November 17, 2002
Madison Square Garden
New York City, New York
Buy Rate: .67
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole & Tazz
Sunday Night Heat
Lance Storm (Lance Evers) & William Regal (Darren Matthews) defeat the Hurricane (Gregory Helms) & Goldust (Dustin Runnells)
Pay Per View
1) Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley (Ray Lomonica) & Spike Dudley (Matt Hyson) defeat Rico (Constantino) & Three Minute Warning in an elimination tables match
Rosey (Eddie Fatu) & Jamal (Matt Anoia) eliminate Spike at 4:25
Hardy eliminated Rosey at 7:59
Jamal eliminated Hardy at 11:12
Bubba eliminated Jamal at 12:50
Bubba eliminated Rico at 14:22
Fun Fact: On the 11/11 Raw, Three Minute Warning wiped out Bubba, Spike and Jeff, finishing the beat down by putting Hardy and Spike through a table with a splash.
Scott: A fun little opener involving some guys who needed something to do. Three Minute Warning was smoking hot when they first came in as Eric Bischoff’s muscle but that faded quickly after the “Hot Lesbian Action” angle crapped out. I liked Rosey & Jamal in that for two big guys they moved fairly well around the ring and really made their power moves seem strong. On top of the fact two of the three guys on the other team, Hardy and Spike, take bumps better than anybody. Jeff Hardy does two pretty impressive spots. He repeats his 2000 Royal Rumble move when he dropped a Swanton Bomb off the MSG entranceway onto a table and his opponent. The other move was more of a screw-up but still pretty funny. He runs across the barricade, but slips before jumping and gets plowed into a table that was thrown by Jamal. In the end Bubba is getting triple-teamed, despite Rosey and Jamal having already been eliminated. However Bubba is saved, because its time to testify! D-Von returns in his Dudleys garb and he saves his half-brother. They drop Rico with a 3-D through the table to end the match. Clearly the “Reverend D-Von” had run its course, and that was joined with Bubba Ray’s flopped solo run on Raw. So just reunite them and put them back where they belong, chasing a Tag Title. D-Von would move over to Raw and help in that cause. Overall a really well done opener that gets the Garden crowd buzzing. Grade: 3
Justin: For the first time since January 2000, WWE PPV returns to MSG and yours truly was in the house. Jeff gets the biggest pop here, as usual, and the match got out of the gate hot with some non stop action. 3MW would work over Spike as they gained some control. Rico was absolutely ripped here as he continues to increase his wrestling appearances. Spike would eat a nice double flapjack through a table and would be the first man out. Bubba and Jeff would actually show some nice teamwork and could have been a cool little team if they wanted to go that way. Bubba hit a sweet Bubba Bomb on Jamal before all five men began brawling in the aisle. Jeff would fend off Rosey, lay him on a table and drop the huge Swanton from the balcony to a huge pop. Not to be outdone, Jamal would hit a sick splash off the top rope onto Jeff, who was on a table on the floor. Bubba was able to take out Jamal, but he and Rosey would stick around to aid Rico. It was then that D-Von made his surprise return to Raw and his brother’s side. D-Von would get a huge pop and the brothers would drop Rico with the 3-D to pick up the win. This was a fun opener that kept a good pace despite being choppy. The Dudleys are back together and the Raw tag division just got a bit more interesting. Grade: 2.5
2) Billy Kidman (Peter Gruner) defeats Jamie Noble (James Gibson) to win WWE Cruiserweight Championship with the Shooting Star Press at 7:29
Fun Fact: On the November 7 Smackdown, Kidman teamed up with Torrie Wilson to battle Noble and Nidia. Kidman would pick up the win for his team by pinning the champion. He would defeat him again in a non title one on one match a week later.
