2003 Royal Rumble
The first RR event where the WWE and WHC were featured in separate matches!
Match 1 – The Big Show Vs Brock Lesnar – Winner of this gets to enter the RR later tonight. Michael Cole claims they will be the 30th entrant. Yeah, not quite true lol. This is Lesnar’s big chance for revenge after Show & Heyman gave him his first pinfall loss and ended his WWE title reign. Not really the big “blow off” match you’d expect, but they continue their feud following WM and do give us some big matches. Still crazy to see BIG SHOW take an overhead belly to belly. Multiple times. Love how they manage to put over the sheer power of both guys in this match. Lesnar is able to throw Show around with those belly to belly suplexes, and Show is able to launch Lesnar about as well. Makes both men look like beasts, helps put Lesnar over even more when he wins, and makes Show look strong in defeat. I have a feeling we will be seeing a lot more overhead belly to belly suplexes on this show too. Lesnar here, Angle likes to use them too, and then of course the infamous Steiner/HHH match! Lesnar gets the win with an F-5 and even kicked out of a chokeslam before hand too. Short match, like I said not a blow off match like you would have expected, but it seemed to be more about Lesnar proving he can beat Show and then getting into the RR match. I like this a lot. ***
Match 2 – The Dudley Boys Vs Lance Storm & William Regal – 4 years in a row, The Dudley Boys are in tag team action! Did they ever enter the RR match? I don’t think they did. Strange match. Dudley’s dominate like 90% of it with a very, very short and basic control segment from the heel team. “hot” tag, Bubba comes in and they just destroy the champs for a few minutes. Chief Morley (Val Venis) tries to distract the ref so Regal can use the knucks. 3-D to him instead, D-Von grabs the knucks and knocks out Storm for the win. New champs. Though I believe they get stripped of the belts the next night. This could have been so much more. **
Match 3 – Dawn Marie Vs Torrie Wilson – NO.
Match 4 – Triple H Vs Scott Steiner – It’s time for one of the most talk about matches of all time. Not because it’s good, but because it’s so god awful!!! Triple H came back in 2002 bulky as shit and wasn’t as mobile as before. He was having bad match after bad match with just about everyone. His 2003 is wildly regarded as a dreadful year for him. Steiner was never a god in the ring, and when he bulked up in the late 90’s he got even worse too. Plus he had a foot injury that wasn’t fully healed when he joined WWE. So HHH is on the worst run of his career. Steiner is injured. This COULDN’T be anything other than terrible. Just a shame that Steiner essentially took the heat for their matches being bad. TAKES TWO TO TANGO. Triple H was having bad matches with SHAWN MICHAELS. Steiner most definitely didn’t deserve to take all the heat, but he wasn’t fucking Stephanie so what ya gonna do? OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! OVERHEAD BELLY TO BELLY SUPLEX! Match is terrible. DUD.
Match 5 – Chris Benoit Vs Kurt Angle – A match that a lot of people consider to be the GOAT. Or at the very least one of the best ever. And then there are people who believe it’s ok at best. Once upon a time if you asked me what the 3 greatest matches ever were, I’d probably have told you Undertaker/HBK HIAC, Undertaker/Angle NWO 06… and this match. I’ve since lowered my opinion of this one but still consider it to be a great contest. However my taste in wrestling has changed vastly over the last few years and it would be interesting to see how I feel about this match now, considering some of the people who don’t think much of it are people whose opinions are usually similar to mine. Starts off good at least, both guys look vicious and want to beat the shit out of each other, and Benoit comes out on top because he’s probably a better “brawler” than Angle at the time. Nice DDT on the apron from Benoit, shades of Regal last year. Transition spot into Angle’s control segment was a little odd though. Benoit goes for a diving headbutt and misses… and I thought “yeah, perfect time for Angle to get in control!”