Sam Shaw def. Scorpio Sky, Sammy Guevara and Colt Cabana in a NWA National Championship Fatal 4-Way Elimination Qualifying Match
I love how we heard from most of the competitors (everyone except for Shaw) beforehand. It raised the stakes of the match and made that NWA National Championship feel more important. For a four-way elimination match, this was way too short at seven minutes long. It was fun while it lasted, but the finish felt abrupt. Shaw was easily the weakest choice to go over, so that was surprising. However, Guevara stood out in a major way with all of his crazy high spots and Sky and Cabana also had solid showings.
Barrett Brown def. Laredo Kid
I'm familiar with Laredo Kid but have never heard of Barrett Brown before. They worked well together, but I felt it lacked a strong story and that extra spark that would've taken it to that next level. It's odd that these guys were given more time than the four-way, but at least the crowd was invested in more of the action. Laredo Kid is an AAA guy, so I assume that's why Brown picked up the win, even though I don't think I've seen him in the NWA since.
This edition of Raw was originally supposed to feature a fake funeral for the Mr. McMahon character following his "death" two weeks earlier. Obviously, that changed following the real-life death of Chris Benoit that same day, turning this episode into a memorial show for Benoit instead. Unlike the Eddie Guerrero tribute show a few years earlier, no matches were held and instead Superstars and commentators were shown paying their tributes to Benoit and his family. It's chilling to watch back knowing what we do now about how Benoit killed his wife and son before taking his own life, but it's an interesting watch, nonetheless. Portions of this Hard Knocks documentary aired throughout the evening along with the finish of the Royal Rumble 2004 match that he won, Benoit vs. Elijah Burke on ECW from the week prior, Benoit vs. Dean Malenko at WCW Hog Wild 1996, Benoit vs. JBL from an episode of SmackDown in 2006, Benoit vs. Jushin "Thunder" Liger from New Japan Pro-Wrestling in 1990 (I wonder how they were able to air that?), Benoit vs. Chris Jericho from Royal Rumble 2001, and of course Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels from WrestleMania 20. Needless to say, this is the only Raw that can't be found on WWE Network (replaced by a studio show hosted by Todd Grisham featuring some of the best championship matches from 2007), but the first half is currently available on Vimeo and in parts on YouTube. The recent episode of Dark Side of the Ring on Benoit, which is must-see material, convinced me to watch this show and it's incredibly eerie in retrospect, to say the least.
The nWo (Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) Interrupted Hollywood Hulk Hogan and The Rock
Holy cow, the Montreal crowd went NUTS for Hogan! He received an incredible reaction at WrestleMania 18, but this sounded even louder because it was in a smaller arena. Hogan essentially completed his face turn here by endearing himself to the audience and then by heeding Rock's advice by ripping off his nWo shirt. Rock mocking Kevin Nash and Scott Hall was hilarious and made this drawn-out talking segment worthwhile, in addition to effectively setting up the night's tag team match.
Intercontinental Champion Rob Van Dam def. Christian
RVD won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, while Christian failed to win the European Championship from Diamond Dallas Page. He also won and lost the Hardcore Championship that night. So, what exactly did he do to earn a shot at the Intercontinental title? It was a well-wrestled match while it lasted but was too short to be anything out of the ordinary. DDP was seen standing on the stage during the bout, so I guess his storyline with Christian continued for some reason.
"Smooth Sailin'" Ashley Remington (Dalton Castle) def. Christopher Daniels in a Sea of Honor Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Castle was scheduled to face Daniels but was said to have suffered a concussion at the hands of Matt Taven in the first round and thus wasn't cleared to compete. No, I have zero clue what the point of him changing personas was and the crowd didn't know how to react, but they eventually warmed up to it once the bell rang. It was more comic relief than a true wrestling match, but it was fun while it lasted. Both men are former ROH World Champions and Castle was the bigger star at the time, so while it made sense for him to advance, the finish felt flat.
Flip Gordon def. Marty Scurll in a Sea of Honor Tournament Quarterfinal Match
Gordon and Scurll were established as good friends on Being the Elite around this point (how can you forget "Marty and Flip Take Japan"?), so that's why they teased hugging beforehand. Unsurprisingly, this was one of the better matches of the entire tourney. They worked very well together and both guys had strong showings. I was glad they received as much time as they did to deliver the level of match they were capable of.
Intercontinental Champion Dolph Ziggler def. Kofi Kingston and Jack Swagger in a Triple Threat Ladder Match
Ziggler and Kingston had been feuding over the Intercontinental Championship since the summer, so it was already well established that they had great chemistry together. Plus, Swagger being thrown into the mix helped freshen things up a bit. This was a really fun match with some suspenseful "nearfalls" (a.k.a. someone nearly pulling down the title). I believe the finish was botched, as Ziggler was supposed to catch the belt before it hit the ground. Either way, I thought it was clever, though I could understand why others may have thought it was lame. This was the perfect matchup to open the event with.
Divas Champion Natalya and Beth Phoenix def. LayCool in a Tag Team Tables Match
I remember this being one of the best women's matches I had seen in WWE up to this point. Of course, the women are involved in all sort of gimmick matches these days, but I'm not sure if there had ever been a women's tag team Tables match prior to this pay-per-view. There was one really scary moment where Phoenix landed on the back of her neck at ringside, but she seemed to be fine and was back in the action a few minutes later. Other than that, this was a pretty good Tables match and I liked the ending with Natalya putting both members of LayCool through a table via a leap from the top rope. Unfortunately, Natalya went on to drop the Divas Championship to Eve Torres out of nowhere one month later on Raw.
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