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Showing posts with label Vengeance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vengeance. 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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Wednesday, 5 January 2022

PPV REVIEW: WWE Vengeance 2002

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Event poster
July 21, 2002
Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan

Vengeance 2002 came hot on the heels of a marked shift in the direction of World Wrestling Entertainment.

Since February, the New World Order had tried -and largely failed- to recapture the magic they once had in WCW, only for Scott Hall's firing, the random inclusion of Booker T, and multiple injuries to Kevin Nash all scuppering plans.

In fact, Nash injured himself in March, taken a few months off to recover, and then immedietly reinjured himself in his first match back on Raw, ultimately putting him on the shelf until the spring of 2003.

By this point, Vince McMahon had seen enough.

The following week, he came out to inform fans that he had officially disbanded the nWo once and for all. 

Still, those pining for the glory days of World Championship Wrestling didn't have to miss out altogether as Vince introduced another icon of the Monday Night Wars - none other than his former rival Eric Bischoff- as the new Raw General Manager.

With Easy E in charge of Raw and Vince's daughter Stephanie McMahon heading up Smackdown, the stage was set for Vengeance.






Here's what went down:  

I Will Strike Down Upon Thee With Great Vengeance

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Michael Cole and Tazz called the show
Vengeance 2002 kicked off with one the WWF’s usual compelling opening videos.

This one had a biblical theme, with the participants in tonight’s main event -Undertaker, Rock, and Kurt Angle- reciting Ezekiel 25:17 as clips played off them looking awesome in the ring. 

Yes, I know this is more familiar to people from Pulp Fiction and that most people talk about this video being a nod to that movie, but since the Good Book precedes Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece by a few thousand years, I think its fair to say that this is the proper source of the reference.

Anyway, It was good stuff that eventually led us to the obligatory opening pyro, crowd shots, and a check-in with The World in New York.

Michael Cole and Tazz then welcomed us to the show, informing us that they’d cover the first half of the event with Jim Ross and Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler taking the second half.

With that, it was onto the ring for our first match of the evening.

Tag Team Table Match
Bubba Ray & Spike Dudley vs. Eddie Guerrero & Chris Benoit

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Eddie Guerrero
This may not have been the best tag team tables match of all time, but it was still an entertaining opener with a surprising finish.

Last seen on PPV at King of the Ring 2001, Chris Benoit had subsequently spent 13 months on the shelf with a broken neck.

The Crippler had recently returned and aligned himself with former Radicalz team mate Eddie Guerrero.

One thing this fan really liked about the duo during this time was that whenever they teamed together they always wore their respective ring gear in matching colours. It was a small touch, but one that definitely helped to present them as a cohesive unit.

Here, the duo spent the first half of the match destroying Bubba Ray Dudley. It was decent, but obviously, it was only when the tables came into play that the match really took off.

At one point, Bubba lay Benoit on a table and lept off the ropes. Benoit moved and Dudley crashed through the table but was allowed to continue since it wasn’t an offensive move.

Later, Spike Dudley put Eddie through a table with a Dudley Drop to the outside in what looked to be a nasty spot.

Benoit then hurled Spike over the ropes on the other side of the ring and eliminated him, but then Bubba planted Benoit through a third table and that was that.
Your Winners: The Dudley Boyz

Backstage, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff gave an interview to Jonathan Coachman before getting distracted by the arrival of Triple H.

Both Bischoff and The Game’s estranged wife Stephanie McMahon (now Smackdown GM) had been trying to secure his services for their respective brands, and Bischoff was none too happy that Hunter was on his way to negotiate with Steph.

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

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Jamie Noble and Nidia
To paraphrase what I said about the last match, this wasn’t the greatest Cruiserweight match in the world but it was still good for what it was.

Jamie Noble and Billy Kidman were both talented performers and gave us a fine match, but it just wasn’t the absolute all-out stormer it could have been.

Noble retained his title after a good effort.
Your Winner and Still Cruiserweight Champion: Jamie Noble

Backstage, Kurt Angle’s interview with Marc Lloyd was interrupted by the arrival of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman.

