Raw: He's a lumberjack and he's okay
NICK TYLWALK - SLAM! Wrestling
Any time the WWE stages a show at Madison Square Garden, you know they are going to pull out all the stops. Naturally, they don't always pull off something memorable, but at least fans can feel confident that the effort will be there. That's why it's not unreasonable to expect something half decent from tonight's show, which sees Raw return to its most famous (and most hyped) host arena. Get ready for Shawn Michaels versus Christian, the return of Kane and more of a build toward Taboo Tuesday as we go live to MSG on Spike TV.
In case you missed last week's show, I won't hold it against it you. I missed it too, but I had a reasonable excuse - I was on my honeymoon. But there's no excuse for not going back to check out Dale Plummer's pinch-hitting performance here. Tonight's broadcast begins with a recap of the head games that Randy Orton unsuccessfully tried to play on Ric Flair last Monday. But you just read about that, right? Live action starts with Flair and Triple H, nattily dressed in similar suits, coming to the ring to address the NYC crowd. The Nature Boy begins by ridiculing Orton's self-proclaimed status as the Legend Killer, since Randy has never defeated Triple H or Flair. Calling Orton a virgin, Flair vows to get the best of his former teammate at Taboo Tuesday despite not knowing what the match's stipulation will be until the fan vote is counted. Speaking of fan voting, The Game makes it perfectly clear that he hates the gimmick for the upcoming pay-per-view and thinks that it's a sham and a joke that the great unwashed have so much power. His tirade is likely to continue, but it's suddenly interrupted by the arrival of Chirs Jericho, who wants to do a little fan interaction of his own. Not surprisingly, his impropmtu poll reveals that more MSG fans feel that Triple H is the biggest horse's ass of all time and not the greatest wrestler of all time. An angry Flair tries to goad Jericho into coming to the ring, but Y2J heads for the back... so he can return with a steel chair. Sadly, he's soon jumped from behind by Batista, allowing Evolution to do what they do best - have a three-man stomping party. Chris Benoit and Edge hustle down from the back to lend a hand, and soon Triple H is on the business end of a spear from Edge. The Canadian superstar holds HHH's title high as we break for our first commercial.
Christian tells The Coach that New Yorkers are ignorant for cheering Michaels more for his WrestleMania X match that he lost than Christian's victorious showing at WrestleMania XX. Captain Charisma plans on stealing the torch that WWE fans have for HBK by winning tonight's showdown. Speaking of which...
Match 1 - Shawn Michaels vs. Christian
Michaels slaps his upstart opponent in the face to set the tone, then gets the better of him with some mat wrestling. Christian's attempt to turn the tide ends when he crotches himself jumping into the corner, forcing his Problem Solver Tyson Tomko to interfere. HBK knocks Tomko off the apron and warms up the band, but Tyson pulls his boss to relative safety on the floor. That doesn't stop Michaels from sliding under the bottom rope and hitting a swinging neckbreaker, then turning and dropping Tomko with Sweet Chin Music. Tyson has to be helped to the back during the commercial break, meaning it's mano e mano from here on out. Christian goes on the attack with an inverted tornado DDT and a pair of backbreakers, but both men hit the canvas after a shoulderblock. HBK rises first and fires off a jumping forearm shot, two inverted atomic drops, mounted corner punches and a back body drop to earn a near fall. Christian tries to respond with an Unprettier but gets rolled up for another two count. The second time is the charm as HBK gets planted with a successful Unprettier, but somehow Michaels kicks out just before the count reaches three. A reverse elbow allows Christian to climb the ropes, but Michaels follows him up, drops him to the mat and hits his trademark flying elbow. The band is warmed upa again and plays the tune of Sweet Chin Music to perfection, sealing another victory for the Heartbreak Kid.
Earlier today, Todd Grisham spoke with Lita about her feelings regarding her lost pregnancy. Lita blames Gene Snitsky for the loss of her son - I blame him for having the dumbest ring name to come down the pike in a long time. For once, Lita hopes that Kane does exactly what he says he will and kills Snitsky tonight. Elsewhere, Eric Bischoff makes a handshake deal with an unseen female over the objections of The Coach, who doesn't think his boss can trust her. Coach also doesn't want to interview Snitsky with Kane lurking for revenge, so Bischoff agrees to send J.R. to do the next segment.
As promised, J.R. calls Snitsky to the ring, and he comes out pushing an empty baby stroller. Professing his innocence once again, Snitsky is quickly cut off by Kane. It looks like the Big Red Machine will rack up another victim, but Snitsky has an ace in the hole in the form of a lead pipe in the stroller. In what might be the least interesting lead pipe beating ever, Snitsky bloodies Kane before stomping back up the ramp. That certainly won't go down as one of MSG's greatest wrestling moments.
