July 11, 2004
Buy Rate: .55
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler
Sunday Night Heat
Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) defeats Val Venis (Sean Morley) with a big boot at 2:52
Pay Per View
1) Tajiri & Rhyno (Terry Gerin) defeat Garrison Cade (Lance Cade) & Jonathan Coachman when Tajiri pins Cade with a Buzzsaw Kick at 7:13
Fun Fact: On 7/5, Uncle Eric Bischoff gave Eugene control of Raw. To start the show, Stacy Keibler, Jerry Lawler, Tajiri, Jonathan Coachman, Chris Jericho and Ric Flair were assembled in the ring. GM Eugene appeared and announced that the six were to compete in musical chairs to earn a title match later in the show. During the contest, Coach knocked Tajiri from the chair, eliminating him. As Coach was laughing it up, Tajiri sprayed him in the face with his mist, taking him out as well. During Sunday Night Heat, Coach announced that he and his buddy Garrison Cade would be facing Tajiri and a partner of his choosing. Tajiri chose his fellow ECW alumnus Rhyno.
Scott: Our opener was announced on Heat, and it was smart because this would have been a pretty short show, even with two half hour matches. This little feud between Coach and Tajiri was entertaining, and adequate filler on Raw. Cade was from the Shawn Michaels Academy and had some pretty good skills, so his time was here to start cutting his teeth. Coach really got himself ready for these matches, taking good bumps and generally being a punching bag. Nice ending with Cade taking the mist and the GORE GORE GORE! Tajiri cracks Coach in the head with a kick, and the Buzzsaw gets his win back after jobbing at Backlash. Decent opener and the Hartford crowd, of which I surprisingly was not a part of, is pretty vocal and ready to go. Grade: 2
Justin: We kick off our next PPV outing with a continuation of a feud that has been raging since April. Coach picked up a win on Tajiri at Backlash, but Tajiri wanted that win back here. Rhyno showed great energy as always, as he was non-stop in the ring. Despite not getting much of a push as of late, Tajiri was still very over, showing that he had a unique connection with the fans. The match was well worked and filled with a simple tag formula. Coach and Cade would have some miscommunication and Tajiri would wipe Coach out with a stiff kick to get his revenge. This was a decent little tag match that showed Tajiri still had legs for an upper mid-card face run. Grade: 1.5
2) Batista defeats Chris Jericho with a Batistabomb at 12:18
Fun Fact: On 6/14, Chris Jericho eliminated Batista in a six-man elimination bout. Batista would get some revenge a week later when he and Randy Orton defeated Jericho and Edge. They had a rematch a week later, which was won by Edge and Jericho. Batista would get the final shots in on the 7/5 Raw when he assaulted Jericho before a singles match with Orton.
Scott: I actually liked this combination when it was announced. Batista was slowly working his way up the ladder and this was a good guy to put him in the ring with. This is similar to his encounter with Shawn Michaels at Armageddon back in December. At this point, Batista needed to get in the ring with some faster, more technically sound guys than himself to really make himself more well-rounded. It’s clear that they booked this show with less matches but more substance in them. Batista dictated the tempo with power moves and wear down holds, which were an Evolution staple on this night. Here it works because Batista is so much bigger than Jericho that it’s legitimately effective. We’ll see later in the show how restholds with two guys of similar size doesn’t work as much. In one sequence Jericho ducks a couple of clotheslines but walks into a big time spinebuster as Batista lifted him up almost eight feet off the ground and drove him to the mat. Batista hits the Demon Bomb and gets the win, regardless of the fact that Jericho’s feet were on the ropes. Pretty good match as Batista was given the chance to dictate pace and really lay into his smaller opponent. Good psychology and a good match. Grade: 2.5
Justin: After finally wrapping up his feud with Trish Stratus and her stable, Chris Jericho joined the Raw war against Evolution. Oh, and he was still super over here too. I liked the story here as they worked a good big man vs. small man dynamic, anchored by Batista’s power offense and Jericho’s selling. I must say that Batista was showing a lot of improvement, and you would think it came mainly from osmosis. He had been hanging with Triple H and Ric Flair for a while now and their wrestling intelligence was rubbing off on Big Dave. Things would slow up a bit, but the crowd stayed with them as Jericho fought his way back and helped pick up the pace. Batista’s hard-hitting offense was impressive; especially his high impact moves that led to a big clean win. Well, it was kind of clean, as Jericho’s foot was on the rope, but the ref missed it. Either way, it was a strong win because they played it up that Jericho was knocked silly and just put his foot on the rope as instinct. The match was hard fought and well worked and went a long way in establishing Batista as a force. Both guys worked hard and it showed with a good match. Grade: 2.5
*** Backstage, Triple H convinces Eugene that Chris Benoit was lying when he apologized about an errant chair shot on Raw. Despite Flair reaming out Hunter earlier in the segment, he played along with the Game’s wishes and gave Eugene one of his robes as a present. ***
3) La Resistance defeats Ric Flair & Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) by disqualification when Eugene shoves the referee at 12:31; La Resistance retain World Tag Team Titles
Fun Fact: On 7/5, GM Eugene told Ric Flair that they would be teaming up to take on La Resistance for the tag team titles at the PPV. Flair was not happy with the announcement, but agreed due to Triple H’s association with Eugene, as outlined later in the review.
