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Garden of hell
Normally, Monday Night RAW begins with an impressive pyrotechnics display filled with explosions and wild fans erupting… but on this night, WWE decided to pause for a moment of silence to remember the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Howard Finkel introduced the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard, and RAW ring announcer Lilian Garcia sang an emotional rendition of "America the Beautiful." After Lilian's performance, WWE got back to doing what it does best, which was perfectly phrased by J.R.:
"We are here to celebrate life, entertaining like only WWE can."
And in front of a sold out raucous crowd of 17,298, Mr. McMahon celebrated his first-ever victory in a main event match at Madison Square Garden. The Chairman was able to dip into his unlimited resources to ensure that he would emerge victorious against Triple H. Prior to the match, the WWE Chairman was unusually calm when he proclaimed that "Tonight I have a feeling we'll be walking all over DX." With the help of Trevor Murdoch and Lance Cade, as well as the ECW World Champion Big Show and Shane McMahon, Mr. McMahon was able to live up to his words.
Before DX made their way to the ring, Triple H was approached by Cade and Murdoch and then attacked as Shane McMahon subdued the Cerebral Assassin while Big Show took Shawn Michaels and drove him into the hood of a limousine. Then, the crew of vagrants slammed Triple H's head in the car door, leaving The Game lying discombobulated and bleeding from his right ear.
As Triple H was writhing in pain with blood pouring from his ear, the Chairman confidently approached and -- with a demonic smirk -- told his opponent that he had changed the match to No Holds Barred rules.
Other Superstars may have thrown in the towel and refused to compete in such a condition, but Triple H isn't your everyday competitor. As he stumbled down the ramp with WWE Doctor Louis Rios trying to stop him, it was clear that something wasn't right with The Game; he just wasn't himself.
In the match, Triple H attempted to lunge at Mr. McMahon, but with The Game's equilibrium askew, the Chairman had the distinct advantage and was able to capitalize. He had the Cerebral Assassin at his mercy as he targeted the bleeding right ear and wrapped his belt around the King of Kings' throat. And when he thought he had The Game beat, Mr. McMahon applied The Pedigree… but it wasn't enough.
Something inside Triple H snapped, as if the rage and anger of being ambushed and cheated out of a fair match in front of the frenzied crowd in the Mecca of sports-entertainment erupted inside of him. For a moment, The Game was himself, unleashing a brutal assault capped off by a thunderous spine buster.
But it didn't last; Shane McMahon and Big Show made certain of that.
Shawn Michaels made his way to the ring to help his partner, but he was caught with a steel chair to the face that knocked him unconscious. Then, with the Largest Athlete in the World holding Triple H, Mr. McMahon delivered a blow to the head with a sledgehammer to get the pinfall.
DX was left battered and broken, as Triple H was left a bloody mess and HBK was left physically dismantled. With only six days to recover before climbing into a Hell in a Cell at Unforgiven, can DX physically regroup? Will they even be in any condition to compete in a Hell in a Cell against the McMahons and Big Show?
As Mr. McMahon emerged victorious in his MSG main event debut, Trish Stratus earned a victory in her final appearance on RAW. Trish was victorious against Mickie James but had to thwart another attempt from Women's Champion Lita -- Trish's opponent at Unforgiven -- to ruin another one of her moments. Lita already spoiled the news about Stratus' decision to retire after Unforgiven by contacting WWE.com and spilling information that she overheard when Trish was on the phone, but this time, Trish wouldn't let her get the satisfaction. She defeated Mickie after landing her signature Stratusfaction for the win.
After the match, an emotional Trish addressed the crowd and was fighting back tears as she thanked the WWE fans for their support and for "coming along for the ride."
Lita and Trish weren't the only Unforgiven opponent to clash with one another on RAW. WWE Champion Edge told the raucous MSG crowd that they were in for a historic night.
"Tonight marks the final RAW appearance of one John Cena, because after I beat him at Unforgiven, I'm going to send him back to where he came from, SmackDown."
