Wednesday, July 18, 2018

A Look Back At.......

Vengeance 2002

Welcome, one and all!  This go-round at Cannonball's Corner, we're going to take a trip down memory lane to THE first WWE PPV I ever saw live, from the fabled Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan.  That's right, it's Vengeance 2002!

Here's a little history for ya: at the time this PPV aired (July 21, 2002):
  • I was 18 years old
  • I had recently graduated high school (June 2002)
    • College textbook prices rose 82% (Higher Education FTW!)
  • George W. Bush was president
  • Saddam Hussein basically said "hey, I don't have weapons of mass destruction out here"
  • We were not even 12 months past 9/11
  • WorldCom filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy
  • The Detroit Red Wings had captured the Stanley Cup
So, yeah, it was a funny time in the world in 2002, especially in the world of pro wrestling: we just "got the 'F' out" as the World Wrestling Federation was recently forced to change it's initials after a dispute with the World Wildlife Fund.  The change had occurred only 2 months prior in May, and the Ruthless Aggression Era had JUST kicked off.  The core group of guys that I was following at the time include Chris Benoit (who henceforth will be codenamed "Voldemort", and anyone that reads this that follows pro wrestling in any fashion knows damn well why); Chris Jericho; Eddie Guerrero; Undertaker (the short-haired American Badass version, IMO my favorite incarnation (fight me)); Brock Lesnar, and a young man by the name of John Cena, who had made his WWE debut just a month earlier.

Yes, folks, the WWE PPV debut of one of the greatest WWE Superstars to EVER lace up a pair of boots made his PPV debut RIGHT HERE at the Joe Louis Arena.  Holy shit, do I feel old.  At the time, I had NO IDEA he was going to get as big as he ended up getting, but he definitely was not the Doctor of Thuganomics; he was just a green-as-goose-shit white kid that somehow got onto the main show by getting in Kurt Angle's recently chrome-domed face and giving him a run for his money.

But enough of the jibber-jabber; whaddya say we Lose Ourselves on 8 Mile, grab some overpriced concessions, try to forget the cosmic mush from Star Wars Episode II by staring out into the arena and marvel at the kickass seats we scored, and kick off this show proper (with some help, of course, from the WWE Network and the #1 source of information on the interwebs)?

First match out is Goldust vs Stevie Richards on Stevie Night Heat (YES, that's what I'm calling it, and shame on you for thinking otherwise).  JR and the Jerry Lawler calling the action...HOLY SHIT, IT'S HOWARD FINKEL!!!  Now THAT was a goddamn ring announcer!  Stevie's coming down to the ring, and this must be the post-RTC era.  Since I've looked back on wrestling history, I've actually preferred the long, blond hair and his antics in ECW.  Here, he looks generic as all hell.  HYOOGE pop for Goldust, with the video effects and everything.  This is during the time where Goldust and Booker T were just starting to be a tag-team, and if you haven't seen the vignettes leading up to that pairing, including the one where Goldy hits up Booker T in a 7-11 wearing the worst disguise in history, you need to stop what you're doing and check that shit out on the TubeYou, ASAP..

Right when the match begins, King starts talking about how Stevie had to get staples removed after a brutal Singapore Cane match with Tommy Dreamer...shit, I gotta look that up.  Tie up, Stevie shot off the ropes, huge shoulder block, and we're standing.  And Goldust returns the favor.  Pair of armdrags, but Stevie gets the upper hand...but not for long, huge back body drop on Stevie.  LOL when Goldust audibly yells out "Shit!" after getting reversed into the ropes, dick-first, and Stevie with a neckbreaker, but it's only good for 2.  Stevie keeps working Goldy over, but the crowd wills the Golden One to his feet.  No good, and the heat, it doth continue.  Chop in the corner, whip to the opposite orner.  Attempt at a monkey flip is blocked, Stevie rushes the corner again but Goldy moves out of the way, and Stevie crashes and burns.  Both men up after 4, and here comes the comeback.  Manhattan Drop, clothesline, 2 count.  Classic slide to the floor and slap to the face.  Now Stevie's in position for Goldust's finisher, but Stevie lands on his feet and hits a reverse DDT for a near-fall.  Stevie tuning up the band, but Goldust grabs the foot.  Stevie avoids the punch and gets Goldust on the back end with a Stevie kick!  But it only gets 2.  King says Stevie wears a pet coon cup (dafuq?!) and Goldust with a snap powerslam out of nowhere, and that gets him the 3.

Even back then, Goldust was a much better and leaner performer than he was in his formative years in the Attitude Era, and nowadays, he shows that he truly has alien blood.  I'll give this 2.5 cannonballs; throwaway match for sure, but entertaining nonetheless.

Rock's on his way in to the arena, and then we cut to Terri interviewing Chris Jericho for his impending match with John Cena.  Apparently, Cena challenged Jericho to a "wrestling" match.  (What the hell is that?  Some kinda side attraction?)  Jericho responds by branding Cena a "stupid, clueless jackass" and that he has a lot of heart but no brains.  He has decided to accept Cena's challenge for two reasons: 1) to teach him a lesson that will end his career before it even begins, and 2) to prevent a disaster, a catastrophe of epic proportions!

