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WWF Smackdown - January 10, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

Kurt Angle

Taped on January 8th, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY, with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. OVW talent were showcased again for the live crowd, with Brock Lesnar defeating Randy Orton and Ron Waterman defeating Rico Constantino before taping for Sunday Night Heat. Matches taped for the January 13th episode included Albert and Scotty 2 Hotty defeating the random team of Crash and Funaki, Billy Gunn pinning Tajiri, and the Dudley Boyz picking up a DQ victory over Perry Saturn and Sgt. Slaughter. Yeah, Slaughter would pop up from time to time during this era.

Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley comes across Debra to talk trash about her husband whooping Debra's husband. Wow, what a pointless segment to give Debra screen time. Did ANYONE care if she was making TV appearances in 2002, outside of her husband? I'm not looking to the future, but beyond their interaction in the Rumble, did Austin and Hunter have another match together? With both babyfaces for the first half of 2002, it seems like an obvious "no", but you never know. Anyway, Stephanie makes her way to the ring, because she has an official pass to be here tonight. She brags that she can do whatever she wants because the Game is back, and she's the Game's wife. OH NO, SHE PLAYS INTO THE "WHAT" CHANTS TOO. She says without her business savvy, Triple H would never have been as successful. OH GOD, THEY'RE TEASING A SPLIT BETWEEN HUNTER AND STEPHANIE. She promises Triple H will win the Royal Rumble with her by his side. After about 5-minutes of this, security makes their way to the ring. So... was she NOT allowed to be in the ring? What the hell is the point of this? If she was barred from ringside, why let her be in the ring for that long?

Christian and Lance Storm are wandering the halls, preparing for a shot at the tag team titles currently held by the makeshift duo of Spike Dudley and Tazz. I guess losing in 70-seconds in an Intercontinental Championship Match isn't damning enough to disqualify Storm from challenging for another belt on the very next show.

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Spike Dudley & Tazz (c) vs. Christian & Lance Storm:

Christian is looking to become a double-Champion, already in possession of the European Championship. Color me surprised they weren't running it back with Bubba Ray and D'Von, but we've got a PPV to put together, so that can wait another week or so. All four men brawl to start. Spike dumps Christian while Storm knocks Tazz through the ropes with a Super Kick. Storm gets dumped next, and Spike follows with a dive from the top rope. Christian sends Spike to the steps as Michael Cole hypes the return of some former WWF Superstars that will be in the Royal Rumble Match. MORE DETAILS LATER. Back inside, Storm works Spike over. He lands a knee to the midsection and connects with a rolling foreman's carry for two. Whip to the ropes and Christian with another knee. Cole hypes Rock and RVD vs Jericho and Test later tonight. Spike counters a suplex with a small package for two. Storm quickly regains control, hitting a spinning elbow for two. Storm with a stomach buster and some trash talking. Whip to the corner and Spike pops out with a missile headbutt to the body. Tazz with the hot tag, running wild with right hands and suplexes. Christian avoids the Dudley Dog and sets up for the Unprettier, but Tazz catches him from behind with the Tazzmission and Christian taps at 4:07. Seconds later, Bubba Ray and D'Von jump Spike and Tazz from behind, but Tazz and Spike defend their ground and leave mostly unharmed. This was three minutes of getting heat on Spike and a quick finish.

ROYAL RUMBLE RETURN: Val Venis. The last time we saw Val in the ring was shortly after WrestleMania X-Seven as a member of Right to Censor. Looks like he'll make his return as the pre-RTC version, though I'm sure it'll be toned down for the sponsors.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
Edge (c) vs. The Boss Man:

