Thursday, May 28, 2020

Wrestling Do-Overs: The Invasion Angle, part 11 (Royal Rumble 2002)

A new year dawns, but the Invasion Angle rages on, heading into the 2002 Royal Rumble....

To read this series from the beginning, click HERE

Night After Vengeance

RAW opens with fireworks and revelry as Vince and most of the WWF roster march down to the ring in high spirits.  Vince takes the mic.  "Ladies and gentlemen, in my 28 years as owner of this company I don't think I've ever been more proud than I am at this very moment.  Last night at Vengeance, at long last, the World Wrestling Federation Championship returned home where it belongs, around the waist of a WWF Superstar.  After four months, Hollywood Hogan's reign of terror is over, the WWF and WCW Championships are unified as the Undisputed WWF Championship, our side has also regained the European Title thanks to Edge, and The Alliance controls only two remaining titles, the Intercontinental and the Cruiserweight.  That situation will be remedied tonight, in this very ring.  But first I'd like to welcome the man of the hour, the brand new Undisputed WWF Champion, STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN!!!"

Austin's music hits and he appears from behind the curtain, both championship belts slung over his shoulders.  Suddenly Chris Jericho runs up from behind and waffles him with a broom handle, knocking him down.  Vince and the rest of the WWF locker room are stunned.  Jericho bashes Austin repeatedly and pulls a microphone out of his back pocket.  "Congratulations Austin, you won back the WWF Title.  Well guess what, it's coming home to me next!  Last night I beat a rain check into The Rock's candy-ass, and that makes me the new #1 contender!  At the Royal Rumble Chris Jericho will be the new Undisputed WWF Champion!"  Jericho drops the mic and leaves as Austin crawls to his feet and the show goes to commercial.

Back from break, Austin is being checked out by doctors and Vince backstage, but pushes the doctors aside.  "Get these jackasses outta my face, a little snot like Jericho ain't gonna keep me down."  Vince tries to calm him down but Austin isn't having it.  "Get me Jericho in the ring tonight, damn ya!"  "Fine Steve, fine.  You pick a tag team partner and I'll notify Jericho to pick one as well."

The announcers inform us that Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman is up next to defend his title against X-Pac.  They have a whirlwind 10-minute match where Kidman retains by countering the X-Factor with a low dropkick and hitting the shooting star press.

Backstage, Hogan, Bischoff and friends are reeling from their defeat at Vengeance.  Bischoff says they need a new strategy to get back on top.  Hogan says "I have just the thing, brother.  You just wait and see."
Later in the show Rob Van Dam defends the I-C Title against Kane, who dominates much of the bout.  Kane counters a springboard roundhouse kick by hitting the chokeslam, but RVD kicks out of the pin at the last instant.  Kane goes for a Tombstone but RVD slips out and hits the roundhouse, then rolls Kane up for a rope-assisted pin to retain.

In the main event segment, Chris Jericho announces his tag team partner for the night, Kurt Angle.  Steve Austin's music hits and he saunters down to the ring and flips off both his opponents.  There's a pause as we await his partner.  "If ya smeeeeeellll...."  The Rock charges to the ring and goes right after Jericho, and it's a four-man brawl.  We go to commercial as the referee gets control.  Back from the final break and it's a wild, hotly contested match, with lots of double teaming and quick tags.  Jericho keeps The Rock off-balance by taunting him about last night's loss.  Angle targets Austin's braced knees.  Late-match, Austin makes the hot tag and The Rock cleans house on both heels.  He hits a Rock Bottom on Angle, who rolls out of the ring, then hits a spinebuster on Jericho and lands the People's Elbow.  He covers but Jericho kicks out.  Angle is back in and hits a German suplex as Jericho rolls out.  Austin stuns Angle but Jericho slides in and hits him with a chair to draw the disqualification.  Jericho pummels both babyfaces with the chair and he and Angle stand over them to close the show.

Royal Rumble Build

Over the coming weeks we see more backstage segments involving the Alliance, where Hogan and Bischoff talk about their new gameplan.  Hogan says "I have it all figured out Uncle Eric, we'll own the Royal Rumble."

Chris Jericho wins a rematch against The Rock after hitting The Breakdown on a chair.  He cuts a promo on Austin, saying he'll be the only man to defeat Rock and Austin in the same month.

Triple H wins a rematch with Christian and then announces he's the first official entry in the Royal Rumble.  "Whether it's Steve Austin, The Rock, Hogan, Booker T, I don't care who the champion is come WrestleMania time, I'll be the one taking him down!"

