Monday Night Raw – February 2, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 2, 2004
Location: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 3,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Jonathan Coachman

We’re pretty firmly in Wrestlemania season now with about a month and a half to go before the big show. Things started to pick up last week when Chris Benoit moved over to Raw and went straight after HHH and the World Heavyweight Championship. Shawn Michaels is still lurking around though and you know he doesn’t want anyone to go after his wrestling life partner like that. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Benoit debuting last week and throwing his hat in the World Heavyweight Title picture.

Opening sequence.

It’s already time for the Highlight Reel and Chris Jericho promises to give someone more exposure than Janet Jackson’s nipple. That would be his guest, Chris Benoit. Jericho congratulates him on winning the Rumble (Jericho: “Oh yeah. HE WON THE ROYAL RUMBLE!”) and praises Benoit’s brilliance for finding the loophole to get to Raw. He does however give Benoit a warning: Benoit isn’t just dealing with HHH, because now it’s Evolution and worst of all, Eric Bischoff.

Benoit appreciates it but no one is going to stop him from getting his World Title. Jericho thinks it might be Benoit that stops Benoit from winning the big one, which is something Jericho can relate to. We see a clip of Ric Flair telling Benoit that he always lets the brass ring slip from his fingers.

Cue Flair to say Benoit is a great physical specimen and one of the best technical wrestlers in the world but he’s a runner up. The man around here is HHH and Benoit is never going to be the man because he can’t beat the man. Benoit agrees with half of that, but at Wrestlemania he’s going to become the man. For now though, how about he fights Flair himself? This brings out Bischoff (Coach gives him a standing ovation) to make Flair/Batista vs. Jericho/Christian for the titles (rather than their scheduled #1 contenders match) instead. Benoit can have a match too, and that’s next.

Chris Benoit vs. Mark Henry

Benoit chops away and the sweat is flying off of Henry’s chest. Henry knocks him down with one shot but Benoit is right back with the kicks and chops. One heck of a clothesline puts Benoit down with Henry declaring this his world. That just means more chops until Benoit can get up top for a flying headbutt to a standing Henry. Cue HHH to watch as Henry blocks a German suplex but gets Crossfaced for the tap. Not exactly thrilling but Benoit won in a hurry.

Escape the Rules ad. Since when is this a heel promotion?

Steve Austin runs into Michaels in the back and tells him that if he wants another shot at HHH, go do something.

Video on last week’s Mick Foley/Randy Orton showdown. It was a very interesting start, but I’m not sure how strong the followup is going to/can be.

Foley is in the back when Test comes up to yell at him for costing him his spot in the Rumble. The distraction lets Orton jump Foley from behind with a belt shot. Orton declares Foley his b****.

Rene Dupree vs. Rico

The announcers start talking about the Janet Jackson incident, which sends us into a Playboy/Jackie Gayda flashing Conway last week discussion. Rico rides Dupree around to start and the USA chants begin. A snapmare sets up a neck crank on Rico but Dupree switches it to a chinlock to keep Rico on his toes. Well on the mat but close enough. Now it’s a chinlock on the mat as Lawler talks about Jackie taking her top off yet again.

Rico fights up so Dupree takes him back down for another neck crank. Yet AGAIN it’s switched to a chinlock and yet AGAIN Lawler oogles Jackie. Good grief yeah she looks great but shut up already. Rico finally fights up for good and kicks Dupree in the head for two. They fight in the corner but here’s Stacy Keibler at ringside as Conway breaks up a monkey flip. Stacy gets on the apron to distract Dupree, allowing Rico to roll him up for the pin.

Rating: D-. Was there anything worthwhile in this match? The one with back to back nerve holds into chinlocks because that’s the best this show can do anymore? Throw in the fact that it’s Rene Dupree and Rico and I have no idea what is supposed to interest me here. Oh yeah the Playboy thing. How thrilling.

Post match Stacy and Jackie dance together.

Trish Stratus is getting ready but runs into Christian, holding a Rolling Stone Magazine about the Beatles. Christian talks about Yoko Ono breaking the band up, which wouldn’t have happened with him around. Instead he would have given Yoko a one man Conchairto before she could split the band up. Anyway, good luck Trish.

Linda McMahon spoke to college voters.

Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly

Molly is defending….or at least will at one point, as Bischoff comes out to say this isn’t happening because Trish isn’t #1 contender. Here’s what we get instead.

Trish Stratus vs. Kane

Staring, fear, Jericho running in for the save.

Trish gets away but Kane takes out Jericho’s knee with a chair and a posting.

Post break Trish checks on Jericho, who rants about Bischoff.

Kane is still in the ring so let’s do this instead.

Goldberg vs. Kane

Goldberg hugs a special needs kid on the way in. You hear about his work with kids a lot and that’s just cool. Goldberg shoulders him down but gets booted in the face. A choke doesn’t work and Kane hits a side slam for two. That means a chinlock (Kane must be a Dupree fan) but Kane lets him up pretty quickly, switching to a choke in the corner instead. The chokeslam cuts off Goldberg’s comeback….and a bolt of lightning hits the ring. The blue lights come on and the Undertaker video plays as Kane freaks out. Goldberg hits a spear as the gong strikes and the ring fills with smoke. We’ll call it a no contest.

Rating: D+. Not a bad power match here which Kane can do well enough under the right circumstances. I’m surprised Goldberg got beaten up this badly but at least it seems to be heading to a pair of matches at Wrestlemania. Now whether or not you want to watch them may be up for debate, but at least they have a plan.

