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What in the Blue Hell is Going
on Around Here?
May 8, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


It's a crazy time to be following the graps game, folks...  let's get down to some mid-week bid-ness:
  • I thought the biggest no brainer coming into this week would be that trying to get used to typing "WWE" and what I REALLY meant was "WWF" would be the most disorienting thing I had to endure.
    Little tremblors of rumors about bad behavior by the WWE-R crew while in Europe (and then on the flight back) had me thinking that there might be some minor disciplinary action forth-coming, too.  But nothing major.
    Instead, we sit here today with both Scott Hall and Curt Hennig having been released by the WWF.  They were among a handful of stars who supposedly cut loose and had a ton of fun while overseas.  And since Hall's reputation preceded him, he didn't have a lot of lee-way for partaking of the foreign booze.  As for Hennig, I can only assume his half-sober "hosting from WWF New York" segment from a few months back didn't help his standing much as he joined in with the Good Time Gang.  
    Also on Hennig:  there is, according to readers who tuned into the "Bubba the Love Sponge" show, strange word of Hennig getting into a tussle with Brock Lesnar while on the flight back, something that escalated to the point where Triple H had to step in and try to break it up.  If that's true, it sounds like more of a contributing factor to Hennig's release than anything else would have been.  [However, since the source of that info was Hulk Hogan -- who at the time of the Europe tour was hitting WWF house shows in Florida -- it's still, at best, second-hand info.]
    Hennig, sadly, never got a chance to do what I thought he could do in the WWF:  use his experience and talent to ascend to an upper-mid-card slot where he could get one fitting farewell run in the spotlight where he could work and play well alongside the next generation of talent.  Not unlike the way Ron "Faarooq" Simmons has done the last few years.  Hennig's WWF return involved him being one part TV jobber and one part invisible.  Too bad.
    Hall, on the other hand, walked into a main event spot as part of the nWo, and may initially have been OVER-pushed (as Steve Austin's WM opponent).  But with the ring rust noticeably diminished in recent weeks, I can't be the only one who looked to Hall as the best combination of in-ring ability and box office drawing power in the nWo.  Now, the nWo is left with X-Pac's in-ring work, Nash's name appeal, and the Big Show's... well, with the Big Show, anyway.  Ric Flair isn't a full time wrestler and doesn't do a whole lot for the group's cache.
    There are some other stars who may be in the doghouse after their revelry in Europe, but this should be it for the firings. 
    There are a few names that not every source agrees upon, but among those that every seems to be talking about, Bradshaw and Michael Hayes are making the biggest waves.  For some unknown reason, Hayes and Bradshaw crossed paths earlier in the tour, and then when Hayes fell asleep on the flight back, he woke to find some of his hair cut off.  He apparently assumed Bradshaw responsible, though that's nothing one could confirm with any certainty.
    In any case, it sounds like the WWE-R crew enjoyed themselves -- perhaps a bit too much -- while overseas.  What might have been an understandable case of trying to sample some of the non-shitty non-US beer available in places like Germany (or some fine Scotch whisky in Glasgow) seems like it might have ballooned into something a bit out of hand.  Something that might well have led to immature and mean-spirited behavior that has left two guys sitting at home without jobs.
    As has been noted, it's especially perplexing that the behavior would get this outrageous given that the WWE-R crew was traveling with Jim Ross (Talent Development VP who has tons of clout in the hiring/firing process), as well as locker-room leaders Triple H and the Undertaker.  Normally, you'd assume that things like this could happen only in the absence of leadership, but that's not the case here.
    It's worth noting that on the WWE website, Hall's release was mentioned as a "mutual parting of the way," while Hennig was outright announced to have been released by WWE.  The subtle difference in tone could mean that while Hennig has burned his bridge, whatever Hall's offense was might have been one that left the door open for a return.  I don't know that for sure, but I'd guess JR will have a lot to say about it on Friday.
  • And so it was with all this background noise that WWE's RAW roster tried to put on a good show to kick off the New Name Era on Monday... and as if the mere fact of traveling across the ocean wasn't distracting enough, all these other factors may well have contributed to what I felt was a pretty weak show.
    Note that my major gripes aren't going to be about the Ric Flair heel turn.  Yes, it was telegraphed, and yes, I think it just a TAD more subtlety (especially last week when Lawler was all but proclaiming Flair as the newest nWo member) would have been better, the fact is, they threw a WHOLE BUNCH of mis-direction at us in the 2 hours leading up to the turn, which was enough to get me thinking, "Alright, they're gonna swerve us.  But how?"
