Monday Night Raw – February 18, 2002: The Rock And Hulk Hogan
Date: February 18, 2002
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
No Way Out has passed and the main story is Hogan/Hall/Nash have returned to the company for the first time in years. Last night they kept Austin from winning the title, setting up their first feud in the company. Other than that there isn’t much to say, but we’re officially on the road to Wrestlemania, which is only four weeks long this year. Let’s get to it.
Here’s a very ticked off Austin to open the show. He has Jericho beaten last night but the NWO came in when Austin had Jericho right where he wanted him. Three pieces of trash came down to the ring (JR: “That’s the NWO.” Thanks Jimmy.) and now Austin wants them all here right now. The NWO comes to the stage and Austin says he has a Stunner for all of them. They huddle up but Austin says there’s nothing to think about. The NWO comes to the ring but turns around and walks away. Austin says he’s going to stand in this ring and drink beer all night until he gets a piece of the NWO.
We take a break six minutes into the show and come back with Austin threatening to go on strike until the NWO comes out here for a fight. Instead he gets Kurt Angle with a legion of security. Angle has something to say so Austin launches beer cans at him. Kurt says it’s his time now and if there’s one thing he can’t stand it’s a crybaby. Austin is sitting in a chair on the far side of the ring and is hitting Kurt who is only a few feet down the ramp. That’s one heck of an arm.
The security (off duty cops according to Angle) and Angle come to the ring because Angle has an announcement to make. Austin keeps throwing beers and isn’t interested in getting out of the ring at all. Angle finally gets in the ring and says he’ll make his announcement with Austin there: HE’S GOING TO WRESTLEMANIA! Austin is tired of listening and takes Kurt down, drawing in the security for right hands, meaning Austin is being arrested.
Post break Austin is taken into the police car where Angle and the NWO taunt him.
Hardy Boys vs. Lance Storm/Christian
Lance starts with Matt and neither guy can hit a hiptoss. Matt takes him down with a clothesline and it’s off to Jeff for the fangirl pop. A dropkick puts Christian on the floor and Jeff hits the legdrop between Lance’s legs. Jeff goes up top but gets crotched down by Christian who comes in to take over. Jeff makes a quick comeback but misses a dropkick, keeping Christian in control.
Back to Storm who gets kicked in the chest, allowing for the hot tag off to Matt. House is cleaned but everything breaks down. Jeff misses a dive to the floor and Christian gets two off the reverse DDT to Matt. Christian has a tantrum and Lita hits the Litacanrana to Storm on the floor. The Unprettier (Killswitch) is countered into the Twist of Fate and Jeff’s Swanton gets the pin.
Rating: D+. There wasn’t anything to this one and the announcers ignoring the match to talk about how horrible the arrest was didn’t help things. The Hardys’ time was over by this point due to them not having anyone of note to feud with. The Dudleys weren’t going to do anything else of note at the moment so the tag division was clearly on the decline.
Kurt Angle comes in to see Stephanie so she can congratulate him for his accomplishments in the last 24 hours. Flair comes in and makes a rematch of HHH vs. Angle for the Mania title shot with Stephanie barred from ringside. Thanks for paying for the PPV people!
Undertaker asks a stagehand where Flair’s office is. “Uh…Ric Flair?” “THE CO-OWNER OF THE COMPANY! YOUR BOSS! WHERE IS HIS OFFICE!” “Down the hall to the left.” “WAS THAT SO HARD???” That was hilarious for some reason. Taker goes into Flair’s office and wants a match with Naitch at Wrestlemania. Flair says no because he’s an owner now.
The NWO is leaving to go get dinner but Hogan says he has something personal to take care of and to send the car back for him in about half an hour.
Mr. Perfect vs. Kane
Before the match, Perfect calls out Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher for failing in the playoffs. Mr. Perfect NEVER loses you see. Kane knocks him to the floor with ease as the arena is full of smoke from Kane’s entrance. Back in and Kane easily fights out of the PerfectPlex and the chokeslam is good for the fast pin. Basically a squash.
Here’s Hogan with something to say. He talks about how great it is to be back in a WWF ring because the WWF made him a legend. Hogan and the fans have fought everyone from Russians to monsters to Andre the Giant and they did it all together. Then in 1993, the fans stopped caring about him and drove him out of the WWF, just like the Chicago fans did to Michael Jordan. For doing that, all of the fans can stick it. Hogan goes into a rant about how he made wrestling what it is today and says no one is a bigger icon than he is.
Cue the Rock and it’s time to set up Wrestlemania. They circle each other and Rock takes off the glasses. He does the FINALLY bit and now we get down to business. Rock talks about how amazing it is to see these two in the ring together before saying he agrees with Hogan on a few things. It wasn’t the fans that drove him out of the WWF if that’s what Hogan thinks. Hogan goes to respond but Rock hits him with IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK.
Rock says the people believed in Hogan and the Rock was one of them. After years of eating the vitamins and tearing the t-shirt, Hogan changed everything in WCW and the fans wanted nothing to do with him. Rock acknowledges that Hogan is a legend and an icon, perhaps even the best ever.
Hogan has talked about headlining Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania, so how does he feel about headlining one more Wrestlemania with the Rock. The fans REALLY like that idea but they’re not sure who to cheer for. Hogan calls Rock the flavor of the month and asks Rock why he thinks he’s even in Hogan’s league. Rock calmly asks yes or no and appeals to Hogan’s desire to be the definitive best ever. After an appeal to the people and doing Hogan’s hand to the ear, Hogan finally says yes. Eleven and a half years later this still gives me chills.
