Written By: Hayden Stojkovic
WWF Monday Night Raw
January 21st, 2002
Greensville, South Carolina
After the obligatory post Royal Rumble video package, focusing on the history of the Rumble as well as last night’s winner, Triple H, our commentary team welcome us to the show. They hype up the big tag team which has been announced for tonight’s show pitting Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle up against The Rock and Triple H. Four big names, hopefully it’ll be good.
Booker T and The Dudley Boyz w/Stacy Keibler vs. Rob Van Dam, Spike Dudley and Tazz
Six perfectly capable competitors results in a solid six-man tag to kick off the show. The only thing missing from this turning this into a better match was Spike Dudley, who is still sporting a neck brace, jumping around like a million bucks as The Dudleyz destroy him. Instead, Spike gets knocked to the outside and drilled with a Neckbreaker and then barely participates until the ending. I guess they’re selling the injury. Van Dam was great in the early stages, flying around with his fun offense, until Bubba illegally chokes Tazz, and Booker drops him with one of his patented kicks. To his credit, Tazz still did okay as the guy who received the beat down, but he’s just not on the level of Spike in that role. Whilst they moved away from a working formula, they have met quite a bit recently and I appreciate the idea of trying to freshen things up a little. A small moment here which I really enjoyed which is really just a character/attitude thing is after Booker nails the Scissors Kick on Tazz, he wants to perform the Spinaroonie. The Dudleyz stop him though, demanding he make the tag so they can keep beating down Tazz instead. Something that doesn’t necessarily have any real consequence, but it was a terrific moment. After an epic Head and Arm Suplex on D’Von, Tazz makes the hot tag to Van Dam, who comes in and goes to town. The finishing sequence kicks in after a fun passage where RVD looks set for a Rolling Thunder, but Booker distracts the ref, and The Dudleyz give him a 3D. All hell breaks loose after Spike breaks up the count, leading to Tazz receiving a 3D, but RVD lands the Five Star Frog Splash as D’Von is still down after the move. Nice timing of it all, and all these guys yet again did a pretty solid job. **3/4
A smug Chris Jericho comes to the ring next, ready to cut a promo on how he proved everybody wrong and retained the WWF Undisputed Championship last night. Jericho talks about how nobody gave him a chance, and people were even inviting their friends over saying, “let’s watch The Rock kick Chris Jericho’s ass”, but that’s not what happened. After rubbing in his superiority, the champion demands a standing ovation from the fans, which obviously gets him plenty of heat. He then brags that there is nobody that he hasn’t beaten which draws out the winner of last night’s Royal Rumble, Triple H. ‘The Game’ mocks Jericho because the fans didn’t cheer him but says it’s due to all of the crap that Jericho has dissed out. He then tells the champ that saying he’s beaten everybody is a blatant lie because he has never beaten Triple H. This rubs Jericho the wrong way, but Hunter continues, saying that he’ll be going to WrestleMania no matter what, but will Jericho even make it to ‘Mania as the Undisputed Champion? He says that Jericho has two months to prove to the world that he’s not a fluke champion, but only two months, because if he makes it that far, it will be time to play the game. Before champion and number one contender can come to blows, Kurt Angle’s music hits and he makes his way out to the ramp. Kurt isn’t happy with how the Rumble ended last night, saying Triple H attacked him from behind and that’s unfair. It’s not Triple H style to fight people fairly but unlike Triple H, Kurt attacks people to their face, like right now. With that, Angle runs to the ring and initially Triple H gets the better of Jericho and Angle, until he spends two long trying to hit Kurt with a Pedigree. This allows Jericho to attack him from behind. After a shot with the title and an Angle Slam, Jericho locks the Walls of Jericho onto Triple H, until The Rock comes down to make the save. Jericho gets out of harms away and The Rock clears the ring of Angle. I like getting the hype for Jericho/Triple H kick started here, and it was all well and good until Triple H started bringing up this whole ‘fluke’ champion thing again. Based off of last night’s booking, I’m a little against that topic when it relates to Jericho at the moment. Still, solid hype for the current ‘Mania main event, and they intertwined that with some hype for tonight’s tag match as well, with then inclusion of Rock and Angle. Good stuff.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
William Regal (c)vs. Edge
This one comes about after Regal stole the title from Edge with the brass knucks last night at the Royal Rumble. Apparently, Edge immediately demanded his contracted rematch tonight. Edge is continuing to play the angry, aggressive guy here, and I think he did a good job with this again here. As Regal makes his entrance, Edge comes from the ring and immediately goes on the attack, and then beats the hell out of Regal. The outside of the ring action culminates with a Suplex from with the crowd to over the barricade and back to ringside. Inside of the ring, Edge lands a few big moves and gets some near falls, and Regal heads back outside of the ring. Edge follows him, but Regal manages to ram Edge face first into the ring post. After Regal’s great selling job, now he gets the chance to unleash his offense, and as usual everything looks really stiff and snug, as Regal, in my opinion, carries Edge to a good match. Eventually, Edge makes a comeback and then heads to the top rope, but whilst the referee pays attention to Edge, Regal pulls the brass knucks out of his tights. Edge comes off with a Dropkick from the top rope, and this is the second time he used this move in the same match which is kind of strange. Anyway, the Dropkick sends Regal into referee Nick Patrick’s knee, but also causes Regal to drop the knucks. As Patrick limps away, Edge picks up the knucks and nails Regal with them. Edge makes the cover but after counting to two, the referee spots the knucks on Edge’s hand and calls a DQ. Much like the Rumble, another good match between these two. ***
After the match, if he hadn’t already, Edge has officially lost it now as he drops the referee with the brass knucks. They can’t get Edge out of the ring, so more ref’s come down to get Edge to relax, but he throws them out of the ring, and nails some of them with Spears as well.
