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 Shelton Benjamin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shelton Benjamin. Show all posts

Saturday, 24 September 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Vengeance 2003

WWE Vengeance 2003 Review - Event Poster

July 27, 2003
Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado

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

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

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

We’ve Earned This..

Tonight’s opening video was a two-parter.

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Michael Cole and Tazz called the action

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Vince McMahon tricks Stephanie McMahon

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

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Funaki interviews Farooq & Bradshaw

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

That was next.

Bar Room Brawl

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Bar Room Brawl

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Speaking of Cruiserweight champions…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Sable vs. Stephanie McMahon

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

Those two would fight next.

No Count Out Cat Fight
Stephanie McMahon vs. Sable

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Stephanie McMahon gets ready to face Sable

To be honest, I didn’t hate this.

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

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

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

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

John Cena vs. The Undertaker

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - John Cena calls out The Undertaker

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

And man, what a battle it was.

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

This match was absolute proof of that.

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

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

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

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

The two would meet next.

Mr. McMahon vs. Zach Gowan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WWE Vengeance 2003 - Josh Matthews interviews Eddie Guerrero

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 

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Tuesday, 7 June 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Judgement Day 2003

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Event Poster

May 18, 2003
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, North Carolina

There was one glaring omission from the line-up card for WWE Judgement Day 2003:

Bill Goldberg. 

The former WCW star had been brought into the company to much fanfare and even been given a prominent position at the top of the card in a main event match with The Rock back at Backlash.

That match had bombed so badly, and the crowds had turned on Goldberg so quickly and so ruthlessly that tonight, WWE's latest big-money star wasn't even featured on the line-up. 

What we got instead were two big championship matches in Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar and Nash/HHH, and a whole bunch of Steve Austin & Eric Bischoff skits as WWE gave us the last non-big-four PPV to be co-branded for several years.

Let's get on and review this thing, shall we?

May God Have Mercy On Their Restless Souls

The Judgment Day theme always lent itself well to an awesome video package, and this year was no exception.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Tazz & Michael Cole

Our opening video mixed a spooky voice-over that spoke about the day of reckoning being upon us while we got even spookier shots of nooses and electric chairs.

All this was interwoven with clips highlighting our marquee matches for tonight’s show. This included Stephanie McMahon claiming that a stretcher match was the most barbaric match there is, a statement that is just factually incorrect.

After the eerie VO prayed for God to have mercy on their souls, pyro erupted as Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler welcomed us to Charlotte.

The Raw duo then sent us to Smackdown announcers Michael Cole and Tazz who, in turn, introduced us to the Spanish announce team as the familiar sound of glass shattering got Judgement Day 2003 officially underway.

Stone Cold in Red Neck Heaven

Kicking off the show, recently-appointed Raw General Manager Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to drink a little beer and raise a little hell.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Steve Austin kicks off the show

Austin insisted that he was ready to enjoy the show but wasn’t going to watch the show from backstage…


In a locker room…


In a chair…


In a bathroom.

No, he was going to take his beer and watch all the matches from Red Neck Heaven, better known to you and me as a standard skybox.

Six-Man Tag
John Cena and The FBI (Johnny Stamboli & Chuck Palumbo w/ Nunzio) vs. Rhyno, Spanky, and Chris Benoit

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - John Cena raps before his match

Prior to the bell, John Cena gave us a freestyle rap in which he put over his partners the FBI and wrapped up with an inevitable line about felatio.

Cena, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny Stamboli then gave us a spirited opening contest as they duked it out with the seemingly random team of Rhyno, Brian “Spanky” Kendrick, and Chris Benoit.

The match was clearly designed to pop the crowd and get them pumped for tonight’s event without really meaning much of anything, and to that end, it certainly succeeded.

Fun and fast-paced, the whole thing was over in less than four minutes, but it was a reasonable match to kick off the show.

It ended with a win for the bad guys when The FBI double-teamed Spanky for the three count.
Your Winners: John Cena and The FBI

Out in the back, every day Man of the People Stone Cold Steve Austin had an assistant put sauce on his hotdog for him before the two were interrupted by Eric Bischoff.

