Monday Night Raw
Date: December 20, 2004
Hosts: Jonathan Coachman, Jerry Lawler
We’re near the end of the year and that means it’s time for a special episode. This is the Best Of 2004, which means that we’ll be seeing matches and moments from Raw and pay per views, which could make for a rather eventful evening. If nothing else it’s going to make for a shorter show. Let’s get to it.
These will likely be clipped versions of the matches but for the sake of simplicity, I’ll be including the full versions.
From Raw, November 22.
We open in the locker room with Shelton getting ready for his match when Trish Stratus comes in wearing a towel. She asks where he’s off to looking so pretty. That would be a six man tag because William Regal and Tajiri need him. Trish asks about her needs but Shelton thinks she’ll find someone else. An aghast Vince McMahon comes in and freaks out because it’s a woman in a towel. It’s scandalous because the moral fabric of America is being pulled apart by the sexual and racial overtones. Shelton: “EXCUSE ME?”
Vince: “Well Shelton, you may not realize this but you’re an African American. And everyone knows that African Americans are attracted to attractive white Canadian women with broken noses!” Vince goes on a rant about how this isn’t the NFL or the NBA where such actions could send Shelton into the audience in a violent rage. Shelton tells Vince to lighten up and the towel comes down as the Monday Night Football theme plays. Vince can’t kiss her because of the nose guard so he looks to the camera and asks if we’re ready for some wrestling.
So for those of you who weren’t watching American television in 2004, there was a Desperate Housewives vignette that aired before a Monday Night Football game, featuring Nicolette Sheridan and Terrell Owens doing the same thing. This was treated as the biggest disgrace in the history of television with people freaking out over a WOMAN IN A TOWEL (ok it was more her dropping the towel). It was stupid and completely overblown, though this opening has always been one of my favorites. Vince informing Shelton that he’s African American cracks me up every time as Shelton just looks lost.
Lawler and Coach welcome us to the show explaining the basic idea, which shouldn’t take more than about ten seconds.
From Wrestlemania XX.
Christian vs. Chris Jericho
Jericho wastes no time by punching him in the jaw and adding a clothesline for a bonus. A backdrop puts Christian on the floor and Jericho follows him out with a springboard dive. Back in and Christian backdrops him over the top and the big crash has Jericho in trouble for the first time. Back in and Christian cranks on the neck, followed by a chinlock for a change of pace.
A spinwheel kick gives Christian two but they ram heads to knock each other down. An exchange of rollups with an exchange of cheating get two each so Jericho goes with the bulldog. The Lionsault hits knees though and Christian grabs a backbreaker for two of his own. Christian grabs a Texas Cloverleaf to work on Jericho’s recently injured knee, which the announcers don’t actually mention.
That’s one of the reasons I was looking forward to watching this show with the TV beforehand. The Cloverleaf makes more sense when you know Jericho is coming in with a recent injury, but the commentators don’t bother mentioning it here, making the Cloverleaf seem a bit random. Jericho slips out and sends Christian to the floor, followed by a butterfly superplex for a delayed two. I believe there was a botched attempt that has been edited out of the Network version.
They’re both down so here’s Trish, with Lawler saying she can make jogging a spectator sport. An implant DDT gives Christian two and he drags Trish inside. Jericho makes the save and checks on her but Trish accidentally elbows him in the face. Christian’s rollup gives him the surprise pin.
Rating: B. This whole story has always been one of my favorites so it’s cool to see the match be a good one. It’s certainly no classic but Christian winning was the right call and the story can move forward from here. Both guys have gotten something out of this story and Trish is advancing as well. Good match, easily the best thing on the card so far.
Post match Trish apologizes to Jericho as Christian runs back in. Trish tries to hold Jericho back and then slaps him in the face over and over, morphing into Evil Trish (works for me), allowing Christian to hit the Unprettier. Christian and Trish leave but stop to kiss on the stage. This worked for everyone, especially Trish who works far better in this role.
Coach is asking Lawler to act more professionally, which takes us to a look at Eugene. Thankfully the HHH feud is mostly ignored.
We look at Shelton Benjamin’s true life stories, which are a great way to build up some sympathy for him.
