WWE PPV Flashbacks: Judgment Day (5/18/03) - "Ladders, Stretchers and Bikinis"

Judgment Day
May 18, 2003
Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NC

Judgment Day 2003 was a significant show in that it would end up being the last of the non "big four" shows to feature superstars from both brands until 2007. We'll see the effects of that over the next few months as each brand gets its chance to establish its own PPV presence. For now however, both Raw and Smackdown are under the same roof as usual, but a power struggle was developing on each. As Eric Bischoff began to abuse more and more of his power as Raw General Manager, WWE CEO Linda McMahon stepped in an appointed a co-GM to the brand to share his responsibilities. That man was the returning Stone Cold Steve Austin, who Bischoff had fired after his in ring career ended back at WrestleMania XIX. Meanwhile over on Smackdown, while Stephanie McMahon remained the woman in charge, she was facing more and more interference from her vindictive father as Mr McMahon would become more of an on screen presence as time went on. As far as out featured matches tonight, World Heavyweight Champion Triple H puts his title on the line against Kevin Nash, while WWE Champion Brock Lesnar defends against the Big Show in a stretcher match. Particularly conspicuous by his absence on this show is one Goldberg who made his much anticipated PPV debut last month at Backlash. Alas, lets get this show under way.

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We kick the show off with a video package with the usual apocalyptic theme of this event. Its focused on the two big title matches as well as the Mr America/Roddy Piper feud. In the arena afterwards, the opening pyro gets us started. Our announce teams are back to usual this month as Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler represent Raw, while Michael Cole & Tazz are here for Smackdown. JR returned to the Raw broadcast team following Austin's appointment as co-general manager.

Speaking of Austin, the glass breaks and he makes his way to the ring. After welcoming the fans to the show, he has a few beers before making his way to the skybox overlooking the arena where he plans on watching the event. Just a quick segment to open the show and get the crowd to pop for Stone Cold in his new position.

Chris Benoit, Rhyno & Spanky vs John Cena, Chuck Palumbo & Johnny Stamboli w/Nunzio
The movement down the card of Chris Benoit continues after his involvement in the title scene earlier in the year as after missing last month's show, he's now opening in a throwaway six man tag. I suppose the same can be said for John Cena after he challenged for the WWE Championship at Backlash, but that was more him being a slot filling heel than an established main event level player at this point in time. Anyway, Rhyno is still hanging around as Benoit's tag partner here, but the rest of the participants in this match need a little explanation. First on the babyface side we have Spanky, a man who would be better known as Brian Kendrick in later years. We saw him briefly in the Taker/Show feud earlier in the year, and has since been appearing on Smackdown in varying roles. The young athlete finally convinced Stephanie McMahon to give him a contract after various antics including stripping through the arena one week, and was essentially a young kid living his dream as a WWE superstar. As far as the heels go, we've seen Chuck Palumbo before. He's been repackaged as a member of the Fully Blooded Italians stable along with Stamboli and Nunzio. Of course, Nunzio was part of the original FBI back in his ECW days as Little Guido Maritato. After the trio arrived on the scene a few months back, they formed a loose affiliation with Cena, going so far as to help him defeat the Undertaker in the tournament that earned him last month's title match. Now the feud here really stems from Spanky challenging Cena to a battle rap one week on Smackdown. After a great rap by Spanky, Cena attacked the young man. Meanwhile the FBI were becoming a thorn in the side of Benoit & Rhyno in the tag team ranks. On the Smackdown before this PPV, Cena and Benoit faced off in singles action, but the after weeks of crossing paths with each other, the match broke down when all the participants in this match started fighting to set this one up. The actual match is quite short. In fact it probably took longer to write all that than it does to watch it. Cena gets a decent pop despite being a heel as he raps his way to ringside, and as the match gets under way, all six men bring a great deal of energy in this sprint of a six man. Nunzio gets involved as well, but he takes a Gore from Rhyno for his efforts. Its the FBI who come out of this one with the last laugh though, as after some good team work, Stamboli scores the pin over Spanky following the Kiss of Death at 3:58. For the time they had, this was impressive. It definitely warranted another five minutes at least though. I know a lot of people were upset with Benoit being in this position on the show, but his moment was still down the line. A solid win for the new heels in the Smackdown midcard.
Grade: **

