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5/3 WWE Raw review: Keller's ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show

May 3, 2004 - 10:13:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor

RAW REPORT
MAY 3, 2004
LIVE IN PHOENIX, ARIZ.


-The show opened with a dramatic video previewing the Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels match including soundbites from each as highlights of action between them aired. The Raw opening montage followed.

-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show.

1 -- TRIPLE H & RANDY ORTON & BATISTA vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN & TAJIRI & EDGE

Triple H, Randy Orton, and "I've Paid My Dues" Batista (a reference to an editorial posted Monday afternoon on PWTorch.com) came out first. This was quite the way to start the show. Ross said this was the beginning of what would be a historic edition of Raw. Lawler said he smelled something, and it wasn't Ross's armpits, it was a title change in the air. Lawler said Benjamin has an overinflated image of his skills after two flukes wins over Hunter. Ross said he's a down-to-earth person. Of all the people involved in trades in March, Tajiri was low on my list of wrestlers I'd consider "big winners" a month or so later, but he is (even though he was obviously the "designated jobber" in this match). At 2:00 Edge and Hunter tagged in against each other. Hunter did a nice job with facial expressions, reacting to any countermove by Edge with concerned shock. Orton and Batista tagged in against Edge, then Hunter took over again, yanking Edge's arm around the ringpost at 5:00. Batista tagged back in and continued working over Edge's arm. Edge finally showed fight at 6:30, but Hunter turned a backdrop attempt into a knee to Edge's chin for a two count. Benjamin made the save. Lawler complained about Benjamin's illegal tactic. Edge surprised Hunter with a kick off the ropes. Both men were down. Tajiri got the hot tag and took down all three Evolution members. Tajiri went for a DDT off the ropes, but Hunter blocked it. Tajiri, though, re-countered with a DDT. Batista broke up the pin attempt. Tajiri handspringed off the ropes, but Batista blocked the elbow with a rear clothesline. They cut to a break.

[Commercial Break]

As Batista beat on Tajiri after the break, Lawler asked, "Is it true that when you turn an Oriental upside down, he becomes disoriented." That might be the most outdated, dumb thing said in a long time on WWE TV - which is probably what Lawler was going for. Ross couldn't even get himself to respond with the usual disgust. Tajiri made a comeback against Orton with a nice bridge-up and then a vicious sidekick to Orton's head. He then hot-tagged Edge, who worked over Orton with punches. Hunter entered. Edge DDT'd him. Batista entered. Edge threw him to the floor. Edge then flew off the top rope with a clothesline to both Hunter and Orton at once. Edge then called for Orton to rise so he could Spear him Batista intercepted Edge's spear at 16:00. Benjamin entered the ring and worked over Batista with a Stinger splash and a clothesline over the top rope. That left Edge and Orton in the ring. Orton went for an RKO. Tajiri kicked a vulnerable Orton before he could execute it. Orton backdropped Edge over the top rope Batista then set up his finisher, but Tajiri sprayed him with green mist. Batista fell and writhed in pain. Orton threw Tajiri to ringside. Edge then speared Orton for the win.

WINNER: Edge & Tajiri & Benjamin at 17:33 when Edge pinned Orton.

STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- Very good six man TV match. Really well laid out and executed. Not particularly memorable, but perfect for what it needed to be. The finish was surprising (since the common guess would have been Tajiri jobbing), but a necessary boost for Edge. Orton seems to be considered the Teflon wrestler by WWE management already, a heel who can absorb losses and still retain his credibility. I think that's a dangerous approach to take too often, though, since it chips away the credibility Orton gained in his matches with Mick Foley.

[Commercial Break]

-Ross plugged Benoit vs. Michaels again. Then backstage Coach ripped on the women of Phoenix, saying just like cacti, they're both prickly. Cade said he was flying in two Midwest hotties. Vince McMahon walked up to them. They asked him what he was doing there. He said he might be there for a lot of reasons, including the beautiful weather or the beautiful women in Phoenix. He asked if they had noticed the women. After having just ripped on the women, the agreed with him, a riff on the type of "kiss ass lying" McMahon faces (or breeds) in his day-to-day running of Raw. McMahon then shifted to talking about the Benoit vs. Michaels match. He called Michaels the most charismatic, flamboyant, all-time greats. He said Benoit is a real deal. He said tonight in the ring would be "pure art form."

-The Smackdown Rebound aired with a plug that Undertaker would be wrestling this week plus RVD & Guerrero would face The Dudleys. Ross and Tazz talked about breaking news from WWE.com where Bradshaw caused Eddie Guerrero's mother to have a heart attack last night in El Paso, Tex. after he brought his family to the ring. Ross said they'd have more details on the tragedy on Smackdown and wished Mrs. Guerrero a speedy recovery.

