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RAW Preview, Lennox Lewis in WWE?,
and Lots of Other News, Too!
October 14, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


We're looking to be in a little bit better condition here as we start a fresh week...  some bona fide news to cover, plus we've got the usual ramping up of speculative editorializing that comes with the final seven days before a big PPV.  And oh yeah, it was almost exactly one year ago that WrestleLine shut down...

Beats the hell out of what I had to work with Friday, anyways...

Here goes:

  • RAW's live tonight, and with it being the last big show for that half of the roster before the PPV, I'm guessing it's gonna be balls-out busy trying to get things in place for Sunday night.
    Chiefly, this will entail making some sense out of last week's revelation by Triple H that Kane is a murderer. Now, there may very well be a well-plotted, carefully constructed storyline that's getting underway with this revelation by HHH... but for myself -- and judging by my e-mail and visits to the OO Message Boards I am not alone -- this is not a promising angle.  It's silly and soap-opera-y and is out of context in a pro wrestling setting.
    Who was Katie Fick?  Why does HHH think Kane killed her?  These are the questions the Fed hopes we'll be engrossed with.  I think they should be happy if they even managed to coax us into "patient indifference" instead of engrossment.  Because what I'm sensing is that what fans are really felling is the desire to fire back with a question of their own:  Why the hell should I care?
    Granted, Kane and HHH needed SOMEthing to put a little spark into their out-of-nowhere feud, but for this to end up being the right something will take some doing.  We'll see what they've got in store for us starting tonight...  be it a dead-end storyline, a new love interest for Kane, or something somewhere in between.
    [Oh, and people, I've been saying "Katie Fick" for a week, now, and "Katie Fick" I'll keep saying no matter how many of you mail in calling me names for not saying "Katie Vick."  Trust me.  Either I'm right, or the WWE.com website is wrong.  Yes, I looked at the tepid, no-objective-point-of-view-having thing they call a "RAW Recap" to make sure of my own ears.  I feel so...  dirty. I sure hope CRZ isn't too pissed at me for two-timing behind his back with another recap...]
    What else we got tonight?  Well, for starters, we've got Chris Jericho vs. Booker T looking to get fast-tracked to a PPV match.  Booker put the smackmouth on Jericho two weeks ago, and Jericho responded physically last week, but the two have been too busy with their own issues to finally get down to the business of really focusing on each other.  I suspect that'll end and we'll have a match officially signed by the end of the night tonight.
    I also cannot imagine getting out of tonight's broadcast without Trish Stratus and Victoria having another round with each other, no doubt setting up their own PPV contest.  Based on what we've seen out of them in the last two weeks, I'd say it might turn out to be a real treat of a match, too.  But based on Victoria's cryptic promo last week, I'd also temper that enthusiasm with a bit of a concern that we're headed for some sort of nutty melodramatic twist before we can get to said match.
    Other than those three things, the RAW roster's not got much of anything rock solidly ready to go for the PPV, so we might get some patchwork things tossed together tonight.... for instance, the tag division is a mess, with Kane holding up the tag titles while he's busy with HHH.  With the way they're playing up the chance for Kane to be the first simultaneous World/IC/Tag title holder, I doubt we'll see him and Hurricane drop those titles tonight in time for a feud that means something in the tag division to take shape.  In turn, that effects the PPV prospects of Bubba/Spike Dudley, William Regal/Lance Storm, and Rosie and Jamal.
    RAW's got a couple of new faces they can try to work into the mix, as well.  If you've been following me for any length of time, then you know I'm a big fan of getting D'Lo Brown as involved in top level storylines as possible; last week he got to job to Triple H, which I guess is halfway to what I'm talking about...  you also had Al Snow make his return to the RAW brand last week, though without a hardcore division around anymore, one has to wonder where he'll find a niche.  Batista is also transferring over from SD! sometime soon...
    And finally, you'll have some X Factors to consider tonight, as well.  First, as always, you'll have Eric Bischoff around stirring the pot.  While nothing quite as involved as last week's "RAW Roulette" has been announced, I doubt Sleazy E is just gonna sit back and give us fans a straight up traditional rasslin' show tonight.  And X Factor #2:  tonight's show is taking place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  And up there, you know how it is:  up is down. Black is white. And of course, good is evil.  Vile bastards like Chris Jericho, Lance Storm, and Christian are liable to be cheered, and to hell with how we American fans usually do things!
    At the very least, it should be an interesting night.  Whether that's good interesting or bad interesting is up in the air, of course, and highly dependent on the completely unnecessarily fabricated fictional persona of one Katie Fick.
    Check out the show tonight, or just come on back here tomorrow and let CRZ tell you how it all happened...
  • As a side bar to the usual RAW preview, I guess we also ought to preview what could be Wednesday's potential most-news-making behind the scenes story.
    That's because at some point prior to tonight's show, the RAW roster will be assembled for an address, reportedly to come from no less a luminary than Vince McMahon himself.
    Now, contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, this isn't already slated to be a big "bitch session" where Vince chides the roster for not doing their best.  Granted the last little one of these gatherings did sort of degenerate into some of that, but fact is, in terms of today's meeting, it's still uknown exactly WHAT Vince wants to accomplish.
    It could be a pep talk.  It could be a "mission statement" outlining exactly what he hopes to accomplish by further delineating the RAW (soap opera) style from the SD! (in-ring) style.  It could be an introduction of former SD! writers (including Michael Hayes) as a way of saying "Here, we want you guys to have the best possible material to work with, so we took away some of the other show's writers."  Or yeah, it could be that Vince wants to fire people up by questioning their work.
    It doesn't bear much more discussion at this point.  If anything significant happens, I'm sure we'll fire it up again on Wednesday, though...
