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RAW: Who's next? Linda McMahon!
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Hooray for Hollywood, where criminal charges are the current talk of the town. No, not the charges facing Kobe, but the charges that may be facing Kane as the result of the impromptu barbecue session he had with Jim Ross last week. Meanwhile, Steve Austin's short term as co-general manager might be coming to an end thanks to the abuse of his Stunner power. Linda McMahon will be on hand at the Staples Center and will likely play a part in both stories. It's Raw, live from Tinseltown.

Eric Bischoff rules the ring, and he's quite happy that after tonight he won't have to share power with Stone Cold. After all, in his mind it is Austin who is responsible for Kane's month-long rampage. Bischoff isn't alone for long as Linda McMahon makes her way down and cuts right to the chase. She pleases the fans and dismays Bischoff by stating that the Rattlesnake can't be held accountable for Kane's rage. She also shows her grasp of the obvious by saying Kane needs some serious medical help. The Big Red Machine is under house arrest while J.R. decides whether or not to press charges (that means we're stuck with The Coach again), though he will wrestle Rob Van Dam tonight. Think of it as the ultimate work release program. Naturally, Austin himself quickly joins the party. He's not backing down from his stance on Kane and is looking forward to another shot at him. Bischoff interjects by reminding him that the Kane issue is what's getting him fired, but Linda says she never said anything about firing Stone Cold, just dealing with the problem. She actually thinks Austin has been a good GM, except for that little problem he has with losing his patience and physically assaulting wrestlers. Linda goes on to say that if Austin wants to keep his job, he can't lay a finger on the grapplers unless he is physically provoked. If he decides he can't live with that stipulation, Bischoff will resume his old role as the show's lone GM. The Rattlesnake says he will think about it, but McMahon tells him he only has a week to decide. She also says it would be a good idea if he took the rest of the night off, much to the delight of Bischoff. His smile disappears quickly though, as Linda also tells him to take a hike for this show. Austin washes all of the tension away with a few (dozen) beers.

Match 1 - Gail Kim and Trish Stratus vs. Victoria and Molly Holly

An electrical storm knocks out my cable for the better part of this match, saving me the trouble of describing it in much detail. Suffice it to say that a Chick Kick by Stratus goes awry, hitting Gail and allowing Molly to get the pin. Also suffice it to say that Kim is no longer undefeated in WWE competition, for what that's worth.

Intrepid journalist Terri tells us that Kane will be getting a police escort tonight. You know, because he's dangerous. Not as dangerous but a heck of a lot more entertaining is one Chris Jericho, who will be facing Shawn Michaels tonight. He's also proud to be the one whose petition got the ball rolling on the whole Austin deal. Jericho takes off when Stone Cold actually shows up, soon followed by Bischoff. As usual, Eric blames everything on his partner; Austin fires back by talking about Bischoff running WCW out of business. EB says the company was bought, and the two of them go back and forth like stubborn children for a few minutes. Guess the night off doesn't start right away.

Flanked by Triple H and Ric Flair, Randy Orton heads to the ring for his match with Val Venis. But first maestro, a little mic time please. The youngest member of Evolution mocks Mick Foley and the way he recently threw Mick down a flight of steps. He wonders if that was enough to make a name for himself, or if pinning all three Dudleys last week might have done the trick. Considering his successes, Orton decides to change his nickname from Lady Killer to Legend Killer. At least he's not lacking in self-confidence.

Match 2 - Randy Orton vs. Val Venis

Usually I take detailed notes during the matches and try to give you a semblance of play-by-play. That's not necessary here. Venis carries almost all of the offense while Triple H joins the announcers and makes cracks at J.R.'s expense. Eventually Flair interferes; Venis makes a short rally but misses the Money Shot. Orton hits the RKO and that's it.

Ah, but that's not it for Evolution. The world champ grabs the mic and tells Orton to model the Evolution t-shirt: paid, laid and made. Helmsley says there's not a person who can stop them, so naturally someone comes out: It's Goldberg! Heading straight for the ring, Goldberg goes eye to eye with Triple H. He grabs a mic and tells HHH he's next while Flair and Orton circle around from both sides. Goldberg takes off his shirt and a scuffle seems imminent, but Evolution backs down and slinks out of the ring. Helmsley mouths the words "on my own time" as the heels retreat. That was kind of anticlimactic, but at least the rumored feud is underway.

Young Orton is antsy to take on Goldberg for stealing his spotlight. Fortunately for him, the Nature Boy calms him down by telling him to wait for the right time. Triple H tells Randy that he's done half of what he was supposed to do tonight, now he just has to stick to the plan so people will remember his name by the end of the show.

Match 3 - Chris Jericho vs. Shawn Michaels

It's pay-per-view quality on free TV. At least it's a PPV caliber entrance by Y2J before we head to a commercial break.

