Before we begin, a correction: Thanks to Jason and Derek Frost (no relation to Browns punter Derrick?) for filling me in on a Jim Ross line from two weeks ago. I thought I heard JR say he'd never seen Kane in a ladder match. In fact, he said he'd seen in him in one. And he's right, of course. Kane has only been in one televised WWE ladder match, and I can't recall any Isaac Yankem or Unibomb ladder matches. I gotta give the man the benefit of the doubt more often. Between that and missing some solid lines about Edge, I really sold JR's performance short. And I hate doing that. I humbly apologize.
If anything about Batista's post-turn push has got you down, read Randle's rant on the subject. Print it out and nail it to the top of your computer, and don't let petty complaints about the way he's been booked since his turn tarnish your opinion of DAVE himself.
Nute has an exhaustive breakdown of how to name your finisher. And how not to. Should be required reading in any federation's creative department.
P outdoes himself with a tale of the tape for every Heat match, including the time-honored "Deserving of a WWE Contract" category. Great stuff. Remember when Smackdown used to do that? Viscera gets a win, too.
Cook also has a tale of the tape pitting two franchise playas against each other, and a great take on who's still watching (and how Marty Jannetty might just help WWE realize who it's playing to).
Having been in central Florida for a week (I love you, ESPN), I returned on Saturday afternoon totally out of the loop. So I actually watched the Experience, and it actually seemed reasonably OK for that purpose. Todd even got some good one-liners in there. David Campbell has everything notable written up for your reading pleasure in the XP report.
Fried has Velocity. Let's petition WWE headquarters to get them to present a London/Akio Ironman match on Velocity! I'd watch.
Newton Gimmick - great pen - makes me wish I could see some AAA up here. Bat-Ref? Billy Gunn dances? A ridiculous mixed-tag match? Sold.
Csonka thinks TNA should be more proactive in taking advantage of the opportunities they get.
And you can talk about all of tonight's happenings as they happen in the live Raw thread in the forums.
I'm calling all the shots tonight, I'm like a loaded gun... so walk this way and let's get this party started.
411's WWE RAW REPORT - 03.20.05
We get the familiar TV-14-DLV-CC, intro video and picture of Eric Bischoff. PYRO! Move to his music! The Road to Wrestlemania continues tonight in Birmingham, Alabama! Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler are your hosts. We've got a hot crowd on hand for tonight.
Promised for Tonight:
- Batista vs Kane (Pick Your Poison II)
Match #1: Shawn Michaels vs Robert Conway (w/ Sylvain Grenier)
Shawn kicks things off tonight to a huge pop. We get highlights of the Rockers' reunion. Earlier today, Conway talked to JR, and said that he and Sylvain hold a grudge against the Rockers after last week. Shawn gets a headlock. Conway sends him into the ropes and gets a shoulderblock. He gets rights, a whip and an elbow. He stomps away. Another whip, but Shawn ducks a clothesline and baseball slides out. He yanks Conway out of the ring, blocks a right from Grenier and slugs him, and heads back in. He prances around. La Rés recovers on the outside, so Shawn runs the ropes and hits both evil Québécois with a tope. He heads out and puts Conway back in. Shawn chops Conway five times in the corner. Conway reverses a cross-corner whip, and Shawn flips out of the ring. Conway distracts Referee Earl Hebner, allowing Grenier to get a running shot to the head with the Québécois flag! Grenier puts Shawn back in, and Conway covers... for two. Conway puts Shawn back outside, and Shawn takes some time to recover, so let's go to an Ad Break! (2:52)
Ad Break ends (5:54)
Conway has a chinlock as we return. Shawn fights out of it to get to his feet, but Conway sends him into the ropes and tries to toss him... but Shawn skins the cat! Grenier tries to alert Conway to this, but he walks into two chops anyway. But Conway gets an inverted Stunner - wasn't that Orlando Jordan's finisher for a couple of weeks - his very special jawbreaker, for two. Conway keeps the offense coming with rights and chops, but Shawn turns it into a slugfest and wins it with some chops of his own. He runs the ropes and hits a forearm... and kips up! Manhattan drop! Three right hands! Conway runs into a backdrop. Grenier gets on the apron, but Shawn dumps him quickly and bodyslams Conway. He starts to head up top. He picks up the flag and dumps it, then goes up wtih the elbowdrop and hits it. And he has the crowd going ABSOLUTELY INSANE. Conway staggers into Sweet Chin Music, and Shawn covers for the win!
