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More From No Mercy, RAW Preview,
and Lots More...
October 21, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Ahhh... the Monday after a PPV.  It's like we get to press a magic Reset Button.  Did the Fed perish while trying to dodge the rotating steel blades on Level 9 this time?  No problem!  Just wait till after the PPV and try to get it right the next time.

SmackDown!'s doing just fine, but the RAW brand still needs to find its voice, the right formula of old school wrestling and new school Crash TV.  Previewing just what to expect on RAW as we start down the road to one of the original "Big Four" PPVs (Survivor Series) is just part of our business today.

So let's say we get to it:

  • Sound like generally positive reviews for last night's No Mercy... in fact, sounds like most of you even liked it more than me.
    I don't think anyone would deny, however, that the SmackDown! portions of the show blew the RAW matches away.  And it wasn't so much because the RAW guys were half-assing it or anything... it's just that they didn't have anything near the effective storytelling or build up that the SD! matches had.  Thus, less reason to care, and less of that intangible "Big Show Atmosphere" that you need to differentiate a PPV match from a Monday night one.
    I've seen talk of the Benoit/Angle vs. Edge/Rey tag tourney final as being a Match of the Year contender (some of it from Scott Keith), and I'd probably have to put it on my list of nominees, too.  At this point, late in 2002, such lists of nominees and award winners becomes less a theoretical exercise than it was six months ago.  I'm not sure that I'd put the No Mercy tag title final in my own personal top spot, but just being able to earn your way onto the short list at this late juncture -- with so much good already in the can -- is saying something.
    Amazing work in that match, anyway, and it certainly sets up the SD! tag division for weeks and months of additional fantastic matches.  Benoit and Angle would be great against anybody, and when the top challengers include Rey/Edge and the Guerreros, well, we're all in for some treats, I think.
    And the main event...  I knew before the PPV even went off the air that a lot of people would be saying a lot of good about the match -- and about Undertaker, specifically -- simply because of the amount of blood lost in the latter half of the match.  And I guess that praise isn't quite as silly as last month's Taker Flame Fest after he "refused to job to Lesnar."  I mean, it's true that taking a razor blade across one's head does not make one a good wrestler.  But there's also a very good reason why blading has been a tried and true tactic inside the ring for decades: it's a storytelling device used to lend emotion to a match.  When combined with the very solid physical performances from both Taker and Lesnar, the gruesome crimson mask helped contribute to a match that may not have been a **** technical classic in the way the earlier tag match was...  but which was a match that you CARED about.  And when you invest that emotional connection into a wrestling match, you've got something uniquely special.
    I can point out that the blood and gore is not synonymous with good wrestling... but at the same time, I can't stop myself from having gotten a visceral thrill out of Hell in the Cell last night, just the same as anybody else.  It was a very dramatic, very effective main event.
    As for the rest, well, the SD! crew also contributed a good Cruiserweight Title match.  RAW's best match was probably the Triple H/Kane World Title match, but only because the last half or so of the match was well-plotted (with interference from Ric Flair and Hurricane) after a very slow start; either that or the Booker/Goldust vs. Jericho/Christian tag match, which was solid throughout, but unspectacular.
    The SmackDown! material really shined... on the other hand, the RAW stuff wouldn't even have turned heads on a Monday night.  Full results from the PPV are yours right here.
  • Which brings us to tonight's live RAW.
    Sadly, the Reset Button I talked about above may not come into play.  Instead of just dying and resuming the game from the last saved position, I fear that the Fed is going to try to stumble away from the rotating steel blades of the Katie Vick debacle, and try to continue on with its health meter flashing and in the red.
    How's that for a stupid metaphor?
    But I'm actually serious about being concerned that the HHH/Kane/Katie Vick thing is not over...  certainly, Jerry Lawler hyped the storyline elements of this inane angle to the detriment of the actual match last night, leaving one to suspect that we can't yet forget about Kane's manual transmission difficulties.  And then the finish of the match itself (interference from Flair and a sledge hammer) left the door wide open for a rematch demand by Kane.
    Now, whether or not Katie's last name is "Vick" so that the Fed can introduce Scott "Sick Boy" Vick in an on-screen role is just random fanboy speculation.  But between the unfinished business vibe from the PPV last night and the fact that HHH went out of his way to put over the concept that he had this information about Kane's past revealed to him by a mysterious source last week... well, the 17-year veteran of watching wrestling that I am, I can guess that the next step here probably includes HHH revealing his "source" and continuing to try to twist the knife in Kane's guts to keep him from being totally focused on taking the World Title away from HHH.
