Brett Mix’s- WWE Royal Rumble 2003 Review:
–“I’ve seen a lot of matches in my day, ….but I can’t remember one….THIS GOOD.” -Tazz (On Angle-Benoit)
-WWE Royal Rumble 2003 took place on Sunday, January 19th, 2003 from the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts in front of 15, 338 fans.
-This was the 16th Annual Royal Rumble event.
-This was just the 2nd Rumble Match without Steve Austin in the last 8 years. (The other being 2000) Austin’s last Rumble was in 2002.
-This was the first Royal Rumble to be held since the Brand Extension of 2002- Hence, it was the first Royal Rumble to include specifically 15 Raw superstars and 15 SmackDown! superstars. Also, it was the first Royal Rumble to feature both WWE and World Heavyweight Championship matches on the same card.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler do commentary for the RAW matches and The Royal Rumble while Micheal Cole and Tazz broadcast the Smackdown! action for the night.
-Now onto the PPV……………
1) Opening Contest- Royal Rumble Qualification match: Brock Lesnar vs The Big Show (w/Pau]l Heyman)
One of the most predictable Royal Rumble matches since the Royal Rumble match itself in 1998. Once this match was over it was clear who was going to win the Rumble Match later in the night however most Rumble’s are predictable anyway, as long as they are entertaining is the key.
This match was kept relatively short.
Some impressive moves by Lesnar here in this opening contest.
Which man beast would enter the Rumble later? Hmmm. There was a good pace to this match early and Boston was chanting “Lets go Lesnar!” A chant I’ve done many times.
Lesnar cornered Show a with some shoulder blocks followed by a sequence of belly to belly suplexes to Show and when going for another Show tossed Lesnar out of the top rope. Heyman was hillarious on the outside of the ring begging for Brock Lesnar to go easy on Big Show.
Show drove a boot to the head of Lesnar and then slammed his head on the top turnbuckle and threw some shots to his back. Big Show with a giant slap to the chest of Lesnar. Brock got to his feet and stood in the corner and was a victim of a hiptoss from Show. The speed of Lesnar caught up to the match and he was able to hit a German on Show. Heyman screamed NO WAY! and chanted on the apron, Heyman grabbed the leg of Lesnar and Show capitalized with a boot to the face of Brock Lesnar. Show with a side slam to Brock and then did his signal as he raised his arm for the chokeslam which scored a chorus of boo’s.
Heyman felt cocky when Show lifted his arm and he grabbed Brock by the throat and then Lesnar with a great counter hooking the leg with an armdrag into a roll and then a nearfall. Another belly to belly to Show which took the strength out of Lesnar. Brock Lesnar threw Heyman over the top rope which took his hat off.
Brock Lesnar grabbed Heyman and picked him up until he ran into a chokeslam by Big Show. Brock Lesnar may have made a mistake and then out of no where Brock Lesnar kicked out and Big Show couldn’t believe it, his eyes were hillarious. Big Show then picked up Brock Lesnar who struggled to get to his feet and when Show went for a chokeslam, Brock went from behind and pushed Show into Heyman which knocked him off the ring apron. Brock then scooped up Show and hit the F-5!
Three belly to belly suplexes to the 500 pounder and an F-5 stood out the most which did a nice job at showcasing Lesnar’s amazing strength.
Lesnar and the Big Show had a few memorable matches in 2002-2003 such as the Survivor Series 02 match, this one, the Stretcher match at Jday 03, The Triple Threat with Angle at Vengeance 03 and the unforgettable Smackdown match in 03 where the ring broke in Kayfabe of course. Some of those matches weren’t too great but I’m just pointing out this was at a time when the two guys “hated each other” and Heyman left Lesnar for the Big Show after turning on him in the Garden at Survivor Series costing him his first Championship. The only way Lesnar would ever get another shot would be to win the Rumble qualifying match and then the Rumble itself. He did both. He also won the title match at Wrestlemania 19 if you can believe that! SHOCKING HEY!? But it’s all fine because despite the predictability, I’m a Lesnar fan although I must say that he was much better as a heel obvioussly with Heyman as the mouth piece. Decent opener, nice and short here.
So in the end Lesnar pinned Big Show after an F-5 at 6:29 to qualify in the Royal Rumble where he’d be the 29th entrant later on. (Although the number he drew wouldn’t be announced on the show until he came out in the match.)
Quick and about as good as it could of been given the time of the match, I actually thought this was done pretty well.
2) The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) vs William Regal and Lance Storm (c) for the World Tag Team Championship
Some pretty decent tag team action here.
The Dudleyz were in the opening match of the last 3 Royal Rumble’s prior to this event and would be in the first match in 2004 as well. This time they were placed second on the card, what a change up this was.
The story going into this match was about Regal using the brass knuckles to score himself a victory, just like he did the year before in a match with Edge for the IC title.
Regal was checked by Patrick as was Storm for Knuckles, Nick Patrick the official that is. Regal was angry of course.