Austin’s co-general manager reminded him that since they shared responsibility for running Raw, they also shared the skybox and all of its food and drink.

In a segment that was nowhere near as funny as it meant to be, Austin obliged and offered Sleazy E a hot dog and a beer, the joke being that Eric was apparently too big of a “sissy” to drink beer out of a can.

La Resistance (Sylvian Grenier & René Duprée) vs. Scott Steiner & Test (w/ Stacy Keibler)

Scott Steiner and Test had a problem with each other since Steiner came to the aid of the patter’s girlfriend, Stacy Keibler, back at Backlash 2003.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Test & Scott Steiner vs. La Resistance

Naturally, they were now doing the whole “partners who don’t get along” thing as they faced La Resistance in the French outfit’s PPV debut.

Sylvian Greenier and Rene Dupre hadn’t taken kindly to Steiner recently saying that hell and France were the same thing, leading to tonight’s match.

It was, in a word, a match.

I’ve seen much worse in my time, but I’ve also seen much, much better.

This one just kind of existed until Test accidentally knocked Stacy off the ring ropes into the waiting arms of Big Poppa Pump.

That set about the finish as Steiner got back in the ring but was accidentally booted in the face by his own partner and soon after succumbed to La Resistance.
Your Winners: La Resistance

Post-match, Keibler wanted to check on a fallen Freakzilla, but misogynist Test dragged her away.

Your Secret’s Safe With Me

Backstage, intrepid reporter Gregory Helms confronted Mr. America and suggested that his sources understood that America was actually Hulk Hogan’s secret identity.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Gregory Helms questions Mr. America about his true identity

Calling Helms’ Bluff, the masked man claimed that his own sources had actually told him that Helms was secretly The Hurricane.

Backtracking, the reporter mused that his sources may have been wrong while America gave in and admired that his sources might be mistaken too, brother.

The segment, which was way more fun than it sounds, ended with both men giving each other a “your secret’s safe with me,” nudge and a wink.

Across the way, Eddie Guerrero revealed that Tajiri would replace his injured partner Chavo Guerrero in a match against Team Angle tonight.

That was also a hugely enjoyable segment.

Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions Team Angle (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas) vs. Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri

The term “spot fest” is often used negatively, but this wildly enjoyable tag team ladder match was proof that there can be such a thing as a good spot fest.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin head into battle

It was basically four guys wandering from one stunt to the next, but it was absolutely gripping from start to finish.

At this point I should mention the awesome Judgment Day entrance set which featured an enormous scaffold structure.

It looked mighty impressive and, honestly, if we don’t see somebody climb up it for a Shane McMahon style stunt tonight, I’m going to be disappointed.

Anyway, back to the match, this excellent contest saw Eddie and Tajiri get the better of Team Angle and scale the ladder to retrieve the gold.
Your Winners and New WWE Tag Team Champions; Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri

Up in red neck heaven, Steve Austin made fun of Eric Bischoff for drinking like a sissy.

Meanwhile, Terri Runnels’ cleavage made it difficult to concentrate on Chris Jericho’s arrogant promo as he promised to become the next Intercontinental Champion.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Roddy Piper and Chris Jericho have a heated confrontation

Jericho was soon interrupted by another former champion, Roddy Piper.

The two didn’t like each other for some undisclosed reason and took plenty of shots at each other in an entertaining segment that ended with the two refusing to admit that they had a few things in common.

This was followed by a video package highlighting the history of the Intercontinental championship.

The title had been dormant since it was swallowed up by the World Heavyweight Championship in 2002 but Steve Austin had decided to reinstate it and tonight we would have a battle royal to determine the new champion.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Battle Royal
Featuring: Val Venis, Chris Jericho, Rob Van Dam, Goldust, Lance Storm, Kane, Christian, Booker T

Prior to the match, the first-ever Intercontinental Champion, Pat Patterson brought out the new title belt, ready to present it to the winner of our battle royal.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Christian won the Intercontinental Championship

Val Venis then came out to the surprise of everybody, especially our announce team.