We go up to Austin's skybox after the match as his party is crashed by Eric Bischoff. Bischoff demands some scotch from the bar, but Austin tells him to have a beer. Bischoff doesn't want to drink it from the can so Austin calls him a wimp.

We now go to footage of a debate between Christopher Nowinski and Scott Steiner over America's foreign affairs. Speaking of Big Poppa Pump, he's in action next.

Scott Steiner & Test w/Stacy Keibler vs La Resistance
After the shenanigans between Test and Steiner last month at Backlash, Stacy persuaded the two to form a team and get along. The two were reluctant partners, with Test still being a heel that mistreated his manager, but they would pick up a victory over Christopher Nowinski & Rico in their first match together. Despite the victory, Scott Steiner was attacked after the match by the debuting La Resistance, comprised of Rene Dupree & Sylvain Grenier (yep, he was the evil referee at No Way Out). As you can tell, La Resistance were French, and were playing the role of foreigner heels following France's refusal to join the U.S in the war on Iraq at the time. They attacked Steiner due to recent patriotic comments he had made and remarks against France which was really the basis of this feud. Despite Steiner's issues with La Resistance, his problems with Test were also growing, as Test accidentally booted Steiner the following week in a World Tag Team Championship match against Kane & Rob Van Dam, an error that cost the duo a chance at the gold. Regardless, the unlikely partners put their differences aside on the Raw before the PPV as they teamed with Goldust to defeat La Resistance & Nowinski in six man action, setting up this one. As far as the match goes, it had two purposes - to introduce La Resistance as the new heel team in the division, and to continue the issues between Steiner and Test which would go on for a number of months. It is weird to see Steiner in this midcard role after main eventing with Triple H to start 2003, but he was definitely more suited to this position at this time in his career. The Frenchmen draw some heat prior to the contest on the mic, which gives Steiner a big pop as his music interrupts. As far as the match itself though, it was fairly basic. After working together at first, the problems between Steiner and Test resurface when Test accidentally knocks Stacy off the apron, into Steiner's arms. Steiner enters the match and starts to build momentum on his own from there, but further miscommunication sees Test boot his partner by accident yet again. From there its all La Resistance as they toss Test to the outside and put Big Poppa Pump away with a double flapjack, which Sylvain gets the pin from at 6:19. The World Tag Team Champions have some new contenders coming their way, while the Steiner/Test alliance would not last much longer.
Grade: *1/2

We now go backstage to special reporter Gregory Helms who is standing by with Mr America. Mr America is obviously Hulk Hogan with a mask and Captain America style outfit after being sent home by Mr McMahon after WrestleMania. Helms tries to get America to tell him if he is Hulk Hogan, but he responds by asking if he is really the Hurricane, which was of course the joke. They both agree to leave it at that.

Elsewhere, Josh Matthews is standing by with Eddie Guerrero. With Chavo being sidelined with an injury, Eddie tells us that he's found a replacement partner for his tag title shot and brings in an excited Tajiri.

