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The first year where my fandom took a nose-dive. Garbage product week-to-week. No great angles, and fucked up the two biggest things they had going for them in the NWO and Triple H returns very quickly. Both down to Austin directly and indirectly (not staying heel and killing the natural WM main event), who had one one of the most product damaging runs ever, turning very nearly everything and everyone (aside from a forgotten gem with Flair on Raw) he touched to shit. 'Taker was similar and even Rock was stale AF. The brand split was stupid, ditto killing off all the midcard titles. A few good PPVs will never outweigh an overall poor product to me, shit year.

Goldberg and Big Kev coming in/returning got me back in the game!

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Love me some wwe 2002 the Eddie come back the hulkster, rvd,edge, Kurt.. Great times.. czw 2002 trent acid, jody, Johnny,justice pain and best of the best

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I've been watching Wrestlemania X8 tonight off the back of this thread, and so much of it just feels uninspired and forgettable. DDP as Christian's mentor is an angle I had no memory of whatsoever. Staggering when you consider the talent available to them, but really only Rock/Hogan and Flair/Undertaker feel remotely special.

One thing that jumped out at me, though, was JR saying that this was Hogan's first Wrestlemania in nine years.

I know this is the sort of analogy that gets brought up a lot, but nine years felt like a lifetime in wrestling terms, between Wrestlemania IX and X8, between Hogan and Rock. Now? Not so much.

 

From Wrestlemania IX, the only people on the card who were also at Wrestlemania X8 are Hogan, Hall, and The Undertaker, and that's with Hogan and Hall having left and come back, and all three having undergone several gimmick changes.  There are others on the card who would return to the WWF - Shawn Michaels and Tatanka - but in general it feels like a whole other world.

Try and do that now - look at Wrestlemania nine years ago, and all of this lot were on the card who are still with the company and could conceivably be on the card this year;
Big Show, The Miz, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre (admittedly left and returned in the interim), Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin (same as Drew), Triple H, Sheamus, Rey Mysterio (left and came back), Luke Gallows, Alicia Fox, Mickie James (left and came back), John Cena, The Undertaker. Throw in the outside possibility of Batista and Shawn Michaels, and you're looking at a fair chunk of the card. Is it any wonder it feels like nothing happens any more?

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37 minutes ago, BomberPat said:

Try and do that now - look at Wrestlemania nine years ago, and all of this lot were on the card who are still with the company and could conceivably be on the card this year;
Big Show, The Miz, R-Truth, Randy Orton, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre (admittedly left and returned in the interim), Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin (same as Drew), Triple H, Sheamus, Rey Mysterio (left and came back), Luke Gallows, Alicia Fox, Mickie James (left and came back), John Cena, The Undertaker. Throw in the outside possibility of Batista and Shawn Michaels, and you're looking at a fair chunk of the card. Is it any wonder it feels like nothing happens any more?

That's what happens when wrestlers know they have nowhere else to go in reality. Even when TNA were throwing money around, they were mostly wrestlers who'd been released by the WWE against their will rather than jumping ship for a better deal ala when WCW was around.

Its created the culture that we all know of everyone walking on eggshells and doing everything they can to stay employed. But agreed, some weeks you could watch en episode of Raw from 2012 and it may take a while before realising that it was old. Even the sets stay the same these days.

 

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I think I mentioned in a previous thread that Spring 2002 - Summer 2003 is one of my favourite WWE periods and is highly underrated. The storylines weren't hitting all the marks but the in-ring was spot on. That last half of the year especially saw an increase in quality. Summerslam and Survivor Series are both highly regarded shows, but even the likes of No Mercy had the Edge/Rey vs Angle/Benoit encounter (not to mention their equally good 2/3 falls match on Smackdown) and the incredibly bloody Brock vs 'Taker Hell In Cell match.

Smackdown in general was just really really good and, in my eyes, included the best run Edge would have. Yeah, he would go onto bigger and better main event success much later on but his time as a hot, fiery, hungry babyface on the upper mid-card, right on the cusp of the main event scene, was fantastic. He grew as a performer week-to-week and I would've loved to see what 2003 had in store for him had he not got injured.

