December 26, 2009
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero
August 25, 2002
Uniondale, New York
Buy Rate: 1.00
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, and Tazz
Fun Fact: Just like at Vengeance, both shows announce teams will do matches, but with more logic: Cole and Tazz do the Smackdown matches, and JR and King do the Raw matches.
Sunday Night Heat
Spike Dudley (Matt Hyson) defeats Steven Richards (Mike Manna)
Pay Per View
1) Kurt Angle defeats Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) with the Ankle Lock at 9:20
Fun Fact: A big debut kicks off our next show. Rey Mysterio is from Chula Vista, California which is a suburb of San Diego. He debuted as a wrestler on April 30, 1989 at the age of 14 in a small church in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. Technically, he was too young to receive a license, but enforcement was generally low. He began a feud with Psicosis using the ring name Colibrí, which is Spanish for hummingbird. The feud lasted several years, continuing even after Mysterio's headed north to the United States. He would cut his teeth in the famous AAA promotion in Mexico, before moving on to ECW and a nasty feud with long-time rival Psicosis in a classic Mexican Death Match at November to Remember in 1995. Mysterio would head to WCW where he would be the centerpiece of their outstanding Cruiserweight division. He would have a great feud with Eddie Guerrero that included an unforgettable match at Halloween Havoc 1997 which was a “title vs. mask” match. Mysterio’s would eventually lose a “mask vs. hair” match to Kevin Nash at Superbrawl IX in 1999 and Rey wrestled without a mask for the last two years that WCW was in business. Mysterio was on the last Nitro on March 26, 2001, retaining the Cruiserweight Tag Titles with partner Billy Kidman. Mysterio would pop up in the short-lived XWF for a while after WCW went under, and would make appearances in Mexico’s CMLL promotion. WWE signed him in June and he made his debut on the 6/25 Smackdown against Chavo Guerrero. Upon coming to WWF, Rey would put the mask back on once again, which actually caused him some trouble in Mexico as donning your mask after losing it was considered a major no-no.
Fun Fact II: Mysterio picked up a pinfall victory on Angle in a six man battle on the 8/8/02 Smackdown. The two would attack each other as the weeks went on and Angle promised he would make Mysterio tap out at Summerslam.
Scott: Our opener is such a unique combination of speed and power between two totally different wrestlers. Rey Mysterio was another one who skipped the Invasion and waited for a clear chance to make his mark. Boy did he ever. Angle was kind of floating around until his title match at Vengeance, so Kurt was the perfect guy to match Rey up with. They would have a very entertaining match as Rey’s speed and unusual moveset matched with Kurt in a car accident sort of way. Rey almost snuck a few three count possibilities but in the end Kurt’s Anklelock was too much. The loss didn’t hurt Rey too much, but Kurt needed another win to prepare himself for a big push later in the year that would put him in the forefront for most of 2003. Grade: 3.5
Justin: The crowd was amped and all over Kurt from the get go and the pace of the match would end up matching the intensity of the fans. Rey jumped Kurt to kick things off and the match would never slow down. Kurt would do his best to try to lock in the Anklelock but Rey kept escaping. Tazz did a great job of describing Angle’s strategy of grounding Rey just as Kurt began to employ it. Angle’s offense was crisp and stiff, as always, and he would use some nice power reversals to stop Rey. Kurt worked the back but Rey fought back, leading to an awesome last portion of the match. Rey was on fire and his high impact offense led to some great near falls, including a fantastic one on the West Coast Pop. Angle would finally ground him long enough to lock in the Anklelock and get the clean submission win. It was a great opener that got the crowd rocking. I wish they could have given it more time but they did a great job with the time constraints they were given. Grade: 3.5
2) Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) with the Figure Four at 10:22
Fun Fact: On the 7/29 Raw, Ric Flair wrestled the Rock in a non title match. After Rock won the match, Flair grabbed the mic to make a special announcement. That announcement was rumored to be a retirement speech throughout the night. Before Flair could finish, Chris Jericho made a surprise appearance on Raw and pasted Flair in the face with a chair. The next week, Jericho announced that he had officially jumped to Raw from Smackdown. Later that night Flair returned the favor and hit Jericho with a chair to cost him a match with Rob Van Dam. A week later Jericho challenged Flair to a match here. Finally, on the 8/19 Raw, Jericho’s band Fozzy was set to play a live gig. After performing one song, Ric Flair burst onto the stage and snatched Jericho’s guitar. He smashed it on the stage and then knocked over all the speakers and stomped on the mic and would eventually run Jericho off with the guitar. Earlier that night Flair informed everyone that his important announcement was officially on hold while he dealt with Jericho.
