LIVE from Fort Worth, Texas on the final Raw stop on the road to Wrestlemania! [Sign:
Promised for tonight:
But Chris Jericho is in the ring with the OBSCENELY expensive Jeritron 5000 and the Highlight Reel set-up! We’re only six days away from the biggest event in WWE history, Wrestlemania 21, and the anticipation is even bigger than the entire state of Texas. “It’s a night when dreams come true, when men can becoem legends, when history is made. And I know about making history because I did it when I became the very first undisputed champion, and I’m gonna doi t again when I climb the ladder, grab the briefcase, and win the very first six-man Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania 21. I’m gonna open the briefcase, sign the contract, and get a chance at a one-on-one shot at the World Champion, anytime for one full year. And I’ve been a champion before, and I know what it feels like. And I want to feel it again. I crave it. I hunger for it. I hunger for it more than any other Superstar that’s in this match, and that brings me to my guests tonight, two of my opponents in the Money in the Bank match. Ladies and gentlemen, Jerichoholics of all ages, my first guest, the rabid wolverine, Chris Benoit!”
Out he comes. He shakes the hand and grabs the stick. Jericho takes it back. “And my second guest is the Intercontinental champion, Shelton Benjamin!
Out comes Shelton with his belt and his T-shirt. I can’t be the only one who would buy a T-shirt that simply says “Mister Benjamin.”
Jericho is glad they could join him on THR, because there’s a mutual respect and friendship among them. He wants to tell them both that this match is every-man-for-himself, and he’s going to do anything that he has to do to win. He’ll do it to Shelton, and he’ll do it to Benoit.
Benoit says that’s fine. HE does have a problem, though, that he is the hungriest competitor to win. Last year, Benoit stood in the ring at WMXX World Heavyweight Champion. “And there is no greater feeling. And I’ll do just about anything, anything, to relive that feeling.” Benoit knows ladder matches are dangerous – hell, he almost broke his neck in one of them – but there’s nobody hungrier than Chris Benoit, according to Chris Benoit.
Shelton: “Whoa. Whoa. No offense, Chris, but just because you overcame a broken neck doesn’t make you the hungriest, the most willing to do whatever it takes to win this match. You’ve both been world champion, and I never have. So that puts me beyond hunger. Hell, I’m STARVING.” Pop. “And unlike anyone else in this match, I’m the only one who currently knows something about being champion.” He holds up the IC belt.
Christian’s music hits! Business is about to pick up. Captain Charisma is accompanied by Tyson Tomko. He starts to saunter out. “You know, your’e all out here talking about being hungry, but you don’t look hungry to me. In fact, you look full. Full of CRAP!” [“You suck!”] “You see, no one’s got more incentive to win the Money in the Bank ladder match at Wrestlemania than me. ‘Cause nobody’s picking me to win. Just like nobody picked me to win last year at Wrestlemania, when I beat YOU, Y2J, remember that? You see, I’m at my best when my back’s against the wall.” He asks the others in the ring to picture what he’d do after winning his first World Title. Shelton: “Probably get yo’ ass WHOOPED by Triple H or Batista.”
The feed cuts out here, and we go to an ad for Future Shop. Something’s wrong here. Everyone’s in the ring looking at each other as we cut out.
Edge is in the ring when we return, and Benoit is glaring at him. Benoit: “Not if I break yours first!” I guess it was a comment about breaking a neck. It’s a Pier VI brawl. The faces all dump the heels, and we head to an Ad Break for real.
By royal decree of Eric Bischoff, this is now a six-man tag-team match, and we didn’t even get to see the start of it!
