March 13th, 2003
WWE Champion: Kurt Angle (since 12/15/02)
WWE Tag Team Champions: Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas (since 2/6/03)
WWE Cruserweight Champion: Matt Hardy (since 2/23/03)
Commentators - Michael Cole & Tazz
1) Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas vs. Rey Mysterio & Billy Kidman
Oh man this is gonna be a blast and IT WAS. Everything you could’ve really asked for from these four. Rey flies and bumps around. Haas & Benjamin isolate Kidman and Rey obviously gets that hot tag and goes ballistic. Lots of fast paced action here when shit breaks down. Kidman almost fucks up a shooting star press. Rey hits the 619, but Kidman gets caught in a stacked german and gets pinned.
Match rating - ***
Brian Kendrick is backstage with flowers for Stephanie McMahon. She thanks him as he nervously hands them over and she continues with her phone call.
Jamie Noble is at the Playboy Mansion asking “where the beautiful women at?” Lmao. He wants to speak to Hugh Hefner. He’s still on his shit about Nidia deserving the Playboy cover. Security forces him to leave.
2) Rikishi vs. Chuck Palumbo (w/ Nunzio & Johnny Stamboli)
Rikishi continues to always be a fun time. Nunzio & Stamboli try to interfere on behalf of Palumbo. Los Guerreros run out and put a stop to it which allows Rikishi to get the win.
Match rating - **
Undertaker is backstage looking for Nathan Jones. It’s just been announced they are teaming up at WrestleMania to face Big Show & A-Train. Taker finds Jones mediating or some shit. He leads him out to watch Show & A-Train’s match so they can be ready for Mania.
3) The Big Show & A-Train vs. Tajiri & Funaki
Show is on commentary for most of this because “A Train has it under control” which is pretty hilarious. Fun squash that continues the trend of me enjoying Show & Train so much more than I ever anticipated to.
Match rating - **
Dawn Marie is backstage and Sean O’Haire talks to her and says his catch phrase.. whatever.
Torrie Wilson pre-tape about her Playboy magazine cover. It’s time for the reveal and yeah. Taz & Cole put it over and tell everyone to buy it etc.
Dawn Marie comes out for the “body contest” and flashes the live crowd. The cameras don’t catch it of course. I fast forwarded sorry bout it.
John Cena promo pre-tape. He says he’s gonna hang Brock Lesnar and some other stuff.
4) Chris Benoit & Rhyno vs. Los Guerreros (Eddie & Chavo Guerrero)
Man, this was great. So great that even though it ended in a disqualification I’m still going 3.5 stars on it. It is a shame it couldn’t fully climax, but it certainly was fantastic while it lasted. Just stiff, traditional well worked tag team pro wrestling. It probably won’t surprise anyone considering the names involved, but it’s definitely worth a look. The two teams are fighting for a shot at the tag team titles at WrestleMania and they made it feel SUPER important. After a grueling battle, Haas & Benjamin show up and ruin the party by attacking members of both teams causing things to end in a no contest. Who gets the title shot?
Match rating - ***1/2
Backstage after the commercial break, Steph tells Haas & Benjamin they just shot themselves in the foot because now BOTH teams get the title shot and it will be a triple threat match for the tag team championships!
Hogan/McMahon video package on their early beginnings in the business and the start of Hulkamania. Vince is backstage. He replays a clip where Hogan thanked him. Vince says that’s the only time he ever thanked him, continuing the story that he hates Hogan for a litany of reasons. It’s Hogan v Vince in 2 and a half weeks at WrestleMania!
5) Matt Hardy (w/ Shannon Moore) vs. Brian Kendrick
This was an open challenge so Matt, in his own words, can keep his Mattributes tuned up before his Mania match with Rey Mysterio. Brian Kendrick comes out with a mask on. He’s posing as the “Pittsburgh Penguin” and is introduced as such. Hardy eventually rips his mask off and reveals him as Kendrick. Kendrick brings the fire and makes you think he could win for a second with a nice near fall or two. Hardy knows he’s on the verge of losing and decides to bail so Kendrick wins via countout.
Match rating - **1/2
Backstage, Rey Mysterio congratulates Kendrick on his showing and credits him for all his hard work and seizing the opportunity. Kendrick yells “THIS IS IT” maybe they will finally give this man a contract.
6) Kurt Angle (c) vs. Brock Lesnar - WWE Championship Match
It’s funny this comes up because I was just listening to the episode of Kurt Angle’s podcast about how this came about. Angle was injured heading into Mania and they had thought about having him drop the title here, but then decided to still go with the Mania match. So, Angle didn’t wanna not somewhat deliver what was advertised so they did this angle with his real life brother posing as him. Angle and his brother trade places and Angle rolls Brock up for the win to retain. His brother gets busted open and all in the post match beatdown from a very angry Brock Lesnar. Pretty funny angle that they pulled off very well. Makes you wanna see Brock tear into Angle even more, especially with the intense look on Lesnar’s face when he realized Angle & his brother pulled a fast one on him.