Happy Saturday Everyone!
WWE are heading to the UK for a big show in the first week of September so I decided to spend the next couple of weeks reviewing some of WWE’s shows from previous trips over here, starting with this notable event.
This show is mostly known for preceding the infamous “Plane Ride From Hell”, but what often gets forgotten is the show itself and how good/bad it was. It happened very early on in the Brand Split of 2002, so it’s just the Raw crew that have travelled meaning no Edge, Kurt Angle or Chris Jericho to spruce things up.
The two Main Events are Stone Cold Vs Big Show and Triple H Vs Undertaker, so yeah, we’ve got some exciting action to look forward to let me tell you. However, maybe the show isn’t quite as bad as I remember? Let’s see if Insurrextion 2002 really is a Stinker.
This was also the last show to ever use the WWF initials, as they went to being WWE from the next Raw show. Vince McMahon apparently had to be talked out of wrestling a dude in a panda suit for this show (The World Wildlife Fund for Nature has a panda as it’s mascot), although if they’d dressed up one of the women wrestlers as Xiaoyu to manage the panda then I would have gotten a kick out of it at least.
The event is emanating from London, England on the 4th of May 2002
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
We get the opening video package, where they push the idea that Raw owner Ric Flair is losing control of the Brand. We also get the fun Machinehead rip-off song that WWE was never sued for using for whatever reason.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Eddy Guerrero Vs Rob Van Dam
Eddy effectively demolished RVD to win the belt back in April and since then they’ve been telling the story that RVD had been gradually gaining on him with every subsequent meeting, with the eventual payoff being RVD defeating Eddy for the belt. It’s one of those feuds where if you just saw the match at the Backlash show you’d think it was an epic burial, but viewed in line with the overall feud it was good storytelling.
This is a very good opener, with RVD running wild with his usual high-impact flippy offence and looking good in the process. Eddy is of course excellent at selling for RVD and bumping around to make his offence look good, but eventually he manages to cut RVD off by giving him a low bridge to the floor before flinging the challenger into the ring steps, which earns him a negative chant from the amassed English crowd.
Eddy does a fine job working heat, whilst RVD also does a good job at selling it all and attempting the occasional comeback. RVD does eventually make the full comeback, getting Eddy with a fantastic monkey flip at one stage that Eddy bumped for superbly. The crowd is into RVD and his offence has looked really good in this one. RVD ends up missing a Frog Splash though, which leads to Eddy trying to use the belt as a weapon. The ref tries to stop him, so Eddy shoves him down for the lame finish.
WINNER BY DQ: ROB VAN DAM (EDDY GUERRERO RETAINS)
That was a good match prior to the lame finish
RVD lays out Eddy following the match in order to pop the crowd, so they leave the bout happy at least, even if they were given a terrible finish to the match itself.
This show will probably be all downhill following that, so be warned.
Molly Holly and Women’s Champ Jazz are being interviewed by Terri Runnels. The mean Heels don’t like her or the babyface women because she cares more about wearing bikini’s than wrestling. Yes, that was a Heel stance to take in 2002. Molly also complains about page three in the newspaper, and yes that probably is a bad thing that they could do with doing away with, especially as there have been a few scandals where models on page three have actually been below 16 (the legal age over here). Molly’s promo wasn’t bad here; it’s just so jarring that she’s supposed to be a Heel.
WWE Women’s Champ Jazz and Molly Holly Vs Trish Stratus and Jackie Moore
Jazz and Trish had been feuding since the turn of the year, trading the belt in the process. Trish would win it soon from Jazz in order to then transition it to Molly at King of the Ring. This was back when they made the women wrestle more like “divas” than actual wrestlers, so they do a spot where Molly and Jackie have a CAT FIGHT and end up rolling all over the ref, in a spot that puts this match on par with a mini’s match. Why doesn’t Jackie bite the referee on the bum next whilst we’re at it?
Eventually the Heels cut Jackie off and work some heat on her, which means we actually get some wrestling, and it’s decent. Trish gets the hot tag, but kind of runs around chasing Jazz to attack her rather than standing in the middle and letting Jazz come to her, which is understandable in that Trish was still learning her craft at this stage, although she had improved over the prior six months. Trish gets cut off as well though, giving us our second heat segment. Trish sells well and the Heels look good on offence, so it’s decent stuff.
