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WWE RAW presents Vengeance
July 11, 2004

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well, the experiment is over; and though Vengeance ended a string of four pay-per-views in seven weeks on a relatively entertaining note, that might be faint praise.  One, because what it's relative to included a pair of ill-conceived SD!-brand PPVs.  And two, because as entertaining a three hours as Vengeance was, it only rarely displayed a big show aura, and probably would have even the densest of fan wondering "do we really need this many PPVs?" at the end of the night.

But let's cut the bitchy thesis, and tell you what happened, eh?

Here are the full results the just-completed WWE Vengeance PPV (with additional editorial thoughts and analysis appended in red italics):

  • On Heat: before I left my house, I did see Coach in his wrestling gear, meaning I was right about him getting in the ring with Tajiri, I guess... and also, they hyped a Heat match between Tyson Tomko and Val Venis.  I didn't see the match, but was told Tomko won, but that the real story was Nidia and Trish getting involved, and when Tomko went after Nidia, Maven came out to save her.  So Trish/Tomko vs. Tough Enough 1, coming soon to a RAW near you!
  • Tajiri and Rhyno beat Jonathan Coachman and Garrison Cade.  OK, so I was wrong: they went the tag match route here, instead of Tajiri/Coach one-on-one.  Rhyno started for the good guys, and got the team off to a hot start.  Then Tajiri came in and kept it rolling for a minute or two, until some sneakiness by Coach allowed Cade to gain the advantage.  Once Cade wore Tajiri down enough, Coach tagged in to pile on.  They did kind of a time-compressed babyface-in-peril bit, and at probably no later than the 5 minute mark, Tajiri got the hot tag to Rhyno, who would probably have liked to have been a house afire, but Coach was REALLY slow feeding him, and for some reason Cade didn't come into the ring to give Rhyno another target to go nuts on.  So it wound up being a bit flat.  Finally, Cade DID come in, and actually he and Coach wound up getting the edge on Rhyno... but then Tajiri blind-tagged himself into the match and we entered End Game: while the ref tried to sort out who was legal, Tajiri tried to hit the Green Mist on Coach, but Coach ducked and Cade took the mist.  Coach gestured broadly to indicate his relief, but then found himself in the crosshairs of a Gore.  But again he dodged, and again Cade took the blow.  More "relief" from the Coach.  But while he was too busy enjoying the sight of Rhyno continuing the assault on Cade outside the ring, he lost track of Tajiri, who came up behind Coach and waited for his moment: when Coach turned around, Tajiri blasted him with the Buzzsaw Kick, and we have ourselves a winner.  And it looks like Rhyno's found himself a partner who can take care of business.  About 8 minutes. [Hey, you know me: I likes my Tajiri.  I thought this was a very effective and fun opener, and if the plan is to team Tajiri and Rhyno full time, well, that wouldn't be a bad thing, either.]
  • Backstage: Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista give Triple H the third degree about Eugene...  they don't think he's got any business in Evolution, and they don't think HHH should be resorting to any kind of secret plan with Eugene.  It's at that point when HHH realizes that Eugene is not in the Evolution locker room... the other three guys plead ignorance and say they've gotten sick of keeping him on a leash all week, so he must have just wandered off on his own or something.  HHH goes looking, and eventually finds Eugene talking to Chris Benoit in a hallway.  HHH decides to eavesdrop, and overhears Benoit explaining to Eugene how Evolution are not his friends.  Needless to say, HHH seems to think this will throw a crimp into his plans....
