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Raw: Focus on Maven
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Having survived the Survivor Series main event, the team of Randy Orton, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho and Maven will plot the show's course for the next four weeks while Eric Bischoff is on vacation. The fans at Indianapolis' Conseco Fieldhouse find out right away who's calling the shots tonight when Maven comes out to interrupt Sylvan Grenier's rendition of "O Canada." He's got a full night in store, capped off with his own challenge for Triple H's world heavyweight title. Could this be the night for the former Tough Enough winner? We'll find out during Raw, Maven style, live from Indy.

I almost forgot to mention that we'll also be seeing Edge and Christian team to take on Shelton Benjamin and Benoit, Christy Hemme versus Stacy Keibler in a Lingerie Pillow Fight and... Coach versus J.R.? Whatever floats your boat, I guess. But first, Maven makes La Resistance defend their tag team titles in a three-team elimination match.

Match 1 - Rhyno and Tajiri (challengers) vs. Eugene and William Regal (challengers) vs. La Resistance (champions) - World Tag Team Title Elimination Match

Rhyno slugs it out with Robert Conway before tagging in Tajiri, and Eugene soon finds himself in when Conway tags him unexpectedly. An entertaining series of holds, counters and pinning attmepts follows that takes us to a commercial break. Tajiri is still at it, but gets worn down by the champs and needs his partner to tag in and bail him out. Rhyno builds steam but misses a Gore and is pinned when Conway holds his leg from outside the ring. With one set of challengers out of the way, La Resistance turns their attention to Eugene with some double teaming on the floor. He rallies to hit a Rock Bottom, then dives to make the hot tag to Regal. Conway attempts a flag shot that backfires when Regal moves and Grenier takes it instead. Regal lets his young ward tag back in to hit the People's Elbow and give us new tag team champions.

The aforementioned new tag team champs celebrate with new (and horrible) interviewer Maria, and Eugene shows us all why chocolate milk does her body good. Elsewhere, Maven is exploring the intriguing potential of the GM's office to help him pick up chicks. He enters his office to find the world champ waiting for him. Acknowledging that Maven has a big night planned for himself, Triple H says he can offer something even better: membership in Evolution. After all, The Game figures Maven's chances of beating him after getting a beating at the hands of Gene Snitsky Sunday night are minimal, while joining his stable is a sure thing. Whether it's girls, money or fame, Helmsley promises to hand deliver it to Maven if he joins up. Trips gives tonight's GM some time to consider whether or not to make the long-rumored move.

Match 2 - Lita vs. Molly Holly

Bad news Molly. If you're involved in a match tonight, it's almost certain you'll be fired later this week. Just ask Gail Kim. In any case, both ladies have their moments, but Holly eventually is forced to tap to a sleeperhold. Trish Stratus arrives -- sporting a mask to protect her broken nose -- and vows to get even with Lita tonight. Molly attacks from behind but is disposed of with a DDT, and Lita pops Stratus in the face again just for the heck of it.

Much to his dismay, J.R. prepares for his match with a gleeful Coach by removing his tie and his glasses. It looks like it might really happen, but Maven appears on the Titan Tron to tell Coachman that when he said he'd be facing J.R., the "J" was actually silent. There is an "R" though - as in RKO.

Match 3 - Jonathan Coachman vs. Randy Orton

Coach tries to hide in the crowd but is soon forced into the ring. Orton plays with him for a minute or two before sending him packing with an RKO.

Todd Grisham has Edge and Christian backstage to talk about their first time tagging together in over three years, but neither man seems especially thrilled with the idea. Infuriated by the questions, Edge offers to take Grisham back down memory lane with a special five-scond pose that features just a single finger. Think Steve Austin here. Elsewhere, Orton thanks Maven for the "match" with Coach and wants to know if he's fired up for his world title shot. Maven's hesitation betrays the fact that he's still considering HHH's offer, making Orton incredulous. Tonight's GM points out that Orton could challenge Maven for the belt if he won while he can't do the same to Triple H, calling Randy's motivations into question. That display of logic leaves young Orton speechless as Maven walks off.

