WWE PPV Flashback: Rebellion (10/26/02) - "Smackdown's Chance to Shine in UK"

October 26, 2002
MEN Arena, Manchester, England

Less than a week removed from No Mercy, it was time for the WWE to make another trip to the UK for what would end up being the second last of these special PPVs since starting up in 1997. As Raw had Insurrextion earlier in the year, this time around the blue brand is on display for the Manchester crowd. That show, over the past few months, had been headlined by the Lesnar/Taker rivalry which culminated inside Hell in a Cell six days prior. On the Smackdown after No Mercy however, the Undertaker was written out of storylines to take some time off for the remainder of the year (in reality, his wife at the time had just given birth). As a result we have a rather intriguing main event tonight as Brock Lesnar teams with Paul Heyman to take on Edge in a handicap match, with the WWE title on the line. Lets dive into it.

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We kick the show off with the usual good video package, this one focusing on the stars of Smackdown which really highlights the awesome roster they had at the time. We head into the arena afterwards, and our announce team consists of the usual duo for the brand, Michael Cole & Tazz.

The music of the GM hits to kick off the show and Stephanie McMahon, looking amazing, makes her way to the ring to start off the show. She says that the Undertaker is not here tonight. She announces the main event handicap match that I mentioned above, stating that Edge can pin either Lesnar or Heyman to win the WWE title. She then says that she has gained the services of a Raw superstar for this show only, and out comes Booker T to a good pop for our opening match.

Booker T vs Matt Hardy
So our opening match consists of the aforementioned Booker T from Raw, still building momentum as he chases the world tag titles whilst aiming to move up into the main event picture on that show, taking on a man we have yet to see in action on PPV since his change of attitude. Upon jumping to Smackdown a few months prior, Matt Hardy took on the role of an egotistic and self absorbed individual, beginning to refer to himself as "Matt Hardy: Version 1.0". With new entrance music and an awesome computer monitor style entrance, Hardy would establish himself as a memorable part of Thursday nights. The best part of the whole character were the 'Matt Facts' which would be displayed during his entrance. On this night it was "Matt loves English Muffins". Anyway, these UK PPVs are known for being glorified house shows with no major implications coming out of the matches. With these guys being from different shows, there was no rivalry at all here, and this was really just an exhibition match. It was a big deal at the time though since the brand extension was strictly enforced for the first few years. The crowd was into Booker big time, while Hardy was great in his role as well. The match was a decent opener to the show that served its purpose. They went back and forth before going into their finisher attempts as the match reached an end. Booker countered a Twist of Fate attempt by Hardy into a Bookend, only for Hardy to get a foot on the rope and connect with a more successful Twist of Fate moments later. By the time Hardy covers however, Booker kicked out. The Sensei of Mattitude looked to follow up with another Twist of Fate, but this time Booker hit a Scissor Kick for the victory at 12:01. A fun match to open the show with the popular surprise guy getting the win. He celebrates with a Spinarooni afterwards.
Grade: **1/2

Backstage, Paul Heyman confronts Stephanie McMahon, claiming that the main event is unfair to Brock. Stephanie responds by telling Heyman that life isn't fair. We then go to footage of Dawn Marie being caught in the shower with Al Wilson a few weeks ago on Smackdown to set up our next match.

Billy Kidman & Torrie Wilson vs John Cena & Dawn Marie
So our next match sees Billy Kidman & Torrie, who I believe were dating in real life at this time, teaming together in mixed tag team action. Now that Torrie/Dawn part of this match really needs no explanation as we saw them face off at No Mercy, where Torrie was victorious. Their feud was really just about Torrie catching Dawn in the shower with her father at this point. On the other hand, the last we saw of John Cena, he was a young rookie looking to make an impact on Smackdown with ruthless aggression. Cena would team with Billy Kidman during the tournament set up over the past month on Smackdown to crown the first WWE Tag Team Champions, but would turn on Kidman during a first round match against Angle & Benoit. As a result, Cena became a heel and in a few days from this show would adopt the persona that would be responsible for catching on with the fans over the next year or so. Anyway, there's not a huge amount to talk about here as you are accustomed to with these types of shows by now. The girls go at it in a catfight to start before the guys separate them. That leads Cena to blind side Kidman to get the early advantage for his team as the match gets going. Its always interesting to see Cena in this stage of his career. Sure, he had potential, but there was no way at the time you expected him to become the huge superstar that he would be a few years later. He does some good heel work in this match and even slams Torrie as the ref admonishes Kidman at one point. The crowd are really behind Kidman here, and he'd get a chance to run with that momentum again the following month as he was being built up for another Cruiserweight title shot. Anyway, despite some cheating efforts by the heel team, the faces prevail here, with Torrie spearing Dawn out of the ring, followed by Kidman hitting a Shooting Star Press on Cena for the win at 5:24. Kidman and Torrie make out after what was an average TV match.
Grade: **1/4

