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The SmarK Rant For WWF Backlash 2002

April 22, 2002 | Posted by Scott Keith

The SmarK Rant for WWF Backlash 2002

– Live from Kansas City

– Your hosts are JR & King

– Opening match, Jobberweight title: Billy Kidman v. Tajiri. Shoving match to start, which Tajiri kips out of. Stalemate is established with armdrags and Kidman eats turnbuckle. He comes back with chops, but gets catapulted, then turns it into a dropkick out of the corner for two. That sequence looked a bit messed up. Headscissors puts Tajiri on the floor, where he pulls Kidman out and dumps him on the railing. Back in, Tajiri drops a knee and chokes away, like the New York Islanders. He gives Kidman a quote, dehabilitating, unquote, kick to the face and hits the chinlock. You can’t get much more devastating than dehabiliating someone. You can discombobulate them occasionally and bamboozle them if you’re lucky, but to actually move above debilitating someone and force JR to mangle the English language in an effort to describe the action, well Dang Jethro, that’s something special. Kidman snaps off a rana, but walks into a backbreaker and gets hung in the Tree of Woe. Tajiri dropkicks him in the face and chokes him against the post like Yashin trying to jam in a goal. Another backbreaker turns into a submission hold, but Kidman knees out for two. Tajiri pounds him down again and drops an elbow. Kidman fights back, but walks into the Tarantula. The Big Kick misses and they slug it out, with Kidman using a dropkick to counter the handspring elbow. Tajiri reverses a suplex into an enzuigiri in a sweet move, and then they reverse each other until Tajiri gets a bridged german suplex for two. Kidman misses a clothesline and gets kicked in the face for two. Tajiri tries a powerbomb, but you can’t yada yada. It gets two. Shooting Star Press misses, and Tajiri gets the Big Kick for two. Crowd chants for Kidman, shockingly. That must be a hallucination – cruiserweights don’t draw! HHH said so! They head up, and Kidman manages a Rydien bomb off the top, for two. Yikes. Kidman powerbombs Tajiri, but gets misted for the pin at 9:07. It was the RED mist, too, which in WCW would permanently blind the hapless victim. Being a sports entertainer instead of a wrestler may have saved Kidman’s vision. ***1/2

– Meanwhile, the APA reuinite after their two long weeks apart.

– Bradshaw v. Scott Hall. Man, X-Pac looks so butch with that Kane mask on. Especially when he points to his crotch. All badasses wear Halloween masks and make rude gestures involving their genitalia. I think I read that on WWF.com. Faarooq comes out to even the odds for Bradshaw. Scott Hall tries a novel approach to winning a slugfest, by throwing a toothpick at Bradshaw. Bradshaw punches him in the face. I’d say Bradshaw’s method is more effective. No wonder Hall couldn’t get over in Japan. Bradshaw hammers away and gets a DDT for two. Hall bails and runs into Faarooq, who hammers both Hall and X-Pac. Back in, Bradshaw drops an elbow for two. Suplex gets two. More punching as Hall does his drunken Terry Funk selling job before picking an arbitrary point to come back with his own punches. He chokes like Osgood and stomps away in the corner. That goes on for a while. Bradshaw shoulderblocks him down as the crowd loses patience with this mess. And they wanted to push Hall to the main event again? JR notes that Hall is a veteran who “doesn’t make many mistakes”. I assume we’re talking about in-ring mistakes only here, otherwise the door is WIDE OPEN off that comment. Bradshaw comes back with an elbow and a boot as JR uses the Mystery Code Word for DUD – “bowling shoe ugly”. I feel so inside. Bradshaw gets the Clothesline from Heck for two, but X-Pac delays the pain by putting the foot on the ropes. Note to JR while I’m at it: You would run like a SCOLDED dog, as in a lower life form who has been chided by a bigger person. Running like a SCALDED dog would involve getting dropped in boiling water for a couple of minutes and would probably have the SPCA on your ass. Just had to say it. Bradshaw spends an eternity staring longingly at X-Pac, perhaps contemplating a forbidden romance that we’ll never know about, allowing Hall to sneak up from behind and give him the worst low blow I’ve seen in weeks, and get the rollup pin at 5:45. When you can’t even hit another guy in the nuts properly, it’s time to quit. DUD

– Meanwhile, Vince wastes a few minutes of valuable PPV time before disappearing for the rest of the night.

