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RAW: More talk, less action
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


There really is going to be a new episode of Raw tonight. Honest. The only reason I wasn't sure at first is because the first segment of the broadcast is devoted to replaying the Eugene-Eric Bischoff match from Taboo Tuesday. That's right, the whole thing. Despite this disturbing fact, I am confident that we will have some action from Des Moines, Iowa, and that it will include an Intercontinental Title rematch between new champ Shelton Benjamin and former champ Chris Jericho. Nothing left to do now but cross our fingers and hope for the best.

You probably can't hear it through the internet, but I'm breathing a sigh of relief as Bischoff walks down the ramp. Sporting a spiffy Harley-Davidson hat to hide his shaved head (the result of losing to Eugene last tuesday), the GM says he is sick and tired of having his actions backfire thanks to the Raw superstars. He decides to give himself the night off and announces that the inmates will be running the asylum. Insert your joke about the caliber of the Raw writing staff here.

The first three inmates to step up to the vacated plate are none other than the members of Evolution. Triple H asks the fans rhetorically if they enjoyed the power they had at Taboo Tuesday, noting that power can be intoxicating. The world champ declares that he and his teammates will be running the show tonight since no one in the back has the muscle to tell them otherwise. He offers Ric Flair anything he wants, and what the Nature Boy wants is another shot at young upstart Randy Orton. Triple H orders the two of them to face off tonight, but Randy appears on stage and announces that he takes orders from nobody. What Orton does want is the world heavyweight title, and since Trips is feeling generous, he grants a title shot. Ah, but there's a catch - Orton must beat Flair tonight. If Randy happens to lose, he'll never get another match with Helmsley as long as he retains the gold. After some careful consideration, Orton agrees. With that business out of the way, the announcers launch into a discussion of Benjamin's victory over Jericho at TT. And oh by the way, their rematch is up next.

Match 1 - Shelton Benjamin (champ) vs. Chris Jericho (challenger) - Intercontinental Title Match

Plenty of mat wrestling and counterholds kick things off, though Jericho turns it into a "pro" wrestling match soon enough. Benjamin misses his splash into the corner and flies all the way out to the floor, where he is soon victimized by a high cross body. With both men on the floor, you just know it's time for a commercial. Shelton fights out of the inevitable submission hold after the break, then pulls off a move I haven't seen on Raw in quite some time - a hurracanrana off the top rope. Nice. Both men score near falls before an inside cradle leads to btoh men rolling through several times for pinning attempts. There's still no three count, so Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho. He can't get it locked in, so he catapults Benjamin into the corner. The champ lands on the turnbuckle and leaps back for a sunset flip. Y2J counters with the Walls, but Benjamin counters back by using a body scissors to flip Jericho over and keep him down for the count. The finishing sequence leaves Jericho shaking his head and staring down the champ, but he eventually shakes hands in a show of goodwill. A completely opposite show of sportsmanship comes from Christian, who attacks Benjamin from behind as soon as Y2J is back up the ramp. An Unprettier finishes the job with a bang, much to the amusement of Bischoff and Coach watching backstage.

Evolution attempts to get Christy to join them for a night on the town, and they don't seem to be taking no for an answer. Jericho bumps into Triple H as he walks by, setting off an exchange of verbal pleasantries that I can't hear because the sound goes out. As Hunter's flunkies attempt to back Y2J into a corner, Maven and Chris Benoit come to his defense, and they are soon joined by Rhyno, Tajiri, Hurricane and Rosey. As you might expect, the heels bid a hasty retreat.

