The SmarK Rant for WWE No Mercy 2002
- Live from Little Rock, Arkansas.
- Your hosts are MC, Tazz, JR & King.
- Opening match, World tag titles: Christian & Chris Jericho v. Booker T & Goldust.
(Ah, the glory days of BookDust feuding with the Un-Americans. SO MUCH MONEY!) Booker starts with Christian (for those having trouble distinguishing the blond Canadians, Christian is the one WITHOUT the growth on his chin), and Booker gets a sidekick for two. Goldust comes in and gets a reverse crescent kick for two. Jericho tries and gets hit with a butt-butt, and he's slingshotted out of the ring. Back in, he comes back with a missile dropkick for two, and Goldust is YOUR freak-in-peril. Christian gets the legsweep for two. Goldust comes back with a clothesline on Jericho, but gets pulled back into enemy territory again. He gets a fluke rollup on Christian and a powerslam, as everyone continues to ignore the tag ropes! Hot tag Booker, and he's a house afire. Forearm for Jericho and superkick for Christian, but Jericho uses a complex counter to the axe kick - he moves. Spinebuster gets two for Booker, however. Rollup gets two. Booker crotches himself, but Goldust comes back in to bat cleanup, and hits Christian with the Shattered Nuts. Jericho gets rolled up for two as a result. Jericho reverses the Curtain Call into the Walls (does anyone EVER hit that move anymore?), but Booker breaks it up with the axe kick, and Goldust gets two. Booker gets a missile dropkick on Jericho before doing an inopportune Spinarooni, but Jericho's attempt to capitalize with his springboard dropkick BREAKS the second rope. (This was just on Are You Serious, actually!) Man, time to lose some weight, Chris. Start by shaving the beard off. They cover up pretty well, as Jericho bulldogs Goldust on the belt (despite clearly missing by a foot) and then a moonsault finishes at 8:47. Could have been a disaster, but Jericho saved it. Kinda plodding. **1/4
- A lengthy Dawn-Torrie video package kills time while they fix the ring.
- Dawn Marie v. Torrie Wilson.
(Hey, thanks for this, @SethMates) Torrie attacks on the outside, and they head in for some "clotheslines" from Torrie. Sunset flip gets two. Dawn jumps to the apron and necksnaps her, but Torrie gets an alleged baseball slide. Man, they shouldn't even try that stuff if they can't do it. Back in, Dawn stomps away and works the back. Dawn goes to the dreaded Cameltoe Clutch, and headbutts her for two. They do the catfight spot, with the ref getting involved, but Torrie suplexes her for two. Neckbreaker gets the pin at 4:40. You know how some matches look so bad on paper that they can't possibly be as bad in reality as they look? Well, this wasn't one of them. It was WORSE. –**
- RVD gets one of the worst promos ever, trying to rip off Flair but sounding completely stoned in the process. Apparently he ordered extra biscuits tonight. (There was a weird running gag behind that one that I forget the circumstances of, but it had to do with ordering “biscuits” instead of pot to circumvent the drug policy. I recall that I didn’t follow through with it very long.)
- Rob Van Dam v. Ric Flair.
Rob attacks to start on the floor, and Flair ends up in the front row as a result. Rob guillotines him on the railing and they head in, where Rob gets a missile dropkick and handspring moonsault for two. Flair comes back with chops, but gets sent into the corner and messes up yet another Flair Flip. Rob pounds away and gets a springboard dropkick for two. Flair goes low, and clips him, and goes to work on the knee early. Back to the chops and some choking, and some more chops. Man, the moveset is getting a bit limited. Rob fights back, but gets kicked in the knee again, and chopped again. I sense a pattern here. Figure-four, but Rob escapes and gets a sunset flip for two. Backslide gets two. Dropkick misses and Flair tries another figure-four, reversed for two. Flair goes up, gets slammed off, and Rolling Thunder gets two. Spinkick and frog splash finish at 7:58. This was pretty much an extended workout for RVD. *1/4
- Meanwhile, Big Show is upset at not being in main events, and shoves Bischoff around to express that displeasure. Well, if it's Eric's doing, he just got raised up another notch in my books. (Yeah, well, we all know what THIS led to.)
- Jobberweight title: Jamie Noble v. Tajiri.
