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RAW, Add Goldberg to the List,
And Lots More...
December 18, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


No shortage of things to discuss today... so let's dispense with the pleasantries and get on with it!
  • Monday's RAW was pretty good, I must say.
    As I said on Monday, Scott Steiner vs. Triple H is actually a rare feud where I say rushing full speed ahead is probably a good thing:  take advantage of Steiner's "Hey, I remember that guy from Nitro" pop NOW, while you still can.  Before his moonman language promos and diminished in-ring work leave him working in his more natural state, as a heel.
    The HHH/Steiner showdown to close the show was perhaps a BIT overdone:  Steiner maybe should have said less and let his general bad-assery do the talking (because he became rambling and unfocused at one or two points), but if the announcers hyperbolized a bit, that much is forgivable.  Steiner's new and unique enough that he's an unknown commodity; maybe this feud will be the greatest thing since sliced bread?  We just don't know... so we can't ride JR and Lawler for over-selling a known lemon.  Their job is to make stuff seem more important and appealing, and I think they did it.
    The show-long storyline of trying to squeeze both "HHH Appreciation Night" and Steiner's contract signing into the main event slot was a pretty cool gimmick, too.  Hey, I'd have to turn in my Smark Membership Badge if I didn't make some flippant remark about how I think the main event should be a Wrestling Match.  But every now and again, I can stomach something like this.  They set up the friction right from the top, establishing the reason and the motivation for putting something other than a match in the top spot.  They had a good story, and weren't ashamed to say "This is our top issue tonight."  
    And the other big development on the night:  the beginnings of a Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho feud.  I called for this one, what?, over a month ago?  I'm just about as interested in it now as I was then.  My one gripe:  if Michaels isn't even going to take a token break after his grueling three-matches-in-four-weeks schedule, I would definitely, 100%-for-sure have done Michaels vs. Jericho a month ago, while Michaels was still the champ.  I'd have held off HHH getting his big blow-off win over HBK until Rumble or later, giving Michaels reign a bit more depth, and granting Jericho a small rub from getting to feud with him while he still had the gold.  But a small complaint, because we're still getting two good workers and two good talkers going at each other here in the coming weeks.
    The Jericho/Michaels face-to-face promo was probably my favorite bit of the night.  Jericho remains a great over-the-top hammy heel, but he tinged this particular speech with bits of seriousness and honesty...  at first, I thought maybe he was coming off TOO honest, that a touch of insincerity would have helped keep fans clued in to what an asshole Jericho is.  But upon further review, he played it perfect:  the fact that Jericho honestly IS disappointed in Michaels for sticking around too long -- becoming the Has-Been Kid in the process -- takes this feud a notch higher than Jericho's fictional bluster usually allows for.  As funny as that stuff is, maybe the average fan at home doesn't want to laugh at the bad guy?  For once, Jericho's made some accusations that aren't really all that funny...
    OK, I'll join in and admit that even I'm wondering if D'Lo is bringing back the Nation of Domination after he accused a ref of racism on Monday; but I will go one step further than most who've made the same comment, and say that while -- yes -- the return of the Nation might give Mark Henry and/or Shelton Benjamin ways to make a big splash on RAW, and while you've got a built-in cool story where D'Lo tries to recruit Booker T, the REAL key to the whole operation of Nation 2K3 will be recruiting John Cena and B-2 from SD!.  "We are the Nation, live and in color / Don't dis the man, cuz we'll bum rush your mother / Listen what I'm sayin', it's for real not playin' / D'Lo's the man, so hit your knees and start prayin'."  Hell yeah!
    Or maybe not...  but if it involves D'Lo getting a shot at regaining his status as IC-champ type material, I'm gonna chill out and give this a chance.  Then again, I'm one of the few people on the internet who didn't completely gut nuts when the Fed did the original Nation five years ago, so what do I know?
    Raven's 2 second cameo didn't explain anything, but he's also in the category of "I just want to see him get substantial TV time, so I'll sit back and see what the story," like D'Lo.  He was scoping out Stacy and Test... but maybe he just wanted Test's Bod (tm, Consortium for the Popularization of Male Body Spray).  [By the way, somebody remind me to do my "Guys who wear body spray and the women to whom they actually think it appeals" rant at some point when I'm killing time here at the end of the year.  I mean, I LOVE making fun of filthy hippies and all, but there's something even even more satisfying about laughing at any dude under the age of 40 who regularly wears cologne or its hip new variation, the Male Body Spray.  I swear, get a bar of soap that agrees with your nose, shower every day, and you won't have to worry about girls being repulsed by your foul stench.  And, please, somebody tell me: just who in the hell are these body spray commercials -- with lots of dudes taking their shirts off in slow motion -- supposed to appeal to, anyway?]
