May 18, 2003
Charlotte, North Carolina
Buy Rate: .62
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz
Sunday Night Heat
The Hurricane (Gregory Helms) defeats Steven Richards
Pay Per View
Fun Fact: This is the final co-branded non Big Four PPV until No Way Out 2007. Starting next month, each brand would split the secondary shows throughout the year.
Fun Fact II: With Eric Bischoff abusing his power continuously as the General Manager on Raw, something needed to be done. So on the 4/28 Raw Linda McMahon pulls up in a limousine and heads to the ring. She says that something needs to be done to correct the corruption on Raw. So Linda says the Board of Directors met and decided that Bischoff must now share the General Manager duties. And with that returns the now-retired Steve Austin to a big pop and Bischoff gets stunned right out of the gate. The following week Austin made it clear that he wanted to re-hire Jim Ross, but Bischoff comes out with Chief Morley and he re-fires him. They go back and forth until finally making a match between Jerry Lawler and Morley for JR’s job for later in the night. After Lawler’s victory JR got his job back, Austin stunned Jonathan Coachman out the door, and a furious Bischoff fires Morley for blowing it.
Fun Fact III: The night after Wrestlemania, Steve Austin came to the ring and admitted that Rock was the better man at Wrestlemania. He asked Rock to come out to shake hands, but instead Eric Bischoff appeared. He announced that he was suspicious of Austin’s motives because he discovered a secret about Austin. That secret was that his own doctors were telling Austin that his back is all screwed up and he wasn’t cleared to wrestle at Wrestlemania. Austin denied it and claimed he wanted to keep wrestling, but Bischoff fires him for lying. The firing would effectively end Austin’s in ring career due to severe neck injuries.
*** Before the show starts, new Co-General Manager Steve Austin comes out to chat. He welcomes the fans to the show, has a beer with Tazz and heads up to the luxury box to watch the show. ***
1) John Cena, Chuck Palumbo & Johnny Stamboli (John Hugger) defeat Chris Benoit, Rhyno (Terry Gerin) and Spanky (Brian Kendrick) when Stamboli pins Spanky with the Kiss of Death at 3:58
Fun Fact: Brian Kendrick began his career in 1999 when he began attending Shawn Michaels’ wrestling school. He was given the nickname Spanky and made his professional debut in October of that year. A year later, he was signed to a developmental contract by the then WWF. He was there for a year until MCW closed and Kendrick was given his release. He bounced around the Indies a bit, seeing his greatest success in the fledgling Ring of Honor promotion and with Zero-1 promotion in Japan. He resigned with WWE in late 2002, and made his TV debut on the 1/9/03 Velocity, wrestling under a mask that promoted the local sports team. He did this for a few weeks, until he was utilized by Paul Heyman in his feud with Undertaker. Kendrick played the signing telegram delivery man that ate a Last Ride after annoying Taker. After that incident, Kendrick began trying to win over Stephanie McMahon to earn a contract. During this run, he had a memorable night when Sean O’Haire convinced his to streak through the arena. Kendrick would finally earn that deal and would make his nickname known on the May 1 Smackdown.
Fun Fact II: Johnny Stamboli was one of the WCW wrestlers that Vince brought on board after purchasing the promotion. He debuted in WCW in late 1999 as one half of the mafia themed tag team the Mamalukes. He bounced around their hardcore division and also hooked up with the Natural Born Thrillers group until WCW went under. Stamboli made one appearance as a member of the Alliance before being sent to developmental. He returned to the big time on the 6/30/02 Heat. On the 7/15 Raw, he defeated Bradshaw for the Hardcore Championship. That reign was short lived as Bradshaw won it back that same night. On the 7/29 Raw, he beat Jeff Hardy to again win the title. Once again, however, he lost it back to Bradshaw just mere seconds later. After that, he spent most of his time on Heat, where the fans got behind him and turned him face. On the 2/13 Smackdown, he showed up alongside Nunzio and Chuck Palumbo to attack Rikishi. The three men would become a solid unit known as the Full Blooded Italians, or FBI.
Fun Fact III: Nunzio was actually a pretty familiar face in the wrestling world. Prior to joining WWE, Nunzio plied his trade in ECW under the name Little Guido. He joined ECW in 1995 under the name Damien Stone, but he was quickly rebranded as Little Guido. Once that happened, he joined up with the comedy stable Full Blooded Italians alongside Tracy Smothers, JT Smith and Tommy Rich. In 1999, he quit playing the comedy role and took on a more serious attitude. With his heavy, Sal E. Graziano, backing him up, Guido was involved in some intense feuds and classic matches. He would begin to team with Tony Mamaluke and they would be one of the final teams to hold the ECW tag team championships. Guido stayed with ECW until it folded in 2001. Guido bounced around the Indies, putting out a solid run in Ring of Honor, before being signed by WWE in late 2002. Guido debuted under the name Nunzio and portrayed Jamie Noble’s cousin. He showed up on the 12/12 Smackdown and attacked Crash Holly after he had beaten Noble. The cousin angle quickly disappeared and Nunzio reformed the FBI in February 2003. Since their formation, the FBI did their best to be a thorn in the side of Undertaker at the behest of Mr. McMahon. They would constantly interfere in his matches and even cost him his championship tournament match with John Cena before Backlash.
