20 YRS AGO – WWE Raw Reports (5-17-2004): The Rock interacts with Eugene in the ring, Lita vs. Trish, plus Orton, Batista, Flair, Edge, Kane, more

By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor

The Rock (artist Grant Gould © PWTorch)


The following report originally published 20 years ago this week here at PWTorch.com…

MAY 17, 2004

-After the Raw opening montage, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show and previewed the tag title match and battle royal.


Before the match, they replayed Trish tricking Lita into thinking Kane was coming up behind her. I still say that was hilarious. Lawler said Lita overreacted. When Trish made lite of her prank the week before, Lita attacked her. Trish, though, soon took control of the match. When Lawler told Ross a lot of people don’t know what a Jezibel is, Ross said they should read the Bible. At 3:00 Trish settled into a sleeper. Lita struggled to get out the entire time. She stood up and threw some elbows and finally escaped. Trish, though, reapplied the sleeper a minute later. Lita hit the Twist of Fate. Ross said, “It’s over.” To discerning viewers, of course, that guaranteed a kickout by Trish. Kane then came on the big screen and sung, “Lee-tah! Lee-tah!” Trish then rolled up a distracted Lita for the win.

WINNER: Trish in 6:00.

STAR RATING: * — Solid TV action.

-After the match Kane said he didn’t mean to distract her or cause her harm. He said he just wanted an answer, yes or no. He demanded she give him the answer tonight. “And you better pray it’s the right one.” I like how they’re using Kane now. He’s psychotic, but there aren’t the supernatural stunts that make it into a farcical horror show.

[Commercial Break]

-Randy Orton talked about how Evolution would make sure Triple H would win the battle royal and would go on to regain the World Hvt. Title at Bad Blood. Shelton Benjamin’s music interrupted. Benjamin asked Orton if he was saying “tonight is about Evolution and Triple H winning the battle royal?” Lawler wondered if Benjamin was hard of hearing. Benjamin reminded Orton that he beat Triple H twice. He then said he was going to win the battle royal and there was nothing he or Evolution could do about it. Orton told Benjamin he had luck, but luck runs out. He said he is no match for Triple H or himself. Benjamin challenged Orton to an IC Title match. Orton said, “Shelton, you sure are uppity. That’s the problem with you people. Give you an inch, you take a mile. Frankly, I wouldn’t soil the Intercontinental Title by defending it against you. The answer is no.” Benjamin said, “Since you won’t put up, trying getting up!” He then attacked Orton. He clotheslined him to the mat then hit a corner splash. Ric Flair yanked Orton out of the ring. Orton yelled at Benjamin, saying he has to prove himself first.

[Commercial Break]

-Backstage, Hunter, Flair, Batista, and Orton plotted. Elsewhere backstage, William Regal congratulated Eugene over his first victory. Eugene asked for another match. Regal said that might not be easy. Eric Bischoff walked up to them. Bischoff unconvincingly said he was proud of Eugene, then asked for a private word with Regal. Regal apologized to Bischoff for failing in his attempt to sabotage Eugene. Eugene began juggling two bowling pins in the background and trying to balance the pin on his nose. Bischoff told Regal a better approach is to try to humiliate him and show him to be the laughing stock that he is. He asked Regal to send Eugene to the ring for an interview alone. Regal asked what he had up his sleeve. Bischoff said that Eugene would never want to show his face around there again. Regal reacted as if he were turning against Bischoff and siding with Eugene.

-Lawler laughed that Shawn Michaels wouldn’t be in the battle royal this week. Clips aired of Hunter vs. Benjamin last week leading to Michaels’s run-in that prompted his suspension.

[Commercial Break]


WINNER: Kane in 1:00

STAR RATING: 1/4* — Kane fended off an initial Val flurry and chokeslammed for him for the clean win.

-After the match, Matt Hardy attacked Kane. After getting in some blows, Kane, largely unphased, chokeslammed Hardy, then set up upside down in the corner. “He’ll gut and quarter this kid,” said Ross. Kane choked Hardy with a cable. When the ref tried to tend to Hardy, Kane chased him away. Kane then choked Hardy with a chair until he passed out. Lita ran to the ring and begged him to stop, then said, “The answer is yes.” Kane released his death grip on Hardy. Lita ran to check on Hardy. Kane grabbed her and blew in her ear. Lita cringed. Kane then let go of her and left with a smile on his face. Lita tended to Hardy on the mat. “What has Lita said yes to,” asked Ross.

[Commercial Break]

3 — EDGE & CHRIS BENOIT vs. RANDY ORTON & BATISTA (w/Ric Flair) — WWE Tag Team Title match

Ross and Lawler stole the opening segment of this match with their tit-for-tat. When Lawler complimented Batista’s ripped muscles, Ross said it wasn’t a bodybuilding contest. Strangely, just 20 seconds earlier, Ross complimented Batista for being “ripped.” Ross said Orton has never met a mirror he didn’t like. Lawler said, “He’s not conceived, he’s convinced.” Ross admitted he’d rather look like Randy Orton. “Hell yeah, I would.” When Lawler said he could get all the women then, Ross said he was happily married. Lawler replied, “Maybe so, but your wife’s not.” The match itself began with Orton vs. Edge, then Benoit tagged in and chopped away at Orton. Orton tagged out to Batista. When there was some four-way action, they cut to a commercial.

