The 11/17 episode of RAW IS AUSTINLESS IN TEXAS aired live from Beaumont. It was a hot show with a great live crowd to follow up on the successful Survivor Series PPV. There were also a few things that didn’t make all that much sense.
They opened the broadcast with Eric Bischoff spray painting over the photo of Steve Austin (the one that’s always shown as RAW begins each week).
Footage aired of Austin’s dramatic farewell address at Survivor Series, after the defeat of his team at the hands of Bischoff’s team. The live Beaumont crowd began an “Austin” chant.
Bischoff got in the ring. The five members of his Survivor Series team (Chris Jericho, Scott Steiner, Mark Henry, Christian, and Randy Orton) were there, along with Theodore Long. Bischoff welcomed everyone to Eric Bischoff’s Monday Night RAW. There were two empty beer cans on the mat (Austin left two cans behind like that as he departed last night) and Bischoff stomped them flat. He said that symbolized the end of Austin’s legacy. Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler acted like they couldn’t believe that Austin is now gone. Bischoff openly vowed that he plans to reward his friends and make life miserable for his enemies now that he’s the sole general manager. As a start, he promised to do a favor for all five of his team members as a reward for their victory. He told them he’ll honor any one request from each of them, within reason, of course. At this point, Triple H, Ric Flair, and Batista came out. HHH congratulated Bischoff on ridding RAW of Austin. The crowd chanted “a**hole”. That crowd was well versed. HHH reminded Bischoff that it was Evolution member Orton who scored the final pin on “Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels at Survivor Series, and it was Evolution member Batista who did a run-in to help out, so he wanted Bischoff to recognize Evolution’s role in the elimination of Austin. Bischoff agreed, and as a reward for Evolution, he promised HHH he can have a World Title rematch against Goldberg whenever he wants it. HHH said that was “mighty white” of Bischoff, no offense intended to Henry & Long, but he also wanted another match, namely a handicap match with himself, Orton, and Batista against Goldberg. Bischoff agreed to that, too, and made it the night’s main event. Bischoff was smirking like a Cheshire horse’s ass throughout all this. HHH insisted that he had Goldberg beat at Survivor Series, and would have won if Goldberg hadn’t illegally used a sledgehammer. Of course, anyone who saw the PPV knows that Goldberg specifically didn’t use the sledgehammer on HHH, which is why HHH said otherwise. Bischoff said Goldberg will have to face HHH & Co. one against three, and that’s the bottom line because Eric Bischoff said so. Interesting opening segment.
Booker T beat Mark Henry in 6:23. Booker kept bumping off Henry, who wouldn’t go down. Booker took a spin bump off a Henry lariat. Booker hooked a sleeper but Henry backed him into a corner and squashed him. When Booker went for a scissor kick, Long grabbed his leg, allowing Henry to lay him out. Henry hurled Booker across the ring with a big hip toss. Henry scored some near falls with an elbow and a slam. Lawler reminded us all that Booker once served time in the penitentiary. Yeah, but if he’d had Vince McMahon’s attorneys, he wouldn’t have spent a single day in the steel motel. Henry missed a charge and hit the turnbuckles. Booker hit the scissor kick, did the spinaroonie, and hit a missile kick for a two count. Henry scored two with a powerbomb. Booker pinned Henry by surprisingly using the ropes to end a good, short match. Long was furious that Booker cheated, though of course he did it in retaliation for Long’s interference.
Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade beat La Resistance in 3:56. La Resistance attacked quickly but J & C sent them out to the floor. Cade got on the mic and said he and his fellow Texans are sick of La Resistance’s crap. He dedicated the match to the U.S. armed forces. Jindrak went to town with his athletic moves. If he and Cade don’t get over, it won’t be because they don’t try when they get in the ring. La Resistance trapped Jindrak in their corner for a while. Cade hot tagged and cleaned house, including a bigtime lariat on Rene Dupree. Rob Conway broke up the pin attempt on Dupree, but the finish came quickly as Jindrak did his high dropkick on Dupree, whom Cade had lifted up. Dupree was pinned, ending a match that was short but all action.
HBK was shown talking backstage with Maven and Tommy Dreamer. JR said he would interview him about his Survivor Series match after the break.