Fun Fact IV: On the 5/1 Smackdown, John Cena came out to cut a rap promo. He was quickly interrupted by Spanky, who told Cena he wanted a battle rap. He drafted referee Brian Hebner into providing a sweet beatbox for his background and Spanky delivered a great rap. An angry Cena attacked Spanky and dropped him with the newly christened F-U. Later that night, Palumbo and Stamboli picked up a tainted tag team win over Chris Benoit and Rhyno. A week later, Rhyno beat John Cena thanks to an assist from Spanky. Finally, on the 5/15 Smackdown, Cena took on Benoit, but lost by DQ when Nunzio interfered. A huge brawl triggered after the match with Benoit, Rhyno and Spanky battling Cena and the FBI.
Scott: An interesting if average opener. This was pretty much to get Benoit on the PPV since he’s been essentially shoved to the backburner since his title match with Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble. The FBI was growing as a little faction on Smackdown, getting under the Undertaker’s skin for a couple of months. Rhyno, Cena and Spanky were put in there to fill the match out. It wasn’t bad but it was only four minutes so they didn’t really develop anything in the match. Spanky eats the pin and Benoit’s non-descript year continues. Grade: 2
Justin: The hot Charlotte crowd welcomes John Cena and his rap with some rock solid heat to kick off our next PPV outing. I must say that it was refreshing to see some new faces show up here on PPV. Spanky gets things off to a hot start but things would turn quickly. After teaming for the last few months, the FBI has built some chemistry in the ring and they show that teamwork here. Benoit would work his usual manic pace as he continues to toil in the mid card after his brush with the big boys to start the year. Rhyno wrecked Nunzio with a nice gore when he tried to interfere as this match just hummed along. It was a short energetic and hot opener that got the crowd going. They could have used more time to really get things cooking, but as it was, they did their job. The FBI came out looking the strongest and most impressive but everyone looked pretty good in their limited time. Grade: 2
*** Eric Bischoff joins Steve Austin in his luxury box and they start to eat and have some drinks. Eric doesn’t want a beer and starts to act like a bit of a priss, annoying Austin. ***
2) La Resistance defeats Scott Steiner (Scott Rechsteiner) & Test (Andrew Martin) when Sylvain Grenier pins Steiner after a double flapjack at 6:19
Fun Fact: After weeks of vignettes airing, Sylvain Grenier and Rene Dupree made their first appearance on the 4/28 Raw as the team La Résistance by attacking Scott Steiner. Steiner had made remarks two weeks earlier comparing France to hell and Grenier and Dupree were offended by the comments. Rene Dupree grew up around wrestling as his father Emile Dupree was a promoter in Montreal. He actually made his first on-camera appearance on the Raw the night after Wrestlemania XVIII, mocking Chris Jericho for losing the Undisputed Title to Triple H.
Fun Fact II: After all the backstage shenanigans involving Test, Stacy Keibler and Scott Steiner at Backlash, Stacy decided it was a good idea to team Test and Steiner together. The reluctant team debuted on the 4/28 Raw and defeated Chris Nowinski and Rico. La Res came out to interfere and got a Steiner beatdown. The following week Test & Steiner got a World Tag Title shot against Rob Van Dam & Kane, but Test accidentally booted Steiner and they lost the match. On the 5/12 Raw, Test, Steiner and Goldust defeated La Res & Chris Nowinski in a six man tag team match.
