January 4, 2005
RAW: Elimination Chamber foes face off
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Happy Wrestling New Year! Fittingly for the current era of WWE product, we are just six days out from a pay-per-view, albeit one called New Year's Revolution that was just invented for this year. At least 2005 will begin with an interesting gimmick, as NYR will play host to a six-man Elimination Chamber Match for the world heavyweight championship. Triple H is, of course, the odds-on favorite to emerge with the strap, but with a new year comes new hope, so let's cross our fingers and check out the first Raw of '05, live from the home of Mick Foley, Long Island, New York.
Sometimes this job calls for sacrifice, and tonight your intrepid Raw reporter is giving up watching the Sugar Bowl even though a higher power sent word to me back in November that Auburn was going to win the college football national championship. But that's a story for another time. Last week, Eric Bischoff had the six Elimination Chamber contestants play Beat the Clock. This time out, he's letting them play "beat each other" with three one-on-one matches pitting Batista against Chris Benoit, Edge versus Jericho and for the first time in over three months, Triple H versus Randy Orton. We might as well get right to it then, eh?
Match 1 - Batista vs. Chris Benoit
Batista's power is on display right from the jump off, as he shrugs off a series of chops and foils Benoit's attempt for a Sharpshooter. He slips up when he pauses to expose the top turnbuckle, allowing the Wolverine to strike with three rolling German suplexes. Benoit climbs the ropes for his diving headbutt, but Batista wisely rolls out to the floor. Grabbing the Crippler off the top, Batista drops him with a modified fisherman's suplex and applies a half crab, then he strikes with a spinebuster after Benoit chops his way out. A Benoit enzuigiri leaves both men down, and the Canadian continues to apply pressure with a low dropkick, another suplex and a diving headbutt that earns a near fall. He looks for the win by reversing a spinebuster into the Crippler Crossface, but in a tremendous show of strength, Batista lifts him from the mat and bashes his head into the exposed turnbuckle. A Batista Bomb follows to make it game, set, match for Evolution's big man.
Backstage, Ric Flair is all excited telling Triple H about Batista's big win, while The Game tries to feign some enthusiasm of his own. Trips tells the big guy he knows he can count on him, but Dave is more interested in finding out if Helmsley is going to pay the 100 dollar bet he lost when Batista pinned his opponent in a faster time last Monday. Irked, Triple H tells Flair to pay the man, but Batista insists that he wants Hunter's money since he's the one who lost the bet. A furious HHH produces a Benjamin, but Batista tells him to lighten up and that he was just joking. Hey Dave, maybe next time you should make it more obvious by trying something like this... (said with a shrug and a big grin) I'm just kidding!
From the "in case you forgot" file comes a recap of Gene Snitsky crushing Kane's throat at Taboo Tuesday. Maria tries to get in a word with the deranged behemoth, but she flees in terror when he whispers a surprise to her. Or maybe it's the smell - I have it on good authority that Snitsky literally stinks. What's not surprising is that Snitsky vows to beat Kane again on Sunday, and that what happens tonight won't be his fault. Whatever. Elsewhere, Edge whines to Bischoff about Shawn Michaels being named the special guest referee at NYR, reasoning that HBK won't give him a fair shake since he cost Michaels the world title at Taboo Tuesday. That's probably true, but Bischoff says Edge's Spear took Michaels off of Raw for six weeks and cost him revenue, so he figures he needs to recoup by any means necessary. That's our Eric - always thinking about the bottom line. Or was that someone else?
Match 2 - Edge vs. Chris Jericho
Some mat wrestling opens the bout, with Edge the first to turn to some pro wrestling style aggression. A double clothesline leaves both men down on the outside and ushers in a commercial break, reminding us that some things won't change in the new year. Edge scores the first near fall with an armbar takedown, then it's all Jericho with a hurracanrana pin, a running enzuigiri, a Northern Lights suplex and more that score a series of two counts. Edge responds by meeting Jericho on the top rope, but gets shoved down and has to be quick to dodge a high cross body. Jericho leapfrogs a Spear, but Edge drops down during a victory roll and grabs the ropes to help get the three count.
Jonathan Coachman speaks about Triple H with Orton, who promises to take everything away from The Game in 2005. And in case you doubted it, Orton also swears he'll win tonight's match with an RKO.
Match 3 - Sylvain Grenier vs. Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin is distracted in the early going by the arrival of Maven, who, with respect to my colleague Dale Plummer (who says the same thing about Smackdown's Carlito Carribean Cool), is doing his best Rock Light impression in his new role as a heel. Apparently he will face Benjamin on Sunday for the Intercontinental belt, which is news to me. In any case, this match features an amusing moment when Grenier tries to nip up following a dropkick and fails, earning him a bit of derision from the crowd. Benjamin hits a spinning heel kick and follows with his t-bone suplex finisher to take the bout. Maven says he'll see Maven in six days, which is excellent math if nothing else.
