Back with another Stinker review, which will become a monthly feature going forwards, usually on the last Saturday of every month.
For those who haven’t read one of these before, the premise is that I review a show that has a reputation for being bad and then try to answer the question of whether it truly deserves its stinky reputation or not.
Recently we had a list of potential shows and I pulled a couple out of a hat to decide what I’ll be reviewing in January and March. This show (Requested by Bones) came out for January and Bash at the Beach 1999 (Requested by Sean Mooney) came out for March. All the other requested shows remain in the hat and I’ll be doing another draw in about a month or so, so if you want to request a stinky show for review then please stick it in the comments section. I’ve got one that I chose myself for February which you’ll hopefully enjoy.
Judgment Day 2003 came about during what was a pretty sucky period for WWE. Coming out of WrestleMania XIX, Kurt Angle was injured, Rock was off back to Hollywood and Stone Cold Steve Austin had been forced to retire, meaning we were stuck with Triple H on top of the Raw brand with a lack of credible challengers (Due to him killing Rob Van Dam, Kane and Booker T’s pushes since winning his vanity belt in the autumn of 2002). Thus they did what usually happens in wrestling when a top guy doesn’t really have anyone left to work with, which was bringing one of his mates for him to work with instead. This led to Kevin Nash coming in and getting an instant push to the top of the card, leading to some thrilling angles and bouts.
Meanwhile, over on Smackdown the much loved “Smackdown Six” Era of the show had ended in February when Paul Heyman was removed as head writer, leading to a pretty notable drop in quality for the show. Once built around great matches on top and interesting characters in the mid-card such as Matt Hardy Version 1.0 and Jamie “By God” Noble, Smackdown became a showcase for Vince McMahon and his never-ending feud with Hulk Hogan. Freshly turned babyface Champion Brock Lesnar was relegated to the background whilst Vince feuded with Hogan and his new best buddy Zach Gowen.
The product was really starting to feel like the lame-duck Kevin Sullivan booked era of WCW in early 2000, even down to the likes of Roddy Piper, Scott Steiner and Goldberg coming in long after they actually could have done any good during the Invasion storyline of 2001. The fact that Judgment Day was primarily promoted around a Bikini contest between Sable and Torrie Wilson showed just how little direction WWE had when it had to bank on pushing T&A to have any hope of popping a buy rate, even with an embarrassment of riches when it came to wrestling talent (Something we’ll see as the show progresses).
Just to give you an idea of the general online reaction to this show, Scott Keith decided to bust out the Hot Poker Up The Ass system for it, which is usually a good barometer that a show is pretty stinky.
However, let’s give the show a fair shake of the stick. Who knows, maybe time will have been kind to it?
The event is emanating from Charlotte, North Carolina on the 18th of May 2003
Calling the action are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler for Raw whilst Michael Cole and The Tazz handle things for Smackdown
Stone Cold Steve Austin joins us to start. He had recently taken on a non-wrestling role as the co-General Manager of Raw with Eric Bischoff. He gets a really good pop and cuts a quick promo where he says he’ll be watching the show in an executive box, which he seems to think constitutes watching the show alongside the fans.
John Cena, Chuck Palumbo and Johnny The Bull w/ Nunzio Vs Chris Benoit, Rhino and Spanky
Cena was still in the earlyish stages of his rap gimmick here and was coming off a mini-feud with Brock Lesnar that saw them have a pretty middling match at Backlash where Brock won. He’d been rapping since the autumn but was becoming more hard edged during this period from the initial comedy the gimmick had been. Palumbo, Johnny and Nunzio were a new version of the Full Blooded Italian faction, except rather than having non-Italian guys in it to play it for comedy; they were presented as actual Italians with tough backgrounds.
Benoit and Rhino had been a babyface team in the mid-card and had actually challenged unsuccessfully for the tag belts at WrestleMania XIX. Spanky had come over from ROH and had done a gimmick where he couldn’t get a contract and had instead shown up under a mask as the mascot for the local team of whatever City they happened to be in that week. Eventually Stephanie McMahon had agreed to allow him to sign a proper Smackdown deal and he was a regular roster member by this stage. He’d shown up Cena in a Rap Battle to set up a quick feud between the two.
