This is the make-up show from the Chris Benoit tribute. The show started with Triple H’s "King of Kings" music to a big reception. The music kept playing with no sign of Triple H, then King Booker walked out with Sharmell. Booker asked the fans if they were expecting someone else. He then said there is only one king in WWE and he is hereby stripping Triple H of any king references. Booker, done with Hunter, turned to Jerry Lawler at the announce table and asked Lawler to remove "King" from his name. Lawler said he respects Booker, but he’s been a king for over 30 years, so he doesn’t see why they can’t co-exist. Booker said a kingdom cannot be split down the middle and there is only one king, himself and not Hunter or Lawler. Booker said they just need to get this cleared up so they can get on with their business. Lawler said he can’t control what the fans or Jim Ross calls him, but if it means that much to him, he won’t call himself The King anymore on the show. Booker thanked Lawler for his kind gesture, then he asked Lawler for one more gesture: kiss his ring. Booker extended his hand and Lawler got up from his seat. "I’m not going to kiss your ring," Lawler said to a big pop. Booker then walked around the announce table and stared down Lawler. "I’m not asking you to kiss my ring, Jerry. I’m ordering you to kiss my ring," Booker said. Lawler answered with an emphatic No. After a pause and a "Jerry" chant, Booker smashed Lawler beneath the jaw with the microphone. They brawled, then Lawler landed a right hand blow to knock Booker’s cape off. Officials stormed ringside and kept both men away from each other. Booker screamed at Lawler, "Your as sis mine!" as he backed up the entrance ramp. Nice segment to start the show.
Ric Flair was interviewed in a pre-tape about Cena vs. Lashley at the Bash on Sunday. He picked Cena despite Lashley being young, strong, and motivated. He said he sees Cena equally strong, equally motivated, and a guy who wants to have the word "great" as part of his name. Flair said the experience comes down to Cena.
Back live, Ross and Lawler talked about the opening segment. Lawler said he’s just out here to do his job, but he’s going to fight when someone disrespects him. They showed a video package on Umaga squashing Santino Marella last week to retain the IC Title.
Center ring, Lillian Garcia introduced a four-way elimination match to determine who gets the IC Title match against Umaga at the Bash. Jeff Hardy came out first to a superstar pop. Shelton came out with Haas, then Santino and William Regal brought up the rear sporting an unorthodox ring jacket.
1 — JEFF HARDY vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN (w/Charlie Haas) vs. SANTINO MARELLA vs. WILLIAM REGAL — Four-way elimination #1 Contender match
Shelton didn’t waste any time taking Jeff over the top rope to the floor. Regal and Santino fought to the outside when Santino applied an arm bar, then Shelton and Hardy returned to the ring. The action broke down and everyone went for quick pin attempts in the elimination match. From the blindside, Regal ran over Santino with a high knee to the face before eliminating him. *Santino eliminated by Regal in 3:00.* The crowd came to life with a "Hardy" chant as he went to work on Regal. Shelton then caught Hardy in the corner with the electric chair before they cut to a break.
They returned with Regal and Shelton trying to double-team Hardy. Regal extended a presumably honorable left hand for a handshake, but Shelton ignored the gesture and Regal nailed him from behind. Regal and Shelton then butted heads, giving Hardy an opportunity to make a comeback. Hardy suddenly hit the Twist of Fate on Regal and made the pin. *Regal eliminated by Hardy in 10:00.* The fans screamed when they saw Shelton up top and Shelton came down on Hardy with the Blockbuster for a close nearfall. Shelton sent Hardy to the ropes, but Hardy ran up top with the Whisper in the Wind. He then knocked Shelton to the outside and hit a plancha. Back in the ring, Hardy went for the Swanton Bomb, but Shelton moved and he suddenly made a cover on Hardy for another close nearfall. Shelton went for a powerbomb, but Hardy rolled through and bridge pinned Shelton for the win.
