Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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From the Vault: August 30th, 2004 Raw

Hello loyal readers! Lend me your ears… err, eyes, for a moment because this week’s “From the Vault” feature is brought to you by none other than me, Bobby! If you know just a little something about me, you know there are three things I love when it comes to my wrestling — comedy (either well written or trashy being acceptable), love interests, and Nidia… therefore I could only think of one night that combined all three of my favorite things into one. Yes, it’s technically not available on the WWE Network yet, but never fear, for one day it will be. And after that day comes, this selection won’t seem so out of the blue. However, until then, I went out and hunted down videos of every Diva segment from that very night just to be able and bring forth to you my epitome of brilliance!

The night was August 30th, 2004. Raw was coming to us live from the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California and what a night we had in store! The forced romance between Kane and upcoming Hall of Famer, Lita wasn’t yet at the moment where they stood on the same side as one another upon getting involved with (the pre-foot fetish era of) Gene Snitsky, so Lita was still being both dragged around by her fire breathing monster of a hubby AND getting insults thrown at her left and right by Women’s Champion and (then) ex-BFF, Trish Stratus.

In addition, Trish also saw tag team action this evening as she partnered up with Gail Kim to take on the duo of Victoria and Nidia. Needless to say for those of you not familiar with the storyline Victoria got involved with at the time, it was perhaps the most random thing I have ever seen (and we’ve since went through moments of Hornswoggle being both revealed as Vince McMahon‘s illegitimate son and the operator behind a laptop that booked Raw for what seemed like multiple years of torture). But I’ll explain more about it later on once we get to the match.

But oh, ladies and gentlemen… the real reason this night stays in my head is because it belonged to a certain segment that my at the time ten year old self didn’t yet realize would live on in infamy. Not sure what I’m talking about just yet?




That’s right. This is the segment of all segments when it comes to moments you would never ever ever see in today’s era of programming, but to me, that only helps to solidify its place in history as everything I ever wanted but didn’t know I needed. Being that this beautiful in ring moment involving Stacy Keibler, Christy Hemme, Carmella (not the one in NXT), (Saint) Amy Weber, and Joy Giovanni (also somewhat Maria Kanellis) fell first up when it came to the women that night, let’s delve right into the heart and soul of this “From the Vault” selection.

Of course, if you’re reading this before WWE adds vintage Raw and Smackdown episodes to the WWE Network, you may relive the moment I’m about to describe by clicking here.

Out struts Stacy Keibler with an envelope in her hand, performing her signature entrance and soon introducing the remaining competitors in the first ever televised Diva Search: Joy Giovanni, Amy Weber, Carmella DeCesare, Maria Kanellis and Christy Hemme. They’re all in bikinis and high heels because why not, as Stacy reveals the next eliminated Diva hopeful… Maria. Maria exchanges hugs with the girls in similar fashion as any reality show, but when it comes to Carmella she gives not one single care in the world and flips the girl off with the biggest pout I’ve seen since Angry Miz Girl became a thing.

After Maria walks off to the back we find out that tonights competition will be the one and only (until NXT tried to recreate it in a not as good PG type job), Diss the Diva! Because one of the qualities of being a WWE Diva is being able to speak in front of a live crowd… in that era at least. Up first is Joy! Joy starts off by poking (literally) fun at Amy’s, in her words, firm breasts, before smacking Christy Hemme right on her bottom and telling her she needs to learn how to get a good spanking. Not un-PG enough for you guys yet? Well then she gets to everyone’s favorite punching bag, Carmella.

“Carmella… you talk a lot of sh*t, but you got a gap so wide you could drive a truck right through there baby!”

Historic. She then taunts Carmella for being weak, in this for the wrong reasons, and fakes out smacking her across the face to show everyone this girl cowers in the face of danger!

We then come to my resident music lord, Amy Weber, who tells Joy right to her face the now infamous line, “You need to learn how to lick a pie!” Christy is then instructed that she needs to settle her ass down, but oh wait, because as Joy proved, the best insults come from those directed at the one and only Carmella.

“Whore! You don’t have any respect for the WWE… you know sh*t about wrestling… and guess what? Having a… (ahem, rooster) in your mouth has nothing to with wrestling, biatch!”

