WWE Backlash 2005 5/1/2005

May 1, 2005
Verizon Wireless Arena
Manchester, NH
Attendance: 14,000
Buy Rate: .53
Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Dark Match

1) Tyson Tomko (Travis Tomko) defeats Val Venis (Sean Morley)

Pay Per View

Fun Fact: This is WWE’s debut event in the state of New Hampshire, making it the 34th different state (as of May 2005) that has hosted a PPV event, as well as in 3 other countries (Canada, England and Puerto Rico).

1) Shelton Benjamin defeats Chris Jericho (Chris Irvine) to retain WWE Intercontinental Title with a roll-up at 14:29

Fun Fact: On 4/4, Shelton Benjamin successfully defended his title against Chris Jericho and Christian by pinning Jericho. A week later, Jericho brought Benjamin onto his Highlight Reel talk show. Jericho claimed that he had been in a funk since Taboo Tuesday. Jericho told him that he wanted his belt back and Shelton said he had his chance the week before and blew it and that another match would bring the same result. A brawl then broke out, spilled to the floor and was broken up by officials. Playing some mind games a week later, Jericho came out and sang a track off Fozzy’s latest album during Benjamin’s match with Simon Dean. Shelton won the match and Jericho applauded him from the aisle. The two had one more confrontation a week later that ended in a Benjamin exploder suplex.

Once again the booking team picked the right match to start this show off. Just like at Wrestlemania, we start with two athletic risk takers going back and forth for a championship. Shelton has been red hot as IC Champ and management must be pleased since he’s been holding the title since October without any signs of someone taking him out. In the early moments I noticed that Shelton splashed Jericho in the corner, and JR called it a “Stinger Splash.” That’s odd. I don’t remember if Sting was in TNA at this point so maybe they were trying to butter him up to come up to Stamford. Benjamin hit a sweet superplex by hitting a single leap up to the top rope and hitting it. Shelton actually worked Y2J over pretty well for most of this match. Jericho was in limbo during this time, but that would change soon after this. Clearly the bookers were looking for a great match opener instead of a typical face/heel match and giving Shelton someone like Christian in this slot. You also can’t leave Jericho out, and I guess at the time this was clearly a better matchup. We saw Shelton/Christian at Survivor Series and it was a good match, but not to the level of this. Both guys eventually go move for move but it was Benjamin who was really hitting the more impressive of the maneuvers including a springboard bulldog that hit perfectly. The Champ hit the T-Bone but Jericho’s feet were under the ropes. Jericho then would duck an Enziguri and ratchet the Walls up, and I thought he’d get his win back from Taboo Tuesday and Shelton would tap out. However, Shelton would go to the ropes and break the hold. Jericho during this point would start to show some of his old heel ways with facial expressions and sniping to referee Jack Doan. Shelton would hit a sweet roll-up after reversing another Walls attempt to retain the title. This was a super match that gets the show off to a hot start. Grade: 3.5

Justin: Our show opens with a hot rematch from Taboo Tuesday as Jericho was looking to get back on the winning track by regaining his IC title. He gets a huge pop for his entrance but the crowd was pretty balanced throughout this one. The match opened with a nice blend of mat based wrestling from both men mixed in with some amped up athleticism from Shelton. Jericho would heel it up a bit as he took over and it was good to see him acting that way again. He also was a ball of energy throughout matching Shelton’s pace in this non-stop bout. Jericho was aggressive on offense, even busting out a nice hurricanrana to the floor at one point. Shelton fought his way back and got a huge pop when he leapt to the top rope and sent Jericho flying to the mat with a superplex. These guys really had good chemistry as they flashed some fluid counters and battled back and forth, adding to the hot pace. Shelton scored to great near falls on a springboard bulldog and a T-Bone suplex but Jericho stayed alive. Benjamin would pick up the win in a good finish to cap off what was a tremendous opening match. It was a great showing by Benjamin and another big win for him. Jericho hung right in there with him and things never slowed down. The commentary was good here too, with JR and King putting both men over nicely. Benjamin and Jericho get the crowd hot and fired up and they wouldn’t really quiet down for the rest of the night. Grade: 3.5

