June 13, 2004
Buy Rate: .49
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Sunday Night Heat
Batista defeats Maven with the Batistabomb
Pay Per View
1) Chris Benoit & Edge (Adam Copeland) defeat La Resistance by disqualification when Kane (Glen Jacobs) interferes at 10:14; La Resistance retain World Tag Team Titles
Fun Fact: On the 4/19 Raw, Chris Benoit & Edge teamed up to defeat Ric Flair & Batista for the World Tag Team titles. The 5/31 Raw emanated from Quebec and the hometown team, La Resistance, were given a tag title match. With the crowd surprisingly in their corner, La Res won the belts after Edge accidentally speared Benoit. The next week, Edge and Benoit would trade words before Coach informed them that Benoit had to face La Res in a handicap match. Edge would interfere in the match to save his partner, and Eric Bischoff announced that Edge & Benoit would receive a rematch at the PPV. Eric also made a second handicap match on the spot, with Edge & Benoit being forced to battle La Res & Kane. Kane would pin Benoit for the win.
Scott: Chris Benoit officially takes the Bret Hart roll tonight and is doing double duty. He and Edge are a formidable team and are taking on the evil French Canadians. The match itself isn’t bad, as Edge may have finally gotten his groove back after some shaky return performances. I still can’t stand Sylvan Grenier, but Rob is growing on me. It’s pretty much a platform to have Kane come in and clean house to push for the title match later on. The crowd’s kind of flat, and so was this match. Grade: 2
Justin: With Evolution dominating the Raw scene, the faces on the show had to team up to defend their turf. Led by World Champion Chris Benoit, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Tajiri and Shelton Benjamin had all united to battle Hunter and his thugs. Edge and Benoit struck first by taking the tag titles from Flair & Batista. Their run would be short-lived, however, due to some miscommunication and an opportunistic La Resistance. Despite doing double duty here, Benoit works hard in the opener and keeps up a good pace. This new version of La Res was really starting to gel and their heel teamwork was improving each week. Edge was starting to get back in his groove, especially with his selling, and he looks much better here than he did at Backlash. The crowd was a bit flat, but that didn’t slow down Benoit, who was crisp with his strikes and determined to put on a good match. Unfortunately the match didn’t quite reach my expectations, especially when you factor in the lame finish. Kane interfering made sense to add heat to his match with Benoit later, but it just was not a great way to end your opening match. I also didn’t like how Grenier lasted in the Crossface for a decent amount of time. Nonetheless, La Res keeps their belts and Kane has now weakened Benoit, which could spell trouble for later. Grade: 1.5
*** Backstage, Eric Bischoff gives Eugene the chance to leave before his match instead of risking injury in the ring. Eugene tells his Uncle that he wants to compete. ***
2) Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) defeats Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) with a running enziguri at 6:06
Fun Fact: Travis Tomko signed a developmental deal with WWE in 2002 and was immediately assigned to OVW. After a tag team title run with stablemate Seven, Tomko was elevated to Raw dark matches throughout 2003 before making his debut on the 4/19 Raw.
Fun Fact II: On 4/19, Christian defeated Chris Jericho thanks to the help of an unknown assailant. Backstage, Christian introduced us to Trish’s new problem solver: Tyson Tomko. The next week, Jericho got some revenge when he knocked Christian out of the ring and hooked Trish in the Walls until Tomko saved her. On 5/10, Jericho got more revenge when he defeated Christian in a cage match. Christian would then hit the sidelines to rehab a back injury sustained in the match, leaving Trish under the watchful eye of Tomko. On 5/24, Tomko attacked Jericho and put him through a table with a powerbomb, attempting to put him out as well. The next week, assuming Jericho was out, Tomko and Trish hosted the Highlight Reel and mocked the previous week’s attack. Jericho showed up an attacked, but while he had Trish in the Walls, Tomko kicked him down and then slammed him on a steel chair.