I do love this version of The FBI theme actually, although they’d soon move on to the “No Sleep Till Brooklyn” knock off they had for most of the run. Our Lady Peace is edited out for whatever reason, which I don’t think happens that often on WWE Network. The action in this one is fine but the match itself is over way too quickly, with it clocking in at just under four minutes, which is an absolute waste of Benoit and Cena especially.
The match is mostly the heels working over Spanky in their corner, which he sells really well, before Benoit gets a hot tag and runs wild. Benoit is super over in Horsemen Country of course, and his comeback gets a good reaction. Spanky gets a blind tag when things break down though and The FBI gets him with a version of a Sidewinder for the three count.
WINNERS: THE FBI & CENA
Match was fine for the brief time it lasted. It was just annoying that they gave them so little time. Rhino didn’t even legally tag in at any point in the match!
Spanky has a mean looking shiner following that and drools out of his mouth to suggest a possible concussion (That or he was smoking some REALLY good stuff at the time)
Stone Cold is enjoying a beer and a dog in his executive box, when Eric Bischoff crashes the party. He suggests that they should share the suite, seeing as they are co-GM’s. I’m not sure how that works exactly seeing as Stone Cold probably paid for the suite out of his own money and whatnot, but we’ll go with it. Bischoff seems disgusted at the idea of eating a hot dog, but Austin intimidates him into taking a bite. Bischoff of course wants a more complicated drink than just a beer, but Stone Cold informs him that beer is all they’ve got, so Eric reluctantly has one, although he has it out of a glass instead of the can of course. Austin is disgusted by that, but in the current pandemic climate it looks like a pretty smart move on old Sleazy E’s part.
The Carolina Panthers are in the crowd.
Scott Steiner and Test w/ Stacy Keibler Vs La Resistance (Rene Dupree and Sylvain Grenier)
La Resistance were booked as evil French guys because the American government was pissy at France for refusing to join the war in Iraq, and you don’t have to twist Vince’s arm too much in order to get him to go balls deep into a deeply xenophobic storyline. Stacy was with Test in real life at the time, so they made her his on-screen manager as well. In storyline she was the one trying to get Steiner and Test to work together, even though Test wasn’t into it.
Rene and Sylvain were greener than turtle excrement here and were not even remotely ready for this kind of push, but at least they were a pair of fresh faces I guess. Steiner had notably had a go at France during a debate segment on Raw (Where he famously declared that he once wrestled the entire country of Portugal) which gave a loose reason for why the Frenchie’s were going after him. La Resistance are basically just doing a Fabulous Rougeau’s tribute act here, even down to Rene slapping Test and doing the Jacque taunt. Hey, if you’re going to crib notes then at least do it from a good team I guess.
Test and Steiner work a basic babyface shine to start, and it’s okay for what it is. The problem with having such a jacked team as the babyface’s is that one of them eventually has to take the heat, which is patently ridiculous when they’re fighting two wimpy French lads. Steiner ends up being the one to take the heat, which is a role he was thoroughly unsuited to at this stage in his career, but he does alright for the most part and eventually manages to catch Rene with a suplex before making the tag.
Test actually does a pretty good hot tag segment all told, showing some good fire. Despite being green, Rene and Sylvain are mostly in the right place for everything and the crowd responds. Things of course break down and that leads us to our finish, where Test has it won but the ref is too busy jawing with Steiner to notice. Stacy gets knocked off the apron accidentally by Test but Steiner rescues her. Test continues to be clumsy by catching Steiner with a big boot and that allows La Resistance to catch Steiner with a double flapjack for the three count.
WINNERS: LA RESISTANCE
Not an especially good match, but it followed the tag formula and they kept it simple enough that the rookies didn’t blow anything too important. It gave the new team a clean win and also kept the Test/Steiner/Stacy love triangle ticking over, so it achieved its purpose overall
Stacy is worried about Steiner’s health following that, which of course angers Test. This would lead to Test and Steiner having a match for Stacy’s contract where Steiner would win, but not before missing a clothesline off the apron in one of the funniest botches I’ve ever seen.
Mr. America arrives at the building, where he is confronted by ace reporter Gregory Helms, who says that his sources have told him that America is actually Hulk Hogan. America counters that his sources have told him that Helms is actually The Hurricane. Eventually they both agree that their respective sources were idiots and both men go on their way. That was actually a cute segment, I liked it.
