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The REAL April 1 Update!
April 1, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  If only today were REALLY as news-worthy a day as the April Fools news made it seem...

Instead, we're left leading off with some RAW preview and then finishing up with some other minor news.  Business as usual...  no nWo firings, no Benoit in a Wolverine costume, no nothing!  [If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you need to catch up on today's previous update, right here.]

I'm glad a some of you got momentarily fooled...  as I write this on Monday afternoon, the "Bastard" count stands in the mid-40s from people pissed that they were had!

I think perhaps not doing a bogus column last year helped put you off your guard.  Now that the tradition's back, it'll be harder, once again, to slip anything past you folks!  Though to be honest, I'd hope that by the time you got to the Benoit/Wolverine story, you'd have realized you were being put on...  it's another installment in the long-standing tradition of trying to make the last April Fools story so utterly ridiculous that nobody would swallow it (my favorite one of those was the Shawn-Stasiak-got-fired-for-using-hidden- cameras-to-film-a-huge-lesbian-orgy-in-the-WWF-diva's-locker- room story from 2 years ago!).

If you're looking for another laugh or two on April Fools Day, may I suggest checking out Coming Attractions?  It's a movie news site with a few hilarious updates for today; it's about the only other really fun bogus reporting I saw today.

-  Steve Austin will be on RAW tonight, that much is still true.  He'll be announcing which roster he'll join (or at least begin the process of teasing which roster he'll end up on)...  that will be the centerpiece of the entire show, which will still have the entire WWF roster (including Vince McMahon and his WWF-SD stars) at the ready.  Of them, only Vince is expected to actually take part in tonight's show (as part of the Austin-as-free-agent storyline).

With the company now charged with coming up with new intra-roster storylines for a lot of the RAW-exclusive talent who haven't seen TV time in a while, it's hard to do a whole lot of predicting/previewing what else to look for tonight...  obviously both the Undertaker and the nWo are unhappy with being on Flair's RAW and will be the roster's lead heels.  Flair himself may be opposing them, but his top babyface for now will probably be Kane.  With time, Austin also gets added to that mix.

So with those secondary storylines shrouded in a bit of uncertainty, the only other big thing we can talk about with regard to tonight's show is that RAW will be getting a total make-over.  New set, new music, new logo, everything...  the new logo is already featured over on WWF.com, and has kind of a streamlined, slanty "Next Generation" thing going on.  As part of the "brand extension," the Fed may also be looking to downplay the "WWF" initials as part of a contingency plan to rebrand the product in the wake of recent court rulings against them (and in favor of the other WWF, the World Wildlife Fund).

One thing not expected to change:  Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are anticipated to remain as the RAW announce team.  Michael Cole will probably get a new partner on SmackDown!...

Up against the NCAA Championship Game, tonight's RAW is certain to play to its smaller audience tonight...  but the show is still positioned to be an important and entertaining one, as the split roster era kicks off in earnest.  

If you don't manage to check it out (or tape it for a late night, post-game viewing), remember that OO's got your back, with full coverage of the show -- including CRZ's detailed recap -- coming up on Tuesday.

-  Something you might be on the look-out for tonight:  Eddie Guerrero may be ready to return to TV, sooner rather than later.  That could mean tonight.  It could mean SD tapings tomorrow (since that IS where the Cruiserweight belt will be defended).  But it SHOULD mean sometime in the next week or two, no matter what.

Rey Misterio Jr. isn't gonna be much further behind.

-  The Rock is hitting the promotional trail, and he's hitting it hard.  He's nowhere to be seen on house shows through the end of April, as his schedule for promoting the April 19 release of "The Scorpion King" is shaping up to be brutal.

All next week, he'll be in NYC, prepping for April 13's edition of Saturday Night Live (which has finally been officially confirmed to have the Rock as host)...  his only time off during that week will be spent on a few other NYC-area TV/radio appearances (including both "Regis" and "The Today Show" on April 9, and the Howard Stern show on April 12).

