WWE Vengeance 2004 Review

WWE Vengeance 2004 Review - Event poster

July 11, 2004, 
Hartford Civic Center, Hartford, Connecticut

Summer was hotting up and Eugene-Mania was running wild as WWE Vengeance 2004 came live from the company's backyard in Hartford, Connecticut. 

As they proved many times before and since, the worst thing that could happen to a WWE performer was for something to get over organically. 

When it did, Vince McMahon and his creative team would either kill it dead or milk it for all it was worth until it lost all of its appeal. 

On tonight's show, the company did both at the same time by having the Eugene character appear in some form in almost everything on the card, from backstage segments to match setups to the matches themselves. 

Still, let's be honest: 

Eugene was majorly over because he was entertaining, so how bad could this Raw-brand Pay Per View really be?

Let's head to Connecticut and find out, shall we?

Welcome to Vengeance 2004

Our show tonight began with an excellent opening video recapping Chris Benoit’s road to Wrestlemania and his subsequent rivalry with Triple H.

As the dramatic montage played, The Game warned Benoit that he was a mere placeholder, keeping the belt warm while he (Hunter), tended to some “unfinished business” in his feud with Shawn Michaels.

Offering a retort, The Crippler insisted that HHH’s “foolish rants” only made him more motivated, and vowed to end his nemesis once and for all.

WWE Vengeance 2004 - Jim ross & Jerry 'The King' Lawler

From there, we got the usual pyro and ballyhoo, along with a greeting from our announce team, Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler.

With that, it was down to ringside for our opening contest.

Jonathan Coachman & Garrison Cade vs.Tajiri &  Rhyno

This all started with a new low for WWE, with guest general manager Eugene booking a game of musical chairs on the go-home Raw for this Vengeance PPV.

WWE Vengeance '04 - Coach puts a hurt on Tajiri

Jonathan Coachman and Tajiri had both been part of that game and had fallen out when Coach claimed a seat Tajiri had already gone for.

Fast forward to the Vengeance pre-show edition of Sunday Night Heat and a match was set up pitting Coach and Garrison Cade against Tajiri and a mystery partner.

That partner was, of course, Rhyno

The two former ECW stars took the fight to their opponents in a match that was about as good as it could have been given that they were facing one non-wrestler and a guy nobody cared about.

Don’t get me wrong, as he’d proven back at Bad Blood, Coach was surprisingly competent between the ropes and Garrison Cade was at least a solid performer, but it was hard to get too excited about this one.

The end came when Tajiri blew green mist at Coach, who ducked so that Cade took the full brunt.

Rhyno then tackles Cade to the outside, allowing Tajiri to finish off Coach with a big ol’ boot to the noggin.
Your Winners: Tajiri & Rhyno 

Back in the Evolution dressing room, Ric Flair complained to Batista and Randy Orton about Triple H’s new “friendship” with Eugene.

WWE Vengeance '04 Review - Evolution are confused about Triple H's friendship with Eugene

Hunter arrived and was about to reveal his master plan when he suddenly realized that Eugene was nowhere in sight and went to look for him.

It didn’t take long.

The Game hid behind a door as he listened in on Chris Benoit telling Eugene that Hunter was using him, lying to him, and manipulating him.

We’d see more of those three later. First, it was time for this:

Chris Jericho vs. Batista

Chris Jericho started off a firm favorite in this compelling David & Goliath battle. 

WWE Vengeance '04 Review - Chris Jericho vs. Batista

Yet the more The Animal dominated his smaller foe, the more the “Y2J” chants faded and the louder the “BA-TIST-A!” chants grew.

Though it wasn’t a star-making performance like the one his fellow Evolution member, Randy Orton had enjoyed with Mick Foley back at Wrestlemania, Batista certainly looked impressive here.

That was thanks, in part, to Jericho’s tremendous sell job, his speed and agility no match for his larger opponent’s brute strength and unbridled aggression.

Batista won, though given the finish, this didn’t seem like the end of their story.

