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WWE RAW for 06/31/2003
(live from Buffalo NY at HSBC Arena)

Results: Lance Storm no-shows for Goldberg, Gail Kim wins a battle royal for the Women's Championship, Christian and Booker T wrestle to a draw (Christian retains the Intercontinental Championship), Chris Jericho and Test def. Stacy Kiebler and Scott Stiener via pinfall, Rico def. Maven via pinfall, Randy Orton def. Tommy Dreamer via pinfall, Rene Dupree and Sylvan Grenier def. The Hurricane and Spike Dudley via pinfall to retain the World Tag Team Championship, Triple H def. Rob Van Dam to retain the World Heavyweight Championship.

The Good: Everything on the show was entertaining this week, even the stuff we don't all agree with. Jericho is connecting with the American fans more than ever. Rico and Dreamer came back. RVD showed us that he can be our uncrowned champion. Bischoff doesn't get involved in any long, stupid segments...

The Bad: ... but he had a hand in the finish of all the big matches, which some people don't like (though, the idea of playing with the rules *every time* Christian and Booker T meet is getting sour with me). Also, if this was going to be such a big show (every title was on the line), nothing from it was promoted last week, so who's going to tune in? Maybe it'll be a ratings win anyway. The Buffalo crowd weren't a very appreciative bunch.

The Ugly: TSN hacked this show to bits. They didn't really have any choice, but I still ask why TSN forces me to watch RAW on TSN and not TNN, while The Score does not force me to watch SmackDown! on The Score - I normally watch through The Score since it starts an hour earlier, but when I want to archive a show or be able to go to bed before 5am during the baseball playoffs, I exercise my right to watch SmackDown! on WSBK (UPN 38, Boston). I'd better stop myself before I go into an extended rant. I see why it's necessary for TSN to be the exclusive Canadian cablecaster of RAW, but sometimes I don't like what they have to do. On the plus side, both TSN and The Score get mad props from me and many other people for replaying RAW (TNN and WSBK do not offer replays) and for treating pro wrestling with more respect than most American sports stations. ... Also, it seems all this fuss about Piper was just a work, according to the ads.

Tonight's CFL action has Toronto up on Hamilton in the SkyDome with less than two minutes left, and I'm assuming therefore that RAW will not be delayed. But then, the lights go out. Let's hope that doesn't happen when Booker T defends the World Heavyweight Championship against Lance Storm in the thirty-minute main event at SummerSlam 2004.

The lights come back on. The (Hamilton) Tiger-Cats grab a touchdown and bring the score to 49-8 and threaten to take us into overtime and delay RAW even further. Fortunately, the Argonauts withstand a last-minute rally and escape with a close victory of only 41 points. We join RAW at 10:06 ADT.

(Stuff I caught on replay: They show highlights from last week's World Heavyweight Championship match, followed by Kane removing his mask. The Highlight Reel opens RAW. Jericho welcomes us to RAW is JERICHO and says that it's fitting to open the hottest show on TV with the hottest show on RAW. (I'm glad they're not dropping this show just because Piper won't be doing its counterpart and prototype anymore. It more than stands on its own.) He says that while we may think his guest will be Kane - hideous Kane, who "looked like Krusty the Clown on crack cocaine" - in fact, he is not about about ugly, he is about beauty, and he introduces Stacy Kiebler. Unfortunately for Jericho, Scott Stiener comes along as well. Scott takes her garter off after some teasing. Jeicho says that he enjoys all the sexuality, but tells Stiener to hit the bricks. Stiener won't budge, and tells Jericho that he may take his suit and stuff it up his a--. A fight? Right here?)

We're missing Jericho?! Booo, TSN! Stiener wants to fight Jericho, but Jericho cautions him about the expensive set - especially the Jeritron 5000. He's not kidding about the money for that set - have you been to Future Shop lately? Personally, I don't know what to make of this movement to spend more on home entertainment than automobiles. Jericho tells Stacy that he has been checking out her spread in Stuff and beckons us all to the Jeritron 5000 to check it out. Oh! Put her with Storm! Now! Jericho asks Stacy what a tomato like her is doing with Stiener. (You know, Jeff Marek was asking the same thing.) Why should she be with King Arthur when she can be with the King of Bling-Bling, baby? "I'm a legend in this ring, and in the sack..." ("Y2J!" chants erupt.) Stiener says that he loves the peaks, juices, and long stems. Stacy doesn't think Jericho can compare with what the Big Bad Booty Daddy does with her hips and her lips and says that the only legend she's heard about Jericho is how legendarily small his p***s is. (Stacy, please! Kids are watching - show you have wit and use innuendo!) Jericho says that if she thinks that's clever, he'll top it with his own clever suprise: his next guest, who was so much better for her - Test!

