September 6, 2005
Raw: Caught in the Master Lock
By NICK TYLWALK -- SLAM! Wrestling
When I was young, there was a Master Lock challenge on TV that involved firing bullets at a padlock and marveling at the fact that the lock still worked. Sadly, the Master Lock Challenge on tap for tonight's Labor Day edition of Raw features Shawn Michaels trying to escape... a full nelson. Here's hoping there's a lot more in store as Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center plays host to Raw.
Match 1 - Kurt Angle vs. Eugene
Rumors have been floating around that the Eugene character is finished, but it looks like that won't happen until Angle is done with him first. Befitting his new, more vicious heel persona, Kurt launches an assault right from the opening bell that features suplexes, tons of right hands and even some hair pulling. Everyone's favorite wrestling savant has to kick out of about four pin attempts before he finally hulks up, firing back with right hands and connecting with a spinebuster. Eugene gives the Hacksaw Jim Duggan thumbs up sign, then crouches in a football stance. He charges hard into the opposite corner, but Angle greets him with an elbow to the face and smashes his leg into the post several times. The Ankle Lock quickly forces Eugene to tap out, but Angle isn't content, and he reapplies the hold after the bell. WWE champion John Cena hits the ring and goes to work on Angle, but Tyson Tomko follows a few seconds later and drops the champ with a big boot to the face. In case you haven't been around the last couple of weeks, that's actually Tomko's finisher. No, really.
Back in the GM's office, Eric Bischoff is pretty pleased with Tomko. So is Angle, who suggests that Tomko get a reward for his nice work. Bischoff obliges by booking the Problem Solver to face Cena later tonight. The announcers sell the kick by saying Cena has a slight concussion, but maybe John's head just hurts from thinking about the silly half-push Tomko is getting.
Match 2 - The Heart Throbs vs. Val Venis and Viscera
I guess it's a natural that the porn star and the big man in pajamas would team up at some point. Romeo takes it to Val early on, but Venis responds with clotheslines and his running kneelifts. Val hits a Russian leg sweep and an inverted suplex and lets his big partner in on the fun. Vis misses a big splash, allowing Antonio to tag in. Romeo finds himself having to save his partner from the Money Shot, and the Throbs settle into beating on Venis for a while by double teaming and working over his left knee. Val finally kicks one Throb into the other and makes a diving hot tag to Big Vis. He charges into the corner only to be met by four boots to the face, but he catches Romeo coming back out, spins him around to take out his partner and uses a Samoan drop to win the match. Val and Vis do some twin gyrations after the bell, suggesting they may team together for a while. Tag teams - what a novel idea. [Editor's note: Kudos to Val for continuing to sell the attack on his knee even after the win.]
The announcers plug Chris Masters' "undefeated streak" while some footage shows the various victims of the Master Lock Challenge. It kind of reminds me of Goldberg's streak way, way back when I broke into this gig covering WCW Monday Nitro. Only this is much dumber.
Linda McMahon says a few words about the WWE's efforts to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina by working with AmeriCares. Say what you want about Vince McMahon and company, but they usually step up with classy gestures in these types of situations.
Out in the ring, Carlito gets things rolling for Carlito's Cabana by bringing out his guest for the evening, Ashley. The Intercontinental champ teases the Diva Search winner about her wardrobe and hair, but she gives it right back to him about his 'do. Carlito says no one insults him on his own show, including Michaels and Ric Flair. He says bad things happen to those who insult him, and confesses to laying the backstage beating on Flair last week that left him a bloody mess. Carlito vows to do more bad things to the Nature Boy when they meet at Unforgiven, then turns his attention back to Ashley by rolling a clip of her defeat at the hands of Victoria last Monday. Ashley gets a bout against Torrie Wilson tonight and claims to be looking forward to it. I would too - Torrie can't wrestle. Carlito says there's another rite of initiation on the Cabana, taking a bite out of an apple. He never gets a chance to spit though, as Flair heads down the ramp. Carlito rushes Flair with a barrage of right hands, but Flair turns the tide by grabbing the I-C champ by the "apples" and hitting some of his world famous chops. The Nature Boy's big low blow sends Carlito scurrying away, and Flair promises to take a bite out of his ass at Unforgiven. File that under "Unintentionally Gay Comment of the Year." In any case, Flair says he will win the Intercontinental belt for the first time in his career, and I think he just might.
Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch are still coming to the WWE to win the tag team titles, and after seeing Venis and Vis in action, I guess there are three whole teams that need to watch out. J.R. tells us Murdoch and Cade will make their debut tonight, which is fine by me since it likely means the end of their little vignettes.
A video package shows us the dramatic and violent end to Matt Hardy and Edge's street fight last week. Bischoff chastises Hardy for the mess he's caused, and asks him to sign a contract to face Edge in a Steel Cage Match at Unforgiven. That's right folks, we're not ending this feud until we've run through every gimmick match we've got. Hardy says he will not die, so Bischoff figures he'll put that to the test by making him face Snitsky next.
