Torch Flashbacks WWE PPV FLASHBACK - Kane's Previous Ambulance Match (Survivor Series '03): Triple H vs. Goldberg, Taker vs. Vince, Shane vs. Kane; Roundtable Reviews
Feb 19, 2012 - 3:21:29 PM
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Ahead of Kane vs. John Cena at the Elimination Chamber PPV tonight, get caught up on Kane's previous Ambulance Match from nearly a decade ago at the 2003 Survivor Series.
WWE SURVIVOR SERIES REPORT
November 16, 2003
Dallas, Tex. at American Airlines Arena
Report by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Michael Cole and Tazz introduced the show.
(1) Team Angle (Chris Benoit & John Cena & Bradshaw & Hardcore Holly & Kurt Angle) beat Team Lesnar (Brock Lesnar & Nathan Jones & Matt Morgan & A-Train & Big Show) at 13:17. Holly was DQ'd for attacking Brock before the bell. In the opening minutes, Bradshaw pinned A-Train after a Clothesline from Hell, then Big Show quickly clotheslined Bradshaw and pinned him. Morgan and Jones took turns on beating Cena, but they were the next eliminated (Angle pinned Morgan, Jones tapped out to Angle). The final four were Benoit & Cena vs. Show & Lesnar. Lesnar tapped out to a Crippler Crossface from Benoit. Cena then gave Show an FU (barely getting him up) for the clean win. Really good ten-man tag match. (***1/2)
Vince McMahon tried to bond with Shane McMahon backstage. Shane wasn't going for it.
(2) Molly Holly pinned Lita at 6:51 to retain the WWE Women's Title. Molly rammed Lita into an exposed turnbuckle. (*3/4)
(3) Kane beat Shane McMahon at 13:25 in an ambulance match. An ambulance pulled up in the aisle and to win, you had to put your opponent in there and close the doors. Shane dove onto Kane, sending both flying to the floor to start the match. They brawled backstage and then back to the aisle and around the ambulance. Shane's biggest two spots were a dive off the top rope onto Kane on the Spanish table and a dive off the ambulance knocking a crate into Kane (sort of). No bleeding, and in the end Kane shoved Shane into the ambulance for the clean win after a Tombstone on the floor. Anticlimactic considering the build-up. It dragged, and the crowd was pretty flat for it. (**)
Josh Matthews interviewed Brock backstage. Goldberg interrupted and introduced himself. Brock didn't talk back. Nice seed planting for the future.
The Coach walked to the ring wearing a neck brace and rambled for a minute, then he interviewed Dallas Mavericks' owner Mark Cuban at ringside. When Cuban endorsed Steve Austin, Eric Bischoff came out. Cuban shoved Bischoff, then Randy Orton gave Cuban his finisher. Cuban took the bump nicely.
Batista, Ric Flair, and Hunter partied backstage with women. Orton entered to brag about what he did.
(4) The Bashams beat Eddie & Chavo Guerrero to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles at 9:00. Chavo mistakenly kicked Eddie. When he turned to tend to him, he got rolled up by Danny and with a yank of the tights, he was pinned. (*3/4)
Ross and Lawler said Shane needed a CAT scan.
(5) Team Bischoff (Randy Orton & Mark Henry (w/Teddy Long) & Scott Steiner (w/Stacy) & Christian & Chris Jericho) beat Team Austin (Booker T & Rob Van Dam & The Dudleys & Shawn Michaels) at 27:04. Booker pinned Steiner after a Bookend, then Henry pinned Booker right away after a powerslam. The Dudleys eliminated Henry at 9:45. Orton finished off RVD at 11:30 and then Jericho finished off D-Von. That left Orton & Christian & Jericho vs. Bubba & Michaels. Michaels hadn't been in at all, Christian very little. Christian pinned Bubba at 16:15, leaving just Michaels. Michaels bladed after a catapult into the ringpost at 17:00. Michaels came back with a surprise DDT on Jericho and made a comeback, pinning Christian after a Superkick out of nowhere. Michaels later rolled up Jericho for a three count. At 24:00, it was Orton vs. Michaels. The ref went down, Bischoff interfered, Austin fought him to the back, Batista interfered on Michaels, and Orton scored the pin. Good finishing sequence. Overall good match. (***3/4)
Austin gave a nice farewell speech to the crowd.
