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THE BROAD PERSPECTIVE
RAW's Multifaceted Love Rhombus
October 24, 2003

by Erin Anderson
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

I ordinarily choose a Smackdown!-related topic to rant about, but if I did this week, that's exactly what it would be: a rant. Smackdown! has been leaving a bad taste in my mouth for over a month now because of the intensive McMahon involvement, and I would much rather write on a more positive note.

What better place to look for material than this week's RAW? An outstanding show from top-to-bottom, and several possibilities to choose from: Lance Storm, the Survivor Series five-on-five match, Batista's return to Evolution, Kane's ability to cut a good promo, and the face/heel status of Shawn Michaels after facing Goldberg. But oddly enough, what stood out for me the most was a seemingly minor backstage skit: the conversation between Trish Stratus and Chris Jericho.

That skit marks the first time I have ever watched wrestling and thought, "Aww, that's so cute." "Cute" and "WWE" simply don't coincide, but on Monday, they somehow did. And here's the most amazing thing about it: it actually worked. Perhaps it worked because Jericho and Trish both played their "awkward teenager at a school dance" parts so perfectly. Perhaps it worked because it was something not normally seen on WWE television; it was refreshing. Either way, it came off extremely well.

To make things even better, we saw Christian make the save for Lita not fifteen minutes later in the show, in the same way Jericho bailed out Trish last week. Before that, there were two possible directions for Jericho:

1. He was being insincere with Trish backstage, and will eventually come out of the angle an even bigger heel.

2. He really meant what he said, and is possibly heading for a face turn by involving himself with Trish.

After Christian threw himself into the mix, those possibilities multiplied nearly ten-fold. The creative team will oftentimes paint itself into a storytelling corner with certain angles, but this definitely is not one of them. In leaving everything open-ended, they have created something that is not only interesting to watch, but unpredictable as well. The outcome of Trish-Jericho and Lita-Christian is completely up in the air, but the process of getting there should be compelling and entertaining.

THAT's good TV.

Part of the fun of it all is playing fantasy booker, and in this case, most of the theories being thrown around can plausibly come to fruition. I'd like to examine several of these here, and the impact it would have on the wrestlers involved and RAW as a whole. There seem to be three possible setups, and several follow-ups for each one:

1. Jericho and Christian are trying to show up Stone Cold while also attempting to get into the divas' pants.

It makes plenty of sense: Christian is fitting too well into his heel persona to truly be interested in Lita, as evidenced by his self-satisfied smile after saving her this Monday. Jericho had a very similar look on his face after bailing out Trish, and could very well have been bullshitting Trish when he spoke to her backstage the next week.

It's been foreshadowed as well, in small, throwaway backstage bits in the last month: once with Christian giving a cocky smile-and-nod to the divas while walking backstage before his ladder match with Rob Van Dam (and in a major production goof, being told to do it again by an off-camera voice), and again when he and Y2J leered at the duo of divas as they headed out for a tag match.

It could be (in an idea copyrighted by Kyle Maxwell) a bet between the two men to see who could score first. Whether or not Lita and Trish fall for it is another story altogether: they've both established themselves as strong women who take no shit, so the odds of Jericho or Christian actually collecting on such bet are slim. Considering the dearth of face divas on the roster, turning Lita or Trish and pairing them off with their respective men is also unlikely. But if a bet really is in place, then the heat for J&C when the divas and the audience catch wind of it would be tremendous. But why go through such an elaborate scheme to put heat on two already very over heels?

They could both be just acting of their own accord: Jericho puts the moves on Trish, and Christian decided it was a good idea and decided to try it himself. In any case, it would reinforce the dastardly characters of both men, and give the divas a high-profile angle that for once doesn't include the women's title. Everyone involved wins here.

