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WWF Smackdown - March 14, 2002

by Scrooge McSuck

Triple H

Taped on March 12th from the Gund Arena in Cleveland, OH, with Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler calling the action, unless otherwise noted. Taped for Sunday Night Heat: Val Venis tapping out The Boss Man, Lance Storm pinning Rikishi after a low-blow (insert Judge Doom "SURPRISED?" gif), Spike Dudley and The Hurricane defeating Perry Saturn and Crash, and Mr. Perfect pinning The Godfather for his THIRD victory since returning to the… wait… this was only taped for International audiences? OK, if you're an American reading this, that match doesn't count, but if you're from the UK or other markets that received the international broadcast of Heat, then add a 3rd notch to Perfect's belt for his 2002 run.

Lengthy recap of Poor Lucy and all the shenanigans involving Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Chris Jericho from Monday Night Raw (don't correct me with Raw is War or just Raw. I'm sticking with Monday Night Raw from this timeline going onward).

Rob Van Dam vs. Kurt Angle:

OK, time to take bets: What screwjob finish are we getting? No shot with three days until WrestleMania that we get anything close to a clean finish. Heck, I don't even expect a pin-fall finish. RVD is set to challenge William Regal for the Intercontinental Title and Angle has a date with Kane at WrestleMania. RVD flips through a fireman's carry and nails Angle with a dropkick. Whip is reversed, RVD avoids a charge and springs off the ropes with a twisting body press. RVD with a clothesline, sending Angle over the top rope. He leaves Angle to dry across the barricade and comes off the apron with a spinning heel kick. Back inside, Angle ducks a clothesline and folds RVD in half with a release German suplex. Whip and an elbow on the chin of RVD gets a two-count. RVD with elbows to fight out of a chin-lock, followed by a spinning heel kick. He charges into the corner with shoulders to the midsection, lays Angle out with a side kick, and connects with Rolling Thunder for a two-count. Angle ducks the leg-trap heel kick and applies the Ankle Lock, but RVD kicks Angle off and cradles him for two! Angle pops up immediately and takes RVD's head off with a clothesline. The straps come down, but RVD counters the Angle Slam. RVD climbs the ropes, but Regal runs to ringside, distracting RVD long enough for Angle to throw him off the top rope, and the ANKLE LOCK FINISHES AT 4:38. Man, I need to stop these side bets with myself. Regal pounces immediately after the bell, and here comes KAAAAAAANE to give Angle a reason to change his underpants before planting Regal with a chokeslam. As good as you're getting for a 4-minute match.

Vince McMahon is on the phone, comparing WrestleMania to Christmas Day. Ric Flair arrives and McMahon is still gloating about having full control of the company until WrestleMania. He wants Flair to know that his match with Undertaker will be NO DISQUALIFICATIONS. As for tonight, Vince gives him the night off, for his own protection and safety. Flair says he's leaving out of respect for the WWF, not because Vince told him so, then gets bleeped out as he mumbles something on his way off camera.

Jeff Hardy (w/ Matt and Lita) vs. Bradshaw (w/ Faarooq) vs. BIlly (w/ Chuck) vs. Bubba Ray Dudley (w/ D'Von and Stacy Keibler):

We've got a Fatal-4-Way Elimination for the Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania, so here's a preview with a Fatal-4-Way featuring one member of each team! Weird that the Champions did NOT get the last entrance. This is one-fall to a finish, by the way. The Dudleys have music from "Saliva" that is available in two weeks on the new WWF Forceable Entry album, and Lawler pervs on Stacy, of course. Wait… there's tags in this match? That makes a lot of sense. Billy and Bubba start. Bubba uses his beef to bulldoze Billy (unplanned alliteration there). Billy catches Jeff Hardy napping and forces a tag on him. Whip to the ropes and Jeff with a pair of deep arm drags, followed by a dropkick. Bubba takes all Jeff can throw and cuts him off with a Hangman's neck breaker. Whip to the corner and Jeff surprises Bubba with Whisper in the Wind. Bradshaw tags himself in, only for Bubba to cut him off with a back suplex. Then to add to the chaos, Bubba breaks up a pin attempt from Jeff! Bradshaw regains control, tossing Jeff with the fallaway slam. Jeff with a jaw breaker and he returns the favor for Billy from earlier. Bradshaw with a shoulder block and elbow drop, but Bubba saves. WHY!! Bradshaw plants Billy with a slam and unites with Jeff for the WASSUP DROP. Bradshaw quickly betrays the alliance, booting Jeff out of the ring. Bradshaw cuts Bubba off on the ropes and takes him down with a super-plex. Billy in and he gets hit immediately with the Bubba Bomb. Jeff with a Tornado DDT on Billy for a near-fall. CLOTHESLINE FROM HELL TO BUBBA. Billy with the Famouser on Bradshaw. Jeff misses a Swanton Bomb and we've got bedlam at ringside! Billy with the One and Only on Jeff for three at 7:05. Lita and Stacy get into it as the three challenging teams continue to brawl with each other. Some weird logic in breaking pin attempts, but everyone had their working boots on.