-Hunter yelled at Eric Bischoff backstage, saying he is wasting his time out there in tag matches when he should be wrestling for the World Title. Batista demanded a match against Tajiri. Johnny Nitro barged in and said he had something important to tell him. He whispered to him that Vince McMahon was there. Bischoff told him to stock his skybox properly. Bischoff told Batista next week he could get Tajiri. Bischoff then told Hunter he would get a match against Benjamin next week. He then told Orton he could defend the IC Title against next week. Orton wanted revenge, but he didn't seem pleased with the title being on the line.

[Commercial Break]

2 -- ROB CONWAY (wSylvain Grenier) vs. HURRICANE (w/Rosey)

Lawler and Ross talked about Eugene wrestling next week. Ross said Lawler was so hostile toward Eugene just because he licked him. Lawler said Eugene's breath was so bad, he didnt know whether to offer him chewing gum or toilet paper. Lawler said Rosey is about as fast as a herd of turtles plowing their way through peanut butter. After the match Conway cut a promo on his match with Eugene next week.

WINNERS: La Resistance at 3:10.

STAR RATING: 1/2* -- Just a quick squash. Good action.

[Commercial Break]

-A recap aired of Kane's harassing of Lita and forcing a kiss on her last week.

3 -- KANE vs. STEVEN RICHARDS

WINNER: Kane at 0:31.

STAR RATING: n/a -- Just a few punches and a chokeslam. Richards's face barely made it on camera.

[Commercial Break]

-Chris Jericho came out for his "Highlight Reel" segment. He said normally he is the highlight of Raw, but tonight obviously Benoit vs. Michaels is the highlight. He said he hasn't had a title match in a long time so he was officially challenging the winner. Then he introduced his guest, Matt Hardy, whom he said was living dangerously with Kane trying to win back his old girlfriend. Hardy came out with Matt Facts: "Matt believes in karma" and "Matt is not afraid of pain." Hardy said he has made some mistakes, but the only thing he can do as a man is rectify those mistakes. He said if that means going one-on-one against Kane, so be it. He said he wasn't out there to talk about Kane, he was there to talk about Lita. He asked Lita to come out to the ring. He said he saw her earlier so he knows she's there. Lawler wondered if he was going to pop the question. A dishevelled Lita tearfully appeared on the big screen, said she never loved him, has found someone else, and wants him to stay away from her. Hardy said he couldn't believe her. Lita said, "I can't do this! I'm in the basement with Kane. Please save me!" The camera panned back. She frantically screamed for help. Hardy ran to the back. Jericho stammered at which point Christian, Trish, and Tyson Tomko walked out. Christian said the party was about to get started and complained about Jericho hurting his little angel. He sent Tomko to the ring and he attacked Jericho. After Tomko lifted Jericho above his head and slammed him to the mat, Christian trash-talked Jericho and then Trick gave Jericho a kick between the legs. Christian then finished off Christian with the Unprettier. Ross said Christian and his troop had "literally dissected Chris Jericho." I wouldn't go that far.

[Commercial Break]

-They showed footage from during the break of Matt Hardy finding Lita. Lita told him Kane had left and she wanted to be untied. Hardy asked if he touched her. She said no, but was clearly emotionally distraught.

4 -- GAIL KIM (w/Molly Holly) vs. VICTORIA

Before the match Kim said the fans shouldn't feel sorry for Lita because she got what she deserved. Early on Victoria attempted to press Kim, but couldn't quite get her up and ended up dropping her. That drew a few boos from fans who hate failure. Kim came back and applied a sleeper at 3:00 followed by a Dragon sleeper. Victoria came back at 5:00 including a tilt-a-while attempt that Kim turned into a cool submission hold with a head scissors and arm bar causing Victoria to fall to the mat and tap out.

WINNER: Kim at 6:15.

STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Nice finish to a solid, basic match. I don't count the drop by Victoria of Kim early in the match as a negative. She tried, she couldn't pull it off, no big deal. Nice finishing sequence.

-Ross plugged the Michaels vs. Benoit match as a "match of the year." Talk about setting expectations high.

-A cllip aired of Eugene practicing the claw hold in the WWE training ring in Stamford, Conn. Regal told Dr. Tom Prichard that he's tried to explain to Eugene that playing a wrestler is different than being a wrestler. He told Prichard that last thing Eugene is going to want to be a wrestler when he's done with him. He said he was going to enjoy it. Then he made a face and I wasn't sure if it was meant to convey he was really looking forward to hurting Eugene or if he was having second thoughts.

[Commercial Break]

-They panned up to show Vince McMahon in the WWE skybox. He looked down at the ring like a king looking down at his kingdom. Ross said he was there for one reason, to watch the main event World Title match.

-They went back to Regal training Eugene. When was going to show him an armdrag, Eugene said, "Steamboat. Steamboat." I'm surprised WWE would acknowledge he exists given his association now with ROH. Eugene then armdragged Regal really well. Regal was shocked at how well he did it. They showed that Eugene also picked up on the bodyslam really well, too. Same with a b ack suplex, a vertical suplex, and an armdrag. Some of Eugene's facials were a bit unconvincing, but overall well done. Prichard jumped up and down and chanted, "Eugene, Eugene." Regal looked surprised and confused as Eugene chewed on a Triple H drinking container. Regal then said it was time for chain wrestling. Eugene did really well once again and practically forced Regal to tapout. "You're ready," declared an exhausted Regal.