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! came in at a 3.6, which turns out to be identical to last week's final number.  SD! continues to outpace RAW quite handily, not only in terms of critical opinion, but also in terms of viewers.
  • Bob Holly's neck injury -- which depending on whose doing the wordsmithing was either caused or re-aggravated in a match a few weeks back against Brock Lesnar -- has turned out to be more severe than originally thought.  
    Following surgery last week (again, a WWE star selected Dr. Youngblood for a neck fusion operation, based on his success with Steve Austin, and later with Rhyno, Lita, and Scotty 2 Hotty), the estimated shelf-time for Holly has been doubled to possibly a full year.  
    That is just the shittiest of all possible luck for Holly.  While he's never found a gimmick/persona that really clicks with the audience, he's not been done any favors by an injury history that's going to end up having him inactive for almost the entireties of 2002 and now 2003.  First six months off earlier this year to pull the metal plate out of his arm, and now this...  it's the sort of thing that'll rob you of whatever momentum you've been able to build up.
  • Randy Orton is a younger guy with a long career ahead of him to find that one persona that helps him click with an audience... but he's had the rug pulled out from under him, too.  A shoulder injury that was initially hoped to be minor wound up requiring surgery last week.  He's facing 4 months on the sidelines as a result.
    With Orton, they almost seemed to be over-playing the "let's recreate the vanilla babyface who everybody actually hates" vibe that was oh-so-organic when it happened to the Rock six years ago.  It worked years later with Kurt Angle because Angle had the Olympic credentials that made him uniquely respectable and thus, even more easily hated.  [Maybe if they build up Orton's return from injury in a heavy-handed fashion, with tons of tribute videos and what not, they can give Orton his own unique twist on the established theme?]
  • The London tabloids (or at least one of them) was running with an odd item over the weekend: the Daily Star reports that Lennox Lewis has been offered $5 million (US) to fight Brock Lesnar, presumably in what would be promoted as a legit shoot fight (but which, if it ever actually went down, would almost undoubtedly be designed to let both men escape unscathed).
    I'd be very tempted to just gloss over this as typical tabloid nonsense... but there are two things that make me stop and ponder.  One, with WWE business in a slump, who's to say Vince McMahon wouldn't turn to a boxer to help him get the attention of the mainstream.  [Anybody remember the Fed being practically left for dead when a certain Mike Tyson came along and put them on SportsCeneter?]  And two:  Lennox Lewis has done business with the then-WWF before (appearing at SummerSlam '92).
    Of course, as soon as I consider those two mitigating circumstances, I stop and realize something that makes this seem all the more ludicrous:  simply put, the money's all wrong.  Lewis would never take a boxing match for a piddling $5 million, and given what the Fed was rumored to have doled out for Tyson five years ago for a simple REFEREEING job, you gotta wonder if they'd even be able to get Lewis for a FIXED fight for $5 million.
    In other words:  we probably shouldn't be holding our breath...
  • Jim Ross announced in his weekend WWE.com column that the Fed has signed former ECW Tag Team Champion Little Guido to a contract, and that he'll be appearing eventually as one of the SD! brand's cruiserweights.
    I'm not sure what context exists for the "Little Guido" gimmick outside of the Full Blooded Italians gimmick (and Johnny the Bull, just about the only guy I can think of who could be a "Big" Johnny to Little Guido, is on the RAW roster), but gimmick aside, the fact is the Fed is picking up another cruiser who is something other than just a Warp Seven high-flyer.  Guido's stiffer, more mat-based style will make him unique to the division.  At least, until Ultimo Dragon shows up...
    JR also had word that former Shawn Michaels' student "Spanky" (real name Brian something-or-other) has signed a WWE developmental deal.  Based on what I saw from a tape of Michaels' fed a couple years ago, Spanky was going more for that Warp Seven type vibe, but I doubt what I saw on that tape was indicative of what he's capable of today.
    And to close out with JR's noteworthy items:  Mike Awesome (just released last week by the Fed) has secured work for All Japan Pro Wrestling.  It is also JR's hope that Shawn Stasiak will join Awesome for some tours of Japan, after which they'd like to re-evaluate his progress.
  • Speaking of going to Japan for seasoning...
    The Immolator is interested in hearing from anyone who has information about any Japanese indie feds or dojos operating near Sapporo, Japan.  
    For those who don't know, the Immolator is OO's resident Columnist in Training.  No, not training to be a columnist.  He's already good at that.  He's training to be a pro wrestler.  Having written about his exploits from first training session to being a seasoned veteran with literally PAIRS of matches under his belt, I guess ol' Immo is thinking about taking his act overseas.
    If you can help out with the dojo/indie fed issue, contact him at theimmolator@onlineonslaught.com.  And if you're unfamiliar with his work, start following his progress in The Ring Archives.
  • The Fed mixed up their rosters for house shows this weekend, mostly to allow RAW's Canadian faction to consolidate with the SD! brethern for shows north of the border.  
    RAW's roster shipped Jericho, Christian, and Lance Storm over to SD! shows, and in return, they got use of Kurt Angle, Billy, and Chuck.  At least, I think that was it...
    Most notable is that these oddball shows will likely go down as some sort of odd historical footnote as the last defenses of the InterContinental Title.  As OO Readers reported, Kurt Angle made it a point in his pre-match promos to talk about "bringing the IC Title home to SmackDown!" before facing off against Kane.  With the Kane vs. HHH PPV match set, it's unlikely Kane would have to face a challenge from his own roster in the next six days before the IC belt is unified with the World Title...
    Angle/Kane was the main event in Rochester, NY, on Saturday night.  Sunday night in Buffalo, they went on prior to the intermission so that HHH/RVD could headline (HHH was absent from the Friday card, so RVD was bumped down the the pre-intermission match against Flair).
    Second most notable item from the mixed-roster shows:  on the SD! brand show Sunday night in Calgary, Edge and Christian re-united as a special attraction.  They beat Eddie and Chavo Guerrero, and yes, Five Second Poses were granted.  They were the main event in Calgary, and the night before in Edmonton, Eddie/Edge in a one-on-one match was the main event.

