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The Dames' Diatribe on WWE Royal Rumble 2003

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Guest TSMAdmin

WWE Royal Rumble 2003

 

Hey everyone, thanks for taking the time out to read this. Most of you probably know me from my TNA reviews, which have become somewhat popular on the net. This review will be done in the same style as those.

 

Once again, I’m sick as a dog. I swear, I don’t know why this happens to me, but I’m feeling like crap, so let’s get right to the review.

 

Bonus Heat Match:

Steven Richards (w/ Victoria) vs. Spike Dudley

 

Match Background: I seriously don't know...and I'm going to be lazy today because I'm sick, OK!?

 

The Match: First thing you notice is that Jacqueline is the ref for this match. Spike actually attacks first as Richards is on the turnbuckles, posing for the crowd. He bails, but Spike follows him to the outside, where he’s confronted by Victoria. She backs off, but trips him as he goes into the ring after Richards, allowing Steven to drop an elbow onto his back and take over. He gets a reverse neckbreaker for two before putting on a full-nelson camel clutch. I know there’s a technical name for that move, but it just escaped me. He whips Spike off the ropes, but the smallest Dudley charges back with a flying headbutt to the abdomen. He goes for the Acid Drop, but Richards turns the attempt into a side Russian legsweep, in a nice counter. That reminds me....that move is always called a “side Russian legsweep”, so what’s a regular Russian legsweep? Richards backs Spike into the corner and lays some hard chops into him. They’re so hard, you can hear them very well although Spike is wearing a shirt. He sets Spike up for a superplex, but gets shoved off. Spike shoves him off and comes off the top with a double stomp the midsection for two. Richards takes control again after a hard irish whip in the corner, but gets shoved down by ref Jackie as he doesn’t back off when she tells him too. As they’re arguing, Victoria perches herself on the top rope, but Spike sees her. He goes to throw her off, but simply moves out of the way as Richards charges into the corner, crotching Victoria! Spike hooks the Acid Drop on Richards, using Victoria’s back to spring off of for the win!

 

My Opinion: Although the match was quick, it was set up pretty nicely. Popped the crowd before the pay per view, which is what you always want to do before you go live. *

 

PPV Start

 

Nice intro package highlight the fact that the Road to Wrestlemania begins at the Royal Rumble. Sound bytes from Chris Jericho, The Big Show, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, Triple H, Booker T, Shawn Michaels and Edge talking about what it would be like to main event Wrestlemania, either by winning the Rumble or winning the World Title tonight. Jericho stresses that once you get to do it once, you’ll want to do it over and over again. Very cool intro.

 

We are LIVE from The Fleet Center in Boston, MA. I’ve noticed for the first time that Michael Cole and Tazz are actually opening up the show. If I’m wrong, drop me a line.

 

Brock Lesnar vs. The Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman) - The Winner Advance To the Rumble Match

 

Can Brock Lesnar beat The Big Show?

 

Match Background: After Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker in the Hell in the Cell match at No Mercy to retain the WWE title, The Big Show debuted on Smackdown, challenging Brock Lesnar. Brock’s refusal to compose himself after Show’s challenge lead to a rift between Brock and his then manager, Paul Heyman. Heyman kept stressing that he wouldn’t be able to beat the Big Show, due to Show’s massive size, but Brock didn’t care. Distraught over his client’s lack of obedience, Heyman cost Lesnar the WWE Title (along with his undefeated streak) at Survivor Series against The Big Show, dumping Lesnar as his client and taking on The Big Show. (Note: The real reason why the title was taken off of Lesnar was due to a broken rib sustained at the hands of The Big Show during the build up to this match.) Heyman then revealed that his last act as Brock’s manager was to put in a “no rematch” clause into his contract and this ENRAGED Brock. Lesnar was then suspended by Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon after attacking The Big Show, despite all of her warnings not to due to Paul Heyman’s threat of litigation. Kurt Angle then won the right to face The Big Show for the title at Armageddon. He asked Lesnar to be in his corner to offset Paul Heyman’s likely interference, with the promise of a title match between Angle and Lesnar should he win the title. The strategy worked for Angle as Lesnar F5’ed The Big Show and Angle became the new WWE Champion. However, Angle was actually working with Paul Heyman and Brock was screwed out of a title shot again.

 

With the Royal Rumble’s guaranteed title shot upon victory, Paul Heyman took it upon himself to challenge Brock Lesnar on behalf of the Big Show. The winner of this match, advances to the Royal Rumble....the loser does not.

 

The Match: Well, I assume this match is on first to allow the winner of the match (Brock, most likely) to have enough rest before the Rumble match itself. I find it pretty funny that this match was one of two main events at Survivor Series, yet it’s the opener for the Royal Rumble. Brock comes out to a big pop, pacing like a madman before finally settling down with TWO Happy Dances on the way to the ring. They lock up with Show shoving Lesnar into the corner. “Let’s Go Lesnar” chant by the crowd as Show does it again. Lesnar drives Show into the corner and hits a few shoulder tackles before Show retaliates with a shot to the face. Lesnar pops right back up and hits a few MORE shoulder tackles before attempting an overhead belly to belly suplex. Show blocks it and headbutts Lesnar into the corner. Show charges, but Lesnar ducks and gets an overhead belly to belly on the Show! He hits a second, but Show blocks a third attempt and just tosses Brock over the top rope. Show throws Lesnar back in, only to hit him with a barrage of elbows and boots in the corner. HARD chops by Show in the corner before he just tosses Lesnar across the ring! Show once again charges into the corner and once again gets a belly to belly by Lesnar! This only gets a two as Heyman gets on the apron to distract him. Lesnar goes after him, allowing Heyman to grab hold of one of Brock’s feet and Show takes the advantage with a big boot. Side slam by the Show before he signals for the Chokeslam. Brock gets up and Show sets him up for the chokeslam, but Brock rolls him up in a nice amateur takedown for a close two! We need to see more of THAT from Lesnar! ANOTHER Belly to belly to the Big Show! Heyman gets on the apron to argue, but Lesnar throws him into the ring! He sets him up for an F5, but Show is up! Chokeslam!!! ONE...TWO...NO! That’s not killing his finish, as it took a chokeslam on a chair to take out Brock when Show beat him the first time. Heyman tells him to do it again, but of course...it doesn’t work as Brock floats over and shoves Show into Heyman who was standing on the apron! F5! ONE...TWO...THREE! Lesnar advances to the Royal Rumble match tonight!

