Smackdown – April 11, 2002: Save Us Brand Split!

Date: April 11, 2002
Location: Tucson Convention Center, Tucson, Arizona
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

This is a request I got months ago and I’m able to get at it here. This would be just after Wrestlemania 18 and HHH is world champion. He has a match tonight against Angle which is the only thing I can see on this card worth watching. Actually scratch that as we have Edge vs. Jericho too. Let’s get to it.

Here’s Angle to open the show. He complains about Hogan getting the title shot at Backlash because no one wants to see it. Taz agrees with Kurt but the rest of the people don’t seem to think so. Angle talks about being in the Olympics and beating Russians and Iranians tougher than Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik. On top of THAT, Angle was left out of the #1 contender’s match on Raw, so there’s no shot for Angle for a long time.

Kurt says he’s better than anyone on Raw or Smackdown and he’s going to prove that tonight in his non-title match against HHH. Angle gets annoyed at the WHAT chants (oh, he has no idea what’s coming does he) and thinks the fans are just rude. Back when he was in Atlanta, the people had respect for him, unlike here in Tucson. Angle says that instead of saying WHAT, the fans should say IT’S TRUE. Guess what they chant every time he says this?

Edge finally pops up to calm Angle down because he’s “fun-loving” now. Apparently Angle busted him open with a chair last week. I miss the vertical name graphics this show used to have. Edge says that Angle winning a gold medal was inspiring, it was breath taking, and it was SIX YEARS AGO. However, since Angle doesn’t have a title match anytime soon, how about they have a match at Backlash? Angle is cool with that and the deal is made. Edge says it’s a date (and that Angle doesn’t hear that very often). He has an idea too: how about instead of chanting WHAT, they should chant YOU SUCK.

Post break Angle is in the back when Jericho comes in. They talk some trash about Edge with Angle saying there’s nothing he hates more than a loud mouthed blonde haired Canadian who dresses like a rock star. “Well except for you. You’re cool.” They agree to form a pact against Hogan and Edge.

Hurricane vs. Tajiri

Tajiri is very evil here and has his girlfriend Torrie Wilson in a very discreet kimono. Hurricane blocks a wheelbarrow suplex and armdrags Tajiri out to the floor for a BIG flip dive to take over. Back in and Tajiri rolls through a sunset flip and kicks the green out of Hurricane’s hair before dropping a knee for two.

The handspring elbow misses and Hurricane heads to the floor, only to be taken down by a quick rana from the apron. Back in again and Hurricane hits one of his own, only to miss a charge in the corner. The Tarantula doesn’t work so there’s the Eye of the Hurricane for two. Not that it matters as Hurricane gets his head kicked off for the pin.

Rating: C+. This is what Smackdown was known for back in the day: fast paced and exciting matches. Tajiri and Hurricane were two guys you could throw out there for something like this and have an entertaining match because both guys were young and talented. That’s something you almost NEVER get today because you don’t have quick matches which don’t mean much like this anymore. Now everything has some bigger purpose and it’s kind of tiring.

Post match Tajiri yells at Torrie for no apparent reason until Billy Kidman runs out for the save.

Stacy goes to look for Vince but finds an empty office and a couch. Apparently Vince is hiring an assistant or something tonight.

Albert vs. Scotty 2 Hotty

I believe this is the debut of Albert’s (Tensai) small black trunks which don’t work that well on a monster. This is also Albert’s re-debut as a heel after he turned on Scotty last week. Albert goes right for him to start and pounds on Scotty in the corner. I don’t see this lasting long. The slingshot into the bottom ropes gets two but Albert misses a charge into the corner. After a token dropkick and WORM attempt later, it’s the bicycle kick (Brogue Kick) and chokebomb to complete the squash for Albert.

Post match Rikishi makes a save, setting up a match which never happened on Smackdown.

Vince finds Stacy and we get the innuendo you’ve known to come and tolerate from the boss. The auditions for the assistant’s position are in the ring later tonight.

In the back, fashion consultant Rico makes fun of Maven until Al Snow, Maven’s trainer, makes the save. Billy and Chuck pop in to tease a brawl.

Hogan says he wants one more run but HHH is very awesome. Trips is a tough dude for coming back from such a bad injury and beating Jericho at Wrestlemania. Since you can’t say someone’s name in wrestling without them appearing, here’s Jericho to say Hogan has nothing to lose, but HHH has everything to lose. Hulk starts a-ponderin’.

Edge vs. Chris Jericho

Edge is on the brink of something huge at this point so the solution was to put him against guys like Jericho and Angle who could make him look awesome while making him look WAY better in the ring than he was capable of on his own. It’s a tested philosophy and it’s worked nearly every time. The pop for Edge is great here as the girls and the young adults go NUTS. I was a big Edgehead back in the day before he became the more famous version of himself.

Jericho takes over with some chops against the ropes to start but Edge comes back with a spinwheel kick and a faceplant to take over. Chris is sent to the floor and onto the announce table with Edge pounding away. He’s much more aggressive than he used to be, but somehow he’s fun-loving now. Back in and a top rope crossbody gets two for Edge but Jericho comes back with a clothesline to take over.

