January 9, 2005
Coliseo de Puerto Rico
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Buy Rate: .68
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler & Jonathan Coachman
Sunday Night Heat
Hurricane (Gregory Helms) & Rosey (Matt Anoa’i) defeated La Resistance
Pay Per View
*** This is the first WWE PPV to emanate from Puerto Rico. ***
1) Eugene (Nick Dinsmore) & William Regal defeat Christian (Jay Reso) & Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) to retain World Tag Team Titles when Eugene pins Tomko with a roll up at 12:21
Fun Fact: On the 11/15 Raw, Eugene and William Regal captured the World Tag Team Titles from La Resistance in a Triple Threat match. On 1/3, Christian defeated Eugene with an assist from Tomko.
Scott: First off, I don’t remember Eugene having his own Hulk Hogan-rip off t-shirt. That’s pretty cool. Secondly, right from the get-go this crazy Puerto Rico crowd is hot and ready for their first PPV. I like the stage setup with the big Puerto Rico flags, and even the old-school ring bell. Sounds like a house show from the early-80s. The opener pits our champions, Eugene and his babysitter Regal against Captain Charisma and the Problem Solver. The match itself was pretty standard with a lot of comedy sight gags. This is pretty much what Eugene’s character has been relegated to. After being properly squashed by Triple H in the Evolution storyline, he’s just bopping around doing the nostalgia thing. I always thought that Tomko could have been a decent big man who could be elevated to upper mid-card status, particularly with Christian as his mouthpiece. Regal was still having his deviated septum/sinus issue as he experienced another nosebleed. Eugene gets the surprise pin, but Eugene did tear his knee up which takes him out of the equation for a while. This would not be the only injury of the night but he popped it somehow on a dropkick. You can tell it’s a legit injury because they’re not getting close to him, as he’s talking normal to the doctors. Overall a decent opener and the crowd were pretty excited throughout. Grade: 2
Justin: The first PPV of 2005 brings with it winds of change on many levels. It is a brand new PPV concept, it is the first PPV to take place in Puerto Rico and we have a fresh title match to kick off the show. Regal and Eugene won the belts in November and here they battle Captain Charisma and his muscle. Christian and Regal bust out some good matwork early on before Eugene got involved, using his usual antics to control the match. As played out as it may have seemed, Eugene is still pretty over at this point as the crowd was cheering him on. Tomko showed off his power with a nice chokeslam on Eugene, but Eugene would Hulk Up to get the champs back into it. This match was better than I expected as the pace was fluid and both teams just worked well in their roles. The match got bloody too, as Regal’s nose got busted open and his mouth and chin were covered in red. Regal’s selling was great as always, keeping the crowd into it so they were hot for Eugene’s comeback. Just as the finish was cranking up, things got messed up as Eugene blows out his knee during a dropkick. The match really fell apart as everyone just sort of wandered around until Eugene pins Christian with a half-hearted roll up. The lame finish killed what could have been a really good opener. As is, the match was solid and entertaining but could have been so much more with a hot finish. I understand Eugene’s knee got messed up, but I wish they could have improvised a better and more legit finish. Eugene and Regal hang on to the gold, but thanks to the injury their reign is now on borrowed time. Grade: 2
2) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) defeats Lita (Amy Dumas) to retain WWE Women’s Title with a Chick Kick at 3:45
Fun Fact: This feud continues on after the brutal Survivor Series brawl settled nothing and left Trish with a busted nose. On 11/22, Trish defeated Molly and Lita to retain her title. The next week, Lita got some revenge when she and Victoria defeated Trish and Molly when Lita kicked Trish in the face and pinned her. Things came to a head on 12/6 as the two heated rivals faced off one on one. After a tremendously hot match that saw Lita nearly kill herself on a suicide dive, she was finally able to defeat Trish and take her title. They would battle over the following weeks, building anticipation for the PPV rematch.
