June 23, 2002
Buy Rate: .64
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Fun Fact: Before we begin the show, let’s discuss what has happened involving Steve Austin since his win in the handicap match at Judgment Day. As we’ve discussed, there has been plenty of tension between Austin and the company over his role and the overall direction. On the June 3 Raw, Austin defeated Ric Flair in a match where Flair became Austin’s servant. However the following week Austin did not show up to Raw in Atlanta. Apparently he was really becoming difficult, not wanting to lose matches he deemed that he shouldn’t have lost. The straw that broke the camel’s back was the bookers wanting Austin to lose a King of the Ring qualifying match to Brock Lesnar on TV. Austin claimed later that he was fine with putting Lesnar over, but that it shouldn’t be wasted on free TV with no build up. Vince and company spun things a different way and vilified Austin in the weeks following the walk out. They even did a whole episode of Confidential focusing on Austin’s departure. Austin would not return for nine months, bailing on his scheduled feud with Eddie Guerrero, a feud that had already begun airing on TV. Further fanning the flames amongst Austin’s growing number of detractors was a well-publicized domestic dispute incident between Austin and his wife Debra. Austin served probation time for the offense and it has not discussed it publicly since. Ironically the open to this show was a recap of past KOTR winners, and they left a shot of Austin’s 1996 victory in the open. On that 6/10 Raw in Atlanta, Vince called the Rock back to cut a scathing promo on Austin for “taking his ball and going home” and to “Get the F out!” which is what the catchphrase was for the next few months to get people out of the habit of saying WWF. Of course wrestling fans still say WWF in passing, which is fine. To many of us the word “Federation” will never leave the lexicon.
Fun Fact II: The winner of the King of the Ring tournament earned a WWE Undisputed Championship match at Summerslam.
Sunday Night Heat
The Hardy Boys defeats Raven (Scott Levy) and Steven Richards (Michael Manna) when Jeff Hardy pinned Richards
Pay Per View
1) Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in a King of the Ring semifinal with a Five-Star Frog Splash at 14:32
Fun Fact: Here is the King of the Ring results leading to these semifinal matches: First Round: Brock Lesnar defeated Bubba Ray Dudley (Ray Lomonica), Booker T (Booker Huffman) defeated William Regal (Darren Matthews), Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard) defeated Tajiri, Test (Andrew Martin) defeated The Hurricane (Gregory Helms), Chris Jericho defeated Edge (Adam Copeland), Val Venis (Sean Morley) defeated Christian (Jay Reso), X-Pac (Sean Waltman) defeated Goldust (Dustin Runnels), and Rob Van Dam defeated Eddie Guerrero.
Quarterfinals: Brock Lesnar defeated Booker T, Test defeated Hardcore Holly, Chris Jericho defeated Val Venis, and Rob Van Dam defeated X-Pac.
Fun Fact II: The ongoing Jericho/Internet fan war of words was still raging on as Jericho would get ripped for another performance that fans saw as disappointing. Jericho fired back and defended his work but the whole thing started to die down a bit after this show.
Fun Fact III: Van Dam defeated Eddie Guerrero to regain the IC title in an epic ladder match on the 5/27 Raw. Many consider that match to be the best of their series.
