Written by: Hayden Stojkovic
WWF Monday Night Raw
January 7th, 2002
New York City, New York
The commentators open the show by hyping a big-time tag team match tonight stemming from the actions of last week’s Smackdown. It will be Big Bossman and Booker T teaming up to take on the dream team of Stone Cold and The Rock. Also, tonight, we will finally see the return of Triple H, which means I get to enjoy watching the awesome ovation he gets once again.
The show opens up with Vince McMahon making his way to the ring, carrying a mysterious blue box, which looks like it’s wrapped up like a gift. Vince cleverly gets even more heat early on by saying he has something more important than Triple H’s return tonight to talk about. He wants to talk about his match with Ric Flair at the Royal Rumble, and he wants to talk about how some people say Flair isn’t in his league (what lol), but they are wrong. From there, Vinnie Mac plays a pretty awesome Flair tribute on the titantron, showing plenty of highlights from the 80’s and 90’s. Thanks for the library, WCW. Vince nags a little about the 5 stitches he required after Flair attacked him on Smackdown, before he finally reveals what’s in the blue box. Vince has a blond wig and a Flair robe and puts it on. He continues to mock Flair by strutting around the ring and pretty entertaining fashion. As expected, the imitation is interrupted by Ric Flair himself who is furious. Flair slaps the wig off of Vince’s head and demands him to take off the robe right now. Vince looks scared, doing as his told, only to pull out a lead pipe he was concealing, and he nails Flair in the head with it. Flair is busted open, and Vince beats on him some more, including ramming him into the steps and ring post. I kind of enjoyed Vince deciding to stop on the robe a little as well. More enjoyable hype for this angle.
Rob Van Dam vs. Test
A surprisingly quick match, or at least quicker than expected with the match going under four minutes. Probably not the best for a guy like Test, but in this short time, they still managed to squeeze in a solid showcase for Van Dam, and that’s all this really was. After getting frustrated with the way the match is going, Test brings a chair into the ring, only for Van Dam to nail the Van Daminator. He then heads up top and lands the Five Star Frog Splash for the victory. Okay match probably could have been something decent if given more time. **1/2
In the backstage area, The Coach is eagerly anticipating a chance to interview the returning Triple H when he arrives but is instead greeted by Kurt Angle. The Coach doesn’t seem all that interested in interviewing Angle, but Kurt insists he gets interviewed because he actually made it to the arena on time. Angle teases some big news and a big announcement he has to make tonight, bigger than anything Triple H could say. When The Coach asks what the announcement is, Kurt refuses to answer Coach’s pity questions. Damn I love Kurt.
We now head to one of those awkward WWF New York segments where Trish Stratus is approached by Terri Runnels. Terri decides to challenge Stratus to a wet t-shirt contest, going as far as to say that Trish doesn’t measure up. Stratus accepts the challenge. It’s not exactly the women’s revolution or women’s empowerment but if there were ever two women, I’d want to see in a wet t-shirt contest in this time period, these would be the two.
Albert and Scotty 2 Hotty vs. Billy and Chuck
I was always taught that if I had nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all, so I’ll keep this brief. I like Albert and I dug the Billy and Chuck gimmick, but this match wasn’t particularly good. I’d go as far as to say it was bad. Scotty actually looked like he might be ready to win when he was set to hit The Worm on Billy, but Chuck managed to pull him out of the way. Chuck is then able to keep Albert occupied, as Billy gets the win with the Fameasser on Scotty. Not good. *1/2
Backstage, it’s time for Michael Cole to do his best to interview Stone Cold Steve Austin. As with everything Austin does in this time period, there a plenty of “WHAT” chants. Austin previews what he’s about to talk about by saying he has three things to discuss tonight. First, Triple H is back but he doesn’t want to wish him luck because he’s coming back from an injury. Second, he announces that he will be in the Royal Rumble, and he’ll throw 29 other guys over the top rope. Finally, he and The Rock will whip Booker and Bossman’s ass tonight, but of course, he plays with the “WHAT” chants in fun fashion yet again…
“Two sumbitches… WHAT? Two sumbitches… WHAT? Two sumbitches… WHAT? Two sumbitches gonna’ get their ass whipped tonight”.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Edge (c) vs. Lance Storm
This one is a weird one as it’s probably getting quite a high rating despite the fact that it went for less than two minutes. I’d argue you wouldn’t find many better short matches than this. Really fun stuff with a lot of great reversals up until the finish where after reaching the ropes to break a Maple Leaf, Edge was able to land the Edgecution to get the win. Really fun but to short, definitely made me want to see these guys get some more time in the future. It’s a shame that they probably won’t. **1/4
As Edge backed his way up the ramp, celebrating with his Intercontinental Title, he gets attacked from behind and knocked unconscious by William Regal and some brass knucks. THE POWER OF THE PUNCH~! I’m so down for an Edge/Regal program here.
