Written By: Hayden Stojkovic
WWF Monday Night Raw
January 28th, 2002
We get the usual JR and King welcome to the show, before they run down some of the big hitters on tonight’s card which includes Booker T vs. Triple H, Chris Jericho defending the WWF Undisputed Title against Maven and Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold in a number one contender’s match. The winner of the last match will face the Undisputed Champion at No Way Out.
Kane vs. The Big Show
With these two failing as a team on last week’s Raw and Smackdown, it was only a matter of time until this happened. Whilst the build to this match hasn’t done a lot for me, considering their recent performances and match quality, this was actually pretty good. A fun hoss battle with these two just unloading power moves on each other. The highlights are probably the Sidewalk Slam from Show, whilst Kane shows incredible strength like he did at the Rumble to nail Show with a Scoop Slam. After the Scoop Slam, Kane heads up to the top, looking for his Flying Clothesline, but Show catches him and nails a Chokeslam! Kane manages to kick out and Show audibly swears which I enjoyed for some reason. In a pretty weak transition to get Kane back on top, Show just goes for a lazy Elbow Drop and misses. Kane fights his way to his feet, and with the aid of a Big Boot nails Show with the Chokeslam for the win. A lot better than what I expected from these two. **1/2
In the back, Ric Flair is on the phone, talking in a concerned tone to somebody about Vince McMahon and the NWO, when The APA enter the room. Bradshaw and Faarooq want to know what’s going in with this NWO stuff, however Flair isn’t sure. He says he’s going to speak to Vince as soon as he gets here because he’s out of his mind. If anybody knows about how the NWO can be, it’s Ric Flair. In a nice soundbite, Bradshaw says that if it’s who he thinks it is, “they’re no good, backstabbing, ass kissing, self-serving, shit disturbing sone of bitches”. Flair doesn’t seem to disagree and Faarooq adds on that’s being nice about it. I really like the insight here, showing what members of the locker room are thinking after Vince’s announcement. Makes it feel like a huge deal, as it should.
Goldust promo time, baby! I’m excited. “The greatest trick the Devil ever played was making the world believe he didn’t exist”. “Kevin Spacey – The Usual Suspects, 1995”. Love this movie quote gimmick so much. Goldust says that he is very much real, and that’s a reality that “he” (whoever Goldust is targeting) is that much closer to getting a taste of. Goldust talks about how he was impressed with “him” last week, and so were the people who like him, they really like him. Goldust congratulates “him” for being liked, but also states that he liked that “he” has no idea what’s coming. “He” will soon look back on his life now and miss having so much fun before his life was changed by the life of… Goldust. Awesome stuff here.
We get a clip of the Maven/Undertaker stuff from the Rumble, including Maven eliminating ‘Taker, only for ‘Taker to beat the hell out of him afterward.
Michael Cole interviews Chris Jericho in the back and asks him if it’s true he gave Maven the WWF Undisputed Title shot tonight. Jericho admits that it was, but it’s not because he’s a fighting champion. He gave Maven the shot because everybody is talking about how Maven eliminated The Undertaker from the Royal Rumble, but nobody is talking about how Jericho beat The Rock for a FIFTH time at the Royal Rumble. Jericho says tonight the question won’t be whether Maven is Tough Enough, it will be whether he’s good enough. After the match, he’ll watch Austin and Angle tear each other apart and then at No Way Out, he’ll give them what Maven is getting tonight, an Undisputed beating. Nice Jericho promo, such an egomaniac with the reason behind wanting to face Maven.
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
William Regal (c) vs. Rob Van Dam
It’s logical for Van Dam to have earned a title shot after beating the champ in just over a minute on Smackdown so I’m okay with this. Once Regal gets into the ring, Teddy Long does to town, searching everywhere on Regal for the brass knuckles, until Van Dam has had enough and goes on the attack to start the match. RVD uses the ring post and the steel stairs to his advantage, before laying out Regal with a Step Over Spinning Heel Kick when they are back in the ring. This gets a near fall, and this was enjoyable as hell as Van Dam quickly lands a few moves, including a Rolling Thunder. This is going pretty similar to last week’s match, which makes it feel like Van Dam just might have Regal’s number. It seems Regal thinks that way as well as he gets up and kicks Van Dam below the belt for the blatant DQ. Way to short yet again, but a nice teaser and you can’t help but think Van Dam will get another title shot down the line. **
After the match, Regal gets the IC Title and looks to get out of dodge, but Van Dam stomps him and starts beating him up. Out of nowhere, The Dudleyz come down and stop RVD from attacking Regal, and they use their numbers advantage to beat down Van Dam. Then Edge comes down to even the odds somewhat, by Spearing both Regal and Bubba. RVD nails Bubba with a Crossbody on the outside, whilst Edge lands on D’Von with a pretty sloppy Flipping Senton. Back inside of the ring, Edge tries a high risk move on Regal, but Regal had snuck on the brass knucks, and he knocks out Edge. RVD drops Regal with the Flying Sidekick but then turns into a 3D from The Dudleyz meaning the heels stand tall. This was pretty entertaining but from a logical standpoint, I’m not really sure what the motivation is for The Dudleyz being out here. Doesn’t make a whole heap of sense.