Scott: After having a match that main evented Raw, Trish goes for her title back in the rematch. Unfortunately this match won’t get off the ground because about two minutes in, Lita blows her knee out going for a Lou Thesz Press off the apron to Trish. Trish spends the rest of the match beating on her leg. Lita tries to do anything but her knee was shot. One Chick Kick and Trish regains her title. The match was nothing as Trish pretty much won it with almost no help. Grade: .5
Justin: Despite losing her title to Lita, Trish still had her tremendous heel swagger as she strutted to the ring, confident that she would regain her gold. Oh, and she was hot, so that helped too. Lita gets a big pop as she was as over as ever on this night. The match started off basic enough but just like our opener, things get off track quickly when Lita messes up her knee and can’t continue. It happened when Lita went for a Lou Thesz Press from the apron to the floor. Trish would try to work the knee a bit, but things got choppy because Lita could barely stand. Trish ends up quickly ending things by giving Lita a stiff kick to the face to finish her off. Trish gets her title back but this was another mess on what is beginning to look like a cursed PPV outing for WWE. Grade: .5
*** Edge asks Eric Bischoff to take him out of the Chamber match and replace him with Christian because he feels that guest referee Shawn Michaels would not treat him fairly. Under Edge’s plan, he would receive his title shot the next night on Raw. Bischoff refused and Edge would remain in the match here tonight. ***
3) Shelton Benjamin defeats Maven (Maven Huffman) to retain WWE Intercontinental Championship with a roll up at 6:06
Fun Fact: On 11/15, Maven granted himself a World Title match during his night as Raw GM. He would lose a hard fought match but the result would begin to gnaw at him. Two weeks later, Maven was complaining to Shelton Benjamin about his lack of gold during his career. Eugene then came in and showed off his tag team gold, causing Maven to snap on him. Later that night, Maven attacked Eugene at ringside and left him laid out. Maven would continue his heel turn a week later when he choked out Eugene during a match between the two. On 12/13, Maven continued on his roll when he pinned Shelton Benjamin in a six-man tag match. Maven would continue running his mouth over the next two weeks as he looked to take Shelton’s gold at the PPV.
Scott: Maven became a heel around the New Year, but I always thought he should have joined Evolution like Triple H promised him after Survivor Series. Maven actually beat Shelton on Raw, and that made this match pretty suspenseful. Then after dodging and bobbing, Maven starts jawing with the crowd and boring the crap out of everyone. Then he wants to walk off, runs back in and gets rolled up for the loss. Maven says the first match didn’t count and he wants Shelton back in the ring for a rematch. The crowd starts chanting and the champ gets back in the ring, hits the T-Bone Suplex and beats Maven again. Ugh. This was a complete waste of time and a joke. Grade: .5
Justin: Fresh off his much needed heel turn; Maven makes his way to the ring and is absolutely juiced to the gills. You could tell he was taking this push seriously as he was bringing some intensity and had obviously been getting into some serious physical shape as well. I was looking forward to this one, as these two seemed to have good chemistry and had a nice feud brewing. Plus it was another fresh matchup, just like our opener. Unfortunately, this was booked to go in a different direction. Maven busted out some basic heel stalling tactics right out of the gate. As much as I disliked the direction they took, I will say that Maven’s shtick worked well with this old school crowd. Maven kept running his mouth until Shelton finally forced him in the ring and quickly rolled him for the win. Maven would demand a rematch on the spot and Shelton capitulated and again easily polished him off with an Exploder suplex. Maven was pretty funny on the mic but this was really a pointless Raw segment that was just eating up PPV time. Shelton looked strong but the whole thing made Maven look weak and useless. It was just weird booking and I fell like a solid ten-minute match would have done more for both men. Either way, Shelton is still the champ and Maven still has no gold around his waist. Grade: .5
4) Muhammad Hassan (Mark Copani) defeats Jerry Lawler with a Downward Spiral at 10:50
Fun Fact: Muhammad Hassan is portrayed by Mark Copani, an aspiring wrestler and actor that signed with WWE and was sent to OVW in 2003. In late 2004, vignettes began airing of Hassan alongside his confidant Khosrow Daivari. In the early promos, he and Daivari would complain about being prejudiced against as Muslim American wrestlers, thanks to fallout from 9/11. Many pundits hoped that the characters would be taken in a deep direction, by having the two men be faces that were trying to improve relations and awareness. The early promo work was very well done and the points were very salient, as neither man had done anything wrong, but both were the subjects of racial profiling. Unfortunately, things would change quickly and the gimmick would be brought to wrestling’s usual lowest common denominator. Shawn Daivari, who was a lifelong wrestling fan that had bounced around a few Indy promotions, including Ring of Honor, portrayed Hassan’s running buddy. He was signed by WWE in August for this role. He had a brief cup of coffee with WWE in Stamford when he wrestled a match on Sunday Night Heat, but did not spend much time in developmental before debuting on TV.
