Reviews

WWE Armageddon 2002 Review

wwe armageddon 2002 poster

The final WWE pay-per-view of 2002 was a Raw and Smackdown event called Armageddon with Shawn Michaels defending the World Heavyweight Title against Triple H in the main event.

It was an interesting time for WWE because the brand split started about nine months earlier, so Raw and Smackdown rosters were established. The Rock was gone filming movies, Steve Austin was gone during his break and would come back in early 2003. It was time for other people to step up. With that said, I thought Survivor Series 2002 was an outstanding PPV and then this show was a bit of a letdown in terms of the card. There were still plenty of things to look forward to.

This show followed Survivor Series 2002 and led into Royal Rumble 2003.

Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:

“Triple H goes to war against Shawn Michaels in a 2-out-of-3 Falls Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. Big Show defends the WWE Title vs Kurt Angle. Batista takes on Kane. An Elimination Match for the Tag Team Championship and much more.” 14+ (D,L,S,V)

This was the poster for the event. If you look it for on WWE Network/Peacock, you’ll see this image of Torrie Wilson on there.

The DVD looked like this.

WWE Armageddon
From Office Depot Center in Ft. Lauderdale (Sunrise), Florida
December 15, 2002

There was an opening video package showing the key players on the show. The “End is Here” song was played during it since it’s the Armageddon theme.

There was an impressive pyro display in the arena. It was a decent-sized crowd in the building. The Raw announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the show.

The opening match was a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the World Tag Team Titles on Raw. The Dudley Boyz were up first to a big pop followed by Lance Storm & William Regal getting booed. Booker T & Goldust got a big pop as a unique babyface team. The World Tag Team Champions Chris Jericho and Christian were up last as an egomaniacal heel duo.

Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match: Chris Jericho & Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) vs. Booker T & Goldust vs. Lance Storm & William Regal

Pre-match notes: The Dudleys and Booker/Goldust were the faces. The championship team of Chris Jericho & Christian were heels along with William Regal & Lance Storm. Jericho and Christian won the titles about two months before this.

The way it works is that two wrestlers are in the ring while the others are on the apron.

Storm worked over Bubba with punches, then Bubba came back with his own punches. Bubba: “Die Canadian scum.” Bubba hit a running corner splash. Storm tagged in Christian, D-Von went in for the Dudleys and they hit a double team slapjack. Regal tagged in, D-Von with a leaping clothesline and Goldust tagged in. Regal hit an overhead suplex on Goldust, Christian tagged himself in he worked over Goldust with punches. Goldust caught Jericho in the middle of the ring leading to a catapult that sent Jericho over the top to the floor. Goldust with a suplex on Jericho back into the ring. Jericho with a running forearm on Goldust. Christian tagged in, so Goldust hit an atomic drop followed by a clothesline. Bubba and Goldust each did some punch routines on Jericho/Christian and then bionic elbows on Regal/Storm too. Bubba with a body slam on Christian, the referee was distracted and D-Von hit a headbutt off the top rope on the groin of Christian. All eight man were in the ring brawling. Dudleys hit the 3D on Christian, but Regal made the tag. Storm jumped off the top on Bubba with a leg drop. Regal pinned Bubba, then their momentum caused them to sleep and Regal had to pin Bubba again to get the pinfall.

The Dudley Boyz were eliminated

Goldust was sent in the ropes, Storm with a knee to the back, but Goldust recovered with a powerslam on Regal to pin and eliminate that team.

Lance Storm & William Regal were eliminated

It was down to Goldust/Booker against the champions Jericho/Christian. Goldust hit a jumping hip attack on Jericho followed by Booker tagging in with punches. Booker with a standing back kick on Jericho. Goldust back in, he held Jericho and Booker hit a jumping sidekick for two with Christian making the save. Christian back in, Goldust with an uppercut and Goldust missed a cross body block leading to a bump to the floor. Jericho whipped Goldust into the steel steps and even hit him with a flag that Regal/Storm brought to the ring. Christian with a backbreaker on Goldust for two with Booker making the save. The fans chanted “Christian sucks” as Christian applied an abdominal stretch on Goldust. Christian with a head whip to knock Goldust down. Jericho back in with punches, but then Goldust came back with a running clothesline. Christian illegally into the ring to prevent a tag. Jericho and Christian worked over Goldust in the corner with kicks. Goldust fought out of the heel corner leading to a sidewalk slam by Goldust on Christian. Booker tagged in against Jericho with Booker delivering punches, then a forearm to Jericho and a jumping side kick. Booker hit an impressive sunset flip on Jericho for two. Booker was on fire with punches, but Jericho hit a neckbreaker for two. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, but Booker countered with an inside cradle for two. Jericho avoided a scissors kick and applied the Walls of Jericho submission on Booker, who got an assist from Goldust with a bulldog on Jericho. Christian went up top with a Tag Team Title, Goldust hit the ropes to knock Christian down, then Booker sent Jericho into Christian to knock him off the apron. Booker with a jumping side kick on Jericho for two. Booker went up, Jericho with a punch and Booker countered with a front suplex. Booker hit a missile dropkick off the top for two. Jericho sent Booker into the turnbuckle followed by a bulldog. Booker with a flap jack leading to Booker doing the Spinarooni to a big pop. Booker hit the Scissors Kick, Goldust knocked Christian down and Booker covered Jericho for two with a slight delay on that pin attempt. The referee was looking at Goldust, Jericho hit Booker with the title and Jericho hit a Lionsault for two. Good nearfall there. Booker ducked a Jericho attack and Booker hit the Book End for the pinfall win at 16:43.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW World Tag Team Champions: Booker T & Goldust

