The WWE Vengeance 2003 pay-per-view was a Smackdown brand show – the first ever Smackdown-only PPV. It was over a year into the first brand extension (or roster split as I liked to call it) where I think it’s fair to say that Smackdown was a better show than Raw.
The quality of Smackdown in the second half of 2002 was definitely better, then it became more even as we headed into 2003, but I still think Smackdown was better for most of this year.
The main matches at Vengeance were a triple threat for the WWE Title with Brock Lesnar defending the gold against a babyface Kurt Angle coming back from neck surgery and Big Show. The veteran Undertaker was taking on a star on the rise, John Cena, who was two years away from being a top guy. Evil boss Vince McMahon wrestled a one-legged man in Zach Gowen. Plus, US Title and Tag Team Title matches were built well and a heated rivalry between Stephanie McMahon-Sable rounded out the card.
This show did pretty well in terms of PPV business with 365,000 buys. That was better than every non “big four” PPV of 2003 except No Way Out 2003, which did strong numbers because of a Rock/Hogan rematch. I think fans that followed Smackdown closely really liked the build to this event and they should have because it was a strong lineup.
Here’s the synopsis on WWE Network:
“Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Championship in a Triple Threat Match against Kurt Angle and The Big Show. The McMahon family is in action as Stephanie McMahon takes on Sable in a No Count-Out Match and Mr. McMahon faces Zach Gowen. The Undertaker takes on John Cena, an exciting contest for the vacant United States Championship, and more.” 14+ (D,L,S,V)
The DVD looked like this:
The Pepsi Center in Denver, CO
July 27, 2003
The opening video package highlighted all of the main matches. The faces talked about how great they are and how much they want to win while another video highlighted Vince McMahon saying if you get in his way, he’ll take you out. Good video as usual.
There was an impressive pyro display and a vocal crowd in Denver. The announce team was Michael Cole and Tazz.
Eddie Guerrero made his entrance in a low rider. Chris Benoit got a nice ovation from the crowd for his entrance.
US Title Tournament Finals: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit
Pre-show notes: This was the finals of a tournament to crown a new US Champion on the Smackdown brand. Benoit was a face. Eddie was a bit of a tweener at this point that was a heel, but he was cheered a lot.
Referee Mike Chioda explained the rules to both men while holding the title. Eddie stalled to start. Eddie with a hammerlock, Benoit into the ropes and he gets a shoulderblock. Eddie escapes to the floor. Armbar by Eddie, Benoit goes for the crossface, but Eddie breaks. Side headlock by Eddie, followed by a shoulder knockdown. They do a test of strength, which Benoit wins, sending Eddie to his knees while the crowd approves. Eddie kicks his way out of it, leg sweep and a top wristlock turned into an armbar. Chops by Eddie, three of them, hurricanrana (called a headscissors incorrectly by Cole) by Eddie after coming off the ropes. Then they do three two fall counters. After an arm drag, Benoit goes outside. Five minutes in, it’s moving along slowly. Eddie grabbed a tight headlock. After another headlock, Benoit fights out of it, then reverses a tombstone by Eddie to get a shoulderbreaker. Benoit goes for the Crossface while the crowd was going nuts. Eddie fought out of it and Benoit kicked him outside. Benoit with a suicide dive onto Guerrero on the floor. Back in the ring, Benoit threw him shoulder first into the turnbuckle. Hammerlock suplex. Another bodyslam. Benoit got a half nelson suplex on the mat, working on Eddie’s arm. Benoit chops him down hard. Eddie manages to elbow Benoit when he charges in the corner. To the top, Eddie gets a hurricanrana on him off the top for two. The crowd yelled “TWO” for that. Good job Denver! Loud “Benoit” chant. Eddie hit a high-angle back suplex for two. Eddie stomped on Benoit, then grabbed an armbar near the ropes. Up to their feet, they exchanged nasty chops. Guerrero poked him in the eye. Love that! Into the ropes, backdrop by Benoit, forearm by Benoit. Into the corner, chops by Benoit. Benoit went for a German Suplex, but Eddie fought out of that. Benoit set Eddie up on top backwards and a back suplex off the top! After about eight seconds, Benoit covers for…two. Good nearfall. Benoit with a German suplex, then another and third one is blocked. Benoit slapped on a Crippler Crossface submission. Guerrero got his foot on the bottom rope just as he was about to tap.