"What are you talking about?"

To prevent fans revolting by finding out that Jericho (the king...of the world!) wasn't even on the show.  To be honest, I was hoping he would say "this dumbass might become a multi-time world champion!"  Too bad, Chris, cause we all know how THIS shit turns out...

Tazz and Cole out to kick JR and the King out of their chairs.  Tazz gets on the mic and starts to make his case, and King looks like he's gonna fight Tazz, but JR comes up with a deal; Tazz and Cole start the first half, and JR and King will do the second half. 

OK, now it's time to kick this show off properly!  Time for the FBI warning!  Crank up "Downfall" by Trust Company, as this is tonight's theme.  Pyrotechnics galore as Michael Cole and Tazz welcome everybody to the broadcast.  LOL at the mention of The World in Times Square (formerly WWF New York); that was an unmitigated financial disaster, the real estate fees were off the chart. That's what you get when you try to build a restaurant/nightclub in the HEART of Times Square.  Cole mentions that he and Tazz get to kick off the commentary duties due to an edict from then-Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon (back when she wasn't drunk with power and kinda hot) on Sunday (it's STEVIE!!!) Night Heat.  (Nice try, guys, we all know what happened on Heat.)  They'll do the first half, and then JR and King will do the second half, as explained above. 

And just as I finish typing that, HEADS UP!  The Dudleys are on their way out, but it's Bubba and Spike. and they're on the way to the ring with a table.  It's a tag team table match!  Nothing like starting a PPV with a stipulation match (bro).  Are we sure Vince Russo isn't hanging around?  Guys with cameras all have "get the F out" shirts, and one of them has a MASSIVE fanny pack.  LATINO HEEEEEAT out, and Voldemort follows suit (get it?  Cause he shall not be named?)  This is Voldy's first PPV match in 13 months following a rather heinous injury with his spinal column.  Nasty backbreaker by Voldemort.  Shotgun chop, off the ropes, and a sweet arm-drag counter.  Spike gets the tag to Bubba, but drop-toe hold by Voldemort and Eddie is in now.  Tag to Voldemort, and the double-team, it doth begin.  Spike knocked off the apron by Eddie.  Snap suplex by Voldemort.  Eddie tagged back in and it's back to work.  Reverse whip into the opposite corner but Eddie dropkicks the legs.  Tag to Voldemort .  Stiff elbow drop, and then there's this pretty cool falsie where Bubba reverse whips Voldemort, knocks Eddie off the apron with a wicked forearm, but then gets the fat German-ed off of him.  Hard whip into the corner, tag to Eddie.  Eddie hops over the ropes and stun-guns Bubba's head off the second rope.  Spike's had enough of this shit, and tags Eddie, but the ref's quick to get him back in his corner (so the opponents can double-team once again).  Tag back to Voldemort , and we have a brief punch-chop exchange, that Voldemort gets the better of.  More double teaming in the corner, and now Bubba says "fuck this shit" and starts teeing off on Voldemort and Eddie.  But Voldemort goes "no, fuck YOU", and whips him into the opposite corner.  ANOTHER hard whip into the opposite corner, and Voldemort pops Spike off the apron for good measure.  Voldemort tells Eddie to GET THE TABLES!, and Eddie obliges.  Table set up on the outside.  He talks shit to the crowd but doesn't see Spike pass by Voldemort, hop on Bubba's back, and perform a topei conjiro (is that how it's spelled?  I'm too lazy to check) on Eddie.  Nice spot.  Now Voldemort going to work on Spike, off the barricade and whipping into the steps.  Now it's back to Bubba, but Bubba starts the comeback.  Eddie grabs Bubba's foot as Bubba comes off the ropes, and the heat, it doth continue.  LOL at Eddie dropping a table when trying to set it up, but he says "fuck it" and tosses it into the ring instead.  Table set up dead center in the ring.  Bubba's set on the top rope, and Spike saves Bubba by moving the table, but he still eats a double-superplex.  Remember, kids, BOTH guys gotta go through a table to win the match.  It's anybody's ballgame, folks.

Table set up in the corner, and it looks like Spike's gonna go for a ride.  Bubba spears his own partner to save him going through a table.  Bubba off the ropes and lays out Voldemort with a pair of lariats.  House of fire right now.  Pair of big body drops, and a sidewalk slam on Voldemort.  Eddie attempts to armdrag Bubba off the top rope, but he gets Flair-bumped.  Bubba with a scoop slam on Voldemort, and Spike comes off the top with the double stomp.  Bubba with two lefts, and his crotch-grabbing rendition of the Bionic Elbow on Eddie.  Another scoop slam on Benoit...oh shit, the wassap headbutt!  Been a hot minute since I've seen that.  LOL at Tazz referring to Voldy's nuts as "Canadian Grapefruits" those even exist?  OK, Bubba, tell 'im what to do!  (LOL as he does this breathlessly.  To be fair, he's been getting the shit beat out of him all match long.)  Voldemort with a crossface attempt on Spike, but that shit won't fly in this match.  Bubba puts Voldemort down and takes the table out from the corner and stands it on its four feet.  Voldemort gets put on the table, Eddie tries to save him, but to no avail.  Bubba leaps off the ropes, but Voldemort moves out of the way, and Bubba eats wood on his own.  Since it wasn't an offensive move, nobody's eliminated.

