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WWE Royal Rumble 2003

by Scrooge McSuck

- Originally broadcasted on Pay-Per-View on January 19th, 2003, from the Fleet Center in Boston, MA. This PPV holds a very special place in my heart for pretty lame, geeky reasons, as we will see as we get further into the night. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are calling the matches from Raw, and Tazz and Michael Cole are covering all the stuff from Smackdown. Our worthless match from Sunday Night Heat is another in the endless saga of 1-star matches between Spike Dudley and Steven Richards. Four years later, TNA tried selling a PPV with these guys on it. Sometimes you shouldn't fantasy book for three people with real money invested.

Opening Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Big Show (w/ Paul Heyman):

Winner gets the last spot in the Royal Rumble Match, which means "hey, let's leave a top name out for the sake of leaving them out and making the winner a bit more obvious for everyone." Lesnar turned face following the Survivor Series, when a double-cross from Heyman cost him the WWE Championship, and the fans started jumping on the "Lesnar is awesome" Bandwagon. Big Show still sucks. 11 years later, and WWE is still trying to convince people he's a draw. HA! I'm not that much of a mark (sips from retro-Hulkamania cup). Show wins a few lockups, so Lesnar throws him into the corner and rams a series of shoulders to the midsection. Release belly-to-belly suplex from Lesnar, then he does it again, because HE'S F*CKING AWESOME. Show blocks a third and choke throws Lesnar clean over the top rope. Too bad it's not Rumble Rules, otherwise Show would be the winner. Show slows things down (hence the nickname Big Slow), so I sit back and wait for something good to happen. He misses a charge and Brock takes him down with a German suplex, but it only gets two. Show resumes control and connects with a side suplex. He signals for the finish (we're a whopping 4-minutes in), but Lesnar counters with a roll into a cover for two. Lesnar continues tossing Show around like a 500 pound sack of crap, but takes his time going after Heyman, and eats a chokeslam. Lesnar up at two, and he comes out of nowhere with the F5 for the three count at 6:30. *1/2 For Lesnar being a beast and treating Big Show like Rey Mysterio. This should've been on an episode of Smackdown, but the crowd loved it, so whatever.

{RAW] Tag Team Championship Match:
Lance Storm & William Regal © vs. The Dudley Boyz:

What is the deal with the Dudleys getting a title shot at every Royal Rumble? Seriously, look it up, from 2001 through 2004, they were featured in a Tag Title Match. Regal is still relying on the old brass-knuckles to win matches. Were the Un-Americans still a stable at this point? The fall of 2002 through Spring of 2003 is a pretty big blur. The referee (Nick Patrick, formerly evil) checks the Champs for weapons, and doesn't find anything, which means something will be produced by the end of the match. Storm and Bubba Ray start. They do a decent back-and-forth until Bubba plants Storm with a spinebuster and slaps on a step-over toe hold. D'Von with a spinning back elbow, and now it's Regal's turn to take a few licks. D'Von misses a charge to the corner and gets laid out with a double clothesline. Regal with a T-Bone Suplex for two. Regal and Storm with a good job cutting off the ring and working D'Von over, if with unremarkable offense (and there's nothing wrong with that). Storm with a sleeper hold and trash talking at the same time. Multi-tasking = Success. Bubba gets a rather lukewarm hot tag and cleans house. Avalanche in the corner, followed by a side suplex on Storm for two. Bubba works in the Bionic Elbow and Bubba-Bomb for two. D'Von with a blind tag, and it's WASSUP time... did ANYONE even remember where that came from by the time 2003 rolled around? Flapjack on Storm gets two. They set up for a 3D, but Chief of Staff Morley shows up to create a distraction, but Regal's POWER OF THE PUNCH backfires, and D'Von pins Storm for the titles at 7:24. *1/2 Decent match with little time to build up anything meaningful. Don't worry you Brits and Canuckers, Regal and Storm won them back the next night. Anyone else remember the Dudleys shitty music around this time? I think it was featured on the Freddy vs. Jason Soundtrack.

- Torrie Wilson and Dawn Marie had a terrible match to blowoff the stupid angle involving Torrie's father. You know, the one where Dawn Marie seduced him because she wanted to have some hot lesbian action with Torrie but was denied, and then after marrying him, killed him by having too much sex on the honeymoon? Yeah, WWE really couldn't stop with the tasteles, pointless, heatless angles involving sex and people no one in their right mind would have it with. Thankfully the match is only three minutes long, but unfortunately, it was blowing off an angle that was simmering (on and off) for about two months. Despite not actually recapping the match, I can tell you from viewing it that calling it a DUD is a generous rating and we will leave it at that...

WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Triple H © (w/ Ric Flair) vs. Scott Steiner:

Oh, my God... this match should have it's own disclaimer suggesting any and all viewers from locking up the medicine cabinet, because suicide is the never the answer out of things. We'll just suck it up and hope it's not too long. Build up to this involved a terrible Arm-Wrestling Contest, and incredibly homoerotic Posedown, and other ridiculous gimmicks that didn't involve actual wrestling. I have suspicions that Steiner was used to make fans actually cheer for Triple H. He's already buried RVD, Kane, and a handful of others, but Steiner? NOBODY LIKED SCOTT STEINER. NOBODY. Seriously, I hated Triple H with a passion in 2003, and found myself cheering for him against Steiner's useless waste of slug space. Mild "Triple H" chant to start, as they trade blows, with Steiner gaining the upperhand. I'm surprised DC never sued Steiner for his obviously ripping off the Superman logo. Steiner with a series of clubberin' blows and a press slam, sending Hunter to the floor for a breather. Steiner follows, connecting with a clothesline. He works the back and brings Hunter back in with a suplex for two. Steiner turns Triple H over with a lazy Boston Crab, and I MEAN LAZY. Rock's Sharpshooter looks better. Steiner actually collapses trying to sit down on it. Hunter with a face-buster, but Steiner no-sells and slaps on a bearhug. Hunter escapes with an eye rake, but runs into a belly-to-belly suplex. Steiner goes for the Steiner-Recliner (Camel Clutch), but Flair pulls Trips to the ropes. Whip to the corner, and Huntet meets a charging Steiner with a boot.

Hunter stomps away and sends Steiner to the floor, introducing him to the ring steps while visiting. Back inside, Hunter with a swinging neck-breaker for two. Flair with some cheap shots behind the back of the referee for the best pop of the match (so far). Steiner whiffs on a clothesline and Hunter with another neck-breaker for two. Steiner seems winded already, about 7-minutes in. Hunter goes for the Pedigree, but Steiner counters in slow-motion and slingshots Hunter to the buckle. Overhead suplex, and Steiner falls on his ass just standing around. Steiner scoops him up and they fight over a TOMBSTONE until Hunter turns whatever the fuck they were doing into ANOTHER neck-breaker (called a Diamond Cutter by J.R.).

Hunter with a snap suplex, and the crowd pops for Flair praising Triple H. How odd. Hunter jumps off the second rope into another belly-to-belly suplex. Steiner is sucking enough wind to keep 500 people alive. Here he goes with another belly-to-belly suplex. Then another. Remember in Raw for the X-Box? When performing the same move over and over turned the crowd on you? Well, Boston HATES Scott Steiner now. Or maybe they just hate the match. Steiner with several more belly-to-belly's for a near fall. He goes for a double underhook and falls down on the follow through. Whip, Hunter with an elbow to a babyface pop. He goes to the top, only to get brought down with a suplex. Hunter tries taking a walk, but Steiner chases him down (BOO!) and gets boo'ed for laying Flair out, too. Hunter tries using the belt, but Steiner blocks and whacks Hunter with it, complete with blade job... despite NOTHING HITTING HIM EXCEPT THE EDGE OF THE STRAP.

Back inside, ANOTHER BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX (BOO!). Steiner taunts Hunter with push-up's, pissing the crowd off some more. Hunter tosses the referee, but dammit, Hebner won't let it end. Mixed reaction for that decision. Not-so-mixed for the 18th belly-to-belly suplex of the match. Steiner with some lazy rights as Flair does his best to carry this turd despite NOT BEING A LEGAL PARTICIPANT. Hunter goes low (YAY) and a roll up gets two (and exposes Steiner's manly lavender colored thong). Here comes the Sledgehammer to the biggest pop of the match (so far), and that finally draws a Disqualification at 18:13. The crowd shits all over that finish. Steiner avoids being murdered in public and beats up on Hunter some more (to a chorus of boos). -*** You know, that might sound ridiculously off-the-chart's. After all, the first half of the match was OK. It wasn't good, but it was OK (I'm talking a generous * rating). Then it fell a part, and continued falling apart. We not only were treated to watching a severely limited worker exposed beyond belief, but also witnessed him nearly collapsing on several occasions, a crowd completely turning on the match and the babyface it was trying to establish, and just an overall mess and disgrace to wrestling (was that blade-job necessary?). The moment Steiner almost fell out of the ring just getting up from a spot, someone should've called an audible and brought it home, yet these two were pushed to go another 8-minutes, with the crowd growing more and more impatient with every suplex Steiner could throw at us (literally. It's all he f*cking did). Probably, no wait, EASILY, the worst "World Title Match" I've ever seen. It's going to take a lot to save this pony from going to the glue factory.

