King of the Ring 2002
Date: June 23, 2002
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
I haven’t been looking forward to this one and I have a feeling that’s going to be proven right. The triple main event is Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle, HHH vs. Undertaker for the World Title and the tournament final, none of which would be interesting in the first place but here they’re getting a ton of focus. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of some great King of the Ring winners with 1995 obviously being omitted. Does anyone want to see Savio Vega anyway? The regular opening video talks about the tournament and the two regular matches, as you would expect.
The awesome huge metal chair is back but unfortunately Kurt Angle and Shane McMahon won’t be beating the heck out of each other around its legs this year.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho
Non-title. Jericho works on the arm to start as they’re going pretty slowly here, suggesting there’s going to be a lot of time for this one. That’s not a bad thing either as I’d rather two talented guys get time than two people who are going to kill the crowd right off the bat. Both guys try dropkicks so we have a standoff, meaning it’s time for Van Dam’s signature post.
A quick kick to the face sends Jericho outside, setting up the required flip dive. Back in and the referee is sent into the ropes to crotch Rob on top, setting up a butterfly superplex for two. Jericho unhooks a turnbuckle pad because that was only done in Thursday’s main event so it’s more than long enough. The running crotch attack only hits the ropes but Jericho kicks him down and starts cranking on the arms.
Back up and a springboard kick to the face gives Rob two, followed by the cartwheel moonsault for the same. Jericho shrugs off a few more kicks and sends Rob into the exposed buckle for two. The Lionsault gets the same and the Walls send Van Dam bailing for the ropes. They head up top so Jericho can get shoved off and very obviously crawl to the middle of the ring so the Five Star can put him away.
Rating: C+. Just a match really, which isn’t the best thing in the world. There wasn’t much heat here and the near falls didn’t get either guy anywhere. Jericho has just been crippled since the title reign ended and he’s in a big need of some freshening up. Van Dam going forward to face Lesnar was obvious but I was expecting a lot more here.
Lawler goes in to talk to Van Dam but Jericho chairs Rob down and puts him in the Walls.
Heyman fires Brock up.
King of the Ring Semifinals: Test vs. Brock Lesnar
Why they’re even bothering with this is beyond me. Brock sends him into the corner for the shoulders to the ribs as the GOLDBERG chants start up. A hard clothesline puts Brock down and Test hammers away in the corner, actually to some avail. More shoulders to the ribs have Lesnar right back in control and he throws Test around with ease.
A belly to back suplex gives Brock two, followed by a powerslam for another delayed two. The side slam and full nelson slam get two on Brock, followed by the pumphandle slam for the nearest fall in Lesnar’s career to date. The big boot makes it even worse and the fans actually buy into the two count this time. Test loads it up again….right in front of Heyman. I think you can figure out the next step and how it sets up Brock’s F5 to advance to the finals.
Rating: C-. This could have been a lot worse as Brock needed to survive a slugout. I know Test wasn’t the best choice here and it would have made more sense to have him go over someone like Bubba here (which wouldn’t have been possible due to the Raw vs. Smackdown rules) but Test actually lived above his head here.
Bubba Ray Dudley says he’ll bounce back but picks…..well no one in the finals actually.
Lance Storm and Christian would rather rant about people being anti-Canadian instead of picking a winner.
Cruiserweight Title: Hurricane vs. Jamie Noble
Noble is challenging after his girlfriend stole Hurricane’s gear for reasons that aren’t quite clear, mainly because they’ve blazed through this story. Helms takes it straight to the mat to start but can’t get anywhere. Instead he goes with the opposite by superkicking the heck out of Noble, which is greeted by the always classy “SHE’S A CRACK WHORE” chant at Nidia.
Speaking of Nidia, she completely misses while trying to trip Hurricane, who doesn’t sell the thing, thank goodness. The distraction lets Noble get in a shot from behind to take over though and things slow down again. An electric chair gets two for Jamie and it’s off to a seated abdominal stretch. That’s switched into a sleeper for a few moments before Hurricane comes right back with a neckbreaker and jumping clothesline.
The Overcast gets the same and frustration is setting in. With nothing else working, Hurricane grabs the cape and throws Jamie outside for a high crossbody, sans cape of course. Jamie gets right back up and takes Hurricane to the top but the champ grabs a super swinging neckbreaker of all things for a huge crash. Nidia climbs onto and is promptly knocked off the apron, setting up a chokeslam for two on Noble. Hurricane gets crotched on top though and a powerbomb gives Jamie the title with Nidia shoving Hurricane’s foot off the ropes.
Rating: C. Well that happened. The ending really sucked the life out of this one as it was really picking up until then. Nidia continues to be completely useless but she won some reality show and therefore has to be around. Noble isn’t a great heel but he’s a great character and I have no issue with him winning the title. The division has the potential to go somewhere at the moment but there’s a lot of work to be done.