Benoit with a backbreaker for two. Eddie countered a suplex, two vertical suplexes, and Eddie set him up top. Superplex off the top by Guerrero! He goes up top. Frog splash misses by about one inch as Benoit rolled out of the way. Guerrero’s arm caught a piece of him, but not enough. A hard powerbomb by Benoit gets two. Another good nearfall. Benoit with a Crossface again, but Eddie gets ropes because he was close. Guerrero drove Benoit into the ref, knocking him down. Eddie went outside, grabbed the US title and drilled Benoit in the head with it! Eddie went up top and hit the Frog Splash. Chioda comes to for the one, two…NO! I thought that was it. Eddie was shocked by it as the crowd reacted in a big way. Eddie ook the belt, then smacked Chioda in the back. He put the belt on Benoit and laid down! He looks up and tries to wake the ref. Eddie started kicking the ref to wake him up. Benoit got up and slapped on the Crossface on Eddie again. Eddie tapped out, but there was no referee. Benoit helped the ref at that point. Release German Suplex by Benoit as the ref was slowly coming to. To the top, Benoit jumped with the headbutt, Eddie rolled out of the way, then pulled the referee in front of him to take the headbutt! Chioda was down again with Tazz noting that Chioda was taking ass-kicking this match. Here comes Rhyno for the run-in with Cole noting that he was Beniot’s friend meaning he was a face. Rhyno with a Gore on Benoit and Rhyno yelled at him. There’s your heel turn. Eddie went up top, he hit the Frog Splash and Chioda woke up to count Eddie’s pinfall one…two…and three for the victory at 22:14.
Winner by pinfall: Eddie Guerrero
Analysis: ***3/4 The match was the usual great stuff that you would expect from these two guys. The referee bumps hurt the match, but it’s what you do sometimes when you want to get a title onto a heel in a cheap manner. The reason Rhyno got involved was because it would set up a feud with Benoit with Rhyno going heel. It was fitting for a heel to cost a face the match while the heel Eddie capitalized to get the win.
Eddie Guerrero celebrated with the US Title as his song reminded us that he likes to lie, cheat and steal. Eddie backed his lowrider out of the building.
Analysis: Both guys would finish off 2003 with a lot of momentum and have the biggest years of their careers (in terms of pushes) in 2004. Sadly, Eddie died in late 2005 due to a heart attack and Benoit committed a double murder-suicide in 2007. I was a huge fan of both men during this time. I can still enjoy Eddie stuff obviously, but it’s not the same watching Benoit.
Backstage, Vince McMahon was smelling some flowers as daughter Stephanie McMahon showed up to talked. They talked about Linda’s health when Kane attacked her. Vince said he’ll be on Raw tomorrow. Vince said he got Steph some flowers, but not the ones that were on the table because those were for Sable. The scene ended there.
There was a video package about Billy Gunn (with Torrie Wilson) facing Jamie Noble. Jamie offered her money to sleep with him and she said no. If Billy loses at Vengeance, then Torrie has to sleep with Jamie Noble on Smackdown next week.
Billy Gunn made his entrance (“I’m an Ass Man” song) with the lovely Torrie Wilson by his side. Jamie Noble was next. Noble had a briefcase that he says has all the sex toys that he’ll use with Torrie on Smackdown. No Nidia with Noble.
Indecent Proposal Match: Billy Gunn (w/Torrie Wilson) vs. Jamie Noble
Pre-match notes: Billy Gunn was the face while Noble was the heel.
Billy attacked him in the aisle. Gunn opened up the briefcase to show all the oils. Why do I think that Torrie is going to accidentally hit Billy with that? After a flapjack by Billy, Noble sent him outside. Noble with a plancha, then a dropkick on the floor. Gunn was selling a knee injury while Noble worked on it using a leg bar. Nidia walked down to the ring. When Billy got up, Noble kicked away at the left leg. Billy hit the “One and Only” Full Nelson slam. They do the knockout spot after only three minutes. Clothesline by Gunn, hiptoss into a neckbreaker. Gunn couldn’t get the Fameasser so he does a Diamond Cutter (or RKO) neckbreaker for two. Gunn goes to the top despite the bad knee. To the top, Noble hit a top rope DDT. Nidia put Gunn’s foot on the bottom rope during Noble’s pin attempt. Torrie went to slap Noble, but Noble kissed her. Then both girls slapped Noble. Torrie grabbed Noble by the leg, Gunn hit Noble with a punch in the back. Billy goes for the Gunn Stinger sideslam, but Noble fought out of it, then Noble with a rollup and grabbed the tights for the victory at 5:01.
Winner: Jamie Noble
Analysis: *1/2 This was a boring match with a surprising finish although that was the result that made the most sense based on the stipulation. I liked the DDT off the top. The segment they did on Smackdown was goofy.