Bubba started in with storm hitting a shoulder block off the side ropes followed by a hiptoss and then Storm got some offense in as he hit Bubba, ducked him but then landed in a bomb by Bubba down to the mat onto Storm. D-Von Dudley was tagged in as was Regal and he hit him with a scoop slam and then a reverse elbow, and a nearfall. Dudleyz generally go for nearfalls in these kind of matches. Storm tagged in started to brawl and Patrick asked him to watch the punches so he sticked to what he does best and he wrestled with a drop toehold, Regal tagged in and did what did best and wrestled. Regal with a hiptoss wearing down D-Von Dudley. Storm back in and then he took D-Von was taken down by a knee and a chokehold. The fans chanted “USA” as neither of these two were American obvioussly. Storm with a headlock on D-Von Dudley wearing him down some more. D-Von Dudley and Bubba had the size and power advantage but they were being taken apart by the technical experts in Storm and Regal. D-Von Dudley was able to get out of the sleeper with a snap takedown and tagged in Bubba who hit a clothesline with a lot of steam followed hiplock to Storm. Bubba with a sideslam and almost a three on Lance Storm. Bubba irishwhipped Storm but he reversed it, into another switch by Bubba and he hit a german suplex. Regal came in and broke up the count and Bubba speared him down. Bubba then told them to suck it as he elbowed both Regal and Storm and then hit a Bubba Slam on Regal which only got a two.
D-Von Dudley got the blind tag and then Bubba slammed down Regal. Bubba did “What’s UP!?” with D-Von Dudley and he hit the groin of Regal. Both guys with a flapjack to Storm shades of the Midnight Express. D-Von Dudley only got a two on Lance Storm. Fans chanted for the 3-D for the Dudleyz but the Chief of Staff “Morley” ran out and Regal ran out with knucks out of no where. 3-D to Regal.
A knock out shot from D-Von Dudley to Storm!
In the end D-Von Dudley pinned Storm after hitting him with brass knuckles brought into the match by Regal at 7:24 to become the new WWE Tag Team Champions. Another title reign for the Dudleyz, this one wasn’t very huge as they were kind of fading out in popularity.
A pretty good and very standard match for the length it got.
3) First Ever Stepmother vs Stepdaughter Match- Torrie Wilson vs Dawn Marie
The only thing scarier then this match taking place is the storyline with Al Wilson that forced it. The only thing scarier then Al Wilson getting more TV time then Benoit around this time would be the fact he died in the storyline on him and Dawn’s honeymoon. Aw, poor Torrie. Lets hope she gets her revenge here, hey that’s what the driving force behind the feud was, right? Torrie’s great revenge here at the Rumble, this was the big payoff after all!
Believe it or not these two actually tried to wrestle so that made the match worse ironically.
I would have much rathered seeing one of them get there tops or bottoms ripped off (See Judgment Day 04 for that on Dawn)
Does anybody seriously want me to talk about the specifics of this match?
Let me break it down in simpler terms.
This match is about as painful as getting your sack poked at with a hot stick while being forced to listen to Ashley Simpson for hours on end.
I can’t begin to even talk about how bad this match is but one thing I will talk about is the boo’s Boston gave it which was deserved.
Cole and Tazz’s commentary was humerous I guess for how they were talking about how serious the situation was.
Dawn tried an armbar and the like but just no, it didn’t fly with me. Terrible offense. These ladies can’t wrestle, period.
Royal Rumble 2001 had a DUD in Ivory vs Chyna.
Royal Rumble 2003 had a DUD in Torrie vs Dawn.
Royal Rumble 2006 had a DUD in Ashley vs Mickie.
The Rumble-Diva curse is in full effect, this is one of the worst matches ever to see PPV.
In the end she got her revenge, Torrie pinned Marie after a swinging neckbreaker at 3:36.
About 3:33 over what it should of been, better yet it never should of happened.
4) “Big Poppa Pump” Scott Steiner vs “The Game” Triple H (c) (W/”Nature Boy” Ric Flair)for the World Heavyweight Championship
One of the most infamous matches in Wrestling History but certainly for dissapointing reasons.
I could maybe take this match seriously if they weren’t trying to build Steiner up as HHH’s toughest opponent in his entire career. Didn’t Hunter face Hogan, Shawn, Austin, Rock, Flair, Angle, Benoit, Jericho, Bret, Foley, Taker, Kane, Goldberg, and the like?
Don’t get me wrong, Scott Steiner definitely was an amazing worker in the NWA/WCW and the WWF during his early years as a tag team competitor but he just didn’t have it anymore here. A big fail, a big dissapointment.
The Game comes out in red trunks, Steiner comes out to a decent reaction at first. The fans were bored to tears by the build up to this match (pose downs and the like) so this match was hyped big and the fans finally wanted to see the two get it on. (More importantly Steiner finally wrestle in a big match, this could have even been his first match on TV if I remember correctly also, definitely looked like it.)
He botched move after move and continually yelled “HUH?” and as much as HHH (who had an off night also) and Flair tried, the match just came off terrible, and even worse BORING. What a way to follow up a classic match like Dawn vs Torrie!
Scott Steiner began with some power moves and hard blows to Trips followed by some blows and chops as HHH exchanged with some right hands as well so it wasn’t extremely one sided at the beginning.
