solid fifteen minute match. Obviously by our next show he’s gone on hiatus and we all wonder what went wrong. Flair’s role in the company changes as the year progresses, and after a couple of years of floating around, Big Show starts to regain some of his status as a main event player. As for Austin, his paranoia and lack of confidence in the product led to one of the most acrimonious splits in recent company memory. This match was ok, but considering it led to nothing afterwards, it leaves you flat. Grade: 2

Justin: Despite the hasty heel turn, the crowd still cheered Flair here, but the reaction he got was nowhere near the pop Austin would get. Things were in a state of flux backstage and the creative team was looking to recreate the Attitude magic, so they turned Flair heel to feud with anti-authority Austin. Both men were good enough to pull it off, but it felt so stale and antiquated during a time when things were quickly changing. Even though Show was involved, this is the closest we would come to getting this dream match. Austin would start off red hot and fight off both men in a great opening segment. The pace was good and the crowd stayed with things all the way through, rooting for Austin to overcome the odds. Watching this match, Austin actually seemed younger here than he has in a while. He was working at a furious pace and you could tell he was loving being in there with Flair. Flair would punish Austin in the ring to play up the angle, but Austin wouldn’t stay down. Show and Flair actually made a cool little team as Flair did all the work and Show would use his power in short spurts. Flair and Austin would have a great chop-off and both would lock in a figure four as the match wound down. Show would withstand a stunner as his buddy X-Pac also got involved. Austin would fight them all off and drop Flair with the stunner to pick up the win. I loved this match as it was really a lot of fun and the crowd apparently agreed. Despite the stereotypical nature of the angle, I feel that this feud could have had legs only because Flair was so different than Vince. It could have gone deeper, bringing up Austin’s love for Flair growing up, but they would never get the chance to explore the options. Grade: 3

5) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Kurt Angle in a hair vs. hair match with a cradle at 15:30

Fun Fact: After his win at Backlash, Angle decided to debut a new shirt. Unfortunately for him, Edge was able to tamper with it before the unveiling. When Kurt pulled the sheet off the easel, it revealed a shirt that read “You Suck”. Thus, the chant that would follow Angle for the rest of his WWE career was born. Edge would hammer it home leading up to the show. They would add the hair stipulation and we would get the standard photoshopped pictures of both men bald as the match drew near.

This match repeats the same philosophy as the RVD/Eddie Guerrero feud. These two put on a great match at Backlash, as Edge really impressed by going move for move with one of the technical greats of our time. Now they add the stipulation that someone will be bald after the match. Clearly Angle was going to lose here since part of Edge’s mystique was his long blond hair, and the fact that Angle was pretty much bald at this point anyway. The match is still solid, but it’s hard to duplicate the same magic from a previous match unless you’re Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, etc. Don’t get me wrong it’s not an awful match, just not as up to par as their Backlash tussle. Edge gets the victory with a cradle and then the real fun begins as Angle spends the next half hour trying to hide from Edge backstage to keep his hair. Eventually they get to the stage and Edge locks in a sleeper. Kurt is out, then the hair is shaved off and we’ve seen the last match with Kurt Angle and his hair. Both men go in opposite directions from here. Angle gets a legend next month, while Edge eventually enters the tag team ranks again, but this continues on and off for the rest of the year. Grade: 3

Justin: Well, I will vehemently disagree with Scott here for sure. This was Edge’s second opportunity to prove his elevated stock was for real. He delivered a month before, but he needed to show that it wasn’t a fluke. His pop was growing and he was starting to look more like a star with each passing week. Both men would up the ante in the one, and that was proven right off the bell as Kurt unleashed a sick belly-to-belly out to the floor. Kurt would hammer on Edge with his stiff repertoire but Edge valiantly stayed alive. The bout would keep up the usual frenetic Angle pace and the ongoing theme was both men destroying the other with belly-to-belly suplexes. Edge timed his comebacks well and kept the crowd hooked in and believing. They would bust out some of the same moves as last month, but also built on them in different ways. I didn’t really think the ref bump was necessary, but it led to a fantastic sequence of near falls. After kicking out of the Angle slam and reversing the Anklelock, Edge would pick up the win and become a made man. The finishing sequence was tremendous stuff and Edge had successfully delivered. The antics that followed the match were pretty funny and Angle would get shaved clean to give us his current look. I loved the pace and hard hitting style here and you could see Edge pulling himself up a level throughout the match. I actually enjoyed the match even more than the Backlash tilt as they built upon that one and polished it off with a big win for Edge. Grade: 4.5

