|King of the Ring|
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||June 23, 2002|
|King of the Ring chronology|
|King of the Ring tournament chronology|
The 2002 King of the Ring was the tenth annual King of the Ring professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It took place on June 23, 2002, at the Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. It was the final King of the Ring pay-per-view event and the only King of the Ring pay-per-view to feature the Raw and SmackDown! brand divisions.
The main match from SmackDown! was a singles match for the WWE Undisputed Championship in which WWE Undisputed Champion The Undertaker defeated Triple H to retain the title. The main match from Raw was a singles match in which Brock Lesnar defeated Rob Van Dam in the finals to win 2002 King of the Ring tournament. The predominant match on the undercard was Kurt Angle versus Hollywood Hulk Hogan; the other matches on the undercard were Ric Flair versus Eddie Guerrero, a Women's Championship match between champion Trish Stratus and challenger Molly Holly, and a Cruiserweight Championship match between champion The Hurricane and challenger Jamie Noble.
The pay-per-view event featured the annual King of the Ring single elimination bracket tournament. The winner would earn a WWE Undisputed Championship match at SummerSlam on August 25. Qualifying matches for the tournament started on the June 3 episode of Raw, with X-Pac and Booker T defeating Goldust and William Regal respectively. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown!, two qualifying matches were held. The first match saw The Big Valbowski defeat Christian. The other scheduled match was between Chris Jericho and Edge. Edge forfeited the match due to his shoulder injury that he suffered the previous week in a steel cage match. Jericho attacked Edge and worsened his injury. On the June 10 episode of Raw, the qualification continued as Rob Van Dam defeated Eddie Guerrero and Brock Lesnar defeated Bubba Ray Dudley. On the June 13 episode of SmackDown!, the final qualification matches occurred with Test and Hardcore Holly defeating The Hurricane and Tajiri respectively. On the June 17 episode of Raw, the quarterfinal matches occurred with Rob Van Dam defeating X-Pac and Brock Lesnar defeating Booker T. On the June 20 episode of SmackDown!, Test defeated Hardcore Holly and Chris Jericho defeated The Big Valbowski in the quarterfinal matches.
King of the Ring featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing feuds, plots, and storylines that were played out on Raw and SmackDown! – World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) television programs. Wrestlers portrayed a hero or villain as they followed a series of events that built tension, and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. All wrestlers were from WWE's Raw and SmackDown! brands – a storyline division in which WWE employees are assigned to a television program of the same name.
The main rivalry heading into the event was between The Undertaker and Triple H for the WWE Undisputed Championship. On the May 30 episode of SmackDown!, the storyline began when Undertaker defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Undisputed Championship. Afterwards, Triple H assaulted Undertaker, claiming that if Undertaker would give him a title shot, he wouldn't retain the title. Later that night, Undertaker distracted Triple H and cost him a match against Test. After the match, Undertaker nailed Triple H with multiple chair shots targeting his arm with it. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown!, Triple H and Hollywood Hulk Hogan co-won a battle royal to determine the number one contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship at King of the Ring. The SmackDown! owner Mr. McMahon booked Triple H and Hogan for a singles match, which was also a rematch from Backlash between the two. In that match, Triple H defeated Hogan to become the number one contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship at King of the Ring.
The predominant feud from the SmackDown! brand was between Kurt Angle and Hollywood Hulk Hogan. At Judgment Day, Angle got his head shaved bald after losing to Edge in a Hair vs. Hair match. Later that night, Hogan lost the WWE Undisputed Championship to The Undertaker due to interference from SmackDown! owner Mr. McMahon. On the May 23 episode of SmackDown!, Angle started wearing a hairpiece with a piece of amateur wrestling headgear after being shaven bald. On the May 30 episode of SmackDown!, Angle interrupted a staredown between Hogan and Mr. McMahon when he nailed Hogan with a steel pipe to the back of the head. Later that night, Hogan cost Angle a steel cage match against Edge. On the June 13 episode of SmackDown!, Hogan challenged Angle to a match at King of the Ring, which Angle accepted. Later that night, Angle and Undertaker attacked Hogan before their tag team match against Hogan and Triple H. After Angle and Undertaker defeated Triple H by disqualification, Hogan went after Angle and eventually stripped Angle's wig from his head.
