The journey through 2004 WWE pay-per-views continues with Unforgiven 2004. It’s a Raw brand show that took place at a time when WWE tried really hard to get over their new World Heavyweight Champion Randy Orton, who was just 24 years old (the youngest world champion ever) and just turned face about one month before this after his Evolution buddies Triple H, Batista & Ric Flair surprisingly turned on him.
I watched this show live 13 years ago, didn’t write a review back then and only remember the main event ending. I also remember that one of the worst WWE matches ever was on this show, so I’m not looking forward to that again. A lot of it will feel fresh to me. Let’s get to it.
Rose Garden in Portland, Oregon
The opening video package focused on Randy Orton doing his best to survive as the World Heavyweight Champion against his former Evolution allies that turned on him.
The pyro went off in the arena and the crowd in Portland was hot. Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomed us to the show from their perch on the right side of the stage. The Spanish announce team was at ringside as usual.
Ric Flair and Batista made their entrance to the Evolution theme song. Lawler on Batista: “Look at this guy, he gets bigger every week!” I hear there are drugs that help with that. Just saying. Chris Benoit and William Regal entered together to Benoit’s song.
Analysis: Benoit went from being a World Champion and usual PPV main eventer in 2004 and now he’s in the opening tag. I thought that was a peculiar move.
Ric Flair & Batista vs. Chris Benoit & William Regal
(Pre-match notes: Benoit and Regal were the faces. Regal was seeking revenge for his buddy Eugene getting attacked by Evolution. Flair & Batista were the heels.)
Benoit hit an arm drag on Batista and brought in Regal. Batista wrestled with his wedding ring on. Remember when he cheated on his wife when she had cancer and then he had several reported girlfriends in WWE? Most of them were hot. Good for him. Regal hit an overhead suplex and a running forearm. Flair tagged in to start a chop fest with Benoit with Benoit winning that battle followed by a back body drop. After taking punches and chops, Flair did a face first bump. Flair with an eye poke to Regal followed by a chop block to the back of the left leg. Benoit hit an enziguri on Flair leading to another Flair face first bump. Batista and Benoit battled with Batista hitting a back elbow for two. Regal back in with forearms, Batista hit shoulder tackles and Flair choked Regal with the tag rope while the ref wasn’t looking. Flair sent Regal into the corner with a hard whip. Back suplex by Flair got a two count. Batista hit a punch to the back of the head of Regal that the ref didn’t see and Flair hit a chop. Batista back in with a neckbreaker for two. Flair tagged in with an elbow to the back of the head of Regal followed by another chop block to the leg of Regal. Flair applied the Figure Four Leglock submission on Regal. Benoit saved his partner to help Regal get out of it. Batista slapped on a headlock on Regal with JR marvelling at how big Batista’s arms are. Regal broke free and they did the double noggin knocker spot to knock both guys down.
Benoit got the hot tag against Flair with Benoit chopping him a lot. Back body drop by Benoit followed by a snap suplex and he punched Batista off the apron. Benoit with a German Suplex on Flair and for Batista too. Benoit hit two German Suplexes on Flair. Benoit up top and he connected with a flying headbutt on Flair. When Benoit went for a Sharpshooter attempt, Flair did an eye poke, so Benoit applied a Crippler Crossface. Batista with the save as he slammed Benoit and hit a spinebuster on Regal. Outside the ring, Regal shoved Batista into the ring post and then he ducked a clothesline that sent Batista over the barricade. Flair went for a Figure Four Leglock, Benoit countered to the Crippler Crossface and Flair tapped out to give the win to Benoit’s team at 15:07.
Winners by submission: Chris Benoit & William Regal
Analysis: **3/4 Solid tag match that followed the usual formula with Regal getting worked over for most of it and Benoit got the win for the team. It was boring for some part of it, but once Benoit tagged in he was on fire, Flair sold everything well for him and booking Batista to go over the barricade was smart because it set up the finish. It was a measure of revenge for the good guys after what the heels did to Eugene.