*** We head over to the hotel room, where Booker is in bed awaiting his lady. She asks him to turn down the lights and then we hear some bizarre noises. Booker puts the light on and finds Goldust in bed with him. Goldust and Booker had become friends over the past month and Goldust told Booker how bad he felt about the NWO stuff. Goldust told Booker he doesn’t need the NWO. Booker leaps out of bed and gives us a shot of his ass as he storms out of the room. Goldust pouts and reveals that he had lingerie on over his body suit. The interesting Booker/Goldust combo would continue on throughout all of 2002. ***

6) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in a Hell in a Cell match with a Pedigree on the cell roof at 24:31

Fun Fact: Around this time, Chris Jericho began firing back at his critics on the internet. A sect of fans panned this match due to the lack of a big death defying spot. A month or so later, the fans would flare up again, taking Jericho to task for some poor matches. Jericho fired back with some vicious blog posts, but many believed he was just trying to work his heel character and turn the fans fully against him.

Fun Fact II:
The night after Backlash, Triple H attacked Undertaker and was arrested. Three days later on Smackdown, Triple H challenged Hulk Hogan to a rematch for the Undisputed Title. Vince McMahon came out and put the kybosh on that, saying that he never gave Chris Jericho his rematch after Wrestlemania. That night Jericho defeated Triple H in a #1 contenders match thanks to Undertaker. So Jericho received the title match with Hogan for the following week’s Smackdown. Thanks to Triple H’s interference Hogan retained the title in that match. The following week on the 5/9 Smackdown from Bridgeport, Mr. McMahon, who’s furious that Triple H interfered in the Hogan/Jericho match when he wasn’t supposed to, made his disdain for The Game clear. Triple H would come out but he got beat down by five superstars, including Lance Storm and Christian. While Triple H is getting beat down, Vince announces that he’ll face Jericho at Judgment Day in a Hell in a Cell match. Later in the show Triple H would lose to Reverend D-Von thanks to Jericho interference. Later in the show, during a match involving Angle and Jericho battling Hogan and Edge, Triple H came out with a sledgehammer and nailed everybody. Mr. McMahon would come out and Triple H took a swing at him before Jericho drilled Triple H with a steel chair.

This should easily have been the main event of this show. After a decent if underwhelming match at Wrestlemania, the tension was rebuilt both after Triple H’s title loss at Backlash and Vince McMahon’s torturing of Triple H on Smackdown. Jericho regained a lot of the steam he lost during the pre-Wrestlemania storyline during the preceding weeks leading to this match. This match may not be at the top level of previous cell matches, but watching it again I appreciated the sheer brutality of it. This also would be the match that would end referee Tim White’s career, as he takes a couple of brutal bumps and messes up his shoulder. Eventually the match makes it to the top of the cell where Triple H would end it with his trusty sledgehammer. Triple H would get back into the title picture next month, whereas Jericho would be set up to put over a young kid from Massachusetts that would eventually be the torch-bearer of WWE. A great brawl that is equaled by other cell matches, but not at the level of Badd Blood 1997 or No Way Out 2000, and the match that definitely should have been last on the card considering what would end it. Grade: 3.5

Justin: Two months after they closed out Wrestlemania with a lackluster performance, these two show up in the cell as rebuilt characters and a stronger storyline backing them up. McMahon had been messing with Triple H since the draft and Jericho did most of his dirty work. Hunter got a great pop as he made his way out to put Jericho away for good. The match was a really good brawl and was pretty even throughout with a lot of back and forth. While they didn’t break out any sick bumps, they did use the weapons available around the ring to punish each other, including some cool spots with a ladder. As Scott mentioned, Tim White would take a nasty fall after being sent flying off the apron into the cage. He would have to have surgery on his shoulder and it would prevent him from making a full time return to the ring. Jericho definitely looked strong here than he did in his run as champ. His offense looked good and his timing was on. The door would get unlocked as some officials tried to help Tim White and that would allow Hunter and Jericho to escape and climb up the cage. They would put on a good battle up top and bust out some well done near falls. Hunter would finally pick up the win with the sledgehammer and punctuates this up and down feud. Both men worked really hard in this one and you could tell they were trying to deliver after their Wrestlemania snoozer. This was just a straight up hate filled brawl and it clicked wonderfully. Grade: 4

