History of Survivor Series Count-Up – 2002 – The Elimination Chamber (And A LONG Rant)

Survivor Series 2002
Date: November 17, 2002
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, New York
Attendance: 17,930
Commentators: Jim Ross, Tazz, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler

Well, it’s a completely new company now, with the primary difference being the brand split. Also, HBK is back, having one final match at Summerslam and now another one final match here tonight. Tonight has no Survivor Series matches but we do have the debut of the Elimination Chamber. The other major difference is the reigning WWE (yes E instead of F) Champion Brock Lesnar, who has absolute taken the company and the wrestling world by storm as he won the title at Summerslam.

Rock is now gone off to Hollywood to make I think Rundown. HHH is heel now and is the reigning World Heavyweight Champion. The rest of the card really doesn’t look like much at all. We have a lot of the new guys that would come to define this era now, such as the Guerreros and Mysterio. This is of course most famous for the end of the Elimination Chamber, but maybe the rest is good too. Let’s find out.

First of all, the theme song for this show is Always by Saliva, which is my all time, undisputed favorite song, so I’m already loving this show. As tends to happen with the Brand Split shows, there’s no intro video and we head right into the first match.

Bubba/Spike/Jeff Hardy vs. 3 Minute Warning/Rico

This is an elimination tables match. Bubba and Spike come out to another Saliva song, as they might as well just have been the official band of the company at this time. That’s fine with me as I like them. They sucked in concert though, but the tickets were 15 dollars for three bands and they were certainly worth five bucks. Anyway, Bubba and Spike are the Dudleys now as D-Von is a preacher on Smackdown with a deacon named Batista.

Three Minute Warning is more commonly known as Rosie and Jamal, who is more known as Umaga. Rico is the, shall we say, flamboyant guy that just showed up earlier in the year. These guys are fighting for no apparent reason other than they’re a team feuding with another team. Jeff is there…well I doubt he knows why either. Three Minute Warning beat up Jeff and Spike on Raw apparently.

Bubba is wearing a black vest/shirt and camouflage shorts so he looks stupider than usual. As the match starts we get to the high spots as Bubba launches Spike at the big guys but they catch him. Bubba assumes the position and they set up Poetry in Motion for Jeff who is as far in the air as I can ever remember him getting. That looked SWEET. The what’s up hits on I think Jamal as they have to tag in this? I’ll never get the point in having tagging in gimmick matches like these. It just makes no sense.

The point of the match is to put people through tables yet you can get disqualified? Yeah that makes zero sense. Bubba gets a table set up in the corner which gets Spike head rammed into it. Rosey dives at Spike but misses so he goes through it himself, which doesn’t count because he wasn’t put through it by an opponent. We’re already in a spot fest here which is what this should be. I can’t imagine any of them being able to work a long term match so this is the best thing they could have done.

Spike is taken out by a double powerbomb which makes sense as he tends to just suck most of the time anyway. If he wasn’t such a strange character, Rico could have been something special. From what I’ve read he’s a great cop though so that’s a good thing. He had a real job to fall back on which is something I completely respect.

After a brief exchange of power between the faces and the heels, we move out into the crowd. Rico shouting at Jamal to get Bubba makes me chuckle. I love how again they’ve just said screw the tag rules and are going insane after about a minute into the match. All five guys are back together again as JR is all of a sudden stunned that a Hardy and a Dudley are working together.

Jeff climbs way in the air and hits a swanton through Rosey through a table off part of the set. Again, the high spots are making this one work. Everyone but Hardy is back in the ring now. Rico goes for a moonsault but seems hesitant to actually jump. He turns to look at the other side of the ring and clearly can be heard and lip read saying Jeff come on dang it! Oh that’s just great Rico. Naturally Jeff shakes the ropes and Rico goes down about a second later.

That was just completely horrible and inexcusable on Rico’s part. I know Jeff is the one that missed the spot, but there had to be another option. Rico as a heel could act like he has another idea, or he could pretend to slip, or he could pretend to be scared. There’s a ton of other options besides exposing things like he did. The faces start their comeback with Jeff leading the charge. I wouldn’t have believed that he would one day be a three time world champion.

Considering what I’m watching, that’s just weird to type. Jamal puts Jeff through a table but for some reason they say it was Jeff messing up that caused it. Jeff messing up? NO WAY. It’s completely stupid because a second later, Jamal goes to the top and splashes Jeff through the table. Well that was a waste of time but it was a cool looking spot. Again, I couldn’t have imagined that these two would have a rather lengthy feud over the IC Title in the future.

That’s why you pay attention to the midcard and openers: you never know when they might be having decent matches in the future. The splash was sick at least. So we have Bubba against a future IC Champion and the guy that was John Cena’s old tag partner in OVW (talk about two careers that went in opposite directions). Bubba counters a hurricanrana attempt by Jamal into a powerbomb through the table so we have Bubba and Rico. Yeah this isn’t interesting anymore.

