PPV REVIEW: WWE Vengeance 2003

WWE Vengeance 2003 Review - Event Poster

July 27, 2003
Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado

By the time WWE Vengeance 2003 rolled around, the brand split was in full-effect and WWE were doing all that they could to establish two solid rosters of stars.

Judging by tonight's card, which featured the likes of The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Brock Lesnar, and emerging stars like future face-of-the-company John Cena, the Smackdown brand weren't doing too badly at all in terms of star power, but would that be enough to produce a quality Smackdown-exclusive PPV?

Let's head to Denver, Colorado to find out.

We’ve Earned This..

Tonight’s opening video was a two-parter.

In the first part, stars like Brock Lesnar, Zach Gowan, and Stephanie McMahon spoke about how much they’d always wanted to be at the top of the game since they were little kids and had worked damn hard to make it happen.

I suppose that would’ve been more believable had the boss’s daughter not been featured.

Speaking or the boss, Vince McMahon himself took over the second part of the video, telling us that tonight was all about control and since he was the uber-lord of everything, he was going to control his business and kick Zach Gowan and his one-leg out of WWE.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Michael Cole and Tazz called the action

As opening videos went, it wasn’t the greatest, but it did at least give you some idea of what to expect from Tonight.

With that over, we got crowd shots and pyro galore before Michael Cole and Tazz welcomed us to Vengeance and sent it down to ringside for our opening contest.

WWE United States Championship Tournament Final
Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The referee lays down the law to Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit

As the company continued to fine-fine the whole brand extension thing, they had recently reintroduced secondary titles, bringing the Intercontinental Championship back at Judgement Day 2003 and now reviving the same US title (in lineage at least, it was a new belt) that we’d last seen being merged with the IC title at Survivor Series 2001.

A tournament has been held to crown a new champion, and what better way to wrap up that tournament than with an Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit match.

The two former Radicalz teammates pretty much always delivered, and this match was no exception.

Now playing a heel, Eddie arrived in a low-rider and tore it up with Benoit for a
solid 20 minutes in a match that was every bit as good -if not better- than their bout at Armageddon 2002.

Toward the end, there was a hilarious spot where the referee had been bumped so Guerrero took out Benoit and lay the title belt on his chest, then played dead, hoping that when the referee woke up, he’d see Benoit with the belt, Guerrero on the floor, put two and two together and give Eddie the win.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Chris Benoit puts Eddie Guerrero in the Crippler Crossface

The problem was that the ref was knocked so goofy he didn’t wake up, frustrating Eddie and resulting in him tapping to a crossface.

The referee didn’t see that either, neither did he see Benoit’s former buddy and tag team partner run in and hit the Canadian Crippler with a gore, though he did see Guerrero’s subsequent match-winning pin fall.

Man, that was so, so good.
Your Winner and New US Champion: Eddie Guerrero

Out in the back, Vince McMahon had apparently summoned daughter Stephanie to his office.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Vince McMahon tricks Stephanie McMahon

Doing his best to get a rise out of the Smackdown GM, Vince first feigned concern for his incapacitated wife Linda and promised to go to Raw and confront Kane, who had taken Linda out.

He then claimed to have bought Steph some flowers as a way of mending fences with her, only to reveal that the flowers he got weren’t the big bouquet of roses on his desk (those were for Sable), but a weedy bouquet of nothing.

This wasn’t the greatest segment, but the flower switcharoo was kind of funny.

Indecent Proposal Match
Billy Gunn (w/ Torrie Wilson) vs. Jamie Noble

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson

Long after the whole gay wedding thing was over, Billy Gunn had proven that he was straight after all by starting to date Torrie Wilson, a relationship that seemed to be founded entirely on the fact that both of them had good bums.

Then, Jamie Noble had come along, ignoring his girlfriend Nidia as he pursued Torrie, leading the blonde beauty to issue a challenge:

If Noble could best Billy tonight, she’d sleep with him on Smackdown.

The match itself was pretty entertaining. Not a classic by any stretch but perfectly enjoyable enough for a PPV undercard match.

Nidia even made an appearance and sided against her man, but even with two women on his side, Gunn couldn’t get the job done.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Torrie is shocked that she has to sleep with Jamie Noble

Noble pushed him into the ropes where Torrie was standing on the apron, so the chivalrous ass man grabbed his lady to stop her from crashing to the floor.

This gave Big Bad Jamie a chance to roll-up Gunn and earn himself some sexy time.
Your Winner: Jamie Noble

As the reality of the situation set in, a clearly distraught Torrie Wilson let out a loud and very visible “holy sh*t!”