Scott: A fun match that really kept the MSG crowd rocking after that fun opener. I enjoyed Noble and his white trash gimmick, and Nidia had a personality that any man would want: a hot girlfriend with daisy dukes whose favorite hobby is sticking her tongue down your throat. Kidman was always serviceable for a good match, and this was no different. The match had a good pace and what I liked about Noble’s moveset is that for a small guy he liked using power moves, including his Tigerbomb finisher. Kidman is a good bumper, and his Shooting Star Press was the best in the business at that point. The match had plenty of Nidia interference, but Kidman overcomes it, hits his move and Noble’s run as Champ comes to an end. This was a great match that keeps the MSG crowd going strong. Grade: 3.5
Justin: Kidman rolls into MSG coming off two big pinfall victories over the champ in consecutive weeks. He tries to capitalize on that success with some rapid fire pin attempts to open the match. He was very aggressive throughout the match and Noble would keep pace with him. Both men would unleash their impressive arsenals and work in some great reversals as well. The offensive flow would ebb back and forth, only being broken when Nidia would get involved, which was often. The match really hit its peak with two great near falls after a Kidman BK Bomb and a Noble Tigerbomb. Noble would also crush Kidman with a nasty hanging DDT. It looked like Kidman broke his neck but he was able to kick out to stay alive. A brief moment later, Kidman would take out Noble, head up top and drop a beautiful SSP for the win and mega pop. Nidia did her best to help her man in the match, but the trailer park duo came up just short. The match was filled with great high impact offense and was quite fun to watch. Grade: 3
3) Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) defeats Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) in a hardcore match to win WWE Women’s Championship with a suplex on a fire extinguisher at 7:01
Fun Fact: After Trish’s win at No Mercy, this feud continued to percolate. The night after No Mercy on Raw, Victoria, Chris Jericho & Christian defeated Booker T, Goldust, & Stratus when Trish submitted to the Walls of Jericho. The following week after Trish defeated Ivory, she and Victoria brawled on the ramp. The week before the show, Victoria laid down a vicious beating on Terri before Trish made the save. The crux of the feud began to focus on Victoria’s jealousy of Trish’s looks and position in the company. Victoria was looking to take Trish out and destroy her looks and in turn, end her success.
Scott: This was a pretty different type of match, as we have two very attractive women smacking the crap out of each other with garbage can lids and other weapons. Now Trish was a fitness model, so you wouldn’t think she would agree to a match where she would be truly smacked in the face with something. Victoria, although attractive, clearly cares more about putting on a great match than her makeup smudging. I love this match simply because these two athletes went all out for seven minutes and really put over the match. After the Women’s Title was kind of forgotten for much of the middle of the year we’ve had a couple of good matches between these two. Victoria gets the suplex on the fire extinguisher for the win and we have a new champion. This feud continues and now we really start seeing Trish Stratus become the main face of the women’s division for the next few years. Grade: 3.5
Justin: As the weeks wore on after No Mercy, we began to see Victoria slide deeper into a pool of insanity. Her jealousy of Trish reached a peak and she would look to take Stratus out here in a hardcore war. Victoria would assault Trish right out of the gate, including a nice hanging choke with a broom from the corner. The two would trade some stiff trash can shots with the stiffest coming in the form of a Trish slingshot. After some great cane shots, Victoria’s nose would be busted open, adding to the hatred of the match. After a bit of choppiness early, the match really got into a nice groove with some rough shots from two ladies looking to prove themselves to the fans. The finish was a bit weak and came out of nowhere, but the middle of the match was really good and they both worked super hard to out on a great match. Victoria wins her first Championship and takes control of the Women’s division as Trish takes a step back to regroup. Grade: 2.5
4) Big Show (Paul Wight) defeats Brock Lesnar to win WWE Championship with a chokeslam on a steel chair at 4:19
Fun Fact: According to various internet sources, Hulk Hogan was originally set to face Lesnar here in a rematch from Lesnar’s brutal beating on Smackdown in August. However, McMahon wanted Hogan to put Brock over again, but Hogan balked and wanted to win the belt so Vince told him thanks, but no thanks. Hogan would be off TV until February.
