WWE Unforgiven 2005 9/18/2005

September 18, 2005
Ford Center
Oklahoma City, OK
Attendance: 8,000
Buy Rate: .56
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Jonathan Coachman


Fun Fact:
With this being Oklahoma’s debut PPV, it becomes the 35th different US state to host a WWE PPV. It’s also the second straight year that a state’s first PPV was Unforgiven. In 2004, the state of Oregon made its debut with Unforgiven in Portland.

Sunday Night Heat

1) Rob Conway defeats Tajiri in 3:44

Pay Per View

1) Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr) defeats Carlito (Carly Colon) to win WWE Intercontinental Championship with the Figure Four at 11:46

Fun Fact: This is Ric Flair’s first secondary singles title since defeating Konnan for the WCW United States Title on July 7, 1996 at Bash at the Beach.

Fun Fact II:
On 8/22, Ric Flair joined Carlito on his Cabana. They had an entertaining back and forth with Carlito telling Flair he had never lost his IC title let alone sixteen times, as Flair had done with his World titles, and Flair talking about Carlito’s father Carlos Colon. Carlito would spit his apple in Flair’s face, but Flair beat him down to end the segment. The next week, Flair saved Shawn Michaels from an attack by Carlito and Chris Masters, so Eric Bischoff set up a tag match between the two. Before the match could happen, a crew member brought Shawn over to a bloodied and assaulted Flair. Flair was eventually taken to a hospital but did return to help Michaels in what had been made into a handicap match. Flair would tag in but Masters quickly hooked him in the Masterlock and he quickly passed out, thanks to his loss of blood from earlier. On 9/5, Carlito admitted that he put Flair in the hospital and that brought an enraged Flair out to the Cabana looking for revenge. Flair beat Carlito all around the ring, tossed him to the floor and threw a bucket of apples at him. Finally, on 9/12 Carlito would assault Flair during a match with Masters and only relented when Michaels made the save.

Scott:
This is a very unique situation here as we see Ric Flair going for a singles title. Haven’t seen that very often since is 2001 return. Carlito’s on the run of his career here since coming to Raw and defeating Shelton Benjamin for the Intercontinental Title. With Triple H not around and Shawn Michaels already booked, Carlito needed an opponent with some sizzle to give this post-Summerslam show some sparkle. Things pretty much ret-conned the night after Summerslam with Shawn Michaels reestablishing himself as a face and some new feuds starting, including this one as Carlito needed some credibility himself with an opponent like the greatest wrestler alive. The Oklahoma City crowd is pretty stoked hosting their first PPV in the new Ford Center and was behind Flair the whole time. Carlito actually dominated the action for a good portion of this match. That’s important because Flair has helped Carlito along as well. We also have a great inside joke as Ric Flair, who usually gets bodyslammed off the top rope whenever he tries it, actually gets off a clothesline off the top rope and the crowd went crazy. Carlito then tries to pull the apple trick, but Flair cracks him with a right hand, then ratchets up the Figure Four and Carlito taps out. Flair is holding gold, like he always should. Just the vision of seeing Flair holding a championship belt makes everything right in the world. He then grabs the mike and thanks the OK-City crowd for their support and the party then begins. Flair does say that he regrets his best friend Triple H isn’t here to celebrate with him. He’ll be back soon enough, Natch. He then grabs some Oklahoma City cougars and let the party begin! The match itself isn’t bad, but it’s the moment that’s most remembered. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Ric Flair gets a big pop as he struts down the aisle to kick off our next Raw PPV outing. With Triple H on vacation, Natch has slowly been positioned as the respected veteran that was beloved by all. Carlito had been disrespecting him over the last few weeks, so they square off here with the IC belt on the line. Things get off to a slow start, with a stalemate and some stalling. The two would basically trade strikes back and forth for most of the match, with a few classic Ric Flair tricks mixed in throughout. Carlito would show some aggressiveness once he took over, really working on Flair’s shoulder. The crowd was really into Flair here, and they pop for the highlight of the match: Flair actually hitting a move off the top rope. Carlito would take a bit off his apple, but Flair smacked him and Carlito began choking, allowing Natch to take him down and hook on the Figure Four for the win. The match was technically fine, but a bit bland outside of the classic Flair spots. Still, it was a fun moment and cool to see Flair take home some gold for the first time in a while. Grade: 2

