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Inside Word on the Outsiders, plus
RAW Preview and More...
January 14, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  It was a weekend of persistent rumors and insistent denials... Kevin Nash was joined on the "Most Speculated About" list of wrestlers by his pal Scott Hall and NWO ubermensch, Hulk Hogan.  

Current theory, according to many insiders:  Nash, Hall, and Hogan reform the New World Order in the WWF shortly after the Royal Rumble.  They will be the only faction to  leap between the McMahon- and Flair-led factions of the WWF (each will control one of the two existing prime time shows).

Now, I don't want to say these rumors are a little pre-mature, but at the very least, they seem awfully laden with hard-to-confirm detail.  Yes, it sounds like Scott Hall is definitely back in the mix, now, and should be on approximately the same time table to return as Nash.  I've been hearing things about Hogan for months, now, too, so the idea of his return is not outrageous.

The whole intricate "NWO reforms and leaps between shows" story is also very difficult for me to confirm or deny from my spot on the wrestling foodchain.  Everything I can get seems to be "Yeah, I heard that, too, but I don't know that it's true."  Certainly, the WWF owns the rights to use the NWO name, and all...  but to already have worked out that detailed a creative direction for three talents with contracts where the ink isn't even dry (assuming they really do have contracts, which does contradict the official public stance), yet?  It wouldn't surprise me if there turned out to be equal parts intentional misinformation and fans twisting what reliable information there is out there playing into these current theories for the returns of these three major stars.

The WWF has seemingly given up on keeping their pursuit of Nash a secret.  They've openly discussed possibilities for his return on Byte This, and there's nobody out there who doesn't presently assume Nash will eventually appear in the WWF.  Jim Ross also addressed Nash and Hall as a unit, saying that while neither was actually signed to a contract, there was mutual interest in bringing both in.  He did stress, however, that it'd be a bad idea for fans to get worked up into thinking they would appear at or before the Royal Rumble (more misinformation?  Or just honest straight-talk from the man who also told fans not to look for HHH to make a surprise appearance at Vengeance?).

The WWF has made no public comment on the possible return of Hulk Hogan, though it's been known that an informal dialogue has existed for over a year, now, and that Hogan himself has backed off a relationship with the XWF while publicly talking up Vince McMahon and the WWF in recent months.

Any reports you read that purport to have the actual monetary value of the contracts signed by all three should be taken with several grains of salt.  You can, however, put full stock in reports that reduced house show appearances are a key negotiating point.

Apart from the simple "is it true, or isn't it?" element of this story, the other thing that's got fans talking (at least, the OO Forums and my Inbox make it seem like a hot topic) is how these three fit in to the WWF lockerroom.  The perception of all three is that they are not team players, but rather play the role of politicians backstage (helping out buddies, but mostly helping out themselves, using whatever power they can wield).

To many, it's a perception that comes from rumors about their days in WCW, so it's easy to dismiss possible problems since they'll now be under the firm leadership of Vince McMahon (instead of the barely-organized chaos of WCW).  But truthfully:  whatever tactics they perfected in WCW, Nash, Hogan, and Hall leared in the WWF, under Vince's very nose.  Clique temper tantrums shaped the WWF of the mid-90s, while Hogan's sense of self-interest affected WWF booking plans more than once.

If the "strong WWF leadership from Vince" theory is your only ammo is shooting down concerns about the cohesiveness of a lockerroom with these guys, then you're coming to the battle unarmed, I think.  Which is not to say that there isn't a way to argue that any or all three of these guys could find a comfortable home in the WWF...

I will not dismiss the possibility of trouble, be it from power-plays from the top down or from sniping mid-carders getting frustrated that the Fed is going out and buying stars rather than promoting from within.  But a big part of me suspects that we can downplay those possibilities for one simple reason:  the agendas of Nash and Hogan are different this time around.  They are still top names, but they've gotta be viewing this as something of a Farewell Tour.  This is their chance to go out on top, not their chance to politically position themselves for five years down the line.  If that is, in fact, their perception of things, then things look a bit rosier.

But more than anything, I just believe in crossing bridges when you come to them.  This isn't an issue, yet... and it may never be.  If it becomes one, we'll talk about it then.  But until that time, let's get back to some more normal Monday content here for OO...

-  Namely, let's do a quick RAW preview.

In the last week before the Royal Rumble, it's usually traditional to find as many excuses to fill the ring up once or twice with a goodly percentage of the actual Rumble participants.  We got a taste of it last week with the big schmozz finish between Steve Austin and Kurt Angle.

Tonight on RAW, Kane takes on Angle in another match between Rumblers, which could easily be the basis for another ring-filling bit of anarchy.  With only 10 Rumble participants officially announced, I'd expect to double that roster tonight with a combination of current stars -- such as Rikishi and Booker T -- announcing their entry (either verbally, or by jumping in on one of these schmozzes) and some more "Royal Rumble Returns" (can we please just bury the hatchet and bring back Jeff Jarrett?  We need heels, dammit!).    That way, a few spots remain open to be filled on SmackDown! or for "Mystery Entrants" (like last year's entries by Drew Carey and the HonkeyTonk Man).

