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WWF RAW- January 28, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

Steve Austin

Presented LIVE on TNN from the Richmond Coliseum in Richmond, VA. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. This week we'll determine the challenger to Chris Jericho's Undisputed WWF Championship for No Way Out when Steve Austin takes on Kurt Angle. Also, Chris Jericho defends his Championship TONIGHT… against Maven? If that isn't enough, we're going to see Triple H take on Booker T!

Kane vs. Big Show:

Wow, they rushed through a couple of matches where they had miscommunication as a tag team and are blowing it off a week later. Again, Big Show has ZERO stock value right now, so this should be a clear victory for Kane, even if he's in limbo at the moment. Slugfest to start, with Show taking the early control. Whip to the ropes and Show with a clothesline, followed by an elbow drop for two. Side slam for two. Kane fights free of a chin-lock, ducks a clothesline, and unloads with right hands. Show shrugs off a clothesline and nails Kane coming off the ropes with a boot. Kane avoids an avalanche and plants Big Show with a powerslam! Kane makes the trip to the high-rent district but Show counters the flying lariat with a chokeslam for a near-fall. Show is in disbelief and misses an elbow drop. Show fights out of the goozle, but Kane staggers him with an elbow and big boot, and then finishes with the chokeslam at 2:52. Quite possibly the best match these two ever had together. That's not high praise, of course, but this was a fun hoss fight.

Ric Flair is on the phone when Faarooq and Bradshaw come in, wanting to know the deal about Vince threatening to kill the WWF with the n.W.o. Bradshaw says it's a bunch of self-serving egomaniacs (among other names) if it's who they think it is. Not to play Uncle Dave and over-think things, but did Bradshaw ever have a significant amount of time working with any of the three we're supposed to be thinking of? I know Ron Simmons spent time in WCW with them before their rise to the top, but Bradshaw would have next to zero experience.

"The greatest trick the devil ever played was convincing the world he didn't exist. Kevin Spacey, the Usual Suspects, 1995. Rest assured, I do exist." He saw "him" perform last week and he was impressed. The fans like him too. "They like you, they really like you." Goldust continues making vague threats about his target, throwing in some more film quotes for the heck of it.

We recap Maven's interaction with the Undertaker and the Royal Rumble, and explains Maven is getting tonight's opportunity because he was technically never eliminated from the match.

Michael Cole is backstage with an arrogant Chris Jericho. He's still bragging about his victory over the Rock, but all people care about is the kid from "Tough Enough." Maven might be tough enough, but is he good enough? No. When he's done with Maven, he'll give either Kurt Angle or Steve Austin an undisputed beating at No Way Out.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
William Regal (c) vs. Rob Van Dam:

RVD defeated Regal in a non-title match in less than a minute on Smackdown, so it's only natural to run it back with the title on the line. Referee Teddy Long checks the ring area for hidden brass knuckles, because that's still something they are trying to get over. Long also checks Regal's person, but RVD attacks before completing the process. RVD sends Regal into the ring, and knocks him back outside with a spinning heel kick. RVD follows, sending Regal into the post and ring steps. Regal keeps attempting to distance himself, but RVD relentlessly follows. Spinning heel kick and a standing moonsault gets a near-fall. Rolling Thunder for two. Regal with a questionably low kick and Long calls for the bell at 1:35. Regal takes a shot at Long and tries to leave with his belt, but RVD throws him back in the ring. Here comes "the damn Dudley's" to put a beating on RVD until Edge helps balance the odds, hitting Regal and Bubba with spears before tossing D'Von over the top rope. RVD isn't done, hitting Bubba on the floor with a flying body press, and Edge hits D'Von with a tope con hilo. Regal KO's Edge with the brass knuckles and RVD eats a 3-D to wrap up a confusing, over-booked segment.

Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley is the next visitor for Ric Flair's office. She wants to know who he thinks he is to book Triple H in a match against Booker T. She had plans tonight, but Flair doesn't care about her plans or feelings. Flair interrupts her with a sarcastic apology and tells her that it was Vince that booked the match. You're telling me he wasn't too busy cutting a million promos at the mirror?

