Raw: Snitsky shown the door
NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Batista is going to WrestleMania. While this should come as little surprise to anyone who's been watching his evolution (pun intended) over the past few months, he needed overtime to defeat John Cena and win the Royal Rumble Sunday night. Now he's looking forward to facing his teammate Triple H for the world heavyweight title, but The Game probably isn't as anxious to face him. Expect that awkward situation to be at the center of tonight's show from San Jose, California. There's also a steel cage hanging ominously over the ring as Triple H and Ric Flair head to the ring to start the latest chapter of Raw.
As usual, Flair can't say enough good things about Hunter, claiming that his victory over Randy Orton at the Rumble cemented his status as the greatest of all time. The Game agrees, but says that something else special happened when Batista won the Rumble match and earned a spot in the main event at Mania. Batista joins his teammates in the ring and hears all the right things from HHH: how he deserves the win and the title shot and how it will be Helmsley's privilege to defend the belt against him. With a smile on his face, Batista is just about to tell Trips how he feels when he is interrupted by an interview on the Titan Tron. Specifically, it's an interview from Sunday night showing JBL waxing philosophically about how Batista is not in his league, and how he would easily take care of big Dave if he were to head over to Smackdown. Triple H immediately takes offense to the comments, but in the paraphrased words of Willie Shakespeare, me thinks he dost protest too
Match 1 - Shelton Benjamin vs. Simon Dean
It occurs to me that since Steve Austin and The Rock were both saddled with crappy gimmicks when they debuted (my apologies to those who liked The Ringmaster), Simon Dean may very well be a superstar somewhere down the road. He certainly isn't right now, though he does get his gym bag full of weight loss products in the way of Benjamin's Stinger Splash to get a near fall. Shelton takes him out a moment later with a spinning heel kick, prompting Dean to say that he only lost because Benjamin uses his patented Simon System. Nice work - that earns Simon a Stinger Splash and a t-bone suplex, both free of charge.
Continuing his acting job, Triple H storms into Eric Bischoff's office and demands to know who played the JBL tape. I suggest starting with the man in the mirror. Trips tells Bischoff he better not be working on trading Batista to Smackdown, since the world champ calls the shots. Eric says we'll see about that as The Game walks away, hinting that the reverse psycholgy ploy might be working. Out in the ring, Christy Hemme is firing t-shirts into the crowd until she is halted by the sudden arrival of Edge. The bitter Canadian asks if she is trying to embarrass him by giving away WrestleMania 21 shirts when he was ever so close to reaching the main event. He's ready to embarrass her in return when Shawn Michaels' music brings the Heartbreak Kid to the ring. Shawn says he's even more embarrassed after losing to Edge and having a guy he eliminated from the Rumble - Kurt Angle - return to eliminate him and slap him in the Ankle Lock. Even though he's
already slated to be in a tag team match later tonight, Michaels says he'll do double duty again and asks for a rematch with Edge, who refuses. He does want Shawn to shake his hand though, so HBK complies... and then blasts him with Sweet Chin Music.
Match 2 - Maven vs. The Hurricane
Here's two guys who were kind of forgotten at the Rumble, with Maven not even making an appearance and Hurricane lasting for about ten seconds. Maven gets in a few moves before the super hero takes over with a lariat and a back body drop. He misses off the top rope, allowing Maven to hit his new finisher to take the match. I have no idea what that move is called, so I'm putting Maven on official notice. Name it within two weeks or I'll come up with my own name like I did for Muhammad Hassan's Jihad Drop.
Maria and one of the other "Raw divas" are about to enter the women's locker room when they bump into Gene Snitsky on his way out. He claims to be looking for someone and says he likes Maria's shoes. This guy is just too creepy for words.
Bischoff questions Coach about the JBL tape, but he knows nothing, nothing! Smackdown GM Theodore Long drops by, allegedly just to show the Raw playas some love. After some prodding, Long admits that he's here to offer Batista a chance to exercise the same loophole Chris Benoit used last year, which would mean that big Dave would face JBL for the WWE title at WrestleMania. Or, perhaps he'd face Big Show, since he could take the title at No Way Out in a Barbed Wire Cage Match. Once Teddy is done plugging, Bischoff tells Coach to have security kick Long out. Meanwhile, Orton is getting ready for his tag team match with Michaels against Triple H and Flair. Stacy Keibler is worried that he's still too beat up from the PPV, but Randy is determined to prove that he's still the Legend Killer.
