The WWE Raw brand presented Vengeance in July 2004 at a time when it had surpassed Smackdown in terms of being the better show. The matches were better than what Smackdown was doing at the time and if you’ll recall, my reviews of recent SD 2004 PPVs Great American Bash and Judgment Day were not favorable.

The main feud on Raw during this time centered around World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit and his rival for the first half of 2004, Triple H. This was their first PPV singles match for the World Title following two outstanding triple threat matches with Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 20 and Backlash. Michaels, if you’re wondering, was off TV for a few months selling an injury angle.

While Vengeance isn’t one of those PPV names that people remember as being historically great, there is an important match on here that showed how good Randy Orton and Edge were before they became long term main event talents.

This event also set the stage for what was next on the WWE calendar, which was SummerSlam.

I originally wrote this review in 2004, so I’ve cleaned it up and added some additional comments in orange font to give you my 2017 perspective as well. Let’s get to it.

WWE Vengeance
Hartford Civic Center in Hartford, Connecticut
07/11/04

We start with an OUTSTANDING video package highlighting the history between Triple H and Benoit this year with Triple H saying he was going to get back his World Heavyweight Title. It was especially great, I thought.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler hype the main event, as well as the other title matches. JR said that HHH and Benoit are meeting for the “first time ever” on PPV, which is wrong because they had a great match at No Mercy 2000. They throw it over to the Spanish table at ringside.

Jonathon Coachman & Garrison Cade vs. Tajiri & Rhyno

(Pre-match notes: Coach & Cade were heels while Tajiri & Rhyno were the faces.)

This match came up on Heat when Coach asked for a match from Bischoff because Tajiri spit on his face during musical chairs on Raw. They each got to pick a partner. Coach & Cade come out first. Tajiri comes out next with Rhyno as his partner. No pop for Rhyno at all. It’s an ECW reunion.

Rhyno and Cade start. Arm wringer for Cade. Rhyno gets a shoulderblock. Cade argues with the ref about something. He slaps Rhyno. Rhyno pounds on him. Whip in and a hip toss. Cade dodges a Gore, Rhyno tags in Tajiri. He gets a kick on Cade, but is punched down. Tajiri with a boot to the face and a dropkick to the knee, cradle gets two. Tajiri whipped in, Coach gets a knee to the back. Tajiri decks Coach, but Cade hits him with a backdrop. Cade tags in Coach, who gets some kicks into the back. Coach gets some shoulder tackles and punches to the back. Whip in the corner, Coach gets a bodyslam, bows to Tajiri and gets kicked in the face. Coach hits an elbow. Tag to Cade, double suplex gets two. Tags Coach back in for some reason. Whip to the corner, Tajiri boots him and applies the Tarantula. Tajiri makes the hot tag to Rhyno, who gets a clothesline. Suplex by Rhyno on Coach, then back body drop on Cade and a belly to belly on Coach gets two with Cade making the save. Tajiri tags Rhyno’s back. Cade and Coach double, but they eat a double handspring elbow by Tajiri. Tajiri spits green mist at Cade by accident since he was going for Coach. Rhyno’s up, goes to Gore Coach, but he ducks and Rhyno Gore’s Cade. Tajiri kicks Coach in the face and gets the win at 7:30.

Winners by pinfall: Tajiri & Rhyno

Analysis: *1/4 Typical midcard TV match to have the face team get a win to start the show. The ending was well done.

(I wasn’t a fan of having Coach in matches because he was limited in what he could do. He did know how to have entertaining moments in matches, though. It was pretty basic as an opener.)

Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista are shown awaiting Triple in the dressing room when Hunter enters. Orton asks Hunter what’s the deal with Eugene. Flair and Batista also wonder. Triple H tells him that when the time is right…but he can’t continue. Hunter asks where Eugene is while his buddies say they got sick of watching him. They don’t know where Eugene is, so Triple H leaves to go find him. Eugene is shown talking to Chris Benoit in a hallway. A camera goes close enough to hear it. Benoit tells Eugene that Evolution is using him. Benoit tells Eugene to be careful. Triple H is hiding behind a door, so Eugene and Benoit never saw him. Benoit warned Eugene to be careful and left. Hunter was shown looking mad be fore the door.

