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SummerSlam Fall-Out, RAW, More...
August 26, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Three years ago, we'd be sitting here with nothing to do on a Monday, since USA Network would be getting all geared up to pre-empt wrestling for early round tennis action.  And probably MENS' tennis, at that.  Boo!  But can you believe it's already been two years since the Fed jumped over to TNN?  How much longer do you think they can legally get away with calling it "The New TNN"?

Anyway, there's no pre-emption of RAW tonight, so previewing the show is one of our items of business.  Let's get to work:

  • In my immediate post-show recap, I called SummerSlam "possibly the best WWE PPV effort of the year," with big kudos going to the great big show atmosphere in the top two matches.  And you know what?  In all the feedback I got, the only people who disagreed with me were those who thought I wasn't complimentary enough!
    More specifically, I did deduct minor points because I felt that a few matches fell short of expectations.  But some readers thought I was unfair in marking down Edge/Eddie and RVD/Benoit because they lacked sizzle due to an unresponsive crowd.  Hey, I thought I went out of my way to very clearly state what I liked in those matches, and why.  Edge/Eddie was put together AND executed very well; Benoit/RVD was simply going for a more stiff/methodical style that would have suited Benoit and a different opponent better, despite some flashes of brilliance (like Benoit's hat trick of chickenwing suplexes).  If I'm a fan who likes a hot crowd adding to the PPV atmosphere, that's my business, though, and I'm sorry if I pissed off anyone's sensibilities by not grading strictly by workrate.
    Flair and Jericho, on the other hand, I felt just never got totally on the same page, and it showed.  Compounding that disappointment is the confusion I've got from the booking decision that saw Flair get the clean submission win with the Figure Four.  Maybe they've got more story to tell between these two?  Because I honestly don't think Flair needs to be winning feuds like this at this point in his career...
    But everything else either fit into it's niche on the card perfectly, or exceeded expectations.  
    Obviously, the night's highlight was Shawn Michaels getting a win over Triple H.  If the remarkable thing about that match was seeing how easily Michaels went back to being an in-ring performer after four years away, then I'd say the remarkable thing about being a columnist on the day after an HBK match is how easily I fall back into the practice of delivering a virtual blowjob on the greatest all-around performer of the 1990's!  Remember those days when Shawn Michaels could do no wrong once the bell sounded?  You do, now...
    Michaels escaped the match relatively unscathed, though an interview with WWE.com revealed that he wouldn't really know the extent of his aches and pains until he got up the next morning.  If all goes well from a recovery standpoint, Michaels did not rule out future matches, but did suggest he might avoid future singles contests, opting to share the work load with a tag partner.
    In the same interviews, Michaels also avoided anything even remotely resembling a boast.  The man who once took great pride in putting on the best show on the card, said he was simply happy that other people seemed to enjoy the match, and that he himself hadn't had a chance to comprehend how good or bad his effort was.  I know the whole born again thing has helped Shawn gain an appealing bit of humility, but do they actually have rules against saying, "I know" when people tell you that you just kicked ass?
    Triple H had no such reservations, however, calling the match one of his greatest ever, not only because of the entertainment factor, but because he got to do it with a good friend, and he got to get back to a place where he hasn't been in almost a year-and-a-half:  he's got himself solidly back on the heel side of the ledger.
    The other newsworthy match at SummerSlam was Brock Lesnar's title win over the Rock.  Newsworthy because not only is there a new (and youngest-ever) Undisputed Champ, but also because of the way fans responded: they cheered Brock and booed Lesnar.  The anti-Rock sentiment, which started out as a vocal minority, eventually grew to dominate the Nassau Coliseum.  It was so bad that when the Rock tried to re-establish himself as a good guy after the PPV went off the air (a trick that even HHH had been pulling in recent weeks), the crowd simply would not let up.  Rock finally gave up, and just said, "Sing along with the Rock is over!" before leaving.  A few "Na-na-na-na, Hey-hey-hey, Goodbye" chants were even heard.