Val had previously been working as Chief Morley and had been fired by Eric Bischoff. Apparently, Steve Austin had hired Morely back as Val Venis just to screw with Bisch.

The rest of the competitors came out and gave us a better-than-average battle royal.

Everybody piled on Kane in the early going, but The Big Red Machine battled back and quickly eliminated Lance Storm before the numbers game proved too much and he was dumped on the outside.

The next few minutes then saw Rob Van Dam and Val Venis eliminated quickly and forgettable, leaving us with Booker T and Goldust facing Chris Jericho and Christian in what was tantamount to a tornado style tag match.

A brief rematch, of sorts, from their outing at No Mercy 2002, this one saw Goldust try to eliminate his buddy Booker, only for Mr. 5-Time to get a quick reversal and dump Dusty’s lad on the outside.

Christian then double-crossed Jericho, but was eliminated by Booker.

The problem was that the referee had been knocked out on the outside and never saw the elimination, so Christian stole the title belt from Patterson, knocked out Booker with it, and then eliminated him just in time for the official to see it and award him the match.

This was a good bout that I enjoyed a lot.
Your Winner and New WWE Intercontinental Champion: Christian

Out in the back, Sable talked smack to Torrie Wilson about their upcoming bikini contest then proceeded to oil herself down.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Torrie and Sable have words backstage

Torrie seemed strangely into it.

Bikini Contest
Torrie Wilson vs. Sable

Torrie made her way out first, dancing behind a screen with Lillian Garcia who was singing her theme tune before strutting to the ring.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Torrie Wilson & Lillian Garcia

With Tazz presiding over things, the two Playboy cover stars then took turns to disrobe and shake about a bit, with the crowds equally enthralled by both beauties.

Just as Tazz was about to declare the whole thing a draw, Torrie continued and stripped down to a thong and a revealing bikini top, earning her the win.

Before she left the ring, however, Wilson pressed herself up against Brock’s missus and gave her a slow, lingering peck on the mouth.

Sable was into it.

As I’ve said in the past, I normally find these kinds of segments more embarrassing than erotic, but both ladies looked damn fine here and I can’t deny I enjoyed it.
Your Winner: Torrie Wilson

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff was struggling to keep up with all the food and drink Austin was plying him with, so Austin tricked the former WCW boss into eating super hot peppers and then drinking the juice from the jar.

That was pretty funny.

Across the way, Vince McMahon interrupted Roddy Piper’s conversation with his protégé, Sean O’ Haire, to give Piper a pep talk before his match with Mr: America.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review -  Vince McMahon speaks to Roddy Piper & Sean O' Haire

Vince reminded him that without Piper being on the opposite side of the ring to Hulk Hogan at events like Wrestlemania 1 and The Wrestling Classic, Hogan wouldn’t be what he was today.

This was followed by a clip from Smackdown where Mr. America handed a US flag to a “kid” at ringside before interrupting a Piper’s Pit segment and getting his ass beaten down by Hot Rod and O’Haire.

The “kid” had then raced to America’s aid but got his ass handed to him too and his artificial leg ripped off, much to Piper’s horror.

That “kid” was, of course, Zach Gowan.

Rowdy Roddy Piper (w/ Sean O’Haire) vs: Mr. America (w/ Zach Gowan)

WWE Judgement Day 2003 - Mr. America and Zach Gowan

Prior to the match, America introduced Gowan as his special guest then proceeded to lock up with Piper in their first PPV singles contest since WCW Halloween Havoc '97.

What followed was not a great match by any stretch.

Piper looked to be in horrible shape and couldn’t really do much of anything. Despite this, he played to what strengths he had at this point in his career to at least pop the crowd.

Towards the end, Sean O’Haire tried to hit Hogan with a pipe but accidentally hit his own manager instead.

Vince McMahon then tried to stop Hogan from getting the fall but was prevented from doing so by Gowan.