After being plowed into the mat, Jericho got his foot on the ropes to break up Earl Hebner’s three count. 

Unfortunately for the current AEW star, Hebner never saw it and simply awarded the contest to Batista.
Your Winner: Batista 

Backstage, Triple H convinced Eugene that it was Benoit who was the real liar and manipulator.

WWE Vengeance 2004 Review - Eugene tries on a Ric Flair robe in front of Ric Flair and Triple H

The Game even went so far as to gift Eric Bischoff’s nephew with a Ric Flair robe, much to the Nature Boy’s chagrin.

WWE World Tag Team Championship 
La Resistance (Robert Conway & Sylvia’s Grenier) vs. Ric Flair & Eugene 

This may not have been a technical masterpiece, but it sure was a lot of fun.

WWE Vengeance 2004 - Eugene styles and profiles

Tag team champions La Resistance were given a moment to sing their national anthem before the bell rang, which was the only time they were given to shine.

Once the bout got underway, Robert Conway and Sylvian Grenier were merely two warm bodies for the stars of the show, Flair and Eugene, to interact with as they told their story.

That story began with Eugene doing his best Ric Flair impression as he ran through Nature Boy’s greatest hits.

At first, Flair seemed to find Eugene’s stylin’ and profilin’ funny, yet the more Eugene strutted, chopped, and went through his partner’s signature mannerisms, the more Naitch became shocked and annoyed.

Flair finally made it into the ring where he played face-in-peril for a while until Euegene could get take no more.

Wrestling’s idiot savant pounced into the ring, grabbing Sylvian Grenier by the trunks and hurling him to the outside.

His face awash with single-minded focus, Eugene threw Stone Cold Stunners and People’s Elbows around with gusto before battering Robert Conway into the corner.

When the referee made an earnest attempt to break things up, Eugene pushed him down to the mat and got his team disqualified.

That was perhaps the best finish they could have chosen for this match. It allowed the Eugene/Evolution storyline to continue without ringfencing the tag team titles within that story.
Your Winners Via DQ and Still World Tag Team Champions: La Resistance 

Up next, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler took us to a vignette recapping the feud between Matt Hardy and Kane.

To sum up, Lita had agreed to shag Kane to stop him from destroying her boyfriend, Hardy.

WWE Vengeance 2004 - Kane vs. Matt Hardy (No DQ match)

Lita got pregnant. Kane claimed it was his. Now, the two would meet in our next contest.

No Disqualification Match
Kane vs. Matt Hardy 

I know wrestling is often likened to a soap opera, but this whole storyline felt a little too contrived for this fan’s tastes.

WWE Vengeance '04 Review - Kane vs. Matt Hardy

Still, it did at least give us a reasonably decent no-holds-barred match between Kane and Hardy.

Battling in the ring, around the outside, and even into the crowd, both men fought with a determined intensity that elevated the contest beyond mediocrity.

Of course, even when the match was at its best, it only served to kill time before the inevitable run-in from Lita.

When she did arrive, the former Divas Champion begged Kane not to destroy her boyfriend with the ring steps.

As evil as ever, The Big Red Machine backed Lita into a corner and then turned to finish his violent plan.

Lita’s distraction, however, had allowed Hardy to recover just enough that he was able to thwart Kane’s stairs attack with a steel chair.

One Twist of Fate and a three count later, this one was done.
Your Winner: Kane

Backstage, Lita pursued Hardy, who advised her to stay away from him until he’d had time to process this baby daddy drama.

WWE Intercontinental Championship 
WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton vs. Edge 

Following a video recap of the feud between Edge and Randy Orton, the latter stepped into the arena as the longest-reigning Intercontinental Champion of the past seven years.

WWE Vengeance '04 Review - Randy Orton vs. Edge

If you’re curious, the last person to hold the title longer than Orton was The Rock, who captured the gold on a December 1997 episode of Raw and held it for 265 days. 

He eventually lost it to Triple H at Summerslam 1998 in a ladder match that remains one of my all-time favorites.

In many ways, this match reminded me of that Summerslam .

