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Raw: I.C. title lost and won
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Shawn Michaels didn't collect the bounty on Goldberg last week on Raw, but the return of Batista and his subsequent thrashing of the world champ seemed to do the trick. Now Evolution holds all the cards as Raw sets up shop in Fayetteville, NC. Steve Austin isn't faring much better, as his co-general manager job is on the line at Survivor Series and he has only Booker T lined up for his team so far. Will the Rattlesnake find more volunteers tonight? We'll find out that answer plus see Shane McMahon in a No-DQ Match against a mystery opponent as Raw goes live right now.

A recap gets anyone who missed the last show up to speed on Batista's return. Inside the arena, a steel cage hangs over the ring, though Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler say they don't know why. Evolution, minus Triple H, heads down the ramp to take care of some business. Ric Flair tells the fans not to expect Goldberg tonight, and Batista claims he knew he would be the one to collect the bounty. As for Goldberg's world title, Randy Orton figures it should return to the previous champ, but a frowning Eric Bischoff walks down and scolds Evolution for meddling in that area. It turns out to be an act, as Eric quickly tells the heels how happy he is that they took out Goldberg. He's so happy that he produces the world title belt and is about to award it to HHH when he is interrupted by the unmistakable sound of shattering glass. Stone Cold says his partner can't strip Goldberg because his ankle injury is not bad enough to end his career. He will be back, so Austin took the liberty of booking him in a title match against Triple H at Survivor Series. Flair protests vehemently, but the bottom line is the bottom line. Batista follows Austin up the ramp and threatens to physically provoke Austin soon; meanwhile, back in the ring his teammates are ambushed by Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade. The youngsters lay on a beating and wisely retreat before Batista can get involved.

Now here's a segment with promise: we're in the locker room with Trish Stratus and Lita. It seems Chris Jericho left a message wishing Trish good luck tonight, but Lita is supiscious of the recent advances made by Jericho and fellow Canadian Christian. She vows to investigate, which unfortunately seems that it will involve putting on more clothes.

Match 1 - Booker T vs. Rico

Can you say mismatch? Rico comes out kicking, but Booker quickly rights the ship and scores with a sidekick. A minute later he hits his scissor kick and brings things to a swift conclusion. A Spineroonie seems to be in order, but Jericho has other ideas. Say, for instance, an impromptu Highlight Reel, with Booker as the guest and the question focusing on why he joined Team Austin. To punctuate his point, Jericho summons fellow Team Bischoff members Scott Steiner and Christian and orders the steel cage lowered so they can "discuss" things with Booker. It looks bleak for our hero until a chair-wielding Rob Van Dam hits the scene. After he sends the heels running, RVD reveals that he's become the second man on Austin's squad.

Bischoff and Jericho stew over their ruined attempt to send Austin a message by taking out Booker. Fortunately, Jericho has a dandy back-up plan, which just so happens to have him facing Van Dam for the intercontinental belt tonight. As Jean-Luc Picard would say, Bischoff makes it so.

Match 2 - Mark Henry vs. Lance Storm

Henry's manager Theodore Long is still miffed that Stone Cold had security throw them out after Henry attacked Goldberg backstage last week. That cost them the bounty, at least in Long's eyes. Storm tries a Missile Dropkick but Henry evades it and tosses him over the top rope. Shawn Michaels appears suddenly and drops Henry with some Sweet Chin Music to settle a score from a few weeks back. Guess this match is over.

Time to go around the horn backstage. The Hurricane poses for a picture with John Heidenreich and learns the shocking truth about Little Johnny, only we don't hear what it is. Lita catches up with Christian and questions his motives for helping her, which apparently stem from a picture in Lita's book of the two of them holding hands. Finally, Coach tells Shane McMahon that he hopes his mystery foe tonight is not Kane, but the Boy Wonder says he hopes it is. Yeah, let's get the inevitable Loser Loses a Limb Match out of the way tonight.

Match 3 - Hurricane and John Heidenreich vs. La Resistance

Servicemen from North Carolina's nearby military bases get the "USA" chants going, but it's little help for The Hurricane, who hits an early somersault plancha and then spends quite a bit of time getting his butt handed to him. He survives numerous near falls before hitting a desperation DDT and making the hot tag to his partner, who stymies La Resistance with power moves. A bicycle kick to Rob Conway forces a save by Rene Dupree, but Heidenreich catches Conway with a chokeslam and gets the pinfall. There's no sign of Little Johnny. Wait a minute, you don't think... surely not, right? Think about it.