    You know what?  Forget about reminding me to do my body spray rant; this was about 85% of it, anyway, and you're already bored.
    Back to RAW: Booker/Goldust vs Jericho/Christian was also set up nicely for next week, with the Goldy Claus skit providing the comic relief and Booker/Jericho providing the best in-ring match of the night...  I don't know if Kane/RVD is going to be a regular tag team or what, but I laughed at their skit, too (Kane freaking out, and RVD doing the laid-back "translation" of his ranting); I guess they've bungled Kane's character so bad, I actually see the upside of morphing him into a weed-smoking, zen-spouting DOOD like RVD...  why Flair and Batista abandoned 3MW was not well-explored, but I fear it leads nowhere cool...  
    But enough of my rambling...  if you want to know what happened and in what order, check out Lee Filas' RAW Recap.  And if you know what happened, but think there may have been cooler, funnier avenues left unexplored by the Fed, you can skip on to Matt Hocking's RAW Satire.
  • The rating for Monday's RAW was a 3.5, which is up two-tenths of a point from the week before.  The usual trend is to see a small bump up in the ratings on a night following a PPV, so time will tell if the Fed can hold on to that slight increase... or if the more likely scenario -- that the audience dwindles to its lowest point in years as we head into the holidays -- plays out.
  • OK, so Vince McMahon told a newspaper writer last week that both The Rock and Steve Austin will be back in 2003.  For better or for worse, both are huge stars, box office draws, and best of all, are under WWE contract already.  So Rock's Hollywood schedule and Austin's supposed abuses of political clout aside, their rumored returns probably fall more into the realm of the inevitable, rather than the really shocking.
    But if you want shocking, it could still be coming in the first part of 2003.  After Vince confirmed the Rock's return to the roster (expected in the next 6 weeks or so, in time for WrestleMania storylines to take hold), the Rock was quoted as saying that he'd like to see himself taking on Bill Goldberg at WM19 in Seattle.
    Goldberg, eh?
    Goldberg's currently working in Japan, but has a non-exclusive contract, which would allow him to work for WWE.  Already, the rumor mill has kicked up to full speed, suggesting that Goldberg would be amenable to a short-term WWE deal...  something lasting just a few months, or possibly longer in term, but requiring only a limited number of dates.
    A webchat yesterday with Goldberg saw the former WCW staple being quite sly about his precise standing with WWE.  He said all his options were open, and that for the most part, the ball is in WWE's court.  He did not admit to negotiations or talks with top WWE officials, but did suggest that the content of WWE shows (he specifically referenced the Katie Vick mess) was one thing that was a stumbling block.  A series of cryptic references seemed to suggest that Goldberg did, however, have his eye on a WM19 showdown with the Rock in Seattle.
    In the chat, a guy made the same observation as me: that Goldberg vs. Steve Austin seemed more like the idea one-time-only money match for Goldberg in WWE...  but although Goldberg put Austin on his shortlist (along with Angle and Lesnar), he did seem mostly focused on the idea of matching up with the Rock.  He also tried to play up the idea that if he ever got in the ring with Triple H, it'd turn into a shootfight (remember the encounter those two had at a toy show about 4 years ago?  Good, that's three of you!)...
    We'll have to see where this one goes...  
  • Kurt Angle, who unexpectedly won the WWE Title on Sunday's Armageddon PPV, will still undergo minor knee surgery this week, as scheduled.
    The current plan is for Angle to completely miss SD! tapings this weekend, but have him back in a non-wrestling role the following week.  His first match back from the surgery would probably come at the Royal Rumble or in the week leading up to it, and his knee will be back to 100% around the time of WrestleMania.
    Angle, who has dealt with the knee condition for about a year now, was considering putting off the surgery as long as possible (another year, perhaps), but decided to pull the trigger now, in the name of making sure he's 100% for his big feud with Brock Lesnar.
