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December 3, 2001

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  An opening note:  we launched this whole whoop-de-doo on Saturday, with the goal being to have all the kinks worked out by the time people actually started showing up on Monday.  But we all know I'm not infallible.  PLEASE, drop me an e-mail if you spot something broken or out of place.

-  RAW comes our way tonight, for the third time since the "creative shake-up" that has brought us such goodness as Ric Flair and such stupidity as the "Kiss My Ass Club."  It'll also be the last time for RAW before this Sunday's Vengeance PPV.

After last night's Heat, it looks like there's a pretty solid 8-match card in the works, with the majority of the emphasis remaining (rightfully so) on the trio of title unification matches:  The Rock vs. Chris Jericho (World Title) and Steve Austin vs. Kurt Angle (WWF Title), with the winners also facing each other later in the night.

Rock and Austin have both openly stated in the last week that if the higher-ups wanted a title unification, they should have just signed Rock vs. Austin and let it be.  Instead, these "qualifying matches" include cronies of Vince McMahon's.  Austin has gotten the worse of the deal, usually not facing just Angle, but Vince's entire phalanx of "family members" including William Regal, Test, Christian, and the Dudleys.

Vince's business partner, Ric Flair, has tried to even things out when he can, but I'd bet that you can look for further iterations of Rock and Austin against members of Vince's coalition on tonight's show; it's a nice safe way to keep up the hostilities without giving away the PPV match-ups.

The freshly heel-turned Undertaker has one week to jump-start a mini-feud with Rob Van Dam; Taker's post-match attack on RVD last week underscored the fact that the big man wants respect, without any of the surreal silliness resulting from the presence of Mr. McMahon's bare ass (which kind of tainted his RAW turn on Jim Ross).  Hopefully we can get more quality heelishness out of Taker setting up this hardcore match against RVD.

Another relatively fresh match will pit Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy; though the split's been brewing for months, it was only last Thursday when it finally came down to a challenge for a one-on-one match.  I believe the brothers were "forced" to fight on a RAW or SmackDown a couple years ago, but that was a throw-away deal.  On Sunday, it'll be with a PPV spotlight and a full storyline (the old "Older brother turns into an asshole and younger brother has to rebel against him" storyline, which is in direct violation of the more commonly used "Younger brother becomes jealous of older brother and breaks up the team with his dickishness" archetype).  I wouldn't be surprised if they somehow shifted a title (the Euro seems likeliest) onto either Jeff or Matt in time for the PPV.

Also confirmed for the PPV, and thus, confirmed for confrontations at some point tonight:  Big Show and Kane are taking on the Dudleys with the tag titles on the line...  Edge is defending the IC Title against William Regal...  and Trish Stratus is putting the women's title on the line against Jackie.

As the Fed grapples with this new creative direction, here's hoping they find the mix of sports and entertainment that was spot-on two weeks ago, but which was way out of kilter seven days ago...  check the show out tonight, and then come on back to OO on Tuesday for CRZ's recap!

-  The biggest news over the weekend is that plans to split the WWF into two warring promotions are going full-speed-ahead, with a target date in January.

Many sources, including the PWTorch.com website, have pinpointed January 7's RAW as the day the split will take place, though for whatever it's worth, I keep hearing that it won't be till immediately after the Royal Rumble that things revert to a "two company" style.

Perhaps the differing news is simply a matter of interpretation:  maybe Jan. 7 is when the storyline of the split will be introduced, though it won't be fully implemented till later in the month?  If they intend to follow through with a televised "draft" to stock the rosters of each company, certainly a few weeks build up would be a good idea...

Here's what else we know:  presently, there word is that they do not intend to make use of the WCW name/logo to brand the second promotion.  The Fed got burned earlier this year when they failed to take into account the damage done in the last two years to the value of the WCW name, and I guess they don't want to repeat that.  Instead, both promotions will be presented as WWF products, but somehow at war with each other due to the unique Flair/McMahon management structure.  [Think "WWF Alliance" vs. "WWF Original Recipe," I guess...]

However, when the splinter promotion gets control over SmackDown!, word is that it will be re-titled "Nitro," while RAW will remain the McMahon half's flagship show.  I don't see the wisdom in renaming the Thursday show "Nitro," especially if you're not going to use the WCW brand name, but hey, this is what people are saying is gonna happen.

Under this scenario, you'd have all current WWF guys, plus the former Alliance members who've been off TV for two weeks, eligible for the draft.  Wild cards like guys who have been injured (like Triple H and Chris Benoit) or who are sitting out Time Warner contracts (like Scott Steiner and Kevin Nash) would really add a sense of drama to the draft, too...  do you burn a high draft pick on a dodgy proposition?  But can you afford to let someone the quality of a Benoit slip through the cracks to be picked up by the opposition in the 20-something-ith round?  Could be cool.  And what happens is a draftee doesn't want to sign with his team?  There's no training camp for him to miss while he sits out, but I think this could develop into another interesting subplot. 

