Royal Rumble Count-Up: 2003 – Best Match Ever?

Royal Rumble 2003
Date: January 19, 2003
Location: Fleet Center, Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance: 15,338
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross, Tazz

The Brand Split is upon us. That’s the main difference here. The other would be the level of talent in the main events for both shows. On Raw, we have HHH vs. Scott Steiner. On Smackdown, we have Angle vs. Benoit. This show might set the all time record for biggest gap between the two main events as far as quality goes. The Raw main event was considered a complete disaster while the Smackdown one is considered an all time classic.

Other than that, the main thing is one Brock Lesnar, who has taken wrestling by storm. Shawn’s back as well, so the roster is actually pretty freaking stacked around this time. They’re still getting the hang of the Brand Split as it’s only been around about 7 months. This is the first Rumble in what I guess you would call the modern WWE era, so we’ll see what happens. Oh and Cena and Batista are here now too.

This is the first Brand Split show so it’s 15 Raw guys and 15 Smackdown guys. We get the standard wanting to go to Mania promos, but this one worked better than the others for some reason. They’re keeping it low key, and then we hear from Scott Steiner to mess it up. They really play up the Road to Mania thing here, which is the best way to go. This really is the way to get things going that way and it worked perfectly. It’s so weird to see PS2 as a new product being the sponsor for this.

No buildup or anything as we get to the opening match.

Big Show vs. Brock Lesnar

Yep, this is what’s starting the show: a rematch from Survivor Series as the winner is in the Rumble later tonight. Well ok then. Lesnar is now a face and therefore incredibly popular. Seriously though, why in the world is this opening a show? Why didn’t this main event a Smackdown or something? This is the first rematch between the two since Heyman turned on Lesnar to get the title off of him.

Big Show has a Hogan like mustache and is still wearing the horrible looking attire. I hate that. Stunning no one, it’s a power match to start us out. Lesnar really was a freaking terrifying man as he throws Show over with a decent belly to belly. I say decent in the sense that it really was crap but considering who he’s doing it to, it’s quite impressive.

Pretty much, this is the match: Lesnar does an impressive power move, Show takes over with slow and generic offense, Lesnar hits a power move, Heyman interferes, Show takes over again. In other words, it’s the exact same thing that they did at Survivor Series. To be fair though, what in the world else can they do? I mean you really have to see what Show was like to appreciate how awful he was at this time.

I mean he was just so freaking broken down and slow that he’s putting me to sleepy. I mean really, I can barely keep my eyes open. Dang it why is the sun….see what I mean? The previous sentence was written at 1237am and this is now 740am. I slept all freaking night because of a Big Show match and I wasn’t even tired! He actually sucks that much life out of an audience. But hey, he’s a huge guy so obviously he needs to be pushed right?

Brock is set for a chokeslam, but gets a SWEET counter by rolling over and taking Show down with him. It sounds kind of lame but trist me, this looked awesome. It was like an arm drag without the arm if that makes sense.

Anyway, now that that’s happened, Lesnar gets Heyman on his shoulders for an F5 but he takes a chokeslam instead. He naturally kicks out and Show’s face is kind of funny. In a very abrupt ending, Lesnar runs Show into Heyman and hits an F5 for the pin. Yes it sucked but consider the size of the guy he’s using it on.

Rating: D. Again, this was like the Survivor Series match: Lesnar does all the work, Show gets a paycheck to buy his daily ham with. This is easily the worst Show ever got as he just flat out didn’t care at this point so he relied on his size and generic offense to get him through a match. This was about six and a half minutes, which is still two longer than their world title match from Survivor Series. That’s a bit sad.

Jericho says he’ll win the Rumble. He also beat Rock and Austin in one night.

Raw Tag Titles: Dudleys vs. William Regal/Lance Storm

As you can see the tag titles are more or less dead here. The Dudleys are only 15 time tag champions at the moment. This is the Unamericans phase for the heels. Raw is in the Dunkin Donuts Center tomorrow in X’s home town apparently. Bubba hooks a freaking weird looking leg lock on Storm. It was like a combination of a figure four and a Sharpshooter but he was standing the whole time.