Eddie on Spike now, irish whip, head-scissors counter.  X cross-bodies Eddie over the top rope and both men are on the floor.  Valuable time for Spike and Bubba to recover.  Spike grabs Eddie by the hair but gets a head to the stomach for his trouble.  Eddie tries to suplex Spike over the ropes through a table, but Spike counters and hits the Dudley Dog (or Acid Drop, take your pick) and Eddie tastes wood.  To paraphrase Gorilla Monsoon, he's outta there!  Looks like Spike hurt himself, and X looks to take advantage.  Spike attempts an Acid Drop, but X hoists Spike over his head and chucks him over the top rope and through a table on the bottom.  Thanks for coming, Spike.  It's down to Bubba and Voldemort.  German suplex attempt, but Bubba ends up picking up the duke by Bubba Bomb-ing his remaining opponent through the final table in the center of the ring.

Hell of a tag-team war here, and there was enough scientific wrestling and tag-team psychology to make it truly enjoyable by yours truly.  A solid 3 cannonballs.

ACK!  It's a greasy Ken doll!  Oh, sorry, it's Eric Bischoff.  That grin just gives me the willies, to be honest with ya.  Coach with an interview regarding the last match, but he's looking to sign the most ruthless athlete...Triple H.  And just as he says this, here comes the Game walking in the background.  Eric tries to schmozz, but he's right in front of the SmackDown GM's office, and Trips politely and subtly tells Eric to F off.  I was wondering if he was going to start talking about finalizing his storyline divorce, but that might have been done months prior to this, I don't know, and I don't care.

Redneck guitar riffs only mean one thing: Jamie Noble is on his way out to the ring, and he's got Nidia and the WWE Cruiserweight Championship with him! (Back before it looked like a purple boxing trophy.)  Damn, Nidia is looking pretty Roll-Tide here.  I'm hoping somebody raises the temperature in the Joe so she can do that thing that Nelly sang in that one song (and that reference officially makes me old; laugh all you want, but that song was all the rage during this timeframe).  She really helped the "white trash" gimmick get over, and Noble is a hell of an underrated wrestler.  LOL at the fans holding the signs "Jamie Noble bought my old trailer".  He's taking on Billy Kidman this evening, and we get a quick look at how we got here.  Dammit, heels these days just don't work together to beat up heroes like they used to.

Some really crappy metal music to get Kidman out; the good shit wouldn't come out until Survivor Series later that year (and hunt down that match, too, it's really good).  Some fast-paced chain and pinfall attempts to start things off, and Jamie says "fuck this shit" and powders.  Nidia tries to coach her boyfriend, and Kidman just patiently waits for him to get back in the ring.  Cole mentions that Noble is not your typical cruiserweight, preferring the ground game over the high-flying stuff.  So, basically, Jamie's work pre-dates the newfangled WWE Cruiserweight division by a good 15 years or so.  Good to know.

Jamie gets thrown to the corner, but he lands on the apron.  Cool legdrop on the back of his neck sends him to the floor.  And Jamie decides to use Nidia as a shield to get the upper hand.  Brilliant tactic, and it's time to turn up the heat.  Noble working the shoulder into the post, followed up by a sweet Northern Lights hammerlock suplex.  Nidia chewing that gum like a cow in a field; they really should have given her some fake dip or chaw or something.  Kidman tries to pop Noble up but the shoulder gives way, and Kidman eats post again (news flash: it DON'T taste like chicken).  Rather painful double hammerlock as the crowd gets behind Kidman.  Clothesline and a few punches start the comeback, and a nice snap-rana and dropkick.  Kidman drops Noble neck-first on his knee for a two-count.  Apparently, Rey Mysterio is debuting on SmackDown just 4 days from tonight; I remember when that was a huge deal.  Seems to happen a lot more often these days.

Noble back on the arm after an armbreaker, but Kidman gets to the ropes, prompting the break.  Powerbomb reversed into an X-Factor (fucking sweet!), but it only nets two.  Even Nidia thought that one was over.  Enzugiri sends Noble to the mat, and Kidman is going upstairs.  Noble cuts him off and is thinking superplex, but Kidman reverses it into a top-rope powerbomb for a LONG two-count.  Kidman tries a swinging DDT but lands on the apron.  Noble hung up on the top rope, shooting star press misses.  Noble with a two-count.  Just a reminder from Tazz, cruiserweights are exclusive to SmackDown!  (As opposed to today, when they are exclusive to a bottom-basement timeslot on Tuesday nights on the WWE Network.  Shame.)  Kidman tries to get things started one more time, but Noble hits a tiger-bomb for the 3 count.

Maybe I'm biased, but this match was just "meh" for me.  2.5 Cannonballs.  Their match at Survivor Series '02 just a little bit down the road is a lot better, go out of your way to look it up.  But Jamie and Nidia can hit up the buffet now that he's retained the title, so that's all good.