The predominant feud from the Raw brand was between Ric Flair and Eddie Guerrero. For the previous two months, Flair had feuded with Stone Cold Steve Austin ever since the start of the brand extension where Austin was a free agent and signed with the Raw brand on the April 1 episode of Raw, following advice from Mr. McMahon and Flair. On the May 27 episode of Raw, Chris Benoit returned to the WWE from a neck injury that he suffered the previous year at the King of the Ring event. Later that night, after Guerrero lost the Intercontinental Championship to Rob Van Dam in a ladder match, Guerrero knocked Van Dam over the top rope with the ladder. Moments later, Austin charged to the ring and attacked Guerrero along with Flair and Arn Anderson until Benoit got to the ring and assaulted Austin, enabling Guerrero to perform a frog splash on him. On the June 3 episode of Raw, Austin defeated Flair in a match where Flair became Austin's servant. If Flair would have won, Austin would have forever been on the bench. However, the feud ended abruptly with Austin's unexpected departure from the company on June 10 for his refusal to lose a hotshotted match to Brock Lesnar. That same night, Flair lost his half of the WWE ownership to McMahon and returned to active wrestling. On the June 17 episode of Raw, Flair gave a speech over losing the position of Raw owner to McMahon. The speech was interrupted by Guerrero and Benoit. Flair challenged Guerrero to a match at King of the Ring, which Guerrero accepted. Afterword, both Guerrero and Benoit assaulted Flair, ending with Guerrero straping Flair in Flair's own Figure-four leglock submission hold.
A secondary feud from the SmackDown! brand was between The Hurricane and Jamie Noble for the Cruiserweight Championship. On the June 6 episode of SmackDown!, Noble and his valet Nidia made their WWE debut by attacking Hurricane in his locker room. The following week on SmackDown!, after Hurricane lost to Test in a King of the Ring Qualifying match, Noble and Nidia made their way to the ring and took turns finishing Hurricane off with a series of slaps before taking his mask. On the June 20 episode of SmackDown!, Noble defeated Billy Kidman to become the number one contender for Hurricane's Cruiserweight Championship at King of the Ring. After the match, Hurricane got his mask back after nailing Noble with a chokeslam.
A secondary feud from the Raw brand was between Trish Stratus and Molly Holly for the Women's Championship. On the April 1 episode of Raw, after Stratus defeated Terri Runnels in a Paddle on a Pole match, Holly returned in a drastic attitude change and new look by nailing Stratus in the head with a paddle, breaking it into two. On the May 27 episode of Raw, Stratus and Spike Dudley defeated Holly and William Regal in a mixed tag team match. After the match, Holly attacked Stratus with Regal's brass knuckles. Holly would sneak attack Stratus on many occasions, leading to a title match between the two for Stratus' Women's Championship at King of the Ring.
|English commentators||Jim Ross|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|Ring announcer||Howard Finkel|
|Break announcers||Michael Cole|
Before the event aired live on pay-per-view, The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy and Jeff Hardy) wrestled Raven and Steven Richards in a match that aired live on Sunday Night Heat. The Hardy Boyz won when Jeff pinned Richards after Raven turned on his partner.
The event began with the semifinal round of the King of the Ring tournament involving Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho. The match went back and forth and both men earned momentum against each other. In the end, Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho on Van Dam, but the latter reached the ropes and executed a Five Star Frog Splash to advance to the final.
The second match of the semifinal was between Brock Lesnar and Test. Lesnar dominated most of the match until Test got control and attempted a pumphandle slam on Lesnar but Lesnar ducked the move. Test attempted a big boot, but Lesnar countered with the F-5 for the victory.
In the third match of the event, The Hurricane defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Jamie Noble. Hurricane dominated earlier part of the match until Noble got control. Hurricane regained momentum and finished Noble and went for the pin, but Noble's valet Nidia distracted the referee. Noble took advantage and executed a powerbomb and attempted a pin. Hurricane put his feet on the ropes, but Nidia knocked his feet and Noble won the title.
The fourth match pitted Eddie Guerrero against Ric Flair. Flair dominated the earlier part of the match until Guerrero attacked Flair's knee and kayfabe injured it. Guerrero worked on Flair's leg. During the match, Guerrero applied the Figure-four leglock on Flair. Guerrero continued to damage Flair's knee until Flair applied a figure-four leglock on Guerrero. Chris Benoit interfered in the match on Guerrero's behalf and distracted the referee. Guerrero began distracting the referee and Benoit applied a Crippler Crossface on Flair outside the ring. The referee noticed Benoit and ejected him from ringside. Bubba Ray Dudley interfered in the match and executed a Bubba Bomb on Guerrero. Flair pinned Guerrero to win the match.