 

My Opinion: Slightly better than their match at Survivor Series, which is probably because Lesnar was at 100% tonight. I don’t think anyone truly expected Show to win the match, but I’ll admit that my heart skipped a beat when Brock was chokeslammed. Brock avenges his one and only pinfall loss in WWE and will now go on to the Rumble match. *1/4.

 

We go to the back as Terri Runnels is talking with Y2J, Chris Jericho. He’s wearing a new shirt that reads: “Don’t be an ASS clown”. Seriously....who’d buy that and wear it in public? It wouldn’t be allowed in high schools, I’ll tell you that. Jericho talks about how he wanted to be the number one entrant, but HBK is favored by Vince McMahon. I’m sure Bret Hart agrees with him. However, HBK will never be the first Undisputed Champion, says Jericho, as this is his first step to winning the World Title at Wrestlemania.

 

The Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm and William Regal for the World Tag Team Titles

Are Storm & Regal nothing more than transitional champions?

 

Match Background: These two teams first began their issues at Armageddon, when Storm and Regal eliminated The Dudley Boyz from the 4-Team Elimination match. The next week on Raw, Storm and Regal again defeated The Duds with the help of some brass knuckles, giving Storm and Regal eight straight wins on Raw. Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler kept stressing how good they had been as of late when they got into a confrontation with Raw GM Eric Bischoff. They were in Oklahoma and Bischoff showed footage of Jim Ross being humiliated roughly one year ago. Caught by one of Bischoff’s “F-View” cameras making disparaging remarks, Bischoff then forced them to face Regal and Storm in the ring or face termination. They did so, with Lawler doing most of the work in the ring, but The Dudley’s then came running down and delivered the 3D to Storm & Regal, allowing JR & The King to win. The following week, Storm and Regal won the World Tag Titles from Booker T & Goldust with help from Chief Morely. Also, in the beginning of the show, Bischoff had The Dudley’s demolished by a bunch of his goons, only for Storm and Regal to take the scraps. Last week on Raw, The Dudley’s charged at Eric Bischoff backstage, only for Chief Morely to sacrifice himself for the Raw GM. Bischoff then suspended both men, but the returning Vince McMahon reinstated them and made the title match for tonight.

 

The Match: As Lance and Regal come to the ring, Lance seemingly has to talk Regal down from charging at Lawler and Ross, located near the ramp. Lawlers goads Regal with the chain that he used on him this past Raw. Way to make your champs look strong, being distracted by announcers. At ringside, ref Nick Patrick searches both Storm and Regal, but they’re clean. Check the turnbuckles...Regal’s hidden the knucks in their before. Ross and Lawler plug Raw tomorrow night at the Dunkin Donuts Center as I reflect at how sad the names of arenas are becoming. It reminds me of the movie BASEketball, where one of the arenas was named after Maxi Tampons. You got Verizon Wireless Arena, HSBC Arena, there was Enron Field...I’m surprised Madison Square Garden isn’t called Cablevision Stadium yet. Anyway, Bubba and Storm lock up with Bubba getting the advantage from the get go with shoulder tackles and hip tosses. Bubba gets some punches in before taking Lance down and putting on a COOL Standing Figure Four with Anklelock. Never actually seen that before....if it has a technical term for it, please let me know at [email protected] Regal runs in and breaks the hold before D’Von is tagged in. Lance gets a jawbreaker and tags out to Regal, but D’Von pretty much takes him to school for a bit. D’Von charges at Regal, but Regal ducks and he and Storm double clothesline D’Von down to take over again. Regal with an overhead suplex for two before tagging out to Storm who gets D’Von with a drop toe hold for Regal. Quick tags, I hear, are a good thing. Regal uses some knee strikes for a bit and then monkey flips him before tagging back to Storm. Storm puts on a neck vice as he pins D’Von’s leg down. My best friend mentioned to me tonight that Storm and Regal always put on unique restholds. That’s looking for the bright side in their blandness to me. The crowd tries to get behind D’Von as Lance puts him in a sleeper. D’Von makes the lukewarm tag to Bubba who cleans house for a little bit, but he doesn’t qualify as a HOUSE EN FUEGO~! to me. Sideslam by Bubba for two on Regal, followed by a release German suplex on Storm for two! Flip Flop & Fry for Regal takes him down and Bubba follows up on Storm with a Bubba Bomb. Regal breaks up the count, but falls victim to the DREADED blind tag and then the Whassup Head BUTT. Bubba and D’von double flapjack Storm for two and set up for the 3D. Chief Morely runs down to the ring and distracts the ref as Regal puts the brass knuckles on. The cameraman missed where he got it from, but it seems like they were hidden in one of the turnbuckles...LIKE I SAID. Doesn’t matter though, as Regal eats a 3D from the Duds. Bubba knocks Morely off of the apron as D’Von uses the fallen knucks on Storm for the pinfall and the title win! The Dudley Boyz are your NEW World Tag Team Champions.

 

My Opinion: I’m actually surprised that no tables were used at all. Sadly, we’ve seen The Dudley’s as champs billions of times and Regal and Storm are just so bland to me that I really didn’t care about this match. While I’d like Booker T and Goldust to move on to bigger and better things, I doubt that they will so I would have just kept the titles on them for a few months instead of this transitional reign. It didn’t help that the former World Tag Champs were too busy thinking about the Raw Announce Team, making them look pretty damn weak in the process. The World Tag Titles, despite having more credible tag teams on Raw, pale to the WWE Tag Titles on Smackdown. *1/2.

