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RAW: Backlash beckons
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


WrestleMania seems like it was just yesterday, but it's almost time for the Raw superstars to return to pay-per-view for Backlash. Before that happens this Sunday, we've got some unfinished business to attend to tonight in Chicago.

Specifically, the events of last week's show set up a big eight-man tag match pitting world champion Chris Benoit, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and new kid on the block Shelton Benjamin against the combined might of Evolution. Let's get down to it, as Raw blows through the Windy City on the way to Backlash live on Spike TV.

In case you missed last Monday's show, a recap leads off tonight's telecast. Trust me though, it's a lot more fun to read about it here. And since he received 15 stitches during his fracas with Evolution, Benjamin is still a little upset tonight, and he's letting Eric Bischoff and Johnny Nitro know. Benoit and Michaels arrive to calm the youngster down a little while Foley retrieves his precious Barbie from the clutches of Nitro. HBK says the bases are loaded, so Chi-town should get ready for a bench-clearing brawl.

Mrs. Foley's baby boy wanders down to the ring for a little promo time. He understands he has to follow certain rules during tonight's eight-man main event, but he's alright with that since he has no such constraints on Sunday. Mick says he's become obsessed with the things he's going to do to Randy Orton in their hardcore bout, and that bothers him since he's not entirely comfortable ending the career of a promising young star like the Intercontinental champ. Fortunately, he knows someone who has no such qualms, a guy who goes by the name of Cactus Jack. Orton tries to get a leg up on Foley/Jack with a chair shot from behind, but Foley evades the ambush and sends his foe running with one swing from Barbie.

Match 1 - Kane vs. Grandmaster Sexay

I know you just read that and said, "What the?" I had the same reaction watching it. I guess with Stone Cold Steve Austin seemingly gone for good they had to get some star power back on the show, eh? Kane and Sexay don't exactly work well together, as an enzuigiri and a big boot don't even come close to connecting. But at least this match is short, with Kane welcoming Sexay back after two years away by pinning him with a chokeslam.

Trish complains to her make-up lady about getting thrown into the Christian-Chris Jericho match at Backlash. She also has a visitor in the form of SLAM! Wrestling producer John Powell's favorite new character, Eugene. That was sarcasm folks - you can see John's well-stated thoughts about this gimmick here. Stratus says Eugene must know who she is, and after thinking about it for a minute, he blurts out, "Slut!" William Regal leads Eugene away as Trish is consoled by Christian.

A chorus of boos rings out as The Coach comes to the ring with... a ninja? Explaining that Tajiri has challenged him to a match at Backlash, Coach claims he has acquired the services of a five-star ninja from the Orient. The thing is, the ninja has a long pony tail and a decidedly pale complexion. Coach says if Tajiri can get past his ninja, he'll accept his challenge for the pay-per-view. Moving right along, then.

Match 2 - A ninja vs. Tajiri

It's a pretty even battle of martial arts moves until Tajiri dips into his wrestling playbook for his handspring back elbow. He tries to unmask the ninja but gets hammered by a series of kicks. The ref takes a bump in the melee, giving Coach a chance to interfere from the floor when Tajiri goes for the Tarantula. The ninja can't get the pin and is soon pinned himself by a stiff kick to the head. Tajiri unmasks the ninja to reveal Al Snow, and he would have gotten away with it if it wasn't for those meddling kicks. Okay, that was pretty bad. I apologize.

Flair is in full rant mode as he complains to Bischoff about Benjamin. The Nature Boy wants the young upstart in a match on Sunday, a move Eric has anticpated and gladly approves. Shelton strikes first though, beating down Flair on his way out of the office until a gaggle of refs can separate them. Elsewhere, Triple H gets a little camera time to discuss the Final Encounter, a.k.a. the WrestleMania XX Main Event Redux. While Trips tips his proverbial hat to both of the other competitors and admits even he has something to prove, he also says there is only one diamond in the business, and you're looking at him. Or you would be, if you were watching the show and not just reading this report.

The ring is set up for the Highlight Reel, and host Chirs Jericho comes out to a louder response than I've ever heard for Regis and Kelly. Naturally, he has a few words to say about his handicap match with Christian and Trish at Backlash, and he can't resist the chance to say that Stratus shouldn't be nervous since she's been "in action" with two men at once before. After rolling some footage of Vince making Trish bark like a dog (from way back in the Raw archive), Y2J brings out tonight's guest, Lita. She never even makes it off the stage before Stratus punks her from behind, causing all heck to break loose as refs and Bischoff quickly hit the scene. The GM says is they want to fight so badly, the two ladies can wrestle right now.