Before our next match, Cole & Tazz conducted an interview with Edge, who was backstage. He talks about his dream of becoming WWE Champion and likes his odds to tonight based on Heyman being added to the main event.

Funaki vs Crash Holly
Our next match sees two men we have not seen competing on PPV for quite some time. Funaki had developed into the role of a backstage interviewer on Smackdown which would often lead to some hilarious skits which in turn gained him quite the fan following. Crash on the other hand is a long way removed from his Houdini of Hardcore days. I don't think we've seen him on PPV in over a year at this point. Anyway, he's a heel and would eventually join up with Matt Hardy as a Mattitude Follower but I don't think that's happened just yet. Sadly he would pass away the following year, and I'm not sure we'll see him again on PPV before then. Anyway, Crash starts this one out by mocking Funaki, demonstrating his karate poses in the process. Funaki gets fired up and goes after his opponent as a result, but Crash takes control after sucking punching him. After some back and forth, Crash rolls Funaki up, but Smackdown's "Number 1 announcer" counters and rolls through for the victory at 5:37. Just a filler match here with some comedy mixed in. Nothing bad though.
Grade: **

We now cut backstage where Jamie Noble and Nidia are complaining about being in the UK prior to Noble's title defence. They can't wait to go back home to West Virginia,

WWE Cruiserweight Championship - Elimination Match:
Jamie Noble (c) w/Nidia vs Tajiri vs Rey Mysterio

Our first title match of the night sees our reigning Cruiserweight title holder, Jamie Noble, defending his title against not one, but two opponents. Noble had an impressive reign going back to June when he first won the championship, and his rivalry with Tajiri goes back to a successful title defence at No Mercy, thanks to some assistance on the part of Nidia. The other challenger is a man who, despite his size, had mostly been kept out of the division in Rey Mysterio. He'd get there eventually, but this is really just a one off for him at the moment, as he's still involved in the tag title picture. Anyway, its elimination rules here meaning the last man surviving leaves with the gold. The crowd are behind Rey for this one, although Tajiri gets some cheers as well. What we get is a decent match, but nothing earth shattering. All three guys are capable of putting on an awesome cruiserweight battle, but the match doesn't really get a chance to kick into great three way action, as the first elimination comes about three minutes in when Noble pins Tajiri following a Tiger Bomb. That leaves us with Mysterio and Noble competing for the gold. Noble looks to put Rey away just as quickly, but the challenger counters out of a powerbomb attempt to go to some back and forth. As the champion takes over, thanks in part to the interference of Nidia on the outside, Rey eventually overcomes his adversary and builds up momentum of his own. As with much of Noble's reign however, Nidia proves her worth at ringside once again when she trips Rey up on a 619 attempt. Rey counters out of a subsequent Tiger Bomb, but as he rolls Noble up, the champion cheats once again, reversing into a package and reaching out to Nidia for leverage to retain the title at 12:47. After the match, Rey delivers a double 619 to Noble and Nidia to get some retribution. A decent match that would not be different to what you might see on a house show at the time.
Grade: **3/4

Backstage Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle argue over who is the better of their team before their title defence later in the night.

Big Valbowski & Chuck Palumbo vs D-Von & Ron Simmons
Now here's a rather strange looking match. First of all, the Big Valbowski is the renamed Val Venis, who is still effectively the same character as he was before. He's teaming with Chuck Palumbo, as Billy Gunn has gone down with an injury, ending that team in the process. On the other side of the ring we have D-Von, still a heel but no longer a Reverend, nor with Deacon Batista at his side (we'll see him in a new role soon enough). He still has the awesome Reverend theme though. His new partner is the randomly turned heel Faarooq, now going by his real name of Ron Simmons. They actually have a bit of history teaming heading into this show as they were in the WWE Tag Team Championship tournament only to be eliminated in the semifinals by Edge & Rey Mysterio. D-Von & Simmons actually beat Billy & Chuck in the tournament first round to get to that point, so there's your history between these guys. Overall though, its just four guys not doing much in the lower card on Smackdown being thrown into a filler match. There's not much to talk about here as a result. Its basic and not given much time. The faces build some momentum after some opening back and forth, but Simmons ends up nailing Chuck from outside the ring, allowing D-Von to roll him up and score the win with the tights at 4:09. D-Von would get a change of scenery in a familiar role not far down the track. Val and Chuck would soon enough as well.
Grade: *1/2

Before our next match, Los Guerreros have trouble working out which country they are in and get fired up for their title shot later in the night.

