Date: May 9, 2002
Location: Harbor Yard Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
As horrible as Raw has been in recent weeks, Smackdown is really starting to find a groove. They’ve hit that perfect balance of wrestling, storyline and entertainment to make two hours go by very quickly. The shows aren’t great but they’re easy to sit through and you actually get some good wrestling. Let’s get to it.
Get the F Out gardening video.
Here’s Stacy Keibler looking GREAT in a black dress. After a bit of dancing, she brings out Vince to kill most of the buzz. Vince gets right to the point: HHH is a bad employee who may not have physically interfered last week, but he certainly knew what he was doing. Therefore HHH needs to get out here right now and apologize like a model employee or things are going to get bad in a hurry.
HHH comes out and immediately defies Vince’s orders to stay at least ten feet away. The gears quickly shift to HHH suggesting that Vince can’t keep her satisfied all night long, though HHH certainly could because he’s HHH and therefore all manly and such. More small genitalia jokes are made and HHH says Stacy is like Anna Nicole Smith, waiting on Vince to die so she can collect the cash. Uh, Trips, she’s just an employee sleeping with the boss. Pull it back a bit.
Vince teases fighting but here are Christian/Lance Storm/D-Von/Hardcore Holly/Test to go after HHH in shifts because wrestling villains don’t get the idea of attacking at the same time. With HHH finally taken down, Chris Jericho comes out for a few chair shots to bust him open.
The second HOGAN chant goes nowhere as Jericho puts on the Walls, with HHH actually tapping. Vince gets in HHH’s face and announces Jericho vs. HHH in the Cell. It’s a cool idea but I’m not sure this match warrants such a big feud. Especially not when there’s no doubt who wins the thing. It’s not like HHH is going to lay down for Jericho in a big match setting.
Cruiserweight Title: Tajiri vs. Hurricane
Tajiri is defending and starts fast with the kicks to the face as Cole is already on his second explanation for how badly Tajiri treats Torrie. I know he’s bad about it today but back then it was excruciating to listen to him hammer in plot points. Hurricane comes back with a DDT and neckbreaker for two but gets caught by the handspring elbow (which Cole refers to as a big spot).
Hurricane knocks him outside and Torrie’s help is shoved away. That’s fine with Hurricane who hits a running flip dive, only to get kicked down again. Torrie FINALLY has enough and gets on the announcers’ table to strip off the geisha outfit and reveal some blue lingerie. The distraction is enough to get Tajiri counted out.
Rating: C-. Not much to the match but the angle advancement was the important thing here. Also, unless Tajiri is holding the title for a lot longer, I don’t get why you wouldn’t change the title here. It’s not a stretch to have him get humiliated and walk into a chokeslam for the title but at least they finally did the split with Torrie.
Hurricane chokeslams Tajiri to make it even worse.
Jericho is with Vince and Stacy to brag about what happened earlier. Vince wants to give HHH a match tonight but doesn’t know who he could face. Cue D-Von and HHH has an opponent. Vince specially asks if he’s here and D-Von says he’s always here.
Hurricane and Al Snow discuss Spider-Man in what has to be a paid advertisement. Hurricane wants to ask Spider-Man whatuswiththat so Snow suggests medication. Someone has left Hurricane a note, saying they know who he is. Hurricane flies off and Snow says he thought it was weird talking to a head. Somehow, these two both appeared on TNA TV fourteen years after this.
Test vs. Mark Henry
Please let this be the blowoff. The challenge of a test of strength gets Henry in trouble and Test hits some running clotheslines in the corner. Henry comes back with clotheslines of his own (oh this isn’t going to be easy) before a powerslam gets two. Test gets gorilla pressed (with a nice assist by shoving off Henry’s shoulders but a bad ending as Henry doesn’t get him all the way up) for two more but he shoves Henry off the top. A flying elbow (one of the few things Test could make look good) gives Test another two but he has to low blow his way out of a full nelson. The big boot ends Henry a few seconds later.
Rating: D-. And so much for Henry going anywhere. See, if you have his whole character be based around power, it might help to have him actually win the matches. I’ve always liked Test but there’s only so much you can do with a guy whose main appeal is….somebody help me out here. Why is Test getting this push again?
Christian brags about beating HHH to Kurt Angle but Kurt gives Jericho the credit. Angle promises to make Edge bald tonight.
We recap Billy and Chuck losing their trunks and Rico getting a Stinkface. Rico says he’s coming out in style, meaning he’s wrestling tonight.
HHH vs. Reverend D-Von
The big moment here (other than HHH slumming it like this) is the debut of D-Von’s new lackey: Deacon BATISTA. D-Von introduces him to the crowd and tells him to watch the ring while he beats the sin out of HHH. It might be easier to beat the blood out of him since HHH has a big bandage on his head. A backdrop and spinebuster give HHH an early two but D-Von sends him into the buckle to take over. At least D-Von is smart enough to take the bandage off and go after the cut.
Batista sends HHH into the steps and hits a big clothesline. Who in the world would guess that would be Wrestlemania XXI? Back in and D-Von gets two off a middle rope forearm to the head, only to miss the headbutt. For some reason HHH goes to grab a chair but gets decked by Batista again. Batista misses a charge into the post though, meaning he looks great and has power but he isn’t that bright. It’s Pedigree time but Jericho runs in and hits HHH with the metal money box to give D-Von the big upset.
Rating: D+. It’s a big win for D-Von though I can’t imagine this is going to wind up meaning anything for him. In other words it’s part of a HHH story instead of anything else, though I don’t think anyone thought Reverend D-Von was going to go anywhere. At least we now have Batista as the Class of 2002 continues to grow.
