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HHH Out Again, RAW, Team Angle to
The Rescue, and More...
February 3, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


This is (to the best of my recollection) the fifth time since May of 2001, that I'll have opened with this same basic variation on a theme.  Let's see if you all know the words by now:
  • Triple H is going to end up missing at least 3 weeks worth of action as he recovers from a hematoma (which is a coagulation of blood following a deep bruise) in his surgically repaired left thigh.
    The condition came on briskly following last Monday's RAW, in which HHH was struck in the thigh by Rob Van Dam's elbow.  Hours later at the hotel, HHH knew something was really wrong, and spent most of the week limited to just a few degrees of motion in that leg.
    The situation is similar to what happened to HHH's right thigh in December -- which itself left HHH out of active in-ring duty for about a month -- and has alerted HHH to his susceptibility to hematomas (he'd also previously had one in December '99), a susceptibility that he's been told by doctors is most common among hockey players (though no reason for that trend was given).
    Prior to these two thigh hematomas, HHH missed about 3 weeks with a bruised throat back in November, missed almost 2 months of in-ring duty over the summer of 2002 following elbow surgery, and, of course, was gone for 7 months following the May, 2001, surgery to repair a torn quad muscle.  I know I've been very vocal in my criticism of self-important assholes who like to toss around nicknames like "Cripple H," but things like this make my position less defensible...  at the very least, I think Steve Austin (in the new RAW Mag) may be on to something when he says HHH needs to drop 25 pounds and get back to his 2000 form (when he wasn't so worried about being huge, but was, seemingly, in optimal ring shape).
    The "3 week" timetable put forth by WWE.com suggests that HHH will be back in action for the No Way Out PPV -- where he'll be facing Scott Steiner or Chris Jericho.  The level of his participation up to that point is unknown, but HHH -- only barely able to negotiate the ring steps, which despite some cynical first hand reports, appears now to be "a shoot" -- did appear at weekend house shows to do in-ring promos begging off his scheduled matches, and should be available for TV tapings between now and the PPV, too.  But you have to wonder about the value of putting a nearly immobile HHH on TV: it might be wiser to book HHH sparingly in the name of entertainment, rather than to cart him out there for obligatory segments in the name of reality.
  • Which provides as smooth a segue as I'll be able to muster into talking about tonight's RAW...
    HHH's as-yet-not-The-Horsemen faction were/are scheduled to be a big part of tonight's show.  Last week, the seeds were sown for the group to somehow meddle in the hyped Jericho vs. Steiner #1 Contender Match.  And they also stole Kane's mask, which is surely not going to go unavenged.
    Given his injury, HHH may have to delegate his logical role as the chief shit-stirrer in the making-sure-Steiner-doesn't-win operation... but Batista is the guy who took Kane's mask, so if Kane shows up tonight, his main target will be present and accounted for.  Toss in Flair and Orton for non-wrestling support, and they should still be able to get everything done.  [Oh, and let's not forget that Rhyno is on house show schedules teaming up with Batista in the next couple of weeks, either.]
    Of course, trying to figure out how HHH's injury will impact the show shouldn't really be the focal point, here.  We should be emphasizing the Chris Jericho vs. Scott Steiner #1 Contender match (with the winner facing HHH at No Way Out).  Now, I have not exactly kept my disappointment in Scott Steiner's performances so far a secret, nor have I hid my lingering dread that we might be up for a main event re-match of Steiner and HHH at NWO...  I just do not trust that Vince's fetish for big men with big money contracts will just dry up and go away overnight.
    So yes, I'm right there with all of you when you gleefully hope against hope that Jericho will get a screwjob win tonight (thanks to HHH and his Band of Sycophants), and then go on to No Way Out, in Montreal.  Or as we Americans call it: Bizzaroland.  Black is white.  Up is down.  And heel canucks are mysteriously transformed into babyfaces.  Jericho would most likely be cheered in a match against HHH, which would render it a viable match-up (unlike most every other pairing of a heel vs. heel match with a  particular geographic locale).  Hey, I LIKE that scenario.  But no amount of smart fan speculation is going to get me expecting that it's really gonna happen this way.  I'd rather expect the worst, and be pleasantly surprised if we get something other than HHH vs. Steiner v2.0.
    So:  even though it seems obvious that HHH and Co. will likely interfere in an attempt to cost Steiner the match, my own personal pessimism means that I am just as confident that we will see Test and/or Shawn Michaels make appearances to assist Jericho in losing the match.  The whole outside interference thing, then, is essentially a wash.
