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RAW: RVD comes close
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Welcome to the world of WWE Raw, where you can\'t be absent for a week (like I was last Monday to play roller hockey) without something crazy happening. I\'m not talking about Jon Waldman taking over and giving me a hard time, I\'m talking about Kane unmasking and looking more weird than hideous. We\'ll try to avoid any similar shenanigans and steer the Raw ship back into calmer waters this week. We\'re live as always, from the HSBC Arena In Buffalo.

What better way to kick off the show than with a little Highlight Reel action? Chris Jericho admits that Kane would be the logical guest as the man everyone is talking about, but he has someone a little more feminine in mind: Stacy Keibler. Of course, that means he gets Scott Steiner too, and he\'s not too happy about that. The Highlight of the Night tries to get Stacy to see the error of her dating ways, but all that gets him is a crack about the legendary tiny stature of his, um, equipment. Test is invited out to join the fun, and things quickly degenerate into fisticuffs. Furniture is still flying when Eric Bischoff comes to the ramp to spice things up. He informs us that Stone Cold Steve Austin is sidelined with food poisoning, leaving the entire show in his hands. And his first act is to book Steiner and Keibler in a tag match against Jericho and Test. It\'s fun for the whole family.

Repeat after me: Lance Storm is not boring. To drive home that point, Storm has another prepared statement about the definition of the word \'boring.\' He\'s through two definitions when the lame WWE version of Goldberg\'s music hits. I\'m sensing some carnage.

Match 1 -- Lance Storm vs. Goldberg

At least that\'s the idea. Instead, Rodney Mack pulls a \'man, what are you thinking?\' and jumps Goldberg from behind. You know the rest -- Mack gets a free sample of Spear and Jackhammer (more please) while Storm suddenly remembers he has more words to look up and heads for the back.

Hiding his head under a towel, Kane listens to Bischoff\'s plans for the evening. He\'s sorry about the unmasking but blames Rob Van Dam for the idea. He also wants the Big Red machine to face the public tonight, and is even willing to offer a rematch for the world title as motivation. When Kane refuses, Bischoff says he will give the title shot to RVD and try a different tactic. If Kane doesn\'t show his face tonight, he\'s fired.

Match 2 -- Battle Royal -- Women\'s Title Match

The seven participants are Trish Stratus, Ivory, Victoria, Jacqueline, Molly, Women\'s Champion Jazz and, making her television debut, Gail Kim. Ivory exits first when she gets a slingshot ride over the top rope to the floor, and Molly and Jackie soon follow. Somewhere in the commotion, Jazz is injured and carried off by referees, meaning there will be a new women\'s champ. Victoria and Trish battle on the top turnbuckle, then Kim is catapulted into Stratus, eliminating the blonde bombshell. Kim looks like she will receive a power bomb, but she pauses up top, grabs the ropes and uses her legs to twist Victoria over the top rope and out. The rookie makes her debut in the best possible way by taking the women\'s title. Ah, but did she take the red pill or the blue pill? A replay shows that Jazz took her lumps from a Victoria superkick, but it\'s hard to say if she\'s legitimately hurt or not.

Match 3 -- Booker T vs. Christian -- Intercontinental Title Match

Christian sprints down the ramp and ambushes Booker from behind, leading to an exchange that spills into the crowd. While security tries to restore order, The King reminds us that the match hasn\'t even officially started yet. That\'s something to ponder while we hear a word from our sponsor...

Your business could be advertising here! Reach out to thousands of readers (except for the Raw report, which has tens of readers) each day. We\'re talking about affluent, mostly Canadian readers that will buy your products. Call SLAM! Wrestling at 1-866-555-1212 for details. Don\'t miss out -- call today!

And we\'re back, with the match official now and Christian in control. Booker rallies with a two count after a back body drop, but Christian settles back in. I\'m talking a long period of control during which I actually nod off. Finally Booker nails a sidekick while his foe is coming off the top rope, then he follows with a forearm shot and a suplex. The Spineroonie fires up the crowd and a sidekick that knocks Christian off the apron, but the I-C champ crotches Booker on the top rope. Book gets hit by a superplex but hooks Christian\'s shoulders on the landing and gets the three count. One second on that celebration thing though -- Bischoff is on the ramp to rule that both men\'s shoulders were down and the match is a draw. Naturally Christian keeps his belt, furthering his legacy as the luckiest I-C titleholder of all time.

