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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:12 am

Benoit/Edge/Jericho vs. Orton/Flair/Batista (8/2/04)
HOT DAMN. Another amazing TV match. Just a lot of great subsections to really make the match flow substantially. These same 6 guys were involved in that 6 man elimination match in June, and in that one Benoit got the best of Orton as both were the final two men for their respective teams. Over the next month, Benoit would be torn apart as World Champion by Evolution while Orton continued to get better. Now, with Orton the number 1 contender, he proved that he’s on Benoit’s level. Just a storydriven match with a hot crowd that pretty much anyone can get into.

****

Jericho vs. Edge (8/9/04)
Two faces who had been dying to get at each other ever since the battle royale. Edge plays defacto heel here and they pretty much go all out for the time they’re given. Jericho cheating to win is a nice touch. Not a lot of substance, but an easy to watch match.

***
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:13 am

Orton vs. Benoit (8/16/04)
Benoit lost the title the night prior and he comes out like a man on a mission in the beginning of this. The first 8 or so minutes is just a glorious asskicking that Randy Orton didn’t see coming. A nice callback to the night before as Benoit goes for a Suicide Dive attempt and stops as Orton moves. Orton used that miss last night to capitalize, but tonight Benoit is so “on” that even that won’t happen again. Eventually Orton dropkicks Benoit off the apron onto the guardrail to take control and save his life. He tries to pop Benoit’s head off on multiple occasions as he takes apart the neck of the challenger. Benoit’s comeback is fantastic and almost wins him the title before Evolution costs him his dream once again. Epic match. Haven’t seen the Summerslam match in a while but it has huge shoes to fill. It’s kind of a shame how overlooked this is in the annals of great Raw matches. BTW, watching all these Raw 04 matches has pretty much assured Benoit as being my WOTY for 2004. I was always on the fence with who it could be, but he’s had so many great matches that it’s now become obvious. This is also my 2004 TV MOTY just ahead of Benoit/Michaels II. Should do really well on my list. I’m seriously starting to think I’m gonna have like 10 matches from Raw 2004 in my top 100. Maybe more.

****

Jericho vs. Edge (8/23/04)
Eh, this didn’t really do it for me. It got about 10 minutes but they never seemed to click. Finish was fucking embarrassing as well.

**1/4

Benoit/Regal/Rhyno/Tajiri vs. Flair/Batista/Grenier/Conway (9/6/04)
Just an energetic 8 minute sprint. Kind of felt like it was here to promote the 2 PPV matches these teams would be in and to get Benoit a hot tag to a win, as it felt like he hadn’t gotten one in a month. Inoffensive.

**1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:16 am

Orton vs. Jericho (7/5/04)
Didn't get a chance to talk about this due to me not having it on tape, but Cal hooked me up. Great match. Jericho is trying to win the title in his hometown. He dominates Orton at the beginning to the delight of the crowd. He even gets the one foot pin attempt, which I might have marked for. This continues until Batista comes down and gives Orton the advantage by taking out Jericho’s arm. That very arm becomes the target of Orton’s offense for the next several minutes. Some really good limb work and selling by Jericho. Eventually, Jericho battles back and almost wins the belt with an injured shoulder, but Orton slimes his way out. Just a damn fine Raw match. It’d be a perfect inclusion on either man’s DVD….if they ever got one….

***1/2

Jericho/Michaels vs. Christian/Tomko (9/13/04)
Just a basic tag match with the Southern formula. Kind of just here to get the crowd going and to highlight Michaels and Christian, who are returning to Raw. Christian attacks Michaels after the bell to set up a little rivalry between them.

***

Michaels vs. Jericho (9/20/04)
Before the last match, Michaels was a guest on the Highlight Reel and challenged Jericho to an IC title match before Christian and Tomko interrupted. Here they kind of just go through the motions for 10 minutes. I love Raw 2004 and I love Michaels, but there’s something about Michaels from this year that….I don’t know, doesn’t impress me. He just doesn’t fit this era like I thought he could. Anyway, this got 10 minutes so you know it’s at least watchable. Something felt missing though. You were just waiting for the Christian run in.

**1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:17 am

HHH/Flair/Batista vs. Orton/Benoit/Benjamin (9/20/04)
Now this on the other hand was good. Orton promises and RKO to win the match, but in the beginning he gets decapitated by Batista’s clothesline on the outside of the ring. It becomes a really great handicap match after that. Benoit’s attitude here is great. He knows he has to be the one to step it up for his team with a young Shelton Benjamin at his side and Orton out. Loved how he tried to get the crowd into it a couple times so Shelton could find a way to make the tag. In the end, Orton arrives at the nick of time to put down Flair with the RKO he promised. No surprise…this was enjoyable.

***1/2

HHH vs. Benjamin (9/27/04)
Hard to rate this as it only went 6 minutes, but it served a great purpose in reiterating that no matter what HHH does, he just can’t figure out Shelton.

