This week Throwback Thursday, with a wee bit of help from the award-winning WWE Network, revisits the 14th anniversary of one of the all-time classic editions of Monday Night RAW: the first-ever WWE Draft Lottery!
With Chris Benoit’s incredible World Heavyweight Championship win at WrestleMania XX the WWE’s love affair with the defunct World Championship Wrestling and attempts to woo its fans was over. The next night, in keeping with the theme of things “beginning again”, Mr. McMahon interrupted a Miss Jackie/Stacy Keibler match to announce that it was time to shake up the product and give the fans “what you want” by announcing a superstar “lottery” for the next week’s RAW. “It’s time for a new RAW!” McMahon said. “It’s time for a new SmackDown! By God, it’s time for a new WWE!”
The result was one of the greatest, most unpredictable editions of RAW in series history, capped off by a rare battle between Triple H and Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship!
But just how well does this edition of RAW hold up today? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Edits are minimal here and only one milestone, the end of the Christian/Spike Dudley match, is missing. Some of the crowd chants, in particular the “a**hole” chant, have been reduced considerably.
Context for this classic edition of RAW is complete as all prior editions of both RAW and SD!, as well as all prior PPVs and Saturday Night’s Main Events, are available for you to enjoy right now!
WWE Monday Night RAW #565 (WATCH)
Date: March 22, 2004 – Location: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Attendance: 12,000 – TV Rating: 4.5 (<6 million viewers) Commentators: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (RAW); Michael Cole & Tazz (SmackDown!) – Interviews: Jonathan Coachman
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Benoit
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Randy Orton
World Tag Team Champions: Rob Van Dam & Booker T
WWE Women’s Champion: Victoria
WWE Champion: Eddie Guerrero
WWE United States Champion: John Cena
WWE Tag Team Champions: Too Cool (Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi)
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero, Jr.
After the usual “Attitude/Entertainment” opening we join the rosters of both RAW and SmackDown!, in separate rooms, as they await their fate in the draft.
In the interview position both RAW GM Eric Bischoff and SD! GM Paul Heyman (in a neck brace after being tombstoned by The Undertaker on last week’s edition of SD!) are standing face-to-face when Mr. McMahon enters and stands between the two before explaining the rules of the lottery: Each GM picks six stars from a bin of the other’s roster and are allowed to make trades, though all deals between the GMs are final after “12 midnight tonight”. Mr. McMahon reminds both GMs that “no one is exempt” and leaves without shaking either GM’s hand as the two GMs end the segment as they started: nose-to-nose.
After the usual (excellent) RAW intro and pyro Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcome us to the show and sell the impact of the first-ever “draft lottery” before tossing to ringside where SD! commentators Michael Cole and Tazz wonder which RAW Superstar will be coming to Thursday night.
On the stage both Eric Bischoff and Paul Heyman, selecting first for SD!, walk out and take their place on opposite sides of the stage. Heyman talks about being “physically assaulted by The Undertaker” before drawing his first pick from the raffle drum. Heyman opens the plastic bubble, laughs, and says that one of the “premier groups on RAW has been broken up.” Backstage we see Triple H, Ric Flair and Batista (Evolution) looking panicked. “Ladies and gentlemen, Paul Heyman’s SmackDown! hereby welcomes… Rene Dupree!” Evolution cheers as La Resistance members Sylvan Grenier and Rob Conway look crushed.
Michael Cole and Tazz gush over the pick and tout the 20 year-old Dupree’s “upside” before Dupree comes out, takes a photo with his new GM Paul Heyman, and heads to the ring where Dupree grabs the mic and says he refuses to have his last memory on RAW be of Steve Austin giving him the Stunner as Austin had last week. Dupree demands one last match on RAW which the two GMs agree to. Dupree challenges anyone in the RAW locker room and out comes Chris Jericho.
— “Inter-Promotional Singles Match” (WATCH – 7:33)
Rene Dupree (SmackDown!) vs. Chris Jericho (RAW)
This is a fast-paced opener that Jericho dominates from the opening bell, picking up the anti-climactic win with the step-up enzuigiri at 3:07.
WINNER is Chris Jericho (Pin, 3:07)
As Jericho leaves an angry Dupree tells the fans he demands respect. Stone Cold Steve Austin arrives and shakes Dupree’s hand before giving Dupree the Stunner and drinking beer in the ring.