– WWF Women’s title: Jazz v. Trish Stratus. Jazz appears to have stolen her costume from Faarooq’s 1996 leftovers. Or maybe it’s Faarooq, who can tell? Molly Holly lays out Trish before the match, allowing Jazz to attack and get a sideslam for two. Trish fights back, but walks into a fireman’s roll. She gets a clothesline, but Jazz blocks a jawbreaker (disdainfully I might add), and a slugfest erupts. Trish gets the Kawada kick for two. Note to Trish: Watch Benoit to learn how to chop someone. Hint: Throwing your head back after each chop only gives you a sore neck. They head up and Trish ranas Jazz down, and gets a pair of clotheslines and a neckbreaker for two. Hey, that’s almost psychology. Jazz powerbombs her for two, making sure to sit out, because everything in wrestling is more deadly when you sit out. Jazz chokes like the Red Wings at home, and misses a blind charge, which gives Trish a two count. Trishdog is blocked with a backdrop suplex for two. Trish’s big boot is met with a Dragon-screw that leads to an STF for the submission at 4:25. The main eventers could learn something from watching this stuff. *1/2

– Jeff Hardy v. Brock Lesnar. Jeff’s day-glo entrance makes him look like he had a barium enema before the match. And hey, if that’s what the kids these days are into, who am I to argue? Just remember: Your colon is not a toy. Brock’s music is pretty much Generic Rock #193A. Hardy attacks and gets creamed. He regroups and tries a pescado, but gets caught. Back in, bodypress gets two. Brock shrugs him off and pounds the shit out of him in the corner. Overhead belly-to-belly and Brock does the TWITCH OF DOOM to reinforce his point. Another suplex, but Jeff is still moving, so a triple backbreaker follows. Lita stands on the outside looking like she’d rather be getting stoned in the back. Jeff fights back, showing way too much offense for cannon fodder, and Brock shrugs it off. Jeff fights back again with a corkscrew and gets his usual lame offense, leading to the swanton, which Brock shrugs off. Jeff takes a powder and grabs a chair, but walks into the TKO. Heyman wants more punishment. I concur – that dyejob alone warrants another powerbomb. Brock gets the double powerbomb, and luckily he doesn’t sit out because we may have never seen Jeff alive again had he done so. Another one for fun and the ref stops the match at 5:32. I’m not a big fan of finishes like that, but the point was made. Ѕ* Minor note: If this was 1985 you’d see Lesnar v. Hogan headlining all the house shows around the horn within two weeks, and Brock would be pulling in $20,000 a week as a result.

– Edge v. Kurt Angle. I’m disheartened that Angle has ditched the Mirror Universe tights. Even worse, he now has goofy white boots with his name written on them. I believe that history has dictated that there haven’t been many significant figures in the annals of wrestling who have their name written on their boots – initials are generally fine, but actually writing the name in black letters on white boots is a bit of a wrestling fashion faux pas. Angle grabs a headlock and overpowers Edge, but gets slugged down. Edge runs into an elbow, but gets a dropkick. Flapjack and he dumps Angle with a clothesline. They brawl for a bit and head back in, where Angle catches him coming in with an Olympic foot to the face. Edge retorts with a leg lariat, but gets dropped on his head with a german suplex. Crowd doesn’t appreciate that as much as they should. Angle stomps a mudhole and chops away, but Edge returns fire. He walks into an overhead belly-to-belly, however, for two. He keeps slugging Edge down, but Edge fights back, only to get suplexed for two. Angle hits the chinlock as the announcers mock Brian Hebner’s hairstyle. Edge breaks free, but again walks into the german suplex. He retaliates with an overhead belly-to-belly of his own, however. Ooo, how Japanese – using Angle’s own strategy against him. They slug it out and Edge gets a forearm and backdrop to come back. Impaler gets two. Bulldog gets two. Whatever happened to Edge’s version of the Sharpshooter, anyway? That’s always a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Edge goes up, but Angle remains awesome and runs up for a superplex that gets two. I love that move. Anglelock is blocked by Edge, so he keeps slugging away. Edge figures out how to block the german suplex, but Angle counters his counter and finishes the move, taking it to the rolling germans to make doubly sure. It only gets two. That’s actually an awesome sequence, showing continuity within the match and psychology. Angle gets prepped, but Edge gets his own suplex for the double KO. Edge dumps Angle to buy time, and then he heads out after him with a bodypress off the top. That puts both guys down, however. Back in, Edge goes up again, and a missile dropkick gets two. Now Edge is prepped for the kill, as the KICK WHAM IMPALER is reversed to the Angle Slam, for two. Angle goes all Memphis and pulls down the strap, wrenching in the Anglelock, but Edge reverses to a rollup for two. Angle lariats him down like it’s a WWF THQ game or something, and heads out for a chair. He hits himself in the face on the rebound of a missed shot, however, and Edge gets two. And he’s still selling the ankle injury. Kudos. Spear is blocked with a kick to the face, and the Angle Slam ends it at 13:23. Easily Edge’s best match ever. ****1/4 Definitely worth renting the tape to check this one out. Another month of matches with Angle can do nothing but good for Edge’s future career.