In the backstage area, Kurt Angle is having a conversation with Christian and he’s still pretty unhappy with all the hype surrounding Triple H’s big return tonight. Angle doesn’t understand what the big deal about Triple H is. He even goes as far to ask where Triple H was when Kurt saved the WWF from the Alliance. Christian says that he thinks Triple H was listening to the U2 CD, which is awesome because “Beautiful Day” by U2 has been backing the Triple H return hype videos. Angle then hilariously scoffs at that, stating that it was a beautiful day when he won his gold medals, or when he won the WWF Title. Angle then gets a little more personal, saying Triple H was out for eight months after a torn quad, because he’s a wuss. Kurt says that he tore his quad this morning but he’s still here. Kurt was phenomenal here, plays a douche so well.
Big Bossman and Booker T vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock
My original thoughts were a bit of surprise that this wasn’t the main event, however I think the match placement makes a lot of sense here. It allows the fans to go nuts over two of the all-time greats, and then gives the fans time to get their second wind, before going nuts for the Triple H return at the end of the show. Smart show structuring. As for the match itself, which is what I’m supposed to be talking about, I thought it was solid. As I expected, Rock and Austin come out like a house on fire, until Bossman low bridges The Rock over the top rope and hits him with the nightstick on the outside. This allows Booker and Bossman to isolate The Rock, and I honestly thought the performances of Rock and Bossman in particular were quite good here. After receiving a beating and spending nearly the entire match in the ring, The Rock avoids a Scissors Kick and drills Booker with a DDT. The hot tag happens, and Austin runs roughshod, before The Rock is back in to take care of Booker T. Bossman looks to use the nightstick again, this time on Austin, but Stone Cold avoids it and nails the Stunner for the victory. Austin literally barely did anything and then came in and finished things off. Interesting match structure, but the big names carried it. **3/4
Chris Jericho vs. Rikishi
Two matches in a row? Is this sports entertainment or professional wrestling? I thought Jericho bumped around nicely for Rikishi in the early stages, before he goaded him to the outside and sent him into the ring post. Jericho’s domination doesn’t last long as Rikishi fights back with a Samoan drop, and eventually looks set to try the Bonzai Drop. Once he’s up top, Nick Patrick gets in the way because he’s still rolling with the crooked referee gimmick at this point. Jericho manages to roll away thanks to Patrick, but Rikishi gives him karma, because Jericho avoids the Stinkface, but Patrick doesn’t. After the Stinkface which of course gets a huge pop, Rikishi comes out of the corner only to be hit in the head with one of the title belts by Jericho. That’s enough to finish things off with the dodgy referee counting to three, even though The Kish clearly gets a shoulder up. Another solid match, although less so than the previous one. **1/2
In the backstage area, The Big Show is talking to Tajiri and Torrie Wilson and the topic: more Triple H return hype. The Big Show is all excited about Triple H returning, talking about how he raises the bar for everybody. This kind of annoys me If I’m honest. Triple H/Big Show have had issues in the past for a giant to just be all happy like this really annoys me. Plus, there’s some guys on the roster who’re better so not sure Triple H is really raising the bar, but that’s me being nit-picky. They get interrupted by Kurt Angle (thankfully) and Kurt calls them a bunch of fan boys. He says that Triple H is a horrible person and then asks or was it somebody else who was bashing people in the head with a sledgehammer? Show just looks like an idiot here whilst Kurt makes the most sense. Not a fan of the way this panned out at all.
