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Big Poppa Pump is Signed,
and Other Weekend News...
October 25, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


You know how I like to bitch and moan on Fridays about how there's never anything to write about over the weekends?  Well, not this time.

That's because:

  • "Big Poppa Pump" Scott Steiner has officially signed with World Wrestling Entertainment.  Though Steiner's entry into WWE has long been considered a foregone conclusion -- more a question of "when?" than anything else -- the official announcement can allow us to triple the Warp Factor on our blithering fanboy speculation about how Steiner might be used in the Fed.
    Mainly:  which roster will Steiner be assigned to?
    To me, it's actually a very simple matter...  if Steiner surfaces anywhere other than on the RAW roster, I'd be shocked.  Storyline-wise, Steiner appearing at the side of his old boss, Eric Bischoff, makes a lot of sense.  And from a backstage/business perspective, RAW simply needs all the help it can get.  Steiner, even if only in the short term, will boost interest in whichever roster he's assigned to.  Plus, on a live edition of RAW, the Fed can "surprise" us with Steiner; that's something that couldn't be done with a taped edition of SmackDown!
    The difficult and interesting question is whether Steiner will be used as a heel or a babyface.  When major names jump ship, the fans' immediate instinct is the cheer the acquisition.  And RAW could use somebody to step up as a top babyface:  whether due to getting cold feet and backing down (in the cases of RVD and Booker T) or flat-out creative incompetence (in the case of Kane), the RAW crew has not manufactured a fan favorite who feels like a bona fide franchise player.  But on the flip side, you could argue that Steiner's greatest run was as a heel in the dying days of WCW, and that he should reprise that role in WWE.  Certainly, if the creative team could ever harness the potential of Booker, RVD, and Kane, then the right move would be to have Steiner ride out the initial cheers and rise to a top heel spot alongside Triple H.
    Were Steiner to appear on SmackDown! instead, it would only serve to increase the perceived gap between the two shows.  Though I said on Wednesday that I almost felt like WWE was TRYING to get us riled up over RAW by putting more thought into shocking us than into entertaining us, I don't honestly believe that the ultimate goal is to convince every single viewer that SmackDown! is demonstrably better than RAW by having RAW suck as much as possible week in and week out.
    That said, just about the only in-ring pairings involving Steiner that I could find myself getting really excited for would be Big Poppa Pump against guys like Benoit or Angle.  Even if he's now healthy and medically cleared, this is still the "genetic freak" version of Steiner, and not the technically-sound and innovative worker who existed 10 years ago.  Still, a stiff, power-based, suplex-centric style could click against like minded foes.  Those exist on SD!...  it'd be harder to find a good match for Steiner on RAW.
    And here in lies the rub:  in Steiner, WWE can't be quite sure what they are getting.  They may be confident that Steiner is healthy enough to adopt a full, regular schedule from a medical standpoint (after over a year of recovering from various injuries, including a foot injury that has lingered).  But what of his value as an in-ring worker?  Even before injuries set in late in the dying days of WCW, Steiner was simply not the same guy in the ring that he used to be.  Is it a question of his added bulk?  A question of motivation in the chaotic atmosphere of WCW?  In short, is it something that can be overcome if Steiner shows up on his first day in WWE, ready to bust ass?  Or has the Fed gotten their hands on another Hulk Hogan, a guy whose value is in his gimmick/persona, and not in his ability to have killer matches?
    Then again, even at his best, Steiner was never Hulk Hogan, either.  His signing is big news, no doubt.  But I think Steiner's (seemingly inevitable) arrival in WWE has taken on a magnified significance due to a couple of reasons.  First is because he was the franchise for the final year of WCW's existence.  And second is because he's been off the radar for a year and a half, allowing fans to forget that the final year of WCW's existence was a clusterfrick in many ways.  We remember "Steiner was the franchise," and not what he was the franchise of.
    As a gimmick/personality, Steiner's value is marginally more solid than what he can be counted on for in the ring.  When given good material to work with, I thought Steiner was a very effective, compelling heel in WCW's last year.  Unfortunately, he didn't always have something interesting to do.  When Steiner was spinning his wheels, he'd go into content-free, moon-man language promos that were neither cool, nor productive from a storyline perspective.  Hopefully, with the Fed's braintrust behind him, we can watch Steiner stay on task.
