Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over twelve years now and have reviewed over 6,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Survivor Series 2002
Date: November 17, 2002
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz
For those of you who have read my old reviews of this show, you might remember that the main event has sent me into various rantings and ravings over the years. It might have ticked me off more than any match ever at one point, though it’s since been topped multiple times. I’m kind of curious to see how I react to it this time around so let’s get to it.
The opening video focuses on Big Show vs. Lesnar, which is built around the idea that Lesnar is banged up and can’t throw Big Show around like he can with everyone else. The Elimination Chamber actually takes second billing here.
Dudley Boyz/Jeff Hardy vs. Rico/3 Minute Warning
Elimination tables match and that would still be Bubba and Spike. The villains are quickly sent outside with Spike being thrown at the Samoans. He’s easily caught and 3 Minute Warning is nice enough to stand there while Bubba drops down for Poetry in Motion from Jeff. Back in and Jamal takes a hurricanrana out of the corner, followed by Jeff playing D-Von in What’s Up.
The first table is set up in the corner and Jeff is backdropped over the top for one heck of a crash. Rosey drives himself through a table (not an elimination) but stands up, allowing Jeff to hit a high crossbody….which just bounces off the big man. The Dudley Dog is countered and Spike is tossed through a table for the first elimination. Bubba and Jeff fight back but can’t get around the monsters.
Rosey takes Jeff outside and loads up a table but Bubba makes the save. A few forearms to the back allow Jeff to climb onto an exit tunnel for the Swanton to get rid of Rosey. Back in and Rico loads Bubba onto a table before setting up a moonsault. In a fairly infamous moment, there’s no Jeff to make the save so Rico stands there for about ten seconds and even Bubba can be seen looking around for Jeff. Rico very clearly shouts “COME ON JEFF” before Hardy crotches him for the save.
Jamal moves the table so Rico only has to take a regular belly to back superplex. That’s so much better you see. Jeff takes Jamal to the floor and tries to run the barricade (as in he climbs onto it and then runs instead of a running jump and then running across) but falls anyway, sending himself head first through a table. That would be twice in a week that he’s blown that spot and for some reason I don’t picture him being punished anytime soon. Thankfully Jamal hits one heck of a top rope splash to put Jeff through a table to get us down to 2-1.
Ever the genius, Jamal tries a hurricanrana with a table right behind him. After the most obvious powerbomb this side of an Undertaker match, we’re down to Bubba vs. Rico. 3 Minute Warning comes back in to beat on Bubba but D-Von comes out to FINALLY reunite with his brother to one heck of a reaction. A quick 3D puts Rico through a table for the win.
Rating: C+. They really didn’t have another option here as the Dudleys belong together. It would take about twelve years before Bubba was able to strike out on his own and even that only kind of worked. The tag division is dying for some better talent and while not the freshest thing in the world, the Dudleys are certainly better than most other options.
The rest of the match was entertaining but my goodness Jeff was embarrassing out there. He can barely do any of his signature stuff without messing something up anymore and yet he’s still out there every single week doing the same spots over and over. Get him some help already before this becomes an even bigger problem than it already is.
Stacy Keibler introduces Saliva to perform Always live at the World. At least we get some highlights for the show as a bonus.
Cruiserweight Title: Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble
Kidman is challenging after defeating Noble twice in the last two weeks. Noble tries a rollup for the fast pin before stomping Kidman down to really take over. A neckbreaker sets up a bow and arrow as Nidia is her usual VERY excited self. Jamie dives into a dropkick as the announcers talk about the tables match. A Hoshi Geroshi (or however you spell the fireman’s carry into a backbreaker) gets two on the champ, followed by a good looking placha to the floor.
Back in and Noble reverses a backslide into the tiger bomb for two but makes the mistake of putting Kidman on the top. A good looking super DDT plants Noble but since DDTs mean nothing, Jamie is right back up for a hanging DDT off the top for his own near fall. An enziguri drops Noble again and, after a failed Nidia distraction, the shooting star gives us a new champion.
