April 27, 2003
I’ve stated several times that I’d given up on the WWE in 2003, and the more of these shows I see, the more I feel like I made the right choice. The first PPV after WrestleMania is almost a total throwaway show.
Los Guerreros . . . do what they do best (besides Lie, Cheat and Steal), put on quality wrestling.
Roddy Piper . . . pays the piper himself, for that famous Coconut shot all those moons ago.
John Cena . . . isn’t much different than he is today, save for the camouflage attire.
EDDIE GUERRERO/CHAVO GUERRERO vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN/CHARLIE HAAS © (WWE Tag Team Titles)
There are things to like about this match for sure, but it’s mostly La demostración del Los Guerreros and while that makes for a rather fun viewing experience, it says precious little for the credibility of the champions, which is something they can ill afford with their tainted win at WrestleMania. Neither Haas nor Benjamin is able to show anything outstanding, save for each of them getting a chance to cut off Eddie’s hot tag attempt, their signature Broken Arrow, and Shelton’s Exploder. The rest of their offense is time spent working meaningless holds, and the usual punch and kick stuff that is prevalent in the WWE.
While the champions were lacking in a memorable performance, Los Guerreros delivers in spades. Eddie and Chavo’s early cheating (for no other reason than to show they could, and get away with it) is spot on, complete with great reactions from Haas and Benjamin. Eddie’s execution was as good as it’s ever been, with both his Frog splash, and senton looking great as always. And when it was time for Team Angle to take over the match Eddie went above and beyond to put on a good sell job, Chavo wasn’t bad at all, but he didn’t get much of a chance beyond Shelton’s powerbomb, which, tho his credit, he sold the effects of for the rest of the match. The finish leaves something to be desired though. The finish itself, with Shelton tripping Chavo and holding the leg, works fine, but the setup doesn’t quite gel with where they were going. It’d have been more effective had it come on the heels of the ref putting Eddie out. In effect making it seem like Eddie cost them the match by trying to make sure they’d win. The only thing this really needed was a better performance from Team Angle, and as this is, it’s still a nice look at the quality wrestling that this pairing could produce.
SEAN O’HAIRE vs. RIKISHI
After nineteen years Piper gets his comeuppance for hitting Snuka with the Coconut! And that’s the only thing here worth seeing, just for the goofy way that Piper sells it. Beyond that . . . there’s nothing. O’Haire and Rikishi both kick a lot, and O’Haire uses a neck twister a few times, and they do a double KO spot with simultaneous kicks connecting. The crowd’s booing more than tells the story. What really takes the cake though is that Rikishi starts off being able to fend off both Piper and O’Haire, but stops and stares at Piper, Piper didn’t do anything, Rikishi just stopped and started to stare at him, and that’s how O’Haire takes over. The inverted DVD that O’Haire uses for the win looks impressive on Rikishi, but it’s not like seeing him Rikishi picked up is anything groundbreaking.
KANE/ROB VAN DAM © vs. BUBBA RAY DUDLEY/D-VON DUDELY (World Tag Team Titles)
This has some fun and amusing bits here and there, but the match itself is pretty much a washout, as the first twelve or so minutes are just filler for the angle and payoff that the last one minute provides. RVD is featured in almost all of the fun bits as well, such as his back flip and corner kick on Bubba, the spin kick and legdrop to D-Von, and Bubba stealing his pose (and replacing the ‘Rob Van Dam’ with ‘Bubba Ray Dudley.’ But again, it’s hard to care one way or another when it’s all just killing time until Chief Morely (the special ref who’d been blatantly favoring the Dudleys) gets sick of Kane dominating the match and attacks him, leading him to accidentally hit Bubba and get the 3D. RVD and Kane win when RVD hits the Five Star on Bubba after Kane’s chokeslam, but it still really doesn’t matter, because the point is that the Dudleys didn’t join Bischoff. Way to make those tag titles seem important, no?
