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 Dudley Boys. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dudley Boys. 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:

Saturday, 5 November 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Unforgiven 2003

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Event poster

September 21, 2003
Giant Center, Hershey, Pennsylvania

It's no secret that Bill Goldberg's first WWE run was far from the resounding success the company surely hoped it would be. Still, by the time Unforgiven 2003 rolled around, he'd at least gained enough momentum to challenge Triple H for World Heavyweight Championship. 
Of course, this was during the period when The Game was really starting to cement his reputation among hardcore fans as someone who buried everyone he locked up with in the squared circle. 

Would Hunter's backstage clout see him prevail once again, or would WWE be willing to take one last chance on former WCW star Goldberg?

Let's dive into today's review and find out together, shall we?

Goldberg F***ing Sucks

No, that's not me saying that Goldberg sucks, that's pretty much what Triple H told us in our opening video package.

As clips played of Bill crushing the likes of Hulk Hogan and Bret 'The Hitman' Hart on WCW TV, a voiceover from The Game told us that not only had Goldberg never beaten anybody significant but that he also wasn't fit to be a called a professional wrestler and didn't belong in WWE. 

This was pretty much the same basis for Goldberg's feud against The Rock leading up to their match at Backlash 2003, albeit with the intensity and level of "Goldberg f**king sucks" attitude turned up to 11. 

Honestly, I don't get it. 

I mean, I understand HHH thinking he's better than his opponent, but since Goldberg had debuted in the company, WWE had seemingly spent his entire run telling us that he was a nobody. 

Then they got surprised when the crowds hated him.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler both called the event and wrestled on the show

Anyway, with that video over, we got the usual crowd shots and pyro as Jim Ross and Jerry 'The King' Lawler welcomed us to Unforgiven 2003. 

Dressed in an Oklahoma Sooners shirt rather than his usual smart-casual attire, Ross told us that he and King were there to not only commentate but also compete. 

Before they locked up in the ring though, there was this:

2 vs. 3 Handicap Tables Match for the WWE world Tag Team Titles
WWE World Tag Team Champions La Résistance (Sylvain Grenier & René Duprée) and Rob Conway vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & Spike Dudely)

This was supposed to be a 3 vs. 3 match with Spike Dudely teaming with his brothers. However, Spike had recently been taken out of commission by  La Résistance. In a   nasty-looking spot, one of the La Resistance members attempted to powerbomb Spike over the top rope to the outside where he was supposed to crash through a table. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - D'Von Dudley gains the advantage in Dudley Boyz match with La Resistance

However, he missed the table and clipped the back of his head against it as he crash-landed on the arena floor. 

It looked ugly, and it was no surprise that little Dudley wasn't here tonight.

The match itself was OK, though it didn't make much sense that a match that could only be won by dropping all of your opponents through tables began as a standard tag match with everybody tagging in and out.

It wasn't that this standard tag team action was terrible or anything, but by this stage, the Dudleyz had a very specific formula for their matches which they seemed to go through every single time.

On the one hand, it worked well for them. 

At this stage of their career, the team seemed to have found a comfortable spot as a reliable PPV opener. Indeed, I'm pretty sure we'd seen them open the majority of PPVs they were featured on in 2003. 

The problem was that this Dudley formula was entirely predictable so it made every match feel the same, and not in a good way.

Eventually, Bubba Ray inevitably told D'Von to get the tables. The tables were got, and the action did pick up somewhat, though it really felt like they were just stumbling their way from one table spot to the next with little regard for rhyme or reason. 

In the end, The Dudley Boyz won their 17th tag team championship despite their opponents having a 3-on-2 advantage which didn't do much to make La Resistance look like a credible threat in the future.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: La Resistancec

Before the next match, we saw a video package for the never-ending Scott Steiner/Test/Stacy Keibler storyline set to the song "Suffocate" by Cold.

Test vs. Scott Steiner (w/ Stacy Kiebler)

These two had last met one-on-one at Badd Blood in June where the winner got Stacy Keibler's managerial services. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Test looks irate as Stacy Keibler embraces Scott Steiner

Steiner had won, but for some reason that didn't end the feud and WWE decided to beat a dead horse by having the same match on an August episode of Raw in which Test had won those managerial services back.

Tonight, Stacy's contract was back on the line, this time with the added stipulation that if Steiner lost, he would basically become Test's bitch boy.

There were times when this felt like the only bad thing I could really say about this match was that it was a fairly average, by-the-numbers singles match with nothing to make it compelling or memorable.

