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PPV Fall-out, RAW Preview, Rocco
Rock Passes Away, More...
September 23, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Alright, it's official:  if I could afford it, I'd move to Chicago tomorrow.  But I'd conservatively estimate that the cost of living up there is like triple what it is here in podunk Dayton, OH.

Like I said on Friday, I was up there for a bachelor party this weekend.  Heading in, we knew Guided by Voices (one of my top 10 most favorite bands) was playing (and man alive, they played a set of "new classics" that rocked our socks off).  But we get to the hotel and pick up a paper, and what do I see?  Mudhoney (another of my top 10 favorites of all times) is playing a show later in the night!  Shit like that just happens in Chicago on a random Saturday night?  Like the song says, my kind of town...

Course, we wound up not going to see Mudhoney on the grounds that it was voted that our $20 a head would be better served getting us into a strip club at 2 in the morning after we'd boozed all over town.  Still, good pizza, bars that stay open till 5am, and in particular a place called Delilah's (which has the greatest jukebox ever, as well as a particularly pretty bartender who kept pouring me generous quadruples despite my requests for mere pansy-ass doubles) were more than enough to ease my Mudhoney pain.

But still...  each of you want to agree to donate about $10 once a year so that I can relocate to Chicago and live in the style to which I am accustomed?  I figure with my habits, the low six-figures ought to do...  c'mon, you know you want to!

If you do, I promise I'll back off on these long-winded, off-topic introductions and just get on with the rasslin'...  like this:

