The Piledriver Report 06.13.13: The History of Vince McMahon’s Wrestling Empire: Part Twenty-One
2005 started off with a bang. Nine days into the year, the WWE presented their first pay per view of 2005. New Year’s Revolution was held on January 9th at the Coliseo de Puerto Rico in San Juan, Puerto Rico. WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Eugene & William Regal defeated Christian & Tyson Tomko. Trish Stratus pinned WWE Women’s Champion Lita to win the title. WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin pinned Maven. Muhammad Hassan pinned Jerry Lawler. Kane pinned Gene Snitsky. Triple H defeated Randy Orton, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Batista, and Edge in an Elimination Chamber match when Triple H pinned Orton with the Pedigree after Batista hit a clothesline on Orton as Michaels was distracted by an interfering Flair. Due to pre-match stipulations, Triple H won the vacant World Heavyweight Championship.
The next night on RAW, the WWE started to plant the seeds of an eventual rift between Triple H and Batista. Early in the show, Evolution was celebrating Triple H’s title victory from the previous evening. Randy Orton decided to interrupt the proceedings. He showed footage on the TitanTron from the end of the pay per view where Triple H did not break Orton’s cover of Batista during the Elimination Chamber, even though he was able to. Eric Bischoff then came out and to announce a number one contender’s match between Randy Orton and Batista in that night’s main event. In a Royal Rumble Qualifying Match, WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin pinned Maven. In the second Royal Rumble Qualifying Match, Edge defeated Rhyno by submission with the standing figure-4. After the bout, Edge called out Shawn Michaels, blaming him for not winning the Elimination Chamber. Michaels came out moments later and told Edge to worry about the future instead of crying over the past. Edge then attacking Michaels, and the two battled throughout the arena. In the main event, Randy Orton pinned Batista with a roll up after Orton sent his distracted opponent into Triple H, who was holding up a steel chair on the ring apron. Due to pre-match stipulations, Orton became the #1 contender to Triple H’s world title.
On January 18th, the SmackDown! telecast featured some Royal Rumble Qualifying matches of their own. Scotty 2 Hotty pinned Akio. WWE US Champion John Cena pinned Rene Dupree. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Chavo Guerrero Jr.
January 24th and 25th’s television tapings featured more Qualifying matches. On RAW, Viscera defeated Tajiri in an over-the-top rope match. Batista defeated WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Rob Conway & Sylvian Grenier in a handicap match. Muhammad Hassan pinned Val Venis. On SmackDown!, Paul London defeated WWE Cruiserweight Champion Sho Funaki, Shannon Moore, and Spike Dudley.
The Royal Rumble was held on January 30th at the Save Mart Center in Fresno, CA. Edge pinned Shawn Michaels. The Undertaker defeated John Heidenreich in a casket match. WWE World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield defeated Kurt Angle and the Big Show by pinning Angle with the Clothesline from Hell. World Heavyweight Champion Triple H pinned Randy Orton. Batsita won the 30-man Royal Rumble match by last eliminating John Cena. Due to pre-match stipulations, Batista earned a world title match at WrestleMania 21. Towards the end of the match, both Batista and Cena fell to the arena floor at the same time. As confusion reigned throughout the arena, Vince McMahon strutted out to the ring. As he slide under the bottom ropes, McMahon slammed his quad into the ring apron. While sitting inside the ring on the mat, Vince announced that the match would continue between Cena and Batista. Vince refused assistance upon leaving the ring. It was later confirmed that he torn one quad when he hit the ring, and then tore the other quad when he tried to leave the ring unattended. The double quad injury would keep him off of television for a few months.
During the next night’s RAW, in an in-ring interview Triple H introduced Batista and said he would be proud to face him at WrestleMania. They were interrupted by an interview clip on the Titantron featuring John Bradshaw Layfield insulting Batista. He said that he would easily beat him if Batista wanted a shot at his WWE title at WrestleMania. During an Edge interview, Shawn Michaels came out and challenged Edge to a rematch. Edge rejected the offer, but demanded that Michaels shake his hand since Michaels said he would if Edge were victorious in their match at the Rumble. Michaels shook Edge’s hand and hit the superkick on him. Smackdown! GM Teddy Long approached Raw GM Eric Bischoff backstage. Teddy said he wanted Batista on Smackdown!, but he was not responsible for JBL’s comments being aired earlier in the show.
On Smackdown!, GM Teddy Long came out and announced that an 8-man tournament would be held to determine the #1 contender to the Smackdown! World Title at WrestleMania. He said that if Batista decided to jump to Smackdown!, the match at WrestleMania would be a triple threat bout. The WWE announced the first batch of WWE Hall of Fame 2005 inductees. The first group included Paul Orndorff, the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Bob Orton Jr., and Jimmy Hart. The first #1 Contender match had The Undertaker and Rene Dupree fighting to a double count-out. The second #1 Contender match featured Booker T pinning Eddie Guerrero. The next week’s SmackDown! featured two more Quarter Final matches. WWE US Champion John Cena pinned Orlando Jordan. Kurt Angle defeated Rey Mysterio Jr. by submission with the ankle lock.
On the Valentine’s Day edition of RAW, they announced that Roddy Piper would be inducted into the 2005 WWE Hall of Fame. Jonathan Coachman conducted a backstage interview with Shawn Michaels regarding his confrontation with Kurt Angle at the Royal Rumble. It was announced, that the following week, Batista would officially make his decision as to what world title he would vie for at WrestleMania.
In the first, and only, tournament Semi-Finals match on SmackDown!, WWE US Champion John Cena pinned Booker T.
No Way Out took place on February 20th in Pittsburgh, PA’s Mellon Arena. Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Doug & Danny Basham to win the titles. Booker T defeated John Heidenreich by disqualification when Heidenreich struck Booker in the throat with a steel chair. Chavo Guerrero Jr. defeated WWE Cruiserweight Champion Sho Funaki, Spike Dudley, Paul London, Shannon Moore, and Akio in a gauntlet match to win the title. The Undertaker pinned Luther Reigns. In the #1 Contender Tournament Finals, WWE US Champion John Cena pinned Kurt Angle. Due to pre-match stipulations, Cena earned a WWE World Title shot at WrestleMania 21. WWE World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield defeated the Big Show in a barbed wire steel cage match by crawling out from under the ring to touch the floor. After the bout, Batista made the save for Show as he was triple teamed by Jordan and the Bashams. Moments later, Cena attacked JBL as he tried to escape backstage. As the show came to a close, both Cena and Batista gestured that they wanted JBL’s title.
The next night on RAW, Batista was about to make his decision. Before he was set to tell the world his decision, Batista was sneaking around backstage when he over heard Triple H bragging about being the one who set up the Bradshaw promos against Batista on the TitanTron. Triple H wouldn’t be celebrating for long. Batista chose to take on Triple H at WrestleMania 21 for his World Heavyweight Championship.