Mark Jindrak and Sean O'Haire come out for a match against a mystery team.  Their friend Chuck Palumbo appears, mic in hand, and says "I go way back with you guys.  We came up through the WCW ranks together and had some epic battles.  But I have an announcement and I'd like your support.  I've found someone.  I have a new partner.  We're a perfect fit.  And it's time for me to leave the Alliance and explore this new relationship.  I'd like you to meet....Billy Gunn."  Jindrak & O'Haire look baffled as Billy Gunn joins Chuck and they hug.  A match ensues that is often competitive but also involves Chuck & Billy's psychological shenanigans taking center stage.  After 12 minutes Billy pins Jindrak with the Fame-Asser.  Over the coming weeks Chuck & Billy rack up wins over the APA, DDP & Kanyon, and the Dudley Boyz to vault them into title contention.

Trish Stratus successfully defends against Molly Holly and issues an open challenge for the Royal Rumble.  Lita's music hits and she asks her friend Trish for a title match.  Trish accepts, but Jazz attacks Lita from behind and accuses Trish of ducking her.  Trish runs up the ramp to help, and Jazz backs off.  Trish responds "If you want a shot at me, you're going about it the wrong way.  My friend Lita asked me straight up.  You attacked her like a coward.  I'll give you a title match when you earn it."

Tajiri wins a 10-man Cruiserweight battle royal to earn a shot against Billy Kidman at the Rumble.

Vince continues to book Rob Van Dam to defend his I-C Title, first against The Big Show, then Perry Saturn, then against Kurt Angle (in a blistering, 20-minute, early MOTY candidate).  RVD retains all three times, and Vince announces at the Royal Rumble he'll face the European Champion Edge in a unification match.

The Rumble participants are added, with a roughly 50-50 split between WWF and Alliance members.

Royal Rumble 2002

Featuring every championship on the line, the Rumble lineup is as follows:

Steve Austin (c) vs. Chris Jericho - Undisputed WWF Championship
Rob Van Dam (c) vs. Edge (c) - Intercontinental Champion vs. European Champion
Hardy Boyz (c) vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Chuck & Billy vs. Jindrak & O'Haire - Fatal 4-Way Tag Team Championship
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Lita - Women's Championship
Billy Kidman (c) vs. Tajiri - Cruiserweight Championship

Rumble Match Participants

  1. The Rock         
  2. Triple H       
  3. Hulk Hogan
  4. Goldberg         
  5. Undertaker
  6. Booker T        
  7. Kurt Angle
  8. RVD         
  9. Ric Flair         
  10. Edge
  11. Christian  
  12. Sting       
  13. Kane
  14. DDP
  15. Kanyon
  16. Jeff Hardy
  17. Matt Hardy
  18. Bubba Dudley
  19. D-Von Dudley
  20. Lance Storm
  21. Raven
  22. Chuck
  23. Billy
  24. Mark Jindrak
  25. Sean O'Haire
  26. Test
  27. Bradshaw
  28. Faarooq
  29. Rhyno
  30. Big Show

The show opens with Kidman vs. Tajiri, another blazing showing for Kidman.  Tajiri is able to keep up with him move-for-move.  Kidman goes for the shooting star press but Tajiri gets his knees up.  Kidman writhes in pain and Tajiri hits the Buzzsaw Kick to win the Cruiserweight Title after ten minutes.

The Tag Title match is next and it's an unruly affair, with tons of quick tags and tandem moves.  Late in the match Jeff Hardy and Sean O'Haire hit matching Swantons on each other's partners.  Chuck and Billy break up both pin attempts.  The Dudleys take out Jindrak with a 3-D on the floor but Chuck and Billy brawl with them on the floor as Matt Hardy hits O'Haire with a Twist of Fate to retain the belts after 12 minutes.

Trish Stratus and Lita have an excellent Women's Title match, full of fast-paced, competitive action.  Lita hits a Twist of Fate and goes for a moonsault, but Trish moves.  As Lita struggles to her feet, Trish bounces off the opposite rope and hits a devastating Stratusfaction bulldog to retain after 8 minutes.  Jazz runs in after the bell and attacks both women, leaving them laying.

Rob Van Dam and Edge have another fantastic match.  The final title-holding member of the Alliance fights gallantly considering his affiliation.  Edge attempts to ground him with his power advantage and moves like the Edgecution sharpshooter.  RVD misses a Five-Star Frog Splash and runs into a Spear but kicks out at 2.9.  Edge hits an Electric Chair Drop but RVD rolls out of the ring.  Edge goes for a spear off the apron but RVD moves and Edge hits the dasherboards.  RVD hits a frog splash off the apron to the floor and rolls him back in.  RVD climbs to the top and goes for a high cross body but Edge catches him and attempts a Downward Spiral.  RVD rolls through and snares a small package for the three count after 18 minutes, unifying the I-C and European Titles.