Since it’s so great though, let’s screw it all up. Hogan wishes Rock luck but Rock says Hogan needs it more BROTHER, before pulling him into a Rock Bottom. Rock goes to leave but Hall and Nash knock him down the aisle and the beatdown is on. Hogan whips Rock with the weightlifting belt and Hall and Nash hit their finishers. Hogan goes under the ring and pulls out a hammer to blast Rock in the back of the head, laying him out cold. It should have probably killed him but it’s wrestling after all. Hogan drops a leg and Hall counts three to really set up Wrestlemania. We even get the spray paint to really hammer things in.
What an awesome segment. It had a great moment with the past and the present dynamic followed by Hogan REALLY nailing the idea of being a heel to stop his face reactions. The hammer stuff was great and Rock can return at Wrestlemania to get his revenge in the awesome moment to make the match even bigger.
Now if you’re a fan of the WWF, you know they’re not going to simply let an awesome moment like that exist on its own.
Rock is taken out on a stretcher and we go to a break. Back with Rock being loaded into an ambulance (with his arms not even secured) and is about to be taken away….when the NWO attacks the ambulance. They beat on it with chains as Hogan is yelling about Plan A. They chain the door shut (even though Rock is out cold) and Hogan says he’s going to lay the Smackdown on Rock.
He proceeds to get into a SEMI-TRUCK and RAMS IT INTO THE AMBULANCE. And there goes the moment. We went from an amazing staredown to this over the top nonsense because wrestling isn’t enough anymore. The NWO looks into the ambulance and panic before running away. JR and Lawler go into serious mode and talk about how real this is. You know, because this kind of stuff happens every day.
Godfather vs. Booker T
You know, because going from Rock nearly being murdered to Godfather is a fine transition. The girls are worried about Rock and Godfather is annoyed with them as a result. Booker stomps him down in the corner as the announcers are still acting all serious. Godfather makes a quick comeback with his usual stuff but the girls are still distracting him. A powerslam puts Booker down but Godfather yells at the girls instead of going for the Ho Train. Booker superkicks him down for the pin.
Paramedics and cops check on Rock.
Goldust/William Regal vs. Edge/Rob Van Dam
Brawl to start of course with the expected pairings going at it until we get Goldust vs. RVD to start. Goldie pounds him down for a bit before Regal comes in and gets caught by a cross body. Back to Goldust to pound on Rob a bit more as Jerry talks about a second ambulance arriving. Rob finally gets in a kick and everything breaks down. Edge spears Regal down and puts on the Edgecator (Sharpshooter but Edge doesn’t step over) for the tap out.
Rating: D. Nothing match here with the announcers again ignoring everything going on for the sake of the Rock stuff. I’d be ok with that if it was something serious, but the truck stuff was so over the top and stupid that there was no way to take it seriously at all. These feuds are going nowhere anyway.
Rock is taken away. Not that we saw him in the last two segments or anything.
Angle is distracted but by Flair’s decision instead of Rock. Cole brings up Rock and Angle feels bad about that too, but Rock didn’t have a Wrestlemania title shot to lose.
Kurt Angle vs. HHH
The winner gets the shot at Wrestlemania, Stephanie is banned from ringside and Jericho is on commentary. Jericho makes fun of the WHAT bit as soon as he sits down in a funny bit. HHH punches him fro the apron but Angle quickly takes the fight to the floor. HHH is sent into the steps and we head inside again with Kurt in control. Angle stops a comeback with a knee to the ribs and gets two off a suplex. Jericho lists off great names like Thesz and Gotch but thinks he’s just a bit better.
Angle stomps away in the corner for two more and puts on an abdominal stretch to the injured ribs. HHH reverses into one of his own, only to be hiptossed down. Another belly to belly gets another two on HHH and there’s a third since the first two went so well. They head outside again with HHH avoiding a charge into the post to hurt Angle’s shoulder. Back in and a neckbreaker puts Kurt down before HHH DDTs him for two. The spinebuster gets two more but Angle counters the Pedigree into a catapult into the corner.
Kurt can’t follow up immediately but he catches HHH in another suplex. The moonsault is countered into a bottom rope electric chair for a very close two. HHH heads to the floor for no apparent reason, only to be caught in another belly to belly onto the mats. A belt shot to HHH’s head puts him down again as Jericho has the referee. It’s only good for two so Angle rolls some Germans and puts on the ankle lock. HHH dives to the ropes and Angle is all ticked off. A Pedigree attempt is countered into the ankle lock again but HHH rolls through and hits the Pedigree to go to Wrestlemania again.
Rating: B. At least the match was good. I don’t think anyone believed there was any chance Angle would win here but at least we got an entertaining twelve minute match to make up for it. The lack of selling the ribs was a bit stupid but at least it wasn’t the focus of the match for the most part.
Overall Rating: C-. Well the showdown and the main event were good but they’re not really enough to save the rest of this show. Wrestlemania is looking like it could be good but the matches aren’t going to be much to see. There’s nothing wrong with going for the hype instead of the substance, but stuff like Rock vs. Hogan does not need the over the top nonsense and it’s dragging things down a good bit. The BIG divide between the main event level and the midcard stuff isn’t helping either.
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews, and pick up my new book of Complete 2001 Monday Night Raw Reviews at Amazon for just $4 at:
And check out my Amazon author page with wrestling books for just $4 at: