Monday Night Raw
Date: March 1, 2004
Location: Gwinnett Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
Last week saw three matches added to Wrestlemania, which makes sense given how soon the show is actually taking place. There are still a few things to hammer out though and that can be done in the next two weeks. Maybe they can find a better way to do things than by just having Vince stand in the ring and make matches. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of Vince making Undertaker vs. Kane, Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar and the Playboy tag match last week. That’s certainly a way to set up a show in a hurry.
Opening sequence, which is cut off by Austin’s entrance to deal with La Resistance, who are protesting in the ring. You don’t see that very often and it’s a cool way to open the show. One Stunner drops Rob Conway and Sylvan Grenier runs away. Austin wants to deal with Lesnar and still isn’t happy with Goldberg spearing him a few weeks back. He’s going to call the match right down the middle but he’s ready to beat either one of them up at a moment’s notice.
Before he can get to the closing catchphrase, here’s Vince McMahon for a flashback showdown. Vince thinks Austin is a lousy referee and is going to get beaten up by both guys at Wrestlemania. Wouldn’t that make Vince very happy? Vince makes fun of Austin’s ATV so Austin runs down its specifics and thinks Vince has a 15-20 yard head start.
The chase is on and Vince bails to the parking lot where his limo is waiting. Austin drives over that (with a convenient camera inside the card) and Vince gets away. This was a big long ad for Goldberg vs. Lesnar without having Goldberg or Lesnar because things are getting a little screwy behind the scenes. When all else fails, go with Austin vs. Vince again because warming it up again six years later can’t hurt.
Victoria/Lita vs. Jazz/Molly Holly
Molly and Jazz get in an argument before the bell so Jazz walks out on the match. Victoria rolls Molly up for the pin in about thirty seconds. Jazz leaving didn’t change a thing.
Post match Molly beats the heck out of Victoria and pulls out some of her hair.
We look at the issues between Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels over the last few weeks.
Michaels doesn’t think he and Benoit can get along.
John Hennigan comes in to see Eric Bischoff and dubs himself Johnny Blaze. Some sucking up works as Bischoff makes him his apprentice. Austin comes in and stares Bischoff down as Bischoff says he had nothing to do with Lesnar last week. Now it’s Molly coming in demanding a rematch at Wrestlemania. Since she has Victoria’s hair in her hand, Austin makes it title vs. hair.
Molly panics at the idea of being bald. Austin: “You got a problem with bald headed people?” Hennigan tries to offer a handshake and gets a hard stare before Austin leaves. Apparently Molly and Victoria were told they couldn’t have a regular match but jumped at the chance for a hair match as it was the only way they were getting on the card. That’s some dedication to your craft.
Rosey/Hurricane vs. Mark Jindrak/Garrison Cade
The winners are in the four way for the title at Wrestlemania. Hurricane spins out of a wristlock to start and stops Cade with the superhero pose. It’s already off to Rosey for a kick to the chest and some superheroic arm cranking. The young guys try to pound Hurricane down to no avail so it’s a backbreaker for some more success.
A slam gives Cade two, showing off those developmental skills. Cade puts on a reverse chinlock but the power of a finger bite gets Hurricane out. It’s back to Rosey for the big Samoan drop but Jindrak hits a LOUD left hand to knock him off the top. A rollup with tights gives Cade the pin and the title shot.
Rating: D-. That’s one of the least necessary Wrestlemania appearances I can think of. You can almost guarantee a three way for the titles but the world was waiting for the thing to become a four way. Cade and Jindrak are a nothing team that barely ever even gets on the roster but they’re getting a Wrestlemania title shot? Why? Just to expand a match? That’s not exactly the best idea in the world.
Benoit only trusts himself, including in the tag match tonight.
Clip of Mick Foley’s great interview from last week where he got upset and promised to be here for revenge tonight.
Here’s Rico in the ring to introduce Stacy Keibler and Jackie Gayda to showcase their evening gowns. Rico: “These ladies are so hot they even make Rico melt.” I have no idea why I’m supposed to be more interested in seeing them in long gowns than the usual very revealing outfits they were but WWE has some weird notions. Rico talks about how gorgeous they are over and over again until Kane finally comes out (seemed like a missed cue).
In a surprising display of chivalry, Rico charges at him and then gets back up to save the women again. He gets chokeslammed for it but at least he tried. Kane promises to persecute Undertaker at Biblical proportions at Wrestlemania. I’m not sure what that means but Kane knows how to make it scary. The gong goes off and the blue lights come on, followed by an Undertaker symbol bursting into flames. JR thinks Kane might be afraid. Thanks for clarifying that the guy who looks terrified is actually scared.
Shawn and Benoit are in the back and nearly come to blows before their match. Benoit acts kindly by allowing Shawn to go first, though it might be due to Shawn’s music playing.
Shawn Michaels/Chris Benoit vs. Randy Orton/Batista
Benoit gets to start with Batista and drop toeholds him into the buckle. With Batista staggered, Benoit just launches himself for a forearm to the face and a knockdown. Shawn comes in and crotches Batista against the post (with Batista’s face freezing in a funny visual. He’s fine enough to try a Batista Bomb but Shawn punches his way to freedom. A whip into the corner works a bit better and it’s off to Orton for some stomping in the corner
Evolution starts taking turns on Shawn with a wide range of kicks and punches to the face. The HBK chants begin and like a good face, Shawn slugs away to little avail. Batista’s chokebomb is countered into a DDT (nice one) and it’s off to Benoit. A dragon screw legwhip takes Batista down and it’s time to roll some German suplexes. The Crossface goes on but Orton knocks Shawn into the hold for the break.
