Reviews

WWE Backlash 2002 Review

wwe backlash 2002 main triple h hulk hogan

The 2002 WWE Backlash event followed WrestleMania with the new WWE Champion Triple H defending the gold against one of the biggest names in WWE history, Hulk Hogan.

This event came at a time when WWE was about to undergo a big change in May 2002 when they would “Get the F Out” by no longer being the World Wrestling Federation and changing their name to World Wrestling Entertainment. There’s a long story there. Blame some pandas and the World Wildlife Fund for it.

The Rock was out of the picture due to filming a movie that would lead to him coming back in a few months after this. Meanwhile, a rookie named Brock Lesnar was making his pay-per-view debut at this show.

The WWF/E Draft took place on March 25th, so the roster was split into two with some talent exclusive to Raw and others exclusive to Smackdown. The story was that Ric Flair owned half of the company, so he was running Raw and Vince McMahon was the other owner that was running Smackdown.

Backlash did very well on pay-per-view with 400,000 buys. That’s the second-best Backlash ever trailing only the 2000 edition of the show, which had a much stronger card and the return of Steve Austin in a non-wrestling role. I think there was definitely some intrigue in seeing Hogan challenging Triple H for the WWE Title on this show.

Here is the synopsis on WWE Network:

“Triple H puts the Undisputed WWE Championship on the line against Hulk Hogan. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and The Undertaker battle to decide who will be the No. 1 Contender to the Undisputed Championship. Rob Van Dam defends the Intercontinental Championship against Eddie Guerrero. Kurt Angle takes on Edge. Brock Lesnar looks to conquer Jeff Hardy.” 14+ (D,L,V)

The DVD looks like this:

WWE Backlash
From Kemper Arena in Kansas City, Missouri
April 21, 2002

The opening video package featured Hulk Hogan and Triple H talking about their match for the Undisputed WWE Championship. It was pretty good because it featured both guys talking about how they were determined to win.

There was an impressive pyro display to start the show and what looked like a mostly sold out crowd in Kansas City. Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” were on commentary at ringside.

Tajiri made his entrance with the lovely Torrie Wilson, who was in a geisha outfit that meant she was covered up instead of showing off her incredible body. Billy Kidman was up next as the WWE Cruiserweight Champion.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Billy Kidman vs. Tajiri (w/Torrie Wilson)

Pre-match notes: Kidman was the babyface Cruiserweight Champion while Tajiri was the heel challenger. Torrie was dating Kidman at this point, they got married in July 2003, separated in 2006 and divorced in 2008. I think most people knew Kidman and Torrie were a couple, but WWE chose not to acknowledge it. Tajiri was a babyface for much of 2001 into 2002. They turned him heel around this time.

They each got armbar takedowns, which led to Tajiri sending Kidman into the middle turnbuckle. Tajiri charged, Kidman with a boot to the face and Tajiri went for a catapult into the turnbuckle, but Kidman hit a dropkick for a two count. Kidman with a headscissors that sent Tajiri out of the ring. Tajiri lifted Kidman up leading to a slam into the barricade. Back in the ring, Tajiri with a body slam and a knee drop. Tajiri delivered a hard kick to the head while Kidman was by the ropes. Kidman with a hurricanrana, but Tajiri came back with a backbreaker. Tajiri set up Kidman upside down in the Tree of Woe position leading to Tajiri’s running dropkick to the face. Tajiri stretched Kidman’s back across the ring post. Tajiri went for a backbreaker submission, Kidman got a knee to the face and Tajiri came back with elbows to the body along with a stomp to the back. Tajiri applied the Tarantula submission against the ropes. Tajiri went for a handspring back elbow off the ropes, but Kidman got a dropkick to the back. Tajiri with a kick to the head. Tajiri with a bridging pin for two. Tajiri ducked a clothesline attempt and hit a standing side kick to the head for two. Kidman countered a Tajiri move into a face first slam into the mat. Kidman did that spot often in his matches. Kidman jumped off the top with the Shooting Star Press, Tajiri moved and Tajiri hit a roundhouse kick to the head for two. The fans chanted “Kidman” for the champion. They battled on the top rope with Kidman hitting a sitout spinebuster off the top for two. Kidman lifted up Tajiri for a Powerbomb, but Tajiri sprayed some DREADED red mist to the face for the pinfall win. It went 9:08.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW Cruiserweight Champion: Tajiri

Analysis: ***1/4 A very good match that was wrestled at a fast pace. Tajiri controlled most of it, Kidman made the comeback and the crowd got into it. The finish was controversial with Tajiri spitting the red mist in Kidman’s eyes. Since Tajiri dominated much of the match and was fresh as a heel, it made sense for Tajiri to get the win.

Post match, Tajiri was interviewed by Michael Cole. Tajiri spoke in Japanese, so the majority of us watching had no idea what he said.

Bradshaw was shown getting ready for his match, Faarooq went up to him and they were happy to see eachother.