Another challenger who doesn't deserve a shot at a legitimate championship, but the Undertaker's stranglehold on the Hardcore Title means the under-card geeks don't have gold to chase, so we're left with situations like this. Lockup into the corner and Boss Man goes to work on the body. He tosses Edge across the ring and continues to dish out punishment. Whip and the Boss Man with a side slam. Lawler seems happy to know the Big Valbowski is back. Boss Man slides out of the ring and connects with a right hand. Edge teases a comeback, but Boss Man cuts him off with an elbow. Boss Man whiffs on a clothesline but counters a cross body press with a back breaker. WHY IS THE BOSS MAN EATING UP EDGE?!?! Boss Man meets a boot in the corner, opening the door for Edge to finally get some offense. He staggers Boss Man with a dropkick, followed by a spinning heel kick and inverted DDT. Boss Man catches Edge off the ropes with a spine-buster and fetches the nightstick. Teddy Long intercepts, allowing Edge to hit the spear. Edge teases using the nightstick before throwing it down. Boss Man gets sent to the corner and Edge hits the Edge-e-cution (ONTO THE NIGHTSTICK) for three at 3:56. Even Lawler openly complains about that, with Cole arguing Boss Man brought it in the ring. I know they popped Boss Man into the microwave for a quick reheat, but in no shape or form should he gobble up the Intercontinental Champion like this.

William Regal pops up on the video screen to let Edge know the lineage of English warriors. If you gamble with the devil, the devil always wins, and unfortunately for Edge, the devil has come to collect. Edge no-sells the promo, telling the Englishman to speak ENGLISH. Regal cuts to the chase, demanding a title match at the Royal Rumble. Edge says Regal keeps the brass knuckles in his trunks because he doesn't have brass b@lls and accepts. Edge's promos are NOT good.

ROYAL RUMBLE RETURN #2: Goldust. Goldust/Dustin Rhodes was last seen on WWF television in the Spring of 1999. Believe it or not, but Dustin pitched the idea of getting breast implants for the sake of taking the Goldust character to another level, but Vince shot the idea down. He would find his way back to WCW, introduced as Seven, doing a worked shoot promo burying the character, and then working as Dustin Rhodes (including using the nickname "The American Nightmare") until the company closed in early 2001.

Lillian Garcia is backstage with Kurt Angle and asks him about the return of Goldust. Angle says if he wanted to see freaks and weirdos, he'd walk around mid-town Manhattan. He says Hunter stole the thunder of his Royal Rumble announcement and gets salty over the crowd chanting "What" between every sentence. I BLAME EVERY SINGLE PERSON PLAYING INTO THIS CHANT FOR KEEPING IT RELEVANT LONG ENOUGH TO HAVE STAYING POWER.

Booker T is brushing his teeth and bothered by someone on the crapper, with obviously fake sound effects. It turns out to be Rikishi, and says he'll be backing his a$$ up on Booker later tonight. You'd think Booker would be aware he has a match scheduled, but then the whole segment doesn't work. The segment dedicated to flatulence. They booked a match for the sake of FART JOKES. HAR-HAR-HAR. Don't worry, only 20 years until Vince retires (maybe).

The Rock & Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho & Test:

Rock and RVD is quite the dream team, and then you've got Test slumming around with the main event talent. Did you know he won the immunity battle royal at Survivor Series? Rock challenges Jericho for the Undisputed WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble, and I'm sure RVD and Test will be padding the Rumble that everyone knows is Hunter's to win. Rock and Jericho tease starting, and if you think that was going to happen, I'm sorry, but you must be new to this. Test attacks from behind, but Rock quickly turns it around and punks out Jericho at the same time. Jericho surprises Rock with a clothesline, allowing Test to put the boots to him. Jericho is more than happy to tag in now. He throws a series of boots and right hands in the corner. COMING UP NEXT: Jim Ross' interview with Mr. McMahon. Jericho comes off the ropes with a series of elbow drops for two. Rock battles back against Test, planting him with a sloppy Samoan drop. RVD gets the tag and runs wild with forearms. Whip is reversed and RVD connects with a spinning heel kick. Jericho charges in with his hands already up. RVD lays him out with a heel kick and follows with Rolling Thunder. Test eats another kick and RVD dives off the top with a somersault senton on Jericho. Test tries getting the jump, but RVD surprises him with a victory roll for two. Jericho takes the action to the floor, dropping RVD across the table. Back inside, Test sends RVD from corner to corner, charging in with clotheslines. Jericho cuts a comeback off with a rake of the eyes and takes RVD over with a delayed suplex. Test with a suplex of his own for two. Test catches RVD diving off the top. He sets up for snake eyes, but RVD escapes and connects with a Super Kick. Rock gets the hot tag, running wild on Jericho with right hands. Whip and Rock launches Jericho with a belly-to-belly throw. Rock Bottom connects but Test saves. Test sets up for the boot, but Rock ducks and hits a DDT. Jericho sneaks in and smashes Rock across the head with one of the title belts. RVD hits a missile dropkick on Jericho, then lands on his head going for a tope suicida on Test. RVD and Test brawl into the crowd, leaving Rock and Jericho in the ring. Jericho with the bulldog. Rock brings up the knees to counter a Lionsault. Jericho avoids a Rock Bottom, then runs into a spine-buster. Rock applies the Sharpshooter and Jericho taps immediately at 9:21. He probably tapped so we would be spared looking at how awful the move is executed. Best TV match so far in 2002, though with most matches being 3-minutes long, there isn't many for contention. ***

