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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Judgment Day 2002

June 27, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Judgment Day 2002  

Judgment Day 2002
by J.D. Dunn

It seems I caused a bit of controversy when I referred to Hulk Hogan’s 2002 reign as “failed,” so here are the numbers.

There were five champions in 2002 prior to the titles being split. Here are the Average Combined Ratings for Raw & Smackdown:

-Jericho – 8.55 (4.56 for Raw, 3.96 for Smackdown)
-Triple H – 8.90 (5.02 for Raw, 3.88 for Smackdown)
-Hogan – 7.80 (4.43 for Raw, 3.38 for Smackdown)
-Undertaker – 7.03 (3.82 Raw, 3.21 Smackdown)
-The Rock – 7.16 (3.92 Raw, 3.24 Smackdown)

So, things we can infer from the ratings data:

-If you extend the data back to 2001 to include his entire reign, Chris Jericho, despite his reputation among non-smart fans (stupid fans?), increased ratings from the Austin 2001 era and had a higher average than Triple H if you account for things like Jericho being champion during the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve shows.

-Triple H was the highest-drawing champion among the pre-split champions, mainly benefitting from a post-Mania Raw bounce (Smackdown ratings actually dropped under HHH from the Jericho reign).

-The Undertaker was the lowest-drawing champion of the pre-split era. Interestingly, in terms of ratings during the Raw era, he’s also the highest-rated reign in WWE history back in 1999.

-Hulk Hogan, however, had the biggest drop, over a full ratings point from his predecessor. Both Raw and Smackdown dropped by .5 or more. From a ratings and creative standpoint, it was definitely a failure.

-Rocky stopped the bleeding but didn’t provide the bounce they were probably looking for. Creatively, though, he managed to get Brock Lesnar over as more than just another monster.

So, I feel comfortable calling Hogan’s 2002 reign failed, but more importantly, I think the booking was just atrocious from No Way Out through the end of 2002, so I don’t think any of these guys deserve blame. Besides, Hogan had already proved himself with his 1980s run and by delivering WCW to the promised land.


This would be the first WWE PPV after the World Wildlife Fund filed suit over the use of “WWF.”

  • May 19, 2002
  • Live from Nashville, Tenn.
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

  • Opening Match, Intercontinental Title: Eddy Guerrero vs. Rob Van Dam.
    Eddy was comfortably back in the WWE at this point and had lost most of the edge he developed in the indies. As a result, he’s wrestling more like Cheating Bastard Eddy and less like Robo-Eddy. Rob gets more offense here than he did in their previous outings. In fact, he controls for most of the early going. Rolling Thunder gets two, but Eddy crotches Rob on the top to block the moonsault. Eddy misses the frogsplash this time (in a reversal from Backlash). Van Dam misses the Five-Star, so they’re even. That leads to a double KO spot, and they recover with the staredown. Eddy dares him to charge, and they run the ropes. Van Dam comes out on top with a crossbody for two. He tries a backslide for two, but Eddy blocks a spinkick and gets his own backslide (with his feet on the ropes, of course) to retain the title at 10:58. **1/2

  • In the back, Reverend D-Von says a prayer for the safety of Stacy Keibler. Deacon Batista, in his first WWE PPV appearance, holds the donation box.
  • WWE Women’s Title: Trish Stratus (w/Bubba Dudley) vs. Stacy Keibler (w/Rev. D-Von & Deacon Batista).
    See, the Dudz broke up amicably, but Bubba became friends with Trish Stratus while D-Von was in the service of Vince thanks to his generation donations to the church. The Dudz got drawn into this as a result. Stacy knocks Trish down with the power of the wind from her missed spinkick. They exchange rollups early, and Stacy gets sent to the floor where Bubba laughs at her. The ref tells Bubba to stay away from her, so Batista hops in and bodyslams Trish. That only gets two. You’d think a big guy like that would be able to finish Trish off, but no. She boots Stacy in the chest and goes after Batista with a dropkick. She’s a little spitfire. The bulldog finishes Stacy at 2:53. This was more to get the Dudleyz out there than to have an actual match. 1/4*