Boy, these pro wrestlers sure don't know how to behave in interviews. Like chairman, like talent, I guess. =) Jericho attacks Stiener as Test runs in, but Stiener deals with everyone and starts tossing chairs in a classic, "look what I can do!" manner. Big deal - I tossed chairs around in high school. (... and look where it got me - badda-bing!) Eric Bischoff comes out after some wacky camera errors. Bischoff says he wants to create his own Mayhem, but first he delivers some very good news (my words as well as his) - Steve Austin is not here tonight! (Of course, on the down side, that may mean we don't see Storm tonight. Also, word is Steve has food poisioning, which isn't cool at all.) Bischoff will be running things on his own. He says that tonight is going to be a defining moment in his carreer, and he makes a match: Scott Stiener and Stacy Kiebler vs. Test and Y2J. Great! Stiener is going over Test AND Y2J! Anyway, this is great stuff because I can see Y2J really starting to reach the American crowd. People are chanting for him all the time now.

We go to break to discover that THEY ARE STILL ADVERTISING PIPER TO BE AT THE CALGARY HOUSE SHOW. Can't they change their stupid graphics? They don't hesitate to change history, but they balk at changing the present to fit the facts.

Lance Storm comes out and complains about being categorized as boring - he is anything but. He attempts to prove this by reading verbatim from the Webster's entry on the word. (This is pretty funny while it lasts.) Goldberg interrupts. Lance is cool in that you can keep squashing him again and again yet he keeps coming back into the spotlight because he's too talented to fall off the radar. When you have Goldberg beating Lance, you really have to be worried more about Goldberg's profile than Lance's. ("Did he beat Lance quickly enough? Is he still using that ill-advised remix of his entrance?") Rodney Mack attacks Goldberg from behind, but Goldberg turns things around quickly, spearing Mack in the ring. Storm departs. Storm vs. Goldberg for SummerSlam? (As if.) Goldberg puts a front face lock on Mack and then give him the Jackhammer. Long is bewildered. Goldberg hops out of the ring to face the ringside crowd and we cut to backstage mysteriously quickly!

Bischoff is sort-of aplogizing to Kane for what's happened to him, but says that he didn't need to take the match. However, he is appreciative of the huge ratings they got. (Yeah, they almost cracked into "borderline acceptible!") He tells Kane that he needs to take the towel off his head and go out. Kane shakes his head, "no." Bischoff offers him a rematch with Triple H, but still no. Bischoof asks if Kane is afraid that they'll laugh at him or treat him like a monster. Bischoff gives the title shot to RVD and tells Kane that he will make an appearance or be fired. We're also getting Christian vs. Booker T for the Intercontinental Championship. Make it a real match and some is forgiven!

A Battle Royal for the Women's Title is announced. I'm left wondering what happened to Jazz, but as it turns out, she does participate as defending champion. We're spared most of the entrances, but shown... Gail Kim! Rock on. Interesting entrance, but kind of quiet.

[WWE Women's Championship] Battle Royal* (Jazz (champion), Victoria, Trish Status, Molly Holly, Ivory, Gail Kim, Jaqueline): There's a lot going on. Jazz plants Ivory into the mat. Victoria kicks Jazz. Gail Kim gives Victoria a hurricarana. Ivory almost eliminates Molly Holly. Then Ivory is eliminated. Victoria tries to eliminate Trish. Victoria gives Trish a sidewalk slam. She slams Gail. Something happened to Jazz - the trainers are all over her at the apron. Did she come into this hurt? Jaqueline boots Molly to the apron and Victoria eliminates Molly and Jaqueline. Trish and Kim gang up on Victoria. Victoria knees Kim. Trish tries to eliminate Victoria. Great effort by Trish right here - it looks really slick. Trish puts Victoria up and tries to set up the hurricarana, but they end up exchanging blows. Trish falls to the apron. Victoria fires Kim into Trish, and Trish is eliminated. Victoria shoulders Kim in the corners. The crowd is lively but they can't agree on what to shout. Kim gives Victoria an arm drag. Victoria runs up to Kim at the ropes for a tumble, but Kim flips Victoria over as well, deftly hanging onto the ropes, and therefore winning the title. I would ask, "Why not just have her beat Jazz in a hot singles match?" but I'm assuming Jazz was hurt tonight. Anyway, this Battle Royal was fun to watch. Gail Kim has the skills, but her persona is kind of subdued at the moment, or else her music is just too damn quiet.

