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Raw: Yapping towards Sunday
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


Fort Worth, are you ready for some talking? Just six days away from WrestleMania, that's what you're likely to get. It's not all bad though, as Texas, own Shawn Michaels will be in action against quasi-undefeated wonder Muhammad Hassan. Onward.

Just like we do about every other week, we lead off with Chris Jericho's Highlight Reel. The ladder and hanging briefcase are in the house once again, symbols of the six-man ladder match this coming Sunday. Jericho brings out Chris Benoit and Shelton Benjamin so he has an audience for his claim that he's the hungriest of the combatants. Both take exception, with Benoit pointing out that he's fought his way back from a broken neck to pursue the world title and Benjamin claiming the Intercontinental title has made him so hungry he's starving. Vince, please get that guy a per diem or something. Christian (with Tyson Tomko) and Edge arrive to give the heel perspective, which is backed by the fact that both of them have a pair of previous WrestleMania ladder match wins. Edge even claims he'd snap his opponents' necks to win the world title shot, which sets off Benoit, which starts the inevitable melee. Everybody is kung fu fighting when we go to commercial, but while we're away, Bischoff sneaks in and foils the Vegas line for earliest six-man tag in tonight's show by turning this into an official match.

Match 1 - Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit and Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian, Tyson Tomko and Edge

Benjamin draws the short straw as he's the face that gets the extended beating. He finally connects on a double clothesline with Edge and gives way to Benoit, who slaps a Sharpshooter on Edge and gives Christian a triple dose of rolling German suplexes. He heads up top only to be crotched by Edge, who busts The Crippler open via a superplex. Benoit is really bloody after our next commercial break, but he manages to shove Christian off the top turnbuckle and hit the diving head butt before making the hot tag to Jericho. Y2J dodges an Edge Spear that hits Tomko instead; our heroes also misfire when Benjamin's spinning heel kick nails Benoit. Tomko almost beheads Shelton with a big boot, but legal man Jericho returns to force Tomko to tap to the Walls of Jericho. Christian decides the fun isn't quite over as he grabs a ladder to lay out Jericho, but he's singing a different tune once Kane shows up. The Big Red Machine lays out a couple of guys and finishes his frolicking with a choke slam for Edge.

The amusing When Harry Met Sally parody runs again to promote WrestleMania, which is only six days away if I failed to mention that before. I'll get on board with SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer and encourage all of you to vote for the awards the WWE is having for the movie promo ads, if only because it will be the only acting awards any of these guys and gals will likely ever win. Plus, all joking aside, the ads are just cool. In the back, Bischoff barges in on Batista to get The Animal to promise not to start any 'physicality' when he faces off with Triple H later in tonight's show. The best Big Dave can do is to give his word not to start anything, though he will finish it if The Game jumps first. Through a series of events that would take me too long to explain, the segment ends with Batista comparing Bischoff to The Gimp of Pulp Fiction fame.

And now the moment we've all been waiting for: arm wrestling between Christy Hemme and Trish Stratus. After much posturing on the part of the women's champ, the match ends up in anticlimactic fashion when Hemme beats Trish easily. Stratus whines her way to a rematch but gets beaten just as quickly the second time, causing her to take out her frustration on Lillian Garcia and Lita.

Because no one in a high profile WrestleMania match wants to go in without getting in the last word, Randy Orton comes to the ring. The Legend Killer explains his RKO on likely ex-girlfriend Stacy Keibler last week by saying that she was hesitant when asked if Orton could beat The Undertaker, and if you're not with Randy, you're against him. He's elaborating when the lights dim, 'Taker's gong hits and the Titan Tron shows a sweet video package counting back from the Dead Man's most recent WrestleMania triumph all the way to the beginning of his streak. The ringposts catch on fire as Undertaker's music hits, startling Orton to say the least. Randy is on his way out of the building when Kane catches up with him to give him a bit of advice on even attempting to beat his brother. Kane insists that Orton has only six days to show The Phenom he's not scared, meaning Dale can probably look forward to seeing the Legend Killer on Thursday. (Editor's Note: TSN aired Orton's RKO on Stacy this week in a clip, but wouldn't air it live last week. Explain that to me?)

Match 2 - William Regal and Tajiri (champions) vs. La Resistance (challengers) vs. Maven and Simon Dean (challengers) - World Tag Team Title Match

No, the tag straps aren't forgotten -- it just seems like that sometimes. Not really much of interest here once Regal works his way out of some early trouble, tagging Tajiri to pin Maven with a stiff kick to the head. Sorry guys, because you probably deserve a little better.

Bischoff takes his plea to the world champ, who angrily points out that it was the GM (at least in his mind) that pushed hardest for Batista to remain on Raw. So in case you were wondering if Trips plans on behaving, um, no, he doesn't.

Main Event - Muhammad Hassan vs. Shawn Michaels

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but Hassan is still upset about being left off the WrestleMania card. And unless they book a match for him tonight, he's probably going to remain that way. HBK takes control early, flipping Hassan over the top rope onto Daivari to usher in a break. Hassan has a surfboard applied when we return, and he scores a series of near falls in quick succession. Daivari even lends a hand softening Michaels up for the Camel Clutch, but Shawn manages to crawl to the ropes. HBK rallies with an inverted atomic drop and a flurry of right hands, then he hits his top rope elbow and warms up the band. No music this time though, as Kurt Angle emerges from the stands and forces the ref to throw out the match. Angle accidentally takes out Hassan during the scuffle, which leaves him an easy target for Sweet Chin Music once Kurt retreats back into the crowd.

Bischoff gives his security guards a pep talk for the upcoming discussion, or whatever it's supposed to be, between the two Mania main eveners. Speaking of which, we get one last rundown of the card as well as a video showing us just how Triple H and Batista got to this point. You know, in case you just tuned into the show with ten minutes to go and haven't watched WWE programming on three months. I guess that's possible.

A table and chairs are set up in the ring, and Bischoff says each man will get a chance to say how they feel about the other. Um, okay. Trips goes first, sticking to his theme that Batista is an ingrate who doesn't realize that The Game created him and there's no way he can win. Big Dave says he will say thanks, especially to Ric Flair for teaching him so much. But he thinks Helmsley is an a--hole, which isn't really news at this point. The table is flipped and a fight breaks out, though Bischoff's boys eventually prove up to the challenge of getting things settled down. And that's all she wrote for another Raw 'season.' Talk to you after the big show.

Next week: who the heck knows? New faces and perhaps a new champion, but the same old sarcasm is likely.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. He's giving the WWE writing team one last chance to accept his challenge to Muhammad Hassan, so he's got his bags packed for Hollywood just in case.