    I'd suggest just aborting this mission and trying to rehabilitate Kane's character as best as possible...  there might even be ways to continue on with this basic premise, but just without all the stupidity.  To start: you gotta just pull what they did on SD! with Taker's mistress, Tracey...  she admits the whole nonsense about the affair was a lie (which is wrestle-speak for "Sorry about this stupid bullshit, loyal hardcore smart fans, we take it all back," if you consult your secret decoder ring).  Similarly, you could have HHH admit that he found out about some accident in Kane's past and made up the rest to get under Kane's skin, but from there on out, shelve any behavior that would require HHH to morph into a brain-dead, underwritten caricature from "Guiding Light."  Keep it sensible and realistic, focused on the ring, and consistent with what we know about these characters that we've known for years, and you'll be alright.
    But I'm not holding my breath.  Last time I checked, I wasn't drawing a paycheck from WWE, so who cares what I think? Plus, the Kane/HHH showdown from last week was the highest rated part of the show, which, if you believe Kevin Kelly, automatically means it was the part of the show that people liked best.  More crap, please!  People seem to LOVE it!
    Beyond that, though, RAW might be in for a near-total reset.  The IC Title is now gone, leaving one less thing to fight over.  And the RAW tag titles (now dubbed the World Tag Team Titles) have, by virtue of the killer action on SD! the last month or so, become second-class straps.  The women's title is just gonna stick with Trish for another month or two until Jazz is back and business, so to speak, picks up.
    And I'm sure you've noticed by now, but I've kept forgetting to mention it:  it sure seems like they're going to great lengths to take the "WWE" out of RAW.  The SmackDown! titles have the designations of being "WWE" Titles.  The RAW Titles are all referred to now as "World" Titles.  It's the sort of thing that might make a fan like me -- who has been anxiously advocating some sort of DRAMATIC move to justify the whole Brand Extension thing (some of them even involving the naughty word "Nitro") -- think that there may be some sort of master plan at work, afterall.
    Just about the only feud that would seem worthy of being held over for another month is Jericho vs. Booker, who have not yet adequately addressed their singles issues.  Of course, if Jericho goes off an focuses on that, it only amplifies the prestige problems facing the RAW tag titles...  as far as those go, it wouldn't surprise me if a medically-cleared Bubba Dudley somehow stepped into the picture as one half of a tag title challenging team.  With Spike, or Dreamer, or even RVD, you could have a reasonably believable "ECW Reunion" team take the titles from Jericho and Christian... and you gotta assume that as soon as we get those belts onto a babyface tag team that DOESN'T include a world-title-challenging, no-stick-shift-driving corpse rapist who is busy with other things, then Rosie and Jamal will step up as challengers. 
    RAW spent the last month just sort of marking time in between the occasional jaw-dropping TLC match or entertaining promo.  This month, they need to have a vision of where they want to be at Survivor Series, and they need it RIGHT NOW so that they can lay the foundation and tell us a few weeks worth of compelling stories before we next shell out our $35.  No more of this slapping together a few matches six days before a PPV and hoping fans care.
    Check out the show tonight to see how the Fed does... or come on back to OO tomorrow for CRZ's full report.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! came in at a 3.4.  That's down two tenths from the last couple of weeks.  
  • Not a whole lot from Jim Ross' weekend column this time around... but I did mention on Friday that we could count on him for the absolute latest update on Billy Gunn.  And unfortunately, there isn't much of anything new: all that's known is what we knew last week.  That Gunn suffered a dislocated shoulder, and that a decision regarding surgery is still forthcoming.
    JR also notes that Terry Taylor has resumed duties as a road agent with WWE (a post he last held about 3 years ago, before he headed off to be a part of WCW dying days)...  also: both Maven and Kanyon will be reporting to OVW this week to begin getting ready for returns to WWE TV.

  • Mick Foley's been little more than an historical footnote for wrestling fans over the past year or so since stepping away from wrestling...  but he'll be, however briefly, stepping back into the WWE spotlight this Friday afternoon.  
    Foley will be a guest on a special edition of Byte This to be broadcast on WWE.com from The World in NYC.  Eric Bischoff will also be part of the show.
    What kind of stuff has Foley been getting up to in his absence from wrestling?  Writing (a forthcoming novel coming out early next year), for one.  And for another, Foley's become a popular lecturer on college campuses.  
    OO Reader "SLIMB+" notes that Foley is coming to his school, Southern Illinois University (home of the Salukis), this Thursday, October 24, at 7:30pm.  It's free admission at the Shryock Auditorium if you're in the Carbondale area.
  • I think that about does it for me today...  as always, I'll appreciate any reports from TV tapings that you folks can send along, and I'll be back in your face again on Wednesday, with the spoilers, RAW ratings, and other news.
    Till then, please keep in mind that OO needs your help... 


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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