**

Christian/Tomko vs. Jericho/Michaels (9/27/04)
A shorter version of the match from 2 weeks prior. Almost ended the same way, but this time Christian was the legal man and he snuck out a win over Michaels. Again, only went about 8 minutes, but it was about on par with the last match these 4 had.

**3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:18 am

Michaels vs. Christian (10/4/04)
WWE typically did stuff like this around this time period. Instead of having a PPV match, guys would feud for a bit and just have a blowoff on Raw or SD. This is from MSG, so it’s as good a place as any to have a blowoff. Christian pinned Shawn a week ago and now he wants to prove it wasn’t a fluke. He wants to show he’s the new showstopper. Doesn’t happen. Funny moment as Shawn knocks down Christian on the outside and then Super Kicks a very innocent Tomko and rolls in the ring and just says, “OHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!” Michaels eventually makes a mistake that leads to Christian’s workover period before Shawn wraps it up. Felt like an actual feud as opposed to just a random Raw match, so it’s something that stands out for the year. Not amazing or business altering, but still a good match.

***1/4

Benoit vs. Batista (10/4/04)
INTENSITY. This went less than 5 minutes, but for what it was, it was great. Highlight being Flair kicking Benoit in the balls with loafers on in front of the front row of guys who just scream, “AW!” Orton runs in for the DQ.

**

Benoit/Michaels/Edge vs. HHH/Flair/Batista (10/11/04)
Takes place in England. Not sure why I felt the need to mention that. I really could watch Benoit chop Flair all day. The way Flair sells it and then flops is always fantastic. I swear he’s been chopped by Benoit 1,000 times on Raw this year. Good stuff. Benoit is all intense until he gets caught on the outside with Evolution. He gets his midsection worked over (like in the HHH feud) and plays FIP. Key note here is Edge sneaking in and getting the pin on HHH, even though Michaels and Benoit did the damage. Really good stuff, but by this point in the year these guys could have a good match in their sleep.

***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:18 am

Flair/Batista vs. Orton/Jericho (10/18/04)
Just a solid tag match in a year of great ones. A lot of matches from this year may mesh together with how they’re constructed, but every one of them ends in a significant way. This one’s ending was solely to get over Flair as a threat to Orton the next night. Got time and made the most of it.

**3/4

Edge vs. Michaels vs. Benoit (10/18/04)
Just your run of the mill triple threat match. It was going pretty well until Michaels’ knee injury.

**1/4

Jericho vs. Benjamin (10/25/04)
This was really short, but I kind of dug this. Just 2 faces out there going at a nice pace for 8 minutes. Really enjoyed the finishing stretch too, as it put over Benjamin as a guy that it’s hard to have an answer for. Jericho felt like he was unfairly robbed of the title at Taboo Tuesday, and now even with time to prepare, he couldn’t get the job done.

**3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:19 am

Flair vs. Orton (10/25/04)
Really good match surpassed only by the aftermath. Flair is out to prove that no one can beat him twice in a week and Orton is out for a title shot if he wins. Orton dominates Flair but like in tons of Flair matches, Orton hurts his leg and Flair goes to school. Randy does a really nice job selling the beating he’s taken. HHH costs him the match in the end, but that’s just the beginning. The entire face side of the lockeroom attacks HHH and prevents him from leaving the ring. It’s time for Evolution to pay for their sins. Awesome moment as the faces pound the ring apron along with the crowd as HHH gets taken down a peg. Super hot angle to finish the show, and it no doubt plays a part in my rating.

***

Batista vs. Orton (11/1/04)
This was kind of a hidden gem. It opened up Raw, but it felt like a really strong semi-main event to a PPV. Orton is able to match Batista in the beginning until HHH gets involved (and gets thrown out only to flip out like he was Flair). Then Batista dominates Orton like you’d imagine. He even starts to laugh at how easy it is. Eventually Orton turns up the volume to survive and busts open Batista hard way. He can’t seem to get the death-kill of the RKO tonight, so he’s forced to use flashy pin attempts to get the win. They got over 16 minutes (!) and really told a nice story here. Babyface Orton is growing on me. He still does the douchy poses of heel Orton, but his face timing in matches is pretty damn impressive.

***1/4

Benoit vs. Edge (11/1/04)
Benoit was attacked by Edge the week prior, busting him open in the process. He cut a promo after saying that he didn’t have any catchphrases to end the promo, but he would leave Edge with his anger. Total intense brawl between these 2. You just felt the rage behind every shot Benoit laid in. Edge gets busted open and before he’s able to tap to the Crossface, Evolution jumps in to save their partner at Survivor Series. Not a lot of deep psychology, but plenty of action you can get behind. Really liked Benoit here.

***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:21 am

Edge/Christian vs. Benoit/Benjamin (11/15/04)
EDGE & CHRSTIAN REUNITED OMG. Just your typical southern tag match with Shelton getting worked over and Benoit cleaning house. I kind of marked for the E&C corner double team. Nice pace and easy to follow along with. This is the kind of thing I like more than most, though.

