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RAW: Surviving another edition
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


They say everything is bigger in Texas, and on tonight's show from the capital of the Lone Star State, what's likely to be bigger is the beef. We're not talking longhorns, we're talking about the growing tensions between various members of the roster as they hit the final stretch before Sunday's Survivor Series. First and foremost is the classic elimination match that will decide who controls Raw for the next month while general manager Eric Bischoff is on vacation. World heavyweight champion Triple H might have something to say about that, so let's listen in as Raw kicks off live.

The champ is indeed here after taking last Monday off. Triple H says that his absence led to some people taking shots at Evolution, resulting in an injury to Ric Flair. But Batista is still by his side, and neither man is very happy, especially with Bischoff. Before Trips can elaborate, Bischoff joins them in the ring, threatening to strip Helmsley of his title if he decides to get phsyical. Eric tells Evolution to concentrate on their Survivor Series match, reminding them that each member of the winning team will get to control Raw for one week while he is away. With all of the reminders out of the way, Bischoff orders the action to start and gets the first match in gear.

Match 1 - Batista vs. Randy Orton

Let me first say that if these two men are the future of the WWE, let's hope they continue to improve on the ingredients they use to build a match with each other. One can only watch so many punches, shoulderblocks and chinlocks per night, and my quota is filled in the first few minutes of this one. Things finally get going after the obligatory commercial break when Orton uses a pair of dropkicks and a big clothesline to send Batista over the top, then DDTs him on the floor. Both men battle to the top of the turnbuckle, where Orton shoves his foe down to the canvas and hits a high cross body for a near fall. An inverted neckbreaker follows and both men counter the other's finisher. Batista rushes into one corner, but Orton uses a slick roll-up to get the three count and carry some momentum into Sunday's main event.

What else will we be seeing tonight? Glad you asked. Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel promises to be tense when he welcomes Trish Stratus and Lita, and Chris Benoit will take on Edge in the main event. Backstage, Orton rallies his Survivor Series team of Benoit, Jericho and Maven until Batista bursts in and does what he does, starting a brawl. Just in case you don't know why Benoit and Edge are feuding, a highlight package walks us back through the events that have led to tonight, including a post-Raw promo from last Monday that shows Benoit promising to do something "unthinkable" to Edge tonight. The Wolverine is going to wrestle a bad match? Now that would be unthinkable.

Match 2 - Tyson Tomko vs. Shelton Benjamin

Christian watches with interest as his "Problem Solver" makes his return from knee surgery. I've got to be honest - I sort of forgot he was even gone. Benjamin scores the first near fall with a backbreaker variation, but Christian's distraction gives Tomko the space to hit a fallaway slam in response. Both men exchange two counts before Benjamin builds momentum with a guillotine and a clothesline off the top, though he misses his leap into the corner. Escaping a power move by Tomko, Benjamin superkicks Christian off the apron and turns to hit a t-bone suplex and get the duke.

It just wouldn't be Monday without a Smackdown Rebound to catch us up on the other WWE brand, though I prefer to get my fix by reading Dale Plummer's Smackdown reports right here on SLAM! Wrestling. Whatever your preference, you'll find out about Kurt Angle shaving Big Show bald. Oh it's true, it's true. Also there's apparently another Tough Enough going where almost every contestant looks exactly the same. Cloning rules!

Jericho has a referee with him to keep order as Trish and Lita join him for the Highlight Reel. Stratus can't figure out why the host would want Lita around since she is the kiss of death for TV shows and is sure to get him cancelled. Y2J fires back that the only thing getting cancelled is his subscription to Better Sluts and Gardens since he has a real live one right there. Unfazed, Trish turns to taunting Lita, but she's interrupted by the arrival of Gene Snitsky carrying what appears to be a baby boy. It's a doll though, as he reveals by punting it into the crowd. Jericho decides he's had enough and knocks Snitsky out to the floor, but the behemoth recovers and hurls the host back first into the post. Lita does what she's learned to do well over the past few months, huddling in a corner and looking frightened.