    You know what I was thinking during the last commercial break (or more accurately, while fast-forwarding the last break)?  I had this convoluted scenario in which Nash's arrival and the fact that they STILL haven't let us forget about Kane would combine into a deal where the babyfaces seemed to be in big trouble in the six-man main event, and -- WHAM! -- Kane's music and pyro hits.  But when Kane -- strangely equipped with his mask and all -- comes to the ring, he helps the nWo!  In later weeks -- as we get closer to Kane's return from injury, it can be revealed that nWo Kane is actually Kevin Nash using the mask that X-Pac stole.  I actually thought all that through, and thus, was halfway surprised when the Ric Flair chairshot on Austin happened.
    It ain't the best heel turn ever, but it turned out OK.  Depending on how Flair explains it next Monday, it could still end up being very effective.
    My major complaints were more centered on the return of Stupid Heavy Machinery Skits, which even when performed well are lame in my book.  The fact that Hulk Hogan could not operate the Undertaker's bike only meant that what was already destined for a Thumbs Down plunged into the realm of the "almost laughably bad."  I don't know if it was a lack of practice or mechanical failure, but it was inexcusable that a main event Undisputed Title feud should (a) have to resort to motor cycles and semi-trucks, and (b) should come across this weakly on TV even if you DO resort to bikes and semis.
    I was already holding out hope that Taker and Hogan would be joined in the main event by HHH and Jericho to make it a more palatable 21st Century Style match...  the notion of Hogan and Taker one-on-one has me concerned enough for the PPV.  Having their feud be predicated on such shitty material is not helping.
    After that, the obvious "paint-by-numbers" style of booking displayed in the Spike/Regal, Lesnar/Stasiak, and Goldust/Booker situations didn't help.  The outright pointlessness of Terri and Molly in a bikini contest is tough to explain (aren't there faster, easier ways to get Terri in a thong, and more effective, more likely-to-end-in-a-good-wrestling-match ways to get Molly over as a heel?), too.
    It's also not necessarily a good thing when the most fun I had on the night was the big-ass women's title/hardcore title schmozz at the top of the show.  In substantial ways, it hasn't differed much from multi-title-change things that have happened on TV and house shows already.  But it was fast-paced and exciting, and it did go in a few unique directions.  The involvement of Trish after it switched over to a hardcore match was certainly a surprise, and she gets as much credit for taking a positively wicked table bump as she does for making such impressive strides in terms of in-ring ability.  That's one tough broad.  
    I fear that the Bubba/Trish storyline could be headed in a decidedly silly direction (they've already tried to turn Bubba into a dancin' machine, which I thought was lame... and now, didn't that final visual of Bubba carrying Trish off give you a "Beauty and the Bubba" vibe?), but for now, let's just focus on the good.
    The Bi-Coastal Man has got your full RAW results...  if you want 'em, just read the CRZ RAW Recap.
  • RAW's rating bounced back up a couple ticks this week.  The show was back to a 4.6, which is halfway back to where it had been for about a month previous to last week's 4.4.  If the majority of fans who tuned in on Monday were as left cold by the show as I was, I doubt we'll be seeing that number jump the rest of the way up to 4.8 next week...
  • If you've somehow missed them, Spoilers for the rest of the week are right here.
  • Tickets for June's King of the Ring PPV -- scheduled for June 23 in Columbus, OH -- go on sale Friday, May 31.  Ringside goes for $300, and the cheap seats'll be $29.  Thanks to OOMike (you know him from the Message Boards) for the heads-up on the on-sale date.
    Last time KotR was in Ohio, I was in my first year as an RSPW regular, and organized a crew of about a dozen fellow fans to attend the show.  Alas, I think my scope has expanded a bit in the ensuing years, and I don't want to be in charge of buying a block of hundreds of seats or anything this time 'round...  but assuming that my schedule permits me to get up to Columbus (and assuming plenty of you will be in attendance), would there be any interest in some sort of OO themed pre-show gathering?  I don't know what the parking lay-out is at the Nationwide Arena, but an out-door tailgating situation would be cool...
    We'll call this just an informal poll to gauge interest, so just let me know if maybe that'd be something you like the sound of.  You are under no obligation, there is no commitment to buy, and no salesman will ever visit you!
  • The World Wildlife Fund has responded to the World Wrestling Federation's name change...  and the pricks sound like somehow, they're not entirely pleased.  Hey assholes, you won!  Now shut up and go hug a panda.
    In a press release, a Fund spokesman was quoted as saying, "The World Wildlife Fund was expecting that they would opt for a more distinct name change that would put 'clear water' between our two organizations [...] We are still considering the implications of this move from the wrestling federation."
