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Big RAW, WWA PPV, Taker Injured, and More...
January 7, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  It seems like this happens 3 or 4 times per year...  instead of a typical Monday night, we're all jacked up because THIS ONE is gonna be the Biggest RAW Ever.

Well, maybe not EVER, but you get the idea.  I mean, we're suckers, yeah...  but we ain't stupid.  We're just looking for the kind of show that isn't just entertaining:  it might even be worth keeping around on video for years to come.

In 2001, it happened a few times:  the night the WWF made its purchase of WCW public and did a RAW/Nitro simulcast...  the night ECW returned and joined forces with WCW...  the night Ric Flair and Jerry Lawler both made returns on the same night...  and am I forgetting one or two?  Possibly, but those were the biggies.

And in 2002, the Fed is wasting no time putting the pieces in place to secure an early entry in the "Best RAW of the Year" voting...  Triple H is guaranteed to return to TV tonight.  And for as much of a simple mark out moment that might be for many fans, it's also significant because of the caliber of storylines that become possible with his return.  Is he a heel or a babyface?  Who's his first target?  What about his relationship with wife Stephanie?  These are gonna be big issues that immediately morph HHH's return from fluffery and showboating to genuinely important.

On top of that, you've got a promised main event of Steve Austin and the Rock versus Booker T and Big Bossman.  Actually, it's a sort of lopsided match-up on paper, in the babyfaces' favor...  but the mere prospect of Austin and Rock teaming up is always gonna be good for Nielsens. 

From there, you can enter the realm of rumor and innuendo, and still come up with even more reason why tonight's RAW should be a hair bigger than usual.  For instance, the WWF is embroiled in a Ric Flair vs. Vince McMahon feud that should jump-start the most significant storyline of the early year:  eventually, their feud will lead to the split of the WWF into two distinct "warring" promotions.  So far, no stipulations have been added to their Royal Rumble match, but that could change as soon as tonight.

And what about the Nash Factor?  Kevin Nash is, by all reputable accounts, once again in the employ of the WWF (or will be as soon as some formalities take place today).  If he does, in fact, appear on RAW tonight (or even on another show over the next two weeks), his impact could be almost as significant as HHH's.  Do you do the obvious and slap Nash at the side of Clique-mate HHH?  Or do you try some other means of introducing Nash into the flow of WWF storylines?

Here's one I like:  we saw the seeds of a paranoid Chris Jericho planted on SmackDown! last week.  His Canadian Comrades saw right through his gift-giving, and asked if he was just nervous about the return of Triple H (Jericho was the object of HHH's ire in HHH's last tag match back in May, so they could easily have "unfinished business").  Maybe Jericho is a bit nervous.  Maybe he isn't sure his band of fellow Canucks can take protect him.  So he wants a bodyguard...  one who knows Triple H better than anyone...  one who has protected a egotistical pretty-boy of a champion before....

And his name is "Big Daddy Cool" Kevin Nash.

It's almost too perfect...  it mirrors Nash's original introduction into the Fed (as Shawn Michaels' bodyguard), in a nice nod to history.  It helps balance the heel/face roster, too.  In fact, doing Nash's return this way may be just about the ONLY way to effectively get him over as a heel:  fans are gonna want to cheer him, but if you make him Jericho's willing lackey from the start, he'll lose some of that rebel-without-a-cause charm.  Fans will be able to boo him.

Nash's motivation:  a simple promo talking about how he's watched the Clique's mascot, HHH, become the WWF's top star while he, Nash, has spent a year sitting in the shadows would probably do the trick.  HHH comes back from an injury, and he gets a month's worth of music videos, but nobody's producing any vignettes about "What ever happened to Kevin Nash"...  that sort of jealousy vibe would be effective.  So when Jericho contacted him and offered to pay him outrageously well, he agreed to come back to the WWF to make sure that HHH never, eeeeevvver, gets his hands on the WWF Title again.  He could even go off on a tangent about how he takes credit for the success of Shawn Michaels, and how he'll do the same for Jericho (which could, if the political side of things could be worked out, set the stage for the return of HBK, too).

That's probably how I'd do it...  it's really impactful at the start, but unlike just teaming Nash up with HHH and the Clique, it's not just a one-night-only "Holy Shit" moment.  It's an arrangement that's got legs and could pick up steam over time.  Hell, even if it tanks, there's a ridiculously easy out:  HHH and Nash were in cahoots all along, and Nash was a "double agent" secretly working to screw Jericho over to the benefit of HHH!

But enough of the Fantasy Booking....  there's only a few hours left before we'll find out what the real life WWF is gonna do, so let's just get geared up for that, shall we?  Yeah...

Be sure to check out the show tonight, and make sure to come on back to OO for full coverage and fall out from the show, including CRZ's big recap on Tuesday afternoon.

-  The World Wrestling All-Stars "Inception" PPV debuted over the weekend...  it was taped during the WWA's October tour of Australia, and featured the participation of lots of the bigger name stars who've been MIA since the evaporation of WCW.