*** Throughout the rest of the show, we are shown clips of Flair partying in his limo with four ladies that he pulled out of the crowd. Highlights included Flair popping Viagra, emerging from the limo with his tights down and flopping to the ground at the end of it all. ***

2) Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) & Ashley (Massaro) defeats Torrie Wilson & Victoria (Lisa Marie Varon) when Stratus pinned Victoria with the Chick Kick at 7:05

Fun Fact: Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle were moved over to the Raw brand, and turned heel by attacking the 2005 Diva Search winner, Ashley Massaro on the 8/22 Raw. Ashley got some backup on the 9/12 Raw in the form of returning Women’s Champion Trish Stratus, who had been out since the splash she received from Viscera at Backlash. In reality she was recovering from a herniated disc in her back.

Fun Fact II:
Ashley Massaro was a model hailing from New York that had won Miss Hawaiian Tropic in 2002. In 2005, she was brought into compete in the Diva Search, which she ended up winning.

Fun Fact III: Vince’s Devils officially got going on the 8/22 Raw, when Candice and Torrie debuted on Raw and attacked Ashley. The next week they recruited Victoria to join them, solidifying their heel group, dedicated to Vince McMahon and named as a spoof on Charlie’s Angels.

Scott:
Here’s a strange switcheroo. Trish Stratus, who was a heel, returned and Torrie Wilson, always a face, is now a heel. I didn’t totally get the strategy there, but it must have been to help Ashley along as a wrestler. She won the 2005 Diva Search and was now under the wing of the Women’s Champion. Stratus was injured and not on camera for a while, and during that injury she kept the Women’s Title. We also didn’t have that many divas matches in the last few months on the Raw side because of that reason. The match had some decent action in it, mostly due to the return of the talented and energized Stratus. Victoria was there as the wrestling portion of “Vince’s Devils”, which consisted of Michelle, Wilson and Victoria. Stratus of course did most of the work and Ashley did a little of this and a little of that. Trish returns with a win and the Diva Search winner is 1-0 in her PPV career. Grade: 2

Justin: Trish Stratus finally makes her triumphant PPV return here after being on the sidelines since Backlash. She was brought back as a face, which made sense because you knew she would be super over after being gone for so long. Oh, and she was still super hot, so that too. Despite not having worked together in a while, Trish and Victoria’s chemistry was still there and their portion of this brief match was easily the highlight. Ashley did fine for her debut match and actually takes a nasty little bump to the floor. Victoria would carry the heat segment and the flow wasn’t that bad as the crowd rallied Trish. She would recover and take out Victoria with a Chick Kick to win the bout for her team. This was a solid Diva match with a pretty hot crowd. Trish is back on Raw and back on top of the Women’s division, where she rightly belongs. Grade: 1.5

3) Big Show (Paul Wight) defeats Snitsky with a chokeslam at 6:11

Fun Fact: As 2005 rolled along, it was revealed that Snitsky had a foot fetish. On 8/22, he attempted to lick Maria’s feet, but Big Show interjected and stuck his foot in the way to stop him. He told Snitsky to beat it and told Maria to be more careful. Later that night, Show defeated Snitsky by countout when Gene just left the ring. The next week, Show was battling two jobbers in a handicap match when Snitsky came out to start a fight. Snitsky was able to grab the ring bell and knock Show out cold with it. On 9/5, Snitsky was about to nail Matt Hardy with the bell as well, but Show made the save. Finally, on 9/12, Snitsky teamed with Edge to defeat Show and Hardy.

Scott: You knew when these two names are on the marquee that nothing good can come of it. Snitsky’s matches with Kane were sloppy and unfocused. This one was at least short, and with Big Show you don’t have to worry about workrate or pacing. Show is a big guy who bludgeons you, pure and simple. Snitsky was clearly on the juice here as his unwavering body acne, not bacne, since it was literally everywhere, indicated. That would change very soon. Snitsky gets a couple of chances to win this match including a back suplex. Big Show, who actually hits a nip-up, gets a workout here but in the end he hits the chokeslam and wins the match. To finish things off, Show grabs the ring bell and gives some retribution to Snitsky after Snitsky did it to Show three weeks earlier, precipitating this match. Grade: 2

