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RAW: Jericho on top in hot show
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Welcome to Raw, where every broadcast is now like a mini-pay-per-view. Not that that's a bad thing mind you, since the WWE's decision to try to sell every show as if it's something you don't want to miss is undoubtedly a good thing. Tonight, the good people of San Jose will try to get over the Sharks Game 1 loss to the Flames by enjoying a Steel Cage Match between Chris Jericho and Christian. And lest we forget, they will also be treated to the in-ring debut of Eugene. Word is he's getting better Vegas odds on winning his first match than Smarty Jones. On with the show.

Match 1 - Triple H vs. Shelton Benjamin

It's hard to believe, but Benjamin's surprising first win against The Game was six weeks ago. They're now facing each other for the third time, which, sadly, is not that surprising. Benjamin comes out of the gates like a house on fire with two near falls, and even after Trips rallies in the corners, the young face fires right back with a powerslam for another two count. A DDT leads to yet another close call, so Helmsley tosses Benjamin out of the ring to get himself some breathing room. What he gets instead is a big dose of Shawn Michaels, as the Heartbreak Kid hits the ring. The two old foes battle out to the floor all the way to the guardrail, and HHH is forced to retreat over the wall as a gang of referees tries to restrain Michaels. HBK says tonight's the night they will settle their long-running feud once and for all - guess he's a little miffed about Hunter interfering in his world title shot last week. But someone else has other ideas, and that someone is general manager Eric Bischoff. Saying he can't afford to have his show stolen form him, Bischoff suspends Michaels. That doesn't stop HBK from running through the crowd to get at Triple H again, but the refs and security eventually put a stop to the assault.

A video package takes us back through the Edge-Randy Orton feud that's developed over the last few weeks. And oh by the way, they will face each other tonight for Randy's Intercontinental title. Meanwhile, Evolution celebrates the fate of Michaels. Ric Flair is especially vocal, ranting about how each member will be victorious in his match tonight. Bischoff drops in to make sure Triple H is okay with the suspension, which he is. He's probably even better with Bischoff's next announcement, which is that The Game will get an opportunity to compete for the world heavyweight title next week on Raw.

Match 2 - Tajiri vs. Batista

It's extremely hard to take notes on this match when it's pointed out to me that someone in the third row is dressed up like Gumby. I mean, really, Gumby! You just don't see enough of that at wrestling shows these days. And kids, if you don't know who Gumby is, let's just say he was once a little green slab of clay. Oh yeah, the match. Batista controls the early going using power moves and battering Tajiri in the corner. The Japanese Buzzsaw uses a flurry of kicks to turn the tables, setting up his handspring back elbow. Batista strikes with a clothesline but Tajiri counters a power bomb with a DDT, forcing the big man to kick out at two. Tajiri goes upstairs for a kick to the head, but Batista catches his foot and hits a big spinebuster to win the match. The carnage doesn't end there, as Batista hits another spinebuster and his sit-out power bomb after the bell before literally choking the green mist out of Tajiri's mouth. Refs and officials come out to break up the attack.

Stacy Keibler wants to talk about bikinis, so I'm listening. Plugging the new Divas DVD, Keibler offers us a sneak peek... and it's good. Sadly, it's interrupted by Gail Kim and Molly Holly, who take issue with Keibler calling herself the hottest diva on the disc. Actually, I don't recall her saying that, but that's enough of an excuse for the heel women to attack. Victoria, Jazz and Nidia join the fray in short order, and the faces eventually clear the ring. This leaves me with just one thought: please, please don't have a six-woman tag match. Come on, I asked nicely.

Right after the commercial we learn that - surprise - there will indeed be a six-woman tag featuring everyone from that last segment. Next we head backstage for an interview with Chris Jericho, who's a little confused about Triple H getting a world title shot next Monday since Y2J was promised the same thing. In any case, he's all about the Steel Cage Match tonight, promising he'll show Christian how rough he can be. Okay.

Match 3 - Randy Orton vs. Edge - Intercontinental Title Match

A tie-up leads to an exchange of blows and a suprisingly slow pace given who's involved here. Edge goes to work on the champ's back, wrapping it around the ringpost and using a bow-and-arrow type hold. Orton suffers more out on the floor as he's whipped into the steps back-first, and Flair comes down the ramp to encourage his teammate. Or maybe it was just the cue for a commercial. Edge has just powered out of a rest hold when the broadcast returns, and he hits a cross body for a near fall. Orton responds with a neckbreaker for two and uses a combination chinlock and armbar to slow Edge down. He finally fights out and both men end up on the canvas. They rise to exchange more near falls, then Orton hits a top rope cross body that Edge rolls through to score a near fall. Edge builds momentum with a back body drop and a suplex before knocking Orton off the apron to the floor. Randy's return is greeted with a missile dropkick but it's still not enough to end the match. Edge counters a neckbreaker and Orton kicks out yet again. The coolest spot of the match happens next as Orton jumps for some type of kick or headscissors and Edge reverses it into a power bomb... but it's still not enough. Flair jumps up on the apron and Orton just barely avoids being whipped into him. Edge charges for the spear, but Orton moves and Flair takes it instead. Randy rolls up Edge and pulls the tight to finally get the three count.