The replay shows that even though Nidia moved the foot off the ropes, Hurricane’s hand was under the ropes. She really can’t do anything right.
Eddie Guerrero isn’t worried about ticking Ric Flair off because he needs to say hi to his family, name by name. This of course includes Little Timmy, the foster kid they picked up off the street, leaving Terri stunned. Or maybe that’s just how she looks in general.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Ric Flair
Feeling out process to start with Eddie showing Flair up a bit in the athleticism department until a big chop sends him outside. A low blow has Eddie in trouble but, as always, it’s cool when Flair cheats as a face. Back in and Eddie stomps away in the corner before starting in on the knee. Flair’s leg is wrapped around the post and then the ropes, meaning we get some very un-PG language from Ric.
Of course we hit the Figure Four because all Flair matches must see him put in the Figure Four. Flair eventually (and I mean very eventually) gets out so Eddie grabs a chinlock. JR isn’t sure on the strategy as it would make sense to stay on the legs but maybe he doesn’t understand lucha. A suplex sets up the frog splash but Flair rolls away before Eddie even dives.
Guerrero does the splash anyway and the crash means it’s time to start in on Eddie’s legs. This brings out Chris Benoit as the Figure Four goes on. That’s broken as well and they can’t seem to do the bridge into a backslide spot. Eddie can however hit a tornado DDT for two and Benoit pulls Ric to the floor for the Crossface. The referee quickly ejects the Canadian (Maybe Storm and Christian are onto something) and it’s Bubba Ray running in with a Bubba Bomb to give Flair the cheap pin.
Rating: C. This was much more long than good and that’s not really a positive sign. The ending was more confusing than anything else, unless it’s ANOTHER wrestler signing up to pay tribute to Flair. It didn’t help that the fans didn’t seem to care and the wrestling wasn’t exactly inspired stuff. Still though, not the worst and I’d rather this get the extra time than something else.
William Regal and Chris Nowinski are annoyed at the service at the World. That’s your transition to the Women’s Title match.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly
Molly is challenging after Trish, the face in this feud, laughed at her for being allegedly fat. Trish is annoyed at Molly for using Trish’s own underwear to choke her, which is apparently the real injustice in this feud. The champ gets taken down into an armbar as Lawler wants to know what color thong JR might wear. Trish gets two off a neckbreaker and a modified victory roll gets the same. They’re setting a really fast pace here and it’s working so far.
A trip to the floor sees Trish sent into the crowd before coming back in with the Stratusphere. They slug it out and Trish hits the Chick Kick but gets German suplexed for two. Molly misses the Molly Go Round and JR thinks she might have broken the ring. I’ll let that one go as Molly grabs a rollup and the tights for the pin and the title. Lawler: “It was survival of the fattest!”
Rating: B-. Several points for the action here and several dozen more taken away for the angle and commentary. Remember when Michelle McCool and Mickie James did a similar story and it was called bad taste even though McCool was the heel? Well here it’s Trish being treated as the face for the exact same thing. I still can’t believe I’m watching this but hopefully this wraps it up.
Angle wants to know why he and Hogan are both considered American heroes. After all, Hogan is only considered a hero because Vince wanted him to be. “If Mr. McMahon wanted Hogan to be a zookeeper, Hogan would be a zookeeper!”
We recap Hogan vs. Angle, which is over Vince wanting to screw with Hogan for wanting to retire. Angle seems to be Vince’s first goon to go after Hogan, which doesn’t really make sense. If Vince wants to keep Hogan around, why is he sending someone out there who could hurt him? Wouldn’t it make more sense, and embarrass Hogan more, to have him at the bottom of the card?
Kurt Angle vs. Hulk Hogan
They fight over headlocks and top wristlocks to start until Angle is powered out to the floor. So far they’ve just had Angle run around and bounce off Hogan, which is pretty easily their best possible outcome. Back in and Hogan sends him head first into the buckle nine times before a low blow puts Hulk down.
Kurt gets two off a belly to back suplex because Hogan would probably break after one German suplex, let alone the rolling version. A sleeper into a chinlock has Hogan down as the announcers debate which of these two have more fans in Iraq. The Angle Slam gets two but Hogan comes back with the big boot. There’s no legdrop though as Hogan goes for the wig. Naturally he puts it on and Angle’s chair shot hits himself in the head. The legdrop is countered into the legdrop though and Hogan starts rolling…..but he actually taps out a few feet from the ropes.
Rating: D. You could tell Angle was working WAY more slowly than usual here but the ending was the right call. There comes a point where there’s no way to accept Hogan being able to hang with someone at Angle’s level and Hulk tapping out because he just couldn’t keep up was the right move. Now if Hogan drops way down the card and leaves the main event picture alone, everything will be fine.