Heyman reminded Angle that Lesnar had a guaranteed title shot at Summerslam as a result of winning the 2002 King of the Ring and would face the winner of Angle’s match with The Rock and The Undertaker.

Unperturbed, Angle promised Lesnar that when the two did meet, The Next Big Thing would be taken down by the Olympic Gold Medalist.

This was good stuff.

WWE European Championship
WWE European Champion Jeff Hardy vs. William Regal

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair congratulate Hulk Hogan
Possibly the best match on the card so far, this saw both champ and challenger go back and forth in an entertaining, technically sound match that this fan enjoyed a lot.

After a very good, albeit short, battle, The Charasmatic Enigma retained his gold.
Your Winner and Still European Champion: Jeff Hardy

Post match, Hardy was congratulated backstage by both Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan.

Once Jeff left, Hogan told Flair that he was considering going to the top rope and doing a swanton bomb of his own in his match tonight. This prompted Flair to mock Hogan, saying he’d be too slow climbing up to the top and would make a mess of the move.

It was a very funny moment, but the two legends found nothing funny about Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon running the company and questioned whether Bischoff in particular would run WWE out of business.

Chris Jericho vs. John Cena

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - John Cena smiles after beating Chris Jericho in his debut PPV match
And so it begins.

Yes, ladies and gents, this was the Pay Per View debut of the one and only John Cena.

The future legend had arrived on the scene a few weeks earlier and promptly set about trying to embarrass Kurt Angle before entering into a feud with Chris Jericho.

Tonight, the two went tooth-and-nail in a match which was much better than the unenthusiastic crowd would have you believe.

Moving at a good pace, Cena and Jericho worked hard to deliver an entertaining performance before the rookie scored the upset in his first major win.
Your Winner: John Cena

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff accosted Stephanie McMahon’s lawyer whom she had summoned to deliver some important documents. Fearing that he was about to lose HHH, Bisch’ was livid.

Say what you will about Eric Bischoff, he was always a very entertaining personality in front of the camera.

RVD and Brock are Ready for War

As we moved into the second half of the show, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler made their way out to take over from Cole and Tazz.

Their first task was to show us clips of Brock Lesnar and Rob Van Dam preparing for their upcoming Intercontinental Championship clash.

This was followed by an ace video highlighting their rivalry which was soundtracked by the kind of dramatic music you’d normally here in the Smackdown video games for the PS2 around this time.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
WWE Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam vs. Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman)

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Brock Lesnar puts a hurting on Rob Van Dam
This card continued to get better as it went on.

RVD vs. Lesnar was a fine match that ignited the crowd for the first time on the show.

The champion continually countered the challenger’s brute power with quickness and innovative offence and even looked to have the match won.

After a very fine match indeed, RVD hit the Five Star Frog Splash and made the cover, only for Paul Heyman to yank referee Charles Robinson out of the ring and cause the DQ.

The ending was pretty predictable given that Lesnar couldn’t really lose and yet didn’t need the IC belt either, but before that, this was a lot of fun.
Your Winner by DQ: Rob Van Dam

Post match, we got even more fun as Charles Robinson began to rain down on Heyman with the weakest looking punches in wrestling history, only for Lesnar to pick him up and toss him aside like a rag doll.

RVD then came careening off the top rope and took out The Next Big Thing, only for Lesnar to recover and destroy the champion with an F5 onto a steel chair.

He Signed

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Stephanie McMahon confronts Eric Bischoff
Backstage, a forlorn Stephanie McMahon emerged from her office looking dejected.

Naturally, Bischoff jumped to conclusions and began gloating about her inability to sign Triple H.

“He signed,” said Steph, wiping the smirk off the Raw GM’s face before walking away.

Moments later, The Game himself emerged and was railroaded by Bischoff for making the wrong choice.

That’s when Hunter set him straight, informing the former WCW head that the papers he signed were actually his divorce papers and that he still hadn’t decided which brand to work for.

This pleased Easy E no end.