Fun Fact II: On the 10/24 Smackdown, Big Show came out after a Matt Hardy/Rikishi match. After taking out Rikishi, Show announced that he had been traded to Smackdown and was laying down a challenge to Brock Lesnar. Later in the show, Lesnar and Undertaker had a face to face interview in which they discussed their Hell in the Cell match the night before and basically cleared the air and showed mutual respect towards each other. Show would make another appearance and rip apart both men, claiming he was the reason Taker lost to Brock. Taker would retort and then head to the back. However, as he was heading up the ramp, Show reappeared and assaulted him. He ran him into the set and then press slammed him off the stage and on to the floor. The assault would keep Taker off TV until 2003. A week later, Paul Heyman did his best to talk Lesnar out of accepting Show’s challenge due to the beating he received in the Cell. Paul flat out told Brock that he couldn’t beat Show in the condition he was in, mainly due to busted up ribs. Later that night, Show would come out and lay down his challenge again and Brock came out to accept. During the confrontation, Show mentioned that he was “advised” to wait until the PPV to take Brock out, so he left him alone that night. Tazz would point out that Show said “advised” when talking. Show would quickly change his tune, however, as he did assault Lesnar at the end of his match with Rey Mysterio. He beat him down outside the ring and then dropped him through the announce table with a Chokeslam. The following week, Show again assaulted Brock after a match, this time press slamming him off the stage and onto the floor. Earlier that night, Heyman had again begged Brock not to go after Show for his own safety. The stage was set for the big showdown and Show had pretty much dominated the feud heading in.
Fun Fact III: Lesnar had legitimately injured his ribs and was not 100% heading into the match.
Scott: Smackdown’s top match was quick but effective. Lesnar had been absolutely dominant from the moment he came out the Raw after Wrestlemania until this show. He couldn’t be pinned and his workrate was powerful and effective. However now after the Hell in the Cell war with Undertaker, you could slowly see the change. Lesnar was starting to get the cheers from the fans. They liked this big monster killing everyone, so what’s the best way to roll with that? Make his next opponent just as big a heel. So Big Show, who was traded to Smackdown from Raw, gets in Lesnar’s face after dumping Taker off the stage the Smackdown after No Mercy, sending him on a little vacation. The other thing that needed to be done was weed Heyman off of him since Heyman is a complete heat magnet. You could somewhat tell that Heyman was going to turn on his “Next Big Thing” and side with the bigger monster. So, bruised ribs and all, Lesnar suffers his first pinfall loss. It was bound to happen, and the story was pretty well set to allow for that. The match really wasn’t much, and I was kind of surprised that it was only four minutes. Even the Women’s match between Trish and Victoria was three minutes longer. True that the Chamber match needed a good forty minutes, but this could have been at least seven or eight minutes. In any event the effect was that Lesnar’s no longer champion or invincible, and Show wins his first World Title in exactly three years. Grade: 2
Justin: Coming off a brutal HITC match with Undertaker, Brock was beaten and bruised. His agent Paul Heyman had spent the last three weeks begging the Champ to lay low and avoid his giant challenger. Brock heeded those warnings, but they left him open to a few assaults and they resulted in some battered ribs. Since being traded from Raw, Big Show has been completely rebuilt. He had pretty much been an afterthought since early 2001, but they take some time and reestablish him as a nasty monster, explaining it by saying “the giant has been awoken”. Brock gets a big pop from the MSG fans as he was officially getting quite over. The fans would chant for him throughout the match. Show would work the ribs and the story would be Lesnar’s valiance. Despite the injury, Brock would still show some sick strength with a German suplex and belly-to-belly on Show. The referee would get taken out and Lesnar would unleash some chairshots and a super impressive F5 to a huge pop. The ref would recover and start to count, but Paul Heyman would turn his back on his charge and yank the ref out of the ring. After guiding Brock since his debut, Heyman has decided to latch onto the bigger, nastier Show. Show would use a chair on Lesnar and then drop him with a Chokeslam to pick up the win and title, much to the shock and anger of the fans. The match had to be kept short due to Brock’s injury, but it told the story and got the job done. The shocking turn was complete and Brock was now lined up to be the top face on Smackdown. Heyman and Show would bolt the arena, but they now held the gold and the top spot on Thursday nights. Grade: 1.5
5) Los Guerreros defeat Edge (Adam Copeland) & Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) and Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit in a triple threat elimination match to win WWE Tag Team Championships
Edge pinned Benoit with the spear at 13:09
Eddie Guerrero forces Rey Mysterio to submit to the Lasso from El Paso at 19:25
Fun Fact: Since winning the titles in the classic war at No Mercy, Benoit and Angle continued to fight and argue with each other week in and week out. That in fighting would lead to them losing the titles to Mysterio & Edge in a best of three falls match on the 11/7 Smackdown. Stephanie would then make the match here between the top three teams on Smackdown. Benoit and Angle would face off on the 11/14 Smackdown, but Rey, Edge and the Guerreros would interfere to cause a no contest. Angle and Benoit would win the big brawl and reconcile afterwards.