– Chris Jericho comes out to tell everyone that he’s leaving, which of course guarantees that he’ll be back for the main event.

– Intercontinental title: Rob Van Dam v. Eddy Guerrero. Eddy attacks to start, but takes a spinkick to the face. Rob rolls into the monkey flip and a leg lariat gets two. They slug it out and Eddy dragon-screws him and stomps away. Rob spears him in the corner, but can’t get a suplex. Eddy’s feisty today. He stomps a mudhole, but Rob responds with his own kicks and a standing moonsault for two. High kick gets two. Botched floatover suplex gets two. Rob goes up, but gets crotched. Eddy slugs him down and goes for the superplex, but Rob drops him on the top rope to break and follows him down with a missile dropkick and handspring moonsault for two. Eddy cradles for two. Rollup gets two. Rob puts him on the floor with the kickout, and he follows with a quebrada. They brawl and Rob puts Eddy on the railing and guillotines him. Back in, Rob gets two. Rolling Thunder is countered by Eddy lifting the knees, and the tilt-a-whirl backbreaker establishes a back injury to work. Backdrop suplex gets two. Eddy keeps kicking the back and moves into a Rita Romero Special with a side of facelock. Eddy keeps on the back, using a Gory Special to try to elicit a submission. No dice, as Rob rolls him up for two. Eddy knocks him down again and gets a leg lariat, and the slingshot senton gets two. Eddy pounds the back again and springboards into a rana for two. Vertical suplex is rolled into a backdrop suplex for two. Eddy heads up to finish, but Rob pops up and kicks him down. Eddy calmly powerbombs him off the top so hard that the ring nearly breaks. It gets two. Rob reverses another powerbomb and Eddy bails and grabs the belt, but Rob bumps the ref by mistake. Eddy puts him down again with a neckbreaker, and finishes with the frog splash at 11:42 to become the champion. I think the complaints from the whiners centered around the lack of offense from RVD, but screw that – Eddy DISMANTLED Rob, neutralizing all his offense and then beating him with his own move. That’s wrestling, dude. ***1/2

