RAW: Flair still a baddie
NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Last Monday’s Raw featured a heaping helping of mediocrity broken only by a gem of a world title match between Triple H and Ric Flair. Fans seem to want to see the Nature Boy have one last crack at glory, but The Game’s dance card for the next pay-per-view is already full thanks to Kevin Nash. The question is where does Flair go from here? To get an answer, the Raw train turns south and heads for Mobile, Alabama.
A dramatic recap of the meeting between Flair and Helmsley opens the show as I get settled in with my co-writer, Mr. Smirnoff. The plan is to consult with him several times tonight. The montage reminds me that the most exciting part of last week’s show was the post-match salute to Flair, which, naturally, took place after the cameras stopped rolling. That figures.
The show kicks off in earnest with Shawn Michaels making an entrance, then immediately calling out Flair. Citing the Nature Boy as his biggest influence in 18 years in the business, HBK wants the legend to wrestle him tonight so he can see how he measures up. Flair modestly deflects the praise but does want to accept the challenge. The lovefest is threatening to get out of hand when Triple H enters to put a stop to it. He’s none too happy that Flair is crediting Michaels for his career rejuvenation and can’t believe Naitch is abandoning him. The proceedings take another turn as Eric Bischoff comes out to flex some of his managerial muscle. Bischoff wants to save the Flair-Michaels match for Bad Blood but does book one match for tonight: Triple H versus both Flair and Michaels in a handicap match. That look on the world champ’s face isn’t constipation. After the break, J.R. and Jerry Lawler reveal tonight’s poll question, “Will Goldberg spear Chris Jericho tonight?” You know, because last week’s question wasn’t inane enough.
Match 1 – Booker T vs. Test
You have to feel for Booker, who seems like he wrestles every Monday even when there’s not anything going involving his current feud. That’s definitely the case here as he faces Test. The Spineroonie rears its head early, but a missile dropkick can’t seal the deal. Test is dumped to the floor where he uses Stacy Keibler as a human shield to ward off a baseball slide kick. Booker uses the distraction occurring when Scott Steiner arrives to tend to Stacy to hit a scissor kick and get the duke. Everyone can see where this angle is headed but it can’t quite seem to get there.
Sporting a spiffy shiner, Stone Cold Steve Austin tells Triple H his match for tonight is still on despite his best efforts to kiss up to the co-GM. The Game switches strategies and tries browbeating Austin instead, but that proves just as pointless. Maybe sleeping with the boss’ daughter would work. Oh wait…
Match 2 – Steven Richards vs. Val Venis
Trish Stratus joins the announcers to watch Venis try to get Victoria into one of his company’s adult productions. Her wrestling attire tonight says yes, but Richards says no. A big sit-out power bomb almost wins the match, but Venis adds a Money Shot just to be sure to score the pinfall.
The Coach gets a few words with Nash, who seems to be slightly unprepared for his interview. Naturally, he hopes Triple H gets his butt kicked tonight. Elsewhere it’s Terri with Christian, who really needs to wrestle NWA-TNA’s Sonny Siaki for the rights to The Rock’s gimmick. He gets Goldust tonight. And it can’t be Raw these days without Bischoff and Austin butting heads backstage. The uneasy partners agree to a competition between them at Bad Blood, though it is never specified just what kind of contest that might be.
Next up, it’s time for Austin’s latest beer bash, complete with a Memorial Day theme. To that end, Lillian Garcia is on hand to perform “America the Beautiful.” Ah, but there’s a couple of (fake) Frenchmen with other ideas, namely La Resistance. The crowd boos lustily, and you can only wonder if this is even more elementary than Cheap Heat 101. I’ll call it Cheap Heat 060 – it’s a mandatory freshman seminar. Anyway, Austin sets things straight with a stunner for Renee Dupree. La Resistance retreats as Austin prepares for a duet – yes, you read that right – with Garcia. Then the beer starts flowing, and even Garcia is throwing back the brews. Man, that’s my kind of woman. Backstage, a mysterious masked figure is watching Flair change for his match. Whatever floats your boat, I guess.
