HomeResults - Wrestling2000sWWE: WrestleMania 18 Recap – March 17, 2002 | MatMagMania

    WWE: WrestleMania 18 Recap – March 17, 2002 | MatMagMania

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    WrestleMania 18: The One After The Invasion? It’s the post-Invasion era. That storyline didn’t make it all the way to Mania, wrapping up the previous year. This takeover of the other two major wrestling companies in the USA, the company were finally left as the biggest player around. That left the company with a massive roster full of new names, some of whom had retained their star power and some of whom had been hurt by the Invasion storyline.

    The show starts off with a performance from Saliva. It’s very 2002. We’re back in Toronto at the SkyDome, back for the first time since WrestleMania VI in 1990. A pretty sappy opening video featuring WWF talent talking about how much WrestleMania means to them. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are back as the commentary duo.

    WrestleMania 18: William Regal vs Rob Van Dam – WWF Intercontinental Championship

    Kicking off with William Regal for the second year in a row, against one of the break out stars from the original Invasion angle the previous year, Rob Van Dam. There’s an early reference to RVD’s days in ECW with commentary suggesting he might be awed by the size of this event.

    RVD starts out on top, Regal going his brass knuckles early and trying to beg his opponent off. An early frog splash from RVD is missed and Regal takes over. Good back and forth, it’s a clash of styles on paper but they usually make for an interesting match. Regal keeps fighting to slow the pace against the faster RVD. Something seems to have busted Regals nose. The two men trade the advantage often, Regal taking his eye off the ball sometimes to wave and taunt the crowd. Every Regal match always features some kind of rare or unique move, this match is no exception.

    RVD is busted open in the mouth/nose himself before Regal goes to retrieve his brass knuckles. He gets disarmed by the referee before seemingly going for a second pair. This briefly distracts him and RVD manages to hit the ‘Five Star Frog Splash’ to win the title and become the new Intercontinental Champion. This was his first reign with the title, setting him up for 5 more in the future.

    WrestleMania 18: Diamond Dallas Page vs Christian – WWF European Championship

    Page had beaten Christian for the European Champion in January and after a tease of a team between the two, Christian had attacked Page earlier in the week to set up this match. Christian is in his ‘hometown’ (or home area) but disowns it in his pre-match promo.

    Diamond Dallas Page was arguably one of the most hard done talents in the Invasion Angle. He came into the WWF as a multi time WCW World Champion but this European Championship was his only singles title in the WWF. There’s an early reference to Page’s role in Mania VI (driving the Honky Tonk Man to the ring) as the action kicks off straight away.

    An early advantage for Page turns into a big run for Christian. Some potential comebacks for Page are snuffed out quickly, Christian being underhanded in his tactics. Some good work from the two men before Page catches Christian on the top rope and throws him to the mat to gain some control. Christian ducks a feigned punch and ends up being powerbombed for a near fall. The two men trade attempts at their respective finishing moves but neither can hit one just yet. Christian though lets himself get a little distracted and Page hits the ‘Diamond Cutter’ for the win and the retention.

    Page gives Christian a motivational pep talk post-match and Christian responds by having a tantrum. Unfortunately for Page he would lose the title just two days later to Eddie Guerrero, but he does get the chance to stand amongst the fans with his title as he used to do in WCW.

    The Rock is backstage with Jonathan Coachman, already hearing some boos from the Toronto crowd. He cuts the typical freeform Rock promo, hits his catchphrases and his talking points, bantering a bit with Coachman. It’s pretty funny stuff, The Rock berating Jonathan Coachman for his poor attempt at saying his prayers.

    WrestleMania 18: Maven vs Goldust – WWF Hardcore Championship

    ‘Tough Enough’ winner Maven faces off with the recently returned Goldust for the soon to be retired Hardcore Championship. A lot of focus on Maven’s journey to this point as he makes his entrance.
    Goldust starts off hot, attacking before Maven is even in the ring and starting to simply manhandle the champion around ringside. A specially painted golden trashcan for Goldust leads to a couple of clunky spots where the two men fail to hit the other. Goldust brings a golden shovel into the ring, using it for a clever attack as he steps through the ropes. In terms of control, it’s almost all Goldust.