There was a shot of the lovely Women’s Champion Trish Stratus backstage with Christian and Tyson Tomko. Trish bickered with Christian about the presence of Tomko with Christian saying that Tyson is his Problem Solver. Trish said she’s the one that has a title defense. Trish mentioned a lunatic mystery woman that might jump her from behind, so Christian delivered the money line saying it won’t be the first time somebody got her from behind. Trish told Tyson after his match maybe he can come to her dressing room later…then she whispered in Tyson’s ear and Tyson said to Christian: “Good luck.” Tyson left with Trish and Christian goes: “She is a slut!”
Analysis: The Christian storyline with Trish didn’t last that long and it was also hurt by Christian suffering an injury for a few months. Trish also dealt with a hand injury. This segment put over Trish’s heel persona of using her womanly ways to get what she wants.
Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus (w/Tyson Tomko) vs. Victoria
(Pre-match notes: Trish was a heel champion and Victoria was a face.)
Trish bailed to the floor immediately. The crowd chanted “slut” at Trish and Lawler said that she’s not a slut. Important info. Trish choked her using the middle rope and applied a choke. Victoria came back with a press slam where she dropped Trish onto the knee for a gutbuster and Victoria kicked her out of the ring. Victoria went up top, but Tomko moved Trish out of the way. They battled on the apron with Trish sending Victoria into the ring post. Back in the ring, Trish got a cover for a two count followed by kicks to the ribs. Trish continued on offense with some hair whips and she grabbed a headlock. Victoria fought back, but Trish came back with a spinebuster for a two count. Back to the chinlock for Trish. Victoria did her comeback with a spinning slam for two. Weak looking body slam by Victoria followed by a standing moonsault for two. Victoria blocked the Chick Kick and hit a headbutt. Victoria did a slingshot attack on Tomko on the floor. When Victoria went back in the ring, Tomko grabbed her foot and Trish capitalized with the Stratusfaction bulldog for the win at 8:21.
Winner by pinfall: Trish Stratus
Analysis: *3/4 It was just an average match with a cheap win for the heel champion. They released eachother a lot for a few years and I thought their chemistry was better with Victoria as the heel. I did like heel Trish a lot, though. There weren’t a lot of face wrestlers for her to feud with other than Lita.
Post match, Tomko went to Victoria, picked her up by the throat and looked like he was going to attack. A “mystery woman” went into the ring and dropped Tomko with a DDT. The “woman” left.
Tomko did a promo complaining about the mystery woman and asked the “cross dressing hermaphrodite” to come down to the ring. JR called it the worst kept secret in the business and Lawler told him to go along with it. JR said he would go along with it.
Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards
Tomko decked him with a punch and ripped off the dress. It was Steven Richards, which wasn’t much of a surprise. Tomko ripped off the dress, the panties, the shirt and Richards even had a bra on. Some fans were standing because they were wondering what the hell was going on. Tomko punched him while holding the wig for some reason. Richards wrestled in white underwear as Tomko kicked and stomped him. Tomko picked Richards up and slammed him across the ring. There was no crowd reaction for any of this crap. Tomko threw some punches, Richards no sold them as if he was 1990 Ultimate Warrior. Tomko called him a punk and a “big sissy.” Richards threw the wig, the ref picked it up and Richards grabbed him by the balls. Richards sent Tomko into the turnbuckle. Richards grabbed him in the groin again. Running dropkick by Richards. Tomko hit him in the back with a forearm and hit a swinging neckbreaker off his shoulders for the pinfall win at 6:24.
Winner by pinfall: Tyson Tomko
Lawler: “I don’t really know what to say about that.” I do. It was crap. They moved on quickly.
Analysis: -** Holy crap that was awful. Negative two stars. The only thing that drew a reaction was Richards grabbing him in the balls. I remember this being one of the worst WWE matches ever and it was even worse than I imagined. There was no psychology, the comeback by Richards was flat and Tomko’s offense was boring. It put me to sleep. Those are seven minutes of my life that I wish I could get back from 2004 and today.