Scott Hall made his entrance to the classic New World Order song and he had X-Pac by his side with X-Pac wearing a Kane mask. Bradshaw was up next as the babyface opponent. X-Pac was being annoying, so Faarooq showed up at ringside to watch Bradshaw’s back.

Bradshaw (w/Faarooq) vs. Scott Hall (w/X-Pac)

Pre-match notes: Bradshaw was the face and Hall was the heel.

Bradshaw took control early with punches, then a forearm to the back and a DDT for two. Hall left the ring right where Faarooq was standing, so Faarooq punched him two times and Faarooq knocked X-Pac down. The referee didn’t eject anybody as Hall went into the ring leading to Bradshaw hitting a shoulder tackle. Bradshaw got a suplex for a two count. Hall got some offense going after an eye poke along with some punches to the head along with some choking across the middle rope. X-Pac did a cheap shot to Bradshaw that the referee didn’t see. Hall with a whip into the corner followed by a clothesline. Hall stomped on Bradshaw a bit until Bradshaw came back with a shoulder tackle. Bradshaw worked over Hall with more punches, Bradshaw with a back elbow and a boot to the face. JR used his “bowling shoe ugly” phrase that he liked to use when the match wasn’t that interesting. Hall with a corner whip, Bradshaw avoided it and Bradshaw hit a Clothesline from Hell for a two count because X-Pac put Bradshaw’s foot on the bottom rope and the referee saw it, so it was just a two count. Faarooq chased after X-Pac, then Bradshaw punched X-Pac and Faarooq drove X-Pac into the ring post. The referee was looking at that, so Hall did a low blow uppercut followed by a ROLLUP OF DEATH~! for the pinfall win at 5:43.

Winner by pinfall: Scott Hall

Analysis: *1/4 It was a good idea to keep it short because it was mostly just punching without a lot of interesting moves or moments. When the guys on the floor got involved, it led to Hall’s cheap shot low blow for the rollup on Bradshaw for the win. The fans did react to the Clothesline from Hell spot and the finish.

Vince McMahon, the WWE Chairman, walked into Ric Flair’s office with Arn Anderson standing beside Flair. Vince said that the NWO was impressive. Vince said he thinks he’s beginning to like Ric’s style because now Ric is realizing that no matter what you do for your employees, they are ungrateful people. Vince said that they question everything you do and they’re distrustful of you. Vince said Ric is feeling the heat and now he’s named himself the guest referee in the Austin-Undertaker number one contender’s match. Vince said maybe Ric is a fool or it’s a stroke of brilliance. Ric told Vince that he can’t relate to him with Ric saying that Vince has never known who Ric is and he never will. Ric said he’ll never be like Vince McMahon. Vince: “Maybe not, but you can try.” Vince wanted a handshake. Ric said: “Never.” Vince left.

Analysis: When Ric Flair came back at Survivor Series 2001, he was clearly in the face role. He was also a face earlier in 2002, but at this point, he was starting to have issues with Steve Austin, so that’s why Vince said that Ric was acting like Vince as the owner.

Trish Stratus made her entrance for a match looking great in black. Trish was very popular due to her big…uh…personality. Yeah. That personality. Anyway, Trish beat Molly on Raw on Raw to earn this title shot while holding Molly’s tights because Molly tried to beat Trish by cheating.

Molly Holly made her entrance even though she was not Trish’s opponent. Molly did a promo calling Trish a cheater for beating Molly while grabbing tights. Molly hit Trish with a punch using the microphone. Trish bumped to the floor, so Molly threw Trish into the steel steps. Jazz made her entrance as the champion and tossed Trish into the ring.

Women’s Championship: Jazz vs. Trish Stratus

Pre-match notes: Jazz was the heel while Trish was the face.

Jazz hit a sidewalk slam. Jazz charged, Trish picked her up and sent her throat first into the ropes. Jazz hit a rolling senton. Trish was sent into the ropes, Jazz with a leapfrog and Trish hit a clothesline. Jazz did an eye gouge, Jazz with punches, Trish came back with forearms and a lefty kick to the head for two. Trish worked over Jazz with chops, kicks and forearms. Trish hit a headscissors off the ropes, then two clotheslines and a neckbreaker for two. Jazz with a kick to the body, then she picked up Trish and hit a sitout Powerbomb for a two count. Jazz with a whip into the corner, Trish moved and Trish got a rollup for two. Jazz with another eye gouge and Jazz countered a Stratusfaction attempt into a belly to back slam. Jazz with a leg whip takedown. Jazz applied a Boston Crab submission, Trish was selling the back injury, Trish nearly got to the ropes and Jazz applied the STF submission. Trish tapped out to give Jazz the win at 4:29.

Winner by submission: Jazz

Analysis: ** They worked hard and had a fast-paced match since it was under five minutes. Trish was attacked before the bell, so it put her at a disadvantage before the match and Jazz was able to capitalize to get the win. Trish had the injured back, so it was smart to have that be a part of the finish with Jazz doing the STF for the win.

