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Raw: Lashley rises to No. 1
By DALE PLUMMER -- SLAM! Wrestling


Monday Night RAW returns from Dallas and the big question is, what direction will the show head in wake of last week's tragedy?

The show initially kicks off with a recap of Vengeance from Sunday a week ago. After the normal intro package ... KENNEDY! And he's in ring attire, which means he is off the shelf and ready to go! Ken says he should be the WWE champ, because he never got the opportunity to cash in his Money in the Bank. He blames the fans for pushing him into defending the MITB. Kennedy says he will be the next WWE champ, when the current champ interrupts him.

John Cena formally introduces himself, but can't seem to remember who Kennedy is. He calls him Mr. Cameltoe. Cena says look around, this is Monday Night Raw, and anything can happen. Cena calls Kennedy a liar, saying his word is worthless. Cena doesn't trust him or like him, and Kennedy is responsible for losing the Money in the Bank. Both men eye each other up, when King Booker heads to the ring.

The King says he should be the next challenger for the WWE title. Booker proclaims his challenge for the WWE Title. It seems that Randy Orton wants to toss in his two cents.

Orton walks down the ramp and explains how things work. He says he has been on RAW the longest, ended careers, but has never had a one on one championship match with Cena. Orton says he deserves the title shot.

Enter former ECW champ Bobby Lashley. The former champ has some cold hard facts. Kennedy you lost the MITB. Booker you lost you title, same for Orton. Lashley says he never lost the ECW title. Cena says let's do something about this. Enter ... William Regal.

Regal says he is in charge with Jonathan Coachman on holiday. So tonight we will have a series of Beat the Clock matches. Whoever wins their match the quickest will sign a contract tonight to face Cena at the Great American Bash. Regal tells Orton to get ready, his match is next.

Match #1 Randy Orton vs. Jeff Hardy Beat the Clock match

Orton tries for an early pin after a shoulder block, but Jeff counters with a roll up. Orton hits a drop kick, and then shoots Hardy off the ropes. Jeff stops himself, and Orton charges. Hardy drops Orton over the ropes, and hits a baseball slide. Hardy then hits a plancha. Back in the ring, Orton drops Hardy with a clothesline. Orton hits a leg drop, and then slaps on a waist lock. Orton hits a scoop slam, and a two count. Orton hits another scoop slam. Orton locks in a body scissors. Orton breaks the hold and nails Hardy with an European uppercut. Hardy hits a reverse bulldog. Orton is kicked into the corner, where Jeff drives a kick into Orton's sternum. Jeff hits a facebuster, and then climbs the turnbuckle. Orton rolls to the apron, and Hardy follows. Orton whips Hardy into the corner, but Hardy counters with a Whisper in the Wind. Hardy goes for a Twist of Fate, but Orton counters with the RKO. Orton covers for the win at 7:06.

Winner via pinfall: Randy Orton

New Women's champ Candice Michelle joins JR and King on commentary.

Match #2 Maria vs. Melina

(I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Maria doesn't belong in the ring. She is fine in her role as the backstage reporter, but let's send Victoria, who can wrestle, to the show without the belt.)

Melina shoves Maria, and Maria responds with a Thesz press. Melina powers out, and hits a big swing! Melina pulls her hair, and then runs Maria's face into the mat. Maria kicks Melina in the back, but Melina responds with a DDT. Maria fights back, hitting a bulldog. Maria mounts Melina in the corner, but Melina counters by slamming Maria face into the turnbuckle. Melina hits a standing leg drop and gets the three count.

Winner via pinfall: Melina

After the match, Melina approaches Candice. The two stare each other down, and Melina attacks. Candice fights back, slamming Melina into the security barrier. Candice climbs atop the announce table and shows off her belt.

Triple H's surgery is shown, and his return is teased.

Dusty Rhodes is introducing his son, Cody, backstage. Hacksaw Duggan seems impressed, but Randy Orton isn't. Orton tells Cody that he could be just like him. He tells Cody that he is the Legend ... as he looks at the Dream. Cody tells Orton to back off. Dusty calls Orton disrespectful and slaps Dusty. The Dream holds back his son as Orton walks away.

Santino Marella checks on Maria in the trainer's room. She is more worried about him. Santino says he challenged Umaga because people don't believe in him. He wants to prove he can beat Umaga and be the IC champ. Santino then steals a quick kiss as he goes off to his match.

