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Raw: Austin completes his team
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


\"Hey, didn\'t you used to be Stone Cold Steve Austin? Weren\'t you the guy who used to go around raising hell and opening a can whenever you wanted? What happened to you?\" Those thoughts have been running through Steve Austin\'s head a lot recently, but Stone Cold\'s fate is in the hands of a team of wrestlers at Survivor Series in just 13 days. That doesn\'t mean the Rattlesnake will just sit idly by tonight in Cleveland\'s Gund Arena. Austin should name his fifth man tonight, and you know he will have something to say to Batista after Evolution\'s man stepped to him last week. It\'s Raw is King James, and it\'s live on Spike TV.

Almost forgot about the contract signing. A big match just isn\'t official without one, and we\'ll see Austin and Eric Bischoff sign on the dotted line tonight. And if that isn\'t exciting enough for you, there will be actual wrestling too, as Shawn Michaels swears he\'s not slumming when he takes on Mark Henry.

Match 1 - Booker T and Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho and Christian

The heels launch a sneak attack during Jericho\'s intro in this match that features 40 percent of Austin and Bischoff\'s Survivor Series squads. Van Dam\'s somersault plancha takes out two targets, and he and Booker take control early. Christian fires back with a dropkick and a two count on Booker, then clamps in a chinlock. The Canadians try some double team tactics until Booker catches Christian coming off the top rope. A series of counters ends with a sidekick that leaves both men down. RVD gets the hot tag, unleashing a cross body, step-over kick and Rolling Thunder on Jericho. After crotching Christian, Rob rolls up Y2J but can\'t get the pinfall. Van Dam goes up top for the Five Star but changes course and flips onto an interfering Christian. Jericho is saved from a split-legged moonsault, but the heels hit the canvas when Booker connects with a double scissor kick. The Spineroonie makes an appearance and Van Dam nails a top rope kick, but Christian distracts the ref. Jericho takes Booker down and Christian holds his leg from the floor to steal a victory from our heroes.

As you might expect, Austin is watching backstage and is none too happy seeing his boys go out like that. He heads for the ring but is stopped by Coach, who figures Team Bischoff will win and wants to interview Austin after the match at the pay-per-view. Stone Cold points out that if his team wins he can attack whoever he wants, and if Bischoff\'s team wins, he has nothing to lose - either way Coach is likely to get a beating. While the heel announcer ponders the beer-driven logic, Austin excuses himself to do something he never thought he\'d do.

It\'s time for more intrepid reporting, this time from Terri with women\'s champion Molly Holly. Terri wants to talk about Molly\'s upcoming title defense against Lita, but the champ is tired about discussing the extreme redhead. Mocking Lita\'s comeback from a broken neck, Molly offers Terri a different exclusive on getting destroyed by the women\'s champ - literally, as she beats the reporter down to the ring. Lita runs down for the save, forcing Molly to try to escape into the crowd. Lita gives chase but is ambushed by a wrench-wielding Gail Kim, who was disguised as a fan in the front row. The vicious vixens hit a double DDT in the ring to end the segment.

Austin hesitates a second before knocking on a locker room door, and we soon see why as it\'s revealed to be the room of one Shawn Michaels. HBK says he\'s ready for his match with Henry tonight, but the Rattlesnake says he\'s there to talk about the Survivior Series match. As Austin sees it, he has four men but still needs a fifth. Michaels does his part by playing dumb, making Austin swallow his pride and ask for his help. HBK reminds the co-GM that they have history together, and the events of the past prove they just don\'t mix. But Austin doesn\'t need a hostroy lesson , and he cuts to the chase by asking the Heartbreak Kid if he\'s in or out. He replies by saying he thinks Stone Cold has a heck of a problem on his hands... and yes, he\'s in. That\'s music to Austin\'s ears. Elsewhere, Christian checks on Lita, who is getting treatment on her neck from a trainer. Just where was Christian when his crush was getting wrecked, eh?