From Raw, March 29.
Shelton Benjamin vs. HHH
Shelton now has his own generic rock music. HHH takes him into the corner to start and offers a polite slap to the face for the break. Shelton easily wrestles him down twice in a row, with a little slap of his own after the second. A shoulder drops Shelton but he pops up before HHH can even try the knee drop. The Pedigree is escaped but HHH says it was that close. A backslide gives Shelton a very close two and he does the “that close” gesture right back to HHH (which was in Shelton’s Titantron video for a long time).
HHH chops away in the corner as the fans remind HHH that he tapped out. The dragon whip gives Benjamin two and it’s off to an armbar. Cue Flair to back HHH up but Benoit follows him out and we take a break. Back with Shelton holding another armbar until HHH sends him in for the jumping knee. Shelton goes shoulder first into the post twice in a row and you can hear the relief in Lawler’s voice.
Right hands and the knee drop give HHH two and it’s time for the sleeper. You can hear Benoit playing cheerleader (there’s an image) until Shelton sends HHH face first into the buckle for the break. A jumping back elbow puts HHH down as he just can’t put Shelton away. Lawler is starting to panic a bit but HHH suplexing his way out of a sleeper calms him down a bit.
HHH dives into some raised boots (still the least believable spot in wrestling) and falls to the floor, allowing Shelton to hit a clothesline from the apron. The top rope clothesline gets two back inside and a powerslam is good for the same. A Pedigree attempt is countered into a jackknife cover for two more but Flair gets in a cheap shot. Benoit goes after Flair to distract HHH and it’s a Stinger Splash into a rollup to give Shelton the big upset.
Rating: B. So he won’t work Tuesdays but he’ll do the job on Mondays. This is the way you make someone look like a star and that’s exactly what they did here. Shelton is a great choice for a major push and it’s not like HHH is going to lose anything by putting him over here. It was even mostly clean with HHH getting distracted on his own and not being able to put Shelton away earlier. They did a good job here at making Shelton look good here though and that’s the right idea.
Video on Tribute to the Troops.
We look at the Kane and Lita wedding.
Quick look at Gene Snitsky costing Lita her baby and Kane turning face again, because everything can be forgiven that simply.
From Taboo Tuesday.
Kane vs. Snitsky
They need a legal weapon, so here are the results:
Chain – 41%
Chair – 30%
Lead Pipe – 29%
Kind of weird as the chair and pipe have been used while the chain hasn’t been a factor at all. Lita actually comes out with Kane as the slow face turn continues. They get in an early tug of war over the chain, which Kane throws outside. Right hands in the corner have Snitsky in early trouble and the threat of a chokeslam sends him outside. Now we can have the chain but Snitsky takes it away, only to get caught with an uppercut.
Snitsky uses the chain to pull Kane into the post and it’s time to choke with the chain inside. Kane’s comeback is cut off with elbows and clotheslines. Some whips with the chain set up a choke, which just seems to annoy Kane more than anything else. Back up and Kane slugs away with a big boot giving us a double knockdown.
Snitsky is up first and goes for the chain but Lita takes it away. The chokeslam is broken up with right hands so Kane sends him over the top. A dropkick to the steps sends them into Kane’s knees and there’s a chair to his throat. Choking with the chair keeps Kane down and Snitsky actually Pillmanizes his throat. Kane is bleeding from the mouth but Snitsky, being a good monster, covers him anyway before the medics can come in to help.
Rating: D+. The wrestling was your usual garbage brawling but the point here is how awesome Snitsky is getting over as a monster. I know he has a very firm ceiling above him, but it’s nice to see them actually getting someone over. Raw has needed fresh blood for a long time now and Snitsky is certainly better than nothing.
The medics take their time helping Kane as Lita actually looks concerned. Snitsky continues being awesome by turning the stretcher over on the stage.
Last week, Lita promised Snitsky that Kane is coming back.
Video on Chris Benoit’s rise to the main event.
From Wrestlemania XX.
