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Raw: Hogan accepts HBK's challenge
By NICK TYWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


I know what SLAM! Wrestling Smackdown reporter Dale Plummer is talking about when he says that all heck breaks loose when you miss one show. I was out with a migraine last Monday, and John Cena manhandles the general manager, Rowdy Roddy Piper shows up, and some guy who looks suspiciously like a guy who got fired a few months ago sneaks in to "shoot" on the Edge-Lita angle. I can't guarantee the same level of intrigue tonight, but I hope my home state of Pennsylvania gets treated right as Raw hits the airwaves from the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia.

It looks like we might be going right to the action with an Intercontinental title match, but famed party pooper Eric Bischoff butts in with his own agenda. He wants to talk about something heinous that happened last Monday, and I'm assuming he's not talking about the Diva Search. No, Eric is referring to his treatment at the hands of Cena, who unceremoniously dumped his boss with an F-U. Bischoff says he has the power to suspend or fire the WWE champ for his actions, but came up with a better idea: he's making Cena take on Snitsky tonight. To top it off, Bischoff had an even better idea to make it a Lumberjack Match, with lumberjacks of his own choosing. In other gimmick match news, Kane will face Edge in a Steel Cage Match tonight as well.

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

To keep Carlito a little more honest tonight, the belt can change hands on a count-out. Benjamin hits a Stinger Splash in the opening moments and shows no fear of repeating his disaster from a few weeks ago as he goes for a top rope clothesline to the floor. Trouble is, he loses his footing and almost wipes out again. The challenger dusts himself off and springboards back into the ring with a shoulderblock, and Carlito decides he's seen enough. CCC grabs his belt and heads up the ramp as the ref starts to make his count. He reaches six when Carlito decides to show how clever he is by rolling back into the ring to break the count and rolling right back out. Benjamin isn't having it and hits a running clothesline off the apron to show his displeasure. Shelton executes a smoother top rope clothesline back into the ring, but Carlito counters his next move in the corner and places his foe in the tree of woe. The action goes back and forth for a bit with both men getting their chances but neither able to put the other away. Finally Benjamin hits his spinning heel kick and looks for the t-bone suplex, but Carlito figures out another way out of this one by using an obvious low blow to get himself disqualified. Coming next week: yet another rematch, but this time the belt can change hands on a count-out or DQ. And so on and so forth.

It's the footage I never see too many times, showing Hulk Hogan getting a surprise dose of Sweet Chin Music from Shawn Michaels two weeks ago. We also get treated to a replay of Piper's confrontation with Michaels from the last Raw, and in case you missed it, Roddy meets a similar fate. Apparently Hogan will be on the show tonight to answer HBK's challenge to a match at SummerSlam.

Match 2 - Kurt Angle vs. Matt Martel - Kurt Angle Invitational

The Olympic Hero taunts the Philly fans by boasting about making last week's Invitational intentionally close, then rubs salt in the wound by saying the chances of him losing to a hometown boy are about the same as the Eagles winning the Super Bowl. Ouch. In any case, Kurt calls for tonight's contestant and finds out... it's the same guy as last week. Only now the man is calling himself Matt Martel and saying he's from Philly. Angle doesn't like the lies and says he won't let Matt compete again, but he soon changes his mind and clobbers the poor guy from behind. Martel pulls himself together and gets Angle in a rear naked choke, and he manages to keep the hold applied for about half of the three-minute time limit. Kurt eventually frees himself by dropping Matt on the top rope, and he follows with an Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock. Martel quickly taps out with 24 seconds left on the clock.

Coach and Christy bring out the girls for this week's installment of the dog and pony show known as the Diva Search. This week we get treated to videos of each girl stating who she thinks should be eliminated and why, and I would recap them except for the fact that none are very compelling. I'll cut to the chase by saying that Simona is voted out, and the viewers get a chance to vote for their favorite again. Of course, to discourage the WWE from doing this for a third time, I implore you not to vote. Kind of like P. Diddy but in reverse, you see.

A promo airs similar to the one from Smackdown, but Plummer was wrong, it's not for a WWE movie. It's for the impending arrival of a wrestler called... wait for it... The Boogeyman! I almost soil myself watching it. No, not because it's scary, because I can't believe the WWE is going to try this as a gimmick. With all due respect to Dale, I'm praying this guy ends up on Smackdown. Back at the proverbial ranch, Kerwin White is giving Bischoff golf pointers and discussing country clubs when Chris Jericho drops in for a visit. Bischoff reveals that the Lumberjack Match was actually Jericho's idea, and he has another one for next week's show from Cleveland. Y2J wants a Battle of the Bands between Fozzy and Cena, a bad idea if my ears ever heard one. And out in the hallway, Todd Grisham gets a quick word with Michaels, who wants to know if Hogan will let down all of his Hulkamaniacs and duck the SummerSlam challenge. We'll have to wait and see.

Chris Masters ups the ante yet again on his Master Lock Challenge, this time to 20 grand. He gets a bit more than he expected when tag team champ Rosey answers the call, but The Masterpiece tells the big man to take a seat and applies his infamous hold. Rosey is able to stand up and shake Masters around, but he can't break free and soon becomes the latest victim. Masters brags that the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and his words are answered by the music of the Big Show. The largest WWE superstar wants to take the Challenge, but Masters refuses and retreats up the ramp. Even Show comparing Masters to a squirrel in the winter (no nuts) isn't enough to make the Masterpiece change his mind, and the segment kind of fizzles out. Backstage, Edge tries to convince Grisham and us that last week's appearance by you know who was a shoot, but we're not buying it. He also blames the current situation on the internet, but if what is alleged about him is true, I fail to see what kids and their keyboards have to do with it.

