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Raw: Kane wins battle royal, title shot
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Tonight's episode of Raw originates from San Diego the night after the Judgment Day pay-per-view. However, due to the brand split, tonight's show has absolutely nothing to do with the Smackdown-only nonsense from Sunday. Instead, the world tag team titles will be on the line as Edge and Chris Benoit put them up against Evolution's Randy Orton and Batista. And the main event will feature a 20-man over the top battle royal to determine a number one contender for Benoit's world title at our own bit of brand-only foolishness next month. Let's get it started.

Match 1 - Lita vs. Trish Stratus

Motivated by the nasty trick Stratus played on her last week (hint - it involved Kane), Lita opens up on her to start the match. A headscissors and a roll-up get a near fall, but Trish uses a hotshot to get a little breathing room. The two women exchange two counts until Startus uses a sleeperhold to slow things down. She goes for the Stratusfaction only to have it countered into a suplex and she's forced to scramble to kick out at two.  It starts looking like an old ECW match as Lita hits clotheslines, a Russian leg sweep and an inverted Twist of Fate and Trish kicks out of all of them. Then things take a decidedly unsurprising twist as Kane appears on the Titan Tron, and Lita is distracted enough that Trish is able to roll her up from behind and (with a little help from the ropes) keep her down for three. By the way, Kane says he wants his answer tonight, and Lita better pray it's the right one. That's great. Now if we only knew what the question was...

Displaying a firm grasp of the obvious, Orton comes to the ring to tell the crowd that he likes to talk about himself. Specifically, he likes to talk about his victories over Mick Foley and Edge and how he's become the longest reigning intercontinental champion in over seven years. But tonight's not all about Randy, as Evolution has plans to reclaim the tag team titles and ensure that Triple H wins the battle royal. Randy is about to elaborate further when Shelton Benjamin's entrance music interrupts him. Benjamin asks if he's heard Orton correctly - maybe he should have been paying more attention to the monitor backstage. Anyway, Shelton disputes the assertion that Triple H is the person most deserving of getting the world title shot. After all, Benjamin has beaten him twice. Orton calls Benjamin lucky and claims he's also better than the former NCAA wrestling star. Shelton offers him a chance to prove it by challenging him for his I-C belt, but the WWE shows how it's unable to avoid playing the race card in any angle like this by having Orton respond by talking about the problem with "you people" and saying he'll never dirty the title that way. Nice, real nice. Benjamin counters with fists instead of words, and Orton takes a beating until Ric Flair arrives to drag him to safety.  

Uh-oh. As we enjoy a WWE commercial, part of the Batista-Tajiri match from last week mysteriously starts playing. Cue Donald Trump - someone's getting fired. Back in the arena, Orton vows to get even with Benjamin on his own time and Evolution focuses on the business at hand. Elsewhere, Eugene asks William Regal if he can have another match and Uncle Eric Bischoff drops by to have a word with Regal. The GM figures they are going about the Eugene problem all wrong, reasoning that his nephew needs to be humilated so he leaves the WWE on his own accord. To that end, he's arranged a special interview tonight that will accomplish that goal, and all Regal has to do is convince Eugene to come to the ring alone. That sounds simple enough.  

Match 2 - Kane vs. Val Venis  

Because you, the fans, demanded it, this match that was interrupted last week will happen tonight. Hopefully you also demanded a speedy resolution because it only takes about ninety seconds for Kane to put Val's lights out with a big boot and a chokeslam. Matt Hardy rushes down after the bell and takes it to the Big Red Machine, clotheslining him to the floor and unloading with chair shots. He pushes it a step too far though, and Kane gets the upper hand back in the ring with a big boot into the chair. Hardy gets choked in the corner with a cable, then he gets his head placed in the chair and choked some more. Lita finally sees enough and runs down to put a stop to the rampage with her questionable acting skills. She says the answer to Kane's question is yes. Are they going steady now? Is Kane going to pin his girl in a whole different way? Inquiring minds want to know.  

