Monday Night Raw
Date: March 14, 2005
Location: Gwinnett Center, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler
We continue the march towards Wrestlemania with the first of two weeks in a series called Pick Your Poison. With this show and the next show, Batista and HHH will pick each other’s opponent, starting with HHH having to face Chris Benoit. That should be rather entertaining and we get to build up towards Money in the Bank as well. Let’s get to it.
We open with the Highlight Reel and Chris Jericho is sitting on top of a ladder. Jericho talks about how everyone wants to climb the ladder of success and become World Champion. He’s going to get that chance again at Wrestlemania when he wins the first Money in the Bank ladder match. Yeah it’s a difficult task but that is what Wrestlemania is about.
That brings him to his guest tonight: the man who challenged the Undertaker to Wrestlemania, Randy Orton. Jericho says this is a little harder than just RKOing the Fabulous Moolah because Undertaker is undefeated at Wrestlemania. Orton understands that a lot of people don’t believe he can beat Undertaker but he’s surprised a lot of people before. We hear some of Orton’s accomplishments and Undertaker will be surprised at Wrestlemania.
Jericho likes the idea of surprises and has a surprise of his own. His other guest is a man who has faced the Undertaker at Wrestlemania and he’s from right here in Georgia: Jake Roberts. Jake is looking rather….well I guess the word here would be horrible, so thankfully we look at some of his highlights over the years, including the Alice Cooper/Jimmy Hart deal from Wrestlemania III (where he lost), the blindfold match at Wrestlemania VII (where we all lost) and…..a match against Kamala from a Saturday Night’s Main Event?
Anyway, Jake talks about knowing Orton’s grandfather and father but he doesn’t know Orton that well. Now, in baseball, you hit a baseball, in basketball you hit a three point shot and in hockey, you play hockey. What matters in all of them though is timing. Jake knows Orton is a great wrestler because he was World Champion, but since he doesn’t have the belt anymore, he must have lost it.
Tonight, Jake is here to do a favor to Orton’s father. Jake needs to reintroduce Orton’s brain to his mouth because he’s talking out of elsewhere. In case you’re a bit confused, that didn’t make the most sense when Jake was saying it either but he’s a complicated guy. Jake says it’s all about respect so Orton talks about how facing the Undertaker is about leaving the ring with your soul.
Orton asks how Jake felt after being Undertaker’s victim at Wrestlemania VIII. When Orton beats Undertaker at Wrestlemania, he’ll make a bigger impact than Jake made in his entire career. Jake goes for the snake but has to give Orton the short arm clothesline. The DDT is reversed into the RKO though, with Jake taking it far better than I would have guessed. This worked well enough, Jake’s ramblings and disjointed promo aside.
Classic Hogan Moment: Hulkamania Is Here.
Kane vs. Christian/Tyson Tomko
Fallout from last week where Kane beat Christian but got hit in the face with a ladder shot from Tomko. Christian starts for the team and gets knocked down in a hurry. A whip into the corner finally slows Kane down and it’s Tomko coming in for some right hands to the face. Christian and Tomko take turns hammering Kane down but Kane pulls Christian face first into the post. The side slam plants Tomko and the top rope clothesline makes it even worse. The chokeslam finishes Tomko with Christian not being around for the last minute plus.
Rating: D. Nothing to see here as Kane almost squashed both of them in short order. Christian feels like he’s being tacked onto the ladder match and having him lose to Kane twice in a row isn’t the best way to fix things. Neither is likely to win the briefcase anyway, but did they need to have Christian look so worthless on the way there?
Post match Christian pulls out the ladder but Kane hits Tomko with it to make the statuses clear while busting Tomko open a bit.
Ric Flair sends Snitsky after Batista. I’m not sure if Batista is good enough for that one. It wouldn’t be Snitsky’s fault if he hurt Batista so badly that he was out of Wrestlemania. Snitsky says hurting Batista so badly would be ALL his fault. I don’t think they’re on the same page here.
Lita coaches Christy Hemme on defending against Trish’s kicks. William Regal and Tajiri come in for a demonstration, but Christy has to sign a Playboy to Tajiri. Regal: “He only reads the articles.” Christy tries her own kicks and Regal takes a low blow for the HILARIOUS payoff. Ok so it’s Regal so it is rather funny. Lita offers to get Regal some ice. Regal: “I NEED MORE THAN BLOODY ICE!” Lita tells Christy that wasn’t bad.
Marty Jannetty comes in to see Shawn Michaels, who thinks Marty needs a warmup before the match against Kurt Angle. That’s why tonight, for one night only, it’s a Rockers reunion.
Steve Austin highlight package for his Wrestlemania return.
Edge vs. Shelton Benjamin
Non-title. Edge jumps Shelton from behind during the entrances and sends him into the steps. He does it again for a bonus and then hammers away inside with the referee having to drag Edge off. The referee is still cool with asking Shelton if he wants to have the match and Shelton says ring the bell. Edge sends him straight outside and we take a break twenty seconds in. Back with Shelton still in trouble as Edge isn’t quite as aggressive. To be fair you can’t be angry all the time. It’s just tiring.
Shelton is back with the top rope clothesline but can’t follow up. Shelton slugs away with a bunch of right hands against the ropes, which JR calls “Street Benjamin.” A backdrop and a running knee to the face set up the Stinger Splash but Edge moves. That’s fine with Shelton, who jumps right back off with a super sunset flip for two because he can do that. Edge’s powerslam gets two but the spear is blocked, setting up a Dragon Whip to bump the referee by mistake. Now the spear can connect but since there’s no referee, let’s go for a ladder. Cue Jericho to knock it into Edge’s face though and the exploder gives Shelton the pin.