  • Batista beat Chris Jericho.  Basic back-and-forth brawling to start, but when the match spills outside, Batista manages to take over, and immediately starts targeting Jericho's head and neck.  This set up a 2-minute Full Nelson of Doom, from which Jericho fired up out of and got himself a quick hope spot.  But that ended after maybe a minute, and Batista took over, this time shifting his focus to Jericho's lower back.  And again, Jericho had to fire up to escape some manner of resthold, but this time, the comeback stuck: Jericho got some near falls (including with his running enzuigiri), and was really on a roll... until he went for the Lionsault, and Batista got his knees up to block it.  From there, it was only a minute or two until Batista strung together a spinebuster (injured back, remember!) with a powerslam, and then finished off with a sit-out powerbomb.  He made the cover, and the ref counted to three, but there was a problem: Jericho's foot was across the bottom rope, and the ref didn't see it.  Batista saw it, and made sure he shoved Jericho's foot off the rope before he got up to celebrate.  My reaction? MORAL OUTRAGE (not because the rules had been violated, but because thus began the complete decimation of my PPV predictions!).  Oh, and also: I boldly declared "Rematch Tomorrow Night on RAW."  [Probably about 12 minutes, I'm thinking, and exactly what I expected...  a competent big man/little man match.  Jericho's just really good, Batista stuck to what the formula dictates from him, and I don't think there's really anything to complain about here.  Well, except for the finish and how I wanted Jericho to go over.]
  • Backstage: Eugene busted into the Evolution locker room and immediately sat down and started fidgeting.  HHH was all "What's the matter, Eugene?", but it was clear he knew exactly what Eugene was upset about, and had a plan to turn it to his advantage.  Eugene admitted he'd talked to Chris Benoit, and HHH interrupted by saying, "And let me guess, he tried to tell you that HE was your real friend and the Evolution is not."  But HHH says Chris Benoit is just a liar, and that Evolution ARE his friends, and to prove it, they have a Surprise for Eugene.  HHH tells Flair to go get the surprise, and Flair makes it clear he does NOT want to go through with this.  But HHH insists, and when Flair comes back, he presents Eugene with one of his jewel-encrusted Nature Boy entrance robes.  All of a sudden, Eugene is quite sure that Evolution are his friends, and celebrates happily with them.  And his new robe.
  • La Resistance beat Ric Flair/Eugene to retain the Tag Team Titles.  The opening five minutes or so were just awesomely entertaining: Eugene mimicked everything about Flair, starting with the ring entrance and then continuing on into the match.  Every patented Flair spot and mannerism was fair game.  My personal favorite: Eugene got back-dropped, and immediately started begging off from his knees, and when Grenier stupidly got in too close, he got a thumb to the eye.  Cracked my ass up.  Helping was Flair's reactions from the apron, where he was getting mega-pissed about Eugene stealing his shit.  Eventually, the fun came to an end, though, and La Resistance got control over Eugene.  That allowed for one final homage by Eugene (he did the Flair Flop), before he managed to get the tag to Ric.  And Flair got a minute or two of offense for himself before Grenier and Conway cut the ring in half on him.  They did about five minutes of your standard heel beat down before Flair started firing up and making like he'd get to his corner to tag in Eugene.  So of course, that's when Conway left his corner and went around the ring to yank Eugene off the apron so he couldn't tag.  Then he tossed him head first into the steel ring steps, and went back to minding his own business.  But you know where we're going from here: Eugene got his wits back about him and turned into Angry Eugene.  He got up in the ring and started pounding away on anything that moved.  Unfortunately, that included the referee.  He called for the disqualification after about 14 minutes or so.  But Eugene was not to be slowed down by any bell or by losing the match: he finished up destroying La Resistance by hitting one with a Rock Bottom and the other with the People's Elbow.  Then he went to tend to Ric Flair, who didn't seem happy with the loss, which made Eugene very sad and contrite.  Awww.  [An exceptionally entertaining segment.  The comedy at the start was dead-on, then the middle portion of the match was quite well-worked, and the finish... I loved that choice for the finish, as it once again reminded us of how effective Angry Eugene can be while also creating plenty of reason for Evolution to AGAIN question HHH's plan for using such an unpredictable/unreliable loose cannon like Eugene.]