The whole thing lasted less than five minutes and was a far, far cry from the kind of battles these two would have in their prime.
Your Winner: Mr. America

Post-match, the masked man put Gowan in the corner while he busted out that famous post-match Hogan posedown routine.

Out in the back, Smackdown General Manager Stephanie McMahon advised her ex-husband Triple H to be careful in his upcoming title defense against former buddy, Kevin Nash.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 - Stephanie McMahon warns Triple H to be careful against Kevin Nash

This was followed by a video package recapping their rivalry.

To sum up, Nash had returned to the company wanting to spend time with his buddies and had tried to resolve the animosity between Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

WWE Judgement Day 2003 - Triple H vs. Kevin Nash

The Game, however, had promised that he would pretty much hate HBK forever and then turned on Big Sexy, leading to tonight’s match.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Kevin Nash (w/ Shawn Michaels)

Given their superstar status, both Shawn Michaels and Charlotte native Ric Flair got separate entrances to the men they were representing tonight, but a brawl immediately broke out and the two battled to the back before the match even began.

What followed was a slog of a match that was nowhere near as bad as some people will tell you but was hardly either man’s finest hour.

After a slow-paced match that didn’t really go anywhere, Triple H got himself disqualified by smashing referee Earl Hebner in the face with a sledgehammer.

I know this wasn’t great, but I’ll always have a soft spot for Nash as a character if not necessarily as an in-ring competitor, so I had no problems seeing him out there doing his thing.
Your Winner via DQ: Kevin Nash (HHH retains)

Post-match, Big Kev got his revenge by beating the hell out of Hunter and powerbombing him through the Raw announce table.

The aftermath, in which an enraged Nash looked like a legitimately vicious monster, was way better than the actual match.

Bischoff Hurls

Up in Redneck Heaven, Eric Bischoff proved that hanging out with Stone Cold was too much for him as he barfed all over the cute blonde assistant and the live audience.

The segment was pretty funny, but I’m distracted by crushing on the blonde girl.

Give me her over any of the WWE divas any day.

Speaking of divas…

WWE Women’s Championship
WWE Women’s Champion Jazz (w/ Theodore Long) vs. Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline vs. Victoria (w/ Steven Richards)

WWE Judgement Day 2003 Review - Jazz puts a hurting on Trish Stratus

This was a decent match in which all four women worked hard to deliver.

Unfortunately, your reviewer was so burned out by the lacklustre offerings of the last two matches that it was hard to concentrate or even care about what was going on.

That’s a shame, because it looked like this could have been good. Unfortunately, it was just another thing that simply kind of happened on a very underwhelming show.

In the end, Jazz pinned Jacqueline to retain the gold.
Your Winner and Still WWE Women’s Champion: Jazz

Up next, we got a look back at the rivalry between Big Show and Brock Lesnar and how it all started with Show bullying Rey Mysterio.

The Big Show and Lesnar would compete in a stretcher match next.

WWE Championship Stretcher Match
WWE Champion Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show

After a disappointing show, this main event stretcher match was a fantastic way to end things.

A rematch from their previous title match at Survivor Series 2002, this was probably (if not definitely) the best match you’ll ever see with The Big Show involved.

Both champ and challenger absolutely destroyed each other in a brutally brilliant contest that captivated from start to finish.

Speaking of finish, that came about as Lesnar struggled to properly carry Show’s enormous frame on a stretcher that was just too small for him.

Thinking outside the box, the champion disappeared backstage which gave us a moment for the predictable Rey Mysterio cameo.

Rey Rey was ineffective against Show, but did distract long enough for Brock to come storming out on a forklift.

In the move of the night, he then dove off the top of the forklift into the ring, taking out his opponent with an awesome flying crossbody.

After beating down his rival some more, Lesnar put a stretcher board on the forklift, rolled Big Show onto it and drove him over the line to keep his title reign intact.
Your Winner and Still WWE Champion: Brock Lesnar 

That was fantastic.

You really have to wonder what went wrong for WWE in the first half of 2003.

Wrestlemania 19 had been a phenomenal show, but the two PPVs that had followed it had gotten increasingly worse.