***

HHH vs. Maven (11/15/04)
This is the first week of guest GM, and Maven drew number 1. HHH came out and told Maven that he could either join Evolution or lose later in the night. Maven thought long and hard about the decision until Benoit came up to him and told him he’d be spitting in the face of everyone in the locker room if he passed this up. Totally overbooked with Benoit and Jericho trying to help Maven win the title, but it’s saying something when the crowd goes from apathy to believing Maven is about to be World Champion. Not so much a great match but a great angle.

**3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:22 am

Benoit vs. Edge (11/22/04)
Benoit was GM and he challenged HHH to a cage match for the title. HHH got “hurt” by Batista (starting one of the best slow turns WWE has ever done imo) and Benoit didn’t want the cage to go to waste, so he threw Edge in there. Standard stuff from these guys. Benoit blades and gets pissed about it. Felt like it could have been a great match, but as it is, it’s just a good one.

***

HHH vs. Edge vs. Benoit (11/29/04)
Fantastic triple threat match. Probably one of the best the WWE has ever put on. Interesting stories as HHH looks to survive the month as champion, Benoit looks to reclaim what he lost over the summer in the same type of match he won it in, and Edge looking for the title for the first time (hard to believe considering he’s like a 10 time champion now). One thing I really loved about this was the pace. They pretty much go all out for the time it’s given and make the title seem like something worth fighting over. A great moment as Batista comes out to help HHH, but is soon forced back to the locker room. The camera catches a smile, as if to say he’s glad he won’t be able to save HHH now, as he walks to the back. The announcers never comment on it either due to chaos going on in the ring. HHH looks to be in control before Orton takes him out and leaves Benoit and Edge to do battle. I’m sure everyone remembers the ending, as it lead to HHH vacating the belt. If you don’t mind the WWE style 3 way, then I find it hard to believe that you won’t like this.

***1/2

Benoit/Jericho vs. HHH/Batista (12/6/04)
Awesome moment as Lillian announces HHH as the “former World Champion” and he bum rushes the ring ready to punch her in the face. She hops the barricade and HHH follows her full force until she’s able to escape through the masses. Ha, greatness. Anyway, this is pretty much here to make HHH look like he needs Batista. Everytime Big Dave got into the ring he looked legit. Benoit and Jericho had to double team him to make a dent in the armor. There was one point where HHH was in the Walls/Crossface combo, and Batista just rolled in and clubbed Jericho like a baby seal, and then picked up Benoit and slammed him on the ground. Afterwards, HHH accidentally hits Batista with a chair. TENSION~!

***
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 4:31 am

Lita vs. Trish (12/6/04)
I’d say this is pretty easily the biggest women’s feud in WWE history and the fact that it main evented Raw is pretty damn cool. Lita wants the belt in her homestate and Trish wants blood because Lita broke HER BEAUTIFUL NOSE AND MADE HER A FREAK a couple weeks prior. Lita almost dying on a dive is insaaaaaaaane and Trish is seriously one of the best heels of the decade too. God bless her, she’s a bitch. Crowd is one of the hottest I’ve ever seen for a WWE women’s match too. Match doesn’t go that long but they manage to keep everything interesting to me throughout. This is certainly in the top 5 Divas matches I can recall. I’d say it’s one of the only Divas matches I’m even considering throwing a vote for (Trish/Mickie WM 22 is the other). Good stuff and, oh hey, a nice moment.

***

Edge vs. Orton (12/13/04)
Man, did this come out of no where. The roles are reversed from their 7/19 match with Edge as the heel and Orton as the face. Edge wants to prove a point that he deserves to be World Champion, which is getting announced tonight. Orton dominates the start until Edge is able to catch him off guard and take advantage. Loved the finishing stretch, particularly the playing off of the 7/19 finish on Edge’s part. Maybe it’s just because I’ve never seen this before, but I think this may be their best match, at least from 2004. Orton may be 2nd in my WOTY for 2004. Just a ton of quality throughout. His face persona is growing on me even more after this.

***1/2

HHH/Batista vs. Benoit/Jericho (12/13/04)
This is HHH and Benoit’s chance to prove they deserve the title. At one point, Jericho hits Flair on the outside and we get perhaps the greatest Flair flipout ever. HHH calms him down and says that they can’t get DQ’ed tonight. Match also continues to push Batista to monster status. At one point when Benoit was playing FIP, he manages to take control for a second. HHH tags Batista in and Batista brings Benoit back to Earth. This leads to, you guessed it, HHH tagging back in (while holding his bruised chest). Benoit eventually takes down HHH again, but as Batista is tagged back in, so is Jericho. Benoit comes back in and destroys HHH, but just like the week prior, when he has HHH in the Crossface, Batista (the legal man) picks him up and slams him down for the 3. Batista looks clutch again and HHH stares up at him from the ground with a look of fear in his eyes at what this monster is capable of. Great, great match.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:02 am

Raw 2004 (!) (03/29) - Shelton Benjamin vs Triple H
This is one of those instances where Hunter used his status, character and previous booking of basically being a hated/evil/dominant bastard to actually propel a guy beneath him and have a strong story based match without any glitz attached. He was great with his character playing as the vet who wasn't taking this youngster seriously. He slaps Shelton around, laughs at him and basically pulls out a bunch of cool mind games tactics that create a strong core for the match. It has that vibe where every body in the building wants to see HHH lose, be it guys it the change rooms or fans in the seats. Earlier in the show him brushing off Shelton and the way in which the match came about made it have that vibe even more. He's great at being the elitist douche. Shelton has way more focus here than most of his matches. This was back when he was motivated and a hot rising star making a name for himself. They put over his amateur background troubling HHH briefly early and then showcase his athletic advantage throughout the rest. It made him look unique and talented the way they booked this.

