Goldust vs. Rob Van Dam
No Way Out 2002 didn’t really have a match that screamed out to me to be watched for my pre-viewing. I was pumped to see the NWO invade WWF but this card overall felt like rehashes and straight bridge-building towards WrestleMania 18. The only match that really drifted from this vibe was Goldust vs. RVD and that was why I chose to review it. I was excited to see what a rejuvenated Goldust could get out of RVD in 11 minutes. Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar? Goldust returned to the promotion after being gone for a long period of time. Most pundits were wondering if he still had it and he goes into a big match to prove the naysayers wrong. RVD was also still riding a wave of good graces with me. After his great match vs. Taker at Vengeance where he looked like a superstar in waiting, this match could have felt like a step down the ladder. However, I went in optimistic that RVD would relish the opportunity to work with a seasoned veteran in Goldust and the overall match would be positive.
Goldust attacks RVD at the onset and sends him to the outside. After some pounding on the ring apron, we head back into the ring. RVD fires back with a spin kick and JR fires off his first educated feet reference. Crowd starts a RVD chant and RVD runs through a lot of his arsenal including a cartwheel moonsault splash and a spinning kick. Goldust has enough of this onslaught and takes a powder to the outside. After getting a nice pop coming out, Goldy gets a good amount of boos when he starts strutting to the back. Lawler with the movie references is atrocious here. We get a little brawling on the outside and RVD sends Goldust to the crowd side of the railing and then drapes Goldust over and hits his spinning leg drop. Lawler again cannot shut up about movies and JR can’t stop comparing Goldust to Dusty.
Goldust gains the advantage and hits some vicious elbows and punches. Crowd is a little blase but I love this vicious streak with punches. Goldust also chokes RVD out with him sitting on the top rope in a move I haven’t seen used or before. JR finally focuses on the match and talks about how Goldust grounding RVD is a smart strategy. Diving knee to the chest of RVD and some slingshot back damage gives Goldust dominant control. The camel clutch provides an opportunity for Goldust to inflict more back damage and the crowd to rally behind RVD by chanting his name. “Did you hear about the guy that froze to death when he went to the drive-in in Oklahoma? He went to see closed for the winter.” I have never been more annoyed with Lawler commentary in my life. Hope spot is afforded RVD when Goldust goes for a diving drop to the back and RVD reverses to get his knees up to Goldy’s balls. Goldust regains with a clothesline but a back slide and spin kick later and we have reached a stalemate in this match.
RVD again is able to hit a spinning heel kick and he gets a rolling monkey flip and top rope kick. Rolling thunder by RVD which doesn’t make sense at all in the confines of this match given he has to directly use his back. RVD again hops right on the top rope and wipes out with the five-star frog splash. A nasty little DDT by Goldust gives the best nearfall of the match so far. A curtain call is reversed with another spinning kick. Goldust is pissed off and fires back with some more vicious strikes. His bulldog is shrugged off and RVD again hits another kick. He now is able to hit the five-star frog splash to get the victory. “The end”, Jerry says.
As I said in my intro, RVD received quite a bit of praise in my review of his Vengeance match vs. The Undertaker. He reeled in his spotty selling qualities and allowed the opponent to get over huge without hindering his own character. Here, I thought Goldust’s sound strategy in the middle portion of the match was nullified by the way RVD acted in the comeback. Selling will always be a constant awareness issue for someone who has offense as flashy as RVD’s but he did a few extra things in this match like constantly jumping up to the top rope or hitting moves that emphasized him landing on his back that could have been prevented to make Goldust seem like more of a threat. Goldust for his part looked great here and back to his mid-90’s form. His strikes were vicious and his timing impeccable as the DDT spot was the best in the entire match. I am glad that WWF gave these two a good amount of time on PPV to show their worth; I only wish RVD would have made Goldust look like more of a threat.
Final Grade: **1/2