Analysis: ***1/2 This was a very good tag team match that led to a happy moment with the team of Booker & Goldust finally capturing the tag team titles. I liked the nearfalls towards the end of the match. The fans really got into it too, so it was a smart choice to start the show off with a tag team title change. I liked Jericho/Christian as a championship team too, but this was the right time to do a title change since Booker/Goldust were a lot of fun as a team.

Booker and Goldust were interviewed by Jonathan Coachman. Booker said that people like Coach didn’t give them a chance, but the fans believed in Goldie and Booker T. Booker told Goldust that he ain’t the weak link because right now he’s one half of the World Tag Team Champions…now can you did that, sucka!

Analysis: Once again that was a cool moment. I enjoyed it.

The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Taz were on commentary for the next match.

They showed an interview with Brock Lesnar earlier in the day saying that tonight, he was going to make an impact.

Edge got a good pop for his entrance. There wasn’t much of a reaction for his opponent A-Train. A video aired of A-Train destroying Rey Mysterio after a match and hitting him with a steel chair leading to Rey needing surgery. A-Train also attacked Edge with a chair, so that set up this match.

Edge vs. A-Train

Pre-match notes: Edge was a popular babyface on the rise while A-Train was a heel. They dumped the Albert name for A-Train.

A-Train used his size advantage with a running shoulder tackle. The fans chanted “shave your back” chant at A-Train while Edge countered a body slam and dropkicked A-Train into the turnbuckle. The action spilled to the floor, Edge avoided a charging A-Train and A-Train hit the ring post. Edge with a dropkick to the knee followed by a leg drop to the back of the head. A-Train charged again, Edge moved and got a rollup for two. A-Train hit a powerslam on Edge for a two count. A-Train worked over Edge with punches followed by a catapult move that sent Edge neck first into the middle rope. Edge with a jawbreaker leading to Edge working over A-Train with punches. Edge with a forearm and a spinning heels kick. Edge with a faceplant sending A-Train to the mat. Edge jumped off the middle rope with a neckbreaker for a two count. Edge went up top, jumped off with nothing and A-Train hit a bicycle kick to the head for two. Edge with a sliding dropkick to the ribs while A-Train grabbed a steel chair. Edge went up top and hit a cross body block for two. A-Train came back with a two handed Chokeslam/Powerbomb combo that would be called the Baldo Bomb and that only got a two count. A-Train did use that as a finisher later in his career. A-Train grabbed the steel chair, the referee Jimmy Korderas tried to get the chair and Edge hit a Spear for just two. That was also Edge’s finisher later in his career. A-Train grabbed the steel chair and hit Edge in the right knee with it, so A-Train was disqualified at 7:12.

Winner by disqualification: Edge

Analysis: **1/4 It was just an average match with a weak finish. It was all about A-Train showing his aggressiveness a lot to try to show that he was elevated as a singles wrestler that was going to be tough to beat as well. Edge did a nice job of selling A-Train’s and making the babyface comebacks. The chair shot finish wasn’t a surprise because of A-Train’s chair attacks on Rey Mysterio and Edge leading up to this match.

A-Train tried to attack again, but Edge hit a dropkick to the chair to knock A-Train down. The story was that Edge had a torn MCL because of A-Train’s previous attacks. Edge hit A-Train in the head with the chair! Edge hit A-Train with repeated body shots to the back and chest. Edge finally stopped when A-Train was down on the mat.

Analysis: It was payback for A-Train’s previous chair attacks on Mysterio and Edge. That chair shot by Edge to A-Train’s head was nasty. That’s something that used to happen in WWE, but stopped many years ago.

Big Show, the WWE Champion, was backstage with Paul Heyman. Big Show said he knows that Brock Lesnar is going to be in Kurt Angle’s corner. Show wanted to go into Stephanie McMahon’s office to talk about this and Heyman told Show he can’t do this. Heyman told Show to let Paul reason with Stephanie with Paul saying he will handle their business. Heyman said Show is the champ and Paul is the agent. Show went into his dressing room.

Eddie Guerrero made his entrance as one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions along with his nephew Chavo. Two weeks earlier there was a Fatal 4-Way on Smackdown for a WWE Title shot, Chris Benoit eliminated Eddie Guerrero from it and then after Eddie was eliminated, he attacked Benoit, which led to Benoit losing that match. Chris Benoit entered as the opponent.

Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero

Pre-match notes: Benoit was the face while Eddie was the heel. They were best friends who were respected as two of the best in-ring performers in WWE.