I’ve never seen that before and of all people Bubba freaking Ray Dudley used it. You learn something new every time. Apparently Vince wants tables tonight so there we are. We’re just about to the point where Austin would come back to beat up on Bischoff and then lose to Rock at Mania before becoming co-GM for the summer. That was just kind of sad as Austin was just not what he used to be at this point.

In case you’re wondering where in the world that came from, JR is talking about how Bischoff is in hot water on Raw for being boring according to Vince. This is your run of the mill TV match if I’ve ever seen one. That’s the issue with the Brand Split and the consolidation of the rosters of ECW and WCW onto one show: there simply isn’t time for PPV level matches on PPVs and that’s hurting the product.

The only thing PPV level about this match is the ending as Regal is about to take a 3D and Chief Morely (Val Venis), who was the deputy authority figure at this time, comes out to argue with the referee. Regal gets some brass knucks from somewhere but D-Von steals them. We get REALLY confusing here as Ross can’t tell Bubba and D-Von apart as he says Bubba has the knucks.

This messes Lawler up to no end as he was sure that D-Von had them (which was true) but Ross says Bubba has them about 5 times. Lawler keeps asking if Ross is sure and that he’s confused. I know a lot of people get on Lawler today, but this was all on Ross. After the match Ross wakes up and realizes that Bubba has apparently gotten skinnier, shorter and one heck of a tan and has changed his name to D-Von. The massive celebration ends this.

Rating: C. This is the epitome of average. It could have come off of any Raw throughout the year or any weak PPV. There was nothing at all here that set this apart from any other tag title match at all. The Dudleys are 16 time tag champions. See the problem there? It’s still Dudleys feud with the team of the month before getting the titles back for a “big moment”. It’s very sad that the belts have somehow gotten even more worthless.

We oddly go to an Australian newscast as apparently I’ve taped over….oh it’s Nathan Jones coming. Never mind. Can we go back to the Australian news that means absolutely nothing to me but is far more entertaining? And yes, somehow this clueless putz managed to get together with the Undertaker at Mania of all things. This is a great example of Vince being blinded by big men.

Cole has an insanely bad looking mustache.

We recap the AWFUL Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie feud. This is the infamous one where Dawn married Torrie’s father and blackmailed Torrie into having a lesbian affair with her in order to keep them from getting married. I said it was infamous, I never said it wasn’t insanely hot.

Soon after they got married anyway and they went on their honeymoon and she screwed him to death. As in they had a funeral segment. No one ever actually pointed out what Dawn got out of this other than ticking off Torrie. This is apparently stepdaughter vs. stepmother. Yes, it’s that stupid.

Torrie Wilson vs. Dawn Marie

I have to give it to Tazz and Cole: they actually keep straight faces when doing the commentary here. Dawn is wearing a veil for crying out loud. The only reason for this was to have the women wear hot outfits and kiss once. Of all things, Lillian Garcia sang Torrie’s theme song. If she was even the slightest bit credible, that would be awesome. The fans are a bit bored to say the least.

They’ll pop for a catfight but as a legit big time feud this is just a failure. You can tell the girls have no real rhythm and are having to think their way through every single step of every single move. They’re botching a LOT in this too. The crowd is about as dead as Carlito’s career here too. Torrie wins with a bad neckbreaker to prove absolutely nothing at all.

Rating: DD. That’s of course what this match was about. Torrie and Dawn were both grieving and crushed, but they managed to find tight outfits to wrestle in. Yeah one girl is responsible for the other’s father’s death and they blame each other for it, so let’s have a bad wrestling match to settle this. What was the point of this supposed to be again? Whatever it was it failed.

Stephanie and Bischoff, the current GMs run into each other in the back. They run off this kid with curly hair that looks awful and the guy can’t talk to save his life. His name is Randy Orton. Evolution would officially form in 15 days, on my 15th birthday no less. Anyway, they hint that they both have big surprises coming. Bischoff’s was Austin and I think Stephanie’s was Hogan returning.

Sean O’Haire does a promo of what would have been an excellent gimmick if they hadn’t put him with Piper and had him job to Rikishi of all people.

