Jericho vs. Rock Royal Rumble 02

Welcome to The Wrestling Match Review. Picking a title for a new column is always difficult so when I’m having trouble with it, I try to make a simple title rather than a clever title. In my opinion, the content of the column is much more important than the name of the column. In this column, I will be doing what the title says…reviewing wrestling matches. I think most of the matches I review will be at least a few years old. I will focus on matches that are not very well known so don’t expect me to review many five star classic matches. I’m not saying I will avoid great matches, but I will try to review matches that not everyone has seen and matches that I think don’t get as much attention as they deserve. This review is a review of a WWE match, but I will try to review matches from other wrestling promotions. I think most of the matches I will review will be WWE matches because of the amount of WWE matches I have in my DVD collection, but there are many non-WWE matches I could review. Sometimes I will review matches because of something currently happening in wrestling which is why I picked this match. The 2013 Royal Rumble is this Sunday and finally…The Rock has come back to the Royal Rumble. The Rock will face CM Punk for the WWE Championship. The last time The Rock had a match at the Royal Rumble was in 2002 when he faced Chris Jericho so I thought this match was an appropriate match to review for the debut of The Wrestling Match Review.

The Facts:

  • This match happened on January 20, 2002 at the Phillips Arena in Atlanta, Georgia. The attendance was 12,915. The Royal Rumble returned to the Phillips Arena in 2010.
  • This was the last match before the 30-man Royal Rumble match. The Royal Rumble was won by Triple H.
  • This match ranked #13 in a Bleacher Report article titled “25 Greatest Matches of Chris Jericho’s Career”. Click HERE to read it.
  • Jericho’s WWE Undisputed Championship was on the line in this match. Jericho won the championship at the previous Pay-Per-View (Vengeance).
  • When Jericho made his WWF debut on August 9, 1999, he interrupted The Rock’s in-ring promo.
  • Jericho wrote in his book Undisputed, “The Rock is one of my all-time favorite opponents. Because he’s such a great entertainer, people forget how awesome he was as a worker. In my opinion, he’s one of the best ever.”
  • Jericho’s first official RAW match was against The Rock.
  • In 2010, Jericho talked about The Rock turning his back on the wrestling business. Jericho said, “The Rock is a great guy, he’s a great actor, he was a great wrestler–one of my favorites–but I don’t understand why he doesn’t want to come back to the show once in a while…Maybe it’s just that Rock’s scheduling doesn’t work out, but I never have that problem…I never want to hide my wrestling background. I’m very proud of it, and if it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be where I am today doing all these other great things.”
  • Bill Simmons wrote a running diary of Royal Rumble 2002 for Click HERE to read it.
  • Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter gave this match a ****1/4 rating.
  • Jim “JR” Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler were the announcers for this match.
  • The time length of this match was 18:48.

The Match:

Before the match starts, Chris Jericho talks to The Rock. Jim “JR” Ross says Jericho is talking trash. The Rock starts to talk back, but Jericho puts his hand in front of Rock’s face to shut him up. The bell rang right when Jericho raised his hand so the match has officially started. None of the conversation is being heard on TV. Jerry “The King” Lawler thinks Jericho may have said something about The Rock’s mother. Jericho gives Rock the “Just Bring It” hand signal and Rock hits Jericho in the face. Rock lands some offensive attacks on Jericho and then hits him with a Samoan Drop. Rock goes for an early pin, but Jericho kicks out. Rock whips Jericho into the ropes and Jericho leaves the ring. Rock leaves the ring too and starts chasing Jericho around the ring. Jericho goes back into the ring and bounces off the ropes, but Rock hits him with a spear. Jericho fights back and is able to knock Rock down. Jericho attacks Rock in the ring corner. Jericho whips Rock into another ring corner and tries to attack him again, but Rock gets out of the way and Jericho’s shoulder hits the ring post. Rock tries to take control of the match, but Jericho stops Rock’s comeback. Jericho gets Rock back in the ring corner and gives him Ric Flair slaps. Jericho goes for a third slap, but Rock ducks it and now Jericho is getting attacked in the corner. Rock’s comeback is brief again and Jericho hits Rock with a spinning heel kick. Cover by Jericho and Rock kicks out.

