October 20, 2002
Little Rock, Arkansas
Buy Rate: .58
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole & Tazz
Sunday Night Heat
The Hurricane (Gregory Helms) defeats Steven Richards (Mike Manna) at 3:05
Pay Per View
1) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) & Christian (Jay Reso) defeat Booker T (Booker Huffman) & Goldust (Dustin Runnels) to retain World Tag Team Championship when Jericho pins Goldust with a Lionsault at 8:46
Fun Fact: The World Tag Titles changed twice between Unforgiven and No Mercy. The night after Unforgiven in Anaheim, Kane & Hurricane stunned Christian & Lance Storm to win the titles. Christian then picked a new partner in fellow Canadian Chris Jericho. They defeated Kane & Hurricane on the 10/14 Raw in Montreal to win the straps.
Fun Fact II: On the 10/7 Raw, Eric Bischoff held a special episode entitled “Raw Roulette”. Bischoff had a wheel in his office to randomly put stipulations on matches throughout the night. Booker T defeated the Big Show in a cage match, but was attacked by Chris Jericho right after the match.
Scott: The opener is solid, as Booker T and Goldust really have settled in as a good team with nice in-ring chemistry. They’ve been battling the evil Un-Americans since Summerslam, and have just fallen short of the brass ring every time. I continue to stress the up-and-down 2002 that Chris Jericho has had. He was the Undisputed Champion at the beginning of the year, lost it, slumped, was Intercontinental Champion and now is tag champion with Christian, who’s spent the year being an antagonist at every turn. There’s no question that the Booker T-Goldust combination was a pure accident, as it turned Booker T babyface by proxy. It also made Goldust a relevant character, rather than an afterthought joke that he was expected to be when he came back at the beginning of the year. The match is pretty good but our underdog heroes fall just short again. Their quest for gold will continue, but just as at Summerslam, Christian and his partner, first Lance Storm and now Chris Jericho, stay one step ahead. Grade: 2.5
Justin: After battling long and hard, Booker & Goldust arrive in Little Rock as the top contenders for the tag straps once again. And once again, the fans are in their corner all the way. These four worked a basic tag match with Jericho & Christian working a fun little heat segment on Goldust to eat up the middle of the match. After he seemed to be an afterthought signing back in January, Goldust has worked really hard to keep his spot in the upper mid card. Plus he was in really good shape and mixed in his veteran wiles to put on entertaining matches. All of the signature spots got nice pops, but the Spinarooni was especially over with the Arkansas fans. The middle rope actually breaks mid match but all four men do a good job working around it and Jericho ends up doing a moonsault off the top rope instead of the middle rope to pick up the win. This was a solid opener that got the crowd going even though Goldust & Booker come up short once again. Grade: 2.5
2) Torrie Wilson defeats Dawn Marie (Psaltis) with a neckbreaker at 4:40
Fun Fact: Dawn Marie was another ECW import to pop up in WWE during 2002. After spending some time in the Northeast independents, she debuted at the ECW Arena on August 28, 1998 as the manager of Lance Storm in his feud with Chris Candido & Tammy Sytch. The gig was only supposed to last three weeks but Paul Heyman liked her chemistry with Storm and signed her full time. She tweaked her character to be clumsy and love struck around Storm. During the feud, Dawn went under the name Tammy Lynn Bytch as a shot at Tammy Sytch. After the feud ended, she switched it to Dawn Marie Bytch and eventually Dawn Marie. Storm would eventually team up with Justin Credible to form the Impact Players and Dawn would assist them in winning the tag team championship. Storm bolted for WCW in 2000 and Dawn was offered a contract as well but she decided to stay in ECW with her husband Simon Diamond. She would manage him and Johnny Swinger in addition to providing color commentary for PPVs and TV until ECW folded in early 2001. After ECW shut down, Dawn kept busy working the Indy circuit, training with her husband, working as a stock trader and co-hosting a wrestling radio show. Dawn signed a deal with WWE in April 2002 and debuted on the May 30 Smackdown as Mr. McMahon’s legal assistant. She would bounce around in minor angles until the fall. In the weeks leading up to this show, Dawn began making overtures towards Al Wilson, Torrie’s father. Al had been hanging around the shows with his daughter and Dawn pounced on him, tweaking Torrie. Those trysts were the impetus for the match here.
