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RAW, HHH/Lesnar Injuries, More...
November 20, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


If you missed 'em, the Spoilers are here.  Otherwise, let's just get on with a non-spoiler-based helping of mid-week news:
  • For the second straight week, RAW got it right.
    This week's show was perhaps a bit lighter on the actual wrestling (but that's a purely subjective call based on what I can remember), but it was a great example of a show that centered on storytelling without resorting to retardness like "Katie Vick."  It can be done.
    Shawn Michaels, apparently, will not be receiving quite the same Hulk Hogan Ovation for his comeback title win... when he was teasing that he'd just lose his smile and drop the title, there was a definite smattering of boos in there.  His delivery of promos and stuff probably does lean more towards the heel side, but as long as he keeps on having good wrestling matches and tossing lines like "No, it offends me as WRESTLING FAN" out there, I'm pretty sure the majority of us who remember what he did for about 10 years of WWF service will stay behind him.
    But with Michaels now committed to defending his title at least until his battered body gives up, it sets up some interesting scenarios.  Obviously, as I outlined Monday, I think this all builds to Triple H being the guy to bring Shawn crashing back down to reality.  But I wouldn't guess that happens till Royal Rumble at the earliest, now.
    An HBK who can work two or three times per month can do some cool things in the interim.  That starts next week against Rob Van Dam.  And also as I talked about on Monday, it seems like Chris Jericho would be an ideal opponent for Michaels, too.  There's some business for Shawn to take care of before he's got to deal with Triple H, that's for sure.
    And speaking of Jericho, he got to be the guy who welcomed Scott Steiner to RAW.  Talked circles around him, actually... but I guess that's to be expected.  But we'll save my diatribe about Steiner's more annoying habits for another time.  Because on Monday, he was integrated well enough into storylines, and did a reasonable enough job getting at least one point across: that he's pissed that he was watching RAW and SD! and seeing guys he thinks he's better than claiming that they are big stars.
    At that point, I had two thoughts:  (1) that maybe, just maybe they were going to pull the ballsy play of putting Booker T out there and trying to take Steiner heel.  Or (2) that Jericho would be the first lamb.  Either way, you had to figure it'd be some ex-WCW guy that Steiner thinks is crap compared to him and his mind-bending physique.  And of course, though it all, they managed to not have Steiner actually commit full time to RAW, so it's not like you can pencil in Jericho vs. Steiner at the next PPV or anything...
    From a wrestling side: the main event was about the only in-ring action of note, and it was solid.  Jericho gets a lot of credit for making it work, as the sole heel in there and as the guy upon whom Steiner's eventual run-in was predicated.  But like I said, this wasn't a show that was really about ***** wrestling.
    Other stuff:  I'd almost rather have seen the reformed Dudleys get some promo time to explain their reformation, rather than a (basically meaningless) rematch from the PPV...  pretty good storytelling with Victoria, Stacy, and Trish (the formula of sacrificing one non-physical diva every now and again to further Victoria and Trish's very physical feud seems to work)...  Dave Batista running in and powerbombing Kane is the next step for Batista's character rehabilitation, and I liked it; SD! should take notes at the slightly slower and more methodical approach RAW is taking to build up Batista (unlike what they did with Big Show), who -- in the eyes of fans -- has to recover from being Rev. D-Von's lackey; also, the added Flair Factor is interesting (is he thinking Four Horseman 2K3?)...  
    Good show.  The second in two weeks.  You can get the Full Report from Lee Filas in the SCJ RAW Recap.
  • And it wasn't just a good show, it was a show that people tuned in to see.  Bouncing up a half-ratings point from last week's atrocious showing, RAW scored a 3.7 cable rating for Monday's broadcast.  Next week will tell us whether that was a "curiosity bump" from people who just wanted to see what happened at the PPV, or if they can sustain that level of viewership.
    Still, even at a 3.7, RAW's absolute number of viewers remains about 20% fewer than SD!'s, due to the vagaries of cable vs. broadcast ratings numbers...
  • Triple H sustained his neck injury when Rob Van Dam frog splashed him off the top of one of the mini-chambers on Sunday...  RVD, having to modify his delivery due to the roof of the Chamber, wound up landing with his shin across HHH's neck.  For the rest of the match, HHH had difficulty breathing, especially after any jarring bumps.
    After the match, HHH was hospitalized for over 12 hours, and the diagnosis was basically the soft tissue in the neck was swollen from the impact, constricting HHH's breathing.  There was no damage to the trachea or esophagus or anything, but he was still kept for observation to make sure the swelling wouldn't go any further and prevent him from getting any breath at all.
    He was backstage at RAW, but not used.  He was having difficulty speaking and swallowing, and has been told it'll be at least 10 days before he can wrestle again.  But also, it sounds like he's probably lucky to have gotten off this easy.
    Compounding HHH's problems: a wrist injury that he hasn't even had looked at (because he didn't feel like hanging around the hospital any longer).  Once doctors were sure the neck swelling wouldn't cause him to die, HHH figured he'd get the hell out of dodge and worry about the wrist another time if it didn't get better.