Justin: The quick insta-feud was thrown together to help fill out the card and give these hosses something to do. Show gets off to a quick start but the match eventually turns into a basic big man slugfest. Show was pretty over here, surprisingly enough, considering he hadn’t been doing much of anything lately. Snitsky would hit an impressive back suplex, but Show would recover and drop a chokeslam for the nice win. This was actually better than I expected it to be and had a pretty good pace and build to it. After the bell, Show would get further revenge by clocking Snitsky with the ring bell. Show picks up another victory and moves along as always. Snitsky, well he is just there at this point. Grade: 1.5

4) Shelton Benjamin defeats Kerwin White (Chavo Guerrero) with the T-Bone Suplex at 8:06

Fun Fact: On June 30, Chavo Guerrero was traded to Raw at the tail end of the draft. Prior to leaving Smackdown, he was assaulted by the Mexicools. Upon arriving at Raw, Chavo denounced his Mexican and family heritage, embraced the lifestyle of a white American suburbanite and changed his name to Kerwin White. He began driving to the ring on a golf cart, dyed his hair blond, and was escorted to the ring by music that sounded like it was left over from some hidden Frank Sinatra album. As the weeks went along, Kerwin took some subtle jabs at African Americans, drawing the ire of Shelton Benjamin. On 9/5, Kerwin cost Shelton a match against Rob Conway. The next week, Kerwin and Shelton faced off in a match, which Shelton won by DQ after Kerwin cracked him with his golf club. The Kerwin White name was a rib on WWE director Kerwin Silfies.

Scott: I have to say, at the time the Kerwin White character was interesting. This milquetoast golfer with the Frank Sinatra-esque entrance theme is of course Chavo with dyed hair and a sweater vest. I love the announcing here as JR goes throughout the entire Guerrero lineage and how Chavo is crapping on it by changing his name and appearance, while King and Coach act confused and treat White as a completely different person. At one point we start listening to the Spanish announcers, and listening to them got me to thinking: When Hugo Savinovich and Carlos Cabrera are announcing, is one a heel and a face? Or do they just announce straight down the middle? The match itself is pretty good as both guys go back and forth with some solid action, and Chavo’s character doesn’t take away from the way he wrestles in the ring. The match did go back and forth until out of nowhere; after White tried to use the nine-iron again Shelton hits the T-Bone and wins the match. Don’t get used to the Kerwin White character, as in a month it will be gone, and not for good reasons. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Since being separated from his Uncle Eddie, Chavo had been floundering on Smackdown. So, he is moved to Mondays and given a new gimmick to try to get him going a bit. I liked this gimmick in a hokey sort of way and it was a throwback to the cheesy gimmicks of the 90s that I loved so much. From the golf cart to the music, I just love how they played the whole thing up. Kerwin was pretty jacked here as we are really reaching the WWE juice peak at this point. Shelton was aggressive in attacking Kerwin, but Kerwin would slow him up and work the knee a bit. I liked Kerwin’s mannerisms and facial expressions here too as Chavo was really embracing the gimmick. He would hit a really good superplex, but Shelton came back with his crisp offense and puts Kerwin down for good with a nice T-Bone suplex. The match was a bit bland and disappointing as I usually expect more from a Shelton PPV match, especially with someone as talented as Chavo. Unfortunately, this would be Kerwin’s only PPV appearance, as some terrible circumstances will bring a premature end to the gimmick during the fall. Grade: 1.5

5) Matt Hardy defeats Edge (Adam Copeland) in a steel cage match after a leg drop off the top of the cage at 21:33

Fun Fact: On 8/22, Matt Hardy was taking on Rob Conway when Edge interfered, took him down and kicked the steel steps into the back of his head. The next week, Matt and Edge competed in a wild match. Matt had promised that he would take Edge to hell with him and he tried to do just that as he gave Edge a Side Effect slam off the stage and down to the floor. Both men were barely moving as EMTs arrived and took them to the hospital. Two weeks later, Edge would pin Hardy in a tag match thanks to a Lita low blow.

Scott:
This is really the match everyone’s been waiting for. That appetizer at Summerslam was simply to put the names on the marquee for the second biggest show of the year. This is the match that will settle this feud. Unfortunately the sizzle’s kind of come off the steak in this feud by now, as things are over two months old now and I think at this point Lita and Edge aren’t even going out in real life anymore. However this setup is exactly what the show needed. With uncertainty in what the main event will bring, this match was needed to beef up the card a bit. Both men are going about it differently, and that’s great psychology. Matt Hardy wants to bludgeon and punish the guy who stole his girlfriend. Edge, who couldn’t care less, just wants to win the match and get out. Although for most of the match he essentially kicked Matt in the head about fifteen times. Clearly Edge had much more upside here so he was going to look better here even if Matt was booked to win. The bookers didn’t care whether Edge was the real-life asshole here. They’re all about the bottom line, and the bottom line is that Edge is the future World Champion, and Matt is a capable mid-carder. Edge could have won the match anytime he wanted, but eventually he also wanted to make a point that he is the better man than Hardy is all facets of life. There is a point that I like to make about the announcing. JR is still #1 in the world at play-by-play, but there’s times I can see how Vince and the higher-ups were tiring of him. During this match Matt hits a Side Effect on Edge, and JR doesn’t call it that. He simply calls it a takedown. Now that might be a minute point, but it does show how sometimes JR isn’t as crisp during big matches as he needs to be. Anyway, back to the match. Edge is eventually busted open, as Matt just throws him from one wall of the cage to the next. One great visual is Matt getting knocked off the top rope, and stuck between the cage and the ropes, Edge spears him into the cage. Then Lita gets into the cage to break a pinfall and try to hit her ex with the MITB briefcase. Matt stops her and hits a well-deserved Twist of Fate on her. Edge then hits a spear but Matt kicks out at 2 ¾. The violence amped up in the last eight minutes of this match, and Matt finishes Edge off in dramatic fashion, and taking a page from his brother Jeff’s book, hits a leg drop off the top of the cage for the win. It was clearly the match of the night. Grade: 3.5

Justin: Matt Hardy gets a warm reception from the fans as he stalks to the ring, looking to finally gain the upper hand in this blood feud. Edge knocked him silly at Summerslam to land the first blow but the two meet again here inside a steel cage, just like they did five years prior during the peak of their tag team runs. The early story here was basic: Matt wanted to destroy Edge; Edge wanted to escape and end things. The match was a high-energy slugfest to start. The offense by both men was pretty stiff, especially when Edge began to bludgeon Matt’s head, playing off of their Summerslam bout. Edge also hit a nice powerbomb on Matt, driving him into the cage with the move. As the match wore on and Edge punished Hardy more, it was clear that his goal went from survival to flat out embarrassing Hardy. Matt would come back with a hot flurry, busting Edge open, who drew some nice color. The longer the match went, the more emotional it felt and the hotter the crowd got. Matt got further revenge with some stiff kicks of his own and it looked like he was going to finally get a win, but Edge made a desperate comeback attempt, capped with a nice spear that drove Matt into the cage. Lita would end up getting into the cage, but Matt would finally get his hands on her and dropped her with a Twist of Fate to the delight of the crowd. And then, perhaps in homage to his brother, instead of escaping the cage, Matt ascended to the top and came flying off with a crazy legdrop to finally defeat his arch nemesis. The match was a great emotional war and a great blowoff as Matt took out Lita and then crushed Edge with a monster legdrop for the win. I really enjoyed the brawl and was happy to see Matt get a big win in this feud. Things would continue from here, but this would be Matt’s peak in the angle. Grade: 4

6) Lance Cade (Lance McNaught) & Trevor Murdoch (William Mueller) defeats Hurricane (Gregory Helms) & Rosey (Matt Anoa’i) to win World Tag Team Championships when Murdoch pins Hurricane after a clothesline at 7:40

Fun Fact: William Mueller began his career in the Missouri area where he also trained under the legendary Harley Race using the name Trevor Rhodes. In 2000, he changed his name to Stan Dupp and teamed with Bo Dupp, spending time in ECW, OVW and TNA. After splitting from Bo while in OVW, he began teaming Lance Cade and eventually signed a Developmental Deal in June 2005. By July he had inked a three-year deal with WWE and vignettes began airing pimping the impending debut of Cade & Murdoch, who was portrayed by Mueller. He was given the name Trevor Murdoch due to his resemblance to Dick Murdoch. Cade would portray a smooth talking cowboy while Murdoch played the role of an angry Southern redneck. Cade had been off TV since July 2004 rehabbing a knee injury and updating his persona. They made their WWE in ring debut on 9/5, defeating Hurricane and Rosey in a non-title match.

