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   Tue, September 14, 2004



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Raw: Mr. Benjamin is back
By NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling


The Randy Orton Era of Raw sure didn't last too long. It seems like just yesterday we were wondering how he got that world heavyweight title away from Chris Benoit, and now he's gone and lost it already to Triple H. The gold just can't seem to stay away from Mr. Helmsley for long, and I'm sure it doesn't have anything to do with being married to the daughter of the boss. No really, I'm sure it doesn't. In any case, our show tonight comes from the land where Ichiro is chasing the record for most hits in a single season, Seattle. Expect the usual post-pay-per-view fallout as Raw flaps its wings live on Spike TV.

It's party time! Ric Flair, Batista, a bevy of ladies and a huge cake await the arrival of the new champ. Confetti and streamers greet The Game, who wants to get to the women but only after a little victory speech. He asks if everyone can feel the excitement in the air now that the king is back on his throne. He's also especially proud of the fact that even though Orton spit in his face, he was able to win at Unforgiven and figuratively spit in the faces of all the fans. Now Hunter is ready to party like a champion, and he's really intrigued by who might be in the cake. I suppose it's not Stephanie. Neither Flair nor Batista will own up to buying the cake, so Helmsley figures it must be Eric Bischoff's doing. The cake literally erupts a second later, and surprise, surprise, it's not a girl at all. Orton leaps from the cake and lays a beating on Triple H's wingmen, then grabs the championship belt and knocks HHH into the cake. The sight of Trips upside-down in a hollow cake with his legs flailing around is one I won't soon forget.

Furious and covered with icing, The Game storms into Bischoff's office and demands a piece of Orton tonight. The GM does him one better by booking young Randy to face the entire combined might of Evolution. It's a battle he can't possibly win. Wink, wink.

Match 1 - Chris Benoit vs. Rob Conway

Benoit's Unforgiven partner, William Regal, comes down to ringside to counter any shenanigans from Conway's La Resistance running mate Sylvan Grenier. Conway hangs with The Wolverine for quite a bit while Grenier waves a Nordiques jersey... I mean, the Quebec flag in Benoit's face. Chris finally gets on track by hitting a sunset flip from the apron, though the pin is broken up by Grenier, who is in turn taken out by Regal. A snap suplex gets Benoit a near fall, then three rolling German suplexes soften up Conway for the Crippler Crossface, which claims another victim when Rob taps.

Later tonight, Shawn Michaels will be Chris Jericho's guest on the Highlight Reel, the Diva finalists will engage in a Seattle Slugfest, and Kane will take on Hurricane Ivan in a very special Evacuation Match. Or maybe not. Stacy Kiebler comes to the ring to try to kick off the Diva segment, but Molly Holly crashes the party, upset because the "wanna-be's" have no real talent. Hey, some people say that about me, but my editors still let me do my scheduled segment. Moving right along, Molly challenges Stacy to a competition in anything, so Kiebler picks a dance-off. Molly picks Regal's entrance music to showcase something she calls ballet, but looks more like a train wreck. Stacy goes with something a little more lapdance influenced and the crowd eats it up until Holly turns things physical. Nidia, Gail Kim, Victoria and Trish Stratus all join the fun in short order, and the good girls are able to clear the ring of all of their foes. That's Bischoff's cue to appear on the Titan Tron and book a six-woman tag match, which is probably the seventeenth one they've done this year. Someone get me the SLAM! Wrestling stat boy.

Match 2 - Molly Holly, Gail Kim and Trish Stratus vs. Stacy Keibler, Nidia and Victoria

We join the match already in progress for some reason, with Nidia coming off the top rope against Trish. The women's champ responds with a spinebuster for two, then gets a few more near falls. Kim tags in to lock on one of her myriad of submission holds, but Nidia crawls to the ropes to escape. She rallies with a neckbreaker and tags Victoria, who soon runs into trouble against Molly. But long-legged Stacy tags herself in and manages to roll up Holly from behind to get the surprise pinfall.

Kane becomes the latest person to barge into Bischoff's office, and he's got a bit of a problem. He's not pleased with his wife costing him his Unforgiven match against the returning Michaels, and he wants a chance to get revenge tonight. Trouble is, HBK is already slated for the Highlight Reel,and Eric wants to know if it's okay for the Big Red Machine to get him another night. It's not, so Eric uses some quick thinking to suggest that he find someone to serve up to Kane on a silver platter so the monster can take out some of his anger. Fortunately for Bischoff, Kane deems that acceptable.

