Back with another Stinker Review, and this month it’s a reader request courtesy of AJ Haemorrhoids (who has one of the more striking names on the Blog I think we can all agree). AJ apparently attended this show live and was so bored by it that they actually almost fell asleep whilst watching it, which is almost impressive in a twisted kind of way.
For those of you that haven’t read one of these before, a Stinker Review is when I look at a show that has a reputation for being bad for whatever reason and deciding on whether it truly is as bad as people say it is. It could be the show features terrible wrestling, torrid booking, miserable production or all of the above. In some cases a show might not be that notorious but a reader may have it on their personal ship list, at which point I then have to decide whether I agree with them or not.
I have personally seen this one before but that was quite a while ago and I honestly remember very little about it outside of the Tag Title and World Title matches. It’s notable for being the last ever UK Special Pay Per View, as WWE decided to bring the Raw and Smackdown tapings to the UK in 2004, which ended up being a better deal for the fans, as now stuff could actually happen on the shows as it was an actual TV taping and not just a televised House Show.
I was pretty down on WWE in 2003, mainly because they just kept tripping up over themselves and the harsh realisation that they weren’t going to be able to usher in another boom period anytime soon slapped me hard in the face like a bucket of iced water. Creatively both the Raw and Smackdown brands were kind of on their arse going into this one, with a bloated and injury carrying Triple H stanking the joint out on the Raw side with a series of uninspiring feuds for his Raw Title, with this show taking part during his “exciting” rivalry with Kevin Nash.
Aside from Godruple H’s reign of terror, on the undercard Test had started an “enthralling” feud with Scott Steiner, whilst newbies La Resistance were going for Kane and RVD’s Tag Team Titles. Trish Stratus was feuding with Jazz over the Women’s belt and Christian had recently connived his way to winning the revived IC Title, screwing over Booker T in the process. Raw’s hierarchy had also had a bit of a shakeup, with Stone Cold Steve Austin being brought into be co-General Manager in an attempt to keep Heel Authority Figure Eric Bischoff in check.
So, has AJ been unduly scathing here or is Insurrextion 2003 really a full-on Stinker? Let’s watch on to find out!
The event is emanating from Newcastle, England (Home of The Mags, Newcastle Brown Ale, Botchamania and Jimmy Nail) on the 7th of June 2003
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler
The opening video package focuses on Bischoff/Austin and the Triple H/Kevin Nash feuds.
WWE Women’s Title
Champ: Jazz w/ Theodore R. Long Vs Trish Stratus
This is an interesting choice for an opener actually. They usually had good chemistry together, so if they get a decent amount of time to tell a proper story then this could be a solid start to the show. Long cuts the cheap heat promo to start, by demanding that Jazz get a standing ovation, which goes about as well for him as you’d expect. Interestingly, Ross refers to Long as a “Dapper Yapper”, which is what he now calls the ring announcer in AEW.
Trish shines on Jazz with standard babyface offence in the early going such as arm drags, and it’s done well, with the crowd getting behind her. Long trips her though, which allows Jazz to give her the Stun Gun for the cut off. Jazz was the most believable woman they had in the company at this time and Trish’s selling had greatly improved by the time 2003 rolled around, so the heat segment works well as a result, with the crowd clapping for Trish in hope she’ll make a comeback.
I’m not sure how Jazz’s relationship with WWE is, but she would have to be cert for their version of the Hall of Fame if it’s anywhere near cordial, as she was one of the best women they had in this era and did a lot to help Trish develop into the star she eventually became. Trish manages to catch Jazz with a neck breaker for the double down and that leads into her making a comeback, getting a rana off the second rope and the Chick Kick for two.
They trade further near falls, and it gets a tad sloppy at certain points but is mostly decent and the crowd is following the action, with them popping big when Trish gets Jazz in her own Step-Over Toehold Facelock hold. This is Victoria’s cue to come down, as she was feuding with Trish at the time, and whilst the ref is dealing with her Long comes in to fling Trish into the ring post so that Jazz can retain.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JAZZ
Decent effort from both women there and this was a solid start to the show. I can only assume there were other dates on the tour that Victoria wrestled on, although the idea they flew her all the way over to England for that one spot does amuse me I must admit
Ross is mightily offended that Long put his hands on Trish like that.
We get a video recap of how Christian won the IC Title. He and Booker were the last two in a battle royal and Booker threw him out, but the ref was bumped and missed it, thus allowing Christian to cheap shot Booker and fling him out to win from the revived ref. Christian has since cut his hair and dropped his singlet look, and thus looks like a much bigger star almost instantly. Booker is looking for revenge tonight.