Jazz was interviewed by Mark Lloyd about Molly Holly’s pre-match attack. Jazz said nothing and left.

A replay was shown from last week on Raw when Paul Heyman taunted Lita, so she slapped him in the face and Heyman told Lita he liked to play rough too. Heyman had Lita’s travel bag with her outfits. Brock Lesnar appeared with Heyman on the stage, Matt Hardy tried to fight Brock and that led to Brock giving Matt an F5 on the stage. Jeff chased Brock away with a steel chair.

Brock Lesnar was shown warming up with Paul Heyman telling Brock that tonight is his first official match. Paul said he wanted Brock to have no regret and no remorse. Paul said that this is all Lita’s fault. Paul said that he wants Brock to show the world that the “Next Big Thing” is Brock Lesnar.

Jeff Hardy made his entrance with his friend Lita, who was dating Matt Hardy at the time. Matt was out due to the injury sustained against Brock Lesnar. Good ovation for Jeff, who was very popular. Brock Lesnar was up next with his agent Paul Heyman for what was Brock’s first official match. The theme music for Lesnar was not the popular Lesnar song that we would become used to.

Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Jeff Hardy (w/Lita)

Pre-match: Lesnar was the heel and Hardy was the face. This was Lesnar’s first televised match.

When Lesnar got in the ring, Jeff punched him right away, but Lesnar overpowered him and sent Jeff out of the ring. Jeff with a dropkick that knocked Lesnar out of the ring, Jeff jumped onto Brock, who caught him and Jeff managed to send Lesnar into the ring post. Back in the ring, Jeff jumped off the top with a cross body block. Lesnar drove Hardy into the turnbuckle followed by Lesnar hitting a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. Lesnar delivered another belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. Lesnar delivered three straight backbreakers. Jeff tried to come back with punches, but Lesnar threw him hard into the turnbuckle. Lesnar sent Jeff into the turnbuckle, which led to Jeff jumping off with a twisting splash onto a standing Lesnar. Jeff with a jawbreaker along with a double leg drop to the ribs or maybe it was a low blow (the referee didn’t see it). Jeff went up top and hit a Swanton Bomb for a two count. Jeff left the ring, he grabbed a steel chair, Lesnar was ready for him and picked up Jeff onto his shoulders. Lesnar hit the F5 off the shoulders. Heyman: “Don’t pin him! Hurt him!” Lesnar picked up Jeff for a double Powerbomb. Lesnar didn’t attempt a cover. Lesnar picked up Jeff for another Powerbomb. Jeff was out of it, so referee Teddy Long called for the bell at 5:32.

Winner by technical knockout: Brock Lesnar

Analysis: *3/4 A dominant win by Lesnar in his first televised match. It was the right way to book Lesnar as a powerful heel who was in full control. I did like that Lesnar was selling a bit when Jeff tried to make comebacks with Jeff even hitting a Swanton Bomb for a two count. I remember Lesnar doing the Double Powerbomb spot a lot in the early going in his career, but then they would settle on the F5 as Lesnar’s devastating finisher.

Lesnar and Heyman left with Heyman telling Lita that this was her fault. Heyman was telling Lesnar he was the “Next Big Thing,” which was the nickname they gave Lesnar in his rookie year.

A video aired for the Smackdown rivalry between Edge and Kurt Angle. Edge beat Kurt Angle in a match, then Angle cost Edge a match against Booker T and the feud continued from there. That led to a memorable backstage skit where Edge talked about how they used to be good friends, then Edge gave Angle some pictures that said stuff like “you suck” and “I have no testicles” on the back. Edge challenged Angle to a match at Backlash, so Kurt said it would be an honor to kick his ass.

Analysis: Angle was an established main event heel while Edge was a face on the rise. They were trying to use Angle to elevate Edge to that next level, which was a good idea because they worked well together.

Kurt Angle made his entrance with the fans chanting “You Suck” on his way to the ring. Edge got a big ovation for his entrance. The fans cheered for him. Edge had the “Never Gonna Stop” song for his entrance.

Edge vs. Kurt Angle

Pre-match notes: Edge was the face while Angle was the heel.