On the following week’s RAW, was centered on WrestleMania build-up. The final 2005 WWE Hall of Fame inductee on WrestleMania weekend was announced to be Hulk Hogan. They announced that Steve Austin would be the guest of Roddy Piper’s in the return of Piper’s Pit at WrestleMania 21. Jim Ross conducting an in-ring interview with Batista, which was interrupted by Triple H and Ric Flair. Both men surrounded Batista. Batista floored Flair and dared Triple H to come into the ring. Randy Orton spoke with Superstar Billy Graham backstage. Graham offered him advice going into WrestleMania. He and told Orton to go where no wrestler has gone before. After Superstar left, Orton looked at the magazine in his hand and laid it on the table. It was revealed that the magazine was “Smackdown! Magazine” and the man on the cover was the Undertaker. Chris Jericho defeated Maven by submission with the Walls of Jericho. After the bout, Jericho cut a promo stating that he wanted to be part of WrestleMania 21 and wanted to make history and would do so, along with 5 other WWE wrestlers and a steel ladder. In the main event, Shawn Michaels pinned Edge in a streetfight. Immediately after the bout, Michaels was attacked by Kurt Angle. Moments later, Angle grabbed a microphone and formally accepted Michaels’ challenge for WrestleMania before security came to the ring, and Angle left through the crowd.
On March 7th’s RAW, Shawn Michaels cut a promo on facing Kurt Angle at WrestleMania and showed footage of him attacking Angle the previous week on Smackdown, Towards the end of the promo, Angle showed up on the Titantron. Angle said his issue with Michaels dated back to 1996. Angle promised that he would do everything Shawn did in his career, but over the span of the next 4 weeks. There was a backstage segment with Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, and Christian where Eric Bischoff said that Jericho came to him with the idea of a putting on a 6-man ladder match at WrestleMania. The winner would earn a world title shot for whenever he wants over the course of a year. There was an in-ring promo by Randy Orton where he spoke about his father being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2. Randy issued a challenge to the Undertaker to face him at WrestleMania 21. Eric Bischoff came to the ring and praised Orton for wanting to end Taker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak. Orton called Bischoff as a ‘legend’ for making WCW beat the WWE in the ratings for over a year. The “Legend Killer” then hit the RKO on Bischoff.
On Smackdown!, WWE World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield, WWE US Champion Orlando Jordan, and the Bashams took John Cena’s spinner US title belt and used explosives to blow it up. Bradshaw then gave the previous version of the belt to Jordan. Josh Matthews conducting a backstage interview with the Big Show & Joy Giovanni. The Big Show accepted Akebono’s challenge to face him in a sumo match at WrestleMania. Carlito had an in-ring interview with the Undertaker to find out the “DeadMan’s” response to Randy Orton’s WrestleMania challenge. The Undertaker accepted the challenge, and then hit the tombstone on Carlito. As part of Kurt Angle’s promise to accomplish everything the Shawn Michaels did throughout his career, Kurt Angle defeated Mike Haywood in a ladder match. Prior to Haywood’s introduction, Angle showed a clip of the Shawn Michaels/Razor Ramon ladder match from WrestleMania X. After the contest, Angle showed a clip from WrestleMania V, and talked about Marty Jannetty being Michaels’ former tag team partner. Angle then announced that he would face Jannetty the following week on Smackdown!.
The next week’s SmackDown! featured the contract signing for Randy Orton vs. the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Orton slapped the Undertaker in the face. Undertaker started to mess with the lights, big screen, and stage pyro to scare Orton. There was an in-ring promo by the Big Show talking about his upcoming match against Akebono at WrestleMania.
On the March 21st RAW, they played a video montage of Kurt Angle’s amateur and pro career along with his rivalry with Shawn Michaels. It was announced on the show that Sylvester Stallone would be inducting Hulk Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame. There was in-ring sit-down promo by World Heavyweight Champion Triple H regarding the breakup of Evolution and the bad decisions made by Randy Orton and Batista. Randy Orton delivered an in-ring promo. where he displayed his new ‘Legend Killer’ t-shirt that had the Undertaker’s name added to the list. During the segment, a video montage was shown of Orton’s career in the WWE.
In the final RAW before WrestleMania, Chris Jericho hosted his interview show called the “Highlight Reel.” His guests were Chris Benoit and WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin. The three men discussed their upcoming 6-way ladder match at WrestleMania 21. Moments later, Christian and then Edge came out claiming that they would win the match. This led to a six man brawl and an impromptu match. Randy Orton delivered an in-ring promo regarding his WrestleMania match with the Undertaker. He was eventually interrupted by an Undertaker vignette on the TitanTron. The video chronicled his history at WrestleMania. After the video ended, flames shot out of the ring posts, scaring Orton out of the ring. The show featured a final face-to-face confrontation between Triple H and Batista. During their promo, Triple H slapped Batista, followed by Batista dropping Triple H to the mat. The two were then held apart by security.
On the final SmackDown! before WrestleMania weekend, Bob Orton Jr. asked the Undertaker to have mercy on his son at WrestleMania. After the Undertaker refused, Randy Orton came out from behind as his dad distracted the Undertaker. Randy Orton then hit the RKO on the deadman to end the segment. Kurt Angle was asked by Josh Matthews what his strategy would be against Shawn Michaels. Angle responded by dragging Mathews out to the ring, while calling him “Shawn Michaels.” Angle dropped the announcer after hitting him with the Olympic Slam. In a fit of rage, Angle then applied the ankle lock to Matthews. Angle then cut a promo on Michaels before a Kurt Angle video package ran on the big screen. The show featured the official weigh in for the Big Show vs. Akebono sumo match at WrestleMania.
WrestleMania Weekend kicked off on April 1st with WrestleMania Fan Frenzy on Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, CA. Michael Cole conducted an in-ring interview with WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus in regards to her facing Christy Hemme at WrestleMania. There was an in-ring promo from John Cena regarding WrestleMania being at the Staples Center, and also talked about his match with John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE World title. The Hurricane & Rosey defeated Rob Conway & Sylvian Grenier. In the Kurt Angle Invitational, Kurt Angle defeated Tommy Kim by submission with the ankle lock. Before and after the bout, Angle cut a promo about facing Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania. Angle referred to himself as “the best there ever was, the best there ever is, and the best there ever will be.” Victoria pinned Molly Holly. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Paul London, Sho Funaki, & Nunzio defeated Spike Dudley, Billy Kidman, & Akio.
The next night at the Hollywood Universal Amphitheater, the WWE held the 2005 Hall of Fame ceremonies. The fill list of inductees included Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, Bob Orton Jr., Jimmy Hart, Nikolai Volkoff, and the Iron Sheik.
THE NEW CHAMPS ARE HERE
April 3rd was the date for WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, CA. In a match that was taped for the upcoming WrestleMania 21 DVD, Booker T won a 30-man battle royal by last eliminating Chris Masters. The pay-per-view broadcast kicked off with Lilian Garcia performing “America the Beautiful.” During the show, Gene Okerlund hosted a Hall of Fame segment where he introduced Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Bob Orton Jr., Paul Orndorff, and Jimmy Hart on the stage. Muhammad Hassan and Daiviari interrupted Eugene during an in-ring segment. As they started to attack Eugene, “Real American” blasted over the P.A. system. Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring, threw the two heels out, and posed for the fans. Steve Austin was the guest of a special WresgtleMania Piper’s Pit. As Piper and Austin bantered back and forth, Carlito Caribbean Cool the proceedings. He attacked Piper, and then was hit with the Stunner by Austin. Moments later, after sharing several beers with the “Hot Rod,” Austin hit the Stunner on Piper. WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero. After the bout, the two men shook hands. Edge defeated Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Christian, WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin, and Kane in a ladder match. Due to pre-match stipulations, Edge earned a Raw world title shot for whenever he wants within 1 complete year. The Undertaker pinned Randy Orton by reversing a tombstone attempt into one of his own. WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus pinned Christy Hemme. Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Michaels by submission with the ankle lock into the heel hook after Michaels had been in the hold for 2 full minutes. This match was voted Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Match of the Year. Akebono defeated the Big Show in a sumo match. After the bout, Show congratulated Akebono. John Cena pinned WWE World Champion John Bradshaw Layfield to win the title. Batista pinned World Heavyweight Champion Triple H to win the title.
