Monday Night Raw – May 26, 2003: Another One On The Pile

Monday Night Raw
Date: May 26, 2003
Location: Mobile Civic Center, Mobile, Alabama
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Last week’s big announcement was what might only be the second worst disaster of a HHH pay per view rematch (Kevin Nash should send Scott Steiner a raw meat basket) this year will be held inside the Cell. Other than that, Steve Austin likes to torture Eric Bischoff and Chris Jericho wanted to murder Goldberg for whatever reason. Let’s get to it.

We open with a long recap of last week’s big angle, featuring Ric Flair giving it one last shot against HHH (who of course retained the title). It was a great moment with a good match that had the fans buying into the story. Then HHH just beat him and moved back to fighting Kevin Nash. It almost hurt to type that out.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Shawn Michaels, who JR calls the best of all time, to introduce Ric Flair, who JR also calls the best of all time. For eighteen years, Shawn has wanted to say something to Flair: he’s every reason that Shawn wanted to be a wrestler. Flair is the reason that Shawn had to be great and one day he wanted to be what Flair was on a nightly basis. After last week, Shawn knows that Flair always will be the best in the world. However, there’s a part of Shawn that has to know where he stands so he wants to face Flair one time.

Flair is touched and agrees to the match but here’s HHH to cut him off. A few months ago, HHH set out to make Flair into his old self again and that’s exactly what he did. Last week Flair pushed HHH to the limit but now he’s about to bite the hand that feeds him. Flair says he doesn’t want to be the guy who follows HHH around and puts the belt around his waist. That’s too far for HHH, who erupts on Flair, yelling about how he’s an old man whose window of opportunity is closing fast.

This brings out Eric Bischoff to say the match sounds great but it’s not happening in Mobile, Alabama. Instead, we’ll have Shawn vs. Ric at Bad Blood. As for tonight though, they can team up to face HHH in a handicap match. Hands are shaken and JR incorrectly says this is the first time Ric and Shawn have teamed together. He also mistakenly says that HHH and Flair met for the first time last week, rather than the night when HHH was handed the World Title back in September.

Booker T. vs. Test

Stacy Keibler has given up on the idea of Test and Scott Steiner teaming together. You know, because the tag….eh never mind as they weren’t valuable in the first place so them being done doesn’t make things any worse. Booker reverses a whip and gets two off a clothesline. A hard left handed clothesline drops Booker and we hit a chinlock. An ax kick misses so Booker goes with the spinning kick to the face instead.

There’s the Spinarooni and Booker hits a missile dropkick before backdropping Test out to the floor. A baseball slide hits Stacy though (that’s far too common of a trope) thanks to Test pulling her in the way. Back in and the pumphandle slam gets two but here’s Steiner to check on Stacy. The ax kick ends Test without much effort.

Rating: D. What is there to say about something like this? It was mainly about Stacy instead of the match itself, which is probably the better idea. Booker is in the middle of chasing the title so it’s a good idea to see him win here, though Test isn’t exactly getting anywhere by losing like this, especially in a clean fall.

Steve Austin, with a black eye, thinks Booker is starting to come around when HHH comes in. HHH asks about the eye, which Austin says is the result of singing in the shower and slipping on some soap. The sucking up begins with HHH complimenting everything he can think of about Austin, only to be told that the match is still on. And now, HHH says Austin always wanted to be like him. He’ll win anyway, but who will bring him back to reality?

Val Venis vs. Steven Richards

This is an excuse to have Victoria in Steven’s corner and Trish Stratus on commentary. Venis is starting his own adult film company and offers Victoria a contract. Richards jumps him from behind to start and kicks Venis down into an early chinlock. Back up and Val scores with a clothesline, only to get planted with a DDT. Not that it matters as Val hits a spinebuster and the Money Shot for the pin. Actually a pretty nice match while it lasted.

Quick look at some soldiers in the house on Memorial Day.

Kevin Nash laughs off the idea of HHH’s troubles because he’s taking the title inside the Cell.

Christian doesn’t like this town because it’s named after a gas station. Goldust comes up to stutter something like a challenge but Booker comes up and says he’s winning the title soon enough.

Austin and Bischoff both think they should be credited as presenting Bad Blood. After Austin mentions that any active military personnel can get into the show for free (nothing wrong with that), they agree to compete in some way at the pay per view. More bickering ensues until Austin leaves to hear Lillian Garcia sing America the Beautiful.

Lillian starts singing and of course here is La Resistance. The French guys rip on American patriotism until Austin comes out to Stun them both. Austin talks about how awesome the military is and how they provide him the freedom to drink all the beer he wants. He and Lillian finish the song before beer is consumed. I know Vince LOVES the American stuff but sweet goodness do they really need to beat up a new tag team for the sake of a one off segment?

Flair is warming up but a masked man is watching him.

Christian vs. Goldust

Non-title. Christian hammers away in the corner but gets bulldogged for his efforts. A missed crossbody sends Goldust falling out to the floor though and Christian chokes away on the ropes. We hit the chinlock for a bit until Goldust fights up. An elbow to the jaw gets two on the champ but the Curtain Call is countered into a reverse DDT for the same. More right hands in the corner rock Christian but the referee blocks Shattered Dreams. Not that it matters as Goldust scores with a powerslam for the pin.

