September 27, 2008
Alexander Settee

Summerslam 2003, August 24, 2003, America West Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz

Wanted to do a more modern show, or at least one from the WWE era, this week. Just looking through what I have on hand I found this and remembered the Elimination Chamber, and Angle/Lesnar matches as being good, so I’ll give this one a shot. Besides those top matches, I had no clue what the rest of the card was until I looked it up to remind myself. Ask me about a show from 15-20 years ago and I’ll rattle the whole card and buildup for each match off the top of my head, but 5 years ago is already forgotten. Go figure.

Opening Match: World Tag Team Title Match: La Resistance vs. The Dudley Boyz

The Dudleys have become flag waving faces here in order to fight off the evil foreigners. The French worked in cahoots with someone dressed as a US soldier last Monday to attack the Dudleys. That guy was an as yet unnamed Rob Conway working his initial short lived gimmick of “Master of Disguise”. Also, even though they’ve switched to the new belts by this point, the onscreen title match graphic still shows the classic style belt. Dudleyz jump La Resistance in the aisle and we’re underway. In the ring, finally, we start with D-Von and Dupree who gets choked out with his own robe. Irish whip is reversed, but D-Von gets the clothesline anyways followed by a dropkick. Grenier is in and he gets clotheslined as well. D-Von gets an armdrag and holds the armbar on Dupree. Dupree makes it to his feet and backs D-Von to the corner where the tag is made to Grenier. He works over D-Von and gets an Irish whip, but D-Von gets the shoulderblock and a slam followed by a legdrop for 2. Wristlock and he tags Bubba who beats Grenier down, then ties him in the tree of woe so he can step on the crotch. That’s just not fair. Irish whip and Bubba nails an elbow. Dupree comes in and gets nailed. Both Resistance get whipped to the corner and splashed by Bubba followed by being dumped out of the ring. Dupree is in now and reverses an Irish whip so Grenier nails Bubba from the apron. Dupree gets a suplex and drops an elbow for 1. Choke on the ropes followed by a tag to Grenier who nails two shoulderblocks and gets 2 off of them. Quick tag back to Dupree who hooks a bearhug. Bubba headbutts out and nails Grenier on the apron, but turns and walks into a nice looking spinebuster from Dupree. 2 count off of that as D-Von has to make the save. Tag to Grenier who whips Bubba off the ropes but ends up caught in the Bubba Bomb. Both guys tag and D-Von is the house afire nailing a backdrop, neckbreaker, flapjack, and tossing Grenier. Powerslam gets a 2 count on Dupree. Corner whip is reversed, but Dupree misses and D-Von gets a shoulderblock. Grenier grabs him from the apron, but D-Von moves just in time and Dupree runs into his partner. Dupree gets rolled up for 2 as Grenier just makes it back in time to save. He knocks Bubba down and they hit a double chokeslam on D-Von for 2. D-Von fights back and Bubba is back up as well nailing a double clothesline. He follows that up with the Flip Flop and Fly on Grenier to send him out. Slam on Dupree who then takes the Wazzup Drop, followed by 3D but Grenier pulls the ref out of the ring at 2. In the confusion, a photographer comes in and nails D-Von with his camera and Dupree gets the pin to retain the titles at 7:52. The photographer is shown to be the soldier from Monday’s angle, who is, as previously mentioned, Rob Conway. Good energetic opener and Patriots vs. Foreigners is guaranteed to draw crowd heat, so I liked it. *1/2

The Undertaker vs. A-Train (w/Sable)

