Monday Night Raw – July 12, 2004

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 12, 2004
Location: Verizon Wireless Arena, Manchester, New Hampshire
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the night after Vengeance and while Chris Benoit is still World Champion, the big story is HHH (yeah yeah of course it is) and Eugene, who cost HHH the title with an accidental chair shot. I’m sure we now get to see the REAL HHH as he wants to get his revenge for his plan screwing up, which will in no way shape or form dominate the show for the next few weeks. Let’s get to it.

We open with Evolution in the back with HHH saying hands off Eugene tonight because he gets him first. Batista wants him first because he had to take Eugene to Chuck E. Cheese. Everyone protests and HHH says he had it worst out of all of them because he’s HHH and it’s always about him. A very sad looking Eugene comes in but HHH smiles at him. Everyone makes mistakes and friends are friends. HHH isn’t mad at him but Eric Bischoff probably is.

Eugene has to go see him now and leaves, so Orton asks the obvious question: when do we get to go to Chuck E. Cheese? Or maybe that’s what I’d ask. Orton asks WHY ARE THEY NOT DESTROYING EUGENE (I’d like to know myself) but HHH says that once they see what Bischoff has in mind for Eugene, it’ll make sense. So if HHH knows, why is he not telling them? You mean this hasn’t been mentioned all day? I know HHH likes to have these huge schemes but at this point, it’s getting so stupid that it’s out of character for him.

Opening sequence.

Edge vs. Batista

Non-title. JR and King are already putting over Orton vs. Edge as an all time classic and I still don’t get it. Yeah it was long, but that doesn’t mean it was some masterpiece, especially with that much chinlocking. Batista shoves him down a few times to start so Edge tries a headlock for the slightest bit more of success. By that I mean it lasts all of ten seconds before Batista shoves him away again. This time it’s some right hands to the head for little effect as Batista gets in his own shot to the head to take over.

Choking both in the corner and on the ropes fire Edge up for some reason and it’s a middle rope ax handle to stagger Batista. A hard whip into the corner slows Edge down but he drop toeholds Batista face first into the middle buckle. Edge dropkicks him out to the floor and here’s Orton as we take a break. Back with Batista cranking on both arms and Orton already having been ejected. Geez Earl give him some time.

Edge fights up and King starts plugging the upcoming Divas Search segment. A side slam plants the champ again and we hit the camel clutch (which shows off Batista’s wedding ring). Batista lets go so he can shout at Edge and crash down onto his back again, because he’s learning how to be a villain just that fast. The Edge O Matic gets Edge out of trouble again and the Edgecution connects for two.

Batista sidesteps the spear though and it’s a spinebuster for two more. A Stunner over the ropes drops Batista one more time and a missile dropkick gives Edge yet another near fall. Edge tries the spear again but gets caught in a spinebuster, only to climb over Batista and roll him up with a grab of the rope for the pin.

Rating: B. Total heel move here for Edge, as he and Batista were even again after Orton’s quick ejection. I know it’s not a heel turn but that was about as clear cheating as you can get. That issue aside, this was a heck of a match here with Batista looking WAY ahead of where he should be at this stage of his career. He’s picked it up in a very fast hurry and he’s becoming a lot of fun to watch every time he’s out there. Edge needing to cheat to win is a great sign for Batista and a sign that WWE understands that Edge’s face run isn’t exactly working.

Eugene comes in to see Bischoff….who is very proud of him. He was proud of Eugene for doing a great job last week so tonight, Eugene can have a title shot against Benoit. So HHH’s plan is to have Eugene win the title, likely through help from Evolution, and then take the title himself. In other words, exactly what Vengeance should have been but with Evolution destroying Benoit instead of Eugene? Am I missing something here?

Lawler is on the stage and gets to introduce three of the finalists in the Diva Search before the casting special on Thursday. First up is Candice Michelle, who was in Dodgeball and will be in the Lingerie Bowl. That gets a reaction, even though it’s about seven months away. Oh and she can touch her tongue to her nose. I guess we get to waste time with the others later.

Flair isn’t happy about Eugene getting a title shot but he’s happy about his autobiography being a success. He’s still not done ranting about Eugene though because last week he played Ring Around the Rosey. Again, it was a bunch of chairs in a ring and Rosey was nowhere to be seen. Hurricane comes in to say that while he shouldn’t be seen conversing with Flair, he’d like an autograph in his copy of Flair’s book.