Scott: We go back to 1983, against Harley Race in the cage. 1986 against Dusty Rhodes in the cage. 1989 against Ricky Steamboat. 2004 with Eugene as his tag team partner. Good grief. Maybe I needed to walk away from pro wrestling at this point because at times I think I take characters too seriously. Everybody loved the Eugene character. I thought it was a complete waste of time. Why? Because for it to work effectively there needed to be a carefully planned swerve and I knew that wasn’t going to happen. The swerve would have been that Eugene really wasn’t mentally challenged and that he was actually a calculating heel who wanted everyone’s sympathy and then turn on all of them. However we all knew the bookers weren’t going to take the time to come up with something so intricate for a mid-card joke. However the crowd was really into the character, thus the reason he was enveloped into Evolution and was involved in 2/3 of this PPV. The match wasn’t terrible, even though as usual Rob Conway was carrying this match and Sylvan’s a complete waste of space. Now at one point, Eugene’s head was slammed into the steps by Grenier. He should have morphed into this crazed, not mentally challenged crazed, actual crazed, lunatic who would perform big time moves and get wins. What would have been even better if you wanted to take this whole gig seriously, was have Flair & Eugene actually win the titles. However they don’t do that, as Eugene throws the ref down and La Rez retains their titles. Eugene comes back later in the night and that appearance is even dumber than this was. Grade: 2
Justin: Over the last four weeks of Raw, Eugene had really become a focal point of the show. His Uncle Eric used his admiration of Triple H in an attempt to get him out of his hair permanently. Despite Flair’s reluctance, due to loyalties to Hunter, he agreed to go forward with this match. La Res are still marching along as champs and continue to gain some easy heat, especially Sylvan, who butchered the Canadian national anthem until Flair’s entrance cut him off. Flair was a de facto face here and received a big pop from the crowd. Despite being cheered like a face, Flair didn’t act like one and was visibly angry when Eugene mimicked his entrance and mannerisms. Eugene would outwrestle the champs early and the crowd was quite into his act here. Full credit goes to Nick Dinsmore for getting so lost in the character and portraying the role quite believably. In a funny spot, Eugene took a stiff shot and dropped face first with a Flair Flop. Flair would tag himself in, but that backfired as La Res took over and worked a nice heat segment on Natch. Eugene would finally snap and end up tossing the ref to draw the DQ. The match was solid, but the finish was weak. It made sense as they booked themselves into a corner, but it still killed a match that had been building nicely. All four men looked solid out there, especially the ever-improving tag champs. Eugene’s match may be over but his night is far from done. Grade: 2
4) Matt Hardy defeats Kane (Glen Jacobs) in a No Disqualification match when he uses a chair to hit the stairs into Kane at 10:33
Fun Fact: Since April, Kane had been tormenting the reunited Lita and Matt Hardy, who had saved his girlfriend from an assault by the Big Red Monster. Kane had even kidnapped Lita on one episode of Raw, after weeks of failed seduction attempts. On June 14, Lita confided in Stacy Keibler that she was pregnant. A week later, Matt and Lita came out, with Matt beaming over being a father. He proposed to Lita but before could answer, Kane appeared on the Titantron and told Matt that the baby was his, which Lita then confirmed. Lita told Matt that she slept with Kane to protect him and told Matt she wasn’t completely positive that the baby was Kane’s. On 6/28, Jim Ross interviewed Kane and Kane told him that he would never be normal, so he procreated with Lita so he could raise his child to continue his legacy. JR insinuated that the child might be Matt’s, which enraged Kane. Before he could attack, Matt rushed from the crowd and attacked him. Later that night, Lita came down and prodded Kane, trying to get him to attack her and cause a miscarriage. Before he gave her a chokeslam, Kane realized what he was about to do and stopped short of that. It was then announced that Hardy would face Kane at the PPV. Hardy assaulted Kane on 7/5, attempting to weaken him for their match.