In case you thought anything had changed in the last 15 minutes, Nathan Jones is STILL coming to the WWF.

We recap Scott Steiner vs. HHH. This had big mistake written all over it as Steiner was just a total musclehead that cut insane promos. Steiner had been a free agent and demanded a title shot guaranteed or he would go to Smackdown. HHH set up a bunch of contests where Steiner kept winning. So that’s where MVP and Matt Hardy stole that horrible story from.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Scott Steiner

This just screams bad idea to me for some reason. HHH is wearing red tights and they just don’t look right at all. Steiner gets a lukewarm reaction at best. We get the big match introductions from Earl so that’s always fun. Steiner throws weird punches. It’s like he hits HHH in the head with his wrist or something like that. Scott does everything with his arms. It’s either punches or clotheslines or slams, but everything is based around his arms. That can’t be a good sign.

I know HHH uses his knees a lot, but he adds in some other stuf too to balance that out. Steiner is dominating here early on in the match. He’s working the back over which at least makes sense given his finisher. To shock me just a bit, Steiner throws in a kick. Yeah it was just one and now it’s back to arm moves. Steiner goes to a bearhug because he’s tired 7 minutes into a match. He mixes his stuff up with a belly to belly overhead suplex.

HHH is more or less getting dominated here. He reverses an Irish Whip (notices it’s another arm based move from Steiner) into the steps to buy some time. The fans are somewhere between dead and annoyed here. It’s just Steiner doing generic stuff while allegedly being a big time challenger to HHH. It’s like a match where the whole thing is made up of the middle of a match where one guy is wearing the other down.

The problem is they’ve been doing that for ten minutes now. The crowd pops a bit for a near Pedigree but there is NO reaction on a slingshot from Steiner. Steiner is just winded beyond belief after a relatively basic and simple match. He botches the selling of what was supposed to be I think a spinning neckbreaker and it turns into more or less a Diamond Cutter.

And now we reach the period where this match is infamous for being AWFUL. Steiner more or less gives up and just does nothing but overhead belly to belly suplexes, clotheslines, and punches. I mean that’s ALL he does. It’s like on the old N64 WWF games where the fans would boo if you did the same moves over and over again.

See, a guy like Benoit or Tazz uses a lot of suplexes because they have a great set up to get there and it wears out the opponent’s neck for their finishing submissions. Here, Steiner uses so many of them because it’s all he’s got. Also, those two others I mentioned MIXED THEIR OFFENSE UP. Tazz had what, 4 or 5 different kinds of suplexes he would use? And how often did he use the same one in a row?

Steiner has used four inside of 30 seconds. That’s four overhead belly to belly suplexes mind you. It’s cool if you do it once, but at this point it’s just dumb, and in a city like Boston, they’re not going to stand for this. He uses ANOTHER, then does that traditional one that he does where he spins to hit it. The fans are DEAD and bordering on angry here.

They’re more or less looking for a reason to just completely go insane here and there it is. Steiner goes for that butterfly powerbomb that he does (again, mainly arm work) and trips over his own feet and HHH lands on Steiner’s boots. There they go. Just to further piss the fans off, HHH and Flair try to leave. They just don’t get that the fans are completely hating this match and they keep extending it further and further.

This match feels like it could go another ten minutes, but if that happens they’re going to riot. HHH is bleeding and no one cares. A sixth, count it sixth overhead belly to belly and the fans are just done. Ross is making cracks about them too as he’s annoyed and wanting this to end. Hey, we’ve got nothing at all going here, so let’s go fight in the crowd! The referee refuses to count though as apparently HHH is intentionally trying to get counted out.

I think he’s thinking he wants to save his career while Steiner just doesn’t get it. Just to further infuriate the crowd, Steiner does pushups. HHH throws the referee out of the ring but as he goes to call for the DQ he intentionally stops because he won’t let HHH escape like that. Ok, there’s furthering an angle and then there’s realizing when the match just needs to die. At least five times now this match should have ended, but either due to Steiner or Hebner or HHH’s stupidity, it won’t just end.

