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   Tue, August 30, 2005



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COMMENT





Raw: Youth is served
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling


It occurred to me while waiting for tonight's show that Raw is getting more and more like real life all the time. Don't do what the boss wants? You're fired, a la Chris Jericho. Girlfriend cheats on you with one of your good buddies? Write nasty things about her on your website, then slug it out in the ring with her new guy. Okay, so it's not exactly like real life. Still, you might just find something that reminds you of "reality" as Raw takes over the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa live on Spike TV.

Carlito's Cabana is up first, and the Intercontinental champion looks a little angry as he climbs in the ring. His good friend Jericho got fired, meaning no more Highlight Reel, and that's... actually, that's cool. But even cooler is his guest tonight, the one and only Heartbreak Kid himself, Shawn Michaels. Carlito says he admires HBK for paving the way for guys like himself. Ironically, Michaels now looks up to the I-C champ, according to Carlito. Shawn retorts that he doesn't need any more egos in his life after the past few months, and when the crowd starts a "Hogan" chant (this is Tampa, after all), Michaels quips that until he needs another pay-off, the Hulkster ain't coming back. In any case, HBK says the reason no one is talking about Carlito's matches is that he hasn't had any to speak of, including not defending the I-C strap. The host thinks that's because no one has the cajones, including Ric Flair. Carlito amusingly turns the tables around on Michaels by describing the pecking order on Raw with himself up top and Michaels all the way at the bottom. He goes for the apple, but The Icon warns him not to even think about spitting it or else it will get kicked down his throat. Unfazed, Carlito reveals his second guest for the evening, The Masterpiece, Chris Masters. When Masters climbs between the ropes, Michaels sees the trouble he's in, joking about how after 21 years he should be smart enough not to get into these situations. HBK's pre-emptive strike buys him a few seconds, but Carlito connects with a DDT and things look gloomy. Masters looks for the Master Lock, but Flair hits the scene to make the save. Together, two of Raw's most senior members clear the ring.

Backstage, Masters and Carlito do the obligatory heel bitching to Eric Bischoff. The GM does what he always does in this kind of spot, booking the two heels to tag together against The Nature Boy and The Showstoppa. Carlito looks confused, almost like he's unsure how he got himself roped into an actual wrestling match.

Match 1 - Big Show vs. Two jobbers

It's hard to tell, but I think tonight's contestants are named Steve Madison and Buck Quartermain. I'll have the SLAM! Wrestling intern look into it when she has time. It is a hot girl, right editors? Show tosses around the two jabronis for a few minutes, then dashes their hopes for a rally with a double suplex. A double chokeslam sets up a double pin, and it's double his pleasure for the Big Show.

Scantily clad new Raw Divas Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle come to the ring to offer their apologies to Ashley for punking her last week. The Diva Search winner is understandably skeptical, but accepts anyway. Knowing that Ashley wants to be a wrestler, the two ladies pulled some strings and arranged for Ashley to have her first match tonight in Tampa. Unfortunately, it's not against either of them, but former women's champ Victoria. Have fun with that.

Match 2 - Ashley vs. Victoria

Ashley shows some spunk by executing a swinging kick to Victoria as she approaches the ring, but inside the squared circle spunk only gets you so far. In this case it gets Ashley the business end of the Widow's Peak, and the heel Divas have another laugh at Ashley's expense.

Can you feel it? Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch are coming to the WWE soon, and they're going to be the next tag team champions. I bet both of Raw's tag teams are shaking in their boots right now. Elsewhere, Edge is jamming with Alter Bridge, a.k.a. Creed with a new lead singer. Todd Grisham interrupts, angering Edge in the process, though not enough to keep the Canadian from saying that Tampa will be the burial site for Matt Hardy's career. That's right, I forgot to mention that Edge and Hardy are facing off in a street fight tonight. Speaking of Hardy, he's warming up in a hallway when Lita stops by to warn him that she warmed up Edge for a long time, if you smell what she's cooking. She asks how it feels to know he'll never get to experience this again, unveiling the most revealing outfit she's ever worn - and for her, that's saying something. Lita thinks it must feel pathetic and tells Hardy to go to hell. Matt says he's going to hell, but not alone, since he's bringing Edge with him. And finally, officials summon Michaels from his dressing room to tell him Flair's been attacked. It's not the usual backstage jumping either, because the Nature Boy is a bloody, unconscious mess. Hmm... I wonder who could have done that?

