TJR Retro: WWE Vengeance 2002 Review (Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Angle)

TJR Retro: WWE Vengeance 2002 Review (Rock vs. Undertaker vs. Angle)

This is a show that took place in the year where the WWF changed their name to WWE. They also realized the roster was getting too big after the acquisition of WCW one year earlier, so the first brand split was in place. The original people in charge were Ric Flair on Raw and Vince McMahon on Smackdown, but that was changed by this point. Stephanie McMahon was the babyface General Manager of Smackdown while Eric Bischoff was the heel GM of Raw.

If you look for this show on WWE Network you’ll see this image.

The weird thing about that is that Austin wasn’t even on this card because he walked out on the company in June 2002 due to differences with the creative team. This was the original poster that WWE was going to use, but you would that they would replace it on WWE Network with that Rock/Angle/Undertaker graphic you see below. Anyway, there was no Austin on this show.

Vengeance 2002 did 375,000 buys on pay-per-view, which was a pretty good number at the time. It was one of the higher non-WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and SummerSlam PPVs of 2002 and it actually beat Survivor Series too. I think the main event was very appealing to fans with good reason because it was also The Rock’s return to PPV after a few months away.

Here’s the synopsis on WWE Network:

“The Undertaker defends the WWE Undisputed Championship in a Triple Threat Match against The Rock and Kurt Angle. John Cena makes his pay-per-view debut against Chris Jericho. Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Edge defend the WWE Tag Team Championship against The Un-Americans. Rob Van Dam defends the Intercontinental Championship against Brock Lesnar and more. // (14+) V”

The DVD looks like this:

Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Let’s get to the show.

WWE Vengeance 2002
Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan
July 21, 2002

The opening video package focused on the Undertaker, Rock and Angle main event with some Pulp Fiction quotes using the word “vengeance” in it. Well played.

The pyro went off in the arena along with shots of the vocal crowd in Detroit. The Smackdown announce team of Michael Cole and Tazz welcomed us to the show. They were calling the first half of the show. It would have made more sense for them to call the Smackdown matches only, but that’s something WWE would figure out down the road at these PPV type shows.

Tables Elimination Match: Bubba Ray Dudley and Spike Dudley vs. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit

Pre-match notes: These four guys were on the Raw brand. The Dudleys were the faces while Eddie and Benoit were the heels. This was about two weeks before Eddie and Benoit were moved to Smackdown. Benoit missed one year of action after major neck surgery, so this was Benoit’s first PPV match since June 2001.

Benoit was dominant against Spike with a backbreaker and chops. There were tags in this match even though the goal was to put guys through tables. Benoit tripped up Bubba and Eddie tagged in with punches. Benoit with a clothesline and suplex. Eddie stomped on Bubba’s followed by a dropkick to the knee and the fans chanted “Eddie sucks” as Benoit tagged back in with a body slam. Bubba knocked Eddie off the apron and Benoit hit a German Suplex. Eddie worked over Bubba with some eye-gouging and rope choking. Spike went into the ring to attack, the referee made him go back and the heels double-teamed. There are no disqualifications in a table match, so why do they have to honor the tags? That’s the problem with a match like this. They don’t explain things enough. Benoit whipped Bubba into the turnbuckle to knock the big man down. Bubba did another big bump after going into the turnbuckle. Eddie set up a table on the floor. Spike got back into it with a jump off Bubba’s back and he went over the top with a somersault dive on Eddie on the floor. Benoit whipped Spike into steel steps. Bubba got back into it with punches, but Eddie tripped up Bubba. Eddie brought in a table that Benoit set up in the ring. Spike moved the table as Benoit and Eddie hit a suplex on Bubba into the ring. All four guys were in the ring with the referee not enforcing anything, so why were they tagging earlier? They didn’t need to do that. Benoit and Eddie set up a table against the turnbuckle as they worked over Spike with punches. Bubba saved Spike from going into a table. Bubba with two clotheslines on Benoit while Spike held Eddie’s leg and Bubba hit back body drops on both opponents along with a sidewalk slam from Bubba to Benoit. Bubba slammed Eddie off the top, Bubba with a slam on Benoit and Spike jumped off the top with a double foot stomp on Benoit. Bubba with the elbows to Eddie. Spike went up top and Bubba did the “Whassup” yell as Spike hit the headbutt to the groin. Bubba calling for the tables drew a big pop. Benoit took Spike down with a Crippler Crossface, but Bubba saved Spike with a Samoan Drop on Benoit. Bubba set up Benoit on a table, but Eddie grabbed the foot. Bubba jumped off the middle ropes, Benoit moved and Bubba went through the table, so that was no elimination since nobody put Bubba through the table. Spike with a headscissors on Eddie, Benoit charged, Spike moved and Benoit hit Eddie with a cross body block over the top to the floor. Eddie was on the apron with Spike, who hit some punches and Spike hit the Dudley Dog off the apron through the table on the floor. That table did not break cleanly, so it looked like a rough bump for Eddie there. Benoit was the last man left for his team as he brought a table into the ring. Benoit pressed Spike above his head and tossed him over the top onto a table that was on the floor. Benoit set up a table in the ring, Bubba managed to get the Full Nelson Bomb into a slam through the table for the victory at 15:01.