Trish Stratus and Lita have a little heart-to-heart backstage ahead of their triple threat match with Jazz at WrestleMania and it quickly turns into a pull-apart brawl! These referees better have hazard pay at the rate this show is going.

Vince McMahon is backstage with DAVID FLAIR. Vince remarks he looks better than the last time he saw him. Tonight, Vince is giving David the opportunity of a lifetime: tonight, RIGHT HERE ON SMACKDOWN, David Flair vs THE UNDERTAKER. David with some of the worst script-reading I've ever heard, trying to turn down the match, acting afraid. I'm sorry, didn't David win multiple titles in WCW? Why are they treating him like he's never wrestled a match before?

WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
Al Snow © vs. Big Show:

Snow doesn't waste time grabbing some toys from under the ring, including a bowling bag. Look, we've got two geeks who aren't booked for WrestleMania! That should tell us someone more important is going to make an impact on this match. Snow hits Show with a baseball slide and snaps a broom across his back, but Big Show no-sells it and drops Snow across a garbage can. Show "squeezes Al Snow's head like an orange" against the steel steps. Snow avoids having his head crushed like a grape and smacks Show with a Stop sign for a near-fall. Show regains control, but nobody cares, because we talk about everything else going on except for what's happening in the match. Show gets caught in the corner and Snow brings out the bowling ball for the world famous 7-10 split. Snow with a DDT but Show kicks out WITH AUTHORITY. Show shrugs off trash can shots and hits the Chokeslam. Here's Goldust to run interference but Show cuts off the pin attempt. Now MAVEN runs in. Goldust wastes Snow with a trash can lid and Maven steals the cover to regain the Hardcore Title at 3:34. Maven is the ultimate opportunist! That turned into a cluster-f*ck if I've ever seen one.

"Hollywood" Hulk Hogan makes his way to the ring, with Michael Cole running down his credentials like we're a bunch of morons. He's watched every next big thing step in the ring and promise to kill Hulkamania, including Roddy Piper, The Ultimate Warrior, and God bless his soul, Andre the Giant said it, but they all failed. Just like the Rock on Monday Night, he beat them all with a boot to the face and the leg drop. The only thing that almost killed Hulkamania was the Hulkamaniacs, but then he realized he didn't need them. We get to see the replay of Hogan pinning the Rock multiple times until The Rock interrupts. Rock doesn't care about killing Hulkamania, because Hulkamania is a fantasy, like the fantasy world where he eats a Hulka-sandwich and his Hulka-friends tell him he won't get his Hulka-a$$ whooped by the Rock. Sunday is reality, and there is no way he's walking into the biggest match ever and not whipping Hogan's candy a$$ for the 1-2-3. Hogan admits Rock is a cut above the rest, and maybe he isn't the flavor of the month he said he was, but he has one question for the Rock: "What'cha gonna do? What'cha gonna do Rock when the biggest icon this industry has ever seen puts you in your place at WrestleMania? Wha'cha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?!" Rock makes his way to the ring and the crowd is buzzing with anticipation. "This Sunday at WrestleMania, the Rock is putting an end to your legend, and will go down in history as the best ever, but until then... the Rock will take his vitamins, but if I were you, I'd say my prayers... if you smell what the Rock is cookin'." They have the big stare down until Hogan breaks away to take his leave. Hell of a promo from both men.

Edge & Tajiri (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Booker T & Test:

Booker T and Edge have a date for WrestleMania, while Test and Tajiri have nothing to do (on the main card, at least). Jerry Lawler again reminds us of the Divas "Sex on the Beach" special on UPN the night before. Tajiri and Booker T start as Lawler and Cole bicker about shampoo. Booker unloads on Tajiri in the corner. Tajiri ducks a clothesline and lays into Booker with a series of kicks. Booker counters a spinning head-scissors with a side slam. Edge tags in and hits Booker with a clothesline, followed by a spinning heel kick. Test runs interference, allowing Booker to hit Edge with a Super-Kick. Test sends Tajiri to the corner and easily counters the Tarantula with a wheelbarrow slam. Running big boot from Test sends Tajiri out of the ring. Edge clears out Test and hits Booker with a Spear, but Test returns to make the save. Edge ducks a big boot from Test and hits the Edge-ecution. Booker with the jumping heel kick out of nowhere on Edge for three at 2:42. Post-match, Booker with a scissors kick to add insult to defeat. Stuff happening, and automatically makes me assume Edge wins at the PPV after going down relatively clean here (I know he was distracted hitting Test, but Booker didn't use a weapon or pull tights).

