June 15, 2003
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my years as a wrestling fan, it’s that bad wrestling matches happen, and all the complaining in the world won’t change it. But, hakuna matata, why get upset when you can just point and laugh? If the blown spots and weird moments don’t do it for you, then I’ve got two words for you: Redneck Triathlon!
Scott Steiner . . . falls flat on his face and that’s only the first blown spot of his match!
La Resistance . . . do next to nothing but still wind up with the World Tag Team Titles.
Randy Orton . . . makes his surprise return and is KO’d pretty much on the spot.
RODNEY MACK/CHRISTOPHER NOWINSKI vs. BUBBA RAY DUDLEY/D-VON DUDLEY
Aside from a few fun moments here and there, this is a rather forgettable opener. The match itself is mostly just punching, chopping, and the Dudleys doing their trademark spots. The only one who really does anything out of the ordinary is D-Von, who adds both a nice diving shoulder block and jumping lariat. Nowinski adds a nice counter to the Bubba Bomb, and the Dudleys are both dicks about going after Nowinski’s recently broken nose. Mack and Nowinski’s lack of timing is noticeably evident, considering that they do two double team spots, and their lack of timing ruins them both. It’d be easy to say that this shows the Dudleys as a superior team, but in the course of the match, the only double team that the Dudleys do is the Wassup Drop, which doesn’t exactly take cracker jack timing. And the Dudleys loss stems just as much from their own mis communication as it does from Teddy Long’s interference and Nowinski hitting Bubba with the face protector behind the ref’s back.
SCOTT STEINER vs. TEST
Unlike their tag match at Judgment Day, the highlight of this isn’t Steiner doing his pushups. Watching Steiner’s attempts to do anything else is eons more entertaining than anything else you’ll find here. Steiner makes that clear in the first thirty seconds when he tries to jump off the apron at Test and falls flat on his face. He attempts a few different suplexes and doesn’t successfully execute any of them, instead he suplexes Test and falls on his ass in the process. When he’s not proving why it was a good idea to keep the World Title on HHH, the only other things Steiner does are weak lariats, the aforementioned pushups, and his trademark flex and elbow drop. Test is better than Steiner by virtue of not being an embarrassment. Test shows a nice mean streak, but most of that is directed toward Stacy, leaving Test to bring nothing more than punching, his big boot, and his pumphandle slam. This is also the second match in a row where the match itself has no real impact on the finish, with Test doing most of the work himself. The rebounding chair shot wound up being the underlying factor, rather than anything Steiner did.
CHRISTIAN © vs. BOOKER T (WWE Intercontinental Title)
Aside from the copout ending and the short length, this was pretty much what you’d expect considering the show is taking place in Booker T’s hometown. Christian has always been good about bumping and selling for his opponents, and Booker looks more motivated here, than I’ve seen him look in a good long time. The work is mostly clean, except for a couple of awkward looking moments, the most glaring one being when Booker is supposed to catch Christian coming off the top and flapjack him, but delays a bit too long before doing the flapjack. Booker also slips up a bit when doing his sunset flip in the corner. The one thing Booker could have done though was to leave behind a couple of his bigger moves, most notably the missile dropkick, because by bringing out his big guns and still coming up short (albeit in a cheap way) all Booker T really accomplished was killing off some of their credibility.
Christian isn’t outstanding or anything, but he’s pretty much what he needed to be here. Christian gets his advantages with underhanded tactics like the thumb to the eye and neck snap off the ropes. He uses the Bookend just to be a punk, and gets a near fall by cradling Booker and grabbing the ropes. Christian does attempt to make his attempted walkout (which is foiled by the ref telling him he’ll lose the title if he’s counted out) have a bit more meaning than just him being a coward. Christian bailed while Booker was doing the Spinaroonie, in effect giving the impression that Booker’s crowd pleasing was more important to him than the title, by virtue of him taking his eyes off the prize. The ending with Christian getting himself disqualified is just terrible though. It was something that should have been either done on TV to build to this match, or done like the HHH/Nash match at Judgment Day, done to build to a rematch with some sort of stipulation.
ROB VAN DAM/KANE © vs. RENE DUPREE/SYLVAIN GRENIER (World Tag Team Titles)
Thankfully this is rather short. It’s mostly the RVD show, as La Resistance was pretty bad here, and Kane didn’t do much either. RVD does graceful cross body press, does one of his trademark head spike bumps for a DDT, and takes La Resistance’s double flapjack finisher better than anyone else, actually making it look somewhat like a legit finishing move. The really mind-boggling thing (to me anyway) is seeing Kane rendered a non factor after getting grazed by RVD’s tope con hilo. This is the same guy who’s taken monumental beatings and gotten back up. But getting hit, not even directly, by a flying RVD puts him down for the count. It’d have been nice to see a little build up to that, such as some moments to show RVD and Kane aren’t on the same page, or even something like Kane walking out of the match because RVD hit him, leaving RVD two-on-one. But the go-go-go style of the match didn’t really allow for building up to things, and La Resistance was bad enough without them having to actually carry their own weight.
CHRIS JERICHO vs. GOLDBERG
After five long years, the blowoff to the midget skit! Actually this isn’t bad at all. It’s not even a blip on the radar for Jericho, but it’d probably crack a top five list as far as Goldberg goes. Things start off like a typical Goldberg match, as he basically has his way with Jericho, and Jericho can’t get anything going. But it works on a certain level though, because the whole buildup to this match was Jericho attacking Goldberg from behind, or using underhanded means, like mace in the face, to weaken him. So Jericho getting guzzled so quick gives him a comeuppance of sorts. And Jericho puts over the beating well, but surprisingly, it’s not Jericho’s selling that makes this match, it’s Goldberg’s.