After a break Rico and Miss Jackie are in the ring as RAW GM Eric Bischoff prepares to make his first “lottery” pick. Bischoff spins the drum, pulls a name, and announces that the “World’s Greatest Tag Team” is “ancient history” because Shelton Benjamin is coming to RAW! Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin hug before Benjamin hands his blue SD! shirt to Haas. As JR sells the potential of Benjamin and Bischoff awaits his first pick to arrive on stage Kane’s pyro and music hit and the “Big Red Machine” storms to the ring.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 19:04)
Rico w/Miss Jackie vs. Kane
Squash city here. Rico gets a few shots in before Kane ends things with a massive chokeslam for the win at 29-seconds. After the match Kane tells both GMs that it doesn’t matter where he ends up so long as it’s not on the same show as The Undertaker.
WINNER is Kane (Pin, :29)
Next Paul Heyman chooses his second pick and apologizes for breaking up “another super-group on RAW” before introducing Mark Jindrak. Backstage Garrison Cade and Jindrak say goodbye though it’s Matt Hardy’s reaction in front of them that steals the segment. Michael Cole and Tazz put Jindrak over before JR hypes the big World Tag Team title showdown between Champions RVD & Booker T and Evolution’s Ric Flair & Batista and going to break.
After the break Eric Bischoff spins his raffle drum and makes his second pick: Nidia! Backstage a thrilled Nidia runs from the SD! room as Lawler goes nuts over “puppies”. Nidia comes out, thanks Bischoff, and strips off her SD! blues for RAW red.
Paul Heyman attempts to choose his third pick when United States Champion John Cena joins the GMs on stage for a free-style rap that includes the line “If you draft me save your T-shirt, I ain’t kissin’ your butts/We in the ‘D’ baby, so you choke on deez nuts!” Cena makes Heyman’s third pick for him which Heyman disputes until Bischoff forces him to take the pick which turns out to be Triple H! Backstage “The Game” does a spit take before going to break.
We come back from break to replays of Heyman’s pick of Triple H (and Triple H’s reaction) before seeing Bischoff’s enraged reaction during the break as the RAW locker room serenades Triple H with “Sha Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye”. Michael Cole and Tazz gush over the arrival of Triple H before Christian arrives for the next match.
As Christian makes his way to the ring we see footage from last week’s RAW of Christian attacking Spike Dudley, setting up this match.
— “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 32:34)
Christian w/Trish Stratus vs. Spike Dudley
Spike takes it to Christian early on until Spike goes after Trish which is all the opening Christian needs to take control of the match. Though Spike has his moments Christian wins the match with the Unprettier at 3:19.
WINNER is Christian w/Trish Stratus (Pin, 3:19)
Up next a flustered Eric Bischoff walks off stage to find Mr. McMahon as the show goes to commercial break. After the break we see Bischoff complaining to McMahon about Heyman’s last pick not being legal and the like. Heyman then shows up and eventually convinces Mr. McMahon to have Eddie Guerrero defend the WWE Championship against Triple H later tonight.
Bischoff returns to the stage and, refusing to be upstaged by Paul Heyman, announces that his next pick, RAW‘s third, will wrestle World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit for the title later tonight. Bischoff then draws the name of Rhyno! JR and Lawler put over Rhyno as the “Man Beast” makes his way to the stage where Rhyno tosses his SD! shirt in Heyman’s face.
After a break we see the Snickers Cruncher WWE Rewind from last week’s RAW of Booker T & RVD defeating the Dudley Boyz to retain the World Tag Team titles.
— World Tag Team Championship (WATCH – 44:04)
Evolution (Batista & “Nature Boy” Ric Flair) vs. Booker T & Rob Van Dam(c)
While no one would ever confuse Batista with Arn Anderson this team was one of the highlights of the latter portion of Flair’s WWF/E career. This is a very good tag team match that tells a great story and employs classic psychology and some pretty snug action at times. Booker T gets the hot tag late and looks to have the match won when RVD mistakenly clips Booker T in the back of the head with a springboard sidekick. After disposing of RVD Batista hits a devastating Batista Bomb on Booker T for the pin at 10:32 to win the World Tag Team titles for the second and final time as Evolution, ending Booker T and RVD’s sole reign, together, as World Tag Team Champions at 35-days.
WINNERS and NEW World Tag Team Champion, Evolution (Batista & “Nature Boy” Ric Flair) (Pin, 10:32)
After a break Paul Heyman makes his fourth pick, Rob Van Dam, and Heyman cheers the “extreme reunion” as Michael Cole and Taz gush as usual.