The next night on RAW Triple H cut a promo on Batista, saying the world title would eventually be his again. Randy Orton cut a promo regarding his match against the Undertaker at WrestleMania. Orton blamed a bad shoulder for his loss. He then challenged Batista to a world title shot. Shawn Michaels cut an in-ring promo on his match the previous night against Kurt Angle. Michaels asked the fans if they want to see a rematch. Michaels was then interrupted and attacked by Muhammad Hassan and Daivari.
On SmackDown!, John Bradshaw Layfield said that he wanted the WWE World title back. Eddie Guerrero came out, followed by Booker T, the Big Show, Rey Mysterio Jr., and Kurt Angle. Each man claimed that each was deserving of the title as well. Smackdown! GM Teddy said that there was no rematch clause in JBL’s contract. He announced that the five men would compete to see which would be the #1 contender. In an in-ring promo by the new WWE World Champion John Cena, he thanked the fans for their support, went into the crowd, and said he would defend the championship against anyone. In the first match of the #1 Contender tournament, John Bradshaw Layfield defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. by disqualification when Eddie Guerrero tried to interfere.
The next Smackdown! included the first ever segment of Carlito’s Cabana, with WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio Jr. as his guest. Mysterio was interrupted by Melina, Joey Mercury, & Johnny Nitro, with Mercury & Nitro eventually knocking Mysterio out with their elevated double team DDT. This was MNM’s WWE TV debut. John Cena cut an in-ring promo which was eventually interrupted by John Bradshaw Layfield. JBL thought that he had intercepted Cena’s newly designed world title belt, but had actually stolen a container of pig guts. Moments later, Cena dumped the remainder of guts over JBL’s head before having his new title belt lowered from the rafters. The second #1 Contender’s Tournament Opening Round Match had Kurt Angle pinning WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero.
On the April 18th edition of RAW, Vince McMahon announced that in approximately a month a new draft would take place to shake up the rosters of Raw and Smackdown!. Christian talked about going to Smackdown! and facing John Cena saying, “I would kick Marky Mark’s ass and take his WWE title because that’s how I roll.” Moments later, McMahon stated Christian would face Batista for the world title the next week on Raw. Shawn Michaels defeated Muhammad Hassan by disqualification when Daivari began stomping Michaels after Hassan hit the Flatliner. Moments later, Hulk Hogan came out to make the save, with Hogan and Michaels eventually throwing both Hassan & Daivari from the ring before posing to “Real American.” This was Hogan’s surprise return to MSG after an absence of 2 years.
On SmackDown!, WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero was a guest of Carlito’s Cabana in which Rey Mysterio Jr. came out. The tag champs shook hands and buried the hatchet for their issues over the previous few weeks. They were then interrupted by MNM on the TitanTron, shown backstage next to Guerrero’s low rider. In order to get a tag team title shot, MNM vandalized Guerrero’s car. In a #1 Contender’s Tournament Opening Round matchup, The Big Show fought Booker T to a double disqualification when Kurt Angle and John Bradshaw Layfield attacked Show and Booker on the outside to make sure neither man advanced in the tournament. Moments later, Teddy Long came out and ordered that a four-way match take place the following week in England between Angle, JBL, Booker, and Show to determine Cena’s top contender. In that elimination match, John Bradshaw Layfield would win by pinning Angle after Booker interfered and hit Angle with a chair. Due to pre-match stipulations, JBL became the #1 contender to the world title. Back on this week’s SmackDown!, Johnny Nitro and Joey Mercury defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio Jr. to win the titles when Mercury pinned Mysterio after hitting the elevated double team DDT as Melina jumped on Guerrero on the floor to distract him. After the bout, Guerrero & Mysterio argued in the ring over the outcome with Guerrero shoving Mysterio to the mat. Mysterio confronted Guerrero on the floor and shoved him to the floor before walking backstage alone. Sadly, this would turn out to be Eddie Guerrero’s last MSG appearance.
Backlash took place on May 1st at the Verizon Wireless Arena in Manchester, NH. Christian was featured in an in-ring segment where he talked about possibly being moved to SmackDown!. He started a rap about Batista, Ric Flair, Triple H, John Bradshaw Layfield, and John Cena. WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin pinned Chris Jericho. The Hurricane & Rosey defeated WWE Raw Tag Team Champions William Regal & Tajiri, the Heart Throbs, Rob Conway & Sylvian Grenier, and Maven & Simon Dean in a tag team turmoil match to win the titles. Edge defeated Chris Benoit in a last man standing match. Kane pinned Viscera. After the bout, Trish grabbed a microphone and cut a promo on Viscera in the ring, saying she never would have slept with him even if he had defeated Kane. Viscera then put Trish in a bearhug before hitting a splash on her. Shawn Michaels & Hulk Hogan defeated Muhammad Hassan & Daivari when Hogan pinned Daivari after Michaels hit the superkick behind the referee’s back. World Heavyweight Champion Batista pinned Triple H.
On the next night’s RAW, Eric Bischoff announced that the new #1 contender to the world title would be determined by a 8-man single elimination Gold Rush Tournament. The show featured a tribute to the passing of Chris Candido. There was also a Happy Birthday wish from the WWE to The Rock. In the Gold Rush Quarter Finals, Kane pinned Christian. Shawn Michaels pinned WWE IC Champion Shelton Benjamin. Edge pinned Chris Jericho. Chris Benoit defeated Triple H by submission with the Sharpshooter.
On the following week’s RAW, Triple H cut an in-ring promo to open the show. He said Batista was afraid to grant him a title rematch. Batista pointed out that he faced Triple H twice, he beat Triple H twice, and since Triple H was defeated in the first round of Gold Rush Tournament, perhaps he just wasn’t good enough for a title shot. Triple H then left the arena as a way to prove that Batista could not succeed without him around. There was a segment where Jonathan Coachman told Eric Bischoff about the ECW One Night Stand reunion pay-per-view. Bischoff said he will squash ECW just like he did when he was in WCW. In the Gold Rush Semi Finals, Kane pinned Chris Benoit. Edge pinned Shawn Michaels.
On the May 16th RAW, Randy Orton came in as a surprise. He delivered an in-ring promo where he blamed both the Undertaker and Batista for his shoulder injury. He went on to state that because he was on the injured list, he was ineligible to be drafted. Moments later, Vince McMahon came out and stated that Orton was eligible for the draft. Vince said the draft would begin on June 6th in St. Louis and would last for a month. To hype up the ECW reunion show, Chris Benoit fought Tajiri to a no contest in an ECW Rules match when Jonathan Coachman and Eric Bischoff interrupted the bout. Bischoff ordered the match to stop since he never sanctioned it. He then said that the mere mentioning of ECW would be banned from Raw and that if any fans brought ECW signs to TV they would be confiscated. Bischoff said that no Raw wrestlers would be allowed to work the ECW One Night Stand event, and that he would personally lead a group of Raw volunteers to crash the pay-per-view. In the Gold Rush Tournament Finals, Edge pinned Kane by hitting him in the face with the briefcase as Kane came off the top. This came after Lita slid the briefcase into the ring for Edge to use thus turning on Kane. After the bout, Edge and Lita embraced and kissed on the stage.
