Smackdown – July 17, 2003

Date: July 17, 2003
Location: Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
Commentators: Michael Cole, Tazz

We’re almost to Vengeance and the good things in the build towards the show have been quite good. At the same time though, the bad thing is very bad. Vince vs. Stephanie is running wild and for some reason we’re supposed to want to see Vince vs. Zach Gowen at the pay per view. Let’s get to it.

This was actually taped on Sunday as the Smackdown roster was going on an Asian tour.

We open with a recap of last week’s main event with Big Show chokeslamming Brock Lesnar through a table.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Vince to get things going. He recaps the Gowen story (minus the Hogan aspect) up to last week and blames Kurt Angle for Gowen winning his contract. The point is everyone needs to be taught a lesson, which is what Gowen learned last week (I think he meant to say Lesnar there).

Last week ended with Lesnar being chokeslammed through a table while Angle was in Vince’s office. Vince had Angle stay in the back because if he interfered, he would be out of the triple threat at Vengeance. Therefore tonight, Angle will be facing the same match tonight: no holds barred, falls count anywhere against Big Show/Charlie Haas/Shelton Benjamin.

Cue Lesnar to say he’s here to beat the boss….and Vince actually makes himself vs. Brock. Just not tonight of course. Vince wants Brock to be at 100% so tonight, Brock has the night off. That includes keeping him out of tonight’s handicap match. If he interferes, he’s stripped of the title and fired. Brock leaves, but since he can’t give Vince an F5, he’ll settle for FU.

US Title Tournament Semifinals: Matt Hardy vs. Chris Benoit

Matt, who’s beard is much cooler than Benoit’s and tans wearing only a sock, has Shannon Moore back in his corner. Benoit tries a Crossface less than ten seconds in (you don’t insult a man’s beard) but settles for a regular armbar instead. Matt gets tied up in the ropes so Shannon sneaks in for a neckbreaker to change control. It’s off to a seated full nelson for a bit until Benoit pops up with a running forearm to the head.

Shannon comes in again and is promptly suplexed over the top and out to the floor. The Crossface goes on but Matt, with a bloody nose or lip, is in the ropes in a hurry. A Side Effect gives Matt two but he misses a Swan Dive. Benoit rolls some German suplexes, only to miss a Swan Dive of his own. Matt takes him up top for a super Side Effect, only to be countered into the Crossface to send Benoit to Vengeance.

Rating: B-. Matt was trying hard out there and the finish looked awesome. This was a solid match and that’s not the most surprising thing in the world, especially given the fact that Hardy is back to his normal range of opponents. Hopefully this is the kind of match the US Title starts to represent and if that’s the case, Benoit will be just fine.

Vince is in Stephanie’s office when she comes in to say she expected to find him here. Sable isn’t here tonight but has sent a peace offering: Midol. It’s as funny as it sounds.

Brock goes to leave but and Angle can’t stop him.

Ultimo Dragon vs. Jamie Noble

Before the match, Jamie ups his offer to $25,000 for a night with Torrie Wilson. Nidia walks away in a huff. I’d have expected her to approve actually. Dragon kicks him down to start and seems surprised at Noble kicking out. Noble heads outside and there’s the Asai moonsault for good measure. Back in and Jamie kicks him down, only to have Billy Gunn and Torrie come out for a distraction. Dragon grabs a rollup for the pin. If Dragon needs Billy Gunn to beat a comedy cruiserweight, just leave now.

John Cena is in a cemetery and raps about Undertaker being gay and a dead issue. He also relieves himself on a grave.

We look back at Rey Mysterio and Billy Kidman becoming #1 contenders last week.

The APA invites Brian Kendrick and Spanky to the first ever APA Invitational Bar Room Brawl at Vengeance. Kanyon can’t go because his cable guy is coming. That’s not an option so threats of violence make Kanyon agree to reschedule.

Rey Mysterio/Billy Kidman vs. Los Conquistadors

These would be Conquistador #45 and #47, who I believe are Rob Conway and Nick Dinsmore. 45 (Conway) starts things off with Kidman and a headscissors takes the masked man down. Mysterio comes in but gets cheapshotted from the apron so 47 (who certainly looks like Dinsmore) can get in some forearms.

The masked men make a switch with no tag (the referee doesn’t notice despite 45 having blond hair sticking out from underneath the mask) and a neckbreaker gets two on Kidman. A powerbomb is broken up and there’s the 619 into the shooting star for the pin on 45. Not bad actually, but that’s not surprising given who was under the masks.