Jonathan Coachman is with Steve Austin, and you guessed it, more "WHAT?!" nonsense. Austin isn't nervous about WrestleMania, and he's going to open a can of whoop a$$ on Scott Hall. Wait, so a$$ is allowed by UPN, but not b*tch? Censorship makes a lot of sense. The promo is interrupted by Scott Hall making his way to the ring. Weird to interrupt a backstage pre-tape with an appearance in front of the live audience. Hall says Austin doesn't need to hide in the back like a cockroach and makes fun of the "WHAT" thing before showing highlights from Raw where Hall hit Austin with a Stone Cold Stunner. Hall heard from Austin that he's the toughest in the WWF, and dares him to prove it. Austin makes his way out through the crowd, avoiding an ambush from Kevin Nash at the top of the ramp, and lays out Hall with a Stunner.

Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon are backstage, speculating on what announcement Triple H has to make tonight.

Jerry Lawler and Michael Cole run down the entire lineup for WrestleMania (X-8) and honestly, on paper, this doesn't look like a bad show at all, but watching the TV has been a bit of a struggle to get excited for. BREAKING NEWS: DDP defends the European Title against Christian! Man, if you were on the fence before, that's sure to get you to spend $39.95!

David Flair vs. The Undertaker:

David's one and only match on WWF television. I often skip entrances to get through shows a little quicker, but I'm always leaving Taker's entrance (at least while he's still using Limp Bizkit). David Flair's titantron video still lives on in infamy (and has more generic music than Crank it Up could ever be!). Cole continues the narrative that David is an untrained goof. Flair attacks from behind, throwing a series of rights. Taker cuts him off, tosses him in the corner, and unloads with rights and lefts. Whip across the ring and Taker charges in with a clothesline. To the opposite corner and Taker with a side slam for two. Here comes Ric Flair and the match is thrown out at 1:20. Taker sends Flair out of the ring with a big boot. David again tries his luck, unsuccessfully, but it allows Father Ric to get a shot with a steel chair before Taker retreats.

Triple H makes his way to the ring to address WrestleMania (X-8). Monday night on Raw, Chris Jericho did his best to try and take him out of action for the second time in the last 10-months, attacking his surgically repaired leg with a sledgehammer. He's here to make an unfortunate announcement... and that is unfortunate for Chris Jericho! Jericho didn't get the job done because he's nothing but a failure. Pain is just temporary, but the game is forever. This Sunday, Chris Jericho's a$$ will be kicked and Triple H will be the new Undisputed Champion. Jericho and Stephanie (finally) interrupt. Jericho gives mock applause for Hunter's performance, but he's not certain he's telling the truth and ready to face the living legend in the Main Event at WrestleMania. Stephanie says Triple H was never a good liar, and she called Dr. Andrews on Tuesday. Yeah, he's not disclosing information about a patient KNOWING they are an estranged couple. Blah blah blah, I'm hitting Fast Forward, I can't take this feud anymore. Hunter says he's hurt and his quad is barely holding on, but enough to pass a physical for combat sports entertainment. Triple H is TRYING REALLY HARD to sell himself as a top babyface, but this is hot death to watch, and poor Chris Jericho is just a background character holding the most important title(s) in the company. We get a brawl between Hunter and Jericho, and a teased Pedigree for Stephanie (where she has another wardrobe malfunction that is edited out, for good cause) before Jericho puts Hunter in the Walls of Jericho to send us home concerned for Hunter's chances at WrestleMania.

Final Thoughts: This was an old fashioned March to WrestleMania Prime-Time Special with all the big matches getting a decent chunk of promo time, as well as some matches thrown together to tease other match-ups for the PPV. Hogan/Rock continues to be the best attraction, not because of the name value, but from the performance of both men, and honestly, nothing else comes close. Even worse, I'd probably rank Jericho/HHH beneath Austin/Hall and Taker/Flair when it comes to personal anticipation. It's taken a long time to get here, but next time in the 2002 Flashback, we revisit WrestleMania X-8.

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