Match #1: Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit & Shelton Benjamin vs Christian, Tyson Tomko & Edge
JIP. Jericho and Christian are legal when we return, and Y2J gets a forearm and some punches. He gets a whip and a back elbow. Jericho hits a stalling vertical suplex. ARROGANT COVER gets two. He tags Shelton. Shelton uses a kick, two forearms, and a headlock. Christian sends him into the ropes. Shelton leapfrogs, Christian leapfrogs, Shelton ducks a clothesline, and Shelton hits a shoulderblock for two. Shelton with another headlock, but Christian takes it to the evil corner, and Tomko tags in. Tomko uses some hard straight punches. He throws Shelton in the corner, but walks into a kick, and Shelton punches all three heels and throws a flurry of rights at Tomko. Tomko reverses a whip, though, and hits a big slam and some mounted punches. Tomko uses a blatant choke before getting admonished by Senior Official Earl Hebner. He covers for two and tags in Edge. Edge gets some punches and a blatant choke on the second rope. He taunts the faces as Christian gets a cheap shot behind Hebner’s back. Edge gets a vertical suplex for two. Edge picks Shelton up and tags Christian. Christian gets a kick and a whip, but Shelton hits a running cross body for two. Christian murders him with a clothesline for two, though. Christian goes to a front facelock. Shelton fights his way back to his feet. Christian thinks DDT, then lands on his feet instead and hits Benoit to distract the ref, then throws Benjamin into the evil corner for some triple-teaming. Edge tags in and hits a snap mare into a chinlock. JR puts over how dangerous the ladder match is, and the possibility of someone getting hurt. Shelton gets up and elbows out. He sends Edge up against the ropes and thinks rollup, but Edge elbows him off. Then he runs into a double-clothesline, and it’s double-KO time. Shelton crawls to the face corner… hot tag Benoit! Clotheslines for all three heels. Snap suplex to Edge! Snap suplex to Christian! Ducks a clothesline from Edge, double-leg takedown, Sharpshooter! And Christian breaks it up, but that earns him a German! And two more. Benoit heads up, but Tomko distracts him, and Edge crotches him up top. Edge heads up top as Benoit’s bleeding already, and he hits a superplex. And after that climactic moment, let’s go to an Ad Break! (~6:26)
Ad Break ends (9:00)
Christian has Benoit in a chinlock when we return. We learn that Benoit was busted open by a headbutt that he gave to Tomko earlier. He breaks it and hits an elbowdrop for two. Back to the chinlock, but Benoit gets to his feet and chops out. The crimson mask intensifies! But he runs the ropes into a shoulderblock from Christian for two. Shelton breaks the count. Christian puts Benoit up top for another superplex, but Benoit headbutts him off and the crowd is ERUPTING. Benoit knows what this means… headbutt! Double-KO. Tomko tags in… and HOT TAG JERICHO! Clothesline for Tomko! He runs on Tomko’s back, hits the springboard dropkick on Edge, and gets the Y2J Stinger on Tomko for two. Christian broke up the count, so Shelton punches him and they brawl on the outside. But Tomko gets a press on Jericho. He tries the press slam, but Jericho slips out the back door. Tomko bails to the corner, where Jerichio charges into an elbow. Edge lines up the spear, but Jericho dodges, and he gets Tomko! Shelton tries to hit the leg lariat on Edge, but he ducks, and Benoit eats it! Inverted DDT from Christian to EDGE! Boot from Tomko to Shelton! But Jericho comes from behind, and he gets Tomko in the Walls, and son of a gun, they’re both legal! Tomko taps!
Winners: Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho & Shelton Benjamin via submission (12:37)
But Christian was camping outside the ring, and he grabs the ladder and starts to line up his victims when he’s interrupted by PYRO.
Kane is here! The sixth man is ready to make a statement. Christian puts the ladder up, and Kane quickly boots it in his face. Kane gets the ladder and runs over Shelton and Jericho with it. He nails Tomko with it. Edge gets up and walks direcetly into a chokeslam. He looks up at the prize, then sets up the ladder again. He starts to climb, and gets about two-thirds of the way up before lighting the ringposts on fire. He smiles and laughs as he looks at the wreckage below. Of note, the ladder is set up directly on top of Edge, for those of you who believe in the “whoever gets the short end of the stick on Raw always wins at the PPV” theory.