2) Hurricane (Gregory Helms) & Rosey (Matt Anoa’i) win Tag Team Turmoil match to win World Tag Team Titles

William Regal (Darren Matthews) & Tajiri defeat Heartthrobs at 3:09
William Regal & Tajiri defeat Simon Dean (Mike Bucci) & Maven (Maven Huffman) at 5:21
La Resistance defeat William Regal & Tajiri at 8:17
Hurricane & Rosey defeat La Resistance at 3:43

Fun Fact:
The Heartthrobs consisted of Antonio Thomas and Romeo Roselli. They began their careers in the Eastern Wrestling Alliance and OVW as the Heartbreakers before being called up to Raw and receiving a new name. They made their debuts on April 18 in a loss to William Regal and Tajiri. They would hang around on TV into early 2006 before being released in February. After being released they would hit the Indy scene, including a brief stop in TNA.

Fun Fact II:
Maven and Simon Dean had begun teaming early in 2005 as Maven bought into the Simon System way of living. They would remain a team until the WWE Draft would split them apart, sending Dean to Smackdown. Maven would be released in July, and would bounce around the Reality TV and Indy wrestling worlds. He would also hook up with the Home Shopping Network as their fitness guru for various segments. Maven’s final PPV record is 2-5.

Fun Fact III:
This is La Resistance’s final PPV outing as a team. Shortly after the show, they began wrestling solo, trying to one up the other. In early June, things boiled over and they faced off on an episode of Sunday Night Heat, which Conway won. Grenier was then drafted to Smackdown, officially ending the team. Conway will appear on PPV again in a standard match, but Sylvan would have one last Royal Rumble appearance in 2006 and that is it for PPV. Sylvan would get a few makeovers and would actually hang around on Smackdown and ECW through August 2007, which is when he was finally released. After leaving WWE, he would work the Indy scene, dabble in bodybuilding and bouncing and also open a wrestling school. La Resistance’s final PPV record is 5-6.

Fun Fact IV:
Tajiri and William Regal defeated La Resistance to win the World Tag Team Titles on the 2/4 Raw from Japan. La Res had regained their titles on 1/16.

I always liked multi-tag matches because with the right combinations it could lead to some real fun action in the ring. Sure we won’t see matches like the 1987 or 1988 Survivor Series tag matches but matches like those can still be exciting if put together properly. Having said that, this first team in the match isn’t in that class. This Heartthrob team is a pair of jokers with pink boas and dumb entrance music. They’re only in this match because they are on Raw and at the bottom of the tag team food chain. The champions, the unlikely put-together team of Regal and Tajiri take care of these clowns in short order. The Champs then face another hilarious combo: Simon Dean, the former Hollywood Nova, and the pretty much-forgotten Maven. His ridiculously bad performance at New Year’s Revolution pretty much buried any chance he had of having a future in the company. Amazing that is been over three years since he dropkicked the Undertaker out of the 2002 Royal Rumble. They get taken out and the Champs finally face a team with some credibility: the former champions, Grenier and Conway. La Res had been on the shelf since Grenier was rehabbing an injury. However watching them, even they looked confused on what to do. Even so, they get a cheap pin and knock Regal & Tajiri out of the match. From here I thought that La Res, who were the bookers favorites in 2003 and 2004, was going to regain their titles against this next misfit team of Hurricane and the S.H.I.T. come out of nowhere and get the Manchester crowd on their feet with an upset win. So of the five teams, three of them were singles guys thrown together, and one was a team making their PPV debut. A fun ending but overall it was a boring, underwhelming affair with slapped together teams and no cohesion. Grade: 2

