March 15, 2005
Raw: A retro kind of night
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
It's a "Pick Your Poison" kind of night on Raw, where the Atlanta fans will get to see Triple H take on an opponent hand-picked by Batista. And that opponent is none other than quasi-hometown boy Chris Benoit. Raw is live from the former home of WCW, still on Spike TV ... for now.
As we do every couple of weeks, we kick off the show with Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel. Along with the obscenely expensive Jeritron 5000 and his usual props, Y2J also has a ladder in the ring. He's perched symbolically on top to talk about how he plans to win the Money in the Bank Ladder Match at WrestleMania and go on to recapture the world heavyweight title. Of course, he also has a guest, and tonight it's Randy Orton. Jericho wants to know what makes him think he can actually beat the Undertaker at Mania; Randy says he needs to break The Phenom's streak to ensure he'll be in the Hall of Fame down the road. The Legend Killer also promises a surprise for 'Taker at the contract signing on this week's Smackdown. Speaking of surprises, Jericho has one for Orton as he introduces Georgia's own Jake "The Snake" Roberts -- or what's left of him. Roberts tells Orton that he knew and respected Orton's dad and grandfather, so he's here as a favor to reintroduce Randy's brain to his mouth. Jake thinks young Orton might be biting off more than he can chew, but Randy retorts that Roberts should know what it's like to lose to Undertaker since he did so at WrestleMania VIII. On top of that, Orton promises to make a bigger impact than Jake did during his entire career. That doesn't sit too well with The Snake, who goes for Damian, then drops Orton with a short-arm clothesline when the Legend Killer makes it physical. The crowd anticipates the DDT, but Orton counters with an RKO. Thanks for playing Jake -- there are some lovely parting gifts for you on your way out.
Match 1 - Kane vs. Christian and Tyson Tomko
A quick observation: it's pretty hard to take either Christian or Tomko seriously when they can't beat one guy in a handicap match. Some distraction and ambush tactics don't work at the start of the match, but Tomko's big boot finally gets the duo some momentum. Christian tries to wrap the Big Red Machine's legs around the post but has that tactic blow up in his face. Kane takes it to Tomko with a sidewalk slam and a jumping clothesline before finishing him with a choke slam. Christian tries to get some revenge by pulling a ladder out from under the ring, but Kane chases him up the ramp and uses the ladder to lay out the Problem Solver instead. Game, set, match.
Somewhere in the depths of the arena, Ric Flair tries his best to motivate Gene Snitsky for his meeting with Batista later tonight. As usual, Snitsky isn't articulate enough to figure out if it's working. Elsewhere, Lita gets Tajiri and William Regal to help Christy Hemme learn the proper way to throw powerful kicks, a lesson she learns well enough to accidentally drop Regal with a kick to the nether regions. And in the locker room, Old Home Night continues as Shawn Michaels convinces Marty Jannetty to prepare for his upcoming match with Kurt Angle by teaming with him tonight to take on La Resistance. It's a Rockers reunion, one night only, and there's no plate glass window in sight.
Match 2 - Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge
It's not 100 percent clear but I get the feeling this is a non-title match. It isn't much of a match at all at first, since Edge clobbers Benjamin from behind on the ramp and proceeds to have his way with the I-C champ down the ramp and all around ringside. Once they get in the ring, Benjamin tells the ref to start the match, then immediately gets kicked back out to the floor. Commercial time. Shelton isn't faring much better after the break, though he does shove Edge off the top rope and hits a top rope lariat for a near fall. More two counts are exchanged before Benjamin leapfrogs Edge's Spear and launches his spinning heel kick, but Edge ducks and the ref takes the shot. Edge escapes the t-bone suplex and connects with a Spear but the ref is still out. Smirking, Edge pulls the ladder out and sets up for something dastardly when Jericho runs down and catapults the ladder into Edge's face. Benjamin's second attempt at the t-bone hits and the ref revives just in time to count the pinfall.
