WWE Vengeance 2003
Mr. McMahon Wrestles an Amputee
The exclusive Pay-per-view version of Smackdown, Vengeance took place on July 27th in 2003 at The Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. It was presented by Eidos Interactive’s Tomb Raider: The Angel Of Death. It saw an attendance of approximately 9,500 and recorded about 322,000 Pay-per-view buys. The total revenue from the Pay-per-view ended up at around $24.7 million dollars.
The event began with two of the greats, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit in the finals of SmackDown’s tournament to crown a new United States Champion. The title had only recently been brought into the company, what with SmackDown in need of its own IC Title and all. It is so hard to do this and not write about Chris Benoit. Not long ago, I declared minimal coverage for The Rabid Wolverine. Now here I am, covering yet another Chris Benoit match. I can’t seem to escape the guy. If you were a fan before he murdered his family, do yourself a favor and check this match out. Benoit and Guerrero always had phenomenal chemistry. Guerrero would walk away that night with the US Championship.
After Benoit and Eddie came Jamie Noble (with Nidia) versus Billy Gunn (with Torrie Wilson). So this is back during those ever so charming days of old where two dudes could have a match with a stipulation like this one. What stipulation, you ask? Well, as long as Jamie Noble won the match, the scrappy cruiserweight would be allowed to sleep with the absolutely fine Torrie Wilson. There was a lot of depth going on here, obviously. Noble won after a roll-up on Billy Gunn, thanks to a distraction from Torrie.
Up next was The APA Invitational Bar Room Brawl featuring such contestants as Bradshaw, Shannon Moore, Farooq, Doink the clown, Brother Love, Nunzio, Matt Hardy, The Brooklyn Brawler, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Chuck Palumbo, Funaki, Orlando Jordan, Spanky, Kanyon, the Easter Bunny, and a number of other men. The Invitational was won by Bradshaw, as one of the two creators of the segment had to win the match. It started with some rhyming from Bradshaw and ended in less than five minutes. It was nothing more than an entertaining time-killer.
After the Invitational was the tag match for the Tag Team Championship: The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin and Charlie Haas) vs. Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio. These are four of the most agile and athletic men who have ever stepped inside a ring. The World’s Greatest Tag Team had an unmatched chemistry, leading to a long series of great matches, and Kidman and Mysterio first started teaming up back in WCW. All four guys knew how to work with each other and it showed. Unfortunately, Kidman and Mysterio’s past couldn’t overcome Benjamin and Haas, and they left with The Championship belts they came in wearing.
Let’s keep in mind, by the way, that this was SmackDown’s first-ever PPV after it became its own brand. Vince had bought out WCW, leaving his company without competition. So he split up his roster, kept half on RAW and sent half to SmackDown. He then put his daughter Stephanie and wrestling legend Paul Heyman in charge of SmackDown, while he stayed in charge of RAW. The idea was to create competition amongst co-workers. Just because they didn’t have WCW didn’t mean Vince couldn’t motivate his roster to give him their best.
It also forced the best out of his daughter and Heyman. They held multiple tournaments for their titles on SmackDown, letting actual wrestlers captivate the audience with their talent. Then there was Vengeance, where the audience was captivated by more than wrestling for six minutes and twenty-five seconds. This captivation came by way of a No Count Out Match between Stephanie McMahon and the woman who made me feel all kinds of ways as a child, Sable. This must have been a dream match for a lot of men. Sable wound up with the victory.
Up after the beautiful Stephanie McMahon and the sexy as Hell Sable, came a singles match between a young John Cena, still rapping every time he entered an arena, and the American Badass Undertaker. As Tazz put it in the lead up video, it’s old school vs. new school. Undertaker ended up with the win, but it didn’t really matter. Undertaker is the rare kind of wrestler that elevates his opponent, whether he wins his matches or loses. From what I understand, it got to the point where Undertaker picked whom and when he wrestled. Which meant that at any point, you could be floating around the locker room, only to have someone come up to you and tell you Taker likes your stuff and is thinking about working a feud with you. It happened to CM Punk on a couple occasions.
Here’s an idea of how important Undertaker’s blessing is. In the lead up to WrestleMania 18, Ric Flair was floundering in WWE, short on confidence but long on time. One day Triple H comes up to Flair and tells him that they’re thinking about putting The Nature Boy in a WrestleMania match with Undertaker, because Taker wanted it. They ended up putting on a great match, of course, and suddenly Flair was back on the active roster. Even a legend like Ric Flair saw his confidence and in-ring ability come back to him after receiving The Dead Man’s blessing.
After Undertaker vs. John Cena came the match that obviously brought about the subtitle of this article. The match was Mr. McMahon vs. Zach Gowen, whose leg was amputated when he was eight years old. He wrestled this match against Vince with one leg. There is only one man who could have worked a feud with a one-legged man and that is Vince McMahon. He’s such a great villain that it only made sense for him to come against the scrappy underdog Gowen. The match itself was very cool. McMahon controlled it for the majority of the match, but that didn’t stop Gowen from leaving everything he had in that ring.
Gowen brought such offense as one-legged dropkicks and springboard backflips, as well as a jumping spin kick that sent a chair into Vince’s face, causing the Chairman to bleed. The finish came when Zach went for a backflip off of the top turnbuckle with a 360-degree twist, but missed. McMahon then got the pin and the segment ended with the Denver audience giving Gowen a standing ovation.
The final match of the night was the hard-hitting triple threat WWE Championship match between Kurt Angle, Big Show, and the Champion Brock Lesnar. With those three men inside the ring together, the match pretty much speaks for itself. The event itself received good reviews, but the triple threat main event scored phenomenally. The finish saw Kurt Angle incredibly impressive and not only hit Big Show with The Angle Slam, but he hit Lesnar with it too, and then got the pin fall, making him the new WWE Champion. Those are two of the biggest men I have ever seen, so hitting them both with an Angle Slam in succession is very impressive.
WWE’s Vengeance in 2003 was one of the better SmackDown exclusive Pay-per-views during the period of brand separation. It was also the first, though, and I look forward to digging further and further into the Paul Heyman and Stephanie McMahon run of the secondary WWE television program.