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Raw: A return worthy of Hollywood
By NICK TYWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


I'm going back to Cali. Actually, this report is headed there, with Raw set to air from The Pond at Anaheim. Vengeance is sure to have some ripples spread to tonight's show, and in what's sure to be an excruciating 10 minutes of television -- made only slightly more bearable due to the involvement of attractive women -- the finalists in the 2005 Raw Diva Search will make their TV debut. On with the show.

Bonafide Olympic hero Kurt Angle makes his way to the ring to the usual "you suck" chorus. Kurt makes it perfectly clear that Shawn Michaels got lucky in beating him Sunday night and knows the fans would love to see a rubber match tonight. That won't happen though, because Angle is there for Batista. Kurt bravely calls out the world champ but gets a slightly older guest in the form of Ric Flair. The Nature Boy wants to shake Angle's hand, and for a second there looks like there's going to be another love-fest. But even though Flair calls himself an Angle mark, he still thinks that Triple H is the man. Kurt angrily tells old man Flair to leave before he gets hurt, but Ric promises that if Angle attempts to exercise his formidable wrestling skills on him, he'll resort to the tricks that have made him the Dirtiest Player in the Game. Another few rounds of verbal jabs lead to the inevitable: for the first time, Angle and Flair will face each other in a singles match tonight. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

What the heck is this? A clip that's billed as "a DVD extra" from Vengeance shows Eric Bischoff booking Chris Jericho, Christian and Tyson Tomko against John Cena and two partners of his choice for tonight's broadcast. I can see it now: PPV DVDs with extras like participant commentary. "Yeah, I totally blew that spot right there." And let's not forget old favorites like deleted scenes (now that Viscera match is 47 minutes long!) or alternate endings. Heck, maybe the Hell in a Cell Match has an alternate ending where Batista loses. Do not let Triple H buy that DVD!

Match 1 -- Edge and Gene Snitsky vs. Kane and ?

Word is that Kane's partner will be the first of two draft picks tonight, the final two that Raw will get in the 2005 draft. We might see some high schoolers or obscure Europeans go here ... or is that another draft? Anyway, Kane can't wait for his partner, attacking Edge with a chair shot and chasing Edge and Lita through the crowd. Poor Snitsky is left with no playmates, so Bischoff comes out to announce that Gene will be facing the draft pick mano e mano, and whatever happens to Snitsky is not his fault. Funny, that. Let's try this again.

Match 1 -- Gene Snitsky vs. Big Show

Eric did say that this would be Raw's biggest draft pick, but I left that out for fear of giving it away. This match is all Show until Snitsky connects with a big boot, but it's for naught as Show catches him with a choke slam and pins him.

In the least surprising Raw development ever, Maria forgets the question she was supposed to ask Cena. The champ tells her to go off camera and think real hard until she remembers. Wow. Cena manages fine without her, revealing that he's found one partner, and it's none other than Shawn Michaels. The Heartbreak Kid welcomes the Doctor of Thuganomics to Raw and also says that he's struck a deal to obtain a third man for their team. He's on the way to the arena, and Cena promises that tonight's show will be full of surprises. Elsewhere, Lita and Edge try to pack and leave the building, but the always crafty Kane is already waiting for his ex-wife in her dressing room. Putting a hand around her throat, Kane promises to make Lita's life a living hell. Frankly, that's just not too original in the wrestling game.

We can't go a show without the Master Lock Challenge, or at least the writers seem to think we can't. Still unable to find someone who can mule kick his way out, Masters ups the ante to $14,000 if someone can break his fearsome hold. Tajiri answers the call tonight, responding to Masters' cultural insensitivity by calling him a "master jackass." A flurry of kicks sets up the Tarantula, and Tajiri tries to follow with a handspring back elbow only to be met with a clubbing blow to the back of the head. Masters applies the Master Lock and Tajiri can't find the key, forcing the ref to call for the bell. Masters grabs the mic and demands respect from Tajiri but gets a dose of the green mist instead.

A feeling of history is in the air for the first Carlito's Cabana on Raw. The I-C champ brags that his show will replace the Highlight Reel from now on and promises no music from Fozzy. But not all the news that Carlito gets is good news, and Bischoff gave him some bad news earlier tonight. It seems he has to interview the last Raw draft pick on the Cabana, and he thinks the pick is a lemon. He tells the pick to come out anyway, and it's none other than Mr. Monday Night himself, Rob Van Dam, sporting an ECW shirt but limping to the ring with a big brace on his left knee. Carlito laughs at RVD, saying the last time he saw Rob he was at One Night Stand whining that all he got to say on WWE TV was "whatever," "dude" and "cool." Van Dam promises to be more vocal from now on and tells the host to get ready for his return. CCC wants to make sure Rob stays injured, so he kicks the injured knee and lays a beating on our hero. Carlito spits some apple on RVD on his way out, making me think how cool it would be if Conan O'Brien did that to guests he didn't like. I smell ratings.

