Civic Center – Hartford, Connecticut – July 11, 2004
HEAT MATCH: Val Venis vs. Tyson Tomko
Tomko is accompanied by the Women’s Champion Trish Stratus. Nidia comes out to backup Val Venis. Tomko charges but Venis is ready for him and he unleashes a flurry of offense to Tomko powders. Venis is aggressive but Tomko cuts him off by snapping his neck off the top rope. They battle back and forth with neither man holding an advantage very long. Tomko is able to hit a big boot to the face and that’s enough for the win at 2:52. Maven comes out to save his Tough Enough compatriot Nidia from Tomko and Trish. Poor Val Venis, no wonder he’s so bitter.
MATCH #1: Tajiri & Rhyno vs. Garrison Cade & Jonathan Coachman
This was a last-minute addition to the card, and Tajiri was forced to find a partner with very little notice. I’d say he did okay. Rhyno and Cade start the match with some basic chain wrestling. That quickly turns into a slugfest, and Rhyno obviously wins that. Rhyno tries an early Gore but Cade rolls to the floor to avoid it. Tajiri tags in and the beating on Cade continues. Coachman interferes from the apron to give Cade his first advantage. Now Tajiri is isolated in the wrong corner and the oddball team of Cade and Coachman work him over. Tajiri comes back and locks Coachman in the Tarantula and then is able to make the hot tag. The referee loses control and all four men are in the ring. Tajiri hits Cade with the Green Mist and then Rhyno follows with a Gore. That leaves Coachman prey to a Buzzsaw Kick and Tajiri gets the pin at 7:31. Despite Coach not being a wrestler this was a perfectly serviceable opener.
MATCH #2: Chris Jericho vs. Batista
Batista dominates using his power early going, keeping Jericho grounded. Jericho fights back and hits a reverse elbow off the top rope. Batista cuts him off with a side suplex for a two-count. He continues working the back, keeping Jericho down on the mat. Jericho fights back and this time he goes to work on the knee. He tries the Walls of Jericho but can’t cinch it in, and then he runs right into a spinebuster for a two-count. Jericho comes back with a bulldog off the second rope and he goes for the Lionsault but hits nothing but knees. He’s able to hit the running enziguiri but only gets two. Batista comes back and hits another spinebuster and then the Batista Bomb and gets a three-count at 12:12. Jericho’s foot was on the bottom rope but the referee didn’t see it. Batista was not great at this point but Jericho went out of his way to make him look good, as Batista controlled almost the entire match and got to look dominant.
MATCH #3: World Tag Team Championship Match – La Resistance vs. Eugene & Ric Flair
Eugene dominates the early going, using his savant wrestling skills to keep both Robert Conway and Sylvan Grenier at bay. He steals a bunch of Ric Flair spots, much to the Nature Boy’s chagrin, even the Flair Flop! Eugene goes for the Figure-Four Leglock but Conway kicks him into the corner, where Flair tags in to a nice pop. The challengers have been controlling a majority of the match for the first little while. Flair locks Conway in the Figure-Four and Grenier has to break it up. That allows the champions to finally take control. Flair almost makes the tag but Grenier pulls him off the apron and throws him into the steps. That makes Eugene angry, and he comes in the ring illegally and hurls Conway over the top rope to the floor. The referee tries to stop the path of destruction but Eugene shoves him out of the way and gets disqualified at 12:29. That was mostly standard tag team stuff but I really like the Eugene and Flair dynamic as a team. Eugene was so good when he first started out.
MATCH #4: No Disqualification Match – Matt Hardy vs. Kane
Kane attacks Hardy in the aisle but Hardy is ready for him. The brawl goes on around ringside, and Hardy tries a Twist of Fate on the announce table. Kane blocks it and sends Hardy into the crowd. Kane stays in control as they head back to the ring. Kane abuses Hardy in and out of the ring as the crowd loses interest. Matt fights back but Kane keeps cutting him off. The crowd chants for tables for some reason. Matt tries to use a chair but Kane boots him down and grabs the chair himself. Matt is finally able to get an advantage by tying Kane’s leg up in the ropes and he unloads on him. Matt cracks him with the ring bell and they go back to the ring. Matt hits a legdrop off the top rope to the back of Kane’s neck and then goes for the Twist of Fate. Kane powers out. He goes for a powerslam of some sort but Hardy reverses it and hits a Twist of Fate but Kane kicks out. Kane hits a chokeslam and goes outside to grab the ring steps. Lita comes bouncing out, and she was allegedly pregnant at this time. Kane is distracted by her and picks up the steps again. This gives Matt the chance to grab a chair and hit the steps, which go back into Kane’s face and Matt gets the pin at 10:35. The match was incredibly dull, as was most of this feud. They show Lita trying to talk to Matt backstage after the match, and he’s upset because he doesn’t want anything to happen to the baby. Lita was having one of her hot days on 7-11-04.