They did some mat wrestling to start the match with Cole talking about their friendship and how they are best friends. Eddie connected with a hard chop to the chest. Eddie with a shoulder tackle, Benoit with a back body drop and a chinlock. Eddie applied a submission on Benoit’s arm, then Benoit powered out of it and fell back to slam Eddie to the mat. Eddie was able to take down Benoit with another submission around the head/neck of Benoit, then Benoit reversed it and Benoit slammed Eddie into the mat. Eddie with a back body drop on Benoit to send him out of the ring. Eddie went up top and hit a cross body block on Benoit on the floor. Back in the ring, Eddie with elbow drops to the leg, then a kneebar submission and Benoit tried to kick himself free. Eddie trapped the left leg again leading to Eddie wrenching the leg against the mat. Eddie with a running corner splash, Benoit with a kick to the face and Benoit went for the arm, but Eddie fought that off. Benoit delivered four German Suplexes in a row and then a fifth one led to an ovation from the crowd. Benoit went up top, Eddie rolled back up, so Benoit went down to the ring again and Benoit delivered two more German Suplexes for seven total. Eddie ducked a Benoit clothesline leading to Eddie hitting three German Suplexes along with a regular suplex. Eddie went to the top, jumped off and hit the Frog Splash for just two with Benoit getting his right shoulder up. That was Eddie’s finisher. Benoit was up against the ropes, so Eddie tackled Benoit through the ropes to the floor. Eddie distracted the referee in the ring, which led to Chavo Guerrero hitting Benoit with the title shot to the head. The referee didn’t see it while Eddie brought Benoit into the ring for a two count. Eddie with a drop toe hold trip leading to the Lasso from El Paso submission, but Benoit got his hand on the bottom rope to break free. Benoit with chops to stun Eddie a bit followed by Benoit hitting a huge Powerbomb with no pin attempt. Eddie distracted the referee again, Chavo went after Benoit and Benoit sent Chavo into the top rope leading to a bump from Chavo to the floor. Benoit up top, Eddie was there, Benoit shoved him down and Benoit hit a headbutt off the top. Eddie countered a pin attempt by applying the Lasso from El Paso again, but Benoit got out of it and Benoit went for the Crippler Crossface. Benoit applied the Crossface on the right arm, they rolled to the center of the ring and Eddie tapped out. Benoit got the win at 16:47.

Winner by submission: Chris Benoit

Analysis: ***3/4 This was a great match between two of the best wrestlers in WWE at the time and really, two of the best all-time in terms of their wrestling skills. The first half of the match was a bit too slow, but then the pace really picked up and it was easy to get into the match. Benoit kicking out of a Frog Splash was a big moment since that was Eddie’s finisher, so it showed that Benoit was tough to beat. Right after that, Chavo hit Benoit with the belt shot and Benoit kept on going. Eddie got a lot of offense in the match, which meant Benoit didn’t get a chance to work on the arm much, but the Crippler Crossface was Benoit’s finish, so it was the right way to end it.

Benoit celebrated the win while the announcers put it over and how he had positive momentum after that victory.

Analysis: The win for Benoit made sense since he would go on to challenge for the WWE Championship at the next PPV – Royal Rumble 2003. That was an incredible match.

Stephanie McMahon, the Smackdown General Manager, was in her office saying: “I love that Chris Benoit.” There’s a line to regret. Paul Heyman walked in saying he loved Benoit too and thought about adding him to his stable of clients. Stephanie told Heyman that Brock Lesnar’s suspension is lifted as of tonight. Heyman said he’s there for a bigger issue. Heyman claimed that people have been questioning some of Stephanie’s decisions lately. Heyman talked about the integrity of being WWE Champion, so Stephanie cut him off reminding him that Paul helped Big Show beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Title. Stephanie said that if Brock wants to be in Kurt Angle’s corner tonight then that’s up to Lesnar. Heyman thanked Stephanie for her time. Heyman said if Lesnar is in Angle’s corner tonight, then no more Mr. Nice Guy because Big Show will break Brock Lesnar’s neck.

Analysis: It was just a segment to hype up the WWE Title match with regards to what Lesnar might do later. I didn’t mind Stephanie as the babyface Smackdown GM. She was in that role for a little over a year or so. Most of her career was spent as a heel authority figure.

A video package aired from Smackdown about Torrie Wilson’s rivalry with Dawn Marie. The story was that Dawn used her sex appeal to lure Torrie’s dad Al into a sexual relationship. Dawn also informed Torrie that she was interested in her. Torrie said that Dawn was engaged to Torrie’s dad Al and Torrie was shocked that it was all about Al. Dawn told Torrie “if you do something for me” then she won’t marry Al. Dawn handed Torrie her hotel room key and said hopefully Torrie will be there. Torrie was shown going into the hotel room, she was uncomfortable and then it ended there. Dawn Marie told Al that every time she saw Torrie’s eyes and kissed Torrie’s lips, she felt like she was kissing Al. Dawn said she’s still going to marry Al on Smackdown. That led to Torrie attacking Dawn. It led to Dawn claiming that she would show the whole world what happened in that hotel room.