WWE Championship Match:
Kurt Angle © (w/ Team Angle) vs. Chris Benoit:

...THANK YOU, GOD! I don't recall the reasoning behind this, probably to see who the better wrestler was. Yeah, but where was the posedown? The bench presses?! THE PUSH UP CHALLENGE?! You're telling me I'm supposed to be invested in two wrestlers arguing over who the better WRESTLER is!? How dare they! Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin freshly debuted as Angle cronies, obviously) gets tossed immediately, meaning we aren't getting any bullsh*t for this one. Lockup, Benoit grabs a headlock, and comes off the ropes with a shoulder. He goes for a Sharpshooter, but Angle slips away and goes to the floor. Angle picks the leg, but Benoit dropkicks him away. Whip to the ropes, Angle grabs a sleeper, but it's countered. Benoit with a dragon screw and another Sharpshooter attempt. Angle blocks, so Benoit grapevines the leg until a forced break in the ropes.

Angle with a boot to the midsection, and quickly sends him shoulder-first to the post. Angle targets the neck with forearms and takes Benoit over with a suplex for two. Benoit fights back with chops. Whip is reversed, Angle meets boot, and Benoit lays him out with a clothesline to the back of the head. Benoit with a hard knee to the midsection for two. Benoit with more chops and knees. Angle blocks a whip and drops Benoit across the top rope with a suplex. Benoit recovers, hanging Angle up across the rope. They slug it out on the apron until Angle eats a DDT, taking him to the floor. Back inside, Benoit covers for two. Benoit to the top rope, but the headbutt meets nothing but canvas. Benoit counters the Angle-Slam, sweeps the legs, and locks on the Sharpshooter! Angle has too much in the tank, though, and makes his way to the ropes. Benoit with a sharp back suplex for two. Whip to the ropes, and Angle turns it around with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex.

He sends Benoit to the floor, catching a breather in the process. Angle soon follows, and drops Benoit chest-first across the security barrier. Back inside, Angle with a stiff short-arm clothesline for two. Snapmare, and Angle grabs a rear-chinlock, complete with a grapevine around the midsection. Benoit fights to his knees and escapes with an arm drag. He comes off the ropes, only to find himself back on the canvas courtesy of a release belly-to-belly. Angle with his own sharp back suplex for two, then back to the chinlock. Benoit escapes with elbows. Angle sends him to the ropes, and both men go down courtesy of a double clothesline. They milk the count for all it's worth, then trade blows. Benoit with chops and a series of clotheslines. Benoit with the rolling German's. Angle counters after two with his own. Benoit counters a second, completing his trio.

SNOT ROCKET AND OH SHIT, ANGLE'S PISSED! Swan-Dive Headbutt is countered with a Super Belly-To-Belly, but it only gets two! Angle Slam is countered, and Benoit has the Crossface locked in! Benoit pulls Angle from the ropes and slaps on the Ankle-Lock! Angle hooks the leg and counters with his own Ankle-Lock! Benoit somehow pulls Angle in tight and turns it back into the Crossface! Angle counters into a roll-up for two! Angle lunges and finds himself in the Crossface, again. Angle rolls through, finding himself in a vertical position, and counters with the Angle-Slam! It only gets two. Angle removes the straps and goes back to the Ankle-Lock. Benoit rolls through, sending Angle into the buckle. Angle blocks a German, goes for his own, and Benoit counters with a victory roll for two. They exchange suplexes until Benoit flips Angle completely over with a 360! Benoit to the top, and finally, on attempt #3, connects with the Swandive Headbutt! It's still only good enough for a two count. Angle fights out of the Crossface and slams Benoit face-first into the buckle from a Powerbomb position. Angle-Slam gets two! Angle tries pulling Benoit off the canvas, only to find himself back in the Crossface. He counters it again with the Ankle-Lock, finding new positions each time. Benoit tries to kick himself free, but Angle hangs on relentlessly, grapevines the leg, and Benoit is forced to finally tap out at 19:47. ***** An absolute masterpiece, from the opening bell to the thrilling conclusion. Every second of it a flawless exhibition of what makes wrestling so wonderful. Despite being a scripted "sport" with pre-determined outcomes, I dare anyone to try and tell me this match didn't suck you in and make you forget about real and fake, but just focus on two great athletes putting on a performance more-than-worth the price of admission. The Boston crowd gives Benoit the standing ovation despite the loss, because it was a f*cking awesome match, and he deserved it.

