Monday Night Raw – February 16, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 16, 2004
Location: Centennial Gardens Arena, Bakersfield, California
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re less than a month away from Wrestlemania and it’s time to crank things up a bit. The World Title match is at least partially set but the question now is what happens between Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit after Michaels stole Benoit’s title shot last week in something I still don’t think is legal. Let’s get to it.

We open with a long recap of the contract signing last week where Michaels stole Benoit’s spot. They’re fighting tonight.

Opening sequence.

Here’s HHH for a chat. He talks about what Shawn did last week and apparently the lawyers can’t come to a conclusion. This all goes back to Wrestlemania X where Yokozuna defended the title twice in one night against two different opponents. That’s not going to happen this year because Eric Bischoff needs to get out here and make a decision. Cue a power walking Bischoff to say it’s true that HHH shouldn’t be wrestling twice in one night.

Bischoff has an idea though: what if he cancels tonight’s Benoit vs. Michaels match and makes HHH vs. either of them for the title instead? The winner goes on to face the odd man out at Wrestlemania. The fans seem pleased and HHH asks if that’s what they want to see. Well HHH doesn’t care so that’s not happening. We don’t actually find out what’s happening as here’s Benoit for the brawl. The Crossface goes on but Benoit is smart enough to bail when Evolution comes out.

Post break Evolution has plans for tonight.

Tag Team Titles: Rob Van Dam/Booker T. vs. Ric Flair/Batista

Flair and Batista are defending and have Randy Orton in their corner. Booker and Flair get things going and botch a hiptoss so Booker settles for a slam. Rob comes in and, of course, kicks a lot. There’s a spinwheel kick to Batista and a middle rope Cannonball gets two. Batista gets sent to the floor and Flair gets kicked down, only to have Orton shove Batista out of the way of a dive as we take a break.

Back with Van Dam fighting out of a chinlock but walking into a powerslam. Van Dam kicks Flair down (again) and the hot tag brings in Booker for a suplex on Batista. Everything breaks down and Booker gets to kick Flair this time, meaning we can pause for a Spinarooni. The delay lets Orton come in and take out Booker’s knee so Flair grabs the Figure Four. Cue Mick Foley to fight Orton into the crowd, leaving Van Dam to Five Star Flair, giving Booker the pin and the titles.

Rating: C. The match was a little messy but they had to do something to get the titles off of Evolution. They were dominating for so long now and the Tag Team Titles are the easiest ones to get off of them. Booker and Van Dam are fine as new champions and the win enhances Orton vs. Foley to make things even better. Good decision, though not a great match.

We look at Goldberg helping Eddie Guerrero win the Smackdown World Title last night at No Way Out.

Austin and Bischoff watch the footage and Austin recaps it for those who can’t pay attention. They have more important things to deal with though as Austin wants Bischoff to figure out the Benoit/Michaels/HHH situation tonight. Austin leaves and Orton comes in to say he’s going to call out Foley tonight. A fight is guaranteed.

Christian and Jericho, still with a banged up knee, are in the back before Jericho’s match with Kane. Jericho is ready to fight but he has something bigger in mind for later. He’s going to give Trish a rose as a late Valentine’s Day present and tell her how he really feels. The feelings he has run deeper than he thought and he needs to do something about them. Christian doesn’t think it’s the best idea because Trish might have her eye on someone else. Jericho looks nervous but is going to go through with it anyway.

Chris Jericho vs. Kane

Kane punches the injured Jericho down to start and breaks up an early Walls attempt. Jericho’s knee pad is ripped off and the bad knee gets slammed into the mat. The knee gets wrapped around the post to make it even worse and Jericho can’t stand. Jericho tries to backflip out of a belly to back suplex but the knee gives out again and the referee stops the match.

Post match Kane throws him over the top for a crash onto the knee. Jericho gets posted again and Kane calls out whoever has been playing the supernatural games with him. It’s not the Undertaker, who is thoroughly and extremely dead. After a bit of a hesitation, Kane sets off the pyro. He goes to leave and the Undertaker lights come on again. The dead will rise in 27 days but for now, rain falls on Kane. That’s not a bad visual with all of the light blocking out everything else.

Here’s Orton, in street clothes, to call out Foley. See, Foley just doesn’t get it. Orton is this good already and he’s 23 years old. Foley is blinded by his ego and doesn’t understand that his time is over. He might have been the Hardcore Legend in 2000 but right now he’s just Orton’s b****.

