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Weekend NewsBites, Plus KotR PPV Preview!
June 21, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Just as we did last month, the Friday-before-a-PPV edition of OO will be a column in two parts...  first, some news.  Then second, a quick preview of what to look for at the King of the Ring.


  • Just when you thought things couldn't get more bizarre...  Vince Russo is back on the WWE creative team.
    The announcement was made early yesterday, and the thinking is that Russo will be back on the job almost immediately.  After some initial confusion over exactly what his role would be, it appears that the final story is this:  Russo will not, precisely, be a part of either of the RAW or SD! creative teams, but will hover above them (at the Steph level, I guess), concocting ideas and helping to polish both brands.  He will not have any sort of grand power over the entire product, but he's also not gonna be just another writer.
    In my opinion, that's probably just about the perfect role.  Vince Russo on his own during some of WCW's darkest days seemed like he might have lost perspective; but the Vince Russo who contributed to a creative effort where someone else had the final veto power was one of the most influential (and entertaining) writers of wrestling's late 90's boom era.
    Russo is a guy who polarizes most fans:  you either love him or hate him.  Myself, I never met the man, and limit my opinion to his work.  And like all of us, he's done good stuff, and some bad stuff.  He walks into this situation well-positioned to do more good than bad, I think.  If nothing else, even his staunchest critics need to grant that his re-hiring by WWE represents a sincere desire to shake things up, something you've been begging for.
    What do I want to see Russo do?  Come up with ways to connect some of the fresh, young talent on the roster with the audience; character-building is something he's done well before.  And then, give them interesting storylines to participate in.  What don't I want to see?  Stupid soap-opera BS vignettes that makes my friends say, "Why the hell are you watching this retarded shit?" when they catch me on Mondays or Thursdays.
    I know my chances of multiple 10 minute matches on TV has probably taken a hit...  but my chances of being entertained despite that?  Well, let's just wait and see.
    Another aspect of this will be how Russo interfaces with certain WWE personalities.  He's probably got heat with Jim Ross.  He can't be on Hulk Hogan's Christmas list, either.  And Ric Flair, too...  in this business, if you can help the company make money, a lot is forgiven, though.  
  • Not got enough Russo?  A former associate of mine passed along an old interview he did with Russo, and I've re-published it today, since I think it's very timely in a two-years-old sort of way.  In it, Russo talks at length about his idea of entertaining the audience and what goes into that.  He also talks about the creative stagnation of the WWF at the time (something that could probably be amplified a hundred times in the present day), and even has some choice words for JR.
    Check it out right here.
  • Last night's SD! did a 4.4 overnight rating.  A final rating will be available over the weekend, and I'll be sure to include it in Monday's column.
  • No word on the buyrate for Wednesday's NWA-TNA PPV yet...  but live attendance was said to be less than 4000 with over half of those who showed up getting in for free.
    Next week's show was also taped, and will of course feature a Scott Hall vs. Jeff Jarrett main event.  Brian Christopher/Lawler vs. K-Krush, the Lingerie Battle Royal, and the beginnings of a tournament in the very-intriguing "X Division" are also on tap.
  • Lastly, some perhaps good news:  Jim Ross was quoted in a recent article as saying that Steve Austin and Debra have "reconciled and are working things out."  Austin did return home on Monday, so this isn't really that big a surprise.  Still, it's good to hear that cooler heads are prevailing...
    At present time, Debra is not intending to press charges in the matter, meaning that police involvement in the case is done.
  • Actually, one more thing, but this has nothing to do with wrestling:  if anyone out there is familiar with the "Road Runner" brand of high speed internet access -- specifically with how to get two PCs hooked up to the single cable modem -- I'd love it if you could drop me a line.  I'm no computer moron, and I even made sure I was getting the right stuff (router, etc) at Best Buy, but I cannot get this damn thing to work right.
    Rick@OnlineOnslaught.com if you can help.  Thanks.



Well, the "good" news is that Time Warner Cable in my area has finally completely give up on analog service, which means I've been forced to upgrade to digital, which means I can get PPVs at my own house.  This month, the bad news is that I'd intended to be live in Columbus, OH, for the King of the Ring, but I'm working till 7-ish on Sunday, so that's right out the window.

The things I do to be the best damned umpire in the metro Dayton area...  I swear.

But even if I can't be there live, nothing's gonna stop me from seeing this show on TV.  And then recapping it immediately afterwards for all you fine folks.  Be sure to come on back to OO around midnight or so for the full report.

And in that report, here are the matches you can look forward to seeing the results of:

  • Undertaker vs. Triple H (Undisputed Title) -- Frankly, this is the PPV main event with the least sizzle that I can remember.  The storyline pitting these two against each other was pedestrian, and on top of that, there isn't all that great a likelihood of this developing into an outstanding wrestling match.  Sledgehammer this, sneak attack that, blah, blah, blah, and you've got Taker/HHH for the strap.  Hopefully, we'll get back to where we were before the Hogan Deviation:  with the title on HHH.  Taker just doesn't cut it as a heel champ, and I think RAW could use HHH's star power in the short term.
    Prediction:  HHH goes over, which makes sense since they've installed the "King gets the SummerSlam title shot" stip, and the leading candidates for that role are both heels.
  • Kurt Angle vs. Hulk Hogan -- It'll probably mean another black mark on my Smark Report Card, but I think this has all the makings of a show-stealer.  Yes, and Hulk Hogan's in the match.  First off, the storyline leading up to the match has been that perfect blend of goofy comedy and genuine hostility that works so well for Angle.  Secondly, Angle's just a tremendous worker and is capable of making this match very watchable.  And lastly, Hogan himself hasn't been this entertaining in years; his superhero comeback will pop the crowd big-time, especially given how good Angle is at playing the heel.  Mock me if you will, but even with two other very promising matches on the as-announced card, this might be the one I'm most looking forward to.
    Prediction:  the way the storyline's played out, it seems like we should see Angle get the win here.  Both guys kind of "need" to win (they both dropped their last PPV match), though.  It's a toss-up, but I'll take a total flyer on Hogan getting the win.
  • King of the Ring Tournament -- In all of recorded history, you'd think that only Triple H, Kurt Angle, and Steve Austin ever won the Crown, since that's who most frequently gets mentioned when announcers want to hype the "career-making" aspect of the tourney.  But there have been some flops, too.  Luckily, this year, I don't anticipate another Billy Gunn or King Mabel... we've got a good foursome (well, threesome plus Test) to work with here.
    Chris Jericho vs. Rob Van Dam:  This is probably one of the more conventional picks for "show stealer."  You've definitely got two incredible talents in the ring, but since this'll be an early-show contest, I suspect it might get clipped, timewise.  But what we get should be outstanding.  Prediction:  Gotta go with RVD (since Lesnar's gotta go over Test, and you don't want an all-heel finals), and I'll go you one further and guess that some sort of shady officiating plays into the finish, continuing the "refs-screwing-Canadians" theme we've seen in recent weeks.
    Brock Lesnar vs. Test:  Nothing against Test, but this is no contest.  Between Lesnar's look and Heyman's mouth, he's living up to the "Next Big Thing" moniker.  Meanwhile, Test still hasn't found a comfortable niche to settle into, gimmick-wise.  He's just that always-promising big man who can probably provide a few minutes of plausible competition for Lesnar.  Prediction:  Lesnar gets the win, with the only drama being whether or not he needs help from Heyman to do it.
    KotR Finals:  By my logic, we'll come down to an all-RAW Lesnar/RVD final match.  It makes double sense, since the two actually sort of do have some history, as they were involved in a tag match against each other a few weeks back.  Should be a good in-ring match, with RVD's high risk against Lesnar's power arsenal, too.  Prediction:  RVD, as IC Champ, has less to gain by winning the crown, so let's go with Lesnar.  Then, if fans are really buying into Lesnar as a wrecking machine, you can do an angle where Lesnar demands in IC Title match against RVD next month on PPV, preceeding his Undisputed Title shot at SummerSlam.
  • Ric Flair vs. Eddie Guerrero -- Another of the matches that fans more level-headed than me are really looking forward to, I bet...  with the departure of Steve Austin, Eddie's shot at a top level PPV match disappeared.  So they turned that real-life disappointment into a storyline, in which Eddie blamed Flair for Austin leaving, and therefore, for Eddie losing a big time match on PPV.  Instant feud, instant replacement match for Eddie, and lots of promise for both action AND drama (remember, Chris Benoit's probably going to be lurking around... and what was the purpose of flashing four fingers last week?).
    Prediction:  Flair's first chance for a straight-up PPV WRESTLING match (after having a few brawl-centric "Sports Entertainment Segments" at Rumble and Mania) is probably going to end up being a loss for the the Nature Boy.  Eddie needs this win to legitimize himself as a viable heel, and he'll have Benoit at ringside to help him do it.
  • What of the Rock?  The Rock promised to be at KotR, though as yet, no role has been established for him.  Might the Fed just have him come out and confront the winner of the title match?  Or the King of the Ring?  Or might they go full out and come up with some fabricated reason for the Rock to wrestle a match against an as-yet-unnamed opponent?  I don't know, but if you're a Rock fan, you'll probably want to tune in to find out.
  • Hurricane vs. Jamie Knoble (Cruiserweight Title Match) -- These two are familiar foes, dating back to the latter days of WCW... but my how the gimmicks have changed.  Both guys are a lot more "marketable" now, which might mean crowd interest above and beyond "ohhhhs" and "ahhs" for death-defying high-flying.  I don't expect they'll be given enough time to really blow us away, but what we get here oughta be good.  
    Prediction:  Knoble wins, and Nidia's the difference maker.  Might another masked superhero be the next challenger?
  • Trish Stratus vs. Molly Holly (Women's Title) -- This is a feud about Molly's rump.  Molly says she doesn't like the divas parading around like whores.  Trish says Molly's just jealous because Molly has a big ass.  Molly opens up a can of whoop-ass and pins Trish in a non-title match.  With Molly as a very good worker and Trish's constant improvement, the only thing that could ruin this match is if Jerry Lawler acts like a total ass on commentary.  King, please, just an OUNCE of discretion with the big butt jokes.
    Prediction:  Let's give the title to Molly, since Trish seems to have run through the roster of viable contenders.  This way, you can just put her back on the chase for the title without having to resort to recycling challengers.

That's it, the as-announced card...  it stands at eight matches plus the nebulous "Return of the Rock."  As always, there remains a shitload of unbooked talent who could be thrown into a match or two for Heat, or who might even get to wrestle a bonus match on the PPV itself.
Whatever happens, remember you can get all the details here at OO around midnight or so on Sunday night.  Then on Monday, we'll add additional coverage, including Scott's PPV Rant and more.

See you then...


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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