Match 4 - Shane McMahon vs. ? - No Disqualifications

The suspense builds for a minute until Test's music hits and he limps down the ramp with Stacy Keibler in tow. Despite his broken foot, Test introduces himself as the mystery guest and the match begins. Shane-O-Mac is all over Test early, at least until he uses Stacy as a shield and does some damage on the outside. Test motions repeatedly to the back for someone to come out, but neither Kane nor anyone else come to his aid. He contents himself with filling the ring with weapons, but it's Shane who strikes with a number of trash can lid shots. McMahon sets up the Van Terminator but is halted by the eruption of Kane's trademark flames, though the Big Red Machine does not appear. Test uses his crutch to score a near fall; Shane responds with a DDT on a trash can for two of his own. Shane-O hits a jumping chair shot, then follows with a successful Van Terminator for the pinfall. Before he can ponder his chances against Kane when it took him this much effort to beat a hobbled Test, he grabs the mic and convinces Kane to come to the stage to show his face. Shane issues a challenge for an Ambulance Match at Survivor Series, which Kane accepts by simply nodding. What, no sililoquies from the bug guy this week? Not that I'm complaining, mind you.

Match 5 - Trish Stratus vs. Victoria vs. Lita vs. Gail Kim - No. 1 Contenders Match

At long last, the women's division plot seems to get a little bit of focus. Women's champ Molly is an interested observer as there are plenty of near falls in the early going. Stevie Richards helps Victoria throw Stratus to the floor, effectively eliminating her from the rest of the bout. Victoria hits the Widow's Peak on Lita but Kim breaks up the pin. Lita ducks a shot from Richards that hits Victoria, then takes advantage with a DDT to win the contest.

The Coach gets a last minute touch-up on his makeup. He'll be reviewing Stone Cold's new book tonight, and he probably won't be giving it a glowing review. Call it a hunch.

J.R. narrates a nice tribute package for the late Road Warrior Hawk. Coach is at the podium for his book review, and as expected, he rips the book for containing "hundreds of lies." Stone Cold arrives to present the opposing viewpoint and asks Coach to take a shot at him, but the heel commentator won't be goaded that easily. Backstage, Michaels interrupts Jindrak and Cade's interview with Terri to provide a little inspiration for their upcoming match with Evolution. Long stops by to issue a challenge - it will be HBK versus Henry next week. Set your TiVo now. Bischoff issues a little payback for last week by having security escort HBK from the building, and Michaels goes peacefully.

Match 6 - Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade vs. Evolution (Randy Orton and Ric Flair)

Recent Evolution pest Maven makes his way ringside to even the odds (sort of) against the hulking Batista. Cade gets worked over early, but a double clothesline gives him just enough time to tag in Jindrak. Mark fires off a series of dropkicks until Flair regains control. The Nature Boy goes for a roll-up, but Maven nails him (sort of) with a clothesline and Jindrak reverses and grabs a handful of tights to score the upset win. Batista makes his prsence felt by interrupting the celebration with a power bomb to Cade, a spinebuster to Jindrak and a sit-out power bomb to Maven. Gee, you think they're trying to build him up?

Match 7 - Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam - Intercontinental Title Match

Here we go. An early exchange of kicks goes in favor of Jericho, who hits a suplex and a series of elbowdrops for a two count. Rob powers out of a submission hold, then uses a step-over kick and a Northern Lights suplex to get a near fall. Jericho hits a bulldog but misses a Lionsault; Van Dam goes for the Five Star Frog Splash but can't find the mark. A roll-up attempt doesn't put RVD away, so Jericho uses a low blow to set up the Walls of Jericho. Van Dam makes it to the ropes, but Bischoff sprints down and distracts referee Earl Hebner, allowing Jericho to pull RVD back into the center of the ring. The champ has no choice but to tap out and lose his title in the process. A ticked off crowd is placated by the arrival of Austin. The Rattlesnake says he can't reverse the ref's decision (really?) but can order Jericho's first title defense to take place immmediately, and in a steel cage to boot. He goes on to ban everyone form ringside and chases Bischoff to the back.

Main Event - Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho - Intercontinental Title Steel Cage Match

Through the magic of editing, this has taken the place of the previous match as the main event. Jericho works over Van Dam's back until the challenger rallies and makes the new champ repeatedly taste the steel. RVD makes a pair of attempts to climb out of the cage, but Jericho is right on him to throw him down. A second Lionsault misses, but RVD's attempt to counter with a slingshot backfires when it throws Jericho almost all the way to the top of the cage. Rob scrambles to stop him, then gets hit with a sloppy bulldog off the top rope. Jericho almost makes it over the top before he's kicked down, and Van Dam scales the wall and makes it over. Jericho's last chance is to head for the door, but Van Dam hangs from the top of the outside of the cage and kicks the door into the Canadian's face. All that's left is for Van Dam to drop to the floor and regain his I-C strap. Christian and Steiner quickly hit the scene to beat on RVD, though the Dudley Boyz come down to help Rob. Mark Henry also runs in as Long locks the cage door behind him. Booker T is the next one down, and he has to climb the outside of the cage to get involved. He dives from the top to take out Henry, Steiner and Jericho but soon feels the pain of the World's Strongest Slam. Jericho climbs to the top of the cage and laughs as the faces continue to take a beating and Raw signs off for another week.