    I know it's an unconventional move to move the title onto a guy who's about to take 4 weeks off from in-ring action, but in the case of Kurt Angle, the upside of the storylines (not to mention the simple fact that when he does return, you are guaranteed top-shelf main event matches) is sufficient to justify the decision.  But then again, you knew that if you read my spiel last Friday...
  • Unknowingly, the Fed actually moved BOTH their top titles onto guys who will be needing a few weeks off from in-ring duties...  Triple H, bothered by a sore right quad (NOT his surgically repaired one), took the World Title on Sunday's PPV despite not having a diagnosis on his condition.
    But the news is basically good:  a deep thigh bruise has left HHH very sore and unable to perform at 100% right now.  But with rest, he should be fine in 2-3 weeks.  WWE.com is also now reporting that a slight quad tear (not needing surgery) was also found in addition to the bruising.
    Jeez... HHH better watch it, or he'll turn into the Ken Griffey Jr. of pro wrestling.  But guess what?  I want to punch all of the boneheads who thinking trading Griffey out of Cinci is a good idea right in their stupid faces...  which probably meshes in nicely with my general opinion about HHH and his rep as an over-rated under-performer here on the 'net, if you catch my drift.
  • A good portion of the RAW brand got really sick during last months tour of India...  but that's probably just par for the course when you're traveling like that.
    A bunch of guys on the SD! roster, however, were hit hard by food poisoning simply making the trek from Ft. Lauderdale to Sarasota.  Several were still sick at last night's SD! tapings, but the worst came the day before, when both Eddie and Chavo Guerrero were unable to compete on the Sarasota house show.  The culprit is thought to be sandwiches served on a charter flight.
  • By the way, WWE's taping/touring schedule should be giving everybody plenty of time to recover.  This weekend, the entire RAW brand assembles for one last show on Saturday night in Oklahoma City, which will be taped for broadcast on 12/23's RAW.  The SD! crew, likewise, only has one last show before the holidays, a SD! taping on Sunday night in Tulsa, OK.
    There are no shows scheduled for 11 days, as the Fed next returns to action with a live SmackDown! on Jan. 2.  Note that there is no additional RAW tapings scheduled, but that all current programming grids do indicate RAW will air as usual on December 30 on TNN.  Perhaps they are planning a clip show ("Best of" type of deal)...  or maybe they'll just tape four hours worth of stuff in Oklahoma City?
    Either way, we'll definitely get all the spoilers out there before OO's last pre-holiday update on 12/23...
  • Speaking of holiday hiatuses:  NWA-TNA will be off the air for two weeks following tonight's show.  They will resume live broadcasts on Wednesday, Jan. 8.
    Tonight's show doesn't have much of a finalized card, but we do know it'll feature Ron Killings taking on BG James and Sonny Siaki defending his new X Title against EZ Money in the top two matches.  Also:  an as-yet-unrevealed line-up of X Division stars will compete in a gauntlet style match to determine a #1 contender, and the Disciples of the New Church v. the Harris Boyz vs. America's Most Wanted will be the night's tag title match.  
    Jeff Jarrett and Vince Russo don't have anything specified on their dance cards, but they continue to be central to one of TNA's key storylines, so they'll figure into tonight's show, too.
    In addition to being the last TNA show before the holidays, tonight will also be Scotty Szanto-Nicodemus' last recap of TNA, so come on back for that!

  • Last for today, just to get you used to non-wrestling tangentializing that will be necessary to keep the column rolling through the next few weeks: 
    The new Star Trek movie actually wasn't bad.  I'd read this annotated script thingie (hilarious, but for the wrong reasons!) several months ago, and it blew chunks, leaving me fearing that the Blessing of the Even Numbered Trek Films would be ruined.  And yes, there were some mis-steps taken in terms of characterization, but for the most part, it was action-packed and fun, and if that's the last one, I'm happy.  They cut out a lot of crap.
    And coming from a guy who has had very little good to say about the Star Trek franchise since "First Contact" was kicking ass and DS:9 was still on the air, that's saying something.
    Next: I further reveal myself as a giant, festering ball of dork when I announce that I cannot wait to see "The Two Towers" and soon.  Maybe early tomorrow afternoon would be a good time to avoid the even bigger geeks in their robes and battle armor?
    See you again 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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