Kurt Angle def. John Cena
This is how you make a star. Yes, there are various ways it can be accomplished (such as when Finn Balor beat Roman Reigns clean in his Raw debut last year), but unlike Balor, Cena entered WWE as a complete unknown to the masses and made an incredible impression in his initial outing. The match wasn't a technical masterpiece, but it was very well-wrestled in the five minutes it lasted and Cena scored an ample amount of offense against Angle. Even the post-match stuff with Cena begging Angle for more before being endorsed by various notable names (including The Undertaker) backstage were terrific touches. And look where Cena is today.
WWE Tag Team Champions Billy and Chuck def. Hardcore Holly and Val Venis
For those curious, Holly and Venis were not a regular pairing coming into this contest. Despite that, they showed some decent chemistry as a duo in this brief bout. The match wasn't too memorable at only four minutes long, but it wasn't terrible, either, and actually made me want to see more of Holly and Venis as a unit. Meanwhile, Billy and Chuck continued to play their roles well as the heels who could constantly escape with their titles intact.
Lance Storm def. Mark Henry
Storm was in the early stages of his Un-American gimmick in trashing anyone from the country, hence why he took on an American in Henry here. Henry, on the other hand, was still struggling to find his footing as a character and there wasn't anything special about him at this point. As a match, this wasn't good, but it did lead to a surprising clean win for Storm, which surely added to his heel heat.
Kurt Angle Confronted WWE Champion The Undertaker
I know Undertaker turned heel early on in 2002, but was he more of a tweener by the summer? I ask this because he was clearly a heel here when he took credit for injuring Triple H and vowed to attack The Rock upon his return to SmackDown, yet he shook the hand of Cena backstage beforehand and established himself as a fighting champion in this promo when agreeing to facing Angle the following week. This segment also sent the message that Angle could lock in his ankle lock on 'Taker at any time, so this was successful at furthering a few storylines.
Rikishi def. Test by Disqualification
I chuckled when Michael Cole referred to these two as "young athletes" when both of them were past their prime at this time. Thankfully, the match was short-lived, but the non-finish made sense because it allowed Test to claim that there was a conspiracy against him and for him to join Storm and Christian in their Canadian crusade. Essentially, this wasn't as throwaway of a match as I expected it to be.
Billy Kidman and Hurricane Helms def. Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble and Tajiri
Noble promised Tajiri earlier in the evening that if they won, Tajiri could kiss Nidia whenever he wanted. Okay then, I guess that's one way to motivate your partner. This match was more along the lines of what I want to see out of today's Cruiserweight division as it was a fun little match that the crowd was into. Billy Kidman's victory put him in line for a future Cruiserweight title match.
Reverend D-Von and Bautista def. Faarooq and Randy Orton
It was interesting to see Bautista and Orton on opposite sides of the ring. Both guys were fresh off their SmackDown debuts would later join Evolution together. D-Von and Farooq were fine, but this match was largely designed to showcase Bautista and Orton and it did so quite well. My only complaint is that newcomer Orton shouldn't have taken the pinfall loss but rather Faarooq given he had nothing to lose.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan def. Chris Jericho by Disqualification
At this stage of his career, Hogan just wasn't capable of contesting classic matches (then again, was he ever?), but with the right opponent, he could be carried to a competent contest. Jericho was a quality match for Hogan and he helped him put together an entertaining affair. Plus, the crowd was hot for him as a babyface and they were behind him every step of the way versus Jericho. It was cool that the returning Edge took center stage in seeking vengeance on Jericho afterward and Hogan's assistance built to them teaming the following week.
There was one other segment that took place after Rikishi vs. Test that saw Torrie Wilson and Stacy Kiebler show off their lingerie before Dawn Marie interrupted, but it was so insignificant that I didn't bother to write a paragraph about it. On the whole, though, this was a solid show, obviously made noteworthy by Cena's debut in the opener. The rest of the episode was enjoyable and above-average with Edge coming back, Angle and Undertaker hyping their championship clash, and the Un-Americans coming together.
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