While all of this was going on RAW, the WWE was starting to turn Kurt Angle into a racist in his feud with Booker T. On SmackDown!, Angle apologized to Booker and his wife Sharmell for his actions last week. However, Angle later referred to Sharmell as a gutter slut.
Judgement Day took place at the Target Center in Minneapolis, MN on May 22nd. WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Johnny Nitro & Joey Mercury defeated Hardcore Holly & Charlie Haas. Carlito Caribbean Cool pinned the Big Show. WWE Cruiserweight Champion Paul London pinned Chavo Guerrero Jr. Booker T pinned Kurt Angle. After the bout, Sharmell came ringside to celebrate Booker’s win. Moments later, Angle attacked Booker and threw him to the floor. He then dragged Sharmell inside the ring and attempted to handcuff her to the top rope. Booker then made the save, and handcuffed Angle to the rope. Sharmell then slapped Angle and kicked him in the groin. WWE US Champion Orlando Jordan pinned John Heidenreich. Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Eddie Guerrero by disqualification when Guerrero struck Mysterio with a steel chair as Mysterio attempted the springboard legdrop after hitting the 619. WWE World Champion John Cena defeated John Bradshaw Layfield in an I Quit Match after JBL submitted when Cena threatened to hit him with the exhaust pipe from a freight truck. After the bell, Cena hit him with the weapon anyway, knocking JBL through the stage. After the bout, Cena regained possession of the original WWE World Title belt and celebrated with that and his custom spinner belt as the show came to a close.
THE RETURN OF THE EXTREME
The next night on RAW featured one of the most historic scenes in professional wrestling. In the ring at the same time were former Vice President of World Championship Wrestling Eric Bischoff, former owner of Extreme Championship Wrestling Paul Heyman, and current World Wrestling Entertainment Chairman of the Board Vincent Kennedy McMahon. The reason they were there was due to the ECW reunion pay per view coming up. Bischoff was having a mock funeral for ECW, and Bischoff came into the ring to deliver a passionate promo regarding the wrestling promotion that he gave his blood, sweat, and tears for.
Bischoff had allies on SmackDown! who also wanted to bury ECW. Before Angle’s match that night, he cut an anti-ECW promo saying the federation was garbage. He mentioned that when he was at an ECW event in 1996 it was so bad that he left halfway through the show. Angle said he would lead a group of Smackdown! volunteers to invade ECW’s One Night Stand. One of the names Angle mentioned in the promo was SmackDown! announcer and former ECW World Champion Tazz. Tazz took off his headset, but remained seated at ringside.
After the his quick squash match, Angle asked for the battle royal to begin immediately. Kurt Angle won the 22-man battle royal by last eliminating Rey Mysterio Jr. Due to pre-match stipulations, Kurt Angle was able to pick any person on the SmackDown! roster to fight. Instead of requesting John Cena for a shot at the WWE World title, Kurt Angle chose to battle Booker T’s wife, Sharmell.
June 6th was the date for the first draft election by RAW. Eric Bischoff announced backstage that a major player from Smackdown! had been picked as the #1 Raw draft pick. Chris Jericho had the honor of introducing the superstar during his Highlight Reel segment. The pick turned out to be WWE World Champion John Cena. Christian & Tyson Tomko came out to interrupt the segment. After Cena and Christian had words, Cena fought off both men. This was John Cena’s RAW debut. There was a backstage segment with William Regal, Tajiri, and Chris Benoit in which Regal said he would be part of the anti-ECW group and made Tajiri choose to either be with him or against him. Tajiri chose to stick with ECW. The show included an in-ring contract signing between Triple H and World Heavyweight Champion Batista for the Hell in a Cell match at Vengeance. Prior to the signing, Triple H showed a video montage of his Hell in a Cell victories on the big screen. Eric Bischoff had a meeting with John Cena backstage in which he said Cena & Jericho would face Christian & Tomko the following week. Bischoff asked Cena to be a part of the anti-ECW movement, but Cena turned down the offer. Edge was on the entrance ramp cutting a promo on Kane, while Kane was in the ring, saying that they would face each other at Vengeance. In the final segment, Eric Bischoff, Edge, Christian, and Tyson Tomko came out. Bischoff called for Paul Heyman to come out to the ring. Heyman and the Dudleyz came out of the crowd. Maven, Rob Conway, Jonathan Coachman, Sylvian Grenier, Simon Dean, and Gene Snitsky came out to surround Heyman and the Dudleys. Heyman had Tommy Dreamer, the Sandman, Rhyno, Balls Mahony, and Axl Rotten come out from the crowd. A huge brawl ensued between the wrestlers, as the show went off the air.
SmackDown! was feeling the shockwaves from John Cena’s departure during their next broadcast. With Teddy Long in the ring, John Bradshaw Layfield came out to argue that he should immediately be named champion of Smackdown. Long replied that no decisions regarding the title would be made until the end of the month. Teddy Long then introduced Chris Benoit as Smackdown’s first pick in the draft lottery. Benoit and JBL started to argue over Benoit’s time spent in ECW. Benoit then challenged JBL to a match later that night. Booker T pinned Kurt Angle with the scissors kick. Before the match, Angle cut a promo in the ring giving Tazz an ultimatum to decide if he was going to be on Angle’s anti-ECW team or not. After the commercial break, Angle confronted Tazz on the floor, demanding an answer. When Tazz refused, Angle started to walk away but ended up hitting Tazz in the head with the microphone. He then hit him in the head with a steel chair, busting Tazz open. In the main event, Chris Benoit defeated John Bradshaw Layfield by disqualification when Kurt Angle interfered as JBL was trapped in the Crippler Crossface. Before the match, Paul Heyman, the Dudley Boyz, Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno, and the Sandman came ringside, with Heyman doing guest commentary alongside Michael Cole. Mid-way through the bout, Carlito Caribbean Cool and Matt Morgan came out to be in JBL’s corner. After the match, the ECW and WWE contingents battled in the ring with Tazz, his head bandaged, Balls Mahoney, and Axl Rotten coming out to join the ECW group clear the ring.