Slowly Hunter realising he'd overlooked Shelton was a neat transitional story. Note worthy sequences are the payoff ones: Hunter almost delivers a Pedigree and signals "this close", so Shelton uses his speed to surprise him with a quick roll up and also mouths "this close". There's a couple of other similar sequences which were very well done. Triple H does well with the transition into making it a brawl and just hammering Shelton because he can't outwrestle him. He tests Shelton out with simple, hard hitting moves and uses a survivalist approach to dealing with Shelton's speed and vigour. His moveset fit in better that way than in a lot of his matches actually. The main drawing points for criticism could be that Hunter's offence lacked a little direction or cohesiveness and Shelton's comebacks were rushed or misplaced at times. In the context of him constantly surprising HHH every time Hunter thinks he's in control it makes sense I guess but it still could've came across even better.

Shelton hits some nice aerial offence in this as well as plenty of neat roll ups that seemed particularly fitting for this style of match. Basically it was a contextually sound match where everything they did kind of fit the situation. Shelton makes HHH's offence look particularly sharp and damaging too, really working hard to give it an edge. The crowd's pretty hot for this and as an entire angle (Benoit's sitting out there rooting for Shelton) it's well delivered WWE 101 stuff reminiscent of something you'd see in 2000. Shelton came across as a big deal while Flair's interference distracting Hunter for the surprise roll up victory was a great payoff upset. It came across like Triple H finally getting what he deserved and was a big deal because of everything that had preceded it for the last few years and the Evolution years in particular. It had room to be better and expand on things a touch, but I liked how this brought something different to the table. Both men were on their game and rock solid booking meant they busted out a genuine surprise packet of a contest.

***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:02 am

Raw 2004 (05/10) - Edge vs Randy Orton
Man, I loved this! Orton has to be Edge's best ever opponent by a mile and Edge seemed to make Orton click on another level too. This is the last time two young midcarders fighting over a midcard title felt meaningful and special. It was the last time a crowd cared about such a thing too. Such tight, focused offence from both men. Edge batters the shit out of Orton's back and Orton batters the shit out of Edge's head, each of them meticulously setting up for their finishers. So much of this consists of clubbing blows and painful looking offence. It's really convincing. Orton's headlock and head offence was at its peak here. His moveset was so brilliantly purposeful. Edge added strategy and viciousness to his good old fashioned exciting high octane offence. It never felt cheap in these matches either. Orton relying on Flair to come out to help after starting off wanting to be solo was great.

These two captured this red hot magma level of energy and electricity together. This match just gives the fans what they want to see and they work them into the palms of their hands for the finishing minutes. I could watch them beat the crap out of each other all day. They showed a genuine hatred for each other too, so it was personal and not just all generic. Aside from one mistimed sequence everything was executed super well. In this one Edge dominates more than at Vengeance and puts on a better performance. It just doesn't hold the significance or the diversity of Orton's performance there. Plus it had less time so naturally was less memorable and substantial in regards to developing themes. However there's no dull spots in this and it's a tremendous roller coaster ride. These matches were honestly worked smarter and more effectively than a huge chunk of WWE main event matches throughout the decade.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:03 am

Raw 2004 (10/11) - Benoit, Edge & Michaels vs Evolution
Thought I'd point out that Batista was really good in his role during tag matches for the year. He added more than HHH. He was still green and hadn't nailed singles matches, but his cutoffs and short spurts of destruction always added a lot to these contests. The guys he was against always bumped well for him too and sold him as a monster. Benoit killing Flair with chops is great once again here. Such fire, energy and grittiness. He was the perfect determined blue collar guy trying to take down the evil corporation. Thus even him going through a standardised moveset made for damn good viewing because of the bigger picture and how much vigor he delivered it with.

Mike brought up an excellent point about Michaels not fitting in throughout the year. He doesn't do much here but it's all run through the motions stuff. Sorta like he didn't care. As a tag worker throughout the year he was basically never near the MVP which was surprising. He's probably my go to example of backing up Benoit's 2004. They both used a very formula based, simple structure in these tags - but Benoit delivered it magnificently while Michaels was noticeably average. Benoit once again is just fabulous on selling, as he has his back targeted. That's another staple for his year - his selling and bumping was still at its peak. Since a lot of the time Benoit on defence usually took up a fair portion of the match that meant at least 50% of it was gonna be great no matter what. He definitely carried these tags, while all the other guys just chipped in and complimented him fine, whether it was is teammates or his opponents. A great example of tags making guys look far better and delivering much better matches than if they were put under the microscope in big singles matches. Good match, reaching really good at various stages.