Time for everyone's favorite segment, Jim Ross interviewing a heel backstage. Vince already embarrassed J.R. a few weeks earlier by forcing him to join the Kiss My A$$ club, so maybe he'll be OK tonight. Vince offers J.R. to ask anything he wants. WHAT A NICE GUY. Ross asks about the reception for Triple H's return and the relationship between Hunter and the splintered McMahon family and gets nowhere. Ross accuses McMahon of reprehensible behavior in attacking Flair this past Monday on Raw. We see the highlights and McMahon is smiling. He begs to differ about attacking Flair in an unprovoked manner, reminding us how Flair humiliated him by purchasing the stock of his no-good son and daughter. Did Ross miss last week's Smackdown when Flair busted Vince's eye? Ross isn't sure if Vince is fully prepared for what might come from a man known as the "dirtiest man in the game." Vince retorts that maybe J.R. doesn't know what he's capable of, calling himself a calculated risk taker. He hopes Flair's family will be at ringside to see what he does, and says it turns him on to destroy lives. This certainly went in a weird direction. I'd make the "shoot comments"

ROYAL RUMBLE RETURN #3: Mr. Perfect. I remember being excited for this in 2002. Perfect's last WWF appearance was in early November 96, ghosting the company as he negotiated a deal with WCW. He wouldn't make his debut for WCW until the Summer, and outside of a few moments, languished for the next few years. Considering how many times Curt Hennig got under the skin of McMahon for how he handled himself on the way out, it's amazing he was welcomed back at this stage of his career.

Rikishi vs. Booker T:

Oh God... it's THAT match. Lawler can't stop talking about Rikishi's flatulence. Lockup into the corner and Booker with a shot to the eyes. He unloads with right hands, but unwisely attempts a sunset flip. Rikishi catches Booker charging out of the corner with a powerslam for two. Booker rolls to the apron and hangs Rikishi up on the top rope. IS LAWLER MAKING SNIFFINF NOISES? Rikishi cuts Booker off again, planting him with a Samoan drop. Rikishi with a pair of clotheslines, followed by a belly-to-belly suplex. Whip to the corner and Booker nails Rikishi with a jumping heel kick. There are some obviously canned reactions for this match. Booker with the Axe Kick and a celebratory spin-a-rooni. Rikishi recovers, knocking Booker into the corner with a Super-Kick. Booker takes the Stink-Face, powders out, and barfs on Michael Cole. I half-expected Cole to upchuck on Lawler. Oh, match is a No Contest at 3:00. Awesome. Booker went from whooping on Austin and the Rock to throwing up on Cole after a bad comedy match. We get a slow-motion replay for the three people that enjoy this stuff (Vince, Kevin Dunn, and Bruce Prichard).

Jim Ross joins Jerry Lawler as we get our 5th replay of the barf-a-rooni.

Booker T is backstage washing the taste out of his mouth when DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE shows up, smile on his face. He tells Booker that getting the stink face isn't a bad thing... it's a REALLY bad thing. BUT... at least it didn't happen to himself, DDP, and that's a good thing. Oh God, DDP feels like a caricature of himself at this point. It almost doesn't feel like this is the same man that got over so well in WCW.

