Yee-hah! Raw comes to us live tonight from San Antonio, Texas, and even though they say everything is bigger in Texas, the stakes didn't get too much bigger than last week's 60-minute Iron Match that saw Triple H take his best shot at Chris Benoit's world title. The highlight package that opens tonight's program shows how Benoit won with a little help from the return of Eric Bischoff's least favorite nephew, Eugene.
A close-up on a fuming HHH suggests that his anger will be a big part of this week's broadcast, and he doesn't even let the opening song play the whole way before he interrupts and stomps his way to the ring. I guess we're off then, live from the SBC Center.
As you might expect, Helmsley is indeed a little upset over Eugene's return. Make that a lot upset. You just know someone is going to stand up to him though, and since Eugene is "at home" this week, that someone turns out to be his former manager, William Regal. Words are exchanged and to make a long story short, Trips and Regal will get it on in a match later tonight. This will be Regal's first in-ring action that I remember since he contracted some kind of parasitic infection over a year ago. Just ask Kevin Brown how much fun that is.
My job wouldn't be complete these days without some sort of foolishness concerning the Raw Diva Search. Suffice it to say, one more lady is voted out.
Match 1 - Rhyno and Tajiri vs. La Resistance
The former ECW teammates waste no time tearing into the faux French-Canadians, brawling outside the ring before the opening bell. A low dropkick to Robert Conway and a flapjack to Sylvan Grenier have the tag champs faring no better inside the ring, and even when Grenier jumps to avoid a Gore, it still connects with his partner. Tajiri rolls up the stunned Grenier and the faces get the win. Something tells me we'll be seeing this one again for the belts at SummerSlam.
Fresh off his victory in last Monday's battle royal that gave him a world title shot at SummerSlam, Randy Orton gets some interview time. He mentions that Minnesota Vikings defensive lineman who once beat The Rock to become the youngest world champion in WWE history, but promises to do him one better in two weeks. The SmackDown Rebound features Teddy Long as the new GM (yes!), Booker T surviving an elimination match to win the vacant U.S. Title and more drama between Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle. The scene then shifts backstage, where we find Matt Hardy walking into a locker room containing Lita and Stacy Keibler, a.k.a. one of my recurring dreams. Hardy announces that he's made his decision and that he wants himself, Lita and the possible spawn of Kane to be together as a family. He goes on to say that he wants to get married, and he doesn't care if it's in Vegas, San Antonio or wherever. That just gave me a great idea for a WWE contest: win a trip to Vegas to
be one of Matt Hardy's groomsmen! And since I thought it up, I automatically win one of the spots. Vince, are you listening?
Match 2 - Tyson Tomko vs. Rosey
You've got to love Rosey's new threads. Now if he could only get a new super hero name to go with them. One thing he does have going for him is the company of Miss Keibler, who celebrates one of his good moves with a cartwheel. Instant replay, please. A couple of big legdrops and a spinebuster give Rosey the momentum, but a distraction by the ever-devious Trish Stratus changes that in a hurry. Rosey turns around into a big boot to the face and is quickly pinned. Someone please give the Problem Solver a new finishing move. Pretty please.
The beloved Jeritron 5000 means it's time once again for the Highlight Reel, and Chris Jericho promises to get right down to business. His guest tonight is Edge, his best buddy in the WWE... at least until Y2J eliminated him from last week's battle royal. Edge doesn't look too thrilled when he arrives, pointing out that the two of them eliminated five men and could have continued to work together until they were the last two remaining. Instead, Edge claims Jericho's ego got the best of him, and now Orton has the title shot. When Jericho counters that Edge would have done the same to him, Edge throws fuel on the fire by saying that he hadn't seen Jericho dumped as badly as he was by orton since Trish Stratus. Ooohh, that's a burn. Naturally, the two men come to blows, and Edge gets the edge (heh,heh) with a spear before going to town on the Highlight Reel set. He leaves the ring to grab a chair, but reconsiders whacking Y2J with it since,
as J.R. points out, they will be partners in tonight's main event. Edge tosses the chair down and helps Jericho to his feet, but his former friend responds with a stiff right hand to the face. Oh yeah, did I mention that these guys will face off at SummerSlam in a Triple Threat Match (along with Batista) for Edge's Intercontinental belt? That must have slipped my mind.