Match 3 - Lita vs. Trish Stratus

Upon return from commercial the match is already underway with Trish in command. Christian struts down to ringside just in time to see his woman grab a near fall with a kick to the head. Lita hits a monkey flip but Trish fires back and locks in a reverse chinlock. A minute or two passes before Lita battles out, countering a Stratusfaction attempt to get a two count. Another monkey flip and a series of rights sets up a clothesline and a Russian leg sweep for more near falls. Lita sends Trish to the floor and hits a suicide dive through the ropes. Christian has seen enough, but he gets slapped by Lita when he attempts to interfere. That earns Lita a free ride into the retaining wall and forces the ref to call for the bell. Jericho jumps into the ring and starts lighting up Christian to the delight of the fans. He's left alone with Trish and tries to apply the Walls of Jericho, but Christian returns and clocks him from behind. Trish gets to slap Y2J around as he's held helpless, and two Unprettiers and a Chick Kick leave him on the mat in pain.

An interviewer tries to find out why La Resistance has moved to Quebec, and the answer has to do with being closer to the U.S. to show Americans the error of their ways. Sylvain Grenier and Rob Conway get a little upset when they see Eugene mocking their adopted flag, but Regal is quick to prevent any escalation. Next I have a spooky flashback as Johnny Nitro comes to the ring to the old WCW Monday Nitro theme music. Long-time readers will remember that I toiled on the Nitro report during the dying days of WCW, so I'm understandably startled by the familiar tune. In any event, Nitro wants to deliver a message to Edge, who speared Bischoff three weeks ago. The returning superstar comes to the ring and learns that he will be suspended if he uses his cast in his match with Kane on Sunday. Edge replies that he's been out of action for 14 months itching to return to the ring, and there's nothing that Johnny Jackass can do to stop him. After predicting a victory over Kane, Edge sends a message of his own by spearing Nitro.

Match 4 - Sylvain Grenier vs. The Hurricane

Ultimately, this match is just an excuse to further the ongoing Eugene saga. Told by Regal that La Resistance are actually his buddies, Eugene has a stuffed bunny that he tries to offer to Grenier. Sylvain rips the head off the stuffed animal, allowing Hurricane to get the pin with his finisher. Regal tries to calm a distraught Eugene as he surveys the fluffy carnage. No, really.

More backstage and vignette stuff before we get to the main event. Michaels gets his chance to talk about the Final Encounter, saying it will be hard to top Mania, but topping things is what he's always done. The Smackdown Rebound shows us what we missed last Thursday (not much by the looks of it) and a video package featuring a bunch of cool footage from Japan details exactly the kind of bodily harm Foley can inflict in a hardcore match. As before, Orton is watching backstage and seems to be doing some soul-searching. J.R. and The King run down the Backlash card and Benoit gets to add his two cents on the triple threat match. Now that all of that is out of the way, let's get back to the action.

Main Event - Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley vs. Evolution

Michaels and Flair get it going with a classic opening sequence that features HBK mocking the Flair Strut and Ric doing his face-first fall. A battle of chops leads to Flair flying for a back body drop before HBK gives way to Foley. He roughs up Ric for a bit and tags Benoit, who fires off a series of hard chops. Flair finally tags Triple H, but The Game fares no better against The Wolverine's onslaught. A high knee eventually gives HHH the upper hand, but not for long as a Pedigree is reversed into a Sharpshooter. Everyone hits the ring, and the faces clear all of Evolution to the floor. Michaels launches into a plancha that takes out three-quarters of Evolution as the show goes to its final commercial break. The heels are in control when we return, with Trips, Batista and Flair taking turns beating on the world champ. Foley gets tagged in and nails Flair with a running knee in the corner, and Benjamin comes off the top rope with a move that forces Triple H to make a save. Flair's thumb to the eye allows HHH to low bridge Benjamin and send him hard into the steps. Benjamin battles through some abuse from all of Evolution until he manages his reverse spinning heel kick against Batista. The hot tag is finally made to Michaels, whose outburst is slowed by a Batista clothesline. With all eight men in the ring once again, HBK drops a flying elbow on Orton and proceeds to warm up the band. His Sweet Chin Music tags Flair instead of Orton, who takes advantage with an RKO but can't make a cover right away. He crawls over but gets his pin attempt broken up by Benoit's flying headbutt. Triple H hits Foley with a facebuster and looks for a Pedigree only to find himself flipped over the ropes to the floor. Mick locks the Mandible Claw on Orton but gets dragged out of the ring by Batista. Amidst all the commotion, Michaels rises off the canvas and quickly hits Sweet Chin Music on Orton, which is enough to get the pinfall. The broadcast ends with Benoit, Michaels and Helmsley exchanging stares and HBK cracking a little bit of a smile. Enjoy some old school Foley and watch Backlash.


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  • Perfect to rap with or wrap up:
    WWE John Cena: Word Life DVD

    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's currently investigating the mysterious disappearance of Canada from all wrestler ring intros (i.e. Benoit residing in Atlanta, Gail Kim hailing from Korea). Please send any and all leads to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.