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RAW Thoughts/Rating, Lita's Injury,
Remembering Owen, More...
April 24, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


-  Maybe I should have kept my bitchy anti-smark tirade to myself on Monday... because on RAW, it sure seemed like the honeymoon was drawing to a close for Hulk Hogan.  

After nearly a month straight of pure babyface pops, Hogan was getting maybe one-third boos (to my ears, anyway) from the live St. Louis crowd on Monday.  I felt strongly that the jig would be up sometime this summer, but I also thought that it'd take a bit longer for the cracks to start showing.

Then again, without spoiling anything, I can say that Hogan's response was again just about unanimously positive at Tuesday's SD! tapings, so maybe it's just a geographic thing:  some cities will love Hogan, some might not.  I hope that there are cameras on hand for whenever Hogan's return to MSG takes place...  I have a feeling they'll love him there. Just a hunch.

Or maybe it's just that the fans on RAW didn't much care for the idea of Hogan and Undertaker headlining a PPV next month.  Especially after Taker's participation in Backlash's most lackluster match.

But maybe that WON'T be the PPV match?  Triple H certainly derailed any chances for the Taker to confront Hogan on RAW, so they didn't exactly do anything to further their feud.  Instead, HHH/Taker seems the more intense issue, now.  Throw in rumors that the Fed is eye-balling a Hogan/HHH/Taker/Jericho four-way main event for Judgment Day, and I think maybe Monday's storytelling makes a lot more sense.

And I'll tell you, that match makes a lot more sense, too.  This way, you'll have two guys who can really carry the workload involved...

The other big thing from RAW:  the Big Show, of course.  He's nWo.  Again.  Didn't he learn the other two times?  Oh wait, that was "The Giant."  Son of Andre.  Totally different guy...

Show's defection to the nWo isn't really an earth-shattering event.  Taking a guy who's not really over and putting him in a faction that's not really over is not a recipe for a ratings bonanza.  But since too many people would have seen it coming if Taker joined the nWo in Nash's absence (I know that's what I'd been expecting), I guess this was the "swerve them smarts" plan.  OK, fine, I'll accept it on those terms.

What's interesting about the heel turn, though, is Ric Flair's involvement.  Flair made the tag match -- claiming that somehow, it was a peace offering to Austin after Flair screwed him the night before (though the logic escapes me) -- and then was even responsible for the Big Show being Austin's partner after Bradshaw was written out.  What did Flair know?  Whose side is he really on?

At least there are some cool subtexts to Show's heel turn...  things I'll look forward to seeing play out in the future.  Which isn't really something I can say about actual nWo matches...

Loved the Regal/Stasiak thing...  Goldust/Booker "At the Movies" was funny in a sort of way that if it had gone on even 30 seconds longer, I would have gotten annoyed, but as it was, they quit EXACTLY when the joke started losing its steam...  Goldust and Booker were also involved in the night's best in-ring work, I think:  their match against Bubba and Spike Dudley was really good...  Brock Lesnar getting TKO wins over everybody in sight is a cool idea; but they need to be more visually impactful if they're gonna work, like a new finisher or more successive powerbombs or something (we've seen guys kick out of a powerbomb or two before, so why should we believe Brock's are THAT special?)...

One other thing, and it's back to Hogan:  the use of the "Flashbacks" and the way the announcers kept hyping how improbable Hogan's title win was gave me the distinct impression that they REALLY want us to keep in mind how ancient Hogan is.  Now, what I'm NOT clear on is if they are doing it to evoke sympathy for the old man, and thereby EXTEND this nostalgia run...  or if Vince knows that wrestling fans are cynical pricks and that if we're reminded how old Hogan is, we'll actually turn against him FASTER.  What do you think?

Of course, a full detailed recap of RAW's happenings are availabe in the always-entertaining CRZ RAW Recap.

-  While I'm doing plugs for RAW related columns, let me assure you that the Squared Circle Jerk is not on hiatus again.  Lee had a computer related foul-up, and will be back on the job next week...  and if anyone out there has any special tricks for retrieving an apparently lost file in MS-Word, drop Lee an e-mail at l_filas@hotmail.com.  Maybe he can still save THIS week's?

-  RAW's rating came in at a 4.8 cable rating...  that's exactly the same as the show was done for the past 2 or 3 weeks.  So they're holding on to viewers, but didn't experience the traditional post-PPV jump in ratings.  I might have thought that Hogan's title win might have created enough of a buzz among fans who didn't see the PPV that they'd want to tune in to the free RAW, but I guess not...

-  Lita is more seriously injured than previously thought...  what was originally thought to be a minor neck injury -- just a "stinger" by some accounts -- has been rediagnosed as two cracked vertebrae in her neck.

The injuries were suffered while Lita was doing her own stunts during a guest appearance on FOX's "Dark Angel."  When the injury took place in mid-filming for the episode, Lita's part had to be substantially pared down, since she couldn't continue as before.  

Now, two weeks after the fact, a CAT Scan has revealed that the injury is a very serious one.  Lita was examined by Dr. Youngblood -- the same guy who took care of neck surgeries for Steve Austin, Chris Benoit, and Rhyno (and who is also set to meet with Scotty 2 Hotty about HIS neck condition this week) -- earlier this week, as well.  After assessing the situation, Dr. Youngblood has slated Lita for surgery next week.

