Monday Night Raw – July 26, 2004 (2018 Redo): Wrestling And Not Wrestling

IMG Credit: WWE

Monday Night Raw
Date: July 26, 2004
Location: Mellon Arena, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler

Now you might not believe this, but it’s a HHH night as he gets another (yes another) World Title shot, this time in a sixty minute Iron Man Match. Normally I would say that this has to be it for HHH’s time near the title but you know that’s not going to be the case. Other than that I’m sure we’re in for a night full of the Diva Search girls because they dominated last week’s show. Let’s get to it.

Here are last week’s results if you need a recap.

And yeah we open with the Diva Search girls being introduced in the back as Julia is eliminated. She’s the good looking blonde one in a revealing outfit who smiles a lot. Totally different from the good looking blonde ones in revealing outfits who smile a lot. After she’s gone, Coach says that tonight, their task is to verbally seduce a WWE superstar. Oh geez is THIS show.

Video on the Iron Man match, which is either the same video from Vengeance or very similar, with a bonus part about tonight at the end.

Opening sequence.

Battle Royal

Edge, Tyson Tomko, Sylvan Grenier, Robert Conway, Stevie Richards, Hurricane, Maven, William Regal, Rodney Mack, Randy Orton, Tajiri, Rhyno, Rosey, Val Venis, Chuck Palumbo, Matt Hardy, Chris Jericho, Kane, Batista, Ric Flair

Edge gets the first entrance and we see about a dozen people in the ring. Since JR is slow at times, he seems confused as to why Edge is here as well. Eric Bischoff comes out to say the winner gets the World Title shot at Summerslam. Minor note here: the wrestlers didn’t know why they were in the ring or what they were fighting for. Venis was very happy about the news and looked fired up to get a shot. That’s the kind of realistic reaction that you don’t get in today’s overly scripted world. Or maybe he’s just a better actor.

Jericho and Tomko start fighting before the bell and it’s Evolution jumping on Regal for the first elimination. Edge and Jericho clothesline Tomko out and a spear puts Palumbo (He still has a job?) down, followed by a toss out. Jericho walks into the RKO and Evolution tries to get rid of him with Edge making a logical save. We take a break and come back with a very excited JR telling us that Venis and Hardy were put out during the commercial at Kane’s hands. Matt came back in to get after Kane but couldn’t get rid of him. Maybe that’s why Lita cheated on him.

Back to live action with Hurricane being thrown out and Rosey eliminating Mack and Richards. Jericho gets sent to the apron and low bridges Rosey so Edge can dropkick him out. Tajiri saves Rhyno from Au Revoir and kicks La Resistance out. For some reason Tajiri tries the Tarantula on Kane and gets eliminated for his stupidity. Kane powerslams Maven and Flair goes up, with Edge slamming him down instead of knocking him off due to reasons of Flair is too old to take a bump like that.

Another spear hits Kane but he sits up next to the ropes. We take another break and come back with no extra eliminations, meaning it’s Batista, Orton, Flair, Edge, Jericho, Maven, Rhyno and Kane as this is certainly getting some time. Kane starts cleaning house and shrugs off Flair’s chops, setting up a good chokeslam. We get the required battle of the bulls with Batista and Kane with a spinebuster taking Kane down.

That earns him a Gore, to one heck of a reaction. There’s a good lesson there about protecting a move, as Rhyno hasn’t won a big match in forever but the Gore is still viewed as devastating so people still buy it. Maven throws Flair out but Rhyno Gores him as well. That’s it for Rhyno though as Batista throws him out and we’re down to six. Everyone gets together to eliminate Kane and Orton drops Maven ribs first onto the top rope for an elimination.

Edge and Jericho get rid of Batista, with Orton seeming to see what happened and not doing anything about it. The partnership doesn’t last long though as Jericho tosses Edge and we’re down to Jericho and Orton. A spinebuster takes Jericho down and a catapult puts Jericho on the ropes but he gets back in. Orton saves himself as the fans are behind Jericho (well duh).

Some skinning of the cat lets Jericho get back in (Orton: “Mother******!”) and they fight on the apron. The slugout gives us some near eliminations with both guys having one leg go near the floor. Orton gets back in but scores with an RKO over the middle rope, followed by a dropkick for the win. Just like at Wrestlemania, Orton seems shocked that he won, which makes sense given how young he still is.