Kiss my Ass Match:
Rikishi vs Albert

Up next we have another match featuring guys we haven't seen regularly on PPV for a while as two of Smackdown's bigger men go at it. The last time we saw Albert on PPV, he was teaming with Scotty 2 Hotty as a face tag team. That wouldn't last long after the brand extension started though, as he would turn heel by attacking his former tag partner. He wouldn't be utilised all that much in the months that followed as he would mainly compete on Velocity, but a renewed push lay in his near future at this point in time. Speaking of guys floating around the Smackdown midcard, his opponent, Rikishi, is still dancing and entertaining the fans but not a whole lot more. You wouldn't see this match on a regular PPV at the time due to the lack of push both men had received at this time, but with this being a brand exclusive glorified house show, like the previous match, its decent filler. The stipulation is that the loser must kiss the ass of the winner, and Albert gets on the mic before the match to talk about his self proclaimed way with the ladies. He's started wrestling shirtless now, so the "shave your back" chants would soon start up. Anyway, Rikishi goes after Albert to start and uses his ample rear to back his opponent off in the early going. What follows is a basic big man match that you would expect from this pairing. Rikishi fights his way out of a chinlock and the match goes back and forth into the closing moments. Albert connects with the Bicycle Kick but Rikishi kicks out. From there, Rikishi responds with a thrust kick, followed by the Banzai Drop to score the win at 7:17. Albert refuses to kiss Rikishi's ass after the match, but the ref threatens to suspend him unless he returns to the ring. He does, and attempts to blind side Rikishi with a low blow and Baldo Bomb, but Rikishi responds with a Stinkface which is good enough for him. He celebrates by inviting the announcers into the ring to dance with him. This was about what was expected going in.
Grade: *

Up next we get a look back at the tournament which led to the creation of the WWE Tag Team Championship on Smackdown, including Angle & Benoit's win at No Mercy.

WWE Tag Team Championship:
Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit (c) vs Los Guerreros

Back at No Mercy, we saw Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit defeat Edge & Rey Mysterio to become the first holders of the Smackdown exclusive WWE Tag Team Championship. Now we see new the champions defending against the other third of the "Smackdown Six". Los Guerreros, comprised of Eddie & Chavo, formed a month or so before this show. When we last saw Eddie he was on a singles run after his old partner Benoit turned face. He would begin teaming with his nephew Chavo however, after he had spent the past year since coming in from the defunct WCW doing a whole lot of nothing. They would actually make it to the semifinals of the tag title tournament after beating Rikishi & Mark Henry in the first round, but would ultimately lose to Angle & Benoit. Now, despite Angle being a heel, the champions are the de facto faces in this one due to Benoit's popularity and ongoing rivalry with his tag partner. They start arguing right from the outset as they can't decide who will start the match, but ultimately Kurt wins the argument and he gets the advantage against both Guerreros before jaw jacking with his partner some more. This leads to Benoit tagging himself in and doing the same. The champs spend the early part of the match attempting to outdo one another, but the tide turns when the Guerreros resort to cheating tactics to take over and work on Benoit. After taking a beating despite his best attempts to fight back, Benoit eventually gets a hot tag to Kurt and he goes suplex crazy on Eddie. The action picks up into high gear from here and all four guys bust out some impressive high spots with the crowd going crazy. We get some miscommunication from the champs when Eddie sends Kurt into Benoit off an Angle Slam attempt, which leads to an altercation in which the ref goes down. That allows Eddie to lock Kurt in the Lasso from El Passo, but Kurt counters into an ankle lock. Eddie taps out, but with nobody to count it, Chavo comes in and nails him with one of the title belts. Despite the issues moments before, Benoit comes to his partners aid and fights Chavo off however, which allows Angle to recover and put Eddie away with an Angle Slam at 16:36 to retain the titles. A really good match. Its become cliche to say after all these years, but whenever the Smackdown Six were involved, you were bound to get at least a good match. This was a really good one. Angle and Benoit had a fun story throughout the match as they almost came to blows but worked together to retain the titles. They continued to argue after the match, which brought Los Guerreros in to attempt to steal the title belts. The champs stood on the strap of their belts to stop them in their tracks however, and the Guerreros left to regroup for another day.
Grade: ***3/4

Backstage Heyman does his best warming up for the main event while Lesnar looks on. Brock tells his manager that if he loses the title due to him being in the match, he won't hesitate to destroy him. Face turn ahead anyone?

