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Eating PPV Crow, RAW, and
Other News...
November 18, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


There's no lack of things to talk about today, so let's cut the crap and get to it:
  • The easy way out would be to simply re-iterate what I said in my immediate post-show recap about Survivor Series, last night...  that it was a fun show, entertaining, with three or four really good matches, and a definite big time feel.
    But as it turns out, there are a few other things that are worth saying, too.
    First, to the people who read my Friday preview and wagered any money in Vegas based on my predictions:  I am so sorry.  Picking the Heat match right doesn't count, so going into the main event, I was sitting on an 0-for, with my only hope of redemption riding on Shawn Michaels' shoulders.  Which, unfortunately, are connected to his surgically reconstructed back.
    You would not believe the glee of my friends as we sat here, watching match after match end in the exact opposite of what I predicted.  Normally, I nail things pretty good on PPVs, but not this time.  After the third match ended futilely for me, on of these so-called "friends" questioned my expertise, and decided randomly to predict that the "first person introduced would win the rest of the matches" (a trend he picked up on because challengers were winning all the title matches)  In the three remaining matches, he got two right; I got one (Jericho entered first, but Michaels won the Elimination Chamber).  I was emasculated on every count.
    And the second topic of conversation is related to what I expected/predicted out of Survivor Series: I was quite critical of Big Show's title win, but was willing to predict and embrace Shawn Michaels'.  To some, this is being viewed as a very contrary sort of position to maintain, as a semi-crippled Michaels does not compare all that favorably to a slow, methodically, but ultimately healthy Big Show.
    In other words, if I'm going to bitch about Show taking the title off Lesnar, then I should complain about Michaels getting the title off Triple H.  Neither one, apparently, is championship material.
    Well, allow me to retort.
    In the case of Big Show and the WWE Title, you had extraordinary extenuating circumstances.  Something like Project Lesnar does not come around every year; he was an undefeated rookie champion, one fans started responding to favorably despite his heel manager.  To tear that down should have been an extraordinary event, and this is where Big Show enters the picture.  Because I simply do not accept that one month of ass kicking negates years of mid-carding.  It's a starting point to character rehabilitation, not the final product.  For my personal tastes, I'd have liked to have seen a handful of inspired, motivated in-ring performances out of Show, too, in addition to the storytelling elements of his push, before he got elevated to the very top.
    A championship title is not "real" in wrestling; it doesn't really mean you're the best at anything.  But it's a signifier of who the company believes is integral to the product, and a tool to help elevate them.  With Lesnar, he was believable enough that the tool was helpful.  Now putting the title on Big Show as a means of trying to help elevate him?  Well, the tool is insufficient:  it's like attempting to dismantle a jet engine with one of those little screwdrivers they use for glasses and jewelry... it won't work, and you'll probably end up breaking the tool in the process.
    I know all the reasons why this was a necessary move:  for one thing, it's the cleanest, most decisive way to tell the story of Paul Heyman stabbing Lesnar in the back.  And second, it gives Lesnar time off to recovery from a rib injury.  I want to think that those are things that could have been worked around:  have Heyman keep leeching off Lesnar, making the eventual split mean all that much more... for the next month, he could have kept making deals so that Brock wouldn't have to wrestle actual matches (which would have the real life effect of resting the champ's ribs, but in storylines, Brock could grow increasingly upset with Heyman, which in turn would drive Heyman to decide to find a more easily-led sheep in a month or two's time).
    Also: in the last few weeks, I've made my big case for Paul Heyman managing Rhyno when Rhyno returns in the next month or so.  I thought that'd be a perfect scenario for a fresh challenger to Lesnar corresponding with Heyman finding a new protege.  Rhyno, unlike Show, is coming back to a blank slate (he's been out for a year), rather than starting a big push from a mighty deep ditch of perceived mid-card-ness, and might have benefited from a bit of work with the aforementioned "tool."  [You filthy dogs!]  In any case, I would have saved up Lesnar's first loss for something substantially more special than the Big Show... something like elevating a fresh new star (like a Rhyno, or if roster affiliations permitted, Booker or RVD would have been good choices, too) or like blowing off a big time rivalry (which is something I think Lesnar could have against Kurt Angle, or a couple other guys).
