Raw: Finally, a new Angle
NICK TYWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
Raw is taking over. Alright, that might be a little bit of an exaggeration since no one would confuse today's product with the glory days of the late '90s. But with WWE champion John Cena in the fold and another draft pick on the way tonight, things are looking up. Let's hope for a good show featuring Cena's in-ring Raw debut as we go live from Binghamton, New York.
The unmistakable sound of shattering glass means we're going to be graced by the presence of the one and only Stone Cold Steve Austin. The Rattlesnake says he's a little nervous, but the NY fans are making him feel right at home. It seems that Austin got a call to appear on tonight's show because one superstar has constantly been getting "the shaft," and it's up to Steve to dispense some Stone Cold justice. If you haven't guessed, the superstar in question is Muhammad Hassan, who heads for the ring with Daivari in tow. Muhammad wants to shake hands, but Austin says he sees sand people. Making it clear that he doesn't care for Hassan, Austin nevertheless agrees to hear the Arab-American's gripe. Muhammad prefers showing to telling, rolling footage of his entire WWE career to this point. Stone Cold still thinks Hassan is a piece of trash but admits that he has been wronged. To make things right, Austin orders an Intercontinental title match between Hassan and Shelton Benjamin, with
you-know-who as the special guest enforcer. Daivari shakes Austin's hand, and it looks like the match will begin right after a word from our sponsors.
Match 1 - Muhammad Hassan (challenger) vs. Shelton Benjamin (champion) - Intercontinental Title Match
Hassan has the early advantage until Benjamin springboards off the top rope to reverse an armbar. Muhammad comes back firing with a hard Irish whip and a snap suplex, but the champ uses an inside cradle to earn a near fall. Jerry Lawler can't resist a comment on the Michael Jackson verdict while the action goes back and forth. Hassan takes control on the outside and grabs a steel chair, but Austin will have none of it, snatching it away. Back in the ring, Shelton reverses a suplex into a neck breaker and rips through a series of moves after an exchange of right hands. Hassan kicks out again, so Benjamin goes for a Stinger Splash that gets countered for a two count. Benjamin builds momentum again and hits a springboard bulldog, bringing Daivari into the fray to save his partner. Hassan uses the distraction to land a low blow and lock on the Camel Clutch. Austin decides he's seen enough and enters the ring to stomp a mudhole in Muhammad. The ref calls for the bell, and Austin adds a touch of irony by announcing that Hassan is still undefeated thanks to a DQ win. Naturally, both Arab-Americans end up on the business end of Stone Cold Stunners, and Austin shares a few beers with Benjamin.
Ever the bootlicker, Coach apologizes to Eric Bischoff for the events that took place at ECW's One Night Stand. The GM says Sunday night never happened and he doesn't want to hear about ECW ever again. Chris Jericho bursts in to express his displeasure that Christian has been named the number one contender for Cena's WWE title. Y2J promises that he'll beat the crap out of Christian tonight in an effort to change Eric's mind. Conveniently, Jericho is scheduled to tag with Cena to take on Christian and Tyson Tomko later in the show. On the way out, Jericho almost literally runs into Triple H. Helmsley also has a complaint to air, but his concerns the rumor he's been hearing that tonight's draft pick will be allowed to say anything he wants to Batista in the ring. The Game says that if the draftee says anything except, "Gee Dave, you really have a good sense of fashion," he'll be upset since the big Hell in a Cell Match is coming up in less than two weeks. And after all, he's worked too
hard to let some second-rate Smackdown jack-off mess it up. Am I allowed to say jack-off? SLAM! Wrestling intern, please check into that for me.
Another week, another Master Lock Challenge. This would probably be the appropriate time to mention that on the rare weeks that Chris Masters is not on TV, I always get e-mail from readers pointing out that I forgot to mention it. To paraphrase Shakespeare, I think you protest too much, and I've come to the conclusion that some of you - gasp! - like Masters. In any case, Masters has upped the prize to $11,000, and he's answered by the most interesting participant yet: Sgt. Slaughter. The Sarge isn't interested in the money or the Challenge, but he's got a challenge of his own for Masters, which is to break the Cobra Clutch. That's a silky smooth segue to...
Match 2 - Chris Masters vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Sarge uses a clothesline to set up the Cobra Clutch, and even though it seems like Masters might submit, he eventually makes it to the ropes. The ref is too busy breaking the hold to notice Masters' mule kick, and he follows up with the Master Lock. The crowd gets behind Slaughter as he struggles to break free, but he eventually wilts and becomes Masters' latest victim. When will it end?
A video package takes us back down the long and winding road that is the Batista-Triple H feud. I'm not kidding about the long part -- I was able to go to the kitchen, nuke some Hot Pockets and pour a drink and I easily made it back to the couch before the segment ended. Oh yeah, if you haven't heard by now, the two of them will meet in a Hell in a Cell Match at Vengeance that may or may not settle the feud for good. My bet is not.
