They said he was too young. They said he lacked experience. They said that Shelton Benjamin never had a chance. But on his very first night in his very first match on RAW, Shelton Benjamin not only stunned his Evolution detractors ... he left them gasping in awe when he defeated Triple H's shoulders to the mat. The victory was a huge boost to Benjamin's career.
One thing did seem to go Triple H's way, however, when he was added to the World Heavyweight Championship Match at Backlash. The previously announced match between Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels was now a Final Encounter Triple Threat Match between the three participants in the WrestleMania main event.
Amazingly, the night could have been far worse for Evolution. Earlier in the evening, the new World Tag Team Champions—Batista & Ric Flair—defended their Championship against Benoit & Michaels. While the weeks leading up to WrestleMania brought tension and strife between Michaels & Benoit when they teamed together, it seemed as if it was a different story this time around. Michaels & Benoit worked brilliantly together and seemed to score the pinfall to win the World Tag Team Championship. As they celebrated an upset win of their own, guest referee Johnny Nitro ruled that Flair, who had been defeated, was not the legal man in the ring and the match was ordered to continue. The emotions of the reversal were too much for Michaels & Benoit to handle and within minutes they were disqualified for punching Nitro.
RAW also saw several other developments regarding the upcoming Backlash pay-per-view event. First, the much anticipated one on one match between Mick Foley and Randy Orton was finally set to take place, and it seemws as if the match would be on Foley's terms. Not only wias the Intercontinental Championship on the line, but Evolution would be banned from ringside and the match would have Hardcore/Street Fight Rules. Also, thanks to his attack on Eric Bischoff last week, Edge was forced to face Kane at Backlash. Finally, Chris Jericho—after gaining a measure of verbal revenge on Trish Stratus during the Highlight Reel—was scheduled to have a WrestleMania rematch with Christian.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Nidia defeated Molly Holly (2:47)
- Rhyno defeated Lance Storm (0:43)
- Batista & Ric Flair (c) defeated Chris Benoit & Shawn Michaels by DQ to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship (With special referee: Johnny Nitro) (15:26)
- Tajiri defeated Kane by Count Out in a No Disqualification Match (1:50)
- Shelton Benjamin defeated Triple H (w/ Ric Flair) (19:56)