  • Matt Hardy defeated Kane in their No DQ Match.  Matt came out fast, and immediately tried to make use of the No DQ stip by hitting a Twist of Fate on top of the Spanish Announce Table.  But Kane countered that by tossing Matt off the table and into the ringside barrier.  And from there, it was just about All Kane All The Time for about five or six minutes.  The tide turned back to Matt when he managed to get Kane tied up in the ropes, and followed that up by blasting Kane in the head with the ring bell.  He even managed to hit the Twist of Fate on Kane... but that only made Kane angry.  He kicked out and then did a Zombie Sit-Up, and decided he wanted to go back to making Matt his bitch.  He resumed the assault, eventually nailing Matt with a chokeslam.  But instead of just taking the pin, Kane wanted to do something nasty, so he grabbed the steel ring steps and brought them into the ring.  But before he could use them, Lita dashed out and got in the way.  Kane paused long enough to grab Lita and put her in a corner so she could watch what he was about to do to Matt... except that when Kane turned back around to smash Matt with the steps, Matt was ready with a steel chair.  He used the chair to hit the steps, which in turn bounced off Kane's head.  Matt quickly covered and got the surprise pinfall.  The announcers played it as a massive upset, and Matt looked like he knew he got away with one, too as he beat a hasty retreat.  [A little monotonous for some of Kane's offense, but you had to do that so that Matt's comeback would have the proper impact.  Still, this was about 12 minutes, or so, and only the final four really had any zip on 'em.  I would like to note: although I predicted Kane to win here on OO, I *did* change that just prior to the match.  When Kane blew his pyro during his entrance, according to WWE Bylaw #23b, that means he's going to lose and not set the ringpost pyro AFTER the match.  I have witnesses!]
  • Backstage: Lita caught up to Matt and tried to be all "Hey, how about that, we beat Kane," but Matt really didn't want to hear any of it.  For one, Lita's pregnant and she shouldn't be putting herself and her child in harm's way like that.  And for two, Matt still isn't exactly sure what to think of Lita, so she should stay away from him and out of his business.  
  • Edge beat Randy Orton to win the InterContinental Title. What the hell is going on here?  From the get-go, there are "Let's Go, Orton" chants and Edge is getting about one-third boos for his offense...  and since Edge kinda controlled the opening minutes, that meant plenty of opportunity for the crowd to illustrate their bizarro world tendencies.  This would continue throughout the match, and in fact, at one point, Orton flailed for something to get the fans against him by shouting "I don't need your help" to one section of his supporters.  Anyway, story of the match: Edge controlled early, but then Orton took over about seven or eight minutes in and went for A Chinlock.  A few minutes of this, and Edge fired up for a mini-comeback, including a cool spot where he caught Orton coming off the middle rope with a dropkick.  But Orton was not to be denied: he got back in charge with A Different Kind of Chinlock!  Wow, what a prodigy; in fact, things were going so well for Randy that when he decided he wanted to untie a turnbuckle pad, he got it quickly and easily on the very first try!  Fantastic outing for Young Randall.  Anyway, back in the chinlock, Edge managed to escape that one, too.  But Orton was all ready to go with Yet Another Chinlock!  Whee!  And when that one sort of decides to morph into a side headlock, trust me, I'm not the only one getting antsy, as the fans are not big enough Orton fans to NOT give him a "Boring" chant.  Finally, at about the 20 minute mark, Edge made his comeback: it started with (I think) a neckbreaker, which set them up for the double-count-out spot.  Both guys got up at 8 or 9, and that's when Edge took control.  He got some near falls, and then Orton decided he wanted in on the fun, and started getting some of his own, too.  For whatever I may have thought was wrong with the opening 20 minutes, these last few are REALLY sweet with fast-paced action and plausible/convincing false finishes.  Very final spot was Orton leap-frogging a Spear attempt, but when he tried to follow up with an RKO, Edge shoved him off into the corner with the exposed turnbuckle (and you thought that wouldn't figure into it!).  The debilitated Orton enough that when Edge caught him with a Spear immediately afterwards, he stayed down for the three count.  About 25 minutes, here, and the crowd got into it by the end, and also seemed to be more positive towards Edge than they had been at the outset.  In fact, the live crowd also serenaded Orton with a "Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye" when he lingered in the ring to sell his frustration at having been beat for a title.  [Look, I'm not the kind of smarky, workrate-obsessed internet good who thinks all headlocks and chinlocks should be banned.  For better or for worse, they are part of the slow-it-down "WWE style," and they have their role in telling the story of a match.  But I do think in this match, the slowness of the opening 20 minutes was a real problem, and it was at least in PART due to the fact that the story -- heel Orton grinds down sympathetic babyface Edge -- is not the story the fans wanted to hear.  They're cheering Orton and booing Edge, and you think you can get them rallying behind Edge after three chinlocks?  Not gonna happen, and I think it definitely hurt the pace of the match...  finish was great, though, and let's see where Edge goes with the IC belt...]