Scott: Dawn Marie, a former ECW diva has some ability, but Torrie Wilson is one of those “paint-by-numbers” kinds of women’s wrestlers. She goes at a very slow pace to make sure whatever moves she’s doing don’t look too bad. A lot of male wrestlers who are unsure of their ability wrestle like that too, and Torrie was just being cautious. The match isn’t that great, as both women look like they’re going through the motions. The best move of the match was Torrie’s neckbreaker to finish it. Otherwise, it really wasn’t much. Grade: 1
Justin: Dawn Marie makes her PPV debut and she is smoking hot as she heads to the ring to face the daughter of her new beau. You could tell Dawn had been training in the ring as she looks good and is solid in there. I will disagree with Scott a bit as I thought both ladies worked hard and kept a decent pace. It actually had some good heat and was basically just a catfight with some moves sprinkled in. As weird as the Al Wilson storyline will get, it was pretty basic at this point and that build added a little intrigue to the match. The ladies worked hard and this really wasn’t a bad little time killer. Plus I could watch Dawn out there all day. Grade: 1
3) Rob Van Dam (Szatkowski) defeats Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) with the Five Star Frog Splash at 7:59
Fun Fact: This stems from Flair’s interference that cost RVD his World Heavyweight Title match with Triple H at Unforgiven. Flair would also cost RVD a lumberjack match with Triple H on the October 14 Raw.
Scott: A pretty pedestrian match between two guys with different styles at different junctures of their careers. RVD was very popular in arenas and in the Internet Wrestling Community due to his getting “screwed” by Triple H’s politics at Unforgiven. Flair is back to a familiar heel role, being Triple H’s mentor. Of course others thought he was Triple H’s bitch, but then again Triple H wasn’t winning any arguments with any fans. The match itself is OK, as RVD gets his spots in and Flair does his usual heel posturing and such. It was nothing offensive but nothing that blew anybody away. Flair settles into this role and wrestles the on again-off again match. RVD continues to be involved in upper mid card bouts and occasional main event matches, but this one almost seems like a workout to him. Grade: 2
Justin: After flip flopping for most of the year, Flair settles into his most comfortable role: a nasty, mean spirited, gaudy, boastful heel. He struts out to the ring ready to take out his buddy’s arch enemy. RVD was pretty fired up here as he came firing out of the gate. He would dominate early but Flair would cheat to take over and would subsequently bust out all his classic heel offense. He began working the leg and would pick RVD apart piece by piece. RVD would fight him off, drop the frog splash and pick up a nice little win. He gets a good pop for the finish and he rolls on. Overall, this was a standard Flair match with some RVD spots mixed into it. It was a fun outing but nothing to write home about. Grade: 2.5
*** Backstage, Big Show confronts Eric Bischoff about being left off the PPV. Bischoff dresses him down but Show threatens him and he backs off. ***
4) Jamie Noble (James Gibson) defeats Tajiri (Yoshihiro Tajiri) to retain WWE Cruiserweight Championship after Nidia (Guenard) trips Tajiri at 8:15
Scott: The Cruiserweight Division has its ups and downs, from putting on great matches, to sometimes being totally forgotten. Noble continues to roll as the redneck champ with the nymphomaniac girlfriend. Tajiri has been a heel most of the year, being that male chauvinist boyfriend to Torrie Wilson, but then that ended and without any real climax and he just transitioned to a babyface, which left the crowd somewhat confused. The match is pretty good, as both guys hit some big strikes and make them look good, particularly since they’re both small. I always loved Tajiri’s Tarantula, but unfortunately you only see it for four seconds because it’s using the ropes. Nidia helps Noble keep his precious title, but Tajiri gets his mist in right before that. After the match Noble & Tajiri both drop wet ones on Nidia, who likes the attention. She was hot but nutty. Grade: 2.5