WWE Tag Team Championship - Ladder Match:
Team Angle (c) vs Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri

Our first championship match of the evening follows on from last month's title match between Team Angle and Los Guerreros. On that occasion, Team Angle successfully retained their titles, but Los Guerreros got the last laugh as they made off with the title belts. Benjamin & Haas were none too happy about the robbery, and on the following episode of Smackdown demanded the Guerreros return their title belts. The Guerreros would oblige, but as they returned the belts, they made off with Kurt Angle's gold medals which the duo had been carrying around in Kurt's absence. The champs took back the medals the following week when Eddie was in action against Matt Hardy, but would have them stolen right back later in the night. On the Smackdown prior to this show, Shelton Benjamin picked up a singles victory over Eddie, but Latino Heat would get the last laugh yet again, this time by smashing the giant portrait of Kurt that Team Angle had been carrying around since Mania. The stage was set for Team Angle to battle Los Guerreros in a ladder match at the PPV, however an unexpected setback occurred when Chavo was injured the week before the PPV on a house show. On Heat prior to the PPV, Haas & Benjamin demanded Eddie forfeit his title shot, however as we saw moments prior he would name Tajiri as his new partner just before the match. In a way its a shame Chavo was unable to participate in this match after the lengthy feud between the two teams to this point, but Tajiri was probably a slight upgrade and his dynamic with Eddie (who is in full babyface mode by this point by the way) really had the fans behind the challengers in this match. I think this is something of a hidden gem on this show actually. Its one of those forgotten ladder matches and it really delivers. Again I have to give props to Team Angle for being so great so early on in their careers as well. They're definitely well on the way to being the tag team of 2003 at this point in time after some very impressive outings. This one tops the list to date. All four men bust out the great kind of spots that we have come to expect in ladder matches, with everybody taking some sick bumps. One that particularly stands out sees the champs hit their usual leapfrog double team, only using the ladder in the process this time. While it was a matter of circumstance, its great to see Tajiri in a relatively high profile match again as well after flying under the radar for the past many months. He also gets to use the Tarantula for more than five seconds due to the match type, which is always a bonus. Eddie is the star towards the end of the match as he builds momentum following a frog splash to Shelton. From there he does battle on the ladder with Haas, only to hit an impressive sunset flip powerbomb to send him packing. Shelton meanwhile recovers and tries to stop Latino Heat from grabbing the titles, but Tajiri delivers the mist to the Team Angle member. Alone and with the gold in his reach, Eddie retrieves the titles and we have new WWE Tag Team Champions at 14:18. Really good stuff from all four men.
Grade: ****

Back in the skybox, the antics of Austin and Bischoff continue. Austin is impressed by the ladder match we just saw before turning his attention back to scalding his co-GM for not drinking the beers properly.

Elsewhere Roddy Piper runs into Chris Jericho in the locker room. They trade insults and mention their talk shows, with Piper obviously having Piper's Pit, while Jericho had recently started the Highlight Reel on Raw.

From there we go to a video package looking at the history of the Intercontinental Championship. Yep, its coming back! Back in the arena, Howard Finkel brings out the first ever I.C champion, Pat Patterson, to present the winner of the upcoming battle royal with the reinstated title.

WWE Intercontinental Championship - Battle Royal:
Back at No Mercy when the Intercontinental Championship was unified with the World title, I talked about the stupidity of the move. Well, as it happened, Stone Cold agreed, and upon being appointed co-GM of Raw, he reinstated the long standing championship. He announced that a battle royal would take place at the PPV, with the participants being former holders of the title. Those participants are Kane & Rob Van Dam (still the reigning World Tag Team Champions), Goldust, Val Venis, Chris Jericho, Christian, Lance Storm and Test. He also added Booker T to the match despite not previously holding the title, due to what Austin claimed as being numerous near wins of the World title over the course of the year. Now, one of those names we haven't heard from in quite some time. Of course, I'm talking about Val Venis, who we last saw as Eric Bischoff's assistant, Chief Morley. Well, Bischoff fired Morley after losing a match against Jerry Lawler on Raw (a match made by Austin that had won JR his job back due to Lawler winning). Morley showed up on Heat before the PPV and was told to leave by Bischoff. Morley said he was planning on entering the battle royal, but Bischoff pointed out that Morley had never held the title under that title. Well that was true, but he had as Val Venis, and he returns in his old babyface persona here to the approval of Austin looking on. Anyway, this is really just your standard battle royal, and the eliminations come fairly quickly. Kane dominates in the early going but is quickly teamed up on by the rest of the field to be dumped from the contest. The eliminations quickly stack up from there before it comes down to Booker T, Goldust, Jericho and Christian - the renewal of a tag rivalry from late last year. Goldust is quickly sent packing from there as the heels then double team Booker. Despite working together though, Christian sees an opportunity and capitalises as he throws Jericho out when he's not expecting it on a Lionsault attempt. From there, the ref goes down courtesy of a sliding dropkick, and Booker throws Christian over the top to seemingly win the match. Pat Patterson gets up to award Booker the title belt, but Christian snatches it from him and gets back in the ring to nail Booker with it. He then proceeds to throw Booker out as the ref recovers in time to see it, so the bell is called for at 11:38. Christian is the new Intercontinental Champion! The battle royal that served its purpose in getting Christian over as a heel that would do anything to win, while setting up a ready made feud over the reinstated championship with Booker T. Christian would really grow into a solid singles heel in 2003, and this is pretty much the start of that, after playing lackey to Jericho for most of the year thus far.
Grade: **

