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   Tue, March 23, 2004



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RAW: Draft day an unpredictable night
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


The idea that a night is going to be historic is a bit overplayed, especially on Raw. Still, this is shaping up to be one of the shows where history might actually be made. In case you're just joining us, Vince McMahon has promised to shake up both Raw and Smackdown with a draft lottery tonight from Detroit's Joe Louis Arena.

Don't ask me exactly how it will work, but suffice it to say that the rosters of both shows will look a bit different when the night is through. Both sets of announcers are ready to call the show, and I kind of feel like SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer should be here with me. Change is in the air tonight on Raw, live on Spike TV.

Both locker rooms are representing their respective brands with Raw wrestlers sporting red logo shirts and the Smackdown guys and gals wearing blue. Vince tells Raw GM Eric Bischoff and Smackdown boss Paul Heyman (sporting a neck brace thanks to last Thursday's assault by The Undertaker) how this is going to work: everyone's name from both rosters will be put into a rotating drum. Bischoff will pick from the Smackdown drum, Heyman from the Raw drum - six picks each. If the GMs don't like the picks, they have until midnight tonight to put together trades. Everyone is eligible, including people like Randy Orton (who's having his tonsils taken out) and, despite Bischoff's protests, each show's titleholders. But the big question is, could I be drafted to start doing Smackdown reports?

Let the fun begin. Bischoff and Heyman make their way out on stage as Paul hears it from a partisan crowd. After promising to take care of The Undertaker this Thursday on his own show, Heyman makes the first pick of the night. He announces that one of Raw's premier teams is getting broken up, and though Evolution looks scared, he's talking about La Resistance's Rene Dupree. Michael Cole and Tazz put over their new acquisition as a talent for the future and they might be right - he's only 20 years old. Dupree comes to the stage waving his French flag, then proceeds to the ring. Rene has no intention of letting a Stunner from Stone Cold Steve Austin remain as his last memory of Raw, so he challenges anyone from Raw's roster to a match. Hey, there has to be some wrestling tonight amidst the drafting. The challenge is quickly answered by one Chris Jericho.

Match 1 - Rene Dupree vs. Chris Jericho

Still smarting from Trish's heel turn at WrestleMania, Y2J takes his anger out on Dupree with a back elbow that sends him flying. An early try for the Walls of Jericho fails, so Jericho uses a springboard dropkick to send his foe to the floor. Dupree fights back with a dropkick of his own when the action returns to the ring, and he manages several near falls in-between his French Tickler dance. Jericho kicks out one more time after a clothesline, then uses a drop toehold to guillotine Dupree on the middle rope. An enzuigiri seals up the victory for Jericho. A furious Dupree demands respect after getting "cheated" but all he gets is an appearance from Sheriff Austin. The Rattlesnake offers a handshake in the middle of the ring, then he shows his fangs with a kick to the stomach and a Stunner. Au revoir Rene!

Rico and Miss Jackie wait in the ring. Who knows why, and who cares? It's time for Raw's first pick. Bischoff steps to the the drum, but not before he razzes Heyman, saying that Mr. McMahon knows which brand is better because he decided to hold the draft lottery on Raw. The fans chant for John Cena, but the pick is Shelton Benjamin. Bischoff has a Raw t-shirt and cap waiting on the stage - like it was an actual sports draft. One problem: it's not Benjamin who comes out. It's Kane!

Match 2 - Rico vs. Kane

Martial arts kicks can't stop the Big Red Machine. Shrugging off the blows like one of the zombies from Dawn of the Dead, Kane uses a big boot and chokeslam to end Rico's night. Blink and you missed it. When Kane goes back up the ramp, he calls both GM's over to deliver an important message. He says he doesn't care if he switches shows or not, he just doesn't want to be on the same show as The Undertaker. Message delivered.

Heyman steps up to pick again, and he teases that he's broken up another group. Evolution dodges another bullet because it's Mark Jindrak who's heading for Thursday nights. And apparently there will be more wrestling tonight, as J.R. and The King promote a world tag team title match between champions Booker T and Rob Van Dam and challengers Ric Flair and Batista.

Raw is on the clock, and Bischoff selects... Nidia. Oh boy. The announcers put over how she can compete for the women's title on Raw, and Lawler becomes an immediate fan when she takes off her blue t-shirt to slip into her new Raw shirt. Heyman is about to take his turn when he's interrupted by the arrival of U.S. champ John Cena. Spurred on by the crowd, Cena kicks a little rap dissing both general managers. Before he leaves, he selects a name for Heyman to use as the third pick. Paul doesn't think it should count, but Bischoff insists that the name Cena drew should count. Heyman finally relents, while Bischoff learns the hard way that he should be careful what he wishes for. Triple H is headed to Smackdown!

After the commercial break, we find out that the Raw locker room wasn't too sad to see HHH leaving. Cole and Tazz are working themselves into a frenzy, and why shouldn't they? The power of nepotism will soon be on full display.

Match 3 - Christian vs. Spike Dudley

Little Spike seeks revenge for a beating he received at Christian's hands last Monday, and he fires out of the gate with a headbutt and a quick two count. He reverses a couple of moves into more near falls and even hits a high cross body from the top rope to the floor. His patented stomp almost puts Christian away, but Spike goes for one move too many looking for the Dudley Dog and is thrown hard into the ringpost. Christian nails the Unprettier to get the duke.

