Monday Night Raw – March 22, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: March 22, 2004
Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 12,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz

Things are staying hot around here with the second annual Draft (called a Lottery this year), meaning people are going to be changing shows. Tonight everyone from both rosters are here and they have a chance to go from Raw to Smackdown or vice versa. This could be anywhere between really interesting and a big waste of time. Let’s get to it.

The locker rooms are assembled, of course in their matching show shirts because UNITY!

Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman (in a neck brace thanks to an Undertaker Tombstone) are glaring at each other when Vince McMahon comes in to explain the concept: there will be a tumbler for each roster with six picks from either show. At the end of the night, there can be trades until midnight. Bischoff asks about champions and Vince says EVERYONE is eligible, including Randy Orton, who isn’t here tonight.

Opening sequence.

The GM’s come out for their first picks but Heyman has to give a speech about being attacked on Smackdown. He’ll deal with Undertaker on Thursday, but it’s time for the first pick: Rene Dupree.

After a quick photo op, Dupree comes to the ring to say he doesn’t want his last moment on Raw to be taking a beating from Steve Austin. Therefore, let’s have a match right now.

Chris Jericho vs. Rene Dupree

Dupree shoves him into the corner for a slap but gets taken down and smacked in the face over and over. The Walls don’t work so Jericho settles for the springboard dropkick off the apron. Back in and Jericho dropkicks him out of the air, setting up the French Tickler. Dupree tries it twice for some reason and Jericho rolls him up (with trunks) for two. Jericho hits a running crotch attack to the back and the step up enziguri is good for the pin.

Rating: D. I’m not sure what the point is in having your first draft pick lose clean in a short match but then again I’m not sure what the point is in having Rene Dupree as the first pick. The new aggressive Jericho is good and him winning like this would have made sense on any other night, but here it’s kind of questionable.

Post match Dupree yells a lot more so here’s Austin for a Stunner to send him to Smackdown. Beer is consumed.

Bischoff, after insulting Smackdown, makes his first pick to Raw: Shelton Benjamin. I’m still not sure why that team only got two Tag Team Title reigns and both of them in 2003.

Rico is in the ring for a match but it’s not Shelton coming out to face him.

Kane vs. Rico

Chokeslam in about twenty seconds.

Post match Kane makes it clear: he does NOT want to be on the same show as Undertaker. Kane leaves so Heyman makes his next pick: Mark Jindrak.

After a break, Bischoff’s pick is Nidia. This draft has been….interesting so far. Nidia’s graphic bio includes her measurements because what else could it be? Nidia comes out and takes off her Smackdown top to replace it with the Raw one.

It’s Heyman’s turn but here’s John Cena to interrupt again to a rather nice reaction. Cena says Heyman is wearing the neck brace because he’s blowing the whole lottery. Both shows want him but this isn’t a junior high dance so keep your pants on. Cena makes the next pick and hands Heyman one ball, though he still has no…..you can figure that out. Heyman and Bischoff argue over whether or not this counts but Bischoff insists. The pick is HHH, who does a spit take in the locker room. It’s about time we got a big name. The Raw locker room singes the Goodbye Song in a funny bit.

Christian vs. Spike Dudley

Spike charges to the ring and hits the running headbutt to the ribs. Some right hands in the corner draw Trish up to the apron for a distraction, allowing Christian to take over. Spike reverses a slam into a DDT and hits a big dive off the top to the floor. Back in and a top rope double stomp gives Spike two more but he gets sent into the post. The Unprettier gives Christian the pin.

Rating: D+. Not the worst match in the world as Spike was trying. There was no way that Christian was losing this soon though, especially when you have him facing Spike Dudley. They’re going to keep a lot of the matches short tonight though and that’s the right call, especially given how big tonight is. Spike was trying though and that’s not exactly a surprise.

A distressed Bischoff is ready to make his next pick but leaves to find Vince. Post break Vince says nothing can be done but Heyman comes in with an idea: tonight we have Eddie Guerrero defend the WWE Title against HHH. That’s the kind of thing Vince would do so he’s down with the idea.

Back in the arena, Bischoff picks Rhyno and gives him a shot at Chris Benoit tonight.

Raw Tag Team Titles: Evolution vs. Rob Van Dam/Booker T.

Ric Flair and Batista are challenging. Booker dropkicks Flair to start but gets chopped down, allowing the double tags to bring in Batista and Van Dam. That lasts all of ten seconds before it’s back to Booker, who is driven into the wrong corner. Flair comes back in and gets punched into a Flair Flop, followed by the required backdrop. A poke to the eye and more chops have Booker in trouble but he scores with a kick to the face.

Van Dam tags himself in and hits the fastest Five Star I’ve ever seen but Batista makes the save as we take a break. Back with Booker fighting out of a chinlock as they’re not exactly having people stay in the ring for very long. A Hart Attack with Van Dam coming in off the top with a kick to the face instead of a clothesline gets two on Batista. Flair chop blocks Van Dam down though and the champs are in trouble again. A few kicks to the leg set up the Figure Four but Van Dam is pretty close to the ropes.

