Monday Night Raw – April 18, 2005

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 18, 2005
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 17,258
Commentators: Jonathan Coachman, Jerry Lawler

We’re less than two weeks away from Backlash and that means things are going to start picking up around here, including what should be a big deal with the show taking place in the Garden. Maybe Batista can get some significant time this week, assuming HHH is willing to let the World Champion in on his time. Let’s get to it.

Jim Ross is in Eric Bischoff’s office where the boss won’t let him out of his match with HHH. As a bit of a reprieve though, the match will be No DQ and Batista can be in JR’s corner. So yes, the World Champion is now playing second fiddle to an announcer facing HHH in the main event. I’m sure you can guess how the match is going to go, but is this really the best usage of the monster champion?

Opening sequence.

There’s no special MSG setup. I miss that thing.

Edge vs. Chris Benoit

Good thing these two are awesome together because they fight a lot. Benoit still has a banged up arm so Edge jumps him on the way in and pounds away. You don’t forearm Benoit in the back though as he’s right back with the rolling German suplexes to rock Edge. The Swan Dive misses though and it’s off to a chinlock with a knee in Benoit’s back. Thankfully Edge sees the big bandage on the arm and switches to an armbar instead.

That’s reversed into the Crossface but Edge is in the ropes soon enough. They head outside instead and Benoit clotheslines him over the barricade so they can fight into the crowd. It heads into the back with Benoit getting the better of it as the match is thrown out somewhere in there.

Rating: C. This was too short to matter or go anywhere (other than to the back that is) but it was more about setting up some big gimmick match down the line. Edge getting a nice win to really make him feel like a bigger deal is going to help him, as Money in the Bank doesn’t have quite the impact yet.

Referees and Sgt. Slaughter break things up.

Post break the Divas are looking at their swimsuit magazine (as large groups of good looking women do) when Edge and Benoit brawl through a door to break it up. Bischoff comes in to make a Last Man Standing match for next week.

Here’s Trish Stratus for a chat. She wants to talk about what happened with Kane and Lita last week so she would like Lita out here to clear the air. Cue Lita on a crutch and she gets the loudest booing in her career to date. Trish wants to make peace between the two of them but hang on as we pause for the YOU SCREWED MATT chants. After threatening to leave if the fans don’t calm down, Trish talks about how she loves Lita despite what has happened between them. Fans: “WE WANT MATT!”

Lita doesn’t buy it and doesn’t accept her apology. Much like Trish, payback is going to be a b****. The fans don’t react to that so here’s Kane as Lita hits Trish with her crutch. Kane chases Trish up the ramp but Viscera of all people comes out for the save. Crowd: “LET’S GO MABEL!” The Samoan drop and splash crush Kane and Viscera carries Trish off while licking his lips. Oh…..this isn’t going to go well in any form for anyone involved.

Post break Trish thanks Viscera, who puts her up against the wall and makes some, ahem, suggestions about how she can thank him. Viscera: “Glad to be of service, but I’ll be more glad when you service me.” There is talk of mixing business with pleasure but Trish would like to take it slowly. Viscera kisses her anyway and Trish looks rather shaken. Coach: “YOU GO BOY!”

Heart Throbs vs. William Regal/Tajiri

Non-title and oh the Heart Throbs. These two were one of the most over, popular teams that OVW (then known as the Heartbreakers) had ever seen as they were something close to male strippers and had a dancing manager named Mo Green. They came out to It’s Raining Men and the whole thing was so goofy and over the top that they became the hottest thing in OVW. It wasn’t going to work in a big arena or on Raw, but it’s hard not to be a little disappointed after what they did in OVW.

Anyway, they (Romeo and Antonio) dance out and Regal and Tajiri’s stunned looks are great. Romeo dances at Regal to start so it’s off to Tajiri. That means a Crane Kick pose so Tajiri grabs a wristlock to take Romeo down. Antonio comes in but gets taken into the corner for the tag off to Regal, who gets taken into the corner as well. Antonio pounds away at Regal’s back, which has a grand total of no effect. Tajiri comes back in and hammers away until Regal snaps Romeo’s throat across the top. A spinning sunset flip gives Tajiri the easy pin.

Rating: D. So as great as the gimmick is, there isn’t much that they can do once the bell rings. That’s kind of an important part and the lack of skill was on full display here. They’re perfectly watchable but it’s nothing beyond that and it was showing badly. I’ll take this result over the champs losing though so this could have been worse.

Post match the Heart Throbs beat the champs down. I wouldn’t be overly intimidated.

Batista isn’t here and JR is panicking.

HHH has dealt with Batista by talking to the limo company.

Muhammad Hassan doesn’t trust police who look at him strangely. He and Daivari aren’t worried about Hulk Hogan either because Hogan is just another selfish American.

