Mega Powers Running Wild!

The legendary 'Macho man' Randy Savage teams up with 'The Immortal' Hulk Hogan to take on Ted Dibiase and Andre The Giant in the first ever WWF Summerslam!

Shawn Micahels vs. Mankind

The Heartbreak Kid defends the WWF Championship against Mankind in a thrilling main event at WWF In Your House: Mind Games.

The Birth of the nWo

From Hulk Hogan's shocking turn at WCW Bash at the Beach 1996 to the addition of Ted Dibiase, THe Giant Syxx and more, relive the very beginning of the New World Order.

Austin 3:16 Says I Just Kicked Your Ass

It's one of the most famous promos of all time; Stone Cold Steve Austin wins the 1996 King of The Ring and serves notice on all the WWF superstars. Check it out in our complete review

Wrestlemania 12 Review

The boyhood dream comes true as Shawn Michaels battles champion Bret 'The Hitman' Hart in a classic 1-hour iron man match. Plus, Diesel vs. Undertaker and more.

WCW Fall Brawl 1996 Review

Was Sting in cahoots with the New World Order? Would Lex Luger be able to get along with the Four Horsemen as they faced the nWo in War Games? Find out in this review

Showing posts with label Cena. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cena. Show all posts

Friday, 17 March 2023

PPV REVIEW: WWE Royal Rumble 2004

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - event poster

January 25, 2004
Wachovia Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Royal Rumble 2004 was the first time (other than the inaugural rumble in the late 80s), that no previous winners were participating in the Rumble match, meaning we were guaranteed to have a first-time winner.

Going into the show, it was obvious that WWE expected us to believe Goldberg was going to smash his way to victory. Fans had taken a while to warm to the former WCW Champion, but he was finally as over as he was ever going to get with WWE fans.

Combine that with video montages which positioned him as the biggest threat to the over 29 competitors, and the fact that Big Bill had the coveted number 30 spot, it seemed inevitable. 

However, as we all know, Goldberg's time with the company was almost up, meaning somebody else would be winning the 30-man battle royal for the first time.

Let's get into it and check this show out. 

What is Life, Anyway?

This year’s Royal Rumble started on a philosophical note as a voiceover lamented on the uncertainty of life while clips played showcasing tonight’s marquee matchups.

From there, we went to a sold-out Wachovia Center as Jim Ross welcomed us to the 17th annual Royal Rumble.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - Jerry Lawler, Jonathan Coachman, and Jim Ross called the action for Raw


JR was accompanied by Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler and a brooding Jonathan Coachman.

Coach was excited to see his rivals, The Dudleyz, go down in their upcoming world tag team title fight, but first we had greetings from Michael Cole & Tazz and the Spanish Announce Team to deal with.

WWE World Tag Team Championship Table Match
World Tag Team Champions Evolution (Ric Flair & Batista) vs. The DudleyBoyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley)

I don’t think it’s unfair to call this one of the worst PPV openers WWE had presented us with for some time.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - The Dudleyz wait on Batista and Ric Flair


Things began with Batista cutting the music early so that he could insult both The Dudleyz and the local Philly sports team in an effort to get some cheap heat.

It didn’t really work.

The crowd wasn’t that into this one, and that’s not much of a surprise when you consider what a half-assed mess it was.

After the better part of five boring minutes, Jonathan Coachman came down to stop Bubba Ray & D’Von from putting their opponents through a table.

Predictably, Coach ate some wood, then, seconds later, Batista sauntered into the ring, dropped D’Von through a table, and that was that.

This wasn’t very good.
Your Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Batista & Ric Flair

Post-match, a battered Jonathan Coachman shoved a microphone in Ric Flair’s face.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Jonathan Coachman celebrates with Batista and Ric Flair

Flair was so erratic here that even the subtitles on Peacock say ‘indecipherable’ for most of his promo.

From what I could make out, Nature Boy yelled, “DUDLEYZ! Nananajibbawabba EVOLUTION! wibbydabbynabba TABLES! WOOO!”

Great work there from one of the all-time greats.

Word Life

Backstage, Josh Matthews asked John Cena about his chances in tonight’s Royal Rumble match.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - RVD interupts John Cena's promo with Josh Matthews

Cena started rapping, only for Rob Van Dam to pop up and rhyme Cena’s ‘you can’t see me’ with ‘ RVD.’

