WWE Bad Blood 2004 Review

WWE Bad Blood 2004 Review - Event poster

June 13, 2004
Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio
If Bad Blood 2004 is remembered for anything, it's what many consider to be an overly-long Hell in a Cell match between former friends turned long-standing adversaries, Shawn Michaels and Triple H. 
As with many shows from around this time period, I've never actually seen it before, but I'm already skeptical that the match will prove to be anywhere near as boring as many fans seem to have dismissed it as. 

Elsewhere on this Raw-brand PPV, we have Chris Benoit pulling double-duty in both tag team and world championship matches as the once-celebrated Canadian found himself at the tail end of the biggest and most successful run of his career.

Without further ado then, let's get on with it:

Blood Will Seep From the Souls of Gladiators

Despite appearing on the promotional poster, Edge was nowhere to be seen in tonight’s opening video.

Instead, we focused on the Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels Hell in a Cell match and Chris Benoit defending the world heavyweight title against Kane

As the four stars were seen in action, ominous music played and a voiceover gave us the usual dramatic spiel, this time about blood seeping from the souls of gladiators and warriors being forever changed by what we were about to witness.

WWE Bad Blood 2004 - Jim Ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler

In typical WWE fashion, it was a gripping way to start the show.

Cue pyro galore, crowd shots, and a passionate greeting from none other than Jim Ross.

Joined as always by Jerry Lawler, the two cast their eye over the huge steel structure hanging overhead before the bell rang and we got right into our opening match.

WWE World Tag Team Championship 
WWE World Tag Team Champions La Resistance (Robert Conway & Sylvain Grenier) vs. Edge & WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit 

Drawing heat from the word go, La Resistance kicked things off by taking to the microphone to sing the Canadian national anthem before they were inevitably interrupted by fellow Canadians, Edge & Chris Benoit.

WWE Bad Blood 2004 - La Resistance

The match then got off to a fine start, with Edge entering a spirited performance against the champions before finally falling into the role of face-in-peril.

Though not a masterpiece by any stretch, this was certainly a solid opener with a standard tag team formula that was elevated by the talent in the ring.

Along the way, they lightly teased a modicum of tension between the challengers. 

WWE Bad Blood 2004 Review - La Resistance vs. Edge & Chris Benoit

First, Edge made it to the corner for a hot tag only to find his partner sprawled on the outside after a La Resistance cheap shot. Then, the two men nearly collided in the corner, but quickly shrugged it off and got back to business.

Just when it looked like the duo had things in the bag thanks to a Benoit crossface, Kane made his arrival and destroyed both of them, resulting in a DQ.
Your Winners Via DQ: Edge & Chris Benoit (La Resistance retain)

After the bell, we cut to Chris Benoit writhing in agony on the arena floor as the announcers wondered aloud whether the champion would be in any fit state to defend his title later on in the show.

Coach is Ready for Eugene

Cutting to the back, we found Jonathan Coachman eagerly psyching himself up for his match.

Much to Coach’s delight, Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff revealed that he had taken William Regal out of the equation tonight, leaving Coachman free to do his thing and eliminate Eugene once and for all.

Before he could leave, however, Coach spotted something funny going on just off camera, which Bischoff casually sauntered over to deal with.

Of course, it was none other than Eugene himself, who had overheard Eric calling him an embarrassment.

WWE Bad Blood '04 - Eric Bischoff & Eugene

Feigning sympathy, Bischoff consoled an upset Eugene, trying to convince him that he simply didn’t want his nephew getting hurt like his idols, Chris Benoit and Triple H had in the past.

Undeterred, Eugene refused Uncle Eric’s offer to put him on a plane and send him home, instead getting gleefully excited about the prospect of hitting the ring to wrestle.

We’d see that later. First, there was this:

Chris Jericho vs. Tyson Tomko (w/ Trish Stratus)

I’ll be honest, I only really know Tyson Tomko from his run with Christian in TNA, and even then I didn’t really pay much attention to his ring work.

WWE Bad Blood '04 - Chris Jericho vs. Tyson Tomko

So, I wasn’t expecting too much from this one and was pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be fairly enjoyable.

Not great, sure, but a decent David vs. Goliath in which Chris Jericho had to use his speed and skill to overcome the brute force of his larger opponent.

At various points, it looked as though Christian’s “Problem Solver” had the match won, but it wasn’t to be his night.