Rating: C+. Some selling issues aside, this was a good, back and forth match with both guys looking strong. The problem is the division has fallen into the same pattern it always has: the champion and one challenger comprise the entire thing and that doesn’t exactly have staying power. The match was good though and Kidman winning the title is fine.
Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit get into it again but Angle insists that they’re amigos. Another long form hug ensues.
Victoria is getting ready but apparently her mirror thinks Trish Stratus is prettier.
We recap Victoria vs. Trish. Victoria claims that Trish slept her way into a job after WWE wanted to sign both of them. Now Victoria is here to get revenge on her former friend. The music sounds like the shower scene from Psycho for a nice touch.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Victoria
Trish is defending and this is a hardcore match. Victoria wastes no time and puller her down by the coat before grabbing a broom. JR asks if she’s going to fly it and suggests Victoria is un-Divaesque. That’s probably an unintentional compliment. A trashcan lid gets knocked into the champ’s face and Victoria sends her into the steps. Victoria sets up a trashcan in the corner (with the hole facing the ring), only to have Trish catapult her hands first into said can (that looked horrible and no camera edit was going to save it).
A kick to the head gives Trish two and one heck of a trashcan lid shot knocks Victoria (and her bloody nose) to the floor. The Chick Kick gets two and a HORRIBLE bulldog out of the corner (Victoria’s head hit Trish’s ribs) is good for the same. Victoria blinds her with a fire extinguisher though and a snap suplex of all things gives us a new champion.
Rating: B-. Botches aside, this is a situation where the energy carries the match. They were beating the heck out of each other and you could feel the intensity. The botches and the ending really hold it down but it’s still one of the best women’s matches you’ll see around this time. I know there are still some major issues with the women of this era but this was miles ahead of most things you would see from them at this time.
Eric Bischoff is bragging about the Chamber when Big Show comes up. He’s going to prove Eric wrong for trading him.
Paul Heyman is nervous but says Brock needs to put it all behind him. Tonight they’re in MSG and Heyman is going to do whatever it takes to make sure his client leaves as champion.
Smackdown World Title: Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar is defending and the fans are entirely behind him. Brock gets right in his face but gets tossed into the corner. That earns show a double leg takedown and there’s a belly to back suplex on Show. A German suplex follows and Heyman looks nervous. The ref gets bumped but Lesnar belly to bellies Show anyway. Heyman slides in a chair and Brock cracks Show in the head with it, setting up the F5. Another referee comes down but Heyman pulls him out at two. Reality sets in as the chase is on but Show chairs Lesnar in the bad ribs. A chokeslam onto the chair gives Lesnar his first pinfall loss.
Rating: C-. They did everything they could here and thankfully it was really short. Aside from the obvious, I still have a major problem with the story: why did Heyman go through with the screwjob? Lesnar proved him wrong by suplexing and F5ing Big Show but Heyman turned on him anyway. Wouldn’t it make more sense to stick with the more dominant force when you still have Lesnar to protect you? I’d assume it’s because of Heyman and Lesnar’s issues but Heyman has been able to talk Lesnar down before. It’s far from the worst stretch ever but I’m still not sure it makes the most sense.
Heyman and Show run to the parking lot and drive away.
We recap the Smackdown Tag Team Title match. All three teams have traded the titles for over a month now with one classic match after another. The only possible option was a triple threat match and Stephanie McMahon has made it an elimination match for even more fun. This is the real Smackdown main event and they’ve certainly earned that honor with everything they’ve done so far.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Edge/Rey Mysterio
Edge and Mysterio are defending and Angle/Benoit still can’t get along. Benoit and Mysterio start things off with Chris going head first into the buckle. Edge, in some shiny tights, comes in to drop Angle with a forearm. It’s back to Rey for a springboard splash on Chavo as they’re tagging very quickly here. Eddie comes in to a very noticeable pop and keeps Rey in trouble with some forearms to the back.
