While unspectacular, the opening video sure did set the stage for the night ahead, giving ample time to hype the main selling points of the show.
Benjamin vs. Jindrak is as good a choice as any to open the show, and good use of Benjamins incredible athleticism in those early stages to get the crowd warmed up good and proper. Lots of outside influence throughout, although the story was always how Haas would help/hinder his partner. Nice tease of a heel turn when Haas suddenly spun Benjamin around on the outside … to give him a thumbs up. The descriptions throughout of Haas and his body language throughout the match was quite interesting, with him deep in thought early on, before coming around a little more to help Benjamin when he needed it.
As for the actual in ring action, it wasn’t anything overly special or memorable, but it didn’t need to be. The focus was on the interference / influence of the outside forces, and how they would shape the match - and interestingly, Haas SAVED the title for Benjamin in the end, putting his foot on the ropes after the Knee Trembler. Haas then running from Regal and Jindrak - and the reaction from J.R and Coach - was telling too, with that distraction causing Jindrak in the end. I imagine Jindrak and Regal will demand (rightfully) that Jindrak gets a rematch, but I’ll look forward to hearing what Haas has to say to Benjamin about doing him a huge favour - and how Benjamin will react to Haas helping him stay in the match too.
As I’ve said before, you’ve done a great job putting the Arabian Entity together. Great mesh of different talent, and it’s refreshing to see someone keep Hassan around, especially in such a major role on the Raw brand as one of it‘s top heels.
Given the frustration building for Lita, it makes sense for her to go batshit crazy on Victoria, all guns blazing from the get go. Thought she might have dominated a little longer before Victoria took control, but seeing as Victoria has been built so well as a dominant champion - plus Lita’s dodgy ankle - I guess it makes sense for the champ to take charge. Lots of ankle work by Victoria throughout, and really, it felt like Lita didn’t get much offence in at all, bar her early flurry, a small portion of the middle section of the match, and then the Twist of Fate at the end, before missing the Moonsault.
IMO, she maybe could’ve had a longer period of offence, with a few more near falls leading to the TOF, to add more reason to Victoria getting herself disqualified. Very newsworthy comeback from Trish too, coming to save Lita from what would’ve surely put her on the shelf for the foreseeable future. Victoria has been well built as champion, and the division seems to have been ticking over nicely, but Trish returning now is undoubtedly a shot in the arm for the women, and an eventual triple threat between the three most talented divas of the time would be great to see … at Survivor Series maybe???
The #1 Contender match could well end up being the match of the night, given the intertwining histories of all three men; Edge & Christian, Christian & Jericho, and the more recent Jericho and Edge feud. I’m always keen to see how other bookers start a triple threat, as I always find it tricky to get going with three men involved. For me, I would’ve rather seen Jericho go right for Edge, rather than the awkward stand off before going that route. Given their ongoing feud at present, it would’ve made sense for that to happen. It did make sense though for the two heels - especially as they are former partners - team up on Jericho, but I was glad it was only a brief reunion. I liked the fast pace early on, especially the sequence where Christian took Edge out of the equation on the outside, then got nailed with a baseball slide from Jericho. Another thing that can get irritating about triple threats is one guy sitting out a period of time whilst the other two have a one on one portion, but you didn’t overdo those periods, and kept all three guys involved for the most part. Lots of nods toward the ‘retired’ Ric Flair, with the back and forth chops involving Christian - so if there was any doubt that at some point we’ll see Flair return for revenge, I think that doubt is gone.
The Spear-Unprettier-Edgecution sequence was great too. Not only because I personally love seeing those sharp counters and counter-counters, but because it plays into the history of Edge and Christian, knowing each other so well, they are able to counter one anothers moves, and you played on that again later in the match. Loved, loved, LOVED the spot where Edge was looking for the Spear on Christian, only for Jericho to come from nowhere and not only prevent it, but apply the Walls on Edge … and then Christian then scored a roll up on Jericho for a near fall. Superb sequence. Although, as a minor criticism, the Walls could’ve been locked in a little longer to add some added suspense, before the roll up, plus, it would’ve explained why Edge was out of commission for so long after Jericho then applied the submission on Christian. Felt odd too, with Christian breaking the count on an inside cradle. Should Jericho really need saved from that spot??