Flair says not so fast because Hurricane is a joke in a stupid costume. Hurricane isn’t even upset because it’s not as good as Rock’s book. Or Hogan’s book. Or even CHYNA’S book. Dang when is the last time you heard her name on Raw? Flair drops him with one punch and the match is made for tonight. Ric punching out a comedy guy seems like the most Flair thing he could do.

Rhyno vs. Robert Conway

Tajiri is here to counter Sylvan Grenier. Rhyno gets caught in a headlock to start and a hair pull takes him down to the mat. Conway sends him outside for some assisted stomping and it’s already off to the chinlock. Rhyno’s comeback doesn’t take long and it’s a backdrop into a belly to belly for two. The spinebuster makes things worse but Grenier grabs Rhyno’s foot. Tajiri SMASHES him in the back of the head with a kick (that looked great) and now the Gore connects to give Rhyno the pin.

Rating: D. No time for this to go anywhere but it did what it needed to do and an awesome kick to the head. It’s not like there are any other teams to fight for the titles at the moment and Tajiri and Rhyno don’t have anything else going on. There’s nothing wrong with throwing two people together into a team, even if it’s for a one off title match.

Tyson Tomko vs. Maven

Trish Stratus and Nidia are here as well. Tomko throws him around to start and gets two off a fall away slam. Nidia grabs the foot though and it’s time for some stalking, allowing Maven to knock him off the apron. Back in and Tomko drops him throat first across the top but gets dropkicked for two. A Trish distraction doesn’t work and Tomko kicks Maven in the head for the pin. Way messier than it should have been but as bad as I was expecting.

William Regal comes in to see Benoit and says that while he knows Benoit doesn’t like him, Eugene is a different story. HHH and Evolution are inside Eugene’s head and Regal just wants him to be ok. Benoit cares about Eugene but tonight it’s about the World Heavyweight Title and he’ll do whatever it takes to retain. Regal looks nervous.

It’s time for the Highlight Reel. Jericho lists off some of his career accomplishments but last week he topped it all by winning MUSICAL CHAIRS BABY! As fun as that was, we have some serious issues to deal with tonight. That’s why we’re dealing with things right here, so here’s Kane as the first guest. Kane, with the mic not working very well, says he doesn’t like Jericho making fun of him. Other than that though, he’s not happy with Lita for costing him the match at Vengeance against Matt Hardy.

Kane demands she come out here right now so here’s Lita. She’s made him angry and bad things happen when he gets angry. Lita doesn’t want to hear about this because Kane isn’t going to do a thing. If Kane wants to talk about suffering, it’s possibly being impregnated by a man you despise. Or having the one man you love not speaking to you. Or waking up not knowing who the father of your baby is. Kane smiles and says he’ll just take this out on Matt because he has the power to create and end life. Lita still isn’t scared because Kane couldn’t be the baby’s father since he’s not man enough to be.

She leaves so Kane starts breaking things, with Jericho going over to save the Jeritron 5000. Kane throws him out and leaves but Jericho wants to fight. Jericho accuses Kane of leaving prematurely, just like everything else he does prematurely. Jericho: “You just got punked out by a chick! Lawler, you can cancel this Diva Search because we just found a winner!” The insults keep coming until a question about Kane’s genitalia bring him back.

Kane vs. Chris Jericho

Joined in progress with Kane holding a chinlock until Jericho fights up and dropkicks him into the corner. A high crossbody gives Jericho two but Kane drops him throat first across the top. Jericho’s ribs are bent around the post and a side slam sets up a weird looking cover for two. Some knees to the back keep Jericho in trouble and the bearhug makes it even worse.

Jericho fights up and hits a running crotch attack to the back, only to get kicked in the face for his efforts. The top rope clothesline is dropkicked out of the air and they’re both down. Back up and Jericho avoids a running big boot in the corner so the Walls can go on. That lasts all of five seconds as Kane is too close to the rope. And with nothing else working, Kane punches him low for the DQ.

Rating: C-. Not too bad here until the ending. It’s a good idea to have Kane switch over to fighting someone else instead of facing Hardy again the night after losing to him at Vengeance. That’s something that WWE almost refuses to do today. Let them have a one off match like this to keep the feud a little more fresh. Why can’t that be the case more often?

Post match Kane chokeslams Jericho and the referee at the same time.

