October 26, 2002

The first ever Smackdown only PPV, which predates RAW and Smackdown getting their own PPV shows by a good seven months, gets dropped right in the middle of Smackdown’s hot streak when it featured tons of great wrestling.

Funaki . . . in his capacity as the Smackdown #1 announcer outclasses John Cena in every way possible.

Los Guerreros . . . do what they do best in their attempt to win the WWE Tag Titles, Cheat 2 Win!

Edge . . . has his first ever shot at the WWE Heavyweight Title and he makes it count!


I’ll give the fans credit for being excited by the match, because there wasn’t much to really be excited about. Aside from the opening moments where they try to psych out each other with the knuckle lock, and some good near falls toward the end (if one ignores that Book blows off the Twist of Fate to hit the Bookend), there’s not a whole lot to see in the nine-minutes that comprise the middle of this match. There’s an All Japan-ish surfboard sequence, but nobody is going to be mistaking these two for Misawa and Kawada. Matt’s missed legdrop is a nice lead-in to Book trying to put him away with the Missile dropkick to kick off the final stretch. But it’s frustrating to see Book put over the Twist of Fate so well for the near fall, and then completely ignore it so he can counter Matt and do the scissors kick to finish him off. There have been times that these two clearly show how good they can be, but a match against one another doesn’t seem to be one of those cases.


This was long before Cena was any good in the ring, and shortly before he had any notable personality. Hell, his ring gear is one or two steps above what the New Japan young boys wear for jerking the curtain. Fortunately this is short, Kidman and Cena get a minute or so to settle their score, the divas get some time for their feud. There’s the tease of a Man vs. Woman showdown before Kidman saves Torrie and then they go right to the finish from there. The only remarkable thing is Torrie and Dawn actually making half decent contact on a few occasions. Torrie’s dropkick actually looked good enough to believably pin Dawn, and Dawn’s kick to the stomach looked good. The same can’t be said of Kidman and Cena, Cena is as bland as can be and Kidman’s finishing SSP was more like a shooting star headbutt.


As if Cena and Kidman didn’t look bad enough, these two totally smoke them for smooth work and strikes making decent contact. Funaki’s punt to Crash’s face when Crash mocks him almost seems like a fluke shot, until Funaki continues with punches that are just as good. There really isn’t much more from Crash other than the lariat to turn the tide, but he seemed fine with letting Funaki show off his stuff. There’s a nice victory roll counter and reversal sequence, and Funaki’s use of La Magistral that pins Crash is unique for WWE. On the whole it’s much better than you’d expect from two Cruiserweights who are at the bottom of the totem pole. It’d be nice to see what they could do with more time to work, but this is rather fun on its own.

JAMIE NOBLE © vs. TAJIRI vs. REY MYSTERIO (WWE Cruiserweight Title)

The beginning of this, up to Tajiri’s elimination, isn’t too bad. It’s mostly Tajiri doing his usual stuff, which always makes for a good show. The elimination itself is somewhat smart, Tajiri gears up for the buzzsaw kick to Noble and then changes his mind and gives Rey a back kick. Noble takes advantage of the momentary distraction to hit his powerbomb and eliminate Tajiri. It’s the Noble/Rey portion that really drags this down. Noble isn’t bad while he’s working over Rey’s arm, although nobody is going to mistake him for Eddie, Danielson, TAKA, or any other high-end junior heel/rudo while working over a limb. The problem is that Rey rarely does anything to show how it’s slowing him down or keeping him from winning. The only time the arm is genuinely preventing him from doing anything is when he hits the DDT and doesn’t cover right away, but other than that one instance, he has no problem doing what he likes.

Granted, the fans only really seem to care about seeing Rey fly, so it’s hard to fault Rey for giving them what they want. But there’s no reason for him to just ignore Noble spending an extended amount of time working the arm over. When it could easily be used to explain Rey not being able to hit his stuff as cleanly as usual or why he can’t cover right away. They also seem to forget where they were going after Nidia thwarts Rey’s 619 attempt. The powerbomb near fall was fine, playing off Tajiri’s elimination, but the cradle with Nidia’s assistance looks tacked on, like they weren’t sure what to do and did the first thing that came to mind.


If this had another five minutes or so for Simmons and D-Von to work a proper heat segment and build up to Val’s hot tag to Palumbo, then this might have at least been decent. But this is too rushed to really accomplish anything other than reminding fans that these guys are all still on the roster. It doesn’t help that D-Von and Simmons each only use one move each, and they fill the rest of the match with generic brawling and the cradle with tights that D-Von pins Palumbo with. Of course, giving them another five would have doubled the match length, and that’s probably too much time to give to three guys in transition with their gimmicks and teams, and another who was beyond lost in the shuffle.

RIKISHI vs. ALBERT (Kiss My Ass Match)

Well, this about as good as can be expected from this pairing. There’s lots of punching and kicking from Albert and a long chinlock to kill some time. The good thing to see was their use of Albert exposing the turnbuckle and getting a good near fall from it. That also winds up leading to his undoing when Rikishi uses it on him and then hits the Banzai drop for the win. The shenanigans involving Albert’s refusal to comply with the stipulation, and Rikishi dancing with the announcers are almost as long as the match was, and it was about as entertaining.