Scott: On paper, our opener looked like a five-star technical marvel. Here are two guys who have wrestled around the world and both had stints in ECW as TV Champion. However when they got in the ring on this night, the match was kind of underwhelming. It wasn’t offensive by any stretch, but it seemed that the pacing was kind of slow and they never really had a chance to show their real ability. Forget Austin, if anybody should be upset with the way the writing was at that time it was Jericho. From October to March, he had multiple pinfall wins over Rock and Austin, clearly the two anchors of the Attitude Era. He loses to Triple H at Wrestlemania, and everything changes from here on out. He loses the rematch to Triple H on Raw, is left off the Backlash card, loses the Judgment Day cell match to Triple H, loses here, and it continues over the next few months. Sure he’s rewarded with the feud of his life in early 2003, but we’ll get there soon enough. Right now he seems to be paying many dues for his four month run as Undisputed Champion. Nothing against RVD, but I’m sure another heel could have fit fine here. Rob Van Dam moves on, but unfortunately for him the tournament winner is a foregone conclusion. Grade: 2
Justin: The opening match of the final KOTR PPV sees two popular stars hook back up for their first major match since Unforgiven. RVD gets a nice pop as always and Jericho was garnering his usual level of heat. The two men start evenly but seemed to be a bit out of synch with each other early on. They would get into a groove and each man busted out some nice offensive moves, with RVD nailing a perfect somersault plancha and Jericho dropping RVD with a stiff double underhook superplex. Jericho took over with his basic, solid heel shtick. Things were still a little shaky but the match was saved by the frenetic finish that was littered with great near falls. RVD would pick up the win and continue his resurgence as a major player in the upper mid card. Jericho would assault RVD after the match to add some more heat to the finals. This match ended up being pretty good, but not as great as expected. In a way it ended up emulating the Perfect/Michaels match at Summerslam 1993. There were heavy expectations heading in and, while they delivered a solid match, they didn’t cash in on the opportunity to deliver the classic they were capable of. Grade: 3
2) Brock Lesnar defeats Test in a King of the Ring semifinal with the F5 at 8:18
Scott: Considering that we’re dealing with a two heel match with the possibility of no heat, I really enjoyed this. Lesnar did very little no-selling here and actually took a lot of Test’s big power moves and there were one or two legitimate points, particularly after Test’s Pumphandle Slam, that I thought Test might win. However knowing that the winner of the tournament was getting a title shot at Summerslam I knew that Lesnar was winning this and the next match. Unlike the final match, at least this one had some nice moves and a little suspense. Brock’s familiar theme music debuts at this show, which adds to his aura. Brock was unlike anything we had seen in a while: a Grade A bulldozer of destruction, a single force that could plow through anyone and anytime. It was very 80s. I definitely enjoyed this match more than I had any right to. Test bites the bullet and the Next Big Thing moves on. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Test was an odd choice here as you would think they would want Brock to battle a popular face to get the crowd against him. Instead, they are a bit lost and only end up cheering the big moves for most of it. JR kept pumping up Test as the future of the WWE here, so perhaps bigger things were planned for him. The two men would ended up putting on a solid power match as Brock experienced his first true big man test in WWE. As the match got started, Test quickly shifted into the face role and actually looked strong, getting a lot of offense in on the monster. The two men would battle back and forth with both nailing impressive power moves on each other. The crowd would pop big time when Test nailed Brock with a stiff big boot. The finish was hot with some good reversals and near falls, but Brock would emerge victorious and move on to the finals. I am with Scott on this one, this match was surprisingly fun and Brock showed he could work with a man of equal size and still use his power to put on a show. Grade: 2
*** Backstage, we see various Raw and Smackdown wrestlers commenting to each other about the results of the KOTR matches. Christian and Lance Storm emerge from the locker room and talk about Canadian pride, foreshadowing the formation of an interesting new stable that was on the horizon.***
3) Jamie Noble (James Gibson) defeats the Hurricane (Gregory Helms) to win WWE Cruiserweight Title with a powerbomb at 11:38
Fun Fact: Starting with the 5/9 Smackdown, Hurricane started receiving strange cryptic notes from someone. That someone turned out to be Nidia, Hurricane’s ex-girlfriend. On the 6/6 Smackdown Nidia mocks Hurricane’s outfit, distracting him so he could be attacked by Nidia’s current boyfriend Jamie Noble, white trash extraordinaire. They torture Hurricane leading to this match, including stealing his mask.
Fun Fact II: Hurricane defeated Tajiri and Billy Kidman in a triple threat match on the 5/16 Smackdown to become Cruiserweight Champion.
