Our latest #BACKFILL review looks at a show from over thirteen years ago, as we recap Insurrextion 2003. Held in June, this was one of the two annual UK-only pay-per-views that WWE used to run, back before they replaced it with bi-annual Raw and SmackDown tapings.

I was (un)lucky enough to be at this particular show, at Newcastle Arena. This, of course, was about a year after WWE’s original brand split, and this show had been given over to Raw talent.

We opened with an “in memory of” graphic, as the show was dedicated to “Classy” Freddie Blassie, who’d passed away days beforehand, and then it was into another product of it’s time: the co-Raw general manager mugshots of Eric Bischoff (boo) and Stone Cold Steve Austin (yay) at the end of the WWE title sequence.

The pre-show video package includes the return of Kevin Nash, Steve Austin’s appointment as co-General Manager, and some footage I swear they reused for last year’s NXT London shows. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary, whilst Howard Finkel is your ring announcer and we start with the women:

WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Jazz (c)
I had completely obliterated any memories that Teddy Long was a manager in WWE for a while – here he was cornering the champion Jazz, long before he had a penchant for tag team matches.

Basic stuff at the start, with Trish taking down Jazz with a La Magistral for a near-fall, as the champion enjoyed a good period of offence. Teddy Long tripped Trish as she came off the ropes, allowing Jazz back into it, scoring a legdrop for a near-fall on Trish.

The pace considerably slowed when Jazz went for a rear chinlock, but Trish came back with a Thesz press, then a schoolboy for a two-count after Jazz missed a splash in the corner. The champion recovered to slingshot Trish into the middle rope, before a suplex got her a two-count. Trish found herself caught in a Boston crab as the crowd started to make a little noise, cheering when Trish made the rope.

Trish gained a near-fall with a handstand into a hrricanrana out of the corner, then a Chick Kick for another two-count. However, another Chick Kick was blocked and turned into an awkward Boston Crab, which after a messy reversal, Trish reversed, and ended up in the STF. Jazz was about to tap, but Victoria ran down, giving Teddy Long the chance to run in and throw Trish into the ringpost, and it was an academic win for Jazz there.

This was good while it lasted, but Trish wasn’t quite there yet in the ring, slipping at just the wrong moments. **1/2

We get a video package showing his Christian cheated his way to win the revived Intercontinental championship – leading into his defence against Booker T.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Booker T vs. Christian (c)
Oh lord, my DVD copy of this has the horrific dubbed over music for Booker T, presumably because they didn’t want to pay for the old Harlem Heat music. Christian’s got his old slowed down music, as we’re still fairly young into his singles run.

They start posing with the title belt after the bell had rung, and Jerry Lawler’s commentary was already veering on the stereotypical and racist before they’d even touched. Once we got underway, they started out slow and plodding, with a fair amount of stalling. Booker T held onto a headlock for grim death, with Christian bailing to the floor as soon as he got himself free.

Christian got slingshotted into the turnbuckles for a near-fall, but worked back into it, taking down Booker with a rear chinlock. Booker freed himself, but missed a jumping kick, with Christian ducking as Booker T sent himself flying to the floor. Another rear chinlock kept the tempo down, but Christian made a mistake in trying to go airborne, getting nothing but a jumping leg kick from Booker on the way down.

Booker made a comeback, getting a near-fall from a sidewalk slam, and again from a head kick. Booker leapt over Christian in the corner, getting a two-count from a sunset flip-like roll-up, before Christian hit a reverse DDT for a two-count. Christian almost got rolled up by Booker, who followed up with a flapjack and a spinaroonie.

A scissors kick to Christian ended in a ref bump, meaning that nobody could count as Booker came in with a missile dropkick, eventually getting Booker a two-count. The end came when Christian moved away from a scissor’s kick, and reversing a roll-up – whilst grabbing the rope – to get the win. This could have been so much better, but it just felt like a house show match as opposed to anything near TV. **1/4

We go to a backstage promo with Steve Austin and Teddy Long – with so much crowd noise that didn’t fit anything that was being said. There was no reaction to the announcement that Teddy Long was being added to the card, as we now had a six-man tag with Rodney Mack, Chris Nowinski and Teddy Long against all three Dudley Boyz.