    I got a number of e-mails from people live at the PPV, and two stand out:  one, from "Phil," said he thought they were clearly pumping in chants and boos over the speaker system, and that even the post-show antics had the crowd mostly pro-Rock with piped-in boos drowning them out.  [I don't know, Phil... not only does it make little sense to orchestrate something like that after cameras go off the air, but I don't think you could fake the thousands of people pumping fists into the air when Lesnar won the match, unless those were thousands of people who really wanted Brock to win.]  Another e-mail, from "Altman612," goes the other route, and claims fans in his (and neighboring) sections, started the whole thing and that eventually it spread throughout the entire building.  If he's right, blame sections 324, 325, and 326 for the anti-Rock sentiment!
    Unfortunately, for as much fun as seeing the Rock in heel mode was, it won't amount to anything.  Even though the Rock has about 3 weeks before principle filming begins on "Helldorado" (title now subject to change), the Fed's gone ahead and decided to give him the rest of the time between now and then off.  Maybe there's pre-production work that the Rock's needed for, or something?  Interviews on WWE.com indicate that the Rock will make a personal appearance at a "SmackDown! Your Vote" event this week, but is not booked for TV tapings.  Rock says his schedule precludes him from even thinking about another WWE appearance until the first quarter of 2003, but even then, he makes no promises.
    No indications as to whether the Rock would be open to reprising Andy Kauffman's "I'm from Hollywood" heel shtick upon his return or not... though after last night, you'd have to think it'd go over like gangbusters!
  • That all brings us to tonight, when the Fed delivers the first RAW of the Lesnar Era.  As I alluded to on Friday, the build-up of Brock Lesnar has now reached the point where we switch our focus to "Who in the hell can beat this guy?"...  and a lot of how that issue plays out will have to do with how they present Lesnar on the night after his title win.
    It'd be really easy to accelerate things and have Lesnar ditch Paul Heyman, immediately.  Lesnar won the match last night cleanly, after Heyman had been KO'ed.  Pragmatically, he's also been doing more of his own talking lately, so he doesn't NEED Heyman like he might have five months ago, either.  But they've already taken the chance on putting the title on him; jumping in with both feet and turning him babyface?  Well, remember the miscalculation that was made with Diesel back in '94, and you know why I think they oughta take some time.
    Plus, the storyline will be ever so much more compelling if they keep Lesnar under Heyman's evil control for a while.  He can face a mix of babyfaces and heels this way, too, but ultimately, the story will be that he's doing Heyman's bidding.  Sometime (in time for WrestleMania), he can finally break out on his own.  
    But getting back to the point of who faces Lesnar in the here and now?  Well, I was ready to tell all the conspiracy theorists (the ones who saw all kinds of political overtones to Hulk Hogan's recent disappearance) to shove it, because Hogan, once healthy, would make a great first challenger to Lesnar.  But now, unless Hogan wants to get booed, that might not be so wise. I'd go so far as to say that a babyface Lesnar might find himself challenged by a heel Triple H starting tonight.  [I mean, Michaels is effectively written off of TV, so what else is there for the Game to do?]
    In the end, however, the Fed needs to take advantage of the opportunity they've got here.  When Lesnar finally loses, it should NOT be to somebody established and expected.  It does little to help HHH or Hogan or Taker or Rock or even Kurt Angle or Chris Jericho if they win; but if Lesnar remains heel, then he could be the career-making match for a Rob Van Dam or Booker T.  If he goes face, then how about Chris Benoit?  You can't waste Lesnar's first loss... not that we necessarily need to be thinking about him losing anytime in the near future.  Three months would be the MINIMUM I'd give to Phase Two of Project Lesnar before deciding if the plug needs to be pulled...
    Tonight on RAW, I think it'll be more about Lesnar's heel/face alignment than anything.  A PPV feud/challenger can come on SmackDown! or in a week's time...
    Also on RAW: Eric Bischoff seemed very proud to have had RVD win the IC Title, bringing it back to his show.  But Stephanie's reaction would definitely suggest that Van Dam may be thinking about defecting to SD!...  perhaps we'll know more after tonight.