    Keeping the lead pipe (and Midajah, too) and losing the rambling, pointless promos would be the best way to get Steiner off to a good start in WWE.
    I'm sorry if I don't sound like I'm making as big a deal out of this as I should be.  Truth is, since the mid-90s, I haven't really been a huge Scott Steiner fan.  Of the major performers during WCW's last year who haven't yet surfaced in WWE, I'd have put Steiner well below Jeff Jarrett on my WWE wish list, from a pure entertainment/performance perspective.
    In this case, I mostly just recognize his value as a big name... whether or not he can step up and entertain is another matter.  But at the same time, he's proven on more than one occasion that he's capable of great things.  Scott Steiner has wowed us before, and may do so again if the stars align properly.  It's not like I can accuse the Fed of throwing money down the drain here; I'd reserve that judgment for -- oh, let's say -- the day the Fed signed Lex Luger to a contract.
    This is more like how I anticipate I'll feel when WWE signs Bill Goldberg: cautiously optimistic, but waiting to be shown the Fed's gotten something more than just big-name box office appeal in the bargain.  
    Let's sit back and see how this all works out...
  • Last night's SmackDown! certainly had its moments.  The Rey/Edge vs. the Guerreros tag match was tremendous.  The Angle vs. Benoit main event only slightly less so.
    But you give me Big Show in four or five segments, emerging as a main event player, and I still can't help but walk away feeling a certain level of dread.
    Look, I've never been one of these Big Show Haters, who harp on his slowness or weight.  Hell, the guy's a freakin' GIANT: he should weigh 500 pounds, and he should be a bit more methodical in his style than your average luchadore.  If anything, I grant that he's been hamstrung by weak booking just as much by his own seeming lack of motivation.  I don't want to get into a whole chicken and the egg argument trying to decide which of those two things came first, and which was the result, but they do go hand in hand.
    That said, Big Show has NOT been a main eventer for years.  He has NOT connected with an audience in a significant fashion in that time.  Having him win a three-on-one handicap match, switch shows, and throw the Undertaker off the stage is a STARTING POINT to a push.  It's not, however, a sufficient justification for Show rising magically from curtain jerker to main event status.  You gotta start with the busy week Show had, see how (or if) fans respond, and build up from there.  Instead, BOOM, instant title shot for the Big Show.  And instantly, BOOM, SD! is now delivering a second rate title match for Survivor Series, one which the crowd will likely be dead for.
    Then again, it's RAW's turn to amaze us with a PPV main event (which they appear to be setting us up for with whatever the "Elimination Chamber" winds up being).  If nothing else, I guess we can say that sacrificing Big Show to Brock Lesnar means we can protect some other, more promising/entertaining performer from jobbing to Lesnar for another month.  It should also provide Lesnar with the right opponent to start transitioning into more of a babyface role (which, in turn, will allow Heyman to put his heelishness behind a new protege who can challenge that ingrate Lesnar... Rhyno, anyone?).  I guess that ain't all bad.
    And while I might be obsessing over SD! turning into the Big Show Show for one night, the fact is, SD! was far from all bad, itself.  In addition to the aforementioned outstanding matches, there was also a very good Tajiri/Knoble contest, and some fun promos/exchanges between Benoit, Angle, and the Guerreros.  The in-ring show-down between Benoit and Angle was particularly amusing, mostly because Stephanie's closing line about letting them fight for "that stupid trophy" lent the segment the perfect tone:  there's genuine hostility between Benoit and Angle, and the trophy was nothing more than an excuse for the two of them to fight.
    And there was a lingering question, too:  who did Steph trade away to get the Big Show?  It didn't seem like anyone major was missing last night, did it?
    You can catch up on results from SD! right here.
  • The overnight rating for SD! was a 4.4, which is down two-tenths of a point from last week's overnight number.  As always, the overnight number is only a marginally useful guide for SD!'s true performance.
    The final rating will be available by the time I come at you again with Monday's OO.
  • At some point in the last two days, Mick Foley was scratched from today's edition of "Byte This."  The WWE's weekly webcast was slated for a big show this week, with Foley and Eric Bischoff as guests live at The World in NYC.