(I guess we were to assume that nobody would contact Benoit over the next two hours to tell him Triple H heard that conversation? Okay then.)

Jericho vs. Batista is up next. We see the replay of the clothesline that “knocked Jericho out.” We also get highlights from last week when Batista cost Jericho the IC title. Then Manhasset, New York’s own (groan) Chris Jericho comes out. He was from Winnipeg on Monday. He’s from wherever is convenient. Batista comes out next.

(This was during the period where WWE announced Jericho from Manhasset and Benoit from Atlanta. Jericho was announced from Winnipeg for the majority of his career and Benoit was announced from Edmonton. The reason WWE changed it is because they thought the Canadians named Chris would appeal to American viewers more if they were announced from American countries. Jericho was born in NY, but he grew up in Winnipeg and considers that where he is from.)

Chris Jericho vs. Batista

(Pre-match notes: Jericho was the face and Batista was the heel that was part of Evolution. Batista wrestled with his wedding ring on. He ended up getting a divorce and “dating” a bunch of women in WWE over the next few years. Good for him.)

Batista powers him in the corner, pounding away. He gets a shoulder block in the corner. Whip in, Jericho holds onto the ropes, ducks and Batista goes over the top to the floor. Springboard dropkick to the floor by Jericho. Back in the ring, neckbreaker by Batista for two. He goes for a vice grip type thing. Batista punches him down. Now he grabs a full nelson. Three minutes in and he’s already slowing it down. Jericho backs his way out, then slings Batista out threw the middle ropes. Batista actually tripped up in the ropes, then went through for good. He climbs back in, Jericho dropkicks him in the left leg. Kicks to the leg, Batista no sells and decks him. Batista goes for a top rope back suplex, but Jericho fights off and hits a back elbow off the top for two. Forearm for Jericho and another, he runs the ropes and eats a sidewalk slam for two. Crowd is great, chanting TWO every time. Pound to the back for Batista. Why does Batista wear his wedding ring during his matches? He has to be one of the only wrestlers to wear a ring on his finger during a match.

Batista chokes Jericho down with his knee. Backbreaker gets two. They mentioned Winnipeg is Jericho’s hometown, yet he’s still announced from Manhasset. Logic hurts my brain. Batista drapes him over on his leg, his stomach facing the sky and chokes him on there. Jericho fights out with knees to the face. Backbreaker reversed by Jericho, he gets some fists, Batista knees him, Jericho with a kick and flying forearm knocks down Batista. Jericho charges in, Batista catches him, powerslam is slid out of, clip the knee. Batista kicks out of the Walls of Jericho. Trip sets up Batista over the middle rope, the Jericho charge is countered with a massive Spinebuster. That was really impressive, I must say. That gets two, a close one. Y2J chant starts as Jericho reverses a powerbomb for two. Batista just pounds on him. Jericho with a boot to the face and bulldog off the top. Jericho goes for a Lionsault way across the knee, Batista gets his knee up. He was too far to hit him anyway. Jericho struggles up, Batista clothesline misses, Jericho with a running enziguri gets a delayed two. Another cover for two. Back to a vertical base, they exchange blows and Batista hits another spinebuster, showing his wide array of moves. Batista picks him up and hits a huge sitdown powerbomb. The ref counts three, but Jericho’s foot is on the bottom rope. Ref never saw it even though he was right there. How could Earl Hebner not see it? Batista takes his foot off the rope. The match went 12:19.

Winner by pinfall: Batista

Analysis: ** It was alright. There were far too many slow spots in the match, but it was certainly watchable. The finish was not executed well. Batista worked hard so I’ll give him credit for that. Jericho did his best to carry him to a passable match.

(I wasn’t very harsh on the finish, but I should have been. I’m not sure whose fault it was because it could have been done better. I wasn’t that impressed by Batista at this point. He was just a “body guy” this early in his career and he had been on the main roster for two years by this point. To his credit, he improved quite a bit over the next few years and had a lot of good matches. Jericho was popular as a face and did his best as always. They continued the rival into SummerSlam leading to an IC Title triple threat match.)