It was pretty funny and a great way to cheer this writer up after that shoddy opener.

Anyway, Van Dam left, and Cena finished his promo, promising, in charismatic fashion, to win tonight’s rumble.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble (w/ Nidia)

This was another short match, albeit much better than the first.

Jamie Noble quickly used his toughness and brawling skills to counter Rey Mysterio’s speed and agility, but it wasn’t to be Noble’s night.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble

His girlfriend, Nidia, was on the outside feigning blindness after Noble had recently used her as a human shield to protect himself from Tajiri’s mist on an episode of Smackdown.

As Noble ran the ropes, Nidia ‘accidentally’ tripped him, setting Rey up to deliver the 619 and win the match.

This could’ve been better had it been given more time, but it was still a good effort all round.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Rey Mysterio

Afterward, Noble berated Nidia as the two walked to the back, leaving Mysterio to celebrate his big win in the ring.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - Rey Mysterio celebrates his cruiserweight championship victory

Up next, we got a look back at the falling out between Eddie Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero Jr., their subsequent rivalry and, ultimately, our next match.

Chavo Guerrero Jr. (w/ Chavo Guerrero Sr.) vs. Eddie Guerrero

This was another short match. I mean, OK, it went at least as long as the last two matches combined, but when you’ve got two talents like Eddie and Chavo going at it, the match could’ve easily gone another five or ten minutes with no dip in quality.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - Eddie Guerrero vs. Chavo Guerrero Jr

As it happened, this was still the best thing on the card up to this point, a solid, back-and-forth battle between two skilled wrestlers who knew each other better than anybody.

After a great effort, Eddie hit the frog splash for the win.
Your Winner: Eddie Guerrero

Post-match, Eddie got revenge on both Chavo Jr. and Chavo Sr. for their recent attacks on him by beating both men to a pulp.

It was awesome.

Who Will Win the Royal Rumble?

Backstage, Josh Matthews attempted to interview Chris Benoit about being the number one entrant into tonight’s Rumble match.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 Review - Evolution interrupt Chris Benoit's interview

Before he could get very far, however, The Rabid Wolverine was interrupted by his former Four Horsemen boss, Ric Flair.

With his allies, Batista and Randy Orton, in tow, Naitch put Benoit over as the greatest technical wrestler of all time but still insisted that it would be Orton who won the 30-man battle royal.

Flair reminded Benoit that he’d had multiple opportunities yet never won ‘the big one,’ playing up to the story that was following Benoit into the rumble.

Feeling excited, Flair finished his rambling by throwing champagne onto Matthews. Wooo indeed.

WWE Championship
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly

As someone who was completely tuned out from wrestling in 2004, it blows my mind to see Sparky Plug facing Brock Lesnar in a title match, but here we are.
WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Brock Lesnar vs. Hardcore Holly


Lesnar had broken Hardcore Holly’s neck back in 2002. Now, Holly was back and seeking revenge.

In a pre-match video, he had promised that he wasn’t here to wrestle Lesnar or even fight him, he was here to break the WWE Champion’s neck and end his career.

Of course, that didn’t happen.

Holly got in about 30 seconds of offense before the bell and then was promptly destroyed in a tedious six-minute match, about five minutes of which seemed to involve Lesnar holding his rival in a bear hug.

An F5 ended both the match and Holly’s shot at the main event.
Your Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar

Prior to the next match, we got a long and detailed look at the relationship between Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Starting all the way back with their time in the Kliq and DX up to their current rivalry, this was an excellent way to set the scene for the two’s upcoming title fight.

Last Man Standing Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels

I really wanted to like this match.

After I returned from my hiatus as a wrestling fan sometime in ‘07/‘08, I spent so many years hearing about how much it sucked.

Royal Rumble 2004 - Shawn Michaels stares down Triple H

Yet as a big fan of both men and the sort of wrestling fan who likes matches others tend not to, I still remained optimistic that I would enjoy it.

And I did…eventually.

The first half of this match was slow and pretty lifeless, hardly what you’d expect from two of the best around at the time.

It was only when things spilled to the outside for the inevitable ‘fighting on and around the announcers’ table’ spots that things started to get interesting, and even then, it took until Michaels’ was covered in blood for the match to really grab this fan’s attention.

