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RAW-Regular, RAW-X, WM19, Joe
Millionaire, and Lots More....
January 15, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Well... so far the "big wrestling week" I predicted on Monday has been kind of a let-down.  But the Rumble's still just a few days away, and that's something to look forward to.

Here's some mid-week news to tide you over:

  • RAW's Tenth Anniversary Special last night apparently came off as a huge disappointment to most fans.  Based on my in-box and the OO Forums, anyway.
    The only unexpected guest appearance came from The Rock (who was soundly booed during what was obviously a pre-taped video piece), and many award decisions seemed arbitrary (at best) or downright wrong (at worst).
    I admit I let myself get kind of excited for last night's show, and that as I watched, I felt a strong sense of "Well, this could have been a lot better."  But I also realized a couple simple things...
    First, this is the Fed's party, and they can throw it however they want.  Second, they never once told us "Hey, watch this show, because Steve Austin and Bret Hart will be there."  With the exception of the "Best Moment" award, there were no indications that awards would be given out based on what some subset of fans would appreciate... and as far as surprise guest appearances go, we worked ourselves up on that issue.
    Before I get into any specifics, let me just run down a quick list of the award winners here, since I don't remember if The Cubs Fan said he was going to supply a full recap or not:
    10.  This is Your Life, Rocky (9/27/99)
    9.  Rock has an Austin "Funeral"; Austin Appears with his
         Monster Truck to trash Rock's car (4/19/99)
    8.  RAW/Nitro Simulcast; Shane Buys WCW (3/26/01)
    7.  Mr. Socko is born; Austin attacks Vince in his
         hospital room (10/5/98)
    6.  DX Parodies the Nation of Dominaiton (7/6/98)
    5.  Mike Tyson comes to RAW; Austin Calls him out (1/19/98)
    4.  DX Declares War on WCW Nitro Taping (4/27/98)
    3.  Rock Challenges Hogan at WM18 (2/18/02)
    2.  Owen Hart Tribute Show (5/24/99)
    1.  Steve Austin Hijacks Beer Truck, Douses Vince,
         Shane, and the Rock (3/22/99)
    Diva of the Decade: Trish Stratus
    Don't Try This At Home (Most Dangerous Stunt):  Kurt  
         Angle (for Moonsault off the cage against Benoit)
    Tell Me I Didn't Just See That (Most Shocking Moment):  
         "Three Faces of Foley";  Mick debuts Cactus Jack
    Give Me the Mic Award (Best Interviewee):  The Rock
    Shut Up and Kiss Me (Best Couple):  Triple H and Stephanie 
    Network Difficulties (Most Controversial Moment):  Mae 
         Young Gives Birth to a Hand 
    Superstar of the Decade:  Stone Cold Steve Austin
    Greatest Match of the Decade:  Kane vs. Bubba/Spike Dudley
         vs. Rob Van Dam/Jeff Hardy vs. Chris Jericho/Christian
          (TLC 4, Oct. 2002)
    Where do I start?  OK, let's get this out of the way first:  I agree with Austin as Superstar of the Decade.  Hands down, he's had the most entertaining matches and segments of anyone in the last 10 years, and you could make the intangible argument that he was the guy that basically lifted RAW out of the doldrums up to the top of the world (after the then-WWF started the Stone Cold Era at WM14, it took just two weeks for RAW to end it's 80-plus long losing streak to Nitro!).
    HHH and Steph as best couple is also a no brainer, I think.  It'd also be hard to argue that the Rock hasn't been the best on the stick.  The "Don't Try This At Home" thing... well, based on the fact that I don't really remember anything better, and since it was the best of the nominated bunch, I'll go ahead and agree with Angle's moonsault off the cage, too.
    I guess I can't bitch too much about TLC4; it's probably RAW's greatest match from the "those guys almost killed themselves" perspective.  Myself, I might have given stronger consideration to older, less-spot-tastic matches that had greater significance, and that weren't just tossed together at the last second (HHH/Cactus was a good one; Michaels/Jannetty, Mankind/Rock, and of course, Austin/HHH vs. Benoit/Jericho would all have rated, too).  TLC4 just strikes me as more of Bret Hart vs. Hakushi (1995) in that it was really good, exciting, and eye-opening, but also ultimately an afterthought.
    The most controversial moment award was a freakin' joke: the retarded bit with Mae Young did not piss off one censor... it just frustrated millions of wrestling fans.  It would have been best left forgotten.  No doubt, the Pillman/Austin gun angle should have gotten this one.  If not that, then the series of crucifixions (oops, I mean "symbolfications") done by the Undertaker in '99.
