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COMMENT





Raw: A Cool champ, a wedding swerve and a streak ends
By NICK TYWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


We're going to have ourselves a hot show tonight. I mean that literally, because it's about 110 degrees in Phoenix, the site of this week's broadcast. Hopefully Batista's first ever match with Kurt Angle and the continuing WWE draft will make the action hot inside the arena as well. It's the last Raw before Vengeance, live on Spike TV.

I'm still not quite used to hearing John Cena's music, but the champ is definitely here to start tonight's festivities. The WWE champion says he's only been on Raw for a minute, but he's already figuring out that it's like the wild West: if you want to do something, you just do it. Thus, he's not mad about getting jumped by his own tag team partner, Chris Jericho, last Monday, nor is he upset that Christian has made him a target. He does say that the two Canadians ain't seen nothing yet, and he calls them both out to come get some. What Cena actually gets is Muhammad Hassan and Daivari. Muhammad suggests that the Doctor of Thuganomics has nothing to complain about, since he has been given a warm welcome from the Raw fans, unlike the Arab-Americans. Cena offers his own opinion about why the fans hate Hassan (hint: it includes a dirty word for butt) and wonders why the two of them can't fight tonight to settle their difference of opinion. Eric Bischoff interrupts from the stage, reminding Cena that Raw is his show, so he'll make the matches. The GM does indeed book the two of them for a match, but makes it a title bout for Cena's WWE strap. Cena has no problem with that and wants to get it going immediately, but Hassan says he needs to prepare, and the Arab-Americans retreat up the ramp.

More from Bischoff in the ring, as Eric says he's ready to make his next draft pick and brags that he's about to go three for three. But first, he wants to bring out the man he calls the crown jewel of last year's draft, Intercontinental champion Shelton Benjamin. Shelton joins him in the ring, where Eric says that the young superstar has had the longest I-C title reign in nearly 10 years, winning the belt way back at last year's Taboo Tuesday from Jericho when Y2J didn't know who he was going to face that night. Benjamin snatches the mic and says he sees where this is headed: Bischoff will make him face the new draftee for his title tonight. If that's the case, Benjamin wants the new pick to show himself now. After a dramatic pause, Raw welcomes Carlito Caribbean Cool. And I thought we were out of ways to tick off SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer. Say goodbye to The Cabana, Dale! Carlito is ready for action, so here we go.

Match 1 -- Carlito Caribbean Cool (challenger) vs. Shelton Benjamin (champion) -- Intercontinental Title Match

Carlito finds a direct confrontation with the champ not too much to his liking, so he ducks out to the floor repeatedly in the early going. On the third time, Benjamin tries a corkscrew plancha, but catches his foot on the top rope and hits the floor pretty hard right before the commercial break. Back in the ring, Carlito tries a couple of covers but gets two each time. A double clothesline sends both men to the mat, and the champ is up first, firing off a back elbow, a clothesline and a back body drop. Shelton goes up top but is met by his foe, who he has to head butt down to the canvas. Benjamin hits a top rope clothesline and a Northern Lights suplex but can't seal the deal, and the announcers are selling his disastrous plancha as the reason. CCC nails a DDT for two and goes for a front Russian leg sweep, but Benjamin counters with an inside cradle for a near fall. Carlito moves away from a Stinger Splash but can't avoid a sunset flip or a Samoan drop, though he manages to kick out of both. The end finally comes when Benjamin goes for a suplex and Carlito counters with a roll-up, and the challenger grabs the ropes to make sure he gets the three count. Yes, the apple-spitting cool guy is a champion on his first night on Raw.

Edge gets dolled up for his wedding to Lita later tonight, and WWE Hall of Famer Superstar Billy Graham is in the house. For the show, I mean, not necessarily for the wedding. Backstage, Carlito sends Maria for an apple when she asks how he was able to beat Benjamin. CCC says he will be the greatest I-C champ ever, then demonstrates his apple-spitting technique on poor gullible Maria.

Match 2 -- Viscera vs. Simon Dean

Dean does his usual bit, insulting the good folks of Phoenix and calling Viscera even fatter than Charles Barkley. The match isn't much of one, with Dean getting in only a few kicks before falling to the big splash and a choke-hold power bomb. Lilian Garcia joins Viscera in the ring and says that while things have been moving fast between them, she's ready for them to move even faster. She says that this Sunday in Las Vegas, Viscera just might get lucky and hit the jackpot. So I guess they're an official couple now. The WWE is soon going to need its own version of People magazine to keep all of this stuff straight.

A video shows us more foolishness from the new Raw Diva Search. In the arena, Todd Grisham asks Jericho if his recent confrontation with Cena and his upcoming title shot have renewed his interest in wrestling. Y2J says he's made wrestling interesting for himself by taking on the WWE champ, but he reveals an ulterior motive by pointing out that once he wins the WWE title, Fozzy's record sales will soar. Christian drops by to remind Jericho that he shouldn't be overlooked and to say that he's not a fan of either Cena's or Jericho's albums. Next up is yet another in a long series of promos for Sunday's Hell in a Cell Match, though this one is a little more tolerable since it has a big helping of Mick Foley. Finally, Angle pays Bischoff a visit and the two of them hit if off famously. How cute, the GM has a new friend.