The moment some of you have been waiting for is finally here, because Hogan is on his way to the ring. After several minutes of posing, Hulk gets down to business by plugging his "top-rated" reality show Hogan Knows Best, which did manage the lofty accomplishment of drawing more viewers than the new season of The Surreal Life. Congrats, I guess. Hogan says HBK got his attention with the superkick, but needs to come to the stage and face the Hulkster face to face if he wants the answer to his challenge. Michaels comes out but prefers to face Hogan from the safety of the stage. Shawn says he knows Hogan has been doing this for a long time and wondered to himself what he brought to the table that Hulk hasn't already seen before. Then it hit him: Hogan has never faced anyone with the unbridled passion of the Heartbreak Kid, never had anyone who could take him to a level he's never been to before. Hulk retorts by claiming that he's been in the wrestling business since Michaels was still in high school, and HBK won't be the first or last guy to hit him with a cheap shot. The match is on for SummerSlam, and Hogan ends by asking Michaels what he's going to do when Hulkamania runs wild on him. Meanwhile, Jericho is whipping the lumberjacks into a frenzy by telling them that Cena doesn't respect them. Not surprisingly, all the lumberjacks are heels.

Match 3 - Kane vs. Edge - Steel Cage Match

Kane enters the cage first, but Edge finds himself under attack by someone who jumps over the restraining wall. It's not obvious to the crowd right away, but the assailant is definitely Matt Hardy. A battalion of security guards beat down Hardy and restrain Edge for a minute or two, though Hardy looks like he escapes through the crowd. The announcers add to the shoot feel by not commentating during the scuffle and never mentioning Hardy's name. We head to break before the match gets underway. Things are rolling when we return, with Edge hitting a DDT and Kane responding with a sidewalk slam. Edge spears Kane between the ropes and the cage and bounces his head off the steel repeatedly, bloodying the Big Red Machine in the process. Kane returns the favor on Edge, rolling through a series of moves that includes clotheslines, a back body drop and another sidewalk slam. Edge suffers more pain when he gets crotched on the top rope and planted with a power bomb, but he recovers to hit a spear and earn a near fall. Edge crawls for the door where Lita hands him his briefcase. He tries to use it to win the match but gets caught and dropped by a chokeslam. Kane is too worn out to capitalize, so Edge climbs to the top of the cage. Kane meets him there, but a briefcase shot drops the big man back to the canvas, and Edge is able to climb over the top and drop to the floor to win the match.

Philadelphia Phillies Kenny Lofton, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins seem to be enjoying their front row seats. We get to enjoy the Smackdown Rebound, which shows Batista defeating Orlando Jordan but JBL getting the last laugh. Cena enjoys giving Maria a hard time, telling her to get his flannel shirt for the Lumberjack Match when it becomes obvious that she thinks actual lumberjacks will be involved. Cena's ensuing promo which mentions both his trouser snake and Bischoff and Jericho playing with My Little Ponies reminds me of vintage Rock. Ah, the memories.

Random thought before the main event: that upcoming movie Stealth looks like the comedy hit of the summer. You know, it's the one where Jamie Foxx and Jessica Biel play stealth fighter pilots alongside an AI plane that goes rogue when it is hit by a bolt of lightning. That looks like nonstop laughs. Wait, you say it's not supposed to be a comedy? Uh-oh.

Main Event - Snitsky vs. John Cena - Lumberjack Match

Cena gets thrown right to the floor but manages to escape harm and get right back in the ring. He hits a back body drop and a shoulderblock before getting thrown out again, where he quickly learns the bad intentions of the lumberjacks. Jericho leads them in bringing the pain as we head to our final commercial. Snitsky gets a couple of two counts, though Cena rallies by reversing a suplex. Jericho trips Cena coming off the ropes and drags him outside once again, throwing him into the steel steps and bouncing him off the retaining wall. Snitksy stomps Cena and covers him but only gets two. Cena fights off a cobra clutch and unleashes a barrage of right hands but has to stop to knock Y2J off the apron. Snitsky takes advantage with a huge clothesline but it's still not enough to keep the champ down for three. It looks like it's F-U time, but Angle sneaks in for a chop block while Jericho has the ref distracted. Cena kicks out one more time and gets thrown out to the lumberjacks for his trouble. The whole gang beats on him and Snitsky has to be wondering what he has to do when his ensuing boot to the face isn't enough to win the match. Snitsky looks for the pumphandle, but Cena counters with a DDT. Help arrives in the form of Benjamin, Show, Rosey, Tajiri, Val Venis and even Big Vis. With his lumberjacks neutralized, Jericho grabs a steel chair but gets decked immediately by Cena. Snitsky grabs the chair but never gets to use it as he is scooped up for the F-U that brings this show to a close. Good night Philly.

Next week: Fozzy versus Cena and the Diva Search waste some perfectly good TV time. Also we haven't exhausted all the gimmick matches yet, so Kane and Edge face off in a Stretcher Match. Hardy will appear again and we're supposed to still think it's a shoot. Not unless they bring the hypno-toad in to make us!


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    Nick Tylwalk is closing in on the end of his seventh year as a SLAM! Wrestling contributor. Discuss bad looking gimmicks and crappy looking movies with him at ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.