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RAW, Rock, WWA, Injury Updates
Galore, and Lots More...
April 8, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  This is gonna get weird...  on Friday, I had to sit here and talk about Hulk Hogan and the assembled masses of WWF-SmackDown!.  Today, I sit here, and the topic of the hour is the WWF-RAW brand.

Hell, even the one guy who is a constant between the two shows -- Triple H -- may end up behaving in two entirely different ways on each program.  More than one reader suggested -- after my Friday diatribe about the return of the Red and Yellow Hulkster back-firing -- that we could well be heading to a scenario in which HHH plays a heel (against Hogan) on WWF-SD, but is a babyface (against Undertaker) on RAW.

It didn't make much sense to me, either, but if the Fed managed to make Bret Hart a heel in the US and a fan favorite everywhere else back five years ago, then anything is possible.

But in any case, there will be at least tangential storyline cross-over tonight, as the Undertaker had a title shot taken away from him by Vince McMahon.  It's an awkward situation, since HHH and Ric Flair were both more than happy to grant the title shot, but Vince (despite being a close ally of the Taker's in storylines) decided to bestow it upon Hogan, instead.  And Vince isn't there on RAW to get his comeuppance.

Something's smelly here, and I'd guess we're in for another re-drawing of the battle lines pretty soon.  To shoehorn Vince's decision into the realm of logic, there's gonna have to be some sort of pay-off at or before the PPV.  The only other way Vince's actions make sense without another heel turn is if he eventually reveals that he's trying to get the title onto Hulk Hogan because it's the only way (due to Flair's draft strategy) that he can deliver Hogan to the WWF-R brand, where Hogan can get punked out by the nWo.  And that sort of storyline is a bit on the subtle side for the WWF and its fans to sink their teeth into.

But enough random theorizing...

Besides finding out what's up with the Undertaker tonight on RAW, we'll also have to see how the Fed is going to address the absence of Kevin Nash from storylines.  Nash's recent biceps surgery will sideline him for a month or more, and to keep the nWo viable in the meantime, the Fed could add another superstar to their mix.  The option is probably to limit Scott Hall and X-Pac to tag team duties, which wouldn't be bad at all; except that the tag titles are over on the WWF-SD! show, rendering a decision to start tagging full time a bit meaningless.

The other key issue tonight:  finding out where Steve Austin fits into things.  Austin's anti-authority attitude has put him at odds with WWF-R owner Ric Flair, but I'll assume Flair is going to play the "I'm a more understanding boss than Vince" card so that Austin can have his periodic explosions without necessitating with him or Flair going heel.  With Nash out, I doubt Austin's likely to re-hash his feud with Scott Hall, so the only other option I can see to tie these dangling problems together would be to somehow get Austin and Taker together for their 79th PPV feud since 1997.

While everybody else is focused on those top issues, the thing I'm REALLY looking forward to tonight is the development of the IC Title feud between Eddie Guerrero and Rob Van Dam.  I can think of nothing (besides short-sighted bookers) that should stop these two from delivering a 20 minute PPV classic at Backlash.  The "Battle for the Frog Splash" is just a starting point for the feud, too, which should thrive due to RVD's burgeoning popularity and due to Eddie's massive amounts of innate dick-ish-ness.  I could care less if the Undertaker or nWo even show up on RAW, provide RVD and Eddie get to fan the flames of their rivalry.

It's also getting to be "shit or get off the pot" time with regards to Brock Lesnar.  Amazingly convincing run-ins lose their charm after about three weeks, and I think we ought to get him lined up for his first actual TV match (to take place at the PPV).  My thought is this:  keep Spike Dudley's giant-killer/upset-streak (started last week against Regal) going again tonight, but after his match, Lesnar runs in, and for the first time ever, Spike is able to get in a quick move (which Lesnar could, of course, no sell) and escape before being thrashed.  And just like that, Lesnar vs. Spike at Backlash.  And that match plays out just like Bam Bam vs. Spike back in ECW, circa 1998 (i.e. Spike getting his ass kicked).

Be sure to check out RAW tonight on TNN...  or at the very least, make OO your first stop if you need to catch up on the show if you miss it.  In addition to CRZ's always-comprehensive RAW Recap, this week I'm also happy to announce that Lee Filas' "Squared Circle Jerk" will be back.  Predictions of Stacy Keibler's defilement, sadly, will not (she's on SD!)...  

-  If you like the Rock, then I sure hope you like Scorpion King commercials...  because that's probably where you'll be seeing the most of the Rock on WWF TV in coming weeks.

Presently in the midst of a movie-related media onslaught, the Rock may not be appearing on any more TV tapings until after Backlash.  This week, he's hitting mainly the NYC-area talk shows and prepping to host this weekend's Saturday Night Live, and was not expected to be traveling cross-continent to make Tuesday's SD! tapings. 

One school of thought has the Rock not even appearing at Backlash, though the option did remain to set Rock up with a match based mostly on things that have already happened, and which could be promoted for two more weeks mostly using video packages and the three other guys in the feud.  That's right, it'd be a Rock/Edge vs. Jericho/Angle PPV match (which I'd actually thought was a no-brainer for this week's SD! main event, but if Rock's not gonna be there....).

Rock also has no house show appearances scheduled for the foreseeable future...  until at least June, anyway.  No idea on whether that hiatus will extend to TV tapings, or not.  Kinda funny how one little roster loss for SD! (Rock) combined with last week's roster gain for RAW (Austin) can completely shift the perception of how closely competitive the two shows will be, eh?