Then there were times when both men looked as though it was their first day at wrestling school and could barely put basic moves together.

Nothing either man did excited or inspired in any way, and it was only when Stacy Keibler got up on the apron and flashed her booty that anybody seemed to care.

Stacy got involved a few more times, eventually aiming to strike Test with a chair but missing and hitting Steiner instead.

Test hit the big boot and this one was over.
Your Winner: Test

Up next, we saw a commercial for Trish Stratus' 100% Stratusfaction release on WWE home video before a video package aired highlighting the Legend vs. Legend Killer storyline between and Randy Orton.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton - Legend vs. Legend Killer

Leading into that package, JR told us that Orton may have been the future of WWE. 

In many ways, he wasn't wrong.

Randy Orton (w/ Ric fair) vs. Shawn Michaels 

At first, this match seemed a little underwhelming, but it got better and better as it went on, and, by the time it reached its climax around the 19-minute mark, it was as solid and entertaining as anything you could ask for.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Ric Flair looks on as Randy Orton puts a hurtin' on Shawn Michaels

Telling the simple tale of the cocky young rookie trying to take out the respected veteran, this was a captivating match where storytelling and psychology played just as much a part as exciting in-ring action.

In the end, Shawn Michaels took out Orton with the sweet chin music and appeared to get the three-count, only for Flair to put Orton's foot on the ropes at the last possible second.

As HBK's music began to play, Earl Hebner informed him that he hadn't won the match after all. 

Orton then immediately blasted his opponent in the face with some brass knuckles to steal the win.
Your Winner: Randy Orton 

Backstage, La Resistance were busy nursing their wounds when Chris Jericho came in and reassured them that it was all Stone Cold Steve Austin's fault for booking them in the match in the first place.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Chris Jericho tells La Resistance their problems are all Steve Austin's fault

Visibly upset with Austin, Y2J promised that he would stand up for them, and the entire WWE locker room, against the bullying, "drunk with power" ways of the Texas Rattlesnake.

Gail Kim & WWE Women's Champion Molly  Holly vs. Trish Stratus & Lita 

Gail Kim was making her PPV debut here while Lita was returning after a year on the shelf with a neck injury. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Gail Kim makes her WWE PPV debut

Together with women's champion Molly Holly and the incomparable Trish Stratus, the two helped to create a pretty decent tag team match.

There was nothing remarkable about this one, and at points, it seemed like the crowd didn't care too much at all, but it was good for what it was. 

The end came with a win for the good girls when Lita hit Molly with a moonsault for the win.
Your Winners: Trish Stratus and Molly Holly

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the intense rivalry between Kane and Shane McMahon, after which Lillian Garcia ran down the rules of a Last Man Standing Match.

Last Man Standing Match
Kane vs. Shane McMahon 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Kane vs. Shane McMahon: Last Man Standing

This was about as good as you were going to get from these two.

Shane McMahon attacked Kane with a chair as The Big Red Machine entered, setting a violent tone for the rest of the match.

What followed wasn't necessarily balls-to-the-wall action, but everything worked, everything made sense, and, most importantly, everything entertained. 

After destroying each other in and around the ring, the two bitter rivals made their way to the entrance and continued to attempt to murder one another until Shane O' Mac got the better of his opponent by swinging a television monitor at his head. 

McMahon then climbed atop one of the video walls that made up the Unforgiven set and leaped a good 20 feet to his doom, ostensibly looking to land on Kane but really just giving us one of those cool Shane McMahon stunts we'd all come to know and love. 

Naturally, Kane moved out of the way and made it to his feet as referee Charles Robinson counted out Vince's kid.
Your Winner: Shane McMahon 

Post-match, Shane was stretchered out to a standing ovation as we saw a million replays of his leap of doom. 

Back in the dressing room, Chris Jericho blamed Steve Austin for Kane being a monster and La Resistance getting their asses kicked.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Chris Jericho confronts Stone Cold Steve Austin

Stone Cold invited Jericho to take his best shot, but the former Undisputed Champion instead insisted that he had a much more effective plan to make Austin "crack" by getting in his head and playing mind games with him.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho 

Honestly, I think this was the most disappointing Pay Per View match I've seen since Shawn Michaels vs. Curt Hennig at Summerslam 1993

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Christian prepares to defend the Intercontinental Championship against Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho

Much like that match, this one featured competitors who had an abundance of talent and experience and could have -perhaps should have- delivered an incredible match but ultimately failed to.