Bubba Ray Dudley and Spike Dudley

Analysis: ***1/4 This was pretty good as an opener with the faces getting the win to please the fans. The crowd wasn’t into it that much the whole way, but once the table bumps were teased, they cared a lot more. The Dudleys winning made sense since it was their match specialty, plus as I noted earlier the duo of Guerrero/Benoit were moving to Smackdown soon after this.

Eric Bischoff was interviewed by Jonathon Coachman with Eric saying he was there to sign Triple H. That led to Triple H walking in the background, so Eric went up to him saying he was looking forward to signing the deal for Hunter to go to Raw. Hunter was near the Smackdown GM door, so Eric wondered what he was doing. Hunter said that he gave Eric the chance to pitch to him, so now Stephanie gets a chance. Eric was not a big fan of that as Hunter went into the room.

Cruiserweight Championship: Jamie Noble (w/Nidia) vs. Billy Kidman

Pre-match notes: Noble was the heel Cruiserweight Champion while Kidman was the face challenger. They were on the Smackdown brand.

They spent the first minute with each guy getting numerous nearfalls, which led to Noble bailing to the floor. Kidman with a headscissors, then a leg drop to the back of the neck while Noble was on the apron. Kidman over the top, Noble avoided it, Jamie put Nidia in front and then Noble hit a single-arm DDT takedown to drive Kidman to the floor. Noble drove the left shoulder of Kidman into the steel post. Back in the ring, Noble hit a Northern Lights suplex for two. Noble sent Kidman left shoulder first into the ring post again. Kidman with a clothesline, then a hurricanrana and a dropkick to the face. Kidman with a slam off the shoulders into the knee of Kidman for a two count. Noble came back with a jumping single arm takedown into the mat leading to an armbar with Kidman getting to the bottom rope. Kidman countered the Powerbomb attempt into a face-first slam into a mat, which was a great spot that Billy did all the time. Kidman with an enziguri kick. Kidman went up top, but Noble stopped him with punches and Kidman hit a spinebuster off the top for a two count.  Kidman went for the Shooting Star Press off the top, Noble moved and Noble got an Oklahoma roll for a two count. Nice nearfall there. They exchanged some strikes, Noble hit a Tiger Bomb and got the pinfall win at 7:35.

Winner by pinfall: Jamie Noble

Analysis: **3/4 It was fine for the time given and got pretty good by the end, but it was a short match. I liked a lot of the moves that Kidman did leading towards the finish. The story was that Kidman missed the Shooting Star Press, Noble capitalized and that was it. Noble was a unique heel that was a decent champion while Kidman was always capable of good matches. This match just didn’t excite me that much.

Kurt Angle was interviewed backstage by Mark Loyd with Angle showing confidence that he would win the WWE Title. Paul Heyman showed up with Brock Lesnar, who had a WWE Title shot at SummerSlam after winning King of the Ring. Heyman introduced Angle to Lesnar, they shook hands and Angle said he would love to face Lesnar at SummerSlam. Angle said that this isn’t the Summer of Brock, it’s All Year Angle. Lesnar: “Good luck tonight, Kurt.” Lesnar left. Angle: “Boy, he’s full of himself. I hate pompous people.” That was funny.

Analysis: It was the WrestleMania 19 main event tease about eight months early.

The European Title was up next. A clip was shown of William Regal crying on Raw two weeks earlier when he lost the European Title to Jeff Hardy. Let’s all laugh at the grown man crying. Now that’s comedy.

European Championship: Jeff Hardy vs. William Regal

Pre-match notes: Jeff Hardy was the babyface champion while Regal was the heel. I don’t remember Hardy as the European Champion, but there he is with the title. They were on Raw.

Regal with a hard slap to the face followed by a shoulder tackle. Regal with a knee drop to the back of the head, then Jeff charged into a boot and Jeff got some offense going with a jumping forearm. Hardy with a jawbreaker for two. Hardy with a slingshot that sent Regal out of the ring, then Hardy hit a headscissors on the floor. Hardy ran the barricade, he jumped off, Regal moved and Hardy hit the floor hard. Hardy with a twisting attack off the top rope for a two count. Hardy with a spin kick to the chest and a double leg drop to the ribs. Hardy went up top, he jumped off with a Swanton Bomb, but Regal got the knees up to block. Regal with a Half Nelson suplex for a two count and a backbreaker. Regal with a hard kick to the back. Hardy with an arm wringer and the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! got the pinfall win at 4:17.

Winner by pinfall: Jeff Hardy

Analysis: ** It was okay for a shorter match. I’m not sure why it was as short as it was, but they were able to tell a decent story for the time given. The finish was done in a sudden way to show that Jeff found a way to get the job done and retained his title.

Post match, Regal was furious about the loss and he was crying again.