Three Minute Warning come back and beat the heck out of Bubba, but D-Von runs out in Dudley gear to reform the team. He beats up both big guys on his own to set up the 3D on Rico to a MASSIVE pop. This was when the Dudleys actually meant anything. Bubba, after getting help on a 3D which took awhile to set up, is surprised that D-Von is there. That makes no sense but ok.

Rating: B. From a technical standpoint, this match was crap. However, considering what it was supposed to be, this was great stuff. It was mainly high spots and violence, but that’s exactly what it was supposed to be. The crowd was WAY into the reuniting at the end, so they’re fired up, meaning this match has more than done its job.

You have to consider what kind of a match you’re watching. Not everything is going to be like Savage vs. Steamboat, but a lot aren’t supposed to be. I think that’s a mistake a lot of people make when grading matches and it’s not a fair comparison to make. Considering what this was, it was great.

Stacy is at the World, which is the new name for WWF New York since they couldn’t just call it WWE New York I guess. She looks as amazing as ever, showing off her perfect stomach in a nice blue number. She’s Test’s PR person at this point, meaning she says testicles a lot. She introduces Saliva who sings Always, making this segment awesome. They’re at the club, so that’s a very nice touch.

This is spliced together with short highlight packages of the feuds for this show. Also, the singer, Josey Scott, DESPERATELY needs to grow his hair out again. He has it really short now and it looks freaking horrible. This looks like a decent performance. Why in the world weren’t they this good when I saw them? This song set to the HHH vs. Shawn feud is great for some reason. They’re doing a concert at the club and as they go into Click Click Boom we go back to the arena.

Cruiserweight Title: Jamie Noble vs. Billy Kidman

This was around the time where the belt meant absolutely nothing at all. More or less there would be a challenger of the month and someone would get a big non title winning streak against the champion, which would Noble in this case. Kidman beat him in a non title match of course, because that’s just how things are done. No one cared about the title at all and the way it wasn’t built up at all was living proof of that.

Naturally, this is going to be the match of the night because these guys are going to go nowhere and having no storyline whatsoever other you pin me, I pin you, we get a PPV paycheck because of it. Oh yeah Noble is with his girlfriend Nidia at this point, who was a co-winner of Tough Enough. Both have just terrible music that’s so painfully generic. Tazz says Noble has something up his sleeve, despite him not wearing a shirt, meaning he has no sleeve. That’s not my insight or joke.

Those are the exact words he said. Amazing. The crowd is deader than Noble’s career at this point. Kidman goes for the shooting star (Both Bourne’s and Lesnar’s are better. I don’t mean the botched Mania one, but the one in OVW. Go look it up. It’s RIDICULOUS. He just jumps into the air and hits it halfway across the ring. It’s one of the truly mindblowing moments in wrestling history), but Nidia pulls him out.

Shockingly, once the match picks up, the crowd is alive. All of a sudden this is good. Kidman hits a forward DDT off the top rope but somehow only gets a two. Since Noble is the champion he has to respond. So he sets Kidman on the top rope for a spike DDT. Think of the thing Orton does when he puts someone’s feet on the middle rope and DDTs them, but a rope higher and a shorter guy so it’s at an even sharper angle. DANG my mouth just fell open.

That looked awesome and it got a great reaction. Naturally it should cripple him so it gets a two and within fifteen seconds Kidman is back in control. And you wonder why these guys get criticized. After a brief comeback, Kidman hits the shooting star for the title. Well that was abrupt to say the least. I really hate Kidman’s bad rap music.

Rating: C+. Well the beginning flat out sucked. After about two minutes though, they just went at it and it got good. The lack of pins when they should have happened hurt things a bit though, or at least Kidman being in control after a sick DDT fifteen seconds later is just stupid, but other than that, this was fine. It’s not great, but it did what it was supposed to do.

Benoit and Angle argue over who the captain is. Benoit is breaking the rule of wearing your own brand’s shirt means jobber. Angle has reached baldness at this point. After they stop arguing, Benoit sticks out his hand, but Angle hugs him. The look on Benoit’s face is breathtakingly funny.

Jericho, rocking a three inch minimum beard, is getting ready. We’ve seen RVD do this earlier in the night.

Crazy Victoria gets in an argument with her mirror that she shatters. Victoria as a psycho is one of the sexiest gimmicks of all time, hands down. King and Ross debate this as Always plays so this is great again. We recap Trish vs. Victoria which is something about Victoria being held back by Trish, with part of the package being set to a rip off of the Psycho theme. How awesome is that?

Women’s Title: Victoria vs. Trish Stratus

This is hardcore rules. Sadly Victoria just has generic rock music here instead of All The Things She Said, which fit her so well. They really were nailing music around this time. How did they mess that up later on? Trish’s music just plain works. This might as well just be billed as hotness in a ring as Trish is of course gorgeous and I’ve always had a thing for Victoria. I think it’s the jet black straight hair, but that’s just me I guess.