    Much as I love Foley, the most shocking moment on RAW is not where I'd sneak him into the awards presentation.  The Bischoff/Vince hug, the surprise return of ECW/formation of the Alliance, and "the Kid's" upset of Razor Ramon all EASILY out-shocked the debut of Cactus Jack.
    The Top 10 Moments were ostensibly determined by the fans, so without knowing just how honest the Fed was in terms of adding up the votes, I guess my massive differences of opinion and subsequent anger and rage are to be directed at YOU (and not to Titan Tower).  With the exception of Hogan/Rock's face-to-face, you realize that every other Moment took place within a 20 month span between January '98 and September '99, right?  Trust me, 90% of RAW's best stuff did not happen during a 17% portion of the show's existence, people.
    Moments that didn't even make the list, but beyond all reasonable argument, should have:  The ECW "invasion" show at the Manhattan Center (1997)... the return of ECW and formation of the Alliance (2001)...  Mick Foley's first WWF Title win (1998)...  and the Shawn Michaels dramatic in-ring collapse; same night as Diesel's "shoot" promo on Vince (1995)...
    Moments that should have been removed to make room for these moments:  Rock/Austin monster truck bit (one moment of Austin playing with heavy machinery is enough, and everybody liked the beer truck one best of all)...  DX parodies the Nation of Domination (funny, yes, but nowhere near top 10 material)...  the Rock/Hogan face-to-face (a nice moment, but pale in comparison to the REAL moment those two had at WM18)... and This is Your Life Rocky (which was annoying and overlong in 1999, and has only been forgiven for its sins because WWE has rewritten history so that the segment ended with "Poontang your ass on outta here" -- just as The Rick said it should have the day after it aired -- instead of admitting that it dragged on for another 10 minutes of crap).
    Make those changes, and you'd have yourself a much better, more representative list of 10 great RAW moments.  Then again, I don't know if the four I added were even all on the list of nominees you could vote for, so...  eh, regardless, my list is better than your list, people!  HA!
    Ordering my 10 is a whole other headache I don't really want to get into... I know my #10 would be the Austin/Vince Beertruck incident.  And I'd probably make the ECW-at-the-Manhattan Center my #1 just because it was so unprecedented to have one promotion featured on another promotion's show (and because it was actually a really good and exciting show, all around); the Owen Hart Tribute is probably my most visceral memory of all of RAW, but I'd keep it at #2 just so my #1 could be a happy thought.  You can shuffle all the rest however you want.
    All I know is that I was left unimpressed by the award decisions and lack of past superstar appearances to give the show any kind of a special feel.
    The only unexpected appearances was probably the most-expectable one of all:  the Rock.  And he only showed up on a piece of pre-recorded tape that they tried to pretend was "live via satellite."  Happily, the live audience crucified him:  "Rocky Sucks" and "Boring" chants were heard.  I don't know if that's just because they caught on to the fact that the Rock was on tape, pretending to be live, or if they're just feeding off of the Rock's summer 2002 appearances (when he just seemed to willing to run with whatever half-assed crap material he got handed instead of making sure he was actually being funny).  It's been a damn long time since people on the internet -- including here on OO -- have started suggesting the Rock had best turn heel when he comes back from Hollywood.  But now, WWE has a shitload of evidence that we knew what we were talking about all along.
    But hey, miscalculations aside, it's like I said above:  this was WWE's party, and they threw it the way they wanted to.  They don't care if we thought it was a boring waste of 2 hours because -- and you know this is true -- they know we'll still show up the next time they throw a big shindig.
    And to be honest, for as underwhelmed as I was last night, it simply wouldn't have made a whole lot of sense for them to shoot their wad with a major surprise on a non-wrestling show airing on an off-night on free cable.  Instead, they laid a foundation for Austin coming back pissed: they got his name out there and gave him a reason to be angry.  But when he actually does come back, it'll be on a show that means something more.  Same deal could apply to any of the other "surprises" you wish you could have seen.
    Again, I've basically just spouting my opinions on last night's show, assuming you saw it for yourself.  If you didn't, you might keep an eye out, in case we do get a full recap from The Cubs Fan...
  • Monday's regular edition of RAW also didn't exactly blow anyone away.
