TV REPORTS 7/5 WWE Raw review: Keller's ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show
Jul 5, 2004 - 10:10:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
JULY 5, 2004
LIVE FROM WINNIPEG, MANITOBA
-After the explosions and fireworks and opening montage, Jim Ross introduced the show as the camera panned the crowd and announced that with Eric Bischoff on vacation, Eugene was in charge of the show. Already in the ring standing behind a row of chairs were Tyson Tomko, Tajiri, Jerry Lawler, Stacy, and Coach. Flair walked to the ring and looked upset. Ross said Flair had no idea why he had been sent to the ring. Lawler expressed to Flair he didn't understand what was going on. Chris Jericho then came out wearing a vintage Winnipeg Jets hockey jersey. Eugene then came out to his music. Ross, choosing his words particularly, said, "It's going to be a very special night here on Raw." Eugene told everyone he wanted them to have fun. "Even you, Coach," he said. The crowd booed as Coach shook his head. "Who wants to see a championship match tonight," Eugene said, jumping up and down in excitement.
Eugene said somebody standing in the ring would get an opportunity at a championship. A loud "Y2J" chant broke out. Eugene said he was playing musical chairs to decide who'd get the title shot. "Pop Goes the Weasel" played. Tajiri was the odd man out on the first game. Coach laughed, so Tajiri sprayed him with green mist. Coach fell over backwards in his chair. One char was removed and everyone circled the chairs as Coach stumbled out of the ring like Rick Martel in a blindfold match. Coach was the odd man out that time. Another chair was removed as fans continued to chant "Y2J." This time when the music stopped, Lawler was odd man out, and he sat on Stacy's lap. The ref ordered Lawler back to the broadcast table. With three chairs left, Flair began strutting around the chairs. Stacy was laughing. Jericho was trying to keep his dignity. Tomko was looking mean. When the music stopped, Flair shoved Stacy down and took a seat himself.
With two chairs left, Flair was eliminated when the music stopped right away as he strutted around the ring. Flair threw a fit. That left Tomko and Jericho, two feuding wrestlers, as the final wrestlers. Another loud "Y2J" chant filled the arena. When the music stopped, Jericho yanked the chair out from under Tomko, and then sat on it himself for the win. Eugene jumped up and down and screamed, "You did it! Chris Jericho wins! That means tonight, in that very ring, it's going to be one-on-one for the Intercontinental Championship, Randy Orton vs. Chris Jericho." The crowd booed, thinking it was going to be a World Title shot against Triple H. They quickly returned to cheering Jericho, though. Lawler asked, "What kind of show is this going to be tonight. The inmate is running the asylum."
-Clips aired of last week's La Resistance vs. Rhyno & Sgt. Slaughter last week.
1 -- LA RESISTANCE vs. RHYNO & VAL VENIS -- World Tag Team Title match
The Canadian crowd booed the really bad rendition of their national anthem. Ross said that Rhyno has been actively seeking a partner to defeat La Resistance, and Venis was the latest. Has WWE given fans any reason to care about Rhyno? Why give him prominent TV time without investing something in his personality development? At 3:45 when Rhyno set up the Gore, Grenier yanked him out of the ring by his leg and rammed him into the ringpost. La Resistance then gave Rhyno their double-team suplex for the win.
WINNERS: La Resistance at 4:28.
-Randy Orton complained to Flair and Batista backstage about Hunter putting Eugene in charge of the show. "I trust Hunter's judgement, but it's just not right." Flair said, "I'm Ric Flair, sixteen times World Heavyweight Champion." He plugged that his book went on sale this week. Batista said their mission is helping Hunter get his belt back and they're going to stick with it. A sign pointed to "Eugene's Office," and it was one of those moon walk trampoline things from local fairs. When Eugene implied he was going to have Kane vs. Triple H, Eugene said no, he was going to book Batista vs. Kane. Eugene said he knows a team that can beat La Resistance at Vengeance for the tag team titles. He said, "That's going to be the team of Ric Flair and..." He then got distracted by action figures. Flair demanded to know who his partner would be. Eugene revealed it would be him. Orton and Eugene had to stop Flair from going into the moon walk and attacking Eugene.