Scott: Christian’s problem solver makes his PPV debut against Y2J. Again the match itself is pretty average, and the crowd is indicative of that. Tomko is a pretty basic power guy with simple strikes. Jericho sold it well and made him look like a big time monster. Tomko is pretty stiff in terms of his movements and it takes a lot away from the overall package of the match. The end of the match is pretty weak as Trish half-sells an accidental shot from Tomko, then Jericho hits a pretty sloppy enziguri for the win. Nothing impressive, and with a better ending I would have graded it higher. As it is, Jericho gets another win in his feud with former best friend Christian, who wasn’t even there due to injury. Grade: 2
Justin: With her main squeeze on the DL, Trish heads out to the ring with her problem solver in our next match. And man, was Trish smoking at this point. Tomko was still pretty green here, but he had a good look and solid power offense that he used to build heat on Jericho here. He definitely showed some promise early as he moved well for a big guy. This was just a basic match and the crowd was pretty into it, as they tried their best to rally Jericho. Trish would try to get involved but some miscommunication led to a good Jericho win. After being humiliated at Wrestlemania, Jericho has come back strong with back to back PPV wins and a big cage match win that put Christian on the shelf. The feud continues after this match, which told a nice story as Tomko worked Jericho’s ribs, but the veteran Jericho fought him off and took advantage of the mistake to pick up the win. Grade: 1.5
*** Randy Orton begins to cut a promo backstage but slowly makes his way to the ring while speaking. Orton brags about the length of his IC title reign, which had been going since December. It was a strong promo, but the challenger interrupted the Champion and the match got underway. ***
3) Randy Orton defeats Shelton Benjamin to retain WWE Intercontinental Championship with a roll up at 15:05
Fun Fact: Since jumping to Raw, Shelton Benjamin had been part of the coalition to battle Evolution. With a pair of wins over Triple H and a PPV victory over Ric Flair under his belt, Shelton turned his attention to the IC Champion. On 5/31, Shelton defeated Randy Orton in a non-title match to earn his title shot here.
Scott: I must say I did like Randy Orton’s “Legend Killer Tour” t-shirt. This match apparently was slated for later on in the card, but Shelton interrupts the interview and they decide to start it up now. On paper, this should be a pretty good match. Orton is officially part of the “in” group after his Backlash performance against Mick Foley. Benjamin’s solo push is going well, and he gets his first singles title shot here. Orton is still trying to figure something out. He puts Benjamin in some strange type of chinlock, but I’m not sure what he’s trying to do with it. The crowd’s even flat during this match. Maybe it’s because they’re just waiting for the Cell match so they’re sitting on their hands for everything else. Ric Flair would come to ringside to cheer his charge on, as JR would mention that Flair is a budding author. Great book incidentally, I suggest you go out and get it. The match does have a good pacing and I wish the crowd would get a little more into it. Flair takes his usual bumps and the momentum made you feel like Benjamin was going to take the title, including slapping Flair in the Figure Four and roll Orton up on a small package at the same time. Finally the crowd wakes up towards the end but just as Shelton was about to take it he goes for a high cross body and the momentum rolls Orton on top and with a handful of tights steals the match and keeps the title. This was a really good match and one that finally woke the crowd up. Grade: 3
Justin: Shelton Benjamin’s strong push continues here as he earns his first PPV singles title match. He has really benefited from the switch to Raw and was holding his own against Evolution each week. This match started with a fast pace and Shelton was hot out of the gate. You could see the chemistry these two had right from the bell, as they worked free and smooth and with each other. The match would slow down a bit as Orton clamped on his now customary chinlock to wear down his challenger. Ric Flair would come out to help encourage his protégé, and his presence would add to the heat of some great near falls. Shelton really looked great here and proved that he had the goods to hang with the big boys. He looked strong as well as he fought off both Flair and Orton at one point. Orton would get the win, but he had to use the tights to steal it, keeping Shelton strong. The match was well booked and was the highlight of the night so far. It was a hard fought match but the champion retained his beloved gold. Grade: 3
4) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeats Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon), Gail Kim & Lita (Amy Dumas) to win WWE Women’s Championship when she pins Lita with a roll up at 4:44
Scott: Nothing more than a way for Trish to win the title without getting Victoria pinned. Victoria was looking hot and looking great in the ring. Gail Kim has never had a fair shake in WWE, either during this stretch or her return. She was usually one of the top two or three best female workers in the company, yet never got a solid run with the brass ring. Lita goes for a pin on Gail, but Trish rolls in and gets a roll-up for the win. Victoria’s beltless and Trish is the first five-time Women’s Champ. Grade: 1.5