Match 3 - Chris Benoit and Edge vs. Randy Orton and Batista - World Tag Team Title Match

Orton starts out facing Edge and the two men continue their feud from the past few weeks. Everyone gets tagged in early but it's Batista who earns the first near fall. Edge rallies with an elbowdrop on Orton to get two for the good guys, then dumps the I-C champ out to the floor to send the show to commercial. Orton brings us back by working over Edge's shoulder and his teammate follows the same game plan. Edge finally dodges a dropkick and hits a catapult and an inverted facebuster to get a near fall. A DDT leaves both men down, and Edge finally makes the hot tag to the Wolverine. Benoit hits a snap suplex, chops and a backbreaker for two, then he switches up to a Sharpshooter that has Orton in trouble until Batista makes the save. All four men brawl, with the heels gaining the temporary upper hand. Batista goes for his power bomb finisher which is countered by Benoit, though the ref takes a bump in the process. Three rolling German suplexes set up the world champ's diving headbutt, but Orton has one of the tag belts and Benoit's head hits the metal. The ref revives and it looks like Evolution is going to steal one until Benoit somehow manages to kick out. A spear by Edge nails both Orton and the meddling Flair and Edge neutralizes Batista by taking him out to the floor. That leaves Orton looking for the RKO on Benoit, but the Crippler reverses it into the Crippler Crossface and young Randy has to tap out.

As we catch our breath from the tag team match, Regal convinces Eugene that sometimes he has to be a man and do things on his own. Eugene reluctantly heads for the ring and it looks like Regal's conscience might be starting to kick in. Out in the squared circle, the interviewer is quickly replaced by The Coach and Bischoff's plan starts to come into focus. Coachman calls Eugene a joke, claiming all the fans like to make fun of him and questioning whether he's ever had a girlfriend or any friends at all.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, things proceed in this fashion for a few more minutes until The Coach tells an obviously upset Eugene to leave and never come back. He heads up the ramp and is just about to disappear behind the curtain when someone's familiar music hits - it's The Rock! Hollywood's favorite WWE superstar heads to the ring and tells Eugene to join him as the crowd erupts. Telling Eugene that only one man knows the people. The Rock ensures him that the fans like him. He also offers to be Eugene's friend and coins a new insult for Coach by dubbing him a popcorn fart. Coach gets in Rocky's face about his last appearance in the WWE (a loss at WrestleMania XX), but Eugene borrows a catchphrase and says it doesn't matter what Coach thinks.


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    Everything is just peachy until Rock asks Eugene who his favorite wrestler is and he says it's Triple H because both of them like to play games. Unfazed, The People's Champ offers the crowd a chance to decide what game they'll play tonight. The choices are checkers, dodgeball and whipping The Coach's candy ass. Coach's buddy Garrison Cade crashes the party but the faces quickly get the upper hand. Coach hits Rock Bottom and is set up for the People's Elbow, but it's Eugene who gets to deliver Rocky's most famous move. And they all lived happily ever after. The end.  

    Main Event - 20-Man Battle Royal - Number One Contenders Match

    Vegas oddsmakers say the over/under for commercials during this match is three. The first set of eliminations features Johnny Nitro (by Kane), Steven Richards (Batista) and Rosey (Kane). After the commercial, we add Rob Conway (Maven), Maven (HHH), Val Venis (HHH), Sylvan Grenier (Chris Jericho), Garrison Cade (Chris Jericho), Rhyno (Batista) and Hurricane (HHH/Batista). We've also seen the record for wrestlers saving themselves by using Shawn Michaels' old Skin the Cat move shattered - at least a half dozen guys keep themselves in the match that way. When we return from a second commercial, we're down to the Elite Eight. The list of the fallen grows by two when Ric Flair (Chris Jericho) and Chris Jericho (Batista) are eliminated. Kane gets the spotlight when he chokeslams everyone, then Edge gets a little shine by spearing people left and right. The elimination of Batista (Edge) and Edge (Randy Orton) leaves us with just four combatants: Orton, Benjamin, Kane and Triple H. The I-C champ is next to go, tossed over the top by his new nemesis Benjamin. Kane turns to chokeslam Shelton but gets a low blow by Triple H for his trouble. Benjamin is eliminated by Trips to leave two men remaining, but a wild card enters the mix in the form of the suspended Shawn Michaels. HBK lays a beating on The Game and tosses him out, giftwrapping the victory for Kane. The Big Red Machine will face Benoit at Badd Blood, much to the delight of Michaels, who escapes into the crowd and enjoys Triple H's frustration as Raw says goodbye to San Diego.  

    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wreslting contributor since 1998. He'd be more than happy to play quarterback for the San Diego Chargers since Eli Manning passed on the opportunity. Send all contract proposals to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.