A video package aired about how Edge had a torn groin and he had to give up the Intercontinental Title. That led to Christian making his surprising return by attacking Chris Jericho on his Highlight Reel set. Eric Bischoff, the Raw GM, did a promo saying Edge was going to be out of action 4-6 weeks, so Edge can’t defend the title in 30 days and that means he is stripped of the title. That led to Christian and Jericho having this Ladder Match for the vacant Intercontinental Title.
Analysis: This was back when WWE paid attention to their 30-day title rule. It does not exist anymore obviously with Brock Lesnar holding the Universal Title. That rule is only a storyline when convenient to WWE.
Chris Jericho made his entrance first to a good ovation. Christian was booed on his entrance. Everybody else was banned from ringside for the match.
Ladder Match for the Vacant Intercontinental Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Christian
(Pre-match notes: Jericho was the face and Christian was the heel.)
The IC Title was hanging above the ring. Jericho with a suplex. Ref Mike Chioda was in the ring with them. I’m not sure why because it’s a Ladder Match and you don’t need a ref in there. Some fans did a “CLB” chant for Christian aka “Creepy Little Bastard.” Jericho gave Christian a back body drop that sent him over the top to the floor. Jericho threw a ladder at Christian, but Christian moved to avoid it. Jericho hit a running attack to Christian’s back while Christian was against the ropes. Enziguri kick by Jericho. Ladder shot to the gut by Jericho. Christian dumped Jericho over the barricade and they started brawling into the crowd. They brawled on the floor with Jericho choking him with a cable cord. Christian was back in control with the Unprettier on the floor. Christian set up a ladder, got his hands on the title and Jericho pulled him down. Christian sent Jericho into the ladder. Christian set up the ladder on the top rope, so Jericho whipped him into it leading to Christian bumping face first into the top of the ladder. Jericho tossed the shoulder onto Christian’s shoulder. The ladder was set up again, so Christian sent Jericho into it. Christian with a catapult that sent Jericho into the ladder. Christian went for an attack on Jericho in the corner with the ladder, but Jericho shoved the ladder at him. Jericho on the ladder, which he positioned over Christian and landed on Christian with it. There was a “Y2J” chant for Jericho for that. The ladder was set up in the corner, so Christian whipped Jericho into it and Jericho got his left leg caught in the ladder. Christian hit a running knee attack on Jericho. Christian set up a ladder, so Jericho flashed him the middle finger. That was enough to get Christian off the ladder, so Jericho hit a dropkick on the ladder to knock down Christian.
Jericho with a bulldog on Christian that sent him into the ladder. Jericho trapped Christian in the ladder, he went for a Lionsault, Christian moved and Jericho’s knee hit the ladder as he landed the Lionsault. Christian picked up a ladder and hit Jericho in the head with it. Christian did a slow climb up, he tried to reach for the title, but Jericho stopped him. Christian grabbed the apparatus that’s holding the title. Jericho picked up the ladder, jabbed Christian in the ribs and Christian took a bump onto his stomach all the way from above the ring. Fans chanted “Y2J” again. Jericho climbed up the ladder, so Christian tilted the ladder and Jericho landed onto the top rope while bumping to the floor. Christian did a slow climb, Jericho went after him and applied a Walls of Jericho like submission on the ladder. The problem with that is it looks too fake because you could see Christian moving his hands in the right spot to help Jericho apply the hold. Jericho reached for the title, Christian shoved the ladder from underneath him and Jericho landed hard right on his ass. Christian brought a second ladder in the ring that’s taller than the first ladder. Both guys were climbing up ladders and Jericho hit a bulldog off the top of the ladder. Jericho set up the ladder over Christian, Jericho climbed up and Jericho grabbed the IC Title to win the match at 22:29.
Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Chris Jericho
After the match, both guys were selling the pain they were in while Jericho celebrated with the title.