TRISH STRATUS © vs. JAZZ (WWE Women’s Title)
Lawler seemed to think Trish had the advantage of having “Puppy Power” on her side, but I didn’t see any indication that Scrappy Doo was present. And with as much experience that Trish and Jazz have working together, they should be capable of a lot better than this. Jazz had supposedly injured Trish’s ribs on RAW before this, but you’d never know it without seeing the video clip of it. Trish’s selling is more or less minute. She’ll do a passable job putting them over when Jazz does something like a backbreaker, or Boston crab, but that’s really it, and Trish forgets all about them when she goes on offense, she doesn’t even feign difficulty in doing the Stratusfaction, and when Jazz blocks the rana for the crab hold, it’s because she held the ropes, and not because Trish was in too much pain to do it as fluidly as usual.
What’s even worse than such a poor performance from Trish is the way that Jazz, the new Women’s Champion, looks. She’s always been the tough ass kicker, but she’s basically reduced to being Trish’s punching bag, and needing to take shortcuts and rely on Teddy Long to interfere on her behalf. With Trish having an injury to exploit, Jazz ought to be putting on a clinic of brutality and trying to put Trish on the shelf permanently. She’s got two perfectly good finishers that would aggravate Trish’s injury: the STF and the Bitch drop, and she does the Bitch drop for a heatless near fall, and Trish reverses the STF on her, leaving her to get the win by countering a sunset flip and holding the ropes.
REY MYSTERIO vs. THE BIG SHOW
There really isn’t anything here that wasn’t seen in the tag match on Smackdown! The offense is mostly kept simple, and Show does a good job of putting over Rey’s offense to the right degree. Show makes it clear that it’s having an effect on him, but not to the point that Show looks like the world’s tallest Curt Hennig. Show also keeps his offense relatively simple, so as not to appear that Rey is cheating death (at least not until the head bump he took after the match). The finish boils down to the same thing that every match between Spike and “Big” Dick Dudley, or really, any match with an obvious ‘David vs. Goliath’ theme to it came down to. Rey takes the ultimate risk and goes for the West Coast Pop (or Spike goes for the Acid Drop) only to find that Show is still too strong to be taken down by it, one chokeslam later and the match is over. And just in case it seemed like a good idea to praise Show for playing his role so well here, he goes and botches the big stretcher spot after the match, just to remind everyone that’s he’s a Big Nasty (and useless at times) Bastard.
JOHN CENA vs. BROCK LESNAR © (WWE Heavyweight Title)
Had Brock not left the promotion the following year, a full-blown feud between these two would have undoubtedly occurred. So right off, this scores some points for being something of a hidden gem. That’s the only area where this scores any real points though, and if it’s any indication, it’s probably a good thing that this pairing wasn’t a repeating occurrence. Comparing Cena here to Cena nowadays shows that he’s not really changed much as a worker, and while Brock isn’t bad, having to work down to Cena’s level is a hindrance to both him, and the match.
The big problem with the match is that Cena looks like a total non contender, even though he got his title shot by getting wins over Eddie Guerrero, Undertaker, and Chris Benoit. He still looks totally out of his league next to Brock, and the way the match goes doesn’t do anything to rectify that. Cena gets thrown around like a ragdoll to start, and his big advantage comes on the heels of sending Brock into the steps, hardly an original transition, and when he’s got the advantage, all Cena has to show is a ton of punching away at Brock’s cut, and a couple of extended chinlocks. Cena’s chinlocks look almost identical to the STFU, in the sense that he tries to give the illusion of using all his might to yank and makes grimacing faces, but it’s obvious he’s putting no real effort into actually applying the hold. And after Brock powers out of Cena’s second chinlock, and throws him a couple of times, he’s got nothing left to do except punch at the cut (which had stopped bleeding by this point) and goes for his chain, and gets planted with the F-5 and it’s see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya. Cena has only one near-fall that gets any real reaction, and it’s after a low blow. And that shouldn’t be the case in a WWE Title match on PPV.
