April 5, 2005
Raw: The talk after WrestleMania
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
The day after WrestleMania is a great time to shake things up. Unfortunately, the location of tonight's show - the Staples Center in L.A., same as the big show on Sunday - might be a hint that the status quo is all we're going to get. Cross your fingers and hope for the best as Raw stays in Hollywood.
For those who may have missed it, the show begins with a video recap of WrestleMania 21. Remember the old days when all we would get is still shots because the WWE didn't want to discourage people from buying the re-air on Tuesday night? Yeah, they don't have to worry about that any more. I might be biased, but you can read a pretty decent recap by clicking here. In any case, Triple H ushers in the live part of tonight's broadcast by coming to the ring and admitting he lost the world heavyweight title to Batista. But never fear, as he has a rematch clause, and while Big Dave might have been great on one night, Trips doesn't think he'll be able to repeat his success a second time. And when he wins the title back, Helmsley promises to come back and shove the belt down all of the fans' throats. Kind of like you've been doing for the past few years, eh?
Match 1 - Shelton Benjamin (champion) vs. Christian (challenger) vs. Chris Jericho (challenger) - Intercontinental Title Match
The two faces start the match trying to one-up each other by beating on Christian, though Jericho makes sure their temporary alliance doesn't last long. His offense is derailed when Christian clocks him while attempting a springboard dropkick, leading to all three men collaborating in the corner on a cool power bomb/superplex combo spot. Jericho hits a flying forearm and a running enzuigiri but can't put Christian away; Benjamin hits his Stinger Splash on Jericho and guillotines Christian only to see Y2J revive in time to break the count. The I-C champ t-bones Jericho, but Tyson Tomko drags him out of the ring and clotheslines him to the floor. Captain Charisma and Y2J each have chances to win, but it's Jericho who's looking good when he locks the Walls of Jericho on Christian. Out of nowhere, Benjamin hits a springboard bulldog on Jericho to get the pin and retain his title.
General manager Eric Bischoff is watching the action backstage and points out to Edge what a big win Benjamin just picked up. Edge fires back that he picked up an even bigger win at WrestleMania by coming out on top in the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and he'd like to make his prize official by signing the contract that gives him a world heavyweight title shot any time during the next year. Once the signing is complete, Bischoff figures he should inform Batista that he'll be defending his new gold tonight. But not so fast: Edge tells Bischoff he'll be taking the title shot when he's good and ready. Since that's the case, the GM informs him that he'll be facing Chris Benoit tonight. Or what's left of him, since The Wolverine looked like he hurt his left arm at Mania.
A chorus of boos greets Randy Orton as he comes to the ring, looking a bit dejected since his bid to end The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania came up short. The Legend Killer says it wasn't supposed to happen this way, and he blames his (apparently real) shoulder injury for the Tombstone reversal that ended the match. To make matters worse, he had to watch Batista win the world title - a man he claims he doesn't respect. Calling Big Dave a running joke during their time together in Evolution, Orton figures he can make himself feel better by beating the new champ tonight. Bischoff immediately comes to the stage to point out that Randy is at least behind Edge and Triple H for title shots, but young Orton won't be denied. Eric backs off and says he can have Batista tonight, though my guess is that it isn't for the belt.
Match 2 - Christy Hemme vs. Trish Stratus - Women's Title Match
Because YOU demanded it, here's a rematch of Sunday's totally worthless women's championship bout. Actually, maybe not, since Trish drops Christy with a Chick Kick before the bell even has time to ring. Lita gets in Trish's face, which turns out not to be such a good idea when Stratus starts working over her injured knee. Three refs have to intervene, leaving me with this burning question: why?
