By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Tazz def. Mr. Perfect
It boggled my mind while watching this match how WWE did next to nothing with Mr. Perfect upon his return to the company in the Royal Rumble match. He looked no different than he did in the late '80s! They essentially wasted his talents and worse yet, he could still go in the ring based off what I saw from him here, which wasn't much. The match went all of a minute before Tazz put away Perfect for the win, so what was the point? Tazz was another guy who, despite being over with the audience, was marginalized for the better part of his WWE run. What a shame.
Christian and Booker T def. Edge and Diamond Dallas Page
I was confused by who were supposed to be the babyfaces and heels in this match. DDP was a heel at WrestleMania, wasn't he? And I guess this was before Booker T turned face but the crowd adored him, regardless. This had the potential to be a great match given who was involved, but it was cut short before it could amount to anything special. It was pretty disappointment as a result.
Trish Stratus def. Ivory
It was clear that Stratus was still coming into her own around this point because she was struggling to find her stride in the ring in this match. Ivory wasn't much better, either, as it looked like she blew a few spots and it made for a mess of a match. Similar to the previous matches, it was over before it could even get started. Plus, then-Women's Champion Jazz wasn't even there! With nothing on the line and no established issues between these two, it was difficult to care about it.
nWo def. The Rock and Hulk Hogan in a 3-on-2 Handicap Match by Disqualification
This may look like a match stacked with star power on paper, but it didn't deliver in the ring whatsoever. Hogan was definitely beloved by the crowd, but his matches were mostly garbage (see: him vs. The Undertaker from Judgement Day 2002) unless he worked with someone who could carry him. Rock did his best to salvage the match when he was tagged in, but the nWo being damaged goods by this point didn't help matters. This match was meaningless in the long run since the two teams were split up in the Draft and nWo weren't even at Backlash the next month.
Jeff Hardy def. World Tag Team Champion Billy
The Hardy Boyz were still a hot tag team in 2002, so why were they left out of the televised portion of the Draft? I understand that Billy and Chuck were tag champs at the time, but for them to get drafted ahead of The Hardy Boyz was just sad. Similar to the previous bouts, the match wasn't given much time at all. Hardy served no purpose because I believe The Hardy Boyz were split up in the Draft.
European Champion William Regal vs. Rikishi Went to a No Contest (Non-title)
This was Lesnar's only second appearance in WWE after debuting the week prior and his F5 on Rikishi was an impressive sight. It beat the hell out of a pointless Regal vs. Rikishi match, that much was for sure. I also appreciated how Lesnar was among the top ten Draft picks for Raw and even Mr. McMahon and Ric Flair were fighting over him. It made him a big deal from the get-go. My only gripe with this was that they quickly moved on from the attack and didn't give it enough time to sink in.
Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam def. Kurt Angle by Disqualification
Angle had more bright ideas than McMahon throughout the whole night! I liked how he said that if he beat RVD for the Intercontinental title, he could take the title to SmackDown, but how could McMahon sanction this match if he was the head of SmackDown? The match wasn't what it could have been, continuing the theme of everything else prior to this bout, and the non-finish was underwhelming. If nothing else, it set up Angle's feud with Edge nicely when the future Rated-R Superstar made the save for RVD afterward.
Undisputed Champion Triple H def. Chris Jericho and Stephanie McMahon in a Triple Threat Match
HHH had been made to look so dominant in the months leading up to his match with Jericho at WrestleMania 18 that neither Jericho nor Stephanie were considered threats to the title. It was an interesting concept to have them compete in a Triple Threat match with a woman in the mix, but if anything, Stephanie's involvement dragged down the quality of the contest. They had to work her into several spots rather than have her sit out for most of it while HHH and Jericho worked their magic. Jericho was protected since Stephanie was pinned (and ultimately off TV for a few months before returning as the SmackDown General Manager), but it didn't matter much considering he was no longer in contention for the title.
I went into this edition of Raw excited since it was the first-ever WWE Draft, but this was a total trainwreck. I didn't mention too much about the actual Draft picks in the previous paragraphs, but the system was flawed even then. It was more along the lines of a legitimate Draft than it would eventually become, but how could Flair pick up the nWo yet The Dudley Boyz were split up? And why was Hogan not one of the first few picks? There were multiple head-scratching moments and to top it all off, the wrestling was awful! The main event was decent, but only compared to everything that came before it. I'd suggest watching this show solely for its historical significance, but don't have high hopes.
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