Backstage, Eugene is shown in the Evolution locker room with Orton leaving right away. Hunter tells Eugene that Benoit lied to him about being his friend. The usual stuff. Triple H promises a surprise and tells Flair to get it. Flair comes in with it and it’s a blue Nature Boy robe. He loves it, then struts out of the room. Flair doesn’t look thrilled about it all. Tag title match is next.

(Too much of the Eugene storyline on this show already.)

Tag title match up next. La Resistance comes out first. Sylvan Grenier comes out to sing O Canada in French. Crowd boos. Cheap heat is fun. Flair’s music starts up. Flair comes out first, Eugene is right behind him wearing that blue robe. JR said Flair & Eugene will win, so obviously they will not. Eugene mocks everything Flair does as Flair gives him an irritated look. JR notes that Flair has been wrestling for 32 years and he was frustrated by this.

World Tag Team Titles: La Resistance vs. Ric Flair & Eugene

(Pre-match notes: La Resistance were heel champions, Flair was a heel in Evolution and Eugene was a face.)

Eugene starts us against Rob Conway. He does a big WOO to the delight of the crowd. Eugene runs his hands through his hair like Flair. Eugene with another WOO in the corner, then a Flair strut. Eugene with a drop toehold then a headlock. Conway whips him in, Eugene with a big armdrag and a chop that sends him down. Flair yells at him for stealing his moves. Grenier comes in, Eugene with a knee breaker, the running knee and a chop. All Flair moves. Grenier knees him in the gut. Backdrop for Grenier, Eugene backs off and does a thumb to the eye. Flair is upset. Conway tagged in, chops Eugene. Eugene counters with chops of his own, but Conway pounds him down. Eugene walks over the corner, but falls face first like Flair. Flair is pissed off. Figure four countered by Conway with a boot, Flair tags in. Flair struts to a huge pop, then some more. He WOO’s a bit. Flair chops Conway in the corner, then Grenier comes in to eat one. Backdrop on Grenier. Chops to Conway again. He pounds him in the corner. Another chop to Grenier. Why are they both in the ring? I have no idea. Knee drop to Grenier. Another chop. Chop to Conway. Flair with a delayed suplex on “Robaire” Conway. “Now we go to school,” says Flair as he wraps on the figure four. Grenier breaks it up with an elbow to the head. Conway tags in Grenier. Grenier elbows him in the chest a couple of times. Back in the ring, he pounds him down for a two count. Tag to Conway, Flair exchanges chops to him. More punching and chopping. Conway with a clothesline for two. Tag to Grenier. A backdrop gets two, then he grabs a headlock. Flair fights out, but Grenier decks him. Tag to Conway, who gets a headlock. As Flair is about to tag, Grenier cheapshots Eugene. Conway brings Flair back. Camera on Eugene, he looks to be Hulking Up. La Resistance gets the Au Revoir finisher. Eugene tosses Conway out to a huge pop. He wraps Grenier’s legs around the ring post. Eugene pounds down Conway, the ref gets bumped. Ref DQ’s Eugene for accidentally hitting him. Match ends in DQ with La Rez winning at 12:30.

Winners by disqualification: La Resistance

Eugene hits a Stunner on Grenier, Eugene with a Rock Bottom on Conway and a People’s Elbow on Conway. Flair and Eugene leave together.

Analysis: *3/4 Good for a laugh, but not much in terms of being a quality match. Its intent was to get a rise out of the crowd and I think it did that. I laughed a lot during this match, so in that sense it was a lot of fun.

(The Eugene character was done for comedic purposes and Nick Dinsmore was a very good performer that played the role well. This match had its fun moments thanks to Flair being so over the top.)

There was a long video package highlighting the Kane feud with Matt Hardy that focused on Lita with Kane having a thing for her. It was a great video package even though I’m not even a huge fan of the feud. There was a story that Lita was pregnant, Matt thought he was the dad, Matt proposed and Kane informed him that Kane is the baby daddy.

