Before I begin, I'd like to apologize for my week-long break from updating this place. Recently I started a new job, and the job left with very little free time between work and sleep. Plus, I'm not exactly the best person at managing my time wisely, so there's that. But never fear, Canon Review readers, as I'm not going anywhere and will continue to provide reviews on a variety of topics whenever possible. Plus, there's the 2011 Canon Review Baseball Preview to look forward to, and that will be due out sometime next week, hopefully before Thursday.
But enough about that, as here's a look back at the January 17, 2002 episode of WWF Smackdown. This show is significant in that it featured the first match in which Triple-H and Booker T were involved in together. Well, maybe it's not that significant, but whatever. Anyway, this is the 'go-home' show before the 2002 Royal Rumble, so I expect a lot of talk about that event on this show. Well, let's start this thing.
The show starts with The Rock arriving just in time. Stone Cold Steve Austin greets The Rock with some good news, as Austin is going to win the 2002 Royal Rumble. But with that news comes some bad news, as Austin explains to The Rock that after Rock wins the Undisputed Title from Chris Jericho at the Royal Rumble, he'll have to face Stone Cold for a third time at Wrestlemania. Austin reminds Rock that he has a 2-0 record against him at Wrestlemania, but the Rock casually proclaims that he doesn't need a reminder, as he thinks about that fact quite often. In fact, Rock thought about it when he pinned Austin at the 2001 Survivor Series just mere months ago. Oh Snap.
Fireworks go off and the show officially starts with Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler doing commentary. Nine years after this, and they're going to wrestle each other at Wrestlemania. I can honestly say I did not see that one coming back in 2002. The two explain that in tonight's main event, the former Two-Man Power Trip of Austin and Triple-H will reform tonight to face off against Booker T and Kurt Angle in Triple-H's first match back from injury. But forget all that, because next is Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal. On the previous edition of Raw, Regal used brass knuckles to knock out both Van Dam and Edge and win a tag match along with Test, who is a non-factor here. Van Dam takes Regal by surprise with a series of quick kicks and gets a two-count after a quick leg drop, but Regal uses a massive overhead German Suplex on Van Dam to flip RVD over and take the advantage. Regal continues working over Van Dam with a series of blows and a couple of submission holds before Van Dam begins his comeback. Rolling Thunder by Van Dam gets a two count, as does a body press from the top rope. Regal dodges a Van Dam charge in the corner, drags him over to the apron, and goes outside to grab some brass knuckles conveniently stashed away along with a chair. The ref catches the chair, and Regal seems taken aback as Van Dam catches him with a flying kick to the head. Regal's backed up in the corner again and Van Dam gives Regal a pair of shoulder blocks before backflipping for a third. But the backflip is all the time Regal needs to take the knucks out and blast Van Dam with a punch, and he gets the victory. Decent match considering the time constraints, which is no surprise from Regal.
Kurt Angle is looking for The Rock, but he still has time to berate a security guard. He finds Rock talking his cell phone to Jerry Lynn, and interrupts Rock to tell him that he, Kurt Angle, will win the 2002 Royal Rumble and face Rock at Wrestlemania. Seems like nobody's giving Jericho a chance to make it through as champ to Wrestlemania, does it. Rock digs it, calls it a dream match and tells Angle to close his eyes and imagine the possibilities. However, just as Angle is really getting into the dream of kicking the Rock's butt at Wrestlemania, the Rock gets in his own digs and proclaims that the only way Angle is beating Rock is in a dream world. Angle does not seem to be pleased by this at all. Up next is Billy Gunn, which means that many people back then were wondering what else was on that night. He comes out with Chuck Palumbo to face Tajiri, who is with Torrie Wilson. Tajiri uses his speed to gain the upper hand early on with a headscissors and an enziguri kick, but his momentium is halted quite forcefully by a full-nelson facebuster from Gunn. Gunn keeps him down for a minute, but Tajiri gets back in the match and eventually catches Gunn in the Tarantula hold, setting up for the buzzsaw kick. Chuck comes in, and gets green mist sprayed in his face for his efforts. But Chuck's distraction was worthwhile, as Gunn catches Tajiri with the Famouser (ugh) and gets the three count. Post match, Chuck's still not happy about having green mist in his face, so he Super Kicks Tajiri in anger. Match was what it was, nothing really to write home about as it was too short to build to anything.