  • After the match, Bubba offers to make nice with D-Von, but Batista attacks him from behind, and they put Bubba through a table.
  • In the back, Vince McMahon barges in on a meeting between Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. Suddenly, they like each other because both guys are heels now. It’s just horrible writing to have two guys suddenly want to make out because they fall along some imaginary heel/face litmus test. They imply that neither guy really likes the other anyway, but there’s no reason for them to make nice at all.
  • The Hardy Boyz vs. Brock Lesnar & Paul Heyman.
    Heyman is actually a better tag partner for Lesnar than Shawn Stasiak was at Insurrextion because at least Paul has sense enough to stay out of the way. Brock starts (duh) and destroys Matt as the crowd chants, “Goldberg.” Matt hits a Tornado DDT and tags Jeff. The Hardyz manage to get Brock on the floor and go after Heyman. Jeff sets up for the Swanton, but Brock gets in the way. Jeff gets two off a crossbody, but Brock knocks him into Matt and finishes with the F5 at 4:46. Lesnar looked impressive, but they were having problems distinguishing him from any number of big stiffs that came through the WWE over the years. *

  • Booker T, the nWo’s newest member, hits on a ringrat. How did she get backstage, and more importantly, why did they have her standing with the production equipment instead of one of the plush offices? She gives him her hotel key. By the way, Ric Flair picking Booker T to be the nWo’s newest member just shows that they had NO idea what they were doing when it came to all three.
  • Handicap Match: The Big Show & Ric Flair vs. Steve Austin.
    Austin takes them both on early, stomping Show low and working his leg. He locks in the figure-four on Flair. His gruff “woo!” is pretty funny. They keep doubleteaming him, though, so Austin grabs a chair to force a standoff. Charles Robinson gets the match settled down, and they thankfully go with Flair vs. Austin instead of Show vs. Austin, because that was an atrocious match at Insurrextion. Flair lays in some HARD chops, but Austin chops him back. Show finally tags in. I should point out that he looks like a puffed-up Gerard Butler with that beard. Flair waits for Show to get the advantage and tags back in. He gets caught going up, though, and Austin slams him off. Show tags in, and Flair instructs him to work Austin’s leg. Austin gets his own figure-four on Flair, though. Show breaks it up, but Austin fights back against both guys. X-Pac runs down (because the 16x World Champ and largest athlete in the world just couldn’t get the job done). He accidentally nails Show with a spinkick, allowing Austin to finish with the Stunner at 15:37. WAY too long for a handicap match, especially one where they spend five minutes working on the leg only to finish with an X-Pac run in. *3/4

  • Hair vs. Hair: Edge vs. Kurt Angle.
    One of the guys who really benefited from the brand extension was Edge, who took advantage of the thinner roster and gained gravitas with every performance. Of course, feuding with red hot Kurt Angle didn’t hurt. Edge rolls him up and tosses Kurt early, but Kurt belly-to-belly suplexes him over the top to the floor to take over. He works Edge over with suplexes and such. Edge comes back and dropkicks Angle to the floor. He gets a close two with a crossbody off the top. He hits the Edgecution and goes up, but Angle pops up and belly-to-belly superplexes him for two. Edge comes back with a DDT for two, but Angle ducks a spear, and Edge spears the referee. Angle sneaks up on him with a full-rotation German Suplex. Angle grabs a chair, but Edge spears him. No ref. Angle blocks a second spear, but Edge slips out of the Angleslam and hits it on another try! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Kurt is the master of the last-millisecond kickout. Angle blocks the Edgecution and spears Edge! ANGLESLAM! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! DOWN COME THE STRAPS! Angle goes for the Anklelock, but Edge enzuigiris him. Angle stays with it and reapplies the hold. Oh, but Edge spins over, kicks Angle into the ropes, and small packages him on the rebound at 15:29. Fantastic finish. So good, in fact, that Angle has repeated it with every opponent capable of keeping up with him. Another winner from these guys, and it served as a template for the multi-reversal formula Angle would use with Benoit, Eddy and just about everyone else. ***3/4

