Monday Night Raw
Date: January 13, 2003
Location: Mohegan Sun Arena, Uncasville, Connecticut
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
It’s the go home Raw before Sunday’s Royal Rumble and hopefully we actually hear a few more names for the Rumble itself. However, we’re lucky enough to get more of HHH vs. Scott Steiner without having them actually doing anything physical. Throw in more of Bischoff as McMahon and the show could manage to set new standards for horrible. Above all else though, Vince McMahon is here tonight and that makes for some drama. Let’s get to it.
Eric Bischoff and Chief Morely are in the back waiting for Vince. Earl Hebner comes up to complain about referee treatment and says the word strike has been mentioned. The Chief goes off to deal with that when Steiner comes up behind Bischoff. Scott wants to fight HHH tonight but Bischoff sets up a bench press contest instead. You can imagine how Steiner reacts.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Victoria vs. Jacqueline
Victoria is defending and this is a hardcore match. You know, that thing that they banned from Raw last year until they forgot about it a week later. There are trashcans full of weapons at the corners, including a cardboard cutout of Trish. Victoria spends too much time ripping the thing up so Jackie beats on her, only to botch a headscissors. Instead of flipping over, Victoria fell backwards, making it look closer to a spinning crossbody rather than a headscissors. Much like last week, this isn’t thrilling me with confidence for 2003.
Steven Richards low bridges Jackie to the floor, accidentally allowing Trish to fire off some kendo stick shots. A few swings of a trashcan lid put Trish down but she avoids a moonsault. Jackie gets some ice cold near falls but gets pulled to the floor and send into the barricade. Victoria sends Trish face first into the ropes where Richards…..grazes her shoulder with the lid to give Victoria the pin. This was down there with the Jackie Gayda vs. Trish portions of that mixed tag as they managed to blow almost every big spot of a match that didn’t even last two and a half minutes.
Trish and Jackie beat up the villains for a bit until Steven takes them both out. The Hurricane of all people makes the save.
The Dudleys yell at Bischoff and beat up Morely. Eric fires them so Bubba threatens to go to Smackdown. Hang on a sec then as Bischoff rescinds the firing and suspends them instead.
Maven/Test vs. Christopher Nowinski/D’Lo Brown
Thankfully Brown is back to his normal look. Let that sink in for a second: the Testicles joke can survive for months but that stupid gimmick didn’t even make it three weeks. Test gets clotheslined down to start and we’re in an early double teaming. The comeback takes even less time and Maven comes in for a double elbow to Nowinski’s jaw. Brown gets in a Stunner over the top rope and Nowinski adds a sloppy spinebuster.
The bad guys take turns beating on Maven with Nowinski showing off that Tough Enough style offense. Brown hits a hard clothesline as this is still going for no apparent reason. We hit an armbar for a bit until Maven gets over to Test for the house cleaning. The Test Drive drops Nowinski but Test’s big boot (Test: “BOOT!”) misses. Brown hits the Sky High on Maven but that’s not the legal man so there’s no count. A Stacy distraction lets Test get in the big boot for the pin.
Rating: D-. It’s not that the match was bad but sweet pickles on popsicle sticks it was dull. Maven and Nowinski are glorified jobbers and because of some reality show, we’re stuck watching them almost every week. Nowinski is further along with the Harvard stuff but that’s not exactly saying much.
Bischoff goes up to a limousine but finds Gene Okerlund, who is in town for Raw X. Insults are exchanged and Gene says if Bischoff was smarter, we’d be having a Nitro reunion. I believe he’s going for “Nitro would still be around” but who am I to doubt Mean Gene? The limo takes Gene away and Chris Jericho comes in, begging to be #1 in the Royal Rumble. Eric says go win the over the top rope challenge and they’ll talk.
F-View (That’s still a thing?) shows William Regal insulting Lawler’s book before their match tonight. Regal tells Lance Storm that he has the brass knuckles ready. Did this really need to be on a hidden camera?
Jerry Lawler vs. William Regal
Storm comes out with Regal and Lawler isn’t happy. Before get get going, Regal reads a section of his book about Lawler’s sex life. Three referees come out to check Regal and find his knuckles. Storm gets checked as well, despite not being in the match. Storm has knuckles as well (brass ones, not the ones on his hand) and gets ejected. During the melee, Lawler pulls out a chain to knock Regal cold, only to get caught and disqualified. Keep in mind that Regal and Storm won the Tag Team Titles last week because they NEEDED the belts for this bit you see. I have no idea why but they certainly needed them.
Lawler says he’s still the king.
Raven vs. Jeff Hardy
The winner gets to be the final Raw Royal Rumble entrant. Who are the other fourteen? Well that’s not important at the moment. What is important is Raven having a huge haircut and trunks instead of his usual gear. Jeff grabs some early rollups for two each before they both fall out to the floor.
Raven wraps the knee around the post though and Jeff is in fast trouble. That lasts all of ten seconds before Jeff sends him into the corner, only to miss a moonsault. We hit a spinning toehold for a bit before Jeff goes with the usual for the comeback. The Raven Effect is broken up and a Swanton to the thighs is enough to give Jeff the pin.
Rating: C-. They were working harder than you would expect out there but the idea of Hardy vs. Raven for a spot in the Rumble isn’t exactly the highest level of drama. I don’t remember the last time Raven had a match on Raw while Jeff at least still has some star power, which always helps.
Vince arrives, doesn’t say much to Bischoff, and slaps Orton’s 94% shoulder. He slaps the shoulder though and Orton cringes in a good bit.
