Smackdown – April 10, 2003

Date: April 10, 2003
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

It’s tournament time and that means some bigger matches tonight. The tournament seems to be John Cena’s to win, especially with the FBI around to mess with Undertaker. Why he’s stuck with the FBI isn’t clear, but it’s also not clear why Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon is continuing. Let’s get to it.

Brock Lesnar arrived earlier today and greeted some fans, two of whom are none other than Mr. Kennedy and CM Punk. Kennedy’s mugging for the camera is amusing.

Opening sequence.

Brock Lesnar vs. Matt Hardy

Non-title, meaning Matt, whose book is a New York Times best seller (of course) and is currently the longest reigning singles champion on Smackdown, can’t leave as a double champion. Matt lays the Cruiserweight Title in front of Brock, who casually kicks it away and lays his title in front of him instead.

Matt goes to pick it up so Brock steps on it and takes Matt’s head off with a clothesline. The very brave Shannon offers a distraction so Matt can get in a belt shot for a fast two. We hit the stomping for a bit before Brock backdrops him to the apron with Matt’s face smacking off the bar that connects the turnbuckle to the post.

It doesn’t seem to change much as Matt snaps the back of Brock’s neck across the ropes, only to get dropped with a scary looking electric chair. Brock makes the clothesline comeback and tosses Matt with an overhead belly to belly. Shannon has to eat a shot to the head as well, leaving Matt to take the F5 for the pin.

Rating: C. Matt was game here but there was only so much he could do in a match like this. If nothing else it gave us more of Shannon’s impressive selling as he looks like he’s getting killed every single time. Brock gets a nice win as he’s back in the ring and it’s not like the Cruiserweight Champion losing to Brock is going to really hurt him.

Roddy Piper talks about the Frankie Williams interview on Piper’s Pit where he beat the heck out of a jobber and dropped the “just when they think they’ve got all the answers, I change the questions” line.

We look back at Hogan and Vince’s segment last week with Vince sending Hogan home to get rid of him and Hulkamania for good. Is this really the best thing they can do with their TV time? I get the idea of nostalgia but wouldn’t that be more like Hogan beating up A-Train in a five minute match? This is more trying to make Hogan into Austin, which is the biggest stretch you could have.

Jamie Noble/Nidia vs. Brian Kendrick/Torrie Wilson

Sable is at ringside with Torrie’s Playboy. Noble jumps Kendrick from behind but gets sent into Nidia’s raised boot by mistake. Kendrick’s tornado DDT is countered with a northern lights suplex, sending Kendrick back first into the turnbuckle in a good looking bump. We hit the chinlock as the fans cheer for Torrie. It’s off to a reverse cravate before Sliced Bread #2 is countered with a neckbreaker. Nidia misses a Rocket Launcher though and Torrie gets the hot tag. Torrie’s neckbreaker gets two and everything breaks down. Nidia’s high crossbody hits Jamie and it’s a tornado (more like a stiff breeze) DDT to put Nidia away.

Rating: C. Not a bad match actually with the guys doing most of the work until Torrie got to do her thing at the end. As long as they keep her matches short, everything should be fine. There’s no secret about why she’s out there and she’s actually passable in the ring at times. This could have been a lot worse so I’ll take what I can get.

Sable is rather pleased.

Chris Benoit and Rhyno both want to face Brock at Backlash. Brock is cool with facing either of them.

#1 Contenders Tournament Semifinals: Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno

An early test of strength goes to Rhyno (duh) and he twists the arms around into a cross arm choke. Benoit spins out without much effort and starts in on the arm, only to get suplexed down for two. It’s time for the hard chops which actually bring Rhyno down to his knees. A knee to the ribs has Rhyno in more trouble but he avoids a dropkick.

Rhyno grabs a bodyscissors of all things until Benoit comes back with more chops. The Gore only hits the turnbuckle but a spinebuster gets two. A hard elbow to the jaw sets up the Swan Dive for two but Chris can’t get the Crossface. What he can get though is a backslide for the pin and a spot in the finals.

Rating: B-. They beat each other up here and that made for an entertaining match. Rhyno is someone who is capable of having a better match than most people would give him credit for and that’s what happened here. The ending was a nice touch too with Benoit catching Rhyno instead of flat out beating him, which should do some good for the sake of keeping their team together.

They shake hands post match.

Torrie is in the shower when Sable comes in. Sable praises her Playboy and steals the towel so Torrie has to come and get it.

Piper talks about cracking Jimmy Snuka in the head with a coconut.

It’s time for Piper’s Pit but Vince is in the ring instead. He talks about Hogan being sent home to rot so that when he’s allowed to be back, he’ll need a bag underneath him to collect his bodily waste. That brings Vince to another of his creations that he’d like to pull off the shelf: Roddy Piper. Cue Piper to interview his guest, which is of course Vince.

After mocking Vince for having small fingers, Piper says no one created him but himself. Vince mocks Piper’s ample gut, including saying that he looks like he went to heck in a breadbasket. We get an offer for Piper to join Vince’s club but Piper rips on Vince’s business failures, including the WBF and the XFL. Vince’s eyes bugging out for a few seconds is a nice touch.

