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Raw Report: Two golden bouts
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Welcome to the Raw Report. Lots of big stuff expected for the show tonight, so let's get right to it.

We start off with Chris Jericho in the ring, recapping what happened last week in the main event. Not surprisingly, John Cena makes his way out to ringside rather quickly, and we get the security-assisted pull-apart. Eventually, Jericho makes his way outside and joins Eric Bischoff on the floor. Bischoff decides that tonight's WWE Championship match between Cena and Carlio needs a special referee, and chooses Chris Jericho. Why we just had a normal in-ring interview and not the Highlight Reel is beyond me.

Match 1 – Shelton's Show vs. the Faulty Locksmen

Someone, anyone please tell Shelton Benjamin to stop with the inside/outside (or in this case outside/inside) moves? Big Show looks to launch Benjamin at their foes, but Shelton gets tangled in the ropes on the way in.

Once the action starts we get a decent match, but nothing to write home about. Shelton does much of the work in this bout, which likely went too long for most fans, going over a commercial break. In the end, Benjamin and Chris Masters end up on the outside, while Show chokeslams Gene Snitsky for the three-count.

Winners – Shelton's Show
Rating – 3 out of 10
The formula worked somehow this week, despite having only one talented worker in the group.

Match 2 – The Eugene Invitational Kurt Angle comes out to challenge Eugene. Their interplay here is absolutely hilarious, with Eugene no-selling Kurt Angle's excuse that he let Eugene compete last week despite not being from Cleveland.

Eventually, we get our match as Tatanka makes his WWE return. Despite putting on what looks like a good 40-50 pounds since we last saw him on WWE TV circa 1995, Tatanka is pretty mobile and does a good job. Eugene eventually gets an Angle Slam and further mocks the Olympic champion by ghosting Angle's "pulling down the straps" taunt. Once Eugene puts on the Ankle Lock, Angle's had enough and runs in for the DQ.

Winner – Tatanka (DQ)
Rating – 2 out of 10
I guess the medal can't change hands on a DQ eh? Not a bad effort, and the intent came across very well.

Post match, Angle continues to beat on Eugene until Tatanka helps him.

Next, we flashback to Hulk Hogan on Larry King. Anyone who saw the broadcast is asked to e-mail the Slam! staff with a report.

Back from break, we get highlights of the Stretcher Match from last week. We then head to Carlito and Jericho in the back, plotting on how to get the title off Cena. Jericho demonstrates that he can count a quick three. I wonder if he graduated from the Nick Patrick School of Refereeing.

Next, we see Vince McMahon headed to the ring, and after the break, the boss comes out to celebrate the "record-breaking" episode of Raw. He congratulates himself, saying, in part, that he never lets his ego get in the way of good business. *cough* InVasion *cough*.

Anyways, we quickly get to the real point of Vinnie Mac's promo, and that is to announce that Matt Hardy is back in WWE. Hardy comes out of Vince’s limo, walks to the ring and shakes Vince's hand. Well, there goes the rebel. In any case, we will see Hardy vs. Edge at Summerslam. Hardy uses the time to break the last remaining shred of kayfabe left in the industry, by saying Kane's marriage to Lita was on TV, while she came home to the Hardy house every night. The promo was definitely strong, and I'm curious to see if Edge is nearly this intense next week.

As Vince leaves Raw, he's stopped by Kerwin White in another senseless segment. Geez, Chavito, just get in the ring already.

Match 3 – Val Venis vs. Rob Conway

Gone are any references to La Resistance, as Conway comes out in Mr. Ass's sheer black tights from the Corporate Ministry days. Lovely.

The match itself is actually a strong technical bout, dominated by Venis. Val uses a bevy of strong moves, including the Blue Thunder Bomb (called a powerbomb variation by JR) and a Reverse Figure Four Leglock. Conway does a pretty good job here, and eventually gets the win with a solo version of Au Revoir, utilizing the ropes in place of Sylvain Grenier. The best one-liner I based on this will be featured in this week’s Smackdown Report.

Winner – Rob Conway
Rating – 4 out of 10
A surprisingly strong match that did not get over with the fans. Methinks Venis deserves a higher role, and could have really benefited from a move to Smackdown.

Back from break, we go to a new Larry King interview with HBK Hogan. King’s impersonator appears to be the same guy that was doing the Billionaire Ted skits circa 1996. The segment is absolutely hilarious, with Shawn Michaels doing the best Hulk Hogan impression since Steve Austin in ECW. Michaels eventually reveals himself, superkicking King. To close, he superkicks the camera, sending us to black. That closer was absolutely awesome and it makes me wish he had done that throughout his career.

Back from break is the Diva challenge, and Summer is gone. Why the hell is Krystal still around?

Anyways, the challenge this week is Queen of the Mountain, aka. the Giant Q-Tip Battle from American Gladiators. Elisabeth wins, defeating Ashley. Methinks it will be one of those two. My vote is for Ashley, in case anyone cares.

Match 4 – John Cena vs. Carlito, Special Guest Referee WWE Championship Match

Geez. They're only a guest timekeeper and guest ring announcer away from completely recycling Austin vs. Corporate Dude Love.

If someone didn't see this one coming, they haven’t watched wrestling since the mid-90s. Carlito keeps trying to get the pin, but even with Jericho’s ultra-fast counting Cena doesn’t stay down. Cena eventually gets his shots in, but a lowblow by Jericho shuts down the momentum. Cena, however, is able to eventually get Jericho on the outside, the FU on Carlito and the victory, thanks to Jack Doan coming in to count the fall.

Winner – John Cena
Rating – 1 out of 10
I have no trouble with these "stacked-dack" matches, but not before a PPV match has been announced. Everyone and their grandmother knew Cena was winning, causing interest in this bout to seriously dwindle.

Well, the show overall wasn't great, but it wasn't horrible either. The main event was a forgone conclusion, and the best match overall was one between a couple Heat mainstays. What does that say?

Jon Waldman filled in for Nick Tywalk who is still in Cleveland searching for Dale Plummer.