We just may have the best SummerSlam of all time on our hands here as The Rock squares off against the new hot, young commodity, Brock Lesnar. Shawn Michaels and his former friend, Triple H, have an Unsanctioned Street Fight. All this and so much more in this edition of The Chairshot Classic.
14,7997 people are in the Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum, in Uniondale, New York, as we travel back to August 25, 2002 for SummerSlam. There are another 540K tuned in on PPV at home. This is an amazing event we have here and some may argue “The Greatest SummerSlam of All-Time”. The card features 15 men who either held a World Title or would go on to do so. This is impressive as the card only featured 18 men, so 83% of this SummerSlam held a World Title at some point. 2002 is the year of the dual branded WWE (RAW/SmackDown) and competition is few and far between for them, outside of their own Brand War. They company became World Wrestling Entertainment in May of this year after they lost a court battle with The World Wildlife Foundation.
The show opens without the use of a cool video and this was a disappointment. I really enjoy these opens and it is a shame there isn’t one here. Michael Cole is welcoming us into the sold-out Coliseum for this event, which sold-out in 90 minutes, and its strange not to have Jim Ross on the intro. Jim Ross and his usual colleague, Jerry “The King” Lawler call the RAW portion of the show. This leaves Michael Cole and Tazz in control of the SmackDown Microphones. The RAW announce team calls their matches from the top of the ring ramp and I’m sure it pissed JR off not being close to the action to call his matches. That means Tazz and Cole get the privilege of being ringside. Both shows would have different men as Ring Announcers, Howard Finkle for the RAW Brand and Tony Chimel for SmackDown. Chimel earned the job by beating Finkle in a Tuxedo Match in 1999.Its not long into the open before we hear the first participant’s theme song begin.
Kurt Angle starts to make his way down the aisle and for the first time since starting this coverage of SummerSlam, we hear the “You Suck” chant accompany him. This I found satisfying. The theme of Rey Mysterio begins to play and this is his first PPV for the company. Mysterio didn’t come over in the InVasion angle (More on that here.), in the previous year, because he was making too much money from his leftover WCW contract. A lot of guys milked this till the end, and rightfully so. Time Warner had to pay the remainder of the contracts from when they acquired the brand, and some guys waited till this expired before joining the WWE because that would end the contract. I think it worked out better for some guys, like Rey, because they weren’t in the messy InVasion jumble. Mysterio doesn’t enter via the ramp, and appears on the apron behind Kurt Angle. Rey springboards off the top rope and hurricanranas Kurt Angle. Rey hits another one but eventually his moment is slowed when he attempts to German suplex Kurt. Angle hits some elbows and Mysterio soon finds himself in an early ankle lock. Mysterio eventually gets to the ropes but it takes a ref’s warning for Angle to break it. Mysterio lands a drop-toe hold that sets up a 619 attempt. Angle ducks under the finish though and leaves the ring. He is quick to pull Mysterio out to join him and the crowd has been electric this whole match. And frankly, so have the competitors.
It’s not long before Kurt returns Rey to the ring and stomps away on him. When Angle hits a suplex the crowd is really giving him some heat and he is giving it back. Kurt hits a German suplex next, after catching Mysterio, that looks seriously brutal. Angle keeps rolling and throws a few pin attempts in to no avail. The lower back now becomes Angle’s primary target and he continues to work it. When he stretches Rey with the ropes the crowd’s “Angle Sucks” chants are in full force. Kurt begins to torque the knee and lower back by putting Mysterio into a single leg crab. The crowd starts the clap rally and Mysterio escapes. He rolls Angle up for the pin but only gets a two. They both return to their feet but Rey is quickly laid back out with a clothesline. The tides start to shift after Mysterio hits a jawbreaker but they shift quickly back, after a belly-to-belly from Angle. Kurt pulls the straps of his singlet down and the crowd is popping. He attempts his finish, The Olympic Slam, but Mysterio rolls through it and takes him down with an arm drag. Kurt tries to charge but Rey ducks and sends Kurt over the top rope. Mysterio goes to dive from the ring but the official stops him. As the official is leaning through the ropes to check on Angle, Mysterio comes running and leaps the official. The crowd erupts as he hits Angle with a sunset flip. He returns Angle to the ring and springboards off the top rope for a leg drop. Rey goes for the cover but only gets a two. Mysterio hits the 619 and follows it with the West Cost Pop, a hurricanrana into the pin. The crowd is in a frenzy but Angle bring them back to earth by kicking out. Mysterio takes to the top turnbuckle but Angle is quick to his feet. Mysterio flips over him and lands on his feet. Angle then starts to climb the turnbuckle but Rey springboards off the ropes to dropkick him. Mysterio joins him up top but Kurt reverses the hurricanrana attempt and this sets up the ankle lock. Rey almost makes the ropes but Kurt drags him back to the center. This leads to Mysterio tapping out and Kurt Angle getting the submission. What a phenomenal match and these two individuals really set the bar high with this opener. It was impressive that Kurt adapted to Rey’s style here and allowed him to really shine. A must watch match and what a great first PPV appearance for Mysterio, even though he didn’t go over. Match Time: 9:20
We see the leader of SmackDown, Stephanie McMahon and she is telling a crew member to tell Eric Bischoff to top the last match. When he leaves and Stephanie enters her office, Bischoff is already in there. He tells her that they have to share the general manger’s office due to it being the only one. Bischoff joins Stephanie on a couch in front of a TV to watch the show. I get the idea of the brand warfare but this was lame.
We Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler and they are speaking of the rivalry of Stephanie and Bischoff. They then welcome us to the RAW portion of SummerSlam as Chris Jericho’s countdown begins on the TitanTron. There is a quick clip of what really turned the heat up on this feud. Ric Flair attacked Jericho with a garbage can, so Jericho returned the favor and ambushed him with one in the back. Flair got some color from this attack and he made sure to return the favor to Chris. He attacked Jericho as his band, Fozzy, was performing on the entrance ramp. Ric then proceeded to destroy the set and instruments of the band. All while sporting a crimson mask. This all took place on the go-home edition of Monday Night RAW. When the “WOOO” at the beginning of Flair’s theme comes on the place erupts. The former 16 time World Champion enters and the crowd shows their respect to the 52 year old legend. It’s amazing that Vince gave him another chance at this age, as he thought Ric looked to old in 1992 and wanted him to get a face lift then.
We get a few collars and elbows first and the crowd pops when Ric breaks one, slaps Jericho in the face and follows it up with a “WOOO”. Jericho leads the charge first and starts with some elbows in the corner. He sends Ric sky-high next for a back body drop that I couldn’t image taking at 32, let alone 52. Jericho attempts to drop an elbow but Flair moves and with every chop he delivers to the chest of Chris the crowd “WOOO”s. Ric tries to throw Jericho from the ring but he hold the top rope and flips back into the ring. But Flair is there to meet him with another chop and this time he “WOOO”s for the crowd. Jericho delivers some chops of his own next and the crowd even makes Ric’s signature sound for his chops. He sends Flair to the corner and Ric takes the bump in his normal fashion, the summersault that leaves him prone on the ropes. Jericho then sends him to the floor mats with a clothesline and the place is popping. Jericho joins him on the outside and exposes the top of the security rail. He bangs him off it then climbs to the top rope to really smash Ric’s face into the rail. This doesn’t really even connect but I guess it looked cool.
They return to the ring and the action picks up again when Jericho hits a missle dropkick from the second turnbuckle. Jericho goes for the cover but Ric kicks out. He tries again for another quick cover but another kick out. Chris attempts to remove a turnbuckle cove next but only makes it so far before the official stops him. The official has to make a repair to it, though, and this allows Jericho to choke Flair with his wrist tape. Jericho then lays Flair’s neck onto the ropes and jumps onto his back. Flair’s neck is the primary target of Jericho from this point forward. After a suplex, Jericho is quick to the top turnbuckle but Flair is right there to meet him and throw him to the mat. Chris tries a shoulder tackle next but he connects with the ring post instead of with Ric. Flair hit some more big chops and the crowd is still “WOOO”ing at every one. Ric lifts Chris for a back body drop next and the crowd is back on their feet at this point. Flair attempts a suplex that gets reversed and he soon finds himself in The Walls of Jericho. Before it is fully locked in, Flair manages to roll Jericho into an inside cradle for the pin attempt. He kicks out and both men are quick to their feet, but Ric is right on his back again after a clothesline. A running bulldog is next for Jericho that he follows with a Hogan-like “I can’t hear you”. He tries to Lionsault, but Flair rolls out of harms way. Flair tries to put The Walls of Jericho onto Chris but he reverses it. This leads to Jericho putting Flair’s own figure-four on him. After some build-up, Flair finally finds the rope and breaks the hold. He soon hits Jericho with a low blow and this allows Flair to put the figure-four onto Jericho. He soon taps out and another match is decided by submission. It is said that the original finish was Flair with an inside cradle but Jericho convinced McMahon and Flair that he should loose to the figure-four. Flair was said to be low on confidence at the time and didn’t think he was good enough to beat Jericho with his normal finish, as he wasn’t himself. This is were the famed “You’re Ric Freakin’ Flair” comes from, and as we saw, Jericho convinced them to change it. This was a great match and I have not one bad thing to say about it. Watch this one folks. This is shaping up to be an impressive card. With hindsight, just look at the four competitors that opened this show. All are legends and Hall of Fame worthy. Two are all ready in, Flair and Angle, and when Rey and Chris’s careers are over they will be too. Match Time:10:22
Paul Heyman is in the locker room and is joined by his client, Brock Lesnar. Even back then Paul backed the winning horse. He is getting Brock pumped up for his match with The Rock for The Universal Championship. Paul is telling him he needs to destroy him like Hulk Hogan because he is “The Next Big Thing”. Heyman was just as annoying back then as he is today.