Written By: Hayden Stojkovic
January 17th, 2002
Bossier City, Louisiana
The show opens up showing the arrival of the Rock into the arena. We’re already off to a better start than Raw, at least the number one contender will be on the show tonight. Anyway, The Rock walks in and comes across Stone Cold. I shouldn’t fan boy to much here, because this segment is pretty basic, but everybody who talks about the chemistry between these two is right. It’s usually amazing. They share some banter with Austin asking the Rock where he has been, and The Rock says he was at a joint called “just bring it”. The Rock then invites Austin to the joint, but Austin comes back an awesome response, saying he’s already been there. Austin then talks about how he’s got some good news and some bad news. The good news he’s winning the Rumble and going to WrestleMania, the bad news for The Rock is that means they’ll meet at WrestleMania, and Austin is up 2-0. Things get tense as The Rock states he remembers the record, especially the last time they were in the ring at Survivor Series when The Rock pinned Austin. They then both somewhat sarcastically wish each other good luck for tonight. When these two get together, things are fun and that’s exactly what this was.
We get some commentary hype for the big match of the night which will pit Booker T and Kurt Angle up against Stone Cold and Triple H. Interesting to have Austin and Hunter teaming after they brawled on Raw. Can’t help but feel like Booker will be the weak link here with how he’s been booked recently but we’ll see.
Oh, I was also reading something somewhere online where they highlighted this gem from Michael Cole. “If Austin and Triple H can get on the same page as a team tonight, can you imagine the kind of power in that duo”? Well, yes, I can. Two Man Power trip less than a year ago.
Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal
This is a bit of a weird one for me. It gets better as the match goes on and the two seem to settle in, but the early stages, especially throughout Regal’s offence, everything looked a little off. Maybe a little sloppy. I wouldn’t say anything to glaringly obvious, but it’s like the timing is just off a bit. Still, once Van Dam fights back and lands an Enziguri, Heel Kick, Senton and Crossbody from the top, Regal’s bumping is fantastic. It definitely gives the match a more quality feel, and eventually Regal is able to ram Van Dam’s face into the corner. After being checked by the referee earlier, it turns out Regal had the brass knucks at the announcers table, and he manages to find them. Once he gets back into the ring, Van Dam gets on top, before going for Shoulder Thrusts in the corner, but on the third attempt, Regal lands a shot with the knucks and that’s enough for the three count. **3/4
We now see Kurt Angle walking around backstage, finding the locker room of The Rock. Seemingly offended at the barge in, Rock asks Angle if he knocked, and Kurt dopily says I get it, who’s there. Probably the least funny attempted humour by Angle this year. Angle’s basically just there to tell The Rock that it will be Angle vs. Rock at ‘Mania because it’s Kurt’s first Rumble and he always wins his first time. The Rock helps Kurt talk up the match, listing Kurt’s big moves, saying Kurt will whoop his ass at ‘Mania, before telling him to wake up. Rock tells Kurt it’s a dream and not to get ahead of himself. This and the Austin segment from earlier are leading to an awesome piece of business between Rock/Jericho later on in the night.
Billy w/Chuck vs. Tajiri w/Torrie Wilson
It’s crazy how often matches are seemingly carried/enjoyable because of the guy who is clearly just there to job. That’s what happens here from me. Gunn just isn’t good at wrestling singles matches, whilst Tajiri is great and makes things bearable. Tajiri basically goes to town here, landing plenty of offense until Billy sends him to the outside. Once back in, Tajiri goes wild again with an Acid Drop, a Handspring Back Elbow, and the Tarantula. Having Billy where he wants him, Tajiri sets up for the Buzzsaw Kick, only for Chuck to run to try and intervene. Tajiri spits mist into the face of Chuck, but then falls to the Fameasser for the three count. **
After the match, Billy and Chuck continue to assault Tajiri because they are assholes. It ends with Billy holding Tajiri up so Chuck can nail him with the Superkick. A good way for them to get heat, I guess.
Much like earlier in the night with angle, now it’s Triple H entering The Rock’s locker room, and they have a pretty intense stare down, playing off their extensive history. They both agree that they have unfinished business before Triple H says that he’s going to win the Rumble. The Rock tells Triple H that once he wins the title, they’ll settle their business at WrestleMania. Triple H finishes things off by saying whoever walks into ‘Mania with the title is losing it to him. More good stuff here.