Scott Steiner had The Game in the corner of the ring and hit him with more chops. Scott Steiner with some forearm shots up high on the back of Hunter and then hit a forearm shot to Triple H’s head. Scott Steiner gave Hunter a powerslam and he was trying to intimidate him as yes, that was the story. Scott Steiner clotheslined HHH on the outside and then drove his back into the ring post. Back in the ring Steiner continued to work over the back of Hunter with solid forearm shots followed by chops and then an irishwhip to the corner turnbuckle. Steiner actually had a strategic gameplan so this part of the match wasn’t all that bad.
Steiner had a Boston Crab to Hunter pressuring his back some more. Scott Steiner kicked Hunter in the head and irishwhipped him and then hit an atomic drop.
The idea here was that Scott Steiner was too powerful for HHH and he would be the best threat to taking his title.
A belly to belly from Scott Steiner to HHH and then when the Camel Clutch was about to be applied Flair took HHH out of the ring and then Scott Steiner chased him for a bit. Scott Steiner irishwhipped Hunter into the corner and now this is where things started to slow down a bit. Hunter stomped on Scott Steiner in the corner of the ring as HHH lifted his boot earlier which caught Scott Steiner in the head and this is was the first time he was in control in this match.
Triple H outside of the ring irishwhipped Scott Steiner into the steel steps. Hunter then grabbed Steiner and threw him back inside the ring. Scott Steiner recieved a neckbreaker from HHH but only scored a two count. Hunter cornered him with kicks to the abdomen and then choked him out with his boot in the corner of the ring. Flair then choked out Steiner with a shirt while Hebner was being distracted by Hunter. Scott Steiner ducked a clothesline after an irishwhip by The Game and then HHH caught the challenger-Scott Steiner with a neck breaker. Flair on the outside rooted on HHH as he stomped on Steiner. HHH with another kick to Scott and then choked him out on the middle rope. Flair with more shots to Steiner trying to wear him down while HHH distracted Hebner yet again.
HHH irishwhipped Scott Steiner to the corner of the ring and kicked him in the mid-section going for the pedigree but Steiner countered and catapolted Hunter into the corner turnbuckle, Steiner got up and hit a nice belly to belly suplex.
Oh, the suplexes were definitely nice in the beginning but then they got worse and repetitive. Steiner lifted up HHH, he countered and lifted up Scott Steiner and then HHH got a neckbreaker in on Steiner with a nearfall.
Hunter then snapped Steiner and hit a snapshot Vertical Suplex. Flair celebrated on the outside trying to get the fans on there feet for the Champion who had a lot of critics at the time.
Steiner hit a belly to belly suplex to HHH and then both men got up and brawled away in the center of the ring. Scott Steiner irishwhipped into the corner but still bounced off with a clothesline to HHH. Steiner hit a backdrop to HHH and then the fans grew restless of the Suplex fest.
Steiner with a suplex, then another, then another, the third in a row and the fans started to boo.
Scott Steiner with a suplex to HHH, yeah again and he botched it and the fans booed. Steiner this time elbowed by Hunter but was able to gain control back of the match for no paticular reason with a superplex to HHH who rolled out of the ring trying to get counted out to save his title.
Flair grabbed HHH and told him “lets leave”. Scott Steiner chased them and pushed both men down. The fans didn’t seem like they cared very much. HHH went to hit Steiner with the World Title behind the official but Steiner hit HHH instead which made HHH blade outside the ring. Steiner gave him head shots with his hands and forearms to open up HHH’s busted open head some more. Scott Steiner threw Helmsley into the ring post.
Scott Steiner hit a belly to belly on HHH and the fans were getting extremely tired of this booking.
HHH intentionally trying to get himself counted out, while whenever Steiner was in control it’d look sloppy or be an 80th suplex.
Scott Steiner kicked HHH in the mid-section outside the ring and gave him a hard shot bouncing HHH’s head off the announce table. Steiner threw HHH back in the ring and then with a bloodied HHH down, Steiner did some push-up’s and the fans BOOED. JR said it had to be intimidating, how about humiliating and I’m talking about for Steiner.
Flair asked the official to stop the match due to HHH’s blood loss, so he’d retain the title of course.
Scott Steiner chased Flair a bit on the outside.
HHH intentionally threw Hebner out of the ring to try and DQ himself.
Hebner went to ring the bell and said NO.
Things got real ugly here. Steiner just kept suplexing and the more he suplexed the more they booed.
Scott Steiner hit a belly to belly and The Game kicked out. Scott Steiner with more shots to the bloodied face of Triple H. Hunter hit a lowblow to Steiner and then rolled him up but somehow Scott Steiner kicked out.
HHH then relied on getting himself DQ’d and grabbed the Sledge Hammer. HHH came in the ring with it and by this point in the match the crowd wanted blood. Hebner screamed “NO!”
HHH hit Steiner in the abdomen with the Sledge Hammer and the fans booed. Hebner had enough at this point with his long time rival in HHH.
So in the end Triple H was disqualified after hitting Steiner with a sledgehammer, resulting in Triple H retaining the title at 18:14.
After the match, Steiner assaulted Triple H and Ric Flair with the sledgehammer and locked in the Steiner Recliner on Triple H to a chorus of boo’s from the pissed off fans in Boston.