Scott: This bizarre storyline involving Lita and babies and…rape I guess culminated, for now, with a no-disqualification match. Matt Hardy and Lita have a real-life relationship and in storyline were about to get married when Kane said that the baby that was supposedly Matt’s was actually Kane’s! Oh my god! What a complete mess. The match isn’t bad, until Lita comes in and it completely circled the bowl. She comes in and the match becomes all convoluted and Matt then hits Kane with a chair while the steel steps were on him and Matt picks up the upset win. I didn’t think Matt was going to win either, as Kane was really laying into him during the middle of the match. It honestly should have been booked like the Batista/Jericho match was, where Kane really dominated the action until the end. Overall the match didn’t live up to what I thought it could be, and Lita’s interference did nothing to help it. Grade: 2
Justin: In his first PPV match as a face in quite a while, Matt Hardy is looking for revenge on the man that blackmailed his girlfriend into sex and possibly even knocked her up. The two men would brawl all around the ring, but quickly it turned around with Kane punishing Hardy. He would toy with him a bit before Matt made a furious and frantic comeback. Lita would get involved and Matt would pick up the upset win. The finish was weak with Matt bashing a chair into the stairs that Kane was holding. I always hate finishes or moves involving the stairs, as they usually look hokey and weak. The best stair usage is when someone is slammed onto them. When used as a weapon, it just came off as lame. Anyway, Matt gets the win, but this twisted saga is far from over. Grade: 2
5) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Randy Orton to win Intercontinental Championship with a spear at 26:38
Fun Fact: On 6/14, Randy Orton eliminated Edge from a six-man elimination match. A week later, Orton again pinned Edge in a tag match. However, that came after a confrontation with the Great One. Yes, the Rock made a surprise appearance on Raw in his hometown, but was confronted by Orton. Orton compared their title reigns and Rock did his usual great verbal assault. The segment ended with Edge charging the ring and spearing Orton. On 7/5, Edge confronted Triple H and warned him that he was tired of Evolution running Raw and that he would be taking them down, starting with Orton at Vengeance.
Scott: A much anticipated match simply because Edge had been slowly getting back into the swing of things after being out for so long. Orton was on a tear and the crowd was slowly starting to like him, as evidenced by the “Orton” chants from the Hartford crowd during this match. We also start actually hearing some boos towards Edge. That would prove valuable over the coming months. Now, earlier in the review I talked about how some restholds are valuable and how some are a waste. During the Batista/Chris Jericho match we saw a guy bigger than his opponent use his size to wear his opponent down. However, when you’re dealing with two wrestlers that are the same size weardown holds don’t have that same visual logic, if you will. How could Randy Orton use a move to wear Edge down when they both weigh roughly the same size? The headlock in this match was almost thirteen of the twenty-seven minutes of this match. Here was where the show’s booking was a problem. With a imbalanced format for the show, the fact that they wanted to put two thirty-plus minute matches really hurt the quality. Here was the prime example of that. The last five minutes really picks up and is the part of the match that most people remember. A lot of people grade this match highly because of the last five minutes, but overall it’s not as tremendous. Orton would dodge the spear a few times, but Edge would finally hit the Legend Killer with it and win his fifth Intercontinental Championship. We see both men take drastically different paths over the next couple of months. Grade: 3
Justin: Randy Orton marches into Vengeance just 55 days short of the Rock’s IC title reign. There had been some verbal jabs between the two and it seemed like there would maybe be a match between the two to see if Orton could surpass Rock’s reign. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be and at the time, I was pretty surprised that Edge won the belt as they had talked so much about the length of Orton’s reign; I thought it would go on longer. Edge gets a nice pop for his entrance but after that the crowd was pretty much split down the middle between the two men, with a lot of Orton chants echoing throughout the building. Orton was really developing a good presence in the ring at this point and it was clear to see he was dictating the pace of the match. Edge had also finally gotten back into a groove since returning in April as his ring smoothness and sharpness had returned. Those two factors came together to lead to a good match. Edge also broke out some nice aerial offense that had been lacking since his return. The match was moving along nicely but screeched to a halt with a long mix of restholds, mainly involving Orton and a chinlock. It was around this time that Orton was catching a lot of flak for relying on the chinlock. I usually didn’t have much issue with it because he always made sure to really sell the hold and show that he was working it, instead of lying there lazily. In this match though, they just went on too long and it really killed the flow and almost knocked the crowd out. Things would pick back up quite a bit after that segment and Edge got a great near fall on an Impaler. The finish was red hot with Edge getting a great win and taking Orton’s treasured gold. This really could have been great but all it ended up being was a really good match with a rough middle portion that killed the potential. These two would have a better match the next night on Raw with Edge retaining his gold. Grade: 3
6) Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) defeats Molly Holly (Nora Greenwald) with a kick to the face at 6:21
Fun Fact: On 7/5, Victoria, Molly and Nidia wrestled to see who would challenge Trish for the Women’s title. Nidia would win the match, but Trish crashed the party, slugged Nidia with her cast and pinned her easily. Victoria and Molly were given a second chance to earn a title match here.
