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Hey WWF, Welcome to Splits-Ville...
Population:  YOU!
February 13, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  The WWF is not going to waste any time after WrestleMania following through on its split into two distinctly separate promotions (thought both will likely bear the WWF brand name).

The schedule remains the same as it ever was for the two days immediately following WMX8:  the entire roster is assembled for RAW tapings on Monday night, and then again for SD! tapings on Tuesday.  But then, there are no shows scheduled again until the following Monday.

When there are now TWO shows on the current calendar.

RAW is listed as taking place in State College, PA, on March 25, while a non-televised house show is going on about two hours away in Wheeling, WV.  The next night, Philadelphia is listed as the site of SmackDown! tapings, while -- just a short drive away -- fans in Reading, PA, get a house show.

The cycle continues on Wednesday and Thursday, as the Fed has split house shows both nights.  The rosters -- which seem to have been kept intentionally close for the TV tapings nights -- deviate substantially for the shows later in the week.  One crew stays up north, and does Wed/Thurs shows in Wilkes-Barre, PA, and East Rutherford, NJ; the other goes to Florida for shows in Gainesville and Jacksonville.  

A special disclaimer is posted to the info pages for both the NJ and Jacksonville shows telling fans that these are non-televised events and that they should set their VCRs to tape SmackDown!.  This destroys the theory that the roster split would be accompanied by a move to the WWF airing SD! live every Thursday.

At present, there are no house shows scheduled on the weekend following the four nights of split-crew shows, which is also awkward.

Then again, this could might not be the final scheduling arrangement...  it might just be a temporary measure before the Fed can finally rotate everything around to the way they want it.  We did discuss, weeks ago, how the plan was to have each of the distinct rosters working four shows per week, but this schedule does not resemble any of the options we talked about back then.

We'll have to see how it shakes out, but for now, at least we know we can look forward to a very eventful WrestleMania and subsequent two nights of TV.  The split is ON!

-  Monday's RAW did a lot in terms of setting things right simply by aborting the Stephanie pregnancy before it got too out-of-hand (and the tasteless pun probably was intended)...  but for as much as I appreciated the simple, logical "out" they had for the angle, there wasn't much else on the show that struck me as particularly effective.

The one exception:  the hostilities between Steve Austin and Chris Jericho were handled tremendously well.  I'm not usually a fan of when you watch a match between Wrestler A and Wrestler B, and wind up thinking Wrestler C was the star (if that's all you're gonna do, why have A vs. B to begin with?), but that's exactly what happened when Jericho upstaged Austin and Undertaker on RAW.  And in this case, I really liked it.  Good stuff that sets the stage for Sunday.

Most everything else on the show seemed very flat, though; with Rock out of action and HHH tied up with his wedding vows, I guess that explains why they couldn't do a whole lot else with those other top level matches.  But still, a little more "oomph" heading into the PPV matches would have been nice.

So I guess that leaves us to talk about the Renewal of Vows...  it went down about as well as I could have hoped.  No silly soap opera love triangle, no getting too-cute with self-referential booking (as I figured they'd do by having someone else walk out to ruin the ceremony, just as HHH did two-and-a-half years ago), just a simple connect-the-dots story that anyone could follow.  Steph was desperate last week to get back on HHH's good side, so she panicked and lied about being pregnant.  Then she hired an actor to play a doctor and further the ruse.  Then HHH found out about the lie and dumped her ass.  Nothing fancy, but still a lot more effective than many of the outcomes I had been contemplating.

More than anything, this is a good thing because it sets up a specific target for Hogan/Nash/Hall when they arrive.  It's all well and good for them to be here to "poison" the WWF, but now, since they are Vince's lap-dogs and since Vince will want to destroy HHH, they'll be able to go directly after HHH and have it make sense.  The added depth that their past as The Clique provides is a nice touch, too, though they won't even have to touch on that to keep the interest of casual fans, now.

In fact, I'm already thinking that maybe Jericho/HHH as the WMX8 main event is NOT gonna happen.  Austin/Angle for the WWF Title could now headline (after Austin beats Jericho and the nWo costs HHH his WM title shot against Angle), with HHH vs. Hogan or Nash as a semi-main event.  What sucks is that if this IS the scenario, it means Chris Jericho is getting set out on his ass just as his heel run was really hitting its stride.   It sucks, but it might also be the most logical way to follow through on the way the WWF has set the table.

Let me just try to see if I can slap together a 10-match WrestleMania card that works, based on where we are now.  I go with Austin (champ) vs. Angle (challenger) on top...  HHH (seconded by Shawn Michaels, perhaps, who could turn evil to cause HHH's to lose?) vs. Nash (seconded by Hall)...  and then Rock vs. Hogan to round out the Triple Main Event... Chris Jericho vs. Ric Flair (this could be awesome entertainment, I think)...  William Regal (IC Champ) vs. Edge vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Goldust in an IC Title Four-Way Elimination match...  Spike/Tazz (tag champs)  vs. the Dudleys, probably make it a Tables Match...  Tajiri (champ) vs. Christian in a match to jump-start the Cruiserweight Division for after the split... and then with the other three matches, I'd put in something for the Undertaker (man, this guy needs to turn back babyface, otherwise, he'll get buried by the nWo on the heel side... otherwise, all I got for him at Mania is a blow-off match against Maven), something with the Divas (either Lita/Jazz for the title, or some out-right T&A), and then a big ass Battle Royal of some kind to get everybody a shot to appear on the card (and not a Legends/Gimmick thing, either, since we've already got enough old-timers on the roster, what with Hogan and Flair wrestling!).

