Monday Night Raw – September 16, 2002: Up is Down and Left is Right

Monday Night Raw
Date: September 16, 2002
Location: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for Unforgiven and that means a lot more from HHH and his REALLY COOL SLEEPER. Yes HHH is currently trying to get the sleeper over as a finisher in 2002 and….well he’s probably not wondering why people are booing him because he probably doesn’t notice. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Stephanie McMahon marrying a Justice of the Peace until the Justice ripped his face off to turn into Eric Bischoff, who I guess became the new groom. 3 Minute Warning came in and destroyed the bride. Billy and Chuck are never mentioned.

Bischoff is sitting in the dark to start and says you might know him from shows like Raw and Smackdown. He brings out Rico as the newest member of the Raw roster and gives him a match against Ric Flair as a thank you for last week’s work. Also tonight, the Intercontinental Title and World Title will be on the line because this is the best wrestling show in the world.

Opening sequence.

Here’s HHH for the real opening speech. The champ laughs off the idea that he’s going to lose the title to Rob Van Dam because Van Dam got lucky with one single frog splash. HHH gets sick of the fans booing him but here’s Van Dam to interrupt. Rob talks about all the negative energy coming off HHH which is over all of the cool moves Van Dam does.

That earns Rob the big serious lecture about how HHH uses his anger to keep the World Title where it belongs. Rob is quite taken by the way HHH displays his abilities. No one can deny that HHH can spit some water at another level. HHH calls Rob an underachiever who isn’t going to amount to anything in this business and will never be a World Champion.

Van Dam doesn’t seem to mind because the fans keep chanting for him. HHH misses a swing and gets kicked to the floor to FINALLY wrap this up. This made Van Dam vs. HHH seem more like a joke than a pay per view title match and that’s not good for the first major defense of a new title.

The International Organization of Women is protesting this show.

Ric Flair vs. Rico

Flair trips him to the mat to start and drops the knee for two. A few headlocks have the sideburns all roughed up so he kicks Flair in the chest. Rico runs into the elbow in the corner though and tries to grab a chair, earning himself a suplex. Ric makes the mistake of kicking the chair to the floor and walks into a big spinning kick for the pin (ignore Flair’s hand being on the ropes) and the huge upset.

Rating: D+. Nothing to the match but this is EXACTLY the kind of thing they need to be doing: throw new talent against the wall and see what works. I doubt Rico is going to light the world on fire but it’s better than trotting out the same tired old acts and wondering why none of them work anymore.

Booker isn’t worried about facing Test tonight, even if it’s a French test. Yes he speaks French and promises to pass that test tonight.

The protesters get to the gate but get turned away.

Booker T. vs. Test

During the entrances we hear about Bradshaw tearing his bicep and being put out 4-6 months (it was six, plus three months in OVW). Test jumps him to start as we actually hear about the two of them being former Tag Team Champions. A side slam gets two on Booker and we hit the armbar.

Booker makes his comeback with chops and a very slow motion spinebuster but the ax kick misses. A missile dropkick connects for two and Test gets the same off a pumphandle slam, giving us one heck of a shocked face. Booker uses a hurricanrana of all things to take Test down, setting up the spinning sunset flip out of the corner for the pin.

Rating: C-. Booker winning is the right call as his star continues to rise. Unfortunately it wasn’t the most technically sound match in the world as they looked a bit sloppy out there. Granted most of that is probably on Test whose whole thing was a big boot and pumphandle powerslam. Some of those near falls were good though.

Flair is depressed so here’s HHH (of course) to yell at him and call him pathetic. Ric yells back about how the title should be more important.

The protesters want to talk to Bischoff.

Tag Team Titles: Un-Americans vs. Dudley Boyz

Bubba and Spike are challenging. Storm headlocks Bubba to start as we’re already hearing about tables. A clothesline from the apron puts the champs in control….and Lance goes for a table. Of course it’s too early for that so Lance powerslams Spike for two instead. Some rib work keeps Spike in trouble until he grabs a headscissors. The referee doesn’t see the tag though (I love that spot) and it’s off to a chinlock.

Storm comes back in but eats a dropkick, allowing the hot tag to Bubba. Everything breaks down with Spike playing D-Von on What’s Up, only to have Bubba eat a superkick. The referee checks on him for no apparent reason, leaving Spike to take a double powerbomb through the table. Now the referee checks on Spike so there’s no count off a Bubba Bomb to Christian. With Bubba having to deal with Storm, Christian grabs a rollup to retain.

Rating: C. It was certainly eventful but that doesn’t mean it was the most interesting match in the world. The Un-Americans have hit their ceiling and it’s time for a popular team like Goldust and Booker to get the belts already. When I say “a team like” them, I mean only them as there’s no such thing as a division at this point.

Bischoff gives Chris Jericho the Intercontinental Title match. He’d also be happy to meet with the protesters because he has a few minutes free.

Spike is put on an ambulance when HHH comes up to smirk at Bubba.

Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho

Van Dam is defending and cuts off a running Jericho with a spinwheel kick. In your moment that tells you this show is scripted of the week, JR says that if Bischoff speaks to the protestors, the Women’s Title match is canceled. You know, because we couldn’t possibly have that happen in any other time slot and no two things can happen in the same time frame.

Jericho escapes a catapult but gets dropkicked out of the air for his troubles. The champ takes a bit too long going up top though and gets butterfly superplexed back down for no cover. Instead Jericho starts kicking away at the back, followed by a pair of backbreakers to make it even worse.

It’s off to a bow and arrow submission as Van Dam is bleeding from the mouth. Van Dam quickly escapes and gets two off Rolling Thunder. The stepover kick to the face looks to set up the Five Star but here’s HHH (fourth appearance tonight) so Rob dives onto him instead. The distraction lets Jericho grab the Walls and Rob actually taps to give Jericho the title.

Rating: C+. There wasn’t exactly a ton of heat on this one but it helps set up the pay per view and helps us avoid the almost always stupid champion vs. champion matchup. Van Dam tapping clean(ish) was very surprising but I’ll take it over another rollup or anything like that. Nothing great but at least it advanced the story.

Van Dam takes a Pedigree post match, just in case you thought the new champion should be the focus here.

The protesters get to wait in a room and one is clearly Stephanie in disguise.

Bischoff is going to meet the women but runs into a celebrating Jericho. Chris wants to avenge himself against Ric Flair so Bischoff makes an Intercontinental Title match for Sunday. Jericho is pleased.

William Regal is ready for Kane and has the Un-Americans on standby.

Video on Jeff Hardy.

Kane vs. William Regal

An Un-Americans distraction lets Regal get in a few cheap shots, including a series of forearms in the corner. Kane gets the side slam so Regal goes for the knuckles. Not that it matters as Test comes in to break up the chokeslam for the DQ.

Bubba Ray, Booker T. and Goldust make the post match save. A challenge is issued and accepted for an eight man tag on Sunday.

Bischoff is in the ring and calls the protesters down for a chat. They chant IOW (I’m assuming a National Organization for Women parody) and the spokeswoman complains about Bischoff exploiting women in a variety of ways, capped off by HLA. Now guess what the fans are chanting for. Bischoff thinks everyone in the ring with him is a lesbian and suggests some HLA right now.

That goes nowhere so the one who is clearly Stephanie in disguise reveals herself to be Stephanie in disguise (to be fair they did a decent job at not keeping the camera on her for too long but it was the obvious payoff) by kicking Bischoff low and talking trash. Billy and Chuck hit the ring for a modified Doomsday Device (as opposed to just punching and kicking him a lot) and fight off 3 Minute Warning as the announcers and fans have no idea who to cheer for.

I mean, I guess Bischoff is….or is it Steph…..I really have no idea. Billy and Chuck should be heels for faking the whole wedding and they were invading here but they were beating up the heel who might be a face because Raw and Smackdown apparently have their own sets of fans. It REALLY shouldn’t be this complicated but I’m sure at the end of the day we’re supposed to be cheering for Stephanie and company while forgetting the rest of the story all together.

Post match Bischoff is in pain and suggests an “intercontinental” match for Sunday between the two teams. If Billy and Chuck win, Bischoff will, ahem, kiss up to Stephanie in the middle of the ring. If 3 Minute Warning wins though, Stephanie has to perform HLA. In other words: it’s all about Bischoff and Stephanie, but more Stephanie of course.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. ???

HHH is defending against….someone who will be revealed in a minute as Van Dam comes out and jumps HHH, busting him open before the announcement. Security literally drags Rob away and it’s Jeff Hardy getting the title shot. At least Hardy is smart enough to go straight at the champ while he’s rocked. I wouldn’t have expected that from him.

The legdrop between the legs has HHH in trouble but he shoves Jeff outside to break the momentum. Back in and Jeff goes into the post but comes back with a Twist of Fate and Swanton, only to have HHH get his boot on the ropes. HHH grabs the sleeper to retain the title because he actually sees that as a main event finisher.

Rating: D+. This was just there and there was no drama in the whole thing. Hardy was in over his head and it was a waste of time to have the match wrapping up the show. Of course HHH had to have another segment though and that’s how the show gets to end. I was sick of seeing him about thirty minutes into the show but he gets to put Hardy to sleep after surviving his finisher. What a great guy.

Van Dam comes back for the Five Star to end the show.

Overall Rating: C-. The show was going along well enough but that Eric vs. Stephanie segment just crippled anything they had going. It’s forced, it doesn’t make sense and the wrestling is being built around some monsters vs. Billy and Chuck. Other than that there’s the rather uninteresting HHH vs. Van Dam feud which is the first title feud that fills in time with no chance for a title change but we get to sit through it anyway. At least Van Dam will get to put HHH over on Sunday though and that’s the important part.

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