If you think that A-Train and Sable are an odd pairing, the explanation is that Sable is there on orders from Vince as a reward for the work A-Train has been doing for him lately, such as beating up Undertaker on a regular basis. Taker was going to be taking time off after Survivor Series, so the whole thing was building to an up and coming star getting the big win over Taker at that show and getting the rub from being credited with putting a legend out of action. Oh, wait, my mistake, Vince actually decided to take that angle for himself. Oh well. Lockup and Train backs Taker to the corner where Taker avoids the cheapshot. Train grabs a side headlock as the announcers remind us that Taker has bad ribs (which are taped up) due to previous assaults from Train. Train gets fired off the ropes and shoulderblocked down. They then do the exact same headlock?shoulderblock spot again, which annoys me to no end. Train comes off the ropes and Taker tries a hiptoss but can’t get it, but does hit a Russian legsweep for 2. Corner whip, but Taker runs into an elbow. Train sends him off the ropes but puts his head down and gets DDT’d for 2. Wristlock but Train punches out of it and sends Taker off the ropes. Taker ducks a clothesline and comes off with his own flying version. Old School rope walk hits and he follows that up with a knee. Irish whip, but he puts the head down and gets kicked and tossed outside. Train follows him out and goes to work on the ribs by sending Taker to the post and punching repeatedly. In the ring he gets a 2 count and then keeps on those ribs. Taker tries to fire back, but Train is having none of it. Suplex gets 2 for Train and Taker is back with more weak shots. Irish whip by Train is reversed and Taker gets a sleeper, but Train suplexes out. Taker manages to keep control and gets a corner whip which sets up snake eyes, but then he misses a clothesline and they end up clotheslining each other. Slugfest when they recover won by Taker who then gets a big boot and drops a leg for 2. He then drops a leg on the apron. Two corner clotheslines set up the Last Ride, but Train shoves him off right into the ref. Derailer hits, but the ref is slow and it only gets a very long 2.5. Corner whip and Taker comes back out to try a clothesline, but misses and KO’s the ref again. Train gets a bicycle kick and grabs a chair, but Taker boots the chair back in his face. A very slow 2.5 for Taker this time as the ref recovers. Tombstone is attempted, but Train slips out. He misses a clothesline, but walks right into a chokeslam which gets the 3 count at 9:21. * Not horrible or anything, but pretty slow paced. Taker goes for the powerbomb afterwards, but Sable prevents it with the power of seduction. That is until Taker grabs her by the neck and holds her so a returning Stephanie McMahon can run in and attack. Train makes the save before Sable can take too much of a beating.

Eric Bischoff vs. Shane McMahon

This was kind of a convoluted angle, and the pre-match video doesn’t recap it all that well. Bischoff did go to the McMahon home and had sex with Linda last Monday, which was at least made clear. Shane attacks with elbows and kicks right off the bat and then tosses him outside. Bischoff tries to run, but Shane is all over him. Bischoff is just getting destroyed here, being whipped from barrier to post to table. Shane has to roll in the ring break the count a few times and actually looks annoyed at the ref for making him do it. No offence whatsoever for Bischoff yet. Then, out of nowhere, Jonathan Coachman, who’s been at ringside doing interviews during the show nails Shane with a chair. I had completely forgotten the circumstances of Coach’s heel turn, so if you have as well, there ya go. The ref looks to call for the countout, but Bischoff gets on the mic and declares anything goes and falls count anywhere. Coach whips Shane to the stairs and Bischoff gets 2 off of that. In the ring, the double team continues while Bischoff keeps taunting him on the mic. He then orders that JR and Lawler’s mics be cut so that Coach can commentate. Bischoff works over Shane for awhile until Shane comes back with a DDT. Coach nails a low blow to negate that advantage, but this draws out Steve Austin who was Co-General Manager of Raw with Bischoff, but was also under a condition that he couldn’t beat anyone up unless he was “physically provoked”. Coach taunts him on that point until Shane shoves him in to Austin, which is apparently good enough, so Austin stomps a mudhole. They double team Coach and toss him, at which point Austin orders that JR and Lawler’s mics be turned back on. Shane grabs Bischoff’s arm and slaps Austin with it just so Austin can nail a Stunner. Shane lifts Bischoff up at 2, puts him on the Spanish table and drops an elbow off the top which gets the 3 count on the floor at 10:36. They celebrate, and much beer in consumed, as well as spilled for that matter. Strictly as a match, I would have to call it negative stars due to the fact that there was barely any actual match to speak of. Really it was just an extended Sportz Entertainment Segment disguised as a match, so to be fair all I can say is: No Rating.

United States Title Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Chris Benoit vs. Tajiri vs. Rhyno