WWE Championship:
Brock Lesnar (c) & Paul Heyman vs Edge

We're now ready for our main event. Brock retained his title at No Mercy against the Undertaker inside Hell in a Cell to end that feud, so this was really just thrown together for this show. As I mentioned earlier in the review, Taker was written out of storylines on the Smackdown after No Mercy when Smackdown's newest superstar, the Big Show (conspicuous by his absence on this PPV) showed up and tossed the American Bad Ass of the stage. I'm not sure if the match was made yet, but Show would face Brock at our next PPV. Meanwhile, Edge has been having great matches on the blue brand all year, so this isn't a bad spot for him on a show like this. The announcers mention this is his first shot at the title, which is true, at least as far as big events go. He has no chance of winning of course, as he's teaming with Mysterio in the tag division, but you weren't expecting a title change on this show anyway. Brock's still in heel mode here as he takes the fight to Edge in the early going, only for the challenger to send him to the outside where Heyman has to calm his client down. That becomes a recurring theme of the match as Lesnar dishes out his punishing offence, only for Edge to hang in there and find the openings to frustrate the dominant champion. Edge refuses to stay down and ends up sending Brock into the post to slow him down. After sending him to the floor once more, Edge pulls Heyman into the ring and attempts to pin him for the title after a double axe handle, only for Brock to make the save. Edge counters a subsequent F-5 into an Edgecution, but the ref had been previously taken out as the two superstars went at it. A chair comes into play thanks to Heyman, but Edge spears Brock for a near fall instead. From there, Lesnar recovers and hits Edge in the ribs with the chair before following up with an F-5 connecting for the win at 18:50. A very solid match that was better than expected due to both men being relatively unexperienced in a big match setting. Sure, Lesnar has had a few months on the top to this point, while Edge has had great matches all year, but in both cases they were working with established opponents. This was a new setting for both guys and it worked, with Heyman playing his part well too without detracting from the match. Brock's dominant reign continues on Thursday nights. After the match however, Heyman grabs a chair and attempts to punish Edge more. He gets an Edgecution for his efforts to send the crowd home happy.
Grade: ***1/2

These shows are always throwaway ones in the grand scheme of things, but this was definitely a better quality card than Raw's Insurrextion earlier in the year. That was mostly due to the WWE and Tag Title matches, but overall its a reflection of a trend we've seen over the past few shows now - that Smackdown was the better show at this point in time. The tag title match was definitely the match of the night here, which wasn't a surprise due to it being the "Smackdown Six" slot on the card. As I've already mentioned, for a match with no build, the main event was also very good for a show like this. It was surprising to see no sign of the Big Show on this card though. Maybe he was wrapping up Raw house shows at the time. The undercard was nothing spectacular, with most of the matches hovering around the ** range, but it was fast moving with nothing getting a chance to overstay its welcome. A fun show to throw in to check out the state of Smackdown at the time.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Kurt Angle & Chris Benoit - really good title defence with a fun story told between the unlikely championship partners.
2. Los Guerreros - very good heel teamwork to put on the best match of the night. They'd be a key part of the Smackdown tag division for the next year or so.
3. Edge - I'm going to give it to Edge over Brock since this was a big spot on the card for him against Lesnar, who had been dominant and was definitely established as a main eventer at this point, despite still being a rookie on the main roster. This could have been a mess if both opponents weren't ready to go, and Edge played his part well. Brock did a good job as well.

FINAL GRADE: 6.5 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 111
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 70
The Rock = 67
Triple H = 62
Kurt Angle = 41
Mick Foley = 38
Undertaker = 31
Chris Jericho = 29
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 25
Chris Benoit = 25
Owen Hart = 21
Edge = 19
X-Pac = 18
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Rob Van Dam = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Brock Lesnar = 5
Eddie Guerrero = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Rey Mysterio = 2
Chavo Guerrero = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1

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