ROYAL RUMBLE RETURN #4: The Godfather. Like Val Venis, we haven't seen the Godfather since the Spring when the RTC was written off television. Also, like Val, the gimmick was a regular target for sponsors and censors, especially on the TV-PG programming that Smackdown was considered (the show that has repeated shots of a man vomiting on another man). For those familiar with how 2002 plays out, you know how things play out, but we'll play along with the timeline and see how everything unfolds.

Jonathon Coachman runs into the Rock backstage. The Rock has been walking around for 5 days and until now hasn't gotten to say that FINALLY THE ROCK HAS COME BACK TO NEW YORK CITY. Rock promises that Chris Jericho's fate at the Royal Rumble will be the same he met earlier tonight. Rock makes obvious innuendo about his Johnson before cutting himself off to ask what Coach is laughing about. He's referring to his size 14 boot and promises to shove it in and out of Jericho's candy a$$ (but not before taking a timeout to wipe it on Coach's face).

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle:

I'd say this feels special, except these two met on four of the last five PPV's, not to mention matches that took place on Raw and Smackdown across that same time period. Both men will be in the Royal Rumble Match. That would mean a lot as star power is concerned, except EVERYONE KNOWS HUNTER IS WINNING. Austin flips Angle off to start the match. Angle goes for the leg and gets another bird. Lockup into the corner and the referee forces a break. Another lockup and Austin taunts Angle with the "What" nonsense. Austin cranks a side headlock as the crowd chants "What." Whip and Austin with a shoulder block, then back to the headlock. Austin with a go-behind and takedown, followed by a pair of elbows across the knee. They must be going long based on how they are pacing this one. Crisscross and Austin dumps Angle over the top rope. Austin follows, lighting Angle up with chops. Back inside, Angle sends Austin into the turnbuckle and throws chops of his own. Whip across the ring and Angle meets the post. Austin brings it to the floor again, sending Angle into the steps. Back inside, Angle cuts Austin off by driving a knee into the midsection. Austin pops out of the corner with a takedown and unloads with rights. Whip is reversed and Angle with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Knowing how close the end is, I'm sure those bumps felt great. Austin fights back with rights and catches Angle off the ropes with the Stun Gun (called a Hot Shot by JR). Angle catches the boot but gets laid out with a clothesline. Austin ducks a clothesline and hits Angle with the German Suplex train. Angle gives Austin a taste of his own medicine, then gives him a low blow before Austin could regain control. Angle climbs the ropes and hits the moonsault for a two-count. Angle catches the boot again and applies the Ankle Lock. Austin counters with a half-hearted victory roll for two. Austin avoids the Angle Slam and Kick-Wham-Stunner. Suddenly, the pyro goes off and KANE makes his way to the ring. "WHY IS KANE COMING TO THE RING?" He gives Austin a Chokeslam, then he gives Angle a Chokeslam. NOW THE BIG SHOW COMES OUT and we get Round 5 of the 199-round series between Kane and Big Show. They do the double goozle spot. Show hits the Chokeslam, and now Triple H is coming to the ring. IT'S ALL ABOUT THE ROYAL RUMBLE! IT'S ALL ABOUT PLAYING THE GAME! Hunter avoids the Chokeslam by taking Show to D*ck Kick City and hits the Pedigree. Undertaker shows up on the stage and WE'RE OUT OF TIME. Oh, match went to a No Contest at 13:00. Match was fine for a lazy afternoon house show, but this was all about the parade of Royal Rumble participants. **¼

Final Thoughts: I'm not loving what I'm seeing from 2002. We're still in that era of rushed matches, and of course, when we do get a long match, it doesn't have a finish. On the plus side, this episode has the best wrestling of the episodes I've covered so far. We're also getting WAY TOO MUCH of Vince McMahon being a creep, and hey, Booker T vomits on Michael Cole. I'm sure everyone that taped this episode rewound that spot like it was Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Yes, I'm an old fart referring to a 40-year-old movie! HOW DO YOU LIKE ME NOW?!

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