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OO PPV RECAP
WWE SummerSlam
August 24, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

The Fed told stories heading into tonight's SummerSlam pay-per-view that almost unilaterally cast defending champions as underdogs in their respective matches.  Well, don't look now, but all champs retained their belts tonight in Phoenix.

In the night's two best wrestling matches, Kurt Angle overcame the interference of Vince McMahon to make Brock Lesnar tap out to an anklelock to retain the WWE Title, while Eddie Guerrero took advantage of a chaotic Fatal Four Way match to retain the US belt.  Two RAW brand champs also retained as Triple H held onto the World Title, last eliminating Goldberg, and La Resistance used their new third member to keep the Dudleys away from the tag titles.

Full results of the just-completed WWE SummerSlam PPV (with a few additional editorial notes tacked on in red italics):

  • On Sunday Night Heat:  Matt Hardy came to the ring and cut a promo on Zach "The Novelty Act" Gowen not showing up for their scheduled match, and insisted that the referee name him the winner of said match via forfeit....  and Rey Mysterio defeated Shannon Moore in a 3 minute Cruiserweight Title match (Rey might have tweaked a hamstring or something, as the closing portion of the match was not exactly smooth).
  • SummerSlam, proper, opened with a full color guard and Lilian Garcia singing the national anthem.  Shockingly, La Resistance did not interfere, and the anthem went off without a hitch, segueing directly into the opening theme and video.
  • La Resistance weren't absent from the screen for long, however.  Their successful tag team title defense against the Dudley Boyz opened the show.  Tons of heat here, as the Dudleys remain as over as ever, and the fanbase at large does not seem to share my utter apathy towards La Resistance and their obvious, simplistic, and one-dimensional gimmickry.  After the Duds jump-started the match, La Resistance gained control.  D-Von played Robert Gibson, and eventually got the hot tag at about the 5-6 minute mark.  At that point, the match got all Crazy Go Nuts, with all four guys eventually getting into a brawl.  The Duds hit 3-D on one of La Resistance, but the other one distracted the referee, allowing a ringside camera man to come into the ring and paste the Duds with blows from his camera.  The ref was released, and La Resistance got the cheap pinfall win in short order (about the 8 minute mark).  The camera man took off his hat and wig, and was revealed to be La Resistance's partner in crime from Monday (Rob Conway, but as yet not named or identified by WWE).  They tried a three-on-two attack, but Spike Dudley came out to even the odds.  The Duds still wound up on the short end of the stick.  Jonathan Coachman stopped the Duds at ringside for an interview, and Bubba questioned Coach's Americaness, and promised they'd do anything and everything they could to get the straps from La Resistance.  [As bored as I am by La Resistance's lack of compelling character, this was a hot opener that featured some good action and pressed the crowd's buttons.  Nothing to complain about here.]
  • Backstage: Christian approached Eric Bischoff about how it sucked that the IC Champ didn't even have a match on the second biggest PPV of the year.  Bischoff tried to put that off on Austin, and Christian bought it.  Christian then offered, since he had nothing else to do, to help Bischoff in his match against Shane, but Eric insisted he already had a back-up plan in place.
  • Undertaker defeated A-Train in their alleged grudge match.  The whole thing -- which included about 10 minutes of decent power brawling, but not quite the same level of crowd interest as the opener -- was basically an excuse to set-up a confrontation between Sable and Stephanie McMahon.  Sable seconded A-Train for the match, but played absolutely no role in anything until the match was over.  The finish: Taker with a clean pinfall following a chokeslam.  When Taker threatened to continue the attack with a Last Ride, Sable interfered and tried to seduce Taker.  But Taker, ever the happily married man, didn't bite.  Instead, he restrained Sable, and smirked towards the entranceway.  That was Steph's signal to come on out and to catfight briefly with Sable.  A-Train broke it up (to boos), and escorted Sable away while Taker and Steph celebrated their victories, actual and moral, respectively.  [The Taker/Train issue was not very strong to begin with, and felt more like Thursday night fodder than something worthy of PPV.  Using it as little more than the set-up for a Sable/Steph catfight only reinforces that belief of mine.  Not bad by any stretch.  Just not at all memorable, either.]
  • Shane McMahon defeated Eric Bischoff in a signature Sports Entertainment Segment.  Featuring three non-wrestlers and one non-active wrestler in the end, this was still a pretty entertaining little piece of TV.  Shane came out of the gates pretty hot, and controlled a couple minutes worth of action.  Then the first swerve hit: Jonathan Coachman came out of nowhere and whacked Shane with a chair.  Bischoff immediately announced that this match was now a no-DQ, Falls Count Anywhere match.  Coach and Bischoff then continued the attack on Shane (Bischoff doing most of the physical stuff, while Coach held Shane down and did live commentary -- openly mocking JR's style -- after Bischoff ordered the production team to cut Lawler and Ross' mics).  This went on for several minutes until Steve Austin decided he had seen enough.  He got in the ring, but per the "physical provocation" clause, couldn't do anything until Shane shoved Coach into Austin.  