Monday Night Raw – December 23, 2002: With Bonus Footage and a House Band

Monday Night Raw
Date: December 23, 2002
Location: Ford Center, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the last regular show of the year as next week is a Best Of special. Thankfully that means one less week of Scott Steiner vs. HHH, who last week reached new levels of suck with a long talking segment. Steiner is all flash at this point and I’m really not sure HHH is the one to drag him to the next level. Let’s get to it.

Minor note: this was actually taped a few days earlier due to the holidays.

We open with a long recap of the end of last week’s show. You know the fifteen minute talking segment? Well here it’s cut down to about two and it’s still boring.

Opening sequence.

It’s the Christmas/holiday show so we have a Santa’s Little Helper match. That means the women, though I was hoping for Max Mini vs. Battalion.

Rob Van Dam/Kane vs. 3 Minute Warning

Rosey and Jamal take turns with the pounding forearms to Kane’s back but he sits up, as is his custom. A good looking big boot to the face allows the hot tag to Rob, who is brought in with a rocket launcher crossbody for two on Jamal. Rob gets sent outside so Rico can get in some kicks, allowing the Samoans to take over again. Not that it matters though as Van Dam kicks them away and brings Kane back in to clean house. A clothesline puts Rosey on the floor and it’s the chokeslam into the Five Star to put Jamal away.

Rating: D+. Just a quick match here to make sure you know that the Samoans are done because WWE cares more about whatever their issue was behind the scenes than building up what had potential to be a decent tag division. At least Van Dam and Kane were entertaining and have some potential as a good team.

Post match Rico yells at and slaps both guys. Jamal and Rosey almost get in an argument, which is what Rico was wanting to see.

The bosses are worried about Steiner and HHH getting into it tonight when Spike Dudley comes in to yell about William Regal knocking D-Von out last week. Eric Bischoff makes Spike vs. Batista with the Dudleys banned from ringside.

We see Jim Ross’ entrance, complete with the Oklahoma University marching band playing his theme song.

Earlier today, D’Lo Brown, now in what appears to be a gangsta rapper gimmick, tried to get Stacy Keibler as a marketing assistant. Stacy: “I kind of have my hands full with the Testicles right now.”

Test vs. D’Lo Brown

Fallout from Wrestlemania XV. Test loses a chase to start and gets his throat snapped across the top rope. A whip into the steps makes things worse and Brown start sin on the ribs. We hit an abdominal stretch with Brown hopping over to the ropes for some extra leverage. Test hiptosses him out and grabs the pumphandle slam, only to have Brown get in another shot to the back. The camel clutch doesn’t get him very far and the missed backsplash makes things even worse.

A full nelson slam (which JR calls a full nelson into a chokeslam) gives Test two and the pumphandle slam gets the same with Brown grabbing the rope. Brown goes after Stacy and sends Test into the post off the distraction. He puts his feet on the ropes when he covers though and the referee won’t count. Brown: “IF I WAS WHITE YOU’D COUNT!” Racism is too much for D’Lo and he shoves the referee for the DQ.

Rating: C. Not bad here actually, despite the stupid costume and angle for Brown. Test isn’t exactly over and it’s really Stacy making the sex jokes that are as over as anything else. At least they’re trying something with both guys though, which is at least something of an upgrade for them both. I didn’t say it was a good upgrade but it’s still something.

Brown bails into the crowd.

This week’s Raw Retro is JR kissing Vince’s….yeah.

We see a Jerry Lawler book signing in Memphis.

Here are the bosses to explain the idea of the Royal Rumble being split between the brands. For some reason this is the greatest thing JR and King have ever heard, which doesn’t sit well with Bischoff. We see an off camera moment of JR and King talking about the Raw Retro, where they ripped on Bischoff for ruining the show. Bischoff suggests that he’ll replace them with Tony Schiavone and Jesse Ventura. Crowd: *SILENCE*. Anyway, Bischoff is giving them a match tonight. Or they can just be fired.

Hurricane vs. Christopher Nowinski

Nowinski jumps him at the bell and gets two off a butterfly slam. Hurricane comes right back with a neckbreaker, only to get chopblocked down. Cue Maven for a distraction though, allowing Hurricane to hit the Shining Wizard for the pin. Hurricane has no direction at all right now and the Tough Enough feud is just continuing.