Cut to Kurt Angle being interviewed by.....I have no idea.  He starts talking about "if" he wins the WWE title tonight, and Angle cuts him off, low-browing Detroit and making better cars in the process.  He should have said something about the housing bubble while he was at it, or we could have avoided a LOT of problems 6 years down the line (thanks, Dubyah!).  Kurt doesn't deal in "if's", he deals in "when's", and WHEN either Rock or Undertaker taps to his Ankle Lock, THEN...

THEN it's on to SummerSlam, bellows Paul Heyman, with Brock Lesnar in tow.  (Just like now!)  Heyman introduces Kurt to Brock, and then tries to sweet-talk Kurt, but he's having none of that shit.  he says he'd love to face Brock at SummerSlam; Intercontinental champion vs WWE champion (provided Brock can take down RVD for the strap later tonight).  But, if he even thinks about messing with Kurt like he did with Undertaker on SmackDown last week, Angle will take Lesnar down so fast he won't know what hit him.  Lesnar's 4-word reply: "Good luck tonight...Kurt."  Even back then, the man was a man of few words, but at the time, he truly was a sight to behold.  Now, if he would just show up to WWE more often these days and, you know, actually defend his belt...

William Regal out next to vie for the European Championship (and it is my firm belief that the current UK championship should just be a continuation of this Euro championship, but then again, I'm biased).  Jeff Hardy took down Regal two weeks ago on RAW, and Regal broke down crying afterwards.  God bless that man.  Jeff Hardy is out next, and this is around the time when he had a WWE title match with the Undertaker on RAW and came *this* close to taking home the gold.  Of course, he wasn't having the problems he is noted for today (*coughVictoryRoadcough*).  Nick Patrick calls for the bell, and this shit, it be underway!  Tie-up and a weak-looking headbutt from Regal to get the early advantage.  Jeff jumps over Regal but gets paint-brushed like a motherfucker, and a hard shoulder block to follow up.  Nasty looking knee-drops to the back of the neck, but Regal misses another knee drop, and Jeff is on him.  Monkey-flip over the top rope.  Jeff botches an attempted dropkick through the ropes, but Regal catches him and struggles to keep him upright before Jeff gives a hurricanrana.  Jeff tiptoes the barricade but misses on the splash, and Regal is back on the attack, but not for long; Whisper in the Wind takes down Regal.  Reverse whip, Regal catches the foot as Jeff slides under him, but Jeff dropkicks him and hits him down below Saskatoon (Cole says it's the abdomen, but I'd beg to differ).  Swanton bomb attempt eats Regal's knees, and now Regal's not messing around.  NASTY kick to Jeff's back, but Jeff reverses and rolls Regal up for the quick 3 count.  Regal starts crying again as Jeff makes his way back up the ramp.

2 cannonballs.  Good little match, but nothing of note.  Shit, I wonder if there's some sort of story building for Wet Willie here; I couldn't be arsed to go back and look if you paid me.

WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  Cut to Naitch in the back, and he's giving props to Jeff Hardy.  All of a sudden, the Hulkster shows up!  And LOL of the night when Hulk calls Flair "Rickles".  For all the shit Flair has said about Hogan during the course of his career, it is surreal to me for Ric to shake Hulk's hand and say "still the man".  After a brief joke about how Hogan might do a swanton after his signature big boot and legdrop, they start talking about Bischoff and Stephanie being the GMs.  Ric's concern is about the young guys, and Hogan adds that it could be the single best or worst thing that happens in this business, brother.  (Fat chance, Hogan; we all know the single worst thing that ever happened in this business is when Dixie Carter backed up the Brinks truck to bring you and Bischoff into TNA and damn near run it into the ground.)  Flair concludes the segment by saying Stephanie better watch her ass, because Bischoff could either own the company, or run it out of business.  Hogan replies, "Out of business?  Tell me about it."  So, yeah, WCW is dead and gone, post-invasion angle, and WWE is still jabbing at the dead horse.  UGH!

