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The Diabolical Mind of Vince... Plus
Other Monday Newsbites
January 13, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This should -- by all rights -- be a huge week for pro wrestling fans.  We're into the last few days before the Royal Rumble (often considered the favorite gimmick match of many fans, and thus a hugely entertaining PPV event), and on top of that, this week, we celebrate the 10th Anniversary of RAW.

Let's get to it:

  • Tonight, it's just business as usual for Monday Night RAW... well, sort of.  They gotta tell their stories and get everything in place for Sunday's PPV.
    But for some reason, they've gotta do it with Vince McMahon in attendance.
    Vince, who has been pretty much hands-off since appointing his general managers back in July, will be making an on-air appearance tonight.  That revelation, made last week, greatly concerned RAW boss Eric Bischoff.
    Why would Bischoff be worried?  Well, Vince could pull the plug on his reign over RAW, I guess...  certainly, Sleazy-E's announcement that he was going to make 2003 "The Year of Bischoff" could have put Vince a bit out.  So Vince might be showing up to amplify the point that Bischoff's job is to make RAW the best, most successful show it can be.  And not to put himself over.
    Or, of course, it would just be smark nature to wonder if the timing of Vince's rare TV appearance and simultaneous rumors about returns/debuts from the Rock, Steve Austin, or others is coincidence or not...
    But perhaps it'll be best to just sit back and let Vince tell us why he's back on our TVs after a six month absence.
    Elsewhere on RAW, I think there's still a lot of work to be done in terms of getting Triple H and Scott Steiner's feud to the point where it feels PPV-ready.  If anything, last week's posedown as a step backwards, at least for me.  I also remain unsold on the duo's ability to deliver in the ring come Sunday, but that's another matter entirely.  With Triple H now back in action after a mild quad injury, hopefully they can do something reasonably physical and compelling to add intrigue to their PPV match.
    Beyond that, we also know that William Regal vs. Jerry Lawler will be a match tonight.  Regal's still salty about losing in that tag match to Lawler and JR, and Lawler's only rubbed the salt into that open wound during last week's telecast.
    From there, my guess is that tonight we'll get a kind of sorting out process, as we find out who gets tossed into the Rumble match, and who might get reserved for other contests at the Rumble PPV.  Off the top of my head, I'd figure that Regal/Storm vs. the Dudleys is something you could do separate from the Rumble.  A women's title match would fit that mold, too.  Along with the Steiner/HHH match, that should fill up RAW's alotment, and everybody else could just go straight into the Rumble.
    We'll see what happens tonight on RAW... or at the very least, you'll be able to catch up on RAW by coming back here to OO tomorrow!
  • Speaking of the Rumble match, many readers are writing in worried about something that was apparently said on weekend syndicated shows:  that the Rumble match would be resorting to 60-second intervals.
    Traditionally, two minute intervals have been used in the Rumble match.  Not only does it extend the match so that there is genuine endurance needed if you're unlucky enough to draw an early number (witness Ric Flair in 1992), but it also greatly helps with pacing so that the ring doesn't just fill up with wrestlers, creating a generic battle royal feel.
    The year Shawn Michaels drew #1 and lasted the entire Rumble to win it (I want to say that one was '95, but it might have been '96) was the only year WWE ever used 60-second intervals.  Though he won from the #1 spot, he was only in the ring for about 30 minutes; contrast with Flair's '92 run, when he drew #3, but still had to last for about 60 minutes to win it.  The Fed has also used 90-second intervals at least once or twice, and has fudged on 2-minute intervals before, too.
    I'd be as upset as anyone if the Rumble was down to 60 second intervals this year.  It simply isn't the same match if you water it down that much... but I temper that potential frustration with the simple observation that, in the past 3 or 4 years, we've always gotten these varied mixed signals in the days leading up to the Rumble match.  Yes, the Fed may toy with 60-second intervals, but they haven't actually resorted to using them since way back 7 or 8 years ago.  I have faith that once they have a better idea of the final format of the PPV and all, they'll give us at least 90-second intervals....
