Welcome to another edition of "As Evolution Turns." Tonight's broadcast leads off with a recap of the growing rift between Triple H and Batista, including HHH costing his teammate a shot at the world heavyweight title shot last Monday. Expect more developments on that front tonight, along with a likely snoozer and a great tehcnical match.
I'll just tell you that we'll see Chris Benoit versus Chris Jericho and Kane take on Gene Snitsky and let you figure out which one is which. It's time for Raw, live from the home of the Maple Leafs... um, live from the home court of Vince Carter... uh, live from the home base of SLAM! Wrestling, Toronto.
The crowd gets an early dose of Canadian flavor in the form of Jericho, who is set up for the Highlight Reel. He barely even gets into his opening monologue when he's interrupted by Muhammad Hassan and Daivari, who, as luck would have it, were his guests anyway. Hassan immediately ingratiates himself with the fans by saying that Canadians deserve to be treated like second-class citizens by Americans because the terrorists gained access to New York through Canada. Nice. He goes on to say that Canadians have the same racist tendencies as Americans, but are too cowardly to back them up when confronted. Naturally this leads to a war of words with Y2J that escalates into fists. The Walls of Jericho have Hassan tapping out, but Daivari flies back in to turn the tide. Muhammad nails his inverted Russian leg sweep move and is about to dream up some more harm when Benoit arrives to bail out his countryman.
Now it's soap opera time. Triple H asks Ric Flair what's up with Batista, and the Nature Boy assures the champ that everything is cool. Trouble is, Ric didn't actually talk to the big guy, just played phone tag with him. He's just going to be a little late tonight. After a commercial break, we learn that La Resistance won the tag team titles in a non-televised match in Winnipeg. Poor William Regal had to defend them all by his lonesome.
Match 1 - La Resistance and Maven vs. Shelton Benjamin, The Hurricane and Rosey
There's nothing quite like a six-man tag match to suck the heat right out of a crowd. The Air Canada Centre crowd does its part to pump things up by chanting, "Maven swallows." Crude, but effective. The faces score the first few near falls, though the heels rally by beating the tar out of Hurricane. Rosey gets a hot tag and starts wreaking havoc, but Maven distracts the ref long enough for La Resistance to score with the Au Revoir and get the pinfall.
New number one contender Randy Orton has a chance encounter with Stacy Keibler, who says she's really glad he won his match last week. Oh yeah, she also kisses him on the cheek, the lucky jerk. We also learn that there will be a press conference in Hollywood this Wednesday featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin, though J.R. and The King act like they don't know what it will be about. Well, here at SLAM! Wrestling we do! Through our sources, we've learned that the conference will announce the signing of Austin to a three-picture deal with WWE Films. The Rattlesnake is going Hollywood, and you heard it exclusively here at SLAM! Wrestling. What's that? It's not an exclusive? Yeah, well my sources tell me that Austin will be eating Lucky Charms for breakfast before the conference. Remember, that's a SLAM! Wrestling exclusive!
Orton comes to the ring to talk about facing Triple H at the Royal Rumble, a fact we just learned a few seconds ago. Randy has come up with a plan to... wait for it... beat Trips and take his world heavyweight title. Wow. The champ shows up to retort, saying that he thought Orton might be the heir apparent at one time until he abandoned Evolution. Now he's got no chance because Hunter is the best, he's beaten everyone, yadda, yadda, yadda. Orton at least has the presence of mind to point out that Triple H says that all the time. He wants The Game to come to the ring to back up his tough talk, but HHH wants Orton to come to him. Randy runs into an ambush at the top of the stage and the ensuing scrap spills down toward the ring. Trips grabs a chair, but Orton fends him off and turns his attention to the incoming Flair. Ric gets a back body drop and joins Helmsley in a hasty retreat now that our hero has the chair.
Maria wants a word with Evolution but gets shot down for her trouble. Batista finally arrives and tells Triple H that everything is indeed cool. He also says that he needs to talk to Eric Bischoff, which HHH offers to do for him since he claims to have pull with the GM. Batista declines, mentioning that it is something about the Royal Rumble and the world title. Cue dramatic music here.
Coach fares better than Maria in his attempt to speak with Shawn Michaels. When it's pointed out that he's not too popular in Toronto, HBK replies that it's been more than seven years and even if he's not forgiven, he's moving on. In fact, he'd like to move on to a Royal Rumble qualifying match so he can take care of his new arch-enemy, Edge. Bischoff drops in and declares that because Michaels is a Royal Rumble icon, he doesn't have to go through a qualifying match: he's automatically in. But since he's already dressed and has so much fun every time he wrestles north of the border, Eric went ahead and booked him to face Christian. That's next, by the way.