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HBK makes his classic entrance and we're underway. Arm locks and armbars are traded until Jericho is thrown through the ropes to the floor. Recovering quickly, Jericho slides down out of a test of strength into a side headlock on the mat. A sunset flip leads to a series of pins and reversals that must have Earl Hebner's arm hurting. Michaels goes to a headlock on the mat but Jericho powers out with a series of rights, a backbreaker and a few elbowdrops to earn a near fall. Y2J tosses HBK over the top rope and mocks the crowd with Hogan-like motions. He suplexes Michaels back into the ring and tries to toss him out again, but HBK grabs the top rope and hangs on. Jericho misses off the top rope and hits the floor hard. Shawn springboards off the middle rope to take out his foe, then goes back in the ring and gets a two count with a cross body off the top. Flair chooses this moment to run down the ramp, but HBK slides out and pops him immediately. Back in the ring, a hurracanrana is reversed into the Walls of Jericho. You know what that means - commercial! HBK has escaped by the time we return, and he rains down rights from a corner mount. Jericho breaks his momentum by back body dropping him to the floor, where Flair takes advantage by using his coat for a choke. CJ flies off the top with a back elbow, but Michaels kicks out. The second time isn't the charm as HBK catches Jericho coming off the top again with a dropkick. A series of offensive moves climaxes with a catapult into the corner, though Jericho kicks out of the ensuing roll-up attempt. He follows with a Northern Lights suplex and a bulldog, and though he misses a Lionsault, he lands on his feet. A second Lionsault hits but can't keep HBK down. Michaels rallies with a powerslam and flies with a big elbowdrop. The band warms up but Jericho ducks the Sweet Chin Music, and Hebner gets just enough of a bump that he misses Jericho's low blow. Y2J soon regrets grabbing a chair as Michaels recovers and superkicks it into his face. As Hebner and Flair scuffle on the floor, Orton runs down and crushes HBK with an RKO on the chair. Jericho crawls over for the cover and almost gets the pin, but not quite. The Walls of Jericho have HBK in trouble in the corner, so he crawls all the way across the ring to within six inches of the ropes. Jericho pulls him back into the center of the ring, leaving HBK no choice but to tap out. What a novel idea - quality wrestling on a wrestling show.

A video package recaps Linda's chat with Stone Cold and Bischoff. Out in the ring, Lance Storm wants to show off his talent to the Hollywood elite (including Rob Reiner sitting in the front row), so he reads a prepared statement. Hey, it rhymes. Before the proud Canadian can finish, we cut to the back where Terri has exclusive footage of Kane being led into the Staples Center in shackles. Take that Entertainment Tonight.

Tonight's poll question asks whether or not J.R. should press charges against Kane. Dear readers, I can only hope that if someone lit you on fire you would not wait for the results of a poll before you pressed charges.

Match 4 - Booker T vs. Test - Intercontinental Title Match

Test has his way early, even stopping to mock Scott Steiner with some jumping jacks and push-ups. He isn't laughing when Steiner comes to the stage and has a seat while Stacy gives him a private dance. She even puts some extra spice into it by taking off her skirt. The first network for men indeed. Booker uses the distraction to roll Test up with a schoolboy. That doesn't work, so he uses the Bookend to seal the deal.

By the way, 62 percent of the poll respondents say J.R. should go through with the charges. Wait, only 62 percent? At 10:45, my cable goes out, but it quickly returns. Whew, that was a close one. Back in the locker room, the boys are picking sides for the main event. The Hurricane waxes poetic about how Kane has changed before turning his attention to Rosie. He sees a super hero in training, and Golddust stops by to spell it out for him. Get it? S... h... i... eh, you can see where this is heading. Funny one writing team!

Main Event - Kane vs. Rob Van Dam

The gimp, I mean Kane, is led to the stage by his police escort. See kids, he's dangerous. So dangerous, in fact, that we will need another commercial break to ponder how truly dangerous. RVD sprints out of the break and charges right into the fray, which gets him tossed out of the ring. Shots are traded on the outside and up the ramp, where Kane is in full control. He thinks about giving Rob the "Bischoff treatment" off the stage but Arn Anderson and a phalanx of refs come out to put a stop to that. Instead, Kane drives RVD headfirst into the metal wall above one of the video screens. That's going to leave a mark. The Big Bald Machine pushes his way past the officials and menaces Linda Mac, who has foolishly come to observe and is way too close to the action. He grabs her by the neck, but Jerry Lawler comes to the rescue. The King is easily repulsed and Kane turns his attention back to Mrs. M. Linda goes upside down and gets a Tombstone (a very careful Tombstone mind you) on the stage. Arn, the refs and even The Coach hustle over to aid Linda as Kane walks out and Raw goes off the air sans announcers.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's currently reinforcing his apartment door just in case Kane's work release program brings him to Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania.