Written By: Hayden Stojkovic
January 24th, 2002
Charleston, South Carolina
The show opens up with Michael Cole and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler giving us the rundown on commentary. Tonight, sees the beginning of a four-man number one contender tournament to see who will face Chris Jericho for the WWF Undisputed Championship at No Way Out. Tonight’s matches will see Booker T vs. Stone Cold and Kurt Angle vs. The Rock. The winners will face each other on Raw.
Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal
Well, this definitely wasn’t what I expected. I thought these two would put on a pretty good contest, but instead Van Dam nails Regal with a Plancha when he’s still outside the ring. Back inside, Van Dam runs through some kicks and the Rolling Thunder, before getting the win with the Five Star Frog Splash. Strange to book your IC Champ to job like this in a random match that isn’t related to the program he’s currently in. Disappointed we didn’t get to see more of a match here, can’t rate this as anything but bad because of the booking. *
To make this arguably the worst night in Regal’s career, as he’s trying to recover after the match, Edge comes out and nails him with a Spear. Now at least this hypes the existing IC Title program.
In a weird, eerie setting, Vince McMahon is seemingly having a conversation with somebody who is off camera. The Chairman of the Board looks a little unhinged as he tells the person he knows they think he doesn’t have the guts to do what he said he would but they’re wrong. He claims that he has no alternative, and he will do something even he will regret, and he’s going to do it tonight. A nice tease for what’s to come here.
We get a quick video from the Rumble, showing Rikishi giving Big Bossman a Stinkface and eliminating him from the Rumble. Bossman wanting revenge is probably why we have the next match.
Big Bossman vs. Rikishi
Not that it’s overly important but it’s worth noting that Jacqueline is the referee for this one, which means she’s probably out of the Women’s Title picture for good. When Rikishi comes out, he dances around with her for a bit, and Jackie takes Bossman’s nightstick away, showing she means business. As for the match, it was okay. Not overly long which is probably good for these two, but there was some decent action here. Bossman sends Rikishi into the steps on the outside, before landing some stuff inside the ring but being unable to put Rikishi away. Eventually, Rikishi comes back with a Superkick, followed by a Banzai Drop for the win. Not bad from these two. **1/4
In the backstage area, Stephanie McMahon Helmsley is getting herself a coffee, when she is approached by Lilian Garcia. Being a good Samaritan, Lilian checks in on Steph regarding her marital problems, stating that after what happened on Raw, she’s here if Steph needs to talk. Clearly on edge, and an asshole, Steph says her and Triple don’t have any problems and the only problem is Lilian. Steph then proceeds to throw the coffee on Garcia before walking away.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match
Spike Dudley and Tazz (c) vs. Albert and Scotty 2 Hotty
Despite not being a team for to long, Spike and Tazz have clearly identified a formula that works for them, and it’s surrounding Spike being thrown around by bigger, stronger guys. After an opening exchange that sees Tazz get the better of Scotty, both men make tags. From here, we get some really fun stuff as Albert just beats up Spike, throwing him around the ring. As usual, Spike’s selling is on point as well. There was a nice moment here before Albert started dominating where Spike attempted a Spear but hurt his own neck. I like the continuity here as Spike is selling that attack from The Dudleyz on last week’s edition of Smackdown. Albert lands some nice stuff on Spike, including an epic Giant Swing~! After a Guillotine on the ropes, Albert goes for the pin, but Tazz breaks up the count. Scotty gets tagged in and lands some unremarkable offence on Spike, only to miss a Spear. This allows Spike to tag in Tazz, who goes to work on Scotty. He eventually nails Scotty with a T Bone Suplex, but Albert charges and nails Tazz with a Body Splash. All hell breaks loose with Spike able to come in and nail Albert with a Dudley Dog, whilst after surviving the Worm, Tazz makes Scotty submit with the Tazzmission. Solid stuff. **1/2
Stephanie McMahon Helmsley is backstage with Triple H, and she brags about what she did to Lilian, but Triple H doesn’t react. This annoys Steph as she asks if he’s listening to her and what her problem is. She is a McMahon and she’s the reason he is where he is today. Finally, this gets Triple H’s attention. He states that Vinnie Mac is an asshole, before asking how she’s proud after everything he’s done to her. Steph bites back, letting Triple H know that she’s proud of her family and accusing him of marrying her for her last name. But Trips disagrees, he married her in spite of her last name. Vince never thought he was good enough for her. Steph says maybe her dad was right, and an annoyed Triple H states maybe everybody was right about Steph. I understand the marriage issues are an angle here, but this segment annoyed me a little. I hate when WWE annoy their history and the fact that these two are talking about their marriage as if it was normal irritates me. It’s not like Triple H proposed and Vince said no, and they fought against the odds. This wasn’t a love story. Triple H had Steph’s drink drugged and then he took her through a drive through chapel. Probably a small thing in the whole picture but it bothers me when they ignore stuff like this.
We head to somewhere else in the back where The Coach is about to interview The Rock. You know what that means? Shenanigans. The Rock talks a little about the Royal Rumble, talking about all the crazy things that happened at the Rumble, including Maven eliminating The Undertaker. The Coach looks like he’s uninterested, so Rocky makes him dance the Charleston and then kicks him out of screenshot. Lol Coach. Good times but not on the level of the Copacabana promo earlier in the year. The Rock then remembers last year’s No Way Out when he beat Kurt Angle to become the WWF Champion. He’ll beat Kurt again tonight and then he’ll become the champion at No Way Out. Rock then says that this years WrestleMania will be The Rock’s WrestleMania. Solid promo as ever from The Rock.
Next up, we see a pissed off Triple H, now by himself in the back, clearly annoyed after his previous argument with his wife. Sharmell (this may be her first WWE appearance?) approached and asks if he’s okay, but he sends her away pretty quickly. Christian then happens to be walking by, and says he feels for Triple H. He talks about Steph’s temper before wishing Triple H luck. Christian didn’t actually seem overly sarcastic or anything here, but then Triple H attacks him and beats the hell out of him in the back. Eh, a bit of an overreaction from mine and didn’t feel like a justified babyface response.
Another Vince McMahon segment where he’s speaking to somebody off screen. He informs them that since the Rumble, Ric Flair has assumed a position of leadership. Vince doesn’t like it but that’s what has happened, and under Flair’s leadership, the WWF has a terminal cancer. Under Flair’s leadership, the WWF will slowly die. Vince implores whoever he is speaking to that they know what they have to do. Again, the build here towards the eventual reveal is really good.
Just to further remind us of that crazy Royal Rumble moment, we see a clip of Maven eliminating The Undertaker, only to have the shit kicked out of him afterward.
Booker T vs. Stone Cold
The winner of this one goes on to Raw to face the winner of Kurt Angle vs. The Rock later in the night. The winner of that match on Raw will face Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Title at No Way Out. A solid TV match here, following a pretty basic formula, but it’s clear that neither man was trying to set the world on fire here. Austin started off well, landing a Spinebuster and a Neckbreaker, but Booker eventually hits a Superkick which changes the momentum of the match. After sending Austin into the steps twice on the outside, Booker begins to focus on the leg of Austin. I didn’t mind this as it gave Booker’s offense a point of focus, but what irritated me was as soon as Austin started making his comeback, it’s like the leg work was completely ignored. Booker never tries to go back to it and Austin doesn’t sell it either. Austin goes to work on the comeback, but Booker manages to counter the Stunner, which he celebrates with a Spinaroonie after knocking Austin down. Booker then lands the Scissors Kick but only gets a two count. He looks to follow up with the Stunner, but Austin breaks free and lands a Stunner of his own for the victory. Solid yet again. **1/2
Sharmell is now with Ric Flair in the back, and she asks him what Vince was talking about earlier. Flair admits that he has no idea what Vince was talking about, but he needs to accept his loss at the Rumble and let it go. The WWF is in good shape and continues to grow. Again, building towards the announcement of whatever Vince is preparing to do, this does a really good job.
Kane and The Big Show vs. The Dudley Boyz w/Stacy Keibler
The booking of this match surprises me a little. Kane and The Big Show aren’t necessarily a tag team, only teaming together on Raw because they both had issues with Billy and Chuck. After they had a miscommunication there, it doesn’t really make sense for them to want to team together, unless they are suddenly chasing tag team gold. That doesn’t seem likely, so it feels they are teaming for no reason against a team that they don’t have any issues with. At least they made it a Tables match which should be fun. I guess the point of this is to show that Kane and Show continue to miscommunicate, leading to an eventual match between the pair. They do some nice table teases throughout, with Kane moving the table so The Dudleyz can’t Flapjack Show through it. There’s another tease as well where Show Chokeslams D’Von but Bubba gets the table out of the way. In the end, there’s a table set up on the outside and Kane’s on the apron, and Show whips Bubba into Kane, which causes Kane to fall and crash through the table. It seems they’re foregoing the usual both team members have to get put through a table as this ones over. I admittedly wasn’t that excited going into this one, but it certainly didn’t deliver either. *1/2
After the match, Kane confronts The Big Show, and the two behemoths are separated by a bunch of referees. Looks like they will be running Kane/Show at some point.
Yet another Vince McMahon segment here. It’s almost like he’s in mourning here as he says it’s a damn shame, but everything has to come to an end sometime. Even so, he never pictured that it would be like this. He talks about how the WWF is what he built and now it’s crashing down around him, because somebody is taking it from him. He literally takes it to the next level her, crying as he says somebody injected his baby with cancer. After a few moments, McMahon gets a hold of himself and calmly states that’s to damn bad. The mood change here was awesome, showing how unhinged he is right now. I continue to enjoy these quick promos throughout the night.
