Raw is War
Albany, New York
April 1, 2002
A new era began in the World Wrestling Federation on April 1, 2002, with the first Ric Flair-led RAW, complete with new logos, new music, a new set and a new World Wrestling Federation Championship belt!
As the show opened, Flair was seen holding the new World Wrestling Federation Championship belt. Flair said he would do anything in his power to make RAW the best show ever -- including doing everything within his power to make sure that Stone Cold Steve Austin signed with RAW! Flair said it would also be his honor to present the new title to Triple H!
The sold-out crowd at the Pepsi Arena rose to its feet as Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam headed to the ring. RVD defended his title against Booker T. RVD wore Booker down with kicks and elbows, but Booker roared back with kicks and slams of his own. With Booker in control, the fans started an "RVD" chant. RVD battled back, hitting Booker with a top-rope kick for a two-count. Booker went for a scissors kick on RVD, but RVD reversed, and then went for Rolling Thunder but missed. Booker hit a Spinerooni, and then nailed a scissors kick, but RVD kicked out at two!
Booker chopped away at Van Dam, and the men traded near-falls. Booker hit a kick to RVD's face, and then went for a top-rope superplex. But Van Dam knocked Booker down, and nailed the Five-Star Frog Splash! RVD then pinned Booker for the win and a successful title defense!
As Van Dam celebrated after the match, he was blindsided by Eddie Guerrero, who downed him with a powerbomb, and then hit a frog splash of his own on the Intercontinental Champion!
Suddenly, Vince McMahon appeared at ringside and grabbed a microphone, to a chorus of boos. Vince said he didn't want to interrupt anything, but he was out there for one reason -- to sign Stone Cold to an exclusive contract on SmackDown! Vince said that if he knew Austin, the Rattlesnake would definitely want to hear what Vince had to say. With that in mind, Vince introduced the hottest free agent in the history of the Federation -- Stone Cold.
A few moments passed, but nothing happened -- and Ric Flair sent the program to commercial while Vince was still talking!
When the show came back from commercial, security was out at ringside to confront Vince McMahon. Vince said he had asked for Stone Cold -- not for Ric Flair's security. Vince said the guards were pretty smart to stay outside of the ring, and if they wanted him, they should come in the ring to get him. Vince said he wouldn't leave the ring until Austin signed an exclusive SmackDown! contract.
Suddenly, Ric Flair's music sounded, and out came the Nature Boy to the stage! Vince said that there was an old expression -- money talks, and bulls**t walks, so tonight, he was doing the talking, and Flair would be doing the walking! Vince said Austin would sign his contract, and there was nothing Flair could do about it.
Flair said that unless Vince bought a ticket, McMahon would have a small window of opportunity to get his ass out of the door before security took over. Flair said that as far as money talking, his new set on RAW was proof positive that he was sparing no expense. Vince said he wasn't leaving the ring, and there was nothing Flair's security or Flair could do about it. Vince reminded Flair about the last time the Nature Boy had tried to do something -- last week on SmackDown!, when Vince beat him 1-2-3!
Vince again called for Austin to come out, saying Flair was preventing Stone Cold from hearing what Vince had to say. Flair walked towards the ring, and told Vince to get a grip. Flair then conducted an informal survey of the crowd -- and they overwhelmingly wanted to see Austin on RAW! Flair said that because it was a new era, he was all dressed up, and didn't want to have to take off his coat and kick Vince's ass! Vince left the ring, and said that neither Flair nor anyone else was big enough or bad enough to take Vince out of the ring tonight.
Suddenly, Big Show's music sounded, and the 500-pounded headed to the ring! Flair welcomed Vince to RAW, as Show motioned for Vince to leave the ring. Vince shook his head no, as the crowd chanted "Na na na na goodbye!" Vince told Show he knew who he was, but Show should remember that he was Vince McMahon! Show then grabbed Vince by the throat, picked him up, and carried him from the ring!
During the break, Show -- still carrying Vince on his back -- threw Vince out of the arena!
