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SD!, TNA/Raven, and Other 
Weekend News
January 31, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Attention all five-star high school basketball prospects!  Ignore what you may have read, because the Olsen Twins ARE enrolling at the University of Dayton.  Wouldn't you just love to become a Dayton Flyer (currently 14-3 and the last undefeated team in the A-10, returning 4 of 5 starters next year, and looking to reload for 2004-5), winning major championships on the court, and then picking up extremely rich and famous twins (probably at Timothy's) off of it?  Of course you would...

And hey, LeBron James:  we can put a price (say, $50,000?) on the Hummer you got last month, but just try to put a dollar figure on the ones you might get if you spent four years enrolled at UD with the Olsen Twins.... 

Ah, who the hell am I kidding?

And now for something completely different:

  • Last night's SmackDown! was really good TV.  Probably my most favorite two contiguous hours of rasslin' of the young year...  let's break it down, in chronological order:
    A-Train's show-opening win over Rey Mysterio was the night's low point; and as baffling as the finish may be to fans in the know (information hinting that A-Train is not very entertaining is being kept strictly under wraps, you see), it was still a fast-paced match, and Rey is the right kind of guy to make A-Train look as good as possible.
    Eddie Guerrero's win over John Cena was a really good match, and it had great heat, too.  Cena's raps have yet to grow stale (kudos to whoever, beyond Cena, is involved in preparing those), and drew monster heat.  And somehow, the mullet-free Eddie is now a huge babyface.  About 6 minutes and good stuff all the way through.
    Billy Kidman's successful CW title defense against Shannon Moore was another really good 6-minute-ish match.  Post-match, Matt Hardy dismissed his MF'er and attacked Kidman, which should set up a Cruiserweight Title feud that might actually have some sizzle (since Hardy is pretty over as a heel).
    Vince's anti-Hogan promo was maybe a bit old school and obvious... but so is Hogan, so somehow it really clicked.  The crowd was way into it, and all over Vince's ass, anyway.  Then it got really good when Vince intro'ed the Rock "live via satellite."  Rock was perfect in doing subtle heel things, while keeping all his catchphrases/cheap pops intact.  I, for one, am very happy that the Fed made this call and had the Rock put his skills to use for the powers of evil.  Rock vs. Hogan is now official for No Way Out...
    Oh, wait, I lied about the night's low-point, because that was actually next:  Bill DeMott used the ropes for illegal leverage to get a pinfall over Rikishi in their "rubber match," which was the half-assed motivation for having this match.  Crowd didn't seem to care, and neither did I.
    Undertaker hit the ring next, and tried calling out the Big Show (who was given the night off by Paul Heyman).  Instead, Heyman appeared, and said he had a message for Taker from the Big Show.  In singing telegram form.  [Big ups to Tazz for hitting the "Candygram for Mongo" line!]  Brian "Spanky" Kendrick was duped into delivering the telegram, and wound up getting the Last Ride for his troubles.  Maybe a bit pointless, but really funny, nonetheless...
    And the main event was outstanding:  Team Angle beat Chris Benoit and Edge to become #1 tag team contenders in a 20 minute match.  Just spectacular work all around, as Benjamin and Haas have started to develop some heel charisma of their own (not just relying on Angle's), which added to the sizzle factor of the match.  Angle himself spent the first half of the match on commentary, then started trying to interfere.  Eventually, it was Angle blasting Benoit with the WWE Title belt that allowed Benjamin to score a pinfall for his team.  And as awesome as this match was, it sets up Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros for NEXT week, which should be just as good.
    Like I said, I have a hard time finding much of anything critical to say about last night's show.  A blow-away 20-minute main event, supported by two really good 6-minute TV specials and a pair of entertaining promos/skits, with the night's lowest points coming in the night's shortest two segments?  That's a recipe that I likes...
  • Overnight rating for SD! was a 4.4, which is down nearly a half-point from last week's overnight.  However, since overnight's only rate top markets -- and since the UPN affiliate in DC pre-empted SD!, which would have a significant impact on total viewership in those top markets -- we might not see too big of a drop off once final ratings are released by Monday.
  • Vince Russo and NWA-TNA are really keeping the heat on in terms of delivering surprises week after week.  In some ways, it seems like a bit of a throw-everything-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks kind of philosophy, but it is having a positive impact on viewership:  since starting with the SEX storyline in December, TNA's audience has grown by about 25%.
    This week's surprises were Tony Schiavone appearing as a pro-Russo, pro-SEX heel interviewer and the Rock 'n' Roll Express appearing as... well, as the Rock 'n' Roll Express, but as heels aligned with Russo and SEX.