The weekend of June 10th-12th was a Hardcore Weekend. On June 10th, Shane Douglas presented an ECW reunion show called Hardcore Homecoming at the ECW Arena in South Philadelphia, PA. On June 12th, it was the WWE’s turn to hold an extreme reunion. Their event, ECW: One Night Stand, took place at the Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City, NY. Joey Styles and Mick Foley were positioned on commentary. Pitbull Gary Wolfe delivered a backstage promo regarding former ECW stars who passed away. A remembrance video montage then aired featuring Rocco Rock, Terry Gordy, Mike Lockwood, the original Sheik, Mike Lozansky, Anthony Durante, Big Dick Dudley, and Chris Candido. The show featured many classic clips from the history of the promotion. Joel Gertner attempted to interview the Smackdown! wrestlers in the balcony, only for Angle and JBL to rough him up and cut promos on the crowd and the ECW talent while the crowd chanted “Shut the Fuck Up” in response. Moments later, Rob Van Dam and Bill Alphonso came out, with RVD putting over the ECW stars and saying that the WWE guys in the balcony had nothing to do with the success of the show. RVD talked about his knee injury and said not being able to compete sucks worse than missing the overseas WWE tour, missing Booker T’s wedding, or missing WrestleMania. Rhyno came out of nowhere and hit the Gore on RVD before the lights went out and Sabu appeared to make the save, leading to an impromptu match. There was a quick backstage promo from Al Snow, with Head. They aired Eric Bischoff leading the Raw contingent of Edge, Christian, Gene Snitsky, William Regal, Tyson Tomko, Maven, Rob Conway, Sylvan Grenier, and Jonathan Coachman to their balcony seats next to the SmackDown superstars. Joel Gertner returned to the balcony asking Eric Bischoff for a job. Bischoff rejected him, verbally assaulting him as well as the crowd, and threw his beer at Gertner. During the show, Paul Heyman came out, thanking several notables on hand, and then cut a promo on Eric Bischoff, Edge, and JBL. Lance Storm pinned Chris Jericho after Justin Credible, who came ringside moments earlier with Jason Knight, hit Jericho in the face with a kendo stick. Super Crazy defeated Little Guido and Yoshihiro Tajiri in an elimination match. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Psychosis. After the bout, Kurt Angle, John Bradshaw Layfield, WWE US Champion Orlando Jordan, Doug & Danny Basham, Matt Morgan, Carlito Caribbean Cool appeared and took their seats in the balcony, to which the crowd chanted “Fuck you, Smackdown!” Sabu pinned Rhyno. Chris Benoit defeated Eddie Guerrero by submission with the Crippler Crossface. Mike Awesome pinned Masato Tanaka. The Dudley Boyz defeated Tommy Dreamer & the Sandman when Bubba Ray pinned Dreamer after a powerbomb through a flaming table. Prior to the bout, the bWo came out, with Stevie Richards cutting a promo before hitting a superkick on Sandman. Moments later, Kid Kash came and was quickly thrown to the floor. Axl Rotten and Balls Mahoney then came out and cleared the ring of the bWo. Moments later, Kash jumped off the referee’s back and hit a somersault splash onto every other wrestler on the floor. Lance Storm, Justin Credible, and Francine interfered, which led to Beaulah McGillicutty coming out to help make the save. During the final minute of the match, Spike Dudley came out and assisted in setting the table on fire. After the bout, the Dudleyz attempted to injure Beaulah but Sandman cleared the ring with his kendo stick and then asked for a beer, with Stone Cold Steve Austin coming out moments later and asking that all the guys in the back come out. After the vast majority of talent came out, Austin challenged the WWE talent in the balcony to a fight. After the battle lines were drawn, Jonathan Coachman, and Eric Bischoff joined the commentary team. Tazz came out and a giant brawl erupted in and outside the ring. During the brawl, JBL opened up a massive cut on the Blue Meanie’s head and gave him a black eye. Tazz choked out Kurt Angle on the floor. After the WWE wrestlers were cleared from the ring, Austin had Mick Foley bring Bischoff to the ring. Bischoff sustained the 3D, the diving headbutt from Benoit, the 619 from Mysterio, and the Stunner from Austin before being thrown to the floor and taken out of the building by the Dudleyz.
The next night, Kurt Angle became the newest RAW superstar, as he was Eric Bischoff’s latest draft pick.
During the June 14th SmackDown! taping, the WWE Draft continued. In the main event of the evening, John Bradshaw Layfield pinned the Undertaker in a No DQ match after the newest SmackDown! superstar, Randy Orton interfered and hit the RKO on the Undertaker. This was Randy Orton’s debut on SmackDown!
On the next RAW, Eric Bischoff announced that the challenger in the Intercontinental title match would be the latest draft pick and newest member of the Raw roster. The newest pick was Carlito Caribbean Cool, who pinned Shelton Benjamin for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. Triple H and Kurt Angle defeated World Heavyweight Champion Batista & Shawn Michaels when Triple H pinned Batista with the Pedigree after Batista hit the spinebuster on an interfering Flair. The show included the wedding of Edge & Lita. When the reverend asked if anyone objected to the wedding, Matt Hardy’s entrance video played on the big screen. The fans expected the recently fired Matt Hardy to return to gain revenge against his former friend, who had an affair with Lita, his real life girl friend at the time. However, it was revealed that this was simply a hoax done by Edge & Lita themselves. Moments later, Kane came up from under the ring, with Edge soon carrying Lita to safety while Kane hit the tombstone on the reverend.
Vengeance was held on June 26th at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, NV. WWE IC Champion Carlito Caribbean Cool pinned Shelton Benjamin. Victoria pinned Christy Hemme. Kane pinned Edge. Shawn Michaels pinned Kurt Angle. WWE World Champion John Cena defeated Chris Jericho and Christian by pinning Christian with the FU after swinging Christian’s legs into Jericho, knocking him down and sending him to the floor. World Heavyweight Champion Batista pinned Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match.
On RAW, Hulk Hogan made a surprise return in a six man tag team match. He teamed with Shawn Michaels and John Cena in victory against Chris Jericho, Christian, and Tyson Tomko. After the match, all three victors posed in the ring for several minutes before Cena left ringside to give the spotlight to Hogan and Michaels.
On SmackDown!, John Bradshaw Layfield defeated the Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Booker T, Christian, and Muhammad Hassan in an elimination match. Due to pre-match stipulations, JBL won the vacant Smackdown! world title. Or so he thought. Teddy Long came out and said he couldn’t be the new champion because Smackdown! had just drafted its new world champion. He then introduced World Heavyweight Champion Batista. Bradshaw was instead named the number one contender to Batista’s title.
On a 4th of July broadcast of RAW, Hulk Hogan was a guest of Carlito’s Cabana and a clip from the upcoming “Hogan Knows Best” series was shown. Hogan knocked Carlito down after he made comments about Hogan’s daughter Brooke. Kurt Angle came out and said he would make Brooke tap out. Hogan began fighting Angle until he was double teamed by Angle and Carlito. Shawn Michaels came out and helped make the save. Later in the show, Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels defeated Kurt Angle and WWE IC Champion Carlito Caribbean Cool when Hogan pinned Carlito with the legdrop. After the bout, as Hogan & Michaels celebrated in the ring, Michaels hit the superkick on his partner and left the ring.
That week’s SmackDown! taping was extremely controversial. In a match where the Undertaker pinned Daivari, the WWE presented a shocking segment. After the match, a group of masked men attacked the Undertaker, choking him out with a wire before Hassan put the Undertaker in the camel clutch. The WWE aired the broadcast on the same day where there was a terrorist attack in England. Since the masked thugs gave the impression of being terrorists. There was an outcry from the media, and thousands of complaints over the angle. Instead of Vince McMahon or the creative team accepting the blame for the tasteless segment, the wrestler Muhammad Hassan took the fall. He was fired from the company a few weeks later.
The July 11th RAW took place at the Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, NJ. On the show was the surprising return of Matt Hardy, who charged after Edge during Edge’s match against Kane.