I guess it was inevitable: it's time for the wedding. The ring is set up to look like a small wedding chapel, and Edge makes his way down dressed in a cowboy hat and leather and still toting his briefcase. Lita follows in what has to be the most revealing wedding gown ever, leaving very little of the chest region to the imagination. The priest says the two of them want to share the story of their love before they proceed, so they roll a video entitled "Lita and Edge: A Love Story" which mostly recaps how they've ridiculed Kane. That inspires them to start making out, so the priest gets them back on track by saying a large, unusual looking man wants to say a few words. It's not Kane, but Gene Snitsky in a sleeveless tux who comes to the stage and reads the only wedding poem ever to include the word uterus. Another first comes during the vows, when Lita declares that if she's a slut for falling in love with Edge, then she's proud to be the slut of the century. We get to the part where the priest says speak now or forever hold your peace, and the crowd gets a thrill when Matt Hardy's music hits. Alas, it's just a joke (a tasteless one, naturally) set up by Edge. There is someone who objects though, and that someone is a Big Red Machine who is hiding under the ring. Kane bursts through the floor and grabs Lita, though Edge is able to battle him long enough to whisk his would-be bride up the ramp to relative safety. Kane angrily destroys the wedding set, then turns to the poor priest and plants him with a Tombstone. Guess we'll have to try the wedding again next week folks. Only kidding ... I hope.

Kane grabs the mic from a helpless Coach and delivers a simple message to Edge and Lita: I'm back. Elsewhere, Grisham gets a few words with Christy Hemme about her attack at the hands of Victoria and subsequent revenge. Not surprisingly, Hemme doesn't care much for Victoria and is looking forward to facing her at Vengeance. She might not get the chance though, as Victoria busts in and smashes a glass of some sort over the Diva's head. Grisham is forced to see if he has "concern" in his acting repertoire while medical personnel rush to Christy's aid.

Match 3 -- Muhammad Hassan (challenger) vs. John Cena (champion) -- WWE Title Match

Cena starts out quickly, hitting a shoulderblock and clotheslining Hassan out to the floor. Daivari helps his partner gain the advantage, which he uses to hit a snap suplex for two. The champ regroups with a series of clotheslines and a spinning slam that set up the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena hits the F-U and just like that, Hassan's undefeated streak is history. There's no time for the Doctor to celebrate, since Jericho attacks him on the ramp and is soon joined by Christian to stomp the heck out of him. Y2J hungrily eyes the WWE gold as the show heads to commercial.

Christian makes a hasty exit from the building, pausing just long enough to tell two of the Divas not to miss the pay-per-view where he will be the new WWE champion. That segues nicely into the segment where the eight Diva Search finalists are introduced, if you care about that sort of thing. They will debut on Raw next Monday. And we get a rundown of the Vengeance card, which now includes a rematch between Benjamin and Carlito and the seemingly endless continuation of the Kane-Edge-Lita triangle.

Match 4 -- Kurt Angle vs. Batista

Angle manages to put on the Ankle Lock almost immediately, but the world champ reaches the ropes. Batista charges into the corner only to have Angle move and his shoulder hit the post hard. Kurt uses an armbar to continue the pain, but Batista fights out with a sidewalk slam. Dave takes the fight out to the floor and introduces Kurt's head to the steel steps. Triple H and Ric Flair come rushing down to assault Batista, forcing the ref to call for the bell as it turns into a 3-on-1 stomp fest. The crowd erupts when Shawn Michaels comes to the rescue, and the faces soon clear the ring. Normally we'd call that a wrap for the night, but Bischoff emerges from the back and says that's not how we're going to end things tonight. He says it's obvious all four men want to fight, so he orders the match to continue as a tag team bout. That gives us ...

Main Event -- Kurt Angle and Triple H vs. Batista and Shawn Michaels

Hunter has Shawn in a sleeper hold, which he soon escapes to land a flying forearm and nip up. Flair comes in with a chop block, giving the heels the momentum they need to start working HBK over. Angle focuses his attack on Michaels' left leg and Helmsley does the same, and Shawn sells it like nobody else. Angle slaps on an STF that is countered by a suplex, but Shawn can't make it to his corner for a tag. He does foil Triple H's attempt at a Figure Four by using an enzuigiri, and he finally hops over and makes the hot tag to Batista. Big Dave's ensuing rampage features a power slam on The Game that forces a save by Angle, so Michaels rushes in and neutralizes Kurt by battling him to the floor and then over the wall. Trips executes his face buster but Batista responds with a spinebuster, turning to catch the incoming Flair with a spinebuster of his own. Ric's distraction pays off though, as HHH is able to catch Batista with a Pedigree that is enough to win the match. The heels seem to have the upper hand heading to Vengeance, but that's not always a good thing going into a pay-per-view. We'll find out in six days and return to the Raw grind in seven.

Next week: The inevitable fallout from Vengeance, plus a good excuse to turn the channel for a bit when the introduction of the new Diva Search contestants turns into an excruciatingly long segment.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, but he'd like to take this time to congratulate his favorite boxer, Antonio "Magic Man" Tarver on his victory this Saturday. Discuss wrestling or boxing with Nick at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.