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COMMENT





Raw: Evolution turns on Orton
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


Say it isn't so. Tonight's episode of Raw brings us a new world heavyweight champion, young Randy Orton, fresh off his victory over Canada's own (and personal favorite of this writer) Chris Benoit. What's that? You didn't watch SummerSlam? There's no going back now, as a shower of gold confetti greets the new champ inside Ontario's John Labatt Centre. Orton has the mic, and he's going to talk. Let's listen.

Cocky as always, Orton scoffs at all the people who thought he could not beat Chris Benoit, much less survive the Crippler Crossface, the Sharpshooter and six German suplexes. Orton encourages all the 24-year old men to stand up and take off their shirts so the world can get a look at an average specimen. Disturbingly, a number of fans take him up on the offer. The world champ goes on to say that he's not just better looking: he's just plain better. Winning the title was no fluke, but Orton's destiny. A video package takes us back through Orton's rise to prominence, culminating in his big win in Toronto. Orton tells the fans to get used to the new champ, as he plans on reigning for a while. One person has other ideas though, and that person is former champ Benoit. The Wolverine has a rematch clause he'd like to exercise, and Orton says that with two to three weeks to heal up, he'd be happy to tango again. One problem: Benoit just came from Eric Bischoff's office, and the rematch is going to happen tonight. Not so smug now, are we Randy?

Match 1 - Rhyno vs. Sylvan Grenier - All or Nothing Match

What exactly is an All or Nothing Match? It's quite simple, really: if Rhyno wins, he and Tajiri get a tag team shot at La Resistance at Unforgiven. If he loses, they will never get a title shot. Aggressive as always, Rhyno fires out of the gate. Grenier plays dirty to fight back while partner Robert Conway takes out Tajiri on the outside. Rhyno survives a number of near falls before a powerslam earns him one of his own. He builds more steam with a shoulderblock and a series of clotheslines, but he still has to scramble to kick out after Conway interferes. Conway tries to get one of the belts to his partner, but Tajiri foils that plot and gives Grenier a dose of the green mist. The Gore is enough to put Sylvan down for the count and propel the former ECW buddies to a title shot at September's pay-per-view. Good for them.

You're invited! Specifically, you're invited to the wedding of Kane and Lita next Monday night on Raw. All of you who didn't see this coming, please raise your hands. Now smack yourselves for being naive. And just when you thought we couldn't get enough of this angle, Coach wants to interview Lita on her feelings. She declines, but gets quite a surprise when she enters a locker room and finds a surprise bridal shower thrown by Trish Stratus and the other heel divas: Molly Holly, Gail Kim and Jazz. Presents include birth control and a picture of the couple's first kiss. Pretty funny stuff, actually. As Lita stomps off, Trish decides to get in the face of the passing Victoria over the debacle that was Diva Dodgeball. Trust me, just be glad you missed it. Anyway, Victoria decides to show her displeasure with Stratus' criticism by slapping the taste out of her mouth. Finally, a video package hypes the return of Shawn Michaels... in about a month at Unforgiven. Oh, you tease!

Match 2 - Victoria vs. Gail Kim

It just suddenly struck me that Gail Kim's entrance music really stinks. She can wrestle a bit though, as she quickly proves by nailing Victoria with a series of kicks. Her unique submission finisher is next, but Victoria manages to fight her way out. The fans start in with a "you screwed Bret" chant for referee Earl Hebner. Isn't it about time to let that go? Speaking of letting go, Victoria lets go with a Widow's Peak and gets the pinfall. Trish rushes the ring with Tyson Tomko to get some revenge, but the mysterious red-haired woman bails Victoria out again. Who is it? The fans think they know: they're chanting "Stevie!" Hmm...