We run through tonight’s card again.
Wrestlemania goes Hollywood in six days!
Yes, that’s this Sunday! King is sporting the official Wrestlemania 21 baseball jersey. And they’re kind enough to show the When Harry Met Sally WM promo, which I missed. And you can vote on the Movie Trailer Awards on the official WWE site.
Backstage, Batista is in a pinstriped suit, reading. Eric Bischoff barges in, and he has a choice. He tells Batista that there can be no physical conflict in his faceoff with HHH, because if anything happens like what just happened in the six-man tag, there could be an injury, and since we’re only six days away from Wrestlemania 21, we can’t have any of that. Batista: “Well, then HHH better make sure he doesn’t get injured.” Bischoff is about to outline the consequences of starting a fight when Batista says he knows. But he promises that if HHH starts something, he’ll finish it.
Bischoff brings up Batista’s comment that he’d be a great used car salesman, and says that he can make Batista into the next Hollywood star if he wants. Batista says Bischoff reminds him of a character from one of his favorite movies, Pulp Fiction. Bischoff is flattered: Travolta? Willis? Batista says that Bischoff reminds him of the Gimp. He pats him on the chest and walks off.
Christy Hemme is walking to the ring for an arm-wrestling match – next!
Christy & Lita hit the ring, followed by Trish Stratus, who gets a decent pop. King notes she’s holding the title upside down. The table is set up. Referee Jack Doan runs down the rules: get pinned for three and you lose. They start to line up, but Trish breaks and does some curls with the women’s title belt, then does the Scott Steiner pose!
Christy wins in less than a second. Trish demands a rematch. Same thing happens.
So Trish hits Lilian. While Lita looks over Lilian, Trish kicks her, then backs away from Christy and heads up the ramp with the title. They’ve done a good job building up to the match, I guess – how it actually turns out will be most interesting. Here’s hoping for the best.
Randy Orton is on his way to the ring to address us. JR hopes he’s going to apologize to Stacy Keibler.
Randy Orton comes out, doing the stalling, slower version of his pose at the top of the ramp. We get highlights of him RKOing Stacy Keibler last week.
He has the stick. Mixed reaction. “Last week, last week I asked Stacy Keibler a question. ‘Do you think that I can beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania?’ After I asked her that question, she hesitated. I didn’t. My message was made clear: you’re either with me, or you’re against me.” That gets some boos. He paces around and looks into the crowd. “You’re either with me, or you’re against me!” More boos. “Well Stacy, since you weren’t with me, you were a distraction, and I made a promise to myself ehading into Wrestlemania that I’m gonna eliminate all distractions. Now, I know why the Undertaker is undefeated at Wrestlemania. I know why ‘Cause all of his oponents in the future had themselves beat before they even got in teh ring. They were scared to death! They were scared to death of the Undertaker. Well that is not me. I am not scared. I’ve seen my future. And it doesn’t involve a headstone. It involves a Hall of Fame plaque. A Hall of Fame plaque, and that plaque says, ‘Randy Orton, third-generation superstar, the youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history,’ and at the bottom of that plaque it says, ‘Randy Orton, also the only man to defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania.'” Pause. “Years from now, people will be talking about my undefeated streak. It all started last year, Wrestlemania XX, Rock, Mick Foley, YOU FELL to Randy Orton! And this year, it continues with the Undertaker! Taker, you can’t fight the future, and you can’t beat Randy Orton, Legend… Killer.”
BONG! Lights go out. Static. Undertaker video plays, and it’s a countdown featuring highlights from his WM matches. 12: Kane. 11. A-Train & Nathan Jones. 10: Ric Flair. 9: Triple H. 8: Big Boss Man. 7: Kane the first time. 6: Sid. 5: Diesel. 4: King Kong Bundy. 3: Giant Gonzalez. 2: Jake Roberts. 1: Jimmy Snuka. Countdown again…. and it says “ORTON.” “Randy Orton, rest… in… peace.”
