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RAW Rating/Opinion, Steiner News, 
nWo Backstage, More...
February 6, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  Well, Monday's RAW is where we gotta start today...  but the question remains:  do we start with the good, or the inane?

Let's see if I can't put the ol' "Oreo Cookie" principle learned in my MBA program to use:  you start off with a delicious chocolate wafer, sneak in the toxic "creamy" filling, and then finish off with another delicious chocolate wafer in hopes of getting your criticism in without pissing anyone off...

So, Good, Pt. 1:  I love that they are going to follow through with a very slow burn on the nWo's debut.  The mere images of Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall are enough to get fans buzzing, especially the ones who didn't know the WWF was really in negotiations with the original members of the group.  Rather than just throwing 'em out there for big promos or brawls, fans are going to have time to get used to and fired up for the idea of these guys coming back.

The whole promo between Flair and Vince was gold, too.  Flair with the bemused, fist-half-cocked look as Vince ranted and raved (albeit in a more lucid fashion than his more orgasmic turns of late) was a good vibe.  Then when Vince dropped the bomb of Hogan/Hall/Nash, the bottom fell out, and the announcers and Flair played it right:  acceptance of their worst fears.  I doubt that the nWo's second coming will be as history making as its first, but things are looking like they'll definitely be made more entertaining by the group's initial arrival.

Not as entertaining:  the night's other extended promo.  And here, I am indeed talking about Stephanie McMahon and her pregnancy.  It's not even the delivery of the promo that I'm talking about.  It was done with all due obnoxiousness (and "the King" even got in on the act, noting, "What a lovely voice she has, too!"), though I realize that Steph's over-acting is despised even more than her dad's by a lot of you.  

No, it was the direction of the storyline itself that annoyed me...  when HHH and Steph revealed they'd been in cahoots all along, it saved an over soap-opera-ish storyline (the one where Test romanced Steph, and then spent a month as a jilted ex while Vince tried to defend his daughter's honor).  Them forming the "McMahon/Helmsley Era" made the storyline a bit more diabolical and thus, palatable.  Here, I see nothing but lame soap-opera-ish overtones for Steph's pregnancy.

I have good reason to suspect this, too:  Just look at the history of pregnancy angles in wrestling, and tell me there's even one reason to suspect this'll be good.  Just in my recent memory I can think of Beulah, Terri, Mae Young, and Stacy Keibler doing pregnancy angles, and of them, only Mae Young actually gave birth to anything (and god willing, some day I will be allowed to forget the awful day when she gave birth to a hand).

And here, I am not saying that Vince telling his unwed-in-real-life daughter to be extra careless so she can get knocked up for the sake of his twisted storylines would make THIS angle any better.  Maybe it'd lead to an actual pay-off, but like HHH said, there are some things that don't belong on TV, and pregnancy announcements are one of them.  [Note:  Triple H's line about "Why does everything always have to be on TV with you people?" was easily the coolest thing about the whole promo.  Preach on, Cerebral Assassin!]

It took me less than 10 seconds to start thinking "Who's the daddy?", and the live crowd didn't take much longer...  their initial "bullshit" chant could be interpreted that they either just didn't like the angle, or that they didn't really believe Steph was carrying HHH's baby.  Their second "It's not yours" chant seemed to indicate they'd give the angle a try, but that they'd already figured out HHH hadn't fathered anything.  Not good when your entire audience is 2 steps ahead of your story-telling...

I figure there'll be two phases to this story...  first, there will be somebody else claiming paternity of the baby, which will piss off HHH, starting a blood feud in time for WMX8 (which means it's gotta be Jericho?).  But then, Phase 2 kicks in and the whole pregnancy is revealed to be a ruse to mess with HHH between Steph and whoever claimed to father the baby.  Yee haw?

The only thing I take solace in is my assumption that whatever's gonna happen here will happen soon.  The original Steph/Test wedding was crashed by HHH revealing he'd already married Stephanie, so I'm making the assumption that the Steph/HHH Renewal of Vows will be the site of somebody stepping up to ruin everything.  It's called Poetic Justice, and I think HHH is gonna get a healthy dose of it on Monday.  [Go check out the OO Forums for my Ultimate Poetic Justice Theory involving Test!]

Luckily, the show was saved by some solid wrestling and cool mid-card developments.  The tag team main event may have been another product of CRZ's Random Tag Team Generator, but as is seemingly always the case when you get four solid talents together, the match itself was very good.  I like shows that end with a high quality main event.

Also, the feud between Goldust and RVD seems like a promising thing; I look forward to a bit more storytelling leading up to what should be a good match.  Plenty of storytelling has been done between William Regal and Edge, but they're doing a great job keeping the intensity up even after all these months.  These are two matches I'm definitely looking forward to at the No Way Out PPV.

For more complete thoughts about all of RAW, check out CRZ's Recap...  and with the completion of my own thoughts, I realize that if this was an Oreo Cookie, it must have been a Triple Stuffed.  Oh well...

