March 14, 2002
Just 72 hours before WrestleMania X8, an explosive episode of SmackDown! emanated from the Gund Arena in Cleveland, with the promise that Triple H would have a huge announcement about WrestleMania before the night was through!
The show opened with a battle of two of the best in-ring technicians in the World Wrestling Federation, as Kurt Angle took on Rob Van Dam. The men brutalized each other with suplexes and a variety of intense maneuvers. Angle soon caught RVD with the ankle lock, but Van Dam kicked out of it, and even rolled Angle into a pinning combination for a two-count. Van Dam went up top for the Five-Star Frog Splash, but Intercontinental Champion William Regal -- Van Dam's WrestleMania opponent -- ran to ringside to distract him. That allowed Angle to jump to the top rope and deliver a stunning belly-to-belly suplex from up top! Angle then again applied the ankle lock, and this time, Van Dam tapped out!
After the bout, Regal stomped away at Van Dam, laying in to his WrestleMania challenger. But as the abuse continued, Kane marched to the ring, only to meet up with Angle on his way!
Angle and Kane slugged it out into the ring, where Kane knocked Angle to the outside. Regal tried to get a piece of Kane, but the Big Red Machine downed the IC Champion with a monstrous chokeslam!
Backstage, Mr. McMahon spoke on his cell phone, saying he couldn't wait for WrestleMania. Ric Flair then entered his locker room, and asked why Vince wanted to see him. Mr. McMahon said he wanted Flair to see the man who had complete authority in the Federation. Vince said that if Flair insisted on competing with Taker at WrestleMania, he was going to make it a no-disqualification bout! But Vince said he was giving Flair the night off on SmackDown! Flair said that if it was all the same to Vince, he would stay and watch the show. Vince said it wasn't all the same to him, and he didn't want he and Taker to cross paths on SmackDown! -- he wanted Flair to be in one piece so he could watch Taker rip him limb from limb at WrestleMania! Vince sent Flair home, and Flair said he would leave, but only out of respect to the board of directors. Before leaving, Flair called Vince a piece of s**t!
Billy, Jeff Hardy, Bubba Ray Dudley and Bradshaw battled it out in a Fatal Fourway Match, just three days before their respective teams get in the ring at WrestleMania for Billy & Chuck's Tag Team Championship! Chuck, Matt Hardy, Lita, D-Von Dudley, Stacy Keibler and Faarooq were all at ringside for this unlikely bout. At one point, Bradshaw held Billy, as Jeff Hardy did the "Wassup!
" headbutt from the top rope! Billy hit the fame-asser on Bradshaw. Moments later, Jeff went for a Swanton Bomb on Billy, but Chuck pulled Billy from the ring, and Jeff missed. As the superstars brawled outside the ring, Billy hit the "One and Only" on Jeff and picked up the pinfall with his feet on the ropes! After the bout, Lita hit Billy with a top-rope Litacanrana, and Stacy then attacked Lita, and the two women went at it! As Billy & Chuck headed back to the locker room, the other six superstars brawled it out in the ring!
Lilian Garcia interviewed Christian, asking why he had turned on Diamond Dallas Page after DDP had helped Christian end his losing streak and had helped him win his match on RAW. Christian said he had won the match on RAW on his own. He said yes, DDP had helped him get back on the winning track, but after he started winning again, he didn't need DDP anymore. Christian said that DDP had used him too -- that maybe if DDP took Christian under his wing, then Christian would forget that DDP took his European Championship. As Christian spoke, DDP snuck up behind him, and said that Christian should have just asked for a rematch for the European Title. DDP suggested that the two meet this Sunday at WrestleMania, and Christian agreed. DDP said it would be a good thing! Christian smiled and walked away.
Lita was in her locker room when she was approached by Trish Stratus, who apologized for accidentally kicking her on RAW.
Lita said it was no problem, but there would be no accidents at WrestleMania when she walked out as Women's Champion. Trish said that she would be the one winning the Women's Championship -- and the two then got into a slapping match, which turned into an all-out brawl in the locker room!
Vince McMahon was again talking on the cell phone in his office when there was a knock at door, and this time, it was Ric Flair's oldest son, David! Vince said David looked better than the last time he saw him, when Undertaker beat the hell out of him on last week's episode of RAW. Vince said he called David because he was giving David the opportunity of a lifetime. Vince said that on SmackDown!, David Flair would be taking on the Undertaker! David asked if Vince was nuts, saying he wasn't going to fight Taker. He thanked Vince for the opportunity, but said he would pass. Vince told David that this was his chance to become a bona fide superstar and to follow in his dad's footsteps. Vince said David had no choice, because to be the man, you've gotta beat the man! As David left, Vince celebrated the making of the match, and moments later, the Undertaker entered Vince's locker room with a huge smile on his face! He shook Vince's hands and thanked the boss.
