Written By: Hayden Stojkovic
January 10th, 2002
New York City, New York
Before the opening credits, we see Stephanie McMahon Helmsley strutting around in the back, all smiles now that she’s allowed back in the arena due to her relationship with Triple H. Steph runs into Debra, who just so happens to be Stone Cold’s wife, and Steph lets Debra know that Triple H is going to kick Austin’s ass in the Royal Rumble. I don’t mind this, I think it’s fine follow up from the stuff that happened with Stephanie last week, and it already begins to plan the seeds for potential issues between Austin and Triple H.
Our commentators now hype up our big-time match for the night which is apparently Chris Jericho and Test vs. Rob Van Dam and The Rock.
Now we get Stephanie in the ring for the opening promo, where she thanks the fans for their respect to Triple H on Raw. She then switches gears, stating that he’s not here yet but she feels like she can do whatever she wants. Steph talks about how her business savvy guided Triple H to success, and basically says that she’s the reason he had success because he relied on her brains. With her by his side, he will win the Rumble and go on to win the WWF Undisputed Championship. She even goes as far as to say, when she points her finger, Triple H destroys. Now she brings up Ric Flair after their conversation last week and she says if Flair listened to her, he wouldn’t be in the hospital at the hands of her father right now. Flair needs to be careful because he doesn’t want Stephanie to point her finger at him, because Triple H will destroy him. Somewhat confusingly, security then come out to escort Steph to the back, which doesn’t make a world of sense to me if she’s granted access to the arena and whatever. The promo itself was fine but I hate that less than a week after Triple H’s return, it’s all about Stephanie. I’m probably biased because I know how this all ends up (poor Jericho), but I can’t help but be slightly annoyed by this.
Backstage, we see Christian and Lance Storm (what a team) clearly overlooking the new tag champs, as they talk about how easy it will be to win the titles tonight against Spike Dudley and Tazz. Then they get some epic cheap heat where Christian says, “they’ll be easier to beat in Madison Square Garden than the Knicks”. Epic. Storm then says Americans suck at hockey and walks off, whilst Christian proclaims they suck at basketball as well. I enjoyed this.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Spike Dudley and Tazz (c) vs. Christian and Lance Storm
The match was fun enough without being really good. In the early stages, Spike is looking good, taking out Storm with a Top Rope Crossbody on the floor, and it’s feeling kind of meh. Spike isn’t really any good unless he’s being destroyed by bigger, stronger guys, in my opinion. Christian rams Spike gut first into the ring steps, and things do get better when Spike is being isolated. The hot tag is pretty great though as Tazz is an awesome ass kicker. He goes to town with Clotheslines and Suplexes on both Christian and Storm. All hell breaks loose as per normal in these matches and Christian gets Spike in position for a Reverse DDT, only for Tazz to come from behind and lock Christian in the Tazzmission to get the submission victory. Harmless fun but nothing to write home about. **1/4
After the match, the former champs The Dudley Boyz try and attack Spike Dudley and Tazz, but little brother Spike and Tazz are able to clean house.
Next up, we get an announcement that the porn star himself, Val Venis will be in this year’s Royal Rumble. I know from a booking perspective his best years are already behind him from an in-ring perspective (Chief Morley was fine), but I’m still happy to see Val. I’ve always thought he’s a solid hand.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Edge (c) vs. Big Bossman
This is just a basic back and forth contest here, and for the most part, I thought it was solid stuff. Edge was okay here, and I’ve always thought the Bossman was incredibly underrated. Okay, he’s not going to put on many/any 5-star classics, but his offense and mannerisms surrounding his character are brutal and always quite believable. In what is far from a new idea, Bossman looks for his knight stick to help finish things off, but Edge avoids it and ends up giving Bossman an Edgecution on the fallen knight stick to get the three count. Solid. **3/4
Edge’s celebration gets interrupted by William Regal appearing on the titantron and I thought he cut a pretty solid promo here. The Englishman talks about how he had to get three surgeries on his nose. Edge spilled his pure English blood and Edge should know that the English are the most barbaric, evil, wicked, spiteful bastards ever. He goes as far as to say that Edge has gambled with the devil, and he’s come to collect. I honestly thought all of that was good, but Edge kind of just turning it into a joke lost impact for me. He almost comically asks what the hell Regal is talking about, and then finally Regal challenges Edge to an Intercontinental Title match at the Royal Rumble and Edge accepts.
It’s announced that Goldust will be returning at the Royal Rumble as well. Another awesome pick for mine, especially considering the awesome year Goldust is set to have.
Backstage interview time with Kurt Angle. Kurt talks about the confrontation with Triple H on Raw, as well as the Royal Rumble. The fans keep chanting “WHAT” at the top of their lungs and Kurt cracks it and threatens to leave if they don’t stop. A frustrated Angle blames the “WHAT” chants on Stone Cold and says that he’ll kick his ass in a match tonight. Whoa, unannounced Angle/Austin match. Awesome.
