June 15, 2003
Buy Rate: .75
Announcers: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
Sunday Night Heat
Ivory (Lisa Moretti) defeats Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald)
Pay Per View
1) Rodney Mack (Rodney Begnaud) & Chris Nowinski defeat The Dudley Boys when Nowinski pinned Bubba Ray (Ray Lomonica) after hitting him with his face guard at 7:07
Fun Fact: To continue building heat, Rodney Mack and Teddy Long began issuing “White Boy Challenges” where Mack would issue an open challenge to any white competitor on the roster. On the 5/19 Raw, he defeated Spike Dudley. A week later, Mack took out Bubba Ray Dudley with an assist from his running buddy, Chris Nowinski. Despite the differences in skin color, Nowinski and Mack had similar outlooks on the rest of their peers and Nowinski was welcomed into Long’s enterprises. Finally, on the 6/9 Raw, Mack picked up another win, this time over D-Von Dudley. Before the PPV on Sunday Night Heat, Nowinski, Mack and Long confronted D-Von and told him they believed he was being discriminated against within his own family. Long offered D-Von a spot in his stable and Nowinski left D-Von to ponder the question: “Why do you always have to get the table?”
Fun Fact II: Chris Nowinski is wearing a face mask due to recent surgery he had on for a broken nose. Despite being quite talented on the mic and a solid worker in the ring, Nowinski was injury prone. A week after this show, Nowinski suffered a serious concussion at a house show in Hartford, CT. He kept wrestling, but a few weeks later the post concussion syndrome symptoms drove him to the sidelines. He rested and waited, but a year went by and the symptoms remained, forcing Nowinski to officially retire. Nowinski would remain a spokesman for WWE and also became a pioneer in studying the affects of concussion on the brains of athletes. In 2007, Nowinski co-founded the Sports Legacy Institute to aid in his research and mission to add safety precautions to the contact sports world.
Scott: So the problem here with having brand-only PPVs is that you’re going to get a match or two that you wouldn’t pay to see. This is clearly an example of that. This match is not good as all, as many moves are incomplete or just downright sloppy. I really didn’t like the Dudleys during this stretch as their gimmick was clearly stale and their in-ring work is pretty bad. Mack and Nowinski have no chemistry together. So put that combination together and this match is a big time stinker. They have the whole storyline where Teddy Long gets into D-Von’s head and tells him that Bubba Ray mistreats him because of his color. That leads to heel chicanery and Rodney Mack actually gets a PPV win. So does Chris Nowinski for that matter. So even from a historical perspective this match has no lasting impact. Not good, so let’s move on. Grade: .5
Justin: A little over a year since the WWE Draft, we finally get brand specific shows. And the first opener on the first Raw show features a heated affair between two teams heading in different directions. Nowinski and Mack were starting to gel nicely, garner some heat and inject some fresh blood into the tag division. The Dudleys, well, they still get the pops for the tables, but they just feel stale and old out there. Mack was still undefeated here and had picked up wins on all three Dudleys in the weeks leading up to the show. Despite my viewpoints on the Dudleys, the crowd was actually pretty into them here. To combat the solid teamwork of the Dudleys, Nowinski and Mack used distractions to take control. Mack actually had some nice offense despite the match being quite disjointed on a whole. Once the Dudleys took over, Bubba ordered D-Von to get the table, but Teddy Long hopped on the apron and told D-Von to think things over. That slight distraction allowed Nowinski to paste Bubba with his face guard to pick up the upset win. The match was a bit messy but I was glad to see the Dudleys lay down here and also work pretty hard to help get the young guys over. This was a decent enough opener and it did get the crowd going, which is really the main goal of the bout. Grade: 1.5
*** To add a little comedy to the PPV, Co GMs Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff competed in a Redneck Triathlon. The two had been arguing over who should get top billing in the promotion of the PPV so Austin issued the challenge. On the 6/9 Raw, Austin and Bischoff spun a big wheel to determine the triathlon events. The first one to come up was a pie eating contest. Austin quickly explained that this wasn’t a normal pie eating contest, but it would be a poontang pie eating contest, much to the delight of Eric. The first event of the night was the burping contest. The segment ran a bit long and was kind of lame but it got some laughs from the crowd. Austin would win with a clearly overdubbed burp. ***
2) Scott Steiner (Scott Rechsteiner) defeats Test (Andrew Martin) with a downward spiral at 6:23 to win Stacy Keibler’s managerial services
Fun Fact: On the 5/19 Raw, Test and Steiner lost another match to La Resistance after a mid match collision. After the loss, the two men started arguing over Stacy with both pulling her arms. Stacy finally got fed up and walked off alone. A week later, Stacy announced that Test and Steiner would no longer team up but that she would manage both. That night, Test was facing Booker T. During the match, Booker went for a baseball slide, but test yanked Stacy in the way and she took the brunt of the kick. That drew Steiner out to check on her, distracting Test and giving Booker the win. The next week, Stacy dumped Test, but he reminded her that she was contractually obligated to manage him. Later that night, Bischoff made a match between Steiner and Test for the PPV with the winner gaining Stacy’s managerial services. Finally, on the 6/9 Raw, Test took out Steiner and then warned Stacy about the impending result of the PPV match.
