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RAW, Wrestler vs. Boxer, Steiner,
and Lots More!
October 30, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


OO comes to you through rain, sleet, driving snow, and even through the first really debilitating illness of the season...  you fine people can thank the generic brand equivalent of Sudafed and Tylenol combined into one convenient tablet for my presence here today!  At least, I think that's what's in it...  something for the nose and something for the head, anyway.

What I know for sure, however, is that there's actually a lot to talk about today:

  • Well, I'm not gonna fall over myself praising Monday's RAW as the greatest thing ever...  but after last week, it at least feels good to want to TALK about the damn show, instead of just ignoring it in hopes that it'd go away.
    Let's start right at the top, with HHH, the mannequin, and then the HHH's-head-up-his-own-ass skit: in short, this got us where we needed to go.  The HHH/Kane feud was in a much better place when we ended the segment than when we started it.  But oh, man alive, was the road to get there ever an arduous one.
    Plus ten points to the RAW creative team for realizing what I've been saying for the past 2-plus weeks:  that this whole stupid angle can only work at a comedic level, and can only work at that level if all the participants are on the same page (instead of having one do comedy skits, while the other is still so deadly serious that he's making threats of corpse-fucking).  To that end, we opened up RAW with HHH re-affirming that this is all just a joke to him (after thankfully glossing over last week's "locked-in-the-trunk" finale with a quick and logical "out").  And then, finally, Kane came around, and let the Hurricane go out there with a bit of comedy of his own.  No more "you really hurt my feelings with your inane bullshit about Katie Vick."  Just "Ha ha, really funny.  Now get your head of your ass, and let's fight."
    However, as the great writer once said, minus several million for style.  Just like "I screwed your brains out" might have been a half-way decent punchline last week, I actually thought the head-up-the-ass thing was really funny (way funnier than last week, to be honest).  But just like last week, whoever is writing this stuff showed a complete lack of moderation.  You wrote a funny punchline?  Good, use it.  But don't keep piling total crap into a skit, please.  When crap goes on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, and on, it has the end effect of reducing how hard I'll laugh at that punchline.  No matter how funny.
    More than ever, I contend that what WWE needs is not necessarily a whole new creative mindset, or a Vince-Russo-esque "shot in the arm."  They need to start small, and just hire somebody to sit in on creative meetings... job title:  the Stupid Patrol.  Somebody who wouldn't necessarily be the savior of RAW, but someone who's sharp enough to see when the other creative team members start spiraling out of control.  And then, to put the foot down...  something like, "Hey, you were on to something there before you got up to the seventeenth item being pulled out of HHH's ass...  why don't we go back and tighten this up a bit, because otherwise, it's gonna blow chunks."
    Admittedly, I've been a proponent of the Stupid Patrol position for years now mostly because I see somebody like myself able to fill it.  You know:  short on contributable ideas, but long on criticism.  But watching RAW lately, I just flat-out think they need SOMEbody to monitor the silliness, and I don't care who.
    Beyond that...