Scott: On paper this seemed like a top flight match. Flair is one of the greatest ever, and Jericho is in his prime. Well the match was…ok. It definitely wasn’t terrible, but maybe my expectations seemed higher that it would be a four-star affair. Flair is coming off a long layoff and starting with his win over Mr. McMahon at the Royal Rumble, Flair is slowly getting back into the swing of things. Jericho is on a roll in the ring, having some great matches, although the wins and losses are more on the latter side. He loses to Triple H at Wrestlemania and hasn’t won a PPV match since, but a great Cell match at Judgment Day, a solid match with RVD at King of the Ring, and a nice charisma-driven match with a very green John Cena has put Jericho in a good spot right now. He doesn’t sniff a World Title shot for a while but he does help stabilize the mid-card while there is such an unstable flux in the main event scene. Starting next month that changes but for now the roster is still feeling itself out and looking for where everybody should go. Back to the match, as these two had good chemistry between two guys who can give and take with the best. Flair wins with his patented move, but even he’s in a state of storyline limbo, for now. I may watch this match again with glasses that are less rose-colored, but I still think it could have been better. That said, I am definitely not going to dump on it. Grade: 3
Justin: After an entertaining build centered on Jericho’s jump to Raw and subsequent disrespect of Flair, these two would go out and deliver a solid bout to keep the show moving along nicely. The crowd backed Flair from the start and Naitch would out duel Jericho in the early stages. After Jericho took over he would methodically begin to work over Flair’s back to set up the Walls. Flair would withstand the beating and a neat figure four attempt by Jericho in a cool moment. Flair would end up catching Jericho with a low blow and lock in his own figure four to pick up the surprising win. Jericho’s up and down year continues as he lies down for Flair, but luckily for him this feud was not yet over. The match itself was solid but the grade was bumped by the hot crowd. Grade: 2.5
3) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Eddie Guerrero with a spear at 11:47
Fun Fact: On a recent Smackdown, Edge teamed with the Rock to take on Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero. Edge would pin Eddie to pick up the win and set up the showdown here.