    Both men are down when Spike Dudley runs down with his own referee. The 24/7 rule still being in effect, Dudley pins Maven to win the title. Crash Holly chases him away post-match.

    More of an angle than a match, but it does become the only match in Mania history to be won by someone who wasn’t actually involved in the match.

    There’s a ‘Drowning Pool’ performance. Apparently, it’s to tell us the story of the main event, but it’s really just soundtracking a silent video package played in the background. It is also very 2002.
    We then go backstage to see Crash Holly having caught up with Spike Dudley. Al Snow drives right through the picture and straight through a wall of cardboard boxes. The Hurricane swings in on a rope and pins Dudley to win the title, Snow extricating himself from the boxes too late to do anything about it.

    WrestleMania 18: Kurt Angle vs Kane

    Angle has seemingly turned heel again having been the leader of the WWF during the Invasion. He gets his now signature ‘You Suck’ chants during his entrance and riles up the crowd some more with some apparently topical references to Canadian figure skating.

    Angle attacks Kane just before the bell with the ring bell itself, not the same ring bell that is then used to immediately single the start of the match. A lot of head focused offense from Angle as he takes charge early on. Kane recovers quickly, because he ‘doesn’t have a brain’ according to Lawler. Angle manages to hit a belly-to-belly suplex on Kane, an impressive feat on such a sizeable man, before going for a pair of clotheslines. Some more classic Kurt amateur grappling follows, trying to ground Kane and wear him down. Lawler inserts the word ‘Olympic’ into every possible sentence when referring to Angle.

    A brief Kane comeback gets snuffed out by three successive German Suplexes, Lawler banging on about head trauma throughout. Angle hits Kane’s signature diving clothesline but gets cocky and goes for another and loses the momentum. Much like in the opener, this is a clash of styles, but one that works well, Angle seemingly revelling in the role of physical underdog. A chokeslam from Kane leads to a rope break for Angle, who immediately after fights out of an attempted piledriver by pulling at Kane’s mask.

    The straps come down for Angle and he goes for his ‘Ankle Lock’, twice in a row. Kane goes for a dive but is caught with a modified suplex off the top rope. Angle avoids a chokeslam attempt and sneaks into a pinning position, putting his feet on the ropes for an underhanded victory. Entertaining match with no real lull moments.

    More Hardcore title shenanigans, The Hurricane getting caught in what seems like a women’s locker room with some of the Godfathers entourage. Some perfectly natural conversation before The Godfather runs The Hurricane off.

    WrestleMania 18: The Undertaker vs Ric Flair – No Disqualification

    A deeply personal feud between Undertaker and company co-owner Ric Flair. Undertaker had attacked Flair’s friend Arn Anderson and threatened his children in order to force Flair to accept the match. Flair’s actions in pursuing the Undertaker led to his position of ownership in the company coming under question, something that would lead to the splitting of the rosters a week after this show. Mr. McMahon had de this match No Disqualification in the build up to try and further punish Flair.
    They live up to the stipulation straight away, fighting out of the ring and over the announce table. They go back into the ring and back out again, Flair on top until an attempted dive to the outside goes wrong. Reference is made to Flair’s miraculous recovery from his 1975 broken back. It’s back and forth brawling action for the most part early on.

    The Undertaker gets referred to by his dumb ‘Booger Red’ nickname as he starts to take control of the match. Flair is bleeding. Taker is on top big time, punishing Flair with lots of strikes to the face, Flair showing plenty of fight to keep standing back up. A huge superplex from Undertaker to Flair, Taker pulling Flair up from the pinfall so he can continue the beating. He repeats this a few times. Taker could have had the match won a few times but keeps allowing Flair to stay alive with his arrogance. There are a couple of brief comebacks for Flair, Undertaker now actually going for pin attempts rather than pulling Flair up from them.

    They fight to the outside and Flair gets some measure of advantage by using a lead pipe. The Undertaker is now busted open as well. They fight onto the entryway and exchange some weapon shots, Flair getting his first extended run of offense since the opening flurry, proving he was still the ‘Dirtiest Player in the Game’ with a low blow. Some more back and forth before a beautifully executed run in and spinebuster from Arn Anderson gives Flair a close call.

    Anderson gets beaten up for his intervention. The distraction though gives Flair a chance to fight back with some chair shots. Undertaker finally manages to hit the ‘Tombstone Piledriver’ and picks up the win.