Justin: Lita, Victoria and Gail had been battling each other in some shape, way or form since Backlash, all trading beatings and wins over each other. Trish enters the picture now as well and all of Raw’s top Divas tussle for the gold. Lita gets the biggest pop once again here, but she couldn’t really enjoy it as she was in the midst of being stalked and tortured by Kane, but we will get into that further in future shows. Trish wrestled a smart match here, avoiding the action and trying to outsmart the others. They actually kept up a nice pace here, interchanging throughout the bout and keeping things fresh. It was clear that the money match of the Women’s division was Trish facing Lita and you could tell things were slowly being turned that way, but we are not quite there yet. With that said, Victoria and Gail are clearly the afterthoughts in the match. Tomko would help Trish and she would steal the tile from Victoria, adding even more heat to her already smoldering character. This was a fun little brawl with some good heat due to the Trish/Lita dynamic. Grade: 2
5) Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) defeats Jonathan Coachman with a Rock Bottom at 7:39
Fun Fact: On 4/26, Johnny Nitro gave William Regal two weeks to prepare Eugene for his in ring debut. Eugene had been a thorn in La Resistance’s side and they demanded a match with him. Over the next two weeks, we were treated to some funny vignettes of Regal training his new protégé. On 5/10, Eric Bischoff revealed to Regal that he wanted Eugene to lose so he would become frustrated and quit. Later that night, Regal followed Eric’s wishes and attempted to trip up Eugene, but Eugene would shake it off and win his debut match over Rob Conway. On 5/17, Jonathan Coachman, along with Garrison Cade, was interviewing Eugene and proceeded to verbally abuse him to the point of making Eugene cry. Just as he was about to sulk off, the Rock made a surprise appearance and helped Eugene beat the Coach and Cade down and send them scurrying. By 5/24, Regal was really starting to show some compassion for Eugene, but the Coach was still messing with them and Regal was told that he would not be permitted to accompany Eugene to the ring for a match with Coach and Cade. Just when it seemed liked Eugene would have to go it alone, Chris Benoit hit the ring and helped Eugene defeat his tormentors. The next week, Bischoff and Coach set Eugene up by promising an apology but delivering a beatdown from Kane. After Regal flipped out on Eric, Eric threatened to fire him and then claimed that the Eugene experiment would end later that night and put him in a match with Kane. Eric would tell his nephew that he made this match so Eugene could see how dangerous the business was and would leave Raw and return home. Eugene would hang in there and would win the match by DQ. On 6/7, Eric announced that Eugene would face Coach at the PPV and then booked Eugene in a match with Johnny Nitro that night. Because he was annoyed with Nitro’s antics, Eric told him that if he lost to Eugene, he was fired. Eugene would easily win the match and Nitro was history.
Scott: This is nothing more than a chance to make Coach look like a fool. Eugene was actually very entertaining and the whole handicapped gimmick was working in many ways early on. The best part of this match is when both start an Irish Whip, then Eugene leaves the ring to get a stuffed animal from a hot blonde at ringside…and Coach is still whipping the ropes. More distractions from hot chicks to cookies to Garrison Cade couldn’t stop our hero from hitting the Rock Bottom and the win. A couple of Stunners after that and Eugene covers all the Attitude Era finishers. This was a fun little spell to prelude the last two matches. Grade: 1.5
Justin: After utilizing Raw as his own personal playground since his debut, Eugene steps inside a ring on PPV for the first time. His Uncle Eric banned his keeper Regal from ringside, so Eugene is forced to go it alone here. Thanks to some smart booking and solid character acting, Eugene was actually getting over quite a bit and he gets a good reaction here. It also helped that he was feuding with a natural heel like Coach. Coach would also draw some easy cheap heat by rocking a University of Michigan jersey in the middle of Ohio State country. I thought the Eugene gimmick was pretty good in its early stages, as he was wily in the ring and mimicked the moves of the stars he saw growing up. He would frustrate Coach with various head games as the match went on, entertaining the crowd quite a bit in the process. Eugene took control with a Junkyard Dog impression, but Coach had a trick up his sleeve as he had a hot girl in a bikini come bring Eugene cookies. The distraction worked temporarily but Eugene fought through it and also took out Garrison Cade before putting Coach down for good with a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow. This was a good little time killer and Eugene was in a good role right now, but unfortunately he is about to get pushed way higher than his ceiling should have been. Grade: 1
6) Chris Benoit defeats Kane to retain World Heavyweight Championship with an Oklahoma roll at 18:14
Fun Fact: Kane earned this title shot by winning a battle royal on the 5/17 Raw. Over the ensuing weeks, he and Benoit had a few confrontations, and the crux of the build was whether or not Benoit could clamp Kane in the Crossface. On the 6/7 Raw, Kane broke free from the Crossface and pinned Benoit with a chokeslam in a six-man tag match.
