History of Summerslam Count-Up – 2002: One Of The Best Shows Ever

Summerslam 2002
Date: August 25, 2002
Location: Nassau Veterans Memorial, Uniondale, New York
Attendance: 14,797
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Tazz, Jim Ross

Another year and more changes have occurred. The main one is simple: the Brand Split. Yes, Raw and Smackdown are now two separate shows etc. However, there is an Undisputed World Champion and his name is the Rock. He’s defending tonight against the greatest rookie sensation of all time: Brock Lesnar. No one had EVER seen anything like Brock and they likely never will. He took the company and the business by storm, winning the shot by beating RVD in the KOTR final.

There were even rumblings that he could actually win the title tonight but that could never happen. What a silly idea. Your other main event is the return of HBK, facing HHH in what is considered a classic. This show is considered to be a rival to Wrestlemania 17 as the greatest WWF PPV of all time, or at least of the new millennium. Now I watched this show a few months after it aired and I remember it being good but not great. Let’s see if this is as good as it’s built up to be.

Oh also, two months prior to this, a new branch of the National Wrestling Alliance debuted: NWA: TNA.

Oh it’s also WWE now.

No opening video this year. That kind of sucks.

Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio

No real buildup here other than they don’t like each other. Given the amount of matches that they have to put together now, that’s the sacrifice that they had to make I suppose. Angle is wearing red and white stripes with a blue star, making him look like a barber pole. This was back when Rey’s knees weren’t falling apart yet and was close to what he was in WCW, which is to say, amazing. This is about as perfect of a pairing as you could want.

Rey is fast enough to wrestle with heavyweights, while Kurt is small enough and versatile enough to keep up with him. Going for Rey’s ankle makes sense as it could ground him and take away his best asset, so what’s not to like? My answer: nothing. This has been a  good match so far. The fans are very hot for this too so that’s always a perk. Rey keeps getting closer and closer here but Angle keeps getting up.

What you have to keep in mine here is that at the time, Rey wasn’t a huge star like he is now. He was a rookie that only had a handful of experience outside of the cruiserweight ranks. Think of him like a better Evan Bourne and think of Angle like Jericho. Imagine Bourne and Jericho opening a PPV and Bourne getting so close every time but just not being able to put Jericho away, but Jericho can’t win either. That’s where you get this match.

These guys are killing each other out there and it’s great, as neither can put the other away. Rey gets Angle on the floor but the referee won’t let him dive. Rey says screw it and jumps over the referee and lands on Angle in a sweet looking front flip (Do a barrel roll!).

619 (which in WCW wasn’t an attack but rather a fake out) and West Coast Pop get two as Rey doesn’t know what to do. Rey goes up top and flips forward to avoid Kurt and goes for a hurricanrana. Angle more or less jumps forward and grabs the ankle. He goes to the middle and just cranks on it until Rey taps.

Rating: A+. Awesome match. That’s the only way to describe this. These two just went out there and did it. This was back when Rey was relatively healthy before his knees just got destroyed. He’s still good now, but back then he was insane. Rey in WCW was the most fun I’ve ever had watching a wrestler.

If you think Bourne is good, Rey from back then would run circles around him. This was as close as Rey ever got to that in WWE, and it was great. Find this match and watch it as it’s absolutely great. Screw it, this gets an A+.

Stephanie is mad that Bischoff is in her office but she agrees to share it with him for the night, as she proves she just can’t act. She does have nice legs though.

Ross and Lawler are talking about the show, but for some reason they had them really far away from the ring back then. It made no sense to me and just looked odd.

Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair

Again, no backstory. We get a clip from them fighting on Raw, including Flair breaking all of Fozzy’s equipment, but it’s never explained why they’re fighting in the first place. This was when Flair was still fairly mobile and not all old and disturbing looking. He was only 52 and still could be decent in the ring. Being in there with Jericho is going to help as Jericho can wrestle Flair’s style, and is smart enough to know how to wrestle a Flair match.

See, Flair is considered one of the best of all time because he knew what he did best and it worked with anyone. Flair had a formula, and all he had to do was plug his opponent into that formula for the majority of the match and then have the finish. This was exactly what he did throughout his career in WCW and it hardly ever failed. Yes, Flair’s matches are pretty standard, but they’re also pretty good. I mean his stuff from when he was in his prime mind you.

Go back and watch some of that stuff from the NWA in the mid to late 80s and tell me if you can find a truly bad match. Now not everything is going to be a classic of course, but he hardly ever had a truly bad match. On the rare occasions that he did, it was because the other guy wanted to run the style of the match, which traditionally meant Dusty Rhodes. Rhodes was notorious for insisting on having his style of match, which worked for him and him alone.