Lawler brings out the second Diva Search contestant: Nina Harden, who plays to the crowd and smiles a lot. She also makes her own clothes because she’s passionate about them. Lawler has her dance a bit and that’s it, thank goodness. It takes something extra stupid to make a good looking woman dancing boring and they’ve made it work.

Smackdown Rebound.

Ric Flair vs. Hurricane

Hurricane hammers him down to start and that means a Flair Flop. Back up and Flair sends him shoulder first into the post to take over. Chops set up the knee drop and it’s right back to the arm in a smart move. Hurricane fights back and sends him over the corner for the Flair Flip to the floor and Flair’s ear is bleeding.

A low blow gets Flair out of trouble but Hurricane kicks him in the face. The Blockbuster gets two so Hurricane goes up again, allowing Flair to crotch him back down. The standard leg work begins but this time Flair takes him outside for a right hand to the knee to add a little flavor. A knee drop sets up the Figure Four and Hurricane taps completely clean.

Rating: D. Nothing to this one with Flair just doing his old stuff and winning clean. The problem is that it’s Flair in there with a guy like Hurricane, who should be more than a guy tapping out to Flair in 2004. This was pretty lame stuff and felt like filler, which isn’t a good sign for someone who is part of the top heel faction.

Clip from a Smackdown Your Vote rally.

It’s time for the third Diva Search hopeful: Carmella DeCesare, who talks about her puppies. They would be a chocolate lab and a poodle. Lawler: “That’s great. Whatever.” She really wants to work for Vince McMahon and her special talent is being the 2004 Playmate of the Year. A quick hello to Hugh Hefner wraps this up, thank goodness.

Benoit interrupts Eugene’s chat with a stuffed animal and says he wants a clean wrestling match tonight. Eugene seems hesitant but agrees.

Raw World Title: Eugene vs. Chris Benoit

Benoit is defending. JR says Benoit went 38 minutes last night against HHH. The match wasn’t even half an hour so I don’t know where they got that one, though HHH matches do have a history of feeling like they’re going on forever. Eugene tries to chop with Benoit to start and actually claps after getting the skin ripped off his chest. A belly to back suplex gives Benoit two and it’s time to roll the German suplexes.

It’s way too early for the Swan Dive though and Eugene gets two of his own off the crash. Eugene’s Pedigree attempt is backdropped so he gives Benoit a spinebuster but the People’s Elbow is pulled down into a Sharpshooter. A rope is grabbed in a hurry and Eugene snaps, nailing some right hands for two more.

Eugene rolls some German suplexes and puts on a Crossface (his finishing moves in OVW, where he was basically a Benoit clone) in the middle of the ring. Benoit gets a foot on the ropes so Eugene sends him shoulder first into the post. Lawler: “That was brilliant! I didn’t just say that did I?” The Rock Bottom gives Eugene three, though Benoit’s foot was on the rope. Eugene celebrates with the title….and here’s Evolution to beat both of them down for the no contest.

Rating: D+. And Eugene is done as far as anything entertaining. The problem is that Eugene had a firm ceiling and a very short shelf life. They’ve completely ignored both of those things and put Eugene in so far over his head (the character, not Nick Dinsmore, who could possibly hang in there with a regular gimmick) that there’s no getting out. It was fine when Eugene was having goofy comedy matches with Rob Conway or the Coach, but now he’s going move for move with Chris Benoit.

There’s no logical way that this can work and the charm is gone. Eugene should have maxed out as a comedy guy who occasionally beats a midcard heel. Now he’s the key to the whole World Title picture, even though HHH can’t quite explain why he’s using Eugene instead of, you know, the army that he has at his disposal. The story does make sense if you squint enough, but it’s WAY more complicated than it needs to be. Anyway, the match wasn’t terrible, but it didn’t make sense and I couldn’t get around that.

The big beatdown is on, with Benoit, Eugene (busted open) and an invading William Regal getting destroyed.

Overall Rating: C-. Not the best show in the world, and it’s very clear that Vengeance was the annual pit stop show on the way to Summerslam. They need to drop the Eugene stuff in a hurry and then find someone fresh to challenge Benoit for the title. The HHH stuff is completely played out (shocking I know) and it’s time for something fresh.

The rest of the show ranged from good with Edge vs. Batista to bleh with Flair vs. Hurricane. Raw is up and down right now and the stuff that used to work isn’t as effective as it once was. It’s not a horrible show or anything but it’s trending in the wrong direction. The good thing is some fresh stories for Summerslam could perk it up, but I’m worried about what happens if they keep hammering these current ones in.



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