Fun Fact II: On June 21, a man in drag saved Victoria from a beatdown at the hands of Trish. We will delve further into this mystery later in the year.
Scott: In between our double main event we have a number one contenders match for Trish Stratus’ Women’s Championship. The match isn’t bad as both of these ladies always bring the goods for a decent enough bout. The crowd sits on their hands for most of this one. Victoria wins and we move on. Grade: 2
Justin: Molly was still rocking the wig here, but she was clearly fooling nobody. Victoria has really come along way with her character. A year ago, she was an evil psychopath that heard voices in her head. Now, she is happy-go-lucky and dancing all around the ring. The two had some solid chemistry and Victoria showed some nice offense in there, but the crowd wasn’t really buying what they were selling. Molly worked stiff in there and showed off some good matwork. The match was a bit slow but had a good finish that saw Victoria drill Molly with a stiff kick to earn a title match. This was OK and served its purpose as palette cleanser before the main event. Grade: 1.5
7) Chris Benoit defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain World Heavyweight Championship after Eugene hit Triple H with a chair at 29:04
Fun Fact: On 6/14, Triple H asked Eric Bischoff about receiving a title match with Chris Benoit. Bischoff told Hunter that he could gain that match by defeating Eugene the next week. Later that night, Chris Jericho tried to warn Eugene that Triple H was not to be trusted, but Eugene insisted that the Game was his favorite star. Evolution then came in and Hunter gave him a bunch of Triple H merchandise. The next week, Benoit told Bischoff to leave Eugene out of things and that he would gladly just give Hunter a title shot. Later that night, Bischoff relieved William Regal of his duties and thanked him for watching over Eugene to this point. In the main event, Hunter brutally assaulted Eugene, dominating him throughout the match. Bischoff appeared and said he didn’t care about the outcome, only that Eugene got his ass kicked. Benoit would make the save, but Hunter would get the last laugh when he dropped the champion with a Pedigree. The next week, Triple H invited Eugene to the ring and apologized for the beating he gave him, said he did it to teach Eugene a lesson and told him that Benoit was a liar and could not be trusted. William Regal came out to convince Eugene not to trust Hunter, but Hunter instead offered Eugene a spot in Evolution. Bischoff then made a match between Hunter and Regal with Eugene as the referee. It was later revealed to Ric Flair that Hunter had agreed to keep Eugene out of Eric’s hair in exchange for a title match. Eugene would end up disqualifying Regal when he saw that Regal was holding Ric Flair’s brass knucks. Regal tried to reason with Eugene, but Hunter shoved the Game into him and Eugene snapped, beating up Regal, until Evolution calmed him down. After some more smearing of Benoit by Hunter, Bischoff announced that Eugene would be the interim GM for the following week. A week later, Eugene was in control of the show and ran it from a bouncy house that doubled as his office. In a funny vignette, Hunter was bouncing with Eugene as they drew up plans for a main event later in the night. That main event featured Eugene, Flair and Hunter taking on Benoit and Edge. During the match, Eugene was reluctant to attack Benoit, but Hunter finally convinced him to assault Benoit with a chair. Hunter would take advantage and put Benoit away with a Pedigree.