Muhammad Hassan vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn wastes no time in rushing the ring to start hammering away as the fans are WAY into Michaels here (not surprising). They slug it out and the fans switch over to a HOGAN chant. A running knee lift staggers Hassan but Daivari’s distraction lets Hassan get in his own shot.

Shawn’s back is driven into the apron to slow him down and we take a break. Back with Hassan hitting something like a reverse Eye of the Hurricane for two and commencing to choke. The chinlock goes on for all of a few seconds before Shawn makes the comeback with the usual. The top rope elbow connects but Daivari has to be slammed off the top and the DQ is on.

Rating: D+. Another not great in-ring performance from Hassan but he’s far better than he was a few months back. Having him against the bigger names helps a lot, though there is only so much that can be done when he doesn’t have the best matches. If they can figure out a way to mix up his promos a bit he could be a big deal, but for now it’s just a slow improvement.

Post match the beatdown is on until Hulk Hogan comes in for the save to blow the roof off the place. Posing ensues with Shawn wearing Hassan’s head cover. This goes on for a good while, but the reaction makes it worth it.

It’s time for the Masterlock Challenge with Chris Masters putting up $1000 cash to anyone in the crowd who can break his full nelson. The fan, named Roman, comes in and says he’s tough because he’s from New York. This goes exactly as you would expect it to.

Shelton Benjamin vs. Simon Dean

Non-title. Dean’s pre-match promo is broken up by Shelton’s entrance, which is probably best for everyone. Before the match, we get a clip from last week with Chris Jericho saying Fozzy’s new single is called Shelton Is A Little B****. Cue Jericho to say that he gets a title shot at Backlash, but he has something a little better. Jericho brings out Fozzy’s guitarist and actually performs Shelton Is A Little B****.

As the song goes on, Simon jumps Shelton from behind and goes up top, with the referee ringing the bell just before a top rope clothesline. What kind of a nitwit thinks that’s a fair start to a match? The chinlock goes on for a bit, followed by some stomping for good measure. Shelton fights up and hits a northern lights suplex for two to start the comeback. The Stinger Splash and exploder finish Dean in a hurry.

Rating: D. Oh come on, what could they have done to follow up on that song? Jericho stole the show here, as usual, and Shelton getting beaten up by Dean wasn’t the most thrilling idea in the first place. Shelton vs. Jericho should be good and I can go with the story, though I’d prefer more of that song.

Smackdown Rebound.

Here are Christian and Tyson Tomko for a chat. Christian wants a Hulk Hogan style reaction…and here’s Vince McMahon, who can power walk to the ring three months after tearing both quads because of course he can. Christian knows that Vince is here to congratulate him after last week, but Vince agrees with Steve Austin: Christian is a CLB.

Vince wants to announce the return of a big idea but Christian cuts him off, saying that we know about the return of the Diva Search. That earns him the threat of unemployment, followed by the announcement of the return of the Draft in about a month. Christian likes the idea and thinks he should be sent to Smackdown to challenge John Cena. Vince thinks Christian belongs in the main event too, so next week he can face Batista.

Backlash rundown. That card has come together out of nowhere.

HHH promises to hit Batista with the Pedigree and get the title back at Backlash. Tonight, JR gets to find out what the Pedigree means. We get a video on the Pedigree and I have to wonder how long HHH has had this waiting.

Jim Ross vs. HHH

No DQ and no Batista as this is going to go badly. They stare at each other a bit with HHH offering a handshake, with Lawler knowing where this is going. A right hand to the stomach finally gives us something and it’s the slow beating, until JR manages to get in a shot to the face. HHH knocks him down again and yells at the referee as JR is busted open. Lawler says this isn’t fair as HHH has been World Champion more times than you can count. I think I can count to ten man.

JR loses his Oklahoma jersey and the slow beating continues as the crowd is just gone. Lawler has finally had enough (he must have gotten sick of the counting) and goes to the ring, which draws Ric Flair in as well. That earns Lawler a Pedigree of his own but here’s Batista’s limo (with Batista driving) to make something happen. Batista comes in for the save and counters the Pedigree, setting up a chair to HHH’s head. JR is pulled on top for the pin.

Rating: F. Well that was bad. What was the point of this supposed to be? Making it clear that HHH is an evil villain without making him have an actual match? I guess JR pinning him is supposed to be humiliating but it’s not like Batista beating HHH Up, especially with a chair, is that big of a deal. This should have been about two minutes long instead of eleven and, again, Batista gets a limited reaction because he doesn’t show up until the end of the show and the fans are dead from the bad match. What a great way to push the new champ.

The mild celebration ends the show.

Overall Rating: D-. What an awful show with the Heart Throbs being one of the highlights. The only decent match was Edge vs. Benoit, which was there to set up another match in the future. I don’t know if they were messed up because they were heading to Europe soon or what but this was a disaster on almost all grounds. Backlash is looking ok enough, but they need a much better TV show next week if they want it to have a chance. Horrible show here and one of the worst in a good while.

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