Backstage, Funaki talked to the APA. They showed a video package of last week where the Brooklyn Brawler hit chairshots on a bunch of people. The APA invited Funaki and he asks what he should wear. They said he can be a Japanese reporter. Somebody walked by with an Easter Bunny outfit while Bradshaw drank Jack Daniels.
Analysis: Funaki rules. Indeed.
APA Barroom Invitational
They had the superstars standing around a “bar” set up beside the stage in the aisle. There were a bunch of people there. It would be too hard to name them all, so I’ll just go as best I can. Bashams and FBI were introduced. Here comes the Easter Bunny. Matt Hardy’s in it, so is Shannon Moore. Brother Love aka Bruce Prichard was there. There’s Doink the Clown. Tazz just said “I got a Dink” right here. No comment. Next up was Sean O’Haire. APA comes out last to start whatever you want to call this. Bradshaw said that the only rules are the “last man drinking, wins.” If you stand in the bar, they are gonna kick your ass.
Brother Love said it’s the APA’s party, but “just because I love you doesn’t mean I like you.” He said they made fine altar boys as kids, but they’ve blown it tonight. They should shut up, shut their eyes and bow their heads as he leads us in a message of love. He cracked a chair over the backs of two people. I didn’t see who they were. The Bashams throw Spanky through a table. Other guys just brawl. Nobody has hit the Easter Bunny until Sean O’Haire just punched him. O’Haire drilled the APA with pool cues, then he kicked Nunzio. Shannon Moore jumped off the top of something with a plancha on O’Haire. Love threw Moore into a mirror. Easter Bunny was on the bar, so Bradshaw threw him through something. Bradshaw hit people with a bar tray. The crowd didn’t know how to respond. Hardy did a legdrop off the bar onto Basham and Kanyon through a table. During all this, Funaki has not left the barstool, drinking beers. Funaki fell over on the stool, so he was drunk. Everybody is down now except for the APA and Brother Love. Love got slapped in the head with a bottle to the cranium. Referee Mike Sparks proclaims Bradshaw the winner. It went about 4:39.
Analysis: I can’t really rate it as a match. It was lame. Just a brawl that was more like a non-wrestling segment rather than a match in order to get more of the roster on the show. It wasn’t that exciting at all.
Backstage, Jamie Noble was looking at the Playboy pics of Torrie Wilson. The magazine looked worn out. Feel the comedy. Noble talked to some backstage guy. The guy asked about Nidia. Noble said she’s hot, but she’ll get over it.
Rey Mysterio made his entrance first as the Cruiserweight Champion. Billy Kidman didn’t get much of a reaction as Rey’s partner. The Tag Team Championship team of Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas were up next as two-time WWE Tag Team Champions.
WWE Tag Team Championships: The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman
Pre-match notes: Rey and Kidman were the faces while Haas and Benjamin were the heels.
Mysterio and Benjamin started with some mat wrestling that Shelton won. Rey with a dropkick to the knee and a leg scissors takedown. Tag in to Kidman, drop toehold into a dropkick by Billy for two. Flying headscissors for Kidman. Knee to the gut by Shelton, then a hair whip. Haas tagged in with a shoulderblock, leapfrog by Kidman and a Kidman forearm for one. Haas choked him over the middle rope. Rey tagged in for a springboard legdrop that got two. Into the ropes, a flapjack by Rey is turned into a neckbreaker variation by Haas. Haas threw Rey face first into the turnbuckle. Haas with a powerslam. Shelton tagged in with a toss into the air leading to a big bump from Rey followed by a side headlock. Rey fought out of it with elbows. Hurricanrana reversed by Benjamin, then Rey gets a seated dropkick. Cool spot. Here comes Kidman with dropkicks on both guys. Back body drop by Kidman. BK Bomb (like a spinebuster) gets two. Kidman went for a headscissors, gets set up for the double team move by the champs, but Rey trips Benjamin. Haas is in 619 position, but Shelton stops Rey there. Rey gets a springboard plancha on to Benjamin on the floor. Kidman sent Haas over the top to the outside. Billy to the top rope and he hit a Shooting Star Press from the top ropes onto the champs standing on the floor! “Holy shit” chant from the crowd was well deserved as Kidman got a two count. Kidman to the apron, Benjamin grabs Kidman illegally and Shelton sent Kidman back first into the ring post. That gets two for Haas as Kidman becomes the face in peril.