***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:06 am

Raw 2004 (05/17) - Edge & Chris Benoit vs Randy Orton & Batista
This is almost the peak as far as things being delivered perfectly in the whole Evolution 2004 setting. It's everything that makes all of these tags really good, only amped up to the next level. It's the second best tag I've watched from the year behind the 6 man elimination, but I haven't seen the other 6 man involving the same guys. This has a couple of themes: Orton & Edge despise each other, while Evolution are desperate to regain some more gold after a bad run where the underdogs have been clicking on all cylinders and dishing out a big "FUCK YOU". Edge & Orton begin with angry lock ups before moving into good material that you'd see in their singles matches. It felt like a hell of an intense battle whenever they were fighting each other in this match, which was the majority of it. They build Benoit up as the toughest man alive early on as he just gets fierce inside the ring. Beautiful to watch as usual. The faces dominate early in a really good extended opening shine period.

In typical heel fashion Evolution capatilise on a mistake, focusing on the freshly hurt arm of Edge with plenty of quick tags, isolation and wear down holds to make sure they don't have to deal with Benoit. It all had direction and Orton in particular cranked the holds well to make them look damaging. The FIP was well done, with Southern Tag formula delivered very well, using all of the typical tools and layout. When Benoit finally gets in, the match has been crafted so that it feels like an epic escalation and basically everyone is just loving what they're seeing. He also doesn't hit any Germans, the Headbutt or the Crossface until the last couple of minutes. It was a really hot tag though. This was the last year where you'd genuinely say to someone "you have to go back and see what you were missing on WWE television that year". It did have crap and a few dud storylines but there was so much stuff like this, combined with it being the last time the crowd really cared, that it's stuff you can just sit back and enjoy the ride with.

In the end we get a nice callback spot with Batista this time double clotheslining Edge & Benoit after being double clotheslined by them earlier. Once again it illustrated his incredible power. We get a chaotic atmosphere, desperate cheating by the heels, a bunch of nearfalls, a ref bump and crazy finale action to complete what was already a great match. Benoit got the absolute best out of both Batista & Orton, while Edge had magnificent chemistry with Orton. Then the Edge/Batista segments were short but sweet in developing the FIP section. There's no passengers in this one as everything clicks. I'll gladly back this as a must watch TV tag. I highly doubt something like this could come across so well on current WWE programming.

***3/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:07 am

Raw 2004 - Shelton, Benoit & Orton vs Evolution
Agreed with Mike for the most part, although surprisingly I wasn't a massive fan of this despite still thinking it was good. It was cool seeing it turned into a handicap as it allowed them to use the outnumbering theme. Whenever the faces get on top the disadvantage becomes apparent as the loose man from Evolution gets a surprise attack. Starts off with a nice Shelton/HHH flashback too. Shelton was in for most of the match and while story wise it was effective to have him dominated, the FIP section was good rather than great. They targeted his leg well though, as well as coming across like a cohesive unit. The hot tag seemed a bit too inevitable and meh though. Also, Orton came out at the end and looked too fresh and energetic for mine. It didn't seem like he was fighting adversity or hurt, plus it was all so rushed. Benoit at TLC III is how you do something like this. Once again, worth anybody's time but decidedly a step below most of the years work. By this stage, it wasn't quite as fresh or hot either.

***
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:11 am

Raw 2004 - Chris Benoit vs Kane
Talk about letdown of the century. I mean this was still somewhere between good and great, but I'm shocked at how people can consider this better than Bad Blood. This one was around the 10 - 11 minute mark, which would be fine, but all of the themes which were brilliantly built and expanded on at the PPV were rushed here. It was just like a mini rehash where thing weren't as meaningful. It had all been seen before only even better. At BB they built Kane up as one of the most legit monsters in modern company history in the space of one night, from the ground up. In this one his offence had no general focus, it was simple Kane cut off stuff which was fine but compare this to BB, where he delivered his best domination periods and most focused offence ever. There he set up for the Choke Slam super extensively and Benoit sold how effectively his head had been rattled and battered. This one was more your generic monster match.

The stage is smaller here and they have to rely on a load of stipulations to create a story rather than just building one from scratch. BB was a landmark Benoit match representing the entire story of his life and a best of Kane match. Here it was just reduced to "well, he's gotta make him tap I guess". There was way less build towards the submissions and less powerhouse reversals for them here, even though you'd think they would emphasise it more heavily here. The whole time during BB I was genuinely wowed and marking out at all of the smart details. There was none of that depth or subtleness here. Benoit's selling and the showcase of how much he was in trouble was seriously a million times better at BB. I'm not exaggerating. This was good selling but BB was absolutely incredible selling and I guess with 15 - 20 minutes they were allowed to create way more adversity, long term effects and meaningful, hard fought for comebacks. Benoit dominated this one too much, locked in the Crossface too much and generally it was an example of a watered down Benoit match, albeit a good one.

