WWE: Retro SmackDown | A Lethal Dose Of NWO – January 24th 2002

SmackDown | North Charleston Coliseum – North Charleston, South Carolina | TV Rating: 4.2

The Good: The fact that a month or so removed from the “Title Unification tournament” we getting another tournament to decide the number one contender for that Unified Title seems a little bit of overkill.  Especially as three of the men in it battled over the title unification as well.  That said, whilst that remains the case, the fact they have the tournament semi-finals here means we get TWO matches on one WWE TV show that go around ten minutes.  And both Steve Austin Vs Booker T and Kurt Angle Vs The Rock are very solid TV matches. You could argue that there’s at least one too many Vince McMahon skits/promos throughout the show, but we’re leading up to the nWo reveal so it has a payoff… so there is no argument that the build-up to his big announcement very well and certainly get you hyped.

He appears to be on the verge of a mental breakdown (Likely, considering it’s Vince) as he, apparently, talks to someone who is trying to talk him out of whatever it is that he has planned. Of course in the final promo, we see that Vince has been talking to himself all along. “I’m going to kill what I created.  I’m going to inject the WWE with a lethal dose of poison. If anyone is going to kill it, it is going to be me… me and the nWo!”  As he spins around like a classic Bond villain and shows the nWo logo on the back of his chair. You can say what you like about what comes next, but this reveal was all kinds of awesome.

The Bad: Intercontinental Champion William Regal jobs to Rob Van Dam in a non-title match whilst lasts all of 40 seconds… You can’t blame the wrestlers, but you can say that the booking is bafflingly bad. 

Perhaps I’m being harsh because 2002 Stephanie McMahon is an awful promo, and her “splitting up” with their husband HHH will have disastrous consequences for any credibility World Champion Chris Jericho had left.  Because the backstage argument between the married couple isn’t awful, but it’s Stephanie, having to be inserted into the main event programme for WrestleMania AND the whole “you married me for my last name… No, I married you in spite of your last name” nonsense completely ignores the fact that HHH essentially drugged Stephanie and married her whilst she was unconscious. So the idea that they had to fight against Vince’s disapproval for the relationship is just ludicrous.  Steph could just have stayed off TV until after Mania really, but that simply would not do would it?

Why are we seeing Kane & The Big Show team up again?  Why have they got tables to match against the Dudleys?  Why do the WWE think I remotely care? Two minutes of nothing.

The Indifferent: For a three-minute match of no importance between a veteran who is past his prime and someone else who will never again threaten to reach the heights he once did, the Big Bossman against Rikishi isn’t that bad.  I’ve seen a lot worse.

Trish Stratus against Jazz has a decent enough storyline premise around it (Trish still has that injured hand, Jazz is willing to take a DQ loss in a non-title match to soften up her opponent) but as a match, it was something and nothing. 

Overall: Two matches that go ten minutes and a great series of Vince McMahon promo’s means that whilst the show was also packed with some baffling booking decisions as a whole it is a very entertaining show.  Throw in some funny backstage interviews with The Rock and Kurt Angle and you’ve got a show that is far from perfect but is genuinely enjoyable for the most part.  And the news that the two are on their way to the WWE is a great moment in WWE history… Months after suffering through the WCW Invasion which didn’t even mention nWo members; Hogan, Hall or Nash.

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