November 16, 2003
American Airlines Center
Buy Rate: .73
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz (Peter Senerchia)
Sunday Night Heat
Tajiri defeats Jamie Noble (James Gibson) to retain Cruiserweight Championship at 4:13
Pay Per View
1) Hardcore Holly (Robert Howard), Chris Benoit, John Cena, Kurt Angle & Bradshaw (John Layfield) defeat WWE Champion Brock Lesnar, Big Show (Paul Wight), Matt Morgan, Nathan Jones & A-Train (Matt Bloom)
Chris Benoit & John Cena
Hardcore Holly was disqualified before the match started
Bradshaw pinned A-Train with the Clothesline from Hell at :27
Big Show pinned Bradshaw with a Chokeslam at :48
Kurt Angle pinned Matt Morgan after an Olympic Slam at 9:11
Kurt Angle eliminated Nathan Jones with the Anklelock at 9:31
Brock Lesnar pinned Kurt Angle with an F-5 at 9:43
Chris Benoit eliminated Brock Lesnar with the Crossface at 11:43
John Cena pinned Big Show with an FU after a chain shot at 13:15
Fun Fact: On the 10/23 Smackdown, a video aired showing Brock Lesnar breaking Hardcore Holly’s neck from the 9/12/02 Smackdown. The video ended with Holly vowing to end Lesnar’s career. Holly returned on 11/13 when he assaulted Matt Morgan and Nathan Jones with a chair. He promised that he would cripple Lesnar at Survivor Series.
Fun Fact II: On the 10/30 Smackdown, John Cena and A-Train lost a match to Chris Benoit & Kurt Angle. After the match, Train began smacking Cena around. Cena didn’t care for that, so he booted Train in the groin and dropped him with an F-U. Later, Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar began forming their teams for Survivor Series. Angle enlisted Benoit while Brock already had Big Show on his side. Later that night, new Smackdown GM Paul Heyman brought two huge men to the ring: Nathan Jones and Matt Morgan. Heyman introduced both men and brought out Lesnar and Show to meet them. After some back and forth, all four men were on the same side for the Survivor matchup. Later that night, Lesnar told John Cena that there was a rumor Heyman would add him to Lesnar’s team. Moments later, Angle announced that the rest of his team would be comprised of the APA and Hardcore Holly. That night’s main event saw Lesnar & Show battle the APA. The match ended when Lesnar assaulted Faarooq with a chair. The two men would then bash on Faarooq’s knee with a chain, injuring him. On 11/6, Heyman came out and officially told Cena he was on Lesnar’s team. Cena belittled the GM and made fun of his teammates before being jumped by Train. The rest of Team Lesnar came down and joined Train in assaulting Cena. Heyman would then offer Train the final slot of Lesnar’s team. Finally, on 11/13, Angle announced that Cena would take the injured Faarooq’s slot on his team. Cena’s face turn was now complete. The two teams would battle in various combinations on 11/13, building heat for their big showdown.
Fun Fact III: Matt Morgan was a former college basketball star that participated in Tough Enough II. He was forced from the competition due to injury but it was clear he had the look and size to be a star. In April 2002, he signed a developmental deal with WWE. He was sent to OVW, where he made his debut in October. He remained there until twelve months later when he was called up to Smackdown alongside Nathan Jones. Jones had been training in OVW since being sent down earlier in the year.
