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?
Date: March 17, 2002
Location: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
The advertised main event here is Chris Jericho defending the WWF Title against HHH. I say advertised because there’s a match on the card that really is the main event. Back in February, the New World Order debuted in the WWF, meaning Kevin Nash (Diesel), Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Hulk Hogan himself made their returns. Hogan got right to the point as well, accepting a Wrestlemania showdown with the Rock. Let’s get to it.
Sunday Night Heat: Scotty 2 Hotty/Albert/Rikishi vs. Mr. Perfect/Test/Lance Storm
Storm is a serious Canadian wrestler and Albert now enjoys dancing under the nickname the Hip Hop Hippo. Perfect returned at the Royal Rumble and had a short but nice run. Jacqueline is guest referee here. Albert quickly charges into raised boots in the corner but comes back with a quick powerbomb for two.
It’s off to Test for some hard right hands to Scotty in the corner but Storm comes in and gives up the hot tag to Rikishi. Everything breaks down and Rikishi cleans house, eventually crushing Perfect in the corner. Perfect is ready though and blocks the Stink Face with his towel. That’s not cool with Rikishi so he sits on Perfect’s chest for the pin at 3:06.
Rating: D+. Another nothing match here but the popular team won and gave the people something to cheer for. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and again that’s probably the right idea for a warmup match. The dancing guys were over and a fun act so why not let them beat up three guys with nothing else going on?
Dancing ensues post match.
Instead of O Canada, Saliva opens the show with the theme song Superstar. This eats up four minutes of the show, which is likely time that other matches could use later on. At least it wasn’t a rock version of America the Beautiful.
The opening video, narrated by Undertaker of all people to start, talks about how this is the biggest night of the year. Other names talk about how big this show is and they treat it like the only thing that matters all year. This fits well with the tagline of the show “The One And Only.” The only matches discussed are Hogan vs. Rock and HHH vs. Jericho, which are the only ones that really deserve attention.
Just like last year, it’s a sea of people that just keeps going. That never gets old.
Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal
Regal is defending and Van Dam debuted last year during the Invasion. Rob starts with a quick spinning kick to the face so Regal already loads up his trademark brass knuckles. Van Dam is ready though and kicks them off his hand, only to miss an early Five Star Frog Splash attempt. A suplex and the Regal Cutter (arm trap neckbreaker) get two each for the champ and we hit the chinlock.
That goes nowhere other than to show that Regal has a bloody lip so he tiger bombs Rob for two. Rob fights back and (on the second try after some mistiming) monkey flips Regal out of the corner. A hard half nelson suplex sends Rob out to the floor. The referee checks to make sure that Rob isn’t dead so Regal pulls out the knuckles, only to get kicked in the face, setting up the Five Star to give Rob the pin and the title at 6:20.
Rating: C. This went fine and was a nice way to get the show going. Rob was a fun act and one of the more popular guys on the roster at this point so giving him a title win in a quick match made sense. Regal is still a great choice for a midcard heel who can lose, get built up again in no time, and be evil all over again.
We recap Christian attacking Diamond Dallas Page (former WCW World Champion) after Page helped him win a match. Page had helped Christian get over a losing streak and now Christian doesn’t need him. Christian says he’s over his temper tantrums, just like he’s over this stupid city and now lives in Florida. He’s ready to get his European Title back and that’s not a good thing for Page.
European Title: Diamond Dallas Page vs. Christian
Page is defending and is a really happy motivational speaker with shiny teeth. Christian is finally free from Edge or any other partners, giving us this awesome opening to his theme song, sung in an operatic style: “CHRISTIAN! CHRISTIAN! AT LAST YOU ARE ON YOUR OWN!” Christian goes after the champ to start but Page comes back with a gutwrench gutbuster. Some right hands are in the corner are broken up by a Christian low blow. For some reason the referee didn’t think much of Page’s face going from normal to looking like someone had hit him low very hard in a split second.