Fun Fact III: Nidia was the female winner of the first Tough Enough along with Maven, who won the men’s competition. Nidia winning was a major upset as many people expected Taylor to win as she fit the WWE Diva style and was seemingly further ahead in the ring. Taylor would bounce around the Indies for a while before retiring from the business. She would eventually marry future WWE star Brian Kendrick in 2008. As for Jamie Noble, he was in WCW in late 2000 and early 2001 as part of the Jung Dragons, feuding with 3 Count, who ironically, included “Sugar” Shane Helms.
Scott: You can tell that these two were very familiar with each other from their WCW days as they were all over the ring with some very crisp moves. The Nidia aspect of it was nice for the storyline, but I was happy just watching these two go at it. The cruiserweights were the one shining aspect of the post-Invasion shakeup as many who made WCW great in the late 1990s were being used properly in the WWE. Of course the #1 cruiserweight in the world would make his debut later in the year but these two really bring the goods in a well planned match. Now Nidia was one foxy woman, who was obviously brought in a little slower than her male counterpart Maven, whose PPV debut was eliminating Undertaker at the Royal Rumble. That’s fine as there are plenty of women in the title picture right now. Her crazy nympho-maniacal ways lead to Noble winning the title from a stunned and bewildered Hurricane. This feud is not over, but West Virginia’s first couple holds the brass ring. Grade: 3
Justin: This match was interesting because it was an actual storyline and not just a random cruiserweight showdown. Nidia made her debut as the jilted ex of the Hurricane that has now been shacking up with the equally trashy Jamie Noble. Noble had gained a lot of popularity during his brief WCW stint and he was able to gain a job and nifty little gimmick with WWE. The tempo early was good but things slowed down a bit once Noble took over on offense. The match would pick up at the end and Noble picks up a strong win thanks to some help from Nidia. Noble would actually stabilize the division and have a fun and lengthy reign as the year rolls on. I enjoyed the bout, but the slow portion in the middle definitely took some of the grade away. Grade: 2
4) Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) defeats Eddie Guerrero after a Bubba Ray Dudley Bubba Bomb at 17:00
Fun Fact: These two Hall of Famers met at Hog Wild 1996 for the United States Championship. Flair defeated Guerrero to win the title.
Fun Fact II: When Steve Austin walked out on the company, Vince McMahon panicked and decided he needed to hold a major match to replace the Austin/Lesnar bout that was scheduled to happen. So, less than two months after the huge WWE roster split, Flair and McMahon determined they could no longer co-exist as owners of each brand and a match was made, with the caveat that the loser would have to give up his brand to the other. Thus, Flair lost the match and no longer ran Raw. Instead, he signed a wrestler’s contract and made it known that he believed he had one last in ring run in him. The brief heel turn was quickly dropped and Flair was back in the good graces of the fans. As was mentioned above, Flair was entered into this feud when Austin left. Eddie Guerrero and the returning Chris Benoit would blame Flair for costing them a chance to take out Austin, claiming Flair’s tyrannical reign as owner drove him away. They said they would take Flair out instead. We will catch you up on Benoit in the next review, when he makes his PPV in ring return.
