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Weekend Newsbites
February 7, 2003

by Rick Scaia
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com


Hey, I had to help with "Crashing the Boards" this week... so that'll be my excuse if today's column ends up shorter than usual.  Oh, and also:  there just really isn't a whole lot of important news to talk about.  If you actually give a damn about half-assed rumors about who's getting a haircut and why, well, I encourage you to try another website.

But this here's my stompin' grounds.  And I only talks about what I thinks is important:

  • Last night's SmackDown! was just about a perfect blueprint for how to do a show that gives just about everybody what they want.  Outstanding mix of wrestling and entertainment, if you ask me.
    Now, mixing the two together the way they did is sure to annoy workrate fans who would have preferred if the tag title match and main event had each gotten 20 minutes of TV time.  But for me, two really superb 10 minute matches is nothing to complain about.  And the promos/skits were uniformly good, too.
    From the wrestling perspective, the aforementioned two matches were obviously the highlights.  Team Angles tag title win over Los Guerreros was solidly paced, with the cool amateur style wrestling at the start, leading up to a fast-paced and hot second half.  And actually, this was the longer of the two matches, probably more like 12-14 minutes, if you count the commercial break.  Putting Team Angle over the way they did was a good move, too:  they didn't really cheat so much as they were more aware of the situation than Eddie was.  The legal man caught Eddie by surprise.  It's a "cheap" enough win to seem realistic (rookies over established vets is, otherwise, a long shot) and set up rematches (Eddie can be frustrated that he made a mistake, and promise not to make it again), but not so cheap that it undermines the legitimization/push of Team Angle.
    The Benoit/Angle main event... well, what can I say?  Ten minutes of why I like pro wrestling.  Crisp, realistic-looking ultra-violence!  I think it's clear that Benoit has reached a plateau of sorts, since the story-telling at this time of the year is building more and more to Angle/Lesnar.  But every time he goes on TV, and has a match like this against Angle, he's building a resume for this summer, when storylines will open back up, and maybe there will be a spot for him to chase the title more seriously.
    The finish, with Team Angle coming out to attack Benoit, leading to Edge and Brock Lesnar making a save, sets up a cool possibility for the PPV:  since Hogan/Rock will be the SD! brand "main event," you could lump these six together for a Angle/Haas/Benjamin vs. Benoit/Edge/Lesnar match that would kick a thousand kinds of ass.  While doing a big match like that wouldn't work so well as a main event, it's perfect to showcase these six lower on the card.  Plus, it gives you your tease of Angle vs. Lesnar and a reprise of Angle/Benoit all in the context of a match that is 100% fresh and unique.  Only downside:  a Team Angle vs. Los Guerreros rematch on PPV would also kick ass, and you wouldn't be able to do that if you go with the six man plan.
    Rey/Noble and Hardy/Kidman were both solid, too, if significantly shorter.  I find myself hoping that the promise of Matt Hardy to "cut weight" and take Kidman's Cruiserweight Title ends up elevating said title, rather than being a demotion for Hardy... similarly, I hope that this (combined with last squash at the hands of Albert) doesn't mean Rey is going to become a strictly CW wrestler.  Didn't his tag work and feud against Angle prove he's more versatile than that?
    From a storytelling perspective, man, I'm telling you that the stuff with The Rock and Hogan was gold.  I am not surprised that the Rock is making such an entertaining heel, nor am I surprised that the fans are treating him as such; I mean, I've only been saying that a heel turn would suit Rocky best for the better part of a year.  That he's doing it and has the fans turned against him was exactly what I would have anticipated.  But that said, my lack of surprise is no reason to not praise the Rock for delivering the goods.  In the same way he turned things around when he created "The Rock" from the ashes of pure-vanilla Rocky Maivia, he's taken his annoying, jimmy-leg-having, too-clever-for-his-own good babyface shtick of last summer and turned it into the perfect arrogant heel character.  And the "exchange" with Hogan was so well put together that I wasn't even thinking about how the bit was obviously pre-taped; it flowed naturally enough, and came across great.
    Neither Sean O'Haire inducing Brian Kendrick to mimic the Nike streaker commercial nor Brother Love revisiting his role as Undertaker first manager will go down as important or memorable moments, storywise...  but both were really fun bits.  And hell, by keeping Big Show away from Taker like this, they're probably going to succeed in doing something I would have thought impossible:  they're going to trick us into really wanting to see Big Show vs. Undertaker.  Heh.
    You can get the full details from last night's show right here.
  • The overnight rating for SD! was a 4.1, which is down three-tenths from last week's overnight number, but which was still actually good enough to move UPN up into fourth place for the night.
    We'll have to see how the rating holds up...  I'll have the final number in my Monday column.
  • The Stone Cold Steve Austin media blitz is on...  Austin, wearing a WWE t-shirt, was at ESPN headquarters yesterday, where he filmed a SportsCenter commercial (which included getting whacked with a steel chair by University of Dayton alumni Dan "Pugh" Patrick) and also taped a segment for last night's SportsCenter.
    In a Texas-themed "Fact or Fiction," Austin declared that the statement "Steve Austin will return to the WWE and win the World Title" was a FACT.  Other Facts, according to Stone Cold:  Yao Ming will be the NBA Rookie of the Year, and the Dallas Mavericks will win the NBA Title.  Fiction, according to Austin:  Bobby Knight will lead Texas Tech to the NCAA Title, and Bill Parcells will take the Cowboys to the Super Bowl next season.
    Dan Patrick actually talked about the commercial on his radio show yesterday.  Several readers mailed in to mention that Patrick got to take about 20 chairshots at Austin, who actually told Patrick to hit him harder.  Gotta make it look good!
    One can only assume that Austin also stopped by Titan Towers to finalize plans for his return to TV while he was in southwestern Connecticut...
  • Edge and Christian were spotted together during the Lightning/Maple Leafs hockey game on TV last night... announcers mentioned them, even.
    As a bone to you rumor mongers:  if you want to believe all this "wrestlers are being forced to stay in character at all times when in public" nonsense, it was posted on the OO Message Boards that Edge apparently did change seats after he realized they were on camera.  Don't know if that's true or not...
    Heels and faces, attending hockey games together?  We can't have that!
  • Despite published cards, Triple H is not expected to wrestle RAW brand house shows this weekend.  More likely, he'll again make non-wrestling appearances to set up his replacement...
  • Bull Buchanan was backstage at NWA:TNA's show this week...  no idea if that'll lead to regular work or not.  Nothing against Bull, but it does seem like TNA's got enough cooks in the kitchen at this point, and if they want to add more characters, they'd probably be better served to get more top-shelf X division workers or higher-impact veterans/free agents.
  • As expected, TNA also debuted Tenacious Z on their show this week...  why is this noteworthy?  Because the guy only has one leg.  And I was mistaken about his prosthesis:  he actually takes it off when he wrestles.  
    So much for the proverbial one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest being "proverbial."  He's real, and his name is Tenacious Z.
    And the guy can bring it, too.  Check out Damian's recap for a full report on his debut match victory of BG "Road Dogg" James.
  • And with that, I'm spent...  running on fumes...  stick a fork in me, cuz I'm done...  nothing left in the tank...  I left it all out there on the field...  I gave 110% percent...  and I won one for the Gipper.
    I'm outta here.  See you again on Monday.


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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