Page pays him back by trying to crotch him against the post but Christian pulls him into the steel instead. A reverse DDT into a backbreaker gets two for Christian so he goes up top, only to have Page climb to the bottom rope for a press slam. Page can’t hit the Diamond Cutter though so Christian grabs a backbreaker for two. That almost drives him to a fit but he doesn’t have time as the Diamond Cutter retains Page’s title at 6:10.
Rating: D. Not much to see here as Page really didn’t have a following in the WWF because he was such a homegrown WCW star. Christian was in a weird place here as he wasn’t rising up the card like Edge and was really just one half of a tag team without a partner. The match didn’t do anything for me but the Diamond Cutter always works. Page would lose the title to Regal later in the week.
Post match Page laughs at Christian but says he’s proud that there was no tantrum in front of SIXTY SEVEN THOUSAND PEOPLE. Christian of course snaps in a funny moment.
Rock talks about this being a huge match and he wants Hulkamania at its peak tonight. He asks interviewer Jonathan Coachman (Coach) if he took his vitamins this morning. Coach did, but he didn’t say his prayers. That’s not good enough for Rock so he wants Coach to say his prayers right now. Rock demands that Coach put his hands together and get on his knees to pray.
Coach: “What up G? It’s Coach here. I just wanted to give you a quick shout out.” Rock: “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???” He literally kicks Coach out and asks what Hogan is going to do when the Rock runs wild on him. Hogan is going to hear the people, he’s going to feel the People’s Elbow and good God almighty he will smell what the Rock is cooking. This was pure Rock charisma and it never gets old, just like Rock picking on Coach.
Hardcore Title: Goldust vs. Maven
Maven, defending here, won Tough Enough eliminated Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble. Goldust quickly knocks Maven to the floor to start and drops an elbow from the apron. Back in and Maven dropkicks a gold trashcan into Goldust’s face for two but a neckbreaker gets the same on the champion. Now it’s time for a golden shovel to Maven’s throat but both guys connect with a trashcan lid to the head. Cue Spike Dudley with his own referee to pin Maven and win the Hardcore Title via the 24/7 rule.
Rating: D-. This is what people are talking about when they say the division was a mess at this point. They would do this same idea for months but it gave people laughable numbers of title reigns with three people having the title over twenty times each. This didn’t have time to go anywhere and wasn’t going to be good anyway.
Crash chases Spike off.
Drowning Pool plays a song called Tear Away which “tells the story” of Jericho vs. HHH. In other words it’s a music video on the Titantron set to the song. Again: time that could have gone to something else. Well not the Hardcore Title match. Anything but that.
Crash and Spike fight in the back when Al Snow speeds in on a golf cart with his own referee, only to crash through cardboard boxes. The Hurricane (a superhero) swings in on a rope and pins Spike to win the title.
JR and Lawler talk about what just happened and then show it again. IT WAS THIRTY SECONDS AGO!
Kurt Angle vs. Kane
Angle has his black singlet on this year and goes on a rant about how much he hates Canada for whining until they won an Olympic medal (reference to a controversy over figure skating) in his usual funny stuff. There isn’t much of a story here but Angle caused Kane some head trauma and Kane wants revenge.
Kane does the fire from the posts but Angle decks him in the head with the bell, which the referee doesn’t see as a DQ because of reasons. Kurt drops him with a German suplex but Kane comes back with your standard choking. A belly to belly sends Kane flying again though and Kurt is right back on him.
Some Olympic style choking has Kane in trouble and it’s a belly to back suplex for two. JR calls Angle the high potentate of the suplexes. You would be better with alliteration Jim. Three rolling Germans get two on Kane so Angle goes aerial, only to get clotheslined out of the air. A tilt-a-whirl powerslam gets two on Kurt but the chokeslam puts him into the ropes.
Kurt shows his intelligence (one of the three I’s, along with intensity and integrity) by going for the mask, setting up the Angle Slam for two. That means it’s ankle lock time but Kane kicks him away and goes up, only to have Kurt run the buckles and superplex Kane back down. Kane comes right back with a chokeslam attempt but Angle rolls through into a cradle with his feet on the ropes and Kane’s shoulder WAY off the mat for the pin at 10:43.