Fun Fact II: Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari made their live TV debuts on the 12/13 Raw when they interrupted Mick Foley and ripped into America for the prejudices they had to endure. On 12/27, while Hassan was cutting another promo, Daivari commandeered the announce table and blamed JR and Lawler for spreading propaganda and fueling America’s hatred. Lawler took offense, but Hassan and Daivari wiped him out and the Daivari cracked JR across the face. On 1/3, the four men met in an Arab-American Debate. After the usual rhetoric in these sort of wrestling debates, a big brawl broke out and JR and the King were left bloodied and beaten. Later that night it was announced that King and Hassan would square off at the PPV.
Scott: Wow could Hassan have taken any more steroids? Jesus his entire chest is covered in acne. He’s not the only one tonight, as Maven looked a little more buff than usual. This match was a sloppy, disorganized mess, and with no announcers it was even worse. A lot of long submission maneuvers kill the middle portion of this match, but it gets some points for the King’s comebacks. Hassan predictably wins and it’s done. We can immediately see that he’s nothing special in the ring. Grade: .5
Justin: One of the most controversial characters of the decade makes his debut here. Muhammad Hassan was an interesting wrestler with a unique perspective on the world. He had great mic skills and was passable enough in the ring. He really had a chance to be a different type of foreign star but instead they made him the stereotypical Anti-American heel battling the patriotic faces that want him to love it or leave it. Jim Ross comes down with the King, leaving us with no commentary for this match. That was an awful experience and I wish they just had Coach come out to call the match or had Daivari and JR do commentary. Anything would have been better than the void we got instead. The in ring action, or lack thereof didn’t help things either as the match was basic, boring and bland. Hassan kicked things off by repeatedly bodyslamming Lawler over and over before hooking in a long camel clutch that King lasted way too long in. The crowd was hot when this match started, but they quickly died off as the match sputtered along. This really needed to be a quick squash to put Hassan over but instead we got a drawn out snorefest with Lawler lasting way too long. I though they made Hassan look weak here in his first televised match as it took him ten minutes to labor through defeating an aging Lawler. The lack of commentary hurt things too as the match was not nearly exciting enough to keep your attention without announcers selling it. Hassan’s in ring career is off to a shaky start but luckily his promo skills were strong enough to help turn things around. Grade: 1
*** Backstage, Randy Orton tries to convince Batista to turn his back on Triple H. Batista shrugs off the suggestion but makes it clear that he will take the title if he gets the chance. At ringside, Jonathan Coachman fills in for Jerry Lawler. ***
5) Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeats Gene Snitsky with a Tombstone at 11:45
Fun Fact: On 12/13, Snitsky was picking on Christy in the ring when Lita came out to save her. She said that Snitsky was not a real man because of the way he treats women. She then claimed that she spoke with Kane and that he was coming back and looking beat the hell out of Gene. Snitsky tried to follow after Lita, but flames shot up from the stage and blocked his path. The next week, Eric Bischoff informed Snitsky that he would be facing Kane at the PPV. On 1/3, Kane made his first appearance since Taboo Tuesday when he saved Lita from a Snitsky attack.
