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COMMENT





Raw: Michaels avoids the question; Matt's back
By RAY PEFFERMAN - The LAW


There's one question on everyone's mind tonight as Raw comes to us live from East Rutherford, NJ -- who will be cut in the Diva Search? No seriously, it's why, Shawn, why?

CARLITO'S CABANA: CHRIS JERICHO AND RODDY PIPER

Intercontinental Champion Carlito Caribbean Cool introduces Shawn Michaels, but instead, Chris Jericho comes out. "Y2J!" the crowd yells.

"Everybody wants to be a guest on Carlito's Cabana," Carlito says.

"Last week your copa-cabana segment was trumped when I had John Cena," Jericho says. "And on top of that, I'm gonna do it again tonight." Jericho tries to take over the show and introduces Michaels. Carlito and Jericho argue over which show Michaels would rather be on.

"It [The Highlight Reel] really sucks," Carlito says. He says Jericho is fat and has love handles. "

"You don't tell me what's cool," Jericho says. "I'm the epitome of cool. I'm Canadian Cool. You just don't get it, do you, Sideshow Bob?" He calls the Cabana an "amateur-hour talk show. Shawn Michaels wants to be with the Johnny Carson of 'Raw,' not the Carson Daily."

Roddy Piper comes out. He calls Carlito "Buckwheat. There's only one original, and you're lookin' at him." He says he will talk to Michaels tonight in Piper's Pit.

ASIA TOUR FOOTAGE

"My experience here has been nothing but a blast," Benjamin says. Cena signs CD covers.

CHRIS MASTERS DEF. TAJIRI VIA KO.

Tajiri dominates early. He hits a kick to the face but only gets two. Masters locks in the Masterlock and Tajiri passes out. Strangely, Referee Jack Doan only lifts Tajiri's hand once.

Kane will appear at a comic convention in San Diego on Friday.

Edge, Lita and Gene Snitsky watch the video of Edge and Lita's wedding. They watch the part when Matt Hardy's entrance was shown, and Edge says it was his idea. "The kid should be grateful; it's the biggest pop he'll ever get," Edge says. Edge tempts Snitsky to smell Lita's feet. He does and is intoxicated. Edge says if Snitsky helps him tonight, he can "have a go at Lita's feet." Snitsky is about to bite Lita's foot, but Edge says Snitsky must complete his mission first.

The announcers say that due to hell in the cell, HHH may not be back for a while. "I have a feeling that some day we will see a new HHH," Jim Ross says.

SHELTON BENJAMIN DEF. IC CHAMPION CARLITO CARIBBEAN COOL VIA COUNT-OUT. CARLITO RETAINS THE TITLE.

In a nice spot, Benjamin counters a vertical suplex into a neck breaker. Carlito brings the title into the ring, but the referee knocks it out of his hands. Carlito walks out of the ring and is counted-out. A basic, but nonetheless good, match.

Cena and General manager Eric Bischoff are shown arguing, but we can't hear what they're saying.

CENA PROMO

Cena says Bischoff said Cena is a disgrace to Raw and a bad champion. Bischoff comes out and says Cena only defends the title when Bischoff allows it. Cena warns Bischoff not to threaten him. Jericho comes to the ring. Cena wants to fight Jericho tonight, but Bischoff says they will face each other for the title at SummerSlam instead.

Jericho also calls Cena a disgrace. "You're the one who's cheapening the history of the WWE Title just by having it," he says. "You're nothing but a thug, Cena. When I beat you, I'm gonna be THE multimedia superstar of the WWE."

"Get off yourself, hommie," Cena says. He FUs Bischoff. "Welcome to the new Raw, bitch."

DIVA SEARCH: ALEXIS IS CUT.

The women must show a hidden talent. Ashley shows her wrestling ability by delivering a monkey flip to Christy Hemme. Leyla asks Earl Hebner -- who put the towel around her last week -- to come to the ring. She seductively dances around him before delivering a low blow from behind. "That's for disqualifying me last week," she says. Summer does flips and splits. Kristal is dressed as a male painter, complete with a fake mustache, and she does a "self-portrait" by stripping off her clothes and rolling in paint.

