Monday Night Raw – November 17, 2003

Monday Night Raw
Date: November 17, 2003
Location: SE Texas Arena, Beaumont, Texas
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re past Survivor Series and that means we’re on the way to Armageddon to end the year. Eric Bischoff is back in full control of the show as Steve Austin’s team lost last night. I’m sure we’ll NEVER see him again. Goldberg is still the Raw World Champion too, having dispatched Evolution on a bad ankle. Why do I have a feeling that the HHH feud is far from over though? Let’s get to it.

Austin’s face comes up at the end of the opening and Bischoff spray paints it out. Not bad for a chuckle.

We hear Austin’s post match speech from last night, complete with photos and clips of his career, all the way back to 1989. The shot closes on the two beer cans Austin left in the ring.

In the arena, Bischoff and his team from last night look down on the same beer cans, which Eric stomps on. Those who have supported him are in for some good times but for those against him, it’s the beginning of the end. Each member of his team gets a special favor, good for anything anytime (within reason).

Cue the rest of Evolution with HHH congratulating Bischoff on his victory last night. The thing is though, it was Evolution that gave Bischoff the win. Without them, Austin would still be in charge. Bischoff agrees, so HHH can have a rematch with Goldberg any time. In a bizarre line, HHH says that’s “very white” of Bischoff (HHH to Long and Henry: “No offense guys.”). HHH blames the sledgehammer for the loss and instead of a title match tonight, we’ll have a 3-1 handicap match with Goldberg facing Evolution minus Flair. Bischoff says that’s the bottom line.

Booker T. vs. Mark Henry

Booker wastes no time in hammering away but some hard forearms knock him backwards in a hurry. A kick to the chest rocks Henry but one heck of a clothesline takes care of that. They’re already doing things right with Henry here: have Henry stand in the middle while the more talented guy does his thing and bounces off of Henry. A sleeper brings Henry down to a knee until he powers Booker into the corner. Booker gets run over for good measure and Henry stands on his chest. Again: using the power game in simple, effective way is what serves Henry best.

We hit the neck crank for a bit until Henry misses a charge in the corner. Booker kicks away and the ax kick FINALLY puts Henry down. The missile dropkick does it again but Henry counters a third kick into a powerslam for two. Henry tries another charge into the corner, only to get rolled up with Booker putting his feet on the ropes for the pin.

Rating: C-. Not too shabby at all here with Booker knowing how to get the best out of Henry. I know he gets a lot of flack and a lot of it is deserved but Henry has a role that few can play. Let him do his thing like this (maybe winning a match here or there) and it might get him somewhere. That’s a good asset to have when you need to give someone a rub down the line.

La Resistance vs. Mark Jindrak/Garrison Cade

There’s no graphic behind Cade and Jindrak’s names for some reason. The Americans clean house to start and for some reason, Cade is allowed to talk. He brings up his fellow Texans and dedicates the match to the armed forces (well to be fair it’s been like a week). Those are fighting words so we’re ready to go.

Back in and Conway scores with a hurricanrana as JR recaps the night. We’re not even half an hour into the show so it’s a bit early for a recap. A throat snap across the top rope gives Conway two on Jindrak but he suplexes Dupree out of the corner. Cade comes in to clean house and a very hard clothesline gets two on Dupree. The dropkick/spinebuster combination puts Conway away. The match was barely long enough to rate and the promo was after the bell. Not much to this one of course, but at least the rookies got a clean win for a change.

Shawn Michaels has something to say about the loss last night but Bischoff cuts the interview. Shawn talks about everything that went down last night and said it was about doing the right thing. All Bischoff cares about is the power but Bischoff says he didn’t lose last night like Michaels did. For tonight, Shawn is ejected from the building.

Stills of the ambulance match, which again made Shane look like a bigger star than most of the roster.

Kane will be on Smackdown to eulogize the Dudleys.

Scott Steiner has used his favor to get himself and Test a Tag Team Title shot. In exchange, he’s no longer Test’s property. Test agrees but makes it clear that Stacy is still his property and will do what he wants.

Intercontinental Title: Rob Van Dam vs. Ric Flair

Flair is challenging, Orton is on commentary and as per Bischoff’s orders, the Five Star is banned. They pose at each other to start until Rob kicks him down and gets two off a standing moonsault. A spinning legdrop sends Flair bailing and it’s time for a slugout on the floor with Rob getting the better of it.