Ric Flair was shown backstage congratulating Jeff Hardy on the win and said he’s on his way. Hulk Hogan also went up to Jeff saying congratulations to him as Jeff left. Hogan said maybe he should go up to the top rope to do the Hogan Swanton Bomb. Flair laughed about it. Hogan wondered what Vince McMahon was thinking about Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon as the GMs of the shows. Flair said he was worried about the young guys like Jeff Hardy and Edge. Hogan said this could be the best or worst thing. Flair said that Stephanie better watch it because Eric Bischoff could run the company or run it out of business. Hogan: “Tell me about it.” That’s a shot at WCW there.

Chris Jericho vs. John Cena

Pre-match notes: Jericho was in heel mode while Cena was a rookie babyface that shouted “Ruthless Aggression” in Kurt Angle’s face on Smackdown on his debut. This was right before Jericho was moved to Raw. Earlier that week on Smackdown, Jericho got intentionally disqualified and beat up Cena with chairs. This was Cena’s PPV debut.

Jericho tried attacking with a chair, Cena got a hold of it and hit Jericho in the back with the chair. They went into the ring to start the match with Cena hitting a clothesline while Jericho bailed to the floor. Back in the ring, Cena with a hiptoss and then a spinebuster got a two count. Jericho took over after a stun gun that sent Cena throat first into the top rope along with a belly to back suplex. Jericho with a running splash on Cena against the ropes. Jericho tried to take the turnbuckle pad off, the ref caught it, Cena got a rollup on two and then Jericho hit a spin kick to the face. Jericho with a front Russian legsweep called the Breakdown that sent Cena into the mat. Jericho went up top, Cena met him there and hit a superplex for a two count. Cena with a tilt-a-whirl slam for a two count. Cena charged, but Jericho hit a missile dropkick off the middle ropes. The crowd was quiet, but they did pop for that spot. Cena caught Jericho with a catapult, Jericho jumped off the ropes and Cena hit a side belly to belly slam for a two count. Cena missed a dropkick, Jericho missed a Lionsault attempt and Jericho got a two count to block a rollup. Jericho hit a headlock into a neckbreaker for two. Jericho with a running bulldog, then a Lionsault again and this time it connected. Jericho didn’t attempt a cover. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho, but Cena countered into a pinning predicament with Cena on top for the pinfall win at 6:14. The ending drew a mild pop from the crowd.

Winner by pinfall: John Cena

Analysis: *1/2 A big win for Cena in his PPV debut match. The crowd was dead for most of it even though Jericho was a great heel. They just didn’t care about Cena that much at his point although at least the finish drew a decent reaction. Some of the moves Cena did here like the spinebuster and belly to belly slam were not part of his arsenal in future years. As noted, Jericho was headed to Raw, so it was a way to put over Cena as Jericho was leaving Smackdown. Cena’s babyface persona at this point was pretty boring. The rapper gimmick was about three months away.

John Cena vs. Chris Jericho: Vengeance 2002

Post match, Jericho was angry about the loss and hit a steel chair against the ring post while knocking over the steel steps.

Eric Bischoff and Jonathon Coachman were standing outside the Smackdown General Manager’s room. Stephanie McMahon’s attorney showed up, Bischoff told him to take a walk and the attorney said he had documents. Eric asked if it was a contract to which the lawyer replied that he can’t discuss it.

The Raw announce team of Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler made their entrance to take over commentary for the rest of the show. This was about one hour into the show with nearly two hours left, so it was not “half” the show for the Smackdown guys.

A video aired about Brock Lesnar, who was a rookie phenom that won King of the Ring one month earlier. The final King of the Ring match was Lesnar against Rob Van Dam, who was also the Intercontinental Champion, so that’s the match they are doing here.

Intercontinental Championship: Rob Van Dam vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)

Pre-match notes: RVD was the babyface Intercontinental Champion while Lesnar was the heel. Lesnar’s win at King of the Ring meant that he was getting a WWE Title match at SummerSlam as well.

RVD with punches and then Lesnar did a fireman’s carry takeover to show off his power. RVD used his speed to send Lesnar into the middle turnbuckle followed by a spinning heel kick that led to Lesnar bumping to the floor. RVD kicked away at the legs of Lesnar including a dropkick to the knee and a dropkick to the face. Lesnar lifted RVD and tossed him across the ring. Lesnar was sent out of the ring, RVD jumped on him, Lesnar caught him and Lesnar was nearly sent into the post. Lesnar caught RVD on the floor and hit a powerslam on the floor. Lesnar took over in the ring with a backbreaker. Lesnar with another backbreaker as Heyman looked on with a smile on his face with Lesnar hitting a belly to belly suplex across the ring. RVD with a spin kick, but then when he tried a move against the turnbuckle, Lesnar tossed RVD over the top to the floor. Lesnar whipped Van Dam into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Lesnar grabbed RVD in a bearhug to slow things down. Lesnar drove RVD back first into the turnbuckle leading to an abdominal stretch with Lesnar also punching RVD in the ribs. RVD jumped off the ropes with a jumping back kick along with a low dropkick leading to a leg drop by RVD on the apron. RVD jumped off the top with a kick to face followed by the Rolling Thunder splash for two. RVD with a superkick. RVD went up top, Lesnar went after him and Lesnar went for the F5, but RVD countered into a spinning DDT. That was a great counter that drew a big pop from the crowd. RVD went up top and hit a Frog Splash more than halfway across the ring. RVD covered for two and Heyman pulled referee Charles Robinson out of the ring for the DQ at 9:39.