Goldust is dressed up as Rock, much to Booker’s dismay. We actually get a heck of an impression until the real thing pops up behind Goldust, who immediately begs off. Rock shows him the proper way to do FINALLY so Goldust starts rubbing his chest. Booker says don’t worry about Goldust because Rock is jumping in the wrong face. Goldust: “What about me?”
He tries a few catchphrases of his own before backing away because it’s not his style. Booker liked the speech so Goldust does the chest rub again, messing with Rock even more. Rock is here to watch the main event because the title is bigger than the People’s Elbow, the Spinarooni and, to Goldust, “What do you do? You got a finishing move?” Goldust talks about the ammunition in his cannon to finally send Rock over the edge. Rock: “STOP RUBBING YOURSELF MAN!” Everyone uses a catchphrase though Booker cuts Goldust off again. Funny stuff here, as you would expect.
King of the Ring: Brock Lesnar vs. Rob Van Dam
Non-title again of course. Rob hits and runs to start, including a few kicks to the legs. Brock takes as much as he’s going to though and crushes Van Dam with a powerslam. Some backbreakers set up the bearhug until some more kicks get Rob out of trouble. Rolling Thunder gets two and there’s the Five Star, only to have Heyman snap Rob’s throat across the ropes…..sending Rob onto Lesnar for two in a great false finish. The F5 makes Brock King a few seconds later.
Rating: D+. This was just a step above a squash, even though Rob got in most of his signature stuff. The win wasn’t clean as Rob couldn’t get a good cover and took a little extra time due to the Heyman interference so it’s not as bad of a loss as it could be. Lesnar isn’t ready for the main event but they have to put someone new in that spot, especially with Austin gone.
HHH runs into Kevin Nash and Shawn Michaels, who offer their help tonight if needed.
We recap HHH vs. Undertaker with HHH challenging after beating Hogan and….that’s it actually. There’s really no reason to care about him and there’s not much to their feud other than Undertaker has the title and they’ve punched each other a lot.
Heyman jumps in on commentary to say the winner of this is keeping the title warm for Lesnar until Summerslam.
WWE World Title: Undertaker vs. HHH
HHH is challenging and comes out second for no apparent reason. They slug it out to start (get used to that kind of exchange) with neither really getting an advantage. HHH mixes it up with a choke before the fight heads outside for more punching. The slow punching continues until Undertaker misses a running boot in the corner. A modified Snake Eyes gets Undertaker out of trouble and he drops an elbow for two.
Somehow we’re five minutes into this already and they’re both looking tired. Even more punching, this time on the floor, goes to Undertaker and a legdrop gets two. HHH breaks up a superplex and scores with a backdrop as Heyman goes on about Lesnar beating Rock up backstage. A turnbuckle pad is ripped off (third time in two shows) but Undertaker is sent into it back first, setting up a neckbreaker for no cover. The jumping knee gets two more….and the ref gets bumped.
Cue the Rock to take Heyman’s place on commentary as Undertaker grabs a chair. HHH knocks it away and sends Undertaker outside where he kicks Rock in the face. Rock hits HHH in the head with the chair by mistake and we’ve got some blood. After sending Rock into the post, Undertaker gets a delayed two off a Last Ride and this crowd is just gone.
The new ref gets bumped and it’s a Rock Bottom for Undertaker. Rock just leaves and HHH gets the slowest cover in years for another two. The Pedigree connects but since this is a main event match, Earl Hebner is STILL DOWN after nearly ten minutes. HHH goes to wake him up but it’s a low blow into a rollup with trunks and ANOTHER ridiculously slow count retains the title.
Rating: F. You’ll often hear people joke about how they think they’re watching something in slow motion but that actually happened to me here. The ref was down for so long and the falls too so long that I really did forget that the show was still going at regular speed. This was nearly twenty five minutes of punching and finishers, which is far from enough to carry a main event. Just terribly boring here but that’s what you have to expect from the main event scene around this time.
Post match Undertaker talks trash to Rock and gets Rock Bottomed, setting up a Pedigree to Rock to end. Undertaker chokeslams HHH to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. The following criticisms apply to all of the matches except for the women, who worked hard despite having a horrible story and almost no time to work with. Their match doesn’t line up with the rest of the show, which was one of the most lifeless cards I’ve ever seen. The matches were far from the worst I’ve ever seen but there was no energy almost all night.
This was a show with WAY too much talent on it to be this dull but that’s exactly what happened. It felt like no one was interested in trying because they could just do their matches and then go on to the week’s TV. I had almost no interest in anything on here and the whole thing seemed to be something they had to get through before either next month’s pay per view or Summerslam. I expected better here and it’s more disappointing than bad.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 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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