Smackdown, January 31, 2002, The Scope – Norfolk, Virginia, TV Rating: 3.9
The Good: Ok, so, it’s essentially one of those “one show” storylines that end us up in exactly the same place at the end of the show that we were when it began but the Flair/Vince stuff is again a good watch. Flair does an emotional in-ring promo earlier in the show where he is essentially saying goodbye, only for him (in our main event slot) to rip up the contract that would sign his half of WWE back over to Vince after Stone Cold Steve Austin makes his feelings known. Again it’s taken us two hours to get to a position where nothing has changed, but it’s a fun ride to get there and Ric Flair’s Goodbye is pretty nice, despite not being “real”.
Again it’s not “great” but the four-minute tag team match between Edge & Rob Van Dam and The Dudley’s (with William Regal as a guest on commentary) is perfectly fine and at least had been set up by what had happened on Raw. And again, Triple H and The Rock against The Undertaker and Kurt Angle is nothing more than above average but for a TV match, it’s an entertaining ten minutes or so until the lame as ever DQ finish.
The Bad: I have no interest in Rollerball The Movie. So a number of skits throughout the evening with the likes of Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, Chris Klein and LL Cool J interaction with the APA and Booker T are painful. That it’s all to set up an interminable APA Vs Booker T and Test tag team match that goes two and a half minutes and is just another excuse for the “film stars” to be at ringside and push their rotten movie makes it all the worse.
The Indifferent: Ok, so there’s a reason that Tazz and Chris Jericho are having a match (Tazz was upset that Jericho assaulted Maven on Raw or something, ignoring that if he really wanted to get revenge on Maven’s behalf he should challenge the Undertaker – who really did a number on Maven) but I’m at a loss why Jacqueline is the special guest referee. The match is your usual sub three minute TV stuff and although Jericho requires a low blow (insert your own Tazz joke here) to help him win I’m still going to count this as Jericho’s second clean win in a week. Wow, things are looking up for him, aren’t they?
It seems incongruous for DDP to suddenly become a champion in the WWE but his European Title win over Christian is your average decent WWE TV bout from the time period.
It sneaks into “indifferent” rather than “bad” because at least on this show there’s only one Stephanie McMahon promo. That it’s a long sit down interview with Jim Ross means that there’s quite a bit to get through and it’s not exactly riveting. But at least for once, it is heading somewhere (even if I don’t like where it is heading) so it’s a necessary evil in that sense.
Overall: Another entertaining show, with really only the Rollerball stuff falling flat for me. Things are happening, it’s mostly watchable in terms of the in-ring action and there is the feeling that even if what we’re building to is obvious, we are at least building to something in terms of No Way Out and beyond on the road to WrestleMania. One of many times that Ric Flair’s Goodbye is a draw on a show!