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I love 2002 WWF, mainly as it was the first year I can remember that our Sky didn't cut off at any point. My ma must have either been getting loads of hours in work or bunging everything on the magic credit card, the great financial strategy that eventually led to some old bank collector lad calling round every Friday for years to collect 20 quid until it was cleared.  

So I got to watch every TV show and PPV. I even ordered the crap UK PPV with Edge vs Brock and Heyman in the main event. 

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Has any company had more starpower then WWE in 2002? No Mr Crooks, is the answer to that rheotical question. 

 

I think that might have been WWE's problem, it was so damn loaded everyone got lost in the shuffle even after the extension.

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2002 made me realise, that if 1988's roster fell into the year 2002, Andre and Dibiase vs the Mega Powers would have happened the night after WrestleMania.

2002 had Flair's return, HHH's return, the nWo's return, Austin leaving, Hogan turning babyface, Shawn Michaels having a match, Bischoff returning and all kinds of other shit, and business was down by the end of the year.

Edited by IANdrewDiceClay

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I honestly think how badly the WWF fucked up the nWo was a greater failure than the Invasion. From day one, they just didn't really feel special. 

In the build to Wrestlemania Hogan does a promo that, transcribed, is spot-on about how he made the WWF, but the fans turned on him and forced him to leave. The delivery is dreadful, though, just so flat and uninspired. There's none of the entitled rage that made Hollywood Hogan a good heel in the first place, it's autocue Hogan, and feels more like he's aiming for a sympathetic babyface reaction (which he may well have been).

That they had them first show up doing chatty babyface promos after weeks of hype, then just a generic heel run-in in the main event of No Way Out should have been the first warning sign. That they followed it up with Nash barely ever wrestling (was he hurt before 'Mania or after?), Scott Hall getting routinely punked by Austin in the build to their match, and The Rock all but no-selling the dreadful "driving a truck into an ambulance" angle...they were dead in the water from the get-go, and it didn't take long for them to be treated as a generic midcard tag team act. So disappointing.

 

6 hours ago, IANdrewDiceClay said:

2002 made me realise, that if 1988's roster fell into the year 2002, Andre and Dibiase vs the Mega Powers would have happened the night after WrestleMania.

Absolutely this. I can only assume that they felt that they had all the stars at their disposal, there was no risk of anyone going anywhere, and the world was their oyster, but it's astonishing what was thrown out as a TV match with no build in those days.

I'll reiterate - on RAW the week of Wrestlemania, they ran the nWo vs. Austin & Rock in a handicap match. That's a PPV main event if ever you've seen one, but it's on TV before the big show, and giving away the first in-ring meeting of Rock and Hogan and Austin and Hogan in one sodding TV match. Hogan turns face at 'Mania and sides with The Rock? They throw out Rock & Hogan vs. Nash & Hall the next night. 

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2 hours ago, BomberPat said:

Absolutely this. I can only assume that they felt that they had all the stars at their disposal, there was no risk of anyone going anywhere, and the world was their oyster, but it's astonishing what was thrown out as a TV match with no build in those days.

I'll reiterate - on RAW the week of Wrestlemania, they ran the nWo vs. Austin & Rock in a handicap match. That's a PPV main event if ever you've seen one, but it's on TV before the big show, and giving away the first in-ring meeting of Rock and Hogan and Austin and Hogan in one sodding TV match. Hogan turns face at 'Mania and sides with The Rock? They throw out Rock & Hogan vs. Nash & Hall the next night. 

Austin walking out when they wanted him to job to Brock with no build should've been a vote of no confidence for that booking style. Yeah, they went ahead and had Hogan take the fall instead (in what has to be Hogan's most selfless act to date) and it was effective, but that strategy was never going to last long.

They had plenty of WCW/ECW run-offs to be lower card pummeling platter for everyone else. Brock came in and destroyed the Hardys, an established and popular act, yet they were fine afterwards as it was a storyline spread over a few months. Fuck, Jeff had that brilliant little main event run with 'Taker a little while afterwards.

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34 minutes ago, Accident Prone said:

Austin walking out when they wanted him to job to Brock with no build should've been a vote of no confidence for that booking style. Yeah, they went ahead and had Hogan take the fall instead (in what has to be Hogan's most selfless act to date) and it was effective, but that strategy was never going to last long.

