HHH vs. HBK – A Rivalry Among Friends – Survivor Series 2002
Click Here for A Rivalry Among Friends – Pt. 1
Survivor Series was held on November 17th in 2002 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was the sixteenth Survivor Series held by Vince McMahon and the WWE. Five years earlier in 1997, the pay-per-view featured Shawn Michaels and was marred in controversy because of it. On this year, however, the pay-per-view would be a celebration of The Heartbreak Kid. This was his second match back after sustaining a debilitating back injury at the hands of The Undertaker and it was inside The Elimination Chamber. It was the perfect setting for HBK’s triumphant return back to active roster duty.
The event featured a card packed with some of the most talented names in the wrestling business. The first match was Lance Storm and William Regal vs. Goldust and The Hurricane. That’s two of the best technical wrestlers in the history of the business in Lance Storm and William Regal, as well as two of the most charismatic in Goldust and Hurricane. They entertained for three minutes, almost on the dot, and then retreated back to the locker room.
Next up were The Dudley Boyz (Spike and Bubba Ray) and Jeff Hardy vs. 3-Minute Warning (Rosey and Jamal) and Rico in a six-man elimination tag team tables match. This was obviously a highly physical affair, full of some high-flying theatrics from Jeff Hardy. It also featured the reunion of D-Von and Bubba Ray, who had been separated due to D-Von being moved to SmackDown, while Bubba and Spike remained on Raw. The New York crowd, always big on ECW, exploded when D-Von arrived and continued to make their approval known throughout the rest of the segment. Up third was Billy Kidman vs. Jamie Noble for the WWE Cruiserweight Championship. These two are highly underrated wrestlers. Both constantly put on fluid, almost beautifully high-speed cruiserweight bouts.
After the cruiserweights, it was time for the women. In this case, it was time for Trish Stratus vs. Victoria for Trish’s WWE Women’s Championship in a hardcore match. This was a surprisingly hard-hitting affair between two of the more talented women to ever step into the ring, surprisingly seeing Victoria take home the gold from the usually dominant Trish. Speaking of hard-hitting affair, after the ladies, it was time for the monsters. Brock Lesnar, accompanied by Paul Heyman, squared off against The Big Show for Brock’s WWE Championship, with Big Show picking up a victory over Brock early in Lesnar’s career. Storyline wise, Lesnar was working the match hurt with taped ribs, and still managed to look like he was going to win. Until Heyman turned and betrayed his client, assisting Big Show in the win.
Almost stealing the show was the next match: Los Guerreros (Eddie and Chavo Guerrero) vs. Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle vs. Edge and Rey Mysterio in a three-way elimination match for the tag-team titles. This all began back when Stephanie McMahon and Paul Heyman decided that a great way for SmackDown to stand out from Monday Night Raw was to have the better tag-team division. So they held a tournament for the vacant tag titles and created The SmackDown Six (the six men in the match). All six men are legends in the business, so their matches are all unbelievable. They just mixed and matched the six of them on pay-per-views over this time, allowing them all the opportunity to constantly go out and bring the house down. The house would stay up for them at Survivor Series 2002, however, only to fall to pieces due to the next match.
This is why we’re here: The Elimination Chamber Match for the World Heavyweight Championship. The contestants were Rob Van Dam, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Kane, HBK, and the reigning Champion, Triple H. This was only two months after their classic non-sanctioned match at SummerSlam 2002, so the rivalry was still burning for old friends Triple H and HBK. The Elimination Chamber helped to bring it to the next level. Let’s not forget that this was the first ever Elimination Chamber Match. It had a standard to set. Taking one of the few intensely personal storyline rivalries and putting it in The Chamber helped set that standard. HBK and Triple H helped sell the brutality of the match.
That’s not to take anything away from the other guys. No sir. Everyone in this match was there for a reason. They were the most trusted guys in the company at the time, and they were given the task of making sure that its newest innovation wasn’t a total dud. There was no chance of that with Jericho lion-saulting all over the place, or Booker T dropping spinaroonie’s, or most notably, RVD dropping five-star frog splash’s from off the top of one of the chamber pods. Everyone contributed entertainment value, but Triple H and HBK brought the story. Everyone in MSG was on the edge of their seat when it came down to the two “former” friends, and the place exploded when a bloodied and battered HBK got the three count and was crowned The New Heavyweight Champion Of The World.
After years of rehabilitation, HBK was back. His four-year journey back to active duty on the WWE roster had culminated in gold.