It also doesn’t help matters that Brock really doesn’t do much to sell, aside from fatigue when Cena goes after his cut. Brock had always been a very good seller, so in that respect it’s surprising to see him more or less phone it in during his first big match of his second title reign. It’s not totally Brock’s fault, as Cena wasn’t giving him a ton to work with. But it’d have been nice to see something from Brock other than the superhuman comeback. Even something like Cena cutting off Brock’s comeback, just to show that maybe Cena could get lucky, like he did with Benoit. When it comes down to it, this really isn’t very different from Rey/Show. It’s mostly a forgone conclusion, only this time the fans are supposed to want to see the big guy crush the little guy.
TRIPLE H/RIC FLAIR/CHRIS JERICHO vs. SHAWN MICHAELS/BOOKER T/KEVIN NASH
Aside from furthering the HHH/Nash rivalry and leading to their singles match at the next PPV (which in turn led to their HIAC match at the PPV after that), this isn’t much different from the tag title match, in the sense that the match itself is pretty much a stall tactic until the ending. There really wasn’t any reason this couldn’t have been a tag match featuring HHH/Flair vs. Nash/Michaels, Jericho was basically Nash’s pinball, and Booker didn’t add much else than the Spinaroonie.
This does have something over the tag title match in the sense that the match itself isn’t a total washout, as there is a decent stretch of Shawn getting beaten down, and having his knee worked over, but even that gets dragged down because of Shawn doing some goofy things. The biggest of which is after taking a Pedigree from HHH and selling like death, HHH pulls Shawn to his feet, and Shawn then proceeds to start trading punches and winds up winning the exchange. And when Flair trips up Shawn before he can tag, Shawn’s bump pretty much defines ‘over contrived.’ Nonetheless, when he’s not being goofy, Shawn does a fine job at putting over the beating, and Flair, Jericho, and HHH are up for the task. And while a clean finish would have been preferable on a PPV, the heels make it bearable by all bumping like mad for Nash, and Nash looks like he cost himself the match by throwing Flair into the ref and giving HHH the chance to get out the sledge.
THE ROCK vs. GOLDBERG
After such a mediocre show, it’s good to see that this has several enjoyable aspects to it, but by the time it’s over, they’ve already outlived their usefulness. First and foremost, Rock is an absolute riot, and that’s not always a good thing. The over exaggerated bumps and selling he does for everything from Goldberg, from the spear to simple shoulder blocks are hilarious, and his taunts at Goldberg are funny too. The problem is that not only is Rock being funny, but he’s cheered like mad for being funny, and he’s supposed to be the heel. Another fun aspect was Goldberg’s missed spear and shoulder bump into the post. Goldberg certainly didn’t hold anything back on his charge, and the force sends him clear outside the ring, and Goldberg’s selling of his shoulder afterward was good stuff, even selling after his spear out of desperation, and his press slam.
Goldberg’s selling doesn’t last though, and after a while, he dishes out offense without any problems at all. At one point he levels Rock with a spear and walks back to the corner and waits for about three minutes for Rock to get back to his feet, and then does it again. Why would he not just do the spear and then the Jackhammer and get the win? All Goldberg accomplishes by digging out the spear four times is discrediting it, and it doesn’t help that this is his first WWE match, and that Edge has always been hugely successful with that very move. And the biggest detriment to the match is that neither Rock nor Goldberg has a ton of offense so neither can carry the match and keep it interesting. They both spend large amounts of time laying on the mat, while the other will play to the crowd and mug for the camera. And with Rock being such a riot half the time, it really makes Goldberg look like a chump right from the start. Sure, after the fourth spear Goldberg does the Jackhammer and gets the win, but it’s not like he dominated Rock to get there, or really did anything to give the impression that he’s a big deal. And with Rocky’s huge selling being better for laughs than making Goldberg look dangerous, the match basically kills Goldberg right out of the gate as a top level guy, and he’d not even worked with HHH yet.
Conclusion: This is pretty much a total throwaway PPV, with nothing on it to really stand out, which is hardly the ideal way to kick off what’s usually considered the new “season” of WWE programming.