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COMMENT





RAW: Eugene a main eventer
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


It's a holiday in the States, as evidenced by the Memorial Day tribute that opens the show, voiced over by the ever patriotic Vince McMahon himself. But in Montreal, the location of tonight's broadcast, it's not fallen heroes but rather screwed over superstars that the fans are remembering. At least that's been the pattern every other time there's been a show here, where even seven years later the "you screwed Bret" chants have been sure to ring out. Never mind that, we're less than two weeks away from Bad Blood and in the midst of what's actually been a pretty good build-up, so let's get on with the show.

Match 1 - Chris Benoit and Edge (champions) vs. La Resistance (challengers) - World Tag Team Title Match

Wow. The Quebec fans easily give La Resistance the loudest reaction they've ever received, and it seems to be split about 60-40 in favor of the pseudo-French duo. Edge starts it off facing Rob Conway (psst - he's American) but quickly gives way to Benoit, who hits a snap suplex for a quick two count. Edge returns to face Sylvan Grenier, who gains the upper hand as an almost surreal "let's go Sylvan" chant starts up. Benoit tags back in and puts the Sharpshooter on Grenier, but he's not the legal man any more. Three rolling German suplexes take their toll on Conway, though he recovers in time to roll away from Chris' diving headbutt. La Resistance try for their two-man finisher but Edge makes the save, and Conway is in turn saved from a Crippler Crossface just as the show goes to a commercial. Benoit is in the clutches of - gasp - a resthold when we return, and even though he kicks his way out Grenier remains in control. The Crippler finally nails an enzuigiri that leaves both men down, and Edge gets the inevitable hot tag. It would have been fitting for La Resistance to get the hot tag here in Quebec, but I digress. Edge hits an inverted DDT and a missile dropkick, forcing Conway to bail out his partner yet again. The Spear is lined up, but Grenier steps aside and Benoit ends up on the receiving end. Amazingly, Edge gets scooped up for La Resistance's powerslam/neckbreaker combo finisher and Quebec is joyful as they score the pinfall. No, really.

As Grenier and Conway continue to celebrate their title win in the stands, Randy Orton is interviewed about his match tonight with Shelton Benjamin. Though he claims Benjamin is not in his league, Orton is reminded that Shelton just pinned him last week in a tag match. In any case, Benjamin will get a shot at Randy's Intercontinental title sometime soon (gee, at Bad Blood maybe?) if he beats him tonight. Elsewhere, Eric Bischoff thanks William Regal for helping to develop Eugene and informs him that the wrestling savant will get his second singles match tonight. It won't be against The Coach, but Bischoff does want Coachman to go to the ring and apologize to Eugene. And he even seems serious about it.

Somewhat reluctantly, Coach goes to the ring and calls for Eugene. Coachman says the young man has proven he's the real deal and the joke turned out to be on The Coach. An apology is given, a hand is extended and the two men shake. Coach goes on to talk about how many friends and fans Eugene seems to have and mentions one in particular that wants to meet him. Uh-oh... it's Kane. The Big Red Machine motions Eugene over and wonder of wonders, gives him a hug. Coach breaks up the tender moment by punking Eugene from behind with a microphone shot, and Kane actually walks over and goes to Eugene's defense. Sadly, it's all a ploy, as Kane turns around and clotheslines Eugene and Coachman laughs himself silly on the ramp.

Speaking of laughing themselves silly, Coach and Bischoff have a few chuckles backstage. One person didn't find the last segment that funny though, and that person is Eugene's trainer William Regal. The GM is unfazed though, and warns Regal to simmer down if he wants to remain employed. Bischoff vows to end the whole Eugene saga tonight when he books his nephew to go one-on-one with Kane. Come on, you had to see that one coming.

Match 2 - Victoria vs. Jazz

My fiancee walks in just in time to see Victoria's new entrance and says, "Who thought that was a good performance? She'd be better off just walking down to the ring." I couldn't have said it better myself. Jazz takes the early lead with some mat wrestling and power moves, then she beats on the women's champ as she's down in the mat in a full split. That's flexible. Victoria hits a cross body out of the corner for two, but Jazz fires back with a dropkick and soon has her foe in a submission hold. A few near falls are exchaged, and just when Jazz looks like she'll be victorious, Victoria counters a suplex with a roll-up and steals the duke.