Match 3 - The Rockers vs. La Resistance
There's a sentence I never thought I'd ever type. Someone needs to remind Jannetty that the '80s and early '90s are over -- no need for all those tassels on your ring gear. Some old school tandem offense sees The Rockers launch twin cross bodies to the floor, but Michaels is eventually low bridged by Robert Conway and the heels start to exert some control. HBK finds himself in trouble several times but Jannetty is Johnny on the spot to bail him out. Shawn finally manages a jumping forearm shot to Sylvain Grenier followed by a nip up and a rolling hot tag to his old partner. Marty fires off dropkicks and finishes his flurry with a Rocker Dropper to get the duke. Not bad -- I say put the tag team belts back on them because it can't possibly hurt a tag scene that's about as depressing as it's ever been.
Much to Triple H's chagrin, Flair reminds him that it's the one-year anniversary of him tapping out to Benoit at WrestleMania XX. No matter though, because The Game will get a chance to avenge that loss tonight. Backstage, Maria asks Trish Stratus if she's impressed that Hemme has Lita as a trainer (surprise: she's not) and says last week's Twist of Fate was a powerful message. The women's champ sends a message of her own by thrashing Maria. And finally, Flair is still psyching up Snitsky when Batista drops by and shows he's not too impressed with "Gene." Amusingly, Big Dave largely ignores Flair's ensuing rant.
Match 4 - Triple H vs. Chris Benoit
It's a match so big, we have to have a commercial break between the wrestler intros. Early mat wrestling sees Benoit keeping the world champ grounded and trying for an early Sharpshooter and Crippler Crossface. The Game makes his way to the ropes each time and regroups with Flair on the floor. Benoit turns to a more direct assault and batters his foe until Trips can toss Benoit out of the ring to usher in our second commercial break. Helmsley finally finds his rhythm with a spine buster and a hard Irish whip for a pair of two counts. Both men go up top, but it's HHH who scores with a superplex. His next move is countered with a catapult; Benoit follows with three rolling German suplexes. Three more Germans set up the diving head butt, but The Game kicks out at two. Two more German suplexes (that's eight total now) and some mounted corner punches land, but Triple H fights back with another hard whip and covers for a near fall. A series of reversals ends with a Crippler Crossface, forcing Flair to distract the ref. Benoit hits his ninth German suplex and reverses a Pedigree into a Sharpshooter -- now Flair is on the apron. Earl Hebner gives him the heave-ho, but Trips uses the commotion to land a sneaky low blow and hit a Pedigree to finish off The Crippler.
The Smackdown Rebound is a busy one, with JBL detonating John Cena's "spinner" U.S. title belt and presenting the old belt to Orlando Jordan. But Cena gets his revenge later with help from his sidekick, the metal pipe. Read a slightly more detailed (and much more humorous) account by reading Dale Plummer's Smackdown report. Next up is the latest in the WWE's excellent movie-themed promos for WrestleMania 21. This week it's When Harry Met Sally with Christy Hemme in the Meg Ryan role and Kurt Angle as Billy Crystal. I shouldn't have to tell you what scene they do. Here's a hint: it involves "faking."
J.R. and The King run down the WrestleMania card as it currently stands, but one person isn't involved in the show right now, and that person is the very vocal Muhammad Hassan. He and Daivari blame racism for his exclusion and vow once again that the matter isn't finished as far as they are concerned. And in the back, Hemme makes Lita promise to train her well enough to "beat that bitch" right before Lita walks away and runs into Edge. I mean Snitsky! Sorry, I'm not sure why it came out like that.
Main Event - Batista vs. Gene Snitsky
Triple H and Flair are ringside but it seems the sledgehammer has opted for safer ground after what happened at the end of last week's show. Nothing really exciting happens for the few minutes of action between the two giants, and Batista is looking for his finisher after a clothesline and spine buster combo. Sadly, Flair jumps in and uses a chop block to get the match thrown out by the ref. It looks like it will be three on one, and Flair and HHH get chairs to tilt the odds even further in their favor. All looks bleak until Kane runs down and pummels Snitsky, giving Batista an opening to spine buster Flair and hit his Batista Bomb on Gene. The Game, who has retreated to the safety of the ramp, announces that he's just picked Dave's poison for next Monday in the form of Kane. Batista and the Big Red Machine engage in a slightly confused staredown as Raw fades out.
Next week: Batista faces Kane, and Hassan and Daivari declare it's still not over!
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's awarding extra special bonus points to the first reader to e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org< to tell him when Michaels and Jannetty buried the hatchet (on camera, that is), because he remembers the last run for The Rockers ending pretty violently.