Scott: Our main event is the only combination we haven’t seen in 2004. Chris Benoit continues his great run and Triple H is still…Triple H. He also still has the Lex Luger white boots on from Wrestlemania. I didn’t remember him wearing them this deep into the year. I thought maybe Mania, Backlash and that’s it. The match had a decent pace to it as it went back and forth with no one having an advantage for more than a few seconds the first ten minutes of the match. Triple H would dominate the action in the middle and for a minute you thought the Benoit reign was coming to an end. Then the part of the match that totally ruins it and the whole show. Out comes Eugene. Was the character that hot, that over with the fans that the bookers had interject him into this match? This whole thing about Eugene being part of Evolution was lame, although it led to some moderately funny exchanges from the guys on Raw. However all the crap that happened in the last ten minutes of this match completely ruined what could have been a pretty awesome World Heavyweight Title encounter. They took a moderately popular mid-card gimmick and completely shoved it down our throats until we could no longer take it. Next month Triple H puts the gimmick out of our misery. I don’t remember the Four Horsemen or the Freebirds working with halfwits. A possible five star match with two great talents became just…good. Grade: 3.5
Justin: The buildup to this one really could have been pretty straightforward but Eugene had really caught on with the crowds, so he was inserted here to add some heat and a new twist on the angle. Benoit has been a good champion but before he now, he had taken a back seat to the antics of Triple H and Shawn Michaels. Now that Hunter is back in the title mix, Benoit is back at the top of the card. These two had good chemistry and start off with a nice pace and mix of mat-work. They were hard-hitting as always and Benoit took some nasty bumps to really put over the viciousness of Hunter’s offense. I really liked JR in this match as he focused on analyzing the match instead over overselling everything. It was classic Ross and it was good to hear for a change. What was also good for a change was seeing Hunter work over the chest of Benoit. It was a good switch from the usual arm and legwork that we normally see. You can also see the difference between the main event players and the upper midcard stars as Benoit and Hunter use submission holds wisely. They listened to the crowd, spaced them out and made them count, a stark difference from the steady diet of chinlocks in the Edge/Orton bout. After some solid ring work and a handful of great reversals, Hunter calls Eugene down to the ring to help him out, which would finally be the payoff to the weeks of Hunter and Evolution placating the young savant. Benoit would stave off Hunter’s pin attempts and hook in the Crossface. There was some great drama as Eugene was unsure whom to help. Fearing that Eugene would be duped into costing him his title, Benoit jumped up and knocked him to the floor, feeling awful while doing so. Hunter would take advantage and drop the champ with a low blow, leading to a great near fall. The distraught Eugene would block Hunter from using a chair and Benoit would recover to wipe out all of Evolution. Eugene would come back in with a chair and was unsure how to use it. Benoit grabbed hold of it and they had a tug of war that ended with Hunter eating some steel. Benoit would cover and get another win over Hunter, but this was one was a bit tainted due to all the craziness involving Eugene. The match had a great flow and could have really been a classic, but the flow was killed with the Eugene nonsense. It hurt the grade and led to a weak finish. The whole thing just didn’t make sense as Hunter was always portrayed as an evil genius, but this seemed like an awful plan from the start. Even his stablemates told him it was a terrible plan. Anyway, Benoit takes advantage and gets a win in a really good match that could have been a great one. Grade: 4
Scott: This show was average. That’s pretty much all there is to say about it. Every match on this show was right down the middle. No one match was completely awful, but no one match was completely awesome either. The matchups on paper weren’t terrible, but somehow the action in the ring couldn’t get any higher than down the middle. The two main event matches were very good but not what they could have been. The Eugene gimmick completely ruined this show by having a screwed up tag title match and then butchering what could have been a grade-A World Title match by Triple H and Chris Benoit. I actually went to the extras menu and enjoyed watching Eugene getting the crap kicked out of him by Evolution the following night on Raw. At Summerslam the gimmick is officially buried for good. It sticks around, but it goes where it belongs: In the harmless comedy department of the mid-card. It would be the last PPV in Connecticut as of April 2010 and the crowd deserved better than average. Grade: C+
Justin: Raw bounces back from June’s debacle with a solid, if unspectacular show. It was nice to see the shows champion back on top of the card and he delivered another ace of a match. It is really a credit to Hunter and Benoit that they could deliver such a good match despite it being overbooked like crazy. Edge and Orton also put on a good show and it was one that showed us the future of the promotion. These two guys were being elevated up the card and they were really gaining a star-like presence in the ring. They still had some rough spots to iron out, but it was clear they were on their way. The rest of the show was average to above-average, with no real stink bombs holding it down. JR and Lawler were good throughout the night, and it may be their best outing since Wrestlemania. Raw was really cranking week-to-week at this point, as they had solid storylines and excellent in ring work, mainly thanks to the ongoing war featuring Evolution and the top level faces of Raw. After an interesting stretch of single-brand shows, Summerslam is on deck as the brands get back together for one of the big four. As of now, Raw dishes out another entertaining average show. Final Grade: C
MVP: Chris Benoit & Triple H
Runner Up: Edge & Randy Orton
Non MVP: Kane
Runner Up: Molly & Victoria