Analysis: That video package was longer than a lot of women’s matches in this era. This is the kind of angle that WWE loved to do in this era to be controversial and to use sex appeal in storylines. They really wouldn’t do anything like that in this era as I write this in 2021.

Let’s Hear from Dawn Marie

Dawn Marie walked out in a very short and revealing dress. Torrie’s dad Al (it is really her dad) was there too. Dawn said that everybody has been wondering about happened with her and Torrie Wilson. Dawn said people wondered about how hot was the footage that they are about to show. Dawn claimed that Torrie isn’t there tonight because she’s ashamed and she’s hiding. Dawn called for the vintage of what happened in room 357.

Torrie Wilson was shown knocking on the door of the hotel room, then she used the key and there was Dawn Marie in the hotel room. Dawn informed Torrie that if she does everything Dawn wants then the wedding will be off. Dawn tried to put her hands on Torrie, who walked away and Dawn said, “I guess you don’t love your father after all.” Torrie walked back towards her. Dawn gave Torrie some champagne, so Torrie chugged it leading to cheers from the crowd. Dawn offered a strawberry, but Torrie refused. Dawn was touching different parts of Torrie’s body and took off the jacket that Torrie was wearing to reveal a red bra that Torrie had on. Dawn also took off Torrie’s shirt to show off a thong, which led to more cheers from the crowd. Dawn took off her robe to reveal braw and panties, which again led to happiness from the crowd. Dawn told Torrie: “All men want you, but they can’t give you what I can. Only a woman knows how to make another woman feel good.” Torrie had a frustrated look on her face and then Dawn kissed Torrie on the lips for a full make out session. Huge cheers from the crowd. Dawn in the arena said to freeze the footage. That led to boos.

Dawn asked if the fans liked that and the fans cheered. Dawn said that she did too. Dawn asked: “How hot was that?” Al said we have seen enough and Tazz said we have seen enough. Al said that’s his daughter, so he can’t let this go on any further. Dawn said it’s going to go further because Torrie went further and asked if the fans wanted to see how far Torrie went? Of course, the fans cheered.

The footage aired again with Dawn leaning in to kiss Torrie on the lips again. More cheers from the crowd. Al Wilson was yelling on the microphone saying they can stop this and wanting it to stop. After the kiss ended, they stopped it. The fans booed when the footage stopped. Al said he’s had enough of this. Dawn said that the people want to see more, which drew more cheers. Al said he didn’t give a damn if the fans want to see more and fans chanted “We Want More” with Al saying she had to stop it. Dawn said if Al wants to stop the footage then they will stop the footage. The fans booed that. Al said she didn’t want to upset Al and the fans chanted “Asshole” with Dawn saying he’s not an asshole. It wasn’t even bleeped. Dawn called Torrie a sexual predator. Dawn told Al they should go to their hotel room to make footage of their own. They left.

Analysis: The story sucked. No doubt about it. However, as a man in my early 20s at this point, I certainly didn’t mind seeing Torrie or Dawn Marie on the screen at any time, so it’s not like I hated it that much. Let’s just say that most people that bought the Armageddon 2002 DVD probably watched this segment more than anything else. That’s just my guess. I didn’t have to “research” that. About ten years later, I got to know Torrie pretty well and she’s a friend as you can see here. I have never asked her about this segment, but I can recall conversations about silly segments she did and she just always laughs about it saying it was just part of the job. She didn’t mind doing that kind of stuff if it was good for the story. Anyway, I’m sure the footage is out there in internet land if you’ve never seen it. A few months before this, WWE was pushing “Hot Lesbian Action” angles and then they had two gorgeous women making out on this show. I guess some people in the company wanted to be an edgy product. That’s not a surprise in this era.

The Raw announcers Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were on commentary again with Lawler saying he hated Al Wilson.

Analysis: The story continued with Dawn and Al getting married on Smackdown with Dawn in her lingerie for the wedding…of course. Then they had a “honeymoon” where Al died during sex or I guess after that. At least that was the idea. Torrie and Dawn even got into a brawl at the funeral. The feud ended at Royal Rumble 2003 with Torrie beating Dawn for killing Torrie’s dad. Al actually didn’t die at the time. Al did pass away just a few days before Torrie’s WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2019. Rest in Peace, Al.

Shawn Michaels, the World Heavyweight Champion, was shown stretching prior to his match later.

Kane entered to a babyface pop from the crowd. Kane was still in mask. The mask removal was in 2003. Batista was up next with Ric Flair joining him at ringside. It was the early days of the Evolution stable the group wasn’t an official thing yet.

Kane vs. Batista (w/Ric Flair)

Pre-match notes: Kane was the face while Batista was the heel. Batista debuted earlier in the year. This was Batista’s PPV debut match.