So, after the break, HBK was interviewed by JR. HBK was backstage while JR was out at the broadcast desk. HBK had barely started to answer the first question when Bischoff arrived with a security force and ordered the interview to stop. HBK noted that he and Austin were never friends, and that each views life differently from the other. But, he said, they both have one thing in common, that being a love for the wrestling business. HBK said that in contrast Bischoff only cares about the business because it provides him with money and power. He called Bischoff a dirtbag for robbing Austin of the thing closest to his heart. Bischoff said it’s not his fault that Austin is gone, it’s HBK’s. He reminded HBK that Austin voluntarily accepted the team challenge stipulations in which he would have to leave if his team lost, and that it was HBK who went down to defeat as the final man on Austin’s team. So he told HBK to go home and look in the mirror if he wants to see the man who is truly responsible for Austin being gone. He then had security escort HBK out, saying he had no plans for him for the rest of the night. HBK looked sad over Bischoff’s comments as security led him out.
Still photos aired of the Kane vs. Shane McMahon ambulance match from Survivor Series, which Kane won. JR said Shane is in guarded condition at a hospital and will hopefully be released later in the week. Career ending injuries just ain’t what they used to be.
Photos were shown of the closing moments of the Vince McMahon vs. Undertaker buried alive match from the PPV, where Kane interfered to cause UT to lose. Yes, this was a Smackdown match, but JR reported that Kane has been given special permission by Vince to appear on Smackdown this Thursday to deliver a eulogy for the supposedly now dead and buried Undertaker. Something tells me death and burial ain’t what they used to be, either.
Backstage, Steiner and Test were actually getting along. That was because Steiner used his favor (granted earlier by Bischoff) to ask for a tag title shot for the two of them. Test was so pleased that he gave Steiner his freedom from being a slave. At least they ended that angle with an explanation. Besides, it’s not like Steiner was a slave that Test could control. Even Spartacus didn’t go around calling himself Big Poppa Pump, let alone Big Booty Daddy. Anyway, Steiner wanted assurance that Stacy Keibler would obey their commands. Test said she would, and she said she would, too. That guaranteed she wouldn’t.
Rob Van Dam defeated Ric Flair by DQ in 6:34 to retain the IC Title. Flair asked for this match, and Bischoff granted it to him as yet another favor. When RVD reached the ring, the ref informed him that his five star frog splash had been banned in yet another Bischoff move. Orton did color commentary during the match, bragging about his looks and proud of himself for winning at Survivor Series and for laying out Mark Cuban. JR said Cuban should sue him. Flair opened with chops. RVD hit a kick and a flip splash. Flair took a backdrop. RVD went up to the top for what looked to be a moonsault, but Flair shoved him off to the floor. Back in the ring, Flair hooked the figure four. This was the heel version of the figure four, so unlike Flair’s babyface version, RVD reversed it. Flair escaped and hit a chop block. RVD did a crossbody off the top. When RVD hit the rolling thunder, Orton ran down to the ring and got on the apron. RVD kicked him off. Flair gave RVD a low blow but only scored two. RVD hit a spin kick and went back to the top. He was just about to hit the frog splash on the downed Flair, with the storyline that was willing to be DQ’ed to execute the move, since he could retain the title on the DQ. But Orton caused him to get crotched and then laid him out with the RKO, which ended up getting Flair DQ’ed to end a good match. Afterward, Orton picked up the IC Title belt and looked at it adoringly. He even tried it on before tossing it on the still downed RVD.
Jonathan Coachman arrived wearing his neck brace. He passed Hurricane & Rosey and told them their superhero routine will (ahem) never fly. He then laughed at his own joke. Coach entered Bischoff’s office and congratulated him on now being the sole ruler of RAW. Bischoff said that next week RAW will be in the most boring city in America, namely, Salt Lake City. So to liven things up there, Bischoff promised to bring back the old “spin the wheel, make the deal” gimmick with the roulette wheel to select match stipulations. Lawler liked this because it will presumably mean cute, scantily clad casino-type babes hanging around. Coach also liked the idea since he’s Bischoff’s yes-man. And that pretty much is a complete list of people who liked the idea.