 

We get another COOL Nathan Jones promo as they show some Australian media footage, dubbing him the “Colossus of Boggo Road Prison” and talking about his escape from a Tazmanian prison. Looks like he’ll be getting a MONSTER push as I’m sure that the media footage they used was probably made by WWE, unless there really IS a guy like Nathan Jones’ character out there. Hopefully we’ll get a new Sean O’Haire promo as well.

 

Next month, No Way Out will come from the Bell Center in Montreal. I don’t think WWE has had a PPV there since....well, you know.

 

Video package for:

 

Dawn Marie vs. Torrie Wilson

 

THE ANGLE THAT WON’T DIE!

 

Match Background: It seriously pains me to have to write about this, so I’ll go with the quick version. As seemingly the only two WWE Divas on Smackdown, Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie faced each other in tons of horrible matches, including one at No Mercy, which Torrie won. On Smackdown shortly after, her father, Al Wilson came to visit her. He kept showing up, which she found odd...but she soon realized that it was because he was secretly seeing Dawn Marie. After WEEKS of HORRIBLE HORRIBLE acting, it lead to an lesbian angle between Dawn and Torrie. Dawn asked Torrie to meet her in a hotel room and if she complied, she’d break off her wedding to Al. The footage was shown at Armageddon...but Al, being the CHARASMATIC SUPERSTAR~! that he is, put his foot down and they stopped the tape. Even after all of that...Al still wanted to marry Dawn, which hurt Torrie. After WEEKS of all the build up...waiting for SOMETHING, ANYTHING...Dawn Marie got married to Al Wilson on Smackdown. However, just to make things even worse, they did it in their underwear. They promised footage of their honeymoon the next week. The footage consisted of Al tired from many sweaty rounds from Dawn...who kept wanting more. By the end....he succumbed to old age and DIED. (Note: He’s not REALLY dead) Somehow, this gets even worse. Dawn Marie showed the world his public viewing on Smackdown, grieving for her late “husband” in a low cut dress. Torrie showed up and they got into a confrontation that ended in Dawn Marie shattering a lamp over the back...and the most delayed sell EVER. Tonight BETTER be the blow off, dammit, because aside from Kane/HHH, this has been the worst angle of the year.

 

The Match: Dawn Marie comes out to COMPLETE SILENCE, wearing a black viel on her head....while she has her wrestling tights on. Torrie’s out next and she looks like she’s wearing tights similar to TNA’s EZ Money, but with a top. Tony Chimel actually announces Dawn as “Dawn Marie Wilson”. Now, I may be wrong...but now that Al is technically dead according to this storyline, is Dawn Marie still her Stepmother? Funny moment as some teenager just starts going ballistic, making squeezing motions with his hands as Torrie walks past him. Once in the ring, the ref asks if she’s doing alright, but before she can say, Dawn attacks her from behind. Dawn smacks her as she says she’ll give her “something to cry about”. Torrie takes her down, but gets shoved off. Torrie charges at Dawn in the corner, catching her boot, but instead of a Dawn Marie enziguiri (who expected one, really), Torrie takes her down again and catapults her. Dawn just lands face first on the canvas though, not the turnbuckle or ring post or anything good. Torrie sets Dawn up for a German Suplex (!), but Dawn holds onto the ropes, goes behind her with a waistlock and puts on a Fujiwara armbar! I’d love to give Dawn credit, but sadly, the look on Torrie’s face isn’t one of pain....she’s just not selling this the way a normal person in a Fujiwara armbar would! Dawn tries to employ some psychology, working over the arm for a brief moment and even putting on a short arm scissors. Torrie can’t be bothered to really sell it either. Dawn flapjacks Torrie and whips her into the corner. Torrie stops and Dawn charges...and they somehow blow SOME spot. Both girls land on their asses as the crowd just doesn’t care enough to give them shit for it. Torrie gets a backslide for two, followed by some UGLY armdrags. Ricky Steamboat she is not. Dawn comes off the 2nd rope with a clothesline for two. Torrie’s comes off the ropes, kicks Dawn and hits her DREADED swinging neckbreaker for a three count that NO ONE cares about. Mercifully, this match is over. Funny, Torrie actually sells the arm after the match...To my dismay, Dawn Marie shouts “this isn’t over, Torrie!” multiple times on her way out...because she wants to punish me some more.

 

My Opinion: While I was easy on the TNA ladies this past week, I can’t do that here. These girls are on a large scale pay per view, blowing moves that the Tough Enough kids learn a month into their training. If it wasn’t for Dawn Marie ATTEMPTING some psychology in this match and that nice Fujiwara armbar that Torrie just didn’t sell, the match would have been even worse. WWE, here is your front runner for Worst Match of the Year. WWE...PLEASE KILL THIS ANGLE. -*1/4.

 

We go to the back as Stephanie McMahon runs into Eric Bischoff talking to Randy Orton. Randy skiddadles and the two WWE GM’s talk. Stephanie is VERY happy with Bischoff’s time running out as Raw’s GM...but wants to know what trick Bischoff has up his sleeve. If I were a betting man...I’ll have to say that Bischoff, storyline wise, will use his connection with Bill Goldberg to bring him into WWE. Eric claims that he doesn’t have a “bombshell”....he has an “atomic bombshell”. Stephanie has one of her own which she will drop this Thursday as well. Eric asks why she feels she has job security....and of course, she answers with “I’m a McMahon”. Eric says that money is thicker than blood. Yep....it’s GOT to be Goldberg then.

 

We get another AWESOME NEW Sean O’Haire promo on the ills of religion. Looks like he’s some sort of motivational speaker of sorts. He says “Hey, I’m not telling you anything that you don’t already know” in this promo as well, so that could be his catchprase of sorts. I don’t know where this is going, but it is VERY interesting. Who knew that O’Haire could talk? Hopefully he can back that up on a live mic.