Once two distinct roster are in place, they would not interact with each other, at least, not outside of a major PPV environment; WWFE has voiced the opinion that this will make BOTH the Monday and Thursday shows "must-see" items for fans, since they'll only see half the roster on each program, rather than contiguous storytelling that presently makes it easy to watch one and then skip the other.

Eventually, the goal is for each promotion to run its own PPVs, too, which would further limit the interaction to a once- or twice-a-year sort of deal.  At this point, the Rock and Steve Austin are the obvious one/two "franchise player" picks, but beyond that, speculation becomes even more pointless than usual.

In any case, keep your eyes peeled in the new year...  it looks like things are gonna get real interesting, real fast.

-  To update a couple of those names I mentioned a paragraph or three ago:  as noted on The Ticker over the weekend, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall are no longer the "no brainer" locks to appear in the WWF in the new year that they were just a month or so ago.  

Although Hall is already free and clear to sign, and Nash will be in four weeks time, the duo are widely expected to be a "package deal."  I certainly see the synergistic value of bringing them in together, at any rate...  but they are looking for a relaxed work schedule (I gather it amounts to one weekend off per month, which I believe is a deal that only the Undertaker presently has), and the WWF is hesitant to grant that.  It's possible that the gap between what Nash/Hall want and what the Fed will offer is even wider than that, but this is the last I heard.  

In any case, talks have cooled, though there's certainly nothing here to suspect that they couldn't restart at any time.  

-  Scott Steiner thus becomes the top potential free agent pick up for the WWF and its soon-to-be-created sister promotion.  Steiner got into a ring in front of a paying audience for the first time since last March over the weekend, as part of the UK WWA tour.

He was "protected" by being placed in a three-way-dance environment against Jeff Jarrett and the Road Dogg.  He did not have to over-extend himself, though one fan who saw the match in Birmingham though it was overly obvious that they were trying to limit Steiner's involvement, and it was to the detriment of the match.

Steiner didn't figure in the finish of the match, either, having been written out mid-way through:  he brawled to the backstage area with "Grand Master Sexay" Brian Christopher, and was not seen from again.

-  And then there's Triple H, whose presence in all the advertising for Vengeance had everybody assuming he'd appear on TV at that PPV event at the very latest.

Per a warning from Jim Ross last week, it's looking more and more like HHH really is set for a January return.  He wouldn't be needed back until the draft, anyway, so why rush things?  Timing will be everything with this return, since HHH can go a lot of ways with his character:  the Steph factor and the way Austin (currently a babyface) ran him down after his injury would make going heel very easy.  But the way the injury was put over on TV and the fact that returning stars ALWAYS get a babyface pop could make this HHH's first chance to headline shows as a hero.

No reason to rush this and fumble the opportunity to plug HHH right back into the main event mix...

-  Speaking of JR, just the usual slate of injury reports this past Friday in his WWF.com column...  Edge, Stacey Keibler, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Test are this week's inductees into the "injured, but working through the pain" club...  Randy Orton's shoulder injury has been downgraded to a separation, and he'll only miss a few weeks...  Mike Awesome will miss 4-6 months after ACL surgery...  William Regal will need mild surgery for his constantly bloodied nose, and will miss 3 weeks whenever he decides to go through with it...  Shawn Stasiak will have his bursa sac removed and miss 4-6 weeks...  X-Pac is rehabbing his neck and will be back in a few weeks, too.

-  The WWF is looking into revamping its taping schedule for the end of December, when both the Christmas and New Year's holidays fall on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Instead of trying to draw crowds for live RAWs on X-Mas and NY Eves and for SD tapings on X-Mas and NY Days, the Fed is shifting tapings to off-peak days.

Christmas week shows (RAW 12/24, and SD 12/27) will be taped on Friday/Saturday (12/21-22)...  it is unclear at this point when the New Year's Eve edition of RAW will take place (or whether it may be pre-empted or turned into a live special promotion for TNN or something like that), but the SmackDown! that would normally have been taped on Jan. 1 will now be live on UPN on January 3.  

-  A quick plea:  if you're attending Tuesday's SmackDown tapings, please send along a report...  I don't want to just automatically assume that one of the millions and millions will take care of it like in the WrestleLine days, so I'm on my knees, asking nicely!

-  And finally:  some confusion over my plea for donations...  no, you don't send it via the US mail.  You just CLICK HERE, and do it all through Amazon.com's Honor System.  If you really don't like doing credit card transactions, then I do have a PO Box listed on my Contact Page (though I figured that was more for people who wanted to pass along clippings, or indie wrestling tapes that need plugging, or shit like that).  Trust me, every little bit helps, and I appreciate whatever you can do to help ensure the future of OO.com.

In the meantime, I'll be updating The Ticker constantly, be publishing new columns by other writers as they get sent to me, and I'll be back with another one of these OO columns on Wednesday.  Till then...


Rick Scaia is a wrestling fan from Dayton, OH.  He's been doing this since 1995, but enjoyed it best when the suckers from SportsLine were actually PAYING him to be a fan.

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