Match 2 - Chris Benoit vs. Batista
Bear with me for a moment, because I'm still trying to shake off the effects of that last segment. Batista is forced to retreat from an early attempt at the Crippler Crossface, but the Wolverine stays in pursuit and goes to work on his foe's left leg. A spinebuster and a backbreaker give Batista a near fall, but Benoit rallies with a total of five German suplexes. Flair interferes on the outside, and true chaos ensues when Orton hits the ring. The ref calls for the bell as Orton goes to work on Flair, bringing Bischoff from the back with eight security guards in tow. Eric wants Orton kicked out of the building, but that doesn't stop Flair and Batista from diving through the guards to get a couple more shots in. Time for another break.
With the dust finally settled, Bischoff wants to give the fans an update on Taboo Tuesday. In addition to the matches already on the card, the masses will have a chance to vote on the weapon to be used in a bout between Kane and Snitsky and a challenger for Y2J's I-C belt, which can be any one of about 20 men not already on the card. Bischoff also wants Eugene to come down to learn some news concerning their match at TT. Eric tells his nephew that much to his surprise, someone in the back has a crush on Eugene and really wants to meet him. The mystery lady turns out to be Carmella, the Diva Search runner-up. The Playmate of the Year tells Eugene that he's hot, but would be perfect if he was bald. Using some flawless logic, Bischoff asks Eugene if he'd agree to lose their match on purpose if the fans vote for the head-shaving stipulation so that Carmella would think he's perfect. Eugene says yes, but there's a catch -- he wants his "girlfriend" to kiss him tonight. Despite her deal with the GM, Carmella can't do it, saying Eugene and all of the people there are not in her league. Just as Bischoff is telling Eugene that no one likes him, the party is crashed by Christy, the Diva Search winner. The redhead shoves down Carmella and gives Eugene a quick kiss... then jumps on him and gives him some heavy tongue action. Um, good for you Eugene, I guess.
Match 3 - The Hurricane and Rosey (challengers) vs. La Resistance (champions) - World Tag Team Title Match
Cutting to the heart of the matter in this one, Hurricane wants to tag out to his partner but finds that his partner is preoccupied on the outside. La Resistance is quick to win the match with the Au Revoir, but Rosey cotinues to battle after the bell. During the melee, Rosey is blinded when his mask is turned around, and he ends up planting Hurricane with a spinning slam. Oops.
Yet another mock infomercial implores all of the fat Americans to try Simon Dean's Simon System. In the back, Coach asks Edge why the fans should vote for him to face Triple H over Michaels and Benoit. Edge says he's never faced Triple H or had a world title shot even though he's paid his dues and battled through numerous injuries to do so. I find that hard to believe - I'm going to have to get the SLAM! Wrestling fact checkers working on that. He ends by saying that deep down, the fans know he's the only one who deserves the shot. And finally, Bischoff gathers all of the men on the ballot to face Jericho and informs them that they will be lumberjacks for the main event between Y2J and HHH.
Match 4 - Stacy Keibler vs. Molly Holly
Trish Stratus joins the announcers to declare that she thinks Christy is a slut. That's quite possible. Trish does what I wish I could do and goes to interfere in the match, but Keibler knocks her off the apron. Molly tries to roll up Stacy from behind, so Keibler simply sits down and pins Holly for what I think is now the 279th time in a row.
Main Event - Chris Jericho vs. Triple H - Lumberjack Match
Jericho sets it off by attacking the world champ before he even has a chance to remove his belt. Both men are thrown out and attacked by logical candidates, Triple H by William Regal and Shelton Benjamin and Jericho by just about everyone else. A running enzuigiri in the ring leaves both men on the mat, but Triple H revives in time to send Jericho out again... with a little help from a low bridge by Christian. Rhyno comes to Y2J's aid, beating on Christian and gently rolling Jericho back into the ring. Mistaking Rhyno for the attacker, Jericho knocks him back with a baseball slide kick. Jericho misses a Lionsault but turns in time to knock Batista off the apron, then recovers to counter a Pedigree atempt with the Walls of Jericho. He needs to drop the hold to kick Flair off the apron and climbs the ropes to deliver a flying cross body to about a half dozen guys on the floor. He goes up top again to hit a flying back elbow on The Game, but an enraged Rhyno climbs into the ring and pays him back with a Gore. Triple H covers to get the pinfall and all heck breaks loose with numerous lumberjcacks hitting the ring. In the midst of the confusion, Orton returns to the ring, hitting RKOs on Sylvan Grenier, Christian, Rosey and The Coach as Raw winds its way down from MSG. See you next week for the first ever Raw from England.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and thinks that it would be great if SLAM! recognized his years of service by sending him to cover the Raw from Great Britain live. Send your vote of support for this plan to firstname.lastname@example.org.