THE TIME IS NOW
ST. LOUIS — After one head-spinning night, RAW fans everywhere were left to wonder if what they saw on Monday night really happened. Over the course of two jaw-dropping hours of Monday night television, fans not only saw John Cena — the WWE Champion and former SmackDown! Superstar — drafted to RAW, but they also witnessed an invasion of ECW stars that included standouts Tommy Dreamer, The Sandman and Rhyno.
After the show, fans in the sold-out Savvis Center were seen turning to each other for answers and discussing the ramifications of what just transpired. The more they talked to each other, however, the more question marks popped into their heads:
Did we really see ECW crash and burn RAW, fully resurrected and vicious as ever? Was that The Sandman on WWE-branded television blasting Bischoff's anti-ECW crusaders with a kendo stick? Was it really the return of the Dudleys, alongside the likes of "The Innovator of Violence" Tommy Dreamer, Rhyno, Balls Mahoney and Axl Rotten — with weapons in hand — making bodies hit the floor?
Did we really see the WWE Champion ripped from megastar status on Thursday nights and planted — alongside World Heavyweight Champion Batista — on RAW? Did we really experience that outpouring of emotion on The Highlight Reel when the news sunk in and John Cena was forced to address his fans about these events on live television — then confront Christian? What will it mean for "The Champ" to be here on RAW, and where does that leave the SmackDown! franchise?
RAW began with thrilled General Manger Eric Bischoff eagerly anticipating the announcement of the first Superstar to move from SmackDown! to RAW. The scene shifted to the center of the ring, where Y2J — unaware of who the selection would be — called out for the first pick to appear. When Cena's signature voice and the brass horns of his fitting song, "The Time is Now" hit, Jericho's jaw dropped.
Cena emerged with the WWE Championship raised high. He walked confidently to the ring, looking into the crowd at the faces of RAW's fans and telling them, "The Champ is here!" The crowd chanted his name as he soaked in the excitement of the unforgettable moment. Later, Christian and Tyson Tomko tried to sour Cena's RAW debut. Instead, Cena dropped some freestyle rhymes on Christian before taking down Tomko with the FU.
Clearly on Thursday, all eyes will be on SmackDown! General Manger Theodore Long, who must first pick up the pieces, address the void created by Cena's departure, then attempt to fill that void with his first draft pick. Can he possibly create as many waves with the selection of the first Superstar to move from RAW to SmackDown!? We'll find out Thursday on UPN.
Meanwhile, World Heavyweight Champion Batista and Triple H made their Vengeance Hell in a Cell Match official. The Game reminded Batista and the crowd that he's undefeated in the demonic structure and has used it end careers. But Batista didn't back down, telling Triple H that signed up for a one-way ticket to Hell. In addition, the GM guaranteed that this match would take place as scheduled regardless of the Draft Lottery, and he also made a second Vengeance match: Kane vs. Edge. After weeks of enduring malicious taunting, Kane will get his chance to silence Lita and her new love interest. But if he falls at the pay-per-view in Las Vegas, it could be the ultimate anguish.
If next week's RAW is to match this week's intensity, it's off to a good start. In addition to the second SmackDown!-to-RAW Draft Lottery selection, the main event will feature RAW's newest champion — John Cena — in a tag-team match alongside Y2J against Christian & Tyson Tomko. And none other than Stone Cold will be administering some Texas Rattlesnake-style justice in Stone Cold Court opposite Muhammad Hassan and Daivari.
Hassan thought he had become the new Intercontinental Champion during an unusual Handicap Match alongside Daivari against Shelton Benjamin. Under a stipulation granted by Bischoff, if either Daivari or Hassan pinned Benjamin, Hassan would become the new Intercontinental Champion. And when Hassan his modified STO finisher and covered Shelton, he thought he had ended the longest Intercontinental Championship reign in recent memory. Little did he realize that Shelton managed to get a foot atop the bottom rope, forcing the referee to correct his original ruling and negate the victory.
Hassan and Daivari were furious, and never fully regained their composure. Benjamin seized the opportunity to hit his T-bone suplex on Daivari to pick up the win despite the difficult odds against. Following the match, Hassan and Daivari stormed into Bischoff's office, attempting to use the referee's decision as further evidence of discrimination on RAW. There, Bischoff informed Hassan that WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon has assigned an independent, "higher authority" to deal with their grievances next week on RAW: Stone Cold Steve Austin.