That’s enough for Benoit, who shoves Shawn but gets punched in the jaw. All four are down and we take a break. Back with Orton holding Benoit in a bow and arrow before switching to a bodyscissors with a pull of the face. JR: “Orton with those powerful legs. Who does he think he is? Joe Stecher?” Orton sticks with the legs by dropping one for two and we hit the reverse chinlock. Batista comes in for a half crab but Benoit fights up and scores with an enziguri.
Shawn doesn’t stick his hand out for a tag though, meaning Benoit has to suplex Orton and get about a foot away to bring Michaels in. Shawn cleans house and drops the elbow on Orton but Batista breaks up Sweet Chin Music. Everything breaks down and Benoit hits a German suplex on Orton, only to have Shawn accidentally crotch him on top. Shawn covers Orton but Benoit comes off with the Swan Dive anyway. The real fight is on and Orton rolls Shawn up for the pin.
Rating: B. This was much more storytelling than action, though the action was good. It’s also a weird way to do things as Benoit and Michaels look weak before the biggest match of the year. I guess you want to tease that HHH could win because of their issues, but HHH has looked strong long enough. Let Benoit and Shawn catch up to him a bit (Benoit needs it far more than Shawn) and don’t have them lose less than two weeks before Wrestlemania.
Post match Shawn and Benoit go at it until HHH runs in and Evolution beats the two of them down. The FOLEY chants go nowhere as HHH Pedigrees both guys.
Post break Foley arrives and Evolution isn’t happy, though they think it’s time to give Foley his weekly beating.
It’s time for the Highlight Reel, even though Chris Jericho is injured. Instead here’s Christian and we’ll be having the Peep Show. Last week Christian was a little rough with Trish and had her screaming in pain, but after that he had her in his hotel room and she was screaming in pleasure. Both things were a little rough but sometimes it’s the only way to go.
See, Christian did all of this in the name of tough love, and there is going to be more tough love at Wrestlemania when he faces Jericho one on one. This brings out Jericho to no music and Christian is scared, despite Jericho’s noticeable limp. Jericho charges in and the fight is on with Christian getting away off a kick to the knee.
We look back at the ATV deal.
Wrestlemania rundown. Another team will be announced for the Raw Tag Team Titles on Heat because IT MUST BE A FOUR WAY!
A tow truck steals Austin’s ATV. So he just left it sitting there?
HHH leaves because Evolution can handle Foley by themselves. Orton has something in mind.
Booker T./Rob Van Dam vs. Matt Hardy/Test
Non-title, meaning Test and Matt, who paid cash for his home and has more money than you, can’t win the titles. During the entrances, JR, asks why someone isn’t calling the cops about the ATV. Fair point, which isn’t likely to ever be addressed. As things get started, JR says that Jindrak and Lance Cade have already qualified, making me wonder again why they ever bothered with Garrison.
Van Dam dives onto Matt to start but gets taken outside for a whip into the steps. Back in and Test mocks Van Dam’s finger pointing and gets rolled up for two as JR suggests Lawler would get mad if he wore a crown. Rob kicks Matt down and the lukewarm tag brings in Booker. Everything breaks down and the Book End gets two on Test. Booker kicks Test down but stops for a Spinarooni, because Booker never learns. Matt gets in a cheap shot but Test kicks him down by mistake. The ax kick sets up the Five Star for the pin.
Rating: D. Just a quick tag match here as Booker and Van Dam continue to gain momentum, even though it’s not like they’re on top of a tough division in the first place. That being said, it’s not like either of them have anything better to do anyway so this is as good as anything else they could be doing. The match was nothing, but did you expect anything else?
Here’s Foley for the big show closing chat. He promised to be here tonight but here’s Evolution to cut him off. JR: “It’s time to pay Satan.” Well that’s a jump up in intensity. Orton doesn’t get why Foley is here because the weekly beatdowns are starting to hurt Orton’s hand. Foley can have the one on one match at Wrestlemania if he wants one but Foley knows that it’s too good to be true.
There is never going to be a one on one match because Evolution (Foley: “You watch your step Flair. I’ll knock you out!”) is always going to be around. Foley has something else in mind: a 3-2 handicap match (POP for that) with a special partner. Orton knows where this is going and tells Foley to go find a payphone and call Mr. Big Shot. Go tell Mr. Walking Tall that neither of them is watching after Wrestlemania.
Foley leaves to go make the call but has a better idea. How about Orton tells him to his face? Foley never said he was coming back to Raw alone, so cue the Rock at a full sprint. Orton looks terrified (well duh) and the Rock N Sock Connection cleans house with the Claw, Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow to Orton. Rock, with a goatee, says Evolution’s days of beating on Foley are over because Evolution is invited to a one of a kind beating at Wrestlemania. Catchphrases are hit to end the show on a hot note.
Overall Rating: C-. The Wrestlemania build is starting to suffer as there is so much stuff going on that they’re trying to cover everything at once and it’s starting to collapse. The triple threat is getting the attention it deserves but other than that, it feels like they’re throwing in a bunch of people onto the show instead of trying to build the stories up into something interesting. That pay per view card video felt really heavy and that’s not what you want going into one of the biggest shows of all time.
This week’s show wasn’t bad but there’s very little that I really want to see. Goldberg vs. Lesnar is in a weird place (mainly due to contract issues) where neither can show up and the best story is over on Smackdown. That leaves you with HHH standing tall for the moment and Austin vs. McMahon again, at least for the time being. It leaves the build feeling somewhere between weak and messy, and that’s not a good place to be.
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