First of all, score for the misplaced censor.

Secondly, Stacy Keibler is clearly now wishing she had married sooner and been watching this at home instead of being right on live TV in the ring with these four, but nevertheless, she hands the microphone off to Carmella herself! Carmella claims Amy is jealous of her and was laughed at when she tried out for Playboy, before noting that Joy is proving to be such a great role model for her children by shaking her ass on live television! And in what I assume was an effort to prevent the only remaining contestant from going in on her like the first two did, she simply tells Christy that if she doesn’t win, she hopes it’s Miss TNA ring announcer herself to take the $250,000 prize.

And finally, we come to Christy Hemme, who starts off by claiming she will burn them like that of hot fire! For Joy, she asks if shaking her tata’s on TV is the only thing she can do. For Amy, she wonders if Miss Weber has been sucking on something sour because her lips resemble that of a fish.

“And Carmella… you’re a (bleep bleep)ing gutter slut!”

Feel free to play a rousing game of Mad Libs with those two bleeps and insert your own words to make the sentence all the more humorous! Of course, for my selection, I’ve chosen “Cow tipping” and have decided to pretend Carmella was so hated because she liked to wear skimpy clothes while running off to tip poor, defenseless cows during her nightly free time. Basically, she’s 2004’s own Cruella Deville (with the same initials even).

Carmella simply laughs it off, but we all know she’s pissed that Christy went for it after she issued a compliment she now can’t take back. Hemme ends the monumental segment with a split, as Stacy commends her flexibility and finds some way to plug the competition voting after the history we’ve just witnessed.

Alright you guys, I know people who like wrestling more for the wrestling side than the performance side most likely hate this segment, and yes I know this Diva search is cited as the death of women’s wrestling in WWE, but I can’t help it… it’s still something I never forget and continue to watch every few months or so when I think of it. I’m not saying this is what I want the Divas to be at all, and if it were the actual Divas of the time doing it, I’d probably not think as highly of it as I do (unless it got Nidia airtime and a future Women’s Title push).

But for a competition filled with women who were brought on to entertain charismatically, they did just that to me at least. For me, it’s now all about the shock factor of seeing things like that (aka basically everything said about Carmella) being broadcasted on live TV when we think of the era we’re in now and how if that happened today, the show would probably just cut to black, we’d never hear from any of the four women again, and the entire division would go on break for a few months as punishment even though they had nothing to do with it.

I’m not saying I want to see women act like this on TV, but it is what it is. Some fans will love it and some will hate it. I’m sure the Divas probably hated it at the time as well. For me though, I see it as a memorable moment. Was it trashy? Yes. But heck, reality shows whether you like them or hate them, get fame from being trashy. I’d much rather have seen this than see a two minute match I won’t even remember a few months down the road… and while Divas of that time were getting to put on longer matches than that, I don’t think it took away from anything at all because we still had a very solid tag bout later on in the same night. It was simply getting more women on the show, not devaluing the actual roster and removing them from TV so the Diva search contestants could take their spot and their airtime. Chances are if we didn’t get this, that 8 minutes would’ve just went to something involving the main storylines of that time anyways. So for you Joy, Amy, Christy, and yes even you, Carmella, I thank you for creating something fun and memorable that we can look back on and notice just how things have changed since.

Oh, and you ALL (minus holy messiah, Amy Weber) need to learn how to lick a pie.

Now on that note, next up we travel back to the era of everyone’s favorite forced spousal arrangement, Kane and Lita!

Again, should you be checking this out before the network has uploaded older episodes of Raw and SmackDown, join in the upcoming fun by clicking here.

Ahhh yes, before the days of Corporate Kane, we had this big bundle of sinister, psychotic, Lita obsessed joy! Here we spot him dragging her by the wrist down some sort of nicely decorated hallway as she begs for mercy. Unfortunately, Kane refuses and instead, he instructs Lita that he has another surprise in store for her soon.

