Torch Flashbacks KELLER'S WWE RAW REPORT 5 YRS. AGO (12-29-03): Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H for 30 minutes, Lita & Trish & Stacy, Mick Foley and Steve Austin
Dec 30, 2008 - 2:29:40 PM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
WWE RAW REPORT
DECEMBER 29, 2003
LIVE FROM SAN ANTONIO, TEX. AT SBC ARENA
-Highlights aired of the Eric Bischoff, Mick Foley storyline. The Raw opening montage then aired.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. They said tonight would be the night that Steve Austin's future would be decided. An image aired of the WWE headquarters in Stamford, Conn. (no longer "Titan Towers"). Ross said the WWE board of directors was meeting inside.
-Mick Foley's music played, but Randy Orton walked out instead. Ross said the Foley who walked out of Raw two weeks ago was not the Foley he knows. Orton entered the ring with the IC belt over his shoulder and a big smile on his face. He said after taking some time over the holidays to think about it, he said he had something to say to the people who thought Foley was a coward for walking out on their match two weeks ago on Raw. Orton said he is a coward, but he's not just a coward, he's a smart coward. He said he knew he would have been humiliated if he wrestled him. Orton said the last thing that needed to happen was Lillian Garcia needed to announce him as the winner of the match. Lillian did what Orton asked her to do. Lawler said, "Now it's official." Ross said, "I hope he feels better." Orton whispered to Lillian and then she added that Orton is now the "new hardcore legend," also. As Orton gloated, Booker T's music played. He walked out and said Orton shouldn't be worried about people who aren't there, he needs to be worried about people who are there. He challenged Orton to an IC Title match. Mark Henry then attacked Booker from behind. Teddy Long cheered him on as he rammed him into the videowall on the stage. Orton walked up to the fallen Booker and said he agreed to face him later.
-Bischoff approached Long and Henry backstage. Bischoff talked about all of the stress he's under with the Booker-Orton situation, the Austin situation, and the Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H match later. Long said he wanted to call in the favor Bischoff owes them from Survivor Series. Bischoff told them to take the night off and then he'd deliver on their favor.
-They plugged the six-man women's match coming up later.
1 -- ROB VAN DAM vs. SCOTT STEINER
Steiner dominated the match from the start with methodical offense. He kicked RVD between the legs and then threw him to the floor at 2:30. Back in the ring, Steiner had RVD down at 4:30 and then did some push-ups. Ross criticized the strategy. Lawler said that sends a message to RVD that he has no respect for him. RVD caught a charging Steiner with a boot and then Rolling Thunder followed by a split-legged moonsault for a two count at 5:00. Steiner came back with an overhead suplex. RVD fought off Steiner on the top rope and came off with a jump sidekick. He then hit the Frogsplash and scored the three count clean.
WINNER: RVD at 6:05.
STAR RATING: *1/4 -- Pretty one dimensional, but not bad.
-A classic HBK moment aired titled "Heart Break Klassic." It featured footage from the January 1997 Royal Rumble of Michaels vs. Sid where he pinned him after Sweet Chin Music to win the WWF Title in the San Antonio. Ross then asked if Michaels could do it again tonight in San Antonio.
-Christian confronted Chris Jericho backstage, claiming he "ditched him for a girl."
-They went to another live shot outside of the WWE headquarters. They went inside to Coach standing next to the entrance to the board room. He said the board would be meeting about the future of Steve Austin. Coach said they haven't heard from Foley, who called for the meeting, or Austin, who was invited to the meeting. He said rumors were that Linda McMahon would argue in favor of Austin being reinstated and someone else would be arguing against it. Vince McMahon then walked up. Coach asked if he knew who that person against Foley would be. Vince said that person would be someone who is articulate and who knows Austin very well, "me." Coach asked Vince, "Why don't you just take care of this situation yourself." He said he probably could, but since they became a public company, things aren't that simple. He said nine times out of ten the board sees things his way. He said it's actually nearly unanimous how often they agree with him. He then laughed and complimented his hat. I really like that they actually addressed a question like that since in the past they usually ignore those issues. Better to make a sound stab at explaining it than ignore it. Vince's explanation was good enough to add some logic to the situation.