    No reason was given by WWE, and Foley was just quietly removed from hype for the show.  However, while addressing folks at Southern Illinois University last night, Foley mentioned that he was upset with the content of Monday's RAW, and as a result, backed out of the "Byte This" commitment.
    In any case, "Byte This" is still live later this afternoon in NYC.  In addition to the still-scheduled Bischoff, the Fed's doing a piece of co-promotion for the "Jackass" movie and will have one of those guys on.  
    Of course, I expect the real star of the show to be Scott Steiner, who will no doubt be the primary topic of conversation.  Hell, if he's up in Stamford signing paperwork, anyway, it wouldn't shock me if he actually decided to show up at The World as a super secret surprise bonus.
  • I've been hearing that some people are saying that Shawn Michaels will be active and back in the ring for Survivor Series...  and while I'm not necessarily sold on Michaels' own proclamation that he'll hang it up for good after just one last match, I don't actually have any reason to believe HBK will be back quite that quickly.
    As Michaels outlined in his very effective promo on Monday, he could conceivably torment Triple H from the shadows for months.  You want to build this up over time, not just throw a returning HBK into a multi-way "Elimination Chamber" match where his feud with HHH is watered down.
  • The SD! crew is over in Europe as we speak.  They had a very successful kick-off to their mini-tour last night in Helsinki, Finland.
    The show was headlined by Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit defeating Rey Mysterio and Edge to retain the WWE Tag Titles in a very good match.  And as discussed Wednesday, Booker T did, in fact, end up being the guy sent over from the RAW roster to replace Undertaker: he lost to Brock Lesnar in the semi-main event (actually, the pre-intermission match, but obviously the second biggest of the night).
    E-mail reports say there was a big crowd that was pretty hot throughout the show.  And of course, with the crew they've got, the SD! brand delivered the goods.
    As usual, the real MO for going over the pond is to promote a Europe-only PPV.  The Rebellion PPV takes place Saturday night in Manchester.  The scheduled main event was supposed to be Undertaker vs. Lesnar and Heyman in a handicap match; with Taker out and Booker in, that pairing doesn't make as much sense, so the scheduled card might be in for some shuffling.
    Other matches scheduled for the PPV included Kurt Angle vs. Edge, Chris Benoit vs. Eddie Guerrero, Jamie Knoble vs. Rey Mysterio, and Matt Hardy vs. Rikishi.  Hey, I'd watch that show!
  • Slightly comical, self-deprecating anecdote time (hey, it's still Friday, and I gotta throw in SOME sort of non sequitur to fill up space!):
    OK, so in the last couple days, I got some e-mail talking about WWE putting up some new divas pictures. Apparently, they screwed up and put some pictures in that had some partial nudity?  Or something like that?
    Now, I hate to reveal my base nature, but I read a couple of these messages, and off I went to go look.  Hey, you tell me I can go and see Ivory in a see-thru top, and I'm there, dude.  Nipples, man!  Nipples!  Don't you know how IMPOSSIBLE it is to find a good pair of exposed nipples these days?!?  [Actually, I felt absurdly Lawler-esque for a moment, but I got over it...]
    Problem is, after a cursory examination, I discovered I had no idea what the hell people were talking about.  Click, WWE.com.  Click, the Divas section.  And then click, click, click, click, click...  there's no special new section with "Divas Undressed" pictures as far as I could see.  I theorize that The Rick was the victim of a particularly cruel piece of misinformation.
    Someone shall burn in hell for this, I assure you...  
    Oh, wait, maybe it's not a total non sequitur:  because I did want to mention that somebody on the OO Message Boards posted some of the pictures from the new "Undressed" magazine.  You'll find them in the Divas sub-section.  [BAM!  There's another couple thousand page views for me! And without doing a whit of actual work myself!]    

  • And finally, speaking of me benefiting without doing any actual work:  the Annual OO Pledge Drive continues!  As we launch our second year free from the tyranny (and deep pockets) of SportsLine, OO looks to you, the Home Viewer, to help me keep the site paid for and my fridge full of Pabst Blue Ribbon.
    Donations via Amazon, PayPal, and the US Mail are accepted. Full info is right here
    Thanks in advance, and I'll see y'all again on Monday.


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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