Raw World Title: HHH vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
HHH is defending and wearing white boots for a really weird look. We don’t get Big Match Intros but we do have a weapons check. The fans are behind Benoit here, to the surprise of no one paying attention. Benoit goes after both of them to start but Shawn wants to beat on HHH. A way too early Crossface attempt doesn’t work on Shawn, who is sent into HHH to knock the champ outside. The second Crossface attempt is countered into a rollup for two but HHH is back in to clothesline Michaels.
Now it’s Benoit being sent outside so Shawn and HHH can have their big showdown. That doesn’t last long (you save the big stuff for later) as HHH goes outside to drive Benoit into the barricade. Shawn is right up with a moonsault onto the two of them for a big crash. Back in and HHH hits the facebuster on Shawn but Benoit breaks up the Pedigree. Shawn goes shoulder first into the post, again leaving us with two instead of the three.
Benoit can’t get a belly to back superplex as HHH pulls him down into the Tree of Woe and whips Shawn into him for a near fall of his own. HHH gets sent into him as well for the same two but Benoit gets free for the rolling German suplexes. Michaels is right there to break up the Swan dive though, only to eat a DDT from HHH. With Shawn on the floor, HHH pulls Benoit off the top and hammers away.
That’s reversed into a Crossface with Shawn diving in for a save. Shawn tries his own rolling German suplexes on Benoit and I’ll let you guess how that goes. After Shawn bounces off the mat from Benoit’s third straight German suplex, the Swan Dive connects for two. Shawn forearms Benoit to the floor and nips up for the fight against HHH. The champ gets knocked down for the top rope elbow and Sweet Chin Music connects.
Benoit is right there to pull HHH to the floor of course and he sends Shawn into the post. The busted open Shawn (it wouldn’t feel right otherwise) gets caught in the Crossface so HHH grabs his hand to prevent the tap out. Benoit beats up HHH on the floor but gets sent into the steps. HHH loads up the announcers’ table and Shawn joins him to double suplex Benoit through the table. NOW we get the big Shawn vs. HHH showdown and it lasts all of fifteen seconds with Shawn whipping HHH over the corner and back outside.
Back in and HHH (also bleeding) hits a quick Pedigree but can’t cover. Benoit dives in for a last second save and all three are down. A Pedigree to Benoit is reversed into a Sharpshooter in the middle of the ring so it’s Shawn coming back in with more Sweet Chin Music. That’s only good for two so Shawn tries it again, only to be sent to the floor. The Pedigree is countered into the Crossface and Benoit rolls him into the middle for the tap and the title.
Rating: A+. I never realized how much the Wrestlemania XXX match copied this one, down to the big double team through the table, the technical star who had worked forever to get here and winning with a very similar hold, plus other things I’m probably overlooking. Anyway, there isn’t much to say here as the match speaks for itself. It’s long in the right way, the near falls were great, the work and visuals were incredible and the right guy won. I’m sure you’ve seen this one at least once and if you haven’t, find the time to sit down and watch Benoit’s crowning achievement.
Benoit is in tears as Eddie comes out for the big celebration. Confetti falls (another Wrestlemania XXX scene) and JR has almost lost his voice shouting about how amazing this was. The ending is a spectacular visual and what should have been one of the most memorable moments ever.
Quick look at This Is Your Life Mick Foley.
Video on the Diva Search. My goodness they won’t let this go.
Christy joins Coach and Lawler and rubs King’s chest. They go off camera together with Christy saying she wants his bod. That would be a body spray you see.
From Raw, December 6.
Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Lita
Trish is defending and Lita looks very happy to be in her hometown. They lock up to start and fall to the floor as JR gets on Lawler for worrying about Trish’s nose. JR: “We’ll have a parade for her next week.” Back in and Lita knocks her to the floor, setting up the suicide dive with Lita landing on her head and thankfully not dying. A shot with the mask gives Trish two and JR goes off on Lawler again, this time for being glad to see Trish’s face. Trish pulls her up for the choke in the corner until Lita snapmares her way out.
The sleeper is broken up though and we hit the seated full nelson. Lita fights up and catches Trish on top, meaning it’s a top rope superplex for the double knockdown. The delayed cover gets two and Trish is right back with a kick to the head. Right hands in the corner are countered with a powerbomb but Trish grabs the rope to block the snap DDT. Stratusfaction is countered into the reverse Twist of Fate and the moonsault gives Lita the pin and the title for her first reign in four years.
