A Stunning Homecoming
The first ever RAW aired on the USA Network in 1993, and for the first time in five years, RAW was going back home to where it all started. Mr. McMahon and RAW General Manager Eric Bischoff promised a WWE Homecoming for the ages, and that's exactly what was delivered.
In addition to RAW's greatest talents being on display for the world to see, Mr. McMahon also allowed Friday Night SmackDown to have representation on the big extravaganza. SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long set up a huge six-man tag match pitting World Heavyweight Champion Batista, United States Champion Chris Benoit & Rey Mysterio against Eddie Guerrero, JBL & Christian. Before the match really got going, however, Bischoff came out and stopped the match. Since Mr. McMahon had left the show already due some ill-effects from a Stone Cold Stunner, Bischoff was back in charge and not only stopped the SmackDown match, but also made his WWE Championship match against John Cena a No Disqualification Match.
Bischoff thought he had everything going for him. He had once again stacked the deck against John Cena and even had Kurt Angle in his corner for help. Every time Cena looked to have things under control, Angle would interfere. But when an errant swing of the chair caused the chair to bounce back into his own face, Angle was out of commission. With the match being back to a one-on-one contest, Cena was able to hit the FU and pin Bischoff to retain the WWE Championship.
Following the match, though, Long came back out and said that since Bischoff stuck his nose in SmackDown's business, he was going to come back at him "gangsta style." With that, all of the SmackDown Superstars on hand stormed the ring and attacked Cena and Angle. Within moments, the RAW locker room also emptied out as the likes of Shelton Benjamin, Viscera, Big Show and several others evened up the odds. RAW went off the air with the Superstars of SmackDown and RAW going at it tooth and nail in a pier six brawl.
Bischoff was able to change his match to a No DQ Match because Mr. McMahon had already left for the evening. McMahon came out earlier in the show and relived one of his favorite RAW moments -- pinning Stone Cold Steve Austin. Before McMahon could share anymore of his fond memories, Stone Cold came out himself and showed the Dallas fans some memories of his own including pummeling McMahon in a hospital and dousing him with beer from a beer truck hose. Mr. McMahon offered to start over on WWE Homecoming with a clean slate, but Stone Cold's answer came with one of his patented Stone Cold Stunners. Shane McMahon then came out to defend his father, but without even saying a word, the Texas Rattlesnake greeted him with a Stunner as well. Then it was the Billion Dollar Princess' turn as Stephanie came out and gave Stone Cold a tongue-lashing. Stone Cold mistook her words for affection and thought she was flirting with him -- until she slapped him that is. The vicious slap earned her a Stunner as well, prompting WWE CEO Linda McMahon to come to the ring. She asked Stone Cold to apologize for the chaos he had caused, and Austin uncharacteristically did just that. Austin then said that it was time to give the fans a RAW moment they'd never forget. After teasing a kiss with the CEO, Austin said it was time to drink some beers. Just before Austin was ready to leave, however, he completed the McMahon sweep and Stunned Linda as well. Stone Cold had wreaked havoc on the McMahons once again.
WWE Homecoming also marked the return of Triple H. The Game had not been in a WWE ring since Vengeance, but he was back on RAW, teaming with Intercontinental Champion Ric Flair to take on Chris Masters & Carlito. Triple H looked like he had never left, showing no signs of ring-rust whatsoever. After delivering spinebusters to both Carlito and Masters, he went for his trusty sledgehammer. Masters was able to wind up with the sledgehammer, though, and looked primed to give Triple H a taste of his own medicine. As Triple H had Carlito locked in for the Pedigree, Masters raised the sledgehammer above his head, ready to break up the move, but Ric Flair flew in and chop blocked Masters in the nick of time. Triple H hit the Pedigree for the win.
But the action didn't stop there. After the match Triple H and Flair raised each other's arms in victory, but Triple H inexplicable leveled his supposed best friend with the sledgehammer. Triple H then beat a busted-open Flair from pillar to post. He dragged Flair up the ramp and backstage, pounding on him every step of the way asking the question, "What were you thinking?" Only Triple H knows what he meant by that question. Will we find out next week on RAW?