-Ross and Lawler said they were impressed and shocked. Lawler said Eugene is either a quick learner or Regal is the best teacher ever. Then they plugged the Eugene vs. Conway match. They also plugged next week's sweeps period line-up of other matches, all announced earlier involving Evolution. No mention of Flair on this week's show. Last I heard he had some personal issues at home he was dealing with.

[Commercial Break]

-Eric Bischoff announced that next week would also feature Christian vs. Jericho. He added that to avoid any outside interference, it would take place inside a 15 foot high steel cage. McMahon applauded from his skybox.

5 -- CHRIS BENOIT vs. SHAWN MICHAELS - World Hvt. Title match

They began the match at about 25 minutes before the top of the hour. Ross talked about Michaels's history, including that his career began in 1985 and he first won the AWA Tag Team Titles in 1986. Ross said fans may not be aware that Michaels was born in Phoenix since he's billed from San Antonio, Tex. Lawler said Benoit has made a believer out of him. The opening five minutes were a feeling-out process suggesting the obvious - that this match was going 20-plus minutes. At 4:45 Benoit went for the Crippler Crossface. Michaels escaped from two attempts, then knocked Benoit down with a sledgehammer blow. They cut abruptly to a commercial break out of nowhere.

[Commercial Break]

Michaels had Benoit in an abdominal stretch after the break. At 11:30 Benoit went for a sudden small package and two more pin attempts equalling three near falls. At 12:30 Michaels flew off the top rope with an elbowdrop onto Benoit. He then played to the crowd and got a fair amount of cheers from the split crowd. He then stomped the mat a few times and then went for the Sweet Chin Music. Benoit ducked and went into the three unreleased German suplex series. Benoit went to the top rope himself at 14:00 and went for a headbutt, but Michaels moved out of the way. Michaels recovered and draped his arm over Benoit for a two count at 14:45. Michaels then went to the top rope. Benoit got up and punched Michaels a few times, then threw a series of chops sending Michaels backwards slowly to the ring apron. Benoit went for a suplex, but Michaels blocked it and then Michaels suplexed Benoit to the floor. Benoit landed halfway on his feet upon landing on the mat on the floor. Michaels climbed to the top rope and hit the moonsault bodypress at ringside with a nice landing. Some fans chanted "Holy sh--." Ross wondered iff they'd be able to return to the ring. The ref began his count. Benoit yanked Michaels's trunks halfway down his backside. Michaels then reverse-whipped Benoit into the ringside stairs. Benoit came up bleeding. Ross said they had to cut to their last commercial break at 18:15.

[Commercial Break]

They ended up in a chop battle at 23:00. Michaels applied a Boston crab. The bloodied Benoit screamed in pain. Since it was after 11 p.m., it was plausible that Benoit might tap out at that point. After Benoit forced a break, Michaels threw chops at Benoit in the corner. Benoit whipped Michaels into the opposite corner and Michaels flipped. Benoit then applied the Crossface. Michaels fought it. Ross pointed out this is how Benoit won the title at WrestleMania. Michaels got his feet over the bottom rope to force a break. Benoit reapplied the Crossface. If this was an ROH Pure Wrestling match, Michaels would be down to just one more rope break. Michaels went for a sudden superkick, but Benoit caught his leg, dropped him down, and went for a sharpshooter. Michaels kicked Benoit off of him, knocking Benoit into the ref. Begin the finishing sequence. Benoit, Michaels, and the ref were down for a while. Michaels struggled to be the first to rise. When Benoit rose, a wobbly-legged Michaels burst out with a superkick to Benoit's chin, KO'ing him. Michaels slowly crawled over for a cover, but Hunter entered the ring and gave Michaels a Pedigree. "What the hell was that about?" asked Ross. Hunter then jumped into the fans seating area and watched innocently. Benoit crawled over and draped his arm over Michaels. The ref counted to three. Ross called Hunter an "indignant bastard."

WINNER: Benoit at 28:28.

STAR RATING: ****1/2 -- Can't complain about that. It's really exactly what you'd expect from a singles match from these two after seeing their action against each other the last couple of months. Everything looked really strong and tight. The opening minutes were paced for a long match, setting up the surges in action. They did a nice job with some convincing nearfalls and near submissions in the final few minutes. As I wrote in my Keller's Take at PWTorch.com earlier today, the non-clean finish was expected headed in, so it's hard to count it against it since it was an appropriate finish at this time in their feud.

Send your thoughts on the show to "torchreax" (@pwtorch.com). Include your name, hometown, 1-10 score, picks for best and worst matches, plus brief comments (about ten lines).


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