WWE Intercontinental Title
Champ: Christian Vs Booker T
Lawler is pretty insufferable on commentary here with his jibes at Booker, including such lines as Booker’s gran having to knit him a bullet proof sweater. I’m watching this before they’ve moved everything wholesale over to Peacock, so it’ll be interesting to see if some of this commentary gets cut from the Peacock version or not. Booker shines on Christian to start, and its decent stuff as Christian is a good weasel Heel and Booker always works better as Face.
Christian eventually resorts to cheating to gain an advantage, by gouging Booker in the eyes and then snapping his neck over the top rope, which is a good solid Heel cut off spot and draws the desired boos and catcalls from the crowd. Booker sells well in the heat and Christian mixes in playing to the crowd with rest holds to get them invested, including a spot where Booker fights out of a chin lock. Booker misses the follow up jumping side kick though and tumbles to the floor, thus halting his impending comeback but giving the fans some hope that he might fight back at least.
The one critique you can send this match’s way is that it perhaps goes on for a bit too long, which means the heat segment starts to drag slightly at one stage, but thankfully they go to a double down just before it goes too much in that direction. Booker makes the comeback off the double down and looks good doing so, thanks in part to Christian bumping and feeding for his offence perfectly. This is two experienced guys who understand their respective roles and are putting the pieces together in order to have a good match whilst not overdoing it so as to not wear the crowd out too much.
We get some near falls and they’re done well, which leads to Booker busting out the Spinaroonie for the expected big pop. Sadly for Booker the ref gets bumped not too soon after that, which means he is delayed on making the count when Booker gets the Missile Dropkick straight after. Scissor Kick looks to end things, but Christian dodges that and gets the rope assisted roll up to steal the match.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: CHRISTIAN
I was worried we’d get a DQ or something equally lame there, but no, they had a good match and then went with the old tried and tested dirty roll up, which I’m totally fine with as at least it’s an actual pin fall finish. It protects Booker, allows Christian to be a nefarious villain and also gives us a proper winner and loser. 10 on 10!
Stone Cold confronts Long about his actions during the opener, and punishes him by forcing Long into a match later. Following that, Kane walks by and stares Austin down before heading off for his match.
Raw Tag Team Titles
Champs: Rob Van Dam and Kane Vs La Resistance
They were doing a story here where Austin was trying to antagonise Kane into becoming more of a monster again, for reasons I never really understood in all honesty. It would of course lead to Kane really going off the deep end as 2003 progressed, and was a contributing factor to Austin getting sanctioned in his GM role. La Resistance were working the classic gimmick of snooty Frenchmen, which came about because France decided not to take part in the illegal war in Iraq, causing MURICA types like Vince McMahon to start hating on France.
“One of a Kind” is dubbed out here, as this was a period where they were doing that on the home releases (which is what I’m guessing is the version they’ve uploaded to the Network) and Video Games. After a certain point they started leaving it in again, so I guess they resolved whatever contract issues were causing it to get removed. Kane’s Slow Chemical theme is dubbed out as well, for the same reason as RVD’s theme. I think it’s Backlash 2003 where it’s RVD and Kane Vs Dudleyz and ALL the music is dubbed because they were cutting out the Powerman 5000 The Dudleyz were using too, because reasons.
La Resistance (Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier) were greener than a stick of broccoli at this stage in their respective careers and weren’t even remotely ready for this level of push, but Rene was tall with a good physique and Grenier was a pall of Pat Patterson, so they got the push regardless. Despite that, this match is actually not that bad, as they keep it relatively simple and the RVD/Kane tandem had developed some good chemistry by this stage, so they are able to carry the rookies to a reasonably fun outing.
The Champs shine on the French to start and the crowd enjoys it, especially when RVD gets a flip dive out onto them at one stage. Eventually a Sylvain cheap shot allows Rene to spike RVD with a DDT, which is enough for the cut off. La Resistance do okay in the heat, as the crowd chants about how much they dislike The French (We’ve had many collisions with The French over the years, including the Hundred Years War). RVD does a decent job selling in the heat, whilst Lawler and Ross work through all the anti-French material they have.
