Raw: Goldberg gets Rock-ed
NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Booker T goes for the World Heavyweight Title tonight in a rematch with Triple H. That means that six days out from Backlash, we\'re likely to find out how hard that glass ceiling can be. All this plus a possible Kliq reunion and the Rock Concert too -- make that Rock Concert 2. Raw comes to you live from the home of Goldberg, Atlanta.
Ric Flair is confused, and not just because he\'s getting to be that age. He can\'t figure out why Eric Bischoff would bring Kevin Nash back and tease the return of the Kliq, then make a six-man tag match at Backlash with Nash and Shawn Michaels on one side and Triple H on the other. To make matters worse, Bischoff has named Michaels the special referee for tonight\'s title match. The general manager tells the Nature Boy to take his frustration out on someone else.
Match 1 - Chris Jericho vs. The Hurricane
The WWE\'s resident super hero takes to the air early but soon finds himself grounded by the Walls of Jericho. Hurricane makes the ropes and turns things around with a tornado DDT. The Overcast misses its target, as does a Lionsault by Jericho. The Highlight of the Night gets caught coming off the top rope, and the crowd responds to a Hurri-chokeslam. Jericho escapes at two and grabs the ref to prevent further harm. The Walls make a return appearance, forcing Hurricane to tap out. Flair storms down to take Bischoff\'s advice literally, beating on Hurricane and locking on the Figure Four until three or four refs can intervene.
With the distinct scent of going to the well one too many times hanging in the air, The Rock arrives, anxious to perform The Rock Concert II.
Match 2 - Rodney Mack vs. \"The Man\'s\" handpicked white jobber
Theodore Long introduces a new segment tonight: the Five-Minute White Boy Challenge. The gist is that Mack will beat any white boy The Man sends down in five minutes or less. Harking back to the bygone days of Saturday afternoon wrestling on USA, the opponent is a true jobber who I do not recognize. An actual clock in the bottom left-hand corner is a nice touch, and suffice it to say that Mack wins with a running powerslam in 1:46. I\'d like to say that anyone who thinks this gimmick is compelling is not someone I\'d like to befriend.
Someone wants answers from Shawn Michaels, and that someone is named Booker T. HBK says he was as surprised as anyone that he got named special referee, but he\'d like to know a little more about the shot he took from Booker to conclude last week\'s Raw. Reminding Michaels of a superkick about a year ago, Booker figures they are even. Dig that.
Video shows Goldberg supporting the troops at Ft. McPherson. Back in the ring, The Coach proudly brings out someone we haven\'t seen in a WWE ring in quite some time: Lita. She only gets to enjoy the crowd reaction for a minute though, because Bischoff makes his way to the ring. Dismissing Coachman, Bischoff figures it will still be two months until Lita is cleared to wrestle. In the meantime, he wants to get the same kind of publicity Torrie Wilson got for Smackdown! by having Lita appear in Playboy. Setting aside what a fantastic idea that would be, the segment drags on way too long with Eric leering at Lita and demanding an advance preview in his hotel room. Lita finally tells him to go to hell, which is exactly where this show is heading. And because we can\'t have an hour of Raw without Triple H on camera, we get a pointless bit with H complaining to Flair that Michaels is the special ref.
Match 3 - Three-Minute Warning vs. Test and Scott Steiner
Chris Nowinski joins the announce team to add his insight, such as it is. 3MW works Steiner\'s back; Big Poppa Pump hits a jawbreaker but can\'t tag his partner. Jamal misses off the top rope and the tag is finally made. It should be a hot tag but with Test involved, it\'s more like a room temperature tag. He does pull off an impressive move with a pumphandle slam on Jamal, but the bloom comes right off the rose. Steiner goes to the aid of Stacy on the outside (again), then makes a blind tag to save a distracted Test. An inverted DDT gets the win for the faces.
Like you don\'t know what happens next: Test confronts Steiner about getting too friendly with his girl. Come on WWE, we don\'t have to do this. Elsewhere, Nash tells Bischoff he can\'t be manipulated and will pick only his own side.
The Rock warms up, and it almost sounds like he\'s learned a second melody. The People\'s Champ tells Terri that we can expect the most electrifying night on TV. Plus there will be a special surprise.
There\'s no turning back now - it\'s time for The Rock Concert 2. Rocky leads off with an a capella version of \"Goldberg on My Mind\" which showcases a slight lack of singing ability. Aware of the Goldberg chants ringing through the crowd, Rock says he\'ll take care of the people and bring out their hero. The music and the fireworks hit, but that\'s not Goldberg. It\'s Gillberg! A spoken word version of \"The Rock Went Down to Georgia\" has Gillberg dancing. The joke comes to an end when the actual Goldberg heads toward the ring, though The Rock summons security to stop him. Goldberg charges right through the phalanx as The Rock retreats, then he tosses the guards from the ring one by one. Gillberg foolishly attacks and is about to get his just desert when The Rock returns to the ring and hits a Rock Bottom. Goldberg sells it for about a minute, or 59 seconds longer than he sold most moves in WCW. He gives chase and the cameraman is confused, with several seconds of footage of the curtain followed by a random crowd shot. Doctor, the segment has just flatlined. Rocky heads out in a Hummer limo and Goldberg fires up his Barracuda to pursue, but the engine stalls and he can\'t get it fired back up. Goldberg is forced to give chase on foot, but The Rock outsmarts him and sneaks back into the arena.
The French Connection tells us not to be afraid. Okay. We\'re not. And I am officially protesting this show by not taking notes on the next segment. There\'s Chief Morley and the tension between the Dudleys, and RVD and Kane, and Trish and Jazz and Teddy Long and as many different feuds as we can smash into one scene. Somewhere in there Spike Dudley takes a wicked power bomb. Let\'s just move on.
It\'s hard to fathom how an excellent WrestleMania can be followed by a mediocre pay-per-view just weeks later, but the Backlash card is looking pretty uninspiring. Nash stops at Michaels\' dressing room to tell his old friend to have an open mind. Triple H enters the room for a little chat.
Mr. America is coming! But I think he\'s coming to Smackdown, and I have a pretty good idea he\'s over the age of 45. I\'ll pass.
Main Event - Triple H vs. Booker T - World Heavyweight Title Match
You know the cluster ending is coming, it\'s just a question of when. The second half of this show is making me glad there\'s only 20 minutes until C.S.I. Michaels imposes his will early and Flair gets involved too. And why not - Jericho joins the fun as we head to a long commercial break. Booker is in a sleeper when we return, then has to fight his way out of several pinfall attempts. Our hero rallies for a near fall of his own by catching Helmsley with a sidekick coming off the top rope. A missile dropkick also scores but Triple H grabs the ropes. The champ hits a facebuster and a DDT but can\'t put Booker away. Booker misses a scissor kick, but dodges a Pedigree and connects on the second try. He deals with Flair and Jericho but can only get two on the cover. Booker hits a sidewalk slam and goes up top; HHH knocks HBK into the ropes to crotch his foe. Hunter goes for a Pedigree but Booker backdrops him and hits another scissor kick. No pin is made because Jericho rushes in and hits Booker with the belt. But Michaels shows some integrity - he sees the belt and won\'t make the count. Shawn hits Flair, superkicks Triple H and tosses Jericho to the floor. Booker finally makes the cover - one - two - Flair and Jericho both tackle HBK. It\'s Nash time, and Big Sexy heads straight to the corner to tend to Helmsley. As soon as Nash\'s back is turn, Triple H repays his kindness by kicking him in the crotch. The madness ends as the world champ simply grabs his belt and leaves.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, but has never actually felt the ratings decreasing during Raw until this week.