MATCH #5: Intercontinental Championship Match – Randy Orton vs. Edge
Orton has been the champion since 12.14.03, and this is his tenth defense. Edge has been the champion on four previous occasions. They start off Edge getting Orton in a headlock. He knocks Orton down with a shoulderblock and they lock up again. This time Orton gets control and goes after the arm. Orton also uses the headlock. They do a criss-cross sequence followed by more headlock. Edge gets a couple of knockdowns so Orton powders. He comes back in the ring and gains control, as the crowd feels listless. The fight eventually spills to the floor and Edge takes control out there. Back in the ring he tries to hit a Spear but gets kicked in the face, and Orton hits his back cracker for two. That leads to a long heat segment on Edge, with plenty of rest holds from Orton. Edge fights back and hits a dropkick and a neckbreaker and we get the double count. They get up and Edge is soon able to hit the Edge-O-Matic for two. Edge hits a cross body off the top rope and Orton rolls through and gets a two-count. He thumbs Edge in the eye and then removes one of the turnbuckle pads. The referee goes to put the turnbuckle pad on and Edge gets a small package but the referee doesn’t see it. Edge argues, and that gives Orton the chance to resume control. The challenger comes back and hits the Impaler for two. Lawler and Ross’s commentary in this match is really annoying. Orton tries a Double Cheat, by dropping Edge’s face on the exposed turnbuckle and putting his feet on the ropes during the pin but Edge kicks out. He tries an RKO but Edge avoids it and tries another Spear, this time Orton leap-frogs him. Orton tries the RKO again and Edge gets a backslide for two. Edge whips Orton back first into the exposed turnbuckle and finally hits the Spear to get the win at 26:37. They totally could have cut 10 minutes out of that match and I think it would have been amazing. It’s still pretty good, especially since it definitely finishes strong, but I think they had a classic in them.
MATCH #6: Number One Contender’s Match – Victoria vs. Molly Holly
Holly tries using her technical abilities in the early going, and Victoria counters with speed and agility. Victoria hits a moonsault off the second rope for two, and Holly rolls to the floor so Victoria follows her out with a house show dive. She tries walking up the stairs back into the ring but Holly sweeps her legs out from under her and Victoria crashes into the steps. Back in the ring Holly goes go to work on the shoulder. The crowd just does not care. Victoria fights back and tries the Widow’s Peak but can’t hit it because of her shoulder. She can hit a vicious superkick though, and that’s enough to get the pin and earn a title shot at 6:22. That was serviceable TV-style match.
MATCH #7: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Chris Benoit vs. Triple H
Benoit has been the champion since 3.14.04 and this is his sixth defense. They start off cautiously with some chain wrestling. These two know each other well after the amount of times they’ve been in the ring together this year. They throw out suplexes and strikes as well, with neither man holding a sustained advantage in the opening minutes. Benoit goes for the first big maneuver, the diving headbutt, but HHH avoids it and goes to work. The challenger goes to work on Benoit’s sternum, creatively attacking it and keeping him down on the mat. After a long period of HHH offense, Benoit is able to come back and trap the Game in the Sharpshooter. Benoit follows up with three rolling German Suplexes, giving himself some time to recover. He goes up top but HHH rolls to the floor so he decides instead to hit a suicide dive! Back in the ring the referee gets bumped to the floor. HHH hits a DDT and calls for Eugene. Benoit comes back and locks on the Crossface! HHH taps out but there’s no referee. Eugene gets up on the apron and Benoit knocks him down because he doesn’t want to take any risks with losing his World Title. Benoit feels bad, and that gives HHH the opportunity to hit a low blow and the Pedigree. The referee makes it back in the ring but Benoit kicks out at two! HHH tries to use a chair but Eugene stops him and Benoit gets a hold of the chair. Ric Flair and Batista come running out and Benoit dispatches them. Eugene tries to stop Benoit from using the chair and HHH recovers and grabs the chair. Benoit hits him with a low blow. Both men are down and Eugene picks up the chair but he’s not sure who to hit with it. Eugene and Benoit struggle with the chair and Eugene accidentally smashes HHH in the face with it! Benoit then scores a quick schoolboy rollup for the pin at 29:03. I really liked the old-school slow-paced back and forth of the first half or so of the match, and it got a little crazy with all the Eugene stuff but it was part of a bigger story and it made sense within that story so it’s not like Russo overbooking. I would have preferred it if they stayed straight up, but this was still really good.