The WWF party line right now is that Lita will miss 6-9 months of action (though her male counterparts have missed more like 9-12 months of ring time following surgeries with Dr. Youngblood).  Such an absence would require an explanation on TV...  and while I'm sure most fans would be happy to accept "She got hurt doing some stunts for a TV show," you gotta wonder if they couldn't somehow parlay this into a way to further enhance Brock Lesnar's career.  Lesnar and Heyman are involved in this angle with Lita and the Hardys, now, so it'd make sense....

Trouble is, you'd either have to say some sort of heinous attack by Lesnar on Lita took place off camera (which fans would be unlikely to accept as that big a deal), or somehow frame an angle so that Lesnar could actually PERFORM the heinous act on a Lita-look-alike stuntwoman or something like that (which would have to be very carefully done, otherwise, again, fans would shit all over it).  

We'll have to see how that goes... and of course, best wishes for a full and speedy recovery go out to Lita.

-  I mentioned on Monday how I hoped that I wasn't the only fan thinking of Owen Hart while watching Backlash -- the first PPV held in the Kemper Arena in Kansas City since Owen's death there in May '99.  Turns out, I had no reason to fear.

A few folks who were there in KC said that they spotted plenty of Owen-related sentiment, although the WWF Sign Police were quick to confiscate some of the more outward mentions of the late superstar (what?  worried about bad publicity three years after the fact?)...

But the Fed made it up by publishing a really cool article article about all the guys who were thinking of Owen this past Sunday in KC.  To a man, they all had a particularly fond Owen memory to share for the write-up.  Check it out at wwf.com.

If nothing else, it's a more fitting way to remember Owen this week than his brother Bret's dubious participation in the "Talking to the Dead" special that aired Monday night on ABC (where Bret supposedly chatted with Owen through medium George Anderson).  In My Own Damned Opinion, anyway...

For my own part, my thoughts at a time like this invariably turn to an ultimately selfish thought:  how amazing it would be to still have Owen around right now.  The majority of his WWF tenure came during a time when in-ring work was not as appreciated or emphasized.  But the roster today would lend itself to any number of amazing match combinations for Owen.  For fans like us, the results would be tremendous:  almost like having an extra Kurt Angle just lying around.  Just imagine the possibilities...

Then after I think that selfish thought, I remember that there are people who miss Owen for reasons a lot more important than entertaining wrestling matches and quirky interviews.  Owen's family and true friends, of course, are the ones who really lost something special... 

-  After last year's memorable verbal jousting, Bob Costas has invited Vince McMahon back onto his HBO "On the Record" show...  and Vince will appear, on the May 16 edition of the show.

Though Costas has softened his stance towards the WWF in public statements recently, Vince himself is hyping the appearance.  A quote on WWF.com has Vince basically threatening (pro rasslin' style) to kick Costas' ass this time if the little man gets out of line again.

I just hope that if Costas really is better prepared this time and wants to conduct an intelligent interview, that Vince doesn't go overboard with the confrontational machismo for show business purposes.  Hell, even if Costas is a clueless putz again this time around, I still don't know what purpose would be served by making a big scene again like last year.  I can't be the only one who thought that BOTH Vince and Costas came out on the short end of the stick on that one (Costas for not knowing his background info, and Vince for really overreacting).

In any case, the confrontation from last year makes this year's showdown all the more intriguing.  So I guess from that perspective, both Vince and Costas won, afterall?

-  A pair of other mainstream/talk-show appearance notes...

Triple H is on "Last Call with Carson Daly" (MTV Boy's post-Conan NBC show) this Wednesday night, while the Rock keeps the hype for "The Scorpion King" coming with an appearance this Thursday night on CBS's "Late Late Show."

-  I'm not sure why, but Tough Enough 2 is rallying in the ratings... last week's show did a 2.1 rating, up nearly half a point from what I vaguely remember it pulling in a few weeks ago.

The 2.1 puts it on par with (or maybe even slightly ahead of) where TE1 was performing at this point in its run.

Blech.  If you people want to watch "reality TV," do me a favor, and stick with "The Osbournes."  It's more like "surreality TV," which somehow renders it a billion percent more entertaining!

-  An item in the latest Variety hypes Ultimate Fighting as possibly the next big thing on cable TV...  as we first mentioned a few months ago, UFC is hoping to expand into a weekly TV show here in the US.

The Variety article mentions UFC's involved plans for a major marketing initiative along the lines of the way the WWF has partnered with Viacom to promote its shows and stars across a wide spectrum of programs and networks.  They point towards UFC success on PPV and at the box office (UFC is responsible for the biggest drawing fighting event in Vegas so far in 2002!), done WITHOUT a weekly show, as proof positive of a built-in audience that would patronize a weekly broadcast.

Keep an eye on this...  I think there's a lot more chance for something like this to catch on and get big than there is for the bi-weekly PPV promotional plan to work.

-  Joanie "Chyna" Laurer's official website (bodybyjoanie.com) has released an official statement announcing that Laurer is going to be the first regular female performer for New Japan Pro Wrestling in its thirty years of existence.  Her first appearance will be at NJPW's May 2 Tokyo Dome show (an event also slated to include the reunion of Rick and Scott Steiner, among other things).

-  Last thing:  if you somehow missed 'em, but didn't mean to, spoilers for SmackDown (and also for Heat and Jakked/Metal) are available right here.  Enjoy.

-  As the wise man once said:  alright folks, that's the news, and I am outta here...  see you Friday.


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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PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
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SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
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RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
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PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
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PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28




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