. Instead 10 seconds later Benoit has Angle in a Sharpshooter. Angle gets the ropes, then hits an overhead belly to belly… and THAT leads to Angle controlling. Ok lol. This match has been called “robotic” at times due to them seemingly going through the motions and being “too smooth” with reversals and transitions and whatnot that make everything look fake and planned out and co-operative as opposed to any combination of Regal/Benoit/Finlay where every hold and counter is fought for. Half way into the match I really can’t say I agree with that, just because there isn’t really anywhere for them TO have smooth reversals and counters or anything where it could be done “better” (depending on your preferences. For me I love the gritty nature of Finlay/Benoit/Regal). Then they seem to go into a big counter hold counter hold finishing stretch and THIS is where it definitely deserves the “robotic” label. Now don’t get me wrong, seeing 2 guys countering moves and whatnot can be extremely fun and exciting to watch… but when it comes to submission holds and anything done on the mat, being smooth makes everything look far to unrealistic and can take me out of the match a little. And of course when it comes to the submission holds, they lock them in so many times and counter so many times, it’s hard to get excited over them after a while because you expect them to be countered and don’t think they will end the match because, well, they’ve managed to survive the hold long enough already lol. Also, I honestly think that between this, HHH/Steiner and Brock/Show, we may have seen at least 50 suplexes on this PPV so far! Best part of the match is probably the crowd giving Benoit a standing ovation after the match despite the fact he lost. A great organic moment that unfortunately WWE would exploit and attempt to force in the future. So the match overall? Well it’s nowhere near as good as I remembered it to be. Or maybe it’s the exact same as I remembered it, only know I don’t enjoy this kind of match as much as I once did. I could go on and on about how I prefer the more gritty stuff from Benoit/Finlay/Regal, but this match didn’t have to do that to be great like they are. It could easily have been as good (albeit in a different way), but that finishing stretch that essentially lasted half of the match featuring dull counters and nonstop submission holds that never looked like they could truly end the match (ironic that the match DOES end in submission) bring it down for me. ***1/4.
Match 6 – 30 Man Royal Rumble Match – Jericho won a battle royal or something on Raw to pick his number, and he wanted to be #1 so he could win from that position and prove he’s better than HBK. However Vince had already given HBK the #1 spot, so Jericho had to settle for #2! HBK comes out to the ring, Jericho’s music hits and… Christian! Jericho comes in from the crowd, attacks HBK from behind, busts him open then throws him out! And thus their feud picks up some nice heat leading into WM 19. Some really great action early on with guys like Jericho, Edge, Mysterio, Christian, Tajiri and the Hardy Boys. This is the first RR since the brand split and we get a nice little standoff between both brands at one point. Say what you want about the brand split, but if done correctly I think it could have been a great feud for WWE. They did a couple of good angles with it (Survivor Series 05 for example), but other than that they kinda sucked at it, and now they still claim to have brands but completely ignore the split. Fun moments with Christian and Matt Hardy (heels at the time) trying to buddy up to their “brothers” (putting it in “” because Edge & Christian aren’t really brothers, something like legit shocked me when I found out), only for Edge & Jeff having none of it. Matt Hardy has a great performance, lasting quite a while and having some fun moments with Shannon Moore (his MF’er, Matt Follower lol) on the outside preventing him from being eliminated. Man, Rikishi is lethal with that superkick. Takes about 9 guys out with it lol. Nobody eliminated with it, but all taken down lol. Jericho lasts longer than anyone overall, but HBK shows up again to try and get some revenge… and TEST of all people throws out Jericho! Brock Lesnar is #29, and he eliminates both Team Angle at the same time… then F-5’s Matt Hardy out of the ring and onto Team Angle! Awesome. HE MAY BE THE BIGGEST, AND THE BADDEST, OF AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL TIME! A returning Undertaker is #30 and everyone gonna get GOT. Awesome callback to last year’s RR as Maven dropkicks Undertaker from behind again… but doesn’t eliminated him! Undertaker hits a chokeslam and out goes the Tough Enough winner. Kane eliminates his tag partner RVD, and Undertaker looks to get on the same page as Kane once again only to eliminate him! Undertaker and Lesnar are the final 2, with Lesnar getting in from behind after Undertaker eliminates Batista, and Brock wins! This is a super fucking fun match. Lots of great talent, nicely worked brand split feud, some cool moments and an awesome return from Undertaker, and Lesnar winning was great too. ***3/4.