WWE World Tag Team Championship: La Resistance (Rene Dupree & Sylvain Grenier) vs. Rob Van Dam & Kane (c)
Ah, the era of mish-mash tag teams – and the era of Kane preparing to get unmasked and become a monster. The pre-show video package shows Kane being slapped by Steve Austin, but not chokeslamming him… and getting a Stunner for good measure.

Ah yes (part two): La Resistance. The team that could have gotten somewhere, had it not been for their age and inexperience getting in the way. Easy cheap heat from La Resistance, as we get more dubbed music as Rob Van Dam and Kane get separate entrances. There’s your big network negative right there: dubbed entrances!

Simple stuff from RVD at the start, armdragging Dupree before he staggers into the corner to avoid a kick. RVD follows up with kicks and a monkey flip before Grenier comes in to take a couple of kicks, but Kane gets tagged in and makes short work of both members of La Resistance. A standing moonsault from RVD takes out Dupree, before the Rolling Thunder senton sees Grenier roll out of the ring to relative safety – well, at least until Kane whips RVD into the ropes, as he goes flying with a somersault plancha to the challengers.

Back in the ring, La Resistance started double-teaming Van Dam, with Dupree dropping several elbows to RVD’s head as the Newcastle crowd chanted “we hate Frenchies”. Welcome to 2003!

More double-teaming follows before Dupree grounds Van Dam with a rear-chinlock as the match firmly shifts into time-killing territory, but RVD hits an enziguiri to take down Dupree, then a rewind enziguiri to Grenier before making the hot tag to Kane. Somewhere in here, JR mentions what happened “last night on Raw” – keeping kayfabe alive since Raw was only on Fridays in the UK at this point!

Dupree attacked Kane to prevent a chokeslam to Grenier, and La Resistance hit a double-team spinebuster on Kane for a near-fall as Van Dam made the save. An attempt to charge into Dupree in the corner led to the most awkward back body drop I’ve seen in some time, as Van Dam tumbled out of the ring, but Kane was able to hit the double chokeslam to Grenier and Dupree regardless. One tag to Van Dam later, and a Five Star Frog Splash on Grenier was enough for the champions to retain. Just a house show match that happened to be on TV – which was the trend for these UK-only shows. **¾

We then go backstage to see Al Snow as a backstage interviewer. What the hell? Standard promo with the Tourettes/stuttering Goldust gimmick in full force. I guess WWE thought Al Snow was better just holding a microphone at this point in his career?

Rico vs. Goldust
Another definition of “house show match”, I’m afraid. Jim Ross teases the next segment – a Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho – so you can tell how much attention will be paid to this match. Earl Hebner is our ref, and he gets “You Screwed Bret” chants here in 2003, and that’s about as much as the crowd cared for things here.

Rico ran out to the apron early on, and returned to take a couple of hiptosses from Goldust. Reversing a wrist-lock, Rico went all out on the kicks, but ran into an inverted atomic drop, before slipping out of the Final Cut. Goldust followed in with a clothesline and another armdrag as he tried to keep his opponent grounded, but Rico was able to get out of trouble and wear down Goldust with a seated full nelson.

Goldust powered up to his feet quickly, and elbowed out of the hold, but Rico ducked a cross body block as Goldust went sailing out to the floor. A “flamboyant” backhand slap led to some more kicks from Rico for a near-fall, as he went to the old heel playbook for ways to cheat. Sadly, the Newcastle crowd genuinely didn’t care, as those “You Screwed Bret” chants were about the only thing audible here.

