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 Goldberg. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Goldberg. 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:

Sunday, 19 February 2023

PPV REVIEW: WWE Armageddon 2003

December 14, 2003
TD Waterhouse Centre, Orlando, Florida
It's no secret that WWE's annual December PPVs rarely feel like anything more than a stop-gap between Survivor Series and Royal Rumble. 

It's been that way for as long as I can remember, which kind of makes you wonder why they even bother in the first place. 

Still, Armageddon 2003 did at least have one thing going for it - A chance to solidify Evolution as the most dominant force in the company, if not all of pro wrestling. 

Tonight, we'd see all four members of one of wrestling's most memorable stables compete, but would that make for a good show, or would this be another forgettable outing?

Let's dive in and find out together, shall we? 

God Bless America

Unusually for a PPV that wasn’t one of the Big 4, our show began with Lillian Garcia belting out the Star Spangled Banner in tribute to the good ol’ USA.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Lillian Garcia


Once her powerful rendition was over, Lilian joined the fans in a rousing chant of ‘USA! USA!’ before we cut to the usual opening video.

Triple H is Sick of Goldberg

The video focused exclusively on the triple threat main event between Kane, HHH, and World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg.

Mixing bible quotes with an ominous voice-over and sound bites from the three stars, the only thing that really stood out from this video was a line from The Game in which he said, “you’re Goldberg, and I’m sick of it!”

The cameras then panned the crowd as Jim Ross & Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to Armageddon 2003, and the show was officially underway.

Mark Henry (w/ Teddy Long) vs. Booker T

Mark Henry and Booker T had been feuding since the former eliminated the latter at Survivor Series ‘03.

Their match here tonight wasn’t the most exciting PPV opener ever, but Booker’s enormous popularity with the crowd helped make it marginally better than this writer imagined.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Mark Henry vs. Booker T


Henry dominated for the most part, wearing the former Five Time, Five Time, Five Time Dubya C Dubya champion down with a surfboard and a bear hug before dumping him awkwardly in a botched powerbomb attempt.

Booker recovered and pulled out a big-time scissor kick to end this fairly average match.
Your Winner: Booker T

Backstage, Eric Bischoff spoke to Christian and Chris Jericho about their upcoming ‘Battle of the Sexes’ match against Lita and Trish Stratus.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Eric Bischoff talks to Christian & Chris Jericho about their battle of the sexes match


Before Jericho could voice his displeasure at the match, Christian butted in to tell Bischoff how excited he was about the whole thing.

With a forlorn look on his face, Jericho tried to object a second time, only to be interrupted by the sound of Mick Foley’s music crashing to life in the arena.

Confused and frustrated, Bischoff turned to the tv in his office to see what was going on.

Foley Wants Stone Cold Back

What was going on was this: 

Foley was the new co-GM of Raw and had started a petition to reinstate Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Said petition had apparently surpassed 1 million signatures which, in the Hardcore Legend’s mind at least, was cause for celebration.

And how do you celebrate if you’re Mick Foley?

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Mick Foley and Stacey Keibler


Of course, you invite Stacy Keibler to come to the ring wearing a cheerleaders outfit and watch her do cartwheels to the delight of the audience.

Mick even tried one of his own but it looked more like a sack of potatoes falling off a shelf.

Eventually, the celebration was cut short by the arrival of Ric Flair and his protege, Randy Orton, the latter of whom was in the early stages of a feud with Mick.

Taking to the microphone, Orton bragged about being the man responsible for forcing Stone Cold out of WWE before reminding Foley that he had a job to do as special referee for The Legend Killer’s upcoming Intercontinental Championship match against RVD.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Randy Orton confronts Mick Foley


At that point, Foley stripped out of his suit to reveal he was already wearing his handmade referee’s shirt and declared that the match would take place right there and then.

Personally, I liked how they used this segment to transition from the Bischoff/Y2J/Christian bit into the next match. The whole thing wasn’t the most entertaining segment in the world, but it was harmless and flowed naturally.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Randy Orton (w/ Ric Flair)

Special Guest Referee: Mick Foley

This one started strong, with RVD proving himself to be the quicker of the two and out-manoeuvring his opponent at every turn.

WWE Armageddon 2002 - Randy Orton puts a hurting on RVD while being admonished by referee Mick Foley


Once Orton seized the advantage, however, the match slowed considerably as the challenger clamped on a chinlock and ground both RVD’s momentum and this fan’s enjoyment to a halt.

Things eventually picked up again, with shenanigans from both Foley and Ric Flair contributing to an exciting climax in which Randy hit the RKO to capture his first title in WWE.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Randy Orton

Before the next match, we saw a recap of the story between Jericho, Christian, Trish Stratus, and Lita.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Trish Stratus & Lita


The boys had duped Trish and Lita into falling for them, only for Trish to overhear them joking about having a bet over one Canadian dollar about who could nail their girl first. 

This led to an in-ring confrontation and Eric Bischoff booking the following match:

Battle of the Sexes
Chris Jericho & Christian vs. Trish Stratus & Lita

This turned out to be better than I’d imagined it would.

Despite originally making the bet, Jericho had clearly developed genuine feelings for Trish and was reluctant to fight her, doing his best to hold her off without actually hurting her (including bending her over his knee for a spanking and yelling at her to calm down) until Stratus got the better of him with a head scissor takedown.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Chris Jericho stares down Trish Stratus


Lita and Christian then tagged in, with the latter showing none of his partner’s reluctance and going straight in for the attack.

