Smackdown – July 3, 2003

Date: July 3, 2003
Location: Blue Cross Arena, Rochester, New York
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

Believe it or not, tonight is going to be focused on Stephanie McMahon, who is still trying to save Zach Gowen from her dad or whatever it is this time. Therefore, tonight it’s Gowen/Stephanie against Big Show for Gowen’s contract because that’s what this show is looking for. Let’s get to it.

We open with a long recap of Vince vs. Gowen, including Vince trying to make Gowen join his club last week. Last week’s six man main event is included, which set up tonight’s handicap match.

Vince, in a creepy closeup, says he’s ready to close the fate of Mr. America. After that, he’ll see Stephanie and Gowen crushed in the first ever true handicap match.

Cruiserweight Title: Rey Mysterio vs. Nunzio

Nunzio is challenging and Billy Kidman is in the crowd again. I know facing Undertaker is supposed to be a rub but is getting squashed by him for weeks really worth a title shot? The other Italians are sent to the back to start. Are you sure that getting rid of those two bumbling nitwits doesn’t make this harder for Rey? The champ spins out of a wristlock to start and sends Nunzio outside for a big flip dive.

Back in and Nunzio dropkicks him out of the air for two, setting up a double arm crank. A chinlock keeps Rey in trouble until a headscissors gives him a breather. The springboard seated senton gets two and a hurricanrana takes both of them out to the floor in a crash. Cue the Italians to take Mysterio out but Nunzio can only get two. The APA comes out to dispatch Stamboli and Palumbo, leaving Rey to hit the 619 and Drop the Dime to retain.

Rating: C+. They were starting to roll here until the interference, but at least Rey still won clean. I’m still trying to figure out what the point is in having the FBI around and getting this kind of a push, though at least they’re not winning anything. Mysterio needs a good challenger and it seems that they’re already preparing for that issue. Good little match here.

Kidman comes in and congratulates Mysterio.

Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle (with milk) are sitting in catering and get in a friendly argument over who a woman meant when she said “hi champ”. Angle says he’ll get the title back at Vengeance so Brock tells him to drink his milk. Kurt flirts with the woman until Brock slaps him on the back, causing him to spit milk on her. Comedy ensues.

Basham Brothers vs. Rhyno/Chris Benoit

Before the match, Shaniqua gives the Brothers a quick whipping with the riding crop. It’s a brawl to start with the Bashams actually taking over early on. Danny hammers on Rhyno and scores with an enziguri. Some hard crossface shots set up a cravate but it’s already time for heel miscommunication. The hot tag brings Benoit in but Danny breaks up the rolling German suplexes. The release version works a bit better though, setting up the Swan Dive for a delayed two. It’s a Gore to Doug and the Crossface makes Danny tap.

Rating: D+. So the tag division is just a step above dead in the water with two teams, let’s have a potentially good team job most of the time while making them look stupid with the whole spanking things. Shaniqua doesn’t need to be there but she was on Tough Enough so they have to get something out of her right? Also didn’t Benoit and Rhyno break up twice already?

Shaniqua looks at Benoit post match. Run away Chris.

Vince is in his office and using pencils to play his desk like a drum. That’s one of the oddest visuals I’ve seen in a long time. Stephanie comes in and says she’s a woman and shouldn’t be put into this situation. Vince says spare the rod and spoil the child, but Stephanie says she’s not a child in a voice that makes her sound about three years old. He doesn’t care and she cowers away. How long is this stupid story going to go on?

Post break Sable annoys Stephanie and says she’ll take care of things if Stephanie is put on the shelf.

Jamie Noble and Nidia, fresh off getting $827 thousand, have a limo, sunglasses and a fur coat. Noble tips the driver and then takes the money back.

Undertaker critiques Orlando Jordan’s boxing and explains paying dues. Jordan needs to challenge people like John Cena if he wants to earn respect. Cena comes up to ask where Undertaker has been since he gave Cena respect last year. He calls himself a veteran now and tells Undertaker to stay out of his business. You can guess Undertaker’s reaction.

