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RAW Stuff, plus Hart, Ventura, and
Nash Health Updates and More!
July 10, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Before I get started today with the wrestling stuff (which you can jump to if you just scroll down to the first bullet point), let me say this: I am a baseball fan.  I can ignore the steroid issue, just like I did with rasslin' (at least till guys start dying).  I can naively hope that all this talk of another strike will be averted when cooler heads prevail.  But I can also totally see why some fans are turned off by the game, and last night's All Star Game is just another straw being placed on the over-taxed camel's back.

Do I want to play the game until somebody gets hurt and can't continue with his usual team?  Of course not...  but I'd like for just one of these spineless TV commentators to point out that these 30 guys got picked to come PLAY A GAME, not conduct a surgical strike in Afghanistan, or something.  Fans are already turned off by the fact that players want to strike because averaging $2 million to play a game isn't enough.  Now, they pay for a ticket or tune in on TV, and the players can't keep playing past 11 innings because they might get an ouchie?  You can argue, with good reason, that the health of the players is a very real issue... but so, I think, should the spirit of these players to come and perform.  At the very least, I hope I'm not the only one who sees this as more reason for why the fans of the game feel more and more disconnected from the players.

And where do I even start with Bud Selig?  I despise him so much that I find it hard to argue rationally about his role in last night's tie.  But I think I can call him two things, quite fairly (and not just in relation to last night):  visionless and spineless.  Visionless because his big protective shield is a claim that he only started worrying about the finish of the game in the 11th inning (at my house, we started raising different scenarios back in the 7th or 8th, fearing this very outcome).  And spineless because once he apparently made the decision, he decided to play it off as if he was only OK'ing a decision made jointly by Joe Torre and Bob Brenley; hey dickweed, you're the COMMISSIONER of BASEBALL, and you tell THEM what to do.  And if you do decide to ratify their decision, you get on TV and you say, "I'm the commissioner, this is what I decided to do and why I did it, and it's my fault.  Blame me if you don't like it, cuz this is where the buck stops."  Don't flank yourself with Torre and Brenley and make them explain it to the press and the fans.  Pussy.  

Simply having a bit of forethought could have saved a lot of trouble, if you ask me.  At the end of the ninth, with both teams down to one starting pitcher, Selig could have made the announcement, in no uncertain terms, that they would cap the game after 12 innings.  That gives each team three chances to win, which is a lot more fair than announcing -- in the middle of an inning when one team will have already had its final at-bats (an almost unconscionably unfair decision) -- that the game will end arbitrarily after three more outs.  Garcia and Padilla are both starters, and asking for three innings out of them is not asking too much.  One of 'em gets hurt?  Hell, I know I've seen Jose Canseco pitch an inning (and he's not the only position player to do so in recent years), so why not send Padilla out to shag balls in right field, and bring in Adam Dunn to pitch?  Maybe not a purist's dream for how to end an All Star game, but tell me, which would you prefer:  the "11 great innings of baseball that are forced to end in a tie because of a testicularly challenged commissioner" or "11 great innings of baseball that ends one inning later when two managers are forced to use every tool at their disposal, even if it means letting a non-pitcher pitch, resulting in a winner and a loser, and mostly, resulting in an admittedly wild-and-crazy finish that fans would at least remember for years to come"?  

I'd choose the latter, but maybe that's just me...  and I choose to tackle the problem with solutions like the one I propose, and not by making half-assed promises to "re-think the rules" or expand All Star rosters in the future.  Yeah, I think maybe upping the rosters to 32 (so that at least the 16-team NL can average 2 players per team) is an OK idea, but it should also remain a goal to get as many of the selected players in the game as possible.  So that doesn't really fix anything, does it?  This was, anyway, a very special and unique circumstance, not the sort of thing you can legislate away with a new set of rules.  The game of baseball and its rules was not the problem here; the mismanagement of the situation was the key issue as far as I'm concerned.  

Like the sign said:  "Ties are for Hockey."  And soccer, too.  But AMERICAN sports end with a winner and a loser, dagnabbit!  [Hey, pro wrestling ain't a sport, technically, and when we get a non-finish, we boo like hell about it, too!]