Scott: The Smackdown Six puts on another stellar performance for the MSG crowd. Heyman’s booking of Smackdown right now is second to none, and it’s going to be needed a lot more when 2003 dawns. Benoit and Angle have been awesome with literally every PPV match they’ve been in, whether it’s against each other or as a team. Except for that Kane match at Wrestlemania, Angle might be our front-runner for PPV wrestler of the year. Edge hasn’t been a slouch either as he’s really brought the workrate also, although it doesn’t hurt that two of his PPV outings were against Angle. Rey Mysterio continues to amaze fans with his skills and aerial wizardry. As for Eddie and Chavo, well Eddie came literally from out of nowhere to bring his game back to the levels we know, and Chavo quietly holds his own as well. Really no one was held back here as all six guys went out for a crowd truly respectful, yet picky, when it comes to workrate and guts. Angle & Benoit finally explode here as they are eliminated and their feud is reenergized. Nice win for Los Guerreros as they begin an entertaining and workrate-friendly 2003. Grade: 4
Justin: The resurgence of tag team wrestling raged on since the creation of the Smackdown tag titles. The story heading into this showdown was whether Angle and Benoit could be cohesive and keep it together long enough to regain their straps. Rey would get a big pop for his MSG PPV debut and would show all sorts of great energy throughout the match. Edge and Rey would dominate early but the tide would turn and the other four men would start a heat segment on Rey’s neck. The pace would slow down quite a bit as Rey was worked over. Benoit and Angle would sneak in a great double team Anklelock and Crossface at one point, showing that they may be getting it together. Things would pick back up and despite being a heel for most of the year, Benoit was way over with the NYC fans. All six men would bust out a big finisher frenzy that featured a sweet Eddie frog splash into Benoit headbutt combo. Chavo would take an opening to smack Benoit with a belt. Chris would think it was Kurt and things unraveled from there. During the confusion, Edge pinned Benoit, bringing out a loud series of boos for the elimination. Angle and Benoit would continue to argue in the midst of wiping out the four remaining men. With Benoit and Angle gone, the crowd would flatten out, but the pace would get a bit better as the three team format had led to a choppy flow. The Guerreros would use some crisp offense and nice double teams to take over the contest. They would also cheat to win, using tactics that would become their calling card. I would say the finish was a mild upset as the Guerreros seemed to be viewed as the third team on the ladder heading in. The match was pretty good but I don’t think it was up to the lofty standards these men had set over the months prior. Benoit and Angle are officially done as a unit, but they were far from finished with each other. Grade: 3.5
Fun Fact: Christopher Nowinski was a Harvard graduate that made the finals of the original Tough Enough reality show. After losing, he hit the independent circuit, but was quickly rehired by WWE and sent to the developmental territory. He was called up for the June 10 Raw and he helped William Regal defeat Bradshaw. He and Regal would form a brief partnership, helping each other win matches. Nowinski won his first televised match on June 17 when he defeated Spike Dudley. Nowinski would use his Harvard background to show off his intelligence and often talk down to other wrestlers and fans. He would bounce around through the fall before getting into a feud with Maven and Al Snow over the Tough Enough results. He comes out here to run down the NYC fans.
Fun Fact II: On the August 12 Raw, a seething Matt Hardy attacked his brother and cost him a match against Rob Van Dam. Matt was annoyed that he had been passed over for an IC title match. After the attack, he jumped ship to Smackdown to embark on a singles career and a heel run. On October after a big win over the Undertaker, thanks to an assist from Brock Lesnar, Matt began to revamp his persona. He dubbed himself Matt Hardy: Version One. Matt would begin acting more arrogant and also a bit delusional. He began challenging top stars like Lesnar, Undertaker and Big Show and would often be a thorn in their sides during other matches and feuds. One of the best aspects of the new gimmick was his new entrance. He was given a great new theme song, a cool computer design graphic and the ever popular Matt Facts. The Facts would provide mundane and bizarre details about Hardy’s lifestyle and beliefs. For the first time, Matt had really crafted an interesting character and he really started to get over with his arrogance and ballsy actions each week.