Seriously, you’re getting NOTHING positive from the crowd, the match is repetitive, and Steiner can barely walk because he’s so spent, but they keep going anyway. HHH tries to punch the referee, but Steiner stops him with a standing senton corkscrew moonsault. It’s really an impressive move. He’s just such a master of wrestling and working a crowd that he makes you believe it was another belly to belly suplex.

HHH hits a low blow and rolls up Steiner but Suplex Magee over there kicks out anyway. It’s sledgehammer time and a shot from that brings the booing to a new level of intensity as after 18 minutes of torment like that we get a stupid DQ finish.

Steiner’s thong is sticking out of his tights as he no sells sledgehammer shots and beats up HHH with it to nothing but booing. He puts the Recliner on him as Ross mentions the words rematch and there being no way out of the hold, meaning the inevitable rematch is going to happen next month. Steiner poses forever before we get ready for the Smackdown Title match.

Rating: G-. This is another match where you have to wonder what the heck Vince was on when he booked it. I mean seriously, had he seen any Steiner matches from the last 5-6 years? Why in the world would he expect this to be anything resembling good?

The styles just completely clashed and it had WAY too much time. If you hack 8-10 minutes out of this mess, it MIGHT be passable. But no, instead we get nearly 20 minutes of this mindless nonsense because everyone hated it so it must have been great.

We recap Angle vs. Benoit, which is the match that I’ve wanted to get to more than any other in Rumble history. Angle is flanked by Haas and Benjamin at this point as Team Angle. Lesnar had cost Big Show the title at Armageddon ending the month long reign of doom that Show was tormenting us with. Heyman is Angle’s manager apparently, and screwed Show out of the belt or something like that.

Lesnar is apparently banned from getting a title shot (except for at Mania of course), and he introduces Team Angle (Benjamin and Haas) as his insurance. Benoit beats Big Show to get the title shot with all kinds of sick counters. This was just shy of a dream match as both guys were probably at their best level ever as far as in ring abilities. Think about that for a second.

Smackdown World Title: Chris Benoit vs. Kurt Angle

This is Angle’s first title defense apparently. Team Angle tries to jump Benoit and get thrown out. Naturally this is more or less a chess match to start. It’s like a feeling out process at 80 miles an hour as it’s nothing but counters and reversals that no one else could pull off. Cole manages to get the word scuttlebutt in. That’s impressive. Angle might be faking a knee injury here but we’re not sure.

Benoit keeps going for a Sharpshooter, showing of course great psychology as Angle’s knee is hurt. Did you expect anything else from him? The fans are clearly more into this as they’re popping at the right times and while they’re no on their feet or anything, you can just feel that they’re interested in this match. A key thing to notice early in the match: no one is getting a long term advantage.

Benoit is in control for the most part, but Angle is getting in little spurts of offense, which shows that he’s still in this. Benoit an AWESOME move as they’re fighting on the apron and Benoit hooks a DDT onto the apron and lands on his feet on the floor. It looked sick. The headbutt misses though and we’re back to Angle being in control. See how that’s better than what Steiner and HHH did?

Benoit takes over again a few seconds later, but Angle took over just for a bit. It keeps things interesting because at some point, Angle is going to get the advantage and keep it for awhile, unlike Steiner who dominated about 80% of the match earlier. Benoit gets the Sharpshooter and the crowd pops for it. That’s a great sign. Angle gets the ropes though and it’s becoming clear to me why the crowd isn’t that into most of what’s going on: they just know it’s not ending this early.

I remember reading in one of Foley’s books where he said that in the Cell match with HHH the fans were more or less lifeless for his early covers and the times when HHH was covering him. It finally occurred to him that the fans knew that the match wasn’t going to end without them getting out of the cage and without a huge spot. And indeed, they broke the cage open and the crowd lost it. Angle hits a beautiful belly to belly overhead.

It wasn’t sloppy and Benoit had to do little other than tuck his head in. Angle popped his hips and sent Benoit flying. That was great. Cole says that Angle is a member of the Grand Slam club, meaning he’s held all singles titles. Can Cole ever just get something right? Angle launches another belly to belly, but notice a few things: he did something different in between, and he’s up and ready to do something else afterwards.