In the skybox yet again, Bischoff is feeling the effects of the beers as Austin gives him some pizza. He then gives him a jalapeño which fires Bischoff's mouth up. He asks for water, so Austin gives him the jar of liquid that the jalapeños were in to make it even worse. Just more of Austin having fun at Eric's expense after the abuse of power he performed in recent months.

Backstage we see Torrie Wilson getting ready for the upcoming bikini contest when Sable walks in. Sable rubs oil on herself in a suggestive manner before Torrie walks off. That's coming up next and we get a video package looking at their recent interactions.

Bikini Contest:
Torrie Wilson vs Sable

We saw Sable stirring problems with Torrie last month at Backlash with the whole Stacy/Test debacle, and the two have since developed a little rivalry on Smackdown, with Sable playing seductive mind games with everybody's favourite girl from Idaho. There's not much more to say about why this is happening than that. Tazz is the host of this in the ring, much to the chagrin of Lawler I'm sure. Torrie actually gets a pretty big entrance here as Lillian Garcia sings her theme live in the arena. She recorded Torrie's theme song in case you didn't know. Speaking of Torrie, she is absolutely gorgeous. One of the most beautiful women in wrestling history for sure. Sable looks good as well, but her peak was during the Attitude era in my view. Anyway, both women disrobe into their bikinis and the fan vote is fairly even. That is until Torrie undresses further to show an even more revealing outfit. That gives her the win by fan response. Afterwards, Torrie tells Sable that she doesn't want there to be any hard feelings, and so she plants a seductive kiss on her as the crowd goes wild. I can't seem to remember this going on much further from here, as both women would be involved in different things the next time Smackdown was on PPV.

Backstage, Sean O'Haire is with his mentor, Roddy Piper, prior to his upcoming match. Mr McMahon walks in and gives Piper a pep talk. We also saw footage from Smackdown of Piper and O'Haire ripping off the prosthetic leg of a one legged young man named Zach Gowan, which Vince scalded them for.