Winner by disqualification: Rob Van Dam

Analysis: *** This was pretty good even with the DQ finish. They were in a tough spot because Lesnar should have won the match in dominant fashion, but WWE didn’t want Lesnar winning the IC Title. This should have been made a non-title match or they should have had the IC Title on somebody else. Anyway, I liked the story of the match with Lesnar using his power and Van Dam showed a lot of heart as the babyface coming back. The finish was disappointing because it was a DQ ending, but that’s because they didn’t want to do the title change and they wanted to avoid Lesnar being pinned.

Post match, Heyman shoved Robinson, so Robinson shoved back and RVD dropkicked Heyman. Robinson beat on Heyman with weak looking punches. Good job Charles! Lesnar knocked RVD down from behind and threw Robinson down. RVD followed that by going up top and hitting a dive onto Lesnar on the floor. The crowd was hot for this with “RVD” chants. RVD with a kick to knock Lesnar down. RVD teased a top rope leap with a steel chair, but Heyman grabbed the foot of RVD and Lesnar suplexed RVD off the top. Lesnar picked up RVD and hit the F5 onto the steel chair. Lesnar stood tall with Heyman to end it.

Analysis: Lesnar was getting the WWE Title shot at SummerSlam, so it was important to make him look strong and that’s what they did. I think Lesnar beating Lesnar in the match would have been a better thing for Brock. This was still effective in terms of making Lesnar look dominant. I just think if they booked this where Lesnar won a match and was still undefeated, it would have been better for Brock. In the end, it didn’t matter that much since Lesnar left with the WWE Title in his hands.

Stephanie McMahon walked out of the Smackdown GM office to stare at Eric Bischoff, who thought that things didn’t go so well for Stephanie. After Eric was done talking, Stephanie said: “He signed.” Hunter left the room, Eric yelled at him and Eric said that they should still be negotiating. Hunter said those papers he signed were his divorce papers – it was his personal life. Hunter said he hadn’t made up his mind as far as his business life goes.

Analysis: To summarize the Hunter/Stephanie relationship story, they got married on-screen in late 1999 after Hunter drugged her. Then Stephanie turned on Vince to accept the marriage to Hunter. In early 2002, Stephanie was in heel mode, Hunter was a face and they did the breakup story, so this was the ending of that. At this point, Stephanie was a face GM of Smackdown, but they said there was a divorce. In real life, Hunter and Stephanie started dating at some point in late 2000-early 2001 while Hunter was on again/off again with Chyna. Hunter and Stephanie legitimately got married in October 2003. While the fans knew all about Hunter and Stephanie really being married, WWE didn’t acknowledge it in storylines until around early 2009 or so. It’s 2020 as I write this now, Hunter and Stephanie have three daughters together and it wouldn’t shock me if one or all three of them are in WWE at some point.

No Disqualification, No Countout Match: Big Show vs. Booker T

Pre-match notes: Big Show was the heel while Booker was the face. They were Raw guys.

Booker tried a leaping kick, but Show caught him and slammed him down. Show was dominant with forearms to the back, then Booker came back with an enziguri kick and a clothesline that Booker sold by doing a flip bump. Show hit a clothesline over the top to the floor. Booker tried a Steel Chair shot, but Show punched the chair to block it. Show sent Booker into the ring post followed by a clothesline. Show charged, Booker moved and Show hit the ring post. Booker sent Show into the ring post repeatedly. Booker choked Show with a cable at ringside. Booker cleared off the Spanish announce table and hit Show in the head with a TV monitor. Booker went on the English announce table, jumped off and hit a Scissors Kick that drove Big Show through the Spanish announce table. That drew a mild “holy shit” chant. Show went back into the ring, Booker kicked him a few times, then a back elbow and a low blow kick to the groin. Booker hit another Scissors Kick on Show. Booker went up top and hit the Harlem Hangover flipping leg drop for the pinfall win at 5:50. JR called it the Houston Hangover, but I will always call it the Harlem Hangover.

Winner by pinfall: Booker T

Analysis: *3/4 It was okay as a match to put over Booker T as the babyface that kept on fighting back against the bigger heel. Booker showed a lot of heart in putting up a fight here. I really liked the Scissors Kick through the Spanish Announce Table spot. The leg drop off the top by Booker was very impressive as well.

Booker celebrated with a Spinarooni while the announcers put it over as one of the biggest wins in Booker’s career. I agree with that assessment.

Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie were on the stage at The World in Times Square in New York City, which is the building that used to be called WWF New York. Torrie said that the last time she was there was when she won the Golden Thong Award. Torrie picked The Rock to win the WWE Title and Dawn picked The Undertaker. Dawn said that she should have won the Golden Thong Award, not Torrie. They argued and that was the end of that.

Analysis: Please put that Golden Thong Award competition on WWE Network. I remember it well. I’m sure it’s on Youtube or Dailymotion if you want to see it. It was such an…uh…intense competition.

Triple H Chooses What Brand He Will Join

Triple H made his entrance in a t-shirt and jeans. The story was that when the WWE Draft took place, he was the WWE Champion, so he was on both brands as the champion. Now that Triple H wasn’t the champion (he lost the WWE Title to Hulk Hogan several months earlier – Hogan lost to Undertaker), they said Hunter was a free agent that could choose. Hunter was a face at this point.

Eric Bischoff showed up saying that the advantage Bischoff had over Hunter’s now ex-wife is that he never had to worry about his persona life because it will be all business. Bischoff said he’s a businessman that has been out in Hollywood and they are all talking about The Rock, so they are looking for the next breakout WWE Superstar. Bischoff claimed that the agents in Hollywood are talking about Hunter. Bischoff said if Hunter signs with Raw, he gives him his word is he’ll get franchise screenplay opportunities and even a sneaker deal. Heels lie, my friends.

Stephanie McMahon walked out in a white business suit with a pink shirt. She looked very boss-like here as she joined the guys in the ring and as I noted, she was a face. Lawler said that Smackdown had the best looking boss, JR agreed and I agree too.

Stephanie told Bischoff to shut up. Stephanie said that the personal history means that she knows Triple H better than anybody else and she has the utmost faith in his abilities. Stephanie said that together they were unstoppable, they can be again and this time it will be strictly business. Stephanie said that signing the divorce papers was hard, so Eric told her to stop.

Bischoff said he didn’t have to know Hunter personally because he knows Hunter has talent. Stephanie noted that when Hunter first broke into the business, Eric told Hunter he had no charisma, no talent and he wasn’t worth a damn. Hunter stared at Bischoff saying he remembered that. Eric said Hunter should forget that while noting that he has a lot more experience than Ms. McMahon. Stephanie reminded him that this business is in her blood and she’ll stop at nothing to make Smackdown the best.

Hunter said that he didn’t ask to be in this position. Hunter said that Vince McMahon told him that everybody was free to negotiate. Hunter noted that some people consider Eric “an arrogant prick” and the woman that most people consider “a cold-hearted bitch.” Ouch. Hunter said he could look Eric dead in the eye and say “screw you” and Eric wouldn’t like it very much. Hunter said “screw you” to Stephanie, then he joked that “quite frankly I know she likes it.” Well played. That drew cheers and laughs from the crowd. Hunter said he thinks he’s made his decision…he stared at Stephanie first, then he stared at Bischoff and pulled away from a handshake. Hunter said he would prefer to go with the devil he knows (Stephanie) instead of the devil he doesn’t know (Eric), so this week on Smackdown…and here comes Shawn Michaels.

Shawn Michaels made his entrance to a big pop as a part of the Raw roster with JR noting that the New World Order that Michaels was a part of had disintegrated. Michaels joined the party in the ring.

Michaels noted that in the past, he said he was going to bring Triple H home to Raw to be a part of the NWO. Michaels noted that Big Kev was hurt (Nash, who has a torn quad) and Vince basically decided that the NWO no longer exists. Michaels said that Hunter had quite the dilemma on his hands. Michaels wanted Hunter to consider two things in making his decision – there were some “DX” chants for them. Michaels wanted Hunter to consider 1) friendship and 2) fun. Shawn said there’s nobody in the world that is a better friend to him than yours truly, Shawn Michaels. Shawn said that there is nobody in this world that he has more fun with and Hunter nodded in agreement to that. Shawn suggested they could be back on Raw together again making Bischoff’s life a living hell. Shawn told Hunter to be part of the show that they pioneered, put on the map and made famous – Raw. Hunter went over to Stephanie, said “Sorry Steph” and hugged Shawn to confirm that Hunter was going to Raw. Hunter celebrated with Shawn as they posed on the stage.

Analysis: A long promo segment on a pay-per-view is not what I prefer, but I do understand it in this instance. With that said, I would have rather seen a match or two matches in this spot. I’m sure that it was a big selling point to some fans that bought this show because Hunter was a top guy. I just think long promo segments are better off on TV. In this case, it was done on a “neutral site” so that Hunter would have to make choice between Raw or Smackdown. Hunter being on Raw was always expected because it was still the “A” show and it made sense for Hunter to be on that show. Things wouldn’t go smoothly for Hunter and Shawn on Raw, of course, because Hunter turned heel leading to Shawn’s in-ring at SummerSlam, which is one of my favorite matches ever.

Bischoff was smiling at Stephanie in the ring. Bischoff: “Looks like, I win and you lose.” Bischoff laughed about it. Bischoff said that the one big difference between them is that he has testicles and she doesn’t. Stephanie responded with a hard slap to the face and she left.