Justin: The cruiserweights continue to receive some face time on the Smackdown portion of PPV cards as Jamie Noble shows up to defend his Cruiserweight strap. Tajiri gets off to a quick start and showed good energy. They would trade some super stiff kicks and showed some nice chemistry as they worked a bunch of reversals. I enjoyed the various ways Noble would cut off Tajiri’s comeback attempts as it helped build some good heat during the bout. The match had a strong finishing sequence as Nidia would help her man retain his belt. This was a fun match as both men continue to deliver the goods in the ring as expected. Grade: 3
5) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) to retain World Heavyweight Championship and win WWE Intercontinental Championship with the Pedigree at 16:13
Fun Fact: The fun fact we have dreaded to write. Kane was on a roll after returning from injury. First he and the Hurricane upset Lance Storm & Christian to win the World Tag Team Titles on the 9/23 Raw. Then Kane defeated Chris Jericho on the 9/30 Raw to win the Intercontinental Title. With that win Kane earned this title shot, as Eric Bischoff said he was going to merge the World Title and the Intercontinental Title, essentially eliminating the secondary belt. On the 10/7 Raw Triple H & Ric Flair took out Kane’s tag team partner The Hurricane. That night, which was the aforementioned “Raw Roulette”, Kane had to defend the World Tag Titles on his own in a TLC match against Chris Jericho & Christian, Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley, and Rob Van Dam & Jeff Hardy. Kane won the match anyway, in one of the gutsiest performances in Raw history. After Kane’s incredible win, Triple H came out and said that Kane was a murderer, and that he murdered his friend Katie Vick in a car accident. Kane had said that it was an accident that his friend was killed. The 10/14 Raw will go down as one of the most infamous episodes in Raw history. On that night Kane & Hurricane lost the tag titles back to Christian & Chris Jericho. Then, we go to a funeral home where Katie Vick’s body was allegedly in a casket. A man wearing Kane’s mask, clearly Triple H, comes into the room, starts talking to the body, takes off his pants, and starts humping the dead body. There were rumors out there that developmental talent Scott Vick would eventually show up and take on the role of Katie’s brother but the whole thing was totally dropped and not mentioned again after this show. It will live in infamy as one of the stupidest skits in WWE history. Many fans still contend that this was the moment that officially turned them off of the product for good.
Fun Fact II: This was the first pre-PPV era title to be retired. The European and Hardcore titles had already been retired earlier in the year. On the 7/22 Raw, Rob Van Dam defeated Jeff Hardy in a ladder match to merge the European Championship into Intercontinental Championship. On the 8/27 Raw, RVD defeated Tommy Dreamer in a hardcore match to merge the Hardcore Championship into the Intercontinental Championship. RVD would then drop the belt to Chris Jericho would lose the title to Kane. The original plan was for the Intercontinental Championship to be the main belt on Raw but many backstage believed it wasn’t prestigious enough to carry the show, so the World Heavyweight Championship was created. There are also internet rumors out there that Kane was pegged as the man to hold the top belt on the show but Triple H worked to have that changed.