Tajiri hits him with a quebrada for two to start. Noble comes back with a knee to the back and kicks away, but Tajiri shows him how THAT is done. Kneedrop gets two. Tajiri blocks a sunset flip and kicks him again for two. Noble blocks a victory roll with the Electric Chair for two. Backbreaker gets two. Noble goes to the surfboard, but Tajiri reverses. His crucifix is countered for two, however. Noble pounds him down for two. Tajiri gets a sunset flip for two, but Noble keeps on the back and goes back to the surfboard. Noble works on the back in the corner and they head up, but Tajiri misses a moonsault. He immediately recovers with a vicious tornado DDT, and both guys are out. Tajiri makes the comeback and gets a SWANK series of martial-arts strikes, which leads into the handspring elbow and a crescent kick for two. A kind of swinging Gory Special and german suplex gets two. That was unique. Tarantula sets up the Big Kick, but Noble ducks and goes for the powerbomb, which Tajiri reverses to the Big Kick. The ref is busy making out with Nidia, and the Tiger Bomb gets two for Noble as a result. Another try is blocked by Tajiri, and they reverse until Nidia trips up Tajiri and gives Noble the pin at 8:14. Good little match, although Tajiri's face turn seems to be news to the crowd. **1/2 (He’d get over bigger when he teamed up with Eddie a few months after this.)
- Meanwhile, Benoit and Eddy replay the Smackdown skit from two weeks ago, with Chavo the one allegedly being beat up in the closet this time, but it turns out that Chavo REALLY IS being beat up by Angle. Eddy isn't happy. Funny stuff.
- Fake World title: HHH v. Kane.
(So I don’t mention it in the match recap for some reason, but this was actually a unification match between World champion HHH and Intercontinental champion Kane. The idea was that RVD, as IC champion, would unify that belt with the European and Hardcore titles, in addition to the WCW US title that was unified into it in 2001, and make one SUPERBELT so that the newly created World title would absorb all their powers like Rogue stealing Ms. Marvel’s strength. Of course, this went awry when RVD dropped that Intercontinental SUPERBELT to Chris Jericho the week before his big challenge at Unforgiven, thus rendering the whole exercise pretty pointless. Then it ended up on Kane and for some reason they decided to do the unification match here instead, in the feud where, oh yeah, Kane was secretly a murderer in his teenage years and HHH ended up humping a mannequin. And then after all THAT, once HHH had gone to all the trouble of unifying all the belts into one SUPERDUPERBELT, he just goes and drops it to Shawn Michaels the NEXT MONTH. 2002 was such a fun year.) Do people actually sit at home making signs saying "Game Over" and thinking that no one has ever thought of that before? HHH tries slugging away, but gets nowhere with that. They do an awkward bit where they shove each other in the corner, and Kane gets a backdrop that nearly wasn't to send HHH bailing. Back in, Kane gets a lariat for two. He slugs away and gets a corner clothesline, but misses a charge and HHH gets a neckbreaker. Kane no-sells and gets a powerslam for two. That was a pretty ugly sequence, too. HHH tries the facebuster, but even the POWER OF THE KNEE can't slow Kane down...since he's pretty slow to begin with. Kane heads out and gets sent into the post, and the arena is silent due to all the suspense. Back in, another neckbreaker gets two. Another one gets two. I see he's been learning "Moveset Diversification 101" as a part of his training sessions with Flair. He slugs away in the corner, but runs into an elbow. He comes back with a Main Event Spinebuster for two. Choking follows. Yeah. I think it's obvious that the boredom in this match is due to Kane not knowing how to work WWE Main Event Style. I mean, where's the sleeper? Where's the spinebuster? (Oddly, Kane got pretty good in 2003 when he slimmed down and switched to his half-mask.) Kane comes back, but gets caught with the Main Event Sleeper. That drags on for a while before Kane escapes with a backdrop suplex and goes up for the flying lariat. Ric Flair runs in to break up the monotony, and the ref gets wiped out. Kane hits HHH with the big boot and fights off Flair, but gets clocked with the belt for two. The crowd boos as though anyone actually gets pinned with a belt anymore. (That one kind of went out with the New Age Outlaws as a finish, until Russo brought it back in TNA.) Hurricane runs down to pretend like he means something, but a Pedigree on the floor ends his night. Take note, young wrestlers. (I find it perversely hilarious how much trouble Rock went to in order to build up Hurricane, only to have HHH destroy him at every turn and totally negate it.) Back in, Kane comes back again with a powerslam for two. He runs into an elbow and they head up, but HHH ends up jumping into a foot. Kane boots the referee into dreamland for our second ref bump, and chokeslams HHH through the Spanish table. Back in, he stops a potential sledgehammer attack from Flair, but HHH goes low. Kane shakes it off, but HHH hits him with the hammer. Kane ignores that too and chokeslams him, but there's still no ref. That was one devastating boot. Another ref runs out and gets bumped (three ref bumps, for those keeping track), and Kane chokeslams Flair again, but the KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 16:09, in a finish that may have surprised a scientist who has been locked in BioDome 14 for the past 20 years and thus has never seen a wrestling match in his life, but for everyone else it was pretty predictable. (Coincidentally, being locked in a Biodome with nothing but 70s pop culture tapes and soap operas to watch, and never watching wrestling in your life, is a terrific way to get a job with the writing team.) I guess having multiple run-ins and three ref bumps is all part of knowing how to work. *1/2
- Meanwhile, Steph has a heart-to-heart with Jacuzzi Girl #2, and tricks her into admitting just between the two of them (and the cameraman and the 100,000 people watching) that it was all a ruse by Heyman. (Random trivia note: Jacuzzi Girl #2, who was the antagonist in a storyline where she was supposedly having an affair with Undertaker, actually had a small part in Back To The Future Part II. I have no idea why someone bothered cross-referencing that role, but that’s the internet for you.)
