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ONLINE ONSLAUGHT
Raven/Credible, RAW, and Lots More...
January 22, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

No lack of stuff to talk about today, so let's dispense with the pleasantries and get on with it:
  • For starters, if you want spoilers for tomorrow's SmackDown! (as well as Heat and Velocity), they are right here.
     
    But I'm warning you:  this might be a week when you'd rather not know what's coming.  My advice is to just watch tomorrow and be surprised.
     
    But I know you'll read 'em, anyway.  Bastards! 
     
  • Both Raven and Justin Credible were released from WWE over the weekend, and the announcement was made on Monday.
     
    In the case of Credible, I can't feign too much surprise.  On his own in the mid-90s WWF, he was a solid worker, but without any particular flair or charisma that would allow him to get noticed.  As the pet project of Paul Heyman in ECW during the '98-2001 era, he was pushed really hard, really fast, and for that reason, was accepted as a major player despite not really taking the time to develop the aforementioned personality that underlies most top stars' fan acceptance.  Justin probably didn't have a shot at anything other than getting lost in the shuffle once back on the ultra-deep WWE roster.  His release will re-open the possibility of being a bigger fish in a smaller pond.
     
    Raven, on the other hand, had tons of untapped potential.  He can work, and it could be argued he's even better at talking.  He even just changed his whole look/gimmick to be more "traditional," which seemed to be foreshadowing a renewed push in WWE (especially after he won his way back onto the RAW roster).
     
    As the leader of the Brood/Flock, Raven was probably at his most useful: a heel who could talk a good enough game that it was reasonable that he could control the minds of those around him, and use them to bring honors and accolades to himself.  It was a perfect cycle of helping to elevate others around him, and then getting to feud with them once they realized he was a con artist.  At no point did WWE ever try to capitalize on that vibe; instead, they just tried to tell us, "Hey, this guy's wacky."  Giving him other characters to interact with and show that mysterious/dark side would have been far more effective.
     
    In any case, my belief that Raven could have been a very successful and integral player in WWE does not change the fact that now he can go and be successful somewhere else.  He owns the gimmick, and could easily take it to TNA or WWA or wherever.
     
    Of course, I'm probably just saying all that nice stuff to try to make up for the fact that I got verbally reamed by Raven back 2 years ago, and I desperately want to get on the guy's good side.
     
  • Going back to Monday's RAW...  some really good stuff, some really bad stuff, and some stuff that will simply need a bit more time before a verdict can be handed down.
     
    On the good side:  I loved the bit with the Dudleys, Chief Morley, and William Regal/Lance Storm.  That's pure heel gold, if you ask me.  You could probably guess that the creative process started with this being a more typical "Dusty Finish" type deal, where Morley just reversed the decision... but then they put a little more thought and effort into it, and the result was well worth it.  Regal/Storm regain the titles in a 10 second match that was 100% legit.  Even if the antics that went on prior to it were just about as diabolical as you could imagine.  Rag on the (lack of) heat generated by Storm and Regal all you want, but it's putting together a month or two of stuff like this and the thing they had with JR/Lawler that will get fans responding to them.
     
    Also good:  The start of a petulant brat heel turn by Jeff Hardy.  He simply doesn't have the foundation to do a more verbally-based heel gimmick like Matt, but he does have something just as valuable: most non-teenage-girl wrestling fans only put up with his artsy nutjob tendencies when he was having killer matches.  Now, he flubs a few spots, and everybody who's not a teenage girl overcompensates by despising what an artsy weirdo he is.  I don't know what circles you folks move in, but I know a few of these flaky, flamboyantly creative types who think they're all superior just because they're creative, and I could find it really easy to forge a heel wrestling gimmick out of that archetype.  Hell, I saw a bit of Heat (I don't remember, but it was not more than 3 weeks ago) where Jeff prefaced a match with some poetry that left me wondering "What in the blue frick was THAT supposed to be?" which is exactly the kind of thing that could work great.  Bad poetry in lieu of real promos, cheating to win, temper tantrums after losses... it could work.
     