Lilian Garcia is trying to interview Trish Stratus about Jazz in the back, but before Trish can answer, Jazz attacks the Women’s Champion. Jazz beats on her before smashing an equipment box over her hand, so now Trish can play with the broken hand angle. Solid heat building from Jazz, at least they aren’t strutting around in bikinis.
If DDP Wins, He Gets A Contract
Big Bossman vs. Diamond Dallas Page
I’m not sold on the booking of this one. There’s been no real mention of this DDP angle on TV, even though he appeared briefly on Smackdown last week, but now he’s fighting for a contract. He gets a spot in the Rumble to if he wins, so not sure why that just wasn’t the angle. Anyway, I’ll finish my nagging now because the longer I get to see DDP on my TV, the more I’m happy. A solid match here, with Bossman doing well at playing his evil, brutal self, whilst Page works really hard with his bumping and selling, showing that he genuinely wants to be there. Unfortunately, with the way he has been booked, it’s probably to late at this point. Anyway, Bossman starts off strong, before putting in the dreaded Sleeper hold. Page fights back from there and hits a Neckbreaker and a Clothesline. Bossman fights back with the ever-underhanded low blow, before tossing Page into the corner. Bossman eventually loos for a Scoop Slam, but Page slips out and lands the Diamond Cutter to secure himself a job. Solid from two pros at what they do. **1/2
We get The Rock backstage again but this time he’s ready to leave his locker room when The Undertaker decides to walk in. The American Badass says smart money is on The Rock, so he tells him that he’s winning the Rumble and it will be Rock/’Taker at WrestleMania. The Rock says that’s fine with him, before asking ‘Taker if he’s done and announcing that he’s going to the ring. I’m excited.
The Rock makes his way to the ring for what’s about to be an incredible bit of business. The Rock talks about how this year’s Rumble’s different because apparently everybody is going to win it. Even Goldust sent him a postcard saying he was going to win. He then goes into standard Rock joke made, stating the camera man said he’s going to win the Rumble. Rocky takes the camera and records the camera man, telling him to wave to his Uncle Joe and his boyfriend Mike. The Rock says that he’ll face whoever wins because the only thing Undisputed is him leaving the Rumble as champion. Everything has been solid enough from here, but this goes up numerous levels when Chris Jericho storms through the curtain. Jericho goes on a huge rant, berating The Rock for disrespecting him because he’s spoken to all these other guys, and hasn’t even mentioned Jericho’s name. He says anybody and everybody who thinks he is a transitional or fluke champion can go to hell because the truth hurts, and the truth is The Rock had a chance to become Undisputed Champion last month, but he failed. Jericho continues to yell and scream, stating he will still be the champion at WrestleMania. The Rock says everybody is talking to him about after the Rumble, because the guys in the back, the people, the millions, they all know that The Rock is better than you. Rocky looks to finish off with his If Ya’ Smell catchphrase, but Jericho interrupts with epic passion. “NO!!! NO! NO! NO! NO! NO! THIS IS NOT A JOKE! I AM NOT A JOKE! I AM SERIOUS AND YOU WILL NOT LOOK PAST ME, YOU STUPID SON OF A BITCH”!!! Jericho’s mannerisms here here, and the look in his eyes, the tone of voice, they’re all just sensational. I’d put it up there with some of the best promo work he’s ever done. Anyway, The Rock takes off his shades, which always shows off his INTENSITY~!, and he then tells Jericho that he’s taking him dead serious and he’s going to whoop his ass at the Rumble. If you smell what The Rock is cooking. Right up there with some of the best promo work before a PPV in, well, ever. Go watch this, you won’t regret it.
Two On One Handicap Over The Top Rope Match
Christian and Lance Storm vs. Rikishi
Not a lot to say about this one really, just a generic match with the over-the-top rope stipulation in effect to hype the Rumble. I guess they were all involved in the main event on Raw as well, so we can pretend there’s some real heat there. Obviously, Storm and Christian go straight into double team mode but are quickly taken down with a double Clothesline. Christian tries a Sunset Flip, but Rikishi doesn’t go down. Luckily, before Rikishi can squash Christian, Storm nails him with a Spinning Heel Kick. Eventually, Rikishi is able to Storm down for a Stinkface, and he then eliminates him with a Superkick. Storm tries to grab Rikishi’s foot and help out on the outside, but it’s not enough, and Rikishi manages to eliminate Christian as well. I guess this kind of happened, not terrible. **
We see clips from earlier tonight in the parking lot where The Dudley Boyz attacked the WWF Tag Team Champions Spike Dudley and Tazz. They lock Tazz in the boot of a car, before giving Spike a brutal 3D on the concrete. Nothing crazy but is solid enough go home show PPV hype.
