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Rock, RAW, Ratings, More...
February 20, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  There's not a whole lot of news or anything to go over today...  more just giving some closure to the whole return of Hogan, Hall, and Nash that played out on Sunday and Monday nights.

Coming off a PPV that had some real holes in the opening hour and a half but which finished very strongly, I thought the WWF had done a good job of setting up something between Austin and the nWo...  so what's the first thing they do on RAW?  Have Kurt Angle come out and confront Austin, sending him to jail in a kinda hokey scene.

Yeah, makes a shitload of sense to me, too.  On top of that, it was the night's first taste of severe over-hyping done by the announcers.  What good is it to act like Kurt Angle's perpetrated the most heinous act of all time when there is no PPV Angle/Austin blow-off match in the wings?  If this has gotta happen this way, better to just play it off as Angle using corrupt cops to further his own agenda and then have JR call Angle "a whiny little jack-ass" on commentary rather than getting all indignant.  That way you don't confuse fans with this side issue, when all it is is a way to write Austin off the rest of the show so he can't keep going with his nWo feud.

But with Austin out of the nWo picture, they immediately gave us something even more electric.  That Hogan/Rock showdown was outstanding, a true case of fans just responding to a moment they thought they'd never see.  For some, that meant cheering Hogan.  For others, it meant cheering the Rock.  Hey, doesn't make much difference to me.  The IDEA of Hulk Hogan being back is kinda neat, I must admit.  I just have a feeling that, for me, that'll go away after the first time Hogan steps in the ring for a match.  Unless he's here to bust ass and work in a way he hasn't in 15 years (before he started relying on the official Hulk-a-mania formula), that is.

Unfortunately, just as quickly as the WWF got me back on board with that confrontation, they annoyed me again with the nWo's ambulance attack on the Rock.  The attack itself left me neutral.  On one hand, SOMEthing has to be done to get these guys established as heels.  But on the other, this was stupid when it was the nWo running Scott Steiner off the road, and stupid when it mysterious hummer attacks, so why should it be anything other than stupid now?  I guess it was actually pretty well done -- not overly-Hollywood-ized, anyway -- even if it's not my particular cup of tea.

What got me pissy, though, was when the announcers tried to play this up as part of "real life" instead of "part of the show."  Look, I know they have a job to do, and it's to sell the angles that take place.  But if you're going to play the "this is real" card and maintain ANY sense of credibility in the long run, you've gotta be a LOT more choosey about which angles you try to sell as shoots.  This one, I'm sorry, is nowhere near worthy of that sort of treatment.  Just because the price tag associated with trashing an ambulance is enormous doesn't immediately mean you can try to turn this into a genuine tragedy.  When you do, it comes off like a 2002 version of Tugboat shilling the Hulk Hogan friendship bracelets:  cheesy and more likely to alienate fans than entice them to care.

I'm not even saying that as a jaded smart fan.  Because when the friendship bracelets were getting pushed, I was a 15 year-old mark who STILL thought it was the most ridiculous thing ever.  I have a feeling there are plenty of fans in the WWF's target demo of "teenage male" who didn't get a lot out of the ambulance attack and subsequent over-selling by the announcers, just as there are plenty of fans in the much smaller demo of "twenty-something know-it-alls" who find fault.

I also didn't appreciate the complete un-doing of the previous night's HHH/Angle match...  I mean, part of the reason why I found myself ultimately enjoying the PPV was the strong two final matches, one of which was Angle's win over HHH.  Don't get me wrong, I knew even then that HHH was going to get himself back into the WWF Title mix, but I didn't thing it would be by simply beating Angle in a rematch the night after the PPV.  It's the sort of thing that makes me wonder where the value is in checking out the PPV...

Or maybe it's just that I had actually started to see the wisdom of keeping Angle in the title mix, and now it looks like Angle's bumped down to the mid-card for WM.  They could have done a three-way with Jericho, HHH, and Angle, and tied it into the Flair/Vince split of the company, too.  Several readers proposed a scenario where the Mania main event could have been a three-way/two-fall match, where the winner of the first fall takes the World/WCW Title and the winner of the second takes the WWF Title.  By whatever storyline mechanism they chose, this is the way you could re-split the title so each of the two distinct factions would have its own major title.

Instead, Angle's out of the picture entirely, which I think is a waste.  Some might see him as not ready for a WM main event, but I definitely see him as worthy of more than a shabbily-constructed undercard feud against -- oh, say -- Kane.  Angle's presence would also guarantee that there's a strong heel in the main event:  as many Canuck readers have pointed out, Jericho -- as a Canadian -- may get cheered in the main event, even against Triple H.

Still, there aren't many nights when we, as wrestling fans, get something as genuinely special as the initial Rock/Hogan confrontation was.  It was outstanding, and thus, I can't get too far down on Monday's RAW.  Get the rest of the show's complete results from CRZ's RAW Recap.