With Eugene preparing for his big debut, Bischoff wants a few words with his manager William Regal. The Englishman says he did his best to prepare Eugene for battle, but Eric says he really wants Eugene to lose. He figures he has lived up to his word to his sister to give Eugene a shot, and if he loses he'll depart from WWE. In fact, he promises Regal a spot on the active roster if Eugene goes down to defeat. Regal says he'll ensure that the best man wins.

Match 4 - Nidia, Stacy Keibler and Victoria vs. Jazz, Gail Kim and Molly Holly

And here we go. Jazz is all over Victoria and Molly keeps the ball rolling. Victoria fires back against Kim with a powerslam, but soon finds herself in the same submission that forced her to tap out last week. Keibler has to break the hold with a kick and all heck breaks loose with all six women in the ring. Once four are out on the floor, Kim hits a clothesline and uses a half crab to get another submission win.

The Smackdown Rebound shows us all the action as that brand heads toward its pay-per-view. I'm not going to dis Smackdown, but I would like to point out that Bradshaw is in their main event. Christian and his posse get their interview time next, and guess what? It seems Christian has also been promised a title shot next week. Curious. Trish Stratus sees Lita over by the drink table and heads over to check on her old friend. Or at least it seems that way until she shouts out to look out for Kane. Lita freaks out, but Trish just laughs as Kane is nowhere to be found. Enraged, Lita attacks Trish until Matt Hardy pulls her away. Yes, that's right, we've officially run out of refs and other backstage officials to pull people away from confrontations. This may be a first.

Match 5 - Matt Hardy vs. Val Venis

No match actually takes place due to Kane appearing on the Titan Tron and knocking Venis out cold. He also gives Lita one week to give him an answer. I'm guessing the question is something like, "Will you go out with me? Check yes or no."

Match 6 - Rob Conway vs. Eugene

Eugene turns in quite the mat wrestling exhibition, much to the delight of the crowd. Conway fires back with slaps and right hands, then he locks Eugene in a neck wrench. Eugene escapes, hitting an airplane spin and flying off the top rope to get a near fall. After another two count, Regal trips his charge as he tries to come off the ropes. As Eugene turns to confront Regal, Conway tries to seize the moment from behind. But Eugene reacts quickly to counter with a roll-up and bridges back to get the pinfall. You know what this means - we'll be seeing more of Eugene, that's for sure.

A video package takes us through the career of Chris Benoit, including his early days and his time in WCW. Then Bischoff and Johnny Nitro come to the stage to plug next week's show and resolve the mystery surrounding the world title picture. It turns out that next week's main event will be a 20-man, over the top battle royal, with the winner going on to face Benoit for the world title at Badd Blood. Now I get it. The steel cage lowers from the ceiling, meaning all we have left is tonight's main event.

Main Event - Chris Jericho vs. Christian - Steel Cage Match

A quick attempt at the Walls of Jericho proves fruitless, so Jericho changes tactics and tries to climb out, forcing Christian to yank him back in. Jericho hits a suplex for two; Christian gets his own two with his variation of a backbreaker. Christian gets crotched on the top rope, allowing Y2J to climb all the way to the top of the cage. Tyson Tomko has a chair and prevents Jericho from escaping, so Chris turns and delivers a cross body off the cage. He goes to crawl out the door but a weak looking kick from Tomko puts a stop to that - it also earns Tomko a trip to the showers as the referee gives him the boot from ringside. Jericho goes for the exit again but Christian grabs him and whips him into the cage. It's Christian who tastes the steel next, getting trapped between the ropes and the cage and getting dropkicked into the metal. Jericho hits a bulldog for two, but his second bulldog attempt is reversed and he flies into the cage wall. Christian nails the Unprettier but has suffered too much to go for the pin right away, and when he finally gets around to it Jericho has the strength to kick out. Y2J hits a superplex as Stratus enters the cage armed with a steel chair. She finds herself in the Walls of Jericho, but Christian decides not to save her and scales the cage instead. He's almost all the way out when Jericho releases the hold to pursue him, but still ends up being pulled back into the cage. Jericho uses a jumping spinebuster to drop his foe on their way back in, then puts on the Walls of Jericho. Christian crawls to the door and gets his hands to the floor, but as we all know, you need to touch your feet to the floor to win a cage match.  Jericho pulls Christian back into the middle of the ring and uses the Walls - which actually look more like a Boston crab at this point - to get Christian to tap out. And that's a wrap folks. Next week we go battle royal with a world title shot at stake. See you then.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's thinking about asking for a 20-man battle royal at work with a promotion going to the winner. Send your encouragement to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.