Raw: New season, same old show
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
It's time to bust out my wittiest lines and any special guest stars I can round up for the season premiere of Raw. What makes this episode any different than the rest? Nothing as far as I can tell, except that it's from Tucson, Arizona. Oh yeah, and Vince McMahon himself has a major announcement that will impact the lives of the Raw superstars, general manager Eric Bischoff and you, the fans. And lest we forget, the winner of the seemingly endless Raw Diva Search will finally be revealed. Pull up a chair and crack open a cold one for a brand new season of Raw, brought to you by the fine people at Spike TV.
There's "No Chance" that this show won't open with an appearance by Mr. McMahon. The chairman of the board is ready to deliver his big suprise, but first he wants Bischoff down in the ring with him. Eric limps his way down (still selling the Randy Orton slapstick bit from a few weeks back) and learns that Vince was inspired by Chris Jericho asking the fans to decide if they wanted to see a particular match. He was so inspired, in fact, that he wants to get the masses involved on an even bigger scale by letting them pick all of the matches for an entire pay-per-view. For reasons he does not share (but must include avoiding the NFL), McMahon also thinks it would be keen if this pay-per-view would be held on a Tuesday night and be called Taboo Tuesday. I think I already attended one of those at one of the local, ahem, establishments.
Moving on, Eric protests only to discover that he'll be involved in Vince's new brainstorm not as a GM, but as an active wrestler. And his opponent? None other than his beloved nephew, Eugene. With his arm in a sling, Eugene joins the fun between the ropes only to have Uncle Eric try to sleaze his way out of their upcoming bout. His offer of ice cream seems to do the trick, but Eugene has the last laugh when he drops Bischoff with a right hand. The fans cheer as Eugene hugs Vince, but I'm left with this thought: if the gimmick of Taboo Tuesday is to let the fans pick every match, haven't they already violated it by booking the first match? Something to think about. While you do that, please also note that tonight we'll get an update on Lita's condition, an Intercontinental title match between Chris Jericho and Shawn Michaels and, as mentioned, the Diva Search winner.
Match 1 - Victoria and Stacy Kiebler vs. Molly Holly and Trish Stratus
Victoria shows off some impressive offense by using a standing moonsault and a powerslam to earn a pair of near falls. Sadly, she attemts a giant swing that's so weak even J.R. and The King have to call her out. Things reach their inevitable conclusion when Stacy, who's obviously overmatched here, backslides Molly to get another unlikely pinfall. Hooray I suppose.
Randy Orton is paging through the most recent issue of Raw magazine when Vince approaches him with the loaded question, "Sucks, doesn't it?" Assuming he's not talking about the magazine, Orton asks the boss to elaborate. McMahon explains that reality sucks, since one day you can be world champ and the next day have it all taken from you. He goes on to hint that a victory in tonight's six-man tag that pits Orton, Chris Benoit and the returning Shelton Benjamin against Evolution might sway the voters when they vote on who gets to face Triple H at the pay-per-view. Randy already has that covered though, and he vows that tonight's match will end with three letters: R-K-O.
For what it's worth, Superstar Billy Graham is in the house. Hopefully he goes to use the facilities during the next segment, which features an "interview" with Gene Snitsky, the clown whose chair shot put Lita in the hospital. He's unrepentant and can't act his way out of a paper bag. Let's just move on. [Be sure to read our July 2000 interview with the Superstar: Superstar Billy Graham: Ring legend.]
Match 2 - The Hurricane vs. Tajiri
I was just thinking that we haven't seen Hurricane and Rosey in a while, but I've just been informed that they can be seen plying their trade on Sunday Night Heat. Wait, Heat is still on the air? Both men have their moments, with 'Cane looking good after hitting an inverted version of Christian's Unprettier. Tajiri surprises the super hero, though, by rolling through the move and getting the three count. Hurricane angrily snatches the mask off of a young fan in the front row, no doubt setting off Rosey's Heel Turn Alert in the process.