(Kane was a very good actor. Most of the other wrestlers weren’t at his level, but I loved Kane during this period. He was even better without a mask like he was here.)

Kane comes out first and he’s booed. Matt Hardy is next and he’s looking all serious. No Lita.

No Disqualification Match: Kane vs. Matt Hardy

(Pre-match notes: Kane was the heel and Matt was the face.)

They meet out on the floor, Hardy whips him into the ringpost and the announce table. He drills him with a TV monitor the head. There goes the shirt. He goes for a Twist of Fate on the table, but Kane shoves him off and punches him into the crowd. Kane drops him jaw first onto the security wall. Back at ringside, Kane pounds on him, then rolls him into the ring. Kane with some more pounding around the ring. It’s hard to describe, mostly just him throwing Matt into things. Kane with a clothesline on the floor. In the ring, side slam by Kane gets two. Kane gets a hard grab to Matt’s face, whatever that is called. Matt punches him away. Kane tosses Hardy head first into the top turnbuckle. Out on the floor again, Kane knocks him down on the entryway. To the top, Kane with his usual clothesline. He yells at Matt, telling him to fight. Hardy punches back, so Kane tosses him out to the floor by the announce tables.

Hardy’s got a chair on the floor, he chairs Kane in the gut. He charges, but Kane hits a big boot to knock him down. Kane has the chair as Matt is in the ring. Hardy with a stunner like maneuver on the apron. Kane’s wrapped up in the ropes, his left foot stuck in the ropes and his body on the floor. Matt pounds away on him. He gets the ring bell and drills Kane with it in the head. To the top, Matt gets a legdrop to the back of the head in the ring. He signals for the Twist of Fate, Kane powers out with a backdrop. Kane powerslam reversed to a Twist of Fate and he hits it. It only gets two. Kane sits up. Chokeslam, but no immediate cover. Kane brings the ring steps into the ring. Here comes Lita. Worst future mom ever. Kane puts the steps down because she tells her. Kane grabs her and tells her to get away. Kane picks up the stairs, Hardy with a chair to the stairs, covers and that gets three. It went 10:34,

Winner by pinfall: Matt Hardy

The announcers put it over as a huge win for Matt and as if it was an upset, which it was with JR saying “I can’t believe this.”

Analysis: ** It was slow at times when Kane was on offense, which was most of the time, but the finish was really strong. I’m glad they gave Hardy a win because it’ll be good for his career. Kane doesn’t really need to win since he’s always over. I doubt this feud ends here.

(The feud did not end there. Watching it again today I really didn’t like the finish that much because I thought Matt should have done more to beat Kane.)

Backstage, Lita asks Matt to talk. Matt tells her she shouldn’t have been there because the baby could have been harmed and it could be his baby. He asks her to stay away from the ring until he figures things out and she should stay away from him too.

(The story continued with Gene Snitsky accidentally killing the baby while Lita never repaired the relationship with Matt.)

There’s a video package for Orton vs. Edge for the IC Title. Usual good stuff. I do have to laugh at Edge’s “I don’t like you” line. They couldn’t do better? Oh well. I liked his promo last week on Raw.

(Orton had the title for seven months, which was the longest IC Title reigns in seven years as Orton mentioned in promos back then.)

Edge comes out first to decent reaction. Orton comes out next with a lot of boos, but some cheers too. JR drops this stat saying that the IC title has been lost the most in the month of July as if that’s supposed to be an important stat. JR mentions that Orton hasn’t lost on PPV in nearly a year.

Intercontinental Championship: Randy Orton vs. Edge

(Pre-match notes: Orton was a heel champion that was part of Evolution while Edge was the face challenger.)

