March 2, 2004
Raw: Rock and Sock return
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling

There was a time, not that many years ago, that Raw wouldn't be coming to you from Atlanta, as it does tonight. At the time, Atlanta was the home base for Vince McMahon's chief competition, WCW. In 2004, of course, Vince can run Raw pretty much anywhere he wants. That brings us to tonight's offering from the Peach State, where the card for WrestleMania XX will solidify right before our eyes. And there are some rumors that a certain wrestler/actor will be making an appearance as well. Intrigued? Then read on, as Raw lights up Atlanta, live on Spike TV.

The ubiquitous recap of last week's show kicks things off. Click here for last week's Raw report to get the same story in more detail. In the ring, La Resistance is picketing (complete with signs) the unfair decision that saw them lose to Booker T and Rob Van Dam last week when the wrong man was pinned. Unfortunately for their little protest, Sheriff Steve Austin has other ideas for the beginning of the show, and he roars down on his four-wheeler to the delight of the fans. Wasting no time, Austin doles out a Stone Cold Stunner for Rene Dupree and sends Rob Conway hustling away in retreat. Strange, I always figured Austin as a pro-labor guy. Stone Cold addresses his treatment at the hands of Brock Lesnar last Monday, saying the behemoth pissed him off. But Austin is unfazed, and he promises to open a can on Lesnar, Goldberg or both men when he referees their match at Mania. And that's the bottom... Vince's music interrupts the famous catchphrase and the Chairman of the Board hits the stage. He calls Austin a lousy referee and says that while he had nothing to do with Lesnar's surprise appearance, he's not so sure Eric Bischoff didn't have a hand in it. Furthermore, he wouldn't be surprised if Lesnar and Goldberg join forces in beating the tar out of the Sheriff at Madison Square Garden. Vince goes on to make fun of Austin's ATV, which is something you just shouldn't do. The Rattlesnake suggests that Vince haul ass, then takes off up the ramp on his four-wheeler as McMahon runs for his life.

It looks like Vince should have run just a bit faster, as Austin has him dead to rights backstage. McMahon begs for Stone Cold not to run him over, then attempts to take refuge in his limo. Come on man, that's not going to stop Austin! Steve rides his ATV over the front of the limo and brings it to a stop on top of the sunroof, threatening McMahon as he cowers inside. That's funny stuff. Finally, Austin rides back into the arena and McMahon orders the limo driver to get him out of there.

Match 1 - Victoria and Lita vs. Jazz and Molly Holly

Victoria seems pleased as punch to be the new women's champ, though former titleholder Molly Holly isn't quite as cheery. She shoves Jazz and manager Theodore Long to try to get at Victoria, so they decide to pay the ingrate back by taking off, effectively turning this into a handicap match. The distraction leads to a quick pin for Victoria, but Holly continues her assault, slamming her foe into the stairs and brawling outside the ring. A gaggle of refs comes to pull them apart, but not before Holly pulls out a chunk of Victoria's hair.

A video recap details the contract signing fiasco from three weeks ago and the Chris Benoit-Shawn Michaels beef from last week. Back in the present, Coach asks HBK if he and Benoit can co-exist tonight, as they are scheduled to tag up to face Randy Orton and Batista. The short answer: Shawn doesn't think they can. Elsewhere, Bischoff meets Johnny Blaze, a.k.a. John Hennigan, winner of Tough Enough 3. The newbie claims he's ready to bust out on Raw, and he makes a good first impression by kissing up to Bischoff. That's always a good way to get ahead, especially in the WWE. An angry Austin bursts in, though Bischoff swears he had nothing to do with the Lesnar attack. Before they can discuss the matter further, Molly storms in and demands a title match with Victoria at WrestleMania, saying she'll do anything to get it. Bischoff is willing to make the match, but the chunk of hair Holly still clutches inspires Austin. He wants Molly to put something on the line, namely her hair. Reluctantly, Holly agrees that if she loses the Mania match, she'll agree to be shaved.

Match 2 - Hurricane and Rosey vs. Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade

There's actually something at stake here, as the winner goes on to participate in the Fatal Four-Way match for the tag team belts at WrestleMania. Rosey and the 'Cane have things rolling early with some nice teamwork, but Jindrak responds with a hanging suplex for a near fall and Cade gets in on the fun with a scoop slam. Back in the 80's that might have ended the match, but not in this century! Rosey hits a Samoan drop on Cade, and then goes up top where Jindrak promptly knocks him right back down. Cade covers and pulls the tights to get the pinfall, propelling the young tag team to NYC.

The Coach wants Benoit's side of the story, asking the Crippler if he can trust HBK. Not surprisingly, Benoit feels that he can only trust himself. In the ring, Rico introduces Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie, who are going to take on Torrie Wilson and Sable in a cross-promotional Evening Gown Match at Mania. The young ladies look stunning in evening gowns, but the segment is starting to drag as Rico admires their beauty. Thankfully, Kane, who's been making a habit of interrupting people for the last month or so, puts the rambling to an end. Rico bravely tries to fend off the Big Red Machine but is quickly dispatched by a chokeslam. Kane asks the fans if they are expecting a resurrection at WrestleMania, but he promises to make the Dead Man rest in peace. The lights go out once again, with the bell ringing and eerie music playing, but this time there's a new twist: burning Undertaker logos on both sides of the Titan Tron.

