Monday Night Raw – January 5, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 5, 2004
Location: Pyramid, Memphis, Tennessee
Attendance: 6,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s a new year and my goodness it couldn’t come soon enough. While the last match of 2003 was an instant classic, it was a very rare sight to see on the red show. With two shows left to go before the Royal Rumble, it’s time to hit the gas but I’m worried about how much we’ll be hearing about Shawn Michaels vs. HHH. Let’s get to it.

Eric Bischoff complains to Coach about Steve Austin being the new Sheriff. This would be the recap for the fans who weren’t watching last week. Teddy Long and Mark Henry come in with Mark saying he has his Survivor Series favor picked (Hasn’t he cashed that in twice already?): Teddy Long gets to be GM for tonight only. Teddy isn’t worried about Austin because he has Johnny Cochran on speed dial.

Opening sequence.

Here’s Teddy to say fans are uncomfortable with a black man in charge. He goes into a rant about the Mayor of Memphis being black but the city still being racist. As expected, Jerry Lawler gets offended and grabs the mic, only to take the RKO from Randy Orton right before he gets his hands on Teddy.

In the back, Orton brags to Long about what he just did but Henry comes in and says he wants the Intercontinental Title tonight. Teddy makes the match but they run into Austin, who says not so fast. It should be Rob Van Dam getting his rematch, though Teddy says he’s already made the match. Instead, Austin makes it Henry vs. Van Dam for a title shot next week. As you might have guessed, it’s Austin vs. Bischoff all over again, but with less hair.

Coach comes out to replace Lawler, complete with an LSU (who defeated Oklahoma in a bowl game over the weekend) chair.

Spike Dudley vs. Rene Dupree

This is Spike’s return after La Resistance dropped him head first onto the edge of a table a few months back. Rene throws him around to start and drops him with a delayed suplex for a delayed two. We hit the neck crank as this is one sided so far, meaning Spike is likely to win the thing. As expected, Spike fights to his feet and gets a rollup pin out of nowhere.

Rating: D-. The whole match was spent talking about college football, which isn’t the most thrilling thing in the world on a wrestling show. That being said, it’s a lot better than talking about Spike vs. Dupree, which is one of the worst things they could have put on the show here. You’re on the first show of the year and your opening match is Spike Dudley? It’s not a good sign for the year.

Post match the Dudley Boyz come out to celebrate but Evolution, who is defending against the Dudleys later tonight, lay them out on the stage and ramp.

Trish Stratus sings on the WWE Originals album.

Christian comes in to make amends with Chris Jericho over the Trish ordeal and wants to be friends again. Jericho actually accepts and Christian actually has a tag match set up for them next. That sounds swervish.

Video on HHH vs. Shawn from last week.

Lawler wants his spot back but Long comes out and makes it a three man booth to prevent the unfair removal of another black man.

Chris Jericho/Christian vs. Hurricane/Rosey

Rosey clotheslines Christian to start as Coach suggests that JR become a Superhero In Training. Hurricane comes in and gets to speed things up on Jericho but some kicks in the corner cut him off. A low bridge sends Hurricane outside and he throws himself into the steps (it looked horrible) to really put the Canadians in trouble.

Back in and we hit the choking until a double DDT gets Hurricane out of trouble. It’s off to Rosey for a Samoan drop on Christian and a double clothesline to both Canadians, even as he loses his mask. Hurricane dives onto Jericho and a swinging belly to belly gives Rosey two. Christian sends him into the post though and Jericho posts Rosey’s head, setting up the reverse DDT to give Christian the pin.

Rating: D+. Just a quick way to establish that the Canadians are on the same page again. It’s not like Hurricane and Rosey are the most important team in the world and given that there’s no way Evolution is going to lower themselves to face the two of them, it’s not like this means anything.

We look back at the Dudley Boyz beatdown earlier.

Steven Richards vs. Test

Richards has beaten Test a few times on Heat. Test wastes no time in hitting on Victoria before sending Richards shoulder first into the post. We hit the armbar and Victoria turns into a cheerleader, which has Coach and King agreeing to the fact that she’s good looking. Victoria breaks up the pumphandle slam but a hard full nelson slam drops Richards. Test tries the running big boot on Victoria but crotches himself, allowing Richards to roll him up for the pin. Not bad while it lasted actually.

Post match Test boots Victoria in the face and gets beaten down by a livid Richards.

Here’s Sheriff Austin for a chat. Austin wants to talk about the Royal Rumble but here’s HHH to interrupt. HHH thinks Austin has lost his mind (fair) and mocks the whole Sheriff concept. We get some references to old TV sheriffs and deputies in the required southern yokel accent. HHH sees Austin’s badge and that’s just too much for him. Where are the little cap guns and the big hat?