By most accounts back in October, the WWA shows were pretty solidly entertaining and were attended by huge crowds of rabid (wrestling-deprived) Aussies.  Now that the show's been aired on TV here, the same description seems to be surfacing again.

The pool "alternative wrestling" has dried up over the past 12 months, and even before that, was dwindling badly.  From the Heroes of Wrestling debacle to I-Generation Wrestling to the WOW PPV, nobody seemed to get the formula exactly right.  Well, no less a critic than Scott Keith thinks the WWA did a decent job.  Read his full recap right here.

The highlights included a ladder match between Psicosis and Juventud Guerrera, a hardcore match between Norman Smiley and Devon "Crowbar" Storm, and the main event title match pitting Jeff Jarrett against the Road Dog(g) (with bonus interference from WWA "Commissioner" Bret Hart).  Also:  Jerry Lawler was on commentary in one of his last pre-WWF-return gigs.

The WWA will be doing a live PPV from Las Vegas in February, and has already added Randy Savage to its roster.  It hopes to add Sting and others, as well.

-  Biggest news out of Friday's Ross Report on WWF.com is word that the Undertaker was injured at Thursday's SmackDown tapings...  Taker's back was injured taking the Big Show's chokeslam.  JR made it sound like Taker would be out until the Royal Rumble.  If not longer.

Also from JR:  the Rock will be doing re-shoots for "The Scorpion King" throughout January and into February, but should not miss TV time...  Dave Hebner missed some action due to knee surgery, but will be back in the striped shirt next week...  the Hardys and Lita have not been "suspended," and are in good standing with the company...  William Regal's nose injury is improving, and he should be back in a week or two...  Chris Benoit and Tajiri will be doing promotional work in Asia for the WWF's upcoming tour over there...  Dean Malenko has now started work as a road agent for the WWF...  both Bull Buchanan and Val Venis were hyped as "ready to return to the main roster"...  Fred Blassie could write a book this year.

-  If you somehow missed it, check out Denny's House Show Report from Binghamton, NY, where HHH made his untelevised return over the weekend.  In addition to the emotional return, you can find out how the "suspended" Hardy Boyz did in competition and how Dallas Page did as a babyface.

-  Triple H's non-wrestling-oriented TV return actually took place this morning.  An essentially non-essential appearance on "Live with Regis" featured absolutely nothing of note according to a few readers who saw it.  Some fawning over HHH, talking about his injury and time off, and the requisite plugs, and that was about it...

More entertaining, from the sounds of things, was HHH's appearance this morning on the Howard Stern radio show.  Wrestling was on the back-burner, though they eventually did hype Haitch's return to RAW tonight...  instead, Howard was more obsessed with getting HHH to talk about his relationships with Chyna and Stephanie McMahon.  Leave it to Howard to drag Triple H -- who had, in other media outlets, said he did not want to talk about Chyna or respond to her barbs -- into admissions of dabbling in anal sex with his ex. 

-  Although new reports say that Scott Hall may, in fact, be joining Kevin Nash in the WWF, I don't think they've got much teeth.  That's not to say Hall's been ruled out completely, it's just that there is no sign of a short-term push to get Hall involved in the same storyline as Nash upon the latter's return.  It's not like they are a "package deal" or anything.

A lot of "ifs" could be addressed, however, and Hall might find himself back in the big leauges, I guess...  it just won't be happening right away.

-  A handful of readers mailed in to say that Saturday's Excess was probably the best ever, mostly because it had tons of classic Flair footage.  Didn't get to see it myself, as I had already begun drowning my sorrows after Xavier actually beat us on our home court...  didn't their new coach get that memo about how "You can't win here"?

Oh, yeah...  Excess....  didn't see it, but it sounded sweet...  maybe the Fed could take a lesson from these rave reviews and figure out some way to make better use of both the WWF and WCW tape libraries they own?  

-  A few final bits of house-keeping before I close today's column...

First, I got a bunch of e-mails right before the holiday saying that various Amazon.com links weren't working.  I'm sure that's cuz they were getting slammed by last-second shoppers (like me).  So, if you were one of the people who wanted to make a donation to the OO cause, then you can try again now.  Hell, even if you weren't thinking about making a donation, but if it seems like a good idea now, you can go ahead and knock yourself out.  Please?  

Yes, please use Amazon.com for all your book, video, game, music, and making donations in support of my drinking habit (because everybody knows this site pays for itself, even without resorting to tons of pop-up ads) needs!  That's Amazon.com!

And second:  the OO Forums are open, and your participation is encouraged.  It was slow going over the weekend (nobody ever visits here on the weekends, anyway), but I'm sure things will pick up...  based on e-mail suggestions, I'm gonna add a "Fantasy Booking" forum, I think.  Anything else that's lacking right now, you just let me know, and I can add a section for you...

As always, folks attending tomorrow's SmackDown! tapings are encouraged to pass along full reports...  it'll make my spoiling of the show much easier on Wednesday morning!



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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