Royal Rumble 2002 was the fifteenth annual Royal Rumble professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). It took place on January 20, 2002 at the Philips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
The main event was the Royal Rumble match, which Triple H won after last eliminating Kurt Angle. The other matches were Chris Jericho versus The Rock for the Undisputed WWF Championship, Ric Flair versus Vince McMahon in a Street Fight, Edge versus William Regal for the WWF Intercontinental Championship, the team of Spike Dudley and Tazz versus the Dudley Boyz for the WWF Tag Team Championship, and Trish Stratus versus Jazz for the WWF Women's Championship.
The event featured six professional wrestling matches with outcomes predetermined by WWE script writers. The matches featured wrestlers portraying their characters in planned storylines that took place before, during and after the event.
The main feud was between Chris Jericho and The Rock for Jericho's Undisputed WWF Championship. The feud, which had begun in October 2001 while the two were members of Team WWF during the InVasion and traded the WCW Championship between them, continued at Vengeance, when Jericho defeated both The Rock and the reigning WWF Champion Steve Austin to unify the titles. On the following night's edition of Raw, Jericho successfully defended the Undisputed title over Steve Austin in a Steel cage match with the help from Booker T. During the following two weeks, Jericho had successfully defended the title against the likes of Rob Van Dam, The Big Show, and Kurt Angle. The Rock earned a match for the Undisputed WWF Championship at Royal Rumble on the January 3 edition of SmackDown! by defeating Booker T. On the January 10 edition of SmackDown!, The Rock and Rob Van Dam defeated Jericho and Test when The Rock made Jericho submit with the Sharpshooter.
The secondary feud was between the two WWF Co- Owners Ric Flair and Vince McMahon. The feud all started on the November 19th edition of Raw, when Flair made his return to the WWF and revealed that he has bought Shane and Stephanie's stock to the WWF which now means that he and Vince were partners that own the company. On the December 27th edition of SmackDown!, McMahon came to the ring to share his new years resolutions when he was interrupted by Flair. Flair reminded Vince how he had hired him to come to the WWF when he was under contract with NWA back in 1988 until Flair left NWA and came to the WWF and how he had won the 1992 Royal Rumble match and became WWF Champion. Flair also brought up his main event match at WrestleMania VIII against "Macho Man" Randy Savage. Flair then claimed that he looked through all the contracts one of which he pulled out that said "Vince McMahon Owner-Wrestler" which meant that Vince would wrestle at Royal Rumble. McMahon asked who got the balls to step into the ring with him and Flair punched Vince in the mouth and announced that the two of them would face each other at Royal Rumble. The following week, Flair announced that the match would be a Street Fight which Vince agreed to. The next four weeks saw Flair and McMahon contfronting each other in the buildup to their match which includes McMahon mocking Flair by putting on a blonde wig and his blue robe and also assaulting him with a lead pipe. During an interview, McMahon says he loves destroying lives and promised to destroy Flair's life at Royal Rumble.
On the January 7 edition of Raw, buildup towards the Royal Rumble match started, with Austin saying he wanted to enter. Later that night, Triple H made his return after missing nearly eight months with an injury and announced that he too would be entering the Royal Rumble match. He was interrupted by Kurt Angle, who then announced his intentions to enter the match, which was to be his first, and mentioned his victory over Triple H at the previous year's Royal Rumble event when he was the reigning WWF Champion. Triple H performed a Pedigree on Angle in retaliation. During a match between Austin and Angle on the January 10 edition of SmackDown!, Kane, The Big Show, and Triple H all interfered. In the end, only Triple H remained standing, until The Undertaker stared him down from the top of the ramp. On the January 14 edition of Raw, Triple H stated that he wants to win the Undisputed WWF Championship. Austin came out, and they fought until The Undertaker came out, and hit Triple H with a chair, allowing Austin to hit the Stone Cold Stunner. The Undertaker then hit Austin with the chair. On the January 17 edition of SmackDown!, Austin and Triple H defeated Angle and Booker T. After the match, The Undertaker again came out, and stared them down.
The feud between Edge and William Regal continued from Vengeance. On the December 10 edition of Raw, Edge mocked Regal, prompting Regal to nail him from behind with brass knuckles. On the December 13 edition of SmackDown!, William Regal and Kurt Angle faced Edge and Rikishi in a tag match. After the match, Edge hit Regal with a steel chair and an Edgecution onto the chair, breaking his nose, and causing him to bleed. On the January 7 edition of Raw, Regal interfered after Edge's victory over Lance Storm and hit him with brass knuckles. Regal challenged Edge to a match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship at Royal Rumble, and Edge accepted. On the January 14 edition of Raw, Edge and Rob Van Dam faced William Regal and Test, where Regal pinned Edge after using the brass knuckles. On the January 17 edition of SmackDown!, Regal defeated Rob Van Dam when he used brass knuckles behind the referee's back. Later on the night, Regal came out during Edge's match with Test but failed to interfere when Edge nailed him and referee Nick Patrick with a chair.