Match 3 - Matt Hardy vs. Snitsky
It's great that the "big heel that the GM uses to torture faces" role is such a common one in wrestling today, because it keeps guys like Snitsky and Tomko employed. Edge and Lita watch from the announce table once again as Hardy survives being thrown into the steps on the outside, but falls to a spinning slam and gets pinned inside the ring. Snitsky gets the ring bell and threatens to clobber Matt, but he's temporarily halted by the music and entrance of the Big Show. Sadly, Show is a little too big to actually run to the ring, so Snitsky hits Hardy anyway and runs off into the crowd. To paraphrase Princess Leia, you call that a rescue?
Match 4 - Tyson Tomko vs. John Cena
Shrugging off his "concussion," Cena jumps on Tomko and gets about four near falls in the first few minutes. Tomko finally rallies with a spinebuster and a powerslam for his own near fall, then grounds Cena with a submission hold before dropping him again with a powerful clothesline. Tomko looks for the big boot, but Cena ducks it and connects with a jumping shoulderblock. Cena's usual sequence of set-up moves leads to the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and the F-U follows to wrap things up. Thanks for playing Tyson. We'll call you again when we need someone kicked in the head. As Cena is backing up the ramp, Angle jumps him again, hurling him into a video screen and hitting the F-U on the metal stage. As an aside, Angle's red, white and blue mouthpiece is a nice touch.
Taking the inane question to a whole new level, Todd Grisham asks Angle if his jumping Cena three weeks in a row is supposed to be some sort of pattern. Kurt actually manages to keep a straight face and says that he'll be taking Cena's ass to school at Unforgiven. All of this unhealthy obsession with other men's rear ends tonight... I just don't know what's going on here. Maybe we need to get the Divas out for a little eye candy to set everything right.
Match 5 - Torrie Wilson vs. Ashley
Um, yeah. Even the kick-outs on the pinning attempts are bad in this one. Torrie hits a variation on the Pedigree to win. Let's try to forget this ever happened.
Match 6 - Shelton Benjamin vs. Rob Conway
Before the action gets underway, some Frank Sinatra-esque music brings Kerwin White (the former Chavo Guerrero) down to ringside in his golf cart. Benjamin scores first with a Samoan drop, but Conway takes the fight outside and pulls off a suplex on the floor. Rob hits a neckbreaker back inside the ring for a two count before locking in a reverse chinlock. Benjamin escapes and unleashes a flurry of offense that ends with a sliding clothesline for two of his own. He tries to roll Conway up but can't get the three, and White trips him with his putter. Conway uses the distraction and a schoolboy to get the duke. Benjamin stares a hole in White, and you can just see the uncomfortable race angle coming, can't you? I guess it will be okay since White is not really white, or at least that's probably the justification.
Match 7 - The Hurricane and Rosey vs. Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch
Well, they're finally here, and even though this isn't for the titles I'd be surprised if that isn't where this is headed for Unforgiven. The new team in town flapjacks Rosey on the top rope, then Murdoch and Hurricane square off. The heels double team Rosey frequently when he tags back in, though the big guy manages to throw Cade off the top rope when he thinks about a high risk maneuver. Hurricane returns to hit a missile dropkick and a spinning headscissors on Murdoch, but he can't manage to keep the guy down for three. As Rosey and Cade battle to the outside, Murdoch uses a jawbreaker and a top rope bulldog to pin Hurricane. It's pretty surprising that Murdoch uses such a high-flying finisher, since he has the build of a '70s wrestler. No steroid allegations for this guy.
J.R., The King and Coach take us through the Unforgiven card, which saddens me as I ponder how little time we have between pay-per-views these days. Masters finds Grisham backstage and tells him to tell us who the star is. He's also irked that Grisham refers to Michaels as his toughest challenge yet. Let's get on with it.
Final Segment - Master Lock Challenge
I refuse to call it a main event since it's not an actual wrestling match. Masters hesitates at first, but finally locks Michaels in the Master Lock. HBK backs Masters into the corner a couple of times, and uses the opposite corner to kick himself backwards on top of The Masterpiece. It doesn't break the hold, and Shawn seems to be fading when they stand back up. But just when things look darkest, Michaels gets an idea someone should have had long ago: he strikes with a mule kick. Masters throws Michaels down before he can break the hold, then grabs a steel chair. The ensuing chair shot leaves Shawn bloody, and Masters puts him back in the Lock. The ref calls for the bell since Michaels is out, and I'm worried that the WWE is getting Masters over since I hate the guy, and I think that's the point. Crap, I've fallen for it. That's all for this week - I'm out.
Next week: Your guess is as good as mine. We know it will build to Unforgiven, regardless.
Pre-order Heartbreak & Triumph : The Shawn Michaels Story
Nick Tylwalk has been a SLAM! Wrestling contributor since 1998, and currently holds a long undefeated streak versus other sites' Monday night TV reporters. Send your congrats to email@example.com.