Not to be confused with America's current number one movie, the next segment could be called Meet the Elimination Chamber. Then it's time for the debate over the treatment of Arab-Americans in the United States, pitting J.R. and The King against Muhammad Hassan and Daivari. I've been wondering what that guy's name was. Hassan earns the hatred of the L.I. fans by calling America a racist nation founded on slavery and claiming that many people used 9/11 as an excuse to showcase their prejudice. King admits that there are racists and idiots in every country, but thinks that the WWE fans hate Hassan and Daivari because they are obnoxious jackasses, not because they are Arab. Hassan takes the high road by insulting J.R.'s manhood and calling him a coward; Ross retorts that the duo should love America or leave it. A staredown ensues, and Hassan incites the crowd by dropping Ross with a big right hand to the gut. The Arab-Americans stomp the announcers with a double team, and Hassan bloodies Lawler with a few shots from the belt wrapped around his hand. They proceed to use the belt to choke J.R. for a minute or two, retreating when The King returns with his own belt wrapped around his fist. Hassan and Daivari soak in the boos coming from the crowd as we head to the break. The true horror of their attack comes a few minutes later though, when we learn that Coach will be announcing the next part of the show solo. Thanks a lot guys.
Match 4 - Trish Stratus vs. Victoria
Hey, there is another face female wrestler on the roster. I had almost forgotten. A relatively short match sees Victoria have her moments, but Stratus prevails with a Chick Kick to the back of the head. Trish tells Lita that she should take that as a preview of their upcoming match at NYR, but Lita comes to the ring so she can say it to her face. A brawl breaks out, with a pause coming when Kane's pyro goes off. It's Snitsky who appears though, and Stratus uses his distraction to smack Lita with a Chick Kick. Snitsky gets a chair and puts it on Lita's neck, but Kane arrives to prevent Beauty and the Beast (sorry Disney) from doing any permanent damage. Kane and Gene slug it out until Snitsky is able to escape into the crowd.
Clips from the WWE's last Elimination Chamber match take us back to the days when Goldberg still roamed the ring and Kevin Nash buzzed his hair. We also get a rundown of the NYR card, which thankfully now has more than three matches on it. In the back, Eugene crashes a Christy Hemme photo shoot and entertains the fiery redhead with his own rendition of Lindsay Lohan's "Rumors." William Regal tells Eugene to get ready for his match, then is caught redhanded getting down to Lohan on Eugene's headphones.
Match 5 - Eugene vs. Christian
Eugene shows us yet another classic WWE style by hitting Ultimate Warrior's gorilla press and splash, but Christian takes control by slowing the pace. A Rock Bottom isn't enough to stop Captain Charisma, who also escapes an airplane spin. Tyson Tomko clocks Regal on the outside, and Christian emerges froma series of pins and gets a little help from his problemn solver to get the duke.
More drama from the Evolution locker room, where Triple H tells Flair to come out with him but informs Batista he doesn't need his back-up since it's only one guy. The monster ensures The Game that he'll only come out if Orton really starts kicking his behind. When did Batista become such a comedian?
Main Event - Triple H vs. Randy Orton
Orton is on fire early, getting a two count with a clothesline and trying for an RKO that forces HHH to escape to the floor to regroup with Flair. A commercial comes and goes, leaving Orton raining mounted punches in the corner. Flair distracts Orton so his teammate can score with a guillotine, then the Nature Boy stomps on Orton out on the floor. Trips takes the fight back to the ring to work over Orton's ribs, following with a high knee for a near fall. Orton scores several near falls of his own before the match turns into a battle of sleeperholds. Triple H escapes by pulling the ref into Orton, allowing Flair to sneak him the ring bell. Orton ducks and gets in a bell shot of his own, but Batista and Benoit crash the party in short order. Michaels arrives to take over the referee's duties, and he's about to be speared by Edge when Jericho makes the save. Hunter gets in Shawn's face but turns around in time to nshove his way out of an RKO.
A Pedigree is countered with a bridging pin, and even though Trips kicks out, he can't do the same when the RKO finally connects. Orton stands triumphant as we head to New Year's Revolution, which means one thing: Triple H is probably going to win the belt back. Some things don't change with the calendar. Good night everyone - go Auburn!
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, but has only once had someone claim that God told him Auburn was going to win the national title. Discuss the ramifications of this "Joan of Arcadia-esque" experience at email@example.com.