Monday Night Raw – April 12, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: April 12, 2004
Location: Allstate Arena, Chicago, Illinois
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the go home show for Backlash and we’ve actually got a big time main event this week. Last time, we had a huge closing angle to set up an eight man tag main event with Evolution facing off with Mick Foley/Shelton Benjamin/Shawn Michaels/Chris Benoit. The question now is can they live up to the hype. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of the eight man tag being set up, starting with HHH being counted out against Shelton.

A bandaged Shelton yells at Eric Bischoff (with Johnny Nitro in the background, somehow still with Barbie) for letting everything happen last week. Threats are made but Shelton’s partners come in to get him out before it gets bad. Foley takes Barbie back and violence is promised later.

Here’s Foley for the opening chat. Foley tells us to be very very quiet because he’s hunting Randys. Barbie is back where she belongs but tonight, he has to hand her over to someone, just not a nimrod like Johnny Nitro. Tonight he’s going to have to follow a few rules that won’t let him do what he wants to Orton. This is going to be his first match on Raw in four years and with his incredible partners behind him, he’s going to do some Mick Foley romping and stomping.

The problem is that on Sunday, he’s worried about getting obsessive when it comes to hurting Orton. That might not be the person that he wants to be. That’s a problem as Orton may be a jerk but he’s one of the best wrestlers in the world. Foley doesn’t want to extinguish one of wrestling’s brightest lights at Backlash…but he knows someone who would love to. That would be Cactus Jack, who Foley explains just in case you’ve forgotten. In short, Foley has a conscience but Jack just doesn’t care. Orton comes in and gets chased off just as fast.

This is one of the reasons Foley is my favorite wrestler of all time. Instead of playing multiple characters and rarely acknowledging the previous versions. Foley however is the real person who can turn into whatever he needed at the time. It’s such a different way of doing different characters and rather fascinating.

Kane vs. Grandmaster Sexay

Well there’s a surprise return. This would be Sexay’s first match on Raw since May 2001. Kane looks disgusted by his mere presence and shrugs off the early right hands. A missed elbow lets Sexay get two and an enziguri staggers Kane again. The big boot (which didn’t connect) puts Sexay down and it’s the side slam into the chokeslam for the pin. Not as much of a squash as you would have expected.

Trish Stratus is annoyed at having to face Chris Jericho on Sunday. Eugene comes up and recognizes the makeup lady but calls Trish s***. William Regal comes in for the save and Christian calms her down. He’ll do the work on Sunday and Trish can get the pin.

Tajiri vs. Five Star Ninja

Coach is here with the masked Ninja. Given the average size, generic movements and full body costume…it’s obviously Al Snow because Coach doesn’t have any other friends. Before the match, Coach says Tajiri wants to face him at Backlash, but that only happens if Tajiri can beat the Ninja. JR: “What’s the difference between a five star ninja and a two star ninja?” King: “Three stars.”

Feeling out process to start with Tajiri getting the better of a wristlock battle. The Ninja strikes away but gets kicked in the arms, followed by the handspring elbow. Tajiri goes for the mask but gets kicked in the back of the head. King: “Don’t tug on Superman’s cape and don’t ever try to unmask a ninja.” The referee gets poked in the eye and doesn’t see Coach break up the Tarantula with a cheap shot. That’s only good for two as JR makes fun of Coach’s screaming. Tajiri kicks him twice in a row for the fast pin.

Rating: D. I’m fine with them setting up something like this as it’s an actual story with a reason for the two to be fighting and a way to get to the match. That’s more than you get with a lot of the things around here so somehow, this is better than a lot of the current stories. Not bad, especially considering how low level this is.

Of course it’s Snow.

Ric Flair yells at Bischoff about Shelton and gets a match with him at Backlash. He opens the door and is immediately punched out by Shelton, who seems to become the only wrestler in history to actually watch the show live on a monitor. A beatdown ensues and Flair is left laying.

HHH talks about how the main event of Wrestlemania was great but now they all have something to prove. Benoit needs to prove that it wasn’t a fluke. Shawn needs to prove that he’s still the Showstopper. HHH will prove that he’s still the best in the world.

It’s time for the Highlight Reel with JR mentioning that this is the arena where Jericho debuted. Jericho can’t wait for Backlash because he’ll finally be getting the match he’s wanted since Wrestlemania. What a long wait it must have been. He rips on Trish some more, saying it’s Y2J vs. CLB vs. FDDBBTH and once he gets the W, their careers will DOA and they’ll be MIA, just like DDP, forced to sell DVDs of the OC from HBO on AOL and QVC at the DMV and all the while, Trish will wish she had a little Vitamin C baby.

Jericho knows Trish likes it rough, so he starts barking. That brings up the clip of Trish barking for Vince three years ago, complete with some added sound effects. You can imagine the name that Jericho calls her as a result and brings up last week’s loss in the battle royal. That brings him to Lita, his guest for the week. Lita comes out but Trish jumps her, drawing out Bischoff to make a match.

Lita vs. Trish Stratus

Joined in progress with Trish hammering away and Jericho still at ringside. That means Christian comes out to even things up as Trish gets two off a bicycle kick. The chinlock keeps Lita down for a long time until Lita fights up with a knee in the corner. Stratusfaction is countered into a belly to back suplex and some HORRIBLE right hands keep Trish in trouble. A Russian legsweep gets two and Trish misses a charge to send her outside. Lita suicide dives onto her but Christian whips her into the barricade for the DQ.

Rating: D. Just a mess of a match and Lita’s comeback wasn’t exactly strong. I know these two are considered the greatest women ever until the Women’s Revolution but they really leave a lot to be desired more often than not. To be fair though, compared to some of the other women of their era, they were leaps and bounds ahead and I get why they’re beloved.

Post match Jericho beats the heck out of Christian but takes too long going for the Walls on Trish, allowing Christian to beat him down. Trish slaps Jericho in the face, allowing Christian to hit back to back Unprettiers. The Chick Kick wraps it up.

La Resistance wants to show the United States the error of their ways and they’ve moved to Quebec to be closer to their mission. As Conway goes on a rant against America, Eugene comes in behind them and plays with the Quebec flag. Regal makes the save.

Here’s Johnny Nitro for a chat. Nitro isn’t happy with what Edge did last week and would like Edge out here right now. Cue Edge, with his hand still in a cast. Nitro gets to the point: if Edge uses the cast against Kane, he’s suspended. Edge doesn’t care and spears Nitro down.

Sylvan Grenier vs. Hurricane

Feeling out process to start with Hurricane scaring him down off the superhero pose. A cheap shot in the corner doesn’t work for Grenier but he drops Hurricane ribs first across the top rope. Grenier knees him in the ribs a few times and sends Hurricane into the corner to stay on the ribs. We hit the abdominal stretch as Lawler thinks JR should steal Hurricane’s mask and be the Lone Ranger. A gutbuster gets two….and here’s Eugene with a stuffed bunny for Conway. That’s a no so he tries Grenier instead, with the bunny being ripped in half. The distraction sets up the Eye of the Hurricane to end Grenier.

Rating: D-. While Trish vs. Lita wasn’t very good, this was just really dull and there’s no other way to put it. La Resistance as the evil French (Canadian) guys isn’t interesting and putting them with Eugene isn’t going to make that any better. It’s a case of characters not working and WWE chugging away with them anyway because they don’t know when to give up, which is never a good idea.

Shawn Michaels has been asked how he’s going to top the Wrestlemania triple threat. It’s easy: He’s Shawn Michaels and that’s what he does. Three men are going to try to top what they did, but only one is walking out World Heavyweight Champion. “Why? Because I’m Shawn Michaels.” is the most Shawn answer ever and also rather accurate.

Smackdown Rebound, looking at JBL becoming #1 contender because there’s nothing else going on around there.

Video on Mick Foley’s history of violence, including clips of the Japanese death matches. This is just a way to catch the newer fans up and that’s fine.

Orton is very scared as he realizes what he’s gotten himself into.

Backlash rundown.

Chris Benoit talks about Wrestlemania being the biggest night of his life. It wasn’t about luck because it was all the hard work paying off. He’s going to do it again at Backlash and luck will have nothing to do with it. These short promos have all been very good.

Evolution vs. Shawn Michaels/Chris Benoit/Shelton Benjamin/Mick Foley

Shawn and Flair get things started in a good idea, though there aren’t many bad combinations to be found here. Flair gets sent into the corner and Shawn gives us a strut and WOO. A slap to the face sets up the Flair Flop, which still gets a reaction because it’s a funny spot. Some chops set up the backdrop and it’s off to Foley for the running knee lift. A right hand knocks Flair into the falling tag to HHH….which doesn’t count for whatever reason. The announcers sound confused as well and I can’t blame them.

Anyway, Benoit comes in to fire off some chops to Flair, who crawls over to tag HHH. This one counts, despite the referee’s back being to them this time. I know he’s been around forever but come on Chioda. Benoit throws HHH from corner to corner, including a trip to the good corner for some shots to the head. The jumping knee gets HHH out of trouble but it’s way too early for the Pedigree. It’s not too early for the Sharpshooter though and everything breaks down (BIG pop for that). Evolution is cleared out and Shawn dives onto everyone but Orton.

Back from a break with Benoit in trouble and HHH coming in sans tag (it doesn’t really matter) to choke away. Some chops to Flair allow the first hot tag to Foley for a right hand to knock Orton off the apron. The running knee in the corner rocks Flair and Shelton springboards in with a clothesline. A low bridge sends Benjamin to the floor though and HHH whips him into the corner for bad measure.

Back in and Shelton fights out of the corner until a spinebuster plants him all over again. The abdominal stretch goes on (with Orton pulling from the apron) for a bit until Foley comes in for a save. That’s not enough for the save though as Flair hammers away to keep Benjamin in trouble. We haven’t seen much from Batista so he gets to stomp on Benjamin’s ribs until a Dragon Whip finally allows the hot tag to Michaels. Shawn cleans house and hits the flying forearm on Orton, only to nip up into Batista’s big clothesline.

Everything breaks down and Shawn drops the top rope elbow on Orton. Sweet Chin Music hits Flair but Shawn walks into an RKO. It takes a long time to cover though, allowing Benoit to make the save with a Swan Dive. Foley backdrops HHH to the floor to break up a Pedigree and grabs the Mandible Claw on Orton. Batista makes the save but Shawn hits Sweet Chin Music on Orton for the pin.

Rating: B+. Who knew that putting eight highly talented wrestlers, including some of the best ever, in a long match with some very good young guys and letting them all do something would result in an awesome match? The crowd ate this up and the fact that they had so many Backlash matches in one showcase was all the better. This was a blast and flew by with a great ending to make it even better. Check this out if you get the chance.

Benoit and Shawn stare each other down as HHH pulls himself up between them to end the show.

Overall Rating: C+. As usual, this did what matters most for a go home show by making me want to see the pay per view. They built things up, even if the stories aren’t that great in the first place (Coach vs. Tajiri). The big matches look awesome though and the show has the potential to be outstanding, with this being the last big push that it might have needed. The main event is the only thing worth seeing, but the show did its job.

Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and pick up the paperback edition of KB’s Complete 2003 Monday Night Raw Reviews (also available as an e-book) from Amazon. Check out the information here:

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