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RAW Fall-out, More on Bret, TNA
Begins Anew, and Other News...
January 8, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Hope you're all enjoying the on-going 2002 Year in Review, so far...  Plus, I hope you're enjoying that I'm about a month ahead of last year's pace, so 2003 won't be one-quarter gone by the time I finish reviewing 2002!  Actually, if the YiR isn't complete by the Rumble at the latest, I'll... well, I'll do something extremely bad to myself.

With that said, let's just get to today's fresh news and opinion:

  • Monday's RAW was one of those that's gotta get the label of "effective" even if there were a few things I could specifically point to as being annoying to me, personally...  it was one of those nights when I listen to the crowd reaction live, weigh it against my own thoughts, and realize, "OK, so that went about 15 minutes longer than I wanted, but the people who paid $25 for tickets seemed to like it fine."
    And when that happens, well, I know it's not one of the weeks when I can do one of my trademark 50KB diatribes about the ills of Sports Entertainment.
    So yeah, I thought the Triple H/Scott Steiner Posedown lasted too long for such an obvious "pay off."  Or I could point out that they're going full speed ahead with a feud that I believe will yield a subpar in-ring wrestling match.  I could question the purpose of drawing more attention than necessary to outlandish physiques that will only cause gross feelings of inadequacy among the male viewers, while not necessarily arousing the female ones (I mean, would a Nicole Bass vs.... umm, Nicole Bass posedown be expected to titillate a male audience?)  Yes, I might even jest that Steiner has to be mentally retarded to have even stepped into the ring thinking everything was on the level after six big-looking dudes were all selected by HHH to be in the ring, too, as "judges."  I could even duplicate Lee or Matt's jokes from yesterday about the homo-erotic overtones or the devolution of this feud into every kind of contest BUT for pro wrestling.  Hey, somebody just make sure Steiner and HHH aren't booked together on the next Celebrity Weakest Link.  Provided that show is even still on the air...
    But if I did those things, I'd be ignoring the simple fact that lots of people liked it. So I'll shut up about it. 
    On to the stuff that I did like, which was actually almost everything else...  the mid show tag title change was a good wrestling match, and was accompanied by a very effectively told story.  Even without extra hijinx, Booker as a top babyface, is a big player in any match, and the other three guys are more than just decent supporting players.  Tossing in the Bischoff/Morley Factor, though, and you ended up with a hot crowd, one that seemed genuinely pissed when Storm and Regal won the straps.  I liked that stuff.
    While Booker/Goldust seemed like a make-shift team a few months ago, they are now a quasi-established squad on a show that seems to be seriously developing a tag division... finally.  Following the SD! Formula, they seem to be pairing singles wrestlers together into teams that are effective, without completely neglecting the singles agendas.  Booker/Goldust was the first, but now you've got Jericho teaming with Christian and RVD/Kane.  Throw in the Dudleys, 3MW, and Storm/Regal, and that's six good teams split evenly between face and heel.  I'll take it.
    The Dudleys beat down to open the show played into the general build up of the tag division and of the Bischoff/Morley hijinx, too.  It wasn't as enthralling as the tag title change, but it was handled well enough, as in introduction to Bischoff's desire to make this "his year" and as a way to put as many tag teams as possible into marketable positions.  Now, the Dudleys/3MW feud as as viable as its ever been, and Dudleys vs. Storm/Regal is just a heartbeat away as the obvious next step.
    Michaels and Jericho's in-ring confrontation was a good bit, too.  The logic would make more sense if HBK had been obviously trying to goad Jericho into asking for #1 in the Rumble to simply limit his chances of winning... but when Michaels said, ernestly, that he'd ask for #1 if Jericho didn't, well, that set up another possibility that I like.  Look for both Michaels and Jericho to campaign for the #1 spot, and they'll end up starting the Rumble match together.  And then, through hell or high water, they'll still be there at the end of the match.  They'll make it through to the final four.  Of course, at that point, both must be eliminated so that Brock Lesnar can win, but... well, you get the point.  And then, it can be on to a big one-on-one match at WrestleMania...  which itself becomes a storyline into which I might insert one Kevin Nash.  [Readers of the YiR will note a certain Fantasy Booking scenario reprised from last January that might be recyclable into this situation in 2003, too...]
    But I'm digressing, now.  Suffice to say that the Jericho/Michaels thing has tons of potential, that I'm fired up for it, and that I even liked having Randy Orton interrupt the bit to try to get himself over.  Hey, the RNN stuff has already worked at the lower level... it's been built up and proven over the past two months.  So give the guy a week or two to play with the big boys and see if it'll fly.  If not, bust him back down to Heat and try again.  Funny that Orton, 100% healthy upon his 2002 debut, never even sniffed a main event... and that after a months-long injury lay-off, he comes back, and is an integral part of the main event on his first night.
    Lastly, the revelation that "Vince McMahon is coming to RAW next week" to close the show may have played better as a pre-main event skit, rather than one of those annoying "tags" that have no business superceding an actual wrestling match... but that said, it'll end up being a centerpiece to everybody's speculation as RAW heads into its sure-to-be-big 10th Anniversary Week next week.  Interesting...
  • RAW received a 3.6 cable rating on Monday night...  I completely lost track of the ratings over the holidays, and I don't even know if I bothered to check for a rating for last week's "Best of 2002" episode.  So I don't know if that's down or up or what.