Scott: A decent enough opener with a lot of power guys, albeit unknown power guys. This match was laid out to get Cena over as a babyface and to get continue Benoit’s path to his ultimate goal. Lesnar’s team was full of pretty jacked up guys, but unfortunately Jones and Morgan were like dead weight out there in terms of the crowd. Jones hadn’t been seen since his failed face run earlier in the year and Morgan was completely new. And he was from Fairfield, Connecticut; just 15 minutes from where I live. So the crowd really didn’t give them much heat. Big Show is the transitional US Champion for Cena, thus the reason Cena gets the final pin in the match against him. Benoit looked pretty good as always, even getting the WWE Champion to tap out. I wonder if the original plan was for Benoit to eventually face Lesnar for the WWE Title and not what did end up happening. Regardless it gave the crowd something to cheer about. I wonder if Angle was being pushed down a bit, as he did get two pins but ended up eating an F-5 and wasn’t a factor in the final decision. Cena, who was starting to gain a following based on the myriad of signs in the crowd, gets the final pin as he and Benoit stand tall but Angle the team Captain was already gone. Either way the show starts off with a decent but somewhat uninspiring opener. Grade: 2
Justin: The Angle/Lesnar war rages on here as both men enlisted some interesting partners to back them up. Hardcore Holly had been on the shelf for over a year and was simply looking for revenge on Lesnar for putting him there. Holly would snap immediately and get himself disqualified, just like the old days. Despite being ejected from the match, Holly was far from done with Brock. Train would also go down meekly and it is clear that his push was starting to evaporate as the year winds down. As usual with these matches, we got some quick eliminations off basic moves and that prevented this from ever getting into a good flow. The fans were really into Cena here and you can see why they turned him face. He also projected a good image and was believable hanging with the big boys in the match. He seemed more in line with Lesnar, Angle, Benoit and Show than with the lower tier guys. Benoit was crisp and aggressive as always, shredding through his opponents and looking like a star. Matt Morgan had a good look to him but I think he was in over his head here as he looked lost for most the match. Angle gets a strong spurt but gets quickly eliminated. I think he was banged up again at this point and they were trying to protect him. He stayed on the apron for a while and then only stayed in the ring for a few minutes before being eliminated. In a way it felt like Angle was being pushed back a level so Benoit and Cena could shine as the fresh stars on the face side. Benoit’s big feat would be forcing Lesnar to tap out cleanly. You could tell he was being primed for a big push. Cena was equally pushed hard as he dropped Show with an epic F5 and was left standing with Benoit as the sole survivors. The match was OK and a bit choppy but the finish was good and it truly felt like a changing of the guard on the top of the Smackdown card. Grade: 2.5
2) Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) defeats Lita (Amy Dumas) to retain Women’s Championship when Lita hit an exposed turnbuckle after a Drop Toe Hold at 6:48
Fun Fact: Lita defeated Victoria and Trish Stratus to earn this title shot on the 10/27 Raw. The next week, Molly and Gail Kim beat Lita down. On 11/10, Molly pinned Lita in a tag team match.
Scott: Wow a women’s title match. I’m very surprised they put this match on a co-brand show since both this belt and the Cruiserweight belt, which was defended by Tajiri on Heat, are primarily forgotten on many of the PPVs this year. Molly was a solid heel champ, but Lita really wasn’t in her groove yet since coming back from injury so needless to say she was still fairly sloppy and her punches are terribly fake. Molly bumps like a champ, and through some chicanery retains the title. The women’s division wasn’t unstable by any means in 2003, it just didn’t get as much PPV time as it probably deserved. Grade: 1.5
Justin: After returning from her surgery, Lita immediately became one of the most over Divas on the roster and that is proven here as the crowd is behind her big time. This match was a good test for her neck and Molly showed good psychology in focusing on it throughout the bout. These two worked well together and the match had a nice structure. Lita hit a great powerbomb on Molly and Molly would reciprocate with a good near fall after a Molly Go Round. Molly was able to cheat her way to retaining her belt in a nice heel finish. The match was hard fought and solid all the way through. Molly clings to her gold and Lita steps aside to regroup. Grade: 2.5
3) Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeats Shane McMahon in an Ambulance match when Kane put Shane into an ambulance after a tombstone on the concrete floor at 13:34
Fun Fact: On the 9/22 Raw, Kane attacked Shane McMahon in a hospital as he was recuperating from the beating he received the night before. On 10/5, Shane made his return and assaulted Kane after a match with Rosey. Kane went on a rampage and found Shane in the garage. Shane ducked into a limo and Kane followed. Shane was able to escape the car right before it went speeding into a truck. On 10/13 it was announced that Kane’s condition was upgraded from critical to guarded. Later in the show, we joined Kane in his hospital room. Shane came out and issued the challenge for the PPV and Kane immediately woke up and assaulted his doctor. The next week Kane returned to the arena and accepted Shane’s challenge. On 10/27 Shane defeated Test in a no DQ match. It was also announced that the PPV match would be an Ambulance Match. On 11/10, Shane and Kane met in a restaurant and issued threats to each other over dinner, officially topping the bar previously set for absurdity in this feud.
Scott: Part Two of this feud concludes with a standard brawl between a wrestler and a non-wrestler. Their brawl at Unforgiven had some interesting spots, but a rematch now without Shane’s usual big spot made the match seem ordinary. Kane clearly was going to win this one, so that also took some of the starch out of it. Shane did get some shots in, including using a small payloader to crush Kane in a security booth backstage. Otherwise it was just like any other gimmick match. Kane was still a pretty hot figure after the unmasking and maybe he was primed for a World Title run in 2004, he would be in a program for it, but that’s another conversation. On another topic, 2003 was McMahon overload, as Vince, Stephanie and Shane were on camera constantly. Shane had worn out his welcome in terms of in ring ability, so it was good for him to just leave and be missed like a regular superstar. So Kane moves on and Shane is carted off in the ambulance. Grade: 2.5
Justin: The never-ending science fiction battle between Kane and Shane McMahon finally comes to a close here in Dallas. These two have destroyed each other week in and week out, upping the creativity with each beating. They carried that hate over to the match as they immediately began brawling around ringside before heading backstage. One cool spot in the back saw Shane drive into Kane with a car. Back in the aisle, they unleashed some sick shots into the ambulance as they alternated smashing each other into it. Things would slow down a bit as it degenerated into a plodding, basic brawl. I like that Kane finished Shane with the Tombstone as it made the move look strong, putting down Shane after he survived everything else. The brawl was a solid blowoff to a crazy, manic feud and I am glad that is being put to bed. As Scott said, Shane needed to disappear for a while again to freshen up as it had been McOverload since the summer. Kane as kept strong here as he dominated most of the match and put Shane away. The whole thing could have been more effective as a faster paced, shorter violent brawl instead of a slow, methodical one. Kane wins and is done with Shane, but he still has business left on this night. Grade: 2
*** Goldberg and Brock Lesnar have a confrontation backstage. After that, Jonathan Coachman came to the ring to give an update on his health. As he was wrapping up, he noticed Mavericks owner Mark Cuban at ringside. Coach did a brief interview and was wrapping up when Eric Bischoff came out. He called Cuban into the ring and they had a brief showdown that ended with Randy Orton sneaking into the ring and taking Cuban out with an RKO. Cuban took a nice bump and it helped build heat on the upcoming Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff match. ***
4) The Basham Brothers defeat Los Guerreros to retain WWE Tag Team Titles when Danny Basham (Daniel Hollie) pins Chavo Guerrero with a roll-up at 7:31
Fun Fact: On the 10/23 Smackdown, the Bashams took advantage of a banged up Eddie Guerrero to win the tag titles. Before the match, Chavo got on Eddie’s case about shaking of his US title loss and focusing on their tag titles. The next week, Chavo got on his uncle’s case again, driving Eddie to the ring to give a heartfelt speech to the crowd where he admitted he deserved Chavo’s scorn for failing lately. The Bashams jumped Eddie and after a brief Eddie flurry, Doug and Danny were able to beat him down. On 11/6, Eddie defeated the Bashams in a handicap match to earn a title match the next week. Before the match was set to start, Eddie found out his sister was in a car accident. Chavo tried to keep him there but Eddie took off. Chavo asked Heyman to postpone the match until the PPV and Heyman granted that wish if he took on the Bashams in a handicap match that night. The Bashams beat him and then left him laid out.