Raw needs to make its third pick, but Bischoff is still whining about the loss of Triple H. So is Lawler for that matter. Eric finds Vince backstage to plead his case, but Vince says once a pick is announced there's nothing he can do. More like nothing he will do - he's the Chairman of the Board for Pete's sake. Unable to resist rubbing more salt in the wound, Heyman drops in with the idea to let his WWE champ Eddie Guerrero defend his strap tonight against his newest acquisition, HHH. Vince loves the idea, and it motivates Eric to announce something a little rash. Bischoff declares that his next pick in the lottery will face Chris Benoit for the world heavyweight title tonight. The pick is made, and it's hometown boy Rhyno.

Match 4 - Booker T and Rob Van Dam vs. Evolution (Ric Flair and Batista) - World Tag Team Title Match

All four men work in the opening minutes, with RVD finally getting the upper hand with a cross body on Batista for two. Rob tags in Booker and catapults Batista into his partner's kick for another near fall, and Flair quickly tags back in. Ric is chopped into his famous face-first fall but soon recovers and has his offense rolling. Going up top proves to be too much though, and he's thrown down as usual. Van Dam hits the Five Star Frog Splash, but Batista makes sure there's no pin and the match continues after a commercial break. And we're back. Booker fights his way out of a submission by Batista, hitting a desperation kick and tagging out. He holds Batista up for a flying kick from RVD, but Flair is Johnny on the spot to break up the cover. The Nature Boy tags in and hits a chop block, then he goes to work on Rob's legs. The Figure Four is applied, and Van Dam finally manages to drag himself to the ropes. Booker gets the hot tag and runs wild, ending his flurry with a scissor kick. Flair breaks the pin again but gets Rolling Thunder for his trouble. With Flair disposed of, RVD leaps with a jumping kick but accidentally hits Booker instead of Batista. One sit-out power bomb later and we have new tag team champions of the world.

No time to fret over the defeat, because Heyman's fourth pick sends Rob Van Dam himself over to Smackdown. Coach drops the news on RVD as he and Booker discuss a rematch in the back. I guess not.

Match 5 - Chris Benoit vs. Rhyno - World Heavyweight Title Match

The Raw title match doesn't even get top billing on its own show? Someone tell me how that makes sense. Back and forth action marks the first few minutes, and the challenger eventually takes control by dropping the champ face first on the top turnbuckle. Rhyno tries a Sharpshooter to no avail, and the move doesn't work for Benoit either. Three rolling German suplexes and a flying headbutt all find their mark, but Rhyno kicks out and hits a vicious spinebuster. He lines up a Gore but Benoit dodges and locks in the Crippler Crossface. Rhyno's big opportunity ends with him tapping out to the world champ.

Shawn Michaels wants to talk business with Bischoff. Since his issue with Triple H is not over, he pulls a Terell Owens and demands a trade to Smackdown. Bischoff has another idea, saying he'll give HBK a world title shot in the main event at the next Raw pay-per-view, Backlash. Michaels says that works for him, as the best way to get back at Trips would be to win his beloved world title.

Someone must have told the GMs that time is running low, because the last five picks fly fast and furious. To recap:

Raw pick # 4: Tajiri

Smackdown pick # 5: Theodore Long

Raw pick # 5: Edge (much to Heyman's chagrin)

Smackdown pick # 6: Spike Dudley (also to Heyman's dismay)

And the last pick just might be the most interesting of all, as Bischoff pulls the name and finds it's... Paul Heyman. Eric gloats that washing cars and doing laundry might be in Paul's future, but the man who built ECW won't give him the pleasure: he quits. The stunning turn of events has Bischoff bragging in the ring, but some old entrance music cuts him off. Edge is back! The fans seem happy to see him, but he must not be so happy to see Bischoff, because he leaves his new boss flat on his back with a spear.

Main Event - Triple H vs. Eddie Guerrero - WWE Title Match

This just doesn't seem right. Tazz and Cole are calling a Smackdown main event on Raw. Eddie offers a handshake in the middle of the ring but pulls back his hand - the mind games have begun. HHH starts off with a hard shoulderblock, but the champ responds with a series of armdrags and armbars. Trips gets to the ropes twice and finally returns fire with his high knee, and we need one last commercial break. Guerrero is in trouble on the outside when the broadcast resumes, hitting the steel steps hard. More hard whips into the corner have Triple H covering but Eddie kicks out. A back body drop gets another two, and Helsmley follows with a backbreaker and an abdominal stretch. Guerrero finally scores with a spinning headscissors and a dropkick, leadin to an exchange of right hands. Eddie counters a sleeper with a suplex, then hits a form of DDT but it's still not enough. The Game rallies with a facebuster, then gets caught trying to come off the middle rope. His Pedigree attempt is reversed into a catapult, and three rolling vertical suplexes have the champ looking good. But Flair and Batista arrive to help their deaprting friend, and things start to get chaotic when Batista slips the belt in to Triple H. Cena and Rey Mysterio run down to attack Batista, and HHH is about to clobber Eddie with the belt when HBK delivers some Sweet Chin Music. Shawn hurls himself to the outside with a plancha as Eddie looks for his Frog Splash. Christian crotches him, forcing the referee to throw out the match. RVD is the next one out before the whole Smackdown locker room seems to empty. Finally Austin drives out on his four-wheeler, leading Raw reinforcements like some kind of wrestling general. Guys are brawling all over the ring and floor as an unpredictable night of Raw finally comes to a close.

Breaking News

WWE.com announces after the show that since Smackdown is without a GM following the Heyman deal, the trade deadline has been pushed back until Tuesday night at 9 pm. Smackdown's new GM will apparently announce any trades, so the rosters could still change.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's a little worried that he could still be heading to Smackdown in the inevitable supplemental draft.