Scott: Well, after the clusterfuck storyline that led to this match, we get pretty much a clusterfuck of a match. The mess isn’t really between the two competitors, but everything else surrounding the bout. First off, there was absolutely no need to eliminate the Intercontinental Title, one of the most important titles with one of the most talent-laden lineages of all time. There were some great champions, such as Patterson, Steamboat, Savage, Michaels, and Ramon and some not so great ones such as Rikishi, Dean Douglas and Billy Gunn. The title has been part of some of the greatest storylines and some of the greatest feuds we know, including Savage/Steamboat and Rude/Warrior and some good ones you may have forgotten about, like Razor Ramon/Jeff Jarrett and Triple H/Rock. So instead of keeping the title in the mid-card for the more athletic competitors to fight over, the lazy bookers just get rid of it. Speaking of the bookers, what possessed anybody, including Vince, Gewirtz and Heyman, to come up with the idea to have Triple H put a Kane mask on and hump a corpse? I mean really, what the hell? I know on the “McMahon” DVD Triple H says it was Vince’s idea and Vince really thought it would come off well on television. Huh? After the slick, shocking and fabulous writing of the Attitude Era, this was one of the seminal moments when it looked like the product may reach the abyss again. Just like in 1995, maybe it was time to hit rock bottom and come back again. That’s a question for another day. As for this match it tried to get going and the crowd was slowly starting to get into it. Yet every time the crowd was ready to explode, the match sunk again. Then once Ric Flair came in to interfere the match really circled the bowl. It turned into a handicap match at one point, and not a “Darn…Kane’s not getting a fair shake”, it’s more like “Damnit Flair, just leave so the match can continue!” Finally a Pedigree finishes it. I like the match a little more than I did before, but it lacked a real flow and the constant Flair interference made it more annoying to watch than anything else. Oh yeah, did I say the storyline sucked? Grade: 2
Justin: Despite the garbage storyline, poor Kane was showing some new personality and was in tremendous shape as he was handed a main event storyline. He was really over here as well as the fans stayed with him throughout the nonsense. The match gets off to a slow start with both men landing a lot of basic strikes early. As if the angle wasn’t already stupid enough, Jerry Lawler had to annoy the world by constantly harping on Katie Vick throughout the match. Triple H would take control but Kane would keep battling back. Hunter would slow things down quite a bit though and it killed a somewhat hot open. And just when the pace would start to pick up again, Ric Flair showed up and totally messed up the flow by constantly interfering. The crowd was starting to stir and you could tell they were ready to burst for a Kane win but it would never come. They do give Kane a big pop when he chokeslams Hunter on the announce table. Flair would save Triple H multiple times until he finally helped him pick up the win. The match was decent but just too choppy and never got on track. You could tell they were going for a Horsemen feel with the constant interference and the Champion barely escaping, but they went overboard with it. With such an insipid story, Kane going over strong could have saved it, but they had different things in mind for the title. Many fans were completely turned off by this angle as it was just totally inane and really stupid. They basically ret-conned Kane’s entire history with three weeks of nonsense. The smartest thing they did with this angle was completely dropping it the next night. It was very similar to the Undertaker/Undertaker angle in 1994. It was cringe worthy while it lasted but completely vanished the night after the blow-off. Triple H retains his belt and Katie Vick is banished but these two weren’t done with each other just yet. Grade: 2.5
6) Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit defeats Edge (Adam Copeland) & Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) to win the finals of the WWE Tag Team Title tournament when Edge submits to a Kurt Angle Anklelock at 22:03
Fun Fact: So with the one pair of tag titles residing on Raw, Smackdown General Manager Stephanie McMahon said there would be a WWE Tag Team Championship on her show. With the establishment of these belts, Raw’s belts would now be called the World Tag Team Titles. A tournament took place between October 3 and October 20. Here are the results: First Round: Los Guerreros defeated Mark Henry & Rikishi; Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle defeated Billy Kidman & John Cena; Reverend D-Von & Ron Simmons defeated Billy & Chuck; Edge & Rey Mysterio defeated Brock Lesnar & Tajiri. Semifinals: Benoit & Angle defeated Los Guerreros; Edge & Rey Mysterio defeated Reverend D-Von & Ron Simmons.
Fun Fact II: Stephanie McMahon told Benoit & Angle, who continued to be at each other’s throats after their Unforgiven match, that they had to be a team in the tournament, and if they got into a physical altercation, both would be suspended for six months without pay.
