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Mania Fall-out, WWF Returns, More...
March 18, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  Well, I was unsure just how this would play out...  fans who had just gotten done spending a month lamenting the WWF's poor storytelling heading into WrestleMania were served a show last night that hit a mammoth crescendo before petering out again.  Would they focus on the magical half hour of Hogan/Rock?  Or would their pissy frame of mind coming into the show cause them to harp on the other, more forgettable, aspects of WrestleMania X-8...

After about 12 hours of perspective, the over-riding consensus seems to be that it's quite fashionable to lump WMX-8 in with the great WrestleManias, and all because of the nostalgic trip down memory lane provided by Hulk Hogan and his babyface turn.  I thought you people would have been harder to please?

Then again, I could hardly believe my own reactions to the PPV last night, when I got more fired up for Hogan "hulking up" than I ever have.  So I guess you can be excused, too.

But on a night that really only featured 2 (or possibly 3) other really noteworthy matches -- Undertaker/Flair was surprisingly very good, and despite the lack of crowd heat, HHH/Jericho was entertaining (honorable mention to Kane and Angle who worked a solid match, although the finish got screwed up) -- you find yourself wondering if Hogan and the Rock alone did enough to vault this WM into the elite handful of "great" WrestleManias.

Me, I'll reserve judgment on something that big... but what I will say is this:  if it comes down to whether Hogan and the Rock were enough to make it seem like I got my money's worth, there is no doubt.  It may be hard to already be shoe-horning WMX-8 into the list of top Manias, ever, but against the odds, the even delivered a fantastic signature moment and had a handful of other good matches, too.  

One promising aspect of the show is that it seemed to set the company's storylines heading in a few fresh, interesting directions.  Obviously, Hogan/Rock vs. the nWo is going to be a major part of the build-up to "Backlash," and has the potential for some major twists and turns (an expansion of the nWo, perhaps?)...  Flair/Undertaker is now finished, meaning we can focus on Flair/Vince and the roster split...  RVD as the IC Champ should be the start of a major singles push, and hopefully the start of promising new angles and feuds as the heel challengers line up...

But even on its own merits, WMX-8 rates as a reasonably entertaining show -- even if its hard for me to justify listing it as one of the truly great WrestleManias... and I still can't quite get my brain around the fact that Hulk Hogan is a big part of the reason why.

For more on WM, check out my immediate post-show recap or Scott Keith's PPV Rant.

-  More of how post-WM storylines will play out will be known after tonight's RAW, live from Montreal...  in-ring-wise, the Hogan/Rock vs. nWo feud seems like it'll be the marquee angle.  And in keeping with the time-tested theory of the Conservation of Evil, it seems likely that as part of the story, we'll be seeing an addition to the heel side of this equation.  Hogan can't just defect from the heels and not have someone take his place...  do you think a slow-burn double switch (with the Rock going evil) would work?  Or does Shane Michaels return?  Or what?

Outside the ring, the roster split will be the key issue:  I'm sure the WWF board of directors will be using their authority to "review the ownership situaiton," or whatever crap it was they set up last week.  And from there, we'll be splitting into the RAW Roster and the SmackDown! Roster.

An interesting aside suggested by a few readers:  with Triple H as the Undisputed Champ, and with Stephanie McMahon insisting on 50 percent of EVERYTHING (past, present, and future) as part of their divorce, we could see the undisputed title split into two, as well, with Steph demanding one of the belts and siding with her father, while HHH goes to work for Flair's roster.  Or something like that.

Beyond that top tag match, everything else is pretty well reset...  guys like Angle, Austin, Booker, RVD, Regal, Kane, Undertaker, HHH, and Jericho could all be moved on to new storylines (though some will, invariably, be kept in feuds with their current foes), which could get interesting.

Check out the big post-Mania RAW tonight, or come on back to OO tomorrow for a RAW Recap from a Special Guest (unless CRZ changed his plans without telling me).

