This show is looked at as one of the best Wrestlemanias of all time by a lot of people. I’ll be honest…its pretty loaded, but it also has some absolute trainwreck moments. It’s almost like a tale of two shows. The front half is awkward and forced. I got the feeling that so much thought was put in to the high profile matches, they ran out of time and just threw the front half together on the way to the building.
We open the card with a pajama party. Rey Mysterio (one of my all time favorites) and Matt Hardy vWHOGIVESAFUCK picked out their best pajama pants for this classic. Mysterio is wearing a weird half mask and Matt Hardy knows he has the physique of a fat 15 year so he’s wearing bell bottoms and a cutoff. Shannon Moore accompanies Matt to the ring, reminding me that Shannon Moore ever existed. It’s not a horrible match I suppose. Hardy is the (fattest) cruiseweight champion of all time so I guess that’s the story they were telling. Rey does his high spots. Matt hits the Twist of Fate and Mysterio kicks out. After interference multiple times, Hardy gets the win with a rollup by holding the ropes.
Next we get what every wrestling show needs….A LIVE LIMP BIZKIT PERFORMANCE. This is mind blowing…Fred Durst is walking around giving people the finger. They have a weird 12 year old dancing onstage. They eventually wander into the Undertakers theme and he comes out on the bike. They was during his American Badass gimmick which I never really got. He’s going to be taking on Big Show and A-Train bka Albert or Matt Bloom. The story was Taker was supposed to be teaming with Nathan Jones, but Show and Albert jumped Jones before the show started. This has to be one of the worst matches Taker ever had a Mania. He gets all his shit in…Old School, Chokeslam, etc. I thought this either never should have happened, or at minimum went way too long. Eventually Nathan Jones comes back from the dead (or the bar) and gets involved helping Taker to get his 11th win at Mania. TERRIBLE.
Womens Title match up next. Trish vs Jazz vs Victoria. Victoria is the champ coming into this match. Trish is the Hall of Famer in this match but Jazz and Victoria were both far better and very underrated. Not a whole lot to say about this one. They fit a lot of stuff into a short amount of time for a title match, then again it was 2003 and the women didn’t have the platform they have now. I think any combination of these three would have made a great singles match with about 10 minutes. Trish had awful facial expressions throughout this match. Stevie Richards does a cool chair spot where he tries to hit Trish and hits the ropes then himself. Trish reverses a powerbomb and hits Victoria with a kick to win the title.
Triple Threat Tag match for the titles. Eddie and Chavo vs Benoit and Rhyno vs Haas and Benjamin. Tons of good workers in this match. Rhyno is the worst and hes pretty fucking good. Opens up with a bunch of quick tags and fast paced near falls. Haas and Benjamin have to save their titles multiple times during what turns into a Benoit Eddie singles match. It breaks down into an all out brawl as most triple threat tag matches do. Rhyno gores Chavo and Benjamin sneaks in to get the win for his team and retain the titles.
Here’s where the card starts to pick up. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels are blowing off a great rivalry. Lots of back and forth Jericho cant believe how good Michaels is. Michaels controls the first part of the match until Jericho reverses a flying body press. And then we get what we all came for…Michaels selling his ass off. The story of this match is Jericho thinks hes better than Shawn and wants to prove it on the main stage. Later in the match Jericho does the HBK nip up and poses for the crowd and behind his back Michaels does a nip up as well and takes control of the match. Jericho locks in the Lion Tamer and Michaels really has to battle to stay in it. Jericho starts mocking Michaels by doing the stomps to set up for sweet chin music hits the kick but Michaels kicks out. Michaels misses sweet chin music and Jericho counters into the Lion Tamer. He almost gets to the ropes and gets pulled away once before finally making it. Jericho is arguing with Charles Robinson with a weird haircut and walks right into an amazing sweet chin music. Kicks out at a close 2. Jericho goes for a back suplex and Michaels counters for a rollup for the 3 count. A really out of nowhere finish. Heartfelt moment at the end where Michaels offers a handshake and Jericho kicks him in the nuts and leaves him laying.
ANOTHER LIMP BIZKIT PERFORMANCE!!!! How great was this in 2003??? After that we got the fatal 4way pillow fight with Stacy Keibler and Torrie Wilson and the girls from the beer commercials. I honestly cant remember which beer and for good reason.
Next up we get the payoff to the angle where Triple H called Booker T boy and told him to dance for him. Triple H comes down with Ric Flair in his corner. Jacked as shit for no reason. Always skipped leg day apparently. Jim Ross and the King are really playing up Booker’s prison time at the beginning of the match. Booker in this era was still so agile and athletic, way better in ring than his later King Booker stuff although that was more of an entertaining character.