Scott: Now when this match was first booked, I thought “Wow, this match sucked at Taboo Tuesday with weapons, now they’re going to wrestle a straight match?” I was anticipating a big piece of crap here. First off, did the match have to be this long? Once again, just like in a couple of PPVs in 2004, the layout of this show was abysmal. You shouldn’t give two big guys like this who clearly have no chemistry this much time. The one thing that saved this match was the crowd that was so stoked to have a PPV in their country that they were controlling the ebbs and flows of the match. The workrate was pretty awful but the crowd kept the energy going. I hope this feud is over because we don’t need another match with these two after this one. Grade: 1
Justin: Kane makes his return for this Taboo Tuesday rematch. Snitsky has gotten a pretty good push over the last couple of months but it was time for him to face the music after crushing Kane’s throat in October. Kane used his usual power offense early but the crowd wasn’t quite into it after the last match destroyed their spirits. They would wake up a bit when Kane backdropped Snitsky onto the exposed floor in a nice spot. Snitsky would gain control and beat on Kane with a methodical hard-hitting assault. He was also a bit wild and unorthodox as he started biting Kane’s ear. Kane fought him off and quickly dropped him with a Tombstone out of nowhere for the win. The finish got a big pop but the match was just decent and it seems as if this feud has come to an end. Kane and Lita now seem united, as unlikely as it seems, and Kane finally gets his revenge on Snitsky. Grade: 1.5
*** Prior to the match, Batista tells Triple H that he lied to Randy Orton and that he isn’t out for the title, just to protect Hunter. Batista then clarifies that he will stick to that plan unless Hunter is eliminated first. ***
6) Triple H (Paul Levesque) defeats Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine), Randy Orton, Edge (Adam Copeland) and Batista in an Elimination Chamber to win World Heavyweight Championship at 34:57
Chris Jericho pins Edge with a Lionsault at 19:21
Batista pins Chris Benoit after spinebustering Jericho on top of him at 26:17
Batista pins Chris Jericho with a Batistabomb at 27:39
Randy Orton pins Batista with an RKO at 32:33
Triple H pins Randy Orton with a Pedigree at 34:57
Fun Fact: The 11/29 Raw opened with a battle royal to determine who would get a title match with Triple H later in the night. Chris Benoit and Edge were named co-winners when they both fell to the floor at the same time, leading to a Triple Threat main event per GM for the night Randy Orton. The match would end in controversy as Triple H was knocked out by an Orton chair shot, leaving Edge and Benoit alone in the ring. Benoit would hook the crossface but Edge rolled over on top of him. As the referee counted Benoit’s shoulders down, Edge also tapped at the same time. A pair of refs could not decide who was champion and we were left with an unannounced winner as the show went off the air. A week later, Mr. McMahon came out and declared the title vacant. It was also on this night that we saw some cracks starting to form in Evolution as Batista began speaking his mind at the Game. When Triple H was freaking out about losing his belt, Batista made it clear that he saved the day and ensured Benoit didn’t win the belt earlier in the match. Later in the show, Batista saved Hunter during a tag match but Hunter would accidentally drill him with a chair during a post match brawl. The Evolution theatrics continued on 12/13, as Batista showed up Hunter in a tag match and won the bout for them, foiling Hunter’s plan to impress Eric Bischoff. At the end of the show, Bischoff announced that the vacant title would be up for grabs in an Elimination Chamber. On 12/27, Bischoff announced a Beat the Clock concept where each Chamber competitor would wrestle unknown opponents. The wrestler to win their match in the shortest time would enter the Chamber last and if any of them lost, their opponent would get their Chamber slot. All the competitors won their matches, and five matches in, Batista held the record time, again angering his mentor. When Hunter bitched out Batista for setting such a low time, Batista told Hunter that he was pissing him off to a big pop. The show ended with another major announcement as Bischoff announced that Shawn Michaels would be the guest referee for the Chamber. On 1/3, Batista continued to show his cool demeanor when demanded that Hunter pay him $100 for a bet they had. When Hunter finally agreed to pay him, Batista coolly laughed it off and told Hunter to get a sense of humor. All of these small character traits and segments were really beginning to endear Batista to the fans, slowly making him a very over de facto face in the process.
Fun Fact II: There were rumors at the time that Triple H was looking to pad his World Title reigns in an attempt to catch Ric Flair’s record. Many assumed that those rumors were behind this convoluted championship-vacating angle that ended with Hunter regaining his belt just a few weeks after losing it.