    The bad:  the whole bit with Stacy/Jericho/Test.  I know Stacy's a really pretty girl, and I should feel worse when she gets hurt than when one of these big hulking men gets a boo-boo.  But I'm not sold on doing one of these "this injury is more real than all those other ones you've seen in the last six months" angles with a marginally important character.  Stacy getting hurt "for real" and then coming back doesn't set up a marketable PPV match; it doesn't make any money.  It's pointless to blow one of your twice-annual "shoot injury" angles on something like this.  Especially when the real focus of the segment SHOULD have been on what an asshole Jericho is.  Use the angle to get the heel over, NOT to try to sell us on the fact that a really weak-looking chairshot put Stacy in the hospital.  Jericho should have kept the "it was just an accident" part of his shtick, but then insisted that one of the ref's get in the ring and count Test out while he did his over-acting.  Jericho stands in the ring until he gets the count-out win and gets his hand raised.  THAT would have been something interesting to do, instead of trying to oversell the injury as more real than the rest of the show.  Then Test can blubber like a girl this week, and in the future try to get his revenge on Jericho as Jericho marks time before moving full speed ahead with a one-on-one feud with Michaels for WrestleMania.  Now, when they do the next phase of Test vs. Jericho, Jericho's got no heat because he "broke character" too much by just walking away like it really was "more real" than the rest of the show, and Test is... well, he's the guy who did some serious over-acting as part of an injury angle and who probably doesn't have much in the way of sympathy from most fans.
     
    Also bad:  Steve Austin is invited back.  But not for five more weeks.  Look, I understand going with a "slow burn" and not shooting your load too soon.  But invoking the name of Austin, arousing the interest of both the TV and the live audiences, and then saying "Oh, but he won't even be here until the next PPV," is not gonna endear you to anyone.  The way to play it: Austin's in the building on Monday, he comes out when Bischoff invites him, and instead of saying a single word, he just stunners Bischoff, drinks some (non-alcoholic) beer, and leaves.  Crowd's happy, but nothing is even close to resolved.  For a couple week's Austin is just "via satellite" or mails in taped messages talking about how he doesn't like Bischoff (they could re-hash WCW, circa 1995, to satisfy the smarks, too).  Bischoff invites Austin to the last RAW before the PPV (which we'll somehow also turn into Bischoff's last night before his "30 days" expires via a stay of execution or something), saying he's willing to put the past behind him and offer Austin a lucrative contract.  Austin stunners Bischoff again, says he won't sign, but that he'll do something big at the PPV, and then come to RAW the next night.  And if Bischoff still wants him then, he'll sign a contract.  See: you keep the people who want the surprise Right Now happy, but you build up so that there's a reason to see what Austin will do at the PPV.  Plus: if Austin doesn't show up till No Way Out, what the hell good does it do for Bischoff, anyway?  He's only got until February 12 (probably augmented to Feb. 10's RAW) to turn RAW around, by Vince's edict.  The colossal tease makes no sense from that perspective, too.
     
    [In my scenario, Austin would run-in and spoil the sure-to-be-shitty HHH/Steiner rematch, leaving both men lying, and then getting on the mic to say that he's World Title material, and he wants a shot at the Champ at WrestleMania, and that's the only way he'll come back to RAW.  Next night, Vince appears, and replaces Bischoff (who was deemed ineffective in his attempt to shake up RAW) with his son Shane, who he orders NOT to bring back Austin.  HHH also campaigns to NOT sign Austin, but Shane says "Screw you guys."  He signs Austin and grants the WM Title Shot.  Bischoff would apologize for Vince for trying to bring back Austin, and Vince would commiserate with him since both got burned by Austin, and the two would form a partnership to dick with RAW and Shane.  Then you could also use HHH vs. Steiner -- with a clean finish, finally -- as a big ratings drawing match on a live RAW, and then move on to setting up HHH vs. Austin for Mania. Steiner could also be unhappy with Austin's PPV interference, which could lay the foundation for his heel turn and a feud against Booker T, which I mentioned on Monday would be one of my ideal booking scenarios for Mania.]
     
