June 22, 2004
RAW: Triple H gets last laugh
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Having a few weeks away from Raw really gives you a chance to get a new perspective on things. While there's little question in this writer's mind that the shows of the last few months have been entertaining and coherent for the most part, there are signs that a rut is beginning to form.
Tonight's show from Miami is the case in point, as Triple H will take on Eugene to get a shot at Chris Benoit's world title. Do we really need to see Hunter feud with the Wolverine again? We'll also get an update on Shawn Michaels after Kane decided to beat the tar out of him for no reason (except maybe to get HBK some time off) last week. Let's party in the city where the heat is on as Raw gets it started live.
Now this has potential. The program kicks off with the arrival of everyone's favorite grappler-turned-thespian, The Rock. Naturally the fans go nuts as the People's Champ revels in the atmosphere of his hometown. Rocky was actually born not far from where I'm writing this in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, but we'll let that slide for tonight. The Rock points out his family members in the front row and teases Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor of the Miami Dolphins. Finally he gets down to business, which revolves around his friend Eugene. Sadly, Rocky doesn't get much of a chance to speak before he's interrupted by the arrival of nattily dressed Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton. Calling The Rock yesterday's news, Orton declares himself the only third generation superstar the fans want to see. As only The Rock can, he fires back by regaling the crowd with stories from the locker room when they were kids, including young Randy playing with My Pretty Pony and young Dwayne promising Cowboy Bob Orton that he would one day kick his son's butt. The Rock says it may not be today, but it definitely will be tonight, rushing Orton and knocking him over the top rope to the floor with a barrage of right hands. That quickly brings out Eric Bischoff, who is determined not to let Rocky spoil Orton's upcoming match or tonight's main event. To that end, he orders a foursome of security guards to escort the People's Champ from the ring. He decides to go peacefully but on his own terms, keeping the mic and giving a running commentary on his way out. He first questions Eric's business sense by wondering why, in a live show from Miami, Bischoff would throw The Rock out of the building - no wonder WCW went out of business. Then Rocky manages some quips directed toward Trish Stratus and Tyson Tomko, Molly ("accidentally" knocking off her wig), Hurricane and Rosey ("Hamburglar and Grimace"), The Coach and, of course, the security guards ("Where are Snow White and the rest of the dwarves?"). After all of this Orton is still in the ring whining for someone to shut The Rock up, so the Brahma Bull appears on the Titan Tron to promise that Randy would feel a lot more pain in about three seconds. The Rock counts down from three, at which time Edge rushes Orton from behind and drops him with a Spear.
Bischoff tells Wayne the Security Guard to rally the troops and make sure The Rock doesn't sneak back into the building. The world champ also drops by to discuss Eugene, offering to simply give Triple H a title shot if it means the youngster will be spared a beating. Eric replies that it's his business and Benoit should stay out or else. After all, he's already thrown one superstar out of the building and he would have no qualms about throwing out a second.
Match 1 - Trish Stratus (champion) vs. Victoria (challenger) - Women's Title Match
Victoria celebrates the scrapping of her ridiculous dancing ring entrance by hitting her standing moonsault for a quick two count. She's soon on the defensive thanks to a dropkick off the apron and a series of vicious kicks by the champ. Stratus mocks Victoria's butt shake and finds herself rolled up for a near fall, but she recovers quickly and drops Victoria with a spinebuster. The challenger builds momentum with a series of clotheslines and a sidewalk slam; she follows with a moonsault off the top rope. The cover is made but problem solver Tomko comes to Stratus' rescue. Victoria hits a kick to the face, but Stratus manages to roll her up and use the ropes for leverage to score the pinfall. The heels seem to have ideas about more carnage after the bell, though the timely arrival of a mystery woman puts an end to those thoughts. Or at least it's supposed to be a mystery woman. If I didn't know better, I'd say it was Steven Richards in drag. But it couldn't be... could it?
The WWE's Diva Search rolls on, this time through the Windy City of Chicago. I'd comment on it further, but except for the presence of some attractive females I don't find anything interesting about it. Back in Miami, we take a look back at Kane's unprovoked assault on Michaels just as he and Triple H were about to officially end their long-running feud. Wait, does this mean the feud could continue? If that happens, I swear I will write myself into the storylines to hunt down Kane. In the back, William Regal asks Bischoff the obvious question: if he dislikes his nephew so much, why doesn't he just fire Eugene? Eric claims that because of the family issues involved and Eugene's unexpected success, it would be better if he quit on his own. Before Regal can digest this concept, Bischoff relieves him of his managing duties and restores him to the active roster. No time to change though, because his first match is coming up next. I'll give you three guesses who his opponent might be, and the first two don't count.
Match 2 - William Regal vs. Kane
You've got to admire Regal's spunk. He comes firing out even before the bell rings with a barrage of punches, catching Kane off-guard for a minute. Unfortunately, the Big Red machine quickly recovers out on the floor and hurls Regal off the ropes, catching him with a big boot to the face. He's out cold, so I guess this "match" is over.
As if he didn't already know, Kane asks Bischoff if that was what he wanted. For some reason, we get another segment on the Diva Search, causing SLAM! Wrestling SmackDown writer Dale Plummer to threaten to smother himself with one of my throw pillows.
