Wednesday, June 6, 2018

WWE Survivor Series 2003

So we have a co-branded PPV in Survivor Series, where one brand is planting the seeds to its eventual future, while over at the other brand, it's business as usual. If you've been following these Classic Musings or even following the 2003 WWE product on the Network, then you probably already know which is which... but for the rest of you... well, it'll become readily apparent.

Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Angle: Kurt Angle, Hardcore Holly, Chris Benoit, John Cena, Bradshaw
Team Lesnar: Brock Lesnar, Big Show, A-Train, Nathan Jones, Matt Morgan

Winners and Survivors: Chris Benoit and John Cena

Ah, yes, I had forgotten that former WWA champion Nathan Jones was still in WWE and he had not gotten any better, it seems. Anyway, this ran a little over twelve minutes and felt like everything was moving at fast-forward. However, when all was said and done, the right guys won, giving them a stepping stone towards their Mania matches and in a surprise twist, neither captain makes it to the end. Angle gets F5'ed towards the end and Lesnar taps out to Benoit's crossface, leaving the duo to face off against Big Show, who looks strong in defeat thanks to a chain shot from Cena. For what it's worth, this was fine but rushed.

Women's champion Molly Holly defeated Lita with a roll-up to retain the title. Not the most exciting or even the most engaging match out there, but it was still perfectly acceptable fare.

Kane defeated Shane McMahon in an Ambulance Match that I completely forgot exist and kinda wished I kept forgetting. This wasn't completely horrible, but lasted way too long to the point of challenging my suspension of disbelief. I want to say that Shane McMahon lasting as long as he did in this sort of match was the least believable Shane-O-Mac match I've ever seen, but then Undertaker would come along with Hell In A Cell and ask Kane to hold his beer a decade-ish later.

There's a thing with Jonathan Coachman and Mark Cuban that I skip because I don't give a shit. Hey, this isn't a hard hitting review where I recount every single detail. This is where I ramble about shit I see and if I don't care about something, I'm not going to touch it. Next.

Smackdown Tag-Team champions Doug and Danny Basham defeated Los Guerreros when Chaov accidently kicked Eddie's leg from under his leg, allowing the Bashams to trade places and roll up chavo for the win to retain the titles. Meh. Just meh.

Survivor Series Elimination Match
Team Austin: Shawn Michaels, Dudley Boyz, Booker T., Rob Van Dam
Team Bischoff: Scott Steiner, Mark Henry, Christian, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton

Sole Survivor: Randy Orton

This match needs a little more context for it to make sense, but fortunately, we have a video package to bring the audience up to speed. Steve Austin and Eric Bischoff are co-General Managers of RAW and hijinx ensue. Things go to a head and we get this match, with the stipulation being that whoever's team wins get to be the sole GM, while the other guy is out of a job. This creates the interesting predicament of Austin - a man who lived by DTA: Don't Trust Anybody - suddenly having to trust others in order to keep his job. Naturally, this went over about as well as one expected and justifies Austin's DTA mentality at the end of the day, but it is a simple and actually intriguing angle that has some semblance of emotional investment.

The match drags until it gets down to Shawn Michaels going up against Orton, Jericho, and Christian. Suddenly, Austin's fate rests in the hands of the man he beat to win his first WWF championship and Shawn puts up a valiant battle. He downs Christian, then he rolls up Jericho, and for a brief moment, we believe that Shawn can pull off the miracle comeback and save Austin's job. Eventually, Batista rushes in for the interference and enables Orton to pin Michaels, win the match, and bring Austin's run as co-GM to a close. Like I said, it's a simple and surprisingly dramatic story that is enhanced by Shawn's comeback run towards the end. As a match, it was slow until Shawn alone made it good, but as a story, it worked and one of the few bright spots in a year that desperately needed them.

After giving Shawn a hug for giving his best and surprisingly not give him a Stunner, Austin then gives a bit of a goodbye before fighting off rent-a-cops and giving Coach one more Stunner for good measure. This would've been fine as a send-off... and then Austin was brought back as a sheriff and would stick around until Wrestlemania XX, where he got to officiate Brock Lesnar and Bill Goldberg's much reviled swan song from WWE... the first time around.

Vince McMahon defeated Undertaker in a Buried Alive match with help from Kane and a random lightning bolt. This would mark the end of Biker Taker (whether you want to call him American Badass, Big Evil, Big Red, Booger Red, whatever) and would begin the slow transition back to the new Dead Man look at Mania. This was one old man beating up another old man and that's all there is to it. Yes, Vince gets a bit of color; yes, Kane has something better to do besides setting Jim Ross on fire without shilling barbecue sauce or plugging electroshock torture on Shane McMahon's junk, and yes, Vince can take a beating as well as anyone and make it look good. I suppose back in the day, this was a nice bit of catharsis for all the bullshit I've endured in the past year or so, but then we still have the main event. Joy.

WWE Big Gold Belt champion Goldberg defeated McSon-In-Law to retain the title. And I don't give a shit. I didn't care back in 2003; I sure as hell didn't care watching this now, especially since this would be the last "big" win in Goldberg's first WWE run. All I can say is that if you've seen their Unforgiven encounter, you've seen this and that's all there is to it. It might have some differences, but in the grand scheme of things... I don't care.

The only worthwhile thing about this iteration of Survivor Series was the Shawn Michaels miracle run when the odds were against him and unfortunately, that isn't enough to make this show worth a damn, where the best stuff is above average and the worst stuff is just... bad. If you want a reminder of how bad WWE was in 2003... well, you've got plenty of options and this show is one of them.

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