Date: March 13, 2003
Location: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
It’s a big night in Pittsburgh as the hometown boy Kurt Angle is defending the Smackdown World Title against former champion Brock Lesnar. WWE has hyped the heck out of having the Wrestlemania main event two and a half weeks early and that almost guarantees some kind of a screwy finish. Let’s get to it.
A fired up Lesnar arrived earlier in the day, as did a zombie-esque Angle, who is sporting a VERY black eye.
Team Angle vs. Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman
Non-title. Kidman shoulders Charlie down to start and there’s an armdrag to Shelton for good measure. Rey gets in a headscissors for two and Shelton isn’t sure how to keep up with Mysterio’s speed. It’s off to Kidman as the Angle vs. Lesnar hype continues. Shelton avoids a charge in the corner and Kidman goes shoulder first into the corner so the champs can take over. Shelton and Charlie take turns on the arm before Benjamin does his jump over Charlie onto Kidman’s back (that really needs a name).
Kidman finally gets in a dropkick and brings in Mysterio to clean house. Rey tries a hurricanrana on Shelton, who shoves him away, right into a moonsault press for two on Haas. Everything breaks down and Kidman easily reverses Charlie’s powerbomb (as you might expect). Shelton is sent outside and the 619 hits Haas. Kidman adds the shooting star press but Shelton gets up for a save. Mysterio is cut off and it’s the superkick into the German suplex to put Kidman away.
Rating: C+. Good action between four talented people, but more importantly it was nice to see Haas and Benjamin FINALLY get a win. I have no idea what the mentality is behind putting titles on people and then have them lose over and over again. A win like this helps, but they need to retain in a big title defense or there’s not much of a point to keeping the belts on them.
Stephanie McMahon is on the phone when Brian Kendrick comes in with some flowers. This goes nowhere.
Jamie Noble went to the Playboy Mansion to yell about Torrie Wilson being in Playboy instead of Nidia. After some plugs for the Girls Gone Wild show, security takes him away.
Chuck Palumbo vs. Rikishi
Rikishi goes after the other Italians and walks into a superkick from Palumbo for an early two. A belly to belly gets the same and it’s time for the required interference from the Italians. Rikishi comes back with some right hands in the corner and the Italians get on the apron. Cue Los Guerreros to take care of them though, allowing Rikishi to hit the Rump Shaker for the pin.
Undertaker finds Nathan Jones in a dark room. Apparently you can’t get the prison out of the wrestler. Undertaker doesn’t care, as long as Jones is ready for Wrestlemania.
A-Train/Big Show vs. Funaki/Tajiri
Big Show BLASTS Funaki with a clothesline at the bell and adds a gorilla press. It’s off to A-Train as Show sits in on commentary. Some kicks stagger A-Train but he knees Tajiri in the ribs to cut that off in a hurry. A dropkick to the knee allows Funaki to hit a springboard dropkick but they can’t drop the big bald. Tajiri’s kick to the face puts A-Train down so Big Show comes back in with the chokeslam. A-Train’s Trainwreck ends Funaki.
Rating: D. Just a squash and unfortunately a good way to show how generic a power team Big Show and A-Train really are. These power battle matches rarely work and I have a bad feeling about what we might be in for at Wrestlemania. The fact that Jones isn’t being allowed to get in the ring suggests a lot of problems and that’s a really bad idea going into the biggest show of the year. As a side note, is there any reason Tajiri and Funaki aren’t a regular team? They’d be fine as a midcard tag act.
We look back at Lesnar beating Heyman last week.
Fans are split on who will win the title match tonight.
Dawn Marie is sad about not being in Playboy. Sean O’Haire comes up and says that she should show off her body tonight by flashing the audience.
Torrie Wilson unveils her Playboy cover by holding up the magazine.
Here’s Dawn to say she has a nice body. She unbuttons her shirt and flashes the announcers, with the top rope covering everything up. Tazz: “THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE MELLON ARENA!”
John Cena talks about being a Viagra triple shot while Brock Lesnar is a limo biscuit.
Los Guerreros vs. Rhyno/Chris Benoit
The winners get Haas and Benjamin for the titles at Wrestlemania. The opening bell never rings as Chavo and Benoit fight over arm control. It’s off to Eddie and the fans seem appreciative of seeing these two together. Therefore it’s off to Rhyno before anything happens and a hard shove sends Eddie sprawling into the corner. For once Chavo actually does better as a snapmare into a basement dropkick has Rhyno in trouble.
Rhyno launches Eddie into the air for a crash to take over again though and it’s back to Benoit for a knee to the ribs. Benoit belly to backs Chavo for two but Eddie comes back in for a good looking dropkick. In a surprising move, Eddie calms Chavo down from getting too involved to prevent a potential DQ. It’s for Wrestlemania after all so that makes sense. Things settle down enough for Chavo to chinlock Benoit as the pace slows.
Tazz talks about dogs and cats for some reason as Chavo does one of the most obvious spot calls I’ve seen in years. Eddie’s slingshot hilo gets two and we hit the armbar. Chavo comes back in and charges straight into a Crossface but he’s too close to the ropes. Benoit rolls outside with him and it’s Eddie diving onto Benoit, followed by Rhyno running Eddie over as we take a break.