As they keep walking/being pulled along, they bump into Trish Stratus (in what I feel is personally the best section of her career ever) and Tyson Tomko. Trish admires how adorable it is that Kane and Lita already resemble a married couple… in that the hubby looks to be taking out the trash. Kane looks like he’s about to snip Tyson Tomko’s sharp, pointy beard right off… but instead, he laughs it off and lets Trish know that her joke amused him. Hashtag poor Lita.

We return to the arena after a commercial break with the lovely couple making their way into the ring (Side note: I forgot how amazing this era of Kane’s theme song is once the lyrics kick in… my need for a jam session is rising). Kane grabs a microphone and lets Lita know (while caressing her chin), that she is his favorite piece of property. It turns out that Raw GM, Eric Bischoff let Kane have an open contract to face anyone he wants at Unforgiven! But even a gift as wonderful as that simply cannot top the pride on Kane’s face when he talks about Lita giving his child her womb.

Kane wants to know if Lita still misses Matt Hardy after Kane destroyed him in the one of a kind “Till Death Do Us Part” match at Summerslam, because it’s time for his surprise! He reveals that he enlisted in the Hardy family to come down and cheer her up, as a bunch of random people walk out dressed like sir Hardy himself. They are certainly a diverse cast of characters to say the least, but Lita simply doesn’t look amused. Kane introduces the Hardy family, starting off with Pat who, not gonna lie, kind of resembles a blond Heath Slater in the face. Next is Nat Hardy, sporting his finest (what I can assume is a) black wig. We follow that up with Rat and Fat Hardy, but before I can think of what they resemble, Kane attacks them as a symbol of their brother, Matt’s, fate.

Kane attempts to pose after his big handicap match win, but Lita has a microphone! She compliments his surprise to her, but reveals that she has one up her very own sleeve as well. Lita isn’t amused that Kane forgets he’s her property as well, being that marriage is 50/50 after all. His open contract match at Unforgiven? That wasn’t strictly for Kane to decide on… it was for the both of them! Without any further ado, Lita reveals that Kane’s opponent at Unforgiven is none other than Shawn Michaels! Jim Ross has flipped his lid! Lita doesn’t even need to say another word… instead, she just walks out, pregnancy and all, taunting her monstrous husband at the fact she finally managed to one up him at his own game. Boom.

Ugh, I loved Lita and Kane. It was horrible (the misery she faced I mean… not the angle itself) until they became a united front against baby-killer, Gene Snitsky, but they played off one another so well I couldn’t help but be enthralled by their entire romantic entanglement. Not to mention, those quick little backstage segments between Lita and Trish proved that you could have a fantastic women’s feud and not even need the two to be involved in matches together for months. You’d think that would be an impossible task for the WWE to do, but they did it, and they did it seamlessly.

Their wedding will forever live on in infamy, as does (to me at least), Snitsky punting a baby doll into the crowd. And of course, the culmination of Lita’s struggles throughout 2004 in her main event match with Trish Stratus for the Women’s Championship… in her hometown even… was icing on the cake. I always cite this 2004 feud between Lita and Trish as the end all be all when it comes to a women’s rivalry in the WWE. Don’t get me wrong, I have loved plenty since then (especially Trish and Mickie‘s), but I just feel like this was completely booked perfectly from start to finish.

All of the agony and digs Trish threw at Lita when she was out of the division for those months, making snide remarks and cracking jokes at her expense time and time again, it built inside Lita until she couldn’t take it anymore and she exploded with chair shots to the face at Survivor Series, before taking home the title a few weeks later. Unfortunately she was injured closely after it, but throughout the year of 2004, this was everything you could ever hope to see a women’s feud resemble, and clearly, it proves to be just as memorable in the long run. Bravo!

Finally, we come to the actual match from this evening’s events. Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to welcome the team of Trish Stratus and Gail Kim as they do battle against Victoria and Nidia. Will the Divas without a surname prove they don’t need last names to earn victories? Or will their opponents show that two (names) are better than one? And what is this random storyline I mentioned above involving Victoria?! Well, again, if this isn’t on your WWE Network right now, click right here and have a gander.

