Wrestling With The Prichard Show is a weekly companion piece to Something to Wrestle With. It’s an in-depth look at some of the show’s many inside jokes, impressions, and entertaining randomness. If you’re looking for the full recap of episode 45, check out Jeff Rush’s complete rundown at PWPodcasts.
By Jeff Rush
Wrestling With The Prichard Show: Judgment Day 2002
2002 wasn’t all that long ago. If you graduated high school then, you’re in the prime of your young adulthood now, still not quite old enough to run for President of the United States. If you just became old enough to run for the high office in 2002, you’re only now entering into middle age. If you were born in 2002, you’re still not old enough to drive.
So much going on in 2002 still holds up today – Gangs Of New York? Still good. Curb Your Enthusiasm? Still funny. Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot? Still a great album.
Why, then, do so many elements of a WWE PPV from 2002 seem out of touch? Is it that the Attitude Era reflected so many flash-in-the-pan trends from the late ’90s like rap-rock and trashy TV talk shows to the point that it just became what WWE was and took several years to fade? The residue from that era clearly remains on the product we were presented in May 2002 – WWE’s Judgment Day.
There was the sleazy aspect: Vince McMahon, CEO of a publicly traded company, repeatedly leering at a much younger woman’s ass. I just don’t see that going over all that well today. People still in love with the Attitude Era will phrase it as “we’ve become too PC as a society.” I’d argue that becoming more politically correct in our daily lives is a good thing. It takes a certain amount of respect for your fellow citizen to want to behave in a PC manner. It makes the world a more pleasant place for more people and also makes us more sensitive to other people’s feelings. The reason Vince’s behavior then feels out of place now, I believe, has to do with the standards we’ve since set as a society – what feels appropriate and what feels disrespectful.
Vince clearly thought he looked cool by acting in such way during this show. I do not believe he would feel that way now.
Then there’s the reckless aspect: It was mentioned during this podcast that on a Raw building up to the Hardy Boyz match with Brock Lesnar, Matt and Jeff delivered numerous stiff chair shots to Lesnar’s skull. Bruce even suggests that it was Lesnar’s idea to be hit so hard. Obviously, we know much more now regarding concussions than we did in 2002. For me, it’s one of the toughest things to watch when trying to enjoy late ’90s/early ’00s wrestling. It took a long time for WWE to move on from chair shots to the head, but fortunately, they have. If only they could now do something about top rope head butts.
To be fair, there were other parts of Judgment Day 2002 that hold up extremely well: Great matches like Eddie vs. RVD and Edge vs. Angle. It was also fun to watch a still-in-his-prime Steve Austin and a still-can-go Ric Flair.
And then there was Billy & Chuck.
Man, 2002 was a long time ago.
10. Johnny Ace stammers.
9. Paul Heyman shills furniture.
8. Vince implores Paul Heyman to maintain his hair.
7. Spanish announce team reminds viewers of the WWF/WWE name change.
6. Vince rationalizes having to change his company’s name.
5. Cornette sings the praises of Rico.
4. Vince wants a new song for the Undertaker.
3. JR calls a cage match.
2. Cornette explains Hell In A Cell.
1. Vince welcomes us to the “NFE.”
I Don’t Know When We’ll Talk About Them Again
Maven: Maven was the men’s winner of the inaugural season of Tough Enough. He was considered at the time to have the good looks and ability to be a top performer. He would blossom into an inoffensive midcard act, but something about his character never clicked. The women’s Tough Enough winner, Nidia, eventually fell into an entertaining role as part of a “trailer trash” gimmick with Jamie Noble and it’s safe to say that persona got over and clicked far better than anything Maven would accomplish. Even during his most memorable feud – an inexplicable pairing with the Undertaker – something was just off. The angle had a feel, beginning to end, of existing solely to see if the rub from the Undertaker would get Maven over. It didn’t. Perhaps Maven’s legacy, more than anything else, will be as one of the first cookie-cutter “underwear model” types that would inundate the roster in the mid-to-late 00’s.
Chicken Salad Recipe for Unexpected Great Story: Rico Constantino
Rico had a brief two-year run with WWE. He’s remembered mostly for his part in the Billy & Chuck gay wedding angle on Smackdown. Worth noting is arguably his career highlight, which was pinning Ric Flair in a one-on-one match on Raw in 2002. Admittedly, the match took place during a Ric Flair losing streak angle. Furthermore, Ric’s hand was on the rope when his shoulders were counted down. Regardless, the record book shows that Rico has a win over Ric Flair. The point being that Rico, while extremely talented, does not have a very interesting resume in WWE. So when the topic came up on this episode, you’re thinking “ok, what’s next?” But then Bruce hits you with the insane story about the time he needed to motivate Rico backstage and ended up smacking the s**t out of him. It’s a classic story and worth checking out in my show recap (and also listening to the show itself).
I Used To Be Over Recipient: Hulk Hogan
The guys make a point more than once of praising Hulk for being what he was at this stage – an icon, a legend. It’s not so much that he himself was buried in this episode, it’s more an accumulation of the details of his time in the company in 2002 that land him this spot. He was given a title run as a novelty act. According to a theory mentioned in this episode, the only reason that even happened was because Triple H didn’t want to lose to an actual rival like the Rock or the Undertaker. And then, that chokeslam. Honestly, I watched this match again, and it isn’t terrible, in my opinion, as long as you understand what you’re watching. And when viewers have to grade your match on a curve, you might say you used to be over.
No Yob Recipient: Kurt Angle
Kurt Angle gets put over more than anyone else in this episode. His match is the one everyone, including Bruce, remembers most about Judgment Day 2002. It was a stellar match, put over the top by Kurt’s ability to create movement. But what makes the match most memorable is Kurt losing his hair. It was the start of the second phase of his career and a look he would maintain to this day. According to Bruce, it was his idea too. Credit to Edge as well, but Kurt made this match and this show.