That brings Foley out to win a quick brawl but Evolution comes in, allowing Orton to hit him low. Orton punches Foley so much that he hurts his hand before ending it with the RKO. They’re about to leave but hang on because that’s not enough of a beating. The thing keeps going for a few more minutes and stops having much of an impact after a while. A Batista Bomb finally ends it.

Benoit comes up to Shawn and says he’s ready to show him the same lack of respect that Shawn showed him last week.

Jackie Gayda and Stacy Keibler are still complaining about not being in Playboy but Bischoff doesn’t seem to care. He tells them to go call Hugh Hefner so they leave, being replaced by Austin, with a copy of the Monday Night Raw DVD in his hand. We get a plug for the DVD and Bischoff says he can beat Vince up, just like he said he could back in 1998. Vince pops in and says that next week he has a major Wrestlemania announcement, but he’s going to make it in his wrestling gear. After the announcement, he’ll see if Bischoff really can beat Vince up. Well, better late that never never, maybe?

Trish Stratus/Victoria vs. Molly Holly/Jazz

Jazz yells a lot to start but gets rolled up out of the corner for an early two. Molly tries her luck and gets two off a snap suplex. Trish gets taken down for a quick chinlock but Molly misses a charge, allowing the hot tag off to Victoria. As you might guess, Lawler talks about her outfit more than anything else as Victoria shoulders Molly down for two. The Widow’s Peak is good for the clean pin.

Rating: D+. This was all about Victoria completely dominating Molly and getting the clean pin over the champ, which is perfectly fine. Overused, but still fine. I’m sure they’ll have their title match at Wrestlemania, which works as well as anything else the division (and I use that term loosely) has going on at the moment.

Post match Steven Richards celebrates like crazy, drawing in Test to beat him down. Test even loads up a powerbomb on Trish but Christian runs in for the save. Trish isn’t sure what to think of this.

Wrestlemania Recall: the Gimmick Battle Royal. That was much better done than a lot of the legends segments we get today.

Trish thanks Christian for helping her before she goes to see Jericho at the hospital. Christian is going too and they’ll ride together. He gives her Jericho’s rose as a Valentine’s Day present, with no mention of Jericho of course. And since no one watches these shows, this is likely going to be a big plot point that Jericho doesn’t notice.

Recap of Shawn stealing the contract last week.

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit

Shawn taps his foot during the staredown so Benoit takes him down and starts the fight in a hurry. The whip into the corner turns Shawn upside down but it’s too early for the Crossface. A loud chop off doesn’t go anywhere so Benoit grabs a neckbreaker to take over for the first time. The announcers discuss the heights of Presidents as Shawn stays on the neck. Some right hands get Benoit out of trouble so Shawn hits the flying forearm into the nipup.

The fans are NOT pleased with that but the top rope elbow misses makes things a bit better. A backdrop to the floor has Shawn in trouble and sends us to a break. Back with Benoit driving some knees into the ribs and getting two off a backbreaker. We hit the abdominal stretch for a bit until Shawn reverses into a sleeper to bring Benoit back down. Benoit suplexes his way to freedom and it’s time to chop it out some more.

With Benoit getting the better of it, a hard collision gives us another double knockdown. A very quick small package gives Benoit two but he gets shoved off the top, setting up the top rope elbow. The superkick is countered into a failed Crossface attempt so Benoit settles for the Sharpshooter. Shawn FINALLY makes the rope and the crowd isn’t happy with the break. Benoit rolls some German suplexes and looks ready for the Swan Dive but here’s HHH for a distraction, setting up Sweet Chin Music to give Shawn the pin.

Rating: B+. Yeah this worked, although having Benoit take a fall to enforce this very forced World Title situation isn’t the best idea in the world. Benoit should be on a roll and it seems like a step backwards so Shawn can slip into the spot instead. I still really don’t like Shawn being in here, but that’s been the case for his feud with HHH for a very long time now.

Post match HHH gives Shawn a Pedigree. Cue Austin to say that Bischoff has made a decision. At Wrestlemania, it’s a triple threat match with HHH defending against Benoit and Michaels.

Overall Rating: C+. The main event helped a lot here (as can be the case pretty often) and the rest of the Wrestlemania build is going well enough, though not great. The World Title scene is really feeling forced and while the wrestling is good, I can’t help but ignore the storyline not working. The Wrestlemania card is being firmed up though and if they can find the right formula on the way there, we could be in for something special.

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