Review for WWE SummerSlam 2002, August 25, 2002, Uniondale, New York
It's not very often that SummerSlam is as much of a big deal as WrestleMania, but in 2002 it had that feel about it. After over four years Shawn Michaels was set to return to the ring to face Triple H in a grudge match. The Rock had just won the Undisputed World Title and was to be challenged by undefeated rookie, Brock Lesnar, who had been named no. 1 contendor after winning the King of the Ring. On top of that, to say the midcard at this time was solid would be a gross understatement.
Hosted by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler for the Raw matches, and Michael Cole and Tazz for the SmackDown matches.
Kurt Angle vs Rey Mysterio
We're starting with a bang, this is Reys WWE PPV debut. Kurt Angle was a wrestling god at this point in his career. Rey appears behind Angle on the apron to start and hits him with a springboard headscissor take down. Dropkick and rana follow and Angle gets ankle lock but Rey makes the ropes. Rey sends Angle to the ropes but misses the 619 and Angle pulls him out of the ring. Back in, Kurt hits a suplex, but telegraphs a backdrop. Rey goes for a wheelbarrow but gets caught by an insane German suplex. Rey blocks another one and gets 2 from a sunset flip. Angle lays him out with a clothesline for 2. Rib breaker gets another 2 count. He works over the back using the ropes. Angle works away in the corner but gets cocky and it backfires. Rey goes for a headscissors but get caught with a backbreaker, nice spot. Half crab but Reys cradle for 2. Angle puts him down again. Rey gets a jawbreaker and comes back, but Kurt blocks a sunset flip and nails a suplex. Rey reverses the angle slam and dumps him. The ref gets in the way of Rey of a high spot, so he vaults over him and hits it anyway, that drew a 'holy shit' chant. Back in, springboard legdrop gets 2. Angle counters with an ankle lock, but Rey counters and hits a 619. West Coast Pop gets 2. Angle is bumping like madman here. Leg lariat and Rey goes up, and then dodges the superplex. He tries a top rope rana but Angle counters into the ankle lock and Rey taps out at 9:20
Ah, the SmackDown Six period, this match was awesome, and the crazy thing is, after this, every week on Smackdown we were getting matches as good as this. This is the definition of hot opener, and the crowd were into every minute of it. They only got 10 minutes but they used every one of them. I just wish they were given more time. (***3/4)
Ric Flair vs Chris Jericho
The build up to this feud was completely ass backward, they did a fully physical build up, and no promos, in a feud with two of the best talkers in the business. The creative on Raw back in 2002 left a lot to be desired to say the least (we're about a month away from Katie Vick at this point). Lock up and a slap by Flair to start. Jericho dominates for a bit and hits a back drop. Back suplex by Jericho and he misses an elbow and gets chopped in the corner. Jericho goes for Flairs eyes and lay in some chops of his own. Flair gets corner flipped and clotheslined out. Jericho takes the padding off the barricade and slams Flair into it. Up top, Jericho leaps onto Flairs back. Back in and Jericho slugs away. Flair comes back but runs into a reverse elbow. Jericho with a missile dropkick for 2. Jericho loosens the turnbuckle and chokes Flair with tape while the referee is distracted. Flair comes back but gets dropped. Jericho chokes away on the middle rope, and it's pretty apparent these two just don't work well together. Delayed suplex gets 2. Up top and he gets launched down. Jericho misses a charge and gets chopped in the corner. Flair backdrops Jericho and hits a back suplex for 2. Jericho counters a suplex attempt into a roll up and goes for the Walls of Jericho, but Flair cradles him for 2 in a nice sequence. Jericho hits a bulldog but misses the lionsault and gets chopped again. Flair tries the Walls but it doesn't work. Jericho rolls through and locks in the Figure Four. Flair fights and eventually gets the ropes. He taps in the ropes so Jericho thinks he's won but the referee doesn't agree, which is one of those stupid things in wrestling that we have to just accept - you can give up, but if you're in the ropes it doesn't count. Flair avoids a charge and Jericho gets caught in the ropes. Jericho gets chopped into the referee and Flair goes low and locks in the figure four, and Jericho taps at 10:30.
Disappointing, Jericho wasn't on here and Flair wasn't at his best in 2002 to say the least, it was still solid but nothing more than that. The finish was actually completely ridiculous because Flair didn't even touch Jerichos knee to build it up. Jericho said in his book that it was supposed to be an inside cradle but he wanted to help get the figure four over so they switched it. That makes sense given it just came out of nowhere with no build or anything, points for getting the move over, negative points for the lack of style. (**1/2)
There's a few backstage segments that I'm ignoring between Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon, they just pointlessly needle each other all night and the acting is about as bad as you'd expect from a porn movie.