Batista with a shoulder tackle followed by a clothesline. Kane hit a neckbreaker followed by a clothesline over the top to the floor. Back in the ring, Kane hit a body slam and elbow drop. Kane with a boot to the chest, then Batista sent Kane into the top rope and Batista hit a Spear for two. Batista hit a suplex for two. Kane with punches, Kane charged and Batista sent Kane over the top to the floor. Kane sent Batista throat first into the top rope. Flair went after Kane with chops, Kane no sold it and Batista capitalized with a clothesline. Back in the ring, Kane hit a clothesline against the turnbuckle followed by a boot to the face. Kane with a sidewalk slam, Kane went up top and missed the clothesline because Batista moved. Batista with a kick to the gut, then Batista botched a Powerbomb lift where he nearly dropped Kane on his head. The referee looked over to Flair, so Kane hit a low blow uppercut that the referee didn’t see and Kane hit a clothesline off the top for no count since the referee was looking at Flair. I don’t know what they planned on doing there. Kane charged right into a spinebuster from Batista for two. Kane got a hold of Batista leading to a Chokeslam. Flair distracted again, so Kane brought Flair into the ring and hit Flair with punches along with a boot to the face. Batista capitalized with a kick to the gut and this time Batista hit a Batista Bomb for the pinfall win at 6:38.

Winner by pinfall: Batista

Analysis: 1/2* This sucked. Batista was really green and seemed lost out there. A lot of Batista’s offense was basic power stuff. As the years went by, Batista got a lot better in terms of selling and doing the little things right in a match. That final minute or two was tough to watch with the botched Powerbomb, then Kane hit a random low blow leading to nothing and then Batista managed to get the win after Flair got in the ring. A cheap win for the heel on the rise in Batista, but the match sucked and the fans didn’t care about it much at all.

Kurt Angle was shown backstage asking Funaki and Shannon Moore where Brock Lesnar’s dressing room was. They pointed down the hall, so Angle left.

John Cena walked out doing a rap with B-Squared aka Bull Buchanan. Cena did a rap about how there was a new era. Cena said you either deal with him or “Bling-Bling Buchanan.” Cena had a line about how you’ll end up like Marcia Brady saying “oh my nose.” A reference to a really old sitcom as one of the ending lines? Strange.

Analysis: The Cena rapper gimmick started shortly before this, so it was just a chance for Cena to get a couple of minutes to do a rap.

A video package aired about Victoria winning the Women’s Title from Trish Stratus at Survivor Series. Victoria did weird things, so people called her crazy and psychotic, which made her mad. Jacqueline got a win over Victoria in a non-title match and Trish got her rematch, so that led to this triple threat match.

Trish Stratus entered first to a pretty good pop. I certainly enjoy seeing my fellow Canadian-Greek Trish. Jacqueline was next. Thanks for that shot of Trish in the ring. Victoria was up last as the Women’s Champion that won the title one month earlier at Survivor Series.

Women’s Championship: Victoria vs. Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline

Pre-match notes: Victoria was a heel while Trish and Jackie were faces. Jackie didn’t get much of a reaction.

Victoria hit a flipping leg drop on Trish early in the match. Jackie with a sweep kick on Victoria for two. Trish punched Jackie and then she was caught by both opponents for a double suplex. Victoria worked over Trish with shoulder tackles and set up Trish on the top rope. Victoria hit a superplex while standing on the middle turnbuckle and Jackie covered for two with Victoria breaking up the pin. Trish got a rollup on Jackie for two. Jackie did a headscissors takedown on Victoria and Trish brought Victoria in from the apron to the ring. Trish and Jackie held Victoria’s legs leading to a slam. Jackie got a two count on Victoria. Trish up top and she got a cross body block on Jackie for two, but then Jackie turned it around for a two count of her own. Jackie with a back elbow on a running Trish. That led to Trish’s turnbuckle headscissors spot on Jackie. Trish delivered some kicks to knock Victoria down and hit a neckbreaker. Victoria with a kick to knock Trish down. Victoria up top, Jackie shoved her off the top to the floor. Trish did a Chick Kick to Jackie’s head for a two count because Trish waited to make the cover to allow Victoria time to break it up. Trish hit a corner clothesline on Jackie. When Trish covered, Victoria hit Trish in the head with the Women’s Title! Trish bumped to the apron and Victoria pinned Jackie to get the pinfall win. It went 4:28.

Winner by pinfall: Victoria

Analysis: *1/2 This was a rushed match with a lot of chaos going on. Some good things, but a bit sloppy too. Going under five minutes in a triple threat means a lot of nearfalls, people going out of the ring to allow the other two to work and so on. Weak finish because Jackie got pinned after a corner clothesline. That’s it? It’s a lame ending. The belt shot at the end really wasn’t cheating by Victoria because in WWE triple threats, it’s established that there are no disqualifications. However, they didn’t push that on commentary at all.

Kurt Angle was shown in the locker room with Brock Lesnar. They were standing by a TV. They spoke about Survivor Series. Angle talked about how Lesnar hit Big Show with an F5, he had Show beat and then Paul Heyman got involved to cost Lesnar the WWE Title. Angle said that if Lesnar is in his corner, he can be there at ringside with the man that screwed Brock out of the WWE Title. Angle said that Lesnar could be 20 feet away from retribution. Lesnar said that he doesn’t know if Kurt was involved in Brock’s suspension being lifted and told Kurt he won’t regret it. Angle put in a tape of Lesnar hit the F5 on Big Show at Survivor Series, which led to Heyman pulling a referee out of the ring when Lesnar had Show pinned. Lesnar was angry when he watched it again.

