On This Day: July 4, 2002 – Smackdown: FOR AMERICA! And Canada!

Smackdown
Date: July 4, 2002
Location: Fleet Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

This was a requested show and I don’t really know of anything significant on it other than one match which really wasn’t anything special. Anyway, we’re just barely into the WWE era at this point and we have an Undisputed Champion. Oh wait if that’s the case I think I know why this was a requested show, other than the date that is. Let’s get to it.

We open with a video of Edge talking about getting hurt in a cage match with Angle. He said he’ll be back and that’s tonight. Jericho came out and laughed at him about it, triggering a brawl. Jericho cracked the shoulder with a chair. Later in the night (or month, it’s not really clear) Jericho was about to do the same to Hogan when Jericho’s own music played. Edge came out for the save in his return. You would think this would lead to a match tonight or at the PPV, but it actually lead to a match at the Smackdown after the PPV, which is a little weird.

I miss the Beautiful People as Smackdown’s theme.

Oh I almost forgot: this is right around the time the company switched from WWF to WWE.

Lillian Garcia sings America the Beautiful. Lance Storm and the UnAmericans cut her off and I think I can hear Finlay being fired from here. Christian asks if the people know why Independence Day is celebrated. It wasn’t the day Will Smith defeated a bunch of aliens you know. Storm tells us what happened back then and about how the Americans went all over the world using its military force where it had no business. Test talks a bit as well. This is going on too long now.

Lance Storm vs. Rikishi

Feeling out process to start and Storm speeds things up. He strikes away and drops down onto the chest on a sunset flip attempt. The other UnAmericans interfere during the Banzai Drop, allowing Test to hit a big boot to Rikishi’s head and knock him to the mat. Storm gets the easy pin. This wasn’t much.

Taker, the Undisputed Champion, is here.

Here’s your historic moment, although it was last week. Kurt Angle issues an open challenge and a young kid debuts and takes the challenge. His name: John Cena.

Stacy goes up to the locker room and Henry answers. She asks if Cena is in there and here he is, in the green trunks and looking like a deer in the headlights. She says Vince wants to see him and he walks off. Stacy likes what she sees.

D-Von/Batista vs. Big Valbowski/Randy Orton

Orton had been around for a few months here but was just a young kid. Batista was the deacon for Reverend D-Von and had debuted last week as well. Orton has hair here. Batista beat up Orton last week so this is the rematch Orton requested. Val (I’m not typing that whole thing) starts against Batista. He tries to take Batista’s knee out but gets run over by a HUGE clothesline.

Off to D-Von and the veterans do some basic stuff. Orton comes in to a screaming girls pop. He’s always had a sweet dropkick. D-Von gets a neckbreaker out of the corner for two. Orton gets beaten down but manages to bring in Val. Venis gets a Blue Thunder Bomb but Batista makes the save.

Orton comes in and hot shots D-Von, but Big Dave (first name unknown at this point) puts him in a fireman’s carry and rolls through it like Kenderson does. That’s a new one. Or old one in this case I guess. Everything breaks down and Orton misses his top rope cross body. The spinebuster ends this. Cole: “Batista is an animal!”

Rating: C-. This was fine and it’s amazing to see guys like this in their very young days. You never know what you might have in any given match and this is proof of it. I’m sure they knew they had something, but I don’t think anyone knew how big they’d be. Somehow, these two pale in comparison to the guy that would be in the next segment though. The match was fine.

Jericho rants to Vince about how Edge came back and stopped him from taking out Hogan for good. Vince says Jericho sounds obsessed with Edge. I’m distracted by a swimsuit shot of Stacy in a thong behind him so I have to rewind it for a bit. Vince makes Jericho vs. Edge at Vengeance, which wouldn’t happen. Instead he would face the guy that comes into the office next.

Here’s Cena who is nervous to meet Vince. Vince says that he liked Cena’s performance last week and introduces him to Jericho. Cena extends his hand politely and Jericho rips him apart, talking about how he’s the first undisputed champion and how Cena needs to show respect. He asks what kind of Ruthless Aggression Cena has so Cena slaps him to the floor.

During a break Jericho demands a match with Cena tonight.

Angle talks about beating Cena last week but he feels even better this week. He’s got a world title shot and is feeling strong. He asks Marc Lloyd if he’s seen the new highlight reel. Angle has beaten up Taker and then made Hogan tap at KOTR. Then last week he threw Taker in the ankle lock for just a few seconds. What better night than the Fourth of July for Angle to win the title right?

Billy and Chuck are gay and have hot dogs. Make the jokes yourselves.

Tag Titles: Edge/Hulk Hogan vs. Billy/Chuck

This is the big match from this show. Edge is a Hulkamaniac from when he was a kid so this is his dream match. Hulk vs. Chuck starts us off. Hogan is just crazy over here. It’s an old WWF town so that goes without saying. Chuck hammers him into the corner and it’s off to Billy. Edge comes in and hits an Edge-O-Matic for two. Chuck snaps off a pretty sweet overhead belly to belly for two and control. The fans want Hogan as Edge gets tossed over the top. Rico and Billy try to double team him but Rico kicks Billy by mistake. Edge takes Chuck down in the ring and I want you to notice something here.

Hogan has been on the apron for about four minutes and he’s barely stopped moving. It could be pacing back and forth, it could be clapping for Edge, it could be pointing something out to the referee, it could be shouting for Edge to kick out, it could be trying to get the fans to cheer. He doesn’t just stand there uninterested, and the crowd picks up on that. It’s a very important thing you can do in tag wrestling and it gets the fans to notice you. Cena is really good at this. It’s an old rule that I’ve told you time and time again: if you play to the crowd, they’ll respond to you.