Kane eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild on the evil French, and the crowd is into it. One thing that always annoyed me about these UK shows is that they would always pretend that Raw happened on a Friday, which it didn’t of course but for years that was the day we used to get here in the UK before they finally started showing it live in 2004. We knew it was on tape delay guys, you didn’t have to insult our intelligence like that. The French fight back following Kane’s comeback, but Heel Miscommunication sets up a Double Choke Slam and RVD adds the Frogsplash to Rene ends his night.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: ROB VAN DAM & KANE
Solid enough tag match, if a bit generic, but for La Resistance in 2003 standards this was a Match of the Year Candidate
Al Snow has a backstage promo with Goldust. Goldy was doing a stuttering gimmick at the time due to getting electrocuted. It was a pretty lousy gimmick, but Goldust really commits to it at least.
Rico Vs Goldust
This was before they repacked Rico as a modern day Adrian Street with Miss Jackie and he was still doing the Evil Stylist gimmick at this stage. These two are decent workers, but the crowd doesn’t really care that much about either of them, so the match feels pretty flat as a result. I can’t really think of any crowd that would care about this to be honest, and the commentators don’t seem that bothered either, as Lawler is more interested in making jokes about Mad Cow Disease.
I do feel for the lads actually, as they’re working a perfectly cromulent match and are putting the effort in, but the crowd isn’t really biting. This might have made more sense as the opener to be honest, as at least the crowd would have been amped up somewhat. By this stage in the evening the crowd has already seen some of the main upper mid-card guys, so two lower mid-card guys aren’t going to especially excite them.
Following a decently worked shine, Rico works some heat, with it being mostly rest holds and strikes, with Goldust selling well in the hope that the crowd will care, whilst Ross and Lawler talk about James Bond and Pussy Galore. Rico eventually misses a moonsault (It looked elegant as all heck before he hit the canvas though) and that leads to Goldust making the comeback, even turning back the clock to get the old Dustin Rhodes running bulldog for two.
Shattered Dreams looks to follow, but Rico pulls the ref in the way to block it, which leads us into some more near falls. Ross correctly points out that Goldust would have been DQ’ed for that anyway if it had connected. Rico goes for the rope assisted illegal pin, but it doesn’t work, which is usually a good indicator of how low you are on the card when that sure-fire winning technique doesn’t take you to the Pay Window. Goldust immediately replies with a Powerslam and that’s three.
I felt BAD for these guys, as they were working hard and having a perfectly serviceable match, but the crowd was not even remotely interested. It’s not really the wrestlers or fans fault to be honest, but more the matchmakers for putting this on in this particular slot on the card (“Card” is apparently on the list of WWE’s banned words these days too by the way, which seems frankly ludicrous to me as real sports like Boxing and UFC use that term all the time)
We get a tribute to Freddie Blassie, who had recently died. This was very nicely done.
Following that, it’s time for Chris Jericho’s “Highlight Reel” segment, which was basically his chat show in the mould of Piper’s Pit and The Snake Pit. Jericho draws cheap heat by slagging off Newcastle (Including the manager of Newcastle United at the time Bobby Robson, who was also the England manager when they reached the World Cup Semi-Finals in 1990) and complaining about the lack of his obscenely expensive Jeri-Tron 5000. Eric Bischoff gets revealed as the guest, which leads to the two Heels sucking up to one another. This is entertaining enough, but just feels like filler, and something you’d see at a House Show or an episode of Raw. Speaking of which, Stone Cold Steve Austin joins us to run through his catchphrases, change the Triple H Vs Kevin Nash match into a Street Fight and then catch both of the Heels with a Stunner. The live crowd enjoyed this, but it also really didn’t feel like it needed to be on the show. They could have replaced Rico with Jericho in the previous match and it might have actually had some heat for instance.
Triple H and Ric Flair are angry about Austin changing the stipulation for later.
The Mack Militant (Rodney Mack, Chris Nowinski and Theodore Long) Vs The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray, D-Von and Spike)
Long had been trying to split The Dudleyz up by trying to get D-Von to join his Black Power stable with Mack and Nowinski. Nowinski was wrestling in a protective mask here after having his face broken at the Royal Rumble, and that injury would eventually lead to him leaving the wrestling business and setting up his concussion institute.
They’d only just managed to get rid of all the smoke from the pyro earlier in the night and the now The Dudleyz’ entrance has caused it to come back. You realise just how big Nowinski was when you see him towering over Bubba at one stage. He’d be like a Jack Swagger type guy these days I reckon. The early part of the match is decent, with The Dudleyz shining and then flinging Spike out onto the Heels when they bail to the floor. This has considerably more heat than the previous match due to The Dudleyz being over with the crowd.