Go watch their Starrcade matches and you’ll see what I mean. It’s just not looking like a normal Flair match and it just isn’t that good. Granted, this could be because Dusty just was awful in the ring as he couldn’t go for more than 5 minutes without resting. He was lazy on a freaking snapmare in that match. It’s one of the most basic moves in wrestling and he’s lazy with it.

Anyway, the point of this rant was that at the end of the day, the reason Flair’s stuff was bad near the end of his career was the matches stopped playing to his strengths and became based on what the other guy could do. Flair made a career out of taking a guy that was good and making him great by making him look great.

Look at Sting. He was a good wrestler, but his rivalry with Flair is where he got noticed, because Flair made him look great. In WWE, Vince didn’t let this happen and it caused Flair to look bad and the guys that were against Flair didn’t look as good as they could have.

Ok, rant over at least for now. Once I get going in those things I just can’t stop. For some reason we don’t have Flair’s normal music. It’s the weird imitation that he had back in 92. We’re a minute into this match and they’re already talking about how he beat Rock and Austin in one night. My goodness that is never going to leave. It’s a huge deal but good grief let it die. The WOOS are loud tonight.

This is a stat that blew me away. Jericho has been around for a LONG time right? He was 2 when Flair debuted. That’s just ridiculous. Flair has been wrestling almost as long as Jericho, a veteran at this point, had been alive. Jericho calls a spot to Flair in fairly obvious fashion. He just leans over and whispers it to him. It’s scary to think that Flair, at 52, has miles better cardio than most of the roster in their 20s and 30s. This match has been very physical to say the least.

There are so many little things that Flair does that show why he’s great. It’s not a bunch of big impressive moves with a few botches here or there. It’s a simple, basic style that has practically zero mistakes in it. In other words, it’s not about what he’s doing well. It’s about what he’s not doing wrong. Then the little things like getting the referee looking somewhere else to use a bunch of punches. He plays to the crowd well too.

How sad is it that so many people today would be clueless about how to do this? We get a cool sequence where Flair goes for the Boston Crab and Jericho gets a figure four, showing how fairly stupid it is to have finishers like that which almost anyone can do. That’s why I like the liontamer, the one with the knee in the back, more. No one else uses it. Apparently over time the amount of points that the figure four puts pressure on has gone from 5 in Gordon Solie’s days to 7 now.

In a brilliant move, Flair grabs the ropes and taps. The thing is, since the hold should be broken, the submission can’t count. That’s a very smart thing to do as it buys him a lot of time. Referee gets a thumb in the eye, or maybe a short knee (rep for the first person that gets what I’m talking about) allowing Flair to low blow Jericho and put on the figure four. Anyone think it’s a bit sexual looking when Flair bounces up and down while in it? Yeah I never thought that either. Jericho taps.

Rating: B. While not as good as the other match, this was still very solid. As good as Flair is though, I’m not sure I’m sold on him practically beating Jericho, who was world champion earlier in the year, clean. It was a very good match with Flair being the better of the two, but still, it just had me kind of wondering.

Promo for Hogan DVD.

Heyman is with Lesnar and talks about him ending Hogan’s career. Lesnar is a freaking tank.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Edge

Dang 3 matches and 6 world champions. Again, very limited backstory here as they just don’t have the time to do it. As awesome as Edge’s old music was, he desperately needs something more hardcore at this point. He’s rocking the glasses and the trench coat though so you can see the future Edge trying to get out. However, in less than 6 months he’d be out for over a year, so that kind of got put on hold.

Apparently Eddie is upset about Edge being popular and a sex symbol (really?). That’s almost creepy given who Edge would be married to on WWE TV. Just as I say that about Edge’s injury, he might have gotten hurt. He has a bit of a stinger according to Tazz, who would know something about having a Steve Borden. If he is hurt, Eddie doesn’t seem to care at all.

In case you didn’t know, Edge is a HUGE face here and way over with the crowd. Apparently it’s Edge’s shoulder….er neck…..maybe shoulder…..can the commentators make up their stupid minds?? Either way, Eddie is crushing him right now. Eddie is just going insane on Edge’s shoulder, so if nothing else we have a simple story going on that works really well. If nothing else, how can Edge spear someone if his shoulder is killing him without hurting himself really badly?

The main thing of this match is nothing more than Eddie working over the shoulder. Frog Splash misses but after a brief Edge comeback including the Impaler, Eddie hits a splash down onto the shoulder. Of course, because he’s the charismatic face though, Edge is able to spear Eddie without his arm falling off for the pin.

Rating: C+. The ending just ruined this for me. I got into Eddie’s shoulder work, but then when Edge more or less no sold it at the end, it was a total waste in my eyes. What’s the point in working an injury and taking away a guy’s finishing move if the other guy is just going to no sell it and use his move anyway? That was just bad and made me shake my head, which sucks as the match was pretty good.