    Another installment in the vaguely homoerotic adventures of Triple H and Scott Steiner is just about the first place you have to point in terms of What Didn't Work.  Perhaps they were already disappointed in advance due to the promised "Bench Press Contest," but the live crowd sure didn't seem all that fired up when HHH and Steiner actually got into a big ass brawl.  I know my hesitation to care comes from a long-standing concern that they won't be able to put on a really good match this Sunday; but perhaps the fans-at-large (who until Monday had still been popping huge for Steiner) finally got sick of all the non-wrestling claptrap the two have done over the last month?
    But that was really the only part of the show that I thought was weak. [Oh, wait... that women's match was a bit of a trainwreck, too. None of the girls seemed to be on the same page, and the results were not pretty.] A lot of other stuff may have been a bit predictable or unsupported by really good storytelling, but it still kept the show moving.  Case in point:  Jeff Hardy and Raven went out in a match that meant something, but that didn't seem to have been conveyed to the live crowd, not that it mattered since they just went ahead and did the obvious (Raven jobs again).
    And on the upside: Vince's appearance wound up coming off well, as he effectively shook things up and set a storyline in motion that can carry RAW for the next month.  Bischoff has got 30 days to do something spectacular with RAW, or else Shane McMahon is waiting in the wings to take over...  this, I like.  The possibilities are endless, and it's not even worth starting to enumerate them until we see where they take the storyline in the next week.  But alot of them are good.
    You can get the full results from RAW courtesy of Lee Filas.
  • The rating for RAW was a 3.9.  That's up a third of a point from last week, and is a good strong showing for WWE as they start down the homestretch of their booking year.  Monday Night Football is gone, WrestleMania's just a couple months away, so this is when they want to start building momentum.
  • Still no confirmation one way or the other as to what length the intervals will be at this Sunday's Royal Rumble... but for those of you who got worried when you heard they were announced as 60 seconds on WWE syndicated shows this weekend, just keep in mind:  Bobby Heenan was announced as being at RAW-X on "Confidential," too.  And that didn't exactly pan out.
  • There was an item in a Stamford, CT, newspaper gossip column that suggested that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon had split up over the holidays.
    I figured it was just a silly bit of rumor mongering, and after seeing Steph and HHH do their little spanking skit last night on RAW-X, I'd be inclined to wager heavily that that is precisely the case.
  • When the RAW brand tours Asia later this month -- shows in South Korea and Japan -- they'll be joined by Tajiri from the SD! roster.  In fact, Tajiri will headline the January 25 show in Tokyo, facing Triple H for the World Title.
    Way to make use of talents performing on their home turf, WWE...  the only question is whether fans will believe for one second that Tajiri might actually win!
  • Get this:  the guy who plays titular character on "Joe Millionaire" is actually a former student at the UPW (Ultimate Pro Wrestling) wrestling school.  UPW, of course, had a sort-of arrangement with WWE (that's where John Cena, for instance, got his start), and their school is very well regarded.
    As "Evan Marriott," the guy was apparently quite a promising prospect.  Now, he's an actor pretending to be a poor construction worker pretending to be a millionaire on a shitty "reality" (HA!) TV show that is twice as insulting and twice as indicative of the retardation of pop culture as any of its predecessors!  Kudos to him!
    UPW.com also reports that Midajah has reported to their training facility, with the hopes of showing up in WWE alongside Scott Steiner.
  • WWE has sold out all of the 40,000 or so tickets they released for WrestleMania 19... however, they held back on the rest of the seats, pending the final configuration of the building.  At least 10,000 more seats will be made available in another month or so, as they hope to arrange the building so that over 50,000 fans can attend.
  • Although Aussie WWE fans have lost the ability to catch WWE PPVs on TV, they will have an option this coming weekend... well, actually, with the vagaries on the international date line and all, it's next week, but...
    Village Cinemas throughout Australia will be screening the Royal Rumble on Tuesday (which is still Monday over here), at a cost of $20 (Australian dollars) per head.  
    When cinemas in Canada tried this, I gather many fans had a good time getting together in a larger group to see PPVs on big screens (except for when they got porn, instead!)... although ultimately, that plan failed since PPVs were readily available on cable, already.  

    Still, sounds like a cool break for fans down under...
  • And with that, I'm done for today...  well, not necessarily "done" (since I've still got some work to do on the Year in Review before the end of the week), but done with this column.
    Keep on enjoying said Year in Review, and come on back for a fresh OO column on Friday:  it'll be the big 'ol Royal Rumble preview edition!


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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