The Godfather & Diamond Dallas Page vs. Lance Storm & Christian:

Godfather cuts a pre-match promo about DDP taking advantage of Godfather's new escort services, "and that isn't a bad thing, it's a good thing." Storm interrupted Godfather's return to Raw last week, leading to a 1-on-1 match on Heat, and DDP picked up a non-title victory over Christian on that same show, so this is a surprisingly natural match to throw together, though it should favor Storm and Christian since they have some experience working as a team. Godfather starts unloading on Storm with forearms. Whip to the ropes and Godfather with an elbow, followed by a slam. Christian pulls down the ropes, causing Godfather to take a spill to the outside. Storm with forearms in the corner, followed by a dropkick for two. Christian puts the boots to the Godfather in the corner while Ross keeps selling the n.W.o storyline, if you couldn't tell how much this match means to the big picture. Double suplex from Team Canada for two. Storm with a pair of snap leg drops as the crowd briefly chants for DDP. Christian with a Russian leg sweep for two. He starts throwing a tantrum about the near-fall, but cools down quick enough to maintain control. Christian misses a charge to the corner, smacking his shoulder on the post. DDP with the hot tag, running wild with right hands and a discus lariat. Storm blocks a Diamond Cutter and rolls him up for two. Godfather sends Storm to the corner, straddling Christian on the post. Ho-Train to Christian, Super-Kick to Godfather, and DDP finishes Storm with the diamond Cutter at 4:02. Perfectly fine action.

Vince McMahon finally arrives at the arena, with the limo driver taking responsibility and surprisingly not being fired for his transgression. Ric Flair comes to the ring for our weekly gab-session. I should keep pointing out, "New World Order" is never mentioned once (so far), just "n.W.o." Ross says we're in NWA territory, and sure enough, Flair wants to acknowledge it, but he has something more important to talk about. Flair wants to get through to Vince McMahon and had the people in Stanford, CT put together a 3-minute video highlighting the history of the WWF. This Network edited version puts generic music over the "Lonely Road of Faith", and loses ALL the feelings the video brings out. It's one of the first times I recall a video package featuring so much of the past, including footage of people that weren't particularly on good terms with Vince at the time. Flair requests Vince come to the ring to talk things over. He attempts to reason with Vince, talking about the love the fans have for the WWF, and admits the WWF is Vince's baby. Flair says if he's done something in the last 3-months to justify the threat of bringing "those people" into the WWF, then he will apologize. Flair offers to do what he needs to do, dropping some inappropriate language along the way. He offers Vince to punch him in the face or smack him with a lead pipe. "WHAT POSSIBLY COULD YOU BE THINKING, BRINGING THE N.W.O. IN HERE?" Vince finally breaks his silence, saying he wants 100% of his company and he wants Flair gone. He'll do the right thing for the company and Vince says he'll pay Flair exactly what he paid for his shares. He'll give Flair time to think it over, but if he chooses wrong, he'll let the n.W.o. poison destroy the WWF. Flair needs to have an answer for him on Smackdown.

Tough Enough (Female) Winner Nidia is at WWF New York to hype the upcoming match for the WWF Undisputed Champion. Not exactly the most natural performance in front of a camera.

WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Maven:

This better not run longer than 3-minutes, or feature Jericho needing outside interference. IT'S MAVEN, THE TOUGH ENOUGH ROOKIE. Jericho with a soft slap before the bell, triggering Maven to attack before the bell. He surprises Jericho with a dropkick for two, sending the Champion to the floor for a breather. Maven falls into the trap, allowing Jericho to take the eyes and drop him chest-first across the barricade. Maven blocks being rammed into the steps, instead giving Jericho a taste of the steel. Back inside, Jericho cuts Maven off with a basement dropkick and plants a series of kicks to the midsection. Maven gets sent shoulder-first into the post. Jericho removes a turnbuckle pad in almost record time. Maven offers a comeback, but Jericho slams the door on it almost immediately. Maven blocks the Walls of Jericho, spinning out of the attempt. Maven blocks a dropkick and sends Jericho into the post for a near-fall! Inside cradle from Maven for two. Jericho with a rolling cradle into the Walls of Jericho to retain at 3:23. They didn't do too much and Jericho gave Maven his hope spot.