Scott: This was a decent little match here, mostly to continue the tease of Eddie and Chavo’s eventual breakup. I was happy that Smackdown was pushing a new tag team to the titles, similar to what Raw did with La Resistance. The difference is that the Bashams were actually a decent tag team with a good gimmick, whereas La Res were below average wrestlers with an annoying gimmick. Eddie was ready to really hit his stride as a main event performer as the crowd was really on his side and it was time to cut Chavo loose and let him be a heel on his own also. Again the match was sloppy at times but it served its purpose and that’s what counts. Chavo screws the pooch, and the Bashams retain their titles. Grade: 2
Justin: The Bashams were on quite the roll lately as they were gelling nicely as a team and had actually been outsmarting the Guerreros at their own game. They stole the tag belts the night after No Mercy and outlasted the Guerreros ever since, including the match here. Despite his recent slump, Eddie was sharp and fired up out of the gate here. I liked the Bashams at this point and they worked the heel tandem stuff quite well. The crowd was behind Eddie and the match picked up steam in the closing minutes. The Bashams would out-cheat the Guerreros again and keep a stranglehold on the gold as Eddie and Chavo continue to have internal problems. The match was decent and the Bashams got a good PPV win. Grade: 1.5
5) Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Chris Jericho, Christian & Scott Steiner defeat Booker T., Shawn Michaels, Rob Van Dam and the Dudley Boys in an elimination match; Due to pre-match stipulations, Steve Austin must leave Raw
Booker T (Booker Huffman) pins Scott Steiner (Scott Rechsteiner) with a Bookend at 7:28
Mark Henry pins Booker T with a press slam at 7:57
The Dudley Boys & Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) pin Mark Henry after a 3-D and a Frog Splash at 10:03
Randy Orton pins Rob Van Dam with an RKO at 12:06
Chris Jericho pins D-Von Dudley (Devon Hughes) with a Flashback at 13:49
Christian (Jay Reso) pins Bubba Ray Dudley (Ray LoMonaco) with an Unprettier at 16:53
Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) pins Christian with Sweet Chin Music at 20:28
Shawn Michaels pins Chris Jericho with a small package at 23:58
Randy Orton pins Shawn Michaels after Batista (Dave Bautista) hits a Demon Bomb at 27:27
Fun Fact: This of course had been brewing since the spring when Linda McMahon named Austin co-GM with Bischoff. On the 10/20 Raw, Bischoff decided this needed to end and challenged Austin to a five-on-five traditional Survivor match. Austin was getting itchy that he wanted to raise hell and be able to beat up anybody he wanted and couldn’t since he was management, unless he was physically provoked. So the deal was if Austin’s team won he could do whatever he wanted whenever he wanted, but if Bischoff won Austin loses his co-GM job. Bischoff immediately announced his first members: the newly turned heel Scott Steiner, more on that in a minute, and Chris Jericho. Later in the night Austin announced his first member: Booker T, who had been out nursing a back injury. On the 10/27 Raw, Rob Van Dam and the Dudleys were announced for Austin’s team, and Bischoff announced Christian and Mark Henry. On the 10/3 Raw, Austin chose his final team member: Shawn Michaels. Bischoff’s last choice was Evolution’s Randy Orton. On the 10/10 Raw, all ten members faced each other in four matches. Steiner & Henry defeated the Dudleys, but RVD defeated Christian, Booker T defeated Jericho and Michaels defeated Orton to give Austin’s team three of the four matches and the momentum heading into the show.
Fun Fact II: Scott Steiner’s much needed heel turn came on the 9/29 Raw when he and Test lost a World Tag Team Title match to the Dudley Boys. It was the second straight time that Keibler cost him a match, as she also cost him his match against Test at Unforgiven. So Steiner belly-to-belly suplexed her and both he and Test became chauvinist jerks to Stacy.
Fun Fact III: This feud also included the first on-air interaction between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels since their WWE Championship match at Wrestlemania XIV. After their bitter feud in 1998, Austin was now forced to rely on Michaels to save his job.
Fun Fact IV: Mark Henry returned from injury on the 8/25 Raw courtesy of Teddy Long, and Henry joined the Thuggin and Buggin crew with Jazz and Rodney Mack.
Scott: Clearly the match of the night for many reasons. First off, the crowd finally woke up after sleepwalking through much of the show to this point. Except for some entrances (Lita, Eddie, Benoit) the crowd during match action was pretty quiet. Now most of their favorites were in this match, as well as their favorite guys to hate, like Jericho. It also helped that most of the pure athletes were in this match so the action was hot and heavy. Orton slowly started his build with a great performance here, as well as the high-profile RKO he delivered to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban earlier in the show. All the other participants were there to fill the card, but each had their roles. Henry and Steiner were the power heels to match up with the Dudleys. Obviously RVD was there to begin his feud with Orton over the Intercontinental Title. Booker T was in the midst of a feud with Henry and was coming back from injury. The key to the whole match was Shawn Michaels. First off, his interaction with Austin is interesting since they hadn’t been on camera since the win that launched the Attitude Era that chilly night in Boston five years earlier. So now Austin is trusting HBK to get the job done. Well we get to the point of the match that makes it great. Michaels is left all alone with Orton, Christian and Jericho. So the beatdown begins, and Michaels is busted open pretty good. However HBK does his usual dramatic comeback and out of nowhere pins Christian and Jericho. So now it’s down to the combination from Unforgiven. They work each other over and Michaels gets the Sweet Chin Music. But then we get the swerve. Bischoff tries to interfere but Austin starts pounding on him and they battle up the ramp. While Austin’s attention was distracted, Batista slides into the ring and demolishes Michaels with a Demon Bomb. The limp Orton crawls to the prone HBK and gets the three count. So in reality Austin was outsmarted. Afterwards Austin comes out and does a tearful farewell as well as helping the defeated and broken down Shawn Michaels to his feet. Overall a well packaged match and clearly the match of the night. Grade: 4
Justin: As Eric Bischoff was leading his team to the ring he was garnering some good heat, mainly due to the important stakes riding on this match. The story was really good here as longtime loner Steve Austin was forced to trust other wrestlers with his career. After a year long tepid face run, Scott Steiner was finally back in the role he was born to play: arrogant douchebag heel. He looked good here and had his infamous heel swagger working. During the match, JR nailed the line of the night when he ribbed Jerry Lawler about the 1994 midget war he was involved in. He even got the King to crack up when he asked where Queasy and Cheesy were. Mark Henry was back on the scene and hooked up with Teddy Long. He looks good here as he easily puts away Booker, who had a pretty disappointing showing outside of picking up a pinfall on Steiner. The action was pretty non stop the whole way through as the match was mainly made up of veterans that really knew how to work a big time match. The one person in this match that wasn’t a veteran was Randy Orton. Despite his lack of experience, Orton was clearly being pushed as the star of the match. His first big strike came when he took out RVD with an RKO. That pinfall would lead to big rematch at our next outing. The heel team gelled well and worked nicely together and once they took out the Dudleys, things looked grim for Shawn Michaels. The match was solid up to this point, but it really got cooking once it boiled down to Michaels battling Christian, Jericho and Orton. The heat segment on Michaels was fantastic and he busted out a sick, five alarm blade job that would have made the Great Muta proud. After some good teases and build, the crowd was really pumping, especially when you factor in the huge stakes hinging on the outcome. Michaels would hang in there and pick up two flash pins on Jericho and Christian. I like the way the pins happened because it seemed like the desperate Michaels got lucky, keeping Jericho and Christian strong. Things broke down from here and Austin ended up in the ring, dropping Orton with a Stunner to a monster pop. Austin would slip out of the ring and chase Bischoff to the back, which allowed Batista to sneak into the ring and drop Michaels with a powerbomb. Orton crawled on top and picked up the win to send Austin packing. The finish was really dramatic and so well done thanks to great storytelling throughout the bout. It also showed that the company was putting a lot of faith into Orton and Batista to let them be the driving forces behind Austin’s banishment. The end was dramatic as well with Austin and Michaels slowly walking to the back and everyone wondering if Austin would attack Shawn. He didn’t and gracefully said goodbye to his hometown fans before heading off. Of course, the story was far from over and Austin would show back up before the year ended. This was a great match, mainly thanks to the fantastic second half and the epic performance by Shawn Michaels, who officially showed he was back in the zone for good. Grade: 3.5
6) Mr. McMahon defeats Undertaker (Mark Callaway) in a Buried Alive match after Kane threw him in the grave at 11:59
Fun Fact: On the 10/23 Smackdown, Undertaker took his anger out on Mr. McMahon, calling him a coward for abusing his wife and daughter and warned him not to interfere in his match later in the night. New GM had given Undertaker a chance to make a match of his choosing if he beat Brock Lesnar and Big Show. Taker would win the match and shock everyone by announcing the match of his choice would be against Vince at Survivor Series and would be a Buried Alive contest. A week later Heyman told Vince that he gave Undertaker every night off until the PPV and Vince flipped out, going into a crazed rant about some awful things he would do to Taker’s family. Heyman did his best to give Vince a pep talk and told him that he wanted to work for the old Vince, the aggressive and edgy old school Vince and not the crazed maniac that abused his wife, daughter and a crippled wrestler. The next week, Undertaker delivered a pre-taped promo in which he explained his relationship with Vince over the last thirteen years and the lack of respect he felt Vince showed him and the other wrestlers in the locker room. He claimed Vince also showed no respect for his family and that it was his time to be held accountable. Later in the night, Vince asked for forgiveness for what was impending…the burial of the Undertaker. Finally, on the final week before the PPV both men delivered a promo against each other to complete the build for the match.