Scott: The best match of the night is between two legends of the ring. One already is and the other was on his way. Eddie really got back into the groove both in the ring and on the mic since his return. He had a great series of matches with Rob Van Dam, concluding with RVD’s win in a classic ladder match on the 5/27 Raw to regain the Intercontinental Title. Now he faces The Man, who’s now officially just a wrestler. Flair had a pair of great gimmick matches with Vince at the Royal Rumble and Undertaker at Wrestlemania but when it comes to the ins and outs of everyday matches did Flair have what it took to do it? The match here answers that question. Of course this isn’t 1983 Flair or even 1992 or 1996 Flair. That’s fine, he still goes out and gives you 100% of himself every time, and with a guy like Guerrero as his opponent that makes it even better. The match is great psychology, as both men play cat and mouse for a good portion of the match. Bubba Ray Dudley “makes his impact” by costing Eddie the match. Vince was trying to jump start Bubba’s solo run on Raw as D-Von was doing a decent little job as a preacher heel on Smackdown. Unfortunately both these guys have the Billy Gunn curse. They really can’t live out on their own. Take out the semi-pointless run-in and it’s a pretty good match. Grade: 3.5
Justin: After an entertaining seven month run as co-owner of WWE, Flair is back on the saddle as a full time wrestler thanks to a quick audible when Steve Austin bailed on the promotion. He was still in pretty good shape at this point but was just a step off in this match. Luckily for him, the shredded Guerrero was spot on and would keep the match rolling along. The back and forth opening segment was fun as both men lit each other up with scintillating chops. Eddie would focus on Flair’s leg and his offense was as crisp as ever. Eddie was really on a whole other level at this point and a feud with Steve Austin could have been tremendous, but it just wasn’t meant to be. As the match wore on, Chris Benoit would make his presence known by coming out and locking Flair in the crossface on the floor, but his stay would be brief as the referee would quickly throw him out. While that was happening, Bubba Ray Dudley would sneak in, lay out Eddie and give Flair the big win. Bubba was being portrayed as a modern day Dusty Rhodes on Raw and was starting to get over in the role, but up and down booking would end up killing his momentum. Despite the beef with Flair, Eddie and Chris would turn their attention to Bubba next month. This match was solid and fun but nothing special as Flair was still unsure of himself behind the scenes. Grade: 2.5
5) Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) defeats Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) to win WWE Women’s Title with a roll-up and a handful of tights at 5:41
Fun Fact: Molly actually pinned Trish in a non-title match on the 6/10 Raw to earn the title shot here. Molly’s new heel gimmick took an odd turn as the faces, including the annoying Jerry Lawler, began mocking her for having a fat ass. Of course, Molly was nowhere near being fat, but that didn’t stop Lawler from mentioning it every two minutes during every Molly appearance.
Fun Fact II: Despite her impressive improvement over the past seven months, Trish Stratus would have the distinction of participating in one of the worst televised matches in the history of wrestling on the July 8 Raw. Trish would team up with Bradshaw to battle Chris Nowinski and Jackie Gayda. Nowinski had taken part in the first Tough Enough and was signed to a contract even though he didn’t win. Based on his Harvard degree, his gimmick was that of an elitist, intelligent wrestler that looked down on his dumber opponents. Gayda was the co-winner of the second Tough Enough and was clearly rushed into action here. We will get into the background of both of them in future reviews. On this particular night, nothing clicked as Jackie botched every move she tried, with the most egregious coming when Jackie sold a bulldog from Trish nearly two seconds after Trish whiffed on hitting her. It was pretty embarrassing and the outing bought Jackie a quick ticket to Ohio Valley Wrestling for some more seasoning.
Scott: I was extremely excited seeing Molly win this match, but not necessarily because I dislike Trish. I don’t at all as I have been enjoying her run as a growing force in the Women’s division. The commentary and the storyline was stupid. Sure Trish is hot, but Molly isn’t chopped liver by any stretch of the imagination. So they slap granny panties and wrestling pants that are three sizes too big and we have to hear Lawler keep calling her a fat ass. I was so excited to see The King back in November, but guess what? He’s settled back into his lazy pervert mode where every other line is a wanting for some diva or ripping Molly’s butt. Thank God the announcing situation changed with the brand extension and Smackdown didn’t have the same crap that Raw would settle into for the next couple of years. The match is decent, as Molly can work a great match and Trish is still learning a bit. So she goes with the flow and they have a good harmless title match. The Molly-Go-Round could be a train wreck of a finisher if not executed properly but she hits it just right, although unlike the Raw match it doesn’t get her the three count, so a little chicanery leads to a title change. Of course, pulling the tights was tough since Trish had a one piece outfit on but you get what you can. I won’t grade the match down for Lawler’s annoying commentary, but the fat jokes definitely didn’t fit here. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Despite the stupid storyline, Molly busts her ass to make it work. She would preach about morals and claimed she should be the champion because she would be a better role model than Stratus. Molly would attack off the bell and the two actually had some nice chemistry out there. They would put out a solid effort and you could see Trish improving a little bit more with each passing week. Molly got a great near fall off a sweet belly-to-back suplex as she did her best to help lead Trish through the match. She would finally hook the tights and steal the title. Despite the lame angle and obnoxious Lawler commentary, Molly worked hard to get herself over and she was a better choice to carry the belt at this point as she could have the face divas chase her and put on good matches with them as well. Grade: 1.5
6) Kurt Angle defeats Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) with the Anklelock at 12:08
Fun Fact: Hogan helped Edge defeat Angle in a great cage match on the May 30 Smackdown. After having his head shaved last month, Angle began wearing a great wig that was strapped down with amateur wrestling headgear. Also, in a rare occurrence, Hogan allowed Angle to mock him being bald during the build up, something that was a major no-no back in the day.
