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Dark Pegasus Video Review: King of the Ring 2002

June 29, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: King of the Ring 2002  

King of the Ring 2002
by J.D. Dunn

With plummeting ratings, stagnant buyrates, and horrible creative decisions, the WWE was in turmoil. Steve Austin walked out of the promotion after being asked to put Brock Lesnar over, leaving Eddy Guerrero in the lurch because Austin begged to work with someone good after months of facing Big Show and the Undertaker.

The WWE rushed Chris Benoit and the Rock back, hoping to fill the void left by Austin. Rock gave a memorable speech, telling everyone that the door was open if they wanted to walk out.

Another returning wrestler they hoped would fill that void was Shawn Michaels, who shocked the world by joining the nWo on Raw. He was in a managerial role at the time, but it would eventually lead to one of the biggest comebacks in wrestling history.

  • June 23, 2002
  • Live from Columbus, Ohio.
  • Your hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler.

  • Opening Match, King of the Ring Semi-Finals: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho.
    They battle over a wristlock early on. Both men miss clotheslines. Van Dam delivers a reverse elbow and they both go for dropkicks. Jericho slaps him in the face, so Van Dam returns the favor with the side of his foot. Van Dam delivers a monkey flip. Jericho comes back with a flying forearm. Jericho springboards but misses the crossbody. Van Dam follows him out with a somersault plancha. Back in, Van Dam hits a sidekick and goes up for the Frog Splash. Jericho kicks the ref into the ropes, crotching Van Dam on the top rope. Jericho double-arm superplexes him for two. A leg scissor rollup gets two for Van Dam. Jericho clotheslines him for two and unties the top turnbuckle. Van Dam small packages Jericho for two, but the ref is busy trying to repair the turnbuckle. Jericho drops Van Dam with the Breakdown. It only gets two, so Jericho unties his wrist tape and chokes him with it. Jericho misses the running vertical splash against the ropes. He comes back with a surfboard stretch. Van Dam avoids a charge in the corner, and Jericho’s shoulder goes right into the post. A springboard kick nets two for Van Dam. He cartwheels into a moonsault for two. Jericho avoids the leg sweep and drops Van Dam with an enzuigiri. That gets two. Van Dam avoids the bulldog but takes a German Suplex. It only gets two. Van Dam hot shots Jericho on the ropes and delivers a split-legged moonsault. That gets two. Van Dam reverses the Walls of Jericho to a rollup for two. Jericho misses a dropkick but avoids going into the exposed turnbuckle off a slingshot. Van Dam goes into it instead. Jericho gets the bulldog, but the Lionsault misses. Van Dam spinkicks him and goes up for the Five Star Frogsplash. IT MISSES! The Lionsault hits. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Van Dam goes for a huracanrana. Jericho counters to the Walls of Jericho. Van Dam easily makes the ropes. They fight on the turnbuckle. Van Dam kicks Jericho back into the ring and finishes him with Five Star Frogsplash at 14:32. Not as bad as some said at the time, but not as great as others (Jericho) said. Van Dam was still working on working matches that didn’t involve him doing the same spots every time out. ***1/2

  • After the match, Jericho puts Van Dam in the Walls of Jericho, injuring him further.
  • In the back, Paul Heyman celebrates and tells Brock Lesnar that it’s time to prove his worth.
  • King of the Ring Semifinals: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Test.
    Both of these guys are heels, which is odd. Not that I’m against that because it makes the tournament feel more authentic. Test assumes the babyface role for the match, though, which means he gets his ass kicked throughout. Things get pretty sloppy, and Test has to lead Brock into a sideslam sequence so they can reset. Test hits the Full Nelson slam for two, but Brock slips out of the Pump-Handle Slam. Test hits it on a second try, but it only gets two. The fans were buying the upset. Big Boot! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Heyman (and the crowd) nearly has a heart attack. Heyman distracts Test to break up another Big Boot. That allows Lesnar to finish with the F5 at 8:18. This was practically the “Lesnar Finish” because Heyman’s interference leading to the F5 was used so often in 2002. Test actually had people believing those few nearfalls, helping the match recover after an awkward start. **