Winner: Shawn Michaels via pinfall (8:42)
I've been a fan of Conway's since he came up, so every time he gets a reasonably long singles match on Raw, I'm happy. And for a match that was supposed to keep Shawn hot going in to Wrestlemania, this delivered. It was reasonably even early, but when Shawn got the momentum going and got into a slugfest he had to win, it was over. Good stuff.
JR & King run down Kurt Angle's accomplishments, in the interest of equality, and then we get a video package about everything Kurt has done to prove that he's the best athlete in the world. Gold Medal with a broken neck? European, I/C and World Championships? Big wins in big matches? A devastating submission finisher? Yeah, that's good stuff. And we get some footage of Kurt beating up Shawn to finish it. A fantastic promo that puts Kurt's accomplishments in perspective and tops a lot of the stuff that WWE's done this year.
Backstage, Tajiri, William Regal, Christy & Lita walk to the ring. Christy says she's been working on her kicks all week. She offers a demonstration, but the tag champs decline. It's a six-person tag match - next!
We get the Basic Instinct Wrestlemania promo again.
JR & King officially announce that Sylvester Stallone will induct Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania, and plug The Contender.
Match #2: Christy Hemme (w/ Lita), William Regal & Tajiri vs Maven, Simon Dean & Molly Holly
So who's left for Heat duty this week? Heels all enter to Maven's music. Trish Stratus makes an appearance to scout her Wrestlemania adversary. Simon and Regal start. Simon gets a hammerlock, reversed by Regal, and he gets an armdrag for two. Regal gets a headlock, ot a front facelock, back to the headlock. Dean sends him into the ropes, but Regal shoulderblocks him for two. He gets his armdrag again and tags in Tajiri. They whip Dean. Regal gets a drop toe hold, and Tajiri follows with a baseball slide dropkick. Maven runs in and gets chopped and dumped. But Dean whips Tajiri into the ropes, and Maven trips him. Dean covers for two and tags in Maven. Maven gets some stomps and a chinlock. He follows with a necksnap and tags in Dean again. They get a double-team hiptoss, and both do some push-ups after. Dean covers for one. Dean gets a front facelock and gets some kneelifts to the head from that position. Tajiri fights up to his feet. Dean forearms him in the back to slow him down. Dean gets a cheap shot on Regal, but this gives Tajiri time to escape and tag Christy. Simon tags Molly. Christy ducks a clothesline. But Trish distracts her, and Molly gets a running forearm from behind and some stomps. But Christy shortarms a whip and hits a hard kick to the gut. Christy uses a series of kicks to the back of the knee, but Molly whips her into the corner and tries a spinebuster. But Christy sneaks out the back door with a sunset flip for two before Simon breaks it up. So Regal runs in and MURDERS Simon with his running kneelift, and Maven eats a baseball slide from Tajiri. Molly hits a scoop slam and heads up top. But Christy dodges the Molly Go Round and hits the dreaded stalling Twist of Fate. She covers and gets the three.
Winners: Christy Hemme, William Regal & Tajiri via pinfall (4:23)
Lita is proud. The faces celebrate. Trish is slightly disgusted by the result.
Backstage, Triple H is here. He glares at a man in a suit backstage and starts to pace toward somewhere.
We get a Stone Cold Stunner to lead up to his appearance in Piper's Pit: his performance as a nurse helping out Vince McMahon.
