Joe Louis Arena – Detroit, Michigan – July 21, 2002
MATCH #1: Tables Match – Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs. Chris Benoit & Eddie Guerrero
Both opponents must be put through tables in order to win the match. Traditional tag team rules appear to apply otherwise. This is Benoit’s first pay-per-view match since King of the Ring 2001. Benoit and Guerrero control the action early on, working Bubba over. This goes on for quite a while and Guerrero sets up the first table, on the floor. Spike doesn’t want to be at a disadvantage, so he jumps off Bubba’s back and over the ropes to wipe Guerrero out on the floor. Benoit then throws Spike into the steps just to be a jerk. Back in the ring Bubba tries to fight back but he gets overwhelmed by the double-teaming. Spike recovers and prevents Bubba from going through a table, and moments later Bubba returns the favor. The referee loses control and all four men are brawling in the ring. The Dudleys 2.0 finally get some offense in. Bubba tries to senton Benoit through a table but he moves and Bubba crashes through the table. But since it wasn’t an offensive move, Bubba is still in the match. That makes sense. Guerrero and Spike battle on the apron, and Spike is able to hit the Dudley Dog through the table that Guerrero had set up himself! That looked nasty. Benoit quickly tries to setup another table in the ring, but instead just grabs Spike and hurls him over the top rope through another table on the floor! Moments later Bubba hits Benoit with a Bubba Bomb through a table to get the win at 14:59. That was way better than I remembered it! What a hot opening match with great action.
MATCH #2: Cruiserweight Championship Match – Jamie Noble vs. Billy Kidman
Kidman was a six-time Cruiserweight Champion at this point, while Noble is about a month into his first (and only) reign. The challenger is all over the champion from the get-go, causing him to powder out into the arms of Nidia. Kidman is on fire and Noble can’t gain any traction until Nidia interferes, allowing the champ to go to work on the arm. Back in the ring Kidman recovers and goes on offense but can’t put Noble away. Noble goes right back to work on the arm as these two keep up a relatively fast pace. The champ foolishly tries to powerbomb Kidman, but you know what they say. They battle up to the top rope and Kidman hits a Super Rydeen Bomb but it only gets two. Kidman goes for a Shooting Star Press but Noble avoids it and rolls Kidman up for a two-count. Noble follows up with the Tiger Driver to get the pin and retain the title at 7:34. I enjoyed that for the small amount of time they got.
MATCH #3: European Championship Match – Jeff Hardy vs. William Regal
Hardy won the title from Regal on Raw two weeks ago and then Regal cried. This is a pretty distinct clash of styles. Regal takes the early advantage and is aggressive in his attempts to become a five-time European Champion. Hardy fights back and knocks Regal to the floor, and then delivers a rana. He tries to run the guardrail and hit a cross body block but Regal avoids it. Back in the ring the challenger whips Hardy into the corner but gets hit with the Whisper in the Wind for his troubles. Hardy goes for the Swanton but Regal gets his knees up. Regal hits the Regalplex but it only gets two. He follows up with a backbreaker and a kick to the back. Hardy then gets a schoolboy rollup out of nowhere to get the pin and retain the title at 4:16. The next night on Raw Hardy would lose a unification ladder match to Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam and the European Title would never be heard from again. The match was basic Sunday Night Heat type stuff.
MATCH #4: John Cena vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho tries to attack Cena with a chair before the bell rings but that backfires and Jericho gets cracked with the chair instead. This is Cena’s pay-per-view debut and he’s looking to make the most of it, unloading on Jericho early. The wily old veteran Jericho makes the comeback and wears Cena down. Jericho goes up top but Cena knocks him down and hits a superplex for two. Cena continues on offense until Jericho cuts him off with a dropkick off the second rope. Jericho then jumps right into a belly-to-belly suplex for two. They trade counters back and forth but Jericho appears to have the upper hand after a Lionsault. He goes for the Walls of Jericho but Cena gets an inside cradle for the flash pin at 6:16. Cena was greener than grass but Jericho did his best and the results were pretty solid.