    A very fun brawl that moves Taker to 10-0 at WrestleMania. Given that Flair had apparently lost his confidence as a wrestler by this point, this match showed he still had plenty to give.

    WrestleMania 18: Edge vs Booker T

    It’s the feud about Shampoo. The two men had both been up for a Japanese endorsement but had also been feuding about how smart Booker T is. Booker’s pre match promo features him proving his intellect by incorrectly referring to ‘Einstein’s theory of relatives’. It’s Edge’s first WrestleMania as a singles wrestler, and Booker’s first in general. Edge gets the hometown reception (he’s from up the road). There’s a neat reference to Edge having been in attendance for Mania VI.

    An intense battle breaks out, belying the rather silly build up. Booker is on top early on, showing some nice athleticism, Edge’s comebacks are similarly strong. Commentary are regularly distracted from the action by talking about the stranger aspects of the build-up, which is a shame because the match is well executed back and forth action. Booker misses his axe kick but gets caught by Edge, who takes charge for a close pinfall himself. Edge misses a spear attempt and Booker takes advantage by going for a ‘spinaroonie’, following it up with an axe kick.

    Edge manages to hit his first spear of the match before doing his own ‘spinaroonie’. An ‘Edge-cution’ DDT from Edge and he wins. It’s a good match with generally entertaining action, hurt by the daft build and

    The Hurricane is backstage, but gets betrayed by his sidekick Mighty Molly who beats him for the Hardcore title and runs away.

    Stone Cold Steve Austin vs Scott Hall

    The New World Order’s original trio had been brought into the WWF by Mr. McMahon in order to kill the company but hadn’t accomplished that goal. Instead Scott Hall had got involved with costing Steve Austin title shots, leading to this match. It’s certainly a trip to see something so overtly WCW as the New World Order appear at WrestleMania. Kevin Nash appears as Hall’s ringside assistance.
    Austin attacks early, Hall not even getting the chance to take his jacket off for a while. When they first fight to the outside, Austin gets a shot in on Nash, but Hall takes over back in the ring. Nash sneakily exposes a turnbuckle which Hall takes advantage of. Hall then distracts the referee to allow Nash to get some shots in on the outside. This lets Hall get a good run in, controlling Austin with his size& power advantage, along with some more help from Nash on the outside.

    Hall shows some glimpses of his old Razor Ramon styling before Austin hits him with a surprise ‘Stunner’. Kevin Nash pulls the referee out and the NWO duo try to double team. Austin fights them off but can’t get a win with the referee still being down. Another referee flamboyantly slides into the ring but Nash takes him out immediately. A group of more referees appear to send Nash to the back, or at least in that direction. Hall hits Austin with his own ‘Stunner’ but Austin manages to kick out. Two straight ‘Stunners’ from Austin and he pins to win.

    Given that neither man were in their physical primes by this point, it’s a compelling match. It almost never comes up in discussions these days but as a match that pits two generational icons against each other it is hidden in the shadow of something later in the night.

    We get the customary look back at the Axxess events from the weekend, the typical mix of fans and wrestler comments. Some of it is more interesting that other bits but the glimpse of Hulk Hogan’s reaction is a preview of what would happen later in the night.

    WrestleMania 18: Billy & Chuck vs The APA (Bradshaw & Faarooq) vs The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von) vs The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff)
    Elimination match for the WWF Tag Team Championship

    No big tag team car crash, this match after two legendary triangle matches the previous two years. Instead, it’s four teams clashing in standard elimination fashion. The Dudley Boyz are accompanied by Stacy Keibler and soundtracked by Saliva. The Hardys are accompanied by Matt’s beanie hat, replacing Lita.

    The fight starts as soon as Billy & Chuck make it to the ring with Bradshaw of the APA on top. Only two men are legal at any time. There are plenty of changes in momentum even if it takes a while before either the Hardys or the Dudley Boyz get involved at all. A ‘3D’ from the Dudley Boyz and The APA are eliminated, before the Hardys even make it into match. The Dudley Boyz try to involved a table but don’t get to use it straight away. Lawler can’t stop mentioning Keibler. She tries to distract Jeff Hardy, who spanks her, kisses her and knocks her off the apron. Not a moment that has aged well.

