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Austin, Hogan Both Speak! And a Slew
of Holiday NewsBites...
December 27, 2002

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


I hope everybody's Christmases went tremendously.  Whether you're into the Sanctity of the Holiday Season, or just into the various social functions and pumping money into our market-based economy in the hopes that your friends and family will be as generous in return, my primary wish is that each of you enjoyed the past few days as much as I did.  On whatever level it is that you choose to do so.

And sorry to all you non-Christians for the crap we put on TV on Christmas... I mean, 24 straight hours of "A Christmas Story"?  That's just cruel.

Here are some quick newsbites to help tide you over during this long stretch of holiday-caused hiatuses and slow-news-day-caused opinion columns:

  • Hulk Hogan appeared on back-to-back episodes of "Off the Record" on TSN, earlier this week.  The two half-hour interviews covered a lot of ground, giving Hogan chances to qualify 20 year old stories by saying "And there's more about that in my new book," but also granting fans insights into exactly where Hulk Hogan and WWE stand today.
    Part one of the interview covered more contemporary issues, and right off the bat, Hogan addressed his situation in so far as it relates to WWE and his feelings about being "written out" as a result of a beating at the hands of Brock Lesnar.  Hogan basically admitted that he needed time off to let his body heal up, and agreed to the Lesnar thing as a way to get himself off TV for a month or two.  He also acknowledged that that plan was -- upon his return -- that he'd get a rematch against Lesnar (who by then would be the champ), and that he'd lose again.  
    Hogan gave no clear reason why, but he said that after initially being OK with that plan, he decided to decline the chance to come back and lose to Lesnar.  He kind of went off on tangents about how he was upset with the rest of the shock-TV content of the shows, and how he had no problem losing to Lesnar but that it should have been done differently (with Hogan having a big winning streak before losing to Lesnar, to make Lesnar's win seem more important)...  but there was no single compelling reason for Hogan's decision to ax the original plan.  Hogan also said that Vince McMahon came back at him with a couple other modifications of the plan, but that Hogan wasn't interested and said he would be sitting out the rest of the year.  He then left the door open for anything to happen in 2003.
    On the topics of two of the Fed's other sidelined-mega-stars:  Hogan talked about Austin, and said that if he was burnt out and needed to get his head on straight because of the tensions related to traveling with his wife, then maybe he understood where Austin's walk-out came from;  but otherwise, Hogan said Austin needed to settle down and realize that he owes it to the rest of the guys in the locker room to show up to work and do his job....  and about the Rock, Hogan basically had nothing but good things to say, noting that he was incredibly talented and that backstage he didn't let something like the crowd turning on him at WM18 affect him, personally; Hogan did, however, add in an odd tag, saying that Rock is "walking through doors that [Hogan] kicked in," and that he's got it easy because all the action stars Hogan had to compete with in the 80s are now over the hill.
    Day Two on the interview revolved more around historical issues, starting with a big discussion of Hogan's days in WCW.  Hogan made it clear from the start that he thought what WCW did was great, and that they should get more credit than just "buying WWF's stars and putting them on TV."  He said it was important to have more than one game in town, and that any company that helped him make as much money as he did while working there wasn't all bad.
    But he also said he saw the shortcomings of WCW, and understands why they lost their ratings lead:  in the (then) WWF, the McMahons lived and breathed wrestling 24/7, where as WCW shut up business at 5pm every day. 
    About the nWo, Hogan said that after he saw what Hall and Nash were doing, he instantly wanted to be the third man, since nobody had ever seen Hogan as a heel.  [This contrasts with another side of the story that had Eric Bischoff having to really sell Hogan on the idea of turning.]  And on the topic of the nWo's 2002 return, Hogan said the big problem was that fans wanted to cheer them, no matter what they did, which isn't what Vince wanted.  Also, Scott Hall's quickly-glossed-over "problems" contributed to nWo 2002 not working out.
    Hogan talked about some other associates from his past, starting with Goldberg...  Hogan basically said that Goldberg was a guy who maybe didn't pay his dues the same way as others, but proved himself as a big time draw.  Hogan noted that Goldberg's making a lot of money in Japan right now, and when asked, said that he thinks WWE should bring Goldberg in.