Analysis: ***3/4 Great match that got a lot of time, had good psychology and the winner Jericho was put over in a big way. The first half of the match was all about each man trying to cause pain on the other guy. There wasn’t a lot of climbing in the first portion. Later on, they did more of the climbing sequences. It was weird having the ref in the ring for the whole match. I kept wondering why they did it that way because most ladder matches have the refs only outside the ring. The difficult thing with ladder matches is we’ve seen so many of them that it’s hard to do new things. They didn’t really innovate in this case, but it worked as a match where they did a lot of hard bumps, used the ladder as a weapon and didn’t climb as much as some guys in unrealistic settings. I liked it a lot.
There was a shot of Todd Grisham outside of Kane’s dressing room. Lita did an interview saying she hopes Shawn Michaels beats Kane and sends him to the hospital. Kane laughed about how he has such a supportive wife. Kane said he got word from Eric Bischoff that his match with Michaels will be a No Disqualification Match. Kane said he’ll destroy Michaels and his wife Lita will be there to watch it. Kane forced a kiss on Lita to end it.
Analysis: This was when Lita was “married” to Kane and also pregnant with his baby.
Jericho was interviewed by Jonathon Coachman. Jericho said he’s got ice on his shoulder, the ladder went halfway up his ass, he feels like crap and he feels like a king because he’s the first ever seven-time Intercontinental Champion. Edge showed up on crutches. Edge noted that Jericho could never beat him. Edge told him to shine up that title real nice because when Edge is ready, he’s taking back what is his. Jericho said he’ll be ready.
Analysis: Jericho’s title reign lasted about one month. I’ll cover that when I get to Taboo Tuesday 2004, which is two PPVs away.
A video package aired to set up Kane vs. Shawn Michaels. It featured Kane tormenting Lita, which led to Kane beating Matt Hardy at SummerSlam, Kane and Lita getting married and Lita being pregnant with Kane’s baby. Lita said she took Kane’s open contract for Unforgiven and wrote Shawn Michaels as his opponent. The video included highlights of attacking Michaels with a chair leading to Michaels selling a throat injury. Michaels was off TV for three months, so this was his return.
Analysis: The real reason for Shawn’s absence was because his wife gave birth to their second child, a daughter, in August 2004 and Shawn was off the road when it happened. In these days, Michaels was only working Raw’s and PPVs, so it was a light schedule.
Shawn Michaels entered first to a huge ovation with JR praising Michaels heavily as he should because Michaels is amazing and my favorite wrestler ever. Kane entered with a reluctant Lita by his side.
No Disqualification: Shawn Michaels vs. Kane (w/Lita)
Michaels was aggressive early with punches, so Kane bailed to the floor. Back in the ring, Michaels jumped off the top rope and Kane stopped him with an uppercut punch to the throat. Kane hit a clothesline in the corner for a two count. Kane with a body slam, elbow misses and Michaels hits a clothesline that sent Kane to the floor. Michaels with a slingshot cross body block on Kane on the floor. Kane used Lita as a shield and hit an uppercut as JR pointed out Michaels won’t hit a pregnant woman, so that’s why Kane did it. Kane cleared off the announce table. Kane slammed Michaels onto the table although it looked awkward. Kane picked up Michaels and did a suplex into a slam that sent Michaels through the table, which broke. That was tame for a table bump in this era. Back in the ring, Kane hit a leg drop for two. Kane gave Michaels a hard whip into the corner. Kane was in control on the floor, then they went back in, Michaels hit a boot to the face, but Kane came back with a sidewalk slam. Kane slapped on a chinlock. When Michaels tried a comeback, Kane came back with a two handed chokeslam for two. Another chinlock by Kane. Crowd is not into it. When Michaels got back to his vertical base, Kane hit a clothesline. Story has been about Michaels getting brief comebacks only for Kane to stop him with power moves. Michaels came back with a DDT out of the corner, which led to applause from Lita. Michaels hit a flying forearm followed by the usual kip up to pop the crowd.