Scott: So the crowd is really hyped after the ten-man tag match, and now Mr. McMahon will finally get his after terrorizing Smackdown all year long. This is the first time that Taker and Vince have ever been against each other directly, and for the first few minutes it played out right. Taker beats the hell out of Vince and busts him open. I thought that wasn’t right of him to do that because of the grade-A blade job that Shawn Michaels performed the match before. In any event Taker keeps pounding away and we finally get to the mound of dirt and grave in the back corner of the arena. So you figure this is a pretty quick squash and everything will be fine. Well that’s not exactly how it works with Taker and Buried Alive matches. All of a sudden a flash comes out of the cab of the backhoe, and coming out the door is Kane. He takes his brother out, dumps the dirt on him and McMahon pulls off the upset. Well two things come of this. First off, one internet writer I won’t mention stated that Undertaker is winless all-time in Buried Alive matches. Well that’s not true since he did technically defeat Mankind at IYH: Buried Alive in 1996. Second, we finally see the end of the American Bad Ass persona. It was good for a while, but unfortunately I think it will be looked on as the time that he used his political stroke the most and put on some of his worst matches. Remember Taker/Kane at Summerslam 2000? Or Taker/Kane vs. Kronik at Unforgiven 2001? He started to level out in 2002 once he became WWE Champion and the matches got a little better. I don’t know why Vince needed to win the match for this to happen either. Vince fades off camera by the beginning of 2004 anyway, so what’s the point? Taker could have still beaten Vince and then Kane could have attacked him. I may be wrong on this assessment but I figured if Vince wasn’t going to stay on camera for any reason then what was the point of winning the match? I guess symbolically he killed the American Bad Ass but regardless I guess the inevitable Kane/Undertaker match will go down. Overall the match was pretty blah but it was done to get Kane’s character over more and put the Bad Ass persona to rest. Grade: 1.5
Justin: After Vince cost Taker his championship shot last month, Taker was looking for blood. I actually thought the story leading up to this was a good one. Vince had been running rampant and without a conscience all year long. He abused other wrestlers and his family and Taker, the moral conscience and elder statesman of the company, wanted to bring Vince to his knees and eradicate him for good. Taker started off hot and Vince was a bloody mess minutes into the battle. As nasty as Shawn’s blade job was earlier in the night, Vince did his best to top it with a sick one of his own. The crowd was a bit flat as Taker just destroyed Vince all around ringside. They seemed a bit exhausted after the drama of the last bout. Taker continued to just stalk Vince as he just poured blood from his temple. Things would get worse as Taker bashed Vince in the head with a stiff shovel shot and then took his time destroying Vince’s ankle. Vince somehow made a desperation comeback, using the shovel to fight his way back in. Just as Taker fought his way back into it, the payloader exploded and out popped Kane. He assaulted his brother and tossed him into the grave, giving Vince the win. Taker was officially buried alive and Vince once again was left laying a bloody mess despite winning the bout. After their feuding had been dormant for nearly three years, Kane finally seemed to have gotten a win over his dominant brother. Taker disappears for a while and rumors began to swirl about when he would return…and what he would look like when he did. Grade: 1.5
7) Goldberg defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain World Heavyweight Championship with a Jackhammer at 11:44
Fun Fact: On the 9/29 Raw, Triple H announced that he placed a $100,000 bounty on Goldberg’s head. On 10/13, a mystery driver tried to run down Goldberg in the parking lot. That same night, Tommy Dreamer and Shawn Michaels both tried to cash in. On the 10/20 Raw, Mark Henry assaulted the champion but couldn’t cash in either. Later that night, Goldberg was wrestling Shawn Michaels when Batista, making his surprise return from injury, came into the ring and beat Goldberg down. He locked Goldberg’s ankle in a chair and Pillmanized it, collecting on the bounty. The next week, Batista announced that he was the mystery assailant from two weeks prior and Randy Orton demanded that the injured Goldberg forfeit his title and it be awarded back to Triple H. Bischoff was about to grant the wish but GM Austin came out and announced that Triple H would get a shot at the belt in a match at the PPV. On 11/3, Goldberg made his return to wipe out Batista and Ric Flair. Austin then granted Goldberg a match with Batista for the following week. On 11/10, Triple H interfered two minutes into the match and dropped Goldberg with a Pedigree. Hunter grabbed his sledgehammer but Goldberg fought him off and nailed a spear to end the show.