Benjamin with a body slam on Charlie’s knee. Benjamin did a “Red Hook Ringer” according to Tazz where he basically hooked up the legs and neck with each hand. Benjamin with a surfboard submission, Kidman fought out for a two count. Tag in to Haas. Haas threw Kidman sternum first into the ropes, then hooked his arms while burying a foot to the back. Back elbows by Kidman, and then he tossed Haas out through the middle ropes. Tag to Rey, but Shelton distracted the ref and kept Rey out. Classic tag wrestling. Double suplex on Kidman got two for Haas, who tagged in Benjamin. Powerbomb by Benjamin as they continued to work on Billy’s back. Kick to the gut by Benjamin got two. Powerbomb reversed into a facebuster by Kidman. That’s a spot that Kidman loved to do. Kidman tagged in Mysterio for the hot tag. Rey gets a springboard somersault flip on Benjamin and he knocked Haas off the apron. Rey with an enziguri on Benjamin and forced Haas outside with a fake move, then a rollup for Rey got two. Springboard that Rey turned into a DDT got two. Kidman knees Haas in the back. 619 kick by Mysterio on Haas. Mysterio gets a plancha off the springboard on Haas and the ref yelled at Kidman for some reason. Benjamin kicked Rey hard to stop his momentum. Haas rolled over for a two count. Jawbreaker by Mysterio on Haas. Kidman set Haas up top, Rey hit a hurricanrana off the top for the one…two…NO! Great two count. The crowd thought it was it. They start a “bullshit” chant. Benjamin hit a dragon whip on Kidman. Haas picked up Rey on his shoulders Shelton springboards and gets a clothesline/powerbomb combo on Rey for the victory at 14:53. They thought Benjamin wasn’t legal, but the replay showed that he was.
Winners by pinfall: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas
Analysis **** Awesome match! Great tag team action here. That nearfall by Rey on Haas drew a very loud reaction for the two count. That was really well done because it showed how much the fans wanted a title change to happen here, but they didn’t get it. Since Haas/Benjamin were the full-time tag team it made sense for them to keep the titles. Rey and Kidman made for an exciting, talented babyface team that looked like they could have won the match at several different times.
There was a video of Sable and Stephanie McMahon getting in a fight in the parking lot area on the previous edition of Smackdown. Stephanie took Sable’s top off (it was censored on the show) and Sable got away in a limo.
Stephanie McMahon was up first as the General Manager of Smackdown. Sable was a heel that was Stephanie’s assistant that was also romantically linked to Stephanie’s father Vince McMahon.
No Countout Match: Stephanie McMahon vs. Sable
Pre-match notes: Stephanie was the face while Sable was the heel. This was a few months before Stephanie married Triple H.
Stephanie attacked Sable in the aisle and then tossed her into the ring. Sable ran away into the crowd, but Stephanie brought her back to the ringside area where Stephanie hit a clothesline. Sable with a low dropkick when Stephanie was trying to get back into the ring. Sable pulled Stephanie off the ropes for a two count. Sable with a kick to the back of the head followed by “The Grind” taunting, so Steph rolled her up for two. Hard slap by Sable followed by another slap. Into the corner, Steph hits Sable with an elbow. It should be worth pointing out that both are wearing black outfights along with kneepads and boots. At least they look like wrestlers. Steph gets a takedown and some punches along with a hair whip for two. They went to the floor, so Steph gets a chair. The referee Brian Hebner took it away. Steph drills Sable with three forearms. They don’t look that bad. In the ring, Steph with the “big slap.” Stephanie mounted Sable, then gets some more slaps to the head. That gets two. Stephanie was running the face of Sable into the mat. Steph gets a Mr. Perfect-esque neck snap. Into the corner, Steph does some punching and choking. Oh no, she’s yelling. Not the voice! Steph goes to rip off Sable’s top, which led to cheers. Sable didn’t have a bra on, so she used her hands to cover. Sable tried to fix her top. The ref told Steph to back off, so Stephanie shoved. The referee Brian Hebner gave Sable his shirt. Since the referee was occupied, A-Train went into the ring and ran into Stephanie with a splash, knocking her down. Sable gets the pin to win at 6:25.
Winner by pinfall: Sable
Analysis: *1/4 The match wasn’t as bad as I thought, but it’s still a poor match. It was obvious Steph did some training and was able to do some moves. Sable was basically on the defensive the whole time while escaping with the cheap win thanks to the attack from A-Train. The fans were into most of the match and wanted Stephanie to win, but that didn’t happen.
After the match, the announcers put over how Stephanie could be hurt after A-Train ran over Stephanie. The refs helped Stephanie to the back with the fans cheering Stephanie for her effort.
There was a video package for The Undertaker’s match against John Cena. The story was that Cena was calling himself a legend and he beat Orlando Jordan by pulling the tights. After Cena attacked Jordan, The Undertaker showed up for the save. Undertaker distracted Cena in a match against Billy Gunn, so Cena did a promo from a cemetery where he even pissed on a tombstone that was there. The Undertaker said he was going to shut him up.