Backstage, we see a fuming Debra standing by with Stone Cold. Debra lets it be known that she isn’t happy with Stephanie McMahon Helmsley and wants to go down to the ring. Getting along better than Triple H and Stephanie, Austin shuts it down, saying he can’t have her running around when he needs to team with Triple H tonight. Debra rather amicably agrees.
Booker T and Kurt Angle are backstage, having a friendly chat before they team up in the main event tonight. Booker talks about how badly he wants to take Austin and Triple H out before the Rumble. Kurt, quite frankly trying to be black, hilariously blurts out “sweet and sour like an ice-cold shower. Word”. Booker has some hilarious facial expressions to, so this bit was fantastic. They then begin to bicker because both men stating they’re going to win the Rumble, with Booker saying he doesn’t need medals to throw Kurt’s ass out. They decide to stop fighting when Angle says they can worry about it later, tonight they need to team up. Booker agrees and they’re back on the same page. This was fun, hypes the main event, but still shows both men’s desire to win the Rumble. Good stuff.
Edge vs. Test
Honestly, this is still passable but eh, I don’t know. The more I watch Edge the more I sour on him and realise he was never really that great on offense. That trend continued here as without any obvious botches; his offence just looked terrible in general. I’m not even really sure how to portray it in words so I’d just say to go watch it. Anyway, both men just trade a bunch of moves really, with no real heat period, and both are able to gain near falls. I guess it’s solid enough but it’s all just building to get them on the outside so William Regal can come down with the brass knucks. Edge attacks Regal, allowing Test to grab a chair but Edge turns in time to Spear Test. Edge grabs the chair and clocks Regal with it, and then Edge nails Test with the chair as well, so the referee has no option but to call the DQ. **
After the match, the referee scalds Edge so Edge beats his ass with a chair shot as well. That’s what you get for being a heel sometimes, Nick Patrick! Again, solid enough Edge/Regal hype, and whilst the match didn’t impress me, Edge showing some more intensity could be fun. It could be what he needs, and the idea of Edge being fed up to the point of snapping because of all the brass knucks shots is logical and effective.
Next up is a Royal Rumble video package set to Cocky by Kid Rock. WWE do these well.
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon Helmsley is all happy, talking about how Debra is useless, but she’ll be at ringside tonight. Triple H tells her to stay back as well. It’s his first match in 8 months, he doesn’t even want to be teaming with Austin, he needs less distractions. Steph looks like she’s been slapped in the face, continuing the slow burn here.
Booker T and Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold and Triple H
Of course, there has to be tension between Austin and Triple H, so they argue over who will start the match, until Angle stupidly charges at them. They double team him until eventually Austin remains in the ring with Angle. There are some quick tags early on, giving everybody some time to shine, before Booker T and Angle isolate Austin. This is pretty enjoyable, as the structure of this match suits the scenario perfectly. Angle and Booker work on Austin, which is solid, whilst they build towards the hot tag to Triple H. Austin is probably the better ‘finishing run’ guy in general, but Hunter has all the hype behind him with his return, so it makes sense for him to be that guy here. Triple H goes to town on both men off the tag, nailing Booker with a Clothesline and Angle with a Running Knee Strike. Angle misses a Spear and charges into the ring post and then Triple H does his weird Spear into a choke thing he started in 2002. Not sure how that’s a babyface move but whatever. One thing I want to mention is that Angle also bumps so much better than Booker here, the class difference is clear as day. Anyway, Triple H looks to get Booker in the Pedigree, but Kurt comes from behind with a German Suplex. Austin comes back in, having recovered from earlier and he throws Kurt out of the ring. Booker looks for a kick, but Austin avoids it and nails the Stunner, which sends Booker straight into the Pedigree. Again, first match back, return, all that stuff, makes sense for Triple H to get the victory here. Solid stuff. **3/4
After the match, Austin and Triple have a nice little stare down, hyping that they probably will come to blows at some stage during the Rumble match. Before they can come to blows tonight, they are interrupted by The Undertaker, who remains on the ramp and the three biggest names in the Rumble stare each other down to end the show.
About all you can want in a go home show here. Solid wrestling virtually all night, a lot of Royal Rumble match hype, and the Jericho/Rock angle was gold. Good stuff.