As much as I raved about the earlier sequence with Jericho stopping a Spear on Christian with the Walls, the sequence of Jericho avoiding the Unprettier, hitting the Bulldog, missing the Lionsault then getting Speared by Edge undoubtedly topped it. If Christian should’ve broken up a fall, it should’ve been this one, as opposed to the earlier cradle. Not surprised to see you using the Tower of Doom spot, a staple in most triple threat matches. The way you kept all three involved for the majority of the contest is really commendable - something many people tend to struggle with when writing these matches, including the finish, as Jericho took out Edge (with yet another great counter spot) before Christian stole the win off an Unprettier. A tremendously written contest, filled with some brilliant spots and counters. And, despite the minor criticisms it’ll be hard to top this one as match of the night.
For some reason, the Shawn Michaels interview - to me - came off as a little hokey if I’m honest - but that was mainly the way Todd Grisham was written … so maybe you nailed it
. In all seriousness, I just thought the interviewer could’ve been written a little better to deal with his silent interviewee, or maybe just find a way to get the attention of HBK, then repeat his last question to get the one word answer. It felt a bit … y’know, with HBK ignoring everything, then replying to the last question only.
Must say, I really like the pairing of Doane and Nemeth (I know they had been paired as part of the Spirit Squad, but I’m talking as a proper tag team) as both were ready for the exposure to the main roster, but not quite as singles stars, so imo, bringing two guys in together as a team is a perfect way, rather than as a singles star that could get lost in the shuffle. And as a pair of cocky upstarts, I think that’s where they could be best used as. As for this match though, The Dudleys … are stale. I just failed to really invest in the match, and if you want to keep the Dudleys around, I suggest you try and do something to freshen up their act. What that could be beats me.
Also, if you’re using Nemeth as Nemeth and not Ziggler, it might make sense to call his finisher something other than Zig Zag … but not the Nick Nack
. Odd that the Dudleys would be happy enough to retain the belts off a distraction from the Bashams, when they were surely beaten. Again, like the Dudleys, something might need done to make the Bashams a relevant team, as at best I’d call them a ‘serviceable’ pair, a decent tandem to have around, but hardly a team that should be at the forefront of the tag division. Hopefully this is just a slight delay in the PTP winning the titles, as they are by quite a distance the bright spot in the stale Raw tag division.
Typically strong promo from Batista. Such a great character to use as a tough as nails champion, and a win over Kane inside the cage ought to really solidify him as ‘the man’ so to speak - if he wasn’t already.
Without a doubt, the 4 on 1 match was the best built match coming into the PPV, and it was the one most people would be talking about. It felt very much like the type of performance Shawn Michaels pulled off at the Survivor Series in 2003 (a personal favourite) against the odds, so close … yet so far. On a personal note, I think it would’ve added more to the match if you had kept Khali out of it for longer - not just because he sucks, but because of the reaction you could imagine, once HBK eliminated Dutt, and Khali then stepped in the ring for the first time with the facials a bloodied HBK could’ve pulled upon going toe to toe with the seven footer. With the blood too, I think it might’ve been wise to hold off on it just a little longer, but you made sense of it, considering his head was already freshly stapled from last week, so it’s understandable why he would bleed so early.
As expected, Shawn got through three of the four, but beating all four would be just a bridge too far - especially since the GM had to meddle in the finish - such is his desperation to punish HBK. I could imagine just how HOT the crowd would‘ve been in the closing stages, with the Bischoff run in, the ref bump, the near fall, and of course, Sweet Chin Music to Eric himself … before the unhappy finish. While the outcome was slightly predictable, it still told a GREAT story, and continues the story of Michaels troubles in recent times - plus gives Hassan a MAJOR victory. I get the feeling you probably enjoyed writing this match the most, and it was great to read too. The question now is … what next for Michaels??