I was pissed as well. So pissed infact that I actually thought Steiner would be fired by the next night on Raw. But guess what he comes out and wants a re-match. Unbelievable. How did that idea not get booed out of the building? Not only did he want one which was bad enough, he actually got one! On Pay-Per-View! With the direction this company was going in they’d might as well bring Crippled old Nash out for a couple PPV bouts with HHH later that year! Oh…they ACTUALLY DID.
Wow, I was amazed that they gave Steiner this oppurtunity. But I’m convinced one of the only reasons they did that was to give him a 2nd chance and they needed a filler until his Wrestlemania program with Booker T. For anyone wondering if they forgot about Steiner’s 2nd chance with a PPV Title match…. (and I don’t blame you if you did) It failed at No Way Out also and he wouldn’t even make the card at Wrestlemania 19. (The Miller light cat fight girls even did)
Actually a decent first half, but a terrible finish and lets just say a major dissapointment as a whole and leave it at that.
5) Kurt Angle (c) (With Team Angle) vs “The Rabid Wolverine” Chris Benoit for the WWE Championship
Talk about following up a dissapointment with an all time CLASSIC. There isn’t a better example then this.
This is one of the greatest matches of all time.
After some time it still holds up.
The two tied up at the start of the match and Benoit with a side headlock to Angle but then he was pushed to the near ropes as Angle got out if that quickly before Benoit could dictate the pace early as Kurt Angle had Benoit well scouted.
As Benoit was shoved to the ropes he came off and then Angle got a big time shoulderblock by Benoit and then he went for a sharpshooter, but Angle then slid out of the ring quickly avoiding a Sharpshooter attempt. Kurt Angle on the defense in the early going.
Angle on the outside of the ring walking off the early pressure off and then gets back in making sure the ref held Benoit back. In the story leading up to this match Angle’s leg was taken out by Brock Lesnar. So this offense by Benoit was definitely logical and a good strategy.
Angle on his first title defense to his third reign.
Angle then circles around the ring and ties up with Benoit again and he had a side headlock locked on and then Benoit leaped off Angle, but then Angle blocked chris’s kick but Benoit hit a nice shop, and then bounced off the ropes but got caught in a sleeper by Angle. Benoit countered it into an armdrag, dragon screw.
Benoit went for a sharpshooter to single out the knee but Angle reached for the ropes.
Both guys with great mat instincts. Benoit was then thrown shoulder first into the ring post. Angle then with a hard right clubbing blow in the corner and he focused on the upper neck of Benoit.
Angle showing pretty good psychology here as he pounded away on Benoit’s upperneck region knowing he had surgery there not long before and this was Benoit’s first crack at the title since his neck surgery so he went all out.
Angle then with Benoit in a vulnerable position applied a vertical suplex to the Rabid Wolverine.
A big time snap suplex only scored Kurt Angle a two and then he sent Benoit head first into the top of the turnbuckle and caught a chop followed by a kick in the corner and then another right hand. Benoit fired back with a ton of chops and then kept up into the chest area on Kurt Angle.
Benoit with a big forearm shot to Angle and then Angle irishwhipped Benoit to the corner but Benoit came off with a blow to the back of Angle’s head and then he hit a knee to the mid-section of Angle. Benoit cornered Kurt and gave him a big time chop. Benoit then with yet another chop. Cole says Benoit sacrificed his family and his life. Oh how true those words are Cole…how true they are.
Angle though gets back in control and picks up Benoit and drops him stomach first on the top of the rope, and with Benoit on the outside ground jumped up and dropped Angle’s head on the top rope. Benoit got up on the ring apron and he exchanged blows with Angle on the outside ring apron then Benoit DDT’d Angle on the outside of the ropes on the apron splashing Angle head first.
Benoit then threw Angle back in the ring and rolled Angle over and got a near fall, as Angle kicked out.
Benoit then looking to take full advantage of this situation and went to the outside and jumped from the top and hit head first to the mat as Angle rolled out of the way. Angle had Benoit scouted and this bought him some time and then Angle went for an Angle slam and then Benoit reversed it into this third sharpshooter attempt of the match, and locked it in for the 2nd time. They mention how Benoit was trained in the Dungeon which is why The Sharpshooter was a favourite move.
Angle was determined as the WWE Champion and he managed to get his body to the bottom rope to break the hold, Benoit then relentless and hit a snap suplex to Angle and got a nearfall. Benoit then got irish whipped by Angle and he hit a belly to belly suplex. What a throw says Cole, and Angle was bleeding from the mouth, his bottom lip, probably from the face plant on the ring apron. Angle then with a throw to Benoit outside of the ring. Angle then went to the outside to meet Benoit.
Angle looked to take advantage now and he scooped up Chris and dropped HIM head first on the outside barricade. This is what the rivalry and the WWE Championship means.
Angle hit a thunderous clothesline to Benoit. Angle in control now and picks up Benoit by the head with a snap into a rear chinlock and then Kurt wrapped the legs around Benoit which takes apart the whole body, so a smart move as he wore down the Wolverine.