Wake up. Look around. The world is a metaphor, and the meaning is about to change. What’s this short promo mean? Heck if I know.
Match 3 – Christian vs. Goldust
It’s a non-title affair, in case you were wondering. Goldie strings together several nice offensive moves, ending with his rear end bump that earns a near fall. Christian gets set up for the Golden Globes but the ref puts the kibosh on that idea. The I-C champ charges out of the corner and runs right into a powerslam, and that’s enough for Goldust to get the win. Afterwards, Christian consoles himself by cuddling with his belt.
Match 4 – Rodney Mack vs. Bubba Ray Dudley – Five Minute White Boy Challenge
Someday I’m going to look back on this stretch of Raws and think to myself, “Did I actually write about something called the White Boy Challenge? Surely that must be Mr. Smirnoff talking.” But it’s not, and Mack has a real challenger tonight. The undefeated streak appears to be in jeopardy when Christopher Nowinski runs in and nails Bubba with his facemask. Mack slaps on the Blackout, and the ref calls for the submission win since Bubba is out cold.
La Resistance wants to cry about the way Austin treated them, and they find the perfect shoulder to cry on when they run into Bischoff. The co-GM suggests a Flag Match between Sylvan Grenier and Rob Van Dam, with a title shot for the Frenchmen at Bad Blood if RVD takes the loss.
A video package airs to recap last week’s interrogation of Lance Storm by Austin and his subsequent destruction at the hands of Goldberg. And in a stunning turn of events, 81 percent of the online voters think Goldberg will spear Jericho tonight. That sound you hear is my head banging off my desk. In other news, Triple H is not happy with Flair.
Match 5 – Rob Van Dam vs. Sylvan Grenier – Flag Match
Apparently I am not the wrestling expert I think I am because the rules for the Flag Match are news to me. In a nutshell, the first man to grab his own country’s flag wins. Of course Grenier is not from France, but anyway… RVD hits a spinning legdrop on the guardrail and Rolling Thunder, then takes out Dupree with a slingshot cross body to the floor. Van Dam stops Sylvan from taking the French flag several times, but Dupree is on hand to keep his partner in the match. Finally RVD manages to grab Old Glory, but the ref is conveniently out of action. Kane runs in to help his partner but is quickly subdued by a shot from the flag. With both faces out of commission, Dupree puts the American flag back in its corner and helps his teammate hit the double flapjack. Grenier grabs the French flag just as the ref revives to secure a title shot for La Resistance. Look – it’s Goldberg’s door! The moment the WWE wants us to have been waiting for arrives when Jericho kicks off another episode of the Highlight Reel. His guest tonight is Goldberg, who he describes as his former buddy from WCW until his ego got too big. Since Jericho could not get a match with Da Man in WCW, he left for the WWE. But things are different now, and he lays out a challenge for Goldberg for a match at Bad Blood. The host flees as Goldberg arrives to accept the match. A bit of name-calling ends when Jericho gets too close and Goldberg yanks him back into the ring. The Spear seems inevitable, but a vial of pepper spray evens things up in a hurry. Jericho drops a wounded Goldberg with his own version of the Spear and quickly heads for higher ground. After the break, Jericho is still running for his life – literally, since he can’t get his car to start.
Main Event – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair
HBK finds himself in trouble early, but he counters a Pedigree with a backdrop and scores with some Sweet Chin Music. Flair gets tagged in, but he isn’t the legal man for long when he turns and starts beating down the Heartbreak Kid. Mr. Smirnoff can’t believe it. The masked peeper from earlier in the show assaults Nash with a chair in the locker room just as Triple H puts Michaels away with a Pedigree. Shaking off the effects of the steel, Nash heads for the ring. He holds his own against Naitch and The Game but can’t cope with the arrival of the masked man, who turns out to be Randy Orton. Flair makes Michaels writhe with a Figure Four and Triple H lays into Big Daddy Cool with a chair. That’s all she wrote for this week.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He’d like to recommend a Voodoo Screwdriver (vodka and Live Wire) to help you get through Raw. Only if you are of legal drinking age, of course.