Sean O’Haire vignette, talking about how you should have an affair.
Here’s Vince for his big announcement but cue the Dudleys before he can say anything. They get straight to the point and ask for the suspension to be overturned and Vince says okey dokey. Oh and they can have a title shot on Sunday. Again: Booker T. and Goldust continue to look like nothing despite being one of the most popular teams in recent memory.
Bubba and D-Von leave but here’s Jericho to interrupt. Chris sucks up a bit before asking if he can be #1 in the Rumble. Vince tells him to shut up and says the winner of tonight’s over the top rope challenge gets to pick any number in the Rumble, save for #1 which Shawn Michaels has already taken. As usual, WWE seems to think that #1 is better than #2 for reasons likely used to praise Shawn’s 1995 performance even more. With Jericho gone, Vince gets cut off AGAIN, this time by Bischoff.
Vince almost immediately tells him to shut up because he’s here to make an announcement for the anniversary special. However, it’s time for a public job evaluation. While the people don’t think Bischoff is doing well, Vince thinks Eric is doing quite well. After praising him, Vince goes into a long explanation for how Eric hasn’t done anything he was hired for. Therefore, Eric has thirty days to turn Raw around or he’s fired. In other words, Raw sucks and needs to change but it might be another month.
Post break Vince is leaving with Eric groveling. Vince already has a replacement in mind though and here’s Shane to stare Bischoff down.
Booker T. vs. Lance Storm
Booker headlocks him to start and hits a hard clothesline, followed by a knee drop for two. The spinning sunset flip out of the corner is broken up but Storm can’t get in the Sharpshooter. They trade a few shots until Storm grabs a backbreaker and slaps on a chinlock. Booker fights up and hits a few chops before the referee gets bumped. Regal and Goldust get in a fight on the floor as the Dudleys run in for the DQ.
Rating: D+. This was a perfectly acceptable match until that ridiculous finish. There was no mention of Booker and Goldust getting their rematch and it really does seem that their time as contenders to the titles is over. The Dudleys were shoved into this spot for no apparent reason, especially when Goldust and Booker have issues with Bischoff dating back to their feud with 3 Minute Warning.
A bunch of big Smackdown names (Edge, Lesnar, Angle) are at The World.
Hurricane vs. Steven Richards
Trish is with Hurricane. Richards goes right for him to start but the StevieDT is countered with a suplex. The women get in a fight and the Eye of the Hurricane ends Richards at less than ninety seconds.
Trish and Hurricane clean house after the match.
Nathan Jones video.
Pay per view rundown, which does include fifteen Raw names. Now other than Shawn Michaels, the biggest name is Chris Jericho and it falls off a cliff from there, but there are fifteen.
It’s time for the bench press challenge with Steiner coming out first. He’s tired of these games because he’s beaten HHH at every challenge so far. Scott wants 585lbs to start and after a break but before the first lift, here’s HHH in a suit. Instead of stopping at the bench press, HHH goes to the ring to talk about how he’s the best wrestler in the world and none of this other stuff matters. Again, STOP TELLING US THAT WE’VE BEEN WASTING OUR TIME WATCHING YOUR SHOW!
HHH lists off all the names he’s destroyed and promises to make an example of Steiner, just like he has with everyone else. Steiner comes to the ring and the fight is on with Scott getting the better of it and ripping HHH’s suit off. This leaves HHH in….eh about the same look he regularly wrestles in. I’m assuming this is a takeoff of the Ricky Steamboat vs. Ric Flair angle, which of course lead to a masterpiece. Something (common sense perhaps) tells me that won’t be the case here.
Rob Van Dam vs. Kane vs. Batista vs. Chris Jericho
Over the top rope challenge (four man battle royal) and the winner can pick any number, save for #1, in the Rumble. JR gets his history wrong by saying Shawn won the Royal Rumble in 1995 and went on to win the main event of Wrestlemania that year. It’s a brawl to start (as it should be) with Jericho saving Batista for no apparent reason.
Van Dam goes shoulder first into the post as the power guys brawl on the other side. There’s not much going on here as they’re barely trying for eliminations and are just beating each other up. Jericho dives at Kane, who can’t catch him, but does pick him up a few seconds later.
Rob is finally sent to the apron, only to come back in with a top rope boot to the face. Rolling Thunder connects on Jericho and Batista shoulders Kane down. Jericho saves Batista from a chokeslam and Kane is clotheslined to the floor. The Batista Bomb plants Jericho but Rob kicks Batista out. Ever the brilliant one, Rob goes up but Batista crotches him, allowing Jericho to get the win.
Rating: F. So we had botches in a bad match that had no heat. This is what they decided to use to close the show and somehow that’s the better way to wrap it up instead of the HHH vs. Steiner nonsense. The match was little more than a long segment as the wrestlers weren’t even trying for eliminations most of the time. Terrible match.
Jericho picks the #2 spot so here’s Shawn to throw him over the top to end the show.
Overall Rating: D-. That’s one of the worst go home shows I’ve seen them put together in a very long time. There wasn’t a good match, the angles that they’re advancing had almost nothing to do with the Royal Rumble (the Women’s Title isn’t on the line, Hurricane isn’t even in the Rumble and Lawler is Lawler) and the big story is about two guys not wrestling, mainly out of fear for how bad it could be. This is really their big way to start not only the year but build to the Royal Rumble? It’s going to be a very long 2003.
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