Date: July 11, 2004
Location: Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
It’s the final pay per view before Summerslam and that makes this one kind of a quick stop more than anything else. The main event is HHH getting yet another shot at the title because that’s his inalienable right. The wildcard this time is Eugene, who HHH has manipulated into thinking World Champion Chris Benoit is out to get him. I’m sure this will go according to plan. Let’s get to it.
The opening video looks at Benoit’s path to the title. HHH doesn’t like that Benoit is holding his title and tonight, it’s time to set things right.
Rhyno/Tajiri vs. Garrison Cade/Jonathan Coachman
This is mainly about Tajiri vs. Coach but I don’t think anyone was going to tolerate that on pay per view so this was set up on Heat. Coach freaks out upon seeing Rhyno as Tajiri’s partner. Appropriately enough, Coach and Rhyno start things off….with Coach tagging out five seconds later. Rhyno shoulders him down without much effort so Cade yells at the referee and slaps Rhyno in the face.
The beating begins in a hurry with Cade bailing to the floor to avoid the Gore. Tajiri comes in and hits Cade in the face before getting two off la majistral. A Coach distraction lets Cade get in a few shots though and Tajiri is in trouble for the first time. That means Coach gets to be on offense and somehow he’s more coordinated than a lot of full time wrestlers.
A double suplex drops Tajiri to give Cade two but Coach charges into a boot in the corner to set up the Tarantula. The mule kick is enough for the hot tag off to Rhyno so the pace can pick up. Tajiri tags himself back in as Rhyno is sent to the floor and it’s a handspring double elbow to Cade and Coach. There’s the mist to Cade (King: “Cade’s been mystified!”) and the big kick to the head gives Tajiri the pin on Coach.
Rating: D+. Fine enough for a Heat main event, but this wasn’t exactly pay per view worthy. At least they had something with some energy and a villain that the fans wanted to see get beaten up. That doesn’t make it a good idea though and it’s some time that could have been better used elsewhere.
Evolution has a meeting about Eugene and HHH says it’s cool. Flair isn’t convinced but HHH says when the time is right, Eugene….wait where is Eugene? They’re not sure if he’s here so HHH goes to find him. He does indeed find him, talking to Benoit, who tells him that Evolution only cares about HHH getting the title. Benoit tells Eugene to be careful and leaves. HHH isn’t pleased.
Batista vs. Chris Jericho
These two have been having some issues in tag matches so tonight it’s a regular match. Batista starts with the straight power by throwing knees to the ribs in the corner. Jericho gets smart by low bridging him to the floor, giving us a perfect summation of the match in a nutshell in the early going. A missed charge lets Batista pull Jericho outside for some shots to the head and a neckbreaker of all things gives Batista two. I’ve never seen him use that before or since and it was weird to see from him.
That’s followed by a seated half nelson as I wonder where all of this offense came from and went. Batista pulls him down into a regular full nelson but Jericho gets up and leverages him outside a second time. Back in and a dropkick to the knee staggers Batista so he forearms the heck out of Jericho in return. Again: power vs. intelligence and cunning. Jericho’s top rope back elbow to the jaw gets two, followed by Batista’s side slam for the same. It’s back to the back with back to back shots to the back, followed by a backbreaker. You can’t say Batista isn’t focused.
Jericho flips out of another backbreaker attempt (more intelligence) and hits a chop block. The Walls are broken up though and Batista hits the big spinebuster for two. The Batista Bomb is reversed into a rollup for two and Batista is getting mat at Jericho for not letting it end. Jericho bulldogs him down but the Lionsault hits knees. He’s fine enough to hit the running enziguri for a delayed two but it’s another spinebuster to destroy Jericho. The Batista Bomb is good for the pin, even with Jericho’s foot on the ropes.
Rating: C+. There was a nice story here with Jericho trying to outsmart the powerful Batista but not being able to overcome the huge power advantage. That’s a great rub for Batista who beat a former World Champion and never felt like he was in any real trouble at all. He’s becoming a bigger and bigger deal every single time and it’s not like Jericho is going to lose much by putting him over here. He’s Chris Jericho, and that’s going to keep him over no matter what.