Analysis: This was a few months before Cena would turn face going into Survivor Series 2003. The idea here was that it was “new school” Cena as a cocky heel against the “old school” legend that was The Undertaker.
John Cena made his entrance to the “Word Life” song and wearing a Larry Bird jersey from Indiana State. Cena did a rap: “I don’t need leather pants and tattoos to try to act cool. I got throwbacks and steel chains. I lead the new school.” Cena said it was time to take out the evil. Cena said that “Undertaker was just another sucka and if you think he’s beating John Cena then you just a stupid mutha…” and you can figure it out there.
The Undertaker made his entrance on his motorcycle, but he left the motorcycle on the ramp. Undertaker tapped his heart and pointed up to the skies. The salute was for The Undertaker’s dad, who passed away in the weeks leading up to this match. Undertaker was using the “You’re Gonna Pay” theme song at this time.
The Undertaker vs. John Cena
Pre-match notes: The Undertaker was the veteran babyface while Cena was in his second year on Smackdown and he was a heel.
They locked up to start. Cena with a slap, and then some punches in the corner. Undertaker tossed Cena into the corner. A boot by Undertaker sent Cena to the floor. Taker threw Cena into the guardrail. Cena spit water in Taker’s face. Taker fought it off, then whipped Cena into the guard rail again. Taker worked over Cena around ringside a bit. Taker hit a huge legdrop while Cena’s neck was draped over the ring apron. Elbow to the back by Undertaker Cena with a boot to the face and then back in the ring, he gets a two count. Key lock submission by Taker on Cena, who quickly broke it. Cena tried to fight back, but Taker tossed him out over the top again. Back in the ring, Undertaker hit the old school top rope clothesline. Taker signals for the Chokeslam and hits it. One, two, and Taker picked him up. Taker signals for the Last Ride powerbomb. Cena countered out by slipping through, which led to a DDT by Cena. Cena unhooked the top turnbuckle, exposing the steel. Cena with some choking and then back to the turnbuckle, he loosened it enough to expose it. Undertaker back up with a “soup bone” punch followed by some back elbows. Charging clothesline by Undertaker. Taker went for an elbow on him, but Cena ducked and Taker’s right arm/shoulder hit the steel. Cena charged and shoved him out of the ring, straight through the ropes. On the floor, Taker gets a couple of uppercuts. Cena fought it off, charged and shoved him off the apron leading him side first into the barrier. Cena finally rolled Undertaker in while Undertaker was bleeding from the mouth. Cena worked on the ribs with some kicks. I guess it wasn’t the shoulder. Taker fought him off, but Cena overpowered him into the corner. Back up, Taker gets some punches and a clothesline for two. Back up, Cena with a knee to the gut. Taker grabbed a Dragon Sleeper for just under five seconds because Cena was in the ropes. Spinebuster by Cena. Good move considering the internal blood. On the mat, Cena with some knees to the ribs for two.
They got back up, exchanging blows the whole way. Taker ran the ropes leading to a leaping clothesline. Taker didn’t get up too high like normal. That gets two. The crowd was still chanting TWO! Good crowd! Undertaker wanted a Tombstone, Cena slipped out of it and Taker slipped out of an FU attempt. Taker with boot, then a legdrop that gets two. He’s not Hogan apparently. Into the corner, Taker throws some more punches. Now he’s grabbing him down in the corner. We couldn’t really see anything. It looked like a choke by Taker. Cena pulled out his steel chain to hit Undertaker in the ribs with it! Undertaker sold it like he was stabbed. Cena set him up for the F-U (Death Valley Driver) and Undertaker kicked out. That looked like the finish, but Taker kicked out in time. Cena with punches. They went over to the turnbuckle with Cena punching Taker and then he stood on the turnbuckle along with some posing. Uh oh. Undertaker grabbed Cena and hit him with the Last Ride for the pinfall win at 16:01.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: ***1/2 A very good brawling style match. It was an old-school-style fight with the blood, the rib injury and the use of weapons by the young heel. Props to Undertaker for working so hard and well after his dad died a few days ago. John Cena also did a good job although I would have liked to see Cena win because it would have done a lot for his career at this point, but it didn’t happen. That finishing spot is so contrived. The audience could see it coming a mile away and we saw Taker do that move so many times in his career. I just don’t like it as a finish.
Post match, The Undertaker continued to sell the rib injury while continuing to bleed from the mouth. The announcers went really hard in terms of putting over Cena putting up a good fight even though he lost the match.