Scott: The introductions take forever, but in this case I don’t mind. I loved the buildup to this match with so many intriguing subplots, including Edge and Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit maybe getting his last chance. But of course the big storyline is the burgeoning popularity of the Animal. Batista is slowly, very slowly gaining a following. We all know the inevitable confrontation with his mentor, The Game. He learned from Trips and from Ric Flair how to say a lot, while speaking very little through mannerisms, looks on his face, including the smirks. We could now see Batista was going to be a star, but for now he’s still loyal to Evolution. That’s what makes his rise a little better planned than Randy Orton’s rise. He gets a title shot at Summerslam, but nobody stops him. Triple H doesn’t get in his face or anything. He just wins and then gets stomped one month later at Unforgiven. Benoit and Jericho get busted open quickly, a marker of how stiff and violent this match is. You have seven top guys, HBK included, who know how to work a big main event match. Even Edge, who really has never been in one, worked his way around pretty well. Orton’s beatdown of Triple H when he first left his chamber is pretty sweet, a violent attack continuing the feud. The crowd goes bonkers after HBK knocks Edge’s head off and helps Jericho get the pin. The crowd is out of their skin when the clock strikes zero for Batista to get out and Mike Chioda is taking forever to unlock the chain. More violence follows, as pretty much everybody gets busted open and thrown into the chain link walls of hell. This chamber definitely passes the Summerslam 03 match and maybe even the Survivor Series 02 match, even with the heartfelt win for Shawn Michaels. But, let’s get back to Batista. We are seeing the full arsenal of his insane power moves, from spinebusters to the evil Demon Bomb. He crushes both Benoit and Jericho en route to easy wins. Then Evolution takes over when he and Triple H decimate Randy Orton. One power move after another and Orton keeps kicking out. You can tell that the starch is out of Orton’s face run, as his comebacks do nothing for the crowd. Then, the subtle, very subtle moment that puts everyone on Batista’s side. Orton hits a low blow and an RKO to the Animal. Orton goes for the cover, and Triple H is in the corner. He looks to get up to stop the cover, but then slinks right back down and lets the pin happen. It’s subtle, but it happened and we all knew it. Batista had no clue, in fact when it was down to Orton and Triple H; Batista drills Orton with a clothesline to help Hunter out. Triple H hits the Pedigree and The Game is the champ again. A tremendous match, the best Chamber so far and Hunter is on top. But the Animal’s push has been hatched. Grade: 5
Justin: Before we get into the match, I wanted to quickly comment on Batista’s sudden rise in popularity. In late 2004, Batista started to exude more confidence and was subtly beginning to take shots and making offhanded comments at his mentor, Triple H. As Batista continued to grow as a character, the fans slowly started to rally behind him. There were many fans that had tired of having Randy Orton shoved down their throats, and those fans gravitated to the suddenly cool Batista. Many were also fearful that the writers would ruin what Batista had built through subtly and slow storytelling, but they were smart here and let it slowly grow until it was ready to boil in the upcoming weeks. Now, we move onto the match itself. Shawn Michaels makes his return here as the special referee and it seemed like only a matter of time until he screwed Edge one way or another, despite Shawn vowing not to touch anyone unless he was touched first. Hunter gets a nice pop from the fans and that would continue throughout the match. Orton makes his way out, but he almost feels pushed aside and forgotten as Edge and Batista were being elevated. The crowd was really red hot for this match and with the vacated title on the line it really felt like a big match atmosphere. Benoit and Jericho kicked things off and it was a great choice, naturally, as they were super stiff to start and really set the tone for the match. Also adding to the atmosphere was the Puerto Rican crowd doing the chamber countdown in Spanish. Hunter came in next and dominated things for a bit as the match continued to be hard hitting and hard fought on all ends. Edge was fourth and was strong and calculating during his time in the ring, really starting to craft his heel persona. Both Benoit and Jericho hit gushers as they continued to hang on. Orton was fifth and focused on Hunter as he came in. In a funny spot, Benoit had Orton trapped in the crossface and Hunter leaned in and taunted Randy. Benoit got