Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Ruthless Aggression Era Project: WWE Smackdown Review - January 23rd, 2003

WWE Smackdown

January 23rd, 2003

Albany, New York

WWE Champion - Kurt Angle (since 12/15/02)

WWE Tag Team Champions - Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero) (since 11/17/02)

WWE Cruserweight Champion - Billy Kidman (since 11/17/02)

Commentary - Michael Cole & Tazz

Steph opens the show backstage in her office. She says The Undertaker returns to Smackdown tonight. She also promises a bombshell tonight to match Bischoff's from Raw. She leans down so we can see her cleavage and says it will be HUGE. 

1) Chris Benoit vs. Charlie Haas (w/ Shelton Benjamin)

They start on the mat grappling. Haas & Benjamin have looked so at home in there with Benoit it's honestly crazy. Haas rams Benoit into the steps to create some separation. He can't keep Benoit down though and before you know it he heads up and scores the win off a roll up. 

Match rating - **1/2

2) Rikishi vs. Bill Demott

Bill takes a page out of Bryan Danielson's playbook with a "I have til 5 referee" --- I don't know if Bryan had done this yet by this time but you get the point. These two faced off on Smackdown last week and Demott got the cheap victory so they give Rikishi the win here to get his revenge. 

Match rating - **

Backstage, Steph talks to Big Show about The Undertaker returning tonight. I totally forgot that Show is who put him out of action months ago.

This leads to The Undertaker coming and calling out Big Show. Show comes out and says he won’t face him tonight, but A-Train will.

3) The Undertaker vs. A-Train 

Oh god damn right. This rocked. Just a straight big man slug fest for 6-7 minutes. Train even kicks out of the chokeslam for an awesome nearfall. Taker kicks out of the DERAILER powerbomb from Train before fighting back and forcing Train to tap. 

Match rating - *** 

Sean O’ Haire is talking about how fucked paying taxes are and more conspiracy stuff. I’m really interested what in the hell he’s gonna be doing when he debuts. 

4) Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge

More simple, but SUCH GOOD SHIT. Opening mat work, Benjamin wow’s everyone down the stretch with his agility and quickness. Big kick to the face of Edge after a leapfrog spear counter. Benjamin gets frustrated when Edge kicks out and it costs him, Edge with the spear for the win. 

Match rating - **3/4 

Backstage, Angle is scolding Benjamin & Haas for their losses tonight. He says they will not go 0-3 tonight and to watch him go get the job done.  

5) Shannon Moore (w/ Matt Hardy) vs. Nunzio 

Match is whatever, Moore tries to impress Hardy by hitting Nunzio with the twist of fate only for Nunzio to counter with a sliced bread looking move for the win. Hardy tries to attack Moore post match because he lost, but Moore runs up the ramp. Hardy shakes Nunzio’s hand. 

Match rating - *3/4 

Brock Lesnar pre-taped interview airs. Lesnar goes through all his goals in recent years and how he accomplished them. His next two goals - F5 Paul Heyman and beat Kurt Angle for the WWE Title at WRESTLEMANIA. 

6) Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio 

Another great match between these two here just like they had at SummerSlam 02. Angle makes Rey fight from underneath, but Rey is so good at it and starts flying around. Angle is the perfect base for him to all his crazy shit. Crowd loves it, I love it. Fun as fuck. Some awesome nearfalls down the stretch. Only goes about 10 mins but good stuff the whole way through. Angle wins with a victory roll. 

Match rating - ***1/2 

Backstage, Steph tells Funaki her surprise is next and points to a picture of Hulk Hogan on the wall after Funaki leaves. 

Back from commercial, Hulk Hogan comes out to an insane pop. Hogan soaks in the reaction for a good 5 minutes through a commercial break and all before saying anything. Hogan says he’s signed a new contract and if this is his last run, he wants to make it the greatest one of all time. He cuts his usual fiery promo before NO CHANCE 

OH MY GOD VINCE MCMAHON IS HERE. This episode of Smackdown is insane bro. McMahon says he showed up to see what Steph’s announcement was and he’s extremely disappointed. He says Hulkamania and the recently departed Al Wilson have something in common - they’re both DEAD. Hogan says he wants to kick Vince’s ass. Vince laughs it off and says he answer to no one but himself. Hogan says he has something that might change Vince’s mind about facing him. Hogan right hands Vince and drops him. Show closes with Hogan tearing his shirt off over Vince and leaving the ring pissed. Lord jesus. So this is how Vince/Hulk is set up for Mania.. 

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