The first match was between Spike Dudley and Tazz, and the Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) for the WWF Tag Team Championship. The Dudley Boyz dominated Spike in the beginning with Bubba Ray ripping off Spike's neck brace. Spike fought back by hitting Bubba Ray with a Dudley Dog but failed to capitalize. The Dudley Boyz then double-teamed Spike while the referee was preoccupied with Tazz. Tazz eventually came in, and both dominated. Stacy Keibler, who accompanied the Dudley Boyz, climbed on the apron, and distracted Tazz and Spike. Tazz and Spike are knocked out of the ring, but Tazz came back in, and applied the Tazzmission for the victory, and retained the title.
The second match was between Edge and William Regal for the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Before the match, the referee found brass knuckles in Regal's tights, and confiscated them. The match went back and forth before Regal knocked Edge out of the ring. Regal applied the Regal Stretch, but Edge reached the ropes to break the hold. Edge attempted a spear, but Regal pushed the referee to receive the move. Regal took out another pair of brass knuckles and hit Edge with them. The referee recovered to count the pinfall for Regal to win the match, and the title.
The third match was between Trish Stratus and Jazz for the WWF Women's Championship with Jacqueline as Special Guest Referee. Jazz had the early advantage, focusing on Stratus' injured hand. Jazz then confronted Jacqueline, and they shoved each other. Stratus hit a bulldog, but Jazz countered with a roll-up, and hit a snap DDT. Stratus blocked an attack in the corner, and hit a bulldog to win the match, and retained the title.
The fourth match was a Street Fight between Ric Flair and Vince McMahon. Flair gained the early advantage with punches and knife edge chops. McMahon knocked Flair out of the ring, attacked him with weapons, and sent him into the ringpost and steps. They return to the ring, and McMahon applied the figure four leglock, but Flair reversed it. McMahon reached the ropes, and went outside the ring. Flair hit a low blow, and hit McMahon with a television monitor, and a lead pipe. Finally, Flair applied the figure four leglock, and won the match by forcing McMahon to submit.
The fifth match was between Chris Jericho and The Rock for the Undisputed WWF Championship. Jericho took control early in the match, and removed the padding off one of the turnbuckles. Jericho attempted the Walls of Jericho, but The Rock escaped. Jericho continued his control until The Rock delivered a superplex, and a snap overhead belly to belly suplex. Jericho came back with two Lionsaults. The Rock then countered a missile dropkick, and applied the Sharpshooter. Lance Storm and Christian came out, and distracted the referee as Jericho tapped out. This allowed Jericho to hit a Rock Bottom. He then attempted a People's Elbow, but The Rock avoided it, and threw Jericho out of the ring. The Rock sent Jericho into the ringsteps, and hit a Rock Bottom through the announce table. Back in the ring, Jericho countered a Rock Bottom and applied the Walls of Jericho, but The Rock reached the ropes. The Rock accidentally hit the referee, and Jericho took advantage by attacking The Rock with the title belt. Jericho signaled Nick Patrick (a heel referee) to come out, and referee. The Rock hit a DDT, but Patrick refused to count the pinfall. The Rock attacked Patrick, and hit a Rock Bottom, and a People's Elbow on Jericho. As The Rock tried to revive the original referee, Jericho hit a low blow, sending The Rock into the exposed turnbuckle. Jericho used a roll-up with both feet on the ropes to win, and retain the title.
The main event was the Royal Rumble match. The Undertaker, the eighth entrant, dominated upon entering the match, and eliminated all four of the remaining participants. Matt Hardy entered next and Lita, who accompanied Matt, entered the ring to help. The next entrant was Jeff Hardy, and all three attacked The Undertaker. The Undertaker eventually eliminated them both. The Hardys returned, and continued their attack, but were thrown out again. This distraction allowed Maven, the following entrant, to eliminate The Undertaker. The Undertaker returned, beat down Maven, and eliminated him. The Undertaker assaulted Scotty 2 Hotty during his entrance, and continued his attack on Maven into the crowd, and to the backstage area, including smashing his head into a popcorn machine. The match continued with Christian and Scotty 2 Hotty battling it out, and the ring began to fill with more wrestlers. Steve Austin, the nineteenth entrant, dominated upon his entrance, and eliminated all three of the remaining participants. While he waited for the next entrant, he brought Christian and Chuck, whom he had eliminated, back in, and beat them down. Austin then eliminated the next two entrants, leaving him the only man in the ring. Triple H made his in-ring return from injury at No. 22, brawling with Austin. The Big Show, the twenty-seventh entrant, dominated upon entering until Kane entered next. Kane eliminated The Big Show, and Kane was eliminated by Austin and Kurt Angle, the twenty-sixth entrant. Rob Van Dam made his Royal Rumble debut by entering the ring at No. 29, taking down nearly everyone with a variety of high-flying moves, until Triple H hit him with the Pedigree. Booker T, also making his Royal Rumble debut, entered at No. 30 and eliminated Van Dam. He then did the Spin-a-Roonie, and was quickly eliminated from the Rumble after receiving a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin.
