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Raw: Kane barbecues J.R.
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's a safe bet that not too many people would suggest that the way to lift Raw out of the doldrums would be to have two faces feud - especially when one of them is "retired." Yet that's exactly what we have as the focus of Raw, with an out of control Kane butting heads with co-general manager Steve Austin. The bald ones figure to be the center of attention again tonight, though where this is going is anyone's guess. As the MLB stars swing for the fences in Chicago, the WWE superstars go yard (hopefully) live from Indianapolis.

Rejoice Chris Jericho fans. Your boy is up first with the ever-popular Highlight Reel, and you'll be able to play checkers on either his shirt or his pants. But Y2J has something serious to address tonight, and it's the way Raw has degenerated into chaos over the past few weeks. He's not talking about the writing though, he's referring to Kane's unprovoked attacks. Fortunately the one man who can restore order is his guest tonight: Eric Bischoff. Sporting a neck brace, Bischoff says he ignored his doctor's advice and returned because Stone Cold was running Raw into the ground. To protect everyone, he's ordered Kane to stay away. We'll still hear from the Big Red Machine though, as Jim Ross will interview him live from WWE headquarters. And just for good measure, Bischoff unveils exclusive footage of Kane tossing Rob Van Dam through a wall. It's an exclusive! You know, because there are usually a whole bunch of competing networks with backstage cameras at Raw. Anyway, Jericho is about to add his two cents when he's interrupted by Austin's arrival. An upset Rattlesnake says he was going to confront Kane in the ring tonight but can't due to Bischoff's machinations. Eric goes on to blame his partner for all of Kane's recent actions, and Austin is about to retaliate physically until he decides it's not worth it. Jericho can't let it go though, and calling Stone Cold a sanctimonious son of a bitch earns him a trip to Stunner-land.

Match 1 - Trish Stratus, Kevin Nash and Scott Steiner vs. Victoria, Steven Richards and Test

Everyone wants a piece of Test, but he wants no part of Big Poppa Pump. Richards feels Steiner's wrath, then the women tag in. Trish uses the Matrix and connects with a kick for a near fall, but she soon finds herself guillotined by Victoria and Test. A bit of mocking comes to a quick end when Trish hits Test with a series of forearm shots, though he responds quickly with a big shoulderblock. The women scrap a bit more until a neckbreaker leaves them both down and Nash gets the hot tag. Big Daddy Cool runs wild and brings things to an end with a big boot and a Jackknife Power Bomb to Richards.

Jericho whines to Bischoff about his treatment at Austin's hands, and Eric agrees that he knows of no company policy that would allow a manager to lay his hands on an employee. That gives Jericho an idea÷ Out in the ring, Lance Storm follows the advice of his legal counsel and reads a prepared statement threatening legal action if the fans continue the "boring" chants during his matches. Maven's music hits before Raw can turn into Law and Order.

Match 2 - Lance Storm vs. Maven

Things get off to a legitimately boring start when a hip toss spot is blown. Storm works Maven into a corner, then slows him on the mat. Maven responds with a schoolboy for two; Storm earns a near fall of his own. A sleeper is applied, much to the chagrin of The King. Maven powers out and hits a spinning heel kick, then escapes a suplex and back body drops his foe to the floor. A high cross body off the top almost does Storm in, but he comes back with a jawbreaker and a superkick for two. Maven flies off the top again, but his sunset flip is reversed into a half crab. The ropes are within reach though, and Maven (kind or sort of) reverses the hold into the pin and gets the three count.

Up in Stamford (live!), J.R. is none too crazy about his upcoming interview. But in the name of Walter Conkite, he'll fight the good fight for investigative journalism. He must find out if Kane is really a monster. He must!

The team that is La Resistance comes to the ring to the usual chorus of boos. The French boys are in the mood to celebrate Bastille Day with their rendition of the French national anthem. So sing they do, as we head to a commercial break.

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And we're back, and La Resistance is still singing. The Dudley Boyz aren't having it though, and Bubba, D-Von and Spike come out waving Old Glory. After clearing the ring, the Dudleys "treat" us to their version of the U.S. national anthem. Not the best use of TV time, but at least it gets the brothers Dudley to the ring for their match.

