After a thrilling WrestleMania from Safeco Field, the WWE scene shifts ever so slightly to another Seattle venue. The Rock is so happy that he finally beat Stone Cold Steve Austin in a WrestleMania match that he's treating all of us to Rock Appreciation Night. Others, like Booker T and Chris Jericho, aren't likely to be in such a jovial mood. And amidst all of that drama, a chant can be heard: Goldberg. It's Raw, live from Key Arena.
In the distant past, when the ratings and buyrates were rosy, all we got the day after a pay-per-view were still shots. Tonight we get a full-out video recap of WrestleMania to lead off the show. Thankfully, shots of the Coach getting depantsed are omitted. In the back, The Rock brushes off the makeup guy as he gets psyched for Rock Appreciation Night. On second thought, maybe The People's Pimple could use just a dab.
As always, the breaking glass brings the Texas Rattlesnake front and center. It's difficult for Austin to admit it, but The Rock was the better man on Sunday night. But he's philosophical about it, so much so that he invites the People's Champ to come to the ring to shake hands. Looks like he'll have to be content with Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff instead. Bischoff sees right through Austin's transparent attempt to bait The Rock and also has a startling surprise. It seems Austin's doctor has declared his neck injury to be worse than originally thought - potentially career-threatening, in fact. To protect Austin and the company, Bischoff has no choice. He has to fire Austin, and the FedEx package containing the termination papers is already on its way to Texas. Art imitating life anyone?
Match 1 - Triple H vs. The Hurricane
Notably absent from WrestleMania, the WWE's super hero gets a chance to get some shine tonight. There's a good bit right off the bat when Hurricane gives one of his masks to a kid in the front row, then Flair snatches it from the child and stomps on it. You see folks, he's a heel. When the match begins, it's like we've entered Bizarro World. There's Hurricane with a shining wizard for a two count. There's Hurricane with a tornado DDT for another near-fall. Chokeslam for two, high cross body for two... what in the name of Hamburglar is going on? Hurricane even tries a Pedigree, but The Game reverses it into a catapult. Finally a missed top rope neckbreaker gives the world champ the opening he needs to connect with a Pedigree and go over. Again.
They say breaking up is hard to do, but that's what Kane is thinking after he and Rob Van Dam got stuck on Heat on Sunday. Actually, it's because they lost, but RVD has already talked to Chief Morley about a rematch tonight with no outside interference. Sure, he had to bargain a little, but the only thing he gave in return was the stipulation that the faces will have to join the Bischoff administration if they lose. Kane is beside himself, which leads to this immortal line from RVD, "Dude, we're gonna win."
Match 2 - Scott Steiner vs. Christopher Nowinski
The Harvard man apologizes for the facemask he's wearing and asks Freakzilla not to hit him in the face and mess up 30 thousand dollars of his doctor's work. As expected, Steiner declines. Nowinski gets in some early offense but Steiner responds by firing off suplexes. The mask comes up, the face gets hit and the Steiner Recliner gets the submission. And that's that.
Terri meekly asks Stone Cold if Bischoff is speaking the truth. The bottom line is that Austin's neck sucks and he's fired. After a brief commercial break, a Rock Appreciation Night Moment takes us through a medley of some of Rocky's memorable songs. J.R. just can't get over the fact that Bischoff actually fired Austin, and he's so upset that The King actually seems a little scared.
The Dudley Boyz have a little heart to heart about the tag team match from Sunday night and their role in it. Bubba just about has D-Von swayed to his way of thinking when Chief Morley and Lance Storm arrive with some interesting news. The Dudleyz will be joining the title match tonight to make it a three-team elimination match, but in name only. Once Kane and RVD are eliminated, Morley fully expects the Boyz to lay down for the champs. Somehow I just don't see that happening. In the back, Booker T is getting his injured knee taped up when he gets an unwelcome visitor in the form of Ric Flair. Book makes it painfully clear that the Nature Boy can expect serious bodily harm if he ever drops by to taunt him again.
Match 3 - Rosie vs. Maven
Um, no thank you. Rosie just can't work too well and Maven ends this mercifully quick with a sunset flip.
Now we head behind the scenes with the King as he gets to be Playboy's celebrity photographer for a day. As he gleefully admits, you could not find a more willing participant.