 

We get a video package for this match:

 

Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Scott Steiner for the World Heavyweight Championship

 

THE JUICE IS LOOSE~!

 

Match Background: The build up for this match began a little under a month ago as Eric Bischoff and Chief Morley double booked their Raw main event. Bischoff promised Triple H that he would have “Triple H Appreciation Night” after winning the World Heavyweight title at Armageddon, while Steiner was promised the main event slot to sign his new Raw contract. Morley tried to reschedule Steiner’s time, but he interrupted Triple H’s moment instead to sign the contract, which granted him a World Title shot upon his arrival. Bischoff, desperate to ensure Steiner would sign with Raw, named the World Title match between the two men for tonight. Since then, this has looked less than a feud and more like a bad bodybuilding competition.

 

First, Steiner faced Triple H in an Arm Wrestling match, which he won decisively. The following week, they squared off in a Mr. Olympia-like Posedown Challenge, with Triple H won after hand picking the judges ahead of time. (Note: I felt HHH really did deserve to win that one.) The judges then attacked Steiner when he challenged Triple H to a push up contest, allowing the Champ to run away. This past week on Raw, yet ANOTHER silly competition was scheduled to take place..a Bench Press competition. However, HHH refused to partake in this as he claimed that he was just trying to take Steiner out of his element. The two finally locked horns briefly in the ring with Steiner stripping HHH down to his Speedo underwear in a sight that I definitely didn’t need to see. The match...is tonight.

 

The Match: HHH finally wears a new color for the first time in years as he’s got on Red tights tonight. Steiner (who gets a BIG pop tonight) has long tights on tonight, probably to accentuate his upper body in the ring. JR tells us that Steiner hasn’t been at a Rumble even in 9 years....which surprises me because I honestly figured they’d never talk about his first stint in the fed. For some reason, Earl Hebner gives both men ring instructions tonight...like it’s an IronMan Match or something. Now that I’m having some bad thoughts about that, let’s just get to the damn match. Actually, it was more like “I’m the law, listen to me”, but you get the idea. It starts off as a slugfest in the ring, with Steiner getting the advantage with a few HARD chops in the corner. Steiner Press Slams HHH in the ring and Triple H bails. Steiner follows and clotheslines him down. He hits HHH with some right hands and then shoves him (lightly) into the ring post twice. JR mentions the Steiner Recliner as Steiner suplexes HHH into the ring. Steiner gets some forearm shots to the back, obviously setting up the Recliner (modified Camel Clutch). Steiner then puts on a Boston Crab to work on the back some more. HHH comes off the ropes with a face buster, but Steiner no sells it and puts on the most boring rest hold EVER....the bear hug. Thankfully, HHH gets out quickly, only to get an overhead belly to belly suplex for two. Steiner sets him up for the Recliner, but Flair pulls the champ to the outside. Steiner chops HHH in the corner, whips him into another corner, but EATS BOOT! HHH finally gets the advantage and takes him the outside where he whips him into the guardrail. Back in the ring now, HHH gets a neckbreaker for two. While the ref backs HHH off after some chokes, Flair chokes Steiner with his sports coat. HHH avoids a Steiner clothesline and gets another neckbreaker for two. Flair starts choking Steiner on the ropes again as HHH distracts the ref. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Steiner catapults him into the corner. Overhead belly to belly by Steiner...and both guys look WINDED. Steiner sets him up for what looks to be a Tombstone...reversed by HHH and then into a neckbreaker. That move was REALLY botches as it looked like HHH was going for a Diamond Cutter, but at the last second, Steiner fell onto the his back. HHH with a vertical suplex as these guys are seeminly moving in slow-mo. Flair riles the crowd up, just by being himself, before HHH comes off the 2nd rope and lands in the arms of an awaiting Steiner..who gives him ANOTHER overhead belly to belly. Jesus man, find another move. Both men slow to their feet now, but Steiner comes back with a few clotheslines. Back body drop by Steiner.....followed by THREE MORE overhead belly to belly’s. Spinning belly to belly suplex by Steiner also gets a two count. The crowd then completely turns on them as Steiner completely blows his butterfly suplex, falling right on his ass. HHH heads to the top for some reason, but gets caught. Superplex by Steiner gets two. HHH bails and starts trying to leave with Flair to the back. Steiner clotheslines them both from behind. The ref tries to restrain Flair, allowing HHH to try and hit Steiner with a cheap shot, but Steiner rams the title back into HIS face, busting HHH open. The spot didn’t look too good either. ANOTHER overhead belly to belly....as the crowd sounds like they’re booing. HHH bails again, trying to get counted out, but Steiner follows and throws him back into the ring. Steiner tries ramming HHH into the announce table, but only HHH’s arms hit. JR actually sells it in his commentary though. Steiner then comes into the ring and starts doing push ups to taunt HHH. He should really conserve that wind for the rest of the match. Flair tells the ref to stop the match on account of HHH’s blood loss, even though it wasn’t much. HHH then intentionally throws Hebner out of the ring. Hebner gets booed BIG TIME as he’s about to signal for the DQ, but opts not to. He yells at Hunter to stop trying to get himself DQ’ed and WRESTLE. HHH tries to punch Hebner, but Steiner stops him and....YOU GUESS IT.....Belly to Belly suplex for two. Flair distracts the ref long enough for HHH to low blow Steiner and he rolls him up for a CLOSE TWO! I actually bought that as a finish. HHH bails and gets his trusted sledgehammer from under the ring. He purposely shoves Hebner away and uses it on Steiner for the DQ. He tries to use it again on Steiner from behind, ala HBK @ SummerSlam, but Hebner stops him. Steiner stops the 2nd attempt and uses it on both Flair and HHH. Flair sells it like he’s SHOT and better than anyone in the match did. He puts HHH in the Steiner Recliner until tons of ref’s come out...and Eric Bischoff. Bischoff pleads with Steiner to get off of HHH and he finally does.

