TV REPORTS KELLER'S 10/25 WWE Raw review: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live show
Oct 25, 2004 - 10:07:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
OCTOBER 25, 2004
LIVE FROM DES MOINES, IOWA
-The show opened strangely as they went, without any introduction or context, into a long, eight minute highlight package from Taboo Tuesday's Eric Bischoff vs. Eugene match including the extended post-match bit with Vince McMahon forcing Coach to strip to his underwear and then put on a dress while making fun of Eric Bischoff's grey hair as Eugene shaved him to a crew cut (but not bald).
-Eric Bischoff's music played live as he walked out to the ring. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. Lawler said he had as much fun at Taboo Tuesday as any previous WWE PPV. Bischoff, wearing a leather cap, said he was hired as G.M. to change Raw. He said instead he has been subject to terrible things, including being shaved by his nephew Eugene. He took off his cap revealing a crew cut haircut. Again, not bald, as WWE explicitly promised in the fan balloting. He said he was giving himself the night off. Short and to the point.
-Ross plugged that new Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin was coming up later.
-Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair walked to the ring as Ross and Lawler talked about how each fared at the PPV. Hunter said that power can be intoxicating, as fans found out last week at Taboo Tuesday. He said tonight Bischoff had given him the power to run Raw this week. He said, "Might makes right, and that means Evolution is in charge because there is no one back there who can tell us any different... You're in store for one hell of a night." He called Flair his best friend that he could have anything he wanted. There was no acknowledgment of his overt sign of mutual respect with Randy Orton after last week's PPV cage match. Flair said he wanted Orton again. Flair said he is still a legend and Orton is a "punk kid who is lucky to be able to walk the aisle." Flair went on for another minute, then Hunter granted him his wish.
Orton stepped out and said he doesn't take orders from anybody. He said he wanted a World Title shot. Hunter said he's in a good mood and will humor him. He said he can have the World Title he shot he asked for. Orton smiled, as if he were too naive to know there'd be a catch. Hunter said, "Wait. Provided you can beat The Nature Boy again." Orton said, "I beat him before, I can beat him again." Flair freaked out. Orton said, "You say to be The Man, you have to beat The Man? I beat The Man last Tuesday, so what does that make me? The Man!" Hunter told Orton to pencil him in as the challenger at Survivor Series. He added, "Let's say you lose, then let's say you never get a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship again as long as I am champ." He said he planned to be champion for a long time. Flair screamed at Orton that real Legend Killers don't back down. Hunter asked him if he wanted to let it all ride. Orton told Hunter he had a deal.
-Ross and Lawler discussed the ramifications of what just happened. They then talked about Taboo Tuesday and showed results of the IC Title match voting. A clip aired of Benjamin scoring the pin on Jericho.
1 -- SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. CHRIS JERICHO -- IC Title match
The drawing power of a title is in great part perception, and perception is dictated in great part based on how it's portrayed on TV and by announcers. The fact that they were having an IC Title rematch with Benjamin vs. Jericho on Raw, but they didn't bother to mention it specifically until Jericho's ring entrance diminishes what could have been portrayed as a major happening. Instead, it seems less important than Bischoff getting his head shaved, McMahon getting TV time doing his stand-up routine, and Hunter setting the stage for Flair vs. Orton. All they had to do is open the show with a video package, about 15 seconds long, that announced there would be a major IC Title defense on Raw with the new champion defending against the old. They could have been specific in mentioning names, or been vague so those who didn't see or hear about Taboo Tuesday would have stayed tuned to find out details. In any case, throwing it out there cold demeans the title, it demeans potential future top star Benjamin, and potential current top star Jericho. Ross said of the 4 million who voted for Taboo Tuesday, almost a million votes came from the UK alone. Ross talked about Benjamin's credentials. They cut to a break at 2:30 after some early back and forth with armbars by Benjamin, Benjamin splashing into the corner by hitting the ringpost when Jericho moved, and then Jericho diving onto Benjamin at ringside.