As Trish Stratus stood on the apron to give the referee a piece of her mind, Jericho pushed Tomko into her, then walloped him with an enziguri for the win.
Your Winner: Chris Jericho 

Out in the back, Todd Grisham stood by for an interview with Randy Orton

WWE Bad Blood 2004 Review - Todd Grisham interviews Randy Orton

Marking the eve of his six-month anniversary as Intercontinental Champion, The Legend Killer began to boast about leaving Mick Foley laying in a pool of his own blood back at Backlash '04 but was soon distracted by the jeers from the fans out in the arena.

Deciding he could no longer take it, Orton snatched the mic and walked out into the arena, putting himself over in a captivating promo before finally hitting the ring and demanding that the Ohio faithful bow to him.

At that point, Orton’s scheduled opponent, Shelton Benjamin arrived on the scene and insisted that there was no need to wait until later in the evening for their match, they could do it right now.

WWE Intercontinental Championship 
WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton vs. Shelton Benjamin

Despite Orton’s protests, referee Jack Doan hit the ring and called the bell.

WWE Bad Blood 2004  - Randy Orton vs. Shelton Benjamin

Shelton pounced, almost upsetting the champion with a roll-up for a very near fall in the opening seconds of the match before taking the fight to the outside.

Orton soon turned the tables, setting out to systematically take his opponent apart in one of the better matches of the night.

As he did so, the champion’s stablemate, Ric Flair, made his way out, making the save for Orton once Benjamin made a comeback and attempted a pin near the ropes.

In retaliation, the challenger went after Flair, dragging him into the ring and applying a figure four to the delight of the crowd.

As Orton stepped up to attack, Shelton caught him in a roll-up, simultaneously pinning Randy and holding Flair in the figure four.

If the match had ended there, it would have been a fantastic finish, but tonight was not to be Shelton Benjamin’s night.

He flew off the top rope towards his opponent, only to be caught, rolled up, and pinned, Orton gaining the advantage with the classic handful of tights.
Your Winner and Still Intercontinental Champion: Randy Orton

Backstage, Matt Hardy came by to wish his girlfriend, Lita, good luck in her upcoming women’s title match.

WWE Bad Blood 2004  - Eric Bischoff confronts Matt Hardy & Lita

The two began to smooch but were interrupted by Eric Bischoff and a gaggle of grumpy security guards.

Looking to prevent Matt Hardy from getting involved in the upcoming Benoit/Kane match, Bischoff gave the former tag team champion an ultimatum:

Either leave the arena immediately or Lita’s participation in the next match would be cancelled.

Ever the chivalrous boyfriend, Hardy opted to leave.

WWE Women’s Championship 
WWE Women’s Champion Victoria vs. Trish Stratus (w/ Tyson Tomko) vs. Gail Kim vs. Lita

This is a great example of a match where the whole was not necessarily greater than the sum of its parts.

With Trish Stratus, Lita, Gail Kim, and Victoria involved, this was a bout with undoubtedly the four best women wrestlers in the promotion at the time, and yet it was, at best, uninteresting, at worst, kind of messy.

Although it didn't last long, the whole thing seemed to consist of one girl doing a single move on another in the middle of the ring, making a count, and having it broken up.

Somebody else would then hit a big move, and so on.

WWE Bad Blood 2004  Review - Trish Stratus won the women's championship

This continued until Lita nailed Gail Kim with an impressive DDT, only for Trish Stratus to capitalize, rolling up Lita for the cover, the count, and the victory.
Your Winner and NEW WWE Women's Champion: Trish Stratus

Post-match, the other girls looked on, distraught, as Stratus made her way to the back with her record-breaking fifth women's championship.

From there, JR & King took us to a promo package to one of the night's most hotly anticipated matches.

I'm just kidding, it was for this:

Eugene vs. Jonathan Coachman

OK, say what you want about the Eugene character, but Nick Dinsmore certainly made it work to the point that he was immensely popular with the crowd here at Bad Blood 2004.

WWE Bad Blood 2004  Review - Eugene vs. Jonathan Coachman

What's more, though this was undoubtedly a comedy match, it was certainly an entertaining one.

The early going saw Eugene constantly outwit and embarrass his opponent, even pulling out a spot that would later become a staple of the Saturday Morning Slam shows; both guys run the ropes, one stops and heads to the outside, the other doesn't even realize his opponent isn't there and keeps on running.

In this particular instance, Eugene left Coach hitting the ropes to head outside and cuddle a teddy bear handed to him by a fan.

Eventually realizing what was going on, Coachman went outside on the attack but was once again thwarted by his nemesis.

WWE Bad Blood 2004 PPV - Jonathan Coachman tries to distract Eugene with a hot woman carrying cookies

Resorting to dirty tactics, Coach next tried to distract Eugene by bringing out a hot blonde with a tray of cookies and, when that didn't work very well, Garrison Cade got involved, only to get his comeuppance also.