Scott: Here’s a case where two guys who have nothing to do right now are really making something out of nothing. Edge just lost the tag straps with his dream partner, Hulk Hogan. Eddie Guerrero was in that great IC Title feud with Rob Van Dam, and then was palling around with Chris Benoit for a few months. So why not take both of them and make it into a ready-made feud between two young studs? Fair enough, and so our first of many great encounters is really good. Edge has become savvy at adapting to both aerial and grappling technicians. Eddie is a bit of both, on top of having a mean streak that really comes out when he’s a heel. Edge comes out of nowhere to win with a spear and move on, but these two will have more great matches (both singles and tag teams) over the next few months to just enhance their standing. The match wasn’t too long and the crowd (which has been jacked up so far) really helps the energy level too. A great show continues to be great and we move on. Grade: 3
Justin: Despite very little build up, this match was hyped up quite a bit by Cole and Tazz. Cole proclaimed that these two men were the “Future of Smackdown” as they made their way out and both men were clearly on a mission to make that statement come to fruition. You can tell that the run with Angle earlier in the year clearly boosted Edge’s confidence again as he comes out with great charisma and a star aura surrounding him. Eddie would control most of the match while tearing apart Edge’s shoulder with his usual innovative offense. As the match wore on, the two would battle back forth and I loved a lot of the near falls at the end. Edge would survive the shoulder work and drill the spear for the big win. I think Edge should have won with an alternate move since he nailed Eddie with his injured shoulder, but that is a minor quibble. Edge looked like a warrior for eating all that abuse on the shoulder and still squeaking out the win. Eddie puts on another fantastic PPV match as he continues to roll along. These two would top this encounter with an awesome match on Smackdown in September. Grade: 3
4) The Un-Americans defeat Booker T (Booker Huffman) & Goldust (Dustin Runnels) to retain WWE Tag Team Titles when Christian (Jay Reso) pins Booker T after a Test (Andrew Martin) boot to the face at 9:37
Fun Fact: The Un-Americans jumped to Raw from Smackdown along with Chris Jericho on July 29. It was upon this jump that JR began calling them the Un-Americans. Booker and Goldust defeated Storm and Christian on the August 12 Raw to earn the title match here. Christian would pin Goldust in a six man tag a week later.
Fun Fact II: After Booker was superkicked out of the NWO by Shawn Michaels, he looked to his friend Goldust for help in gaining some revenge. After the NWO was disbanded, Booker and Goldust remained a team due to some great on air chemistry that got them fairly over with the fans.
Scott: An unusual pairing has turned into a plucky underdog tag team that the fans are really becoming connected to. Sure Goldust has become a caricature of his 1996 persona, but at the same time Dustin Runnels’ abilities haven’t diminished, and with an established straight man like the Book, we have ourselves a little team that the crowd tries to lift onto their shoulders. In the other corner is the hated Un-Americans of Christian and Lance Storm, both already vilified by the fans for previous misdeeds, now they pool their talents with Test, who like Edge and Eddie was kind of floating around looking for something, and become a pretty hated group. So this match pits the hated unpatriotic champs against the plucky underdogs of the Book and Goldie. The match isn’t terrible, but the crowd clearly carries it with the ebb and flow emotions of heel control and babyface comeback. Test comes out to cost our underdogs the match, but they’ll get their chance again. This is our first “average” match that gets a slight bump due to the hot Long Island crowd keeping it going. Grade: 2.5
Justin: The unusual team of Booker and Goldust actually got quite over with the fans and get a nice pop as they enter here. Booker has floated down the card since early in the year and after a brief NWO run, he settles into the mid card for the rest of 2002. While this team may have been a step back for Booker, it was clearly a step forward for Goldust and he took advantage of the opportunity by showing great fire and energy here. Storm and Christian were a good little heel team and they use basic heel teamwork to ground Goldust with a strong heat segment. The crowd was into things during the beat down but the hot tag was more lukewarm than anything, surprisingly enough. They would amp it back up for the finish though as a title change felt possible. Things took a turn for the worse when Test came in to take out Booker and give the champions a cheap win. I liked the Booker & Goldust team and it will be fun to watch them gain popularity and momentum as the year goes on. The Un-Americans remain champions and continue their stranglehold on the division. This match was just basic tag fare with a hot crowd and solid work. Grade: 2.5
5) Rob Van Dam (Szatkowski) defeats Chris Benoit to win WWE Intercontinental Title with a Frog Splash at 16:30
Fun Fact: Chris Benoit defeated Booker T. on the 7/22 Raw to earn a shot at RVD the next week. Benoit would get an assist from the ropes a week later and steal the IC title from RVD. Later that week, Stephanie McMahon officially announced that she had signed Benoit and Eddie Guerrero to jump from Raw to Smackdown. Benoit showed up with the IC belt in tow, infuriating Eric Bischoff. On August 15, Stephanie McMahon chastised her new assistant Dawn Marie for handing some important papers to Stacy Kiebler the week before. It turned out that Stacy was a mole working for Eric Bischoff and Raw. The papers were a copy of RVD’s contract that showed he was due a rematch. Once the papers made it to raw and Bischoff, the rematch was set for Summerslam. Stephanie was upset because she wanted the IC title to remain on Smackdown and now the two brands would be battling over it at Summerslam.