Angle with a shoulder block knockdown. Edge came back with forearms, then a charge right into an elbow by Angle. Edge hit a dropkick along with a flapjack and a running clothesline that sent Angle out of the ring to the floor. When they went back into the ring, Angle stomped on Edge a few times, but Edge came back with a spinning heel kick. Angle hit a perfect German Suplex to take control. Edge with some chops, then a boot to the face, but Angle caught Edge and hit a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring for a two count. Angle hit a suplex for another two count. Angle grabbed a chinlock, Edge fought out of it, but Angle caught him with a German Suplex. Edge elbows to get out of another suplex attempt leading to Edge hitting a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. Edge got some more momentum with a leaping forearm, a back body drop and Edge hit an Edgecution DDT for a two count. Angle with a kick to the gut, but Edge came back with a sitout slam sending Angle into the mat for a two count. Edge went up top, but Angle jumped up there and hit an incredible belly-to-belly superplex for a two count. That was such a great move every time Kurt did it. Angle went for the Ankle Lock, Edge kicked him away and Angle was able to come back with three German Suplexes leading to a two count. Angle wanted the Angle Slam, Edge got out of that and Edge gave Angle a German Suplex with Angle taking a rough bump on his head/neck. Ouch. That was a rough bump. They were both down for a seven count. Angle charged at Edge, who did a back body drop to Angle over the top to the floor. Edge went up top and hit a cross body block onto a standing Angle on the floor. That was not a spot that Edge did that often, but it looked good even though it looked like a rough landing for Edge too.

They went back into the ring with Edge hitting a missile dropkick off the top for a two count. Angle fought out of a DDT attempt by Edge, Angle with a forearm to the ribs and Angle hit the Angle Slam for one…two…and no! Edge kicked out. Great nearfall there. Angle pulled down the straps leading to the Ankle Lock submission, Edge nearly got to the ropes, Angle held onto the hold and Edge got an inside cradle pin attempt for two. Angle was back up with a clothesline. Angle grabbed a steel chair, he swung at it Edge, who moved and the chair bounced off the ropes to hit Edge in the face. Edge hit a sitout neckbreaker for two. Great nearfall there too! The fans thought that was it and they booed that it was only a two count. Angle did a blatant eye gouge. Angle grabbed the chair, Edge kicked him in the face and the referee got the chair out of the ring. Edge went for a Spear, but Angle kicked him in the face and Angle hit another Angle Slam for the pinfall win at 15:25.

Winner by pinfall: Kurt Angle

Analysis: **** It was an excellent match that was common for Angle any time he had a longer match and Edge was always a guy that had great chemistry with Kurt. They had some nice nearfalls in the match with Angle getting an Angle Slam for two, then Edge got a cradle for two and after that, they did the chair to Angle’s head leading to the neckbreaker for two. That was so close. Shortly after that, Angle hit the second Angle Slam for the win. It made Edge look great because nearly won a few times and it took two Angle Slam moves to put him away. I enjoyed that match a lot.

Post match, Angle celebrated the win. The fans chanted “you suck” and Kurt told them that he doesn’t suck. JR made it clear that the feud was not over by saying that they will meet again.

Analysis: They did meet again at the Judgment Day 2002 PPV that followed this in a Hair vs. Hair match where Edge got the win to win the feud. It also led to Edge shaving Angle’s head and Angle has been a bald man ever since that show in May 2002.

Let’s Hear from Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho made his entrance even though the announcers said that he was not signed for a match. JR pointed out that Jericho was a Smackdown talent, so it was up to Mr. McMahon to book him in a match. Jericho was the former Undisputed WWE Champion that lost the title to Triple H at WrestleMania 18 one month earlier. Jericho was in heel mode here.

Jericho did a promo about how one month ago, he was the Undisputed WWE Champion and he was main eventing WrestleMania, but tonight he stands in this ring in this “filthy little town” and he doesn’t even have a match at Backlash. Jericho said that he was not worthy at Backlash, so he was nothing more than a common spectator like each and every one of you jackasses in reference to the fans. Jericho complained about how Billy Kidman, Trish Stratus and even Maven has a match, but the Undisputed WWE Champion isn’t good enough to have a match. Jericho said that insults him, offends him and it hurts his feelings. Jericho said that you “jackasses” don’t care. Jericho talked about how even on this day, the worst day of his career, he is still better than each and every one of you fans. Jericho said he is still better than that “has been” Hulk Hogan. Jericho complained about Hogan getting a title shot instead of Jericho, so the fans cheered for Hogan. Jericho ripped on the “Hulkamaniacs” for believing that the Hulkster can win the WWE Championship again because Hogan is not worthy of being a champion. Jericho said that he is worthy of being a champion and worthy of being in a match. Jericho said that must mean he’s not welcome in Kansas City, so that means he should leave just now. Jericho’s music played and he left.

Analysis: Jericho said he was leaving. Guess what? Heels lie. I have told you that for decades. Fun angry promo by heel Jericho, who was one of the best talkers at this point and his entire career.

The Undertaker walked into Ric Flair’s office with Arn Anderson by Ric’s side. The Undertaker didn’t even say anything and just pointed his finger in Ric’s face as if he was warning Flair about Undertaker’s match later.

Eddie Guerrero made his entrance as the challenger for the Intercontinental Title. Eddie was a heel, but he wasn’t booed that much. Big ovation for the popular IC Champion Rob Van Dam. They were Raw guys.

Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero

Pre-match notes: Rob Van Dam was the babyface Intercontinental Champion and Eddie Guerrero was the heel challenger. They both used the Frog Splash as a finishing move. RVD won the title at WrestleMania.