Lawler with a great one liner about Booker knowing he would never amount to anything when he was born on a pool table. Both guys were really in their prime here. God, Lawler was so good on commentary. Booker hits an awkward, yet impressive, one legged dropkick as Hunter came off the middle rope. Flair, as always, gets involved on the outside really setting up then knee Booker is going to sell buy dropping him knee first on the stairs. Ric is both good and bad as a manager. When he’s yelling instructions it makes sense because, HE’S THE GODDAMN NATURE BOY.
But at times it’s really noticeable that he’s trying to get himself over. Great ref bump by Slick Nick Patrick. Booker hits the scissors kick, but just can’t make the cover in time. Booker goes to the top rope and slugs Ric Flair as he tries to interfere. Triple H catches him on the top and goes for a superplex. Booker knocks him off and slugs Ric again. Follows up with a super stiff Harlem Hangover in which it looks like he crushes Hunter’s head. Only gets a two after Flair puts Hunter’s foot on the rope. Booker’s leg gives way and leads to a Pedigree, which leads to the most anticlimactic 3 count I’ve ever seen. Hunter keeps the title.
Now we get a match 10 years in the making, Vince vs Hulk. The storytelling/angle they were in at this point was probably some of the best stuff the WWE did in this era. Unfortunately, we get Michael Cole and Tazz on commentary. I really feel JR and the King would have done an incredible job with this match. Hogan gets a wild reaction considering its 2003 and not 1983. Vince is fucking yoked. Plain and simple. Vince is 57 and Hogan is a few months shy of 50 at this point and they are muscularly the two biggest guys on this show.
Why isn’t Earl Hebner doing this match? They get into a test of strength, during which, McMahon kicks Hogan in the guy everytime Hogan starts to get the upper hand. Although its not hard to believe McMahon could beat Hogan considering how juiced he is. McMahon gets color after one really good chair shot by Hogan. The stipulation for this match is that if Hogan loses, his contract is voided. Hogan’s hair reminds me of Peter Boyle from Young Frankenstein.
Random, but this is my fucking review so suck it. Hugo Savinovic, aka the Spanish announcer, eats a quality chair shot by Hogan. For whatever reason 57 year old Vince introduces a ladder into the match. Vince comes off about halfway up the ladder and drops a leg on Hogan through the Spanish announcers table. Now we have a “lead pipe” in the match, brought in by Vince. He gets dropped by a low blow. Roddy Piper comes in wearing a disguise. He kicks McMahon, spits on Hogan, kicks Vince again, and grabs the pipe. It looks like he’s going to hit Vince and then he drops Hogan. Vince, bloodied and crawling, covers Hogan for a 2 count. Vince throws the referee out of the ring. Hogan eats another pipe shot and a leg drop. He kicks out on two and we get the HULK UP. Sylvain Grenier has now taken over as ref until Hogan throws him over the top. Right hands, big boot, and 3 leg drops and Brian Hebner counts the 3. Hogan is your winner. Shane comes out after the match stares down Hogan. Vince gives Hogan the finger as hes laying prone in the ring.
Rock Austin 3 is the next match. The story they’re building is the Rock has never beaten Stone Cold at Wrestlemania. Austin starts with the usual kicks and punches. Rock battles back and starts to attack the knee. We’ve seen this show before. Austin hits Rock with a Rock Bottom. Rock his Austin with a Stunner. Rock wrestles half the match in Austin’s vest. It’s basically just both guys trading finishers. It takes three Rock Bottoms but Rock finally gets his win over Austin at Mania. Overall, this match was honestly really boring.
Finally, after what seems like 19 years we get to the main event. Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship. Lots of chain wrestling to start, which is both what you’d expect and want. Brock was so much smaller in 03. It is so weird to see Brock actually sell for someone. UNTIL he no sells a suplex. Special stipulation for this match is Angle can lose the title by count out and DQ. Sick German by Angle throwing Brock into the top turnbuckle. Angle tries some strange submissions I’ve never seen before. Jesus, Brock bumps his ass off for Angle in this match. It’s honestly kind of depressing to watch Brock in 03 and seeing how good he could have been if he wanted to be and Vince didn’t just let him do whatever he wanted to do.
Kurt hits 4 consecutive Germans on Brock at one point. A really smooth exchange from an Olympic Slam to an F5, to the Ankle Lock. Kurt hits the Angle Slam and gets a two count. Brock reverses another attempt at the Slam into a cradle. After the near fall, he hits an F5 for a two count. Kurt plays possum to lock in the Ankle Lock. Brock finally hits another F5 after reversing another Angle Slam. Brock then goes to the top rope and tries a shooting star press with Kurt LITERALLY 3/4 of the way across the ring. Somehow he battles back for a 3rd F5 and wins the title for the 2nd time.
