On the heels of Brock Lesnar’s return to the UFC and “The Beast’s” impending return to SummerSlam, Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com revisits one of Brock Lesnar’s most defining victories in WWE with the help of the WWE Network.
Taped 14 years ago today, SmackDown! #155 featured “The Next Big Thing” going one-on-one with “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan with a shot at The Rock and the Undisputed WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2002 at stake in a classic battle of youth versus experience.
How well does it hold up? Let’s see! By the way, context isn’t an issue at all – all previous Monday Night RAW, SmackDown!, and PPVs, are currently available on the Network.
WWE SmackDown! #155 (WATCH)
Date: August 4, 2002 (AIRED: Aug. 8, 2002) – Location: Richmond Coliseum, Richmond, Virginia
Attendance: <9,500 – Rating: 2.7
Commentators: Michael Cole & Tazz
Interviews: Mark Loyd
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME (SmackDown!):
Undisputed WWE Champion: The Rock
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Chris Benoit
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble w/Nidia
WWE Women’s Champion: Molly Holly
The show opens with a vignette highlighting Hulk Hogan’s ability to persevere in the face of daunting odds. The happy music and nostalgia gives way to the ferocity and power of “The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar, who is “driven by greed and power”, and who is hellbent on ending “Hulkamania” forever. Can Hulk Hogan beat the odds one more time? It’s time to find out!
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 3:02)
Kurt Angle vs. John Cena
This angle with the “Olympic gold medalist” put John Cena on the map. In fact, it was against Kurt Angle on the June 27, 2002 edition of SD! that Cena made his WWE TV debut. There’s no “Thuganomics” here, no Five Knuckle Shuffles or FUs, just a green kid looking to make a name for himself. This is just a straight up match, mistakes and all. Angle is still fuming over what happened the week before, but more on that later. Cena appears to be on the verge of winning via countout when Chris Benoit runs in and puts the rookie in the Crippler Crossface, giving Cena the win by DQ at 8:18. After the match Rey Mysterio takes out Benoit, Eddie Guerrero takes out Rey, and Edge takes out Eddie and Angle as the fans go wild. Great way to open the show.
WINNER is John Cena (Disqualification, 8:18)
Backstage Mark Loyd asks Eddie and Benoit why they left RAW for SmackDown! when Angle shows up and tells them he’s the “master of submission” on SD!. Benoit says they came to SD! for “real competition”. Eddie lays out the challenge to take on the three new SD! stars later in the show. Angle agrees.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 16:58)
Reverend D-Von w/Batista vs. “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry
Before the match we see highlights of last week’s show where Batista dropped Rikishi with a spinebuster. As for the match, D-Von can’t compete with the strength of Henry, though D-Von manages to get in a bit of offense. Henry hits a standing sidekick and follows up with a massive powerslam for the win at 2:48.
WINNER is “The World’s Strongest Man” Mark Henry (Pin, 2:48)
After the match Batista jumps Mark Henry from behind. When D-Von climbs the ropes for a splash Rikishi makes the save and challenges Batista to an impromptu match.
— “Impromptu Grudge Match” (WATCH – 22:03)
Rikishi vs. Batista w/Reverend D-Von
Batista is all over Rikishi in the early part of this one. Unfortunately interference from Reverend D-Von goes awry and Rikishi connects with a beautiful savate kick for the pin at 2:29, marking Batista’s first loss in the WWE. Post-match Batista and Reverend D-Von argue but make nice.
WINNER is Rikishi (Pin, 2:29)
Backstage Lesnar tells Heyman “The Next Big Thing” is going to Hogan’s locker room to make sure “The Hulkster” really wants to go through with the match, an idea Heyman dislikes. “Paul,” Lesnar says, “either you’re in with this, or you’re not. You make the call.” After a break Lesnar confronts Hogan, who ends up goading Lesnar into putting the number one contendership on the line for SummerSlam. After Lesnar and Heyman have words, Torrie Wilson and Nidia are seen brawling nearby until they’re separated, with Billy Kidman and Jamie Noble getting into it as well.
— Tag Team Match (WATCH – 29:44)
Billy & Chuck (Billy Gunn & Chuck Palumbo) w/Rico vs. Shannon Moore & The Hurricane
At this point in 2002 both teams had been working more on Velocity (the series currently unavailable on the Network) than SD!, facing off on Velocity in the weeks before this match. This is a very good tag team match. Billy Gunn is the ring general here, but everyone looks strong. Chuck sets up Moore for the Code Red but Moore ducks down, rolling Chuck into a victory roll for the win at 4:36 and the big upset.