Now Coach has Benoit and Michaels together, and that can only lead to trouble. The two faces are about to come to blows when Shawn's music hits, suggesting that their match is about to begin. They decide to table their issue for the time being.

Match 3 - Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit vs. Evolution (Randy Orton and Batista)

HBK and the Wolverine continue to have words, eventually deciding that Benoit will start out against Batista. The first tag goes off peacefully, and Michaels slides out of the corner and crotches Batista on the post. Shawn punches his way out of a power bomb attempt, but Batista whips him hard into the corner and tags in Orton, who hits a dropkick for two. A fistdrop gets another near fall before Batista returns, but his choke lift is countered with a DDT and Michaels crawls over to make a tag. Benoit fails on a Sharpshooter but has more luck with his Crippler Crossface. HBK's attempt to cut off Orton backfires when Randy knocks him into Benoit, breaking up the hold. Chris takes exception and is laid out by Michaels. Time for a commercial. We return to find Benoit in a series of Orton submission holds - shocking, I know - but the Crippler finally escapes thanks to an enzuigiri. Michaels gets the hot tag and does his thing, and an already hot crowd takes it up one more notch when he warms up the band. Batista puts a stop to that with a vicious clothesline from the apron, though Benoit quickly takes him out in turn. Benoit climbs in the corner and gets "accidentallyî crotched by his partner, who has Batista down on the canvas. Shawn covers and looks like he'll get the three when Benoit breaks up the pin with a diving headbutt. The faces trade punches, leaving Shawn wide open to be rolled up and pinned by Orton. Benoit and Michaels continue to scrap, but they soon have more to worry about when Triple H and Ric Flair hit the ring. Hopelessly outnumbered, first Benoit, then Michaels feels the pain of a Pedigree.

All four members of Evolution are excited as they watch their work on a monitor. Their delight soon turns to incredulousness as they see Mick Foley enter the building. Orton promises to do whatever it takes to end things with the hardcore legend, and Triple H adds that he wants Mick finished tonight. Out in the ring, the props are set up for the Highlight Reel, but Christian comes down to offer up The Peep Show instead. Showing footage of his "matchî with Trish Stratus last week, Christian claims he took Trish back to his hotel after the show. Ever the nice guy, he goes on to say that he did it for his buddy Chris Jericho, since Trish ruined everything the two of them had going. As further testament to his tough love, Christian had Bischoff book him to face Jericho at WrestleMania, but the bad blood might not wait that long: Jericho is here. Y2J sprints to the stage and assaults his former friend, who is forced to kick Jericho in his injured knee just to get enough breathing room to escape. Jericho does his best Bobby Knight impression by hurling chairs up the ramp.

J.R. and The King run down the card for WM XX, including the Smackdown matches, which is a nice gesture for those of us who slave away for an evil cell phone store every Thursday night. Outside, we see someone has placed a call to have Austin's four-wheeler towed away. Inside, Triple H leaves for the evening, trusting his teammates to take care of Foley.

Main Event - Rob Van Dam and Booker T vs. Matt Hardy (Ver. 1.0) and Test

Yes, the fourth match is indeed the final one of the night. Hardy and Test have their moments early, but Booker eventually takes control. He needs a couple tries to get Test with a scissor kick, and then Van Dam flies with a Five Star Frog Splash to finish him off. The cover by Booker makes this one short and sweet.

Foley gets himself ready by taping up his wrists. He looks pretty angry, kind of like Bill Murray did when Sean Penn won the Academy Award instead of him. Also, the announcers tell us that the final spot in the tag team four-way dance will be up for grabs next week... on Heat. No, that can't be right.

Mick makes his way to the ring to the usual "Foley" chants. His attempt to speak is immediately cut off by Evolution, who waste no time cornering our hero. Orton says they could go ahead and administer the weekly Foley beatdown, but he wants to know if they could settle it in a match at Mania instead. Cannily, Foley says there will never be a one-on-one match between the two of them, and he's frankly getting a bit tired of three-on-one beatings. Instead, he's got a counter-offer: a match between Evolution (minus Triple H) and Foley with a partner of his choosing. The crowd seems to have an idea who this might be, as their chants are running together and sound like either "Focky" or "Roley." Orton plays it well by acknowledging the fans and saying he's heard the rumors. He tells Foley to call "Mr. Walking Tall" and tell him that neither he nor Mick will be walking after WrestleMania. Foley has a better idea, suggesting that Orton deliver that message to his partner's face. You see, even though Mick promised to be at Raw this week, he didn't promise to come alone... The crowd goes into a frenzy as The Rock's music hits and the People's Champ (sporting a goatee) hits the ring at a full sprint. Quickly eliminating Flair and Batista, the Rock and Sock Connection turns its attention to Orton, taking him out with a combo of Mr. Socko and the People's Elbow. The Rock (also sporting yet another new t-shirt) promises the days of beating Foley are over, if you smell what he's cooking. Time to go folks - see you next week.

Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's looking for a Penn-Murray "Oscar on a Pole" Match to be added to the WrestleMania card. E-mail him with your predictions at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.


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