In the back, Stephanie McMahon Helmsley has a go at Ric Flair for booking Triple H in a match with Booker T tonight. She asks who the hell Flair thinks he is because he didn’t take her plans into account tonight. Flair sarcastically apologized for not bowing down to her every demand, but also lets her know that Vince McMahon booked the match. Steph asks if it’s because Triple H called Vince an asshole last week, but Flair doesn’t know or care. He does let Steph know if she wants to talk to Vince, she’ll have to wait behind him, because he’s discussing this NWO stuff with him as soon as possible. Continuing a couple of angles with this little segment, I didn’t mind it.
The Godfather and Diamond Dallas Page cut a quick promo before their match, with Godfather letting everybody know that DDP is a satisfied customer of his escort service. Page hasn’t been able to stop smiling and that’s not a bad thing, that’s a good thing. Eh, whatever. Match please.
Christian and Lance Storm vs. Diamond Dallas Page and The Godfather
I don’t mean to constantly sound like a cynic, but I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this. The Godfather has never really done anything for me in terms of in ring stuff, but this might have been one of his better performances, to be honest. It’s a short match where he doesn’t have to do too much, but when he does play the face in peril, he bumps and sells pretty well. The period of domination from Storm and Christian was pretty stock standard, kicking off with Christian illegally low bridging the top rope. Godfather eventually manages to ram Christian shoulder first into the corner, which allows him to make the hot tag to DDP. We all know Page is a pro, so he has a fun hot tag here. He looks set to nail Storm with the Diamond Cutter, but Christian gets involved and then so does The Godfather. In the end, Christian tries a high risk move, but Page sends Storm into the ropes, which in turn crotches Christian. Christian ends up receiving a Ho Train, whilst DDP finishes off Storm with the Diamond Cutter for the three count. Solid which is better than I expected here. **3/4
Next, we see a clip from the parking lot which shows Vince McMahon arrive in his typical stretch limo.
Ric Flair promo time now. He makes his way out and starts off by reminiscing about some of his memories here in Richmond. I get it because it’s Flair and it’ll get a nice ovation, but when he’s stressed about this NWO stuff, I would rather him just get straight to the point. It would make the situation feel more serious. Admittedly he does then say that there are more important things to talk about then himself which brings things back on track. He talks about leaving the Rumble on such a high, only to see Vince completely lose his mind on Smackdown and mention the NWO. Flair obviously doesn’t want this to happen, so he had to think about how to impress a billionaire. He thinks he’s found a way and goes on to play an epic video package detailing some WWF history. This is another one of those things I recommend youtubing, awesome stuff really. After the video has completed, Flair calls out Vince McMahon. Honestly, once Vinnie Mac arrives Flair’s promo goes to AWESOME Flair levels, as he tells Vince that the WWF is his baby, and all the people want to love him for that. If he’s done something so wrong in the last two months to make Vince want to bring in the NWO, then he’s sorry. Vince just won’t look at Flair as he speaks, and Flair gets all red faced, as king if Vince wants to pin him, or make him bleed, or hit him in the head with the pipe again. “God damn it, what do you want me to do? Do not do this to your company”. Finally, McMahon decides to speak, and he says that he wants 100% of his company and he wants Flair out. Vince says he’ll give Flair until Smackdown to think about it, however if he says no, he’s going to inject the poison of the NWO into WWF veins, slowly killing it. He finishes off by saying he’ll see everybody in hell, because on the NWO killing fields, he’ll be the last to survive. Keep in mind, the entire time, Vince still won’t look at Flair which just really added to this segment. Really makes you further question the mindset of McMahon at this time. Right now, the NWO feels like a huge deal, as it should, and well, Flair’s delivery here for the most part was amazing. Really good stuff.
We quickly go to WWF New York where Nidia talks about how proud she is of Maven for showing how their hard work through Tough Enough pays off.