Of course, it didn't help that the crowds were burned out after seeing Shane's 20 ft leap of death, meaning everything Christian, Jericho, and Rob Van Dam did play out to near silence for the first 15 minutes of the match. Heck, even the announcers sounded bored for the most part. 

After a long and lifeless battle, things finally picked up in the closing few minutes with a couple of entertaining spots that managed to rouse the crowd from their slumber.

Finally, following a lacklustre effort, RVD dove onto Christian with a Five Star Frog Splash, but the champion caught his opponent with the title belt and made the pin to retain the title.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Christian 

Backstage, Mark Lloyd interviewed Triple H, who promised to end Goldberg's WWE once and for all.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Marc Lloyd interviews Triple H

This was followed by a promo video for our upcoming Battle of the Commentators which was far more dramatic than the storyline deserved.

Winner is the Raw Commentary Team
Jonathan Coachman & Al Snow vs. Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler

I mean, seriously.

I don't mind them doing this kind of storyline, but this is surely a Raw match at best, not the penultimate match on a PPV.

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Jim Ross is inconsolable after he and Jerry Lawler lose their Raw commentary position in a match against Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow

With no commentary and a dead crowd, Al Snow and Jerry Lawler spent most of the time working a basic match. It was inoffensive but it was also incredibly uninteresting. 

Eventually, JR made the hot tag and began beating up Jonathan Coachman while King and Snow brawled on the outside.

At that point, Chris Jericho ran in and dropkicked Ross in the back of the head. 

Coach made the cover, and one three count later, we had ourselves a new Raw announce team.
Your Winners: Jonathan Coachman & Al Snow

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Marc Lloyd asks Chris Jericho why he got involved in the JR/King vs. Coachman/Snow match

Out in the entrance way, Marc Lloyd asked Jerich for an explanation. Y2J said he'd interfered in the match to get at Stone Cold Steve Austin as the Rattlesnake and JR were buddies. 

This was followed by a final video package for HHH vs. Goldberg and a final bit from JR and King. Ross apologized to Lawler for letting the team down.

King said that he wasn't let down, but then said "I didn't see what happened, but the referee said Jericho kicked you in the back of the head."

Well, erm, if the referee saw that, why didn't he disqualify Coach and Snow?

Plot hole aside, JR gave an emotional farewell before he and King turned their attentions back to the monitors to call their final match together. For now at least, this whole story would be over in a few weeks. 

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Goldberg

(Goldberg must retire if he lose - Triple H can lose the title on a countout or DQ)

This wasn't the worst match I've ever seen, but it was far from the most interesting. 

WWE Unforgiven 2003 - Earl Hebner lays down the law to Bill Goldberg and Triple H

Still rocking the cycle shorts as a result of a groin injury, Triple H did his best to deliver his usual "main event epic" style but sadly, it was a style that was ill-suited to an opponent who lacked the skill and experience to help pull it off. 

The result was a boring main event that this writer ultimately tuned out of, only investing any attention aagain when Goldberg lifted up the champion for a Jackhammer, drilled him to the matt, and ended The Game's  11-month title reign.
Your Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Goldberg

Post match, Goldberg celebrated with the big gold belt as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler bid us a final farewell.


A few weeks ago, I reviewed the Smackdown-only Vengeance PPV and said that it was not only one of the best PPVs of 2003, but an all-time favorite of mine. 
So it's kind of surprising that the same company who gave us that show could give us such an underwhelming and disappointing event like Unforgiven 2003. 
Yes, I know, Raw and Smackdown both had their own separate creative teams, but this is still the same company and it's kind of crazy that while Smackdown shows could be phenomenal, Raw-brand events could be so utterly blah. 

Don't get me wrong, the Orton/Michaels and Kane/McMahon matches were enjoyable, but the rest of this show wasn't that great. 

It's not that the wrestling was bad, it's just that most of Unforgiven 2003 was really kind of boring and had nothing that really made you want ot spend your itme sitting in front of the TV watching it.

That's a shame, but hey, at least I get to do another Smackdown PPV soon.

Have you read our latest book? The Complete History of WWE's UK PPV Events: 1991 - 2003? Get yours from Amazon today:

Thursday, 30 June 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Bad Blood 2003

June 15, 2003
Compaq Center, Houston, Texas

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Event Poster

WWE Bad Blood 2003 is often cited as the company's first Raw-only PPV. If you want to be all pedantic about it, it wasn't. Insurrextion 2002 was technically the first WWE Raw-only PPV, but since most fans don't count those UK PPVS as anything important, it's Bad Blood that usually gets the honor.