7) Rikishi (Solofa Fatu) & Rico (Rico Constantino) defeat Billy (Monte Sop) & Chuck (Chuck Palumbo) to win WWE Tag Team Titles when Rikishi pins Chuck after a Rico kick at 3:50

Fun Fact: On the 5/16 Smackdown, Rikishi defeated Rico in a one on one match. After the match, Billy, Chuck and Rico went whining to Vince, but he just said he was ashamed of the loss. So, he made the match here tonight and said Rikishi’s partner would be named later on. That announcement didn’t occur until the match was about to get underway.

After our awesome cell match, we have a real mess of a tag match. Rikishi’s mystery partner happens to be the champs’ manager which is really unoriginal and not very intriguing since whenever something like this happens, that mismatched team is bound to win the gold. The match isn’t great, as Rikishi looks completely out of it and Rico makes his PPV debut for WWE. Billy and Chuck, as the heels, dictated the pace of the match, but Rikishi really was not at the level he was in 2000 during his big push. However, Rikishi and Rico take the win with some heel/face miscommunication, as Rico accidentally kicked one of his own charges when he meant to kick his partner, although after the match he didn’t mind taking “his” belt. The Ace and Gary of WWE would be involved in some very unusual shenanigans over the next couple of months, but this match is a complete dog. At least the placement of this match was smart, separating the main events. Grade: 1

Justin: This was really just a filler match to spell the crowd after the cell and before the main event. The tag division was sort of a mess on Smackdown. Billy & Chuck were good champions, but they didn’t really have any established challengers as all of the top teams were split in the draft or left on Raw. Billy & Chuck used their usual solid teamwork and the match was basically a handicap bout as Rico wouldn’t tag in. Rikishi eventually just takes out Rico after an errant kick and he goes on to win the match on his own. The title change really wasn’t needed here as B&C were working well as champions and the whole thing just didn’t make much sense. It felt like a last ditch effort to get Rikishi over but he just felt so bland at this point it didn’t seem worth it. Grade: 1

8) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) to win WWE Undisputed Title with a chokeslam at 11:17

Fun Fact: This feud kicked into high gear on the 4/29 Raw. After a face to face confrontation earlier in the night, Undertaker assaulted Hogan during his match with William Regal. Taker pounded on Hogan and beat him with buckle of his weight lifting belt, busting Hogan open. Taker would leave Hogan a bloody beaten mess. The following week, Hogan fired back as he stole Taker’s bike, rode it backstage and ran it over with a semi. This was a rather infamous scene as Hogan couldn’t get the bike started and they had to cut to JR and Lawler until they could get the bike fired up so Hogan could ride it backstage. Things boiled over a week later as Taker took Hogan out with a tire iron backstage. He then hogtied Hulk’s ankle to his bike and sped off, dragging Hogan around the backstage area. This caused even more laughs by net fans as Hogan just happened to be leaving the building with a huge leather jacket on before being attacked. Add that to Taker swings Hogan into a pile of pipes and cardboard boxes and the whole bike dragging was a bit hokey and probably looked a lot better on paper. Either way, this match had some heat on it, but probably wasn’t what they were looking for.