That's just off the top of my head, but it's a show that I think makes sense given where current storylines are, and which I would also be very excited to purchase.  I'm sure I could some improving/tweaking if I gave it some thought, and I'm sure the WWF's final product will look significantly different.  But still, it's an interesting exercise to take one stab at the Mania card before the No Way Out PPV even takes place!

And before I forget that this bullet point started out being about RAW, let me remind one and all that you really ought to check out CRZ's RAW Recap if you haven't already.

-  Final thing about RAW is a note on the ratings...  the show continues to perform about the same:  there still has not been a drop-off after the show peaked on the night after the Rumble PPV.

Monday's show did a 4.4 two-hour average rating, which is down all of one-tenth from the last three week's average.  I'd expect the show will get a big boost next Monday, as fans tune in not just to find out what happened at the PPV, but also to see Hogan, Hall, and Nash on RAW for the first time.

-  If you're one of the folks who just comes straight to the thrice-weekly full-length OO, and ignores the rest of the site, there were a few items on the Ticker yesterday that bear repeating...

First, Kevin Nash is suing the old WCW (the AOL/Time Warner "holding company" is now known as Universal Wrestling Corporation) for royalties he feels he is owed.  His suit alleges WCW withheld royalties, underpaid royalties, slow-paid royalties, and did not give an accurate accounting of how royalties were calculated.  It's possible, given the nature of this suit, that other wrestlers could follow Nash's lead.

And second, with Disco Inferno now added to the WWA PPV card as a wrestler, the group has moved to secure Mark Madden as the color commentator for the 2/24 event.

-  Back to fresh material...

Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were in Cincinnati over the weekend, working out in HWA rings to knock off some of the ring rust.  They were joined by X-Pac, who is also getting ready to return to action after an injury.

Hall and Nash satisfactorily completed their sparring sessions, and have departed Cinci.  X-Pac remains in the developmental territory, and will be joined by Raven, Justin Credible, Hugh Morrus, and Tommy Dreamer for a big HWA show tonight here in Dayton, OH.

I'd been all set to go to the show, until I looked at my calendar and realized tonight's a UD home game...  the Flyers -- even if NIT-bound -- must take precedence over the HWA.

-  I don't know if you've heard this, but apparently, there's a rumor going around that Ted Turner is interesting in investing in the XWF, and bringing it on to TBS and TNT...  probably is, I don't think this rumor is coming from anywhere but from the XWF itself.  Which means you can fairly safely disregard it!

The XWF is actually working with Clear Channel Communications (a multi-media distribution megalith) to get a syndication deal of some kind slapped together.  I don't expect Ted Turner to ever be part of that equation, even if he IS back working directly for AOL/Time Warner.

-  Although the WWF is making a big deal about their return to DirecTV (and although lots of subscribers are very happy about this), it is not a long-term, multi-year agreement, or anything.  It's more a short-term stop-gap measure that may not even take the WWF and DTV though the end of the calendar year.

But it does give them time to work out a more permanent solution without alienating any more customers.  Which isn't a bad thing.  It's a good thing.

-  Got some good responses from readers who were similarly surprised that we haven't seen MORE international-i-zation of the "What?" phenomenon after my comments Monday.  The only foreign language version anyone's spotted on signs is "Que?"...  though I still stand by my variations from Monday, no matter how hard some of you Canucks want to complain!  "Eh?"  I said no matter how hard you Canucks want to complain!

Some other reader-supplied additions to the International What List:  "Qu'est-ce-que?" (French, the variant "Quoi?" was also given by one reader), "Nani?" (Japanese), and "Shumma?" (Mandarin Chinese).  Along with our Canadian, British, German, and Spanish translations, that brings the list up to seven foreign language versions of "What?"...  hey, Knachel, if you're reading, give me the Latin!  That'd be classy...  

-  OO Reference Guy Aaron Solomon has got two (2) extra WrestleMania X-8 tickets that he would like to sell.  Contact him at cripplednitemare@shaw.ca if you'd like to stake a claim.  Better do it fast!

-  Last thing for today.  A friend of mine (I don't mind telling you he got FRIED by DirecTV back during the Rumble 2001) has recently come into possession of something called an H-card.  He still has his dish and receiver, and also got an old Pentium 2 PC running DOS.  He's been told he's very close to getting himself set up to receive DTV again, but doesn't know what the next step is.

He asked me to help, since he figures if he has free pay-per-view, I'd go over to his house to watch wrestling.  Of course, I don't believe in such treachery, and will continue to watch WWF PPVs at my own house like the good solider I am.  But I do believe in helping out a friend.  So drop me a line if you have any idea what needs to be done, here.

Oh, and I'm supposed to say my friend is Canadian, so this is all legal!  Yeah....  Seriously, though, drop me a line if you know what's going on here.

-  That's it for today.  Tomorrow will be a Very Special Day at OO, with Dueling Headline Columns for the very first time.  Come on back to watch as I stir the pot!  And then Friday, I'm here with a full-length OO previewing the No Way Out PPV in extreme depth.

See you 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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