Match 3 - Kane (challenger) vs. Edge (champion) - Intercontinental Title Match

Will the edge (no pun intended) be off the happy groom's game? We'll find out momentarily. He does dedicate the match to his bride-to-be. The Big Red Machine is too much for Edge early, but the champ soon switches tactics and goes to work on Kane's legs. Going up top backfires when Kane pushes Edge off the top turnbuckle to land painfully on the retaining wall. Lita makes her way down the ramp as the show heads to commercial. Edge is in trouble when we return (in - what else - a submission hold), and Kane presses his advantage with a series of punches and legdrops. A rally finally comes in the form of an inverted facebuster, but Kane manages to kick out. A missile dropkick gets another two count, though Kane shrugs it off and hits a big clothesline. Both men go up top, but Edge gets pushed down, taking out the ref in the process. Kane pounces from the top rope and gets ready for a chokeslam. Lita interferes, but not enough to save Edge from a big boot to the face. As Kane stalks his prey again, Matt Hardy runs in just long enough to deliver the Twist of Fate. Edge follows with a spear to retain his belt, but the beef isn't over between Kane and Lita. The big guy pushes the wedding angle again, just in case you haven't been paying attention up to this point. Lita smacks her fiancee, but that just gets him excited for what's going to be "a hell of a honeymoon." I think this is giving me a hell of a headache.

Time for a dose of the Diva hopefuls. If you've been reading my reports for any length of time, you know I won't write about this... so I won't. It does save wear and tear on my typing fingers. Michelle is eliminated, if that means anything to you.

Match 4 - Chris Jericho vs. Batista

I'm digging the sign in the second row that reads, "Batista fears charisma." He doesn't need to fear being alone, because Ric Flair is on hand to help out when Y2J starts to gain the advantage. Jericho fights back with a running enzuigiri and rolls up Batista for two. The Walls of Jericho prove useless, so Jericho uses a springboard dropkick to take out Flair and a standard dropkick to take down Batista. Flair interferes again, earning a DQ win for Y2J. Edge runs down to stop Evolution from continuing their assault... or does he? Edge walks back up the ramp and shakes his head as Jericho feels the effects of a power bomb.

Vote for the Diva hopefuls again. Or don't, I really don't care. The King would rather talk about the wedding. In the back, Triple H gives Orton a pep talk for his big rematch. Hunter promises that Evolution will take care of everything, but I'm not so sure. Jealousy might be rearing its ugly head.

Main Event - Chris Benoit (challenger) vs. Randy Orton (champion) - World Heavyweight Title Match

Tonight's crowd doesn't seem to be quite as pro-Orton as Sunday's bunch, though there is someone taunting Benoit with a "go back to Atlanta" sign. Benoit is all over the champ early, taking charge with his trademark intensity. Orton kicks out of a couple of pin attempts but still can't turn it around. A superplex crushes the champ and forces yet another kick-out, as does a Northen Lights suplex. Benoit wants a Sharpshooter but Orton escapes to the floor. He's no safer there, as he finds out when Benoit leaps off the apron with a dropkick. Randy's knee gets dropped on the steps, and we have to break for one last commercial. The Sharpshooter is in full effect when we return, and it's all Orton can do to crawl to the ropes. Benoit tries to suplex Orton out of the ring, but he kisses the retaining wall when Randy fires off a dropkick. The champ finally gets it rolling by hurling The Crippler into the ringpost. A couple of covers are for naught, so Orton hits a neckbreaker and chokes his challenger with his leg. A European uppercut is next, followed by a reverse chinlock on the mat. Orton lifts Benoit up with a gutwrench and drops him back down on his back for two. The crowd tries to rally Benoit out of a chinlock, but Orton drops his foe with another neckbreaker. Both men stagger to their feet and exchange punches, then Orton uses his neckbreaker variation and goes up top. Benoit dodges a high cross body, hits a front suplex and flies with his diving headbutt. Orton just manages to kick out, but he's helpless against three rolling German suplexes. The Wolverine locks in the Crippler Crossface, rolling Orton back into the center of the ring. All of Evolution comes to the rescue, giving Orton a chance to nail the RKO and win again. The celebration begins, with Triple H leading the cheers. He gives Orton the thumbs up, but it quickly changes to the thumbs down. Batista drops Orton from his shoulders and Helmsley rains down right hands. Orton's former teammates hold him helpless as Triple H bloodies him with the belt and even more right hands. Batista drops the champ with a big power bomb and HHH scores with a Pedigree. Trips poses with "his" belt as Raw proves that sometimes the obvious direction is still a good one. See you next week.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He'd like to publicly apologize to his fiancee, Diane, for ditching their usual Monday Raw-watching session for poker with the guys. Now please don't make me sleep on the couch again!