Dunkin Donuts Center – Providence, Rhode Island – TV Rating: 4.7
The Good: The ending is WAY overbooked and the Unified Title match can’t even get the main event spot on Raw. AND the match comes about because the challenger suddenly seems to be able to book matches. There’s also the problem that both men are heels so the fans have no one to cheer for. But Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle get nearly ten minutes and make the most of it despite all of the above. A small bit of a history note, this is the last time Angle Vs Jericho happens on WWE Television. (Jericho won the series)
The Bad: Perhaps as an out of context vignette, Booker T learning Japanese for a shampoo commercial isn’t THAT bad. Or maybe it is. But it’s getting in the bad slot here because of what it leads to…
You will already have gathered if you have been following these retro reviews that I am not a fan of 2002 Stephanie McMahon as an on-screen character. He is inserted into the HHH/Jericho storyline might be logical (though I maintain she could have been kept off TV until after Mania and then had the “split” with Hunter) but it doesn’t mean it’s any good. Case in point, the WrestleMania main event is reduced here to a promo where Steph keeps pointing out that HHH is, erm, “small” down there whilst HHH hits back by saying Steph is well…wide down there. Jericho and the Unified Title are an afterthought.
It’s a minor point, I know. But Ric Flair, who is supposedly in charge here, doesn’t arrive until two-thirds of the show has already passed. He hears that The Undertaker has beaten up Arn Anderson. Then he leaves. Shrug emoji.
After an invitation to the Friendly Tap, the APA get there and are beaten up by Billy & Chuck. In more “hilarity” all of the onlookers at the bar appear to be men in drag.
The Indifferent: The opening nWo in-ring promo is your standard WWE TV stuff. They taunt the Rock (who isn’t here tonight, ostensibly selling the fact he was nearly murdered last week) and Scott Hall throws out a challenge to Stone Cold for WrestleMania, which Steve accepts later in the night. I mean it’s all fine, but it’s clear right from the off that the chaos that the nWo brought to proceedings at their peak in WCW is not going to be replicated here. Sure, they have star power. But already they are just a normal wrestling faction here.
- Billy & Chuck won the titles a few nights ago so their match with the Hardy Boys has no real drama given that you can’t see them losing the belts so soon. It’s fine for what it is but as ever they are not given much time and no one cares about the tag team belts at this point.
- Well at least DDP’s “Positive” gimmick is better than his stalker one, right? His attempt to get Christian not to quit the WWE through the power of positivity isn’t exactly thrilling, but at least it’s setting up a Mania match.
- Lance Storm, Rob Van Dam and The Big Show battle to become the number one contender to William Regal’s Intercontinental title. RVD wins in less than 150 seconds and books his shot at Mania.
- Booker T against Rikishi is a whole lot of nothing.
- Jazz and Mighty Molly’s match over the Women’s Title are fine and relatively solid for what it is. But there’s no getting around the fact that few people in the audience care even in the slightest about it.
- Steve Austin’s match with Mr Perfect exists solely so the nWo can come out post-match to beat up Stone Cold and drop a cinder block on his knee. Much like last time with Kane, it’s a shame that Perfect is used so little now, and he is mostly used on WWE Heat after this before leaving the aftermath of the Plane Ride from Hell.
Overall: Angle Vs. Jericho is the only thing worth hunting for here… and even that is a match that makes no real sense for any number of reasons. We’re less than a month away from WrestleMania and whilst attempts are being made to build up matches on the card nothing is clicking and we seem to be relying on the fact that the nWo is here for Hogan/Rock and Hall/Austin and that Triple H and Stephanie arguing about who was more responsible for their lacklustre love life is a wonderful way to build the World Title match on the biggest show of the year… Poor Jericho.