Match 3 - Evolution (Batista and Randy Orton) vs. Edge and Chris Jericho
At long last we get a real match and hey, we only had to wait an hour into a two-hour show to get it. Batista overpowers Edge in the opening moments before giving way to Orton. Edge runs off a series of moves including a dropkick, a big clothesline and a vertical suplex, forcing Randy to tag his partner back in. A drop toehold slows the behemoth long enough for Jericho to enter the match for the first time, and he more than holds his own. A bulldog and a Lionsault have Orton scrambling to break up the cover, and the faces team up to momentarily clear the ring. Batista sneaks back in and clobbers Jericho with a clothesline that looks like it catches Y2J square on the temple with the elbow. The ref calls for medical help, and even though we can't see the "X" sign that signifies a real injury, one has to wonder if Jericho was really hurt by that spot. We get a commercial break to ponder it, and when the show returns we learn that Edge is going it alone. The heels take turns wearing him out until he turns the tables by ducking a double clothesline and firing dropkicks until both men are stacked up in one corner. A shoulder charge has Edge looking good, and he keeps it rolling with a bulldog on Orton and a low bridge on Batista that turns into a botched spot. The Spear finds Orton for the second time tonight but his teammate is able to make the save. A sit-out power bomb softens Edge up for the RKO, and that's all she wrote for this one. I was counting on Jericho to pull the Willis Reed and limp down to return to the match, so now I'm wondering if he was indeed injured. We'll find out tomorrow, I'm sure.
Yet another segment airs about the Diva Search, and this time I'm forced to remove the pillows from Dale's hands. We also get a look at SmackDown the Vote, a quick trip backstage to find out that Matt Hardy is going to propose to Lita tonight and the SmackDown Rebound. I had a rare opportunity to watch the WWE's other show this past Thursday and have to say that Bradshaw's promo might have been the most complicated heel promo I can remember. It's a pro-U.S. gimmick that's supposed to make someone a heel... good luck with that. Back at the ranch, a limo pulls up to reveal that Eugene has been hanging out all night with Triple H and Ric Flair. Hunter tells Eugene to get ready for their match and smiles as he talks about how much he's going to enjoy this. The question is, will we enjoy it?
Hardy makes his way to the ring and calls for Lita. The moment we've all been waiting for (I guess) arrives as he gets down on one knee and asks the redhead to marry him. She's about to accept when Kane interrupts on the Titan Tron, saying there's something Lita should tell Matt first. She refuses, so Kane does it for her: the baby she's carrying isn't Matt's - it's Kane's! The Big Red Machine tells an incredulous Hardy to ask Lita if he doesn't believe it, and her expression and tears say it all. After the commercial break, Lita pleads with Hardy to stay, but her assertion that the baby "might be yours" doesn't stop him from exiting. Hey Lita, maybe a song would have helped. Cue the pre-child molestation allegation MJ music!
The Big Red Machine is not my lover, ooh
And here's an observation: Kane is the most boring, one-dimensional character on Raw. So naturally, he's the one currently involved in just about every storyline. That makes perfect sense.
The final Diva Search segment reveals two things. One is who will be going on to New York, and the second is that Coach is a lucky, lucky man. All pillows have now been removed from the living room just in case. In the locker room, Evolution continues to play up their mock friendship with Eugene. They even take it to the next level by feigning outrage when Bischoff drops in to wish Eugene "good luck." Of course, as soon as the youngster leaves the room, all five men erupt in laughter. Poor Eugene. Unless The Rock or Benoit decide to openly defy Bischoff, I have a feeling this is going to get ugly.
Main Event - Eugene vs. Triple H
Eugene accompanies Triple H through his whole intro, even doing his spitting bit right along with him. The early going has plenty of mat wrestling interspersed with handshakes, because after all, Triple H and Eugene are friends and friends don't hurt each other. Eugene channels Hulk Hogan by "hulking up" and winning a test of strength with both Trips and Flair. HHH tries to go on the offensive but is countered by a suplex and has to regroup on the floor with the Nature Boy as we take our last commercial break. Eugene is still out-wrestling Hunter when we come back, but now The Game is starting to get upset. He finally drops the pretense with a series of right hands and two hard Irish whips. Eugene rallies to hit a spinebuster for two, forcing Flair to lend a hand. Once again Eugene hulks up, connects on a pair of inverted atomic drops and an airplane spin and leaps from the top rope with a double axe handle. He goes on to counter a Pedigree with a Rock Bottom and a People's
Elbow, and then takes a second to take out Flair. Triple H is ready for him when he turns around, nailing a Pedigree and looking for the pinfall. But Bischoff will have none of it, coming out to remind Helmsley that he promised to beat the crap out of his nephew, not just beat him. HHH grabs a chair from ringside, but Benoit comes running down to even the odds. The Wolverine cleans house on all of Evolution and lines up a chair shot for Triple H, but he ducks and the shot waffles Eugene instead. A distraught Benoit is easy prey for a low blow and Pedigree from Helmsley, who seems to have the last laugh on everyone as this edition of Raw fades out. See you next week and remember, friends don't let friends smother themselves with throw pillows.
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998 and figures that if you can't beat them you might as well join them. To that end, he is announcing the first ever SLAM! Wrestling (U.S. Branch) Diva Search. Any ladies wanting to be the first ever to hold this prestigious title should send bikini photos to firstname.lastname@example.org.