Scott: Now on paper this is match I would skip watching entirely. Yet the ancillary pieces to this make it manageable. First off the crowd is red hot for Steiner. Maybe because Test has played such a great slimy douchebag, but when the sirens go off the place goes nuts. It also helps that he’s in a harmless mid-card feud and not clogging up the main events. Now the fact that Stacy Keibler’s services were up for grabs too makes this a very enticing match as well. The match itself is typical with two sloppy power guys. Steiner is definitely sloppy, but Test is usually pretty reliable and even he at times looks a little out of it. Stacy’s hot so that again helps it a little. Steiner wins and gets the trophy, complete with multiple crotch shots. Let’s move on…again. Grade: 1
Justin: After a month long tenuous relationship, Test and Steiner split and go to war to earn the services of Stacy. The match gets off to a messy start when Steiner slips off the apron and falls to the floor while attempting to jump down onto Test. Despite that, Steiner would start hot until Test used Stacy as a shield to turn the tide. He would work Steiner over with his usual power offense and that led up to a pretty finishing sequence. Test would shove Stacy, but Steiner came to her aid and picked up the win to a good pop. Stacy was finally free from Test and she looked elated at Steiner saving her. This angle has been pretty good but the match left a lot to be desired. Despite the result, this feud isn’t quite over just yet. Grade: 1.5
*** Backstage, Bischoff introduces Austin to a group of ladies he has selected for the pie eating contest. Austin agrees to let Eric go first if Austin is allowed to pick the lady. Eric agreed to the deal. ***
3) Booker T (Booker Huffman) defeats Christian (Jay Reso) by disqualification at 7:53; Christian retains WWE Intercontinental Championship
Fun Fact: The night after Judgment Day, Christian appeared on Chris Jericho’s Highlight Reel and debuted a new look. He now had short hair and was looking a little more legitimate because of it. Christian and Jericho would battle Rob Van Dam and Kane, but they would be disqualified when they set Kane up for a Conchairto. Before they could unleash it, Booker ran out to make the save. A week later, Booker picked up a win over Test while Christian lost a non title match to Booker’s pal Goldust. The next week, Chris Jericho was busy running from Goldberg, so Christian stepped into host the Highlight Reel and renamed it the Peep Show. His guest was none other than the Rock. After an entertaining back and forth, Jericho made an appearance and he and Christian beat down Rock until Booker made the save. Booker would drop a People’s Elbow and then convince Rock to do a Spinarooni. Booker would pin Christian later that night in a tag team match. On the 6/9 Raw, Booker and Christian had a funny Spinarooni showdown in which Christian even cracked Booker up with his dance moves. The contest would end with a Christian beat down.