Match 3 - Triple H vs. William Regal
Talk about a taste of your own medicine. Triple H gets punked from behind on stage, finding himself whipped into the Titan Tron and pounded over by the announce table. Regal continues the beating all the way down the ramp, punctuating it by throwing HHH into the steel steps. Finally the two men reach the ring, where Hunter sends Regal down to the canvas with just one punch. Is Helmsley channeling the spirit of Arturro Gatti? Hardly - as the camera pans back, we can see he used a pair of brass knux. The ref sees them too, because he calls for the DQ. Fans boo as Trips goes under the ring to pull out an old friend, his trusty sledgehammer. Even though he's bleeding profusely, Regal is ready when HHH returns, dropping him with a low blow and grabbing the knux. Unfortunately, Triple H is quicker on the draw with the sledgehammer, smashing Regal repeatedly and adding a knee to the groin for good measure. A gaggle of refs and trainers convince
Hunter to end the carnage, and they load Regal onto a strecther. But Helmsley can't resist delivering one more message to Eugene, taunting Regal and dumping his stretcher to the floor. Yikes.
Triple H uses the commercial break to go wash up, but Bischoff catches up with him in the bathroom. Uncle Eric wants Helmsley to do the same thing he's just done to Regal to Eugene, so he books a match between the two of them at SummerSlam. Insert sarcastic surprised gasps here. There's more Diva Search crap, then we go backstage to find Lita cornered by kane. Wait, the cameras just happened to start rolling right when Kane conrfronts Lita? Uh huh. Anyway, Kane threatens Hardy (again) and reveals that he got Bischoff to book them against each other (again) at SummerSlam. Lita says she's confident Hardy will beat Kane (again!), so Kane decides to make it interesting by going all in like Phil Ivey: he says Lita should marry the winner of the match at SummerSlam. Lita calls, so it's on - the first ever 'Til Death Do Us Part Match.
Match 4 - Kane vs. Maven
You didn't think they forgot about the Kane "Squash of the Week" segment, did you? Perish the thought. A series of kicks sends Kane out to the floor, but his power quickly overwhelms the former Tough Enough winner. A sidewalk slam and a chokeslam (I think - I looked away for a second) end the match, but not without one final message for Lita and Hardy.
J.R. and The King give us a rundown of the SummerSlam card, and it actually looks pretty good. If the SmackDown brand just adds a couple more matches, we've got something going. And we can't go to the main event without one more visit with the diva hopefuls, but they're in bikinis this time. I've got to admit, some of them are pretty nice eye candy. Another round of voting tonight will eliminate another girl next week, and so on and so forth.
Main Event - Evolution (Randy Orton, Ric Flair and Batista) vs. Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Edge
The heels enter first and the faces enter individually. Edge is the last to emerge, and he gestures at Jericho that he'll be watching him as he sprints into the ring to get it started. he chokes Orton with his coat, surprising everyone with his fury until the ref can get things settled down. Flair, Jericho and Benoit all get tagged in quickly, with the world champ earning the first near fall when he counters a Flair hip toss with a backslide. Batista turns things around for Evolution until he hits his shoulder on the ringpost, and Jericho hits a series of moves that have Batista in trouble. A bulldog and Lionsault force the rest of Evolution to get involved, and the faces clear all their enemies out of the ring right as the program breaks for one last comercial. The action resumes with Edge fighting out of an Orton submission hold, but Flair tags in to continue the abuse. He finally bites off more than he can chew by going up top, and as always, he's quickly
tossed off. Jericho tags in but is met by an Orton neckbreaker, forcing him to tag out to Benoit. The Wolverine manages to get Batista into the Crippler Crossface, and all heck breaks loose again when Orton makes the save. Jericho applies the Walls of Jericho to Flair (who's not the legal man), but Batista returns and drops him with a spinebuster. Evolution takes turns beating on Jericho until a running enzuigiri on Batista gives him a breather. The hot tag is made to Benoit, who launches into three rolling German suplexes on Orton, followed by a diving headbutt. Flair breaks up the count only to be speared by Edge. Jericho goes for a flying forearm shot, but his target ducks and he clocks Edge instead. The turmoil doesn't stop Benoit from hitting Batista and Orton with more Germans, and he reverses a Figure Four from Flair into a Sharpshooter. Too bad he doesn't have eyes in the back of his head - Orton comes from behind with an RKO to pin the champ
and win the match. We now have all kinds of drama only 13 days away from SummerSlam. See you next week.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He currently wastes way too much of his time trying to master Texas Hold 'Em at FullTiltPoker.com. Find him at a table there under the name FranchiseNJT, or send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.