Worry not: HHH isn’t worried about Steiner and would slap Scott in the head right now if he could. I certainly was worried until we heard that.

Batista vs. Spike Dudley

Spike tries a chase to start but is quickly caught and powerbombed onto the barricade. A clothesline and the Batista Bomb wrap this up in a hurry.

Bischoff and Morely are happy so Morely suggests they fight JR and King later. William Regal and Lance Storm come in and offer their services instead, which Bischoff accepts. The usage of brass knuckles is encouraged.

A camera spies on the women getting ready for the tag match later.

Victoria/Molly Holly/Ivory vs. Jacqueline/Trish Stratus/Stacy Keibler

They’re all in your standard Christmas outfits, save for Molly of course. It’s a brawl to start until Stacy and Molly (who of course is insulted despite looking perfectly fine in a long, sleeveless red dress) with Keibler bending over to show off her red underwear, thereby stopping Molly cold. If that’s not enough, Stacy’s spinwheel kick literally misses Molly the whole way by about four inches but gets two anyway.

Victoria comes in with a suplex as JR wonders if she’s a real woman. Stacy gets beaten down for a bit until the tag brings in Jackie, who quickly takes her place in getting beaten up. The real hot tag brings in Trish to clean house and of course Molly’s dress is pulled up for the “comedy” bit. Jackie grabs a tornado DDT and Trish hits Stratusfaction for the double pin.

Rating: D. I don’t like having to go with this but it could have been FAR worse. They were trying to have a match in there but when most of the match is built around seeing the outfits come up, you can only get so far. Speaking of which, Lawler was his usual self in one of these things, which is kind of odd given when he has to do in about an hour.

Goldust runs into Chris Jericho, who says Goldust is a failure in all walks of life, including his career because it was Booker who won the titles.

Scott Steiner is going to see HHH in the ring later.

Tag Team Titles: Chris Jericho/Christian vs. Booker T./Goldust

Booker and Goldust are defending. Before the match we see Shawn Michaels superkicking Jericho last week. Normally that would suggest the result of this match was obvious but I could see Jericho vs. Michaels with Jericho as a tag champ. Goldust and Christian start things off with the Canadian eating a clothesline. The announcers have come to a strategy in the tag match: Lawler will do everything.

Booker comes in for a suplex to Jericho and Goldust catapults him over the top onto Christian. The offense doesn’t last long though as Jericho dropkicks Goldust in the back and the champs are in some sudden trouble. It’s not long lasting trouble though as Goldust grabs a bad looking neckbreaker to put Christian down, allowing the hot tag off to Booker.

A double side kick drops the Canadians and that means it’s the Christmas Spinarooni. Another kick gets three on Christian but the foot was on the rope as we go to a break. Back with Booker kicking Jericho down again but this time the referee misses the hot tag to Goldust. Even the announcers get on him for this one as Booker stays in trouble. Christian snapmares him into a chinlock as the announcers talk about mothers.

The hold stays on for a good while until Booker fights up and grabs a flapjack. That’s enough for the hot tag to Goldust, who hits a quick Shattered Dreams on Christian. Jericho is sent head first to the same spot and a powerslam gives Goldust two (and one heck of a pop on the near fall). The Walls have Goldust in trouble until Booker makes a save of his own. The Lionsault hits Goldust’s raised knees and Goldust grabs a rollup (with tights) to retain.

Rating: B. It had time and the hot finish makes Goldust look like an equal link to Booker for a change. The Canadians are still a good team and these four could have more good matches if given the chance. At the moment it’s not like the division has a lot of depth in the first place so give them a shot.

Kane is about to leave so Van Dam gives him some merry Christmas wishes. Rob talks about having great Christmases as a child, but Kane spent his Christmases locked in the basement torturing rats with razor blades. Dang now I feel sorry for Rob. Anyway Van Dam gives him his Christmas present: Hungry Hungry Hippos.

Rob goes into an explanation of how the marbles represent obstacles that block your chi. I’m not the most familiar with the concept, but it seems that Rob believes you’re supposed to eat your obstacles. So if you have trouble at work, cook your boss over a fire? Or am I supposed to have him………raw? Kane hates it and Rob knew he should have gone with chutes and ladders.