The fast tags continue as Angle comes in and goes shoulder first into the post. He’s still able to knock Rey off the top though and the champs stay in trouble. Benoit stays on Mysterio with some rapid fire suplexes as Los Guerreros are (wisely) content with staying on the floor. The Angle Slam doesn’t work so Kurt clotheslines Rey’s head off for two instead. We hit a long front facelock until Rey fights up for a spinwheel kick to the jaw. That’s enough for the hot tag to Edge as everything breaks down.
Rey hurricanranas Eddie to the floor, leaving Edge to get caught in an ankle lock/Crossface combination. Somehow he doesn’t tap out immediately so it’s Rey making the save, followed by a running corkscrew dive onto Chavo and Angle. Benoit grabs the German suplex on Edge, only to have Eddie come in off the top with a sunset flip to send both guys flying. Everyone gets up so Benoit sends Eddie outside, followed by the rolling German suplexes on Edge. Those things always look great.
Eddie gives Edge the frog splash but Benoit breaks it up with a Swan Dive for no apparent reason. Angle comes back in with the ankle lock on Eddie while Benoit Crossfaces Edge, only to have Chavo save Edge with the title. Kurt picks up the title so Benoit thinks it was him, leaving Edge to spear Benoit for the first elimination. That leaves us with two but Benoit and Angle wreck everyone before heading to the back. What poor sportsmanship.
We settle down to Eddie grabbing a sleeper on Edge, followed by a front facelock in case that’s too intense for you. Edge flapjacks both Guerreros and brings Rey back in as this isn’t exactly the break neck pace you would expect. Everything breaks down again and the pop up hurricanrana gets two on Eddie. That sets up the West Coast Pop but Chavo gets in a belt shot, knocking Rey into the Lasso From El Paso for the submission and the titles.
Rating: B. This wasn’t as good as I remember but I think that’s because I just recently watched all the TV matches, which were almost all better. This had too much to live up to and there’s only so much you can do when you’re asked to go out and have a masterpiece. The belt shots didn’t do much to help either as they’re hardly anything interesting and you expect more from these guys.
It’s still a good match and the best thing on the show by far though and it deserves a bit more than just criticism. Some of the sequences were excellent and showed some creativity, along with Benoit and Angle suplexing everything in sight. If this was one of the matches that took place on TV, it would be considered a classic. Some more time would have helped as well.
Here’s Christopher Nowinski to say he’s smarter than the rest of the crowd. After some lame New York Yankees jokes, Matt Hardy (who keeps the temperature at a toasty 75 degrees and only drinks low fat chocolate milk) comes out to say this place is sucking the Mattitude out of him. The payoff is Scott Steiner, who shows up and destroys both guys because we haven’t seen Matt get beaten up recently.
Shawn Michaels is ready to talk about why he believes he can win but RNN BREAKING NEWS tells us that Randy came here to watch. Luckily a sexy flight attendant gave him an extra pillow so there was no further damage to his shoulder.
Long video on the Elimination Chamber which doesn’t really tell us anything. Granted that’s because there isn’t a story here. Basically Bischoff wanted to top Stephanie’s pay per view and invented the Chamber. They’ve made no secret of the fact that this is ALL about HHH vs. Shawn Michaels.
HHH says he’s gone through everyone so he’ll go through everyone tonight too.
Bischoff comes out to walk through the Chamber and explain the rules. This time really couldn’t have gone to the Tag Team Title match? Just put it on a graphic or something…..which they do while Bischoff is still talking.
Raw World Title: HHH vs. Booker T. vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Rob Van Dam
HHH is defending. Saliva, at the World, plays Jericho’s music for a cool bit. As the entrances go on forever, it occurs to me how much Shawn’s hair looks like AJ Styles’ soccer mom look. HHH and Van Dam start things off with Rob going straight to the kicks. A backdrop puts HHH onto the steel floor and he hits the cage wall three times in a row. The champ is busted open and Van Dam monkey flips him onto the cage again.
Rolling Thunder over the top makes things even worse as it’s all Van Dam so far. Rob climbs up on top of Jericho’s chamber and gets his legs pulled down into it. Somehow that’s still not enough for HHH to do anything as Rob flips down onto HHH. See? He’s giving Van Dam a rub right now!