Rob gets up and hits a spinwheel kick (with very little elevation due to the leg) to Flair’s arm (called the nose by JR), allowing the hot tag off to Booker. The Book End drops Batista and we hit the Spinarooni. An ax kick gets two with Flair making the save so Rob gives him Rolling Thunder. Rob tries to break up the Batista Bomb but kicks Booker by mistake, setting up the Batista Bomb to give us new champions.

Rating: D+. Is it any wonder that Booker and Van Dam are forgotten champions? They won the titles, held them for about a month, and lost them back to the same team. Now the question is whether Booker or Van Dam go to Smackdown, though both of them would benefit from the move. Evolution getting the titles back is hardly thrilling, but it’s not like any of the other teams are worth anything at the moment.

Heyman makes his next pick and it’s….Rob Van Dam. So there’s your answer to the previous question. For some reason Van Dam’s bio includes being an ECW Tag Team Champion but not the ECW TV Champion.

Booker and Van Dam promise to get the belts back because they have a rematch clause. Coach comes in to say no rematch because Van Dam is going to Smackdown. This is news to Van Dam and Booker isn’t happy.

Raw World Title: Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno

Benoit is defending and comes out wearing the title, I believe for the first time. They chops it out to start and Benoit runs him over with a hard elbow. An Alley Oop onto the top turnbuckle gets Rhyno out of trouble and he puts on a pretty good looking Sharpshooter. Benoit makes the rope and can’t get a Sharpshooter of his own. Instead he settles for the rolling German suplexes to set up the Swan Dive but Rhyno plants him with a spinebuster. The Gore is reversed into the Crossface though and Rhyno taps.

Rating: C-. Totally watchable match and there’s nothing wrong with giving Benoit a short win on a big show. Benoit is still getting established as champion and wins like this, where he Crossfaces anyone he faces, are going to help him. It’s not like Rhyno loses anything by tapping out here so everything is fine.

Shawn Michaels comes up to Bischoff and demands a trade to Smackdown so he can fight HHH. Instead, Bischoff gives him a title shot at Backlash, assuming he and Benoit stay on Raw. That’s cool with Shawn, likely along with several other people.

Bischoff gets another pick: Tajiri.

Heyman goes next and gets Theodore Long. Jazz is happy to see him go because he never made her any money anyway.

We keep going as Bischoff picks Edge. It’s about time Raw got someone big.

Smackdown’s last pick is Spike Dudley.

We’ll wrap it up with the final Raw pick, which is….Paul Heyman himself. Heyman panics and Bischoff makes it worse by suggesting that Heyman can wash his car. That’s a big negative though as Heyman refuses to come work for Bischoff and quits instead. Bischoff goes to the ring to celebrate but here’s the returning Edge (to a BIG reaction) to spear him down.

Smackdown World Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. HHH

Eddie is defending and HHH is still in his Raw shirt….which he tears off to reveal a Smackdown shirt. The early handshake offer is switched into Eddie telling HHH what he can kiss so HHH takes him into the corner. A hiptoss gets Eddie out of trouble and it’s an armdrag into an armbar on the arm that was in a sling last week. The rope gets HHH out of trouble and he heads outside, only to have Eddie ram the arm into the steps. Back in and the jumping knee cuts Eddie off and we take a break.

We come back with HHH whipping him into the steps and various other objects to work on Eddie’s back. A pair of hard whips into the corner stays on the back and a backbreaker plants Eddie again. HHH slaps on the abdominal stretch but gets caught grabbing the ropes. Smackdown referees don’t go for cheating like that. Eddie fights up and gets two off a tornado DDT but the facebuster gives HHH the same.

The Pedigree is countered into a catapult into the corner and Eddie hits the Three Amigos (FINALLY dubbed that by Tazz). Cue Flair and Batista though as JR and King suddenly take over on commentary. Batista hands HHH the title but here are Mysterio and Cena to even things up a bit. The distracted referee misses Shawn Michaels running in with Sweet Chin Music on HHH. Eddie goes up for the frog splash but Christian of all people shoves him off for the DQ.

Rating: B. This is more of a curiosity than anything else but it turned out to be a heck of a match. When you get rid of all the Evolution shenanigans (and HHH winning), you can actually get a very good performance from HHH. Eddie is of course golden right now and they made me believe a title change was possible. Good match, which this show needed.

The locker rooms empty out and it’s a big brawl. Kane and Big Show come out very late but here’s Austin on the ATV to bring out more Raw guys and beat up some goons to end the show. Cool moment, though I doubt it leads anywhere save for maybe a quick bit on Smackdown.

The final Draft moves:

To Raw

1. Shelton Benjamin

2. Nidia

3. Rhyno

4. Tajiri

5. Edge

6. Paul Heyman

To Smackdown

1. Rene Dupree

2. Mark Jindrak

3. HHH

4. Rob Van Dam

5. Theodore Long

6. Spike Dudley

Overall Rating: C. Aside from the main event this wasn’t much of a wrestling show, but at least we got a good main event and some interesting changes. The midcards of both shows need some upgrades so switching things up is a good idea. Now just do something new with those names and maybe we can go somewhere this summer.

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