Steve Austin and Chris Jericho have an intense fight, full of animosity.  Austin dominates the early minutes with rugged brawling, as Jericho backpedals.  Jericho takes control after a low blow missed by the official.  Jericho works over Austin's knees and cheats at every opportunity, using the ropes, eye gouges, choking, etc.  Jericho hits a Lionsault but Austin kicks out.  Jericho hits Breakdown but Austin kicks out again.  Jericho slaps on the Walls of Jericho.  Austin fights the hold and slowly inches to the ropes.  Jericho pulls him back and locks in the Lion Tamer elevated crab.  Austin writhes in pain but pushes Jericho's leg aside while pulling his own legs toward the mat, flipping Jericho over in one fell swoop.  Jericho gets to his feet and stomps Austin, then goes for another Lionsault, but Austin counters with a German suplex.  Jericho rolls through and stands up again but runs into a kick-Stunner combo.  Austin pins him at the 22-minute mark to retain the title.

The star-studded Rumble match begins with Rob Van Dam (1) and Edge (2), who resume where they left off with intense, fast-paced action.  Lance Storm (3), Matt Hardy (4) and Christian (5) join the fray, followed by Booker T (6), Test (7) and Rhyno (8).  Kane (9) is next, and he eliminates Rhyno, Storm and Matt.  At #10 is DDP, who knocks Kane down with a Diamond Cutter but eats an Edge spear and is eliminated.  Bradshaw (11), Ric Flair (12) and Faarooq (13) are out next.  The APA runs wild, leveling everyone in the ring.  Booker recovers and eliminates Bradshaw and Kane.  Chuck (14), D-Von (15) and Undertaker (16) are next.  Taker throws out D-Von and Rob Van Dam.  Mark Jindrak (17), Sting (18) and Big Show (19) join the match.  Big Show goes on a tear, eliminating Christian, Test, Faarooq and Chuck.  At #20 is The Rock, who tosses out Jindrak and Flair.  Kurt Angle (21) teams up with Rock, Taker, Edge and Booker to eliminate The Big Show.  Bubba Dudley (22), Kanyon (23), Triple H (24) are next.  Triple H eliminates Kanyon, Edge, and Booker T.  Billy (25), Jeff Hardy (26) and Raven (27) join.  Goldberg (28) joins and plows through every WWF star with spears, tossing out Billy, Jeff and Angle.  Sean O'Haire is #29, but The Rock makes short work of him.  Hulk Hogan enters at #30.

After thirty entries, only Undertaker, Sting, Rock, Triple H, Goldberg and Hogan remain.  The six combatants split into trios, with the WWF on one side and the Alliance on the other.  The Rock eliminates Sting after countering a Stinger Splash into a Rock Bottom.  Goldberg spears Triple H and tosses him out.  The Final Four are Taker, Rock, Goldberg and Hogan.  Taker hits Goldberg with a Last Ride and puts him on his shoulder to toss him out but Goldberg slides behind and dumps him.  Hogan and Goldberg double-team The Rock, but Rock makes a comeback and flattens them both with a double clothesline.  The Rock fires up but suddenly two men emerge from the crowd and storm the ring.  It's Kevin Nash and Scott Hall!  They run in and pummel The Rock.  "Oh my gahd King!  It's Hall and Nash!  The nWo is here!  The Alliance is gonna steal this Rumble!  Dammit!"  Hall and Nash hold Rock as Hogan unleashes a barrage of right hands.  Undertaker, still at ringside, slides in to assist.  Goldberg charges him but Taker tosses him through the ropes.  Hall and Nash turn their attention to Taker, who chokeslams them both.  As Hogan is distracted, The Rock whips him around and hits a Rock Bottom, and then eliminates him.  Undertaker clears Hall and Nash out of the ring as Goldberg comes back in.  It's The Rock vs. Bill Goldberg as the final two.  They lock up and jockey for position, but Rock hits an armdrag.  Goldberg gets up, frustrated and goes for a spear but The Rock ducks and Goldberg hits the buckles.  The Rock hits a Rock Bottom.  The Rock pulls off his elbow pad and bounces off the ropes.  Goldberg pounces to his feet and hits a spear!  Goldberg lifts The Rock up for a jackhammer.  Goldberg pulls The Rock up by the head and vaults him over the top rope to win the 2002 Royal Rumble!

"Goldberg is going to WrestleMania!  Just like that, The Alliance is back in this fight!"

Continued in part 12.....       

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