  • Bubba Ray Dudley puts over Raw for putting two guys in the finals, but he says Rob isn’t getting past Brock. Well, he’s realistic.
  • Lance Storm and Christian are disgusted by the lack of Canadians in the finals. Storm says America is biased against Canadians.
  • Recap of Jamie Noble and Nidia tormenting Nidia’s old boyfriend, the Hurricane.
  • Cruiserweight Title: The Hurricane vs. Jamie Noble (w/Nidia).
    Jamie was in his Redneck Jesus phase after having finished his WCW tenure as Mini-Benoit. These days, he’s somewhere in the middle. This is a revisitation of the epic Three Count versus Jung Dragons feud only without all that pesky Karagias. Hurricane is still basically wrestling like Sugar Shane Helms and not like a superhero as he would once he moved to Raw. Nidia screws up grabbing Helms’ ankle, so he has to turn around and scowl at her for no real reason. He gives chase, and Noble nails him with a clothesline to take over. Hurricane makes the… superman comeback [::groan::], but Noble keeps trapping him with abdominal stretches. Hurricane comes back and gets two off the Eye of the Hurricane. Noble charges and gets suplexed to the floor (and catches his knee on the apron – OUCH!). Nidia grabs Hurricane and kisses him to provide a distraction, so Noble baseball slides him. Back in, they fight on top, and Hurricane hits a super neckbreaker. Cool. Nidia has the ref distracted, though. Noble tries to capitalize, but Hurricane catches him with the CHOKESLAM! Helms goes up, but Noble crotches him and hits a powerbomb. Nidia shoves Helms’ foot off the bottom rope, and Noble picks up the win and the title at 11:58. I’m shocked that they gave them this much time. It was a very WWE match, though, based on gimmicks and wacky storylines. I know conventional wisdom says that’s what draws, but there needs to be some separation between the styles of the cruiserweights and heavyweights, otherwise there’s no reason to watch the little guys because the heavyweights can do the same thing. **1/2

  • Recap of the returning Chris Benoit and his buddy Eddy Guerrero turning Ric Flair back face after about two thrilling months.
  • Eddy Guerrero vs. Ric Flair.
    Eddy was oozing sleaze at this point, thus making him awesome. Flair shocks the hell out of me by MOVING across the ring. Wow, has he deteriorated in the ensuing six years. They work the Flair-Steamboat formula if Ricky Steamboat was a lying, cheating bastard with a mullet. Flair still cheats, though, and shrugs off everything Eddy does because he’s cool. Finally, Eddy dropkicks Flair in the knee and takes over. He works the leg like… well, like Flair. That leads to a cheeky figure-four from Eddy. Flair chops his way back and dodges the frogsplash. He goes for the figure-four, and here comes Chris Benoit. Eddy makes the ropes and rolls Flair up for two. A Tornado DDT gets two, but Flair gets his foot on the bottom rope. Eddy distracts the ref while Benoit drags Flair to the floor and applies the Crippler Crossface. The ref tosses Benoit because he knows he was doing something. That allows Bubba Dudley to sneak in and hit Eddy with the Bubba Bomb. Flair covers and gets the win at 17:03. This REALLY did not need all the interference. I realize that they wanted to set up Bubba against Eddy & Benoit at Vengeance, but there are other ways to do that besides screwing up a perfectly good match. This might be Flair’s last match where he had all of his physical capabilities and didn’t have to be carried. ***

  • William Regal and Chris Nowinkski (who just might be the first wrestler to win the Nobel Prize, although we all know that Norman the Lunatic’s work in Cold Fusion was overlooked) enjoy their time at WWFNY.
  • WWF Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly.
    This was during Molly’s virgin phase. That was also her “Molly has a fat ass” phase. Wow, she has TWO gimmicks. She has to get over. Who booked this crap – the mean girls from Carrie? Jim Ross notes that it’s illegal to sell a thong to a man in Oklahoma. I find it disturbing that he’d know that. Molly tries to work Trish’s arm, but that goes nowhere. Trish does a lot of rollups. Molly misses the Molly-Go-Round, but she reverses Trish’s rollup and grabs a handful of tights to win the Women’s Title at 5:40. The fat-assed virgin thing was dropped after a few months, as was Molly’s push. As with most angles in 2002, they completely misjudged the audience. The snotty virgin thing might have had some traction á la CM Punk’s “straight-edge says I’m better than you” heel gimmick, but the fat ass thing took it too far. Why does that make her a heel? As Kim Kardashian has shown, big asses are quite a beautiful thing. *1/2

  • Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle.
    Angle still has his Buddy Roberts amateur headgear and wig on. See, he didn’t want anyone else seeing that he was bald. Speaking of which, Hogan is wearing a red ‘do rag. Hogan tosses Angle from pillar-to-post early and threatens to rip off Angle’s headgear. Angle goes after his legs and grounds him with a chinlock. He hits the Angleslam, but Hogan hulks up and rips off his headgear, revealing Kurt’s bald head. Angle avoids the big boot but gets pissed off at Hogan mocking his bald head (oh, how’s that for chutzpah?!). He charges with a chair but misses and smashes himself in the head as the chair bounces off the ropes. That sets up the big boot and the legdrop, but Angle grabs Hogan’s leg and turns it into the Anklelock. Hogan tries to hold out, but he has to tap at 12:09. Hogan tapping was pretty shocking for the time. The Hogan miracle comeback formula was wasted on Kurt. **1/4

  • Goldust imitates the Rock, which rubs Booker T the wrong way. The real Rock walks in and shows him how it’s done. He gives Booker a pep talk and chastises Goldust for… well, being Goldust. Funny stuff.
  • King of the Ring Finals: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Rob Van Dam.
    See, this is just silly because the tournament final could have been an AFC vs. NFC or National League vs. American League-style final with brand supremacy on the line as well. Instead, they divided up the wrestlers between the brands so Raw and Smackdown wrestlers were meeting in the semis. Rob tries a smart strategy – kicking Brock’s legs out from under him. Brock catches him with a powerbomb, though, and spends the next few minutes feasting on Van Dam’s jugular. Lesnar misses a charge and posts his shoulder, so Rob Van Dam, Super Gee-nee-uss, goes back to the legs. Van Dam hits the Five-Star Frogsplash, but Heyman snaps his throat on the top rope. It nearly backfires as Van Dam lands on Lesnar for two. Van Dam comes off the top, but Brock catches him in mid-air and finishes with the F5 at 5:43. Well, this was just a squash to put Lesnar over as the “next big thing.” Van Dam barely even got in his usual spots. He did have a decent strategy early on, though. **

  • In the back, Triple H runs into the nWo and gets a greeting not unlike Lando gave Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. They seem to be on good terms, but Hunter is a little skeptical.
  • Undisputed Heavyweight Title: The Undertaker vs. Triple H.
    Paul Heyman joins the commentary table as a representative of Brock because he’s got next. The crowd is hot during the intros, but after three minutes of “action,” they’re dead. That should tell you something about the quality of the match. Taker “methodically” works Hunter over. “Methodically” really implies that he has a calculated plan, and that’s not the case. This is bringing back fond memories of their Insurrextion match. Heyman explains that the Rock won’t be joining us for the rest of the evening because Brock Lesnar punked him out in the locker room. Hunter comes back with the saddest spinebuster in all of Spinebuster Forrest. Taker tries his Snake Eyes into a big boot, but Hunter cuts him off with a high knee. Hunter goes for the Pedigree, but Taker reverses to a catapult and sends him right in to Earl Hebner. The Rock comes down and chases Paul Heyman off. Hunter and Taker brawl to the floor where Taker hits Rock with a cheapshot. Rock goes after him, drawing the biggest pop of the show. Rock accidentally nails Hunter in the face with a chairshot, though. Back in, Nick Patrick replaces Earl as the Taker hits the Last Ride. It only gets two, so Taker knocks Patrick out. Rock returns and gives Taker the Rock Bottom. Hunter… rolls… over… into… the cover. Earl… recovers. ONE… TWO… Taker… gets his… shoulder up. The fans chant for the Rock and then segue to a half-hearted “Triple H” chant. He hits the Pedigree, but Earl is still groggy. Taker goes low and schoolboys Hunter with a handful of tights at 23:44. This started out sucking and almost, sorta, kinda threatened to get interesting before the booking kicked in. Not surprisingly, the only points of interest involved the Rock. *
  • After the match, Taker talks trash to the Rock and takes a Rock Bottom. Helmsley jumps the Rock and gives him the Pedigree, but the Undertaker recovers and chokeslams Helmsley. So, Rock does, indeed, fear paper.
  • The 411: This was the creative bottom for the WWE. They tried to build the brands around guys like Steve Austin, the Undertaker, and Hulk Hogan, but their times had past. Finally, they just said "to hell with it" and started investing in long-term projects like Brock Lesnar, John Cena, Randy Orton and Dave Batista. Hey, three out of four ain't bad. A few good matches on the undercard, as well as the Rock's presence, nearly save this... but not quite. If you're a Brock fan, it's worth a look just to see him dead set on a path to stardom, otherwise you're not missing anything.

    Mild thumbs down.

     
    Final Score:  5.5   [ Not So Good ]  legend

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