Once Goldberg spears the guardrail though, this starts to hit its high point. While he’s no Guerrero, Jericho is fairly ruthless about attacking Goldberg’s shoulder, and Goldberg puts on one of his better sell jobs in recent memory. Jericho even uses some offense that I’ve never seen him use before, such as a Fujiwara armbar, and the single arm DDT takedown, and even Taiyo Kea’s jumping DDT. And Goldberg’s selling of his shoulder is good enough to the point that Jericho’s near fall off the Lionsault actually looks plausible. The work itself isn’t always pretty, as Jericho’s Lionsault almost lands on Goldberg’s head and Goldberg’s escape of the Walls looked a little too cooperative. Goldberg makes a couple of comeback attempts with unique moves of his own, he actually does a sped up version of the FU and plants Jericho with a couple of nice sidekicks to slow him down. Goldberg never fully blows off the shoulder either, which is a huge blessing. Goldberg remembers to sell it after both spears, and he sells it again after the Jackhammer and the three count. It was too bad that we had to wait so long after the awesomeness of the Jericho vs. Mini-Goldberg, but in all likelihood, this blew away what probably would have resulted from the match they’d have had in ‘98. ***1/4
RIC FLAIR vs. SHAWN MICHAELS
Until the big table spot, this was rather fun, if a bit too ‘Flair Formulaic,’ but it still had its problems. Michaels couldn’t be bothered to sell the leg after the figure four spot, and Flair even did a few things to build up to the figure four. They only had two transitions that weren’t based around punching and chopping. Flair’s chop block that started his attack on Shawn’s leg, and Shawn’s escape of Flair’s backdrop suplex. Flair had a lot of trouble pulling off his patented corner flip, and Shawn basically does all the work when Flair reverses Shawn’s O’Connor roll. But while it wasn’t perfect, they at least played to the Flair Formula game rather well, with both of them doing a good job with their respective roles.
The match pretty much falls apart after the table spot, which, honestly, served no purpose other than Randy Orton running in (which he’d do at the end anyway) and getting KO’d by the Sweet Chin Music. Sure, there was a bit of a grudge leading up to the match, with Flair turning against Shawn in a tag match, but it just a case of using a table for the sake of using a table, since the Dudleys got thwarted in the opener. Shawn’s big dive wasn’t a match breaker in the least, seeing as they both continued to fight after getting into the ring. Shawn basically shrugs off a low blow that simultaneously hit him and ref, while the ref was pretty much down for the count afterwards. And all Shawn blowing off the kick to the grapefruits accomplished was regaining control by winning a punch exchange and pulling off his usual three moves, (forearm, elbow off the top, and Sweet Chin Music), before Orton’s chair shot sealed the deal for Flair. It seems short-sighted to have Randy make his surprise return to the WWE and get KO’d two seconds into it. Why not have Orton’s appearance cost Shawn the match and then start an Orton/Shawn feud? But the WWE never was big on foresight.
TRIPLE H © vs. KEVIN NASH (World Heavyweight Title - Hell In A Cell)
Aside from some impressive brutality with the various weapons that get dug out for the match, this is relatively mindless, even for a Hell In A Cell match. Nash uses the exact same offense that he used in their Judgment Day match with the only exception being that Nash uses a drop toe hold this time around, which was basically necessitated with HHH charging with the stairs. It was either the drop toe hold or the big boot, and which was least likely to result in a blown out knee? For the most part HHH puts over the beating well, like he did at the last PPV, and he’s not exactly the king of offense himself, I think Nash actually beats him this time around, as HHH’s only offense that isn’t prop assisted are punches to the head, the kick to the gut and of course the Pedigree that always gets the win. Foley’s referee job is inconsistent at best, standing back and allowing Nash to basically knock HHH from one side of the cell to the other, and then frequently getting in between them when HHH has control. He also basically shrugs off a HHH chair shot, and when he gets knocked off the apron, he basically kills the Jackknife as a finisher by rushing back into the ring to count, when he could have sold the bump for a while longer and either forced Nash to get him, or have allowed HHH to recover enough to kick out by the time he crawls into the ring.
Again, the brutality of the match is somewhat remarkable, considering it’s between two good friends. Nash’s errant throwing of the stairs at HHH, and HHH working over Nash’s cut with both the screwdriver and barbed wire board. But when it comes down to it, the use of all the weapons, from the hammer, sledgehammer, barbed wire board, and even the cell itself was just there to heat up the crowd and draw attention from the fact that they weren’t doing much of anything in the way of actual wrestling. There was a chance to take the match somewhere interesting when HHH initially got the hammer out and hit Nash in the knee to slow him down, but instead of work over Nash’s leg and tell a story, HHH just stuck to getting the blood flowing. Unlike the Jackknife, the Pedigree is kept somewhat strong, as it only took one time, even with Nash’s mediocre bump, to finish the job. If nothing else, this tops their Judgment Day match, but there isn’t anything here, aside from some unique props (the screwdriver and wooden crate for instance) that couldn’t be seen in better HHH matches.
Conclusion: Aside from the surprisingly good Goldberg match, there isn’t anything here worth going out of your way to see, aside from the novelty of Hell In A Cell, and the comedy of Scott Steiner.