Edge vs Eddie Guerrero
Two more of the Smackdown Six here. Edge gets a flapjack to start. Guerrero comes back with a neckbreaker and drives Edge's neck into the top rope. Edge gets a monkey flip and front slam for 2. He misses a charge and is sent out. Guerrero drives his shoulder into the steps. Back in, Guerrero takes him down with armbar. He keeps on the arm with stomps and slaps on another armbar. Clothesline but Edge comes back with a powerslam. Edge gets a backdrop but Guerrero comes back with an elbow. Facebuster by Edge gets 2 and he sends Guerrero out. He goes up and hits a cross body to the floor. Back in Edge catches a suplex out of the corner for 2. Edge tries a spear but gets dropkicked in the shoulder. Frog splash misses and Edge gets an implant DDT for 2. Another try is reversed into a northern lights suplex, on the shoulder, for 2. Neckbreaker and he goes up for the frog splash, Edge follows but he gets a fought off and Eddie frog splashes his shoulder for 2. Edge spears him out of nowhere, with the bad shoulder, to win at 11:45.
What the fuck was that finish? Such great psychology and selling, and then that? Come on. Eddie was the man, he was so great to watch, and every move he did made sense, and Edge sold like a champion for almost all of it. That finish holds this back from greatness, though, I'm not letting them off the hook for that blunder. (***3/4)
WWE TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH: The Un-Americans (Lance Storm and Christian) vs Booker T and Goldust
Goldust with a hip attack on Christian for 2. Armbar and atomic drop on Storm and Booked comes in with an elbow and sideslam. Knee for 2 and Goldust comes back in. Cheapshot turns the tables. And champs work over Goldust. Chrstian gets a backbreaker for 2. Goldust catches Storm and makes the comeback. Spinebuster and he tries to tag but he's cut off by Christian. He eventually gets the tag but Storm has the referee distracted so it doesn't count and Goldust gets beat up in the corner. They continue working him over but he eventually fights out and gets a catapult on Christian into Storm. Double clothesline spot and both are down. Storm sneaks around and pulls Booker down to stop the hot tag from happening. Storm and Christian bring chairs in the ring but miss the conchairto. Goldust hits a double clothesline and finally makes the hot tag. Booker cleans house. Up top and he hits a missile dropkick on Christian for 2. Scissor kick misses, Christian goes for the Unprettier but it's blocked. Booker gets a flapjack, and Storm tries a leg lariant but Booker ducks and the ref gets wiped out. Booker takes out the champs with a scissor kick. Spinarooni time and Christian runs into an axe kick but there's no ref. Storm the belt but misses and taken out. Test does a run and boots Booker in the face and the champs retain at 9:37.
Pretty standard stuff for the most part but it really picked up at the end with a hot closing sequence. Hated the run in finish, though. They probably should've switched the titles here, the Booker/Goldust tag team were really getting over and by the time they finally won it was too late. (**3/4)
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH: Chris Benoit vs Rob Van Dam
Stiff kick to the thigh by RVD, Benoit misses a right and gets kicked inthe ribs several times and goes down and bails. Benoit grounds RVD with a dragon screw and catches a headlock. RVD fights out of it but gets knocked down. RVD avoids a charge and gets a springboard crossbody for 2. Benoit gets his head kicked but avoids another kick and takes over. Short arm clothesline gets 2. Backbreaker and snap suplex follow both getting 2 counts. Benoit works over the shoulder. RVD tries to come back with an armdrag but gets knocked down. Benoits mouth is busted from one of those kicks. Small package gets 2 for RVD and a backslide for 2 more. RVD with a monkey flip but Benoit is up quickly knocks him down again. Benoit runs into a boot, split-legged moonsault gets 2. Benoit goes up but misses the diving headbutt. RVD goes up but misses a five star frog splash. Benoit locks in the crossface but RVD makes the ropes. Benoit runs into an elbow, RVD springs up op but shoves him off and outside to the guard rail. Benoit out and hammerlock drives RVD into the post. Back in and Benoit hits a shoulderbreaker then drops an elbow. Surfboard but RVD fights to his feet. Benoit goes to the knees and turns into a sleeper. RVD rolls out of it and tries his own, but Benoit breaks free. RVD gets a leg but misses the cartwheel moonsault. Crossface again but RVD elbows out of it, Benoit with a stack pin for 2. Hammerlock by Benoit and he launches him into the ringpost. Benoit with another hammerlock and hits a northern lights suplex, floats over with the hammerlock still applied and does it again, and makes it three. Awesome. Crossface again and RVD tries to make the ropes, but Benoit blocks it and hits a dragon sleeper. RVD counters into his own crossface. Benoit rights out and hits a dropkick. Benoit ears another elbow and RVD hits a springboard kick for 2. Step over heel kick and rolling thunder get 2. RVD hurts hits shoulder on a shoulder thrust and hits a spin kick for 2. Benoit blocks a monkey flip, RVD up top but gets crotched. Benoit to the top but RVD counters a back suplex attempt with a crossbody and five star frog splash finishes at 16:28.
Benoit was just pulverizing the arm and RVD was laying those kicks in. Benoit was a good opponent for Rob because he could keep him on leash and stop him from getting too sloppy, a lot of guys also bitched about Rob working too stiff, but Benoit was a real man and happy to let him go nuts. Robs selling was piss poor at times here (as usual), it did bring the match down a bit and kept the crowd out of it - and there you the problem with RVD, he couldn't sell and thus, the crowd never got emotionally invested in his matches, they'd only pop for his big spots. That negative out of the way, this was an awesome match and I can't think of a better RVD match in his WWE run. (***3/4)
The Undertaker vs Test
Test knocks him down but Taker regains control and gets a hip toss and big clothesline for 2. Taker old goes old school but Test shoves the referee into the ropes to stop that. Taker gets drilled and goes flying into the guardrail. Brawl on the floor and Taker gets sent into the stairs. Back in, Test elbows and chokes a lot and hits a clothesline. Rest hold time but Taker fights out of it and hits a back suplex. He misses and elbow drop and they slug it out again. Taker gets the better of it and hits a DDT. Old School, clothesline in the corner, snake eyes but the big boot misses. Pumphandle Slam gets counters and Chokeslam by Taker gets 2. Taker goes for the Last Ride but Lance Storm and Christian interfere. Chokeslam for both of them. Big boot from Test gets 2. Test grabs a chair but gets it booted in his face and Tombstone finishes it at 8:18.
Better than expected, though a far cry from anything surrounding it. Test was ok when he was motivated, which he was here, and Taker had his working boots on. Decent big man match, if the heels were going to run in like that, Test probably should've won with that big boot, but this was Taker's first big match after his face turn so he had to go over. (**1/2)
UNSANCTIONED MATCH: Shawn Michaels vs Triple H
Unsanctioned match, for all intents puposes, this a street fight. Shawn has the Smoking Gunns 1995 attire with a jeans and a cowboy hat, not a look I'm loving. Triple H also takes us to past, shaving his beard for the first time in years, but his hair is shit now so he can't take us back to 1997. Shawn throws his shirt in HHH's face and it's on. HHH tosses him and Shawn gets back in and takes HHH down and pummels him. HHH knocks him down to come back. Shawn with a leapfrog, and he sends HHH over the top and follows it with a plancha. They brawl outside and Shawn gets a trashcan and throws it in the ring. He skins the cat back in and clotheslines HHH. Trashcan shot and he goes up top and hits an axehandle. HHH comes back with a sick backbreaker and the entire feeling of the match changes, yeah I know it's a shortcut since they can skip 10 minutes of working the back over, but hey, Shawn broke his back so he deserves any benefits he can get. HHH delivers another one and the ref wants to stop the match but no one is having any of that. Hard whip into the corner, another one and HHH tells him to suck it and boots him in the face. Elbow to the back gets 2. HHH grabs a chair and drills Shawn in the back with it. Shawn's selling is so great here. That gets 2. Shawn fights back but HHH goes for a suplex, Shawn lands on his feet and roll up gets 2. Facebuster by HHH and he DDTs him on a chair and Shawn is busted open. HHH takes Shawns belt and whips him like government mule before wrapping it around his fist and pummeling him. HHH goes out and it's sledgehammer time. Shawn stops him using it and fires back. HHH gets the abdominal stretch, and cheats, can you even cheat in a match with no rules? I guess you can because referee Earl Hebner gets pissed off with it. Shawn tries to come back but gets knee'd and set up on the turnbuckle. Shawn knocks him down, but HHH sends the ref into the ropes and he gets crotched. Inverted tree of woe and HHH kills him with a chair shot. Backbreaker through a chair cripples Shawn, but he only gets 2 from it. A few more frustrated near falls follow. Sidewalk slam on the chair in next and that gets a few more 2 counts. Massive HBK chant. HHH goes for the pedigree on the chair but Shawn scores a low blow. HHH gets a the chair but gets it superkicked into his face and now he's bleeding too. Shawn comes up and catches a flying forearm and kips up to pop the crowd. Backdrop to HHH and he gets drilled with a chair shot. Whip sends HHH out and they fight out there and Shawn gets his revenge with the leather belt. On the announce table and Shawn steals the Spanish announcers boot and hits HHH with it. Bulldog on the steps and he runs around to find a ladder. He uses it as a happen and sets it up on the post. HHH reverses a whip Shawn but stops short, and catches a catapult into the ladder. Back in and it gets 2. Shawn gest the ladder but HHH baseball slides it into him. HHH goes to the top in a spot that never worked and gets superplexed for 2. Crufifix into sunset flip follow for 2. HHH comes back with the knee for 2. He brings the steps in but Shawn drop toe holds him onto them and clothesline him outside. Now Shawn gets a table and sets it up. He drills HHH with a fire extinguisher and sets him up and climbs up the ladder. Splash through the table draws "holy shit" chants. HHH eventually goes back in and Shawn brings the ladder in. He sets it up and climbs and drops an elbow from the top of the ladder. The band warms up but the superkick is blocked, pedigree is counters into a jacknife roll and that's enough to get 3 at 27:20. Post match HHH nails Shawn in the back with the sledge hammer and cripples him, because he's a sore loser and a piece of shit. He laughs and leaves the ring while Shawn gets stretchered out, never to be seen from again (until a couple of months later when he decided he'd like to do another run for real).
