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Wednesday, March 28, 2018

3384 - WWE Survivor Series 2002



You know, I was going to skip this one and save it for a later time, but since I don't want to have another huge gap in the sequential posting of these old shows, I may as well do this one now. This show has significance to it, as it is the first show to feature the brand-new Elimination Chamber gimmick; a (storyline) creation of Eric Bischoff which combines aspects of the Royal Rumble, Survivor Series, and Wargames. The hype for this thing was something fierce and this would've been the first time people would bare witness to the final product.

Now I honestly don't recall if I ever did a predictions sheet on this one; chances are I might not have, so unless it's mentioned in the old commentaries of the day, I may never know what I originally thought of this show back then. Would've been nice to know, but in any event... here we are.

Survivor Series 2002. Let's get started.



Bubba Ray and Spike Dudley and Jeff Hardy defeated 3 Minute Warning in a Tables Elimination match. 3 Minute Warning, for those who don't know, comprises Rosie (future Super Hero In Training and Hurrican tag team partner), Jamal (the future Samoan wildman Umaga - RIP), and Rico (the guy who managed Billy & Chuck to a couple tag titles and a fake gay wedding.) After some eliinations and some high risk endeavors featuring Jeff Hardy jumping through things from high places, it boils down to Rico and Bubba, only for the two Samoas to come back uninvited. And just as things were looking bleak for Bubba, in comes in D-Von - who spent the past few months threading water as a Reverend while his Deacon ended up getting the big push - to make the big save and giving Rico that Dudley Death Drop through a table for da win, yo.

You know, I actually didn't mind the Reverend gimmick for the time it was going on, but putting the Dudleyz back together was probably a smarter move. It's amazing that back in the day, people were shitting on Bubba Ray's chances at single success and yet years later, he'd prove everyone wrong by not only winning TNA's World title, but also being one of their biggest heel characters during their Aces Of Eights storyline. Who knows how things would've gone if he had gotten that push sooner? Then again, the only push Bubba would be getting around that time would be on a treadmill while McSon-In-Law and friends deluded themselves into thing people actually gave a shit about them.

Oh, right. The match... it was a good brawl with lots of tables being broken and lots of stupid shit from Jeff. Good ol' mindless fun was what this match was and I liked it... not to mention the Dudley reunion at the end made it all the sweeter.

Rock band Saliva sings a song at WWE's old Times Square restaurant. Remember when that was a thing, because I sure as hell didn't.

Billy Kidman defeated Cruiserweight champion Jamie Noble to win the title. Started off a bit slow, but picked up later on. There is one major gripe that I have and I'm fairly certain it's been touched on by others: at one point, Noble hits Kidman with a pretty sick looking DDT out of the top corner and it looks like a really vicious move that could potentially cripple someone for life... but then a few seconds later, Kidman recovers quickly and hits a spin kick and shooting star to win the title... without ever showing signs that he was hit with a goddamn killer DDT. When people hear Steve Austin bitch and moan about people not selling the DDT, it usually means shit like this. A little sellsmanship goes a long way in getting the people invested in the story you're trying to tell; otherwise, it's just exhibition... which is unforunately the only thing people could make out of the Cruiserweights.

Victoria (a.k.a. that Lisa Marie person who owned a pizza place) defeated Women's Champion Trish Stratus in a Hardcore match to win the title. Hold up! Women in a Hardcore Match?! In 2002? TAKE THAT, #LOLWOMENREVOLUTION! And you know what? This was fairly entertaining stuff.

Granted, watching a couple women wrestlers in a hardcore match with weapons and stuff - especially during a time when we were calling them Divas and such - was undoubtedly an odd sight for sure and, in re-watching this, this was far more brutal than I was expecting and both ladies gave their all to put on a good showing.

I have a feeling that at some point in the future, when WWE wants to book Charlotte defending the title against whoever and they need a gimmick match to push this Women's Revolution nonsense, they're going to pretend this match doesn't exist and announce the first ever Women's Hardcore match or something equally stupid like this. But sadly, we've been there, done that, and quite frankly, this was far better than I was expecting. Belated kudos and all that.

The Big Show defeated WWE Champion Brock Lesnar with a timely betrayal from Paul hyman to win the title... and the match sucked ass - all 800 lbs. of it. Oh, for fuck's sake, of all the guys they could've chosen to give Brock his first big loss, they give it to FUCKING BIG SHOW?

You know what? Let's try a different angle so I'm not sounding like a fucking smart mark...