Orton is somewhat distraught by the promo. He looks around as the ring is blue and there are spotlights on him. And BAM, a wall of fire pops up on the outside. And the ringposts catch on fire! Play Undertaker’s music. Orton is scared. Orton heads outside and looks at the burning ringposts.
Randy Orton is walking out, looking over his shoulder at every turn. “Ran-dy… RAN-dy…” It’s Kane! Kane, a veteran of battles with Undertaker, tells Orton he’s in trouble. “Your mouth says one thing, but your eyes say something else. You see, two times I faced my brother at WM, and two times, I was lucky to escape with my soul. You have no idea what you’re getting into, and you can’t beat what you don’t understand.” Orton: “I understand what I have to do.” “Is that right?” “Yes.” “Well talking isn’t gonna cut it, Randy. If you want to show the Undertaker that you’re not afraid of him, heheheheh, Mr. Legend-Killer, you’ve got six days to prove it. Hehehehahahaha!” He pats him on the shoulder and walks off.
Match #2: Simon Dean & Maven vs La Résistance vs William Regal & Tajiri
First team to score a pinfall wins. “USA” chant for the all-American faces. I guess Maven and Simon are your faces. Simon and Tajiri start, and Simon gets Tajiri to the evil corner and tags Maven. Double hiptoss and push-ups, but Tajiri gets up and kicks Maven in the kidney with a ruondhouse. Tag Regal, and they get a whip and a double-chop on Maven. Regal gets a shot to the back and a butterfly suplex for two. The three illegal heels in to break it up. Simon tags in and drops knees away at Regal. Swinging neckbreaker by Simon gets two before La Rés break it up. Grenier tags himself in off Simon and gets a hard right to Regal. He gets a closed-fist right and tags in Conway. Conway hits the Hart Attack with Grenier’s help for two. Maven and Simon break it up, so La Rés dispatch them before Conway oes back to work on Regal and Grenier tags in. Conway whips Regal into a European uppercut from Grenier, then clotheslines him. Grenier gets a chinlock. Regal escapes with a snapmare, but Grenier sends him into La Rés’ corner. He grabs the headlock again instead of tagging Conway, and he eats a back suplex. Hot tag Tajiri! Kicks for Grenier. Conway gets a whip. Tajiri tries the handspring elbow, but the handspring knocks Maven out.So he just chops Conway. He ducks a clothesline from Simon and kicks him. Conway gets dumped. But Maven, who’s lgal, heads up with a cross body for two before Grenier breaks it up. But Regal dumps Grenier, and Tajiri hits the Buzzsaw kick on Maven for the win.
Winners: Tajiri & William Regal via pinfall (4:01)
Backstage, Triple H looks at himself in a mirror before Eric Bischoff barges in to warn him about starting anything tonight. He can’t afford any injuries, so he just needs a civil engagement between two professional tonight. But HHH doesn’t promise anything, blaming Bischoff for causing Batista to stay on Raw, and saying that HHH does not have to be civil. HHH promises that Batista will look into HHH’s eyes and see the truth: that he doesn’t stand a chance. HHH promises that if Batista blinks at him, HHH will get on him, and it will be anything but civil. They stare each other down. Bischoff heads out.
Michaels. Hassan. Next!
Smackdown Rebound: Luther Reigns, my favorite SD! star, fails to knock a 4400-pound Jeep over, but Big Show can, set to dramatic music.
Here’s Muhammad Hassan, followed by Khosrow Daivari, to make a statement before arguably his biggest match yet. “I don’t know what you people are screaming about. Because we are – we are – six days away. I have six more days until I have to face the prejudice and the bigotry at Wrestlemania 21. I have NOT been pinned on Raw, and still, I am excluded from the biggest show of the year! But tonight, tonight is a different story. See, tonight I will have the satisfaction of pinning Shawn Michaels, the so-called Mr Wrestlemania, right here in his home state of Texas.” Sounds like Mark Magnus has a cold. Daivari provides provides the always-awesome exclamation point.