It was the Angle-fied, let's rush everything and get through this like a firecracker version of BB and it came across as less tasteful to me. Anything that was really good had been done at the PPV and wasn't freshened up enough to make it stand out. Thus it just wasn't groundbreaking or definitive at all, not to mention it was a regulation formula match rather than a well thought out, intelligent one. Kane didn't seem to hit any awesome powerhouse spots and there was less energy to every bit of his deliverance of offence and Benoit's taking of it. He didn't seem like the sick, twister, merciless freak he was at BB either. It was more your regular Kane. Benoit didn't really play a character you could get into here, the storytelling was external and based on the outside factors rather than executed through the actual action. There seemed to be a general lack of substantial structure here, it decided to fit the good TV match formula instead of going above and beyond. 5 more minutes and they could've had the tools to create another very memorable, special match together but I'm sure I'll forget about this within a couple of weeks. Sorry to tear to shreds what is a legitimately good match, but this was so far below BB that I got to the point where I couldn't comprehend how it's even near that quality, let alone a better match.

*** - ***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:33 am

Kane Vs Chris Benoit - Raw June 28th 2004
A continuation of their Bad Blood match from the get go. Kane still has the power, and Benoit still wants to prove to everyone that he CAN make Kane tap out. Benoit even seems to fake the roll up he used to beat Kane the night before, and turns it into a Crossface attempt!

Oh, I also just found out that Benoit can ONLY retain the title by Submission! Makes even more sense that Benoit is going for the submission lol. Also, Kane can pretty much win the title every possible way imaginable... even if Benoit makes him tap!!! Just kidding, but he can win it via countout and probably DQ as well .

Benoit seems to be showing signs of brain damage as he takes Kane down on the outside and constantly demands that the ref count him out... even though the ref constantly reminds him that he has to win by submission...

Kane's offence is one again great, as is Benoit's selling. Love how Kane keeps powering out of the Crossface too, especially given how awesome it will make the finish to this match.

Benoit is just as relentless as he was at Bad Blood, constantly fighting back against Kane, and managing to hit German Suplexes, the Diving Headbutt and more. His final attack on Kane and his arm was great too; countering a top rope chokeslam by dropping off the ropes to the floor while still holding Kane's arm followed by throwing Kane shoulder first into the ring post, and then a big German Suplex that leads into a Crossface!!!

Kane STILL tries to fight out though, and even turns onto his back, but Benoit doesn't let go and Kane is forced to tap out!

Match is great for the time it got on TV, but I don't think its quite as good as the PPV match. Finish is a hell of a lot better though, but the rest of the match is on a level below.

Rating: ***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:43 am

Shawn Michaels v Randy Orton (RAW, 2/2/04)
- This was alright. Simple TV match and nothing anybody needs to go out of their way to see, but they manage to fit in enough decent stuff with the time given (think it goes about 10 minutes, maybe more). Liked Orton's chinlock in this. I always like how he really cranks on headlocks, and here he managed to make the shittiest rest hold ever look... not shitty, I guess. Watched this today and I've forgotten the finish already, though. Great ref' bump in this too, btw. One of the more organic ones I've seen in a while.

Shawn Michaels v Chris Benoit (RAW, 2/16/04)
- One of the top contenders for TV MOTY, I'd think. I prefer Eddie/JBL, Eddie/Mysterio and Eddie/Show to it, but this is still really, really good. It's largely "my turn/your turn" with neither guy really managing to establish any sustained advantage, but that didn't bother me since they managed to make it work... although I can't really atriculate *why*. Benoit's little spell of offence on Shawn was great, though. Worked the back well and went about it in a pretty cool fashion -- sticking to hitting a high impact move and making a cover directly afterwards, rinse and repeat, as opposed to working any holds. They do still get in an abdominal stretch spot that's good. Finish is... okay, I guess. Not on my list, but I could definitely see it being on someone else's. ***3/4

Shawn Michaels & Chris Benoit v Randy Orton & Batista (RAW, 3/1/04)
- Liked this a lot. Benoit and Michaels are opponents at 'Mania and thus don't have any time for the other's bullshit, so co-existing is highly unlikely. That's apparent when they start a fist fight mid-match. Both Shawn and Benoit take a stint as FIP -- Shawn's is good, Benoit's is even better. Liked Michaels' expressions on the apron as Benoit was crawling over to make the tag. At first it looked like he was going to snub him completely and leave him there to get his ass beaten, but eventually he's like "Ah, fuck it" and tags in to clear house anyway. Love Benoit responding to a Michaels miscue by hitting him - while he's covering Orton - with a diving headbutt. Michaels takes the loss via roll-up but he could give a fuck and wants to get at Benoit above all else, and vice-versa. I had pretty much forgotten entirely how good the build up to the triple threat at 'Mania was, btw. ***1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:44 am

