January 13, 2004
RAW: Orton's campaign gathers steam
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Can you feel it? That's the ground shaking as we get closer to the Royal Rumble. Trouble is, here in the land of Raw we don't know which 15 men are going to be representing this brand in the pay-per-view's signature match. Sure, we've had Booker T, Kane and a few others, but we need to get cracking to fill out the side. That process should start tonight in Long Island, and we'll also see Rob Van Dam try to take the Intercontinental Title back from Randy Orton. And we just might see Stone Cold Steve Austin zipping around on an ATV. Confused? We'll try to catch you up as Raw goes live from the Nassau Coliseum.
Match 1 - Trish Stratus and Lita vs. Jazz and Molly Holly
Normally this would be where I would make a snide remark about yet another women's tag team match, but Jazz's return and the question about whether she will play nice with Molly makes this a little more interesting. As an FYI, Coach has joined J.R. and The King on commentary again this week. He's promising an exclusive interview with Triple H and Shawn Michaels too. Lita starts things off with a head scissors and dropkick on Molly, who tags Jazz in to go to town. Lita tries to tag out but the ref misses it, giving the heels ample time to work her over. A visible tag is finally made to Trish, who uses the Matrix and a spine buster to get a near fall on Jazz. Her handstand move is next, but Molly makes the save just in time. Theodore Long decides to interfere and Jazz is able to roll up Trish (with a handful of tights) and get the pinfall. Long steps in to help Jazz get some more shots on Stratus, but Chris Jericho runs down to help his unrequited crush. He's about to lock Long in the Walls of Jericho when Mark Henry arrives and puts a forceful end to that idea.
He's Matt Hardy, and he's upset about people stealing his spotlight. First it was his brother Jeff, then his girlfriend Lita and now it's Steve Austin. Berating the Board of Directors for allowing Austin to return, Hardy thinks it is Stone Cold who is keeping him off the show. He goes on to suggest that Austin's new role as sheriff is just a co-GM who can also beat on people, but the Rattlesnake himself rides his four-wheeler to the ring to dispute that notion. Austin says his job is merely to enforce the law, then offers Hardy a chance to get some of the action he's been craving by taking on the sheriff right there in the ring. Matt declines, stating his desire to wrestle different people and unique matches. Stone Cold makes an open call to the back for someone who has never wrestled Hardy to accept his challenge, and it is answered by Goldberg.
Match 2 - Matt Hardy (Ver. 1.0) vs. Goldberg
Hardy jumps the bell but is easily repulsed. He soon finds himself on the wrong end of a pump handle overhead suplex, but does rally to hit the Side Effect. No matter, as Goldberg counters a Twist of Fate with a gorilla press slam and goes on to put his foe away with a spear and Jackhammer. Guess Hardy better take that into consideration when he upgrades to Version 2.0. Amazingly, that's the first time I've used that lame joke since Hardy showed up on Raw. Ahem, anyway, Goldberg grabs a mic and says he's returned with a purpose, since he's announcing his entry in the Royal Rumble. After he wins, he's planning on heading to WrestleMania to win back his world title. Just so you know.
Furious GM Eric Bischoff confronts Austin about Goldberg, who Bischoff deactivated for 30 days a few weeks back. Stone Cold fires back that since Bischoff never filled out the proper paperwork, Goldberg was never really deactivated. Or another way to look at it would be to say he was in Japan. In any case, Bischoff informs Austin that only the GM can make matches, the Last Man Standing bout between Triple H and Shawn Michaels at the Rumble being the exception. The Rattlesnake says that's fine with him as long as Bischoff doesn't piss him off.
Orton's 'political' ad from last week calling Mick Foley a coward airs again. Man, this Orton movement is really picking up steam. Look out Howard Dean! Young Randy addresses some further comments to Mick, saying that he's leaving a front row ticket for him so he can rectify his act of cowardice. A front row ticket? Hmm, I have to have a flannel shirt in here somewhere? As an amusing aside, Orton twice says 'start what I finish' when he means to say 'finish what I start.'
Match 3 - D-Von Dudley vs. Batista
I guess this is a necessary evil to further the feud between the Dudleys and Evolution over the tag titles. Batista clocks D-Von before the bell, then sends him hard into the corner and hits a suplex for a pair of near falls. D-Von stages a brief comeback with a top rope head butt as Bubba and Ric Flair get into it on the outside. Eventually, Batista wins the match with his tiger bomb, and Flair gets a table from under the ring. Bubba revives and attempts to put Flair through the table until Batista bails out his partner. No harm, no foul.