Rating: C. Well that happened. This was a match that was just kind of there and didn’t go anywhere for the most part. The head trauma was forgotten a few minutes into the match, which just left them having a decent wrestling match. That’s fine in theory but it’s not the most interesting thing in the world when there’s no story.
Hurricane hides in a women’s locker room as the girls talk about their implants. Godfather chases him off after some unfunny jokes involving a rising broomstick.
We recap Undertaker (evil again and with short hair) vs. Ric Flair (co-owner of the company due to the fallout of the Invasion). Flair attacked Undertaker to prevent him from cheating at No Way Out so Undertaker wanted a match at Wrestlemania. Ric didn’t want to do it so Undertaker attacked Ric’s friend Arn Anderson and Ric’s son David to get the match made. Flair’s authority was stripped through Wrestlemania so Vince made the match No DQ.
Ric Flair vs. Undertaker
No DQ. Undertaker gets to do another long entrance on the motorcycle. They go straight to the floor with Flair tackling Undertaker over the announcers’ table. Undertaker comes right back by driving Flair into the post as things start getting a lot more violent. Flair’s punches have as little effect as ever so Undertaker throws him into the corner for the Flair Flip and a big boot to put Ric on the floor again. There’s something so entertaining about watching Undertaker punch people in the face, especially when it busts the other guy open like it’s done to Flair here.
The blood starts flowing so Undertaker kicks him in the head but Ric’s chops make Undertaker scream. There’s even blood on the camera lens. A top rope superplex makes the flashbulbs go off but Undertaker (bleeding from the cheek) picks him up at two. Undertaker slowly punches him in the face but Old School is broken up to continue a Wrestlemania tradition.
Some chops put Undertaker on the floor and it’s time for a lead pipe to the big man’s head. That’s not enough to make him sell though so Ric tries the thin metal signs instead. Those work better than a lead pipe for reasons of “wrestling is cooky” and a low blow has Undertaker in even more trouble. The Figure Four goes on but Undertaker remembers that he’s 7′ tall so he does the sit up and grabs Flair by the throat to break the hold.
The referee gets beaten down and now it’s time for Undertaker to have the pipe. Cue Arn Anderson with the spinebuster to save Ric but Undertaker is up at two. Arn gets busted open as well so Ric has to make the save with a chair. That’s fine with Undertaker as he kicks the chair into Ric’s face but for some reason he can’t get the Last Ride. Instead it’s a Tombstone to make Undertaker 10-0 at 18:47.
Rating: B. I liked this better than I remember as you had Flair going into his old school style and making the match last longer than you would normally see here. Undertaker beating him down slowly but surely worked as well with Flair getting his his hope spots where he could. Undertaker had to win here though and that worked very well.
Booker T. is insulted that Edge thinks he isn’t intelligent. He even won an award for his thesis on Einstein’s Theory of Relatives. They’re also fighting over Edge stealing a Japanese shampoo commercial from Booker. That’s one of those stories that you never see again but it was certainly different. I’d love to see more feuds like that. WWE can mix stories up because it creates the universe they live in. Why stick with the same ideas over and over again when you can do almost anything you want?
Edge vs. Booker T.
Edge, the hometown boy here, is on his own as well and rising up the singles ranks. An early dropkick puts Booker down but a hot shot gets him out of trouble. A clothesline puts Edge on the floor (But doesn’t mess up his hair. That shampoo must be working.) and a missile dropkick gets two for Booker. Edge crotches him on top though and scores with a hurricanrana.
It really is interesting to see Edge’s different style before he hurt his neck and became another main event brawler. Take this top rope spinwheel kick for two here. Can you imagine him doing that later in his career? It sounds like a completely different wrestler. Edge’s spear (that sounds more like him) hits the buckle so Booker has time to get in a Wrestlemania Spinarooni. JR: “I tried that last week on my porch.” Now the spear connects for two and Edge does a Spinarooni of his own, followed by the Edgecution (elevated DDT) for the pin at 6:33.