They do some headlocks, Edge gets a shoulderblock after a whip into the ropes. Another whip, Edge gets another shoulderblock following some leapfrogs and ducks. They do a criss cross in the ropes, Orton drops down and Edge gets another shoulderblock, then a headlock. A criss cross? Now THAT is old school. The third “Let’s Go Orton” chant starts up. Whip in, Edge gets three more shoulderblocks. Was he watching Ultimate Warrior tapes last night or what? Five minutes in, there hasn’t been much in the way of action. They’re getting lots of time. Edge tosses Orton back into the ring. Orton whips him in, Edge charges back and Orton tosses him over the top to the floor. Suplex back into the ring gets two for Orton. Orton pounds on him in the back and chest. Orton with a snapmare, then a chinlock type maneuver. No idea what it would be called. A small Orton chant again. Kick to the gut, Edge gets a forearm and clothesline, then another. Into the ropes, Orton holds on and Edge clotheslines him out. Some of the crowd boos. The crowd is about 50/50 due to all the Orton support. Orton takes the IC title, but Edge hits a baseball slide dropkick sending Orton to the floor. Edge with a clothesline off the apron.

Back in the ring, Edge hits a missile dropkick. Announcers finally acknowledge the Orton support. That got two. Edge goes for a spear, Orton hits a HHH-like high knee to counter. Orton backbreaker gets two. Now a “let’s go Edge” chant. Orton works him over on the floor with elbows to the head. I like this crowd. He chokes the neck of Edge, then works him over. Orton yells out at the crowd that he doesn’t need their help. Legdrop to the neck gets two. Edge charges, Orton knees him to the gut. He drapes his knee across Edge’s throat. He picks him up, then hits a nice dropkick for two. Orton grabs a chinlock. He loves those chinlocks. Chant for Edge now. Edge fights out, Orton with a legdrop for two. Back to the chinlock. I give Orton credit for really using his face and his body to make it look killer. Some of the crowd is chanting “Boring! Boring!” but not that much. It’s been three straight minutes of chinlocks. Edge’s arm drops twice until he gets back up vertically. Into the ropes, crossbody for Edge gets two. Rollup gets two. Orton with a clothesline. Orton to the ropes, comes off the middle ropes with something and Edge hits a dropkick.

Edge has momentum now, dropping Orton with a neckbreaker. Crowd is still mixed. Double knockout spot as the ref counts them down. They slug it out from their knees to their feet. Edge with a side Russian legsweep for two. Orton goes for a dropkick, but Edge holds onto the rope. Catapults Orton to the corner, Edge-omatic (like a sleeper drop) gets two. JR doesn’t call it by name. To the top, Orton pounds Edge up there. Edge goes to front suplex him down, but Orton’s legs hit the top ropes and he lands awkwardly. Edge with a crossbody off the top, Orton rolls through for two followed by a thumb to the eye. Orton exposes the turnbuckle. Edge cradle, but the ref is trying to fix the turnbuckle. Orton with the rollup, grabbing tights for two. Dropkick for Orton gets two. Edge counters something with an Impaler DDT for a good nearfall. Edge goes for a ten punch count in the corner. Orton drops him head first into the turnbuckle, roll up with feet on the ropes gets two. RKO countered by Edge as he shoved Orton off. Crowd is going nuts. Spear attempt by Edge, Orton does a leapfrog so Edge eats the corner. RKO by Orton reversed to a backslide by Edge for two. Edge whips him into the exposed corner back first and Orton was staggered coming out of the corner. Spear by Edge and he covers for the pinfall win at 26:36.

Winner by pinfall and New Intercontinental Champion: Edge

It is the fifth time Edge has won the IC Title and it ended Orton’s seven-month reign as champion.

Analysis: ****1/4 This match was great. I think it went about ten minutes too long and that may have hurt it, but I still enjoyed it. The spots in the middle were just way too slow, eliciting boring chants from the crowd. The last seven or eight minutes were outstanding, however. It ended beautifully. I loved the spots, the counters and even the finish was handled well.

(I had forgotten how good this match and enjoyed watching it again. The final five minutes were outstanding as I mentioned. I also agree with my assessment that it would have been even better if they cut out 7-10 minutes of action. We didn’t know it at the time, but the reason Orton lost the title here was because he would win the World Heavyweight Title at SummerSlam one month later. It was also notable that the crowd was behind Orton a lot. I wonder if that played a part in turning Orton face after SummerSlam because I doubt that was the original plan. There are different stories out there that Orton was going to turn face in early 2005 like Batista did, but I’m not sure if WWE would have waited that long.)