And at this point, I need to quit boring you with the non-wrestling BS.  You can go on the Message Boards (there is a Sports Forum) and debate it further, or just e-mail me your opinions, but I promise I won't broach the subject again here.

On with the rasslin' news:

  • Monday's RAW?  The usual mix of good and bad... with an unexpected dose of "ugly" thrown in, as well. 
    Ugly #1:  Trish and Jackie in the mixed tag match.  And trust me, it's hard for two girls that good looking to get classified as ugly... but things just did not click.  And let me be a voice of reason here:  it's easy for the internet pundits to point out how bad their spots sucked, and that Trish looked obviously pissed at Jackie, and it was even easy for Jim Ross to sit at ringside and call the match "bowling shoe ugly" as his way of admitting, "No fans, that wasn't very good."  But if you ask me, it's not really fair.  Because there's really no good reason I can think of for putting Jackie out there on live TV in that situation when you should either be using her exclusively on SmackDown! (where the show is taped and flubs can be edited) or should be getting some seasoning down in HWA or OVW (like Maven and Nidia both did).  It's not her fault she's only six months into her wrestling career (and that's only if you count TE2 as part of her "career").... but I suspect that when she IS "demoted" now, the mantra will be "well, she sucked so bad they had to send her down," and not the more appropriate, "well, that was what they should have done with her in the first place."
    Ugly #2:  Nash's injury, obviously.  But more on that later.
    The good was highlighted by the strong Heyman/Lesnar/Dreamer bit that, predictably, went over huge in Philly.  You knew it was a glorified excuse for Dreamer to get his ass kicked, but for a while, you almost had some hope that the Innovator of Violence was really back.  There are a million good reasons to not tailor an angle just for a particular city's live crowd (and NWA-TNA's NASCAR and country music philosophy comprises a few thousand of them), but as a geographically displaced ECW fan, I was diggin' it.  Fun stuff, though it does raise the question of if Heyman "exploited" all those guys in ECW, how long will it take before Lesnar decides that's what Heyman's doing with him?  [And when that happens, does Heyman show up one week later with Shelton Benjamin as "The Next Next Big Thing"?]
    Also good was the short, but very tight Benoit/Bubba match.  I'm really curious to see what they might do with 15 minutes on PPV...  Benoit's Benoit.  But Bubba makes his case more strongly each week for being one of the most versatile and underrated in-ring performers in the company.  From hardcore rules to trading suplexes with Benoit... from being a power wrestler against Lesnar one week to bumping around for a smaller man the next...  really impressive.
    Some of the stuff that didn't quite click:  Goldust as Ben Franklin is one.  Admittedly, these backstage bits have been hilarious and have really helped Dust get over with the crowd.  But if you don't have a GOOD idea for a costume bit, then just don't do it.  We won't complain, and we'll laugh that much harder when you have a good idea for a bit the next week.  Also, asking Steven Richards to channel Shane Douglas for one night was probably meant as a nod to past ECW storylines, but just came off flat: it reminded me more of the real Shane Douglas and of the fact that Flair's treading water, more than anything else.
    Just another show that, at the end of two hours, left you pretty well entertained, but not exactly bursting at the seams with excitement and anticipation for future events.  It's really nothing to bitch about, except that it seems every week, SmackDown! IS doing a good job of building that week-to-week anticipation, giving you something to talk about.  It's with that perspective that RAW's holes become as mentionable as its high points...
    For more on RAW, I point you to the always-detailed CRZ RAW Recap.  And also, the freshly-engaged Lee Filas filed a Squared Circle Jerk for Monday's show.
  • Monday's RAW rating was a 3.7, back up about a tenth of a point from the week before.  As I've pointed out more than once in recent weeks, up a tenth is always better than down a tenth...  but ratings on the whole remain in a slump.
  • By the way, one week after scoring a record high for its Saturday night TNN block, WWE sank way down this weekend.  Velocity and Confidential averaged a 0.9 for their 2 hours.  The block was probably hurt by the fact that Confidential (usually the stronger-drawing of the two shows) was a repeat.