JR complains about the Five Star being banned, saying it would be like banning the RKO. Orton warns them to watch it because he seems them as a legendary announce team. Lawler gets the threat and says JR is a legend but says nothing about himself. As expected, it seems to go sailing over JR’s head. Flair sends him knee first into the steps to take over but the knee is fine enough for a spinwheel kick.

The Figure Four goes on until Rob turns it over so there’s a chop block for even worse measure. Rob pops back up with a middle rope spinning crossbody and superkicks Flair down. That’s enough to bring Orton to ringside but Rob kicks him down as well. Ric’s low blow only gets two and Rob loads up the Five Star, drawing in Orton for an RKO off the top and the DQ.

Rating: C. They were getting going here and that’s a good sign for when Orton takes the title from Van Dam. This seemed to exist for the sake of making Orton the next challenger and that’s the right call. Orton needs something like that to establish himself more as for now, he’s just a bunch of potential without a big win.

Orton puts the title on and drops it on Rob.

Coach makes fun of Hurricane and Rosey before going into Bischoff’s office. Eric has a big surprise for next week: Raw Roulette! In Salt Lake City, Utah! Bischoff is holding it there because the city is boring and they need something to make the show interesting.

It’s time for the Highlight Reel with Jericho saying it’s not his fault that Austin was in over his head. Jericho wasn’t the sole survivor last night but he was the one who got the match off the ground in the first place. So he deserves a H*** YEAH for helping get rid of Austin! That brings him to his guest this week: Lita. She doesn’t seem happy to be here and doesn’t want to hear anything about Jericho or especially Christian.

Instead here’s Matt Hardy to return to Raw, drawing a big smile from Lita. Matt quickly kisses her and has a question that he has to ask from one knee. Before it can be asked though, here’s Molly Holly to interrupt. She has a question of her own: what does she have to do to get some respect around here? She’s the Women’s Champion and beat Lita at Survivor Series but who is out here getting the attention? Jericho likes the animosity and thinks we should have a mixed tag tonight. Molly agrees, but with Bischoff as her partner. Matt and Lita don’t know what to think.

Post break Bischoff asks what Molly is thinking. She thought this could be the beginning of the end for Lita, so Bischoff adds some stipulations: if they win, Lita is fired for good. If Matt and Lita win, Lita gets a rematch for the Women’s Title.

Tag Team Titles: Dudley Boyz vs. Scott Steiner/Test

Steiner/Test are challenging. The fans want tables but have to wait through D-Von and Test starting things off. Lawler: “They don’t have tables here in Beaumont, Texas? Do they eat off the floor?” Test powers him around to start but walks into a jumping elbow to the jaw. Steiner comes in and gets punched in the head for his efforts, before it’s off to Bubba in his hardcore shorts.

Stacy cheers as Bubba hits a side slam but then sits back down in her chair so Test can yell at her some more. We actually hear about the Duchess of Dudleyville, with Lawler bringing up the history. I’m as confused as you are. It’s back to Test for a running clothesline in the corner, followed by jumping jacks for a little exercise. You have to get it in when you can.

We hit the chinlock and Stacy slaps the mat to get Bubba back to his feet. That means a Bubba Bomb for a break and the hot tag brings in D-Von to clean house. Everything breaks down and a thumb to the eye looks to set up Test’s pumphandle slam. That’s escaped as well and What’s Up Test. He’s right back up (make your own joke) with a full nelson slam to D-Von but now he wants Stacy to throw him a belt. She says no, and that means a 3D to retain the titles.

Rating: C+. Actually a good match here with both teams getting to look good out there. Test and Steiner are fine for a power team and I would have tolerated them a lot more over the last several months had they just done this rather than the whole feud and owning Stacy thing. They need another few teams but the tag division is starting to put some pieces together for a change.

Matt and Lita are in the back with Matt saying he wanted their first kiss to be in front of the world. Haven’t they done that already? Anyway, now it’s about getting her a shot at the Women’s Title. Matt leaves and Trish comes in for the rapid fire giggling.

Lita/Matt Hardy vs. Molly Holly/Eric Bischoff

They all get jobber entrances for some reason and genders can mix. Lita throws Molly down to start as the announcers point out Bischoff wrestling in a suit. That’s rather nice for a change as there’s no reason for him to have gear ready. Molly pulls Lita into the corner for two and we hit the chinlock. A Reverse DDT gets Lita out of trouble as Jerry keeps talking about the suit. Eric comes in and gets slapped, allowing Matt to….drop to the floor instead of coming in. Bischoff pulls Lita down by the hair and gets a really bad rollup (there’s no way I’m buying Lita couldn’t kick out of that) for the pin.

