By Graham "GSM" Matthews
Christian and Tyson Tomko Interrupted Chris Jericho and WWE Champion John Cena on 'The Highlight Reel'
After watching this segment, I went back through various wrestling archives to see if anyone accurately predicted Cena's move to Raw, and it didn't seem like anyone honestly thought that would happen. Vince McMahon did tease it when he announced the Draft shortly beforehand, but it still came as a complete shock. Therefore, it is remembered as one of the most monumental moments in Raw history, and for good reasons considering Cena went on to become the face of the flagship show for the next decade. Jericho subtlety planted the seeds for a future heel turn while Christian held his own against Cena in a war of words, building toward the tag match between the two teams the following week.
Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjmain def. Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari in a 2-on-1 Handicap Match
Hassan's huge singles push got cut short in July as a result of terrible timing (another story for another day), but even by this point he wasn't being prominently pushed. Yes, he was in contention for the Intercontinental title, but lost even when the odds were in his favor. If nothing else, the "controversy" with the referee played into the story that there was a conspiracy against Hassan and Daivari, which led to Stone Cold Steve Austin returning to Raw the subsequent week to confront them.
Chris Masters def. Val Venis
Masters spent the first few months of his Raw tenure beating enhancement talent, so Venis was a nice step-up in competition with some credibility to his name. Granted, the match wasn't much more than a glorified squash, but it was a good win for Masters, nevertheless. It would be a few more months before he would enter his first real program, but this was a fine way to help him hone his skills in the meantime and build momentum.
World Heavyweight Champion Batista and Triple H Signed the Contract For Their Hell in a Cell Match at Vengeance
I was a big fan of this feud (not at the time but rather in retrospect because I obviously didn't start watching wrestling until years later) because of the strong series of matches they had in 2005 and this was mere weeks ahead of their epic clash inside Hell in a Cell. I'm sure fans were tired of seeing HHH in the world title picture by this point, but he had a remarkable rivalry with Batista going at the time and this was an excellent talking segment to set up their third and final match. HHH recapping his history inside Satan's Structure was a nice touch as well.
Victoria and The Heart Throbs def. Christy Hemme and World Tag Team Champions The Hurricane and Rosey by Disqualification
I totally forgot The Heart Throbs were even on the roster at this time, mostly because they were mainly wrestling on Heat. The fact Hurricane and Rosey were tag team champions went to show how depleted their tag division was. They were a fun tandem, but certainly not worthy of holding the gold in my opinion. This was a throwaway match designed the further the feud between Victoria and Hemme where Victoria was trying to get Hemme over as an in-ring threat.
Edge and Lita Addressed Kane
This must have been immediately after Edge and Lita joined forces on WWE TV when Lita betrayed her "husband" Kane. Kane was supposed to be in action on this show, but the match never came to fruition. Instead, Edge and Lita humiliated him by talking about potentially getting married, etc. It was an effective way to get heat on the hot duo and officially announce Kane vs. Edge for Vengeance.
Chris Benoit def. Snitsky in an ECW Rules Match
I suppose Snitsky was more of a threat than I remember him to be, but either way, he had a solid showing here against Benoit. They made good use of the extreme environment and produced a nice little match. You had to know there would be outside interference after what was teased earlier on in a backstage segment, but it provided the perfect segue into the next segment.
Team ECW Invaded Raw
I was interested to see how they would hype the ECW One Night Stand pay-per-view that coming Sunday given it wasn't technically a sanctioned WWE pay-per-view in storyline, not to mention Eric Bischoff's bad blood with Paul Heyman. That said, I thought the whole angle played out very well with the Raw guys seemingly outnumbering the ECW Originals only for more of them to emerge from the crowd and ultimately get the upper hand. The crowd was invested in every bit of it and it was a great final image heading into the historic event.
You're likely wondering what prompted me to watch this show. Well, it was the day of the 2016 WWE Draft and I had already watched the 2002 and 2004 Draft shows (which I reviewed here and here), so to get ready for that night's SmackDown Live, I decided to watch back the edition of Raw where Cena arrived. That combined with the ECW stuff and the hype for Vengeance made for an enjoyable episode, even if there were a few meaningless matches sprinkled in here and there.
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