Checkmate

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October 02, 2006

On one incredible night in Topeka, Kan., John Cena and D-Generation X provided the RAW highlights for one of the most memorable Mondays in sports-entertainment history. DX had a great night, removing Jonathon Coachman from the building and seizing control of RAW. But John Cena had a better night, as he once again defied the odds by successfully defending the WWE Championship against his bitter rival, Edge.

It's a rivalry that has dominated the RAW landscape for the better part of ten months. The hatred began on one cold night in January at New Year's Revolution when Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank contract for the right to finish off an already exhausted John Cena and capture his first WWE Championship. Since that night, the two have been at each other's throats in a constant battle for RAW's richest prize.

On Monday night, the rivalry reached its boiling point as the two met in the only structure that could contain their animosity: a 15-foot high Steel Cage. The rules of the Steel Cage are simple: pin your opponent, make him submit, or escape the confines of the unforgiving steel before your opponent.

Cena was once again facing seemingly insurmountable odds. The champ's arm was bandaged heavily due to a beating he suffered at the hands of SmackDown's King Booker, Finlay and Sir William Regal just days ago, but as usual, Cena was offering no excuses.

The match was every bit as competitive as the first 10 months of the rivalry, a back and forth chess match with each man utilizing their strengths and capitalizing on their opponent's weaknesses in the struggle to gain the advantage.

The momentum changed hands on numerous occasions and each man made several attempts to climb out of the imposing structure. At one point, Edge attempted to climb out of the cage, but was stopped by Cena, who promptly suplexed him back first off the top rope to the mat below. The Chain Gang leader followed up with the signature Five-Knuckle Shuffle, and attempted to put Edge away with the F-U. However, after ten months of battle, Edge had the move scouted and countered with a modified backbreaker.

The change in momentum inspired Lita to get involved, but the fiery Diva never made it into the ring. Instead, ringside Referee Marty Rubalcaba blocked her entry and ejected the former Women's Champion from the building, all as a dejected Edge looked on from the ring. During the commotion, a steel chair made its way into the ring, and that very chair would lead to Edge's eventual downfall.

As the combatants battled for the chair, referee Jack Doan found himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and took an inadvertent blow which rendered him temporarily unconscious.

Edge seized control of the chair and swung for the fences, but Cena ducked and grabbed the chair to deliver a knockout blow not seen since the days of Mike Tyson's prime. Cena immediately locked in the STFU, but with the referee disabled, there was nobody left to ring the bell. Seconds later, Edge received temporary aid in the form of tag team specialists Lance Cade & Trevor Murdoch. The cowboys hit the ring and took out Cena with the Sweet and Sour and proceeded to try and pull Edge out of the ring to victory… but D-Generation X had other plans.

Triple H and Shawn Michaels succeeded in evening the score. Michaels put the finishing touches on DX's evening when he leveled Trevor Murdoch with Sweet Chin Music, propelling him towards the cage door, which in turn slammed right into Edge's escaping cranium.

The jolt sent Edge back into the ring, where Cena was waiting for him with an explosive F-U and a three-count. Once again, Cena survived unbelievable odds to score an unlikely victory, all in proving himself to be the consummate fighting champion. RAW has seen its share of breath-taking matches in the past, but few have had as much emotion, or as much on the line as the battle endured by John Cena and Edge.

Nearly two hours earlier, the show opened with D-Generation X in the ring, reminding fans of the plight of the McMahons. Those McMahons, who have still yet to show their face since the beating they experienced at Unforgiven, were again away from RAW to recover from their injuries. Instead, the McMahons sent Jonathan Coachman, who interrupted DX's rant to try and restore order to Monday nights.

Coachman told DX that he was running the show, and ordered them into an immediate four-team Tag Team Texas Tornado Match. The opposing teams, Charlie Haas & Viscera, Cade & Murdoch, and The Highlanders, quickly headed towards the ring, each hoping to make their name with a single victory over the McMahon's hated rivals.

The rules of the Texas Tornado match are as follows: the first team to score a pinfall or submission wins. DX made quick work of an overwhelming six-on-two disadvantage, delivering their signature Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combination to score the pin on Charlie Haas. After the match, Coachman attempted to regain control.

"It's not over yet," said a beleaguered Coachman. "You may have won the battle, but you haven't won the war. I still run this show…"

Coachman's words fell on deaf ears, as DX proceeded to threaten him and follow through with their plans to run the Executive Assistant out of the building. For the next hour, DX stalked Coachman through the building, sending him on a wild race through the Divas locker room, to an eventual encounter with the corpulent Big Dick Johnson. Eventually, time ran out on Coachman as he was shown the door and the bottom of a dumpster on his way out of the Landon Arena.

DX and John Cena weren't the only ones to have a great Monday night. Jeff Hardy got a third chance at Johnny Nitro's Intercontinental Championship after his first two opportunities were ruined by outside interference. On this night however, Hardy proved that sometimes, the third time's the charm.

In their first two encounters, the risk-taking Hardy came within seconds of capturing the coveted gold, but both times Melina's interference on behalf of Nitro saved the day. On this night, Hardy again brought his A-Game, and once again Melina tried to interfere on behalf of her charge. This time however, Melina appeared to injure herself in the process, taking herself out of equation and allowing Hardy to capitalize and put Nitro away with a Swanton Bomb for the victory. The win capped an emotional rollercoaster ride for Jeff, who went from sitting at home just a few months ago, recovering from trying events in his personal life, to the newest holder of the prestigious Intercontinental Championship.

In other championship news, the second opening round match of the tournament for the vacant WWE Women's Championship was held on Monday night. The gold was vacated following Trish Stratus' dramatic victory in her final WWE match. Last week, Lita advanced to the second round with a victory over Candice Michelle. This week, she was joined in the second round by Mickie James, who countered Victoria's attempt to steal a victory into a sunset flip for the win. Prior to the match, DX spiced things up by ordering the Divas to compete in lingerie.

The Divas weren't the only ones to wear lingerie on Monday night. The Spirit Squad were informed by DX of a new "dress code" on RAW, which was to be put into effect immediately for Nicky's match with WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter. The dress code turned The Spirit Squad's already controversial male cheerleading uniforms into female cheerleading uniforms, leaving little more than a piece of fabric to cover the enthusiastic grapplers'… "pom-poms." 

The new dress code, combined with further embarrassment and ridicule from DX, provided all the distraction that the Sarge needed to surprise Nicky with a roll-up and pick up a stunning win over the World Tag Team Champion.

Also, in a return match from Unforgiven, Randy Orton proved himself to be RAW's coolest Superstar when he reversed a cross body attempt by Carlito into a pinning combination, grabbing the tights to score another impressive victory.

And, in a warm up for his huge "Loser Leaves RAW" match on next week's RAW Family Reunion, Umaga made quick work of Snistky. The Samoan Bulldozer dominated the foot-loving big man to send a message to the Big Red Machine.

Next week, RAW will celebrate its family reunion in grand fashion with a special three-hour program starting at 8 p.m. ET, and only on USA. 

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