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Austin Opens the Wrong Can of Whoop-Ass,
And Other Monday News...
June 17, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This entire Austin Saga grows weirder and weirder...  or maybe sadder and sadder is the more appropriate label at this point.  Let's get on with covering it, and then moving on to the more usual business of doing a RAW preview and talking about some other news:
  • San Antonio's NBC affiliate -- KMOL-4 -- aired a story on Saturday that Steve Williams, known to all of us as Steve Austin, was involved in a domestic disturbance at his home northwest of San Antonio.
    Police arrived at his home after he had fled the scene.  Debra alleges that Austin struck her in the face and back, and further said that his is not the first time this has happened.  Police were given a description of Austin, including distinctive tattoos, though it didn't necessarily sound like Austin faced apprehension and arrest.  KMOL's report indicated a complaint had been filed, but that does not mean that charges will be brought.
    No other San Antonio media outlets have picked up on this story, though it remains a top item on KMOL's website -- at www.kmol.com. WWE itself has not yet publicly commented on the situation (as they did Austin's walk-out last week), and terse quotes from Jim Ross and Vince McMahon that accompany the KMOL news item are actually taken from "Confidential" (and those interviews were conducted BEFORE news of this domestic disturbance broke, and thus probably don't belong, in context, with news of the incident).  
    According to an e-mail report, KMOL's initial story included word that Austin was contacted by police on his cell phone, and refused to return to his home, though that is no longer a part of KMOL's as-published account.  Reading between the lines of Austin's flight and refusal to return, one might presume that Austin's whereabouts remain unknown.  That's kind of an unsettling thought, given his apparently erratic frame of mind.
    I will say this: for all my cynicism last week, it now looks a lot more like this Austin/WWE saga is all very real, and now has expanded to involve Debra as another victim of Austin's anomalous behavior.  Working a storyline to fool a San Antonio TV station would be one thing (hey, did you hear the one about how a paper in China reprinted an "Onion" story as if it were real?), but aren't there legal ramifications associated with playing with real cops filing real police reports?
    And in any case, what storyline could possibly justify portraying Austin as a wife-beater and a whiny bitch of an employee?  I thought we'd established that Austin as a heel just doesn't work that well...  and now, with all this poor behavior by Austin out in the open, anything less than a perfectly orchestrated bit of storytelling with a disgruntled Austin somehow crashing and effectively disrupting a live RAW would render the entire effort worthless, anyway.  I mean, you would want to stop short of having Austin perched somewhere with a sniper rifle, picking off his ex-coworkers, but you'd want something pretty intense and done with all the "little things" right (no conveniently located Magic Cameras to pick up the action, instant cuts to commercials if something goes "wrong," maybe even ending the show early and re-running last week's "Confidential" or something, you know what I'm talking about...).
    But I digress...  it's like I said:  at this point, the scope of this whole thing has expanded, and even to me, it seems less likely to be a wrestling angle.  Given the turn it's taken, I kinda wish it was, but even my cynicism has bounds.  I guess I'll file this one under "Sometimes Truth Really IS Stranger Than Fiction," and go along with the WWE party line until they give me reason to think otherwise.
  • A few e-mails seem to indicate that if I'd seen "Confidential" on Saturday night, that might be all the reason I'd have needed to maintain cynicism...  but alas, I have a feeling there were a certain bride and groom who'd have been a bit disappointed in me if I'd disappeared in the middle of their reception to go back to my room to watch wrestling, so I didn't see it.
    And what's more:  while the way the Austin material was presented on Confidential led many to REAFFIRM their suspicion that his is somehow all a storyline, it's important (once again) to point out that that show was conceived of, taped, and edited before word of the latest chapter in the Austin story broke.  You probably watched it with Austin's domestic disturbance in the forefront of your mind, and that gives the comments from Vince and JR a whole new (and I'm guessing utterly inappropriate) context.
    Here's a couple things from Jim Ross:  "Bottom line is, heís got some issues that maybe someday will be revealed, maybe someday will really be explored by the public because thatís what the public wants. [...] This is a very unique business, I think maybe sometimes the things that go on behind the scenes are more intriguing and more thought provoking than what we broadcast. I donít know what his problems are [...] And Iím not big on psychiatrists, getting on the couch time, Iíve gotta have a sabbatical, and Iíve gotta have time, and all that bullshit. [...] You donít just turn your back and say I wonít do this and go home. Maybe someday the real story is going to come out as to why he made this decision. Only he knows." 
    And now from Vince: "I have no idea what could possibly motivate him to walk off the job like a child, take his ball and go home. Iím angry about it. [...] The door is not open for him to return, and Iíll tell you why. Because again, I have a responsibility to our stock holders, a responsibility to our fans, and I too have to look in the mirror. [...] how could I trust that man to come back, to build him up again, then what, just so he can walk out for a third time? So I never say never in this business, but I donít know how I could do business with him."