Elisabeth -- in a police outfit -- handcuffs Hemme to the ropes and smacks her ass. "I kinda like being arrested," Hemme says. Simona is dressed as a warrior woman. She twirls a sword, flirts with Jonathan Coachman and kisses him. Cameron dresses as a schoolgirl. She strips and gives Hemme a lap dance.

KURT ANGLE DEF. MATT STRYKER VIA SUBMISSION IN THE ANGLE INVITATIONAL.

Angle comes to the ring escorted by police. Matt Martel accepts the challenge. "Your name's not Martel; it's Stryker," Angle says. "You're that teacher that got fired. You called in sick and went on some wrestling tour because you wanted to become a professional wrestler. And I wrestled you in Philadelphia; you said your hometown was Philadelphia. Man you lie a lot! Since you had your 15 minutes of fame, now you're gonna get your three minutes of pain." This is great.

With 30 seconds left, Stryker kicks Angle into the turnbuckle, and Angle tumbles to the outside. Angle lies there almost 10 seconds, but he then returns to the ring. The Olympic champion begins to apply the Angle Slam, but Stryker counters out and hits a low blow. With two seconds left, Angle applies the ankle lock and Stryker taps out.

The segment was very well done. For a minute, I thought it was the 1-2-3 Kid 2005.

When Todd Grisham asks Kane about facing Edge, Kane just laughs.

Meanwhile, in another hallway, Edge and Lita are shown walking and the "Raw" music plays as if a commercial break is coming up. Matt Hardy runs in from behind and quickly attacks Edge. The crowd isn't sure at first, but they explode when they see who it is. Hardy runs out of the way before security can catch him. I guess he swerved us. Welcome to the new WWE, where every work looks like a shoot, and every shoot becomes a work.

KANE DEF. EDGE BY DQ WHEN SNITSKY INTERFERED.

The "We want Matt!" chant is deafening. Snitsky attacks Kane and ends the match quickly. Kane chases Snitsky into the crowd. Hardy and Edge go at it in the ring while security tries to break them up. The announcers are speechless. "Adam, you bastard, I'm gonna make your life miserable," Hardy says. "And Lita, you whore, I'm gonna make your life miserable too. The WWE can kiss my ass!"

The security guards grab him. "Ring of Honor, ROH!" Hardy yells. Police tackle and handcuff him. Hardy gets a pop as big as anyone as he is escorted out of the building. This was a great way to execute the angle: make it seem real by making Hardy seem outside WWE. It worked with the NWO, and it can work again.

When the show comes back from break, all the announcers say is "How wild has this night been?"

PIPER'S PIT: SHAWN MICHAELS

Michaels is booed. Piper asks why Michaels kicked Hulk Hogan.

"For the last 20 years, I have come into this ring with one intention: to leave you people with something that you would never forget. I literally broke my back to give you that," Michaels says. "Nobody has created more 'Raw' and PPV moments than The Heartbreak Kid Shawn Michaels. At the Hall of Fame, I heard your chant to Hulk Hogan for one more match. It was there that I decided I would once again sacrifice myself to give you what you wanted. Last night, I guaranteed Hulk Hogan would have one more match. I just made sure that one more match would be against me."

He challenges Hogan for SummerSlam. "At SummerSlam, I will prove that immortality has a price," Michaels says.

Piper says the fans made Michaels. He asks Michaels the real reason for kicking Hogan. Michaels tries to leave, but Piper calls him a coward. Michaels nails Piper with sweet chin music.

Grade: A-. Although it was a bit talk-heavy, the pure creativity of this week's show made it a great one. So many of these segments were well done: Carlito, Jericho and Piper bickering and Piper's Pit were both compelling. Both Matts came out of nowhere and added a dose of surprise to the show. Benjamin and Carlito was a good match, and even the worst part of the show, the Diva Search, wasn't too bad.

WWE really seems to have caught fire over the last few weeks. Let's hope the writers can keep coming up with these fresh ideas. And by the way, where was Kerwin White tonight? I guess no one is perfect, but as long as WWE keeps having more good ideas than bad ones, their fans will start to come back.

Ray Pefferman is a regular contributor to The LAW, a wrestling radio show broadcast out of Toronto and heard across Canada. Check it out at www.liveaudiowrestling.com. Thanks to Ray for allowing us to use his report with Nick Tylwalk unexpectly being able to step up to the plate.


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