They fight with a broom and for some reason I feel like I’m watching some kind of screwed up ballet or interpretive dance thing. It’s just odd indeed. Lawler implies that Victoria is ugly. What the heck? I mean, yeah Trish is likely prettier but that’s like saying Ted Turner isn’t rich compared to Warren Buffet. Turner is hardly a poor man. Granted he probably got close with how much WCW lost but whatever.

There are people walking in front of the entrance which is again across from the cameras and it’s rather distracting. Let’s fight over an ironing board because there’s nothing weird about having one of those in a match at all. The “ugly” diva is bleeding from her nose. How in the world is she supposed to be ugly? She’s GORGEOUS. Heck I’d even say she’s a knockout. That was dangerously close to being clever. Trish gets a kick to Victoria’s boob. Lucky foot.

Since no one noticed that the kick missed apparently, Trish just does it again which looks stupid as it makes you think that something was wrong with the first one. For some reason the way JR is talking about the women using things on each other makes me think I’m watching a porn movie. Actually that’s not a bad idea. Victoria wins out of absolutely nowhere with a snap suplex. That again just came out of freaking nowhere. More Victoria bashing as she leaves which is just stupid.

Rating: C-. This was…different. It was ok but it just wasn’t what these two likely should have been in. I get the hardcore aspect given Victoria’s character, but this never had the right feeling to it for me. It wasn’t bad, but it just didn’t feel right if that makes sense. They looked good, but just not in the right place. I have no idea what I meant by that so don’t bother asking.

Booker is getting ready as we hear more Always.

Bischoff is talking about something when Big Show comes in and says he’ll be sorry for trading him. Why? For winning a title on another show? How does that prove anything? Whatever.

Brock (who gets a pop) and Heyman are in the back also, with Heyman being nervous. Brock has a broken rib (more on that later) which explains the nervousness.

We recap the feud with Brock and Show, which doesn’t really exist. Brock had won a feud against Taker and Show beat up Taker, which somehow got him a title shot. The idea is simple: Show is too big for Brock to throw around like he has done to everyone else.

On Smackdown, Brock had called out Show and beat the living tar out of him with a chair. The chair actually looks tiny between these two, despite Brock not being incredibly tall (6’2). Heyman and Brock had been showing signs of tension, more or less giving away the ending to this match already.

WWE Title: Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

Show’s stupid outfit of choice around this time was the singlet top and long black pants. Not tights mind you, but pants. And people wonder why this guy is criticized like no other main eventer ever. Show has some arm injury or something. Crowd pops like nuts for Brock. He’s more or less a face already at this point so we were just waiting for Heyman to screw him over.

With Brock it’s a classic case of someone that’s supposed to be a heel but is just such a freak that he gets wildly over anyway. The crowd is completely for Lesnar here with a big chant for him starting about eight seconds into the match. The thing is, I don’t know if it’s pro Brock or anti-Show. Big Show is probably at the worst stage of his career here as he just completely and utterly sucked.

No one, I repeat no one, wanted to see him here to do anything but make Brock look awesome, and that’s why he’s here. Think about it: what better way to make Lesnar look great other than to have him throw around the biggest guy in the company? Show starts off with his standard offensive strategy of “let’s do as little as possible but try to make it seem like I’m doing a lot because I’m so freaking fat.”

Naturally, it doesn’t work as Brock just spears him in half. Shame he didn’t do that more often with the Vikings. Show just looks idiotic dressed the way he is. It looks like he’s getting dressed for his job as an accountant or something like that. When Vince wrestles dressed like that, it looks fine because he’s not a pro wrestler and more or less is just a street fighter in a wrestling ring. Show is a multi time world champion. See why that’s stupid?

Lesnar actually gets a decent belly to back. I say decent because it sucked but Big Show is more or less dead weight because he’s spent three minutes in. Lesnar makes up for it with a German. That was nice. My goodness Show is horrible. I mean seriously, all he’s doing are forearms, bad punches and weak kicks. Brock is legit hurt here and is doing 99% of the work, mainly because Show is spent.

Following a ref bump, Lesnar gets a fine (given the circumstances) overhead belly to belly on Show. This guy is legit scary. Despite his client kicking Show’s face in all over the Garden, Heyman throws in a chair and you can see it coming a mile away. Show is back up and breathing in enough air to suffocate the first nine rows. Brock gets his chair shot punched and more or less says boy please by cracking Show over the head and F5ing him, in something that just blows my mind completely.

He’s legitimately hurt, and he pulls that off. I mean just DANG. Here’s your other referee, and here’s your Heyman heel (I guess) turn to go with it. Cole’s commentary is bad to put it mildly. The look on Brock’s face is scary. I mean really scary. He chases Heyman but gets nailed with the chair and chokeslammed on it, and Show wins the title as the fans are mad. I don’t mean mad because the heel won, but mad in the sense of who freaking booked this because we want them shot.

This was less than four and a half minutes, actually making it one of the shortest world title matches where the title changed hands in history. Heyman and Show embrace as Show looks stupider than usual somehow. Cole saying that it’s surprising because Lesnar and Heyman have been together since Brock got there. That’s about seven months if you’re counting. The heels run to their waiting limo and leave naturally as we get the second replay of this.