Rating: B-. This took some time to get going but Shelton is starting to feel it out there with one big win after another. Edge can get all the more frustrated as he gets closer and closer to the big win, which almost has to be soon. Odds are we get Jericho vs. Edge out of this too so it’s a nice effort all around.
Rockers vs. La Resistance
Dig that old school music, though the lack of matching neon does hold things back a bit. Grenier and Marty exchange wristlocks to start with Jannetty grabbing a quickly broken armbar. A double hiptoss works a bit better for the French guys but Marty slides between Conway’s legs for the tag to Shawn and the tandem offense starts right back up. Stereo dives take La Resistance down again but Grenier low bridges Shawn to the floor to take over. A suplex gives Grenier two and we hit the chinlock.
Jannetty tries to come in, which just leaves Shawn to take a Hart Attack for two. Shawn punches Grenier down and throws the two of them into each other, allowing the tag off to Marty. A dropkick puts Grenier to the floor, with JR saying the mat isn’t covered with barbecue sauce. Shawn superkicks Conway as Marty hits the Rocker Dropper on Grenier for the pin.
Rating: C-. It was a nice little reunion here and that’s what makes something like this feel special. They didn’t overstay their welcome and they made it clear that this was a one off match. Not everything needs to be some big, epic return so having something that worked this easily and went pretty smoothly was a feel good moment. Now just get Marty through Smackdown before he self destructs.
Flair talks with HHH about the big Snitsky plan and seems to get HHH on board. When Batista gets beaten down, no one will remember HHH tapping out to Chris Benoit a year ago tonight!
Trish isn’t worried about Christy at Wrestlemania because she’s already ended Lita’s career. Maybe Trish should get a trainer as well. Like Hannibal Lecter for example, because she’s going to eat Christy alive (that’s a big pop). Maria thinks Christy looked impressive last week and gets beaten up.
Flair brags about Snitsky but wants him to be mean enough to hurt Batista. Cue Batista to say “Hey Ric.”, which sends Flair into a rant about how Batista can’t take anything away from HHH because HHH is the franchise. Batista smiles so Flair threatens to slap it off of his face. All Batista is coming for is the title. Flair was sounding like Mickey from Rocky here.
HHH vs. Chris Benoit
Non-title and Flair is here with HHH. The fans are right there with the YOU TAPPED OUT chants at HHH, who takes Benoit down in a bit of a surprise. Benoit wastes no time in trying for the Sharpshooter before pulling HHH away from the ropes in a crash. A headlock takes HHH down but it’s too early for the Crossface. HHH teases leaving but gets caught with a cheap shot to the face.
You don’t hit Benoit though as he’s right back with the chops and a suplex to put HHH outside again. Benoit gets knocked off the apron though and we take a break. Back with Benoit chopping his way out of the corner but walking into a spinebuster. Benoit knocks him backwards and goes up to, where he is promptly crotched right back down. The superplex drops Benoit for two but he’s right back with a catapult into the buckle, which JR says is not made of chocolate. First of all, being launched head first into chocolate can be painful. Second, get JR some dinner already as he’s talked about eating the ring twice.
They slug it out with Benoit getting smart by rolling the German suplexes. HHH gets back up and, you guessed it, more suplexes. The Swan Dive gets two so Benoit adds two more German suplexes but HHH grabs the rope for a breather. A hard whip into the corner drops Benoit but the Pedigree is countered into the Crossface.
The Flair distraction….does nothing as HHH doesn’t even tap behind the referee’s back. HHH rolls out and tries the Pedigree, which is reversed into the Sharpshooter. Flair tries to bring in the title and gets tossed, but it made Benoit release the hold. The low blow into the Pedigree gives HHH the pin.
Rating: B+. These two have some awesome chemistry together and it’s rare to see HHH beat him (though it wasn’t the first time as commentary kept talking about). Benoit is someone who could be reinserted into the World Title picture at any time and have a great match with anyone, making him as useful as almost anyone on the roster. This was one of the better TV matches in a long and they were both working very hard.
Randy Orton will be on Smackdown to sign the contract with Undertaker.
Wrestlemania rundown. That card is looking pretty awesome.
Here are Hassan and Daivari to make the same complaints they always make, this time because Hassan isn’t on Wrestlemania.
Christy stays with Maria while Lita goes off to run into Snitsky, who promises to finish what he started with her. Uh, what exactly did he start?
Batista vs. Gene Snitsky
Flair and HHH come out to watch and somehow Flair is the sweatier of the two. Snitsky tells Batista to try the shoulder but gets head faked and clotheslined. As usual, Batista is the smartest person on the show. A shout at Flair takes too long and Snitsky gets up a boot in the corner. Snitsky wraps the leg around the post and drops some elbows onto it for painful measure. The pumphandle powerslam gives Snitsky two so Batista kicks him outside. The comeback is on with some corner clotheslines and the spinebuster, which draws Flair in the DQ.
Rating: D. I said Batista is smart but he’s not a miracle worker. There is only so much that he can do against someone like Snitsky, whose one big move was used up in less than three minutes. This was another backfiring plan from Flair and HHH so Batista keeps looking strong, though the DQ would have been just about the same as a regular fall.
Post match Batista shrugs Flair off but the three villains all get in with chairs. Cue Kane to go after Snitsky so Batista can take out Flair as HHH leaves. HHH makes Batista vs. Kane for next week.
Overall Rating: B. This was a better show than they’ve done in a few months now with a good balance of wrestling and nostalgia, which you don’t get very often. Batista continues to look awesome and Wrestlemania could be a great card if everything lives up to its potential. Roberts and Jannetty were some rather nice surprises and fit in very well with the rest of the show. Very strong show as the build to Wrestlemania is clicking at the right time.
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