Next up, European Champion William Regal took on Spike Dudley in a non-title match. Prior to the bout, the ref checked Regal for brass knucks, but found none -- only to have Regal take brass knucks out of his armpit and put them under a turnbuckle! But moments later, referee Nick Patrick took the knucks -- which he had seen Regal put there -- and put them in his pocket! Regal did not see the ref do this! As the match began, Regal dominated the smaller Spike, but the runt of the Dudley litter would not stay down. Regal brutalized Spike with forearms to the head and a variety of suplexes. The European Champion focused his attack on Spike's neck. Spike fought back with headbutts, and Regal was soon looking for the knucks, but couldn't find them! Spike then caught Regal with the Dudley Dogg and pinned him for the upset win!
The nWo walked backstage, and couldn't believe how Flair treated Vince. The men said they hoped Flair signed Austin, so they could get their hands on him. X-Pac said he also couldn't wait to get his hands on Kane. Suddenly, they found the vacant APA office, and saw that no one was there. They straightened up a bit and made it into an nWo clubhouse. The trio broke open some of the APA's beer and made themselves at home.
Backstage, Bradshaw told Jacqueline how much he missed Faarooq. Crash walked up to the two, getting in Jackie's face, and then telling Bradshaw that there was a problem -- the nWo had taken over Bradshaw's office. Bradshaw said the hell they did, and then he knocked Crash down and set off to solve the problem. Jackie laughed at Crash before walking away.
Trish was talking backstage, when she was approached by Terri, who was reading the new Divas magazine. Terri said Trish had had a nasty attitude since Trish landed the cover of the magazine. Terri said she was the queen of all divas! The two argued until they were approached by Flair, who said he felt some tension, and it needed to be resolved with a match tonight, with the two wrestling in bikinis! Flair said that because they were acting like children, it should be a Paddle on a Pole match! Flair said the first one to get the paddle would be the winner, and then would get to paddle the loser!
Coach interviewed Debra, who was standing outside Stone Cold's locker room. Coach asked Debra what Austin's decision would be, and she said that Steve had not yet made up his mind, but one way or another, Austin would make his decision tonight!
The nWo were spraypainting the APA's former locker room when they were approached by Bradshaw, who was irate! The tough Texan kicked all three of their asses, until he was met by a big boot by Nash, and a chair attack by X-Pac! Nash said now he could have his office back.
The Hardcore Championship was on the line as Raven defended against Bubba Ray Dudley -- on his own for the first time in seven years. Raven brought his shopping cart full of weapons with him to ringside. Outside the ring, Bubba did some juggling with oranges, and then made orange juice on Raven's head! Raven brutalized Bubba with various weapons, but couldn't keep Dudley down. Bubba downed Raven with a Samoan drop, and abused him with a garbage-can lid. Bubba went to the second rope, and Raven downed him with a fire extinguisher. Bubba recovered and hit a second-rope splash on the champion. Bubba set up a chair in the ring, and Raven dropped him face-first onto it! Raven went to DDT him on the chair, but Bubba hit the Bubbabomb and pinned him to win the Hardcore Championship! After the bout, Bubba screamed that the win was for D-Von!
In a limo outside, Vince talked on his cell phone. Vince said that just because Show threw him out, it didn't mean he was leaving. Vince said that Austin would sign his contract before the night was over.
Flair headed to the ring carrying the new Undisputed Championship. Flair said he's said it 1,000 times, but this time he couldn't say it more meaningfully. Flair said the title was the most coveted trophy in pro sports, and it was his honor to present the new title to the Undisputed Champion, Triple H. The Nature Boy said The Game came back from a near career-ending injury and won the title at WrestleMania. He asked the fans to welcome The Game.
Instead of Triple H, however, out came the Undertaker -- Flair's No. 1 draft pick. Taker grabbed a mic and stared down Flair. The American Badass asked if this is how it was going to be -- Flair would draft him No. 1 so he could embarrass Taker whenever he wanted. Taker asked if Flair expected him to sit back and watch Flair give the Undisputed Championship to Triple H.