Post match Matt says he was going to ask Lita how she could be so selfish. All she had to do was come join him on Smackdown but instead she had to come back to Raw for the Women’s Title. She couldn’t even do that right though and it’s clear that the title and her career mean more than him and their relationship. They are THROUGH and Matt walks out. And that’s the end of any drama between them for the rest of time.

Val Venis vs. Rico

Venis has the women and Lance Storm to counter Miss Jackie. An early shoulder puts Rico down as the announcers start talking about Matt and Lita as this is pretty clearly just background noise for their chatter. Rico escapes a suplex and grabs a Backstabber to take over as the announcers talk about the ratings.

We get back to the match with Rico hitting a knee lift and a discussion about which section of the closet Rico is in/coming out of/was in. Rico drops an elbow and gyrates the hips as the discussion moves to JR being put on the Roulette wheel next week. This is reaching WCW levels of ignoring the match.

Rico grabs the chinlock as Jerry thinks JR could be in an inferno match and JR reacts accordingly. Val fights up and hits some clotheslines as JR says Rico wouldn’t fit in down in Muskogee. A Blue Thunder Bomb gets two and Val’s big boot gets the same. The Money Shot is loaded up but Val has to kick Jackie to the floor (in a big crash). She gets up to look at Storm, which isn’t noteworthy on its own but does include probably the longest nip slip in WWE history (edited but still visible on the Network). Rico gets shoved down as well and now the Money Shot is good for the pin. Storm wasn’t a factor.

Rating: D+. The wrestling wasn’t the worst (though it could have been about three minutes shorter) but the commentary here was what got the most focus. It was clear that the match was just there because they didn’t have anything else to do and I feel sorry for the wrestlers then. It’s nice to have them get out there and get to show off what they can do (in a watchable enough match) but egads can the announcers pretend that it matters?

Post match, Val and Storm dance with the ladies.

Lita (with her dog in her purse, which always looks dumb) is leaving when she runs into Christian. He has good news for her: he used his Bischoff favor to get her job back. Christian even picks up her bag and offers a shoulder to cry on, which she accepts.

Same Austin video as the opener.

We look at Orton RKOing Mark Cuban. Why that wasn’t a dark segment eludes me.

Orton has cashed in his favor for an Intercontinental Title shot at the next (unnamed) pay per view. He lists off some great Intercontinental Champions, forgetting HHH until the boss points it out. That’s fine enough because all that matters to HHH is getting the pin tonight in the handicap match.

Jericho asks Trish out for another date but she turns him down for being in on the Matt/Lita shenanigans. He denies all involvement and somehow offers up enough charm to get a kiss out of the whole thing.

Evolution vs. Goldberg

Orton starts for the team but his partners are quickly knocked to the floor with Randy being tossed on top of them. It’s off to Batista for the big power showdown but Goldberg knocks him down with one shot, followed by a powerslam for two. The ankle seems fine so far. HHH comes in and gets hammered in the face and suplexed.

Flair breaks up the spear though and HHH’s jumping knee to the face takes over. Orton’s dropkick rocks Goldberg but he spears the heck out of HHH. Batista and Orton get clotheslined down, only to have HHH come back with the facebuster. There’s the RKO (JR: “You gotta get up Billy.”) and a Batista Bomb, followed by the Pedigree to end Goldberg.

Rating: D. So to the shock of no one, last night’s win over HHH means nothing because we’re still waiting on him to get his title back from Goldberg. The normal question would be “well if that match didn’t count, why should I watch the next pay per view?” but that’s answered because everything gets important as soon as HHH gets the title back. This was all about rebuilding HHH, because Heaven forbid we go a DAY without him getting the upper hand on Goldberg.

Post match HHH says he’s cashing in his rematch next week. Tonight isn’t over though and he wraps a chair around Goldberg’s neck, drawing out Kane for the unlikely save. A sloppy chokeslam plants Goldberg to end the show instead.

Overall Rating: C-. The wrestling wasn’t the worst here but the important thing was the storytelling. HHH aside, this show moved a lot of the stories in new and/or positive directions. Trish/Lita/Jericho/Christian in particular is really shaping up and there are several ways they could go with it. Throw in a lot of people having issues with Bischoff and the need for some fresh names to rise up and fight him and I’m actually interested in where some of this stuff goes. Better show than recent weeks, and I’m curious to see where a lot of it goes.

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