WINNERS are Shannon Moore & The Hurricane (Pin, 4:36)
Backstage Cena, Edge, and Rey discuss the upcoming six-man tag match. After a break Heyman walks into Stephanie McMahon’s office and tries to talk Stephanie out of putting Lesnar’s number contendership on the line, but Stephanie thinks it’s a stroke of genius and great for SD!.
— “6-Man Tag Team Match” (JIP) (WATCH – 39:56)
Edge, John Cena, & Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, & WWE Intercontinental Champion Chris Benoit
This is a very good match, the kind SD! became famous for in this era. It was also only the third match for Mysterio on WWE TV. Benoit had just won the Intercontinental title on the July 29 RAW and, with Guerrero, defected to SD!. Angle hits the Angle Slam on Cena, who rolls out of the ring. Angle, busy taunting Cena, is hit with Rey’s 619 and West Coast Pop for the upset win at 10:05. Angle is livid!
WINNERS are Edge, John Cena, & Rey Mysterio (Pin, 10:05)
Backstage, Mark Loyd interviews Kurt Angle who is in shock that he was pinned by Rey Mysterio. “I just got beat by a frickin’ 12-year-old,” Angle says, promising to break Rey’s ankle. One of Angle’s most memorable promos ever.
— “Mixed Tag Team Grudge Match” (WATCH – 57:37)
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble & Nidia vs. Billy Kidman & Torrie Wilson
There’s not much to this one. Torrie spanks Nidia and delivers a few chops before Jamie Noble grabs Torrie’s foot, distracting Wilson long enough for Nidia to use the schoolgirl (and a handful of tights) for the pin at 1:59.
WINNERS are WWE Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble & Nidia (Pin, 1:59)
Dawn Marie goes to find Stephanie to deliver “time sensitive legal papers” but Stacy Keibler is in the office instead. Stacy takes the papers and hides them under the couch. When Stephanie comes in Stacy lies and end up giving the papers to Eric Bischoff, who was hiding in the office the entire time.
Next we get a classic Hulk Hogan promo about beating the odds and facing The Rock at SummerSlam, saying it’s not Brock Lesnar that’s unstoppable but “Hulkamania”.
— “Number One Contender’s Match for the Undisputed WWE Championship at SummerSlam 2002” (WATCH – 1:08:24)
“The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan
This match came about after Kurt Angle was DQ’d the week before in a match with Hogan. Hogan starts out strong, but Lesnar takes a breather and gains the advantage and dominates much of the rest of the match. Hogan “hulks up”, no-sells Lesnar’s forearms, hits two big boots, and drops an Atomic Leg Drop on Lesnar for a count of two. Hogan hits a third big boot but is distracted by Heyman. Lesnar attacks and hits the F-5. Lesnar cinches in a bear hug and Hogan begins to bleed from the mouth. Hulk’s arm drops a third time for a huge Lesnar win at 10:04. After the match Lesnar refuses for some time to release the bear hug. Afterwards, Lesnar shoves the referee and kicks at the face of the defeated “Hulkster”.
WINNER and Number One Contender for the Undisputed WWE Championship, “The Next Big Thing” Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman (Submission, 10:04)
Lesnar leaves the ring but comes back, grabbing a steel chair from ringside. After lambasting “Hulkster” with the chair Hogan is split wide open. Lesnar leaves the ring only to come back yet again. Lesnar grabs Hogan by the hair and shouts at him, pie-facing Hulk’s head to the mat. Lesnar looks at Hogan’s blood on his hands before wiping it across his own shoulder and chest; a bloody battle trophy. Lesnar spits on Hogan and leaves the ring, arms held high, as SmackDown! comes to a close with Michael Cole and Tazz wondering if the same fate awaits The Rock at SummerSlam.
Featuring a great 6-man tag, a solid opener between John Cena and Kurt Angle, and a decent tag team match, SD! #155 is far more than a one match show. The show itself holds up extremely well and features an edge the current product tries hard to shy away from. This was an era when SD! was beginning to be viewed as the better of the two main shows, and it’s not hard to see why.
Do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already, and check out this classic edition of SmackDown!. You won’t be disappointed; though it may make you long for the days when Brock Lesnar was an actual wrestler, not the three or four move “attraction” “The Beast” is today. Either way, it’s a fun ride.
That’s all for this week’s entry into TBT. So, are you already signed up for the WWE Network? Then what are you waiting for?! Check out SD! #155 and let us know what you think.
Until next week, see ya at ringside!
Watch ‘blue brand’ episodes, the SummerSlam PPV, or choose from 5,000 more hours of content on WWE Network. Your first month is 100% FREE! Click here to subscribe to WWE Network.