Tag Titles: UnAmericans vs. Booker T/Goldust

Now this was a gimmick that I thought was very solid. Christian and Lance Storm represent the UnAmericans here, with Test being the third member of the trio. In short: they don’t like America. They were given the tag titles but very soon after this the gimmick was just completely dropped. I’ve never quite gotten why though. Either way, the odd thing here was that Booker and Goldust were also a team, yet they have absolutely nothing in common.

Hearing the announcers try to give them something in common really is quite funny. The fact that they’re both from Texas never really seemed to sink in. Either way, they were a fairly decent team, albeit they were far more comedic than serious, but Booker would be pushed towards the title picture soon and then put into a serious team with RVD, so all is good I suppose.

Anyway, on with the match. Hearing Lawler try desperately to make Booker and Goldust pro-America is rather interesting, as he compares them to the Great American Melting Pot without ever referring to it as such. The USA chants are really loud to say the least, so if nothing else the heels are drawing heat like they’re supposed to be. Ross’ repetition is nothing short of annoying.

Goldust hits a Bossman Slam as I try to come up with a connection between those two and it’s not working. We get a classic ref didn’t see the tag spot which needs to be done more often. It’s as simple of a way to draw heat as there is in a tag match. This crowd is HOT. Booker gets his own chant as he’s clearly the big star in this match. We knew he was a big deal, but they didn’t push him as such until March, when he was fed to HHH.

Oddly enough, HHH had everyone on the planet fed to him until tonight when he let Shawn, his old buddy, have a classic with him. It’s not like these jokes have no basis in reality, but I’ll save that rant for later…maybe. Anyway, Booker finally gets the hot tag to a huge pop. He throws chops at Christian so fast that the crowd can’t WOO fast enough. That’s actually pretty impressive.

Booker hits his missile dropkick which would have won him the world title in WCW but since this is the WWF and Christian is for some reason popular, he kicks out at two. It always amazes me how a finishing move can just lose its power over the course of a year. Booker spins up as Mark Madden gets another ego boost.

The faces dominate for a good while until Test runs out and kicks Booker’s head off to keep the titles for the heels. On replay, we see the referee looking right at Test leaving as Booker is left lying. Yeah that makes sense. The Smackdown tag titles would be debuted in about two months.

Rating: C-. This was about as cookie cutter of a match as you could have imagined. While it’s ok, it’s just ok. Booker and Goldust would eventually get the titles later on in January for all of two weeks. It wasn’t bad, but just not great.

Nidia does some stupid thing at the World, which is the new name for WWF New York.

Eric and Stephanie make some stupid sex jokes.

Intercontinental Title: Chris Benoit vs. RVD

This is cross promotional, so we have two announcers which is both kind of cool and kind of stupid. Benoit and Eddie have been jumping rosters lately, going from Raw where he won the title to Smackdown. The US Title on Smackdown was about a year away at this point, so there was only the midcard title on Smackdown. Van Dam kicks the freaking heck out of Benoit to start, so you know this is going to be physical to say the least.

This was a weird time for these two as Van Dam was kind of replacing Angle in the triad of the midcard. You always had Benoit and Jericho, but Angle was always a step ahead of those two, and eventually as he was phased up into the main event, Van Dam was thrown into the middle of the card more or less as an experiment and I’d say that it was a success. Frog splash misses and Benoit gets the crossface, which he locks on for about 30 seconds.

No tap though as we’re really just getting going. Over the course of the next 5 minutes or so, Benoit gets another two crossfaces on Van Dam who STILL doesn’t tap as we’re entering HBK at Mania 12 territories of not giving up. In a nice touch of comedy (in my eyes at least), Van Dam locks in the crossface, at least I think that’s what it is although he never was one for submission holds, on Benoit.

This lasts all of 4 seconds though as Benoit is the master of it so why wouldn’t he be able to get out of it? I’m not wild on the two matches with focus on the shoulder like this, but in this case it makes much more sense with Benoit’s finisher focusing on the shoulder. I guess with Eddie and Edge it made sense due to some psychology being thrown in, but I’m still not wild about it at all.

In something I never once remember seeing before, Van Dam’s hair tie comes undone and his hair is freely flowing. I’ve never seen that before and I really don’t like it. He looks almost like Tyler Reks with it like that, which works fine for the surfer, but it just doesn’t look right on Robbie V. I’m thinking I forgot a Ross joke here. That’s going to bother me now. The ending here is just not that great.