Trish eventually catches Jazz with a neck breaker and it’s time for our second hot tag to Jackie, which leads to a nice DDT on Jazz for two. The snap on that DDT looked great. The match breaks down following that, which leads to Jackie knocking Molly off the apron only to get caught in a single leg crab courtesy of Jazz. Jackie sells the struggle of that really well as she tries to make it to the ropes, and the crowd gets behind her as well.
Jazz ends up dragging Jackie back into the middle and transitions into a Step-Over Toe-Hold Face-Lock, which finally brings Trish in for the save and the match breaks down further, with the babyfaces hitting the Heels with stereo finishing moves for the three count and a big pop from the crowd.
WINNERS: TRISH & JACKIE
That was a decent outing there, outside of the silly CAT FIGHT stuff at the start. Once they actually let them have an actual wrestling match it ended up being fun and the crowd responded to it
Well the first two matches have been decent at least.
X-Pac and Scott Hall talk trash backstage about Bradshaw, with X-Pac asking Hall to stay backstage. I will honestly guffaw if Scott Hall flew all the way to England for just that quick backstage cameo.
X-Pac Vs Bradshaw
X-Pac was in the nWo during this period whilst Bradshaw was getting one of his many failed singles pushes that came before he was finally given the JBL gimmick. The Silver Vision tagged classic version of this show dubs out the nWo theme with the generic music from the WrestleMania X-8 Video Game, but I’m betting the Network/Peacock version keeps it in as WWE has long since gone to the trouble of licensing that music.
X-Pac as the diminutive Heel against bigger babyfaces just never really worked for me, even though he was capable of making it work. For me X-Pac was at his best as a Heel in the Cruiserweight division and a babyface when taking on bigger guys. Bradshaw shines on X-Pac with power stuff to start, but X-Pac ends up removing a turnbuckle pad and throws Bradshaw into it face first in order to draw blood. I believe Michael Hayes would reopen that cut on the plan ride later on, which led to Bradshaw knocking Hayes out and X-Pac then cutting off Hayes’ mullet.
What’s weird about this match is that X-Pac hasn’t been wrestling how you would expect him to, i.e. running around like a chicken nugget and catching Bradshaw with cheap shots in an effort to get some offence in. Instead, he’s kind of worked it as a mean Heel on the same level as Bradshaw physically, which just looks ridiculous when you see the size difference. X-Pac apparently complained a few times during this run that they weren’t booking him or the nWo strongly enough, so the plotting of this match might have been a reaction to that in order to appease him.
Bradshaw eventually makes the comeback, getting some near falls in the process. It’s still weird seeing X-Pac getting booked as a physical match for him though. Bradshaw seems to have it won, but X-Pac gets his foot on the ropes in order to break the pin. This is Scott Hall’s cue to join us, in what would be his last show as an active WWE competitor I believe as every other time he came back was as a guest legend. Hall hits Bradshaw with some nun-chucks whilst the ref is distracted, but Bradshaw kicks out at two and then Lariats Hall, only for X-Pac to catch Bradshaw right in the blackjack’s with a low blow before following up with the X-Factor for three.
This didn’t work for me to be honest, and the wrestling wasn’t especially great either. It was such a weird way to structure an X-Pac Vs Bradshaw match as well. NO ONE is going to buy X-Pac as a tough guy, especially against a much bigger opponent like Bradshaw. There was one way to work this and for it to make sense, which was X-Pac running for his life and cheating to gain a little bit of an advantage before Bradshaw proceeded to kill him until Hall rescued his buddy. Instead they tried to make it look like X-Pac was an actual physical match for Bradshaw, and that just wasn’t happening
Jonathon Coachman is backstage with The Undertaker, who is all mean and bullies him whilst the crowd chants “WHAT” in the arena. Triple H is getting no remorse from Undertaker tonight. This wasn’t a bad promo from Undertaker, but the crowd ruined it with their “WHAT” nonsense.
WWF Hardcore Title
Champ: Stevie Richards Vs Booker T
This is a pretty random way to book Booker T on this show I must say. They were doing the 24/7 gimmick with the Hardcore Title during this period, which had meant that Richards had been able to interrupt a Bubba Ray Dudley Vs Jazz match in order to win the belt, as they seemed to be doing an angle where Jazz and Richards were in cahoots. Jazz would end up getting injured soon though and that would lead to Richards being aligned with Victoria instead.