Match 2 - Batista vs. Maven

A certain Cleveland Cavalier is in the front row, and before you ask, no it\'s not Kevin Ollie. We\'re told Goldberg is watching at home as the man who put him on the shelf takes it to Maven with a spinebuster and a backbreaker. Maven makes a brief and game rally on the floor, but it comes to an end in the ring when he tries a top rope bulldog and is clotheslined in mid-air. Batista hits a power bomb into a pin and gets the three count.

Kane is carressing an ambulance backstage and talking to nobody in particular about what he\'s going to do to Shane McMahon in the Ambulance Match at Survivor Series. Apparently showcasing new powers to control the production truck, Kane shows us weird first-person footage of someone being loaded into an ambulance. He brags extensively about how the match will end with one person being hospitalized. Funny, I seem to recall the last pay-per-view meeting between these two ending that same way, and I should know since I was there. As Freedom Williams once said, it\'s one of those things that make you go \"hmm...\" Off in the ever-popular elsewhere, Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade get psyched up for their match with the Dudley Boyz. Remember when Jindrak was teamed with Sean O\'Haire in WCW? Yeah, me neither.

Match 3 - Dudley Boyz vs. Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade

D-Von opens the near falls with a shoulderblock on Jindrak, then finds himself kicking out after Cade makes a blind tag in. Cade wrestles Bubba to a stalemate before hitting a jumping shoulder out of the corner for a quick two. The youngsters work over D-Von for a bit until Cade misses a flying elbow and Bubba gets the hot tag. The Dudleys are halted by the sudden appearance of Scott Steiner on the stage, with Big Poppa Pump pressing Stacy Keibler overhead in an attempt at intimidation. The distraction sets up a Jindrak right hand and a clothesline from Cade that leaves Bubba down for the count. With the upset in the books, Bubba and D-Von can only applaud sarcastically as they realize they were outsmarted. And knowing they were outsmarted by Steiner has to hurt.

The traditional table and red carpet are set up for the contract signing, and Stone Cold is anxious to get it done. Bischoff seems happy to do it too, but he wants to take the opportunity to introduce the fifth member of his team first. Randy Orton is the pick, and the young member of Evolution comes to the stage to taunt Austin a little. Stone Cold wants him to repeat his boasts face to face, but Bischoff reminds the Rattlesnake that confrontations like that are what the Survivior Series match is all about. He signs the contract and asks if his foe is having second thoughts, though Austin quickly inks his name as well. But Bischoff isn\'t done, as he goes on to call Austin a fraud for having to trust five giys to save his job when his famous motto is D.T.A. - don\'t trust anybody. Stone Cold admits that is hard to trust others with his career, but also says that he hasn\'t been himself in a long time and the reward is worth the risk. A quick poll of the crowd suggests the fans agree, and 12,000 middle fingers in the air can\'t be wrong. He promises we will see the real Stone Cold soon, and that is the bottom line.

It was a pretty nice speech, but one person wasn\'t impressed, and that one person is a rather large one named Batista. He stops Austin backstage and offers his hypothesis that it wasn\'t the provocation rule but guys like him that made the Rattlesnake \"lose his nerve.\" Batista calls Stone Cold a [bleeping] coward, and all he can do is stand there and seethe.

Match 4 - Rico vs. Lance Storm

Sure, this match is simply filler, but it\'s good filler thanks to Miss Jackie\'s outfit... or lack thereof. Val Venis and three female, um, companions are on hand to watch Storm roll backwards through a move to apply the half crab, forcing the flamboyant Rico to tap out. After the bell, Lance gets to shake it like a Polaroid picture with Venis and his ladies. Hootie hoo!