Kane whipped Michaels into the turnbuckle leading to a big bump over the top to the floor from Shawn. Kane sent Michaels head first into the steel steps. Michaels was bleeding from the head while Kane got a chair. Surprised it took that long for somebody to blade in this match. Kane and Michaels slugged it out with Kane getting the advantage by hitting an elbow that sent Michaels to the floor. Kane went for a boot against the post, but Michaels moved. Michaels sent Kane into the ring post. Michaels hit an atomic drop followed by a clothesline. Michaels went up top and connected with a Flying Elbow off the top. Michaels set up for Sweet Chin Music as the crowd came alive. Kane countered with a big boot to the face for two. Kane hit his usual clothesline off the top rope. Kane grabbed Michaels by the throat, so Shawn hit a low blow punch to the groin. It’s no disqualification, so nothing wrong with that. Michaels got his hands on the steel chair and hit Kane win the head with the chair. Fans chanted “HBK” as Kane sat up first. Lita grabbed the chair before Kane could grab it. Kane yelled at her. Michaels back to his feet, he went for a Superkick, Kane went for a Chokeslam, Michaels slipped out and Michaels hit Sweet Chin Music for the win at 18:02.
Winner by pinfall: Shawn Michaels
Analysis: ***1/2 Pretty good match with Michaels carrying Kane to one of his better singles matches. Great ending after some parts of the match was boring, but it’s the finish that matters the most. They got the crowd into it for the exciting finish with Michaels finding a way to get the job done. As for the story, Michaels got a measure of revenge with the victory since Kane injured him three months earlier.
After the match, Michaels celebrated the win while Kane was furious with Lita. Kane grabbed her by the hand and walked her to the back. Lawler said Lita cost Kane the match and JR said good for her. They replayed the finish.
Analysis: The next night on Raw, a newcomer named Gene Snitsky hit Kane in the back with a steel chair, which led to Kane landing on top of Lita. That was the storyline way of having Lita lose the baby.
There was a video package about Shelton Benjamin, who wasn’t on this show, but he was on the next Raw show Taboo Tuesday.
Triple H was interviewed by Todd Grisham backstage. Triple H said that Randy Orton is just a regular guy that spent his whole life worried about potential and how much he had. Hunter said Orton was a loser until he met him. Hunter spoke about how in this life people gravitate towards greatness and in this business, they gravitate to him. Hunter said that Orton is very, very good and not as good as Hunter. Hunter said that Orton will learn he is nothing without him. Hunter claimed the World Championship means more than life itself. Hunter pointed out that Orton spit in his face, so later tonight he will spit in our face (the fans) when he walks out as the World Heavyweight Champion.
Analysis: Long promo trying to get the crowd against him like usual while mentioning Orton spitting in his face, which drew cheers. It felt like a usual Triple H promo from this period.
La Resistance entered with the Quebec flag to defend the tag team titles. Sylvan Grenier sang “O Canada” to get heat, but it was interrupted by Rhyno and Tajiri’s entrance.
World Tag Team Championships: La Resistance (Rob Conway & Sylvan Grenier) vs. Rhyno & Tajiri
(Pre-match notes: La Resistance were the heel champs while Rhyno & Tajiri were faces. I have no memory of this rivalry.)
Tajiri started with Grenier with not much happening. Rhyno tagged in with a back body drop on Conway and he teased a Gore attempt, but Conway bailed to the floor. The crowd was dead for this as JR tried to explain it saying the crowd was “buzzing” after the great Michaels/Kane match. The heels ended up isolating Rhyno for about a minute until Rhyno hit a belly to belly suplex on Conway. Tajiri with a kick to the face of Conway with Grenier making the save after Tajiri tried to cover. Tajiri knocked Grenier off the apron and Conway shoved him off the DDT attempt. It looked sloppy. Conway with a clothesline on Tajiri. The heels isolated Tajiri for a few minutes. Grenier hit a backbreaker on Tajiri for two. Conway grounded Tajiri with a chinlock as the crowd chanted “USA” and Lawler pointing out that Tajiri is Japanese. JR said they were against La Resistance. Rhyno tagged in against Grenier with a running clothesline and Rhyno dumped Conway out of the ring. Rhyno with a shoulder tackle followed by a belly to belly suplex for two. Rhyno hit a spinebuster for two as Conway made the save. Double spinebuster by La Resistance for two as JR called it a flapjack for some reason. The ref stared at Rhyno while the heels worked over Tajiri, but that ended badly as Tajiri sent the flag into the groin of Grenier. Rhyno capitalized with the Gore, which finally drew a reaction from the crowd. Conway put Grenier’s foot on the rope to break up the pin. The ref tried to break up Tajiri and Conway on the floor, so Grenier used the top of the flag to jab Rhyno in the chest and Grenier covered for the win at 9:40.