Looking at this show from top to bottom before I watched it, I thought it was really backloaded. After watching it, I realized it was, with the exception of the Rock-Austin match. Jericho-Shawn was great, Booker-Hunter was really good. Hogan-McMahon was entertaining and Brock-Kurt was surprisingly great.
The rest of this card I could do without ever seeing again. If I were giving a letter grade, B- tops. The great stuff just barely outweighs the rest of the unnecessary garbage.
First of all let me lead this off by saying my name is Ryan “PoppaDawg” Mattingly from the Below The Belt Wrestling Show. We cover NXT every Wednesday night (or at least we try to convene every Wednesday) and normally it’s the best part of the WWE wrestling week. BUT sometimes I just can not stand their crowd.
Let’s just dive into the distain I have for them. Now, I know we live in a digital age, and I’m a digital girl living in a digital world, but SPOILERS! While NXT tapings are going on, I can not be on social media. I don’t know why the crowd thinks it’s so cool to “break” results and spoil it for the rest of us. In the past month Trips and crew at the PC have smartened themselves up and did a double ending which to me was genius. It’s not cool to spoil NXT tapings. This isn’t AAW. This isn’t PWG. This isn’t Beyond. You don’t have to wait two months for a blu ray to come out to enjoy the show. You literally get to watch the product on the Network a few mere weeks later, if not the next week. I grew up on Saturday Nights on TBS and Superstars where everything was prerecorded, and I still could watch with out anything being spoiled. Once again I know the “the world is at our fingertips”, but can we just save the spoilers? Now live events, by all means cover it because it’s live and everybody should be watching and if they aren’t they avoid the spoilers.
The next thing that grinds my gears about the Full Sail Crowd is how they can cheer for a guy one second and boo the next, hence my title to this story. Let me explain what I mean by this. My first example is Johnny Gargano. I understand the writing for him is what it is and the Ciampa situation is weird, but you can’t chant Johnny Wrestling or Champion or Bravo, or anything positive but then chant Johnny Failure or Jackass the next episode. ITS THE SAME NIGHT, or set of tapings at least. It’s confusing for the average fan who doesn’t watch NXT. Please note that it’s been said only 1/4 of the WWE Universe actually watch NXT. So imagine if that other 3/4th tunes in one week and sees the crowd chanting against Johnny. Then they decide to give it another shot and the next week the crowd loves Johnny. That turns the average fan off, but the Full Sail Crowd has to get their shit in like Brian Cage so it’s ok.
The Full Sail Crowd acts bigger than the talent on the show. Granted I absolutely loathe crowds that “sit on their hands” but I hate asinine fans who try to HiJack shows. Example Dolph vs Seth’s Ironman match where the crowd would rather go UHHHHHHHHH at end of every friggin’ minute than watch a damn good match. Now Full Sail isn’t that bad, but they do feel like judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to talent even if they suck or are a gimmick that won’t make it past Orlando. Blue Pants, Adam Rose, No Way Jose, this new Bugenhagen Guy. Once again I take it back to the average fan, and if the average fan would understand this Indy style crowd.
Things I do love about Full Sail is they are up on their Indy stars and pop when they show up, but they don’t stick behind them long if they aren’t pushed right away. Itami, Strong, Ohno just to name a few, they popped for, but then the pop died when the next darling came in. Is it their fault it’s too much too soon? No, but what happened to staying behind your guy until he gets the strap? Or at least keeping them relevant?
Another good thing about the NXT crowd, is they have clever chants sometimes or know the Indy chants. I forget what match it was but I believe it was Aleister vs Johnny where the crowd was hot, half for Aleister and half for Ciampa. It was let’s go Ciampa, let’s go Black for about the whole match. So the enthusiasm is great. So I can not fault them there.
In closing, if we could stop the spoilers, stop being cheeky trying to get things other that have no god damn right being over because they will be last weeks flavor, and if they could stop confusing the average fan, Full Sail would be awesome!
Thank you for your time, thank you for listening to my ramblings, but most importantly thank you for being a Pro Wrestling fan.
This is Sam from The Below The Belt Wrestling Show here for Heelturnwrestling.com coming in with a top 5 list for the namesake of the website itself, my top 5 heel turns in professional wrestling.
Quickly, before the list begins I’ll say I limited my picks to only allow for one wrestler from any angle to be included once on this list other wise certain people would appear more times than Big Show can turn in a year.
Secondly, I tried to be as objective as possible but it’s opinion based so if you think someone got left off the list….well let us know in the comments.
Written by: Sam Meier of the Below The Belt Wrestling Show