PPV REVIEW: WWE Survivor Series 2003

November 16, 2003
American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

Survivor Series 2003 was only the second time in history that WWE's annual fall event had been held in Texas.

The first time was back in 1994 when The Undertaker put Yokozuna away in a casket match. Would he be able to do the same thing tonight against Vince McMahon in their buried alive match? Or would the boss have something nefarious up his sleeve? 

Could former WCW star Goldberg prove that he truly belonged in WWE by holding onto his World Heavyweight Championship in a match with Triple H?

And would Steve Austin remain employed after putting his career on the line in an elimination match that he wasn't even participating in?

There's only one way to find out. Let's get on and review WWE Survivor Series 2003.

Survive. Survive. Survive

Tonight’s opening video attempted (and probably succeeded) to set a new world record for the most utterances of the word “survive” in two and a half minutes.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Michael Cole and Tazz called the Smackdown action

Would Evolution survive whatever they were up to this evening?

Would Stone Cold Steve Austin survive with his career intact when he put it on the line tonight? 

Would Undertaker or Vince McMahon survive their buried alive match?




When we were all done surviving, cameras panned the rabid crowd as Michael Cole welcomed us to Survivor Series 2003, and the show quickly got underway.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Angle
(John Cena, Hardcore Holly, Bradshaw, Chris Benoit, and Kurt Angle)
Team Lesnar
(WWE US Champion The Big Show, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan, A-Train, and WWE Champion Brock Lesnar)

Given that I wasn’t watching pro wrestling around this time, I’m surprised to see the WWE Champion not only participating in an elimination match instead of defending his title but doing so in the opening match.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - John Cena cuts a pre-match rap promo

Before Brock Lesnar made his way out, John Cena kicked things off with a rap in which he likened himself to a fetus and his opponents to afterbirth. He then derided everybody in the match, including his own teammates, questioning out loud whether he could trade the rest of Team

Angle for a one-night stand with Lesnar’s future wife, Sable.

As the rest of the combatants made their way to ringside, Cole and his commentary partner Tazz talked about how this was a match full of loners who all had a personal grudge to settle.

Those grudges meant that the action got off to a rowdy start, with everyone crawling inside and outside of the ring.

The brawl got so chaotic that somehow Hardcore Holly got disqualified for attacking an official who tried to stop him from beating on Lesnar before the bell had rung

Bradshaw quickly evened the score by taking out A-Train but was obliterated moments later by Big Show

Things slowed down a little as Big Bad Brock’s team of Big Bad Monsters first worked over Cena then Chris Benoit, but they soon got exciting again as soon as Kurt Angle tagged in and quickly disposed of both Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones, only for the WWE Champion to immediately eliminate Angle thanks to an F5.

The excitement continued with Benoit battling Lesnar and even taking out the champion with a crippler cross-face before Cena smashed Big Show in the face and nailed the giant US champion with an impressive F-U to win the match for his team.

Other than a brief moment where it slowed down, this was a very solid opening match that helped further establish Benoit and Cena as legit main eventers in waiting.

Great stuff.
Your Winners: Team Angle (Chris Benoit and John Cena)

Out in the back, Vince McMahon caught up with Shane McMahon to tell him that he felt the fact that a father and son were competing in separate matches against two brothers (Kane and Undertaker) was both spiritual and ironic.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon

It was neither, and Shane knew it, so he dismissed his pappy by saying he felt sorry for him.

Dejected, Vince left, only to bump into Stone Cold Steve Austin. Messing with McMahon’s mind, Austin laughed with McMahon, then promptly stopped and stormed off.

It clearly wasn’t a good night for the boss.

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Molly Holly vs. Lita 

Lita had recently returned from a long hiatus due to a neck injury so, naturally, Molly Holly went right after her neck in a short but decent women’s championship match.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Molly Holly gets the better of Lita in their women's title match

Both women looked good here, and though this was a far cry from the dramatic epics we see today’s female superstars, it was still a thousand times better than some of the dross that we’d see from the womens division over the years.

Alas, for the returning Lita, tonight was not her night. 