Time to play the game. Here's Triple H, and the Lemmy 'stache just keeps on growing. He makes his full entrance, but instead of going into the ring after the water spit, he heads back out to get a folding chair. He sets it up in the ring, puts the belt back over his shoulder, and gets the stick. And he sits down. Well, why not? It's comfortable. "You know, it never ceases to amaze me, how underappreciated I am." In spite of all the sacrifice he goes through to create a future for this business - all the work he did to take Orton and Batista from nothing and turn them into stars - it took a lot of work, but it was all to ensure a future. And with Ric Flair, he formed Evolution, the greatest force ever in this business. "Some might go so far as to say that we were unstoppable." That turned out to be untrue, because there was one thing that could stop Evolution: Evolution. Orton and Batista's jealousy and greed were all that stopped Evolution, leading to bad decisions that led to Evolution's demise. "Bad decisions always lead to demise. Ask Randy Orton. When Randy Orton was with Evolution, he was on top fo the world, right? He was the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in the history of the business, and then he made a bad decision: he turned on me. And now, here it is, eight months later, and Randy Orton is grovelling for the scraps of Wrestlemania - Randy Orton is grovelling just to lay his head down on the chopping block for the Undertaker to lop it off. Why? Why? To make himself a name. To try to make himself a star. When Randy Orton was in Evolution, he grovelled for nothing. When Randy Orton was in Evolution, he had a name. When Randy Orton was in Evolution, he was a star. Just like Batista.
"You see, Batista was a big star that went to the Royal Rumble and won it, and then made a bad decision to turn on me. He coulda made a good decision - he could've gome to Smackdown, and I guarantee you this: Batista, I guarantee you - you could've beaten JBL, you could've beaten Cena, hell - you're good enough to beat 'em both at the same time. But instead, you chose to stay here and face me at Wrestlemania for the World Heavyweight Championship." [Pop.] HHH gets up off his chair. "And you will lose. Plain and simple, Dave, because you're not good enough. I don't even know, first of all, I don't even know why the hell you would think that you were good enough to even be at my level, why, becuase you won the Royal Rumble, huh? Because you went to Wrestlemania one time? Hell, you weren't even at Wrestlemania long enough to get a cup of coffee. I've been the World Heavyweight Champion, Dave, 10 times. I AM THE GREATEST WRESTLER ALIVE TODAY." At this point the lights dim to make it abundantly clear that HHH is performing a monologue. Mood lighting is great. "Now, I know in this day and age that this gets said a lot. Everybody wants to lay claim, right? They're the greatest, they're the best, they're the icon - the best one I've heard lately is 'I'm a wrestling god.' That is a joke. Face facts, people, you know it's the truth - there's one guy that makes it all go around. There's only one guy that in this business is considered to be the best. There is ONE DIAMOND and you're looking at him. The most decorated athlete in the history of this business! I have won it all! And I have beaten them all." He sits down again. "And there was one little asterisk on that win column, and if that was your big plan to derail me, Batista, then that was another bad decision. Because last week you had me face the guy that I 'could not beat,' Chris Benoit, and you can now add Chris Benoit's name to the list of people that have fallen before me. Dave, you are making bad decisions.
"Let me tell you how you make a good decision: When you wanna make a good decision, what you do is... you have a guy face somebody like the Big Red Machine, Kane. Right here tonight, it will be Kane and Batista, one on one. But not just any match, no - that's where the decsions come in. See, I made another decision, and my decision is that the match tonight will be a... lumberjack match. A lumberjack match in which the lumberjacks will be hand-picked by me. And anything goes. That is how you make decisions.
"You see, Batista, you were like a brother to me. And when you turned on me, you broke my heart. You crushed me inside. I was devastated, and I was very angry. But Dave, I'm over it now. And I'm ready to make the difficult decision that needs to be made. When you have an animal, when it's your pet and you raise it, you nurture it, you feed it to become what it can become, and it turns around and bites the hand that feeds it, then it's time to make a difficult decision. And there will be no Supreme Court decision to stop it; there will be no act of Congress to stop it. I will pull the plug. There will be no life support! At Wrestlemania 21, Batista, I will not hesitate. There will be no remorse. There will be no regrets. I will put... the animal... down."
He puts the mic on his chair and heads out. Maybe it dragged on a bit, but I found this great. I just wish JR & King would help to point out why a bit more often.
- Chris Jericho & Shelton Benjamin vs Christian & Edge
- Christian vs Edge vs Chris Benoit vs Shelton Benjamin vs Chris Jericho vs Kane (Ladder Match for a title shot in the next year)
Match #3: Chris Jericho and Shelton Benjamin vs Christian (w/ Tyson Tomko) and Edge
Christian and Jericho start. Jericho wants a lockup, but Christian ducks and tries a go-behind. Jericho gets a hammerlock and a headlock out of it. Christian sends him into the ropes. Christian ducks under something, but Jericho gets two shoulderblocks and covers for two. Jericho uses a forearm, but Christian reverses a whip. Edge catches Jericho in a full nelson and Christian charges, but Jericho dodges and Edge gets hit. The heels argue on the outside, so Chris Jericho baseball slides them. And now Shelton comes flying out with a SPECTACULAR tope to knock out all the heels. Back in, Jericho gets a back suplex on Edge and tags Shelton. Shelton gets a whip and a back elbow. Shelton tries the 10-punch combo in the corner, and makes it to 4 before Tomko distracts Referee Chad Patton (I think I can finally tell him and Jack Doan apart now) and Christian knocks him off. Christian tags in and gets a series of kicks. He gets a slap to the chest against the ropes, followed by a neckbreaker. He covers for two. Christian goes to a chinlock. Christian runs the ropes and hits a running kneelift. He taunts Jericho, prompting him to distract Patton, allowing the heels to get a double-team in the evil corner. Edge tags in and hits a dropkick for two. Christian tags in. Shelton fights his way up with punches and gets a running inverted neckbreaker. It's a double-KO. Jericho tags in; Edge doesn't. Christian runs the ropes into a leg lariat. Back elbow for Christian. Jericho hits both heels with a running bulldog. Christian gets hit with the Lionsault, and Edge walks into a double-leg takedown. He tries the Walls, broke up by Christian, so Jericho Lionsaults Edge instead. But Christian gets an inverted DDT and sneaks out. So let's go to an Ad Break! (5:29) Good, fast-paced match so far...
Ad Break ends (8:33)
Edge tags in, and HOT TAG SHELTON. Punches for Edge. He floors Christian. Whip and a backdrop for Edge. Whip and a backdrop for Shelton. Shelton whips Edge and gets a powerslam for two. Christian attacks from behind and the heels double-whip Shelton into the corner, and Edge kneels for Poetry in Motion, but Shelton runs out of that with a leapfrogging cross body to Christian!! AWESOME. He clotheslines Edge for two. Jericho runs in, and the heels try to double-suplex him, but Jericho lands on his feet and hits a double-neckbreaker! Jericho clotheslines Christian out. He tries the springboard dropkick, but Christian dodges, and Tomko strikes with a boot to the midsection to cancel Jericho out. So it's Shelton and Edge inside. Shelton ducks a clothesline and tries the Exploder, but Edge fights it. Christian runs in, but Shelton notices and flapjacks him. He gets the Stinger splash on Christian in the corner! Edge charges with the spear, but Shelton kicks him and lines him up for the Stinger splash. But Christian hops onto the apron with a beltshot! Shelton staggers back... right into the SPEAR! Edge covers. One... two... THREE!!
Winners: Edge & Christian via pinfall (10:56)
Christian wins! Christian wins! This was a heck of a fun match, with fast and furious action, loads of cool spots, and a solid finish that may hint at Edge and Christian working together and set up a few nice internal storylines in the match.
Post-match, Edge beats on Jericho, and Christian beats on Shelton, as Tomko watches on. But wait! It's Chris Benoit to unload the running chops for Christian and Tomko! German for Edge! German for Christian! Chops for Edge! But here's Tomko with the ladder... and he nails Benoit with it in the knee, then in the back! Ow. Tomko barks something at Benoit and leaves. He helps Christian up, and they yell something at Benoit. Edge looks on. Benoit is dead. Christian heads backstage, but Tomko stands still and snickers, primarily at Benoit.
Backstage, lots of heels are in a room. Ric Flair wants them all to feel good about supporting HHH as lumberjacks in his anything-goes lumberjack match. "Batista is the one that screwed you guys! He screwed you, you, he screwed you - by not going to Smackdown!" That means NONE of those guys got the shot they could've had, so tonight is their own little Wrestlemania. Not only because of their chance to get their hands on Batista, but because Evolution is scouting! It's going from JC Penney to Armani! Wine, women, limousines, long limousines, private jets... and all the heels are salivating. "One of you, please step up!" Everyone's excited. Even Hassan is a bit pumped.
Batista is backstage. Eric Bischoff walks in. Bischoff tells him he knew anything about this lumberjack match business. Dave nods and understands. Bischoff was shocked, just like everyone else. "And to top it all off, Ric Flair's out there firing up all these hand-picked lumberjacks. Batista, do you understand what it means to be a marked man?" Batista doesn't, but he will after he beats HHH to become the World Heavyweight Champion. Pop. Bischoff will be very proud of Batista if he wins. Batista nods. "Really?" Affirmative. "Thank you man. That's really heartfelt. I appreciate that. Thank you very mucuh. Have you ever thought about running for office?" Bischoff says that he has, actually, been thinking about running for mayor in his small Arizona town. Batista tells Bischoff that - he can take this however he wants - he'd make a great politician. Batista walks off, and Bischoff is pleased with the compliment. So Batista heads back in and pats Bischoff on the back. "Better yet, Eric - used car salesman." BURN! HUGE pop for that line. Now Batista walks off.
Backstage, Randy Orton & Stacy Keibler are hanging out. Stacy asks Orton whether he's REALLY sure he wants to do whatever he wants to do next. He asks her whether she thinks he can beat the Undertaker. "Um, yeah... of course." He says that he has a surprise for UT, in a box he's carrying, and asks whether she's going to come out to the ring with him. She is reluctant, but decides to go along.
Smackdown Rebound: Undertaker, being smart, sees Orton's slap coming a mile away before the show even starts and loads up the paranormal effects to freak him out just like every opponent before him.
Randy Orton & Stacy Keibler head out, and Randy gets a strong face reaction. Like, big-time. Stacy carries his white box out. Orton wants to make one thing perfectly clear. Last week on Smackdown when he slapped Undertaker, it wasn't out of disrespect: it was to prove a point, that he's not intimidated, he won't back down, and he refuses to be afraid. Despite what happened after the contract signing, my confidence is at an all-time high. See for yourself.
In the box is a Randy Orton Legend Killer T-shirt, and on the back is a long, long list of all his legend victims. But if you look close, there is one major addition: the Undertaker, 4/3/05. "Now Undertaker, obviously I don't plan on being a victim on your long list of victims destroyed. But I do plan on you being a victim on my list. Now come Wrestlemania, I'm gonna do whatever it takes, okay? Because I was meant to do it, I was meant to end your winning streak at Wrestlemania." There's some nonsense in between here. ... "If you think for one second - if you think for one second that I am gonna fall victim like your other victims, think again."
We get a Randy Orton video package of all his accomplishments. These are great. "Greatness has entered the ring!" Come on, heel turn right here...
"Now Undertaker, with all due respect, in two weeks, your streak and your legend will be just like you. DEAD."
He faces the camera. "Now that's something I had to say out loud for a long time, that's something that I've needed to say. And now that I'm here, and now that we're both here, Stacy, there's something that I've been wanting to do for a very long time." Smooth! He holds her hand and looks at her. He advances for a kiss... and does it. "Obviously, I - I thrive on positive energy. And that is just why I won't listen to all the critics. I won't listen to all the negativity. I have a message for everybody that thinks the Undertaker's gonna defeat me. I have a message - I have a message for everybody that thinks that I'm gonna be a victim of the Undertaker's. And that message is simply this..."
RKO to Stacy!
And we cut quickly to an Ad Break..
Classic Hulk Hogan Moment: Hulk beats Randy Savage at Wrestlemania V
Match #4: Tyson Tomko vs Chris Benoit
We get highlights of Tomko's rampage after the tag match tonight. Benoit is taped up from the ladder beatdown. Tomko boots Benoit out of the ring on his way in, but Benoit gets the three Germans out of nowhere. Snot rocket! Benoit heads up with the headbutt and hits it, but kills his ribs in the process. He's slow to cover and can't hook the leg, and he only gets two. He tries another German, but Tomko gets to the ropes and elbows him off, then hits the Problem Solver boot for two as Benoit gets his foot on the ropes. Mounted punches from Tomko follow. Tomko uses a blatant choke and lines up another boot. But Benoit ducks... CROSSFACE! "Vigilant" Mike Chioda gets in Tomko's face, and Tomko can't stand that for long. He taps.
Winner: Chris Benoit via submission (2:08)
JR puts over Benoit's ability to win in desperate circumstances..