While there was nothing truly terrible here (even Nash/HHH was passable if you don’t expect too much), nothing stood out as being anything special until that amazing stretcher match.

Sure, I enjoyed the tag team ladder match and the Intercontinental battle royal a great deal, and I’d watch those two matches and Show/Lesnar again, but otherwise, this was an underwhelming event that isn’t worth watching.

Saturday, 12 March 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE No Way Out 2003

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Event poster
February 23, 2003, 
Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

No Way Out 2003 was the first event of this name to come under the WWE name, so it was interesting that the show featured three returning superstars from the glory days of the World Wrestling Federation.

First of all, Hulk Hogan was once again donning the red and yellow after last being seen on PPV back at Vengeance 2002 and taking a break shortly after.

Tonight, he was going up against rising Hollywood star The Rock. The Great One had also enjoyed a lengthy break after Summerslam 2002 and was now heel, a role he was almost forced to play after the crowds began to turn on him due to his growing movie career.

Still, while this was both men's first PPV appearance in months, the real story tonight was that No Way Out 2003 would mark the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin, a man who had famously walked out of the company the previous summer.

Here's what went down when three of WWE's all-time biggest stars returned to action:

A Boring Opening

Long-time Retro Pro Wrestling readers will probably know that I have a certain fondness for the WWE’s opening video packages.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Jerry 'The King' Lawler and Jonathan Coachman call the action

99.9% of the time, they do a great job of setting the scene and getting me pumped up about what I’m about to watch.

This was different though. This was about six seconds of a random computer animation that took us up a flight of stairs to a locked window and then showed some distressed bald dude hanging to some railings.

It was pretty rubbish, but I guess WWE could only get so much mileage out of rolling stock footage of Freddie Blassie chilling out in an abandoned warehouse.

Anyway, with that brief and boring intro out of the way, Jonathan Coachman welcomed us to No Way Out 2003, informing us that since JR had suffered a concussion on Raw, he -Coach- would be sitting alongside Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler tonight.

Chris Jericho vs. Jeff Hardy

As Chris Jericho made his way out for tonight’s opening contest, Coach informed us that Raw GM Eric Bischoff had granted The King of the World’s request to have Shawn Michaels banned from ringside before noting that this was the first WWE PPV in Montreal since Survivor Series 1997.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Chris Jericho puts Jeff Hardy in the Walls of Jericho

The match soon got underway and quickly turned into an exciting opener that remained utterly compelling from start to finish.

With the crowds torn between rooting for fellow countryman Jericho and perennial babyface Hardy, both gave it their all before a hot crowd who hung on every move.

After a solid effort, the self-proclaimed King of the World countered a top-rope hurricanrana attempt with a superbomb before locking his adversary in the Walls of Jericho.

The Charasmatic Enigma tried to hold on, but when he found himself dragged into the middle of the ring with no chance of escape, he had no choice but tap out and give the match to his opponent.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho

Post match, Jericho refused to relinquish his hold on Hardy, prompting HBK to rush to the rescue.

Unsurprisingly, the man whose name will be forever linked to the Montreal Screwjob received a frosty reception.

At least he did until Christian ran into help out his running mate, at which point Michaels managed to win the audience over by taking both men out with a double DDT, delivering a clothesline to the outside on Y2J and a well-placed Sweet Chin Music to Christian.

A Team Angle Pep Talk

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Team Angle talk tactics before their big match

Out in the back, Kurt Angle blasted the Canadian audience and promised that tonight, he, Shelton Benjamin, and Charlie Haas would prevail over Brock Lesnar, Edge, and Chris Benoit because there was simply no way that Team Angle could lose to “a walking gorilla and two Canucks.”

The Olympic Gold Medalist looked set to talk strategy with his two henchmen, but before we could hear what he had to say, we cut to the parking lot where Evolution arrived in a limousine.

Tonight, Evolution leader Triple H would defend the World Heavyweight Championship against Scott Steiner, but first, this:

WWE World Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag Team Champions William Regal & Lance Storm vs. Rob Van Dam & Kane

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Lance Storm and William Regal

Though the general consensus seems to be that this match wasn’t all that good, this fan in particular enjoyed it very much.