US Title Tournament First Round: Billy Gunn vs. John Cena

Side note: we’re about forty five minutes into this show. So far we’ve had a recap of Vince lowering his pants last week, Shaniqua spanking the Bashams, Jamie spanking Nidia when she got the coat out of the limo and you know Gunn’s theme song. Why is that their best available theme? Cena makes gay jokes and demands respect. Gunn gives chase to start and stomps away in the corner as Cole tries to make us care about Billy again. Cena bails to the floor as the fans are cheering him for one of the first times ever.

A whip into the post has Billy in trouble and it’s time for the chinlock. Cena kicks him down for two as Cole tries to connect this US Title’s lineage to the one from the mid 1970s. I know that’s the case but it’s also quite the stretch. Billy finally escapes with a powerslam but walks into the Throwback (named for the first time here). That’s only good for two so it’s time to grab the chain. Cue Undertaker on the motorcycle for a distraction though, allowing Billy to get a small package for the pin.

Rating: D. Undertaker vs. Cena should be entertaining but this Gunn stuff is getting more and more annoying every single week. He’s the same guy with the same song that hasn’t worked in a very long time but now we’re supposed to buy him as a serious act. Oh and that Torrie has a thing for him. It does show you what being tall can get for you in a career.

Lesnar and Angle continue to act like frat boys and decide to have a pushup contest. Brock does 301 first (with a commercial in between) as I’m more curious about who can be seen just off camera watching this whole thing. With Lesnar finished, Angle declares him the winner and walks off. Eh funny ending, but who looks at Lesnar and Angle and thinks they need to do a buddy comedy?

Tag Team Titles: Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas vs. Eddie Guerrero/Tajiri

Eddie and Tajiri are defending. Tajiri headlocks Haas down to start before switching over to a hammerlock. Eddie takes over on Benjamin’s arm as they’re certainly moving to start. An armdrag/headscissors combination takes both challengers down and the Eddie chants begin. As they should to be fair. Haas gets in a backbreaker for a breather as Tazz keeps ripping on Cole for calling this fun.

Eddie suplexes his way to freedom in short order and it’s back to Tajiri for the rapid fire kicks. A hurricanrana is broken up so Haas muscles Tajiri up, allowing Shelton to springboard in for a clothesline/powerbomb combination. Sweet move there but ti’s only good for two more.

Back from a break with Tajiri caught in an abdominal stretch with the challengers doing the switch when the referee wasn’t looking. The referee ACTUALLY NOTICES and brings Benjamin back in….to take Tajiri down again. Well that felt like a waste of a spot. Haas hammers away on Tajiri, followed by Shelton jumping over Charlie onto Tajiri’s back. Tajiri slips out of what looked to be a powerbomb and kicks Shelton in the back of the head (loud one too).

That’s enough for the hot tag to Eddie and the rolling suplexes have Haas in trouble. The frog splash is broken up but Tajiri takes Shelton down with the handspring elbow. Eddie gets sent outside so Tajiri starts in with more kicks, followed by the Tarantula to Haas. Shelton avoids a frog splash though and Tajiri gets kicked off the apron, onto the hood of the low rider. Back in and the atomic drop with a superkick to Eddie’s chest gives Charlie the pin and the titles.

Rating: B. These four have some solid chemistry together and it’s nice to see Charlie and Shelton get the belts back. They were a really strong team when they got the belts and while the feud with Eddie and Chavo/Tajiri did them a lot of good, they probably should have held the belts throughout. Eddie didn’t seem happy with Tajiri for being knocked onto the car and there’s a good chance they’re going to have an issue because of it.

Gowen is stretching in the back when Big Show comes in to step on the leg. Tonight, he’s going after Gowen’s legs. It didn’t work for the Executioner at Wrestlemania I and I doubt it works for Big Show tonight.

Back from a break with Tajiri still on the hood and Eddie looking dejected. Eddie goes over to check on him….but he really just wants to check on the car.

Video on Mr. America. Stephanie saying she signed him sight unseen triggers my memories of how ridiculous so much of this story was and it’s even worse when I realize that Vince vs. Stephanie is continuing.

Eddie is STILL looking at the car and Tajiri is still down behind him. It’s finally too much for Eddie and he snaps, sending Tajiri into the hood (which won’t help the paint) and then dropping him through the windshield for a great looking crash.