Mr America w/Zach Gowen vs Roddy Piper w/Sean O'Haire
The feud between Hulk Hogan and Mr McMahon continues on through this match, although the rivalry will actually come to an abrupt halt soon enough. For now however, lets recap how we got here. Of course, Hogan beat Vince at Mania, but on the next episode of Smackdown, a vindictive Mr McMahon ordered Hogan home to sit out the remainder of his contract. Not long after that though a series of vignettes began airing each week hyping the debut of a new masked superstar named Mr America. It was quite clearly Hogan, and he even used "Real American" as his theme music. A few weeks before this PPV, America made his debut on an episode of Piper's Pit, after Stephanie McMahon claimed she had signed him to a contract without ever seeing his face. Vince interrupted the talk show and threatened to fire America, but he responded by saying he had an iron clad contract courtesy of Stephanie. This infuriated Vince, and he attacked America with the assistance of Piper & O'Haire, but they were unsuccessful in unmasking him. The following week, Stephanie McMahon conceded that if Vince proved that Mr America was Hogan, his contract would be terminated, however until that was the case, he was a signed member of the roster. In an attempt to pull of the facade, Hogan himself called in via satellite on an episode of Smackdown and denied having any affiliation with Mr America. Sick of his long time adversary's games, Piper challenged America to a match at Judgment Day the next week. America accepted the challenge, but Piper added fuel to the fire by attacking a "Hogan fan" at ringside and pulling at his leg. The leg would indeed be pulled right off, as that "fan" was Zach Gowen, a recently signed one legged wrestler on the indie scene. Speaking of Gowan, he's in Mr America's corner for this match, while O'Haire is obviously there to support Piper. If you go into this match expecting great workrate, you're definitely going to be disappointed, but if you were expecting that in the first place I don't know what to say. Both men are well past their prime, so this was more a novelty match than anything else. They keep it short, and because of that I don't mind this being on the card, even if it did dominate a fair bit of time on Smackdown each week heading into the PPV. Throughout 2003, Smackdown was getting more of the crazy storyline influence that had been restricted mostly to Raw since the brand extension, due to Vince being more affiliated with the blue brand in this stretch of time, with Austin and Bischoff holding the fort on Mondays. Anyway, America fights off O'Haire's interference during the match which brings Vince out shortly after. He hands O'Haire a lead pipe, but as he gets in the ring he accidentally nails Piper with it instead of Mr America. From there, America follows up with the legdrop and goes for the pin. Vince tries to break it up, but Gowen steps in and pulls Vince back, allowing Mr America to get the victory while retaining his identity at 4:58. As I said, they didn't take up too much time, so I'm fine with what they did here even if it wasn't even an average match from a quality perspective. This was a brief legends spectacle. In the long run it doesn't lead anywhere though. Thats because shortly after this show Hogan and Vince had a disagreement behind the scenes which led to Hogan leaving the company for a few years. Piper was also let go not long afterwards after making some comments that didn't portray the company in a positive light in a media appearance. With Piper gone, O'Haire would fade into the background as well. Meanwhile the feud would shift more towards Vince vs Stephanie over the next few months. Mr America's sudden disappearance in the summer would be explained by McMahon showing footage of Hogan taking off the mask on a house show, thus exposing his identity. A whimper to end this feud that was quite a big deal back at Mania.
Grade: *

With the World title match up next, Triple H is backstage on the way to the curtain when he runs into Stephanie McMahon. Stephanie tells him to be careful out there against Nash. A nice nod to their history. Of course, behind the scenes they were a few months away from getting married at this time. That leads us into a video package for Triple H/Nash.

World Heavyweight Championship:
Triple H (c) w/Ric Flair vs Kevin Nash w/Shawn Michaels