Relatively short, this one made Lance Storm and William Regal look like credible, fighting champions, even if they did only pick up the win when Kane accidentally chokeslammed RVD due to having his vision impaired by an Ill-placed match.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: Lance Storm & William Regal

Out in the back, Matt Hardy was about to talk about how he miraculously cut weight in order to challenge for the cruise weight title when he was distracted by the appearance of his brother, Jeff Hardy.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Matt Hardy confronts his brother, Jeff

Confronting his clearly wounded sibling, the Master of Mattitude insisted that Jeff would actually begin winning some matches if he started following his brother’s teachings.

Rather than get into it, Jeff simply slapped the taste out of V1’s mouth and walked off, leaving an irate Matt to be restrained by his lackey, Shannon Moore.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Billy Kidman vs. Matt Hardy V1 (w/ Shannon Moore)

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Matt Hardy is annoyed by snow and Ice.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’d stopped actively watching wrestling by 2003, so when I eventually came back to it, I was always confused how Matt Hardy -a man who was clearly no Cruiserweight- had managed to compete in the division.

The explanation here that he’d had to work hard to cut weight made a lot of sense, but unfortunately, it didn’t make for a great match.

Don’t get me wrong, there was nothing particularly wrong with this one, but the crowd clearly weren’t into it and that had a negative impact on the way this one played out.

After a decent but kinda blah match, Hardy hit Billy Kidman with an admittedly excellent Twist of Fate to capture a title which he really had no rights competing for in the first place.
Your Winner and New WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Matt Hardy

Backstage, Brock Lesnar and Chris Benoit tended to Edge, who had been mysteriously laid out backstage at the hands of an unknown assailant.

Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon and a gaggle of officials also came to the former Intercontinental champions aid, but it looked like Edge was officially out of action for tonight.

Not just tonight, either. By all accounts, this was just a way to write Adam Copeland off TV so that he could have surgery for a recent injury.

We wouldn’t see him again until the following year.

The Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. The Undertaker

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  The Big Show vs. The Undertaker

Prior to the match, we got a look back at how The Undertaker had returned to action to get revenge on Big Show for taking him out of commission in the fall.

Show had been awol, but had sent Big Evil a number of gifts, including Brian Kendrick dressed as a bell boy, ‘Taker’s first manager, Brother Love, and, for some reason, a singing Chris Kanyon.

The Dead Man had destroyed all of them and now, tonight looked to destroy Big Show in a better-than-average big man brawl.

Though it was far from a classic, the two did the best with what they had to make sure that this, the longest match on the card, never felt boring or sluggish.

After a decent effort, a busted open ‘Taker got his revenge by drilling Show to the mat for the cover, the count, and the fall.
Your Winner: The Undertaker

Backstage, Edge was wheeled into an ambulance, confirming that we wouldn’t see him compete tonight.

Elsewhere, Chief Morley and Eric Bischoff talked about what a good team they had behind them, only for Vince McMahon to inform them that if anybody got involved in Bischoff’s match with Stone Cold Steve Austin, they’d be fired on the spot.

Handicap Match
WWE Champion Kurt Angle & WWE Tag Team Champions Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (w/ Paul Heyman) vs. Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review - Team Angle ready for action

As the combatants made their way out for tonight’s match, Michael Cole informed us that Stephanie had given Brock & Benoit the option to choose another partner but they had refused, instead opting to take on Team Angle in a 2 vs. 3 handicap match.

This turned out to be a good match that could have -perhaps should have- been much better.

Though you had a whole bunch of talented performers here, the match took a while to really kick it up a gear, and even then, it wasn’t until the final minute or so that we got the kind of balls-to-the-wall wrestling spectacular it had the potential to be all along.

Perhaps expectations were just too high given the caliber of performers involved, but while this was certainly the best match of the night so far, this ram expected a little more.

In the end, Benoit made Charlie Haas tap to the crossface while Lesnar took out his rival, Angle, with an F5.
Your Winners: Brock Lesnar & Chris Benoit

Prior to the next match, we got a look back at the rivalry between Triple H and Scott Steiner, and how they feud had led to the World Heavyweight Champion forming the Evolution stable to back him up.

Those two would be in action next.

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

This was far, far from the best match on the card, but it was certainly the most interesting in terms of fan reaction.

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  HHH and Scott Steiner go nose-to-nose

Despite being the babyface here, Steiner’s shit-show of performance back at the 2002 Royal Rumble meant that he was routinely booed by the Montreal faithful while dastardly heel HHH was cheered every time he struck an offensive move.

The biggest heel of the match, however, was referee Earl Hebner, who received a hostile reception for his role in the Montreal Screwjob five years earlier.

In fact, Hebner’s mere presence here overshadowed everything the two combatants did, and when Hunter got into a shoving match with the official, it received the biggest pop of the night so far.

After a somewhat lackluster effort that was, at least, marginally better than their Rumble outing, we got an inevitable run-in from Batista and Randy Orton.

That distracted the challenger long enough to be whacked in the face with the world title belt by his opponent.

That didn’t quite put him away, but a quick pedigree a few moments later did.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H

Post-match, the champion made his way triumphantly to the back, being congratulated by Orton.

Eric Bischoff vs Stone Cold Steve Austin

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  Steve Austin returned

Prior to this one, we got a look back at the storyline which basically amounted to Bischoff failing to resign Austin, Austin deciding to come back anyway, and Vince McMahon booking the two against one another.

Jim Ross then came out, ostensibly to help call the action, but really just to cheer on his buddy Steve Austin as he whooped Bischoff from pillar to post.

It would be a stretch to call this a match, but it was fun to see Austin do his thing to the absolute delight of the Montreal faithful.
Your Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Afterwards, Austin celebrated his return while Jim Ross absolutely lost his shit.

I’m not exaggerating either.

I get that Ross was out there to put over Austin’s return, but his level of over-the-top enthusiasm was ridiculous.

It was hilarious at first, but then it was just sadly kind of embarrassing and I actually felt bad for JR.

The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan

WWE No Way Out 2003 Review -  The Rock puts Hulk Hogan in a sharpshooter for the ages

By this time, The Rock was one of the fastest rising stars in Hollywood but had no problems coming back to WWE to assist Vince McMahon in his rivalry with Hulk Hogan.

That had brought us to tonight, a rematch from Wrestlemania X8 that was never going to live up to the original but was still entertaining enough in its own right.

At least it was until the finish.

After hitting The Rock with a big hoot and leg drop of doom, Hogan made the count but the lights in the arena went off before the referee -Sylvian Greenier- could count to three.

When they came back up, Hogan and Greenier were both out and a chair had been placed in the middle of the ring.

Vince McMahon then made his way out, distracting Hogan long enough for The Great One to destroy his opponent with a chair.

At that point, referee Greenier sprang to his feet, revealing himself as in cahoots with Rock and McMahon, and made the three count.
Your Winner: The Rock

“It’s a Screwjob! It’s a Screwjob!” Yelled Michael Cole in the most obviously rehearsed fashion ever.

Seriously, it was very apparent that Cole had been waiting for the whole match just for his moment to say that line.

As he did so, McMahon mocked and ridiculed a battered Hogan to bring No Way Out 2003 to a close.


All in all, WWE No Way Out 2003 is a difficult show to sum up. None of the matches were outright terrible (not even HHH/Steiner II), but you almost got the sense that many of the company's major players were either holding back or simply having an off night, resulting in matches which were never quite as a good as they had the potential to be.

Still, there was a lot of fun to be had here. Austin's return was entertaining, the handicap match was still good even though it could have been better, and the whole Rock/Hogan thing was as good as it was going to get right up until the rather necessary finish. 

Ultimately then, despite featuring the PPV returns of  three all-time greats, No Way Out 2003 wasn't a very significant show, nor is it something anyone need go out of the way to watch. 

Other 2003 pro wrestling reviews: 
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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.