They were moving quickly right away with Eddie running the ropes and RVD hitting a spin kick to the face. RVD with a monkey flip across the ring followed by a spinning heel kick to the face. Eddie wrenched the leg for a takedown as he worked over RVD with forearms. RVD grabbed a waistlock, Eddie backed him into the ropes and worked over RVD with kicks. RVD with a jumping side kick along with a standing moonsault for two. RVD tried a suplex, Eddie tried to counter and RVD countered that into a pin attempt for two. RVD went up top, Eddie crotched him up there and Van Dam jumped off the top with a neckbreaker across the top rope. RVD jumped off the top with a jumping side kick. RVD did a cartwheel into a moonsault. Eddie grabbed an inside cradle for two. Eddie countered a suplex into a rollup for two. RVD kicked Eddie out of the ring, then RVD jumped off the apron with a moonsault onto a standing Eddie on the floor. RVD set up Eddie across the barricade, RVD to the apron and RVD hit a spinning kick off the apron onto the barricade. That’s a spot that RVD did often. Back in the ring, RVD went for Rolling Thunder, but Eddie got the knees up to block. Eddie with the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker along with a belly-to-back suplex for two. Eddie applied a surfboard submission while bending RVD back into a sleeper, but RVD punched his way out of it. Eddie stretched RVD across his own back, RVD rolled through and got a two count out of it. Eddie was back up with a clothesline. Eddie hit a running leg lariat followed by a senton splash over the top onto RVD for a two count. Eddie hit an impressive hurricanrana after walking the ropes a bit and that got a two count. Eddie with a brainbuster into a belly-to-back suplex for two. Eddie went up top, RVD stopped that with a kick and Eddie came back with a sunset flip Powerbomb for a two count. That was a stiff move and a rough landing for RVD. JR: “That is snug.” It sure was. Eddie set up for a Powerbomb, RVD slipped out of it and hit a spinning heel kick to the face that knocked Eddie out of the ring. Eddie brought the IC Title into the ring, RVD got it for him and RVD hit the referee by accident. Eddie hit a neckbreaker on the title, which wasn’t seen by the referee. Eddie went up top and hit the Frog Splash for the pinfall win at 11:43.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW Intercontinental Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match between two of the best athletes in WWE at the time. Eddie was so great at the little things while RVD made everything look easy, so they always had fun matches together. I thought the finish was very creative with Eddie using the neckbreaker on the title while the referee was down.

Eddie Guerrero celebrated with the IC Title after the match.

Analysis: They had a rematch at Judgment Day as well. They had an even better Ladder Match on Raw too.

The announcers talked about how well The Rock’s movie The Scorpion King doing big numbers for the biggest opening weekend in the history of the month of April.

There was a video package for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s match against The Undertaker with Ric Flair as the referee. The Undertaker wanted Flair to be the number one contender for the WWE Title and then Steve Austin made it known that he should be the number one contender. Flair didn’t like Austin giving him a Stunner earlier. The Undertaker beat RVD in a match and Steve Austin beat Scott Hall in a match, so that led to Undertaker facing Austin to become the number one contender to the WWE Title. After Austin beat Hall, he hit Flair with a Stone Cold Stunner.

Ric Flair made his entrance wearing a referee shirt. Flair was also wearing his red wrestling boots. The Undertaker was up next to the “Rollin’” song by Limp Bizkit as Taker made his entrance on a motorcycle. It was from the “Forceable Entry” CD at the time. I remember buying that. The glass broke and there was a huge ovation for the popular babyface “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who did his customary poses on the turnbuckles.

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin vs. The Undertaker (Ric Flair was the special guest referee)

Pre-match notes: Austin was the face while Undertaker a was a heel. Flair was a face owner, but he was showing some heel tendencies. Undertaker beat Flair at WrestleMania 18 and then Undertaker was the first pick by Raw in the WWE Draft.

The winner of this match would earn a WWE Championship match.