Our main event from Raw sees the continuation of the friendship gone bad between Triple H and Kevin Nash. Last month at Backlash, Triple H pinned Nash in six man tag team action courtesy of a sledgehammer shot to the skull. Nash would get a measure of revenge the night after on Raw however as he interfered in a World Tag Team Championship match pitting Rob Van Dam & Kane against Triple H & Ric Flair. Nash chased the Game from ringside all the way to his limo where the World Champion sped out of the arena. The following week, Chris Jericho had Nash on his new talk show, the Highlight Reel, however he invited Triple H out to the party as well. Jericho gave the unexpecting Nash a low blow before the Game began beating his former friend down. Nash would fight him off however, and once again would chase Triple H out of the arena and onto the streets, where Triple H would steal a car to get out of dodge. Tensions continued to grow on the Raw before this show as Kevin Nash squared off against Jericho. Triple H and Flair would interfere, but Shawn Michaels would come to Big Daddy Cool's aid to even the odds. Nash would level Triple H with the jackknife to have the momentum heading into this championship contest. I will say that it is strange that they had Michaels relegated to accompanying Nash to ringside here rather than being involved in a match on the PPV of his own. Over the past few shows we've really started to see a whole bunch of key players left off the PPVs each month, which was a sign the brand specific PPVs were a good idea at the time, even if one show had a lot less to fill the extra time with. But thats a story for another review. As far as the match goes, I mentioned last month that Nash really wasn't suited for a top level feud against Triple H, who himself was not at his best in the ring during this stretch. That is evident here, as we get a fairly dull PPV encounter, with Shawn and Flair out at ringside to keep things interesting. In fact, Shawn gets a considerably larger pop than Nash as he comes out separately. That's understandable since he's Shawn, but I'd say of the four men out there, Nash probably got the quietest reaction. Despite starting out with all four men brawling, it quickly ends as the referee ejects both Michaels and Flair from ringside, allowing the boredom to set in. That's never a good sign in a major championship match. Most of the contest is Nash just dominating the champion, who resorts to whatever cheating tactics he can to keep a grasp on his title. After some early Nash control, the referee gets bumped which allows the Game to take control courtesy of a low blow. He follows that up with a Pedigree, but when Nash subsequently kicks out, the reaction still is not all that great. Meanwhile the Game becomes frustrated with his inability to put the challenger away, so in what has become something of a recurring trend in his title reign, he grabs the sledgehammer and nails Nash with it to cause the intentional disqualification at 7:25. Nash wins the match, but Triple H of course holds onto the title. Nash is pissed by that and he lays Triple H out after the match with a jackknife, which brings out medical staff to help the champ out. Nash chases them off as well though, not done with inflicting punishment on his former friend. He takes Triple H up to the Raw broadcast table near the entrance and delivers another jackknife, sending a message to the Game that this is far from over. We'll see these two meet again, as Triple H is just treading water until the contender that posed the biggest threat to his reign was brought into the title scene. That man is another superstar not on this show. As for what we got here, it was dull, but not actively awful like the Steiner matches earlier in the year. This was just there and seemed like something we had to get through, which is not want you want a major title match to be.
Grade: *1/2

We return to the skybox one more time as Bischoff has eaten way too punch. He leans up against the glass as Austin insults him some more. Bischoff ends up spewing over the fans out the window and that ends our Austin/Bischoff shenanigans for the night.

WWE Women's Championship:
Jazz (c) w/Theodore Long vs Trish Stratus vs Jacqueline vs Victoria w/Stevie Richards

Our last Raw match of the evening is clearly a filler match to spill the crowd over between the two major title matches with some divas action. Of course, Jazz defeated Trish at Backlash to become the Women's Champion thanks to some unconventional interference by her new manager, the hatorade drinking Theodore Long. Well now she must defend her title against two of the top contenders in the division....and Jacqueline who is just floating around aimlessly at this point. She wasn't even really involved in the feud here. After losing her title at Backlash, Trish asked Eric Bischoff for a rematch against Jazz, however the corrupt boss of Raw made her face him in a no DQ match to earn that title shot. Jazz and Victoria would both interfere in Bischoff's match against Trish, costing the popular former champ the victory. A week later however, Austin was introduced as the new co GM and he gave Trish her rightful rematch. Victoria interfered once again however, and thanks to that interference, Jazz managed to retain her title. The next week, Trish put a cap on her long standing rivalry with Victoria by defeating her in a street fight that saw a number of weapons brought into play like their hardcore contest at the Survivor Series. As a result of all that, this match was made. I guess they put in Jacqueline because they didn't want the same triple threat we saw at Mania. Anyway, the match is decent for the spot it filled on the card. Trish looks like she might be closing in on her title towards the end as she delivers a Chick Kick to the champion. Ultimately its not enough though, and Jazz successfully retains the gold following a DDT to Jacqueline at 4:48. I guess thats why she was in the match.
Grade: *3/4

The main event is up next, and we get a video package of the Brock/Show feud to set the stage.