Austin cuts him off with the threat of a Stunner or stripping him of the title or even mocking his clothes. The Stone Cold law will be upheld and that means it’s time for Shawn Michaels to get a rematch after having HHH pinned last week. HHH wants to know what it’s going to take to get it through his head but here’s Shawn to interrupt. The fans are VERY pro Shawn as he wants HHH to prove it one more time. Austin makes the rematch at the Royal Rumble and let’s make that Last Man Standing, just for fun. A quick Pedigree lays Shawn out.

Molly Holly vs. Trish Stratus

Victoria was scheduled to challenge Molly here but the big boot meant we needed a replacement (with Teddy saying we need two white girls fighting) and now it’s non-title. Molly knocks her off the apron to start and hits a low dropkick for two back inside. It’s already off to the chinlock for a bit until Trish fights up with some forearms. The Stratusphere sets up a rollup for two and Trish goes up, only to have Jazz come out and shove her off for the DQ.

Jazz beats Molly up too but Jericho runs in for the save. Trish isn’t happy and leaves alone because she’s not falling for this again.

And now, a paid announcement from Friends and Supporters of Randy Orton, who think Mick Foley is a coward. It’s almost a political ad and that’s kind of funny.

Wrestlemania moment: Kane and Pete Rose.

Rob Van Dam vs. Mark Henry

The winner gets Orton for the Intercontinental Title next week. Henry shoves them around to start so it’s time to start in on the knee. A sliding dropkick to the head stuns Henry but he’s right back up with a powerslam. Henry gets kicked to the floor and that means the moonsault from the apron. That’s enough for Long, who hands Henry a chair for the knockout shot and the DQ.

Long says it’s a No DQ match so we restart things. Cue Austin on an ATV (with Long doing a hilarious face as if to say “I can’t be seeing this. Playa.”) to chase Long around the ring and up the ramp. Then the image is ruined as they go to the back with Austin driving through the entrance and Long being seen standing there.

Back from a break with Rob getting choked on the ropes and Henry hitting a running crotch attack. Henry puts Rob on top but gets caught in something like a triangle choke to really cut him down. Rolling Thunder sets up another Rolling Thunder for two and Rob skateboards the chair into Henry’s face. That just ticks Henry off so Rob goes with the Van Daminator into a Five Star for the pin.

Rating: D. Not counting the commercial, this might have been five and a half minutes long with the break in the middle. Van Dam winning was the obvious ending and the Austin vs. Long stuff wasn’t really necessary. The break in the middle really hurt what could have been a decent high flier vs. power match as Henry is starting to settle into his role, even if he almost never wins anything.

Post match Austin chases Long back to the ring and gives him a Stunner. That’s a little excessive but beer is consumed anyway.

Jericho tries to talk to Trish, but she’s in the shower. He talks about how much he really cares about her and yeah it started as a bet, but he fell for her along the lines. Jericho has real feelings for her….and it’s actually Mae Young, who of course is in a towel, which is opened. I believe they know where they want to go with this story, but they’re taking some very questionable roads to get there.

Here’s Kane for a chat. He talks about the Royal Rumble (oh yeah that’s a thing) which he has never won. Over the years he should have won them all but he was always worried about being cheered by the insects. Then last year he trusted someone, which gives us a clip of Undertaker throwing him out last year. That will never happen again because Undertaker is gone. Last week he attacked Booker T. because Booker got Kane’s World Title shot at Wrestlemania. This year he’ll win the Rumble but here’s Booker for the fight to clear Kane out. Booker enters the Rumble as well and promises to get rid of Kane in the process.

Tag Team Titles: Batista/Ric Flair vs. Dudley Boyz

Evolution is defending and the Dudleys are coming in banged up. D-Von slugs away at Batista to start but gets powered into the corner. Bubba comes in for a running corner splash and a middle rope crossbody of all things gets two. Some right hands drop Flair and that means a WOO and a strut, just to rub some salt in the always possibly soon to open wounds. There’s another corner splash into the side slam for two but it’s quickly off to Batista to take over.

It’s time to start in on the knee and the Figure Four goes on. Batista cranks on the leg with Bubba crawling to the corner for the tag….which isn’t seen thanks to a Flair distraction. A single kick to the ribs allows the real tag to D-Von, who wastes no time in powerslamming Flair to take over. Everything breaks down with Batista being sent the floor, leaving Bubba to punch Flair several times. What’s Up and the 3D connect but here’s HHH for a distraction, allowing Batista to powerbomb D-Von. The unconscious Flair get the pin.

Rating: C+. Not a great match or anything but it did its job well enough. They made Batista look like a bigger deal and Flair can do the wrestling while the Dudleys are always good for at least a solid performance. If nothing else we might get some fresh challengers now, even if there aren’t any major teams ready to go after the titles.

Post match Shawn comes back in to superkick HHH to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. While not as boring as the shows from last year, this wasn’t exactly thrilling stuff. With almost no focus on the Rumble with less than three weeks to go, we got a lot of Austin vs. Long stuff which is just filler until we’re back to Austin vs. Bischoff, which was the longest running story of 2003. They need to find something fresh and Shawn vs. HHH, which good enough, doesn’t fit that description.

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