One wild night
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- History will forever remember the extraordinary events that transpired on Raw Monday night, including the first-ever tri-branded WWE Draft and Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night.
The special three-hour Raw showcased unbelievable tri-branded ring action featuring Superstars from Raw, SmackDown and ECW. Winners of each match would determine which brand would earn the next random selection in WWE's lottery-based Draft. The picks themselves drew a plethora of emotions from all three brand locker rooms — and in one case, Extreme controversy. For the implications resulting from the WWE Draft selections, read the full story…
SmackDown would draw first interpromotional blood inside the sold-out Wachovia Arena, thanks to the brand's World Heavyweight Champion Edge. No titles were on the line as the Rated-R Superstar faced off against longtime Raw rival, WWE Champion John Cena. But that wouldn't stop the Ultimate Opportunist from breaking up an attempted FU onto the announcers' table, then capitalizing on an opening that gave him the count-out victory. That said, Cena can take comfort in the fact that by losing the match, he also lost the gigantic threat to his WWE Title in recent months. Edge, meanwhile, looked understandably concerned as SmackDown's first random Draft pick was introduced to our fans: the Indian colossus, The Great Khali.
Some may debate whether or not ECW truly reaped the Draft benefits following the next contest, in which CM Punk picked up the pinfall over Carlito. The Straightedge Superstar may have given the Go to Sleep to cover Raw's rotten apple, but he and ECW's other Superstars better have Extreme stomachs for the brand's newest member — the clock-bashing, worm-eating freak called Boogeyman.
Raw quickly picked up a two-for-one deal in the WWE Draft moments after Umaga Samoan-Bulldozed his way to victory past ECW's Balls Mahoney. Though Mahoney's efforts were valiant, Umaga's savagery — and a powerful Samoan Spike to the throat — proved too much to overcome. As a result, royalty now becomes Raw, which for the long foreseeable future will hail King Booker & Queen Sharmell.
ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley would counter numerous submission maneuvers to emerge triumphant in a hotly-contested interpromotional match against SmackDown's Chris Benoit. But earning his brand the WWE Draft's next lottery-based pick would produce one of the evening's more ironic outcomes, as none other than the Rabid Wolverine was selected. Both men shook hands out of respect before exiting the ring, though Benoit made it immediately known that when he enters the Land of the Extreme this Tuesday night on ECW on Sci Fi (10/9 CT), he will begin a quest to capture the ECW World Title.
Raw newcomer and Intercontinental Champion Santino Marella gained immeasurable ring experience by going up against "ballin'" United States Champion Montel Vontavious Porter. Unfortunately for Marella, despite continuing to win over our fans and further demonstrate his vastly improving mat skills, it was MVP who'd deliver the decisive Playmaker, and prove once more why he deserves consideration as SmackDown's "Franchise Playa." And that's exactly where he'll remain for now; his non-title win earned a second Draft pick for SmackDown, which will now have beautiful WWE Diva Torrie Wilson spicing up Friday nights on The CW Network (8/7 CT).
It seemed certain that ECW would garner a third WWE Draft pick after the maniacal Snitsky all but obliterated poor Mike "The Miz" Mizanin. Unfortunately, Snitsky's vicious instincts got the better of him; his post-match beatdown on the SmackDown Superstar was so relentless that officials had no choice but to reverse the decision and award The Miz with the victory. As a result, SmackDown drew Chris Masters as its third selection for the night, and he may be a veritable "Masterpiece" in progress; he's a sure-fire cinch to "Master Lock" any SmackDown Superstar who stands in his way on his climb to the top.
By adding to her already remarkable win streak of late, Candice Michelle would also hand Raw the evening's most impactful — and most certainly controversial — Draft pick. Moments after the Diva covered SmackDown's Kristal for the three-count, our fans everywhere were shocked by the Raw brand's randomly selected Draft pick: ECW World Champion Bobby Lashley! But within moments of coming out to the Raw stage and acknowledging the sold-out crowd, Raw Executive Assistant Jonathan Coachman also walked out with some news of his own: Lashley would make the switch to his new promotion without the ECW gold. Acting on orders from Mr. McMahon himself, Coachman officially stripped Lashley of the ECW World Title, just eight days after he won it back from Mr. McMahon in a brutal Street Fight at One Night Stand.
Though the pain etched on his face was more than apparent, Lashley relinquished his most valued possession…but not without grabbing the microphone and giving Coachman a stern message: "You stripped the ECW Title from me, but I'm still a champion…. On Raw, I'm gonna prove it."
Batista seemed to have something of his own to prove in a Triple Threat Match against Raw's Jeff Hardy and ECW's Elijah Burke. Unleashing an Animal rage borne from the recent frustrations caused by World Heavyweight Champion Edge, the powerhouse Superstar earned SmackDown's fourth Draft selection after planting Burke to the canvas with a thunderous Batista Bomb. As for the pick itself, no one was more elated than The Animal to see his one-time Evolution colleague — the "Nature Boy," Ric Flair.
All three brands would participate in the final match of the night, a 15-Man Battle Royal to determine which brand would gain the WWE Draft's final two selections. Randy Orton would ultimately oust SmackDown's Matt Hardy over the top rope to claim victory for Raw, resulting in two senses-shattering Draft picks that got the Wachovia Arena crowd on its feet: ECW's psychotic Snitsky and SmackDown's loudmouth Superstar, Mr. Kennedy.
Tragically, however, tonight was about far more than the WWE Draft. At first, everyone believed that meant "Mr. McMahon Appreciation Night," which was "celebrated" the entire evening with decidely marked comments from WWE Hall of Famers (former Minnesota Governor Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, The Iron Sheik, Bret "Hit Man" Hart, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Capt. Lou Albano, Dusty Rhodes and "Mean" Gene Okerlund), WWE Legends ("Stone Cold" Steve Austin and Mick Foley, the latter of whom also threw his hat in the WWE Championship Challenge Match at Vengeance: Night of Champions) and A-list celebrities (rap legend Snoop Dogg, Jackass' Steve-O, billionaire battler Donald Trump, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and sportscaster/talk show host Bob Costas).
Also making an appearance on the TitanTron was ousted Diva Ashley, whom the WWE Chairman had indefinitely suspended for accidentally spilling coffee on him at SmackDown last week. Recalling how Mr. McMahon once forced retired Diva Trish Stratus to bark like a dog on all fours in her underwear, Ashley decided to show her appreciation for the boss—by re-enacting a similar moment through the Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young, much to the dismay of the entire Raw audience. To hear Ashley and others speak out on Mr. McMahon, watch the videos…