Jericho hits Rock with a suplex. Jericho goes for a pin by stepping on Rock’s chest with his right foot. Rock kicks out and JR calls it an arrogant cover. Jericho exposes one of the turnbuckles, but that gives Rock a chance to get up from the suplex. Rock starts hitting Jericho with punches to the face. Jericho executes a double leg takedown. Jericho tries to turn Rock over into the Walls of Jericho. Rock uses his leg strength to avoid the submission hold. Jericho goes down, but he recovers quick enough to prevent Rock from starting a comeback. Jericho goes to the top turnbuckle and hits Rock with a missile dropkick. Jericho goes for a pin and Rock kicks out. Jericho has his hands under Rock’s chin and he is pulling Rock’s head back. Jericho is telling the referee to, “Ask him.” Now Jericho has Rock in a sleeper hold. The referee checks on Rock’s arm to see if he is able to continue and Rock stops his arm from going down three times. Rock attempts a comeback, but Jericho stops it again. Jericho climbs to the top turnbuckle and Rock grabs the top rope which causes Jericho to fall on his groin. Rock hits Jericho with a superplex off the top turnbuckle. Both men are down. Jericho gets up first, but The Rock attacks Jericho first. Rock takes down Jericho and gets a near-fall. Rock’s comeback is brief and Jericho hits Rock with a bulldog. Then Jericho hits Rock with two lionsaults. Jericho covers Rock and Rock kicks out at two. Jericho can’t believe it and argues with the referee. Jericho jumps off the middle turnbuckle and Rock counters it into the Sharpshooter. Lance Storm comes out and distracts the referee while Jericho taps out. Christian enters the ring and Rock quickly gets him out of the ring, but the distraction leads to Jericho hitting Rock with the Rock Bottom! Cover and Rock kicks out at two! Jericho removes his right elbow pad…he’s going for the People’s Elbow! Jericho bounces off the ropes and Rock nips up! Rock throws Jericho out of the ring. Rock leaves the ring and starts taking apart the WWE announce table. This is my favorite part of the match because Lawler points to the Spanish announce table and says, “Rock, over there…that’s the Spanish announce table over there Rock.” Jericho fights back and now they are by the Spanish announce table. Rock and Jericho are on the Spanish announce table and Jericho is setting up the Rock Bottom. Rock counters it and Rock Bottoms Jericho from the Spanish announce table to the WWE announce table! The table is destroyed!

Rock rolls Jericho back into the ring. Rock goes for a pin and Jericho kicks out at two. Rock tries to hit Jericho with the Rock Bottom, but Jericho fights out of it. Jericho grabs Rock’s legs and puts him in the Walls of Jericho. Rock gets to the rope. Jericho pulls him away from the ropes and Rock executes an inside cradle pin. Jericho kicks out. Jericho avoids Rock after Rock bounces off the ropes and Rock accidentally knocks down the referee. Jericho hits Rock with his championship belt. I think Christian brought the belt into the ring before Rock knocked Christian out of the ring. Rock and the referee are down. A new referee enters the ring and counts Jericho’s pin. Rock kicks out at two! Jericho picks Rock up from the mat and Rock hits Jericho with a DDT. Rock pins Jericho, but the referee won’t count. The referee is Nick Patrick. I don’t remember watching Patrick when I was younger, but I read he was a heel referee like Brad Maddox. Rock is mad and he gives Patrick a Rock Bottom. Now there are two referees down. Rock hits Jericho with the People’s Elbow. Rock pins Jericho, but there is no referee. Rock tries to wake up the first referee Earl Hebner. Jericho hits Rock with a low blow. Then Jericho forces Rock’s head into the exposed steel turnbuckle. Jericho pins Rock and Jericho’s legs are on the rope. Hebner is awake now and counts to three. Jericho is still the WWE Undisputed Champion.

Winner: Chris Jericho

Rating: ****

I enjoyed watching this match, but this is not my favorite Jericho vs. Rock match. My favorite is Jericho vs. Rock at No Mercy 2001. This is also not my favorite Rock match from the Royal Rumble. My favorite is the Rock vs. Mankind I Quit match at Royal Rumble 1999. Jericho looked good in this match, but The Rock proved that Jericho was not good enough by kicking out of two lionsaults and a Rock Bottom. He also didn’t tap out to the Walls of Jericho and kicked out of a pin after he was hit with the championship belt. Jericho had to perform three illegal moves in a row (low blow, using the exposed turnbuckle as a weapon, and pin with legs on the rope) to defeat The Rock. The match didn’t make The Rock look bad because Jericho had to cheat to win, but I think it made Jericho look like a weak champion because it was obvious that The Rock should have won the match. When I first saw this match, I didn’t like the controversial finish. Jericho’s title reign ended a few months later when he lost to Triple H at WrestleMania X8. CM Punk is looking like a weak champion too right now, so if Punk defeats Rock at the Royal Rumble, I expect him to cheat to win just like Jericho did in this match.

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