Still think he should've gone over clean with the superkick but that's not important. To say this lived up to the hype would be an understatement. Shawn Michaels returned with one of his best matches ever. You wouldn't know he'd been away for four years, he was every bit the miracle worker he was in his prime. His selling was perfect, and his babyface comebacks were timed to perfection. Triple H looked good and vicious here, making the crowd gasp with the nasty things he was doing to Shawn's back. The storytelling and drama were off the charts. (*****)
Talking segment in the ring where Howard Finkel acts annoying (apparently he's a heel for some reason now), goes for some misogyny, gets seduced by Trish Stratus, but it was a ruse so Lilian can kick him in the balls. I have no idea what the purpose of this was, outside of being a waste of time in order to let the crowd catch their breath after the previous match. I guess there was a ring announcer feud going on that I have no recollection of. The Fink gets my vote, Lilian was terrible (though, better than most that came after her).
WWE UNDISUPTED WORLD TITLE MATCH: The Rock vs Brock Lesnar
Rock lays the belt down and sprints to the ring, and it's on. He lays the smackdown but Lesnar belly to belly's him for 2. Rib breakers get another 2. Brock kicks Rock out of the ring and Heyman takes a cheap shot and Rocks ribs. Clothesline into the front row and then press slams him on the guard rail. Back in, overhead throw gets 2. Rock tries to come back but gets tripped by Heyman. Lesnar dominates and chokes behind the refs back. Rock comes back with rights and the crowd is openly booing him. Telegraph and snap powerslam for 2. Deafening "Rocky sucks" chants now. Lesnar thrusts away in the corner, but misses a charge. The fans are not letting up on The Rock here. Both are down and kip up at the same time, that was awesome. They slug it out now. 2 clothesline stagger Lesnar, and a third knocks him down. DDT for 2, sharpshooter attempt but Heyman distracts Rock and gets slugged down for it. Now he gets his crappy excuse for a sharpshooter. Now the crowd are chanting for Lesnar. Heyman distracts the ref so Rock flips him in the ring. Rock Bottom is attempt is blocked. Lesnar grabs a chair and hits Rock in the ribs with it. Into a bearhug (which he killed off Hulk Hogan with on SmackDown), Rock eventually fights out of it but Lesnar suplex and maintains it. Rock gets the hand up at 2 and comes back, to hugs boos. He fights back and slugs away, taking Lesnar down to his knees. Heyman distracts again so goes low. Lesnar drives him into the corner and charges into the ribs. He tries it again but Rock explodes with a clothesline. He lays the smackdown and sends Lesnar outside. Rock gives it back to the crowd for their disrepectful treatment. Rock sets up the announce table and slams Heyman on it. Catapult on Lesnar into the ring post, and Heyman takes a rock bottom through the announce table. Back in rock bottom gets 2. The Rock lets the people know what he thinks of their treatment of him, and so he should, you don't boo The Rock! Lesnar comes back with his Brock bottom for 2. Both are down, but get up before the 10 count. Whip reversal into a spine buster and it's people's elbow time, but Brock pops up and murders him with a brutal lariat. They both fight out of each others finishers but Brock catches his F5 in the end and sends Rock back to Hollywood at 15:50.
Now this is how you make a guy - no bullshit, just make the guy look like a million bucks and put him over clean in the middle. The Rock was the man. I love this match, it's perhaps not as epic as it could've been, but it's an explosive back and forth, hard hitting main event with a great closing sequence. The crowd were electric, they were ready for Lesnar here, which was a real fear going in. Yeah, they boo'd the shit out of the Rock but he was leaving for Hollywood anyway, and it gave us the classic Evil Hollywood Rock character when he came back in 2003. (****)
Best SummerSlam of all time? It gets my vote, just edging out 1998. An extremely strong midcard filled with good matches, capped off by Shawn/HHH stealing the show, and a great main event that was able to follow it. This show was stacked and lived up to everyones expectations. Thumbs way up.