-Triple H came out to a full ring entrance. (Notice they didn't show him on TV in any backstage skits earlier as not to take away the impact of his big promo entrance.) He said Chris Benoit has a achieved a miracle by keeping the title as long as he has. He said Darwin is right, you can't stop evolution. As he vowed to get the World Title back, and as Ross said there is nothing in the world more important to Hunter than getting that World Title back, Edge interrupted. He came out to his music, then he got serious and said, "It's time for a change." He said he's watched Evolution dominate for a year, but he's going to take care of Randy Orton at the PPV. He said win or lose against Jericho, Orton's his. Edge then got in Hunter's face and said, "You're all going down." Ross said those were strong words. "You won't know when, you won't know where, but one by one, you're all going to fall," Edge said. "Somebody needs to take a stand, and that somebody is going to be me." Hunter took a step back and smiled. Then he took off his sports coat and said he's heard that a million times from a million guys. He listed Mick Foley, The Rock, Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit. "But here I stand, on top of the world, and nothing changes," he said. "What makes you think you're any different than them, huh?" Edge punched Hunter. They went toe-to-toe with Edge getting Hunter on the mat first. The rest of Evolution ran out for the save. Edge bailed into the crowd. He punched Orton, stopping him from coming after him. Edge declared, "One by one!" There's still something in Edge's eyes that makes his intensity seem "put on" and that he'd rather be reading comic books than fighting. His tone makes everything seem like it's a game not to be taken too seriously, even if in words he's trying to say otherwise. It's as if he wants to win, but if he doesn't, it'll be okay, he'll just go play video games and forget about it. It's entirely different than the intensity you see with athletes before an actual competition, be it UFC or Pride or an NBA or NFL game. He tried to be more intense and serious this time, but it just wasn't convincing. Until he fixes that, if it's fixable, I don't know if he'll be the draw he otherwise could be. It's as if someone needs to get him seriously pissed off before he goes out there.
2 -- BATISTA vs. KANE
Ross said that in this match, "pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." Lawler pointed out that the crowd wasn't particularly fond of either wrestler. They punched each other early. Kane set up an early chokeslam at 1:00, but Batista easily fought out of it and then powered Kane up and down with a spinebuster. Kane fired back with a big boot. Batista fell to ringside. They hit each other with simultaneous clotheslines. Matt Hardy then ran out and attacked Kane.
WINNER: No contest at 1:54.
STAR RATING: 1/4* -- You had to know this would be a short match used as a means to something else, and it effectively got across the intensity of Hardy's feelings right now.
-Todd Grisham approached Hardy backstage. He said his match against Kane was a no DQ match. He wondered how that affected his chances. Hardy asked him if he just saw what he did to Kane? He said that's just a small sample of what would happen on Sunday. Grisham asked Hardy what Lita's role would be. He said he wasn't answering questions about Lita at this time. As he began walking away, Grisham said that Kane is claiming the baby is his. Hardy turned around and glared in Grisham's eyes with an emotional resonance that is an example of what Edge is missing.
-A "WWE Divas Search" competition segment aired with brief clips of women talking about the competition and messing around with Coach. There's still zero sense of who these women are, so these segments are pointless if WWE is trying to capitalize on the reality TV genre. It shows Vince McMahon doesn't understand what it is about reality TV that sells. It's getting to know the people and how they interact with each other. Watching short clips of one woman after another as Coach ogles at them has nothing to do with reality TV. Once it came down to twelve, they could have then spent all of this wasted time in having viewers get to know the twelve finalists, and then have a series of competitions to eliminate eleven of them. Even then, it'd probably be too watered down to mean anything. What makes the whole thing even more pointless is that WWE has yet to set forth any criteria for winning. Is it just a beauty contest? It is a mix of beauty and charisma and a knowledge and respect for WWE? It is which girl appeals to Coach and seems most willing to sleep with him? Is it who parties best with the producers off the air? The whole exercise just seems transparently pointless
3 -- RANDY ORTON vs. CHRIS JERICHO -- Intercontinental Title match
Ross said Orton wasn't planning on defending his title just six days before Vengeance, and certainly wasn't expecting that his challenger would be dictated by a game of music chairs. Jericho scored a couple of early falls, but it was obvious for a number of reasons that this was going to last a while, including past a commercial break. When Jericho knocked Orton out of the ring, Batista made his way to ringside as they cut to a break.
Batista attacked Jericho at ringside, ramming him into the ringpost and ringside barrier. Orton then concentrated on Jericho's left arm, applying an armbar at 13:00. Jericho punched his way out of it, and then they hit each other with simultaneous clotheslines. The ref began counting both men down. Jericho made a full-fledged comeback at 14:30. When he went for a Walls of Jericho, Orton yanked his hair to escape. Jericho scored a near fall at 16:00, but then seconds later missed a charge in the corner and hit the ringpost shoulder-first. Orton then slowly crawled to the top rope. Jericho knocked him off balance and then went for a superplex, but Orton shoved Jericho off and hit a top rope crossbody block for a near fall. Jericho came back and applied the Walls of Jericho at 18:10. Orton crawled toward the bottom rope. When Batista jumped on the ring apron, Jericho stupidly got up and knocked him to the floor. Orton then made a miraculous comeback and rolled up Jericho from behind with his feet on the middle rope for leverage to score the pin.
WINNER: Orton at 18:32 to retain the IC Title.
STAR RATING: *** -- Nice match, but no classic. The finish made Jericho seem pretty dumb. Why not just keep the hold on him.