    The release goes on to state that the World Wrestling Federation's use of the "WWF" initials "tarnished the World Wildlife Fund's identity and the messages associated with it."  I don't mind saying that I find that to be a load of bullshit.  You show me one person who heard the wrestling WWF using those initials who had a sudden change of heart and decided the wildlife conservation is a less noble a goal because a wrestling federation is using those initials, and I'll show you a person who should probably be punched repeatedly in the sac until they develop a modicum of common sense.
    Let me, at this point, say that my diatribe on Monday about how no reasonable person could confuse the two WWFs, and therefore, how the two should be allowed to co-exist was met with a few stiff rebuttals.  While all agreed with my premise, it was pointed out to me that the Wildlife Fund was not arguing a copyright case, it was arguing a breach-of-contract case.  The World Wrestling Federation signed an agreement in 1994 that acknowledged possible confusion in the marketplace due to use of the WWF initials (and agreed to certain limitations on using it); the Wildlife Fund was simply taking the Fed to court because of the breach of that agreement.
    It was the opinion of those who wrote in that the Fed could easily have won the legal right to use the WWF initials on a copyright/intellectual property basis had they not admitted freely in the 1994 agreement that there was possible marketplace confusion.  The Fed was clearly in the wrong in the breach of contract case, however, and that's why we are where we are today.
    So there:  it's the Fed's fault for signing that agreement in 1994 when they should have fought to keep their name (note: this was at a time when Fed management had their hands full with another certain court case, if you recall).  But I'm still entitled to my opinion that the Wildlife Fund are sure coming off like a bunch of officious little pricks.  Especially with the comments in that latest press release.
    Nuff said.
  • By the way, fan response to the "Get the F Out" campaign has not been very positive at all.  I've gotten mail from a couple of websites that have proclaimed that they will KEEP referring to the "WWF," no matter what WWE says.  [Hey, kids, you better watch out for the Wildlife Fund's lawyers!]
    Also, at SD! tapings last night, one recapper noted that there was an audible "Bring Back the F" chant during the show.
    Me, mostly I'm miffed at the IDEA of change.  It's hard to break bad habits, and it's not just me, either.  Announcers had a hard time with it Monday, and JR was even out there wearing a shirt with the old WWF logo on it.  That's a difficulty we'll all face, though.
    But underlying the "inconvenience" factor, I do really have a dislike of the "World Wrestling Entertainment" name.  And my reason is simple.  It doesn't SOUND like a sanctioning body.  It's no longer THE WWF...  it's now WWE.  That last word should be a noun like "Association," or "Alliance," or "Federation."
    People talk about the NFL.  The NBA.  The NWA (to go back to wrestling's past).  Even boxing has the WBA, the IBF, and so on.  But nobody talks about "the MLB"; it's always just "baseball."  Wrestling fans kind of got use to that with WCW... but even then, a lot of people awkwardly referred to it as "the WCW."  So far, I've been paying attention, and there are not any mentions to "the WWE" by WWE.  And since, unlike baseball, WWE is not going to ever let us refer to it simply as "wrestling" (because that's a naughty word that doesn't emphasize the ENTERTAINMENT), we're headed down the same awkward road as WCW.
    Except it's even worse because all of us are still THINKING "the WWF" even when we type "WWE." [And yes, I can say that because I was too young to really give a damn when "the NWA" became "WCW."  At the very least, I wasn't using the acronyms in thrice-weekly columns and didn't have to break any deep-seated habits!]
    I think I'm gonna try to use "the Fed" when referring to WWE sometimes, if only to ease the transition.  I'm not breaking any laws, and it'll limit the number of times my fingers have to battle my brain to type "WWE."  And plus, it just sounds cooler than "WWE."
  • Fans at a weekend UWC show up in Akron, OH, were treated to an unexpected outburst from Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler...
    Sexay -- who had been tardy to some promotional appearances during the day leading up to the show, but was eventually cordial while interacting with fans -- was booked to be pinned by Danny Doring in the three way main event match for the UWC Title (that way, champion "Pumper" could claim that he lost his title without being pinned, setting up future matches).
    Instead, partway through the match, Sexay attacked the referee, and got on a house mic to announce that he didn't want the belt and that the two "jabronies" in the ring could fight for it.  He then walked out of the match.
    At first blush, it almost sounded to me like a plausible way for Sexay to be booked into a "shoot style" angle that would allow him to keep his credibility as a former WWF superstar, while still granting the "rub" to Doring and Pumper.  But UWC announcer Keith Young e-mailed me about the show, and added that the drama extended backstage, where Sexay returned to get his things from the lockerroom, only to get roughed up, so it could be a real case of bona fide unprofesionalism.  [Sexay claimed a "dislocated elbow" from the scuffle.]
  • That's it for today.  See you again on Friday... and in the interim, be sure to come on back tomorrow for a new feature from Scott Keith and more!


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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