  • RAW Diva Search Summary: I don't recap crap, not even if it's on PPV.
  • Victoria beat Molly Holly to earn a Women's Title Shot.  Victoria was on offense early, and even hit Molly with a nice slingshot plancha.  But outside the ring, that's where the trouble started: when Victoria tried to get back into the ring, Molly had enough wherewithal to grab her ankle and pull... Victoria crashed off the ring steps, and her shoulder collided with the unforgiving steel.  Bad shoulder?  Good for Molly, who immediately went to work with all manner of arm bars and other, higher-impact moves (including a cool spot where she chicken-winged Victoria's arm, and then kind of suplexed her onto the top ring rope with the shoulder taking the brunt of the impact.  Victoria eventually staged her big comeback, but it misfired when Victoria's arm gave out on an attempted Widow's Peak.  Molly smelled blood and moved in for the kill, but Victoria had one last trick up her sleeve: a superkick out of nowhere.  A quick cover, and Victoria's your winner.  [Six or seven minutes, and quite nicely executed, all around.]
  • Chris Benoit beat Triple H to retain the World Heavyweight Title.  There's SOME of that bizarro world feel here, as HHH is not without fans, and Benoit's not without a few detractors... but by and large, the crowd's responding the way they are "supposed" to.  Out of the gate, it's definitely a Feeling Out Process, with chain wrestling and the like.  All very crisp, though, and the story is that HHH is keeping up with Technical Mastermind Benoit.  They keep it pretty evenly matches for a good 6-7 minutes, actually, until Benoit gains enough of an edge that he decides to try the Swandive Headbutt.  D'oh.  He misses, and that's the opening HHH needs.  And they make kind of an unconventional choice: HHH's Target of Choice is Benoit's sternum.  Huh.  That's a new one.  So that means Benoit gets to bust out some of the classic Bret Hart front-first turnbuckle bumps.  HHH utilizes a new twist on the standard vertical suplex: he got Benoit up, but then just dropped him chest first to the mat.  Then HHH decided to pay tribute to his buddy Randy Orton by going to the rest holds, first an Abominable Stretch (more torso damage, I guess) and then a Sleeper (just because it's his move).  But both are short and to the point, and the latter exists as an excuse to start Benoit's superman comeback.  Once he escaped the Sleeper, Benoit went on a tear, eventually locking in the Sharpshooter.  HHH was close to tapping, but finally made it to the ropes for a break.  We're easily near the 20 minute mark by this point, and the pace is definitely picking up further.  Benoit got a "Holy Shit" chant for a Crazy Ass No Hands Plancha that looked like it hurt him more than HHH.  They both get back in the ring, and it's around here that HHH came at Benoit with a clothesline, but Benoit ducked... and HHH took out the ref with a hard bump.  HHH immediately capitalized by low-blowing Benoit and then calling for Eugene to come on out to the ring for the Final Phase of the Plan.  Eugene did come out, but apparently wasn't quite sure what to do.  He only became MORE conflicted when HHH got caught from behind with the Crossface because he was too busy trying to give Eugene instructions to keep an eye on Benoit.  With the ref out, Benoit locked in the Crossface and had HHH tapping out; Eugene finally looked like he was gonna get into the ring, but was doing it very cautiously and uncertainly.  But there was nothing uncertain about Benoit's reaction: he got a "Goddammit, I don't believe I have to do this" look on his face, released the Crossface, and delivered a forearm to Eugene to knock him off the ring apron.  As Benoit lowered his head in shame, HHH attacked from behind, with a low blow.  