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WWE RAW underwent a couple of monumental changes in 2002. The red brand hosted the first-ever draft lottery episode wherein brand exclusivity came into effect. The brand extension was soon followed by WWF’s rebrand into World Wrestling Entertainment.

Moreover, Vince McMahon brought archrival Eric Bischoff into WWE’s fold in one of the most shocking moments in sports entertainment history. The former WCW President entered hostile territory on July 15, 2002, to the shock of everyone backstage and in attendance.

Perhaps the most important change came when McMahon called for “Ruthless Aggression” inside the squared circle. This era is associated with the dawn of a new generation of WWE superstars – as well as the classic matches that went down inside the ring.

WWE RAW, in particular, saw a huge boost in match quality in the wake of brand extension. In-ring storytelling went up a notch due to the focus on work rate. That being said, let’s take a look at some of the best matches from the red brand in 2002:

Video Credit: YouTube

Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Booker T & Goldust (December 23)

Booker T and Goldust found themselves in an unlikely alliance in 2002. The duo captured the World Tag Team Championship at Armageddon 2002. The pair defended their championship against Christian and Chris Jericho on the final WWE RAW of 2002.

This was a great match, and the champions received loud support from the crowd. Goldust did some great work as he tried to prove to Booker T he wasn’t the weak link to the team. The Bizarre One earned his partner’s trust by getting the decisive win.

Video Credit: YouTube

Triple H vs. Kurt Angle (March 4)

Triple H reignited his feud with Kurt Angle at the 2002 Royal Rumble. The Game got his WrestleMania X8 main event at the expense of the Olympic Gold Medalist. The duo spent the following months in a series of heated matches.

One of their better outings came inside a steel cage on the March 4 episode of WWE RAW. Both men used the grueling steel structure to dish out punishment on each other. Angle won the match after nearly 16 minutes of great action.

Image Credit: Pro Wrestling Wiki

Rob Van Dam vs. Eddie Guerrero (May 27)

RVD and Eddie Guerrero were already masters of their craft when they squared off against each other in this Ladder Match. Latino Heat used his innovative offense to try and outdo the unorthodox yet super-efficient Van Dam.

The crowd was red hot for the two as they busted out high-risk moves to try and claim the title for themselves. The Whole Dam Show went on to win the match after a five-star performance.

Video Credit: YouTube

Jeff Hardy vs. The Undertaker (July 1)

The Hardys split as a result of the first brand extension in 2002. Matt went to SmackDown. Jeff became exclusive to WWE RAW. The Charismatic Enigma found himself in a Ladder Match for the Undisputed Championship against then-champion The Undertaker.

Hardy spent the opening moments toying with the American Badass. He used his experience in ladder matches to take out the Deadman by surprise. The Phenom quickly retaliated and used his striking abilities to pummel the challenger.

Jeff had crowd support behind him and used it to regain his momentum. The match also featured one of the greatest calls from Jim Ross. The legendary JR pleaded with Jeff to “climb the ladder kid, make yourself famous!”

Unfortunately, that wasn’t Jeff’s night, as he was put away from the top of the ladder by the champion. Taker did come back after the match to put over the Daredevil for the guts he displayed during the match.

Video Credit: YouTube

TLC IV (WWE RAW – October 7)

The Attitude Era may be credited with revolutionizing tag team TLC matches, but the Ruthless Aggression Era redefined expectations by routinely putting these matches on free television. One such match came on WWE RAW in October 2002.

The fourth installment in the infamous Tables, Ladders & Chairs match, pitted seven of the most daring individuals inside the same ring. The heavily outnumbered Kane put his tag team titles on the line against Spike/Bubba Dudley, Jeff Hardy/RVD, and Chris Jericho/Christian.

It wasn’t just the Big Red Machine soloing his opponents inside the ring. The legendary Jim Ross also didn’t have his broadcast partner by his side, but he made every moment of the match look believable through his legendary work that night.

TLC IV had all the elements that make up a timeless classic. It was chaotic, filled with drama, emotion, and excitement. Every man inside the ring played his part to perfection. From Jeff Hardy putting Kane through the table to Chris Jericho locking RVD in the Walls of Jericho on the top of the ladder, TLC IV turned out to be one of the greatest WWE matches of all time.

Honorable Mentions

The Rock vs. Eddie Guerrero (WWE RAW – July 22)
Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (January 28)
Brock Lesnar vs. RVD (June 24)
RVD vs. Jeff Hardy (WWE RAW – July 22)

Also read: Best WWE RAW Matches Of 2003

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