So Coach got a beat down.  Then Shane took a mostly-lifeless Bischoff and used his hand to gently slap Austin.  More physical provocation.  Bischoff got a Stunner, and then Shane put the icing on the cake:  he set Bischoff on top of the Spanish Announce Table.  Then Shane delivered the big elbow from the top rope through the table, and pinned Bischoff at ringside.  Shane and Austin shared a few beers in the ring to celebrate after the match.  [Sure, this bore little resemblance to a wrestling match.  But it was still lots of fun.  Coach's heel turn may turn out as a dead end, but it's also something that feels like it's gotta at least be worth exploring; I've been thinking that for many months, now.  Plus, it was totally unexpected and gave this contest an unpredictable air.  Austin's involvement was 100% crowd pleaser, and Shane's highspot at the end was all you could have hoped for as a finisher.]
  • Eddie Guerrero outlasted Chris Benoit, Rhyno, and Tajiri to retain the US Title.  Eddie's philosophy early on:  stay out of the match and let everybody else beat up on each other.  But eventually, his need to get into the ring to stop pinfall attempts and whatnot resulted in him being an active participant.  Too many cool spots and shifting alliances to even begin transcribing here.  Crowd was really behind Eddie, and even though Cole sold it as Phoenix having a large Latino contingent, it was a bunch of white folks at ringside who were visibly leading the cheers, so...  but I digress.  Suffice to say the response to Eddie was very loud, and probably 70% positive and 30% boos.  Cool spots between Benoit/Tajiri and also Rhyno/Tajiri, so hopefully somebody will realize that Tajiri CAN play with these bigger boys, and fans will get into it.  Finish eventually came with Rhyno down in the ring.  First, Eddie tried to hit the Frog Splash, but Tajiri shoved him off the ropes and to the floor.  Then Tajiri went up top for a moonsault on Rhyno, but Benoit pulled him off and tied him to the tree of woe.  With Tajiri tied up beneath him, Benoit hit the swandive headbutt on Rhyno, and was going for the win.  But Tajiri extricated himself, and broke up the fall; Benoit and Tajiri tussled, and eventually took each other out over the top rope and landed in a heap on the floor.  Eddie got his bearings back, saw Rhyno down, and hit the Frog Splash to get the pinfall after about 15 high quality minutes. [I don't know what to say... if you didn't like this one, then you don't like the rasslin'.  Well worked across the board, and if I HAD to find something to complain about, it'd be that the finish came a bit out of left field, and maybe not climactic enough given the match that preceded it.  But I'm not really gonna complain too hard about something like that.]
  • The SD! portion of the card concluded with Kurt Angle making Brock Lesnar tap out to the anklelock to retain the WWE Title.  The match started with a few minutes of amateur-style wrestling, with each segment getting a nice little pop from the crowd.  After about 3-4 minutes of that, however, Angle decided to start taunting Lesnar, and got into his head.  From there on out, it was full speed ahead, and damn the Greco Roman shit.  Lesnar eventually gained the edge, and targeted Angle's ribs/lower back.  He hit a couple back-breaker type moves, and also used a leg scissors to slow Angle down at one point.  When Angle was eventually able to mount his comeback a while later, he went after Lesnar's shoulder (the shoulder having been softened up when Angle dodged a shoulderblock, causing Lesnar to hit the steel ringpost).  They also had spots with all manner of suplexes, throws, and reversals (including an F-5 reversed into a DDT spot that they did have to do twice to get it clean, but which looked sweet).  Angle also debuted this odd little submission move that was half inverted bearhug, half sleeper (but using the legs) that may be worth saving for future use.  It was out of that move that Angle was eventually able to work his way into an anklelock.  But Lesnar broke that hold by rolling through and kicking Angle off.  Unfortunately, in doing so, Angle flew directly into the ref, knocking him out.  Angle managed to reapply the hold, however, and locked in in for over a minute.  Lesnar was tapping out, but the ref was KO'ed.  So Vince McMahon came down, and blasted Angle from behind to even the odds.  Lesnar, Angle, and the ref all eventually came to, and Lesnar (one-legged, selling the anklelock) hit an F-5.  But the ref was still in groggy, ultra-dramatic mode, and it was only a 2 count.  Lesnar tried to hit the F-5 again, but Angle reversed it into another anklelock.  Lesnar tried to make the ropes on three sides of the ring, but Angle kept pulling him away.  Finally, Lesnar had no choice but to tap out to Angle after 20-25 minutes of action.  Lesnar curled up at ringside and clutched his ankle, while Vince tried to interrupt Angle's celebration.  Angle's response: he Olympic Slammed Vince through a steel chair.  Ouch.  [I liked this one even better than the WM19 match.  Everything was so sound, so plausible, and by the end, Vince's involvement and the ref bump built in the drama to match the athleticism.  Very simplistic in style, but extremely effective. Bonus points go to Tazz and Cole, whose focus and work explaining the moves and the psychology of the match helped it come off that much more realistically.  The work put into "The Real" Brock Lesnar honestly had me thinking there was no way Angle could win.  Now seeing Angle win clean by tap-out?  Well, let's just say if Joe Averagefan was as convinced by Lesnar as I was in the past few weeks, this could be a huge break-out night for Angle in terms of fan acceptance of him as a believable champion.  His past reign as a babyface champ didn't work out so well, but this one is looking like it might, now.  My choice for Match of the Night.]
