Originally Published February 9, 2004
Anderson Cooper: Welcome back to Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. I'm Anderson Cooper. These past few weeks have been quite a roller coaster for the 2004 Democratic Presidential hopefuls. When the campaigns first began, many picked Howard Dean as the lock to win the nomination. However as time went on, Senator John Kerry pulled a number of upsets and looked to be the man to challenge George W. Bush. This week was another story altogether. Out of nowhere, Kerry was unseated as the frontrunner in a series of stunning primary victories by WWE performer Ric Flair. We here at CNN have been trying to understand how this turn of events began. Hopefully we can figure it out today as I'm joined by the man that looks to be the challenger for Bush in November, Ric Flair. Ric, thanks for joining me.
Ric Flair: Thank you. It's an honor and a privilege to be here. I can tell ya all, with a tear in my eye, that this is the greatest moment in my life.
Cooper: Well, that's good to hear. Now Ric, many were shocked at your upset. How surprised were you to pull ahead of Kerry?
Flair: Not at all, Anderson. I never feared Kerry. I beat em all - Kerry, Kevin, David, Mike, Chris, even old man Fritz. They can't stop me. Why? Cause I'm the Nature Boy, plain and simple.
Cooper: Uh, alright. Let's talk a bit about some of the issues that voters are focusing on this year. What is your stance on Healthcare?
Flair: Let me put it to you like this. One cold night on the campaign trail, a young lady whispered in my ear. She said "Nature Boy, you are the man." And I'll tell ya, she was all the way live!
(growing excited) We styled and profiled…whoooo!….all night long. Ha! She knew that the Nature Boy is a sixty minute man. It's Space Mountain! It may not be the newest ride in the park, but it still has the longest line! Cause I'm the Nat-ure Boy! I'm a jet flying, limousine riding, wheeling, dealing, kiss stealing, squealing, healing, fishing reel reeling, orange-peeling, envelope-sealing, son of a - whoo! - by God, gun! I kiss all the girls and make 'em cry. Ha ha! The fact of the matter is that whether you like it or not, learn to love it! Cause it's the best thing going today! Whooo!
Cooper: I have no idea what you're talking about.
(turning bright red and sweating) Whooo!
Cooper: Uh…ok. Let's move along. This past week, President Bush appeared on television and said that when he entered Iraq, he expected to find weapons of mass….why are you staring at me like that?
(Grinning from ear to ear and grasping Anderson's bicep) Look at you! You are a physical specimen second to none! Look at those arms! You have it all! Whooo!
Cooper: Actually my arms are just average. I don't know why you…uh, what are you doing?
(removing his jacket and unbuttoning his shirt) I'm taking my clothes off.
(unbuckling his pants) Take yours off too.
(Removing his socks and shoes - irate) No!? No?! You dare say "no" to the Dirtiest Player in the Game? I'm Ric Flair! Whoooo! I'm Ric Flair! You say no?! I'm Ric Flair! When the man says to strip, you strip! Whooo!
Cooper: This has gotten out of hand. I was warned about this. I'm going to end this interview now….
(Buck naked, standing in front of Cooper) Touch it! Go on, touch it!
(taking off microphone and leaving) Screw this. I'm out of here. Maybe I can go back to hosting "The Mole." They don't pay me enough for this.
(dancing and screaming naked) Whooo! Whooo! I love it! I love it! Hogan! Dusty! Harley! You all bow down to the man! Whooo! Whooo! Double A! Fifi!
Things would certainly be different if Slick Ric were President. First sign of trouble in Iraq and he would have grabbed the title and taken an intentional count out. But will Flair opt for such a decision tonight or stand tall and reign supreme over Chris Benoit? What's the future for the star-crossed Canadian lovebirds, Chris Jericho and Trish Stratus? Will Edge's Creepy Little Brother, Christian, continue to thwart their attempts at happiness? Can Bill Goldberg's obsession with Brock Lesnar help fuel his rage against the Raw crew? Does Triple H have a plan to even the odds against Benoit and Shawn Michaels leading to WrestleMania? Is Mick Foley going to insist on another batch of phlegm from the mouth of Legend Killer Randy Orton? Do you think Jayson Williams giggles uncontrollably at the end of
Well Smack Your TV, Escape the Rules, and buckle up. It's 9pm, Monday. It's Raw!