Scott: A slow match with not much action that was mostly to get La Res over as a heel tag team and to really push the weird Test/Steiner dynamic. Steiner needed something after the flopped title feud to start the year. Test really didn’t know where he was going, as he was facing heel opponents but being a smarmy worm backstage. I did like his in-ring work as he had a good cache of power moves and now was a good time to really push him. La Res was getting big time heat as Vince, being the pro-military patriot he is, celebrating the US’ start of the Iraq War by creating a team from one of the countries who wasn’t high on the US allies’ list. As much as many think Vince goes too far with that, it does create solid heel teams for babyfaces to feud with. The match is sloppy and ends with more face miscommunication as Steiner eats a double flapjack for the loss. Test drags Stacy away as she tries to tend to his partner. That dissension continues, and the French duo picks up PPV win #1. Grade: 1.5
Justin: After some interesting vignettes, La Resistance debuted on Raw to some interesting heat. As the US entered another war, Vince decided it was time for some new foreign heels. Scott Steiner was one of the first men to voice his opinion of the French and their political views and a feud was born. La Res was surprisingly good on the mic before the match and it led to the crowd greeting Steiner with a very good pop. Steiner’s running buddy Test was sort of in limbo right now. He was on the face side of the fence but was acting like a big time heel. He and Steiner dominated early and Test actually showed some good aggression and fire on offense. Steiner would end up saving Stacy Keibler, which annoyed Test. Test had already been weary of Steiner’s intentions and he took this as a sign that Steiner was moving in on his woman. After some confusion, Test ended up kicking Steiner by accident. Things would break down from there as La Res would sneak out the win after dropping a dazed Steiner with a double flapjack. Stacy would tend to Steiner, but Test dragged her away. The match as a whole was decent and had some good heat, but it was sloppy in spots, especially at the end. Either way, La Res moves on with their first PPV victory under their berets. Grade: 1.5
3) Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri defeats Team Angle in a ladder match to win WWE Tag Team Titles when Eddie & Tajiri grab the belts at 14:18
Fun Fact: On the 5/1 Smackdown, Team Angle defeated the upstart team of John Walters and Aaron Stevens. After the match, Charlie Haas demanded that Los Guerreros return their stolen tag team titles. Eddie and Chavo emerged and returned the belts, but then stole Kurt Angle’s medals. A week later, Team Angle recovered the medals as Eddie Guerrero was wrestling Matt Hardy. Later that night, Team Angle wrestled Tajiri and Rikishi and Los Guerreros took the opportunity to steal the medals back. In the ensuing week, it was announced that Los Guerreros would take on Team Angle in a ladder match at the PPV. On the 5/15 Smackdown, Shelton Benjamin pinned Eddie, but Eddie would get the last laugh when he finally smashed the Kurt Angle portrait over the head of Shelton. Unfortunately, things would get shaken up again as Chavo Guerrero was seriously injured on a tour of the United Kingdom. Despite the creative team knowing about the severity of the injury, Chavo was still advertised for the show up until the night of the show. Team Angle claimed that Eddie would have to fight alone or forfeit, but Eddie said he was allowed to choose a mystery partner. He ended up choosing Tajiri and the match was still on.
Scott: The highlight match of this show, and maybe for the entire year, is a thrown together team defeating “America’s Team”. The reason I like this match is because they didn’t try to drag the match out with long dead spots and mere preparations for big spots. The flow was consistent and with no DQ rules, Tajiri can pull off some of his slick moves like the Tarantula without having a five count to break it. Team Angle has been on a tear since debuting a few months before, and this was no exception. Like Justin, I feel bad for Chavo because he was really getting in a groove with Eddie and deserved a chance to be part of the payoff. However whoever thought to put Tajiri in this spot was a genius as it didn’t take long for Eddie & Tajiri to go all out for this match. Tazz and Cole are back in a groove after what I thought was an off Backlash. This match is one of the forgotten gems in a year where four star matches are few and far between. Grade: 4.5
Justin: You have to feel bad for Chavo here as this feud had been raging on and the crowd was ready to see Team Angle drop the belts. He was set for a good run when he went down with a tough injury. Tajiri steps in and he and Eddie had some great chemistry right off the bat. Team Angle was still hot as a heel team and their in ring work continues to be superior. After some nice double teams, Charlie Haas would show his toughness by enduring some sick ladder spots. He would recover in time to join his partner for their patented double team leap, this time performing it off one ladder and on to another in a crazy spot. The crowd was pretty hot here for all of the big spots as well as Tajiri’s tarantula. I enjoyed the commentary here as well, as Tazz and Cole really put over the style divergence for Team Angle. The finish with Tajiri’s mist spew was great as well. Eddie finally gets revenge on Team Angle and takes the gold legitimately. This was a tremendous match as all four men worked crazy spots and took some nasty bumps off the ladder. It is a bit of a forgotten classic but is worth checking out if you get the chance. Grade: 4
*** In the skybox, Austin continued to gorge Bischoff with food and beer. Elsewhere, Roddy Piper and Chris Jericho had an entertaining confrontation as they debated if Jericho’s new Highlight Reel talk show was better than Piper’s Pit. ***
4) Christian wins a battle royal to win the vacant WWE Intercontinental Title
Booker T (Booker Huffman), Goldust (Dustin Runnels), Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine), Kane (Glen Jacobs), Lance Storm (Lance Evers), Test, Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski), and Val Venis (Sean Morley)
Fun Fact: One of Steve Austin’s decisions when he became co-general manager of Raw was to undo what he thought was one of the stupidest things Eric Bischoff did, which was eliminate the honored Intercontinental Title. So Austin booked a Battle Royal for this show, with all former IC Champions invited. He gave a slot to Booker T also for the tough year he had almost winning the World Title on multiple occasions.
