Monday Night Raw – January 31, 2005

Monday Night Raw
Date: January 31, 2005
Location: HP Pavilion, San Jose, California
Attendance: 9,200
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

It’s the night after the Royal Rumble and that means the Batista train is pulling away. Batista won the Royal Rumble last night and that puts him on the path to Wrestlemania. The question though is…well ok it’s not really a question about which champion he’ll face but how will they get there. Let’s get to it.

Opening sequence.

Here are HHH and Ric Flair to open things up. Flair talks about how HHH knows he’s the greatest no matter what anyone thinks. Shawn Michaels came around and people started saying that HHH was “arguably” the greatest that ever lived. After last night though, there is no doubt about who the greatest of all time really is. HHH says Orton wasn’t quite destined to be the greatest because HHH is destiny. He could talk about how great he is but everyone knows it already.

That wasn’t all that happened last night though because something special happened. It’s the kind of thing that people are going to talk about decades from now. Therefore, here is Batista, the winner of the Royal Rumble, rocking a suit. HHH brags about Batista winning the Rumble, throwing John Cena out three times just to make the point clear. He’s proud of Batista because this is what they talked about from the beginning.

At first Batista was a guy with muscles in a t-shirt but now he has Armani suits, a Rolex watch, a Mercedes-Benz and women. Greatness gravitates to greatness and he’s a product of HHH after all. At Wrestlemania, it will be HHH’s honor to defend the title against Batista. After a smile, Batista says he’s glad to hear what HHH thinks of him. Now, let’s hear what Batista thinks of HHH.

We cut to a JBL promo from last night with JBL saying Batista can come to Wrestlemania and take a beating from the champ. As good as Batista is, he is not in JBL’s league. HHH doesn’t like what JBL said and tells Foghorn Leghorn that all Batista would have to do to be WWE Champion is come face JBL. However, he is NOT going to Smackdown because they’re having their big match at Wrestlemania. Batista never got to say anything after JBL’s promo. The pieces continue to fall into place.

Intercontinental Title: Shelton Benjamin vs. Simon Dean

Benjamin is defending. Dean hammers away to start as JR talks about him being a sponsor of the show. How you quickly transition from sponsor to title contender isn’t clear. Shelton fights back but Simon gets caught pulling something out of his bag. With the referee taking that away, Dean gets the bag up to block a Stinger Splash for two. Not that it matters as the Dragon Whip retains the title in a hurry.

Post match Simon says the only reason that happened was Shelton uses the Simon System. That earns him an exploder suplex to send him down to the lowest of the lower card for good.

HHH yells at Eric Bischoff about who put up that JBL clip. It turns into a threat, which Bischoff doesn’t like.

Wrestlemania Recall: Butterbean kills Bart Gunn’s career dead and knocks the Brawl For All into the vault for good.

Christy Hemme shoots off a t-shirt gun but here’s Edge to cut her off. Edge doesn’t like Christy playing dumb like this but it can’t be that hard for her. He wants to see what kind of shirts they are so Christy shows him that it’s a Wrestlemania XXI shirt. Edge rants about how he dominated the Royal Rumble by eliminating the most people and coming down to the final three, all after beating Shawn Michaels. Christy is panicking as Edge yells so violence is threatened.

Cue Shawn to make the save but he also wants to talk about Edge being embarrassed. What is embarrassing is saying that Edge beat him last night. Then Kurt Angle threw him out and busted him open, so yeah, Shawn has some pent up frustration. Therefore, he needs to let some of that out tonight in San Jose. Shawn already has a tag match tonight but he’s willing to work twice in one night twice in a row. Edge says no so Shawn superkicks him. That’s one way to shut someone up.

Maven vs. Hurricane

Hurricane shrugs off some kicks to the ribs and takes him down with a shoulder. A headscissors is countered into a side slam (not bad) and Maven stays on the back with a running forearm. Hurricane fights out of a chinlock but misses the Blockbuster. Maven finishes with the yet to be named Backstabber. Not very good, but it’s clear they’re done with Maven anyway.

Maria and Candice find Gene Snitsky in the women’s locker room….and he likes their shoes.

We look at Kane and Snitsky interfering in the Heidenreich vs. Undertaker casket match from last night.

Bischoff demands that Coach find out who played the JBL video. Theodore Long comes in and Bischoff accuses him of playing the tape to steal Batista from Raw. That’s exactly right but he had nothing to do with the tape. Long has already made a lucrative offer to Batista to face either JBL or Big Show. It sounds to him like Batista is Smackdown bound. Holla holla holla.

Randy Orton and Stacy Keibler have a forced flirty conversation about Orton’s tag match. Orton has to do it because this is what he does. From a kayfabe perspective, why is Stacy there? She hasn’t wrestled a regular match since October, she isn’t managing anyone and she just kind of hangs around the show. At least Christy comes out and does some official stuff occasionally.

Tag Team Titles: Chris Jericho/Chris Benoit vs. La Resistance

La Resistance is defending. Jericho elbows Conway in the face to start but it’s too early for the Walls attempt. Benoit comes in for a nice reaction and gets elbowed down, allowing Grenier to come in and stomp away. A Crossface attempt is broken up with a cheap shot and Grenier cranks on Benoit’s neck. That’s broken up and Benoit hits an enziguri, allowing the tag off to Jericho.

