Monday Night Raw – February 21, 2005

Monday Night Raw
Date: February 21, 2005
Location: Bryce Jordan Center, State College, Pennsylvania
Attendance: 3,500
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

We’re FINALLY off to the next big step as Batista decides if he’s going to face JBL or HHH at Wrestlemania. This has been a story where you know exactly what is going to happen but Batista has been built up so well that it has been a blast watching him. He’s grown a lot in the whole thing and now it’s time for the first part of the payoff. Let’s get to it.

We open with a recap of Batista winning the Royal Rumble and having to make a decision.

Opening sequence.

Women’s Title: Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly vs. Victoria

Trish, with a black eye, is defending. Victoria wastes no time in taking Molly down for the dancing moonsault with Trish breaking up the count. That earns Trish her own dancing moonsault but since it takes too long, Trish hits Victoria from behind instead. Trish chokes Victoria in the corner but stops to take a bow (these delays are really bad ideas), allowing Victoria to hit the swinging side slam.

Molly is back in to rip at Victoria’s face but has to block the Stratusfaction. A double suplex puts Victoria down but, of course, it’s time for Molly and Trish to argue over who gets to get the pin. Victoria punches both of them and headbutts Trish in something you don’t see too often. The Molly Go Round is avoided and it’s a Widow’s Peak to Molly, only to have Trish steal the pin to retain.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have much time and mainly served to show how weak the women’s division is. With Lita gone, it’s really these three plus anyone else they can rotate in for a fourth. Christy may be the long term goal, but it’s a very long term and that’s not going to work for what will probably take years to get her ready.

HHH and Ric Flair recap the Batista story (it’s like we have a theme) and HHH wants to talk to him. Batista isn’t actually here yet and HHH isn’t happy with Flair’s travel issues excuse.

Pulp Fiction Wrestlemania trailer.

Trish comes up to Candice Michelle and Christy Hemme in the back to make fun of them for various activities. They’re back here doing nothing while Trish was out there taking down two contenders at once. Candice says Trish is the only one who goes down so Trish slaps her in the face. As Candice acts like she’s been shot and stabbed at the same time, Christy tackles Trish against a wall as security appears at a very appropriate time.

Shawn Michaels comes up to Randy Orton and Stacy Keibler in the back. Amazingly enough he isn’t interested in talking to Stacy so she leaves. Shawn talks about how important of a time this is and how ten years ago, he changed the industry with the help of a ladder. That’s what Wrestlemania can do for you and now it’s Orton’s chance to do it. Orton seems to take this to heart as Shawn goes to take care of something. Note: as they stood there, a ladder could be seen between the two of them. Probably a coincidence, but it’s a nice touch.

Simon Dean is in the ring to tell the crowd how fat they are. Oh and Penn State coach Joe Paterno is old.

Chris Jericho vs. Simon Dean

Jericho starts fast and sends him to the apron for a springboard dropkick. Back in and Dean scores with a clothesline but gets dropkicked out of the air for his efforts. The swinging sleeper drop sets up the enziguri but the Lionsault hits knees. Dean gets two off an STO, only to get pulled into the Walls for the tap without much effort.

Rating: D. What were you expecting here? Dean is already just a jobber to the stars and this was pretty much a squash. There’s nothing wrong with being at that level though hearing those same promos before he loses every week isn’t quite working. The character has already outlived its usefulness so just let him lose in peace.

Theodore Long is in Eric Bischoff’s office and recaps the end of last night’s show before hyping up tonight’s signing. Shawn comes in and tells Long that he’s challenging Kurt Angle for Wrestlemania. Well if you insist.

Wrestlemania Recall: Morton Downey Jr. in Piper’s Pit.

Kane vs. Tyson Tomko

Tomko actually gets promo time, saying he’s tired of hearing about Batista. He’s a problem solver and Kane is his new problem. Tomko slugs away to start and gets kicked in the face. The big boot is returned in a hurry and Tomko hammers away again. We hit the neck crank for a few moments before Kane hits another big boot. The top rope clothesline connects and Kane hits a gutbuster of all things. The chokeslam is good for the pin.

Rating: D+. This could have been a lot worse with Tomko being an intimidating looking monster, though having him lose so quickly didn’t do much good. I’m not sure what the point is in having a bodyguard lose a match to another monster in about four minutes but it’s not like Tomko needs to do much more than look intimidating.

Flair goes up to Batista’s limo but finds the debuting Chris Masters instead. The empty backseat might have been more valuable.

Here are Muhammad Hassan and Daivari for a chat. Hassan says the exact same thing that he does every week, though he does say that only he is discriminated against on the show, because Daivari is just fine you see. Anyway, he’s undefeated and no one can beat him so he should be in the main event of Wrestlemania. Cue Chris Benoit to challenge Hassan so he can shut up. Hassan takes a pass so Benoit beats him up until Daivari gets in a cheap shot. The double beatdown is on.

Edge/Christian vs. Randy Orton/Shawn Michaels

No Tomko with Christian here. Christian and Orton start things off with an early takedown allowing Orton to pose. A headlock takeover lets them go to the mat for a bit before Edge comes in. That means a rollup out of the corner from Orton and a tag off to Shawn for a chop. Christian gets rammed into the buckle over and over until another headlock takeover has Christian down again.