    Well, Shawn Michaels has decided NOT to wait till WrestleMania to step back in the ring again... the question now is: what kind of schedule is he prepare to resume?  I'm not quite sure I was ever sold on that "one match and I'm done" line of goods, but now, we enter a strange realm:  if we believe HBK is all-but-done in the ring, then what the hell is the point of giving two shits about him being in a World Title match.  We know he can't win.  Or do we secretly suspect that he's been working us all along, and that maybe he's got more in the tank than he's let on, making him a possible 2- or 3-times per month performer, and thus, a viable champion?
    That's something the Fed's gonna have to wrestle with, because as I noted last week, I simply do not see the value of putting Michaels into this Elimination Chamber match.  Because fans are going to be intrinsically suspicious of HBK's chances of actually winning, the better play would have been to keep the Michaels/HHH feud as a sidebar, something that would be entertaining in and of itself, but which has no other major repercussions.  Handling it this way dilutes the Michaels/HHH feud (which is actually Shawn's only reason for being active at this point, unless you suddenly, out of nowhere, have Michaels do an about-face next week, talking about how much he wants to regain the title, instead of talking about just taking one last shot at his arch-nemesis, Triple H).
    I'd also argue that having Michaels in that match reduces the number of believable winners by one-sixth.  Except that it doesn't really.  I mean, c'mon:  who really thinks that Rob Van Dam or Chris Jericho could win, either?  And Booker T is only an outside shot because I really think there's a lot of value in a Booker/Steiner feud over the same belt they fought for in the waning days of Nitro. 
    Quick other thoughts:  The Bubba/Hardy vs. Jericho/Christian tag match was the best in-ring contest RAW has had since the TLC match a few weeks ago.  Kudos to all involved.  [However, it's worth noting that the tag scene is just as big a mess as it's ever been, with no pressing issues for the tag champs, and mostly makeshift teams like Bubba/Hardy and RVD/Dreamer populating the ranks of babyface challengers.  At least there are established duos like Regal/Storm and Rosie/Jamal on the heel side.]....  it seems like Snow/Nowinski is the only other feud even remotely ready for PPV (beyond the Elimination Chamber issues), which is not a good sign...  how far the "Test-icles" will go is purely up to Test, I think; I'm sure some will opine that this is some sort of rib (from the hair-cut/UnAmericans fall-out), but the aforementioned Al Snow is just one of a number of guys who have shown just how far you can go if you do your best to try to sell an utterly ridiculous gimmick...
    Full, detailed results from RAW are available in the last-ever CRZ RAW Recap.
  • By the way, I guess this is as good a time as any to make a quick personal comment...
    CRZ has played a lot of roles -- everything from fellow WWF cheerleader at a time when WWF fans weren't yet welcome on the internet to the guy who bailed me out when I decided I didn't wanna watch Nitro every damned week anymore to exploitable drawing card who let me republish his reports and siphon off his audience -- in the time we've known each other.  But mostly, I just think of Z as "good people."
    He's one of the few internet wrestling people I've met in real life, so my opinion of him, necessarily, goes beyond just what I read each week.  I wish him and Kim nothing but the best, and thank him for the years of quality material and loyal friendship.
    And I'd say I secretly hope that this is just another brief hiatus, except that I know it's not true.  Since Z told me of his plans to quit over a month ago, he never wavered once, and if anything, grew only more resolute as D-Day approached.  Like he said, the most you might hope for are maybe an opinion column every now and again; but the days of 65 kilobytes of everything that happened on RAW are over.  It's for real.
  • The rating for Monday night's RAW:  a 3.4.  That's a drop off of three-tenths from the week before, which itself was not a particularly well-rated show considering it should have received the benefit of a post-PPV bump.
    I'd say something along the lines of "that's what happens when you focus on shocking us, instead of entertaining us," except that I find it's best to just let the numbers do the talking for me.  Afterall, who the hell knows what they'll say next week?
  • Alright, so get this:
    We've all heard the talk about a proposed Lennox Lewis vs. Brock Lesnar shootfight.  Lewis' camp tried to dismiss it, saying they HAD talked to WWE about Lewis coming in as a guest referee, but that'd be about it.  From the WWE side, the buzz seemed to subside a bit after the initial jolt.
    Now, according to a report on BoxingInsider.com, there are perfectly good explanations for all of the above.
    First:  the plan was to have Lewis come in to guest ref a Lesnar match, but then there'd be a quasi-shoot angle to build hostilities between them.  While the angle would be a work, it would build to a shoot boxer vs. wrestler match between the two.  The timetable for this was originally going to be February, 2003.
    Second: on the same February pay-per-view event (not a wrestling show, to maintain the air of legitimacy), Kurt Angle would face boxing heavyweight Michael Moorer in another shootfight.  The plan was to hope that both Angle and Lesnar could win, and then have them go on to WrestleMania to face each other in the main event.  [To prepare, Vince McMahon was going to employ Ken Shamrock and/or Don Frye to help train Lesnar and Angle and augment their amateur wrestling skills with more submission/shootfighting skills.]
    That explains why Lewis' people did not want to admit that there was more than a referee gig on the table...  but the reason why this thing has apparently been back-burnered is because of scheduling conflicts for Lewis.  The next time he'd be available for something like this is now said to be October, 2003.  Which is why we haven't heard quite as much about it.
    But according to BoxingInsider.com, WWE is still interested in moving forward.  They go so far as to report that both Angle and Moorer have agreed, in principle, to their match, provided that Lesnar vs. Lewis is a done deal.  
    Additionally, WWE has contacted the Nevada State Athletic Commission about promoting a PPV event in Vegas.  Some of the rules outline for the proposed fights:  licensed boxing officials would score at ringside and referee the matches, but wins could come by way of either KO or submission...  boxers will wear gloves and be allowed to punch, wrestlers will NOT wear gloves and will be forbidden to strike...  and after an as-yet-undetermined amount of time on the mat, the referee would return both fighters to a standing position.
    I'll be honest:  this story just gets curiouser and curiouser.  You can get BoxingInsider.com's full report right here.
  • Though Scott Steiner is signed, sealed, and delivered to WWE, he honored a prior commitment last night in New Jersey, wrestling for Stars and Stripes Championship Wrestling.
    Steiner defeated Steve Corino in the main event of an otherwise uneventful show (or maybe its just that the majority of fans who showed up were only there to see Steiner and were unreceptive to the rest of the show).  By all accounts, Steiner was -- cosmetically, anyway -- in every bit as freakishly good shape as he was last time we saw him on TV in WCW.  The match against Corino didn't exactly extend him, physically, but Steiner was also said to be more active than he was on previous WWA PPV appearance in that regard.
    Steiner is set to continue meetings with WWE this week, laying out the direction for his character and doing photo/video-shoots to aid in the forthcoming hype for his debut.  At this point, the timetable is not 100% firm, but it looks like you can expect vignettes for the next couple weeks, with Steiner debuting either at Survivor Series or at the TV tapings immediately after.