Countdown is up on the screen, and we know what that means: Y2J is on his way to the ring!  Cut to what happened on SmackDown last Thursday, when he got hit in the dick and then got waylaid with a steel chair.  Shit, that's something you just don't see nowadays.  Cena comes out to the most generic music you have ever heard, and Jericho's already got a steel chair.  Jericho comes to GET SOME (get it?), but Cena ducks the shot, rips the chair from Jericho's hands, and pops him in the back.  Match hasn't started yet, so Cena tosses Jericho into the ring to do just that.  Ground and pound to start things off, and Jericho opts to take a breather.  Cena's not having any of that and gives chase, and he plants Jericho with a pretty sweet spinebuster for a two count.  Jericho stun-guns Cena on the top rope, and now Jericho's on the attack.  Back suplex and a dropkick to the face.  Choke on the ropes followed up with double-knees to the back.  Jericho tries to take off the turnbuckle pad and Mike Chioda tells him to knock it off.  This allows Cena to roll Jericho up, but Mike has to jog a bit to get to the count, and Jericho kicks out.  Jericho with chops to the corner, Cena whipped to the opposite corner and boots Jericho in the face.  Jericho with the BreakDown (the Miz's Skull-Crushing Finale for you young uns on here), and he goes up top to proclaim that he is the King of the World.  Cena punches Jericho in the gut and pops off a superplex for a two count.  Cole says that a win here tonight would be a major upset, and I'm sitting here in 2018 like "bro, wait'll you see him become the face of the company".  Cena with an impressive Tilt-a-Whirl slam for a two-count.  Jericho with a sick dropkick off the top rope, but it only nets two.  Jericho goes for a dropkick but Cena catches him and catapults him into the corner, but Jericho lands on the second rope.  Jericho jumps right into a belly-to-belly for another two count.  Cena with a missed dropkick, Jericho attempts the Lionsault but eats canvas.  Cena with an Oklahoma Roll for yet another two-count.  Jericho with a standing neckbreaker and his feet on the ropes, but it still only nets two.  Jericho with a bulldog and Lionsault, but Jericho doesn't cover the rookie.  He's looking to tap that ass out, but Cena rolls him up and gets a quick 3-count.  Jericho's arrogance cost him the match; just look at what you have created, Chris!

Great match, solid 3 Cannonballs.  Jericho throwing a temper-tantrum reminiscent of his WCW days.

ATM Eric and Coach are waiting outside Stephanie McMahon's office for Triple H to come out.  Bischoff decides to go into the office himself, but he's cut off by Stephanie's attorney who's here to deliver documents.  Now I'm starting to remember, this IS about the divorce papers.  Can't wait to see the payoff later tonight.  And here comes JR and King to kick Cole and Tazz out of their seats, and they acquiesce without a fight.

RVD in the back with some yoga, preparing to defend the IC title against Brock Lesnar.  Brief video package about Lesnar's rise to power and the King of the Ring title, that gives him a shot at tonight's winner at SummerSlam.  Love how Heyman talks about how he built and created RVD, this was a great transition from being associated with ECW to being associated with Brock Lesnar (well, until the ECW DVD came out later on).  Shit, Lesnar looks like a brick shit-house here.  ONE OF A KIND! brings out Battle Creek's favorite son.  The early 2000's were surely known for alternative rock music, this is where I got most of my music apologies.

Lesnar takes the IC title from the ref and holds it over his shoulder as if to say "this is gonna be me in a few minutes".  Bell rings, and we're underway!  RVD with some punches, but Brock counters with a standing fireman's carry.  Some punchy shit, some flippy shit, and then Brock eats the 2nd turnbuckle hard after a drop-toe hold.  Massive shoulder block on the apron as Brock goes to get back in.  RVD with some kicks to the leg to wear the big man down, and a dropkick to the face.  Brock counters with a toss across the ring, and the beatdown, it is on.  Lesnar goes to whip out a lariat, but tumbles over the top rope.  I catch JR saying "I should have been home shaving my mother's back" and I physically pause and wonder aloud "what the fuck is he talking about?".  After going over the tape a couple of times, I realize this is a dig on Paul Heyman on the outside.  Goddamn, do I miss JR on commentary.

RVD with an attempt at a top-rope dive, but Lesnar catches him.  RVD runs Lesnar into the post, then attempts a moonsault, but Lesnar catches him again and powerslams him on the floor.  Now Lesnar's gonna get him some of that ass, starting with deadlifting RVD, holding him over his head, and then busts the gut over his knee.  HYOOGE belly to belly overhead, but strangely, no Suplex City chants.  RVD with the signature stepover dropkick, and RVD is back on the attack.  RVD goes to monkey-flip Lesnar, but Lesnar just dumps his ass off the top rope, off the apron, and off the steps before hitting the floor.  It looked like a slowly-toppling Jenga puzzle.  Lesnar is tossing RVD around on the floor as Heyman keeps Charles Robinson's attention.  Lesnar with a bear hug in the middle of the ring, and Heyman urges Lesnar to "SQUEEEEEEZE!!!".  Lesnar powers RVD into the corner, and then slaps on an abdominal stretch.  He then fucking HAMMERS RVD in the side, and Heyman is enjoying himself on the apron.  RVD with the comeback now, finishing with a pretty sweet legdrop over the top rope.  Top-rope side-kick to Lesnar's head, followed up by Rolling Thunder, but it only gets two.  Heyman gives the best advice of the night: "Don't lose!"  RVD going up for the frog splash, but Lesnar grabs him from the top rope and attempts the F5, but it gets countered into a DDT.  Five star frog splash connects, but he can't get to the cover in time, and it doesn't matter anyway, because Paul Heyman grabs Robinson and dumps him onto the floor.  Robinson calls for the bell immediately, Heyman shoves little Naitch, and then Robinson starts unloading on Heyman.  Lesnar pulls the ref off of his manager, but RVD rolls onto Lesnar from the top rope.  RVD looking to go coast-to-coast, but Heyman grabs RVD's leg.  Lesnar grabs RVD and suplexes him right onto the chair.  And Lesnar with the F5 right on the chair.