Whoa, it’s time to rock and roll, obviously because here comes Canada’s favorite export, Trish Stratus. Followed in tow by Gail Kim, Tyson Tomko and the WWE Women’s Championship, the group heads out from the back for tag team action. Their opponents for the night are none other than… Nicki Minaj! Oh crap, no, sorry guys. I just couldn’t hide the fact at how surreal it is hearing Nicki Minaj sing a wrestler’s theme song. Anyways, their opponents are Victoria and Nidia! A chest bump (but no dancing unfortunately) greets us on the ramp, as Victoria hops in the ring and stares her opponent for Unforgiven down.

The bell sounds as Nidia and Trish start things off, but Trish decides to take it upon herself to elbow Victoria down off the ring apron. She then knocks Nidia down by the hair and goes to town with some shots to the face and a kick. Tag in to Gail Kim, who pegs Nidia with a clothesline and taunts the crowd. Kim applies a beautiful leg submission, also wrenching on the throat with her own boot, but Victoria breaks it up.

Nidia tries for the tag, but Gail stops it and continues her team dominance. The crowd gets behind Nidia, realizing they are in the presence of Texan/Billed as Puerto Rican greatness, and a tag is made! … Oop. Unfortunately, the referee is too busy with Trish to notice it.

The referee forces Victoria back, as Trish and Gail look to double team Nidia, but she fights out with a two person monkey flip! Victoria now tags in and destroys both opponents, before dropping Gail with a spinning sidewalk slam! Trish tries to break a pin up, but Victoria moves and she collides with Gail before being headbutted to the outside. Talk about not being the lady to mess with (Sorry I keep making cheesy entrance theme puns… I promise I’ll learn one day), Victoria now takes Kim down with a series of clotheslines and a back body drop.

She sets up for the Savate Kick, now going for the Widows Peak after Gail countered. Unfortunately, Kim has countered again into a modified Sharpshooter! OH YES. Here we go… that storyline.

Out walks a rather muscley framed woman… well, before she stumbles and falls on the ramp. Gail Kim is clearly not here for it, as the mystery woman tries to shield her face from being seen. Nevertheless, this distraction is enough for Victoria to roll Gail up and get the win! Victoria and Nidia celebrate their strange win, as Gail, Trish and Tomko look unamused from the ring.

Well, I didn’t say everything in this era was handled perfectly. In case you’re wondering how this story ended, Victoria’s mystery woman was revealed to be Steven Richards at Unforgiven, after Tyson Tomko challenged, in his words, this “cross-dressing hermaphrodite” to a match and tore his clothes off during it to reveal the true identity.

It was kind of odd (and this is coming from someone who loves crazy Victoria and Stevie Richards together), but I still at least have to give them credit for not pulling the men’s stuff off during Trish and Victoria’s singles match. It wasn’t used to try and take the focus off the girls, as it was given its own segment/match after they were finished, and even though it didn’t come off perfectly, it never really interfered with any of their Raw matches that I remember. Instead it was simply used to set up the finish, which I can (somehow?!) respect.

All I picture nowadays is Santino resurrecting… Santina Marella (a cold chill just went up my spine) and walking out while a Divas match is still two minutes from ending, distracting the entire crowd from the action and making their matches feel second rate to comedy. I mean think about it, how much is this angle with Steven Richards remembered nowadays in comparison to Santina Marella’s Miss WrestleMania moment?

Yes, this cross dressing stuff didn’t go anywhere and somewhat didn’t fit, but at least it was quickly over and never seemed to overshadow what the Divas were doing at the time (although I wouldn’t have been opposed to it if it lead to Victoria and Stevie reuniting in the long run afterwards). Correlating it to Santina (which I know nobody but me even did, so I’m essentially blaming myself) is almost like comparing the feeling of ripping a Band-Aid off quick and easy, only feeling a small ounce of pain for a short few seconds as opposed to tearing it away slowly, making the feeling progress longer and seem worse in the end.

… Oh God, we’ve hit the point of Band-Aid similes. It’s officially time to wrap things up.

Hopefully you guys enjoyed my trip through memory lane! We saw a lot of dissing, but also some solid tag action in the long run so no matter where you stand on Diss the Diva, you can’t fault some fun ring work, right?! Until the next time I bring forth something of random proportions for one of these “From the Vault” features, I bid you good day. In fact, I do believe I have a certain Kane theme song to find and (horrendously) sing along to.

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