While WWE Homecoming marked the return of Triple H, it also marked the last night on RAW for Matt Hardy. Hardy faced Edge in a Loser Leaves RAW, Money in the Bank Ladder Match, and Edge proved why he is Mr. Money in the Bank. Hardy had everything going his way. Edge was knocked out on the outside, and Hardy was atop the ladder, but Lita came back to haunt once again. Just as she had done earlier in the match, she caught Matt as he was scaling the ladder. Matt was grabbing onto the briefcase, but Lita knocked the ladder out from under him. With Matt suspended above the ring by just the briefcase, Edge came back in and tore him down, with Hardy landing on the ropes. Edge then trapped Hardy in the ring ropes, and Lita wrapped herself around him, ensuring he could not escape. With Hardy trapped, Edge easily made it to the top of the ladder and claimed his briefcase for the win, and Hardy was escorted out of the building and off of RAW for the last time.
The first match of the evening was an instant classic as Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels squared off in a 30-minute WWE Iron Man Match. Angle won their initial encounter at WrestleMania 21, but HBK came back to win at Vengeance, so this was the rubber match. HBK went to the top rope for a high-risk maneuver and it backfired as Angle leapt up and hit the Angle Slam for the first fall with 21:40 left to go. Angle then went to a ground attack to wear HBK down and keep the clock ticking. Angle hooked in his Ankle lock with about 15 minutes to go, but Michaels was able to counter it into a rollup for the second fall, evening the match at one fall apiece. Angle went right back to the Ankle Lock when he saw an opening, and this time he grapevined it, forcing the Showstopper to tap out with about 11 minutes left to go. Hobbled on one leg, HBK somehow made a comeback and hit the top-rope elbow followed by Sweet Chin Music to even the match at two falls apiece with about 4:45 left. HBK got caught in the Ankle Lock yet again, and this time there was only 1:40 left to go. Angle had it grapevined, but Michaels somehow kicked his way out of it. With Angle's back turned, HBK hit the Sweet Chin Music, but the referee could only count to 1 before time expired. HBK challenged Angle to go into sudden death, but the Olympic Gold Medalist just left. The score has yet to be settled in this rivalry.
What would a WWE Homecoming be without the Immortal Hulk Hogan? The Hulkster kept it short and sweet. When asked by Mean Gene Okerlund what was next for the WWE Hall of Famer, Hogan alluded that he would like his next opponent to be Stone Cold Steve Austin. Was this the Hulkster's way of calling out the Texas Rattlesnake for yet another dream match?
WWE Homecoming opened up with Mick Foley as the guest on Piper's Pit. The Hot Rod is known for asking the tough questions, and as usual, he shot it straight with his guest when he asked Foley point blank when he would be coming back to a WWE ring. Foley said that he'd need a very good reason to come back, and with that SmackDown's Randy Orton, accompanied by his father WWE Hall of Famer Cowboy Bob Orton, came to the ring. Orton was Foley's last opponent but he said his business was with Piper. Orton claimed that Piper owed all of his success to his father and while Piper was getting spots on MTV and movie roles, his father was getting black and blues. Piper and Orton then went at, and Foley and Cowboy Bob separated the two. But then Cowboy Bob followed his son's lead and sucker punched Foley. Randy then gave both Piper and Foley an RKO, adding Piper to his list of legends killed.
Speaking of legends, WWE Homecoming brought more legends together than any other episode in RAW history. Among those in attendance were Dusty Rhodes, Sgt. Slaughter, Arn Anderson, Dean Malenko, Ricky Steamboat, Ted DiBiase, Steve Keirn, Pat Patterson, Tony Garea, Dr. Death Steve Williams, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Koko B. Ware, Greg Valentine, Superstar Billy Graham, Jimmy Hart, Fabulous Moolah, Mae Young, Harley Race, Chief Jay Strongbow, Superfly Jimmy Snuka, Nikolai Volkoff and Dallas' own Kevin Von Erich. When the legends were all gathered in the ring together, Rob Conway rudely interrupted the festivities, saying that it was time for a new generation. Harley Race then delivered a crushing punch, Dusty Rhodes followed it up with the Bionic Elbow and the Dallas crowd went nuts as Von Erich sent Conway to the mat with his trademark claw hold. Superfly Jimmy Snuka then scaled the top rope one more time in his illustrious career and delivered a Superfly splash, whipping the American Airlines Center into a frenzy.
And everyone was a winner in WWE Homecoming's Handicap Bra and Panties Match -- everyone except for Torrie Wilson, Candice & Victoria that is. Ashley and Trish Stratus overcame the numbers disadvantage and stripped Wilson, Candice and Victoria down to their bra and panties in a memorable RAW moment.