    Bubba Ray beats up Jeff for the attack on Keibler but can’t quite put him away for a while. Billy & Chuck are now the team stuck on the outside for a while. It’s not all that interesting at this point, a bit slow and plodding after the hot start. A strange layout given that Billy & Chuck are still on the outside, it’s virtually all Dudley vs Hardy for an extensive portion. Chekov’s table finally gets used as Billy Gunn pushes D-Von through it, Bubba Ray getting pinned in the aftermath. We’re down to the Hardys and the Billy & Chuck, who are finally back in action.

    Thankfully the urgency ramps up a bit at this point. Matt Hardy gets taken out on the distraction and with Chuck distracting the referee, Billy hits Jeff with a title belt to let his partner pick up the win. Billy & Chuck retain. A mediocre, strangely laid out match that had too much of a lull in the middle. A let down given the talent involved.

    Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are backstage planning to attack The Rock during his match with Hogan. But Hogan has other ideas and asks them not to intervene, they don’t seem to be listening.
    Back to the Hardcore title picture. Mighty Molly is knocked down by a swinging door and Christian pins her to win.

    WrestleMania 18: The Rock vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan

    Icon vs Icon. Two era-defining stars. Hogan is back at WrestleMania for the first time since ending Mania IX as the champion. Things have got pretty personal between these two men but they probably could have just announced it, done no work, and still been the most anticipated match on the night. It’s a shame that it wasn’t the actual main event, from the moment Hogan steps out you can sense this is the real main event.

    Despite having been painted in the build as part of the villainous nWo, Hogan stills get a massive babyface reaction when he comes out. The Rock isn’t quite booed during his own entrance but there are people holding up a ‘thumbs down’ or flipping him off. Commentary try to suggest it’s a mixed reaction but from the first stare down it’s clear the crowd are right behind Hogan. Everything he does, every gesture or display of power, just ramps it up. What happens on from this isn’t a masterpiece of a match from a technical standpoint, but it is from a crowd manipulation one. The Rock almost instantly switches to his cockiest form. He mixes some cheap offense & cocky taunting with bouncing off Hogan and making Hogan look strong on offense.

    Layout wise it’s a lot more even and back & forth than Hogan’s matches in the 80s and early 90s usually were. In those days Hogan spent a lot of time getting beaten up before coming back out of nowhere, here they balance things in a more even handed, modern way. Hogan does all his own underhanded tactics as he used to, they get cheered as they always did.

    There’s a tease of someone going through the announce table before the referee gets taken out. The Rock goes for his always naff looking ‘Sharpshooter’ hold, Hogan reaching the ropes, and then tapping, but the referee is still down and doesn’t register either. Hogan hits a low blow and a ‘Rock Bottom’ but can’t get a pinfall before resorting to hitting Rock with his weight belt for a while. The Rock turns this round, even spitting on the belt before one swing. Hogan kicks out of a ‘Rock Bottom’ and Hulks up. He hits the big boot and the leg drop but Rock kicks out, the whole sequence playing out to a now rabid audience. Two straight ‘Rock Bottoms’ and a ‘People’s Elbow’ and The Rock wins.
    Post-match, the two men shake hands and The Rock leaves to allow Hogan  to receive the crowd’s acclaim. Hall & Nash run down and start to attack Hogan, marking the death of the original nWo trio. The Rock returns to help Hogan fight them off. Hogan then poses as he did in his prime, at The Rock’s insistence.

    A fascinating example of nostalgia taking over an entire stadium all at once. It’s not a technical marvel but it’s a great example of playing to the crowd and reacting to their reactions. The reaction Hogan got in this match almost certainly extended his career and led directly to the return of his ‘red and yellow’ look. He would also become the World Champion once again little over a month later.

    Thankfully there’s a bit of a break while we hear of another record setting attendance. Given that the WWF are known for being liberal with the truth with these figures, it is still classed as being the SkyDome’s highest attendance ever.

    WrestleMania 18: Jazz vs Trish Stratus vs Lita – WWF Women’s Championship

    Well, something had to follow Icon vs Icon. And it just so happens to finish the only WrestleMania match from Lita (until 2023 at least). It’s takes 15 seconds into the first entrance before Lawler makes a reference to someone’s appearance. Stratus comes out last to really soak in the hometown reception, Jazz and Lita are already fighting before she gets to the ring.