- WWE tag title finals: Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle v. Rey Mysterio & Edge.
Angle starts with Edge and dominates on the mat, then tosses him into the corner like a lawn dart. Rey won't give him the satisfaction of tagging out, however. That's a cool bit of storytelling. Angle goes back to it, but Rey stomps on his foot to break a go-behind, and gets a seated dropkick and a flying headscissors. He takes a powder while Angle fumes. Now Angle gets Edge, and they take it to the mat. Edge hiptosses him and dropkicks him, and Angle is still frustrated. Benoit gets his shot at Edge, and they go to the mat and trade armbars. Good stuff. Benoit works a headlock, but runs into a knee and takes a gutbuster for two. Backbreaker gets two. Edge works him in the corner, but gets chopped WITH AUTHORITY. Edge flapjacks him to stop that, and an Oklahoma roll gets two. Angle knees him in the back to turn the tide, but Edge spears him off the apron to retaliate. Rollup on Benoit gets two, but Angle gets the last laugh with a necksnap that allows Benoit to clothesline Edge for two. Dig that crazy teamwork! They work him over in the corner and Kurt makes with the choking, but Edge fights back. Kneelift gets two for Angle. Angle grabs a chinlock/bodyscissors combo to keep Edge grounded, and then a belly-to-belly. Back in the heel corner, Benoit comes in and unloads the CANADIAN VIOLENCE, and wears him out with knees to the gut. Rolling germans and Benoit stops to send Mysterio flying before heading up. Edge blocks and follows him up with a superplex, and tags abound. Rey is on fire with a headscissors on Benoit to set up a seated dropkick in the corner, and a dropkick that sends Angle out. He guillotines Benoit between the ropes, for two. Edge and Angle slug it out and hit the floor, and Benoit blocks the Rube Goldberg Bulldog and slaps on the crossface. AWESOME. Edge saves that, but Angle sends him out again. Benoit gets sent into the ropes, but the 619 is blocked by Benoit ala Smackdown, but Edge reverses THAT with a missile dropkick for two. Wild! Rey heads up but falls victim to the Pop-Up Superplex, and Benoit gets two. We go back to standard tag format again, as God's Team works Rey over in the corner and Rey is YOUR midget-in-peril. (Clearly Benoit is no longer playing for God’s Team.) See, that's extended Rock N Roll Express formula, as there's one hot tag 15:00 in, and then you switch off the face-in-peril role and do the other half of the match. Backbreaker gets two for Angle. They do a double-reversal of a suplex, but Angle gets an overhead suplex for two. Benoit gets the proverbial backdrop with icicles on it for two. Backdrop suplex gets two. More Canadian Violence (also with icicles on it, because Canada is so cold this time of year), but he charges and hits boot. Rey uses a headscissors to send him into the turnbuckles, and it's hot tag to Edge. Backdrop for Angle, faceplant for Benoit, Edge-o-Matic for Angle, and it's the old Chinese Fire Drill. That actually sounds like a finisher in Japan. (Can’t you just picture the Japanese announcers yelling “CHINEEEEEEEEESE FIRRRRRRRRRE DRILLLLLLLL-O!” for Tanahashi or someone like that? Although I guess “fire drill” would be an exceptionally tough phrase for a Japanese-speaking announcer to pull off.) Edge spears Benoit in the corner to set up a Broncobuster from Rey Rey, and Edge puts Angle on top and alley- oops Rey into a top rope rana. That is so awesome it should debut on Billboard's "Things That Are Awesome" chart at #1, and the Modern Rock chart at #3 (Sadly, it would get knocked off by the new Adele song, like every other chart today.) . Spear gets two. Angle hits him with a german and Benoit goes for the crossface, but Edge makes the ropes. Rey breaks that up with the 619, but gets hit with the Angle Slam, and that leaves Edge and Angle. Anklelock is reversed to a rollup for two. Spear gets two. Either of those could have been the finish. Edge tosses Rey onto Benoit from a powerbomb position, but walks into the Anklelock. He can't make the ropes, so he reverses to his own, but you're playing with fire doing Angle's move, so Angle reverses for the submission at 22:03 and that, ladies and germs, is YOUR Match of the Year. Hands down. ****3/4 Big ups to everyone involved. (And in this case, I was RIGHT. This did in fact win the WON Match of the Year award. Booyah!)