Match 4 - Chris Jericho vs. Booker T
Before the fireworks start, Jericho has something to say to Shawn Michaels. He thanks HBK for a classic match but also feels he deserves a thank you in return. After all, Jericho deserved to win that match, and all people will remember is that Michaels was writhing in pain in the ring while the Highlight of the Night walked up the ramp triumphant. Jericho plans on taking his frustrations out on Booker, and he proves it by attacking before the bell. He moves on to working over Booker's injured leg; Booker responds with a small package for two. Jericho changes the momentum with a bulldog but can't connect with a Lionsault. A high kick catches Jericho square, then Flair hits the ring and the bell rings for the DQ. Triple H follows close behind, hitting a Pedigree and urging Flair to apply the Figure Four. The crowd erupts as Michaels runs in and cleans house, eyeing up Hunter for some Sweet Chin Music. Jericho puts the kibosh on that plan, locking in the Walls of Jericho while Triple H punishes Booker with J.R.'s new favourite move, the Indian deathlock.
Match 5 - Jeff Hardy vs. Steven Richards
Parading around in pink hot pants finally pays off as Richards gets a singles match on Raw. Victoria helps out too, but Stevie's best move is an armbar takedown. Trish finally arrives to neutralize the women's champ, leaving Hardy free to finish Richards with a Swanton Bomb. As my partner in crime Dale Plummer points out, Hardy is in an awkward position since he needed a girl to save him. I counter with the fact that Hardy gets to leave with Trish Stratus. I repeat, Hardy gets to leave with Trish. The defense rests.
The backstage crew gives Austin their tearful goodbyes. And then he walks up the ramp and out of the arena, out of our lives forever... or at least until next week. Another Rock Appreciation Night Moment relives various humorous insults directed at the fans and Coach.
Test discusses the new issue of Playboy with cover girl Torrie Wilson, and Stacy Kiebler almost catches him. He tries to claim the phone call was a wrong number and turns to Goldust for help. Unfortunately, Goldie's "Tourette's" betrays him and lands Test in hot water. Insert your own sarcastic comment here. Elsewhere, The Rock tries to cheer up the backstage crew by inviting them to a big party after the show. Not to go in, mind you, just to watch.
Main Event - Kane and Rob Van Dam vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm and Chief Morley - World Tag Team Title Elimination Match
The faces clear the ring immediately, then settle down to work on the brothers Dudley. RVD takes out three men with a somersault plancha and inspires Kane to hurl himself to the floor as well. The Dudleys strike with D-Von's trademark diving headbutt, but Kane rallies quickly and tags his partner back in. RVD hits a string of moves that culminates with Rolling Thunder, forcing the champs to make the save. Things look bad for our heroes when Van Dam misses a Five Star Frog Splash and Kane gets pummeled on the outside. But Bubba saves Morley from D-Von's chairshot, setting up a Van Daminator that eliminates the Dudleys. And as contractual stipulations dictate, all Kane and RVD matches must include a commercial break...
Main Event continued...
RVD escapes Storm's half crab and makes the hot tag to Kane. Morley falls victim to several near falls; Storm bails him out of a third but is countered by RVD. A low blow from the Chief and a savate kick from Storm take down Kane, but the Big Red Machine kicks out. Kane elevates both heels for a double chokeslam, bringing the crowd to its feet in anticipation. A Five Star Frog Splash pins Morley and gives us new world tag team champs.
GM Bischoff is none too pleased with the tag match, but still in a good mood overall. He tells someone on the other end of his cell phone that his biggest surprise is yet to come, and from someone whose signature is still wet on a contract. I wonder who that could be...
Finally, The Rock has come back to see all you jabronis give appreciation to the Great One. The People's Champ is sorry Austin got fired, as they did have one hell of a match at WrestleMania, and he's sure Stone Cold didn't want his last match to end with three, count 'em, three Rock Bottoms. But hey, if you're going to lose, you might as well lose to the best. The Rock tells the Seattle crowd to know its role, shut its mouth and watch the screen. A video package airs to celebrate The Rock's numerous victories and accomplishments. He's done it all, he's beaten everyone and now there's nothing left. The crowd suggests one potential opponent with a chant familiar to WCW fans (they must be reading SLAM! Wrestling), but Rocky plays it off by telling them to stop acting cool by name-dropping his accountant, Ira Goldberg. Rock announces that since there are no more mountains to climb, he's finished. But not quite yet, as the expected entrance music hits, the sparks fly and Goldberg stands at the top of the ramp. The man Canadians love to hate (well Bret Hart fans anyway, which is pretty much everyone) climbs in the ring, circling The Rock several times before grabbing a mic. As expected, he tells Rocky "you're next" before dropping him with a Spear, which is sold almost to the point of ridiculousness. The Goldberg Era has begun - let the second guessing commence!
Nick Tylwalk has been a TV reporter and utility infielder for SLAM! Wrestling since 1998. Inexplicably, he now finds himself unable to file his Raw report without first watching the CSI episode that immediately follows Raw on TNN.