A video package aired for the WWE Championship match from the Smackdown brand featuring champion Big Show and Kurt Angle. Paul Heyman and Big Show bragged about screwing Lesnar out of the WWE Title at Survivor Series. After that, Brock Lesnar attacked many people, so he got suspended. Kurt Angle won a Fatal 4-Way match on Smackdown to earn a WWE Title match. It was announced that Lesnar’s suspension expired at Armageddon. Lesnar said he couldn’t wait to see the match in person.

Analysis: Lesnar was dealing with a rib injury, so that’s why he was suspended in the storyline. It allowed him time to heal. Lesnar getting screwed out of the title also turned him into a face with Show benefitting form it.

Big Show made his entrance as the WWE Champion with Paul Heyman by his side. Show was wrestling in a tank top and black jeans in this era. Kurt Angle made his entrance to a solid reaction from the crowd. Angle was a heel around this time, but in this match he was definitely the face.

WWE Championship: Big Show (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Kurt Angle

Pre-match notes: Big Show was the heel WWE Champion that won the title one month earlier. Angle was in face mode for this match, but he was a heel during this period.

Angle tried waistlock takedowns with Show overpowering him and Show hitting a shoulder tackle. The fans were chanting “Let’s go Angle” for Kurt. Show lifted Angle over his shoulders and dumped him over the top onto Heyman on the floor. Angle snuck up behind Show to send Show over the top to the floor. Show sent Angle into the top of the barricade followed by a hard chop to the chest. When Show was on the apron, Angle charged and sent Angle over the top to the floor. Show worked over Angle with forearms to the back. Show with a suplex followed by a sidewalk slam. Angle with a jawbreaker, then he ran the ropes, Show caught Angle and Angle hit the Final Cut (an elbow drop into a pin) for two. The fans chanted “USA” for Angle, but it’s not like Show is from another country, so that’s a weird chant. Show with a bearhug, Angle with a headbutt along with some face biting. Angle jumped on Show with a rear chinlock or a sleeper type move, but Show slammed Angle off his back. Angle with a kick to the gut followed by a Tornado DDT off the ropes. That was not a move Angle regularly did in his career, but it was smart against a bigger opponent. Angle with punches followed by a kick to the face. Angle went up top and hit a missile dropkick perfectly for a two count. That’s another move that Angle didn’t do that often. Show sent Angle into the ropes leading to Kurt hitting a moonsault off the ropes with a boot to the head. Show decked Angle with a clothesline. Angle countered a Big Show move and Angle hit the Angle Slam for a two count. (I always liked the name Olympic Slam better, but they changed it to Angle Slam.) Angle went for the Ankle Lock submission, but Show got back up and Angle countered a Chokeslam into a roll through with Angle applying an Ankle Lock. Show kicked Angle with his right foot and kicked Angle into referee Mike Chioda. Heyman tossed a steel chair into the ring. The fans chanted “We Want Brock” for Lesnar. Angle had the chair, Show punched the chair and then Angle hit Show in the head with the chair, so Show powered out of the kickout by tossing Angle on referee Chioda again. Angle with an Ankle Lock on Show, who was tapping out while there was no referee. A-Train ran out there to give Angle a backbreaker across Angle’s shoulders. A-Train bailed to the crowd. Heyman was stunned by it, but Tazz mentioned A-Train was Big Show’s buddy. Show gave Angle a Chokeslam and here comes Lesnar. That led to Lesnar going into the ring, he kicked Show in the gut and Lesnar gave Show the F5. Lesnar ran after Heyman into the backstage area. Angle was down along with Show and the referee. Angle crawled over to Show and Kurt hooked the leg for the pinfall win at 12:36. The fans popped for that result.

Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle

Analysis: **3/4 This ended up pretty good after a slow start to the match. It looked like Show was exhausted by the end of the match as well, so they ended it at the right time. The presence of Lesnar at the finish made sense since Lesnar was screwed out of the title by Show/Heyman anyway, which meant it was a way for Lesnar get revenge. There were a few minutes with a referee down, so that hurts that a match, but if you paid attention not the story, it was needed because Angle asked Lesnar to help him and Lesnar did help him just like Kurt wanted.

Kurt Angle celebrated his victory as the WWE Champion. They replayed what happened. The fans kept cheering for Angle as he celebrated.

Analysis: Even though Angle was cheered in that moment, he was still a heel. His next major title defense was against a babyface Chris Benoit, which is the five star match I alluded to earlier. Getting the title on Angle here was WWE’s way of setting up for the WrestleMania 19 dream match against Brock Lesnar, which would main event that show.

They showed “The World” restaurant that WWE owned in Times Square in New York City. Rob Van Dam was there saying this World Title match was going to be a classic with Rob picking Shawn Michaels to beat Triple H because he enjoys seeing Triple H getting his ass kicked. Rob did his “RVD” thumb pointing to end it.