Fun Fact II: On Sunday Night Heat, the former chief Morley was talking to someone when Bischoff walked over to him. Bisch asks what he’s doing here and he says he’s getting into the IC Battle Royal. Bisch says that’s only for former IC Champions. Morley tells him that he is right as Chief Morley never was Intercontinental Champion. So the first guy introduced here is Val Venis, the former two time IC Champ.
Scott: I’m extremely pleased that the Intercontinental Title is back. In terms of belts the company is kind of fucked up. You have two main titles, two tag titles and one women’s title. So if you’re not in the main events, the feuds are slapped together without any real backbone or juice. So the smartest thing to do was bring back the title. In a couple of months Smackdown will do a similar move to help the midcard. The battle royal is broken up into pieces, first Kane gets eliminated and cleans everyone out and then some random guys are tossed. Finally we go back to the late-2002 feud of Booker T and Goldust vs. Chris Jericho & Christian. The match goes back and forth and Goldust gets eliminated by his buddy, and they chuckle about it. Then a few minutes later Jericho tries the Liontamer and Christian dumps him over the top. Hysterical interaction as Goldust laughs about it, whereas Jericho is obviously pissed. As Justin mentions Christian screws Booker T over and continues a feud that had been going on really since August. The Battle Royal itself was nothing to write home about, but it’s good to see one of the most treasured titles in all of professional wrestling. It was also cool to see Pat Patterson bring the title belt up, although they should have brought the old belt back instead of that other thing. Grade: 2
Justin: After remaining dormant since October, the Intercontinental Championship returns with a Battle Royal to determine its next holder. This was a good idea as a mid card title was sorely needed on Raw. With Triple H and his crew dominating the World title scene, the loaded upper mid card needed something to battle over. In a nice twist, GM Austin deemed that only former champions could compete in the match. Well, all except Booker T, who Austin thought deserved a shot at the title. The big surprise of the match was the return of Val Venis. Chief Morley had recently been fired by Eric Bischoff, so Morley returns to his porn star roots and is a face once again. The highlight of the match may have been JR spouting off everyone’s IC title history as they entered the ring. Early in the match, Kane used his strength to dominate the field, but they quickly ganged up on him to toss him out. Angered, Kane returned to the ring and wiped everyone out. From there, it was a flurry of quick eliminations with Storm, Test, Venis and RVD all hitting the deck. The match came down to Goldust and Booker squaring off with Jericho and Christian in a revival of their feud from late 2002. Goldust would be the first to go and Jericho and Christian would slowly start to pick apart Booker in a lengthy segment. Finally, Christian double crossed his friend and tossed him out when he wasn’t looking. The ref would get taken out on the floor and Booker would eliminate Christian. His music played and Pat Patterson, who was there to hand the title to the winner, started to get in the ring. That is when Christian noticed the ref was out cold. He ran over and clocked Patterson and took the belt. He slid in the ring, decked Booker and tossed him out in front of the recovered ref. The match was over and Christian had stolen the win to become the first IC Champion since Kane seven months prior. The match was solid enough but the end was pretty weak. Nonetheless, it was a good win for Christian as he starts to finally get on the track to legitimacy. Grade: 2
5) Torrie Wilson vs. Sable in a Bikini Challenge
Fun Fact: As their rivalry wore on, Sable challenged Torrie to this contest on the 5/8 Smackdown.
Scott: Wow. I have to say of all the hot diva segments in the history of WWE, this one was clearly the hottest. Both Sable and Torrie are absolutely smoking hot here, and both bikinis easily blow anything away anybody else has ever done. Sable looks awesome, four years older than her last appearance here. Torrie? At the time she may have had the most perfect body in all of WWE. I agree with Justin that Torrie did dance like she was in high school. Sable definitely looked better in that aspect but I have to give Torrie the edge in body here. The commentary between Tazz and Cole was great, including the baiting of Jerry Lawler on from the far Raw table. Tazz was funny when he said “Sorry I’ll get my hands out of my pocket.” Hysterical. Sure Torrie’s kiss wouldn’t compete with anything on Cinemax, but it still brought the Charlotte crowd to their knees. Grade: N/A
Justin: The battle between the former Playboy cover girls rages on here with a bikini contest. Tazz hosted it and was pretty funny throughout as was Cole on commentary. Lillian Garcia sang Torrie out to the ring but Sable got a bigger pop for her entrance. Sable also had some great moves while showing off her bikini. While Torrie had a slamming body, her moves were not as good and she looked like she was clueless as she performed. Sable easily outclassed her in that regard and she won the crowd over because of it. Torrie would clinch the win by removing her bikini to reveal a skimpier one underneath. She would cap her win by kissing Sable after the match. Cole would then hit the line of the night when he said they went “tit for tat” in the contest. Grade: N/A
6) Mr. America (Terry Bollea) defeated Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) with a leg drop at 4:58
Fun Fact: After Wrestlemania, Mr. McMahon sent Hulk Hogan home, saying he would gladly pay him to wait out his deal. Shortly after, mysterious vignettes began airing advising of the impending debut of new superstar Mr. America. Stephanie McMahon would reveal that she signed this new superstar without ever have meeting him. On the 5/1 Smackdown, Mr. America made his debut and appeared on Piper’s Pit. He made his way out with Real American playing and looked very similar to Hulk Hogan, only with a mask on. Vince would come out and threaten to fire him, but Mr. America revealed that he had an iron clad contract, brother. None of this made much sense from Steph’s perspective. America fought off Vince, Piper and Sean O’Haire after Vince trued to pull off his mask. A week later, Stephanie confirmed that America couldn’t be fired but Vince said if he could prove America was Hogan, he would be able to can him. Hogan appeared via satellite and denied that he was Mr. America. The next week, Piper called out Mr. America and challenged him to a PPV match. As he and America argued back and forth, Piper noticed an annoying Hogan fan at ringside. Hogan was defending the fan when Piper and O’Haire attacked him. Before Piper could rip off the mask, the fan hit the ring and saved America’s identity. Piper tackled the kid and pulled his leg, but when he did, he tore it off, revealing it was a fake leg. The spooked Piper stopped dead in his tracks and left America and the fan alone. Backstage, Vince ripped into Piper and O’Haire for being so careless.
Fun Fact II: As we will get to in a moment, neither Piper nor Hogan would make it to the next PPV, so we will wrap up their storyline now. On the 5/22 Smackdown, Vince was about to fire Piper for the loss here. O’Haire stepped up and took the blame and challenged Mr. America to a match. Vince said that if O’Haire lost, Piper would be fired. Vince also added another stipulation: if America lost, he would have to take a lie detector test the next week. O’Haire would win the match by countout when the aforementioned fan was hassled by security at ringside, courtesy Vince. The next week, Mr. America passed the lie detector test and then humiliated Vince when he hooked himself up to it to test it. After a few more weeks of various hijinks, Mr. America made his final appearance on the 6/26 Smackdown. On that show, America teamed with Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle to lose a match to Big Show, Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas when Show pinned him. After the show went off the air, America played to the crowd and lifted his mask up to show his true identity. Later that week, Hogan had some disagreements with the creative team and his payoffs and decided to walk out on WWE. On the 7/3 Smackdown, Vince showed this footage and used it as his rationale to fire Mr. America.
Fun Fact III: During this time, Piper transitioned from the feud with Hogan to focus on teaming with his protégé and challenging Tajiri and Eddie Guerrero for the tag titles. Before this could develop, Piper appeared on an episode of HBO: Real Sports that focused on the darker side of wrestling. Piper made some inflammatory remarks about the business and came off quite negatively, including his views on WWE. Vince took his comments to heart and fired Piper immediately after it aired. Piper claimed that his comments were taken out of context, but Vince had heard enough. Unfortunately for Sean O’Haire, when Piper left, his push did as well. He would spend the rest of 2003 on Velocity until he was injured in a motorcycle accident. Upon his return, he was sent to developmental until he was eventually released on April 3, 2004.
Fun Fact IV: The mysterious one legged fan was actually independent wrestler Zach Gowen. Gowen was gaining some underground credibility and ended up with a brief run in TNA under the name Tenacious Z. He was soon offered a deal by WWE and jumped at the chance. Gowen would use his prosthetic leg to get to the ring, but wrestled with it off. There is actually a funny back story to his hiring, as there were two one legged wrestlers on the independent scene in 2003 and the WWE office originally offered a contract to the wrong one. They sheepishly had to pull the offer and then extended it to Gowen. We will get more into his feud with Mr. McMahon at Vengeance.