There were loud “WHAT” chants along with a staredown between both men. After headlock tie up, Taker used his size advantage to knock down Austin with a shoulder tackle. After another lockup, Austin tried a shoulder tackle, but Taker didn’t go down. Austin did some push-ups to show he was feeling fine. Taker ran the ropes, Austin decked him with a punch and Austin flashed the middle finger to Undertaker, which drew cheers. Taker off the ropes again with a shoulder tackle, Austin with two arm drag takedowns and a drop toe hold leading to an armbar. Austin with knee drops on the left arm into a two count. Taker with punches, but then Austin came back with chops to the chest and Taker hit a boot to the face followed by a clothesline for two. Flair’s pin counting looked awkward. Taker did the armbar leading to the Old School rope walk and the forearm to the back for a two count. Austin got some offense going with a Thesz Press and some punches for a two count. Austin with a clothesline that sent Taker out of the ring to the floor. They exchanged punches at ringside, back in the ring and Austin hit another clothesline to knock Taker out of the ring. Austin slammed Taker’s head into the hood of the Spanish commentary table a few times and sent Taker back into the ring. When Austin was on the apron, Taker greeted him with a hard boot to the face. There’s a “We’re Wasted” sign in the crowd. I miss college. Taker was battering Austin with punches, Austin blocked a move into the steel steps and Austin beat on Taker with a barrage of punches. Flair wasn’t counting them out f the ring, so they kept on fighting into the crowd with Austin choking and eye-gouging Taker a bit. Austin sent Taker into the hood of the commentary table and into the ring post. Austin teased a piledriver on the floor that was never going to happen, so Taker hit a back body drop on the floor. Taker sent Austin into the motorcycle at ringside. The NWO’s Scott Hall and X-Pac (in a Kane mask) walked down the ramp a bit. Austin fought back with punches, but Taker threw Austin into the steel steps. Taker set up Austin on the ring apron with Taker delivering some knees to the head along with the running leg drop on the apron.

The guys were back in the ring with Taker in control as he kicked the left leg, dropped some elbows and applied a kneebar submission on the left leg. Austin managed to get his hand on the bottom rope, so Flair counted and Taker let go before the five count. Taker with a kick to the leg followed by a clothesline. Taker grabbed a chinlock while the fans turned to look at something in the crowd as Taker held onto the chinlock for over a minute. Austin broke free, he applied a sleeper, but Taker fought back with a belly-to-back suplex for two. Austin came back with punches, he wanted a Stunner, Taker shoved him off and Taker hit a clothesline for two. Austin with punches again, they ran the ropes and Taker hit a leaping clothesline for two. Flair’s counting was so slow. Taker removed the top turnbuckle pad off while Flair was looking at Austin. Austin whipped Taker back first into the exposed turnbuckle, they ran the ropes again and did a double clothesline for a two count. Austin unloaded on Taker with punches and kicks while the fans chanted “what” for every strike delivered. Taker with a back elbow, he went for a lift, Austin got out of it and Austin whipped Taker into the ropes, but Taker ran over Flair. Austin hit a Stone Cold Stunner on Taker for one…two…three…four…five, but no count due to Flair being out on the mat. Taker hit a low blow that Flair didn’t see. Taker hit a Chokeslam, Flair did one of his slow counts for just two as Austin kicked out. Taker brought a steel chair into the ring, Flair took it away, Austin with a low blow punch to the groin that Taker barely sold since Taker hit a boot to the face for two. Austin hit a spinebuster for two. Austin wanted a Stunner, Taker shoved Austin into Flair, who bumped to the mat and Taker got the steel chair, so he hit Austin in the head with it. Austin got his hands up, but the idea is that it hit Austin in the head. Flair did a slow cover for just two. Austin came back with a clothesline for two. Taker backed Austin into the corner, Taker with back elbows, Taker swung the chair, Austin avoided it and Austin stomped on Taker in the corner with the fans chanting “what” for it. Austin grabbed the chair, Taker kicked the chair into Austin’s face with Flair looking right at it. Taker covered Austin, who had his foot on the bottom rope, Flair never saw the foot and Flair counted the pin to give Undertaker the win at 27:03. Taker knocked Austin’s foot off the rope after the three count.

Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker

Analysis: **3/4 It was an average match that wasn’t as good as some of the better matches they had earlier in their careers. This was a long and grueling match that went nearly 30 minutes. I don’t think it needed to be that long. They should have just announced it as a Street Fight with weapons allowed because they were out of the ring for a long time. The ending was cheap since Austin is a guy that rarely lost clean and with a guest referee like Flair, it’s expected that he might miss something at the pinfall. Taker cheated as much as he could to get the win, so I didn’t mind the ending much at all.

Post match, Ric Flair went backstage. Taker trash-talked Austin, Taker flashed a middle finger to the face and Austin came back with punches and a Stone Cold Stunner. Austin did a beer bash celebration.

Ric Flair was shown walking backstage with Jonathan Coachman asking Flair if he saw Austin’s foot on the bottom rope for the pin. Coach walked Flair over a TV that showed the replay. Flair was asked what he thinks after seeing that footage. Flair: “Oh shit.” It was not bleeped.

Analysis: This led to Flair having more issues with Austin.

“You look so good to me.” The familiar song of Billy & Chuck played in the arena. They were the WWE Tag Team Champions. The Tough Enough team of coach Al Snow and TE winner Maven were the opponents.

WWE Tag Team Championships: Billy & Chuck (w/Rico) vs. Al Snow & Maven

Pre-match notes: Billy & Chuck were heel champions while Snow & Maven were faces.