    About Ultimate Warrior:  Hogan put Warrior over, even though he didn't think Warrior was ready for the top spot.  Hogan said Warrior wasn't that great a performer, but that he was even worse at managing politics backstage, which is why he never lasted that long.  About Randy Savage:  Hogan basically did a Cliff's Notes version of the animosity Savage has towards him for supposedly ruining his relationship with Elizabeth (and apparently, something to do with Gorgeous George, too).  
    Other quick highlights from the show:  Hogan feels Mick Foley "prostituted" his body by not training properly and then taking unreal bumps, and somehow segued into a quick comment about Trish Stratus taking unnecessary bumps when she could easily be getting by just being a valet and selling "Diva" magazines...  has no ill will towards Bret Hart, and never did, suggesting that the story Bret was told about Hogan wanting to job the title to Yokozuna in 1993, instead of to Bret, was not true (but saying the full story was in his book)...  says that Jimmy Hart, Ed "Brutus Beefcake" Leslie, and Vince McMahon are really his only friends in the business...  names Kurt Angle as the best current example of a great wrestler who is actually also a great entertainer...  
    Thanks to the handful of Canadian OO Readers who passed along their thoughts and recaps of Hogan's appearances on the show.
  • While Hogan was making a TV appearance, Steve Austin made his first real media appearance in over six months on an NYC radio show, yesterday.
    While mostly fluffery, in part due to the seemingly low wrestling-IQ of the host (who was apparently a boxing guy, and only talking to Austin because he was promoting an upcoming autograph signing set up by a local boxing promoter), Austin did try to sneak in a few things of interest to wrestling fans.
    First and foremost, Austin made a big deal about the diet and training regimen he's been sticking to: low fat, less beer, and both a lot of weight training with a ton of cardio work every day.  Austin said he's at about 260 lbs. right now, and is looking a lot better than he has in a long time.
    Though the host never directly questioned Austin about his lay-off from WWE or his chances of returning soon, Austin made a comment about there being a lot of possibilities open to him in 2003, although he couldn't really say which ones would come to pass.  Still, after admitting to training like a madman, you have to think the possibility that he's banking on is a return to the wrestling ring...
    Austin also got stuck talking a lot about Mike Tyson, who he put over as a huge wrestling fan, a big help to launching his (Austin's) career, and simply a "money" performer.
    Like Hogan's interview, nothing specific came up about Austin's future in this...  but unlike Hogan, Austin did seem to be dropping hints that he was more likely to return soon.
  • Also on Austin: two additional personal appearances he's got scheduled in January are being promoted as appearances by "WWE Superstar Stone Cold Steve Austin."  I don't want to jump the gun or anything, but I'm thinking that independently booked appearances while a talent is on hiatus would not include the "WWE Superstar" tag...  which of course led readers who saw the ads to write in, anxiously thinking that Austin's appearances had once again been booked by WWE, foreshadowing a return.
    Like I said, I'm not gonna jump the gun, but what the hell?  I can at least pass along the information, right?  Do with it what you will...
  • Speaking of just passing along information and letting you fill in the blanks...
    So by now, you all know the tale of Bret Hart "shadowing" WWE travel plans for a week or so earlier this month...  whatever really was or was not going on, we did get stone cold confirmation that Hart was in Florida the week of the Armageddon PPV, when Hart dropped by the puck at a Florida Panthers NHL game.
    Well, Hart has addressed the issue, and sort of touched on the speculated implications, in a recent fan club update...  he says that he has in Florida on business, and that the invitation to the Panthers games was a last second thing.  After initially declining (because he doesn't want to make public appearances at less than 100%), he went ahead and did it and was warmly received by fans and players alike.
    Then, in a tag to the latest update, Hart says he has not been contacted by WWE recently, and has no interest at all in ever working with them again, not even for a special appearance on the RAW 10th Anniversary special.
    So there you have it, straight (well, technically third-hand, after I get done telling you what Bret told his fan club) from the horse's mouth.  Bret says he's not even had talks with WWE, no matter what his early December travel plans might have suggested.
  • Jerry Lawler's new book makes the "revelation" that his feud with Andy Kaufman was a hoax... and the entertainment wire has somehow picked this up as a major story.  You can do a quick search on Yahoo!'s news, and you should get a version or two of the story...
