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RAW: Brock makes an appearance
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


That Mick Foley sure can take a beating. Upon his return from retirement several weeks ago, Mick's feud with superstar heel of the future Randy Orton has consisted mostly of Foley doing what he does best. Unfortunately, what Foley does best is get the snot beat out of him for the world to see, and that was certainly the case last Monday when a rough estimate had half of the show devoted to Evolution pounding Mick. Or at least it seemed that way. Since logic dictates Foley will be out of action to sell that beating, expect tonight's show from the brand spanking new Qwest Center in Omaha, Nebraska to focus on the growing tension between world champion Triple H and his two challengers, Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels. Spike TV proudly presents this latest edition of Raw.

The fun begins with a recap of the Benoit-Michaels scuffle from last week. It's a long recap, and I'm not going to bore you by writing about it. We also learn that Benoit will face Batista tonight, and we'll get Mick's reaction to his beating in an interview with J.R. I imagine his first reaction was something like this: ouch.

Match 1 -- Lita vs. Victoria vs. Jazz vs. Molly Holly -- Fatal Four-Way Elimination Women's Title Match

As I am usually an outspoken critic of the way they book the women's division, I am pleasantly surprised to see the gold on the line tonight without making the challengers jump through all kinds of hoops to get their shot. Victoria has some trouble throwing defending champ Molly out of the ring, but they persist with the spot successfully, and Victoria almost catches Jazz sleeping with a quick roll-up. Lita fares better, as she escapes a suplex and nails a DDT to pin and eliminate Jazz. Molly quickly hits a neckbreaker for a two count on Lita, but she gets attacked in turn by Victoria, who uses a bridging pin to put away the champ. Yep, the gold is going to change hands now. Molly can't believe it, and two refs have to drag her away as the show heads for a commercial break. We return to find Lita firmly in charge, scoring with a headscissors takedown and a neckbreaker, though Victoria manages to kick out. She presses on with some offense of her own, eventually hitting Lita with the coolest looking women's finisher, the Widow's Peak. Lita's not getting up from that, and Victoria is your new women's champ.

A limo pulls up to drop Vince McMahon off at the arena. The Coach is in the back with Eric Bischoff, who's a bit nervous because he's apparently going to face his boss in the ring tonight. Christian breaks the tension by stopping in to request a tag team title shot for him and Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, but Bischoff has other plans for Y2J. Making reference to Jericho's time in WCW, the general manager speaks of his dislike for the Canadian, who's off tonight's show due to his 'knee injury.' Christian will have a match, however, against none other than Trish Stratus.

Match 2 -- Randy Orton vs. Val Venis

You know those times when you honestly forgot a guy was on the roster until he comes out to wrestle? That's the way I feel about Venis. Now where's Lance Storm? Venis comes out firing in this non-title affair, but Orton eventually turns the tide and focuses on Val's back. The Intercontinental champ even uses a bow-and-arrow submission ... it's been a while since I've seen one of those. All the while, he mocks Foley, and the crowd gives it right back to him with numerous 'Foley' chants. Venis hits a slam and a spinebuster but can't take advantage thanks to his ailing back, and he is quickly tossed down when he goes up top for his finisher. Orton whips Venis into the corner and hits the RKO to get the pin. Cough, Diamond Cutter, cough! Sorry, had something stuck in my throat there.

It's time for a stroll down memory lane. Video is shown from the bygone days of 1998, with Bischoff challenging Vince to a confrontation at a WCW pay-per-view. A younger Eric shows off his karate skills with the nWo logo in the background. Ah, memories. Back in the present, Bischoff freaks on Coach for the unauthorized video, since it's only going to make Vince more upset. It turns out that Coach didn't order the video -- Steve Austin did. Raw's resident sheriff tells Eric to relax, since he's 25 years younger than Vince and knows karate. And besides, who else has made out with Vince's daughter and wife and lived to tell about it? Bischoff eases up and begins to talk about his other fantasy involving Stephanie when he senses a disturbance in the Force. Vince is standing right behind him and he does not look pleased. He threatens that the match between the two of them will not be a fantasy, but Stone Cold says Eric has Vince right where he wants him. Ever the optimist, that Stone Cold ...