Billy & Chuck tried a cheap attack, but Snow & Maven were ready for them and knocked the champions out of the ring. Chuck got a hold of Maven leading to some cheap shots on the floor. Billy punched Maven a few times, Maven got some punches in return, then he whipped Billy to the apron and knocked Snow off the apron. Maven hit a DDT, Billy pulled Maven back to prevent a tag and Chuck with punches. Maven hit an enziguri kick on Chuck. Snow got the tag with clotheslines, a back body drop to Chuck and punches to Billy. Rico with a distraction, so Chuck hit Snow with a clothesline. Billy hit a neckbreaker for two. Chuck pulled back on Snow’s arms, Snow broke free and Chuck hit an impressive belly-to-belly suplex for two. Billy sent Snow into the turnbuckle, Billy missed a corner splash leading to a silly bump followed by Snow doing a drop toe hold on Chuck onto Billy. Maven tagged in with a dropkick, Billy hit a Fameasser on Maven and Snow made the save. Snow into the ring, Chuck hit him with a superkick. Rico hit a spine kick on Chuck when Maven moved. Snow was into the ring for a spinebuster on Billy. Maven went up top and jumped off with a cross body block on Billy for a two count. Rico went into the ring, Snow chased him out of the ring and Chuck hit a superkick on Maven leading to Billy covering for the pinfall win at 5:58.

Winners by pinfall: Billy & Chuck

Analysis: ** A cheap win for the heel champions thanks to Rico providing a distraction. The fans really didn’t care about the match much, nor did they get behind Snow/Maven much at all. It was fine for a match after a big match and before the main event, but nothing that exciting overall. I’ll give Chuck credit for delivering that superkick that looked impressive.

The video package aired for the Undisputed WWE Championship match with Vince McMahon announcing that Triple H would defend the title against Hulk Hogan. It led to Hogan dressing in the red & yellow attire again. Hogan did a promo talking about how big his WrestleMania 3 match was with Andre the Giant and WrestleMania 18 match with The Rock while adding that the fans brought Hulkamania back. Triple H told Hogan saying he’s not immortal, he’s not an icon, he’s an obstacle that Triple H will run down.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan made his entrance in the red and yellow attire. There was messed up audio since Hogan’s music was “Voodoo Child” by Jimi Hendrix, but WWE doesn’t pay for music rights, so then they have this generic rock song on it.

Triple H made his entrance to a huge ovation. He was the Undisputed WWE Champion, which meant he was wearing a brand-new looking version of the WWE Title. Good ovation for Hunter, who was really popular at this point.

Triple H vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan

Pre-match notes: They were both babyfaces with Triple H as the WWE Championship that won the title at WrestleMania 18, which was five weeks earlier. Hogan was 49 years old while Triple H was 32 years old. Hogan won his first WWE Title 18 years earlier in 1984.

They had a staredown as the bell rang to start the match. They locked up a few times with each man shoving the other man back into the corner. The fans were chanting for Hogan as they locked up again leading to Hogan shoving Hunter into the turnbuckle again. They did a test of strength battle for about two minutes that was straight out of a Hogan match from decades earlier. Hunter applied a wristlock, Hogan powered out of it and Hogan hit a running shoulder tackle to knock Hunter down. They did lockup by the turnbuckle, Hunter broke free and hit a slap to the face so Hunter was a bit heelish since the fans were more behind Hogan in the match. Hunter did a blatant choke in the corner. Hogan came back with a back body drop, two clotheslines and he worked over Hunter with punches along with his own blatant choking. Hogan did the ten-punch combo in the corner with the fans chanting along. Hunter bounced off the ropes with an elbow to the head. JR put over hunter for being more multi-faceted in terms of being an in-ring technician compared to Hogan. In other words, Hunter was better in the ring and that’s true. Anyway, Hogan did a back body drop over the top to the floor. Hogan whipped Hunter into the barricade. Referee Earl Hebner left the ring instead of counting them out. Hogan delivered a suplex on the floor. Way to bust out the move-set, Hulkster. Hogan with an eye rake, Hunter got a hold of Hogan and sent him into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Hunter did a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Hunter teased a Pedigree that was never going to happen, Hogan countered and did a catapult sending Hunter into the turnbuckle. Hunter sold that well leading to Hogan getting a two count. Hogan hit a running clothesline in the corner. Hogan with another clothesline and then Hulk hit a running neckbreaker that was like a Diamond Cutter (later known as an RKO) for a two count. Hunter slipped out of a move from Hogan leading to Hunter doing a chop block to the back of the left knee. Hunter clipped the back of the left knee again. Hunter rammed Hogan’s left knee against the ring apron along with the ring post. Hogan was wearing a big brace on the left knee, so Hunter sent the knee into the ring post again.