Match 3 - Christian and Tyson Tomko vs. Chris Jericho and John Cena
Cena gets a warm welcome from the Raw crowd, though there are a few haters in the front TV section with anti-Cena signs. All four men get some time to work in the opening part of the match, but the faces emerge triumphant when Cena clotheslines Tomko to the floor and then joins Jericho in hoisting Christian and tossing him down onto his partner. Commercial time. Jericho tags himself in after the break, concerning himself with Christian even when Tomko is the legal man. The heels eventually wear Chris down with quick tags and double-teaming, but Y2J manages a running enzuigiri and makes the hot tag to Cena. The Doctor of Thuganomics runs wild in the ring, smashing Tomko with a spinning power bomb and the Five Knuckle Shuffle while Jericho takes Christian to the floor. The F-U pins Tomko, but Cena gets a rude surprise when Jericho attacks him from behind after the bell. A baseball slide knocks the WWE champ to the floor, where Y2J exposes the guard wall's metal and slams Cena's head
off of it. John also meets the steel steps up close and personal, and the crowd turns on Jericho as the Fozzy front man eyes up the WWE belt. And since we just went through a few weeks of establishing that Jericho cared more about his extracurricular activities than he did about wrestling, I guess it makes perfect sense that he suddenly will do anything for the title.
I leave the room again for the Raw Diva Search casting call. We're going to meet the finalists next week, so program your TiVo now! In the back, Jericho asks Bischoff if he was impressed enough to give him a title shot. Eric says yes, which doesn't make Christian too happy. The GM explains that he's simply adding Jericho to the match, making it a three-way dance for the gold. Before that news has time to sink in, Cena rushes Jericho and a donnybrook ensues. Security and referees pull the two men apart, but not without a struggle.
Match 4 - Maven vs. Viscera
Lilian Garcia is now voluntarily escorting Big Vis to the ring, so his charms, such as they are, must have won her over. Maven gets in a little offense but finally falls to a choke hold power bomb in what is essentially a squash. Next.
Ric Flair and HHH are still obsessing about tonight's draft pick. Trips says he's convinced that anyone really could go anywhere, so it's time for the Nature Boy and The Game to take a stand. They have to show the new addition who calls the shots on Raw.
Match 5 - Kane vs. Sylvain Grenier
Speaking of squashes, this one takes me back to the days of WWF Superstars on USA on Saturday mornings. Those shows were good for about four or five squashes and maybe one main event between two upper card guys. Kane chokeslams poor Grenier three times before pinning him. Sadly, we can't go an episode without the Lita and Edge show, and the traitorous redhead comes to the stage. First she calls out Gene Snitsky and thanks him with a kiss for making sure she didn't bear Kane's child. If that's not bad enough, she calls out Edge and announces that the two of them will be married next week on Raw. Insert your joke here.
J.R. and The King run down the Vengeance card, including tonight's additions. Did you know there's going to be a Hell in the Cell Match? I hadn't heard that. There's also a special WWE Hell in a Cell magazine out right now, which I has to assume contains an exclusive interview with the cell itself.
We're into the home stretch now as Triple H and Flair head for the ring. Trips says The Game is on fire and he's planning on lighting up Las Vegas in two weeks. Since he's feeling so good, he asks for the draft pick to come to the ring. And with its second round pick in the 2005 draft, Raw selects ... oh man, SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer is not going to like this ... Kurt Angle. The Olympic hero says anyone else from Smackdown would take a backseat to Triple H, but not him. After Kurt engages in a brief "whoo-ing" contest with Flair, Trips congratulates Angle on making it back to the big leagues. The Game claims that he still calls the shots, but Kurt thinks it might be Batista who's really in the top spot. Angle says he's impressed with the world champ but not that impressed, so he wants the opportunity to take him on the day after Vengeance. Batista comes out to answer that challenge in person, welcoming Kurt to Raw and telling him he's on. Ever the opportunist,
Triple H jumps in and asks Angle why he has to wait until after Vengeance when they could do it next Monday. Big Dave knows what Hunter is trying to do, but agrees anyway since he is not afraid of Angle. Kurt laughs that everyone got what they wanted, but he's not quite right. That's because Shawn Michaels storms to the ring to challenge Angle to a rematch at Vengeance, in order to keep the promise to his fans that he would face Angle again. Kurt accepts, then all heck breaks loose. Flair gets a dose of Sweet Chin Music and the other four men scrap as the show fades out.
Next week: The Lita-Edge marriage and an introduction to the Raw Diva Search finalists. Hopefully the Batista-Angle match will make up for them.
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Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998. Since he's pretty sure that Dale's head exploded when Raw drafted Angle (one of Dale's favorites), he's thinking Plummer won't need his ticket to Smackdown Tuesday night. If you're in the Hershey, PA, area and want to go to the show, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.