The Coach is standing outside Triple-H's locker room when a man that is definitely not Triple-H walks out to inform Coach that HHH is looking for The Rock. Well, Triple-H finds him in his locker room, and as you might suspect, informs the Rock that it will be he that wins the Royal Rumble. I suppose Chuck Palumbo and Lance Storm are also going to tell Rock that they'll win as well. To the back, where Trish Stratus is wearing an ugly green hat and being interviewed by Lillian Garcia. After Lillian stumbles through a question, Jazz attacks Trish Stratus from behind, then slams a crate against Trish's hand before proclaiming that she'll see Stratus again on Sunday as Lawler questions why Jazz attacked Trish. My guess would be that she did it to weaken Trish for Sunday, but what do I know?
Yo, it's DDP, and he's taking on The Big Boss Man. If Page wins, he gets to compete in the Royal Rumble, but Lawler seems to doubt DDP's chances for whatever reason. At first, Bossman seems to be proving Lawler right, punishing DDP with power moves such as a big boot and a powerslam. But a desperation jawbreaker out of a sleeper hold turns the tide for DDP, and a tornado clothesline follows. DDP gets Bossman in the corner for a ten punch, but just as ref Teddy Long tries to get between them, Bossman hits a low blow. Bossman starts jaw jacking about pancakes or whatever to the crowd, then scoops DDP up. But the master of the Diamond Cutter strikes again, as he slithers out of Bossman's grip and drops the former lawman to get the three count and enter the Royal Rumble. Now, he gets to go back and tell Rock that he's going to win the Rumble. Good little TV match here, all in all.
But before DDP can tell the Rock anything, The Undertaker has a word for the "People's Champ". Like everyone else, The Undertaker proclaims that he will win the Royal Rumble, but he's the first man that says that he doubts The Rock will beat Jericho on Sunday. But just in case, he wants The Rock to think about a potential Rock-Undertaker meeting. The Rock has had enough of people telling him about their plans, so he decides to go to the ring. Coming out to a tremendous ovation, The Rock explains that this year's Royal Rumble will be different, because everybody's going to win. He finds a cameraman, takes his camera, and explains that the camera man just whispered that he's going to win the Rumble. The Rock still has the camera, which is badly out of focus at this point, and zooms up on a six-year old kid and a cute blonde in the front row and says that they also proclaimed victory in the Royal Rumble, as did section 108. Finished with the camera, The Rock proclaims that it does not matter if it's Austin, Undertaker, Mr. Perfect, or "Punky Brewster on an ice cream sammich" that wins the Rumble, but whoever it is they'll be facing the Rock for the Undisputed Championship, and nothing can stop that. Out comes the man that can stop that, future Dancing With the Stars competitor and current champion Chris Jericho, and he does not look happy. Jericho seems pissed off that's he being referred to as an afterthought, and tells everyone that they can go to hell. He then reminds Rock that it was Jericho that beat Rock on the way to becoming Undisputed Champion, and that Rock can face whoever he darn well pleases at Wrestlemania, but it won't be for Jericho's title. Jericho then proclaims that this is his show, which the Rock takes exception to, as Smackdown is The Rock's show. Actually, it's Vince McMahon's show, but who's counting. Before the Rock can deliver his trademark line, Jericho interrupts and demands respect from the Rock, proclaiming that he is not a joke. So the Rock comes down to the ramp, and the two have a staredown before Rock promises to deliver a beating upon Jericho if he smells what is cooking. Really good stuff here between two masters of the mic, as this was quite an intense promo and made me want to go back and watch their match from the 2002 Rumble.
Up next is Rikishi in an over-the-top challenge against Lance Storm and Christian that, according to Michael Cole, will draw interest to those not familiar with the Royal Rumble. Well that, or people will vomit after Rikishi sticks his bulbous butt in somebody's face. The two Canadians try to double team Rikishi, but that doesn't go too well, as Kishi dominates the smaller men. He gives Lance Storm a stinkface, then kicks him out of the ring. Christian tries to attack from behind, but gets backdropped over the top onto Storm. But WAITAMINUTE! here comes The Big Show to get some. He clotheslines Rikishi down, but then takes a Samoan Drop for his efforts. Rikishi waits for Show to get back on his feet, which proves to be a mistake, as Show picks him up and carries him across the ring before dumping the Samoan over the top rope. Here comes the APA of Bradshaw and Faarooq, and they eliminate Show after a Bradshaw clothesline takes him over the rope. Bradshaw nearly dumps Faarooq over, but catches him before he can leave. They argue a bit, then Faarooq does the same, and then they make up only for Kane to come down. He gets double-teamed, but is able to duck a Bradshaw clothesline and back drop him over the ropes. Then Kane grabs Faarooq by the throat and slings him over the top before setting the posts aflame with his own two hands. Well, as far as previewing the Royal Rumble, this segment did it's job.