Rating: C-. Standard Raw match here and only on the show because of Edge’s hometown. There was a sign in the crowd that said “THEY’RE FIGHTING OVER SHAMPOO!” I know it sounds goofy but again: would you prefer them fighting over the same old stuff that doesn’t inspire anyone? Nothing match here, but what can you do in less than seven minutes at Wrestlemania?
Mighty Molly (Molly Holly as a superhero) hits Hurricane with a frying pan and steals the title.
We recap Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall. The NWO targeted Austin and cost him his WWF World Title shot at No Way Out so Austin kidnapped Hall and tied him up. The NWO responded by breaking a cinder block over his right knee. For reasons that still aren’t clear, Austin started selling the left knee.
Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall
Austin doesn’t even get to come out first. My goodness that’s quite the fall. Hall brings out the injured (shocking) Kevin Nash but Austin punches away to start. Some rams into the buckle draw the WHAT chants (still going strong nearly fourteen years later). A quick shot to Nash distracts Austin and Hall starts hammering away as Nash takes a buckle pad off. Austin is whipped hard into the exposed steel, followed by a big clothesline for two. Even Nash gets in a shot from the floor as this really would have been better as a handicap match.
Austin grabs a spinebuster to buy himself some time and follows up with a quick Stunner but Nash pulls the referee to the floor. Hall brings in a chair but Austin kicks and Stuns them both. Nash beats up the second referee so Austin backdrops Hall to the floor. A team of referees come out to eject Nash (you don’t mess with a referee posse) as Hall sends Austin into the exposed buckle. Scott gets in a Stunner of his own (more similar to the pre-superstar Austin version) for two but Austin comes back with two more Stunners for the pin at 9:53.
Rating: C-. I wasn’t feeling this one as Austin was clearly missing a major spark. By his own admission he wasn’t in a good place at this point and would walk out on the company for nearly a year just a few months after this. It doesn’t help that Hall vs. Austin really isn’t a very compelling match, though Hall might have set a record for taking the most Stunners in one match.
Axxess video. A girl meets Undertaker and breaks into tears. Even as a heel, you can see that Undertaker is touched.
Tag Team Titles: Billy and Chuck vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz vs. APA
Elimination rules. Billy and Chuck (Billy Gunn and Chuck Palumbo (a young WCW guy) as a very, shall we say, close team) are defending. Saliva plays the Dudleyz to the ring and their manager Stacy Keibler dances with the band. The APA jumps the champs to start and Bradshaw throws both of them with fall away slams. Chuck finally gets in a clothesline to Faarooq and the champs stomp him down in the corner.
It’s quickly back to Bradshaw and the APA brawls with Billy and Chuck as the other two teams just let them fight. D-Von finally gets tagged in as the fans are really not interested in this one. Bradshaw turns Billy inside out with his clothesline but turns around into 3D to eliminate the APA at 3:25. The Hardys come in and clean house on the champs as the Dudleyz load up a table on the floor.
Jeff drops Bubba with a Whisper in the Wind but Stacy comes up onto the apron and hikes up her shorts for a distraction. All that earns her are a spank and a kiss from Jeff but he walks into a Bubba Bomb. A big backdrop sets up a chinlock on Jeff as the match is already dragging. Off to D-Von for a hard clothesline before Bubba puts Jeff in the Tree of Woe and stands on his crotch (just like Matt got last year). Jeff finally scores with a clothesline and it’s a double tag to Bubba and Matt.
Bubba quickly runs Matt over but misses the middle rope backsplash (JR: “Has he ever hit that move?”). Chuck, who is still in the match despite not doing anything for about eight minutes, shoves D-Von off the top and through the table, leaving Bubba to get caught in a Twist of Fate and Swanton for the elimination at 11:49. The Hardys take over on the champions and it’s the Twist and Swanton to Chuck but Billy hits a quick Fameasser on Jeff to give Chuck two. Not that it matters as Billy comes in with the title belt to knock Jeff out and retain at 13:51.