 

My Opinion: I can understand why they went with a DQ ending, but the fans really hated the finish (as well as the match)and rightfully so. Most likely, they’ll be a NO DQ rematch at the No Way Out PPV, but I’m dreading the build up on Raw, seeing as how this match’s build up was terrible. Steiner looked better than I thought he would, but he just kept doing the SAME DAMN THINGS over and over again. Both men were slow, plodding and winded after a while and this was just a sad, sad match. Bischoff asking Steiner to get off of HHH was a nice little touch. Also, seeing as how WWE never showed footage of the Steiner Recliner, they just expected enough of their fans to have seen him in WCW. They really should have built the move up a lot better because the crowd just didn’t care....and not just because they probably didn’t know what the move was. *3/4.

 

A Video package is then shown for:

 

Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit for the WWE Title

 

It’s about time these two are in the title picture!

 

Match Background: These two men have faced each other numerous times in WWE. The first of their encounters being at Wrestlemania 17 in a great match that is always seemingly overlooked. They then faced each other in an Ultimate Submission Match and a 2 out of the 3 falls match at the following Backlash and Judgment Day PPV’s of that year. Benoit and Angle had a GREAT ****1/2 match at this year’s No Mercy PPV, won by Benoit, after having issues of respect. They then joined forces reluctantly at the request of Smackdown GM Stephanie McMahon and won the new WWE Tag Team Titles in the 2002 WWE Match of the Year against Edge and Rey Misterio. The animosity still remained, however, and they faced each other on Smackdown with Benoit winning again. After they lost the Tag Titles, they seemed to go their separate ways. A few weeks ago on Smackdown, Chris Benoit defeated The Big Show to become the number one contender for the WWE Title at the Royal Rumble. Angle’s agent, Paul Heyman, gave him a new stable named Team Angle, comprised of star amateur athletes like Angle...Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin. Team Angle then jumped Benoit, allowing Angle to choke him with one of the crutches he’s been using since sustaining a knee injury at the hands of Brock Lesnar. Benoit has faced Team Angle in singles matches as well as in tag matches with Edge, with Angle always interrupting a Benoit victory. This past week on Smackdown, in a handicap match and Angle’s first match back since the injury, Benoit and Edge were disqualified after Benoit put on his hold, the Crippler Crossface, onto Angle and refused to let go...despite Angle not being the legal man. Benoit, having defeated Angle twice in the past, now has the momentum in his favor...but Angle has Team Angle in his corner. Can Chris Benoit win the WWE title for the first time?

 

The Match: Team Angle come out together to MASSIVE “You Suck” chants. Benoit gets a nice sized pop on the way to the ring. He enters the ring and just MARCHES at Angle, but is intercepted by Haas and Benjamin, who hold him back. A few refs come to the ring and eject Team Angle from ringside, hoping to ensure a great one on one match between these two. They lock up with Benoit getting the quick advantage with a shoulder block and goes for a Sharpshooter, but Angle freaks and bails. They lock up again and Angle goes for a hiptoss, but Benoit dropkicks out of it. Angle BUMPS OFF A PUNCH~! and then gets a sleeper, which Benoit rolls out of. Benoit gets a Dragon Screw legwhip and goes for the Sharpshooter again, but Angle blocks it. Benoit drops down, turning it into a leg lace and Angle gets to the ropes. Angle tosses Benoit shoulder into the ring post and beats him down with forearms. Vertical suplex by Angle gets a two count. Nice chops in the corner by Angle, but Benoit CHOPS back! Benoit clotheslines Angle in the back of the head and knees him in the midsection as Angle comes off of the ropes. More chops in the corner by Benoit as he PUNISHES Angle’s chest. Angle recovers and hangs Benoit on the ropes with a suplex. Benoit comes back and DDT’s Angle ON THE APRON! Angle’s nose is bleeding! Back in the ring, Angle kicks out..and Benoit heads up to the top. He goes for the Headbutt, but Angle moves at the last second. Angle goes for the Angle Slam, but Benoit rolls through and puts on the Sharpshooter! Tazz and Cole talk about Bret Hart and the Dungeon as Angle makes it to the ropes. Textbook back suplex by Benoit for two. Angle whips Benoit to the ropes and just TOSSES HIM over his head! Angle throws him to the outside to try and buy some time for himself. A few seconds later, he heads to the outside and drops Benoit across the barricade throat first. HARD clothesline back in the ring gets two for Angle as well. Angle puts Benoit in a rear chin lock with body scissors for a bit as Tazz explains the psychology of the move. Benoit fights out of it, but Angle keeps fighting for positioning. Benoit gets back to his feet and armdrags out of it, only to fall victim to an Angle belly to belly. Textbook back suplex by Angle before he goes back to the rear chinlock with body scissors. Benoit fights out of it and they clothesline each other down HARD! Both men are down! The crowd is DEFINITELY into this as they’re counting to 10 with the ref. Of course, both men get up with Benoit getting the advantage. A few hard clotheslines from Benoit, a flapjack and then two German suplexes! He goes for a third, but Angle switches and hits one of his own! Benoit switches again and hits another one! Benoit signals for the Headbutt and shoots a LONG Snot Rocket at Angle as he heads up top. Angle pops up and belly to belly’s him off the top! This from a man that is JUST coming back from knee surgery!!! Angle Slam attempt by Angle is countered into the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE~! Angle gets to the ropes though.....and Benoit puts on the Ankle Lock! Angle rolls through and puts on HIS ANKLELOCK~! Benoit counters THAT into the CROSSFACE~! Angle rolls through and gets a two count on Benoit! Angle charges....Benoit counters it into another CROSSFACE~! Angle rolls through....and ANGLE SLAMS OUT OF IT! ONE...TWO...NO!!! The straps are down baby! ANKLELOCK~! by Angle! Benoit rolls though and Angle hits his head on the second turnbuckle! Benoit with a German Suplex attempt, but Angle elbows out of it and goes for one of his own. THAT is blocked and Benoit gets a roll up for ONE....TWO.....NO!!! Benoit with a German Suplex! Angle counters and gets one of his own. Benoit switches...SUPER GERMAN SUPLEX~! Angle was suplexed so hard, he landed on his stomach! “Benoit” chant by the crowd! Benoit goes for the Headbutt....but Angle might be too far! NO! Benoit flew ¾’s of the way across the ring! Benoit’s slow to cover....ONE...TWO...NO!!!! Benoit with another Crossface Attempt! Angle blocks that and hits a stun gun onto the turnbuckles! ANGLE SLAM~! ONE.....TWO...NO! “Lets go Benoit” chant by the crowd! Benoit puts on the CROSSFACE~!!! The crowd is FEELING Angle Tap! Angle counters and puts on the ANKLE LOCK~! Benoit tries to roll through, but Angle still has it on! Benoit kicks him off! Angle comes RIGHT back and puts it back on! Benoit tries to counter with a Crossface, but Angle moves out of the way! He still has it on! Benoit isn’t Tapping! He looks to go to the ropes.....but Angle sits down and grapevines the leg! Benoit is SCREAMING! He has no choice....HE TAPS OUT!! Angle has retained the WWE Title!