No Disqualification Match
The Big Show vs. Booker T

Booker T and Big Show had been feuding ever since ‘T had been kicked out of the now-defunct New World Order.

Their No DQ match tonight was never going to be the best thing on the card but it was surprisingly more enjoyable than anyone could have expected.

This, of course, was largely due to the sweet spot where Booker ran off the US announce table and scissor kicked Big Show through the Spanish announce table.

This short match didn’t last long after that, but it was fun while it lasted.
Your Winner: Booker T

Meanwhile, over at The World, Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie argued about who had the best butt.

Time to Play The Game

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, and Eric Bischoff
Up next, Triple H came to the ring to reveal whether he’d sign for Raw or Smackdown, prompting both Eric Bischoff and Stephanie McMahon to hit the ring for one last sales pitch.

Just when it looked like The Game was about to side with Steph, none other than Shawn Michaels hit the ring.

HBK reminded us that while Hunter had been out with a minor injury, it was he, Shawn, who had been promising to head to Vengeance and bring his buddy “home” to the nWo before “Big Kev” had gotten hurt and Vince had dissolved that faction.

With the fans all chanting for DX, Michaels reminded HHH how much fun they used to have together, and that seems to do the trick, promoting Hunter to announce he was signing with Raw so that he and HBK could make Bischoff’s life a living hell.

Reacting to Triple H

Backstage, Rikishi expressed his disappointment about Triple H joining Raw, telling Marc Lloyd that it was a big loss to the young guys on Smackdown who looked to The Game as a leader.

Across the way, Terri interrupted Booker T and Goldust to get their thoughts.

Hilariously, Goldust sheepishly covered his crotch when Terri walked in the room. He then stood by while an enlivened Booker ranted about the time Shawn Michaels super kicked him out of the nWo.

That’s right Booker,” said Goldust. “He may be The Game, but we’re the ones with the bigger joysticks.

Imma ignore that,” quipped Booker as Goldie left the room.

This was, as you might expect, a very entertaining segment.

Prior to the next match, we got a brief look back at the rivalry between Edge & Hulk Hogan and Christian & Lance Storm.

WWE Tag Team Championship
WWE Tag team Champions Edge & Hulk Hogan vs. Lance Storm & Christian

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Hollywood Hulk Hogan & Edge vs. Christian and Lance Storm
Hogan spent the first half of the match doing the work for his team, giving us a very old-school style match until getting beat down and eventually making the hot tag to Edge.

It was at that point that the match really kicked up a notch and started to get exciting.

A ref bump allowed to Test to run in for his Canadian team mates, but that wasn’t enough to give Lance Storm and Christian the win, so Jericho had to get involved, interfering to help his fellow countrymen capture the tag team titles.

It wasn’t the best match on the card, but it was a perfectly serviceable tag bout that served a purpose.
Your Winners and NEW Tag Team Champions: Lance Storm & Christian

Out in the back, Eric Bischoff tried to recruit Kurt Angle to Raw, but the Olympic Gold Medalist was far too focused on his match to think about that right now.

Elsewhere, Marc Lloyd asked Stephanie McMahon about Bischoff’s heavy-handed recruitment tactics.

Steph wasn’t concerned about Bischoff, telling Lloyd that she was in direct contact with every Raw superstar and would “rip the heart” out of the red brand.

What does that mean?” Asked Lawler. “Are you going to Smackdown, JR?”

Nope, I’m a Raw guy. Besides, I’m not the heart of Raw,” replied Ross. “I may be the butt.

Bless JR, that was funny.

WWE Undisputed Championship
WWE Undisputed Champion The Undertaker vs. The Rock vs. Kurt Angle

WWE Vengeance 2002 Review - Kurt Angle goads The Undertaker and The Rock
Time and time again, this triple-threat match has been referred to as a classic and considered one of the best triple threat matches of all time.

While I can neither confirm nor deny that it is, I can certainly say that it was a damn good match which, though it started slow, got infinitely better as it progressed.

Though the WWE's tried-and-trusted formula of one guy napping on the outside while the other work and then switch certainly came into effect here, it was a formula that was used sparringly and effectively.