The following week, he's got spots on "The Tonight Show," "Larry King Live," "Total Request Live," "The View," and "Late Night with Conan O'Brien".  Then, in the week following the release of the movie, he's got a couple follow-up appearance, including the Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards and on "The Late, Late Show."

I also expect that the WWF will be heavily cross-promoting the movie (and therefore the Rock) during its broadcasts...  I only hope that they have the good sense to limit that hype to SD!, since that's where the Rock is working, instead of shoving it down our throats on RAW, too.

-  If you missed the Ticker items over the weekend, there were a few interesting tidbits in this week's WWF.com Ross Report...

JR mentioned that HHH is working with a fractured knee cap, but is simply going to work through the pain for now.  I'm no doctor, but that sorta sounds like the type of injury that just ain't gonna get better with anything but rest...  tough break for HHH.

Also of note, on the talent acquisition front:  both Rey Misterio Jr. and Eddie Guerrero have verbally committed to the WWF, but JR says neither has officially inked contracts.  As noted above, that is probably just a mere formality, and at least Eddie is expected to return sooner rather than later.

And maybe best of all:  the WWF is showing interest in adding Dawn Marie to their roster of Divas.  This would be a plus not only because of her super-hot-ness, but also because she's spent the last year or so since the demise of ECW adding some actual in-ring expertise to her repertoire, and also because she has a built-in past with Lance Storm that would be great to recreate in the WWF...  no word on whether her boyfriend Simon Diamond (who could be a useful addition to the Cruiserweight roster) would be coming along for the ride.

-  Speaking of the WWF's cruiserweight situation...  the return of X-Pac to TV without the WWF Light Heavyweight Title foreshadowed the de-commissioning of that title, but now the WWF itself has erased all signs of that title from their websites.  The Fed is now recognizing the Cruiserweight Title -- which traces its lineage back to WCW and is presently held by Tajiri -- as its own official title for the smaller weight class.

We had been expecting this move for a while, but now, the WWF has formally made the move to remove all signs of the LHW Title while pushing the Cruiser belt as the sole focus for the smaller wrestlers.

-  OK, want proof that the WWF creative team is just making this stuff up as they go? [Which strikes me as a terribly short-sighted way to be doing business...]

On the cover of the newest RAW Magazine that just came out, you've got the Dudley Boyz with Stacy Keibler.  Inside the mag, the cover story on the Dudleys has Bubba Ray Dudley responding to a question about splitting up and going out as a singles wrestler by saying, "That's not what I want for myself.  I know I could succeed as a singles wrestler, and so could D-Von but I'm not gonna be the next Stone Cold Steve Austin.  I'm not gonna be the next Triple H.  So why even try to attain that level at this point?"

Of course, in the month since this issue was prepped for publication, the Dudleys tabled Stacy, eliminating her from the equation, and then were broken up as part of the Draft.  D'oh.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be week-to-week flexibility, but wouldn't it be simple common sense for the creative team to have a general idea in their head as to where they want to be for the next signature PPV (in this case, King of the Ring), and have the major concepts in place for how we get there?  It's not so much that it's a gaffe that a team got broken up a week before an interview hit newsstands that revealed no interest in breaking up the duo...  it's just that all-around storylines would be tightened up if major plot developments were planned out a bit more in advance.

-  My bad last Friday...  I said Steven Richards was among those not drafted who still appeared on TV last week.  But he was selected, and will be going to the RAW roster.

And I guess over the weekend, announcers said another of those undrafted talents, Funaki, was confirmed as heading to SmackDown!, so even if they weren't drafted those guys ARE being quietly divvied up between the rosters.

-  And on that note, I'm finished for today...  as always, I issue a request to anyone attending SmackDown! tapings tomorrow to please pass along a recap to help make sure that I can fully spoil Thursday's telecast as quickly as possible on Wednesday morning!

See you then with my next full-length (and non-bogus) update... 


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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