Fun Fact II:
This would be Rosey’s final PPV appearance. On the 10/10 RAW, Hurricane was assaulted by Kurt Angle all over the arena and in the ring. After Angle left, Rosey came out to console Hurricane, but Hurricane shoved him away, took his mask off and left ringside. On the 11/7 RAW, the newly rechristened Gregory Helms defeated Rosey. That would also be Rosey’s final TV appearance. He would reunite with Jamal in a winning effort at a house show in January and would float around until his release in March. He would wrestle in the indies before returning for the HOF ceremony before WrestleMania 23, inducting the Wild Samoans. He would make a brief return to the WWE in August of that year, wrestling a couple dark matches. He continues to wrestle to this day. His final record is 3-6.

Scott:
We have a put-together tag team against something that looks very old school. This Cade & Murdoch team is reminiscent of the old school NWA teams of the 1980s, teams like the Midnight Express and the Minnesota Wrecking Crew. You had one guy who’s good looking, does the talking and has the physique. His partner is ugly, chunky, but does a majority of the brawling and workrate in the ring. I have to say as I’m watching this show that the pace of this show is different. There are a lot of matches and the pacing has been pretty good. Even without guys like Triple H and Chris Jericho here the matches have been brisk. They haven’t all been great, but at least brisk. The match takes a turn when Murdoch DDT’s Hurricane onto the floor. It was looking pretty flush, ala Jake Roberts to Ricky Steamboat in 1986, and Hurricane is out. The match continues with Rosey doing most of the work, as the trainers come in and help Hurricane to the back. I’m not sure whether this was legit or not, but kudos to the other three guys in the ring to improvise and keep things going. When Hurricane starts heading back into the ring and fights with one arm after his left arm was injured, it probably wasn’t legit. Congrats to the new Tag champs, as its nice to have a actual tag team be the champs instead of two singles guys put together. Grade: 2

Justin: After bursting on the scene the previous week, Cade & Murdoch saddle up and hit the ring looking to win gold in their first PPV match. I liked their team concept and you could tell they had chemistry right from the start. Speaking of chemistry, Hurricane & Rosey had done a nice job of forging some for themselves. I disagree with Scott about their team as I think by this point they could be viewed as a legit unit and not just two guys tossed together. They had a unique concept and look and worked well together in the ring. Hurricane looked crisp early and the match got off to a fast start with some nice selling by Murdoch. In a funny spot, Murdoch wobbled over to Lillian and began to hit on her until Hurricane made the save. Murdoch would get the last laugh though, when he snapped off Hurricane with a hanging DDT to the floor as Hurricane was draped off the ring apron. Rosey would be left alone for a few minutes as Hurricane was attended to at ringside and eventually escorted up the ramp. However, Hurricane would shake it off and charge back to the ring to help his buddy. The challengers would take advantage of the injured Hurricane and quickly put him away to win the titles. After the hot opening, this was a pretty bland match but it was nice to see Cade & Murdoch take the titles in a pretty dominant fashion. Grade: 1

7) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Chris Masters (Chris Mordetzky) with Sweet Chin Music at 16:44

Fun Fact: On the 8/22 Raw, Shawn Michaels came out, put the Hogan match and feud in the past with some biting comebacks and looked to reestablish himself as a face. Chris Masters aided that quest when he strutted to the ring and asked Shawn when he was going to step aside and pass the torch to the younger stars. Shawn warned him to step off but Masters continued until Michaels attacked him and knocked him to the floor. A week later, Michaels teamed with Ric Flair but Masters and Carlito defeated them when Flair passed out in the Masterlock. On 9/5, Masters challenged Michaels to break his Masterlock in the ring. Michaels held on and almost broke the hold with a low blow. Masters shook that off and spiked Michaels to the mat and then blasted him with a chair, busting him open. Masters hoisted him back up and hooked the Masterlock on again to end the show. Masters would get the last laugh on 9/12, hooking Michaels in the Masterlock again after a match with Ric Flair.

