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So with awards season about to come to a thrilling conclusion I took a gander at the UKFF awards for 2002. This appeared to be the second full-on awards process the forum conducted, but I could be wrong. The 2001 edition isn't available save for a short write-up in the 2002 awards announcement post.

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(The earliest available snapshot is from Jan 2003, so it'll do).

So 2002, then? The year of the first brand split. The year WWE got the F out. The year when Austin took his ball and went home. The first year in forever where there wasn't any real competition for WWE. The birth of Ring Of Honor and the death of King Of The Ring. What else happened? Quite a lot, by the looks of it.

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Are the opinions of the board, or even yourself, still the same when it concerns wrestling 17 years later? YES, 17 FUCKING YEARS AGO. Christ.

Let's have a look'see;

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- Booker T and Goldust took away the Funniest Moment award, but one curious outlier which came at a very close third place was Regal's anti-Hogan promo. This promo actually beat the great stuff with The Rock and the NWO. I don't remember that at all, what a great hidden gem!

 

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- By a massive margin, Rock vs Hogan won Most Memorable Moment. HBK's Summerslam return came second but by a 40% defeat, the gap was that big. Personally, I love the HBK return angle, it was a great bit of business. But y'all loved both nominations enough for them to appear elsewhere.

 

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- Another win by a massive country mile was the Katie Vick stuff for Worst Angle. Even back then, wrestling fans were tired of 'edgy' Attitude-era laziness. Also in there was the Intercontinental title ending. Bloody hell, remember that? Trips beat Kane (also related to the aforementioned Vick story) to unify both the World and IC titles in October, only for it to be brought back the next May in a battle royal. We also can't forget about Dawn Marie shagging Torries's Dad (and then shagging him to death in January '03).

 

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- The Angle/Benoit vs Rey/Edge vs Los Guerreros series won Best Angle, but it only scraped a victory against the likes of; the Jerry Lynn vs Aj Styles Fued, Billy & Chuck's wedding, Lesnar's dominance & title win, the NWO return and Angle getting his head shaved. Also thrown in the mix were NJPW vs Makai Club and fucking OVW vs The Revolution (???).

 

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- Taking home the Worst Card award was King Of The Ring, a shit show of the highest order that saw Taker and Trips hobble around for twenty four fucking minutes and a tournament which under-delivered massively. The fan reaction to Jericho's disappointing match with RVD saw Chris take to his website in order to pen a blog about how wrong we all are. Proper authentic 2002 Live Journal move, that. 

XPW's Freefall did a respectable number as well, probably due to New Jack's attempted murder of Vic Grimes, and No Way Out placed third. No Way Out 2002 also takes my vote as being the WORSE PPV set of all time. It's just two fucking trucks and a couple of projectors, for fucks sake. I've seen better sets at backyard wrestling shows.

 

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- The Best Card award is wild; Summerslam took home the honors for that one (featuring HBK vs HHH, Angle vs Mysterio and Brock's coronation), and the other two competitors were CZW's Best Of The Best 2 and the inaugural FWA British Uprising. Can't complain there; all three are stonking shows, and I wore out both my CZW BOTB tape and my Summerslam PPV recording. Both shows featured MOTY candidates that would place on my fave matches of all time list (HBK vs HHH and Fleisch vs Storm).

 

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- The competition was also fierce for the Best Match Of The Year award. HHH/HBK edged out Fleisch/Storm by ONE SINGLE VOTE, but they were both 2nd and 3rd place to the winner; Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit Vs Rey Mysterio & Edge from No Mercy in a certified classic. Low Ki Vs Chris Daniels Vs Doug Williams Vs Spanky, the main event from ROH's 5th show, also places rather well. You can't forget about Hair Hair Kurt Angle Vs Edge either.

 

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- Doug Williams Vs Eddie Guerrero from FWA Revival won UK MOTY, besting Jody Fleisch vs AJ Styles and Jonny Storm vs AJ Styles.

 

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- Hogan vs Taker and Hogan vs HHH were both in the running Worst Match Of The Year, but they were usurped by Trish & Bradshaw Vs Jackie Gayda & Chris Nowinski, who beat them by a bit of a distance. This must be a real stinker to be worse than both Hogan matches and you'll know it best for this marvelous bit of work. Drew McDonald Vs Robbie Brookside from FWA British Uprising also took a few nods and probably a few trips to the concession stands for the live crowd.

 

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- Los Guerreros won Best Tag Team and they were closely followed by Angle & [REDACTED]. The Backseat Boyz were a distant second (Trent Acid had all the goods to be a top guy, shame that it all went downhill a few years later), Goldie D and Booker T, Edge and Rey, H8 Club (Nick fucking Gage making waves in 2002) and America's Most Wanted (James Storm and Braden Walker).

 

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- Do you remember how good 2002 was for tag wrestling? Well i had it's fair share of shit hawks too; The UK Pitbuls, The Dupps and eventual winners of Worst Tag Team, D-Von and Ron Simmons. I don't agree with inclusion of Billy & Chuck and 3 Minute Warning though.

