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SD Rating, Hogan Hurting, Hart's
Recovery... plus: Jericho's Third!
August 9, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Let's just can the chit-chat and get on with the contractually obligated Friday edition of OO, so that we can all start in on our weekend fun, OK?  Good:  
  • Last night's SmackDown! drew a 4.4 overnight rating.  That's identical to last week's ON number, when the final rating settled in at a disappointing 3.1.  Hopefully, this week, the final number will be a bit stronger...
    I say that because it was a damned strong show.  You had what was probably the match of the week in the six man tag, plus an incredibly hot final angle that probably did more good for Brock Lesnar than anything else in the past four months.
    I mean, honestly, this isn't 1986, and I'm not 11 anymore.  But the "internal bleeding," the chairshot, the going back and using Hogan's blood as warpaint...  I think I feel more sympathetic towards Hogan than I did after King Kong Bundy destroyed him!  And for a cynic like me, that's saying something.  
    The fact that they put Lesnar over Hogan like that also plants a seed in my mind:  back in the olden days, Hogan would do a major injury angle like this when he needed to take time off to make a movie.  The Earthquake incident on the Brother Love show would be the more memorable example.  We're now in a position where the Rock has to face Lesnar before HE goes off to make a movie...  you do the math.  If Lesnar can destroy Hogan, he can do the same (or worse) to the Rock.  In a day and age when the Fed's more likely to serve up an "indefinite suspension" or shoot straight with us by saying the Rock's out in Hollywood making a movie, this is a rare chance to go Old School, and really help to define Lesnar's character in the process.
    Just as long as nobody decides that "Rock Friendship Bracelets" would be a good idea during his absence....
    Let's see...  I already took my hat off to the six man tag, but let me amplify:  not only was the action between Benoit/Eddie/Angle and Edge/Cena/Rey super, but the finish and fall-out are perfect.  There are more iterations of matches we can go through here, which is great, plus the way Angle pitched a hissy fit about "losing to a 12 year old" was classic Kurt.  Minor gripe:  Michael Cole went overboard in trying to sell the "experience vs. youth" aspect, when in fact, Angle is the second least-experienced guy in the match (only Cena started wrestling later).
    Also:  great night for the Cruiserweights.  Not only did Rey get a pinfall over Angle, but the duo of Hurricane and Shannon Moore beat Billy and Chuck, while the pieces were put in place for Billy Kidman and Jamie Knoble to have themselves a feud after a mixed tag match.  Somebody find a spot for Tajiri in all this, and I'll be one happy camper.
    And lastly, on a storytelling note:  you knew that there wouldn't be any major defections because of the out-of-order tapings schedule this week...  but even something as simple as Stacy Keibler acting as a mole in Stephanie McMahon's office, getting some mysterious "papers" shuffled over to Eric Bischoff, keeps the door between the rosters propped open, and keeps us speculating as to what the next big move will be.  There's probably a clue or two in the fact that these were "time sensitive documents," but this is probably a discussion better saved for Monday's RAW preview.
    Very good show.  This week, SmackDown! gets this critic's "win" over RAW....
  • By the way, even if Hogan's not got a movie to make, there is a good reason for doing the big beatdown angle with Lesnar last night:  Hogan's working through back pain, and the angle will be used to explain to Aussie fans why he's not appearing on tomorrow's "Global Warning" show in Melbourne.
    You could really tell that Hogan was affected by the bad back even during last night's match.  I mean, it's not like he's the crispest or stiffest of workers when at his best, but I thought he was -- to borrow a JR-ism -- moving pretty gingerly at times.
    The angle with Lesnar should also allow Hogan to lessen his domestic schedule in the short-term as well, so he can take time to recuperate.  I'd thought that Hogan/Angle would be a feud for SummerSlam, but that was clearly back-burnered after this week's SmackDown!, so perhaps Hogan's been written off the PPV?
  • The Calgary Sun recently got to talk to Bret Hart, who is on the road to recovery after a stroke suffered back in June.  Bret notes that he's got a lot of his movement back in his left side, even if he lacks some of the strength and stamina he once had.  He hopes to be back to walking normally inside of a month.
    The one thing that Hart says hasn't really improved much is his face:  the left side remains pretty much paralyzed.
    You can check out the Sun article (complete with a photo of Bret outside his Calgary home) right here.
  • On Wednesday, I said that RAW ratings might continue to be adversely affected by E!'s new "Anna Nicole Smith Show."  Turns out, I'm off base.  First of all, this week's Monday airing was apparently a special thing, and the show will now settle into a Sunday night timeslot.
