Wednesday, March 14, 2018

WWE Vengeance 2002

Once upon a time, a long time ago, back in 2000, I did a quaint little website called DTM Webstation... it was online, but rarely untouched until about a couple years later when I had regular internet access. Around that time, I started doing a series of commentaries quaintly titled "The Bite." Essentially my own rambling blog before such blogging ease was available to the masses or at least any that I was remotely aware. The Bite commentaries covered whatever came to mind, but one of the things I did in those commentaries was do quick predictions for then-upcoming WWE PPV shows, from time to time. Once I started up the DTM Blog, those predictions became a regular feature and the Bite commentaries became... well, obsolete. This was a regular thing even during the early years of this blog before I eventually just went with straight up random ramblings on the various shows.

Those early predictions (along with some updated thoughts) were what I reposted onto the blog early on and subsequently linked to the Wrestling Stuff page. The problem with including those on that page is people who only read the recent musings will assume I've done similar write-ups in the past when it simply isn't the case. As such, there's been this massive disconnect between the current format and this older, antiquated format that was posted purely for archival purposes and does not necessarily reflect my current thought.

So what I've gone ahead and done is pull out most of my old DVD-Rs that hosted these PPV recordings and decided to give them a nice rewatch and I'd figure it make for a nice weekly segment here on the blog. And that's what we're going to do from here on out; every Wednesday, we'll be looking at an older wrestling card from years ago and while the current format is to do the old WWE PPVs from 2002 to whenever I stopped doing the old format, sometimes I might veer off course and do another "old" show. (Newer PPVs, should I feel inclined to cover them, will not be part of this weekly package.)

So enough waffle; let's watch Vengeance 2002 for the first time in sixteen years and live to regret it.

For a bit of context, we are a couple months into the original brand split between RAW and Smackdown. RAW is headed by Eric Bichoff, while Smackdown is headed by ol' Nipple H herself, Stephie-Mac.

All the PPVs thus far were called by Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler... who did RAW commentary. On Smackdown, Michael Cole and Taz(z) did commentary... so at the start of Vengeance, Cole and Taz confronted JR and King over this oversight. The result was that Cole and Taz got to call some matches and announcing duties would be split between the two pairs. It was a pretty significant step towards diversifying the two brands and no doubt had that confrontation not happened, Cole and Taz probably wouldn't have gotten a fair shake... nor would they have gotten a chance to call some main events. It's just too bad that in recent years, we've fallen back to one mishmash announcing team calling matches from both brands. Just sad.

The big recurring theme with the backstage bits and subsequent promo time is which brand Triple H will be signing with... spoiler: he signs with RAW, where he's eventually given a World title and becomes the focus of the show during a shit period in business. And indeed, we'll be looking at a whole bunch of these shitty shows over the course of several weeks. I wanted to get that out of the way because I have no business sitting through a 20-minute HHH promo that is guaranteed to put me to sleep.

And now that we have that out of the way.

Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley defeated Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero in an Elimination Tables match where you had a bunch of action for about ten to fifteen minutes before we had elimination after elimination after elimination in short order. Not a bad way to start a show, but everyone involved needed something better to do and that wouldn't roll around for a while.

By the way, if you're wondering where D'Von is at this point, he would be on Smackdown posing as a reverand with Deacon Dave and his devious collection box chugging along for the ride. D'Von would eventually reunite with Bubba while Deacon Dave would tag along with Ric Flair and forge a career for himself under a different name: Batista.

Cruiserweight champion Jamie Noble defeated Billy Kidman to retain the title in a perfectly acceptable, but otherwise nothing special little match. Kidman would eventually win the title in November before eventually losing it a couple months after to Matt Hardy... sorry if I spoiled the show for anybody.

European champion Jeff Hardy defeated William Regal with a roll-up in a fairly quick match-up to retain the title. And I mean quick; not even breaking the five minute mark. This could've been on an episode of RAW (and if this were being booked today, it would've been booked the following night and made it through ten commercial breaks.)

John Cena defeated Chris Jericho with a roll-up in a pretty so-so match that saw Jericho getting the upper hand over the rookie and Cena pulling off a fluke roll-up for the win. This is vanilla John Cena with bland colorful shorts and a funny haircut; shortly before the injury that made him discover his true calling as a Vanilla Ice knock-off and long before his days as a mascot for the company. Nothing too special here and certainly nothing that wouldn't be topped in subsequent future matches over the years.

Intercontinental champion Rob Van Dam defeated Brock Lesnar via DQ when Heyman pulled the ref out of the ring to prevent the pinfall win  of RVD after he hit the frog-splash on Lesnar. Not a particularly good showing for Lesnar, but given that he's winning the title at Summerslam the following month - and this wasn't much of a secret, what with Brock being pushed as "the Next Big Thing" and Rock soon to fuck off to greener pastures - I don't think anyone would hold this against him.

In all honesty, I don't know why this needed to be a title match. There was no reason for Brock to challenge for the title and while I'm not generally in favor of a champion losing a non-title match, in this case, I wouldn't have minded RVD just challenging Brock to a grudge match - no titles on the line - and then eating the loss to keep Brock strong. Or maybe give Brock someone else crap over.

Booker T defeated Big Show in a No-DQ match... it was okay, with the big spot being Big Show getting axe kicked through a table, which is always fun.

After that match, we have the HHH promo, where he goes to RAW at the urging of Shawn Michaels... because he needs to find a smile or something. In a backstage bit that is funny in hindsight, Booker T says that he's glad to see HHH join the RAW roster. Several months later, Booker T would face off against HHH for the World title at Wrestlemania XIX and fail miserably... so I wonder how glad he was then.

The Un-Americans (Lance Storm & Christian) defeated WWE Tag-Team Champions Hulk Hogan and Edge with an assist from future bossman Jericho to win the titles. Not all that exciting to be honest, probably because everyone has to slow down to work at Hogan's level and it looks all the worse. I remember the Un-Americans being something of a big controversial bit within talking circles and I honestly don't know why. If anything, it was perhaps one of the least offensive or at least, the least interesting things on the program.

The Rock defeated Undisputed champion Undertaker and Kurt Angle by pinning Angle in a Triple Threat match to win the title. This was a case where the winner was all but set in stone and it only left to the three to give us a good little match to get us where we needed to be and for the most part, I think they've succeeded. Granted, all these guys have done better before and after the fact, but on a whole, this was a fairly enjoyable little match.

When I reposted the old predictions years ago, I opined that I needed to track down a copy of the PPV to watch because I had believed this show to be pretty solid. After having watched this show, I have to say that this would be a fairly average show teetering along that edge of sorts. Vengeance 02 has its share of good stuff that really doesn't go any higher than fairly good stuff and in all honesty, fits firmly in place as a forgettable but otherwise adequate PPV showing. Not a must watch unless you really want to see Rock win his seventh World title, but not a complete waste of time.

For curious parties, the old predictions post can be reached here.

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