Hunter did another chop block to the back of the left leg followed by an elbow drop onto the knee. Hunter continued working on the left knee with elbow drops. Hunter wrenched on the left knee some more. Hunter teased going for a submission move, Hogan kicked him away and Hunter did another chop block. JR pointed out the crowd was booing, but Hunter wasn’t doing anything illegal. Hunter with elbow drops to the left knee leading to Hunter wrenching on the left leg again. When Hunter tried a submission, Hogan kicked him into the turnbuckle and Hunter came back with punches along with a blatant choke. Hunter applied the Figure Four Leglock submission to work over the left knee some more while Hunter got a hold of the ropes for more leverage while referee Earl Hebner didn’t see it because he was looking at Hogan. Hunter grabbed the ropes, Hogan turned it and the pressure was on Hunter (or so they say for that move), who managed to break free. Hunter applied a sleeper hold while taking Hogan down to the mat. That led to the classic dramatic arm raising spots with Hogan’s arm going down one time, two times and then Hogan stopped it from going down a third time with the fans cheering loudly for it. Hogan hit a belly-to-back suplex. Hogan with punches, a bounce off the ropes and a double axhandle to the head. Hogan hit a big boot and a leg drop, but Chris Jericho was there with a steel chair. Jericho pulled Hebner out of the ring and punched Hebner. Hogan tried to grab Jericho, so Jericho hit Hogan with a steel chair to the head. Jericho tried to wake Hebner up, then Hunter went after Jericho with Hunter hitting a facebuster into the knee followed by a clothesline out of the ring. Hunter went back to Hogan with punches, which led to Hogan doing his Hulking Up routine, Hogan did the finger-pointing, the blocked punch, then multiple punches by Hogan, a boot to the face by Hogan and a leg drop attempt, but Hunter moved and Hogan hit the mat. Hunter ducked a clothesline, Hunter with a kick to the gut and Hunter hit a Pedigree. Earl Hebner did a slow count to two, but then Undertaker showed up to punch Hebner with Taker holding a chair. Undertaker hit Triple H in the head with a chair with Hunter using his hand to block it. Hogan fought back against Undertaker with a clothesline over the top to the floor. Hogan went over to Hunter and hit a leg drop with Hebner counting the one…two…and three. It went 22:04. JR: “We have witnessed a rebirth of Hulkamania!”

Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Champion: Hollywood Hulk Hogan

Analysis: **1/4 It was just an average match that was very slow-paced and probably went a few minutes too long. The first half was so boring. It did get better as the match went on, but they really should have gone 12-15 minutes instead of going over 20 minutes. They booked it the right way with Hunter as the aggressor that was almost heelish for some of the match because the fans wanted Hogan to win. A lot of the match was Hogan selling the knee injury, which wasn’t that interesting to watch. When Hogan made his comeback, he stopped selling the left knee injury even though that was the focus of the match. The finish was controversial with Jericho and Undertaker getting involved. It was Undertaker’s chair shot that put down Hunter leading to Hogan’s leg drop for the win.

Post match, Hogan celebrated with the WWE Title while Hunter was bleeding profusely after taking that chair shot. It looked like a blade job on his forehead. Hunter extended his hand for handshake, Hogan thought about it and then shook his hand. The fans cheered. Hunter left.

Analysis: I remember when this show happened and being surprised that they would take the title off Hunter after just five weeks as champion. It was so rare for the guy that won the WWE Title at WrestleMania to lose it a month later. It was because Hogan had a lot of momentum after WrestleMania 18, so WWE felt like they had to capitalize on it by putting the title on Hogan.

Hulk Hogan celebrated with the WWE Title some more while doing his poses and the fans were cheering him. JR: “Hulkamania is alive. Hulkamania has been reborn. Hollywood Hulk Hogan is once again the man.” Hogan was doing his poses. That’s how the show ended.

This event had a runtime of 2:46:53 on WWE Network.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 7

It was a good show with plenty of memorable moments like Hulk Hogan beating Triple H to win the WWE Title. It’s very rare to have the babyface wrestler that won the WWE Title at WrestleMania (that’s Triple H) losing the title five weeks later, but it happened due to all the positive momentum that Hogan had. Hogan’s run wasn’t long either, but it still surprised me in 2002 when they did this title change. That match and the Undertaker/Austin match were the longest matches on the show that also had cheap endings rather than clean finishes. Both matches were just average to me although I did think the finishes were creative at least.

The match of the night was definitely between Kurt Angle and Edge. They did a great job. I liked Eddie Guerrero’s crafty win over Rob Van Dam to get the IC TItle as well, while Tajiri had a strong match with Billy Kidman too. Some of the other matches were kept shorts, so that’s okay.

I think from a historical perspective, Brock Lesnar having his first PPV match was a big deal too. I was surprised to see how much he sold for Jeff Hardy before putting him away, but it was obviously a dominant from Brock. I thought they booked him very well in that first year. Lesnar was the first of the major “rookies” to debut in 2002 with Randy Orton, Batista and John Cena soon to follow.

 

FIVE STARS

1. Kurt Angle

2. Edge

3. Eddie Guerrero

4. Rob Van Dam

5. Hulk Hogan

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. Edge (**** out of 5)

Worst Match: Scott Hall vs. Bradshaw (*1/4)

Most Memorable Moment: Hulk Hogan beating Triple H for the WWE Title.

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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