Rating: D+. WAY too long here and the division continues to die for want of something fresh. We’ve been having the Dudleys vs. the Hardys for years and the next solution was to split up the titles in the fall, which wound up being an even worse idea. Billy and Chuck were fine but this match needed something a lot better than nearly a ten minute Hardys vs. Dudleys match that had been done a hundred times and then two bookend segments.
Hall and Nash say Austin got lucky and plan an attack on Rock tonight. Hogan comes up and calls it off because he needs to do this one himself.
Christian slams a door into Molly’s face for the pin and the title.
We recap Hogan vs. Rock. It was a very simple build: Hogan talked about being a legend but said the fans turned on him. Rock came out and said that Hogan was the one that changed before challenging him to a match at Wrestlemania. Hogan agreed, then hit Rock in the head with a hammer and crushed him with a semi truck. Rock didn’t bother selling the injuries though so it’s really just a battle of the generations.
The Rock vs. Hollywood Hogan
Make no mistake about it: this is the main event. Hogan is here alone and instantly the biggest face on the roster because Toronto is an old WWF town. Rock is nearly booed out of the building for the second year in a row. They stare each other down and you can feel the energy. The bell rings and we get the big lockup with Hogan shoving him down and posing for a standing ovation. Hogan is only the heel in name only here and everyone knows it.
A shoulder puts Rock down and it’s 1987 all over again as Hogan plays to the crowd. Hogan even calls him a meatball as a callback to Rocky III. Now it’s Rock shoving him down and telling Hulk to just bring it. The Rock Bottom doesn’t work and it’s Hogan punching even more. A clothesline sets up an abdominal stretch on the Rock as they’re keeping it very simple so far with big moves to fit the stadium style.
The fans boo Rock out of the building for some chops in the corner so Hogan comes back with a chokeslam of all things. They head outside with Hogan hitting him in the back with a chair. Back in and we’ve got a ref bump which really isn’t needed here. Rock hooks a Sharpshooter and Hogan makes the ropes, only to tap when Rock drags him back to the middle.
A loud ROCKY SUCKS chant breaks out but Hogan turns it into cheers with a low blow and a Rock Bottom of his own. It’s weightlifting belt time but Rock grabs a DDT, allowing him to do some whipping. The Rock Bottom connects…..and he Hulks Up. Hulk kicks out at two and 68,000 people are suddenly five years old again and Hogan is their hero. It’s as if he apologizes for every bad thing he’s done in just a few seconds and the fans accept him with open arms.
The three punches, the big boot and legdrop (JR: “HE BEAT ANDRE THE GIANT WITH THAT MOVE!”) get two so Hogan loads up another leg but it’s Wrestlemania VI all over again. There’s a second Rock Bottom, followed by a third and Rock nips up. The People’s Elbow puts Hogan away at 16:23.
Rating: B. This is ALL about the crowd as the in ring action was ok at best. The fans carry this to an epic encounter though and the ending was the only option they had. Hogan is the biggest name ever but this isn’t WCW and a guy ten years past his prime doesn’t beat the biggest star in the business at the time. That Hulk Up spot is one for the ages and it was done so perfectly that it’s the part of this show people remember more than anything else. Not a great match but an incredible performance and spectacle.
Post match Hogan gets to his feet and stares Rock down again before weakly extending his hand. Rock shakes it and leaves but here are Hall and Nash to beat Hogan down for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. Rock comes back in for the save and it’s posing a go-go. They knew they had something with Hogan here but they had a short time window. He was World Champion in April and lost it a month later, but the idea worked at the time.
Big Show is at WWF New York.
The new attendance record is announced.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz vs. Lita
Jazz is a tough fighter from ECW and defending here. Lawler is in pure lust over Trish in her Maple Leaf (remember she’s from Toronto) shorts. Jazz easily throws them around to start with a double chicken wing and butterfly suplex to Lita. Trish saves Lita from a superplex but kicks her in the head for two. A reverse DDT gets two on Jazz with Lita making the save. Now it’s Lita vs. Trish but Lita has to give Jazz a Twist of Fate. The moonsault hits Trish’s knees and Jazz is sent out to the floor. Stratusfaction is broken up and Jazz grabs the Jazz Stinger (fisherman’s superplex) to pin Lita at 6:16.