  • I know you people come here for the wrestling talk, but sometimes I like to cover some other matters.  To paraphrase one Jack Black, I'm sort of a Rock Dude, and as such I like to pass my wisdom along in those matters whenever I can...
    And it struck me that I've been pretty remiss in pimping for the slew of really good records that 2002 is in the midst of producing.  The record that shook me out of my funk in this particular case was "One by One," which is the new Foo Fighters recording coming out in a few weeks.
    I knew the single kicked all kinds of ass since it went into MTV's rotation a week or so ago, but getting to hear all 11 tracks (and "The One" from the Orange County soundtrack tacked on as a bonus), I can confidently say that I like "One by One" TONS more upon initial review than I did "There is Nothing Left to Lose."  Granted a bunch of the material on "Nothing Left to Lose" grew on me (especially after I saw it performed live), but the rockers on "One by One" rock on the record (without the benefit of live-show histrionics) and when it's time to get moody, you've got some cool laid-back melodies (but not too many, which is good!). Then when it's time to be anthemic, you've got some stick-in-your-head sing-along choruses, as well.  
    As always, opinions arrived at after only two or three listens are subject to change, but I think "One by One" will end up being on my VERY short list at the end of the year.  What's more amazing is that there will be such fierce competition for spots... I mean, what do I say when good new records by some of my favorite artists like Mudhoney ("Since We've Become Translucent"), Tom Petty ("The Last DJ"), Guided by Voices ("Universal Truths and Cycles") and the Chili Peppers ("By the Way") are shunted down to the second tier?  The upper echelon this year is reserved for the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion ("Plastic Fang"), the White Stripes ("White Blood Cells"), and Queens of the Stone Age ("Songs for the Deaf"); like the Foos, these three made improvements upon their previous official album releases. And all four acts kicked demonstrably more ass than anybody else that I've bought records of this year. [No, I am not counting the X-tra Acme as an official JSBX album, because it kicked up much ass and would thus screw up my little thematic observation.]
    And that's without even taking into account we've still got a new Nirvana record forthcoming!  That "new" single, as you should have heard already, is really good, and with all the bootleg trading I did back in the day, I can safely say that there is a ton of other pretty cool un-widely-released stuff that could be compiled for the new album, too.  Then again, I'm a guy who still -- in true Pavlovian fashion -- turns and asks "What?" if somebody refers to me by the letter "N" (of which I have a grand total of zero in my own name), so maybe if you do a little bit of the math for yourself, you'll conclude that I might possibly be biased in this regard.
    And that's also without delving into the "obscure indie rock shit you haven't heard of" pile, either (CHERRY VALENCE, people!). Or did I take some huge liberty in assuming that you'd know who Mudhoney and GbV are?

    You can toss in groups like the Vines, the Hives, and the Strokes getting increased exposure, too (of the three, the Hives stand out as my favorite)...  which probably all comes together to make this the best Mainstream Music You Can Purchase at Best Buy Year I can remember since, well, since a long time ago.  Like maybe even back to when Grunge was cool... [and ever so briefly, so was I.]

  • And with that, I bid you adieu.  As always, spoilers from those of you attending TV tapings in Montreal or Toronto this week are very much welcome.  Just drop me a line if you see the shows and want to take the time to type up the results!
    Till 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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