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SmackDown! report for 07/17/03
(taped 07/13/03 in Columbus OH at the Nationwide Arena)

(Executive Summary)

Results: 1) Chris Benoit def. Matt Hardy via submission to advance to the finals of the United States Championship tournament 2) Ultimo Dragon def. Jamie Noble via pinfall 3) Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio def. Conquistadors 45 & 47 via pinfall 4) Sean O'Haire declines to face Rhyno 5) Eddie Guerrero def. Billy Gunn via pinfall to advance to the finals of the United States Championship tournament 6) Kurt Angle def. The Big Show and The World's Greatest Tag Team via submission.

The Good: Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle and Zach Gowen looked awesome. The main event delivered. The World's Greatest Tag Team really is pretty good. Josh Matthews got punched out. Matt Hardy got busted open and used it to make his match with Benoit even more compelling. Tazz was really good at the table tonight.

Less Good: Vince, Sable... nothing new here, in more ways than one. The card for the long-awaited SmackDown! PPV still looks kind of wussy. The arena staff are probably still cleaning up from the JWF-quality Diva fight in the Presidential Skybox. O'Haire came on, but he didn't really wrestle, and he's booked to get beat up by the APA next Sunday. Augh!


Greg Sansone of The Score says that SmackDown! is unavailable... gotcha! Too bad, I kind of wanted to watch Golf Central.

They replay the Show and Lesnar climatic action from last week. Tonight, there'll be a 3-on-1 again, but it'll be Angle in the hot seat this time. Interesting. Vince comes out and welcomes us to SmackDown! and reminds us of everything that went down with Zach Gowen. He says that Zach, an amputee, won his handicap match for two reasons ("Asshole!") - no, that's not one of them - two reasons: Angle and Lesnar. He says that this is all about lessons and that we need to be taught a lesson, and that he'll teach Stephanie and Zach at Vengeance what he taught Brock last week. He reminds us of the result. He tells us that he kept Angle backstage on threat of being fired. Kurt will be taught a lesson in the upcoming no-holds-barred, falls-count-anywhere match. "And that brings me to Zach Gowen..." but Brock interrupts.

"I don't know why you're out here... Don't cross the boss..." Lesnar says he's not here to cross the boss; he's there to beat the boss. He demands a match with Vince tonight. Vince says he's on, but not tonight - he wants to face Brock at 100% and he'd still be hurt from last week's big choke slam. No date is given for this match, so I can only assume it's meant for next week. Vince orders Brock to take the night off and not interfere in tonight's main event, on threat of being fired. Brock is incredulous, and says that he understands that he can't F-5 Vince, "but for now, F-U!"

Tazz and Cole talk about the US Championship tournament, and show us clips from 4 weeks ago when Benoit beat Rhyno. There's also footage from 3 weeks ago when Matt Hardy beat Rikishi. Tonight's Matt Facts: Matt's beard is much cooler than Benoit's. Matt tans wearing only a sock.

1) Matt Hardy vs. Chris Benoit (US Championship, semi-finals): This is a... how should I put it, vivid match. Chris Benoit dominates early with mat holds and chops - he takes Matt hardy to every corner to knock him down. Tazz says you can see Matt's chest turning red, and you can almost believe it. Benoit tangles Matt's arms up in the ropes, but Brian Hebner gets Benoit away from the illegal tactics, and while Hebner tries to untangle Matt, Moore sneaks in a neckbreaker. Matt covers, and Benoit gets the shoulder up. Matt goes for a Twist of Fate but Benoit finds him with a backslide. Matt kicks out. Benoit gives Matt a snap suplex and flips Moore backwards over his shoulder and out of the ring. Matt tries a Twist of Fate but gets in the Crossface. He grabs the rope to break the hold. Matt is busted open - it looks hardway. Tazz attributes it to a forearm hit from Benoit. Matt connects with the Side Effect, but Benoit gets the shoulder up. Another Side Effect, then he does Benoit's Wolverine gesture and goes up but misses the flying head butt. Both men are down awhile. Benoit is up and applies rights to the bloody nose. He gets off two German Suplexes even though Matt tries to hang onto the rope for the second. On the attempt for three, Matt does hang on, and he swings Benoit right out. Outside, Benoit plants Matt's face into the apron. One more German Suplex, and Chris goes up and misses the flying head butt. Matt goes up to threaten a high spot, but Benoit battles his way up. Matt takes Benoit down with the Side Effect, but Benoit gets and arm bar and applies the Crossface. Matt submits. Good match.