Winners by pinfall: La Resistance
Analysis: *1/2 Boring tag match that didn’t have much of a story and the crowd barely reacted to it. La Resistance were useful in terms of getting heel heat, but the matches were never that great. With no story going in, it was hard for the crowd to care about this.
The video package aired to set up Orton vs. Triple for the World Heavyweight Title. Orton won the title at SummerSlam one month earlier and then one night later on Raw, Evolution turned on Orton. I was at that Raw. Very memorable moment. Triple H gave him a beating because Orton was holding the World Title that Triple H felt belonged to him. Orton got some revenge after the initial Evolution beating and Orton even destroyed Triple H with a sledgehammer. Orton also helped Eugene beat Triple H on Raw.
Triple H made his entrance alone. Hard to hear the reaction, but he was a top heel, so he was booed a lot during this time period. Orton entered to his “hey nothing you can say” song to a nice ovation. Orton was 24 years of age, which made him the youngest World Champion in WWE history.
Analysis: I remember going into this match thinking Orton was going to retain somehow, but I had no idea how. I didn’t think they would take the World Heavyweight Title off him within one month. I was wrong on that one.
World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Triple H
(Pre-match notes: Orton was the face champion and Triple H was the heel.)
Very slow pace early on as Orton stunned Hunter with a slap to the face. Hunter took him down with headlocks, so Orton hit him with another slap to the face. Orton also spit on Triple H’s chest. They exchanged punches followed by a back body drop by Orton on Triple H and a knee drop. Headlock by Orton. Orton whipped Hunter into the ropes leading to Hunter doing his bump over the top to the floor that he did many times. Orton with a clothesline on the floor. Back in the ring, Orton knocked him down with forearms and Triple H came back with a chop block to the back of the left knee. Hunter worked on the left knee of Orton by bending it back and dropping the elbow on it. Hunter whipped the left knee into the ring post a few times. Hunter continued to work over the left knee for a few more minutes. The crowd was dead for most of it. Hunter did three elbows to the knee. Hunter applied the Figure Four Leglock, which drew a mild response. Ref Earl Hebner was by Orton’s face, so Hunter used the ropes while the ref wasn’t looking. When Triple H tried it again, Hebner saw it and made him break it up. Orton was in the hold for nearly two minutes. Back to the knee with a chop block by Triple H. Orton kicked him away, Hunter went into the ring post (sort of) where he used his hand to block it and then you could see Triple H blading after that spot. Triple H got to his knees and he was bleeding.
Analysis: In the mid 2000s, Triple H bled a lot in PPV matches. Usually the spot was set up better than this one was. This one looked a little too cheesy for me.
Orton attacked with punches, Hunter kicked the knee and Orton hit a powerslam for two. Orton pounded on Hunter with punches in the corner. Thumb to the eye by Orton followed by a dropkick. Orton sold the knee a bit after the move. Orton hit a DDT for two. This was Orton’s comeback and the crowd was dead for most of it. Sleeper by Triple H, so Orton countered into a sleeper of his own and Hunter countered that with a back suplex. Hunter jumped off the middle rope for something that obviously wasn’t going to connect, so Orton got his foot up leading to Hunter doing a face first Flair bump. Orton to the top and he hit a cross body block for two. Clothesline by Orton sent Trips to the floor. Back in the ring, Orton hit his modified backbreaker for a two count. Orton went for the RKO, so Hunter shoved him into ref Hebner, who bumped to the floor.