Rating: B. There was a great energy here and the fans wanted to see Lita FINALLY beat Trish and take the title. That’s because they spent time setting this story up and it made the payoff that much better. It’s a big deal and felt like an important moment because WWE treated it like an important moment. This was the main event of the show and that’s not something you saw very often at this point.
Video on Randy Orton being thrown out of Evolution.
Video on the rise of Batista.
From Survivor Series.
Team HHH vs. Team Orton
HHH, Batista, Gene Snitsky, Edge
Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Maven
There’s no Maven to start and Ric Flair is at ringside to make it 5-3. Benoit gets aggressive with Edge in the corner to start and elbows him in the face to take over. That’s enough to bring in Snitsky and Orton, which is quite the strange looking showdown. Their slugout doesn’t last long and it’s off to Jericho vs. HHH to keep up the alternating matchups. Orton is right back in to hammer on HHH with Flair panicking about HHH taking such a beating.
The jumping knee to the face gets HHH out of trouble and it’s Batista hitting his powerslam for two. Edge comes in and gets sent into the corner, allowing the quick tag to Benoit, who beats up everyone in short order. The rolling German suplexes have HHH in trouble and Benoit suplexes Edge onto him. A double Swan Dive gets two with Snitsky having to make a save.
The Sharpshooter has HHH In trouble but Snitsky makes another save. That’s enough for HHH to hit a quick Pedigree so Edge can pin Benoit for the first elimination. Jericho comes in next and gets taken down by a neckbreaker but HHH and Snitsky gets in a shouting match. HHH gets shoved down so Batista comes in to go nose to nose with Snitsky. Batista realizes what’s going on and breaks up the Walls on HHH.
Flair gets caught breaking up the Walls again and that means an ejection. With the referee taking care of Flair, Batista blasts Jericho and Orton with a double clothesline. Orton breaks up the big clothesline to Jericho with a belt shot and it’s a running enziguri to eliminate Batista. That’s not it for Batista to leave in peace though so he blasts Jericho with the big clothesline and then heads out. Snitsky comes in for stomping and choking instead of covering because he’s new at this. It’s off to Edge, who gets taken down with a sleeper drop but Snitsky breaks up the hot tag attempt. Everything breaks down again but here’s a bandaged up Maven to come in and go after Snitsky.
Maven’s middle rope bulldog takes HHH down but Snitsky caves his head in with a chair shot that would get him tossed out of the building today. Here it’s just a DQ, though HHH pins Maven with no trouble a second later. We’re down to HHH/Edge vs. Orton/Jericho with Jericho slipping out of the Pedigree but getting speared down for two. HHH and Edge smile down at Orton, who says bring it on.
The double stomping is on with Edge stomping away and handing it off to HHH, with JR losing his mind that Edge won’t get out of the ring. HHH’s DDT gets two and he argues with the referee, allowing Orton to roll him up for two. Edge comes in and accidentally spears HHH to give Orton the easy pin. We’re down to HHH vs. Orton with the former starting fast with a low blow. Orton gets up again and counters the Pedigree into the RKO for the pin. The Orton vs. HHH part was barely a minute and a half long.
Rating: B-. Perfectly watchable match here with Snitsky still being protected and Maven still being Maven. Other than that they’ve done a good job of making Orton look like a threat to the title, but the two Canadians are just kind of there with little reason to believe that they’re going to be a threat t o the title. That leaves us waiting until probably the Royal Rumble for a new challenger, meaning it’s time for winter vacation without missing any time from the show.
Last week’s announcement of the Elimination Chamber at New Year’s Revolution wraps things up.
Overall Rating: C. I never know how to rate these things as it’s not like the original content is anything more than a bridge between the clips. They covered almost every big moment on the show this year, though some of the stuff was rather random (Christian vs. Jericho from Wrestlemania but not Rock/Foley vs. Evolution?). A Smackdown version would be nice, but something like Tribute to the Troops is hard to top. This was every best of show you could ask for and it’s back to normal next week.
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