There’s why this is fine and what Steiner did wasn’t. Angle throws one and pops up to fight some more. Steiner does it and then does it again and again. It’s just stupid looking. Angle hooks a rear naked choke, which is just an odd name if there’s ever been one.

The key to it not being boring though is Benoit keeps fighting to try to get out of it. That’s keeping something going in there during the boring part of the match, which keeps the fans at least somewhat into it. They’re hanging on by a thread but it’s better than having to completely reset everything and start from scratch. It’s little things like that which keeps a match better than others.

All of a sudden Benoit just cranks it up and suplexes the heck out of Angle. The fans respond to it as this is a textbook example of a slow build. They started really slowly and built the intensity slowly and the crowd was with them every step of the way. They’ve got the crowd completely into this and that’s how it’s done. See what cardio can do for your match? Benoit gets the Crossface and everyone in view of the camera jumps to their feet and the flashbulbs go off. That’s how you do it.

In case you can’t tell, I’m loving this match. Angle gets the ropes so Benoit puts the ankle lock on him. Angle reverses into his own ankle lock and we go into an insane series of counters that Benoit gets the Crossface again from. You can tell they’re thinking every step of the way here and have a lot of this mapped out.

On the third Crossface attempt, which very oddly is on the right arm instead of the left (go back and find me ten instances in history of a guy working on the right arm. I doubt they exist.), Angle gets an Angle Slam out of nowhere for a long two. The fans are all over this. It’s not so much an excited thing but rather in awe of what they’re seeing. Angle goes Olympic by pulling the straps down and the ankle lock goes on again.

Naturally it’s countered into a complicated technical move that Benoit hooks a rollup with. You can tell the fans are way into this as they pop huge for every cover or submission attempt. That’s a very good thing when they realize that it doesn’t take a finisher to end a match. Benoit throws another German so hard that Angle lands on his face. That’s impressive. Cole and Tazz try to figure out who has the momentum at various times. That’s saying a lot.

Benoit gets the headbutt from the top onto the back of Angle’s head which must hurt. Angle gets control again and sets for a powerbomb but falls backwards to send Benoit’s head into the top turnbuckle. Another Angle Slam gets two as the fans have no clue who to cheer for. Benoit gets his FIFTH Crossface of the match.

Again, the difference here: the fans are responding to this because the guys are clearly working their heads off out there while Steiner and HHH had no clue what they were doing. Angle somehow rolls over and grabs Benoit’s ankle. I have no idea what to call what he just did, but more or less he rolled backwards onto Benoit and got the arms free to grab the ankle. In case you can’t tell, THIS MATCH IS FREAKING AMAZING.

Benoit counters AGAIN and Angle just goes off. He grabs the ankle and cranks on it. Benoit tries to get out but Angle holds on and gets the leg lock. Benoit is in agony and finally tape, more out of frustration than pain though. That’s a nice little touch there as it makes Benoit look like he got caught rather than defeated. Angle is carried off by Haas and Benjamin.

Rating: A+. This was just flat out awesome stuff on about 1,000 different levels. Considering what happened before this match as in the Steiner HHH mess, this was that much better. This right here is proof that at the end of the day, two guys that are technically sound can go out there and just be awesome. You don’t need to weigh 275 and be able to bench press 500lbs to have a good match or be a star.

These two stole the freaking year out there. After a very random Anthology ad, (oddly enough on some versions it’s Anthology (which was a WWE music compilation of songs from over the years, meaning this was epic to old school fans) on some versions and Rebellion on some others. That’s incredibly peculiar) we go back to the arena where the fans give Benoit a standing ovation as he leaves.

And that means it’s time for a rant. This is a prime example of why HHH is such a hated man in the business. What do I mean by that? Well let’s take a look. HHH vs. Steiner got absolutely booed out of the building. I mean they were getting heat the likes of which you just don’t see anywhere else. Angle keeps the title and was destined to go on to Mania to face Brock.

It’s fairly clear right now that Benoit is ready to be a world champion. He’s got everything he needs and the fans are totally behind him. He wouldn’t get the belt for another 15 months. HHH would hold onto his title until SEPTEMBER when he dropped it to Goldberg. He got it back three months later and finally lost it to Benoit in a triple threat match at Mania 20.

