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COMMENT





Raw: Midgets, thongs and frying pans
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Admit it. Even Eric Bischoff comes up with an interesting idea every once in a while. Tonight won\'t be the first time for Raw Roulette - where a wheel of stipulations decides most of the matches - so he doesn\'t get high marks for originality. Still, the show is bound to have a few twists and turns, so you can\'t fault the effort. A little bit of Vegas invades Salt Lake City as Bischoff presents Raw Roulette, live on Spike TV.

Before we begin, let me just add that as a gambling afficionado (some would say fiend), Raw Roulette is kind of a misnomer. But I suppose Raw Giant Wheel doesn\'t have the same ring, so it\'s all good. Bischoff and a pair of showgirls introduce the show and the concept to the Salt Lake crowd. Could we see a First Blood match? How about Last Man Standing or Kiss My Ass? Well, just the fact that he mentioned them means we probably won\'t. We\'ll also see Triple H versus Goldberg for the world heavyweight title... again. Eric spins the wheel Ya Kid K style to start the party, but the familiar music of Shawn Michaels hits and HBK makes his way down the ramp. After a week of reflecting on the Survivor Series match and his supposed role in the departure of Steve Austin, Michaels has a clear conscience. He points the finger where it needs to be pointed, and that\'s straight at Bischoff and Evolution. Batista answers that accusation by coming out to the stage and claiming full responsibility for finishing the Rattlesnake by power bombing HBK. Tepmpers flare, forcing the general manager to step in. Bischoff makes a match between them, but not until Armageddon. For tonight, he notes the wheel is already stopped on Bischoff\'s Choice. How convenient. Eric decides he\'d like to see Batista and Ric Flair tag up against Michaels and long-time foe Chris Jericho. We\'re off and running.

Lita is in the ring for her match, and Bischoff is on the Titan Tron to say that having her around to torment might prove more entertaining than firing her. He allows Molly Holly to spin the wheel, which stops on a Steel Cage match.

Match 1 - Lita vs. Victoria - Steel Cage Match

Victoria gets an early taste of the steel, but she escapes a DDT and catapults Lita into the cage. A spinning sidewalk slam gives Victoria a chance to head for the door, but she can\'t make it out. Lita hits a spinning headscissors and scales the cage, and though she\'s thrown down out of the corner she manages to kick out of a pin attempt. She reverses Victoria\'s Widow\'s Peak into a clothesline but slips off the top rope and lands hard on the mat. Victoria hits a shoulderblock that leaves both women down; Lita rises and throws down a power bomb out of the corner. A moonsault gives Lita a clear path for the door, but ex-boyfriend Matt Hardy meets her there and slams the door into her face. Victoria climbs out to win the match, and Hardy climbs in to menace Lita. He\'s soon sent scurrying though, as Christian runs down to prevent further abuse.

The showgirls cozy up to Randy Orton, who wants to know what kind of match he\'ll be in tonight. It turns out Bischoff has already spun the wheel, and it just happened to land on a Legend Killer match. Say, you don\'t suppose the wheel might be rigged, do you? Eric lends some weight to my theory by saying he\'s flown in a special legend for this very match. The Hurricane and Rosey drop in to check on their match, and Bischoff says he will pit them against each other. He spins the wheel to unveil a Capture the Midget match and introduces Fernando. Whoever catches the little man first wins. Hurricane tries to refuse, but when Bischoff threatens to turn it into a Loser Gets Fired match, he has no choice but to head off in pursuit of Fernando.

Match 2 - Randy Orton vs. Sgt. Slaughter - Legend Killer Match

Jim Ross reveals that Slaughter has wrestled Orton\'s dad and grandfather and beaten them both. Too bad that was decades ago. Sarge goes for the early Cobra Clutch, forcing orton to grab the ropes for a break. Knees to the chest and a gutbuster earn Slaughter a near fall, but Orton fires back with a dropkick. Randy\'s sleeper is reversed into another Cobra Clutch, but Orton again gets to the ropes and hits the RKO to get the win. He stomps away after the bell until Rob Van Dam makes his presence felt with a step-over kick and a spinning back kick. He sets up for the Five Star Frog Splash but Orton rolls out of the ring and bids a hasty retreat.