Stephanie McMahon and Eric Bischoff vie for the contract of

Analysis: Good slap. Well deserved. I liked the early days of the Raw/Smackdown split because it felt like a genuine rivalry.

Rikishi was interviewed in the locker room by Mark Loyd. Rikishi said that Triple H had to do what he had to do and he hopes he’s happy with his decision.

Booker T and Goldust were interviewed in the locker room by Terri. Booker said if Triple H wants to come to Raw and Booker said he would be ready for him if he got in his face. Goldust said that Triple H wants to play the game, but they are the ones with the bigger joysticks. Booker did his “sucka” line to end it to a big pop.

A video package aired to set up the WWE Tag Team Title match. Hulk Hogan and Edge won the titles on the July 4, 2002 edition of Smackdown when they beat Billy & Chuck. It was Hogan’s first time as a Tag Team Champion in WWE. The Un-Americans Christian and Lance Storm with Test were doing anti-America promos, which led to this title match.

The Un-Americans team of Lance Storm and Christian entered for a pre-match promo to get some heat. Storm said that they will end the Tag Team Title reign of Edge and Hogan. Storm said that Hogan has a lot in common with America since he was past his prime while living on past glory. Christian said that the sweet smell of freedom is across the Detroit river and they can get out of this country.

Analysis: It’s very true that Canada is close to Detroit. I’ve made that trip many times since I’m only two hours from Detroit. There isn’t a sweet smell in Detroit or Windsor, Ontario due to the factories in both cities. Just saying.

Edge made his entrance to his “Scream If You Want It” song. Hulk Hogan was the opponent and they had to overdub the actual theme song with a different version. Anyway, Hogan got a pretty big pop.

WWE Tag Team Championships: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and Edge vs. Un-Americans (Christian and Lance Storm)

Pre-match notes: Hogan and Edge were the babyface champions while Christian and Storm were the heel challengers. Christian and Edge were fictional brothers in WWE at this point. Hogan was the old guy in the match at 48 years of age.

Hogan shoved Christian, who took a ridiculous bump from in the ring to the floor as JR mentioned the Edge-Christian brother thing. Storm and Christian did a double suplex on Hogan, who no sold it and hit a double clothesline along with the classic double noggin knocker spot. Hogan with a clothesline on Storm. Hogan worked over Storm with punches, then a running clothesline and Edge tagged in with a boot to the face. Edge hit a flatliner, then a jumping forearm and Christian got in a cheap shot to knock Edge down. Storm with a jumping side kick on Edge as the heels took over. Christian with a backbreaker on Edge followed by a chinlock leading to “Hogan” chants from the crowd. Christian missed an elbow drop off the middle rope when Edge moved out of the way. Edge with an enziguri kick on Christian he slammed Storm onto Christian. Hogan got the hot tag with the punches to the heels, but Christian avoided a big boot and hit a reverse DDT. Hogan powered out of a nearfall, did the Hulking Up routine with punches on Christian, a punch for Storm and Hogan hit the boot to the face followed by the Leg Drop for two as Storm broke up the pin. Christian with a thumb to the eye of Hogan, then Hogan was sent to the floor and Storm hit a superkick on Hogan. The heels double-teamed Hogan for a bit, then Hogan knocked down Christian and Hulk did a double clothesline with Storm. Edge tagged in with a back body drop on both opponents. Edge hit running shoulder tackles on both opponents and a sitout neckbreaker by Edge got a two count on Storm. Hogan beat up Christian with punches. Edge charged, Storm with a leapfrog and Edge hit a Spear on the referee. Edge hit the Edgecution lifting DDT for a two count. Test showed up and whipped Hogan into the ring post. Test into the ring and hit a big boot to the face of Edge. The referee Brian Hebner woke up for a slow count that was just for two. Rikishi ran out there to attack Test with punches and they went to the back. Edge hit a Spear on Storm, Edge focused on Christian on the apron, then Chris Jericho showed up with the Tag Team Title and Jericho hit Edge in the face with the title. Storm covered Edge for the pinfall win at 9:49.

Winners by pinfall AND NEW WWE Tag Team Champions: Un-Americans (Christian and Lance Storm)

Analysis: **3/4 It was a standard WWE tag team match where they did the right thing by making Edge the face in peril leading to the Hogan hot tag for a big pop and then Hogan was the face in peril as well. There were some nice nearfalls including after the referee bump and Test showing up as well. Jericho was not a part of the Un-Americans even though he was best friends with Storm and a future tag team partner of Christian. Looking back on this now, I think WWE should have given Hogan and Edge a longer reign just because fans were digging the tag team act, so they could have at least held the title for a few months instead of just a few weeks.

Post match, Jericho left through the crowd while Storm and Christian left with the WWE Tag Team Titles.

Kurt Angle was shown walking backstage with Eric Bischoff saying it was so great to meet him on Thursday night. Bischoff said he wanted Angle on Raw. Angle said he was flattered, but he has an Undisputed Title to win right now.

