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RAW: Evolution ends Foley's 'Life'
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Although we've come to the end of the road, still I can't let go. Sorry, that was just a little Boyz II Men flashback to my high school graduation. Still, we are just about at the end of the "Road to WrestleMania" with this final installment of Raw before Madison Square Garden. And this is no ordinary start to the show, because a casket covered with dirt waits in the ring amidst rising fog and spooky music. Kane looks on from backstage, clearly not amused. Time to get this show on the road as Raw dims the lights live from Bridgeport, Connecticut.

A wary Kane slowly enters the ring to examine the casket. When he finally works up the nerve to open it, he discovers nothing but an urn inside. He angrily destroys the rest of the coffin and grabs the mic to let his brother know he is not impressed with his message from beyond. Maybe this will impress him more - as the Undertaker's bell tolls, the lights go out again and the whole ring lifts off the ground and tilts from corner to corner like an amusement park ride. The video on the Titan Tron promises that Sunday, it all begins again. Rest in peace!

Later tonight, The Rock will present Mick Foley with his own version of "This is Your Life." You may recall Mick did the same thing for Rocky a few years back. I'm sure we'll see clips of that later.

Match 1 - Garrison Cade, Mark Jindrak and La Resistance vs. Booker T, Rob Van Dam and the Dudley Boyz

This eight-man tag features all four teams that will compete in Sunday's Fatal Four-Way for the tag team titles, since the Dudleys earned their way in by beating Val Venis and Lance Storm on Heat. I'm sure you were watching and already knew that, wink, wink. Bubba opens up with near falls on both members of La Resistance, and Van Dam tags in and maintains the momentum until Rene Dupree sends his shoulder into the ringpost. Cade uses an armbar takedown to ground RVD and generally has him in trouble. He finally makes the hot tag to Booker, who hits Jindrak with a Bookend right before everyone joins the fun. Book has the scissor kick lined up, but one of the Frenchmen whacks him from the apron and Jindrak takes him down for the three count. The heel teams do a bit of shoving on the ramp as they seem not to want to share credit for the win.

Chris Jericho has Trish Stratus on the phone, checking to see if she's alright. He's about to share his feelings with her (again) when he's ambushed from behind by Christian. {Voice of Dark Helmet} I can't believe you fell for it! What's with you man? {Normal voice back} Christian gets on the line to tell Trish that he plans to leave her boyfriend in the same position at Mania that she's used to being in: on his back. Boo!

After the break, we learn that Christian fled the building to avoid retaliation. Also, The King has a pizza delivered to the announce table in a WrestleMania XX box. No, really. In the back, someone I've never seen before interviews Booker and RVD, who make the usual prediction of a win at MSG. And as predicted earlier in this very space, we get a clip from September of 1999 showing Mick's tribute to The Rock's life, back when he was in his "turn it sideways and shove it" phase. Good times.

Speaking of Rocky, he's looking mighty pleased to be here until he runs into his old nemesis The Hurricane backstage. Raw's super hero remembers beating The Rock last time they fought, but the actor shoots back that he was The Scorpion King that time and is back to being The Rock tonight. Hurricane gets in a plug when he says that he saw and enjoyed Walking Tall - Rosey got lost coming back from the concession stand and saw Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen instead. With his new goatee, Hurricane says Rocky reminds him of someone else, but can't remember who... until The Coach shows up. He mocks the People's Champ but quickly feels the sting of his wit. The Rock wishes the super heroes good lcuk in their handicap match with Evolution that's coming up next.

Match 2 - Evolution (Batista, Randy Orton and Ric Flair) vs. The Hurricane and Rosey

Flair leads it off against Hurricane, hitting a back body drop and a suplex before yielding the floor to Orton. He quickly gives way to Batista, who trashes 'Cane with power moves and knocks Rosey off the apron. One sit-out power bomb ends this contest quickly, and when Rosey comes back in after the bell he simply receives another beating. Orton grabs the mic to warn the Rock and Sock Connection that this will be their life on Sunday. It's Evolution, baby.

A quick recap takes us back seven days to the most recent tiff between Chris Benoit and Shawn Michaels. Benoit makes his way down to the ring for his match tonight.

Match 3 - Chris Benoit vs. Matt Hardy (Ver. 1.0)

The Wolverine fires off suplexes and a backbreaker for two, then he chases Hardy around the outside. Matt catches him with right hands returning to the ring and a Side Effect for his own near fall. Benoit counters a bulldog with three rolling German suplexes, and he follows them with his patented Crippler Crossface to get the submission victory. The King suggests that J.R. go ask Benoit about his state of mind headed into WrestleMania, so that's just what Ross does.