A short recap sums up the previous two Goldberg-HHH confrontations, which both came in the last eight days. Then it\'s back to the arena for backstage shenanigans. Val Venis wants Lance Storm to play it cool with the more conservative Salt Lake women, but Hurricane and Rosey chase the midget through the area and force the two wild and crazy guys to play it off like they don\'t know them. Elsewhere, Coach congratulates Flair on his best-selling DVD box set, but the Nature Boy would rather brag about Evolution. Bischoff spins the wheel for Hardy, and it stops on a Strange Bedfellows match. Finally, Goldberg works out for his title defense. Is that a Bowflex Bill\'s using? It worked such wonders for Bill Romanowski. Wink, wink.

Match 3 - Bubba Ray Dudley and Garrison Cade vs. Matt Hardy (Ver. 1.0) and Christian

Strange bedfellows indeed. Christian pushes Hardy right into Bubba, giving us an idea about how their teamwork is going to go. Hardy escapes trouble and makes a hard tag to his reluctant partner, who gets a sidewalk slam from Dudley and a bulldog from Cade. A top-rope shoulderblock finds its mark before Cade gives way to Bubba, who hits a back body drop and a Samoan drop but misses off the top with what resembles a senton splash. Hardy refuses to tag in, leaving Christian easy prey for a Bubba Bomb. Cade tags himself in, scoring the pinfall with an elbowdrop off the top but causing a little tension between himself and Bubba over Dudley\'s tag team belt.

Michaels admits to Terri that he\'s a little concerned about the match that\'s making him team with Jericho, a man he can\'t stand. Speaking of little, HBK informs his interviewer that there\'s a midget looking up her dress. It\'s a mad, mad, mad WWE world as Terri joins the zany chase for Fernando.

Match 4 - Triple H vs. Goldberg - World Heavyweight Title Match

It\'s the match you\'ve all been waiting for... again. Flair causes an early distraction so his Evolution teammate can get an early advantage. The world champ recovers quickly and the fight rages back and forth between the ring and the floor. Helsmsley connects with a kneedrop in the ring and Flair gets in a choke with his sports jacket. The ref counts two, then Triple H sends Goldberg hard into the turnbuckle and right hands are exchanged. HHH goes up top but is quickly thrown down, and a sidewalk slam has Goldberg thinking spear. The challenger foils that thought by rolling out to the floor, but returns quickly to score a near fall with a facebuster and high knee. Triple H leaps from the middle rope but runs face first into Goldberg\'s boot. A military press and powerslam forces Flair to get involved again, but a big right hand takes care of him. Orton runs in and is quickly speared as the timekeeper rings the bell. That seems to be premature as HHH hits low blow, then a Pedigree and the ref makes a count. It\'s interrupted at two by the arrival of Kane, who still seems to have his unexplained mad-on for Goldberg that started last week. Triple H punches Kane off the apron but gets speared by Goldberg as he turns around. Kane\'s big boot gives the timekeeper a legit reason to ring the bell as the match is thrown out. Kane manhandles Goldberg for a bit before flooring him with a chokeslam.

An unhappy Triple H confronts Bischoff about his spoiled title shot, but he has to ease off a bit when Kane shows up right behind him. Backed into a corner, Bischoff declares that it will be Triple H versus Goldberg versus Kane in a Triple Threat match for the title at Armageddon, an idea that Helmsley calls \"swell.\" Did I say the show would be unpredictable earlier? I meant to say predictable. Antonyms confuse me sometimes. And look there. The midget chase continues through the parking lot.

We know Booker T is taking on Mark Henry, but we don\'t know the stipulation until the wheel is spun. It lands on Salt Lake City Street Fight, so Bischoff sends the World\'s Strongest Man to the ring with a trash can full of weapons.

Match 5 - Booker T vs. Mark Henry - Salt Lake City Street Fight

If people are really duking it out in the streets of Salt Lake City, my impression of the place is all wrong. Booker waits right beside the entrance to ambush Henry, then beats on him with a stop sign, a 2X4 and a skillet. Henry\'s response is to bend the sign and the pan, which is at least novel. Booker gets clotheslined to the floor, but he discovers a fire extinguisher under the mat and sets it off in Henry\'s face. A missile drop kick, a Spineroonie and a scissor kick follow, but that only gets Booker a two count. Henry sends Booker face first into a trash can in the corner, then follows with a conventional trash can shot to get the pin.

Trish Stratus is next to learn what the wheel has in store, and it somehow managed to land on a Bra and Panties match. Bischoff is gleeful, but Trish reminds him that her record with this particular stipulation is pretty good. That\'s unfortunate for us male fans. Jericho asks Trish if she wants him to talk to Bischoff to change the match, but she\'s more concerned with his match. She tells him not to be Bischoff\'s puppet and to \"do the right thing.\" As incentive, she hints that if he\'s good in the ring, she\'ll be good to him tonight. Ladies and gentlemen, I give to you the easiest decision of all time!

J.R. and Jerry Lawler plug the Stone Cold special on UPN Wednesday night. They bill it as the last look at Steve Austin, but that\'s like believing that the Black Album is really Jay-Z\'s last disc. Fernando jumps in J.R.\'s lap, and Ross is declared the winner of the ongoing Capture the Midget match. Alrighty then. Backstage, Bischoff spins the wheel for Van Dam and comes up with a handicap match. Orton suggests that\'s not enough for RVD, who had plenty of energy to run down and assault him earlier. Eric spins again and adds a Singapore Cane stipulation to the upcoming bout.

Match 6 - Rob Van Dam vs. Scott Steiner and Test - Singapore Cane Handicap Match

Rob puts his ECW skills to good use by getting his licks in right off the bat, but the tide turns when the heels use Stacy Keibler as a human shield. Van Dam is hit with a double cane shot and a Steiner elbowdrop for two. Test\'s next shot accidentally hits big Poppa Pump, and RVD takes flight with the Five Star. But Test\'s second time is the charm as he clobbers Van Dam from behind with the cane and gets the duke.

Despite Stratus\' wishes, Jericho attempts to dissuade Bischoff from the Bra and Panties match. Eric says Chris is falling for Trish, but he denies it. The GM wants to make sure that they are on the same page about the main event, and Jericho replies that he will \"do the right thing.\" There\'s that phrase again.

Match 7 - Miss Jackie vs. Trish Stratus - Bra and Panties Match

Before we get into this match, let me say that I got more e-mails from readers on last week\'s report than ever before, and 100 percent of them were to point out that I failed to mention that Miss Jackie popped out of her top last Monday. My bad. The truth is, I nodded off in the middle of that match and missed what many of you (most reluctantly) say was the most entertaining part of last week\'s show. Thanks for the e-mails - I vow to stay awake for this one. Trish takes an early lead by ripping off Jackie\'s top, but the Canadian soon finds herself in the tree of woe sans shirt. Rico interferes and gets his pants ripped off, revealing a disturbing pink thong. Jackie\'s errant kick puts a stop to Rico\'s dancing, and Trish rolls her up and removes her pants to win the match. Jackie takes exception with Lillian Garcia and rips her shirt off for a bonus bra.

Jericho congratulates Trish and asks if they are still on for tonight. That depends on you Chris. Again, this choice should not be difficult.

Main Event - Batista and Ric Flair vs. Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels

Flair and Michaels exchange blows until Y2J is tagged in, and he looks like he\'s going to play it straight as he mixes it up with Flair. A missile dropkick and a bulldog score in the haze left over from HBK\'s entrance pyro. The Lionsault misses and Batista tags in to hit a big spinebuster. Flair returns and goes up top to get thrown down, and the hot tag is made to HBK. A Flair thumb to the eye blinds Michaels, who manages to send Batista to the floor but also accidentally clocks Jericho. A back body drop sets up Sweet Chin Music to Flair, but Jericho gives Michaels a taste of his own superkick medicine. HBK falls across Flair and gets the three count, sending Jericho away happy because he might have fit the broadest definititon of \"doing the right thing.\" Meanwhile, Batista ends the show with a sit-pit power bomb that has Michaels spitting blood and J.R. doing his classic \"we need help out here\" bit. Now I can go to sleep.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He recently \"did the right thing\" and successfully proposed to his girlfriend of three years. Expression of amazement, congratulations or alerts for exposed breasts can be sent to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.