 

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- Brock Lesnar won Rookie Of The Year by a landslide. Who did he beat? A fly-by night sensation known as John Cena.

 

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- Best wrestler went to Kurt Angle, who had a red hot year, and runner up Eddie Guerrero.

 

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- Hade Vansen won UK Rookie Of The Year. He always pegged for greatness, wasn't he Supremo?

 

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- Worst Wrestler was also hotly contested affair! A few votes either way would've secured victory for anyone. In the running were Albert, Big Show, Drew McDonald, HHH, Rikishi, Undertaker and the eventual winner, Buff fucking Bagwell. What did he do in 2002 that was thoroughly crap? Is there some WWA or Wrestle Express level shitearsery that I'm not aware of? Did he have a woeful TNA stint?

Do you agree or disagree with the results and nominations? What was better or worse in retrospect? Has the good aged well and is the bad still as fucking bad now? Would you vote differently today and what's missing? 

 

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I think it's hard to argue any of that really. The worst is still dreadful, and remembered as such, and the good still stands out.

The interesting points are the indie choices more than anything in the big leagues - Hade Vansen really did seem like a big deal, and it's fun to see My First BritWres making the best UK match award.

Bagwell "winning" worst wrestler in 2002 is hilarious considering I'm really not sure of him ever actually doing anything that year on anything like a major scale. Looking on Cagematch, he was in the Gauntlet for the Gold on the first TNA show, in a 6 minute tag match on their third show, and in a Tag Team Battle Royal some time later, but otherwise just dicked around in the WWA and XWF. Must have left quite an impression somewhere.

 

Personally, the thing I find maddest looking back on 2002 with the benefit of 17 years of hindsight is that they gave us Hogan, Hall & Nash vs. Austin & The Rock, and three combinations of Hogan & Rock vs. Hall & Nash on free TV four times is as many weeks.

They had, on paper, arguably the most star-studded roster in history, and not the faintest idea how to monetise it.

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46 minutes ago, Accident Prone said:

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- Doug Williams Vs Eddie Guerrero from FWA Revival won UK MOTY, besting Jody Fleisch vs AJ Styles and Jonny Storm vs AJ Styles.

 

This was the first Indie match I ever saw, I was 13 and it absolutely blew my tiny teenage mind. I know Eddie was having issues at the time but his ability to get it done in the ring never seemed to dull. He doesn't get talked about enough in the conversation of best in-ring guy ever, especially considering how often Benoit still gets chucked about.

I had seen British guys in WWF and WCW but I hadn't really considered the idea that British Wrestling might exist as it's own scene, there were no shows local to me or anything like that. Seeing Doug in that match lead me to finding amazing British guys like Jody Fleisch and Johnny Storm and then seeing their matches with guys like AJ and Daniels helped me find ROH and the insane crop of talent they had at the time.

If you've not seen it in a while here is a link

 

Edited by Brudaker

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Great thread.

I must admit that at the time I thought the era was shockingly bad on the whole, save for the few weeks when the nWo angle was intriguing. I didn't hold much fondness at all for the post-Attitude era back then and I still don't share the love many have for Ruthless Aggression. But fair play, there are a lot of gems in there. 

I'd almost forgot about that FWA show on Bravo, a lot of people thought that would be the springboard for British Wrestling.

Shocking nomination for Buff Bagwell though. That match against Booker T on Raw is nowhere near as bad as a lot of people make out, yet it seems to be an anvil around his neck ever since.

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40 minutes ago, garynysmon said:

Shocking nomination for Buff Bagwell though. That match against Booker T on Raw is nowhere near as bad as a lot of people make out, yet it seems to be an anvil around his neck ever since.

 

1 hour ago, BomberPat said:

Bagwell "winning" worst wrestler in 2002 is hilarious considering I'm really not sure of him ever actually doing anything that year on anything like a major scale. Looking on Cagematch, he was in the Gauntlet for the Gold on the first TNA show, in a 6 minute tag match on their third show, and in a Tag Team Battle Royal some time later, but otherwise just dicked around in the WWA and XWF. Must have left quite an impression somewhere.

Two things shocked me on the votes; one was how wonderfully varied it was (I thought it would be a WWE love-in due to WCW and ECW folding the year prior) and the second was Buff taking the worst wrestler spot. I mean, something has happened there for him to be even voted into contention in the first place. What did he do in 2002 that was so awful? Is it really the stench of the that Booker T match?

 

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I can only think it must have been by reputation alone, as there's no way sufficient people were watching Buff Bagwell matches that year. Unless his matches on WWA PPVs really were stinking up the joint, which considering one of them was teaming with Stevie Ray against Brian Christopher and Ernest Miller, is a distinct possibility, but I can't imagine that many people were even watching the WWA?

Though this has lead me to discover that on WWA's first PPV, he and Jeff Jarrett had a "Tits, Whips and Buff" match that went 4 minutes.