Fun Fact III: We last saw Scott Steiner in a WWF ring back in 1994. Since then, he and his brother would hit Japan and ECW before settling back into WCW in early 1996. After a successful tag run, the Steiners finally split up and began to feud. A heavily bulked up Scott turned on his brother, cut his hair, dyed it blonde and hooked up with the NWO. He would adopt the nickname “Big Poppa Pump” and would begin ripping off angered, crazed, profanity laden tirades dripping with sexual innuendos. Steiner would win both the TV and US Championships and would stay a major player after the demise of the NWO. Rick would eventually turn heel as well and he and Scott would again join forces. Steiner would hurt his back in late 1999 but after a teased retirement angle, he would turn on Sid and hook back up with the revamped NWO in early 2000. After the NWO once again crumbled, Steiner would be at the forefront of the New Blood faction and would win his first WCW Heavyweight Championship from Booker T. on November 26, 2000. He would go on a red hot tear, taking out major names left and right up until WCW officially shut its doors. He would drop the title back to Booker on the final Nitro, but when WCW folded he was one of the hottest wrestlers out there. Instead of inking a deal with WWF immediately, he instead waited for his AOL Time Warner contract to run out. In November 2001, Steiner joined up with the fledgling WWA. On April 12, 2002, he defeated Sid to win the WWA Heavyweight Championship. He would never defend it and the title would be vacated when he left for WWE. Steiner signed in October and his signing was leaked intentionally by WWE. It was made fairly obvious that he would be appearing here but never officially announced prior to the show.
*** Chris Nowinski and Matt Hardy come out to insult the MSG crowd. They would team up to gain some cheap heat on the NYC fans and get the crowd whipped up into a furor. Things would turn around, however, when the lights went down and the sirens starting blaring. Big Poppa Pump arrived in MSG to a monster pop. Justin was in attendance and claims that it was one of the loudest pops he has ever heard at a live show. The crowd was rocking as Steiner wiped the mat with Nowinski and Hardy, only stopping to do some pushups and play to the crowd. Steiner was way over and would officially declare himself a free agent. He would play up both sides and would make his decision in December. ***
6) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque), Booker T (Booker Huffman), Kane (Glen Jacobs), Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski), and Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) in an Elimination Chamber match to win World Heavyweight Championship
Booker T defeats Van Dam with a missile drop kick at 13:37
Jericho defeats Booker T with a Lionsault at 17:43
Jericho defeats Kane with a Lionsault at 22:53
Michaels defeats Jericho with Sweet Chin Music at 30:43
Michaels defeats Triple H with Sweet Chin Music at 39:20
Fun Fact: The road to the Elimination Chamber began the night after No Mercy on the 10/21 Raw. GM Eric Bischoff said he wanted to do something big, something to trump the Hell in the Cell match that Smackdown had that main evented No Mercy. So he came up with this contraption that no one could really wrap their heads around until they saw it at the PPV. The next week Bischoff described it further. He said the match was a hybrid between the Royal Rumble, a Survivor Series match, and NWA/WCW’s War Games match. The structure is a big steel structure enclosed in chains that’s even with the ring apron. In it are four chambers encased in Plexiglas. There are a total of six competitors, two will start the match and the other four will go into these chambers. Every five minutes a random participant will enter. The match continues until five men are pinned or made to submit. The last man standing will be World Heavyweight Champion. Then he announced the participants: Champion Triple H, Rob Van Dam (Screwed at Unforgiven), Kane (Screwed at No Mercy), Booker T, Chris Jericho, and the returning Shawn Michaels, who hadn’t been seen since Triple H crushed him in the back with a sledgehammer at Summerslam. He returned on the October 28 Raw when he popped out of a casket and attacked Triple H during a match with Kane. From that point on, all six men would interfere in each other’s matches and pretty much cause havoc until this night at the Garden, in particular Michaels and Triple H.