Scott: So Hogan slides down the card a bit with a match made for PPV as the Real American battles the Olympic Gold Medalist. The crowd was pretty off the wall which really added to the match since workrate was going to be average at best. Hogan did seem to have some energy in this stretch. Starting with Wrestlemania against Rock, then Triple H and Undertaker he’s brought as much as he could I suppose. Sure the chokeslam at the end of the Taker match at Judgment Day was pretty hideous, but other than that I can’t totally crap on Hogan’s output since coming back. Angle’s on a roll but after two great matches with Edge he has to work a little harder here. Added to the crowd and the whole thing with Kurt’s ridiculous wig and headgear (which is a whole ironic twist when Hogan puts the wig on) and you have a pretty good match here. Obviously the best part of it was Hogan cleanly tapping to the Anklelock and putting over the more current guy who wouldn’t mind the rub. Hogan’s role continues to diminish as the year goes on whereas Angle gets into the main event next month. For now, bad wig and all, Angle gets something not many people have: A clean win over Hulk Hogan. Grade: 2.5
Justin: A month after his nostalgia title run ended with a thud, Hogan still makes his way out to a great ovation from the crowd. Hogan clearly had use here in 2002, but it wasn’t as a dominating champion. Rather, it was as an aging legend that helped put over the current stars. As selfish as he has been in the past, Hogan was being pretty selfless here as he went out and worked hard to help get Kurt a meaningful and clean win. I will also mention how tremendous Angle’s wig was. Hogan would use his power to take control early and the crowd was quite fired up for it. For the third show in a row, Hogan was moving well and looked slimmed down as he was taking this role pretty seriously. Angle actually used a majority of his hard hitting offense and it was neat seeing Hogan take some of his suplexes. Things would slow down a bit after a great back and forth, but the crowd would perk up again when Hogan hulked up and ripped Angle’s wig off late in the match. However, things would turn and Angle would pick up the submission win. I have minor complaint with this match and that is that Hogan lasted way too long in the Anklelock. I won’t push it because he put Angle over clean as a sheet and took all of his offense, but it was kind of silly that he could last so long in what was beginning to be pushed as a lethal submission hold. Still, that is a minor gripe as both men worked hard and were aided by a rocking crowd. Grade: 2.5
*** Backstage, the Rock, Booker T and Goldust have a great bizarre conversation. Rock had returned from working on the Scorpion King and Vince had him go out and rip Austin for “taking his ball and going home” the week after he walked out. Many fans thought the Rock’s speech was hypocritical considering he was just gone for a few months filming a movie. Rock would make his presence known again later in the show. ***
7) Brock Lesnar defeats Rob Van Dam to win the 2002 King of the Ring with the F5 at 5:42
Fun Fact: This would be the last King of the Ring tournament for four years, and the last time the June PPV would have the “King of the Ring” name.