The rest of the match was actually solid, a captivating effort in which a battered and bloody HBK refused to die no matter what his nefarious opponent threw at him.

Royal Rumble 2004 - Shawn Michaels vs Triple H

Shawn’s comeback saw him bust The Game open so that both men spent the final minutes of the match staggering around the ring, expending every last ounce of energy to keep the other one down for the ten count.

It was compelling stuff. Not quite compelling enough to make up for a very lackluster first half of the match, but enjoyable all the same.

Eventually, after the two men had beaten one another to a lifeless pulp, HBK caught HHH with Sweet Chin Music but couldn’t capitalize and promptly fell to the mat.

Neither man could answer the referee’s ten count, and this one was over.
Draw (Triple H)

As the crowds greeted this unpopular decision with a loud chorus of ‘Bulls**t! Bulls**t!,’ a gaggle of officials and medical personnel came out to tend to the fallen stars, quickly followed by The Game’s teammates, Ric Flair and Batista.

Both men were placed on stretchers, but Michaels, being the valiant babyface that he was, refused to go out like that and demanded to walk to the back on his own strength.

It was a cool moment, sure, but the underwhelming match and its unsatisfactory conclusion had already turned off most of the live crowd.

With all that done, Ross and Lawler introduced a final hype video for tonight’s Rumble match, which showcased every competing superstar and told us the story of how Chris Benoit had been forced to enter in the number one spot.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Taz & Jr called the rumble match

The video gave JR the opportunity to leave the Raw announce table and join Tazz at the Smackdown booth, ensuring both brands would be represented in our final match of the evening.

Battle of the Brands

Just as Howard Finkle was about to kick off the Rumble match, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff made his presence felt, hitting the ring to boast about Rae’s superiority over Smackdown.

Naturally, this led to Bischoff taking shots at Smackdown GM Paul Heyman, who came to the ring for a quick brawl between the former WCW and ECW bosses.

Not that it lasted long.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Steve Austin confronts Eric Bischoff & Paul Heyman

Stone Cold Steve Austin, who had been exiled from WWE after Survivor Series 2003 but was now back in the role of ‘Sherrif,’ rode to the ring on a Zamboni, dished out stunners to both of his former bosses, then had a short beer bash and left again.

This wasn’t the most exciting thing on the card, but the fans were clearly delighted to see Austin raising hell.

A Word With Goldberg

Even though the Rumble match had been due to commence before Bischoff, Heyman, and Austin interrupted things, we now somehow had time for Terri to interview Goldberg about his first Royal Rumble appearance.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Brock Lesnar confronts Goldberg

Not that Terri was able to get very far.

Goldberg was interrupted by Lesnar for a brief but important showdown that would take them one step further to a match at Wrestlemania.

With all that finally out of the way, Tazz gave us some final pre-match analysis before Chris Benoit came down to kick this one off.

2004 Royal Rumble Match
Featuring: Chris Benoit, WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton,
Mark Henry, Tajiri, Bradshaw, Rhyno, Matt Hardy, Scott Steiner, Matt Morgan, The Hurricane, Booker T, Kane, Spike Dudley, Rikishi, Rene Dupre, A-Train, Shelton Benjamin, Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller, Kurt Angle, Rico, Mick Foley, Christian, Nunzio, Big Show, Chris Jericho, Charlie Haas, Billy Gunn, John Cena, Rob Van Dam, and Goldberg

Benoit was joined in the ring by number two entrant, Randy Orton, and the two wasted no time going at until manager Teddy Long presented our third participant, Mark Henry.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Rumble match graphic

Tajiri was out at number four and fared only marginally better than JBL.

The APA member quickly cleaned house when he arrived in the number five spot, but then he immediately succumbed to a Crippler Crossface and was dumped over the ropes.

The Japanese Buzzsaw was then promptly disposed of, leaving Benoit and Orton alone to continue their brawl.

Rhyno and Matt Hardy we’re our next two combatants. They spent most of their time duking it out with each other, as Orton and Benoit battled in the corner, creating a lull in the excitement that was only slighted lifted by wrestler number eight, Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner.

Steiner got a quick shine, but was nowhere near as impressive as his future TNA roster-mate Matt Morgan, who dominated everyone he came into contact with and eliminated The Hurricane mere seconds after WWE’s resident superhero had arrived on the scene.

