The Spotlight on the Survivor Series Pt. 4- 2002

2002 has to be the most under rated year for WWE, you had the debuts of John Cena, Randy Orton and Brock Lesnar, you had the in ring returns of Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels and you had one of the most impressive mid cards ever to take place in the WWE. 2002 was also a year in which I attended my first live WWE pay per view when a buddy and myself went to the SummerSlam 2002 at the Nassau Colliseum (which you can read my recap of in the August archives) I’d say it was the year that I also got really into live pay per views because to me there was nothing like a live pay per view. It was just such a great atmosphere. Thus, when I turned 16 that October I was pleasantly surprised when my parents got me two tickets to the 2002 Survivor Series! This would be my first pay per view ever to come live from Madison Square Garden and to say I was excited was the ultimate understatement. The only question left was who I would take with me to the show. I was heavily involved in my own basement wrestling federation (sad I know) at the time and I already had a blast at SummerSlam with my buddy jimmy but I was suddenly now torn over a few buddies who wanted to come with. After much deliberation, I asked my father to come with me. My father’s interest in wrestling had started to wane but he had taken me to my very first wrestling show at Madison Square Garden so I thought he’d be the perfect person to attend my first pay per view at the garden with.

What was also cool about that birthday was that I had also got an autograph ticket from my family to meet Shawn Michaels in Howard Beach at Video Game Central the night before the Survivor Series. This time my mom was coming with as Shawn was always her favorite wrestler. This was Shawn’s first title match since his return to WWE at summerslam of that year and, to me anyway, he was the focal point of that event. It was crazy to have Shawn at this autograph signing only 30 minutes from my house and was one of the truly starstruck moments of my life. I remember it was pouring rain and blistering cold out in the November New York weather. Despite this and despite my mother just getting out of surgery, my mother stayed on that line with me and my buddy for three hours to meet Shawn.  Ever the professional, I distinctly remember Shawn telling me after I wished him luck, “Thanks bud, many think I’m nuts to compete in such a big match and honestly I don’t know how many more of these I have in me.”  He went on to wrestle for another 7+ years.

As for the event itself, I remember that this was the first show I had attended at the Garden since 9/11 the year before and the security was insane.  I had to remove my hat, people were being asked randomly to remove their shoes and my dad was asked to remove his cell phone and flip it open (remember flip phones?) for some reason.  It took forever to file into the Garden that night, but once we finally did get in, it was sure worth it. The guys at Busted Open Radio (which airs 2-4pm Monday, Tuesday and Friday on Sirius/XM 92) actually did a live tweeting of this show last year and it reminded me of what a great show this was, despite the fact that there weren’t any traditional survivor series matches on the show.

From the beginning, the crowd was in an absolute frenzy as Jeff Hardy did one of his famous swanton bombs off the rafters through a table and then later in the same match the Dudleys reunited to great fanfare.

One of the other big things about this show was the debut of Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner who debuted for the company that night following the expiring of his contract from WCW (18 months after WCW closed it’s doors I might add).  I know that Scott’s WWE career as Big Poppa Pump didn’t really go anywhere but go back and watch this debut, he was over huge.  Surrounding that debut was also a lot of fun I remember going nuts because I was a huge Matt Hardy fan (always one of my favorites to this day) and I also loved the RNN News skits which featured Randy Orton promoting his return, he was so good even at 22 years old.

From here ya can’t talk about this show without talking about the Smackdown Six.  This was the peak of the smackdown six,to me, which featured Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, Edge, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero.  This, in my opinion was the peak of the WWE midcard in any era and it breaks my heart to think two of the six have tragically passed and 5 of the 6 have mostly retired at this point.

If there was one man in WWE in 2002 that defined the year, it’d perhaps be the same man who’s synonymous with WWE in 2015…Brock Lesnar.  I remember the Garden crowd being so into Brock and at the time he was the WWE champion and still undefeated.  This obviously was the night in which he lost due to Paul Heyman turning on Brock.  That turn stunned the crowd and I remember after Brock hit the F5 people started celebrating thinking it was over only to have Paul yank the referee. To this day, it still amazes me whenever Brock lifts the Big Show with such ease.

In the end, I remember being really excited for the Elimination Chamber as it was the first Chamber match in history on this show and look at the six men in the match.  A who’s who of hall of fame level talent in Triple H, Shawn Michaels, Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T and RVD.  This was the match in which RVD landed a five star frog splash and crushed Triple H’s larynx.  I also remember, other than Shawn, Booker T may have been the most over man in the match.  My father and I had a great time doing the “5 Time!” routine in the crowd with our entire section.  In the end, Shawn Michaels (proving to me he was in fact playing me the night before, which I couldn’t be happier about) won what would end up being his final world title in WWE.  As the confetti rained down on Shawn it was probably the best live moment for me as a fan until I was live for Wrestlemania 30.

All in all just a great and enjoyable show from top to bottom that more than holds up today as so much happened on that show it’s unbelievable to even think.  The show for me is memorable as it was the last show I attended live with my dad who’s interest in the product had really fell off then so it was the end of a 16 year era but what a finale we had.  That’s gonna do it for my journey through Survivor Series 2002, next up we’ll time travel nine years in looking back at survivor series 2011.

The Spotlight On Raw- 11/16/2015

Last Night WWE Raw emanated live from Greenville, SC and it was quite the newsworthy show to say the least.  Most people will probably remember this Raw for the final segment involving Paige and Charlotte as it was probably the most controversial segment in WWE, I’d say, since CM Punk faked the heart attack to mock Jerry Lawler back in 2013.  We’re going to get into that and a whole lot more in the highlights section below so let’s get right into it.

Highlights:

Divas Get The Spotlight: So I’m not going to sit here and tell you that I was a fan of Reid Flair’s death being brought into the storylines because I’m never a fan of that stuff, it’s pretty tasteless.  What happened to Reid was a real tragedy and I don’t think any one needs to be reminded of something like that while watching an episode of Raw.  That said, I’m sure that WWE got the blessing from both Charlotte and Ric to go ahead with the storyline and I’d think that Ric is old school in the belief that nothing is off limits in wrestling (much like comedy).  The main part of this that I do want to focus on, because we try to bring you the positive, is that WWE made a concerted effort to focus on the Divas last night.  They showed highlights of the Paige and Charlotte feud throughout the night and really made their contract signing at the end of the night feel like a big deal.  As for the contract signing itself, it was great to see the Divas get the final segment on Raw for the first time in over a year (I believe Stephanie McMahon and Brie Bella got that segment in August of 2014).  I also liked the fire and intensity of the brawl that the two had around the ring.  If nothing else, you really believed that Charlotte wanted to kill Paige at the end of the show and I’m more excited for their match now then I was prior to Raw.

Tournament Matches Deliver:  Usually I give you that one match to go out of your way to watch but this week I had a hard time doing that because I really enjoyed each one of the tournament matches.  Each one of the matches went over 10 minutes and were split up into two segments.  I liked that it seemed like each superstar in the matches was giving it their all as it made the World Title really feel like “the richest prize in the sport”.  Roman Reigns and Cesaro had an unbelievable match that saw so many reversals and nearfalls and while you figured Roman was probably going to win, they had to have made you feel that at least for a second that Cesaro had him.   Right behind that I thought that Kevin Owens and Neville tore the house down and I’ll tell you this, say what you will about Kevin Owens’ weight but he hung in their with Neville move for move and never looked even a step behind.  I also really enjoyed the Ambrose-Ziggler match and thought it was great to see Ambrose get to cut a promo after the match about what he would do if he won the title (he remains my choice to take the whole thing).  Lastly, while it was never in doubt that Del Rio was going to win, I liked that they gave Kalisto a couple of near falls.  Every tournament needs a fun cinderella underdog to get behind (Crash Holly in 2000!) and Kalisto played that role real well. It was interesting to see that Sin Cara was nowhere to be found tonight and left me wondering if perhaps, they’re going to give Kalisto a shot as single.

The Druids Rise:  I don’t have too much to say about the actual angle between the Wyatts and Brothers of Destruction but I loved the way that Raw kicked off with that classic Undertaker entrance with the druids and both Kane and Undertaker coming to the ring to kick off Raw. It was cool to see Undertaker giving a classic promo and I’m not too sure how many more times we’re going to get to see that entrance, so I’m enjoying it while I can.

Class:  I usually limit this piece to three highlights but I have to give WWE a bit of a kudos for paying respect to the horrible tragedy that happened in Paris this past week.  WWE always handles these things with the utmost class and it was nice to see all of the superstars and divas on entrance ramp to start Raw and paying their respects to the victims of these heinous attacks.

Well that is going to do it for me right now but I will be back a whole lot more wrestling content throughout the week as we continue to countdown to the Survivor Series on Sunday.  I’ll be taking a look at each one of the different Undertaker Specials that are currently on the WWE Network as a part of Undertaker week as well as also continuing to go through my Survivor Series Retrospective, looking at each one of the different Survivor Series events of the past year.  Stay tuned for all of that and be sure to give us a follow over on our twitter @daily_spotlight.