Next up, Al Snow defended the Hardcore Championship against the Big Show! Snow held his own with the 500-pounder, even rolling his bowling ball between Show's legs, right into the 7-footer's crotch!
Show soon downed Snow with a huge chokeslam, but was attacked by Goldust when he went for the pin! Maven then ran to the ring as Goldust clocked Snow with a trashcan lid! Show knocked Goldust to the outside, and Maven dropkicked Show to the outside. Maven then covered his own mentor and won the Hardcore Championship!
Hollywood Hulk Hogan headed for the ring, just 72 hours before he returns to WrestleMania for the first time in nine years. Hogan said he had seen a lot through the years. He said he'd seen every "next big thing" step through the ring and say they would kill Hulkamania. He singled out Roddy Piper, the Ultimate Warrior and Andre the Giant as men who failed to kill Hulkamania. He said they all fell victim to the same thing that Rock fell victim to on RAW -- the big boot and the legdrop. Hollywood then showed the footage from RAW.
Hogan said the only thing that ever came close to killing Hulkamania was the Hulkamaniacs. He said that when the people decided to leave him, they almost killed it. But he said that he realized one thing -- that he didn't need the fans. He said the Hulkamaniacs could not kill Hulkamania, and he had proved that on Monday night. Hollywood then showed the footage from Monday night a second time!
Hollywood then said he had a special treat for any newer fans -- and he again showed the footage from Monday night, this time in slow motion!
Hogan said he knew Rock thought he was the exception to the rule.
He said that when he beats Rock at WrestleMania, a terrifying thought would enter Rock's mind -- he would realize that he was ordinary and common, just like the fans! Hogan said that Rock was just like the millions and millions of Rock's fans who thought they could put Hogan out, only to fall victim to Hollywood!
Hogan then asked for the footage to roll one more time -- but instead of the footage, out came The Rock to a huge ovation! The People's Champion said Hogan was wrong about one thing -- unlike any other man Hogan had ever faced, Rock could care less about Hulkamania. Rock said as far as he was concerned, Hulkamania was a fantasy in Hogan's mind. Rock said Hogan lived in a fantasy world. But he said this Sunday was a reality. He said Hogan could beat him in a tag or run him down in a semi, but there was no way Hogan would win at WrestleMania.
Hollywood said Rock could talk a great game, but told Rock to realize that talk was cheap. He said Rock would be getting in the ring with him, who had beaten him for the 1-2-3. Hogan admitted that Rock was better than the rest, and that the two of them were responsible for the biggest match in the history of wrestling. Hogan said there was just one question that he had asked of every opponent -- "Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?" Hogan then tore his shirt off!
Rock stared down Hollywood, and said he would tell him what he was going to do. Rock then walked to the ring and stood nose-to-nose with Hogan.
Rock said that this Sunday at WrestleMania, he would put an end to Hogan's legend, and would go down in history as being the best ever. Rock said if he were Hogan, he would say his prayers, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin'! The two men dropped their microphones and stared each other down, until Hogan took a few steps back and left the ring.
In tag action, Booker T and Test took on Edge and Tajiri, accompanied to the ring by Torrie Wilson. Edge hit the Edge-ecution on Test, but Booker caught Edge with a scissors kick and picked up the pinfall! After the bout, Test held up Edge and forced him to watch Booker do the spinerooni! Booker then hit a kick to the back of Edge's head for good measure!
Backstage, Coach interviewed Stone Cold Steve Austin about his match with Scott Hall at WrestleMania. Austin said he wasn't nervous because it wasn't his first WrestleMania. He said Scott Hall had pissed him off. He said he would go into Toronto and open a can of whoopass on the sumbitch. He said he was going to WrestleMania to whip a man's ass and give him a Stunner for the win.
As Stone Cold spoke, Scott Hall headed to the stage, totally interrupting the Texas Rattlesnake. Hall addressed Austin, saying Stone Cold didn't have to hide in the back. He said Austin was telling the whole world what he was going to do to Scott Hall. Hall said maybe he should show the whole world just what Scott Hall did to him on Monday's RAW.
He then showed the footage of him kicking Austin's butt on Monday night.
Back in the ring, Hall said he heard from Austin that he was the toughest S.O.B. in the Federation. He challenged Austin to prove it. He said that if Austin had something to say to him, he should say it to his face. He said he wasn't going anywhere until Austin came out, and moments later, Austin's music hit!