It’s just another day at the office and another great match from these four. The main storyline here is the Angle/Benoit dissension, but the really fun thing is how it’s teased. It’s not just the typical arguing and shoving, although that does happen as well, but they show it in other ways as well. The most fun of these is how Benoit tries to outdo Angle. Early on, Angle easily handles Chavo and goes over to gloat to Benoit, but Benoit tags himself in and shows that he can also handle Chavo. A bit later Angle plants Eddie with a German suplex and Benoit hits the ring and gives one to Chavo. It’s not until Eddie escapes the Angle slam and shoves Angle into Benoit (also taking out the ref) that things start to boil over.

However, just as important as the friction between the champions is the fact that Eddie and Chavo aren’t afraid to do whatever it takes to take the titles, i.e., Cheat 2 Win. Once the match settles down into Los Guerreros’ extended control segment on Benoit is when that starts to take shape, they’re always right there to bait Angle into the ring and to quickly halt any sort of comeback that Benoit might try to make. An especially great one comes just after Benoit catches Eddie by surprise with the big powerbomb, but before he can even think of doing anything, Chavo hits him from behind to keep him down. As the match is winding down, Angle has Eddie tapping out to the ankle lock with no ref and Chavo uses the belt to save Eddie and try to steal the win that way. Fittingly enough, that’s what leads to their undoing when Benoit gives them a taste of their own medicine by shoving Chavo off the top and snapping Eddie’s neck over the rope to allow Angle to hit the Angle Slam to retain the titles.

As expected, this pairing allows for a plethora of especially good and/or smart moments. The one that sticks out the most for me is Benoit’s hot tag, Benoit had countered Chavo and hooked on the Crossface, and Eddie climbed up top to give Benoit the frog splash to break the hold, but Benoit knew he was coming and let the hold go so Chavo got the brunt of it. There are some great near falls toward the end from Chavo’s belt shot, and Eddie hitting the frog splash after he’d blocked Angle’s attempt and the super belly to belly. The only thing that was really missing here, with this being one of the few successful title defenses out of Angle and Benoit, was some kind of moment where Angle saved Benoit or vice versa from some dastardly act by Los Guerreros to show that they were finally putting their differences aside. For as often as these two teams were wrestling each other, along with the Edge/Mysterio team being thrown into the mix, it wasn’t nearly enough. ****


This is like Sting vs. Vader if Sting had better counters and offense and if Vader was even more willing to bump and sell for Sting. Brock’s reaction to Edge’s early counters and near falls are great. Edge wasn’t even doing real damage, it was mostly cradle counters when Brock was trying to pick him up for a slam or suplex, not to mention that very few are adept on the mat as Brock, and Edge isn’t among those few. There’s little to no chance of Edge beating him that way, but you’d think Brock was an eyelash away from losing the title. When Brock is even better when Edge starts actually getting in offense, he goes soaring over the top from Edge’s lariat and his selling when he goes into the post is great. Brock’s great performance is also an example of one of the pitfalls of the WWE, the fact that the finisher almost always ends the match, unless there’s some kind of angle or the heel cheats. It’s all over this show, only D-Von and Noble didn’t use their finishing moves to win, they both used cradles with some kind of assist. So it’s all the more great to see Brock giving great near falls to Edge after things like the missile dropkick, facebuster, and Edge-o-matic, because nobody would ever believe that Edge would win any match, let alone the biggest match of his career up to this point, with one of those moves, unless they somehow involved a chair. When Edge finally starts hitting things that people buy as potential finishers you can hear the difference, his F-5 to Edgecution counter is one of the best spots of the match, and although it wasn’t as clean as it could have been, the spear to Lesnar while he had the chair was also very nice.

Another drawback to this is Brock’s control segment on Edge. It’s fine when Brock is using his size and power to bump Edge around, but his choice of holds is rather poor. The idea of working over Edge’s midsection is great, especially when it comes back later and gives him the opening for the F-5, but his holds were rather dull to watch. A grounded bear hug is unique, and props to Tazz for trying to explain the intricacies on why it’s so effective, but watching it is a bore. Given Brock’s size, a regular bear hug would have been just as effective and would have the bonus of Brock being able to shake Edge around like a rag doll. Also, given Brock’s amateur background, there were several holds he could use to tie Edge in knots that would look more pleasing.

The other thing that holds this back was Heyman being involved, despite Brock doing all he could to make Edge look like he was about to dethrone him, the announcers were making it sound like Edge’s only way of winning the title was by pinning Heyman. Considering Heyman isn’t much more than comic relief here, he only shows up to take a few bumps from Edge and to give Edge one near fall, compared with the half a dozen or so that he gets from Brock. This would have been just as well to be simply Brock vs. Edge. Some would complain about the use of the chair, but it’s not a huge deal in the long run. Brock uses the F-5 to win. The chair shot to the ribs simply gives him the chance to use the F-5. Edge had already countered it once, so it’s not a stretch for Brock to resort to a little help to hit the move. It’s too bad that both Edge and Brock were on the verge of getting hurt, because this looked like it could have made a great long term program for after Brock was done with Big Show and Edge was done with the tag title feud. ***1/2

Conclusion: There’s a reason that Smackdown was considered must see stuff around this time, and that reason is in the last two title matches, as well as the shockingly good Funaki/Crash match. The rest is mostly skippable, but I don’t think anyone is going to be picking this up for Rikishi/Albert or to see Cena/Kidman embarrass themselves.