Rating: D. I’m sure this was completely necessary and helpful towards building up the Intercontinental Title match on Sunday. Booker T. beat Christian in a battle royal but got screwed out of the title. Now Goldust pins the champ clean, but I doubt he’s being added to the title match. Maybe he’ll get a shot next week, but why did this need to take place after the champ already has a challenger?

Teddy Long and Rodney Mack are in the ring for the FIVE MINUTE WHITE BOY CHALLENGE!

Rodney Mack vs. Bubba Ray Dudley

Bubba chops away in the corner but gets punched in the face for his efforts. We’re already in the chinlock as JR wishes Freddie Blassie a speedy recovery. Mack clotheslines him down but gets caught in a release German suplex for two. A neckbreaker and the Bubba Bomb get the same but Teddy gets on the apron for a distraction. Cue Christopher Nowinski to knock Bubba cold with the protective mask (which he was carrying, though you would think he could have brought something a bit harder) and Mack grabs the choke for the win.

La Resistance is annoyed at being attacked so Bischoff makes Sylvan Grenier vs. Rob Van Dam in a flag match tonight. If Grenier wins, they get a title shot at the pay per view. They really didn’t have a better way to set this up than Austin beating them up?

We recap Austin interrogating Lance Storm until he found out that Chris Jericho was behind attempting to run Goldberg down.

HHH accuses Flair of changing so Flair goes into a Flair style rant, saying he’s still the man.

Rob Van Dam vs. Sylvan Grenier

Flag match, meaning you have to pull your own flag down to win. A technical sequence sends both of them towards the wrong flag so let’s try that again. Rob kicks him to the floor but instead of going for his flag, he hits the spinning leg to the back. Maybe France is smarter than America. Back in and Rob scores with some shoulders to the back in the corner as I keep noticing the MOBILE, ALABAMA sign that a fan holds up. It’s been there all night and I wonder if that’s really the best he could come up with. There’s no joke or anything as it’s just the name of the town he’s in.

Anyway, Grenier’s attempt to get to the flag is broken up but Rene Dupree gets in a cheap shot to drop Rob. Back up and Rob’s top rope flip dive hits the referee by mistake because, in fact, they’re going to do a Dusty Finish in a FLAG match. Rob gets the flag but isn’t seen, allowing Dupree to knock the flag out of his hands. Kane comes in and clean house but takes a flag pole shot to the face. Dupree gets the flag and Grenier wins.

Rating: D-. This match made my head hurt and felt like a half-Vince Russo idea. La Resistance getting the title shot is fine and having them win in a flag match on Memorial Day is fine but they couldn’t have backed their way into the match any worse. If you have to have them win this way, don’t have Austin beat them up. It’s not like they’re an established team but who needs to build them up when they can just be handed the titles to get them over in a hurry?

It’s time for the Highlight Reel, whose set seems to be growing. This show is the hottest thing in wrestling and next week, Jericho will prove it when the Rock is his guest. That doesn’t get much of a reaction so Jericho talks about trying to run Goldberg over because no one wants him here.

Jericho took him under his wing in WCW but it just gave Goldberg a bigger ego. Then Jericho came here and became a big star with Goldberg being forgotten. A challenge is issued for Bad Blood so here’s Goldberg to talk some trash. That just earns him some pepper spray and a spear from Jericho. It’s a bigger deal than Christian but Goldberg really isn’t hitting his stride around here.

Jericho bailed during the break while Terri babbled on like the annoying interviewer she is.

HHH vs. Shawn Michaels/Ric Flair

HHH jumps Shawn from behind to start but a clothesline puts the champ down. A middle rope crossbody allows Shawn to hammer away and you can almost see the Flair heel turn (Is it really a turn?) coming from here. The Pedigree is broken up with a backdrop and Sweet Chin Music connects less than two minutes in. The hot tag brings in Flair and he wastes no time in punching Michaels down. We cut to the back where the masked man chairs Nash and it’s a Pedigree to end Michaels.

Rating: D. Well that happened. HHH gets to look brilliant and the Flair turn, which seemed to be rapidly gaining traction, is nothing more than a HHH ploy to gain momentum as we head towards HHH vs. Kevin Nash. This was an angle instead of a match, which is another non-surprise to go with Flair being in league with HHH all along.

The masked man and Nash come in with the former beating the latter down. The mask comes off and it’s Randy Orton helping with the beatdown to end the show. Uhhh….what was the point of the mask if he’s introduced and revealed in less than an hour?

Overall Rating: D-. There’s a reason 2003 is considered such a dark time for the company. The storytelling here was more lazy than anything else, yet it still felt like a bunch of stories that were rushed. In the main event story, we had a heel turn, a masked man introduced and revealed and a match taking place in one night. Throw in stuff like Christian losing clean and Austin beating up La Resistance and this was another bad show in a way too long series of them.

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