  • We'll step back briefly to last night's PPV... it seems to have really polarized fans, some of whom are livid over the cheap, screwy finishes (mostly Taker/Brock) and others of whom want to focus on the quality in-ring work and chalk up the finishes as effective storytelling.
    Me, I stand by my initial opinion last night, where I focused on both elements.  I can imagine only few things in the wrestling world that would make me happier than the incredible, unique style of match that Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle had.  But I also can imagine very few things that would frustrate and anger me as much as the Brock/Taker finish and the night's overall trend towards non-clean endings.
    So is my own brain polarized against itself?
    I think I can bring this all together into one cogent opinion by simply saying that the workers themselves did everything they could to make this the type of show fans would rave about.  But the booking team didn't give them the material they needed to have to pull the trick off.  I might go even further and suggest that the division between the RAW and SD! creative staffs might have been the crux of the problem:  I have no difficulty whatsoever accepting one or two screwy finishes per show to advance storylines.  But that's got to be balanced with decisive endings that make you feel like you saw something other than a $35 edition of RAW.  Each brands creative team apparently figured they'd do a screwy finish or two, and nobody at a higher level -- someone co-ordinating both teams -- stepped in and realized the imbalance that would result from each brand doing the finishes they'd proposed.
    And of course, I don't care about storytelling or whatever:  going to a draw in your main event is suicide, and anybody should have been able to tell you that without having to wait for the "bullshit" chants after the deed had been done.  Fine, I agree with making some effort to extend that Taker/Lesnar feud (since there's not really any other babyface in a position to be fed to Lesnar next) so that we can add a stipulation (No DQ, Hell in the Cell, anything) to their rematch next month.  But this is an indefensible way to do it.
    I guess if it had been left up to me, I'd have let the RAW brand keep their screwy finishes because they really were necessary for doing the Ric Flair heel turn, which could be really interesting.  From there, you could come up with some way to do a finish in Taker/Lesnar that would preserve the feud, as well as craft a more climactic finish for Angle/Benoit.
    Actually a bunch of people mailed in to say that the cheap win for Benoit was a counter-point to the finish of their match at WrestleMania 2001 (where Angle won cheaply, using a handful of tights after a good wrestling match).  Maybe so.  But if I didn't like the ending 18 months ago, what obligation do I have to like it now?
    So it wound up being a night of pretty high highs (in addition to Angle/Benoit, Edge/Eddie was really good, and I liked the opener and HHH/RVD lots, as well), but also with low lows (the whole HLA thing wound up tanking, and of course, the aforementioned non-finishes hurt).
  • Fans in LA live for the event actually peppered the ring with garbage after the PPV went off the air.  Taker tried to come back into the ring to "celebrate" his moral victory of tossing Lesnar through the entrance set, but was greeted by a hostile reaction.  
    I know the online smart fans have a rep for being self-important douchebags, but I think in this case, we have ample evidence to support our case that this was the Finish No One Wanted to See.  Big mistake, WWE....
    Also:  not many fans were happy with the way the HLA segment played out.  Here, I'm a bit less critical of the Fed.  I mean, as fun as it was to entertain the thought, you HAD to know that Steph wasn't gonna be a part of any genuinely HOT lesbian action.  You got your little tease, and if you were pissed it didn't go further, well, frankly I'd be quicker to critique your intelligence than the Fed's booking strategy.  This is wrestling, not porn.  My problems with the segment are limited to the fact that the Rikishi "swerve" was fairly obvious and what was clearly designed to be funny and entertaining was mostly just throw-away silliness.
    I mention these things because the LA crowd seemed, for much of the show, to be one of the hottest, most responsive audiences in a while.  For WWE to have a crowd go from appreciative to hostile took some doing...  and I fear they might find the un-doing to be a significantly longer process.
  • On to RAW tonight, where my attention is mostly gonna be focused on where we go next with this Triple H/Ric Flair thing.  Back last Wednesday, I briefly proposed a scenario in which Flair might be HHH's heel manager, though I'd be lying if I said I had any clue it'd come together this fast.  I thought they'd stretch out the "Flair's getting old and has lost it" thing a bit more before going into this next phase.
    Flair's explanation for his actions will be the first interesting element for the duo.  The next will be finding out if HHH is gonna be headed for another PPV contest against Rob Van Dam, or if somebody else will be elevated to the #1 contender spot.  RVD's got a legit beef for having been robbed last night, so I keeping that feud going would be fine by me.  Not like there are a ton of other options, of course.  Maybe Booker T and Kane are the only other guys even remotely ready to be main event babyfaces for the RAW roster...
    The RAW vs. SD war is also not going away anytime soon.  Steph got the last laugh on the PPV, so I'm sure Bischoff will be up to some diabolical scheme to get revenge and to keep the brand extension thing simmering.
    Beyond that, there shouldn't be a whole lot else from the PPV that gets carried over to the next month.  The UnAmericans are heat machines by virtue of their gimmick, and Storm/Christian are still tag champs.  But the group has played out just about every possible combination against Booker/Goldust.  Maybe mobilize Bubba and Spike Dudley to take the tag titles, that way you set up Bischoff's hit squad of Rosie and Jamal for a tag title feud against the babyface Duds.
    Trish Stratus' women's title victory last night is probably more to set the stage for Jazz's return from knee surgery in the next month or so.  All conventional wisdom points to the continuation of a Jazz/Trish feud, and adding the title to the mix can only help.  But Jazz is still a few weeks away, so Trish will have to tread water till then.
    RAW's other go-to superstar is Chris Jericho, but again, he's a strong heel without much in the way of babyface competition.  He's got the IC Title, but no one to defend against.  With the way RAW's lagged behind SD! in terms of developing and promoting new stars, you'd almost have to expect something like RVD coming back down to the IC title feud rather than hope against hope that fans could be convinced to believe somebody fresh could be elevated to IC title status...
    Oughta be interesting to see how we reset things following the PPV.  Check out the show tonight, or come on back tomorrow for CRZ's detailed recap.
  • Last week's SD! scored a final broadcast rating of 3.5.  That's down just two-tenths of a point from the previous week (which saw a huge bump thanks to all the publicity generated by the gay wedding angle), and once again, SmackDown! handily out-performed RAW.
  • Some sad news today:  Ted Petty, known to most of today's fans as "Flyboy Rocco Rock," died over the weekend at the age of 49.  All signs, including Petty's family medical history, point to a heart attack as the likely cause of death. 
    Petty's first real exposure to fans came as the high-flying "Cheetah Kid," who was booked a few times in the latter days of the NWA, though he was most successful outside of the United States in that incarnation.  It took a total make-over to turn the former collegiate wrestler into nationally known star.
    As street thug Rocco Rock, Petty was a signature star in ECW's breakthrough to national prominance.  With Johnny Grunge, Petty formed the tag team known as The Public Enemy, and their mix of high-risk, high-flying, wild brawling, and often hilarious interivews made them a huge hit with fans.  Between 1994 and 1996, they frequently received votes for "Best Tag Team" honors at a time when ECW's tag scene was perceived by many to be light years ahead of the WWF or WCW's.
    Rocco and Johnny took their act to WCW in 1996, and though they were never the serious, bad-ass brawlers they were in ECW, they still got over with the fans when they popularized table spots on the national cable stage.  Before the Hardys and the Dudleys, the Public Enemy were using tables in the Big Two.
    TPE added some WCW tag gold to go with their numerous ECW honors, but eventually wound up working mostly preliminary matches.  They briefly returned to ECW, and then even more briefly had a stint in the WWF, but they couldn't latch on permanently.  
    At the time of his death, Petty was still an active indie performer, and in fact, was on his to wrestle on a show in Philadelphia, PA, when he suffered his heart attack.
    Condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans. 
  • "Road Dogg" Brian James, who recently resurfaced on NWA-TNA's last PPV and was immediately inserted into a key spot as Jeff Jarrett's masked tormentor, was in a car accident over the weekend. He did miss weekend bookings, but it's unknown at the present time exactly how this will affect James' work for TNA or for other upcoming shows.
    Best wishes for a full recovery to James, and of course, I'll also pass along any fresh udpates on his situation as they become available.
  • A few readers saw Eric Bischoff's appearance on Fox Sports' "Best Damn Sports Show Period," last Friday, and though it was mostly fluffery, they got a kick out of Bischoff talking about how he was backstage in his old-man make-up all day at SmackDown!, and nobody realized it was him.  
  • A trial date of October 9 has been set for Steve Austin; he faces misdemeanor assault charge following a June incident with his wife Debra.  A newswire report quotes Austin as saying that although he's never been in court, he's sure "it'll work out just fine."
  • Not a whole lot from Jim Ross' last WWE.com column, other than a few injury updates:  Chris Kanyon is about 2 months away from returning to TV, factoring in the fact that he wants to take about a month in OVW to sharpen up his skills...  Jazz is a month away from coming back...  Maven is 3 weeks away from being cleared, but will be reporting to OVW for a while before coming back to TV...  Rhyno's return has been pushed back to late November/early December...  Chris Nowinski will miss 4-6 weeks after having surgery to remove a benign mass from his jaw (but may be back in a non-wrestling capacity sooner).
    Scanning WWE.com, there was, however, an interesting morsel tucked away in one of the post-Unforgiven articles they posted.  Shawn Michaels was backstage at the show, and was quoted as saying that his current plan is for one more match, at WrestleMania next year, and then that's it.  He's done.
  • That's all from me... any TV tapings reports from out on the left coast will be greatly appreciated and will help us get spoilers out to the masses in a timely fashion.  Please drop a line if you're attending the tapings!
    And the rest of you:  I'll see you 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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