Post match, Edge celebrates with the title in the aisle way. Edge says three more to go, meaning Evolution. Orton is throwing a tantrum in the ring because of the loss.  Orton was nearly in tears about the loss and then it appeared as if he was crying. Fans sang “na na na na hey hey goodbye” at Orton.

(You don’t see that very often where they show a former champion after a loss like that. It was done to put over the idea that Orton really loved being the IC Champion.)

King and Ross hype up the Diva Search being on Spike TV this Thursday at 10pmET. The judges for the contest are Randy Orton, Triple H, Edge and Chris Jericho.

(This was edited off the WWE Network version of the broadcast.)

Molly Holly vs. Victoria

(Pre-match notes: Molly was the heel that had her head shaved by Victoria at WrestleMania earlier in the year. Victoria was the face.)

This is a number one contender’s match. Molly is out first. “Molly needs Rogaine” sign rules. Victoria is next. Molly’s got the blonde wig going.

Molly starts with an arm wringer, Vic counters, they exchange blows, Vic does the splits and a monkey flip. Bodyslam for Victoria, the jiggle leads to a rollup for Molly. Whip in, Victoria hits a standing moonsault. She hits a plancha to the floor. As she goes up the steps, Molly trips her up, causing her to go arm first onto the steps. Victoria’s left arm is hurting. Molly drapes it over the ropes, then kicks at it. Crowd is pretty dead for this. Can’t blame them since there’s no real storyline here. Molly with a handspring elbow for two. Molly with an armbar. Molly drops the knee on the arm. Some of the crowd is booing as Molly goes for another armbar. Vic fights out with punches, but Molly drops her arm first onto the top rope. She boots Victoria out of the ring, then rolls her in. Victoria kicks her in the face, Molly’s elbow drops miss. Vic with a rollup for two. Backslide for two. Vic hits a couple clotheslines, then a back elbow. Molly charges, Victoria hits a powerslam. Victoria goes for the Widow’s Peak, but her shoulder gives out. Molly walks towards her, Victoria gets a superkick and wins by pinfall at 6:22.

Winner: Victoria

Analysis: ** They worked hard and had a solid match for the time given, but the crowd wasn’t into it that much. The superkick by Victoria looked great. Victoria is the number one contender to Trish’s title.

(I don’t recall Victoria winning with a superkick very often, but it was great as I mentioned in my original review. I don’t remember why they did this match instead of having Trish Stratus defend the Women’s Title. I think it was because of a lack of contenders rather than anything else.)

Fun SummerSlam commercial with Stacy Keibler competing in gymnastics at the Olympics. She bends down and gets tens across the board.

(This was edited off the WWE Network broadcast as well.)

The video package aired for the Benoit/Triple H match. All the Eugene stuff is shown with Bischoff telling Triple H he can be number one contender if he beats up Eugene. Triple H went to attack Eugene, but Benoit made the save and Benoit accidentally hit Eugene with a chair to the head. Triple H manipulated Eugene and made him an honorary member of Evolution. It led to Eugene saving Triple H from a Sharpshooter and hit Benoit in the back with a chair leading to Triple H pinning Benoit in a match on Raw. Triple H commented that Eugene would play a part in Trips winning back the World Title. I think it’s likely that Eugene will play a part in the finish of this match.

(My Eugene prediction came true. I thought they utilized him too much in this storyline. It felt like a midcard angle, yet it was the focal point of the World Heavyweight Title feud.)

Triple H comes out first. For the second time in the night, Jim Ross says this is the first OOV one on one match between Benoit and Triple H. Why are they not acknowledging their match at No Mercy 2000, which was quite excellent? I think not acknowledging their previous match is stupider than announcing the Canadian guys from American cities in order to make them more appealing to American fans. Benoit is out next to a good ovation.

World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Benoit vs. Triple H

(Pre-match notes: Benoit was the face champion and Triple H was the heel leader of Evolution.)