Eddie Guerrero is in the locker room with Josh Matthews. Eddie was supposed to have been tagging with his nephew Chavo in a ladder match tonight, but Chavo is sadly injured and won’t be able to compete. Eddie reveals that he has found himself a replacement partner in the form of Tajiri.
Ladder Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles
Champs: Team Angle (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin) Vs Eddie Guerrero and Tajiri
Team Angle and Los Guerrero’s had been having a really fun feud together where the challengers had stolen a portrait of Kurt Angle to really get The Champs good and angry. Eddie and Tajiri work pretty well for a makeshift team and Team Angle were pretty sharp by this stage after a few months of teaming, so this one has some good work in it for the most part. There are some moments of sloppiness in the early sections where things go a bit awry, but once the ladders get involved we get the usual tag ladder spots, such as the challengers dropkicking the ladder right into Haas’ gold medals.
This is kind of a strange match to put two ostensibly technically minded guys like Haas and Benjamin in, but Shelton ended up taking part in some great Money in the Bank matches, so I guess he adapted quickly. Both teams take it in turns to trade the momentum, and eventually build up to bigger spots. In a really cool one, Haas holds Tajiri on a ladder and Benjamin comes off the ladder with a seated senton, which gets the expected big reaction from the crowd. That was the spot of the match, easy.
The crowd reactions could be better in general to be honest, although they do react to the bigger high spots, but I guess we were only a couple of years removed from the Attitude Era at this stage, where stunt show matches were done so often that it eventually desensitised the fans so that you needed to do much more to get them excited in situations like this. They do get behind Eddie when it looks like he might win, and pop big when he Frogsplash’s Benjamin from the ladder.
Eddie and Haas do the big fight atop the ladder following that and Eddie gets Haas with a sunset flip powerbomb, in a spot that looked both good and safe, which is the combination you want. Of course with Tajiri being there the finish writes itself, as he green mists Benjamin when the latter is trying to stop Eddie from winning and that allows Eddie to successfully bring the belts down to crown new Champions.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: EDDIE & TAJIRI
This was sloppy in parts, but it was still a fun ladder outing and the crowd enjoyed the finish because they liked Eddie and thought seeing new Champion’s being crowned was cool. It would have been nice if it could have had some more consistent heat, but the four guys were working hard and did the best they could in the situation
Stone Cold and Bischoff are putting over the match we just saw and Bischoff tucks into a burger. Interestingly he seems to be getting more into things the drunker he gets. Hey, we’ve all rolled out the boozer and eaten some questionable food haven’t we? I mean, I don’t have a clue what’s actually in a doner kebab, but after a few pints on a Saturday night I’ll happily shovel one down my gullet! Bischoff is now drinking out of the can as well, but he sips it in too girly a way for Stone Cold’s liking, so he takes him to task over it. Oi, there’s nowt wrong with nursing a pint, you save money that way!
Chris Jericho is with Terri Runnels. He will be competing in a battle royal for the Intercontinental Title later on. This leads to Roddy Piper coming in to interrupt, as Jericho had recently started doing his own chat show on Raw called The Highlight Reel, which of course annoyed Piper seeing as he was doing Piper’s Pit over on Smackdown. Personally I don’t think either of them can hold a candle to Graham Norton, but I digress. Anyway, Jericho and Piper have a bit of an argument and its hit and miss. Jericho does get a good jab in at the expense of Piper’s rather hefty gut though. Eventually they find some common ground by agreeing that they’ll win their respective matches tonight. Terri was an absolutely terrible interviewer by the way, with super wooden dialogue.
Battle Royal to Crown a new Intercontinental Champion
Val Venis Vs Christian Vs Kane Vs Rob Van Dam Vs Chris Jericho Vs Test Vs Lance Storm Vs Goldust Vs Booker T
They play a very nice video prior to this showing former IC Champions and they are surprisingly non-petty when it comes to including people. They even show Ultimate Warrior, who was majorly on the outs at the time and would remain so up until he went into the Hall of Fame. The reason the belt was vacated was that they decided to get rid of all the secondary belts for some reason in 2002, and subsequently killed off the IC, European and Hardcore Titles in quick succession. However, they then realised that this left kind of a black hole in the middle of the card, so they decided to bring back the IC Title for Raw and the United States Title for Smackdown.