  • Also, while on the ratings tangent...  the final rating for last week's SmackDown was a 2.0 broadcast rating.  The reason for the low rating is the same reason it took so long to get the rating:  the July 4 holiday.  Viewership was way down across the board last Thursday.
  • Kevin Nash...  where do you start?  It seems awfully fashionable now to taunt him for being a broken down old man, but that seems really silly to me.  So let's start with some facts...
    We all saw him collapse on RAW Monday night... from the get go, it looked bad, and within hours, word out of WWE was that Nash had suffered a quadriceps injury.  Since Nash, earlier in the night, had some harsh words for Triple H, and since HHH had had the same injury last year, some immediately began hoping it was an elaborate storyline... but that's not the case.
    WWE.com reports that Nash underwent surgery on Tuesday to repair a torn quad, and that his recovery time is estimated to be six months.  That would seem to indicate a less severe injury than HHH's, which is a good sign.  It would also seem to indicate that all involved expect that Nash WILL return once recovered, which puts the kibosh on speculation (included in my initial Ticker report) about Nash retiring as a result of this injury.
    Since news-wise, there doesn't seem to be a whole lot to add to the situation beyond what the WWE itself is sharing about Nash's surgery, I guess we might as well talk about other stuff...
    Like the people who seemingly did take some measure of satisfaction in Nash going down with an injury.  Look, I know he's not Chris Benoit, but if you can honestly tell me that Nash has never once said or done anything in this business that's entertained you, I'm gonna say that you're either lying or not really a fan of "pro wrestling" as it currently exists in the USA.  From the 1994 Rumble (which was such a defining moment that we STILL go into each Rumble match wondering who will get "The Diesel Push") to having amazing ****-type matches against Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels to the incredibly intriguing first 2 or 3 months of the nWo, Nash HAS contributed plenty for fans.  Just maybe not so much lately...
    And maybe therein lies the rub: Nash, like just about everybody, was not exactly inspired to bust his ass in WCW.  And now that he's returned to WWE -- where even a guy like Hulk Hogan have seemingly been motivated to perform at a higher level than he has in years -- Nash hasn't had a chance to show us that he's still got it.  He hurt his arm and only wrestled three TV matches at the start of his comeback; now in his first match coming back after a three-month lay-off, he's hurt himself again, and is facing six months of recovery time.  I doubt he'll be welcomed back like HHH was at the end of six months, but I hope he does come back, sharp enough to prove some of the jackasses out there wrong.  Hell, maybe if the timetable works out just right, maybe the 2003 Royal Rumble's "Diesel Push" will go to... well, Diesel.
    By the way, a lot of people are wondering what this means for the nWo, and specifically for the nWo/HHH storyline.  With Nash out, the nWo almost ceases to make any sense as a faction (since X-Pac is the only other original member); but if they can scrape by for two weeks and then actually pull the trigger on HHH going heel by joining the group, I think they might be able to gloss over that fact.  One also has to wonder if there will be any added pressure on Shawn Michaels to actually wrestle a match or two a month now that Nash is gone... and as Not Scott Steiner's biggest fan, even I have to admit that there may never be a better time for the guy to make an impactful WWE debut than if he were to fill Nash's role as in-ring leader of the nWo...
    But we're getting ahead of ourselves, now...  for now, let's just say "Get well, Big Kev." At least, those good wishes come from SOME of us.
  • In the past week or so, I've been trying to keep you apprised of Bret Hart's status, and specifically, whether he'd be making his first scheduled post-stroke appearance for Premier Championship Wrestling in Winnipeg on June 25.
    Last week, I finally reported that Hart was off that show, but only after a few days of conflicting reports seemed to confuse the issue (which in turn caused me to make some snippy remarks about "misinformation" being circulated by Hart's camp).
    Well, it turns out the bogus information (which indicated Hart was doing better than the media was reporting and that he would make his scheduled appearance) that was fed to PCW and to me came from a person who was involved in the booking of Hart for the event, but who had NO DIRECT TIES to Hart or his people.  His reasons for circulating inaccurate information about Bret remain unknown... but the least I can do is to point out that the source of the disinfo was not Hart's camp, and that I'm sorry if I implicated them in this.