[Commercial Break]

In the ring, Batista worked over Edge. Orton tagged in and continued to work over Edge. Edge came back with a catapult into the top turnbuckle. He then slammed Orton to the mat and scored a near fall. Ross said Edge should tag out of a fresh Benoit. Orton prevented an exhausted Edge from doing so. Edge, though, surprised Orton with a DDT at 12:00. The ref began counting both men down. Edge made the hot-tag to Benoit, who went to work on Orton with a snap suplex and hard chops. Ross called Benoit a “technical wrestling machine.” Benoit gave Orton a backbreaker and scored a two count. Batista distracted Benoit, giving Orton a chance to tease a comeback. Benoit, though, easily fended off Orton and put him in the Sharpshooter. Batista kicked Benoit from behind right away to break it up. Edge entered the ring to even the odds.

Benoit and Edge hit Orton with stereo elbows. Batista then clotheslined them from behind. Batista went for his powerbomb, but Benoit escaped and went for his Crossface. The ref then got knocked down. Edge beat on Batista at ringside as Benoit hit Orton with his three consecutive unreleased German suplex series. When Benoit went to the top rope, Flair tried to shove him off. Benoit fended off Flair, but then when he hit his top rope headbutt, he landed on a tag title belt on Orton’s chest. Orton draped his arm over Benoit and scored a very near fall. Benoit’s kickout popped the crowd. When Batista talked with Flair on the ring apron. Edge speared Batista and knocked Flair to the floor. Batista and Edge fought at ringside again. In the ring, Orton struggled to his feet, favoring his left arm, and picked up Benoit. Benoit, though, blocked Orton’s RKO and applied the Crippler Crossface. That drew another huge pop. Orton tapped out.

WINNERS: Benoit & Edge in 17:00 to retain the WWE Tag Titles.

STAR RATING: ***1/4 — Better than anything on Judgment Day. A bit rudimentary in the first half, although not in a bad way, just not in a spectacular way. The second half picked up with some clever spots that played well into the wrestlers’ signature moves and that popped the crowd well.

-Regal referred to Eugene as “Master Eugene.” Regal prepped Eugene on his interview. Eugene warmed up his voice. When he realized Regal wasn’t going to accompany him, Regal told him to be a man no matter what happens. Regal struggled with his conscience as he sent Eugene to the ring. He wished him luck. Lawler said he would need more than luck.

[Commercial Break]

-Todd Grisham interviewed Eugene in mid-ring. Coach interrupted. He told Eugene that his purpose on Raw is to be a laughing stock. “I mean, look at you. You’re an embarrassment, the way you dress, the way you act, and the way you smell. I am ashamed to be in the ring with you. You don’t belong here. The only reason you have a job is because you’re Eric Bischoff’s nephew.” Coach told Eugene that he doesn’t have any friends. He asked Eugene if he’s even ever kissed a girl. “What girl in her right mind would look at you twice, or even just once?” Coach asked. Coach told Eugene to go back to wherever he came from and tell his friends how close he came to realizing his dream. Then he corrected himself and said he doesn’t have any friends.

He yelled at Eugene to get out of the ring. Ross said it just wasn’t right. Just as Eugene made it to the stage, Rock’s music played and Rock made a surprise appearance. Ross screamed, “The fans can’t believe it. By god, I can’t believe it! What an electrifying moment!” I was wondering who they planned to put Coach in his place, and this was an ideal surprise. Eugene accompanied Rock to the ring. Coach looked worried. Rock said, “Eugene, you ain’t going nowhere.” Rock then interrupted himself to let loose with his “Finally…” catch phrase.

Rock said he was backstage hanging out with some friends when he heard Coach talking about “the people.” He said there is only one man who knows The People. Then Rock called Coach a “popcorn fart.” Rock told Eugene he is a fan of him and looked forward to meeting him. He said the fans really do like him. He got the crowd to chant “Eugene, Eugene” on command. Eugene clapped and smiled. Rock said it would be an honor to be his friend. Rock encouraged the crowd to chant “popcorn fart” at Coach. Lawler said the fans will do whatever Rock says. Coach interrupted and told Rock the last time he saw him, he was getting beat up at WrestleMania 20, so he has no right to be making fun of him.

Eugene interrupted Coach and said, “It doesn’t matter what you think.” The crowd popped. Rock laughed, but added that only he and Mick Foley get to borrow his catchphrases. Rock asked Eugene who his favorite wrestler was. Eugene surprised everyone by saying Triple H. Rock asked him why. Eugene said because they both like to play games. Rock said if Eugene likes to play games, then they’ll play games. He said it’s up to the crowd to see what game they play. He offered checkers. The crowd booed. Rock suggested dodge ball. More boos. Rock suggested, “How about we play Eugene kicks Coach’s candy ass all over Can Diego.”