(6) Vince McMahon beat Undertaker at 11:47 in a Buried Alive match. McMahon bled very heavily from the opening seconds. Taker dominated except after a low blow by Vince. Kane interfered at the end by helping Vince out of the hole and sending him away. Kane then stood over Taker in the hole. Tazz pointed out it was no DQ, no countout, so Kane could legally interfere and pour the dirt on Taker. Cole said, "But that's Undertaker's brother!" Kane then poured the dirt over Taker, completely filling the hole. The bell rang and Cole said, "Undertaker has been buried alive." (*)
(7) Goldberg pinned Triple H (w/Ric Flair) at 11:45 to retain the World Hvt. Title. Goldberg dominated early. Hunter came back and worked over Goldberg's ankle. Goldberg fended off Orton's interference late, and then hit a Spear and Jackhammer for a decisive win. Smartly booked given the limitations of those involved. (**)
PWTorch 2003 Staff Roundtable Reviews
Jason Powell, assistant editor (6.5)
This show was well on its way to earning at least a 7.5 score, only to have the Steve Austin retirement take the wind out of the live crowd's sail. Once Austin said his goodbyes, the final three matches played to very little crowd heat, which did at least a point's worth of damage to the overall event. What's so frustrating about the Austin retirement is that it's clearly just the latest example of the company promoting a stipulation it has no intention of living up to, as there is no doubt that Austin will be returning at some point. No matter what WWE has planned upon Austin's return, it will not justify the decision to back out on yet another stipulation.
WWE has been going against their own stipulations for so long that I'm surprised the live crowd took Austin's retirement seriously. When Austin returns sooner than later, the fans will realize once and for all that WWE stipulations are just con taglines designed to increase pay-per-view buyrates. And sooner or later, WWE is going to face a situation where they are serious about the stipulation of one of their matches, only to have the fans balk after thinking back to the multiple firings of Stephanie McMahon and Jim Ross, Kevin Nash's bogus head shaving, and the numerious additional stipulations the company has failed to live up to. And when this situation does come up, WWE will only have to look back on the old tale of the little boy who cried wolf for an explanation as to why no one is taking them seriously.
Notes: Although the Austin retirement played some part, Vince McMahon must also share in the blame for the live crowd's lack of reaction to his match with Undertaker. The character Vince has played over the last month isn't a great heel, but rather a twisted creation from a man who cares more about entertaining himself than the audience. And Vince's blade job might have helped the match if it hadn't come three seconds into the match and only a few minutes after the fans saw Shawn Michaels cut deeper...
Speaking of Michaels, he delivered the standout performance of the night and made the Raw Survivor Series match surprisingly entertaining. On the other hand, the Smackdown Survivor Series match was nothing special due to some of the quick eliminations. And while it was nice to see Benoit score a submission win over Brock Lesnar, it was a half-hearted attempt by WWE to launch a feud they obviously aren't excited about. With Lesnar's tapout loss to Kurt Angle still fresh in the minds of the fans, Benoit's win (which wasn't even the final fall of the match) didn't seem like a major happening...
Fun skit with Mark Cuban who, unlike some other owners (cough, McMahons, cough), actually did the right thing for WWE business... Batista appears to be the breakout heel that Randy Orton was supposed to be. Orton had a good night, but Batistia is really starting to click... One of the strengths of the show were the subtle teases between the wrestlers for the Raw vs. Smackdown matches at WrestleMania. On the other hand, I could have done without the corny shots that the announcers took at their opposing brands... The best thing about this show is that Stephanie McMahon did not make her expected return. Second best thing is that Mr. Steph did the right thing...
Bruce Mitchell, Torch senior columnist (6.0)
The Red Turns To Green Survivor Series show was worth seeing just for the Steve Austin 10 Man Invitational and its aftermath. That was one of the best matches of the year. It was booked well and a bloody Shawn Michaels performance really sent it over the top. Austin acted liked a guy who really lost his career.
The rest of the show was just kind of there. Molly should have won. Lita hasn't shown she can do much since she's been back.
The Team Lug match wasn't that good. Shane and Kane was the same showoff crap we always get from the son of the owner. I enjoy the mark-like souvenir jerseys he makes for himself to commemorate his pay-per-view matches. Mr. McMahon vs. Undertaker was less of a match than his son's, just a gore fest. That can't be good for that old man.
Los Guerreros vs. The Bashams cut off just when it was getting started. Triple H's challenge of Goldberg wasn't much good, even with the built in excuse of the "broken" ankle. WWE still isn't letting Goldberg be Goldberg, but then it's probably a moot point now.
Pat McNeill, Torch columnist (8.0)
How about that? I guess the honeymoon really is over, and it wasn't just a clever sign in the crowd. More to the point, it looks like Triple H really is going away to make movies for a while. As a result, WWE actually spent this PPV building up for next month's PPV. Bill Goldberg got to pin Triple H cleanly and mow down Evolution in the process. Kane scored a clean and convincing victory over Shane McMahon and got to eliminate his longtime nemesis, the Undertaker - at least for a few months. If you're not crazy about the finish to the ambulance match, here are a couple of points to consider.
