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The Three R's: RAW Preview, Russo
News, and the Ross Recap... 
July 8, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


If going into a long holiday weekend meant a slow-down, news-wise, then coming back out of it sure hasn't seen business pick up.  Still, I'll try to make sure you're fully up to speed on the important things as we launch yet another week of rasslin'-style fun:
  • In stark contrast to last week, the key selling points of RAW and SmackDown! THIS week will have little to do with set-in-stone wrestling matches...  there's no Taker/Hardy ladder match, and no Taker/Angle title match to look forward to.  The hype this time 'round is more for storyline elements.
    For instance, on Thursday, the Rock will be making his Temporary Full-Time Return to SD... and tonight, I think I'd be lying if I said there was anything more interesting than the promise of Triple H in the nWo on tap for RAW.
    By the way, you can read whatever you want into that last sentence...
    Everybody's all a-titter because "it makes no sense" for HHH (a SD! performer) to join the nWo (a RAW faction)... but alas, there are myriad ways around that.  The simplest would just be to have Vince McMahon shuffle the rosters around now that he's 100% owner again.  Or, you could do "factionalize" the nWo in a way that makes a lot more sense than "Wolfpac vs. Hollywood" ever did.  Once the nWo gets up to full strength (and here, I'm thinking that you need to add both HHH and a debuting Scott Steiner to make it really work), Vince could force them to divide up into two squads... Nash and Steiner go on one show, HHH and X-Pac on the other (Big Show can be totally written out as far as I'm concerned, and then Shawn Michaels -- since he's a spokesman and not a wrestler -- can bounce between BOTH shows), and bingo, you end up with an nWo that is the perfect size: big enough to straddle two shows, but now so big it becomes a joke like the circa 1998 nWo was.
    Personally, I'm a big fan of the idea of turning HHH heel again.  I suspect that if he'd had his druthers, HHH would never have worked as a babyface earlier this year, but circumstances (his injury and valiant recovery) made it impossible for people to boo him.  Well, now the honeymoon's over, and I say it's time for the Game to go back to doing what he does best:  acting like a despicable asshole.  The RAW brand, in particular, could probably use something like that:  Undertaker -- for whatever reason -- just has failed to really click as a heel, and I have no idea how long Paul Heyman will be able to keep eliciting boos on Brock Lesnar's behalf.  The two most effective heels on the entire roster -- Kurt Angle and Chris Jericho -- are both on SD!...
    Speaking of Taker, his agenda tonight is unclear...  he's got till Thursday night before he has to decide how his feud with the Rock is going to fit in with his new found tweener status.  Which means he could either keep building up his likeable streak by befriending Jeff Hardy again... or he could re-establish his bad-assitude in preparation for facing down the Rock.  Don't know, probably don't really care, either, since whatever Taker's up to tonight is just a place-holder till they can get on with continuing the build-up to a multi-way title match starting on Thursday night.
    Assuming I'm not the only one noticing that the RAW heels are lacking, I find myself hoping that the powers that be have identified the same candidates as I have to help fill that void:  Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero.  The Fed seems reticent to push them all the way to the top level mix (as they've done already with Lesnar), but either as a unit or on their own, both Eddie and Benoit have got the tools to be as effective a villain as anyone on the RAW roster.  Things like last week's beatdown of the Dudleys are a good start, but the fact that it came AFTER they'd lost a match to them sort of prevents it from being the sort of angle that catapults one to the next level.  I still think this has got to be heading towards a Bubba/Flair vs. Benoit/Eddie tag match, and maybe by working with Flair, Benoit and Eddie will see their stars rise (and hey, Bubba's, too!).
    Check out RAW tonight, or just come on back to OO on Tuesday for full coverage...
  • For a guy who I vaguely remember swore he'd never work in Sports Entertainment again, Vince Russo sure does get around...
    I had heard he was backstage at last Wednesday's NWA-TNA event, and of course, also heard the rampant speculation that such an appearance would engender.  But I didn't think much of it.
    Turns out, there is a bit of a backstory here, and there is a lot of potential for a developing story, too... cribbing some notes from The Torch and 1Wrestling, I can tell you that Russo was backstage, and was accompanied by Disco Inferno.  This takes on added significance because, according to those other sources, Disco had been telling friends he was going to be joining the WWE creative team a few weeks ago (presumably aided by his friend, Russo).
    Since that time, Russo's been re-assigned in a purely advisory capacity by WWE, unable to push through his proposed storylines, and even less capable of getting a job for his buddy, Disco.
    Their appearance together at the NWA-TNA event last week, thus, is being taken as a sign that they still hope to work together, and don't really care where.  It's doubtful that WWE would raise much of a stink if Russo decided he wanted to leave his post with them to join NWA-TNA, so that wouldn't be an issue...