A video recap shows Viscera spurning Lilian Garcia's marriage proposal at Vengeance and hopping on The Godfather's ho train. That sentence should be funny even to your friends who don't watch wrestling.

Match 2 -- Kurt Angle vs. Ric Flair

Quite a bit of mat wrestling kicks things off, which is just as it should be. Flair back body drops Angle to the floor and introduces his head to the steel steps. Angle has enough and hits a belly-to-belly suplex on the floor, which can't feel too good at Ric's age. A commercial break comes and goes and we find Flair in a submission hold. Angle escapes and scores with a back body drop and an STF, but Flair bites his thumb to escape. More biting and some chops lead to a knee drop, and Flair tries to go up top to capitalize. Angle meets him up there looking for a superplex but Flair drops out of harm's way. Angle hits an Angle Slam for two and locks on the Ankle Lock, which Ric escapes by grabbing Kurt in the, ahem, package. A chop block and a knee to the groin set up the Figure Four, forcing Angle to crawl to the ropes to escape. Angle connects with a German suplex but a mule kick prevents any sequels, and Flair follows up with a vertical suplex. Flair's knee breaker is countered with the Ankle Lock in a cool spot, and even though the Nature Boy fights it, he eventually taps out. Not too shabby, but if Raw needs to keep putting Flair in 15-minute matches to entertain us, we might be in trouble.

The SmackDown Rebound shows us Teddy Long orchestrating a 5-man elimination match for something called the SmackDown championship that becomes a 6-man match when draftee Muhammad Hassan crashes the party. SLAM! Wrestling SmackDown reporter Dale Plummer has promised to keep calling Hassan's finisher the Jihad Drop until The Man stops being so prejudiced and gives the move a name. You know what I'm talking about.

The Coach and Christy Hemme introduce the Diva Search finalists, and Viscera also wanders down to see some sexy parties. Sorry, that's Stewie Griffin. Vis wants to see some sexy action, so Coach gives the Diva hopefuls 30 seconds to state their case for the position if they strip down to their bras and panties. Dale predicts that someone will be sans underwear, and it only takes two contestants to prove Plummer correct. The ease with which the ladies disrobe makes me think that the casting calls for this round of the Diva Search just might have taken place at "gentlemen's clubs." The girls dance with Viscera until they are interrupted by Sgt. Slaughter. Sarge tells the girls they'll be reporting for duty next week for an obstacle course in what he's calling his first ever Bikini Boot Camp. Sarge's presence almost makes up for the rest of this foolishness, but my wife will be confiscating Dale's steak knife next week just to be safe.

Batista tells Todd Grisham that the cell took a little something away from him that he'll never get back (skin cells?) but says it was worth it to retain the world heavyweight championship. Jericho, Christian and Tomko try to guess the mystery partner they'll be facing, dismissing Marty Jannetty and Kevin Nash as possibilities. They are pretty close to Hollywood though. Dale is calling for The Rock but I'm thinking it might be someone else.

Main Event -- Christian, Tyson Tomko and Chris Jericho vs. John Cena, Shawn Michaels and ?

The introductions end with Michaels calling out someone he claims is his favorite tag team partner. And the winner is ... Hulk Hogan. Cena and HBK start things out by taking it to Jericho, but the heels regroup and Michaels does his usual tag team bit by getting thrashed for a while. Y2J hits a bulldog but misses with a Lionsault, allowing Shawn to crawl to the ropes for the hot tag to Hogan. Any normal wrestler would be in trouble against Christian and Tomko, but any normal wrestler can't just Hulk up to no sell a whole bunch of blows. Sweet Chin Music from HBK takes care of Christian, and Hogan executes the big boot and leg drop to finish off Tomko. Much posing ensues. Hope you enjoyed your 32 minutes of wrestling Anaheim.

Next week: No matches booked so far that I can recall, so we'll just have to bank on Slaughter's Bikini Boot Camp. I'll be celebrating Independence Day here in the States, so someone else will likely be having some fun with that.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and is closing in on the all-time record of 312 TV wrestling reports. Discuss this historic feat at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.