All the while, the in-ring action remained decent, better than the lifeless affairs that some rumbles could be, but void of many genuinely memorable moments.

Of course, that began to change as Booker T came down to fill spot number 11.

Heralded by JR as one of the favorites to win the whole thing, Mr Five-Time received a loud pop from the crowd and went right to work on his former WCW nemesis, Scott Steiner.

Kane was out next, bringing with him the match’s first major moment.

The Big Red Machine stormed the ring and welcomed one and all to an epic chokeslam party.

However, before he could add to his then-standing record for most eliminations, he was distracted by The Undertaker’s famous and ominous gong.

If you recall, Kane had assisted Vince McMahon to victory in a Buried Alice match against ‘Taker back at Survivor Series 2003 and now The Dead Man was clearly out for revenge.

Taking advantage of the confusion, Booker T hoisted Kane over the ropes to one of the biggest ovations of the match.

This was good news for Booker, bad news for Kane, and bad news for little Spike Dudley too.

The 13th Royal Rumble entrant was met on his way to the ring by a furious Big Red Machine, who obliterated him right there on the ramp.

Rikishi was out next, throwing Super Kicks left and right like he was auditioning for The Young Bucks then rubbing his bumhole in Matt Morgan’s mush.

Renee Dupre put in a brief appearance next, looking good as he tossed Matt Hardy out, only to have his post-elimination celebration dance cut short by a cornrow-sporting ‘Kishi.

The one-time Headshrinker sent Dupree over the top with yet another superkick but was eliminated shortly after by Randy Orton. This began an impressive showing by the Intercontinental Champion as he then immediately got rid of Booker T before taking a short breather and disposing of number 15 participant Shelton Benjamin.

While all this was going on, A-Train made his way out to complete apathy, battered Chris Benoit for a bit, and then got dumped by The Rabid Wolverine, meaning only our two original entrants were still in this thing.

Orton and Benoit floored one another and lay prone on the mat. As they did so, a small man in an Afro wig ran to the ring to introduce our next wrestler, one of my favorites from the dying days of World Championship Wrestling, Ernest ‘The Cat’ Miller.

In a moment of comedic relief, Miller and his buddy danced around the ring while Tazz shouted “somebody call my momma!” repeatedly.

However, before they could do anything else, Benoit threw Afro Man out like yesterday’s garbage while Orton took care of The Cat.

Our two original entrants slogged it out some more until Kurt Angle arrived, and he and Benoit once again showed by The Olympic Gold Medalist still lists Benoit as his favorite opponent.

While this was going on, Orton beautifully sold the toll the match was taking on him, playing dead in the corner and falling victim to a brief assault by Rico before tossing the wrestling hair stylist and promptly collapsing to the mat.

Alas, Randy’s star-making performance in this match was about to end.

Test was supposed be our number 21 entrant, but when he failed to appear, cameras went backstage to find him knocked out cold.

Sherrif Austin came to check on the fallen grappler -more out of concern for the match going on than for Test himself- and began yelling at some unseen, offscreen character presumed to be the mystery attacker.

Stone Cold questioned the person’s reasoning before sending them to the ring and ordering them to take Test’s place.

At that point, Mick Foley’s music struck, and the Hardcore Legend rushed to the ring.

WWE Royal Rumble 2004 - Mick Foley

In the run-up to this event, Randy Orton had spat in Foley's face, but Mick merely walked away instead of retaliating. That led to Steve Austin inviting Foley to the show, and for most of the night, the announcers had discussed whether no-showing instead of coming for Orton would mean The Hardcore Legend was a coward.

Here, Mrs. Foley’s Baby Boy proved that he ain’t no coward by going right after arch-rival Orton as the crowd erupted.

A few moments later, Foley did his patented spot where he clotheslines a guy over the ropes but takes himself out, too, ultimately meaning both men were out of the competition.

As Christian made his way out at number 22, Foley continued to batter Orton until the IC champ fought back and attacked with a chair.

The two brawled to the ramp, where Mick stopped our 23rd entrant, Nunzio, in his tracks with Mr. Socko.

Nunzio eventually staggered to ringside but parked his arse against the crowd barrier and refused to compete as Orton and Foley disappeared backstage.

Heading into the final stretch, The Big Show, Chris Jericho, and Charlie Haas all arrived before Billy Gunn made what was supposed to be a big return, only to be greeted by total silence.