Goldust blocked a hiptoss and turned it into a backslide for a near-fall, but Rico quickly regained the advantage… until he missed a moonsault off the top rope. The comeback for Goldust was on from there, with a bulldog for a two-count, and he quickly went to the Shattered Dreams kick, but Hebner stood in the way to block the move, allowing Rico to free himself. A jumping hip attack took down Rico, as Goldust scored a two-count from a spinebuster variation, before Rico no-sold ten corner punches. A neckbreaker got a two-count for Rico despite using the ropes, but Goldust pulled out the win out of nothing with a powerslam as Rico came out of the turnbuckles. Something tells me someone backstage just wanted this to end… as did I! Not bad, but not good either. *¾

We jump cut to Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler at the commentary desk as they take us to a video package in memory of the recently-departed “Classy” Freddie Blassie. This wasn’t the same one they used at the show, but the talking-head video was cheaper to replay than the Evanescence music video they used at the time.

The Highlight Reel with Chris Jericho follows next. Not much to write home about, Jericho pulls out the “local references”, going all heel on the Newcastle fans by calling them “tossers”. Local knowledge came in as Jericho trashed Newcastle for losing their “European Capital of Culture” bid, along with the then-Newcastle United manager Bobby Robson. Once he’d checked off all of his local references, Jericho brought out Eric Bischoff. Standard fare, as I said, with the only memorable moment coming when Steve Austin came out and shared a beer with Jericho after he’d gotten the crowd to say “doo wah diddy diddy dum diddy doo”. Stunner to Bischoff and Jericho, and we’re good.

Rodney Mack, Chris Nowinski & Theodore Long vs. Bubba Ray Dudley, D-Von Dudley and Spike Dudley
The gimmick here was that this was meant to be a tag match, with Theodore Long and Spike Dudley were added at short-notice. Nowinski was wearing a face-mask, and was in with Bubba Ray early, before the other two Dudleys cleared the ring. Spike Dudley went flying, courtesy of a Bubba Ray press-slam, and that was about the biggest highspot here.

Spike hit a battering-ram style headbutt to Nowinski’s midsection before dropkicking him into the corner, but Nowinski caught Spike’s crossbody and ended up with some double-team work with him and Mack. After suplexing Spike, Mack tagged in Teddy Long, who got in a couple of stomps before he hurriedly tagged in Nowinski, who trapped Spike in a bearhug.

Nowinski tried a Vader bomb-style knee drop, but got cut-off by Spike, who brought Bubba Ray back in to clear house with a backdrop and a sideslam. A double-team flapjack took out Nowinski, but Rodney Mack came in to save Teddy Long from a beating. Bubba pulled off his Dusty Rhodes tribute act on Nowinski, before Mack took the Whats Up headbutt. And to think, largely speaking, the Dudleyz are still doing this act in 2016!

Spike tried to take down Mack with a Dudley Dog, but it was countered into a powerslam – with Teddy Long unable to make the cover, and it was pretty much over from there as Spike escaped a forearm from Rodney Mack, who decked Teddy Long instead… and Spike took the win. Basic, but inoffensive. **

Post-match, Nowinski brought a table into the ring as the heels beat down the Dudleyz. Nowinski tried to suplex D-Von through the table, but he avoided it and instead the Harvard graduate took a 3D through the hardware.

Test vs. Scott Steiner (Special Guest Referee: Val Venis)
This match came about a week before 2003’s Bad Blood pay-per-view, where the two were meeting in a match “for the services” of Stacy Keibler. So all we got here was a continuation of their feud and a meaningless match to boot!

Test was a full blown heel here, and to be fair, if I’d been told to call my fans “Test-icles”, I’d be mad too. Oh, and Val Venis is the special guest referee, just for another throwback to the early 2000s!

Test jumped Scott Steiner as Stacy was leaving and re-entering the ring for the sake of some jokes from Jerry Lawler. An elbow drop from Steiner didn’t even get a pinfall attempt as he opted to do some push-ups, before Test rolled out to use Stacy as a human shield. Back inside, Test sent Steiner into the turnbuckle and clotheslined him, before using Val Venis’ towel to cover up Stacy for easy heat.

A short clothesline gets Test another two-count, and the pace slows down some more as he locks in a sleeperhold, forcing Steiner down to a knee. Steiner elbowed out and dropped Test with an overhead belly to belly suplex, and the highspot of the match – Stacy taking the towel off – led to Steiner’s comeback. Suplexes, slams and chops were the order of the day, as a belly to belly got Steiner a two-count.