Portland, Oregon…February 9th, 2004
Raw Theme Plays. Eric Bischoff stands alone in his dressing room and gives away the results of the show, just for old time's sake.
Folks, we're in Portland and Jim Ross is so friggin' happy to be here alongside the King! Tonight we're going to see Randy Orton meet Booker T and Rob Van in a Triple Threat Intercontinental Title Match! Then from there, it's Chris Benoit meeting Ric Flair. Not just that, but Chris Benoit is going to sign his contract to wrestle Triple H at WrestleMania! It's madness! Madness!
Goldberg and his humungous beard breathe in the pyro and walk up the ramp. He's going one-on-one, but no opponent is named. Pretty sketchy if you ask me. Hmmm. Lillian gets ready to announce his opponent when suddenly…
Yeah, Joey, I'm glad I work here. I mean, if you're going to be an audio tech for CNN one day or something, you need to start somewhere. WWE isn't bad on a resume, right? Yeah. It's cool. But I hate Vince McMahon. Seriously, I hate him. No joke, one day I'm gonna be all like "Mr. McMahon, why don't you join the Mr. Jones Kiss My Ass Club?" Then I'll punch him in the face. I'll do it. You know me. I'm crazy. Why are you looking at me like that? Huh?….He's standing right behind me, isn't he?
Wobbling up the ramp is the Chairman of the Board for World Wrestling Entertainment, Vincent Kennedy McMahon. (JG Note: You know, Vince McMahon used to walk like a human being. Now he walks like an orangutan on crack. He swings his arms everywhere and looks like he's about to have a seizure. Weird. ) Vinnie Mac takes his microphone and stands toe-to-toe with Billy G. He will be "damned" over the sight of himself in the same ring as Bill Goldberg. It doesn't make much sense considering Bill works for him, but I agree that seeing them together was still strange. VKM wonders who will be next on Goldy's hitlist. The only problem is that there is no "next." You know why? Because Big Mac is canceling your match - that's why! You want a reason? Well…
Burt Convey: OK Sara, you'll give and Stone Cold Steve Austin will receive. Ready? Go.
Announcer: The password is…Car.
Sara: Can I have a new partner?
Austin: Look atcha, with your stupid little nametag and your silly little passwords.
Just to make the scene stranger, Stone Cold Sheriff Steve Austin shows up. He has one question. What the hell is Vince McMahon doing on this show? He
is the owner, right? Anyway, Austin invites Vinnie Mac to get his yella' belly out of the ring. Well, McMahon explains his reasons. He saw you give your No Way Out ticket to Goldberg last week. Then you invited him to raise hell just like you would! What's the deal with that? Vince tells them that before they go any further with this, they should listen to the Voice of Reason! (JG Note: There's a VIP message board user that has the screen name "VoiceofReason." I bet he's cheering right now.) There's also a voice of consequences. Not Vince McMahon consequences, mind you. No, no, no, the voice belongs to Big Mac's very special Extreme guest…Smackdown General Manager Paul Heyman!
Just a thought: In the year 2004, with compact cell phones, do you think Paul Heyman still hits people with his? It just wouldn't be the same.
