This week Throwback Thursday takes a trip across the pond to jolly old London for a pivotal event in WWF/E history: Insurrextion 2002, as seen on the WWE Network, of course.
By this time in 2002 the controversial “brand expansion” (begun with the March 25, 2002 Draft) was little more than a month old. Many fans were dubious that an in-house competition gimmick could actually work, much less create real competition. But, with their own titles, rosters, and creative teams, the brand extension not only worked it created legitimate competition.
Insurrextion 2002 is significant for a number of reasons. First, this marked the final WWF/E Pay-Per-View in London until 2015 when NXT brought a stellar TakeOver card to Wembley Arena. Secondly, this event was the very first RAW-exclusive event, occurring a full 13-months before Bad Blood 2003. (SmackDown! would host the second brand-exclusive show in October 2002 with Rebellion 2002.) Lastly, and most significantly, this marked the final televised event for the “WWF”. After nearly 13-years of wrestling in the courtroom the World Wildlife Fund, in February 2002, won a decisive victory in a U.K. Court of Appeals that spelled the end of the “World Wrestling Federation”. By the time this event was over WWF.com was WWE.com and the official “Get the ‘F’ Out” campaign was underway. Two-days later, on the May 6, 2002 edition of RAW, “World Wrestling Entertainment” made its worldwide television debut.
As for context, there’s a plentiful supply – all previous editions of RAW and SmackDown!, as well as all previous PPVs, are currently available on the WWE Network.
WWF Insurrextion 2002 (WATCH)
Date: May 4, 2002 – Location: Wembley Arena, London, England
Attendance: 9,308 – PPV Buys: N/A
Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler – Interviews: Terri & Jonathan Coachman
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
Undisputed WWF Champion: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan
WWF Women’s Champion: Jazz
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Eddie Guerrero
WWF European Champion: Spike Dudley
WWF Hardcore Champion: Steven Richards
World Tag Team Champions: Billy & Chuck
WWF Cruiserweight Champion: Tajiri
After the opening vignette mainly focused on the Triple H/Undertaker feud, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show with Ross saying the event sold out in 21-minutes little more than 6-months ago.
As Eddie comes to the ring we see highlights of Eddie defeating Rob Van Dam in a great match from Backlash 2002 to win his second Intercontinental title.
— WWF Intercontinental Championship (WATCH – 1:51)
Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero(c)
This is yet another great match from two guys who gelled in all the right ways. As in their Backlash match the psychology in this one is spot-on as is the pacing. After enduring Guerrero’s leg work RVD makes a big comeback and looks to be well on his way to regaining the Intercontinental title when Guerrero dodges the Five-Star Frog Splash. When Eddie brings the Intercontinental title in the ring the referee tries to take it away from Eddie but gets shoved down for his troubles, resulting in a DQ win for RVD at 13:05. After the match Eddie chases the referee until RVD clobbers Guerrero, hits “Latino Heat” with the title belt, and hits a devastating Five-Star Frog Splash for good measure.
WINNER is Rob Van Dam (Disqualification, 13:05)
Backstage Terri interviews Molly Holly and WWF Women’s Champion Jazz about their upcoming tag match. Molly says that “any woman who would exploit her sacred body is nothing but trash”, and saying that she and Jazz don’t have to take their clothes off “to know the we’re the most beautiful women in the WWF.” Molly says their victory tonight will “be a victory for morality.” Terri says the two are jealous they don’t have what she has and proceeds to unbutton her shirt and show off her breasts!
— Diva’s Tag Team Match (WATCH – 20:59)
Trish Stratus & Jacqueline vs. Molly Holly & WWF Women’s Champion Jazz
Though it’s far from a classic this match isn’t all that bad. The match features some decent tag team psychology and action and is largely non-stop from bell to bell with Jazz and Jacqueline doing some of the better work of the match. In the end Trish and Jacqueline reverse Irish whips with Jacqueline hitting a tornado DDT and Trish hitting Stratusfaction for the simultaneous pin at 7:42.
WINNERS are Trish Stratus & Jacqueline (Pin, 7:42)
Backstage X-Pac is twirling his nunchucks and telling Scott Hall he can’t wait “to get my hands on that big dumb Texan.” X-Pac says he’s still upset about being beaten with his feet on the ropes and wants to do to Bradshaw what he did to Kane, vowing to defeat Bradshaw or never step foot in the U.K. Again. X-Pac tells Hall to stay behind, that X-Pac has to “do this one myself.” Hall wonders why X-Pac would want to come back to the U.K. even if he does win.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 32:27)
Bradshaw vs. X-Pac
Before the match X-Pac loosens one of the turnbuckle pads and before long uses the exposed turnbuckle to reopen a cut on Bradshaw’s forehead. The bloodied, weakened Bradshaw tells much of the story in this one. Scott Hall comes out late in the match and wallops Bradshaw with X-Pac’s nunchucks but Bradshaw fights on. X-Pac ducks the Clothesline from Hell, which hits Scott Hall by mistake, goes low on Bradshaw before finishing Bradshaw with the X-Factor at 8:48.