Hour two began with the Highlight Reel. Jericho came out and said he was delighted that Austin is gone. He may have been gone tonight but his presence hung over the show like the Sword of Damocles. Jericho said Austin was a bully, a coward, and a complete failure as general manager. He took credit for Austin’s demise, saying that while Orton may have scored the final pin at Survivor Series, it was he (Jericho) who got the anti-Austin bandwagon rolling with his petitions and protests and it was he who clocked HBK with a chairshot to set him up for his eventual loss to Orton. He asked the crowd to give him a big “hell yeah” if they’re happy Austin is gone. Of course, they booed, so Jericho called them “Tex-Ass Clowns”. Jericho invited Lita to come out as his Highlight Reel guest. He began talking about how she was out for a year with a broken neck, made a dramatic comeback, but then failed at Survivor Series when she lost in her women’s title shot against Molly Holly. He emphasized the failure part, prompting Lita say she didn’t come out there to be insulted by a jackass like him. Jericho said he understood Lita was down in the dumps, and promised to bring out a guy who will put a smile on her face. Assuming it must be Christian, she said he’s the last person she wants to see right now. But Jericho revealed instead that it was her former boyfriend Matt Hardy. Jericho explained that his contract on Smackdown just expired, and he has now signed to return to RAW. You mean the wrestlers have divisional contracts that expire, leaving them free agents to sign with whichever side they wish? That makes no sense given Vince’s edict that no one can jump without his consent. Later, JR tried to make sense of it by suggesting that when Paul Heyman replaced Stephanie as general manager of Smackdown, the talent contracts all became void since they were owned by Steph, not Heyman, and Matt took the opening as a way to jump to RAW, but that really makes no sense, either. Anyway, however he got there, Matt was in the house, and out he came. Lita was delighted. They hugged and kissed. Matt said there was something he wanted to ask Lita. He took her hand and got down on one knee, as if about to propose marriage. But he was interrupted by Molly, who appeared on the ramp top and began complaining that even though she’s the champ, the show still revolves around Lita. In other words, why is it always Lita, Lita, Lita? Jericho piped up and suggested they fight it out. He recommended a mixed tag with Matt & Lita vs. Molly and a male partner of her choosing. Everyone was agreeable to that, and Molly announced that Bischoff would be her partner.
Backstage, Bischoff confronted Molly, demanding to know what the hell she was thinking when she picked him to wrestle. He said he wasn’t going to approve that as general manager. Molly said she thought he’d like it, given his past problems with Lita. She said this would give him a chance to physically get his hands on her in a legal match. Bischoff thought about it and decided he liked that idea, and added match stipulations that if he & Molly win, Lita gets fired, but if Matt & Lita win, Lita gets another shot at Molly’s title. That made no particular sense, either. A) Why not just fire Lita outright since Bischoff is now sole GM?. B) Why give Lita anything if she and Matt win the match? I mean, Bischoff is the heel, so why not make stips that are purely self-serving? Maybe he wanted to punish Molly for being so uppity, who knows?
The Dudleys beat Steiner & Test to retain the World Tag Titles in 6:48. Stacy came out looking solemn. Test put the boots to D-Von. D-Von hit a big flying elbow on Test. Steiner came in but got beat down by the Dudleys. Stacy cheered the Dudleys, so Test ordered her to sit in a chair. Bubba got tied up in the bad corner and destroyed for a while. He hot tagged after a Bubba Bomb, prompting Stacy to cheer again. D-Von lariated and tackled Test. All four began brawling. Bubba avoided the pump handle slam and laid Test out for the wazzup. Steiner suplexed Bubba and got one of the title belts. He swung it in slo-mo but missed and dropped the belt, which Stacy picked up. The Dudleys 3D’d Steiner but the ref wouldn’t allow them to pin him since he wasn’t the legal man. Test asked Stacy to toss him the belt and she refused. As he argued with her, the Dudleys 3D’d him and pinned him. Good match. Stacy looked worried, though, and left before Steiner & Test recovered.
Lita wanted to know what Matt had been planning to ask her when Molly interrupted them. He said he wanted the time to be just right, and then he’d ask her the question again. After he left to get prepared for their match, Lita was all excited, assuming it was a marriage proposal. She ran and hugged Trish Stratus and both were all giggly and happy over the presumed impending marriage.
Molly & Bischoff beat Lita & Matt in 2:36. Lita destroyed Molly and took her down with a headscissors. Molly hit Lita with a lariat and beat her down. Lita hit a reverse DDT. Molly tagged in Bischoff, who was wearing a suit. Not that it would have been better if he had been in tights, mind you. Lita slugged Bischoff and went to tag out to Matt, but he refused to tag. Lita was shocked, and Bischoff laid her out from behind and pinned her. Bischoff grabbed a mic and told Lita, “You’re fired!” Lita began crying as Matt told her the question he was planning to ask her was “how can you be so selfish?” He noted that when Lita suffered the broken neck, she could have joined him on Smackdown and been there at ringside for him, but instead she stayed on RAW and trained for a wrestling comeback. He said that proves the women’s title meant more to her than their relationship. He got in her face and said, “We’re through!”. Lita cried some more. Okay, if this whole thing, from the Highlight Reel all the way through, was a Bischoff set-up, then it made a little bit of sense after all as a way to humiliate Lita. JR, of course, was appalled. I’m not sure if a Matt break-up with Lita is the way to go, but we’ll see if it works.