* - Report subject to errors.

[WWE Intercontinental Championship] Christian (champion) vs. Booker T: Christian jumps T before he gets in the ring, but Booker's not putting up with any crap tonight. T throws Christian into and over the stairs. T attacks Christian who's laid over the apron. Booker puts Christian down on the concrete, then runs him into the crowd. Booker beats Christian into the boards. Christian tries to fight back, but the refs break it up. We go to break.

The match is underway and Christian has the early advantage. Booker gives Christian a back body drop, but Christian kicks out. Christian hangs T over the rope and gestures to his peeps, who answer with intense boos. T comes back. Drop kick by Christian, and he hardly gets a two count. Christian puts T in a long hold. T climbs to his feet, but Christian is there with a rear takedown. Neckbreaker, cover, but T kicks out. Christian applies a neck hold again and T climbs out. The fans seem to like this. Booker puts Christian down with a spinning heel kick and comes back with chops and kicks. Booker T goes for a kick and hangs himself on the top rope. Christian attacks with a modified backbreaker, but T kicks out. Christian goes in with a right knee to the spine and pulls back on the neck for another delicious hold. The crowd is clapping without being told to. T gets up - Christian goes up to the top rope and down but Booker finds him with a kick in midair! Slick!! T mounts a comeback: Clubbing forearm. Clothesline. Suplex. Lateral press. He hooks the leg and Christian kicks out. T takes Christian for a Jack Brisco roll-up, but Christian gets the shoulder up. T can't get the Bookend, and he misses the scissors kick. Christian grabs the tights, and T kicks out. T gives Christian a flapjack. (I note a difference between the RAW and SmackDown! announce teams. On SmackDown! both Cole and Tazz call spots. On RAW, JR calls nearly all the spots. As Helms would say, "What's up with that?") T senses the energy of his five world championships and does the Spineroonie. Christian puts T out on the apron, but T gives him a scissors kick through the ropes and climbs the turnbuckle to set up for a high move. Christian recovers and hits the ropes to hang T by the C if you get my drift. Christian goes up for a superplex, but there's this dual-leg-hooking on the landing and Booker T gets the three count on Christian. Bischoff stops the decision and points out that both of their shoulders were down - therefore a draw (??), and therefore Christian retains the championship. Good match, but another slightly silly finish. What's wrong with just doing the superplex - maybe have Christian grab the tights for insurance on the ensuing pinfall. Booker T looked great in this match.

RVD approaches Kane backstage and asks him if he's just going to keep the towel on all night. RVD can't believe Kane turned down the rematch, and he can't believe that he won't go out. RVD admits that the mask stip was his idea, but adds that he doesn't need the mask because the fans will accept him anyway. Kane: "No, they won't! I hate the fans!" RVD says he's sorry Kane feels that way and says he hopes Kane doesn't feel that way about him. "I've tried to help you. I'm trying to movtivate you. I hope you don't hate me tonight when I win the world title." RVD leaves. Kane, quietly: "I do hate you, Rob!"

They put over the arena. Y2J comes out for the tag team match. JR: "He reminds me of those old washing machines; he's an agitator." They replay what Test did to Mae Young the other week, but TSN saves us from seeing it. In this case, I'm not complaining. Stacy comes out in her capital-H hot black outfit.

