Raw is War

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
January 24, 2005

Final Rumblings

Jan. 24, 2005

Randy Orton is ready for the Rumble.

The “Legend Killer” dropped Evolution’s Ric Flair with an RKO on RAW, gaining crucial momentum heading into Sunday’s huge pay-per-view. Triple H tried to soften Orton up before their big match, pulling out the referee and then going to work on Randy’s left leg. He drove the World Heavyweight Championship belt into Orton’s knee, and after a Flair Figure-Four Leglock things didn’t look good for the former Evolution protégé. But Orton’s ability to turn a match on a dime proved pivotal again. He hit his finisher, and before Flair or Triple H knew what had happened, it was all over.

The night took a twist for Evolution when both Batista and Ric Flair secured spot in the 30-man, over-the-top Royal Rumble Match. The Game wasn’t sure he wanted allies vying for a shot at his World Heavyweight Championship, but he came around with the logic that the more men in the Rumble Match, the better the odds of the title staying with Evolution at WrestleMania.

Batista qualified by overcoming monstrous odds — stopping both members of La Resistance in a Handicap Royal Rumble Qualifying Match. Evolution’s animal first put down Sylvain Grenier before hitting a thunderous spinebuster, piling Robert Conway onto Grenier’s prone body. After that, Batista was able to pick up an easy three-count.

The bigger surprise was the news that fellow Evolution member Ric Flair would also compete in the Royal Rumble Match on Jan. 30, courtesy of a request to General Manager Eric Bischoff by the Cerebral Assassin himself. Flair is no stranger to the Rumble; he won it in 1992 from starting position No. 3. Now, Triple H will have Evolution fully represented in the Royal Rumble Match in Fresno, Calif.

The RAW roster of 15 Superstars rounded out on Monday Night. Joining Batista and Flair were Muhammad Hassan, Viscera and Jonathan Coachman. Hassan won a qualifier against Val Venis; Viscera bullied Tajiri in an “Over-the-Top” Qualifying Challenge; and Jonathan Coachman was offered William Regal’s spot by Eric Bischoff out of pure spite.

For the complete list of Royal Rumble Match qualifiers, as well as Superstar interviews, click here.

Maven thought he found a backdoor into the Royal Rumble Match by challenging a current qualifier in a battle for that spot. But much to his chagrin, the two men to accept the challenge were Gene Snitsky and Kane. The two bitter rivals were bruised, beaten and slowed by last week’s devastation, and Maven tried to take advantage. In the end, Kane summoned the strength to hoist Maven for a chokeslam and get the cover. Maven will have to buy a ticket to be near the Rumble Match in Fresno.

In addition to participating in the Royal Rumble Match itself, Edge and Shawn Michaels will go at it one-on-one. The fans in attendance in Oklahoma City, Okla., got a taste of what that heated matchup will be like during a six-man tag match on RAW. HBK, Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho battled Edge, Christian and Tyson Tomko. Michaels was able to land Sweet Chin Music on the “Problem Solver,” allowing Benoit to roll Tomko up and get the win. The result that only further incited Edge’s rage heading into Sunday’s pay-per-view.

It was a special night for RAW’s own J.R. Governor Brad Henry declared it “Jim ‘J.R.’ Ross Day” in the state of Oklahoma.

Unfortunately, Evolution ruined the ceremony, berating then attacking J.R. and intimidating Stacy Keibler. Only Randy Orton intervening saved Stacy from falling victim to the Pedigree.


HBK, Chris Jericho & Chris Benoit def. Edge, Christian & Tyson Tomko

Viscera def. Tajiri (Over-the-Top Qualifying Challenge)

Batista def. La Resistance (Handicap Qualifying Match)

Muhammad Hassan def. Val Venis (Royal Rumbe Qualifier)

Kane def. Maven and Gene Snitsky (Triple Threat Match)

Randy Orton def. Ric Flair