-A special video aired of the Smackdown visit to Iraq. Then they showed the Raw crowd live chanting "USA, USA."
-A taped promo aired with the Dudleys. Bubba said it hurt him to say it because Foley has been a hero to them, but Foley did act in a cowardly way two weeks ago.
2 - THE DUDLEYS vs. RUSSELL SIMPSON & EDDIE KRAMER
Ric Flair's music played and he walked out as Eric Bischoff's special appointed referee. Ross pointed out he was wearing a ref shirt and khaki pants. Lawler asked him what he had against khaki pants. Ross said he has nothing against them, but he's never seen a ref wear them before. Bubba mocked Flair's strut early in the match. Flair scolded Bubba for using a closed fist. When Bubba threw another punch, Flair stopped the match and DQ'd Bubba. Lillian announced that the Dudleys were DQ'd without mentioning the winners by name. Batista and Flair beat up the Dudleys afterward. Ross said he can't remember a referee ever DQ'ing a wrestler for using a closed fist. Lawler said Flair did a great job.
WINNERS: Simpson & Kramer at 1:22.
STAR RATING: n/a
-Another Heart Break Klassic moment aired, this from Summerslam 2002 of Michaels beating Hunter in his return match in a street fight.
-Bischoff gave the referees a pep talk backstage, telling them Flair set the proper example for how they should enforce rules in the future. He said he wanted to be known as the law and order G.M.
-Coach interviewed Vince outside the board room. He asked how the meeting went. Vince said it went well. He said he gave proper credit to Austin for all of his contributions to WWE in the past, but added that he didn't think it was best to live in the past. He said there was no place in today's WWE for a beer swilling trouble maker like Austin. Vince said he is a father-figure and he thinks of his fans as children. "And I don't mean that in a disparaging way," he said. He said if you ask a child what they want for dinner, they'd say candy even though that's not best for them. He said he knows better than the fans what is best for them. Great promo from Vince in terms of content. Even if it wasn't as over-the-top as some of his more memorable and outlandish promos, the child-candy analogy with the fans and Austin was really good. He had the right amount of cockiness to make fans anticipate him having egg on his face later.
-Terri interviewed Lita, Stacy, and Trish about whether they received any gifts from Santa. Then they jumped back and screamed as a pick-up truck barged onto the set. Steve Austin was inside. Terri asked what he was doing. He said he lived in Texas, so of course he showed up. He held up his cell phone and said he was waiting for a call from the board of directors. Good rowdy reintroduction of Austin to Raw. Good way to end the first hour to hold viewers headed into the second hour.
3 -- RANDY ORTON vs. BOOKER T -- Intercontinental Title match
Pretty decent opening few minutes, but nothing great. Ross said Booker was showing signs of the beating earlier taking a toll on him. They kept the crowd into it, but barely. They shifted into second gear around 4:30. Booker then did the Spinaroonie at 5:00 followed by an axe kick attempt. Orton moved, but Booker then sidewalk slammed him to the mat for a near fall. As Booker set up another axe kick, Kane walked onto the stage. As Booker turned to look at him, Orton gave him an RKO for the win. Kane then entered the ring. Orton bailed out right away, grabbed his belt, and left. Kane then chokeslammed Booker, then left.
WINNER: Orton at 5:55.
STAR RATING: *1/4 -- The match didn't do much for either wrestler, both of whom could use a standout match to help their reps. Right now they come across as more gimmicky personalities than standout athletes who give must-see performances. This didn't do anything to change that.
-Another Heart Break Klassic moment aired of him winning the WWE Title in the Chamber match.
-Coach interviewed Linda McMahon outside the board room. Linda did a good job looking as if she was surprised by Coach's presence outside the board room. She said Vince did present a passionate, articulate argument, but she said they have shown themselves to be a company that listens to the fans. Coach asked her if her testimony undercuts the authority of Eric Bischoff. Linda said as CEO it is her responsibility to make judgments in the best interest of the business. She said Bischoff has shown he makes decisions based on ego. She said the decision is now in the hands of the judge.
