Tybo Talks… 15 Years Ago – Royal Rumble 2003

Welcome to the first instalment from 2003 of Tybo Talks… Fifteen Years Ago – Royal Rumble 2003 I started this a full year ago when I thought it would be […]

Welcome to the first instalment from 2003 of Tybo Talks… Fifteen Years Ago – Royal Rumble 2003

I started this a full year ago when I thought it would be a good idea to start a ’15 Years Ago’ series. Twelve months and over 500 hours of wrestling later I’m starting all over again with 2003.

If you want to read my Tybo Talks… 2002 series CLICK HERE!

The idea was simple, with the ease of access to pretty much all of WWE’s back catalogue on the WWE Network I thought it would be cool to change it up a bit and do some classic review and drop them on the day they were held. Where better to start than 15 years ago. The plan is to review every PPV of 2003 while watching all Raw and Smackdown episodes in between.

Now before I go any further, I’m not really going to explain the matches move for move. No one needs that, the PPV is on the WWE Network. This is going to be my thoughts on the booking and general thoughts about the matches and the event.

The Stats
The sixteenth annual Royal Rumble PPV

Venue – Fleet Centre. Boston, Massachusetts
Attendance – 15,338
Theme Song – Falling Apart by Trust Company

The PPV opened with the emphasis on this being the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’, and every superstar wanting to be on the main event at the grandest stage of them all.

Winner Enters the Royal Rumble: Big Show (with Paul Hayman) vs Brock Lesnar
This has been a great rivalry between the two, this is the best version of Big Show in his whole career in my opinion. Show is so dominant and so believable with it. If they didn’t have him flip-flop between heel and face so much over his career it would have been great to see this again more recently. Lesnar, is and always has been freakishly strong, and far more athletic than someone his size should be, he proves this with two belly-to-belly’s on the 500lb Big Show. This is a great match, but the downfall is that you must believe that whoever wins this match is winning the Royal Rumble. The finish of the match is an impressive F5 on Big Show after Lesnar had already eaten a chokeslam after attempting to F5 Paul Hayman. Winner: Brock Lesnar (will enter the Royal Rumble later)

Backstage: Terri is interviewing Chris Jericho, he is currently obsessed with being better than Shawn Michaels. So, Michaels is entering the rumble first, Jericho is entering second.

Raw Tag Team Championship: William Regal & Lance Storm (C) vs The Dudley Boys
Fun Fact, The Dudley Boys are already 15-time tag team champions (WWE, WCW, ECW) walking into this match. The Dudley’s have recently been on separate brands, and ill be honest it was terrible. Rev. D-Von was a bad gimmick and Bubba was just everyone else’s tag partner. Regal and Storm are classic heels and great champions. They are currently on a strong winning streak thanks to Regal’s ‘Power of the Punch’ (Brass Knuckles). This match actually came about because Vince thought The Dudley’s could ruin Bischoff’s faction and wanted D-Von to ‘Get the Tables’. This is a standard tag match, the technical mastery of Regal and Storm cutting the ring in half and dominating the match. It was Chief Morley (Val Venus) with the distraction and accidentally costing Regal and Storm to lose. Winners: The Dudley Boys (New Raw Tag Team Champions)

Here was a promo for Nathen Jones, does anyone remember Jones? I’ll be honest, it took me a minute. Apparently, he spent the last 10 years in an Australian prison. Billed as the next (next) big thing.

Dawn Marie vs Torrie Wilson
I’m going, to be honest, it’s shocking that I’m still writing about this absolute car crash of a storyline. This match was billed as ‘Stepmom vs Stepdaughter’. Here’s why, Dawn Marie married Al Wilson (Torrie’s dad, obviously) and basically banged him to death on their honeymoon, this is a far cry from today women’s division. So, after a questionable match between these two last month, it’s hard to believe this was booked again. The match is exactly what you would expect, awkward and blocky. There is even a point where Dawn Marie basically runs into Torrie’s shoulder and knocks herself out. Winner: Torrie Wilson

Backstage: Stephanie McMahon walks up to Bischoff and Randy Orton chatting. Bischoff has been told by Vince that if Raw doesn’t get better in the next 30 days, Bischoff is fired. Steph is here purely to gloat and introduce herself to Raw’s talent.

World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (C) vs Scott Stiner
Fun Fact: this is Scott Stiner’s first Royal Rumble appearance in nine years. If you were reading my review of 2002 you will know that Stiner was billed as the ‘hottest free agent in wrestling’ and both GMs (Steph and Bischoff) were gunning for him to sign with their brand. Stiner eventually signed with Raw, and as a signing bonus had an automatic World Heavyweight Championship match.