annoyed, broke the hold and hooked Hunter in the Sharpshooter to a big pop. The match really had a great flow and was flying by at a tremendous pace. As Edge was lining up a spear, his target dodged him and he took out Michaels by accident. Everyone in the arena knew what was coming and indeed when Michaels recovered, he drilled Edge with SCM and he was pinned to a big pop. Things looked bad for Hunter during a tremendous sequence that saw Benoit drop a headbutt from the top and then hook the crossface as Jericho locked him in the Walls as well. Just when all looked lost, Batista’s time came and he saved his boss. And then, the Batista monster build continued as he destroyed everyone in his path, leading to a tense face to face with Hunter. He would then deliver a vicious spinebuster to Benoit and followed that up by powerbombing Jericho onto the prone Benoit, leading to the Wolverine’s elimination. Batista would then crush Jericho with a powerbomb, knocking him out of the match as well. Things would finally slow down a bit when the match came down to Batista, Orton and Triple H. Orton was resilient and hung on but you could tell the fans weren’t as hot for him as they were Jericho, Benoit or Batista. Batista looked to put Orton away, but in a cool spot, Orton dropped down, nailed Batista with a low blow and dropped him with an RKO for the win. During that pin, however, came the subtle lynchpin of our eventual Wrestlemania main event. As Batista was being pinned, Hunter begin to get up in the corner but stopped and crumbled back down instead of saving his protégé, the man that had saved him on many occasions prior to this moment. Oh, and saved him again right after as Orton drops Hunter with an RKO. Hunter would fight back, drop Orton with a Pedigree and survived the war to reclaim his belt. Hunter’s win felt a bit played out, but it was needed for the upcoming Wrestlemania angle. This was just a great match that told a really good story and featured seven pros doing what they do best. They all worked hard and the crowd was hot for it. I also want to mention how great Jim Ross was in the match as he dug deep and delivered a classic JR performance. The match was on the verge of perfection, but that final segment leading into the finish slowed things up a bit too much. Still, this is a classic Chamber war and a must see if you haven’t seen it before. Grade: 4.5
Scott: Overall this is an average show. Average because the undercard is pretty bad, but the main event was the best we’ve seen in months. Of course they go hand in hand because due to having seven main eventers in the last match, the roster was stripped down to nothing for the main event. Abut, Maven in an IC title match? Please. We have two knee injuries as Eugene and Lita go out. The first PPV of 2005 feels different. First off, everybody is jacked. The needle must have been passed around backstage because everybody from Maven to Hassan to Snitsky needed zit cream to cover the “bacne”, or in Hassan’s case, chestne. Plus you can see the growth of the new guys, particularly Batista, who got the job done for the Game and the crowd was all over it. Unfortunately I can’t grade this show simply based on the main event. The undercard was horrendous and it takes a good chunk out of the awesome main event. Final Grade: C+
Justin: Here we are with a new year and a new PPV in a new location. It brings with it a fresh feel for Raw as some new faces were in different spots on the card. As different as things felt, we are again stuck with an undercard that didn’t quite deliver like it should have. The timing of this show was odd, but I am sure the flurry of injuries early threw things off a bit. This show reminds me of some PPVs from the late 90s where a tremendous main event totally saved a shaky under card. Unfortunately, this show was three hours, as opposed to many of the two-hour shows that fit that formula back then. As a quick aside, I feel that 2005 is really the peak of steroid use and abuse in WWE, harkening back to the 80s in many ways. More than a few guys here were completely ripped and covered in acne. Things will only get worse as the year goes on and doesn’t subside until tragedy strikes in eleven months. For now, everyone is juiced, locked and loaded. Triple H is back on top of the Raw mountain and the only question that remained was which of his protégés would receive the title match at Wrestlemania. The bookers seemed to favor Randy Orton while the fanbase was championing Batista. Time will tell which side will win out. The main event carries the show completely, and it was great enough to bump the grade from awful to average. Final Grade: C
MVP: Elimination Chamber
Runner Up: Shelton Benjamin
Non MVP: Muhammad Hassan & Jerry Lawler
Runner Up: Eugene & Lita