Here’s Vince for another chat. He’s not happy with being interrupted earlier because he wanted to talk about Sable, who is in the Presidential box. She’s up there for Stephanie’s protection and Vince explains her sexual prowess. This shifts into a discussion of Gowen, who has a handicap. That must make the fans feel a little uncomfortable and everyone here knows it. Sure they might give a few bucks to charity but that’s just a way to keep the conditions at arm’s length.

Cue Cena of all people, with Vince dancing a bit to his music. Cena talks about Gowen winning being an impossible mission because just like Ted Turner, he’s no competition. At Vengeance, he’s killing a dead man while Vince fights Christopher Reeves. Cena: “What’s better than a one legged wrestler? Being able to walk!” Vince: “Word life.” Undertaker comes out and clears the ring without much effort.

Rhyno vs. Sean O’Haire

They fight outside before the bell but here’s the APA to invite them to the Bar Room Invitational. I know Piper leaving messed with O’Haire’s push but this is all they have for him? Fighting ensues.

Sable complains about the service in her suite.

US Title Tournament Semifinals: Eddie Guerrero vs. Billy Gunn

Feeling out process to start until Gunn punches him down. A powerslam gets two and a delayed vertical suplex is good for the same. Eddie sends him into the corner and hammers away before getting two off a snapmare of all things. We hit a chinlock with Tazz making jokes about Torrie bouncing as she plays cheerleader. Billy fights up and hits a release faceplant, only to get caught in a half crab (looked to be the Lasso From El Paso but it fell apart).

Eddie’s brainbuster sets up the frog splash but Billy rolls away because this needs to keep going. Billy’s cobra clutch slam gets two (he’s no Jinder Mahal) and here’s Jamie for a distraction. Eddie gets in a chair shot and drops to the mat to make sure the referee doesn’t know who did it. So for once the referee actually heard the chair shot? That might be a first and Eddie gets the pin.

Rating: C-. So now the US Title tournament is being used to set up Gunn vs. Noble? They really are going for it this time around. Anyway, Eddie winning was the only option here and that’s the right move. At least we should get a classic out of the title match and Gunn vs. Noble can be five minutes long for the thrilling conclusion.

Sable is being interviewed when Stephanie sneaks in (read as walks in wearing a waiter’s uniform) to pour wine over Sable’s head. Catfighting ensues and food is spilled everywhere.

Kurt Angle vs. Big Show/World’s Greatest Tag Team

Hardcore. Angle gets double teamed in the corner to start as Show stands on the apron for the sake of dramatic convenience. Charlie gets sent head first into Shelton’s crotch though and it’s off to Big Show for a headbutt. A trashcan lid to the back gets two on Angle and the villains finally realize triple teaming is perfectly fine.

Back in and Show gets low bridged outside, leaving Angle to German suplex the normal sized opponents. A heck of a chair shot drops Show and we take a break. Back with Haas being sent over the barricade and Benjamin getting clotheslined down. They head into the crowd with Benjamin being thrown through a gate and Charlie getting caught in the ankle lock. Show makes a save and takes Angle to the stage.

The group beatdown continues until Angle cleans house with a trashcan lid. Show gets in a clothesline though and here’s Gowen for some jumping knees to the head. Angle Slams take down Show and Benjamin but Show is up fast enough to save Haas from the ankle lock. Gowen gets thrown into the barricade but Angle hits Show with the steps. Back in and Shelton kicks Charlie by mistake, setting up the ankle lock for the submission.

Rating: B-. I liked this more than I expected to as they allowed the match to build up and let Angle hang in there long enough to steal a win. The interference helps a bit and while it’s a stretch to have Angle beat them, he didn’t pin Show and outsmarted the champs rather than flat out defeating them. Good match, especially with Angle one upping Lesnar after last week.

Overall Rating: C-. They kept the Vince/Stephanie/Sable/Gowen stuff on more of a leash this week and it helped a lot. Unfortunately we got two Gunn vs. Noble segments instead so it kind of balances out. The wrestling was better this week with some matches getting time, though there are still a lot of problems around here. That being said, Vengeance is looking better each week as there’s a chance that they’ll give the matches enough time to pay off all the build put into them. Not a great show, but they’re fixing some of the problems.

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