Monday Night Raw – June 25, 2007 (International Version)

Monday Night Raw
Date: June 25, 2007
Host: Todd Grisham

This week, the Chris Benoit Tribute Show aired, but then the details started to come out, meaning Benoit’s place in wrestling was completely changed. When Raw aired later in other markets, a Best Of show was shown instead. For the sake of completion, I’ll be looking at it to, so let’s get to it.

And now, the other version.

Todd Grisham is in the WWE Studios and welcomes us to the show, which will be a look back at the best championships match from the last year.

From Wrestlemania XXIII.

We recap Undertaker vs. Batista for the Smackdown World Title. Undertaker won the Royal Rumble to earn the shot and Batista is all BRING IT ON as we have the monster fight for the title. This feels like a Wrestlemania World Title match and that’s kind of a hard trick to pull off.

Smackdown World Title: Batista vs. Undertaker

Undertaker is challenging and Teddy Long handles the introductions for a bit of a weird moment. We get the full druid entrance for Undertaker, which will never stop being awesome. Batista spears him down at the bell and it’s time to trade right hands in the corner. It’s actually Batista getting the better of things and the fans are not too thrilled with that. Undertaker pulls him outside for a ram into the apron but Batista is right back for a hard whip into the steps.

Back in and Batista nails a top rope shoulder (dang) for two and a heck of a clothesline cuts Undertaker off again. Undertaker slugs back from his knees and punches Batista into the corner for the running clotheslines. Snake Eyes into the big boot sets up the legdrop for two as we’re back to mostly even. Old School looks to set up the chokeslam but Batista powers out and knocks Undertaker down.

Undertaker doesn’t seem to mind as he sends Batista to the apron for the legdrop. There’s the Taker Dive and they’re both down on the floor. Back up and Batista drives him HARD through the barricade and hammers away as things have cranked up in a hurry. The announcers’ table is loaded up and a running powerslam drives Undertaker through it for the big crash. That’s only good for two back inside so Batista punches away even more.

The Batista Bomb is broken up with a drive into the corner but Batista is right back….with right hands from the middle rope. I guess HHH didn’t teach him that one and it’s the Last Ride for two. The frustrated Undertaker gets caught in a spinebuster but pops back up with a chokeslam for two. Batista slips out of the chokeslam and hits the spear into the Batista Bomb for two as the fans are WAY into these near falls. Undertaker backdrops his way out of another Batista Bomb and sends Batista into the corner. The Tombstone is enough to give Undertaker the pin and the title.

Rating: A-. This felt like a Wrestlemania level title match between two monsters. These two beat the fire out of each other and didn’t bother with anything other than the big power moves. They were trading bombs throughout the whole match and it was a question of who would survive, which made the whole thing world. It helps when Undertaker was motivated by being put in the middle of the card and cranked it up a notch, as both guys felt like they were on another level here.

From No Way Out.

Cruiserweight Title: Cruiserweight Open

Gregory Helms is defending in a gauntlet match. Scotty 2 Hotty is in at #1 and Daivari is in at #2. Daivari sends him into the corner for some right hands but Scotty comes back with the bulldog. There’s the Worm and Daivari is done in a hurry. Gregory Helms is in at #1 and hammers on Scotty, including a catapult to send him throat first into the middle rope. Scotty is back with a belly to back suplex but the Worm is broken up. What would become known as the Codebreaker gets rid of Scotty so it’s Funaki in at #4.

Helms small packages him for the pin in about five seconds and it’s Shannon Moore in at #5. A spinning backbreaker gives Helms a fast two and a belly to belly superplex drops Moore again. Another Codebreaker gets rid of Moore and it’s Jimmy Wang Yang in at #6. Yang goes right after him and hits a standing moonsault for two. A Russian legsweep sets up some weird arm hold on the mat but Helms is back up in a hurry with a hard right hand. Yang grabs a quick hurricanrana for the pin out of nowhere, guaranteeing a new champion.

Jamie Noble is in at #7 as JBL demands more time to talk about Helms losing the title. A hard shot to the face sets up a chinlock on Yang and Noble sends him hard into the post for two. Yang fights back with a few clotheslines and the spinwheel kick for two of his own. The moonsault press gets rid of Noble and Yang thinks he has won….but it’s Chavo Guerrero in at #8 to complete the field.