All the whole, Nunzio watched on from the ringside until John Cena showed up and threw him into the ring.

There, Lil Nunz joined Big Show in going after Cena, but when he double-crossed the giant, Show broke his back with a vicious slap, and the action continued with Y2J tossing his former tag team partner Christian from the ring.

Not long after, it was time for our 30th entrant, Goldberg.

More over with the crowd than he had been at any other time in his first WWE run, the former World Heavyweight Champion hit the ring and laid waste to anyone in sight, ejecting Billy Gunn and Nunzio before setting up Big Show for a Jackhammer.

At that point, Brock Lesnar hit the ring and took out Goldberg, making the first official declaration of war between the two and setting up their ill-fated Wrestlemania match.

The resulting stare-down between the two gave Kurt Angle an opportunity to throw Bill over the ropes, and it was down to our final six.

Identified as a threat, Big Show was ganged up on by a remaining crew of John Cena, RVD, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Kurt Angle, but even a five-on-one assault couldn’t hold the giant back.

Despite absorbing an ankle lock, a Walls of Jericho, a Five Knuckle Shuffle, Five Star Frog Splash and a Benoit diving headbutt, Show fought back and single-handily eliminated Cena, RVD, and Jericho, leading into a thrilling final three between him, Angle, and Benoit.

To the surprise of most, Show also eliminated The Olympic Gold Medalist before serving as one final boss battle for Benoit to overcome on his journey to victory.

The ending was the highlight of the whole match, at least from an in-ring standpoint, and proved that WWE really did know how to book Big Show properly when they wanted to.

He looked impressive here, but not as much as Benoit, who, after well over an hour action, finally got rid of Big Show and secured his place in a championship match at Wrestlemania.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit

Jim Ross gave an impassioned speech praising our victor as Benoit looked positively overcome with emotion and the 2004 Royal Rumble came to an end.

For the most part, Royal Rumble 2004 was a good effort from WWE. Sure, the opening tables match wasn't much, the Lesnar/Holly clash was as bizarre as it was pointless, and HBK/HHH took a while to get good, but Mysterio/Noble, Eddie/Chavo, and the Rumble match all delivered in their own way. 
Of course, as he head into Chris Benoit's journey to Wrestlemania, I find myself troubled more and more by a problem I've had many times writing this blog, and a problem that I'm sure many fans and wrestlers alike also deal with: Separating what Benoit did in the ring from what he did on that terrible night in 2007. 
Still, I may save that rant for another time. 

For more Royal Rumble reviews, see:

Wednesday, 18 January 2023

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 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: 

Thursday, 17 November 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE No Mercy 2003

WWE No Mercy 2003 Review

October 19, 2003,
1st Mariner Arena in Baltimore, Maryland.

Introduction - Smackdown had been the better brand since split PPVs had come into place -0 would they stay that way tonnight.

Vince McMahon is an Abusive Father

Tonight's opening video package focused primarily on the rivalry between Vince McMahon and his daughter, Stephanie, a rivalry which was basically all about Mr. McMahon being an evil and abusive father who booked himself in a match against his daughter even though it was the last thing Stephanie wanted. 

The McMahon story dominated this opening, after which about 30 seconds was given over to hyping the WWE Championship match between reigning champion Brock Lesnar and his challenger, The Undertaker.


From there, we got the usual crowd shots and pyro as an overly enthusiastic Michael Cole welcomed us to the show. I swear, as Cole bounced giddily in his chair while introducing his colleague, Tazz, it seemed like he'd snorted several lines of coke just before going on air. 

Tazz and Cole then gave us a wave to the Spanish announce table before getting on with our opening match.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Tajiri vs. Rey Mysterio

Before the bell, Rey Mysterio had referee Brian Hebner check Tajiri's mouth for the Evil Japanese Mist of Doom, something more wrestlers really should have been doing given Tajiri's reputation for spraying it everywhere.


From there, the two locked up and gave us a thrilling opening contest that combined fast-paced action with a solid ground game. The whole thing got better the longer it went on, building towards a climatic finale complete with some dramatic near falls.

At that point, a "fan" rushed the ring and distracted Rey, allowing the champion to capitalize and steal the victory.