An upset Eugene sits on Evolution’s couch and HHH starts up the manipulation machine, saying that Benoit is just lying to him to protect the title. Remember when Benoit hit him with a chair a few weeks ago? Tonight, they’re taking the title back, but first they have a surprise for Eugene. It’s an old Ric Flair robe, with Flair staring bullets through Eugene as he hands it over. The manipulation stuff is great, but I’m kind of dreading where it’s going.
Tag Team Titles: La Resistance vs. Ric Flair/Eugene
Flair and Eugene are challenging. Flair’s music cuts off O Canada and Flair looks so annoyed at having to be here. Eugene and Conway start things off and let’s have a WOO first. The second WOO comes after Conway is taken into the corner and Flair’s frustrations continue. A drop toehold lets Eugene grab a headlock in a Flair spot and it’s time for the chops. Flair: “THAT’S MINE!!!”
Grenier comes in and wants Flair but gets Eugene doing Flair’s shinbreaker instead. A few shots stagger Eugene and he does the Flair Flop in a funny bit. The Figure Four is broken up though and Eugene is kicked into the corner, allowing Flair to tag himself in and work off some annoyances. Flair WOO’s a lot and shows Grenier how to throw the chops and punches in the corner. A suplex drops Conway and there’s the strut, meaning NOW we go to school with the Figure Four.
Some easy cheating lets Grenier break it up though and now it’s Flair in trouble for a change. Grenier hammers away in the corner and hands it off to Conway, who actually wins a chop off. Flair can’t chop his way out of trouble and a backdrop gives Grenier two. The required chinlock, with Grenier kneeling to the side behind Flair for a unique style, goes on and the fans cheering for Flair in this situation still feels weird.
The front facelock keeps Flair in trouble and Conway runs around to pull Eugene off the apron for a ram into the steps. Back in and Au Revoir hits Flair but Eugene is all fired up for the save. Conway’s legs get wrapped around the post and Eugene pounds on Grenier in the corner but a shove to the referee draws the DQ.
Rating: C. Another perfectly fine match as Eugene knows how to do the Flair tribute act, which in this case makes a lot of sense. I’m glad they didn’t change the titles here as the wacky champions thing really isn’t necessary here when you already have HHH as the real big bad in the whole thing. La Resistance are fine as the heel champions and they can hold onto the belts in this role for a good while.
Post match Eugene hits a Stunner, Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. Flair looks so annoyed as Eugene tries to hug him to make things better after the loss.
We recap Kane vs. Matt Hardy. Lita agreed to sleep with Kane to get him to leave Matt alone and got pregnant in the process. Matt is furious (and rightfully so), meaning tonight it’s a No DQ match so Matt can get revenge and Kane can have some fun.
Matt Hardy vs. Kane
No DQ and no countout. They start the fight in the aisle with Matt getting in a few right hands. The Twist of Fate on the announcers’ table is shoved away, with Matt nearly crushing a production guy in the process. Kane pounds away on the floor some more and then takes it inside for the first time for some choking in the corner. He switches it up to ripping at Matt’s face before cutting Matt down with a clothesline. Matt can barely stand so Kane asks why he doesn’t fight.
With Matt still down, Kane grabs a chair but gets caught with a Twist of Fate over the ropes. Kane’s feet get tied in the ropes so he’s hung upside down and there’s a bell shot to the head. The top rope legdrop to the back of Kane’s head connects and the Twist of Fate is good for two. Kane hits a chokeslam but would rather grab the steps than cover. Cue Lita (you knew this wasn’t ending until she came out) to beg for Kane’s forgiveness so he throws the steps down. Then he picks them back up, allowing Matt to hit them into his face with a chair for the pin.
Rating: D. This was Kane slipping on a banana peel to give Matt the win that doesn’t mean much. There’s nothing that is going to stop Kane from attacking Matt again and you can set up the bigger rematch at Summerslam from here. I haven’t been big on this whole story but I feel sorry for Matt after Lita had to save him again. Normally I would ask how much worse it can get but that’s never a good sign in wrestling.