Next on the menu is a complete replay of the Eugene-Hulk Hogan-Muhammad Hassan segment from WM 21. SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer already covered this here, so I can give my note-taking hand a rest. After a commercial break, we get another look at the Gladiator Mania trailer that starred Stone Cold Steve Austin as the titular character. Finally, we return to live action as Shawn Michaels limps his way down the ramp. He thanks the fans for their support, claiming that his family is the only other love in his life besides performing. Scaring me for a second into thinking he might be retiring, HBK puts my fears to rest by asking the fans if they would like to see a Michaels-Angle rematch, promising the result will be a little different next time. As we ponder that possibility, Michaels is interrupted by Raw's most frequent interrupters, Muhammad Hassan and Daivari. The Arab-Americans are in disbelief that people are saying that Michaels stole the show on Sunday, because after all, he lost his match. Hassan figures it's because losers love losers, which proves to be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back for Shawn. A melee ensues, and HBK ends up on the wrong end of a Jihad Drop and some kicks in the head by Daivari while helpless in the camel clutch.
Random thought of the evening: the scroll at the bottom of the screen is advertising that you can win autographed WrestleMania merchandise on ShopZone's auction site. I call dibs on that thing that Undertaker uses to float to the ring and his smoke machine. That should spook the trick-or-treaters next October.
Match 3 - Edge vs. Chris Benoit
Hey, I almost forgot this was a wrestling show. Benoit takes control early but has to frequently leave the ring to give his injured arm a break. That finally catches up with him when Edge drags him back in and slaps on a submission hold, but Benoit hits three rolling German suplexes to get some breathing room. He goes up top for the diving head butt, but Edge rolls away and sends him to the outside with a baseball slide. One commercial break later, Edge has another painful arm hold applied. Both men end up on the top rope for a Benoit superplex, which is followed by a Sharpshooter. Edge's second try for the ropes breaks the hold, but he quickly ends up in the Crippler Crossface. A single arm DDT proves to be an effective counter, though Benoit sidesteps the ensuing Spear and rolls Edge up for a surprising victory. Bitter as usual, Edge smacks Benoit's arm with a couple of steel chair shots. Dale, if you're reading, I think that might get Chris his vacation request.
Because there hasn't been enough filler on this show, Simon Dean and Maven are in the ring to promote some new Simon System products. Maven says L.A. must stand for lard asses, and Dean calls the fans out on their beer and nacho diet and defies anyone to come down and tell him different. The sound of shattering glass brings Austin to the ring to defend the honor of beer drinkers anywhere. The Rattlesnake proposes a beer for protein shake exchange, but Dean proves too girly for a brew and Austin finds the shake leaves a little something to be desired. Maven says the shake is a man's drink, but he goes a step too far when he pats his partner on the back, spilling a shake on Austin's chest. I'm sure you can guess what happens next. Yep, both Dean and Maven end up on the wrong end of Stone Cold Stunners and more beer drinking follows. This seems like the perfect role for Austin, as it only requires him to drink and beat up on mid-carders. Life is good for Steve.
Orton makes his way to the ring but bumps into Kane backstage. The Big Red Machine says I told you so (in those exact words) and repeats his theory that Randy can't beat what he doesn't understand. The Legend Killer claims he does understand, and Kane will realize when Batista goes down tonight. What does it say about Kane's character that his taunting of Orton has been the most entertaining thing he's done in the last year or so?
Main Event - Randy Orton vs. Batista
Nothing says this is for the title, so I'm still assuming it's not. It's almost 11 p.m. at the beginning of the match which guarantees it will be short. Batista shows off his strength until Orton dropkicks him out of the ring and throws him into the steps. Orton gets a few near falls back in the ring, but Batista rallies and hurls him into the ringpost twice, shoulder first. A spine buster leads to the thumbs down, signaling the end for Orton courtesy of a Batista Bomb. It makes you wonder if Orton is going on the shelf after getting buried like this. But that's a question for another week.
Next week: More of the same, no doubt. Austin beats up on anyone who isn't currently in a feud, Hassan complains about the prejudice of Americans and everyone tries to remember if there are still tag team titles laying around somewhere. Also the WWE considers changing Raw to an acronym standing for Rarely Actual Wrestling.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. In the spirit of hit movie Sin City, he let his pet rabbit, Sirius Black, fill in as guest writer for one segment of his report. Guesses as to which one it is can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.