It's really easy to build that multi-way tension by just doing big-ass brawls, but this year, it looks like some very specific one-on-one feuds are also going to be fostered heading into the 30-man match.  Obviously, the big one is Angle vs. Austin; flipping their heel/face alignment from earlier in the year, the two are really clicking as nemeses.  It also feels like something might be brewing between HHH and the Undertaker (though they might be limited in storytelling by Taker's back injury), while the aforementioned Rikishi and Booker T have probably got issues to settle, too.

The big non-Rumble storyline is the Rock's quest to relieve Chris Jericho of the Undisputed World Title.  Jericho -- in true heel fashion -- has managed to continually squeak out wins over the Rock, only to later magnify his dominance with a plethora of misguided boasting.  But as good as Jericho's been as a villain, I don't see him heading to WrestleMania as the champ.  With the WWF's more parochial, risk-free booking come this time of the year, I'd guess Jericho's maybe a year away from going to the Big Dance holding the Big Strap.  Which leaves us to sit around and wonder when and where he loses it to one of the potential main eventers.  The Rock's looking good from where I sit, though I kind of hope they don't give it to him:  having Jericho able to brag about always beating the Rock is some quality shtick!

Other feuds that will be furthered heading into the Rumble PPV:  Tazz and Spike Dudley have challenged the Dudley Boyz to a tag title match at the Rumble, so maybe look for a successful title defense by Tazz and Spike tonight to give them some momentum...  William Regal and Edge will probably find themselves entangled tonight (probably with brass knucks, too) leading up to their IC Title match on Sunday...  if Jazz isn't already the lead heel challenger for Trish Stratus' Women's Title, then I'm sure she'll be firmly in that position after tonight (maybe we'll see a re-do of the Jazz/Terri vs. Trish/Jackie match that was cut from SD?).

Check out RAW tonight, and then be sure to make return visits to OO for our full coverage of the show and its fall-out.

-  Triple H returned to singles action over the weekend.  On the "A-Team" version of split-crew shows in Texas, HHH got main event DQ wins over Chris Jericho (due to Angle interference).  Very positive responses for HHH, who seemed less rusty or reserved than you might have suspected (though not necessarily back to full speed, either).

The A-shows also had Steve Austin over Booker T in the pre-intermission semi-main event, and another test run for Dallas Page as a babyface (this time against Lance Storm). 

The B-Team continued with the same main event as the previous weekend, with Rob Van Dam defeating Test.   And again, developmental talents Brock Lesnar, Ron Waterman, Rico Constantino, and Randy Orton were also featured on the B-Team undercard, to varying reviews.

-  If you noticed one particular name missing from those rosters, it's because the Rock is off house shows for about the next month.  He's doing last-second re-shoots for The Scorpion King on Wednesdays through Sundays (save for PPV Sundays, of course).

Depending on who you believe, the re-shoots are either just picking up some extra shots for minor tweaking...  or are major reshoots being done with the intent of "saving" a movie that seemed likely to tank upon first review.  Although nobody's making TOO big a deal of it, to me, it sounds like the latter might be closer to the truth:  do you really need a month or more of 4- and 5-day shooting weeks just to do minor tweaking?

-   While on the movie kick, here's something I've been meaning to mention for the last few weeks...  I can't remember which movie(s) it was packaged with, but I saw the trailer for Rollerball recently.  Sure, the movie looks like it'll probably be a steaming pile of turds, but I was surprised to see Paul Heyman so prominently involved.  Even in the 2 minute trailer, he got screen time, and his voice (as the Official Announcer for Rollerball) was omni-present.  Good for Paul E...

And speaking of steaming piles of turds, can we please fire whatever cross-promotional genius actually thought that including the people from the "Kung Pow" movie on Heat last night was a good idea...  why couldn't we get Jack Black running around like a maniac as a way of promoting "Orange County" instead of this garbage?

-  One interesting side bar brought up in all the blatant rumor-mongering surrounding Nash, Hall, and Hogan...  the Eddie Guerrero Factor.

If every rumor turns out to be true (and as outlined above, we aren't dealing with stone cold fact here), then Scott Hall is basically coming back to a six-figure-a-year job to work less dates than his peers, all after several embarrassing incidents/arrests involving public intoxication and a previous exit from the WWF facilitated (at least in part) to his chemical dependency.

Meantime, Eddie Guerrero is out on his ass after a drug-related suspension and single subsequent DUI arrest.

So what's the lesson here?  That if you put asses in seats with your surveys and catchphrases, it's OK to have skeletons in the closet?  Or is it that all sins will eventually be forgiven and second chances granted, but only if it's been at least a year since you last saw the inside of a jail cell?

Note:  this is not a jab at Scott Hall getting work in the WWF.  It's more a wish that a healthy Eddie Guerrero will get the same chance.

-  After succesfully getting Diana Hart-Smith's book off shelves (see last Friday's update in the Archives), Martha Hart will be weighing in with a book of her own.  It'll be mostly ghost-written, but it'll cover her side of the Hart family saga -- which will obviously deviate substantially from Diana's -- and be out sometime this autumn.

-  A final plea for today:  if you're attending SmackDown! tapings, drop me a line with a full report so that I can publish Spoilers here in a timely fashion on Wednesday.  Till then, keep on coming back to OO for stuff like CRZ's RAW Recap, a Retro Rant from Scott, the on-going year-in-review, and lots more...



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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