OSR: WWE WrestleMania 18 Review (2002)

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OSR: WWE WrestleMania 18 Review

Back in 2002, the WWE returned north of the border to Toronto, Ontario. For the first time since 1990, WrestleMania came from the SkyDome. In front of 68, 237 Hollywood Hogan made his return to WrestleMania in the months following the conclusion of “The Alliance”. Relive the events of 2002 as Hulkamania ran wild all over Toronto in the WWE WrestleMania 18 Review…

Inside the SkyDome, the show opened with Saliva performing the theme song for the show as a montage depicting the opening package was then shown. The official opening was then showed as various superstars discussed the importance of WrestleMania to them.

Going back inside the SkyDome, the commentary team for the event was Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Without any further introductions, it was then up to the ring for the first match of the night. 

1. WWE Intercontinental Championship: William Regal (c) vs. Rob Van Dam

RVD made his way out first, receiving a good reaction and was soon enough joined by Regal to an average reaction. However, there wasn’t any history package or montage for this match which struggled giving it relevance.

Anyhow, the match began quickly with RVD taking it to Regal who attempted to use the brass knuckles very early on in the match. They were quickly kicked off his hand by RVD, who quickly grounded him and went for the Five Star Frog Splash which he missed.

This allowed Regal to gain control of the match, and used a whole variety of wrestling holds to dominate RVD. After Regal went to retrieve the brass knuckles, he was thwarted by the referee.

This allowed him to be taken down by RVD with a kick and was ultimately nailed with the Five Star Frog Splash to pick up the win, in what was a good opening match which showed a nice contrast of styles.

Winner: Rob Van Dam, to capture the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Match Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

2. WWE European Championship: DDP (c) vs. Christian

Christian made his way to the ring first, and was announced as being from Tampa, Florida which generated him a lot of heat from the crowd before DDP mades his way to the ring with his very bizarre “happy man” gimmick.

The action quickly got underway, but nothing memorable really happened throughout the match and was easily seen as filler material. Eventually, DDP was able to pick up the win to retain the championship. Afterwards, Christian had a temper tantrum in the ring to the amusement of everyone.

Winner: DDP, to retain the WWE European Championship

Match Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

3. WWE Hardcore Championship: Goldust (c) vs. Maven

Goldust made his way out first, and quickly gatherd an ensemble of weapons from under the ring. Maven then made his way to the ring with virtually no reaction. As he entered the ring, he was quickly attacked by Goldust and the action started on the outside of the ring.

The action was a little bit back and forth between men, but a spot involving a double trash can shot saw the appearance of Spike Dudley. This took advantage of the 24/7 Rule for the Hardcore Title, and pinned Maven to pick up the win and become the new champion.

Crash Holly soon made an appearance in an effort to do the same thing, but quickly disappeared through the crowd after Spike with Maven and Goldust following them in close pursuit.

Match Rating: No real finish, so not worth it.

4. Kurt Angle vs. Kane

Kurt made his way to the ring first, and cuts a great promo on the audience about the Olympics. He went onto say how he is the Big Red, White and Blue Machine before Kane then made his way to the ring, but was quickly taken down by Kurt with the ring bell.

Kurt was dominant in the early moments with a variety of moves, but Kane used his power to comeback and take down Kurt. The match remained very back and forth, but Kurt showed an impressive side with a variety of suplex moves to maintain his dominance over Kane.

Kane nonetheless displayed equally impressive who displayed great agility. Kurt eventually picked up the win following a roll through with his feet on the ropes. Now, that was a really enjoyable match but I cannot help but think it was quite restricted and could have being massively better.

Winner: Kurt Angle

Match Rating: 3.0 out of 5.0 Stars

5. No Disqualification: The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair

A pretty good promo was shown highlighting the intense promo which was built up over such a short period of time between both men. It was a real testament to what they can achieve with little scope. Back in the SkyDome , The Undertaker made his way to the ring to the ring first.

Flair quickly made his way to the ring to a good reaction. He then quickly took it to Taker with various punches, but Taker was able to use his strength and power to bring down Flair. It was nice to see some signature Flair moves throughout, as both men were busted open early on.

Arn Anderson eventually interfered nailing Taker with his traditional spine buster, which allowed a near finish for Flair. Taker quickly took out Arn, and nailed Flair with a Tombstone to pick up the win in a really enjoyable match. One of Flair’s more enjoyable matches in his second WWE run.

Winner: Ric Flair

Match Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

6. Booker T vs. Edge

Booker made his way out first, followed by Edge to an absolutely incredible reaction. The match got underway, and was quite back and forth between both men, but nothing really of interest.

The backstory seemed quite flimsy for this match and made it difficult to invest in, therefore it could have being conceived as filler match material. After several minutes of back and forth action, Edge was able to pick up the win.

The match, was passable and average  but could have easily being so much better with a decent backstory and in-ring choreography. As you’d expect it to deliver so much more, it did leave a slightly bitter after taste.

Winner: Edge

Match Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0 Stars

7. Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall (w/ Kevin Nash)

The promo was shown for the feud between Stone Cold Steve Austin and the NWO, particularly Scott Hall. Both men made their way to the ring, with Austin initially taking the action to Hall but was soon overcome.

Hall used his ring awareness to maintain control over Austin, who eventually nailed a stunner to Hall. Nash attacked the referee, which allowed him and Hall to double team Austin. Eventually, Austin was able to pick up the win from Hall following a stunner.