The gimmick here is that, with the exception of Booker who was invited into the match by Stone Cold, everyone in this match is a former IC Champion. Pat Patterson gets to join us, as he will be presenting the belt to the winner. Pat of course was the first officially recognised IC Champion, although the story of him winning the belt in a tournament in Brazil is sadly bunkum. Venis had been working under his real name for a while prior to this as Bischoff’s sidekick, but he got fired, so he’s back to being a porn star again. I do like how his music is basically a remix of Rick Martel’s “Model” entrance theme.
Breaking Point is sadly dubbed out here on the Network for RVD, but Kane gets to keep his Slow Chemical song and Booker T gets to keep his WCW theme instead of the one they would occasionally dub in for him during this period, notably on some of the video games. RVD and Kane were the Raw Tag Champs at the time, but that doesn’t stop RVD attacking him right from the off. Everyone tries to chuck Kane out right away, but he fights them off and vaults out Storm.
Lance Storm Eliminated by Kane (1)
Everyone has another crack at Kane following that though and they manage to get him out this time.
Kane Eliminated by Test (1), Booker T (1), Goldust (1), Christian (1), Jericho (1), Val Venis (1)
Kane is a sore loser following that and comes in to attack everyone, including RVD even though he wasn’t actually involved in Kane’s elimination. Kane was the most over guy in the match, so the fans are bummed to see him go. We then get some quick fire eliminations, as Booker chucks Test, Goldust sends Venis to the showers and Jericho dropkicks out RVD.
Test Eliminated by Booker T (2)
Val Venis Eliminated by Goldust (2)
Rob Van Dam Eliminated by Jericho (2)
This entire show has been so rushed. Why did they book so many matches and talking segments? Such horrendous time management. The work is actually decent once it comes down to Jericho, Christian, Goldust and Booker, with the latter two teaming up against the former two. The heat isn’t really there for it, but everyone is working hard, Jericho especially. Goldust shatters the dreams of the two Canadians but then tries to dump Booker and gets thrown out for his troubles.
Goldust Eliminated by Booker T (3)
Booker and Goldust laugh about it though, so they remain friends. The fans now have a clear person to root for seeing as Booker has to take on two heels by himself, so the crowd heat improves a bit whilst the two heels work Booker over. Again, the work is actually fine here, which makes me think they should have just done a fatal four way and not bothered with the battle royal malarkey. Apparently Booker was only just coming back from a hospital stay for pneumonia prior to this show, which makes his performance pretty impressive. In a key moment, Jericho and Christian have things well in hand but Christian sees his chance and dumps out Jericho. The two had been aligned for a while prior to this, with Christian always as the subordinate, so him getting one over Jericho was a big deal and was supposed to signify that he was finally stepping out of the mid-card shadows. It didn’t quite work out that way, but they were trying at least.
Chris Jericho Eliminated by Christian (2)
That gets a pretty big surprise pop from the crowd actually, as I don’t think any of them thought Christian actually had that in him. That leaves us with Christian Vs Booker, and they do a nice segment together where Booker makes a comeback. I enjoy babyface Booker T’s work almost as much as I dislike his heel work. The referee at ringside ends up taking an accidental baseball slide from Christian, which means that when Booker throws him out there is no one to call it. They go to the trouble of playing Booker’s music, but Christian attacks Patterson before he can hand over the belt and then beats Booker down with it. Christian then waits for the referee to wake up and dumps Booker’s limp body out to win the match in a monumental screw job.
Booker T Eliminated by Christian (3)
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CHRISTIAN
MOST ELIMINATIONS: CHRISTIAN, BOOKER T (3)
Don’t get me wrong, the finish was ultra-lame, BUT it also served a purpose as the eventual pay off was Booker coming back to defeat Christian for the belt and get his revenge, so I’m willing to be more lenient. The match itself was just your standard rushed battle royal, but there was nothing actively wrong with it and it was mostly good fun when it came down to the final four guys
Christian would cut his hair and switch to tights from his singlet look following this, which did succeed in making him look like more of a star. The eventual match where Booker beat Christian for the belt on Raw was pretty great too. I don’t mind an undeserving Champ in the mid-card provided they don’t over-egg the pudding and switch it when the time is right, and they did that with this feud, so I’m cool with it.