Match 3 - Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit vs. La Resistance - World Tag Team Title Match
A pretty standard tag team opening sees all four men get a chance to work. Benoit gets an early Crippler Crossface on Robert Conway, but Sylvain Grenier is Johnny on the spot to make the save. The tag champs continue to double team Benoit, who twice gets to his corner to tag out only to find Jericho isn't there - he's either arguing with the ref or tied up with the other LR member. The Crippler finally hits an enzuigiri and makes the hot tag out, setting up a confusing sequence wher the ref loses track of the legal men for each team. Frankly, so do I. Jericho does manage to duck a belt shot from Conway and slap him in the Walls of Jericho, but Grenier breaks the hold. Grenier is next in the Walls until Conway makes the save, and once again Benoit is nowhere to be found. The ref finally gets tired of the hijinks and brings the sloppiness to a close by calling for a double disqualification. Benoit probably hasn't been in a match that sloppy since he was the Pegasus Kid.
Raw just wouldn't be Raw without an appearance from Muhammad Hassan and Daivari. As you might expect, Hassan's gripe du jour is that eight guys from both shows teamed up to eliminate him from the Rumble. He issues a challenge to any of the stereotypical racist Americans in the back, which is answered by Sergeant Slaughter. No, really.
Match 4 - Muhammad Hassan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Sarge gets the Cobra Clutch on in the early going, much to the delight of the California crowd. Hassan rallies with a bearhug and the Jihad Drop, then gets Slaughter to tap out to the Camel Clutch.
Looks like I wasn't the only one who thought that tag team match was sloppy, because Benoit and Jericho are at each other's throats claiming that the other guy wasn't at his best. No kidding. In the Evolution locker room, Triple H tells Flair that maybe he's being selfish by standing in Batista's way. After all, Long is offering him a lot of money, and Evolution could control both title belts if Batista was able to win. Flair thinks it's genius, meaning he's either playing along or can't see Helmsley's obvious reverse psychology for what it is.
Bischoff comes out on stage to plug next week's very special Raw from Japan. He books three matches: Jericho versus Benoit in a Submission Match, William Regal with new partner Tajiri against La Resistance for the tag team straps and Triple H defending against Edge for the world heavyweight championship. Sweet, maybe Edge will finally stop whining.
Match 5 - Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels vs. Evolution (Triple H and Ric Flair)
The faces take turns smacking Flair around; the Nature Boy responds with chops until Orton hits him with a back body drop. Michaels faces off against Triple H, getting off ten mounted punches in the corner but falling to an inverted atomic drop. Both men end up on the top turnbuckle in the opposite corner, but Trips gets knocked off and Michaels follows with his big elbow drop. The fight spills out to the floor where Evolution takes the worst of it and the faces have their obligatory triumphant moment in the ring. Batista throws a chair in the ring and wields another one on the apron, causing the ref to eject him from the fun. He acts like he's upset, but a smile creeps across his face as we head to the commercial break, proving HHH isn't the only one who knows the Brer Rabbit bit. The action resumes with Flair in control of HBK, but Michaels gradually gains the upper hand until Trips gets in a cheap shot from the apron. The Game hits a spinebuster for two and locks in an
abdominal stretch. Michaels hip tosses his way out and throws Flair off the top rope before managing the hot tag to Orton. Randy powerslams Triple H and hits Flair with a backbreaker, but the ref takes a bump and isn't conscious when Orton nails an RKO on Flair. It might not matter anyway, because Orton lands on his head in the process and sells his "concussion" from Sunday night. Triple H tries to take advantage with a Pedigree, but Michaels returns with Sweet Chin Music that leaves him out on his feet. Edge runs in with a Spear meant for HBK that ends up finishing off HHH instead. A groggy Orton crawls over Helmsley and manages to get the three count.
Main Event - Gene Snitsky vs. Kane - Steel Cage Match
One thing's for sure: since it's past 10:55 EST when this match starts, this is likely to be one of the shortest cage matches ever. Both men make unsuccessful early attempts to exit the cage. Snitsky is on his way up for the second time when Trish Stratus comes down to ringside, sporting a neck brace from Kane's chokeslam a week or two back. Kane almost makes it out the door twice before he switches tactics and leaps from the top rope to hit his jumping clothesline. Stratus tries to slam Kane's head in the door, but he yanks her in the cage and prepares to chokeslam her again. Snitsky hits a boot to the face to free her, then does something a little different by ripping the cage door off its hinges. Unfortunately for Gene, that plan backfires when Kane boots the door into his face, then sets the door on its side in the corner and crotches Snitsky on it. A chokeslam on the door gets the three count for Kane, and we're quickly off the air. Wouldn't want to keep both those fans of
the ultimate fighting reality show waiting, you know. See you in seven.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and he's a little concerned that his ticket to Japan to cover next week's show hasn't shown up in the mail yet. Concerned readers or helpful travel agents can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.