Torch Flashbacks LESNAR FLASHBACK - Raw (03-18-02): Lesnar makes WWE TV debut night after WrestleMania 18 ten years ago
Apr 2, 2012 - 11:08:22 PM
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Brock Lesnar returned to WWE TV on Monday's Raw the night after WrestleMania 28 ten years after he made his WWE TV debut on Raw the night after WrestleMania 18. The following is a flashback report from the March 18, 2002 WWE Raw TV episode when Lesnar returned.
WWF Raw TV Review
March 18, 2002
Originally Published: Torch Newsletter #697
Report by Jason Powell
Overall score for the week in WWF TV (9.5): After delivering a disappointing week of television last week, the WWF came through with a strong episode of Smackdown heading into WrestleMania and a fantastic post–Mania episode of Raw. Unlike last year's post–Mania effort, the WWF made the most of the anticipated increased audience by setting up major storylines that will have a direct impact on business in 2002.
Almost a year after the WWF originally came up with the concept for running separate promotions, Linda McMahon finally made the announcement that a roster splitting draft will take place on next week's Raw. The draft is a first in wrestling and should be fascinating to watch play out. Here's hoping Vince and Flair actually draft the their wrestlers on the live show instead of having highlights air throughout the broadcast. The WWF has had all of this time to plan for the draft, so they don't have any excuses if it comes off poorly.
Raw also gave viewers hope that Stephanie McMahon will be taking a much needed break from television. Before we get too excited about the possibility, let's keep in mind that the stipulation states that Triple H must pin Steph during the handicap in order for the stipulation to come into play, so there is still a possibility that Jericho will do the job and Steph will remain an on–air terror. Personally, I'm still leaving the door open for a Triple H and Steph reunion.
The NWO is without an anchor member due to Hogan's babyface turn. Although the general consensus on the internet has Rock turning heel, Triple H has the legitimate history with Hall, Nash, and X–Pac, who also seems destined to join the group at some point.
Raw also featured the strong debut of Brock Lesnar, who is seems to be in line for a major push with Paul Heyman as his mouthpiece/manager. With the possibility of that the McMahons will scale back their on–camera roles, there is finally room for manager–types to return to WWF television and it would be nice if Heyman is simply the start of a trend.
Last week it appeared that the board of directors angle was designed to give to set up a major screwjob finish at WrestleMania. Vince never did show his face during the pay–per-view, and in retrospect, the board segment didn't have much of a purpose other than establishing that the board actually exists.
3/18 RAW ON TNN
(Live from Montreal, Que.)... Hosts: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler...
-The announcers introduced the show and hyped that Linda McMahon would make a major announcement.
-Lillian Garcia introduced Hulk Hogan, who walked to the ring wearing his NWO gear. Hogan appeared genuinely moved as he watched the crowd giving him a standing ovation. Ross changed his tune from the night before by conceding that Hogan was receiving a massive babyface pop. "Damn, I love you guys," Hogan said to the crowd. Hogan put over Rock for winning their WrestleMania match and the crowd booed. "It might not be today," Hogan said, "it might not be next week, but someday, Rock, Hulk Hogan and the Rock are going to square off one more time, brother." Rock walked to the ring to boos. After a lengthy pause, Rock delivered his "Finally..." catch–phrase and put over Hogan. Rock thanked the fans for the passion they showed at WrestleMania, and accepted Hogan's challenge to a future rematch. At Rock's request, Hogan ripped off his NWO t–shirt, signifying the end of his run with the group. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash walked onto the stage. Nash called Hogan a son of a bitch and ripped him for leaving the group. Hall challenged Hogan & Rock to a tag match for later in the show, which the babyfaces accepted to end the 25 minute segment.
-Rob Van Dam beat Christian to retain the WWF Intercontinental Title. Late in the match, Dallas Page prevented Christian from leaving with Van Dam's belt and threw him back inside the ring. Van Dam hit the Five Star Frogsplash for the win.
-Backstage, Chris Jericho beat up a security guard who mocked him for losing to Triple H. Later, Ross announced that Jericho had left the building.
-Lita beat Trish Stratus with a moonsault at 2:31. After the match, Jazz ran out and attacked both women. Ivory ran out and helped Jazz beat up the babyfaces and then shook hands with the women's champion.
-Linda McMahon sat behind a desk and announced that the board of directors has decided that Vince McMahon and Ric Flair are not capable of working together. She said the board had voted to give Flair full control of Raw, and to give Vince full control of Smackdown. She said the company's will share a men's and women's champion, but other talent will be kept separate. Linda announced that Vince and Flair will draft the wrestlers who will make up their rosters on next week's Raw.
-Vince stormed to the ring for a promo and complained that he wasn't going to be able to appear on Raw, which he created. Vince said goodbye to the fans, who began singing the goodbye song to him. Ric Flair walked out wearing bandages on his forehead. The crowd chanted, "You screwed Bret" at Vince, who responded by breaking character and motioning Flair to continue his promo. Vince held a coin–toss to determine whether he or Flair would pick first in the draft. Vince won the coin–toss and punched Flair to the mat. Flair recovered and locked Vince in the figure four to end the segment.
-Edge & Kane beat Kurt Angle & Booker T at 3:48. Edge gave Angle the Edgecution and scored the pin.
-Maven fought Al Snow to an apparent no–contest when Spike Dudley and Brock Lesnar interfered at 3:00. Spike ran out and attacked both wrestlers. Seconds later, Lesnar ran out and attacked everyone in sight while Paul Heyman cheered him on from ringside. Ross referred to Lesnar as the hottest free agent in wrestling, but questioned why Heyman was on the show despite being fired as part of the Alliance storyline. Lesnar powerbombed Spike three times. Heyman entered the ring and raised Lesnar's hand.
-Backstage, William Regal interrupted a Matt Hardy and Lita make out session to tease them with the thought that they could end up in opposite companies depending on how the draft plays out. Regal also suggested that the Hardys tag team could also be separated.
-Billy & Chuck beat The Dudleys (w/Stacy Keibler) by DQ at 1:22. In the end, Stacy hit Billy with one of the tag titles for the DQ. Afterward, the Dudleys got upset about being DQ'd and powerbombed Stacy through a table.
-Triple H cut an in–ring promo about regaining the WWF Title. Steph walked out wearing a neckbrace and said Jericho wants a rematch. Triple H suggested the handicap match, stressing the stipulation that Steph would be banned from the WWF if he pinned her. Steph eventually accepted the match as the crowd sang the goodbye song.
-Hulk Hogan & The Rock beat Scott Hall & Kevin Nash via countout at 6:07. Hogan entered to Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child." Late in the match, Hogan hit his finishing sequence on Hall and went for a cover. Nash reached in and pulled Hall to the floor to break up the count. Hall and Nash stood at ringside and allowed the ref to count them out to end the match.
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