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Deconstructing Armageddon,
RAW, Hogan, and More...
December 16, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


The last PPV of the year is over...  basically, we've got two weeks or so of no real news, sporadic updates in between holiday benders, and lot of "Best of 2002" editorializing.  But then, once we turn the corner in to January, it'll be all good:  everybody loves the Royal Rumble!
  • I haven't got a whole lot to add in terms of my thoughts on last night's Armageddon PPV, other than what I put in my immediate post-show report...
    There was some good stuff -- match of the night was really a toss-up between the crisp-but-under-appreciated Benoit/Eddie match and the slow-starting-but-Holy-Shit-laden HHH/HBK main event, and I cannot tell you how stoked I am over the possibilities now that Kurt Angle got the surprise WWE Title win over Big Show -- but there were also some frustratingly poor decisions made that resulted in the night's slower spots.
    The Dawn Marie/Al Wilson thing was just a protracted excuse to run footage that was deemed inappropriate for prime time on a Thursday night.  Rather than just let it rest, the Fed had to go and get all "Well, if THAT's how you're gonna be, then watch us turn around and make MONEY off the footage on PPV!"...  failing to realize that anyone desperate enough to buy the PPV based on the possibility of Dawn and Torrie gettin' it on would be disappointed in the pay-off, and would probably be off the WWE product for some time to come.  The whole thing was just way too long and way too pointless to be any fun at all.  [OO Reader Cory Harris mailed in with an idea:  they could have kept the interminable build-up, but just before they FINALLY got to the good stuff, cut to an RNN news update!  Ha!  Having Randy Orton mega-over as a heel is about a billion times more useful than having Al Wilson generating an "asshole" chant, don't you think?]
    And while I'm thinking that people are getting a bit carried away with criticisms of Kane/Batista (minus five stars?  worst match of the year?), it was another black hole.  No doubt about it.  In addition to the fact that the match was just awkward and weak, this is also -- quite unintentionally, I'm sure -- the successful completion of Phase Three of the Let's Completely Destroy Five Years of Work Campaign to Eliminate Kane.  I'm not saying Kane's not allowed to drop matches... but I am saying that he's been completely mis-handled since the Katie Vick nonsense of a few months ago, and that maybe he needs some character rehabilitation before heading into a feud designed primarily to help another guy get over.
    And seriously, how much would a Matt Hardy vs. Edge match have helped things out on this show... instead of A-Train vs. Edge?  Crowd would have been more into it, I dare say it would have been faster paced and more action-filled, too.  It would have been Matt Hardy interfering in the Angle/Show match, too... which would have apparently made too much sense (Matt's only been in Heyman's pocket for the past three months, and has actually had run-ins with Lesnar, too).  Just keep that in mind over the next month or two:  everything Albert does, imagine that it's Matt Hardy doing it instead, and wonder just exactly what it was that the creative team was smoking when they decided to make the change.  Matt Hardy's spent months effectively building up a new heel persona?  He's a top shelf in-ring worker?  AND he's got storyline ties to Heyman, Show, Lesnar, Edge, and Undertaker?  OK, let's put him on the sidelines and use Albert...  
    On the good side, I think I am honestly most pleased with the possible direction of the top of the card on SmackDown!... Kurt Angle as the WWE Champ opens up so many doors.  The most obvious one is a feud with Brock Lesnar.  The way I outlined my thoughts on Friday, I think it should be a slow building one, with Angle returning to a heel role by cowardly dodging Brock as long as he can.  Then you can build up to their first-ever show-down at WrestleMania.  And in the meantime?  Well, Brock can spend a PPV getting more revenge on Show and Heyman, while Angle can make his first defense(s) against Chris Benoit (who was hyped as a #1 Contender following his win over Eddie Guerrero last night).  Talk about a sweet deal!  
    And to think of all the e-mails I fielded from people saying, "You idiot!  Angle's taking a month off after Armageddon for knee surgery, so he can't win!"...  well, I admit it went against conventional wisdom, but I'm looking good today.  Then again, I had to pull off some prognosticatory magic to close out the year... I couldn't have my pitiful Survivor Series predictions (one correct call out of eight) be my swan song for 2002!
    Like I said, both the Benoit/Eddie and HHH/HBK matches were good, but neither quite made the leap to great/classic status.  I'm generally of the mind that it's unfair to go into a match expecting a ***** classic, but I'm also sure that that won't stop some fans from feeling both matches were disappointments that fell short of the top notch quality that we, as fans sitting on our asses, deserve.  Or maybe they just possess an irrational hatred of Triple H.
    By now, you know my drill: as long as there's enough good to mask the deficiencies of a show, I'm not gonna rant too strongly.  I'll leave that to Scott.  Still, all in all, I get the impression that this'll go down with King of the Ring as one of the less memorable shows of 2002...
  • There is still no definitive word on the nature or severity of the thigh injury that Triple H seemed to be suffering from last night.  Though he was limping without provocation early on, he did seem to be OK once he got loosened up.  And plus, from a purely pragmatic point of view, there's no way that they would have put the title on him if he was likely to be needing another couple months injury time, if you catch my drift...
  • Which brings us to tonight's RAW, which should give us an idea of where things will be headed in the new year.  With Triple H finally getting his decisive win over Shawn Michaels, I doubt that they will recycle that feud again.  Instead, I'd wager heavily that HHH's next challenge will come from Scott Steiner.