Stephanie McMahon was shown watching on a TV with Mark Loyd showing up for an interview. Stephanie said she wasn’t happy about Triple H going to Raw and Bischoff may have won the battle, but she’ll win the war. Stephanie claimed she is in direct contact with every superstar on Raw and right under Bischoff’s nose, she’ll rip the heart out of Raw.

Analysis: It was a nice tease for more moves down the road. That was the big selling point for fans in this era. You had to tune in to Raw and Smackdown to see how might show up on what show. The next night on Raw is when Stephanie got Brock Lesnar to go to Smackdown, so that was a huge move.

There was a video package to set up The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle with Rock nearly costing Undertaker the WWE Title at King of the Ring. Undertaker retained after a low blow to Triple H and a rollup that some may say is deadly. On Smackdown, Undertaker defended the WWE Title against Kurt Angle in a match that ended in a pinfall/submission at the same time, so that was a draw. It led to Vince McMahon announcing Undertaker vs. Rock vs. Angle at Vengeance for the Undisputed WWE Championship.

The Rock made his entrance to a big pop. This was during a point in Rock’s career where he was not full-time anymore since his acting career was taking off. It was also after Steve Austin walked out, so Rock was brought back to make the fans happy. Kurt Angle was next to some boos although some cheers as well. The Undertaker was last on his motorcycle as the WWE Champion. The fans chanted “Rocky” before the match.

Undisputed WWE Championship: The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Rock

Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the heel WWE Champion although he was getting cheered a bit more at this point. The Rock was a babyface and Angle was a heel that was also a bit of a tweener because fans knew he was the best in the business at this point.

The first fall wins the match. There are no disqualifications or countouts in WWE triple threat matches although at this point in time, they didn’t mention that.

Rock and Undertaker stared at eachother, Angle wanted some attention, so they both punched him and that drew cheers. I remember that spot well. Taker knocked down Angle leading to Rock hitting a clothesline on Angle over the top to the floor. Rock with punches, but Taker came back with a leaping clothesline. Rock sent Taker over the top to the floor with a clothesline. Angle whipped Taker into the steel steps. Angle hit a perfect German Suplex on Rock followed by some hard chops to the chest. Rock with chops, but then Angle hit a belly to belly suplex across the ring two times as fans chanted “Angle sucks” at Kurt. Rock came back with a kick to the gut followed by a DDT for two. Angle whipped Rock into the barricade and Taker got back into it with a clothesline on Angle on the floor. They went back into the ring with Taker working over Rock with punches, Rock came back with punches of his own and Taker hit a sidewalk slam for two. Taker punched Angle off the apron and Rock hit a Chokeslam on Taker, which is not a move that Rock did, but it worked for a two count with Angle breaking it up. Rock knocked down Angle, then Rock with an Ankle Lock and Angle hit a Rock Bottom on Rock with Taker hitting a leg drop on Kurt to break it up. Angle went for the Angle Slam, Taker kicked out of it, Taker kicked Angle and Taker hit the Angle Slam (or Olympic Slam) for a two count as Rock broke up the pin. Taker with a back elbow, Rock kipped up and hit a clothesline. Rock sent Angle over the top to the floor. Rock hit a spinebuster on Taker and then Rock hit the People’s Elbow to a huge pop. Angle pulled Rock out of the ring, sent him into the announce table and Angle went back in the ring to pin Taker for a two count. Taker sent Angle into the corner and hit him with headbutts. Taker with a running clothesline on Angle. Taker was whipped into the turnbuckle, Angle charged and Angle went left shoulder first into the ring post. Angle whipped Angle face first into the ring post. Rock got back into it by spitting some water in Taker’s face and some punches. Taker sent Rock face first onto the top of the English announce table. Angle came up bleeding after going into the ring post. It was not a big blade job by Angle, but Kurt was speeding on the forehead. Taker hit a running leg drop on Angle on the apron.