    Especially in the case of JR's comments, he seems to be cryptically talking about deep-seated psychological problems with Austin, ones that might manifest themselves in the form of abuse against one's wife.  But again, that's an interpretation that you can only make with the added benefit of knowing what happened this weekend (something JR himself didn't know at the time of the interview).  Vince's comments echo that to a lesser degree, as he wonders what the real motivation for Austin could be.
    I also wonder if some people aren't being swayed by the way JR made comments about the real "story" (a word you don't want to use in front of wrestling fans trying to sniff out a "work the smarts" campaign), and also his meta-comments acknowledging that sometimes fans get more interested in behind the scenes things than the actual storylines presented on TV.  Vince's comments about Austin not being welcome back also suggest more of a storyline bravado than real life business sense to fans who are aware that Vince never really closes any door if he thinks he can make money.  As has been said countless times, hell freezes over with great regularity in pro wrestling, but Vince's comments about Austin not being welcome back seem to preclude an understanding of the phenomenon.  And you know it's an understanding he has, so why is he ignoring it?
    But again, it's hard to look at these comments from Saturday night without considering new information that has come to light, and that's probably the main contributing factor to why people think "Confidential" points strongly to this being an elaborate work:  because quotes from Vince and JR take on added meaning if you put them into a context in which they don't belong.
    Hey, that's part of the fun, though, right?  I doubt Vince and the gang give a damn what you're thinking about this situation as long as you're thinking about it, talking about it, and reading (or in my case, writing) about it obsessively.  Which, it seems like, a lot of us are.
  • Here's something more to read, talk, and think about...
    A copy of the police report has been made available on the internet.  It offers little new that the KMOL report didn't already mention, except to say that Austin actually had cell phone contact with police TWICE after the incident.  As reported, he declined to return home to be interviewed about the incident, though when informed that he would be contacted by other detectives following the assault, he was quite polite and said he understood.
    A note:  Steve Austin/Steve Williams is not named in the report, as TheSmokingGun.com indicates his name was redacted from the report pending a finalized report.  But from the responding officer's "Details of Event" narrative, it's clear that Steve Austin is the suspect (SP1) being referred to.
    CRZ's sent me a link to the report on SlashWrestling.com, but I'm currently getting an error message when I try it.  But The Smoking Gun's copy is readily available, so I'll point you to http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/stonecold1.html if you're the type who wants to read the police report for yourself.
  • Last bit on the Austin thing is just a quick booster plug for EC's Byte This recap, which in addition to having Chris Benoit and Edge for guests, talks a ton about the Austin situation.  Of interest to you might be Kevin Kelly's take on how talking about things like this out in the open is part of the new WWE philosophy of giving fans the "real story."
    But, the internet pundit added ominously, that's exactly what I'd EXPECT him to say if he was part of the "new work."   [Cue the dramatic music...]
  • OK, so let's talk about RAW tonight...  having sufficiently covered the absence of Steve Austin from the proceedings, let's get on to what will actually happen.
    First thing:  King of the Ring tourney matches.  They've actually shuffled the bracketing from what you'd expect, and tonight's quarterfinals will see X-Pac taking on Rob Van Dam, while Brock Lesnar takes on Booker T.  I'd figured we'd do Booker/X-Pac and RVD/Brock based on the order previous round matches were presented and based on the presence of existing storylines to support both those matches.  Instead, we've got this combination, which is fine with me, too:  both matches should be very good, wrestling-wise, and due to the aforementioned existing storylines for a couple of different possible semifinal pairings, the outcomes are not completely obvious.
    Although maybe I speak too soon.  It seems Lesnar is on tap to rapidly become a huge part of the RAW brand, and I'd be shocked to see him lose.  Unfortunately, I believed Booker had the most to gain by becoming King, so it makes it tough to look at Lesnar advancing as a foregone conclusion...  still presuming Lesnar is gonna go on, that makes RVD the logical winner over X-Pac.  Gotta maintain heel/face balance, right?  [Actually, that might NOT be necessary, as I'll touch on the KotR bracketing a bit later.]
    The other big thing:  Ric Flair is going to become, at least temporarily, a top in-ring babyface for the RAW brand.  Word is that he'll be plugged into a lot of the matches/stories planned for Austin.  That means a feud with Eddie Guerrero in the short term, and then, in about 2 weeks, picking up a feud with Chris Benoit.  A trade with the SD! brand for another top fan favorite (or a possible face turn by Benoit) remain longer-term options.
    Should be a pretty interesting show, even if just based on these two main issues.  There is also, simmering just under the surface, the matter of just what Paul Heyman mean when he told Vince McMahon last week that he had a "big idea" for KotR, and how that might play into these other storylines (it almost seems like Lesnar/Flair would be an option for a feud at this point, too, though like I said above, Flair/Eddie is what most people are talking about as the likely scenario, now).
    We'll have full coverage of RAW's happenings here tomorrow, including, as always, CRZ's detailed recap.
  • Last week's final rating for SD! turned out to be a 3.6.  That's up a third of a point from the previous week, so there's some positive news there...  along with the recent gains for RAW, it looks like WWE is again fending off complete ratings disintegration with another mini-rally.