Bonus Analysis: Apparently, Cena was supposed to go over in this match, but it got changed by Vince McMahon. Here’s what Dave Meltzer wrote in the Wrestling Observer about it:
“According to a few sources, the plan for the match going in was Cena going over cleanly. It is said that was the unanimous opinion of the writers as well as the agents. However, the day of the show, McMahon changed his mind. It was not a popular decision and one that was greatly second guessed by almost everyone both in and out of the company. I haven’t heard that Undertaker refused or complained about the job. It was only said it was one of those deals with McMahon. He does not want unproven, or what he considers guys who haven’t earned a spot, beating the guys who have, in his mind, made him the most money.”
Analysis: I would have preferred a Cena win too. It’s not like The Undertaker would be hurt by losing a match at a July PPV. It just shows how Vince was always willing to protect his top guys like Undertaker and Hunter while Cena would become one of those protected guys as well.
The video package aired for Vince McMahon against Zach Gowen. Zach had bone cancer on his leg, so they had to amputate his left leg to save his life. Gowen had a goal to be a professional wrestler. Vince did his evil boss routine by tormenting Gowen for weeks and Vince apologized, but Gowen did not accept his apology. Gowen wanted a WWE Smackdown wrestling contract. That led to Gowen and Stephanie against Big Show in a No DQ, No Holds Barred match on Smackdown. Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar took out Big Show with their finishing moves and Gowen hit a moonsault off the top to pin Show to earn a contract. Vince told Zach he’ll have his first official match as a contracted superstar against Vince. Gowen told Vince he was a sorry excuse for a human being.
Vince McMahon aka Mr. McMahon made his entrance looking jacked as usual. Zach Gowen entered as the opponent wrestling in shorts. Referee Brian Hebner talked to them before the match with Gowen taking off his prosthetic left leg and handing it to the referee, who removed it from the ring.
Vince McMahon vs. Zach Gowen
Pre-match notes: Vince McMahon was the heel while Zach Gowen was the face. There was a big age difference here because Vince was 57 years old at the time of the match (he turned 58 years old one month later) while Gowen was just 20 years old. I don’t think there are many WWE matches where there’s a 37-year age difference, but here we are.
Vince powered Gowen into the turnbuckle. Nice “Got Legs” sign in the crowd. Waistlock takeover by Vince, then a hiptoss and bodyslam. Smell the workrate, Vince! Hard clothesline by Vince. Zach sold that move so well. Kick to the gut by Vince. Vince with some shoulder blocks while the crowd chanted “Asshole” at the boss. Zach tries to fight out, but Vince kept elbowing him in the head. Clubbing blow to the back by Vince. Zach fought back with elbows to the head, Vince went for a clothesline and Zach sent Vince over the top to the floor. Zach with an Asai moonsault off the middle rope to the floor! What a cool spot. That’s amazing to see. Springboard legdrop by Gowen to the back of the head gets two. Vince grabbed him by the leg, wrenching the knee. Vince dropped his knee on the leg of Gowen. That’s smart because it makes sense to work on his one leg. It also makes Vince look to be an even bigger asshole. Vince picked up the leg and slammed the knee hard into the mat. One more time. Cole said that if Vince takes out Zach’s leg he can’t move around the ring. Thank you, Captain Obvious! Vince kicked the back of Zach’s leg to massive heel heat. Vince with another kick to the knee that Zach sold by flipping over. There was some posing by Vince. Vince pulled Gowen toward the ring post, and then whipped the knee into it.
Back in the ring, Vince verbally taunted Gowen. Single leg (obviously) Boston Crab by Vince. Gowen made it to the ropes after about thirty seconds. Vince tossed him back into the middle of the ring. Zach kicked Vince in the knees a few times, giving himself time to get up. Kick to the chest by Gowen. Springboard flip by Gowen, followed by a dropkick to the chest. Gowen pounds on Vince’s head with punches. Gowen pulled Vince’s legs by the ring post leading to Vince’s “grapefruits” hitting the ring post. Ouch. Gowen sent Vince’s knee into the ring post two times. Gowen rammed Vince’s knee into the ring post again. Gowen jumped off the top with a bulldog that barely hit. Missile dropkick by Gowen and then a moonsault by Gowen for the one, two and Vince got the left foot on the ropes for a two count. Great nearfall there. Vince did an eye gouge and then he left the ring. Vince brought a blue steel chair in the ring. Vince shoved referee Brian Hebner out of the ring and Gowen dropped the chair into Vince’s head. Vince was bleeding from the head. It looked like a legit cut rather than a blade job. When I watched the replay, you could see Vince put his hand by his head, so maybe there was a blade. I don’t know. Gowen with a chair shot to the back. Gowen went up top and jumped off, but a twisting somersault plancha missed. Vince was a bloody mess. Vince went for the cover with blood dripping down his face, and Vince got the one…two…three at 14:02.