I see now that Benjamin didn’t even realise Haas saved the title for him until after the match, and while PPV’s are about matches - that was one hell of a promo from Haas, furthering the likelihood of an eventual heel turn. He has basically telegraphed it, talking about how he’d go to any lengths to keep the title if he WAS I.C Champ … so I guess Benjamin shouldn’t be surprised when Haas DOES go to any length when he takes the belt from him down the road
The ‘Game Changer’ name is all kinds of awesome. I knew from your PM that the ‘surprise’ opponent might be a bit of a disappointment, and in all honesty … with it being Eugene again … it kinda was. But at the same time, that’s okay, because it was never built up as something huge, so no one can have any complaints that it was built to be something it wasn’t. With a new alliance with Goldust, I expect a comedic tag team in the future to give both men something to do - which is fine by me, if it means Kennedy will finally move on from his Eugene ‘feud’, and onto something else - and I imagine there is MUCH bigger things in the pipeline for Kennedy, as he’s already on a tear since his debut. It’s the best use I’ve seen of the Kennedy character in a BTB for sure - but he does need a step up in competition now
The out and out brawl to start the cage match was the only logical way to start proceedings, given how personal and hard hitting the entire feud has been from the start. And boy, it didn’t take long for the thing to break down and get the steel involved, did it? Good that Batista was the one to win the first duel, ramming Kane into the steel. You wrote a very hard hitting match up, with no feeling out process or settling in before getting to the big business end of the match, with Kane busting out a big boot early, and a big sidewalk. Batista being back body dropped into the cage sounded nasty. Very pleasing to read that neither man wanted to simply escape and win - they wanted to win by the proper method, and gain an undisputable win over their rival - the way it should be in the feud ending match. A great write up with Kane taking it to Batista, Batista absorbing it all, even being busted open, and coming back strong - the mark of a champion. I know I say it earlier, but Batista is such a great character to use as a strong face champion. While Cena comes off as superman when he makes big comebacks, Batista just seems more believable when making a big comeback.
Slightly disappointing to see Kane (kinda) cry off after narrowly avoiding the Batista Bomb and trying to escape the cage instead. I really liked the idea of the two men - regardless of the face/heel divide - wanting to beat the shit out of each other as the feud ender. Saying that, from the following super-Chokeslam spot, I can see that Kane climbing the cage to escape was a necessary evil, in order to set up the sick spot. The duel at the top of the cage would be great to see too, with the two monsters battling to and fro for supremacy, before ANOTHER huge spot with the Superplex. I’m glad you let them settle, and draw out the pop for over a minute - a spot that big from such big guys needs to be sold like that imo. After what they’ve put themselves through - both in this match and in recent weeks - I don’t think a simple Chokeslam or Batista Bomb will get the job done … and the Chokeslam sure didn’t. Something I didn’t quite like was the scramble between the pair at the door leading to Batista slamming the door on Kane and the eventual (third time lucky) Batista Bomb to bring the curtain down on what was, honestly, quite the (surprisingly) epic rivalry.
The finish fell a little flat to me and it’s down to that fact that as I had mentioned before, with all the hell Kane and Batista put each other through (and the massive stunts in recent weeks) I felt the finish needed to be something over the top like a Batista Bomb off the top rope, catching Kane maybe when he was trying to climb the cage. Would that have been too much?? I guess, maybe, but personally, I would’ve went with something along those lines to end the feud with an almighty bang - maybe even have Kane drag the steps into the ring when Batista was pulling him back in, and lead to the final Batista Bomb on the steps?? Something like that - out of the ordinary. Still, not a knock on the match, it was a great steel cage war, to cap off - as previously mentioned - a surprisingly epic rivalry.
Overall, I’ll keep it short and sweet - the effort was immense, and imo, it paid off with another strong show, with three great (and in different ways too) matches in the three ‘big’ ones, and that’s all we - as readers - can ask for. Moneys worth?? Absolutely. Still work to do to improve, but all in all, has to be said; Great job.