The final four remaining were Austin, Triple H, Angle and Mr. Perfect. Angle hit an Angle Slam on Triple H and three German suplexes on Austin. Austin hit a low blow on Angle, but Perfect and Angle double-teamed him. Angle eliminated Austin as he was trying to eliminate Perfect. Austin pulled Perfect outside and attacked him before Angle attacked Austin from behind. Back in the ring, Perfect and Angle attacked Triple H. Austin entered the ring and hit Perfect, Angle and Triple H with a steel chair before leaving. Angle hit Perfect with a clothesline by accident, and Perfect hit a Perfect-Plex on Angle. Triple H then eliminated Perfect with a clothesline, leaving only Angle and Triple H. It went back and forth before Angle sent Triple H over the top rope with a back body drop, but Triple H held on. Angle thought he had won, and celebrated. Triple H took advantage, and executed a facebuster knee smash on Angle, followed by a clothesline over the top rope to win the Royal Rumble match, the longest in the event's history.
Steve Austin won a number one contender's match against Kurt Angle on the January 28 episode of Raw to earn a match for the Undisputed WWF Championship at No Way Out. A feud between Austin and Chris Jericho started with Jericho interfering in Austin's match by attacking him with his title belt.
The Undertaker continued his feud with Maven over the elimination during the Royal Rumble match, which grew to include The Rock after he mocked Undertaker for his quick elimination. The Undertaker's interference led to The Rock losing to Kurt Angle in the tournament to challenge for the Undisputed championship at No Way Out. On the February 4 episode of Raw, during a tag team match, The Undertaker grabbed a steel led pipe from his motorcycle and nailed The Rock in the head with it, allowing Chris Jericho to score the pinfall win. The Rock retaliated by hitting him with a chair and helping Maven win the WWF Hardcore Championship that Undertaker had won at Vengeance; however The Undertaker performed a Tombstone Piledriver on The Rock onto the hood of a limousine in revenge. A match was made between the two at No Way Out.
Kurt Angle started a feud with Triple H, unhappy about how he lost the Royal Rumble match, and attacked Triple H after a confrontation. During Triple H's match with Booker.T, Angle interfered and attacked Triple H. Angle then had Vince McMahon make a match between the two at No Way Out for Triple H's title shot at WrestleMania X8. Triple H and his on-screen wife Stephanie McMahon were having problems, so she faked a pregnancy and demanded that they renew their wedding vows. Triple H discovered the truth, and ended their marriage. Stephanie McMahon then announced herself as the guest referee in the match at No Way Out.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Spike Dudley & Tazz (c) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley) (w/ Stacy Keibler) to retain the WWF World Tag Team Championship (5:06)
- William Regal defeated Edge (c) to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship (9:45)
- Trish Stratus (c) defeated Jazz to retain the WWF Women's Championship (with Jacqueline as Special Referee) (3:43)
- Ric Flair defeated Vince McMahon in a Street Fight (14:55)
- Chris Jericho (c) defeated The Rock to retain the WWF Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship (18:48)
- Triple H won the Royal Rumble by last eliminating Kurt Angle (1:09:22)
Royal Rumble entrances and eliminations
A new entrant came out approximately every 2 minutes.
|3||The Big Boss Man||1||Rikishi||3:05|
|12||Scotty 2 Hotty||12||Page||2:36|
|14||Diamond Dallas Page||13||Christian||5:15|
|16||The Godfather||15||Christian & Chuck||2:48|
|17||Albert||14||Christian & Chuck||0:48|
|23||The Hurricane||21||Triple H & Austin||0:39|
|25||Mr. Perfect||28||Triple H||15:18|
|26||Kurt Angle||29||Triple H||16:09|
|27||The Big Show||23||Kane||2:45|
|29||Rob Van Dam||25||Booker||2:12|
- After Undertaker was eliminated, he went back in the ring, eliminated Maven, and assaulted him throughout the arena.
- This was Austin's 36th career elimination in the Royal Rumble, which was a record held for eight years until Shawn Michaels broke it in the 2010 Royal Rumble.
Other on-screen talent
- Royal Rumble 2002 Official website
- Royal Rumble 2002 at CAGEMATCH.NET
- Royal Rumble 2002 at Online World of Wrestling
- Royal Rumble 2002 on WWE Network
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