And now for something I’m actually confused by. On the Network version, D’Lo Brown comes out and says he wants a rematch with Test with Stacy on the line. This isn’t listed anywhere on any report I’ve ever seen, including those written back in 2002 or in any results database I can find. JR seems legitimately confused to start, then says “ok” like he’s talking to someone on headset, and then starts in on regular commentary. Normally I’d assume this was just a dark match during the break for the crowd (remember that it’s taped) but then why do commentary? There’s also no ring bell so it’s not even an official match.

Test vs. D’Lo Brown

Brown wins an early fist fight on the floor and stomps away in the corner. A release spinebuster gets two and it’s off to a reverse chinlock. Brown gets two off a belly to back suplex but misses a moonsault. Test makes his comeback and hits the pumphandle slam for two with Brown grabbing the rope. That’s enough for Brown to go outside to chase Stacy, only to run right into the big boot for the pin.

Rating: D. I’m really confused by this and it’s all due to the commentary. Well that and the fact that they actually had Test and Brown of all people come out and wrestle again. Brown specifically mentioned the previous match but the commentary never brought it up once. This must have been a re-shoot of some sort, but you would think they would have gone with this match in the regular show despite it not making the broadcast. The match was similar to the first but with the focus on Stacy instead of the racism angle.

And now for something else not mentioned anywhere, we go to a local mall with Sean O’Haire as Santa Claus telling children they’re greedy. He tells them there’s no Santa either and yells at a bad actress who complains. The truth hurts you see. This makes a bit more sense as the Devil’s Advocate character would debut in January.

JR goes off to get ready and Lawler says he’ll stay in the ring the whole time.

You know how HHH and Steiner are going to face each other tonight? That’s still taking place.

Here’s HHH to call Steiner out after they’ve spent the better part of two hours talking about it. HHH talks down to the fans and explains how awesome he is. He would have fought Steiner last week but he was coming off a grueling match with Shawn Michaels, who of course is the best in-ring performer ever you see. We get the call out and HHH looks a bit stunned when Steiner actually shows up.

Lawler fawns over Steiner’s physique and we get the quick nose-to-nose (which really shows off how huge HHH’s nose is). HHH talks about how they’re going to make a fortune at the Rumble and he’s not giving up a single dollar of that in the first place. However, after some more bickering about how awesome they both are, we get a challenge for some arm wrestling. HHH almost wins but Steiner smiles at him and wins four times in a row. How many weeks until we get this match over with?

Jerry Lawler/Jim Ross vs. Lance Storm/William Regal

Bischoff and Morely take over on commentary and JR gets played to the ring by the OU band. Note that they don’t have to win to keep their jobs but rather just compete. Lawler and Regal start things off with Bischoff going into over the top commentary territory. They trade wristlocks before it’s quickly off to Storm. Lance misses an elbow and takes the famed Lawler “dropkick”. JR even gets in a neck snap across the top rope but the heels take over as you might have expected.

The villains take turns with chinlocks but we get some bad old fashioned heel miscommunication to give Lawler a chance. The fist drop gets two and there’s the ref bump. Regal pulls out the knuckles but gets snapmared down so Lawler can hammer away. A low blow from Regal makes JR tag himself in so he can grab the knuckles. The double beatdown is on but here are the Dudleys for 3D on Storm, allowing Ross to knock Regal cold for the pin.

Rating: F. So they built up Regal and Storm as undefeated on Raw for the better part of two months and give the win to JR and King? Eh to be fair I really can’t get that mad about this one as the winning streak stopped meaning a thing after the four way loss at Armageddon so it’s not like this really means anything. The “wrestling” here was nothing of course but JR getting a moment in his hometown was nice for what is likely a once in a lifetime change of pace. Plus this was less than six minutes from bell to bell and you knew there was going to be something screwy to wrap it up.

Overall Rating: D. Far from the worst show they’ve done in a long time though that doesn’t exactly make it good. Yeah there’s a lot of bad stuff but they kept it in short bursts so I really didn’t have the time to get too mad about things. They really need to get to the Rumble build soon as it can add an instant story for almost anyone on the show, which would help a lot since we can’t have a midcard champion for whatever reason. Anyway, not horrible here but it needs a lot of work.

 

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