The Great American Bash took place on July 24th at the HSBC Arena in Buffalo, NY. John Heidenreich & Road Warrior Animal defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Johnny Nitro & Joey to win the titles. Booker T pinned Christian. WWE US Champion Orlando Jordan pinned Chris Benoit. The Undertaker pinned Muhammad Hassan. After the bout, the Undertaker assaulted the masked men and threw Daivari head-first through the commentary table. The Undertaker then attacked Hassan on the stage, opened up part of the stage, and powerbombed Hassan through the hole. The Undertaker became the #1 contender to the world title. Juventud Guerrera, Super Crazy, & Psychosis defeated Stevie Richards, the Blue Meanie, & Nova. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Eddie Guerrero. Had Guerrero won, he would have been able to share Mysterio’s secret. However, because he lost, the matter had to be dropped. Melina defeated Torrie Wilson in a bra & panties match. John Bradshaw Layfield defeated World Heavyweight Champion Batista by disqualification when the champion threw an interfering Orlando Jordan into the ring, stole a steel chair away from him, and hit both Jordan and JBL over the head with the weapon.
On the next SmackDown!, JBL interrupted Teddy Long’s in-ring promo and said that he, because of the fine print in the contract that said if he beat Batista at the Great American Bash and didn’t get the belt then he would get a one-on-one rematch, demanded to be the #1 contender. Teddy Long decided to make a match between JBL and the Undertaker to determine Batista’s challenger for SummerSlam. Eddie Guerrero interrupted Rey Mysterio’s in-ring promo alongside his son Dominic, with Eddie revealing his secret was that Dominic was really his son and not Rey’s. After Mysterio admitted to Dominic that the story was true, Dominic ran into the crowd. Later in the show, Guerrero did a sit-down promo in the ring to elaborate on the story, saying that while he was separated from his wife, Eddie fathered a child from another woman. Rey and his wife couldn’t have a child, so Eddie gave Rey his son Dominic to raise. Guerrero said that the story would continue with chapter 2 the following week.
The next week, Rey Mysterio Jr. was a guest of the Peep Show. Eddie Guerrero interrupted the segment by appearing on the big screen. This distracted Mysterio long enough for Christian to attack Rey from behind and hit the Unprettier. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Christian. mid-way through the bout, Eddie Guerrero and an unknown woman came out and sat on the stage to watch the contest; after the match, Mysterio grabbed the mic and challenged Guerrero to fight him then and there, with Eddie refusing and instead introducing the woman as Anna who gave Rey a copy of “chapter 2”, Eddie’s official custody papers; Guerrero then told Rey to bring Dominick to Smackdown! the following week so he could claim him as his own; after Rey tried to convince Eddie to drop the issue, Eddie unveiled the fact that Anna was his attorney and argued the courts would side in his favor. The show featured official contract signing for the Batista/JBL rematch at Summer Slam. Batista allowed JBL to pick the stipulation of his choice. Bradshaw chose the match to be a no holds barred contest. Randy Orton cut an in-ring promo regarding his WrestleMania loss to the Undertaker before challenging Taker to a rematch at Summer Slam. Moments later, the lights went out and the Undertaker accepted the challenge over the PA.
On the next SmackDown!, Eddie Guerrero, Rey Mysterio Jr., Rey’s wife and Dominick, made an argument over who should have custody of Dominick to a social worker. Rey challenged Eddie to a match at Summer Slam in their ‘final’ battle with the winner getting custody of Dominick, with Eddie accepting. The social worker said both Mysterio and Guerrero were nuts. She said Dominick would have to go into foster care until their issue was resolved.
SummerSlam took place on August 21st at the MCI Center in Washington DC. Chris Benoit defeated WWE US Champion Orlando Jordan by submission with the Crippler Crossface to win the title at the 25-second mark. Edge defeated Matt Hardy by referee’s decision when referee Chad Patton stopped the bout when Hardy was deemed unable to continue. Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Eddie Guerrero in a ladder match as Guerrero was held back by his wife Vickie. Due to pre-match stipulations, Mysterio regained custody of his son, Dominick. Kurt Angle defeated Eugene in a No Time Limit match by submission with the ankle lock. Randy Orton pinned the Undertaker with the RKO moments after a fan ran into the ring and distracted both the Undertaker and the referee. After the bout, Randy pulled the disguise off of the ‘fan’ to reveal it was actually his father, Bob Orton Jr. WWE World Champion John Cena pinned Chris Jericho. World Heavyweight Champion Batista pinned John Bradshaw Layfield in a no holds barred match. Hulk Hogan pinned Shawn Michaels with a boot to the face and the legdrop. After the bout, Michaels offered his hand to Hogan, with Hogan then shaking it.
The next night on RAW, Shawn Michaels delivered an in-ring promo where he sarcastically said Hogan was cat-like in the ring and was simply superior to Michaels. Michaels then stated that Hogan was on a plane back to Florida and would only return when the WWE fans gave him what he wanted, using a hand gesture to imply that it was money. Michaels was interrupted by Chris Masters. Masters said that Michaels was past his prime and needed to step aside. The two started fighting in the ring with Michaels knocking Masters to the floor. Rob Conway pinned Matt Hardy with an elbow drop off the top after punching Hardy off the middle rope. After the match, Edge and Hardy brawled in the ring before Edge trapped Hardy’s head between the ring steps and the ring then kicked it. In the main event, WWE World Champion John Cena pinned Chris Jericho with the FU. Due to pre-match stipulations, Jericho was fired by Bischoff immediately following the match. This was Jericho’s final wrestling match in the WWE and of his career. After Jericho was ejected from the building, Kurt Angle attacked Cena from behind, and hit the Olympic Slam. Bischoff then grabbed the mic and announced Angle was the #1 contender to Cena’s title.
Oklahoma City, OK’s Ford Center played host to Unforgiven on September 18th. Ric Flair defeated WWE IC Champion Carlito Caribbean Cool to win the title by submission with the figure-4. WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus & Ashley defeated Victoria & Torrie Wilson. The Big Show pinned Gene Snitsky. Shelton Benjamin pinned Kerwin White. Matt Hardy pinned Edge in a steel cage match with a legdrop off the top of the cage. Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch defeated WWE Raw Tag Team Champions the Hurricane & Rosey to win the titles. Shawn Michaels pinned Chris Masters. Kurt Angle defeated WWE World Champion John Cena by disqualification when referee Mike Chioda stopped the match after seeing Cena hit the challenger in the face with the title belt. After the match, Cena hit the FU on Bischoff but was attacked from behind by Angle. Cena eventually countered an Olympic Slam through the commentary table and hit the FU on Angle through the table before celebrating in the ring.
The next night on RAW, Eric Bischoff came out with the WWE World Title and introduced Kurt Angle. Bischoff said he stripped John Cena of the championship as a result of Cena attacking him the night before at Unforgiven and that Angle was the new title holder. Vince McMahon came out, and reversed Bischoff’s ruling. Vince also said that Mick Foley, Triple H, Hulk Hogan, and Steve Austin would all be on hand for the October 3rd return of Raw to the USA Network. Vince then stated that the episode would also include John Cena vs. Eric Bischoff;. Bischoff announced there would be a Loser Leaves Raw ladder match between Matt Hardy and Edge on October 3rd with Edge’s world title shot on the line.