WINNER is X-Pac (Pin, 8:48)
Next Jonathan Coachman interviews The Undertaker about the main event. Taker says he’s in a bad mood and plans on giving Triple H the same beating Taker gave Hulk Hogan. Taker says that Triple H loves the wrestling business but that for Taker the wrestling business allows him to “beat the hell outta people. You know why? Because I like to.” Undertaker closes by saying that Triple H’s dreams and hopes for revenge will “rest in peace.”
As WWF Hardcore Champion Steven Richards makes his way to the ring we see highlights of Richards pinning Bubba Ray Dudley after a guitar shot on the previous edition of RAW to win the Hardcore title.
— WWF Hardcore Championship (WATCH – 47:26)
Booker T vs. Steven Richards
This one is more of a dull wrestling match than a hardcore match. Booker T hits a crushing Book End on Richards to win his first Hardcore title at 10:49, ending Richards 6th reign. But, as Booker T celebrates, Crash Holly runs in and school boys Booker to steal the title for the 17th time only to get caught taunting by Booker T who pins Crash to win his 2nd Hardcore title. Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer run in next but Booker T fights them off. After a spinarooni Jazz hits Booker T low which allows Steven Richards to put Booker T through a table to regain the Hardcore title a 7th time at 13:36 to end the match.
WINNER and NEW WWF Hardcore Champion, Steven Richards (Pin, 13:36)
Next we see highlights of Lesnar’s WWF PPV debut against Jeff Hardy from Backlash 2002 and Lensar’s destruction of Matt Hardy the next night on RAW. Backstage Sean Stasiak says he’s too excited to relax with “planet Stasiak and Brock Lesnar as a team, we’ll be unstoppable.” Heyman tells Stasiak to stand on the apron and let Lesnar star and finish the match. “It’s an easy night for Shawn Stasiak!” When Stasiak laughs Heyman tells him that it was the Hardy’s that wanted a tag match, not them. Lesnar gets in Stasiak’s face and tells him that that if he doesn’t listen to Paul “the beating I gave to you on RAW will be like a walk in the park compared to what I do to you tonight.”
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 1:09:04)
The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs. Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman & Shawn Stasiak
This marked Lesnar’s second-only WWF PPV match, for those curious. Stasiak runs past Lesnar and Heyman and starts the match for the team doing alright until Jeff hits a jawbreaker. Lesnar tags himself in and the match turns into a fight between Lesnar and Matt. Lesnar dominates Matt Hardy with one suplex and slam after another until Matt dodges a charging Lesnar and Brock posts himself. Stasiak tags himself in while Matt tags in Jeff. Jeff and Matt take it to Stasiak and knock Lesnar off the apron before Matt hits the Twist of Fate and Jeff closes the show with the Swanton Bomb at 6:43. After the match Lesnar hits Jeff and Matt with an F-5 before hitting Stasiak with the spinning powerbomb.
WINNERS are The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) (Pin, 6:43)
Next we see highlights of the 2nd annual Make-A-Wish “Eve of Insurrextion Charity Dinner”.
In the back Jonathan Coachman interviews William Regal about the forthcoming European title match against Spike Dudley. Regal says he’s a truly great Britain who has “gone out and conquered” but is disgusted by his fellow countrymen. Regal says he’s so pleased to be able to face Spike Dudley and regain the European title and give “these people a little ray of sunshine into their miserable lives.” “You know,” Regal says, “sometimes these people just make me ashamed to be British.”
As Spike Dudley comes out we see highlights of Spike Dudley clobbering Regal with Regal’s own brass knucks to win the European title on the April 8, 2002 edition of RAW.
— WWF European Championship (WATCH – 1:22:49)
William Regal vs. Spike Dudley(c)
This isn’t much of a match. Minutes into the match Spike Dudley suffers an apparent ankle injury. As the trainer and referee try to help Spike to the back Regal comes out and ambushes Spike, tossing Dudley back in the ring where Regal continues to assault on Dudley’s ankle. Regal gets cocky, lifting Spike up at the count of two, before Spike catches Regal with an inside cradle to retain the European title at 4:55. After the match Regal waffles Spike with brass knuckles leading to the officials needing to carry Spike to the back.
WINNER and STILL WWF European Champion, Spike Dudley (Pin, 4:55)
Next we see a vignette detailing the Big Show/Austin feud. Ric Flair, owner of RAW, comes to the ring and says that’s he’ll be the second referee to make sure nothing happens.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:31:56)
Special Guest Referee: RAW owner Ric Flair
The Big Show vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin
This one is built around Austin attacking Big Show’s legs and Big Show using his size to dominate Austin. Though the match is slow at times it’s not at all bad. Featuring some great commentary, psychology and pacing this match is a standout for both men. After Big Show clotheslines the referee Austin hits a Stunner and calls Flair in to make the count. Scott Hall and X-Pac come to ringside and pull Flair out at the count of two only to be run off by a cane-wielding “Nature Boy”. Big Show makes a comeback and clubs Austin until a “suspended” Nash comes to the ring, nunchucks in hand. Austin stuns Nash and then hits two Stunners on Big Show for the win at 16:06. After the match Flair grabs a chair and runs Nash off.