    And second of all, after seeing one of the replays of the show, I don't think people are gonna keep tuning in, anyway.  "The Osbournes" works because Ozzy is -- well -- he's Ozzy.  He's interesting.  Anna Nicole Smith, ultimately, is not.  I mean, yes, I saw her naked (about 50 lbs. ago), and that was all good, but it seems the assholes at E! see some sort of entertainment value in just showing the woman stumbling around wasted.  It plays like a cruel joke that we're all supposed to be in on.  And unfortunately for me, I guess, I'm not that cruel.
    I liked Jon Stewart's take on the mess:  "If she falls, why don't you put down the camera, and help her?"  Fricking E! Network jerks...
    But enough from the soap box.
  • Lastly for today is actually a bit of a celebration:  it was three years ago today (August 9, 1999) that Chris Jericho made his WWF debut following a month-long millennium countdown.  
    I was just going to sort of include it as an aside comment, but OO Reader Joe actually sent me an e-mail in which he not just mentioned the anniversary, but also posited that Jericho wound up being the most impactful of WCW free agents swooped up by the WWF during the course of the Monday Night Wars.
    Which in turn got me to thinking that instead of just a token mention, I could probably turn Jericho's anniversary into a way to kill a good 6 or 8 paragraphs.  And lord knows, on Fridays, I can use the filler!
    So I thought about it a bit, and absolutely, Chris Jericho has been the most valuable ex-WCW star acquired by WWF(e) in the RAW/Nitro Era.  
    Some may have thought that the Big Show would have broken out as the top defector... but despite a run as WWF Champ, he's been primarily a mid-card player.  And worse than simple mid-card status is the fact that many fans have yet to see Show in an extended run where he's actually -- you know? -- entertaining.  Outside of "the Showster" and "Showkishi," I mean...
    Jeff Jarrett, when he made his celebrated return to the Fed in the wake of the Montreal Screwjob, seemed positioned for main event status.  But instead, his character was mishandled (remember his "Aztec Warrior" phase?), and he wound up as a tag team wrestler for much of the next two years.  Just when he'd found his heel niche, and could have conceivably moved up the card from his spot as IC Champ, he defected back to WCW.
    And then because of the suddenness with which they departed WCW, the most celebrated acquisition may have been the Radicalz.  Four for the price of one!  Chris Benoit was clearly the jewel of the group, but at the time of the defection, everybody was certain that Perry Saturn was the #2 most valuable (everybody except, if I may brag, me, who correctly prophesied that Eddie Guerrero would be the bigger star).  Well, Benoit may have been on track for greatness last year, but was sidetracked by a serious neck injury.  Eddie is a superlative role-player who has been sidelined by both injury and personal problems.  Both are now poised to move up the card, but "potential" isn't the category that we're grading on here.  [Dean Malenko, it should be noted, is a valuable part of the backstage WWE crew... only Perry Saturn has yet to really find a niche out of these four.]
    But Chris Jericho has been undeniably a major part of the WWF(e) over the past three years, moreso than ever in the last 12 months since returning to his heel roots.  Even when "toiling on the midcard," Jericho remains over with the fans.  It's that ability to entertain -- no doubt coupled with the fact that Jericho has been lucky to avoid any serious injuries -- that put him in position to be crowned the first ever "Undisputed Champion," a title that he held for four months until losing it in the main event at WrestleMania.  In fact, Jericho is the only WCW acquisition from the Monday Night War Era to headline a WrestleMania in a one-on-one match.  That alone says a lot.
    WWF(e) has long built its roster by taking the stars of other promotions and turning them into Superstars.  The 80's Hogan Era was facilitated by raiding the AWA (where Hogan himself came from to lend his name to an era), mid-south, and Georgia territories.  Once wrestling had gone national in scope, Vince McMahon was able to identify key performers in Ted Turner's WCW and bring them into the fold in the early 90's (before Nitro became a reality and there was a genuine perception of serious competition)... in the pre-War era, you'd probably peg the signing of one Jean-Paul Levesque (now Triple H) as one of Vince's biggest coups.  Now in the Monopoly Era, WCW (and ECW) seem to have, by default, supplied another crop of talent to Vince's WWF(e); the two names that stand out as likeliest to succeed from this group are Booker T and Rob Van Dam.
    So alongside these "Most Valuable WWF(e) Acquisitions" from each other era, I think it's a no-brainer to call Jericho the most valuable from the Monday Night War Era.  Always entertaining, increasingly key to WWE storylines, and of course, the only man able to call himself the FIRST Undisputed Champ...  that's Chris Jericho for you.
    Congrats on a great first three years in the Fed to Y2J... and since he's recently re-signed with WWE, I'm sure we can look forward to many happy returns, too.
  • That's all for today.  Enjoy the weekend, and I'll see you folks again on Monday with RAW preview and other news.


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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