Orlando Jordan vs. A-Train

Jordan’s dropkick has no effect and A-Train launches him into the corner for a beating. A splash to the back has Jordan in even more trouble and it’s off to the reverse full nelson (kind of like a Gory Special but pulling on the arms instead of the face). An enziguri knocks A-Train into the corner but the Derailer gets two. Jordan’s high crossbody only hits mat and the Train Wreck gives A-Train the pin.

Rating: D. I know what they’re going for with Jordan but there’s only so much you can get out of someone so average. History hasn’t exactly been kind to Jordan but then you watch a match like this and you understand why. There’s nothing special about him, be it his look, his work or his personality. Just having him out there as a guy in trunks isn’t going to do him any good and kicking out of the Derailer isn’t enough to change that.

Show tries to intimidate Stephanie and even twirls her hair around. There are, ahem, other ways he’d like to hurt her. Show walks away and runs into Vince and Sable, the former of whom has an announcement regarding Mr. America.

Wrestlemania Recall: Jake Roberts vs. Honky Tonk Man from Wrestlemania III. Was Alice Cooper being around that big of a deal? The post match stuff with Alice throwing the snake onto Jimmy Hart was good but it’s not that good.

Here are Vince and Sable for the announcement. Vince recaps the Mr. America story and knows that it was Hulk Hogan under the mask. If Vince could prove that, Hogan was gone for good. That brings us to last week’s Smackdown where Vince thought something might be up.

Vince told the cameramen to keep recording, which captured Mr. America lifting his mask to reveal Hogan and telling everyone to keep it quiet. Therefore, Hogan is FIRED (he had quit earlier in the week due to creative differences, which likely means he wanted the title and wasn’t getting it) and gone for good. Or at least the better part of two years. It’s kind of a lame ending but at least they wrapped it up with a storyline explanation.

As for tonight, Zach Gowen is in a handicap match against Big Show. That’s not good enough though, because it’s going to be no holds barred. As a bonus for Big Show, he’s being added to the Smackdown World Title match at Vengeance to make it a triple threat. I’m so thrilled by all of this.

Stephanie McMahon/Zach Gowen vs. Big Show

Anything goes. Why do I have a feeling this was due to Stephanie thinking she needed to show off how good shape she was in? Gowen’s early offense has as much effect as you would expect and Show shoves him outside. Stephanie jumps on Show’s back and let’s hear that screeching! Show flips her down and grabs Gowen’s (detached) prosthetic leg. A dropkick doesn’t hurt Show, who catches a diving Gowen and throws him back inside.

Stephanie gets thrown inside as well but for some reason Vince won’t let Show chokeslam her. Gowen comes in for the save and takes the chokeslam instead. Stephanie gets in her big moment with the slap to Vince but Angle comes out to save her from another chokeslam. A Vince chair shot breaks up the ankle lock so here’s Lesnar for a save of his own. The Angle Slam and an F5 set up Gowen’s moonsault for the pin and the contract.

Rating: D-. Lesnar’s F5 looked good and that’s about it for this one. The match was a glorified segment of course and while it advances the story, that doesn’t make it any more interesting. This Stephanie standing up to her father and using Gowen to fight the battle for him isn’t good and other than the McMahons, I’m not sure who thinks it’s the best way to go. Throwing Big Show into the World Title match takes away a lot of the interest I had in seeing Lesnar vs. Angle II, but it’s time for Big Show’s annual push, whether we like it or not.

Overall Rating: D. There were good parts to this show but the big story is so dull and lifeless that it’s dragging things down. The story is far from the worst thing they’ve ever done (it’s not even the worst thing Stephanie has done this year) but it’s a bunch of people I don’t care about doing a bunch of stuff that has been done in a better version before. Gowen is a case where once you see his stuff once, the interest goes away in a hurry. Now he’s involved in the top story on the show, which is likely going to go on for months because that’s how the McMahons work.

There’s still good stuff on the show though, such as Cena vs. Undertaker (which has potential), Eddie’s heel turn after a really good match, the former Team Angle back on top of the division and Rey as Cruiserweight Champion. As usual though, the problem comes down to the McMahons dominating the show with their stupid issues and Stephanie’s bad acting. Just don’t let her talk or interact with Vince and this show gets a lot better in a hurry.

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