MATCH #5: Intercontinental Championship Match – Rob Van Dam vs. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar beat RVD in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament last month, so he already has a shot at the WWE Championship in his back pocket for SummerSlam. He’s accompanied by his agent Paul Heyman of course. This goes about as you would expect, with Lesnar using his power and RVD countering with his agility and quickness. The fight spills to the floor, where Lesnar catches RVD and powerslams him hard on the floor, much to Heyman’s delight. Back in the ring Lesnar controls for several minutes, and when RVD tries to make a comeback he quickly gets dumped to the floor again. Back in the ring Lesnar continues the assault but RVD fights back and hits Rolling Thunder for two. RVD hits a hard superkick and goes up top but Lesnar peels him right off the top and goes for the F-5 but the champion counters with a DDT! That was awesome. RVD then goes up and hits the Five-Star Frog Splash but Heyman pulls referee Charles Robinson to the floor for the DQ at 9:39. That was just getting good before the abrupt finish.
Robinson is angry and beats Heyman up to the delight of the crowd. RVD tries to set up for the Van Terminator but Heyman grabs his leg and Lesnar slams him to the mat. Lesnar then hits the F-5 on a steel chair.
MATCH #6: No Countout, No Disqualification Match – Booker T vs. Big Show
T goes right after his much larger opponent and gets thrown around. They tumble to the floor and T tries to use a steel chair but Show simply punches it out of the way and goes right back on the attack. Show accidentally runs himself into the ring post, allowing T to finally inflict some damage. They clear the Spanish announcers out of the way and T hits the Scissors Kick through the table! T makes his way back into the ring and waits. Show gets back in the ring and T avoids a Chokeslam with a low blow. T hits another Scissors Kick and goes up top for the Houston Hangover to get the pin at 6:12. That was perfectly serviceable given the participants.
Before the Tag Team Title match can happen, Triple H gets a segment to decide if he’s going to sign with Eric Bischoff and Raw or Stephanie McMahon and Smackdown. At first he seems to have his heart set on Smackdown, but then Shawn Michaels comes out and convinces him to join Raw instead.
MATCH #7: World Tag Team Championship Match – Hulk Hogan & Edge vs. Lance Storm & Christian
Edge and Hogan have been the champions since 7.4.02 and this is their second defense. Hogan and Christian start the match and Hogan hurls Christian right to the floor. Storm distracts Hogan from the apron but their advantage is short-lived. That’s pretty much true throughout the opening minutes of the match, as every time the challengers start building momentum they get cut off by the overwhelming fan favorites. Hogan isolates Christian and hits the Legdrop but Storm breaks up the cover and now the Un-Americans take heat on Hogan. After several minutes Edge gets the hot tag and he’s a house afire. The referee gets bumped and so no one is there to make the count when Edge hits Storm with the Edgecution. Test runs out and attacks Hogan, and then drills Edge with the Big Boot. Storm covers but only gets two! Rikishi makes his way out and chases Test to the back. Meanwhile Edge hits Storm with a Spear but the referee gets distracted by Christian and Hogan on the floor and doesn’t see Jericho hitting Edge in the face with one of the title belts and Storm gets the pin and the titles at 10:02. Edge and Hogan were a fun team and generally had fun matches together.