The devious champion exposed one of the turnbuckles and rammed her opponent’s face into it to retain her title.
Your Winner and Still WWE Women’s Champion: Molly Holly

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Kane and Shane McMahon.

Our next match was billed as their final encounter.

Ambulance Match
Shane McMahon vs. Kane 

I honestly can’t think of any reason why anybody would hate this match.

Yes it was over the top, yes it relied heavily on high spots and backstage shenanigans rather than actual catch-as-catch-can wrestling, but that was the beauty of it.

This was all about two men who absolutely hated each other and wanted nothing more than to physically destroy one another.

It was a compelling story told well which  allowed both men to play their strengths. 

After a ridiculously entertaining outing, Kane tombstones Shane onto the concrete and threw him into the back of the ambulance to win the match.
Your Winner: Kane 

Post-match, Kane’s Slow Chemical theme blasted through the arena as the maniacal monster watched the ambulance leave the arena.

It was a pretty cool shot.

Brock Didn’t Lose 

Backstage, Josh Matthews asked Brock Lesnar about his loss in the opening contest.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Bill Goldberg confronts Brock Lesnar

Clearly in denial, the WWE Champion insisted that he neither lost nor tapped out and promised that he could beat anybody in the WWE single-handedly.

At that point, Bill Goldberg showed up to introduce himself. The road to their Wrestlemania 20 match had begun.

Bischoff Confronts Mark Cuban 

Up next, Jonathan Coachman came to the ring playing wearing a neck brace and playing the uber-dick heel.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Eric Bischoff Confronts Mark Cuban

Smarmy and arrogant, Coach disingenuously thanked the fans for their well wishes after he got put through a table by The Dudleyz and promised that he was going to be ‘a-ok.’

With that said and done, he was all set to leave until he spotted Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban in the front row.

Coach took the opportunity to interview Cuban, but soon regretted his decision when the Mavericks man claimed that he was most excited about seeing Stone Cold kick the ass of Coach’s buddy Eric Bischoff.

Naturally, this drew the ire of Sleazy E, who came down and called Cuban into the ring, only to get pushed down by Mark.

As Cuban celebrated getting one over on the Raw boss, however, Randy Orton came down and hit him with an RKO from outta nowhere.

To be honest, I know nothing about basketball and had literally never heard of Mark Cuban until this segment so it really did nothing for me, but Coach and Bischoff were at least entertaining.

Meanwhile, out in the back, Triple H and Batista were all set to get an orgy going with a bunch of women when Ric Flair of all people insisted that they should save the party until after The Game had beaten Goldberg.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - Evolution party backstage

At that point, Orton returned to gloat about taking out Cuban and was congratulated by his team mates as they all got stuck into the champagne and the orgy continued.

It was a silly segment, and probably the only time you’re going to see Nature Boy not down to party, but it did a great job of establishing the fact that HHH was perhaps a little over confident heading into tonight’s match.

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champion The Basham Brothers (Doug & Danny Basham w/ Shaniqua) vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie Guerrero & Chavo Guerrero Jr.)

Is it bad that Shaniqua does it for me? I don’t think it is...is it?

Before the match, the muscular dominatrix motivated her men by giving them each a literal ass whipping with a Cat O’ Nine Tails.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - The Bashams vs. Los Guerreros

Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero then arrived in their low rider to the delight of the crowd and this one was on.

The match may not have been everyone’s cup of tea, but this Dan certainly enjoyed it.

Putting their growing tensions aside, challengers Eddie and Chavo worked hard to get a solid match out of the champions, though Doug & Danny were certainly no slouches either.

After a good effort, Los Guerreros looked to have the match won but got distracted giving Shaniqua a spanking.

A few seconds later, Chavo went to kick one of the Bashams but caught his own partner instead.

A quick roll-up then allowed the champions to retain.
Your Winners and Still WWE Tag Team Champions: The Basham Brothers 

Post match, the champs celebrated on their way to the back as Eddie confronted Chavo about the loss

Austin’s Career is On the Line 

Before the next match, we got a word with Raw announce team Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler, who put over the seriousness and severity of our upcoming match.

