November 17th, 2002
Madison Square Garden - New York City
ALWAYS BY SALIVA IS THE THEME SONG FOR THIS JAWN and man that’s nostalgia overload.
Above the ring, we see the Elimination Chamber for the first time ever.
1) Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray, & Spike Dudley vs. Jamal, Rosey, & Rico - Tables Match
This starts hot and heavy and the crowd is riled up to match. Even starting a “you fucked up” chant when Rosey drops Hardy in a spot where he was supposed to catch him off a flying crossbody. All three men on each team have to be put through a table so we are potentially getting five table spots in this thing so it should be fun. Spike gets eliminated first as you’d probably expect but god damn he went out with a bang, even garnering a holy shit chant. Rosey goes for a moonsault and Bubba cuts his legs out from under him and he basically split leg moonsaults himself off the top rope which was insane. Next thing you know Rosey is on a table in the stands and JEFF SWANTONS OFF THE LEVEL ABOVE IT HOLY SHIT. We get a bunch of Jamal/Hardy interaction here which is nice foreshadowing to the feud they’d have four years later with Jamal under the Umaga gimmick. JAMAL WITH A SPLASH OFF THE TOP TURNBUCKLE TO THE FLOOR THROUGH HARDY AND THRIUGJ A TABLE FUCK. This match rules fuck you. Bubba and Rico going at it in the ring. Jamal gets involved only to get a powerbomb from the top rope through a table. Mother of fuck. Rico is somehow the last man on the 3MW team. Rosey and Jamal get back involved and this is a buzzkill but MOTHERFUCKING DVON DUDLEY RUNS DOWN AND CLEANS HOUSE OMG THEY ARE REUNITED BRUH WTFFFFFFF. 3D ON RICO THROUGH THE TABLE. Amazing. Couldn’t imagine a better opener for this show.
Match rating - ***1/4
Stacy Keibler is in Times Square. Saliva is performing “Always” with some clips of the build for the matches still to come on this PPV being shown.
2) Jamie Noble (c) (w/ Nidia) vs. Billy Kidman - WWE Cruserweight Title Match
Kidman has new theme music and it’s pretty cool. This is much better than the Smackdown match, but could’ve been better if allowed time to breathe. You can’t expect much from these cruserweight matches in that regard though. Noble hits an insane stalling DDT off the top turnbuckle that spikes Kidman but Kidman kicks out and manages to hit the shooting star press despite Nidia trying to pull his legs out from under him. And that’s all it took, Kidman ends Noble’s hella long cruserweight title reign.
Match rating - ***
Angle & Benoit backstage. Angle says if Kidman can win the cruserweight title there’s no reason they can’t coexist and regain the tag titles tonight. Benoit tries to shake Angle’s hand but Kurt wants an extended hug which he gets.
Jericho getting taped up and ready for the Elimination Chamber.
F-view cam of Victoria talking to herself in the mirror.
3) Trish Stratus (c) vs. Victoria - Hardcore Match for the Women’s Championship
This is pretty good for the times. They use a bunch of random weapons including kendo sticks, trash cans and an.... ironing board? Victoria gets the win with a bloody mouth and becomes the new Women’s Champion. They are really playing up this psychotic role of hers. Good stuff and the best women’s match since I started reviewing 2002 stuff (back in June).
Match rating - **3/4
Eric Bischoff says tonight the Chamber will transform the world of pro wrestling and that he’s outdone Stephanie McMahon and himself. Big Show walks up and says “howdy stranger” and that Bischoff made a mistake trading him and he’s gonna show him tonight when he beats Brock.
4) Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Big Show - WWE Championship Match
Okay so... this is short but it packs so many awesome moments into its short time. Lesnar being the first person to ever German, belly to belly and side suplex Big Show. AND F5 him. Immediately answering all the doubts everyone had heading into this. Then the finish with Heyman turning on Brock by pulling the ref out of the ring when he clearly had Big Show beat was an insane moment that is replayed for a long time. This was a RIDE whether the way they booked the Heyman turn made sense or not.
Match rating - ***1/2
Al Wilson and Dawn Marie are shown in the crowd with an “engaged to be married” subtitle under their names LMAO.
5) Edge & Rey Mysterio (c) vs. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit vs. Los Guerrero’s (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero) - Triple Threat Match for the WWE Tag Team Titles
Another awesome match from these three teams. Apparently this is also elimination rules so every team has to be pinned. The first half of this before Angle & Benoit were eliminated was absolute bonkers. The craziest moment of the match for me was Benoit doing suplexes to Edge and Eddie coming off the top rope with a sunset flip on Benoit which made the rotation on Edge whom Benoit was still hanging onto even harder. They do more Angle/Benoit confusion and conflict and it costs them the match and they are first eliminated after a barn burning finishing run. The last portion of the match is good but not quite as nuts as the first. Regardless, it’s an awesome match as a whole, Eddie taps out Rey with the lasso from El Paso once again like he did on Smackdown and the Los Guerreros use their sly tactics to become the new tag team champions. (Chavo made Benoit think Angle hit him with a belt earlier and it ends up costing them the fall, and here, Chavo hit Rey with the belt when he was going for the west coast pop on Eddie).
Match rating - ***3/4
Christopher Nowinski comes out because he just HAS to be featured on this PPV huh? Matt Hardy is out next. They do the classic heel thing and argue over whether New York is stupid or just full of losers. They agree they’re both then BIG POPPA PUMP MAKES HIS DEBUT AND LAYS THEM BOTH OUT YES YES YES YES. Steiner still hasn’t announced if he’s gonna be on Raw or Smackdown, but this was the perfect debut. Madison Square Garden popped insanely loud for him and made this feel big and special. Stoked to see what’s next for Steiner as I have never seen him anywhere besides TNA.
6) Triple H (c) vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho vs. Kane vs. Booker T vs. Rob Van Dam - Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship
Eric Bischoff comes out and hyped up the chamber structure some more. Jericho has a live (sort of) performance by Saliva of his new theme for his entrance. Anyway, things get going and it’s H & RVD to start. H gets busted open early. Booker comes in and eliminates RVD only to be the next elimination a little while later at the hands of Jericho. Kane also threw Jericho through one of the holding plexi glass cells. Jericho is bleeding now and Kane is in control. The countdown begins and the final entrant HBK starts clearing house. Kane stops his momentum only to get nailed with finishers by everyone and eat a pin. H & Jericho team up from this point forward to try and bust Shawn Michaels open which they are successful in doing. H & Jericho start arguing eventually and it costs Jericho an elimination and we are down to HBK and Triple H to finish as everyone expected. It drags a bit but picks up and the finish RULES and gets a MAAAAASSIVE POP. SHAWN MICHAELS IS THE NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGJT CHAMPION THANK FUCKING GOD TRIPLE H’s REIGN IS OVER.
I watched this match years ago and vastly overrated it at ****1/2 and I don’t know what the fuck I was thinking because on re-watch and with full context having watched all the weeks and months of TV before it, it fell pretty flat. RVD being eliminated first sucked. No spots really looked awesome outside of the plexi glass ones. It was all building towards the melodramatic HBK/Triple H finish which I just could not get into this go round until the very last moments. So, all this in mind makes my rating hard because I try to be unbiased and understand that the work was fine, the booking and execution just bored me. But I think I’m gonna settle with ***3/4.
Great moment to close the show with as HBK celebrates with confetti and JR yells and shit.
Match rating - ***3/4
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