Match 4 - Edge and Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin and Chris Benoit

Ah, the memories. Back when the tag belts really meant something, Edge and Christian gave us some good times. I'm talking TLC, you know? Back to reality though, and that means these two aren't quite on the same page. All four men work in the early going, with the heels taking the worst of it and a double baseball slide by our heroes sending us to commercial. Benjamin has to escape Edge's cross armbreaker when we return, but a big boot to the face sends him right back to the canvas. The next few minutes see Edge, Christian and even Tyson Tomko all inadvertantly hit each other while Benoit goes nuts with German suplexes. Benjamin t-bones Christian, setting him up for Benoit's diving headbutt. The Crippler Crossface makes Christian tap, angering Edge to the point where he takes out some post-match frustration on his former chum. I guess the magic really is dead.

Back in the GM's office, Ric Flair does his part to sway Maven's decision by bringing in two attractive ladies. Maven, if they just rode Space Mountain, I wouldn't touch them if I were you.

Match 5 - Christy Hemme vs. Stacy Keibler - Lingerie Pillow Fight

The wrestling purist in me hates to call this a match, especially since it's just a flimsy excuse to gawk at hot women. Um, not that there's anything wrong with that, of course. This is pretty much what the name implies, with both women hitting each other with pillows until Christy is able to get the pin.

Batista asks Triple H the question that everyone really wants to know: why the heck would he invite Maven to join Evolution? Trips tries to explain it, and when Batista doesn't follow his reasoning, the world champ tells the big man he shouldn't think so much. Trips claims to be joking, but I think not. Out in the ring, Simon Dean is at it again, antagonizing another poor sap who dares to say he doesn't like Dean's protein bar. Rosey comes to the young man's aid, but Dean thinks he's fat too and offers him a bar. Rosey decides to stuff it back down Dean's throat, touching off a brawl that ends when Simon gets in a few shots with jars of his protein powder. Finally, the Smackdown Rebound chronicles the return of John Cena and his upcoming chance for revenge against the ultra-annoying Carlito Carribean Cool.

Maven finally hears from the two people he hasn't talked to yet, Jericho and Benoit. Jericho wants him to do the right thing, and Benoit makes it emphatically clear how he feels by reminding Maven that it took him eighteen years to win the world title, while he can do it in just three. Point made, I think. One last vignette before the main event, and it's more from Mussamed Hassan. Any doubt that he's going to be protrayed as a heel ends when he talks about his Uncle Akbar's store and says that he will beat the prejudice out of the WWE and lead a revolution in this country if neccessary. I'm getting the feeling that when he finally debuts, I won't be able to roast this gimmick fast enough, but we'll see.

Main Event - Triple H (champion) vs. Maven (challenger) - World Heavyweight Title Match

At least it's our main event if Maven decides not to join Evolution. Trips makes one last pitch, but Maven doesn't go for it and the match is on. The Game quickly summons Batista and Flair, causing Jericho and Benoit to come down the ramp to even the playing field. Evolution makes the first move when Batista interferes, getting himself and Flair ejected as a result. That gives the two Chrises some space to intercede on behalf of the challenger, with one distracting the ref while the other beats on HHH. Maven scores a series of two counts, but he goes for one move too many when he misses a high cross body off the top turnbuckle. Trips looks for the Pedigree only to have Benoit distract the ref so Jericho can nail a bulldog and a Lionsault. Maven covers but the champ just beats the count. The Game also escapes mounted corner punches with an inverted atomic drop and hits a Pedigree, but Jericho puts Maven's foot on the ropes... sort of. In any case, the ref ejects Y2J and the match continues. The Crippler uses the commotion to hit a German suplex and diving headbutt combo, but Helmsley manages to lift his shoulder again just before the three. Edge sneaks into the fray, but his spear hits the ref and chaos breaks out with Jericho, Batista and Flair returning. Flair sneaks the belt in to Triple H, but Orton arrives to give the champ a taste of his own gold. Maven crawls over for yet another cover only to have Flair drag the ref out. Snitsky is the last guy to join the party, and he ponders who to attack before settling on a big boot for Maven. Triple H seals the deal with a Pedigree, and Raw ends with the unsettling thought that the world champ is in the debt of everyone's least favorite Raw superstar. Or at least Snitsky should be everyone's least favorite. See you in seven.


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  • It's now out! Order the book Adam Copleland on Edge

    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, but didn't know until last night that it was called Survivor Series this year because you would have to survive sitting through it. Hit him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com if you disagree.