Fun Fact II: Just as were hearing from Shawn Michaels prior to the match, the interview was interrupted by an RNN Update. The update featured rookie wrestler Randy Orton, arm in a sling, giving a status update on his injured arm. Randy Orton was a third generation star, the son of Cowboy Bob Orton, Jr. and grandson of Bob Orton, Sr. After being trained by his father, Orton hit the Indy scene throughout 2000 and 2001. In 2001, Orton would sign on with WWE and was assigned to Ohio Valley Wrestling. He would win a pair of Hardcore Championships prior to being called up to the big leagues. He would make his debut on the April 25 Smackdown when he defeated Hardcore Holly. He would bounce around the mid card throughout the summer, wrestling on TV on an occasional basis. In September he was traded to Raw and picked up a win over Stevie Richards in his debut. Within a few weeks, Orton separated his shoulder and hit the sidelines to recover. While he was recovering, Orton stayed on TV, in his own Randy News Network segment, a weekly vignette that featured him talking about his condition and providing great updates with random percentages of health. The segment would interrupt other segments of Raw programming, allowing Orton to develop a narcissistic and self-centered attitude as he switched over to the heel side. Orton would keep the updates coming before making a big splash early in 2003.
Scott: So going in you had a feeling that this match would have that special flair to it. Not only is it six very good workers but you have this crazy structure that has a lot of chain link and a steel grate for a ground surface, plus plenty of glass to throw people through. It was also obvious that Triple H needed this match as he had been slumping of late. There was no telling what kind of pleasurable train wreck this match would provide. Overall it was a lot of fun, as all the guys were able to shine at one point or another. Besides Michaels winning, Jericho probably looked the next best here, as he gets two pins before falling to HBK’s Sweet Chin Music. The match probably didn’t need to be this long, as Triple H and Michaels go for almost nine minutes before Shawn gets the best of his former best friend. Now the one guy that needs to get a tongue lashing here, at least from me, is Rob Van Dam. He attempts a Five Star Frog Splash on Triple H while standing not on the top rope, but on top of one of the chambers. The problem is that the roof is too low for RVD to effectively do the jump. So he tries it anyway and doesn’t extend his legs far enough, so his knee goes right into Triple H’s throat. Triple H works the rest of the match, but has to go to the hospital due to his throat swelling up and closing. He misses Raw the next night and many speculated that this was a very serious, perhaps career-ending injury. I can’t possibly think that they planned that move, as they must have seen that the angles wouldn’t have allowed for an effective Frog Splash. Now some have said that Triple H was too close to the chamber and that Van Dam didn’t have enough room to jump out, and instead went straight down. Regardless, the roof was too low for RVD to have spread his legs out. I’m not going to harp on it; all I’m saying is that Van Dam did a stupid thing by trying that. Of course all the anti-Triple H fans were hoping that his career was over, which is downright disgusting. The other point to mention is the 180 degree turn that Shawn Michaels has taken. Let’s go back six years to the 1996 Survivor Series in this same building, when Shawn lost the WWF Title to Sid. The MSG crowd hated the cutesy babyface chick magnet HBK and they were very pro-Sid in that match. Move ahead to this moment, and when HBK smacks Triple H in the face with Sweet Chin Music to win the match and the title, the crowd was overwhelmingly in Michaels’ corner, with confetti and everything. Shawn Michaels, a man who five years earlier was angry, selfish and hyped up on painkillers, was now clean, had found God, has a family and is the World Heavyweight Champion. Justin can explain the moment better since he was there, but even on television it was wonderful to see. I applaud Shawn for coming back and bringing it to the table in the second part of his career. Although not a perfect match, and for a new gimmick it had its flaws, it certainly gave the MSG crowd some great moments and came close, but not exactly matching, the brutality of Brock/Taker from the month before. Grade: 4
Justin: At Wrestlemania XII, Vince McMahon uttered the famous phrase “the boyhood dream has come true” for Shawn Michaels. As compelling as that victory was, his win here was even more heartfelt and meaningful. Michaels was a drugged up, broken down mess when he was unceremoniously shoved out of wrestling in 1998. He would get his life back together, clean up and make an unexpected return for one last match at Summerslam. After some time off and his body feeling good, Shawn decided to come back on a part time basis. He would work TV, wrestling on a limited basis but would stay off the road for house shows. He made his big return in October and Eric Bischoff added him to the match here. Eric would come out before the match, go over the rules and brag about his ingenious idea. Michaels would get the biggest pop and was the clear favorite while Hunter got the most