Match #3 Santino Marella vs. Umaga Intercontinental Title Match

Marella goes for a single leg take down, but Umaga just shrugs him off. Marella kicks the hamstrings, but gets caught, and is taken down. Marella rolls away from a splash and dropkicks Umaga out of the ring. The Samoan Bulldozer yanks Santino out of the ring, and crushes his skull against the ring post. Back in the ring, Umaga locks on a nerve pinch. Marella dodges Umaga again, and goes back to the kicks. Santino covers, but Umaga tosses him out of the ring. Marella climbs the turnbuckle, but Umaga catches Santino and hits the Samoan drop. Umaga sets Santino in the corner and hits the whiplash, and then finishes him off with the Samoan Spike.

Winner via pinfall and new Intercontinental Champion: Umaga

King Booker and Queen Sharmell head out for his match.

Match #4 King Booker vs. Val Venis Beat the Clock Match

Booker and Venis lock up, and Val hits a shoulder block. Booker tries an inside cradle, but Val kicks out. Booker kicks Val in the face. Venis hits a back suplex, and then chops away at Booker. Val runs into a hard clothesline, and then tosses Venis into the ring post. Booker locks in an armbar, but Venis gets his foot on the ropes. King Booker hits a vertical suplex, and then a reverse elbow. Venis ducks a roundhouse kick, and then ducks a scissors kick. Venis hits a clothesline, and a reverse neck breaker. Booker hits a reverse kick, and then the scissors kick. Booker covers and gets the pin. King Booker is the leader in the clubhouse at 4:30.

Winner via pinfall: King Booker

Backstage, Kennedy is trying to get Super Crazy to lay down for him. Kennedy tells Crazy to save himself the pain and humiliation and if all goes well, Kennedy will slide some pesos his way. Super Crazy seems to agree.

Match #5 Ken Kennedy vs. Super Crazy Beat the Clock match

Super Crazy's entrance interrupts Kennedy's pre-match ritual. The bell sounds and Kennedy has his mike lowered from the ceiling. Ken tells Super Crazy to never disrespect him like that again. Ken starts his routine, and Super Crazy rolls him up and gets the pin. Kennedy is out of the running.

Winner via pinfall: Super Crazy

King Booker and his Queen talk with Shelton Benjamin, who is Lashley's opponent later tonight. They tell Benji if he beats or stalls Lashley long enough, Shelton will get the first title shot when Booker wins the WWE Title. Benjamin kisses the ring to seal the deal.

Todd Grisham asks Dusty Rhodes about his confrontation with Orton. Rhodes says he wants Orton in the ring next week.

Carlito is complaining to Jillian Hall about The Sandman, when The Sandman shows up. Sandman says tonight he will show 'Lito how much he likes to fight. Carlito responds by spitting apple in The Sandman's face. Sandman takes it all in stride, spitting beer back at Carlito. All Ron Simmons can say is ... well, you know, "DAMN!"

Match #6 Carlito vs. The Sandman

Carlito and Sandman lock up. The ref breaks the two up, but they lock up again. Carlito punches Sandman in the corner. Carlito runs into a reverse elbow, and tries to roll out of the ring. Carlito hangs Sandman up, and twists the head of Sandman. Carlito hits reverse elbow and picks up the Singapore cane. The ref takes it, but Sandman rips it away, and clocks Carlito over the head. The ref calls for the bell.

Winner via DQ: Carlito

Match #7 Bobby Lashley vs. Shelton Benjamin Beat the clock match

Lashley has four minutes and 30 seconds to get the job done. Benjamin dances around, but Lashley catches him with a single leg take down, and mat wrestling ensues. Benji slips out of the ring. Lashley hits a series of punches, and then an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Benji then bails from the ring to avoid a spear. Shelton milks the clock on the outside, and Lashley comes after him. Bobby hits a few punches, and sets up a vertical suplex. Benji counters into a DDT. Shelton kicks away, but Lashley catches him with a T-bone suplex. Lashley drives his shoulder into Benji in the corner, and then slams him to the mat. Benjamin slips out of a backbreaker, and kicks Lashley in the face. Benjamin climbs the top turnbuckle, but Lashley spears him out of mid air. Lashley covers and gets the pin, and wins the number one contender spot.

Winner via pinfall: Bobby Lashley

William Regal comes to the ring with contract in hand. Lashley hits the ring. John Cena heads to the ring and grabs the mike. He says both men know each other, and says he is a great competitor and this will be a great match. Lashley signs the contract, when Kennedy and Booker interrupt. Cena says if they want some come get some. Lashley and Cena take care of Kennedy and Booker. Lashley and Cena clear the ring. Cena signs the contract, only to turn right into a spear from Lashley. Bobby holds up the belt, before leaving the ring.

Dale Plummer has been writing for SLAM! Wrestling since 2003.