With that little bit of nit-picking out of the way, let's head down to Houston, Texas, to see Kevin Nash clash with Triple H inside Hell in a Cell, Shawn Michaels take on Ric Flair without telling him he loved him, and more.

Bad Blood Runs Deep

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called all the action

Our opening video focussed on three main raw rivalries:

Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin, Chris Jericho and Goldberg, and Triple H and Kevin Nash.

While focussing on their recent actions, the video told us that these feuds ran deep, hinting at / but never outright saying / that Austin’s beef with Eric might have something to do with the latter firing him from WCW while Goldberg and Jericho’s also had real-life issues back in their time in Turnerland.

Jim Ross then gave an impassioned welcome to Bad Blood as he and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler got set to call the action.

The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley) vs.Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack (w/ Theodore Long)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - The Dudley Boyz

On the pre-show episode of Heat, Theodore Long’s stable of Christopher Nowinski, Rodney Mack, and Jazz had confronted D’Von Dudley.

The former reverend hadn’t taken too kindly to it, but when Nowinski asked D’Von why he always took orders from his white brother when it came time to get the tables, Dudley did at least stop and think.

In the ring, the two teams delivered a decent opening contest.

The Dudley Boyz were now well behind the glory days of tearing it up with Edge, Christian, and The Hardy Boyz, but they’d gotten their routine down to an artform now and went through it from one trademark, crowd-popping spot to the next without it ever seeming forced.

Towards the finish, Bubba Ray Dudley ordered his brother to get the wood. Long hopped up on the apron to confront DVon, who hesitated for barely a moment before scaring off the future Smackdown GM.

In the resulting confusion, Nowinski used his face mask to hit Bubba behind the referee’s back to pick up the win
Your Winners: Christopher Nowinski & Rodney Mack

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Terri declares Steve Austin the winner of a burping contest against Eric Bischoff

Out in the back, Terri officiated over round one of the Redneck Triathlon between Raw co-General Managers Stone Cold Steve Austin & Eric Bischoff.

Each man had three burps each to emerge victorious, though each of their attempts were so loud and ridiculously exaggerated that they were obviously fake.

Not that this was a bad thing, the absolute absurdity of it and the fact that the burps were clearly piped in made it funny in a “this is so dumb it’s comical”
Kind of way.

Winner Gets Stacy Keibler as a Manager
Test vs. Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Stacy Keibler looks like she just smelled a fart

Stacy Keibler was more over than both of the men fighting for her services, so she got her own entrance and then sat at ringside as Test and Scott Steiner gave us the best match they were capable of delivering given their ability at the time.

Test's character work as the arrogant and misogynistic heel was on point and far surpassed his in-ring talent, while, at this stage of his career, Scott Steiner made a smart move to rely more on his Big Poppa Pumpisms than taking his opponent to suplex city.

Throw in Stacy's involvement, and what you had here was a fun match which served its purpose well and ended when Steiner hit Test with a Flatliner to secure the three-count and the services of the lovely Stacy.

This was never going to be a classic, but it certainly worked for what it was.
Your Winner: Scott Steiner

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Austin and Bischoff prepare to eat pie

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff and Steve Austin prepared for round 2 of thieir redneck triathlon; a pie-eating contest.

Bischoff had, naively, assumed this to be a traditional pie-eating contest, only for Austin to reveal that rather than blueberry, cherry, or chocolate, the type of pie they'd be eating was poontang pie.

After that revelation, Bischoff had been out and picked up four young beauties to serve as the pie, and argued that as a result, he should go first.

Offering a counter-argument, Stone Cold insisted that since they were in his home state of Texas, he should go first.

The two went back and forth on this because, you know, who wants slopppy seconds? 

Eventually, however, Austin relented and agreed that Bischoff could go first as long as he -Austin- got to pick "which flavor of pie" Uncle Eric got to eat.

I've never seen this show before as I was taking a break from wrestling in 2003, but I feel like I can almost guarantee that Austin picks some fat, ugly woman rather than one of the four beauties and we're all supposed to find it hilarious.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Christian vs. Booker T

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Christian takes control of Booker T

Chrisitan had "stolen" the Intercontinental Championship by cheating his way to victory in a battle royal for the vacant title back at Judgement Day 2003.

Since then, he'd been on a roll as an "underserving champion" who constantly cheated and fluked his way to victory.

Tonight was no exception.

As they often did, he and Booker T put on a good, solid match that was the best thing on the card up to this point.