Scott Stiener and Stacy Kiebler vs. Chris Jericho and Test: We start with Stiener and Jericho which is good. Y2J taunts Stiener. Stiener tosses J and flaunts his biceps. They lock up. Stiener catches J in mid-air on a medium-height spot and puts him down for a two count. Stiner drops and does push-ups. What? Don't you want to win or anything, Scott? Stiener swears a bit and gets back to Y2J. Jericho tags in Test. Stiener applies chops, and a slam. Stiener puts Jericho off the apron and out, but then Test puts Stiener out and Jericho puts Stiener into the steps. Jericho chokes Scott with the cords before Test puts Scott back in and boots him around. Test taunts Stacy and goes back to Stiener. Jericho tags in and continues the work. He goest to the ropes, but misses Scott and gets hung up. He recovers and tags in Test - they double team Stiener and Test runs Stiener into the corner before doing some light calishtenics. Test tags in Jeircho, who grounds Stiener in a hold. The crowd claps briefly while Stacy desparately thumps the top rope at her corner. Stiener gets up and gives Jericho a belly-to-belly overhead suplex. Jericho slips to his corner and tags in Test, who Stiener puts down and chops. Jericho tries to get involved but gets press slammed into Test. Stiener puts Jericho over the rope. Test goes for a boot but Stiener lets him get hung up. Stacy bangs the rope up and down with test still on it - one of the best moments in this match that didn't involve Jericho. Speaking of, Jericho interrupts a subsequent count, and they viciously double-team Stiener. The ref tries to restore order, but Jericho gives him a toss and he calls for the bell. Bischoff comes out and orders that the match restart as a no-disqualification match.

Scott Stiener and Stacy Kiebler vs. Chris Jericho and Test (no disqualification): I was kind of thinking that this match went on too long already for Stiener's good, but it has some entertaining aspects to it, especially seeing Test and Jericho at their most arrogant. Stiener throws Jericho out and works on Test, giving him a belly-to-belly suplex which he kicks out of. Jericho gives Stiener a chair shot. (Jericho rules. Why *wrestle* when you can just grab a steel chair?) Stiener's out cold. Test grabs stacy by the wrist and forces her to tag Stiener's limp wrist. Stacy tries to escape, but Test restains her. Stacy slaps him, and in retaliation, Test takes Stacy up, and... oh, look, a Y2J sign! Hey, I see someone with a chili dog! Beer over here, please! Goldberg ate my family, too! Thank you TSN, for all this valuable and timely crowd coverage. Test does some pushups, and covers Stacy for the pinfall victory. The audio is silent - possibly to cover the evidence that Something Could Have Happened to Stacy**. This match went on a bit, but there was good heel work from Test and Jericho - it's so obvious that they know what they're doing. Test and Jericho together is an explosive combination.

** - I know that what Test did to Stacy could be considered offensive. But it's a work, and most of us are adults here (at least in my far-flung time zone). Maybe I'm becoming desensitized to violence. (Word from is that a pumphandle slam happened.)

They sort of start to show a replay, but it's cut off to a blank screen for several seconds. After the dead air, Darren Dutchyshen comes on and tells us about the hockey players who aren't getting qualifying offers. Someone buy these guys a TiVo.

We come back to hear that something happened during the break, but we're not shown it or told what it is. That's helpful! Rico comes out with Miss Jackie. About time! The crowd doesn't really react much, though. Maven comes out to some reaction.

Rico vs. Maven: Rico touches Maven's rear before they lock up. Maven give Rico a little push and Rico rolls and rolls and rolls and leans back to rub noses with Jackie. Rico beckons Maven. Rico does the "talk to the hand." He sticks his hands down his tights to retrieve... a key? (But what is it for?) Maven doesn't want to touch the key. Rico kicks the key at him anyway. Maven tries for a Sunset Flip, but it backfires. Maven kicks out. Rico kisses Maven on the cheek to get out of a side headlock. Maven gets frustrated and chases Rico around the ring. Rico slips back in, and Maven follows, but Jackie holds Maven back long enough for Rico to get the upperhand, starting with an elbow drop. Rico goes up and down with a shot to the back of the head. Rico dances around the ref. Rico touches the ref's - yeah. Rico sashays over to Maven, who tries to build offense, but Jakie sidetracks him and Rico gets back up. Believe it or not, there are actually some "Rico!" chants. Rico puts Rico down but Maven kicks out. Maven comes back and runs Rico into the corners. Maven runs Rico into clotheslines. Maven gives Rico a double-leg takedown and teases a stomp to the crotch, but Jackie tries to save him. Maven goes up and down with a bulldog, but Jackie puts Rico's foot on the ropes to stop the ensuing count. Maven warns Jackie off and pushes Rico down. Jackie trips him up and Rico roundhouse kicks Maven down for the pinfall. Jackie hauls out the feather; she crawls under Rico and they pose and whatnot. This was way better than his last appearance on RAW. I hope creative doesn't chicken out - keep the gimmick going for a few more weeks until they make the call. I see potential!