Chris tells J.R. that 18 years, his entire career, will culminate on Sunday when he steps in with two of the biggest stars in the business and walks out with the world heavyweight title. Michaels' music hits and he heads to the ring to offer his two cents. Just in case there are people who haven't been watching Raw for the last month, HBK reiterates that even though he respects Benoit, he has his own 10-year feud with Triple H that needs to be settled, and it just so happens that it has to be settled by Michaels winning the belt. Benoit says they will have to agree to disagree, but they do agree that HHH won't be leaving with his gold. Shawn says he guesses this means good luck, and the two men share a tense handshake before the champ's music hits. From the stage, Triple H makes it clear that even though he's still not happy with the terms of the match, the egos of the two challengers will be the only edge he needs to come out on top.

Foley is in the building, running into an admiring Spike Dudley backstage. Even in their brief conversation he sneaks in a cheap pop. Foley definitely is the master.

Match 4 - Lita vs. Molly Holly

Still angry over her feud with Victoria, Holly starts taking some frustrations out on Lita with a backbreaker and a rear chinlock. Lita fights out and executes a slow spinning headscissors followed by a flurry of right hands. She hits an inverted Twist of Fate that doesn't keep Holly down for three, so she sets up for another. But Molly escapes and uses a schoolboy plus some help from the ropes to get the duke. Lita looks like she will be the next victim of Mollly's hair-pulling wrath until Victoria runs in to prevent any further damage.

More hype for WrestleMania takes us back through all of the build-up for the Goldberg-Brock Lesnar match. Check out any TV report from the last two months on this very site for more details. Out in the arena, Sheriff Steve Austin walks down to the ring since his transportation of choice, his ATV, was stolen by Lesnar last week. The Rattlesnake says that since he has issues with both men, he'll call the Goldberg-Lesnar match right down the middle as the special guest referee. As for his four-wheeler, Austin says he plans to head to Atlantic City for Smackdown to get it back, but not before doing some gambling and drinking first. Hey, SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown writer Dale Plummer and I will be there too. We'll save you a spot at the blackjack table Austin!

Main Event - Chris Jericho vs. Steven Richards

Um, it's the main event in the sense that it's the last match on the show anyway. Richards actually holds his own early, but Y2J gets it going with a cool jumping kick and a bulldog. Richards evades a Lionsault but soon finds himself struggling to avoid the Walls of Jericho. Suddenly Trish's music hits, but it's Christian who walks out form the curtain. Distracted, Jericho is easily rolled up and pinned... by Stevie Richards. Oh, the humanity.

A video package shows the big class that will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania week. The obvious question is this: we're members of the wrestling media here at SLAM! Wrestling, so why didn't we get to vote? Backstage, Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie hunt for Eric Bischoff, but find his young apprentice, Johnny Spade instead. Eric is impressed with the way Johnny offers his services as a "starmaker." And finally, we get a rundown of the matches on the card for the big pay-per-view, including Tazz and Michael Cole in the studio to give us the Smackdown offerings.

It's the moment you've all been waiting for as the red carpet is down and The Rock is ready for Foley's "This is Your Life." Since Evolution has taken away his buddy's ability to smile, Rock figures this will give it back. Foley climbs in the ring amidst a shower of confetti, and Rocky gets the ball rolling by introducing the famous video clip that shows a young Foley jumping off the roof of a building during some backyard wrestling. Kids, don't try this at home. The Rock brings out an elderly woman who owns the house in question, Ms. Doris Singer. Mick remembers fondly how the woman used to serve pie to the whole neighborhood, including girls and even dogs. A repulsed Rock tries to get to the bottom of the pie-eating but just gets more disgusted when the woman says she no longer serves pie, but does leave the back door open for strudel. Rocky has no choice but to introduce another clip, which shows Jimmy Snuka's match with Don Muraco from October of 1983 when Superfly leapt from the top of the cage. By the way, Foley hitched five hours to attend that show. Snuka comes down to the ring, and though The Rock wants to talk about Jimmy's crazy incomprehensible promos, he's interrupted by Singer checking out Snuka's behind. Apparently Superfly still loves pie, so The Rock sends them off, offering to spring for a room for both of them at the Holiday Inn. Rock's final clip shows Mick's first book, Have A Nice Day, becoming a best-seller, and he has the first critic who reviewed the book come to the ring. Mick says that the guy in question, a Bob Thompson, actually hated the book, but Rocky says it's okay because he was brought here to remind Mick of all the people who said he couldn't make it. Rock starts to change his tune when Thompson disses Walking Tall, calling it a walking piece of crap. To the delight of the fans, Mr. Socko takes care of the critic. There's no time to celebrate though, as the inevitable Evolution assault catches our heroes off guard. Rock tastes a Batista power bomb and Mick gets stomped into a corner as Raw signs off from snowy Connecticut. Just six days until WrestleMania XX!


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's planning on outdoing Austin by being the special referee for the Evening Gown match at MSG.