I’ve really come to appreciate Spike as a worker more and more over the years, especially when you realise that he had to be really good to get employed for WWE as long as did considering his size. He of course takes the heat, and is excellent at that, as he sells really well for everyone and takes some impressive bumps. Long comes in to do some manager spots, which is basically a couple of stomps before fleeing, and that’s fine for what it is. It’s very much House Show Special (Like a lot of stuff tonight has been) but the crowd digs it and it’s been worked well.
Bubba gets the hot tag and runs wild on the Heels, who bump and feed for him well, with Nowinski in particular taking some very good bumps. Nowinski tries to hit Bubba with his mask (His main method of victory at the time) but Bubba manages to prevent that and it’s the WASSUP head butt to Mack. It looks like we’re going to get some tableage, but Nowinski dropkicks the wood into D-Von’s face to stop that. Eventually it comes down to Spike and Long, with Heel Miscommunication seeing Mack clothesline his own man by accident so that Spike can get the three.
WINNERS: THE DUDLEY FAMILY
That was alright actually, with everyone playing their respective roles well and the crowd being into it
The Heels attack following the bell, with it looking like the Faces are going to be tableised. The Dudleyz fight back though and Nowinski ends up taking a 3-D through the table. Ah, lying in table wreckage, I bet Nowinski was never happier to have his university degree!
We get some clips of Test being a crap boyfriend to Stacey Keibler, leading to her breaking up with him. However, she still has a managerial contract with Test, so she’s forced to still manage him.
Guest Referee: Val Venis
Test Vs Scott Steiner
This is our Semi-Main Event of the evening folks. Yup, best just accept it. Venis has the referee earpiece in, although it’s probably just feeding him QAnon theories as opposed to time cues and whatnot. “Legs” is of course dubbed out for Stacey here. Stacey, being a super fit bird, is of course incredibly over with the horny North East crowd, and you can’t really blame them to be honest. She does the ring announcing, and makes sure to insult Test whilst putting Steiner over.
I always found this feud so amusing, because we’re supposed to think a character called “The Big Bad Booty Daddy” who frequently talks about giving it to his freaks and is promoted as a gigantic meat head who is liable to snap at any moment, is a viable Knight in Shining Armour to a woman in distress from her abusive boyfriend. This really should have been a squeaky clean babyface riding to Stacey’s aid here, or at least a virtuous character like Hurricane, who might be a goof but is also well meaning and you could buy that he would put himself at risk to do something that was morally right like sticking up for Stacey.
Test actually developed some personality during this feud, which was something he’d kind of been lacking up to this point, as he really threw himself into being the sleazy big cowardly heel. He was still Test in the ring though, so he was never getting out of the mid-card, but at least he was a serviceable mid-card big man that could be used to help elevate other people. Then he got sacked in 2004 so it was all for naught anyway, and when they brought him back in 2006 they actually tried to push him as a top guy on the ECW brand, which was never going to work.
This isn’t much of a match, as Test begs off and uses Stacey as a shield before cutting Steiner off and working him over with basic stuff like chin locks and whatnot. Stacey manages to keep the crowd invested at ringside at least, by slapping the mat and cheering on Steiner. She distracts Test at one stage, which leads to Steiner doing a pretty decent comeback actually, throwing clotheslines and suplexes, with the suplexes looking impressive on a dude Test’s size. Test tries winning it with feet on the ropes, but Val catches it stops the count.
Test rams Steiner into Stacey and follows up with the big boot, but he stops to taunt before pinning, which allows Steiner to kick out. Steiner looks positively exhausted by this stage though, so this match is probably not going on for much longer. And indeed, as a type that, Stacey stops Test using a chair (Although she was a bit late on her cue) and that leads to Steiner snapping off the Complete Shot for the three count.
WINNER: SCOTT STEINER
Test sold that finisher really well it must be said. Steiner got gassed at the end, but there was enough smoke and mirrors going on that the crowd was mostly into it in the closing stages
We get a hype video for the next match. It’s basically the same video shown at the Judgment Day pay per view, except with a little bit extra spliced in at the end (Ooooo, splicey, splicey!!)
Champ: Triple H w/ Ric Flair Vs Kevin Nash w/ Shawn Michaels
Nash returned to WWE in the spring of 2003 following a leg injury that he suffered from walking across the ring (I’d make jokes but I fell whilst out walking recently and it twisted my hamstring and knee up pretty bad so I actually have some sympathy for Big Daddy Cool). He was caught in the middle between the Triple H and Shawn Michaels feud though (Although it was never really explained how all three guys were actually friends. We were just told that they were), which led to HHH kicking him right in his Great and Powerful Oz to start a feud. They had a lame DQ at Judgment Day and would face one another later on in this month in a Hell in a Cell match.