Barbara Walters eat your heart out - it's time for the Kane interview. I can summarize it by telling you that the baby has a 50/50 chance for survival and that Snitsky is a dead man.
Match 3 - Shawn Michaels (challenger) vs. Chris Jericho (champ) - Intercontinental Title Match
Here's an interesting bit of trivia: Shawn's last reign as I-C champ was back in 1995. That's an eternity in wrestling time. Christian joins the announcers as the two combatants exchange holds and counters. HBK gains an edge with a high cross body off the top rope, but Y2J rolls through it for a two count. Michaels flies again with a big elbow and starts to warm up the band. Christian decides he's seen enough and heads for the ring, but he's tossed out and ejected by referee Earl Hebner while Jericho is hitting a running enzuigiri. We take a time-out for a commercial and find Jericho in a sleeper when we return. Near falls are exchanged several times until a jumping forearm shot from Michaels leaves both men down. Shawn nips up but Chris is also quick to recover, and he quickly applies the Walls of Jericho. Y2J needs to drop the hold to deal with Tyson Tomko, and he turns back around right into some Sweet Chin Music. A tense moment passes before Michaels crawls over for the
cover, though the return of Christian and Tomko mean the match is thrown out. The heels have their obligatory fun beating up our heroes, secure in the knowledge that they've ruined a perfectly good title match.
The SmackDown Rebound is quickly interrupted as we head to breaking news in Lita's hospital room. The door is closed, but Kane's screaming means the news can't be good. Backstage, Evolution has a pep talk, and a video package takes us back to some highlights from the Diva Search... such as they were.
Match 4 - Sylvan Grenier vs. Maven
I agree with the announcers - Maven appears to be in fantastic shape. If he could ever stay healthy, I think he could get over. He powers out of a submission hold and has Grenier on the defensive with a series of jumping kicks. Grenier rallies to roll through a high cross body for two, then hits a flapjack and nips up. It's all for naught when Maven uses an inside cradle to surprise the tag champ with an upset victory.
Lita's doctors confirm what we already suspected: Lita has lost her baby. Let's have a show of hands: who thinks this storyline is in extremely poor taste? Me too. Maybe another infomercial for Simon Dean will make me feel better... Nope.
Now it's time for the moment two or three of you have been waiting for, the results of the Diva Search final. Coach tells both of the finalists that they have a lifelong enemy thanks to last week's events, and Trish drops by to add some cattiness and promise an "initiation" for the winner next week. And now, the envelope please... it's Christy! In what must be considered a bit of an upset, the hyperactive redhead takes home the $250,000. To her credit, Carmella is classy in defeat. We may be seeing her again.
Main Event - Evolution vs. Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin and Randy Orton
Only in pro wrestling would two men who were arch enemies as recently as two months ago be teaming together like Benoit and Orton are now. Still, it's Mr. Benjamin who leads off for the face side. Shelton gets himself in trouble in the opposing corner but makes a nice move to escape and let Benoit tag in. The Crippler engages in a serious battle of chops with The Nature Boy, then hits an enzuigiri and a diving headbutt to force a save by Triple H. Everyone scraps both in the ring and on the outside, where Orton is knocked silly by a Batista running clothesline. The last commercial break comes and goes, and we find that Randy has been taken to the back, leaving our heroes on the penalty kill. Evolution goes to work on Benjamin's legs, but he finally uses his reverse spinning kick to make the hot tag to Benoit. The Wolverine dishes out German suplexes for everyone and locks Flair in the Sharpshooter. Batista comes to the rescue with a spinebuster, but Benjamin recovers to take
Evolution's big man out to the floor. That makes the time for a heroic return right... about... now! Shades of the Knicks' Willis Reed as Orton shakes off his injury and pins Flair with the RKO. The guy made good on his promise - too bad he's not old enough to run for President of the U.S. And on that note, a largely unremarkable season premiere comes to a close. See you in seven.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. In tribute to Vince's new love for interactivity, he's decided to let the fans decide the destination for his upcoming mini-honeymoon. Send your votes by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.