When last we saw Jericho and Trish Stratus, they\'re middle school romance was progressing nicely. Tonight, Chris says he got Trish\'s phone number by asking around, but Trish replies that she would have given up the digits if he would have asked. The subject changes to Trish\'s mixed gender tag match tonight and her unusual partner John Heidenreich. Trish tries to ease Jericho\'s concerns by revealing that Heidenreich showed her Little Johnny earlier in the evening, but all that does is make him call the newcomer a pervert. {Sarcasm mode on.} It would be a lot easier to understand this angle if it wasn\'t so hard to understand what the insinuation is about Little Johnny. I just don\'t get it. {Sarcasm mode off.} Thank you. Next on the agenda is a video package promoting house shows. The message is simple: please come see us.

Match 5 - Trish Stratus and John Heidenreich vs. Victoria and Steven Richards

The King makes a funny by saying it should be a handicap match because of Little Johnny. Meanwhile, J.R. is irritated because a mixed gender match shouldn\'t even need tags since the genders have to only fight each other, though Richards thumbs his nose at that rule when he sneaks in and suplexes Trish while the ref is distracted. Victoria hits the Black Widow for two, but Stratus responds with a desperation spinebuster. Heidenreich finally gets the hot tag and deals with both heels until Trish neutralizes Victoria with a Thesz press on the outside. That gives Heidenreich an opening to put the match away with his finisher, which I hereby dub the Who\'s Johnny? in honor of El Debarge. Props to the two people out there who will get that reference.

Always on the prowl for a story, Coach wants a quick word with Austin about getting punked out by Batista. Coachman laughs as he says Stone Cold can\'t do anything about it, but the co-GM erases that idea by declaring himself the special enforcer for the Michaels-Henry bout and issuing an open invitation for anyone to come down and offer some provocation. A rundown of the Raw brand matches for Survivor Series follows, then Sgt. Slaughter stops Kane backstage to give him a letter from Shane McMahon. The Big Red Machine laughs and accepts Shane-O-Mac\'s invitation for next Monday night. Something tells me it\'s not to eat wings while watching Monday Night Football.

Main Event - Shawn Michaels vs. Mark Henry

It\'s not quite up there with Michaels-Austin at WrestleMania 14 but it\'s the main event we\'ve got. Henry lands big right hands as special enforcer Austin looks on at ringside. Theodore Long tries to interfere, earning himself a quick ejection from the Rattlesnake. Henry catches HBK on a slingshot cross body to the floor and introduces his back to the ringpost. Thw World\'s Strongest Man sends Michaels hard into the corner, hits a clothesline for two and locks in a bear hug. Michaels uses the crowd\'s urging to rally and rain down ten rights from the top turnbuckle, but he\'s soon tossed from his perch. Henry goes for Rikishi\'s Banzai drop in the corner, but Michaels gets his knees up. Sweet Chin Music follows and puts the big man down for the three count. A sign in the crowd sums up my feelings on this match by simply stating, \"I hate Mark Henry.\" Well played.

We\'re not quite done yet. Austin grabs a mic to congratulate Michaels on the win and thank him for joining his team, but he wants HBK to leave the ring so he can attend to some business. That business, of course, has to do with Batista, and Stone Cold says he\'s not leaving the ring until the big man comes down. He\'s still waiting after a commercial break, but Batista eventually obliges and the fight is on. Right hands are exchanged (Austin actually appears to throw the first punch) until Batista is sent over the top rope to the floor. Henry sneaks back in and gets a Stone Cold Stunner for his trouble, though Batista uses the distraction to gain the upper hand. Unexpectedly, Goldberg grabs a steel chair backstage and limps down to the ring. The world champ drops Henry with a chair shot and spears Batista. He sets the chair on Batista\'s leg to give him a taste of his own medicine but has to turn and spear Ric Flair. That gives Batista enough time to scrape up what\'s left of Flair and escape up the ramp. Austin offers a beer to Goldberg, but he turns it down even though he knows what that means. Goldberg says the only way he\'ll be Austin\'s drinking partner is if a match is made for next week between himself and Batista, and Stone Cold happily accepts to get the beer going. That\'s all from Cleveland. Drive home safely.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. You can congratulate him on his first two-goal roller hockey game or even talk to him about Raw at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.