“It’s not funny, but it kind of is,” said Tazz, summing up my thoughts exactly.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Funaki interviews Farooq & Bradshaw

Out in the back, Smackdown’s number one announcer Funaki wanted to ask Farooq and Bradshaw about getting beaten up by The Brooklyn Brawler ahead of tonight’s bar room brawl, but the APA instead decided to ignore that question and invite Funaki to the brawl.

That was next.

Bar Room Brawl

Given that I wasn’t watching wrestling during this time, I had no idea that The Full Blooded Italians’ theme music was basically a take on No Sleep Til Brooklyn by The Beastie Boys.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Bar Room Brawl

What I do know is that watching Spanky dance to that theme on top of the makeshift bar was very funny.

The Easter Bunny was also involved, and it was the exact same costume they’d use years later for that whole thing with Adam Rose.

Man, WWE really got some mileage out of that costume.

Other notable competitors included Brother Love, Doink The Clown, Chris Kanyon, Matt Capotelli, The Basham Brothers, John Hennigan, Sean O’ Haire, Matt Hardy, and Shannon Moore, Brooklyn Brawler, Orlando Jordan, Funaki, and, of course, the APA themselves.

Things started with Brother Lobe encouraging everyone to bow their heads while he delivered a message of love, only to crack a bar stool over the head of two random masked dudes.

What followed wasn’t a match as much it was just a lighthearted bit of sports entertainment, the highlights of which included Spanky getting thrown off the bar through a table, Sean O’Haire going ape sh*t with some pool cues like a bar-room ninja and Funaki striking not a single
Blow but drinking the whole way through until he was drunk off his ass and fell backwards off his stool.

In the end, only The APA and Brother Love were left standing.

Bradshaw hit Love over the head with a glass bottle and somehow that was that.

Honestly, if you didn’t enjoy that, you need to lighten up.

Not everything in pro wrestling has to be about five-star work rate and impressing Dave Meltzer.

Sometimes it can just be big, dumb fun, and that’s exactly what this was.
Your Winner: Bradshaw

Out in the back, Jamie Noble lusted over Torrie Wilson’s Playboy shoot as he boasted to a random dude about what he’d get to do to her.

When the dude asked Noble about Nidia, the former Cruiserweight champion didn’t seem to care, insisting that his missus would get over it.

Speaking of Cruiserweight champions…

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The World's Greatest Tag Team Prepare to Face Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr.

Reuniting as a duo from their days in WCW, we’d last seen Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman compete as a tag team back at WCW Greed.

Tonight, the pair took on Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas in an absolutely tremendous match that had the potential to steal the show by a large margin.

Combining mat wrestling with high flying and good old-fashioned storytelling, this one built and built and got better and better the longer it went on.

For this fan, the highlight was Kidman hitting an impressive shooting star press and taking out all three of the other combatants on the outside.

Towards the end, Rey got a top rope hurricanrana on Charlie Haas and got such a close near fall that the crowds were convinced it was a three count and loudly chanted “bullsh*t!” When the match continued.

Moments later, The World’s Greatest Tag Team hit Mysterio with a powerbomb/clothesline attack to retain their titles.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The World’s Greatest Tag Team

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Sable vs. Stephanie McMahon

Prior to the next match, we were shown a clip of Stephanie McMahon chasing Sable on Smackdown and ripping her top off before Sable ran off in a limo.

Those two would fight next.

No Count Out Cat Fight
Stephanie McMahon vs. Sable

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Stephanie McMahon gets ready to face Sable

To be honest, I didn’t hate this.

I mean, I didn’t love it but it wasn’t sloppy or horrible or anything, it was just two non-wrestlers doing their best to have a decent match and, to that end, they succeeded as best as they could.

At one point, I legitimately looked away to cough (I was crazy sick while writing this review, in case you care), and when I looked back, Brian Hebner had his top off for some reason then A-Train ran in and belly-bumped Stephanie into oblivion.

Sable made the cover, Topless Hebner made the count, and that was that.
Your Winner: Sable

Afterwards, Steph sold The Hairy Belly Bump of Death like she’d just been murdered and had to be helped to the back.

John Cena vs. The Undertaker

Before the match, a video package showed us a cocky John Cena boasting that he was a veteran and the biggest legend in the company, a claim which naturally raised the ire of legitimate legend The Undertaker.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - John Cena calls out The Undertaker

Tonight, the two would fight in a battle for respect.

And man, what a battle it was.

I’m a firm believer in the idea that, when it comes to getting someone over, actual wins and losses matter far less than a wrestler’s actual performance and the way they’re presented.

This match was absolute proof of that.

The Undertaker technically won with the Last Ride, but The move came across as a desperate attempt from a struggling warrior rather than a dominating move from a man in control of the action.

Up until that point, John Cena definitely had ‘Taker’s number and pushed Big Evil to his absolute limit in an utterly enthralling contest.

Seriously, this was excellent and I highly recommend you check it out for proof that ‘Taker could put somebody over without losing a match as he came out of this one looking battered, broken, and defeated whereas Cena, despite the loss, came away looking like a legit superstar:
Your Winner: John Cena

Before the next contest, we were shown a video package of Vince McMahon being an ableist asshole to one-legged wunderkind Zach Gowan.

The two would meet next.

Mr. McMahon vs. Zach Gowan

I was all ready to write this one off as a horrible and horribly distasteful match that shouldn’t have been allowed to take place.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - The referee lays down the law to Vince McMahon and Zack Gowan

However, that was when McMahon was in control and bullying his opponent around the ring by attacking his one leg.

When Gowan inevitably made a spirited comeback, however, this writer found himself totally gripped by the match. Make no mistake about it, suspension of disbelief was in full effect.

Seriously, this may not have been a classic wrestling match, but it was a perfect example of pro wrestling as a storytelling art form.

A match that was way better than anyone could have imagined, my only problem with it was that Vince won after moving out of the way of a Gowan top-rope attack and scoring the pinfall.

I know I just said moments ago that it was possible to lose a match and still get over, but this story lent itself so well to the courageous youngster getting the better of the sadistic old man that it was just a shame to see him lose.
Your Winner: Mr. McMahon

Out in the back, Josh Matthews’ caught up with Eddie Guerrero as the new US champion made his exit from the arena.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Josh Matthews interviews Eddie Guerrero

Guerrero boasted that what happened to Chris Benoit (getting attacked by Rhyno) would never happen to him because he was smart enough not to have any friends and gloated that Benoit got what was coming to him.

With that done, it was time for our final match of the evening:

Triple Threat for the WWE Championship
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show vs. Kurt Angle

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Kurt Angle vs. Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar match graphic

This was another excellent match on a night full of excellent matches.

Managing to stand out from anything that had gone before it, this was hard-hitting, brutal, and bloody, with all three men waging absolute war on one another for the better part of 20 minutes.

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Kurt Angle vs. Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

After an incredible effort from all involved, Kurt Angle finally took out both men with Angle Slams before pinning Lesnar to become the champion.
Your Winner and New WWE Champion: Kurt Angle

As the show went off the air, Angle celebrated with the title and jubilantly boasted that he’d done it again.

I don’t exaggerate at all when I say that WWE Vengeance 2003 was one of the best PPVs I’ve seen in a long time and probably ranks up there as one of my favourite PPVs ever.

The opening US title match, the tag team championship, and the main event world title event were all awesome, with the Angle/Lesnar/Show match in particular standing out as something extra special.

Even the stuff in between like the Gunn/Noble and Steph/Sable was decent enough while McMahon/Gowan was a master class in pro wrestling storytelling.

All in all then, an excellent show that is well worth a watch.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

Be the first to catch the latest Retro Pro Wrestling reviews by following on FacebookInstagram, or Twitter @RetroPWrestling.

Have you read my debut book? The Complete History of NWA Starrcade: 1983 - 1989 is available now from Amazon: 

Post a Comment


  1. There was no Hulk Hogan. You said there's be Hulk Hogan!!!!

  2. Yeah, I'm a dumb ass. That's what I get for writing these introductions at 5AM! Well spotted!

  3. 2003 was one of the best years to watch SmackDown. This also happened to be the first wrestling PPV I ever saw live and it was during a rough time in my family. Having us all together watching the show (and taping it for preservation) was a wonderful experience. Undertaker's my favorite wrestler and 9 year-old me was ecstatic that he won, Angle winning the WWE Title was a pleasant surprise, Price To Play was a great theme song choice. It was a fantastic night of wrestling. God, what a time to be a fan. Wish I could go back. Good thing I have my action figurines to remind me of my favorites. Got a handful at Larger Than Life Toys https://largerthanlifetoys.com/ here in Syracuse. They have classics and elites. So much to choose from perfect for old or new wwe fans.