Yes HHH tapped to him, but he made sure that Shawn was there too so that he could say he didn’t lose cleanly, even though he lost cleanly. He beat Booker in a throwaway match at Mania while Benoit was teaming with Rhyno of all people and losing a tag title match on the same show. He would go on to feud with the FBI and Cena before the US Title came back.

Yeah the IC and US Titles were retired for about a year in some stupid idea Vince had that there should be one champion per brand. I’ll stand by my theory that HHH was behind it because the midcard was great at the time and he wanted to make sure no one on Raw stole the show again. Anyway, Benoit somehow got even hotter around the fall and they FINALLY pushed him to the title at Mania.

However, what does HHH do after Benoit wins the title? He feuds with his old buddy Shawn Michaels, leading to a Hell in a Cell match which AGAIN overshadows Benoit’s title match. HHH gets the next PPV title shot and AGAIN there’s interference in the end. Benoit wins, but he still doesn’t pin HHH clean. The next PPV was Summerslam where Benoit lost the title and HHH won it a month later.

In other words, Benoit was kept from going up to the main event scene where he belonged in 2003 and then in 2004, HHH made sure the spotlight was at least partially on him and that Benoit, who was and always will be the better wrestler, was made to look like a second tier player, even though he was world champion. While Benoit was having matches with the FBI and Cena who he was making to look like a star, HHH was having matches with Goldberg, Steiner and Nash.

The fans hated him, but he kept the belt all summer long because there clearly was no other option. Yeah go ahead HHH defenders: tell me he had nothing to do with it. I want to see you try to defend him here.

RVD and Kane, still in his mask, say they’ll do whatever they need to in order to win.

Royal Rumble

The intervals are two minutes this year. Shawn is #1 and Jericho is #2, both of which we knew coming into this. Ross changes the intervals to 90 seconds. Well ok then. It amuses me that Jericho has changed everything about himself yet he keeps his music. Not sure why but that amuses me. Anyway, Christian does Jericho’s entrance as Jericho sneaks through the crowd and gets Shawn with a low blow.

Jericho beats on Shawn for awhile and then repeats it with a chair to bust Shawn open. Oh dang it’s a good one too. Christopher Nowitski, more commonly known as the Harvard guy, is 3rd. He could have been a decent midcard heel if he hadn’t gotten hurt. It’s still good to have a Harvard grad on your payroll though. Jericho puts Shawn out with relative ease after he was beaten on so badly. Mysterio, who was just past being a rookie at this point, is 4th.

His knees weren’t a mess at this point so he’s still the best high flying wrestler of all time. For some reason Ross and Lawler are calling the whole match. That’s yet another way of saying to Smackdown that you’re the second show and that’s all there is to it. Chris is just now getting in the ring as Edge gets a great pop as a face at number 5.

Edge was on the verge of busting through the glass ceiling and becoming a main event star but a neck injury would put him out less than a month later and he would be out for about 14 months. He and Rey have a kind of non match as they don’t really do much to each other. The heels are both on the floor but not out. Christian is 6th with his absolutely awesome entrance.

He hugs Edge who looks at him like he’s crazy. Yeah he gets speared. Nowitski thinks he puts out both Edge and Rey but they go up for a double dropkick. Rey’s hits, but Edge’s misses and his leg lands right on Chris’ face and it looks awful. The referee has to check to make sure he can continue if that tells you anything. Rey hits the dumbest move of all time with the Bronco Buster before Chavo is 7th. That MIGHT have been a minute.

He and Rey do an awesome sequence to set up a 619. Christian takes one also. A hurricanrana puts Nowitski out and then Jericho puts Rey out. We have Jericho, Edge, Chavo and Christian in there now and they’re joined by Tajiri. In other words the most only American wrestler in there is a guy that is billed as the Mexican Warrior. Tajiri puts one of the sickest looking submissions I’ve ever seen on Chavo as he’s more or less using a rack but instead of over his neck it’s over his back. It looked great.

