Pepsi Arena – Denver, Colorado – July 27, 2003
This is the first-ever Smackdown-only pay-per-view. Michael Cole and Tazz are at ringside calling the action.
MATCH #1: Tournament Final for the United States Championship – Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero
The U.S. Title has been vacant since Edge unified it with the Intercontinental Title on 11.18.01. Benoit beat Rhyno and Matt Hardy to get here, while Guerrero beat Ultimo Dragon and Billy Gunn. They make a big deal out of the referee explaining the rules and asking for a clean match. The ref also asks for a handshake but these two want no part of that. Benoit is the aggressor early on and Guerrero tries to avoid him. They trade holds and pinning combinations back and forth with the crowd cheering and booing right along with them. Guerrero tries to keep Benoit grounded with a headlock, but the Wolverine comes back with a Crippler Crossface attempt, and when Guerrero bails he follows him out with a suicide dive. Benoit focuses his attack on the shoulder. He tries a charge but he runs right into Guerrero’s elbow. Guerrero controls for a few minutes before Benoit makes the comeback and sets him on the top rope. Benoit hits a super belly-to-back suplex and both men are down. Back up Benoit maintains the advantage, hitting two rolling German Suplexes and then locking on the Crossface. Guerrero reaches the ropes and then comes back with the Three Amigos and a superplex. When he goes for the Frog Splash Benoit moves out of the way and both men are down. Benoit gets up and hits a powerbomb and again goes to the Crossface but Guerrero gets the ropes again. The referee gets bumped and Guerrero immediately goes after the title belt. Guerrero blasts Benoit in the head with the belt and then hits the Frog Splash but Benoit kicks out at two! He goes back to the belt and this time knocks the referee out, and sets the belt on top of Benoit so the referee will think it was Benoit that knocked him out. Unfortunately he knocked out the referee and it takes him a while to wake up. In the meantime Benoit recovers and locks on the Crossface but the referee can’t see Guerrero tapping! That doesn’t make Benoit too happy, so he hits Guerrero with a German Suplex and he makes the signal for the diving headbutt. Guerrero pulls the referee in harm’s way and he is knocked out again. For some reason, Rhyno runs out and delivers the Gore to his now former friend Benoit. Guerrero looks like he’s not sure why Rhyno interfered but he’ll take it. He goes up top and hits the Frog Splash and pins the unconscious Benoit to win the resurrected title for the second time at 22:11. I see what they were going for with Eddie, but the last few minutes seemed a bit much, especially with the Rhyno interference. Still, this was a hot match between two excellent opponents and one of the best WWE openers I can think of.
MATCH #2: Billy Gunn vs. Jamie Noble
This feud was about Noble wanting to sleep with Torrie Wilson, who was inexplicably dating Billy Gunn at this time. Wilson then did what very good girlfriend would do – agree to sleep with a guy if he could beat up her boyfriend. That’s typical. Noble antagonizes Gunn into starting the match on the ramp and Gunn is completely in control. Noble avoids a Stinger Splash and then hits a dropkick to send Gunn to the floor. He tries to follow him out with a dive, and when Gunn catches him he appears to have tweaked his knee. Noble’s girlfriend Nidia makes her way out to ringside to watch the match unfold. Back in the ring, Noble works over the knee until Gunn comes back and hits the One and Only. Gunn follows with a hiptoss into a neckbreaker for two. He tries the Fame-Ass-Er but can’t connect o he hits the Ace Crusher instead for two. Where did Billy Gunn learn all these moves?! Gunn goes up top and Noble knocks him down for a super DDT! That was impressive. Nidia puts Gunn’s foot on the bottom rope much to Noble’s chagrin, so he rolls to the floor to yell at her about it. Wilson tries to interfere but suffers a kiss from Noble instead. Back in the ring Noble hits a low dropkick and Wilson tries to interfere again. Gunn goes for the Gunslinger but Noble pushes him into Wilson, who almost gets knocked off the apron. Noble executes an O’Connor Roll to get the pin and right to sleep with Torrie Wilson at 5:00. Gunn did some moves I don’t recall him using, and they had a good power guy versus small guy dynamic going. This match really surprised me.
MATCH #3: The APA Invitational Barroom Brawl
The participants are Spanky, Kanyon, Matt Cappotelli, John Hennigan, Conquistador #45, Conquistador #47, Brooklyn Brawler, Funaki, Orlando Jordan, Doug Basham, Danny Basham, Nunzio, Johnny the Bull, Chuck Palumbo, the Easter Bunny, Matt Hardy, Shannon Moore, Brother Love, Doink the Clown, Sean O’Haire, Faarooq, and Bradshaw. They actually have a little bar set built for this brawl. This seems pretty pointless to try recapping. Some of the guys are wearing their wrestling gear, while other guys are trying out the casual look. The APA and Brother Love are the last three standing after Funaki falls off his bar stool. Obviously that doesn’t go well for Love, and Bradshaw is declared the winner at 4:31. That was actually silly entertainment and it certainly earns points for being quite different.
MATCH #4: WWE Tag Team Championship Match – The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman
Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas have been the champions since 7.3.03. Mysterio is currently the Cruiserweight Champion. Cole notes that Mysterio and Kidman were WCW Tag Team Champions as the Filthy Animals, which is an amazing amount of WCW history given on the air given that by today they can barely remember what happened last month. Benjamin and Mysterio start the match, anyway. The teams trade control back and forth, with frequent tags being made but neither team can gain a sustained advantage. Both teams get a chance to show off their strengths and they are quite obviously perfect foils for each other. Haas and Benjamin isolate on Kidman for several minutes and when Kidman is about to make the hot tag Benjamin distracts the referee so he doesn’t see it! I love old-school #heel tag team antics. For some reason, Benjamin tries to powerbomb Kidman. Doesn’t he know better? This time Mysterio gets the hot tag and Mysterio is a house afire. The match breaks down and the action is coming from all over the place, with the crowd along for the ride. Benjamin kicks Kidman to the floor, and then WGTT hits Mysterio with a Doomsday Hart Attack to get the pin and retain the titles at 14:53. What a tremendous match (and the rematch a few weeks later on TV was great too). These four all really jelled and the crowd was hot for the whole thing. This kind of tag team wrestling I love.
