Tybo Talks… 15 Years Ago – SummerSlam 2002

Welcome to the eighth instalment of Tybo Talks… 15 Years Ago – SummerSlam 2002 With the ease of access to pretty much all of WWE’s back catalogue on the WWE […]

Welcome to the eighth instalment of Tybo Talks… 15 Years Ago – SummerSlam 2002

With the ease of access to pretty much all of WWE’s back catalogue on the WWE Network I thought it would be cool to change it up a bit and do some classic reviews (with a twist). So, where better to start than 15 years ago. The plan is to review every PPV of 2002, while watching all Raw and Smackdown episodes in between.

Let’s get the stats out the way first, Summer Slam 2002 was held on August 25th at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. In front of 14,797 fans. This was the fifteenth annual Summer Slam PPV in history.

Now before I go any further, I’m not really going to explain the matches move for move. No one needs that, the PPV is on the WWE Network. This is going to be my thoughts on the booking and general thoughts about the matches and the event.

The first thing I noticed about Summer Slam is that there is not real stage, there is not ramp and nothing special. On first impressions, this really doesn’t feel like one of ‘the big four’ PPV’s of the year.

Kurt Angle vs Ray Mysterio – This match is a perfect opener for the show, its fast paced and starts very quickly. The match came about because (as you would expect in attitude era WWE) Angle wasn’t happy about being beat by a ’12-year-old’. The story leading in is that Mysterio is in Angle’s head, this is built on with the addition of a lot of the crowd wearing Ray lucha masks. This is a good match and sets a great tone for the show. There also has to be an honourable mention for Angle’s white and red striped ‘pyjamas’ style singlet. Winner – Kurt Angle

Backstage – Eric Bischoff and Steph McMahon are sharing an office, the dynamic between the two is amazing. You couldn’t ask for two better GM Characters.

Chris Jericho vs Ric Flair – Both Flair and Jericho have been attacking each other for weeks, backstage, during matches, Jericho even performed with his band Fozzy on Raw and Flair crashed the performance. It would of been interesting to see what Flair and Austin was meant to do before Austin ‘took his ball home’, but this has built into a solid rivalry between the two. Shockingly, this is Flair’s first Summer Slam and at this point he is 52, That means that Flair made his pro-wrestling debut when Jericho was 2-years-old.

Flair’s age does not hold him back, he proves in this match that he still has it. The match is a rough one, very hard hitting. It creates a great dynamic that although Flair is the face, he is still the ‘dirtiest player in the game’ and Jericho is such a dirty worker when he is a heel. It’s great to watch. Winner – Chris Jericho

Backstage – Paul Heyman is doing what he does best, getting Lesnar pumped for the biggest match of his career.

Eddie Guerrero vs Edge – This match is set to be amazing, I have said this almost every month that Edge is great in 2002. He has great feuds, great matches, and gets better every week. As for Guerrero, well Eddie is Eddie. This match is built on Guerrero’s jealousy, this is the beginning of a feud and they will build on this match going forward. Guerrero does some perfect heel work and works Edge’s shoulder a lot, classic heel vs face, with the heel working all the offence on one body part. It’s sad to think that if things were different, a few years after this Eddie and Edge could have re-ignited this rivalry and had a career defining feud for the WWE Championship. Winner – Edge

Backstage – The Un-Americans are being interviewed, they basically say they ‘hate America’. The Un-Americans now have a shirt with an upside down American flag (this is the universal symbol of the country in distress) Who would even buy this?

Tag Team Championship – Un-Americans (Christian & Lance Storm) (C) vs Booker T & Goldust –  There is no doubt that the Un-Americans heat is real, it’s the cheapest sort of heat but it works. I have always thought that the pairing of Booker and Goldust was a strange one but it really works, they both bounce off each other so well it’s hard not to like them as a team. I think it really helps that Booker T is a former 11-time Tag Team Champion.

The reason for this match is as basic as it gets, Un-American hate America/Americans, Booker and Goldust are American, that’s about it. The match is a good all-round match. Christina and Storm are solid heels, and after a knocked-out referee, Test (also Un-American) interferes. Winners – Un-Americans

The World – (formerly WWF New York) Jamie Noble and Nidia are holding a ‘Make-Out Contest ‘. The winner gets to make-out with Nidia. Welcome to the Attitude Era folks.

Intercontinental Championship – Chris Benoit (C) vs Rob Van Dam – This is the first really ‘inter-promotional’ match since the draft. RVD is on Raw, and Benoit recently won the Intercontinental Championship and jumped to Smackdown with it. The story is that RVD was never meant to get a re-match, as Steph was going to shred the contract so the championship could never go back to Raw. Then Stacy Keibler defected from Raw to Smackdown and took the contact with her.

One of the hardest things in 2002 is to watch a Benoit match with the same love for his talents, but pushing all that to the side this is a classic high-flyer vs technical specialist. This is a far slower paced match, not just for RVD but for the PPV in general. The match wasn’t bad, but the finish seemed to come out of nowhere. In the end, its RVD taking the Championship back to Raw. Winner – Rob Van Dam

Backstage – Bischoff is gloating hard to Steph about the Intercontinental Championship being back on Raw, Steph just laughs it off. Looks like there is a plan going down tonight.

Test vs The Undertaker – This is a massive step up for Test, although he is not really feuding with The Undertaker, its more the Un-Americans vs Americans. There is no-one more American than ‘The American Badass’. The only odd thing about this match is that Taker is clearly still a heel, but he is without a doubt a face on this PPV.

Undertaker has been taking on rookies lately, not that I would consider Test a rookie but he is still yet to break through to the main event. Rookie or not, Taker knows how to make someone look good in the ring with him. As you would expect Undertaker ends up brawling with all the Un-Americans, and as you would expect he beats them all and still wins. Winner – The Undertaker

None Sanctioned Match – Triple H vs Shawn Michaels – it’s important to mention that Shawn Michaels has not wrestled in 1609 days. This all came about after Triple H had to choose whether to go to Raw or Smackdown, he chose Raw because that’s where Michaels was. It was clear at this point that d-Generation X would be making a return. In a huge twist in the road, Triple H Pedigreed Michaels. I remember hating Triple H as a 15-year-old, because I was a huge DX mark. It was then that HBK’s head went through a car window, this looked particularly brutal, even re-watching it now. Triple H went looking for who did it, accusing everyone, when all along it was him who did the deed.

This has been one of the best rivalries on Raw, I would love to know what the original plan was meant to be before the NWO was disbanded and Kevin Nash was injured. Was Triple H meant to join the NWO?

The match itself is exactly what you would imagine it to be, it’s a brutal and rough fight between two best friends who give everything they must to make the other one look as great as they can. This is a perfect example of the adage that you fight harder with your friends or family. Triple H is a hardcore match specialist, he really knows how to incorporate foreign objects and still can tell a great story. Both guys use literally every weapon you can think of, chairs, belts, hammers, ladders, tables, HBK even uses Hugo’s shoe.

This match was amazing, it was emotional and told a great story. Jim ‘JR’ Ross also deserves a mention because his commentary pushes this match to a whole new level. Winner – Shawn Michaels

Although he wins, Michaels takes a huge sledge hammer shot to the back and is stretchered off.

Undisputed Championship – The Rock (C) vs Brock Lesnar – It’s hard to believe that 2002 was Lesnar’s first year in WWE, in fact this was only five months into his first year and he is facing The Rock for the Undisputed Championship. I think Lesnar is the fastest rising rookie (to that date) since Kurt Angle debuted. Brock won the King of the Ring to get this opportunity, this was the last time you could argue the King of the Ring actually meant something (although a case could be made for King Booker). The winner would get a title shot at Summer Slam, and Lesnar tore a war path through that tournament to the to The Rock’s Championship.

The match itself started quick, with a lot of power moves from both guys. Lesnar absolutely owns The Rock, even 15 years ago Lesnar 100% belonged in the main event, I could never see him kicking it in the mid-card fighting for the Intercontinental Championship on a long-term basis. In a strange turn, Rock puts Lesnar in the sharpshooter and the crowd starts chanting ‘Let’s go Lesnar’ I was not expecting this to happen.

After the brawl spills outside, and Paul Heyman takes possibly the ugliest Rock Bottom I have ever seen through the announce table, the match ends a lot sooner than I thought it would. That being said it was a sharp, distinctive and undisputable finish. Winner and New Champion – Brock Lesnar

In 2002, The Rock held the record for being the youngest ever WWE Champion, when Brock Lesnar beat him he also took that record as he was only 25 years old.

Overall – Although this was a good PPV it really didn’t feel like one of the ‘Big Four’. It didn’t feel special, there was no ramp, no real staging, and most of the matches didn’t have vignettes to get you excited for the match or even an opening one to get you excited for the PPV. There were some solid matches, Kurt Angle vs Ray Mysterio was a great opener to set the pace. Triple H vs Shawn Michaels was easily the match of the night, the emotion and the story they told with the help of JR’s commentary was truly amazing. There is also no doubt that Brock Lesnar walking out as the Undisputed Champion was the shock of the year.

2002 PPV Ranking

  1. Wrestlemania X8 – 4.5
  2. Vengeance – 4.5
  3. Royal Rumble – 3.5
  4. Summer Slam – 3
  5. No Way Out – 3
  6. Judgement Day – 3
  7. King of the Ring 2002 – 3.5
  8. Backlash – 2.5