Scott: Ugh, what a mess. This certainly was not the War to Settle the Score or even Starrcade 1996. Piper clearly didn’t have the chops to wrestle high profile PPV matches anymore, and Hogan…well is Hogan. Oh sorry, Mr. America. Yuck, yuck, yuck. I really like Sean O’Haire and it was pretty cool that he actually got a bit of a rub out of this feud. Unfortunately the match is real crap. You can tell that Vince is using Smackdown as his training ground show when he has the new one-legged wrestler debut and make an impact on this show. No offense to Zach Gowen, he’s a gamer. But would he have been involved in any feuds involving Triple H or Shawn Michaels? I think not. All this crap would be moot when Hogan and Piper end up leaving as regular roster spots, which is good because the company needs less old guys and more young talent to start churning. This year is becoming similar to 1995-96 in that there’s all this young talent burgeoning to the surface but still there’s some stale stuff still floating around. Hey I’ll always have a soft spot for the ol’ Red and Yellow and the “Hot Rod” t-shirts. But this isn’t 1985. It is time to move on. Unfortunately as this feud ends, the Sean O’Haire push goes right down the crapper, which is too bad. Grade: 1
Justin: After firing Hogan in March, Vince thought he was finally done with him. Then his daughter signed the mysterious Mr. America to an iron clad deal and the Hulkster was back in Vince’s life. Hell bent on proving America’s identity, Hogan enlisted Roddy Piper to take him out and unmask him so Vince could give him the pink slip again. Mr. America brings out his supporter Zach Gowen and Piper had his protégé Sean O’Haire with him. Piper actually lost some weight and was looking much better here than he did at Wrestlemania. This is the first time Piper and Hogan faced off one on one on PPV since WCW Halloween Havoc 1997. They were old then and are even older now. Luckily, they both still knew how to work a crowd and this was overbooked enough to be mildly entertaining. O’Haire would get involved early, but America fought him off. At one point, he even lifted his mask to bite Piper and basically reveal his identity. Vince would make an appearance and hand O’Haire a steel pipe, but Sean would clock Piper by accident. Mr. America would take advantage, drop the leg and pick up the win. This was short and fine for what it was. It was nostalgic and playful and the crowd got into it. As long as these two weren’t tying up main event slots, I am fine with them filling a mid card comedy role. Zach would trip up Vince at the end, triggering a lengthy feud between the two. Piper and Hogan are both gone after this and we wouldn’t see either again for a while. It has been a good run for Hogan and from here on out, his future appearances see him more in a legends role than a full time run. Grade: 1
7) Kevin Nash defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) by disqualification at 7:25; Triple H retains World Heavyweight Championship
Fun Fact: So after Backlash when Triple H used the hammer on his former best friend, Nash had one objective: Destroy his former Clique running buddy. On the 4/28 Raw, Triple H and Ric Flair had a World Tag Team Title shot against RVD and Kane. During the match Kevin Nash comes out and chases Triple H off with a sledgehammer. They go all the way to the back and Triple H escapes in a limo as Nash destroys it with the sledgehammer. The following week on Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel”, Nash and Triple H go face to face, but Jericho low blows Nash and they double team him. Nash was able to fight both men odd. He and Triple H then brawled to the outside of the arena in Halifax, Nova Scotia. They brawl into the street until Triple H steals somebody’s SUV on the street and drives off. On the 5/12 Raw Nash faced Chris Jericho in a match that ended with a big schmozz as everybody from Triple H’s group to Shawn Michaels comes in and battles.
Fun Fact II: This is Kevin Nash’s first PPV title match since losing a WWE Title match to Shawn Michaels at IYH: Good Friends, Better Enemies on April 28, 1996.
Scott: The match is clearly a set-up to a secondary gimmick match, as Nash beats the piss out of the champ for seven minutes, before Triple H gets himself disqualified. The match is slow and plodding, which is typical for both guys right now. Nash wasn’t getting booed as some analysts were saying, but he really wasn’t getting a crazy face pop either. It’s clear the crowd is just waiting for the inevitable Triple H/Goldberg feud, so this stuff was all just fodder. I know that Triple H was trying to emulate a Ric Flair-NWA style feud, however that’s tough to do when there’s a title match every month. You can’t do one DQ/countout loss after another to save your title when the title matches are every four weeks, not every two months like Flair’s runs. As Justin says this is exactly the same thing as the Steiner feud. To be honest, Goldberg’s arrival has completely thrown the main event situation in chaos. Really Triple H should still be feuding with Booker T, or Booker should be champion or something. Unfortunately they’re anticipating the big Goldberg win somewhere down the line so they’re keeping the title on Triple H until that moment happens. So creative is trying to come up with all these kooky ways to maneuver through feuds and it’s getting very stale. Yes Nash’s powerbomb on Triple H through the announce table was the exclamation point on the squash. It unfortunately was the highlight of an otherwise boring match. Grade: 2
Justin: After Triple H stole a win on Nash last month Big Sexy makes his way out here to a lukewarm reception for the fans. Shawn Michaels was in his corner and he out-popped the challenger. This PPV title shot comes just one month short of nine years since Nash’s first title match with Bret Hart at KOTR 1994. Also out-popping Nash was Ric Flair, who was in The Game’s corner, as usual. All four men brawled in the aisle to start and Michaels and Flair quickly got tossed out. Nash would dominate the match and Hunter played the desperate champion once again, scratching for any advantage he could find. After a brief basic brawl, the ref got bumped and Hunter drilled Nash with a low blow and Pedigree. This time, Nash would actually kick out of the Pedigree, something that rarely happened. Despite that, the crowd was still split on him. After Nash kicked out of his last gasp, Hunter grabbed his sledgehammer and pasted him with it to draw the lame DQ. After the match, Nash assaulted the Game, beating him all the way down the aisle. Nash started tossing around officials and even his buddy Shawn Michaels en route to dropping Hunter through the announce table with a powerbomb. That was easily the highlight of the match and at that point Nash looked fairly strong. I understand the goal and what they wanted to accomplish in setting up a big rematch for the first Raw only PPV in June, but we just went through this same thing with Scott Steiner earlier this year. Hunter’s reign limps along and this tepid Clique feud rages on. Grade: 2
*** Things finally come to a head in the luxury box as Bischoff gets sick and throws up on the waitress and the fans. Austin douses him with beer to complete the hijinks and embarrassment. ***
8) Jazz (Carlene Begnaud) defeats Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias), Jacquelyn (Jacquelyn Moore), and Victoria (Lisa Varon) in a Fatal Four Way match to retain WWE Women’s Championship when she pins Jacqueline with a DDT at 4:48
Fun Fact: After Trish’s loss to Jazz at Backlash, the night after on Raw she asked Eric Bischoff for a rematch. Bischoff said he must defeat him in a match to get it. It’s a no-DQ match and thanks to beatdowns by Victoria and Jazz, Bischoff gets the pin. The following week with Austin in charge, Trish gets her rematch with Jazz that night and it ends with Jazz winning via a belt shot and Victoria interference. The following week Trish defeated Victoria in a hardcore match.
Scott: I don’t know why this match got booked or how Jacqueline got into the match either, but really it doesn’t matter. Teddy Long’s faction was really cooking as not only was Jazz killing everyone, but Rodney Mack, Jazz’s real life husband, was slowly making a name for himself on Raw. This match is pretty much all over the place, but what the crowd wanted to see didn’t happen. With Lita on the shelf there really isn’t a legit women’s wrestler that’s over except for Trish. Not much more to say, Jazz moves on. Grade: 1
Justin: Teddy Long’s stable continues to dominate as Jazz walks in and out with the Women’s Championship slung over her shoulder. Teddy cried conspiracy here due to the odds being stacked against his charge. Victoria still had Steve Richards with her and he gets involved early to help his woman. With Lita still on the shelf, it t is now clear that Trish is really the only member of the division that projects star power. Despite Jazz being super stiff and great in the ring, she just couldn’t connect with the fans but I think Teddy helped a lot in the regard. Trish would get a nice near fall off the chick kick, but Jazz picks up the win and keeps her title. The match was basic and disjointed but it allowed Jazz to further showcase her dominance. Grade: 1
9) Brock Lesnar defeats Big Show (Paul Wight) in a stretcher match to retain WWE Championship when he pushes Big Show across the line at 15:27
Fun Fact: After nearly killing Rey Mysterio at Backlash, Big Show continued on his Cruiserweight Killer tour on Smackdown. On the 5/1 Smackdown, Brock Lesnar came out and called out Show for his actions, even offering to put up the Championship to get revenge for his fallen friend. The next week, Lesnar announced that he wanted the PPV contest to be a stretcher match, playing off of Rey’s injury at Backlash. Later that night, Show defeated Chris Benoit. After the match, Show and A-Train beat down Benoit until Lesnar made the save. Show was able to take out Brock and leave him lying to end the show. The next week, Rey Mysterio was discussing his injury in a backstage interview when Show came in and kidnapped him. He brought him to the ring with a stretcher, but Rey was able to fight him off a bit. Finally, Show beat him down until Lesnar made the save. Brock beat on Show with the stretcher and put him down with an F5. The announcers made it clear that they thought Show couldn’t lose, though, because he was too big to fit on the stretcher.
Fun Fact: On this date, Justin happened to be flying to Florida and had to make a connection in Charlotte. While milling around the airport food court, he noticed the Big Show walking through. Show was kind enough to stop for a moment so his future wife could snap a quick picture of the two.