Obviously, they were looking to keep the belt on RVD without making Lesnar look weak, especially since he's got a WWE title match at SummerSlam to look forward to.  Still, this was a good match.  Solid 3 cannonballs.

Eric's waiting outside Steph's office some more, and then the door opens, and Stephanie steps out.  Tense stare-down between the two GM's.  Eric looks smug, while Stephanie looks sad.  He wonders if things didn't go so well, and she just says "he signed".  Eric looks crushed, and then Trips comes out.  Eric gets in his face, and Hunter tells him to back off.  And just as I suspected, he did indeed sign his divorce papers.  As far as business goes, he hasn't made up his mind yet.  Eric breathes a sigh of relief, as he knows he still has a chance to land the biggest fish in the ocean.

Weeeellllll, it's time for a piss break!  We've got to be getting close to the main here.  Big Show's out for a no-DQ, no-count-out match with Booker T.  Big Show manhandled that black ass the previous Monday on RAW, and now the future Hall of Famer is looking to get him some revenge.  Booker with some shots and an attempted side kick, but Show catches Booker and slams him with ease.  Apparently, this is the first match that Eric Bischoff put together as GM of RAW, per the request of the Big Show.  And he is going to town on that...nope, not gonna say it.  Booker tries to use a steel chair but Show punches it mid-swing.  Scary stuff.  He even clotheslines Booker against the post; I for sure thought Booker was gonna move out of the way.  He DOES move out of the way when Show tries a second time, and now Booker's chopping at him like a lumberjack on a sequoia.  Booker tries to choke Show out with a TV cable, but Show elbows out.  LOL at King imploring the Spanish announce team to "Andele, Vamoose!".  Booker T with a scissors kick from the English announce through the Spanish announce table, and he takes Show with him...that was awesome, and it draws a "Holy Shit!" chant.  Booker T is in the ring, but he can't win by count-out or DQ.  Show catches Booker with a chokehold, but Booker kicks him in the dick to get out of it.  Booker goes to the top rope and executes a Houston Hangover for the 3 count.

Certainly designed for fans to go to the bathroom and get extra concessions right before the main, but it was still a pretty good match.  2 Cannonballs.  And, of course, it wouldn't be Booker T in the early 2000's without the Spin-a-roonie.

Folks, we must take a sabbatical for just a moment.

I remember vividly the night that the Spin-a-roonie was first coined.  Booker T was cutting a promo on RAW, and I could see the look on his face when he first coined the phrase.  He looked like "man, ain't no way nobody's buying this shit!"  And for good reason; this was just something he did right after the axe kick for flair and show.  Having seen it during the dying days of WCW, the announcers never really made anything of it other than to consider it part of his comeback.  I am still in debate on whether coining it the Spin-a-roonie was the best thing that happened in his career, or the worst thing.  It sure as hell sounded stupid the first time he mentioned it.  But goddammit, that shit caught fire like a forest in California, and the rest, as they say, was history.  OK, back to the show.

We're taking a visit over to "The World", but fuck it, it's WWF New York to me.  And there are Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie before somebody got the idea to have Dawn marry Torrie's father in order to get to Torrie's tuna taco...but I digress, as these ladies are Roll Tide as all get out.  The last time Torrie was here, she won the Golden Thong award, which was given out at the end of the lingerie special that was done here.  The WWE in the early 2000's, folks.  BTW, go look that up on YouTube, it's hot stuff.  Torrie is going with Rock winning tonight's main event, while Dawn picks the Undertaker.  They start arguing about who has the better ass (an argument I wanted to see to its conclusion, but alas) before we go back to the Joe, where Triple H looks to make his decision on if he's going to RAW or SmackDown.  No sooner is the Game in the ring when Eric Bischoff comes out and starts to make his case.  He talks about how he hobknobbed Hollywood over the last two years, and how people are talking about The Rock and his successes in Hollywood, and WWE is looking for the next breakout superstar (LOL when Bischoff ALMOST says WCW).  And more promises made by Bischoff (including a sneaker deal, for chrissake!) before Stephanie comes out to plead HER case (and to tell Bischoff to shut his damn mouth).  More digs on WCW as Steph points out to Hunter that Bischoff cast him away a long time ago when he was a curtain-jerker.  HHH starts going on about how he didn't ask to be in this position, and how he could look Bischoff dead in the eye and say "screw you" and he wouldn't like it.  He delivers the line of the night when he says he could look at Stephanie and tell her "screw you", and he knows that she WOULD like it.

He says he's made his decision, and he is just about to say he'll go to SmackDown when Shawn Michaels comes out.  He says the last thing he wants to cause any trouble, but he did say he was going to bring HHH back to RAW, to the nWo (which no longer exists, with the stroke of a damn pen...SIIIIIIIIIIGH).  Crowd starts chanting DX, which is a bit of a harbringer of things to come (not for another 4 years, though).  Shawn asks Hunter to consider two things: friends, and fun.  There is no better friend than Shawn, and there is nobody Hunter has had more fun with than Shawn.  Having heard this, HHH decides to make the jump to RAW.  How ironic, in a world where we're trying to get the F out, there are two "F's" that convinced HHH to go to RAW.  Oh, Shawn, if you only knew what was coming down the pike........

