WWE: Retro Raw | WWE Vs NWO Revenge? – March 11th 2002

Joe Louis Arena –  Detroit, Michigan, TV Rating: 4.5

The Good: Let’s get this straight. The match pitting Stone Cold Steve Austin & The Rock against The WWE Vs NWO trio of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash is pretty terrible.  And the only interaction between the two in the match lasts less than a minute.  But for the only time ever, Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin clash in the ring in an actual match.  So from a historical point of view, it’s something of note.  Nothing else on this show is in terms of a positive… But WWE Vs NWO is notable for this one-time occurrence.

The Bad: We’re six days from Wrestlemania and the World Champion Chris Jericho is reduced once again to a bit part in the Stephanie/HHH divorce. Worse still this is the Lucy episode. Where Jericho not only plays second fiddle to a dog being “fought” over in a divorce. Who pees on the carpet (The dog, not Jericho), Who almost dies when a limo apparently knocks over and kills it… Except Lucy is fine.  HHH is livid though and attacks Stephanie back at the arena only for Jericho to make the save as we all debate if this entire thing was a “set-up”. It wouldn’t work as a mid-card comedy. It shouldn’t be anywhere near the world title match.

Similarly, why are large portions of the show dedicated to the “emergency board meeting” that Vince calls because he’s upset with Flair, who is apparently making the company fall apart?  Because all we get as a “pay-off” is Flair saying that Vince can have full control…until WrestleMania.  So basically one Smackdown show?  The board can review after Mania.  All so utterly pointless. 

Well no one was expecting Rikishi Vs Test to be anything other than nothing were they? 

The Indifferent: The Rob Van Dam & Hardy Boys against William Regal & The Dudley Boys is your traditional “combine two separate matches at the upcoming PPV into a TV tag team match”.  It’s fine, and it just about achieves it’s aim of making RVD seem a real threat to Regal.  But it’s four minutes long so they can’t do an awful lot with it and it’s the 876th time in this retro rundown series that I’ve seen the Dudleys opposite the Hardys. 

We’re less than a week away from Mania so they have to come up with some way of officially confirming Kurt Angle Vs Kane and Booker T Vs Edge.  They do this with an Angle in-ring promo which is interrupted by Booker for no other reason than his interruption allows Edge to interrupt both him and Angle.  Angle saves it with his claims that he’s the “Big Red, White and Blue Machine” as well as coming out with the phrase “You dang skippy crystal clean with no caffeine”.  I’ve no idea what that means, mind.  There’s no getting away from the fact that this is a terrible way to “book” two WrestleMania matches, six days out from the show though… Just a bunch of dudes who have nothing to do, whilst the big event is somehow still WWE Vs NWO (WCW) even this far along.

  • The Hardcore title is beyond passé by now anyway so Al Snow winning it in a minute is too inconsequential to be “bad” I suppose. 
  • Aside from yet another “Big Show is the mystery partner” gig, Booker T and Angle against Edge and Big Show isn’t too bad. Big Show, as the only one without a gig at Mania is clearly going to be the one pinned…and he is.
  • Christian against Billy (off of Billy & Chuck) is only here to Christian can turn on DDP to set up a Mania match.  What a way to promote your tag team champions though, hey?
  • Similarly. Lita & Trish against Jazz & Stacy Keibler only exists to hype up the three-way match at Mania on Sunday.  Jazz wins when Trish accidentally kicks Lita, so there is your “intrigue”. 

Overall: Awful. Just awful.  At best at least this show confirms some of the Mania undercards, albeit in a clumsy fashion.  But the Flair/McMahon stuff is pointless.  Jericho, after a few weeks of playing third fiddle in the World Title scene, is now fourth fiddle to a dog.  Nothing on this show makes you want to tune in to Mania.  It’s as if someone has decided that having Hogan Vs Rock is enough of a reason to tune in (and to be fair, it is) and that no real thought needs to go into most of the rest of the card.  It’s the main event you have to see for historic reasons, but this is just a painfully bad show. 

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