Monday Night Raw – April 22, 2002: A Very Slight Improvement

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 22, 2002
Location: Savvis Center, St. Louis, Missouri
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Thankfully we’re past Backlash but Hulk Hogan is once again WWF Champion after winning one of the most boring main events in recorded history last night. The result: he gets another match with Undertaker at Judgment Day as we drag this company even further back into the 90s. Hopefully the show is more interesting than last week’s mess. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the title change last night to make everyone feel good. Uh yeah….good is the right word.

Brock Lesnar vs. Matt Hardy

Matt comes in through the crowd to get in a cheap shot on Brock but Lesnar comes back with a spinebuster to reinjure the damaged ribs. Three straight backbreakers have Hardy in even more trouble and there’s a bearhug for good measure. Brock misses a charge into the post and injures his arm so Matt wraps it around the post. A Side Effect sets up a pair of legdrops off the ropes but Brock easily counters the Twist of Fate into the F5. A spinning powerbomb is enough for the referee to stop the match before Matt’s dead body starts decomposing.

Rating: C-. Not a total squash but it was exactly what it needed to be. Brock comes off like a monster who just destroyed a former multiple time champion. The Hardys were on the down side of their team career at this point but they were still good to be fed to Lesnar like pieces of tattooed meat.

Some tech guys are annoyed at Flair for costing Austin the title shot last night despite it being an honest mistake. Undertaker pops up and says he owes Flair one.

Here’s Undertaker with something to say. He thanks Flair for a job well done last night and says he would have won no matter who was refereeing last night. This takes a bit longer than it should due to the WHAT treatment. Now he gets to go to Judgment Day to face Hulk Hogan and the nostalgia trip. Hogan can thank him later for giving him the victory over HHH, but at Judgment Day Undertaker is Hulkamania’s judge, jury and executioner.

As Undertaker is talking, here’s HHH coming down to the ring and wanting a fight. Undertaker rightly points out that only champions can be on both shows but it’s HHH so rules don’t apply I guess. The fight is on and heads outside with HHH in control and blasting Undertaker in the head with a monitor. Referees finally drag HHH off but he beats them up too and goes after the bloody Undertaker. They fight into the back with HHH throwing Undertaker into various objects before pulling out a sledgehammer. Referees finally break it up before any murdering occurs.

And now: Booker T and Goldust at the Movies! Today’s feature: the Scorpion King. Goldust talks about deep meanings in the film but Booker says just roll the footage. Booker liked the movie but thinks he would have been a better star. We get another clip with Booker (in wrestling gear) superimposed over Rock. “I’m a five time WCW Champion. AND I GOT A SWORD TOO!” Goldust has the same kind of clip and it’s rather disturbing. Booker: “If you had starred in this movie, it would have been the Scorpion QUEEN!”

William Regal, old villain that he is, liked Flair’s officiating last night.

Rob Van Dam vs. Mr. Perfect

Intercontinental Champion Eddie Guerrero is on commentary and offers a distraction to let Perfect get in a cheap shot. They head outside with Van Dam scoring with a moonsault from the apron and heading back inside. Eddie rips on JR in Spanish with Jerry cracking up. Back in and Rob misses a kick but hits the second attempt for two. Rolling Thunder connects for two more and Perfect gets the same off a rollup with his feet on the ropes. Not that it matters as Rob kicks him again and the Five Star is good for the pin.

Eddie immediately gets in the ring and lays out RVD but misses the Frog Splash.

We get a Hogan Flashback to his first title win, just a short 18 years ago.

Trish Stratus/Jacqueline vs. Molly Holly/Jazz

Jackie grabs a headlock on Molly to start before hiptossing her down. Trish gets to come in and get a piece of Jazz, avoiding a charge into the corner and cranking on Jazz’s arm. Jazz gets in a shot to Trish’s bad back before slamming her down by the hair. Jackie and Molly come back in as everything breaks down. Trish is whipped HARD into the steps and Jazz hits Jackie with the belt, allowing Molly to pin her off a clothesline. That whip into the steps made up for the short match.

Arn Anderson doesn’t know if he can trust Flair after last night either.

Here’s Flair to talk about the Austin situation from last night. It was an accident and he totally respects Austin and doesn’t want a war. Austin comes out and with a lot of WHATs, says he doesn’t care how many titles Flair has won. Flair cuts him off and says it’s 16 before offering Austin a peace treaty: a match with Bradshaw as his partner against the NWO. Guess how Austin reacts.

Dudley Boys vs. Goldust/Booker T

Spike dives on Booker and Goldust during their entrances and we start fast. Bubba chops Goldust to start and sends him into the corner for some right hands to the ribs and a belly to back suplex. The middle rope backsplash misses and it’s Goldust with right hands of his own. Bubba comes right back with the Flip Flop and Fly and Spike comes in off the top with a double stomp for two.

Booker finally does something by kneeing Spike in the back, allowing Goldust to clothesline him to the floor. T keeps up his offense by sending Spike into the steps and then comes in to stomp in the corner. A big flapjack (Spike sells that so well) puts the little man down and it’s back to Goldie who gets rolled up for a quick two. Off to a sleeper from Goldust but Spike gets free and kicks him away, allowing the tag to Bubba.

The future Bully cleans house and shouts “COME ON YOU BIG BLACK MAN” at Booker before taking him down with a side slam. The fans want tables as Bubba drops a bunch of elbows, dances, and drops another elbow. Spike adds a top rope seated senton for two on Booker and Bubba wants some tables. Bubba goes to get one on his own, allowing Booker to hit a quick ax kick for the pin on Spike.

Rating: D+. Standard tag team formula here but it’s nothing interesting at all. With the Tag Titles over on Smackdown, these matches are really just filling time and not going anywhere. It also doesn’t help that Booker and Goldust are a funny team but still portrayed as heels. Well closer to heel than faces at least.

Post match Steven Richards comes out to try and steal the Hardcore Title but Spike makes the save and lets Bubba powerbomb Richards through the table.

Tommy Dreamer runs into Shawn Stasiak and Shawn isn’t pleased. Oh wait it’s PLANET Stasiak here, whatever that means. Regal comes up to laugh and winds up with a match against Stasiak.

William Regal vs. Shawn Stasiak

Brass knuckles, no bell, pin for Regal anyway in 12 seconds. Why the referee counted while literally watching Regal put the knuckles in his trunks is beyond me.

Bradshaw is out cold in the back and Flair thinks he knows whodunit.

Flair goes to find Hall and X-Pac and Kevin Nash walks out of a bathroom. Nash gets ejected and Big Show is added as Austin’s partner. I knew Big Show was joining that night when I saw this live.

Hogan comes out for his big celebration but just says he showed Vince and thanks the fans. Hulkamania is running wild and all that jazz you see.

Big Show/Steve Austin vs. NWO

X-Pac tries a spinwheel kick on Big Show and just bounces off. Hall comes in and is shoved down as well (JR: “Like a cheeseburger!”) so he wants Austin. Steve cleans house but gets caught by a knee lift from Hall followed by some right hands. Back to X-Pac and it’s spinebusters all around for the NWO. Big Show doesn’t seem interested in helping Austin deal with the double teaming.

A series of chops have X-Pac in trouble and Austin stomps a mudhole in both NWO members at the same time. Austin misses a charge and crotches himself on the ropes to give the NWO a few moments of control. A quick Thesz Press and middle finger elbow have Hall in trouble but X-Pac makes the save to stop any comeback.

Austin fights out of an abdominal stretch, only to walk into a clothesline for a few two counts. X-Pac comes back in but gets pounded in the face very quickly. Austin gets taken down by a spinwheel kick and it’s back to Hall for some running clotheslines in the corner. They trade sleepers until Austin fights out and tags Big Show, who immediately chokeslams Austin for the no contest.

Rating: D+. Boy it sure is convenient that Flair picked someone about to join the NWO. Of course Flair wasn’t in on it or anything (not being sarcastic) so the whole thing is a stretch, even by wrestling logic. The match sucked as you would expect it to with the NWO just not being an interesting concept at all.

Overall Rating: D+. It’s a more energetic show with less (though still existing) stupid moments. They had nowhere to go but up after last week so it’s not a huge compliment but I could at least tolerate this episode. Austin vs. Flair just isn’t doing it for me and I don’t think many people felt differently. There’s just not much to care about right now and it’s showing badly. Also: they managed to last a month without screwing up the Brand Extension. That’s better than I expected.

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