January 24, 2006
Raw: Michaels/Benjamin II doesn't disappoint
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling
Well, tonight Canada elected a new Prime Minister, the Maple Leafs once again crumbled to the Ottawa Senators and Raw emanated from Flair Country. Only one of these topics will be covered in this space. Read on to find out which gets our attention.
We start off tonight's episode of WWE Raw with Edge and Lita in the ring. I have to say this –- for a guy whose original gimmick was a non-talking, living in the shadows Spawn-esque saviour of the streets, Mr. Copeland has come a long way.
Edge celebrates his victory over Ric Flair and declares that he will not be a "transition champ" until John Cena comes out. Cena, mocking an earlier movie-style Edge video, proceeds to pun the hell out of the word "ho". I'm sorry, but Cena is no Chris Jericho, and Lita doesn't have half the heat that Stephanie McMahon had during her days of being a dirty, disgusting, brutal, bottom-feeding, trashbag ho. End result is a bit of promo towards the mystery main event later tonight.
Match 1 – Carlito vs. Kane
Why WWE got rid of the Cabana, I'll never understand. This one was quick and forgettable, save for the end when Carlito grabs a chair. Upon re-entry, Kane kicks the chair, forcing Carlito against the ropes, who then rebounds and wallops Kane with the black steel. Now that's cool.
Winner – Kane (DQ)
Backstage, Edge encourages Lita to do a "favour" for Big Show as a way to convince him to tag up for the main event. No dice says the big man.
Elsewhere, Mickie James does everything she can to get Trish Stratus to stop teaming with Ashley. Trish no sells, however, and James leaves all pouty.
Match 2 – Trish Stratus/Ashley Massaro vs. Victoria/Candace Michelle
Okay, now that I have the opportunity, I have to say this -– who the hell does Torrie Wilson think she is carrying a dog to ringside? Look, just because Britney Spears and Paris Hilton carry dogs around when they're doing interviews, doesn't mean they belong at ringside. Seriously, it's a Kennel in Hell spot waiting to happen.
The match is actually incredibly watchable, with Ashley nailing a top-rope cross-body press for the duke. If I was still doing points, this would get at least a 4.
Winners – Jumping Blonde Angels
Post match, naturally, James runs in to beat on Ashley. Trish nearly takes a shot from James, which would have been a good spot for character development, but I guess we'll get that at the Rumble.
Backstage, Shelton Benjamin's character is further defamed as he disintegrates fully into a mama's boy before our very eyes. I have to say that Thea Vidale is doing a great job in the role, but it's one that should've been a one-shot deal.
Match 3 – Shelton Benjamin vs. Shawn Michaels
Before the match begins, Vince McMahon comes out for his routine threat for HBK. This time, if HBK loses he's out of the Rumble.
This was another strong match between the two, highlighted by a Pop-Up Superplex and a Pop-Up Enziguri by Bejamin. Kurt Angle must've been grinning when he saw that.
The match goes through two commercial breaks, going longer than any WWE TV match, probably since the last Iron Man bout, whenever that was. In the end, the expected interference from Mama Benjamin happens, only it doesn't have the desired effect and actually costs Shelton the match. This wasn't as good as the first matchup, but still would go over the five-point mark.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Backstage we go again and Edge approaches Triple H about the main event. The former Greenwich blueblood says he'll consider the offer.
In the locker room, McMahon sits down with HBK for a chat. Apparantly Vinnie Mac is going to get a bit wild and wants Michaels along for the ride. HBK no sells Vince's offer however, infuriating the boss man.
Hey just out of curiosity, when are we going to hear about the new Raw general manager?
Match 4 – Coach vs. Jerry Lawler (Royal Rumble Qualifying Match)
Apparently, this is for the last available Royal Rumble spot, even though there were four spots on each side still open, according to wwe.com.
Anyways, Lawler has this one in the bag until the Spirit Squad debuts. Oh joy. Coach wins during the hooplah.
Winner – Coach
Match 5 – Big Show vs. Rob Conway/Gregory Helms/Lance Cade (Second Chance Match)
Crikey, what happened to Conway's push?
The premise here is if any can throw Show over the top rope, they're in the Rumble, even though there's no spots left. Oh well. We know what happens here.
Winner: Big Show
After the bout, Trippy comes out and says he won't team with Edge since he's not going to be charitable anymore. Lovely.
Match 6 – Chris Masters/Edge vs. John Cena/Ric Flair
Masters was a bit of a surprise, since I thought for sure that Snitzky would be in the spot, but Flair was a gimme.
Despite Flair getting all the heat, Cena still comes out the hero here, winning with the STFU.
I honestly can't remember an instance in WWE where the winner of the go-home show goes on to win the main event match, so it looks like Edge retains. The only question is who his opponent will be at 'Mania. If Triple H turns face, it's him, but at this point a final title run for Flair isn't out of the question either.
Bottom line, you can't complain about a show that had two more than decent matches, especially on the traditionally throwaway go-home shows.
Jon Waldman, a SLAM! writer since 2000, filled in at the last moment for regular Raw recapper Dale Plummer this week. Dale will be back Sunday, teaming with Nick Tylwalk on the Royal Rumble report.