    So what makes Shawn Michaels different from Big Show?  Hey, I hope it's not this easy, but let's try it on for size:  Because I remember six years ago.  It's called "goodwill," and Michaels put an awful lot of it in the bank over his tenure as an active star.  I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm taking it easy on the half-his-old-self HBK at least in part because I remember how good the 100%, full-speed version of him was back in the day. [A similar past version of Big Show sort of existed, but he was never THAT tremendous, and plus, while Michaels has been out of sight and out of mind for years, Show's been right here in our faces, with uninspired early-card performances.]
    It's not a ridiculous double standard, either.  Like I said above, wrestling isn't REALLY about who is the best.  There is an element of perception that plays a big role in whether a match FEELS like its big time and entertaining.  Shawn Michaels still has the knack for storytelling, and his unique position as a semi-retired guy with a debilitating injury all the more sympathetic a babyface.
    Well, unless you're one of these conspiricists who cannot enjoy any of Michaels' work based on the theory that he and his clique buddies are ruining things behind the scenes.  There were people who could enjoy Shawn's work in his prime, either, and they still exist today in the form of people who aren't even going to consider HHH/Michaels from SummerSlam as a Match of the Year Candidate, even though it had about 10 times more of that "Big Time" intangible than any of the outstanding work done by the SD! tag teams in recent months.  All because the Clique is Evil and HHH is ruining wrestling.  Whatever...  I'm digressing, and I need to get back on track.
    So, yes, Michaels is not his old self.  He may not be a viable long term champ.  But for one night, he put on a good show, he gave us a memorable finish, and if you're honest with yourself, you'll admit that 50% of Shawn Michaels is still as good as or better than today's 100% version of the Big Show.  Thus, my apparent "double standard."
    [And I know I come off as a huge Big Show basher here, which is something I want to temper a bit.  No, on the purely subjective criteria of "who I'm a fan of," I can't say Show ranks all that highly.  But like I said, I enjoyed a lot of his work over the past month from a "work in progress" perspective.  He is a giant, he should not be moving around like a cruiserweight, and what defines a good match for him will be different from what's good from a six-foot, two-hundred-pound guy.  It's just that while I'm willing to give him a chance to re-invent himself as that nasty giant, I'm just not ready to accept that the job is done after just one month of getting re-pushed.  The work is in progress, and I acknowledge that...  but this outcome should still have been a month or two away.]
    Some other stuff from Survivor Series:
    Michaels' World Title win comes five years after his last WWF Title win. At Survivor Series 1997 in Montreal, he unexpectedly took home the WWF Title after the famous screwing of Bret Hart.  An interesting little trivia bit.
    Another unexpected title anniversary:  It's been three years since Big Show surprised everybody by taking Steve Austin's place in a WWF Title match at Survivor Series '99.  He walked out with the title that night, proceeded to have a so-bad-you-wish-you-could-forget-it feud with Big Bossman for a month or two, then dropped the title to HHH.  So I guess Survivor Series retains its title as the PPV Home of Unusual Title Changes?
    My first instinct was that the SD! Tag Title match was the best of the night last night... but both the Chamber match and the opening tables match were really good, too.  Kudos to the RAW team for putting the right guys out there in the right situations, and then to the talents themselves for hitting the ball out of the park; it's been a while since RAW visibly held its own against SD!, but that's exactly what happened last night.
    All in all, despite the questionable booking (and despite my nearly 0-for performance in front of the crew who -- unlike you all -- are usually pretty impressed with my knowledge and expertise!), Survivor Series was still a very good show.  Even the two matches that were least entertaining were (a) the shortest two -- women's title and Lesnar/Show -- and (b) featured a few moments apiece that still made this worthwhile (Lesnar F-5'ing the Big Show was price of admission caliber all on its own!).
    As I said, full details are right here.
  • So that brings us to tonight's RAW, where we can leave Big Show talk at the door, and instead focus on Shawn Michaels holding the diamonds and gold...
    Is Shawn holding back on us?  Can he -- or will he -- work every couple of weeks, often enough to maintain his role as champ?  Or was this a one-shot deal?  Michaels could just lay down the title on RAW tonight, saying that after enduring the punishment of the Elimination Chamber, he knows he cannot do the title justice...
    But I'm hoping it's not that.  Because for one thing, giving the title up without doing a job in the ring is too much Old School, Bad Attitude Shawn Michaels.  It'd give the aforementioned conspiricists a bit too much hand in our little difference of opinion, anyway.  Plus, for a title belt that was created out of thin air and handed to Triple H on a platter, you don't want to eliminate whatever legitimacy or lineage has been built up over the past few months by simply starting from scratch with a new tournament.  