– And now, my first-ever stream of consciousness match review…

– Undertaker v. Steve Austin. Speaking of fashion faux pas, Ric Flair appears to have stolen Ernest Miller’s red slippers, sticking out like a sore thumb in a ring with two guys dressed all in black. Isn’t there some rule about wearing red boots after Wrestlemania? I’ll have to ask Martha Stewart once we both end up burning in hell. They do the big staredown to start and dance around in lieu of actually doing anything. Undertaker grabs a headlock. FEEL THE ELECTRICITY! Austin gets overpowered and Undertaker dances again. **** classic! Oh, sorry, thought I was watching Rock-Hogan again for a second. Okay, Austin recouperates from that devastating shoulderblock and he’s ready for action again, so they’re back to it, and now he grabs his own headlock. IRONY~! Oh man, we’re getting closer to ***** by the minute. Undertaker dances again. I can’t stand the excitement much longer. Okay, back to the lockup, and Undertaker gets another headlock. Austin clotheslines him, however. Now we’re getting somewhere. More stalling follows. Well, they’re old. Now Austin wants a test of strength, but then he DOESN’T. Oh, TAG. He’s so the master of psychology. UT overpowers him again, but Autin gets a hiptoss and armdrag, and I’m pumped for a mat-wrestling exhibition until Ric Flair’s red boots ruin the mood. Austin works the arm while JR explains the pyschology as though anyone watching gives a damn. Austin goes to the pounding, but UT clotheslines him for two. Then goes to the arm. ROPEWALK OF DOOM looks to pep up the match, and it gets two. Man, I just can’t stop focusing on those boots. It’s like mangled bodies in a car wreck. Oh, wait, it’s the THESZ PRESS and FU Elbow, with extra FU. That gets two. Plus it knocks the bandana off, which is like the universal symbol of “time to whoop ass” amongst the over-40 set these days. They brawl out and head back in as UT exchanges bon mots with a fan, but Austin dumps him again. Well, that was a pointless exchange. They head over to the announce table and Austin rams him into the devastating plastic addition, but he spends too much time adjusting his knee brace and walks into a big boot. Undertaker decides to give him back some of the devastating plastic, and they struggle for control of the stairs like two aging, crippled generals on the battlefield of life. Or whatever. Into the crowd for lack of anything sensible to do to fill time, and Undertaker actually stops to clear the timekeeper’s table before getting rammed into it. He’s not only a badass, he’s well-organized. The exciting brawl continues as Austin tries a piledriver, but UT reverses it. Well, geez, when do you ever see that? That was a totally unexpected development from where I sit. Undertaker calls a spot into the camera while the drunk and his luchadore “friend” wander out to do nothing in particular. The crowd is so into the thrilling Austin-UT brawl that they chant “X-Pac Sucks”. Austin meets the stairs and you know he’s devastated because he keeps clutching at his forehead, as if to say “Ouch, knave, thou hast injured my forehead!” X-Pac continues looking intimidating, in a “gay street toughs” type of way, while Undertaker legdrops Austin on the apron. JR has no logical reason for them to be there. And yet there they are, on camera. Go figure. Undertaker now goes to work on the leg of Austin after spending the last 10 minutes hitting him in the head and neck, which makes me think he should have planned his attack a bit better beforehand. I mean, the guy’s wearing KNEE BRACES for god’s sake, this ain’t rocket science. Austin makes the ropes, but UT hangs on. You know he’s still hanging on because he nods his head as though that adds extra pressure to the hold. A DDT gets two and he hits the chinlock, as the focus shifts again back up to the neck. Dude, pick a body part and stick to it already. Be decisive – I mean, look at Flair, he’s out there with boots so fruity that Jeff Hardy would probably go “Dude, you look gay” if he saw them, and he didn’t think twice about wearing them. Austin tries a sleeper, but gets suplexed. Is the sleeper the new spinebuster for the main eventers or something? Is Entertainment Weekly gonna do one of those lists where it’s like “Red is the new yellow” and “The Sleeper is the new Spinebuster” next week? Austin tries the stunner, but gets clotheslined for two. UT is so upset at this that he rubs his forearm into Austin’s face. The n.W.o is so upset that they stand around and do nothing. I leave it to you to judge which attack is more devastating. Austin fires back with an attack not so much designed to punish as it is to get the crowd chanting “What” in time with the punches, but UT clotheslines him to stop it. He goes for the turnbuckle, which Flair ignores completely, but Austin whips him into it. Wow, never seen that before, either. Double-clothesline, but Undertaker seems more annoyed than knocked out. Flair isn’t counting anyway. Austin slugs back, again giving the fans a chance to chant “What” rather than doing something useful like going after the leg or pointing a lockerroom disturbance and then stunning the distracted Undertaker, but alas Ric Flair, 16-time champion, gets bumped by a simple shoulderblock and Austin gets his KICK WHAM STUNNER with no referee present. In a world where Flair gets bumped by a shoulderblock, Austin shouldn’t be getting clean wins anyway. UT goes low and signals for the chokeslam (which might be seen as telegraphing the move by someone more cynical than myself), but it only gets two. I don’t know if Austin is guttier to kick out, or to participate in this boring match for 20 minutes without falling asleep. UT grabs a chair to no avail, but changes gears and gets a big boot for two. I’d stick with the chair next time. Austin gets a spinebuster for two. That’s like, so last week. I read that in Entertainment Weekly. Austin tells Undertaker to get up, but Flair is bumped again. Well, politeness might have helped his case somewhat and avoided that whole situation. Chairshot gets two for Undertaker. See, that’s what rudeness gets you. Austin reverses the dragon sleeper into a clothesline for two. He goes for his own, but UT escapes and goes for the chair again. Austin slugs him down again. I sense a limited offense from Austin tonight. Austin grabs the chair, but gets booted and pinned at 26:58. Austin’s foot was on the ropes, but dwelling further on the subject might prolong the match, so we’ll move on. That Austin – he can’t work WWF style. * He gets his heat back after the match, however, as he spins his fists like Dusty Rhodes before punching UT and delivering KICK WHAM STUNNER. Oh, TAG.