Vince is in the office on the phone saying how he intimidated Brock. Stephanie comes in, expecting to find Sable. Vince says that Sable is in the arena, but in a safe place for Stephanie's protection. Vince gives Stephanie a gift from Sable: a little box of Midol for menstru- Stephanie slaps the box out of his hand and leaves. Vince: "Talk about your P*S."

Brock is going out the back, and Angle asks where he's going. Brock says that it didn't seem to bother Angle that he couldn't help out last week. Angle says that if he went out, he'd ruin his shot at the championship at Vengeance. Brock asks Angle if he knows how hard it was to be out with Vince and not F-5 him? Angle doesn't want to argue, "I've got a match, I'm gonna get my butt kicked!" Brock says to watch out for the announce table. "Don't get hurt. I don't want any excuses." Angle: "I never made an excuse a day in my life."

Noble and Nidia come out. Noble apologizes to Torrie for offering her $10K to spend the night with him, and says that she's really worth $25K. Nidia walks away, leaving Noble alone to face Ultimo Dragon.

2) Jamie Noble vs. Ultimo Dragon: Ultimo's early offence is primarily moves with his legs, most of which no one else in WWE is using right now. Ultimo clips Noble with a rear sweep, but Noble kicks out of the cover. They trade holds. Noble goes out through the second rope. Dragon goes up and down with the Assai Moonsault. Noble gets Dragon with a kick to the chest while Dragon is coming down off a high spot. Noble sets up Dragon for the Tiger Bomb but doesn't execute because Billy and Torrie come out. Dragon catches Noble with a Bridge and gets the pinfall.

They replay the Fatal 4 Way from last week, including the brawl. The APA run into Spanky and give him an invitation to a Barroom Brawl. Simmons asks Bradshaw what happened to his hair. Bradshaw doesn't give a definite answer. They meet up with Kanyon and give him an invite, but he can't go because he's getting his cable hooked up. (Kanyon can afford cable?!?!) As it turns out, this Barroom Brawl is a command performance, "your ass will be there." Kanyon decides he'll get satellite instead. The APA walk away from him and they decide that they shouldn't host the brawl for free; they should make the guys pay them to kick their ass.

Kidman comes out. He looks HAPPY. He's pairing up with Rey to take on the Conquistadors (45 and 47. Tazz says 46 is sick.).

3) Billy Kidman and Rey Mysterio vs. Conquistadors 45 & 47: 47 and Rey begin the match. ("That's 47, Cole, do your homework.") Rey delivers a head scissors and drip kicks and goes up and down, but 47 kicks out. ("They got about a 40 year run going right now.") 45 tags in. Mysterio delivers the leg scissors off the second rope. ... Mysterio delivers a Swanton and covers, but the other guy makes the save. Kidman is in trouble. He's covered, but he gets the shoulder up. The World's Greatest Tag Team is watching backstage. Hurricarana by Kidman and the 619 connects, Kidman executes the Shooting Star Press and Rey fends off the other guy while Kidman gets the pin. Kidman carries Rey around in celebration. Tazz: "Kidman is a very happy competitor." Awww... isn't he, though?

Vince comes out and says that earlier he had intended to talk about his match at Vengeance. He points out Sable in the Presidential Skybox. Sable is up there for Stephanie's protection, and Stephanie doesn't know what she's getting into... Vince proceeds into innuendo involving the word 'mount,' and that about covers it. John Cena comes out to break the garbage.