Justin: After winning the titles in Japan, William Regal and Tajiri have taken the Raw tag division by storm. The crowd was into them here and it looked like they were going to steamroll through the match as they were dominant early. Tajiri was crisp in the ring and the opening showdown with the Heartthrobs was basic stuff. The Heartthrobs were nothing more than comedy fodder used to fill out the division and matches like this. They bow out quickly and the champs move onto Simon Dean and Maven, who I thought were an entertaining duo. Unfortunately their run pretty much ended after this as Maven was sent packing and Dean was moved to Smackdown. They had some sold heel team chemistry here but were dominated by the champs. Just when it looked like they would leave as champs, La Res comes out and steals a win, getting revenge for their February loss. The champs disappear into the background as Hurricane and Rosey made their way out for the final segment. La Res was working hard and using some pretty stiff offense and Hurricane was bumping all over for them. I will say I really liked La Res, especially by late 2003 when they really started to gel and get their shtick down. The crowd was pretty hot for the new champs and it was a good win for two guys that had worked hard to get their characters over. The match has a whole was a bit bland but it moved along well enough and they got the belts switched, which was the main goal. Grade: 2

3) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Chris Benoit in a Last Man Standing match at 18:47

Fun Fact: On 4/4, Chris Benoit defeated Edge in a hard fought match. After the bout, Edge ran Benoit into the ring post and then bashed his injured arm with a chair. A week later, Edge would cost Benoit a match against Christian. On 4/18, Edge and Benoit wrestled again, but the match ended in a schmozz as the two men battled through the crowd and to the back. An angry Eric Bischoff would make this match for Backlash. The two would brawl again on 4/25, with Benoit coming out on top.

We now begin the long road to when Edge was going to cash in his MITB shot at a title. The unpredictability of all champions being vulnerable at any time made for pretty good TV at times. Here he takes on the guy who was a fingernail away at Wrestlemania from getting the briefcase himself. Edge was the current guy on the list of “mid-carders who paid their dues during the Attitude Era and now have their shot”. While Austin, Rock, Foley, etc were on top of card Edge would be the tag team legend and mid-card star in IC and US title feuds. He also was in that awesome feud in late-02 with Eddie Guerrero culminating in that no-DQ match on Smackdown. As for his opponent, Benoit floated around after losing the World Title at Summerslam and now is filling in feuds with other guys higher on the card than him. The fact that this was essentially a no-DQ match with two stiff guys who have been in some violent wars in the past, I was expecting some pretty good shots. One comes when Benoit planchas over the top rope and Edge pastes him in the head with a garbage can lid in mid-air. The only bad thing about LMS matches is that with all the long counts that go seven to eight seconds it takes away from pacing. So when booking it you must throw in some pretty vicious shots. Going back to Jericho/Triple H at Fully Loaded 2000, both participants usually do their best to get at least five-six big spots in apiece to make it memorable. When Edge pulled the ladder from under the ring, I knew a few big things were going to happen. Alas seconds after opening it in the ring, Benoit hits a German Suplex on it. The Wolverine would eventually try for the headbutt off the ladder but Edge would duck out of the way. Getting back to the pace, having a match with lulls in it is tough for a crowd too. Sure they spike when a big spot occurs but otherwise they’re waiting around for counts to be broken, particularly in the first ten minutes because common sense would tell you that a LMS match on PPV won’t be that short. Finally after two spears that didn’t finish it, Edge would take a brick out of the MITB case and puts the Wolverine out. I wasn’t expecting Edge to lose here so the result wasn’t a shock. Overall it was a pretty good match, not the best LMS in history, but entertaining. Grade: 3

Justin: Since the finish of MITB at Wrestlemania, these two studs have really developed a nice hate filled feud. This one starts off with some hard-hitting offense by both men. Before I get into the meat of the match, I wanted to quickly comment on the Matt Hardy taunts that were echoing through the arena, aimed at Edge. The groundswell to bring Matt back had begun and things would get worse as the spring rolled on. The two continued to brawl, ripping into each other with palpable hatred. One of the highlights came on the insane suicide dive that Scott mentioned above. Benoit once again sacrifices his body to really elevate the level of the match. Edge would continue to bring the violence with a stiff superplex onto the trashcan. Benoit would return the favor with a sick German suplex off a ladder. And playing off my point earlier, Benoit again sacrifices himself when he misses a crazed diving headbutt off the ladder. Despite that miss, Benoit looked strong here, forcing Edge to tap out to both the Sharpshooter and Crossface at different points in the match. Edge would bash Benoit with a brick and pick up the win to close out this strong brawl. I disagree with Scott here, as the match moved well and I didn’t think the counts really killed the flow at all. Edge picks up another big win with a creative finish. He has a push and a briefcase but the next month would bring Edge the final piece of his superstar package. Grade: 3.5

Fun Fact: Chris Masters was portrayed Chris Mordetzky, who had begun training for wrestling in California’s UPW at age sixteen. After suffering an injury, he took three years off to craft a WWE worthy physique in hopes of a job. The work paid off in 2003, as he was signed to a developmental deal in OVW. During his time there he crafted the Masterpiece gimmick, which he credits former star Matt Morgan for creating. Vignettes aired pumping up his debut, showing him posing and showing off his body. He made his in ring debut on 2/21, when he defeated Stevie Richards, breaking his nose in the process. Shortly after his debut, Masters debuted his Masterlock Challenge, where he would offer money to fans if they were able to break the hold.

*** Jerry Lawler brings out the Raw Divas to plug their upcoming magazine. As they do their thing, Chris Masters makes his way out to the ring. The Divas bail as Masters grabs a mic and offers $3,000 to anyone that can break his Masterlock full nelson. After he takes some shots at various fans, a muscular woman took the offer. Masters ragged on her with some man jokes and then easily took her out with the Masterlock. It was an effective and quick segment to help build more heat on Masters. ***

4) Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeats Viscera (Nelson Frazier) with a Chokeslam at 6:06

Fun Fact: On 4/4, Trish Stratus was set to wrestle Christy, but beat her down before the bell. She then turned to Lita and assaulted her injured knee. The next week, Kane looked to avenge his wife and began stalking Trish around the arena. Kane would meet up with Lita and told her that Trish was scared of him. Lita rewarded him with a kiss. On 4/18, Trish called Lita to the ring and apologized for everything that had happened and tried to make up. Lita didn’t buy it and called Trish a bitch. Kane then made his way out and grabbed Trish in a chokehold. As he was doing that, Viscera came down to the ring and wiped Kane out. Vis picked Trish up over his shoulder and walked off. Later that night, Vis reminded Trish that they were to go on a date now that he had helped her. Trish tried to back her way out of it, but Vis planted a kiss on her before she could. We would get highlights of the date the next week as Trish and Vis dined at a fancy restaurant. Vis spent the dinner not so subtly hinting that he wanted to get down with Trish, even revealing that he bought condoms before the date. Trish refused to give into the big man, telling him that he had to take out Kane before he would get any action.

Fun Fact II:
Following Wrestlemania, Trish began to be bothered by a herniated disc and it was decided that she needed to take time off to heal. Viscera takes her out here and should remain off TV until September, taking the Women’s Title to the sidelines with her.

After the long, drawn out LMS match and the boring Divas/Masters piece we have a quick power match of awful proportions. If the whole hook of the match was that Big Vis would get to bump uglies with Trish Stratus, wow that’s a stretch. This is a slow, plodding six-minute snorefest. It reminds me of those awful Mabel matches from 1995. Here I was thinking we were way past having to talk about or have visions of those matches. Kane kicks out of the Samoan Fat Splash and the Power Bomb, hits the Chokeslam and moves on. We will move on as well. Grade: 1

Justin: The Lita/Trish feud rolls on with a different dynamic. Lita had finally accepted her fate and began accepting her husband as an equal instead of a captor. After Trish assaulted Lita’s knee, her husband looked for revenge. This was a basic big man tussle but Kane showed some energy out there once again which was good to see. Just like the Edge match, the crowd was relentless with the Matt Hardy chants, this time targeting Lita. Lita had been dealing with the chants every week on Raw and they wouldn’t die down at all in the coming weeks. I thought Vis was solid enough here, hitting some impressive power moves. Lita gets a bit of revenge on the outside when she smacks Trish with her crutch. After a few near falls, Kane plants Vis with a chokeslam and picks up the win in a decent enough brawl. After the bout, Trish grabbed a mic and ripped into Vis for failing. Vis grabbed her and shook her violently with a crazy bearhug. He let her fall to the mat and then crushed her with a big splash to a big pop. The post match kerfuffle was intended to give Trish a reason to disappear for a bit while she recovered from a back injury. Kane notches a PPV win and all seems good in his relationship, but that would be very short lived. Grade: 1.5

5) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) & Hulk Hogan (Terry Bolea) defeat Muhammad Hassan (Mark Copani) & Khosrow Daivari (Shawn Daivari) when Hogan pins Hassan after a Michaels Superkick at 15:14

Fun Fact: On 4/4, Shawn Michaels limped down to the ring to address the fans and talk about his Wrestlemania classic the night before. As he was speaking, Muhammad Hassan and Daivari interrupted him. Hassan went on a rant about Americans embracing mediocrity and cheering for losers like Michaels and has-beens like Hulk Hogan. After being called a loser one too many times, Michaels smacked Hassan in the face. They brawled a bit, but Michaels couldn’t overcome the odds and Hassan locked him in the camel clutch and then Daivari kicked him in the head. On 4/11, Michaels was set to wrestle Hassan, but Hassan told Shawn that he had to beat Daivari to earn a match with him. Hassan would get involved and cost Michaels a win. Later that night, Michaels demanded a handicap match, but Bischoff told him he needed to find a partner and he would grant Shawn a tag match at the PPV. Shawn would make his way back to the ring, drop to his knees and ask Hulk Hogan to come back for one more match to help him wipe out Hassan and Daivari. Hassan and Michaels would face off a week later but Daivari interfered to cause a DQ. The assault continued after the bell, as Hassan hung Michaels over the top rope by wrapping a towel around his neck. Just as things were getting out of control, Hogan came charging to the ring to make the save. Hogan and Michaels would run Hassan and Daivari off and pose to close the segment. On 4/25, Hogan and Michaels cut a great promo as Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed them in a special segment. Hogan heard the “One More Match” chants at his HOF induction and said it was his dream to team with Shawn Michaels.

Fun Fact II:
After being “fired” from WWE in June 2003 over a payout dispute in his “Mr. America” phase, Hulk Hogan was offered a slot with the new Total Nonstop Action promotion, an extension of the National Wrestling Alliance. In fact, then NWA Champion Jeff Jarrett attacked Hogan at a press conference in Japan in October and bloodied him with a steel chair. Hogan was slated to face Jarrett for the NWA Title at their first three-hour PPV, Victory Road, slated for November 2004. However due to Hogan’s back & hip issues, he never signed with them, even though TNA still used the clip for a while after it happened. In the meantime Hogan’s family started shooting episodes of a new reality series, “Hogan Knows Best”, which would start in July. Camera crews would be in Los Angeles shooting Hogan’s HOF appearance and at Wrestlemania for an episode.

Wow the crowd went off the hook when everyone’s favorite red & yellow hero came down the ramp in Manchester. Yes, when I see Hogan in action, it does bring me back to 1985. It brings me back to my childhood. I loved waving the finger in my brother’s face when Hulkster had the big pump-up back then. The crowd, in the moment before the match here, made it feel like an extension of Wrestlemania. Of course with Hogan you were going to get long stretches of posturing, tests of strength and restholds but hell we saw that in 1985 too! Age never changes the formula; it just makes it more realistic. I think if we watch 85% of Hogan’s matches over the last thirty years, it probably goes exactly the same almost every time. Singles, tag, I don’t think it matters. Sure PPV main events may change, but regular TV matches have that same formula. He even chokes his opponents whether he’s a face or a heel. Michaels was about to Superkick Daivari and finish this quick but Hassan hits Shawn with a pipe for the “momentum changer”. Now we see if these two guys have any kind of pace dictating as they’ll pummel Michaels for quite a while. Shawn tries to make comebacks but the Arab-American villains keep the pressure on and away from our Orange hero’s corner. Hassan hooks up the Camel Clutch but unlike Wrestlemania, Shawn will not tap out. One thing I love about Hogan, even in 2005 he still uses those cheesy 1980’s gimmicks like slamming two guys’ heads together. Hilarious. We get the obligatory Hogan hulk-up, the Michaels Superkick and Hogan, who obviously must pick and choose his leg drops for fear of snapping his hip, gets the three count and our heroes of all time win the match. It was pretty cool seeing the top main eventer from 1985-1993 team with the top main eventer from 1993-1997 in a match. The crowd carried the formulaic action and we have a happy ending. Incidentally, did we really need to see that guy’s jiggly tattoo? I guess. Brother! Grade: 2.5

Justin: In a surprising turn of events Hulk Hogan makes his in ring return here alongside Shawn Michaels. He had been out of WWE since the summer of 2003 but the groundswell for another match began at his HOF induction and picked up steam after he wiped out Hassan and Daivari at Wrestlemania. Speaking of, they make their way out to some good heat here as Hassan had really been cutting some great promos on Raw leading into this match. Hogan gets a massive pop from the Manchester fans and al four men seemed energized by the hot crowd. We got a lot of stalling early, but the crowd ate it right up and continued to rock as Hogan worked all his usual spots. It was basic stuff, but Hogan and Michaels worked well as a team, tagging in and out and controlling the match. Hassan would turn the tide by using a lead pipe, drawing even more heat from this tremendous crowd. They would work over Shawn’s back in a nice heat segment but Shawn fought it off and hit the red-hot tag to Hogan. Hulk the rest of his spots; Shawn pasted Hassan with SCM and Hogan covered for the win. This was a total Saturday Night’s Main Event style tag but everything clicked and the crowd ate it all right up. It was cool seeing Hogan back for a nostalgia style match, but his year is far from over. Grade: 2.5

*** Christian heads to the ring, flanked by Tomko, and cuts a promo about being left off the PPV card. He also discusses the upcoming Draft and then cuts a funny rap on all the various main event stars. Christian came off as a star here and a promo like that worked just well at getting him over as winning a mid-card PPV match would. ***

6) Batista defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain World Heavyweight Title with a Batistabomb at 16:22

Fun Fact: The night after Wrestlemania, Triple H came out, sporting sunglasses and bandages but no belt, says Batista was good for one night, but he is great every night and that the World Title gravitates to greatness. The rematch is rock solid and will happen at Backlash. Later in the night Batista defeated Randy Orton and afterwards Triple H came to the ramp and the two stare each other down. On the 4/11 Raw, Triple H came out to run Batista down again and that Batista fears one thing: The Pedigree, and that the Pedigree is the truth. Down comes Hurricane & Rosey to cut him off and they have a handicap match, which Triple H wins. Later in the show Triple H tries to ambush Batista during an interview but he can’t hit the Pedigree. Before the show ends Triple H challenges Jim Ross to a match next week from Madison Square Garden. At the 4/18 Raw from MSG, JR upsets Triple H with help from Batista, one of the loudest moments in MSG history. Finally on the 4/25 Raw, Batista comes out to celebrate JR’s victory with the England crowd but as usual Triple H comes out to jaw with him. In the main event that night, Batista defeats Christian but Triple H comes out post-match and hits the Pedigree on Batista, standing over him as the show ends, six days before their title match.

Round Two. What has become one of my favorite feuds was stamped with a solid affair at Wrestlemania. Now we have the sequel and my question going in was: After a good, but not outstanding affair in LA, can they step up for the rematch? I enjoyed the early psychology of both men avoiding the other’s finishers. At first I thought the whole “Batista’s scared of the Pedigree” was pretty stupid. Then again, I probably would have bought a t-shirt that said, “The Pedigree is the Truth”. Alas they never made one. Now again the whole angle, or sub-angle, as they were already feuding, was somewhat transparent and unimaginative. Yet when the match began it did add a different feel to the match that the first one at Wrestlemania didn’t have. I liked it, as it had a more methodical feel to it. Triple H focused on Batista’s lower back and while it was slow, the pace never stopped. There was no long restholds or stalling. The pace never stopped even if at times it was slow. Triple H almost stole the match with a belt shot but the Animal kicked out. More Pedigree attempts, more Batista slip outs. Then, we have the obligatory ref bump as Batista pastes him with a forearm shot. It’s there that the H finally hits the Pedigree and would have had the three count, but the ref is on Dream Street. Batista would have been pinned like five times but it doesn’t happen. Jack Doan comes in to cover for the out-of-it Mike Chioda and the match continues. Triple H low-blows Doan and is getting maniacal about hitting the Pedigree. I’ve never seen a match booked like that with him before where hitting the Pedigree is like breathing. Eventually Batista hits his finisher and Chioda is finally up, counts three and the Animal gets the win. A slightly better match than at Wrestlemania as the psychology and the pacing was much better. Wow, only Goldberg has been able to beat Triple H in two main events this close together, and Triple H didn’t like him. Batista is the man on Raw. And Triple H may be out of opportunities. For good measure, Triple H throws Flair to the canvas, and Pedigrees Chioda in frustration. Grade: 3

