Wednesday, May 9, 2018

WWE Vengeance 2003

Okay, so full disclosure here; I was originally going to hold off doing the Smackdown-exclusive PPVs from 2003 for a later time and focus solely on the RAW entries. Because the RAW shows from 2003 have been mostly miserable (and I make note of my misery throughout the musings when I wrote them months ago), I opted to give the Smackdown 2003 PPVs a shot so I can get that year out of the way. This was possible due to being bedridden and as such, here's a write-up on Smackdown's first exclusive PPV, Vengeance 2003.

Eddie Guerrero defeated Chris Benoit in a tournament finals to win the WWE United States Championship, which made its debut here. And while the match was ridden with ref bumps galore and Rhyno run-in towards the end, for the most part, this was a great little match that shouldn't be much of a surprise when you got two top talents who were at the top of their game during this time. Great start to a PPV and my spirits are up.

Jamie Noble defeated Billy Gunn with a roll-up after Gunn crashed into Torrie Wilson in a relatively short match. And, well, at least it was short. When Billy Gunn isn't doing the New Age Outlaw thing with Road Dogg (who was probably in NWA-TNA at this point, but I don't remember) or doing the "are they or aren't they" thing with Chuck Palumbo, he isn't interesting. And while Jamie Noble is a fine talent in his own right, eventually the redneck gimmick wore out his welcome and I got bored with it. But hey, this was short.

Next up is the APA Invitational Bar Room Brawl, where the APA and a bunch of random fellows (as well as someone in an Easter Bunny costume WTF) beat the crap out of each other with bottles, stools, and tables. This was probably somewhat amusing back in the day, but watching it again today, I was just... meh. Again, at least they kept it short... and while both this and the prior match were the closest things to "low points" on this show, it was somewhat more tolerable than the shit on RAW.

Smackdown Tag-Team Champions The World's Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) defeated Billy Kidman & Rey Mysterio to retain the titles in a fun little match.

On the flip side, we have Nipple H and Sable going at it in a short little "match" before future NXT trainer Jason "A-Train" Albert runs down Nipple H, allowing Sable to score the pinfall. How that man has a job today after this stunt defies logic, but good on him. Two things come to mind; when Nipple H was helped to the back after the match, she got something resembling a standing ovation that seems foreign today. Also, both women are former Women's champions... think about that for a minute.

The Undertaker (in his biker gimmick thing) defeated John Cena (in his rapper gimmick thing) in a fairly entertaining brawl that apparently lasted longer than their future Wrestlemania encounter. There's not much to say about this one; Taker has bad ribs coming in, but he overcomes the odds and beats up John Cena. You'd figure that the guy you were trying to get over as a big deal would get the big win here, but WWE and common sense never go hand in hand... think about that for a minute.

Vince McMahon defeated Zach Gowen in a match that featured the one-legged Gowen do a lot of cool stuff that ultimately meant nothing because he couldn't beat a 60-year-old man. I don't know if this was supposed to be hard to watch, but it was hard to stay awake and once the match was done, so was Gowen. Not a good showing.

Kurt Angle defeated WWE champion Brock Lesnar and Big Show in a Triple Threat match to win the title. Big Show was there so that we didn't get Angle-Lesnar II (technically it would be III if you counted the one short match on Smackdown before Mania) and served as a foil for the two "heroes" to eliminate for the short term before taking each other out. This was good, good stuff. Serving to give Angle his win back and plant the seeds for Brock's eventual heel turn and even Big Show served a role here. A fantastic main event that kept me thoroughly entertained.

In the first round of brand-exclusive PPVs, Vengeance 2003 absolutely destroys Bad Blood 2003 on account of having the good stuff being REALLY good and the bad stuff being... still bad but not too bad. Kill a couple bad matches and replace it with another GOOD match and this would've been one of the all-time great wrestling cards. As it is, this is still good stuff.

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