Scott: This match is a tough one to read. On paper you think “Holy shit, five stars and plenty of technical moments we’ll talk about for years”. Now again, these are two guys who are marvels between the ropes. Then you watch it, and you go “Why is this not blowing me away?” Well first off I think 16 and a half minutes is a bit long. Of course these two guys can go that long but why force them to if you’re not sure how it’s going to look? Benoit hasn’t wrestled a singles match on a stage like this in over a year so he may still have a little rust. Also when he was hurt he was a babyface in the storyline with Austin so he didn’t have to dictate tempo as much. Now back being a heel he has to dictate the pace with his punishing style. Van Dam really is turning into tenderized beef during this stretch. He took a good shellacking from Eddie Guerrero for a couple of months, then the green and powerful Brock Lesnar and now the Wolverine. Van Dam wins this big match which sets him up for a big push, one that will cause a storm of critics and controversy involving others on the roster. This match would probably have been more exciting if maybe five minutes were hacked off of it. Still a great match with a favorable grade, but just like Jericho/Flair you go in with crazy expectations and come out feeling somewhat empty. Grade: 3
Justin: Our next match was a dream match come true for some hardcore fans. Chris Benoit has now been back for just over two months and he was as crisp and hard hitting as ever. The bout had a methodical pace early and the crowd actually started getting a little restless. Benoit would trap RVD in the crossface, but he would survive it and the two would trade some good near falls. RVD sold like a champ for Benoit’s stiff offense, as expected. Benoit worked the arm and shoulder to set up another crossface attempt, so the psychology was well done. After a fight over another crossface, Benoit crushed him with three Northern lights suplexes. RVD survived those as well and really looked like a warrior as the match rolled on. The crowd got into it as it wore on and the pace picked up as the match turned into a slugfest and a war. RVD pulled out the win, but it seemed more like he survived it than won it. Both men looked good, but I felt a little disappointed by the match. It may have to do with my lofty expectations but I felt like the match didn’t really get cooking until it was about to end. RVD’s push would continue and he would take a big step up next month while Benoit found himself involved with an old rival. Grade: 3
6) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Test with a Tombstone at 8:18
Fun Fact: On the 7/29 Raw, the Un-Americans quickly made their presence felt by jumping the Undertaker after a match with Christopher Nowinski. After taking Taker out with a Conchairto, Test grabbed a mic and announced “here lies your American Badass!” After avoiding Taker and landing a couple of cheap shots, including a win over Taker in an eight man tag,, Test officially got his goal accomplished: to goad Taker into a match at Summerslam. On the 8/19 Raw, Taker came out and talked about his ties to America and the love of his country, essentially turning himself face in the process.