A referee briefly ran out to the stage, and Kevin Nash was apparently waiting next to the stage with a steel chair, because Nash thought the ref was Austin and went after him with the chair! Realizing it wasn't Stone Cold, Nash ran from the stage, and Stone Cold then attacked Hall from behind in the ring! The Rattlesnake dropped Hall with a Stunner and flipped him off, before Nash chased Austin away with the steel chair!
Backstage, Stephanie McMahon talked to Chris Jericho, asking what he thought Triple H's announcement on SmackDown! would be. Y2J said The Game would probably announce his retirement. Stephanie said it was like music to her ears. Jericho said that the sound of the sledgehammer hitting Triple H's leg and The Game's screams were like music to his ears. Stephanie said it was like deja vu -- the same as when Triple H first tore his quad 10 months ago. Stephanie said it was all thanks to Y2J. Jericho said that when Triple H did announce his retirement later in the night, he wanted he and Stephanie to be there up close and personal.
Next up, the Undertaker met David Flair.
Taker had a smirk on his face as David headed to the ring, and David was clearly overmatched against the American Badass. As the abuse continued, Ric Flair ran to the ring and attacked Taker, ending the bout in a DQ! Taker met Ric Flair with a boot and knocked him to the outside, and as David went after Taker, Taker knocked him down with a punch. Taker then went to give David the Last Ride, but Ric hit Taker with a steel chair to save his son.
Walking with a limp, Triple H headed to the ring, set to make his huge announcement. The Game said he stood in the ring to make an unfortunate announcement -- unfortunate for Chris Jericho! He said that Y2J did not get the job done. He said 10 months ago, Y2J had put him in the Walls of Jericho on the announce table after he tore his quad trying to take him out of the business, but Jericho had failed. He said that Jericho had tried again on Monday night, and again had failed.
Triple H said he was 100 percent, and there was something Jericho didn't realize -- that pain is temporary, but The Game is forever. He said this Sunday, he would go to WrestleMania's main event, and he would kick Jericho's ass and become the Undisputed World Champion.
As The Game continued to speak, Jericho's music filled the arena, and out came Y2J and Stephanie. Jericho mockingly clapped for Triple H, saying it was a great performance.
But he asked Triple H if he was actually certain that he was ready to face the living legend in the main event of WrestleMania for the most prestigious title in history. He said maybe Triple H was lying to himself and to the fans. He said Stephanie and he thought Triple H wasn't being completely honest.
Stephanie took the microphone, and said that Hunter never was a very good liar. She said she had called Dr. Jim Andrews on Tuesday morning -- the same doctor who repaired Triple H's torn quad last May. She said the doctor was sad to hear about their marital problems, and was even sorrier to give Stephanie the prognosis. Andrews told her he had gotten a call from the orthopedic surgeon in Detroit who had checked on Triple H after RAW. Dr. Andrews told her that Triple H's quad was barely held together by wires, and the sledgehammer shot had put The Game's leg in such bad shape that one false move, and the wires could snap. Dr. Andrews said that The Game shouldn't compete again for at least a month. Stephanie said that one miscalculation by The Game at WrestleMania could end his career forever.
Y2J told Triple H also to think about the fact that Hunter and Lucy had a lot in common now -- they both had bum legs. He said The Game would forever walk with a limp thanks to the Undisputed Champion. He told Hunter to get it through his thick skull that he had taken The Game out of action for eight months.
Jericho took credit for all the hell that Triple H went through, and said all the rehab was for nothing, since he said he would end Triple H's career at WrestleMania.
Triple H said Stephanie proved she was a lot smarter than she looks by calling Andrews. The Game admitted that he wasn't 100 percent, and that the doctors had said that his quad was hanging on by a thread, and that one mistake and his career was over. But The Game added that this Sunday, he didn't care if it was his last step or his last match or his last damn breath -- he would be at WrestleMania to stand across the ring from Chris Jericho. And he said when he left WrestleMania, he would do so as the Undisputed Champion! Triple H said that he was The Game, and he was that damn good!
Jericho then made a beeline for the ring, and he and Triple H slugged it out! Hunter knocked Y2J to the outside, but as he did so, he came up limping. The two fought on the outside, and then Triple H pulled the top off the announce table. As he did so, Stephanie snuck up from behind and kicked his injured leg. Stephanie tried to run away, but The Game caught her and tossed her on the announce table. He was about to Pedigree her through the table when Jericho smacked The Game in the leg with the Undisputed Title.
Stephanie scrambled away to safety as Jericho climbed onto the announce table and locked Triple H in the Walls of Jericho -- just as he did 10 months ago, when Hunter first tore his quad!The Game tapped out as Stephanie talked smack to her soon-to-be ex-husband. Jericho stood above a fallen Triple H as SmackDown! went off the air!