Damn, we've still got some matches to go!  Hulk Hogan and Edge defend the WWE Tag Team titles against the Un-Americans,  Lance Storm and Christian.  How ironic is it that three out of the four competitors are Canadians?  Storm cuts a promo before the match to push the Anti-American gimmick, calling Hulk Hogan the Real American Fraud.  Christian adds that freedom is just across the Detroit River; look, holmes, you need to have your damn papers before you cross...oh, wait, wrong border.  Thankfully, Edge comes out to put an end to the verbal diarrhea, although this means having to listen to Rob Zombie sing "Never Gonna Stop".  And god-to-the-dammit power, they got some generic-ass music playing over "Voodoo Child" as Hogan comes out.  I know for a damn fact that, when I was here live, Voodoo Child played loud and proud over the speakers.  Interestingly enough, Hogan was just recently re-instated into the WWE Hall of Fame after years of controversy; let's just say it's been a while since he's been in Detroit for a reason.  And HYOOGE facepalm on my end when JR talks about how Edge saved up his money to go to WrestleMania III and see Hulk Hogan defeat the Ultimate Warrior at SkyDome...everyone here knows the real number, so let's move on...oh, there we go, JR corrected himself.  Carry on.

Massive Hogan chants to start the match.  He's obviously on that nostalgia kick.  Christian catapulted outside the ring.  Crowd chants USA...and 3/4 of the competitors are Canadian.  *FACEPALM*  Hogan cleaning house and cleaning clocks.  He's in there with Storm now.  Pinball action between Hogan and Edge.  More punches in the corner on Storm.  So, we're obviously not in Japan, and he's obviously not gonna be breaking out any dropkicks.  Edge in now, flapjack and flying elbow.  Goes for a 10 punch in the corner, but Edge's storyline brother knocks him off the top rope and tags in.  I remember when Christian first broke up with Edge and "at last, was on his own!"; that was a long-time coming.  Reverse chinlock on Edge, and crowd chants for Hogan.  To his credit, he's encouraging the fans to Hulk up.  Edge looks to make the tag but Christian keeps it from happening.  JR mentions the Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup, and now Hogan's back in.  Big boot for Storm, Christian cuts Hogan off.  Unprettier DDT gets a two-count, but Hogan's got that look in his eyes.  For the love of Christ, don't punch him!  Too late, he's hulking up!  Three right hands, big leg drop, but Storm breaks up the count.  Now Hogan's on the outside, and eats a superkick from Lance Storm.  Quick tags from Christian and Storm.  Storm throws some uppercuts and then tags Christian back in.  They're really working him over now, and getting Edge to jump in the ring.  Classic heel shit right here, folks.  Malfunction at the junction, and double-clothesline on Hogan and Storm.  Edge gets the hot tag, and he's a house of fire.  Big back body drop on Storm, and one on Christian.  Storm whipped into the corner and speared, one for Christian as well.  Reverse DDT on Storm gets a two count.  Christian and Hogan on the outside.  Edge goes for a spear and nails the ref.  Edgecutioner DDT on Storm, but the ref's assed out.  Test comes down and takes out both Hogan and Edge.  Looooooong two count for Lance Storm.  Test looks to do more damage but Rikiski cuts him off.  Back to Storm and Edge in the ring.  SPEAR!  But Christian holds up the ref, and Jericho blasts Edge in the face with the title belt.  Three seconds later, the Anti-Americans are your NEEEWWWW Tag Champs!  Those damn hooligans!

Kurt Angle is dressed for battle, but Eric Bischoff meets him in the hallway and tries to talk turkey with him.  No-Name interviews Stephanie McMahon about the proceedings tonight.  She says Bischoff won the battle, but she will win the war.  I wasn't paying attention that night, and I damn sure not paying attention now.

JR recaps the PPV happenings thus far, and now, IT'S TIME!  The Rock, Kurt Angle, and the American Badass Undertaker for the WWE Undisputed Championship.  The video package shows how Taker damn near lost to HHH at King of the Ring due to Rock's interference, but Taker still got the job done.  Then he damn near loses the title to Kurt Angle due a great finish where Taker tapped right when the ref's hand went down for three.  I'm getting goosebumps watching this package over again tonight.

IF YA SMELL!  Rocky's on his way out to a HYOOGE pop.  Rock hasn't been seen on PPV since WrestleMania, when he took down Hulk Hogan at SkyDome.  Kurt out next to the You Suck chants, and no, they are not endearing to the Olympic Gold Medalist with a broken freakin' neck.  People are still mocking the fact he got his head shaved a ways back, but Kurt's put that mess behind him.  DEAD MAN WALKING!  Out comes Taker on his bike, wearing the Undisputed Championship.  Bell rings, and this shit, it is on!  Earl Hebner's your ref for this one; thank Christ we're not in Montreal tonight.