-Backstage they showed Eugene and Hunter jumping inside his office together. Hunter asked Eugene if they had a deal. Eugene said they did. When Hunter left the contraption, he slipped and seemed to get hurt. Eugene asked if he was okay. An embarrassed Hunter said he was okay. Flair then asked Hunter if he talked Eugene out of having to be his partner at Vengeance. Hunter said that didn't come up. Flair said that was serious business. He said he is Ric Flair and he can't embarrass himself in that way. Hunter said he did strike a deal with Eugene to help him get his title back. Hunter told Flair the deal was that they were teaming with Eugene against Edge & Chris Benoit. Hunter told Flair to trust him because he had a plan. "Trust me," he said again. Eugene kept jumping inside his bubble.
-The Smackdown Rebound aired with a plug for John Cena vs. Booker T at the end.
4 -- VICTORIA vs. MOLLY HOLLY vs. NIDIA -- Title Shot Contract on a Pole
Trish Stratus joined Ross and Lawler on commentary. She revealed that she had broken her wrist. She said it unfortunately has caused her to have to turn down a few autograph requests. Nidia won the fast-paced match when she took advantage of Victoria and Molly beating each other up.
WINNER: Nidia at 3:32.
STAR RATING: 3/4*
-Trish walked toward the ring and said she would give her a hand, but she can't. She told Nidia she has a golden opportunity to face her. She said: "In the soon future you and I will be facing each other... I mean, when I'm ready." She then KO'd Nidia with her hand in a cast. She told the ref to ring the bell because the stip was the match would take place when she was ready.
5 -- TRISH STRATUS vs. NIDIA -- Women's Title match
WINNER: Trish at 0:03.
STAR RATING: n/a -- Lawler complimented Trish for a helluva title defense.
-More clips airs from the Raw Divas competition with Coach eliminating a few and sending others to New York for the next round.
-Ross and Lawler then explained that there would be a special on UPN that would knock 25 semi-finalists down to 10 finalists. They said then fans would vote for the winner in the weeks after that. Then they plugged the line-up for Vengeance on Sunday.
-Backstage Trish gave a sad-looking Lita a hard time about being pregnant and added, "And they call me a slut."
-Hunter convinced Eugene that when Edge says he's trying to knock off Evolution one member at a time, he meant him, too, since he's part of Evolution. He got Eugene really worked up about defending himself against Edge and Benoit.
6 -- TRIPLE H & RIC FLAIR & EUGENE vs. EDGE & CHRIS BENOIT
Ross said Hunter would burn in hell for what he has done to manipulate Eugene. Lawler said Hunter has done nothing other than befriend this special kid. Eugene began the match. He tagged in Hunter at 1:45. At 2:45, Benoit applied a Crossface. Eugene interfered to break it up. Ross said Eugene is confused. Flair whipped Benoit into the ring steps and then stomped on him as Hunter talked to Eugene. Ross said they had to take their final commercial break.
After the break, Hunter convinced Eugene that Edge had hit him from behind on purpose. He then ordered Eugene to break Edge's arm. The crowd chanted "Eugene sucks." I'm not sure that's the reaction WWE was looking for. Eugene is supposed to be sympathetic in this situation since he doesn't know any better and is being manipulated by Hunter. The heat's supposed to be on Hunter. Flair tagged in at 11:15, chopped Edge, and then strutted and dropped a knee. Eugene seemed to be growing more conflicted, if not a touch despondent, while waiting for a tag. Flair took his face-first bump and then got up and tagged in Hunter. Edge then hot-tagged Benoit. Benoit then gave Hunter the three unreleased German suplex series. He then hit the top rope headbutt at 13:15. Flair entered the ring illegally and ripped at Benoit's face from behind. Edge knocked Flair out of the ring and rammed him into the guard rail. When Edge flew at Flair, Flair ducked and Edge bumped into the crowd. Eugene told the ref was he concerned for Edge's well-being. Ross said Eugene has a heart of gold and is a victim of manipulation. Benoit bumped into the ref and Eugene. Hunter entered the ring and was going to hit Benoit, but Benoit stole the chair. Eugene saw Benoit with the chair and took it from him. Eugene was going to hit Benoit, but Benoit talked him out of it. Eugene bailed to ringside and cried in confusion. Hunter went after Benoit from behind, but Benoit reversed course and put Hunter in the Sharpshooter in mid-ring. Hunter screamed in pain. He called for Eugene to enter the ring with the chair and hit Benoit. He paused, but then hit Benoit. He wasn't happy with himself afterward. He stomped on the chair in frustration and cried. Hunter then gave Benoit the Pedigree and the groggy ref counted to three.
WINNERS: Hunter & Flair & Eugene at 15:45.
STAR RATING: **3/4 -- Good match, very storyline oriented, but effective for the most part. The crowd's booing of Eugene probably wasn't the ideal reaction from the crowd.
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