Scott: Now here’s a case where you look at the two men and give hardly any expectations and they surprise you. Taker has really gotten back into a nice groove since the Invasion storyline ended almost nine months earlier. He turned heel, went on this “respect” kick and surprisingly started putting good matches on again. He and Rock had a surprisingly decent match at No Way Out, and it went from there. OK, the Triple H hiccup at King of the Ring needs to be noted, but it wasn’t that either guy didn’t try; they just didn’t mesh well at that moment. Taker then was part of that awesome triple threat match at Vengeance, and now you can see the motivation to put on great matches all the time. I don’t think Test was ever a bad wrestler, even during the Invasion he was given a pretty good storyline of being accused of being the “mole” when he wasn’t, then turned anyway. Now he’s part of the hated Un-Americans faction, and about half an hour after screwing Booker T & Goldust out of the tag straps, goes face to face with the American Bad Ass, now back to being a full-blown face. He started to turn after that Raw ladder match last month with Jeff Hardy. Usually a big character change leads to another big character change, which is where our next match comes in. This match was a typical power match but Test really held his own and may have had some legitimate chances of winning the match, but alas the Tombstone prevailed, a move he had gone away from a bit when he changed his persona, and had replaced it with the Last Ride powerbomb, but he brings it here and puts the big Canadian away. Not bad, but the crowd couldn’t spike the grade for this one like they did for the Tag Title match. Grade: 2
Justin: After an eight month run as a heel, Undertaker is back to hearing the cheers of the fans. Well, he was actually still cheered as a heel so it wasn’t much of a change, but he is back to being a face nonetheless. Upon jumping to Raw, the Un-Americans targeting Undertaker for flaunting “American” in his nickname. After weeks of sniper shots and a Test pinfall victory in an eight man tag, Taker would have a shot at revenge here. Despite being in a mid card match, Taker busted it here and worked hard to keep the pace up. Test would use his basic power offense to keep Taker down and control the match, looking for a career making win. It would slow down a bit with Test in control, but he still looked good here, especially when he impressively kicked out of the chokeslam. Storm and Christian would run interference but Taker easily swatted them off. Test used the distraction to drill Taker with his big boot and nearly steal the win. Taker would recover and drop Test with a Tombstone to a huge pop. I didn’t really care for Taker taking out the whole group in just a few seconds, but as we will see next month, he was being set up for a big run so I guess he needed to look strong. Nice effort from both men and Test put on a good showing for himself in a marquee match. Grade: 2
Fun Fact: At Vengeance, Shawn Michaels persuaded Triple H to go to Raw instead of joining his ex-wife on Smackdown. The next night on Raw Eric Bischoff, nervous that the old DX buddies would take the show over, tried to force a wedge between them by asking Shawn Michaels to be Triple H’s manager, knowing that Shawn would decline that and Triple H may get offended. They exchanged some interesting looks, but later in the night they came out full DX music, t-shirts and pyro. Triple H does the old school “Let’s get ready to suck it”, and then he turned around and Pedigreed Michaels to the shock of the crowd. The next week he said that he and HBK were not really friends and that they used each other to get to the top. Suddenly someone comes out and whispers something in his ear. Triple H runs backstage to the garage area and Michaels is on the ground bloodied, and next to him is a car with a big bloody hole in the driver’s side window. Triple H said he would turn over every stone until he found who did this. Two weeks later on the 8/5 Raw HBK and Triple H have a face to face where Michaels shows camera footage that it was indeed Triple H that smashed Michaels face into the window. Triple H does that classic shot where he spits the gum out, looks up at the camera and smiles in heel delight, saying Michaels was weak and not the Showstopper anymore. Michaels says the doctors told him he would be ready by say….Summerslam? Triple H wanted the match but Bischoff said with all the animosity behind it the WWE wouldn’t sanction it, so they made it an unsanctioned street fight. It was assumed that this would be Shawn Michaels’ final match.