The video package aired for the main event with Shawn Michaels hitting the Sweet Chin Music at Survivor Series 2002 to become the World Heavyweight Champion. It was Shawn’s second match in over four years. Hunter attacked Shawn after that. When the World Heavyweight Title match was announced, it was announced that it would be a Three Stages of Hell series of matches with three falls with Street Fight, Steel Cage Match and Ladder Match. They used “The End is Near” song for the video package.

Triple H made his entrance as the challenger with Ric Flair by his side. Hunter had his right thigh heavily taped because he had a deep thigh bruise going into the match. Those can be very painful. Shawn Michaels was up next as the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist. Unlike at the Survivor Series match, Shawn had the right Heartbreak Kid tights for this match. Ric Flair tried to go after Michaels, so Earl Hebner ejected him and Flair even took a bump.

Three Stages of Hell Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H

Pre-match notes: Shawn Michaels was the babyface World Heavyweight Champion going into this match while Triple H was the heel challenger. As mentioned, Hunter went into the match with a deep thigh bruise on the right leg.

First Fall: Street Fight

Michaels was the aggressor early on as he hit Hunter with a clothesline over the top to the floor. Michaels with a baseball slide kick to knock Hunter down. Michaels went over the top, but Hunter had a trash can leading to Shawn hitting the trash can on a bump to the floor. Hunter was already limping on his injured right leg as he sent Michaels into the barricade. They were fighting on the apron with Hunter hitting some punches, but then Michaels came back with a boot to the face. Michaels jumped off the middle turnbuckle onto Hunter holding a trash can. Michaels brought out a table from under the ring, set it up by the apron and Hunter punched Michaels to block a suplex through a table. Michaels sent Hunter into the steel steps and back into the ring. Michaels went up top with a trash can, but Hunter got a boot up to kick the trash can into Shawn’s face. Hunter charged, Michaels with a boot to the face and a cross body block with Hunter landing on top for two. Hunter with a clothesline. Hunter was limping around again. Hunter set up a second table beside the first table on the floor. Remember that for later. Michaels suplexed Hunter from the apron back into the ring for two. Hunter with a jumping knee smash to take control. Hunter brought a chair into the ring, Hunter wanted a backbreaker through the opened up chair, but Michaels countered with a backbreaker of his own onto the chair. Michaels with a hard whip into the corner two times in a row. Hunter left the ring, so Michaels drove Hunter’s lower back into the ring apron two times in a row. Michaels with a trash can shot to the lower back. Michaels set up for a superkick with the left leg (not the leg he usually does it with), so Hunter could catch it and wrench the left knee. Hunter drove the left knee into the mat followed by Hunter driving the left knee into the trash can. Hunter rammed the left knee against the ring post along with a chop block to the left knee. Hunter with an elbow drop onto the left knee. Hunter with the Figure Four Leglock like his buddy Ric Flair with Shawn selling it well for about two minutes until Michaels turned it and Hunter released the hold. Hunter with a trash can shot to the head for a two count. They left the ring with Hunter sending Shawn into part of the barricade in the aisle. They were over by the entrance area with Hunter sending Shawn into part of the sheet metal that was part of the entrance. Hunter grabbed a barbed wire 2×4 piece of wood from the backstage area. Hunter stopped himself from hitting Michaels, then realized there was some small fire display by the entrance and Hunter lit the 2×4 piece of wood on fire. When Michaels go up, he kicked Hunter in the ribs and the fire wood was down. Michaels swung the flaming barbed wire at Hunter’s head leading to Hunter taking a bump and the fans chanting “holy shit” for it. That led to Triple H doing a blade job, which was expected since he bled a lot during PPV matches in this era. When they got back into the ring, Michaels did a trash can shot to the head. Michaels set up a chair, but Hunter was ready with a drop toe hold into the chair. Hunter with a DDT leading to both guys being down in the ring selling the physicality of the match. Hunter wanted a Pedigree, but Shawn got out of it with a low blow leading to a forearm to the face and a kip up by Shawn, but then Hunter did a chop block to the left knee. Hunter hit the Pedigree for the pinfall win at 20:34 to win the first fall.

Triple H leads 1-0

The second fall was going to be a Steel Cage Match, so the cage was lowered above the ring. Hunter brought a table into the ring along with some more weapons before the cage was lowered.

Second Fall: Steel Cage Match

The only to win the Steel Cage Match is either by pinfall, leaving through the door or escaping over the top to the floor.

