March 25, 2003
Raw Report: The Rock Unplugged
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
With respect to Yogi Berra, it really is deja vu all over again. It almost seems like it's 2001 again, what with Stone Cold and The Rock on a collision course along the road to WrestleMania, Limp Bizkit getting set to perform and Slam! Wrestling covering all the action. This new but strangely familar era gets underway tonight with wrestling and a Rock Concert. It's Raw, live from Sacramento, California.
The show kicks off on a patriotic note as Lillian Garcia belts out the U.S. national anthem. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you your American Idol 2! Ah well, a guy can dream, can't he? Thunderous "USA" chants erupt from the crowd.
Breaking glass signals the arrival of Stone Cold Steve Austin. It turns out that a match is scheduled and the Rattlesnake is not supposed to be out there, but he doesn't much care. Instead, Austin takes us through a history lesson from last week, when The Rock gave him a Stunner and a Rock Bottom. He doesn't want to leave until The Rock comes out and sings him a song, but as I said before, there is a match scheduled, a fact reinforced when Test's music hits.
Match 1 - Test vs. Lance Storm
Accompanied by Stacy, Test tries something that's proved futile every time it's been tried in the past: he tries to reason with Austin. He gets a Stunner for his trouble, and Storm runs down to try to take advantage to get a quick pin. Imagine his surprise when it's Austin who makes the two count, then gives him the finger and a Stunner of his own. Match over, Autin style.
Eric Bischoff makes his entrance, and he's not alone. About a dozen of Sacramento's finest flank him as he reveals that he's got a restraining order stating that Austin must leave the arena or face mandatory arrest. Austin slowly leaves the ring and makes his way up the ramp, seemingly considering attacking Bischoff anyway before sensibly headed for the back. With that matter settled for now, Bischoff looks forward to tonight's Rock Concert. Speaking of The Rock, he just happens to be tuning his guitar in the back as Austin and the cops pass by. And wouldn't you know it, he just can't help but tease Stone Cold with a little prison ditty.
This Miller Lite catfight girl at WrestleMania thing is dumb. No, it's stupid. Dumb! Stupid! (Sounds of scuffling at the computer keyboard...)
Match 2 - Trish Stratus and Jeff Hardy vs. Victoria and Steven Richards
Hardy gets the upper hand early and forces Richards to tag out, and Victoria is unable to goad Jeff into attacking her. Victoria hits Trish with a spinning side slam for two; Stratus responds with her handstand move in the corner. The end comes shortly after when Trish springboards off Richards on the ropes right into the Stratusfaction for the pin. The victorious faces look like they might celebrate the win with a kiss on the ramp, but Jazz pops out to put an end to that, even getting in a shot at Victoria in the process.
Bischoff's bragging on his cell phone is interrupted by Coach. Apparently security has an emergency and is asking for the general manager. This couldn't have anything to do with that Austin character, eh? Meanwhile, Goldust is checking out Torrie Wilson's Playboy spread when Booker T walks in. The Bizarre One tells his buddy how proud he is that he'll be challenging Triple H at WrestleMania. Unfortunately, it takes about five minutes because of Goldie's tedious Tourette's gimmick. Let's just put a stop to this. Please.
It turns out Stone Cold hasn't gone anywhere, choosing to bide his time in his truck outside the arena. Bischoff persuades Coach to go outside and tell Austin to leave, threatening his job if he doesn't. When you put it that way...
Match 3 - Scott Steiner vs. Christian
Big Poppa Pump leads off with an elbowdrop and some push-ups, then presses Christian overhead several times before dropping him. Both men exchange near falls before Christian guillotines Steiner on the top rope and goes up top. Steiner follows him up and delivers a second rope Samoan drop, covering to get the three count. In case you didn't know it, BPP wants you to know that he's your hook up.
Outside, Coach delivers Bischoff's message to Stone Cold. and he'll be leaving now if it's alright with you.
Chief Morley promises Terri a big announcement and here it is: because of William Regal's illness, the WWE has suddenly remembered the oft-forgotten rule that titles must be defended at least once every 30 days. Regal and Storm are stripped of the tag belts, but Morley gives them to Storm and himself. What about a title shot at WrestleMania? That's what Rob Van Dam and Kane want to know, with RVD going so far as to question Morley's testicular fortitude when he declines. It's Kane that actually comes up with the perfect solution, as he and his partner will take on the Dudley Boyz in a No. 1 Contenders Match tonight.