In the back, Lita begs Matt to talk to him. Matt recaps the whole thing and asks her to stay away from the ring so both her and the baby can be safe. I’m sure she’ll listen too.
We recap Randy Orton vs. Edge. Orton has held the title for a long time now and has grown up during his reign. He’s becoming a bit too cocky though and Edge is ready to take a stand and become champion as he wants to run through Evolution.
Intercontinental Title: Randy Orton vs. Edge
Edge is challenging and JR gets in his stat of the night by saying the Intercontinental Title has changed hands more in July than in any other month. Doesn’t mean much, but that’s the kind of little trivia note that I like to hear. They trade headlocks to start as the fans are firmly behind Orton. Not what you would expect but I can kind of see the new version of Edge not being as popular. He’s been pushed pretty hard and hasn’t had the performances that made him a star since his return.
A crisscross goes on for a long time until Edge takes him down with another headlock. The threat of a dropkick sends Orton outside but Edge isn’t letting him walk up the ramp. Orton gets in a shot of his own though and suplexes Edge back in for two. As the champ rakes a boot over Edge’s face, Lawler has it figured out: Edge is jealous of Orton’s ability to get women. I’ll let you figure out how JR responds to that one. The chinlock goes on for a good while until Edge fights up with a clothesline to the floor.
Orton goes to get the title so Edge baseball slides him down and the fans are behind the champ again. A missile dropkick gives Edge two but the spear gets kicked away. Orton hits an elbow to the chest and now it’s a LET’S GO EDGE chant. Egads these people are fickle. Back in and Orton gets two off a legdrop to the back of the head as the announcers are rather confused by the crowd. Dude it’s a live wrestling crowd. Why would you expect them to make sense?
Orton chokes on the ropes and gets two off a dropkick, followed by another chinlock. A legdrop sets up another chinlock as they’re certainly dragging this one out. The fans accurately call this boring as the latest chinlock eats up two full minutes. Edge fights up and dropkicks Orton out of the air, followed by a neckbreaker to put both of them down again. A slugout goes to Edge and he gets two off a Russian legsweep. After shoving Orton off the top, Edge hits a high crossbody with the champ rolling through for two.
Orton pokes him in the eye and takes off a turnbuckle pad, which has to be some Flair influence. The Edgecution gets two more so Edge hammers away in the corner, only to get dropped face first onto the exposed buckle. That and a rollup with feet on the ropes are good for two but this time it’s Orton going into the buckle. The spear hits unexposed buckle but Edge is right back up with a whip into the steel, followed by the spear for the pin and the title.
Rating: B-. This was much more long than good as there’s a lot that could have been cut out to do the same match. The ending was really strong though and you could tell the fans were getting into things and wanted to see the title change. Even with the title loss though, you can tell that Orton is going to be getting a huge push as you don’t have him lose a long match clean like that without having something bigger planned. Good match, but much longer than it needed to be.
Orton gets the Goodbye Song because they really can’t make up their mind about what the heck they want.
Molly Holly vs. Victoria
#1 contenders match. Molly works on the arm to start as JR tries to figure out why she’s still wearing the wig. You would think it would have grown back in nearly four months. Victoria scores with a monkey flip but the shaking moonsault takes way too long. Instead it’s a moonsault press out of the corner for two on Molly so she heads outside with Victoria nearly screwing up a slingshot dive.
A trip sends Victoria’s face and shoulder into the steps for a near countout. Since that doesn’t work, Molly starts in on the arm with a seated armbar as you can’t fault the psychology here so far. A Fujiwara armbar keeps Victoria down but Molly misses an elbow. Victoria gets two off a powerslam but the arm gives out on the Widow’s Peak attempt. With the arm not an option, Victoria nails a superkick for the pin.
Rating: C+. Considering the spot they were in with this being an added match and in between the show’s two big matches, this had no expectations coming in and turned out to be a very nice match. It didn’t have any reason to be much but the girls did had a rather nice match with some psychology and good looking offense. Well done here in a very nice little surprise.