For the most part, all three world-class performers worked their asses off to deliver.

There were peaks, there were valleys, there was drama and suspense and everything you'd want from a compelling match. 

There was even a five-minute Finisher Fest at the end too, and though I suppose that could be cause for criticism, it, like everything else in this match, worked.

After a gripping 20 minute epic, The Rock drove Kurt Angle into the mat and pinned him to become the new undisputed champion.
Your Winner and NEW Undisputed Champion: The Rock 

As JR yelled about how The Rock was the first-ever seven time champion, The Great One posed for the fans and this writer questioned whether having him pin Angle rather than The Undertaker was such a smart move.

Ultimately, I think it was. 

Sure, pinning the actual champion rather than the third-man would have added a little more kudos and credibility to The Rock's win, but was The F'N Rock for crying out loud. At this point in the game, he simply didn't need any more kudos or credibility to be considered a worthy champion.

Plus, by the sheer fact alone that he had never been pinned for the gold, The Dead Man would have a legitimate reason to jump right back into the title picture post-Summerslam.





And so Vengeance 2002 was over and had proved to be a decent but hardly spectacular show.

The main event was off-the-page excellent, but the rest of the card was full of those "good but not great" matches which, while they may have been entertaining, didn't really go all out to impress.

Still, this was a watchable show with nothing noticeably terrible going on, so if you're looking for a dose of Ruthless Aggression-era nostalgia capped off with a smoking hot main event, this may be worth your time. 


Thursday, 15 April 2021

PPV REVIEW: WWF Vengeance 2001

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Event poster
December 9, 2001
San Diego Sports Arena, San Diego, California.

WWF Vengeance 2001 was the first World Wrestling Federation Pay Per View to take place in the aftermath of The Invasion storyline.

If you recall, the whole thing had ended with Team WWF emerging triumphant in a Winner-Takes-All elimination match at Survivor Series 2001.

The following night on Raw, Ric Flair styled, profiled, and walked that ailse en route to the ring. There, he declared that he had purchased Shane and Stephanie McMahon's shares in the WWF, which had not only given the McMahon kids the money they needed to fun their hostile takeover event, but more importantly meant that The Nature Boy was now a co-owner of the WWF alongside Vince McMahon.

That created an immediate rivalry between the two as they tried to deal with the fall out of the Invasion. 

That, of course, meant unifying the WWF and WCW titles to create one undisputed champion. 

It isn't a spoiler to say that we all know who won. After all, the first undisputed champion would spend pretty much the rest of his career bragging about his accomplishments on a night which would ensure that things would never evvvvvvvvvvvvvver be the same...

...Again.

With that being said, let's down to San Diego for Vengeance 2001.




Four Men. Three Matches. Two Titles. One Undisputed Champion

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler called the event
Remember that awesome Freddie Fellini movie from Summerslam 2000? The mysterious film director was at it again for tonight’s show with a quirky opening video that seemed like something you’d get if you fed David Lynch a bunch of happy films.

As many opening videos did around this time, the Vengeance video featured an elderly Classy Freddy Blassie wandering around an abandoned warehouse. This time, he sat in a chair watching the champions of yesteryear while dancers danced, clowns clowned and Grieg’s In the Hall of the Mountain King played.

All of this led to Blassie getting up and dancing with the dancers which was, naturally, the perfect way to hype up the serious importance of tonight’s show.

From there, it was pyro and crowd shots galore as Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to Vengeance.

‘Mr. McMahon Discusses Joining His Own Club’

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Vince McMahon opened the show
‘Mr. McMahon Discusses Joining His Own Club’
- that’s what this segment is called on WWE Network and it makes me laugh a lot because it’s just such a polite way of saying ‘Vince McMahon came to the ring and talked about having his face rammed into Rikishi’s ass’ which is what actually happened.

The Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club had been launched the night after Survivor Series 2001 when Vince made William Regal pucker up to get his job back.

