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WWE: Retro SmackDown | The Rock Vs Austin 3? – January 17th 2002

Centurytel Arena – Bossier City, Louisiana | TV Rating:  4.0
The Good

It’s your basic bit of fluff in one respect, but the show opener of The Rock arriving at the arena (and given he was completely missing off Raw on Monday it’s already a better show for it) and having a little conflab with Stone Cold Steve Austin just oozes chemistry. It’s a blatant attempt to swerve fans (Spoiler alert; we do get The Rock Vs Austin 3, but Rock doesn’t win the title at the Rumble and Austin doesn’t win the actual Rumble match, but we do get The Rock Vs Austin 3 eventually?) into thinking what we might see on Sunday (or trying to divert us from what we WILL see) but still, it’s good stuff. (At other points in the evening other top stars interact – Angle/Rock, Rock/HHH, Rock/Taker. Booker/Angle… erm… Steph/Debra – to lesser success in order to make fans think what’s going to happen at the Rumble). 

Jazz Attacks GIF - Jazz Attacks Trish Stratus GIFs

It’s hardly a great segment (and interviewer Lillian Garcia’s acting is horrible in it) but the fact that there is an angle where Jazz attacks Women’s Champion Trish and targets a specific body part (in this case the hand) to get heat for Sunday’s match is a blessed relief at this stage of WWE. They’re not setting up title matches by having the participants in lingerie or bikinis…

You could write a thousand-page thesis on what was “wrong” with the Chris Jericho undisputed championship push in 2002 and there’s no getting around the fact that it wasn’t a memorable run for whatever reason.  But on this night there is actually some fire in Jericho as he interrupts The Rock’s in-ring promo (and Rock was on fire too here). It’s your standard back and forth in many ways but that doesn’t change how effective it is.  It gets both men “over” in terms of what they will be doing in a few days time at the Rumble and makes fans have more anticipation towards that match too!

I mean it’s obvious from the start that Triple H and Steve Austin aren’t losing in the main event tag match and with Booker T joining Kurt Angle on the opposing side we know full well who will take the loss here.  But for a TV main event of no real consequence, it’s entertaining and the ongoing Austin/HHH tease for the Rumble match itself is more than fine, it ends up being false dawn as The Rock Vs. Austin 3 is some ways away, and Austin will have a totally different story come WrestleMania 18.

The Bad

It’s one of those where you can’t blame the people involved but a three-man battle royal between Christian, Lance Storm and Rikishi that goes less than two minutes is a complete waste of time. 

Edge & Test clash in a non-title match and it’s only on this show so that William Regal can run into further the hype between him and Edge for the Rumble and this, of course, leads to a DQ finish. 

The Indifferent

DDP vs. William Regal: SmackDown, March 21, 2002 - YouTube

It’s an odd one because I would guess I am like most people.  I like Rob Van Dam.  I like William Regal.  But pitting the two of them against each other in a random TV match in 2002 just isn’t a very good idea.  Perhaps the dictionary definition of “clash of styles”.  It’s not a bad match but it’s not very good either.  And certainly, not one that is so hot that you can see why two months later they’ll be chosen to open up WrestleMania.  Regal is in his full-on “hit the brass knucks whenever we can” mode so he takes this one via pinfall by that route. 

Anyone expecting a Billy (Gunn) singles match to be any good hasn’t been paying attention but he’s in there with Tajiri and it’s less than three minutes so I can at least say it’s pretty inoffensive. We’re in “get heat on the new tag team” mode here (Billy & Chuck) so in a way it works.

I’ve no reason why Diamond Dallas Page is suddenly in a match where if he wins he “gets a contract” but his match with The Big Bossman only goes three minutes so it doesn’t have time to be awful. 

Overall

We’ve seen better shows…we’ve seen much worse.  Although there’s very little wrestling action to get excited over the show as a whole does a good job of leading us towards the Royal Rumble and getting fans a little more excited about what may happen there…

Matthew Roberts
Matthew Roberts
"Who's your daddy, Montreal?" - Shawn Michaels
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