Benoit with some life tried to break the grip of Angle’s to get out of this predicament before Angle chokes the life out of him in this match. Benoit then with a quick arm drag takedown to Kurt. Kurt though retaliated with a Belly to Belly suplex. Angle took off the straps and WOO’d and then went for a back suplex. Angle then with a belly to belly suplex into a rear chinlock. Angle then with a headlock to Benoit as Boston applauded Benoit back on.
Over 15, 000 fans cheered when Benoit fought out with elbows to the gut of Angle and then Angle went for a clothesline and Benoit ducked, but both men came off the ropes and hit a double clothesline. Now it’s as if both men drank 20 Energy Drinks because the action gets even better from here on out. It gets real good now, and it’s been great already!
Benoit with huge chops as both men go all out; full throttle.
Fans chant “Lets go Benoit!”
Benoit then with huge chops to Angle and then a knee to the gut, followed by a German Suplex to Angle and then Angle reversed the grip with a German of his own. BENOIT this time with a nice switch and hits a german of his own to Angle, wow. Both men then down after a ton of suplexes and Tazz calls it plain Awesome as Boston applauds.
Benoit then signals for the diving headbutt. Angle caught Benoit from up top and hit a belly to belly suplex from the top! Angle then suplexed Benoit far up over his head that high and he slammed him hard to the mat quite obviously!
Angle into the cover but it’s still not enough to put away Benoit and Tazz points out his toughness and determination.
Angle went into an Angle Slam but Benoit countered into the Crossface and Boston legitimately wanted him to win the WWE title this night, I know watching this live I was on my feet wanting him to win or something along those regards.
Benoit had this locked in good and Angle looked as if he might tap but he crawled desperately to the bottom rope and got there.
Perhaps the best thing about this match was how it was paced. The crowd ate it up and got into it, I’ve always said that if you start a climax halfway through the match, it’s going to come off as an instant classic and that’s what happened here but this one fully deserves it.
Benoit then slaps on an Ankle lock and drags him to the center of the ring as Angle screamed in pain but Angle kicked Benoit up high and then he counters into his own Ankle Lock. Angle then exchanging holds with Benoit, but Chris slaps on the Crossface. Benoit then with a Crippler Crossface to Kurt Angle and then Angle rolled Benoit to his back and got a two count, hoever Benoit again went into a crossface. Benoit time and time again with Crossface attempts made this extremely entertaining because no one was sure if he’d win the title.
Angle then rolled through and hit an Angle Slam! What a match this has been and both men were down, and after a moment of hesitation Angle pinned Benoit but Chris kicked out, it was that hesitation that stopped Angle from getting the three. Tazz by this point said he was getting goosebumps.
Angle with an Anklelock and what a counter by Benoit to push him to the corner of the ring with his one good leg left but he had already sustained a great deal of punishment to this point.
Benoit then with a german suplex attempt but Angle hit a back Elbow then Benoit brilliantly rolled Angle up for another near fall in dramatic fashion! Tazz blows a sigh of relief…truely, this was incredibally remarkable.
Benoit with a pinning combination as he reversed Angle’s offense and only got a two count!
Benoit with a waistlock and hits a german suplex, but Angle with a nice standing switch and then hit another German suplex as neither Cole and Tazz knew who was in control of the momentum as it was just THAT back and forth.
Chris Benoit with another reverse waistlock and hit a release german suplex for the ages!
Ya know, this was the one where Angle did a full flip in the air and landed on his face that he had previously landed on earlier in the match that busted his bottom lip open.
The crowd applaud, most standing for what has been to this point one of the best matches I have ever seen. When you have two men going back and forth in an entertaining battle like this it just doesen’t matter if everything else is perfect because the ACTION was still THAT GOOD.
Benoit then BARELY got to his feet as the fans chanted for Benoit and he went to the very top and dove off all the way across the ring with a flying headbutt, UNBELIEVABLE, about a 14 foot dive.
Benoit hurt himself in the process obvioussly.
It took Benoit a moment before he got to cover Kurt but he kicked out and Benoit locked on a crossface but Angle got up and then dropped Benoit face first into the corner and then Angle hit a second Angle Slam!
1…2…NO! Benoit kicked out again!
Angle crying in pain as the fans go insane for Benoit and Tazz says he doesen’t remember a single match this good, while Cole says this match could headline Wrestlemania!
Benoit locks in the crossface again.
Benoit gripping it in hard but Angle looked to perhaps tap out but Angle countered it into the Ankle Lock. Brilliant and compelling stuff. Benoit kicked out but like a pitbull Angle would not let go of the ankle of Benoit but he kicked out with his one good leg as the fans went ape shit. Angle though tenacious locked it in again and Benoit tried to reach for the bottom rope and Angle fell back for more leverage and Benoit was beyond in pain and was forced to tap out.
In the end Angle defeated Benoit at 20:01 to retain his WWE Championship belt ending the fantastic thrill ride!
Beyond epic, words can’t really describe how awesome a match like this really is.
The standing ovation Chris Benoit recieved after this match from Boston was one of my favourite moments, Cole actually called something right for once, “truly an amazing moment.”
Benoit really deserved this at the time and it’s still one of my favourite moments of all time, even today.
I consider this match also a top 25 match ever.