Booker T. vs. Matt Hardy

Matt, who has never run out of gas while driving and his chest hair grows swiftly, has a perfectly healthy neck here, unlike Booker, whose neck was injured on Heat. Matt hits a clothesline and a hot shot to play up the neck issues. We hit a sleeper (better than another chinlock) as the announcers talk about Mark Henry’s shoulder being popped out of socket by the Crossface. That’s the kind of thing you can say that makes the hold look that much better.

Matt’s elbow to the back of the neck gets two and it’s off to a full nelson. A legdrop gets two as you can’t accuse Matt of sticking with the same moves over and over. The Side Effect gets two more and frustration is setting in. So it back pain in the form of a spinebuster from Booker. The side kick gets two on Matt and Booker kicks him in the face. Booker blocks the Twist and it’s an ax kick so we can hear Booker’s bad hip hop song again.

Rating: D+. Matt loses again but you can’t fault his psychology. You can see the difference between the Rico vs. Dupree match with one chinlock after another and this one, with Matt running through a variety of stuff to work on the bad neck. It didn’t go anywhere, but at least he was trying and that’s better than a lot of the matches you see.

Shawn is wiping HHH’s blood off his boot when Orton comes up. Trash is talked but Shawn isn’t having any of this and scares Orton off.

Here’s HHH, in ring gear, for a chat. He talks about next week’s contract signing with Benoit and after that, Benoit has no way out. They’ll be locked in to a match at Wrestlemania and when they get into the ring together, HHH will turn Benoit’s dreams into nightmares. Oh and also next week, Benoit gets Flair. For now though, here’s a demonstration.

HHH vs. Spike Dudley

Non-title. HHH turns his back so Spike hits a forearm, only to be kneed in the face for his efforts. Another knee to the face has Spike in trouble so he grabs HHH’s leg. The Pedigree ends Spike in a hurry. It’s better than HHH talking.

Austin comes to see Goldberg, who isn’t happy with Brock Lesnar. However, Austin just happens to have a front row ticket to next week’s No Way Out. Don’t do anything that Austin wouldn’t do.

Tag Team Titles: Christian/Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair/Batista

Flair and Batista are defending and Jericho is limping badly from Kane’s attack earlier in the night. Christian and Flair start things off and they hit the mat in a hurry. An abdominal stretch goes nowhere so Christian suplexes him instead. Batista comes in off the blind tag though and there’s a slam to take Christian down. One heck of a backbreaker keeps Christian in trouble and that’s it for Batista, which might be the best idea given his rather limited offense.

Back up and Christian rams heads with Flair for a double knockdown. Jericho comes in to start chopping away (gimmick infringer) as everything breaks down. Batista gets sent to the floor and a dive takes him out, leaving Jericho to bang up his knee on a missed Lionsault. He’s fine enough to get the Walls on for the tap but Batista sneaks back in to hit the knee. The Figure Four retains the titles.

Rating: D. Not enough time to go anywhere, which is a shame given what these teams could put together. Jericho tapping is fine enough given his injury and Christian can yell at him for giving up their chance at the titles. Flair and Batista aren’t great champions but it makes for a good visual with Evolution and that’s about as good as it could get at the moment. Still though, bad match, mainly due to the lack of time.

Wrestlemania Recall: Shawn’s entrance at Wrestlemania XII. Fair enough as that was a heck of a visual.

Shawn Michaels vs. Randy Orton

Non-title. The referee has to separate them in the corner to start so Shawn tries a headlock takeover instead. The announcers are thrilled as they get a chance to talk about everything other than the match, including every dumb thing that has happened tonight. Back up and Orton kicks away in the corner, followed by some uppercuts for good measure. The referee gets dropkicked pretty early on so Orton grabs the belt.

That goes nowhere though as here’s Austin, on the ATV, with another referee. Now that’s how you make a delivery. Austin takes the original referee, and the title, with him and leaves. Michaels is back up and throws some right hands but they fall to the floor with Shawn holding his knee. Back from a break with Shawn fighting out of a chinlock but Orton knees him back down. That means another chinlock with a knee in the back as the knee injury seems to have vanished.

Shawn fights up, gets taken down, and we hit the third chinlock in a row. Shawn’s comeback sleeper is countered with a belly to back suplex and Orton goes up. The high crossbody misses, but I’m more interested in JR saying Coach looks like he’s wearing a condom on his head. Shawn hits the forearm and nips up, followed by the top rope elbow. Both finishers are countered so Orton gets in a DDT. Cue Foley for a distraction though and Shawn grabs a rollup for the fast pin.

Rating: C. At least it wasn’t a clean loss for the champ, but I’m really not liking the idea of Orton getting pinned by anyone at the moment. He’s in a big story so just have Foley come in and deck him for earlier or chase him off for a countout or something. Also, what was up with the Austin deal? What a random cameo that added nothing to the match.

Post match Foley comes in and beats on Orton, including a clothesline to the floor. Foley knocks Orton into the crowd so here’s HHH to send Evolution after them. HHH goes after Shawn but here’s Benoit before it can get physical. The champ leaves and Benoit shakes Shawn’s hand to end the show.

Overall Rating: D. The show itself was pretty terrible but you can see where a lot of things are going, which always a positive sign. You know Wrestlemania XX is going to get a big build and they’re giving it as much time as they can, at least on Raw. Things can get better with the drama being built up, but there was too much filler/focusing on the weaker stories here to really make this week work.

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