Scott: So the Heartbreak Kid makes his first in-ring appearance since getting KO’d by a Steve Austin stunner and a Mike Tyson right hand in Boston four and a half years ago. Is he rusty? Can he hang with a bigger and much more seasoned Triple H? No doubt about it. Sure the street fight stipulation helped it a bit, but there’s no doubt that Shawn Michaels waited for this moment to shine on the big stage again. There’s a different sense about Shawn here though. Gone is the crybaby asshole backstage who pouted when he didn’t get his way. Gone is the head of the Clique who would only make his “boys” look good and fuck everybody else, like Bam Bam Bigelow and Dean Douglas, if they didn’t like it. Gone is the Shawn Michaels who would make asses out of people and make shoot comments when they were not prudent. Since leaving full-time in 1998, Shawn Michaels changed his life, his religion and eliminated almost all of his vices. His lowest point came in 2001 when he was slated to make a big splash for Wrestlemania XVII in Houston, but he showed up to a Raw completely out of it on painkillers. He then lashed out at best friend Triple H and called him a traitor and backstabber. Well Shawn from that point on cleaned his life up, apologized to his friend and came back. Now the whole NWO thing was kind of a mess but that wasn’t really his fault, after Nash popped his quad it was pretty much dead. So now after a violent heel turn by his “friend” Triple H we have a full blown fight at Summerslam. Both men were sure to tear the house down and Shawn was ready to reclaim his throne as the “Showstopper”, the “Main Event”, and the “Icon”. I think more than the match itself I loved the fact that Shawn was going to spare no expense to get the crowd completely off their rocker. So he lays a prone Triple H on the announce table, climbed a pretty tall ladder and did the patented Shawn Michaels elbow right down. The Nassau Coliseum was going absolutely crazy, and Michaels had officially gotten back into everyone’s heads as a bona fide all-time superstar. Now the question is was this it for him? Was this just one match to get the heel turn over on Triple H and let Shawn have his last moment in the sun? Some thought so, but why bother with Triple H crushing HBK with the sledgehammer after the match? Why leave something open-ended if the word was this was a one-time thing for HBK? So clearly he wanted to get back in the fold in some permanent form. Shawn will be gone for a bit to sell the sledge and somehow figure out what’s next. Another question brought up by some is that why did this match have to be this good? Did these guys go overboard for their own egos? Was this another situation where the Clique got what they wanted? That’s bullshit. Two guys wanted to bring the house down in front of a rabid east coast audience. Also takes the pressure off Brock Lesnar to have to deliver on his first real main event match. Sure he was tangling with the Great One, but still the pressure’s there on the second biggest show of the year. Yes I defend this match to the hilt because for me it’s on the top five list of the greatest ever. Grade: 5
Justin: Over four years after his last match, Shawn Michaels returns to the ring for a match. This was something many fans gave up on after 1999 when it was reported that Michaels would never wrestle again. He did have one street fight during his time off. The match took place in the TWA, the promotion Michaels ran in conjunction with his training camp. But this match was slightly different as it was on PPV and in front of millions of fans. The storyline coming is was great as Triple H stabbed Michaels in the back to finally turn heel. Michaels wanted revenge, but Bischoff forced it to be in an unsanctioned format to prevent any liability to Raw. Michaels accepted and it was on. The bout had a big match feel, as expected as it just never seemed possible even six or seven months ago. After the build up this also felt like a real blood feud and match. Michaels lets loose early and dominated Triple H with his speed and quick strikes. Once Hunter took over, though, he viciously worked over the back that had forced Michaels into early retirement. Hunter would methodically destroy the back with some nasty offensive moves. Michaels was valiant as he hung in there and the crowd rallied him the whole way. Eventually, Triple H was busted open with a nasty blade job and the final portion of the match was a bloody war of attrition. Michaels looked like a warrior as he got his revenge with a brutal beatdown as the match wound down. Michaels pulled out all the stops and they hit a cool table spot going into the finish. Michaels would eventually reverse the Pedigree and roll Hunter up to pick up the feel good win. The good feelings would be short lived, though, as Triple H drills Shawn in the back with the sledgehammer while he celebrated. We still weren’t sure if the feud would continue or if Shawn could wrestle again at this point. Now, this was an epic match with both men busting their asses to put on a classic. However, I do have a few points that I want to hit on. I feel like the match was a bit too long and a bit too much, especially the crazy table spot. The Michaels comeback story was big enough in its own right that they could have toned it down, shortened it and told just as great a story. But, at the time, it was clear that this could be a one time only deal for Michaels. That point was hammered home on commentary and it looked like Shawn was going all out just in case it was his final bout. So, I can’t really fault them for going balls to wall and include a wild table spot and all the blood. I enjoyed the heck out of this match and when you take it in context, it is that much better. Michaels would take some time off as he healed but he will be back soon. Triple H is back on the heel side of the fence and things take an interesting turn for him in the coming weeks. Grade: 4.5
*** The Fink comes out to brag a bit and to buy the crowd some time to cool down. Fink had recently been trying to wrest his lead announcer position back from Lillian Garcia with a series of misogynistic verbal attacks. Everything came to a head on the August 5 Raw when Fink and Lillian had an in ring confrontation. While they were arguing, Eric Bischoff’s thugs Three Minute Warning hit the ring to end the nonsense. Fink quickly shoved Lillian into their awaiting arms and headed for the hills. 3MW didn’t care who they assaulted, so they laid out Lillian with a stiff Samoan drop and top rope big splash. Lillian would be out of action until this show. Also, we will elaborate more on 3MW in an upcoming review. Now, moving on to this show, Fink was in the ring rambling on when he was interrupted by Trish Stratus. She came out to defend Lillian and started getting into it with Fink. The distraction allowed Lillian to sneak in from behind and drop Fink with a low blow, gaining her revenge. ***
8) Brock Lesnar defeats The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) to win WWE Undisputed Title with the F-5 at 16:01
Fun Fact: This match was set up last month when Rock won the Undisputed title from the Undertaker in a triple threat match. Lesnar earned the title shot by winning the King of the Ring. This feud really got cooking on the August 1 Smackdown when Lesnar distracted Rock during a tag team match, allowing Chris Benoit to pick up a submission win on the Champion. The following week, Brock took on Hulk Hogan and defeated him cleanly and definitively with a bear hug. After the match, Brock hammered Hogan with a chair, busting him open. Brock then took some of the blood and smeared it on his chest. It was a big time win for Lesnar and the image of Brock with Hogan’s blood on his chest would become one of his most famous. That match would be the last time we see Hogan until early 2003. The following week, Brock would pick up another dominant win over Rikishi and the show would end with a staredown between him and Rock. While the build up was basic, the real story was told in expertly done video packages. The packages highlighted Rock and Brock training at home and putting over their strategies and athletic backgrounds. The videos would see Rock training in Miami, running the steps at UM and training in the gym, while Brock was training in hills of Minnesota. They were really well done and made the match feel special and like legitimate major title fight.
Scott: Our main event is the coming out party. The biggest criticism that came from this was that how someone who had just made their debut in March suddenly does become the Undisputed Champion? Easy, it’s time to move on. I continuously talk about how 2002 was a year of transition and flux. The anchors of the “Attitude Era” were getting up there in years and it was time to find new blood to help build the next era of WWE programming and talent. Triple H and the Undertaker weren’t going anywhere. But Steve Austin is clearly out of the picture on a regular basis, Mick Foley isn’t around, and the Rock is thinking about other things besides wrestling. Shawn Michaels’ status was still up in the air. So it’s time to dip into the minor leagues and what has been procured from the closing of WCW and ECW and see what can be done. They do have some established stars like Rob Van Dam and Booker T to help move around the cards. Then you have the real young pups being groomed for the future, like John Cena, Batista, and Randy Orton who had cut their teeth in OVW and pretty soon will be inserted into the mix. But Brock Lesnar had that something that Vince always liked: A big chiseled physique, a big power moveset and a nasty heel disposition that the fans could develop into a babyface. So why not roll with it and let the young guy get his chance as the Champion? Now I mentioned in my Triple H/HBK comments that Lesnar could relax in this match because Michaels and Trips won them over with the match of the night, plus Rock is of course a capable guy who could just go along with a match, oversell the power moves and make the great babyface comebacks. So Lesnar hits the F-5 and we have a new Undisputed Champion. The crowd was really into this one, but it’s worth noting because Rock was really getting the boos in this one. Sure he got them against Hogan at Wrestlemania, but he was facing a legend. This time he was facing a clear heel, but the lousy sharpshooters and the punch-punch-punch wasn’t working against a guy with big power moves and a crushing bear hug. So Rock was booed badly and it would serve him well when he came back at the beginning of 2003. So there’s a new kid on top of the mountain, and what does this mean for WWE? We will soon find out. Grade: 3
