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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Vengeance 2002

July 2, 2008 | Posted by J.D. Dunn
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Dark Pegasus Video Review: Vengeance 2002  

Vengeance 2002
by J.D. Dunn

Okay, so they wanted to put Brock Lesnar over as the ultimate force in the universe and the devourer of worlds, but there was just one problem – he was a heel, and so was the Undisputed Champion, the Undertaker.

They needed to get the title on a babyface, and a babyface that was willing to put Brock over strong and clean. Enter – the Rock.

A bunch of other stuff happened in the interim. Vince McMahon took back total control of the WWE from Ric Flair, but he said he “had to make this brand extension work,” so he was appointing General Managers to run each brand. That brings up a question. “Um… huh?” The whole reason for the brand extension was that Flair “owned” half the WWF. Now that Vince owned the entirety of the now-WWE, why would he have to make the brand extension work? I mean, that makes it sound like the first few months of the split were a written angle, but now Vince was “shooting” and saying it was all part of his plan.

And who do you go think of when they imply wrestling is scripting but *this particular moment* is a shoot? Why yes. Vince Russo. Russo contacted Vince McMahon about coming back because the booking had been so atrocious that he felt they needed him. Vince was open to the idea, but apparently Hunter, Taker and Bradshaw (you know, the young talent) threw fits and said they wouldn’t stand for it.

According to legend, McMahon took a meeting, asked Russo to shoot out some ideas to see if he still had the creative juices flowing, wrote down those ideas, and showed Russo the door. That led to the whole GM thing and Russo winding up in TNA (where he was welcomed with open arms).

Oh, btw, a couple of young punks debuted. John Cena? Randy Orton? Ha. Those guys’ll never get over.

I should point out that the opening promo is based off Samuel L. Jackson’s Pulp Fiction bible verse, which at that point was old enough to be clichéd but not yet old enough to be cool again (like my references).

  • July 21, 2002
  • Live from Detroit, Mich.
  • Your hosts are Michael Cole and Tazz hosting the first half of the show and Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler hosting the second half. They hadn’t quite mastered the idea of co-branded announcing yet.

  • Opening Match, Tag Team Tables: Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs. Chris Benoit & Eddy Guerrero.
    Benoit is making his PPV return, and he gets a big pop for a heel. The fans seem to have a hard time cheering for Bubba and Spike because Bubba wrestles like a kid at fat camp while Benoit and Guerrero are so vicious they’re cool. Bubba plays face-in-peril AND GETS NOTHING! Usually, the Ricky Morton of the match will get in a few moves to keep things interesting, but Bubba gets totally dominated. They set up a table, but Spike yanks it out of the way, saving the match for his team. The Dudz make the comeback and run though all the usual Dudley spots. Bubba misses a senton and puts himself through a table, but it doesn’t count because he wasn’t put through a table. Spike puts Eddy through a table with the Dudley Dog, although it looks more like Spike took the brunt of it. He tries the same on Benoit, but Chris is all, “Nah, don’t think that’s gonna happen.” He tosses Spike out of the ring through a table. Benoit sets up a table, but Bubba blocks the German Suplex and puts him through the table with the Bubba Bomb at 10:00. Well, at least the Dudleyz went over in *their* match. Considering Benoit and Eddy had brighter immediate futures, the result is kind of puzzling, though. Benoit looked sharp in his return. **1/4

  • New Raw GM Eric Bischoff tracks down Triple H and asks him why he’d bother entertaining an offer to go to Smackdown.
  • WWE Cruiserweight Title: Jamie Noble (w/Nidia) vs. Billy Kidman.
    Noble actually did the most with his redneck gimmick, turning it into part of a character instead of relying totally on the gimmick to make him interesting. Specifically, he cut a promo about how being the CW champion enabled him to buy Nidia things and move into a bigger trailer. See, thoughts, wants, desires. These are the things that make characters interesting, and that’s what draws in the long run. The gimmick is just a starting point. Kidman flusters Noble with his quickness early on, but Noble tosses Nidia into him and hits a single-arm DDT. He tries a powerbomb, but YOU CAN’T POWERBOMB BILLY KIDMAN! Kidman goes for the Shooting Star Press, but Noble avoids it and rolls him up for two. The Tiger Bomb finishes at 7:35. Noble’s ground game allowed him to work well with a lot of the cruiserweights, and Kidman was no exception. **1/2

