The No. 1 Contender to Batista’s World Heavyweight Championship was not Triple H.
Fewer than 24 hours after his brutal Last Man Standing Match at Backlash, Chris Benoit made The Game tap to the Sharpshooter in a first-round match of the single-elimination “Gold Rush Tournament.” And Benoit had a little help.
With the referee knocked out, Batista stormed the ring. He took out Ric Flair with a vicious clothesline and dropped Triple H with a spinebuster. Despite suffering though concussion-like symptoms all match long, The Crippler took advantage and cinched in one of his signature submission holds, sending Triple H into thrashing desperation. At one point, The Game seemed poised to reach the ropes and force a break, but Batista slyly pulled the rope just out of Triple H’s grasp. Batista stared into The Game’s eyes while taunting him with a tapping motion. Triple H swore under his breath and finally tapped. The revived ref called for the bell, sending the crowd into an uproar.
The Cerebral Assassin was sure he’d get another chance to win back the World Heavyweight Championship after hitting a Pedigree on Batista last night. After two monumental losses in succession, it was unclear what’s next for Evolution since Triple H was no longer champion or No. 1 Contender.
“Mr. Money in the Bank” had a drastically different experience the past two nights. After smashing a brick over the head of Benoit to ensure his victory at Backlash, Edge rallied again against Chris Jericho to make it two crucial wins in two days.
A hungry, determined Jericho took the action to Edge all match long, hitting a hurricanrana, running enziguri, springboard drop kick and flying plancha to the outside. But “Mr. Money in the Bank” again used his prized briefcase to his advantage, striking Y2J square in the head while the referee’s back was turned. While Jericho did somehow kick out of the cover that followed, Edge promptly moved to the corner to set up a spear. When he hit his finisher, the match was over.
The loss was especially disheartening for Y2J, who saw a glimmer of hope at winning the World Heavyweight Championship so soon after a crushing defeat to Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin at Backlash.
Benjamin displayed moves never before seen at Backlash, and there was another first for him on Monday night: facing “The Showstopper” Shawn Michaels. HBK was forced to cope with Benjamin’s innovative offense and pure athleticism, but Michaels showed patience and will, waiting for the right moment to hit Sweet Chin Music and collect a wild win to advance in the Gold Rush Tournament.
The ending of their match was nothing short of breathtaking. Benjamin launched himself clear across the ring springboard-style, but Michaels caught him in mid-air with Sweet Chin Music. The impact shot Benjamin to the mat — his head snapping backward from the intense impact. Either the kick itself or the fall KO’d the Intercontinental Champion, who lay motionless and HBK hooked the leg for the hard-fought pin. A bloody Michaels was disoriented following the match’s conclusion. He checked his busted-open mouth and slowly made his way from the ring. Clearly, the pace and difficulty of the contest took a severe toll on Michaels, as well.
Christian crashed Backlash and declared during a freestyle rap that after the draft lottery, he’d be world champion. The Gold Rush Tournament provided the perfect forum for Captain Charisma to make good … until he learned his first-round opponent was Kane.
Christian tried to avoid Kane’s power assault and stay on offense, but the Big Red Monster eventually caught him. What followed was a chokeslam and three-count, which even “Problem Solver” Tyson Tomko was powerless to prevent.
The semifinal brackets features Edge vs. Michaels in the renewal of a bitter rivalry and Chris Benoit vs. Kane as brute force matches up with technical ring prowess.
Following his loss to Hulk Hogan and HBK at Backlash, Muhammad Hassan lashed out an everyone around him. He reminded the Boston crowd that he still hasn’t been pinned, then blamed his loss on teammate Daivari. The shocked manager pleaded for mercy at Hassan’s feet, but the brash Hassan would have none of it. Hassan twice slapped Daivari to the mat and kicked him in the head for added emphasis. Despite the beating and humiliation, Daivari crawled his way up the ramp trailing Hassan.
More upbeat were new World Tag Team Champions The Hurricane & Rosey, who beat La Resistance for the second time in two nights.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Kane (w/ Lita) defeated Christian (w/ Tyson Tomko) in a Gold Rush Tournament Quarter Final Match (4:22)
- Viscera defeated Simon Dean (2:22)
- Shawn Michaels defeated Shelton Benjamin in a Gold Rush Tournament Quarter Final Match (14:50)
- Rosey & The Hurricane (c) defeated La Resistance (Robert Conway & Sylvain Grenier) to retain the World Tag Team Championships (3:37)
- Edge defeated Chris Jericho in a Gold Rush Tournament Quarter Final Match (8:10)
- Chris Benoit defeated Triple H in a Gold Rush Tournament Quarter Final Match (13:34)