    A couple of storylines could easily continue from the PPV:  as noted above, I would not be surprised if Chris Jericho had a little something to say about losing to Ric Flair... and in the absence of other established babyface tag teams, Booker T and Goldust will probably earn themselves another shot at the tag titles held by the UnAmericans.
    Something I'm not looking forward to:  whatever the next step in the historic Finkel/Garcia Battle for The Stick turns out to be.  But Lillian's back, baby, and you know she's not gonna let the Fink steal her spot!  
    Check out RAW tonight for what should be a very exciting show... or come on back to OO tomorrow for CRZ's detailed recap.
  • I have not been able to confirm this through any traditional means, but Keith Young (of Pro Wrestling Weekly) is a law student who came across something interesting on LexisNexis...
    Apparently, Steve Austin has filed for divorce.  
    A Texas Civil Case filing (#2002CI10602, to be specific, on the off chance you also have LexisNexis access and would like to confirm) is dated July 22, and lists Austin (actually as "Steve Williams") as the plaintiff and Debra ("Debra Gale Williams") as the defendent.  It lists this as a divorce case pending in Bexas County.
    To the best of my knowledge this isn't something that has been disseminated among the wrestling community at large, so it's been impossible to find confirmation that way.  Also, I don't have free access to Lexis, so I couldn't double check that, either.  But if this is the real deal, I'm not sure what kind of spin would be appropriate...  it could be a bad sign that Austin's personal life is coming apart; but sometimes a separation can mark a fresh start and a chance for both Steve and Debra to end up in happier places.
    More on this at a later time...
  • Lost in all the SummerSlam weekend hoopla is the fact that WWE and Sean "X-Pac" Waltman parted ways...  Jim Ross was quick to label the split "mutual," and while I'm usually dubious of how quick a guy would be to say, "Yes, Mr. Ross, I would like to give you the opportunity to quit paying me," in this case, it sounds like it might be a genuinely mutual break-up.
    The hope is that X-Pac can and will get his head right by getting out from under the WWE umbrella for a bit.  NWA-TNA is there for him, where he might even get to work with his old buddy Scott Hall...
  • Early indications are that Kane will return to TV very shortly, and that he'll be a part of the SmackDown! roster.  Rumors are that his first feud will be against Kurt Angle.  Kane and Angle did have a few really outstanding matches earlier in the year, so it's a good fit, though these things always are subject to change.
    If plans change with regard to SD!/Angle, we still know one thing for sure about Kane's return: the Fed has scrapped the "unmasking" storyline, since X-pac (and Kane's old mask) are now gone from the company.  In lieu of advancing that issue, however, they have significantly updated Kane's look.  The new costume is supposedly edgier and darker, and the new mask is smaller and no longer covers Kane's mouth/chin.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.6, which is up yet again from the week before (a 3.5).  The slow, steady increases are nice, but not to sound like a broken record, the new fall season is coming soon, and might retard a bit of that growth.  We'll see...
  • Bret Hart made a brief in-ring appearance as part of a Jacques Rougeau indie show in Montreal over the weekend.  The appearance was booked prior to Hart's stroke, and was his first public appearance since the incident.
    Reports are that Hart was able to make it into the ring under his own power (albeit slowly).  He spoke only briefly, referencing how he used this booking as motivation to try to speed his recovery along.  In his own words, Hart said, he wanted to be there "no matter what."  
    Jacques Rougeau then came out, hugged and thanked Bret, and called him "the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be."  Hart got a huge ovation on his way out of the ring.

  • Looks like now that Fantasy Football sign-ups have finished up, I'll have a few Fantasy Hockey leagues to pimp for you readers.  Today, I've got Yahoo! Hockey League set up by reader Stef Barnes.  League ID# is 2500, password is "tables."  Enjoy!
  • Lastly, if you're attending TV tapings this week, be sure to drop a line with a report...  you'll be helping thousands of OO Readers get their USDA Minimum Daily Allowance of Spoilers, if you do!  Thanks in advance...
    See y'all again on Wednesday...  



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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