I consider this to be the single greatest PPV ever, not just WWF/E, and not just WM. Can it hold up?
Match 1 – Matt Hardy Vs Rey Mysterio – Bossy sprint here for the Cruiserweight title! They get under 6 minutes, and manage to throw in some nice storytelling, a fast pace, great action (all looks nice and smooth too, no botches which is impressive given some of the things they were doing and the speed they did it in) and a screwy finish to get the heel (Matt) some heat and set up to a great rematch (which happened on SD afterwards, and was awesome). They did more in under 6 minutes than most guys could do in 15. Very impressive, and a match I’ve always loved. ***1/2.
Match 2 – The Undertaker Vs The Big Show & A-Train – This was originally scheduled to be a tag team contest, with Nathan Jones as ‘Taker’s tag partner. However, it was decided before the event that Jones wasn’t ready yet, so he was “taken out” during a backstage segment on Heat before the show. The match came about during a feud between The Undertaker and The Big Show. After the HIAC match at No Mercy 2002 between Lesnar and Undertaker, Big Show attacked The Undertaker and threw him off the stage, putting him out of action until the Royal Rumble. At No Way Out, they had a one on one match, and A-Train got involved. Nathan Jones was a new Smackdown superstar, and on TV The Undertaker had taken him under his wing, so he began to help out the Dead Man against the 2 giants. Of course, all of that was pointless anyway, since The Undertaker would go alone against them anyway :p. Big Show and A-Train try to use the numbers game to take the early advantage, but ‘Taker is a wise old veteran and knows exactly what he needs to do. He even manages to hit a Chokeslam in the first minute of the match! A-Train is the victim of the move, and Show prevents the 3 count by pulling him out. Pretty funny hearing A-Train, a monstrous man in his own right, telling Big Show to “get him!” because he was unable to :p. Like I said, The Undertaker knows exactly what he needs to do in this match, so he is trying to end this one as quick as possible. Unfortunately, Show and A-Train are able to get the better of him eventually, and so the beat down of the Dead Man begins. ‘Taker tries to lock in a couple of submission holds in hopes of getting a quick tap out instead of a pin, which can be broken up easier. Show and A-Train decide that a submission victory might be a good idea too, and begin to take turns at locking in an abdominal stretch, cheating in the process. A-Train makes the mistake of getting cocky, and telling ‘Taker that he “ain’t so bad”, and even goes as far as to slap him in the face. This just pisses Big Evil off, and he starts a nice little come back. Show comes in to break up another pin attempt, and ‘Taker has had enough of the constant 2 on 1 attacks, so he just goes punch crazy, and eventually finds himself dominating his 2 opponents! Good fun! Show and A-Train again get the upper hand, with Show hitting his Chokeslam. Before he can go for a cover though, he runs out of the ring to meet Nathan Jones on the rampway! Jones levels Show with an awesome looking spinning kick, and then helps ‘Taker set up A-Train for a Tombstone, and the win! This match is a lot of fun, no doubt about that. It’s a very nicely worked handicap match too, but doesn’t really go beyond the basics of the handicap match formula, which stops it being a better match. That being said, it’s still a good match, and something I can easily sit through any time. **3/4.
Match 3 – Victoria Vs Trish Stratus Vs Jazz – Muuuuch better than last year’s triple threat. The dynamic of two heels and a babyface works better than 2 babyfaces and a heel tbh. As much as I like LITA she is a little sloppy in the ring lol, so with someone like Victoria in her place for this match, there is much less awkward looking spots and shitty looking moves lol. Stevie Richards is on the outside too to add a little to the match. He’s Victoria’s bitch. He ends up smacking himself in the head with a chair and taking a Bulldog from Trish. Victoria runs full speed into a Chick Kick and we gots our self a new women’s champion! Good diva match by WWE standards. **.
Rock cuts a promo. And I watch it. What is going on you think? Well, this happens to be quite possibly the best Rock promo ever. Not saying much I know, but I do really like it.
Match 4 – Team Angle Vs Los Guerreros Vs Rhyno & Chris Benoit – Tag titles time baby! Plenty of talent in this match (and Chavo Guerrero Jr). I liked the team of Benoit and Rhyno, especially for WM. Both guys missed last year’s WM with neck injuries, so it was cool for them to team together at this WM after recovering. Some great hard hitting action in this one, mainly with Eddie and Benoit when they go at it. Man, crazy to think they are both the main champions at the end of next year’s WM! Benoit launching Eddie into the air and catching him in a Crossface is SICK in the most awesome way possible. Rhyno hits quite possibly the best GORES ever during this match, and unfortunately it’s his GORE that ends the match… for the tag champs Team Angle. Huge fan of this. ***3/4.
