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COMMENT





Raw: Batista batters Goldberg
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's been kind of a sad week for professional wrestling. Tonight's episode of Raw opens with a tribute to Road Warrior Hawk, and it would be a surprise if there wasn't something for Stu Hart at some point. But as always, the show must go on, and in this case it continues with a world title match between Goldberg and Shawn Michaels, contested with the 100 thousand dollar bounty hanging over the champ's head (figuratively speaking). It's brought to you by the beer-swilling Steve Austin and the scheming Eric Bischoff, and it's live from the home of the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre Penguins - it's Raw.

Speaking of Austin, he heads for the ring in an unusually cheerful mood. He's happy because there was a letter waiting for him from someone offering to meet him in the ring at the top of the show. And if you don't know anything about Stone Cold, suffice it say he enjoys a good confrontation. Imagine Austin's surprise when it's the injured Test and Stacy Keibler who come down the ramp. Test wants apologies for both his broken foot (suffered in a match with Shane McMahon that Austin set up) and the Stunner Austin gave Stacy last week, but the Rattlesnake responds with a pair of middle fingers. The co-general manager says injuries are part of the game and suggests that Test should shut up and heal up. For Stacy, he offers a quiz on the proper etiquette when Stone Cold offers you a beer. Hint: drink it. Austin also wants Test to provoke him; he gets what he wants when Stacy shoves Test into him. That brings a predictable Stunner, but also an appearance by Bischoff on the Titan Tron. Eric thinks it's sad that Austin has to resort to beating on injured wrestlers and females and knows the rule that keeps Austin from striking unless physically provoked is killing him. As is his nature, Bischoff has a proposition. At Survivor Series, both general managers will have a team of five men represent them in an elimination match. If Austin's team wins, the physicality rule will be abolished. But if Bischoff's squad comes out on top, he becomes the sole GM. Eric goes one step further by introducing the first two members of his team, Chris Jericho and Scott Steiner. Austin accepts the challenge and calls for some beer. This time, Stacy accepts and drinks with him.

Shane McMahon is in the house, waiting for Kane to arrive and give him an answer about his challenge for Survivor Series. While he waits, Shane ponders how to take the feud to a Wile E. Coyote-Road Runner level of cartoon violence.

Match 1 - Dudley Boyz vs. La Resistance - World Tag Team Title Match

Bubba is sporting an armband to honor the late Hawk. His brother starts the match against Rob Conway, but Rene Dupree quickly erases any thoughts of an early 3-D. The challengers use quick tags and some liberties with the rules to keep D-Von in trouble and isolated, but he hits a desperation enzuigiri and makes the hot tag to Bubba. A neckbreaker and a sidewalk slam set up the Whassup headbutt, but D-Von is crotched before he can take flight. The heels hit their finisher on Bubba but can't pin him thanks to D-Von, and the Dudleys quickly regroup. Pointing to the sky, the champs use the Road Warriors' Doomsday Device finisher to end the match.

Bischoff consults with his first two recruits, who will team tonight to take on Rob Van Dam and Lance Storm. There's a little dissension between the two heels, but Jericho promises they will get it together. Backstage, Terri gives Evolution's Ric Flair and Randy Orton a little face time with the bounty money. Flair guarantees the bounty will be collected tonight and issues a warning for Maven. Booker T sneaks in and tells Terri she should be talking about his return instead, causing Orton to bristle. Booker smacks the youngster and suggests that the two of them meet in the ring.

Match 2 - Booker T vs. Randy Orton

Apparently Austin okays this match during the commercial break, because we're already in the middle of it when we get back. Orton gets a pair of near falls with a clothesline and a variation on a backbreaker, then goes to work applying pressure to Booker's back with his knee. Booker powers out and unleashes his full arsenal of kicks and strikes, finishing the flurry with a Spineroonie. He looks for the Bookend, but Orton exercises the better part of valor and heads up the ramp to get counted out. Booker wastes no time volunteering his services for Austin's team at Survivor Series.

Match 3 - Shawn Michaels vs. Goldberg - World Heavyweight Title Match

Well, at least it's time for this match in theory. As Goldberg makes his way out of his locker room, Mark Henry blindsides him, smashing his head off a wall and throwing him back through the locker room door. Theodore Long tells his charge that it's time to go collect the bounty. The match seems to be off for now, but the long-running question of why Goldberg had all the security escort him to the ring in WCW has been answered.

Michaels gives Austin the lowdown on what happened to the world champ, who is writhing in pain as he's examined by medical personnel. The Rattlesnake vows to have Henry thrown out of the building.