Anyway, the only job Vince can hold is the one his daddy gave him. Vince gets up and talks about their dislike of Hogan, though of course they still hate each other. Piper takes off the jacket (Vince: “From one son of a b**** to another.”) and they shake over their mutual hatred of Hogan. Vince goes to leave until Piper congratulates him on doing something Piper never did: lose 1-2-3 to Hogan. Save for SuperBrawl VII of course but you can’t ask Piper to remember things like history.

Vince is mad but here’s Rikishi of all people, carrying a coconut. Rikishi remembers what Piper did to Snuka all those years ago and it’s time for revenge. Cue Sean O’Haire of all people to drop Rikishi with a clothesline and hit him with the wooden chair. Piper busts the coconut over Rikishi’s head as this is one of the most ridiculous segments I’ve seen in a long time.

I’m assuming they’re going for the old school fans here but going for the over 40 audience isn’t the best idea in the world. Adding O’Haire in helps, but the coconut stuff and Rikishi, plus the eventual return of Hogan to take all of the spotlight isn’t going to do anyone any favors. Cut out some of the nonsense and there’s something there, though there’s a lot to get through to get to it.

Les Nouvelles (La Resistance) are coming.

Team Angle vs. Rey Mysterio/Tajiri

Non-title and Team Angle dedicates this to Kurt, who is undergoing neck surgery tomorrow. Haas armbars Tajiri down to start, only to get caught in the Tarantula with Mysterio adding a running dropkick for an early two. Shelton comes in to take a dropkick as well but a Haas distraction lets Benjamin get in a superkick to take over. A double gutbuster sets up an abdominal stretch for a bit before Rey is taken into the corner.

An electric chair is countered into something like a bulldog and it’s off to Tajiri. The handspring forearm (instead of an elbow this time) gets two on Haas as everything breaks down again. Some kind of a powerbomb double team is countered into a hurricanrana to put Charlie down. The 619 into the springboard legdrop gives Rey the pin.

Rating: C+. Just like the Rhyno vs. Benoit match, this would have been better with some more time but it was fun while it lasted. That being said, I really could go with the champs being a bit more successful. I’m sure this is going to set up a title match either here or at Backlash but isn’t there a better way than having them lose clean in less than five minutes?

Undertaker is ready to win because he’s got more shower time than John Cena has ring time. Tonight he’s going to beat Cena up to shut him up then bust him up.

Bill DeMott vs. Nathan Jones

This is Jones’ in-ring debut. DeMott grabs a hammerlock so Nathan punches in the in the face. A toss sends Bill outside as Nathan seems lost out there less than a minute in. Back in and Nathan kicks him in the face for the pin. Jones didn’t even do four offensive moves in the 80 second match.

The FBI talks about Italian food and claims that they’ve had thousands of dollars and a laptop stolen from their bags. They’re asked who might have done it.

Post break Nathan is questioned about the robbery when Undertaker comes up to say this is nonsense. Jones has to leave anyway.

#1 Contenders Tournament Semifinals: John Cena vs. Undertaker

Cena says Deadman Inc. is bankrupt and he’s repossessing the yard. If Undertaker is a deadman, Cena is a necrophiliac. I really didn’t need to know that and we’ll move on. Undertaker sends him into the corner to start but stops to glare at the referee. Some big right hands have Cena in trouble and Undertaker asks if he wants to keep talking. A chokeslam gets a delayed two with Cena’s foot on the rope.

Back from a break with Undertaker still in complete control and driving in some elbows on the apron. The apron legdrop to Cena’s back but a right hand with the chain gives Cena an opening. A shoulder knocks Undertaker off the apron and gets in a shot on the bad elbow. Undertaker has a bad elbow? Good to know guys.

Cena stomps the arm into the steps but Undertaker hits a shoulder with the bad arm for no apparent reason. Old School looks to set up the Last Ride but Cena reverses into a DDT on the arm for a near fall. We hit the armbar for a bit until Undertaker punches him down without much effort. Snake Eyes into the big boot but the ref gets bumped. Just get the Italians out here already.

Cena grabs a spinebuster, only to get caught in the Last Ride. Cue the FBI for the attack with Palumbo getting in a chair shot to the head. Cole: “Flashbulb just went off! Nathan Jones has been taken out of the building!” Sweet goodness I’m surprised he got it that fast. Cena crawls over for the cover and the pin because Heaven forbid he gets the pin with his finisher.

Rating: D. Until that chain shot, Undertaker was beating Cena like the rookie that he was. It’s good that Cena won, though it would have been nice to have Undertaker not treat him like the biggest waste of his time he could find. I have no idea why the FBI is getting this spot either, but it was ALL about Undertaker here and that defeats the purpose of giving someone like Cena the win here.

Overall Rating: C-. It’s a good enough show but there’s a lot of bad stuff throughout the show taking it back down. The big story is really holding down the rest of the show as it’s just not interesting. Much like the main event, I like the idea of putting over a young guy but they’re making sure to pile on as much stuff as they can to keep it from accomplishing its goal. The wrestling on here, with the little time that it got, worked well, though it’s almost completely forgotten for the sake of the big stories. That’s fine in theory but it would help a lot if the big stories were a lot less horrible.

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