    And in the needs more time to develop category:  Flair, HHH, Orton, and Batista punking out Steiner to close the show.  On the upside: their run-in meant the battle between December's Most Craptacular PPV Performer and January's Most Craptacular PPV Performer was cut short at about the 90 second mark (and also meant that Steiner didn't have time to start loosing his britches and go all Lita on us with his man-thong showing above his tights).  On the downside: if this leads to anything less than the actual reconstitution of the Four Horsemen gimmick, it'll probably die a slow death.  Nobody cared about Batista's involvement in Flair's little stable, and Orton's only a mild step up at this point.  But now with the magic fourth member of the group, they can invoke the Horsemen name...  or if Flair's just a manager, they might still need one more.  Might I suggest someone who is regarded as more of a wrestler, and less of a big, ripped guy?
     
    Also needing more time:  D'Lo Brown and Teddy Long playing the race card.  It's so passť to get pissed about doing the gimmick on Martin Luther King day that I won't even get into that issue.  Symbolism, schmymbolism: it's just as right or wrong on January 20 as it is any other day of the year.  Since "any other day of the year," I'd probably grant this one a free pass on the grounds that (so far) it seems like a RACIAL (but not RACIST) gimmick, I'm just gonna say, "Let's see where they go with this one."  Something I might suggest: a "recruitment drive" by D'Lo and Teddy where he gets spurned by Booker T, leading to a feud culminating at No Way Out.
     
  • There is no rating for RAW available at this point, due to delays stemming from the MLK holiday.  I'll have it to you in Friday's update, for certain.
     
  • A Missouri judge has made a ruling that will allow WWE to pursue a lawsuit against manufacturers of the rigging that was used in the accident that resulted in Owen Hart's death.
     
    Lewmar, Inc., which manufactured some of the equipment used in the ill-fated stunt, was actually dismissed from the case by the Hart family and their lawyers (Kansas City personal injury specialists Robb and Robb).  A Kansas City Star report indicates that a judge has now ruled that the Hart family and/or their lawyers may have "engaged in fraud, collusion, or tortious conduct" by dismissing Lewmar in favor of pursing WWE as the solely responsible party.
     
    WWE, who has always contended that Lewmar was also accountable in the accident (and more accountable than WWE, at that), now has the option of pursuing damages directly from Lewmar.
     
    You can get a detailed report on the whole situation right here.
     
  • Jesse Ventura has reportedly finalized a deal to host a talk show on MSNBC... ads will be filmed this coming weekend, and the show will begin airing during February sweeps.  No precise details about the format or schedule of the show are available, presently, but this does sound like the perfect venue for Jesse to shine with his "tell it like it is" gimmick.
     
  • In addition to leaving Chris Jericho with a bloody, third-eye-esque knot on his head, Tommy Dreamer's wild cane shots at the Royal Rumble also left Bill DeMott with an arm injury.  The injury was not thought to be that severe according to one source, but then DeMott did show up at SD! tapings last night wearing a cast, so....
     
  • Lastly today, a quick preview of tonight's NWA-TNA PPV...  they are going full-speed ahead with Vince Russo's SEX faction attempting to wrest control of the group away from traditionalists.  Last week, it was Dusty Rhodes appearing on behalf of the old timers, only to be countered by a surprise appearance by his old nemesis-turned-partner Nikita Koloff, who sided with Russo's group.  Both Dusty and Koloff are expected back tonight.
     
    This week, Roddy Piper (representing the old guard) will appear in a taped segment, which he has promised in radio interviews will be even more controversial than his last one.  And Vince Russo has promised another surprise that should be huge and will directly impact Jeff Jarrett.
     
    The focus tonight seems to be on these shock elements, as no matches have been officially announced on TNA's website.  I'm sure that, despite the lack of confirmed contests, they'll feature some of the tried and true X Division talent that make their shows so uniquely enjoyable.  Then again, their buyrates from December to the present have been the highest the group has seen, so clearly people are tuning in for Russo's more shoot/shock Crash TV style...
     
    In any case, we'll have a recap for you here on OO tomorrow.
     
  • See you folks again on Friday with news and opinion....  

E-MAIL RICK SCAIA
BROWSE THE OO ARCHIVES

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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