Chavo uppercuts him down a few times and kicks Yang in the back to take over in a hurry. A spinwheel kick gives Yang a breather and the big dive to the floor drops Chavo again. Back in and Chavo hits Three Amigos, which Cole calls disrespectful for some reason. Yang gets in another shot to the face and goes up, only to miss the twisting moonsault. The frog splash gives Chavo the pin and the title.

Rating: D+. I’m really not a fan of this style as it’s a bunch of mini matches rather than anything getting time. Chavo winning the title is fine, but the rapid fire falls brings up the same thing I always wonder with this format: why is it so much easier to get a fall in this one than in any given match? Either way, at least the title is off of Helms, who was getting hammered with losses that WWE didn’t seem to think counted because he was still champion.

From December To Dismember.

ECW Title: Big Show vs. Hardcore Holly vs. CM Punk vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Test

Show is defending in the Extreme Elimination Chamber, meaning there is a weapon in each pod. Hardcore Holly is in at #1 and Rob Van Dam is in at #2 and there are five minute intervals. Holly takes him into the corner and starts kicking away but Rob pops up and gets sent into the cage….but holds onto the side because he can. The spinning high crossbody only hits the rope though and Van Dam crashes down again. Van Dam gets sent into the cage again but manages to get a boot up to cut off a diving Holly.

Rolling Thunder over the top rope hits Holly but he suplexes Van Dam back inside. There’s the dropkick and it’s CM Punk with his chair in at #3. A monkey flip sends Holly onto the chair and Punk kicks Van Dam down. The chair is wedged in the corner and Van Dam, who has been busted open somewhere in there, is sent hard into it. Punk kicks him again but Holly is back up with a side slam. Holly drops Punk onto the top rope and there’s a top rope superplex to take him down again.

Test, with his crowbar, is in at #4 and hits Punk in the ribs before clawing at Van Dam’s cut. Punk grabs a Stunner on Test of the top rope and the bloody Van Dam kicks Holly in the face. Van Dam skateboards the chair into Punk in the corner and hits the Five Star for the pin and the elimination for Punk’s first pinfall in WWE. Test kicks Holly in the face for an elimination, even if the count didn’t seem to go down properly. Van Dam goes up top but Test chairs him in the knee and pulls him right back down in a crash.

An elbow off the top of the pod onto the chair onto Van Dam is good for the elimination, meaning that the countdown to Lashley is official. It also means that the ring is clear, save for Test, for about a minute and a half because this match can’t time things either. Bobby Lashley with his table is….not allowed to get in because test and the security guards block the door. That’s fine with Lashley, who uses the table to break the roof open and climbs through the top. Eh points for a cool entrance.

Lashley unloads for a bit until Test gets him into the corner for some choking. Lashley suplexes him down, hits him with the crowbar, and nails a spear for the pin. Therefore, let’s wait a minute and a half before Big Show with his barbed wire baseball bat can come in at #6 to give us the showdown. Lashley has to use the chair to shield himself with the bat but manages to knock Show outside anyway. Show is sent through the pod to bust him open but he knocks Lashley down again. Back in and the chokeslam is countered into a DDT, followed by a spear for the pin and the title.

Rating: D. And that’s probably high. This was a really dull Chamber with the two badly times falls that left them sitting around with nothing to do for a few minutes. The match is less than twenty five minutes and you knew that Lashley had the title won with about ten minutes to go.

Look at the participants here. Van Dam, Show and Lashley are fine, but that leaves you with three pretty weak choices. Punk would go on to become a huge star, but at this point he had been around for a few months with his career consisting of feuds with Shannon Moore and Mike Knox. That is kind of lacking in any kind of meaningful wins in WWE and it showed badly. The other two are Test and Hardcore Holly as a replacement. That leaves you with three options, but Test dominated a good portion of the middle. That’s the best they could put together and that should tell you a whole low.

The show was long past the point of saving by the time we got to the match, but then they had this boring mess to make it even worse. There was no drama, the popular guys were done in less than fifteen minutes and the weapons managed to make it less violent than the previous Elimination Chambers. Not the worst match of all time, but pretty horrible and probably the worst Chamber match to date, if nothing else for the star power included and the lack of drama near the end.