WWF Undisputed Championship Match
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Maven
The match only goes for about four minutes, but this was a lot of fun, as both men worked hard to tell the story that suited this match perfectly. Jericho played the role of the arrogant, conceded champion, overlooking his challenger really well. Especially in the early stages, when he just slaps Maven and turns his back on him, full of confidence. As for Maven, he plays the role of plucky, fired up challenger really well, taking it to Jericho, and even sending him into the stairs on the outside. Eventually, Jericho manages to ram Maven shoulder first into the ring post and as the ref checks on Maven, Jericho exposes the top turnbuckle. In a really nice near fall moment, Jericho goes for a Dropkick, but Maven catches his legs and catapults him into the exposed turnbuckle, followed by a School Boy for a near fall. After another Roll Up attempt, Jericho rolls through and applies the Walls of Jericho. They give Maven a bit of time in the hold, trying to fight it, before Jericho applies more pressure and Maven submits. Solid stuff. **1/2
As soon as the bell rings, Maven’s in more trouble because The Undertaker makes his way out to the ring. Jericho knows to leave the ring but just kind of sits at the announcers table to watch the show as ‘Taker beats the piss out of Maven. In a pretty cool moment, ‘Taker throws the first show to the ribs, but Maven immediately retaliates, which causes ‘Taker to lose his shit. He goes on to destroy Maven, ending the attack with the epic chair against the larynx and ramming the chair into the ground move. I’ve really no idea what else to call it, but it was awesome, and ‘Taker’s attacks on Maven have been enjoyable so far.
After the break, The Coach catches up to The Undertaker and asks him about the Maven attack. Undertaker delivers a fine threat to Coach, telling him if he mentions the name Maven around ‘Taker again, ‘Taker will be wearing Coach’s teeth as a necklace. He then goes on to basically say that he’ll continue to beat up Maven until he decides he’s had enough. The Coach then asks about the attack on The Rock, which happened due to The Rock mentioning Maven eliminating ‘Taker from the Rumble in a promo. ‘Taker’s response here was pretty bad ass, “Everything’s a joke, song and dance to The Rock, but I’m not cute and I don’t sing or dance, and I DO NOT get disrespected”. He finished by stating what happened to The Rock will continue to happen each time he disrespects ‘Taker. A good promo here really.
In the back, a confused Jazz hears some sexual noises and walks into the locker room to find Billy and Chuck stretching before their match. Chuck suggests working the groin and they do some more suggestive stretches whilst Jazz clearly looks confused as to what the hell they are doing.
Even though they aren’t necessarily arguing here, in a subtle way the issues with Stephanie McMahon Helmsley and Triple H continues, as they’re in the back and Steph queries where his wedding ring is. He says he doesn’t wear it when he wrestles though. From there, Stephanie tells him that her dad made the match tonight, but Triple H doesn’t care, he’s ready to kick some ass. Stephanie offers to go to the ring with Triple H because he might need some help, but Triple H turns it down, saying he’ll be fine. Again, not as much of an argument here but still a segment clearly showing the issues these two are having.
Billy, Chuck, and Jazz vs. The APA and Trish Stratus
There isn’t a lot to say about this one, to be honest. Simple booking philosophy here by meshing two angles into one to create a weekly tag match. I do like that the women start the match here. A lot of times in these intergender matches, it’s always the men starting things out. Even though the wrestling at this stage isn’t anywhere near the quality it would become, it’s cool to see that Jazz and Trish are actually being taken somewhat serious here. Or maybe I’m just overthinking it, I don’t know. Anyway, Trish and Jazz go back and forth which is pretty uneventful until Trish gets a cradle which is broken up by Chuck. He tags himself in and Bradshaw comes in from the other side, automatically making this match much stiffer. It’s pretty back and forth action between the four men as this match is rather quick so there isn’t a real heat period. In the end, Faarooq lands a Spinebuster on Chuck and goes for the pin, but Billy breaks it up. The APA focus on Billy on the outside, whilst Trish knocks Jazz off the apron, and begins attacking Chuck in the corner. Unfortunately, Chuck nails her with a Powerbomb to get the win. Not a good match by any means, but from a booking perspective, does what it needed to. *3/4
Michael Cole is interviewing Kurt Angle in the back now, querying whether Kurt’s worried about the rumours that Austin will take his frustrations out on Kurt after the attack on Raw. A smug Kurt hopes that Austin is mad because he can win this the easy way or the hard way. Austin can go and get himself disqualified or he’ll be so angry he makes a mistake and Kurt will make him tap. Solid stuff here, setting up a nice story for the match tonight.