  • WWE has officially acknowledged last week's word that Diamond Dallas Page has decided to retire.  In a recent injury update, DDP's retirement from the ring is mentioned in an almost casual off-hand way, as it's said that he is now looking forward to a lengthy career as a WWE broadcaster.
    Page has come full circle....
  • I know I mentioned Confidential at length above, but the Austin stuff was only half the reason why people seemed to enjoy this week's show.  The other was the heavy dose of Bobby Heenan...
    Heenan is currently battling throat cancer, and has been given an 80% chance of making a full recovery.  He was in very good spirits for a man who hasn't taken a solid meal in over six months, and talked at length about the fun he had working for the old WWF and with Gorilla Monsoon.  Comments from other stars were thrown in, as were come classic Heenan moments from "Prime Time Wrestling" and elsewhere.
    Of course, you can also get lots more on Heenan in Denny Burkholder's weekend edition of Circa.
  • The Rock made his (one-night-only) return to the WWE wrestling ring on Saturday night in Honolulu, Hawaii...  he defeated Chris Jericho in the main event of the sold-out show.
    In addition to tons of the Rock's family from his mom's side, Bruce Willis was among the luminaries in attendence at ringside.  Rock dedicated the match to his grandfather, the late High Chief Peter Maivia.  The crowd ate it up.
    The local papers played the Rock's "home coming" up big time...  but amidst the hype, there was also a kernal of new information:  the Rock is attached to a new Sony Pictures in which he'd play Hawaiian King Kamehameha in a dramatized story of Kamehameha's life.
    Where this fits among the Rock's plans for his next film ("Helldorado") and a planned Scorpion King sequel is unknown.
    By the way, last week, I shot down the rumors that Rock would be back in WWE in time for SummerSlam by saying "early fall" was a more likely timetable.  That was also incorrect, however.  Filming on "Helldorado" is slated to begin in about 2 months, now, and will carry the Rock over to late autumn, at the very earliest.  Survivor Series might be an optimistic return date for Rocky...  Royal Rumble might be more likely.
    In the interim (i.e. before shooting on the next movie begins), it might not be completely out of the question that the Rock might be pressed into emergency service by WWE, especially given the void created by Austin's walk-out.  Though drafted by SD!, he could easily be shifted over to the RAW brand for a brief run, given Vince McMahon's newfound 100% ownership of the entire company...
  • I touched on this very briefly above, and now want to amplify my comments about not necessarily having one heel and one face advance in tonight's KotR tourney matches....  that's because WWE has shuffled the brackets so that both PPV semifinal matches will be RAW vs. SD! contests.  So another option could be two faces advancing tonight, with two heels going over on SD (or vice versa).
    Here's the way thinks break down:  the winner of RVD/X-Pac faces the winner of Jericho/Valbowski in one semifinal.  The winner of Lesnar/Booker faces the winner of Test/Hardcore Holly in the other.  Actually, now that I look at that again, the top part of the bracket seems a lock for RVD/Jericho as one semi, while the bottom is a total crapshoot with either Test or Holly as the designated jobber for either Lesnar or Booker.
    The way I'd do it at this point:  have Flair somehow screw Lesnar out of his match tonight on RAW.  That way Lesnar is freed up to participate in a higher profile thing as part of a Vince/Heyman partnership, while Booker can then advance to the finals (where I'd put him over Jericho).
  • While the Rock was drawing headlines by main eventing a special show in Hawaii for the SD! brand, the SD! house show on Sunday night in Anaheim, CA, was notable for another out-of-the-ordinairy appearance.
    On the house show co-headlined by HHH/Jericho and Hogan/Angle, Rey Misterio Jr. made his WWE debut, defeating Chavo Guerrero Jr. in a very good contest.  Rey wrestled in his 1996-era get-up, full mask and all, which is sort of an interesting development.
    Expect Misterio -- mask and all, I guess -- to show up on TV soon to bolster the ever-expanding Cruiserweight roster on SmackDown!.
  • Hey, I've plugged enough other OO columns today that I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Roger Hayden's latest E3W Fantasy Wrestling column.  It's been tremendous throughout, but I think a lot of you will get a kick out of this week's west coast flavored edition.  All I'm gonna say is this:  Shaq.  CRZ.  Arco Arena.
    It's not the stuff Roger's using to sell his fantasy PPVs, but you folks will find it damn funny!  Check it out here.
  • I think that's (finally!) it for me today....  I'm probably forgetting a few things, but that's what happens when a shitload goes down during a weekend when I'm away from my computer:  notes pile up, and then I do a shoddy job of sifting through them on Monday.
    That's why I'll be back on Wednesday with a full report (including TV spoilers, assuming I can get some help from SOMEbody out there on the left coast?  Again, I say:  CRZ.  ARCO Arena.)...  and if anything of import breaks before then, well, that's what The Ticker's for.
    See you kids later!


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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