If you thought you had seen long, drawn-out segments before, get yourself strapped in for this one. Raw welcomes back new sponsor Simon Dean and his annoying plugs for his Simon System. Dean berates various members of the Austin crowd for being overweight. Yes, we get it, you're a heel because you insult the fans. I think we've seen that before. In any case, Dean settles on a woman in purple to join him in the ring to receive a free supply of his liquid fat burner. I'll spare you the rest except to say that she eventually throws the liquid in his face. Yawn... next!

Match 3 - Triple H vs. Tajiri

The champ is actually going to grace us by working a non-title match? How about that? Tajiri, you may remember, was involved in the mocking of HHH last week, which may explain why he's on the hit list. Sadly, things never even get started thanks to Snitsky, who attacks Tajiri from behind on the ramp. Helmsley is impressed, and he invites the big man into the ring to officially welcome him to the Survivor Series team. One problem though: Snitsky isn't much of a team player and plans on using his week running Raw to pursue Triple H's world title. I'm begging you WWE, please don't let that happen. Think of the children.

Speaking of questionable judgment, another vignette airs showing that Muhammed Hassan grew up in America just like you, so please judge him on his ability and not his Arab heritage. This gimmick has "bad idea" written all over it, but I thought the same thing about Eugene and the WWE has handled that one pretty well so far. They grudgingly get the benefit of the doubt for the time being. Michael Cole and Tazz break down the Smackdown half of the Survivor Series card, and J.R. and The King do the same for the Raw matches. For some reason, Lawler leads the fans in an "O.U. sucks" chant for his broadcast partner. How sweet. In the back, new interviewer Maria asks Edge about his upcoming match with Benoit. Triple H crashes in to welcome Edge to his team and warn him about Snitsky, but the Canadian has the same designs on Triple H's gold.

Stinging from the reactions of his "teammates," HHH tells Batista to talk to Edge and Snitsky to make sure they are on the same page for Survivor Series. But when the champ leaves the room, Evolution's big man seems awfully fascinated with the title belt. I'm left with this thought: if Triple H runs in and yells, "you can't have the precious, it's ours," I'm out of here. Oh, and Diva Search winner Christy Hemme is the special ring announcer for the main event, if you care.

Main Event - Edge vs. Chris Benoit

The action starts with brawling at the bottom of the ramp before settling into the ring. Benoit gets the best of the early going, driving Edge to retreat back toward the stage. It turns out to be a set-up though, and Benoit gets pasted right before our last commercial break. The Wolverine fights his way out of a submission hold but Edge is still in control when Evolution's music hits to bring Trips and Batista to ringside. Edge hits a suplex, and more music brings out Orton, Jericho and Maven. The gang's all here. Edge counters a suplex and rains down right hands, then hits a suplex of his own. He goes up top but is met and planted by a Benoit superplex. The Crippler takes charge by bouncing Edge's head off the steps and the wall on the outside, busting him open in the process. Edge feels the pain of the Sharpshooter but manages to crawl to the bottom rope to escape. Benoit keeps up the pressure with three German suplexes and his diving headbutt, and the Crippler Crossface is next. Just as Edge is on the verge of either tapping or reaching the ropes, Triple H interferes from the floor. Chaos ensues with the ref calling for the bell and all of the elimination match participants scrapping. That includes Snitsky, who tosses Maven and Benoit out of the ring and joins Edge in staring down The Game. Batista rushes to his side, but the faces regroup and clear the ring. Humorously, the show ends with Hunter and his cronies making numerous attempts to storm the ring from the ramp side and getting knocked off the apron each time. Tune in to Survivor Series on Sunday then be back here in seven to find out who's running the show.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's currently suffering from a migraine headache, so please insert your own joke tagline here. Actual humor content is, of course, optional.