Frank Erwin Center, – Austin, Texas, TV Rating: 4.5
The Good: I mean look, we’re clutching at straws here but the backstage chat between Christian and Diamond Dallas Page is relatively amusing, especially when Christian takes a phone call, says “pull the plug” and then reveals a relation of his is about to die and he will inherit a lot of money when she does… Speaking of family issues… I’m not entirely sure why The Undertaker HAS to have a match with Ric Flair so badly but the video where the Dead Man takes a trip to a WWE training facility to beat the living hell out of David Flair is well done. And a reminder that for all the barbs thrown Charlotte’s way two decades later, it’s clearly not as simple as being Ric Flair’s offspring equalling dominant super stardom. Poor old David Flair… Went from dating Stacy Keibler to getting his head caved in at a prelude to the Performance Center.
All hail Rob Van Dam and Lance Storm for injecting psychology into a five minute TV match that most people would have forgotten had happened a week later. It is very good for what it is.
The Bad: A couple of weeks before Mania and the World Champion (Chris Jericho) isn’t on the show because he’s somewhere in Greenwich looking for lotion for the wife (Stephanie McMahon) of his Mania opponent (Triple H). Let that sink in for a minute before we get to yet more “whore” jokes from HHH. Who somehow leaves her with some skin lotion. Later on we see that HHH had switched it and what she uses leaves her looking, well, less than her usual perfect self.
On a similar note, whilst it’s because of movie commitments (and selling near-death presumably) once again there is no Rock here. Though he is promised for Smackdown.
The Indifferent: As ever, even with the way he’s booked in 2002, you could get quite excited about the prospect of Booker T taking on Steve Austin to open up the show proper but as it’s 2002 we know that it’s going to be a short one before the nWo interfere and cause the no-contest. Which they do. They take the fight to Austin (who very clearly blades before the wrench “bursts him open”). It’s cool to see Austin and Hogan share a ring, even if it’s tinged with a little sadness that the match never happened. Not because it would have been a technical classic but there’s so many ways (good or bad) it could have gone in 2002 the possibilities are almost endless.
Test and Mr Perfect start what is one of the greatest tag teams of all time in their match against Scotty 2 Hotty and Albert. Oh wait, no. No they don’t. The match is nothing much and ends with Rikishi making the post-match save and Mr P getting the stinkface. It’s not as if Hennig had many other options in 2002 is it I suppose.
Goldust against Tazz for the Hardcore title is your usual nonsense. I.e. not very good at all. But it’s short. The match I mean; that was not a knock on Tazz.
Jazz against Trish Stratus isn’t very good, but at least it goes three-plus minutes or so (the three matches before it on the show didn’t crack that barrier) and again whilst I’m not completely sold on Jazz being an all-time great, the WWE are certainly going out of their way to make her look like a genuine threat.
It’s mildly amusing that the nWo play rock, paper, scissors to decide which one of them will wrestle tonight. As it is when they “draw a name out at random” to be the opponent. That we get Scott Hall Vs Spike Dudley in a two and a half minute squash is less amusing.
The main event of Triple H against Kurt Angle in a cage isn’t bad. But once again it almost totally revolves around Stephanie McMahon. The only reason it avoids the “bad” section is that the two guys put some effort into proceedings which means the match isn’t a total bust.
Overall: I mean if you take Stephanie McMahon out of things most of the stuff on the show is inoffensive. But once again there’s nothing really here that is igniting feelings for the upcoming WrestleMania X8. And it’s clearly the case as rather than building up, ratings are falling the nearer we get to Mania.