One thing from this match was how the stunner was used almost as a secondary move, considering the number of times it was executed. The match, was painfully mediocre and really didn’t have any good qualities about it. Sadly…could have delivered so much more.

Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Match Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

8. WWE Tag Team Championship – Four Corners Elimination Match: Billy and Chuck (c) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) (w/ Stacy Keibler) vs. The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy)

Each team made their way to the ring, which bar the Hardy Boyz were to very timid reactions. The action got underway with Chuck Palumbo and Billy Gunn going for Bradshaw who seemed to hold his own. Faarooq was soon tagged in allowing Billy and Chuck to gain the momentum.

The APA were the first team eliminated, after Bradshaw was pinned following a 3D. The action then continued with all three teams going at it. The next team eliminated were The Dudley Boyz.

This was soon followed by Billy and Chuck retaining the championship after getting the victory over Jeff Hardy. This was a so-so match, but didn’t really have anything about it or the depth to make you care about what was going on.

Winner: Billy and Chuck, to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship

Match Rating: 1.5 out of 5.0 Stars

9. Hollywood Hogan vs. The Rock

The promo was shown which looked at Hogan’s return to the WWE after a 9 year exile. The Rock then challenged Hogan to a dream match, which was accepted and the feud intensified with lots of dirty tactics over the following weeks.

Hogan made his way to the ring first, to an absolutely incredible reaction before The Rock made his way out to a thunderous ovation of boos. As the match got underway, despite  various attempts from The Rock, Hogan was exceptionally dominant taking it to The Rock.

Whilst performing the role of the heel, Hogan was effectively the baby face in the match as the fan reaction dictated. Whilst the match quality was predictably mediocre, it was the chemistry and reactions from the performers and crowd which ultimately made this match.

Eventually, The Rock was able to win following a People’s Elbow. After the match, The Rock began his celebration to the disdain of the audience. He and Hogan then shook hands, leading to Hogan being attacked by Hall and Nash.

The Rock returned to the ring, and helped Hogan take out Nash and Hall. Afterwards, Hogan posed for the fans with his usual routine in what was an absolutely incredible moment.

Winner: Hollywood Hogan

Match Rating: 4.0 out of 5.0 Stars

10. WWE Women’s Championship – Triple Threat Match: Jazz (c) vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus

Jazz and Lita both made their way to the ring first, to quite timid reactions. Trish then made her way to the ring, receiving a pretty cool reaction for a hometown superstar. The match began with Lita and Trish double teaming Jazz, but she was soon able to use her power to overcome them both.

The match was actually quite mediocre, it was slightly obvious that they were using the Star Power of Lita and Trish to elevate Jazz. Eventually, Jazz picked up the win after she pinned Lita. Easily filler match material which didn’t have anything about it sadly.

Winner: Jazz, to retain the WWE Women’s Championship

Match Rating: 1.0 out of 5.0 Stars

11. WWE Undisputed Championship: Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Triple H

Oddly, because the promo for this feud was shown earlier in the evening we returned straight to the SkyDome. Triple H then made his way to the ring. From the outset, it was emphasized the damage caused to his quadriceps by Y2J who then made his way to the ring with Stephanie McMahon.

Y2J was fairly dominant in the match, and used a variety of moves to keep Triple H down whilst he exploited the “injury”. Eventually, Steph tried to interfere on Y2J’s behalf, but was ultimately nailed with a pedigree for her troubles. This received a nice pop from the crowd.

He then nailed Y2J with a pedigree after countering an aerial maneuver. This allowed him to pick up the win and captured the championship to an incredible reaction. Really decent match, but was overshadowed massively by other happenings on the show. Still enjoyable nonetheless.

Winner: Triple H, to capture the WWE Undisputed Championship

Match Rating: 3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

WWE WrestleMania 18 Review

WWE WrestleMania 18 was a really interesting one to look at objectively. There were some matches which truly delivered above and beyond the expectation of them, whereas others you thought would have didn’t. Hogan and The Rock went completely beyond expectations, the “wrestling” quality wasn’t great but the chemistry and atmosphere made the match. In all honesty, it should have gone on last because that was the true defining moment of WrestleMania 18 and the part everyone remembers.

Other good matches on the card was the championship match between Chris Jericho and Triple H, which was overshadowed massively by The Rock and Hogan. Nevertheless, it was still a really good match and told really well. Another cracker was The Undertaker and Flair, which is another which went completely above and beyond expectations. This was probably Flair’s best match in 2002, and at that point his best match in years. Whilst Kurt Angle and Kane as well as Rob Van Dam and William Regal were enjoyable, you cannot help but think they could have easily being better with some more backstory and slightly different choreography to the match.

Edge and Booker T on the other hand, was dreadful and not what you’d expect. For me, probably the worst match on the card. But the good matches do outweigh the negative matches, and I’d certainly recommend watching this one. This can be done as part of you 9.99 Subscription fee to the WWE Network!

Image Credit: TJR Wrestling.net & CultureofWhatever.com

About Dave Harper 849 Articles
Dave Harper is a writer for Wrestling's Dirty Deeds. Born a Brummie, and proud of it...passionate about wrestling, family, friends, good cider and the railway (no I'm not a train spotter)

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