Undertaker and Angle were in the ring with Taker hitting a headbutt on Kurt’s bloody head. Taker did the Old School rope walk leading to the punch to the face while Rock was back in to break up the two count. Rock with punches on Taker, who bounced off the ropes and hit a leaping DDT for a two count. Good nearfall there as well as an awesome selling job by Rock. Angle had a steel chair at ringside, Taker choked Rock and then Angle went into the ring, so Rock and Taker were punching Kurt repeatedly. The referee was looking at Angle, so Rock kicked Taker in the groin and JR pointed that referee Earl Hebner never saw it. Years later, WWE would make triple threat matches no disqualification, so something like that would be fine. Anyway, Hebner was knocked down briefly as Angle hit Taker in the head with a chair to the face. Angle hit the Angle Slam on Rock, but he was too hurt to cover right away. JR was screaming about how it was all over as Angle crawled over to Taker and covered for one…two…no because Taker got the left shoulder up. Angle covered Rock for a two count. Rock with a leg whip on Angle leading to the Sharpshooter submission by Rock on Angle. Taker broke that up with a boot to the face of Rock. Taker grabbed Rock and hit the Last Ride Powerbomb on Rock for a two count as Angle made the save with the Ankle Lock on Taker. The crowd was GOING CRAZY screaming about this with JR joining them in the screaming because he was so excited. Taker rolled through to get out of it, Taker kicked Angle in the gut when Taker lifted Angle, Kurt managed to apply a triangle choke submission. Taker tried to fight out of it, then Taker lifted him and slammed him down. Angle was able to slap on the triangle choke using his legs to choke out Taker on the head/right arm. Rock broke it up before Taker’s arm dropped three times. Angle countered a Rock Bottom attempt by Rock with Angle slapping on the Ankle Lock on the left ankle of Rock. Rock countered it into a pin attempt where he sat up on Angle for a two count. Taker with a Chokeslam on Angle and Rock hit a Rock Bottom on Taker for a two count. The crowd was going crazy, the announcers were screaming and all three guys were down. Angle rollup on Rock got two. Taker with a boot to the face of Rock and Angle hit the Angle Slam on Taker. Angle pulled down the straps because he was fired up. Rock back up, he hit the Rock Bottom on Angle for the one…two…Taker turns around, he lunges…and three! Rock wins as Taker hits Rock half a second after the referee’s hand hit the mat for the third time. There’s a new WWE Undisputed Champion at 19:47. The crowd went wild for it. HUGE ovation for that.

Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Undisputed Champion: The Rock

Analysis: ****1/2 This match is amazing especially with how exciting the last few minutes were. It’s all action. They went 20 minutes at a fast pace with no rest holds or taking breaks. There were times in the match where it was just two guys in the work and the third guy on the floor, but that’s okay. The formula worked well here. There were so many fun moments starting with Rock doing the Chokeslam on Taker and then more moves where they stole signature moves from the other guy. The last five minutes are as good as any WWE match I think I’ve ever seen. It’s just incredible to see all of the moments like when Angle nearly won with the Ankle Lock, Taker nearly won with a Last Ride and then ultimately it was Rock that got the win with Taker narrowly missing out on breaking it up. The timing of that finishing spot was perfection because if Taker is there a half-second earlier then it’s too soon, but by being there when he was, it was absolutely perfect. I love this match. What prevents it from being five stars is being a bit too slow at the start and I think Rock/Taker could have sold the Ankle Lock attempts a bit more by limping around a bit. There wasn’t enough selling of body parts for my liking. If somebody was to rate it higher than me then that’s perfectly fine with me because this was one of the best matches of 2002 and it’s one of the best WWE Title matches ever. I don’t think it’s the best triple threat match in WWE history because I’ve rated Benoit vs. Michaels vs. Triple H at WrestleMania 20 higher, but it’s definitely one of the best triple threat matches ever.

The Rock was handed the WWE Title with JR screaming about how this was a war that The Rock survived. JR called it the “most awesome triple threat match I’ve ever seen in my life.” Undertaker had a frustrated look on his face with Lawler noting that Taker didn’t get pinned, but he lost the WWE Title.

Analysis: I’m sure there are people wondering why Rock pinned Angle rather than Undertaker to win the WWE Title. I think it makes sense because Rock dropped the WWE Title to Brock Lesnar one month later and then Lesnar’s first tile feud on Smackdown was against Undertaker as a babyface. By not having Undertaker get pinned here, it made sense for him to go after the WWE Title with Lesnar as the champion.

The Rock continued his celebration with JR noting that Rock was the first 7-time WWE Champion in history. They showed some highlights and Rock continued his posing with the WWE Title. That was the end of the show.

This event had a runtime of 2:37:30 on WWE Network.

The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle - Triple Threat Undisputed Championship Match: Vengeance

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Show rating (out of 10): 7

It’s a pretty good show overall thanks to the greatness of the main event. When you mention Vengeance 2002 to wrestling fans, they are going to bring up Rock vs. Angle vs. Undertaker because if they’ve seen it, they know it’s an amazing match. If you haven’t seen it then hopefully my review of it tells you how incredible it was.

There might be people that only think of this as a one match show, which is fair, but there are a few other fun matches on here. I liked the Lesnar/RVD match even though the finish wasn’t great. The Tables Match was a nice choice for the opener and the Tag Team Title change was a match the fans were really into. Another nice thing I can say about Vengeance 2002 is there isn’t any match that is terrible. Some of the shorter ones aren’t that good, but at least it’s all watchable. Plus, if you want to see John Cena’s first PPV match then this is the show for that.

 

FIVE STARS

  1. Kurt Angle – I thought he was the best performer in the WWE Title match.
  2. The Rock
  3. The Undertaker
  4. Brock Lesnar
  5. Rob Van Dam

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: The Rock vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Undertaker (****1/2)

Worst Match: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho (*1/2)

Most Memorable Moment: The final pinfall with Rock beating Angle while Undertaker was close to breaking it up. As I said above, the timing was perfect.

That’s all for me. The next 2002 PPV was SummerSlam, which I have already reviewed right here.  Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

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