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RAW, Hogan, Rumble PPV, and
Some Holiday Cheer!
December 24, 2001

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  To those of you celebrating Christmas, I hope these next few days find you happy and healthy... and certainly to those who celebrated (or who will be celebrating) other holidays, you have my best as well.

Since X-Mas is the holiday of choice here at OO, I regretfully have to inform you that updates will be spotty the next few days.  I've got a big batch of stuff going up on early Monday morning (the latest Timeline is especially exceptional reading!) that will hopefully tide you over.  I don't know what my columnists' schedules are, but with all tapings out of the way and little news expected to break while the WWF is essentially on break for the next two weeks, I myself will probably not be meeting the usual M/W/F schedule.

I will certainly post all incoming columns for other writers, however, and will do my best to keep the Ticker updated, too.  I'll also be traveling out of town this coming weekend, and then again for New Year's Eve, so don't expect things totally back to normal until about January 2.

I look at it this way:  if I can come up with better stuff to do than sit here writing stuff for you to read, then certainly YOU should be able to come up with something better to do than sit here reading it!

-  Doing a "RAW Preview" in the usual sense of how I do it is even more ridiculous than it is on a regular week.  That's because the WWF has taped tonight's X-Mas Eve edition already, and those of us who had to publish the spoilers (or who read them) already know what's gonna happen.

You can read those spoilers by clicking right here.

Suffice to say that a quick "spoiler-free" preview would go something like this:  the RAW main event will pit Undisputed Champ Chris Jericho against the Rock, while most of the other major happenings on the night will spin off of the dueling Christmas parties being hosted by Vince McMahon (for the heels) and Ric Flair (for the babyfaces).

It sounded like an interesting enough show from the tapings results, certainly worth your time if you haven't got friends and family making demands on your time later tonight.

If you can't catch the show on TNN tonight, however, I do believe we'll be able to get you caught up to speed by Wednesday here at OO.

-  The WWF also taped SmackDown! for this coming week.  A show highlight saw (one half of?) the main event announced for the Royal Rumble PPV, but I shan't say more, in case you're ultra-hardcore about your spoiler protection.

The rest of you, just click here for full results of Thursday's show.

-  Hulk Hogan was on ESPN's "Unscripted" last week...  nothing too earth-shattering was covered, but the overall tone of the interview was pro-WWF and pro-Vince McMahon.  

For all that was made of their falling out, it certainly sounded like Hogan was back on the same page as Vince and that he'd welcome a return to the WWF.  

No mention was made of the XWF or the Legends of Wrestling videogame that Hogan has been attached to in the last month.  More play was given to Hogan's (virtually non-existent) Hollywood career than to those more recent efforts.

-  A couple readers mailed in to say there was another wrestling-personality-making-an-unexpected-cable-appearance sighting late last week...  they spotted Tony "Ahmed Johnson" Norris in the Made-for-VH1 movie "The MC Hammer Story." 

Norris played Suge Knight (of Deathrow Records fame), I gather.

-  Though there is certainly no guarantee that Ted Turner's recent return to a position of power in the TBS/TNT hierarchy will automatically result in the return of wrestling to the networks, it is no exaggeration to say that Turner is a fan of the genre, and that his return should be a boon to the hopes of anyone wanting a bona fide second national wrestling company to gain a foothold on a major cable network.

To do more than hope at this point, however, would be foolish.

-  Triple H's return to WWF TV on January 7's RAW will be preceeded by an appearance on Regis and Not Kathie Lee that same morning.  You should, as the saying goes, check your local listings for time and channel.

-  The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.8, which was actually up two tenths of a point from the previous week (even though the two shows scored similar overnight numbers).

For the second week in a row, a number of readers in major markets (including Houston) mailed in to say that depressed SD! ratings could be due to pre-emptions in their cities.  So take that into account, I guess.

-  By the way, I did not get to comment at all on SmackDown!, since I didn't do a column on Friday, but I have got to step back a few days in time and give a HUGE thumbs up to William Regal's promo.  It COULD be the start of something big;  Regal really delivered the goods with an intense, believable interview.  It's now up to the WWF to decide whether to follow up on it, or if it's back to curtain jerking for Willie.

Here's hoping for the former.

-  Also of note from SD!...  the Undertaker/Matt Hardy angle was cool.  However, I grant that I'm probably saying that just because it made me flash back to my marking out for the Ricky Steamboat/Randy Savage throat-crushing of 1986.  Last night on Heat, they even went out of the way to say that it was Matt's larynx that was injured...  oh, to think it's been 15 years since we've heard the word "larynx" on big time TV wrestling!

I did dig the Taker's new chair-assisted move, too.  I think he's got himself a "go to" gimmick move that could easily surpass the conchairto in the near future.  If the move does, indeed, re-appear, I hereby nominate that we begin calling it The Dragonizer, in honor of larynxes crushed past.  Also because it sort of sounds like a cool device that the Bearded Spock would have used on the original Star Trek series.

Hey, at least I didn't move to call it The Dragony Booth!!!

-  As alluded to above, the current thinking is that the WWF will run two "main event" singles matches, as well as tossing the majority of the top-line players into the Rumble match itself to create a three-headed hype machine for the Royal Rumble PPV.

The two projected matches are Rob Van Dam vs. Chris Jericho (Undisputed Title Match) and Vince McMahon vs. Ric Flair.  One of those matches was confirmed by this weekend's TV tapings, though in the interest of non-spoiler-osity, I will not reveal which one.

Under this scenario, you'd have a super-stacked Rumble match roster, with Austin, the Rock, Angle, Triple H, and Undertaker all participating.  Throw in a couple other undercard matches (Trish vs. Jazz, and maybe a tag title match?) and you've got a full slate, especially if the Fed does the right thing and retains the 2 minute break between Rumble entrants.

-  I know somewhere out there on the WWW, this idea has probably been hashed and rehashed to no end...  but it really looks like the Fed is trying to lay the foundation for a possible Canadian alliance of some kind.  Test helps Lance Storm, Jericho helps Christian, Christian's teaming with Test...  all that Canuck in-breeding can't be by accident, can it?

Maybe it's just co-incidence.  Or maybe not.  But I do think such a group could work.  You don't even have to play the "patriotism" card as much as was done back in the Harts vs. USA feud of 1997.  They might bond together as a group cuz they're all Canadians, but that wouldn't have to be the reason we hate them. 

-  Last week, I tried to drag up the old debate about what's OK and what's not OK in terms of telling a story in wrestling...  hit the OO Archives and read last Wednesday's column (which covered my misgivings about RAW) and then the Redux column (originally from September) for a full spectrum of half-assed thoughts on the subject.  

Unfortunately, with the holidays falling as they do, this won't be the time or place to do a more definitive rendition of those opinions.  In thinking about it some, the most succinct way I can encapsulate my thoughts is this:  the more like a sporting event a wrestling show feels, the more comfortable I'll be.  Not in terms of trying to sell it as a totally legit competition, mind you, but in terms of camera placement, what we see, and the like.  Maybe that doesn't work for everybody, and maybe that's just another half-baked attempt to get to the bottom of a more complex issue...

But for now, it'll have to do.  Keep sending me your thoughts on the subject, and maybe we can revive it after the New Year (when I'll also have the message boards and chat room up and running!).

-  On that note, I'm gonna check out.  Again, Happy Holidays to you and yours!  

Keep on checking back here when you can, as I'll do my best to keep you hooked up with the USDA's Minimum Recommended Allowance for wrestling coverage over the next week, before getting back up to 100% after the New Year.



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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