Hunter with a trash can lid to the head followed by Hunter setting up a table against the turnbuckle. Hunter did a catapult into the cage and you can see Shawn cutting his forehead on his way into the cage, so then Shawn came out of that with a bloody head after doing a blade job. When they replayed the cage bump, you can see Shawn blading even more obviously. Hunter with a trash can lid shot to the head along with Hunter grinding Shawn’s face against the cage. Hunter sent Michaels into the cage again. The fans chanted “HBK” for Michaels as Hunter delivered more punches to the head. Hunter with a kick to the chest, Michaels with a whip into the cage and a clothesline. Michaels with a Thesz Press followed by punches. Hunter tried to climb out of the cage, Michaels stopped him while Hunter’s legs were outside the cage. Michaels hopped up to the top of the cage while Ric Flair showed up at ringside even though he was ejected by the referee. Michaels got his leg caught between the top rung of a cage. Flair got another table out from under the ring and stacked two tables onto the tables that were on the floor. Remember that for later…like I wrote earlier in the match. Michaels and Hunter were back into the ring with Hunter getting crotches across the top rope. Michaels hit the patented top rope elbow off the top rope. Flair opened the cage door, he charged at Michaels and Hunter tried to crawl out of the door. Michaels hit Hunter and Flair with chair shots and then Flair was busted open too, so there’s a third blade job. Michaels worked over with whips into the cage along with punches. Hunter went for a Pedigree, but Shawn countered it with a back body drop. Michaels with Sweet Chin Music superkick on Flair and a superkick for Triple H too. Michaels put Hunter on a table in the ring. Michaels went to the top of the cage and hit a Superfly Splash on Hunter through the table. Michaels covered Triple H for the three count. That fall went 9:10.

The match is tied 1-1

It was time for a Ladder Match, so the steel cage was raised. Flair was helped out of the ring by referees with Flair looking like a bloody mess. The referees put the World Heavyweight Title onto the cable that was raised above the ring to begin the Ladder Match portion of the match.

Third Fall: Ladder Match

There were less than ten minutes left in the show with Michaels whipping Hunter into the ladder that was against the ropes. Michaels hit Hunter with a ladder shot to the head. Michaels hit suplex onto the ladder that was in the ring with Hunter’s lower back hitting the ladder. Michaels climbed up a ladder while Hunter was on the mat, Michaels jumped off with a splash attempt and Hunter rolled out of the ring. I think Shawn’s legs might have hit some of Hunter’s body, but they sold it like Shawn didn’t hit him at all. Hunter with a Pedigree that looked bad. I don’t know who messed that up, but it looked awkward. Hunter slowly climbed up the ladder, Michaels grabbed him by the legs and Michaels pulled him down. Michaels with a superkick that sent Hunter from inside the ring to the floor. Michaels did a slow climb up the ladder, he got a hold of the World Title above the ring and then Hunter shoved Shawn off the ladder through the four tables that were on the floor! Michaels went through about three of the tables. Hunter climbed up the ladder slowly while Michaels was out on the floor and Hunter grabbed the World Heavyweight Title to win the championship again. That fall went 5:40. The entire match went 35:25.

Winner By 2 Falls to 1 AND NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Analysis: **1/2 It’s a weird match to rate because it should have been a lot better, but I just didn’t think they had a match that was above average. You could tell Triple H could barely move out there with the deep thigh bruise injury and the fact that they went nearly 40 minutes was far too long. If this was 20 minutes it probably would have been a lot better. The final bump by Michaels was impressive and I applaud him for taking it, but it was also something that felt a bit unnecessary. That one fire spot was cool at the time and then it didn’t even lead to a nearfall or anything like that. Shouldn’t a guy be down more after being hit by barbed wire with fire on it? It just didn’t work that well. I guess the idea was to end it on a big move to make it look like Hunter won in a dominant fashion instead of some fluky win. Another thing worth pointing out is the crowd wasn’t very loud. That hurt the match too.

Triple H celebrated with the World Heavyweight Title while they showed some replays. Hunter’s celebration continued and that was the end of the show.

Analysis: That was Shawn’s last run as a World Champion in WWE. It only lasted one month. There were stories that WWE wanted to put that title or the WWE Title on him again, but Shawn refused since he was only working TVs and not live events. Shawn also took breaks sometimes as he got older. It is probably surprising to some people that his last World Title run was in 2002 considering he kept wrestling until the spring of 2010.

This event had a runtime of 2:48:41 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 5.5

This was just an average show with a couple of very good matches under four stars, but nothing that really stood out that much. I was hoping that the Michaels/Triple H match would be better. It’s just not one of their best efforts whether that’s due to Hunter’s injury or just an off night. I think it was too long of a match, so that hurt. This wasn’t a super hot crowd either.

The Benoit/Guerrero match is great as usual from them. I loved the moment of Booker & Goldust winning the Tag Team Titles because they’re one of my favorite “odd couple” tag teams in WWE history. Angle beating Big Show was a fun moment as well. Obviously, the Dawn Marie/Torrie Wilson was also memorable in its own way because they’re two gorgeous making out, which the crowd loved to see.

It was a newsworthy show because the WWE Champion Big Show lost his title to Kurt Angle while the World Heavyweight Champion Shawn Michaels lost his title to Triple H. Both champions won their titles at Survivor Series, so they were only one month title reigns.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Eddie Guerrero – I don’t list Benoit in the top five stars, but if I did then he’d be on here.
  2. Kurt Angle
  3. Booker T & Goldust
  4. Shawn Michaels
  5. Big Show/Triple H

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero (***3/4 out of 5)

Worst Match: Batista vs. Kane (1/2*)

Most Memorable Moment: The ending of the World Heavyweight Title match with Triple H shoving Shawn Michaels off a ladder and crashing through four stacked tables. Some people might pick Dawn and Torrie in the hotel room as the most memorable part. I wouldn’t argue with that!

That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

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