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Angle Sucks (NOT!), and Other
Mid-week News
December 11, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Let the End of Year Festivities begin!  The internet's longest-running awards have been voted upon, and our Wrestler of the Year has been announced.  Who was it?  Let's find out:
  • Forget the banter between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels on Monday's RAW...  Kurt Angle is The Man.
    Angle was named the 2002 Wrestler of the Year by the Usenet Achievement Awards... this set of awards dates back to 1990, is the internet's longest-running wrestling awards, and have both mirrored smart fan opinion while also predicting future trends among mainstream fans.
    But not only was Angle named Wrestler of the Year.  He was also one half of the Tag Team of the Year (with Chris Benoit).  This marks the first time ever than one man has won both awards in the same year in the Achievement Awards.  
    Angle was also named Favorite Wrestler of the Year; the category is admittedly very subjective, but shows that we're all in on the joke when we chant "You Suck" at Angle during his entrance.  He was also named Best Worker, Best Heel, Best Interviewee, and was one half of both the Best Match of the Year and Best Feud of the Year.
    Also of interest:  Angle vs. Chris Benoit was Feud of the Year, while Angle and Benoit together were Tag Team of the Year.  I guarantee that's never happened before, either.
    My own ballot and opinions will be made public soon enough, but I absolutely agree with the honors heaped upon Angle this year.  Not only was he tremendous in just about every aspect of his performance, but he was also the one guy who performed at the top level for the entire 12 months of the voting year.  Guys like Steve Austin, Triple H, The Rock, even Eddie Guerrero, they all only worked portions of the year... but Angle did it all year long, and was outstanding the whole time.
    Most awards honor outstanding achievement, but the Usenet Awards -- being a uniquely Smark creation -- also exist to criticize and spotlight perceived poor performance.  And on that flip side of the coin, the big loser of the year was Triple H.
    HHH was named Least Favorite Wrestler of the Year, as well as garnering Most Overrated, Most Deteriorated, Worst Heel, Worst Babyface, and Worst Interviewee "honors."  As much as I agree with the awards bestowed upon Angle, however, I think this line of voting pretty much reveals just how much the internet has its collective head stuck up its collective ass.
    In years past, "Worst of" voting has always been a bit of a joke, however.  I've never been one to defend Hulk Hogan's in-ring skills, for instance, but his presence at the top of so many "Worst" categories for so many years was just retarded.  It's the workers who are so bad that they are gone in short periods of time who deserve to be singled out for awards like this; if, however, you're active for all 13 years of the awards, chances are, there's a reason you haven't been fired, yet.  Hogan was never as completely god-awful as the Usenet Awards would have seemed to indicate, nor is Triple H anywhere near the pariah that this year's voting would suggest.
    I cannot argue with "Least Favorite" voting... that's up to each individual to decide for him-/herself.  I may quibble with the criteria you're apparently using, but hey, it's your call to make.  I also voted HHH as my #3 Worst Babyface, so I can almost see your point there, folks.    But the other "awards"?  I doubt HHH should rate in the top five... maybe not even in the top 10.
    Even with the "Most Deteriorated" honor, which I think is a more obvious sort of award to give HHH as he came back from serious injury this year, I don't think there's a real case to be made for giving it to HHH.  I made this case a few weeks ago on the OO Message Boards: HHH's moveset is roughly the same as it ever was, but poor storytelling (like vs. Jericho and vs. Kane) has handcuffed him, as did an early year run as a babyface (which, while probably necessary, did not suit his strengths).  The psychology/storytelling aspects of HHH's matches have suffered this year, but in terms of what moves he's performing in the ring?  I think he's largely the same as he ever was.  But the HHHaters would never want to admit that they might have OVERrated HHH a few years back (when he was Wrestler of the Year in 2000), nor would they care to admit that HHH vs. Shawn Michaels was the Match of the Year in 2002 (which is what I, personally, voted for).
    Triple H was also involved in the Worst Angle (revelation that Kane was a murdering, corpse-raping bad driver) and Worst Feud (vs. Kane)... but I do not put those on HHH's shoulders, nor, do I think, does anyone else.  Those awards should be handed directly to the RAW creative team.
    I'm not suggesting this wasn't an off-year for HHH, because it was.  Other than for Match of the Year, I do not recall voting for him in any "Best of" categories... but I sure as hell cannot comprehend all the "Worst of" honors he's walking away with this year.  When you've got Big Shows, Alberts, and yes, even Jackie Gaydas to vote for, how does HHH rate so poorly?
    Other awards went to:  Booker T (Best Babyface, Best Angle -- for taking a one week joke with Goldust and turning it into a good tag team), Rey Mysterio (Best Flyer, Best Match), Chris Benoit (Best Tag Team, Best Technical Wrestler, Best Feud, Best Match), Brock Lesnar (Best Brawler, Best Move for the F-5), Trish Stratus (Most Improved), Matt Hardy (Best Gimmick), Edge (Best Match -- for Mysterio/Edge vs. Benoit/Angle tag title final on 9/22), D'Lo Brown (Most Underrated), Michael Cole (Best Announcer), Tazz (Best Color Commentator), SmackDown (Best TV Show), SummerSlam (Best Major Show), Paul Heyman (Best Promotional Move -- for taking over creative team on SD!).
    Other anti-awards went to:  Jackie Gayda (Worst Wrestler, Worst Match -- for mixed tag with Nowinski vs. Trish/Bradshaw), 3 Minute Warning (Worst Tag Team), Necrophilia in General (Worst Gimmick), Jerry Lawler (Most Obnoxious, Worst Color Commentor), Jim Ross (Worst Announcer), Excess (Worst TV Show), King of the Ring (Worst Major Show).