Match 3 - Randy Orton vs. Shelton Benjamin

The combatants are evenly matched in the early going, much to Orton's dismay. The I-C champ's strategy becomes clear when he has Batista distract the ref so he can undo the top turnbuckle cover in one corner. He eventually gets a chance to whip Benjamin toward that corner, but Shelton puts on the brakes and the two men bump heads. Randy is busted open, but it's Benjamin who's in pain when Batista smashes him into the exposed buckle. Orton crawls over and covers but can't get the fall and we need to bow out for a commercial. The crowd is excited when the break is over because the ref ejects Batista for his continued interference. Orton scores a few more near falls but his growing frustration is apparent. Benjamin rallies by landing on his feet from a monkey flip and hitting a clothesline for two, then he rolls through an Orton cross body off the top rope for another two. Orton gets a near fall with his version of a neckbreaker; Benjamin comes right back with a backslide that has Randy scrmabling to kick out. Orton breaks the stalemate with a Flair-like thumb to the eye and retreats up the ramp, acting like he's walking out on the match. It turns out to be a scam though, as he sucker punches Benjamin on his way up. Orton shoves his foe back into the ring, but Benjamin catches him with a quick powerslam out of nowhere and it's enough to keep the I-C champ down for three. That'll learn you.

Stacy Keibler plugs the current WWE Diva Search in a bit that's not terribly interesting. Triple H comes to the ring for a promo that's only slightly more so, though it does end with a cool highlight package featuring his previous Hell in a Cell victories over Mick Foley, Chris Jericho and Kevin Nash. Shawn Michaels has so far not been on tonight's show. What do you suppose could be the reason for that? Here's a hint - it involves some people not letting something go that happened a long time ago. Backstage, a solemn Bischoff tells Johnny Nitro to bring his nephew to his office. Right now.

Match 4 - Matt Hardy (Ver. 1.0) vs. Garrison Cade

Everything is seemingly peachy with Matt and Lita, so I guess the mystery Kane storyline has either been dropped or just hanging around for a future plot point. I'm hoping for the latter but I fear the former. The King thinks Lita is a distraction to Hardy, but let's get real. He can't possibly do any worse than he's been doing - I think he's lost every match since he came over from SmackDown. In any case, the match is almost all Matt, with a slingshot plancha softening up Cade for a legdrop and the Twist of Fate. Hardy celebrates a rare win with Lita and everything is sunny... for now. Heh, heh, heh.

The SmackDown rebound tells us that John Bradshaw Layfield is going to face Eddie Guerrero for the title for the fifteenth time in the last two months or something like that. Also, The Undertaker is going to make a rare Thursday night wrestling appearance against Booker T this week. Bring John Cena to Raw! In the back, Bischoff tells Eugene that sometimes situations require tough love, and this is one of those times. Eugene hugs his uncle, who looks like he might be just a little conflicted.

The Highlight Reel set is in the ring, but it appears we'll have a couple of guest hosts tonight in the form of Trish Stratus and Tyson Tomko. Fans really let Trish have it as she mocks Y2J and unveils footage of her favorite recent highlight, namely Tomko power bombing Jericho through the announce table. She also mocks J.R. to The King's amusement, but the fun comes to an end when Jericho himself makes an appearance. He trades blows with Tomko and hits his running enzuigiri, then turns to Trish for the Walls of Jericho. But Tomko recovers and hits a kick to the face to break the hold. The Problem Solver raises Y2J up in an overhead press and drops him on the legs of a chair in a spot that looks like it has to hurt. Something tells me that with Christian on the shelf, Tomko might be seeing his first ring action against Jericho at Bad Blood.

Main Event - Kane vs. Eugene

Eugene delights the fans by coming out of the gate with a half-nelson takedown into a pin for a quick two count. A roll-up follows for another two, but Kane decides he's had enough and clotheslines Eugene to the canvas. A sunset flip proves ineffective on the Big Red Machine, so Eugene uses a drop toehold to stun him and goes up top. Sadly, he's caught on the way down, though he's plucky enough to kick out of three consecutive covers. Kane sounds like Lil Jon or the Chapelle Show parody of him as he asks the ref, "What? What?" Eugene is thrown to the floor, then suplexed back into the ring from the apron. Kane dishes out the punishment, but Eugene seems to actually gain strength from the beating a la Hulk Hogan. He dropkicks Kane to the floor, and the angry monster tosses a few chairs in the ring. Kane returns and sends the ref for a bump as they scuffle over a chair, and Eugene takes advantage by nailing a DDT on the steel. The ref revives and disqualifies Kane, handing an improbable win to Bischoff's nephew. He doesn't have much time to celebrate before Kane launches a big boot and a chokeslam, and the damage is about to increase when Benoit hits the ring. The world champ immediately goes for the Crippler Crossface, but Big Red fights it off with his size and strength and hightails it out of there as the Wolverine grabs a steel chair. The show is over, and SLAM! Wrestling SmackDown writer Dale Plummer points out that neither Michaels or Earl Hebner made an apearance. Could the WWE finally be letting the Bret Hart screwjob be a thing of the past? Tune in next year to find out.


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    Ric Flair: To Be the Man

    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's pretty sure he didn't screw Bret, but he's planning on avoiding Montreal for the forseeable future just in case.