- Meanwhile, Undertaker gets an injection of something against the doctor's better wishes. Make your own jokes here.
- Women's title: Trish v. Victoria.
Again, I beg, bring back Trish's old entrance. Victoria works a headlock to start and overpowers Trish, but gets clotheslined for two. Kawada kicks by Trish get two. Victoria bails, but gets clotheslined on the floor. Victoria drops her on the railing, and they head back in. Victoria gets a slingshot legdrop for two. A really bad monkey-flip follows and they head up, where Trish gets the handstand rana for two. Victoria gets a body vice, but Trish reverses to a bridge for two. Sloppy. Victoria smacks her down and gets a needlessly complex sideslam, but decides to go up and gets hit with an Electric Chair for two. They slug it out and Trish flattens her with a Kawada Kick for two. Neckbreaker and rollup get the pin at 5:33. Bad and heatless, but they needed something to cool off the crowd after the tag match. 1/2*
- WWE title, Hell in a Cell: Brock Lesnar v. Undertaker.
Speaking of Brock, I was watching the other half of the OVW compilation (the video kept breaking up so I can't rant properly) but I HAVE seen the Shooting Brock Press, and it IS as awesome as promised. (Well, once it officially debuted in WWE, it wouldn’t be that awesome, sadly.) Shelton Benjamin doing a 450 is nothing to sneeze at, either. Brock gets a powerslam to start, for two. Undertaker uses the cast to come back, however. Brock bails, but pounds away on Taker. He goes after the hand and goes to an armbar, but gets nailed with the cast again. Brock bleeds as a result. They head out and Taker sends him into the cage and jumps on his head. Taker gets two on the floor and keeps introducing Brock to the cage. Paul tries to reach through the cage and help, but Taker sends him into the railing, and HE blades, too. Brock meets the stairs, but comes back to send Taker into the cage and take over. More brawling out there. He pounds away with a STEEL chair, and works on the hand with it, although you can pretty clearly see that the actual hand was out of the cast. He tries to pull the cast off, but Taker fights him off. He finally gets it off and works on the hand, but can't get a superplex. Taker walks the ropes and drops an elbow (falling on the "broken" hand) for two. Whatever was in that needle, they should sell it on the open market. They'd make MILLIONS. (And then Jeff Hardy would get caught with it in his house and do more jail time.) Brock heads to the apron, but gets sent into the cage, and Taker follows with a dive. Brock hits him in the face with the stairs a couple of times, and Taker does a GORY bladejob off that, hitting 0.9 Muta within seconds. Back in, Brock gets a Main Event Spinebuster for two. Brock slugs away, but Taker fights back with his "broken" hand (I guess you could call that reverse psychology), showing no ill effects. Man, can't you at least punch the guy with your OTHER hand? He starts stomping on Brock's hand, but Brock pulls him down to block the ropewalk. Taker is gushing blood all over the mat, and Brock goes for the F5, which Taker reverses to the chokeslam (again, with the broken hand) for two. Taker charges and hits boot, but Brock's attempt at a powerbomb is reversed. DDT gets two for UT. Brock stupidly pounds away in the corner, and UT powerbombs him for two. Taker drips blood by Brock's mouth while covering, giving us our yucky spot of the night. I believe dripping blood in your opponent's mouth officially makes it 1.2 Muta and sets a new standard. Tombstone is reversed to the F5 at 27:14. I think a lot of people are being pretty liberal with the praise for this match because of the blood, but I'm personally sick of the NCAA champion WRESTLER being used in these stand-up slugfests that even Sid Vicious could do with the right booking in order to disguise other people's weaknesses. For what it was, it was good, but it's time to find someone who can hang with Brock in a wrestling match and let him expand past the kick/punch mentality of the "WWE Main Event Style". Plus Undertaker's magically-healing hand injury was pretty annoying, too. And don't give me this "You have to give the Undertaker credit for doing the right thing" garbage, either - he should have done "the right thing" the month before and for about a dozen other people before this. Doing one job with a broken hand and a blackmail threat hanging over you isn't exactly Ric Flair making Sting into a superstar at the first Clash, ya know? *** (Maybe, but holy shit was this a great brawl. 2002 Scott was pretty bitter about Undertaker at that point, rightly so, but here’s my redone version from a couple of years ago to set things right again:)
WWE World title: Brock Lesnar v. The Undertaker