Taker filled Flair in on a few facts. First, he pointed out that he had beaten Flair at WrestleMania X8. Taker said that one year prior at WrestleMania, he had done the exact same thing to Triple H. Taker said that he had beaten Triple H's ass every time they had fought. Taker said that now, Flair expected him to sit back while he gave the title to Triple H. Taker questioned if Flair was trying to show him up and disrespect him. Taker said that if Flair drafted him No. 1, he would make every day of his life a WrestleMania moment. Taker said it was time for him to live up to his promise, and then took off his jacket.
As Taker took the jacket off, Triple H's music sounded, and down to the ring walked the Undisputed Champion. The Game stared right at Undertaker the whole way to the ring. As he got into the ring, Triple H took his two title belts and handed them to Flair. The Game took a microphone, and told Taker that he was right -- he did beat him at WrestleMania X-Seven. But Triple H said that was then, and this is now. Triple H said that right now, he was the Undisputed Champion, and he had 15 pounds of gold that said Taker couldn't beat his ass again! The Game got right in Taker's face as he spoke.
Taker asked if that was right, and challenged The Game to put his money where his mouth was. Taker suggested that they tangle at Backlash for the Undisputed Championship, and Triple H agreed! But The Game added that he saw no point in waiting -- and he said they should do it right here, right now.
Triple H took his shirt off and was ready to fight, but Taker just stared at him and said Backlash would be just fine. Taker then grabbed the new title from Flair and presented it to The Game, suggesting that Triple H hold onto the title while he still could.
In tag action, the Hardy Boyz took on Mr. Perfect and Boss Man. Perfect and Boss Man isolated Matt, until Matt finally got the tag to Jeff! The Hardys hit Poetry in Motion on Perfect, knocking him from the ring. Boss Man hit a sidewalk slam on Jeff for a two-count, and set Jeff up top for a superplex. But Matt knocked Boss Man down and hit a Twist of Fate. Jeff followed up with a Swanton on Boss Man for the pinfall and the win!
As Matt and Jeff celebrated, Brock Lesnar attacked them from behind and laid Matt out with vicious power moves! Jeff went up top for a hurricanrana, but Brock planted him with a triple powerbomb! Heyman and Brock celebrated after the assault!
The "Paddle on a Pole" bikini match was up next, as the sultry Trish Stratus took on the seductive Terri. Both divas were decked out in incredible bikinis! Trish hit a bulldog on Terri, and grabbed the paddle to win the match. After the bout, Trish was about to spank Terri -- but instead, she was attacked by Molly Holly! After laying out Trish, Molly threw Terri to the outside, and then broke the wooden paddle right over Trish's head!
Back in the parking area, Mr. McMahon spoke on his cell phone, and said he had faith Stone cold would be out soon. He said he had tried to get back in the building, but the Big Show still wouldn't let him in. Vince said that somehow, he would get back in the building to make his case to the Rattlesnake.
Flair was on the phone in his office, and was approached by Stone Cold. Austin shook Flair's hand, and asked if Flair had time to talk. Austin asked why Flair wouldn't let Vince in the building. Flair said he didn't want Vince to screw around, and Austin said he wanted Vince in the building. Stone Cold said it was only fair to let Vince have his say. Austin said that after the next match, he would go with Flair and Vince to the ring, and would make up his mind tonight.
Next up, Kane took on X-Pac of the nWo -- his former Tag Team Championship partner. X-Pac was accompanied to ringside by Hall and Nash. X-Pac attacked Kane from behind right after the opening bell, and brutalized the Big Red Machine with kicks. But Kane used his size to his advantage, and soon had X-Pac reeling. Kane press-slammed X-Pac down, but X-Pac soon met him with an enziguiri. The Big Red Machine roared back, and soon went for the top-rope clothesline. But Hall distracted Kane, and X-Pac dropkicked him from the top rope to the outside.