Chris Jericho and Test vs. Rob Van Dam and The Rock
Well, hey, this match actually gets some good time, around 10 minutes or so and it delivers. It’s just a really fun match. At this point, The Rock is awesome at virtually everything he does and he’s brawling with Test, whilst Jericho tries to avoid him at all costs is quite good. Jericho gets a few licks in on The Rock after a cheap shot but is quick to get back out when The Rock recovers. After landing a Samoan Drop to Test, Rock makes the call to Van Dam. RVD comes in and does some pretty cool stuff as well, cleaning house with a Spinning Heel Kick and a Step Over Heel Kick on Test. Jericho gets a Rolling Thunder, and also a Somersault Dive over the top rope and to the outside. On the outside, Jericho manages to take over from Van Dam, which leads to the isolation period of the match. RVD is a good seller when it comes to general offence, with his only real weaknesses being when he has to sell a sore limb for the entire match. Test and Jericho’s offense doesn’t focus on a limb which suits RVD well. Eventually, Rock and Jericho get tagged in and have a great finishing sequence. Rock dominated and nailed the Rock Bottom, but Test breaks up the count. All hell breaks loose from there and it allows Jericho to nail The Rock with a Title Belt. After taking a kick from Van Dam, Jericho is still able to make the pin but Rocky kicks out. Finally, Jericho fails at a Lionsault with The Rock getting his knees up, and he follows up with a Spinebuster and a Sharpshooter for the win. A really good match here. I’m a little old school in terms of your champion looking strong, so maybe Jericho submitting to Rock’s Sharpshooter (which doesn’t finish off a lot of people) is a bit off for me but doesn’t sour the overall good performance. ***1/4
We now get a sit-down interview with Vince McMahon conducted by Jim Ross. JR firstly seems interested in how Vince feels about Stephanie McMahon Helmsley being back, but he refuses to talk about it. He runs down Flair a little, before saying that he enjoys destroying people’s lives, it turns him on. That is an epic evil, villain line right there. Vince then talks about how he wants Flair’s family at the Rumble so they can see what he does to him at the Rumble. He wants them to see him destroy Ric’s life so then he can see them crying. A deranged Vinnie Mac ends things by saying after the Rumble, Flair will be begging him to buy his stock back. Another home run in this Vince/Flair build.
Another Rumble announcement and this time it’s Mr. Perfect returning. All three-return announcement have been good ones so far.
Next up, we’re supposed to get a match between Booker T and Rikishi, but it doesn’t really happen. They brawl for a little while before The Kish is able to nail Booker with the Stinkface! Afterwards, a disgusted Booker T dry heaves around ringside before vomiting on Michael Cole. Being embarrassed by it all, Booker just leaves and Rikishi dances in the ring. Look, this got a nice pop from the fans and all, but I didn’t enjoy this. Feels like a guy like Booker T, at this point in his career, should be doing much better things than this.
After the commercial break, Booker T is attempting to wash up in the bathroom when Diamond Dallas Page appears. DDP sounds as if he’s giving Booker a motivation speech, but ends it with it’s not a bad thing, it’s a good thing because the Stinkface didn’t happen to DDP. I guess this will lead to a future match between the two. DDP is another talent that WWE wasted. I like WWE, so I won’t sit here and trash them, but definitely a missed opportunity with Page.
Now The Godfather is announced to be returning at the Royal Rumble. The less of all the announced returns for me, but the nostalgia has me excited anyway.
The Rock gets interviewed by The Coach and there’s some referenced genital humour in here that I’ll let you go watch for yourself. The promo itself was pretty awesome though, with Rocky talking about how the clock is ticking on Jericho’s title reign. He then says at the Rumble he will beat Jericho like he did tonight by shoving his boot up his ass.
Kurt Angle vs. Steve Austin
Second match in a row that gets a lot of time and a second match that delivers. Probably not a surprise considering the history between these two though. The match has somewhat of a weird feel to it in the early stages, but I enjoyed it. Austin uses the ring post and ring steps to hurt Angle’s shoulder and he then keeps him grounded by focusing on it. He seems to be using a ground heavy attack, which almost makes this feel a little like the roles are reversed. This does lead to Angle getting frustrated and trying to brawl to get back into the contest. It takes awhile but it’s eventually a low blow that gets Angle in control. The dynamic of the Gold Medallist being frustrated at being out wrestled so then he goes into brawl mode is awesome. They trade German Suplexes and then Angle goes up and actually hits the Moonsault. That always feels kind of rare at least at this point in time. After that, it’s the Ankle Lock but Austin rolls through and almost gets a three count. They bounce back up and Austin counters the Angle Slam into a Stunner! Before a count can be made, Kane makes a random appearance and Chokeslams both men, basically ending the match. Kane getting involved and the aftermath all make sense for Rumble hype so I can live with it. Despite the weak ending, this match still delivered. ***1/4
With Angle and Austin both down, Kane stands tall until The Big Show makes an appearance. They do their standard double goozle dual, which leads to Show overpowering Kane and nailing him with a Chokeslam. Now Show stands tall until Triple H appears, and he gets another HUGE ovation. Triple H can’t get Show down at first, but then lands a kick to the balls, which allows him to land the Pedigree. It’s kind of humorous that this happened to Show considering how ‘excited’ he was for Triple H to return just a few days ago. Anyway, to make things more interesting, The Undertaker appears at the top of the ramp but decides to fight another day, allowing Triple H to stand tall. Really good hype for the Rumble match with all the big names getting involved here.
This was a really good show for mine. Some good wrestling in the second half of the show, which is good to see, and even the earlier matches were at least solid. All of the appropriate programs seem to be getting hyped up ahead of the upcoming PPV as well, with the only down point here for me being the use of Booker T.
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