Elsewhere, Evolution whips Batista into a frenzy in preparation for his bout with Benoit, not that he needs much whipping. Triple H informs the group that he wants to say a few words in the ring first, and he wants all of them to be there when he does. Why do I get the feeling that those are going to turn into a few hundred words?

As promised, Evolution gathers in the ring. The world champ says that he was upset when the announcement was made that he would be facing both Benoit and Michaels at Mania, and he was upset about it. 'Was' is the operative word. All it took was Ric Flair to remind him of how great he is and his confidence magically returned. He taunts the fans by saying the game will not be over at Madison Square Garden and that he will rise to the occasion to keep his title. That bit of boasting brings Benoit to the bottom of the ramp for a few words of his own. The Crippler says he's heard Triple H run his mouth a lot and the time for talk was over. The champ challenges Benoit to back up his own tough talk by stepping in the ring, which is a lot easier to say when your three buddies are standing beside you. Incredibly, Benoit steps in ... but not without grabbing a steel chair for assistance first. Even with the equalizer, numbers turn against Benoit, but help arrives in the form of Shawn Michaels. HBK grabs the chair and helps run off all of Evolution, but all he gets for thanks is some painful time in the Crippler Crossface. Triple H loves it, at least until Sheriff Austin adds to the chaos by riding down on his four-wheeler. The Rattlesnake restores order by asking for the Benoit-Batista match to start right away and warning anyone who interferes that they will not make it to WrestleMania. That, as you know, is the bottom line.

Match 3 -- Chris Benoit vs. Batista

The action is already underway after the break and Benoit is in charge, chopping away. Batista powers his way out of a Sharpshooter attempt and hits a hard shoulderblock, followed by numerous elbowdrops and a form of bearhug. He extends that into a half crab as Jerry Lawler chirps his approval. Is it just me, or is The King reinforcing his heel announcer role more obviously now? Anyway, Batista hits a big clothesline and covers; Benoit gets his foot on the ropes. Another near fall leads to a desperation counter with a German suplex, and Benoit rises to hit three more Germans. The throat slash (Paul Tagliabue will be calling about a fine) has Benoit up top for his diving headbutt, but Batista rolls out of the way. The Evolution monster goes for his power bomb finisher, but in a nice spot, Benoit slides down his arm and locks on the Crippler Crossface, though not without a good fight from his victim. Batista taps for the first time in his career, leaving the Wolverine triumphant.

Austin tells Bischoff to relax and have a beer, and he doesn't like the defeatist attitude he's seeing. What happened to the man who led Nitro to ratings wins over Raw for 83 weeks back in the Monday Night War days? Oh, and by the way, that DVD just happens to be available for purchase. Austin outlines Bischoff's three choices: walk out on the match and get fired, lose the match and get fired anyway or turn back into the man who whipped Raw for 83 straight weeks and beat Vince's ass. Remember, that was 83 straight weeks. (Buy the DVD in our SLAM! Wrestling store!)

Match 4 -- Rob Van Dam and Booker T vs. La Resistance

Like Orton, the new tag champs don't have to put their gold on the line tonight. A cool early spot sees Van Dam hold Rene Dupree high for Booker to deliver a jumping sidekick. Rob Conway gets involved by tripping Booker and battling him on the outside. Booker fights off numerous double teams back inside the ring and finally lunges for the hot tag to RVD. His flurry of offense includes Rolling Thunder on Conway, and Booker adds to the pain with a Bookend and a scissor kick. Van Dam drops in with a Five Star Frog Splash and pins Conway, but the win is not without controversy. Wasn't Dupree actually the legal man? They'll be talking about that around the water cooler this week in Omaha.

Trish visits Christian, and neither one of them seems happy with the match. Proving that chivalry isn't dead, Christian offers to lie down for Trish to get the pin. But proving that slimy advances aren't dead, Christian wants to know if Trish will lay down for him tonight. Stratus is repulsed, and even though Christian plays it off like a joke -- like he's testing Trish to see if he's loyal to his 'buddy' Jericho -- we all know Austin didn't nickname him the CLB for nothing.

