THE YEAR OF 2004FINAL RATING: ***1/2
So far, 2004 is the best year for Raw I've watched in it's entirety (I am yet to watch the Attitude Era years, mind you). There's so much quality and almost every show was an entertaining watch. First, the year starts off on a pretty good note when Chris Benoit moves over from Smackdown after winning the Royal Rumble and that is the first step they take in making Raw the superior brand after getting destroyed by Smackdown for the majority of 2003. After an excellent Road to Wrestlemania, Benoit finally becomes the man by winning the World Heavyweight Championship and he gets a great five months reign with it under which, he keeps putting on great matches with a limited amount of opponents in HHH, Shawn Michaels, Kane and Randy Orton. Speaking of Orton, he starts off his decorated career with a lengthy Intercontinental Championship reign that started in the end of 2003 and carries on into the summer of 2004. During these 7 months, he improves his ring work and wrestles a variety of opponents in good matches, most notably Mick Foley in Backlash. On the midcard, Chris Jericho and Christian (along with Trish Stratus) have a nice and long running feud that is rooted in early 2003 at least. They participate in a few quality matches but then the feud comes to an abrupt stop when Christian gets injured in their steel cage match. They still finish it off when Christian returns with a couple more matches heading into the end of the year, though. Furthermore in the midcard, Shelton Benjamin gets drafted to Raw and impresses fans all year long with his excellent athletic abilities until his IC title victory at Taboo Tuesday. The women's division is also in one of its last years where it matters at all and a few good matches can be found there. Speaking of matches, there are so many to choose from in Raw 2004, many of them are overlooked gems. And after a bit of a slow summer, once Randy Orton turns face, the year comes to an awesome end following Survivor Series when the main event consists of more than just 2 or 3 men which directly leads into the excellent Elimination Chamber match in New Year's Revolution 2005. Amongst the main eventers is Edge, who transitions from a stale and irrelevant face to an excellent heel. Speaking of excellent heels, Muhammad Hassan makes his debut a couple of weeks before the end of the year and I'll expect good things from him while he was there as I head into 2005. Only thing that annoys me is the mindless sheep in the audience booing him for speaking the truth.
Despite all the good, Raw is not without its bad parts either. Thankfully, it's toned down compared to 2003 but we still have some garbage to put up with. Most notably, it's the "Diva Search" segments that take up so much air-time during the 5 or so long months it lasts. I skipped most of them while watching the shows but for a fair review, I have to include them and considering the amount of air-time they steal, it counts against the year big time. But as much of a problem is the annoying Eugene character. It was fun for one month or something but when you reach the summer, Eugene starts to take over the freaking main event to the point where Chris Benoit, the World Champion, has to play second fiddle to him. That's some serious bullshit right there. All of that, just to have HHH kill him at SummerSlam and at fucking last, put him in the midcard where he should be at most. When has a comedy character been the focus of the show to this extent? If anybody knows any other example, let me know. Oh and I shouldn't forget the boring HHH/Shawn Michaels feud that built-up until Bad Blood but I've already explained why I can't stand it and it's only for a few weeks it lasts, so no biggie. But I am back to Chris Benoit and his title reign here. Why in the world did he only get four different opponents to feud with? I can't understand this for the life of me. For instance, when Chris Jericho won that silly little chairs game they had in the 5th July episode in Winnipeg, why in the hell didn't he get to battle for the World Title with Benoit instead of a IC title match even though he cut a promo weeks before it saying that he wants a World Title match? Complete nonsensical decision here.
TV matches worth watching: Chris Benoit vs Shawn Michaels (16 Feb, 3 May), Benoit vs Kane (28 June), Benoit vs Randy Orton (15 Aug), Benoit vs HHH (26 July), Benoit vs HHH vs Edge (29 Nov), Benoit vs Edge (22 Nov), Randy Orton vs Edge (13 Dec), Orton vs Chris Jericho (5 July), Jericho vs Christian (10 May), HHH vs Shelton Benjamin (29 March), HHH vs Eddie Guerrero (22 March)
It's like Smackdown and Raw switched places when it comes to quality from 2003 into 2004. The brand already suffers when Benoit is traded to Raw but things only get worse by March during the draft show. But this is for the good parts and not the bad. Unfortunately, there's not much I can think of. Eddie Guerrero does all he can to carry the deserted show when he's the WWE Champion, Bradshaw makes his transition into the excellent JBL character and he does a great job as top heel and champion for half of the year, John Cena starts moving up on the ranks and he's pretty much the most over face alongside Eddie and The Undertaker whenever he's there. Otherwise, Rey Mysterio is always a workhorse, both on TV and PPV and I guess you can say that the show starts getting better towards the end. I don't know how, though. I just enjoyed it more compared to the terrible few months when "Mr. Angle" was GM. And similar to Raw's "Diva Search", there's the "Tough Enough" competition that takes place towards the end of Smackdown. It takes up a lot of TV time too but at least, this is interesting and features some athleticism which is what wrestling is about unlike the "Diva Search" that was strictly about looks and nothing else. Oh and Carlito debuts towards the end of the year which is another plus, I guess. Lastly, I can't forget Heidenreich as he's one of the most unintentionally hilarious "psycho heels" I have come across so far.