Video on Bobby Lashley.

From Raw, April 2.

Tag Team Titles: Battle Royal

John Cena/Shawn Michaels, Hardys, Paul London/Brian Kendrick, William Regal/Dave Taylor, Kevin Thorn/Marcus Cor Von, Gregory Helms/Chavo Guerrero, Sandman/Tommy Dreamer, Lance Cade/Trevor Murdoch, Val Venis/Viscera, Johnny Nitro/The Miz,

Cena and Michaels are defending and either Guerrero/Helms are working a double or Lawler got confused when he mentioned them being in the first battle royal and there were only nine teams. Anyway, it’s a big brawl to start and the mob can’t get rid of Viscera. Growing brains at the same time though, they toss Venis in a hurry and we’re down to nine. Regal and Taylor are gone and Dreamer/Sandman join them as we take a break.

Back with JR’s voice going in a hurry and the champs getting rid of Miz and Nitro (in their first time teaming together for some trivia)….and then Shawn dumps Cena. Well that’s a curve ball. It’s smart, but it’s a curve ball. Kendrick and Chavo eliminate each other (with no mention of London and Kendrick possibly becoming double champions) so we’re down to the Hardys vs. Cade/Murdoch.

Jeff goes stupid (shocking I know) by hammering away with right hands in the corner on Murdoch but manages to get back down. An atomic drop/big boot combination knocks Jeff silly but Matt cuts off the toss attempt. The Hardys hit stereo middle rope legdrops, setting up Poetry In Motion to get rid of Murdoch for the win and the titles.

Rating: C-. The Hardys winning is completely fine as they are the veteran teams who can get the titles back and then drop them to someone in a bigger match. There is some value in one more run with the Hardys as champions so this is about as safe of a way to go for the titles as you can have. Cena and Michaels didn’t need the titles to continue their story so letting them go and be built back up again is the right move.

From Backlash.

Women’s Title: Melina vs. Mickie James

Mickie is challenging and wastes no time armdragging her down into an armbar. The grappling on the mat gives us a quick standoff until Mickie headscissors her back down. That’s broken up as Melina is sent into the corner, where she seems to be favoring her eye. Tis but a ruse though as she charges at Mickie, who hammers away to keep the champ in trouble. Mickie takes too long going up top though and gets shoved off into a heap on the floor.

Back in and Melina grabs a full nelson with her legs and even puts her hand on the rope for leverage (It’s interesting that just putting your hand there wouldn’t do much. The thing is though that fans understand it’s cheating so it can go a long way with almost no effort. Learn that kind of thing.). A choke in the corner has Mickie in more trouble and a middle rope Thesz press drops her again.

The chinlock doesn’t last long as Mickie drops down into the splits….and pulls Melina down into them with her. They slug it out from there until Mickie kicks her away. Some clotheslines and a hair toss have Melina in more trouble, with a high crossbody getting two. That’s enough for Melina, who goes to the eyes and drops her with a reverse DDT to retain.

Rating: C. They were working hard here but there is only so much that you can do when they are in the lowest level match on the card and the ending comes out of nowhere. Melina needs to be built up with wins like this so they did things as well as they could have. Not a terrible match, but it could have been on any given Raw.

Video on Jeff Hardy.

From Judgment Day 2006.

Smackdown World Title: Rey Mysterio vs. John Bradshaw Layfield

Only Rey is defending as I had completely forgotten JBL was US Champion. The EDDIE chants begin and Rey slugs away, with JBL looking a little surprised. Some strikes to the leg set up a quickly broken headlock so Rey slaps him in the face. The threat of the 619 sends JBL outside and it’s a seated senton off the apron to take him down again. Back in and a basement dropkick gives Rey two and he hammers away in the corner.

The referee gets distracted for a second and Rey gets in a low blow, only to have JBL come back with a big boot. They head outside with Rey being whipped into the steps and it’s already time to go back in. A right hand puts Rey on the floor again, with JBL sending him into the steps a second time. JBL hits Three Amigos before dropping him ribs first into the top rope as Rey is busted open.