Rating: B-. They did well with this as the action was good and, as tends to be the key to battle royals, the extra time allowed the drama to build up. You can only get things going so well when the match is ten minutes long and that wasn’t an issue here. Orton winning is a nice surprise, as you absolutely have to try someone new at some point and with the long Intercontinental Title reign and rematch out of the way, there isn’t really anything else for him to do but move up to the main event.

And now, the Diva Search girls get twenty seconds each to verbally seduce…..Kamala. This results in some horrible acting (yeah I know), Kamala shouting and slapping his stomach a lot, and the girls wondering how they got talked into this. Michelle goes first and says Kamala could teach her a thing or two and…..oh dear how many of them are left? Christy asks if she can show him how a body slam works because she’s new at wrestling.

Camille says he has beautiful hands as there isn’t a lot of seducing going on around here. Maria asks Kamala if he knows what verbally seducing means. Maybe he knows it better than any of the girls so far. Maria: “Is that what you do? You pound your belly?” Tracy does lines from the Nutty Professor and laughs a lot. Carmella laughs too and says that Kamala is so hot, sounding like she’s about to cry.

Chandra screams upon seeing Kamala and pulls at her top a bit. Amy, in a tied off Hines Ward jersey to a big pop, promises that she would rock Kamala’s world and dances against him a bit. Finally (thank goodness), Joy thinks Kamala is from Hawaii and asks to slap his belly. Joy: “Do the WWE dance.” That was the most grueling 7:33 of my life and THIS IS GOING TO KEEP GOING FOR HOW MANY MORE WEEKS??? This is the kind of thing that would embarrass me if a non-wrestling fan saw me watching it and that’s about as low as you can get. Side note: did any of these people know who Kamala was? Like, any one of them?

Smackdown Rebound. I’ve never been so happy to see JBL.

Clip of some WWE personalities at the Democratic National Convention in Boston for another voting drive. Nothing wrong with that, even though Linda McMahon is there. Hearing Stacy Keibler talking about the economy is….weird.

Diva Search. Swimsuits. How to vote. More time wasted. Each one of them gets their own phone number for the voting as this eats up even more time.

Flair and Batista congratulate Orton on his win until HHH comes in. Orton is ready to face him for the World Title at Summerslam and wishes him good luck tonight, which HHH eventually accepts. He doesn’t need luck though.

Raw World Title: HHH vs. Chris Benoit

HHH is challenging in a sixty minute Iron Man match. After a rules explanation (with overtime promised in the event of a draw), we’re ready to go with a lockup around the ring. HHH gets in a slap to the face as the feeling out process continues. Benoit’s headlock is countered into a top wristlock with Benoit bridging back up (always cool) but not being able to get the Crossface.

That’s enough for HHH to take a breather on the floor as the time filler is completely acceptable here. Back in and the threat of a Pedigree has Benoit running for the ropes as a random HHH chant starts up. Benoit can’t get the Crossface so he settles for another headlock. The Crossface sends HHH running outside again as we’re five minutes in.

Benoit goes after the knee this time with a legdrag and some cannonballs down onto the leg. HHH gets a boot up in the corner and hits a DDT to cut Benoit off. The Pedigree is countered into a Sharpshooter attempt which is countered into the Crossface as we’re ten minutes in. HHH tries to roll out but gets rolled up to put Benoit up 1-0 with 49:50 to go.

Benoit – 1, HHH – 0

Back from a break with Benoit holding a chinlock with 46:15 to go. A snap suplex gives Benoit two and a German suplex gets the same. The abdominal stretch goes on as I wait for the Wilbur Snyder reference. HHH finally gets it over to the ropes and hiptosses Benoit over, sending him back first onto the apron. Back in and a heck of an Irish whip into the corner puts Benoit (bleeding from the mouth) down.

Another whip is reversed to flip HHH over the corner and there’s the dive through the ropes with Benoit crashing hard into the barricade. We take another break with both guys down on the floor and come back with about 37:00 minutes left. HHH blocks a Sharpshooter attempt so Benoit softens up the knee a little bit more. Benoit channels his inner HHH with a modified Indian deathlock, which suits him far better than HHH.

The Figure Four keeps the knee in trouble until HHH makes a rope. A hot shot onto the turnbuckle rocks Benoit for a delayed two with 33:00 to go. Benoit rolls the German suplexes and goes up but misses the Swan Dive. The Pedigree ties us up with….well there’s no clock but I’d assume about 31:00 to go.