First PPV defense of the new title after it was first awarded at Vengeance. The usual series of tag matches with partners turning and four way brawls with everyone getting equal shots on the others set this one up. The match is tornado rules and first fall wins. Eddie has pissed the others off more than anyone, so they wait him out on his entrance. He bails so they go at it amongst themselves. Benoit tosses Tajiri but runs into a clothesline from Rhyno. Rhyno then hits a short clothesline, but gets caught on an Irish whip and hooked in the Crossface. Eddie gets in the ring long enough to make the save, but bails again right after. Tajiri takes Rhyno down with a kick, and then nails a slam and kneedrop on Benoit for 2, with Eddie again making the save. In fact, almost all the nearfalls in the match are saves so I’m just gonna quit mentioning it for the sake of saving space and time. Rhyno whips Tajiri to the buckle and follows him in, but eats elbow. He shakes it off and nails a clothesline right after for 2. Benoit catches Eddie and slams him allowing all three opponents to work him over. Tajiri gets a 2 count on him. Rhyno attacks Benoit, but is soon attacked himself by Eddie. Corner whip is reversed and Rhyno hits the charge and nails a powerslam for 2. Benoit gets a snap suplex on Rhyno for 2 and then nails a back suplex on Tajiri, also for 2. “Eddie” chant from the crowd as he is the clear favourite. He works over Tajiri but gets caught in a monkeyflip and tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 1. Rhyno drives Benoit to the corner hard and Eddie sneaks in a pin attempt off that for 2. Rhyno punishes Eddie for that with a superplex for 2. Tajiri gets a good kick on Rhyno for a 2 count. Benoit is after Tajiri now and he whips him off the ropes, but falls victim to the handspring elbow for a 2 count. Rhyno with a back suplex on Eddie for 2, and then he sends Eddie off the ropes, but is caught in a headscissors takedown. Eddie up top and he comes off with a rana on Benoit for 2. Tajiri gets a big boot on Eddie, but Eddie recovers to hook the Lasso from El Paso. Rhyno attempts to make the save, but Benoit hooks him in the Crossface. They hold the moves for a while, teasing that whoever gets the submission first gets the win, but Tajiri makes the ropes so Eddie lets go and attacks Benoit to break his hold too. Benoit gets the Crossface on Eddie now, but Rhyno and Tajiri break that up quick. Rhyno tries a powerbomb on Tajiri, but can’t get it. Tajiri comes off the ropes, but walks right into a spinebuster for 2. Benoit dropkicks Rhyno, and then nails two German suplexes on Tajiri, who avoids the third one and nails one of his own on Benoit for 2. Benoit whips Tajiri to the corner, but he avoids the charge and hooks the Tarantula. Meanwhile, Eddie has grabbed the belt and when Rhyno tries the Gore he hits the belt headfirst. Eddie up top for the Frog Splash, but Tajiri knocks him off. Benoit goes up and drops the headbutt on Rhyno, but Tajiri breaks up that pin at 2. Benoit goes after him and they tumble over the top allowing Eddie to recover and hit the Frog Splash on Rhyno for the pin to keep the title at 10:51. Good match, as you would expect, with no slow spots and everything was well done. ***

WWE Title Match: Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar

Angle returned from injury last month at Vengeance to win the title from Lesnar in a three way with Big Show. They were portrayed as having become friends since their match at Wrestlemania XIX, but losing the title didn’t sit well with Lesnar so he joined forces with Vince to ensure that he would get his shot at regaining “his” title. That makes Angle the face and Lesnar the heel just in case anyone is confused. Obviously the fans are confused because they still chant “You Suck” at Angle during his entrance. They lockup and Brock backs Angle to the corner, but give a clean break. Angle goes behind and takes Brock down into a front facelock. Brock reverses that to a hammerlock, which Angle counters in turn with a headlock, from which Brock then escapes. Lockup and now Brock just shoves him off. He does this again, so Angle goes behind and shoves Brock off in response. Three consecutive armdrags hit by Angle, which frustrates Brock, so he bails. He takes his anger out on the stairs and starts swearing at the ringsiders, which is just great. He grabs the belt and parades around ringside with it, but that sets Angle off and he attacks Brock in the aisle. Angle nails some punches, but Brock takes over and whips Angle to the apron. In the ring, Brock hits some knees and gets a corner whip, but misses the charge. Angle nails an overhead belly to belly suplex for 1 and follows it up with some boots. Brock comes back and gets a press slam, throwing Angle right to the floor. He whips Angle to the stairs and gets him back in the ring. Overhead belly to belly by Brock gets 2, followed by a second try at the cover which also gets 2. Angle slips out of a second press slam and gets a rollup for 2. Brock hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2 and then hooks a rear naked choke. They treat it like a resthold rather than anything serious, and in any case he soon switches to a body scissors. He rolls Angle to a pinning position and gets a 2 count while maintaining the hold. Angle finally escapes and fires away, but runs into a knee. Backbreaker by Brock and he puts the boots to him. Angle fights up and gets a schoolboy for 2, but Brock regains control with a clothesline. Cradle suplex gets 2, and then Brock backs him to the corner and starts driving the shoulder. Angle is sent to another corner and a charge from Brock hits. Another try, and this time Angle moves and Brock hits the post shoulder first. Angle dropkicks him down and goes to work on the shoulder. Triple German suplexes get a 2 count. Irish whip is reversed and Brock gets another overhead belly to belly. Angle recovers first to try the Angle Slam, but can’t get it, so he comes off the ropes and runs into a spinebuster for 2. F5 is countered to a DDT and Angle gets 2. The straps come down and Angle hits the Angle Slam for a close 2.5. Then, he puts the straps back up, just so he can pull them down again and apply the ankle lock. He keeps pulling Brock away from the ropes until Brock is finally able to kick Angle off right into the referee. Angle gets an interesting headscissors as he’s hanging down Brock’s back while applying it. I’m sure there’s a name for that somewhere, but I don’t know. He lets that go and goes back to the ankle lock, but the ref is still out. Brock is tapping, but it doesn’t count, so Vince McMahon is out to nail Angle with a chair. Brock gets the F5 as the ref is coming to and he gets a very long 2.75 count. Another try at the F5, but Angle escapes and reapplies the ankle lock. Brock fights it but ends up having to tap out at 20:47 so Angle retains the title. This was definitely a great match. I was really into it, and those 20 minutes flew by. This led to the Ironman Match on Smackdown where Brock would regain the belt a few weeks later. ****