Scott: We finally have our first moderately good match of this show, as the Book and the head Peep tussle for the IC Title. Christian cuts his hair and changes his tights, which is a major improvement for him and one that would serve him well over the next few years in his career. It makes him more of a player and less of a mid-card flunky. Booker T is settled into a nice role of solid mid-carder who’s always on TV and who both cuts solid promos and puts on a decent match. It was very smart to bring back the Intercontinental Title for its something else to give Raw a match and feud. Next month Smackdown will go along the same path. The match is solid and even with the schmozz, which was disappointing considering we’re in Booker’s hometown and a win would have been nice. Oh well, the match was solid and an upgrade from the first two debacles we had to watch. Grade: 2
Justin: I was definitely a big fan of Christian’s new look. I thought his long hair was outdated and just made him look like a mid carder. The tight hair cut actually made him look bigger and added a main event level feel to him. He was also starting to deliver on a consistent basis, especially in the awesome Spinarooni contest. Booker got a nice hometown welcome and the fans were clearly behind him here. The match was pretty standard with the usual back and forth until the lame DQ finish. The crowd was pretty pissed off at that one as they wanted Booker to win badly. The bookers were in a corner here as they wanted Christian to hang onto the belt, but wanted to keep Booker looking strong. So, they have Christian take the easy way out to retain his title. The match was solid enough, but was nothing great. Christian’s continues to look like a weak champion and Booker is still hot on his trail. Grade: 2
*** Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff head out to the ring for the pie eating contest. Austin then brings out his choice for Bischoff: Mae Young. Moolah walks her halfway out and then quickly retreats as Mae hits the ring, decked out in some horrid lingerie. Eric doesn’t want any part of her, but Austin reminds him that a forfeit here would mean a loss. Bischoff’s pride gets in the way and he makes out with Mae. Austin enjoys it but tells Eric that this is a pie eating contest, so he needs to eat the pie to win. So, Mae gets a low blow on Eric and then gives him a nasty bronco buster in the corner. Austin has a good laugh and then drops Mae with a lame looking stunner for no reason. Austin forfeits the contest and we are tied at one. The segment was a waste and the Mae Young joke was pretty played out at this point. The stunner was an even dumber idea given Austin’s history of spousal abuse. ***
4) La Resistance defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) & Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) to win World Tag Team Titles when Sylvan Grenier pinned Van Dam with a double spinebuster at 5:47
Fun Fact: On the 5/26 Raw, Sylvan Grenier defeated Rob Van Dam in a flag match to earn a tag title match here. A week later, Rene Dupree picked up an upset win over Kane. After the match, Steve Austin came out and verbally attacked Kane, challenging him to get motivated and show some fire again. Austin even slapped him and then dropped him with a Stunner when Kane refused to fight back. The next week, RVD pinned Dupree, but La Res put the boots to RVD after. Kane didn’t make the save and RVD was fuming. Later that night, RVD ripped into Kane backstage for leaving him hanging.
Scott: You knew that the evil Frenchmen were going to win this match, as Vince loves traipsing out evil foreign wrestlers and tag teams to piss fans off. These two particularly got under the fans’ skin and now they were holding World Tag Team gold. The match itself isn’t that great, as RVD can only do so much with what he’s given. Kane is a serviceable big guy, but his days of three star matches are over. He’s fine for power moves, and the fire out of the posts but that pretty much is it. Dupree and Grenier are in great shape, but still very green and not quite ready to carry matches. So all in all it was kind of a mess. La Res wins the straps, and the RVD/Kane run is coming to an end. Kane will experience a major change that’s still debated to this day. Grade: .5
Justin: RVD and Kane were still hanging on to the titles heading in here despite having some chemistry issues. RVD was in early but he succumbed to the improved La Res double teams. Kane would finally come in and looked quite strong as he fought off Dupree and Grenier. Unfortunately, as he was cleaning house he also took out RVD by accident. That allowed La Res to drop RVD with the double team spinebuster and steal the titles. This was a pretty big upset at the time but you could see that they were lining up Kane for a big push and that his team with RVD was coming to end. La Res is now on top of the tag team mountain as 2003’s most popular team quickly disintegrates. This was short and energetic and got the main points across. Grade: 1.5
5) Goldberg defeats Chris Jericho with a jackhammer at 10:53
Fun Fact: Goldberg and Chris Jericho had heat dating back to WCW. In 1998, Goldberg was World Champion and Jericho was carrying on a feud between the two by himself. He would challenge Goldberg each week and find different ways to humiliate him. Jericho assumed WCW was letting him build up an angle with a World title match blowoff. For whatever reasons, WCW decided not to give him the chance and that lack of faith was one of the deciding factors in Jericho jumping ship. There were rumors at the time that Goldberg did not want to feud with a wrestler perceived as a mid card cruiserweight no matter much heat he was garnering. He had no support from Eric Bischoff either as he sided with Goldberg. Upon his arrival in WWE, Goldberg ended up exchanged some words with Jericho backstage and a brawl broke out. Jericho ended up hooking Goldberg in a front face lock and driving him to the ground, earning a lot of locker room respect for taking down Goldberg and standing his ground.