Anyway there’s the hot tag to Hogan and he Hulks Up on the way in. Billy is pounded on (he must be used to muscular men doing that to him by now though) as is Chuck. We get the old school double noggin knocker and it’s a big boot to Billy. Chuck hits a superkick to break up the legdrop and Hogan brings Edge back in with a double clothesline off the top. Rico breaks up the spear so Hogan knocks him down. He crotches Rico on the apron and Edge spears Billy for two. A double big boot and a pair of legdrops to Chuck are enough to give Hogan his first tag title.

Rating: B-. I can’t help but smile at this. This wasn’t supposed to be a serious match and if you get mad about Hogan doing this you miss the point. This was about feeling good and nostalgic and giving Edge a rub. This did all of that and was actually a pretty good tag match on top of that. Hogan as basically the Andre to Edge’s Haku was perfect for him and this was really fun. They would lose the titles in less than three weeks but this was what the whole thing was about and it worked perfectly. Very fun match and moment.

Chris Jericho vs. John Cena

Dig that totally generic rock music for Cena! Cena charges in but gets beaten down quickly. He spears Jericho down and pounds away and they go to the floor. Back in the ring Cena hits a slingshot and spinebuster for two. He’s got a fire in his eyes and you can see the star in him if they mold him properly. Jericho heads to the floor and suckers Cena in to take over. He takes too much time coming off the middle rope though and jumps into a dropkick.

Powerslam gets a very close two. He counters the Walls and this a DDT for another two. A corner splash misses for the American and Jericho takes him down with the bulldog. Lionsault misses and Cena hits his second high angle spinebuster for two. However Jericho is too good for him as he backflips out of a belly to back and hits a Flashback (sleeper drop) and pins Cena with his feet on the ropes.

Rating: B. Very fun match here which at the time was shocking. Remember that this is Cena’s second match on TV and he’s taken Jericho and Angle to the limit. They would fight again at Vengeance and Jericho would actually get beaten fairly clean. As a little trivia, to the best of my knowledge, this is the only time that Jericho has ever beaten Cena one on one on TV or PPV. Think about that for a minute. They’ve fought so many times and Jericho only won the first one.

Jericho offers a handshake post match and tries to beat him up but Cena hits the Protobomb and stands tall.

Rey Mysterio is coming.

Here’s a clip from Raw where the NWO and Shawn Michaels said that HHH would be joining the NWO.

We go back to Divas Undressed on Saturday where Torrie won the Golden Thong Award. Stacy says it was because Torrie sleeps with Maven, who was a judge. Torrie said Stacy was sleeping with Vince. Naturally we’re having a bra and panties match to settle things.

Earlier today, Jamie Noble and Nidia celebrate their new found fortune by getting a new truck and a new trailer because Noble’s aunt died. Oh and he has money now that he’s Cruiserweight Champion. Running water almost makes Nidia cry. They break in the bed.

Stacy Keibler vs. Torrie Wilson

Bra and panties remember. What do you want me to say here? They try to do some moves, most of them don’t work, they strip each other, they’re both hot, Torrie wins. She strips too.

We get a recap of the ladder match from Monday with Jeff vs. Taker, which I need to get to someday. Hardy got destroyed over and over again but he kept getting up after the match. Taker hit a Last Ride and Hardy got up again, saying he was still standing. Taker raised his hand and stopped hurting him.

Taker says he’s upset at Vince because Vince said Taker faces Rock at Vengeance whether Taker is still champion or not.

WWE World Title: The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle

Taker runs over him with power to start and Angle bails to the outside. I think these are both tweeners at this point. Angle keeps trying to run Taker down and it doesn’t work at all. Finally he wakes up and takes it to the mat. Angle celebrates an armdrag and gets kicked to the floor for his troubles. Snake Eyes/big boot combo get two. Angle counters the chokeslam into a German to shift control again.

It turns into a fist fight in the corner with Taker gaining control. Shoulder block puts Kurt down as does a DDT for two. Here comes the Tombstone but Angle slides down and hooks the ankle lock and Taker is in trouble. That gets reversed but an Angle Slam (which looked like it was in slow motion) gets two. Ankle lock on again and Taker’s escape gets a big pop. Chokeslam puts Kurt down but the ankle injury keeps him from immediately covering.

Here’s the almost famous ending. Taker loads up the Last Ride but Angle wraps his legs around Taker’s neck in a triangle choke. Taker bends down into kind of a rollup. The three count hits at the same time that Taker taps (although if you watch very carefully, Taker starts tapping before the three hits. It’s less than half a second though so it’s fair). There’s no winner so there would be a triple threat at Vengeance.

Rating: B-. Pretty good match here between two guys that could do big matches like these with ease. Tazz’s eventual line summarizing this was perfect: The Undisputed Title is disputed. If I remember right this was something that happened in a UFC main event and was one of the first signs of WWE paying attention to them. I remember reading that somewhere so it may not be accurate. Anyway, good match.

Overall Rating: A-. Huge and I mean REALLY huge show tonight with all kinds of stuff happening. It’s fascinating to look at these guys at this point and imaging what they would become. Orton is probably the least likely as he had nothing going for him at all. He would injure his shoulder and become a cocky heel and that was all he needed. Anyway, great show and really interesting stuff.

 

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up my new book on the History of Starrcade from Amazon for just $4 at:

 

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