Scott: A very underwhelming final match in the final King of the Ring tournament for four years. Of course Lesnar was the clear cut favorite here; mostly because Rob Van Dam really didn’t need this tournament win. Sure he was in the midst of a big push but this was something he probably didn’t need. The match is quick, actually less entertaining than either of the semifinal matches. Lesnar sold more in the semifinal match with Test than here, which probably didn’t make RVD very happy. The only small inkling that maybe Van Dam may win was the caveat that the winner of the match gets an Undisputed Title shot at Summerslam. Thinking that Lesnar may not have been ready for that and RVD clearly was may have tipped it a bit in his favor. So when Lesnar won you knew that Vince and the writers had very high hopes for this guy. Now who was he going to face at Summerslam for the title? Who knows, the belt has been bounced around like a pinball the past three months. The Next Big Thing will be there, but he’ll have unfinished business with Mr. Monday Night. Grade: 2
Justin: The crowd was into RVD here but as Scott mentioned, the outcome seemed quite obvious. Brock would land a nice powerbomb but the match slowed way down with a lengthy Lesnar bear hug. Brock would continue to show off his impressive power which led into a decent finish. I thought these two would have better chemistry based on their styles, but I guess the stars just weren’t aligned on this night. Lesnar continues to look like a beast but RVD really wasn’t hurt by the loss thanks to the tremendous booking of Lesnar as an unstoppable monster. Grade: 2
*** Backstage, Triple H runs into the NWO, which is now comprised of Shawn Michaels, Kevin Nash and Big Show. They all chat for a moment before the NWO offers the help and well wishes to the Game. We will have more on Michaels’ return and the fate of the NWO next month. ***
8) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain WWE Undisputed Title with a roll-up at 23:44
Fun Fact: Undertaker was the top dog in the promotion, still trying to beat respect out of everyone. Undertaker was violently taking guys out since the first week or so after Judgment Day. Triple H wanted revenge for Taker costing him the Undisputed Title at Backlash.
Fun Fact II: On the June 6 Smackdown there was a 20-man battle royal to determine who the #1 contender would be to face Undertaker at this show. In classic fashion, Hogan and Triple H’s feet both hit the floor, so they had a match at the end of the night and Triple H won, getting his win back from Backlash.
Fun Fact III: The Rock left a couple of weeks after Wrestlemania to film The Scorpion King. He officially returned the Smackdown before this show. Also, Triple H was battling a severe elbow injury here and he has it taped heavily.
Scott: These two had a great match at Wrestlemania XVII over a year earlier. There Taker was still getting his wrestling legs after coming back in 2000 horribly out of shape and Triple H was on a roll as the promotion’s top heel. Fast forward to 2002 and the situation is very different. Taker is the champ, and is looking much better as he gets into better shape. The Game is bigger but slower and wound way too tight. His first post-injury appearance at the Royal Rumble was fine since he was facing multiple guys and no one was intently paying attention to his workrate. However against top notch competition such as Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho he’s looked slow and out of shape. Sure he couldn’t fully train on one leg, so he decided to jack his upper body up beyond recognition so he’s cosmetically looks like Thor, but moves as fast as King Kong Bundy. I’m sure many are surprised at these words considering I’m unwritten president of the Triple H Fan Club. On this forum I am an analyst and tell it like it is. At Backlash he looked slightly better against Hogan, who moves slow to begin with. However this match was unquestionably the worst scenario for both men in this situation. Undertaker needs a guy that will help him along a bit, particularly in a twenty-three minute match. Triple H is not that guy right now. So most of this match was slow punches, kicks and rolling around outside. Then there’s the Rock situation that compounds this clusterfuck. Rock comes out to help commentate, but then interferes after a bunch of accidental chair shots and after a long time of selling moves, Taker wins with a nut shot and roll up. Good lord, then to compound the idiocy, all three guys get to hit their finishers on each other. Taker of course gets his in last and his music plays as we go off the air. This whole ego jerk-off of finishers just finished thirty minutes of boring wrestling that finishes an otherwise average show. Grade: 2