Match 2 - Christian vs. Shawn Michaels
Edge comes out on stage, a development so exciting that the producers give us a commercial break to let it fully sink in. We return to find both men down, so something semi-interesting must have happened. Edge walks down to get a closer look. Christian and Tyson Tomko get in a few licks out on the floor; Christian also gets off a string of about five near falls when they return to the ring. HBK fends off an Unprettier and finally rallies with a Thesz press, much to the dismay of the fans. Michaels uses a backslide to get a two count, then nails a flying forearm and nips up. An inverted atomic drop keeps the momentum going even though Shawn has to dodge Edge and toss him over the top rope to the floor. The assault continues with a big elbowdrop and Michaels warms up the band. Christian ducks Sweet Chin Music only to see HBK evade the Unprettier and connect with his finisher to get the duke. Michaels has no time to celebrate as he has to fend off Tomko again, which unfortunately
leaves him wide open for Edge's Spear. The mad Canadian locks him in his nifty submission hold and talks some trash for good measure.
Match 3 - Batista vs. Viscera
Yep, you knew it was going to happen eventually. As further validation for Batista's status as a monster, he just has to take on the heaviest guy on the Raw roster. Mercifully this match is short, with Batista putting Big Vis away with a spinebuster that The King annoyingly keeps calling a Batista Bomb. Hey Jerry, for that to be true he would have had to lift Viscera completely over his head. And folks, even Batista's not doing that.
Because every backstage segment now has to focus on Evolution, we find Flair and Triple H congratulating Batista on his "big" win. The Game also asks what Bischoff wanted, and Batista reveals that he can have a Royal Rumble qualifying match if he wants. Trips doesn't think that's a good idea since Evolution's main focus should be on defending the world title, and it's a little selfish for Dave to think of himself instead of the team. Batista agrees that it is a little selfish, and no one likes a selfish, self-centered egomaniac. Oooh, what a burn.
Match 4 - Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit
Torn by loyalty to both men, the fans get creative during the opening bit of fast-paced mat wrestling with a "let's go Chris" chant. Benoit hits a German suplex and Jericho tries to respond with the Walls of Jericho, but the Wolverine counters right into a commercial. Jericho powers out of a chinlock after the break and connects with a leg whip. A battle in the corner ends with a big superplex by Jericho that leaves both men stunned. Benoit tries to strike back with a suplex, but both men end up tumbling over the top and down to the floor. The Crippler takes the fight back inside and scores with a forearm shot, a hard Irish whip and not one, not two but three German suplexes. He climbs to the top but misses his diving headbutt when Jericho rolls away. Both men try for their signature submissions, but Y2J outfoxes Benoit with an inside cradle out of a Sharpshooter to get the three count. There's a bit of tension after the bell, but cooler heads prevail and Chris and Chris shake
In case you don't recall why Kane and Snitsky are feuding, a video package takes us back through the whole dismal affair. To paraphrase Snitsky, it's not my fault if you have to watch it. Another promo airs for "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters, and I decide I liked him better the first time I saw him... when he was called Lex Luger. Props to David Spade for that one. Finally, we get a rundown of the Royal Rumble card, which includes four relatively meaningful matches to go with the always enjoyable Rumble match itself. My hopes are actually pretty high.
Before we get to the main event, Trish Stratus comes down to address her home crowd. Trish likes the appreciation she gets in Canada, as well as the chance to gloat about her victory over Lita that left her bitter foe with a knee injury that will take months to heal. As she turns to some more personal insults I won't repeat here, Kane decides he's heard enough and rushes to the ring. Trish tries to flee, but Kane corners her and puts his hand around her throat. He appears to have a change of heart when he lets her go, but he turns back around and plants Stratus with a chokeslam. A ref calls for help as we go to what is hopefully our last commercial break. I can only see the "Mercenaries" ad so many times.
Main Event - Kane vs. Gene Snitsky - No Holds Barred
Two things immediately pop into my mind. First is that I often slip while typing Snitsky and type "Snotsky," which I'm sure is my brain subliminally getting across just what I think of him. The second thing is that I swear every match between these two has been No Holds Barred or No DQ or something like that. Anyway, the fight starts on the outside before spilling into the ring for Kane to hit his jumping clothesline. Snitsky retaliates with the help of the ring bell and gets a two count. Gene keeps it rolling with a few shots from a weightlifting belt and a steel chair, pausing only to place the chair over Kane's neck. He climbs the ropes only to see Kane sit up and use the chair to knock him all the way to the floor. It's Kane's turn for some belt shots, and the Big Red Machine decides to take the fight all the way up to the stage. He's thinking of a chokeslam when Snitsky kicks him in the family jewels and has thoughts of knocking Kane off the stage. Kane ducks and grabs Gene
by the throat, then launches into a jumping chokeslam that propels both men off the side and down through a group of tables on the floor. All that's left is for someone to clean up the mess. See you next week.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He'd like to ask the Toronto fans to chant "You screwed Edge" for a little while just as a change of pace.