The dumb storyline -which often threatened to overshadow the build to the title unification matches- culminated in Vince being required to kiss The Rock’s ass, only for The Great One to make Vince basically smooch his cousin’s bumhole.

If you missed all that, you needn’t have worried - Vince started tonight’s show by telling us all about it before turning on the crowd to remind them “he who laughs last, laughs loudest”

This brought out Vince’s rival Nature Boy Ric Flair for his first WWF PPV appearance since the 1993 Royal Rumble.

Flair didn’t have much to say, his basic role was to pop the crowd and move things along by introducing our opening contest.

WWF European Champion Christian & Test vs. Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Christian reaches for the tag
This all started when Test had beaten up Scotty 2 Hotty back at Survivor Series to get a shot in the immunity battle royal which, if you recall, he won.

The feud had then brought in Test’s ‘last men standing from The Alliance’ colleague Christian while Scotty had formed a random alliance of his own with the ‘Hip Hop Hippo’ Albert.

Not once in this whole feud was any mention made of the fact that Test and Albert used to team up.

Anyway, the match was...OK.

It certainly wasn’t bad and nobody did anything that could be classed as outright offensive, but it just wasn’t that interesting and failed to capture the attention.

After a reasonable yet uninspired effort, Albert destroyed Christian with the Baldo Bomb to win the match which didn’t bode well for the European Champion’s prospects.
Your Winners: Scotty 2 Hotty & Albert

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - WIlliam Regal talks to Coach about The Power of the Punch
Backstage, William Regal gave a strong interview to Jonathan Coachman in which he claimed that as excellent an athlete as Edge was, he’d never before incurred the wrath of someone with Regal’s experience.

This was a good performance from the Blackpool native, being much more Bad Ass Regal than Comic Foil Regal.

World Wrestling Federation Intercontinental Championship
WWF Intercontinental Champion Edge vs. William Regal

Regal continued to prove his worth as a performer in a strong match against Edge that was met with an unusually quiet reception from the live crowd.

The story was simple:

The aggressive veteran getting the upper hand on the young champion but growing increasingly more frustrated -and thus resorting to more and more dirty, underhand tactics- when his efforts proved too little to win the match.

Eventually, Regal’s desperation saw him reach for a pair of brass knuckles only for an exhausted yet determined Intercontinental champion to pull one last spear out of his arsenal and win the contest.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Edge

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Kurt Angle confronts Ric Flair
Backstage, we got a little comedy courtesy of Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle and new WWF co-owner Nature Boy Ric Flair.

Angle interrupted Flair’s phone call to let him know that tonight, he was going to do what Flair never had:

Become the Undisputed Champion.

“Well that’s awesome,” said Flair. “You’ve certainly got the skills to do it.”

Expecting an argument but not getting one, Kurt continued to try and antagonise Flair with his insistence that he was the man for the job tonight. The more Flair agreed with him, the more frustrated our Olympic Hero got.

I’m never too good at describing the humor in these moments, but trust me, it was comical.

Meanwhile, across the way, Matt Hardy tried to sweeten up his girlfriend Lita so that she’d be on his side in her role as special referee when Matt met Jeff Hardy to settle their recent differences.

Much to Matt’s chagrin, Lita said that she was always on his side as his girlfriend, she would call things right down the middle in tonight’s match.

Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy

Special guest referee: Lita
WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Matt Hardy confronts Lita

This had all started at Survivor Series when Jeff decided to dive off the top of a steel cage and crash through a table rather than win the match for his team.

Matt accused Jeff of being selfish and putting his love of taking risks before helping his team to victory. He had a point of course, but since the elder Hardy was being a bit of a d**k about the whole thing (as he had about other things such as ogling other members of the female roster), he had been cast in the role of heel.

Tonight, he continued his slow turn into a fully-fledged baddie in a match that he pretty much dominated from start to finish.

It was a weird one because although it wasn’t technically bad or anything, it still played out in front of a quiet crowd who were more into Lita than anything the two brothers were doing.

Besides, when you watch a Jeff Hardy match your kind of want to see him jumping around the place and at least breaking out a few fun spots. Outside of his match-winning Swanton bomb, however, there was none of that.