Remember, if Austin’s team lost, his career was over.

King & JR also informed us that they’d recieved word on Shane McMahon’s condition. Apparently, he was being setup for a catscan to checkout his brain after Kane dumped him headfirst on the concrete with that tombstone piledriver.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff

Back to Austin, a video package recapped the story leading into the match.

It reminded us that although his career was on the line, if Stone Cold’s team

Won, the rule laid down by Linda McMahon that Austin couldn’t hit anybody unless provoked would be lifted.

Traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Bischoff
(Chris Jericho, Christian, Mark Henry, Scott Steiner, and Randy Orton w/ Eric Bischoff, Teddy Long, and Stacy Keibler)
Team Austin
(Booker T, WWE World Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz, WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam, and Shawn Michaels)

This one has surely got to go down as one o the greatest Survivor Series elimination matches of all time, if not one or the greatest Survivor Series matches period.

Things started off hot with Rob Van Dam enjoying some fantastic with both Chris Jericho and Scott Steiner.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - Austin confronts Chris Jericho

Steiner was eliminated, and Mark Henry followed him to the locker room not long after, giving hope to Austin, his team, and the fans that Team Stone Cold would prevail.

Alas, things took a turn for the worse as the heels systematically picked apart Austin’s squad, eliminating both Dudleyz, RVD, and Booker T and ultimately leaving Shawn Michaels alone with Y2J, Christian, and Randy Orton.

The match had already been great up until then, but it was at this point that it turned into a bonafide classic.

Beaten to a bloody pulp and barely able to stand, The Heartbreak Kid was able to dispose of Christian but absorbed even more punishment from Jericho and Orton.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 - Austin watches as Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho are out for the count

Just when things looked hopeless for Michaels and Austin, HBK caught Jericho with a small package which, given how utterly destroyed he was, came across as nothing short of a miracle.

In a heinous act, Jericho then returned to the ring and smashed Michaels over the head with it, but Shawn simply refused to die.

Summoning whatever strength and willpower he could, he battled back and set up Orton for some Sweet Chin Music, only for Bischoff to hit the ring and take down the weary babyface with a karate kick to the ribs.

Enraged, Austin hit the ring, attacked Eric and left Orton laying with a stunner.

With the referee still down from an earlier encounter, HBK draped his arm over Orton as Stone Cold punished Eric by beating him all the way to the curtain.

Then, in what has surely got to be one of the most heartbreaking moments in pro wrestling history, Dave Batista hit the ring, broke up Michaels cover and destroyed him with a Batista Bomb.

One three count later, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s career was over.
Your Winners: Team Bischoff (sole survivor: Randy Orton)

As the Evolution theme blared through the arena, Austin stopped dead in his tracks looking both bewildered and devastated.

He hit the ring to tend to his fallen soldier. Obviously there was going to be no stunner. That would have made Stone Cold the biggest dick in wrestling after HBK had almost died trying to save The Rattlesnake’s career.

Instead, as Shawn looked at Steve, his face tired and soaked in blood, and said “I’m sorry. I let you down,” Stone Cold merely gave Shawn the dignity of being able to get to his feet on his own accord and shook his hand.

I don’t care who you are, that was a genuinely emotional moment and a compelling way to end things.

Stone Cold’s Farewell

Austin and Michaels walked to the back together.

Moments later, the glass shattered and Stone Cold returned to the ring to deliver a heartfelt message to the WWE faithful.

Insisting that he didn’t feel good about anything in that moment, Austin admitted that he did at least take some solace from the fact that his career had truly come full circle by starting and ending in Dallas, Texas.

“I don’t say this very often, but I love the sh*t out of you guys,” said Austin.

At that point, Jonathan Coachman hit the ring with a gaggle of security guards in tow, raising the ire of the fans by singing the “na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye” song.

Naturally, Coach provoked Austin, so the former WWE champion beat up all of the security guards, stunnered Coach and had himself a beer bash to end things on a high note.