After choking on the ropes and the running crotch attack in 619 position, Jericho gets two off a suplex. This is a weird period for Jericho as he was still a former world champion but he was crushed so badly at Wrestlemania that it basically knocked him down into the upper midcard. This put him in a no man’s land between the main event style and midcard style and it didn’t work well at all. Edge comes back with a whip into the corner and both guys are down.

Edge starts his comeback with some clotheslines but a middle rope sunset flip is countered into a Walls attempt which is countered into a rollup for two. Edge hits his half nelson facebuster but here’s Angle for unseen interference. A spear puts him down but Jericho hits the bulldog, only to have the Lionsault hit knees.

Edge hits a catapult to send Jericho into the referee, meaning there’s no one to see Jericho tap to the Edgecator (kneeling Sharpshooter). For reasons I’ll never understand, Edge lets it go instead of cranking on it until the referee wakes up. Jericho goes to the floor for a chair but gets speared down for two. Angle snaps Edge’s neck over the top rope, allowing Jericho to get a rollup with tights for the pin.

Rating: C. This wasn’t bad but Jericho didn’t do much for me at this point. He was still smooth in the ring but this period of his career is always pretty lame for me. It would turn around in a big way in 2004, but that would be nearly two years away. Edge looked good and it’s definitely not a bad match, but it never got that far off the ground.

Post break, Angle and Jericho beat up Edge in the back until Hogan makes the save to set up a tag match.

Time for Vince’s job interviews. He sends a stereotypical secretary and a man away before getting a somewhat decent looking blonde. There’s a desk in the ring and all that jazz. The fans have no tolerance for this and wants puppies. Vince says this chick can have the job unless someone has an offer he can’t refuse. Cue Stacy (in Ms. Hancock attire) and one table dance later she gets the job.

Post break we meet Reverend D-Von who asks Vince to be his benefactor to save the world from its sins. Vince agrees, oddly enough. D-Von as a preacher went nowhere but it did accomplish one major thing: he debuted a helper a few weeks later. The helper’s name: Batista.

We go to the parking lot where Mark Henry is going to try to hold back a limo with his legs only for thirty seconds. Wrestlers take bets on it because they’re not important enough to be on the show otherwise. Test is going to be behind the wheel of the limo which is about the extent of his talents. Henry holds it back but after thirty seconds, Test keeps on the accelerator, making everyone mad at him. Test? Being a jerk? Really?

Al Snow vs. Chuck

Let’s get this over with. Snow gets stomped into the corner but comes back with a cross body for two. Rico gets involved quickly to let Chuck take over with a clothesline and a pair of suplexes for two. Snow makes a quick comeback and loads up the Snowplow (scoop brainbuster) but Billy trips him up. Maven chases Billy away as Chuck gets two off the Jungle (super) kick. Snow pops up and Snowplows him for the pin.

Rating: D. Next. No seriously, get me to the next thing on the show. There’s nothing to talk about here.

Hogan comes up to HHH in the back and offers to have his back in the main event if Jericho interferes. HHH reminds Hogan that they’re fighting in ten days so he wants nothing to do with Hogan. The champ (HHH) rambles on for a bit about what it means to be champion and turns heel for the sake of this feud. They have zero chemistry together but whatever.

Kurt Angle vs. HHH

Non-title. They trade headlocks to start with no one going anywhere at all. A quick Pedigree is loaded up but Angle reverses into a sunset flip, with the trunks being pulled to the side in the process. We head to the floor with Angle sending HHH into the steps to take over again. Kurt rolls some Germans back inside and adds a belly to belly for two more. Angle tries a sleeper for a bit but gets suplexed down and DDTed for two.

The high knee puts Angle down but Trips charges into an elbow in the corner. This isn’t exactly riveting stuff. The spinebuster hits for two on Angle as Jericho pulls the referee out. Angle gets caught in a Pedigree but Jericho breaks it up by hitting a Lionsault on HHH, which presumably would hurt Angle as well but whatever. Hogan comes out for the save and after a beatdown he takes out both villains. A Pedigree is enough to finish Angle.

Rating: D+. This was another slow and not very good match. They had already had their big showdown at No Way Out and HHH was an even bigger star now than he was then, so what were we supposed to think was going to happen here? The match wasn’t terrible but it was pretty lackluster stuff.

HHH glares at Hogan for coming out but gets knocked into Hulk, triggering a brawl. Hogan lays out HHH (shocking no?) but gets beaten down by Angle and Jericho to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. I’ve seen worse, but thank goodness the Brand Split would kick in full soon after this. At the end of the day, Hogan vs. HHH was a very uninteresting feud and it was backed up by feuds such as Albert vs. Rikishi and Snow/Maven vs. Billy and Chuck. We eventually traded that in for Guerrero, Benoit, Chavo, Mysterio, the rookie monster Brock Lesnar, and this kid named Cena who would debut soon. See why Smackdown in 2002 was so revered?

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