Benoit – 1, HHH – 1

Benoit is down on the floor and HHH knees him back off the apron as we hit the halfway mark. HHH drops the still injured chest onto the steps and gets a countout with 28:45 to go.

HHH – 2, Benoit – 1

We take a break and come back with 25:21 to go as HHH whips him chest first into the buckle for two. HHH hammers away some more as King talks about voting for his favorite Diva. During a World Title match with the champion in trouble. Because WWE of course. Anyway HHH kicks him in the back and hits the spinebuster for another fall at 21:54 to go.

HHH – 3, Benoit – 1

We take another break and come back with Benoit hiptossing his way out of an abdominal stretch at 18:29. The Pedigree is countered into a failed Sharpshooter attempt. That works so well that they do it again, this time with the hold going on. HHH holds on for over a minute before finally tapping with 15:40 to go. That was some nice drama before the tap.

HHH – 3, Benoit – 2

HHH takes a breather on the floor so Benoit keeps him there with a baseball slide. Back in and the Crossface has HHH in more trouble but this time he gets a foot on the rope. Benoit slaps it on again and HHH taps to tie us up at 12:03 to go.

HHH – 3, Benoit – 3

With the score tied, Flair and Batista come out as we take what should be the final break. Back with 8:30 to go and HHH throws Benoit outside. A knee to the face keeps Benoit in trouble and Batista posts him behind the referee’s back to earn his keep. That’s enough to bust Benoit open and he’s thrown inside for two. HHH hammers away in the corner with 6:00 left. Some rolling German suplexes have HHH in trouble but the referee gets bumped.

The Crossface goes on so Evolution comes in, with Flair throwing in a chair so HHH can crack Benoit in the head. There’s no referee to count so HHH asks Benoit if he’s ok and covers with 4:30 to go. Cue Bischoff with a fresh referee for three straight near falls, drawing Flair back up to the apron. HHH throws the other referee to the floor and it’s Batista and Flair coming in to destroy Benoit again.

Eugene comes in for the save and of course he can beat up Flair, Batista and HHH on his own. Bischoff gets knocked off the apron with 2:30 to go and Eugene chairs HHH down. Benoit crawls over and, with Eugene throwing the referee back in, takes the lead with 6 seconds left and of course wins 4-3. That chair shot knocked HHH cold for over two minutes.

Rating: B. Normally you would think that there would be a lot to talk about in an Iron Man match but that’s not really the case here. It was just an extended version of any HHH vs. Benoit match. In other words, it’s entertaining and a good match, but it’s not like we haven’t seen any of this before. That leaves one thing to talk about it’s not good.

Eugene is completely done as a character as he’s gone from using his comedy style to beat up Rob Conway (fine) to beating up HHH and a mostly fresh Batista and Flair at the same time. Last week Benoit himself got his head handed to him by Batista and Flair is Flair, but Eugene can beat them all up without breaking a sweat? That’s the kind of thing that someone like Hogan, Austin, Rock or Cena should have trouble doing but Eugene did it here with almost no problem. That not only defeats the purpose of the character but goes WAY too far, and it’s going to be even worse when he faces HHH at Summerslam.

Eugene poses on the announcers’ table and a bunch of replays set up HHH glaring at Eugene to end the show.

Overall Rating: B+. There are pretty much three segments on this show, giving you two strong matches that set up the Summerslam main event (plus at least one other match) and both of them were more than fine enough. The problem is the Diva Search stuff, which isn’t funny, isn’t likely drawing any extra fans, and is just showing how worthless these non-wrestlers really are.

The Raw women’s division isn’t great, but it serves a purpose that helps a wrestling show. This stuff is fan service that fills in time, which isn’t good for someone who wants to watch some wrestling around here. Keep those things to one minute segments and do the rest of the stuff on the website if you just have to have it. Last week on Smackdown, Kurt Angle fired four women for having no talents inside the ring. Now we have to see ten more complete for one spot for probably the next two months? That’s our big segment for the summer? I’m so thrilled. Anyway, good show this week, but fast forward through the Diva Search.

Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and pick up the paperback edition of KB’s Complete 1997 Monday Night Raw Reviews (also available as an e-book) from Amazon. Check out the information here:

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