Jericho is in third but gets kicked down almost immediately as Rob stays on a roll. In your first ever Chamber highlight reel moment, Jericho catapults Van Dam at the cage wall and Rob just hangs onto it instead of crashing. HHH gets back up and knees Van Dam in the head, meaning it’s time for the double teaming to begin. Rob kicks them both down again and it’s Booker T in fourth to even things up, despite Van Dam doing just fine on his own.
Jericho and HHH are sent to the floor so we can get a Spinarooni, followed by a slugout with Van Dam. The good guys clean house again and it’s HHH getting knocked down, allowing Rob to climb an individual chamber. That means a Five Star, with his knee going right into HHH’s throat which put him out of action for a few weeks. Van Dam seems to have hurt his knee as well, allowing Booker to eliminate him with a missile dropkick. HHH can barely move so here’s Kane to get us back to four.
Jericho is launched through the bulletproof (yes bulletproof) glass to draw some more blood. Chris is fine enough to hit Booker low, followed by a chokeslam and the Lionsault to get rid of Booker. Now that the two guys who have been more over than the entire roster for the last three months are gone, let’s get on with the REAL entertainment.
Jericho and Kane slowly fight until HHH is slammed off the top. Shawn, looking like he’s wrestled one match in four and a half years and in hideous brown tights for some reason, comes in and gets to clean house for a bit. Kane chokeslams everyone but eats a superkick, Pedigree and Lionsault to get us down to three. Jericho and HHH team up on Shawn with HHH rubbing his head against the steel to bust Shawn open. A ram into the wall gives Shawn an opening and he forearms HHH, only to get bulldogged down.
The Lionsault gets two and Jericho is so frustrated that he gets caught in the Walls. HHH makes the save with a DDT but gets in a fight with Jericho over who can pin Shawn. Jericho grabs the Walls on HHH but gets superkicked for the elimination. As anyone paying attention expected, we’re down to HHH vs. Shawn with a spinebuster going straight for the bad back.
Shawn gets thrown through the glass as we really crank up the emotions. The slow beating continues with Shawn being thrown outside again, only to catapult HHH into the wall. Shawn’s top rope elbow gets no cover and HHH grabs the Pedigree for a delayed two. Another Pedigree attempt is countered and Sweet Chin Music gives Shawn the pin and the title.
Rating: B. I’m still not sure what to think of this match. Above all else, it’s long, far longer than it needed to be. The Chamber itself did help and was interesting to see but they need to tweak things a bit (lower the time to four minutes or so). It’s still good but there’s the other problem that it’s kind of hard to overcome: the whole thing felt like a big waste of time until we got to the ending.
That ending of course is Shawn vs. HHH and they might as well have just put up a big clock counting down until we got there. No one else mattered in this match and WWE did nothing to hide it. That makes for an ending similar to Wrestlemania XXXII with Roman Reigns vs. HHH: there’s no drama and it makes for a boring match because you’re just waiting to get to the part that matters.
While I still have issues about guys like Booker, Kane, Van Dam and Jericho being treated as second class citizens so HHH and Shawn can do it one more time (as in the second one more time), it’s not as bad as it once was. After watching the TV shows building up to this, it’s not like this was exactly shocking and the four of them were hardly made to look like real threats to take the title. That doesn’t make it any better but it does make things a bit easier to take.
Overall Rating: C+. This show is pretty much all over the place with good action (there really isn’t a bad match on the card) but sweet goodness some of the choices make your head spin. We really are watching a show in 2002 where Big Show and Shawn Michaels walked out with the World Titles. On top of that we had a less than mind blowing Tag Team Title match which was probably the highlight.
The big problem is that aside from the Chamber itself debuting, there really isn’t anything on here that feels big. Big Show winning was more groan inducing than anything else and Shawn winning felt like we were seeing the inevitable, though the celebration felt big. There’s nothing on here that’s going to really stick with you and that’s not good as the show is worth seeing for the action alone. Overall it’s good but really not remarkable, which is kind of an odd way to compliment a show.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books
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