-  The premiere of "The Scorpion King" -- which enters theaters in a week and a half -- was held late last week in Hollywood, and from all accounts, it sent the crowd home happy.  Then again, a partisan gala premiere crowd isn't being herded in to offer much in the way of constructive criticism, now are they?

What is known is that the movie's director had taken up until the very last possible second on Thursday afternoon preparing a final print of the film.  That's not unprecedented, and it may not even be reason for concern... but it does underscore the amount of last-second chicanery that's going into trying to spruce up a movie that many feared would tank if it had been released without a month's worth of re-shoots (done back in January and February).

The release of "The Scorpion King" comes on the tails of studio confirmation that there will also be another flagship "Mummy" sequel (starring Brendon Frasier, et al) coming in the near future, regardless of how the Rock's prequel to that franchise performs.  In talking about the new flagship "Mummy" movie, it sounded like they fully expected to have the Rock involved in the project, while there were also hopes that if "The Scorpion King" does well, it could become a second franchise all its own.

Other news from "The Scorpion King" premiere:  "Helldorado" -- the action flick slated to be Rock's next project -- was said to be starting filming "this fall."  That means between the Rock's current mini-hiatus and his next project, we may only get a few months of the Rock between now and the end of the year....

-  The World Wrestling All-Stars group is back touring Australia again this week...  their first shows over the weekend actually yielded some big news, as there is a new WWA Champion.  Nathan Jones, an Aussie once expected to start full time with WCW after he appeared on an edition of Nitro Down Under, ran in during a Scott Steiner vs. Midgets segment, and found himself inserted into the main event match for the WWA Title.

Jones then came out on top of Steiner, Grandmaster Sexay, and Jeff Jarrett to win the title.

However, he's not expected to finish the tour with the belt.  The WWA Australia tour concludes this weekend with a show being taped on Saturday night for airing on pay-per-view here in the US on Sunday night.  Jones is currently booked to face Steiner on that show, but as seems to perpetually be the case with the WWA, the card is subject to change.  [I'd actually think that with Steiner's health still in question, getting the title back on to Jarrett would be the better move, but there's no denying that Steiner's the bigger box office draw...]

-  The WWF is hitting Australia this summer, too...  if you care, I believe it'll be the WWF-SD roster that makes that particular trip. [The WWF-R roster is the one going to Europe next month.]

Vince McMahon and Stacy Keibler are going to be in Melbourne this week to lay the promotional foundation for later this year. 

By the way, completely off on a tangent...  if Stacy is going to be Vince's "executive assistant," then dammit, she REALLY ought to bring back the glasses and the business suit.  [To think that the "Miss Hancock" gimmick just might be my fondest memory of the Russo-era WCW...]  

-  Last thing for today is cribbing a few notes for Jim Ross' WWF.com column...  as per custom, it's mostly updates to injury status.

First up, Nash's aforementioned injury will keep him out of action for "8-10 weeks," but JR does say that he expects Nash will be back on TV "long before" he's cleared to step back into the ring.

The severity of Perry Saturn's injured knee was also confirmed:  it's a torn ACL, which means at least 4 months on the shelf for Saturn.  His surgery is scheduled for tomorrow.

Mark Jindrak also had knee surgery recently (to repair his POSTERIOR CL) and is out for about three months.

Mike Awesome is going to be cleared by his doctor this week, and will likely report immediately to HWA or OVW to spend some time knocking off the rust before reporting back to one of the WWF rosters...  Kanyon (ACL) is now only about a month away from returning...  Chris Benoit's return is "close," but he still isn't cleared to start full-contact in-ring action, even though he's begun light work-outs in Cinci's HWA...  and Rhyno's return (from neck surgery) was estimated to be three months away.

Hulk Hogan (ribs), Maven (broken finger), and Goldust (back) are all working through injuries but will not miss any time.

In talking about the brand extension, JR noted that he thought the first week went pretty smoothly (which I agreed with), and that SD! was the better of the two shows (I kinda thought it was about a draw, myself)... but in talking about the split, he mentioned something, in an off-hand way, that I can't believe has been considered before:  a lot of the roster will now have to deal with new travel/training partners.  It's not just storyline tag teams that were broken up, but real life partnerships...  that could be interesting if the new road friendships invigorate some talents or wear down others.

JR confirms that Rey Mysterio Jr. has agreed to terms on a contract and they're just awaiting the ink to dry on the paper... also confirms that Nova will start in the developmental program in mid-May.

Understatement of the weekend:  "Perfect and Bossman seemed to have no chemistry together Monday night."  JR used that observation as a way to make Perfect and Shawn Stasiak doing a test run as a tag team at future house shows seem like a promising idea.  [I know nobody cares what I think (and I hope it's not just the fact that I'm a Hennig fan that's clouding my opinion), but I think the Mr. Perfect gimmick and Hennig's own style don't lend themselves to working in a tag team setting.  Unless you want to do the one "Mr. Perfect tries to train a Perfect disciple" storyline, which would only be a short-term thing, anyway...]  BTW:  Chavo Guerrero and Hugh Morrus are also being considered as another full-time tag team, sayeth JR.

-  That's it for today.  As always, first-hand fan reports from tomorrow's SmackDown! tapings will be greatly appreciated...  I'll make it my first order of business on Wednesday morning to make sure SD! is fully spoiled.  And then after that, I'll see you again with another full length collection of news and opinion.



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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