As promised, Michaels joins Jericho on the set of the Highlight Reel. Both men are pretty impressed with themselves for their respective wins Sunday night, though HBK points out they've never settled anything between the two of them. Why not, he wonders, have a match tonight for the I-C strap? Before they can act on that idea, someone else comes out who thinks he deserves a shot: Christian. The Heartbreak Kid says he can have a shot at Jericho after he gets The Showstoppa, but the champ, noting the presence of Tyson Tomko, thinks they should do it up tag team style. And, of course, that leads us to...

Match 3 - Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels vs. Christian and Tyson Tomko

In what's becoming a bit of a disturbing trend, we also join this match in progress. Christian is laying the proverbial smack down on HBK, though he soon rallies with a Thesz press and gives way to Jericho, who comes in firing with a suplex. Michaels returns to hit a low dropkick for two, then it's Tomko who leads the charge for the heels. Eventually Christian and his Problem Solver both end up on the outside, making them easy targets for dual slingshot planchas by the faces. Break for commercial. Jericho is getting the worst of it when we return, though he does manage to crawl to the corner and make the hot tag to HBK. A flurry of offense is capped by a big flying elbow off the top, but Christian gets some payback by crotching Michaels on the ringpost. Christian grabs the I-C belt only to be tackled by Jericho, and Michaels ducks a Tomko kick in order to counter with Sweet Chin Music. That's all she wrote for the match, but Christian enacts a measure of revenge after the bell by giving Shawn an Unprettier on the floor.

What's this, an infomercial in the middle of Raw? Perish the thought. It's just a promo to introduce Simon Dean, a man who thinks you need to get off the couch and get in shape. Just buy his stuff and you'll be on your way. I don't even have a joke here. Cut back to the arena for Jonathan Coachman introducing the Seattle Slugfest. After we find out which of the three remaining finalists is cut (like we don't already know), the surviving duo will box for two minutes, with crowd applause deciding the winner. Hey, that's just as good a system as the "judges" who decide pro boxing matches sometimes. Joy is dismissed, leaving Christy and Carmella to gear up to duke it out. But wait: some entrance music we haven't heard in a long time hits the speakers, and Vince McMahon struts his way down the aisle. The Chairman teases that next week is Raw's "season premiere," and that he'll have a groundbreaking announcement that will affect Bischoff, the wrestlers and all of the fans. Tonight though, he has an announcement to make that concerns The Coach. Specifically, Vince changes the rules to make the Seattle Slugfest feature the girls beating up Coachman. Hilarity (I guess) ensues, with Christy going downstairs and Carmella flooring Coach repeatedly. Psycho Christy gets a big pop from the crowd in stark contrast to the scattering of boos for Carmella. The SLAM! braintrust thinks they'll both end up with jobs.

Match 4 - Kane vs. Gene Snitzky - No Disqualification

Who? Your guess is as good as mine, along with the correct spelling of his name. Kane toys with him for a few minutes before grabbing a chair and putting it over Gene's neck to give the poor jobber the HBK treatment. Fortunately he's bailed out by Lita. When Kane turns to confront his backstabbing wife, Snitzky lets loose with a chair shot that knocks Kane over right on top of Lita. The Big Red Machine shows serious concern for the well-being of his unborn child as help is summoned from the back.

The SmackDown Rebound showcases the WWE's latest attempt to put over The Big Show, but how many out there think it will actually stick? Back in Seattle, Lita and Kane are rushed away by ambulance, presumably to a health care facility of some sort.

Main Event - Evolution vs. Randy Orton

Just typing that seems unfair. Flair is right on his former teammate, but he ends up on the business end of a back body drop and a dropkick. Orton outsmarts all of Evolution on the outside before returning to the squared circle. His luck runs out when he runs into a Batista spinebuster, but he recovers in time to escape a Pedigree and launch an "accidental" headbutt to Triple H's groin. Batista returns to prevent the RKO, and all of Evolution descends on their old mate to force the ref to call for the bell. Help's on the way - it's Shelton Benjamin! He's quickly joined by Benoit, giving Orton a chance to grab a chair and waffle Batista. A top rope clothesline by Shelton and a diving headbutt by The Crippler add to the fun, and the RKO finally finds a target to close out the show. And on that note, if next week is the season premiere, this should be the season finale. Where was the cliffhanger? Tune in next week to not find out the answer.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's happy to announce that next week will also be the "season premiere" of his weekly Raw recap column, so be sure to tell your friends to read so the number of hits will be enough to stave off cancellation.