Of course, the "fan" wasn't a fan at all, it was debuting superstar Jimmy Yang, who was joining the company as an ally of Tajiri.
Your Winner and Still WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Tajiri

Out in the back, a nervous Josh Matthews interrupted Mr. McMahon to ask him about his match tonight.


As captivating a presence as he always was, Vince cut a strong promo in which he claimed that he was sad about what he'd have to do tonight but was going to do it anyway because the issue was mostly personal but also partly business. 

McMahon wrapped up by warning that anybody who got involved and tried to help Stephanie would never be employed ever again, not just in WWE, but anywhere, 

That was good stuff from the chairman of the board.

A-Train vs. Chris Benoit

Though it took a while to build up momentum, this one gradually developed into a solid match which must undoubtedly go down as one of A-Train's better performances of his career.

Like I've said about countless matches before, this wasn't the greatest thing you'll ever see, but it was perfectly good enough and was compelling without being overly dramatic. 

After the better part of 10 minutes, Chris Benoit locked A-Train in a sharpshooter in tribute to the Hart Family after the then-recent passing of Stu Hart

A-Train tapped and that was that.
Your Winner: Chris Benoit 

Backstage, Matt Hardy searched for his buddy Shannon Moore and found him being choked out by Heindenriech


Hendenreich was annoyed that Matt Hardy had thrown his WWE tryout tape in the garbage, but Matt promised that wasn't actually the case and he would give Heindenreich's tape to the new Smackdown GM, assuming there'd be one after Stephanie faced Vince.

To be honest, I didn't really understand what was going on here and it wasn't very entertaining.

Zach Gowan vs. Matt Hardy V1 (w/ Shannon Mooore)

Though this was the shortest match on the card so far, it was still pretty fun. The Matt Hardy V1 character was always entertaining and when you combined that with the simple story of the plucky underdog trying to get the better of the arrogant heel, it came off well. 


After a decent enough match, Zach Gowan scaled the top rope and landed an impressive moonsault to pick up his first win in WWE. 
Your Winner: Zach Gowan

Back in Vince's locker room, Linda McMahon begged her husband not to wrestle their daughter tonight. 

Vince refused to reconsider but did change up the rules, making it a no-holds barred match and decreeing that while he could only win via submission, Stephanie could win by pin or submission. 

The APA (Farooq & Bradshaw) vs. The Basham Brothers (Doug & Danny Basham)

As Bradshaw greeted some military personnel in the front row, a flashback to Smackdown showed us him decapitating The Basham's manger, Shaniqua.


That led to Doug and Danny Basham getting some revenge by destroying Bradshaw with a chair, leading to the bald-headed duo's WWE PPV debut here tonight against Bradshaw and Farooq.

Since Shaniqua had been taken out, she didn't accompany her boys to the ring, leaving them alone to wrestle what was a pretty boring match until the last minute or so. 

At that point, Bradshaw started tossing out Last Calls to his opponents, only for Shaniqua and her new breasts to run in and clobber JBL over the head, giving the win to her team.
Your Winners: The Basham Brothers 

Out in the back, The Bashams fondled Shaniqua while she told Josh Matthews that JBL's attack on her had made her chest swell and that it would be permanent. 

In other words, it the attack and subsequent time away from TV was a way to give her a break to get a boob job

Up next, we got a video package hyping the first ever Father vs. Daughter I Quit Match in which Stephanie would lose her job as Smackdown GM if she lost.

I don't know why anybody would want to see Vince vs. Steph, but here we are. 

I Quit Match
Stephanie McMahon (w/ Linda McMahon) vs. Mr. McMahon (w/ Sable)

This was awful. 

I don't mean in the sense that the wrestling wasn't any good. Weirdly enough, the crowd were into the whole thing and it was the hottest match of the night so far. 


I just meant that the whole storyline was in too poor taste for this writer's liking.

I know, call me soft or old-fashioned or whatever  you want, but even in the fake world of scripted pro wrestling, I don't find anything entertaining about a man physically abusing his daughter and then his wife.

That's precisely what happened here. 

Vince beat up Steph, Steph got hold of a steel pipe that Sable had thrown in the ring and destroyed her Dad with it to the delight of the crowd, but then Vince made a comeback and choked his daughter out with the pipe until she passed out and Linda threw in the towel. 