Winner by pinfall: Vince McMahon
Analysis: **1/2 That was better than I ever would have thought. The majority of the match saw Vince work over Gowen’s right leg with Zach doing a tremendous job of selling it and also finding ways to come back. I thought Zach was consistently good during his WWE career in terms of selling moves. When you’ve got one leg, that’s the obvious story to tell and Zach did well at it. I think they should have had Vince hit a move to pin Gowen to win rather than just cover after Zach missed a move. Vince did his part well too as an aggressive heel that showed no remorse in terms of focusing his attack on the right leg. Zach put up a fight, but Vince winning made the most sense here.
Post match, a bloody Vince McMahon walked away as the winner of the match. Zach got a standing ovation from the crowd. Gowen was handed his prosthetic left leg and he walked out of the ring as the loser, but he won over the crowd.
Analysis: That ovation from the crowd was well deserved. Zach was impressive in this match.
The new US Champion Eddie Guerrero was interviewed by Josh Matthews in the backstage area. Eddie said his victory wasn’t tainted because he ended up with the title. Eddie said Benoit got what he deserved from Rhyno.
The video package aired for the WWE Championship between champion Brock Lesnar, Kurt Angle and Big Show. Angle suffered a neck injury during the WrestleMania 19 loss to Lesnar and had surgery. Angle said that Lesnar became a genuine friend to him. After a few months of rehab, Angle was cleared to return to the ring and wanted a WWE Title shot. Big Show was also in the picture, so he told Angle to wait in line. The rest of the video featured clips of the three guys in action. It wasn’t some great storyline. It was just champion Lesnar against two top contenders.
After the video package, Tony Chimel announced that there were no disqualifications in this match. The first man to get the pinfall wins. That’s standard for WWE triple threat matches to have No DQ and I think Chimel should have mentioned the first submission would work too.
Big Show was out first as the lone heel in the match with Cole mentioning he has beaten Angle and Lesnar in recent weeks. Kurt Angle was next to a big pop since he was in babyface mode and the fans still chanted “you suck” for him because it’s catchy for Kurt’s song. Brock Lesnar was out last as the WWE Champion. Nice pope for Lesnar as the babyface champion. Lots of blood still in the ring from Vince McMahon in the prior match.
WWE Championship No Disqualification Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show vs. Kurt Angle
Pre-match notes: Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle were babyfaces while Big Show was a heel. Lesnar won the title about four months earlier at WrestleMania 19.
The friends went after Show, but Show gets a double clothesline. Chokeslam by Show on Lesnar already! Angle in to break it up. The crowd didn’t really react to it. They know it’s too early. Show worked on Angle with chops, Angle gets out, goes for a German Suplex and it was blocked with a clothesline from Show. Headbutt by Angle. Lesnar was on the floor during all this. Angle with a cross body block, Show caught him and Angle turned it into an Ankle Lock. Show kicked away Angle. Lesnar tried to get in, but Show kicked him. Legdrop gets two for Show on Angle with Lesnar making the save. Back elbow by Lesnar, climbs to the second rope and a flying elbow knocked down Show. Shot to the back by Big Show on Lesnar. Show gets a move that Cole calls “There it is” for two. It was an elbow drop into a slam. Angle comes in with a trash can lid. Angle gives one to Brock. They beat Show down with trash can lids. They go to double suplex Show, but Show reverses it and suplexes both men. Double chokeslam by Show was blocked by Lesnar & Angle. Kurt and Brock double chokeslam Show! Cool reversals there. Lesnar’s pinfall on Show was broken by Angle. Lesnar gets a clothesline on Angle. Kick to the gut and an F5 by Lesnar on Angle. Angle rolled away to the bottom rope. Show walked right into the F5 by Lesnar on him for one…two…no. Angle pulled Mike Chioda out during the count. Brock went outside to work on Angle with punches with Lesnar whipping Angle back first into the steel steps. Lesnar sent Angle into the steel steps, then the steel post. Steel is running wild. Back in, Lesnar’s clotheslines don’t work on Show, but Show’s clothesline did knock down Lesnar. Show with a legdrop for two. Angle was busted open on the floor. More blood on this show.