Rating: D-. This is a tale of two ratings here. Lesnar gets a pass in every sense of the word here. I mentioned the ribs being a point of interest. They were injured by Show at a house show because he wasn’t safe in the ring at this point. Lesnar was supposed to go over Show here but because of the injury, the freaking Big Show gets the belt. I’ve never seen a main event guy that flat out didn’t deserve it as much as he did here.

I mean he was just flat out embarrassing out there. It was nothing but punches and forearms, while Lesnar can barely breathe because his bones are in pieces and he’s out there throwing Show around, yet he’s the one that has to lose the freaking belt because Big Show, the fat tub of goo that he is, injured him and there’s no other way to go.

THANKFULLY, Show was champion for a month as he dropped it to Angle at the next PPV, leading to the absolute classic of Benoit vs. Angle that happened at the Rumble. I can’t wait to get to that one. Anyway, Show sucks, Lesnar is the freaking man, end of story.

We go into the recap of the three way feud between Edge/Mysterio, Angle/Benoit, and the Guerreros. More or less, Angle and Benoit won the inaugural tag titles in a tournament (Billy Kidman and John Cena were partners. How weird does that sound?) beating Edge and Mysterio in perhaps the best tag match of all time the previous month.

Edge and Mysterio took them from them in a 2/3 falls match on Smackdown. The Guerreros are there…well because there was nothing else for them to do I guess. The main thing here is Angle and Benoit are arguing over who the captain is, but when they get in the ring they’re so awesome that it doesn’t really matter.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Benoit/Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Edge/Rey Mysterio

Rey is still more or less a rookie at this point. This is elimination rules also. Al Wilson and Dawn Marie, who are engaged, are at ringside. This was a disturbing angle, but it led to a lesbian angle with Torrie and Dawn Marie, so it’s awesome. Al might have been the first WWE TV character to actually die. That’s saying a lot. The intros take forever as Benoit, Angle, Edge and Mysterio all have their own entrances.

Edge is getting all kinds of pops, as is Mysterio. That’s saying a lot considering Benoit and Angle are far bigger stars. We start with Benoit and Mysterio. That’s fine by me. Cole calls the match where Edge and Rey won the titles historic. Why? It was a 2/3 falls match and while it was good, I’d hardly say it was historic, but it’s Michael Cole so just a bit over the top is good for him. Angle gets another great pop as the crowd is white hot for everything here.

Eddie and Chavo are both cowards of course. Imagine if Edge and Mysterio were midgets. Chavo would be running for his life. Rey comes in and gets things going much faster which is what you need him to do. Eddie is just a midcard guy here and wouldn’t get a real main event push for a little over a year. Anyone can tag anyone here, making this very interesting indeed. This is a really fast paced match which makes sense given who’s in there.

Kurt slams his shoulder into the post as hard as anyone I’ve ever seen. That was painful looking. This is another of those matches that is hard to make fun of because it’s good so far. Angle was back to being goofy at this point which hurt him a bit, but it worked in the ring still. He puts a front facelock on Rey, which after eight minutes at that pace, I think it’s ok for a short break.

As soon as they break that up, Kurt and Rey crank it right back up again and the crowd is right back into it. That’s a good sign that the crowd stays with you. Angle goes for the tag but Eddie and Chavo hit the floor as Edge comes in. Edge and Kurt had been feuding for awhile now with Edge, resulting in Angle’s lack of hair. Angle counters the spear into the ankle lock and Benoit adds the crossface for the double submission attempt.

Rey hits a springboard seated senton to take out Kurt and then a dropkick to take out Benoit. Chavo pulls Angle to the floor as Rey hits the ropes and launches a corkscrew over the ropes to take them both out. Benoit starts the rolling Germans but on the third one, Eddie comes off the top with a sunset flip to Benoit who doesn’t let go of Edge, resulting in Benoit being in the sunset flip and Edge being suplexed at the exact same time.

Beginning with the Edge spear and ending with the kick outs from Edge and Benoit, that took about thirty seconds and was possibly the most exciting thirty seconds in the history of the Survivor Series. I was in absolute awe of it and that hardly ever happens to me. That was absolutely epic. Within seconds, and by that I mean like two, they’re going again, this time with Benoit beating on Edge even more.

He goes for the headbutt but Eddie hits the Frog Splash, but Benoit hits the headbutt to break up the pin. Before anything else can happen, Angle runs in and puts the ankle lock on Eddie while Benoit has the crossface on Edge. Chavo brings the belt in which is something that I hate. It was one of the fastest paced and flat out entertaining matches I can ever remember seeing until then, but I guess it fits the gimmick.

Benoit thinks Angle hit him because he took the belt from Chavo. Benoit and Angle get into it, allowing Rey to hit Benoit to set up for the spear, eliminating Benoit and Angle. They lay out the champions before leaving in an argument, which sets up their best match of their absolutely epic series at the Rumble. Wow once they left the life got sucked out of this thing. I’m thinking one fall might have been the way to go here.