-Jericho approached Trish backstage. He gave her a wrapped gift. Trish sarcastically said, "This is going to make me forget about everything." She said that was so typical of Jericho to think it would make her forget about him betting a Canadian dollar that he could sleep with her. She looked in his eyes and said she got her heart broken by him. She broke down and cried. She said she fell for him and really cared about him. She told him to away. Jericho said he made a mistake. She said, "No, Chris, I made a mistake." Jericho looked sad.
-They showed Austin's phone ringing. He eagerly answered it, but it turned out to be someone not involved with the decision of the board. He said he was waiting for an important call and hung up. He looked disappointed and eager to hear a decision.
4 -- LITA & TRISH STRATUS & STACY KIEBLER vs. MOLLY & VICTORIA & JACKIE GAYDA
Ross again expressed total skepticism toward Jericho's sincerity. He also said he was eager to hear a decision from the board. All of the women were dressed in red and white Christmas outfits. After the match Victoria hit Molly with the WWE Women's Title belt. She held the belt in the air, then dropped it back over Molly's chest. Lawler said she is strange.
WINNER: Trish & Lita & Stacy at 3:26 when Trish pinned Molly.
STAR RATING: 3/4*
-Austin's phone rang again. He said, "Fine. So Stone Cold Steve Austin is back on Raw." The crowd cheered." He said, "Coming back as co-general manager?" He sounded angry and said he was only going to return under his terms and conditions. He said if that's what they got for him, they can take their job and shove it. The crowd even chanted "What?!" between sentences in this segment. He then sped out of the arena with a TV light dragging behind him. The revelation that he was reinstated was a bit anti-climactic, but the fact that he wasn't a lapdog bowing at the authority of the board when they told him he could return to Raw helps protect his image as a rebel. Insisting he return only under his terms and conditions keeps his character from seeming to be a pawn for the "WWE board."
-Ross and Lawler talked about what just happened. Lawler said Vince is a genius for making things play out the way they did.
-Shawn Michaels then came out for his title match against Hunter. Then Hunter came out. They used some nice camera angles during ring intros that gave the match a real "big fight" feel. Ross said he's never known anyone value being World Champion more than Hunter.
5 -- TRIPLE H (w/Ric Flair) vs. SHAWN MICHAELS -- World Hvt. Title match
Michaels controlled the opening minutes, mostly with standing armbars. He skinned the cat and head scissored Hunter over the top rope to the floor drawing one of the early pops in the match. Hunter backdropped Michaels over the top rope at 8:00 as they cut to a commercial. Pretty basic stuff in the opening minutes. Hunter has regained a lot of muscle mass and seemed a bit sluggish. The two week break probably didn't help the conditioning or timing of either athlete.