Justin: Despite being as big of a dick as he could be the last six months, Taker still gets his face pop when he rides out to the ring, Undisputed title slung over his shoulder. Triple H also emerged to a nice ovation and as the two stared each other down it actually felt like a big time match. Unfortunately, that feeling would quickly dissipate. Playing off of Lesnar’s win, Paul Heyman actually stayed out on commentary for half the match, pumping up his man as the next champion. The pace early was good as they brawled all over the place and the crowd was digging it. However, the pace would slow dramatically once Taker took over and starts to punish Hunter. I liked how Heyman was putting over the title big time as it made this match feel even more important. He also took every chance he could to smack talk the Rock, saying he cowered from Lesnar when they met backstage. The basic brawling continued as each man took turns smacking the other around. The heat segment on Hunter dragged on and on and anything he could do was affected by his elbow, so it looked sloppy and ineffective. The crowd surprisingly stayed with them the whole way, so kudos to them. They are rewarded when the Rock makes an appearance and they greet him with a monster pop. Things would totally fall apart with the ref bump as Rock would get taken out, but return to drop Taker with the Rock Bottom. Taker would also survive the pedigree before rolling Hunter up for the weak finish. I will admit that this match really wasn’t as bad as its reputation, but it got pretty bad after the ref bump. I think if they tightened the match up to fifteen minutes, they could have told a better story and had an even hotter crowd backing them up. The big brawl at the end was kind of dumb too, but Taker looks strong as he lays out Rock and Hunter to close the show. Taker rolls on as champ and Hunter heads to the sidelines to rehab his elbow a bit before business picks up for him next month. Grade: 2
Scott: The fact that the winner of the tournament gets a Summerslam title shot does nothing to improve the quality of this show. The card as a whole isn’t that bad as the Cruiserweight Title match and the Ric Flair/Eddie Guerrero match were great. The women’s match was nothing offensive, and the Hogan/Angle match was decent enough. The tournament matches weren’t as good as they could have been, although I have to admit the Lesnar/Test match was much more than I was expecting it to be. The main event was an offensive mess that’s only saved by the Rock’s commentary and the comedic ending of finishers and stalling. It pisses me off that these three guys, along with Austin, were the backbone of the Attitude Era, and now Austin ran off, Rock’s about to embark on another career and Taker and Triple H effectively stunk out the joint for twenty-three minutes. It was definitely time for a major change in the overall product since the post-Invasion performances have been solid and middling but unspectacular at the top. Brock Lesnar is one new breath of fresh air, but more needs to come. One piece of the old, pre-Attitude guard has returned but only here and there. At our next outing he really gets back into the groove. One more thing about the Rock as on the 6/17 Raw he makes this “dog and pony show” promo about Getting the F out, and all that, but really two things hurt him here: One is that it’s easy for Rock to dog Austin, when his future plans were better than Austin’s anyway. Second, Rock’s leaving again soon anyway, so where does he get off doing that promo? If anything Triple H or Taker probably should have done it. This is the final nail in the KOTR tournament’s coffin for a few years and the last time it gets a PPV dedicated to it. Overall it wasn’t bad, but it ends with a thud. Final Grade: C
Justin: Just nine years earlier, there was so much excitement surrounding the debut of a yearly tournament PPV. The early editions delivered great shows, but since 1995, the June offering has been hit or miss. The majority of shows were badly booked and had shrunken down tournaments on the show itself. In the era of monthly PPVs, I don’t understand why they needed to shrink the tournament to squeeze other matches in. Why not go balls out and have the full tournament dominate the show? Those decisions led to lackluster shows and the concept is officially killed off with this show. All year, WWE has been in a state of flux. Just when they determine which direction to go, something happens and they have to veer off and mix things up yet again. Everyone worked hard here tonight and the crowd was surprisingly upbeat, but most of the matches just never really got going. The main event got way too much time and could have been much better as a shorter garbage match. Austin is gone, but Rock is back for the time being. The one man that seemed to have the full booking team behind him was Brock Lesnar. He was the one guy you could look at it and know they had a set plan of development for. Everyone else spent week after week trading wins and losses and floating aimlessly for the most part. We will get a big influx of talent over the next few weeks as the stars of the next generation begin to sprout up, making 2002 very similar to 1996 in terms of the future development of the company. King of the Ring is in the books and what was once a great idea gets put out to pasture with a middling show. Final Grade: C-
MVP: Brock Lesnar
Runner Up: Hulk Hogan & Kurt Angle
Non MVP: King of the Ring PPV
Runner Up: Triple H & Undertaker