MATCH #5: No Countout Cat Fight – Stephanie McMahon vs. Sable
Stephanie attacks Sable in the aisle to begin this “match.” Cole points out that both of these women are former Women’s Champions and that just makes me sad a little. Stephanie beats on Sable a bit until Sable cuts her off with her idea of offense. This goes on for a minute or two before Stephanie comes back and they spill to the floor. Stephanie tries to use a chair but the referee stops her. Back in the ring Stephanie continues the abuse, even throwing in a Hennig neck snap. Stephanie tries to rip Sable’s shirt off, so the referee gives Sable his shirt for protection, and while he’s distracted, A-Train runs out and flattens Stephanie! Sable gets the easy pin at 6:25. That wasn’t completely terrible.
MATCH #6: Undertaker vs. John Cena
This feud absolutely made John Cena in the eyes of the fans. To put over how serious this is, Undertaker ditches the bike and walks to the ring, eyeballing Cena the entire time. To quote my good friend Kevin Ford, “little things make me hard.” Cena shows no fear early on as they brawl both in and out of the ring. Undertaker controls the action for most of the early going. He even hits a Chokeslam but pulls Cena up at two. I can’t say I’m a fan of that. Undertaker tries the Last Ride but Cena avoids it and hits a DDT. Cena goes on offense despite Undertaker’s objections. He pulls a turnbuckle pad off and Undertaker charges right into it and then gets dumped to the floor. Cena continues working on Undertaker, who won’t stay down for very long and continually fights back. Who is he, Jerry Lynn? Undertaker is bleeding from the mouth, so it must be internal. Cena has to resort to using his chain to knock the wind out of the Dead Man. He hits the F-U but it only gets two! Cena then stupidly goes for mounted punches in the corner and Undertaker comes out with the Last Ride to get the win at 15:58. That was really solid and I think it did make Cena look good to an extent, but Undertaker never really appeared to be in a lot of danger, and I HATE that finish.
MATCH #7: Zach Gowen vs. Mr. McMahon
The Chairman uses his significant size advantage in the early going to try and embarrass the rookie Gowen. McMahon gets too cocky though and Gowen backdrops him to the floor. Gowen follows up with a dropkick and an Asai Moonsault! The crowd popped big for that. Back in the ring Gowen hits a legdrop off the second rope to the back of the neck for a two-count. McMahon fights back and works on Gowen’s knee. This goes on for several minutes before Gowen is able to fight back with a dropkick. Gowen then pulls McMahon’s groin into the ring post and goes to work on HIS knee. Back in the ring Gowen sort of hits a bulldog off the top rope and a missile dropkick. Gowen then hits a Moonsault but McMahon barely gets his foot on the bottom rope. McMahon rakes the eyes and grabs a steel chair but the referee stops him from using it and gets tossed to the floor. For some reason McMahon then gets down on his knee and Gowen dropkicks the chair into his head and McMahon is GUSHING blood at this point. Gowen hits McMahon with the chair and then tries a somersault off the top rope but misses and McMahon covers to get the pin at 14:03. That was entertaining in a way, but the chair spot at the end was super awkward and the finish was underwhelming. It also would have been nice if Gowen got to get revenge on Vince at some point but I don’t think that ever happened.
MATCH #8: No Disqualification WWE Championship Match – Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle vs. Big Show
Lesnar has been the champion since 3.30.03 and this is his fifth defense. Angle and Lesnar try working together on Show early on to neutralize the size advantage he has. Show fights them off and hits a Chokeslam about 45 seconds in on Lesnar and Angle has to break up the pin. Moments later Angle gets the Ankle Lock and Show kicks out of it. The action is coming fast and furious here, which is amazing considering Show gets a majority of the offense in the opening minutes. Angle and Lesnar counter that with trash can lids. They work together but of course when Lesnar goes for a cover Angle pulls him off, and now they tear into each other. Lesnar hits Angle with an F-5, so Angle wisely rolls over to the ropes. He then hits Show with an F-5, which is still impressive. Angle pulls the referee out of the ring to break it up. An angry champion follows Angle to the floor and takes him out. Show pulls Lesnar back in the ring and goes back to work on him. Angle is busted open. Show sets up for a superplex but Angle distracts him, allowing Lesnar to hit a FREAKING LIGER BOMB on the Big Show. Angle rejoins the ring with a chair and takes Lesnar out with it, and then covers Show himself but only gets two. Lesnar is busted open now as well. Meanwhile, Show sets Angle up for a Chokeslam through the Spanish Announce Table, but Angle counters and breaks the table with an Angle Slam! Angle and Lesnar make their way back into the ring, all bloodied up. They slug it out and Lesnar dumps Angle to the floor. Back in the ring Angle comes back with German Suplexes. They keep going back and forth until Show makes his way back in the ring and Chokeslams both of them but can’t score a pin. Lesnar takes Show out with a low blow, and then Angle is able to grab Lesnar in the Ankle Lock. Show comes back in and Angle hits him with an Angle Slam! Angle then hits Lesnar with another Angle Slam to get the pin and regain the title at 16:30! Wow that match was phenomenal, with a ridiculous pace and awesome stuff from everyone involved. Angle and Lesnar are Show’s two best opponents so that helped make this Show’s best match ever and a strong Match of the Year Candidate.