Randy Orton vs. Tommy Dreamer: They lock up. They fight outside. Dreamer finds the stairs with his head. Orton hangs Dreamer over the apron for futher assault. Crowd is very quiet except for the occaisional "Whoooo!" Orton gives Dreamer a hard Irish Whip, and hooks the leg, but Tommy kicks out. Orton gives Dreamer a drop kick, and Dreamer kicks out. Dreamer hangs Orton on the ropes. Dreamer tosses Orton clear and we finally hear "ECW!" as Dreamer achieves a near fall. Dreamer goes for a leg drop with elbow but comes far short of contact. Dreamer counters a face lock into a DDT, but Flair puts the leg under the apron. Dreamer goes after Flair. Flair takes his coat off. Dreamer gets out a kendo stick. Ha! Dreamer goes after Flair but Orton gets the RKO and the victory. Flair stomps Dreamer and applies the Figure Fout. Orton attacks Dreamer with the Kendo stick. It took the crowd a little while to warm up to this one, but when it lit, it shone.

Bischoff comes out and 'encourages' RVD about his title match, but RVD is unresponsive. "Whatever." RVD knows that Eric is trying to exploit Kane for TV ratings and tells him it isn't cool. Bischoff says it's RVD's fault because he unmasking was his idea. If Kane loses his job, it's on his head. "Take your agression out on Triple H." "That's just what I'm gonna do." RVD is good in his backstage moments tonight - almost as good as when he went, "Dude, we're gonna win," when Kane got mad about the win tag titles / join Bischoff's administration match. I miss the days in late 2001 when the Alliance was practically built around him.

Bischoff gives Terri an assignment to go talk to Kane. Terri says that she doesn't want to go into a room with Kane when he's unstable. Eric tells her she can either get the info or get fired. La Résistance come out to defend their tag straps. We're told that we can watch Bottom Line and enter some sort of contest. Yes, that makes sense: promote the show that only people who miss / can't see RAW watch... on RAW.

[World Tag Team Championship] René Dupris and Simon Gagne (champions) vs. The Hurricane and Spike Dudley: ("USA!") Hurricane gives Dupris an arm drag take down. Gagne tags in. Spike goes up and down with a Hurricarana. Spike shoulders Gagne in the gut, gives him the neckbreaker, and gets the near fall. Spike puts Gagne into the turnbuckle and stomps on him a bit. Gagne tosses spike out and Dupris works on him. Back drop to Spike, and Gagne gets a near fall. Gagne puts Spike in a neck hold. The crowd likes to see Spike up, but they were going "Boring!" earlier (for no good reason, really). Gagne tries to hold Spike back from the tag, but he does reach Hurricane, who hip tosses Dupris and goes up and down with a cross body. Gagne kicks out. He gives Gagne a neckbreaker and Spike goes up and down with a stomp to the abdomen. Dupris tags in. Hurricane teases a choke slam on Dupris, but it doesn't work out. Spike goes for the Dudley Dog but Dupris and Gagne *severely* double team him and Gagne pins Spike for the victory. The crowd wasn't really into this match, but I thought it was quite watchable. JR only called Gangne and Dupris by their names once during the match. C'mon, guys - these aren't the Bashams. You can tell La Résistance apart by their hair.

Terri knocks on Kane's door and slips inside. Kane is nowhere to be found. We go to break.

RVD! Imagine how much he could be over if somoene who had clout believed in him. People say he needs an accociate who can speak, (Heyman, maybe?) and while he's no Chris Jericho on the mic, he's holding his own tonight.