The Rated R Superstar then mocked Cena's hip-hop skills with a poorly executed rhyme that insulted his Unforgiven challenger. But it was Cena who got the last laugh as his team of Carlito and Jeff Hardy defeated Edge's team of Randy Orton and Intercontinental Champion Johnny Nitro in a Six Man Tag Team Match.
The crowd was soundly behind Cena's team, but was torn about where the Doctor of Thuganomics should end up after Sunday's pay-per-view. Half of them chanted "Go to SmackDown" while the other half shouted "Stay on RAW."
Prior to the match, Jeff Hardy had an encounter with his Unforgiven opponent, Johnny Nitro, and doused him with blue and yellow paint. The move may not have been devastating physically, but mentally it was enough to throw Nitro off of his game the entire match.
After a fierce back and forth battle in the ring where each Superstar had an opportunity to trade blows with their Unforgiven opponent, Cena was about to hit Nitro with a Five Knuckle Shuffle but Randy Orton was poised to nail Cena with an RKO. That's when Carlito came up behind Orton and hit him with a Back Cracker.
In the end, Cena had Edge up for the FU, but the champion wiggled free and rolled out of the ring. Instead, Cena locked Nitro in the STFU for the submission victory.
As the referee raised the victors' hands, Edge glared at Cena from the ramp with hate beaming from his eyes. Will Cena be able to go into Edge's backyard of Toronto on Sunday and walk out with a victory to stay on RAW? Can Jeff Hardy use Unforgiven -- his first WWE pay-per-view appearance in three years -- to become a two-time Intercontinental Champion? Will Carlito defeat Orton and fully avenge the Legend Killer's RKO on Trish Stratus?
Also, WWE Hall of Famer Roddy Piper made a surprise appearance and received a standing ovation from the sold out MSG crowd. The WWE Fans went wild for the Hot Rod as he made a rare appearance on RAW… and he didn't come empty handed. He brought with him a copy of WWE Magazine's "51 Worst Offenders in WWE History" and bragged about landing as the No. 1 worst offender. Piper teamed with fellow Scots the Highlanders to destroy WWE Tag Team Champions the Spirit Squad.
After an interesting exchange between Piper and Robbie and Rory McAllister prompted the Squad to hurl a few insults at them for dressing like a "bunch of girls," the three kilt donning grapplers showed the five cheerleaders why Piper is not only a WWE Hall of Famer, but also -- in Piper's own words -- why he's the "dirtiest, lowdown, son of an unnamed goat, biggest bastard of all time."
In the match, Piper was confronted by the referee for using eye gouges, low blows and other illegal moves that landed him on the number one slot of WWE Magazine's "51 Worst Offenders" list. While the referee chided the Hot Rod, the Highlanders used a slingshot suplex on Johnny that allowed Piper to get the cover for the victory.
The Highlanders will meet the Spirit Squad for the WWE Tag Team Championship Sunday at Unforgiven, and they'll no doubt be using their victory tonight on RAW as motivation to get their first taste of WWE gold.
Also, Ric Flair took on the undefeated Umaga. This was not the first time the two Superstars have locked up, but this time Flair combated the Samoan Bulldozer with a chair and got himself disqualified. He attacked Umaga with all he had… but the undefeated streak was kept alive. Flair tried to bash him with chairs and the steel steps, but Umaga bulldozed right through them. He looked almost invincible until the Big Red Monster Kane came out.
The two mammoth Superstars locked up and traded blows. After delivering a steel chair to Kane's back and head, Umaga and the riotous crowd were surprised when Kane sat upright, ready for more. The Big Red Monster returned the favor by smashing Umaga out of the ring with the steel chair and then blasting him with the steel steps. It was by far the worst beating Umaga has received since his debut on RAW, and Umaga would have kept going back for more if Armando Alejandro Estrada didn't pull him out of harm's way.
When Kane and Umaga meet at Unforgiven, can the Samoan Bulldozer keep his record unblemished, or will the Big Red Machine give him his first taste of defeat?
Plus, Super Crazy proved that he's no fluke. After joining RAW when his SmackDown contract expired, he was victorious for the second straight week against Chris Masters. He showed the Masterpiece that size doesn't matter as he was able to get a pinfall with a roll up victory.
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