Backstage, Orton reveals that he has hired a limo to pick Mick up outside his house and drive him to the arena. Man, it pays to be a coward these days. Elsewhere, Long tells Henry and Jazz that Bischoff admitted he hung Long out to dry last week, but is making up for it by booking Henry to face Jericho tonight. Still elsewhere, Goldberg bumps into Scott Steiner, who reminds big G that he has never beaten him. Goldberg offers to take him on tonight, but Steiner gives him a week to get back to 100 percent - he already wrestled Hardy tonight. Of course, that officially makes Steiner next. And Coach says it's time for his exclusive interview, right after a word from our sponsors.
Now it's time. Coach brings out Triple H, then Michaels, who quickly removes all of the furniture and serves notice that this will not be a sit-down. Coach asks how they became such good friends back in the DX days, and while HBK doesn't want to rehash the past, the world champ does. Trips says that despite the perception that he was Michaels' lackey, he really held up the Heartbreak Kid. Michaels fires back by saying that he had to drag the wagon by himself until his back gave out, at which point Helmsley stepped in to drag it. Begging to differ, Triple H suggests that the only reason Michaels even came back from his serious back injury was because he was jealous of the success the WWE had while he was out. Now though, it's no longer about the past, simply which man is the best. The champ gives some rare credit by calling Michaels one of the top performers of all time, but says he is just that much better. He goes on to state that he doesn't care if their Last Man Standing match is decided by one second, as that's all he'll need to prove he's better. HBK agrees that this might have all come down to one second, but a lot can happen in that time - and he punctuates his point by suddenly dropping Coach with some Sweet Chin Music. All that's left is the tense staredown. Ready? Begin!
Match 4 - Booker T vs. Kane
Uh-oh, Booker is coming out to his song from the WWE Originals CD out tomorrow. That's never good. Book gets in some early shots, but Kane almost beheads him with a clothesline. A drop toehold and a series of kicks is Booker's response, though it's not enough to knock the monster off his feet. Kane takes the fight to the floor, where he repeatedly sends Booker into the steps. For some reason, that gets the ref to call for the bell. Yes, using the steps as a weapon is technically illegal, but I bet they get used in that fashion in 67 percent of WWE matches. To express his displeasure, Kane drags Booker back into the ring and nails him with a Tombstone.
Another Orton ad runs. Just keep those donations coming folks, and we'll have the Legend Killer in the White House yet.
Match 5 - Mark Henry vs. Chris Jericho
I'm sorry to say, I nodded off during this match. Call it a consequence of playing a roller hockey game before doing the Raw report. Anyway, Trish tries to help Jericho ward off Jazz, but the help sort of backfires and Henry wins the match. This much I know.
Stacy Keibler tells Trish that whether she believes him or not, it appears that Jericho really does have some feelings for her. Knowing that, Stacy thinks Trish owes it to him to be straight about her own feelings, whatever they may be. Speaking of Jericho, he's busy sulking when Christian drops by his locker room. He thinks Trish is trying to get back at Jericho by costing him matches. Christian offers a night on the town with some of the peeps, and the two Canadians depart. Wouldn't you know it, Trish chooses that moment to have her talk with Y2J and she just misses him. Catch further developments all this week on the Soap Network.
Evolution waits in the parking area for Foley's limo to return, and Triple H promises to personally escort Mick to his seat when he arrives. He also tells Orton that his teammates have his back against Rob Van Dam, but Austin drives up and threatens to run them over if they interfere. Those crazy donuts he's doing on the ATV might just show he's being sincere.
Main Event - Randy Orton vs. Rob Van Dam - Intercontinental Title Match
Orton ducks out but Van Dam quickly gives chase. He drags the champ out of the ring and quickly goes to work, bloodying Orton on the ringpost. A spinning leg drop on the retaining wall connects just as we cut to the back to see the return of the limo. And we have to head to a commercial too. Van Dam is getting the worst of it after the break, taking a beating on the outside and suffering from several submission holds in the ring. RVD finally fights his way out of a body scissors by countering with a catapult, then launches into a flurry of moves that ends with a Northern Lights suplex and a near fall. A leg drop and Rolling Thunder get another two, then a springboard moonsault gets yet another. Rob eventually goes for one kick too many and nails the ref when Orton ducks. A low blow by the champ leads to a neck breaker, but the ref is still out. Orton plays possum so the reviving ref will start a ten count, but his attempt at an RKO is countered with a kick to the face. Rob goes for the pin but Randy just kicks out in time. Van Dam looks for the Five Star Frog Splash, but Orton crotches him and yanks him out of the corner to pin him with a wicked DDT. Orton retains his title but never gets full satisfaction since Foley never showed up. That's all she wrote for this week.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. This week, he's giving you an unprecedented opportunity to get in on the action. Simply submit a description of what he missed when he slept through the Henry-Jericho match to email@example.com. The best ones will run next week.