Immediately after the match, the Undertaker makes his slow walk to the ring, with Jericho bailing out to avoid getting in the way of Taker's wrath. Taker puts on the fingerless gloves to show he means business. He tries to intimidate Maven by cornering him and lands a body blow. Maven throws a right hand, triggering Taker to unleash a flurry of punches and boots. Taker rams Maven into the exposed buckle, turns him upside-down for a tree-of-woe, and continues to put the boots to the youngster. Taker fetches a steel chair and slams Maven throat-first across it to cap the beating. Jonathan Coachman tries to get a word with Undertaker backstage about his recent actions. Taker asks if those are Coach's teeth, and wants to know if he wants to keep them. He'll wear Coach's teeth as a necklace if he hears the name "Maven" out of his mouth again. Then the Rock had to stick his nose where it didn't belong. He doesn't sing and dance for the Rock, and he doesn't appreciate the disrespect. What happened to the Rock will continue every time he disrespects him.

Jazz walks in on Chuck and Billy helping each other stretch.

Triple H is getting ready for his match, but first Stephanie wants to have a talk with him. She wants to know where his wedding band is. He took it off, like he always does when he wrestles. She says maybe he should've thought twice about calling Vince an A-hole, otherwise he wouldn't have to worry about competing tonight. Triple H doesn't care about who books what, or who he has to step in the ring with. Tonight, he's kicking Booker T's a$$. Stephanie warns Hunter about how dangerous Booker T can be and offers her services. Hunter says he'll be just fine by himself, without her at ringside.

Trish Stratus & The APA vs. Jazz, Chuck & Billy:

I don't miss the era of "we've got 5 women under contract, so run the same match for weeks in a row until we switch things up". Chuck and Billy have the momentum of a runaway freight train and the APA are there to pad the roster, so I'm putting money on Jazz and the bleach-blonde bimbos taking the W on this night. Jazz and Trish start. Lockup into the ropes, Trish gives a break and Jazz throws a slap. She runs through Trish with a shoulder block, but gets caught coming off the ropes a second time with a monkey-flip. Trish sends Jazz to the outside with a dropkick, but Jazz quickly snatches Trish through the ropes and slams her face-first across the apron. Back inside, Trish surprises Jazz with an inside cradle, but Chuck saves and throws her to the canvas. Bradshaw tags in and makes Bradshaw pay, hitting him with a shoulder block and a big boot. Chuck tries hiding with his face buried in Billy's crotch, so Bradshaw boots Billy off the apron. Billy in now, hitting Bradshaw with a dropkick. Bradshaw cuts Chuck off with a side suplex and holds him open for some free shots from Faarooq. Whip and the APA with a double shoulder block for two. Chuck ducks a clothesline and "hits" Faarooq with a Super-Kick for two. Whip is reversed and Faarooq catches Chuck with the spine-buster. Trish with the blind tag, putting the boots to Chuck. She makes the mistake of climbing the ropes in a mounted position (crowd pops for it because…. pervs?) and Chuck plants her with a powerbomb for three at 4:06. Chuck pinned a woman for cheap heat, and seems disgusted having to touch her in doing so, because… well, you know. Match was just stuff happening.

Michael Cole gets a word with Kurt Angle. Yay, the crowd does the "What" routine. No thanks.