    What's baffling is that the "hoax" was long-suspected, and was actually a key story element in the Kaufman bio-movie that came out a few years ago.  I think WOW Magazine even had Bill Apter do a big write-up acknowledging his role in the set-up of the angle.  This should not even be a story in 2002.  But it is.
  • With WWE ratings and ticket sales in a slide, they've already gotten a huge morale boost for the first PPV on 2003.  Royal Rumble tickets for Boston are sold out after the first week of sales.
    Boston, of course, is up there with NYC as a true WWE stronghold, where fans can be counted on to show up, en masse, especially for a PPV even like the Rumble.
  • The Fed has announced its plans for the Tuesday, January 14, RAW Tenth Anniversary Special.  The entire event will be held at The World in Times Square, with a guarantee of "over 50 WWE superstars, past and present" in attendance.
    A limited number of tickets will be made available to fans, with admission costing $15, and meal options costing a bit more.  You can buy tickets starting Thursday, Jan. 2, either directly from the World box office or from Ticketmaster.
    The venue suggests that there will obviously be just clips/highlights, and maybe a few interviews/addresses.  The World won't support any live matches, though there have been some angles done there, especially when the place housed Sunday Night Heat.
    If nothing else, the smaller, more intimate setting will mimic the atmosphere of the original RAW venue, the Manhattan Centre.  Except, of course, that doing it at The World means the Fed doesn't have to rent a building and can keep all the food and drink revenues for itself.  Crafty bastards!
  • The overnight rating for last night's SmackDown! was a 3.9, which is down from the previous week's 4.2.  Of course, there's bound to still be some holiday-related deflation involved the day after Christmas, so I guess that's to be expected.  A final number will be available soon enough.
    An aside: this was a SD! that was better from a storytelling perspective than it was in the ring.  The tag match was good, but not really special... on the other hand, some of the stuff they did (especially with Heyman intro'ing Team Angle, Benoit "downsizing" Big Show, and Matt Hardy's soliloquy) in terms of talking was really outstanding.
  • Monday's RAW did a 3.3 final cable rating, which is down two-tenths from the week before, and identical to what the show did two weeks ago.  So basically, they did not hold on to the extra 0.2 they got from the post-PPV bump... but even with the Christmas holiday looming, they didn't drop below the pre-PPV plateau.  Not bad, I guess...
    I thought RAW actually had the Match of the Week, this week.  Goldust/Booker vs. Christian/Jericho was worked well, and unlike the SD! tag title match, it featured a well-built story between two full-time teams, which puts it over the edge.  I think the whole thing with JR/Lawler having to wrestle in the main event came off OK, too; at times, it meant Ross had to harp annoyingly on the main event for an hour leading up to it, but once it was in the ring, it did its job.  Dudleys vs. Storm/Regal is now looking like a strong feud.
  • And since my Monday column will be the Year-End OO Best of 2002 Special Edition, I might as well get a quick preview of Monday's RAW out of the way now...
    That show will also be a Best of 2002 Special Edition, and WWE has announced that (highlights of) these matches will be shown:  The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan (WM18), The Rock vs. Brock Lesnar (SummerSlam), Shawn Michaels vs. HHH (SummerSlam), Kurt Angle vs. Edge (Hair Match, Backlash), Bubba/Spike vs. RVD/Hardy vs. Jericho/Christian vs. Kane (TLC, RAW), Edge vs. Eddie Guerrero (Ladder, SD!), Taker vs. Hardy (Ladder, RAW), and Rey Mysterio vs. Angle (SummerSlam).
    Hey!  Two of my three choices for Match of the Year made the list, so that ain't too bad.  I'll have a tape running, I think.
    And if you want to know what my to Matches of the Year were, well then, you're one nosey son of a gun, aren't you?  Ah, just kidding.  I'll have my full best (and worst) of voting, plus the requisite thoughts on some non-wrestling categories, on Monday...
  • One last thing before I leave you...  my beloved Dayton Flyers are heading down to Cameron Indoor on Sunday night, for a nationally televised (on Fox SportsNet) date with the #1 Ranked (ESPN Coaches' Poll) Duke Blue Devils.
    I just want to say:  you're lucky, Duke.  Our center, the formidable shot-blocking and scoring machine known as Sean "the Shark" Finn, broke his hand last Sunday, and will not be at full force (if he plays at all) this Sunday.  You may now be in a position to eek out a narrow victory, Duke, but know that you did it against a decimated Flyer squad, stripped of one of its dangerous weapons!
    Enjoy your tainted victory, you Devils...  for you will not be able to claim a win over a fully-armed Dayton Flyers team this season.  That is an honor reserved for such true basketball powerhouses as St. Louis.  And Miami (OH).
    Ah, shit, we're gonna get our asses kicked, aren't we?



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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