Match 3 - Edge vs. Matt Hardy - Street Fight

I like how someone always wears jeans to a street fight - in this case, Edge. Does the denim help ward off chair shots and table splinters? Hardy is all over Edge from the opening bell, taking the fight over the retaining wall and into the crowd. They battle back to the ring, where Matt does some damage with a garbage can lid he conveniently found under the ring. He gets a ladder from the other side, but Edge baseball slides it into his face and the program breaks for a commercial. We return to find the ladder set up in one corner, where Hardy hurls Edge into it with force. Both men scale opposite sides of the ladder, but Edge is knocked to the mat and Hardy drops a leg off the top. Edge kicks out of the cover and goes to work with a kendo stick. He gets a pair of chairs for a one-man Con-chair-to, but Hardy sweeps the leg, only to find himself flapjacked into the ladder instead. A couple of kicks to the head has the ref considering stopping the match (again!), though Matt succeeds in begging him to let it go on. Edge tries to recreate the spot where he sandwiched Matt's head between the apron and the steps, but this time Hardy escapes and DDT's his foe on the steps. Lita gets involved, slamming Hardy with Edge's trusty briefcase, and Edge hits a running cheap shot from behind. Back in the ring, Matt gets in a running shot with the ladder, but misses when Edge rolls away from a moonsault on the ladder. Edge wails away with a trash can as the two rivals battle up the ramp to the stage. Hardy hurls Edge into one of the video screens and acts like he's going to power bomb Lita off the edge. There's a couple of teases where it looks like one man or the other is going over, but the stalemate finally ends when Hardy hits a running neckbreaker type move that sends both men crashing through a table and some electrical equipment on the floor. It's a cool spot, but the sparks that fly up kind of invalidate what I said at the top about Raw and real life. In other words, we're not buying it. Still cool though.

As you might expect, both men are still down and medical attention is dispatched to the scene. The King, The Coach and Bischoff all go over to help out and J.R. uses his quiet, serious voice to help sell the crash. Apparently it's also appropriate to send us right back to commercial while the guys are wheeled out on stretchers.

Absent for the first 3/4 of tonight's show, WWE champion John Cena hits the ring. Cena's not happy about getting attacked by the "red, white and blue Tazmanian devil" known as Kurt Angle, but at least he saved a lot on car insurance. Better yet, The Champ is still here, and if Angle wants some, he can come get some. Angle comes to the stage, incredulous that the street thug would call him out. Kurt shows the footage of last week's attack and reminds Cena that he's in the wrestling hall of fame and a former gold medal winner. Cena admits that Angle might be the baddest man in the ring, but he's still calling Kurt out. Angle won't take the bait, so the Doctor of Thuganomics gives him some incentive by reminding the crowd that Angle likes to hit guys from behind. So he turns around and sticks his rear end toward Angle to "put the vibe out there." That sets Angle off enough for him to storm the ring, but when he's unsuccessful at applying the Ankle Lock, he retreats, with referees arriving to prevent any further confrontations.

Ronald "Winky" Wright is in the front row tonight, and he's a heck of a boxer along with being a pretty nice guy who I had the chance to meet at last year's Boxing Hall of Fame induction weekend. He doesn't like to be called Ronald, by the way. Unfortunately, Winky has to sit through...

Match 4 - Tyson Tomko vs. Rosey

Tomko is getting a push thanks to his string of knocking guys out on Heat with devastating kicks to the head. All together now: Heat is still on the air? Rosey gets caught coming off the ropes with a kick, and Hurricane gets some too. The ref stops the match, which is getting to be an annoying trend these last few months.

Main Event - Shawn Michaels vs. The Masterpiece and Carlito

With Flair "at the hospital," Michaels is forced to go it alone. He fares okay in the opening minutes, tossing both heels over the top rope and skinning the cat to stay in the ring. After the last commercial break, Michaels is in trouble in the heel corner, but he rallies to drop Carlito with a flying forearm shot. He nips up (I hope I can do that after I hit 40) and drops the big elbow off the top rope, warming up the band for some Sweet Chin Music. But Masters drags him to the floor and nails him with a clothesline, and Carlito covers him for two. The Masterpiece tags in and drapes Shawn over his knee to work his back, then whips him hard into the corner and lifts him for a gorilla press slam. It looks like it's Master Lock time, but Michaels escapes and catches Masters coming off the ropes with a DDT. All of a sudden, a heavily bandaged Flair, still in his street clothes, jumps on the apron and turns this into a tag match. Ric tags in and chop blocks Masters, but Carlito hits a low blow before he can apply the Figure Four. Though Michaels neutralizes the I-C champ with a slingshot plancha to the outside, the damage is already done, and Masters puts Flair out with a Master Lock. Youth is served this week, as Raw says goodbye to Tampa. See you in seven.


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    Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and begins his actual sports journalism career this Saturday for the Lebanon (Pa.) Daily News. Find out about the exciting world of Lancaster-Lebanon League football by writing to ntylwalk7@yahoo.com.