 

Team Angle runs into the ring to help celebrate the victory for Angle. After a brief commercial....the camera pans back to Chris Benoit, who’s just starting to get to his feet. The crowd is STANDING, the entire arena, clapping for him! STANDING OVATION FOR CHRIS BENOIT! He limps out...a bigger star than when he walked in.

 

My Opinion: Seriously one of the best matches I’ve EVER seen. THIS is how you book a man to lose and STILL gain the respect of the crowd. I was getting the feeling that WWE forgot how to do that. There is NOTHING wrong with tapping out and the fans at the Fleet Center realized that and appreciated the match for what it was. This was the BEST Angle/Benoit one on one match so far and I believe this is the only match that had a 100% clean decision. This match not only put over Angle stronger than he’s EVER been put over in any of his previous title reigns, but this match quite possibly could have made Chris Benoit a superstar if WWE can market it correctly. Although I had a strong feeling that Angle was going to retain, this match sucked me in and didn’t let me out until Benoit walked to the back. He DESERVED that Standing O as I even stood up in front of my television. I bought every near fall, every falsh finish and the CROWD WAS INTO IT. I still can’t believe that Angle just came off of knee surgery. WWE should learn two things from this match...1. Two GREAT workers wrestling over the most important title in the company is what will suck in and keep your audience as well as build up your titles. 2. There’s nothing wrong with a clean heel finish, if done well and sometimes, the loser can benefit as well. Even if the actual Rumble match is one of the worst ever, this match is a keeper and you should ALL run and buy the DVD when it comes out. Yes, there were two quick restholds, but I have NO problem giving this match ***** and it is the front runner already for WWE Match of the Year, 2003. The only thing coming close to this is a rematch.

 

We go to the back as RVD talks with Kane about the Rumble tonight. Of course...it’s every man for himself. Kane talks about Rumble ’01 and how he was in the final two and he’ll do anything to win...including eliminating RVD. RVD understands.

 

The Royal Rumble Match:

 

The Road to Wrestlemania begins....

 

Match Background: The 30-man Royal Rumble match is a staple in WWF/E. Traditionally, the winner of this match receives a title shot at the upcoming Wrestlemania. With the brand extension this year, the rules are slightly different. The winner of the Royal Rumble match will receive a title shot at their respective brand’s championship at Wrestlemania. So, A Smackdown guy, should he win, will receive a WWE Title shot while a Raw competitor would win a shot at the World Title.

 

In Royal Rumble ’95, with only 60-second intervals, Shawn Michaels won the match despite being the man drew number one. Chris Jericho has had issues with Michaels as of late and Michaels told him that in order to be seen as the best in the eyes of his peers and the fans...he’ll have to do the same....first to come in AND win. Jericho then asked Eric Bischoff to be number one....but was turned down. He then asked Vince McMahon, but Shawn Michaels had already taken the number. With that, Jericho then won an Over The Top Rope Challenge on Raw to choose his entry number....and chose number 2, to come in with Michaels at the start of the match. Despite all of this, Brock Lesnar is the odds on favorite to defeat The Big Show and then win the Rumble match to get a title shot at Kurt Angle at Wrestlemania 19.

 