WWE Championship - Stretcher Match:
Brock Lesnar (c) vs Big Show

Our main event of the evening is from the Smackdown brand and sees the WWE Championship on the line in a unique type of match that we have not yet seen on PPV. Indeed, the last stretcher match in WWE history at this point in time was all the way back in 1981 when the legendary Andre the Giant battled Killer Khan. Here we have the giant of the current generation reviving the stipulation, which all stemmed from his attack on a stretcher bound Rey Mysterio last month at Backlash. On the episode of Smackdown after that PPV, Brock Lesnar called Big Show out, saying that he should pick on somebody his own size rather than throwing his weight around. Show said he would only fight Brock if the WWE title was on the line, so Brock accepted the challenge the following week and added the stretcher stipulation. Essentially to win the match, you needed to place your opponent on a stretcher and push that stretcher across a line near the entrance. With his title shot secure, Show continued on a rampage heading into Judgment Day, as he faced Chris Benoit later that night. Along with an interfering A-Train, Show attacked Benoit and intended to put him out of action just like he did Rey, however Brock made the save. Despite this, Show would fight back and ultimately lay Brock out, giving him further momentum heading into the PPV. The next week, Big Show would make his presence felt yet again as he interrupted an interview with the recovering Rey Mysterio. Show stuck Rey to a stretcher and brought him out to the ring looking to inflict more damage, but Brock came to the smaller superstar's aid. The two opponents brawled using the stretcher and Brock hit an F-5 on his next challenger to take us to their encounter. So that sets the stage for what is a solid main event. I really have to make a note of how Big Show has turned his career around since coming to Smackdown late last year. He's never going to be the best guy in the ring, but prior to that move he was really struggling to do anything of note. Now he's a key player on Smackdown, and is arguably the top heel now that Kurt is on the sidelines. He's no stranger to Brock in the ring as they've had a few PPV outings over the past couple of months (of course, Show being the one who beat Brock back at Survivor Series to end his initial title reign in the first place), and by this point they've really developed some decent chemistry when working together. You might look at this match on paper and not expect much, but I enjoyed it quite a bit. Brock is still over big time as a babyface here as he gets a loud pop as his music hits, despite the mixed reaction he received at Backlash. Being against Show certainly helps since nobody wanted to see him win the title. He was a good challenger to give a solid title defence. Being a no DQ match, this turns into a brawl from the outset and both men use the stretcher along with other weapons to assault one another. Meanwhile Cole & Tazz are their usual great selves on commentary here as they play up Brock's disadvantage due to Show's weight being difficult to get on the stretcher and push it up the aisle. Brock seems to be on his way to overcoming this as he chokes Show out with a cable and puts him on the stretcher, but as he's pushed up the aisle, the cable pulling stops Brock in his tracks. Nonetheless, he continues to take the fight to Show and we get some stiff shots as the match continues. After numerous attempts at getting Show across the line on the stretcher to no avail, Brock actually walks to the back after taking a beating. The announcers wonder where he is going as Show is left alone in the ring when all of a sudden Rey Mysterio's music hits and he shows up to get some revenge on Show for the previous month with a 619. Show comes back and goes after him, but Brock shows up again commandeering a forklift to ringside. In a cool spot, Brock dives off the forklift and lands on Show and follows up with an F-5. With that, he gets Show onto the forklift and drives him across the line to retain the championship at 15:27. The reign of Brock Lesnar continues as we cap off the show with a fun title defence with a creative ending that played right into the story being told through the match. Good stuff that exceeded expectations.
Grade: ***1/2