    Elsewhere on the show tonight:  as referenced above, Kane lost his mask. That's the second time in 10 months (last time, X-Pac stole it), but apparently, Kane has extras lying around the house, so who knows if this will actually go anywhere this time?...  Chief Morley once again managed to creatively screw over the Dudley Boyz last week, so the Duds could again be looking for revenge on Morley or revenge on Regal/Storm (and could again be faced with the reality of dealing with 3 Minute Warning, instead)...  Jeff Hardy is morphing into a sort of tantrum-having whiny-bitch of a heel; you gotta expect he randomly challenge and lose to another top face this week to continue that trend....  Jazz returned and beat the crap out of Trish last week, as expected; now we must wonder if she's going to get all pissy that it's VICTORIA who has her title AND her man (Steven Richards was seconding Jazz back when she got injured)...  and over-arching all of this:  Eric Bischoff has only one more week after tonight to save his job, so he'll be invoking the name of Steve Austin, for certain, and also trying to make it seem like he's putting together the most amazing RAW ever, probably with some gimmicky matches or something like that.
    Check it out tonight on TNN, or come on back to OO tomorrow for full coverage.
  • With HHH off weekend house shows, WWE lost their planned inter-promotional main events for RAW brand events in Minneapolis and New York City:  Brock Lesnar was to challenge HHH on those shows as a way to boost attendance for the shows in two of the Fed's strongholds.
    However, all was not lost.  Instead of interpromotional warfare, fans at MSG got a sneak peak at the expected WrestleMania 19 main event, as Lesnar wound up facing his fellow-SD! rostermate Kurt Angle.  They actually did an angle where Lesnar had to go through all of Team Angle in consecutive matches; he managed to beat all three, with the segment against Kurt being the best (but also a bit on the short side).  This was, I believe, the second official meeting of these two former amateur champs.
    In Minneapolis, they capped off the show with Lesnar taking on his former University of Minnesota teammate, Shelton Benjamin.  Again, Angle won handily.
    I'm sure it was odd to see a RAW brand show climax with SmackDown! stars stealing the show -- possible because the Fed had previously cancelled plans for SD! brand shows over the weekend -- but I'm equally sure that fans in attendance were not complaining.
  • The final rating for last week's SD! was a 3.2, down several tenths from the week before.  So do we chalk up the success two weeks ago to strong buzz about Hogan's comeback, and reduced viewership last week to no buzz about the Rock's return?  Or do we just sort of dismiss week-to-week fluctuations and try to notice longer-term trends?
    Me, I'll try and stick with the latter...
  • Are you like me?  A few years out of school, and CONVINCED that you're now getting stupider?  Well, how about a homework assignment to sharpen up the ol' noodle?  Actually, there's no college credit involved, and more than likely, you're "research" sessions on the internet will devolve into porn acquisition once you get bored about halfway through...
    Or at least, that's what'd end up happening with me.  Like I said, I'm getting stupider by the second.  I swear, I can feel it, sometimes...
    Anyway, the assignment is this, and it comes straight from WWE.com's Byte This crew of Kevin Kelly and Tom Pritchard:  they have compiled their list of the 101 most influential performers in pro wrestling history, and they want YOU to do what most of the guys in OVW could not do...  come up with a short paragraph summarizing what each of the 101 contributed during their careers, WITHOUT just cribbing from somebody's website.  They want you to read up, synthesize, and generate your own opinion on what was important about each man on the list.
    You can get the list of 101 names, along with Kevin Kelly's own instructions -- and vague references to possibly prizes -- right here.  And hey, if you do wind up submitting and entry, let me know, too...  I'd take a perverse pride in knowing somebody who reads OO was on-the-ball enough to tackle something like this!
  • Bull Buchanan recently stated in an interview that he actually asked for his release from WWE to pursue other opportunities...  which flies in the face of the conventional wisdom that he was released by WWE to open up a spot for the perceived-to-have-more-upside-potential Redd Dogg.  I don't know if Bull is just playing a political game, making sure he doesn't offend anybody in WWE, or what, but I honestly don't see him pulling a Raven (i.e. getting his WWE release and then suddenly re-appearing in the midst of a main event level storyline for NWA-TNA) with his newfound freedom...
  • Fans wondering about the real deal with regard to Nathan Jones can rest assured that WWE is only mildly exaggerating his past in prison.  For some strange reason, I just assumed that maybe Jones had done a token stint in the joint, and somehow the Fed decided to blow that way out of proportion as a way of intro'ing the guy.
    But nope...  Jones really did spend 8 years in jail starting in the late 80s.  And the "Colossus of Boggo Road" nickname really did come after he had to be moved to a different facility due to his ripping doors off hinges and only being subdued if toxic gas was used.  
    The one True Story from Jones' past the Fed probably won't be sharing:  the one where he had to have a mammary gland surgically removed after it started producing milk as a side effect of his steroid abuse.  
    You can read a ton more about Jones' past right here.

  • Bret Hart has resumed his weekly Calgary Sun column, effective this past weekend.  In his first missive to fans since his summer 2002 stroke, he basically recounts the events of his recovery so far.  He also notes that while he knows fans are hoping for his return to wrestling, he simply is not ready for that, yet.
    You can read the entire column at www.BretHart.com.
  • That's it for today....  thanks in advance to anyone who is kind enough to file first hand reports from WWE TV tapings, and to the rest of you:  see you Wednesday. 


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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