Lawler and Ross continued to rave about Taboo Tuesday, especially to Lawler who made it sounds as if it was the talk of the country. Benjamin scored a near fall with a Northern Lights Suplex. If Jericho actually lifted a shoulder, the camera didn't catch it, making Ross hesitate when calling it. Benjamin then hit a top rope sunset flip. Jericho rolled through it and went for the Walls of Jericho. He almost went into a Styles Clash. Benjamin then rolled Jericho into a small package type counter move for the leverage pin. Ross called it one of the most amazing counters he's ever seen. Jericho offered his handshake again to Benjamin. Benjamin kept an eye on Jericho as he left the ring. It's intriguing to see where they go with Jericho's character now that he's lost two in a row clean to the younger Benjamin. I don't necessarily have faith it will lead to anything with Jericho, though. It may be simply a further effort to elevate Benjamin. Christian then attacked Benjamin from behind and gave him an Unprettier.
WINNER: Benjamin at 7:55 to retain the IC Title.
STAR RATING: *3/4 -- Okay short match. Just average.
-They showed Coach and Bischoff drinking backstage and watching Raw on a monitor.
-Flair, Batista, and Hunter talked to Christy backstage. Flair suggested they party. She said they already had plans. Jericho walked by them, looking dejected. Hunter got in his face and told him he needs to learn. The sound went out for a few seconds. (Apparently Vince McMahon is normally in charge of sound). Maven walked in and stood next to Jericho. Then Chris Benoit joined in and asked if there was a problem. Rhyno, Tajiri, Rosey, and Hurricane also stepped into the room. Hunter led Evolution out of the room saying "there's no problem here."
-Ross and Lawler plugged an interview with Shawn Michaels would be upcoming. A recap aired of Edge's evening at Taboo Tuesday from start to finish.
-An enraged Edge said because of those six person who didn't vote for him to give him the title shot, his life has changed. He said the people take him for granted. He said the people could have seen him holding the World Title belt over his head. He said instead he will return to Raw when he is "good and ready."
-Jim Ross stood in mid-ring and introduced Shawn Michaels, talking about how close he came to winning the World Title and then went on to have knee surgery. Michaels came to the ring on crutches. I don't remember Ross's face looking better since his Bell's Palsy paralyzed part of his face. His reduced hours and ability to spend more time at his home office in Oklahoma rather than working out of Stamford might be reducing his stress level that is responsible for recurrences of the Bell's Palsy. Ross handed Michaels the mic and left the ring. Michaels commended himself for dragging himself to work despite just having surgery. He should have stolen a line from Bill Clinton from earlier and said something about the ovation making his "heart... uh, I mean my knee feel better." Michaels said he thinks Taboo Tuesday was great because WWE let the fans have an influence on what happened at the PPV. Michaels said the reason the wrestlers do what they do is their love for the roar of the crowd and that feeling you get when the adrenaline courses through their bodies, making them do things no sane man would think of doing. He said the business has lost something, but he still gets that rush from the fans. He said the fans knew he wasn't 100 percent, but they still wanted to see him face Hunter one more time. He said people asked him why he'd risk his health and wrestle. He said he didn't do it because he has a John Wayne complex or to impress people in the back. He said he has a family, including two babies, that he has to take care of. He said he did it because the fans voted for him, so he didn't see how he could let them down. "For whatever it's worth, I gave you me," he said. He vowed to work hard to return. "Taboo Tuesday reminded me what it's about," he said. "It's about you. It's about you. From the bottom of my heart, I want to say thank you. Good night." Ross said he can't imagine how it could be said better or more sincerely. I don't know about the sincere part, but it was said very well. Ross said he hoped every WWE superstar heard every word Michaels said. "There will never be another Shawn Michaels, in my eyes," Ross added. It was a very good, old-school babyface promo. The fact that Michaels can get away with being so sappy and have the fans respond positively and without skepticism is a real credit to his in-ring work over the years. He really cemented himself as a top star in WWE with that speech as he takes off a number of weeks to recover from the surgery.
-Todd Grisham interviewed Maven. He said if the inmates are running the asylum, he's throwing out the rulebook. Batista interrupted. He said he was going to issue a challenge. Maven said he was ready to make an impact. He said no one was better to make it on than him. Batista laughed and shook his head, saying he isn't worth his time or energy. Maven slapped him and ran to the ring. It let to an impromptu match.