Hunter continued on offense when they returned, stomping and choking Michaels with his right boot. Michaels fought back with some punches at 11:30. Hunter, though, fired back with a backbreaker then scored a two count. Michaels made an attempt at a comeback, but Hunter tossed him to ringside and then whipped him into the stairs. Ross and Lawler observed there was a knot on his shoulder and speculated it could be a broken collar bone or separation. Back in the ring, though, Michaels went for a sunset flip and after a struggle, got Hunter over for a two count. Hunter fired back immediately with a clothesline for a two count. Hunter put Michaels in an abdominal stretch. Michaels hiptossed out of it at 16:45 and fired at Hunter with chops and punches. Hunter, though, absorbed the blows and went for a backdrop. Michaels kicked Hunter in the face, then threw more chops. Hunter reversed Michaels into the ropes and then blasted Michaels with a flying knee to the chest for a two count. Hunter came up limping on his quad muscle. Ross and Lawler talked about his history with that injury. Michaels gave Hunter a knee breaker out of nowhere followed by the figure-four leglock at 18:00. The crowd popped pretty big for the hold as Hunter screamed in agony and pounded the mat. Flair raked Michaels's eyes at 19:20 to break the hold. The ref didn't see it as he was checking on Hunter. Hunter tossed Michaels to the floor, but Michaels climbed back into the ring via the top rope. He leaped off with an axe handle, a move which never works for anyone. Hunter caught him with a punch to the gut. Both men were down for an eight count. They both stood. Michaels hit chops. Hunter fired back with punches. Michaels fell onto Hunter head-first into his crotch. Lawler called for a DQ. Michaels stood up and chopped away at Hunter's chest followed by an inverted atomic drop and a flying forearm. He then played to the crowd and got a huge pop. He hit a top rope elbow at 23:15. He then signaled for Sweet Chin Music. Flair jumped onto the ring apron, so Michaels turned to punch him. Hunter then flew at Michaels with a forearm, but Michaels ducked and the ref went down. Hunter then caught Michaels with a DDT. Both men were down. Flair slid Hunter the World Hvt. Title belt. The crowd was into match, chanting "HBK." Hunter then KO'd Michaels as soon as he stood up with a belt shot to the head. The crowd booed. Ross said Hunter took the low road. The ref recovered and counted, but Michaels kicked out before three. The crowd popped big. Hunter set up the Pedigree. Michaels escaped it. Hunter shoved Michaels away and Michaels knocked the ref out of the ring. Hunter then punched Michaels, who fell to the mat. Ross said you can't win a World Title without a referee. Bischoff ran to ringside and checked on the ref. Hunter, meanwhile, untied the top turnbuckle. Michaels fought back against Hunter with some chops and then rammed Hunter's head into the exposed turnbuckle. Michaels draped his arm over Hunter. Bischoff took off his suit jacket and entered the ring. He counted toward three, but Hunter kicked out just before three. Bischoff looked frazzled, but continued to referee. Michaels threw some more punches and then went for another cover. Hunter kicked out before three. Hunter then surprised Michaels with a knee and made the cover. Michaels kicked out just before three at 28:15. Hunter was bleeding from the forehead at this point. He came off the top rope, but Michaels lifted his leg and caught him with a boot to the face. The crowd chanted "HBK" again. Ross said they are ending the last Raw of the year with a bang. Michaels caught a charging Hunter with a sidekick and scored the apparent pin. As Michaels celebrated, Bischoff announced Triple H was still the World Hvt. Champion. Michaels grabbed Bischoff and said, "You've got to be kidding." Bischoff said both his and Hunter's shoulders were down, and in the case of a tie, the belt stays with a champion. Bischoff asked for the replay. The replay showed that indeed Michaels's shoulders were down. Michaels looked resigned. That was as close of a finish as the Vikings-Cardinals game the afternoon before.
WINNER: Double pin at 29:22 so Hunter retained the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: **** -- The opening ten minutes were a bit sluggish, but built well for the context of what turned out to be a 30 minute match. The final ten minutes were really good, especially with convincing nearfalls which the crowd was totally into. The outcome took the wind out of the sails of the fans, but it was clearly a double pin, so Bischoff made the right call and fans in the arena couldn't help but agree.
When Bischoff smiled and told Michaels he hasn't had much luck lately, Michaels backed him into the corner. Flair then grabbed Michaels. Michaels gave Flair a superkick and then knocked Bischoff out of the ring. Bischoff got up and fired Michaels for laying his hands on him. Ross said you can't fire a man in his own hometown. Austin came out and said he has returned under his own conditions. He said he is giving Michaels his job back and giving him a rematch. He said, "There is a new sheriff in town." He gave Bischoff a Stunner to end the show. Ross yelled, "Monday Night Raw may never be the same! My whatta night!" It's not often Raw is called "Monday Night Raw." Ross was really wrapped up in the moment, apparently (although I've never understood why they haven't gone back to calling it that).
The show closed with a good cliffhanger for next week as viewers await an explanation for what Austin's role in WWE is officially at this point.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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