Then, after an enjoyable back-and-forth contest, the champion found himself at risk of losing, so he grabbed his belt and high-tailed it up the ramp, only for referee Jack Doan to warn him that he'd forfeit the championship if he didn't make it back before the count of 10.

Begrudgingly obeying the referee's orders, Christian returned to the ring but then smashed Booker in the face with the gold, getting himself DQ'd.

It was a solid match, though it did make you wonder why Doan was happy to strip Chrsitian of the title for getting intentionally counted out but not for getting intentionally disqualified.
Your Winner via DQ: Booker T (Christian retains the title)

Out in the back, Kevin Nash taped up his wrists ready for his upcoming match with Triple H. 

As I've mentioned many times, I was a big Diesel fan back when I was 11 years-old, so a part of me popped to see him with the initials "BDC" emblazed on his top.

The Redneck Triathlon: Round 2

OK, so I was wrong about the big, fat heffer thing.

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff

Jerry Lawler announced that we'd have the pie-eating contest right here in the middle of the ring and brought out both men for the proceedings to begin.

Austin then teased Bischoff about liking "mature women," which -if you'd ever seen any wrestling in the last 5 years leading up to Badd Blood '03- immedietly told you that we'd be getting an appearance from Mae Young.

Not that she appeared right away. Austin teased some more, drawing this out for much longer than necessary before bringing out the grappling granny.

Naturally, Bischoff was reluctant to go down on Mae, but also didn't want to forfeit. 

Not that he'd have a choice.

As Sleazy E psyched himself up in the corner, Young kicked him in the bollocks, stripped down to a thong and suspenders, and gave Bischoff a bronco buster for the ages.

When it was his turn, Stone Cold simply forfeited by booting Mae in the tummy and giving her a stunner.

This whole thing went far too long and was nowhere near as entertaining as it was meant to be, though I did laugh out loud at Austin stunning Mae Young.

A word with La Resistance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Coach interviews La Resistance

After a look back at Raw, when Kane failed to come to the aid of his fellow tag champion Rob Van Dam, Jonathan Coachman interviewed the duo's upcoming opponents, La Resistance.

Sylvain Grenier and René Duprée said nothing about the match itself, instead telling Coach that George W. Bush was a buffoon but French president Jacques Chirac was awesome.

Alright then, way to get me excited about your tag match, I suppose.

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE World Tag Team Champions Kane & Rob Van Dam vs. La Resistance (Sylvain Grenier & René Duprée)

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - La Resistance won the tag team titles

Kane and RVD may not have been on the page, but they still gave a good effort against the young La Resistance.

This wasn't a bad match by any stretch, but it wasn't all that impressive either. It felt more like a reasonable attempt at a time-filler on Raw than a high-quality pay per view match, but if that's the worst I have to say about it then it can't have been too terrible.

After just under 10 minutes of average-at-best action, RVD went flying over the top rope looking to hit the challengers but nailing his own partner instead.

At that point, La Resistance dragged Van Dam back in the ring, hit him with a double-flapjack and won the titles.
Your Winners and New World Tag Team Champions: La Resitance

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho

I'm including this Goldberg/Jericho graphic here because I just want to show you how poorly done the graphics were for Bad Blood 2003.

WWE normally excelled in the presentation department. 

Say what you want about the quality of their product, their presentation was usually better than any other wrestling company around, but these graphics -and indeed the entire visual appearance of this show- made it look like a low-rent indie fed with graphics done by the time-keeper's brother on Gimp.

Anyway, this graphic led us to a look back at how the rivalry between Goldberg and Chris Jericho.

This all started with Lance Storm trying to run Goldberg over, only to be forced by Austin to face him in a match. Goldberg naturally destroyed Storm, who threw his former Thrillseeker's buddy under the bus and confessed that Jericho had put him up to the attack.

Jericho admitted that yes, he hated Golberg, and his reasons all dated back to their time together in WCW when Big Bill thought himself too big of a star to face The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla.

The two would finally meet next.

Chris Jericho vs. Goldberg

There's no getting away from the fact that Goldberg's first run in WWE was a disaster.

Despite being pushed as a superstar babyface, the fans had booed him out of the building when he faced The Rock back at Backlash, a reception that was so hostile and -to WWE Creative at least- so unexpected that he hadn't been seen on PPV again until tonight.

Not that it made much difference.

The fans still hated Big Bad Bill, partly because he was a WCW guy, but mostly because his limited ability was more exposed in WWE than it ever had been in WCW.