Feeling out process to start.  Rock and Taker are jawing with each other, and Kurt feels disrespected that he's not being included in the conversation, so Taker and Rock decide to kick his ass together.  Now Angle's assed out on the outside, and it's Rock and Taker.  Soup Bowl fists in the corner on the Rock, but Rock just grabs the back of Taker's head and throws that motherfucker face-first into the canvas.  Rock tosses Angle back in, and it's rock and Angle.  BOSS German suplex on Rocky, and Angle is in the driver's seat.  Angle chokes Rocky in the corner, and then chops the shit out of him.  One more for good measure, and the WOOOOOOOO's are in full force tonight.  Rock says "fuck you" and waylays Angle with some chops of his own.  But Angle goes "no, fuck YOU" and belly-to-belly's Rocky and lets out a WOO of his own.  Crowd chants "Angle sucks!", so Angle belly-to-belly's Rocky again to shut them up.  Rocky with a DDT and a near fall on Angle.  Rock and Angle on the outside now, but Taker kicks Angle right in the mush.  Now Taker's looking to get some of that Brahma Bull ass.  Taker tosses Rocky back into the ring, and unceremoniously thuds him in the corner.  Rocky blocks a right hand and fires back with rights of his own, but Taker with a sidewalk slam puts a stop to that shit right quick.  Rocky with a chokeslam on the Undertaker out of nowhere!  Cover, but Angle breaks it up.  This is some good shit so far!

Now Angle is teeing off on Rock, and he brags to the crowd, but Rock clotheslines the shit out of that guy and puts him in the Ankle Lock!  But Angle gets out of it and hits Rock with a Rock Bottom!  Taker's there to break that shit up.  Taker and Angle trading blows now, and Angle attempts an Olympic Slam, but Taker jumps out of it and gives an Olympic Slam on Angle instead!  Love this trading finishers malarkey.  Rocky nips right up and takes it to Taker.  Rocky knocks Angle off the apron and spinebusters Taker, follows it up with the People's Elbow!  Angle gets Rock and drops him on the announce table, then runs in to get the cover on Taker, but he only gets two.  Angle on the attack now on Taker in the corner.  Angle jaws with the ref, but it allows Taker to level out those Soup Bowls.  Taker charges the corner and nails Angle.  Taker checks on Rock and continues his assault on Angle.  Reverse whip on Taker, Angle charges the corner, but he eats post, and he's assed out on the floor.  Taker going after Angle while Rock is still predisposed at the US announce table.  Taker rams Angle's face off the ringpost, but Rock comes up behind Taker and spits water in his face.  Rock bounces off the announce table and hops up in one motion.  God, I love Rocky's selling sometimes.  Taker refocusing on Kurt Angle now, and Kurt's busted open.  Taker with the old school leg drop on the apron.  Massive headbutt opens that head wound up a little bit.  And now it's time for OLD SKOOL, and he nails Angle in the head again.  Cover, two, and Rocky breaks it up.  Rocky laying the smacketh down once more, but Taker with the flying DDT gets him a 2 count.  Taker measuring Rocky, but Angle has a chair on the outside.  Taker notices this and punches Angle in the face.  And now Angle is being pinballed between Rocky and Taker.  Rock with an attempted Rock Bottom, but Taker gets out of it.  Taker with an attempted chokeslam, but Rocky kicks Taker in the dick.  Since it's a Triple Threat, it's no DQ.  Angle nails Taker with a chair and gets an Olympic Slam on Rocky!  All three men are down!  Angle goes to pin Taker first, but he only gets two.  Angle rolling over to Rocky, but he only gets two here as well.  Holy shit, what a war!  It's as good as I remember seeing it live.

Angle is measuring Rocky, but he arm drags Angle and locks him in the Sharpshooter!  Angle is this close to tapping, but Taker puts a stop to that.  Taker with a boot to Rocky's midsection, and he nails the Last Ride!  Angle breaks up the pinfall at the last second, and now he's got the Ankle Lock on Taker!  But Taker rolls through and catapults Angle across the ring.  Taker with a Last Ride attempt on Angle, but Angle's got the triangle choke on Taker again.  Shades of their last WWE Title match.  Taker powerbombs the shit out of Angle, but he's still got the choke on!  Takers arm drops once...twice...and Rocky breaks up the submission hold!  Rock going for the Rock Bottom, but Angle reverses, and he's got the Ankle Lock on!  Rocky rolls through, pin, two, big kickout!  Taker chokeslams Angle, but Rocky Rock Bottoms Taker!  But it only gets two!  This is right about the time the "this is awesome" chants would be popping up today, and this damn sure awesome.  Angle rolls up Rocky with the tights, but it only gets two.  Angle with an Olympic Slam on Taker, and the straps are down!  But Rocky is right there with the Rock Bottom, and that is enough for the three!

Holy shit, this match is just as good as I remember it.  I saw this live and got goosebumps, and I have goosebumps now as I type this.  5 cannonballs.  This match definitely ranks up there with some of the greatest matches WWE has put out in history.  Now Rocky has a date with Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam...and we all know how that shit turned out.

This was a month or so in the making, but I learned it's better to do this kind of stuff in one shot.  It's just my style.  Hope you enjoyed reading the recap as much as I did typing it out.  You'll be seeing more of these kinds of things in the future.  Until then, I'll be seeing you fine folks on down the road.

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