Chavo grabbing a Crossface on Benoit (and being pretty bad at it) but Rhyno tags Benoit’s boot to come in for the save. A belly to belly into a chinlock slows Chavo down but he’s right back up with a middle rope dropkick. It’s back to Eddie vs. Benoit with Guerrero winning a slugout and grabbing a hurricanrana. He takes a bit too much time slapping his chest though and Benoit catches him on top, only to get caught in a sunset bomb for two.
Rhyno throws Chavo outside and still manages to break up a small package on Benoit. Chavo comes back in but gets caught in the Crossface, onto to have Eddie break it up with a frog splash. There’s a Gore to Eddie but Chavo hurricanranas him out to the floor. That leaves Benoit to roll some German suplexes on Eddie, who pops right back up with Three Amigos. Benoit will have none of that though and reverses into the Crossface but Eddie gets his hand out, earning himself even more German suplexes….and here’s Team Angle for the no contest after twenty minutes.
Rating: B. They were really starting to roll when the stupid finish happened. If Haas and Benjamin were just going to run in and end the match that way, why did they wait that long to do so? Anyway, Rhyno has fit right back into this show and is a nice power addition to go with the high fliers and technicians. You know this is setting up a triple threat at Wrestlemania and while I’d rather have Benoit do something important on is own, at least he’s in a title match.
We look back at last week with Hulk Hogan and Vince McMahon agreeing to a fight at Wrestlemania. Well at least they were gentlemen about it. For some reason we also have to hear them go on about all their history together, because, again, fans care SO MUCH about lawsuits and wrestlers jumping ship seven years ago.
Stephanie tells Team Angle that they’ll be facing both teams at Wrestlemania.
We get a clip from 1984 of Vince introducing a clip of Hogan beating Iron Sheik for the title, which transitions into a Hogan video package, including several Hogan Wrestlemania moments. That’s it for the fun stuff as we now go to an interview from some DVD of Hogan talking about being the one out there doing all this stuff. Vince threw him the ball and Hogan ran with it. It’s capped off by a clip from 1992 of Vince and Hogan sitting together before Hogan’s “retirement” match where they shake hands and thank each other.
Vince makes us watch the final part two more times and says that’s the only time Hogan ever thanked him for anything. What an ingrate. They used to be the best of friends but then Hogan changed. That change hurt Vince’s family and business which cut him to the bone. That clip wasn’t Hogan saying thank you but rather SCREW YOU VINCE.
We hear about how horrible it was for Hogan to jump to WCW again and Vince reiterates that it’s a fight instead of a match. We go to an extreme closeup as Vince says that after Wrestlemania, he is going to be devastated because Hogan has forced him to kill one of his own creations. For that, he can never forgive Hogan.
Cole says the contract signing for Hogan vs. McMahon is next week in the historic Freedom Hall in Louisville, Kentucky. Freedom Hall is not historic Cole.
Here’s Matt Hardy, who has never locked his keys in his car and hates cleaning his carpet, to issue an open challenge to anyone under 220lbs, save for Mysterio of course.
Matt Hardy vs. Pittsburgh Penguin
Non-title and it’s Brian Kendrick under a mask with a carrot for a nose. Tazz: “So this guy can fly then?” The Penguin tries to speed things up to start and hits a dropkick. Sliced Bread #2 is broken up so it’s a headscissors out of the corner to send Hardy flying. The Ricochet gets two though and Matt stomps away on the back. A tilt-a-whirl slam gets two and there goes the mask, revealing Kendrick in not the best surprise. Kendrick gets two off a facebuster and something like a tornado DDT gets two more. Shannon offers a distraction but Kendrick is able to grab Sliced Bread anyway. That’s enough for Matt as he takes the countout.
Rating: D+. Not terrible and the surprise (as obvious as it was) wasn’t the worst idea in the world. Having Kendrick win via countout makes him look good, though I’m not sure how smart it is to do that to a champion right before the biggest show of the year. Just have him beat Shannon instead as it’s not like that means anything.
After a break, Rey praises Kendrick.
Long recap of Lesnar vs. Angle.
Wrestlemania Moment: Hogan vs. Andre. That works.
Smackdown World Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
Angle is defending in his hometown. Kurt comes to the ring with his hood up and immediately drops to his knee in the corner with his face against the buckle. Brock jumps him from behind and fires off the shoulders to the back as the hood is still up. The F5 connects but Brock lets him up at two because that’s not Kurt. Cue Team Angle for a distraction so the real Kurt can switch with whoever was in the ring. Angle small packages Brock to retain in maybe 90 seconds.
Kurt bails so Brock hits the F5 into the post on the other Angle, who Tazz recognizes as Kurt’s brother Eric, to end the show. Basically Kurt’s neck was destroyed and he didn’t think he’d be able to do Wrestlemania. This match was going to be a quick title change but Angle opted for surgery after working Wrestlemania because Angle is, shall we say, freaking crazy.
Overall Rating: D. That ending felt straight out of WCW and really brings down the rest of the show. It’s all they were talking about for most of the night and that’s not how you want to wrap up one of the last shows of the year before Wrestlemania. On top of that, the Vince vs. Hogan stuff is getting old in a hurry and the rest of Smackdown’s stuff isn’t all that great. Bad show this week as the main event cuts the legs off what could have been a good, or at least ok, night.
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