Let's try this Invasion thing again. Paul Heyman is on Raw soil and things may never be the same! Paul E scolds Austin for assisting Chris Benoit in his jump from Smackdown. But quickly turns his attention to the threat to his empire. If Goldberg thinks he can show up at No Way Out and disrupt the festivities, he's got another thing coming. Paul invited BG to attend the show and watch the "superior brand." But all you're going to do is…well…
"I encourage you to use your front row ticket. Smackdown is the superior brand. No Way Out will be a great show. But you see, that's all you're gonna do, Goldberg. You're gonna sit in the front row, like a nice boy, and you're gonna watch the main event. Because you see, you may be the big fish in the small pond known as Raw, Brock Lesnar is a shark that will eat you alive. So by the power invested by Vince McMahon and with Brock Lesnar telling me to deliver this message to you. Goldberg, it goes like this. You will sit in your seat and you will watch Brock Lesnar defend his WWE title against Eddie Guerrero and you will not interfere with Brock Lesnar's match with Eddie Guerrero. Because if you do, Brock Lesnar will deal with you, Goldberg. And by the time Brock Lesnar is done with you, nobody will ever look at you and say Who's Next? They'll look at you and say Who's Goldberg? Do you understand me?"
Paul Heyman, 9:12 PM
At this point, it's looking like Goldberg is going to interfere in the Triple Threat # 1 Contender match anyway. Also, doesn't it get Vince angry when Heyman says that one of his brands is a "small pond?" Eh. Bill answers Paul by telling him that under no circumstances is anyone but Brock Lesnar "next." Paul E grows angry with the disrespect and lectures the crowd as to his importance. Taking a page out of Heel Mistakes 101, Paul turns his back and finds himself Speared to the ground!
Austin turns to see the
ECW Smackdown GM laying on the ground. He laughs and calls for some beers while Vince McMahon has a conniption fit. The Sheriff pours some on Heyman, rolls him from the ring and toasts to himself. He turns around and is right behind Vinnie Mac. Goldberg lines up for the Spear and runs in to nail the owner. McMahon moves and Steve Austin takes the brunt of it! Lawler and Ross are incredulous as McMahon takes a hike. Goldberg just Speared Austin! Goldberg just Speared Austin!
Commercial Break. Spike TV is presenting the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Calendar Special Spike TV should just use the slogan: "Spike TV - For People Who Didn't Get the Cable Package That Came With Naked Networks."
Steve Austin is icing up his neck when Big Bearded Bill Goldberg walks on in. Showing that he has no people skills - none, zero, zilch - Bill proceeds to deliver an almost offensive "explanation." He tells Steve that he knows it was unintentional. He says that he is
not apologizing. The Goldbenbergler just wants to make sure that he's not getting a Stunner from behind. (JG Note: How's that for an explanation?
Hey man, I accidentally hit your kid with my car. I'm not apologizing or anything. I just wanna make sure that you're not gonna be a baby and try to sneak attack me or nothing.) Stone Cold assures Mr. Friendly that if he gets a Stunner, it won't be accidental.
It's subliminal advertising time as Vince McMahon confronts Eric Bischoff face to face backstage, mimicking the cover of tomorrow's release of the
WWE vs. WCW Monday Night Wars DVD
. Vince is flipping out. Is this how you control your men, Eric?
Your man, Bill Goldberg tried to spear the owner of the company! You tell Billy G that Mr. McMahon says he's officially suspended. On top of that, if he dares show his face on Sunday's No Way Out pay-per-view, it's
your ass, Uncle Eric! The Monday Night Wars DVD should end with this segment.
(1) Chris Jericho & Trish Stratus defeated Molly Holly and Matt Hardy when Trish pinned Molly Hi, I'm Matt Hardy. What are you doing? That's cool. Me? I'm not doing anything. Yup. Nothing at all. - Version One has been left beyond the backburner since his Raw jump a while back. He's been reduced to playing low-card filler and getting the push of being the "losing streak guy." The purpose of this match was to advance the Y2J+4/Trish storyline and it did. Jericho got his knee beaten in by Matt Hardy and found himself incapacitated on the outside. Down and out, Chris was unable to stop Matt from reaching into the ring and tossing Stratus down by her hair. She had a hero, though. Christian rushed up the aisle and beat the Hardy Boy down for his act of evil. Strats capitalized and hopped over a hand springing Molly, jumped on her shoulders and rolled into a pin fall. After the bout, she checked on Moongoose's condition while Christian backed up the aisle. What was that all aboot?