Benoit has a belly to back suplex countered as Van Dam rolls over onto him and lands in kind of a cross body/splash. In a very nice looking move, Van Dam looks down at Benoit from the top rope with Benoit’s feet pointing to him. He turns in the air and lands a Five Star for the pin and the title. Really not huge on that ending, as it’s just kind of there. There’s not a lot of drama as Van Dam just jumps up and hits the splash and pins him. However, a guy winning a title clean is a very refreshing thing to see. There was no interference or anything. Van Dam simply countered and hit his finishing move to get the pin. That’s both good and bad I guess, but the rest of the match was good so I’ll take it.

Rating: B. This was very intense and well done. It’s probably Van Dam’s biggest win of his career up to that point and is probably one of the biggest of his career even to this day, with the world title obviously being ahead of it. He beat Benoit, one of the best ever, clean. If that’s not validation of his ability at least on one night, I don’t know what is. Very good match though and worth checking out.

Stephanie, with those gorgeous legs showing very well, before laughing for no apparent reason at Bischoff bragging. Not sure what this led to, but it might have been the US Title. Actually that’s not it, as the IC Title would soon be unified with the world title, in one of the biggest head scratchers of all time. It would be revived about 8 months later when everyone realized how truly stupid it was, and THAT would bring about the US Title.

We’re getting ready for Test and the Undertaker. JR says a lot of people want to know who the UnAmericans are, why they’re here, and why they’re doing this. In short: Lance Storm, Christian and Test, they’re professional wrestlers and TNA was a baby at this time and since Vince had more or less created a monopoly there was nowhere else to work, and they’re Canadians that don’t like Americans. Why is that such a complicated thing to figure out?

The UnAmericans carry around an upside down American flag to symbolize how messed up America is. That’s either brilliant or really stupid. They keep saying they hate America, so the American tough guy wants to beat up Test. On a side note, William Regal would join them later on. Taker’s punches were called soup bones for no apparent reason around this time, as JR continues to get further and further away from this lovely little thing called reality.

Oh yeah we’re in the Tough Enough era here and Tough Enough 3 was going on. The winner of that was one John Hennigan. You may know him as John Morrison. The other winner was named Matt Cappotelli, and while you may not have heard of him, I was lucky enough to see him in OVW.

He was absolutely awesome and I can guarantee you of this: he would have been either as big a star as Morrison or far bigger. The guy had that X factor to him and you knew he would have been something very special. His retirement speech almost had me in tears. I wish I could find a copy of it.

Undertaker vs. Test

You won’t hear this, but JR says that Test has been living on nothing but potential forever. How true that is of so many workers today. This is part of the UnAmericans vs. everyone else so Taker busts out a hiptoss of all things as he dominates early. The big clothesline hits but Old School is blocked to let Test take over.

Test’s fairly generic big man offense takes over. This is rather slow paced and not very interesting. Taker gets a belly to belly to get out of most of the trouble but an elbow misses. They slug it out which of course Taker wins which lets him get a running DDT for two. Old School connects and the bigger man is in control.

Test’s big boot misses and a chokeslam gets two which is probably the high point of Test’s career. Christian and Storm run in which gets them nowhere. It does however allow Test to get his big boot for two as Test PANICS since the one solid move he knows did nothing at all. He grabs a chair but it gets kicked into his own ugly face and a Tombstone ends it. That was a rarity at this point so it was cool to see. He celebrates with the flag afterwards.

Rating: D. This wasn’t that good. It was certainly more about the angle than the match, and while there are occasions that I’ll make exceptions for that such as Hogan vs. Andre, this isn’t one of those occasions. It’s just not good as their styles were too similar and while Taker is good enough, Test just didn’t care at this point and it shows. Solid angle, bad match, as Test just wasn’t in Taker’s league, ever.

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Taker is just now leaving, so that was an extended celebration I guess.

We start the build for what I think (and yes it’s very debatable) was your real main event. Shawn hasn’t wrestled in over 1600 days. That’s a lot of sleepless nights for Becca. Lawler says that a lot of these people have never seen Shawn wrestle, which means that a lot of people have never heard of home video obviously, or Lawler thinks it’s 1940 and there’s no such thing as taping a match.

In case you’ve never heard it, here’s the basic build for this match. Shawn and HHH were in DX together as you likely know. However, Shawn got hurt and HHH took over DX and became the star that he is today. Now, in the Summer of 2002, Shawn came back for a night, unbeknownst to us, healthy and sober. That night, it seemed to be all about Shawn again, which was unfair to HHH who had actually had a more successful career as far as title reigns and time on top than Shawn had.

That night, Shawn came up with the idea of reforming DX (I want that man shot) and HHH went along with it, or at least he did in the beginning. They do the two words line, but then HHH kicks him and pedigrees him. You can tell this is serious because it goes into slow motion. HHH hits a very weird pedigree as he jumps way too high and it looks like Shawn was countering it with a backdrop.