  • RAW took over for the rest of the show, starting with Kane's victory over Rob Van Dam.  Announced as "No Holds Barred" just as the match started, this one was out of control from just about the first minute.  Kane's power brawling was matched by RVD's unconventional high-spottery.  They went for about 10 minutes until they set up the finish:  Kane was reeling, and RVD set him up in one corner. Then he went up to the adjacent corner, and attempted a Van Terminator.  But Kane dodged it, and RVD dropkicked the chair out of the ring.  Kane immediately capitalized, and pulled the stunned RVD out of the ring, and Tombstoned him on the steel steps.  Then he tossed him back into the ring and pinned him.  [Just about what you would expect...  and not much more.  I did think that we'd get some interference from Shane, especially once it was announced as No Holds Barred, so maybe that got my hopes up for a bit more wacky finish than the very clean decisive one we got.  Then again, there's nothing bad about clean and decisive, either.]
  • Backstage: Eric Bischoff was getting tended to by medics, and who should walk in but Linda McMahon.  Earlier, prior to his match, Bischoff announced that it wasn't a question of "what happened" on Monday night, but rather, a question of how many times it happened.  Apparently, Linda didn't like the implication, and flew out to Phoenix so she could slap Bischoff in the face.  Yee haw!  Sweet, sweet vindication is hers!
  • Triple H, despite contributing all of about 3 minutes of work in the match, retained the World Title inside the six-man Elimination Chamber match.  First two men to start were Shawn Michaels and Chris Jericho, and as you'd expect, they were spot-on, and got the match off to a nice start.  Then, after the first 3 minute (instead of 5 minute) interval, Randy Orton was released, and things got a bit bleak for HBK.  However, Orton and Jericho found they couldn't really get together for any extended periods before they started fighting, so Michaels was able to last long enough for Kevin Nash to be released at the six-minute mark.  He cleaned some house, but was eliminated after about 2 minutes of ring time.  Nash accidentally got hit by a Michaels' superkick, and was rolled up for the pinfall by Jericho.  On his way out of the ring, Nash laid out by Jericho and Orton, but let Michaels take a pass.  Meantime, Triple H was released, but Michaels managed to hit him with a superkick just as he was getting out of his internal chamber.  So HHH continued to rest for about five more minutes.  Then, at the 12 minute mark, Goldberg was released to massive cheers.  First, he took out Randy Orton with a spear and a pinfall.  Then, Goldberg focused on Jericho, spearing him through one of the "bullet-proof" chambers.  With Jericho laid out, Goldberg tussled briefly with Michaels, but was able to pin him following a Jackhammer.  Jericho stumbled back into the ring, and immediately ate a Jackhammer of his own and was pinned.  That left Triple H and Goldberg.  But HHH wanted none of it after Goldberg ran through three men that easily.  He tried to stay locked into his internal chamber, but Goldberg eventually busted through it and pulled HHH out.  The two wrestled for a couple minutes on the outside of the ring, with Goldberg dominating.  Then Goldberg tossed HHH into the ring, and was obviously setting him up for the Spear/Jackhammer combo.  But it was at that moment that Ric Flair managed to squeeze a sledgehammer through the chainlink Chamber and slid it to HHH.  When Goldberg came in for the Spear, HHH sidestepped and hit him in the head with the sledge.  He covered Goldberg, and three seconds later had retained the title.  The fun was just starting, however, as HHH, Flair, and a returning Orton handcuffed Goldberg to the chamber, whacked him repeatedly with the sledge, and laid in with some smacktalk, too.  As the PPV ended, JR and King theorized that HHH wanted to make sure he never had to face Goldberg again.  [This match came to be for the sole reason of masking HHH's injury, and at that, it succeeded very well.  This was about as effective and entertaining a way to involve HHH in a title match; he couldn't work more than a few minutes on his own, but others carried the load, and HHH came in at the end to contribute more to storylines than to the workrate.  That's OK: I think the story that he cheated his way out of this one came through loud and clear, and an eventually one-on-one against Goldberg should be a much stronger match for it.  Goldberg, incidentally, was the easy star of this match.  Even after he stumbled embarrassingly during his entrance, the crowd was way into him, and the booking in this match made him look like an absolutely mega-star.  You could argue that if HHH was hurt, they should have gone a different direction entirely with the World Title... but given that the plan is to still get to a Goldberg/HHH match down the line, this was as good a stop-gap as I can imagine.  Nowhere near the highlight of the night, though; solid, but probably only about the fourth most entertaining match on the show.]

There you have it.  SummerSlam 2003 is in the books.  The hour groweth late, so let's just say more thoughts and fall-out will follow in tomorrow's regular OO.  See you then!

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.


  
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