Bill DeMott, more commonly known as Hugh Morrus, is 9th. He was a Tough Enough trainer not long before this and apparently he’s gone insane because of it. I guess that makes sense in some wrestling logic. Tenth is Dreamer as we’re needing someone to get rid of some of these jobbers.

Dreamer of course brings in weapons. He and Edge beat the living tar out of DeMott and knock out him. Jericho and Christian get together with trash can lids and put Dreamer out. We’re back to Christian, Jericho, Edge, Chavo and Tajiri. That’s a bit better I guess.

Tajiri does the stupidest thing I can think of and goes for a Tarantula on Jericho. Naturally he’s out and replaced by B2, more commonly known as Bull Buchanan. He and Cena broke up apparently so he’s just out there being himself now. Yeah he’s already out thanks to Edge. There goes Chavo via a spear by Edge to leave us with three Canadians. Make that one Canadian as Jericho skins the cat and gets back in to put out Edge and Christian at the same time.

That’s pretty impressive. Jericho is on his own now until RVD comes out to a huge ovation at 11th. Yeah we have Shawn, Jericho, Edge, Christian, RVD, Tajiri and others but there’s zero point to having an IC or US Title. Starting to see why this is considered one of the darkest ages in wrestling history? After about a minute Matt Hardy is 12th.

Tonight’s Mattitude facts are that Matt strongly dislikes mustard and apparently that’s all we get tonight. Yeah there’s ZERO point for a midcard title on either brand. I know I can’t see anyone in here that would benefit from having one. Van Dam is just fun to watch. Jericho takes the Five Star as after maybe a minute 15 Eddie is in at 13. He has almost no hair here yet amazingly would be world champion in 13 months.

Eddie hits a frog splash on RVD but he messes up and it lands on Rob’s face for the most part. That looked painful. Matt is the only person up as he jumps Eddie, and Jeff is in at 15. He offers a truce and Jeff goes after him. Dang I made another error in my counting. It’s fixed now but I keep screwing up the count. That’s uncharacteristic for me. Everyone else has been down for a LONG time, although to be fair they all took finishers.

Jeff almost puts Matt out but Shannon Moore lays on his back and puts his feet up to keep Matt in. He then gets in and lays on Matt to protect him from a Swanton, which in reality would hurt more I’d think. Rosey of 3 Minute Warning along with Rico is 16th. After MAYBE 45 seconds, Test is in at 17. Stacy is with him as we’re in the Testicles thing which was funny for about two minutes. Test beats up just about everyone as he was a monster at this point.

He lost that as Stacy denied him sex so he started carrying a Playboy with him. I wish I was making that up. John, the Doctor of Thuganomics, Cena is 18th. He wears an old school Astros jersey while rapping his way to the ring. He’s entertaining if nothing else, but the people that say he should go back to that are just idiots. Ross says two things of interest: word to your mother, and Cena is a future main event player.

His rap takes up the entire about 60 seconds before Charlie Haas is in at 19. There are WAY too many people in there right now. I’m counting 9 at the moment and I’m not going to bother listing them. Oh the heck with is: Haas, Rosey, Jericho, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy (I think they’re cousins or something), Van Dam, Eddie, Test and Cena. Jeff goes out to finally lighten things up a bit. Rikishi is in at 20, and apparently he’s been in more than anyone else in history.

I know at least Kane has broken that record since. He almost gives Matt and Shannon a double stinkface but thankfully it doesn’t happen. Jamal, more commonly known as Umaga, is 21st. This is being written the day after he passed away so this is deflating to say the least. Sadly enough, the first thing that happened to him is a stink face. I hate that move so much. It pisses him off if nothing else and he hammers away on Rikishi.

Kane, whose pyro will give you a freaking heart attack, is 22nd. He cleans house and chokeslams Rico, who isn’t even in the match. There goes Rosey. Shelton Benjamin who reminds me of Gunn from Angel for some reason is 23rd. The ring is WAY too full. Oh yeah: Cena is wearing long pants. It just looks completely wrong. Booker is 24th. He was on the biggest roll of his career at this point and he would wind up getting the Raw title shot at Mania.