From JR and King’s solemn pre-amble to the parting shot of two beer cans left alone in the ring, everything about this whole thing was some of the most compelling stuff I’ve ever seen in wrestling.

Vince McMahon Must Be Accountable for His Actions 

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Vince McMahon and The Undertaker.

Although the whole thing was a little bit corny in parts, it was a solid enough story:

Undertaker wanted to be the five-time WWE champion but Vince McMahon had insisted that ‘Taker would never have the title as long as he, Vince, was breathing in and out.

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Undertaker vs. Mr. McMahon

The Undertaker had just about enough of McMahon messing with him personally and professionally and had decided that his only option was to stop Vince breathing in and out by burying him alive.

In a spooky bit of foreshadowing given the events of 2022, ‘Taker wrapped up the video with the following line.

“Every man must be accountable for his actions…even if his name is Vince McMahon.”

Buried Alive Match
The Undertaker vs. Vince McMahon 

This one wasn’t much of a match. It was more a long angle to write Undertaker off TV for a few months.

In the weeks building up to this match, Vince had been talking about being chosen by a Higher Power to eliminate ‘Taker and, as such, took some time

WWE Survivor Series 2003 Review - Mr. McMahon prays before his match with Undertaker

Before the bell to kneel down and pray to that higher power.

At first, those prayers went completely unanswered. ‘Taker attacked McMahon immediately and with such a ferocity that Vince instantly started bleeding.

From there, the American Bad Ass systematically destroyed his boss, taking his time to work him over both inside and outside of the ring while the WWE owner did an excellent job of selling the beat down.

Vince and Undertaker’s character work may have been on point in this match, but the actual action wasn’t much to write home about.

Before long, ‘Taker carried his battered rival to the open grave, but when he attempted to climb into a pay loader and officially bury the boss, there was a mild explosion which knocked him to the ground.

Moments later, Kane appeared. He rescued Vince and sent him into the pay loader as he made sure ‘Taker was down and out in the grave.

Moments later, Vince McMahon dumped a huge pile of dirt on one of his longest-serving and most loyal employees, and that was all she wrote.
Your Winner: Vince McMahon

McMahon was nowhere to be seen in the aftermath of this match. Instead, we only saw Kane frolicking manically atop his brother’s grave.

Rumors that WWE had attempted to hire Marty Jannetty to float into the rafters dressed as ‘Taker remain unconfirmed.

World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Triple H (w/ Ric Flair)

A pre-match video recapped the rivalry between HHH and Goldberg, noting that Hunter had placed a bounty on the former WCW star. 

That bounty had been claimed by The Game’s Evolution team mate, Batista, who had taken out Goldberg’s ankle, making it an easy target for the challenger in this slightly-above-average main event.

The champion started strong by beating his opponent from pillar to post, but Hunter’s nefarious heel ways and outside interference from Ric Flair soon proved too much.

We then saw HHH work over the injured ankle, only for Big Bad Bill to once again rise to the occasion. At that point, the rest of Evolution ran in and the ref went down, but even that wasn’t enough to stop Goldberg.

Overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, the champion finished things up with a Jackhammer to retain his title.

The match was enjoyable for what it was, but it was hardly something that’s worth rewatching.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Bill Goldberg 

Post match, Bill raised his title and celebrated with the fans as Survivor Series 2003 came to an end.

If I was in charge of this show, I would have absolutely placed the Team Bischoff vs. Team Stone Cold in the main event:

It wasn’t just the best match on the card, it was one of the best matches of the entire year of 2003 and inspired much more emotional investment from the audience than HHH/Goldberg ever could.

The rest of the show wasn’t terrible by any stretch.

The Smackdown elimination match and ambulance match were exceptionally entertaining and both the women’s title and tag title matches held their own.

Only the Buried Alive match was a true disappointment, and the main event, while decent, wasn’t exactly anything special.

With that in mind, you might want to watch this one as far as the Raw elimination match and then find something better to do with your time.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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  1. I always wished Goldberg stuck with the black tights and of WCW theme when he first went to WWE.