Shawn Michaels & Chris Benoit v Ric Flair, Randy Orton & Batista (RAW, 3/15/04)
- Fuckin' Flair, man. Guy's a hundred years old and he's still the most entertaining thing about nearly every match he's a part of. By this point he's more or less a floppin', choppin' geriatric psycho, but Christ, nobody's a better floppin', choppin' geriatric psycho than Naitch. Flair flip-out moment of the match is him repeatedly punching Michaels in the head until he bleeds from the cut he sustained at Wrestlemania before losing his shit and cussing out the ref' for trying to stop him. Then he goes back and bites Michaels' open wound. Yeah, it's as hilarious as it sounds. Trust me. This goes about 11 minutes, but it kind of feels longer than it is. Not a knock on it or anything, just that they managed to fit in two FIP sections and neither felt at all rushed or lacking. Soon becomes a straight two-on-two tag after Foley hits the scene and kidnaps Orton with his flannel shirt. As far as Michaels/Benoit v Flair/Batista matches go (technically), this isn't as good as the one from a couple weeks later, but it's good for what it is. ***

HHH v Shelton Benjamin (RAW, 3/29/04)
- One of the best examples I can think of when it comes to Helmsley actually putting someone over. He's generally a guy that tries to have epic matches that don't work because he can't (or won't?) work to his opponent's strengths, but here both he and Benjamin have a really nifty 'over-confident heel v young babyface with a point to prove' type match. Everything leading up to Helmsley taking control is tops -- plenty little instances of Hunter trying to establish that he's point blank better than Shelton, only for Shelton to do something that says "well... not really". Helmsley's facials of astonishment-cum-outrage are really good, too. Crowd is super hot for practically everything and you can tell they're totally behind Shelton to pick up a win. Couple awesome nearfalls down the stretch, and the actual finish is about as decisive as one could hope for given the circumstances. I'm sort of tempted to vote for this given that it's a really unusual match for Trip, but there isn't anything I want to drop so it can get on the list... we'll see. ***1/2

Shawn Michaels & Chris Benoit v Ric Flair & Batista (RAW, 3/29/04)
- Liked the HHH/Shelton match from earlier in the night just a little bit more, but this is still pretty great in its own right. And AGAIN with Flair ruling it? Really? I feel spoiled. Definitely gonna have to check out that Flair/Benoit match now, because I can't imagine it not making me smile at its choppin' wackiness. Finish is a pretty good screwjob type finish. I mean, I bought it . There isn't really much to talk about here -- if you like the sound of a match with these four guys in it, then you'll most likely dig it. Yeah. ***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:44 am

Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Mick Foley & Shelton Benjamin v HHH, Ric Flair, Randy Orton & Batista (RAW, 4/12/04)
- Well this was just awesome. I went on about Flair being tonnes of fun in all of these matches last night, and this takes it one step further because he's balls out BUCKET loads of psycho insanity in this. The first few minutes practically consist of every babyface beating the shit out of him. Hell, Michaels slaps him across the face in the first minute and he takes a Flair flop. The exchanges with Benoit are amazing. At one point they're chopping each other to SHREDS and then they start punching each other in the face and can you HEAR that shit?! BAH GAWD, CAN YA HEAR IT?! I could probably waste a good half hour noting all the great shit Flair does in this, but all you need to know is that he scores a 10 on the I-just-packed-my-asscrack-with-peanut-butter geriatric-lunatic-o-meter. There's really way too much good things going on in this for me to talk about, because I'm really fuckin' tired right now and I can't be bothered writing a whole lot about anything, but everybody is good in their role and it makes for one Hell of a match. I'd actually like to do a big trademark ramble on this at some point, because it's the kind of thing I'd love to talk about in detail. Perhaps the next D&R (haven't given up on those, btw). Listed, as if you couldn't guess. ****
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:45 am

Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit - Raw 16.02.2004
When you've got these two you know it's going to be nothing short of a good match and that's exactly what you get here. I wouldn't say it's much more than that though. They always seemed to stay in a lower gear and never took it up a step for me. It's kinda a pretty basic match for each guy but the beauty of that is that a basic match for these two is really good by anyone standards.

***1/2
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 5:45 am

Shelton Benjamin vs Triple H - Raw 29.03.2004
This is a middle finger up to anyone who ever says that Trips never puts any talent over. Shelton goes from being a great tag wrestler to being a potential main eventer overnight thanks to Hunter here. The start I adore with Shelton mocking and copying Triple H's taunts and throwing them back at him. Adds a bit more to him than this kid who's really athletic plus it gets the crowd behind that bit more too.

HHH's cocky heel attitude is taylor made for this particular match and it mixes perfectly with Shelton's athletic babyface persona. After Shelton's early pressure and showing he can hang in there with the game, Trips gets a nice period of attack in which of course helps to build up towards Shelton's big comeback later on in the match. Thankfully he keeps his cocky attitude about him in beating down Shelton. Flair at ringside adds some extra greatness to the match as well in his own special way that only he can do.