Edge finally helps his brother/friend out with a low bridge to send Shawn outside, followed by a clothesline off the apron. Back from a break with Shawn fighting out of a chinlock but getting dropped on the back of his head again. Christian’s elbow to the face lets him go up top but Shawn nails a punch to the ribs on the way down. The swinging neckbreaker allows a hot tag to Orton and it’s a powerslam to Edge. The high crossbody gets two on Edge but Christian gets in a cheap shot from behind.

A side slam/reverse DDT combination gets two on Orton and it’s back to the chinlock. Back up and a double flapjack is countered into a double DDT and Shawn comes back in to clean house. Something pretty close to an Angle Slam gets two on Christian and Orton adds a very high dropkick. The ref gets bumped and Edge hits the spear for no count. Shawn drops the elbow on Christian, only to have Edge crotch him against the post. The Conchairto misses though and Sweet Chin Music finishes Christian.

Rating: B. Yep that worked. They went with the formula here and when you have two stars like Shawn and Orton against a great team, it’s all but destined to work. Only Shawn has a story going at the moment but there is a lot of time before Wrestlemania to set something up for everyone else. Rather strong match, and thankfully Orton’s concussions are gone.

Bischoff and Long are still waiting on Batista to arrive.

Edge jumps Shawn in the back to vent some more frustration. Edge: “AM I BREAKING YOUR HEART???” A spear sends Shawn through a bunch of stuff.

Chris Masters vs. Steven Richards

Masters gets the big, slow entrance to show off his physique. Richards gets powered around to start and we hit the early posing. A shoulder in the corner and an ax handle to the chest drop Richards again and the full nelson finishes in a hurry. I found Masters uninteresting back in the day and that’s the case here. He’s a physique and nothing more, which isn’t enough to cut it beyond 1986 or so.

Video on Batista’s rise to the top and need to make a decision for Wrestlemania.

Intercontinental Title: Gene Snitsky vs. Shelton Benjamin

Snitsky is challenging of course in a rematch from last week with Snitsky hitting him with a chair. Shelton starts fast and kicks at the legs to take Snitsky down. A Cactus Clothesline sends them to the floor but Snitsky grabs a DDT back inside. The chinlock doesn’t last long so Shelton comes back with forearms to the face. The exploder is broken up so Snitsky grabs the chair again. Shelton baseball slides it into his face and uses it himself for the DQ to even the score.

Rating: D+. This didn’t have the time to go very far but what were you expecting from a Snitsky match? Shelton getting aggressive is an interesting way to go though I’m not sure how long it’s going to last. He needs a challenger and Snitsky isn’t going to work for more than maybe one more match.

Basic Instinct Wrestlemania trailer.

Flair still can’t get hold of Batista and HHH isn’t happy. He rants about the whole thing and admits that the whole surprise footage from Smackdown was his idea, along with trying to run Batista over with the limo. Flair is stunned but HHH says he was just trying to make Batista make the right decision because he’s not that bright.

That’s enough to convince Flair that HHH is a genius all over again because Flair is kind of a pushover. HHH wants the Big Idiot to get here and yeah of course Batista is listening at the door. Heaven forbid they let us have a moment at the end of the show without making sure we know what’s going on in advance.

Next week: Benoit vs. Hassan and Edge vs. Shawn in a street fight.

It’s time for the contract signing so here are Bischoff and Long for the big moment. The big moment that was spoiled in the previous segment that is. Bischoff recaps things again and here’s Evolution for the decision, with JR not being sure what’s going to happen. So did they not see the HHH/Flair segment?

Bischoff gives Batista a sales pitch and says that unlike Long, his job isn’t in jeopardy. If Batista signs the contract, he gets to reach his dreams. Long says there is a choice because Batista felt the electricity at No Way Out last night. Batista can be on the same stage as John Cena and start their own rivalry. Long lists off some of the other big names over on Smackdown, including a chance to go one on one with the Undertaker.

Batista looks at both contracts and HHH says there is one decision to make here. It’s not about what is best for Raw or Smackdown, but what is best for Batista. Wrestlemania can end with the two of them holding the titles just like the Four Horsemen. HHH: “What if Arn Anderson was the WWE Champion?” This shouldn’t be a hard decision and HHH knows he’s going to make the right one.

Batista says he’s known what he’s going to do for a long time and throws the Raw contract down. He gives HHH and Flair the thumbs up…and then turns it down for the official face turn. Batista sends Flair outside and Batista Bombs HHH through the table. The Raw contract is signed and Batista says he’s coming for HHH’s title to end the show. Good moment with the thumb being a great touch, but they took the steam out of it ten minutes ago.

Overall Rating: C+. This was a two part show with the big moment at the ending being the only thing that mattered, though the tag match in the middle helped give it a boost. Tonight was all about setting up the World Title match and Batista’s face turn, so next week can be the star of some other stuff. The rest of the show was the usual bad stuff, but the stuff that mattered worked well and that’s all this show needed to do.

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