Fun Fact II: On the 5/12 Raw, Goldberg was the victim of an attempted hit and run as he arrived in his limo. The next week, GM Austin began interrogating wrestlers backstage to see who was behind the attack. He would unearth the culprit when he forced Lance Storm to admit he was the assailant but also told Austin he was working for someone. Storm refused to give up his partner, so his punishment was a match with Goldberg, which happened later that night. After a quick squash, Goldberg forced Storm to drop the dime on his cohort and Storm told him that Jericho was the mastermind. On the 5/23 Raw, Jericho officially challenged Goldberg to a match. He told Goldberg that he was jealous of Goldberg in WCW and that he still had hard feelings about being ducked by the then champion. Goldberg came running out, but Jericho blinded him with pepper spray and then dropped him with a spear. The next week, Jericho dumped paint all over Goldberg’s car to further egg him on. Finally, on the 6/9 Raw, Jericho would put Goldberg down with a chair to get one last shot in before the PPV.
Scott: The first of our triple main event actually has a legit backstory and some drama. There were always rumors that Jericho & Goldberg didn’t get along in WCW, mostly because Goldberg was pushed hard quickly and forgot where he came from. Jericho mentions that in his promos leading up to the match and that no one in WWE wanted Goldberg here. I don’t know if that’s totally true but it’s come out recently that Goldberg was not always the easiest to get along with during this run. Regardless this match is actually ok. Jericho bumps to Goldberg’s power moves and although it was padded, the visual of the big guy spearing through the barricade was pretty cool. It was pretty clear that Goldberg was going to win since at the time it was assumed he would have an inevitable battle with Triple H but Jericho was at least going to make the match entertaining. Goldberg wins and moves on to the final step on his journey to the World Title. Since beating Steve Austin at No Way Out 2002, Jericho’s PPV record is under .500. Grade: 2.5
Justin: Goldberg enters here to a pretty good pop despite not looking very strong each week on Raw. Many pundits were bemoaning the fact that Goldberg was looking too vulnerable in weekly matches and that he wasn’t allowed to look like a monster as he did in WCW. His feud with Jericho had some legit heat behind it, so this match here was filled with some good drama and was well worked. Although as the match wore on the crowd actually was split on who to root for and by the end, the majority was rooting for Jericho. Goldberg would dominate early, but things turned when Jericho dodged a spear and Goldberg crashed through the security barricade. Jericho did a great job working the arm and Goldberg was impressive with his selling. After some back and forth, Goldberg crunched Jericho with a nice spear and then dropped him with a jackhammer for the win. This was a solid, hard fought match and was definitely Goldberg’s best bout in WWE to this point. They had good chemistry and Goldberg looked strong in the end. He continues to roll on, but I agree that he needs to start looking dominant if he is going to be a major Raw player. Jericho is bulletproof at this point, so the loss doesn’t affect him as he moves on. Grade: 2.5
6) Ric Flair (Richard Fliehr) defeats Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) after a Randy Orton chair shot at 14:18
Fun Fact: The night after Judgment Day, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels had a discussion where Michaels said that Flair should continue to be “the man” on his own and not ride Triple H’s coattails. That night Flair challenged Triple H to a World Heavyweight Title match, which Triple H accepted. That night in Greenville, Flair almost won the title and after Raw went off the air the entire roster came out and honored Flair in the ring. Triple H put the title over Flair’s shoulder and he was hoisted on Triple H’s and Bubba Ray Dudley’s shoulders. The following week both men were in the ring and Michaels said that when he was a kid he wanted to be Ric Flair, including dying his hair blonde and putting tape on his face to cover fake cuts after matches. Flair seemed honored, but later in the night when they were slated to be tag team partners; Flair turned on Michaels and low blowed him, saying that HBK was nothing more than a “Ric Flair rip-off”. Also that night, Randy Orton returned to Raw. With a ski mask over his face, he jumped Kevin Nash in the back during the tag team main event. Nash would make it to the ring, but Orton would aid Triple H and Flair in beating down Nash and Michaels. A week later, Shawn came out during an Evolution promo and told Flair that he wasn’t a little boy anymore and that he was ready to take Flair out.