The Match: Howard Finkle introduces the rules of the match...and it seems that despite all of the rumors, the Rumble WILL have 2-minute intervals instead of the 1-minute intervals they had at Rumble ’95 where HBK went from 1st to the end. That will definitely ensure a better match. HBK comes to the ring first, where his pyro goes off and all that. Jericho’s music and pyro then hits, but it’s CHRISTIAN actually wearing Jericho’s outfit! Jericho sneaks into the ring and attacks HBK from behind with a low blow. Flying forearm by Jericho, which he follows up with some right hands. Jericho leaves the ring (through the middle rope of course) to get a chair, which he promptly uses to bash over HBK’s head. HBK is busted open one minute into the Rumble! The next man in....Christopher Nowinski who gets a hometome pop! He runs down to ringside....but decides to let Jericho deal with HBK himself and doesn’t get into the ring. Jericho picks up HBK....and THROWS HIM OVER THE TOP! That was 100% clean! HBK is the first man out! The next man in is Rey Mysterio, who runs into the ring immediately and hits a springboard dropkick and ‘rana on Jericho. These two haven’t hooked up since their days in WCW. Nowinksi STILL isn’t in the ring yet as Jericho and Rey mix it up. Jericho throws Rey onto the top turnbuckle and knocks him down....but Rey holds onto the ring post! Jericho thinks he’s been eliminated and turns his back, allowing Rey to springboard dropkick him from behind! Nowinski finally runs in as he attacks Mysterio. Edge then runs down to the ring to help his tag partner, Rey, double clotheslining both Jericho and Nowinski and spearing them as well. Edge throws Jericho through the ropes before Edge and Rey mix it up a bit. Edge misses a spear, allowing Rey to attempt the 619, but Edge ducks that. Edge places Rey on the ropes and tries to shove him off, but Rey holds onto Edge and BOTH men almost spill out. It was SO close that one of Edge’s feet touched the floor! Two referees on the scene confirm that. Rey tries to springboard rana back in, but Edge catches him with a sit out powerbomb. Christian is then the next man in...and he immediately goes to Edge and starts hugging him, in a funny moment. Edge looks at him like he’s crazy, as Christian asks him to team up against Rey. Rey scurries under Christian’s legs and Edge spears his former tag partner and “brother”. Rey gets on Edge’s shoulders, but Nowinski runs back in and throws them both over! He turns around, ecstatic, believing that he eliminated two people, but Edge and Rey hang on....and perch themselves on opposite turnbuckles. Nowinski turns around as Edge and Rey try stereo missile dropkicks. SCARY moment as Rey’s hits first and Edge pretty much lands on Nowinski’s FACE. A ref goes to check on him as he appears to be ok. Rey gets a Bronco Buster on Nowinski as the clock winds down. The next participant is Chavo Guerrero, with his AWESOME WCW music. He dives into the ring and goes RIGHT after Rey. The lucha begins, but Rey quickly gets a 619 on him. Edge sets up a 619 on Christian and Rey completes it. Rey gets on Nowinski’s shoulders and spins him out of the ring, eliminating him. Jericho comes back in from being on the floor and clotheslines Rey out! Tajiri is the next man in the Rumble and he becomes a HOUSE..EN..FUEGO~!, kicking everything in sight!

 

Some random brawling as the 5 men in the ring are Jericho, Chavo, Edge, Tajiri and Christian. Bill Demott comes in and goes right after pretty much everyone. DeMott throws Y2J over, but Jericho holds on for dear life and makes it back in. Tommy Dreamer is the next man in, coming to the ring with a garbage can full of weapons. “ECW” chant by the crowd as Dreamer gets a kendo stick from the can and starts nailing everyone in sight with it! He hits Jericho....who then whispers “Again” and Dreamer hits his in the FACE accidentally, opening him up hardway! Jericho screamed on that one. Edge gets a kendo stick of his own and he and Dreamer take turns beating up on DeMott until he’s thrown over the top. Christian and Jericho pick up two garbage can lids and use it to hit Dreamer in the head, conchairto style. Jericho takes a kendo stick and then NAILS Dreamer in the back as hard as he can, before throwing it down with frustration. Looks like SOMEONE’s a little pissed off. He and Christian then dump Dreamer out. Tajiri gets his handspring elbow on both Christian and Chavo at the same time. He goes to put Jericho in the Tarantula, but Chris blocks it and shoves him to the floor, eliminating him. The next man in is B2 aka Bling Bling Buchanan, STILL selling the arm from the beating he took on Smackdown. He’s dumped VERY quickly as he charges Edge and gets thrown over the top. Edge throws Chavo onto the apron and then spears him down, so Chavo is out. Edge tries to throw out Jericho.....who is literally INCHES away from elimination, ala Michaels’ in ’95, but he skins the cat to come back in. Meanwhile, Edge and Christian are dangling on the ropes and Jericho eliminates them both! He’s alone in the ring! Close up on Jericho as he’s got a HUGE bloody knot in his head!

 

Next man in...is RVD. He comes after Jericho, hitting a superkick and nailing him with kicks in the corner. Springboard kick leads to the spinning ledgrop and Rolling Thunder. RVD catches a dropkick attempt and catapults Y2J over the top....but he hangs on! Wow, he is getting REALLY close to elimination with these. The next man in is Matt Hardy, accompanied by Shannon Moore! Matt Fact of the Day: “Matt Strongly Dislikes Mustard”. If I was Shannon Moore, I’d try to block Matt’s elimination in any way I could. He runs into the ring and goes after RVD, hitting the Side Effect immediately. He makes a quick alliance with Jericho, who then doubleteam RVD. RVD fights back, but gets planted by a Jericho bulldog. Jericho misses a Lionsault (why would he try that in the Rumble) and RVD hits the 5-star Frogsplash! The next man in is Eddie Guerrero, who runs into the ring and goes after RVD, renewing that rivalry. Matt Hardy tries to involve himself, but gets knocked down by Latino Heat. RVD gets his monkey flip on him and tries to eliminate him....but Matt saves him. He tells Eddie to frogsplash RVD, which he does. Matt then turns on Eddie, giving him the Twist of Fate. Next man in is Jeff Hardy, who runs into the ring. Matt begs Jeff not to hit him, but Jeff does so anyway. He almost tosses him out....but Shannon Moore gets underneath him and pushes him back in! YEAH!! Jeff then hits the Twist of Fate on Matt and heads to the top. Shannon begs Jeff not to hurt MATTITUDE~! and lies on top of Matt to protect him. Jeff Swantons anyway, landing on the both of them. Rosey is the next man in, accompanied to the ring by Rico. Jeff backdrops Matt over the top, but can’t get him out just yet. Test is next, accompanied by Stacy Keibler, but she just kisses him and heads to the back. He goes after everyone quickly, hitting a tilt a while on Eddie Guerrero and his pumphandle slam on Matt Hardy. Jericho almost spills out, but he’s still safe. John Cena is next as he raps for a whole minute and a half. I love his raps, I really do. RVD finally throws him into the ring and in just a few seconds, another entrant comes in....Charlie Haas. The ring is getting pretty full at this point with about 10 guys in there. Jeff squares off with RVD and tries to come off the top, but RVD shoves him off for the elimination. Rikishi is next as I pray that the guys all team up and throw his fat ass out. He just throws superkicks galore on everyone before locking eyes with Rosey. I guess they must be related, like every other Samoan in wrestling. Shannon Moore then gets into the ring and Rosey rams him into Matt in the corner. Rikishi avalanches them and they both fall down, primed for a Stinkface....but Rosey clotheslines Rikishi. Jamal is next as the ring is starting to fill up with big Samoans. He goes right after Rikishi, but Rikishi gets a Stinkface on him. Hey...I just realized that Ross & King are doing the commentary and not Cole and Tazz. I wonder why.