6) Main Event- The 2003 WWE Royal Rumble Match
1 Shawn Michaels
2 Chris Jericho
3 Christopher Nowinski
4 Rey Mysterio
7 Chavo Guerrero
9 Bill DeMott
10 Tommy Dreamer
12 Rob Van Dam
13 Matt Hardy
14 Eddie Guerrero
15 Jeff Hardy
18 John Cena
19 Charlie Haas
23 Shelton Benjamin
24 Booker T
29 Brock Lesnar
30 The Undertaker
Today, a lot more men would be bold so it was a good crop with the future and the present but at the time those were the bigger names.
As I mentioned earlier this is the first Rumble match to have a “Smackdown vs Raw” feel to it which was interesting and actually added more to the Rumble match as this was now the only time you could see a Rey Mysterio battle a Chris Jericho in the ring. (at least at this point in time so it made that part unique)
Jericho has the stand out performance in this match and lasts the longest in this Rumble. Test of all people eliminates him. Test was in his testicle gimmick at this time (one of the dozen different ways they tried to go about pushing him) but Stacy was smoking hot, too bad she didn’t stay out for his duration in the ring. But the Rumble rules have changed over the years and managers were no longer allowed at ringside during a Rumble match. Yet run-in’s are “A-Okay” at times.
-Chris Jericho lasted the longest in this Rumble as mentioned with a time at 38:54.
-RVD was second lasting 32:56.
-And Mattitude (aka Matt Hardy Version 1) was a respectable 3rd lasting 27:13 in this Rumble which helped push him.
-Booker T and Goldust lasted a combined 6:27 and the fans booed loudly when both were eliminated much like the fans in New Orleans booed loudly when Tazz was eliminated in a matter of seconds back in 2001.
Funny spot when Maven thinks he eliminated the Undertaker with a dropkick for the second straight year, but the Deadman gets his revenge and eliminates him, most enjoyed that.
Onto the Rumble spectacular for 2003.
HBK was the #1 entrant in 1995 and won the whole thing and he got to be #1 here in 2003 despite Jericho wanting the spot.
Either way Jericho got number two and tricked Shawn by having Christian pose as him in the entrance way only for Jericho to attack Shawn from behind as he came through the crowd. Chris Jericho grabbed a chair from outside and attacked Shawn with it as the fans booed.
Nowinski was #3 and he didn’t officially enter until the fourth entrant came out. Shawn was busted open and and Jericho made short work of Michaels which is one of the biggest shockers in a Rumble match to see him get eliminated straight away, some thought it was a mistake at the time as they couldn’t see the booking team making Shawn go out that soon. JR said he wouldn’t of called that in a million years.
Chris Jericho yelled out “You want to be #1 you SOB”. Mysterio came running out as the fourth man to a great ovation in his first ever Rumble match. Mysterio with a quick dropkick to Jericho and then some high risk aerial offense. Mysterio with a lot of high risk moved but Jericho caught him with a shot to the face. Jericho scooped up Mysterio and was about to slam him down but Mysterio threw Chris Jericho into the corner where he lifted the boot up on Rey, tried to throw him out but he had great balance, a springboard dropkick to Jericho down. Nowinski finally entered as him and Chris Jericho attacked Rey.
Edge is out at #5 and he runs to the ring to help Rey. Edge hit a double clothesline on Nowinski and Jericho. Rey from the top hit a hurricanrauna to Jericho. Rey and Edge threw Jericho into the middle of the ring post through the middle, not the top. Former tag partners in Rey and Edge go at it, every man for themselv. Rey missed a 619 attempt to Edge and then Edge shoved Rey over and both Edge and Rey fell out but the ref’s agreed only one foot of Edge hit the floor. Rey with a west coast pop to Edge. What action! Amazing pacing, one of the fastest Rumble’s to this point in time, no doubt about it.
This time it was the real entrance for Christian. Christian hugged his brother Edge and then Edge speared Christian. Mysterio moved out of the way for him to do that. Edge and Rey went to double team Christian, Nowinski thought he threw out both Edge and Rey, then LOOK OUT! A double dropkick from Rey and Edge to Nowinski from the top, Rey landed fine but Nowinski hurt his face big time when Edge landed on him. Rey gave him a bronco buster shortly after which couldn’t of helped.
Chavo Guerrero flipped over the bottom rope into the ring and went right for Mysterio. Rey eliminated Nowinski with a hurricanrana so thankfully he could go to the back and get some much needed medical treatment. Jericho eliminated Rey Mysterio with a clothesline which got a lot of boo’s. Jericho had thrown out HBK and Rey both. Jericho choked out Edge and Chavo, Christian stood there as well.
Tajiri came in the ring and King confused him for Funaki. Tajiri with an awesome pick up to Chavo and he hit a modified airplane spin from an octopus position. Tajiri with a head scissors to Christian and he tried to throw Tajiri out. Men in the ring were Chavo, Edge, Jericho, Tajiri, Christian and now another entrant.
Bill DeMott was out next. DeMott showed his power by striking all the men in the ring. Chris Jericho attacked DeMott from behind. Jericho was thrown out over the top rope by DeMott but he landed on the apron. Jericho on Tajiri, DeMott on Edge, Chavo in the other corner with Christian and we were about to get another entrant.