-  Shawn Michaels' non-appearance at WrestleMania has got people asking questions again about whether we jumped the gun on talking about a return to TV for HBK...  all I know is that the generally positive feeling that he'd be back (from when he met with WWF officials two weeks back) is still around.  It may be that something has changed and I just haven't heard, or it may be that the WWF is simply waiting for the right time/situation to bring Michaels back.

Also absent from WM:  Pete Rose (why bother showing past year's highlights of Rose if you're not gonna do at least one big pay-off with him attacking Kane?) and Chris Benoit (who won't be ready for an in-ring return for at least another month or so, but who many thought might make a non-wrestling appearance in front of his home country fans at WM).

-  Michaels and Benoit aside, there are two other names being talked about in regards to impending WWF returns...

One is Sean "X-Pac" Waltman, who is coming back off of injury and has worked a few house shows in the last month to make sure he's knocked off the ring rust, and who could fit into the nWo storyline.  Although X-Pac had the WWF Light Heavyweight Title with him at recent house show appearances, that title is widely considered "de-commissioned" at this point, with the former WCW Cruiserweight Title now recognized by the WWF...

And the other is Ken Shamrock, who was all over Toronto this weekend according to a bunch of OO's Canadian readership.  And others even placed him backstage at WM.  Shamrock was basically around town doing his own self-promotion (personal appearances at a strip club took up Shamrock's Saturday, for instance), but was also telling people that he wanted to maintain a part time shoot-fighting schedule while spending the majority of the year working for the WWF (he even teased a feud against Kurt Angle).  With the impending roster split, the Fed would probably not mind having Shamrock to help round things out, but there's no telling at this point how serious the mutual interest might be. [A side note:  as I'm typing this up, I just got a press release saying that Shamrock has agreed to appear -- in an unspecified role -- at the second Ring of Honor show in Philly in two weeks.  So he does have some non-WWF pro wrestling appearances slated in the short term...]

-  A few items of interest from Jim Ross' weekend WWF.com column...

First, he reports that Kurt Angle just signed a long-term contract extension with the WWF last week.  That's good news for both sides, as it's great to see Angle getting the compensation and job security that he deserves, and great that the WWF is locking in a guy who probably hasn't even reached his peak, yet.

Also, on the subject of Scott Steiner, JR says that Steiner's physical exam from a few weeks ago addressed "most of" his health issues, but did not sufficiently address Steiner's drop foot syndrome.  Only after a further diagnosis is available will the WWF be in a position to make a call on hiring Steiner. 

-  Literary Giant Scott Keith has got some additional info on Mick Foley's full-length fiction debut (as outlined last week in OO).  He wrote in to say:  "Quick bit of info on the Foley book for you:  Since I have the literary hookups and all now, I got a preview of the book's subject matter (it's still not edited yet) and it's some pretty fucked up stuff.  He of course manages to work wrestling into it eventually, but for the most part it's the story of a REALLY messed-up kid and it involves multiple scenes of rape and heavy-duty violence.  Definitely not a PG-13 type of fan-friendly book, ya know?  From what I heard, it's pretty rough but with a good editor he shows potential as a fiction writer.  I imagine I'll be able to weasel my way into an early copy once it starts making the rounds, so I'll keep you updated."


-  I mentioned a few weeks back about RVD's new entrance theme by Breaking Point (and how the Fed is missing a big time opportunity to upgrade RVD's entrance by editing out the big drum intro to the song)...  the track -- called "One of a Kind" -- is available on the soon-to-be-ubiquitous "Forceable Entry" album from the WWF.

But what might be of additional interest is the fact that the band actually filmed a video for the song with Rob Van Dam earlier this month, which will be ready for the airwaves in April.  Unlike some of the more established artists on the WWF compilation, this (and their upcoming debut album) is Breaking Point's first brush with the mainstream, so that's probably why they're willing to work closely with the WWF on this thing.

You can download the full version of "One of a Kind" at Breaking Point's website.

-  That's all today...  enjoy the rosy, warm afterglow of WrestleMania.  I'm sure by Wednesday -- when I next toss together a full length column -- the cynicism will be back in full effect!  And before then, we'll have stuff from Scott and CRZ's surrogate and lots more to keep you entertained, too...


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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