Val Venis beat Rico in 6:02. Lance Storm watched from ringside with two cute babes, one on each arm. This was actually a very good match as they had a little more time than the usual 2:00 Rico gets and they did lots of stuff in there. But on commentary, JR and Lawler decided to argue. Lawler accused JR of dwelling on Austin’s departure, and Lawler warned him that with Bischoff in charge he could end up next week in a scaffold match or a bra & panties match with that spin the wheel gimmick. JR got all defensive about Austin and told Lawler to kiss his ass. Anyway, the match was hot. Venis hit a suplex. Rico did a devastating looking backbreaker across the points of his knees. Rico hit a kneelift and put the boots to Venis. Venis hit a lariat and a powerbomb. Each scored some hot near falls. Rico did a neckbreaker. Venis went to the top to deliver the money shot after laying Rico out. Miss Jackie tried to stop him but he bumped her off to the floor and (I hope your VCR’s were running) her boob popped out of her skimpy top, exposing the nipple. Venis then nailed Rico with the money shot for the pin. Meanwhile, on the floor, Jackie accidentally backed into Storm and, shall we say, felt his large endowment (the one the girls talked about last week when they saw him in the shower). Hey, look at it this way, we’re lucky it wasn’t Rico who bumped to the floor, and Storm’s lucky it wasn’t Rico who backed into him.
Lita was leaving the arena in tears. She had a dog with her. Dogs and RAW historically haven’t worked well together. Christian met her at the exit. She didn’t want to talk, but Christian told her he used his favor from Bischoff to ask that she be re-hired, and Bischoff agreed to honor the favor. Lita was delighted and seemed quite impressed that Christian would use up his favor for her, rather than asking for a title shot for himself or something like that. She grew quite warm towards Christian and they left together.
They replayed clips of Austin’s farewell speech again. For a guy no longer around, he was around a lot in spirit.
Footage aired of Orton giving Mark Cuban the RKO at Survivor Series.
Orton told the other Evolution members that he’s received an IC Title shot against RVD at Armageddon as his favor from Bischoff. Orton began listing all the great names who have held that title, citing Rick Steamboat, Greg Valentine, Pat Patterson, and Honky Tonk Man. HHH didn’t like the Honky Tonk reference, and Orton quickly added HHH to the list of great former IC champs. HHH told Orton & Batista that they are free to do whatever they want to Goldberg in their handicap match, but when it comes time for the pin, only he (HHH) can do that. Everyone agreed that HHH would get the pin.
Jericho visited Trish. But Trish was angry with him. She accused him of setting her friend Lita up to have her heart broken with his Highlight Reel segment. Jericho pleaded innocence and swore he had nothing to do with what transpired. He insisted that he invited Matt and Lita onto his interview segment thinking that Matt really was interested in getting back together with Lita. Why, he was as shocked as everyone else when Matt turned against her. Trish ended up believing him. Hey, we are talking about a gal who put out for Vince on more than one occasion. Jericho reminded her of how much fun they had last week on their date and said he can’t stop thinking about her. They ended up all lovey-dovey and kissing.
HHH & Orton & Batista beat Goldberg in a non-title handicap match in 6:13. Orton went after Goldberg quickly but he came back with a vengeance. He cleared the ring of HHH & Batista and then threw Orton out onto them. Goldberg beat all three up on the floor. In the ring, Batista trash talked to Goldberg, so Goldberg lariated and powerslammed him. Goldberg backdropped and suplexed HHH. Goldberg was about to spear HHH but Flair tripped him from the outside. With Flair out there it was like four-on-one against Goldberg. Orton came in and pounded Goldberg down, but when HHH tagged back in, Goldberg immediately recovered and hit the spear out of nowhere. Orton & Batista made the save when Goldberg went for the jackhammer, but Goldberg lariated them both. It took a series of finishers to finally put Goldberg down. HHH hit a facebuster. Orton hit the RKO. Batista hit the sit-down powerbomb, and finally HHH scored the pin after the pedigree. It’s an arguable point whether Goldberg should be jobbing on TV like this as champ, but at least he was protected by dominating a match with the handicap stips and losing only to the multiple finishers. As Orton & Batista held Goldberg, HHH told him it isn’t over and that he wants his title shot on RAW next week. They shoved Goldberg’s neck through a folding chair (like with his leg when Batista broke it) and HHH was about to come off the top onto it as JR freaked out, but Kane’s music played and his pyro went off. Kane charged the ring. Not knowing what this madman was up to, all four Evolution members backed off and left. Kane then chokeslammed Goldberg to end the show. It looks like HHH will regain the belt next week and Goldberg will then feud with Kane, but who can tell for sure? At least it’s interesting enough to keep our attention.