Scott: Benoit’s second match is the big one, as he strays from Triple H and Michaels to tackle the Big Red Monster. The match started off really slow and the crowd went back to being kind of out of it, even with the ever popular Benoit in the match. The psychology wasn’t bad, but I couldn’t get into it completely and for a good portion of the beginning it was nothing more than rolling around in the ring. Kane’s big moves later on woke the crowd up and there may have been the slight chance that Kane, who may have been a hotter heel than Triple H, was going to take the title from Benoit. The fact that this match wasn’t last was obvious due to the stipulation of the next match, but this is where people started to get upset that Benoit was being shoved to the side in favor of non-title feuds, involving Triple H of course. Whatever. Benoit was the champ, was still getting the hot crowd reactions, and was putting on the best matches. Even against Kane. For some reason I just can’t get into this match though. I’m sure many Benoit Kool-Aid drinkers thought that he carried Kane. Kane is a solid worker who can settle into any kind of match. Many also think this match is three-four stars. I disagree, but I won’t totally crap on it either. It was just there, kind of like this show in general. Grade: 2.5
Justin: In his second tour of duty tonight, Chris Benoit faces a tough challenge in his second PPV title defense since Wrestlemania. Kane won a battle royal to win the shot, but since then an interesting and basic story was forged: can Benoit hook his Crossface on Kane. Benoit would work the arm, but Kane kept powering out of submission holds, forcing Benoit to mix up his game plan. Kane would gain control and focus on Benoit’s neck and did a nice job cutting off Benoit’s comeback attempts and dictating the pace of the match. The match slowed up a bit as Kane hooked a neck vise, but it was short-lived and soon after Benoit worked over Kane’s legs in an attempt to go to the Sharpshooter as the Crossface didn’t seem possible. Desperate to weaken his huge opponent, Benoit turned to a barrage of Germans, but that didn’t slow Kane down and it led to a really good near fall on a Chokeslam. Benoit would finally hook the Crossface, but Kane fought it and refused to tap out. Then in a cool spot, Benoit gave up the hold, faked another attempt and hooked Kane with an Oklahoma roll for the flash pin instead. It was a neat story and I liked seeing Benoit think his way through the match, eventually figuring out a way to pin the monster. Benoit retains his title in a hard fought match and Kane proved to be an entertaining and hard-working challenger here. Grade: 2.5
7) Triple H defeats Shawn Michaels in a Hell in a Cell match with a Pedigree at 47:55
Fun Fact: On 5/3, Triple H interfered in Shawn Michaels’ match with Chris Benoit and cost him the match. The next week, Hunter was facing off with Shelton Benjamin when Michaels charged out to attack Triple H. After security broke up the fight, Eric Bischoff came out and suspended Michaels for being out of line. A week later, Michaels ignored Bischoff’s decree and interjected in the number one contender battle royal, eliminating Hunter in the process. On 5/24, the two men sparred through the show, culminating with a big brawl at the end of program. Before the show went off the air, Bischoff came out and said he had enough of the fighting and that the two would face inside Hell in a Cell at the PPV. The two would have one final brawl in the Evolution skybox on the 6/7 Raw.