Fun Fact II: Ric Flair has said on multiple occasions that this was the match that finally snapped him out of the funk he had been in since late in his WCW tenure. Due to all the brow beating from various sources in Atlanta, Flair’s self worth was in the dumps and he no longer viewed himself as a legend of the ring. Despite putting out solid work in his WWE tenure thus far, it took this match and subsequent celebration to make him realize his place in wrestling history.
Scott: A match made for the ages, at least on paper. Two of arguably the greatest superstars in the history of the business finally got together into the ring. You would think this would be saved for a bigger venue, like a Wrestlemania or a Summerslam, but when you’re doing single-brand PPVs, you really can’t hold off any kind of matches because you need to fill the card and have to try no to put any crap on. So here we are, and for the first 2/3 of the match it was super. The psychology between them is perfect, and they went back and forth with some great chain wrestling. Flair is clearly out of his funk from when he came back in late-2001 and for a man his age he can still deliver a good match. Rumors were they were going to make this match go 30 minutes, which may have been ok, but that would have cut into the ridiculous Redneck Triathlon and they seemed to really want to hammer that home on this night so they cut this match essentially in half. I would rather have watched at least five more minutes of this match then Bischoff being thrown into a hog pen. It seems the writers had their hands tied as to how they could lay this show out. This show had seven matches and still ended about 25 minutes early, so the Redneck Triathlon was added to fill the time. However maybe the women’s match on Heat could have been added and maybe add five to ten minutes to this match and shorten the Triathlon nonsense. The other reason for this match was to push the young stud Randy Orton, who has been getting back into the swing of things after his ankle injury in February. Remember, him and Batista both were injured in the same match. He comes in, takes Sweet Chin Music, but then lays out Michaels with a chair shot and Flair gets the win. Orton’s still pretty green but he has the charisma and the pedigree to be a superstar. For now, he’s going along for the ride. The winner of the match is irrelevant but it was a great match as expected and continues the feud between Michaels and Triple H in a sense that’s been going on since last August. Grade: 3.5
Justin: For the first time since 1991, Shawn Michaels gets to step in the ring against his idol in a one on one matchup. This was definitely a PPV dream match and it also signaled the full time return to action of Shawn Michaels. It was shortly after this match that Shawn decided he would hit the road on a regular basis as well as compete on TV on a consistent schedule as well. Shawn gets a good pop from the fans, but the Nature Boy did as well. It was painfully clear how badly the fans wanted Flair to be a face that they could rally behind. Flair, however, was feeling rejuvenated and wanted to be a heel. After his fantastic performance against Triple H on Raw, Flair’s self confidence was finally restored and he started to carry himself like the legend he was instead of the beaten dog he had been acting like since 2000. They would keep it on the mat early until Flair went to school and started working the leg. Michaels would survive a lengthy figure four but Flair would maintain control and do a great job of it. Randy Orton makes his return here as well as he was healed from his injuries. He had returned on Raw and hooks right back up with Flair and Triple H. The table bump was cool, but as I have spoken about before, it really wasn’t needed. These two could work the crowd perfectly without contrived gimmick spots and it was just overkill. It did get a good pop, though, so I guess it did its job. Orton would come in again and paste Michaels with a chair to give Flair the win in a fun match. I liked the finish here because neither Flair nor Michaels needed a clean win, so this gives some much needed heat to Orton. It also sets up a potential feud for Randy. This match was harkened the full time commitment of Shawn Michaels, the return of Ric Flair’s ego and confidence and provided a canvas for Randy Orton to begin his climb to the upper echelon of WWE stars. Grade: 3