Match #3: Muhammad Hassan (w/ Khosrow Daivari) vs Shawn Michaels
Match #3: Muhammad Hassan (w/ Khosrow Daivari) vs Shawn Michaels
Oh boy. Muhammad’s walking into a hostile environment tonight. Huge HBK chant, and I don’t think heat is going to be a problem with this match. They lock up, and Hassan gets a kneelift and a pair of straight rights to knock Shawn over. More rights follow. Hassan gets an elbow. He gets a whip, but Michaels dodges a powerslam and chops Hassan down twice. He gets a right and clotheslines Hassan out of the ring. Daivari gives him a pep talk, so Shawn heads out and punches Hassan. Daivari bails when Shawn glares at him. Shawn uses another chop and puts Hassan back in. Shawn gets a chop and a whip into the SW corner, but Hassan gets a running shoulderblock and a series of mounted punches. More rights form Hassan, but HBK fights back with punches of his own. Shawn tries a whip, but Hassan reverses. Shawn gets tripped by Daivari, but he stomps on Daivari’s hand and dumps Hassan with a backdrop… into Daivari. “Vigilant” Mike Chioda is surprisingly restrained through all of this as we head to an Ad Break! (2:16)
Ad Break ends (5:21)
We’re back, and Hassan got a backbreaker during the break. He has a surfboard stretch locked in. The backbreaker followed a hard whip into the corner. Back in, Hassan gets a backbreaker, drawing compmlaints from Chioda before he covers for two. He covers again for two. Daivari: “Dammit!” Hassan gets a suplex. Hassan covers for two. Hassan gets a whip and an elbow for two. He gets a chinlock, and Shawn fights it. He gets Hassan in the corner and chops him. Hassan reverses a whip into the corner, though, and Shawn just flops. Daivari taunts him. Hassan gets a series of kicks in the corner. Hassan gets another hard whip into the corner, and Shawn is in extreme pain. Hassan gets a right, and Shawn is in trouble. Hassan drives his boot into Shawn’s head. JR says that the master plan was to attack the back. And while Hassan distracts Chioda, Daivari works a bow-and-arrow on Michaels around the ringpost! And after Chioda gets a big vigilant going after him, Hassan does the same thing! He finally gets out with the 5-count, and Hassan breaks it at 4. Shawn is still against the post. Hassan poses in the middle of the ring. He stalks Shawn. “USA!” Shawn fights up to his feet. He tries the Finishing Touch, but Shawn elbows him about six times to escape. But Hassan channels the spirit of Chris Masters with a Polish hammer to the back of the head, and it’s Camel Clutch time! Shawn fights it, and he faces the extremely annoying gesturing of Daivari and Chioda, and somehow survives long enough to get to the bottom rope. Hassan breaks. He gets Shawn by the hair and does a throat-slashing gesture on Shawn. That’s unique and innovative. But Shawn blocks a punch and gets one of his own, and wins the ensuing slugfest. Chop! Hassan reverses a whip, but Shawn gets a forearm and the back is healed enough for him to kip up! Manhattan drop. Clotheslines. Whip… backdrop! Shawn gets a bodyslam and heads up to the high-risk district. Elbow connects. Shawn sucks in the energy from the crowd and tunes up the band, but here comes KURT FREAKIN’ ANGLE out of the crowd with a chop block!
Winner: Shawn Michaels via disqualification (12:06)
Slugfest. It’s even, but Shawn gets the upper hand until Kurt kneelifts him. Kurt gets a kick and tries the Olympic Slam. But Shawn escapes and tries Sweet Chin Music. Kurt ducks and escapes, so Shawn superkicks Hassan instead. Hassan’s music starts for a second. Kurt heads out through the crowd. Play Shawn’s music!