Like the previous month's showing, Judgment Day 2003 was a mixed bag of a show. With that said, it was a better show than Backlash thanks to some good matches, particularly from the Smackdown brand. The ladder match is something of a forgotten gem that is well worth firing up the Network to check out, while the stretcher match was solid and definitely surpassed expectations at the time (and perhaps also what you might expect looking back in hindsight). Over on Raw we had a forgettable World title match which only served to continue a feud nobody really wanted to see continue at the time, but it was good to see the Intercontinental title brought back as well as some fun interaction between Bischoff and Austin in his new role. Again I have to say I'm surprised that some key players were nowhere to be seen on this show, especially with the exodus of big names following Mania season and The Rock last month. Shawn Michaels was relegated to showing up in Nash's corner and ejected right away, while Undertaker was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps the most head scratching move was the absence of Goldberg after his heavily hyped match against Rock last month. He was being groomed for the World title picture later in the year, but he could have had a squash match against a mid card heel to give him some further PPV exposure here. As I mentioned earlier, maybe the fact that these key players continued to be absent from PPVs was a sign that single branded shows were a good idea. We'll see how that plays out over the next few reviews as the next time we have a co-branded event will be SummerSlam. Overall, a fun show to throw in with some good stuff mixed in with some uneventful stuff.

Three Stars of the Night:
1. Eddie Guerrero & Tajiri - a really fun team that was thrown together on short notice and had an excellent showing in a great ladder match.
2. Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas - becoming regulars in this section. Another great performance by two young athletes.
3. Brock Lesnar - a solid title defence with a creative finish.

FINAL GRADE: 5.5 out of 10

What I do here is add the three stars of the night with each review so as to keep track of who we can say overall is the greatest PPV performer to any given time. First place scores 3 points, second 2 and third 1.

Steve Austin = 113
Bret Hart = 83
Shawn Michaels = 77
The Rock = 75
Triple H = 66
Kurt Angle = 47
Mick Foley = 38
Chris Jericho = 32
Undertaker = 31
Chris Benoit = 31
Randy Savage = 28
Hulk Hogan = 25
Owen Hart = 21
Edge = 19
X-Pac = 18
Jeff Hardy = 16
Diesel = 15
Matt Hardy = 14
Ultimate Warrior = 13
Vader = 13
British Bulldog = 12
Christian = 12
Brock Lesnar = 11
Ted DiBiase = 10
Razor Ramon = 10
Vince McMahon = 10
Eddie Guerrero = 10
Ric Flair = 8
Jim Neidhart = 7
Bubba Ray Dudley = 7
D-Von Dudley = 7
Rob Van Dam = 7
Jerry Lawler = 6
Dynamite Kid = 5
Arn Anderson = 5
Roddy Piper = 5
Mr Perfect = 5
Marty Jannetty = 5
Bob Backlund = 5
Shane McMahon = 5
Ricky Steamboat = 4
Ax = 4
Smash = 4
Bobby Heenan = 4
D’Lo Brown = 4
Rikishi = 4
Kane = 4
Chavo Guerrero = 4
Shelton Benjamin = 4
Charlie Haas = 4
Greg Valentine = 3
Tully Blanchard = 3
Tanaka = 3
Bam Bam Bigelow = 3
Sato = 3
Jake Roberts = 3
Hakushi = 3
Yokozuna = 3
Savio Vega = 3
Ken Shamrock = 3
Chyna = 3
Tajiri = 3
Brutus Beefcake = 2
Paul Orndorff = 2
Andre the Giant = 2
Rick Rude = 2
Sgt Slaughter = 2
Jeff Jarrett = 2
Rey Mysterio = 2
Jesse Ventura = 1
Texas Tornado = 1
Tito Santana = 1
Virgil = 1
Scott Steiner = 1
Rick Steiner = 1
Lex Luger = 1
The Roadie = 1
Billy Gunn = 1
Bart Gunn = 1
Marc Mero = 1
Flash Funk = 1
Animal = 1
Hawk = 1
Taka Michinoku = 1
Test = 1
Big Show = 1
Dean Malenko = 1
Scotty 2 Hotty = 1
Rhyno = 1

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