This was mostly just Matt beating up his brother and Jeff occasionally getting the briefest of comebacks before finally making the aforementioned swanton.

He made the cover, Matt got his foot on the ropes but Jeff pulled it off before Lita could see it and won the match.
Your Winner: Jeff Hardy

Afterwards, Matt protested his loss and, again, was completely justified in his complaint.

Trish Smells What The Rock is Cookin’

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Trish Stratus is smitten with The Rock
WWF Women’s Champion Trish Stratus had become a little infatuated with The Rock after The People’s Champion had saved her from joining the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club and then snogged her face off backstage on either Raw or Smackdown (I forget which).

Tonight, she let herself into The Rock’s dressing room to give him a peck on the cheek for luck in his match tonight.

Before she left, Rocky told her that while he was completely focussed on that match, after it was done Trish would have plenty of time to smell what The Rock was cooking, which I think was a fairly gross way of saying he was going to shag her.

World Wrestling Federation World Tag Team Championship
WWF Tag Team Champions The Dudleyz (Bubba Ray & D’Von Dudley w/ Stacy Kiebler) vs. The Big Show & Kane

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - The Dudley Boyz
This certainly wasn’t awful or anything, and you could tell all four men were at least trying hard, but this tag team title match just wasn’t all that interesting.

Sure, there were a few notable moments. Big Show pulled Stacy’s pants down and smacked her bum because this was a different time in history when you could get away with that sort of thing.

Kane tried playing face-in-peril which, as a huge monster character, was just unbelievable, and then he and Big Show had a bit of a falling out because they weren’t as well gelled as a team as The Dudleyz and kept accidentally hitting each other.

In the end, Bubba Ray & D’Von nailed Show with a 3D onto an exposed turnbuckle to win the match.
Your Winners and Still Tag Team Champions: The Dudley Boyz

Out in the back, Lita tried to convince Matt Hardy that she hadn’t seen his foot on the rope. An irate Hardy was having none of it and simply packed his bags and left.

World Wrestling Federation Hardcore Championship
WWF Hardcore Champion Rob Van Dam vs. The Undertaker

Though the hardcore title was well below the stature of both competitors at this stage, Rob Van Dam has held the belt for pretty much the entire Invasion storyline, so they had to at least do something with it.

Meanwhile, The Undertaker had now completed his transformation into a heel after feeling annoyed that Vince McMahon didn’t trust him enough to let him know that Kurt Angle was actually working as a mole when he switched to The Alliance.

Complaining about disrespect, ‘Taker felt so slighted that he decided the best thing to do would be to ram Jim Ross’ face in McMahon’s ass, then get his haircut and start beating up RVD.

Tonight, the American Bad Ass and The Whole F’N Show had the best match on the card up to this point by a large margin.

This was the first time all night that the crowd actually came alive, and who can blame them? They were watching a match that was captivating, enthralling, and peppered with enough big spots to get those loud *Holy s**t* chants going.

Speaking of which, the whole thing came to ahead when ‘Taker chokeslamed the champion off the stage through some tables to capture his first hardcore title.
Your Winner and New Hardcore Champion: The Undertaker

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Chris Jericho confronts Ric Flair
Back in Ric Flair‘s office, Chris Jericho confronted Nature Boy Ric Flair. 

Not unlike Kurt Angle earlier, Jericho insisted that Flair didn’t believe Jericho could get the job done tonight.

This time, Flair couldn’t really deny that, instead simply stating that if Jericho could do it, then more power to him. 

Whoever won the gold, Flair would walk the isle tomorrow night on Raw and award them the Undisputed Championship.

World Wrestling Federation Women’s Championship
WWF Women’s Champion Trish Stratus vs. Jacqueline

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Trish Stratus
Though Trish would go on to be a competent and successful wrestler, she seemed very much over her head while locking up with the more experienced Jacqueline, making several mistakes that made the whole thing come off a little sloppy.

Of course, you can hardly blame her when she and Jacquie were trying to have an actual wrestling match and all the fans cared about was puppies.