Scott:
Fresh off his awesome mini heel turn and loss to…that other guy, Michaels is back in the fans good graces and ready to help another guy with a lot of muscles and not much talent. Well I shouldn’t compare Masters to Hogan. Hulk Hogan had talent, but age and ego took it away. Masters, well really never had any. However here he’ll get a chance to highlight the things he does do well. Masters is a big power guy obviously so the key is to showcase those moves and for Shawn to sell them expertly. One example was Masters having Shawn up in a Powerbomb stance, but instead of dropping him, he drives him into the steel post multiple times. I have to say I was impressed with the various power moves that Masters used, including the backbreakers and the Luger-esque Torture Rack. Michaels reverses it into a Sunset Flip, but then eats a big-time clothesline. This was another great effort by Shawn Michaels to put over a guy who could use some help. A few times Masters tried to put the Masterlock on, but Shawn would slide out of it, including a low blow that Jack Doan didn’t see. Michaels would make his usual comeback but when trying for Sweet Chin Music, Masters slides away and hits the Masterlock. Just like when he was in Kurt Angle’s Anklelock, he battles and battles until he slides over the ropes and makes Masters break it. Masters tries it again, but Michaels slips out and smacks old Sweet Chin Music and he survives the Masterpiece. This match actually reminds me of his match with Vader at Summerslam 1996. He took everything the bigger guy had to offer and escaped with the victory. This was a much better match than I thought as the big man/little man formula worked very well here, even with an inexperienced guy as the bigger man. Grade: 3

Justin: After a bizarre two months, Shawn Michaels is back to being a face and back to getting huge pops from the fans. This feud screamed old school and they delivered a match that fit the bill. Masters went for the Masterlock off the bell but Michaels eluded it and took control of the bout. I must say this was a pretty big spot for Masters. He was given a match before the main event against an icon like Michaels who was just coming off of a major feud with Hulk Hogan. Both men were aggressive; especially Michaels who tried to use a chair on Masters. Chris would avoid the chair and hoist Michaels up and run him into the ring post spine first multiple times in a nice looking spot. Masters was really focused in his assault, zeroing in on Shawn’s back with an array of power moves. Shawn’s selling was tremendous as always and I really enjoyed all the Masterlock attempts and the classic Torture Rack locked on by Masters. The crowd was really hot, rallying Shawn at the end, especially during a good series of reversals between the Masterlock and SCM. After battling for a couple of more minutes, Michaels would sneak in a stiff Superkick to pick up the win over the game Masters. This was a really fun old school battle that just told a simple story and had the crowd rocking thanks to basic psychology. Masters passes his first test in a major match and it will be interesting to see how he continues to develop. Shawn keeps rolling on as always. Grade: 3

8) Kurt Angle defeats John Cena by disqualification at 17:15; Cena retains WWE Championship

Fun Fact: On 8/22, John Cena defeated Chris Jericho in a Summerslam rematch, and as a result, Jericho was fired from Raw. After the bout ended, Angle jumped Cena and decimated him as Eric Bischoff, who was obsessed with getting the belt off Cena, announced that Angle was the next title contender. The two would have a good verbal duel the next week with Angle calling Cena a thug and intimated he wasn’t worthy of being champion. On 9/5, Angle quickly defeated Eugene but kept assaulting him, drawing Cena out. Cena would knock Angle to the floor, but when he turned around Tyson Tomko had entered the ring and kicked Cena’s head off. Cena would defeat Tomko later in the night, but Angle would again jump Cena and leave him laid out. The next week, Cena defeated Angle and Tomko in a handicap match, but Cena was again left looking at the lights. This time, however, Bischoff yelled at him while Angle had him pinned down. Bischoff vowed that Cena would not win while he was GM and that he would lose his title soon enough.

Scott:
With Jericho gone, and Triple H on hiatus, Angle was the clear choice to be John Cena’s next feud. Angle was clearly becoming more vicious with his character as the attacks and the sweet mouthpiece indicate. Just like his feud with Jericho and with our last match, Cena is the less schooled in the ring than his opponent. So Cena will use what he can and sell well. In his feud with JBL, Cena fit well with a power guy. However in the last two feuds with Jericho and now Angle, the two wrestlers sizes are equal and it comes down to pure talent and ability. No one can deny that John Cena doesn’t try hard, and that he is working hard to try and keep up with the more talented opponents, but unfortunately the males in the crowd know he doesn’t have the chops a Kurt Angle or Chris Jericho does. Whenever you hear the crowd cheer for Cena, the cheers are high-pitched. That of course means that the cheers come from kids and women. Cena does keep kicking out of the Anklelock and getting Angle frustrated. The pace of the match picked up in the last seven minutes and helps the grade. We have our ref bump and Cena had the match won with an FU. This is the moment where you think that Cena’s premiere title reign was finally coming to an end. Angle uses the gold medal as a weapon to hit Cena with, and then the Anklelock is on. The referee is still out cold, and out comes GM Eric Bischoff who taunts Cena with his title belt while he’s in the Anklelock. Cena reverses the move and Bischoff goes flying out of the ring. Cena grabs his title belt, and reminiscent of Batista’s DQ loss to JBL at the Great American Bash, the ref catches Cena hitting Angle with the belt and the champ gets DQ’d. Wow, such creative booking here. You had to steal the finish from a Smackdown PPV? That’s hideous. Sure a Cena DQ guarantees a second match, but still there must have been a better way to do this. Bischoff grabs the mic and almost had Cena lose the title anyway, but Cena FU’s him. Angle and Cena brawl afterwards, including Cena hitting an FU on the Spanish Table. Overall it wasn’t a bad match, pretty standard. Cena holds his title again, but a rematch is looming. Grade: 2.5