Commercial Break. Remember when tampon commercials were the most uncomfortable ads to sit through? Now there's 3000 different "Erectile Dysfunction" commercials. What's going to be mainstream next? Enema ads?
Some of the Trailblazers are hanging out at ringside. There's nothing that professional athletes like more than a good love story with Canadians. Tonight's they're lucky night. Camera Two…roll.
Christian and Trish Stratus meet up outside the door to Y2J's healing room. Strats says that things don't look good. Jericho may be out for weeks! Christian is concerned, but not just over Jericho's health. He's concerned that he's been a jerk. He's been jealous. He admits it. But now that you and Chris Jericho are just friends, maybe all three of you can hang out. (JG Note: Everybody, join hands. Kumbaya My Lord. Kumbaya.) Trish would like that. Aww. Christian goes on to enter the room, but hesitates. Tian turns his head and remarks to Stratus that she looks good tonight. Well, look at that. He's a dawg! He's a dawg, Maury!
Garrison Cade and Mark Jindrak are doing what everyone does when they having nothing else to do at work - reading magazines. They peruse the current edition of Playboy, checking out the newest spread on Smackdown Divas Torrie Wilson and Sable. The Boy Wonders are ready to ruin the couch when Stacy Kiebler and Jackie Gayda enter. Quickly changing their tune, the Cadedraks tell Kiebs and Gayda that
they should be the ones featured in Playboy. Don't you worry about that one, guys. Miss Hancock assures them they will have their moment. I wonder what Mick Foley's doing right now.
Mick Foley's walking down the hall when he's confronted by Al Snow's little buddy, John Coachman. Coach is his usual cocky character as he asks Mick if he's been embarrassed enough. Mankind admits that he's been embarrassed, but Ort doesn't know what embarrassment is. Well, he's going to find out. Oh yes. He will find out.
Still to come: Rob Van Dam and Booker T found something to do. They'll both meet Randy Orton in a Triple Threat match for the Intercontinental Title. But next…Benoit meets Flair! Don't ya dare go away!
Commercial Break. Snickers has "The Most Nuts Ever." No one in the marketing department caught that one? Pretty funny.
(2) Chris Benoit defeated Ric Flair via Crippler Crossface Submission Everything about this match was good. Even Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross stepped up and did a good job on commentary. The chops were incredibly stiff, at one point making Flair's chest bleed. It was the type of match that you could feel. Brutal stuff. I remember watching a WCW Saturday Night show in 1993-94 that featured Benoit and Bobby Eaton against Flair and Arn Anderson. At the time, I was so psyched to see Chris and Ric wrestle. It was like that tonight. Good showing all around.
Jack Nicholson's long lost son
hit a Superplex, but missed with a Swan Dive Headbutt, sending us to commercial.
Commercial Break. If you didn't get to see the Quizno's commercial with the little singing hairy things, I can't even describe it to you. I'm going to have nightmares about those weird things.
We're back and these guys are still making mince meat out of each other's pecs. Naitch really holds his own and stays up with Chris during some pretty intense moments, one of those being the Wolverines rolling German Suplex. Flair nailed a low-blow and slapped on the Figure Four. When Benoit reached the ropes, Ric broke the hold but continued to assault the leg. It was the second Figure Four attempt that was his downfall as Chris Benoit rolled him in and slapped on the Crippler Crossface. After a few moments, the Dirtiest Player in the Game tapped.
Backstage, Triple H tells a ref to prepare the ring for the contract signing. It's next! See this finger, ref? See this ring? It says that the Game makes the calls! Set it up!
Commercial Break. How offended should we be that Spike TV thought wrestling fans would be a good lead-in audience for the mental sewage that is the John Henson Project?