Benoit with an arm drag. “Let’s Go Benoit” chant starts up. More holds and counter holds. Good stuff. Into the ropes, HHH hits him with a hard shoulder tackle. Benoit hips him in, ducks under and hits an arm drag. Crossface attempt, but HHH gets ropes and bails to the floor. Benoit chops away at him. HHH gets thrown headfirst into the railing. In the ring, HHH with a high knee. Suplex for HHH. Another vertical suplex. Benoit chops, HHH counters and hits a back elbow for two. Backbreaker for HHH. On the floor, he drives Benoit back first into the side of the ring. Benoit chops away, HHH pushes him into the corner, whip across, Benoit with knees, chops and a snap suplex. Benoit whips him into the corner, HHH with a reverse elbow, clothesline ducked and Benoit hits a German suplex. HHH fights out of another one, Benoit trips him up, slingshot and clothesline over the top to the floor. Benoit comes after him outside, HHH with a thumb to the eye, but Benoit gets the advantage by whipping him shoulder first into the ring steps. Back in, Benoit goes to the top for a headbutt, but HHH rolls out of the way. JR makes a good point in saying Benoit’s attack was going good, but his high risk move was costly. They both struggle to their feet, HHH whips him in and Benoit takes the Bret Hart sternum first bump. HHH whips him into the other corner sternum first. HHH boots him in the ribs as we reach the ten-minute mark.

HHH picks him up for a suplex, but then tosses him forward so he lands sternum first. Cool move because it follows the psychology of Benoit having hurt ribs. That gets two. He does another suplex toss on the ribs for two. Triple H pulls back on his arm with his knee on the spine. Benoit fights out with knees, he charges in and HHH tosses him over the top to the floor. Triple H whips him ribs first into the ring barrier. He rolls him back in, then does another hard whip into the corner that Benoit takes sternum first. That gets two. Benoit chops, HHH whips him in, Triple H with an abdominal stretch. Crowd is clapping for Benoit, urging him to fight back. Benoit counters with an abdominal stretch for a second, but HHH hiplocks out of it. Back up, Benoit charges and HHH gets a sleeper on him. Benoit counters, HHH tries for a backdrop, Benoit lands on his feet, Sharpshooter is shoved off. Kick to the gut for HHH, Benoit fights out and sinks in the Sharpshooter. As HHH nears the ropes, Benoit pulls him back to the center. Triple H makes ropes to break the hold as we reach the twenty minute mark.

Benoit gets advantage with the three rolling German suplexes. Benoit’s bloody from the mouth a bit. He gets up first, signals for the headbutt. Triple H rolls out of the ring. Benoit charges and hits a suicide tope through the middle ropes. Benoit’s body bounced off the barricade wall, as did HHH’s back. Benoit rolls him back in, HHH charges at him, Benoit ducks and out goes the ref after Hunter hits him with a punch in an accidental way. Triple H hits a DDT. Hunter turns up the aisle, then calls for Eugene, who walks down to the ring. Hunter pulls Benoit up, ordering Eugene to get to the ref. Benoit hits a crossface. Benoit is yelling at Eugene to get the ref. Benoit rolls through in the crossface and HHH taps out, but the ref is on the floor. Eugene goes into the ring and Benoit punches him down. HHH hits a low blow on Benoit. Pedigree connects for Triple H and he tells Eugene to get the referee. Eugene slides the ref, Mike Chioda, into the ring. One…two…shoulder up for Benoit.

Triple H orders Eugene to get a chair and he hands it to Triple H. Crowd is booing. Triple H goes to swing it, but Eugene takes it from him. Triple H shoves him off the apron to the floor. Triple H turns around and Benoit punches the chair back into HHH’s face. Benoit’s got the chair now as the ref is still out. Here comes Ric Flair and Batista, so Benoit hits them with running chair shots to the head. Benoit tells Eugene to get out, so HHH knees Benoit in the ribs. Eugene is still in the ring. HHH’s chair shot countered by a low blow for Benoit with the ref still not to his feet. Everybody was down except for Eugene. He gets the chair, but he can’t hit Benoit with the chair and he can’t hit Triple H with chair. Back to Benoit, no chair shot. Back to HHH and Eugene puts the chair down. Benoit takes the chair from Eugene, they’re pulling at it, HHH is up to his feet, Eugene wins the pull apart (Benoit let go) and Eugene drills HHH in the face, knocking him out. It was done in an accidental way. Eugene to the floor, saying HHH will be mad at him. Benoit’s up with a rollup for one…two…three. Benoit wins at 29:06.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Benoit