Justin: After being quite over with the fans since late 2003, John Cena officially enters a zone where his crowd reactions will be split down the middle. Here, the women and children scream in delight for him while the male fans root on the maniacal machinelike Angle. Cena’s ankle was heavily taped here as Angle had been mangling it the last few weeks on Raw. This was a pretty big dichotomy in styles but these two usually have solid chemistry and make it work. They stayed on the mat early, as the story was Cena attempting to avoid Angle’s grasp and staying away from the Anklelock. Angle was crisp and vicious with his dissecting offense as he tried to pick Cena apart. Cena came back with a strong flurry filled with his usual offense and mixed in with a few Anklelock escapes. The ref would get bumped, allowing Cena to pick up a visual pin of an FU. Angle would regain his bearings and drop a stiff knee on Cena’s ankle before finally hooking on the Anklelock. Bischoff would hit the ring to taunt Cena, but Cena would snap, grab the belt and deck Angle to draw the lame DQ. Bischoff would try to award Angle the belt regardless, but Cena slammed him with an FU. He would take out Angle afterwards too, but as Scott said the whole finish felt like a rip-off of the Bash two months earlier. This feud is not yet over and Bischoff would become even more crazed in getting the gold off Cena. This match was solid, but nothing spectacular or show saving. Grade: 2.5

Final Analysis:

Scott: This show was jammed with a lot of action and all of them had a little something in each of them. Ric Flair winning the IC Title was just a great visual and a great moment for someone like me, a lifelong fan of the Nature Boy. The women’s match wasn’t much but at least they’re all hot. Big Show took Snitsky out but that was a pretty big mess, but short. Shelton Benjamin gets a win over Kerwin Guerrero, but this whole feud, and the Kerwin character go out the window in the a couple of months. The Matt Hardy/Edge match was exactly as you would have expected: A personal bloody brawl that Matt rightfully won. We have new tag team champions as Cade & Murdoch go old school and take out the Superheroes. Shawn Michaels does what he does best: Make someone younger and inexperienced into a stud. Chris Masters will never look that good again. The main event is OK, as John Cena holds his own against the better Kurt Angle. It’s uncommon to see a Raw-PPV without Triple H in it, but as much as the main event ending was a carbon copy of the Batista/JBL match at GAB and used, the overall show wasn’t bad and the match combinations were solid and the crowd, virgins in the live PPV world, really brought the energy and kept the show hot throughout. The announcing went back and forth with some good moments and some not so good moments. We see a major announce change on future Raw episodes as this would be JR’s last Raw PPV for quite a while. I enjoyed the show, simply because the pacing was good and the crowd was hot. Final Grade: B-

Justin: As seems to be the theme for 2005, I have no idea where to go with the grade for this show. The crowd was shot and it was entertaining, but the matches on a whole didn’t really deliver. The Hardy/Edge war was great, mainly carried by emotion and crowd reaction. Masters and Michaels had a great old school battle and Flair turned back the clock fifteen years and was funny in his post match celebration. Other than those highlights, there wasn’t much else here. I was looking for the main event to help bump the show up a bit, but they come up a bit short of that goal, including the awful finish. The Bischoff/Cena dynamic was fine, even if it felt like a desperate rehash of the legendary Austin/McMahon feud. I feel like this show deserves to be rated lower than I am going to give it, but the crowd was so amped up and it made the show fly along and stay interesting. Raw seems freshened up thanks to the draft, but they need to keep bringing the heat and emotion like they did here. Final Grade: C+

MVP: Matt Hardy & Edge
Runner Up: Chris Masters & Shawn Michaels
Non MVP: Hurricane & Rosey
Runner Up: Carlito

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