    And hopefully, the full 2 minutes.
    One other theory that somebody mentioned to me:  that they really will go with 60-second intervals because it's the easiest way to have to first two guys into the Rumble (presumably Michaels and Chris Jericho?) last all the way to the end.  I, personally, wouldn't doubt either man's ability to go 60 minutes (especially with some well-scripted breaks in there) any more than I'd doubt his ability to go 30, so I don't necessarily buy that one....
  • Bill Goldberg's meeting last week with Vince McMahon in California didn't result in any major developments.  From all accounts, the two basically agreed to continue a dialogue:  they reached no major impasses, nor did they finalize a deal to turn a rumored Rock/Goldberg match at WM19 into a reality.
    Essentially, with this first major hurdle passed, what this will come down to is how much WWE is willing to offer Goldberg in terms of money and a lightened schedule.  Goldberg has evidence of his "market value" in the form of a big money contract to work limited dates in Japan; he would have no reason to work for WWE if the money and number of dates weren't to his liking.  He can probably live quite comfortably working six times a year in Japan.
    Perhaps if Vince could sell Goldberg on rebuilding his legacy -- a legacy that was eroded in the dying days of WCW -- he'd have a chance of securing Goldberg at a reasonable price...
  • Bret Hart's appearance on the Wrestling Observer Live show this weekend saw Bret openly admit to his own face-to-face meeting with Vince McMahon.
    Previously denying such a meeting, Bret said that he and Vince buried the hatchet during their shared time in Florida last month.  Bret was granted rights to old WWF photos, and was also presented with another opportunity to return to WWE, if he chose to do so.
    Bret said he was not against making a special appearance, but that he had no desire to be a part of storylines or anything like that.  
    This is certainly a full about-face from past statements out of Hart's camp.  He also significantly softened his position as it regards the death of Owen; he seemed to have accepted the accident, and recanted some of the things that circulated about Owen hating wrestling and the WWF in the months after his death.
    Beyond that, Bret talked about his hope to compile a DVD of his career highlights (again, he hopes for cooperation from WWE on this), his writing of several books, and his recovery from a stroke (he's feeling much better but does not think he's 100% yet).
  • The final rating for last week's SmackDown! came in at 3.4.
    Though the show is not performing as well as it once did, it remains UPN's most reliable ratings performer, as well as its most profitable show.
    A recent shake-up at UPN has resulted in a couple of articles on the network making the entertainment wire, and all of them mention the performance of SD! as one of the network's real assets.
    From that perspective, rumors that SD! would be cancelled or pared down to one hour seem ludicrous, though at least one article did mention that UPN's new boss was frustrated with the inability to transfer the audience from one night to another.  WWE's audience, in other words, is not of as much value to UPN if they can't be coaxed into watching other UPN shows...
  • TNN also has a new boss, and according to wire reports, the plan is to morph TNN into a network aimed at young males.  WWE programming, of course, fits into that strategic plan perfectly.
  • WrestleMania tickets "officially" went on sale to the public on Saturday, and appear to be sold out.  Not even single seats or obstructed view seats can be purchased online, anyway...
    Based on my own observations during the "pre-sale" last week, I'd guess over 15,000 seats were bought before tickets even officially went on sale.  That would leave only about 35,000 to be sold on Saturday/Sunday, leaving us with a sold-out Safeco Field today...
    The Fed will be adding a few more seats, I'm sure, as they home in on the final configuration for the building... but I'm just as sure that you'd have to be damned lucky (or damned persistent) to manage to get your hands on those as they're released.
  • Finally for today:  RAW-X, the Tenth Anniversary Special, is shaping up like a really cool deal.  It'll be live from the World in NYC tomorrow (Tuesday) night on TNN, with all present -- and many past -- superstars in attendence.