Our main event was a slow, methodical, sometimes plodding match between two guys who really shouldn’t be in the ring together. Hogan is moving at medium speed and Taker’s not in the carrying mood anymore. The result was a lot of punching, kicking, and belt whipping. Early in the match it seemed Hogan really had some mobility and was keeping the pace. About five minutes in both guys were heaving. Taker chokeslammed Hogan twice and both times Hogan barely got off the ground. The title change was good, as you didn’t want Hogan’s nostalgia trip to run too long to the point that it wrecks the company the way it did in 1993. Taker is a good champion right now, because really the company is in a state of talent flux. What the future holds is up in the air, but right now the Hogan nostalgia kick is waning, and the American Bad Ass is the champ. Things seem stable but at the same time the future still seems uncertain. As for the match, it’s not as bad as I remember, but it’s nothing to write home about, nor does it surpass their two PPV matches eleven years earlier. Grade: 2

Justin: After weeks of lukewarm buildup, Undertaker enters with a new theme and was setting his sights on winning the big gold for the first time in three years. Taker’s pops were finally starting to fade off as fans were accepting his big evil heel persona. Hogan gets a healthy pop, but it was nowhere near the one he got at Wrestlemania and Backlash. In fact, Hogan’s nostalgia factor was wearing thin and many felt that putting the belt on him was a big mistake. He was fine for legends matches and putting younger guys over but it just didn’t seem right to have him on top of the promotion at this point as the roster was stacked with young studs. Vince saw the writing on the wall and quickly took the belt of Hulk here. JR would bring up Survivor Series 1991 which added a nice touch to the match. Hogan was actually moving pretty well again here as he had slimmed down a bit. They would brawl around the ring to get the match off to a good start. Hogan even busted out a really impressive superplex. Things would slow way down as Taker began working Hogan’s leg. It was actually a pretty good story they tried to tell in there but the execution just failed and that crowd started to lose interest during the legwork. Taker would drop Hogan with the worst chokeslam you would ever see, but Hogan kicked out and Hulked up to a huge pop. Vince would end up running in and it led to a hot ending, with Hogan taking Vince out before falling prey to another chokeslam. Taker’s win actually got the biggest pop of the night even though he was booed throughout. The Hogan experiment was officially over and he would settle back into an upper mid card attraction, which was really the best role for him at this point. Taker had worked hard to get into shape and improve his in ring abilities and it paid dividends as he ascends to the top of the WWE mountain once again. This match really wasn’t as bad as it is made out to be and was better than expected. That said, it really should have gone in the middle with the HITC finishing off the show on a hot note. Grade: 2

Final Analysis:

This show is a lot like Backlash in that there were some really good undercard matches, but there were other matches that were real dogs. These shows are pretty much the same and the top title is becoming a hot potato for whoever is the flavor of the month, from Triple H at Wrestlemania, to Hulk Hogan at Backlash, to the Undertaker at Judgment Day. It seems that since the Invasion ended almost six months ago the storylines and general tone of the writing seems to be temporary. I can’t put my finger on it yet, but soon two major happenings and a major change to the title picture makes things clearer and more organized. This show is ok, not bad, not great, but a couple of real gems make it better over worse. We head into the summer with a real question mark as to what’s next for the newly named World Wrestling Entertainment. Final Grade: B

Justin: This was a really intriguing time for WWE as the whole promotion was sort of caught between wanting to push young stars while also working nostalgia acts into the main programs. Ratings were quickly starting to dip and the rabid fan base and red hot crowds of just last March seemed liked decades ago. The net fans were quickly turning on the promotion that had positioned itself as the internet darling during the Monday Night Wars. Vince would begin panicking and started throwing everything out there to see what would stick. He even hot-shotted a Hogan/Flair match on a random Raw instead of saving it for to drive up a PPV buy rate. Instead of looking at the long term, Vince was trying to pop a big rating and began falling into the same potholes that Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo had done in WCW. Luckily, Vince still had some credibility with the majority of his fanbase, but his supporters that had begun turning on him with the Invasion angle were loudly rallying against a lot of decisions on a weekly basis. It was a good move to get the belt of Hogan and Taker certainly earned another shot, but a lot of the talent that was hot in 2001 or over now were relegated to the mid card instead of being elevated. This show as a whole was pretty good as it featured three great matches in RVD/Eddie, Angle/Edge and Triple H/Jericho. Despite the turmoil in the promotion and the challenges that lied ahead, those three matches and a pumped up crowd carried it and made it much better than it seemingly had any right to be. Final Grade: B-

MVP: Edge & Kurt Angle
Runner Up: Triple H & Chris Jericho
Non MVP: Rikishi, Rico, Billy & Chuck
Runner Up: Hulk Hogan

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