GOOD BYE SPIKE. WELCOME BACK USA
On the next RAW, Vince McMahon delivered an in-ring promo where he announced that this was the final Raw episode to air on Spike! TV. Vince thanked Spike! for their 5-year partnership. However, the network censored his comments about Raw moving back to the USA Network. Kurt Angle came to the ring and said he should be the one to face John Cena the next week for the world title, not Bischoff. He also suggested that he should have an automatic title shot against the winner of the contest. Shawn Michaels then came out and said he should have the title match, not Angle. McMahon announced that Angle and Michaels would face each other the on October 3rd in a 30-minute Ironman match. There was an in-ring promo by Edge & Lita with a ladder set up in the ring to promote a ladder match between Edge and Matt Hardy next week. After Edge climbed the ladder, Matt Hardy came out of the crowd and threatened to shove Edge off the top. At first he decided not to, but then quickly changed his mind. There was also a backstage argument between Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long. Long felt that the Raw Homecoming should feature a Smackdown! match on the card. Vince McMahon agreed, and allowed Long to pick any match he wanted for the 3-hour special. Teddy Long said he would announce the match later in the week on Smackdown!. There was an announcement that Mick Foley would be a guest on Piper’s Pit the next week.
On that week’s SmackDown!, Teddy Long chose Batista, Chris Benoit, Christian, JBL, Rey Mysterio Jr, and Eddie Guerrero as some of the Smackdown! talent that would be appearing at the Raw Homecoming. However, he would not announce the specific match.
The WWE RAW Homecoming on the USA Network took place on October 3rd at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX. This was a special 3-hour edition of RAW to celebrate its return to the USA Network after a 5-year absence. In the opening segment, Mick Foley was a guest of Piper’s Pit. They were interrupted by Randy Orton and Bob Orton Jr. Randy claimed that Piper would have been nothing if it wasn’t for his father. Bob punched Foley, and then Randy dropped both Piper and Foley with the RKO. Lilian Garcia introducing Kevin Von Erich, who sat ringside for the event. There was an in-ring segment with Vince McMahon in which he made reference to beating Steve Austin up on a past Raw. He was interrupted by Austin who came to the ring and showed a clip of Austin attacking Vince at the hospital during the October 5th, 1998 Raw, the ‘BANG 3:16’ segment, and the beer truck incident. Vince went to leave the ring, but was hit with the Stunner by Austin. Shane McMahon came to the ring and was also hit with a Stunner. Stephanie McMahon came out to defend her family. She slapped Austin, and was hit the Stunner as well. Linda McMahon entered the ring. She had a few beers with Austin before suffering the Stunner. There was an in-ring segment with Ricky Steamboat, Arn Anderson, Mae Young, Steve Keirn, Dusty Rhodes, Jimmy Hart, Howard Finkel, Sgt. Slaughter, Superstar Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, the Fabulous Moolah, Steve Williams, Jim Duggan, Ted Dibiase, Harley Race, Nikolai Volkoff, Hillbilly Jim, Kevin Von Erich, Jimmy Snuka, Dean Malenko, Tony Garea, Koko B. Ware, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Pat Patterson which was interrupted by Rob Conway. After insulting all of the legends, Conway was knocked out of the ring after being attacked by several of the wrestlers. He sustaining the Von Erich claw, and the Superfly splash. Gene Okerlund conducted an interview with Hulk Hogan regarding his future plans. Hogan mentioned that he wanted to wrestle Steve Austin. Shawn Michaels fought Kurt Angle to a draw in a 30-minute Ironman match, 2 falls a piece. Edge defeated Matt Hardy in a ladder match after swinging Hardy from the cable so that he landed across the top rope, then tying Hardy’s arms in the ropes and having Lita lock him in a crucifix to prevent him from escaping. Due to pre-match stipulations, Hardy was forced to leave Raw. Triple H & WWE IC Champion Ric Flair defeated Carlito Caribbean Colon & Chris Masters. After the bout, Triple H and Flair celebrated until Hunter hit Flair in the face with the sledgehammer. WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus & Ashley defeated Torrie Wilson, Victoria, & Candice Michelle in a handicap bra & panties match. World Heavyweight Champion Batista, WWE US Champion Chris Benoit, & Rey Mysterio Jr. fought John Bradshaw Layfield, Eddie Guerrero, & Christian to a no contest when Eric Bischoff came out on the stage immediately after the match started. Bischoff said he was in charge since Vince McMahon had left the building. He ordered that the lights be shut off so that the wrestlers couldn’t compete, and that the show should go to commercial break. WWE World Champion John Cena pinned Eric Bischoff in a No DQ match. After the bout, Teddy Long interrupted Cena and Angle’s fight in the ring and sent in the 6 previous Smackdown! wrestlers, along with Ken Kennedy, to the ring. A number of Raw wrestlers came out as Batista attempted to hit the powerbomb on Bischoff. The show ended as all the Raw and Smackdown! stars brawled in the ring.
No Mercy was held on October 9th at the Toyota Center in Houston, TX. Christy Hemme, WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Road Warrior Animal & John Heidenreich defeated Johnny Nitro, Joey Mercury, & Melina. Bobby Lashley pinned Simon Dean. WWE US Champion Chris Benoit defeated Booker T, Christian, and Orlando Jordan when Christian submitted to Benoit’s Sharpshooter. Ken Kennedy pinned Hardcore Holly. John Bradshaw Layfield pinned Rey Mysterio Jr. Randy & Bob Orton Jr. defeated the Undertaker in a handicap casket match. Juventud Guerrera pinned WWE Cruiserweight Champion Nunzio to win the title. World Heavyweight Champion Batista pinned Eddie Guerrero. During several points in the match, the challenger had the opportunity to use a steel chair on Batista but did not. Following the bout, Batista helped Guerrero to his feet and the two men shook hands.
On RAW, Stephanie McMahon talked about the incident the McMahon family and Steve Austin from the Homecoming show last week. She slapped a production employee when he told her to wrap it up for commercial, and then slapped Lilian Garcia. Stephanie stood on the commentary table and announced that, “The bitch is back.” There was a Carlito’s Cabana in which Carlito mentioned who the rightful #1 contender should be. Kurt Angle came out and said that he should be the #1 contender because he dominated Shawn Michaels in the Ironman match. Shawn Michaels came out to dispute the claim. The Big Show followed and said that he is deserving of a title shot. Edge & Lita then came out and said that Edge should get the title shot. Carlito then said he should be #1 contender. WWE World Champion John Cena appeared on the stage and cut a rap on all 5 potential challengers. There was a backstage segment in which Triple H walked down the hallway and was met by disgruntled looks from most of the Raw roster over his attack on Ric Flair last week. In an in-ring promo, Triple H explained his assault on Flair. He claimed that Flair was a shell of his former self when he came into the WWE 4 years ago and it was thanks to Triple H that Flair regained some of his prior glory. Triple H said that he was forced to put Flair out of his misery so Flair’s legacy would no longer be tarnished. Vince McMahon came out and said he didn’t blame Eric Bischoff or Steve Austin for the incident the previous week. He blamed the fans for enjoying it. He then fired the fans. McMahon then asked the commentary team to enter the ring. He brought up the fact that neither Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, or Jonathan Coachman did anything to help Stephanie & Linda McMahon. He demanded an apology from all three. He sent Coachman and Lawler out of the ring once they apologized. He asked JR to personally apologize to Stephanie. Ross responded by saying, “I said it once, I’m sorry your momma got Stunned”, Stephanie slapped him in the face. Linda McMahon came out to the ring and fired JR.