30-Man Royal Rumble Match:

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are calling this, oddly. I guess 2004 was the first time they used someone from Raw and someone from Smackdown calling it together, before it got really confusing when they had three different brands and EVERYONE talking over each other. Winner gets to face the Champion of his Brand at WrestleMania. It was for the 2004 Royal Rumble (and only mentioned AFTER the show) where the winner got to jump and pick who he wanted to challenge. I don't remember much about the 2003 Rumble Match, other than having a fairly obvious winner, so let's see if it's a forgotten Rumble gem.

#1 is Shawn Michaels, freely offering himself to the number, and #2 is Chris Jericho (ditto). Jericho uses Christian as a decoy to sneak attack Michaels with a low-blow. Jericho with a chair, meaning Michaels has managed to do blade-jobs in Rumble Matches AND Survivor Series Elimination matches, two gimmicks that don't typically require such an act. #3 is Chris Nowinski (a.k.a Chris Harvard from Season 1 of Tough Enough, and quickly retired from a serious concussion problem by the Summer of 2003). He lets Jericho finish his work, tossing Michaels out at 2:30, easily a shocker. #4 is Rey Mysterio, taking Jericho down with a pair of head scissors. They do a decent miini-match as Nowinski continues hanging out on the floor. #5 is Edge, hitting Spears on the Raw heels. Mysterio with a hurricanrana from the top rope on Jericho. Edge misses a spear on Mysterio, but manages to avoid a 619. They do a elimination tease, but Edge clearly hit the floor (he is pretty tall for that spot), despite the "decision" to keep him in. #6 is Christian, and he offers an insincere hug to his "brother"/best friend Edge, only to eat a Spear. Harvard tries tossing Edge and Rey, but both hang on. He eats a dropkick from Rey, and Edge lands on his face botching his side of things for the double team dropkick. Rey with a Bronco Buster, because it's not gay looking for men to do that to each other. #7 is Chavo Guerrero (and my GOD, he never gets any kind of reaction). Decent talent in there, which means all the useless slugs will enter late. Chavo eats a 619 and West Coast Pop. Rey eliminates Nowinski with a head scissors at 9:05, and Jericho clotheslines Mysterio out at 9:19.

#8 is Tajiri, but he's a JTTS, so don't expect him to do much. Still a nice collection of talent in the ring. Lawler confuses Tajiri with Funaki, because Japanese people all look the same (sarcasm). #9 is Bill Demott (remember his heel turn where he became a bully?), formerly Hugh Morrus. He slugs away at random people. #10 is Tommy Dreamer, along with a handful of weapons. He whacks everyone with a kendo stick, and Demott is gone at 13:37. Jericho and Christian with a trash-can lid con-chair-to on Dreamer, and he's tossed out at 13:58. Tajiri with the Tarantula on Jericho, and ends up getting tossed at 14:39. B-2 is next at #11, a.k.a Bull Buchanon. He's recently dumped by John Cena as a lackey, and nobody cares. He misses a charge and gets tossed by Edge at 15:14. Chavo ends up on the apron and Speared off at 15:34. Jericho skins the cat in and tosses Edge AND Christian to clear the ring at 15:55. #12 is Rob Van Dam, and they have their little mini-match, with RVD working in some of his signature spots. #13 is Matt Hardy (Version 1... and he strongly dislikes mustard) and quickly hits RVD with the Side-Effect. RVD survives a double-team and hits the 5-Star Frog Splash on Jericho. #14 is Eddie Guerrero, and I'm seriously concerned about the lack of solid workers still not entered. He gets his own Frog Splash on RVD, then takes a Twist of Fate from Hardy. Speaking of Hardy, Jeff Hardy is #15, in Attempt #2 at teasing Hardy vs. Hardy. Jeff would be released about a month later for reasons unknown, delaying the battle for several more years). Shannon Moore (Matt's MF'er) helps keep him in the ring, a running story of the match. He lays on Matt to protect him from a Senton Bomb, and we all know how that ends.