Eric Bischoff is in the ring. The red Brother Love tarp is spread on the mat, so you know things are serious. Easy E stands in front of the obligatory table and proudly announces the signing of the contract for WrestleMania 20. He introduces the victorious and sweaty Chris Benoit before introing the World Champion Triple H!
Cue Hunter Seriously, this guy looks like
Meatloaf circa 1977.
I feel like he's going to a costume party.
Triple H steps into the ring and takes a seat. He signs the contract and hands it to the Bisch. When it comes time for Chris Benoit to put his Canadian equivalent of a John Hancock on it, he's stopped by the Game. Hold up, Chris. Trips has something to say to you. Hunter proceeds to take a huge amount of time to present the idea that Benoit winning the title is not a reality. It was just really drawn out and silly. The problem with Hunter's promos are that I can picture him rehearsing it in the bathroom mirror. Chris didn't help much by staring into space and looking as though Hunter's words were hurting him. It was just weird. At one point, my fiancée, who had paid attention to most of the show, lost interest. After a few minutes of Trippy setting up the Crippler's back story, she looked up from her magazine and asked "Is he still talking?" The intention of the segment was good, but it was too long. After talking on about Benoit's reality and how his career was a waste. then stopping the Wolverine from signing once more, Gameboy finally relents. Go on, Chris. Sign it. (JG Note: You know what would have made this perfect? If after all that, Chris Benoit grinned and said "Yeah? Go f**k yourself, Charlie," signed the contract and left. He didn't though) Benny Wa doesn't get a chance as the pen hitting paper signals the intro of Shawn Michaels.
The Heartbreak Man steps into the fray and is once again reminding us that he is "the Source of All Strength" via his shirt. Shawn confronts Benoit and congratulates him on the Royal Rumble victory. Michaels respects that. He also respects how you jumped to Raw instead of staying on Smackdown. However, he thinks that maybe Smackdown would have been a better place for you. You see, the ish between HBK and Trips is beyond anything you can imagine. It's not over. Shawn explains that this feud is "10 years in the making." The Man Toy tells him that he was "this close" to finishing it. (JG Note: I feel like it's taken him two years to finish it. Please, Chris, for the love of God, let him finish it.) The place of the finish? Madison Square Garden - WrestleMania 20. So, sorry buddy. No can do on your title thingy at Mania. That's going to Kid Heartbreak.
Benoit speaks. He respects Shawn. He respects your problem with Hunt. The only thing is that it's
not happening at WrestleMania. Once Chris signs that line,
he's going to the biggest event of the year.
Sweet Chin Music!
Shawn gives Chris the Marty Jannetty salute and sends him down with a Superkick. Triple H smiles and leaves as HBK signs the contract. Lawler wonders if Shawn Michaels and Hunter Hearst Helmsley are in co-hoots. Why is it that when announcers have to jump to a conclusion, they always jump to the most extreme insane ones?
Hey JR, you don't think that maybe Triple H implanted a microchip in Shawn Michaels brain and used a remote control to make him do a kick? Do you?
Commercial Break. If I get my tickets to the upcoming Raw house show at the Continental Airlines Arena, I'll be able to "Escape the Rules." I guess that means I can park wherever the hell I want.
We revisit the previous segment and JR offers some sanity to Jerry Lawler's left field conspiracy theory. Maybe Shawn just wanted to fight for the title like he said. Does that make sense, Jerry?
Kane enters the arena and Jim Ross calls him a "son of a bitch." Ha ha. He called Paul Bearer a bitch.
Stand Back! I'll be limping back up the ramp in about two and a half minutes!
(3) Kane pinned Hurricane Helms after a Chokeslam There's a new ticker on the bottom of the screen, detailing WWE's new stories and Shopzone Deals. Remember Barry Dodinski? He was that used to do the WWE merchandise sales presentations during the match intros on mid-90s pay-per-views? I miss that guy. If I was Rosy, I'd be sweating my Snickers off at this point. When the guy you're paired with to rub fan interest from is jobbing like Dale Wolf, you're in trouble. Suga Shane jobbed big time as a few offensive shots did no good en route to his Chokeslam loss to the Big Red Machine.