    Steiner spurned Stephanie McMahon's contract offer (and wasn't too confident he'd ever see his -- ahem -- "signing bonus") on Thursday, leaving him to go back to work for his old boss, Eric Bischoff.  And what Bischoff lacks in terms of a brain-freeze-inducing rack, he can probably make up for by greasing the wheels for Steiner's pursuit of the World Title.
    It's too early to tell, but they may even want to drag Steiner/HHH out so that it doesn't take place till WrestleMania.  If that's the case, I think they're probably making a mistake... the Steiner/HHH pairing just doesn't have any apparent sizzle: HHH is too entrenched to be a strong heel against a middlin' babyface, and I have a feeling that's what Steiner (whose natural strengths and gibberish promos work best for a heel) will become once the novelty of his debut and his physique wear out.  Better to shoot the wad on Steiner/HHH while Steiner's hot, then get him over to the heel side in time for a WM feud with Booker T, that's what I say....
    But we're here to talk about what to look for tonight on RAW, not to do elaborate Fantasy Booking...
    If it's not HHH/Steiner starting tonight, then I'd guess you've got room to go with HHH/RVD and Steiner/Jericho feuds.  Rob Van Dam was the odd man out when HHH earned the title shot at Shawn Michaels, and so he's the most logical contender.  Meantime, Jericho is now free to pursue a singles agenda now that he's lost the tag titles, which could mean a resumption of the rivalry he started with Steiner four weeks ago tonight.
    Michaels, for his part, is probably due for a rest.  Though it would not surprise me if he found some excuse to come back again for a match or two around the time of WrestleMania... this was just too inconspicuous a time to lose a match and re-retire, as I think everyone would agree.  He may never be a true full-time performer again, but I don't think we've seen the last of him, either.
    On the tag side, the new champs are Booker T and Goldust, and their first challenges will likely come from the undefeated-until-last-night duo of Lance Storm and William Regal.  It was Booker and Goldy who eliminated them from the four-way match, ending a seven match winning streak, so you can just connect the dots, there.
    Victoria and Trish don't seem to be any closer to resolving their issue, either, after last night's PPV.  As I've been harping on for about 2 months, Jazz is also set to return, and while the most obvious place for her to a resumption of her feud with Trish (which was in place prior to Jazz's knee injury), there's also something else many readers have pointed out:  when last we saw her, Jazz was hanging out with Steven Richards.  And he is now with Victoria.  They could just as easily become rivals as they could partners...
    And this is also the one time of year when one-on-one feuds are not necessarily the most vital part of storytelling... because January's Royal Rumble features a 30-man free-for-all that basically sells itself.  This year, however, there is concern that things'll be radically different.  There's even talk that the Rumble match will either be drastically overhauled or eliminated, due to concerns that the Brand Extension is not conducive to holding a single 30-man match with a shot at the WWE Title (or the World Title, depending)... at the very least, the traditional prize of a WrestleMania title shot seems in jeopardy.
    While everybody's treating this like it's some kind of triple regression, multi-variable calculus problem, the solution is simple:  instead of taking AWAY from the Rumble match, you add to its prestige.  The 30 man Rumble happens just the same as it always had (complete with 90- or 120-second intervals), with 15 men from each of the two brands.  The prize:  not just a WrestleMania Title Shot, but also Unrestricted Free Agency, so that you can CHOOSE which title you want to go for (and by virtue of that, which show you will be a part of).  I think that could be really sweet, as you could build the drama over a couple of weeks once the Rumble was already done...  but what was that I said about not doing Fantasy Booking?
    OK, so suffice to say that even if the Fed holds back a little over the remainder of the year (things'll kick back into high gear once we get past the holidays), there will still be plenty of indicators as to where we're going in terms of the Rumble PPV and beyond, starting tonight on RAW.
    Check it out, or come on back to OO for full coverage and analysis...
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! was a 3.2.  That's down two-tenths of a point from the week before.
  • Jim Ross' weekend WWE.com column included a bit of amplification of Hulk Hogan's status:  where as I'd been saying Hogan met with Fed officials at SmackDown! tapings in Atlanta, JR says Hogan was only there to hang out with friends and some of the boys, and that no substantive conversations were had between Hogan and any of the WWE brass.
    Other notable items from the Ross Report:  recent rumored cuts (I'm assuming he means the ones like Raven and Justin Credible) are just that, RUMORS...  Regal/Storm are due for additional mic time as part of a renewed push...  Victoria was OK after RAW on Monday; just had her bell rung....  Edge will only work TV matches for a couple of weeks, to allow his knee to get back to 100%...  
    And not one mention of Bret Hart.  Hmmm...
  • Something I forgot to mention on Friday: watching SmackDown!, I was taken aback when B2 ("bee-squared") was suddenly re-dubbed B-2 ("bee-too").  At the time, I joked to a friend that somebody on the dot-com or magazine staff must have complained about what a pain in the ass it is to make the superscript 2, thus the name change.
    The Cubs Fan supports the same theory...
    Not that it matters much anymore: on the PPV last night, he was "Bling Bling" Buchanan... which could make him B-3, or B-2-B, any number of other lame variations!
  • I'm outta here... as always, I appreciate getting reports from fans who attend TV tapings.  Makes the job of compiling complete and accurate Spoilers a bit easier on Wednesdays, anyway.
    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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