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RAW, Austin, Tazz, More...
November 27, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I'm sure everybody (in the good ol' USA, at least) has got better things to obsess over these next couple days than rasslin' news...  so, get that turkey and fixin's ready, go a notch bigger on that belt, bemoan the fact that the Tigers and Cowboys always get to play on Thanksgiving even though they both suck, and then try -- just try -- to go anywhere in public on Friday without it being a logistical traffic nightmare.

But even though OO will be taking a day of rest on Thursday, I figure there will be some updates on Friday, so stop by at some point over the weekend for those.  And of course, before I head home to mom's for a day of gravy-slathered gluttony myself, I'll heap this helping of midweek news on to your plates:

  • Monday's RAW was... well, maybe a step sideways.  Not a notably bad show by any means, but definitely one that lost the forward momentum that recent weeks have brought it.  There may, however, be very good reasons for that which have nothing to do with the creative or physical effort.  [We'll touch on those later.]
    Starting at the end:  Shawn Michaels and RVD had themselves a nice little match.  Clearly, in 8 minutes and with Michaels still working his way out of a five year retirement, they didn't blow anyone away, but they did very solid work.  One question popped into my mind, however:  how many matches will Michaels have where a guy targets his back (but to no ultimate avail) before fans grow tired of the stab for sympathy and realize that, real life injury aside, Michaels' spine isn't going to suddenly, spontaneously give out on him? 
    The run-in by Triple H at the end -- Pedigree for RVD on the floor, backbreaker through a chair for HBK -- was predictable and obvious.  But still, somehow, mildly frustrating.  For as long as Michaels' matches are going to be doled out sparingly, I'm betting, however, that Michaels' matches with decisive finishes will be even more rare.  On free TV, his matches will have to tell stories to set up PPVs, which is what this one did.  It really does seem like HHH vs. RVD vs. HBK is where they should go for the PPV main event in December, now...  which makes the finish on RAW a bit more understandable.  
    If I had to pick some stand-out performers on the night, it'd probably the the Dudleys, Chris Jericho, and Christian.  They had a really good opening match (one that I actually thought was just a hair better than the main event) with a Double Dusty Finish that established a very good reason for the Duds to be upset and frustrated with "Vitamin C."  The ensuing theft of clothes and towel-clad pursuit was funny, for the most part, and played to the strength of all involved.  [But actually, the funniest bit of the whole show was Jericho's brief aside comments backstage regarding Scott Steiner and his gibberish.  Jericho is talking my language, there!]
    Wrestling-wise, the only other real notable match was Victoria vs. Trish Stratus, which was another good contest between the two women.  Without the hardcore gimmick, it wasn't quite as exciting as Survivor Series, but I actually thought it WAS better than the previous month's PPV match.
    Storywise: I think the establishment of Sean "Not Val Venis" Morley as some sort of selective-law-enforcing henchman for Eric Bischoff went pretty well.  I'd rather see them go all-out for the original Bill Alfonso in ECW vibe (try to clean up the whole damn company) than just the cheap heel trick of Val just choosing to enforce rules when it helps heels and hurts babyfaces, but whatever.  At least this way, I think we can safely get rid of any lingering dread we may have had that we'd ever see another "choppy choppy the pee pee" angle...  Kane vs. Batista wasn't much of a match, but Batista went over with the help of Ric Flair, so things look somewhat promising for Project Batista (or "Project Lesnar 2003," if you prefer to be a cynical SOB)...  face turn for 3 Minute Warning?  It seemed like it might work when they had their face-to-face with "Vitamin C" (but they'd have to lose Rico, I think)...  
    With a few pointless and boring bits (Goldust/Rico, Test/Richards both leap to mind, and Hardy/Hurricane vs. Regal/Storm was a disappointment considering those involved), this didn't pack the punch of last week's show.  Still, more good than bad, though.  Lee Filas has the SCJ RAW Recap, if you want the full details.
  • The rating for Monday's show was a 3.5, which is down a tenth or two from the week before.  If they thought they'd hold on to the additional post-PPV audience with the promise of Michaels vs. RVD, I guess they thought wrong.  
    Still, considering where RAW was before the PPV, a 3.5 has got to be relatively satisfying...
  • As alluded to above, there were outside factors that might have handcuffed the RAW team on Monday night.  Upon returning from the successful tour of India, the crew was already going to be dealing with jet lag and the general malaise that comes with being fresh off an 18 hour plane ride.
    But that was complicated further when several RAW performers became ill Sunday and Monday.  Worst hit was Booker T, who -- as announced by Jim Ross -- was hospitalized on Monday afternoon and did not appear on RAW.  Obviously, something the guys ate or drank while overseas did not agree with their systems... 
    I'm confident that Booker's absence threw a monkey wrench into creative plans for Monday's show, and other stars were probably not even close to feeling 100%.  But the show had to go on, and everyone should be back at full strength by next Monday night.
  • Steve Austin plead no contest to charges of domestic abuse on Monday, and was sentenced to a year of probation, 80 hours of community service, and to pay a $1000 fine.
    Terms of the probation include attending family violence counseling, not drinking any alcohol, and not leaving his home county without the permission of the court.  