  • As if the possible appearance of Steiner on Monday nights isn't enough, there might be ever FURTHER "nitro-fication" of RAW in the works:  "the Cat" Ernest Miller worked darked matches at both sets of WWE TV tapings this week.
    The guy may have gotten his job because he was a karate buddy of Eric Bischoff's, and he may have remained pretty much one-dimensional inside the ring...  but he did develop nicely as an on-screen character over his tenure in WCW, so who knows?  With so many homegrown and fresh talents waiting in the developmentals, I probably wouldn't be in much of a hurry to sign anything but the biggest, most impactful free agent/ex-WCW performers... but then again, I'm not in charge, am I?
  • Finally for today, we've got an NWA-TNA PPV tonight, and once again, it looks to be a mix former Big Two talent and less-known but hard-working performers... but does TNA have the right formula this week?  You'll have to tune in to find out?
    Top scheduled matches include Ron Killings defending the NWA Title against Scott Hall, and a mini-tournament to determine a new #1 Contender... most of your marquee names will be competing here, whether it's Hall taking his shot at "Da Truth's" title, or names like Curt Hennig, SyxxPac, Jeff Jarrett, Brian "Grandmaster Sexay" Lawler, or BG "Road Dogg" James in the tourney.
    I believe it's only the four first-round tourney matches that'll happen this week.  Those pairings are:  Curt Hennig vs. Jeff Jarrett, Ron Harris vs. BG James, SyxxPac vs. Brian Lawler, and Jerry Lynn vs. Sonny Siaki.  Anybody else already betting the farm on Jarrett/James and SyxxPac/Lynn in the semis?
    For the fans who don't care about box-office-draw potential, the real reason to check out tonight's show is the X Division Title match pitting AJ Styles against the Amazing Red.  After a few weeks around the waist of SyxxPac, the championship is once again being contested by two guys who you may not know so well, but who can flat-out blow you away.
    Other matches:  Tony Mamaluke vs. Kid Kash, Ace Steele and Mortimer Plumtree vs. Jorge Estrada and Priscilla, and Chris Harris and James Storm defending the NWA Tag Titles against both the Hot Shots and Rick/Chris Michaels.
    Come on back to OO tomorrow for Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' full recap.  Also, his on-site report from the 54th Anniversary NWA Show should be up soon, too.
  • I'm done for today.  I'd sign off by saying something about getting myself some hot tea and a nap as part of my recovery, but I'd hate to think you people have finally realized what a pansy I am.  No!  I'll knock this thing about with whiskey and cigarettes!  Yeah!
    That'll turn me around and have me in great shape to come back at you again on Friday.  See you then....


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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