Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Judgment Day 2002

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Wager matches are usually my favorite in wrestling. Haircuts in wrestling have provided some amazingly embarrassing and memorable moments, mostly in Mexico, but occasionally in the United States (Vince McMahon, Molly Holly, Miss Texas). Our video package shows how dumb the beginning of this feud was revolving around a t-shirt but after last month’s affair, we are at this point where someone will have their head shaved. If you read my Backlash Pre-Viewing, I had numerous problems with the match between these two so I entered this rematch cautiously optimistic.

I am continually impressed with the reaction Angle gets coming out. He was the runner-up at the Rumble but even this feud hasn’t been positioned as any higher than 3rd from the top on the two PPV’s it has comprised. Angle being able to still get one of the strongest reactions from the crowd both positively and negatively bodes well for his overall persona. Edge’s pop here didn’t seem as loud as at Backlash but he did get a nice reaction coming out. I was extremely interested in the pace of this match. One of the best qualities of the best wager matches I have seen has been the desperation between the two competitors knowing what a loss results in. I was delighted that this match got off to furious, intense pace and Edge did a rollup for a nearfall seconds in. He then taunts Kurt by showing just how close he was to having his head shaved. Angle, being embarrassed by being outwrestled, starts clubbing away at Edge as JR runs down the accolades Angle has accomplished in his brief career. Edge again thwarts off this attack by Angle by throwing him to the outside in another resourceful spot. I am really digging the intensity Edge is displaying in the early going of this match.

A baseball slide sends Kurt hard into the guardrail. Kurt again clubs back for a brief second. We then get one of my favorite spears I have ever seen Edge deliver as Kurt is tied up in the ropes and Edge waylays on him. Kurt is reeling and needing something drastic to turn the tide of this match. He achieves this by hitting a belly to belly suplex to Edge over the top to the floor. I thought this spot was a nice escalation payoff from last month’s match. Angle is more focused with his attack here vs. the Backlash match, targeting in on the midsection with kicks. JR again puts over the gravity of the match exceptionally while Lawler does lame jokes. Angle locks in the same chinlock he did in the previous match and just like that match, this one really drags the match down. A hair pull and suplex regain the action but unfortunately the crowd is pretty lackluster at this point. Angle interlocks another rest submission move. Edge is able to rise up and hit a belly to belly of his own to even things up.

Edge does a flurry of offense for some nearfalls but not much of a reaction and I am scared they will have trouble bringing the crowd back in. Guess what? Angle regains the advantage with a belly to belly! Who would have thunk it. Edge reverses this quickly sending Angle crashing down face first to the apron and following with a crossbody. I have been pleased with Edge in this match. He has brought the intensity and risk a wager match needs. A nicely executed missile dropkick gets an insane nearfall and draws the crowd back in. Angle regains back on offense a little too soon for my liking and we are heading into the home stretch. Edge gets a ddt but climbs to the top way too slowly allowing Angle to give his running slam off of the top for a nearfall. Another ddt from Edge has the crowd biting on all of the false finishes. Edge attempts the spear but gets the referee instead. Angle goes for a chair again because it worked so well last month, but Edge is able to spear him and there is no official for the count. Yet another spear gives a 2.9999 count in an intense nearfall. Angle returns the favor with a spear that looks a ton better than what Edge usually delivers. One Olympic Slam later and Edge kicks out again to screams from JR. Angle being completely flustered, drops the strap and locks on the ankle lock. The finish is terrific as Edge kicks Angle out and rolls him up for the pinfall showing resourcefulness and playing up the fact that embarrassment with a haircut can come in a sudden moment. Post-match sees Angle escape the haircut on this night and the immediately go to a backstage segment. This leads to a cat and mouse game before we see the Kurt Angle we all know and love, bald.

This match resulted in a more positive response from me than the Backlash one but still had a few tendencies in wrestling that I dislike to prevent me from calling it a classic. Angle started out more focused on his control sequence but then he decided to do two rest holds to grind the match and crowd to a halt. I also will say that the finish had a good bit of back and forth with a few moments where I wish there was time to breathe between the big spots. Onto the positives, starting with Edge. I have reviewed quite a few matches in the past year and this was my favorite performance of his as he showed resilience and confidence in his overall babyface performance. After watching these two matches, I have come to the conclusion that this was not a classic in-ring feud between the two that some claim, but it is an interesting snapshot in the rise of Edge as a main-eventer.

***1/2

Author: Chad Campbell

Chad Campbell is assistant managing editor of Place to Be Nation and co-host of Where the Big Boys Play Podcast. He is waiting for the next Atlanta sports team to break his heart. Send Chad an email