Match 5 – Chris Jericho Vs Shawn Michaels – HBK’s first WM since 1998! Great story to the match going in, playing on real life, with Jericho having emulated and idolised Shawn growing up and when he first got into the business. But now Jericho wants to be the first Chris Jericho and wants to be bigger and better than HBK ever was. I like that this feud began building as far back as November 2002 (as far as I can remember) with the Elimination Chamber match at Survivor Series. Remember when they would build up feuds for WM over the space of a few months? Instead nowadays we get fatal four way matches 4 weeks before WM to decide who takes on the fucking STREAK. Start of the match is just basic wrestling holds and exchanges. Both are out to prove something here; Jericho wants to prove he’s better, and HBK wants to prove he’s still as good as he ever was. Some fun little things like HBK laying across the ropes to anger Jericho and showing that he can still be a cocky little bastard when he wants to be. Eventually Jericho gets a chance to work over the back of Shawn, and as we all know the back is what kept HBK out of wrestling since WM 14 in 1998. Nothing noteworthy from Jericho in all honesty, but things really start to pick up when Jericho gets cocky from being in control and starts emulating HBK’s move set, which drives HBK to make comebacks and show that he is still the best at doing those particular moves. The longer the match goes, the more HBK begins to feel like his old self, but Jericho seems to have a counter for just about anything Shawn can throw at him, so in the end a good old fashioned roll up finishes off Jericho, and HBK wins one more time at WM! Really good match overall. Some great storytelling and great action, with Jericho putting on a great performance, really having his first big WM match (let’s face it, triple threat at WM 2000 sucked, he was only in a short opener at WM 17, then although he was in the main event last year defending the title, his match was overshadowed to hell and the match blew too). Jericho hugging it out with Shawn at the end then kicking him in the balls was awesome. ****1/4.
GOLDBERG IS COMING! AND SO ARE LOTS OF PERVES WITH THE MILLER LITE CAT FIGHT GIRLS AND TORRIE WILSON AND STACY IN BED. They took the tag titles match off the card for that crap.
Match 6 – Triple H Vs Booker T – WHC match time. Apparently the build up to this was all about race, and how HHH didn’t think a black guy like Booker could be world champ. I swear I never thought any of this was race related back in the day. I just assumed HHH thought what I thought; that Booker shouldn’t be world champion because he’s fucking terrible! That being said, if there was ever a time for Booker to become world champ, it was here and now (maybe we could have been saved from the King Booker crap in 06. Imagine no King Booker as World Champ on SD 06… but instead someone GOOD. Oh god, I love SD 06 as it is, but if they had a great world champ that year? *day dreams about the potential awesomeness of that*). Referee Nick Partrick. Ric Flair on the outside. Booker T in the match. World Heavyweight Title on the line. This screams WCW all over. HHH’s entire 2003 was spent with him sucking 99% of the time and burying any WCW talent he came into contact with lol. Match revolves around Booker T trying to prove to the world and to HHH that he IS worthy of being a world champion. He is constantly fighting back from everything HHH throws at him, never really allowing HHH to get in full control until later in the match. This forces HHH to resort to things he usually wouldn’t do, including coming off the top rope, where Booker counters with a kick (ended up looking kinda like Booker hit a SCM lol). So with Booker T being able to come back and counter everything, Flair has to get involved to cause the unfair advantage. Using the steel steps he injures Booker’s knee, and now HHH can work over the leg and wear down his challenger. GIVE UP YOU DAMN FOOL! Flair on the outside is awesome. Crowd are pretty fucking DEAD for anything HHH does, but absolutely explode when Booker does anything. It’s like they all kinda EXPECTED Booker T to win so they bought into any pin attempt from him. And with how the build up went I guess I can’t blame them, even if I never for a second wanted him to win, or really thought it would (for the reasons that everyone else though he would, anyway). Lawler is awesome on commentary btw (shocking I know, he sucked pretty much since he returned after Survivor Series in 01). His jabs at Booker’s criminal background is awesome. HOUSTON HANGOVER! How many times did Booker do that in WWE? I remember him doing it to Big Show (Vengeance 02?), and then here. Any other times? Booker sells the leg tremendously, which leads into the finish. He tries to capitalise after the Houston Hangover, but just collapses and gets Pedigreed. HHH takes about 20 seconds to cover due to the fact he just took the Houston Hangover, and this one is over. Ask a Booker T fan about that and they’ll claim there was about a minute between the Pedigree and the cover lol. I always liked this match. Great stuff. Booker looked better here than he EVER (and I seriously mean that) did in his entire career. His best match ever not including large multi-man matches (where he was never a major part in those matches getting high ratings). ***3/4.