Back from the break, and we see Edge getting escorted out of the arena by a bunch of security.
In the backstage area, The Big Show confronts Kane, and they have a stare down, tension between them after the epic way Kane eliminated Show at the Royal Rumble. Big Show breaks the silence, telling Kane that what happened at the Rumble had never happened to Show before, and he wants to shake Kane’s hand. Show offers his hand and Kane accepts. Despite the friendly nature of the segment, Show finishes off by letting Kane know it will never happen again. As Show leaves, he’s replaced by Billy and Chuck. Kane gives them the old sideways look, whilst as they talk about how they noticed Kane loves red, and they clearly love red, so they got him something. And it’s a red bandana like what they were with the name “KANE” written on it. AWESOME. Chuck tries to put it on, and Kane pushes him away. Billy yells at him, and then the two deliver a quick beatdown to Kane. A harmless way to build to a weekly show match, which is what I assume is happening here. The antics of B&C were a load of fun here though, and I guess the follow up on the Show/Kane stuff was fine as well.
Somewhere else in the back, Mr. Perfect runs into Debra, and he starts complaining to her about Austin came back into the Rumble last night and eliminated him illegally. He says Austin cost him the Rumble, and he might be the toughest S.O.B., but he isn’t perfect. I really wish they went all guns blazing with a full-time program for these two.
Now we see a satisfied looking Ric Flair walking through the backstage area, ready to cut a promo after the break.
‘The Nature Boy’ makes his way down to the ring, obligatory bandage on his head after last night’s war, but he struts around, feeling pretty good about himself anyway. We’re in South Carolina too, which means Flair Country, so the ovation is magic for Flair. He sort of gives us a quick recap of the past 25 years, talking about wrestling day in and out, paying the price to be a wrestler. In the process though, he left his family behind. Over the last few years though, he’s had a new goal and he’s trying really hard to get his kids to look past Ric Flair the wrestler. He wants them to see him as a father and somebody that they can be proud of. So, when Vinnie Mac started mentioning his family, Flair had to change a famous catchphrase. “To be the man, you gotta’ beat Vince McMahon”! He thanks his family, before showing the pictures taken during the Rumble, which shows a bloodied Vince McMahon. Coming out to interrupt the party is none other than Vince McMahon himself. Once Vince gets into the ring, Flair takes off his jacket, ready to go for round two, but Vinnie Mac decides against it. McMahon claims that he’s not the only one who lost at the Rumble. Flair, the locker room, and the fans also lost. An eerie Vince then says he’s going to do something that even he will regret, and Flair just needs to wait and see. McMahon’s facial expressions here are great as he really comes across like a sadist, and Flair’s promo was good because he’s Ric Flair.
Mr. Perfect vs. Val Venis
Val Venis is now adding to his gimmick, where he gets a woman from the crowd to step in and remove his towel for him. Cool. This one only goes about 90 seconds, when Stone Cold’s music hits so Perfect throws Venis out of the ring. Austin gets into the ring and drills Perfect with a chair shot. That’s a quick DQ finish but because I love Perfect, I’ll still give this a good rating for what it was. **
Surprisingly, Austin just goes to leave after the match, but Val Venis stupidly calls him back. Val doesn’t seem to have an issue with what happened to Perfect, claiming he got what he deserved for not being able to deliver his message to Austin face to face. He lets it be known that if he ever had a problem with Austin, he wouldn’t run to his wife, he’d tell him face to face. As a matter of fact, Val goes as far to say that he’d whoop Austin’s ass. Stone Cold takes the mic, but instead of actually saying anything, he just drills Venis with a Stunner. Austin then makes fun of Val, including “WHAT” chants for the fans before he wants to tell a little story. He then gives a slightly custom version of The Beverly Hillbillies opening. No real substance to this, but was still pretty fun, nonetheless. It’s worth a watch. After all that though, Austin says that’s not his story. His story is that after all the good he ate, all the alcohol he drank, two sumbitches eliminated him from the Rumble. He admits he isn’t becoming the champion at WrestleMania, but he’s officially entering the 2003 Royal Rumble. Considering everything that happens in the next 12 months, that’s probably a funny thing to think about in retrospect. Austin finishes off by saying he’s still going to whip somebody’s ass at ‘Mania and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so. Entertaining stuff.
We get a quick graphic on screen which tells us we’re only 8 weeks away from WrestleMania.