Analysis: ***3/4 This was more a storyline advancement match than a classic, as we had hoped. I thought the first ten minutes or so were okay, the next ten minutes with Benoit getting offense was really good, but the ending was way overbooked. I understand they love the Eugene character, but I have to wonder if it’s worth playing such a big role in a major title match.

(Good match, but not at the level of their WrestleMania and Backlash three ways with Michaels. As I noted in the original review, this match was about furthering the Triple H/Eugene story more than it was about putting on a classic match. I wasn’t a fan of ending it with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! after the chair shot. Benoit should have won by submission, but they probably didn’t want to have Triple H tap out even though it was because of the chair to the head.)

Post match, Benoit went up the ramp with his World Title while Triple H was selling his right eye injury.

After Benoit left, Triple H stares at Eugene looking all pissed off. The show ends with HHH looking mad at Eugene.

(Two weeks later on Raw, Benoit and Triple H had a 60-minute Ironman Match. Eugene ended up costing Triple H in that match as well and that led to Triple H vs. Eugene at SummerSlam.)

The show has a run time of 2 hours, 37 minutes on WWE Network.

 

Show Rating (out of 10): 6.5

Best Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton (****1/4 out of 5)

Worst Match: Tajiri & Rhyno vs. Coachman & Cade (*1/4)

 

FIVE STARS

1. Edge

2. Randy Orton

3. Chris Benoit

4. Triple H

5. Chris Jericho

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

Vengeance was a slightly above average event that played a part in advancing storylines, but not really solving anything. It’s obvious that a lot of what happened here is part of the company’s build toward SummerSlam. There was nothing that had a sense of finality to this show with nearly every finish making you believe that there will be rematches either at SummerSlam or on future editions of Raw.

(I thought Edge vs. Orton may continue as a feud, but it turns out they moved on. That meant that their match did wrap up that rivalry.)

I had a feeling of what would happen in the main event from the video package and the backstage promos. It was obvious that there would be a ref bump, as well as plenty of Eugene. I even said in my preview that Eugene would accidentally cause HHH to lose by pinfall due to an errant chairshot. In that sense, it was too predictable. However, the actual wrestling between Benoit and Triple H was excellent, as expected. This was on its way to being a match of the year contender, but ended up as something that left me wanting more. I would love to see an Ironman match, or something that goes long, between them at SummerSlam. I just want something with a clean finish, even if it means Benoit losing the belt.

(There were Ironman rumors at the time, so that’s why I mentioned. As mentioned earlier, WWE opted to go with the Ironman match on Raw 15 days after this. I didn’t expect it to happen on Raw.)

The Intercontinental Title match had a really strong finish that elevated it from good to great. I didn’t enjoy some parts of the match and the audience likely agreed because there were some “boring” chants in there. Both guys have really bright futures and it’s clear that WWE agreed with that since they gave nearly 30 minutes on a PPV.

I have liked what they have done with Eugene going into the event, but I think it was a little too much tonight. It reminds me of last year at this time when they shoved Zach Gowen down our throats as the innocent victim on Smackdown. Then, when the storyline ended there was no use for him and he was gone. It’s just too much too soon for the Eugene character. I think he’s playing his part well, but I don’t really like the way he’s being used.

(The Eugene/Gowen comparison was fair because neither one of them lasted that long as a regular.)

On the plus side, there was no garbage on this show like the last two Smackdown PPVs. That’s what keeps it above average as well as the quality IC Title and World Title matches.

Next up: SummerSlam 2004. That’s the last PPV from 2004 where I wrote a live review when the show took place.

Thanks for reading.

John Canton – mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport