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The Next Big King...
June 23, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Friday's PPV preview headline posed the question "The Next Big King?"... and after the just-completed King of the Ring pay-per-view, the headline can stay the same, just with a minor change of punctuation.  Remove the question mark, because "The Next Big Thing" Brock Lesnar is, indeed, the 2002 King of the Ring.

As part of the prize package that goes with the crown, Lesnar also got himself a SummerSlam title shot.  And if the current situation holds, that would mean Lesnar would face the Undertaker at SS.  Taker -- in what is probably a bit of a surprise to most -- defeated Triple H in the night's main event to maintain the WWE Undisputed Title.

Of course, the main event included enough extracurriculars that it is far from a given that Taker will make it to August's SummerSlam with the title in tow.  The Rock was integral to the finish of the PPV, and HHH seemed to take a pro-nWo stance during a pre-match vignette.  So there are tons of possibilities here.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves....  for now, let's just get caught up on the full segment-by-segment results of tonight's WWE King of the Ring PPV: 

  • Before the PPV on Heat, the Hardy Boyz defeated Raven and Steven Richards when Jeff pinned Richards.  Typical TV match, with the storyline being that Raven gave up on Richards as a partner (no doubt waiting till he can score Taker as a partner against the Hardys), leaving Big Stevie as easy prey for the Hardys. 
  • The PPV opened with a video package highlighting past Kings of the Ring.  Those named included Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Steve Austin, HHH, and Kurt Angle.  Others -- for reasons I can't fathom -- were omitted. 

  • And then it was almost immediately to action, as Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho kicked things off in grand style.  They scored about 15 minutes in this contest, and made pretty good use of it.  They seemed to split the offense about evenly, though Van Dam was holding moves back, it seemed (no doubt so he could spring them in the final match).  RVD got out of the Walls of Jericho, and then quickly managed to hit a 5 Star Frog Splash to get the pinfall win.  After the match, RVD was being interviewed by Jerry Lawler when a pissy Jericho attacked and left him lying following a re-application of the Walls.
  • The other semi-final was a bit less exciting, as Brock Lesnar pinned Test following his as-yet-unnamed variation on the TKO.  For a big man/power match, this actually was OK... but for me the drama was lacking since there was no way in hell Lesnar wasn't going over.
  • In a backstage segment, the RAW lockerroom was happy about the all-RAW KotR final match, though Bubba Dudley promised that since he wasn't involved he'd find some other way to make an impact tonight.  The SD! lockerroom wasn't interviewed because Lance Storm and Christian commandeered Mark Loyd and cut another pro-Canada, anti-America promo following the pair of losses by their Canuck brothers in the opening matches.
  • Jamie Knoble beat the Hurricane to become the new Cruiserweight Champion.  Those familiar with the nonstop, trainwreck style matches these two participated in while a part of the Jung Dragons and Three Count (respectively) might have been a bit disappointed in this contest...  the pace was a bit slower, and there did seem to be a few missed spots.  But still, on the whole, an enjoyable match.  Nidia, as you might expect, was very involved throughout, and was a crucial part of the finish:  after a powerbomb near the ropes, Hurricane put his foot on the ropes to break the pinfall count, but Nidia knocked it off before the ref could spot it.  The three count went down unabated, and Knoble was crowned the new champ of the cruisers.
  • Ric Flair managed to eek out a win over Eddie Guerrero, thanks mostly to Bubba Dudley making good on his promise to be an impactful part of the PPV.  I don't know if it was just my expectations or what, but this actually came off a lot more flat and bland than I'd have hoped for.  Actionwise, it seemed every other move was a knife-edge chop, and for the most part, the match seemed to lack the kind of crowd heat that can help create some sizzle.  The finish had the ref distracted by Chris Benoit outside the ring (Benoit was being ejected after slapping the Crippler Crossface on Flair), allowing Bubba Ray to come into the ring and level Eddie with the Bubba Bomb.  Flair crawled back into the ring and placed an arm over Eddie for the pinfall.  The finish opens up some interesting doors, but the match itself fell short of what I'd expected.
  • Molly Holly beat Trish Stratus to win the Women's Title.  Pretty much a typical women's division, circa 2002, match insofar as it was not necessarily as tight or as long as you'd want in a match you could label "good," but which was far from the really sloppy and bad women's matches that were standard for so long.  Molly used a roll-up with a handful of tight to secure her win.
  • Kurt Angle made Hulk Hogan tap out to secure a surprising win.  Factoring in crowd heat and drama and all that jazz, this may well have been the most entertaining match of the night, even though it featured Hogan and his limited in-ring arsenal.  Hogan's hot start faded fast, and then we got an extended sequence of Angle in control.  Of course, that was all just to set up Hogan's "hulk up," which instead of culminating with a leg drop and pinfall win, culminated in Hogan removing Angle's awful wig.  With his toupee removed, Angle thought about just walking out on the match, but eventually came storming back in, this time with a steel chair.  However, his mad charge ended with him whiffing on the chairshot, and taking the rebound of the chair directly in his own face.  Hogan tried to capitalize, but Angle grabbed Hogan's leg when he attempted the leg drop, and turned it into an ankle lock.  Hogan got to the ropes three times, but each time, Angle pulled him to the center of the ring and reapplied the hold.  Finally, Hogan tapped out.  A surprising finish in my mind, though I cannot deny that given the way the storyline played out that it was the right one.  Not a purists "workrate" dream, but a damned entertaining 20 minutes...
  • Backstage, Goldust -- pretending to be the Rock -- approached Booker T about putting aside their past differences.  The real Rock, of course, eventually made his way into the frame, and hilarity ensued.  I'm not being sarcastic, either.  For a stupid, throw-away, backstage vignette, this was actually really funny.  The "serious" part of the thing was the Rock announcing that his purpose at KotR was to watch the main event title match closely, because he's going after the strap.
  • Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam to become the 2002 King of the Ring.  This was actually shorter than the two previous KotR semifinals, and for the most part, Lesnar was in control.  Once RVD did manage to rally, he was distracted by Paul Heyman, who dropped Van Dam throat-first across the top rope.  RVD then staggered directly into a waiting Lesnar, who applied his finishing move to get the win.  Nothing notable here at all. 
  • Backstage, Triple H was confronted by the nWo on his way to the ring.  After a few tense moments, HHH and the former Clique all smiled and hugged, and wished each other luck.  The nWo even offered to come out and help HHH in the title match, if he wanted...  hmmmm....
  • In the main event, the Undertaker defeated Triple H by pinfall to retain the Undisputed Title.  Things got off to kind of a slow start, as many Taker matches are wont to do.  But Paul Heyman was on commentary (pumping up Brock Lesnar, and dissing just about everybody else), so all was not lost.  Things finally started heating up after a ref bump, and it was at that point that the Rock came out... but he wasn't interested in interfering in the match; instead, he was out to take exception with some of Heyman's comments.  So Heyman was scared off, and the Rock replaced him loitering near the commentary table.  The HHH/Taker brawl soon spilled out that way, and Taker decided to level Rock with a big boot for no apparent reason.  So of course, as soon as Rock recovered, he wanted to get involved in the match.  He took a chair, and got Taker in his crosshairs.  But Taker ducked, and the Rock pasted HHH with the chair, instead.  Rock walked back up the aisle in disgust, leaving HHH and Taker to hit some near falls (including a few with substitute ref Nick Patrick, and later a few with a groggy Earl Hebner staking his claim to the Slowest Three Count Ever).  In the end, their respective finishers were not effective, but Taker hit a lowblow and rolled HHH up to get the cheap win.  After the match, Taker made eye contact with the Rock, and the two started brawling.  Rock laid Taker out with the People's Elbow.  But by that point, HHH had recovered, and he wasn't happy about that earlier chairshot, so he laid Rock out with a Pedigree.  And of course, by now, Taker is back on his feet, so he took the opportunity to chokeslam HHH back into unconciousness.  Taker, still the Undisputed Champ, celebrated to his music as the PPV closed.

Some good on this show, some disappointing...  but in the end, it was one that engendered a lot of armchair booking and which seemed to provide the kind of intrigue that you like to see in a pay-per-view.  For instance, I think we can write off Taker/Lesnar as a PPV main event, so we've got a lot of possibilities there.  The Rock is involved already...  might the nWo or Booker T follow?  And what, precisely, are the allegiances among these top stars?

That kind of stuff is interesting to think about, and certainly with RVD/Jericho and Angle/Hogan, we got enough of the action and entertainment, as well.  It wasn't all just the storyline side.  Eddie/Flair certainly was a letdown, and the main event was looking like it might go the bowling shoe route until the ref bump spiced things up...  but y'all know my shtick by now:  try to focus on the positives.

Bottom line:  I had fun watching King of the Ring.  I might have had more if I'd been in Columbus where I belonged, but that's for me to bitch about to my boss.  You don't give a rat's ass.

We'll have lots more fall-out from King of the Ring -- along with a big Scott Keith PPV Rant -- here on OO on Monday.  Come on back to check it out!  


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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