Not so much in the actual wrestling itself, but in the fact that it featured two young and popular stars who were climbing the ranks en route to a memorable Hall of Fame-worthy run at the top of the card

Tonight, Orton at first looked to be the more popular of the two as the audience cheered him on with chants of “Let’s go Orton!” chants.

In a brilliant move, The Legend Killer admonished the crowd for rooting for him, insisting he didn’t need their help.

It was a smart gesture that worked.

As he continued his lengthy beat down of Edge, the chants quickly turned to “Orton Sucks!” 

WWE Vengeance 2004 Review - Randy Orton puts a hurt on Edge

They then changed again to “Boring! Boring!” as the match grew ever more stagnant with every second that the champion wore down his opponent with a really long chinlock.

Taking the hint, the pair returned to their feet and picked up the pace, delivering a thrilling third act with missed finishers and dramatic near falls aplenty.

It was Edge who managed to land his finisher first, taking down the champ with a powerful spear and pinning him to capture his fifth Intercontinental Championship.
Your Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Edge

The post-match saw a dumbfounded Orton slowly making his way backstage as the crowd serenaded him with that old Steam classic:

WWE Women’s Championship Number One Contender’s Match
Victoria vs. Molly Holly

These two had last met at Wrestlemania 20, where Molly Holly had her head shaved after losing to Victoria.

WWE Vengeance '04 - Victoria vs. Molly Holly

Still riding that gimmick, Holly marched to the ring with a very obvious blonde wig strapped around her head.

She and Victoria were undoubtedly two of the top three or four women wrestlers in WWE at the time. So it was no surprise that this match turned out to be relatively good. 

Though it didn’t last long, it was a solid effort that ended when Victoria battered her rival to the ground and pinned her.
Your Winner: Victoria (earns a shot at the women’s title)

Up next, we got a lengthy video package for our main event.

Proving that WWE had overdone it with the Eugene character, the video focused entirely on his relationship with Chris Benoit and Triple H.

I know the guy was popular, but wouldn’t it have made more sense to show us some real animosity between the champion and challenger?

I certainly think so. It would have achieved much more than this video, which only made you sit back and wait for Eugene’s inevitable run-in rather than engage in the match itself.

Now that it was obvious we’d see Eugene, it was also obvious that nobody would win the match until he got involved, so why care?

I’ll tell you why, because I’ve got a review to finish and this is the kind of annoying stuff
I have to sit through to do that.

It wouldn’t be so bad if there weren’t 37+ minutes left on the clock as The Game made his entrance.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship 
WWE World Heavyweight Champion Chris Benoit vs. Triple H

Sure enough, as good as Benoit and Helmsley were in their respective roles, this match was in serious danger of outstaying its welcome as it dragged on for minutes at a time.

WWE Vengeance 2004 Review - Triple H vs. Chris Benoit

Eventually, Benoit dove through the ropes, planting his opponent with a flying headbutt and earning a “Holy sh*t!” chant from the audience.

The two played dead on the outside for a while before returning to the ring where The Game accidentally bumped the official.

Covering The Crippler, Hunter yelled out for Eugene, who finally made his inevitable appearance.

It was at this point that the match finally became genuinely exciting as poor Eugene couldn’t decide who to help out and ended up pissing off both of them.

In the end, he and Benoit fought for control of a chair. Benoit let go and Eugene smacked Triple H in the face with it.

The referee regained just enough consciousness to count the fall, and that was that.
Your Winner and Still World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Benoit 

Talk about over-exposure WWE Vengeance 2004. For all intents and purposes might as well have been called “The Eugene Show.”

From the bottom of the card to the top, Nick Dinsmore’s character was all over this one. Only the Batista/Jericho, Kane/Hardy, and women's matches didn't involve him in some fashion. 

He was so omnipresent here that, by the final bell of the evening rang, I found myself absolutely sick of him.

I have a tendency to be a WWE apologist at times, but even I have to admit that this was proof that the company had a terrible habit of taking a good thing and running it into the ground.

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