Where do I start? The brand suffers big time in terms of star power because Brock Lesnar, the top heel, walks out after Wrestlemania and they don't have much star power at all. Undertaker appears every now and then but this is far from one of his better years. Then there are a few flops. Ultimo Dragon debuted in 2003 and was released in 2004 without getting much to do, Mordecai was around for one month before disappearing and there's probably more flopped characters that debuted and went at the speed of light so I'm probably forgetting somebody but you get the point. The midcard is pretty bland and uninteresting. There's some talented guys like Cena, René Duprée and Rob Van Dam around there but for the most part, their matches are uninteresting so who cares? And there's the cruiserweight division which goes through lots of bullshit in the spring when Tajiri is traded to Raw and Jacqueline wins it only to lose it a week later in a "hand tied behind back" match against Chavo. Then for the summer, Undertaker is in a program with Paul Bearer, Paul Heyman and the Dudleyz but the whole thing is so confusing and uninteresting, it's just hard to care. I don't even know if I can call most of the stuff in this year "bad" as much as it is "irrelevant". So yeah, there's not much in this year to pick up on.
TV matches worth watching: John Cena vs Undertaker (24 June), JBL vs Eddie Guerrero (15 July)
Pay Per Views:
This was not a bad year for PPVs at all. It depends, though. If we look at the Smackdown exclusive PPVs, they were dreadful from top to bottom. They all had one or two quality matches but otherwise, the rest of them featured nothing but filler and terrible matches. Raw, on the other hand, had a pretty good year with brand exclusive PPVs. Almost every single one of them had at least one or two GREAT matches and the undercard stuff were more okay than terrible. Although some terrible stuff can still be found, most notably Tomko vs Richards at Unforgiven. Now the best part of the PPVs are by far the big four. They delivered with almost every one of them. Royal Rumble was a decent start and despite a shit undercard, the Rumble match alone is worth it. Wrestlemania XX had lots of filler but when it was good, it was great! SummerSlam had an excellent main event as well as some decent stuff for the rest of the card and nothing too terrible. Lastly, Survivor Series might be the best of them all with only one dud.
PPV Ranking: (Best matches)
1. Survivor Series (Team Orton/Team HHH, Undertaker/Heidenreich, Shelton Benjamin/Christian)
2. Wrestlemania XX (HHH/Shawn Michaels/Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero/Kurt Angle)
3. Backlash (Chris Benoit/Shawn Michaels/HHH, Randy Orton/Mick Foley)
4. SummerSlam (Chris Benoit/Randy Orton, JBL/Undertaker, HHH/Eugene)
5. Royal Rumble (Royal Rumble match, Shawn Michaels/HHH)
6. Vengeance (Chris Benoit/HHH, Randy Orton/Edge)
7. Bad Blood (Chris Benoit/Kane, Randy Orton/Shelton Benjamin)
8. No Way Out (Brock Lesnar/Eddie Guerrero, Kurt Angle/John Cena/Big Show)
9. Unforgiven (Randy Orton/HHH, Chris Jericho/Christian)
10. Taboo Tuesday (HHH/Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton/Ric Flair)
11. Judgment Day (Eddie Guerrero/JBL)
12. Armageddon (JBL/Booker T/Undertaker/Eddie Guerrero)
13. No Mercy (JBL/Undertaker)
14. The Great American Bash (Eddie Guerrero/JBL, Rey Mysterio/Chavo Guerrero)
Last edited by Choke2Death; 10-29-2012 at 11:40 AM.
Reason: added a couple of matches.