Thankfully, the ever-talented Chris Jericho was on hand to help Goldberg through, and the result was the best match you were going to get out of a monster babyface who had not much to offer and even less appeal.

After a reasonably good match, Goldberg got the win by hitting Jericho with a jackhammer.

It was a result that was never in question, and it certainly didn't harm Y2J's career much, but didn't do much to endear Billy Boy to the WWE faithful either.
Your Winner: Bill Goldberg

After the match, Goldberg argued with a Jericho fan at ringside before cameras showed us a pig pen that had been set up at ringside.

Somewhere in the back, Triple H was probably having traumatic flashbacks about Henry Godwin.

JR told us that the pig pen was for the third and final round of the Redneck Triathlon, which was weird because when Austin and Bischoff spun the wheel backstage, it revealed that the tie-breaker round would be a sing off.

This made Bischoff happy and Austin mad because everyone -including Stone Cold himself- agreed that The Texas Rattlesnake was not a very good singer.

Nature Boy Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair.

It was an emotionally charged video which really made this match seem like a huge deal, and that can only be a good thing.

Flair came out first, followed by Michaels who, wrestling in his home state of Texas, wore the very same tights we’d last seen him wear at the 1997 Royal Rumble.

OK, so they may not have been the exact same pair, but they certainly had the exact same design.

The match was excellent, and I don’t know why anybody would say otherwise.

Michaels -who had grown up idolising Flair before going on to become just as big of a star in his own right- took the fight to Nature Boy in the early going, slapping him around the ring with gusto and getting the better of him at every opportunity.

As the intensity built, Flair managed to take out HBK’s leg and worked over that for a while before the action spilled to the outside.

There, Randy Orton popped up but immediately got decapitated by a Michaels super kick before The Showstopper put Flair on a table and lept off the top rope onto him.

That proved to be the spot of the match, especially when Naitch’ sold it like it he’d just been shot.

As the match kept getting better and better, Earl Hebner took a tumble.

HBK went for the sweet chin music (albeit without confessing his love for Nature Boy) but Orton re-emerged, drilled Shawn with a chair and draped a lifeless Nature Boy over him.

Three seconds later, this one was done.
Your Winner: Ric Flair

That was a great match and I don’t even mind the interference finish if it allowed the HBK vs. Evolution feud to continue.

Redneck Triathlon: Round 3

This was supposed to be the singing contest, with Bischoff first Milli Vinillying to his own theme song before Austin demanded he sang for real.

It turned out Eric was just as bad at singing as Austin was, so Stone Cold decided they were going to have “pig pen fun,” which equated to Austin hitting his co-gm with a stunner and throwing him in the pig pen.

I’m normally pretty lenient with WWE comedy stuff, but this whole Redneck Triathlon stuff was pretty awful.

Hell in a Cell for the World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H vs. Kevin Nash

Special referee: Mick Foley

WWE Bad Blood 2003 - Mick Foley refereed the Hell in a Cell match between Kevin Nash and Triple H

Prior to the match, we got a look back at the build up to this match which involved all the referees refusing to officiate it because Triple H always destroyed them like the time he ended Tim White’s career back at Judgement Day 2002.

This led to Mick Foley being introduced as the special referee because he was the only person crazy enough to do it.

This led to a big brawl between HHH and Foley because apparently, that was more interesting than anything The Game was doing with Nash.

I can see why people may have written this match off because the first half was pretty tedious.

Eventually, however, it picked up and became a compelling blood match for the ages.

That’s exactly what I liked about this one.

Unlike other Hell in a Cell encounters, it didn’t rely on huge stunts and insane spots.

It just involved the champ and challenger beating each other -and the referee- to a bloody pulp.

It was captivating, it was compelling, and it was brutally entertaining.

By the end, all three men (yes, Foley included) looked like they’d been involved in a car wreck and it was kind of a miracle that a battered and bloody HHH was able to hit the match-winning pedigree.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, The Game’s Evolution buddies Ric Flair and Randy Orton came down to help the lifeless Champion out of the ring as Badd Blood 2003 went off the air.

This show wasn’t as bad as some people might have you believe but it wasn’t that great either.

The Redneck Triathlon stuff started humorously enough but soon descended into a never-ending dumbness that was beneath both men. Honestly, I’m a fan of both Austin and Bischoff, but what they gave us here was embarrassingly painful.

Match-wise, only the blood-soaked main event and the HBK/Flair match really stood out, with the latter earning match of the night honours.

If you’re going to watch this show, maybe don’t set your expectations too high but be sure to enjoy the last two matches.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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

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.