*** The final competition of the Redneck Triathlon was to be a singing contest. Bischoff came out first and lip synched his own theme song in a funny spot. Austin doesn’t like the singing contest idea and after Eric’s awful performance, he spins the wheel again and ensures it ends on pigpen match. Austin came down, smacked Bischoff around and tossed him in the pigpen that was by the entrance way. The Triathlon was a cute idea, but it ended up being a waste of time and could have been cut down to one segment at the most. ***
7) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Kevin Nash in a Hell in a Cell match to retain World Heavyweight Championship with a Pedigree at 21:01
Fun Fact: The night after Judgment Day, where Nash won over Triple H by DQ, co-GM Steve Austin announced that Nash would get one more shot at the World Title. Later in the night, after Triple H’s match with Ric Flair, Nash came down to the ring and the two men brawled. With Triple H laying on the ramp, Austin walked up to him and said it would be a Hell in a Cell match to avoid any shenanigans. On the 5/26 Raw Evolution attacked Nash after a match. The following week on 6/2, Nash, Shawn Michaels and the Hurricane defeated Evolution in a six man tag team match. After the match Nash dropped Triple H with a Powerbomb.
Fun Fact II: None of the contracted referees would referee the match in the Cell, going back to when Tim White’s refereeing career ended in the Cell at Judgment Day 2002 when Triple H defeated Chris Jericho. So Austin needed to find someone crazy enough to referee a volatile match inside the Cell. Enter Mick Foley, who hadn’t been on camera since late-2000 and whose last singles match was against Triple H inside Hell in a Cell at No Way Out 2000. Austin made the announcement on 6/9 and Triple H tried to intimidate Foley into backing out of refereeing the match because Triple H retired Foley in 2000. Foley didn’t back down and eventually he and Nash brawled with Triple H to end the show.
Fun Fact III: In late 2001, Mick Foley and Vince McMahon had a falling out backstage and Foley was starting to feel that he had reached the end of the line with his character. On air, Vince fired Foley as GM and he immediately left the company, harboring some ill will. After spending nearly two years out of the spotlight, Foley thought things over and decided to return to the promotion that had made him a star.
Scott: Our main event is a bloody brawl between two real-life best friends. The match is certainly not the best Cell match ever, but after watching a third time after seeing both live and a while back on WWE 24/7 Online, it’s not a terrible match. The cell is used for its usual Irish Whips and face raking, but otherwise a non-factor. Foley’s annoying in this role, as he’s stopping Triple H from using weapons against Big Sexy, who I won’t call Big Daddy Cruel since this is his last singles main event match, and he didn’t trash it. If it’s for trying to stack the deck against Triple H that’s fine, but it wasn’t booked as such when Foley kept saying “I’m only here to count to three.” He gets beaten down by Evolution after the match which actually is the catalyst for a great feud that starts later in the year. We have our normal cache of weapons like sledgehammers, chairs and steel steps but then we get things like apple crates, screwdrivers and ball peen hammers. I chuckled at seeing all that weird stuff but it didn’t take away from the match any for me. Nash did about as well as he was going to under the circumstances. Triple H went through his usual motions so really this wasn’t an overly offensive match because neither guy really did more or less for it. Adding Foley may have created more violence and blood but I could have gone either way. If it was a normal referee I would have been fine with that. This feud effectively ends and now that we’re going with brand-only PPVs, Raw needs to find new feuds to build from now until Summerslam. We’ll see what develops as we get there but Triple H vanquishes his third opponent on this super-run as World Heavyweight Champion. Grade: 2.5