Following the win, Kane-o attempted his usual post match pyro party. However, his arms lowering did not trigger and pyro. Instead he stood there perplexed. After the third try, the fire hit…but that's not all…
"In 34 days, the Dead shall rise again." Wouldn't it be funny if George Washington and King Tut came to WrestleMania and kicked Kane's ass? No one would see that one coming. Good segment. Ring lights went blue and the bells blared. Same as we've seen, although the video offered a bit more info. I'm looking forward to Taker's return to the dark side. Speaking of dark side, I gotta run to the John. Watch a commercial.
Commercial Break. With the new colorful flying fish commercial, there's no way you're going to convince me that Skittles isn't a code word for "acid."
Chris Benoit is pissed. He's walking and clutching his achy breaky chin. Eric Bischoff approaches the irate Wolverine and assures him that the legal team is looking into this controversy. He's got you covered. You're worth a lot to Bisch. You're
You'll get your title match, Benny. In the meantime, Easy E has a gift for you. Next week, you'll meet Shawn Michaels right here on Raw! How's that? Huh? Would you like that? Huh? Match with Shawn Michaels? Huh? Yeah. You like it.
Three foot tall Terri Runnels looks up at Randy Orton and asks him about his upcoming Three Way Match with …uh….I forget their names. Rob Van Dam and Booker T. That's it! Orton isn't happy to say the least. Defending his title in a match like this so close to WrestleMania? It's a travesty. Randall smells a conspiracy.
Wait up there Goldberg. Johnny Coachman is in the house and he's got a question or two for you. What are you going to do now that you're suspended? You gonna play with the puppies and hang out with Mary Povich? Goldy answers this question with a reminder that he doesn't bow down to any man. He's suspended, but he's still got a ticket. He's still going to No Way Out and Brock Lesnar is still next.
Commercial Break. Red Bull gives you wings? I never would have guessed that. I would have said that they give you red steaks.
Mr. Foley, you're on. What? No. I don't want to. Do I have to? Fine. Ptoooo! There. I spit on you. Again? I don't want to! Fine. Ptooo! Can you go to the ring now?
takes a mic and steps in the ring. Mick concedes that he turned his back on his match with Randy Orton in late 2003. During Mankind's time away, one man became fixated on Foley. He called him a coward. But Mick knows that anyone who becomes obsessed with another's shortcomings must be hiding some of their own. Cactus cites televangelist Jim Baker's porno stash and Rush Limbaugh's pill popping as examples of those that preached against their own demons hypocritically. What's Orty's secret? Dude Love cues up a picture of Randall as a soldier. His story isn't a happy one. You see, the Legend Killer went Awol for 82 days. He was given early dismissal for bad conduct. Mr. RKO didn't turn his back on a match. He turned his back on his country. Mick tells Orton that he can only be considered a legend in one place - WrestleMania. You want to be a Legend? Well, Mania can be the Battle of the Legends or Battle of the Cowards, but it will definitely be the battle of Mick Foley and Randy Orton! How about it, punk?
An answer comes in TitanTron form. Randy Orton is on the big screen and he invites Mickey to do things on
his terms. Come back to catering. You know, the place where Flair hit Bischoff. Orton's here and waiting for you. Mankind runs backstage in search of the Champ and finally finds him. However, as anyone with half a clue could have figured, it was a set-up. Cactus finds himself on the receiving end of an Evolved beating from Orton and tag Champs Ric Flair and Batista. They put him through a food covered table and Randall reiterates that he asked for it. Mankind rolls around in pain, covered in squashed chips and snacks. (JG Note: After the show, Bob Holly and Bradshaw make the newbies eat them off of Mick Foley's sweatpants.)
Commercial Break. Isn't it funny how Castrol GTX runs three year old ads boasting "Oil as Advanced as Today's Engines?"