Taboo Tuesday took place at the Pay One Center in San Diego, CA on November 1st. Joey Styles made his first appearance as an announcer on a WWE pay per view. Matt Hardy & Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Chris Masters & Gene Snitsky when Mysterio pinned Masters with a springboard splash following the Twist of Fate from Hardy. Edge was to have competed in the match but pulled out before the bell rang, with he and Lita saying he didn’t care about Raw or Smackdown! He then brought out Snitsky as his replacement. Hardy and Mysterio were chosen as 2 of 5 possible Smackdown! stars. Hardy received 31% of the votes. Mysterio got 29%. Euguene & Jimmy Snuka defeated Rob Conway & Tyson Tomko when Snuka pinned Conway with the top rope splash after a Rock Bottom from Eugene. Snuka was chosen as the WWE legend to compete. Kamala and Duggan were the other two possibilities. The voting was Jimmy Snuka at 43%, Kamala at 40%, and Duggan at 17%. Mankind defeated Carlito Caribbean Cool by submission with the Mandible Claw. Mankind was chosen as the Mick Foley persona to face Carlito. The voting for which personality was Mankind with 52%, Cactus Jack had 35% and Dude Love at 13%. The Big Show & Kane defeated WWE Raw Tag Team Champions Trevor Murdoch & Lance Cade to win the titles. After the bout, the new champions hit a double chokeslam on Murdoch as well. Kane & Show were chosen as the tag team challengers because Shawn Michaels earned the right to compete in the main event. The main event voting was Shawn Michaels earning 46%, Kane received 38%, and Big Show had 16% of the vote. World Heavyweight Champion Batista pinned Jonathan Coachman with the sit-down powerbomb in a streetfight after fighting off an interfering Goldust and Vader. The streetfight was chosen as the stipulation for the match. The voting went as a streetfight earning 91%, a verbal debate garnered 6%, and an arm wrestling contest received 3%. WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus defeated Ashley, Victoria, Mickie James, Maria, and Candice in a lingerie battle royal. The voting was centered on the outfits that the Divas would wear. Lingerie won with 43% of the vote. Leather & lace was second with 32%. Cheerleader outfits finished last at 25%. WWE IC Champion Ric Flair defeated Triple H in a steel cage match. WWE World Champion John Cena defeated Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels by pinning Michaels with the FU immediately after Michaels hit the superkick on Angle.
The next night’s RAW featured the debut of Joey Styles as the new RAW commentator, alongside Jerry Lawler & Jonathan Coachman. Eric Bischoff announced Ric Flair would face Triple H in a Last Man Standing Match and WWE World Champion John Cena would face Kurt Angle at the Survivor Series. He named the three men for the Raw vs. Smackdown! Survivor Series match. They were WWE Raw Tag Team Champions the Big Show and Kane, along with team leader Shawn Michaels. Carlito Caribbean Cool volunteered his services for the match. However, he was interrupted by Shelton Benjamin. Benjamin felt he should be in the match. Bischoff ordered a match between Carlito and Shelton for later in the show. The winner would be named to the RAW Survivor Series team. Bischoff said that Michaels & Cena would face Angle & Chris Masters in the main event of the night. He then had Edge & Lita enter the ring, showed a clip of Edge from Taboo Tuesday in which he said he didn’t care about Raw. As a punishment, he was sending them to Smackdown!, so Edge could face Batista in a streetfight.
On SmackDown!, Teddy Long announced that a series of qualifying matches would take place later in the show. The winners would be named to the SmackDown! Survivor Series team. He did state that Batista would be the team leader for Smackdown!’s group against Raw. Rey Mysterio Jr. defeated Randy Orton by disqualification. Due to pre-match stipulations, Mysterio earned a spot in the Raw vs. Smackdown! Survivor Series match. Bobby Lashley pinned Orlando Jordan. Due to pre-match stipulations, Lashley earned a spot in the Raw vs. Smackdown! Survivor Series match. Eddie Guerrero defeated Ken Kennedy by disqualification after bringing a steel chair into the ring and tossing it to Kennedy, with referee Charles Robinson thinking Kennedy used the weapon on Guerrero. Due to pre-match stipulations, Guerrero earned a spot in the Raw vs. Smackdown! Survivor Series match. John Bradshaw Layfield pinned Chris Benoit. Due to pre-match stipulations, JBL earned a spot in the Raw vs. Smackdown! Survivor Series match. In the main event, World Heavyweight Champion Batista fought Edge to a no contest in a streetfight. As the match was about to begin, Eric Bischoff was shown arriving to the arena on the TitanTron. When Long asked Bischoff to leave, Chris Masters attacked security from behind and briefly applied the Masterlock on Long. JBL, Matt Hardy, Bobby Lashley, and Rey Mysterio Jr. ran out, with Bischoff and Masters leaving in their limo. After checking on Long, the four Smackdown! wrestlers chased after Bischoff in JBL’s white limo. Edge then brought out Kane, who was followed by the Big Show, who came through the crowd. Kane & Show double teamed Batista for several moments, and eventually hit a double chokeslam on Batista. During the segment, Batista sustained a torn lat muscle.
REST IN PEACE EDDIE
November 13th, was one of the saddest days in the history of the promotion. Early that morning, Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room. Like with Owen Hart before him, Eddie Guerrero’s memory was honored with special tribute shows. On RAW, Eddie Guerrero’s low rider stood to the left of the entrance ramp for the entire show. Vince McMahon gave a few words to begin the broadcast, and asked everyone to stand for a ten ring bell salute. A video package of Guerrero’s career aired, which was set to Johnny Cash’s “Hurt.” The show was filled with individual pre-taped comments about Guerrero from WWE World Champion John Cena, Lilian Garcia, Shawn Michaels, Chavo Guerrero Jr., World Heavyweight Champion Batista, Rey Mysterio Jr., Chris Benoit, Triple H, and Stephanie McMahon. The show also featured clips from Guerrero’s WWE career. WWE Raw Tag Team Champions the Big Show & Kane defeated WWE Smackdown! Tag Team Champions Johnny Nitro & Joey. After the bout, the Big Show did an Eddie Guerrero shimmey. Kurt Angle defeated Shelton Benjamin by submission with the ankle lock into a heel hook. After the bout, Angle took off one of his Eddie Guerrero arm bands and held it up in the air. Rey Mysterio Jr. pinned Shawn Michaels with the 619 and a springboard legdrop. Both men wore Eddie Guerrero “I’m Your Papi” t-shirts to the ring. After the bout, Mysterio helped Michaels to his feet and the two men embraced out of respect. Melina won an interpromotional divas battle royal by last eliminating WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus. Eugene pinned Simon Dean. WWE IC Champion Ric Flair defeated William Regal by submission with the figure-4. WWE World Champion John Cena defeated Randy Orton by disqualification when Bob interfered as Cena attempted the FU. After the bout, Cena sent Bob to the floor, avoided the RKO, and hit the FU on Randy. Cena took off his “I’m Your Papi” t-shirt, laid it on the mat, and placed his title belt on top.
During the SmackDown! show, World Heavyweight Champion Bati