Michaels gets his own entrance, and it actually sounds like Nash gets some boos on his way to the ring. Shawn definitely comes across as the bigger star of the two, which is kind of a problem for Nash when he’s supposed to be the one challenging for the belt. Triple H actually gets a gigantic pop for his entrance, which isn’t surprising because he usually got the big ovation here. I remember going to a House Show in Manchester in 2004 where Triple H and Shawn Michaels went at it and HHH still got a huge pop coming out even though he drew Heel heat in the match itself.
The building is once again drenched in smoke following the pyrotechnics for the entrances, as I ponder about how badly ventilated this arena actually is. I thought Vince McMahon was supposed to have taken wrestling out of smoky halls? Flair and Shawn use the Street Fight rules as an excuse to go at it in the early going, where Flair takes a journey into the ring post and comes up bleeding. Yes, Ric Flair did a blade job, I’m sorry if this shocking development has rocked your world too much. It truly is an unforeseen event, but we simply must endure!
Flair really has completely ripped his head open for this glorified House Show to be fair to him, and I can kind of respect that in an odd way. Sadly the Triple H Vs Nash segment of the match isn’t as good as the Flair Vs Shawn one, but to their credit they work hard once the other two brawl to the back and it comes down to just them. Doing a stand-up walk around brawl is probably the best use of Nash, as he was somewhat lacking in mobility at this stage in his career and he wasn’t known for being especially spry to begin with.
HHH goes after Nash’s previously injured leg to get some heat back on him back inside the ring, which allows Nash to lie around and sell whilst Triple H works around him, which is another clever way of getting around Nash’s limitations. Nash to his credit sells it sell, and I’ve always felt selling was an underrated part of his game actually. When he wanted to he was good at it, especially when it comes to things like facial expressions. This has been a decent carry job from Triple H to be fair, as they’ve worked it just right and it’s been entertaining for the most part.
Triple H goes face first into the ring steps at one stage, which means it’s his turn to get some colour, although he doesn’t quite have the insane face full of plasma that his manager did earlier. Still, to actually bleed on a show like this is going beyond the call of duty, so kudos. It’s not been gratuitous or un-earned either in my opinion, as it’s been a wild brawl and it happened in a logical manner. The referee gets bumped, which leads to Triple H clocking Nash right in his Vinnie Vegas to block the Jack Knife.
Flair joins us again, looking like he dipped his entire head in that horrible cheap luminescent Chicken Tikka sauce that some Indian restaurants serve, and together he teams up with Triple H to put the boots to Big Kev. This brings Shawn back down for the rescue, and he plays Flair some Sweet Chin Music before getting Pedigreed by Triple H. Nash manages to get the Jack Knife, but there’s no ref and, when another runs down, Flair pulls him out of the ring. Nash deals with him, but this allows Triple H to hit him with a hammer, which is enough for the three count from the revived original ref.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: TRIPLE H
That was a fun wild brawl with some Dog & Pony Show at the end with Flair and Shawn getting involved
Ross does the heavy sell for Bad Blood following that, as Flair helps Triple H to the back.
Is It Really A Stinker?
Nah I don’t think it would be fair to call this show a Stinker.
It’s a bit dull in places, but there are a couple of good matches in there and nothing that I’d say was outright awful. I can’t think of any reason why you should really go out of your way to see it unless you’re a big fan of the Triple H Vs Kevin Nash rivalry (I’m sure SOME people out there do), but if you do happen to sit down and watch it then it shouldn’t be an overly offensive use of a couple of hours.
June’s Stinker Review is going to be chosen by me (And oh boy do I have DOOZY for that one) but July’s Stinker Review will be another reader’s choice, so get your requests in either in the comments section below or via email at [email protected]. I’ll pick a lucky “winner” out of the hat and will reveal it in next month’s Stinker Review!
Currently in the hat are the following;
Grand Masters of Wrestling requested by Chael Sonnen’s Coke Dealer
WWF Rock Bottom requested by Bones
LPWA Super Ladies Showdown 92 requested by Stampeder
WWE Great American Bash 2004 requested by Sivsky
WWF WrestleMania IX by JLAJRC
WWE Breaking Point requested by greaterpower99
WCW Fall Brawl 1998 requested by Robertd0803