Triple H is the number one heel in the company right now, but after boasting he had beaten everyone, out came Stiner. Although the build to this match was not perfect, the refreshing difference between this build-up and others is there has been no one-on-one match between the two. Instead, they have had a series of contests, arm-wrestling, pose-down and push-ups. This is a breath of fresh air, compared to these days.

In 2003 it was rare that Triple H would go into a match as the underdog, but Triple H looks small and worried going up against ‘Big Papa Pump’. As for the match, it’s a strange one. Its constant power moves and although Triple H carries the match its Stiner on the offensive for most of the match. There are more than a few points in the match where Stiner looks noticeably gassed or hurt, and even glassy-eyed at one point.

Triple H spends a large portion of the match trying to get disqualified and eventually does after he gets his trusty sledge-hammer and lays out Stiner. After the match, and Stiner has recovered he beats down Triple H and refuses to release the Stiner-Recliner until Bischoff comes out. Winner: Scott Stiner (via DQ. Triple H is still World Heavyweight Champion)

WWE Championship: Kurt Angle (C) vs Chris Benoit
We are finally in the ‘Team Angle’ era. Angle was a huge face when he won the WWE Championship, but after aligning himself with Paul Hayman at the Smackdown after Armageddon. He is now the number one heel on the blue brand, causing Lesnar’s face status to sky-rocket.

Has anyone spent more time around the WWE Championship than Paul Hayman in the last 15 years?

Although Benoit had to beat Big Show to get this match, he and Angle have had issues all the way back to before they won the tag team championships. It doesn’t matter if Benoit and Angle are on the same team or they are facing each other their in-ring chemistry is simply amazing.

This match is no different, both Benoit and Angle deliver on every level. This match is a huge change of pace from the World Heavyweight Championship match earlier. This is a pure classic, pure technical wrestling where I lost count of the number of near-falls and counter submissions. The crowd are clearly loving every move and have no idea who to cheer for. After a long (long) Angle Lock Benoit finally taps out. Winner: Kurt Angle (still WWE Champion)

After the match Benoit gets a standing ovation in the ring, personally, I think this is the point where Benoit moves from the mid-card to the main event. **Match of the Night**

Royal Rumble 2003
As we know Shawn Michaels is in first and Chris Jericho is in second, in a shocking twist, Michaels is busted open in the first minute and out before the first three minutes is up. Christian is in fifth and tries to befriend Edge again with a huge hug, clearly doesn’t work. Tommy Dreamer is in the tenth and brings a trashcan full of ‘toys’ (weapons). With the first ten superstars entered, the match is standard at the minute, the main thing is Jericho is still going strong.

After Jericho eliminates both Edge and Christian the ring is clear. Jeff Hardy enters fifteenth, and Matt Hardy tries to do the same as Christian and befriends his former tag partner. Now halfway through the match with fifteen superstars entered and the ring is full again, Jericho is still in.

John Cena enters seventeenth and basically raps for 90 seconds. (also wrestling in what looks like the most uncomfortable jeans ever, with some crazy wet and wild turn-ups) Rikishi enters nineteenth, Fun Fact: This is Rikishi’s eighth Rumble match because of all the gimmicks he has had. Rikishi and 3MW’s Rosie share a moment in the ring. With only ten entrants left the ring has got full, and Jericho still hasn’t been eliminated.

At this point, it just feels like we are waiting for Lesnar to enter to clear the ring. Michaels is back to beat Jericho down and he is finally eliminated by Test. Here comes Lesnar, number twenty-ninth, and clears the ring, he even F5’s Matt Hardy out of the ring. Undertaker returns and enters thirtieth. We are down to the final four, Kane, Batista, Undertaker and Lesnar. The star-power left in the ring is amazing. After Undertaker eliminates both Batista and Kane, Batista comes back to attack Undertaker, and Lesnar eliminates him. Winner: Brock Lesnar (Number One Contender at Wrestlemania)

After the match, Undertaker is back in the ring and gives his respect to Lesnar.

Overall: This was a solid opening PPV for 2003, a Royal Rumble is always good because of the Rumble match. The first half of the PPV wasn’t without its low points, and the Dawn Marie/Torrie Wilson batch was an absolute stinker. The WWE Championship match was sublime, easily the match of the year so far. The Royal Rumble match was fun, although it was missing the surprise entrant element as everyone was announced before the match. The best thing about the Royal Rumble is the surprise returns and nostalgia aspect, and this match was missing that.

Royal Rumble – 3.5 / 5