 

I'm not too surprised by the votes for non-WWF companies. As much as there was no top level competition, 2002 saw a lot of promotions starting out to try and fill the voids left by WCW and ECW, concurrently with a decrease in video and distribution hardware meaning that indie promotions were able to reach wider audiences than before, and the real beginning of the "IWC" as an indie-wrestling support group. 

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You bugger, @Accident Prone! I really want to reply to this - in fact I even watched Three Stages Of Hell while cooking last night because of your initial post of this thread - but I'm snowed under with work. Tomorrow, a length post!

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I think that opening post was longer than 2002 was!

Looking back on the WWE roster of that year, we never had it so good.  That has to be the best roster in any company in history, surely?  A list that included

Hulk Hogan

Stone Cold

The Rock

Chris Jericho

Edge

Kurt Angle

Chris Benoit

Eddie Guerrero

Booker T

Christian

Rob Van Dam

The Big Show

Kane

Batista

Rey Mysterio

Jeff Hardy

Kevin Nash

Brock Lesnar

The Undertaker

Shawn Michaels

Triple H

JBL

Ron Simmons

John Cena

Randy Orton

DDP

Scott Steiner

Ric Flair

Mr. McMahon

Mr Perfect

And yet there we all are, moaning away about it.  If only we'd known the wilderness years of the late 00s were to come.

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10 minutes ago, HarmonicGenerator said:

You bugger, @Accident Prone! I really want to reply to this - in fact I even watched Three Stages Of Hell while cooking last night because of your initial post of this thread - but I'm snowed under with work. Tomorrow, a length post!

I look forward to your account of 2002! 

I'm a big fan of that Three Stages Of Hell match, purely for evidence of Shawn downloading a bunch of CZW clips off LimeWire the night before.

Edited by Accident Prone

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10 minutes ago, Loki said:

I think that opening post was longer than 2002 was!

Looking back on the WWE roster of that year, we never had it so good.  That has to be the best roster in any company in history, surely?  A list that included

...

And yet there we all are, moaning away about it.  If only we'd known the wilderness years of the late 00s were to come.

It is a great roster on paper but coming off the MNW/Attitude era, they'd burned through so many matches, title switches and main events coupled with having fucked up the alliance which meant all the "WCW guys" had a stigma and there was just so little freshness.

Late 2001 they were going to Chris Jericho as undisputed champion because they didn't have anything else. Everything felt like a retread. Hence why they rushed through the top OVW prospects over the next year trying to find something that would work. it is crazy just looking at the names because they'd die for that talent now but then they were cooling off and didn't know how to arrest it. Most of it was probably just natural. They were prisoners of the moment though and shit the bed about numbers constantly. They binned the Invasion because of them falling and then hot-shotted every name they could find for 18 months.

Agree with your last point, it would get far worse and continues to do so. But it was shit then because their use of a lot of guys was crap, a lot needed to be used sparingly and weren't and they were still trying to create Attitude Era magic with hideous "controversial" angles that misunderstood how little that shit mattered in 1998 compared to Austin, The Rock, Foley, X-Pac, Kane, etc just being ace.

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Great post - would love to read more of this style!

I watched Summerslam 2002 a few months back and was amazed by how well pretty much everything on the card still holds up today. Angle and Mysterio is still one of my favourite opening matches of all time.

In regards to @Loki's post, the only roster I could think of from the top of my head would be 1998 WCW, when you had the insane mixture of huge names alongside the incredible work-rate wrestlers in the undercard.

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1 hour ago, BomberPat said:

I'm not too surprised by the votes for non-WWF companies. As much as there was no top level competition, 2002 saw a lot of promotions starting out to try and fill the voids left by WCW and ECW, concurrently with a decrease in video and distribution hardware meaning that indie promotions were able to reach wider audiences than before, and the real beginning of the "IWC" as an indie-wrestling support group. 

 

There was alot of great tape traders who posted here back then. Plus alot of people like myself who came here to buy of them. So the place was a goldmine for recommendations for all kinds of obscure stuff.  

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I look back on 2002 with a lot of fondness actually. Sure, there's some nonsense there, and squandered opportunities for some things that could have been incredible. However I'd take 2002 over 2018, 7 days a week and twice on Sunday's.

Obviously I was less jaded then too, and the same product put in my hands now for first time viewing would likely lead to different feelings of it than the feelings I have now for what I watched 16/17 years ago. However I have no doubt that the WWF main roster product of 2002 was way more exciting, and had much more of an air of unpredictability about it than the company has had in many years. 

SummerSlam, Survivor Series and Royal Rumble from that year are all better events than any main roster PPV from 2018, by a large margin, and are some of the best that the company ever put on. 

Raw threw lots of shit at the wall, lots of it bad, some of it good and a bit of it was great, but I wouldn't ever accuse it of being formulaic. 

Then you had Smackdown, which was consistently excellent. 

2002 was a damn good year, that probably recieves most of the flack that it gets due to how high most people's hopes might have been due to the incredible roster of the time, and whilst wrestling in North America was cooling off a lot from where it was between late 1996-mid 2001, it was still hotter than it would ever be again. 

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