Justin: Since his debut in March, Brock Lesnar has destroyed everything in his path en route to winning the King of the Ring and being named number one contender. After a month of interesting build, the match was finally here. The hype surrounding this match was tremendous and it had a big time legit fight feel to it. The training videos were awesome and we get to see condensed versions before the match. Rock gets a big pop when he enters, but those cheers would be surprisingly short lived. Brock started of fast with his power offense and it was then that the crowd quickly turned on Rock as Lesnar really started to dominate. After Brock tossed him around a bit more, Rock started to make a strong comeback but the crowd was squarely against him now. Heyman would run some interference, but Rock was still able to lock in the Sharpshooter. With the crowd rallying him, Brock broke loose and the pace continued to be active and upbeat. Fortunately, Rock had some experience in this role and quickly began to heel it up out there, working in a low blow and some great facial expressions. Rock would also plant Heyman through a table with a Rock Bottom in a great spot. He would follow with a Rock Bottom on Brock and that seemed to be it before Brock barely kicked out in a tremendous near fall. The crowd was rocking at this point and came unglued when Rock somehow slipped out of an F5 attempt. Brock recovered, caught Rock and planted him with the F5 to pick up the huge clean win and his first championship. The F5 has been booked as an invincible move since Brock’s debut and the legend grows here. This was a massive win and a felt like a true changing of the guard as Rock passed the torch of the Attitude Era to the new torchbearer of the next generation. Rock proved again why he is the man by laying down and putting Brock over clean as a sheet. He now disappears for a while, but will pop back up early in 2003. For now, we have a new Champion and a new face of WWE. Grade: 4.5
Scott: The streak continues as we’ve now had five straight great Summerslams dating back to 1998. Top to bottom this show was really good, with a great balanced undercard, a five star classic (at least in my opinion) and a transcending main event. The crowd really deserves a lot of credit for the energy of the show, as they were into almost every match from beginning to end. I think a lot of it was due to Shawn Michaels’ big return and the possibility of this “Next Big Thing” winning the Undisputed Title. The undercard matches were very good, even if a couple were held to very lofty expectations by yours truly. This was a big show for the WWE at that time because the past few shows were average to great, however the writers/management were still a little unsure how to organize this whole brand split and who belongs where. A huge move is made soon that will really separate the two shows and cause a firestorm of debate on two fronts. The undercard is full of such talent, but with the brand split there will be more new faces as the current crop slowly find roles and move up ladders. Guys like Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Test and Edge look for their own niche, Triple H takes a complete 180 degree turn from his return in January, and now Shawn Michaels is in the mix, at least we think so. Another great Summerslam top to bottom, but with a new champion, and fresh character changes, the future is a little unclear. Final Grade: A-
Justin: We have chronicled many “changing of the guard” PPVs in the past and Summerslam 2002 is another one to add to that list. The Attitude Era has been slowly dwindling as many of the stars from that era started to disappear, as did the bloated fanbase and ratings. With Steve Austin and Mick Foley gone, the other major face of the Attitude Era lies down and passes the torch to the future. From the opener through the main event, this show rocked the whole way through and the crowd heat was great from start to finish. The card was loaded up with some great matches and everyone worked hard. I also want to commend Michael Cole and Tazz once again as they were phenomenal in calling their matches and telling the story of the match. They did a great job with their first PPV main event as well, adding a lot to the big time feel of the title match. Overall, there isn’t much to complain about here at all as this is definitely one of the best overall Summerslams in history. The winds of change have blown and a new era is upon us…the question is will it bring the same popularity and heights of the previous generation? Only time will tell. Final Grade: A
Runner Up: Shawn Michaels & Triple H
Non MVP: Booker T. & Goldust
Runner Up: Chris Jericho