Then he started ordering Eugene around, requesting a steel chair.  After what Benoit'd just done to him, Eugene was willing to comply... at first.  He gave HHH the chair.  But then, right before HHH could use the chair, Eugene had second thoughts and grabbed the chair away. Now it was HHH's turn to shove Eugene to the floor; and instead of acting sorry he had to do it, he put the bad-mouth on Eugene and told him he'd better do as he's told, or else.  Eventually, Benoit was able to wrest control of the chair away from HHH...  and while Eugene got back in the ring to try to also stop Benoit from using the chair, the rest of Evolution ran out; Benoit was able to chairshot them all into oblivion before Eugene intercepted him.  While he was distracted by Eugene, Benoit got attacked from behind by HHH.  As Eugene watches on, now HHH has the chair, and is about to use it against Benoit... but Benoit lands a desperation low blow of his own, and now both guys are down.  And Eugene sees the chair, now untended....  he grabs it.  Looks at both Benoit and HHH...  wonders if maybe he should use the chair.  And if so, against whom?  He winds up and thinks maybe Benoit needs a chairshot.  Then thinks again.  Maybe HHH.  No, maybe Benoit.  No, maybe HHH.  Crowd is WAY into this, and I'm loving it, too.  Everybody wants Eugene to paste HHH.  But Eugene can't bring himself to hit either guy.  He puts the chair down and starts walking away... but Benoit is the first to recover, and he picks up the chair.  And Eugene doesn't want him to use it.  So they each grab an end, and start battling for the chair.  Finally, Eugene is able to overpower Benoit, and forcibly YANKS the chair out of Benoit's hands...  but in the same motion, Eugene and the chair crack into HHH's skull.  Huge pop, even if it was unintentional!  Eugene rolled out of the ring and immediately started acting very upset at what he'd done to his friend.  Benoit just took advantage of the situation and made the cover.  The ref finally came around just in time to make the three count.  Benoit's your winner after 30 minutes of action.  HHH is not pleased.  And Eugene feels horrible over what just happened.  Correctly, though: they eventually gloss over HHH/Eugene a bit to focus on Beniot's celebration to close out the show.  [Very, very good match.  An example of how you can do a more methodical pace for 10 minutes in the middle of the match if you've got the fans on the same page with you and execute the plan crisply.  And then once the storyline kicked in, it was really, really entertaining in a whole different kind of way.  I kind of hope that we can do a think now where HHH and Benoit do a singles rematch without so much Eugene extracurricular activity; Eugene should get out from under Evolution in the next week or two and go back to being Happy Fun Eugene, maybe get back into a program with Regal... but that's getting off track.  I liked this match both in terms of the work and the story...  excellent stuff.]

Obviously the main event was gold, and that alone is a huge help in terms of my final Big Picture overview.  I like it when my shows end on a strong note.  But other than that, really only the tag title match and the final few minutes of Edge/Orton stood out to me...  that left over half the show feeling kinda not much more important than a typical Monday night.

But while it might be a few notches removed from being a killer PPV in the same vein as WM20, it's also even further removed from being whatever it is you want to call the Great American Bash, and that's enough to make me happy.  We'll call it a mild Thumbs Up.

More thoughts/analysis/fall-out tomorrow in OO.


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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