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Dream Match '97!  And Other
Monday Newsbites...
November 25, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This is weird...  I'm sitting here on a Monday afternoon, and I'm thinking, "Man, I can't wait to watch wrestling tonight."  This is how it was for years, but some of that magic evaporated over the past three or four years.  Some of it was Nitro starting to outright suck; some of it was the fact that Monday afternoons became my appointed day to WRITE about Monday night wrestling; and of course, we cannot shortchange the shittiness of RAW in recent months as another reason to be less excited about Monday nights.

But for all my excitement, well, I better still do some writing, too, right?  Here goes:

  • The 1997-ish Golden Era of the Monday Night Wars is not just represented tonight by an intangible "gotta watch" vibe.  Nope: it's also represented by a RAW main event that would have propped up more than a few pants' tents among the hardcore wrestling intelligencia who populated the internet back five years ago.
    Shawn Michaels, in late '97, was perhaps at his most marketable, ever.  Though he reigned as a babyface during the period immediately prior to RAW getting its ass kicked by Nitro, he really connected as the evil leader of Degeneration X.  And it goes without saying that, heel or face, Michaels always delivered in the ring.  Fresh off his Montreal Screwjob win over Bret Hart, but prior to the Royal Rumble match that saw him suffer a thought-to-be-career-ending back injury, Michaels was a lightning rod for heel heat, though.  You couldn't have asked for a better "total package" if you were going to promote one Dream Match.
    Rob Van Dam, in late '97, had been working in ECW for about a year.  But it had only been 8 months prior, when the wrestling world assumed that RVD was jumping ship to either the WWF or WCW, but shocked everyone by staying in ECW and adopting the "Mr. Monday Night" monicker, when everybody took notice.  Now permitted to talk (instead of just letting his innovative offense do his talking for him), Van Dam riffed on Shawn Michaels during this period.  When Michaels dubbed himself "the Showstopper," Van Dam called himself "the whole fuckin' show."
    It wasn't precisely a dialogue between the two, but hardcore fans who watched both men work couldn't help but imagine a scenario in which Michaels and Van Dam might meet.  I even did some wacky Fantasy Booking back in the day, focused primarily on a WWF/ECW cross-over; thought I'm pretty sure my pay-off was Michaels vs. Sabu, I'm guessing I might have had HBK crossing paths with RVD at some point.
    It took five years, but now here we sit, ready to enjoy Dream Match '97!  In all fairness, though, these are not the same men as they were five years ago.  Michaels, obviously, has suffered a serious injury that will continue to hamper him at some level, and also can simply not be expected to be as sharp as a man who has been working steadily for the last five years.  [To his credit, Michaels has turned it on for his two PPV matches this year... but this is free TV, and he'll only really have to work about 8-10 minutes, I bet.]  And RVD isn't quite the highspot machine he was five years ago, opting for a few more psychological and storytelling elements in his matches, instead of merely displaying a prodigious moveset.
    What'll they be able to show us tonight?  I'm not entirely certain.  But I can't wait to find out.
    If you wanted to further rain on my parade, you could point out another potential problem with tonight's match:  the finish will, more than likely, involved Triple H running in to cause a no decision.  I hate non-finishes like that.  But HHH was MIA all of last week's show, and despite being on the shelf for at least another week with his throat injury, he'll probably be well enough to swing a sledgehammer or say a few words tonight.  What better targets than the guy who injured his throat (RVD) and the guy who took his title (HBK)?  Plus, it fits into a plan that would make HBK vs. RVD vs. HHH the RAW main event for December's Armageddon PPV (which makes sense if their goal is to protect Michaels by putting him in multi-way matches where he can get some rest while others do the work). 
    Elsewhere tonight on RAW:  the Original Dudley Boyz are back, and after cutting down Three Minute Warning, you'd think they'd want to go after the tag titles held by Chris Jericho and Christian...  Jericho and Christian haven't been getting along too well, lately, making them potentially easy pickin's. 
    Jericho might have something else on his plate, too:  he's apparently been tapped to be RAW's first sacrificial offering to Scott Steiner.  He might need to get out of the tag situation to facilitate that.  Note, however, that Steiner is being hyped as a guest of SmackDown! this week, which might preclude an appearance as a guest on RAW.
    Minor storylines:  Victoria is still nutso, and is still women's champ; Trish is the only real babyface challenger on the RAW roster (I guess Jackie's babyface by default when she wrestles Molly on Heat, but really...)...  Val Venis is no longer Val Venis; his new name and role as Bischoff's right-hand man should be explained this week...  The Tough Enough Saga, with Chris Nowinski, Al Snow, and Maven will continue; so far, student has gotten the better of the teacher, and it's about time for Maven to step in and help Al...  Dave Batista got the better of Kane last week, and seemed to have the endorsement of Ric Flair; this week will tell us whether Project Batista is in full effect, or if this is something that's going to fizzle fairly quickly. 
    Even if you can't share my enthusiasm, hopefully you'll check out tonight's show, anyway.  If not, hey, come on back to OO tomorrow, and Lee Filas will fill you in with the SCJ RAW Report.
  • Some notes from the weekend's WWE.com Jim Ross Report that might be of interest:
    Brock Lesnar's schedule will be reduced in coming weeks to allow his rib injury to heal...  like Rey Mysterio, Kurt Angle will have minor knee surgery in December...  Nathan Jones is very close to signing his WWE developmental contract...  Ross singles out Charlie Haas, Red Dog, Spanky, and Little Guido for praise, noting that the latter two have started house show dates with the SD! roster; JR referred to the guy "formerly known as" Guido, which has got me thinking that a repackaging of Guido as Jamie Noble's cousin is in the works  (didn't Noble call him "Nunzio" or something on SD!?)... 

  • Speaking of SmackDown!, the final rating for last week's show was a 3.5.  That's down one-tenth of a ratings point from the week before...  it also means that last week, SD! was only seen in about a half-million more homes than RAW, which is about as narrow a margin of victory as I can recall recently.
    Not that I've been doing a particularly good job of paying attention to such things...

  • Also, just for the sake of putting my two cents in: I did get a chance, since we last spoke, to watch my tape of SD!... it seemed maybe the pacing of the show was a bit off, with more slow spots/dead time between actual wrestling than usual.  But a few more seconds on the fast forward button aside, I enjoyed the program.
    Angle/Eddie was, hands-down, the best of the lot, with both Noble/Rey and Benoit/Chavo close behind.  Kidman/Tajiri should have been really good, too, but seemed way too short to develop any kind of flow.
    TCF's Recap of the entire show is right here.
  • A few readers checked out UFC's big PPV on Friday night.  The 40th UFC event, live from Las Vegas, featured a returning Ken Shamrock in the main event.
    By most accounts, Shamrock was unspectacular in the match, lasting three rounds before the referee decided to stop the match and award it to the obviously-dominant Tito Ortiz.  One reader said Shamrock landed only one solid shot the entire fight, and seemed to describe things as if "unspectacular" would be a compliment to Shamrock's performance.
    Me, I didn't see it and won't comment further.  I just thought other fans would like to know what the former WWF IC Champ is up to.  Also of note to wrestling fans:  UFC announced that former WCW star Tank Abbott will be returning to UFC on an upcoming PPV.

  • Some additional info about recent changes to the World Wrestling All-stars roster...  WWE's signing of Scott Steiner robbed WWA of their champion, and publicity for the upcoming WWA tour of Europe was quickly changed to remove Steiner.  But in his place were Perry Saturn and the Godfather, both apparently "on loan" from WWE, in return for their signing away Steiner.
    Well, Saturn's status is actually "free agent" at this point.  He said he was issued an early release from WWE last week, so that he could pursue other opportunities, including the WWA tour.  No idea what this means for Godfather... but the fact that he's getting to keep the Godfather gimmick in WWA promotional materials (which surely is property of WWE) would point towards him still being on good terms with WWE, rather than having been released like Saturn.
  • Last bit today isn't exactly wrestling news, but it's pretty funny.  To me, anyway.
    Remember a week or two ago when I did a big thing about how WWE should make "All My Life" by the Foo Fighters the official theme song for Royal Rumble...  you know, how the whole "prize at the end of the road" verse leading up to the "done, done, on to the next one" chorus would strike the perfect tone for a video hyping the Rumble match?
    Well, too late, WWE.  An OO Reader from up the road in Columbus sent me a message saying their CBS affiliate used the song and concept for a video tribute to Ohio State's 13-win road to the Fiesta Bowl.
    Apparently, this was one of my really good ideas that I have maybe once or twice a year!  I'm so proud.
  • As always, I'll be looking for folks to pass along reports from WWE TV tapings tonight and tomorrow.  If you attend and want to help with the OO Spoiler Report, just drop an e-mail with results from those shows.  Thanks in advance...
    See you Wednesday with a final pre-Thanksgiving update!


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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