Raw: Doing things the Con-way
NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
There are times it's just plain tough to be a wrestling fan. For instance, I desperately want Shawn Michaels to beat Hulk Hogan when they face off at SummerSlam, but I figure that has less chance of happening than Rafael Palmeiro has of convincing people he tested positive because his sample was switched with Sammy Sosa's. At least I have tonight's show to look forward to, since all the two titans are scheduled to do is talk face to face, and HBK should have the edge there. Raw is live from the western end of my home state of Pennsylvania, so let's head to Pittsburgh.
Match 1 - Eugene vs. Kurt Angle - Eugene Invitational
I just realized I ruined the surprise by including Angle's name in the line above. Since Pittsburgh is Kurt's hometown, it probably wasn't a surprise anyway.
Angle vows to win his gold medal back and break Eugene's damn ankle, freaking out the wrestling savant with his use of the "D" word. Kurt uses a kick to the gut and a flurry of right hands to end the discussion and start the action. Always a little smarter than he seems, Eugene chops the ref in the back and blames his foe. Sneaky. Undeterred, Angle fights off a drop toehold to hit a clothesline and a suplex for a two count, then finds himself on the defensive when Eugene starts no-selling a la Hogan. A German release suplex has Eugene in trouble, so Christy Hemme hops up on the apron to distract the ref in her own Red Bull-fuelled manner. Eugene manages to avoid an Angle Slam and hurl Kurt into the ref, who decides he's had enough foolishness and disqualifies Angle with just 22 seconds left on the clock.
As you might expect, Kurt doesn't take the news well and dishes out an Angle Slam after the bell. He has more carnage on his mind when Hogan's music brings the Immortal One down to the ring, and the Hulkster soon sends Eugene's assailant scurrying to the back. A posedown ensues, naturally. Raw has become a de facto one-and-a-half-hour show now because of Hogan's need to pose every time he's on.
Match 2 - Shelton Benjamin vs. "The Masterpiece" Chris Masters
Poor Shelton has gone from being a long-reigning Intercontinental Champ to the latest victim of a glorified Full Nelson in just a few short weeks, following the WWE's proven formula of giving a guy a big push and then dropping him back down the card so he doesn't get a big head. Or something like that.
Masters uses an array of power moves to slow Benjamin early, but he never finds the opening he needs to apply the Master Lock. One attempt is countered for a near fall for Shelton, and a sleeperhold is foiled by a jawbreaker. Benjamin builds momentum with a low dropkick, a running knee lift and his Stinger Splash before nailing a top rope clothesline. He covers but Masters gets his foot on the bottom rope. Shelton slaps on his own sleeper, but the two men get tangled up with the ref while they struggle, allowing Masters to score with a Mule Kick. The infamous Master Lock finally makes its appearance and puts Benjamin out yet again.
Todd Grisham bumps into Angle outside Eric Bischoff's office and finds the Olympic hero strangely jovial given what transpired earlier. The reason for Angle's glee is soon revealed: Bischoff has booked a match for SummerSlam between Angle and Eugene with the gold medal at stake and no time limit. Kurt happily promises a lot of pain and the end of Eugene's career.
Elsewhere, Maria interviews Rob Conway about his upcoming match with Viscera. Conway seems to be trying out a handsome heel gimmick that we've seen other people do a bunch of times before. Big Vis stops by and agrees that Conway looks good with his leather boots and see-through panties... good in a Village People sort of way, that is. Viscera breaks into a stirring rendition of "YMCA" while I pray that I never have to type the words "see-through panties" about a man ever again.
Last week, Matt Hardy was officially welcomed back by Vince McMahon. This week we get Edge's reaction to the return of his real life adversary, but it's not the outrage you might be anticipating. Instead, Edge claims he suggested rehiring Hardy because it would make money and allow him to assault Matt legally via their match at SummerSlam. He goes on to say that he thought Matt's promo last Monday was pathetic and lacking desire, which is why Lita is with him now. Edge finishes by saying that Hardy should say thanks for elevating him to main event status, though it will only last until the pay-per-view. The truth hurts, and Edge's truth is punctuated by a long kiss with Matt's former girl.
Match 3 - Rob Conway vs. Viscera
Vis strikes first with a spinning slam, but Conway shows some spunk by kicking the big man in the left knee and continuing to work it over. Viscera rallies for a Samoan drop and an unsuccessful try at the Walrus. He also catches Conway with a left hand coming off the top rope, but his knee gives out and he stays down for the three count. J.R. asks if this can be considered an upset. A better question would be how exactly Viscera got to the point where he could be the victim of said upset. Amazing.
A video package shows Victoria assaulting Stacy Keibler on last night's edition of Heat, which causes the same reaction footage like that always does: Heat is still on the air? In any case, that altercation sets the stage for the next match.
Match 4 - The Hurricane, Rosey and Stacy Keibler vs. The Heart Throbs and Victoria
The Throbs don't waste much time before they start cheating, and Victoria is only too happy to help. A double Russian Leg Sweep has Hurricane scrambling to kick out, but he evades a double drop kick and tags in his big partner to wreck shop. Stacy distracts the Throbs by dancing on the apron, but that leaves her a target for Victoria, who slams Keibler painfully into the restraining wall. Rosey tries to extract some revenge, but Romeo and Antonio hit him with a double STP and seal up the win.