Eventually, after an entertaining -if incredibly ridiculous- match, Eugene put Coach away with a crowd-popping Rock Bottom and People's Elbow.
Your Winner: Eugene

WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit vs. Kane

I admit that i initially turned Bad Blood 2004 off at this point and didn’t come back to it for a few days simply because, as good as his opponent was, I just didn’t relish the idea of a 20-minute Kane match.

WWE Bad Blood 2004 PPV - Kane vs. Chris Benoit

As it turned out, I found myself enjoying this much more than I thought I would.

OK, so there were times when things seemed to move incredibly slowly, but it was overall a riveting match with a clear story - Kane going after Benoit’s weakened neck, Benoit going after Kane’s legs in an effort to cut him down to size and apply a sharpshooter.

Eventually, he got the move in, but it proved not to be enough to help the champion win the match. The Big Red Machine muscled his way to the ropes and got back to his feet.

When his signature flying headbutt likewise proved ineffective, Benoit once again switched tactics, clamping in the Crippler Crossface and tanking back as if his life depended on it.

Still, even that wasn’t enough to beat the challenger, but the champion was not to be deterred.

With the crowd in a frenzy, Benoit rolled up Benoit with a La magistral cradle and scored the three count.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Benoit

When he got backstage, Todd Grisham pulled Benoit aside to show him all of his failed attempts to make Kane submit. 

In one of the more bizarre segments I’ve seen in a long while, The Crippler responded to every single one of these “here’s where you failed,” remarks by repeating the exact same promo about how he was “for real.”

I’m not quite sure what the point in all that was.

Finally, we got a look back at the latest chapter in the rivalry between Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

If you need a recap, The Game cost HBK a title match against Benoit, so Michaels retaliated by costing HHH a battle royal victory that would have earned him a title shot.

The two then started brawling on top of a car, which was apparently the straw that broke Eric Bischoff’s back as the Raw GM booked the following for tonight’s main event:

Hell in a Cell
Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels 

Make no mistake about it, this match was long as hell. 47 minutes, 26 seconds long according to the official word from Jim Ross.

WWE Bad Blood 2004 Review - Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels, Hell in a Cell

So it would be easy to argue -as so many other wrestling reviewers have over the years- that even though it was good, it would have been even better with about 20 minutes or so lopped off.

Having just finished watching it, I’m inclined to disagree.

Yes, there was a lot of laying around “playing dead,” and yes, there may have been moments that weren’t necessarily as exciting as others, but those moments only served to enhance the overall ebb and flow of this dramatic and bloody saga.

And it was a saga.

This was the culmination of a fierce rivalry, two former best friends turned bitter enemies who had been waging war on each other for months, finally settling the score once and for all no matter what it took, no matter what they had to do to one another.

If it meant destroying one another with chairs, ring steps, and ladders, so be it.

If it meant drawing major blood and battling to the point that both men looked like the walking dead, so be it.

If it meant fighting so much that neither man could stand of their own free will and the two had to literally use one another’s body to get up, the war to end all wars between Shawn Michaels and Triple H was going to be over one way or another.

Could they have produced a match that was just as good, or possibly even better, match in half the time?

Sure they could, but even at three-quarters of an hour and counting, this was far from boring if you were prepared to get truly engrossed in the story and saw all the time they spent napping on the mat not as time wasted, but as two men who had given it everything they had and were now desperately fighting for a single last ounce of energy with which to put their opponent away.

That’s my verdict at least, and one I’m prepared to stick to. After all, if we all agreed on everything, life would be even more boring than most folks claim this match to be.

Rant aside, the whole thing came to an end with a victory for Triple H after the exhausted superstar put his best friend away with two pedigrees.
Your Winner: Triple H

Post-match, the rest of Evolution came out to carry their battle-fatigued leader to the back, afterwards Shawn Michaels was helped to his feet by the official, receiving applause from the Ohio faithful as Bad Blood 2004 came to a close.

If it wasn't for that Hell in a Cell match, this show would have faded into the history books, destined to largely forgotten. 
Don't get me wrong, the Benoit/Kane match was a damn fine match, but it's not exactly one anybody is still talking about, and I don't think that's 100% due to Benoit.
Nothing on this show was actually bad (even Coach/Eugene served its purpose), but you'd have to hope that WWE would start to seriously up their game after this show as Summerslam 2004 got ever closer. 
I'll have a review of that show published in a few weeks. 
Until then, thanks for reading and be sure to check out my Retro Pro Wrestling books on Amazon:

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