2 -- BATISTA vs. MAVEN
Batista pretty much just overpowered Maven in the early minutes at every turn. Maven went for his top rope dropkick, but Batista swatted him out of mid-air. When Batista listed Batista for his powerbomb, Maven slid into a sunset pin for the upset win. When Batista chased down a battered Maven on the rampway, Benoit and Jericho stepped out to make sure Maven could return to the back safely. Ross said the Evolution uprising has been slowed.
STAR RATING: 3/4* -- Short, and despite the finish, I'm not sure it did a lot for Maven to be dominated so thoroughly except for the lucky pin.
-The WWE Injured Reserve crew (Christopher Nowinski, Garrison Cade, Mark Henry) talked about their latest Smackdown the Vote efforts at a recent event.
-Clips aired of the Gene Snitsky-Kane match and post-match attack at Taboo Tuesday.
3 -- GENE SNITSKY vs. WILLIAM REGAL
Snitsky attacked Regal at ringside, ramming his back into the ring apron. Snitsky won quickly and easily with a pump-handle slam. At least Regal, with his political influence, isn't immune to being destroyed by the latest monster getting a push. Eugene ran down to check on Regal as Snitsky said on the house mic that what he did to Regal was nothing compared to what he did to Kane at Taboo Tuesday. He said he did what no man had done before - he destroyed Kane. He said he'd destroy anyone else in the Raw locker room. He said that while it wasn't his fault that Lita lost her baby, the further destruction he causes will be his fault.
WINNER: Snitsky at 0:26.
STAR RATING: 1/4*
-They showed Coach and Bischoff hanging out backstage on a couch, drinking and laughing. It looks like the start of a porn movie I don't want to see.
-Trish gave Lita some insincere backhanded compliments, suggesting she ruined the careers of both Matt Hardy and Kane, and then said "as a friend, you should be concerned about your pregnancy weight, because you're looking a little chubby." Lita reacted with more rage to that comment than anything Kane did to her. She threw Trish onto a table backstage and began beating on her.
-The Smackdown Rebound aired including extended footage of the Smackdown tryouts.
-Hunter told Flair he cannot lose to Orton. Hunter said everyone who disrespected them would pay. Flair told Hunter to remember who they are.
4 -- RIC FLAIR vs. RANDY ORTON
The usual mix of moves you'd expect early with a lot of chop exchanges. At 3:45 Orton vertical suplexed Flair at ringside. Back in the ring Orton scored a near fall. Flair fought back, but did a face-first bump which the crowd liked. Flair sidestepped a charging Orton, who went shoulder-first into the ringpost. They cut to the final break of the show at 10:52 p.m.
Orton went for a top rope crossbody block, but Flair moved. Orton clutched one of his knees. Flair worked over his leg and applied a figure four. He worked over Orton's legs for a few minutes. When Orton made a comeback and gave Flair an RKO, Batista ran to the ring. Jericho, Maven, and Benoit attacked him. Meanwhile, with the ref preoccupied, Hunter nailed Orton with a vicious chairshot. Ross said Orton has been "screwed out of a World Title match as long as The Game is World Champion." As Hunter raised Flair's hand on the stage, Benoit, Maven, and Jericho stepped out onto the stage to confront them. Flair and Hunter begged off and walked backward to the ring and retreated toward the crowd. Hurricane, Rosey, and Eugene stopped him (begging the question: Why were they there?). Shelton Benjamin, Tajiri, and Rhyno blocked their other escape route through the crowd. They entered the ring. Flair backed up into Hunter. Flair got bug-eyed when he realized what was up. Orton gave him an RKO. All of the babyfaces shoved Hunter back into the ring. Hunter begged off as he was surrounded. He punched Maven. Benoit gave Hunter his German suplex series. Jericho hit a Lionsault. Orton then gave Hunter his RKO, but not before some trash-talking right to his face.
WINNER: Flair at 14:50.
STAR RATING: **
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