After all of the gimmicks in this feud, it might seem anticlimactic to have Kane win with the Tombstone, but the focus of the match and even the focus of the prematch video package was to show how devastating Kane's Tombstone piledriver is. Putting the heat on the heel's finishing move is never a bad strategy. Second, Jim Ross really hammered home the importance of the match and stated that if Shane McMahon couldn't stop Kane, who could? If the McMahon family is going to get pushed at this ridiculous level, it's only fair that a victory over a McMahon in a big match should be treated like an important event.
For the most part WWE put the emphasis on working smart tonight. Shane McMahon was obviously the exception since he got to do his ridiculous late-'90s highspots, but they ultimately didn't help him win. The Raw ten man tag match was one of the best WWE-style matches of the year. I question the idea of building the whole thing around Shawn Michaels, but HBK delivered. Of course, nobody believes that Austin will be departing WWE, but Stone Cold sold the whole thing like the real life pre-WrestleMania panic attacks. Since it was entertaining and well put together, WWE deserves the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks.
Was it Blood Night tonight, or something? Vince McMahon bladed like he was out to top the incredible Shawn Michaels juice job from the previous match. Whatever you say about Mr. McMahon, you can't say he disrespected Undertaker. He bled all over ringside, scored minimal offense, and needed a whole lot of outside interference for the win. This was one of the best WWE PPVs in recent memory and everyone involved deserves a round of applause.
Wade Keller, Torch editor (7.0)
This was a show where the star ratings don't tell the whole story. This event had a big-event feel to it. Not a WrestleMania level event, but something more than the brand-exclusive PPVs. Obviously, WWE would like everyone to order every event, but that's not within everyone's budget or interest level. They've now formatted PPVs in a way where a whole segment of fans can feel they're seeing the biggest events WWE offers if they order the Big Four, whereas perhaps before they would have only ordered WrestleMania. Nobody knows for sure what the effect is because statistics don't reveal such information decisively because there are too many other factors.
The biggest happening on the show was Steve Austin's post-match farewell speech. WWE did a great job overall selling the loss by Team Austin. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were very good in making it seem Austin really was leaving. The timing of his autobiography is perfect, because it almost seems like his memoirs and all that's needed now is an additional chapter for the final year of his career added to the paperback. I don't know where they're going from here with Austin, but I'm intrigued. I hope they've put some thought into this since, as Jason wrote, they did sell the event based on the stipulation in that match, and if they blatantly ignore the stip and have a lame copout, it will damage their ability to sell future events on monumental stipulations because nobody will take them seriously.
The two ten-man tag matches were really good. They both told the story they needed to tell and did so well without overstaying their welcome. I'm not as high on the Raw match as Bruce is, but I do think it was a very good match in and of itself, even setting aside the Austin post-match angle.
The Vince McMahon vs. Undertaker spectacle was what it needed to be. Given the importance of Vince and Taker to WWE over its history, they were at the right place on the card. It was correct to have Taker beat Vince senseless. The blade job was incredible, and if you're into that thing, it was a classic PPV moment. If you're not, it was probably an excessive turnoff. The finish with Kane was a bit of a screwjob, but given the history between those two, it's acceptable. I do find it weird that we got an update on Shane McMahon's condition at the hospital, but not Undertaker's condition underneath all the dirt. Is the ghost of Undertaker going to haunt Kane until WM20?
The Shane vs. Kane match was as ridiculous as their past stuff, yet less spectacular. The angles leading up to the match suggested that the blowoff match would feature something really special, like the ambulance being dropped from the ceiling, or exploding, or something. Instead, the finish was a bit flat and the spots leading up to it were "been there, seen that." That's the deadly fault of Shane's whole style - there's just only so far you can go and then you're left with crowd's being letdown because you don't literally sever an arm or swallow glass.
The World Title main event was what it needed to be and was just enough to be an acceptable main event. It had all the big moves. Flair, Batista, and Orton added an energy to the match that Goldberg and Hunter alone wouldn't have been able to provide. The decisive pin gives Goldberg a sense of legitimacy as champion he didn't have before.
The other two matches - the women's title and tag title bouts - were acceptable. They didn't take away from the show, but they seemed like general TV matches.
John Cena and Chris Benoit were established in the opener as two top level babyfaces on Smackdown who will be vying for opportunities at Lesnar. The handshake meant something at the end of the match.
A well-booked, logical show, but now WWE has to provide some compelling follow-up.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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