I don’t think Booker was officially a babyface yet and he’d soon end up joining the nWo for a bit in an all-time bad booking decision, but he still gets a hearty pop for his entrance even though he’s technically still a Heel. We get a funny spot early, where Booker tries to throw weapons into the ring and Richards keeps throwing them out, but Booker eventually manages to hit Richards with a metal tray and then lays a whupping on the Champ both inside and outside of the ring.
Richards sells it all well and Booker seems to be having fun getting to inflict punishment without having to bump or sell much, so the match is “perfectly cromulent” as Scott Keith would say, if not the best use of someone like Booker who was a big enough star that they could have given him a more prestigious bout instead of a match for the lower mid-card comedy belt. It makes sense that Booker has taken so much of the match, but he’s been so dominant that the match hasn’t felt like it’s had any real jeopardy.
Richards does eventually use some weapon shots in order to gain control of the contest for a bit, with Booker selling it well. It’s a smart use of the stipulation too, as Richards is more experienced working the style and that experience has allowed him to get some sustained offence in on a guy who is higher up on the food chain than him. The crowd isn’t really that interested in seeing Richards work heat on Booker, but it makes sense as far as match structure goes at least.
Booker eventually manages to fling Richards into a metal bin in the corner and makes the comeback, looking good in the process, whilst Richards takes some nice bumps. Booker gets a near fall from a spine buster and then heads outside to grab another metal bin, which he puts over Richards head and then follows up with a Missile Dropkick for another near fall. I thought that was all set to be the finish actually. Richards manages to catch Booker with the Stevie Kick OUTTA NOWHERE, but Booker kicks out at two and then gets the Book End for three.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BOOKER T
This was decent, if a little long. It was basically a normal match with the odd hardcore spot thrown in, and both of these guys were experienced enough to have a solid match and that’s what we got here. The crowd popped for Booker’s win and seemed to enjoy the closing stages, even if they were kind of quiet for the body of the match itself
We get the usual 24/7 hi-jinx following the three count, as Crash Holly joins us and rolls up Booker for three to win the belt. Crash stupidly stops to taunt though, so Booker promptly kicks him to win it back. However, Booker isn’t smart enough to bail following that, which allows Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer to run down and attack him, giving us an “EC-Dub” chant. The ECW guys introduce a table to proceedings, but Booker manages to fight them off and seemingly survive with his new belt, only for Richards and Jazz to attack him post Spinaroonie, leading to Richards giving Booker a Stun Gun through the table (although he had to do it twice because it didn’t break on the first go around) giving Richards the belt back.
I am now contractually mandated to post the following because of how that went.
Thank You all for your time
We get a video package to hype the next match, as Brock Lesnar destroyed Jeff Hardy at the Backlash show for a referee stoppage finish.
Paul Heyman, Brock Lesnar and Planet Stasiak are backstage. Stasiak has volunteered to tag with Brock against The Hardy Boyz tonight, but Paul just wants Stasiak to stay out of the way. Stasiak doesn’t seem to get it though, as he’s a little bit craziac.
Brock Lesnar and Planet Stasiak w/ Paul Heyman Vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff)
Brock had only been around for a couple of months on the main roster at this stage, with The Hardyz being his first feud. Stasiak was doing a wacky gimmick where he kept talking in rhymes and was just generally nuttier than an entire tub of Nutella. He actually managed to find his way onto the Smackdown game from 2002, although he remains one of the worst wrestlers to actually play as on one of those games, as he gets defeated super easy and his moves don’t do much damage.
Stasiak of course refuses to follow Heyman’s very clear instructions, as he rushes in to start things and gets promptly worked over until Brock is able to tag himself in and take control. Brock’s stuff looks good and The Hardyz do an excellent job bumping and selling for it all, although some complained that The Hardyz maybe got a bit too much offence of their own in during this feud, but I can understand why WWE didn’t want to just job them out for the new guy when they were still over and Jeff in particular could always be programmed with a top guy in a pinch.
Brock eventually misses a charge in the corner though, which leads to Stasiak tagging himself in, which of course leads to him blowing it for his team as Matt immediately tags out to Jeff, who runs wild on Stasiak. It’s a simple story but they’ve told it well and I’ve enjoyed it, especially as Brock did indeed look like The Next Big Thing when he was killing Matt. Stasiak ends up eating a Swanton Bomb and that leads to the three count.