Justin: This lukewarm Clique feud rages on as Kevin Nash gets one last crack at the title inside the steel cage. The fans over the last few weeks had blatantly been begging for anyone else besides Nash to be in this match. After Ric Flair stepped back in time and tore it up with Hunter on Raw, the internet groundswell began and everyone was calling for Flair to take Nash’s place in the Cell. Once it was clear that wasn’t going to happen, many people were hoping the special guest ref Mick Foley could take Nash’s spot as well. In the end, though, Vince stuck with the original plan and let Nash have the match despite the reactions of the fans. Foley was added to be the main bump man for Hunter, though. Foley would get the biggest pop of the three and Hunter warns him to call things down the middle when he comes out. Nash would unleash his usual methodical offense early before things broke down into a decent weapons brawl with Hunter using a hammer on Nash in a pretty cool spot. He also worked in a screwdriver shot which was cool as well. I did like the usage of various weapons here to help add some interest to things. Despite the use of weapons, the match was kind of blah throughout and the crowd was quiet as well. Things did pick up down the stretch though, starting with Nash dropping Hunter on a barbed wire bat with Snake Eyes and followed by a great Hunter bladejob. He would battle back, grab a chair and paste both Nash and Foley with it. Foley, also busted open, would bust out Mr. Socko to a huge pop. Nash took advantage and dropped Hunter with the Jackknife for a good near fall. Hunter would fight him off, drop the Pedigree and pick up the solid title defense. The second half of the match carried it completely, thanks to Hunter’s bleeding, Foley’s bumping and Nash working hard. While the match may not have been the best Cell match ever, it certainly wasn’t the worst either. Nash’s main event run is pretty much done though and he would step back to the upper mid card for a while. Grade: 3
Scott: The first PPV to feature only one show’s roster pretty much played out like I thought it would. The first two matches were pretty awful but the show got a little better as it went along. I thought the Redneck Triathlon was kind of boring, and thought that Austin and Bischoff’s interaction in the skybox at Judgment Day was funnier. La Resistance is the new heel tag team on the block, but still very green to be able to really carry matches. Goldberg vanquished Chris Jericho, who continues to lose one PPV match after another after being Undisputed Champion over a year earlier. His record after defeating Steve Austin at No Way Out 2002 is 5-10. And that includes a Rumble and a Battle Royal. Talk about having to pay for success. The company thought he was a failure but I think he’s doing fine and in a couple of months takes the next step, although a misguided one by others, to the World Title. Michaels/Flair was solid, although it could have been a few minutes longer even with the chicanery at the end. The Cell match was pretty standard, nothing overwhelming but it wasn’t Boss Man/Undertaker levels either. Overall the show could be considered an extended version of Raw, but it still had a more special feeling to it than a regular Raw. Next month Smackdown gets its first crack at its own PPV. The show definitely was lower than average, but it rebounded late to be more than a complete flop. Final Grade: D+
Justin: Raw’s first solo PPV is a fairly weak outing. Before the last two matches, you could argue it was one of the most pedestrian PPVs of all time. And it wasn’t even actively bad as much as it was just blah. It felt like a three hour Raw, to be honest. The last two matches saved it to an extent, but even those matches were merely good and not great. Booker was buried in his hometown, robbing the Houston fans of a nice moment. RVD & Kane have fallen apart and we have new tag team champions. Goldberg picked up a good win, but he has really been made to look like just another wrestler instead of a dominant star. Flair and Michaels put on a good showing and Randy Orton looked strong as well. The main event was solid, but it could have been a lot better with a hotter challenger that actually stood a chance of winning. It was good to see Foley back in the promotion after a year and a half away. He will take off again, but would be back before the year was out. The Triathlon stuff was pretty weak and was really just there to fill up time. Maybe that should have been the first indication that the brand specific shows were going to be hard to fill out. I do like the idea though as it allowed the mid card feuds to get PPV time instead of the guys all floating aimlessly on Raw each week. On the other hand, it was exactly those matches that make this feel like Raw instead of PPV. We will have to see if these shows start to shed that feel as we move along throughout the year. In the end, this PPV was fine to kill a few hours worth if you are geared up to watch some 2003 era Raw action, but isn’t really one that I would be dying to watch again. Final Grade: D+
MVP: Ric Flair & Shawn Michaels
Runner Up: Triple H, Kevin Nash & Mick Foley
Non MVP: Booker T.
Runner Up: Redneck Triathlon