Triple H went for a Pedigree, Orton slipped out of it and hit a RKO. That was sweet. Flair ran down to the ring, so Orton knocked him down with punches and a clothesline to the floor. Batista joined the party, he charged in, Orton moved and Batista hit the ring post with his shoulder. Hunter with a low blow with no ref to see that. Jonathon Coachman went down to the ring wearing a ref shirt. Hunter covered and Coach counted to two. Orton decked Coach with a punch. Batista back in the ring and he hit a spinebuster on Orton for two as Coach counted the pinfall attempt again. The crowd got into it now. Hunter wanted a Pedigree, Orton with a back body drop on him and a RKO by Orton on Coachman. Great sequence that drew a big pop. Flair back in, so Orton poked him in the eye and Orton hit Flair with a RKO. Batista wanted a Powerbomb, so Orton hit him with two fists to the groin to break free. Orton stumbled to his feet, Hunter had the steel chair and Hunter crushed Orton in the head with the chair. Ouch! That was nasty. Orton didn’t put up his hands to block it either, so Orton took it right on the head. Hunter picked up Orton and hit him with a Pedigree on the steel chair. Hunter slid the chair out of the ring. Batista rolled Hebner back in. Hunter covered, slow count by Hebner and he gets to three, so Triple H wins the World Heavyweight Title at 24:45.
Winner by pinfall and New World Heavyweight Champion: Triple H
The win meant that Triple H was a nine-time World Champion.
Analysis: *** The match was okay, but not that great or memorable for a main event. The ending was very cheap to give Hunter the tainted victory and to keep the rivalry going. It was a major screwjob angle to protect Orton in defeat. A lot of the match featured Triple H working on the left knee for a lot of it, yet it just felt like it was done because they needed to fill over 20 minutes. It didn’t play into the finish very much while Orton didn’t sell the injury as much as he should have.
Triple H celebrated with Flair and Batista as JR ranted about how Triple H stole the title. Orton was out in the ring. JR said that it took all of Evolution to beat Orton to really drive that point home. Triple H was on the top of the ramp with the title. Orton was in the ring looking furious about what happened.
Replays aired of the finish including that nasty chair shot to the head and the Pedigree on the chair.
The show ended with Orton looking mad in the ring.
The show had a run time of 2 hours, 36 minutes on WWE Network. That’s about ten minutes shorter than usual. Not sure if they cut anything out.
Analysis: At the time, I thought this meant that Orton would have a long journey back to the World Heavyweight Title. I thought he would win the 2005 Royal Rumble and beat Triple H in the WrestleMania 21 main event. Obviously that didn’t happen. Orton’s face turn didn’t work out as WWE planned, so they turned Batista face in early 2005, Batista won the Royal Rumble and he beat Triple H in the WrestleMania 21 main event. It was hard to see that as a possibility in September 2004 since Batista was still so green as a performer. As for Orton, he turned heel in early 2005 (poor Stacy Keibler), faced The Undertaker at WrestleMania 21 and was moved to Smackdown shortly after.
Show Rating (out of 10): 6
Best Match: Chris Jericho vs. Christian in a Ladder Match (***3/4 out of 5)
Worst Match: Tyson Tomko vs. Steven Richards (-**)
1. Shawn Michaels
2. Chris Jericho
5. (tie) Triple H
5. (tie) Randy Orton
It was an average show with three matches in the three-star range, but none of them really stood out. I didn’t even remember the Christian/Jericho match but I liked how they used the ladder as a weapon before all of the climbing spots. Michaels carried Kane to one of his better singles matches. It was average for a Michaels match, though. Orton vs. Triple H bored me for most of it before the last five minutes with some big moments.
I wish I didn’t watch all of Tomko vs. Richards again because it is one of the worst matches ever. Brutal. It really helped to kill the crowd because they were into the matches before that.
In terms of story development, both shows were dragging at this point. Things did get better in early 2005, but the end of 2004 wasn’t a strong period for either show.
Next up: No Mercy 2004. It’s a Smackdown show with JBL vs. The Undertaker in the main event. I don’t recall anything from it.
Thanks for reading.
John Canton – [email protected]
Check out my other retro WWE PPV reviews here as well.