Rey comes in with a springboard cross body so high you would think he was Jeff Hardy. Edge spears both guys in the corner at once to set up the worst move ever: the Bronco Buster. It doesn’t hit which makes me cheer. Rey hits the 619 but Chavo hits the belt shot to the back which makes Rey tap to the Lasso From El Paso, which is more or less a weak Boston Crab. I’m really not wild on the standard cheating to win the belts here at all.

This could have been great and the first half was, but sadly this was the end of the greatness that was the early days of the WWE Tag Titles. Within less than a year we would have teams like Haas and Rico and Rikishi and Scotty winning the titles. The belts became jokes of course because Vince can’t allow any great wrestling on any show period, because it might make them realize that half of the stuff he’s got is just flat out terrible.

Rating: B. This is another tale of two matches. The first half, which is with Benoit and Angle, was some of the most entertaining, breath taking fast paced greatness that I’ve ever seen in a tag match. The part after that could have been an example from a book called How to Have a Boring Title Change.

I mean there was nothing that would have kept that part from being on any run of the mill TV show or house show for that matter. That’s how typical it was. From what I’ve read, this match was blown out of the water by the No Mercy match which had no Guerreros in it, so that’s on my short list of must see matches.

Chris Nowitski, a Harvard graduate and Tough Enough guy that could have been a decent midcard heel if he hadn’t gotten injured. He has a degree from Harvard though so I think he’ll be fine. He got a bad concussion at a house show and was forced to retire. He now does a ton of great work studying the long term effects of concussions and does special appearances for WWE.

It looks good for a guy like this to be on Vince’s payroll, as it shows he’s actually caring or at least pretending to care about the long term health of his workers. Anyway, Chris cuts a decent anti-New York promo here. Considering he had been in the company about five months at this point, he wasn’t half bad. He never would have been anything great, but he could have made a pretty good manager or commentator, something along the lines of Matt Striker.

Actually, as I’m writing this it’s 3:30 AM on September 25. meaning to me it’s still Thursday night. It just so happens that Thursday the 24th was Chris’ gimmick that I’ve always loved. I have no idea what it was, but I loved it. What I could make of it was that he more or less started a cult/fan club, with his opening video being set up to look like a website, complete with really funny factoids on the side, traditionally two per entrance.

Tonight we learn that “Matt keeps the room temperature at a toasty 75 degrees” and “Matt only drinks lowfat chocolate milk.” This gimmick was one I always liked, which is saying a lot as there’s not a lot of them that I like. This one is unique to say the least though. He teases being a face by asking Chris who he thinks he is because apparently Chris didn’t insult New York strongly enough.

Matt’s promo is about as good as Chris’, which means that it’s a failure. Chris is a rookie and Matt is a veteran, meaning that it’s ok for Chris to be below average, but not for Matt. This was pretty weak, but as they leave we discover the point to this as Scott Steiner debuts. This was a bit of a surprise, but he had been on Confidential, which was one of the Saturday night shows that started off as great and wound up sucking, the night before saying he was a free agent.

This would lead to a bidding war between Raw and Smackdown, eventually won by Raw and leading to perhaps the worst match ever with him and HHH at the Rumble. He just happens to be in his gear for no apparent reason and beats the heck out of both heels without saying anything at all. Oh dear Scott Steiner has a live mic. Oh good it’s just his catchphrase. Anyone that doesn’t believe steroids happen in wrestling, just look at this freak.

Terri is with Shawn (who has the stupidest looking haircut of all time) as he’s talking about why he believes he can win the title when we have BREAKING NEWS from RNN. This was a short term gimmick that the newcomer known as Randy Orton was doing. Orton, with some fairly long and messy brown hair, talks about how he came to Survivor Series, but don’t worry, because the flight didn’t hurt his shoulder any worse. Keep sending those get well soon emails!

We get a clipped down version of the video earlier recapping the feud. The basic idea is HHH vs. Shawn vs. four other upper midcard guys that have a prayer, but it’s highly unlikely that it’s going to end with anything other than DX exploding. Remember, this is Shawn’s 3rd match in nearly five years, if you count the Mania match against Austin. That’s ridiculous to say the least. Part of this feud was the great moment where Shawn came out in a wheelchair and got up to kick HHH’s face in.

HHH gets interrupted by Coach who is just a freaking moron, at least on camera. HHH actually says that the other five guys are some of the best in the world. That’s saying a lot coming from him. He says he has a first class ticket to a very warm place and the only question is who is coming with him. That’s almost a great line.

Bischoff comes out and walks us through how the chamber works and how deadly it is. If nothing else it looks awesome. The match isn’t weak at this point like it’s become now. The day before I got to this part, the announcement was made that No Way Out will be turned into another theme PPV about this. I really hate that. Hearing the words Elimination Chamber used to be a big deal, but now it’s just a cliché. It’s far worse with Hell in a Cell though.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Chris Jericho vs. HBK vs. Booker T vs. RVD vs. Kane

This is in the Elimination Chamber. If you didn’t know that by now, then PAY FREAKING ATTENTION YOU IDIOTS! Jericho is out first, which means that he and the other three after him will be in the pods. For those of you that have never seen one of these matches, the idea is fairly simple despite looking complex. You have a massive cage around the ring complete with a metal floor so in essence there’s the ring itself and then another area around it in a circle.