Justin: As usual, we are given a Wrestlemania rematch to polish off Backlash. The psychology leading into this one was interesting, as they played up the lethal Pedigree and the Game started to get into Batista’s head a bit. Ric Flair gets his own entrance and then introduces Triple H. Batista gets a big pop for his entrance but as the match went on, the crowd actually splintered a bit and Hunter would pick up some cheers. Just like earlier, JR does another great job here of setting up the story and scene of the bout and he really put over the intriguing Pedigree angle. Flair would get involved early on, and Triple H pretty much controlled right out of the gate. He delivered a fairly impressive spinebuster on Batista, driving him through the security wall with it. Hunter would work the back as Flair snuck in some shrewd interference. Batista’s selling was really spot on here as were his comeback attempts, both of which kept the crowd into it. I liked the heat segment here as things never slowed down during it and Hunter was constantly moving and working the back. Batista recovered and went for a Batistabomb, but Hunter had the belt in his hand and bashed Batista in the head with it, leading to a good near fall. After a bunch of teases, Hunter finally drops Batista with the Pedigree, but it comes when the ref was out cold. A second ref would come in, but Batista was back on his feet by that point and Hunter had been screwed. That was a big moment and would lead to a good angle in the third match that was forthcoming, as Hunter hit the Pedigree but the unconscious ref cost him a win. Hunter would take his frustrations out on the replacement ref as he drilled him with a low blow. Batista would take Flair out for the second month in a row but he couldn’t put the Game away as we got a great back and forth desperation segment. Batista was finally able to drop Hunter with the Batistabomb and defeat his former mentor to retain his belt. This was a fun match and was much more active and lively than I remembered it being. Both guys worked hard and there were no slow spots. The crowd stayed hot and Batista picks up a solid defense as his title reign continues to roll on. Grade: 3

Final Analysis

Overall this show wasn’t bad, but wasn’t outstanding. We had a couple of real gems on the show in the IC Title match and the Last Man Standing match. The only real piece of crap was the Kane/Viscera mess. The main event was pretty solid, as Triple H and Batista found a way to have a second straight up wrestling match and make it completely different from their first match at Wrestlemania. The psychology is different and the pacing was different. The crowd wasn’t bad, and we can usually expect hot crowds from New Englanders. Overall the Raw product is pretty hot right now with Batista as the top commodity. Edge is hot, as is this new fangled Hogan/Michaels communion. We’re not sure how long they’d stay together but we’ll see. There’s really not much more to say. The show was pretty straight forward, very entertaining but nothing overly exciting. Final Grade: C+

Justin: Well, I must admit that this was a much better show than I remember it being. It was entertaining the whole way through, mainly thanks to the hard work of the wrestlers and the red-hot crowd. The card had a nice mix of everything as we got doses of athleticism, violence, nostalgia, character development and solid storytelling. Raw actually looked to be in good shape after Wrestlemania, but the Draft would be coming up and things get really shaken up by the time our next Raw show rolls around. For now, things are steady and solid and Raw picks up the pace from their first 2005 outing to bust their asses to deliver a fun above average PPV outing. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Shelton Benjamin & Chris Jericho
Runner Up: Edge & Chris Benoit
Non MVP: Kane & Viscera
Runner Up: William Regal & Tajiri

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