Anyway, HHH says that Shawn used HHH to get to the top, so now HHH used Shawn to get to the top, which makes even less sense but whatever. Now this is the part of the storyline that I never understood. HHH is cutting the promo in the ring where he says all of that stuff. Ok, that’s fine. A guy gets his attention and says that something happened.

HHH bolts from the ring and goes off to find a bunch of guys around Shawn who is laid out on the ground bleeding and there’s a hole in the window of a car. HHH says he’ll find who did it and when he does, that person is a marked man. Shawn comes back a few weeks later for a satellite interview, and he has the footage from the security camera, and naturally it’s HHH. As I’ve said many times, what’s the point?

For one thing, why wouldn’t it have been HHH? He’s cutting a promo about how he can’t stand Shawn, and since Shawn has been back for all of 2 weeks, why wouldn’t it have been him? Seriously, who else was it supposed to have been? Why wouldn’t they have just shown it being him, maybe ending the show like that, and THEN have the interview where Shawn challenges him for Summerslam? HHH says that he did it to prove a point, which was that Shawn is vulnerable.

Ok, that’s all well and good, but WHY WOULD HE GO ON A FREAKING MANHUNT IF HE DID IT? That makes no sense! What’s the point in turning him heel one week, turning him face for two weeks, and THEN revealing him to be the mastermind for lack of a better term, thus turning him heel all over again? It’s just pure overkill and was absurd. ANYWAY, Shawn says that he’ll be completely recovered by Summerslam. So let me get this straight.

Shawn couldn’t get better from a broken back, which is something that could have paralyzed him, in four and a half years, but if you cut him on the head he’ll recover in less than a month? Are you telling me that all Shawn had to do to completely be healed was cut himself shaving? If that’s the case, Becca might have a fit. This match is non-sanctioned, which Bischoff says means that it never happens. HHH says the logical thing: Oh Eric, but it will happen.

See, that’s my issue with matches that never happen. YES THEY FREAKING DID! When you erase something from the record books, people still remember the matches themselves. That’s why taking down banners for basketball games or erasing wins is stupid. The games were played, and therefore we’re going to remember who won, who lost, by how much, and what kind of shoes they were wearing.

The match not only happened, it happened in a WWE ring, on a WWE PPV, had WWE commentators and had a WWE referee, but people know who freaking won it! The match DID happen, so what’s the point in saying it’s non-sanctioned? If it was non-sanctioned, then this would be happening in a parking lot somewhere instead of in front of 14,000 people. Since it’s not an official match, why is HHH in wrestling gear?

Does he wear that in his everyday life? Is there constantly a referee following him around to check and see if he wants to go for a pin? Does he think he’s Nighthawk and that he’s competing to become Champion of Wrestling (OCW joke for those of you that have NO clue what I mean)? Are you starting to see how stupid this really is? Just call it what it is: a WWE street fight. It sounds better, it looks better, and above all else: IT MAKES SENSE!!!

They get a full music video before the match here, which actually does show off how great of a match this could be. HHH’s line of “YOU CAN’T WRESTLE ANYMORE!” while as corny as it sounds, actually tells the whole story here in just four words.

That’s the sign of a good promo: it sums up everything simply, without having to use a big elaborate bunch of words to fill in time. All that being said though, the buildup had you actually believing that something special was coming, and for those of you that have seen it, you know that it is. For those of you that haven’t, be ready to enjoy.

HHH vs. HBK

Before I begin, one note that I’m likely to forget. In an interview that HHH gave about Shawn and this match in particular, he says that this was a 45 minute match. From what I’ve seen, it clocks in at about 27-30. That’s a far cry from 45 if my math is correct, but I digress. To say the pop for HBK’s music is massive would be like saying Hogan was a little over.

The flashbulbs are going off all over the place as this is actually a very epic moment. It’s not like Shawn was doing nothing when he left. He was wrestling in the main event at a major show as the world champion and he retained. It’s fairly obvious that he would have gotten at least a rematch with Austin at Backlash and likely have been champion again somewhere down the road. However, it’s likely that his addictions would have caused major problems.

Geez I need to stop these tangents. He gets the mega star treatment which he deserves, including pyro, confetti, etc. He’s actually looking like it’s a non-sanctioned fight, wearing an undershirt and jeans. His shirt says Philippians 4:13, which for you football geeks is what Tim Tebow has on his eye black in every games. For those of you that don’t know who that is, watch some real football, not that nonsense they play in Europe and find out.