Of all the guys Paul Heyman could've jumped ship with in order to doublecross Brock Lesnar for not heeding his advice, he goes with FUCKING BIG SHOW?!

Nah, same reaction... and yes, it was the same reaction back in the day, though I'd imagine for different reasons. Big Show's first WWF title reign was hardly a roaring success both on a creative and box office level and yes, Big Show would lose the title a month later to Kurt Angle, but even a month-long Big Show WWE title reign felt like an eternity... as opposed to a McSon-In-Law title reign which felt endless despite the few breaks that happened in the interim.

Here's the thing you have to understand; Big Show in 2002 was not good Big Show; this was slow, fat, oxygen-depriving Big Show. People bitching about Big Show in top spots in recent years only had to suffer through Big Show being a decent and competent worker with a hugely inconsistent character path (which can, has, and will be blamed on spotty creative when it comes to how to use the guy). Big Show in 2002 was horrifying bad... like, really bad. Not only that, but Brock was legit hurt going into his match because Big Show legit hurt his ribs during a prior house... and he's doing all the work and even manage to lift Show's dead weight for an F5.

Props to Big Show for lasting as long as he did and being healthy enough to live a good life and all the best to him in whatever he does next, but that doesn't mean I'm giving him a free pass in everything he's done.

I mean, seriously... fucking Big Show?

Los Guerreros defeated WWE Tag-Team Champions Edge/Rey Mysterio and Kurt Angle/Chris Benoit in a three-way elimination tag match to win/retain the titles. All six competitors would eventually lay claim to world titles in the future. This was a good match in a series of good matches and these six superstars were instrumental in making Smackdown "the wrestling show" of the two brands and that ultimately made it the better show of the two before things went south in a hurry. Years later, we'd have another brand split and Smackdown is pretty much the better WWE show on the air... how long before that stops being a thing... but I digress.

Man, all that action has me winded, so here's Matt Hardy (Version 1) and former Tough Enough contestant Chris Nowinski to make some brutal jokes at New York's expense. Nowinski is perhaps better known these days as the figurehead of Sports Sciences, the organization who looks into head injuries and concussions, but once upon a time, he was an aspiring wrestler with a Havard snob gimmick and I forgot how obnoxious he was in the role (in a good way.) All of this humor is set up so that we can debut Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner into the WWE fold.

Coming out to a massively positive reaction - that might be overstating it, but New York LOVED Steiner, who proceeded to clear the ring of the "lesser folks" and then asked to be givin' "a fucking mic." He does his spiel and the world is left wonder what role Scott Steiner would play in the WWE. A year later, we got our answer and it ain't pretty.

Shawn Michaels defeated BIG GOLD BELT Champion McSon-In-Law and four other guys who don't matter in an Elimination Chamber match to win the World title. For those who care, the four other guys are Rob Van Dam, Kane, Booker T, and Chris Jericho. The reason these four men don't matter is because the match was all about HHH and HBK and in the end, those two guys were the ONLY ones you saw as potential winners. And I think that was the biggest problem with these early Elimination chamber matches; they often telegraphed the last guys standing and most of the time, you were just waiting through the pointless bits before things really started picking up.

And make no mistake, the match was fine. RVD was climbing the cage, HBK got tossed through the pod, the usual array of good action bits... but it all felt so pointless and devoid of emotional investment until the very end because you knew that anyone not named HHH or HBK were just dead weight to be cleared out, so as to not take the spotlight away from the only two people who mattered.

As for Shawn winning the title? It was a nice little gesture and it was kinda cool to see Shawn hold the title for one last time before riding off into the sunset... and while he'd only have a month to hold that title, he got to wrestling for a few more years afterwards and putting on some truly great showings before finally retiring in 2010... so I guess in hindsight, that was a pretty good trade-off. Even if that meant enduring the eternal McSon-In-Law title reign.

The first Elimination Chamber match isn't all that fantastic and I chock that up more to this being the first time around. It's like a pilot episode; you expect an introduction of the premise and can somewhat forgive the less than stellar performance because you know future installments will build and improve upon here. And while the first Chamber match isn't all that great, there have been some good ones along the way. I like the concept when it's done well and there have been instances of that. Just not here.

Survivor Series 2002 is a weird show. It has some good matches, but some oddball booking decisions that left me wondering why (again, FUCKING BIG SHOW.) From a purely historical standpoint, it's worth watching just to see the first Elimination Chamber match (though there is a DVD compilation of Chamber matches that might have the match on there), but otherwise, there's nothing here that really sticks.

On a final note... fucking Big Show.

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