With X-Pac distracting the ref, Hall attacked Kane. X-Pac leapt to the outside, but Kane caught him, only to be met by a Nash boot to the face. X-Pac faked a knee injury to distract the ref as Hall and Nash went to work on Kane on the outside.
With the Big Red Machine back in the ring, X-Pac went to work. X-Pac soon went for a pin, but Kane picked out, throwing X-Pac all the way to the outside! X-Pac hit a top-rope dropkick, and continued with the kicks. Hall held Kane as X-Pac nailed the Bronco Buster. But Kane soon rose to his feet and clotheslined X-Pac down, soon hitting a powerslam as well. Kane went against the ropes, but Hall pulled his leg. Kane then went to the outside and punched Hall, and then went up top and hit a clothesline on X-Pac. As Kane went for the chokeslam, he was attacked by Hall and Nash, ending the bout in a disqualification. But Bradshaw ran down to save Kane, and the two superstars cleaned house on the nWo!
Backstage, security allowed Vince back into the arena.
Flair was in the ring when the show came back from commercial, holding a contract in his hand. The Nature Boy was preparing to introduce Austin, but instead, out strutted Mr. McMahon, holding a contract of his own.
Vince said that Flair seemed a little upset to see him. He asked if it was because Austin himself had insisted on Vince's presence. Vince asked Flair if he was prepared to lose again. Vince said Austin was looking for leadership and business savvy. Vince reminded everyone that it was his intellectual sperm that fertilized the egg that became sports entertainment. Vince said it was his business acumen where he could see that fans would assemble and watch mega-events on Pay-Per-View. Vince said that was him, not Flair. Vince said it was he who recognized that the Federation wouldn't just be a national phenomenon, but a global brand of entertainment. Vince said that those were the things that Stone Cold was contemplating. Vince said it was also him that realized that the Ringmaster wouldn't cut it, and introduced Stone Cold to the world. Vince said Stone Cold would sign his contract -- and suddenly, out came the Texas Rattlesnake!
Vince said he liked Austin's T-shirt, and Austin said he didn't give a rat's ass about Vince's intellectual sperm. He asked Vince if he had a contract for him, and Vince said yes. He asked Vince if he wanted him to walk away from Flair. Austin asked Vince to say something, but the people wouldn't let Vince speak, continually saying, "What?" The crowd started chanting "A$$hole," and Austin pointed it out!
The Rattlesnake said that Vince had made his life a living hell for years, and asked if Vince expected him to forget about that. Stone Cold then walked over to Flair and asked if he wanted him to sign the contract. Flair said yes, and then Austin asked if Vince wanted him to sign his contract, and Vince said yes.
Austin flipped off Vince, and said that he was intrigued by both offers. Austin said he respected what both men had done in the business. He said he had a lot of success when Vince was the boss. Austin held out his hand for Vince to shake -- he said he would sign Vince's contract and that they had a deal! The two men shook hands, and Vince said Austin wouldn't regret it.
Austin went over to Flair and said no disrespect, but business was business. He shook Flair's hand, and then asked Vince if he had a pen. Vince got the pen, and Vince said he hoped there were no hard feelings with Flair now that Austin had seen the light. Flair said he would always hate Vince.
Austin took Vince's contract and asked where he signed at. Vince showed him, and Austin asked if it was all official. Stone Cold said he had one other thing to tell Vince about the contract -- April Fools! Austin then gave Vince a Stone Cold Stunner, and Flair celebrated that Austin would be on RAW! Flair got a couple of beers, and the two men toasted. Flair screamed "Woo!" and poured a beer on Vince, but Austin held out his beer can to toast, but Flair was too busy celebrating to toast Austin, so Austin gave Flair a Stunner!
Austin then signed Flair's contract for RAW! The Rattlesnake celebrated his new contract with a few beers, and with another Stunner on Vince! Austin downed another celebratory beer as RAW went off the air!