– Meanwhile, Coach shows Flair the finish to the match. When Flair realizes that his boots were clashing with the rest of the outfits, he reacts by going “Oh, shit”.

– WWF tag title match: Billy & Chuck v. Al Snow & Maven. Maven’s eyebrows v. Rico’s sideburns: Who wins in a shoot? The champs attack to start but get foiled by the Tough Enough crew. Snow dons the headband as though to laugh at their gimmick. AL SNOW laughs at someone’s gimmick. Man, that’s a burn and a half. Maven gets dominated quickly, however, but comes back with a DDT on Billy. He just can’t make that tag, however. He gets an enzuigiri on Chuck, hot tag Al Snow. Well, the second part of that sentence is the first sign you’re in trouble. Snow gets clotheslined by Chuck, however, and Billy gets a neckbreaker for two. Oh, I see, this is one of those more complex tag matches with mutiple twists and turns. Rico’s argument with the crowd about his sexual preference is far more interesting. Billy misses his charge and Chucks ends up headbutting him low in a wacky miscommunication spot. Hot tag Maven, but he uses the dropkick up too soon and walks into a Dumbasser. Snow saves, but Chuck junglekicks him. Rico messes up his interference as the intrigue gets my heart pounding at least an additional beat per minute, and Maven works his only other move, a flying bodypress, in for two. He tells Billy to get up, and we all know how well that worked for Austin. And indeed, Chuck superkicks him for the pin at 6:00. Note to aspiring champions: Always use manners when asking someone else to get into position for your finisher. Ѕ*

