WWE Royal Rumble ‘03
January 19, 2003
It was a tale of two World Title matches. One was perhaps of the best of the year. One was perhaps the worst of the year.
Scott Steiner had just come back into WWE in late 2002 with a lot of pomp circumstance. He was built as a hot free agent that ultimately signed with the RAW brand and immediately positioned as the top challenger for Triple H’s World Heavyweight Championship. The two were kept separate in matches, and Steiner was highly protected leading up to this point. We all learned why as the match progressed. Steiner was grossly out of shape, over matched, lacking actual technical wrestling skill and far too reliant on the overhead suplex as his only offensive weapon. In the nearly twenty minute match, Steiner wore down progressively worse and worse while the incredibly hated Triple H gained more and more fans from a jaded Boston crowd. Mercifully Triple H finally hit Steiner with a sledgehammer to end the abomination.
Thankfully moments later the taste of the match was washed away by the pure professional wrestling exhibition between WWE Champion Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit. While it is still uncomfortable to some extent to talk about Chris Benoit’s in-ring accomplishments and in-ring prowess, at the time this was truly a masterpiece. The two men had amazing matches together both as tag team partners and as opponents. This may have been the best of their best. Even in a loss Benoit earned a standing ovation from the crowd.
But in reality this was a show that demonstrated that this was Brock Lesnar’s world, and we were just living in it. He opened the show by beating his archrival The Big Show in a sub-ten minute match to earn the thirtieth and final spot in the Royal Rumble match.
With this being the first Rumble event held under the brand expansion, Rumble spots were a lot more exclusive and hard to come by. So this established the importance of just being allowed in the match, let alone winning it.
Lesnar entered the match at enviable spot of #29. He immediately was treated like a huge deal and eliminated three men in seconds. It came down to a stacked final six of A-Train, Rob Van Dam, Kane, Batista, Undertaker and Lesnar. After some heavyweights throwing each other around it whittled to Lesnar and The Undertaker. Thanks to a distraction from a previously eliminated Batista, Lesnar got the victory and the main event WWE Title match at WrestleMania XIX.
It was just another impressive chapter of domination in Lesnar’s march through WWE. Lesnar had only been in WWE less than a year at this point, and he had already won the King of the Ring, “retired” Hulk Hogan, won the WWE Championship and now won the prestigious Royal Rumble match en route to main eventing his first WrestleMania.
– Spike Dudley beat Stevie Richards on Sunday Night Heat before the pay per view went live on the air.
– Brock Lesnar beat The Big Show.
– Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley beat World Tag Team Champions Lance Storm & William Regal to win the Championships.
– Torrie Wilson beat Dawn Marie.
– Scott Steiner beat World Heavyweight Champion Triple H by disqualification.
– WWE Champion Kurt Angle beat Chris Benoit.
– Brock Lesnar won the 30-man Royal Rumble match last eliminating The Undertaker. Other participants included Rey Mysterio, Bill Demott, Christian, Tommy Dreamer, Tajiri, Chavo Guerrero, Jeff Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Goldust, Rosey, Chris Nowinski, Shawn Michaels, A-Train, Rikishi, Rob Van Dam, Eddie Guerrero, Bull Buchanan, Chris Jericho, Jamal, Batista, Matt Hardy, John Cena, Jamal, Booker T, Charlie Haas, Maven, Edge and Kane.