For those of you that have no idea what it means, it’s a Bible verse that reads “For I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” That makes a lot of sense for this match. Usually I want the face to come out last and get the big pop, but here I think it’s better that Shawn came out first. Also, Lawler says that no one in history has had more charisma than Shawn.

Not sure about that King. I’m thinking of a guy in red and yellow. He posed a lot, kind of made wrestling what it is today. In an odd fact that you may not know, the man who wears red and yellow, despite many tries, has never once beaten Jerry Lawler by pinfall. They fought dozens of times, but Lawler never lost cleanly to him. Dang these tangents!

HHH gets the booing to end all booing. You have to keep in mind: HHH is at about the level here that he’s at today, so it’s not like Shawn was coming back to fight Dolph Ziggler or someone like that. He was taking on one of the very best. Shawn is all calm here, even doing the lay on the rope like a hammock thing. I really like that actually, as it plays to Shawn’s laid back persona that he had when he was at his peak.

If he was all serious and angry that would have made sense too, but I think this actually works a bit better. Shawn starts fast, throwing his PERFECT towel in HHH’s face and punching him. Apparently this is due to his Texas pride. What in the world does Texas pride have to do with this? He jumped him. Isn’t that being a bit cowardly actually? Why am I trying to make sense of something JR said?

Shawn starts by throwing punches for the most part, but within two minutes he launches over the top rope with a plancha, followed by more punches. That’s a very smart idea actually. Shawn has been out of the ring for four and a half years. It’s not like he’s going to be the Shawn that was wrestling just before the injury. He’s going to have a lot of ring rust, so punching makes sense.

Also, it’s a good safety advertisement for kids and adults. Since this isn’t an actual match, it’s not actual wrestling right? Therefore, Shawn not doing a lot of wrestling moves is showing that people shouldn’t try this at home. Now it’s ok to punch someone’s head in, but don’t try to slam them. We get weapons brought in, namely the trashcan of death, as JR talks about Shawn’s son watching at home.

There’s a great parenting lesson: if you’re ever possibly walking into a match where you have little to no chance of winning and could be paralyzed because your pride got in the way of your thinking, make sure your kids are watching, because it could be your only chance to look good for them. Sweet Chin Music misses and HHH lands a backbreaker, which Shawn sells like death, opening the main psychology of this match, which was to be expected.

You know, you’d think that after four and a half years his back would be a bit better. Oh, Lawler has used vintage four times inside of 5 minutes. I wonder if that’s where Cole got it. You can almost see the Harley Race coming out of HHH already as he looks just pure evil. Ross says that WWE has nothing to do with this match as I am fighting from rehashing what I said earlier.

Chair is brought in and cracked over Shawn’s back, but since he has HEART, he can kick out of what would pin others, despite it being his weakest point. JR says HHH is 6’4 and a half and weighs 260, despite him being listed as 272 just 8 minutes ago. I feel like I’m watching a Captain Planet parody with all these heart references. DDT on a chair which should have crippled someone but he kicks out with ease, but he’s bleeding.

Lawler says this match may have been the biggest mistake of Shawn’s career. He hung out with Luna, so that’s a big negative there King. HHH gets the sledgehammer as Shawn fights him off. HHH goes for an abdominal stretch which I’m sure has Gorilla Monsoon complaining in his grave. HHH grabs the rope, which I’m still trying to figure out how that actually adds anything to the hold.

Earl Hebner yells at HHH about it and you can tell he means business because he has a mic on him, but keep in mind: this IS NOT a real match. Shawn gets crotched on the top rope as a little bit of Becca’s soul dies. Another chair shot to the back would normally end anyone else’s career, but SHAWN HAS HEART! I know I’ve made fun of a lot of this, but this match really has been good.

I’m rarely a person that can pick out specific things a guy does in a match, but even I can tell that HHH is a master heel. They do a spot where HHH sets up a chair and Shawn is side slammed through it. Dang . If it broke then it hurts, and if it doesn’t break then it hurts like the 7th circle of torment. We get probably the 5th spot that would kill anyone else, but Shawn has….screw it even I’m getting tired of that joke.

JR says Shawn is limp. I’m sure Becca could fix that. Ok I’ll try to keep the Becca jokes to a minimum now. Shawn starts his comeback in his comeback match by countering the pedigree. The fans are white hot here, even 15 minutes into this. From out of nowhere, Shawn gets Sweet Chin Music into a chair but Shawn is spent, which makes sense. The psychology is definitely here, as it’s always nice to have guys that actually know how to work the mental side of a match as these two do. HHH is busted.