As only he can do, RVD is trying to cheer up Kane backstage. Yeah, the unmasking thing was Rob\'s idea, but that doesn\'t mean Kane has to give up a shot at the world title. Besides, Van Dam thinks the fans will still like Kane without his mask. Kane says he hates the fans and RVD too, once he\'s out of earshot. Looks like somebody needs a little dose of Black-Eyed Peas. Where is the love, indeed?

Match 4 -- Chris Jericho and Test vs. Scott Steiner and Stacy Keibler

A.k.a. a handicap match as I don\'t see Stacy doing anything but looking good on the apron in this one. Steiner has the early advantage, tossing both heels around until the numbers game starts working against him. Things are turning back in Big Poppa\'s favor when Jericho abuses the ref, who calls for the bell. There\'s that man again, as Bischoff pops out to restart the match and stipulate a no-DQ finish. Steiner gets double-teamed again but manages to fire off a belly-to-belly suplex on Test. Jericho lands a stiff chair shot, then drags Steiner to the corner and raises his arm up to \'tag in\' Stacy. That gives Test a chance to plant her with a pumphandle slam and cover her for the pinfall. (EDITOR\'S NOTE: Happy Canada Day from TSN, which to protect our sensitive Canadian sensibilities, cut out the slam of Stacy.)

Match 5 -- Rico vs. Maven

What, they changed the format of Raw in the one week I was away? Now it\'s all wrestling, all the time. Nothing much to say about this \'match\' except it exists to get Rico\'s new \'is he gay or isn\'t he\' gimmick over. Think lots of prancing, plus goosing the ref and kissing Maven on the cheek. Yes, you read that right. Jackie (from Tough Enough II) interferes frequently on Rico\'s behalf, and he eventually wins with a spinning kick. Whatever happened to Rico getting a more serious gimmick after Three Minute Warning? This sure isn\'t it.

Match 6 -- Randy Orton vs. Tommy Dreamer

Young Orton\'s gimmick also calls for lots of posing, making it two matches in a row. Come to think of it, Ric Flair also interferes quite a bit, though insinuating similarities between the Nature Boy and Jackie is borderline sacrilegious. Flair saves his charge after a DDT, so Dreamer fetches a kendo stick. Orton uses the distraction to hit the RKO from behind to get the win, and there\'s a little extracurricular activity after the bell.

Bischoff does his slimy thing with RVD, who is busy preparing for his big title match. Van Dam might come off as a stoner, but he\'s no dummy -- he knows Bischoff is trying to exploit Kane\'s plight for ratings, and that\'s not cool. The co-GM tells Rob that if he is forced to fire Kane, it\'s on Van Dam\'s head. Elsewhere, Terri does not want to interview Kane, and I can\'t say that I blame her.

Match 7 -- La Resistance vs. The Hurricane and Spike Dudley

Shame on The Hurricane for bolting the Big East for the promise of more money in the ACC. Boo! Ah, the producer is telling me in my headset that it was different Hurricanes. Anyway, the faces get in a bunch of offense and a number of near falls, but you can see the writing on the wall even though this is a non-title affair. Spike\'s Dudley Dog is reversed into the tag champs\' decidedly low voltage finisher. Ho hum.

Threatened with the loss of her job, Terri musters up the courage to drop in on Kane\'s locker room. Too bad he\'s not there.

Main Event -- Triple H vs. Rob Van Dam -- World Title Match

Well RVD fans, you got your wish. I\'ll pick it up several minutes in with Triple H working over Rob\'s legs with an Indian deathlock and a Figure Four, ably assisted by, yep, Flair. Van Dam escapes and unleashes his arsenal of kicks, but Flair hits him with the title belt to get the DQ escape for his buddy. Bischoff will have none of it and restarts the match with no disqualifications. The champ immediately tries to take advantage with a chair, but Van Dam kicks it into his face on the outside. RVD is trying to drag H back into the ring when Bischoff decrees that it\'s falls count anywhere. Flair is tossed into the crowd and Orton gets involved too. Helmsley staggers up the ramp to try to flee but Van Dam catches him, reverses a Pedigree into a backdrop and hits Rolling Thunder on the stage. The other members of Evolution eat kicks but H manages to sneak up with a belt shot and a DDT to win his one millionth consecutive title defense. Streamers fall from the ceiling and confetti fills the air. In all seriousness, fire fills the air as Kane arrives on the scene. The monster grabs his former tag team partner by the throat, then turns his attention on Bischoff instead. Kane chokeslams Bischoff off the stage, conveniently going through a table on the floor. The bald goliath gets an extreme (and somewhat uncomfortable) close-up as Raw goes black. That was scary, but probably not in the way it was intended.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He thanks everyone for helping him to find his missing smile last week. It had, of course, run off to Las Vegas again.