After a few short minutes of entertaining action, Trish found herself back in the ring and at Christian’s mercy.

Y2J stepped in and helped her to her feet, only for Christian to roll her up for the three count.
Your Winners: Christian & Chris Jericho

Post-match, a clearly bothered Jericho was reluctant to join in with his partner’s victory celebration.

This was followed by a look at Batista costing Shawn Michaels a win at Survivor Series ‘03 and ultimately costing Stone Cold Steve Austin his career.

In the weeks that followed, Michaels had wrestled with his conscious but had bigger problems with Batista, leading to tonight’s match.

Shawn Michaels vs. Batista (w/ Ric Flair)

This wasn’t the best Shawn Michaels match you’ll ever see, but it was the best that the veteran could get out of his inexperienced opponent at this early stage in The Animal’s career.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Batista puts Shawn Michaels in a back breaker

Michaels started off in control, getting one over on Batista without too much effort and looking overly confident in the process.

The Evolution member then turned the tide by decapitating HBK with a wicked clothesline.

The resulting back-and-forth was good but, as I say, not as good as it could have been had Batista been at a later stage in his career.

In the end, Michaels countered a Batista Bomb attempt to score the three count.
Your Winner: Shawn Michaels 

Afterwards, Batista paced up and down the ring in a flurry of anger. He was still in the ring when Maven made his way out for our next contest.

Maven vs. Matt Hardy

Naturally, Maven held back from getting in the ring while a pissed-off Batista was storming about in it.

Instead, he interrupted Matt Hardy’s entrance and the two began a heated brawl that ended with Hardy getting the upper hand and tossing Maven into the ring.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Big Time Matt Hardy


There, Batista attacked and took out the Tough Enough winner with a couple of vicious Batista bombs.

Referees tended to a fallen Maven before Jack Doan informed Lillian Garcia that Maven was in no fit state to compete.

Annoyed by Lillian’s announcement that the match would no longer take place, Hardy threw the referees aside, splashed his opponent and counted his own pinfall before snatching the mic and declaring himself the winner.
No Contest

Out in the back, Ric Flair have a still enraged Batista pep talk and insisted that the two would be waking out with titles around their waists.

Tag Team Turmoil Match for the WWE World Tag Team Championship
La Resistance (Rob Conway & Rene Dupree) vs. The Hurricane & Rosey vs. Lance Storm & Val Venis vs. Garrison  Cade & Mark Jindrak vs. WWE World Tag Team Champions The Dudley Boyz (D’Von & Bubba Ray Dudley) vs. Scott Steiner & Test vs. Batista & Ric Flair

Contested under ‘winner stays on’ rules, this one took a while to really heat up and wasn’t all that exciting until The Dudley Boyz turned up for a good exchange with Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak.

The champions soon disposed of their opponents and entered into an even more enjoyable battle with the next entrants, Test and Scott Steiner.

WWE Armageddon 2003 Review - Scott Steiner hurts Bubba Ray Dudley


After a short but decent exchange between the two, a battered and tired Dudley Boyz got the fall and assumed they’d won the match.

At that point, however, Raw co-GM Eric Bischoff came out to announce that he’d added another team to the mix.

That team was, you guessed it, Ric Flair and Batista.

The Evolution team mates made light work of their battle-weary opponents to give their stable its second title win of the night.
Your Winners and New WWE World Tag Team Champions: Batista & Ric Flair 

After clips from a press conference announcing the first WWE Tribute to the Troops show, it was onto our next match.

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

In a tell-tale sign of WWE’s attitude towards women’s wrestling at the time, JR quickly put over Molly Holly as the best wrestler to hold the women’s title in years before immediately spending the rest of the match talking with Lawler about how Molly was sexually frustrated.

WWE Armageddon 2003 - Molly Holly puts Ivory in an armbar


In doing so, he and King ignored what was a decent but forgettable title defence for Holly against Ivory, who, despite being with the company the whole time, hadn't appeared on a Pay Per View since Survivor Series 2001

After a short outing, Holly reversed a roll-up attempt to retain her gold. Even after her victory, the only thing the announcers cared about was whether she was getting laid.
Your Winner and Still WWE Women’s Champion: Molly Holly

Finally, we got a look at the build up to Goldberg vs. Kane vs. Triple H and it was onto our main event. 

Triple Threat for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
World Heavyweight Champion Goldberg vs. Kane vs. Triple H 

After a relatively average show, this final match looked pretty damn good, though it still dragged on longer than was necessary.

WWE Armageddon 2003 - Kane, HHH, and Goldberg prepare for war

Kane and Triple H began the bout working in unison to destroy Goldberg, but the champ battled back at every opportunity and took the fight to his opponents.

Predictably, The Game eventually turned on Kane, and the war waged on outside the ring, giving us the highlight of the match.

The match continued to entertain until Evolution ran in to give HHH the assist in pinning Kane for the three count.
Your Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

As Armageddon 2003 came to a close, all the members of Evolution stood at the top of the ramp holding the gold aloft. It had been a successful night for WWE’s most dominant faction.

As I mentioned a moment ago, Armageddon 2003 was a fairly average show.

Nothing was outright bad, but very little stood out as being worth repeat viewing.

Orton/RVD and the main event stood out as the highlights, but given the quality of the rest of the show, that isn’t really saying much.

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

Other WWF Armageddon reviews: 

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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: 

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.