Backstage, Shawn Michaels is confronted by Muhammad Hasasn, who informs him that they have a lot in common. They've both faced a lot of adversity. In fact, Shawn knows nothing of the adversity that Hassan faces on a daily basis, and the discrimination keeping him out of WM. What Shawn has overcome is in the past, and what Hassan faces is in the present, and in the present, Hassan has never been pinned, so he deserves to be in Wrestlemania. Shawn doesn't like Hassan, because he thinks he's entitled to everything when, in reality, he's earned nothing. So Shawn challenges him for next week in Texas and walks off. Hassan is interested.
Taxi Driver: a bunch of people try to make it through saying "Are you talkin' to me?" without screwing up. AWESOME! It has to be seen to be believed. Lots of good stuff. Let's just say it starts with Heidenreich and gets better from there.
Triple H, followed by Ric Flair and the Flair Country pop, followed by Viscera, La Résistance, Simon Dean, Jonathan Coachman, Viscera, Christian, Gene Snitsky, Maven, Muhammad Hassan, Khosrow Daivari, Chris Masters, Edge, and maybe a couple others I missed, walk out. HHH and Flair assume seats at the announcers' table, and our main event is next.
Next week, HHH and Batista will have a sanctioned "Face Off" in the ring next week in Fort Worth. HHH is incredulous. "Together? In the ring? At the same time?" HHH tries to figure out what that means but gets interrupted by Kane's pyro. And HHH remembers that Kane is gonna destroy Batista tonight, so there won't be a faceoff anyway.
Match #5: Kane vs Batista
They lock up. Kane shoves Batista back to a corner. They lock up again, and Batista reverses it and shoves Kane into that corner. Kane gets a right and puts Batista in a corner, but Batista reverses a cross-corner whip and gets a scoop powerslam. Batista heads outside in response to taunting from Daivari. Hassan hits him from behind, but Batista barely sells and scares Hassan off. Kane comes up from behind and gets a shot, then heads back in. Chris Masters puts Batista back in, where Kane boots him. Kane hits an elbowdrop for two. Kane runs the ropes... right into a Batista clothesline. Kick in the corner! Right in the corner. Another right. Kane reverses a cross-corner whip but charges into a boot, but La Résistance each grab a leg and try to crotch Batista on the ringpost. He kicks them both away! But Kane gets a DDT and uses a blatant choke. Kane stomps away. More blatant choking follows. Kane gets a corner clothesline and covers for two. Batista gets a series of rights, but Kane slaps him back down. Batista is on his knees, and Kane gets a running dropkick to the head from that position! More blatant choking as Conway and Maven yell at Batista. Slugfest in the corner, which Batista wins. He tries a whip into the corner, reversed, and Kane gets a sidewalk slam. Kane starts to head up... and Snitsky starts running and gets booted!! HAHA!! That made this match. Kane heads up for the lariat, but Batista press slams him off, whips him into the corner and hits a clothesline. Kick to the gut, and Batista gets the big vertical suplex. Running clothesline from Batista gets two. Batista tries a whip, shortarmed, and Kane gets the goozle. Batista manages to elbow out of it. Kick to the gut and he tries the powerbomb, but Kane drives him into the corner. Kane gets a headlock. Batista sends him into the corner but eats elbow, and Kane decides to head out and fight with Snitsky! Rights from Kane. Boot for Dean. Vis hits him. No sale. Viscera charges into the ringpost, and then Kane sends him into it again. All the other lumberjacks beat on Batista. Back in the ring, Tomko, Christian and Edge beat on Kane! Batista clotheslines Conway, sends Grenier into the post, sensd Maven into the ring steps, clotheslines Grenier, and dumps Coach on the security wall. Batista decides to head back in. Tomko gets clotheslined. Edge gets spinebustered. Christian walks into another one. Clothesline for Tomko. Kane gets up out of nowhere... CHOKE! SLAM! Kane covers! One... two... NO! HHH can't believe it. Kane tries the Tombstone... but Batista sneaks out the back door! Kane staggers into the spinebuster! DAVEBOMB follows, and Batista gets 3.
Winner: Batista via pinfall (8:47)
Batista stands in a corner and stares down HHH, who counters by holding his belt up. This match had its moments. Snitsky, as usual, rules. I still don't get why Batista is being fed all these big men. Seems counterproductive to position the guy on the unstoppable win streak as the underdog over and over. But hey, he's still rolling.