Sable and Torrie Wilson have a chat backstage about the upcoming Bikini Contest. The dialogue delivery is up there with a pretty low level porn film.
Sable Vs Torrie Wilson
This was everyone’s favourite 00’s women’s feud trope in the form of Lesbian Pollen, where Sable came back to WWE and started flirting with Torrie. This is every Bikini Challenge you’ve ever seen, where both women show off their bikinis and the crowd has to cheer for the one they like the most. Sable actually seems to win owing to Torrie having a pretty modest number in comparison to hers, so Torrie reveals that she has a skimpier bikini under her normal one and Tazz just decides that she wins.
WINNER: TORRIE WILSON
This was a waste of pay per view time as they could have easily done this on an episode of Smackdown and left some more time for some of the criminally shorter bouts earlier in the card. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a prude and I understand that doing longer angles like this can be effective, but they’re best served for TV and not on a show you have to pay for
Torrie continues the Lesbian Pollen after the contest by laying a very limp kiss on her, which is all to set up Jerry Lawler doing the bug eye sell.
Bischoff is now pretty sozzled and Austin has him eat some jalapeno’s to take the edge off, which leads to Bischoff doing the big sell job that his mouth is on fire. In fairness to Eric, he wasn’t afraid to make himself look stupid during this WWE run.
Sean O’Haire and Roddy Piper are scheming backstage, which leads to Vince McMahon coming in to fire Piper up for the next match.
Roddy Piper w/ Sean O’Haire Vs Mr. America w/ Zach Gowen
Hulk Hogan laid a whupping on Vince McMahon at WrestleMania XIX, so Vince sent him home as punishment. However, a mysterious masked guy called Mr. America showed up not too soon after, and he just happened to sound and wrestle just like Hulk Hogan. Well, fancy that eh? Vince McMahon was of course convinced that this new wrestler was actually Hulk Hogan, and began a scheme to reveal his true identity so he could fire him. Thus Piper is here to beat America down enough so that Vince can walk out and unmask him,
Gowen made his debut on Smackdown as a Mr. America fan who Piper took umbrage with, which led to him attacking Zach and then accidentally ripping off his prosthetic leg. This was of course a terrible idea for a match as both Piper and America were physically well beyond their best by this stage. Of course these days WWE is always bringing back part-timers to work matches, but in 2003 we were only a few years removed from Jim Ross banging on about how WCW was the “senior tour” whilst the WWF was young, cool and hip, so having these two guys wrestling on a WWE pay per view show against each other was an anathema.
Sure, Hogan had come back for a bit in 2002, but he’d mostly worked with younger guys during that run and it had more of a “Wow, Hulk Hogan is working with the big stars of the day and pretty much holding his own” feel to it rather than the “Oh no, Hulk Hogan is back working with the broken down stars of yesteryear long after they have even the faintest prayer of having a good match” feel that this run did.
They do the usual face Hogan Vs heel Piper match, with Hogan shining on Piper and then getting cut off for a bit thanks to Piper’s bodyguard getting involved. It’s not an atrocious match or anything, but this stuff is just so out of place on an early 00’s wrestling show. Sadly it’s mostly down to Piper, as his stuff looks awful and he’s in frankly rotten shape. Hogan was actually still capable of having a fun match during this period, which he showed against Chono at the Tokyo Dome later on in 2003, but he has basically nothing to work with here and just does the usual.
The crowd is mostly into Hogan’s stuff to be fair, popping for all the trademark spots as he fights out of a sleeper hold to make a comeback. This is Vince’s cue to join us, which allows Piper to hit Mr. America right in his bald eagle whilst Vince takes the ref. O’Haire tries to clock Piper with a metal pipe, but Hogan dodges and drops the leg to win whilst Gowen stops Vince from breaking it up.
WINNER: MR. AMERICA
This match kind of has a reputation for being an absolute disaster, but in my eyes it was just a below average Hogan match with a guy who couldn’t keep up. The crowd reacted how they were supposed to and I didn’t hate it. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t even close to approaching good, but for what it was it achieved what it needed to, so I’m happy to be lenient. Soz abar me lar
Vince tries to sell that he’s not too annoyed at Mr. America’s win, but he clearly is.
I think the payoff for this was supposed to be Vince Vs Mr. America in a Hair Vs Mask match, where America would win and Vince would get humiliated, but Hogan left in the summer and they just moved on to Vince Vs Gowen as a feud instead. This storyline did have one funny angle in it though, where they hooked Vince up to a lie-detector machine and he did his usual great wacky sell job when the machine outed him as a filthy old man.
Stephanie McMahon approaches Triple H backstage and asks him to be careful against big scary Kevin Nash. They weren’t together in storyline here, but I guess they wanted to show that Triple H was in such trouble that even his ex-wife was worried he might get battered.
Raw World Title
Champ: Triple H w/ Ric Flair Vs Kevin Nash w/ Shawn Michaels
The story here was that Nash was a mutual friend of both Triple H and Michaels and wanted them to stop feuding. Both of them are awful friends though and refused to reconcile, forcing Nash to choose between them. Nash dithered though, so Triple H made the decision for him and kicked him right in the Diesel Power. Strangely they then had Triple H pin Nash in a six man tag at Backlash, when Nash pinning him to earn himself a Title shot would have made the most sense. Nash got awarded his shot anyway after a long rubbish brawl with Triple H on Raw, thus leading us here.
Flair and Michaels are both more over than the men they are managing, so they both get their own entrances (complete with music) and then brawl to the back so as not to take the spotlight away from the guys actually in the match. This serves only to deflate the crowd though, especially as we’re right in the middle of Flair Country and they were probably really excited to see him. It’s such a strange decision as well, as Flair and Shawn at ringside would have given the match a fun atmosphere.
Triple H seemed to spend large chunks of 2003 struggling with some kind of injury, mostly because his body was ludicrously swollen due to the fact he was carrying so much mass. It had a pretty negative effect on his work too, as he just wasn’t capable of getting about like he had in his 2000 prime. Thankfully he would slim down a bit when he came back from his torn quad in 2007, which led to his work improving significantly and he had an excellent in-ring year in 2008, having great matches with everyone from Jeff Hardy all the way down to Great Khali.
Speaking of not being fully healthy, Nash was struggling to even walk properly during this period, so the early babyface shine comes down to Nash lumbering around and having Triple H bounce off him. It’s actually not a terrible match, but it’s also nowhere close to being a pay per view calibre World Title bout. Triple H is trying to be the Ric Flair bumping World Champ pin balling around to get someone like Roadwarrior Hawk over as a viable challenger. The difference is that Flair was a million times more mobile than Triple H was here, as he trained to go whilst Triple H was training for show. Also, Hawk was super over and the crowd actually treated him like a top star, whilst Nash is decidedly not over anywhere close to that level.
The shine eventually comes to an end when the referee takes an errant clothesline, which allows Triple H to give Nash the field goal kick right to his Daddy Cool’s. Nash just keeps coming though, only to get rammed into an unprotected turnbuckle. Pedigree follows after that, and Nash actually gets to kick out from it, which isn’t something that happened a lot during this period. Just ask Booker T, who got humiliated at WrestleMania XIX after getting Pedigreed and then being forced to sell it for close to 30 seconds before getting pinned. Triple H decides to go for the sledgehammer after that seeing as he’s bereft of options, but the ref won’t let him use it, so Triple H hits him with the hammer and we have a lame DQ finish.
WINNER BY DQ: KEVIN NASH
Lousy match with an even lousier finish. All I can say for it was that it set up a Hell in a Cell match where we at least got a finish
Nash is a sore winner following that and powerbomb’s Triple H through a table.
We get the payoff to the Stone Cold and Bischoff segments, where Bishoff pukes due to having had too much food and booze. This would lead to the Redneck Triathlon at the next pay per view, which is widely regarded as one of the worst things from the whole of wrestling in 2003.
Champ: Jazz w/ Theodore R. Long Vs Victoria w/ Stevie Richards Vs Jacqueline Vs Trish Stratus
Jazz and Victoria are heels whilst Jacqui and Stratus are faces. Jazz beat Stratus for the belt at Backlash. Amazingly Jacqui was probably the worst of the four workers by this stage, even though she was likely the most experienced. She did okay for herself in her matches with Gail Kim in TNA later on, but she was pretty useless from here until she left the WWE, whilst Stratus continued to improve.
They’ve stuck these poor lasses in the death slot and have given them less than five minutes to work with, but they all put a real shift in and are clearly doing everything they can to have a good match, so it has good energy. There’s a good spot where Jazz has Stratus in a submission hold whilst Jacqui has Victoria in one too, which eventually leads to neither woman tapping out.
Stevie keeps trying to help Victoria out, being the perennial lackey. This was actually a pretty effective role for him and they were a fun heel tandem for the most part. Stratus gets to run wild at one stage and looks good in the process, but Victoria flings her out onto the floor in a vicious looking bump, which allows Jazz to catch Jacqui with a DDT for the win.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: JAZZ
That was fun for what we got and with an extra few minutes they probably could have done even better. Sadly though that would have eaten into precious Bikini Contest time, so we had to settle on them getting just five minutes instead.
Trish is bleeding from the mouth a bit following that, probably because she took one hefty face first bump onto the floor when Victoria slung her out of the ring.
Champ: Brock Lesnar Vs The Big Show
This one came about because Big Show threw Rey Mysterio into the ring post whilst he was on a stretcher, something that he actually got some real heat for backstage as he did it really recklessly and ended up hurting Rey for real. Brock vowed revenge for his little babyface buddy, and thus this match was on. As is usually the case with Big Show, the story for the match itself was basically “Big Show is really big, so how will the babyface find a way around that to carry out the match’s stipulation?”
They waste no time hitting each other with back boards and the like, and it’s a fun brawl actually. The stretcher match is one of those stipulations that suffers a bit like the Buried Alive one does, as fans know it’s never going to end when both men are going at it in the ring due to the fact that you have to drag someone cross a line or take them to a gravesite in order to win, so it becomes quite clear that anything else in ring is basically killing time.
However, both men are smart in that they spend a lot of time either fighting around ringside or in the aisle, with a stretcher never too far away, so it keeps a potential finish never too far away. In a clever spot, Brock chokes Big Show down with a camera cable but he makes the mistake of leaving the cable around Big Show’s neck, meaning that the stretcher can’t roll over the line. I liked that a lot, it was done well. The brawling in general has been good here, and they’ve given Brock a decent amount of offence so that it hasn’t just been Big Show slowly getting heat on him. It’s been more back and forth than that and it’s helped the match flow.
At one stage Brock knocks Big Show off the apron onto a waiting stretcher, but Big Show bounces off the stretcher and tumbles to the floor. I’m not sure if that was actually what was planned or it was just a happy accident, but it looked good. Brock actually leaves following that, to the confusion of the commentary team, which leads to Rey Mysterio coming out from under the ring to give Big Show some 6-1-9’s. Oh well, at least they gave him a little bit of revenge. Big Show of course clobbers Mysterio, but before he can finish him off, Brock returns in a forklift and dives off it onto Big Show in the ring for a massive pop.
That looked incredible and the crowd loved it. Brock follows up with a vertical suplex and an F-5, before putting a backboard onto the forklift and then rolling Big Show onto it before driving the forklift past the winning line to retain the Title. There was a bit too much time between the F-5 and getting Big Show onto the forklift and it cooled off the crowd pop a bit, but that’s the risk you take with a finish like that.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BROCK LESNAR
This was not only a lot of fun but they were also smart and didn’t keep them out there for too long. They did 15 minutes and most of that was the two of them having a good brawl before they popped the crowd big with the forklift antics. Seeing Brock do wacky Attitude Era styled antics didn’t really suit him, but as far as finishes go it was still a decent one and it did the job of getting him over with the crowd, so I can’t be too harsh on it.
Brock does the big celebration following that and looks like a big star. Sadly he STILL wasn’t done with Big Show yet though.
Is It Really A Stinker?
The ladder match and Main Event save it from being a full on Stinker, but it’s certainly on the stinky side owing to so much non-wrestling stuff eating up important chunks of wrestling time. The direction of the company at the time was just generally quite miserable, although things picked up a bit in the winter of 2003 leading into WrestleMania XX. This is an era of WWE that I generally prefer to forget, even though there were a handful of very good shows from this period.
Judgment Day 2003 however was certainly not one of them. If you want a good show from this period of WWE then I suggest Vengeance 2003.
Final Rating – Stinky