    There will be a ton of clips featuring RAW highlights from the past 10 years, and in addition to that, there will be several awards and honors handed out by special hosts Gene Okerlund and Bobby "the Brain" Heenan.  Heenan's participation will mark his first real public appearance since he was diagnosed with and began treatment for throat cancer last year, and is quite fitting, as he was one-third of the original commentary crew for RAW.  Vince McMahon is also certain to be present, though one has to wonder if Rob Bartlett got a call to join his mates...
    The awards include such honors as RAW Superstar of the Decade, Diva of the Decade, and things like Greatest Match and Greatest Moment.  If RAW Retro clips so far are any indication, they're giving equal time to guys (and girls) currently off the roster as they are to active stars...  certainly, it seems like Rena "Sable" Mero was featured in an inordinate number of the clips I've seen in the last month or two!
    It leads me to wonder just what criteria will be used in naming winners.  Does being on the roster really matter?  Or does just being willing to comeback for a one-night special appearance suffice?
    Or:  do you choose these award winners based on wins and losses? Or based on participation in key moments?  Or longevity?  Or what?  It'll be tough to pare 10 years down to a couple of moments and a handful of award winners, that much is for certain... and no matter who gets selected, there will be much debate in the wake of RAW-X.
    My own thoughts on Superstar of the Decade:  this one probably comes down to either Steve Austin or Triple H, if you ask me.  Austin's signature moments have almost all come on RAW: the stuff with Tyson, stunning Vince, beer trucks, cement mixers, what have you.  HHH, starting with his run in DX and up through his present status as top heel, has been important to a lot of key RAW memories, too.  Austin also owns an impressive .667 winning percentage in 120 RAW matches (second only to RVD among wrestlers with more than 50 RAW matches), so I probably give him the nod.  Runners-up:  the Rock and Mick Foley (both as opponents and as partners, they were important to many of each other's highlights, and were vital parts of RAW when it was really hitting on all cylinders).
    As for Diva of the Decade...  it's hard not to vote for Tammy "Sunny" Sytch.  But it's also hard to tell if she really was that good -- that hot, that charismatic -- or if she had the benefit of being a lone diva, instead of one of a dozen women on the roster at any given time.  Regardless, I'll always fondly remember those Sunny Days, when the "who's the best wrestling babe?" debate really only including one name... the only competition would come from Trish Stratus, who augments the requisite exceptional good looks with the singular most impressive in-ring performance record among all divas.  She's the only woman on the "50 or more matches" list, and ranks 19th on that list with a .544 winning percentage in 68 matches; Lita -- had she not been injured last year -- might have given Trish a run for the money in that category, and would have gotten the "intangibles" nod over Trish due to her spot-tastic offensive arsenal.  Those three would be the only ones I'd consider for the award... just please:  not Sable or Chyna.  We don't need to signal to fans that being naked and plastic are the most important characteristics of being a diva; I mean, those traits are all well and good, but there have been more multi-dimensional women on the roster that I'd honor first.
    By the way, if you're interested in doing more of your own stats work with RAW win/loss records, you can download this spreadsheet, featuring the complete records of all 445 men and women who have competed on RAW.  I've got win percentage and total matches listed, as well, and it's broken down into three sheets (all 445 wrestlers, wrestlers with over 20 RAW matches -- weeds out the jobbers -- and wrestlers with over 50 RAW matches -- surprisingly there are only 49 of these super-veterans).  I suggest you right click on the link above and do a "Save As"...
    The spreadsheet is based on the data from Supermercado's fine Special Feature (just with a few alternate identities and whatnot molded into single entries).  Any errors in transcribing his data into the spreadsheet are mine alone, so let me know if you spot mistakes.
    Have fun with it!
  • And with that, I'm done for today.  Spoilers for SD! have already been posted, so when I see you again on Wednesday, it'll be with just RAW fall-out, news from RAW-X and elsewhere, and other tidbits of info and opinion...


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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