Ok, now this is just getting ridiculous. Shawn has had maybe 5 moves that would have ended any match with ease, including a DDT on a chair, and 5 minutes later he’s fine? Even Hulk Hogan thinks that’s a bit much to swallow from Shawn. Becca says…never mind. All of a sudden Shawn is limping around again, so I guess I can buy the adrenaline excuse. JR calls the chair shot a Jason Giambi like swing which makes me laugh. Of all the power hitters in history he picks him?

The commentators have a crazy idea: Shawn could win. I get that this is supposed to be his last hurrah, but is it that hard to believe? Ok yes it would have been at the time. The fans want tables, so HHH is put on the most famous one of all time: The Portuguese Announce Table! In a weird spot, Shawn pulls the shoe from one of the commentators, which Lawler says is a heel for a heel as I can’t believe he still has a job at this point.

You can say heel but you can’t say belt or strap? It’s ladder time. Dang why can’t it be wiggle time? HHH gets a solid shot right in the hand with it. In case you didn’t know, this is non-sanctioned. Did you know it’s non-sanctioned? I just want to make it clear that this is non-sanctioned. And last but not least, it’s non-sanctioned. HHH busts out a baseball slide as two things happen: he uses a new move so screw you HHH haters, and I am WAY past my record for talking about one match.

You can tell this is a big match as HHH goes up top. Shawn gets a weird float around sunset flip but he shoves himself off at two because the spot looks bad if HHH kicks out on his own. JR randomly throws in how evil HHH is. That is yet another example of why I love professional wrestling. Where else could someone try to cripple you but just a few years later you’re best friends again and fighting on PPV together?

That must have been one heck of a Christmas card that HHH sent him. “Hey man, sorry about that whole wanting you in a wheelchair thing and the attempted manslaughter. Next time we hit Waffle House, you can get a Coke on me.” Drop toehold into the stairs for HHH and we actually get a realistic looking impact. Why are tables such a big deal? It’s not like they’re that deadly.

Wouldn’t it actually break the fall a bit as you have less time in freefall? Shawn comes off with a splash from the top to the floor with a table, which is just cool looking no matter how long he’s been out. The holy crap chants have started, which is fine as this match is awesome. Correction: this match is greatness. There is a difference. The odd thing about that though is that this is really just an extended hardcore match with big names.

They’re hardly doing anything revolutionary, yet the match certainly is great. I think that goes to show just how awesome both of these guys are. They’re taking stuff that we’ve seen dozens of times before but by using storytelling and style, they’re making it look better than ever. Shawn lands the Screw You elbow and bounces up. The old school stomping on the mat clues HHH in to what’s coming and it’s countered into the Pedigree, but Shawn rolls him up to shock the world and win the match.

Normally I would have been for the Sweet Chin Music and the clean pin, but with that we can’t have what follows: HHH drilling him in the back with the hammer to become Satan incarnate. He then does it AGAIN to make Satan look like a baby bunny named Lucy.

Lawler is absolutely losing it in some of the best commentary I’ve ever seen. Ross sounds like any other heinous act, but Lawler is probably at his best ever here. The fans are chanting for HBK, but since he’s not Hulk Hogan, he can’t get up. Shawn is stretchered out as the fans are almost dead silent.

Rating: A+. Holy crap this was awesome. You have to remember, Shawn hadn’t done a thing in nearly 5 years. This would be like Austin coming back and stealing the show and having one of the best matches of his life. Both guys were so on here that it’s not even funny.

Norcal says it’s in the top 5 matches of all time and I’m not sure I can disagree. I might not rank it that high, but dang it was fun. Easily one of the best I’ve ever seen and if you haven’t seen it before, turn the lights out and watch it right now. It’s certainly worth the 30 (not 45 HHH) minutes.

Ok, now I have to bring this up because it was the talk of the IWC around this time. As you know, HHH gets a LOT of criticism for never putting people over and while today that’s complete nonsense, those complaints started around this time and I think that at this time they were completely true. “But KB, he JUST put Shawn over.” Yes he did, but you have to remember that at this time no one, not even Vince himself thought that Shawn was coming back full time.

This was a one off performance and that was it. It’s no different than when Hogan came back and beat Orton and HBK. He had nothing to lose but he didn’t put them over as they needed. It’s no different here. HBK didn’t need to win here, given the circumstances at the time. Yes, HHH put someone over, but he put someone over that didn’t need it. Less than a month after this HHH would be awarded the WHC and after a brief Shawn run HHH would hold it for over 9 months.

In that time he beat everyone and beat them soundly. That right there is where he got the reputation for never putting anyone over, and I think those are valid claims. Prior to this he had won the title at Mania 18 and lost it to Hogan, who was just another nostalgia run like HBK was right here. In other words, for over a year and a half, HHH put over HBK, his best friend, and Hogan, the biggest star of all time.