Scott: On the flip side of what we just watched is one of 2002’s best matches. When Paul Heyman became the chief writer on Smackdown, he focused on what was known as the “Smackdown Six” that Justin alluded to in our Unforgiven review. Chris Benoit, Kurt Angle, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and the Guerreros were unquestionably the six most talented guys in the entire company as they were a slight cut above a few others like RVD, Lesnar and Jericho. So Heyman knew the best thing to do to make Smackdown a show worth watching was to put these guys in almost all the main storylines other than the WWE Title picture. With two separate shows, and two primary championships, that means there needs to be two pairs of tag team championships. So, a tournament was set up and the finals featured these four. Right now, everything Benoit and Angle touches turns to gold, including the match against each other at Unforgiven. So in what was an ingenious storyline hook by Heyman, GM Stephanie McMahon forced Angle & Benoit to be a team in the tournament. This leads to a series of stellar matches, including an awesome semifinal between Angle, Benoit and the Guerreros. This match was non-stop action from bell to bell, as both Edge and Rey Mysterio really kept the pace with two studs like Angle & Benoit. In the end there’s a great barrage of possible covers, but Angle’s finisher is too much for Edge to overcome. A superb match that needs to be watched and put on a DVD compilation to show when four great, dedicated talents go out and give 100% this is what you get. Grade: 5
Justin: Stephanie McMahon had claimed that she wanted the best tag team division in the world and she got things off to a hot start with the tournament finals. The big question heading in was whether Angle and Benoit could coexist long enough to take home the gold. To do it, they would have to take out two close friends that had been working as a well oiled machine. All four men were familiar with each other and the match was oozing with chemistry. They had an awesome back and forth pace as both teams traded control of the offense. Rey was especially on fire and just had crazy energy at this point, never stopping or slowing up. I liked the double heat segment by Benoit and Angle as it really got the crowd into things. Angle hit all of his big moves as well which added to the drama. The crowd continued to rock with some tremendous near falls. One of the best spots of the bout was when Rey drilled Benoit with a 619 while he had the crossface on Edge. Edge would get the closest near fall of the match with a quick roll up on Angle, but Kurt and Chris were just a hair better on this night. Angle and Edge would work some nice reversals as Kurt locked on the Anklelock. Eventually, though, Kurt would cinch it in and Edge was forced to tap out. This was just an awesome match and is pretty legendary as one of the last great pure wrestling tag team matches WWE has put on. All four men busted their asses and broke out a classic. Stephanie McMahon was granted her wish as Smackdown now featured the greatest tag division in the wrestling world. If you haven’t seen this one, go find it and check it out. Grade: 5
7) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeats Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) to retain WWE Women’s Championship with a roll-up at 5:31
Fun Fact: In early 2000, Lisa Marie Varon ran into Chyna at a local gym. Chyna told her she had a good look and recommended that she get into wrestling. Varon had grown up in California and had worked the bodybuilding and fitness competition circuit. During her time as a fitness model, she met Trish Stratus, who was also working the circuit. At Chyna’s behest, she put together a tape and sent it the then WWF. After a brief stint with UPW in June, Bruce Pritchard hired her. Her first on air role with the WWF was as one of Godfather’s hoes. After Godfather joined the RTC, he turned on his hoes and powerbombed Victoria through a table in a nasty bump. In November, Victoria was taken off TV and sent down to WWF’s developmental territory in Memphis. There she worked on her in ring skills as well honing her character. She returned to the big time on the July 7, 2002 Sunday Night Heat. She immediately attacked Trish, whom she claimed had backstabbed her in their fitness model days. Victoria’s gimmick was an interesting one as she portrayed a sadistic, demented heel that often heard from and spoke to voices in her head. Four months after showing up on Heat, Victoria makes her PPV debut here.