heat. The Chamber provided some great visuals and sounds as well. The crowd would get into all of the great steel bumps on the grating surrounding the ring. RVD would toss Hunter around the ring to start, working in some crisp offense and bloodying the Game early on in the going. RVD used the cage nicely and worked in some Spiderman-like leaps onto the cage. After Hunter and Jericho worked RVD over for a bit, RVD would come firing back before dropping the fateful frog splash on Hunter’s throat. Hunter would spend most of the match writhing in pain in the corner. RVD also rolls around, clutching his knee before being eliminated by Booker. RVD would limp off and there live, it looked likely he was seriously injured because he was taken out so quickly after it happened. I agree with Scott in that the move was quite reckless and could have wreaked a lot of havoc. Many people thought Hunter would be hitting the DL again, but he only misses a few weeks. After RVD was eliminated, the crowd starts to die down a bit. They would wake right back up, however, when Kane tossed Jericho face first through the Plexiglas chamber in a sick spot. Kane would look strong here, dominating the action. However, the eliminations were sort of weak and felt anticlimactic. The crowd didn’t care for Booker’s elimination either. Once Michaels entered, their full allegiance shifted and the crowd rallied him. After three finishers took out Kane, Jericho and Hunter would begin to dissect Michaels. The drama during this heat segment was great as the fans were clamoring for a Michaels win. I will give Hunter a lot of credit here, as he was barely able to breathe but still put on a gutsy performance. Michaels would sneak a pin on Jericho as this great underdog story unfolded. I also want to give some credit to JR here as he was phenomenal calling the final moments of the match, really selling the underdog tale. We would get another nasty Plexiglas shot when Hunter catapulted Michaels through a chamber. The crowd really started to rock as Michaels fired back and dropped an elbow from one of the chambers. In another great moment, he would kick out of the Pedigree. He would then drill Hunter with SCM to a mega pop, cover and pick up the win and the title. It was an awesome feel good moment and the arena just exploded for the finish. It was a great celebration to watch live and you could help but feel happy for Michaels. While the match was a bit long, things got red hot when it got down to Hunter, Michaels and Jericho. This was a great debut for the Chamber concept and it ensured that the gimmick would be back for future encounters. Grade: 4
Scott: Everything about this show really worked. The undercard was pretty solid, as every match had a pretty good backstory and the in-ring product delivered. Sure the Big Show/Brock Lesnar match could have been a bit longer, but it served its purpose to put Big Show over as a monster and that Heyman is a backstabbing worm. The tag match was what you would have expected from the Smackdown Six. Benoit and Angle are red hot, and the Guerreros are holding gold. The Women’s match may have been the surprise of the night, as Trish and Victoria sacrificed good looks for a great violent brawl. It may have been one of the most vicious women’s matches in recent memory. The main event was a big brawl in this new demonic structure. Shawn Michaels may have had his finest Madison Square Garden moment. For years he was always shit on for being the sissy boy with the girl clique. Now he’s more mature, on his game, despite the bad haircut and weird brown tights, and is on top of Raw’s world. 2002 has been one of the strangest years in recent memory when it comes to the overall product. Things that were going on in January are totally different right now. One show remains, but right now the product is entertaining, even if the future is somewhat cloudy. I feel that’s no understatement, but with the Attitude Era a distant memory what is the next step the writers and the creative staff do to make the new era? Or are we in for the mid 90s, which was a black hole of bad gimmicks, low workrate and awful shows? We’ll see. For now, let’s bask in the moment of a great show, for me one of the best shows of the year. Final Grade: A-
Justin: After an up and down year, this PPV brings some stability and a great feeling to the promotion. It was a tight show with only six matches, but every match had a back story and brought the energy. It was a nice mix of matches, and the strengths of each brand were put out there. The crowd was fairly hot all night and really brought the energy for the main event. After dominating most of the year, Brock Lesnar takes a step back as Big Show surprisingly picks up another Championship. Michaels is on top of the mountain on Raw and Hunter is off recuperating. Despite all of the title changes on this show, the major question lingering surrounds Scott Steiner and which show he would sign with. With Steiner on board and Michaels back full time, the main event picture seemed to be in good shape as 2002 comes to a close. We will see if things stay that way to finish out the year. This show was quite good, and I agree with Scott that it was one of the best of the year for sure. Final Grade: B+
MVP: Shawn Michaels
Runner Up: Smackdown Six
Non MVP: Brock Lesnar
Runner Up: Rob Van Dam