We recap HHH vs. Chris Benoit. HHH lost the title to Benoit at Wrestlemania and hasn’t really left the main event since. Now it’s time to get the title back and HHH has manipulated Eugene into being in his corner for this one, while Benoit is trying to convince Eugene of what’s really going on. The manipulation has been great on this story and while the fans aren’t exactly enamored with Eugene, it’s still good stuff.
Raw World Title: Chris Benoit vs. HHH
Benoit is defending and, as always, looks cool holding the title over his head on the stage. A fight over a lockup goes nowhere so Benoit armdrags his way out of a top wristlock. HHH’s headlock takeover doesn’t work so he tries it again and gets reversed all over again. Benoit finally gets sent into the corner and HHH….lets him get back up. It’s too early for the Crossface though and HHH gets outside for the breather. Back in and HHH scores with a jumping knee to the face, followed by a hard elbow to the jaw for two.
Instead of the face, HHH switches over to the back with a backbreaker before pulling Benoit out to the floor. Again he lets him back in though and it’s a snap suplex to take HHH down. A catapult sends HHH into the corner and a clothesline puts him on the floor. Benoit isn’t done and sends him into the steps as this is starting to pick up a few gears. Back in and Benoit misses the Swan Dive, setting up a heck of a Bret Hart chest first bump into the corner. HHH does it again for good measure and starts in with some kicks to the chest.
A release front suplex drops Benoit on his chest again and HHH does it again in a smart move. HHH puts a knee in the back and stretches both arms to stay on the chest as the targeting continues. They head outside with Benoit being whipped into the barricade, followed by another whip into the buckle for a few near falls. The abdominal stretch goes on and thankfully Lawler is right there to talk about how painful the hold is. Benoit reverses into one of his own but gets hiptossed down in short order.
The Sharpshooter works a lot better and HHH finally makes the rope, because just touching them a few seconds earlier didn’t count. HHH is in trouble so Benoit rolls the German suplexes. That’s enough to send HHH outside for the big dive through the ropes and they’re both down with the fans rather pleased. Back in again and this time the referee gets knocked out to the floor in a heap, which you had to know was coming. A Crossface attempt is countered into a DDT and they’re both down, allowing HHH to shout for Eugene. As Eugene comes out, HHH gets caught in the Crossface.
Benoit wisely shouts at Eugene to get the ref before flipping HHH back to the middle for the tap. There’s no referee so Eugene starts getting in, earning himself a big right hand from Benoit. That would be in the better safe than sorry category, though it lets HHH get in a low blow from behind. Now the Pedigree connects but there’s still no referee. Eugene brings in the chair this time as the referee is now face down on the mat.
Hang on though as Eugene grabs the chair, earning himself a shove to the floor and a lot of yelling. Benoit gets in a forearm to the face but has to chair down an interfering Batista and Flair. HHH kicks him in the injured chest but Benoit gets in a low blow so everyone is down. Now it’s Eugene with the chair and he’s not sure who to hit. Benoit grabs it as well but then lets go, sending it into HHH’s head. That’s enough for Benoit to grab a rollup and retain the title.
Rating: B+. I was digging the heck out of this until the Eugene stuff came into play but it wasn’t enough to derail everything. HHH was working on the chest for most of the match and then used it again in the end, though it was ultimately his own plans being a bit too big and evil that cost him. Benoit retaining is a good thing of course but I have a bad feeling I know where that ending is leading. At least it was a good, long match though and the ending was right, even with Eugene getting so much attention near the end.
Post match Benoit leaves so HHH can stare at a panicking Eugene to end the show. Make sure you end things on the real stars there guys.
Overall Rating: B. As usual, Raw is just that much better than Smackdown at the moment because the wrestling is that much better. While some of the storyline moves aren’t the best (again: Eugene), you’re almost guaranteed a few good matches on the show and pretty logical storyline progression. That might not be anything that reinvents the wheel but it gives you a good show, which is what this company needs after all the weekly messes on Smackdown.
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