I know there'll be people who liked that, but I just didn't enjoy a second of that. 
Your Winner: Mr. McMahon

Afterwards, Vince grabbed Linda as she tended to Stephanie, muzzled her with his hand around her face then threw her to the floor before snogging Sable. 

As all this was going on, Stephanie looked upset that her mum had thrown in the towel, but handed her exit gracefully, waving goodbye to the fans as she was helped to the back.

John Cena vs. Kurt Angle 

After weeks of basically battle-rapping against one another, John Cena and Kurt Angle finally locked up as the former looked to prove that he was a bigger star than the latter.

For the most part, he almost accomplished that goal as he and Angle waged war  in an absolutely tremendous match.

This was very similar to Cena's match against The Undertaker at Vengeance 2003 in that Cena ultimately lost the match but took his opponent right to the very limit and looked like a true star in the process.

It was clearly a tactic that was paying off as the crowds became divided between "Let's Go Cena!" and "Let's Go Angle!" chants despite Cena being the babyface. 

Of course, I've made this whole match review about The Doctor of Thuganomics, but that's not to discredit or downplay Angle's contributions. 

The Olympic Gold Medalist was on fine form as always, helping to create what had to the match of the night before finally snatching victory the jaws of defeat thanks to an ankle lock/leg lock combo.
Your Winner: Kurt Angle 

Up next, we were shown a video package of the rivalry between Eddie Guerrero and Big Show which basically revolved around Guerrero spraying Show with a waste from a waste truck and Show getting revenge by punching Eddie's car window through.

WWE United States Championship
WWE United States Champion Eddie Guerrero vs. The Big Show

The last time we saw Eddie, he was heading into full-on heel mode, but the crowd loved him so much that he was cheered throughout the contest.


His body scarred and torn from a recent attack by The Big Show, the reigning champion entered into a good contest with his larger challenger. 

Though this was never going to claim match of the night honors (especially not after Angle/Lesnar), both men played to their strengths and looked good in the process. 

Big Show survived getting hit in the face with both brass knuckles and the US title belt as well as frog splash, but still lived to fight on and chokeslam his way to a US title win.
Your Winner and NEW US Champion: The Big Show 

Post-match, Chavo Guerrero came down and tried to console his uncle by reminding him that the two were still tag team champions, but Eddie was furious and didn't want to hear about it.

Backstage, Josh Matthews caught up with the new US champion who gloated that he'd done exactly what he told everybody he was going to do in beating Eddie Guerrero. 

A video package then aired for our main event and then it was back to the ring.

Biker Chain Match for the WWE Championship
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. The Undertaker

In case you're wondering what a biker chain match is, it's basically a "chain on a pole" match.

That was the plan anyway. The truth was that the actual chain didn't come into play until the closing moments of the match. 

Before that, we got 20+ minutes of a long, tired slog that never seemed to kick it up into the higher gear you knew both Lesnar and 'Taker were capable of. 

The two had a great battle back at Unforgiven 2002, and when they met in a Hell in a Cell match a year earlier at No Mercy 2002, that was awesome too.

This though, just wasn't. 

It wasn't terrible in the sense that the wrestling was bad or anything. Both men were capable performers who worked well together, it's just that nothing they did was all that exciting or interesting. 

Watching them, you kept waiting for some kind of big spot or match-changing move that would up the intensity and take us into the typical WWE-style main event finish.

Instead, things just plodded and plodded along until The FBI randomly ran in. 

The Undertaker destroyed them and went for the chain, only for Vince McMahon to pop up and push the challenger off the turnbuckle so that he crotched the ropes. 

At that point, Brock grabbed the chain (which had fallen to the ground when Vince attacked 'Taker), smashed his opponent in the face with it, and won the match.
Your Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar

Post-match, Brock celebrated with his title as 'Taker writhed in agony.

No Mercy 2003 wasn't the greatest show of all time. The Angle/Cena match was the best thing on the card and the opening cruiserweight match was also a lot of fun.

However, the main event was disappointing, the APA tag match was boring, and the Vince/Steph saga was awful in all kinds of ways. 

Not the Smackdown brand's finest hour then, but to be honest, I've seen much worse PPVs. 

Retro Pro Wrestling

New reviews of classic WWF/WWE events recalling every moment from Wrestlemania 1 - 30. You'll also find reviews of WCW, ECW, TNA and the occasional indie event, along with a look at old school magazines, merchandise and more.