    Unless....  I seem to remember a few years ago, the conspiracy theorists postulated that Vince Russo didn't really split off from the WWF:  he was actually being sent down by Vince McMahon to bring WCW down from the inside.  Well, less than 2 years after Russo left for WCW, David Arquette had enjoyed a lengthy reign as WCW champion, and the company was in such dire financial straits that Vince McMahon was able to buy them up.  Conspiracy or coincidence?
    And now, about a month after the Vinces opened up a dialogue with one another, Vince R. once again appears to be on the outs with Vince McM...  and ready to head to a rival PPV organization!  I tell you, if NWA-TNA hires Russo and he subsequently unseats Toby Keith as the NWA World Champion, putting the company out of business by year's end, I think the conspiracists just might have a point...
    Or maybe not...
  • Jim Ross didn't take the holiday weekend off (although some of his co-horts did, as we'll talk about a bit later on), and did file a WWE.com column on Friday...
    Newswise, the chief item was probably just a word of caution to fans who think that Scott Steiner or Goldberg are at all close to debuting on WWE TV.  Ross notes that there has been no forward progress with either, and that it's been several weeks since the last phone conversations on the subject.  So again, that is where things stand:  mutual interest, but no pen ready to be put to paper, yet.
    Beyond that, there was the usual injury update:  Kevin Nash has been medically cleared to wrestle (current plans are for him to get back in the ring at this weekend's house shows, but I guess he's technically available for RAW tonight, if they want him)...  Perry Saturn should also be cleared very soon...  X-Pac had an inflamed nerve last week on RAW, but should be ready to go tonight for RAW...  Kanyon is apparently just about ready to go, and JR wonders which roster he'll end up on...  HHH is 3-4 weeks away from being 100%, which puts the initial prognosis of him being ready to perform at Vengeance in some question...  both Kane (biceps) and Maven (leg) should be cleared to return within a month's time...  road agent Dave Hebner had major knee surgery, and will be off the road for a few months; his duties will be handled by a returning Tim White (who has been at home following shoulder surgery, and who is still unable to perform his usual referee duties for a few more months)...
    On the announcing front, JR said that Tazz's in-ring days are numbered, and that his full-time future appears to be in broadcasting..  also:  Dallas Page's future is also behind the mic, but he's not ready to commit to the weekly schedule just yet.
  • In observance of the holiday weekend, WWE did give some folks a bit of a break...  "Byte This" did not happen on Friday, and to ease the burden on production staff, Saturday's edition of "Confidential" was a repeat from about a month ago.  Some much deserved time off for all involved.
  • Remember Chris Jericho's internet outburst 2 weeks ago?  Well, Lance Storm -- another Canadian who also pens his own internet commentary every now and again -- has chimed in with his thoughts on Jericho's comments and the 'net in general.
    I guess it's possible Jericho and Storm have got a little game of good cop/bad cop going, with us all as the hapless patsies... but I'll choose to adopt a less cynical approach, and say that Storm adds an interesting dimension to the debate:  that it's fair to have opinions and to speak them, but that you then have to be willing to take the backlash when somebody else wants to voice an opinion different from yours.  Specifically, in the realm of wrestling, there is also an issue of making qualified, constructive criticisms from a fan's point of view versus simply being a mark for the idea of seeing your comments in print.
    Check out the commentary right here.
    By the way, mentioning Storm's reactionary piece is my way of keeping the furor swirling for another week, since I do believe Jericho is slated to face the internet music this coming Friday on Byte This...
  • Thanks to those who filled me in on Ed Ferrera's politically incorrect joke at the Special Olympics' expense...  and for those who, like me, wanted to know what was so awful that it demanded a public apology, it was apparently something along the lines of Ferrera talking about Ken Shamrock having to face Malice, and saying, "Even if he wins, it's still like running in the Special Olympics; you're still retarded."
    Eh, I've heard more tasteless, but if it got people's panties into a bunch, than sure, playing it safe and making a big apology is probably the right move. 
    Still, I gotta wonder about a hyper-sensitive society in which Ed Ferrera is forced into a public apology for a joking comment made while in character, but in which I could probably -- without a whit of humor and without adopting an "online persona" -- get away with positing that "The Special Olympics are a worthless waste of time and money" under the guise of spirited debate.  I say quit wasting time weaseling apologies out of decent people who make (or laugh at) off-hand jokes in bad taste and start trying to weed out the jackasses who actually have deeply-held convictions that are in bad taste!
    And yes, this socio-political tangent has been brought to you by The Corporation for Fact That I'm Out of Material for Today.  Thank you, drive through....
  • OK, so I'm outta here for now.  As is custom, I implore anybody attending this week's WWE TV tapings to pass along an e-mail report...  that way, I can get full spoilers for Heat, Velocity, and SmackDown! posted promptly on Wednesday.
    I'll see you all 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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