    Again, we'll be reprising alot of these discussions over who was worthy and who was not worthy as we near the end of the year... but for now, you can check out the full RSPW Usenet Achievement Awards over at www.RSPW.org.  And of course, big time thanks to CRZ for running the awards again this year and doing the menial work associated with compiling the results!
  • Monday's RAW gave us perhaps one of the best, most intense promos in recent memory.  But it also gave us little else.
    Ric Flair ranted in the face of Shawn Michaels for over 5 minutes, telling the story of how he (Flair) used to be The Man, and how the day came in the mid-90s when he realized that Michaels was The Man.  And from there, he declared that Michaels' best days are past and now, Triple H is The Man.  It was a fantastic job of weaving "real" smart fan sentiment and backstage drama into a storyline that has genuine appeal.
    Michaels, confronted with his own shortcomings in the present day, had to "find himself," and closed the show with a parking lot attack on Triple H that saw him bring back the full "Showstopper" persona of old.  Not only did smarks regale in the talk of the passing of the torch and what-not, the story made perfect sense to the average fan at home who realized there is still fire in the belly of Shawn Michaels.
    Throw in the three-fall stipulation (first match is a street fight, second is a cage match, third is a ladder match), and the third pass at Michaels vs. HHH in the last five months just got a WHOLE lot more interesting.  Nice work done, there.
    Elsewhere on RAW:  match of the night was definitely the intergender tables match with Trish and the Dudleys beating Victoria and Jericho/Christian.  Good action, and the way things wound up, they did nice teases of both the three-way women's match AND the four-way tag title match set for the PPV.  But along with the Michaels/HHH stuff, this was the only part of the show I really got into.
    Most every other match or storyline seemed tacked-on, half-assed, or pointless.  Nothing was really bad, but can someone tell me what the point of RVD hitting a highspot on 3MW is, unless it was to reinforce Kane and RVD as a tag team so that they can face Batista and Flair (which they aren't)?  Or why we need Steven Richards beating Jackie, when Jackie needs her heat going into a women's title match this Sunday?  Or why we should care when Goldust threatens, for the five thousandth time, to shape up and quit being such a goof?
    Just some thoughts...  but on Monday, I'd say the big picture is that the good stuff was really good.  And the rest was just... there.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.3, which is the same as the week before.  No upswing in momentum heading into the PPV...
  • Also: E-mail reports indicate that Victoria stayed down in the ring at the conclusion of Monday's RAW, even though the HBK/HHH thing that played on the TitanTron...  she didn't just take the match closing table bump, but also was dropped awkwardly on her head a minute or two earlier, which could have been the cause of the trouble.  Readers who mailed in said it looked like there was genuine concern on the faces of people in the ring before Victoria was finally able to make it to her feet and be helped back to the backstage area.
  • Following up on this little Bret Hart Conspiracy Theory thing that I've been mentioning for a few weeks... people are mailing in, asking if I REALLY think Bret Hart's doing any kind of business with WWE.
    Well, let me just say this:  he'd be foolish not to at least listen to offers.  
    The guy who originally contacted me with his info about Hart flying to Florida on WWE's dime also e-mailed me again yesterday to say that Hart was in Atlanta on Monday and Tuesday, before continuing on to Tampa today.  If all this is genuine, though, I am not suggesting that Bret Hart will make a surprise appearance at the PPV to screw Shawn Michaels (or start a new Hart Foundation with the now-Sharpshooting Lance Storm) or anything like that.
    More likely, if Hart just happens to be visiting near where WWE is congregating this week, it's probably something along the lines of a feeling out process to see if he might be willing to be a part of the 10th Anniversary RAW in January.  That makes a lot more sense to me.
    I mean, Hulk Hogan was also meeting with WWE folks (including Vince McMahon) in Atlanta yesterday, and even though he's actually under contract (unlike Bret), nobody's suggesting that his immediate return will come out of the talks.  So let's take this all with a grain of salt, first, and then, if we're gonna buy into it, let's be realistic about the possibilities.
    And JR, seriously, if you don't want our heads to explode, please, don't find any more flimsy excuses to mention Bret Hart...
  • Additional footage of Dawn Marie and Torrie Wilson was taped for last week's SmackDown!, but was supposedly cut from the show at UPN's insistence.  The footage was shown on Byte This, I guess, and will be recycled again on PPV this Sunday.
    Boy, I hate to be the cynic, but when an utterly pointless and superfluous storyline is suddenly worth mentioning just because it got censored, it kind of pisses me off.  Sends the wrong message to the WWE folks, who have already shown the tendency to want to shock their way to higher ratings, instead of just entertaining us with quality storylines...
  • Quickly, the NWA-TNA card tonight is headlined by Jeff Jarrett defending the NWA Title against Curt Hennig, while Jerry Lynn vs. Sonny Siaki (X Title) and AJ Styles vs. Amazing Red will be your Matches to Watch.  
    Also scheduled to appear:  Disciples of the New Church vs. the Harris Boyz (NWA Tag Titles), Hot Shots vs. Divine Storm, and Jorge Estrada vs. Kid Kash.
    A bit of administrivia:  Scotty is gonna be leaving TNA recapping duties after next week... if you're interested in picking up in the New Year, drop me a line.
  • See you all again on Friday with WWE Armageddon preview and whatever other tidbits of news we can rustle up.... 


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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