Yo Booker, you got any of those Hungry Man Dinners? I could go for some Hungry Man Dinners. Yeah, and
some sour cream and onion chips with dip, man. Some beef jerky. Some peanut butter. Haagen-Dazs Ice Cream Bars. Make sure Chocolate. Gotta have chocolate, man. Some popcorn. Bread popcorn. Some graham crackers. Marshmallows. Little marshmallows. Make some Smores, man. Also celery, grape jelly. Captain Crunch with the little crunch berries. Pizzas. We need two big pizzas, man. Everything on them. With water. A whole lot of water and…Funyons. Yeah.
You might want to use some eye drops. Vince is here tonight, Sucka.
Booker T and Rob Van Dam hit the ring as the first two entrants in the Triple Threat match. We await the entrance of Randy Awol as the adverts hit.
Commercial Break. There's a new movie called "City of God." I always thought that Heaven was the "City of God." From the movie trailer, it looks like the Bronx.
Next Week: Toothless Chris Benoit meets Shiny Sparkly Pretty Pretty Shawn Michaels.
(4) WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton defeated Booker T and Rob Van Dam in a Triple Threat Match via pinfall over Booker I can't think of three reasons why I should care about Booker T. Even his stalker that sent the "I Still Remember" note doesn't care about him anymore. Why should I? Same thing with Van Dam. In a match situation like this, you need a certain amount of buildup to be considered a threat to the strap. Had it not been for the excited crowd, this one would have tanked. The three mixed it up well and offered just as much time with the baby faces fighting each other as they did with Orton. Just the fact that both Booker and Rob were so unlikely to win this, it all came off anti-climatic. Good match, but not much to look forward to. The finale saw RVD hit the Bookerman with a Five Star Frog Splash. Ort quickly rolled Van Dam out of the ring and covered Book for the win.
Ric Flair and Dave Batista march to the ring to celebrate in the Evolutionary Victory party. (JG Note: Batista is wearing a black muscle shirt and looks like what Vince McMahon sees when he looks in the mirror.) However, the festivities are short lived as Mick Foley marches into the belly of the beast. Bloody and limping, Mankind gets into the ring and invites a vicious RKO from Randy Orton on the floor.
This sets off Flair and Tista, who choke away on RVD and Booker T. It's a group beat down that finally ends with all baby faces down in pain. Randall holds aloft his magic title and leans down to Foley. The baby faces roll around in pain and Ort talks smack as we fade to black.
All in all…. Tonight's Raw was the best of the year and delivered a great set up to WrestleMania and the hard-sell we're going to get on television leading up to it.
I thought Benoit-Flair was great. It was the type of match that you would definitely watch again. Stiff at times and stiffer at others, it was type of thing that made you wince.
I wasn't too big on the Hunter-Benoit-Michaels segment, though. I liked the set up for Chris's match at Mania. The meaning was good. It just seemed like a lot of talk that drifted in and out of hokey. When you're trying to suspend disbelief, you don't want to hear a promo that sounds like someone's reciting lines. Overall, it wasn't bad, though. It not only gave a back story to Benoit, but added Michaels, and gave us a solid match for next week.
While Orton-Booker-RVD was a good match, you could attribute that to the hot crowd and the in-ring abilities. Other than that, this match showed how Raw needs to learn from Smackdown. While Heyman's show gives it's upper mid carders enough credibility to be plugged into a main event slot, Raw doesn't. Van Dam and Booker were doomed from the start. You need some sort of promotion leading into a title win, don't you?
Altogether the show was entertaining. McMahon and Heyman making appearances, Goldberg Spears Austin, Christian-Trish-Jericho, Taker-Kane, Orton-Foley, they all were advanced. You can always tell when WWE turns things up a notch or two. They definitely did tonight.
I'll be back here next week for some more Raw Insanity. It'll be after Valentines Day, so all you guys will be too poor to go out anyway. You might as well read the Raw report. Be Well.