WINNERS: THE HARDY BOYZ
This was fine and told its story well
Brock destroys everyone, including Stasiak, post-match in order to get his heat back.
We get footage from a charity dinner, where Linda McMahon gets to soak in some positive PR. Some guy from THQ spends £1400 on tickets to WrestleMania XIX. I think he would have been ultimately happy with that purchase.
William Regal is backstage with Jonathon Coachman, where they do what they always used to do on these UK shows by having Regal cut a Heel promo in order to get the crowd to boo him. Why couldn’t they just let him be a babyface for a night like they would with The Hart Foundation in Canada? Regal does manage to work in the word “shitehawk” onto a WWF pay per view though.
WWF European Title
Champ: Little Spike Dudley Vs William Bloody Regal
Spike hit Regal with his own Brass Knux in order to win the belt. This was probably as far up the totem pole Spike got in WWE actually, unless you count his Tag Title run with Tazz as being more prestigious. Some of the fans still decide to cheer for Regal, and he takes most of the match by working Spike over with his usual array for punishing holds and strikes. Spike does an excellent job selling that of course, and he gets some offence of his own at points as well.
Spike’s ankle gives out at one stage though when he tries to go for the Acid Drop, which leads to the match grinding to a halt. I’m pretty certain it’s a worked injury, which is rammed home further when Regal starts attacking him whilst the trainer is taking a look at the injured appendage. The trainer and the ref try and help Spike to the back, but Regal drags him back inside and puts a beat down on him, drawing some cheers from the more sadistic element of the crowd.
Spike sells this all fantastically, with Regal doing an excellent job as a vicious Heel putting the beating on the gutsy babyface. However, Regal decides to be dumb and pull Spike up on a clear three count, which leads to Spike managing to catch Regal with an inside cradle for the upset three count.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: LITTLE SPIKE DUDLEY
This was almost more an angle than an actual match. Regal regained the belt soon after this anyway so I don’t know why they didn’t just have him win it back here so that the fans could say they got to see a Title change for something other than the comedy Hardcore belt
Regal lays out Spike with the Power of the Punch following the bout. What an oddly booked segment that was, with it seemingly existing just to make Regal look foolish in his own country. Couldn’t they just have had Regal do a quick match with someone like Justin Credible where he worked face and picked up the clean win?
We get a video package to hype up the next match. Ric Flair accidentally cost Stone Cold a match with The Undertaker at Backlash. Flair apologised, but Stone Cold didn’t accept the apology. Later on that night, Big Show went Heel for like the 27th time and joined the nWo for the THIRD time in his career, setting up the next match.
Guest Referee: Ric Flair
The Big Show Vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
Flair is here tonight to make sure the nWo don’t ruin this match. Austin is of course way over with the crowd, even though we weren’t far away from him leaving when they tried to mess with him by having him do a job to Brock Lesnar in the King of the Ring. These two of course had a notable match back in 1999, where Austin essentially pinned Big Show clean when Big Show was only about a month into his WWF career. I still can’t believe they did that. Big Show and Austin shouldn’t have been in any kind of official match together for at least a year, with Big Show not doing any clean jobs prior to that.
This was during the big “WHAT” craze, which I absolutely detest, as the crowd chants along with every offensive manoeuvre from Austin. They work it smartly, with Austin trying to chop down the tree by going after Big Show’s legs, which is sound strategy and makes sense in storyline. Big Show is a good seller too, so he does a good job selling the leg when Austin is working it over. They get across the idea that if Big Show can get a hold of Austin then he’ll control things however, which becomes clear when he catches Austin with a body slam and then starts working him over.
I like how Big Show is so big that he didn’t need to actually cheat for the cut off, even against Austin. He just had to use his size advantage and hey presto! Not every match has to follow a tried and tested formula and sometimes you can just have the Heel be too big for the babyface. It was similar when Hogan would wrestle Andre actually, as Andre would normally just out muscle Hogan and start working him over because he was a GIANT and even Hogan couldn’t handle him sometimes. It’s not like Goliath needed to poke David in the eye for the cut off is it?
