Smackdown – March 6, 2003

Date: March 6, 2003
Location: Harbor Yard Arena, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

We’ve reached Wrestlemania month and it’s time for some payback as we have Brock Lesnar vs. Paul Heyman inside a steel cage. The hard sell for the pay per view has become but Kurt Angle’s neck isn’t even being held together by gum and duct tape anymore. It should be interesting to see how the company deals with that as Wrestlemania is less than a month away. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Rey Mysterio vs. Jamie Noble vs. Tajiri

Winner gets the Cruiserweight Title shot at Wrestlemania. Only Rey gets an entrance and he’s tossed to the floor to start, leaving the other two to slug it out. Rey comes back in with a springboard seated senton for two on Noble but Tajiri starts in with the kicks to take over. A spinning springboard crossbody gets two more on Tajiri but it’s a handspring elbow to drop Noble.

Mysterio gets sent outside so Noble can grab a Fujiwara armbar on Tajiri. That means a rope grab for a quick break as Rey comes back as well. A three man Tower of Doom (not yet named that of course) drops Mysterio and all three are down. Noble gets two on both of them and a powerslam on Tajiri gets the same.

Tajiri is right back up with the Buzzsaw Kick for two as Rey makes the save. Rey drops the dime on Tajiri for two and there’s the 619 to Noble. It’s too early for the West Coast Pop though as Tajiri BLASTS Rey with a kick to the head, only to have Rey roll him up for the pin and the title shot.

Rating: C+. Fun match here and the shorter time worked well for it. This isn’t something that needed to be stretched out to ten or more minutes so keeping things fast paced and tight was the best thing they could have done. Mysterio getting the title shot was the only way to go here as him winning the title is going to be a big deal.

Los Guerreros vs. FBI

Palumbo and Stamboli for the Italians here. Cole gets straight to the bad news: Rikishi is on a PR tour tonight and won’t be here. There go the ratings. Chavo and Palumbo get things going with the bigger Chuck driving him into the corner, only to get slapped in the face. It’s off to Eddie for a few kicks to the head, including a dropkick to a charging Stamboli. Palumbo gets in a cheap (and mistimed) right hand from the floor though and the Italians take over.

A good looking Samoan drop plants Eddie again as the FBI aren’t bad for a power team. Generic mind you but not bad. We hit the bearhug on Eddie for a bit until a hurricanrana gets him out of trouble. The hot tag brings in Chavo to start cleaning house as everything breaks down. Eddie and Palumbo fall out to the floor and Chavo brings Nunzio in. Stamboli hits a quick fall away slam but Eddie comes in with a frog splash to Johnny’s head, giving Chavo the easy pin.

Rating: C-. I know I said the FBI were fine, but is this really the best we can do for Los Guerreros? Most of the division has been taken apart and the best we can do is have one of the best teams face the FBI? It’s a watchable match but this really wasn’t interesting and that’s not what should be happening with one of your best acts.

Heyman is panicking but his clients (all five of them) say they’ve got his back. Angle implies he can sweet talk Stephanie out of the match.

Wrestlemania is 24 days away. That still makes me smile even when the video is fourteen years old.

Heyman and Angle try to talk their way out of the match with Paul diving at her knees and begging. It doesn’t work so Heyman leaves Angle to hit on Stephanie. This goes badly as well as Stephanie makes things a little worse: if Brock wins, he gets Angle next week for the title. So to clarify, Stephanie is currently a bastion of all things good and wholesome who can shout about having integrity. Just in case you thought she was bad at being a face or something, because Stephanie isn’t bad at anything.

Cruiserweight Title: Matt Hardy vs. Billy Kidman

Matt, who enjoys looking at pictures in Playboy and considers himself a sex symbol, is defending. The champ tries a rollup before the bell and has to wait for a one count. Kidman gets sent over the top so Shannon can get in a few cheap shots and we hit a bow and arrow back inside.

An enziguri gets Kidman out of trouble and he kicks Matt out of the corner and onto the top rope for a good crotching. Kidman hits his own screaming legdrop for two and a Bodog looks to set up the shooting star. Thankfully Shannon is right there to pull Matt outside so Kidman dives onto both of them. Back in and a Side Effect and the Twist of Fate retain the title.

Rating: C. Kidman was trying here but it’s clear that his time near the title is gone. Matt has instantly become a far more interesting character because he actually has some charisma and more than a good match with a cool finisher. Hardy vs. Mysterio should be a good pay per view match, especially if Shannon is running around like a good annoying lackey.

Package on Torrie Wilson’s Playboy shoot. The cover will be unveiled next week.

Nidia went to the Playboy Mansion to complain about not being in the magazine and got in some Girls Gone Wild plugs.

Nidia challenges Torrie to a body challenge at the Girls Gone Wild pay per view, flat out saying they’ll both be naked. She flashes Josh Matthews for good measure.

Hulk Hogan sends a referee to tell Vince that he’s going to the ring.

Here’s Hogan to start the real push towards his match with Vince. He’s got something to get off his chest: sure he could just leave this place for good and be done with Vince, but the boss has gotten under his skin. There’s an issue with them and it goes way deeper than him costing Hogan a match with Rock. Hogan wants Vince out here right now to settle this like men.

This brings out the boss to say he has no problem settling this man to man but Hogan is no man. Hogan cuts him off and rants about all of Vince’s delusions of grandeur about creating Hulkamania. These Hulkamaniacs are the reason for Hulkamania and the reason that Vince has all of his money. Vince says that anyone could have been Hogan so Hulk asks about all the people that Vince tried to push as the star with none of them running as hard as he did.