No Hold Barred Match: Kane vs. Rob Van Dam

These guys were friends and tag partners, but once RVD suggested that Kane would be just fine without his mask, Kane lost it. The buildup featured Kane going nuts and attempting to murder Jim Ross, Linda McMahon, and Shane McMahon, but not Eric Bischoff, because the fans wanted that, and Kane only does what he wants. The buildup here kind of tied in with the buildup for the Shane/Bischoff match, but still didn’t make much sense even after a second different video package. Slugfest starts us off, and RVD tries a flip buts gets clotheslined. Kane dumps him and beats him up outside with a whip to the barrier. RVD fires back and comes off the barrier with a moonsault. Kane nails a shot to the throat to stop that however, and send RVD to the post. He pulls a ladder out from under the ring, but RVD catches him getting it in the ring and catapults it into him. He gets a dropkick off the top and tries Rolling Thunder, but Kane catches him in a choke. RVD gets free and charges Kane taking them both tumbling outside. Kane controls and whips him to the stairs. He then sets up the stairs in such a way that it means they’ll be back in play later. In the ring, RVD nails a kick and shoulderblocks Kane in the corner. Kick off the top rope gets 1, but RVD keeps on him until going up and getting shoved off into the conveniently setup stairs on the outside. Outside, Kane grabs the ladder and measures RVD for a good shot. That gets 2 back in the ring and Kane chokes him down. Corner clothesline by Kane and more choking, until he whips RVD to the buckle and misses a charge. RVD gets some kicks, but ends up being dropped over the top. He lands on the apron but Kane knocks him down. Kane goes up top and tries a flying clothesline to the outside, but RVD avoids it and Kane hits the floor. RVD gets the ladder and nails Kane in the knee, but Kane still manages to get a DDT. He picks up the stairs, but RVD drop toe holds him and Kane falls face first on to those stairs. He dropkicks Kane over the barrier and then crotches him on it. Spinning leg drop from the apron hits and then RVD goes for a chair. In the ring he hits a spin kick and then drops Rolling Thunder on the chair, which is on Kane. He dropkicks the chair into Kane and the tries a Van Terminator, but Kane avoids it. He hits a Tombstone outside on the stairs, gets RVD back in the ring and pins him for 3 at 12:46. The unmasking and heel turn freshened up Kane for a while here, but he’s still in the same position on the card today, and there’s not much left to do with the guy. Match was kind of all over the place with no real flow. *1/4

Main Event: World Heavyweight Title Elimination Chamber Match: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Nash vs. Bill Goldberg vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