2. Both Jericho and Christian are genuine in their interest for Trish and Lita .

Of all the scenarios, this one seems the least likely. If Jericho and Christian constantly come to the aid of Trish and Lita and end up in relationships, they turn babyface by default. Two men whose mission in life is to get Austin fired as co-GM can't be in that position; even if pushed as faces, they'd most likely get booed out of the building.

Even if it does happen, turning two of the strongest mid-card heels face by teaming them up with the most over divas on the roster would be a bit much for the fans to stomach. Sappiness and romance has very little place in wrestling, and can only be taken in small doses. In addition, it would make most of the major players on the IC title scene (RVD, Lance Storm, Christian, Jericho, and Booker T) babyfaces. Only two heels could be thrown into the mix: Randy Orton and Scott Steiner. Even then, Steiner's presence wouldn't fit well with a group of agile, workrate-intensive wrestlers; it would be something akin to throwing the Big Show into the famed Smackdown! Six last fall.

While possible, a face turn for both members of Vitamin C would not be very well-received by the fans, especially with the shadow of Steve Austin looming over RAW.

3. Jericho truly does have a crush on Trish, while Christian was merely being heelish.

This scenario is one that I feel is most likely. Last week, Jericho's motive for helping Trish was clear: it was more ammunition for his psychological warfare against Austin. This week, we saw things a little differently when Chris dropped his cocky persona while he spoke to Trish, and seemed genuinely smitten with her.

Could he have just been acting to get on her good side? Absolutely. Those were my initial thoughts, but his I've-got-a-crush smile when Trish walked off wasn't consistent with a devious heel: a smirk would have been far more appropriate for the situation. Christian, oblivious to Jericho's crush, would simply have been trying to follow Y2J's lead by saving Lita later in the night.

Jericho couldn't remain a heel for very long if a relationship with Trish is in the cards, and a "No, you idiot, I actually like Trish!" feud with Christian over the miscommunication would logically follow. The build-up for the situation would be slow over the next month, and possibly come to a head with a Jericho becoming a full-fledged face at Survivor Series. The upcoming pay-per-view would mark the two-year anniversary of his heel turn, so it would be rather poetic for his face turn to take place there.

It is very possible, as Christian and Jericho have had a few spats in the past few months, and we've seen teases of a Y2J face turn in that same time frame. The seeds were also planted with Jericho's backstage squabble with Scott Steiner, one of his teammates in his Survivor Series match, and Christian is a likely candidate to join them.

But where does Austin fit into all of this? Why, and how could Jericho turn on his own team if it means allowing Austin's side to win?

It is simple: Jericho does not have to side with Austin, and Austin's team does not have to win the match. Jericho can still turn face even if Austin's team loses, and eliminating Austin from RAW for even a brief period of time would side-step his issues with Jericho and allow him time to establish himself as a strong, top-level babyface. The only other main-event face on RAW who wrestles every week is Goldberg, and with Evolution gaining strength, it would help to even up the sides a bit.

Even if Austin's team does emerge from Survivor Series victorious, a Jericho face turn can still happen. When he turned heel two years ago, it wasn't because he wanted the Alliance to take over the company: it was because he attacked a specific wrestler on the then-WWF side, the Rock. For the months leading in, Jericho managed to remain a face while feuding with the Rock, the most popular man in the company. If he could do it then, than he can do it now while at odds with Austin. A face turn could occur at the expense of Steiner, Christian, any other member of Bischoff's team, or even Bischoff himself.

But no matter how this angle ends up, the strength of the performers involved and the unpredictability of it should make it a pleasure to watch. Whether you like romances in wrestling or not, whether you like Jericho and Christian as faces or heels, and whether you want Austin to remain co-GM or not, it will be a hell of a lot of fun watching these interlocking stories unfold every Monday night. Enjoy the ride.
  

E-MAIL ERIN
BROWSE THE BROAD'S ARCHIVES

Erin Anderson is an Atlanta native and a student at Georgia State University. Since writing about wrestling didn't go over too well with her English professors, she vents here at Online Onslaught.


  
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