It’s Tommy Dreamer with a kendo stick hitting the likes of Tajiri and DeMott, Edge grabbed the stick and hit him as well. Fans chanted “EC DUB” as expected. Jericho threw out Tommy Dreamer then blocked the Tarantula and threw out Tajiri. JUst after Jim Ross said Tajiri could win the whole thing.
B squared came out next, aka Bull Buchanan who was Cena’s buddy at the time. He was gone less then 20 seconds as thrown out by Edge. Edge threw Chavo out to the apron and then speared him to eliminate him. Christian and Edge went to throw each other out but Jericho came from behind and threw out both Edge and Christian, you’d think Canadians would get along.
Jericho all alone in the ring and out next is Rob Van Dam! Action about to pick up, these two had some great matches in 2002. RVD and Y2J both fist to fist, Jericho was fatigued and RVD caught him with a straight kick. RVD with high risk offense, a big dropkick and a rolling thunder. RVD had Jericho thrown out but he hung on.
Matt came out next to dish out a great performance in this Rumble. He went straight for Van Dam upon arriving. Jericho and Matt irishwhipped Van Dam but he flipped over and Van Dam fought off two men with some innovative offense until eventually being taken down by Jericho. Rob Van Dam went up top which is always risky in a Rumble match, RVD hit the Five Star Frogsplash to Jericho then Matt tried to throw out RVD but he hung on.
Latino Heat hit and Eddie came out. This should be good, Lawler loves saying Latino HEEEEEEEAT, we had three great workers in and now we have four, Eddie, RVD, Jericho and Matt. Eddie and Jericho are obviously far and away better then the rest but all four can certainly work. RVD monkeyflipped Eddie halfway across the ring. Eddie almost got thrown out by RVD. Matt then hit a twist of fate to Eddie Guerrero and then he posed with the Mattitude symbol-taunt and Shannon Moore his “MFer” was happy outside the ring. Not sure why he was allowed to be out there when other valet’s aren’t. Consistency within Rumble matches are always something that isn’t quite there.
#15 was Jeff Hardy as he ran out and Matt looked worried. Matt wanted to team up with Jeff but he attacked Matt as the fans cheered. Jeff almost threw out Matt but he hung on. Jeff goes up top to hit a Swanton on Matt and Shannon Moore went on top of Matt Hardy to protect him so he hit the move on both men. Eddie attacked Jericho in the corner.
Rosey of 3 Minute Warning walked down to the ring with Rico. Rosey came in and prevented RVD from throwing out Matt, then Jeff went towards his brother. Jericho tried to throw out Eddie and Rosey kicked RVD with a thrust kick as Rob charged towards him in the corner. Jeff backdropped Matt over the top rope but AGAIN he hung onto the ring. Rosey then charged at Chris Jericho in the corner who was still in the Rumble and he started this thing. Jericho and Matt the most impressive.
Test was next and he walked out with Stacy Keibler and unfortunately she had to leave. Test came in and clotheslined Jericho and Rosey and then hit a back breaker to Eddie and a pumphandle slam to Matt Hardy. Test lasted the longest in the 2000 Rumble afterall.
John Cena came out to make his Rumble debut and rapped for the entire two minutes basically. The stand out thing he said was “My style is like a Swollen Penis, you can’t beat me.” RVD rolled out and threw Cena in the ring. JR calls Cena a future main event player and a great young prospect.
Charlie Haas ran out to Angle’s music and the fans chanted “YOU SUCK” for the first litte bit which was funny. The ring filled up big time by this time. RVD, Jericho, Jeff, Cena, Rosey, Haas, Test, Matt and Eddie Guerrero were the guys in the ring. Matt had almost thrown out Test, but as Jeff tried a corkscrew moonsault to RVD he pushed him to the outside and Jeff Hardy was eliminated. Eddie walked the turnbuckle into a hurricanrana taking down Chris Jericho.
#20 was none other then Rikishi and this was his 8th Rumble Match which was more then anyone in history at this point, King seemed shocked but probably didn’t consider all the times he entered as Fatu. Rosey asked Rikishi “What’s up Dawg?” and they teamed up on Mattitude and his MFers and they were sitting in the corner, Rikishi was about to charge towards Matt and Shannon but Rosey clotheslined him before he could attempt to.
Jamal came out now. Both 3 Minute Warning in the ring now and he kicked Rikishi up high. Rikishi ducked a clothesline and kicked him up high. Rosey then hit Jamal with the Stinkface and it barely got an ovation, nice payoff there. Jamal and Rosey attacked Rikishi in the corner. Jericho almost threw out RVD but he jumped from the top with a nice high kick to Jericho.
Kane came out at #22. Kane had the most impressive performance in 2001 when he eliminated 11 people came in and hit Jericho with a sidewalk slam and then chokeslammed Rico down to the mat when he came inside the ring. Rosey charged towards Kane and he was backdropped over the top rope by Kane. Kane then with a double chokeslam to Shannon and Matt. Kane almost threw out Jericho but in unique fashion stayed alive.
Shelton Benjamin came out and he joined his teammate Haas in the ring. Chris Jericho slugged it out with Matt, they had been the two more impressive men inside the ring thusfar. Action all over, Rikishi kicked at Eddie who held on.