WINNER: Hardy in 13:00 to become #1 Contender to the IC Title. Again, it’s Hardy vs. Umaga for the IC Title. Nice final five minutes after the commercial break with Hardy in jeopardy before hitting trademark moves. Crowd wasn’t into the heel vs. heel action early on. (**1/4)
They showed footage of World Hvt. champion Edge discussing Cena vs. Lashley at the Bash. Edge said he doesn’t have any history with Lashley, but he has a very long history with Cena. "I can’t stand the man," he said. Edge said he respects him, though, for taking him to the limit. Edge said he thinks the other champ (Cena) will retain the belt.
Backstage, Todd Grisham interviewed Dusty Rhodes about Cody Rhodes slapping him on Raw last week. Orton said he’s going to end Cody’s career tonight before it even got started. He talked about the legends he’s taken out, including ending RVD and HBK’s careers. Orton told Cody to bring his dad to the ring so he can witness what’s going to happen to him at the Bash.
Backstage, Maria checked on Santino. He complained about losing once again and every time he loses, he feels like a fraud. Santino said he wants to quit so he can spend more time with Maria. He said if it wasn’t for Maria, he probably wouldn’t be here. Santino told Maria to come spend the night with him tonight and he would make her pancakes in the morning. Intriguing.
Batista talked about Cena vs. Lashley on a video package. He said it’s a tough prediction to make. Batista said Lashley’s technical skill and pure athleticism is tremendous, while Cena’s immeasurable qualities of heart and determination give him an edge. He said the fans are the winners because it’s going to be a great match, but if he had to pick one guy, he’d pick Lashley.
They showed a close-up of Snitsky’s bald head. He said as much as he likes winning matches, he likes hurting people just as much. Snitsky said the pain his opponents feel is his pleasure. I feel sick after looking at his yellow teeth.
2 — SNITSKY vs. VAL VENIS
Snitsky drove Venis to the corner early on and worked on the lower back with forearm blows. Snitsky with the pump handle slam for the win. After the match, Snitsky gave Venis a powerslam for good measure.
WINNER: Snitsky in 1:00. Squash. We’ve seen it a hundred times. (n/a)
Backstage, Grisham interviewed Cody Rhodes about his first-ever Raw match. He asked why he accepted Orton’s challenge. Cody said he’s proud of his dad and would never disrespect his father like Orton has. He said he plans on making a good impression tonight. Dusty walked into the shot after Cody finished and gave him an encouraging hug.
Tomorrow night on ECW, Johnny Nitro and C.M. Punk do something.
Ross plugged the Cena vs. Lashley face-off tonight.
In the ring, Lawler talked about the Texas bullrope match between Dusty Rhodes and Randy Orton at the Bash. He demonstrated how the match works. After Lawler finished his bit, Randy Orton’s music hit and he walked out for the match with Cody. Thumbs up to the lighting crew for Orton’s entrance. Cody Rhodes then came out with Dusty to some generic Southern rock music.
3 — RANDY ORTON vs. CODY RHODES (w/Dusty Rhodes)
The bell sounded and neither man made a move for a lock-up. Orton then talked trash to Dusty, who stood ringside. Orton met Cody with a right elbow smash, before running him over with a hard clothesline. Orton then talked more trash to Dusty before dumping Cody on the floor. Orton followed out and stared down Dusty before Cody surprised him with a clothesline to get him back in the ring. Cody then missed with a cross body block and Orton began his methodical attack.
Cody blocked a slap with a right hand blow, but ran into a powerslam off the ropes. Orton then dropped Cody with a back body drop and stomped him. Orton talked more trash to Dusty, then he snapped off a suplex on Cody. Orton applied a hard rear chinlock as Dusty removed his jacket ringside. He continued to pound on Cody with right hand blows and forearms before Cody fought back with left hand jabs. Cody then went up top and waited for Orton to turn around for a missile dropkick, resulting in a close nearfall. Cody left himself vulnerable after scooping up Orton and Orton dropped him with an inverted backbreaker. Orton then stalked Cody for the RKO and he dropped Cody in center ring. He made the cover for the win.