That means another trip to the floor with JBL making Rey’s wife look at the blood. Some short arm clotheslines put Rey down again and JBL gets two, with the kicking making him panic. We hit the chinlock to squeeze some blood out of the head but JBL lets him go at two arm drops to cover instead. Rey breaks up the belly to back superplex and gets his own two off a moonsault press, followed by a kick to the head for the same.

JBL is back up with a powerbomb attempt but it’s a hurricanrana to set up the 619 instead. The referee gets pulled in the way of the West Coast Pop though, meaning the Clothesline From JBL gets a very delayed two. JBL grabs the chair but it gets kicked back into his face, setting up the frog splash to retain the title.

Rating: C+. This felt like it should have been for the Intercontinental Title in a featured match on Smackdown rather than headlining a pay per view. They have done a horrible job of devaluing the World Title in the last few weeks. Rey retaining here felt a bit like what would happen if MNM retaining in the opener. That’s not exactly the best way to present the main event of a pay per view, but the match itself was fairly good.

From Survivor Series 2006.

We recap Batista vs. King Booker for the Smackdown World Title. Batista had to vacate the title earlier this year due to an injury in this very building. It is his missing to get it back but Booker isn’t going it up so easily. If Batista loses, he can never challenge Booker for the title again.

Smackdown World Title: King Booker vs. Batista

Batista is challenging and starts fast by jumping him before the bell. They get inside to officially start the match with Batista hammering away in the corner. The threat of a Batista Bomb sends Booker bailing to the floor and the fans aren’t pleased. Back in and Batista hammers away even more but a hot shot gets Booker out of trouble. A catapult sends Batista throat first into the bottom rope and Booker stomps away even more.

Booker pokes him in the eye but you don’t need two eyes to hit a side slam for two. They head to the apron for a slugout with Batista knocking him back in. Sharmell grabs the leg though and Booker kicks him out to the floor again. Back in and Booker pounds him down into a chinlock as Cole asks JBL what it feels like to try and get the title back. JBL: “I’m not a loser Michael. Bring up something else.”

Batista fights up and hits the clotheslines into a big boot to send Booker outside. That means a whip into the steps, followed by a top rope shoulder (dang) for two back inside. Booker is right back with a Bookend for two but Batista is up with the Batista Bomb. They’re right next to the rope so Booker saves himself, allowing Sharmell to hand him the title. A Sharmell distraction doesn’t work though as Batista ducks the shot and takes the belt away. Batista’s belt shot is enough for the pin, the title, and the energized celebration.

Rating: D, This really didn’t work and the ending was stupid. How much of a conqueror does this make Batista, when he needed a belt shot to beat Booker? It’s a reclaiming the glory story and that should work, but the lack of drama didn’t help anything. Pretty awful main event with the main bright spot being the fact that they didn’t go long here. It’s the longest match of the show at less than fourteen minutes and it felt every one of them.

From One Night Stand.

Raw World Title: John Cena vs. Great Khali

Cena is defending in a falls count anywhere match. Cena goes right after him to start but is quickly knocked down, including a bunch of stomping in the corner. There’s a slam to plant Cena but he gets in a shot of his own for a breather. Khali is right back up with a chop to the head to put Cena on the floor though and the foot on the chest gets two. A hard ram sends Cena head first through a monitor but another big chop is blocked.

Instead, Cena is tossed over the barricade but he manages a monitor shot of his own. The FU attempt is swatted away though and Khali punches him around. A missed charge (work with me here) misses for Khali and Cena hits him in the face with a boom camera for two. Cena gets him off the ground for the FU but some elbows to the face get Khali out of trouble again. They fight onto a crane, where Cena finally manages the FU off of said crane to retain the title.

Rating: C+. While certainly not a classic, they did this as well as they could have. What mattered here was they found the right way to hide Khali’s limitations and let Cena do the rest. The idea of setting up the FU for the whole match and then blowing it off in the end was the right call too and it was a well set up match. I’m not sure how much better they could have done this and the stipulation made the match better rather than just being tacked on.

Todd wraps us up to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. Outside of the opener, this was kind of a weird collection of matches to air. Undertaker vs. Batista is great but other than that, you don’t have a lot of great stuff. They aired something from most of the titles (if not all of them), but that only works so well when some of those titles are not exactly the top of the food chain. Still though, for a Best Of show, this worked out well enough.

 

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