[World Heavyweight Championship] Triple H (champion) vs. Rob Van Dam: Triple H comes in with punches. ("RVD!") This starts out as a fairly basic exchange. RVD gives HHH a Monkey Flip and a heel kick and gets only a nearfall. RVD puts HHH down with a half-nelson, but HHH kicks out. RVD applies a drop kick lateral press to HHH. RVD puts HHH out of the ring. RVD boots HHH around on the outside. The crowd is completely dead. If I was a cynical bastard I could blame it on HHH or the booking, but I don't know enough to give an answer. RVD gets them back with the thumbs and he gives HHH a big moonsault from up on the corner. Ric Flair comes out and we erupt in "Whooo!" and go to break. Match is going completely awry so far.

It's time for Mark Loyd's vomit-inducing dreck. They advertise the Calgary house show again, this time showing a video of Vince calling Piper a loser. Huh? C'mon! You suck, Mark Loyd. When was this taped? Can't they just not show it? I know that the "card is subject to change," but advertising for something they know isn't going to happen is just plain wrong.

We come back to see the match in progress with HHH back in the ring and RVD dominating. The ringside crowd taunts HHH. Flair gets in the ring but the ref chases him out. HHH gets the knee with a chop and gets RVD down. HHH grabs the leg and goes to the corner. Flair slams RVD's legs into the posts. The crowd goes crazy for Flair. HHH works on the left leg over the apron. RVD slips out and can barely stand. HHH puts him in the ring, measures him up, and goes in with a chop to the knee. HHH takes the leg... Rats, the crowd is dead again. What's wrong? There's nothing horribly wrong with this match. Flair elbows the knee at the ropes. HHH applies the Indian Death Lock. RVD slips onto his shoulders for a two count. I can see why the move isn't used much anymore - the 'blocking' is kind of poor, for one thing, but HHH flips it around such that they are facing away from each other. RVD slowly approaches the ropes and finally takes hold. Flair, always looking for opportunity, sneaks in a cheap shot to RVD's knuckles. Ha! HHH takes RVD to the middle and applies the Figure Four. Flair assists on the leg lock from the outside. In fact, Flair is the only guy over in this match. The ringisde guys want to high five him. This is so wrong, but it's fun to watch. RVD flips HHH but HHH gets the ropes. (Of course!) HHH gets RVD's leg. RVD puts him into the ropes with a kick. RVD knocks HHH down huge and of course that puts RVD down and out. HHH is up first, but RVD gets the leg and lands another kick. Shoulders to the gut in the corner. RVD goes up and down with the springboard into a cross body but only finds "Twoooo!" RVD attacks HHH in the corner. RVD puts HHH out, goes up and down with a moonsault, and hooks the leg, but Flair interferes with the count. RVD goes after Flair. RVD knocks Flair down. HHH strikes, though, and sets up the Pedigree, but RVD counters and takes HHH for a catapult. RVD goes up and down for the Five Star Frog Splash! Cover! Cover! Please! He gets two when Flair whacks RVD on the back with the belt. The ref goes to ring the bell, but Bischoff announces that there's no way there'll be a DQ, and he orders the match restarted, with a stipulation for DQ. This seems to be happening a lot tonight, doesn't it?

[World Heavyweight Championship] Triple H (champion) vs. Rob Van Dam (no disqualification): HHH grabs a chair but gets a Vandaminator. RVD tosses Flair over the barricade. He tries to lift HHH back in the ring (but he's a heavy dude now!). Bischoff says that this match is also "falls count anywhere."

[World Heavyweight Championship] Triple H (champion) vs. Rob Van Dam (no disqualification, falls count anywhere): RVD gives HHH the Rolling Thunder and gets a two count before Randy Orton stops the count (but you can see HHH's arm going up as if he's about to kick out - sad). Orton puts RVD in the ring. RVD knocks Orton away from an RKO. RVD hammers Flair and chases HHH up the ramp. RVD meets the sreeen. RVD counters a Pedigree attempt into a back drop. Rolling thunder, and HHH kicks out. (What?) RCD fends of Flair and Orton, but HHH comes up with a belt shot and a DDT onto the steel to end the match. Kane comes out with a towel and goes to choke slam RVD but instead choke slams Bischoff right off the stage. The towel slips off and Kane still looks pretty freaky. Well, this match did a good job of establishing RVD of being screwed out of the World title like Booker T has been repeatedly screwed out of the Intercontinental Title.

Grade: (A) Despite my heavy sarcasm, this was an entertaining RAW. There was major silliness, but it was a good show, and the scond half on the main event lived up to and beyond its billing.


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