After the match, Dusty slipped into the ring to check on Cody. Orton began to leave the ring, but he stepped back into the ring. Orton ran at Dusty, but Dusty stopped him short by taking a step forward and Orton stumbled backward. Dusty told Orton to come get some, but Orton slipped out of the ring to fight another day: Sunday.
WINNER: Orton in 7:00. Slow-paced match, but the story of Cody’s first match created intrigue to see what would happen. Nice story between Dusty and Orton going into the Bash. (*1/2)
Steve Austin talked about Cena vs. Lashley at the Bash. He said it’s a high-profile power match and he gives the nod to Lashley in the power department. Austin said he’s surprised Lashley hasn’t integrated more of his amateur ability into his wrestling. He said Cena is more experienced in big-match situations. Experience to the champ, and the 1-2-3 goes to Cena.
They recapped Orton defeating Cody in the previous match. They showed footage from during the break of Dusty embracing Cody once he reached his feet.
Melina and Beth Phoenix came out for a singles match featuring Melina. They showed footage from last week when Candice Michelle scored a pinfall in a tag match. Mickie James then came out alone for her entrance. Candice Michelle followed out with the Women’s Title in hand.
4 — MELINA (w/Beth Phoenix) vs. MICKIE JAMES (w/Candice Michelle)
Mickie went for the victory roll in the opening seconds, as Melina was distracted by Candice’s presence ringside. Melina and Mickie exchanged control, then Mickie was distracted by Beth’s presence ringside. That allowed Melina to catch her in the gut with a dropkick. Mickie made a comeback with flying forearm blows, then slammed her down to the mat by the hair. Mickie then caught Melina in the corner with a double leg scissors. Beth tripped Melina from behind, allowing Melina to catch her from behind with a kick to the back. Melina then finished Mickie with the standing guillotine leg drop for the win. After the match, Candice checked on Mickie as Melina and Beth stared into the ring from the stage.
WINNER: Melina in 4:00. Competitive match. Passable action to set up Candice vs. Mickie at the Bash. (*)
They aired the Smackdown Rebound on Edge’s Mardi Gras party that was crashed by Kane. They plugged a major announcement by Edge concerning the World Title on Smackdown this week.
Backstage, Jim Duggan kissed an American flag before William Regal stepped in. Regal said Duggan’s such an institution that The Coach wants to make a bronze replica of Duggan’s 2×4. Duggan wouldn’t part with his wood, so Regal begged for Duggan to put his massive piece of wood in his hands. This turned wrong very quickly, so Ron Simmons stepped in to clarify the situation with a "Damn!"
Mick Foley did an interview on Cena vs. Lashley. He said you would think he wouldn’t bet against Cena after Cena pinned him at the last PPV, but the odds say Cena has to lose eventually. He said Lashley is in a great position to take the belt away from Cena, not just because of the tools, but because he’s mad and determined. Foley picked Lashley at the Bash…ley.
Tomorrow night on ECW, champion Johnny Nitro has an ECW-changing press conference and C.M. Punk faces Marcus Cor Von.
Ross and Lawler plugged the Cena vs. Lashley face-off live tonight. Carlito then came out for a match as they showed footage of The Sandman caning Carlito and Regal last week. Sandman made his ring entrance and drank beer with the fans. Sandman must have missed the meeting.
5 — CARLITO vs. THE SANDMAN
Lawler name-dropped Sanjaya for other people with crazy hair on TV recently. Carlito nailed Sandman with left hand blows early on to open up Sandman’s already-bloody forehead from his ring entrance. Sandman came back with a scoop slam, then he went up top, but William Regal hit the ring and nailed Sandman with blows. DQ was the decision, then Carlito and Regal nailed Sandman with blows. Duggan’s music hit and he made the save with his "massive piece of wood". Lawler’s words, not mine. Regal and Carlito bailed as Duggan threatened them with his blunt instrument. Sandman then held up his Singapore Cane as Duggan helped him to his feet.
WINNER: Sandman via DQ in 3:00. Lame and sophomoric, but the Duggan/Sandman Phalic Symbol team worked tonight. (1/2*)
JBL commented on Cena vs. Lashley. He talked about his history of losing the World Title to Cena, then the U.S. Title to Lashley. JBL said that in an even match-up, you go with the guy with experience. He picked Cena.