Scott: Mere filler to the main event. Slowly Trish Stratus is becoming the face of the Women’s division but up to this point the matches have strictly been filler between a hot mid-card match and the main event. I feel that ends here as Victoria really becomes a thorn in Trish’s side. She’s athletic, has the skills and can carry the not-as-much-but-still-a-little green Stratus to a good little match. Trish gets the roll-up but Victoria with a post-match cheap shot keeps the feud going. A highly entertaining rematch will be next month, but right now Trish wins the battle, but Victoria continues the war. Grade: 2
Justin: After a red hot tag title match, Trish heads out to a familiar spot: cool down match before the main event. However, as Scott said, with Victoria in the mix, Trish was starting to elevate herself out of that role. JR and King put over Victoria big time, establishing her as Trish’s toughest challenge yet, mainly due to her size and strength. The match was decent and you could tell that these two were going to have solid chemistry as they were already working well together. Trish continues to improve and steals another win to keep the title around her waist. This feud was far from over, however, as they throw down again next month. Grade: 1.5
8) Brock Lesnar defeats the Undertaker (Mark Callaway) to retain WWE Championship in a Hell in a Cell match with an F-5 at 27:18
Fun Fact: After these two men brawled to a no contest at Unforgiven, the feud raged on. On the 9/26 Smackdown, Brock attacked Taker after a match with Matt Hardy. He beat him down with his belt and busted the Deadman open. A week later, Heyman told Brock that Stephanie was sure to force him into a rematch at No Mercy and that there were rumors of a stipulation as well. Later that night, Taker and Brock had a brief brawl in the ring, during which Taker broke his hand. The following week, more damage was inflicted on Taker’s hand during a brawl with Hardy. Later that night, Heyman, Brock and an unknown lady hit the ring. Heyman made the announcement that Taker had requested a Hell in a Cell match at No Mercy and intimated that it was a lock. He also introduced the lady as Tracy, someone who knew what kind of man Undertaker was. Before they could continue, Taker came out and chased Brock and Heyman off. Tracy grabbed the mic and went on to explain that had been sleeping with Taker for the last three months. She started yelling at Taker, saying she didn’t know he was married and that his wife was pregnant. She had agreed to keep their relationship secret and now she knew why he had requested that. She apologized to Sara for revealing this on TV while Paul and Brock laughed it up on the floor. Taker grabbed the mic and said he had no idea who Tracy even was but she slapped him and took off. Finally, on the 10/17 Smackdown, Taker came out and admitted he did know who Tracy was but he hadn’t seen her in seven years. Their relationship ended a long time before he even met his wife. Later that night, Taker assaulted Brock and busted him open after a match with Chuck Palumbo. In the final segment of that show, Stephanie came out and announced that despite Taker’s broken hand, he would be allowed to compete at the PPV. Brock and Taker would end up brawling one more time and the show faded out with a shot of Taker’s bloody cast.
Fun Fact II: This is Undertaker’s sixth Hell in a Cell match and his fifth on PPV.
Scott: Our main event is a rematch of a solid battle with a really lousy ending at Unforgiven. I’m going to comment on this match on its own accord. I’m not going to get into the fact that Taker was on many fans’ shit list for not laying down at Unforgiven. We were given this rematch and let’s leave it at that. The match is brutal, as both men hit big time strikes in the ring and on the walls of the Cell. Taker even brutalizes Paul Heyman from inside, leaving him with a crimson mask for the duration of the match. Both men get a good portion of the match to showcase some real brutality. Taker controls first, as Lesnar is busted open and takes a good licking for the first 12-13 minutes of the match. By the end of the match Lesnar’s blood dries up and his face is pretty much clean again. Taker takes a big shot about halfway through and the veteran that he is bleeds like a stuck pig and really gives the match a sense of violence. The climax has Taker going for his patented Tombstone, but Lesnar slips out of it, turns it into an F-5 and retains his title. Now for years I always considered this a five star match. Now watching it again, I have to knock some grade off for two reasons. The main reason is that Brock Lesnar still doesn’t understand how to tackle a main event. He goes over 27 minutes with the Undertaker, barely lifting him up for the F-5 and getting the victory. Suddenly, he gets up, hulks up, climbs the top of the cell and holds the belt over his head like he just beat Brady Boone or Barry O in a four minute squash. Come on Brock, watch some other Cell matches. Even Triple H sells after a beating. The other thing that shaves the grade a bit is the length. Without any real crazy spots and just constant bludgeoning, they probably could have taken five or six minutes off this match. That doesn’t bother me that much, but the no-selling by Brock after the match really irritates me. Otherwise, this is a top five match of the year. Grade: 4.5