Austin sells well in the heat and the crowd gets behind him, whilst Big Show’s offence looks good for the most part. Big Show eventually locks in a bear hug, which works well for a guy his size and Austin gets to try and fight his way out of it, which always works as a hope spot. Austin ends up coming off the second rope with the Thesz Press in a nice touch, because Big Show is too big for him to do it normally, and that leads to Austin attempting a comeback with some punches. Big Show boots him down to stop that, but Austin ducks the follow up clothesline attempt and Nick Patrick gets bumped.
Austin gets the Stunner following that, which leads to the nWo joining us. Ric Flair punks them out though and chases them to the back. Austin is distracted by that though, which leads to Big Show going for the Choke Slam. Austin fights that off, but Big Show still manages to knock Austin down with a big boot and head butt. Kevin Nash comes out of the crowd, but Austin fights him off with a Stunner and then gets a pair of Stunners on Big Show for the three count from Patrick.
WINNER: STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
Big Show was supposedly meant to win this one but Austin refused to do the job and they changed it to Austin going over instead. Kind of a jerk move on Austin’s part really, but in his defence I don’t know why you’d bother having Austin lose on a show like this that wasn’t even going to get shown in America. With these shows you may as well book it as a House Show and put the babyface over when you can. As a match this was decent actually, as they told a good story of Austin being outmatched physically but being able to fight his way back into the bout with a mixture of strategy and guts. Flair actually got to be an effective babyface and authority figure this time as well
Speaking of Flair, he chases off Nash with a chair post-match whilst Austin celebrates with some pints in the ring. Flair comes back down to the ring to put Austin over on the mic, which of course leads to him eating a Stunner as well, as you cannot trust Stone Cold if you’re the boss no matter how magnanimous or cool you are.
We get a video package to hype up the Main Event. The Undertaker cost Triple H the WWF Title at Backlash, so now Triple H is coming for revenge.
The Undertaker Vs Triple H
They dub out whatever music Undertaker has here on the Silver Vision version (I’m guessing it was Limp Bizkit?). Jim Ross gets an unintentionally funny line when Triple H counters the Old School rope walk by saying that Triple H jerked Undertaker off…the top rope. Triple H dominates for most of the early stages, with the two men having a stand-up brawl for the most part. It doesn’t have the intensity of the matches they would have in 2011 and 2012, but it’s not horrible or anything.
The big problem seems to be that the crowd saw Stone Cold as the real Main Event of the show and these two aren’t on the same level as far as they are concerned, and the match doesn’t really have much in the way of heat as a result. Undertaker eventually cuts Triple H off and works him over for a bit, getting the old leg drop over the apron at one stage before giving Triple H a chop block to his previously torn quad. The fans have already seen Austin work the leg in the previous bout though, so this is just more of the same.
Then disaster strikes as the top rope gets dislodged, meaning the two wrestlers can’t use it. Undertaker, ever the pro, quickly goes to a chin lock so the two guys can discuss what they’re going to do next, which leads to Triple H getting a back suplex for a double down. They actually do a good job working around the rope breaking, as Triple H pulls Undertaker into a spine buster at one stage for instance rather than doing the usual Irish Whip set-up for the move, and it looks good.
Triple H tries to counter a Choke Slam into…something, with him not really getting it, but it was a nice idea at least. I think he was going for a DDT. Taker gets the Choke Slam on his second attempt though, which gets him a two count in a good near fall. Taker tries bringing in a chair following that, but gets it knee’d in his face for two. This has picked up a bit once they hit the finishing stretch and they’ve done some nice near falls. Triple H eventually manages to get the Pedigree and that’s enough for a clean pin.
WINNER: TRIPLE H
This was a pretty flat Main Event. Considering that Big Show Vs Austin kind of over-delivered, they probably should have closed with that instead. The rope breaking certainly didn’t help either. Despite the match feeling flat though, I didn’t think it was actively bad and it picked up a bit in the closing stages
The crowd is pleased that Triple H won at least, so they get to go home happy if nothing else.
Is It Really A Stinker?
You know what; this show actually wasn’t that bad. If you view it as just a televised House Show then it achieved what it was going for and there were only a couple of matches that I’d say were below par. There wasn’t much great wrestling on it, but most of the matches were watchable and the live crowd seemed to enjoy the show for the most part.
It’s not something you need to go out of your way to watch or anything, but as a show I didn’t hate it. I’m kind of surprised really as I always remembered this show being bad, but maybe I’m mellowing as I age?
Final Score – Odourless