-  RAW came in at a 4.5 composite rating...  that's down one tenth of a point from the last two weeks, which means the WWF has retained just about all of its audience from the strongly-rated post-Rumble PPV RAW.  

No idea if the WWF is benefiting from the announcement of the nWo's return, the end of Monday Night Football, or some other phenomenon altogether.  But the Fed's probably not arguing with the results....

-  As outlined on The Ticker yesterday, the WWA continues to have troubles leading up to its planned 2/24 pay-per-view.  Tickets remain OFF sale at this time following a miscommunication between promoters and the Nevada athletic commission...  but all the paperwork ensuring that the WWA is allowed to promote the event has been filed, and it's hoped tickets will go back on sale by the end of this week. 

What's not so sure is that all the talent being advertised for the show will actually be a part of the event.  According to PWTorch.com, Scott Steiner is scheduled for a physical this week, and the physical was requested by the WWF.  The inference is that if Steiner is cleared by the doctor, he could actually be signed by the WWF before the WWA PPV takes place.  That'd be another big blow to the WWA, which already lost Hall and Nash to the WWF, and which is making no headway in signing Sting to appear (as had been hoped).

-  Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall were all backstage at SmackDown! tapings in Los Angeles last night...  as reported in a non-spoiler entry of The Ticker, they did not appear in front of the live crowd, but instead were mostly just taking promotion pictures and video.

All three were a part of an nWo vignette promoting the No Way Out PPV (where the trio are expected to debut in front of a live audience).  You can get complete spoilers for Thursday's SmackDown! right here.

Already, rumors have begun circulating about the behavior of the three and how the locker-room has accepted them.  I'm not sure how much stock to put into those rumors, though, since there are already wildly divergent theories going around.  For instance, it's been reported that Scott Hall was in Las Vegas acting badly at RAW tapings when others put him at an LA Hotel a day early for SmackDown! tapings... Who the hell knows what to believe and what might be wildly-spun rumors by people who want to buy into the "nWo as poison" storyline as a shoot?

-  It has been confirmed that the reason for the live SmackDown! in San Antonio on March 7 is a logistical decision to get the full talent roster back in the States after the previous weekend's tour of Asia.

The 3/4 RAW in Austin, TX, will feature only about half the roster (including Austin, HHH, Kurt Angle, and the nWo), since the other half of the roster (including Jericho, the Rock, Edge, and most of the other top mid-carders) probably won't be able to make it back from Malaysia in time.  To ensure everybody's internal clocks are back in sync and to ensure the best possible show, Tuesday's SmackDown! tapings were pushed back to a live event on Thursday night.

I guess you can cease all speculation about a "shocking return" of Shawn Michaels in his hometown.  Or at least, you can cease speculating that that's the only reason for the awkward schedule that week.

-  I know I don't usually push WWF.com features here, cuz I'm not a big fan of them pawning off "the new work" on us as a straight shoot.  Same reason RAW Magazine pretty much sucks these days.

But anyway, there are a pair of cool features on X-Pac on the WWF.com site right now.  Somebody apparently forgot to tell him to censor himself, cuz he talks very honestly about his drug problems and his participation in the Clique's backstage antics back in '95 and '96. 

BTW, from the sound of things, X-Pac's ready to return after about four months off with a recurrence of his chronically bad neck.  Look for him soon on TV, and go to WWF.com to read the articles.

-  Speaking of RAW Magazine, the new issue is a year-end awards issue.  Other than naming Steve Austin as "Superstar of the Year" (for all the right reasons), the only other thing in the issue I really agree with is the return of Ivory to Scantily-Clad Diva Status.  It's about damn time:  she ditched the RTC six months ago!

Lots of fluffy, blatantly uncritical language and dubious choices in other categories...  well, I do also agree with WrestleMania X-7 as PPV of the year, but that's about it.  I'm not saying you wanna ream your own product a new asshole, but a little bit of honest perspective would go a long way if you still want to differentiate the RAW Magazine as the "smarter" and more mature of the Fed's two publications.

As far as I can tell, the only difference right now is that thongs on divas are acceptable in RAW, but not in WWF Mag.  Which is good and all, but not really enough to make me feel happy about the remaining months on my subscription.

-  Last thing for today, I go into the mail bag for a particularly insightful piece of mail...

I like Spike Dudley and Tazz as much as anyone, but they're pretty much a make-shift tag team, and it doesn't do much for the already-anemic tag division for them to be holding on to the straps.  But OO Reader "Kyere" wrote in with a theory explaining why Spike and Tazz have those belts...

Remember when Hall and Nash decimated an outdoor Nitro taping in Florida, and threw Rey Misterio into a trailer like a javelin?  Well, here come the Outsiders again, and here's Spike Dudley, one of the premier bump-takers in the business.  Kyere has a feeling we'll get another memorable moment as Nash tosses Spike like a javelin en route to the Outsiders taking the WWF tag titles.  Sounds like a plan to me...

-  That does it for me today...  I'll be back on Friday with another full-length OO, but you can keep on coming back between now and then as I update the Ticker and other columns!



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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