Booker T came out next at #24. Booker ran right into a chokeslam from Kane and he countered it up with a scissors kick and then the Spinnerooni in the middle of the Royal Rumble and Eddie charged towards him but then took a rough landing to the outside as Booker backdropped him over the top rope. Booker knocked Rikishi down and kicked him the chest and started to choke him out in the corner. Matt had RVD on the ring apron but Van Dam hung on and then flipped over the rope and landed on matt with a leg drop.
A-Train was 25. A-Train with a bomb to Cena and then a back breaker to Shelton. They like to build these big men who enter late up as potential favourites when logic tells us they could never win. Rikishi kicked Albert down after he planted Van Dam. Chris Jericho looked to be thrown out by Rikishi but he hung on, Jericho had been in the match for fourty minutes. Jericho was thrown out by Test after Michaels came in and attacked him. Michaels flew over the top onto Chris Jericho on the outside and this would further the feud heading into WM X9.
#26 was Maven. Maven fired away some shots on Kane in the corner. Albert then splashed Haas off the ropes. Action all over the ring right now, right hands everywhere and not much else.
Three men had entered at this #27- Big John Studd, Steve Austin and Yokozuna and had all won. This time it was Goldust. Goldust with a powerslam to Shelton after knocking down Haas. Goldust set up Maven in the corner for Shattered Dreams and kicked him in the mid-section. Haas clotheslined Goldust over the top rope as he was working on Shelton and the fans didn’t like this. Booker though came to Goldust’s rescue as he tried to attack Haas but Shelton kicked Booker out and both Booker and Dust were out. RVD hit a rolling thunder in the ring on someone laying down.
Batista made his Royal Rumble debut and took down Cena. To think those two would be the last two in the ring just two years from this event. Test with a full nelson slam to Batista. Test had almost thrown him out of the ring but he hung onto the top rope and Test charged towards the ropes and fell out as Batista held on. Rikishi was then thrown out.
#29 was Brock Lesnar. The Next Big Thing came out and clotheslined Benjamin and then took down Maven. Brock with heavy shots to Cena. Batista and Jamal tried to double team Kane out of the ring. Team Angle were eliminated by Lesnar. Brock then F-5’s Matt out of the ring onto Team Angle on the outside of the ring, awesome stuff.
#30 was the Returning Undertaker and I thought he was supposed to be returning to his DARKSIDE around this time so I was a bit dissapointed but it was still good to see Taker back after a couple of months off I believe following the brutual Hell in a Cell, he was in the same ring as Lesnar which was interesting.
Taker tossed out Cena, clotheslined out Jamal. Maven then dropkicked Taker thinking he had eliminated him two years in a row and Taker chokeslammed Maven and made up for it by throwing him out. King said this is really what should of happened last year. Albert then set up Taker for an A-Train Bomb. Lesnar irishwhipped Kane and then he ducked a clothesline and grabbed Brock by the throat and chokeslammed him. RVD with a big kick to the head of Albert. Kane then threw RVD into Batista, they were after all tag partners at the time. Albert picked up Kane or went to but RVD hit a spinning heel kick. RVD and Kane hit a clothesline to A-Train knocking him out. Kane picked up RVD and threw him to the outside to show it was every man for himself.
The Final four were all big men. Tista, Kane, Lesnar and Taker.
Lesnar and Taker then had a bit of a showdown thinking back to there Hell in a Cell match which JR said he’ll never forget. Batista attacked Taker from behind while Kane beat on Lesnar in a corner of the ring. Batista slammed Taker into the corner but he came out of the corner with a big clothesline shot. Batista hit a Spinebuster slam to The Undertaker. Kane and Batista worked over Lesnar in the corner of the ring. Brock hit a couple of powerful clotheslines before a belly to belly to Batista. Lesnar then hit an F-5 to Kane! Taker then had another standing showdown with Lesnar. Taker with a boot to the face of Lesnar and then Brock caught Taker up with a hot shot. Lesnar picked up Taker but he reversed it and went for a Tombstone and hit it. Taker then tossed out Batista.
Undertaker and Kane then wanted to join up on Brock Lesnar. The Brothers of Destruction were about to team up but Taker threw Kane over the top. Batista came in with a steel chair but Taker hit Batista with it, this distracted Taker though and allowed Lesnar to come from behind and throw out Taker.
So in the end Brock Lesnar last eliminated The Undertaker at 53:41 to win his first and only Royal Rumble he’d take part in. (Despite interfering in the 04 Rumble costing Goldberg the match) Taker shook Lesnar’s hand.
Fun…but not nearly as fun as the two years before this one in comparison.
Some very good parts to this Rumble match though, that’s for sure.
Solid way to end the show though.
Final Rating for WWE Royal Rumble 2003 = 6/10
This show had one of the best matches of all time. It’s too bad it also had one of the worst ever and then one of the biggest dissapointments ever. Everything else was average and the Rumble was pretty fun despite being predictable. Not a great event but there’s still enough to see with the final two matches in order to like it if only for that alone.
The Angle /Benoit match deserved a 5* rating, but it doesn’t matter, it was an overall classic match.
Only worth watching for the benoit vs. angle match
@Brett, that is your opinion of the Royal Rumble 2003 event