Cena says that everyone's talking about Taker vs. Cena since Cena has veteran status, so he's going to tell us about what Vince will do to Zach Gowen at Vengeance. Cena even rhymes in Ted Turner. (Man, that's getting as old as Angle's medals!) Vince says he reminds him of himself, and Taker comes out on the bike. Stares are exchanged, and Cena plays the coward. Cena tosses the steel steps towards Taker. They meet briefly in the ring, but Cena takes off after Taker boots him down.

4) Rhyno vs. Sean O'Haire: O'Haire finds Rhyno with the cheap shots to start off (the encounter, not the match). O'Haire keeps his jacket on while displaying his Madd Martzial Artz Skillz. (I think this guy rules - I mean he's still in the upper-green range for workrate, but he's got a look that really stands out among the throngs of Velocity guys. Too bad Benoit's busy at Vengeance - I think this guy is a good match waiting to happen.) O'Haire puts Rhyno into the barricade and chokes him with the camera cords. The APA come out and invite Rhyno and O'Haire to the brawl. O'Haire attacks Bradshaw ("My hair is way cooler than yours!"), and Simmons fights back. Rhyno finds Simmons with a gore. Bradshaw beats on Rhyno, and O'Haire heads up the ramp. Thanks guys. I hate calling spots. If I could figure out a way to do these reports without having to call spots, I'd be cranking these things out at like 9:02:00 EDT. Look at Jerry Lawler - he never has to call any spots! All he does is heap empty praise on the heels and keep the Women's Championship from meaning anything by saying, "Look, Puppies!" every time one of the good-looking female wrestlers makes her entrance. (Tazz appreciates looks too, but he does it very subtly.) I'll grant it that once in a while he comes up with a good joke, but in spot-to-spot action, I'd take Tazz over Jerry any day. It's so weird - on SmackDown! Cole and Tazz might take sides, they might agree, but they present their case and back it up with evidence. They also make the matches seem so much more like real competition. And Tazz - he always goes and *explains* everything! He's like the John Davidson of pro wrestling! It's going to be so much easier to get the toned-down style over when you've got guys like Tazz who help it all make sense to the viewer. Meanwhile on RAW, you've got JR, and he has many strengths, but I wonder if they're not as obvious as they could be since he's basically doing the work of two announcers.

Well, this Barroom Brawl ought to be better (or at least shorter, which is probably even more of a blessing) than the Redneck Triathlon, but why do they always feel they have to include this sort of stuff? WrestleMania XIX would have survived without the Miller Lite Catfight Girls - in fact, it would have freed up valuable time for more guys to get on the card. Instead of O'Haire vs. Best Worker Available, you're all (I'm going on vacation; I'll catch this on Kazaa (lite) three weeks after the fact or something) going to pay to see the APA go over all the best and brightest young talent of SmackDown! If you've got shares in Spanky, Rhyno, the FBI, or Kanyon, now's the time to sell. The Brawl may very well be interesting, and it will probably be funny, but ... When the idea of split PPV's was first brought up, the specific idea of a SmackDown! exclusive PPV was very appealing to most people. But Vince and Sable and Stephanie are on top - what else need be said? So many wrestlers. So many writers. So many possibilities. It's like Vince McMahon is waiting for something he says or does to catch fire like... um, let's be brief, <cough> 97 <cough> - and since he's not sure what it is, he should just go out and do a whole bunch of different things and promote people who don't wrestle for the next few years until he finds it again. It's like the writers sit down every week and say, "How do we make Vince look important tonight?" Here's an idea; make it self-evident! Get your product up again, and, as always, you can credit Vince McMahon for what he did right to create the upswing. Anyway, I'll stop here because I'm really just echoing things that others have said, and it's also my goal to become the best ignorant thirteen-year-old wrestling web poster in the world so that Meltzer will say, "Look at this guy; sure, he doesn't know anything, but... Okay, he just doesn't know anything. He's late with his reports, too!" =)

We rejoin Sable in the Presidential Skybox, where she sends back some wine. "Sarah, this is supposed to be chilled." Poor Sarah. I've been a waiter in a fine restaurant before, and we'd even put the glass in the freezer before serving the wine. Quit abusing service industry people. Sarah's a professional, and she knows what needs to be chilled and how to serve it. So, Sable gets a lot of heat from me for this clip, but most people watching will just be indifferent to it. That's fine, because the whole Stephanie / Sable / Vince thing should only take up about 75 minutes or so of Vengeance. A minor thing, really. If you blink, you'll miss it.