I can sum up my feelings on Hogan's appearance on Larry King Live in just two words: good grief.
Back in the arena, the ring is set up for the Highlight Reel, featuring Bischoff as tonight's guest. Raw's general manager has some unkind things to say about WWE Champion John Cena, but Jericho says he has his own world premier music video that will make the boss feel better. The Jeritron 5000 shows Y2J's own highlights of his attack on Cena last Monday, set to the tune of Fozzy's "To Kill a Stranger," which is fitting since it's what you'll feel like doing after you sit through the song.
Bischoff says one person is responsible for Cena still holding the gold, and that person is referee Chad Patton - the man who ran in and counted Carlito out after guest referee Jericho was incapacitated. Patton explains that he was just doing his job, but that just gets him slapped in the face by Bischoff. Even an apology isn't good enough for the GM, who orders Patton to face Jericho in match that's coming up next.
Match 5 - Chad Patton vs. Chris Jericho
Um, yeah. Carlito comes to ringside and helps administer the beating on Patton when Jericho hurls him to the floor. Eventually the heels tire of playing with Patton, so Jericho finishes him with a spinebuster and the Walls of Jericho. Bischoff himself is the ref, and he allows Y2J to keep the hold on long after Patton has submitted. Of course, Cena eventually shows up to make the save, even though he is not medically cleared to be on tonight's show. It's a medical miracle! Carlito suffers the most pain, including an F-U.
Grisham chats up an irritated Jericho and Bischoff, who plan a handicap match for next Monday featuring Cena against Y2J and Carlito.
Then it's back to the ring for the Diva Search, which is thankfully nearing its conclusion. Kristal is today's casualty, and we're left with just three hopefuls. The finalists got 60 seconds earlier today to record one last video message for the fans, but to prepare them for possible life in the WWE, where anything can happen, the staff threw some adversity at them. Namely, the girls all got a pie in the face. Ashley handles the distraction the worst, but her video is notable for the face that she claims to give out her actual phone number: 516-644-9878. Forget voting and dial her up instead.
Breaking news: SLAM! Wrestling has just learned that Ashley's number is from the vicinity around Long Island, New York. Remember, this is a SLAM! Wrestling exclusive!
Match 6 - Matt Hardy vs. Snitsky
Hardy fires out of the gate until a Snitsky spinebuster slows the pace. Hardy suffers through a clothesline in the corner and a vertical suplex that earns a near fall but rolls out of the way of an elbowdrop. Matt gets two of his own with a running clothesline, though Snitsky reverses a neckbreaker into a sidewalk slam for two of his own. Both men avoid each other's finishers, but Snitsky ends up helpless on top of one turnbuckle. Hardy yanks him off his perch with a Twist of Fate and gets the duke, but there's no time to celebrate as Edge makes his inevitable appearance. A mixed bag of security, agents and referees separate the two combatants.
Security guards escort Hardy through the backstage area, but he breaks free and attacks Edge in the Canadian's dressing room. Eventually enough bodies show up to settle things down again.
Next we get to witness the world premiere of Cena's new video for "Right Now," which isn't one of his better songs but does have a lot of cool footage from Cena's youth.
The show is winding down, so the face to face discussion between Michaels and Hogan is about to begin, hosted by The King. HBK sarcastically thanks Hulk for taking some time out of his busy schedule of media appearances so they could do this. Shawn insists that he is not jealous of Hogan and considers Hulk far beneath him as an in-ring performer. Hogan's entire career, according to Shawn, was built on personality and show, two things that won't help him at SummerSlam. King tries to give Hogan a chance to speak, but HBK keeps going, saying that he won't buckle under the image and reputation of Hulkamania, and that he's the realest thing on TV today.
Hogan finally gets fed up and interrupts right back, saying he's familiar with Shawn's M.O. of backstabbing and cheap shots. And if he wants proof, Hulk knows all he has to do is call Bret Hart. The Hulkster finishes by explaining that while HBK is always in it for himself, Hogan does it for the fans. He asks Shawn what he's going to do, and after some thought, The Showstoppa decides to serve Lawler some Sweet Chin Music. He turns his attention to Hogan, but Hulk no-sells some punches and hits Michaels with the Big Boot. HBK backs up the ramp, engaging in a showdown with Hogan as Raw signs off from Pittsburgh.
Next week: Cena versus Jericho and Carlito, Hogan takes on Angle and the Diva Search winner revealed. Also, since the show's in Montreal, some "you screwed Bret" chants will ring out.
Bonus: the lyrics to Rob Conway's new entrance music, as best as I can make them out:
Look at me
Ain't I a sight to see?
The whole dang world wants to be like me
So just look at me
Ladies and gentlemen, the Randy Moss theme song! Good night everyone.
Nick Tylwalk is finishing his seventh year as a SLAM! Wrestling contributor. He's thinking Shawn Michaels deserves immediate Hall of Fame induction if he carries Hogan to a decent match at SummerSlam. Discuss this and other radical ideas at email@example.com.