HHH is the champ here, but is very limited in what he can do due to a legit groin injury. Fortunately for him this is a style of match that easily protects him. Goldberg is by far the crowd favourite, getting a huge reaction and several “Goldberg” chants throughout the match. Rules are: 2 guys start; other four are placed in pods inside the cage. Every three minutes one pod will be opened “at random” and a new guy joins the match. Anything goes here, and last man left wins. Michaels and Jericho start off. Lockup results in a standoff. Jericho grabs a side headlock, but then moves to a hammerlock, and they keep countering each other until Michaels elbows out. He takes Jericho down with a shoulderblock, and then comes off with a springboard crossbody, but Jericho rolls through and gets 2. Michaels gets a backslide for 2, and then Jericho takes him back down with a side headlock. Michaels counters with a headscissors, but Jericho rolls on top for a 2 count from which Shawn bridges out. They fight for a backslide, and neither guy can get it, so Jericho sends him off the ropes. Michaels gets a sunset flip for 2, but Jericho reaches back and hooks the legs to get his own 2 count. They trade slaps until Michaels sends him off the ropes and gets a backdrop. Jericho recovers and sends Michaels to the corner, but he goes over the charge and Jericho catches him and tries the Walls. Can’ turn him over though and Michaels gets a small package for 2. Jericho comes off the ropes and gets his face plant, and the Lionsault misses, but Jericho lands on his feet and nails Michaels with a clothesline. The countdown ends and Randy Orton is in. He immediately heads up and comes off with a crossbody on Michaels for 2. Dropkick and clothesline send Michaels over the top to the steel. Jericho nails a chop, but Orton ducks a clothesline and gets a backbreaker for 2. Michaels nails both guys, but Jericho comes back with an ensiguiri for 2. Orton nails a dropkick on Jericho and puts the boots to him. He tries the RKO on Michaels, but instead is thrown over the top to the steel. Jericho slams Orton on the grate. Michaels tries a dropkick on Jericho, but gets caught in the Walls. The countdown hits and Nash is next one in. He throws Orton to the cage and clotheslines Jericho to break the hold. He takes Jericho and runs him into the cage three times, and then does the grater spot. Back in the ring Nash gets a side slam on Orton for 2 as we see that Jericho is busted open. Short clothesline on Michaels by Nash gets 2. Jericho comes back on Nash but his Irish whip is reversed and Nash gets a big boot. He sets up for the Jackknife, but Michaels hits a Superkick on him and Jericho gets the pin at 8:08. Orton knocks Michaels over the top as the countdown ends and HHH is next. He takes one step out of the pod and eats a Superkick from Michaels, which allows him to lie down in the pod and sell due to his injury. Nash has recovered now and shows what great sportsmanship he possesses by beating up all three guys. Sorry Kev, too little too late, so get outta here. Michaels, who has also been busted open goes for the pin on Orton and gets 2, and then tries on Jericho, also for 2. Three way slugfest breaks out as the final countdown hits and Goldberg is the last guy in. He cleans house with a press slam into a spinebuster on Orton. Jericho and Michaels try a double team but he clotheslines both of them. Spear on Orton finishes him off at 13:02. Jericho comes off the top with a dropkick and gets 2 on Goldberg, but Goldberg just shakes it off and presses Jericho to the cage. Michaels attacks but gets whipped hard to the buckle. Back to Jericho who gets speared through the door of one of the pods. Michaels has recovered enough to hit a forearm and follow that up with the top rope elbow. He looks for the Superkick, but Goldberg ducks, hits a spear and Jackhammer, and Michaels is done at 15:22. HHH is on his feet now, but he refuses to come out of the pod. Spear and Jackhammer on Jericho end his night at 16:06. What a crazy idea for getting Goldberg over. They had their top guys check their egos at the door and just go out there and make the guy look like a million bucks. There’s a lesson to be learned here. Even though he’s the only one left, HHH still refuses to leave the pod. Even Flair is doing all he can to hold the door shut from the outside. Finally Goldberg just kicks the door in and attacks. He sends HHH to the cage and he’s already busted open, but that doesn’t stop Goldberg from doing it twice more and grating his face on it. HHH tries to come back, but not much effect as Goldberg clotheslines him back in the ring. He sets up the spear, but Flair has slipped a sledge hammer into HHH. He catches Goldberg with it on the spear attempt, and that’s enough to get the pin at 18:32. HHH retains the title. Flair and Orton get in the cage and the big time Evolution Beatdown is on. Batista must have been injured at this point, because he’s nowhere to be seen. Goldberg bleeds a gusher as they handcuff him to the cage and beat him with the sledgehammer. HHH finishes by taunting him with the belt. This was great by the standards of an old school violent cage match, with great intensity, tons of violence and four guys bleeding by the end. The finish is a good swerve in that it both gives you the unexpected (ie: HHH would be expected to lose due to his legit injury), but at the same time doesn’t feel like a letdown at all. I kind of want to go watch Unforgiven right now to see the next match between HHH and Goldberg, so in that sense, it’s a big success. ***1/2

Alright, this show is just about all I could ask for. Both main events deliver quite well, as does the US Title four way. There’s nothing here that I would call bad. Shane/Bischoff, while sucking as a match, is entertaining as an angle, which is all it’s really meant to be anyways. And there’s only seven matches, so everything gets good time (shortest match is the opener at 7:52) to develop and nothing comes across as rushed. Thumbs up for Summerslam 2003.

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