Garrison Cade then attacked Rock from behind. Coach joined in with stomps. Eugene grabbed Coach and rammed his head into the turnbuckle. Rock fired back on Cade, who sold like he was being shot with a machine gun. Rock followed with a spinebuster. Then Eugene whipped Coach into a Rock forearm. Rock then gave Coach a Rock Bottom. The crowd went bananas as Rock set up the People’s Elbow. Rock invited Eugene to do the elbow. The crowd chanted, “Eugene, Eugene.” Eugene ripped off his jacket just as Rock had done with his shirt a moment earlier. Eugene hit his version of the elbow.

Rock then held Eugene’s arm in the air. Very fun segment. They’ve hit all the right notes with Eugene so far, and it would have been easy to screw up or demean his gimmick. Rock had one of his better WWE performances behind the mic in a while. He played really well off of Eugene.

[Commercial Break]

-The Smackdown recap aired.

-Introduction began for the battle royal, beginning with Triple H, then Maven and Chris Jericho.

[Commercial Break]

-The ring intros finished with Shelton Benjamin, Kane, Edge, and the other three Evolution members.

4 — 20 MAN BATTLE ROYAL for a Bad Blood World Title shot

Ross said Christian was a late scratch due to injury. Kane threw out Johnny Nitro first, then Steven Richards and Rosey. I guess they realize how boring battle royals tend to be, since they cut to a commercial about a minute into it.

[Commercial Break]

They showed a clip of Maven eliminating Rob Conway during the break. Val Venis attempted to eliminate Maven, but Triple H came up behind them and eliminated both. As Jericho attempted to eliminate Hunter, Batista clubbed Jericho from behind to stop the effort. Jericho eliminated Sylvain Grenier. Jericho skinned the cat back in the ring, then eliminated Garrison Cade. Batista eliminated Rhyno and then Hurricane. They cut to yet another commercial break. Just nine minutes into the battle royal. This is like watching the last two minutes of a close NBA game on TV.

[Commercial Break]

It came down to babyfaces Jericho, Edge, and Benjamin along with Evolution and Kane. Kane beat on Orton as Jericho chopped away at Flair. Batista eliminated Jericho, who landed on the stairs at ringside. Kane whipped Hunter into the ropes, but he forgot to actually whip Hunter, which made Hunter have to run all by himself into the ropes and rebound into Kane. That looked bad. Kane shouldn’t be so sloppy. Kane chokeslammed Hunter, then Orton, then Edge, then Benjamin. The crowd popped as Kane and Batista squared off. Kane threw the first punch. Batista fired back.

After several more punches, Batista threw a knee lift. Kane set up a chokeslam. Batista powered out. Batista whipped Kane into the ropes (and remembered to whip him) and then gave him a spinebuster. Edge then eliminated Batista, worn out from his battle with Kane. Edge then gave Hunter a Spear. Kane followed up with a spear on Batista. Edge then flew at Orton with a Spear, but Orton ducked. Edge flew over the top rope. Edge caught himself, but Orton kicked him to the floor, literally taking the wind out of the crowd’s sails (the inclusion of the word “literally” was a tribute to our favorite wrestling announcers over the years).

That left Kane, Orton, Hunter, and Benjamin. Hunter hit Benjamin with a high knee. Orton and Hunter tried to eliminate Benjamin, but he held onto the top rope with his arm and then his leg. Nice sequence. Back in the ring, Benjamin dove onto Hunter and Orton. He threw punches at both of them, then took them both down with a clothesline. Kane finally rose, but Benjamin hit him with a wheel kick. Benjamin then backdropped Orton over the top rope at 21:00. That drew a nice crowd pop.

Benjamin then splashed Kane in the corner twice. Kane, though, caught Benjamin with a throat-grab. Hunter low-blowed Kane from behind, then tossed Benjamin over the top rope. That left two heels, Hunter and Kane. Ross declared Hunter was going to win because Kane was hurt, which gave away to discerning viewers that Kane was going to win since announcers never proclaim finishes accurately ahead of time. Shawn Michaels charged to the ring, beat up Hunter, and then clotheslined him over the top rope. Kane was announced as the winner. Lawler said Michaels was suspended and that wasn’t fair. Michaels retreated through the crowd.

WINNER: Kane in 23:00.

STAR RATING: ***3/4 — Masterfully booked battle royal that effectively gave a spotlight moment to all of the bigger names. The drawback was the finish, which made a mockery of the match. If anyone can enter the ring (or re-enter the ring) and beat up anyone, why didn’t Batista, Flair, and Orton just enter the ring and eliminate Kane when it came down to Hunter vs. Kane? There had to be a better way to accomplish the same thing without the ref just allowed the suspended Michaels who wasn’t even in the match to determine the outcome.

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