Scott: Our main event is surprisingly entertaining. The stretcher match hasn’t been used since 1981, and that one was PWI’s match of the year. If you watch it on the DVD for this show, you really ponder the choice as Killer Khan and Andre the Giant aren’t Chris Benoit or Kurt Angle or anything. Brock is still over as a big time babyface, and Show is still the big monster heel that can always be plugged in when you need him. This feud really started back in November, and has gone back and forth since. Show was in a groove here in terms of putting his big time moves over. He needs to redeem himself after the idiotic move he pulls at Backlash when he almost kills Rey Mysterio with a stretcher board. Brock Lesnar had this presence about him that I don’t even think he thought he had. Whether a heel or face, he exuded this confidence that made him a great character either way. The booking of this match worked, as Show hit his big spots, followed by Lesnar making comebacks. The highlight is when Rey Mysterio comes in to get some back on Show, suddenly Lesnar comes rambling down the ramp in a small storage forklift. He goes to the roof of the forklift, pretty much planchas off it and then drops Show with a suplex and F-5. Then, to perfectly accent the commentary by Cole and Tazz about how to get Show onto a stretcher and up the ramp, Lesnar lifts the board with Show on it using the forklift, rides up the ramp and wins the match. The Charlotte crowd is geeked with a great main event to cap off an otherwise blasé show. Grade: 3.5
Justin: For the first time since Andre the Giant battled Killer Khan, we get a WWE stretcher match. Brock gets a huge pop here as the Charlotte crowd is still rocking. The match got off to a fast start and ended up being a pretty fun brawl. There were lots of stiff shots with stretcher boards and other various weapons. One cool spot was when Brock started choking out Show with a camera cable. He then loaded him on the stretcher, but when he tried to push him across the line, the cable saved Show as it was still wrapped around his neck. As always, Lesnar was full of energy and all over the place throughout the match. Another cool bump was when Show fell backwards off the apron and landed hard onto the stretcher. The crowd was really hot at this point, and they got even louder when Rey Mysterio showed up looking for revenge. Rey would land the 619 but Show was able to fight him off. Still, the distraction allowed Brock to head backstage for a moment. He emerged minutes later careening to the ring on a fork lift. Brock pulled up to the ring, hopped out and dove off the fork lift and onto Show in the ring. He dropped Show with a suplex and an F5 before loaded him onto the fork lift and driving him across the line for the win. This was a really fun match and the crowd seemed to agree. The fork lift spot was neat because it called back to Tazz and Cole’s discussion on Smackdown regarding Show’s size. Brock’s matches were always energetic and he and Show had some nice chemistry. The war between them was still not over, however, and they would continue to battle throughout 2003. Grade: 3
Scott: Scott: This show goes back and forth for me. We have the great ladder match, an incredibly hot bikini challenge with clearly the two hottest women in the promotion right now, and a very entertaining main event. On the other hand the rest of the matches are pretty boring. Triple H/Nash brought nothing to the table, as it was seven minutes of Nash killing him then the DQ. The six man opener wasn’t bad but forgotten by the end of the night. A new heel tag team gets a win but the match itself isn’t much. It was nice to see the Intercontinental Title back but the chicanery by Christian deflated the crowd somewhat. Undertaker takes the show off, but really he wasn’t doing anything that great anyway. I definitely think Goldberg should have been on this show as he won the big match against Rock at Backlash, and then starts a feud with Chris Jericho on Raw, but they do nothing really with it here. The two shows have their flaws and their strengths. Raw is carried by big time names, but for the most part the workrate is pretty awful. On Smackdown you have a lot of youth and great workrate but maybe the fans haven’t taken to some of the new names yet. Really on paper Triple H may have the more high profile title matches but Brock Lesnar’s title matches have been better to watch. Even his match with a very green John Cena at Backlash was entertaining. This show in general is mostly remembered for the Ladder match and the bikini challenge. However the main event is pretty entertaining and the Austin/Bischoff clips were good. Oh one final note. Give Austin credit for being a professional by working with a guy who he probably still wants to punch in the face for firing him like a coward in 1995. I look at this show and I still don’t know what to make of it, so I’ll grade it down the middle. Final Grade: C
Justin: Once again we have an interesting dichotomy regarding a PPV. While the show only featured two above average matches, it was a fun show to watch. The crowd was really hot throughout and never really subsided, especially peaking for the main event. The ladder match was great stuff and carries the show, workrate wise. Raw now has two GMs and we got a display of their interesting chemistry throughout the night. It was nice to see some new faces once again as well. The show also marks the temporary farewell for Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. Both men hang around on TV into July, but do not see another PPV and then don’t make their way back until 2005. However, a couple of big stars were missing in action: Undertaker and Goldberg. I am surprised they didn’t work in a Goldberg squash here, just to keep his momentum rolling. I am sure they could have found someone to lay down quickly for him. Anyway, I digress. The show as a whole was fun stuff and it will now be the final co brand PPV until Summerslam. Final Grade: C+
MVP: Eddie Guerrero, Tajiri & Team Angle
Runner Up: Brock Lesnar & Big Show
Non MVP: Triple H & Kevin Nash
Runner Up: Booker T.