Behind each of the four ring posts there’s a smaller chamber with a person inside of it. We being with two men in the ring and four in the pods. After five minutes, another man is released. It’s pinfall or submission, last man standing wins. Jericho’s entrance is awesome as he’s using a Saliva song, and as he comes out we cut to the World where Saliva performs it live. That’s very cool when you think about it. Booker is next.

He’s here…uh…actually I have no idea why he’s in this. I guess because he’s a big name. He would feud with HHH heading into Mania, so I guess I’d call this a tryout in the main event scene for him. Jericho lost the title to HHH at Mania so there are his credentials in case you were wondering. Ah Booker pinned HHH in a tag match a few weeks ago. It’s better than no explanation I guess. Kane is third. I don’t think he really needs an explanation.

There’s actually four faces and two heels in this match, which is odd indeed. This was during the time where Vince came up with the BRILLIANT, YES BRILLIANT I SAY idea of unifying the midcard titles with the singles titles, so for about eight months there was no Intercontinental belt. Kane was the last champion before losing it to HHH a month or so prior to this, which I guess is why he’s in here. Shawn is fourth, to a solid pop.

He’s wearing brown tights. Yes I said brown. Two things about his entrance: JR says who else could this be? Well JR I don’t think Shawn sings anyone else’s music so I’d guess it’s him. Also, Fink introduces him as HBK: Shawn Michaels. I’ve never heard him called that. Ross is mentioning all of the wrestlers’ records at this show. Kane is 4-1 and Shawn is 5-5. Dang that’s a lot of Survivor Series appearences.

That leaves us with RVD vs. HHH to start, which sounds like a bad recipe for alphabet soup. Flair cheated RVD out of his title match at Unforgiven, so this is technically his rematch. Allegedly the chamber weighs ten tons. I could see it being 9.97 tons but not ten, there’s just no way. Flair is with HHH as that little thing called Evolution is on the horizon. In an interesting stat, HHH is 0-6 coming into this Survivor Series.

That’s quite surprising and a stat like the Streak that just kind of sneaks up on you. Yeah Evolution debuted February 3, 2003, which was my 15th birthday for those KB enthusiasts out there. There’s the bell and we’re on. Or is it off? For the absolute life of me, I don’t get why Vince refused to push RVD. Madison Square Garden is cheering for him so loudly that it’s hurting my ears. But since he’s from ECW, that’s the only reason he’s being cheered. It couldn’t be talent or anything like that.

Less than a minute in, they’re out on the area between the pods outside of the ring. This really is a cool looking structure. We have our first bloodshed inside of two minutes. With HHH on the cage floor, Van Dam does Rolling Thunder through the ring and then over the top. That was very sweet looking. Van Dam is beating the heck out of HHH here. He goes to climb one of the pods but Jericho literally pulls him partially into it, getting his leg inside. That was cool looking.

They beat on each other some more, which is the polite way to say that Van Dam is massacring him, as Jericho is the third man in. After some generic fast paced stuff, we get what’s likely he most famous spot of the match, as Van Dam jumps at Jericho but instead of hitting him, grabs onto the cage in mid air, sticking to it “like Spiderman” as everyone on the planet said, but Ross gets credit for.

It gets more cheers from the crowd, but that doesn’t mean anything at all because Van Dam just isn’t capable of carrying a crowd, because they don’t know what they want as much as Vince does. We get another famous line as Ross says these men are playing Russian roulette with their careers. Jericho shouts that he’s the king of the world. I didn’t like him in Titanic and was glad when he sank.

Lawler points out that HHH craves to be champion. Wouldn’t that mean that he’s content at the moment? Booker is in third and also gets a big pop, but he couldn’t be champion either because HHH gets better heat than he gets pops, so naturally HHH has to go over him too.

As was mentioned in my Summerslam 2002 review, this was a period of time in HHH’s career where all the criticism of him comes from as he simply wouldn’t lose to anyone, no matter how big of a star they were unless their name was Shawn Michaels. Booker comes in and kicks everyone half to death but before he can go back for the other half, we have a Spinnerooni.

He and Van Dam go at it for a bit as we hear again about how Van Dam is like trying to pour smoke through a keyhole or whatever that expression is. Why do commentators always misuse the word literally? It’s really not that hard to get it right at all. Can Booker do anything other than kick people? That’s all he’s done in this match so far. RVD goes for the Five Star but goes up to the top of the pod and comes off with the splash, or at least he tries to.

The problem is the ceiling curves up to a point so there’s nowhere for him to jump, so more or less he falls on HHH. Van Dam’s leg lands on HHH’s throat and we go to a wide shot so we won’t see the referee throwing up the X. It was legit, so Booker hits a top rope dropkick (shocking isn’t it?) for the pin on Van Dam as HHH tries to breathe. He would have to take some time off because of that injury actually, so it was kind of serious.

The fans boo Van Dam’s elimination out of the building, but he’s not over at all because Vince has decided he’s not, and Vince is never wrong, right? Jericho and Booker try to buy HHH some more time by chopping the heck out of each other.

Kane brings some needed fresh blood into this match. This was probably the hottest period of his career other than his debut, and if they were ever going to put the belt on him, it likely should have come around this time, maybe in the spring after Mania. Alas, it would never happen and ONCE AGAIN they just turned him into a monster with nothing even remotely resembling direction of any sort. I hate that.

The guy is a former world champion, he’s big, he’s strong and he’s over, but we can never put the belt on him. Guys like RVD and Booker are both incredibly popular here, but neither would get the belt for almost five years from this point, or six years after they debuted. Benoit wouldn’t get the title for over four years and the same was true for Eddie. However, someone like Brock or Taker can come in and within a year be world champion.

It continues the long running theory I have: if Vince didn’t create them, he’s not going to push them. That’s why it annoys me when we see guys like Santino and Hornswoggle on TV all the time. Vince created them, so he’s going to push them down our throats until they get over or we stop complaining about them.

Instead of putting someone from outside of the company or someone that came up with the gimmick on their own that’s actually interesting, we get stupid things like Cedric the Entertainer and Al freaking Sharpton. Oh yeah Vince, keep up that in touch booking that you just love to do. And people wonder why the company nearly died in 2003. Anyway, Kane uses his standard stuff to beat on Jericho and Booker for awhile as HHH is still down.

Jericho starts another bad tradition in gimmick matches by being the first person to be thrown through the “bulletproof” glass. I can’t stand when they overhype stuff like that and then just completely destroy the mystique of the thing. In reality, Jericho would be cut to pieces here and likely in need of a hospital. He’s bleeding to an extent, but it’s far from horrible.

HHH is back up as Jericho, who isn’t dead, gets rid of Booker with the Lionsault after about a minute of rest. Jericho tries to climb a pod and you can hear Kane say where are you going Chris as he grabs him and pulls him down. That’s just creepy. As has been the custom we have two guys fighting and the other two are down. That’s kind of cheap but I can see why they have to do it. Actually I can’t. Why not have more violence?

If Jericho can get up after being thrown through “bulletproof” glass, then the whole pain thing is no big deal. The interval between Kane and Shawn is longer than five minutes to give him less time in the ring I guess. He comes in to a long but not very loud at all pop. Kane takes him down with a clothesline though, so that takes care of that. Never mind as he’s back up. Michaels isn’t quick but he’s sudden. I’ve heard that about a dozen times and have no clue what it means.

Ross lives in his own little world most of the time and I really don’t want to be there. Kane chokeslams everyone but doesn’t cover any of them because that would make sense, and we can’t have any of that of course. He goes to tombstone HHH but is shoved into Sweet Chin Music. He sits up and gets a Pedigree and the Lionsault ends him to get us down to three guys. What follows is more or less just the two of them beating the heck out of Shawn and making him bleed badly.

They also work on Shawn’s back a lot, which at least makes sense. Hey, did you know Shawn has wrestled once in almost five years because he broke his back? I wasn’t sure if you knew that this is Shawn’s second match in almost five years because he broke his back. I just wanted to make sure that it was known that this is Shawn’s second match in almost five years because he broke his back.

Shawn makes a small comeback but gets dropped on the cage floor to end that one. Shawn nips up only to be knocked back down again, which is one of the fastest pops and ending of a pop I’ve ever heard. He kicks out of the Lionsault and you already know the ending, but you don’t want to believe that it’s possible HBK winning the title really would have been a mind blowing thing as he had just come back and it was really considered a short term thing.

Jericho hooks the Walls, but HHH breaks them up for no apparent reason and they start going at it. They beat on each other for awhile so Shawn can rest a bit. I’m fine with that as he has very limited cardio at this point more than likely. Jericho hooks the Walls on HHH but gets his head kicked off and it’s one on one for the title, and all of a sudden it’s possible. HHH uses the spinebuster, which I don’t think had a name when Anderson used it.

I think I remember it being called the Anderson Drop at one point, which I kind of like. Did he really invent that move? If he did, that’s quite cool. Naturally HHH beats the tar out of Shawn even more with a focus on his back. Despite being introduced earlier as HBK, Ross says he’s no longer the Heart Break Kid. Is there a reason for that? To further complete the likelihood that Shawn will win the title, he gets launched through the bulletproof, yes I said bulletproof glass.

Despite being nearly murdered, he keeps fighting. There comes a point where things just get stupid. Also, credit should go to HHH for staying in this, but I don’t get why he stayed in there if he was hurt, given the ending, but whatever. Shawn catapults HHH into the cage to get another break as the fans are in this to an extent but I think they’re just spent at this point as we’re at about thirty seven minutes at this point. For the thousandth time, Shawn has heart. Note to JR: WE GET IT!

In a flat out DUMB looking spot, Shawn goes to the top rope and literally just stands there for a few seconds, not even looking at HHH. HHH clearly gets up, but Shawn goes to the top of the pod behind him and HHH LAYS BACK DOWN to get the elbow. Ok, I get that it’s staged and everything, but give me a break. At least get kicked or something before you go down. That’s just freaking idiotic.

If nothing else it got the fans into it again for a bit, but at this point I think they know what’s coming here. Those brown tights are just moronic looking. Was there some massive joke about wardrobe tonight or something that was preplanned? Between Show and HBK I feel like I’m watching a bad Christmas play put on by an elementary school.

To further stupefy this match, Shawn kicks out of the freaking Pedigree. Ok, that’s it. This is freaking absurd. Ok, I get that Shawn is a big star. I get that Shawn is one of the biggest stars of all time. I get that his comeback here is something that is very impressive.

But to do this now with HHH giving him not one but TWO massive rubs that A, Shawn doesn’t need and B, someone, ANYONE of the other four guys in this match could have made a career out of is without a doubt the most self centered, egotistical thing that I can ever remember seeing. I know he’s a bit better about it now, but this is just more HHH nonsense. If you want to give Shawn the title for the nostalgic run, fine, but dang it give someone else a freaking rub!

Don’t make it look like Shawn, who at this point is a has been off the street (He hadn’t wrestled or trained hardcore in YEARS at this point so he’s starting completely from scratch) is able to not only beat HHH once, but get through Kane, RVD, Booker and Chris freaking Jericho to do it? Are you telling me that you consider them that low on the totem pole Vince?

Yes, Shawn is a bigger star than every single one of them, but to say that he could beat them all in his second match in four and a half years based on sheer will and heart alone is as big of a slap in the face as you can give to those four men that are working hard and getting FAR bigger pops than Shawn has gotten all night long.

Shawn comes in last of course and lays around getting beaten on for most of the match and really just doing jack in this match other than with HHH, so let’s reward him with the belt and another title reign that means nothing while everyone else that goes out there and works to have a good match and get the audience into the show, a.k.a. CARRYING THE MATCH, is just built up to be eventually fed to, you guessed it, HHH.

Of those four guys, let’s see what they would go on to do after this. Booker: feud with HHH, get massive pops, have the best run of his life, and then job to HHH at Mania in a throwaway match. Kane: fed to Batista, ANOTHER musclehead that couldn’t do anything back then. Jericho; fed to Shawn in a good feud. RVD: nothing.

With no IC title to hunt for because HHH has to be CHAMPION OF THE WORLD, RVD just kind of floated around for awhile until getting a tag team with Kane that won the pointless tag belts. Shawn and HHH, who were doing WONDERS for the ratings, (as in taking them to levels of low not seen this millennium) would keep feuding over the belt before HHH fought ANOTHER muscle guy in Scott Steiner for two months in what are considered to be two of the worst matches of all time.

All the while, Benoit and Angle and Lesnar would be having some of the best matches in years on Smackdown and getting NO recognition for it, because they weren’t named Shawn and HHH. I can certainly see where the hate for HHH came from back in the day, as this was nothing but an ego play on his and Shawn’s part. They just HAD to be the center of attention again because they think it’s 1997 again, and Shawn still can’t draw.

Instead of letting guys like Van Dam or Booker or Benoit or Angle, the guys that are getting pops and having great matches, carry the company, we get more “nostalgia” moments that no one wants to see because HHH and Shawn want to clutch to their old spots, and even today, eight days before the Hell in a Cell PPV, they’re still doing it. I really hate them both at this moment, but that’ll pass in awhile. As for the match, Shawn gets up and counters another Pedigree for the kick and the belt to end it.

Rating: B. Despite my longest rant ever here, this was a good match. I HATE the way they decided to end it, but the match and the drama were there. The intervals between eliminations were all relatively long with the shortest being like seven minutes or so, which I like.

It makes it seem like these people are hard to eliminate, which is the point of the match. The wrestling is there, but this is a long match. Next year’s would be too short though, so around thirty minutes is where this needs to go. This was good though, despite my own bias about it.

Overall Rating: B-. As I read on another review of this show, the wrestling is good, the booking is bad. I don’t like using the same conclusions I found somewhere else, but that’s exactly right. The wrestling here really is solid, but the Guerreros, Big Show and Shawn winning just don’t work for me, plain and simple. Luckily for the two singles titles, they only lasted for a month as both changed hands again at Armageddon.

This is a different kind of show, similar to maybe the Rumble with everything leading up to one major match, which is ok I guess. I could easily see some people being bored out of their minds here while others love every second of it. Go find a copy of the tag title match but I’d only watch the first fall as it’s some of the most entertaining stuff you’ll ever find. If you’re a fan of HHH and HBK, you’ll love the main event and vice versa. Overall, it’s good but not great, so I’ll recommend it with an asterisk.


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