 

Kane is the next participant in the match, going after everyone as Ross pimps the fact that he eliminated 11 men in 2001. He brings Rico into the ring with a chokeslam and then eliminates Rosey. He then double chokeslams Matt Hardy and Shannon Moore, who was trying to save him. He throws Jericho over the top....who I believe DID fall out, but was let back in for some reason...hmm. Shelton Benjamin is the next man in as he and Haas immediately hit a double team move on John Cena. Booker T is in next as he goes right after Kane, hitting his scissors kick. He goes for the Spinaroonie, but Matt Hardy interrupts him. Booker flapjacks him and THEN hits the SPINAROONIE~! Eddie Guerrero charges at him, but Booker T back body drops him over the top, eliminating him! A-Train is next as Ross has informed us that he is number 25. He hits the Baldo Bomb on John Cena and then his backbreaker on Benjamin. Rikishi kicks him down and then goes after Jericho. Suddenly, HBK comes running back in and starts going after Jericho. Hardy and Cena distract him, allowing Jericho to clothesline him down, but Test then eliminates Jericho! Come on ...TEST? All that so TEST could throw him out? HBK with a pescado over the top as the two men have to be separated by the refs in the back. Maven is out next, which prompts JR to say “he eliminated The Undertaker one year”. Of course, it was last year, his only Rumble. He goes after Kane for some reason as the ring is full of about 10 guys. Test, RVD, Kane, Maven, Team Angle, John Cena, Matt Hardy A-Train, Rikishi and Jamal. Goldust is next in and he goes right after Team Angle for some reason. He then goes after Maven in the corner and hits Shattered Dreams...and this one looked like it might have had some IMPACT. Team Angle end up cooperating and eliminating Goldust shortly after. They also end up eliminating Booker T! If those two teams were on Raw, that would be a great rivalry. Hmm...maybe that’s the bombshell that Bischoff was talking about. Batista is then the next man in. He squares off with Test, who gives him a full nelson slam. Batista gets crotched on the ropes and Test charges for the BIG ABOOT~!, but Batista ducks and Test is eliminated. Batista then eliminates Rikishi as Brock comes out at number 29. No Happy Dance for us now. He comes in and goes RIGHT after Team Angle. They take over momentarily, but he ends up throwing them both out at the same time! He then F5’s Matt Hardy out of the ring onto Team Angle! The next and last entrant is of course, The Undertaker who comes out to a HUGE POP. He’s still the Bad Ass Undertaker, as he rode his bike to the ring and wore the same outfit he was wearing before he left. He hits right hands on everyone and then eliminates John Cena....that bastard. He then eliminates Jamal. HILAROUS moment as Maven dropkicks him from behind and begins celebrating JUST like last year. One thing is different though, as UT is still in the thing and Maven gets chokeslammed and then thrown out. A-Train comes from behind and hits the A-Train Bomb (Baldo Bomb) on the Undertaker. Kane chokeslams Brock Lesnar as there are only 6 men left in the match. RVD and Kane team up to eliminate A-Train.....and then Kane tells him that he’ll press slam him onto Batista. RVD agrees, but Kane then tosses him out. Every year, there is always one guy who press slams someone.....but never throws him out, so I’m happy to see that spot. RVD looks confused about it, but Kane is all like “hey, I warned you before”. Batista jumps him from behind and end up knocking themselves down. Undertaker and Brock stare at each other, ready to duke it out, but Kane and Batista end up separating the two. Brock ends up hitting an F5 on Kane and coming face to face with UT again. They begin brawling with each other with neither men getting an advantage. Brock goes for an F5 on the Undertaker....but its reversed into the TOMBSTONE~! Undertaker ends up eliminating Batista and then makes a union with Kane to take out Brock. However, UT then turns on Kane and throws him out. The two men left in the ring are Brock Lesnar and The Undertaker. Brock is still down from the Tombstone though as Batista runs into the ring with a chair. UT blocks that shot and nails Batista with it, giving Brock the moment he needed to eliminate the Undertaker! Brock Lesnar is the winner of the Royal Rumble. The Undertaker comes back in to give him some respect as the show comes to a close.

 

My Opinion: I thought this Rumble was great. There weren’t too many slow periods and there were a few funny moments such as Matt Hardy battling Jeff, Shannon Moore using his body to keep Matt in the match, Maven trying to eliminate the Undertaker for the second year in a row, and Christian trying to make up with Edge. Jericho eliminating HBK in the first few minutes of the match was definitely a shock. The end of the Rumble seemed to be too predictable as there weren’t any real contenders to win the match except for Brock. Had Jericho been in the final 4, it definitely would have had a little more suspense. I don’t exactly know how to rate Rumbles, so I won’t bother. Definitely a good one and possibly one of the better ones in recent years.

 

Overall: While the first half of the show wasn’t great at all, the second half with Angle/Benoit & The Rumble just blew me away. Try and get a copy of this just for Angle/Benoit. The Rumble event itself was too predictable. Show/Brock was exactly what it needed to be, Duds vs. Regal and Storm didn’t do anything for me and the Dawn Marie/Torrie angle MUST DIE DAMMIT.

 

Well, it’s been great. Hopefully, I’ll be feeling better soon. Hope you enjoyed it. I’ll be back on Wednesday for TNA.

 

‘Til Next Time,

 

The Dames, Damian Gonzalez

 

Any questions, comments, hate mail, fan mail....ANYTHING...send it all to [email protected]

 

If you’d like to read any of my other work, it’s located in the Archives, in the header link.

 

(Don't forget to check out the other Smart Marks' reactions to the Royal Rumble in The Crossface.)

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