Show worked over Lesnar with a headbutt and chops. Show lifted Lesnar to the top rope. Show started to climb slowly. Show threw Angle off the apron to the ground. That gave Lesnar time to deliver a running powerbomb on Show from out of the corner! Damn! It was different from Taker’s powerbomb since he was running. Tazz about Lesnar: “What a freakin’ animal this guy is!” Correct. Angle drilled Lesnar in the back with a chair to break the count. Then Angle hit Lesnar hard in the head with a chair, sending him to the floor. Angle hit Show with a chair to knock Show out of the ring. Show rolled outside, Angle charged at him and Show got his foot up so that Angle ate the chair. Show ripped off the monitors from the Spanish announce table. They show Brock was also bleeding on the floor. Show with a Chokeslam reversed by Angle into an Angle Slam through the announce table! Oh man, that was SWEET! Awesome spot there. To set things up, Show is out through the table, Lesnar is down on the side of the floor and Angle was slowly going back in the ring. Lesnar climbed back in the ring slowly with Angle. They were bleeding, crawling to eachother and looking at the other guy while on their knees. These guys rule. They got into an exchange of punches. An F5 by Lesnar was blocked by the ropes. Lesnar tossed Kurt over the top to the floor. Kurt recovered, then reversed a whip to throw Brock back first into the steel steps at ringside. Angle sent Lesnar headfirst into the steps a couple of times. In the ring, German Suplex by Angle on Lesnar. Brock went for a clothesline, Kurt reversed that to a German Suplex and Lesnar took the bump on his stomach. Amazing. That gets two.
Kurt pulled down the straps. Kick to the gut by Angle, the Angle Slam reversed to a whip into the ropes and a spinebuster by Lesnar gets two. Lesnar grabbed a gut wrench on the ground with his legs locked around the waist and arms around the neck. About a minute later, Show dropped a legdrop on their heads. Show got a two count on both guys. Double Chokeslam by Show on Angle and Lesnar at the same time. Lesnar was up at two. Show tried to pin Angle, but Brock broke that up. Another Chokeslam but Show but there was a low blow by Brock. Kurt punched Brock into the corner. Into the corner, a Lesnar charge misses. Angle grabbed the Ankle Lock while Brock was standing! Awesome. Show broke it up. Kurt hit Show with an Angle Slam. Angle Slam on Lesnar. Angle pinned Brock for the One…Two…Three! WOO! Angle wins the WWE Title at 17:29.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW WWE Champion: Kurt Angle
Analysis: **** This was a great match. Lots of action with all three guys looking impressive until Angle found a way to beat both guys to win the match. Here’s your match of the night. Angle was absolutely incredible as he usually is. Lesnar was very good while Show certainly did his job well. I remember thinking at the time that Angle was going to pin Show to win because the champion doesn’t always take the fall in a triple threat match, but they went with Angle pinning Lesnar here. It made sense in the story because Lesnar would turn heel against Angle although at this time, I think most people were surprised Lesnar lost clean. Anyway, it’s a really good main event match.
Angle left the ring with the WWE Championship and he posed on the ramp with the gold. Angle celebrated some more as the show ended there.
This event had a runtime of 2:40:17 on WWE Network.
Show rating (out of 10): 8.25
This was a really good pay-per-view. There were five matches that were above average with the main event WWE Title match and tag team title match standing out the most.
The ending of the main event was outstanding. The way they were able to build high spot after high spot with all three men looking strong the whole way threw told a tremendous story. I love how Big Show, despite being put threw that table, was fresher than the other two because they took so much out of eachother. It worked. I loved how Angle was the freshest at the end of the match. He put Brock in the Ankle Lock, gave Show the Angle Slam and then gave Brock one. It was also awesome to see a clean victory at the end of the show.
Everything else on the show was pretty good. The only stuff I’d consider bad was the APA Invitational, but that was only ten minutes. Even Stephanie/Sable was decent. Considering it only took up six minutes it’s not something to complain about too much. Plus, Steph wasn’t that bad. The Noble/Gunn thing was average. Again, it was kept short.
The other things were above average. They should have went long and they did. Benoit/Guerrero was very good, the tag title match was even better, Cena/Undertaker was an old-school brawl and McMahon/Gowen was better than it had any right to be. All those matches, plus the main event, got over fifteen minutes. That’s perfect.
From top to bottom, this was one of the best PPVs of 2003 behind WrestleMania 19. Everybody worked their asses to put on a good show. Congratulations, Smackdown crew, you did a helluva job.
- Kurt Angle
- Eddie Guerrero
- Brock Lesnar
- Big Show
- Vince McMahon/Zach Gowen
Best Match: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show (****) – Same rating I gave for The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas & Shelton Benjamin) vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman
Worst Match: Sable vs. Stephanie McMahon (*1/4)
Most Memorable Moment: The ending of the main event with Kurt Angle hitting an Angle Slam on Show and Lesnar back to back leading to Angle pinning Lesnar.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.
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