Tonight's WrestleMania recall moment is a boxing match from WrestleMania XV. No, it's all about the Gimmick Battle Royal (XVI)! =)

Eddie Guerrero comes out in a fine Cadillac. Billy Gunn and Torrie come out. Torrie playfully pats the trunk and Eddie looks as if to say, "Now, now, watch it, Missy!"

5) Billy Gunn vs. Eddie Guerrero (US Championship, semi-finals): A good match considering the finish. Towards the end, Billy gives Eddie an almost-brainbuster, but Eddie gets the shoulder up on the ensuing cover. Billy puts Eddie up in the corner and makes a rush back to the spot, but Eddie gets out of the way and Billy finds the top of the ring post. Eddie comes down and gets Billy with a missile drop kick, which Billy kicks out of. ... Gunn has Eddie ready for the Fame-ass-er, but Eddie catches Billy with a drop kick and the Lasso from El Paso. Eddie loses his hold on one of the legs and it becomes a half crab. Billy makes it to the rope, and Tazz mentions that Billy's height helps him reach the ropes from just about anywhere on the mat. (Little touches like that.) Eddie works on the leg. Gunn battles back. They trade holds; Eddie gives Gunn two vertical suplexes. Eddie faces the crowd for a pop and goes up and down with a Frog Splash that Billy rolls away from. Gunn gets Eddie with the Cobra Clutch and covers, but Eddie nonchalantly grabs the bottom rope. Slick. ("Eddie!") Noble comes out with a chair, so Eddie throws Billy Gunn into the ref, then whacks Billy Gunn himself. Eddie lies down, and Mike Sparks eventually turns to find Eddie "coming to." Eddie is a genius: here he's working a work if you know what I mean. Anyway, Eddie gets the pinfall. Good match. So it'll be Eddie and Chris at Vengeance.

Josh Matthews tries to interview Sable, who ignores him first. Sable says that there's nothing she wouldn't do for Vince, including taking out his precious little girl. Stephanie, dressed as a server, serves Sable's wine by pouring it over her head. "You bi---!" and they fight. "Oh!" "Ah!" "Oh!" "Oh!" It's pretty lame. Let's just say that the APA can sleep without fear tonight. Sable puts Steph into the food. "Bleah! Bleah! Aughh!" JM approaches Sable as if to ask something, and Sable punches him out. Now *there's* my personal highlight! Stephanie gains ground and desserts on Sable, but the arena staff come in and separate them.

They replay all this after the break, just to remind us that we've seen better acting. It's so lame. Maybe it's so lame it's funny. Maybe it's just lame. But someone punched out JM, so I guess it's a decent segment. They run the Vengeance card, starting with Steph and Sable, then the APA Invitational. Yes, I'm positive that EastLink, Rogers, Shaw, and Time Warner were just *drowned* in calls right then and there! Anyway, the card gets better. Benoit and Eddie! It sounds like a Billy Joel song, but it should be good. McMahon and Zach Gowen. That should be entertaining, and there'll probably be more than a few crazy spots. Ah! Kidman and Mysterio vs. The World's Greatest Tag Team! Cena vs. The Undertaker. Good luck, Cena. And, of course, the triple threat for the WWE Championship. Hmm. It needs a high-profile cruiserweight match or something to really sound like it could be good. Maybe we'll get our chunk of meat next week.