Scott: Now finally when we get these two to the ring, its booked the way it should have been all along. Triple H does everything in his power to take Goldberg down, but Goldberg just shoves him off. It really should have happened back at Summerslam when he left the Chamber and creamed everybody to take the championship. Instead we stall for a couple of months so Triple H can heal his injured groin, which never really heals so he wears the fatty bike shorts. Triple H never really looked good in any of these matches during this stretch, which is why it never came off on TV well at all. I honestly can’t blame Goldberg for that, since he’s in good shape and had a chance to be the man. Instead he became grumpy because the booking was retarded which led to a pair of substandard matches. I like this one much better than their Unforgiven match simply because Goldberg was booked properly and he vanquished Triple H and the rest of Evolution. I was actually shocked, as I thought Triple H had given the big guy his few months in the sun and was ready to take his title back. However Triple H actually laid down again for him. I wonder if that was another line in Goldberg’s contract that he wouldn’t lay down clean to The Game. Technically the Summerslam match wasn’t entirely clean. In any event the night ends with Goldberg laying out all of Evolution to retain the title and send Dallas home happy. Grade: 2
Justin: Our main event features the reigning World Champion take on everyone’s favorite top heel contender, Triple H. After finally dropping the title in September, Triple H went to the sidelines to rest up and marry Stephanie McMahon. During that time, he went totally old school and put a bounty on Goldberg’s head. After a couple of attempted assaults, Batista stepped up and collected the cash, tearing up Goldberg’s ankle in the process. After that injury, Hunter was brimming with confidence as Goldberg would have to hobble into Dallas for their match. Goldberg would shrug it off and overpower the Game for the opening minutes. Hunter would turn things around and start to punish that damaged ankle with his usual offensive arsenal. Flair was his usual active self around ringside, helping Hunter keep control and ranting and raving as only he could do best. Hunter was in much better shape here than he had been since the summer as the time off had healed some of his wounds. Goldberg would turn things around and looked really strong down the stretch. Towards the end, the referee would take a nap, and Godberg got hold of the sledge. He would whack the other members of Evolution with it before polishing off the Game with a spear and a jackhammer to wrap up a solid title defense, ending the show on a positive note and Goldberg finally looked like the torchbearer of Raw, the role he should have been in since June. The finish was good and the match was really the perfect length but these two just didn’t have the chemistry in the ring to deliver a great match. Grade: 1.5
Scott: So I was very much looking forward to rewatching this show to see the crowd get stoked over Goldberg, Austin and all the rest. What I got was a spike in the ten man tag, a glorified Goldberg squash and a very boring crowd. The Smackdown matches were not good, as their Survivor match had no real sizzle due to the unknowns in it and the average in-ring action. The John Cena signs were in force and his character was building but otherwise the crowd didn’t care. There was a lot of dead space in the middle and the crowd got bored quickly. Team Austin vs. Team Bischoff woke them up and that 30 minutes was very good but honestly the rest of the show was pretty pedestrian. 2003 is limping to the finish and the verdict is still out on the brand extension. Three of the vital cogs in the WWE machine for the last six years, Undertaker, Rock, and Austin, are effectively gone and now the job at hand is to elevate some new talent. They did attempt to do that with Cena and Orton in the ten man tag matches and with one more show 2003 will come to an end. It’s had its high points, but it’s also had a good share of low points. This show had more good than bad. Final Grade: C-
Justin: As 2003 is winding to a close, the PPV outings continue to trend downwards. After peaking earlier in the year we have only had one show that exceeded expectations and that was Vengeance. Since then it has been steadily downhill and that continued here. I had high hopes for this show as the card looked solid and the crowd was pretty amped from the start. There were no bad matches, but outside of the Bischoff/Austin battle, no match really stood out. Despite that there was not much in ring action to boast about, some big happenings still went down. The Kane/Shane war finally ended, Undertaker was buried alive and headed for the sidelines, Steve Austin was driven from Raw, Chris Benoit and John Cena were set up for big 2004s and Goldberg finally put his rivalry with Triple H down for good, allowing him to stand atop Raw by himself. Well, that last one may not be entirely true, as we will see over the coming weeks. This show was an entertaining watch due to the high stakes, important happenings and hot crowd, but just temper your expectations for in ring action when you start watching it. Final Grade: C
MVP: Shawn Michaels
Runner Up: John Cena & Chris Benoit
Non-MVP: Los Guerreros
Runner Up: Kurt Angle