    Quotes from Austin in various newswire reports indicate he was very penitent, and did not expect to ever do anything to land himself back in court again.  He also said he was working on getting things back together between himself and Debra, and was also interested in reviving his wrestling career.
    Now that the legal aspects of Austin's problems are over, I'm sure WWE would be more amenable to his return.  If his head's back on straight, he'd obviously be an asset to a company that has had trouble drawing as many fans to their three-hour shows as Austin did for a mere personal appearance last week.  [Note that the terms of Austin's probation wouldn't pose a realistic threat to him returning to wrestling: his character doesn't necessarily have to guzzle beer, and the court would definitely allow Austin travel privileges for work-related reasons.]
    If you're the sort of nosy bastard who likes such things (I must admit that I am), then check out TheSmokingGun.com for a look at Austin's mug shot and plea agreement.
  • Tazz was absent from SmackDown! tapings last night, having been granted the night off by management to tend to personal business.  He's expected back next week.
    Of note:  taking Tazz's place on color commentary was "The Cat" Ernest Miller.  If he impressed folks with his work, my guess is he'd land as SD!'s #2 color commentator (currently, Michael Cole has to pull that duty for "Velocity"), and perhaps as a periodic in-ring performer.
    My understanding, however, is that Miller had not signed any kind of binding WWE deal going into the guest shot... so nothing is a done deal.  
  • A UK judge ruled earlier this week that all videogames pre-dating this past May -- when WWF became WWE -- have to be pulled from shelves.  
    With new games becoming available (or in the case of the newest SD!: Shut Your Mouth game, having already become available), you have to think this will only be a minor logistical headache, not a major financial one.  Sales of the last round of still-WWF games would be grinding to a halt soon, anyway.
    Still, I can't help but wonder at the retroactive nature of this ruling.  Obviously, it doesn't affect us in the US, but what if it did?  I cringe at the thought of future DVD releases or historical retrospectives having to be editing, altered, or redubbed because some jerk-ass tree-huggers want exclusive rights to all PAST use of the WWF initials, as well as present use.  This is a shitty precedent.
    Spielberg can go back and PC-ify "E.T." if he wants...  but they'd better leave me old timey rasslin' alone, goddammit!
  • Congratulations are in order for both Kurt Angle and the Undertaker...  both their wives have given birth to healthy baby girls in the last week.
    Many suspect that this means Taker -- who had been using the time to heal up, as well as to support his wife, Sara -- could be back on TV very soon.  Why do I fear the folks on the OO Message Board are right:  that Brock's comeback win over Big Show is going to be put on hold while we're all "treated" to another go 'round between Show and Taker?
  • Scott Keith sent me a quick message correcting my mention of the latest UFC PPV...  Ken Shamrock's unspectacular showing against Tito Ortiz did not end due to a ref's decision, but rather due to Shamrock verbally giving up in between rounds.
  • I got an e-mail several days ago that I just sort of filed under "OK, I'll believe it when I see it"... it went something like this: a guy who works for a major airline mailed in to say that he spotted Bret Hart being booked to fly to Florida on the WWE's dime (a couple days before Armageddon in Tampa, no less).
    Now, not to disparage a reader trying to tip me off, but my momma taught me not to accept news from strangers... but that message did pop back into my mind when Jim Ross briefly tangentialized about Bret when Lance Storm used the Sharpshooter on RAW.  [Why Ross would go off like that confused me... if he's going to say anything, why not "That's the Sharpshooter, most recently used by The Rock"?  Bringing Hart into the mix was a total non sequitur.]
    An odd confluence of circumstance, certainly, but likely nothing more...
  • Sean "SyxxPac" Waltman is apparently through with NWA-TNA... from his side, he's apparently not happy with the way Vince Russo has re-emerged as a major part of TNA.  From TNA's side, they are not happy with Waltman's recent no-shows and posted a fairly scathing "he doesn't work for us anymore" message on their website.
  • Waltman had been scheduled in a tag match on tonight's TNA PPV, actually... he's been replaced by BG "Road Dogg" James.
    The line-up for tonight's show is headlined by a return match for the NWA Title.  New champ Jeff Jarrett defends against "Tha Truth" Ron Killings...  Vince Russo, who revealed himself as Mr. Wrestling III and helped Jarrett win the title last week, will probably play some role in this match, too.
    The featured undercard match (and really, the best reason you have to buy the show tonight) pits Jerry Lynn against AJ Styles in a battle for the X Division Title (currently held by Lynn).  These two have been staples of the division since the start, and are just about the two best workers on the entire TNA roster.  Should be outstanding.
    Other matches already signed:  Curt Hennig and BG James challenge the Disciples of the New Church (Slash and Brian Lee) for their tag titles...  Chris Harris and James Storm (former tag champs) take on the Hot Shots... and Chris Divine and Brian Storm ("Devine Storm" so that they don't get confused with TNA's other Chris and Storm team) take on a pair of Briscoes (or so they claim).  
    The usual slew of familiar faces -- like Lenny, Bruce, Brian Lawler, April Hunter, Sonny Siaki, and others -- will be on hand, too, to round out the card.
  • With that, I'm finished for today.  Again, best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving to the folks to whom the holiday pertains...  we'll be taking a day off here tomorrow, but will be back with an update on 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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