Starting with the creation of the Undisputed Title in December of 2001 and ending with Wrestlemania 21 almost three and a half years later, the longest HHH wert without being world champion: just under four and a half months. Once the second title was created in September of this year or about 2 weeks after this show until Mania 21 (Batista and Cena winning the world titles): 5 months.

Both of these times he was feuding with HBK for the majority of the time. Therefore, I think there certainly was something to those claims back then that he was either playing politics or hogging the title while refusing to put anyone over, as he was either champion or feuding with HBK.

Since we had an amazing moment, we follow it with a bit that is supposed to be funny. This was the Get The F Out campaign because of those panda lovers.

JR and Lawler don’t think HHH is a very nice person. No valentine’s day cards for them.

Howard Finkel has something to say as we have entered the Twilight Zone. He says that he’s dedicated to the business and while MLB may be going on strike (they didn’t), the fans will always have the Fink. For no reason at all, Trish comes out for this. Apparently….they’ve been feuding?

Like I said in my Smackdown review, it’s kind of awesome hearing Fink’s voice being pissed off. Trish hits on him for some reason. Howard references his penis as my scars are scarred for life. Lillian is behind them and she beats up Fink and leaves with Trish. Aside from having two very hot women appear, this may have been the most pointless segment I’ve ever seen.

We see a promo package on the rise of Brock and how Rock has been training “specially” for this match, which means he’s getting in shape to film the Rundown.

WWF Title: Rock vs. Brock Lesnar

After all that, Tony Chimmel is announcing. Brock’s music is great and Heyman is in his element as the jerk agent. This match was Rock’s very last time being around any title period as he would make one last 3 month run in the spring, beating Hogan and Austin before putting Goldberg over and riding off into Hollywood, only appearing for Mania the next year.

Basically, this was to launch Brock as high up as they could in one match and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done better. Rock was really just a trophy champion at this point, having no title matches and never really being the focus of the show at all. Since Austin was on hiatus at this point, Rock was all they had left as HHH was busy with HBK. They figured they would roll the dice on Brock and just see what happened.

There’s not a lot to say here other than Brock is destroying him. I mean this is almost an extended squash, with the fans all over Rock. It’s a smark crowd so I’m assuming they know Rock is gone after tonight. Either way, Rock is getting booed out of the building here and the fans LOVE Brock, who was turned face about three months later at Survivor Series. Actually it was a bit before, but it was official that night as Heyman turned on him, making Brock face by default.

Brock puts on a bearhug which I kid you not lasts nearly three minutes. Granted, it’s the hug that killed Hogan off, but DANG that’s a long time. After the nap I was taking ends with them finally doing something, they go to the floor and Lesnar is down. During this time, Heyman gets the worst Rock Bottom of all time through the table. Back in, Rock hits the Rock Bottom and Lesnar kicks out because that’s what monster heels do.

He hits his own Rock Bottom which Tazz calls, say it with me, the Brock Bottom, and yes, it is stupider than it sounds. They trade punches with Rock winning and going for the Elbow but Brock pops up to just take his head off with a clothesline. That was one of the hardest moves I’ve ever seen.

We get a great series of near finishers and counters, but Brock lands the F5 to completely shock the world and win the title as the fans go crazy. The ending is really fast with clichéd lines like the next big thing has arrived. I think they were pressed for time or something here because the show is over maybe 15 seconds after the pin without even a single replay.

Rating: C+. This again wasn’t about the wrestling but what it meant. As I said this was Brock’s big moment and they couldn’t have put him over any stronger if their lives depended on it. He dismantled Rock and made it look easy. Of course they would screw this up royally by putting him with Big Show who would injure him at a house show because he was too fat for Brock to throw around without hurting himself.

Scratch that. Brock could throw him around, but Show just sucked badly at this time. Either way they had no choice but to give Show the belt in an angle that was just horrid as it made Brock look pretty weak. Also, less than two weeks after this the Undisputed belt is made exclusive to Smackdown which I think is what Stephanie was laughing about earlier.

Anyway it leads to HHH being given (literally) the World Heavyweight Championship which Shawn would win at Survivor Series in the first Elimination Chamber. Dang I got off topic again. Anyway, Brock was awesome, Rock put him over and bailed, and Austin was long gone, so Brock is officially a big deal.

Overall Rating: A+. This show is awesome, but HHH/HBK should have gone on last, plain and simple. It was by far and away the bigger story and got more attention. Also, after that match, the fans weren’t spent but they weren’t as alive as they could have been for the title change.

Other than that, I don’t have any issue with this show. It’s solid all around with nothing bad on it at all. I’ve heard it compared to Mania 17 and while I don’t think it’s better or equal to it, it beats anything for second place at least off the top of my head. Highest recommendation all around here.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews

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