Match 7 – Vince McMahon Vs Hulk Hogan – Great build to this match, with plenty of genuine personal issues between them. It was a match people wanted to see. And then it happened. And it lasted 20 minutes. And I fucking hated it. BUT I hated Flair/Vince from the 02 RR, then when I watched it for my RR reviews a few months ago, I ended up loving it. Everyone else seems to love this match, so will my opinion change like Flair/Vince? Honestly I hope so because I don’t want to have sat through this only to still hate it lol. Worst spear/double leg take down from Hogan at the start, followed by some awful fucking punches lol. Whole thing is pretty dull until about half way in when Hogan decks McMahon with a chair and proceeds to beat the fuck out of him. LOL, highlight is poor old Hugo Savinovich getting decked with a chair and busted open too, when Vince ducks a chair shot. More chair shots. Both guys bleeding. Leg drop off a ladder through a table. Steel pipe comes out and we get that AWESOME visual of a crazy McMahon with blood pouring down his face as he raises up from the ring apron. PIPER! ROWDY RODDY PIPER!!! FINALLY, SOMETHING TO MAKE THIS MATCH INTERESTING! Teases hitting McMahon with the pipe, but he decks Hogan and we all saw it coming light years away. Hulk up, leg drop, win for Hogan. This is still shite. They could have condensed this into 5 minutes. Start with the chair shots, do the table spot, bring out the pipe, then Piper, then do the finish. 1/2*.
Match 8 – The Rock Vs Steve Austin – Third time at WM. Austin won the last 2 matches, now Rock is back from Hollywood because he has unfinished business. He’s done everything else, now all he has to do is beat Austin at WM before he can fully leave for Hollywood. Video package has Limp Bizkit, and is really good, though not quite on the level of WM 17. Austin is out to destroy Rock right from the start. He doesn’t NEED to beat Rock like Rock NEEDS to beat him, it’s more of a case of he WANTS to beat Rock to prevent Rock from beating him. Some sweet chop blocks from Rock send Austin crashing down, and Rock begins to work over the Rattlesnake. He even pulls out a Sharpshooter, nice call back spot from their previous WM match (or at least it can be viewed that way). Rock is feeling confident now, so he puts on Austin’s vest to add insult to injury, but it just seems to anger Austin. ROCK BOTTOM BY AUSTIN, WHILE ROCK IS WEARING AUSTIN’S VEST. STUNNER BY ROCK WHILE WEARING AUSTIN’S VEST. Match turns into a giant finishing stretch from here, with plenty of finisher kick outs, but unlike a lot of matches these days it makes sense given the story. 3 Rock Bottoms from The Rock is what finally puts Austin down. Just like it took 3 matches at WM for Rock to finally win. All goes back to the great promo Rock cut earlier in the night. “The only thing that matters, everyone remembers… is ACT 3”, and that is what this match is. Act 3. Where Rock finally wins, and does it with 3 Rock Bottoms, but the first two don’t matter because everyone just remembers the final one that puts Austin away. Just a wonderfully simple story told in a great way combined with a great match to begin with. And while we didn’t know it at the time, this would also be Austin’s last match. Should have been Rock’s too tbh, because he didn’t do shit worth mentioning following this. Absolutely nothing he’s done has even come remotely close to being as good as this. I’m a bigger fan of this match than most people, and even on this watch, I’d place it ahead of their WM 17 match. ****1/2.
Match 9 – Kurt Angle Vs Brock Lesnar – The match that almost never happened. Angle’s neck was fucked going into WM, and nobody was sure if the match could happen. Remember the match on SD where they did the Eric Angle switch? Originally they were going to put the title on Lesnar there (fuck knows who would have been his WM opponent). But Angle agreed to wrestle at WM and then go for neck surgery, and thus this match was still able to take place. I was hyped as fuck for this one back in the day. Haven’t seen it in a while either so I’m looking forward to it again. Their SummerSlam match is a ***** match imo, and their Iron Man is probably the best Iron Man match ever (Rude/Steamboat comes close). These two had great chemistry all stemming from their competitive nature due to their amateur wrestling backgrounds. Basic mat stuff in the beginning as both men use their amateur backgrounds to try and gain control and prove who the better WRESTLER is. Ends up being a stalemate so out come the GERMAN’S and Lesnar takes them better than guys half his size. Fucking LOVE the one into the turnbuckle; works perfectly with Lesnar having injured ribs, giving Angle something to focus on. Lesnar is still a fucking BEAST though and keeps fighting back and using his power when he can, but Angle continues to try and wear down his young challenger using those injured ribs to his advantage. Angle tries everything he can to keep Lesnar down, including the deadly Ankle Lock, but nothing is going to derail the next big thing tonight. F-5! Angle kicks out, so Lesnar hits another… but doesn’t go for a cover. Instead Lesnar tries for a WM moment… SHOOTING STAR PRESS! And he lands on his head. OUCH. Great visual, and a crazy moment that will forever be remembered at WM… but damn, in the words of Tazz “HOW IS LESNAR NOT DEAD?”. Lesnar managed to get another F-5 in, and he becomes the new WWE champion! Thought this was mostly really fucking good, but the finish falls flat (on its head…) after the botched SSP unfortunately. Doesn’t affect my opinion on the match too much, but enough to lower my old rating just a little bit. Still, a great main event for WM. ****.