Date: July 10, 2003
Location: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz
We’re on the road to Vengeance and that means it’s time to start setting up a few things. We already have a triple threat main event for the World Title but I’m worried about what might be coming with the McMahons and Zach Gowen, especially now that Hogan is gone. Actually that could be an improvement, depending on what they do to replace him. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Gowen getting a contract last week. I’m sure nothing but good things will come of this.
Here’s Kurt Angle to open the show but Cole won’t stop talking about Gowen. Angle recaps the World Title picture and the triple threat at Vengeance. He’d love to get his title back and tells Big Show and Brock Lesnar to bring it on. Instead it’s John Cena answering to make gay jokes about Lesnar and Angle. He thinks his match with Undertaker is the real main event for the pay per view and Angle is just a joke. They’re like Terminator 3 and Angle is like a Legally Blonde sequel (I saw that in theaters and it wasn’t that bad).
Angle: “I didn’t think it was possible, but I think I’ve found someone in the company even whiter than I am.” Kurt talks about his wrestling skills and says he knows both versions. He’s great as an amateur, but sometimes he likes to kick it freestyle. Angle steals Cena’s hat and I think you know what’s coming. Tazz: “Oh no.” Cena laughs it off and says there’s no way he’s losing to a wannabe Kojak. Angle: “Ok I don’t even know what you just said.”
Kurt has Brian Hebner do the beat boxing and the rap talks about moving on up like the Jeffersons. Word. Cena: “THAT WAS FOUL!” The fans are rather pleased with Angle, even as Cena steals his hat back. Kurt hugs him because he majored in huganomics. Are we sure he’s not really Bayley’s dad? Angle and Cena go nose to nose but here’s Big Show to interrupt. The distraction lets Cena jump him from behind and hit an FU, followed by a chokeslam from Big Show. Angle as the goofy dork is always hilarious stuff.
FBI vs. Basham Brothers vs. Billy Kidman/Rey Mysterio vs. APA
#1 contenders match and one fall to a finish. The Bashams and FBI don’t even get entrances. Simmons (no longer Faarooq) and Palumbo start things off with Ron getting two off an early powerslam. Danny comes in and gets double teamed by the APA but Kidman tags himself in for a smart move.
Bradshaw decks Kidman for bothering him so Rey has to springboard in with a seated senton for a save. We actually hear about Mysterio and Kidman being former WCW Tag Team Champions, which isn’t a reign you often hear brought up. The APA and the FBI brawl to the back, making me wonder why this wasn’t an elimination match in the first place. Everything breaks down with the cruiserweights hitting double flip dives.
Back from a break with Danny holding Rey in a chinlock as we see the other teams brawling backstage. Mysterio gets a bulldog on Danny and the hot tag (minus the fans caring) brings in Kidman. In one of the most impressive feats of nonsense Cole has ever pulled off, he says that the Bashams beating this rookie team would be a huge upset.
So a team that won Tag Team Titles years ago are rookies and the Bashams, who are in a #1 contenders match, are so worthless that a win over some rookies would be an upset? I feel like I need a color coordinated chart to make sense of that. Kidman reverses Doug’s powerbomb but Shaniqua breaks up the shooting star press. The second attempt connects, but this time Danny makes a save. Rey tags himself in for the 619 and Drops the Time for the pin, albeit one kind of stolen from Kidman.
Rating: C. Not bad at all here with an ending that plants seeds for a likely Kidman heel turn. The other two teams didn’t really need to be there in the first place but I can understand the idea of not having the Bashams, who are already perennial losers, in a #1 contenders match on their own. That being said, what does it say when your four top contenders for the titles are a team who have never teamed together in this company, losers like the FBI, a team with three matches together and the reunited APA?
Angle is getting iced down when Brock Lesnar comes in. Kurt wants to know where Brock was but Lesnar says he just got here. Bickering ensues.
Here’s the full main event from last week, because this Zach Gowen/Stephanie McMahon combination is sweeping the nation.
It’s time for Gowen’s contract signing, with Stephanie, in a rather small and non-professional black outfit, coming out with said contract over her head like a boxing round card. Stephanie introduces Gowen and puts more energy into it than when Mr. America debuted. Gowen talks about how this is his lifelong dream and he has to thank Stephanie, Angle and Lesnar for their help. Above all else though, he needs to thank the fans for their love and support.
Gowen signs and here are Vince and Sable less than a second later. Vince mockingly praises Gowen before making Lesnar Big Show/Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin for later. As for Vengeance, it’s Vince vs. Gowen because this story deserves that kind of attention for whatever reason. Sable knocks Stephanie out with the clipboard (with a shot that wouldn’t have knocked down a five year old) to wrap things up.
Post break Sable and Vince celebrate in the back but Stephanie charges in and spears her over a couch, screeching about how much she hates Sable. Thankfully Vince cuts off that horrible ANGRY Stephanie voice to make Sable vs. Stephanie at Vengeance.