In the fifth match, Trish Stratus defended the Women's Championship against Molly Holly. Holly dominated most of the match, but Stratus got control and began using some of her signature moves on Holly. Holly regained the momentum and delivered a belly to belly suplex. Holly went on to pin Stratus while grabbing Stratus' tights to win the title.
Main event matches
The sixth match pitted Kurt Angle against Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Angle dominated most of the match by using his amateur wrestling style. Hogan used his power moves on Angle, but Angle countered with a series of suplexes. Angle delivered an Angle Slam for a near-fall. Hogan began dominating Angle and took off his wig to reveal Angle's bald head. Angle applied an ankle lock on Hogan and forced Hogan to submit to win the match.
The seventh match was the final round match of the King of the Ring tournament between Brock Lesnar and Rob Van Dam. Lesnar dominated Van Dam for most of the match with his power moves. Van Dam got control of Lesnar and used a series of kicks and a Rolling Thunder on Lesnar. Van Dam flew off the ropes, but Lesnar caught him on his shoulders and delivered an F-5 to win the King of the Ring tournament and earned a WWE Undisputed Championship match at SummerSlam.
The main event match was for the WWE Undisputed Championship. The Undertaker defended the title against Triple H. The match went back and forth until Triple H dominated Undertaker. The Undertaker earned the momentum over Triple H until Triple H tried a Pedigree but Undertaker countered the move and pushed Triple H into the referee. The referee was knocked out, and Undertaker and Triple H knocked out each other. The Rock entered the arena and replaced Paul Heyman for commentary. Undertaker attacked The Rock, causing Rock to interfere in the match and attack Undertaker. The Rock tried to hit The Undertaker with a chair but Undertaker ducked and Triple H was hit with the chair. Undertaker executed a Last Ride for a near-fall. Rock executed a Rock Bottom on Undertaker and Triple H performed a Pedigree on Undertaker and tried to pin Undertaker, but the referee was still groggy. Undertaker hit Triple H with a low blow and pinned Triple H with a roll-up to retain the title. After the match, The Rock performed the People's Elbow on The Undertaker but Triple H performed a Pedigree on The Rock and The Undertaker performed a chokeslam on Triple H, ending the show.
The Rock's involvement in the WWE Undisputed Championship match at King of the Ring made him the number one contender for the WWE Undisputed Championship at Vengeance. On the July 4 episode of SmackDown!, The Undertaker retained the title against Kurt Angle in a controversial fashion as Undertaker pinned Angle and Angle made Undertaker tap out at the same time. As a result, Angle was added to the title match, making it a triple threat match. At Vengeance, The Rock defeated Angle and The Undertaker in a triple threat match for his seventh WWE Undisputed Championship.
Due to defeating the Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam in the finals of the King of the Ring tournament, Brock Lesnar feuded with Van Dam over the Intercontinental Championship. At Vengeance, Van Dam defeated Lesnar by disqualification to retain the title. After the event, Lesnar joined the SmackDown! brand and began feuding with the WWE Undisputed Champion The Rock as he had won the King of the Ring tournament and earned the right to challenge for the WWE Undisputed Championship at SummerSlam becoming the first winner of the King of the Ring tournament to have done so since Mabel in 1995. At SummerSlam, Lesnar defeated The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship, and became the youngest champion in the title's history.
The tournament took place between June 3 and June 23, 2002. The tournament brackets were as follows:
|Raw||Bubba Ray Dudley||4:49|
|Raw||Rob Van Dam||5:44|
|SmackDown!||The Big Valbowski||4:31|
|SmackDown!||The Big Valbowski||Pin|
|Raw||Rob Van Dam||Pin|
|Raw||Rob Van Dam||6:00|
|Raw||Rob Van Dam||9:38|
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- "WWE SmackDown Results". Online World of Wrestling. July 4, 2002. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "The Rock defeats Undertaker and Kurt Angle in a Triple Threat Match to become WWE Champion". World Wrestling Entertainment. July 18, 2002. Archived from the original on September 4, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Vengeance 2002 official results". World Wrestling Entertainment. July 18, 2002. Archived from the original on September 2, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Brock Lesnar vs. The Rock for the WWE Undisputed Championship". World Wrestling Entertainment. August 25, 2002. Archived from the original on April 29, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- "Brock's first reignInformation". World Wrestling Entertainment. Retrieved 2008-08-14.
- "King of the Ring 2002 results". Wrestling Supercards and Tournaments. June 23, 2002. Retrieved 2010-08-19.