  • In the back, Paul Heyman introduces Kurt Angle to Brock Lesnar, his presumptive opponent for Summerslam.
  • European Title: Jeff Hardy vs. William Regal.
    Jeff took the title from a tearful Regal on Raw. This is another one of those “God, the bookers are stupid” things. Raw got the Intercontinental Title, the European Title, and the Hardcore Title. They eventually folded the European and Hardcore Titles into the IC Title, but then they brought back the U.S. Title because Smackdown didn’t have a midcard title. I mean, it’s not like the midcard titles have been meaningful since the split, but that’s awfully inefficient. This is quite short, but it gets what it deserves. Jeff runs through all of his usual spots (the splits chinbreaker, the rail run). Regal gets his knees up to block the Swanton, but Jeff hits an armtwist out of nowhere and rolls Regal up for the win at 4:15. It barely felt like it was getting underway before it ended. Hardy would get a solid push for a few months and then screw it up with drugs. Hmm. I’m sensing a pattern. *

  • In the back, Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan congratulate Jeff Hardy. Hulk and Flair talk about Bischoff becoming the new Raw GM and how it might just be the worst thing ever.
  • Chris Jericho vs. John Cena.
    Jericho’s descent continues as he started the year the first ever undisputed champion, and now, only four months after the end of his title reign, he’s stuck putting over a rookie. Granted, in retrospect it was a good idea, but at this point Cena was Cody Rhodes without the pedigree. Jericho grabs a chair and tries to meet Cena in the aisle, but Cena goes all superman on him – that was Cena’s act for the first few months. Cena keeps making stupid rookie mistakes, though, and Jericho is able to capitalize. Cool spot as Cena goes for the Stinger Splash, but Jericho kicks him out of the air with a missile dropkick. Chris is starting to look like Moondog Jericho with that beard. The Lionsault misses, and they exchange rollups. Jericho argues with the ref and hits the Lionsault. He stops to gloat, though, and Cena is able to counter the Walls of Jericho to a small package at 6:17. Not a bad match at all, but Cena’s underdog act started to grate pretty quickly, especially since Randy Orton was doing the same basic angle. **1/4

  • In the back, Bischoff tries to stop Stephanie’s lawyer from delivering the contracts.
  • JR & King replace Cole & Tazz.
  • Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman).
    Lesnar needed something to do in between the King of the Ring and Summerslam, so Rob got the call. Lesnar is cocky coming in, but Van Dam drop toeholds him into the buckle and kicks him to the floor. Lesnar gets pissed, but Van Dam goes after his legs and backdrops him to the floor. Cool spot as Rob tries a pescado but gets caught. He slips off Brock’s shoulder and shoves him into the post, but when he tries a moonsault off the apron, Brock catches him and shows that he’s learned his lesson and just powerslams him on the floor. Brock holds an abdominal stretch and pounds on RVD’s chest as he does. Ouch. Rob comes back with Rolling Thunder for two. Brock catches him going up and goes for the F5, but Rob counters to a DDT in mid-move. Nice. That sets up the Five-Star Frogsplash, but Heyman pulls the ref out of the ring to save Brock from taking a potential pin. That earns the DQ at 9:38. Damn. This was getting pretty good before the DQ. They *had* to do it or else give Brock a meaningless Intercontinental Title reign because they weren’t going to have him lose cleanly en route to the title. Van Dam’s athletic maneuvers meshed well with Brock’s power. Better than their KotR match thanks to having more time to set up a story. **1/2

  • In the back, Stephanie McMahon emerges from her office (or Sonny Crockett’s closet, judging by her wardrobe). Bischoff thinks HHH signed with Steph and yells at Hunter about being an idiot and not negotiating with him. Turns out Hunter was just signing his divorce papers, though.
  • No DQ: Booker T vs. The Big Show.
    Vince McMahon disbanded the nWo, but Booker still had problems with them because Shawn kicked him out of the group. Show dominates early because he is a very large man. They brawl to the floor where Booker smashes a monitor into Show’s face and puts him through the announce table with an Ax Kick. Impressive. Most impressive. Back in, Booker goes low to counter a chokeslam and hits the Ax Kick. The Houston Hangover (flipping legdrop off the top) gets the win at 6:13. Hey, Booker actually looked *smart* here, using his resourcefulness to pick up the win. It’s no wonder he got over. Of course, the yanked the rug out from under him in 2003, but it was fun while it lasted. **

  • Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie join us from The World to give us their expert analysis of the main event.
  • Triple H comes out to announce his decision. Eric Bischoff offers to introduce Hunter to his friends in Hollywood. Um, I don’t think Hunter needs a hooker. Stephanie McMahon says that her personal relationship with Hunter means she knows him. She reminds him that Bischoff let him go in WCW. Shawn Michaels interrupts the proceedings as Hunter is about to agree to go to Smackdown. Shawn asks Hunter to come back to Raw because he’s had more fun with Shawn than anyone else (um, Hunter’s hot ex-wife is standing right there… and she said on Howard Stern she was willing to do anal). Hunter picks Raw, of course, but Stephanie would soon strike back after Summerslam.
  • Rikishi says he’s disappointed in HHH for not signing with Smackdown.
  • Booker and Goldust also give their thoughts on Hunter signing with Raw. “And when Poochie’s not onscreen, everyone should be asking, ‘Where’s Poochie?'”
  • WWE Tag Team Titles: Hulk Hogan & Edge vs. Christian & Lance Storm.
    Christian and Storm were doing their UnAmerican gimmick. Come on. They’re Canadian. It’s Montana with healthcare. Not exactly Sgt. Slaughter in 1991. Lawler sums up the whole crux of the angle (and American foreign policy) by saying that the rest of the world can’t sustain itself without U.S. involvement, but then they complain when they get it. Talk about your pre-3/19 thinking! Of course, all of this was a rather milquetoast attempt at manufacturing a palatable anti-American contingent for Hogan to fight because he wasn’t cutting it with the nostalgia act. People, for obvious reasons, wanted him to go back to beating up Middle Easterners and other various “furreners.” The match is the usual formula with Edge playing face-in-peril. Hogan is still HUGELY over, getting chants while he’s just standing on the apron doing nothing. Christian comes up with the perfect counter for the big boot, though. He just walks out around it. Hogan hulks up, but Edge accidentally spears the referee. Edgecution, but there’s no ref. Test runs down and boots Edge in the face. That gets two. Hogan goes after Test, allowing Chris Jericho to run in from the crowd and nail Edge with the title belt. Christian gets the pin, and the UnAmericans win the titles at 10:02. I don’t think many people ever really bought into the UnAmericans as a heel stable. Maybe it was because they were all Canadians and came off like a low-rent Hart Foundation, or maybe it was because Lance Storm was the mouthpiece, or maybe it was the fact that they were two guys with failed singles pushes thrown together as a tag team. **

  • In the hall, Bischoff tries to get Kurt Angle to commit to Raw.
  • Elsewhere, Stephanie promises she will make her move when Bischoff is least expecting it.
  • Unified Heavyweight Title, Triple Threat: The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle.
    This was the end of the Undertaker’s failed heel push in 2002. Despite his best efforts, people just saw him as a bad ass and not a bad ass. Thankfully, the Rock wasn’t doing anything, so he decided to come back and relieve Taker of the title. Funny moment as Kurt can’t even get the attention of the other two, and once he does, he regrets it. Once the smoke clears from the initial flurry, Angle and Rock take turns chopping each other. Angle hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Whoo! Look at the snap on that bad boy. Taker knocks Angle out with a clothesline, making it Rock versus Undertaker. Taker gets a sideslam but stumbles into a chokeslam. Oh, that crazy Rock! Angle returns but takes an Ankelock from the Rock. Angle rolls through and hits a Rock Bottom on the Rock. The “hit your opponent’s finisher” spots had already become a cliché by this point. Taker jumps in and hits an Angleslam on Kurt. Rocky no-sells an elbow and kips up. SPINEBUSTER! PEOPLE’S ELBOW! Angle pulls the Rock out and gets two. Angle and Taker trade shots until Angle posts himself on a charge. Angle gets busted open and takes the Old School Ropewalk Punch. Now that’s changing the moveset, Take! Angle grabs a chair but gets pinballed by Rock & Taker. Taker goes for a Chokeslam, but Rock goes low behind the ref’s back. Angle returns and hits Taker with the chair. ANGLESLAM TO THE ROCK! He gets two on Taker, then two on Rock. Angle tries to boot the Rock but winds up in the SHARPSHOOTER! Taker makes the save and hits the LAST RIDE! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Kurt yanks the Taker off Rock and applies the ANKLELOCK! Taker goes for a Last Ride, but Angle counters to a Triangle Choke. Rock makes the save at the last second but winds up in the Anklelock. Nice transition. Angle winds up taking a chokeslam, but Rock gives Taker the Rock Bottom for two. Now Angle is back up and gives Taker the Angleslam! He takes too long in celebrating, though, and prances around into the Rock Bottom to give Rock his last world title 19:35. As you can probably tell by the recap, there was a lot of knocking one guy out and hitting finishers in lieu of actually building a storyline. That’s not to say all those finishers weren’t exciting, but it could have been much better. ***1/4
  • The 411: This was the first show after the WWE made some wholesale changes in personnel, booking, and direction, and it's considerably better than the shows that preceded it. While Raw would put veteran HHH on top and surround him with young talent (Orton & Batista), Smackdown would put a rookie on top and surround him with veteran talent (Benoit, Angle, Eddy). Raw would become "the sports entertainment show," and Smackdown would become "the wrestling show." Both sides had varying degrees of success, though. A welcome change of pace after the debacle of the first few months of the split.

    Thumbs up.

    Final Score:  7.0   [ Good ]  legend

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