In another area in the back, The Dudleyz bully Spike Dudley, mocking him and whatever, until Spike’s partner Tazz appears. Tazz wonders why The Dudleyz still have a chip in their shoulder, and D’Von pretty coolly challenges them to knock it off. They trade words with Tazz telling them that they have forgotten where they all came from (ECDUB, ECDUB, ECDUB), but Bubba says they didn’t forget and reuses the old “BEAT US IF YOU CAN”, and Tazz finishes off with the “SURVIVE IF WE LET YOU”. For those who frequent the BTB section, you’d know I’m a big time ECW guy, which means I enjoyed the hell out of this. A nice tension builder.
WWF Tag Team Championship;
The Dudley Boyz (c) w/Stacy Keibler vs. Spike Dudley and Tazz
Another relatively short match but another one that I thought was pretty solid. Considering the result of this one, I like this taking the “in ring main event” spot of the evening. Plenty of violence which really made this feel like a Hardcore match. Bubba whipping Spike with a tag team title, Tazz copping a nice cookie sheet shot, the obligatory fire extinguisher spot, stop signs, trash can lid, plenty of harmless fun. Spike gets tossed away after attempting a Dudley Dog on Bubba, but then before he can attack Tazz, Bubba is distracted by Stacy Keibler on the apron. She’s showing her ass again, trying to distract Tazz. Instead, Bubba is Suplexed onto a table by Tazz but it’s sort of just his head hitting the edge of the table. That shit would have hurt and I’ve no idea if the spot was meant to go down like that. Anyway, that was brutal and then a Dudley Dog through the table follows for Spike and Tazz to become tag champs. Solid stuff, another that could have done with some more time. I appreciate the fact that they’ve built this issue between The Dudleyz and Spike for a bit now, and this felt like the appropriate pay off. **3/4
We get some more Triple H return hype here, with a quick promo from The Undertaker. He talks about how nobody actually respects Triple H, and they all want to see him get injured again. Savage. If a lot of the backstage stuff about Hunter during his in-ring career is true, I wonder how many people actually thought exactly the same as ‘Taker’s promo here? Anyway, he finishes off by giving Triple H a reminder that he runs the yard and announces that he’ll be in the Royal Rumble. Good stuff from ‘Taker here, although I enjoyed most of his mic work with The American Badass gimmick.
I completely forgot about the wet t-shirt stuff if I’m honest. Anyway, they both come out in white t-shirts because it should actually be illegal to wear anything else to a wet t-shirt contest. I know this is the sort of stuff a lot of people are happy women in wrestling have moved away from, as am I, but I still think this segment served its purpose. They hit their key demographic with Terri’s fake, wet tits, and then Jazz gets MAJOR heat by attacking Trish before she can, erm, get wet. Hypes their feud well, whilst still delivering on at least some portion of the wet t-shirt stuff. Degrading for sure, but I’ll take the Trish/Jazz hype.
And now it’s time for what they’ve been building towards for the last two shows, the return of Triple H. I remember as a youngster being taken aback by the ovation Triple H gets during his entrance. It honestly gives me shivers and I’d recommend anybody to go see it. However, being that he is Triple H, he milks it with posing and whatever for about 4-5 minutes, and by the end of it, the crowd are no longer as excited. Kind of feels like he killed the crowd doing to much, which is a little disappointing and not something I remembered. Short and sharp with some cool delivery as Triple H states “I am The Game. You can bet your ass I’m back”! He then goes on to announce that he will be in the Royal Rumble. For me, the segment took a massive turn in the right direction when Triple H was interrupted by Kurt Angle. Kurt wonders who the hell Triple H thinks he is, and pissed on his injury, stating that he won a gold medal with a broken freaking neck. Kurt tries to overshadow Triple H, stating that he will be in the Royal Rumble for the first time ever. The final dig is what gets it for me, awesome work from Kurt when he says he would have entered the Rumble last year, but he was to busy pinning Triple H to retain the WWF Title. Awesome. A furious Triple H then attacks Kurt and they brawl a little until Hunter drops Angle with the Pedigree. Triple H celebrates, looking on top of the world to end the show, as he should in his return. Good ending to the show.
A solid show. I continue to enjoy the Vince/Flair stuff, and I thought the Triple H return, was hyped well throughout the night, and then certainly delivered (mainly thanks to Kurt as Hunter did his best to kill the crowd). The tag title change was certainly a highlight for me, and there wasn’t anything here that I found to offensive.
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