After a quick look back at Edge's night at Taboo Tuesday, J.R. is in the ring for some interview time. Edge declined a chance to go to Des Moines, so he's appearing live via satellite. Asked how he justifies his actions at the pay-per-view (which included costing Shawn Michaels the world title and walking out on Benoit during their tag team title match), Edge says it was his world title to win. Upset with how he's been taken for granted despite fighting through numerous injuries, Edge declares that the fans will see him on Raw again when he's damn good and ready. J.R. next calls out Michaels, who is at the arena even though he had knee surgery on Friday. The Showstoppa limps his way into the squared circle on crutches, and J.R. leaves him alone to address the fans. HBK tells the Des Moines crowd that Taboo Tuesday was the most exciting thing he's seen since his return two and a half years ago, and it was because of the participation of the fans. He goes on to say that he feels like the business has lost something and that wrestlers often forget that they do what they do for the fans. Michaels challenges everyone in the locker room to give their all for the WWE faithful, and says that while he made his last return to prove something to himself, he's going to rehab from this injury and come back for all of you. It's a good promo, which hopefully helps ease the pain of those who bought tickets to tonight's show and have seen one wrestling match in the first 70 minutes.

Maven requests some interview time with Todd Grisham to announce that he is going to make an impact tonight with Bischoff gone. Batista barges in and interrupts, causing Maven to bravely challenge the big man to a match. Evolution's monster laughs off Maven as not worth his time or energy and gets slapped in the face in return. Yep, that did it. And just when I was beginning to wonder who I was going to have to slap to get another match on this show.

Match 2 - Maven vs. Batista

Unfortunately for the plucky Maven, this is looking like a squash. Batista generally has his way, even swatting aside a missile dropkick like it was nothing. It's about that time for the Batista Bomb, but wait - Maven slides down the big man's back and uses an inside cradle to pull off the upset. Batista attempts to, ahem, discuss the finish on the ramp, but Jericho and Benoit appear to protect Maven from retribution.

Just a quick thought here: if Mark Henry was the person sent to get you to "Smackdown the Vote," would you actually be more likely to register? Yeah, me neither.

Match 3 - William Regal vs. Gene Snitsky

It's less of a match and more of a massacre really, with Snitsky attacking from behind before the bell and mercilessly battering Regal until he decides to finish him with a pumphandle slam. Eugene runs down to see to the fallen Brit while Snitsky babbles about causing more destruction. I really like how the WWE has replaced a boring big guy (that would be Kane) with an even bigger bore. Thanks a lot for that.

Trish Stratus drops in on Lita backstage to rub some more salt in the wound of what's been a pretty crappy year for the redhead. If that isn't bad enough, Trish says Lita is looking a little chubby since her pregnancy. That tears it, I guess, since Lita launches into an assault that only ends when Victoria comes to pull the two of them apart. The Smackdown Rebound shows us the seeming face turn of Booker T and the start of a brand new Tough Enough, and Evolution regroups in the locker room and prepares Flair for his match.

Main Event - Ric Flair vs. Randy Orton

There's plenty of chops and punches to open this one, as well as not one but two back body drops that send Flair flying. I'm just about to make a joke about those being the only moves that Flair allows in his matches when Orton suplexes the Nature Boy out on the floor. I hope I'm not doing that when I'm 50. Orton misses a charge into the corner and bangs up his shoulder, sending us to our last commercial break. More classic Flair ensues when he is tossed off the top rope. Orton makes his own trip up top but soon regrets it when Flair ducks under his cross body and chop blocks his left leg. The Nature Boy continues to work over the leg until he can apply his famous Figure Four. Orton turns it over and the battle continues. Randy unleashes a flurry of offense that ends with an RKO, but he can't make a cover because Batista runs down and jumps up on the apron. Jericho, Benoit and Maven quickly administer a beating, distracting the ref in the process. That gives Triple H an opening to hit Orton with a chair shot on the other side of the ring. Flair crawls over and covers to get the unlikely pinfall. The faces team up to back down Evolution, who get a rude surprise when they try to escape into the crowd - Eugene, Rosey, Hurricane, Tajiri, Benjamin and others are out there waiting for them. It's like the old nWo days in reverse as the heels are cornered and surrounded in the ring. Flair gets an RKO from a recovered Orton while HHH tries to make a run for it. He's thrown back into the ring an RKO of his own, though it looks like Orton may have won the battle and lost the war as this wrestling-deficient edition of Raw winds down. See you in seven.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He'd like to thank the WWE for taking it easy on the carpal tunnel syndrome he's developing playing online poker by giving him very little to write about this week.