Ad Break ends (5:21)
Backstage, Eric Bischoff runs down security for failing to keep Kurt Angle out of the ring. He tells them to make sure that nothing goes wrong during the sanctioned faceoff.
Wrestlemania starts at 7 this Sunday!
And we get a retrospective of the HHH/Batista feud that’s up to the usual lofty standards
Eric Bischoff is back and better than ever. He is seconded by security. The faceoff happens – next!
Bischoff is in the ring, with security on the outside, and in case you forgot, this is a potentially volatile situation. The premise: “Each superstar will have the opportunity to say what they think about their opponent to their opponent’s face without any concern for physicality.
“Allow me to introduce me first, he is the Game, the cerebral assassin, the Heavyweight Champion of the World… Triple H!” HHH comes out in his ring gear, seconded by Ric Flair. King says that everyone claims to be headed to victory against the Game, but nobody ever does. JR says that he’s a 10-time champ – you do the math. HHH takes a seat with his feet on the table.
“And now, Triple H’s opponent this Sunday at Wrestlemania, he is the #1 contender for the World Heavyweight Championship, he is the animal… Batista!” Batista also comes out in his ring gear. Once Batista hits the ring, HHH shoves back his chair and stands up. They look at each other.
“Gentlemen, please be seated.”
So Batista sits, and HHH stands and looks at him. Then he sits down, as the “Batista” chants get loud… and then deafening.
“Triple H, as the Heavyweight Champion of the World, you may go first.”
He’s standing. “You ungrateful piece o’ crap. This is how you repay me, huh? This is it. For everything I’ve done for you, this is how you repay me. You believe this, Naitch, huh? Everything we’ve done for him, and this is the payment we get. He doesn’t even get it. You don’t even get it. Everything you have, everything you are, I gave you. I made you. You think – you think any one of these people even knew your name before you met me? Huh? Not one of ’em. Not one. I plucked you from obscurity and made you a star. Not because I had to, not because I needed to… I was the World Heavyweight Champion long before I ever met you, and I still am.” Dave is not particularly affected. “Hey. I just let you come along for the ride, pal. That was it. Heh. Y’know, you were absolutely nothing when I found you. You realize that? You were absolutely nothing when I found you. And in six days, I’m gonna put you back where I found you. ‘Cause this ride, Dave, is over. Look at me, Dave. Look me in the eye. DAMMIT, I SAID LOOK AT ME! That’s it. Look in my eyes. See your future. See the truth! In six days, at WM21, your future is gonna happen. It’s gonna be the day that you found out you made the biggest mistake of your life. In my eyes, Dave, you see the truth, and the truth is, you cannot beat me. Now, what do you have to say about that, huh?”
Batista stands up. “What do I have to say? What do I have to say? Are you talking to me?” Big pop for that one. He smiles. “This is what I’m gonna say. I’m gonna say thank you. I’m gonna express my gratitude for everything that you and Ric have taught me. Especially you, Ric. You are without a doubt a true legend.” Big pop for that one, too. Flair smiles. “Now, I got two things to say to you. One, next Sunday, Wrestlemania 21, I am gonna take your World Heavyweight Title. Two, and I don’t know quite how to say this, so I’m just gonna say it. You are an asshole.” Massive pop for a simple line. Crowd repeats it several times. This prompts HHH to knock the table over, and they stare each other down nose-to-nose. [“Batista! Batista!”] HHH with a slap! Batista smiles.
Takedown! Naitch pulls him off, but Batista keeps pounding HHH. Security pulls Batista off, and six guys unwittingly hold him in place for HHH to hit him, but Batista shoves them all off and gets more shots in. HHH bails. Then he heads back in! Security pulls everyone apart. Batista is in the ring; HHH and Flair head up the ramp.
The crowd was red-hot for Batista at the end, and I think we’re right where we want to be six days before the big one.