From No Mercy 2002, as Undertaker was supposed to job to Brock at the previous PPV but "wasn't feeling it", so they did a double DQ and set this up instead. Boy, this match would be a lot different and more interesting today, what with Undertaker's fascination with MMA and Brock being, you know, UFC heavyweight champion and all. Undertaker has a "broken" hand stemming from an angle on Smackdown, although I'm sure there was some other actual reason for the cast. Taker charges in and pounds away on Brock to start, but gets powerslammed for two. Taker comes back and threatens to backhand him with the cast, so Brock bails and takes a breather. Back in, Brock pounds on the cast in the corner, then goes to an armbar. See, who says Brock doesn't have submission skills? Taker hits him with the cast to escape, then puts him down again with a straight shot to the head with it. Hey, it's all legal, why not? Brock is bleeding already (super abrasive plaster, I suppose) and Taker beats on him outside and sends him into the stairs. Brock takes a nice bump into the cage and I immediately miss JR calling this. Taker sends him into the cage again and clotheslines him on the rebound for two, as it's still falls count anywhere in 2002.
Back to the cage for the Brock and they head into the ring, as Taker clobbers him with the cast again and adds the guillotine legdrop on the apron. An awkward knee off the top gets two. Back to the floor as Paul Heyman flails away through a hole in the cage, but Taker boots him into the railing and even the MANAGER is bleeding. UT grabs Heyman by the tie and rams him into the cage a few times as well in a fun spot, but he charges and hits the cage. Brock, caveman that he is, uses a double-leg to ram Taker into the post and then into the cage. He should have just been in UFC all along. Heyman lends Brock his belt and they tie Taker to the cage with it, and that allows Brock to abuse the broken hand with a chair as well. See, I like that they're going in a totally different direction with this match, ramping up the blood and personal violence rather than trying for gimmicky bumps and cute ways to escape the cage. Back in the ring, Brock stomps away on the hand and gets the cast off, but he doesn't even want to use it himself because he's a REAL FUCKING MAN. He continues working on the hand instead. They head up to the top, and it's more innovation as Brock swings from the top of the cage and kicks Taker RIGHT IN THE FACE. That's a pretty low ceiling, actually. Taker fights him off and ropewalks over to drop an elbow, and that gets two. Brock escapes to the apron, but Taker boots him into the cage and follows with the suicide dive. Unfortunately they don't have enough room to pull it off properly and it falls kind of flat, with both guys just kind of going into the cage. Brock clotheslines him and then adds a shot from the stairs, and Taker does a SPECTACULAR blade, literally pouring blood out of his head. He bleeds Booger Red! Brock is so inspired that he hits him with the stairs again.
Back in, Taker is still fighting, but Brock hits him with a spinebuster and pounds away in the corner. They slug it out and Taker puts him with down with a clothesline, then stomps the hand for some revenge. He goes old school, but Brock just throws him off the top. Taker is still bleeding all over the place. Brock tries the F5, but Taker escapes and chokeslams him for two. Corner clothesline, but Brock catches him with a boot on the second try and sets up for a piledriver. UT reverses out and hits a DDT for two. Last Ride is blocked by Brock and he pounds away in the corner, but that's never a good idea. And indeed, that earns him the Last Ride, but it only gets two because Brock is in the ropes. That's right, there's no rules in this match except for "the ropes are out of bounds." You can smash chairs in the face of your opponent, but god forbid you pin someone while they're in the ropes. Taker goes for the tombstone, but it's F5 and good night at 27:15. Finish could have been stronger, but Brock looked like a beast and this was a very different style of match than the previous stunt shows were. ****1/2
(That’s better. They definitely earned that one.)
The Bottom Line:
Do two good matches save an entire show? I don't think so - I'd recommend getting the show in order to see the amazing Smackdown tag title finals (and for the main event if you're a gore freak), but while bad main events will usually drag a good PPV down to thumbs down levels, good main events can't always rescue what was cruising at thumbs-down levels beforehand.
Call it a thumbs up show on the strength of the tag title match and main event, but take note - everything else was forgettable junk and there but for the grace of Benoit goes the show. (This had the MATCH OF THE YEAR and a ****1/2 Hell in a Cell main event! THUMBS UP, jerk!)