Justin: After a clusterfuck finish last month and a four week internet fan beating, Taker was set to prove that he could deliver a phenomenal match and put over the new young stud in the process. Taker’s broken hand was the big question coming in and it would play a big role throughout the match. This bout had a big match feel as the crowd buzzed early. The build up was solid and it told an interesting story of Brock’s inexperience vs. Taker’s expertise in Cell matches. Taker sold the hand early as Brock punished it relentlessly. I enjoyed Heyman’s antics at ringside as he bounced around and was very active. Taker would battle back and use his cast as a weapon to regain control. Brock would be the first to bleed as Taker used the cage to work him over. He would then yank Heyman into the side of the cage, busting him open and taking him out of the equation. Brock would use his power to battle back and begin to punish the hand once again. The bout was hard hitting throughout and Heyman lying at ringside, bloodied and yelling was great stuff. Taker does a fantastic job selling the hand injury and he emphasizes it by not being able to lift the stairs up. Despite the stiff action, the crowd was a bit quiet for most of the match, only popping for the big spots. As Scott mentioned, Taker slices a vein and bleeds buckets all over the ring. It was a pretty nasty visual. The crowd finally woke up for all the big moves and near falls towards the end. Taker was covered in blood as he drops Brock with a chokeslam and Last Ride, but Brock would survive both moves. He would reverse the Tombstone and drop Taker with an F-5 for a clean and impressive win. The match was sick and stiff and was a star maker for Brock. For all that he may have done wrong at Unforgiven. Taker stepped up his game and delivered here. Upon watching this match again, I lowered my grade a bit due to the length and some of the middle portion. I am not advocating some sort of sick bump, but 27 minutes of straight brawling with minimal big spots was just a bit too much. It was still a great match and the match that solidified Brock as a legit superstar, but not the five star classic it is often considered to be. Taker would actually disappear for a while after this match, not returning until January. Brock would continue to roll along as Champion, but he had an even bigger challenge awaiting him next month. Grade: 4
Scott: Like Unforgiven, this was another show that had some ups and some downs. On the plus side, there were two matches over four stars, including the match of the year for 2002 with Angle, Benoit, Edge and Rey, 2/3 of the “Smackdown Six”. The Cell match was a coming out party for Brock Lesnar, even if he doesn’t really sell it at the end. I enjoyed the tag opener and the Cruiserweight match as well, as everyone brought the energy in those matches and did the best they could with them. Now we will talk about the negatives. The women’s matches were place warmers, and the RVD/Flair match was a lot of sizzle, but very little steak. The Triple H/Kane match had a atrocious storyline, but even there the match could have had promise if there was any flow and the seven minutes of Flair interference didn’t wreck it. The product is really all over the place right now. A returning star from injury injects some much needed energy into Raw, whereas Smackdown may not have the personalities, but the wrestling is off the charts. Some fresh matchups and a new lasting gimmick highlight our next effort, as well as a much anticipated debut. I’ll grade this one about in the middle. Final Grade: C+
Justin: This show poses that old classic question. Can two stellar matches save a three hour PPV? In this case, I would have to say yes. The reasoning is this. The two best matches on the card were big time bouts and not meaningless undercard matches. The tag title match was a true MOTY and featured four major players and decided a new championship. The main event was for the WWE Championship and made Brock Lesnar’s career. Those two matches alone make this an important show with lasting implications. The undercard was solid enough, despite a few rough spots. Everyone worked hard and the build for all of the matches was well done. With separate Champions on each brand, things were finally starting to settle down a bit. The next month would be pretty straightforward, but some major changes were on the way in the form of our next PPV. This was definitely a good effort and one of the better shows of the year when you factor in major match quality and importance. We will see if Vince can keep the momentum going through the end of 2002. Final Grade: B-
MVP: Edge, Rey Mysterio, Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle
Runner Up: Undertaker & Brock Lesnar
Non MVP: Triple H & Kane
Runner Up: Rob Van Dam