#16 is Rosey of 3MW, to zero reaction. WWE sure loves their Samoans. #17 is Test (still a babyface, and with Stacy Keibler). He cleans house, but isn't tossing anyone out. #18 is John Cena, rapping his way to the ring, wearing a throwback Houston Astros jersey... any reason why? Astros/Red Sox seems odd. Crowd barely reacts to him. My God, he's more tolerable NOW than as a wanna-be Vanila Ice/Eminem love-child. #19 is Charlie Haas, as the ring continues to fill up without much of note happening. "Charlie is a Hoss (pronounced almost the same as Haas)" might be the J.R. Line of the Night™. Jeff gets dumped by RVD at 29:11 doing for something on the top rope. #20 is Rikishi, meaning we have two over-weight Samoans in the ring now. Rosey and Haas randomly buddy up, possibly because of their extensive familiarity in OVW before call-ups. Rikishi and Rosey squash Moore and Hardy, but Rosey interrupts a stink-face with an over-sold clothesline. #21 is Jamal (a.k.a Umaga) of 3MW, so we have 1,200 pounds of Samoans to drag things down. TOO MANY BODIES! Rosey gets a Stink-Face, but no-sells it and pounds Rikishi down. #22 is Kane, and we desperately need some ring clearing. He cleans house and Chokeslam's non-participant Rico, then back drops Rosey out at 33:41. Double Chokeslam for Hardy and Moore. #23 is Shelton Benjamin, and he comes in at the perfect time for some double-team action with Haas on Cena.

#24 is Booker T, and again, WE NEED TO CLEAR THE RING! He does work in the Spin-a-rooni, though. He sends Eddie packing at 36:43 (BOO!). #25 is A-Train... remember when he was supposed to get a big push? Baldo-Bomb to Cena, and a giant back breaker on Benjamin. Shawn Michaels returns to get revenge on Jericho, and Test casually tosses him out at 38:59 to the best pop of the match. #26 is Maven, and he has that epic-future WrestleMania battle with John Cena. Oh wait, that was a different dark(ish)-skinned guy with goofy eye-brows. #27 is Goldust, a.k.a Booker T's Best Friend. SOMEONE CLEAR THE DAMN RING! He goes after former WrestleMania (X-8) Opponent Maven and gives him Shattered Dreams. Haas and Benjamin toss him to a chorus of boos at 42:05. Then they toss Booker T at 42:37 (BOO!). #28 is Batista, but he's still fairly green, so he's not winning. He sends Test to the locker room at 43:48 and Rikishi at 44:10. #29 is Brock Lesnar, and it better be time to clear the ring. He dumps both Haas and Benjamin at 45:20, then sends Hardy onto the pile with an F5 at 45:33! #30 is the Undertaker, back from an injury/vacation and disappointing people expecting him back as the Deadman.

'Taker quickly clotheslines Cena out at 47:22, followed by Jamal at 47:32. Maven tries to repeat his success of 2002, but Undertaker stands tall this time, plants Maven with a Chokeslam, and dumps him out at 48:02. Cute. A-Train with the Baldo-Bomb on 'Taker. Kane with a Chokeslam on Lesnar. A-Train cleans house until getting knocked out by Kane and RVD at 49:19. Kane tricks RVD into working as a team and press slams him out at 49:37. HAHA! FINAL FOUR: Kane, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar, and Batista. Kane and Batista wipe out, leaving 'Taker and Lesnar to tease battle, but is quickly interrupted. Lesnar with a belly-to-belly on Batista, followed by an F5 on Kane! 'Taker and Lesnar slug it out, with 'Taker almost being tossed and having to be saved by Lesnar in a blatant attempt at not ruining the finish. 'Taker counters the F5 and plants Lesnar with the Tombstone! Batista gets clotheslined out at 53:01, and Undertaker tosses his "brother" at 53:32. That's as casual as things get. Batista tries to attack with a chair, but 'Taker fights him off. The distraction allows Lesnar to recover and toss Undertaker at 53:47, earning his shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIX. ***1/2 Not a great Rumble, but it wasn't really bad, either, with the exception of the typical lull towards the end when everyone just kind of waits around for the next big wave of events to start getting into motion. There was some fun and lively match-up's to be entertaining, and a surprisingly deep talent pool, but dang if they couldn't find a worse Final Four.

Final Thoughts: An all-time classic WWE Championship Match and an above average Royal Rumble Match makes this show a thumbs up, but damn if that stinker between Triple H and Scott Steiner doesn't try and drag things down to it's shit level. Never before, and never again, have two matches gone down, with one being such a masterpiece, and the other being the complete opposite of what the sport is all about. The rest of the undercard is throw-away junk, but honestly, who orders the ROYAL RUMBLE for the filler stuff? Check this one out, but beware, halfway through you might temporarily lose hope in all humanity.

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