-  Other notes from RAW....

The disturbance during the Angle/HHH main event was due to a woman flashing the crowd a couple of times.  When she'd flash the crowd, they'd turn and cheer.  When she was shut down by security, that was when the crowd booed.  C'mon, admit it:  you knew it was either that or a fight.

And the rating for RAW came in at a 4.8 two-plus-hour average.  That's a slight bump from recent weeks, due to post-PPV and nWo interest, and might have been even higher if not for competition from the Olympics.

-  The Rock will be written off TV for about the next two weeks as a result of the ambulance attack.  The WWF is giving him the time off because of his last month and a half's busy schedule, and because things won't be getting any easier for him after WM when he'll be pulling double duty:  working a full WWF schedule while also hitting the road to hype "The Scorpion King."

Rock won't work next week's TV tapings, but returns to work late next week when the WWF goes on a three-day tour of Asia.  He'll be back on TV for the special live SmackDown! on March 6.

-  Hogan, Hall, and Nash reportedly showed up at the buildings for the PPV and TV tapings this week in limos, and already wearing their full nWo gear.  The usual WWF standard is to drive your own rental car and change into your costume at the building, so this apparently raised a few eyebrows.

However, rumors that this is another case of the trio pissing off the WWF locker-room are, of course, blown way out of proportion.  If there's any griping, it's being done quietly, because at this early juncture, nobody wants to get caught on the wrong side of a political fence.  And it's still quite possible that the nWo will prove themselves and be accepted by the locker-room.  Until they either prove themselves or prove themselves a cancer, I don't think you should take any of these rumors with anything less than a full shaker of salt.

-  The WrestleMania card was fleshed out a bit more at last night's SmackDown! tapings, posted here earlier today.  Check out the Spoilers for more details.  Or just wait till my Friday column, and we'll talk about the developments in depth.

I don't think I'm spoiling anything by saying that it's looking like Austin vs. Scott Hall will happen at Mania...  but at present, Kevin Nash doesn't have anything lined up.  He will NOT be feuding with the Undertaker (as many had speculated), as Taker will be staying a heel per this angle with Ric Flair, and may not wrestle on the WM card.

-  Even if Nash doesn't have anything on his plate for Mania right now, it looks like he'll be working house shows this weekend for the WWF in part of the on-going attempt to knock off over a year's worth of ring rust.  Hall should also be working the shows, possibly against Austin.

Don't expect this arrangement to repeat, regularly, however.  Once Nash and Hall are back to full speed, they'll be doing mostly just televised events.

-  The WWF.com website has posted a big interview with Nash, by the way... Nash seems more evasive about talking about the Clique's role in the mid-90's WWF than Sean "X-Pac" Waltman was a few weeks back, but there's still plenty of interesting ground covered in the interview, some of which you'll agree with, and some which you'll probably disagree with.  Check it out at WWF.com.

-  Like I said, the IDEA of Hulk Hogan in the WWF is pretty cool, regardless of what happens once he steps back in the ring.  The WWF higher-ups have got to be thinking the same thing, as the return of Hogan's household name has resulted in a lot of mainstream mention of the WWF.  

Hogan and the Rock were even the subject of a two-minute riff by Regis this morning on "Live with Regis and Not Kathie Lee."

-  This weekend will be a big one in terms of indie companies looking to steal headlines -- and in one case, steal national spotlight -- from the WWF...   

The World Wrestling All-stars group is promoting a PPV on Sunday, though they have yet to officially announce a card or even a confirmed talent line-up.  It's expected that Randy Savage vs. Jeff Jarrett will be the main event...

On Saturday night in Philadelphia, tickets have already sold out for the first "Ring of Honor" show.  Eddy Guerrero vs. Super Crazy is the most enticing match on the card, and the sell-out crowd has already ensured the Ring of Honor will promote a second show (in late March) in hopes of becoming a viable, in-ring-action-based regional fed.

And after a month-plus long hiatus, the XWF returns to promote house shows in Texas this weekend.  The group has lost it's shot at Hulk Hogan, has lost Jerry Lawler, and has lost Curt Hennig, but is still going forward in hopes of securing a national TV deal with the talent that remains.  Vampiro, Konnan, and Mark Mero remain among the top in-ring names, while Rena Mero and Roddy Piper will appear in non-wrestling roles.  Terry Funk is wrestling all three shows of the Texas tour, too.

We should have quick recaps of all the shows here on OO on Monday.

-  That's it for today...  I'm back Friday with a column, but the Ticker will be continuously updated, and Thursday should also feature Part Three of Denny's special edition of "Circa" featuring wrestling black stars.

Hope you come on back for everything....


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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