Match 3 - Evolution vs. Dudley Boyz - Elimination Match

Ric Flair and Bubba engage in a battle of chops and the Nature Boy gives a single finger salute to Spike. The littlest Dudley gets his shots in until Randy Orton dropkicks him out of the ring. Evolution puts the hurt on Spike, but D-Von tags in and has his way for a few. All six men spill in and Spike's Dudley Dog is reversed into the RKO. One down. The remaining Dudleys regroup to 3-D Orton, but Flair grabs Earl Hebner to prevent a count. Triple H grabs the French flag still at ringside and knocks out D-Von. Then he drags Orton on top of him to score the fall. Two down. After a commercial break (naturally), Bubba goes it alone. We fast forward to the finish as HHH nails a Pedigree and Orton crawls over to complete the hat trick. Yep, when you're on top you don't even have to give one fall in a six-man elimination. Must be nice. Well, it's nice for everyone for Orton, who legitimately seems to be gushing blood from his mouth.

Bischoff likes what he's seeing on the monitor, but his expression changes when RVD bursts in. He's not happy because he wanted to wrestle Kane tonight. The co-GM assures him that he'll get his chance next week, but he might want to think twice given recent events.

In the locker room, Jericho gathers Christian, Tommy Dreamer, Rico and assorted mid-carders to make his pitch. He's got a petition calling for Austin's resignation that he intends to fax to Linda McMahon. Support seems to be high as Rico becomes the first to sign.

Match 4 - Rodney Mack vs. Rosie

Theodore Long wants Snoop Dogg or Johnnie Cochran to replace Austin. I guess that's supposed to be funny. After yet another commercial (come on now!), Mack makes short work of Rosie thanks to a low blow from his manager. After the bell the lights dim, and The Hurricane is standing on the top rope. Mack gets a dropkick and bugs out, and Hurricane and Rosie stand in the ring staring each other down. I smell sidekick.

The petition is taken to Evolution, and Triple H says the group will sign it. Yeah, they don't like Austin much.

Match 5 - Christian vs. Booker T - Intercontinental Title Match

Coach makes a point of saying each match between these too is better than the last, but something tells me that's about to end here. Things come to a boil when the ref takes two bumps, meaning that he's not awake to count the fall when Christian hits the Unprettier. Evil ref Nick Patrick runs down but Booker revives at two. The champ hits the Bookend and a sidekick and even breaks out the Spineroonie. But Christian dodges a scissor kick, rolls him up and grabs the top rope to get the three count. Christian has his belt back÷ or does he? The original ref tries to set Patrick straight, but he's not hearing it. A shoving match ensues, forcing Austin to intervene. He sends both refs to the back and orders a restart with a third ref. A quick scissor kick wins it for Booker, leaving a frustrated Christian to take out some aggression on the third official. Stone Cold returns and stomps Christian in the corner, then lays him out with a Stunner. More heat on someone who will never get it back. I feel like I'm channeling Dave Scherer.

An amused Bischoff says to no one in particular that Austin is nailing his own coffin. Linda rings his cell and he likes whatever he's hearing. Up in Connecticut (live!), J.R. and Kane prepare for the Barbara Walters deal.

Match 6 - Gail Kim vs. Molly Holly - Women's Title Match

I can't in good conscience call a women's match the main event, but that Kim is cute, I'll give her that. Now that I've painted myself with the sexism brush, I'll tell you that Kim wins in just a few minutes with her hurracanrana pin.

Kane has a present for J.R.: a can of gasoline. Ross learns that if he makes fun of Kane even one time, he'll be set on fire. With the ground rules set, the interview begins, but not without a lengthy video recap of Kane's adventures over the last few weeks. Ross asks for Kane's reaction to the footage, and he's feeling anger and hatred. Kane says he was a happy child until the fire scarred him, and he can't figure out why RVD and Austin - who are supposed to be his friends - want to expose him so people will ridicule him. J.R. tries to point out that Kane doesn't appear to have much scarring but that just sets the big guy off. Ross goes on to say that he sees a man who needs help, and that Van Dam and the fans respect the Big Red Machine and don't care what he looks like. Bad move. Kane decides the fans are lying, as is Ross. Austin comes to the ring in Indy and claims he is just trying to help. Too bad Kane feels like the only way to understand his pain is to experience it for yourself. Kane drops J.R. with one punch and douses him with gasoline. As Austin looks on in horror, Kane lights a match and lights J.R. (or a reasonable facsimile) on fire despite the halfhearted efforts made by crew members to stop him. The fire is extinguished quickly, but Bischoff comes to the ring to rub the damage in Stone Cold's face. He also says that Linda will be on Raw next week to fire Austin. The Rattlesnake is left in an unfamiliar state - speechless - as Raw comes to an incendiary conclusion.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. For a strategy guide to Titan 2004, please e-mail Nick at franchisenjt@yahoo.com. Or simply go back and watch every Raw and Smackdown since WrestleMania.