It's the Stacker 2 burn of the week, which sees Spike Dudley pick up the upset victory over his half-brother Bubba Ray thanks to some help from Spike's partner Tazz. Cut to earlier tonight in the parking lot, and The Dudley Boys put a beating on Spike and Tazz once they arrived at the building. Bubba slams Tazz against an 18-wheeler before locking him in the trunk of his own car, then the two Dudleys mercelessly beat up on Spike before dropping him with a 3-D on the concrete floor. Will Spike and Tazz be able to defend their titles at the Rumble? Meanwhile, Debra wants a piece of Stephanie McMahon Helmsley, but since her husband is teaming up with Debra's husband Stone Cold, Austin asks that Debra stay in the back so he can get through tonight's match without distraction. To the back, where Kurt Angle and Booker T are discussing the tag-team main event later tonight, and argue about which one of them will win the Rumble on Sunday. Angle states that this match will be "sweet and sour like an ice-cold shower" Right. Back to the ring, where Edge comes out to face off against Test. Edge starts the match on top with the world's worst Frankensteiner and a spinning heel kick that gets a two count, then Test takes over after an Uncle Slam. After stomping on Edge for a while, Test slips up and takes an enziguri from Edge. Edge gets a pair of two counts after a modified front face buster and an Edge-O-Matic, then the two men take the fight to the outside. Regal comes out and tries to sneak up on Edge, but that doesn't work, then Test tries to come from behind with a steel chair, only to get speared. Edge then wipes out both of his opponents with chair shots to the head. Referee Nick Patrick disqualifies Edge, so Edge decides that Patrick needs a chair shot to the head as well. Match was kind of boring, to be honest.
A video preview of the Royal Rumble plays, set to the song 'Cocky' by Kid Rock. Then it's to the back, where Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley is gloating over Debra not being allowed at ringside. But hold the phone, as Triple-H declares that Stephanie is also not allowed at ringside tonight in this, his first match back from injury. It's now time for the main event of the evening. In his last match, Triple-H teamed up with Stone Cold, but apparently the significance is lost on the announcers as they never mention this. HHH and Austin stare down at the beginning, but Angle tries to charge both men and ends up eating a fistful of fists from both men. Austin dominates Angle early on, then Booker T comes on only to eat a clothesline. Austin holds Booker up, and tags in the game, who fires away on Booker with ruthless aggression. After a distraction from Angle, Booker T hits a thrust kick to knock 'The Game' down. Tag to Angle, and Triple-H does that weird running choke he did for a couple of months after his comeback. Austin comes in, takes care of both men for a while until a standing spin kick from Booker finally knocks down Austin. Booker and Angle double up on Austin for the next few minutes or so, using quick tags and stomps to keep Austin down. Austin tries for a comeback, but a well-timed overhead belly-to-belly suplex from Angle takes care of that. Tag to Booker T, who hits the ax kick, does the Spinarooni and nails Austin with the Harlem Sidekick. Cover, but HHH breaks it up. Angle and Booker continue to work over Austin, but after a missed double team effort, Austin clotheslines both his opponents and then crawls over for the hot tag to Triple-H. He takes care of everybody with running knees and clotheslines. HHH gets a two count on Booker after a knee to the face, then Angle comes in and oh here go hell come as all four men are now brawling. Austin and Triple-H throw their opponents over the top rope, then back into each other and tease a showdown, but Angle and Booker T come in and go after them. That doesn't go too well, as Triple-H sets Booker up for the Pedigree, but Angle takes care of that with a german suplex. Austin comes in, throws Angle over the ropes, ducks a leaping sidekick from Booker and hits the Stone Cold Stunner. But Booker doesn't go down right away, which allows Triple-H the opportunity to Pedigree him and pick up the victory for his team. Post-match, The Undertaker comes down and stares a hole through Austin and Triple-H. Match wasn't too bad, although it seemed like Triple-H was still unsure about his leg at this time. But still, these four men know what they're doing in the ring, and Angle and Booker bumped like mad men for their opponents here tonight.
Overall, not a bad show, but not one that really stands out either. The best part of the night was The Rock's 'camera promo' followed by his verbal confrontation with Jericho, while the main event was the best match of the night. Other than that, a lot of stuff seemed to be either filler or just not that interesting. Overall, I'd give this episode of Smackdown a 5.55 out of 10. Well, thanks for reading, and if you have any comments about this or previous posts, or ideas for future reviews or posts, than share them either by leaving a comment or by sending me an e-mail at KtheC2001@gmail.com.