    Schiavone as a heel is perfect, since he can play off the lingering loathing that many fans felt towards him and his hyperbole-laden announce style...  but the R'n'R's?  Their explanation that they were the first real Sports Entertainment tag team (with rock music and lighting and pyro) was good enough to justify their alignment with SEX.  But they aren't exactly intimidating as heels.  And plus:  as long as they are heels, we will not be able to see Ricky Morton playing Ricky Morton!
  • It was expected that Raven would also cut a promo talking about WWE and his departure from it on Wednesday's TNA PPV...  but the story now is that Raven had to sign a sort of gag order that legally prevents him from talking publicly about his feelings towards WWE.  It was a condition of his release, which now appears to be something that was asked for by Raven, or at the very least, a mutual decision.  I mean, I don't think WWE could have fired Raven and then told him, on top of that, that he couldn't bad mouth them.
    Instead, Raven's focus Wednesday was on Jeff Jarrett and the NWA Title.  Which, if you ask me, is where it should be.  Instead of burdening us with quasi-shoot crap, Russo had to tell a wrestling storyline... and with good results.  It now looks like we've got a cool three-way feud for the NWA Title, with Jarrett being chased by Raven and AJ Styles.
  • I said on Wednesday that Rhyno is expected back soon, and that he'll probably be joining the RAW roster... well, a bit of confirmation along those lines:  Rhyno is scheduled to start RAW brand house shows in mid-February.  On at least two cards, he's teaming up with Batista against Kane/RVD, which leads one to wonder if maybe he'll be another cog in the Triple H and his Band of Sycophants faction.
  • There are more rumors going around about possible plans for The Rock...  by now, everybody's heard the one about the Rock and Goldberg being the Fed's "dream scenario" for WrestleMania.  But since they are no closer to finalizing a deal for Goldberg than there were a month ago, the window is closing on that plan.
    An alternate scenario now making the rounds is that Vince McMahon will be used as the lynchpin in a storyline that would lead to the Rock vs. Steve Austin at WM19.  Vince is already using the Rock as his hired good against Hogan, and he seems poised to get his hands dirty on the RAW brand as the Bischoff-gets-fired/Austin-returns storylines coincide, so it would make sense if Vince wound up at odds with Austin and had to again use the Rock as his muscle.
    My only problem with that is that it leaves the RAW brand World Title in a very abysmal place... at least HHH vs. Austin would have some cache.  HHH vs. anybody else -- considering the card the Fed is putting together for Mania -- would be lucky to get fourth-from-the-top billing.
    Another big loser in all this:  Chris Benoit.  They want us to accept him as the #3 babyface on all of SD!, but he'll have nothing interesting to do come Mania. I mean, another killer tag title match (Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros vs. Benoit/Edge, maybe?) is all well and good, but c'mon...  why not go with Rock vs. Benoit if Goldberg doesn't pan out?  The match would be super, but the story could really click, too, with Rock playing his "Who the hell are you, you little no-charisma-having midget" card up against Benoit's "While you were eating strudel in your trailer in Hollywood, I've been kicking ass here for 8 months, you jackass" card.  [Taker, BTW, is your #2 SD! babyface whether you like it or not.  But you basically just want to put him in there with some big guy who seems kind of threatening, but who, ultimately, will do the J-O-B so Taker can stay undefeated at Mania... Big Show will do, if you ask me.  And in my Rock vs. Benoit scenario, your tag title match becomes Team Angle vs. Guerreros vs. Edge/Rey, which is another dandy.]
    But I'm really digressing, now...  my point was that the Fed hasn't yet gotten any real good sign that they should expect to have Goldberg at WM19, and that will have trickle-down effects on the rest of the card.
  • On Wednesday, I talked about WWE going forward with litigation against Lewmar Inc. in the case of Owen Hart's death...  the company had been dismissed from the original suit, but a new court ruling made it possible for the Fed to seek some compensation, since they wound up being solely responsible for the $18 million settlement.
    Of that $18 million, however, the Fed's insurance covered about $10...  and I erroneously speculated that the Fed might end up making money on the deal if they actually won the full $18 million they are seeking from Lewmar.  I have been assured by those in the legal profession that WWE's insurance company would have something called a "subrogation lien" against any compensation the Fed gets from Lewmar.  WWE only stands to regain what they paid out, and depending on how liable Lewmar is found to be, additional moneys will go towards compensating the Fed's insurance company.
    So my apologies for suggesting that the Fed might be morbidly looking to profit, years after the fact, from Owen's accidental death...
  • And with that, I'm done for this week.  See you again on Monday...  if you feel like coming back, anyway.  I'll be here, regardless.



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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