The 2003 SummerSlam pay-per-view had a ton of hype surrounding it. Most of that hype came from the anticipated Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship. It features the following competitors:
- Triple H (World Heavyweight Champion)
- Kevin Nash
- Shawn Michaels
- Randy Orton
- Chris Jericho
HHH, Michaels, and Jericho had all been in the inaugural chamber match at Survivor Series the year before when HBK won the WHC, so they gave this match the “experience” factor.
Jericho and Nash were feuding prior to SummerSlam, so they were both placed in this. Orton and Triple H were aligned through the stable Evolution. HBK had a long rivalry going on with the latter as well. Goldberg and The Game were feuding for the WHC for awhile and had the match already scheduled for SummerSlam before Raw Co-GMs Eric Bischoff and Stone Cold Steve Austin made adjustments to their match.
This looked like it was going to be an all-time great main event at SummerSlam. Goldberg was already over with the WWE crowd after coming to the company just a few months prior. This seemed to be the opportunity to capitalize on his popularity.
Were going to skip to the part of the match where Triple H entered because there was not much to talk about for the first chunk of the match. It was fun but none of it really mattered in the end.
HHH’s pod would be opened, only to be immediately assaulted by HBK. The former, with assistance from Ric Flair, would lock himself in his pod while the other Superstars fought.
Fast-forward again but this time, it was when Goldberg entered the match.
For former WCW star would enter and unleash his fury on Michaels, Orton, and Jericho. Punch after punch was thrown that was laying out the three competitors. He destroyed the RKO specialist with a nasty spine-buster. About 30 seconds later, Orton would get speared and pinned to be eliminated. This left Triple H without his fellow Evolution teammate.
Michaels would start gaining momentum on Goldberg, only to attempt Sweet Chin Music, miss it, and get crushed by a spear. A Jackhammer would follow and lead to HBK being pinned. Jericho suffered the exact same fate.
This left HHH and Goldberg as the final two competitors.
POW! Goldberg kicked and punched open the door to the pod of The Game. The battle began.
GOLD-BERG! GOLD-BERG! GOLD-BERG! That chant soared through the America West Arena.
The two would trade hits back and forth with the crowd heavily towards Goldberg’s side.
They would go into the ring and while HHH was on his stomach, Flair would sneak a sledgehammer through the chamber. This was the specialty weapon of HHH.
Goldberg would charge him for a spear but with one single shot of the sledgehammer, he was down and out. Triple H would win and retain the title with a pin-fall victory.
That one shot symbolized how quickly the momentum behind Bill Goldberg went away. It was the height of his popularity in the company. He would defeat Triple H at Unforgiven for the WHC but the spark of it just wasn’t there. He would go onto defend the title for a few months, only to lose to HHH again at Armageddon. Eight months later, with a lot of lackluster feuds, Goldberg would leave the company and not be seen since.
Nash would undergo neck surgery after the match, get released by the company, and not be seen in WWE until 2011. Michaels would go onto wrestle for another 6+ years before retiring for good. Jericho’s career is on-going right now but as a part-time performer. Orton has still been wrestling and seems to be in WWE for the foreseeable future. Triple H is now the on-screen power character as he is the COO of the company in and outside the ring.
This main event could have been exponentially if the WWE booking team capitalized on their hottest asset in Goldberg. Instead, as it was known throughout the early 2000’s, Triple H was given every chance to win and subsequently bury his opponents, which is what was done here.
At SummerSlam 2003, Goldberg could have become a legend in two companies but him, others, and myself will sit back and think “What if…?”