Triple H: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect
April 19, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Babyface wrestlers emerge on ”RAW Is WAR”

Monday’s ”RAW Is WAR,” broadcast live from the University of Tennessee, had two missions: the solidification of Triple H and ”Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s unholy alliance; and the establishment of babyface rivals who can stand up to their awesome brutality. In the end, it was as thrillingly successful at the former as it was woefully lame at the latter.

Though still all but unexplained, Austin’s heel turn at Wrestlemania 17 and subsequent hookup with HHH created an instant classic in the history of wrestling baddies. But the linking of wrestling’s two most seasoned superstars came at a price: Austin’s WM17 defeat of the Rock (who has since been ”suspended” so that he can film ”The Scorpion King,” a sequel to ”The Mummy Returns.”) eliminated the only guy on the roster with the marquee power to compete with them.

To address the babyface vacuum, the last two weeks have seen the elevation of Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho, the Undertaker and Kane, and the Hardy Boyz, none of who are quite cutting the mustard. Benoit and Jericho, while consummate technicians in the ring, still have the look and feel of mid carders, not main eventers. Though they’re a scary looking treat for the kids in the audience, Undertaker and Kane are big, gawky, and, well, old hat. The Hardys — whose push has come via Jeff’s two awesome Intercontinental title bouts with HHH, last night and on last week’s ”Smackdown!” — have certainly got the high flying chops to make any match worth watching, but next to Stone Cold and ”The Game” they seem like ballsy upstarts rather than intimidating contemporaries.

With a mere two weeks to go until Backlash, the next pay per view event (airing April 29), the WWF needs a couple of heroes — and fast. So, who do you think they’ll be?

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