Grenier comes in as well and Jericho orders him to “COME ON FRENCHIE!” A bulldog takes Martin down but the Lionsault misses. Everything breaks down and Jericho tries the Walls on Grenier but has to switch to Conway to cut off a belt shot. Benoit and Conway fight to the floor as Jericho gets the Walls but Conway comes back in for the save. That’s enough for the double DQ and the fans are rather annoyed.

Rating: D. The Tag Team Titles are dying a horrible death here as the champs are lame ducks but don’t really have anyone else to drop the titles to. That left Jericho and Benoit fighting at half speed (at most) so they didn’t blow the champs away and that doesn’t help anyone. They need to find someone fresh for the titles soon because this is just sad.

Chris Master is coming. Maybe he can make a new vignette during this long delay.

Here are Muhammad Hassan and Daivari for their usual complaining, though this time Hassan can complain about last night. That is proof of the discrimination so tonight he wants to fight any American.

Muhammad Hassan vs. Sgt. Slaughter

Slaughter shoves a ranting Daivari down before the bell and gets the cobra clutch in a hurry. A Daivari distraction breaks that up and Slaughter gets sent chest first into the buckle. Hassan fires off some knees to the ribs but Slaughter is back with the right hands. That’s about it though as the Downward Spiral into the camel clutch finishes Slaughter. Sounds like a Slaughter tribute from Hassan. That might be all he has at the moment too, as Hassan is floundering. What do you expect though when you have him beating Lawler, Val Venis, Hurricane and Slaughter?

Jericho and Benoit fire each other up with Jericho saying he wants the best from Benoit.

We get a Wrestlemania XXI promo, featuring Eugene as Forrest Gump. This was edited off of the Royal Rumble on the Network for some reason.

HHH seems worried when Ric Flair comes in. Maybe HHH wants to face Batista at Wrestlemania too much. Long has offered Batista a lot of money so why should HHH hold him back? If Batista won the WWE Title, they would run the entire industry.

Here’s Bischoff to announce that Raw is coming from Japan next week. Therefore, he has three special matches to announce: Benoit vs. Jericho in a submission match, William Regal/Tajiri vs. La Resistance for the Tag Team Titles and HHH vs. Edge for the World Title.

Randy Orton/Shawn Michaels vs. HHH/Ric Flair

Batista is here with Evolution. Orton slaps Flair in the face to start so Flair comes back with chops in the corner. It’s quickly off to Shawn vs. HHH with Flair’s distraction not working very well as Shawn hammers away in the corner. That means an atomic drop but Shawn is fine enough to shove HHH off the top. An elbow (into the “controversial” heart of HHH) connects and everything breaks down with Batista grabbing a chair and beating on the steps with it. That’s enough for an ejection but the Batista sneakily smiles as we go to a break.

Back with Flair and Shawn trading chops in the corner until the Flair Flop gives Shawn two. A cheap shot from HHH puts Shawn back in trouble and the spinebuster gets two. Flair’s choking in the corner gives HHH the same and the abdominal stretch goes on. Shawn gets out and slams Flair off the top though and the hot tag brings Orton in to clean house.

Flair dives at Orton to save HHH and the referee gets bumped. That means an RKO to Flair but Orton seems to be concussed again, just as he was last night. HHH loads up the Pedigree but eats the superkick, only to have Edge come in for a spear….which hits HHH by mistake. Orton slowly crawls over and pins HHH.

Rating: C. There’s something amazing about how HHH is willing to let Orton have a pin after cutting his title run off at the knees a few months ago. Orton shouldn’t have won last night of course, but my goodness this comes off as funny in a way. They even set up next week’s title match a little bit more in the process. Not bad here and at least it didn’t feel like filler.

We look back at Kane and Snitsky flying off the stage earlier this month.

Kane vs. Gene Snitsky

In a cage and Snitsky gets a jobber entrance. They’re both still taped up from the aforementioned fall and both block a trip into the cage. A double shoulder gives us a double knockdown but it’s Snitsky up first to ram Kane back first into the cage. It’s way too early to get out though so Snitsky punches Kane down again. Cue Trish Stratus in a neck brace as Kane pulls Snitsky off the ropes.

Kane gets halfway out of the door but gets pulled back in as well. This time it’s a gordbuster to plant Snitsky with Kane going down as well. Snitsky goes face first into the cage and there’s the top rope clothesline to drop him again. Trish tries to slam the door on Kane’s head but Kane is smart enough (duh) to see it coming and drags Trish inside.

Snitsky grazes him with a big boot for the save and a two count though, allowing Trish to get out. That’s not enough though as Snitsky goes out to the steps but stops and rips the door off the cage. Kane kicks it into his face though and wedges it into the corner. A good crotching sets up the chokeslam to finish Snitsky, thank goodness.

Rating: D-. Normally I would say “and that has to be it for this feud” but why should I believe that’s the case? They should have been done at New Year’s Revolution if not before and yet here we are. The match was terrible with both guys having chances to win and Trish adding nothing at all. This felt like a bad house show main event and I could go for more from the main event on the Raw after Royal Rumble.

Overall Rating: C-. This is one of those weird periods where everyone knows what is coming to the letter but we have to wait until we actually get there. That being said, aside from the Batista stuff, there wasn’t much to brag about on this show other than the matches mostly not overstaying their welcome. Things will get better when we reach the big moment but until then, it’s not the most thrilling time.

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