Here’s Kurt Angle to explain the concept of a hair vs. hair match. Angle makes it even more clear by showing us a shot of Edge with no hair. Kurt: “MR. CLEAN LIVES!” He’s got a second picture but this time it’s Angle with no hair. Angle demands it’s taken away but it’s replaced by a YOU SUCK graphic. Edge’s presence is demanded but here’s Hulk Hogan instead because someone has to stand up for the bald guys. Seriously.
Hogan mentions names like Billy Graham, Steve Austin and of course himself, which pretty much ends the list of great bald champions. Angle promises to take the title from Hogan if Undertaker doesn’t because he’s the only REAL American around here. A big boot knocks Angle to the floor because Hogan is a secret Communist spy. Kurt bails but walks into a spear from Edge with very little reaction from the announcers.
Post break Angle storms into Vince’s office and is put into a tag match against Edge and Hogan with Jericho as his partner.
Billy and Chuck/Rico vs. Rikishi/Al Snow/Maven
What happened to Albert vs. Rikishi? If you’re going to set that stuff up, at least pay it off. Chuck and Snow start things off and Cole ignores the dull action to talk about upcoming house shows. Snow’s trapping headbutts have Chuck in trouble and it’s off to Rikishi for the fat man offense.
A quick poke to the eye cuts that off though and we get the first in ring appearance of Rico. Billy has to make a very quick save so Rikishi knocks him down as well. For some reason Maven gets a loud reaction off the tag but Rico kicks him from behind to give the bad guys control. Rico’s kicks have Maven in more trouble but Chuck comes back in and eats a DDT.
Snow comes in off the ice cold tag (because this story needed to end a long time ago) and everything breaks down. A Samoan drop to Chuck is completely no sold but a superkick that missed by a few inches knocks him outside. Go figure. Rico is knocked into position for a Stinkface but Chuck makes another save, allowing Billy to get in a Fameasser for the pin on Snow.
Rating: D. This show hasn’t been kind with the wrestling but can you blame them with this group of people? There’s no reason for Snow/Maven to keep going after the Tag Team Titles at this point, aside from a lack of anyone else to do it. Did they really split up the Dudley Boyz for the sake of these lame singles runs? Again: it would be nice if they thought this stuff through.
Randy Orton isn’t worried about his issues with Hardcore Holly but Lance Storm interrupts. Storm isn’t pleased with being relegated to taking bets on Mark Henry’s displays of strength so tonight he’ll show his skills against Orton.
We look back at Hogan destroying Undertaker’s motorcycle on Raw. The edited version takes it up from one of the worst segments of all time to just one of the worst of the year.
GET THE F OUT!
Lance Storm vs. Randy Orton
There’s no referee but as luck would have it, Hardcore Holly strolls out wearing a referee shirt. Cole: “I bet Mr. McMahon had something to do with this.” Thankfully Tazz is all over him for saying something that stupid. Storm starts fast with forearms to the back and a spinwheel kick before taking Orton down with a cravate. Randy comes back with exactly what you would expect but Holly won’t count a cover. A powerslam gets a very slow two and Orton hits the high crossbody for an equally slow two. Surrounded by unfairness, Orton gets pulled into the half crab with Holly pushing the ropes away to force the tap.
Rating: D+. Very basic match here but I’m glad it’s giving Storm something to do. He might not be the most entertaining wrestler in the world but there’s value in someone with that level of technical skills. Orton needs to get out of this Holly feud but at least he hasn’t lost to him yet.
Storm and Holly put the boots to Orton until Val Venis makes the save to get even with Storm for screwing him over last week. I can always go for logical week to week booking.
Edge goes into Hogan’s locker room and puts on his gear for the Hogan required Hulk impression until the real thing shows up to give his partner a pep talk. Edge: “He called me brother!”
Edge/Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle/Chris Jericho
Hogan and Angle start things off and Kurt’s right hands have no effect. A quick forearm gets two for Hulk, which is actually a rare sight. How often do you see Hogan cover off anything but a finisher? Edge comes in and gets thrown with a belly to belly before Jericho offers his hard chops. The half nelson facebuster drops Jericho and Edge cleans house while Hogan stays on the apron. I think that’s best for everyone involved.
Chris snaps the throat across the top to take over and it’s time to choke with some tape. We hit the chinlock on Edge for a bit before they both hit cross bodies. The hot tag brings in Hogan to clean house (exactly what he should be used for) and the usual looks to finish Jericho until Angle pulls the referee. Jericho grabs the Walls on Hogan but here’s HHH with the sledgehammer for the DQ.
Rating: C-. This was the best Hogan match since Wrestlemania and it’s not even close. Hogan still has value as long as he doesn’t overstay his welcome in any given match. Here he started things off, threw some punches, stood on the apron to play cheerleader while Edge got beaten down and then came in for the house cleaning.
The fans are going to love that stuff because it’s what Hogan does best. What isn’t going to work is having Hogan out there for fifteen minutes, which he rarely did in his prime. Let the young guys go out there and do the hard work and let non-champion Hogan come in and do his thing. That could last for months if not a year or two.
Vince comes out and offers to let HHH hit him with the hammer, though it’s going to cost him his career. HHH swings but Vince drops to the floor, allowing Jericho to get in a chair shot to end the show. This is really feeling like a modern Cell match as I can barely remember why HHH is mad at Vince in the first place. None of that matters though as HHH and Jericho are going into the Cell and that’s all that matters.
Overall Rating: D+. The wrestling was really weak here but the storytelling makes up for some of that. They clearly have plans week to week here and it makes the shows so much easier to sit through. Couple that with a lack of anything horrible like the NWO or the motorcycle segment from Raw and it’s no surprise that Smackdown is miles ahead of Raw at the moment. Fix up the wrestling and the show would be a highlight instead of just better than the horrible one.
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