Booker T vs. Triple H
This match didn’t really do anything for me either if I’m honest. This is one of Triple H’s first singles matches since returning and it seems he isn’t back in his groove yet (I’m not actually sure he ever consistently finds it again but that’s a story for another day). He was fine on offence, landing his Spear into mounted punches, and a fiery Spinebuster, but his selling was a little iffy here. As for Booker T, he’s run in the early stages of 2002 weren’t great. It almost looks like the shitty booking he’s received has demotivated him, and he probably won’t start turning in some decent performances until after the draft. Anyway, Triple H ends up Clotheslining Booker to the outside, before eventually dropping him with another Clothesline on the outside and sending him back into the ring. With the referee paying attention to Booker, Christian runs out from the back and drills Triple H with a Reverse DDT. I will say I like the continuity here with Christian getting payback on H’s asshole attack. What really annoys me here is how quickly Triple H recovers from this. That should be a turning point not a throw away spot. When Triple H gets back in, Booker scores a near fall and then goes for a Scissors Kick, but Trips gets him with the high knee instead. That means that the Reverse DDT on the outside kept Triple H at a disadvantage for about 15 seconds. Ugh. Christian comes back down again, not wanting Trips to win, when Stephanie runs down and gets on the apron, slapping Christian in the face. Triple H knocks Christian off the apron and yells at Stephanie. I know he told her to stay at the back but she’s legitimately rescuing him here and he’s coming across like a douche. Anyway, Triple H allows himself to be distracted, Booker hits him which sends Triple H staggering into Steph, and Booker gets a Schoolboy with the tights for the win. Holy shit, go Booker T. It’s maybe worth pointing out I think this is Triple H’s first loss since his epic return. The match itself wasn’t awful but wasn’t good either. **1/4
After the match, Stephanie is upset and crying as Triple H does his tremble with rage face and storms up the ramp. The next scene we see is them backstage and a distraught Stephanie is apologising. Triple H slams the door in her face, only to open it again, throw Stephanie her bags and shut the door again. I admit that was a cool moment, but in general, I don’t know if Triple H’s actions here make him very likeable. Feels like a huge overreaction to me.
And for those keeping up, we did see 7 weeks until Mania announcement.
Number One Contender’s Match
Kurt Angle vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
Probably not surprising considering who’s involved but this was easily match of the night here. I love the psychology and the story in the early stages as they basically stick to exactly what Kurt mentioned in his promo earlier in the night. Austin comes out like a house on fire, pissed off, beating the shit out of Angle, until Angle is able to reverse the Lou Thesz press into a Powerslam and immediately go for an Ankle Lock. The anger of Austin got him into that position just like Angle predicted which was great, but Austin manages to counter into a Victory Roll for a two count. They bounce back up and Austin hits the Lou Thesz press, but eventually gets caught with an Overhead Belly to Belly Suplex which changes the game. Angle holds the advantage now, landing his Triple German’s and beating up Austin quite a bit, until Austin manages to land a Superplex. Kurt rolls to the outside for a reprieve and they show that a brawl is more down Austin’s alley, as he destroys Kurt on the outside. Once back inside, Kurt gets a low blow and grabs a steel chair from the outside and throws it into the ring. Kurt gets back in, but Austin grabs the chair, and in an awesome moment playing on Austin’s anger, Angle begs him to hit him with the chair. Stone Cold is smart enough not to do it, knowing a title shot is at stake. Instead, Austin drops the chair and goes for the Stunner, but Kurt reverses by sending Austin into Earl Hebner. With the referee down, Kurt now goes to town with chair shots on Austin before making the cover, but Austin kicks out. From here, we get the Ankle Lock again but after sustaining some time in the hold, Austin makes it to the ropes. Kurt then hits the Angle Slam, but Austin gets his foot on the ropes. I hate this sort of ending but they do the whole Kurt celebrates because he thinks he won. I just find this illogical because the bell never rings, and his music doesn’t play so how does he think he won? Anyway, the celebrating for no reason from Kurt allows Austin to recover and land the Stunner for the in. Outside of the ending which I just generally don’t like, this was really good on a show that needed it. ***1/2
After the match, Jericho runs down to try and gain the upper hand on Austin, but he gets nailed with a Stunner. We then get the obligatory Austin beer bash to end the show.
A solid show in terms of angle development however not much enjoyable wrestling outside of the main event. I’d say this is a middling show at best.