Now we get a quick Goldust promo, where he talks about how the WWF has changed since he first showed up, and how he has his greatest performance ever ready. Goldust once again brings up the shining star, saying that he needs this from Goldust. It’s time for his star to rise, everybody will know the name of…. Goldust. Good stuff again here.
Following on from the Goldust promo, we see Billy and Chuck in the back. Chuck compliments Goldust’s hair, but Billy lets Chuck know that Chuck’s hair is better. LOL. They then talk about how they should be the WWF Tag Team Champions. They talk up their physiques, saying they definitely have the look, plus the chicks dig them. They then perform their own secret handshake before Billy slaps Chuck on the ass. Look, in ring wise these two haven’t really delivered yet, but I do enjoy the gimmick. Some of their backstage stuff has been pretty fun.
The Coach now looks to interview Kurt Angle ahead of his main event match with The Rock tonight. Angle talks about how even though he didn’t win the Rumble, beating The Rock tonight is still his chance to become the WWF Champion. As always, the fans do the “WHAT” thing to Angle which pisses off. He talks about how he brought honour to this country, he’s a Gold Medallist and they do this to him. He says if they say “WHAT” one more time, he’s out of here. Of course, they do, so Kurt cuts the interview short and storms off.
Jazz vs. Trish Stratus
The action throughout here is still a little sloppy, but I thought the booking of this was pretty on point. Trish comes out and is still major pissed off with her injured hand, so she bursts out of the gate, eventually landing a nice kick to the head for a near fall. Jazz does fight back though, showing off her strength advantage with a hair toss, and a nice Double Armed Suplex. On the outside, Jazz starts to work on the injured hand of Trish and the shoulder which makes complete sense. Eventually, Jazz locks in a hold on the arm, but Trish makes the ropes, yet Jazz won’t let up the count. After the count of five, the referee has no choice to DQ Jazz. I honestly don’t mind the booking here. Sure, Jazz just lost a match, but it was a non-title match and she’s trying to soften up her rival. This still wasn’t much in terms of in ring action though. *
After the match, Jazz drills Trish with a DDT!
Another eerie Vince McMahon promo. He tells whoever he is speaking to not to try and talk him out of what he’s going to do. It has to be done, there’s no other way if there was, he’d do it. There’s no other logical way for this to happen. When you care as much as Vince does, this has to be done and he can’t be talked out of it. Suddenly, Vince starts doing weird shit, convulsing and whatever, only to say that it’s starting to feel good. That was creepy, but more good build up here.
Kurt Angle vs. The Rock
Having his issues with The Rock recently, the WWF Undisputed Champion Chris Jericho decides to come down and do some commentary on the main event. I’m not entirely sure if these two know how to put on a bad match with each other. More solid wrestling here. If you’ve seen these two wrestle before, there’s nothing new here, but it’s still entertaining. They start off strong, with the two eventually trading Belly to Belly Suplexes but Kurt’s is way better. Angle throws Rocky to the outside and Jericho throws Rock into the announce table and the ring post. Once back in the ring, Kurt continues to have his way, eventually locking in the Ankle Lock. The Rock makes it to the ropes, and this allows him to start making his comeback. This time it’s Angle who gets tossed outside, and when The Rock goes out, he gets revenge, beating on Jericho. In a nice spot, he ends up being able to ram Angle’s head into Jericho’s groin. The Rock gets Angle back into the ring and is able to land the Spinebuster, followed by a Sharpshooter. Angle taps, but the referee doesn’t see it because Jericho has pulled the referee out of the ring. As Jericho keeps the referee distracted, The Undertaker randomly appears and nails The Rock with a Chokeslam. ‘Taker disappears and Jericho allows the ref to get back into the ring, and Kurt covers for the win. Another solid match. **3/4
After the break, The Coach wants to get Stone Cold’s thoughts on facing Kurt Angle on Raw. Austin doesn’t really get very far, not saying much of importance, when Angle attacks him. The two brawl and Kurt ends up being able to apply the Ankle Lock, keeping it locked in until a bunch of referees are able to pull him off. I guess this is fine to add some more heat to their pending match on Raw.
And to end the show, we get one last promo from Vinnie Mac, still in the same dark, eerie backstage area. He talks about how the WWF is going to die, it has cancer because of Ric Flair. Ric Flair is killing the WWF, but Vince won’t let Flair kill what he created. Completely unhinges and with some awesome facial expressions, Vince says “I’m going to kill what I created. I’m going to inject the WWF with a lethal dose of poison. If anyone’s going to kill it, it’s going to be me… Me and the…” He awesomely spins his chair around, revealing that he’s been talking to himself all night, staring in a mirror. The chair also reveals who he will be bringing in and it says the last thing we hear him say for the night… “NWO! An awesome night of hype for the NWO reveal for mine, terrific stuff throughout. Potentially the highlight of the entire NWO bit in the WWE but that’s for another day. Very strong ending to the show.
The NWO stuff was obviously a big portion of this show and I enjoyed it. From an in-ring perspective, we got a bit of a mixed bag. Show was middling for me this week; it was just okay.