In a pretty infamous moment (which I’d assume never made air and can only be found online), Hogan starts flubbing his lines, including pausing to say “let me say it one more time just so you completely understand.” Hogan says he was also the right “gay” at the right time before stumbling over a challenge to fight Vince tonight. Vince looking like he’s having to bite through his lip to keep from laughing doesn’t help things either.

Vince says there’s no chance of a fight tonight but let’s talk about Hogan bailing to WCW and the steroids trial as this is somehow still going. Hulk says he kept Vince out of jail and implies that there would have been a lot of activity in the shower if Vince was still there. This somehow KEEPS GOING with Vince taking credit for plucking Hogan from obscurity in Minnesota.

Vince finally agrees to fight Hogan at Wrestlemania to give us what they probably saw as the real main event. For a bonus, Hogan’s career is on the line and Hulk immediately agrees. They cut each other off over trying to use Hogan’s catchphrases until Hogan tells Vince to start saying his prayers to FINALLY wrap this up.

This was WAY too long at nearly fifteen minutes (if you take out the flubbed lines) and with a lot of stuff that most fans don’t care about at all, mainly because they were about ten years ago. Doing Hogan vs. Vince at Wrestlemania over who is the bigger star is fine enough, but you really don’t need to drag up WCW (again) or the steroids trial as it’s just extra baggage on an already easy to write feud.

Undertaker coached Nathan Jones in the ring earlier today, which translates to he watched him hiptoss some jobbers. The big advice: the ring is like a prison cell. Next up: headlocks and a shoulder block, though Undertaker gets mad when Jones doesn’t show enough power to knock someone out. Nathan kicks the jobber’s head off and Undertaker has to calm him down.

A-Train vs. Undertaker

Big Show and Jones are the seconds. They trade big shots to start until Big Show offers a distraction to get Undertaker outside. The distraction lets A-Train grab a powerslam for two and he throws him outside for another beating from Big Show. Jones, apparently done shopping for fruit, FINALLY comes over to stare Show off so A-Train can stomp away even more. Undertaker gets in a few shots of his own and it’s time for Old School. The Derailer connects but Undertaker grabs his triangle choke, only to draw in Big Show (with his very white shoes). Jones comes in as well and the match is thrown out.

Rating: D-. I know what they’re setting up for Wrestlemania and Jones has a great look but this is hardly the most interesting thing in the world. It’s better than Undertaker vs. Big Show though and I’m not sure I could handle Undertaker vs. A-Train at Wrestlemania so this might actually be the best possible option if we just have to continue this feud.

Clip of Heyman turning on Lesnar at Survivor Series.

During the break, Stephanie ejected A-Train and Big Show and will NOT take any lip from Big Show.

Rhyno/Chris Benoit vs. Team Angle

Non-title. Benoit takes Shelton down by the leg to start and they hit the mat for some grappling. Shelton can’t get out of a hammerlock so it’s off to Rhyno, who catches Charlie in a drop toehold. Charlie gets Benoit into the wrong corner so it’s off to Shelton, who needs a blind tag to escape a Crossface attempt. A powerslam goes a bit better for Haas but Benoit drops him with a clothesline to set up a double tag.

Rhyno gets to clean house for a bit but Charlie breaks up a Gore. A superkick from Shelton sets up a chinlock and we take a break (How often do you see one of those as we go to a commercial?). Back with Shelton getting in a shot to Rhyno’s neck for two and Charlie wraps his leg around Rhyno’s neck and pulls on the arm (basically sitting on Rhyno’s neck).

Benjamin opts for a standard cravate before handing it off to Charlie for some choking on the ropes. Rhyno finally gets in a spinebuster for a breather and the hot tag brings in Benoit. Shelton gets sent into the post and Benoit rolls the German suplex on Charlie, setting up the Swan Dive for two. The Crossface is countered and it’s off to the Haas of Pain until Rhyno makes a save. The Gore takes Shelton down and the Crossface ends Haas.

Rating: C+. The ending was good but the middle was a bit dry for my tastes. The biggest problem here is the continued losing streak for the champs, who haven’t won a match, even a handicap match, since winning the titles. Just having the belts isn’t going to carry them forever and while their matches are good, they need to be impressive and dominant wrestlers instead of just lackeys in similar tights.

Cena is back on his feet, albeit using a cane, and promises to unleash the beast on Brock. He’s so intense that he’s going to fill Brock full of holes like a chain link fence.

Kurt Angle is giving Heyman a pep talk when Team Angle comes in to yell at them for not being there. Angle calms them down and tells Heyman to go do it.

Video on the South Africa tour.

Paul Heyman vs. Brock Lesnar

Inside a cage and if Lesnar wins, he gets Angle for the title next week. Kurt and Team Angle come to the ring with Heyman, who is going to be wrestling in a suit. Lesnar easily dispatches Haas and Benjamin and beats up Kurt with even less effort (drawing some blood), allowing him to throw Paul inside for the opening bell.

Brock gets in a few shots until Kurt comes in and takes out the knee. There’s an Angle Slam to give Heyman two and it’s off to the ankle lock. Heyman still can’t escape as Brock holds him down while still in the hold. Kurt gets sent into the cage but Brock pulls Heyman off the top. The F5 easily finishes Paul.

Rating: D. This might be the best example I’ve ever seen of angle advancement disguised as a match. The wrestling here meant nothing of course but setting up Lesnar vs. Angle next week makes sense, even if Angle is in no shape to wrestle whatsoever. At least they’re setting up something in advance, which is more than they usually pull off.

Lesnar stares Angle down to end the show.

Overall Rating: D+. The wrestling was watchable with the worst matches both being under five minutes but that Hogan vs. Vince segment really brought things down. Wrestlemania really isn’t shaping up very well as the TV shows are getting worse every week. I’m assuming Edge and Angle being hurt really screwed things up but it’s still not looking good as we head for Seattle.

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