MATCH #8: Undisputed WWE Championship Match – Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle vs. The Rock
Undertaker has been the champion since 5.19.02 and this is his sixth defense. This was during his “I want to prove I’m a fighter” phase, which was when he was at his most annoying. Rock and Undertaker ignore Angle early on, but when he demands they pay attention to him they double team him right out of the ring. Rock and Undertaker fight until Rock throws him to the floor, and Angle throws him into the steps and goes into the ring to start throwing suplexes at Rock. They trade strikes and Angle throws another suplex. Rock comes back with a DDT for two. The battle spills to the floor and Undertaker knocks both of them down. Undertaker and Rock go back to the ring with the champion in control. Rock tries fighting back but Undertaker hits a side suplex. Rock fights up and hits a chokeslam for two when Angle breaks it up. Rock tries the Ankle Lock but Angle rolls out of it and hits a Rock Bottom. Undertaker breaks up that pin. He then hits an Olympic slam on Angle. Rock breaks that one up, of course. Angle gets tossed to the floor, and Rock hits the People’s Elbow on Undertaker. Angle pulls him out of the ring and slams him on the announce table. He goes in the ring to make a cover but the champion kicks out. The fight once again goes to the floor and Undertaker abuses Angle. Rock spits water in Undertaker’s face and brings him over to the table. Undertaker throws Rock on the table, and then goes over and bloodies Angle’s head. He brings the Olympian back into the ring and beats him up some more, hitting Old School. Rock breaks up that pin, and mocks Undertaker’s motorcycle riding. Undertaker fights back and goes for a chokeslam, but they instead play ping-pong with Angle’s head. The referee takes a shot and Angle takes that opportunity to nail Undertaker with a chair. He then hits the Rock Bottom on Rock. Unfortunately for him he can’t pin either man. Rock puts on the Sharpshooter, but that gets broken up. Undertaker hits the Last Ride on the Rock, but Angle pulls him off with the Ankle Lock. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride on Angle, who locks on that choke he was doing at the time. He tries to get the pin, but Angle is tenacious. Rock comes over and goes for the Rock Bottom, but Angle slips away and locks on the Ankle Lock. Rock rolls through and gets a victory roll for two. Angle then takes a chokeslam. Rock hits Undertaker with the Rock Bottom but the champ kicks out. Angle takes the straps down. It turns out to be a bummer for him though, as Rock hits the Rock Bottom to score the pin and win the title by pinning the guy who was not the champion at 19:35. That one annoyance about the finish aside, this was an awesome three-way match, with non-stop action and no contrived spots, just guys ripping off finishers left and right and a hot crowd to match.
BONUS MATCH: World Tag Team Championship Match – Billy & Chuck vs. Hulk Hogan & Edge, Smackdown, 7.4.02
Billy & Chuck have been the champions since 6.6.02, and this is their third defense. Hogan and Chuck start the match, and Hogan easily overpowers him. Chuck comes back with a series of right hands and a bodyslam. That doesn’t keep Hogan down for long, and he catches Chuck gloating and hits a series of punches and a clothesline. Hogan rakes his boot across Chuck’s face, which is “vintage Hogan.” So this has been going on at least seven years then. Edge and Billy are tagged in, and Edge hits the Edge-O-Matic for two. The champions cheat to gain an advantage and start working Edge over. The battle spills to the floor, where Rico accidentally superkicks Billy. That doesn’t keep Billy down for too long, as he bulldogs Edge off the apron into the steel steps. Back in the ring the champs keep wearing Edge down. Finally Edge makes the hot tag and the crowd loses it. He Hulks Up on both Billy and Chuck. He hits the big boot on Billy but when he goes for the leg drop Chuck comes in with a Jungle Kick. Hogan kicks out but the champions are double-teaming him now. No matter, Hogan clotheslines both of them and makes the tag to Edge. He comes off the top rope with a clothesline on both champions. He hits Chuck with the Edgecution, and then Rico trips him up. Hogan takes care of that little problem. Billy tries the Fame-Ass-Er on Edge but he avoids it and hits a Spear. Hogan is back in now and he and Edge hit a double big boot on Chuck. Edge hits a Leg Drop, Hogan hits one too, and Edge makes the pin at 10:03. That was Hogan’s first major World Tag Team Championship victory. I know there are many Hogan haters out there but this was the absolute best way to use him and this match was super fun.