They aired a video on Super Crazy surprising Mr. Kennedy with a pin two weeks ago in a Beat the Clock match. Kennedy then walked out to the ring dressed to wrestle. They showed footage from last week when Kennedy took out his frustrations on Crazy backstage. In the ring, Kennedy took the house mic and said that footage was pretty cool. He announced his weight, hometown, and name. And his name again. Super Crazy then came out for a one-on-one match.
6 — SUPER CRAZY vs. MR. KENNEDY
Crazy ran over Kennedy with a rolling body block before Kennedy caught him with a forearm blow to the face. Kennedy then nailed Crazy in the face with a charging knee smash for a nearfall. He continued to work on Crazy’s face as he showed some ring rust. Crazy then got his knees up to block a splash off the ropes and he fired up. Crazy with kicks in the corner before successive clothesline blows. He then hit a springboard moonsault from the bottom turnbuckle, then a moonsault from the second rope. He went for a top rope moonsault, but Kennedy shoved him down on the top turnbuckle. Kennedy followed up top and hit a reverse superplex that drew oos and aahs from the crowd. He made the pin for the win.
WINNER: Kennedy in 5:00. Sloppy offense from Kennedy early on. Impressive finishing move from Kennedy after Crazy built momentum. (3/4*)
Ringside, Ross and Lawler talked about the Bash PPV on Sunday. They broke down the card.
They showed a split screen of Cena and Lashley walking backstage toward the ring.
[Commercial Break. There hasn’t been this much Jennifer Lopez on TV in three or four years.]
They showed a video package on Triple H. They did a computer-generated machines bit where the voice-over man said can rebuild Triple H and make him better than he was before. Like the recent AOL 9.0 ads that they can make him bigger, faster, and stronger.
Ringside, The Coach was at a podium while two podiums were in the ring for Cena and Lashley. Coach introduced Lashley first. Cena came out last to a monster pop with the kids screaming and nearly in tears.
[Q9 — over-run]
Cena’s music stopped and Lashley simply stood and stared a hole in Cena’s eyes. Lashley went to his podium while Cena approached his podium. Coach said he would ask questions. He introduced footage from two weeks ago when Lashley speared Cena after they signed a WWE Title contract. Lashley smiled, then Cena addressed Lashley after Coach asked if he feels that his title run will end on Sunday. Cena took the mic and kissed Coach’s ass on the question. He said he thinks his title run is going to end. He fake cried about the spear and said there’s just no way he can win the match. He ended the odd sarcastic crying and told Coach that was the worst question in history. Cena got serious and addressed Lashley. He said he’s stood toe-to-toe with everyone and he’s never backed down. Underdog promo. Coach asked Lashley about what message he was trying to send when he speared Cena. He said he’s not going to answer questions because he’s more about action than talk. Obviously. Lashley told Cena to talk all he wants, but he’ll be ready to fight. Coach interrupted and screamed that it’s his face-off and they will take the segment seriously.
Lashley then left the ring and chased down Coach on the stage. Coach said that if Lashley places one hand on him, he loses the title match. Cena stopped Lashley and said his aggression will be his ultimate downfall. He told Lashley not to be concerned with Coach; be concerned with the greatest opportunity in your life. Cena held up the belt and said if Lashley doesn’t focus, he’ll exit – just like tonight – without a WWE championship. Referees came on stage and told Lashley to save it for Sunday. Lashley then backed up the entrance ramp as Cena stood his ground in the ring. After Lashley left, Cena listed Lashley’s accomplishments and accolades. Cena said he would put all those accomplishments to the test at the Bash. No claim of victory; just a promise to do his best. Lashley then re-emerged and met Cena on the entrance ramp. They had the face-to-face image, then Lashley shoved Cena in the face. Cena shoved back, then referees separated both men. Cena smirked and said, "You get my best." Weird segment with a good final moment, but getting there was painful at times.