    I have received word directly from Bret's personal assistant that notifications were made to some involved in the Winnipeg booking that Bret would have to cancel almost immediately after Bret's stroke (and before the severity of his situation was made public in the Calgary newspapers).  At no time was there an attempt by Bret's people to deceive PCW.  In fact, Hart's calendar has been cleared all the way through mid-August (and may be cleared further) to facilitate his rehabilitation.
    And again, our thoughts and hopes for a full recovery go out to Bret as he continues to work his way back following the stroke.
  • Another retired-from-wrestling superstar is hospitalized as we speak, too...  Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura woke up on Tuesday with chest pains, and was quickly diagnosed with a blood clot in one of his lungs.  He remains in the hospital, as he is being treated with blood thinners and being kept under close observation for at least another day or so.
    He remains conscious and in full control of his faculties.  Gubernatorial power remains with Jesse and has not been transferred to his Lt. Governor.
    Blood clots are a recurring problem for Jesse.  They are, in fact, the primary reason for Jesse calling an end to his in-ring wrestling career.  Though the Made-for-NBC movie about his life over-dramatized the specific timing of the first incident, blood clots in his lungs did cause Jesse to miss out on a big money feud with Hulk Hogan in 1984, and later caused him to (mostly) retire from the ring within the year.
    Jesse's value actually went up in future years, though, as he became an incredibly effective heel commentator for the WWF (while making VERY sporadic in-ring appearances for a couple of years after his retirement).  After parting ways with the WWF, he started "double-dipping," as he split time between politics and announcing for WCW.  It was during this period that Jesse had his second most-serious run-in with blood clots; me missed a few WCW commitments in the early 90s due to the recurring health problem.
    The fact that Jesse has recovered fully from at least two past serious instances of this problem hopefully bodes will for his recovery this time around.  It sucks to have to say the same basic thing for the third time in one column, but:  Get well soon, Jess.
  • It's official.  Vince Russo has joined the NWA-TNA creative team... in announcing the move on the company's website, Jerry Jarrett says that he has the utmost faith in Russo's ability to craft an entertaining product.  He gives Russo a lot of the credit for the WWF's rebounding in the late 90's, and then goes on to say that with WCW structure the way it was, Russo should not be blamed for what happened there during his tenure.
    As expected, there's been absolutely no indication that WWE (which had just recently re-hired Russo) has any plans to raise a stink about Russo leaving them for NWA-TNA.
    Oh, and that crack on Monday about Russo winning the NWA Title from Toby Keith?  I was joking...  I think.
  • And since we're on the subject of NWA-TNA, let's close with a quick run-down of the scheduled card for tonight's PPV....  because of the move to a stronger home base in Nashville, TN, the group is now running live weekly events, instead of the planned one week live/one week taped schedule.  Means no spoilers, just a quick preview....
    The main event will pit NWA Champ Ken Shamrock against Japanese import Takao Omori...  the NASCAR Cross-promotion continues, as Hermie Sadler will be facing off with K-Krush in another marquee match....  the X Division will continue to provide highlights for the group, this time, in the form of a six-man elimination match (featuring Jerry Lynn, Lo Ki, Tony Mamaluke, Christopher Daniels, Elix Skipper, and Kid Romeo)...  Lynn pulls double duty, as he also joins his tag team partner AJ Styles in a title defense against Slash and a Mystery Partner...  also:  Jasmine St. Claire makes her TNA debut, Brian Christopher and Scott Hall speak about Christopher's heel turn of last week, and the Flying Elvises return and take on the Dupps.
    CRZ will have the full report tomorrow here on OO.  Assuming he's still not given up on NWA-TNA entirely, that is...
  • I'm outta here.  Sorry again about the baseball rant thing, but when something gets under my skin, well...  you know how it is.
    I'm back again on Friday, and I promise I'll try to stay on task!


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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