    So, what are we left with:  Shawn Michaels has to defend that title.  And it'll kill you all to hear this, but whether it's tonight or next month on PPV, or whenever, the guy who takes the belt from him will be, and should be, Triple H.  Oh, dear, the Clique strikes again!  But honestly, HHH has given up two clean decisions (and his title) to a retired guy.  Yes, he gave it up to his good buddy, but he still needs to get something back.  Being the guy to bring Michaels back to reality should suffice.
    The rosy, pie-in-the-sky optimist's outlook here is that Michaels COULD work once or twice a month, and wouldn't have to lose the title (so very predictably) in his first defense.  Hell, after last night, I think it'd be great if Michaels did a mini-program with Chris Jericho (headline December's PPV), before going back to Triple H (for the Rumble), or something like that.  I hope that the Fed has options like this, and that they haven't booked themselves into a corner just to give us a special moment at last night's PPV.
    In any case, Shawn Michaels' first address as World Champion (a title different from the one he previously held five times) should be quite illuminating.
    The other big question mark for tonight:  will Scott Steiner show up?  And if he does, is it in the role of Guest Star while maintaining his free agent status, or does he commit to RAW full time?  What the WWE needs right now are top heels, but based on the way the crowd responded to Steiner last night, they've got themselves a babyface sensation.  So I guess toss out the notebook of ideas for reviving Booker vs. Steiner...  in fact, if Steiner's gonna be a face, I'm not sure exactly what you could do with him on the RAW roster.  HHH and Jericho are the only two really viable top heels on the show, and both fit in better with Michaels at this point.
    The RAW tag division got a boost last night, too, as D-Von Dudley returned to his old self, at the side of Bubba Dudley.  On a roster that has solid heel duos in Three Minute Warning and Storm/Regal (as well as the makeshift tag champs, Jericho and Christian), having an established babyface team around is a huge step forward.  Bubba had nominal success as a singles, but I think reforming the Dudleys is the right move for everybody involved.
    Check out RAW tonight to see how the fall-out from the PPV plays itself out... or come on back to OO on Tuesday for Lee Filas' recap of the show!
  • WWE.com is reporting that Triple suffered an as-yet-undetermined throat injury during the Elimination Chamber match.  I didn't note any one particular spot where that might have happened, but unless it was at the very end, it apparently wasn't anything that hampered him from going to the planned finish with Michaels.
    If I'd had to bet, I'd have thought Rob Van Dam came out of the Chamber the worst for wear.  He had a couple spots that looked like they genuinely hurt him for real...
  • Some stuff from Jim Ross' weekend WWE.com column, while I'm cribbing:
    The reported injuries to Justin Credible and Ivory from last week's RAW tapings weren't so bad: Credible suffered a stinger, necessitating an early finish to his match with Tommy Dreamer, and Ivory got a few stitches in her lip, but both are basically fine...  Kanyon got good grades for his dark match outings last week, and will probably be reporting to the SD! roster by the new year...  WWE has reached a verbal agreement with Nathan Jones, and has not ruled out the possibility of bringing in Ernest Miller...  Rey Mysterio will be on the shelf for a couple of weeks following a minor knee surgery on December 5...  Billy Gunn's bad shoulder still has not been definitively diagnosed, but he's still got some numbness in his arm and will be evaluated again in a month...  and finally, JR confirms that Lesnar will receive some time off now, to allow his ribs to heal up.
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.6 broadcast rating.  That's the same as last week's number.  SD!'s audience dwarfed RAW's last week by nearly one million households, which has led many to speculate about not just Scott Steiner going to RAW, but also to a renewed dialogue between WWE and Steve Austin about him also appearing on RAW.
    I'm not so sure that totally rash measures would be resorted to after one week's worth of really poor ratings for RAW, but hey, I'd welcome Austin back readily enough.  I'd be more fired up for that than Hogan or Rock returning on SD!, anyway... but that's probably just me.  And it's definitely dismissing the simple fact of the backstage elements that would be involved with any potential Austin return...
  • And I think with all the long-winded rambling I did at the top, that should be just about enough for today.  Folks in the northeast, you're on call:  send some TV tapings spoilers my way, please!  We'll post 'em on Wednesday, along with the rest of the midweek news.
    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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