Naturally since he was having great matches and getting huge pops, he was fed to HHH in a throwaway match. There goes Eddie thanks to HHH’s lunch. A-Train is 25th. He just destroys everyone in there. Rikishi of course gets to take him down. WHAT IS SO FREAKING  SPECIAL ABOUT RIKISHI???

He’s always around and was always considered a big deal but he SUCKED. He danced and wore a thong, end of appeal to him. Shawn comes in and beats up Jericho so Test can throw him out. Well ok then. Shawn is completely wasted in the Rumble but whatever. If nothing else it set up a great match at Mania.

Maven is 26th. He actually looks like a pro now which is a plus from last year. There are about 9-10 people in there so again someone needs to come clear them out. Goldust is 27th and no one cares. He hits Shattered Dreams on Maven, which when you actually look at it is a kick to the turnbuckle but whatever. The World’s Greatest Tag Team combine to put him out.

They do the same to Booker, which is appropriate as the two of them were tag partners a few weeks before. Batista, who was something close to what Kozlov or Jackson is now is 28th. Test puts him down of all people. That’s just odd indeed. Batista puts him out though so there we go. He then puts out Rikishi so I’m happier now. Lesnar is in at 29 to a solid pop. He puts Haas and Benjamin out at the same time.

Thank goodness now we’re getting rid of some people. Matt gets an F5 to the floor. A-Train gets a SICK bicycle kick to Batista to take him down. Taker is number 30 to a huge pop. Ok so the final group is Van Dam, Cena, Jamal, Kan, A-Train, Maven, Batista, Lesnar and Taker. That’s not bad as I’ve seen worse groupings. There’s no clear cut winner but it’s pretty clear when you really look at it I think. He’s returning after Show hurt him for about the 12th time mind you.

This is still the American also. There goes Cena which is likely going to be the featured match at Mania this year. Ok so right now it’s next year but when you read this it’ll be this year. Jamal is gone which is a bad way of putting that. Maven hits a dropkick on Taker and celebrates by holding up two fingers. Taker just stands there behind him waiting. A chokeslam and Maven is out. That was hilarious to see.

A-Train hits a chokebomb to put Taker down. Why in the world did he never get a serious push? They built him as a big time monster but nothing ever happened with him. He got the IC Title I believe before this, but it’s completely forgotten in the long run. After A-Train dominates even more, Van Dam and Kane who were a team at the time get together and put him out.

In a great spot, Kane says he’ll throw Van Dam onto Batista, Kane picks Van Dam up and casually throws him out. That was great. The final four are Taker, Kane, Batista and Lesnar, meaning we’re going to need a mop to clean up the muscle induced orgasm that Vince had in the back. Batista and Taker go at it while Kane and Lesnar fight. So the lightest guy in there is Lesnar at 295 right? Kane takes a solid F5 and we get the showdown of Taker and Lesnar.

Taker puts him down with a decent boot. Taker wearing white socks is just amusing. He follows it up with a tombstone to Lesnar as Batista goes out next. Taker and Kane team up for all of 8 seconds as Taker dumps Kane to get us down to two. Batista comes back in with a chair but takes it in the face.

I wish more women would do that. Anyway, Lesnar sneaks up on Taker to dump him out to set up Angle vs. Lesnar at Mania 19. Taker gets back in and implies that he wants a shot if Brock gets the title back. Brock got it back and Taker eventually did get a shot, months later.

Rating: B. I’ve seen better but I’ve seen far worse. The main issue was how many people got into the ring at once. The ending was quite good as Taker and Lesnar were both legit possibilities and Kane was far from a long shot. There was a nice balance of big names and no chance guys out there too which is hard to find at times. If there was a rating between B and B+ that’s what this would get. It was fine, but it could have been a bit better. Either way, this was entertaining.

Overall Rating: B-. This was a pretty good show. It’s not great but it was certainly solid. They got the matches in the right order to say the least. Angle and Benoit made me forget the debacle of the Raw title match and then a good Rumble sent the fans home happy. It’s not a classic, but it’s certainly worth checking out I’d say, especially Angle vs. Benoit. It’s a clinic on how to work a technical match. I’ll say it’s recommended, but you’ll want a remote to fast forward over some stuff.

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