Matt Hardy/Shannon Moore vs. Chris Benoit/Rhyno
Matt, who lost his virginity at 17 and has never had earrings, gets punched in the jaw to start with Rhyno taking over on his own. Shannon gets in a shot to the back though and the villains take over. A Side Effect gets two and Shannon comes in for something like a cobra clutch. Rhyno fights up and hits a hot shot, setting up the hot tag to Benoit. That means German suplexes and a Swan Dive to Shannon but Matt grabs a quick Twist of Fate to cut him off. Rhyno Gores Matt down, leaving Benoit to grab the Crossface and make Shannon tap.
Rating: D+. Just a short match here as we continue the US Title tournament build. I’m still wondering when they’re going to have Benoit and Rhyno split for real as they teased it for a few weeks and then just forgot it. At least Benoit is doing something with the tournament though, which is better than being stuck in a low level tag team.
Angle tells Lesnar he has his back tonight so Lesnar will be ready for Vengeance.
Here’s Eddie Guerrero for a US Title tournament match. Before said match, Eddie wishes Tajiri a very sincere get well soon. Sometimes he loses his temper, which is what happened last week when they lost the titles and his car got banged up. That would be like touching his mamacita, which you just do not do. The fans cheer for Eddie, who says it’s time to look out for himself.
US Title Tournament First Round: Eddie Guerrero vs. Ultimo Dragon
This should be good. Dragon rolls him up to start and snaps off the rapid fire kicks to send Eddie outside. Back in and Eddie’s belly to belly gets two but Dragon kicks him outside, nearly banging the car up again. The car is fine though and Eddie comes back in, only to get hurricanranaed. He’s right back up though as Dragon tries a moonsault press, which is reversed into a small package (with a handful of tights) to give Eddie the pin.
Rating: D+. This needed another….oh I’d say ten minutes or so given the potential they had. I really don’t get the usage of Dragon either as he was brought in as a big deal, had a not great match with Shannon Moore, and then loses to Eddie in a three minute match. I’d hope they haven’t given up on him already but this isn’t a good sign.
Billy Gunn and Torrie Wilson almost get caught in the back by Earl Hebner. Torrie giggles it off in more bad acting.
Billy Gunn/Torrie Wilson vs. Nidia/Jamie Noble
Nidia tries to jump on Billy to start and gets flipped down. It’s off to Torrie for the catfight with Tazz being very interested in Torrie throwing chops. Cole has figured something out: both of these teams are dating. Tazz: “You’re a genius!” Torrie ends Nidia in short order with a DDT.
Post match Jamie offers $10,000 to sleep with him, earning a quick beatdown. Nidia tries for a save and loses her shorts.
Vince wants to see Angle in his office right now, meaning Kurt can’t accompany Brock to the ring.
Vengeance run down. Aside from the McMahons nonsense, it’s actually a good looking show.
Big Show/Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas vs. Brock Lesnar
This is also falls count anywhere. Before the match, Haas and Benjamin officially dub themselves the World’s Greatest Tag Team. I’ve heard worse names. We’re joined in progress with Brock throwing Haas and Benjamin around but Charlie breaks up an F5 on the floor. Big Show is nowhere to be seen as Brock takes Charlie inside and drives him into the corner.
Shelton offers a hand with a low bridge, allowing Show to pop back up with a chair shot for two on Lesnar. Things settle down a bit with Show working over Brock’s ribs and dropping a huge leg. Shelton comes in to jump over Charlie and onto Lesnar’s back for two more. We hit a waistlock for a big before Show comes back in for a bearhug.
Lesnar slips out and manages a belly to belly as everything breaks down. Show gets posted, an F5 drops Charlie and Shelton gets a belly to belly on the floor. Brock loads up the announcers’ table but Show saves Shelton from an F5 through said table. Instead it’s a chokeslam through the table to give Show the pin.
Rating: D. WAY longer than it needed to be here with Brock’s hope spots only working so well. The falls count anywhere thing didn’t add much to it either, save for the ending spot, which didn’t really need to be there. Show getting a pin gives him a little momentum heading into the pay per view, assuming they don’t waste it before we get there.
Overall Rating: D+. The problem here is the McMahon story, which isn’t interesting and is dragging the rest of the show down with it. I have no idea why they think Gowen is the be all and end all of interest, but hopefully it’s from a lack of anything else to do there. Mr. America might not have been good but at least he had some charisma. Gowen looks like he’s about fifteen years old, can’t talk and is little more than a novelty act yet he’s suddenly the big focal point of the top story on the show. Maybe the Hogan exit changed things but my goodness this isn’t doing much good.
The main event is more understandable as they’re pretty clearly setting up Lesnar vs. Angle for Summerslam and you don’t want to waste that big of a match at Vengeance. Putting Big Show in there is kind of annoying but in this case I understand why he’s there. He has history with both guys and I’d rather suffer through him again than waste someone young in a match they have no chance of either winning or getting to show off in.
Overall, this feels like the rough period we need to get through before we can move on to something interesting. Eddie turning heel and some of the singles pushes look good, plus Lesnar vs. Angle II should be fun. If they can tone down and scale back a lot of the McMahon drama, this show is a lot better in a hurry. As it is though, there’s only so much you can do with such a big mess in the middle.
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