I don't think the Hogan job was in place of Austin losing to Brock, was it? I vaguely recall that Austin's loss to Brock was meant to be a King of the Ring qualifier, while Hogan/Lesnar didn't happen until August, by which point Brock was already booked in the main event of Summerslam.

It's still mad that Lesnar/Hogan happened on Smackdown, and that Hogan put Brock over cleaner than probably anyone in his career. That should have been a star-making PPV match, though maybe the logic was that the finish was such a downer that it wouldn't have gone down well on PPV?

Or, again, maybe it was this sense that all of these guys work here, they have nowhere else to go, so why not just book them together as and when? It felt like the actions of a company who knew they'd won, but weren't really sure yet what winning meant - the same reason they kept scrambling to win over lost WCW fans with every ex-WCW name they brought in long after the Invasion was over.

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1 minute ago, BomberPat said:

I don't think the Hogan job was in place of Austin losing to Brock, was it? I vaguely recall that Austin's loss to Brock was meant to be a King of the Ring qualifier, while Hogan/Lesnar didn't happen until August, by which point Brock was already booked in the main event of Summerslam.

I had always read on the sheetz that it was their plan B after Austin walked out of the door. I could be wrong though, it is pro wrestling 'news' after all, and I doubt there was much fact checking going on in 2002.

What I've always read; WWE wanted Austin to job to Brock on a random RAW with no build, and it was just before KOTR. Austin balked at the idea and walked, and plans were changed. Hogan was promised another world title run in exchange to doing the job later on, in place of Austin, so to give Brock that big win before facing Rock.

This is all cobbled together from memory, mainly through Austin interviews and NoDQ/Observer stuff. It could all be incredibly inaccurate though.

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If you count the early part of 2003, WWE's roster on paper was incredible. There are several instances we can point to in terms of terrible storylines and booking, but to be honest even with the most talented group of writers you could assemble and even if you had someone sensible like BomberPat booking things, I think it would it would have been a struggle for anyone to make everything work when you analyse things a little deeper. 

There were various high profile injuries to contend with during this period, either with people getting injured during this timeframe or waiting for people to come back from treatment, which would have thrown even the best laid booking plans into chaos. 

The damage in terms of momentum was probably done beforehand in 2001 when WCW and ECW closed, and the Invasion angle tanked. Again, with the best will in the world, you're still in the immediate fallout of what was essentially wrestling's golden era. 

Steve Austin was on his arse in terms of neck issues - even an Austin that hadn't walked out due to creative frustrations would have still deteriorated to the point where you'd have had to send him off for surgery. 

Hogan, Hall and Nash - You can't blame them for the Hulkamania cash cow. They booked the nWo strong as a trio on their arrival, but Hall and Nash as a duo were well past their sell-by-date. Nash's limbs were being held together by string, while Hall was still having personal issues. They should never have been given long term contracts. 

They'd missed the boat with Goldberg by the time he came in. The only thing you could do differently is pay more money to bing him in earlier and book the dream match with Austin before he has to hang it up, but it would only have been a real clusterfuck of a match. One of those things that looks good on paper but in actual fact had the potential to be a real stinker. 

Triple H really struggled to hit top form after his quad tear the year before. Some would argue he's never quite reached those levels since, but during this period he had to change his style and it certainly showed in terms of quality. 

John Cena, Randy Orton and Batista were absolute nobodies. They didn't have the same level of potential and talent a Brock Lesnar at that point and it was always going to take a bit longer to build them up IMO. 

In terms of success and things they got right - The Rock's matches with Jericho, Hogan and his Hollywood run were fantastic, so although his appearances were spread out during this period I wouldn't change anything. The Smackdown Six were tremendous to watch in every combination, so no change there. Brock's rise was a real surprise but a welcome one. He was never the most charismatic, but still an absolute destroyer. The Cruiserweight division was actually quite interesting for a bit, with the arrivals of Rey Mysterio and the likes of Tajiri, Jamie Noble and co putting on some good bouts. Even the women stepped it up. So it certainly wasn't all bad. I think there were definitely elements of the booking that could have been much better or canned completely, but looking a little deeper it probably wasn't the easiest of rosters to work with or build shows around. 

 

 

 

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