Scott: Well here we are at the final chapter of one of this decade’s most brutal rivalries. You knew that eventually this stip would come into play. This may be the only rivalry in memory where every PPV match between them had a stipulation attached to it. So with all the hype and all the build and all the great matches that preceded it, this may very well be the most disappointing HIAC match in history. Now, I’m not saying its the worst HIAC match ever, that’s still Big Boss Man/Undertaker from Wrestlemania XV. The first half of the match is really no different than any of their other matches and featured the usual brutality with stairs, chairs and the like. Yet, the Cell hasn’t come into play as much as it should. That’s the point of the Cell. Eventually Triple H takes control and gives Shawn a pretty good beating for a while, including busting him open and slamming the steps into his head. That’s fine, but where’s the Cell? Oh yeah Triple H rips Shawn’s face into the wall of the cell but otherwise, the cell is pretty much there for show. As I’m watching this, the match is almost a mirror image of their Last Man Standing match at the Royal Rumble. They’re doing the same amount of damage to each other, except there’s a cell around them that’s really doing nothing to the match. Then there’s the ridiculous length of this match. Did it really need to be over 45 minutes? Honestly, it almost felt like they had to go ridiculously over the top to make this the finale. That’s fine, but 47 minutes? Come on. That’s a bit much. The longer this match was going, the lower my grade was getting. There was lots of lying around after Triple H Pedigreed Michael three straight times, practically taking the blood off his face. Finally Hunter gets the pin and this match is mercifully over. Four stars…if it was twenty minutes shorter. Grade: 2.5
Justin: This feud had been waging since Shawn Michaels returned at Summerslam 2002, and it seemed like it would finally end here. JR notes that Hunter is undefeated inside the Cell so Michaels seemingly had quite the task ahead of him. Michaels gets a huge pop for his entrance but that crowd enthusiasm would die down a bit as this epic wore on. The match had a really good build, but the feud just felt played out here. Add in the fact that it took front and center over the World Champion, and many smart fans were against it from the start. The early parts of the match were basic stuff, just with a more methodical pace to it. Hunter would focus on Michaels’ injured back and really punish it throughout the match. The beating was slow and calculating and featured some nasty chair related spots. In order to fill the time, both men went through long heat segments, slowly punishing the other. They would tease some big spots, but things just dragged. However, they didn’t use many restholds, so it didn’t drag in the usual way. They just moved slowly and tried to make every moment very dramatic. As was the norm by now, Michaels hit another nasty gusher, bleeding all over the ring. The most used move between both men was when one of them would run the other into the cage. Half the match must have been comprised of that. I will give the crowd credit as they kept a steady buzz throughout the bout and then picked it up at the end. I wouldn’t have blamed them if they went to sleep. Their reaction may have had something to do with some good ladder shots that the two unleashed as well. My biggest issue with the match is that it wasn’t organic. It didn’t feel like a match that went 45 minutes. It felt like they had 45 minutes to fill and wanted to put on an epic and just tried way too hard to make it happen. Michaels would get a good near fall off Sweet Chin Music but there was just way too much lying around in the closing minutes to really end the match on a crescendo. The finish was very anticlimactic and just fell flat. This could have been so much better as a twenty-minute fast paced, weapons laced brawl. Instead we got two guys eating up a third of the show in a contrived, overdramatic snoozefest. Michaels lies down but both men would finally move on to different things for a while before hooking back up later in the year. I am giving these guys a decent grade for the effort they put into the match and some fun spots and nasty bladejobs, but it really was tough to sit through. Grade: 2.5
Scott: What was wrong with this show? I’m not sure, but the crowd didn’t help matters. They sat on their hands for most of this show to wait for the finale. Benoit’s two appearances were fine, but forgotten with the main event. The Cell match hung over the rest of this show and unfortunately it became a wet blanket over the rest of the show. Eugene was entertaining, but La Res is awful and the women’s match wasn’t much. I did enjoy Orton/Benjamin but again the crowd was flat for the first half of it. Raw is still the better show than Smackdown but the undercard was both average and ignored for the overblown main event. Maybe if the main event was twenty minutes shorter and the Orton/Benjamin match a little longer? Not sure, but somehow what may have looked good on paper just didn’t deliver in the ring. Final Grade: C-
Justin: Raw really had a chance to deliver a great show here. The build was all well done, the TV shows had been really good and they had the talent to do it, but this whole outing just fell flat. The crowd was into the matches and characters, but every match left me wanting more as the show just so blah. Orton and Benjamin had the match of the night, but even that was just good at best. The main event was a mess and should have been twenty minutes shorter at the least. Chris Benoit brought back memories of Bret Hart by doing double-duty but in the end he was still the World Champion wrestling in mid-card matches. Kane was a good opponent and the match was solid, but Benoit deserved better here than to play second fiddle to the Kliq war. Instead of surpassing Smackdown with a stellar outing, Raw played down to their opponent and gave us a snoozefest that was utterly forgettable in the end. Final Grade: C-
MVP: Randy Orton & Shelton Benjamin
Runner Up: Chris Benoit
Non MVP: Victoria & Gail Kim
Runner Up: Shawn Michaels & Triple H