Rating: D+. This one didn’t work but they were in the death slot out there. Jazz retaining isn’t the best idea as she had the in ring abilities but no charisma. Trish and Lita were both over but they hadn’t quite become the stars that they would be later on. The good thing here is that the fans were still getting over Rock vs. Hogan and were ready for the main event so the result isn’t the worst thing in the world. Things would get even worse for Lita as she would break her neck a few weeks later and be out nearly a year and a half.
Maven rolls Christian up to get the title back and then steals Christian’s cab to escape. Yeah the whole thing is a big waste of time.
No recap of the main event this year (if only there had been about nine minutes that could have been spent on it instead of two completely worthless musical performances). Jericho won the Undisputed Title by beating the Rock and Steve Austin in the same night (in case you hadn’t heard that before) while HHH was out. HHH returned in January to win the Royal Rumble and earn this spot, but he’s also split up with Stephanie, who has aligned herself with Jericho. In other words, it’s a tacked on way to have her involved here and try to make you think that HHH isn’t winning by a mile.
WWF World Title: HHH vs. Chris Jericho
Drowning Pool plays HHH to the ring with a different song and it really doesn’t work. Jericho still has both belts here as the Undisputed Title would debut soon after this show. HHH has a big bandage on his thigh from the torn muscle. The bell rings and you can already hear Stephanie yelling because she’s very loud and can’t be quiet for ten seconds. HHH starts firing off right hands but makes the mistake of using the flying knee and injures himself.
Chris goes up top instead of staying on the leg but HHH shoves him out to the floor. Back in and Jericho wakes up by finally kicking HHH in the leg. That’s not cool with HHH though as he starts working on Jericho’s leg and even gets a Figure Four until Stephanie rakes the eyes for the break. HHH pulls her to the apron and Jericho accidentally drives a shoulder into Stephanie’s ribs.
The Pedigree to Stephanie is broken up with a missile dropkick and it’s back to the bad leg again. We get the Figure Four around the leg and a lot of yelling at Stephanie. Jericho’s spinning toehold draws a HOGAN chant until HHH kicks him shoulder first into the post. The spinebuster gets two on the champ but he sends HHH hard over the corner and out to the floor on the bad leg. Jericho tries to put on the Walls while HHH is on the table (a move he used after HHH tore his muscle in the first place) but has to settle for a backdrop through the table instead.
The Lionsault gets two back inside and now we hit the Walls. HHH FINALLY makes the rope for the save so it’s time for a chair. Stephanie’s distraction backfires though as HHH DDTs him onto the chair, drawing Stephanie into the ring. We get the big Pedigree but the crowd is spent at this point. Jericho hits him in the back with a chair (uh Chris, notice the BIG BANDAGE ON THE LEG YOU’VE BEEN WORKING ON FOR TEN MINUTES) and then tries a Pedigree like an idiot. HHH shows him how to do it properly and wins the title at 18:41.
Rating: B-. It’s good but anti-climactic. This was eighteen minutes of people working over the leg, which can only go on for so long. The Stephanie stuff was fine but the whole match was just waiting around for the big Pedigree to give HHH the title back. That was the only option they could go with of course and it worked to a degree. The problem is this wasn’t so much of a match as much as it was a countdown to HHH winning the title. It’s an idea that can work, but if you’re just sitting there waiting for something you only kind of want to see, it gets dull in a hurry. Good match, predictable story.
HHH celebrates a lot.
The now traditional four minute highlight package closes us out.
Overall Rating: B-. This show is really just kind of there. Other than Rock vs. Hogan, it’s a VERY forgettable Wrestlemania, at least partially because HHH would only hold the title until Backlash where he dropped it to Hogan. It’s definitely not a bad show but there’s stuff on here that could have been cut (the Hardcore Title, the musical performances, a lot of the Tag Team Title match) to get this down to a much more manageable show. It’s much more forgettable than bad, but sometimes that’s even worse.
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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