November 17, 2002.
It was a wild time in pro wrestling. WCW and ECW were dead. The WWE was the only game in town and had a “Who’s Who” of talent stockpiled on their roster. The funny thing is, the names that weren’t around were even bigger. The Undertaker was on a hiatus. The Rock had left for Hollywood. Steve Austin had quit the promotion. The “Attitude Era” was on it’s way out, and “Ruthless Aggression” was the new catchphrase floating around the company. I was 21 years old and loving every minute of it.
Now I have been to 2 Wrestlemania’s, a Summerslam, a Money in the Bank, and loads of Raw’s, Smackdown’s, and Live Events. This is by far, without hyperbole, the best show I have ever been to. The crowd was on fire from start to finish. Every match was exciting in their own way. This week I went back to relive some of the magic from that night. It brought back a ton of great memories from a spectacular night of wrestling.
I’ll never forget walking in to Madison Square Garden and seeing the Elmination Chamber for the first time. It was a real life Thunderdome. You know it’s wrestling, but when you saw that thing you couldn’t help but think to yourself, “I might see a death tonight.” We were the first fans to lay eyes on the structure, and it damn sure didn’t disappoint. MSG should be on any fans bucket list of sports venues to visit. The atmosphere is like no other. Back then(a renovation was completed in 2013), there weren’t really any bad seats there. The WWE always made their PPVs feel special at the Garden because of the unique set-up. There was a never a big stage or entrance, just the small tunnel and logo with fans literally on top of everything. I sat with my friends Chris and Greg in the last row of the 300s section, above that entrance, with the ring right in the middle. It was an incredible view for what would turn out to be an entertaining evening.
(Note: With this post I unveil my new match rating symbol, the Joker 🃏)
Bubba Ray Dudley, Spike Dudley, and Jeff Hardy defeats 3 Minute Warning and Rico-Elimination Tables Match
The night was kicked off with this hard-hitting and fast paced contest. The object was to put every member of the opposing team through a table. There was no “traditional” Survivor Series match on the card, but this more than made up for it. Jeff Hardy did his usual Jeff Hardy things, including a Swanton off one of the entrance ways. This match is best known for being the night the Dudley Boyz reunited after months separated due to the brand extension. They had always been one of my favorite tag teams going back to their days in ECW. We all rose to our feet when we saw D-Von run out to save Bubba from a 3 on 1 assault. We roared when they hit Rico with the 3-D and the victory. Great way to start off the night-🃏🃏🃏1/2
Billy Kidman defeats Jamie Noble(c)-WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Billy Kidman was one of the last holdovers from the WCW heyday of the cruiserweight. He was always one of my favorites from that generation, and it was a pleasure to see him live at this show. Noble had a solid career in his own right, and these 2 talents had a strong back and forth match. Kidman wins with the Shooting Star off the top rope, thus winning his record 7th Cruiserweight title. 🃏 🃏 🃏
Victoria defeats Trish Stratus(c)-Hardcore Match for the WWE Women’s Championship
In 2018 women’s wrestling is well respected, and no longer just for eye candy or a bathroom break. This was not always the case in 2002, but Trish and Victoria were definitely the exception at Survivor Series. This is match you would never see today. There were a ton of head shots, and Victoria even got busted open! Speaking of Victoria, I don’t think she gets enough credit for being a top talent during the early days of the Diva era. She played that psychotic character so well, and wasn’t too bad in the ring. 🃏 🃏 🃏
Big Show defeated Brock Lesnar(c) w/ Paul Heyman-WWE Championship
I remember during the stare down before the bell rang leaning over to my friend and saying, “This looks like a monster movie.” It was like watching Godzilla vs. Rodan and the fight was going to spill out onto the streets of Manhattan. What struck me about this match when I watched it again was how much the crowd was behind Brock. You have to remember this was his rookie year! He had beaten the Rock at Summerslam, and before that won the King of the Ring tournament in June. They were chanting for him. Imagine that happening now?! Lesnar was one of the hottest new talents, and you could see why with the way he suplexed Big Show all over the Garden. He would not be victorious on this night, as Paul Heyman would turn on him, helping Big Show win the title. 🃏 🃏
Los Guerreros defeated Edge/Rey Mysterio(c) and Chris Benoit/Kurt Angle-Triple Threat Elimination Match-WWE Tag Team Championship
I think it goes without saying that you know your talent pool is deep when 5 out of the 6 guys in this match either had won, or would go on to be a world champion. The Angle/Benoit pairing was sneaky great. These guys complimented each other so well in the ring, and their personalities were different enough that it worked beautifully. This match was fantastic, and how could it not be seeing the participants. Go out of your way to watch it. 🃏 🃏 🃏 🃏
Shawn Michaels defeated Triple H(c), Chris Jericho, Kane, Booker T, and Rob Van Dam-Elimination Chamber Match-World Heavyweight Championship
It is a rare occurrence when you have a 6 man match and every participant is either already a Hall of Famer or is going to be. This match was brutal. It was he first ever Chamber match, so nobody knew what to expect. When HBK hit Triple H with Sweet Chin Music the Garden became unglued. When we counted 1-2-3, that was when sound had feeling. I still get goosebumps thinking about it. I have been going to that arena my whole life. Whether it was a Rangers or Knicks playoff game, a concert, and even Wrestlemania XX, that was the loudest I had ever heard MSG. The place literally shook. It was a moment I’ll never forget, and seeing my favorite wrestler of all time win his final World title was truly special. 🃏 🃏 🃏 🃏
The night did not end for us with the main event. After the show we had a few run-ins with wrestlers. We caught Hurricane Helms and Lance Storm walking out of the arena. This story is legendary amongst my friends. As Storm walked by shaking all the fans hands, I didn’t notice that he walked right by me with his hand extended. I accidentally big-timed Lance Storm! He turned around and gave me a weird look as he crossed the street. My friends never let me live that down. A few minutes later we were waiting to get our car out of the parking lot. We saw another wrestler getting his car from the same lot. He was a seldom used rookie, you may have heard of him, his name is John Cena. He was very friendly and said hi to everybody before driving off in a beat up Jeep Grand Cherokee.
I try and watch this show once a year around this time. It always makes me smile and look back at that era fondly. I hope everyone enjoys the 2018 edition of Survivor Series this weekend! Until next time…..