The finish then is perfect for putting Shelton over but not making Trips look too weak due to the distraction which Shelton takes advantage of for the win. In fairness Shelton didn't actually have to win this match in order to look like he belonged in there with the likes of HHH but it was the big win that he needed for justification to challange the bigger boys. Shame that all this came to nothing in the end though. Up there with Hart/Waltman in terms of a match that made someone way bigger than they were beforehand.

***3/4+
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:04 am

Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit, Mick Foley & Shelton Benjamin v HHH, Ric Flair, Randy Orton & Batista (RAW, 4/12/04)

Fuck me.

Just.... fuck me. This match was... possibly the funnest tag match I've ever saw in WWE/F ever. Everyone just filled their role perfectly, Trips was great as the leader of his team, instructing folk around and just being a badass type, Batista was great as the power house enforcer type, Orton acted smart (When Shelton was crawling to tag HBK Orton didn't try to stop him, because he knew he wouldn't reach him in time, instead he stood in the opposite corner and prepared for Shawn, just a nice touch), Benoit was good although he was actually the guy in the match I remember least about, Benjamin... Benjamin was great, I never saw the big deal about him (Please remember when I got back into wrestling in '05 he was doing his MAMA gimmick) but here he's just... brilliant. He should totally have went further than he did. Michaels was great too with him pulling out quite a few of his big PPV moves (Going over the top rope to the outside and the such).

Which bring me to the two I'm gonna most likely talk about the most.

Foley and Flair.

They just made the match that fucking much better. Foley (Who, by the way actually made me do a double take over how fucking thing he was) was great on the apron (Even if he did have a tendacy to wander) and his fight with Flair was quite extraordinary (Note to self: Watch I Quit match between the 2). A nice touch I noticed that doesn't affect this match at all: Foley, as far as I know, never once wore his Cactus Jack T-shirt during the whole like year build up to the match against Orton, I honestly really like that, made him wearing it at Backlash a bit more special. Biggest mark out moment for me? A FUCKING PROPER MANDIBLE CLAW .

Flair.... Flair is batshit crazy in every fucking way, those fucking chops he took, his slap in the face, walk 2 steps, spit, then FLAIR FLOP thing made me legit laugh out loud, him taking the bullet for Orton on the first Sweet Chin was pure brilliance he was just.... batshit, cray old man Flair is slowly becoming my biggest guilty pleasure in wrestling.

All in all this was a great fucking match, it had a few segment that were TV tag match 101 and they could have played up Foley and HHH a bit more imo but it was still 17 minutes of pure entertaining shit. Almost certainly on my list

****1/4
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:05 am

Watched the 4/12/04 RAW 8-man tag again and it ruled even HARDER this time. It seemed to vanish off my list and I don't know why, but it's definitely back on there now. Totally love crazy old man Flair in all of this stuff. Being 100% serious here; I think Eddie's the only guy I've enjoyed watching more from all the stuff that year. That spot where he and Benoit are ripping their chests to shreds is totally amazing, especially because it just breaks down into them punching each other in the face. There's an amazing moment where Benoit has Helmsley in a Sharpshooter and Flair comes in to try and cheapshot him, which in turns brings in everybody and the babyfaces clean house, and the POP for that shit is unreal. Foley's pretty inconspicuous in this for the most part, but whenever he's in there he rules it. Great moment where Orton's on the apron giving Helmsley a little extra leverage with an abdominal stretch and Foley runs all the way from his own corner just so he can punch him in the face. Two strong FIP sections as well, Benjamin's being the longest and crammed with good stuff. Flair's strike exchanges are once again standout. Batista's a good powerhouse shitkicker, too. Awesome spot where he catches Benjamin's leg and audibly shouts "FUCK YOU!", spins him around and winds up getting plastered by that Dragon Whip thing Benjamin used a lot. Finishing stretch is great and one of the best finisher-heavy stretch runs in any US tag match I've ever seen. GREAT moment where Michaels nips-up and Batista WASTES him with a clotheline right to the fuggin' face. Everything's paced perfectly and all of the finishers are spaced out really well so it doesn't feel like it's going overboard. Totally boss match and I still can't figure out how this wound up off my list.
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PostSubject: Re: 2004 Discussion   Mon Aug 13, 2012 6:06 am

Chris Benoit & Edge v Ric Flair & Batista (RAW, 4/19/04)
- Really good tag match, structure-wise geared perfectly towards my tastes. Flair is KING early on here, which seems to be the story with everything he's in so far. His Flair Flop literally had me laughing out loud. Old man Flair as an utterly shameless stooge is so great. Two good FIP sections as well, Benoit's being the strongest. Helmsley hits the ring and chokes Benoit at one point and JR's going on about how he's trying to choke the life out of Benoit. King's all "Where? What?" and JR's response is awesome: "Aw don't be absurd. Sometimes you make yourself sound so STUPID." Not voting for this, but I'm really looking forward to seeing the rest of this RAW '04 stuff.
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