The main event is now falls-count-anywhere. Someone needs to give that ring announcer some notes - Tazz and Cole had him scooped by at least ninety minutes. They replay stuff from last week's main event.

6) Kurt Angle vs. The Big Show and The World's Greatest Tag Team: There's a WrestleMania XX watermark in the top left for a few seconds. Shelton and Kurt begin. Kurt tosses and clotheslines Shelton. Kurt punches Shelton right up onto the turnbuckle, and Haas is thrown into Shelton, meeting a sensitive region. Shelton falls down and inadvertently reciprocates. Ha-ha. Things eventually go outside the regular rules, and they give Kurt a trash can lid shot, but he kicks out of the cover. Show tosses Kurt right out of the ring and Shelton assaults Kurt, and then Show runs Kurt into the stairs. Haas gives Angle a chair shot to the back. Haas covers and Kurt kicks out. Show throws Kurt back in the ring. ("USA!") Show attacks Angle with his giant chops. Angle hangs onto the ropes while Show goes over onto the apron. German Suplex on Haas, and another for Shelton. Everyone in the ring is rolling around and catching their breath. Show takes the steps and puts them in front of the announce table. Tazz: "This is Dega Vu all over again, Cole!" Angle, though, ambushes Show and whacks Show in the back with a chair, and we go to break.

The World's Greatest Tag Team throw Kurt into the barricade and resume the beating (apparently, nothing happened concerning the ring steps). The double-teaming continues around the ring. They run Kurt into the barricade again, but this time Angle counters Haas with a backdrop into the crowd, and he clotheslines Benjamin. Angle climbs over the barricade, and the fight moves into the crowd. A lot of disposable cameras start clicking. Haas gets himself in an ankle lock out there, but Shelton gets Angle from behind for the save. Shelton gets tossed into and knocks over a steel gate. Angle applies the ankle lock on Haas, but Show grabs him and fights him back to the top of the 'ramp.' Show threatens a choke slam on the concrete, but Kurt gets off the low blow in time. WGTT attack and run Kurt into the ramp fence twice. Angle is put back in the ring. ("Angle! Angle!") Angle blocks a can lid shot and beans Haas, then Benjamin, then both again, and then Show twice. Show is still standing, so Angle knocks him down at the knee, but Show knocks Angle down with a clothesline. Zach Gowen comes out, abandons his leg, and knocks Show down and drop kicks Haas and Benjamin. It's something to see. Show knocks Zach down ("Boooooo!") and threatens a choke slam, but Angle makes the save. They fight. Show preps Angle for a power slam, but Angle counters to the Angle Slam. There's one for Benjamin, too, and Angle counters a German Suplex attempt and puts him in the ankle lock. Show makes the save with a boot, and tosses Angle out. Show slaps Angle at the post and rushes in again but his arm finds steel, and Angle battles back. Show gets off a shot to the gut and teases the choke slam, but Zach dives down from the ring and Show has to catch him. Zach is thrown down onto the barricade. Angle knocks the steps into Show and knocks him into the crowd. WGTT ambushes Angle and puts him back in the ring. They set up Kurt for their big double team move, but Angle grabs a boot and Benjamin's dragon whip finds Haas instead of Angle. Ankle lock on Benjamin and this baby's over. Good match. Angle goes over and hugs Zach and they hike off. They show a replay. Show is irate, and the show ends with Zach and Angle keeping their arms raised on the stage. It's cool that Zach was the one to help this time.

Grade: (B+) Another very decent show with two or three memorable matches. If you like porno acting, or if you've got a crush on Stephanie, this show could even get an A-. That's just for the watchability of the show, not the product as a whole. Besides which, I'm an optimist, anyway. Plus I saw Josh Matthews get punched out. Not that I have any ill will towards him, but I have friends who could do a better job.

Next week: Pure filler, probably. I mean, most of the card is set, what's left? Something for the Basham Brothers? Well, they're good, but they're awfully hard to call. I'd make a statement about the Conquistadors, but I don't imagine we'll see them again anytime soon.

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