– WWF World title: HHH v. Hulk Hogan. They do the melodramatic lockup spot to start, which is apparently the only thing Hogan can do these days without requiring two weeks of prep-time for. It’s a stalemate. See my seat? 90% of it is unused because I’m ON THE EDGE OF IT, baby. Posedown follows. And since the lockup gravy train has been milked, we move to the test of strength. So is HHH playing Ultimate Warrior or Hulk Hogan? Things look bad for the champion, but the power of HGH prevails and Hogan is down to his knees! Well, maybe Hogan is playing Stephanie, then. Can Hogan overcome this early disadvantage and win the all-important knucklelock battle? No! HHH elbows out of it and goes into Wristlock Battle. I’ve seen better men than Hogan submit to HHH’s wristlock before. God knows Benoit wouldn’t have been on the shelf for half as long if it wasn’t for the devastating firepower of HHH’s overhead wristlock. Hogna goes to the headlock, thus bringing us on par with Austin-Undertaker. Hogan knocks HHH down and poses, thus reaffirming how strong he is. I’d say that knocking HHH down did a better job of that. And when did Hogan start wrestling like Lex Luger? HHH starts pounding on him, but Hogan has CRAZY OLD MAN POWER. Alas, the bandana gets knocked off, and Hogan’s bald spot does NOT prove to be a solar panel to provide energy. Hogan comes back with two clotheslines and punches away, taking me back to 1985 again. Not in a good way. Hogan puts his head down for too long and gets nailed by HHH, however, turning the tide again. Man, I shudder to think how devastating that much would have been had he hit it after leaving his head down for like 5 seconds. And if he did a sit-out version of whatever it was going to be? HHH would be dead right now. HHH charges and gets dumped, however, since by default he’s the only one capable of taking a bump. They do something that could laughably be referred to as brawling if you were in a particularly ironic mood, and HHH gets suplexed on the floor, again, because he’s the only one physically able to take a bump. More quote, brawling, unquote, and they head back in. HHH chops away and whips Hogan so hard into the turnbuckles that he himself falls down from the force of it. Pedigree is reversed to a catapult, and Hogan cradles for two. Is HHH just wrestling himself here or does Hogan’s presence actually serve a purpose? Hogan comes back with a corner clothesline and more 80s punches. Diamond Cutter gets two. Whoa, Terry brings the moveset. Just call him Hulk Benoit. HHH escapes a deadly bodyslam and clips Hogan, as Hulk collapses to the mat in slow-motion. Again, and Hogan uses the ropes to gingerly guide himself to the mat. JR interprets the booing crowd as anti-HHH. HHH works on the knee, and you know it’s bad because Hogan says “Oh my god” to the camera in the acting voice that won him acclaim in such movies as “Mr. Nanny” and “Mr. Nanny 2: Still Nannying”. HHH works the leg as JR actually says with a straight face that he’s trying to neutralize the effectiveness of the big boot and legdrop with this strategy. So why can’t Hogan just use the OTHER leg? I mean, it’s not that complex a move. HHH stays on the leg, boring the crowd. JR notes that Hulkamania is a feeling, an emotion. So’s nausea. HHH goes to choking, which of course sets up the figure-four. This is like watching Dusty Rhodes taking the clawhold in Florida for 15 minutes. HHH redeems himself somewhat by using the ropes, but he’s fighting a losing battle. He’s also putting the move on the wrong leg, but that’s the least of the problems with this match. Hogan reverses, and can’t seem to remember which knee hurts when he gets up. HHH goes to the sleeper (see my point?) as Hogan again finds a way to lay around doing nothing for a couple of minutes while HHH does all the work. He fights out with a suplex, and almost gets HHH in the air! Keep at it, Hulk, we know you can do it someday. Hogan wins a slugfest and gets the Axe Bomber, and he’s back, brother. Big boot and legdrop, but the ref gets distracted by Jericho. Well, so much for HHH’s big strategy. Jericho chairs Hogan, but HHH is too virtuous to accept the win that way, so he instead chooses to beat up on Jericho. Must be that selective sportsmanship thing. Hulk, meanwhile, is hulking up and ignoring the knee injury. The legdrop misses, however, and the Pedigree follows. However, now Undertaker spoils the party by bumping the ref and brings in a chair to KO HHH with. Hogan doesn’t want it that way, either, but he too stops to beat on UT. Then he changes his mind and pins HHH anyway to win the title at 22:04. I take it back – THAT’S selective sportsmanship. Hulkamania is alive! Well, so is communism in China and crotch rot, and no one’s real thrilled about them, either. HHH and Hogan have the big staredown, and HHH offers his hand in friendship, because even though it took two ref bumps, two people interfering, and a chair to beat him, BY GOD he got beat by the better man. Hell, without a belt to the head for a two-count, this was practically a clean win anyway. Of course, they might as well have skipped the entire opening 18 minutes and skipped right to the run-in parade, but if the WWF wants to waste their time giving Hogan 20 minutes per match, it’s their business. Ѕ*

The Bottom Line: Well, strike while the iron is hot, I guess, and HHH’s big run as a babyface got over about as well as New Coke, so huzzah for senior citizens. Rumored main event for next month: Hogan v. Undertaker v. HHH v. Jericho. One guess who does the job there after carrying the entire match.

Overall, the undercard carried the show well enough to be a thumbs in the middle, but this reeked of WCW – meaningless undercard salvaging a total disaster in the main events. Besides, Hogan’s good for comic relief, if nothing else.

NULL

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