Billy and Chuck vs. Kane and The Big Show
A bit of a fun start at least, with Kane coming out, only for Billy and Chuck to decide that they don’t want any part of Kane. As they head back up the ramp, The Big Show comes down and drops them with a Double Clothesline. This sets up a tag team match, but in all honesty, it’s pretty awful. Kane and Big Show dominate without any real offense from Billy and Chuck, until Kane goes up top for a Clothesline. At the same time, Big Show bounces off the ropes, accidentally knocking Kane off the top. With Kane out of commission and Show momentarily distracted, Billy hits him with a Fameasser. Billy makes the cover and Chuck holds down Show’s legs from the outside for the victory. This continues the Billy and Chuck push and sets up a seemingly eventual Show/Kane confrontation, but this wasn’t good. Not even close. *
In the back, Triple H and The Rock are together and Triple H is annoyed at what went down earlier tonight. Instead of being annoyed at the guys who attacked him though, he lets The Rock know that he doesn’t need him to be his saviour. The Rock doesn’t understand why Triple H is angle. He won the Rumble, he’s going to WrestleMania, he should go get some ice cream and be happy. The Rock then gets a little more serious, saying that all he wanted was to kick Jericho’s ass. This is fine to hype the main event and whether these two will get along, building off their past and showing clear tension between them.
The epic Undertaker/Maven stuff from the Rumble is recapped next. For those who aren’t in the know, Maven eliminated ‘Taker and then ‘Taker beat the living daylight out of him.
Obligatory WWF New York segment is up next, where Bradshaw talks about the Rumble, stating that the biggest thing that happened was the return of The Godfather. Meh.
We then see The Godfather knock on a door in the backstage area because it’s time to get the escorts out.
After the break, we get The Godfather in the ring with his ‘escorts’ and he talks up how he is now legit. His philosophy on life has seemingly changed as he says, “people don’t want Ho’s, they want ass as well as class”. That just made me chuckle. Anyway, he advertises his completely legitimate escort agency until he’s interrupted by Lance Storm. The Canadian comes out and hits us with the epic “can I be serious for a minute” line, before saying The Godfather is as legitimate as a three-legged donkey. Storm says the ring is a sacred place and the escorts are soiling it. People would much rather see him in athletic competition. He gets boos for this but hell, if I’m watching a wrestling show, I’d much rather see Storm wrestle. Storm threatens Godfather if he doesn’t leave and take the escorts and The Godfather says he’ll whip Storm’s ass. Storm runs down and they have a quick brawl which ends with Godfather landing the Ho Train! Does this now become the escort train? Storm rolls out of the ring as The Godfather and his escorts dance the night away. A typical WWE junk segment here really.
Goldust promo which is always a good time. One day I need to write a piece on the underrated career of Dustin Rhodes. The guy is a star. He kicks things off with the movie quote and he picks a doozy here. “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in – Al Pacino, The Godfather III, 1991”. He talks about how he’s been gone for a long time, waiting to make a comeback that would make even John Travolta snivel in jealousy. In Goldust language, which is awesome, he basically says that as big of a star as he is, there is a star out there that is shining brighter. Clearly a promo to begin to build towards whoever Goldust is going to target. A good time this is, Goldust rules.
In the back, Stephanie McMahon Helmsley is trying to give Triple H a pep talk. Instead of hyping him up for his opponents though, Steph wants her husband to kill The Rock for all the mean things he’s ever said about her. Having heard enough, Triple H stands up to cut her off and asks when she’ll realise that the whole world doesn’t revolve around her. An offended Stephanie says he’s changed, talking about how he hasn’t public acknowledged her regarding his comeback, or the Rumble win yet. Then Triple H returns with the epic line of “make a contribution to my sanity and to the one thing you can never do – shut up”! More relationship problems here which I guess is effectively building too somewhere.
Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle vs. The Rock and Triple H
Probably not surprising considering the guys involved but this was another enjoyable match. It’s probably to do with hindsight but it is a little awkward seeing Triple H as a babyface here. I’ve just felt like it has never suited him and he’s not that good at it. He’s still fine to put on a solid match, but next to a guy like The Rock, who is arguably one of the greatest babyfaces of all time, the difference in ability to play that role is clear to see. Still, a fun match. The Rock and Triple H start off like a house on fire, until The Rock looks to land The People’s Elbow on Jericho, but Angle low bridges the top rope to send Rocky flying out. This allows the heels to have a little bit of control, until the hot tag is made to Triple H. Hunter dominates until he looks to land a Pedigree on Angle, but he notices Jericho on the top rope. Triple H sends Angle into the ropes, crotching the champ on the top rope, before landing the Pedigree on Angle. Trips with the cover, but Jericho breaks up the count. The Rock and Jericho end up getting tagged in and all hell breaks loose, with Jericho eventually able to land a Bulldog. He goes to the outside and grabs the ring bell, before accidentally hitting Angle with it. The Rock avoided the bell shot, nailed Jericho with the Rock Bottom and got the three count. A solid match but considering my issues with the way Jericho has looked as champ, it’s safe to say The Rock getting his win back twenty-four hours later doesn’t do a lot for me. **3/4
A solid show coming off the Rumble. Solid in ring action throughout and the McMahon/Flair segment sets the tone for something big.