    Actually, I have to assume it's up from what RAW did over the past two weeks... and I do know that it's just about on par with where the Fed was for their last live show back on 12/16.
  • If you've somehow missed them -- and simply must have them -- the spoilers for SmackDown!, Heat, and Velocity are right here.
  • The Bret Hart saga grows stranger...  word has gotten out on just about every wrestling site by now, as Hitman fans have spread the word that recent updates to Bret's official website, www.BretHart.com, include a poll (currently, 57% of Bret's fans say he should return to WWE) and pictures that are WWE-themed.
    I don't know if maybe Bret had previously gotten rights to some of those old pictures of him with then-WWF Title belts before or not (I vaguely remember those being there long ago, though), but I know the poll is new for certain.
    This definitely adds fuel to the fire as it regards a possible Bret/WWE reconciliation... already, the Bret/WWE meetings in Florida back in December (rumored here on OO before they even took place) are now being accepted as a straight-up fact by most pundits, despite being outright denied by Bret himself.  And that, of course, leads to rampant speculation about Bret making a special appearance on WWE TV (everybody suspects the RAW X Special, but WM19 would be a viable option, as well).
    I respect the idea that keeping the truth about the Hart/WWE relationship under wraps would be the best way to spring a surprise on fans... but remember, there was nothing secret about their relationship back in November '97 in Montreal, and THAT still managed to be one of the most shocking and memorable nights in wrestling history. 
    Hart will appear on the Wrestling Observer Live radio show this Sunday night (10pm-midnight, eastern). You can access the show by using the "Wrestling Observer Live" link at the top of the page at www.wrestlingobserver.com.  Along with hitting him up with questions about WWE, he might also be asked about his rumored role in the February WWA tour of Europe...
    Mostly, regardless of how this all ends up, it's just good to see Bret -- wasted by a clueless WCW, and then hit by a stroke last summer while seemingly enjoying his post-wrestling life -- is back in a position to get the wrestling send-off that he deserves.  
  • OO Reader "mistabinks" was at last night's RAW brand house show in El Paso, TX, and witnessed what is believed to be the first singles match between HHH and Scott Steiner.  "Mistabinks" was not impressed.
    The two traded a lot of restholds, and a number of fans actually decided to leave in the middle of the match... which eventually went to DQ finish when Ric Flair and Batista interfered (with RVD then making the save).
    Highlight of the match:  Steiner got on the mic to taunt HHH and get some "hometown" heat early on, but he fumbled his line.  He said, "HHH get yer ass back in here... before somebody from... umm.... uhhh... THIS COMMUNITY kicks your ass."  El Paso has never been so proud!  
  • A few readers from Minnesota wrote in about a recent blurb regarding their deposed ex-governor, Jesse Ventura... in talking about a conditioning program he's working to get back in shape after being busy with gubernatorial duties for the last four years, Jesse apparently also quipped to a newspaper reporter that he'd go back to the WWE, "If Vince put the decimal point in the right place."
  • From the sounds of things, more than a few OO Readers got prime seats on the floor for WrestleMania 19 using the pre-sale link and password I passed along on Monday.  Again, you want to go to www.ticketmaster.com/promo/1913/ and use password "wmania" when searching for tix.
    Monday, when I checked the link, I would still have been able to get sixth row ringside... today, I checked again, and the best available is in the 100 level up off the floor ($60 a pop, the fourth price level).  So tickets are moving fast, even for a supposedly "limited" pre-sale.
    Note: the pre-sale ends on Friday evening, and ticket sales resume Saturday morning when the event opens up to the general public. 
  • In addition to Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Batista, Christian, and the winner of Big Show/Brock Lesnar, several readers have written in to remind me that OVW's "Damaja" is also a lock for the Rumble match after winning a spot in the 2003 Royal Rumble back several months ago.
    Now, that's the sort of thing that could be easily ignored if  WWE chooses, but it's also something to keep in mind... with the Rumble slots coming at a bit of a premium this year due to the brand split, this could be an interesting thing to see play out.
    And again, I reiterate: Steve Austin entered himself in the 2003 Royal Rumble way back on the first RAW after the 2002 Royal Rumble last year... is that also a binding contract?
  • NWA-TNA returns to kick off it's third "phase" tonight... after two sets of 13 consecutive weeks of shows, the group is poised to unleash a new entrance set and has a ton of new faces to work into the mix after December 18's live show.
    The Road Warriors and David Flair were both surprises on that show, and could be back as TNA tries to fend off the onslaught of Vince Russo's "Sports Entertainment Xtreme" faction.  That factional war seems to be the key issue controlling TNA at this point.  Or at least, it encompasses most of the key players, including Jeff Jarrett (opponent of SEX) and AJ Styles (newest member of SEX).
    In addition to the as-yet-unplanned shenanigans involving those top players, these matches are scheduled for tonight: Sonny Siaki vs. Jason Cross for the X Title, Kid Kash/EZ Money vs. David Young/Tony Mamaluke, and the Disciples of the New Church vs. Storm/Harris for the NWA Tag Titles. 
    OO will have a full recap of the TNA PPV tomorrow, courtesy of an all new, super-secret recapper.  
  • And with that, I'm outta here till Friday...  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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