Out of nowhere, Test drops Steiner with a full nelson slam, but the pin doesn’t count as Test’d had his feet on the ropes. Cue a shoving match, and a Steiner roll-up for a two, and Test goes to remove the turnbuckle pad, despite Keibler’s protestations. After Steiner accidentally knocked Stacy off the apron, a big boot put Steiner down for a two-count.

Test went outside for a chair, but Stacy popped up to disarm him… one Flatliner later, and Scott Steiner takes the win. There was little need for Val Venis here, apart from adding another body to the card. Hell, there was little need for this match, but we got it. *¾

Streetfight for the World Heavyweight Championship: Kevin Nash vs. Triple H (c)
Again, this was a warm-up to their Bad Blood match, with Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels (who had their own match at Bad Blood) appearing in the corners of Hunter and Nash respectively, albeit with a warning from Earl Hebner that they’d be ejected at the first sign of trouble.

Triple H was in his freshly-shaved era here, and immediately took a back elbow from Nash before being taken to the corner. A lackadaisical clothesline sent Hunter to the floor, and Flair immediately jumped in to choke Nash with his jacket… with Shawn Michaels in hot pursuit. Flair got sent into the ringpost, and he came up all bloodied, because someone’s got to provide some action here.

Nash clotheslined Flair and Hunter as they tried a double-team, but Michaels eliminated Flair again, as the two of them brawled up the aisle and to the backstage area. Sadly, that was the match most people probably would have wanted to see… instead, we were left with Nash and Hunter, who fought up the aisle as well.

Hunter got back dropped onto the entrance way as he tried to go for a Pedigree, but he fought back and disappeared on the stage… returning with a steel chair from the back, like a video game. Nash quickly grabbed the chair and used it on Hunter, before being sent towards the commentary area for some more brawling, and eventually back into the ring.

A half-hearted big boot sent Hunter to the mat, in prime position for an elbow drop for a near-fall. Hunter dropped Nash with a chop block to the knee, as Nash’s bad legs were targeted. Nash whipped Hunter into the corner, with the impact sending him flying out to the floor.

Nash followed, whipping Hunter into the ring steps, before bringing the steps into the ring… and Hunter ended up taking a drop toe hold into said steps as he tried to drop them across Nash. That was followed up with a stair shot to Hunter’s head, and now we have blood from “The Game”, which was only exacerbated by punches from Nash. A sidewalk slam got the challenger a two-count, and it wasn’t long before Earl Hebner took two bumps, as he was pancaked by Hunter, then Nash.

Kevin Nash signalled for the jack-knife powerbomb finisher, but took a low blow as Ric Flair returned down the aisle, with a steel chair in hand. That didn’t last long, as a big boot put paid to the Nature Boy, but the distraction allowed Hunter to whack him with the chair, just in time for another referee to make the two-count. Hunter replied by knocking down the referee, as he and Flair went to work on Nash, before Shawn Michaels returned to save the day.

A superkick from Shawn Michaels knocked Flair down on the outside, before more kicks prevented Hunter from using a sledgehammer he’d pulled from under the ring. Hunter ducked another superkick, then dropped Shawn with the Pedigree. Nash woke up and powerbombed Hunter, but with no ref, there was nobody able to make the cover.

Charles Robinson finally ran down to make the count, but was pulled out at two by Flair, who took some more punishment from Nash. As Nash set up for the powerbomb on Flair, Hunter ran in with a sledgehammer shot to the head, before Hunter slumped onto the challenger with one arm to get the pin. Utter garbage – when the best performers in the match were the cornermen, you know you were in trouble! *¾

Well, this was a fitting end to the era of UK-only pay-per-views. Insurrextion was the last pay-per-view to emanate from the UK (and I’m not counting the NXT specials either), and this was a real waste of time. A glorified house show with a better set and TV cameras does not a pay-per-view quality show make… and whatever I paid for my floor seats to this was just too much!

In all honesty, we were better off with the Raw and SmackDown tapings that replaced these – there was more chance of anything meaningful happening on those shows anyway!