    Jazz is physically dominant. Lawler is sleazy. In other words, it’s classic women’s action of the era. Lita & Jazz work well together with Stratus down early on. Given the relative experience levels of the three everyone looks pretty good. Trish & Lita get some time to work with each other, another part of their career spanning rivalry.

    Lita goes for a double moonsault on both opponents but gets hit with Trish’s knees. There are some depressingly misogynistic chants from the crowd. A fisherman’s suplex from the top rope by Jazz on Lita and Jazz pins to retain the title. We cut straight away from the action.
    It’s a shame that these three worked primarily in an era with no respect for women’s wrestling, as they could have probably put something good together with more time, a better placing on the card, and commentary that treated them as real people and real wrestlers.

    Christian is backstage celebrating with his Hardcore Championship and looks to get in a taxi. Maven sneaks up on him and steals the taxi. Maven leaves WrestleMania the same way he came in, as Hardcore Champion.

    WrestleMania 18: Chris Jericho vs Triple H – Undisputed WWF Championship

    The title doesn’t always need to go on last. Drowning Pool plays Triple H to the ring, a bit weird in retrospect given how often the lyrics say, ‘here comes the pain’, a phrase that would soon be associated with Brock Lesnar (who debuted the following night).

    Jericho had reigned as the Undisputed Champion since Vengeance ended the Invasion angle with the two world championships being unified. Triple H had missed the entirety of that era with a quadriceps tear and had returned at the Royal Rumble, which he won to earn this match. Stephanie McMahon has also been involved, now at Jericho’s side instead of her kayfabe former husband’s. A strange era for Triple H and Stephanie, in between their kayfabe divorce and their real-life marriage.

    Triple H’s surgically repaired quad is the story of the match. He’s already feeling it regularly early on, even as he starts the match on top. It’s relatively slow paced, methodical action for the most part. Stephanie interjects herself to break up a Triple H ‘figure four’ but gets speared to the floor by accident by Jericho for her troubles. HHH tries to hit her with a ‘Pedigree’ but Jericho breaks it up and takes over in the match. Jericho goes for the ‘figure four’ himself, including around the ring post, resorting to shouting at the crowd to pull a reaction from them.

    It’s not really all that interesting. It feels ‘big’ but it’s slow and a bit of a forced epic. The crowd clearly peaked two matches earlier and only react to the bigger moments here. That engagement isn’t helped by the limb-focused, methodical style that HHH’s injury kind of mandates. Jericho manages to pick things up a bit by going for a call back to the match where that injury occurred, going for a ‘Walls of Jericho’ hold on the announce table. Triple H fights his way out and goes for a ‘Pedigree’ but Jericho back body drops him through the Spanish announce table.

    Jericho in control in the ring as Jim Ross claims this ‘could be the last time we see him in the ring’. A bit of hyperbole, especially knowing he had the best part of twenty years left in him. Jericho tries to involve a chair, but it backfires on him, with Stephanie inadvertently distracting the referee. Stephanie gets involved yet again and ends up getting the ‘Pedigree’ that was teased right at the start of the match. But Stephanie being down does let Jericho hit Triple H with a chair, there’s a kick out though. Finally Triple H hits the ‘Pedigree’ on Jericho and pins to win and become the World Champion yet again. The ending gets a good reaction from the crowd.

    They tried, and they worked really hard. Had this match been swapped with Hogan/Rock it would probably have worked a lot better. The crowd struggled to get excited but thankfully for the wrestlers, they managed by the finishing stretch.


    Another solid WrestleMania buoyed by a hot crowd and a couple of standout matches or moments. Chiefly the Hogan vs Rock match and the reactions both men got. The only really poor match was Maven/Goldust and that was more of a skit than anything else, one that set up a series of more skits through the show.

    The musical guests date the show immensely from a 2023 perspective. Both Saliva and Drowning Pool are still around today but neither holds much a place in the general publics consciousness. The main drawback to the show is the layout, it was naïve to think that anything could follow Hogan and The Rock. If that match and the World Title match were swapped around, it would be a stronger show on the whole. Jerry Lawler being on commentary also hurts any segment of the show where women are onscreen.

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