By 2003, WWE had already established its brand extension (not a “roster split”), which extended its brand right down the middle, and was taking the daring step of charging for separate brand-exclusive pay-per-views. In June, Raw put on Bad Blood, so in July, Smackdown followed suit.
Since the brands had been extended pretty thin, the show was a mixed bag. On the one hand, Kurt Angle won the title from Brock Lesnar and Eddie Guerrero beat an opponent for the U.S. title, but on the other hand, Vince McMahon beat a one-legged man in a wrestling contest, Sable beat Stephanie McMahon in the dreaded no-countout match, and Billy Gunn wrestled. Oh, and that was a forced prostitution match where Jamie Noble earned himself non-consensual sex with Torrie Wilson by pinning Gunn.
Smack dab in the middle of the event, which was meant to showcase what the Smackdown brand had to offer and to sell fans on future single-brand events, was the APA Bar Room Invitational.
The rules were simple: there were no rules. The last man drinking won. So there was actually one rule, although, to Bradshaw’s credit, even that rule was ill-defined, as we would see at the end of the match.
The field of competitors was something to behold. In addition to the hosts, the Acolytes Protection Agency (long after the initials “APA” stood for anything), there was an entire roster of Smackdown stars too wild for a traditional match on the card. In fact, I think I should introduce them all right now:
First, there were up-and-comers who never quite came, such as the Basham Brothers. I swear that sentence was not intended to be dirty when I started writing it.
Spanky was also on hand.
Just to remind fans that Smackdown had a fun side, Funaki was invited and proceeded to spend the entire match sitting at the faux-bar set up next to the entrance ramp.
The brawl also featured WWE’s version of the FBI, Nunzio, Chuck Palumbo, and Johnny Stamboli (that’s “I lob mats” spelled backwards).
For some desperately needed comic relief, WWE trotted out the Brooklyn Brawler.
Matt Hardy was in the mix as well under his Mattitude gimmick, back when people were laughing with him. His MF’er (Mattitude follower) Shannon Moore was in tow, as well.
Just to lighten the mood a bit, the bookers threw Doink The Clown into the match, played on this night by Nick Dinsmore. He fortunately was heavily disguised, lest he not be taken seriously when he finally made his debut and got his big push as a serious grappler.
Tough Enough 3 winners John Hennigan and Matt Cappotelli were invited as well, without having to deal with mean old Bob Holly, who was sidelined with a neck injury.
Lest the atmosphere get overly tense, Los Conquistadores were placed in the match, although their costumes made them nearly unrecognizable. I mean, as masked wrestlers, they’re supposed to be unrecognizable, but they didn’t resemble in the slightest the brave men who won a moral victory at Survivor Series 1988 and won the tag team titles two nights in a row in 2000, all while gift-wrapped in gold like a Christmas present. Under the hoods were future French sympathizer Rob Conway (this being 2003, when the phrase, “French sympathizer” could be used unironically in the same way that Sgt. Slaughter was an “Iraqi sympathizer”) and future Spirit Squad member Johnny Jeter.
The best thing creative could cook up for the devilish six-foot-six Sean O’Haire was to put him in this match.
Meanwhile, to keep the match from taking itself too seriously, Brother Love was invited.
Orlando Jordan and Chris Kanyon both showed up to the brawl, bringing the match’s total number of openly bisexual wrestlers up to zero. And given what we would see from Jordan in TNA, it’s probably a good thing neither man had yet gone public about his orientation.
Lastly, to add some much-needed humor to the match, WWE celebrated the holiday season with the Easter Bunny. Of course, this match took place in July, with Easter long gone. Perhaps the man in the bunny suit was there to represent an Independence Day feast for some of America’s more impoverished rural communities.
On a side note, under the furry costume was Ohio Valley Wrestling’s Aaron Haddad. If that name doesn’t ring a bell, you still might recognize him if you saw him…
Yes, ten years to the month before winning the Money in the Bank briefcase and being tagged as the “future World Heavyweight Champion,” the intellectual savior to the unwashed masses competed in a costume as a joke wrestler in a match already so saturated with one-dimensional wrestling punch lines that Orlando Jordan was one of the straight men.
Bradshaw gave a rhyming toast before the fight broke out that began, “Some like beer, and some like grass” (and ended with the phrase, “kick your ass”). It was nice of him to acknowledge Brian Kendrick, at least.
However, Brother Love decided to give his own opening benediction, saying that while the Acolytes may have been good little altar-boys (which is more or less what an acolyte is), but they had “blown it.” Was that a Catholic Church sex abuse joke? Because I didn’t hear anyone laughing. Or booing, for that matter.
Mostly, there was just the deafening sound of apathy before Brother Love ended his diatribe and struck both Conquistadores down with a single swing of a bar stool…
…which they sold for the entire match. Uno y Dos would be ashamed.
What followed was some of the most intense action that could possibly occur while most of the participants stood around sipping cans of beer. Vince wasn’t kidding back when he said that he borrowed from King of the Hill.
Still, the announcers acted like this match was the funniest thing since sliced bread (when in fact both were on about the same level of comedic merit). Michael Cole bragged that this was the kind of thing you’d only see on Smackdown while Tazz gleefully announced, “The Easter Bunny’s getting his ass kicked!”
The Brawler hit Bradshaw with a metal tray, sparking a heated debate between Tazz and Michael Cole over whether it was a cookie sheet or a bar tray. Thankfully, no wash rags were involved.
Sean O’Haire lived up to his sinister reputation by jabbing the Easter Bunny while hanging out with Brother Love.
His reign of terror would soon end as Bruce Prichard knocked him out with a flower vase.
Brian “Spanky” Kendrick took this brutal feet-first bump through a table courtesy of the Basham Brothers. He broke most of the fall with his face, in the process learning why people don’t take feet-first table bumps.
Easter Bunny took a trip down the rabbit hole…
…and Bradshaw took a moment to share a drink with Funaki while modeling his “Ass-Kickers Anonymous” t-shirt. That spells, “AKA” and not “APA,” but at least they didn’t replace the reference to kicking ass with a reference to “pounding ass” just to have the correct initials.
Again, I mean.
Matt Hardy’s attempt to put the Bashams through the furniture was thwarted by this Japanese table.
The match appeared to come down to Funaki and Bradshaw, who looked ready to crack Smackdown’s #1 announcer with a stool. Fortunately for everyone, Funaki simply tipped over, having gotten completely plastered from less than ten minutes of casual drinking.
Bradshaw celebrated, but Brother Love was still left and was about to hit the Acolyte from behind, only to be caught in between the APA.
The match ended when Bradshaw finally knocked over Brother Love with a full beer can to the head, leaving the big rangy Texan as the last man standing and therefore the winner. Keep in mind that the rules (of which there were none) stated that it was not the last man standing but the last man drinking who would win the match, but I suppose you had to be standing to be drinking (WWE didn’t want anyone choking while chugging beer lying down, after all).
Oh yeah, and Faarooq was obviously still standing, too, but he didn’t count, because he had been knocked over earlier in the match. You know, just like Bradshaw had been. So either Brother Love was the true winner as the last man not to be knocked off his feet, or Bradshaw ought to have shared the victory with Faarooq. Instead, the white guy got all the glory.
Somehow, I doubt the Nation of Domination Faarooq would have put up with that.
Fortunately, after this goofball PPV segment, WWE has shown restraint when it comes to throwing tons of gag entrants into a match and hoping someone laughs.
With the notable exception of Royal Rumble 2012, of course.