  • We catch up with Booker T at the Marriott. His ringrat tells him to turn out the lights, so he does. Suddenly, he hears a male voice begging him to leave the nWo and come back to ::inhale:: Goldust. Booker runs out in the hall with his ass hanging out.
  • Hell in a Cell: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho.
    This was carryover from WrestleMania, only instead of being a surrogate for Stephanie (who was “banned from television forever”), Jericho was a surrogate for Vince. Hunter hits the high knee and tosses Jericho early. Chris goes to the eyes and chops away in the corner, but he misses a charge and posts himself. Hunter punches him for a while until Jericho reverses a whip and sends him over the top. Jericho gets sent into the steps but catapults Hunter into the mesh. He pulls out a ladder and slams it into Hunter’s face. Jericho bulldogs Hunter into the ladder. That seems to piss Hunter off, and he tosses the steps in Jericho’s face. Referee Tim White gets bumped, so he’s unable to count Jericho’s pinfall attempt after he hits Hunter in the head with a chair. Jericho says, “son of a bitch!” for the 1,300th time in the match and beats up the ref. The other refs open the cell door to get Tim White out. Meanwhile, Hunter smashes Jericho in the head with the sledgehammer. No ref to count, though. Jericho crawls to the door and slams it in HHH’s face. They brawl to the Spanish table where Jericho sets up for the Pedigree. Hunter counters and DDTs Jericho through the table, though. Hunter grabs a barbed-wire 2×4 and chases Jericho up to the top of the cage. He makes the mistake of tossing it up, so Jericho just grabs it and hits him with it. Duh. Jericho locks in the Walls of Jericho on top of the cell as another ref crawls up. The match continues on top of the cell (because that somehow is supposed to make sense). Jericho blocks the Pedigree once, but Hunter nails him in the head with the 2×4. That sets up another Pedigree on top of the cell for the win at 24:31. These two don’t have much chemistry with this face/heel alignment. There was just no emotion to any of this, even though they tried to recreate some of the famous Hell in the Cell spots. Sure, it had brutality, but so do a dozen “death matches” on the indy circuit every year. **3/4

  • At WWFNY, Maven (who reminds me of a young Barack Obama with crazy eyebrows) has drinks with Torrie Wilson.
  • In the back, Angle tries to hide from Edge.
  • Billy & Chuck vs. Rikishi & A Mystery Partner.
    Vince McMahon picked Rikishi’s partner, and it happens to be… Rico! See, Rico was Billy & Chuck’s manager, so Rikishi is totally getting screwed over on PPV in what amounts to a handicap match. That’s what we call a Smackdown angle because you’re supposed to screw the guy over on TV and let him get revenge on PPV. In fact, this goes just like a Smackdown match. Rikishi fights off the blonde guys until Rico’s interference backfires. Rikishi squashes Chuck with his giant ass for the win and the titles at 3:52. Silly and counterproductive as Rikishi hadn’t been over since turning heel on the Rock and Austin. I’m not a huge Billy & Chuck fan, but they were starting to gain a bit of heat before this. 1/2*

  • Edge finally catches up with Angle, but he gets more than he bargained for as Angle jumps him and drags him all the way back out to the barber chair by the entrance. Edge suddenly reverses and puts Angle out with the sleeper. He shaves Angle’s head bald, and that’s the look Angle has stuck with ever since.
  • Recap of the hilariously bad Hogan-Undertaker build. Okay, leaving aside the fact that they were trying to redesign the Undertaker as a new age heel yet trying to turn Hogan back to the guy he was in 1987, there was the laughable segment where Hogan was supposed to steal Undertaker’s bike – only he couldn’t get it started, leaving Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler to stifle laughter as they called the “action.” That was exceeded only by Taker dragging Hogan (in a big, bulky protective leather jacket) around the back with his motorcycle
  • Undisputed WWE Title: Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker.
    Undertaker whips Hogan with Hogan’s own weightlifting belt. Hogan Hulks up and takes the belt back. Now it is Taker on the receiving end. Earl Hebner finally takes it away from him and starts the match. To the outside, Hogan whips Taker into the ringsteps. Back in, Taker tries to go Old School, but Hogan crotches him on the turnbuckle. SUPERPLEX! It gets two. Taker ducks a swing and chops Hogan’s leg out from under him. Taker works a leglock for a bit. Hogan makes the big comeback and hits the big boot. Taker counters the legdrop to a half-crab. This was during his UFC period, after all. Hogan makes the ropes. Taker pummels him, but Hogan dodges a big boot, causing Taker to crotch himself on the top rope. Taker shrugs it off and hits a weak chokeslam. ONE, TWO–NO! Hogan Hulks up again and hits the legdrop. ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Taker kicks out. He drops Hulk with a DDT, forcing Hogan to Hulk up again. Smackdown owner Vince McMahon comes down to distract the referee as Hogan boots the chair back in Taker’s face and drops a leg. As the ref escorts McMahon out, Taker hits Hogan with a chair and finishes him with a much better chokeslam at 11:08. Much better than their early 90’s matches, but that’s not saying a lot. Thankfully, this ends one of the most laughable feuds in WWE history, although there was still the problem of having Taker as champion… *1/4
  • The 411: The WWE's brand extension staggered out of the gate and never really recovered as ratings still haven't reached the point where they were in early 2002. It was all part of an ongoing trend that started back in 2000, but now it was more glaring because the booking was so excruciating, and they were missing so many opportunities. The only thing they got right was Brock Lesnar's uberpush. The midcard saved them at Backlash, but lightning doesn't strike twice.

    Thumbs down.

    Final Score:  5.0   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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