WINNER is Stone Cold Steve Austin (Pin, 16:6)
As Stone Cold celebrates in the ring Ric Flair gets on the mic and tells Austin that Austin’s “the man” and that he promised not to let Stone Cold down. Austin gives Flair the “What” treatment before letting Flair have a beer with him. As Flair drinks the beer the “Nature Boy” gets hit with a Stunner before having a beer poured over his face.
Up next we get a great vignette highlighting the intense Undertaker/Triple H feud.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:00:53)
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
A fight from the opening bell these two legends put on yet another physical, psychological war that broke the ring and left the London crowd begging for more. Forced to call the match on the fly with the broken top rope these two professionals never missed a beat, continuing the match as if they didn’t even need the ropes. In the end Triple H hits a big running high knee before putting Undertaker out with the Pedigree at 14:30.
WINNER is Triple H (Pin, 14:30)
Triple H celebrates the big win as JR and Lawler talk over replays. Undertaker and Triple H taunt one another as the show goes off the air.
Aside from the Spike Dudley/William Regal dud, and the less than thrilling Hardcore title match, Insurrextion 2002 stands as one of the all-time great U.K. WWF/E shows and a pretty fitting final show for the “WWF”.
Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then you can relive Insurrextion 2002 or watch it for the very first time! And, as always, don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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“But, with their own titles, rosters, and creative teams, the brand extension not only worked it created legitimate competition.”
that statement is at very least debatable.
(a lot of people – myself included – would argue that the brand split never created “legitimate” competition. which of course seems only natural considering both “brands” are part of the same big company and that the same people have/had the final say regarding everything. hence we got stories like Heyman’s Smackdown run being sabotaged because certain people in charge within the company felt he did too well in comparison to Raw, the alleged “flagship” show)
Hello whutwhut! I agree the point is debatable and I was thinking more along the lines of what you are referring to. Heyman wanted SD to be the better show and succeeded for some time until he was knocked back down. But the point is there was a competitive drive to win that didn’t exist before the split. I would also point to interviews with some of the talent at the time who say that it was important for them to win and have the better show. By 2003 you could argue that WWE had two distinctly different groups going. RAW was more of a WWE show while SD was more like a wrestling show that happened to be under the WWE banner. If anything SD drove RAW to be a better show and that kind of tide lifted all ships. In the end the fans won.
Thanks for reading whutwhut and taking the time to leave your thoughts, it’s greatly appreciated! Take care!
66 WWE BLU RAYS ONE DOLLAR!!!!!!!
Good show, and I do miss the UK pay-per-views (even if ‘pivotal event in WWF/E history’ is over-stating it somewhat – at the end of the day this was a throwaway UK show which had no title changes or any bearing on storylines).
Okay, apart from the Hardcore Title, but that changed every night, lol.
Hello RabidHeat! I, too, miss the UK PPVs. With the Network you’d think they could do some kind of special over there but to this point it’s just NXT. I don’t think RAWs and SDs and good enough. The UK fans are just as passionate as the American fans. A solid Network special is definitely overdue.
Thanks for reading RabidHeat and leaving your thoughts, I enjoy reading them! Take care!
Terri’s Plastic-Puppies.. get (’em) the F… out -lol-
I wonder, how much.. or should I say more, how little, of the Ruthless Agression and Attitude Era’s women “action” will be covered, on a eventually Women-themed Bluray release.
Segments like this one, the Capital Carnage show from 1998, Trish acting like a dog in the middle of the ring and a huge loads (ehmm..) more of that TV 14 / MA stuff, does not quite fit in the (so called) Women’s revolution that was started back in summer 2014 (funny enough with Stephanie using the B…h word for the first time in several years against one of the Bella’s, can’t never tell the one from the other -lol- )
AnyWHAT.. great UK show, and like you say, Brock.. a worthy ending for the WWF era. 😉
Hello again Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life! I couldn’t agree more strongly about the ladies segments in this show. I haven’t seen this complete event in some time and forgot about a bunch of this stuff. My head was in my hands while watching it. It really is hard to believe that WWE was as bad they were, but they were often worse than you think, if you know what I mean.
I think the WWE 24 on the women’s revolution covered the era appropriately. I can’t help but think just how good that era could have been if they let the ladies wrestle like today and didn’t push the sexuality so much. What I think is truly amazing is the generation of ladies who grew up watching it and wanting to be the exact opposite; to be taken seriously. The one great thing to come from the TV-PG era is the women’s revolution and the (mostly) athletic presentation of the division.
Thanks for reading Ruthless.Attitude.Eras.4Life and, as always, for sharing your thoughts. Take care!