Match 4 - Triple H and Ric Flair vs. Goldust and Booker T
Goldie pairs off against Flair, then the two world title combatants work against each other. Flair tags back in when the momentum swings against the heels, leading to a huge exchange of chops. The Nature Boy turns to his bag of tricks and takes advantage of Booker on the outside as we head to a commercial break. And we're back! We find Booker in the throes of the Figure Four, which he quickly turns against Flair. Chops are exchanged before Goldust tags in and proceeds to clean house. Triple H takes him to the floor and makes him taste the steps; Flair follows with a low blow and a choke. The heels get a couple of quick two counts as Goldust makes it to safety, but the ref doesn't see the tag. The second time's the charm as Booker gets in and launches a flurry of kicks. Everyone hits the floor then spills back into the ring, and a couple of reversals later, Booker drops a scissor kick on Helmsley and heads to WrestleMania with momentum.
Obviously not pleased about his loss (or maybe just upset that he actually did a job), Triple H blows off Flair's pep talk. Back in the ring, we get a long segment that sees Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels face to face. Jericho remembers how much he wanted to be like HBK when he was younger, producing video and pictures to prove his point. But that's over now, as Jericho is concentrating on being the first Jericho instead of the next Michaels, and he can't wait to prove his superiority at WrestleMania. Michaels gets smacked in the face for not looking at Jericho but quickly responds with a hard slap of his own. Both men smile as they stare each other down.
The Rock has a great idea, which worries Bischoff since the last two "great ideas" hatched by the Hollywood heel ended with the GM on the wrong side of a beating. No such worries tonight, though. The Rock simply wants Bischoff to put speakers outside the arena so Austin doesn't miss out on The Rock Concert. Bischoff smiles weakly and reluctantly consents. A rundown of the entire 'Mania card leads into another word from our sponsors.
Match 5 - RVD and Kane vs. Dudley Boyz - No. 1 Contenders Match
All four men brawl before the match settles into Kane versus Bubba. D-Von gets Rolling Thunder from Van Dam, but responds with a pretty nice move of his own when he yanks RVD off the top rope for a jumping neckbreaker. RVD powers out of the cover, hits his step-over kick and makes a tag. Kane hits a backdrop and a slam for a near fall, then goes up top but misses his jumping lariat. The Dudleyz flapjack Kane before RVD counterattacks; Bubba hits a hiptoss into a brainbuster and Van Dam nails a jumping kick. Morley gets on the apron to distract the ref, a plan that backfires when Storm hits D-Von with a kick. The other heels are knocked to the outside, leading to a chokeslam and Five Star Frog Splash and a face victory.
Speakers are indeed set up for Austin's listening pleasure. That causes the Rattlesnake to get out his cell and place a call to someone.
Finally, it's time for An Evening with The Rock. The crowd turns from boos to cheers as Rocky claims the best part of visiting Sacramento will be leaving. Naturally, he kicks off his set with his stunning ode to the Lakers' superiority over the Kings, "Leaving Sacramento." He then whips into two songs for Austin, interpolating Elvis on "Ain't Nothing but a Redneck" and Willie Nelson on "Whip Your Ass Again." And what Rock playlist would be complete without that tribute to the Chairman of the Board? Of course, I'm talking about "Rock's Way." Look for the mp3's to be available on the internet right after the show.
Any thoughts of an encore are interrupted as an ambulance rushes into the arena with Austin's truck right behind. Police come down the ramp to assist the movie star, but it's not Austin at the wheel: it's The Hurricane. Laughing, The Rock instructs the cops to arrest the "Hamburgler." Just as things start to settle down, Austin emerges from under a tarp in the back of his truck and the fight is on. Rock takes a beating then takes a powder, but he drops his precious Willie Nelson-signed guitar during the melee. Stone Cold tries unsuccessfully to lure his foe back to the ring, then satisfies himself by smashing the guitar with his size 13 boot. Yes folks, the road to WrestleMania 19 is paved with guitar splinters this year.
But wait, there's more. Bonus coverage from this past week's Smackdown show what many of us here in the U.S. missed due to coverage of the conflict in Iraq. And frankly, it wasn't much. Vince McMahon ambushed Hulk Hogan at their contract signing with repeated chair shots, busting open the Hulkster and forcing The Immortal to sign the contract with his own blood. Brock Lesnar fell victim to a similar ambush by the Brothers Angle. Really, the faces need to get a seminar together to teach their own to prevent this sort of thing.
Since this is my only forum in which to do so, I'd like to take this opportunity to wish safety to all U.S. troops in Iraq. I hope all Americans, regardless of their feelings on the conflict, keep you in their thoughts and prayers during the coming weeks. And that's as serious as I'll ever get. Be sure to catch the debut of new Slam! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer this Friday, then all the WrestleMania goodies leading up to the big day. I'll be back in seven days with the 'Mania fallout and... Goldberg? See you then, and oh yeah - we're back!