Backstage RVD and Booker T are discussing their rematch clause when Jonathan Coachman informs RVD that he’s been drafted to SmackDown! which leaves RVD and Booker T in disbelief.
— World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:01:16)
Rhyno vs. Chris Benoit(c)
This, Benoit’s first televised World title defense, is nothing more than a glorified squash that, with no heat, fails to draw any substantial reaction from the fans. The end comes after Benoit dodges a Rhyno spear and cinches in the Crippler Crossface for the tap-out win at 4:37 to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.
WINNER and STILL World Heavyweight Champion, Chris Benoit (Submission, 4:37)
After replays we head backstage where Eric Bischoff is watching Benoit’s celebration on a monitor when Shawn Michaels interrupts and demands the RAW GM trade him to SD!, which Bischoff refuses. Bischoff then tells HBK that, barring the lottery and any title changes, HBK will challenge Benoit for the World title at the upcoming Backlash PPV which appeases HBK, who says that taking the World title is the best way to get back at Triple H and that this time, one-on-one with Benoit, “the kick is gonna stick.”
After hype for the WWE Championship match and a commercial we see the Drakengard Slam of the Week of Molly Holly having her wig taken off on last week’s RAW.
On the stage Eric Bischoff makes his fourth pick, Tajiri, to the sounds of crickets. Backstage Tajiri tearfully says his goodbyes to his now-former Kyo Dai teammates as JR and Lawler put over Tajiri. This is followed by Heyman making his fifth pick: Theodore R. Long. Jazz tells Long he “never made me any money anyways” as Long leaves for RAW while Cole and Tazz put the pick over. Bischoff immediately draws his fifth selection, Edge, who will be on RAW when he returns from injury, shocking Paul Heyman and drawing a decent pop as JR and “King” put Edge over.
Heyman then makes his sixth and final selection, reads the name, and balls the paper up before tossing it away like trash. Bischoff picks up the paper and laughs as he announces that Spike Dudley is now on SD!. Though Heyman sulks, Cole and Tazz, as usual, put the pick over.
Bischoff then makes his sixth and final selection, drafting none other than the SmackDown! GM himself, Paul Heyman! As the SD! locker room cheers, the RAW locker room pouts. Bischoff tells Heyman there is laundry to be done and a car that needs washing but Heyman refuses to “sell his soul” to Bischoff and quits on the spot. As Heyman walks out Bischoff goes to the ring and announces that “Eric Bischoff is back in a damn big way!” Suddenly Edge appears (his music overdubbed) to a massive pop before sliding in the ring and spearing Bischoff in the corner.
After a break we see a replay of Edge spearing Bischoff and of Paul Heyman leaving the building as “King” wonders how trades will work since the SD! GM has quit.
— WWE Championship (WATCH – 1:21:14)
Triple H vs. Eddie Guerrero(c)
As hard as it to believe this marked only the second televised one-on-one match between these two legends and was, sadly, their last televised match together. Triple H comes out wearing a RAW shirt before tearing it off to reveal the SD! blue beneath. This match stands as a testament to what could have been and remains, for me, one of the all-time great matches in RAW history. After Eddie hits the Three Amigos Ric Flair and Batista come to the ring which allows Triple H to take advantage. As Flair distracts the referee Batista passes Triple H the WWE title before the “Animal” is attacked by SD!‘s John Cena and Rey Mysterio. In the end Triple H prepares to blast Eddie with the WWE title when HBK shows up and hits “The Game” with Sweet Chin Music before diving over the top to the gang at ringside. Eddie goes up top for the Frog Splash when Christian crotches “Latino Heat”, giving Eddie the win via DQ at 11:03.
WINNER and STILL WWE Champion, Eddie Guerrero (Disqualification, 11:03)
After the match both locker rooms run out and it’s an inter-promotional brawl as Eddie and Triple H fight it out in the ring! Suddenly Austin’s music hits and Stone Cold leads the “cavalry” out to battle. Soon enough Austin joins the fight as all hell breaks loose in the Motor City as RAW goes off the air!
While the wrestling, by and large, leaves plenty to be desired this is an excellent edition of RAW that more than stands the test of time.
Despite the lottery largely amounting to very little (Triple H was traded back to RAW before midnight) it created a buzz that crackles through the lens even today exactly 14 years later. This classic edition of RAW is well worth your time, especially if you’ve never seen it before now.
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Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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