Triple H vs. Booker T:

As we've established earlier, this match is thrown together by Vince McMahon because Triple H called him a naughty word. Don't worry, I'm sure a match between Trips and Booker will have more significance in the near-future. Lockup and Triple H grabs a side headlock. Booker fights out with a top wrist-lock and they trade hammer-locks until Booker lands an elbow. Hunter pops out of the corner with a spear and unloads with rights. Whip is reversed and Triple H connects with a clothesline. Booker counters the mounted rights by dropping Hunter face-first on the turnbuckle and follows with a standing heel kick. Whip to the ropes and Booker with a diving forearm for two. Hunter ducks a second heel kick and plants Booker with the spine-buster. Whip to the ropes, Booker ducks an elbow, but Hunter busts out the high knee and neck breaker for a near-fall. Booker gets sent over the top rope with a clothesline. Hunter sends him back in the ring, and the referee is somehow distracted long enough for CHRISTIAN to run down and hit a reverse DDT on the floor. Well, Triple H did attack him for no reason last week. Booker whiffs the Scissors Kick, opening the door for a comeback. Hunter with a knee to the face, knocking Booker out of the ring. Christian hops on the apron for another distraction. Here comes Stephanie, slapping the taste out of Christian. He grabs Stephanie by the hair, drawing the ire of Hunter, but he accidentally bumps her off the apron, and Booker rolls him up with a handful of tights to steal the three-count at 5:05. Wow, Triple H jobbing in 5-minutes to a roll-up? Bizarro World. Match wasn't anything special while it lasted, with them doing their greatest hits without much purpose.

During the break, Triple H slams the locker room door in Stephanie's face, then nicely hands over her luggage and shoes before locking her out again.

#1 Contender's Match: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle:

Last week on Smackdown, Austin defeated Booker T and Angle defeated The Rock in a mini-tournament to determine the challenger for Chris Jericho's Undisputed Championship. Austin rushes the ring and wastes no time in unloading on Angle with right hands. Angle cuts him off with a rake of the eyes and throws a series of chops. Whip to the ropes and Austin counters a leapfrog with a powerslam. Angle blocks a boot and goes for the Ankle Lock, but Austin counters with a rolling cradle for two. Whip is reversed and Austin with the Thesz Press, followed by the F-U elbow for two. Another whip reversal and Angle with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex for two. Maybe I've mentioned it before, but I HATE the cadence of Earl Hebner's counts. He's far too quick with it. Angle rattles Austin with a hard whip to the corner. Austin counters a second one, but Angle pops out and hits a clothesline. Austin disrupts Angle's momentum, planting him with a spine-buster for two. Angle counters a suplex, hitting Austin with the German suplex trio. Angle wants more, but Austin fights free with elbows to the side of the head. He positions Angle across the top turnbuckle and lays into him with chops before taking him to the canvas with a super-plex for a near-fall. Angle powders out, with Austin chasing him up the ramp. Angle plays keep away despite Austin bringing him back to the ring several times. Angle gives up on that and accidentally smacks his own shoulder on the post. Wow, I haven't seen that spot enough on this show. The referee gets in the way of the action, allowing Angle to go low. Angle fetches a chair, feeding it to Austin in a wonderful bit of strategy. Austin teases it but tosses the chair aside and stumps a mudhole. Stunner is countered, wiping out Hebner in the process. Angle punishes Austin with the chair, with the referee looking at the giant screen for most of it and having to play dumb. Even with that ridiculous suspension of disbelief, Austin kicks out at two. Ankle Lock applied, but Austin makes it to the ropes. Angle Slam and Austin gets a foot on the ropes. Angle celebrates prematurely, buying Austin time to recover. Austin nails the distracted Angle with a Stunner and stamps his ticket for No Way Out at 10:27. Chris Jericho tries getting the jump on Austin and eats a Stunner as well. An abbreviated version of what they're capable of, but the overbooking of the match was more annoying than usual on a show loaded with overbooking. ***

Final Thoughts: We finally have our Main Event for No Way Out, and to no surprise, with Rock being bested at the Rumble and Triple H being saved for WrestleMania, we're putting Austin back in the title picture. Even with that positioning, the World Title isn't the #1 focus of the company, with the rocky relationship between Triple H and Stephanie starting to take center stage, as well as the drama between Vince and Flair over the doom that can be brought by the n.W.o. For the most part, the wrestling on the show was perfectly fine, but it felt like every meaningful match had some gaga, with both heels and faces suffering from the "I won, but I didn't look good" playbook (that being Booker T and Steve Austin, if I need to point it out). There's enough to keep my attention, but I'd like them to calm things down a little.

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