    I anxiously await the Jackass Brigade's declaration that "Cripple H strikes again."  Oh, wait... I'm sure it's already happened...  and I'll leave Kyle Maxwell to deal with them tomorrow.  [The Jackass Brigade might be only slightly less off-target if they thought to point out the rating that RAW pulled in the absence of HHH...]
  • Brock Lesnar's injury status has also been updated:  at present, he's only planning to miss one round of house shows (this coming weekend), and will not miss any TV tapings.  Upcoming appearances are likely to be in non-wrestling capacities, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Lesnar will not be getting physical...
    With Lesnar's willingness to work hurt (albeit in a limited capacity) through an injury that should probably take about 6 weeks to heal up to 100%, I grow only more frustrated by the decision to put the big gold on the Big Show.  It seems like if "Well, he needed to take time off" is your only real reason for relieving Lesnar of his undefeated streak and title belt, then you're out of ammo:  they could have maintained at least the appearance of activity if he's capable of doing TV run-ins and stuff like that.
    I know, I know... it's not worth obsessing over.  I said my piece on Monday, and I'll leave it at that.  Pardon me for selfishly not being very excited about Big Show being the main event on shows that feature guys like Benoit, Angle, Edge, Rey, the Guerreros, and the cruiserweights.
  • Right now, the RAW roster has departed the continent for a three-show mini-tour of India this weekend.  The first event is tomorrow night (Thursday) by local reckoning of time, which for all I know translates to sometime during the Wednesday overnight hours, east coast US time.  
    There are also shows scheduled for Friday and Sunday, with the crew then jetting back for a live RAW in North Carolina on Monday.
    At last report, Triple H -- who was scheduled to headline the tour -- was still planning on traveling with the RAW crew and making appearances.  But he will not compete.  Nor will new champ Shawn Michaels be making the trip.  That leaves Chris Jericho as the lead heel on the trip, with Kane, Booker T, and RVD as viable main event babyfaces.
  • For fans of a couple of veterans who've been out of the limelight for a while, there may be a chance to enjoy their written words, even if there's not timetable for TV returns...
    Hulk Hogan's book came out yesterday... and while I've been told it's conveniently vague at times and comes suspiciously close to re-writing history at others, it's still a very entertaining and informative read, especially for fans of the Hulkster.  And of course, with WWE pimping for the book, there remains a lot of speculation about Hogan possibly returning to TV at some point soon...
    If Hogan's book toes the line of historical revision, Roddy Piper's flaunts a complete ignorance of it.  With a bravado that could simply be internalized mis-rememberings of past events or an outright case of a worker still working to the bitter end, "In the Pit with Piper" casts Hot Rod as the indisputable nexus of the wrestling universe for about 20 years.  On top of that, a press release about Piper's publicity tour in support of the book goes so far as to suggest that unseen forces are sabotaging Piper's efforts to promote the book because of his stance against the current wrestling product.  OK, so put me in the "worker working until the bitter end" pile, I guess...
    And Bret Hart fans will be happy to hear that the Hitman will be resuming his weekly column in the Calgary Sun at some point before the New year.  Hart's been recovering from a June 24 stroke, and had suspended the column during that process.  It's good for Bret's fans that he'll once again provide them a weekly dose of his thoughts, but even better for Bret that he's to the point where he feels ready to do the column.
  • Finally for today, a quick preview of the NWA-TNA pay-per-view scheduled for tonight...
    In a lot of ways, this is the pay-off to all twenty-odd weeks the promotion's been going.  Tonight, Jeff Jarrett -- presumed by many to be the no-brainer choice for the company's title and top roster spot -- gets a shot at Ron Killings' NWA Championship.  Jarrett had to go through a tournament just to earn this shot at a title he has not yet held since the inception of TNA.
    Compounding matters for Killings: even if he deals with Jarrett, he's got a mysterious masked "Mr. Wrestling III" hounding him.  But if MW3 (not to be confused with 3MW!) shows up, will he go after Killings and help Jarrett win?  Or would he try to keep the strap on Killings so that he (MW3) could take the title himself at a later time?
    The NWA Tag Titles will also be on the line, as new champs Slash and Brian Lee (managed by the sinister Jim Mitchell) grant a rematch to the old champs, Chris Harris and James Storm.
    In the background -- but possibly capable of stealing the entire spotlight -- is an X Division Title defense by Jerry Lynn against the Amazing Red.  Red's been more around the fringes of the X Division, and I think this is his first chance to shine in a one-on-one match of this importance.
    Also:  the Spanish Announce Team takes on the Harris Boys in a match to determine the #1 Contenders to the tag titles (both teams won matches last week to advance to this qualifier)... and an X Division Title shot is up for grabs in a three-way dance between AJ Styles, Jorge Estrada, and a new guy by the name of Crimson Dragon.
    Check out TNA tonight, or come on back tomorrow for Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' PPV Recap.
  • Alright, kids, I'm done... see you Friday! 


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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