Match 4 - Chris Jericho and Scott Steiner vs. Lance Storm and Rob Van Dam

The King jokingly suggests a Lance Storm: Mr. Entertainment t-shirt. How about it WWE? Van Dam comes out firing on all cylinders against Steiner, forcing Jericho to call for a time out. The King of Bling Bling tags in and knocks Storm off the apron into the guard barrier, where he's thrown into the steps by Steiner. Storm survives a series of elbowdrops and hits a jumping back elbow out of the corner, allowing him to make the hot tag to RVD. A Northern Lights suplex has Jericho kicking out just before three, then Van Dam kicks out of a roll-up attempt. RVD hits a split-legged moonsault but Steiner makes the save. Jericho can't get the Walls of Jericho applied, but his partner smacks Van Dam from the floor with a chair shot, setting up a Lionsault for the pinfall. The heels celebrate with cheap shots and finishers on Storm.

Bischoff gets an update on Goldberg from the medical staff and in not so many words, accuses the world champ of faking injury to get out of wrestling Michaels. Goldberg insists it will take a lot more than a guy who used to go by Sexual Chocolate to keep him from wrestling, in not so many words.

As predicted, Vince McMahon narrates a memorial package on Stu Hart. It's short but nicely done. Back in the arena, Flair is on the phone with Henry to break the news that Goldberg is not out of action, so the bounty is still up for grabs. However, the Nature Boy insists someone will collect it tonight. Jericho bumps into Trish Stratus backstage, and she is appreciative of his save last week. Jericho insists he did it because of his respect for her, not to prove a point to Austin. Then there's some quick, awkward "I've got something to do" good-byes, and... ooh, I think there's two people who have crushes on each other! You know, because nothing spices up Raw like some junior high dating skits. Next week, Jericho has Christian pass Trish a note saying, "Do you like the King of the World? Check yes or no."

Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade drop in on Orton to talk about collecting the bounty. Randy says the only way to get the money is to take out Goldberg, but the young tag team has another idea. They beat up Orton and make off with the loot. In the immortal words of Dark Helmet, I can't believe you fell for it. What's with you man? Flair tells Orton to show HBK the money one more time to get him properly motivated to take on Goldberg, and Randy doesn't have the heart to tell Ric the money is gone.

Match 5 - Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Victoria and Molly Holly

Okay, enough is enough. Until the WWE stops giving me women's tag matches every week, I'm not taking notes on them. Skipping to the finish, Victoria pins Stratus with help from Steven Richards. Afterwards, Victoria and Richards beat on Lita, but Christian comes down and makes the save. I see what's happening here, and it's about time the Canadian wrestlers got some hot girlfriends. Am I right?

Match 6 - Maven vs. Ric Flair

Maven really needs to learn some new moves. He's got a nice dropkick and heel kick, but the guy uses three, count them, three back body drops in this match. Maven hits a top rope cross body but Flair kicks out, then the Nature Boy reverses a roll-up and grabs some tights to win the match.

A jubilant Flair finally gets the bad news from Orton, but the eldest member of Evolution says they will regroup and stop Jindrak and Cade. But gangway boys, because security is coming through in a hurry. the reason for the commotion is soon revealed - Kane is here.

Kane heads to the ring to cut a promo on Shane. It drags a bit but I'll summarize as best I can:

"Blah, blah, blah, I hurt your mom. Blah, blah, blah, nothing can stop me. Blah, blah, blah, Survivor Series (live on pay-per-view!). Blah, blah, blah, I'll reach inside you and rip out your intestines. Blah, blah, blah, your pain has just begun."

You get the idea. Out in the parking lot, Jindrak and Cade are about to make their escape when a shadowy figure stops them with a 2X4. It's, it's... Triple H (duh-duh-DUH!). Trips grabs the briefcase and heads inside. Orton apologizes to Evo's leader, who reveals that he has recovered the dough. Now all that's left to do is sit back and watch, because HHH also guarantees someone will collect the bounty before the end of the show.

Main Event - Shawn Michaels vs. Goldberg - World Heavyweight Title Match, Take Two

Michaels is the aggressor in the early going, working on Goldberg's legs and backing the champ into a corner. Goldberg shows off his power with a gorilla press slam, clotheslines his foe to the floor and yanks him back into the ring. HBK rallies with a series of chops and takes the battle outside, driving Goldberg's back into the side of the ring and sending him into the steps. Back in the ring, Michaels drops a big elbow off the top and makes a cover for two. He warms up the band and looks for Sweet Chin Music but is clotheslined down. A front powerslam drops Michaels, but he recovers in time to dodge a spear, which takes out the ref. A superkick leaves both men down and new referee Charles Robinson scrambling to the ring to continue the match. A returning Batista runs down and attacks Michaels, then turns his attention to the world champ. He hits a spinebuster and a power bomb, then grabs a chair from the outside. Placing Goldberg's leg in the chair, Batista jumps off the middle rope and stomps on the chair. Evolution comes out to the stage in triumph, and it looks like they are a foursome again as Raw draws to a close.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He'd like to offer a bounty for people to take out his enemies but fears that the $1 he could afford wouldn't be much motivation. Send hate mail and constructive criticism (but no viruses please) to his new e-mail address at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.