A video package details the assault on Foley last Monday. You just know the segment was long when even the recap package seems to take forever. Next we move to J.R.'s videotaped interview with Mick, who's looking a bit the worse for wear. My fiance makes a funny when she wonders aloud why this time filler couldn't have been on Heat instead. That's hilarious Diane! I explain that it very well might have been on Heat too, but only the poor guy who recaps the show for WWE.com knows because he's the only one watching. Um, anyway, Ross asks the sensible question and wants to know why Foley didn't just stay down. Instinct is the answer, plus Mick says he didn't know the beating was going on for that long. Trust me Mick, we knew. I actually put my pen down last week and stopped taking notes because of the way it was dragging. Mick also wants to know where his 'friends' in the locker room were, since no one came out to help him. I guess Van Dam and Booker were already out on the town celebrating their tag team titles. Ross closes by asking if we can assume that Foley's career is over, but Mick says we can assume that he will be looking for revenge beginning next week.

Match 5 -- Trish Stratus vs. Christian

Christian lies down as promised, but his true colors show when he kicks out at two. He gets into a shouting match with Trish and then takes the blonde bombshell down hard with a clothesline. Christian uses the Walls of Jericho to prove a point, and even though Stratus crawls for the ropes, she gets dragged back into the center of the ring and has to tap out. What a huge win for Christian! He should be climbing the ranks of contenders quickly with a victory like this.

We return from commercial to find J.R. calling the Trish incident a 'tragedy.' Hey, she was mouthing off, she got what she deserved. Since I have no female readers, I can say that with no threat of bodily harm. And Mom, if you're checking in on the column this week, it was a joke. Coach is outside the bathroom, assuming Bischoff is in there throwing up. But Austin's pep talk must have worked, for it's a confident Eric Bischoff that emerges. And he looks so cute in that karate outfit.

Main Event -- Vince McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff

Yes folks, it's been building since the Monday Night Wars, which coincidentally, are covered in full detail by the new DVD. For the love of all that's good, go buy the DVD! As Adult Swim would say, only you can stop the pimping. Before the match, though, Vince has a big WrestleMania announcement. And before that, Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie come to the ring. They want to prove they are the hottest pair of divas at WrestleMania, and they give Vince a little sneak preview. He's so impressed that he books a Tag Team Evening Gown Match for the big pay-per-view. That, my friends, is why tickets sold out in minutes. Figuring we might as well get all Mania business out of the way right now, Kane heads down to the ring. He's a little miffed about the constant Undertaker related imagery from the past few shows, and he wants his brother in the ring in New York. His wish is granted, making SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown writer Dale Plummer mark out like an eight year-old in anticipation of the return of the Dead Man gimmick. Finally, Vince gets to his big announcement. He teases a match between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, but says he reconsidered when he thought about how hard it would be to control the two goliaths. He's about to announce the match cancelled when Sheriff Austin rides out. Heck, just have everyone from the back come out and let's get this over with. Austin tells Vince that if his problem is control, he just needs the right guest referee: Austin. Vince wants to know what's in it for the Rattlesnake, who replies that it is none of his business. Satisfied, McMahon officially announces Lesnar versus Goldberg with Austin as the special referee. And he can get some practice tonight, as Vince tells him to stay on and referee the Monday Night War. The 'match' is mostly Vince no-selling Eric's karate moves and Bischoff running like mad. Austin intervenes a couple of times when Vince breaks the rules, which finally frustrates McMahon enough that he shoves Austin. Stone Cold drops him with a right, giving Bischoff his only real control of the bout. He's soon forced to retreat to the outside again, though, with Austin looking on from the ring. But who's that behind him' It's Lesnar! Brock crushes Austin with an F-5, adding to the intrigue at Mania as Raw says goodbye to Omaha. Buy the DVD!


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. The lateness of his recent reports have something to do with time distortions caused by a black hole ripping apart a star in the RXJ1242-11 galaxy, which can be viewed here. E-mail him with your thoughts on how this affects our understanding of astrophysics as ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.