Even Jerry Lawler, whose job it was to help get this stuff over, could only fixate on the colour of Trish’s bra.

After a minute or so of not very much, Trish hit her patented Bulldog to retain her title.
Your Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus

Prior to our main events, we were taken back to Smackdown and the moment The Rock burried Vince’s face in Rikishi’s ass.

Live from WWF New York, ‘Kishi joked about his concern that he might have to have McMahon’s ass surgically removed from his ass before telling us that he was now back and ready to back that ass up.

This was followed by a recap video of tonight’s undisputed championship matches set to the WWF Vengeance 2001 theme song, Sinner by Drowning Pool.


World Wrestling Federation Championship
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle
Interestingly, Stone Cold Steve Austin came out to his classic Glass Shatters theme after months of using themes by Disturbed, firmly establishing the fact that his heel run was officially over.

His theme music wasn’t the only thing Austin brought back tonight. His older ring style also made a comeback...well, at least kind of.

This was the first time in perhaps years that we’d seen Austin having an actual wrestling match on PPV rather than the usual brawl up and down the isle and around ringside.

The champion even borrowed Angle’s own rolling German suplex move and hit him with five of the things in quick succession. Suplex city, bitch indeed.

Of course, Angle was no slouch either. The Olympic Gold Medalist worked hard here, but despite all that, this one fell short of their previous matches such as the one at Unforgiven 2001.
Your Winner and Still WWF Champion: Stone Cold Steve Austin

Because we couldn’t just go from one match to the next for some reason, this historic occasion was interrupted by a backstage skit in which Test hit on his former manager Trish Stratus, only for the women’s champion to send him packing.

World Championship
World Champion The Rock vs. Chris Jericho

WWE / WWF Vengeance 2001 - Chris Jericho beat The Rock for the World Championship
Now this was more like the kind of WWF main event this writer was expecting; a compelling battle between two arch rivals with the intensity turned all the way up to 11.

While it wasn’t quite as good as their awesome outing at No Mercy 2001, it was still a damn fine match in which Jericho looked strong against The Rock.

Ok, so he was still a heel and acted accordingly, and ok, so he won the match after hitting Rock with a low blow after the champion was distracted by Vince McMahon interference, but this wasn’t a case of Y2J getting whooped every which way til Sunday then fluking a victory.

Prior to the cheating, Jericho actually looked like he belonged as he took one step closer to immortality.
Your Winner and New World Champion: Chris Jericho

Jericho had no time to celebrate, or even rest for that matter, as Austin charged the ring and immediately went after him.

The WWF Champion was then taken out with a chair courtesy of Angle before Rock returned to the ring and planted Chris Jericho with a rock bottom.

Thus, our final match of the evening began with both men lying on their backs, sucking air.

Undisputed Championship Match
WWF Champion Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. World Champion Chris Jericho

This was another decent match. Not as good as Jericho’s outing with The Rock, but passable as a main event and marred only by the fact that the crowd were obviously waiting for a run-in from a returning Triple H and that was never going to happen.

It wasn’t completely ludicrous to expect The Game to put in a cameo. His face was all over the advertisements for tonight while sledgehammers -his weapon of choice- were a prominent part of the show’s motif.

Alas, it wasn’t Hunter who was returning tonight but Booker T.

After failing to get his job back on a recent episode of Raw, the former Alliance member ran through the crowd and blasted his one-time leader in the head with a title belt. Then, Jericho made the cover. Earl Hebner made the count, and that was that.
Your Winner and New Undisputed Champion: Chris Jericho

Ladies and gentlemen, Chris Jericho had just beaten The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night. He would spend the rest of his career bragging about it.







Understandably, Vengeance 2001 is remembered more for its historical significance regarding the Undisputed Championship than it is for its in ring quality, but that’s not to say that this wasn’t a good show.

The opener was fun, Regal/Edge was solid, and Rock/Jericho was a riot.

Match of the night goes to Undertaker/RVD, a really enjoyable bout that is definitely worth watching at least once.


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.